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Tyler County News - Breakout

Elementary students participate in ag education day

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Reagan Bounds with the Texas Foresty Association taught Tyler County elementary students about the process of growing trees and the by-products of tree growth, as part of the Project Learning Tree curriculum. PHOTO COURTESY OF JACOB SPIVEYReagan Bounds with the Texas Foresty Association taught Tyler County elementary students about the process of growing trees and the by-products of tree growth, as part of the Project Learning Tree curriculum. PHOTO COURTESY OF JACOB SPIVEY

By Jacob Spivey

WOODVILLE – More than 350 young people from all six elementary schools throughout the county were able to come to the Tyler County Fair Grounds for 2022 Tyler County Agriculture Education Day on Sept. 22. 

This day is sponsored by Tyler County Farm Bureau each year and invites every fourth-grade student in the county to come participate and learn about agriculture. 

This event brings together a variety of agriculture advocacy groups to showcase agriculture for young people and teach them where our food comes from.

Tyler County Farm Bureau was joined by the county FFA Chapters and the Tyler County AgriLife Extension Office in organizing the event. Chapter FFA leaders showcased their leadership skills and passion for agriculture by leading the fourth graders, as well as part of the McGee Bend District Officer team taught about agricultural products produced in Texas. In addition, Woodville FFA Member Emma McClure showcased her fallow deer project with her family’s Cypress Creek Ranch. 

Students were shown a variety of different presentations that were modeled to meet the fourth-grade science TEKS. Presentations included a Dairy Cow presentation from Southwest Dairy Raisers and Jessica Harrington, Animal Safety by the Tyler County Emergency Management Office, Tonya Sheffield. 

Game Warden Brandon Mosley presented boat safety and how to interact with a police officer. Beekeeper Cindy Derrick taught the students all about bees. Conor McInnerney and his team at Texas A&M Forest Service taught about fire safety. Courtney McInnerney Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist brought an alligator to teach students about wildlife safety. 

Tyler County Fair Board Member Joshua Johanson taught about the pork industry and how pigs go from farm to fork. Regan Bounds with the Texas Forestry Association used the Project Learning Tree curriculum to teach our students all about the biggest agriculture products in our part of the world, timber.

It can never be overstated how important it is to remember the connections we can make to agriculture, and despite the heat, the fourth graders enjoyed their day.

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Homecoming Royalty celebrated

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TCB Queens 09292022

Both Colmesneil and Woodville celebrated their respective homecomings. Colmesneil crowned its newest homecoming queen Gabby Eveland (Right), before the Bulldogs played Overton on Taylor Field. She was crowned by Sadie Calhoon, who was the 2021 queen. Over in Woodville, at Eagle Stadium, WHS senior Savannah Ludewig was crowned queen. She is shown with escort Garrett Dickens (Left). 

Colmesneil photo courtesy of Melanie Calhoon; Woodville photo courtesy of Angela Jones

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Paxton: ARPA funds akin to hazard pay

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Ken PaxtonKen PaxtonBy Chris Edwards
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AUSTIN – Last Tuesday Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion on the use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as premium pay for county officials.

Paxton’s non-binding opinion was given in response to a request made in February by Tyler County Auditor Jackie Skinner.

In his opinion, Paxton cites the Sept. 13, 2021 decision by the commissioners court to provide a one-time premium payment to county employees and county officers using the ARPA funds. Skinner’s query had cited 152.013 of Local Government Code, which requires advance public notice of salary increases, expenses or allowances of elected county or precinct officials.

Ultimately, Paxton concluded that “a court could conclude that ARPA premium pay funds are not ‘salary’ for purposes” of the cited governance code section, and was akin to hazard pay, and henceforth not subject to public notice posting.

The county received its first allotment ($2.2 million) of the ARPA monies last year and the second round in July. In total, the county received $4.2 million from the federal government, allocated through a grant program, were designated to address emergency needs relating to losses stemming from the pandemic.

All county employees were awarded premium pay from the funds, but controversy arose as to the legality of giving money to elected officials as premium pay in the form of $3,500 checks from the funds. 

According to a certification of funds statement from Skinner, the funds can be used to support public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts caused by the pandemic, replace lost public sector revenue, provide premium pay for essential workers and to invest in infrastructure.

The distribution of the funds was a hotly discussed topic on the Facebook page Concerned Citizens of Tyler County (CCTC) and a representative, Sal Baldovinos, from that page demanded, during an April meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court that the officials return the money.

Baldovinos said that in reviewing federal and state documents he’d “come up short in finding any authority to distribute [ARPA funds] to elected officials.”

Following the issuing of Paxton’s opinion last week, Neil Alderman, who is running as a write-in candidate for Tyler County Judge issued a statement.

Alderman was formerly affiliated with the CCTC page but stepped down before announcing his run for office.

Alderman said that no citizen of Tyler County owes the current county commissioners or auditor “any apologies.”

He said that although county employees were eligible for premium payments, elected officials were not.

“So, our elected and appointed officials feel some sort of vindication by a pre-election opinion that stretched and contorted to imply there ‘could’ or ‘might’ be justification if the funds were given as ‘hazardous duty’ pay,” he said.

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Chester receives ‘superior’ FIRST score

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Chester ISD logo template 300By Chuck Davidson

CHESTER – The Chester ISD Board of Trustees President Ray McKnight called the regular meeting of the board to order on Monday evening, with five of the seven members and three district employees present. 

The district’s business manger Austin Odom presented his report on expenditures and revenue, highlighting the online auction sale of an old bus.  Also reported was the annual 2021-22 FIRST report on financial integrity giving Chester a superior score.

The FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) is an accountability rating system conducted by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in order to gauge the financial management quality of school districts.

Chester ISD Superintendent Paul Drake stated that enrollment remains good (at 218) and attendance is still above 96%, and athletics and students seem to be 

doing well.  He did mention that they were able to purchase via an online auction a commercial washer/dryer which will speed up the cleaning of football uniforms for example.  He then reviewed the district’s weather day procedures (alerts to staff and parents, use of social media, etc.).  The board approved without discussion the consent agenda:  minutes of past meetings and payment of bills, bank statements, etc. 

Two action items related to the county 4 H program were approved, one allowing for up to 10 excused absences and the other granting the extension agent of the county to be a non-paid adjunct faculty member.

The board went into executive session at 6:22 and returned at 6:52 after which they approved the sale of 1.5 acres recommended by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.  The next regular meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 17.

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Ivanhoe mayor schedules town hall meeting

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townhall grapic

By Chris Edwards
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IVANHOE – In the regular monthly meeting of the Ivanhoe City Council last Thursday, Mayor Cathy Bennett recognized National Teachers Day before the council tackled the regular agenda.

Bennett read a proclamation for the city to honor the teachers of Woodville ISD and Warren ISD, both of which service the City of Ivanhoe on Oct. 5.

She encouraged members of the community to display a light blue ribbon outside of their homes during that week to show support for educators.

On the regular agenda, Bennett began with her report and said “A lot has been going on in Ivanhoe in the last few weeks.” She spoke to tensions within the community and addressed rumors and false information circulating primarily on social media platforms.

Many comments from several public forum speakers during a previous special-called meeting, dealt with the city’s ordinance on recreational vehicles on city thoroughfares. 

Bennett said it is apparent the council needs to take a serious look at the city’s ordinances and get input regarding various issues. She called for a town hall meeting to take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The agenda, she said, will include the topics of recreational vehicles; home-based businesses and air B&Bs, and encouraged any residents who have other topics to include, to let her know.

“If we get together as a community, we can talk about things, we can ask questions and clarify stuff,” Bennett said.

Later in the meeting, councilmember David Herrington addressed some of the misinformation circulating regarding RVs in the city. 

“If anybody tells anybody that somebody is coming after you, or it’s someone’s intention to get rid of RVs altogether in Ivanhoe, it’s just hogwash,” he said. “RVs have always been a part of this community,” he added. 

In other news, Bennett reported that she had met with the city’s GLO representative for the city’s $11.4 million and $8 million grants.

She said there are documents that she and Marion Blackstone are working to get to the state Historical Commission in order for environmental studies to be conducted for projects.

Bennett said the representative is “very pleased” with the work that the grant administrator and engineers are doing for the city.

Another grant of more than $1.9 million through DETCOG is in the works and will be utilized to repair and re-pave as much of Lakewood as possible, Bennett said.

Budget, tax rate hearings set

The hearings were set for the date of Wednesday, Sept. 28 for the city’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget and tax rate.

The hearing for the budget was set for 5:30 p.m. on that date and the tax rate hearing for 6 p.m. A special meeting was also set to adopt the FY 2023 budget and tax rate on the same date for 6:30 p.m.

The proposed tax rate for the city’s coming fiscal year is $0.7550 per $100 of valuation. The current fiscal year budget is operating off the 2022 rate which is $0.7281 of valuation, or the no-new-revenue tax rate. 

The proposed rate is an increase over the no-new-revenue rate, but not greater than the voter-approved rate of $0.7567, which would not require an election for voters to accept or reject the rate. 

The rate was unanimously approved by council.

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