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Tyler County News - Breakout

County sets tax rates for coming year

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082522 county approves rate

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – In a special-called meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court on Thursday, August 18, county officials voted to set the tax rates for the coming fiscal year.

The first item on the agenda was the proposed tax rate for the county’s general fund.

County Auditor Jackie Skinner explained the numbers for the commissioners and County Judge Jacques Blanchette. She noted that there had been funds taken out of the general fund balance for the road and bridge accounts to keep from raising taxes.

She explained the proposed tax rate of $0.5619 per $100 of valuation is an increase over previous years, for which the county had adopted the no new revenue tax rate.

“We can’t keep using the same amount of fund balance we did this year. It catches up with you,” Skinner said.
Skinner added that she and tax assessor-collector Lynette Cruse refigured road and bridge budget, but the county can’t go with no new revenue. “The money won’t be there,” she said.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall motioned to adopt the proposed rate for the general fund.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock and Pct. 4 Commissioner Buck Hudson voted in favor of the proposed rate, while Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Blacksher and Blanchette voted against it.

The next rate to be voted on was the county’s farm to market flood control fund, or its county special rate.

The proposed rate of $0.2178 per $100 was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Marshall, Sturrock and Hudson voting in favor and Blacksher and Blanchette voting against.

“If we try to lower that rate...we’re not going to have the money to operate on. We’re going to have to cut employees,” Marshall said.

The last proposed tax rate the commissioners tackled was the rate for the Tyler County Hospital District.

Sturrock motioned to adopt the $0.1800 rate for the Hospital District.

TCH CEO Sondra Williams answered a question posed by Blacksher about the increase in the hospital’s needs, which is due to indigent care cases, which the county pays for.

The hospital tax rate was approved by a unanimous vote of the commissioners and Blanchette.

Skinner advised the officials of a date and time, considering legal postings of the rates, of a hearing for the proposed tax rates. That date and time was approved to be 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, prior to a regularly scheduled meeting of the Commissioners Court, in the County Courtroom (Room 101) at the Tyler County Courthouse.

Allen speaks about possible public transportation project

Terry Allen, with the county’s Juvenile Probation Department, said she had spoken with a DETCOG representative who was “very positive” about helping to bring public transportation to Tyler County.

“Anyone 60 or older who would ride public transportation, DETCOG would reimburse us,” Allen said.
A transport van would have to be registered in the county. She said the investment from the county would not be a lot of money, according to the DETCOG rep.

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School Safety and Security

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082122 School Safety SecurityWoodville ISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg spoke at the weekly meeting of the Woodville Rotary Club last Wednesday at the Pickett House. Meysembourg, who also serves as the club’s secretary, gave a presentation on school safety and security measures ahead of the start of the new school term. Photo by Chris Edwards

The safety and security of the students and staff at Woodville ISD has always been a top priority in the district, however recent events throughout the state and nation have emphasized the need for schools to re-evaluate their security measures. There is heightened awareness and sense of urgency at all levels, from the Governor on down, to ensure that we are taking any and all actions necessary to prevent and mitigate potential tragedy and ensure the protection of our children.

One of the major goals in our district long-term strategic plan addresses these concerns: “Woodville ISD will provide safe and secure facilities and a positive learning environment for all students and staff.” Under this goal are listed several objectives and strategies that have been and will continue to be implemented, with changes and adjustments as needed to meet new state guidelines and directives. While not inclusive of everything we do, I have listed below some of the safety and security measures we have in place as well as new initiatives that we are implementing this school year:

•The district has an established an Emergency Operations Plan that identifies the roles and responsibilities of key personnel in addition to clear procedures for responding to a variety of potential emergency situations. This is reviewed and updated annually.

•Established a Safety and Security Committees at the district and campus levels that conduct regular safety and security audits of the district and are responsible for implementing the Emergency Operations Plan if needed.

•We have controlled entries and access points at the junior high and high school campuses using the RAPTOR Visitor Check-In System (criminal background scan.) Parents/Visitors can only enter through the front door and must submit a photo ID upon entering the building or when picking up a child from school early.

•In collaboration with the City of Woodville, we have hired a second School Resource Officer (SRO). We now have Officer Steven Hoke who serves as SRO at the Middle and High School and Officer Michael Williams who serves as SRO at the Elementary and Intermediate Campuses.

•We are offering free meals and free access to events at Woodville ISD for any law enforcement personnel in uniform – regardless of association (City Policy, Sheriff’s Office, State Trooper, Game Wardens, etc.) This will act as a deterrent to potential offenders due to increased law enforcement visibility on all campuses. It will also allow law enforcement to become familiar with our facilities and build positive relationships with students and staff.

•Woodville ISD conducts monthly emergency drills for all students and staff at both the campus and district level using Kologic Campus Safe – CopSync 911 and the Texas School Safety Center Standard Response Protocols.

•Kologic Campus Safe – CopSync 911, is a notification and communication system that immediately alerts all district employees and first responders of any emergency situation in the district. Because of this program and the drills we practice, we can lock-down our entire district in less than minute. In addition, emergency personnel are notified and are on campus within minutes as well.

•Conduct annual professional development/training for district personnel including but not limited to: Basic First Aid; CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator); Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention; Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention; Child Abuse and Human Trafficking; CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute); Active Shooter/Intruder; and Standard Response Protocols for Lockdowns, Lockouts, Evacuations, and Sheltering-in-Place.

•In October of 2021, we implemented Go Guardian, which is program that scans all student digital communications through the district network, to identify potentially harmful student situations and notify appropriate personnel to intervene as needed.

•Last school year we hired an additional district counselor to specifically address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of students. She also serves as a parent liaison, helping students and families find resources and supports for any type of social, emotional, behavioral, or mental health need.

•Several years ago, we implemented an anonymous online reporting system through our District Web Site in addition to the physical boxes located outside the counselors’ offices at each campus. Any student, parent or community member is encouraged to report any concern related to our school or our students. If you see something or hear something, Say Something!

•We are in the process of establishing Community Based “Eagle Eyes” Safety Patrols at each campus. The goal is to encourage community volunteers to assist school personnel in proactively supporting school safety and security. This would include conducting “door sweeps” to ensure exterior doors/windows are locked; monitoring doors, grounds, parking lots, and traffic during arrival and dismissal times; and assisting with emergency drills. Members must be willing to go through an application and training process and commit to working within the guidelines and protocols of the district.

•This summer we finished a complete upgrade of the district’s technology infrastructure. This allows us to move on the phase 2 and 3 of our plan – to upgrade and improve security cameras and security lighting across the District and to upgrade and replace communication systems district-wide to include phones and intercoms.

In addition, the district has a well-established working relationship with city and county officials, police, and emergency responders. We will continue to coordinate and train with the appropriate City/County Health and Law Enforcement Agencies. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful community of support for our students and our schools.

I realize this was a rather long article, but I appreciate you taking time to read it. The safety and security of our students is of critical importance and will continue to be a priority as we plan for the future. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, ideas or suggestions, please feel free to contact me at school via phone or email: 409-283-3752 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks for your continuing support of our students and our school.

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Kuciemba speaks at TCRW meeting

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081822 Kuciemba speaksCounty GOP chairman Rusty Kuciemba speaks. Photo courtesy of Wilda Barton

WOODVILLE – Rusty Kuciemba, the chairman of the Tyler County Republican Party, was greeted by 21 people to hear about the reorganization of the Republican Party in Tyler County, and the plans for the newly organized Tyler County GOP CEC at the meeting of Tyler County Republican Women last week at Wild Bill’s Grill.

The county GOP is in the process of filling the Precinct Chair positions. For anyone interested in filling one of these positions, they can contact Kuciemba.

TCRW drew a great response from its membership drive last Saturday at Wild Bill’s Grill. The organization had 22 people present at its meeting. TCRW will be at Brookshire Brothers in September to give out copies of the United States Constitution. If you do not have a copy, they are free from TCRW donated by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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Holderman announces WISD board candidacy

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081822 Holderman announces candidacy

My name is Eleanor Holderman, and I am a candidate for election to Place 7 of the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees. I’d like to respond to a couple of questions that some have asked me: Why am I running? Why should they vote for me?

QUESTION: Why am I running?

ANSWER

• I have a passion FOR encouraging our students and staff - along with a desire to help provide the best possible resources for them.

• I am FOR the exciting progress being made at Woodville schools, and I applaud our current leadership team – many of whom I taught, and all of whom I respect and appreciate

• I am FOR offering a leadership perspective that only comes with years of living and serving in a community.

QUESTION: Why should you vote for me?

ANSWER: 

I have experience working as a team member to see the BIG PICTURE, develop a LONG-TERM VISION, and set FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE GOALS.

For decades I’ve sought ways to contribute to improving opportunities for each of our students to achieve their full potential.

• During those years I’ve worked as a parent, teacher, counselor, consultant, volunteer mentor, grandparent, and even as a Board member.

• I have taught students who competed and won awards at District, State, and National levels in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.

• I have written curriculum materials that were published through the Texas Education Agency and distributed statewide to CTE teachers.

• During the recent bond election, I was reminded of my generation’s deep interest in and desire to support our schools and the people in them.

• Therefore, I want to listen to anyone of any generation who has questions or comments about our school. I want to understand their point of view about needs, concerns, and issues. I want to do the work to find and apply the best possible responses to those needs, concerns, and issues.

• Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of my candidacy as a seasoned senior citizen for Woodville ISD Board of Trustees.

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City moves forward with Willis Motel

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Willis Motel

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Last week, the Woodville City Council and City Administrator Mandy Risinger discussed, in closed session, the status of the Willis Motel.

Councilmembers, Risinger and Mayor Paula Jones discussed the topic with City Attorney Brad Elrod to see what options the city had to move forward with the structure.

Risinger said the city “reached a point to where we had run our gauntlet of what our ordinance permits,” and wanted to find the next step available in condemning the structure.

The motel, which has operated in Woodville for more than 75 years, was the location of a fire in 2019, and was the subject of hearings held by the city last year. The city compelled the owner to come and testify as why it should avoid condemnation.

The pandemic had hampered the city’s ability to work on many cases of dilapidated structures. When the city got to work on the case, they had found that the Willis’s owner had not resolved any issues. Subsequently, when the owner appeared at a hearing in March 2021, he was under the impression all of the issues had been resolved.

The motel fell into further disrepair after the owners completed some of the work on the city’s deadline, following the hearing, and has been closed to the public since the city took initial action.

The motel has been ordered vacated and secured, and Risinger said the city would put up orange fencing and signs stating for no one to enter the property. She said the measures were to make sure there is a full understanding that there is not supposed to be anyone on the property.

The process of judicial abatement with dilapidated structures is an extensive one, Risinger said, and allows the property owner every opportunity to remedy the situation.

“Litigation with these things has made us cautious with how we proceed,” Risinger said. “We just needed to make the determination on what the next step should be.”

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