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Tyler County News - Breakout

Cauthen inducted to ag teacher hall of fame

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081122 cauthen inductedIn this file photo, Ken Cauthen is shown at the Warren ISD Ag Banquet in 2018. Cauthen has inspired many students to follow his path into classrooms around the state, including Warren alumnus Jacob Spivey, who joined the faculty for the coming fall semester as an ag instructor.

From Staff Reports

CORPUS CHRISTI – In July, the Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (ATAT) hosted its annual Professional Development Conference for teachers of agriculture, food and natural resources in-person at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.

The week-long conference was designed specifically for the educational enrichment of agriculture teachers and stakeholders and allows attendees to enhance teaching methods, discuss developments in curriculum, learn more about industry-based student certifications as well as network with leaders within the agriculture education profession.

During the award ceremony, ATAT inducted 54 teachers from across the state to its 2022 Texas Hall of Fame, including Ken Cauthen, who taught at Hull Daisetta High School, Chester High School, Warren High School and Spurger High School.

“This Hall of Fame recognition honors the continued commitment of educators like Mr. Cauthen who truly make our students grow into leaders,” said Ray Pieniazek, Executive Director of ATAT. “Agriculture education teachers within the Texas FFA go above and beyond for their students and this community. We celebrate Mr. Cauthen’s years of dedication to professional development with this special induction, marking the difference he has made in his students’ lives and Texas overall.”

The Texas Hall of Fame recognizes and honors agricultural science teachers whose careers, achievements, and contributions stand exemplary. Inductees are known as well-rounded professionals that have proven their success with FFA activities, in the classroom, as well as through involvement in their community. They have proven their desire to provide students with opportunities for premier leadership, personal growth and career success over a significant period of time.

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Initiatives highlight safety, security at WISD

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081122 wisd safey securtiySchool began Thursday, August 11 for all Tyler County districts. Photo by Chris Edwards

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – As students head back into the classroom this month, across the state, there is a focus on safety and security from administrators.

Woodville ISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg announced a list of initiatives undertaken by WISD for the coming school year. Meysembourg said the initiatives will proactively address concerns and improve safety measures across the district.

“There’s definitely a heightened sense of urgency that we’ve got to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe,” Meysembourg said.
One of the measures was to hire a second student resource officer. In July, the Woodville City Council gave the greenlight for the district’s hiring of a second SRO. Woodville Police Department officer Mike Williams was recently named as the hire to that position.
Meysembourg said the need arose from the fact that the two locations of campuses for WISD – one downtown off of US 69 and the other on US 287 – makes it difficult for one SRO to be visible, respond quickly and effectively address the safety concerns of the entire district.

“Now we have an SRO on each side of town that will absolutely cut that response time down,” Meysembourg said.

Additionally, a consortium was put together by Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford in June, with all five superintendents from across the county having input on what their safety and security needs are.

Weatherford announced a commitment to increasing law enforcement presence on the five school districts in Tyler County following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24.

Meysembourg said WISD has its own safety and security team that meets regularly, and each campus has its own.

Another initiative undertaken by WISD in the name of safety and security is one the district is calling “Eagle Eyes,” which incorporates volunteer parents and community members who will serve as extra sets of eyes to support safety and security on WISD campuses.
“Members would regularly check doors, windows and other access points during the day to ensure everything is locked and secured,” Meysembourg said.

The “Eagle Eyes” will also monitor doors, parking lots and traffic during school arrival and dismissal times, as well as monitor the ground during student transition times and assist with emergency drills.

Other measures include the implementation of portable metal detectors, with one per campus to be used as needed “based on reasonable suspicion.”

WISD will also, Meysembourg said, be exploring options for security under the Guardian and Marshal programs.

The Guardian and Marshal plans came about in 2013 after the state legislature passed two separate methods to allow educators and/or district employees to carry handguns on campus.

The Marshal Plan is designed to give faculty and staff members armed law enforcement capabilities and responsibilities, while the Guardian Plan is intended to pick out armed faculty and staff members to give them the ability to defend themselves and students in the event of an active shooter.

Meysembourg said that one thing that comes up at conferences on the topic is that no matter how much educators plan and drill in the name of safety and security, “every plan will fail, because there are things that will happen in the moment that you can’t think of.”
“You have to be flexible, and able to respond appropriately to whatever those unpredictable elements are. The more you plan and drill, the less likely you are to have any major catastrophe happen with your plan,” she said.

In July, the Texas School Safety Center announced it will, beginning this fall, conduct “random intruder detection audits” of schools, statewide.

The inspections will be random, and conducted in order to detect weak access points, as part of a series of directives handed down by Gov. Greg Abbott in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, which left 21 people dead and 17 injured.

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Commissioners hear presentation from Ivanhoe mayor

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08112 commish recieve tax rate

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Prior to tackling a lengthy agenda at its regular monthly meeting on Monday morning, the Tyler County Commissioners Court heard a presentation from Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett.

Bennett spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting and said that her city is underfunded. “Experts have told me that in order to support our infrastructure we should have a budget of $1.5-$2 million for infrastructure alone,” and she noted that the city’s operating budget is $671K.

Bennett addressed the Hurricane Harvey mitigation project funds being allocated through DETCOG, and said Ivanhoe could benefit from the money…

The only person to speak to the Court was Ivanhoe City Mayor Cathy Bennett. She addressed the Court that Ivanhoe is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to Tyler County, however, has nothing to show for it.

One of the items tabled from last month was the purchase of a cell phone in addition to a cell phone allowance for the County Judge’s Office and reoccurring charges on the County Judge’s credit card. Commissioner Mike Marshall said he was against a burner phone, and Commissioner Sturrock stated the court needed to make some policy changes regarding this.

The County had a budget of $ 350.00 for the remaining year to purchase the phone, however, the Court decided to fail the agenda after no common ground of a decision could be made.

Another item on the agenda that came up for talks was V ( E ) which dealt with suspending the Tyler County Nutrition Center with rentals within that facility. Commissioner Joe Blacksher said it had became a liability issue, and the Court agreed.

Two items on the agenda were “ delayed “ which consisted of II ( B ) and V ( J ) until 100 PM when representatives which could be present to address the Court.

There was a presentation of the Distinguished Service Award and it was presented to Chuck Davidson of Chester. The award was from the Texas Historical Commission.

The regular session ended at 10:51 a.m., and the Court went into executive session at once. There was an HR issue of discussion, and we cannot divulge that information.

Executive session ended at 11:07 a.m. and was put into recess until 1 p.m.

The Court then re-convened at 1 p.m. and representatives from both Aflac ( Delta Dental ) and the Texas Association of Counties spoke before the Court.

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An Eagle’s view

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081122 an eagles view

By Lisa Meysembourg
Woodville ISD Superintendent

I would like to extend a big “WELCOME BACK” to all the students attending Woodville ISD. I hope that you and your families enjoyed the summer and found time to just relax and spend time together.

While it seems as if school just ended, we are already beginning another academic year. Time does fly!

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this upcoming school year. Whether you are new to the district or returning for another year, I am thrilled to have you join our Woodville Eagle Team. We have an exceptional staff at all levels who are working diligently to accomplish our school mission - ensuring that every student in Woodville ISD has opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed.

Academically, the district is reaffirming its commitment to providing a quality education that meets state and federal guidelines as well as the individual needs of every student.

Our state accountability scores show that we have made significant gains in addressing the “learning loss” related to COVID with our students meeting or exceeding state and regional scores in many areas. However, even as celebrate our successes, we are also focusing on improving our teaching and instructional strategies to ensure the continued growth and achievement of all students.

Teachers have been and will continue to work on curriculum alignment and early intervention strategies to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn and progress. And, as always, we will focus on engaging every student through effective instructional strategies designed to promote success, not only in school, but in life.

Because social emotional skills and self-discipline are also critical components of education, Woodville ISD will continue to use Capturing Kids Hearts as a guide to building a successful learning community based upon a positive, welcoming school environment; strong relationships built on trust and respect; and personal responsibility and accountability for academic achievement and behavior.

Parent and community involvement is vital as well. Building positive partnerships with our families and community stakeholders is critical to the success of both the school and the community. This has been a real struggle over the past few years as COVID and school safety concerns have restricted and limited our options, however we are working to find a balance that ensures parents and community members feel welcomed, involved and valued.

We encourage you to become active in our schools through volunteer activities and student support groups such as District and Campus Advisory Committees, Athletic Booster Club, Band Booster Club, FFA to participate in parent meetings and training seminars; and to attend school activities and events. We ask for your patience and understanding in complying with mandated procedures and regulations regarding school access but we want you to know that you are welcomed and that we value your interest and support of our students and our schools.

Although many of our teachers and staff are returning, we also have quite a few new faces this year. I assure you our new staff members will be great assets to our school with a focus on helping our children learn and achieve. Along with returning staff, they will become an integral part of our students’ educational growth and development.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that we are all here to serve the children of our community in whatever way necessary to ensure student achievement and success. If I, or anyone on the staff, can be of assistance in any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you to make this a great year.

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City moves forward on grant funds

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081122 grant fundingTCB Rusty Kuciemba addresses the Woodville City Council. Photo by Chris Edwards

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council approved a trio of agenda items at its regular monthly meeting on Monday to move it forward with infrastructure projects funded by grant monies.

The grant allocation, which is federally funded in the wake of 2017’s disastrous Hurricane Harvey, is being allocated through DETCOG, in the amount of $3.325 million to the city of Woodville.

City Administrator Mandy Risinger said that the measures on Monday night’s agenda were necessary to move forward; that it was required to procure a grant administrator in order to begin identifying possible projects to address with the funds.

Risinger outlined some of the specifics of how the money is to be spent, once received. A percentage, $1.7 million of it, must be spent in low-to-moderate income areas of the city, while the remainder has no such demographic caveats.

Risinger said that the city is always looking at street improvement projects and said that whatever street work the city is able to do typically comes from grant sources. She also gave a little history and said that the last time she recalled all of the city streets being paved was in 1984, which cost around $3 million then.

Councilmember Herbert Branch joked “that was 1884, wasn’t it?,” which drew a laugh from everyone present.

Risinger said the city is looking at “several projects that are needed,” as possibilities to tackle with the grant funding.

The three agenda items addressing the grant funding and its projects included the procurement of administrative and engineering services and the appointment of a rating committee for the administrative and engineering service proposals. That committee will be comprised of Risinger; Coon Odom and councilmember Clifton Wright.

On another agenda item, the council approved the purchase of an additional police interceptor unit for the Woodville Police Department.

The vehicle, a 2022 Tahoe, is available for $32K. Risinger said there are currently funds allotted for the purchase of a police vehicle each year, but there has been problems as of late with availability.

The city has located the vehicle through its cooperative buy board, and Risinger said it was more advantageous to move ahead with the purchase now, in order to capture $15K in savings.

Chickens addressed

Woodville resident Rusty Kuciemba spoke during the public forum portion of Monday’s meeting. Kuciemba urged the city to amend its ordinance pertaining to the keeping of chickens and other livestock animals.

Kuciemba first addressed the council on the matter in June. At present, the ordinance requires fowl to be kept at least 200 feet from a residence or dwelling house.

Kuciemba asked the council to consider amending the ordinance to 50 feet. “This is something I’m passionate about,” he said, and added “Chickens aren’t going to disturb anything.”

Later in the meeting, Risinger said that the city had decided to not bring any changes to the existing ordinance.

Other Business

During Monday night’s meeting, the Woodville City Council also voted to approve the following items:

• A resolution was readopted for an investment policy and strategy for the city.

• The approval of a list of authorized broker dealers for the city.

• A change in rates from Entergy Texas was declined.

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