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Tyler County News - Breakout

Jail cited for non-compliance issue

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081122 jail not compliant

By Chris Edwards

AUSTIN– The Texas Commission on Jail Standards named the Tyler County Justice Center to its list of non-compliant jails in its annual audit of Texas jails.

In a letter from TCJS Executive Director Brandon Wood, sent to Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette and Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the two officials were notified of the facility’s failure to comply with standards. One non-compliance violation was listed, under the chapter heading “Supervision,” which states that the jail staff failed to perform observation checks for several hours.

The checks, according to the letter, must be performed no less than once every 60 minutes. In addition, observations must be performed at least every 30 minutes in areas where inmates are known to be assaultive, potentially suicidal or mentally ill “or who have demonstrated bizarre behavior.”

Weatherford said the citation has to do with an escape last year, in which two inmates, Blaze Hicks and Christopher Mobley, escaped the

jail through the building’s ventilation system. They were both caught later the same day they escaped.
Weatherford said the state agency just recently got down to inspect that incident. The violation paperwork does make mention of the escape incident.

Some of the other metrics listed by the TCJS inspector Byron Shelton, include food service; personal hygiene; health services and exercise.

On the exercise classification, the inspector noted that the jail staff “does an excellent job with recreation; they regularly allow the inmate population extended periods of recreation of up to two to three hours.”

According to the TCJS, counties that are listed to be in non-compliance with Texas Minimum Jail Standards, will be removed immediately upon attaining compliance.

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Chester ISD board discusses safety issues

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080411 chester school safety

By Chuck Davidson

CHESTER – Board president Ray McKnight called the meeting of the Chester ISD Board of Trustees to order at 6 p.m. last Monday with four board members plus Chester ISD Superintendent Paul Drake and new principal Kim Capps. After her introduction to all present Sam Handley led all with a prayer and the pledges. Also present were Chuck Davidson, Austin Odom and Mrs. Pounds, with Davidson making public comment regarding the Lions club.

Safety and security were the key discussion items on the agenda with Drake covering some gate concerns and lock issues while stating that his goal is to “keep kids safe and accelerate learning”. All staff are aware and will be continually reminded of this.

Business manager Odom covered 10 state requirements/issues resulting from the Uvalde school shooting and stated that the security assessment team has been formed and will be trained soon. A Region 5 safety audit is scheduled for this fall and all staff including subs will be informed and reminded of school procedures and policies, and Capps will be checking doors etc. at least once a month to ensure compliance.

Odom reported that some extra science funding resulted in some needed upgrades to the curriculum this summer and expected revenues for the district should exceed what is budgeted. Drake then covered some preliminary state test scores with increases in most categories except for fourth grade reading and science. Texas will inform districts later this year as to district’s rating but teachers will be aware of these results and focus on the areas needing growth.

A SHAC committee recommendation to not participate in HB 1525’s sex education program was discussed and then approved and then a recommendation from Supt. Drake to approve a retention bonus for all returning employees of $1500 was discussed and approved as funding left over from the 2021-22 budget is available. Mr. Odom updated board on TASB policy update #119 and this was approved without discussion.

The board went into executive session and after nearly an hour, returned at 7:53 and motion to adjourn was made and approved.
The next Chester ISD board meeting is set for August 22.

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Henderson appointed to TBPW board

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080422 henderson business professional

From Staff Reports

Lois Henderson, of Warren, has been appointed to a three-year term to the Texas Business and Professional Women’s State Foundation Board of Directors.

The Texas Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, Inc. provides advocacy and support for educational, literary, scientific and charitable activities. Providing financial support for Texas women who wish to further their knowledge, skills, studies or service in designated areas or toward medical research is a primary mission. The Foundation also partners with businesses in support of specific women’s initiatives. The TBPWF is supported by individuals-many of who are members of Texas Business Women-from all walks of life.

The Foundation also receives valued corporate financial support. Chartered in 1990 as a Texas nonprofit corporation, Texas Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization for federal tax purposes.

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Booster wins several awards

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 080411 booster wins award

From Staff Reports

SAN MARCOS – The Tyler County Booster won several awards from the Texas Press Association (TPA) at its annual conference, which was held last week in San Marcos.

The categories the newspaper won in range from the association’s contest highlighting advertising design to one for feature writing.

Polk County Publishing Company publisher Kelli Barnes, who attended the conference, said of the wins, “We have a great team at the Booster. They are committed to quality community journalism and Tyler County is stronger for having a legitimate news source. Thank you, readers and advertisers, for your continued support.”

TPA, which is headquartered in Austin, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest newspaper trade associations. It represents 429 Texas newspapers, which participate in the annual contest. The contest breaks down the publications into different divisions based on circulation numbers and frequency of publication.

According to its website, the organization “promotes the welfare of Texas newspapers, encourages higher standards of journalism, and plays an important role in protecting the public’s right to know as an advocate of First Amendment liberties.”

The awards won by the Booster staff for work produced during last year’s span of eligibility for the contest are:

• Advertising – First Place (Beth Faircloth)

• Feature Writing – Second Place (Chris Edwards)

• Headline Writing – Third Place (Chris Edwards)

• Column Writing – Third Place (Chris Edwards)

• Feature Photography – Third Place (Jim Powers; Donna Hammer; Chris Edwards and Caleb Fortenberry)

Booster editor/reporter Chris Edwards said being a part of such a prestigious trade organization was “an honor in of itself,” and added that it was “beyond awesome” for the newspaper to be adjudicated as one of the best in a crowded field.

The four other newspapers in the PCPC family: the Polk County Enterprise; Houston County Courier; San Jacinto News-Times and the Trinity County Standard, also won multiple awards for their published works from last year.

The quarterly East Texan lifestyle magazine, from PCPC, also won an award in the “Best Magazine” category. It regularly features the work of several Booster staff members.

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Ivanhoe council hears grant information

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080422 ivanhoe grants

By Chris Edwards
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IVANHOE – At its regular meeting held last Thursday, the Ivanhoe City Council heard a report from Mayor Cathy Bennett on the city’s updated certified estimates of its total tax value for the year.
Prior to her report, Bennett acknowledged the passing of two beloved members of the Ivanhoe community, Mary Joe

“MJ” McNeal and Kenny Evans. “We lost two dear people in a very short period of time, so we are in mourning,” Bennett said.

Bennett also told council that, in full personal disclosure, she had contracted COVID on a recent cruise, but had tested negative before returning to work.

Bennett reported on attending a DETCOG meeting Thursday, which was followed by a GLO kickoff meeting regarding the $161 million allocated for Hurricane Harvey remediation. Of those funds, $1,933,000 was allotted to the City of Ivanhoe.

Grant administrator Judy Langford was present to speak to Bennett and councilmember Skip Blackstone about projects to undertake with the money.

Bennett spoke of the importance of attending such meetings, for the networking aspect as well as the informative nature.

Langford was present at the city council meeting, as well, and outlined the process, which involves submitting the grant application and a public hearing for the mitigation funds.

“To be able to get that money, the next step is the city has to apply for it,” she said.

The resolution to apply for the grant was passed by council, and the GLO will consider its eligibility and move forward,Langford said. It has to be turned in by Nov. 16, she said.

A 14-day public comment period must follow the resolution’s passage and the identifying of an eligible project, she added. Once the GLO has the application, the process can take months, she said.

“Any mitigation projects” are deemed eligible, Langford said, when asked what kind of project qualify.

Bennett said what the city is thinking about is a grant to work on Lakewood Drive, from Tristan Dam over to Galahad Dam, which is the first priority. Then, Galahad to Camelot dams, as second priority.

If there is still funding available, the next sections would be the main entrance up to Chanticleer, according to Bennett.
In other funding items on the agenda, Bennett said that the city can utilize funds allocated to the city from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money for its one percent match of $100K on the $11 million GLO grant it was awarded last year to rebuild dams.

The city will receive another $155K of ARPA money, Bennett said. Either that money or the remaining bond funds of $390K can be used toward road construction, she added.

One project Bennett said needs addressing is work on Camelot. “We’re losing it,” she said, and said it needs to be leveled-up and overlaid. Also, the entirety of 28th and 27th streets, both, would be good projects to address.

Camelot and 28th Street would be priorities, Bennett said, but Blackstone said 27th Street would be a better choice to prioritize, due to the fire station’s location on that street, and its need for a four-inch water-line.

A motion was made to go out for bids on projects for either of the streets, along with Camelot, depending on funding.

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