The Kennard Independent School District Board of Trustees convened on Thursday, Oct. 12.
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m., with Superintendent Malinda Lindsey and Board Members Rebecca Parker, Ronnie Gladden, Crest Adair, Tod English, and Josh Bobbitt present. Tony Currie and Brijesh Patel were not in attendance.
After a prayer from Adair and the Pledge of Allegiance, Kennard Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor Lane Hoy introduced two students, Emily Walters and Tori Cole, who are competing in FFA Creed Speaking at the end of the month. Walters and Cole effortlessly recited the FFA creed to the board and were met with applause from the members.
The next item of business was a discussion of highlights from the Texas Association of School Boards convention earlier in the month in Dallas. Parker addressed new legislation that will require board member training to be completed before elections in May and that failure to do so will result in posting the names of members who have not met their requirements on school district websites.
English then relayed a student-centered direction from an interview with the School Board of the Year at the convention. He commented, "One of the main things that they stressed and what has happened in their districts is to make sure the school is aligned not mainly for the adults but for the students—to meet the needs of the students before those of teachers."
Following the approval of the agenda, Lindsey presented state required targeted elements that she has submitted to the TEA for the elementary school. This year's focus would be on curriculum and improving reading scores. English made the motion and Bobbitt seconded to accept the superintendent's recommendations.
Lindsey then addressed the need to make up minutes in the school year. After missing two school days as a result of Hurricane Harvey, the elementary needs to make up 244 minutes. A suggestion to extend the school day seven minutes at the end of each day was made. Bobbitt moved to table the matter until further options could be explored and English seconded his motion. It unanimously passed.
Next on the agenda, Lindsey voiced a need for a class-size waiver from the state regarding first grade attendance. She explained, "By law K-4 the ratio is 22-1. Any time you exceed 22 students you have to ask the state for a waiver to have over 22 students in a classroom with one teacher." Bobbitt made a motion to accept Lindsey's suggestion and Gladden seconded it. The motion passed on a 3-1 vote, English casting the nay vote.
The board had no need of convening an executive session and adjourned the meeting at 7:09 p.m.
COMMUNITY CENTER — Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Goodrich Community Center were held Wednesday with city officials, County Judge Sydney Murphy, representatives of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce and the general public in attendance. (Contributed Photo)
GOODRICH -- The Goodrich City Council met Thursday to discuss the community center project, the Christmas in Goodrich festival and FEMA relief.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Goodrich Community Center was held Wednesday, with Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, the Goodrich City Council, the Polk County Chamber of Commerce and members of the community all in attendance.
"We had a great groundbreaking ceremony yesterday afternoon," Goodrich Mayor Kelly Nelson said during the meeting. "We had a lot of people turn out. We're putting it on Facebook because I thought it was a positive thing for the community and I got a lot of likes and a lot of comments. One lady thanked us for all the great leadership that we have in the city."
"Sydney Murphy was there at the groundbreaking and she was very complimentary of everything that we have been able to accomplish in the city," council member Marlene Arnold added. "It has just taken time."
Council also discussed Christmas in Goodrich, mentioning items needed to be purchased and work needed to be done to decorate the city. Vendors are needed for the event and those interested in having floats for the parade will soon be considered.
The city also submitted information to FEMA for possible Hurricane Harvey relief. The information was sent via email by the Tuesday deadline. To end the meeting, Arnold said it was brought to her attention that the Goodrich Volunteer Fire Department needed to be contacted. Arnold said Goodrich is not covered under any fire protection for the City of Goodrich. Requests have been sent to Fire Chief Kenneth Hambrick to fill out information and it has not been completed. Arnold said that several attempts have been made.
"This will lower all of our insurance rates for the people in our community," Arnold said. "We are the only town in Polk County that has not been covered under this. We need to look into that because it will benefit everybody."
Crockett city leaders have agreed to take on debt that would help the city pay for proposed improvements in the city's water service.
At a city council meeting Monday, Oct. 2, the four councilmembers present unanimously voted to approve "a resolution of the City of Crockett authorizing and providing" for the city to incur debt "for the purpose of (covering) a portion of the cost of acquiring, constructing, enlarging, improving and/or extending its water service." Precinct 5 Councilmember Mike Marsh was absent.
Precinct 3 Councilmember Ernest Jackson offered the motion to adopt the resolution and Precinct 4 Councilmember Rita Rodriguez seconded the motion.
City Administrator John Angerstein said the resolution permits city staffers to obtain a $3.127 million loan to fund upgrading the city's water system. It allows city staff members "to move forward to secure the funding for our USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development) water improvement project," Angerstein said.
"We had a kickoff meeting, and Mrs. Monica Pierre (a USDA Rural Development area director) was there and she might have a little bit of an update for us. But then, after that, (you will be asked) to allow us to move forward and get a bond to secure the money...."
In a presentation to the councilmembers, Pierre said, "We're really excited that we have moved forward, and I want to bring council and the city up to date as to where we are. We have obligated the funds for the water improvement project.
"And those improvements include refurbishing two elevated storage tanks—that's our two big white storage tanks here in town—taking down the old steel (ground) storage tank located on College Hill and putting up a new one.
"So, we're going to have three clean glasses of water. Where our water is all stored, they'll be all fresh. We're also getting new water meters. So that way, we are truly calculating how much water is used and how it's being paid, so we can ensure that we have true water revenue being calculated for the city. That's a really good first step."
Pierre added, "We've met with the engineers, and (Precinct 1) Councilmember (Butch) Calvert was there, (along with) our mayor (Joni Clonts) and our city administrator. And where we are now is we are working the plans, the specifications and the contract (provisions). So, that way, we'll know exactly how it (the project) is going to be done, how it's going to be constructed, all of the ins and outs ... and for that to be reviewed.
"Then, it (the loan application) will go to the USDA for approval. And then, we'll have a sealed bid process. So, they will advertise for bids and have different people bid on the job so that it's fair. And the council will make a determination as to which company will get the job to get those contracts done."
Pierre commended Angerstein for being a "very good city administrator," who is fair, thorough and who does his research. "He is definitely someone who is going the extra mile for the city," she said.
In other business, the councilmembers: • Unanimously voted to elect as new Crockett police officers Frank McIntyre, who grew up in Pennsylvania and now resides in Madisonville with his wife Jean and seven-year-son Mason; and Takevius "T.K." Carmon who grew up in North Carolina and served two combat tours of duty in Iraq as a soldier in the U.S. Army, both of whom (McIntyre and Carmon) will graduate from the East Texas Police Academy in Palestine at the end of this year; • Approved on a unanimous vote a motion made by Jackson—seconded by Precinct 1 Councilmember Butch Calvert—approving a request by Alexander Montoya and others of Local Bike Racing to move forward with plans to hold the organization's third event, a Davy Crockett Classic Bike Race, in the city Feb. 10-11, 2018; • All cast an affirmative vote to pass a Calvert motion—seconded by Jackson—to appoint Ray Stanfield, nominated by Clonts, to a two-year term on the city's Parks and Recreation Board, replacing Scott McCall, who resigned; and • Unanimously voted to pass a Rodriguez motion—seconded by Jackson—approving Clonts' appointment of Calvert to serve as the council's representative on the board of directors of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG).
Sixteen principals, teachers, parents and students were approved by members of the Crockett Independent School District Board of Trustees to serve on the district's School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) during the 2017-2018 school year.
Approved to represent the Crockett Early Childhood Campus are teacher Dylis Bobbitt and parents Steve Seehar and Va'Kishia Warfield. Representing Crockett Elementary School are teacher Sheryl Patton and parents Brenda Garcia and Catha Sandles.
Crockett Junior High School representatives are teacher Jo Neen Richardson, parents Antonia Marshall and Stoney Pierce, and students Meredith Tuggle and Katlyn Marshall. Crockett High School (CHS) representatives are Principal Deborah Revels, parents Magda Mock and Angela Murphee, and students Breanna Kirksey and Luke Jones.
Offering the motion—which received a unanimous vote—to approve the local SHAC members was Board Secretary Karen Johnson, who represents District 4 on the board. The motion was seconded by District 2 Trustee Mo Amjad and District 5 Trustee John Garner.
Every Texas independent school district is required by law to have a SHAC, which is an advisory group of individuals who represent various segments of their community.
The CISD board meets twice a year with its SHAC and they discuss safety issues and health issues in the district, according to CISD Superintendent Terry Myers. The members of the CISD council were recruited by district representatives "to represent our campuses as well as our entire district in terms of parents, business representatives and employees," Myers explained. "If you happen to run into any of them, thank them for their service to our school district because this is something folks don't have to do. They're doing this of their own volition."
Concerning homecoming activities this week, Rhonda Kendrick, CISD executive secretary and human resources director, noted the Thursday night seventh and eighth graders football game has been moved to Wednesday, Sept. 27, beginning at 6 p.m. at Monte "Jack" Driskell Stadium. The junior varsity game will be played in Coldspring, kicking off at 6 p.m. that night as well.
On Friday, Sept. 29, the pep rally at CHS kicks off at 11:30 a.m. and the parade through downtown Crockett begins at 4 p.m. The Ring of Honor induction ceremony starts at 6 p.m. in the Commons Area in the high school Friday before the homecoming celebration commences at Driskell Stadium at 7 p.m.
In other business, the trustees heard a presentation by Edward Adair of the Mabank area, who asked them to consider permitting him and his colleagues to publish an advertising magazine containing information about each semester's school sports as a fundraising venture.
Adair and his colleagues would sell ad space in the magazine to local merchants for $175 to $900 each and the school district would not have to put up any money.
The school district would be given 1,500 copies of the magazine that could be sold for as much as $10 each to sports enthusiasts and others to raise funds for the district.
The trustees said they will consider the idea and suggested that Myers contact the superintendents of Houston County's other four schools to see if they would be interested in participating in a countywide project of this nature.
"I think it's a good idea, but we need to put more thought in it as a group," said Board President Lela P. Wheeler of CISD District 7.
Myers told Adair, "I'll visit with these board members individually and get their opinions. And then, we'll go from there."
Adair said money he and his colleagues receive from ad sales would be used to help fund a 108 baseball facility being built in Mabank.
The trustees also: • Received a letter from Lumberton Independent School District officials thanking CISD authorities for items CISD students gathered and had sent to LISD as well as the proceeds of the Sept. 8 Crockett-Diboll football game to help out in a relief effort in the wake of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey;
• Unanimously passed a motion made by Johnson—seconded by Amjad and Garner—re-approving a resolution designating Myers and CISD Business Manager Gail Hanson as investment officers for the district;
• Agreed, without taking a vote, to schedule Team of Eight and legislative update training for the trustees and superintendent Monday, Oct. 16, beginning at 6 p.m.;
• Passed on an unanimous vote a motion offered by District 1 Trustee Josh Crabtree—seconded by Johnson—giving Myers and Technology Director Charlie Bobbitt permission to dispose of "retired/obsolete/non-functioning" computers and other information technology equipment owned by the school district; and
• Heard an update from Myers noting district staff members recently completed a safety audit of the district.
Judy Dell’Osso and her husband M. D. Dell’Osso, standing, spoke to commissioners at a Houston County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12, offering to assist in any way they can to help clean up an illegal dumping site at the corner of County Roads 4020 and 4030 in Precinct 3. Seated in front of the Dell’Ossos in the above photo are, from left to right, Jan Pigford, administrative assistant to the county judge, and Mary Lucas, assistant to the county’s four commissioners. (By Alton Porter/HCCourierº
Several county residents voiced their concerns and complaints about illegal dumping and the poor condition of some county roads at a regular meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Presenting their concerns regarding an unsolved garbage dumping issue at the corner of CR 4020 and CR 4030, Precinct 3 residents MD and Judy Dell'Osso were the first to speak.
"We've owned property in Houston County for over 30 years south of town off Cut Road, Judy Dell'Osso said. "We love nature. We enjoy the outdoors and we respect the environment. And obviously, when you drive our road, (you see) that view is not shared by everyone, as is evidenced by the litter.
Dell'Osso continued, "We try to help by picking up litter as we are going out to our property. But today, we want to discuss this illegal dump that we have to pass every time we drive out to our property.
M. D. Dell'Osso noted that he and his wife had delivered copies of a letter and photos regarding the unlawful waste dumping site to the commissioners. "This looks like an illegal dump to me," he said. "And it's just unacceptable.
"We don't know these folks (who are dumping the refuse) and don't have any ill will toward them. But, when you allow this sort of thing to happen ..., it's unhealthy. It's a negative to the county. It's a negative to us and it tends to spread.
"And if you were to say, 'Much of this stuff hasn't migrated out to the county road,' that's because we pick it up.
"We were here (at a commissioners court meeting) in 2015, and we dealt with the commissioners court and your environmental officer.... In 2016, (Precinct 1) Constable (Morris) Luker talked to these folks and they said they were going to clean it up. So, we backed off.
"(But,) they didn't lift a finger. They didn't clean it up. They didn't do anything. In fact, you can see the garbage is getting higher. You can tell that garbage hasn't been there since 2016 or 2015. What happens is these things tend to spread. The dump continues to grow." He continued, "So, why are we here? We're here because it's been so long since 2015. We know you've got a lot to do. And we know to get these things resolved, you've got to stick with it.
"We're not here complaining. In fact, quite the opposite. We're here to be positive and to help the county. We'll do anything we can. I've offered to testify or whatever we need to do to help the county clean this up. It takes effort. We're going to stick with it.
"And we really want to thank (Precinct 3) Commissioner (Pat) Perry and Constable Luker. Constable Luker has spoken to these people (who are believed to be responsible for the illegal dump) again. He sent them another notice – a third notice.
"As I understand it from his (Luker's) message to me, he has given them until the end of September to clean it up. So, I guess we'll see. I think it's an important issue to keep this whole thing under control."
After discussion by the commissioners, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell informed the Dell'Ossos that he has spoken with Luker about the matter. Luker has been in touch with the owner of the land where the dump is located, and they plan to burn the garbage before the end of September, Lovell said.
The next two people to voice concerns to the commissioners were Lonnie Ellis and Prentiss Carmicheal. They complained about the condition of CR 1035 and CR 1045 in Precinct 4.
"This road has gotten down (from two lanes) to one lane," Ellis said. "And it's flooding and we can't get out. I even got a hold of the governor's office trying to get somebody out there to help get a way out of there.
"They told me to get a hold of the fire marshal. He told me he couldn't do anything about it. So, I don't know what I'm going to do. But, I'm not going to fool with this court anymore. I bought me a front-end loader the other day so I can get out of there and get something done to that road.
"We want something done if you all can do it. I need this court to do something or I'm fixin' to go higher."
Precinct 4 Commissioner Kennon Kellum said he had a video made of the road the day Ellis first filed his complaint. Kellum had that video played during the meeting Monday, as he noted the road wasn't in as bad a condition as Ellis complained.
Attending Tuesday's meeting to inform the court about the poor condition of CR 1140, CR 1135 and CR 4710 in the Tadmor and Ratcliff communities near Kennard in Precinct 4 were Mittie Wiley Williams, Marva Anglin and Eva Jean Mills.
Both Williams and Anglin addressed the commissioners, with Anglin reading from a letter they first presented to the commissioners court in 1997 and re-submitted Monday. She said they also appeared before the court last year to voice their concerns.
Reading from the letter, Anglin said, "We the citizens of the Tadmor Community and Ratcliff Community are writing concerning the roads in these communities, which are CR 1140, CR 1135 and CR 4710. When it rains they are almost impossible to drive on. The drainage needs to be cleaned out. The roads need to be oil topped." Anglin continued, "These roads are the main roads to the church and cemetery. The church is the nucleus of our community. These roads are traveled daily by Kennard Independent School District buses. Our youth are on these buses and that makes it more important for these roads to be in good condition.
"We need our roads to be fixed. Your assistance is requested to help sustain not only these children but also ensures that the community services will continue to be able to meet the growing needs for the institutional services in this area.
"We hope you will take this complaint in the helpful spirit in which it is meant. Anything you do to help our community will be greatly appreciated."
Referring to the 1997 letter, Williams said, "We hope we will get some help this time."
The Kennard Independent School District (KISD) Board of Trustees adopted a $3.2 million budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 and set the district's 2017 tax rate at $1.04 for each $100 of assessed property valuation to help support the budget at a special board meeting Thursday, Aug. 31.
The balanced budget projects $3,269,052 in revenue and requests the same amount in expenditures.
Offering the motion to approve the budget was Trustee Tod English, and seconding it was Trustee Crest Adair. Joining them in voting to pass the motion were Board President Rebecca Parker and Trustee Brijesh Patel. Board Vice President Josh Bobbitt, Board Secretary Ronnie Gladden and Trustee Tony Currie were absent.
The trustees agreed not to increase the tax rate, which has been $1.04 per $100 of assessed property valuation the last 10 years or so.
According to KISD Superintendent Malinda Lindsey, the entire rate is for maintenance and operations. The district does not have an interest and sinking tax rate, as it does not have any bond indebtedness.
English made the motion to adopt the rate, Adair seconded the motion, and Parker and Patel joined them in unanimously passing it.
In another action, the four trustees present at the meeting unanimously voted to pass a motion made by English – seconded by Adair – approving the district's certified tax roll for 2017 as presented to them.
In yet another action, the trustees unanimously passed an English motion – seconded by Adair – to grant discounts to district taxpayers who pay their tax bills early.
Those who pay in October will receive a three percent discount, while those who pay in November will be granted a two percent mark off and those who pay in December will be granted a one percent reduction in their taxes.