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‘State of the district’ report presented to LISD board

The Livingston Independent School District’s board of trustees heard the superintendent’s address and reports that included campus ratings and personnel in the June monthly meeting Monday.

During the meeting, Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins gave a “state of the district” address for the school district that included a handout reporting on several topics.

Financial
This is the 13th year that Texas school districts are reporting the results of the state’s financial accountability system, Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), which includes the evaluation of seven criteria. Livingston ISD has received the superior achievement rating for the current reporting period, which is for the 2014-2015 school year. Livingston ISD also received a clean unmodified financial audit for the 2014-2015 school year.

Tax Ratification Election
Voter approval of a tax ratification issue allowed the district to move $0.13 from the Interest & Sinking account to the Dallas/Austin Penny Category. This swap generated an additional $775,000 annually for Livingston Independent School District. It decreased the 2014-2015 tax rate of $1.395 and lowered it to $1.39. The change increased the Maintenance & Operating Tax from $1.04 to $1.17 and decreased the Interest & Sinking tax from $0.355 to $0.22. The change created a decrease from a total tax rate of $1.395 to $1.39.

The additional funds generated by the tax ratification passage allowed Livingston ISD to retain personnel, adjust the teacher salary schedule to remain competitive and expand the dual credit program at Livingston High School.

Facilities
The tennis program has been active for 13 years and before the courts were completed, students were bused to the city’s Matthews Street Park, where a time slot was reserved and others waited for them to finish. The new eight-court complex hosted Crosby, Splendora, Liberty, Shepherd and Diboll, as Livingston placed second on March 24.

The purchase of Texas Slam in the amount of $1 million was made after the district was given a quote of $4 million to construct a similar facility. LISD has entered into a three-year lease for a revenue to the district of $90,000, which will cover the costs of maintenance, upkeep, water, sewer and electricity. LISD will now have concession rights and priority events.  

The board approved the purchase of five new school buses in the amount of $437,015. This purchase allowed the removal of the oldest buses in the fleet. The new buses are 77-passenger buses and more accommodating for larger routes than current 72-passenger options.

Through the efforts of Craig Manning of Red Barn Builders Supply and Danny Moseley of Moseley Construction, the dream of Katie’s Pier was realized. Katie was the daughter of Danny and Frances Moseley. Katie drew inspiration from being near the water and the pier was constructed out of love for her. A ceremony was held to dedicate the pier on the Livingston Intermediate School campus. It will be primarily used for fishing, which is part of the physical education class curriculum for fourth and fifth graders.

Technology
Infrastructure improvements in the amount of $295,000 were made this year to connect the campuses and increase speed of the Internet ten times, while upgrading necessary equipment to support the $632,000 spent on Chromebooks for students in fourth through twelfth grades. The technology department replaced projectors with 65-inch LED monitors, enabling a clearer display and requiring less maintenance.

The district added additional content filters that allow students to take the devices home, while still filtered under school and federal policies. The filters have been relaxed to encourage students to take responsibility when they are online. The teacher controls one filter, where they are able to see and control what student’s access while they are in the classroom.   

Technology integration has increased the number of devices on the elementary campuses during the spring semester, while also increasing training for teachers. Decisions are being made as to what teachers find most beneficial in their classrooms.

Full Day Pre-K
This year the district had an increase of Pre-Kindergarten enrollment of over 30 percent from last year at the three elementary campuses. In 2014-2015, there were 123 students enrolled in the Pre-K program. This school year saw that number rise to 162.

Dual Credit
The 2015-2016 school year allowed 122 Livingston High School juniors and seniors to enroll in Angelina College courses for the fall semester. The courses cost $320 per semester, per class. Livingston ISD pays this fee with the additional funds received after the passage of the Tax Ratification Election. The district has historically paid for the textbooks needed for the college courses, but this is the first semester that Livingston ISD has picked up the tuition costs for English, government and U.S. history. The goal of the dual credit initiative is to expose high school students to at least 20 college hours. Studies show that any student completing 20 college hours or more will continue with their college education until a certification is earned.

LHS Academy
Services have been provided to 139 students during the 2015-2016 school year. Of that, 61 students received diplomas during the 2015-2016 school year and 48 students attended the district graduation in June. One student was the recipient of a Green and White Scholarship. Students in the program were at one point two years behind on academic work.

Demographics
There are 4,039 students enrolled in LISD schools. Among elementary schools, Cedar Grove has 394, 553 in Pine Ridge and 533 in Timber Creek. Livingston Intermediate has 632, while the junior high has 889. Livingston High has a total of 1,003 students and LHS Academy has 35.

There are 3,130 economically disadvantaged students and 450 in special education. The gifted and talented program has 226 students and there are 433 English language learners.

In other business, Hawkins also discussed the personnel change that the district experiences each summer. He said the amount of hiring the district has undergone this year is a more manageable number than in years past, especially when considering the number of retirees.

“I believe this morning we had 12 openings in the district,” Hawkins said. “When I went to work here two years ago in June, there were 40-something openings in the district. Our principals and directors have done an excellent job of making personnel a priority, making hiring a priority, and (human resources) have made that a priority — and I appreciate that. It comes down to people, and people with outstanding training meeting the needs of those we serve.”

Teachers are said to have reported that they are happier at their job and the compensation they receive has improved.

The board reviewed ratings for its campuses. Each principal on a campus takes a team or uses a committee to evaluate themselves in nine categories, scoring from zero to three. A three represents an “exemplary” score, while zero is “unacceptable.” The ratings are eventually reported to TEA.

All campuses at least met the acceptable goal — or a one. No campus overall was rated “exemplary,” though the junior high and high school were close. Every elementary was thought to be highly recognized — which is a two.

Among the factors the district is graded upon are digital learning environment, dropout prevention strategies, and community and parental involvement, where the district as a whole scored “exemplary.” A “recognized” rating was assigned for fine arts.

Others areas of focus included wellness and physical education, 21st century workforce development, educational programs for gifted and talented students, and second language acquisition program — where the district had an “acceptable” rating.

The board also adopted a new mathematics course beginning Fall 2016. The course, “algebraic reasoning,” will be taught after completion of algebra I for selected students. The TEKS covered in the course will address the areas of algebra I that are needed for success on the algebra EOC and to better prepare students going into algebra II.

OISD to issue time warrants for track facility

Onalaska-ISD

After rejecting a motion to call a $1.4 million bond election Monday night, the Onalaska Independent School District’s board of trustees approved a plan to build a track and field facility using time warrants to finance the project.

At the start of the meeting Board President Ted Wiggins expanded the public forum section of the agenda to invite those in the audience to comment on the proposal which called for the track and field facility to be built at the Onalaska Junior/Senior High School campus.

Mathematics teacher and track and field coach Kenton Vincent, himself a graduate of Onalaska schools, related that over 50 students this past school year participated in various track and field events but had to train in parking lots and baseball fields, with long distance runners using the roads around town. He noted when the local athletes arrived at a track and field facility at another school, it was almost like stepping into a foreign country because they had no experience in the actual surfaces and conditions on which they were expected to perform.

Under the proposal presented Monday, the estimated cost was $1.4 million and one of the largest parts of that price is a requirement for 400 cubic yards of fill required for the base of the facility. During the discussion Polk County Commissioner Ronnie Vincent, said he be willing to talk to commissioners court to see if the old FEMA dirt site north of the school could be used for some of that dirt to lower the cost.

The track proposal was on the bond election in 2015 as a separate item and failed to gain voter approval by a scant five votes and that is why school board is revisiting the matter. The original bond request was for almost $900,000 for the project, but the large amount of fill dirt required is why this estimate is several hundred thousand dollars higher.

Bob Kingman of Kingman construction explained the location selected will make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) without the need for additional construction of any ramps or other extensive work.

Ron Greiner, a public finance advisor the district has used in the past, presented the option of funding the project through a program called time warrants with a 15-year payout at a cost of approximately $90,000 per year. He pointed out that for the last three years the district has had healthy fund balances ranging from $350-$650,000 per year and with continued good fiscal management, fund balances should continue to be placed in the reserves in the future years.

When Wiggins asked for consideration of a motion regarding the matter, board member Tom Curran made a motion to call for a bond election, which received a second and was voted down three in favor and four against.

Then a motion was made to construct a track and field facility and fund it using the time warrants program and yearly funding. That motion passed four in favor three against, with Curran, Russell Jones and Pablo Gallier of voting “no” and Wiggins, John Haynes, Brandon Smith, and Dennis Hodge voting in favor.
Superintendent Lynn Redden requested the board hire Jeremy Zimmerman, a professional architect who has been active in the track proposal project from the beginning and has offered his services at a reduced rate. The board approved this action, with Curran dissenting.

A motion was then made to employ Live Oak Public Finance, Greiner’s organization, to secure the funding for the construction project, which would include offering the project to local financial institutions. Greiner told the board he anticipates an interest rate below 3%. The board also approved this action, with Curran dissenting.

In other discussion Monday night, Junior/Senior High Principal Anthony Roberts reported summer school is comprised of seventh and eighth grade students who did not pass their required class or did not meet the standard on math and/or reading STAAR assessments. Starting June 27 seventh grade students who did not pass a class or meet the standards will begin attending summer school, and the end of course assessments will be given the week of July 11.

School officials are still awaiting the results of the STAAR seventh grade writing reading and math test and the eighth grade science and social studies. Once the results arrive they can determining what students will need summer remediation.

In addition to summer school, the campus has been hosting basketball and cheerleading camps and the FFA students have been attending numerous camps and conventions.

Roberts told the board that the graduation at the Polk County Commerce Center was the best he is ever seen. Over 1,000 parents participated and the students enjoyed a solemn occasion in a comfortable environment.  Roberts said they are pleased to say they have begun to move into the new additions at the campuses and things are starting to come together. He said the students and staff are very thankful to the board and the community for providing such fine facilities.

David Murphy reported for the elementary campus where the summer school program is focusing on reading and math intervention and each student has an individualized accelerated plan.

The team of campus educators recently attended Dr. Randy Sprick’s CHAMPS training for proactive and positive approach to classroom management. Classroom teachers from kindergarten to sixth grade learned a lot about positive behavior support strategies and also now have ideas about how this program can systematically teach students how to behave responsibly in any school setting. The team will develop an action plan targeted at affecting the management practices campus wide, so that all students can feel and behave like champions, which will be implemented the next school year.

Murphy wanted to thank the summer school teachers who have given up there summer vacation to provide additional instruction and support for the Wildcat team. He especially named Laura Redden and Lisa Smith, for organizing and facilitating targeted professional development opportunities for staff this summer.
In other actions the board held a first reading of DNA local and DNB local, which pertain to the evaluation of teachers during the school year.

They approved bids for properties in Pine Harbor and Cedar Point that could be returned to the tax rolls after the other taxing entities vote on them. The minutes from the May 16 meeting were approved and the tax report reviewed with a collection rate of 92.7%, July 1 is when higher penalties accrue, so the rate will rise for the July report.

Livingston city council approves plat

livingston-town-center-map

The Livingston City Council met for its June monthly meeting Tuesday to approve a preliminary plat and proposed resolution to accept land.
Frank Nuchereno, vice president of the AP Development Incorporated, has platted a 40-acre area in the past at Highway 190 and 350. Because it has been more than a year, a new master plan and preliminary plat had to be prepared.

This time, the group has platted just 9.4 acres, or six lots, which have been discussed for use by Discount Tire Center. Filing the preliminary plat and master plan is the first step toward beginning to install utilities and infrastructure.

The city’s development coordinator and project engineer have both reviewed the plan and plat, advising they be accepted.

At May’s meeting, council voted to accept a donation of land in the Briar Bend subdivision. In order to officially take the action, council on Tuesday adopted the required resolution.

The land is Lot 53 Section 1 at the end of Briar Way, a street that runs north and south from Church Street. For many years, the city has wanted another through street between Church and Mill Ridge. This will give them the opportunity for that to happen. City manager Marilyn Sutton believes adding the options in that area at will open much of the traffic at that intersection.

The city also recognized the Rotary Club for its armed forces flag project, the First Baptist Church “Rise Up!” day of service, and the F.A.I.T.H. organization for its banner project that will soon begin.

City Manager Report

Major projects currently underway:  

The substation transformer project, designed and funded by the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency, includes the purchase and installation of seven transformers for the various electrical substations in the cities of Livingston, Liberty and Jasper, at an estimated cost of $8 million. SRMPA will purchase and install two new transformers for the Livingston electric substation located on Old Woodville Road as part of this project. Bids were opened on the transformers on Friday, Oct. 23, and the SRMPA Board of Directors awarded the bid to Delta Star, in amount of $4,669,631 at their regular meeting held Thursday, Oct. 29. Specifications and plans for the installation of the transformers will be developed by the project engineer with bids to be opened on the installation of the transformers in June of 2016. Installation of the first transformer for the Livingston substation is expected to be in service by February of 2017, with the second transformer installed and in service by April of 2018.

The TRA Water Treatment Plant Expansion Project increases the production of the city’s water treatment plant to five million gallons per day (MGD) plant versus the current three MGD plant with numerous upgrades to plant. The project ensures a sufficient long-term water supply for Livingston for years to come. Construction began in the fall of 2013 with an original contract time of 630 calendar days, or 21 months. Due to construction changes, equipment delivery schedules and numerous weather delays, the project has been extended substantially with the new estimated substantial completion date on June 27, 2016 and final completion on August 9.  

Financial:

Projections for revenue and expenditures on the 2016-2017 budget for the current fiscal year are complete and supervisory personnel have submitted their budget requests for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Analysis of current utility rates, personnel and staffing needs, as well as prioritizing of capital expenditures for the upcoming year, are underway. The city is on schedule to present the preliminary 2016-2017 budget to the city council at the August meeting.  

Events:

Main Street will hold Picnic in the Park Monday, July 4, at Anniversary Park beginning at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Music, bounce houses, slides, face painting, and a motorcycle and car show will be fun for the whole family. A kid’s parade begins at 10 a.m. on Mill Street adjacent to Anniversary Park. Hot dogs will be served by the F.A.I.T.H. organization and the Polk County Child Welfare Board will serve watermelon.

Livingston Municipal Library:
June 21 at 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the popular movie “Inside Out” will be shown. Bring your own snacks and enjoy the show!
June 22 at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the Bonzo Crunch will present a juggling/magic show.
June 28 at 11a.m. Ranger Daisy and Old Timer Raccoon return with a new adventure.
June 29 at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 am Leo the Lion will present a healthy choices program.
July 5 at 11 a.m. Kim Lehman will present a program called “The Buzz about Bees.” There will be music, props and lots of interactive activities for everyone.
July 6 at 10:30 a.m. an amazing aerodynamics program filled with rockets and other flying machines will be presented.  
July 7 at 11 a.m. a do-it-yourself smoothies program for teens will have tips on healthy eating.
July 12 at 1 p.m. the AgriLife Extension Office will present a program for adults who are considering retirement in the near future
Genealogy research workshops will be conducted weekly on June 23, June 30 and July 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The annual community clean-up event at Pedigo Park, which was cancelled due to inclement weather, has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 25 from 8 a.m. until noon.  
Construction work in progress:

An existing building is being renovated for Pit Row Pit Stop Café at the corner of First Street and Church Street as a diner-type café. Interior work is currently underway.  
The slab has been poured for the construction of a 7,104 square foot dialysis center, The Livingston Fresenius Medical Care, at the corner of West Park Drive and the US 59 North feeder road. The recent heavy rains have delayed the project.  

Site work is continuing on the construction of a new O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store in the 600 block of West Church Street. The recent heavy rains have delayed the project.

The slab has been poured and structural work is underway for the construction of O’Lucky’s Convenience Store/Restaurant Lease Space as an Exxon gas and convenience store with two lease spaces. The recent heavy rains have delayed the project.  

An interior remodel of Dr. Workman’s Clinic doctor offices on the US 59 North bypass is underway.  

Milam Street Coffee House and Bakery construction is complete and city staff made the final inspection on June 8. The owners have advised that they plan to open within the next few weeks, with June 20 as the tentative date.

The building permit has been issued for an interior remodel of a lease space in Northridge Plaza as a dental office on the US 59 North bypass feeder road and West Park Drive.  

Plans for a new state-of-the-art emergency room facility at CHI Hospital, at an estimated cost of $6 million, include a total of 37 ED stations, three trauma rooms, three fast-track rooms and six results-waiting stations.  A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 27. Final construction plans are expected for city review in mid-June.

The General Contractor on the project will be G.C. Forney, with an estimated construction time of seven months.  

Pending projects in development:

The city development staff has been contacted about building codes, fire codes, location of utilities and driveway access on property on US 190 West adjacent to the First National Bank building as the site of a new Discount Tire Center.

Other items to mention:

A date needs to be determined for the city council to meet for its Strategic Planning Workshop. There, the group will discuss and establish the priority projects for the next five years. The Supervisory Planning Workshop was held on Monday, May 23 and the citizen surveys were due May 31. As of today, we have received 280 responses to the citizen survey.  

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requires that all public water supply systems maintain a disinfectant residual in their drinking water to protect the public health.  As part of a proactive maintenance program for water distribution systems, public water supplies that use chloramines for disinfection need to switch to a free-chlorine disinfection process on a periodic basis. The Trinity River Authority (TRA), as the operator of the system that supplies and treats water for the City of Livingston, has notified the city that beginning Monday, June 20 through Monday, July 18, a temporary change will be made in the disinfectant that is used in treating the city’s water supply. In addition to the change in disinfection procedures, city crews will be flushing the water distribution system by opening fire hydrants in various parts of the city during the early morning hours to minimize inconvenience to customers.  

A meeting to update local officials on the Zika mosquito virus will be held on Wednesday, June 22 at 6 p.m. at the Watson building. The meeting has been organized by the Polk County Emergency Management staff and is open to the public.  

The city has notified the Polk County Clerk, who serves as the local election official, that city hall will no longer be available as a polling location. The lack of meeting room space to be used for voting and the limited parking makes this location less than desirable for citizens. The city has recommended that the Polk County Courthouse, the Polk County Judicial Center or the Polk County Commerce Center would be a better location for voting. The commissioners court will take action to make a change in the polling site. The city will continue to use city hall as the voting site for municipal elections, since these elections are held on the first Saturday of May and city hall does not experience the issues with elections held on a workday.

Stray dog action sought in Onalaska

ONALASKA – A dog catchpole, along with a request for action on stray dogs was presented to the Onalaska Police Department during the Onalaska City Council meeting last week.

During the public forum held to start the meeting, Paul Lafferty presented a dog catchpole to Police Chief Ron Gilbert, noting the donation was being offered because his wife, Bonnie, had been bitten on the ankle by a dog at a local facility where she was volunteering. Because the dog had no collar or other identification, there was an immediate question of whether rabies treatment should be administered.

Along with the catchpole donation, Lafferty presented a petition being circulated throughout subdivisions to request action on stray dogs inside the city limits that propose a hazard.

During the regular meeting, librarian Sherry Brecheen presented a scholarship from the Friends of the Onalaska Public Library to Shelby Sliger. The winner had applied for the scholarship at the beginning of the school year and worked as a volunteer throughout the year at the library. Sliger said she plans to attend Sam Houston State University and thanked all the members of the Friends group for this opportunity.

In her regular monthly report, Brecheen reported 1,021 current library users with 9,190 items available for checkout. The library was only open 15 days due to an illness, but 626 patrons checked out 777 books and 212 used the computers. Faxes, copies and finds were most of the income, along with two donations, for a total of $340. Volunteers worked 26.5 hours during the month.

In his report, Gilbert said police made 174 dispatched calls and responded to 1,108 other calls during the month. Officers made 14 felony arrests and 39 misdemeanor arrests, while writing 199 citations and issuing 76 warnings. OPD officers assisted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office 20 times during the month, logging 7,321 miles, opening 74 new cases, 19 of which were either DWI or narcotics related. Reserve officers worked a total of three days, putting in 24 hours total. Gilbert noted the reserves do not write tickets, leaving that up to regular officers so reserves do not have to make a special trip to attend court.

Onalaska Fire Chief Jay Stutts reported the volunteers made 57 calls in May, of which, 44 were medically related. They assisted other departments five times, made three lake rescues, handled one hazmat event, worked one motor vehicle accident, and responded to three structure fires. The actual breakdown was 24 calls in the county for 32 man-hours. There were 29 calls in the city for a total of 23 man-hours. One of the mutual aid calls was in response to the recent fire at the Corrigan-Camden ISD shop building.

Building inspector and fire marshal Lee Parrish reported eight permits and three certificates of occupancy were issued in May, including six for storage buildings, one for a commercial remodel and one for a new home. This resulted in a total of $748 in fees and an increase in value to the city of $154,153. His code enforcement work issued 16 warnings, with four already completed and now in compliance, with four more that are in the process of meeting compliance. As fire marshal, he conducted one investigation, which was a fire from electric short, due to a dog chewing on a cord. Very little damage resulted from the fire and the structure was still inhabitable.

In the library board meeting report, chairman Lew Vail asked council to approve the new policies document that was on the agenda for that night, survey results are still coming in from the May posting and they will continue until the end of June. He wanted everyone to know that the summer reading program registration has begun. The reading program events will be on Thursdays at the park pavilion at 4:30 p.m. It is free and everyone is welcomed to come out and learn about sports and fitness at the lake.

Counsel accepted the resignations of officer Thomas Moye, who is joining a school police department, and Officer David Lima, who is going into private business with his family. It was noted that both served honorably and will be eligible for rehire should they ever request such. Council then approved the hiring of David Hernandez to serve as a full-time police officer with the standard six-month probationary period.  Hernandez had been sworn in earlier, so council solidified that appointment.

Mayor Roy Newport announced that there has been a large interest recently in people thinking about building cabins to rent to the public on the property that they own inside the city limits. “The city has never had a cabin ordinance, because we never had a need for one,” Newport said. He gave council a proposed document, asked them to study it, and to be ready for recommendations at the July meeting.

Under announcements, Parrish said he would give the park pavilion’s usage schedule to the city’s website manager to post so all would know it’s availability. Newport asked for everyone to continue collecting funds to defray the cost of the annual fireworks show and remember to bring children down to enjoy the fishing contest and win prizes. Newport is working on a tribute to veterans during the performance.

Fees increase July 1 for dumping garbage

Santek-logo

LIVINGSTON – An increase in dumping fees at the county landfill and five trash collections stations was presented to Polk County Commissioners Tuesday during their regular meeting in Livingston.

The increases, which go into effect on July 1, were presented by Mike Demarco, general manager of Santek Waste Services, which operates the landfill and collection stations under a contract with the county. Under the contract, Santek is allowed to periodically adjust the rates.

Demarco told commissioners the rate change was needed to offset increased operating costs and noted the last time the landfill rates were changed was on April 1, 2014 while the collection station rates have not been changed since Jan. 1, 2013.

He noted the rates in question are the fees the public pays when they dispose of trash and other items at the landfill near Leggett or the collections stations located throughout the county. Fees paid by commercial haulers to use the landfill are on a different schedule and are adjusted annually.

One of the major changes being made to the fee schedule is the amount paid for bagged garbage. In the past, Santek had five different rates for different sizes of bags ranging from 13 gallons or less up to those that contain over 70 gallons.

“The biggest single area of dispute that we’ve had was over the size of the bags being dumped,” Demarco said. “We decided to simplify that.”
Under the new schedule, bags of up to 13 gallons in size will be priced at 45 cents – up from the current 35 cents. All bags that are sized at 14 gallons or larger will now be priced at $1.35 per bag.

Santek will continue to accept appliances of up to four cubic yards in size free of charge at the collection stations and there will be no change to the $15 fee for the disposal of mattresses at either the collections stations or landfill.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis noted that in the past they have had problems with people dumping unwanted appliances, mattresses and other items on the side of county roads, forcing commissioners to have to expend resources to clean the illegal dump sites.

“The public needs to understand that it’s cheaper for them to take their trash to the landfill or collection stations. It costs them much more if we have to spend tax dollars to clean up items dumped along the roads,” he said.

Energy program
In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved a financing package to purchase equipment needed as part of a plan to reduce the county’s energy bills. Under the plan the Way Companies will purchase and install the needed equipment that is guaranteed to greatly reduce the amount the county spends on electricity.

As part of the overall package, the Way Companies offered a financing plan for the equipment but gave the county the option make other arrangements. In April commissioners agreed to seek alternative financing for the $2.1 million project and on Tuesday learned that a bid had been received from JPMorgan Chase and Co. at a rate of 1.935%, which County Judge Sydney Murphy said would save the county about $230,000 in interest fees over the life of the loan.

Other business
During the meeting, commissioners also:

-- Agreed to allow Murphy to proceed with budget planning that would include a 2.5 percent cost of living pay increase for all county employees. Work on the 2016-17 budget, which would go into effect on Oct. 1 is now underway and commissioners are expect to hold workshop sessions and hearings on the spending plan during the coming weeks.

-- Decided not to regulate the sale of certain fireworks over the July 4 holiday. Murphy explained that under state law, commissioners had until June 15 to order that certain types of fireworks not be sold. After that date, they could only order a complete ban on all fireworks as part of an emergency order to deal with drought conditions.

-- Approved that sale of tax foreclosed subdivision lots in precincts 1, 2 and 4.

-- Learned from Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts that while Polk County has not yet been included in a federal disaster order stemming from May’s heavy rains and flooding, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be in the county next week to do a damage assessment.

-- Learned the sheriff’s department has been awarded as $27,550 grant to purchase additional body cameras for its deputies. The $10,400 in local matching funds needed for the grant has been obtained from donations from the community.

-- Recognized this year’s winners of the $1,000 Bobby Smith Memorial Scholarships. Sponsored by the county’s delinquent tax collection firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, the county awards one scholarship to a senior from the six local high schools. The 2016 winners included Travis Hendrix of Big Sandy High School, Savanna Knight of Corrigan-Camden High School, Kristen Lee Coker of Goodrich High School, Kimberly Christoph of Leggett High School, Sarrah Esser of Livingston High School and Darren Jennings of Onalaska High School.

Commissioners---scholarship

SCHOLARSHIP WINNER – Savanna Knight, a Corrigan-Camden High School senior, was recognized Tuesday by the Polk County Commissioners Court as one of the six winners of the $1,000 Bobby Smith Memorial Scholarships awarded by the court. The other winners, who were not able to attend the meeting, included Travis Hendrix of Big Sandy, Kristen Lee Coker of Goodrich, Kimberly Christoph of Leggett, Sarrah Esser of Livingston and Darren Jennings of Onalaska. Pictured above are (L-R) Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet, Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis, Knight, County Judge Sydney Murphy, Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent and Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis.

Goodrich council eyes new community center

GOODRICH - The City of Goodrich will meet Thursday to discuss the proposed new community center and the purchase of a lift station on FM 1988.

The 6 p.m. meeting will take place in Goodrich City Hall at 1003 U.S. Highway State Loop 393.

Council will discuss the closing on the purchase of property for the community center that was approved at a cost of $25,000 approximately three weeks ago.

In the February of 2014 monthly meeting, the Goodrich City Council decided on a community center for its 2015-2016 Texas Community Development Block Grant application to the Department of Agriculture.

The $275,000 grant was approved for construction of a community center, which is expected to include a parking lot, picnic tables, grills, and playground equipment.

The 2,000-square foot center will be placed on the property, located on Loop 393 with 150 feet of frontage to the road. On the property’s south side, it will adjoin the General Dollar store that is currently under construction and expected to open around August.

A new lift station on FM 1988 for Gulf South will also be a subject of conversation. The council has contemplated adding Gulf South into the city limits.

In other items, the city will discuss disaster relief, the 2016-2017 budget and de-annexing four properties from the city.