GOODRICH -- After each side had an opportunity to speak in county commissioners court over the past month, the Holiday Lake Estates Civic Club and Holiday Lake Estates Volunteer Fire Department met to discuss the possible renewal of a lease.
Polk County Judge Sidney Murphy attended the meeting with the hopes of addressing an ongoing problem in Polk County.
“What I’d like for you to think about is where you want to be in 10 years,” Murphy said to a gathering of approximately 40 people. “In 10 years, where do you want to be as a community? I can tell you where you want to be, you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want your civic club, but you want to have a volunteer fire department also.”
Murphy told those in attendance that the decision was theirs to make, but did offer suggestions. The volunteer fire department needs one acre of land. Murphy suggested that everyone in the community pool their resources to purchase what is necessary. Murphy also suggested the civic club offer a 99-year lease on one acre so the two could remain independent from one another. “If you find a way to be separate and independent, and allow the volunteer fire department to operate however they choose, that will allow the civic club to proceed as they see fit. Either way, you need both. You want both organizations to be healthy. My hope would be that you start thinking of good positive solutions instead of rehashing.”
The civic club and volunteer fire department have drawn up several leases, none of which have been agreed upon. Civic Club Chairman Jeff Anderson said the original lease that was signed by he and Fire Chief Bobby Bidwell two years ago had wording that some people, including the club’s attorney, did not like.
The volunteer fire department and civic club are separate entities and the only thing that held the two together was the lease. One of the leases previously presented was a triple net lease that the fire department refused, and a spokesperson for the fire department said they would never sign.
Anderson said the largest reason for the problems have been insurance.
According to Murphy, a 99-year lease on a one-acre plot of land would solve the problem, allowing the fire departments to operate separately. The civic club would retain ownership of the land if the fire department were to ever dissolve.
At meeting’s end, the volunteer fire department presented Anderson and the civic club with a proposed lease agreement for their review.
LIVINGSTON -- Janan Moore presented the Texas Academic Performance Report, which showed Livingston schools just behind the state average in a few areas. Livingston is also a bit behind the state average in sending students to college.
The problem has been addressed, as students are receiving additional help in subjects they have fallen behind. Students will also receive extra education when starting school, as the pre-K classes have gone to all day.
"I know that change is difficult and some of the initiatives we are engaging in are challenging, but when you look at the data, you can't argue with it," Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. "It is the right thing to do. Our kids deserve to be at or above the state average. The kids a graduate from Livingston High School have the opportunity to graduate with 60 college hours. We have a lot of work to do and it's not going to be easy. It goes back to the curriculum audit that we had. We know what the problems are. Are we willing to pay the price and make the changes?"
The Roy O. Martin Lumber Company has begun a program at Corrigan-Camden High with plans that will soon extend to Livingston, Diboll and Jasper.
The name of the program is "woodworks" and is an educational opportunity for students to get a job interview after graduation. The program has been in place for nearly a decade in Louisiana, with around 10 schools participating.
A 30-week lesson will expose students to forestry, safety, employability skills, tools and equipment, product development and basic math. The students that complete the course will receive a certificate. Right now, 30 percent of employees at the plants are going through the program.
In other business, Kip Robins discussed phone needs for the district. The technology department has taken over the phone system. In the past, the district received discounted rates for the phones through E-Rate, however, those savings will be cut in the future. Robbins said the district could save money by using technology available instead of all the phone lines that exist today. The school currently has
One solution is to install an in-house system where it is managed by the school. The cost savings would be around 60-75 percent. Another solution would be using digital lines, decreasing the number of phone lines, with a cost savings of around 25 percent. The district currently has 208 phone lines.
CORRIGAN – The base bid and one alternate were approved by the Corrigan-Camden Independent School District's board for security and handicapped access upgrades approved last year by voters.
During their January meeting, the board met with Mark Strong,with Gallagher Construction for the discussion and action on bids for work covered by the bond issue.
Superintendent Sherry Hughes explained there was a base proposal covering the majority of the electrical, fire monitoring, handicapped upgrades, new stands and covered walkways, plus the security systems and monitoring equipment.
In addition to the base bid, there were three alternate bids to be considered after the final costs are realized with the remaining bond funds. The first project had a preliminary bid of $60,000, which came in at $120,000 when finally submitted and has been set aside for more research. The second alternate was the repair and reworking of the door between the cafeteria and gym and third was the remodeling and necessary upgrading of the faculty restrooms at the high school.
After discussion, the board voted to fund the base proposal and alternate three as essential. Other items will be evaluated after the major work is complete and the board determines that funds are available for the work.
Strong said they would work on the stands during the spring break.
The total bids are $2 million and will leave some funds after completion to be used for the other projects, and depending on some costs, there may be additional savings realized.
In other action, with the purchase of school busses now an eight-month process to have one built and ready for delivery, the board authorized ordering a Thomas bus for the bid price of $95,000. Funding will be determined when delivery time arrives in August or September. Whether it comes from fund balances or bond money will be decided by the board.
Hughes also reported that they now have a second special needs student bus. The district had students stranded last semester when the special needs bus broke down and the transportation department was offered a used two-passenger fully equipped bus for $7,100.
In principals' reports, the high school reported that the gifted and talented class is starting an "Hour of Code" program to explore simple computer programming.
The Tech Team traveled to the Apple Store in the Woodlands and learned about becoming an Apple team member and possibly an Apple employee. They played with the newest Apple products and new Microsoft products. Upon returning to campus, they installed iMacs in the Primary school, which had been given to the school for free.
In the UIL competition in January, current issues was won by the team of Jorge Felix, Mary Duran and Reed. Spelling and vocabulary had second-place team of Kathryn Suittle, Marianna Venegas and Maria Farfan. Calculator applications team took second place and was composed of Gladys Felipe, Jessica Anastacio and Shelby Walker. In ready writing, Bradley Cavanaugh took sixth.
The board also learned the band instruments are being delivered and the musicians are elated. They will participate in the TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association) conference, one of the largest in the United States, where they will collaborate with other musicians and play some of the finest instruments made and played with world-class musicians.
The junior high reported attendance of 209, down from 215 at the start of school. There are 56 girls and 55 boys competing in athletics, 64 in band there were 36 "A" honor roll students and 38 "AB" honor roll students. Seven are in ISS (in school suspension) and two in DAEP (alternative education program), attendance was at 97.26 percent.
The elementary school had one first place in UIL competition. Eva Perez won in dictionary skills. Second place winners were Sabine Snyder, Aden Stanley and Anthony Harrell. Third place went to Kathryn Fisher and Michael Sullivan. Fourth place was earned by Gavyn Bradford, Shaun Chancellor, Morgan Rayborn, Lauren Woodard. In fifth place was Corbiltt Brogden, Braylan Harrell, Gabriel Vera, Omar Vera and sixth place was Carrie Burns, Julio Guerrero, Daliyah Reagie and Kallen. Leslie Ricks was campus coordinator. Primary school student Klaridy Vera was fourth in story telling and Andrea Ramirez placed fourth in creative writing. They are administering the OWL (Ontology Web Language) to pre-K students assessing their skill level. Staff development is using the Fundamental Five, Framing the Lesson, Power Zone, Recognize and Reinforce, Small Group Purposeful Talk and Critical Writing to improve classroom instruction.
The board approved the December minutes and also approved the third reading the contents of update 103 BF (Local) board policies. They also approved the final amounts for 2015-16 Notice of grant award.
Results of the early retirement program show that eight teachers will be leaving C-CISD after the term ends in June, six are retiring, one moving closer to family and one leaving the profession to try the private sector. These announcements will allow the administration to either fill or re-designate teachers to fill positions.
After an executive session the board extended the contract of Superintendent Sherry Hughes for one additional year and authorized her to continue to negotiate for certain real property discussed in that session.
CORRIGAN -- Mike Wilson and Sonny Hubbard with Pineywoods Sanitation presented a plan last week to the Corrigan City Council that would allow the company to take over the garbage collection and service for both residential and business customers within the city.
The plan calls for Pineywoods to buy the current vehicle and all collection cans, paying the city nearly $150,000.
One major change would be the collection of residential trash only one day a week, down from the twice-weekly service now offered. Business pick-up would not change. When asked about rates, Wilson said they have several customers they bought out over the last four to five years and prices have not been increased.
Wilson also pointed out they have a fleet of trucks and if one broke down they could have a replacement in town picking up within a matter of an hour or so. Council will take the matter under consideration and seek input from residents.
City Manager Darrian Hudman asked council to approve the employment of Carrie Casper to serve as city secretary. Hudman said she has been handling those duties for training and evaluation and he feels she is the right person for the task. Council approved hiring Casper.
Council called for a general election to be held May 7. Positions open for election include those currently held by Mayor Jonathan Clark, and Position 2 Councilman Bill Safford and Position 4 Councilman Earlie C. Baldwin. Filing began Jan 20 for those positions.
When it was time for the city department reports, Hudman said he has asked both the municipal court and library to furnish updates to council monthly in addition to the reports that have been presented by the police and fire departments.
Judge Wayne Yankee reported that his court, since Nov. 15, has handled 1,799 cases including 1,684 traffic, six city ordinance complaints, 100 misdemeanors and five alcohol related matters. The librarian reported that they had almost 4,000 patrons with cards and a large collection of material. She will furnish monthly reports.
Council member Johnnie Marie Brooks said she is in the library often and that it needs some updating and improvement. Specifically she said the exterior lighting is woefully dim and that she and other women do not feel safe going at night. Hudman said he would review the situation.
Police Chief Darryl Gibson reported 17 arrests, 1,025 citations issued, 179 calls for service and 1,685 building checks between Dec. 16 and Jan. 18. They worked 21 cases referring three to the district attorney's office and there were seven accidents with no fatalities.
The volunteer fire department responded to 12 calls including two each of structure and grass fires, one each of vehicle wreck with life flight, medical assistance, vehicle fire, control burns, a burn victim and one lift assistance.
ONALASKA – School construction in Onalaska is proceeding and is expected to be completed before the August start of the 2016-2017 school years, members of the Onalaska School Board were told this week.
During the board meeting Superintendent Lynn Redden said he along with contractor Jim Kingman and the onsite project manager met Friday and they are showing more progress every day.
Also discussed was the painting of the existing building in order to have the exterior match the new construction. Redden said the roof on the existing junior high/high school needs refurbishing, noting the plastic over coating is 15 years old and was a very thin membrane to start with. The board will have to discuss the needed repairs as soon as bids are developed, leaks need to be sealed. Also discussed was the banning of concealed and open carry weapons on school property. At present there is a question regarding the parking lots not being covered by the "not allowed" doctrine and the Texas Attorney General has been asked to clarify the issue. No weapons are permitted at any sports events and stadiums while games are in progress as well as in all school facilities. Proper signage is in place.
Elementary school Principal David Murphy reported that 333 second through sixth grade student enjoyed parties for achieving their goals for the second nine weeks. They have a program titled iAcheive, which tracks their progress.
The semester awards presented Friday were for principals honor roll, teachers honor roll, perfect attendance and exemplary behavior with kindergartners through sixth graders recognized.
On Friday, Jan. 22, the Star Students will have lunch with administrators. Teachers have conducted two planning sessions in January using common database programing developing the third nine-week plans. Middle of the year screening for math and reading for grades K, four, five and six have been conducted in preparation for STARR testing. They have a new math teacher, Charley Vandver who joined the staff in January.
JHSH Principal Anthony Roberts recognized the Ag FFA teachers Adam Graham, Jessica Graham and Marlee Foxworth for guiding the teams in state competition. He is confident that next year the school will have a state champion. He also recognized the FFA for hosting the "beauty pageant," with this year's winning being Tevan "Ty" Gaston.
Also recognized were Angela Kennedy and her staff for hosting the UIL completion where several students and teams medaled, and for making the Angel Tree project a success with 99 families being served. The one act play, guided by Brandi Green, was a success with Ginny Boyce winning all-star cast honors, Maddie Stelk being named to the all-star crew and William Boyce and Kayla Johnson earning honorable mentions.
The Onalaska Band and Choir's Christmas program, under the direction of Kay Randolph, was a success and they also played for the art dinner, sponsored by Maggie Leysath, Brandi Green and Nick Curry where the art department, JROTC, drama department, choir and band had a show for almost 200 displaying activities other than sports.
Homecoming queen is Tara Hayes and king is Darren Jennings.
Mock STARR/EOC testing will be Feb. 8, 9 and 10 for seventh grade writing, eighth grade reading and English 1 and math. The military ball will be Feb. 6 starting at 6 p.m., FFA Buyers Group dinner is Feb. 13 and there will be a junior high dance on Feb. 19. Laura Redden, curriculum specialist, conducted a review of the special programs including the accountability required by the state and where the students rank. Board President Ted Wiggins asked if there were many 'red' marks, referring to the various color coding so prevalent in the report, and Redden said "very few, and we are addressing them." There is also more tracking of students after they graduate and attend college or technical schools.
Charles Boyce reviewed the Internet Safety Policies for the public hearing and discussion. Software is working well in blocking and reporting improper searches. One glitch is that a word like 'strip' -- as in seeking a 'film strip' -- will cause a search to be listed for review by a counselor, but those incidents are few and cleared quickly.
The board also conducted a public hearing on the 2105-16 Annual Report.
The board called for an election for trustees for May 7 for a pair of two-year term for appointed members Tom Curran (Position 3) and John Hayne (Position 6) and a trio of three-year terms for Brandon Smith (Position 1), Dennis Hodge (Position 2) and Ted Wiggins (Position 5). Filing starts January 20 and packets may be picked up at the administration office during normal business hours. Action was taken to lease election equipment and hold a joint election with the city of Onalaska.
Five properties on the delinquent tax role were approved and one denied for not meeting the minimal criteria for approval. The consent agenda consisting of tax report, quarterly investment report and a budget amendment were approved the minutes of the Nov. 16 meeting were approved.
After an executive session the board extended Redden' contract for an additional year and accepted the resignation of Duke Barrier.
LIVINGSTON -- On Tuesday, the January meeting of the Livingston City Council approved new flags, pay estimates, and heard the monthly city manager report.
Dan Ellis attended the meeting on behalf of the Livingston Rotary Club flag project to review plans and seek council input for the special flags they are proposing at the pond near U.S. 59 and Highway 190.
The city has contacted property owner Cannon Pritchard to exercise the option to extend the lease agreement for the pond property for a five-year period.
Plans were accepted to add five or six 30-foot smaller flagpoles around the current flagpole, with each flag representing each branch of the military. Ellis said he hopes to have the flags in place before Veteran's Day.
A final pay estimate for $71,160 and change order for $36,478 from Longview Bridge and Road for the city's street improvement project was approved, as was a resolution authorizing a final pay estimate and change order of the project. City Manager's Report
Major Projects Currently Underway: The Express Feeder Project is designed and funded by the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency and includes a new feeder from the Livingston substation to the Ogletree substation. It will provide additional reliability in service. The 2.7 miles of construction is an overbuild of the city's existing distribution system and has been completed. The project is expected to be complete within the next 30 days.
The Substation Transformer Project is also designed and funded by the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency. It includes the purchase and installation of seven transformers of the various electrical substations in the cities of Livingston, Jasper and Liberty at an estimated cost of $8 million. 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 after the first of the year.
The TRA Water Treatment Plant expansion project increases the plant to a 5 million gallon per day plant versus the current 3 MGD plant with numerous upgrades. It ensures long-term water supply to Livingston for the future. The scheduled completion for the project has moved back to early 2016 due to construction changes, equipment delivery schedules and weather delays. The project has been delayed substantially with the new estimated substantial completion date in February 2016 and final completion in March 2016.
The sewer lift station upgrades have Duplichain Contractors, LLP as the contractor, which expands and upgrades the sanitary sewer lift station on the US 59 south bypass to allow for future growth along the US S9 bypass US 190 West corridor.
Due to the recent inclement weather and delays in equipment delivery, the contractor had been delayed in starting work, which began Sept. 28. The contractor has made progress and it is expected to be complete by the end of the month. The total construction cost of the project is $451,010.
Events: Livingston Municipal Library is closed for biennial inventory Jan. 1-16. The library will reopen Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The Friends of the Library book adoption day will be Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Genealogy research help will be Jan. 21-28 and Feb. 4-11 at 10 a.m.
The annual employee awards and appreciation dinner will be held Friday, Feb. 5, at the Watson Building with employees who have earned service awards, attendance awards, safety awards and volunteer awards during 2015 being recognized.
The 16th Annual Multicultural Festival will be Monday, Jan. 18, at Livingston Junior High beginning at 5 p.m. The festival will include a variety of cultural entertainment and local talent, a fish fry, health fair, job fair, drug awareness and safety fair, and information on voter registration, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, as well as DETCOG programs and service.
Construction Work In Progress: Holiday Inn Express is adding a fitness center at the existing hotel in Southpoint Center.
Livingston ISD is in the process of constructing eight tennis courts at the high school with plans for the courts to be in use by the spring.
Premier Nail Bar is a new salon that also serves wine to customers and will be located beside Donut Express and Subway on North Washington with the proposed opening within a few weeks. This is the old location of ShukyDee's Ice Cream that is undergoing renovations.
The Milam Street Coffee House and Bakery includes a renovation of the old Cassity's Café located on North Washington. Plans include a complete interior renovation of the property, which will include bakery item, a coffee shop, and a light lunch menu.
Pit Row Pit Stop Café is planned for the existing building at the corner of First Street and Church Street as a diner-type café.
Siegleman's Deli will be in the old My Place location and has recently opened. The business was previously located at the corner of Feagin and North Washington.
The Concrete Batch Plant has received an air permit to operate at 709 U.S. Highway 59 South feeder road just south of Bound Chevrolet on the site of the old J.C. Smith plant. Work is progressing on the project with utilities connected in January. The office building will be moved in and the plant is expected to arrive this week.
Gary Davis has purchased the Coats Law Office located at 408 North Jackson and is renovating the property.
Pending Projects in Development Plans are developing and a groundbreaking is planned for a new state-of-the-art emergency room facility at CHI Hospital at an estimated cost of $6 million. The project will include a total of 37 ED stations, three trauma rooms, three fast-track rooms and six results-waiting stations. The new emergency room is expected to open by June of 2016.
A proposed plat revision has been submitted to the Community Development staff for a site at the intersection of West Park Drive and the U.S. 59 North feeder road. Initial plans call for the construction of a 7,104 square foot dialysis center to be called Livingston Fresenius Medical Care. A pre-development meeting was held Oct. 30 and plans are currently under review by city and TxDOT staff. O'Reilly's Auto Parts held a pre-development meeting Oct. 22 with the owner of the new store to be located in the 600 block of West Church Street.
The Polk County Mission Center of Hope had a predevelopment meeting on Nov. 16 for the construction of the new facility at Garner and South Washington. Fundraising for the construction project will begin in January of 2016. It is currently in the design phase. The Polk County Farm Bureau office has plans underway to expand the existing office on the U.S. North bypass. The general contractor has advised that they are waiting on the metal building plans.
Other Items To Mention: In early 2016, the city will begin the development of a new five-year capital improvement plan that will include the 2016 citizen survey, a supervisory personnel planning workshop, and a city council strategic planning session.
A general election for the purpose of electing a mayor and two council members will be called for Saturday, May 7. The first day for a candidate to file is Jan. 20 and the last day to file is Feb. 19.
The City of Livingston will host the "Tony Korioth Supervisory Academy" which is offered through the Texas Municipal League on March 15-17 at the Polk County Commerce Center. The training program will be offered to employees of all cities in the area at no cost. It is recognized as a valuable resource for both new and experienced supervisors.