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C-CISD announces changes to dress code policy, lunches

By Beverly Cockrell

CORRIGAN –With school just days – hours – away, Corrigan-Camden Assistant High School Principal Javier Perez wants all students to be aware of some changes to this year's dress code and lunch procedures. All students and parents are strongly advised to carefully review the following modifications to the Corrigan-Camden High School Student Handbook:

• "Facial hair may be worn, if neatly trimmed and at the discretion of the campus administrator. This policy will be re-evaluated at the end of each six weeks.

• Designs or shaving in of the eyebrows is considered GANG RELATED and will not be permitted.

• Hats, caps, picks, hoods, bandanas, sweatbands, or head coverings are not allowed. This applies to both boys and girls.

• Headphones are prohibited. Ear buds are the only source of approved headphones allowed.

• Inappropriate tattoos must be covered.

• All food has to come through the front office for lunches. No exceptions.

• Parents are the only visitors allowed during lunch. All other visitors have to be approved by campus administrators."

Obviously, these changes are in the best interest of all students, teachers and staff in order to promote a positive and safe learning environment. Should you have any questions or need more information about these important changes, please feel free to contact Javier Perez, Assistant Principal, at the high school.

C-CISD hires new food services director

By Beverly Cockrell

Debbie Hueske, C-CISD General Manager of Food ServicesCORRIGAN – Debbie Hueske is the new General Manager of Food Services for Corrigan-Camden ISD. She was hired at the end of the last school term replacing Josh Bain who took a position out of state. Both Hueske and Bain are employees of Southwest Foodservice Excellence ("SFE") which is the food service company with whom C-CISD contracts for PreK-12 child nutrition services.

Hueske was born and raised in Houston. Her parents owned a bakery, so from early on, food was an important part of her life. In 1998, she moved to Brenham with her husband and eventually worked for Brenham ISD in the food services department. In 2008, she moved to Livingston and was employed by Livingston ISD as the cafeteria manager for the junior high. When the position of General Manager became vacant late last school year at C-CISD, she was recommended for the position. She took the job which entails overseeing food services for the entire district. One might say she has one of the most important jobs at the district by making sure all our children are provided an opportunity for nutritious, well-balanced meals.

Hueske shared that she has three children, Matt, Toria, and Andy. She also has two stepchildren, Charlie and Taylor. Between them all, she has ten grandchildren. She commented that she recently babysat her newest grandchild who is three weeks old!

Hueske states that there is a major change in this year's breakfast program at C-C Elementary. It's called Breakfast in Classroom or "BIC".

"Beginning this school year, each and every student is offered a free breakfast in the classroom. They can eat all or nothing of this breakfast. If a student does not want a particular item, they can place it on what is called a "share table" and those students who may still be hungry can take more offerings. The PreK students will have this same Breakfast in Classroom but at a different time and with a different menu."

Both CCISD's junior high and high school campuses will continue the "Grab 'N Go" breakfast plan from last year.

"The junior high and high school will continue with the "Grab 'N Go" breakfast during their second period or 2.5 period. This breakfast option is free to all students. Junior high and high school students will still be offered breakfast prior to the start of class. Menus for all campuses will be out very soon," Hueske said.

As far as lunches, free lunches will be available as in the past for those who qualify. Otherwise, the prices and menus will vary according to the campus. Forms, menus, pricing and applications will be provided in registration packets.

Please welcome Debbie Hueske as our newest member of the C-CISD Family.

Council approves sewer service for OSB plant

By Lew Vail
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CORRIGAN – Corrigan City Council and RoyOMartin company, signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday evening establishing sewer connections and rates for service for the oriented strand board (OSB) plant now under construction just outside of the city.

The agreement was approved following discussion with the city's financial advisor, David Waxman, as well as a representative from Goodwin Lasiter Engineers and RoyOMartin's local management. A presentation is planned this week before the Polk County Commissioners Court in Livingston to finalize the water service to the manufacturing plant, which is set to open in September 2017.
With the sewer agreement now in place, the city can upgrade its current sewer processing facility and to prepare for that upgrade they selected Goodwin Lasiter Engineers for that specific endeavor. Waxman has been preparing the financing requests for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and expects to have a hearing sometime in June.

In other business, the council appointed Inez Wiser as election judge for this year's city council election and tentatively named Cecil Hance and Beaulah Hood to the early voting ballot board.

After a discussion regarding the possible changes in garbage collection with a contract to Pineywoods Garbage service, council tabled the matter until a special called meeting set for Thursday afternoon, Feb. 25, to allow for more citizen input regarding the change to once a week pickup. While the rate will stay the same — any increase would have to be approved by council — residential users currently have twice a week pickup.

Corrigan-Camden Independent School District Superintendent Sherry Hughes addressed the council regarding the activities at the school with regard to the recent bond election and the progress of the security changes being implemented using the bond money. She also told council the school would like to be more proactive in the lives of the students after school and in the community and asked council to join with the district in providing incentives to youth to stay out of trouble and have good role models.

Council reviewed the financial reports, passed a resolution regarding the signature cards at Citizen State Bank due to the appointment last month of a new city secretary, adding Carrie Casper to the cards with Darrian Hudman, Mayor Jonathan Clark, and Johnna Lowe Gibson, as signers. They also approved the minutes from the January meeting.

Police Chief Darrell Gibson reported 18 arrests for the period Jan. 20 through Feb.15 as well as 1,003 citations issued, 177 calls for service, 1,315 building checks and a total of 17 investigations, with 14 being forwarded to the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's office for prosecution. There was only one vehicle accident with no fatalities.

The fire department responded to 10 incidents including three car fires, two each of structure and grass fires and one each vehicle wreck, burn victim and gas spill.

During council forum Johnna Lowe-Gibson asked why the other city departments were not in attendance at council meetings as requested in January. The librarian was present along with Chief Gibson. Hudman said he would follow-up and have representatives next month. Lowe-Gibson also suggested, for safety reasons, having two or more officers present at large events, such as when the football stadium is used for parties. She also stated that people in town complained about the police ticketing "local" drivers. She wanted everyone know that state law makes no provisions for only ticketing out-of-town offenders. "We all have to obey the laws," she said.

Johnnie Marie Brooks said the city should have better grass and weed control, adding before the spring growing season starts she doesn't want to see snakes hiding in the bushes. She asked the maintenance department to get to work on the matter.

Polk County eyes energy savings plan

By Brian Besch
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LIVINGSTON – Tuesday's meeting of the Polk County Commissioners Court heard a presentation from Way Companies and Polk Central Appraisal District.

The Way Companies informed the court of a program that could potentially save the county money on its energy. The company's objective is to fund infrastructure upgrades to create a positive cash flow so that money may be invested back into the county.

The count would spend no capital upfront and would pay the Way Company fees from the difference in energy savings.

The projects usually last around 10-15 years. A team of engineers, financial advisors and technical employees toured the county during a feasibility study, monitoring buildings and infrastructure.

The company is looking to go a step further, with what they call a "detailed audit," where they would confirm findings to this point and work with the county to find solutions.

The group would install LED lighting countywide, retrofit old air conditioners and install a computer control system in the jail. The latter of those would save water, maintenance and operational costs by giving corrections officers more control over the cells without having to be inside them.

The annual savings for the county is expected to be around $234,000, something that is expected to increase three percent yearly as energy costs rise. The fees Way Companies would charge would total approximately $197,000 each year, creating a 15-year savings of nearly $1.4 million.

According to the State of Texas, the agreement would be a performance contract, which must be guaranteed by Way Companies and is audited every year. At the end of the year, if the savings do not match what the company says they are, the company must write a check to the county for the difference.

The program was established in the mid-1980s and has already been installed in Liberty County, where representatives have given positive reviews. If approved, the program could start by May of next year.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet made a motion to approve the program, but Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis suggested it be tabled for research. The item will be revisited in two weeks.

The court heard a report from the Polk Central Appraisal District regarding the 2015 mineral valuations. Mineral investor contractors have made several miscues impacting the overall total amount reported.

One error is large, totaling $8 million in value, equating to around $50,000 in county tax money. The errors were said to be clerical data entry mistakes into the Polk CAD appraisal system. Other counties have also experienced errors.

The district is putting steps in place to prevent similar oversights from occurring. Contractors have completely revamped their quality control systems. The CAD will require any mineral contractor to have at least $1 million insurance in error and omission insurance. Every signed settlement and waiver will be sent to management for review.

Willis suggested that the Polk CAD "look long and hard before they renew that contract."

The county's yearly activity report revealed that a total of 124 positions within the county have been posted over the past year. The human resources department has processed 38 resignations, 17 retirements, seven dismissals and seven separations.

Commissioners approve abatement ordinance; burn ban continues

By Brian Besch
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LIVINGSTON — Tuesday's meeting of the Polk County Commissioners Court approved an abatement ordinance to handle nuisance property in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The discussion over a policy to handle dilapidated and abandoned structures has continued for weeks, with commissioners concerned about invading the property rights of landowners when it comes to overgrown lots or acreage.

State law allows counties to tear down structures that pose a health hazard, but the policy commissioners considered expanding that to buildings that pose a nuisance.

Commissioners accepted a recommendation from Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts to not lift the current burn ban at this time.

"Same song, different verse from two weeks ago," Pitts said of the ban. "Basically, nothing has changed and the numbers are a little bit worse."

A reconsideration of personnel to reclassify a staff position at the district attorney's office was approved, pending the additional resources come from an appellate fund.

Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon said he wished to approve a pay increase to a staff member by $3,155, who was performing the same job as his victim assistance coordinator. Hon felt the money fell under grants that the office had earlier procured.

The move, County Judge Sydney Murphy argued, would need a corresponding action to amend the budget, which had been set for the year.

"The only limitations (Hon) had was some miscellaneous items and we did that across the board," Murphy said. "We did that with everybody. Given that most of his budget is personnel, we did not want to reduce excessively. If we did, that would mean people would be laid off and we're trying to avoid that. I'm trying to balance a budget,"

"You're trying to balance it out of my operating budget, which has already been reduced by 16 percent," Hon answered. "You're just taking money out of one pocket and sticking it in another, as far as I'm concerned."

The money for the salary was taken from funds earmarked for the district attorney's office if a case is taken to appellate court. Murphy argued that by using that money, the budget would remain balanced and if a case was taken to appellate court, the county would be required to finance any such case.

Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District General Manager Gary Ashmore said of all the 14 counties and districts covered, Polk and San Jacinto County is "water rich," with the largest water limit of any of the surrounding counties.

"It is wonderful for economic development," Ashmore said. "It is a big draw, because places like Conroe and Montgomery County are not allowed to sink wells. It is against regulations. No one can have a private well and they have to reduce all of their groundwater usage by 60 percent in the next two years. It is a nice opportunity — in my personal opinion — for San Jacinto and Polk County to appeal to companies that want to come here, because we have a big margin for water usage." Ashmore said the Groundwater Conservation District also monitors for drought conditions and that the county is currently in a level two drought. If level three is reached for 90 consecutive days, there are state guidelines that go into place for utility companies.

Since 2006, there have been 1,000 private wells registered in Polk and San Jacinto County. In 2014, 7,900 acre-feet of water was pumped in the area. The limit for the area is 53,000 acre-feet, meaning about 14 percent was pumped.

The commissioners approved a service agreement contract with the IAH secure adult detention facility by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to extend the period of performance through March of 2016.

The facility will operate under the standards of ICE. It will not need various services required for a population of Texas jails, which include anything from the worst offenders to processing. The main impact will be a decrease in operating costs at the facility by about $70,000 per month and reduction in staffing costs.

Also approved was the installation of cameras, recorders and exercise equipment to be purchased and installed by IAH operators. ICE will reimburse the operators through contract modification.

Smith selected as court clerk

By Lew Vail
Enterprise staff
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CORRIGAN – Municipal Judge Wayne Yankie presented a review of the process he used in selecting new court clerk, Sheila Smith.
He indicated his choice for the position has experience in county government (currently working for Polk County) and has a background that fits with his court procedures. He will hire Smith with a six-month probationary period.

Yankie asked council to approve the hiring, effective Oct. 1, to which, council voted in favor. During the review of the current month's expenses and financials, council asked city manager Darrian Hudman to place the codes for department categories at the bottom of a page of the printout.

It will facilitate their defining where funds are allocated. Council approved the reports and expenditures.

Council approved the minutes of the August meetings, with one correction noted by Hudman. Having reviewed the 2015-16 budget during workshops, council passed a $2,681,111 budget by unanimous vote. Action on setting the ad valorem tax rate was tabled until a procedural question could be addressed.

Hudman said he would have an answer early Wednesday and council would be able to decide whether a special meeting would be necessary or if the action could wait until the regular October meeting. A copy of the budget is available at city hall during business hours.

Police Chief Darrell Gibson reported the department arrested 15 persons during the period of Aug. 18 – Sept. 14. The number of citations written was not available, due to a clerk's illness. They made 205 calls for service and performed 1,843 building checks and opened 16 cases, one of which was forwarded to the district attorney's office for prosecution.

There was a discussion regarding the recent armed robbery and the fact that the person who committed the crime, was under age 18. Council asked Gibson what could be done about these young people breaking curfew and roaming the streets.

Gibson answered, "We can't make the parents take care of them, they get fined and just don't seem to care." Gibson added that there are several who do not seem to have a home to go to and just spend their nights on the street.

There was no fire department report for August and no city manager's report given, as Hudman is still shorthanded in city hall working both his position and the city secretary's. The meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.