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CITY OF GLADEWATER BOARD's RECRUITMENT AND APPOINTMENT POLICY

 
The City of Gladewater is seeking volunteers to serve on its various boards. The City Council recently revised its board member selection policies in an effort to broaden its scope and open the process up to a wider field of applicants.
Below is the city's policy and its various boards. The form can be obtained at the city's website: http://www.cityofgladewater.com/
 
REVISED POSTING: The previous posting contained information that was not updated. The information below is the newest version and contains the policy amended by the city council on Aug. 15, 2013.

CITY OF GLADEWATER
BOARD RECRUITMENT AND APPOINTMENT POLICY
Adopted August 15, 2013

PURPOSE

The City of Gladewater wishes to encourage community involvement by engaging citizens of diverse backgrounds, skill sets and innovative ideals to serve on city boards. To accomplish the goal of greater participation in city government, the city will endeavor to actively recruit interested individuals through a variety of public media resources.

Each board is structured by ordinance as to the purpose, number of members, terms, requirements and meeting frequency. 

City appointed boards consist of; Airport, Cemetery, GEDCO, Lake, Library, Main Street, Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustments.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

The following individuals are eligible to serve City of Gladewater boards and commissions;

Ad-valorem tax-paying residents, business owners, renters and/or lessees of property within the corporate city limits of Gladewater; and/or
Individuals possessing specific knowledge, skill sets or expertise that have demonstrated interest in the betterment of Gladewater.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS

All persons interested in serving on a City appointed board must do so by submitting an application form provided by the City Secretary.
A recruitment notice will be published in the Gladewater Mirror and Longview News Journal twice each year with information on the various boards and the application process.
A permanent notice will be posted on the City of Gladewater website along with the application form.
City officials are to improve public awareness and encourage public service by speaking at civic organizations regarding the various city boards and their functions.

REVIEW AND APPOINTMENT PROCESS

City Secretary to receive and review applications for completeness and eligibility. Once eligibility is determined, applications are forwarded to each board for consideration. 
Each board will give consideration to the pool of applicants and submit a written nomination to the City Secretary. 
The City Secretary will place board nominations on the November City Council agenda for consideration. The City Council will give careful consideration to entire pool of applicants and the nomination submitted by each board before making respective board appointment.
The City Council may appoint any of its members to serve as an ex-officio member of any board.

BOARDS APPOINTED BY THE GLADEWATER CITY COUNCIL


AIRPORT BOARD – Meets 1st Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at Gladewater Municipal Airport.

Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms. The Airport Board acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council and is responsible for making recommendations in respect to ground leases, construction, expansion, improvements, future plans and maintenance and operation of the airport.

CEMETERY BOARD – Meets as needed on the 3rd Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.

The Cemetery Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms. The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council concerning the efficient operation and maintenance of Gladewater Memorial Park Cemetery and Gay-Haggans Cemetery.

GLADEWATER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (GEDCO) BOARD – Meets 3rd Wednesday of the month at 4:00 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce.

Board consists of five members, each serving three year terms with a two term limit. GEDCO is a separate incorporated entity and operates under its own by-laws to further economic growth by recruitment or expansion of manufacturing/industrial businesses in Gladewater. 

GLADEWATER HOUSING AUTHORITY BOARD – Meetings are called by the Housing Authority Director. 

This five member board is appointed by the Mayor for two year terms and is organized as a separate entity for the purpose of efficient operation and maintenance of affordable housing complexes throughout Gladewater as established by state statute.

LAKE BOARD – Meets bi-monthly on 1st Monday at 6:00 p.m. at Lake Office.

The Lake Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms. The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council regarding recreational activities at Lake Gladewater, making recommendations to the City Council on maintenance, improvements, and control of said activities.

LIBRARY BOARD – Meets as needed on 1st Monday after the 15th of the month at 5:00 p.m. at Lee Public Library.

The Library Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms. The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council to promote the library and to assist the librarian in the efficient operation of the library.

MAIN STREET BOARD – Meets on 1st Thursday each month at 9:00 a.m. at City Hall.

The Main Street Board is composed of nine members, each serving three year terms. This Board serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council to assist in historic preservation and revitalization of the central business district.

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION – Meets as needed on the 2nd Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms. This Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council regarding the platting and recording of subdivisions or additions within the corporate limits or within one mile of city limits. They conduct public hearings regarding applications for zoning changes, future zoning plans, plan for future developments, streets and alley-ways and make such recommendations to the City Council.

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENTS – Meets as needed on 2nd Thursday at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall.

This Board consists of seven members, each serving two year terms. The Zoning Board of Adjustments hears and decides all appeals and renders an interpretation of the zoning regulations, or where it is alleged that there is error in any order, requirement or determination made by the Building Inspector. The Board hears and decides upon application for special exceptions and variances from zoning regulations

HISTORICAL PRESERVATION LIAISON

This liaison serves at the pleasure of the City Council for a two-year term, and may be reappointed to consecutive terms. The Liaison shall have a demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation within the city. They help coordinate restoration or preservation projects, educate the community about its rich historical legacy and encourage historical preservation.
Photo: REVISED POSTING: The previous posting contained information that was not updated. The information below is the newest version and contains the policy amended by the city council on Aug. 15, 2013.

CITY OF GLADEWATER
BOARD RECRUITMENT AND APPOINTMENT POLICY
Adopted August 15, 2013

PURPOSE

The City of Gladewater wishes to encourage community involvement by engaging citizens of diverse backgrounds, skill sets and innovative ideals to serve on city boards.  To accomplish the goal of greater participation in city government, the city will endeavor to actively recruit interested individuals through a variety of public media resources.

Each board is structured by ordinance as to the purpose, number of members, terms, requirements and meeting frequency.  

City appointed boards consist of; Airport, Cemetery, GEDCO, Lake, Library, Main Street, Planning and Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustments.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

The following individuals are eligible to serve City of Gladewater boards and commissions;

Ad-valorem tax-paying residents, business owners, renters and/or lessees of property within the corporate city limits of Gladewater; and/or
Individuals possessing specific knowledge, skill sets or expertise that have demonstrated interest in the betterment of Gladewater.

RECRUITMENT PROCESS

All persons interested in serving on a City appointed board must do so by submitting an application form provided by the City Secretary.
A recruitment notice will be published in the Gladewater Mirror and Longview News Journal twice each year with information on the various boards and the application process.
A permanent notice will be posted on the City of Gladewater website along with the application form.
City officials are to improve public awareness and encourage public service by speaking at civic organizations regarding the various city boards and their functions.

REVIEW AND APPOINTMENT PROCESS

City Secretary to receive and review applications for completeness and eligibility.  Once eligibility is determined, applications are forwarded to each board for consideration.  
Each board will give consideration to the pool of applicants and submit a written nomination to the City Secretary.  
The City Secretary will place board nominations on the November City Council agenda for consideration.  The City Council will give careful consideration to entire pool of applicants and the nomination submitted by each board before making respective board appointment.
The City Council may appoint any of its members to serve as an ex-officio member of any board.

BOARDS APPOINTED BY THE GLADEWATER CITY COUNCIL


AIRPORT BOARD – Meets 1st Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. at Gladewater Municipal Airport.

Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms.  The Airport Board acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council and is responsible for making recommendations in respect to ground leases, construction, expansion, improvements, future plans and maintenance and operation of the airport.

CEMETERY BOARD – Meets as needed on the 3rd Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.

The Cemetery Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms.  The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council concerning the efficient operation and maintenance of Gladewater Memorial Park Cemetery and Gay-Haggans Cemetery.

GLADEWATER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (GEDCO) BOARD – Meets 3rd Wednesday of the month at 4:00 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce.

Board consists of five members, each serving three year terms with a two term limit.  GEDCO is a separate incorporated entity and operates under its own by-laws to further economic growth by recruitment or expansion of manufacturing/industrial businesses in Gladewater. 

GLADEWATER HOUSING AUTHORITY BOARD – Meetings are called by the Housing Authority Director.  

This five member board is appointed by the Mayor for two year terms and is organized as a separate entity for the purpose of efficient operation and maintenance of affordable housing complexes throughout Gladewater as established by state statute.

LAKE BOARD – Meets bi-monthly on 1st Monday at 6:00 p.m. at Lake Office.

The Lake Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms.  The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council regarding recreational activities at Lake Gladewater, making recommendations to the City Council on maintenance, improvements, and control of said activities.

LIBRARY BOARD – Meets as needed on 1st Monday after the 15th of the month at 5:00 p.m. at Lee Public Library.

The Library Board is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms.  The Board is to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council to promote the library and to assist the librarian in the efficient operation of the library.

MAIN STREET BOARD – Meets on 1st Thursday each month at 9:00 a.m. at City Hall.

The Main Street Board is composed of nine members, each serving three year terms.  This Board serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council to assist in historic preservation and revitalization of the central business district.

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION – Meets as needed on the 2nd Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is composed of seven members, each serving two year terms.  This Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the City Council regarding the platting and recording of subdivisions or additions within the corporate limits or within one mile of city limits.  They conduct public hearings regarding applications for zoning changes, future zoning plans, plan for future developments, streets and alley-ways and make such recommendations to the City Council.

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENTS – Meets as needed on 2nd Thursday at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall.

This Board consists of seven members, each serving two year terms.  The Zoning Board of Adjustments hears and decides all appeals and renders an interpretation of the zoning regulations, or where it is alleged that there is error in any order, requirement or determination made by the Building Inspector.  The Board hears and decides upon application for special exceptions and variances from zoning regulations

HISTORICAL PRESERVATION LIAISON

This liaison serves at the pleasure of the City Council for a two-year term, and may be reappointed to consecutive terms.  The Liaison shall have a demonstrated interest, competence or knowledge in historic preservation within the city.  They help coordinate restoration or preservation projects, educate the community about its rich historical legacy and encourage historical preservation.

Inmate death under investigation

Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano announced that an investigation had been initiated into the death of jail inmate, Debra Ingram Duffie, a 52 year old female who died August 19, 2013.

Duffie had been in custody at the Gregg County Jail since her arrest on August 12, 2013.  The inmate was charged with Violation of Probation, Assault Family Violence and has been booked into the Gregg County jail 8 times for various charges.  On August 14, 2013, Duffie appeared in the Gregg County Court at Law #1 and was sentenced to 100 days confinement in the county jail.

Sheriff Cerliano advised that the inmate was housed in a separation cell at the Gregg County North Jail, and was being treated for a medical condition by jail medical staff.  Duffie had previously been sent from the jail to Good Shepherd Medical Center on August 15, 2013 for treatment of a medical condition and was released to return to the jail on the same day.

On Sunday August 18, 2013, the jail medical staff consisting of a Licensed Vocational Nurse continued the inmate’s treatment and alerted the jail doctor of the inmate’s symptoms.   The jail doctor ordered that Duffie be sent to Good Shepherd Medical Center for additional treatment.  Longview Fire EMS responded and the inmate was again transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center.  During the transport, Duffie had what is believed to be a significant cardiac event.  Duffie was admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Duffie was treated at the hospital for over 12 hours and died at 5:12 am.  Justice of the Peace #1, B.H. Jameson conducted an inquest.  Judge Jameson ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Texas Ranger Todd Martin along with Gregg County Sheriff’s Investigators is conducting the investigation.  The completed investigation will be forwarded to the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office for review.  The Texas Commission on Jail Standards was notified and reports will be filed with TCJS as well as the Office of the Attorney General.

Sheriff Cerliano advised that all documents, reports, logs, and electronic recordings are under review by Investigators.

Sheriff Cerliano stipulated that the investigation is ongoing and the autopsy report is pending.

Lee Library may get funding from Upshur County - after being cut out two years ago

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS

Correspondent

GILMER--The Upshur County Commissioners Court appears poised to restore some funding for the Lee Public Library in the Gregg County part of Gladewater, as a majority of the court indicated support for it during a work session last Wednesday on the 2013-14 budget.

In a controversial cost-cutting move, the court eliminated funding for the library about two years ago, and support for restoring it is not unanimous since the county has faced major financial difficulties since then.  Meantime, supporters of funding the library in the past argued that although it was in Gregg County, many Upshur Countians used it.

Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler expressed support for restoring funding Wednesday after the court's two newest members, Pct. 1 Commissioner Paula Gentry and Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka, said they wanted it. Gentry proposed giving $1,000, and Berka proposed awarding $2,000.

Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer objected that "We don't have the money to do that," and Pct. 2 Commissioner Cole Hefner pointed out the court had cut the budget in the past for the Upshur County Library in Gilmer. (No increase is proposed in the county library's funding so far in this year's county budget).

But Fowler told Spencer and Hefner, "I'm going (along) with them" (Berka and Gentry) on favoring restoration of Lee's funding.

Gentry proposed using savings from the vacancy of the county fire marshal's office for the library donation. The court has not replaced Paul Steelman, who resigned that position earlier this year.

While running for commissioner in 2012, Berka made a personal donation to the library after the court eliminated funding for it.

During Wednesday's discussion, Hefner addressed complaints from Gladewater area residents about their county services, asking what services that such areas as Ore City and Simpsonville receive that Gladewater doesn't.

Berka, who represents much of the Gladewater vicinity, pointed to the large amount of tax revenue which comes from the area, and said Gladeites "rarely see patrol (by the sheriff's office)" and don't receive much county road work.

Fowler meantime announced the court will consider raises for all county employees as he and commissioners spent nearly four hours Wednesday discussing and revising his proposed $10.9 million budget for the coming 2013-14 fiscal year.

The court has not yet finalized the budget nor tax rate, but any raises would be the first given county workers in about seven years. There was no discussion of the level of any potential raise to take effect Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Near the special session's end, Fowler also said his proposed budget was "basically exactly the same" as the current one, although $300,000 lower because the current budget contained that amount of funding for courthouse renovations required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Fowler additionally said near meeting's end that the proposed budget is based on a tax rate of 52.23 cents per $100 valuation, (compared to the current 51.22 cents), but he added it was a "little premature" to disuss the tax rate. 

He said 52.23 cents is the "effective" tax rate--the level required to raise the same amount of revenue as the current rate, but using new valuations established by the Upshur County Appraisal District.

Last year, the court voted 3-2 to approve a 4.21-cent hike in the tax rate, and Fowler said at the time that would pay off the county's debts and the hike would only be for the current 2012-13 fiscal year. 

Hefner pointed out at Wednesday's meeting it was understood when the county paid off a loan, a 3-cent portion of the hike would "fall off the rate." Then Hefner added, "And this (proposed rate of 52.23) is making it (the rate hike) permanent (instead). Right?" 

"Yes," Fowler acknowledged.

Several months after approving the supposed temporary tax hike, county officials discovered that a nearly $1 million shortfall in county funds was projected, so the commissioners court slashed the current budget by about that level in mid-fiscal year. In addition, two of the court's current members, Berka and Gentry, were not in office when the court approved the tax hike last year.

Hefner voted against the tax increase, which Fowler and Spencer supported. Then-Pct. 3 Commissioner. Lloyd Crabtree cast the other vote for the tax hike, while then-Pct. 1 Commissioner James Crittenden opposed it before both left office at year's end.

As the court Wednesday went over Fowler's proposed budget department-by-department, the judge recommended only relatively small portions of the controversial major increases Sheriff Anthony Betterton requested in the separate budgets for the county jail and sheriff's office.

Hefner said Betterton sought $537,500 more, $282,500 of it for the jail budget and $255,000 for the sheriff's office budget.

Fowler said he approved a $34,000 increase for the jail--$20,000 for prisoners' food, $6,000 in employee retirement matching funds, $5,000 for inmates' prescription drugs, and $2,000 for transporting prisoners. The judge said the jail population has increased.

He said he also recommended a $115,000 hike in the sheriff's office budget--but since that included $90,000 for two new school resource officers at New Diana ISD and $20,000 in retirement match, "basically, I increased his (Betterton's) budget (for the office) $5,000."

Said Hefner, "The way you proposed it is okay with me, tentatively." But Berka expressed concern the proposed gasoline budget for the sheriff's office was inadequate, and Fowler agreed to check into that.

On the matter of inmate food, however, Berka said, "I've been told those people are eating like kings down there." And Hefner said he didn't understand "why we can't get it (food costs) down."

Fowler replied the jail population was up.

In another major part of Wednesday's budget session, Road and Bridge Administrator Andy Jordan asked to add two full-time employees and give $1 hourly raises to his workers to bring their pay in line with other counties. 

He said they are among the lowest-paid county employees, although they pick up fallen trees in rain and work in 100-degree temperatures. He also said one worker with five children is taking home only about $6 hourly despite his certification in dealing with hazardous materials.

Despite seeking more workers and the raises, Jordan said his proposed budget was $92 lower than the original proposed budget for his department last fiscal year (before he took office).

Hefner and Spencer expressed support for increasing the Road and Bridge budget, and Berka said he didn't want it decreased. Hefner said the R&B budget is $400,000 lower than it was a decade ago.

In other aspects of the budget discussion Wednesday:

--Gentry proposed a pay raise for herself, saying she should earn as much as a Justice of the Peace. (Between the time she won the Republican nomination for her office last May, and the time she took office Jan. 1, the court reduced commissioners' pay by about $10,000 annually in the 2012-13 budget.)

--After hearing appeals from several residents of Pct. 1, and from that precinct's constable, Gene Dolle, for a $4,600 increase in his budget, all four commissioners approved his request by consensus.

"I don't have the money to put gasoline in my car. . .If I'm not mobile, I can't accomplish much of anything," Dolle said. He also cited his work on behalf ot the county, and several residents cited how active he has been.

Several other elected officials also appeared before the court to discuss their proposed budgets.

 

 

 

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Bumpas House Burns

The Bumpus House, a Texas historic landmark home turned restaurant in downtown Gladewater caught fire early Friday morning.

The fire call came in at 3:37 a.m. Friday with Gladewater, Clarksville City, Warren City and White Oak Fire Departments all responded to the blaze. Gladewater Fire Chief Wayne Smith reportedly said he doesn't believe the building is salvageable because of the wood construction and the amount of water used to extinguish the fire.  

The fire marshal said Friday afternoon the cause of fire was still unknown.

This house, which has been vacant for more than a year, is believed to have been built about the turn of the century. Area sawmill owner and road builder William E. Bumpus and his wife Catherine (Harris) purchased the property in 1927. The Bumpus House is a well-preserved example of a large dwelling with colonial revival details (dormers, gable ends) and craftsman influences (tapered box supports on brick piers). A local landmark, the house remained in the Bumpus family until 1987. The house was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1994.

 

Lee appointed Upshur County auditor

 

 

 

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS

GILMER--Upshur County Clerk Brandy Lee was appointed County Auditor on July 30 by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish after Janice Tucker resigned the Auditor's position effective the previous day.

The County Commissioners Court will consider appointing an interim County Clerk, and discuss the forthcoming 2013-14 budget, at a special meeting at 9 a.m. today (Wednesday, Aug. 7), said County Judge Dean Fowler. Those will be the only items on the agenda for the meeting on the third floor of the Upshur County Courthouse.

In the wake of Lee's resignation as County Clerk, that office's chief deputy, Kaye Cain, was placed in charge of it. She has worked there for more than 30 years.

Tucker had come under fire from some county officials--although not Judge Parish--after a nearly $1 million shortfall in county funds surfaced earlier this year. Tucker and Fowler essentially blamed each other for the deficit, and she defended her performance in a July 30 phone interview with this newspaper.

Her resignation and Lee's appointment were announced in a brief press release from Judge Parish on July 30. The judge, who expressed regret over Tucker's departure, swore in Lee that day.

Lee, 33, has been county clerk for the past 2 1/2 years and had recently announced she planned to seek re-election in 2014. Before her election in 2010, she was a clerk for Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Rhonda Welch's office in Gladewater.

The county clerk-turned-auditor and her husband, J.D. Lee, have two sons, Jaxon, 7, and Dylan, 5.

Lee told this newspaper the night of July 30 she took the auditing post because "I have an accounting degree" from the University of Texas at Tyler, and accounting is her foremost interest. "I'm also working on my master's (degree) in Public Administration" at that university, she noted.

She additionally expressed appreciation to voters for electing her County Clerk.

In the press release, Parish noted Lee's degree in accounting, and called her "highly qualified" to be auditor. The judge said the new auditor "will be a great asset to Upshur County taxpayers."

The appointment also won praise from all five members of the commissioners court.

"I am really excited about Brandy Lee (being named)," Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka said on the day of the appointment. "She is efficient and she is not afraid of anybody. . .She's a bulldog," said Berka, who was among Tucker's critics.

Added Fowler on that same day, "I think that Brandy will be a fine County Auditor."

Last Wednesday, Pct. 1 Commissioner Paula Gentry, Pct. 2 Commissioner Cole Hefner and Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer also lauded the appointment in comments to this newspaper.

"I think Brandy will do a really good job," said Gentry, adding that Lee's accounting degree will be an asset to the county.

"She is a very smart cookie," the Pct. 1 commissioner said. "And I wish Janice well."

Said Hefner, "I'm pleased. Brandy's done us a really good job. . .I'm confident she will do a good job as county auditor." 

He also predicted her appointment will greatly benefit taxpayers.

Spencer, who had been among Tucker's critics, said, "I think the district judge made a wise choice. . .It's a step moving forward for the county with our financial situation."

In the news release, Judge Parish said, "I want to publicly thank Ms. Tucker for the work she has done for the County. I hate to see her leave and wish her the very best." 

Tucker had defended herself from criticism by Fowler when he brought the deficit to public light last spring. She had also been at odds with Sheriff Anthony Betterton over matters involving his office.

The projected deficit forced the commissioners court to slice the county's budget by nearly $1 million in mid-fiscal year in order to avoid the shortfall.

Berka speculated Thursday Tucker resigned because "there was enough pressure put on her" over the deficit, and "she thought it best to just go on down the road."

Tucker, who became auditor in January 2010, told this newspaper July 30  that "I think that (my resignation) probably is the best thing for myself and the county."

"I lay blame on no one" for her decision, she added. When told of Berka's statement about her, she declined further comment on why she stepped down.

"I did an excellent job under the circumstances," asserted Tucker, who said she has not taken a new job. "I don't have anything to do with the county deficit," she added, saying an auditor has no role in that.

Tucker also said Lee was an "excellent" choice to succeed her, and will 'be able to take up where I left off. . .She would have been my choice, too."

 

 

 

 

BURN BANS ISSUED - GREGG AND UPSHUR COUNTY AND GLADEWATER

A BURN BAN was issued Friday for all of Gregg County by County Judge Bill Stoudt. A BURN BAN was issued for Gladewater city limits earlier in the week. No outside burning is allowed at this time. Upshur County also issued a BURN BAN throughout the county and in all unincorporated areas.

 

Upshur sheriff being sued

A Vermont-based organization which says it "educates prisoners about their legal rights" has filed a federal lawsuit against Upshur County, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and Sheriff's Lt. Jill McCauley, alleging the co-defendants are "wrongfully censoring" the plaintiff's mailed communications with prisoners in the county jail.SHERIFF BETTERTON

Dallas attorney Cass Wieland, representing the county, has filed a general denial of the charges in the suit filed by Prison Legal News on Nov. 26 in United States District Court in Marshall.

The lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, alleges the county has violated PLN's right to free speech by rejecting and returning magazines and books it tried to send prisoners. Mrs. McCauley was named as a co-defendant because she is lieutenant over the jail and a "final policymaker" for it, the document said. 

The lawsuit identifies PLN as a non-profit organization with primary offices in Brattleboro, Vermont, and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. The center's "mission is centered on public education, prisoner education, and advocacy in support of basic human rights," says the 8-page document.

The lawsuit was filed by three Austin attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project--Brian McGiverin, Scott Medlock and James C. Harrington.

The document says PLN "publishes and distributes a 56-page legal information magazine addressing the rights of incarcerated people," which is distributed to prisoners in about 2,200 correctional facilities across the nation. PLN also distributes about 50 books by other publishers concerning the criminal justice system, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff says that since July 2011, PLN has mailed its magazine to Upshur jail inmates, and that those who subscribe to the magazine are also sent copies of the paperback book Protecting Your Health and Safety: Prisoners' Rights, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. "The book gives inmates information about their right to medical care and protections against inhumane treatment," the lawsuit says.

"Since July 2011, PLN has received returned copies of its monthly magazine and books from the Upshur County Jail. Out of approximately 223 issues of PLN's magazine sent since July 2011, at least 86 issues were rejected and sent back. Many books have been returned the same way," the document states.

 

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