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Last updateTue, 25 Aug 2015 3pm

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2015-16 Texas hunting, fishing licenses now on sale

AUSTIN — Sportsmen gearing up for the upcoming fall hunting seasons are reminded to renew their licenses for 2015-16. Licenss went on sale August 15. The current year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) will expire Aug. 31.

Every year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues about 2.5 million hunting and fishing licenses through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 50 state parks and at over 1,700 retailers across the state. Licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buy or by phone at 1-800-895-4248. Call center hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note that here is a required $5 administrative fee for each phone or online transaction but multiple items can be purchased during a single transaction occasion for the $5 fee. The online transaction system is available 24/7. For online and phone orders, a physical license will be mailed within three business days. During that time period, a transaction receipt will be provided via email that will be sufficient proof of hunting license that can be used for dove hunting, though it will not be allowed for the take of fish or wildlife that require a tag.

Hunting and fishing regulations for the new season can be found in the 2015-2016 Outdoor Annual, available in booklet form at license retailers and digitally online at www.outdoorannual.com. Hunters and anglers can also download the free 2015-2016 Outdoor Annual mobile app on their Apple or Android devices.

Mandatory Hunter Education Certification

In addition to a hunting license, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a hunter education training course or purchase a one-time deferral good for one license year in order to hunt legally in Texas. The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states and provinces. Last year, TPWD certified a record 72,000 hunter education students, yet Texas game wardens still issued more than 3,400 citations and warnings last fall for hunters not meeting hunter education certification requirements.

Getting certified has never been more convenient. Hunters who need hunter education certification have several expanded contemporary options including a streamlined, one-day basic course and an option for anyone 17 years of age or older to take the hunting safety training completely online. A combination online home study and 4 to 5 hour skills field day course is also offered. More information on hunter education certification is available online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/huntered .

Bird Hunting Requirements

A Migratory Game Bird endorsement and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification are also required to hunt dove or teal in September. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s migratory bird hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp. The cost of the duck stamp was increased this year to $25, plus applicable state and federal fees.

 

There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of license purchase. An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant and chachalaca.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine’s 

Hunting Forecast

The Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine’s free digital hunting issue will be available starting Friday, August 15. This special issue includes the 2015-2016 hunting forecast for deer, dove, ducks and more. Wild game recipes and other tips are also included. It can be downloaded as a free app on iPad or iPhone or viewed as a digital version online starting August 15 at www.tpwmagazine.com/hunt/

Big Time Texas Hunts

Big Time Texas Hunts provide opportunities to win one or more of nine premium guided hunt packages with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals — the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn. New this year is the Ultimate Mule Deer Hunt, where one winner will be the first to hunt on the recently acquired Yoakum Dunes WMA. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, waterfowl, upland game birds, wild hog and exotics. Big Time Texas Hunts entries are available online for just $9 each at www.tpwd.texas.gov/buyentry, or for $10 each at license retailers or by phone. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase and all proceeds benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting. Deadline for entry is October 15. The program is made possible with support from Toyota, Texas Trophy Hunters Association and the Texas Bighorn Society. More details on all nine premium hunts can be found online.

 

Lifetime Licenses Hunters and anglers can also take care of their licensing requirements for life with the purchase of a$1,800 Lifetime Super Combo, or they can enter for the chance to win a lifetime license through the department’s Lifetime License Drawing. Entries for the drawing cost $5 each and may be purchased at license retailers, by phone or  online at www.tpwd.texas.gov/licensedraw  .There is no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 30, 2015 and June 30, 2016. If you enter by Dec. 27, 2015, you will be eligible for both drawings.

Gladewater tax office could close

By Phillip Williams

Correspondent

Upshur County Tax Assessor-Collector Sherron Laminack said Monday that hiring a county election administrator might result in her having to close the Gladewater branch of her office, but County Judge Dean Fowler said “there is absolutely no danger of that.”

Laminack raised the possibility of the branch closing when County Clerk Terri Ross recommended to the county commissioners court on Friday that it establish the election administrator post. County officials have discussed the controversial idea of naming an EA on and off for several years. 

Ross and Laminack addressed the court during a lengthy discussion on the forthcoming 2015-16 county budget, which the court is expected to adopt later this month.

Laminack said the problem stems from the fact that her office’s deputy voter registrar, Pam Dean, also works in the substation, collecting taxes and registering vehicles.

While Ross has a separate special budget for elections, Laminack does not, and Dean’s going to work in the new EA office would leave the tax office an employee short, the tax assessor said. 

And hiring someone part-time to replace Dean would not help because a part-time worker cannot be trained quickly enough, so the Gladewater office would be closed “until we can get someone trained,” Laminack said.

But she also said the office might remain open even if an EA is established, so long as the court provides her with a replacement for Dean in the new budget.

Fowler meantime said Monday he believed the county could both hire an EA and keep the Gladewater branch open. However, he said that If forced to choose between the two, he would support retaining the substation.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Paula Gentry, who once worked as a deputy tax assessor-collector in the Gladewater office, said Monday, “I don’t look at closing it. It wouldn’t have my vote.”

And Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka, whose precinct includes Gladewater, vowed Monday that “if it takes closing the office in Gladewater to create another government entity, I am going to claw your (other commissioners court members’) eyes out. That’s basically what I said in court” Friday.

The issue of creating an EA’s office surfaced during a nearly 5 1/2-hour commissioners court meeting Friday in which the court skipped lunch, taking only two short breaks totalling 25 minutes before finally adjourning shortly before 3 p.m.

“Elections are kind of a burden ‘cause we’ve got so much to do” in the county clerk’s office, Ross told the court. She said appointing an administrator would be a “step in the right direction” toward making elections “run a lot smoother,” inasmuch as an administrator can register voters and attend schooling on elections.

The county clerk also said “my office is so passionate” about creating the new position that one of her deputies was willing to resign. Ross offered to have the court lower her office’s salary budget if it put $12,000-14,000 in the budget toward the potential hiring of the administrator.

“We just need a little more money to fund” that position, the county clerk said. She said she was “asking it be in place” if such a post was created.

When Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer asked Ross why she would not put a person in her office in charge of elections, the clerk replied, “You’re still going to have to budget for that.” She added that everyone in the office must help with elections because it is such a big undertaking.

In another election-related matter, the court on Friday called a Nov. 3 election in justice of the peace precinct one on the off-premises consumption of beer and wine. The court had to call the election under state law because a sufficient number of voters petitioned for it.

The election will occur the same day as elections on state constitutional amendments and on raising the tax rate for the Upshur County Emergency Services District. 

When Ross proposed having only one voting box in each of the four commissioners’ precincts for the amendment election, including a box at Pritchett in precinct 3, Berka noted he had been criticized for not having voting in Big Sandy during a certain election.

He offered to donate to the county to pay for a box to be put there. The court approved voting in his precinct in Big Sandy and Gladewater, as well as Pritchett, without a donation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens’ help needed for GFD tower

 

By Suzanne Bardwell

The Gladewater Fire Department training tower used to see a lot of use and not just from local firefighters but from volunteer and area departments as well. According to Fire Chief Wayne Smith city budget constraints and lack of maintenance on the tower led to its demise as a safe training structure. He and his men, with some help from the community hope to change that.

“To be prepared for the dangers that our firefighters face they need to hone their skills regularly,” Chief Smith said. “This fire tower is an essential tool in ensuring their preparedness and knowledge of what to do in specific situations.”

The tower is being worked on by Smith and his men. They have received a $700 grant from Lowe’s as seed money in the form of gift cards. One shift of firefighters has already put in 20 plus hot hours trying to get the tower prepped for further renovation.

Mark and Lola May who own The Screen Door antique store in downtown Gladewater are helping to organize a fundraiser for Saturday, Aug. 29 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Gladewater Fire Department at 511 S. Tyler St. The fundraiser will include hot dogs, bratwurst, boudin, baked beans, chips, cookies and drink for $5 a plate. There will also be a fireman’s boot on the table for donations. The Mays encourage the community to bring a lawn chair or grab the meal as take out to support the department in its efforts to repair the training facility.

“The tower would be a hands-on facility that would save money for the city in the long run because firefighters could train at home and not attend schools outside of the area,” Chief Smith said. “It would also save time and keep the firefighters close to the department.”

The Gladewater Fire Department often serves areas that are not supported by tax dollars because firefighters regularly make calls outside the city limits. In July seven of the 38 calls the department responded to were outside city limits with five in Smith county and eight in Upshur county. With the elevated heat and limited rain in August those calls are expected to increase.

The tower training facility would also be used by the Gladewater Police Department in their preparedness training.

The greater Gladewater community is served by a department whose budget limitations can be restrictive but whose job is essential to the protection of property and more importantly, lives. To support the renovation of the training tower either attend the event on Aug. 29 or drop off donations at the fire department to help them save the training tower. For material donation contact Chief Smith at 903-845-7836.

 

“We have a lot of young firefighters,” Chief Smith said. “The more training they get the better they will do their jobs and the more safely they will perform that job.”

 

State school truancy law changes

 

By Suzanne Bardwell

A new school truancy law takes effect Sept. 1 and although students will no longer face criminal sanctions there will be more pressure on parents and schools if students fail to show up for class.

A key component of the new law requires all public schools to implement truancy prevention programs something nearly all have had in place in years.

The new law works like this:  If a student has three unexcused absences in a four-week period the school must inform parents, warn them of potential truancy measures and request a face-to-face meeting.

The school must put in place truancy prevention measures.

If a student has 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period the school must evaluate whether the student’s absences are the result of a pregnancy, homelessness, foster care or because he or she is the primary earner for the family.

If they fit the stated criteria the school may not refer the student to truancy court, instead the school will offer additional counseling and support.

If they do not fit the criteria the school may file a criminal complaint against the parents in court. Schools must prove the absences were unexcused and a result of the parents’ negligence.

 

If the school finds its truancy plan is not working the student can be referred to a truancy court. The student can be fined $100, have his or her driving privileges revoked, or be referred to the juvenile court system.

 

GLADE WATER STILL LOOKING FOR CITY MANAGER

By James Draper

Round Two: The first stack of resumes didn’t turn up Gladewater’s new city manager, and council members officials are rebooting their summertime hunt for the fall.

In a special session last week, the elected officials went directly into a closed meeting and remained sequestered for about an hour as the apparent lone finalist – Gerry Boren, city manager of Gun Barrel City – waited in the council chambers at Gladewater City Hall.

Briefly speaking with Gladewater Police Department Capt. Michael Kirkwood, the council brought Boren into the closed meeting and sent him out minutes later Aug. 12.

“They said they want to look some more,” Boren reported with a shrug.

The council reconvened their public meeting at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’ve interviewed two candidates,” council member J.D. Shipp said in a motion to continue the search, “however in the interests of the city we’ve decided to interview more candidates.”

It’s a good hunt, said Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells, with a healthy pool of applications in the initial run.

That said, “We’re still hunting for the right person. Now we’re going to run it again for another 30 days, see who’s still out there,” he explained. Meanwhile, after two key interviews in the first round, “We’ve still got all the old applications there in our files. We’re not going to dispose of any of those.”

Several of the initial candidates may have already been hired elsewhere, he said, but some may still be on the job market.

“See, we’re not in a big hurry to hire because we’ve still got Melba there. She’s sharp. She can run the city, but right now she does not want to be the city manager.” Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate announced his looming departure in late-May after he was hired for a similar post in Bonham, and council members voted 7-0 to formally accept his resignation June 1.

Following Pate’s final day July 2, longtime city secretary Melba Haralson accepted the duties of interim city manager – her third time holding the reins on a short-term basis at City Hall –  while Gladewater’s elected officials kicked off their search for Pate’s permanent successor. 

The city collected 31 resumes by mid-July, vetting resumes and launching the interview process in the open-ended hunt for a new chief executive.

Last week’s meeting doesn’t go all the way back to the drawing board; Haralson was ready to re-advertise the open post Aug. 13. If the group follows the same schedule as before, after re-advertising for the position for another 30 days the council will likely be vetting applications in mid- to late-September.

Haralson confirmed there’s no set date to have a new manager in office, but she allowed an October-hiring isn’t out of the question.

 

“The council felt it would be prudent and in the best interest of the city to seek more applicants and interviews,” she said Aug. 12. In the meantime, “I’m just willing to serve as interim until they find the right person.”

 

GISD votes for tax hike

By Suzanne Bardwell

Between concerned African-American citizen education concerns and the passage of a higher than expected tax rate, Monday’s school board meeting was focused on the weighty issues of how to ensure academic and fiscal health for the district.

Twelve members of the Concerned Citizens Committee were in attendance with B.K. Johnson addressing issues of concern during the public forum portion of the meeting.

Johnson read from a prepared statement that was a “compilation of alleged infractions within our school system. Numerous complaints, assertions and statistical data brought to the committee through a series of open forum public meetings.”

The issues listed in the statement included limited numbers of minority instructors. According to Johnson, African-Americans make up 20 percent of the student body but only constitute 7.2 percent of the faculty. Other concerns noted included minority performance on standardized testing, limited numbers of minority students in advanced and dual credit classes, over population in remedial programs and the lack of “any active program that actively seeks recruitment of minority personnel for leadership positions.”

The statement concluded with a request for an open forum meeting with GISD Trustees and the superintendent at Garfield Hill Community Center.

Because of plummeting appraisal valuations, the almost certain passage of a statewide homestead exemption of $25,000 which will be on the November statewide ballot and the cost of bond construction in the face of lower revenues, the school board voted 6-0 to set the tax rate at $1.565 for 2016. David Floyd was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The Maintenance and Operation (M&O) is set at $1.17 and the Interest and Sinking which funds building and capital outlay expenditures was raised from 35 cents to 39.5 cents. According to Business Director Susie Stephens the budget concerns lay with making debt payment in the face of the falling appraisal valuations.

“We need to make this plain to the community,” trustee Garth Cockerell reiterated with Superintendent Dr. J.P. Richardson noting that the rate will fluctuate every year depending on valuation with the hopes that it will go down in the future.

In other business the board heard an extensive performance and achievement report from new Asst. Supt. of Curriculum Dr. Julie Davis which noted across the board success for the district including areas of minority achievement in standardized testing. 

The board approved checks to Apex, ESA and RLM for a combined construction project cost of $1,803,692.96. The board also approved a check to RLM for $636,181.54 for stadium and track improvements which includes expanded handicap parking, new home side seating and resurfacing of the track which will now allow track meets to be held at Gladewater.

The board approved the changing of the location and time of the Sept. 21 board meeting to 5 p.m. at Weldon Intermediate to tour the construction.

Resignations received included Chris Clifton and Sherry Davis. Approval of new hires included that of Sandi King new GHS Principal, Cory Kutin-HS, Patricio DeJesus-MS and Heather Rogers-Weldon Intermediate.

 

 

 

"Kill 'Em Varmints Hunting Tournament" set

GILMER--The Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its first "Kill 'Em Varmints Hunting Tournament," in which hunters will seek pests ranging from skunks to coyotes, Aug. 14-16.

Some 75 percent of the entry fees ($100 per two-member team) will be awarded as prizes. The number of prizes will depend on the number of teams entering.

Winning will be based on a point system of 35 points for bobcats, 20 for coyotes, 15 for skunks, 10 for armadillos and five for raccoons. The number of "varmints" a team can enter is unlimited.

Under contest rules, teams may hunt anywhere in Texas. All entrants must have a valid hunting license, each team is responsible for disposing of its kills, and no helpers nor dogs can be used.

Hunters can be on only one team and each team must designate a captain.

Entry fees must be received by 5 p.m. Aug. 14, when hunting opens at 5:30 p.m. Check-in time on Sunday, Aug. 16, is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Yamboree Exhibit Building at the Yamboree Grounds off U.S. 271.

Teams must be checked in before 1 p.m. to qualify for prize money. 

Entry fees can be brought to the chamber office at 106 Buffalo on the downtown square, or mailed to the organization at Post Office Box 854, Gilmer, Texas 75644.

For rules and entry forms, visit the chamber or its website at www.gilmerareachamber.com, or its Facebook group, Upshur County Goes Hog Wild. Information is also available by calling 903-843-2413 or 903-790-3159.

Jeff Dodd is chairman of the event.