PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 29, 2016) – The United States Air Force Band of West Concert Band will be performing a free concert at the Palestine Civic Center at 4 p.m. on December 4. The family-friendly performance is open to the public.
The concert band is a 45-member ensemble that represents the Air Force by performing at formal military ceremonies, educational clinics and public concerts throughout the south. At every performance, they offer a wide range of entertaining music for their audience. The band’s repertoire consists of music from the Renaissance to the present day, from symphonies to Broadway musicals, and from Sousa marches to today’s favorite hits.
Heather Hrebec, Events Coordinator with the City of Palestine, said she has been trying to bring the Band of the West to the Civic Center for years, and is happy the band will be coming on December 4, a weekend where many local events are already scheduled.
The members of the band are all highly-skilled professionals from colleges and universities all over the nation and serve the Air Force. As part of the Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the Band of the West is proud to represent the men and women of the Air Force.
The concert band brings a uniquely motivating experience to military and civilian audiences throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Flordia by combinging pride in the Air Force story with a love for music and education.
For more information, please visit the Band of the West at bandofthewest.af.mil or on Facebook at facebook.com/bandofthewest.
The City of Palestine has filed the proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Also, here are two public hearing notices on proposed Tax Rates
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 26, 2016) – The City of Palestine filed its proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year today. City Council members received the budget document today as well.
The 2016-17 budget includes $3.1 million in investments for roads, water meters and police communications while not raising property taxes next year.
“Although cuts were made, this budget represents a step forward for our city,” Interim City Manager Mike Alexander said. “With this budget, the city can have better roads, better water meters, safer streets and better police communication system the years to come.”
The proposed budget maintains the city’s property tax rate at $0.6448890 and keeps water and wastewater rates unchanged. In addition, the city continues to budget for water and wastewater line repairs and maintenance and a second street sweeper in 2016-17.
“The proposed budget is structurally balanced and supports sound fiscal and operational policies,” Finance Director Steve Groom said. “It is a strategic budget that aligns financial resources with the City Council’s vision and priorities.
“The budget is much more than numbers or dollars because it is an expression of our citizens’ values and aspirations for our city.”
To address the needs of the city after the April 30 flash flood, a proposed $700,000 will be sought to upgrade police communications systems. A storm knocked out the city’s communications during the flood and while it is again operational, the city has to upgrade its current systems. The City of Palestine is currently working with FEMA for reimbursement to the city’s recovery efforts after the flood and future mitigation efforts. A total of $520,000 was allocated to recovery efforts from the city’s current fund balances.
The City of Palestine also proposes an investment in personnel with a 1.5-percent across-the-board pay raise for employees. This next fiscal year, there will be no increases in health care costs to taxpayers or staff contributions.
This year, Palestine is facing the economic reality of lower revenues from the state sales tax and from assistance from Anderson County. To bring the City Council’s priorities and vision to reality, every staff department cut costs and four open positions were frozen: one in fire, police, finance and the central warehouse. Tough decisions were made and the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show was also cut from the proposed budget.
Groom and Alexander agreed with the council that if sales tax revenues trend higher in the first quarter of the fiscal year, the city may unfreeze those positions.
“When our local economy thrives, our city government soon follows,” Groom said.
The proposed budget is available on the city’s website at cityofpalestinetx.com
, and available for inspection at City Hall, 504 N. Queen St. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed tax rates on Sept. 12 during a public hearing. A hearing on the tax rate and the proposed budget is set for Sept. 19.
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 23, 2016) – Palestine Main Street is taking applications for the fifth annual Palestine Art Tracks Sculpture Trail to take place in downtown Palestine.
Artists are invited to send their applications with photos for jury selection. New this year will be the chance to win multiple prizes up to from $250 to $1,000. Selected artists will receive a $500 stipend for expenses. No entry fee is required.
“A few short months are left to take advantage of walking or driving by the current sculptures,” Jean Mollard with Palestine Tomorrow said. “The artists who loaned their art would be delighted to know how many people are taking photos and pondering their work. Of course, all the art is for sale.”
Art call is for outdoor sculptures 3 ft and taller, and taller sculptures up to 10 feet or more are encouraged. All locations are on city right of ways or property and can be viewed from streets and sidewalks. Although Palestine is steeped in the rich history of the railroad, art submissions do not have to be railroad themed.
“We want the tourists and visitors who are at our Visitor Center Railroad Depot and the Texas State Railroad live steam trains to enjoy the multitude of sculpture designs,” Mollard said.” We will work with you on the best place to show your particular art and we welcome a variety of styles.”
Palestine Main Street is supported in the trail by Palestine Tomorrow. The group is in its fifth year of the Art Tracks trail. The idea for the trail began in 2010 after sculpture artist Dale Montagne visited Palestine. He offered Mollard, Jackson Hanks and others a vision of sculpture art as a downtown attraction. The idea, Montagne told them, was train motifs or railroad history in Palestine’s public spaces.
The group then formed Palestine Tomorrow, Inc., a non-profit group dedicated to providing and encouraging parks and the arts in Palestine. In 2012, the group, along with Palestine Main Street, hosted its first Art Tracks Trail. Since the first show, 54 sculptures have enhanced Main Street.
Each artist loans the work for up to a year, some standing on bases provided by Union Pacific and students at Westwood High School. The group is also developing a sculpture and rail history entrance park near the Palestine Visitors Center.
The 2016 trail will be the first year prize money will be awarded. Donors including Ben E. Keith Distributors, Pumping Services, Inc., and Hanks will provide up to $1,000 for the Best Selection of the show. Other prize categories will total $1,500 additional prize money.
The show also receives funds and in-kind services from individuals and businesses like Ben E. Keith, the Palestine Herald-Press, Union Pacific, and more. Palestine Tomorrow, Inc, also receives support from the Texas Area Fund Foundation.
“It is truly a public – private, join venture between all participants,” Mollard said. “It benefits the school children who come in buses to drive the tour, tourists who stop to take photos and citizens who drive by everyday exposing them to different art styles.”
Greg Laudadio, Palestine Main Street Director, said the partnership with Palestine Tomorrow has been benefical to everyone.
“Having these pieces in our downtown is amazing because it brings added culture and interest to the Main Street District,” Laudadio said. “Including these creative and often abstract pieces to a landscape dominated by historic architecture creates some profound contrasts. We are very happy to have these pieces around town. The Art Tracks program has experienced success and continues to grow.”
Entries for this year’s Art Tracks Sculptures are available online at cityofpalestinetx.com. Entries can be mailed or delivered to the Palestine Visitor Center, 825 W. Spring St., or via email at email@example.com. The deadline for applications is October 20.
"Due to a busy summer season for most artists preparing for shows throughout Texas, we are extending the deadline to October 20," Mollard said.
For more information on this year’s Art Tracks Trail, contact show organizer Terry Jones at 903-480-4887 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling Mollard at 903-391-1002.
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 17, 2016) – The City of Palestine, in conjunction with the Northeast Texas Public Health District, will host a series of classes for basic food workers.
Four classes, for both English and Spanish speakers, will be held. According to state law, food employees are required to have a certificate of completion of this course by September 1. Food establishments are required to maintain those certificates.
“This is a great opportunity for local food workers,” City of Palestine Health Inspector Rickey Dorsey said. “The class will help all our local food workers meet the state requirements.”
The classes will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Palestine Civic Center, 819 W. Spring St., will host the English language classes and the Council Chambers inside City Hall, 504 N. Queen St., will be the site for the Spanish classes.
Instructors with the Northeast Texas Public Health District, Net Health, will be leading the class. Preregistration for the class can be made in person at City Hall, 504 N. Queen St., between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration will be available at the door, but students must arrive 30 minutes early.
The cost is $20 per person and only cash, check or money orders will be accepted. No credit cards. Checks and money orders should be made payable to Net Health.
Classes begin promptly, and late arrivals will not be admitted into the class. If a student is unable to attend the class, an alternate student may be substituted. If a student is absent from the class and fails to send an alternate, the student will be required to re-register and pay for a later class.
For more information on the class and food estabilishments in Palestine, call Dorsey at 903-731-8495, Janet Migliaccio at 903-731-8492, or Net Health at 903-535-0030. Information in Spanish is available at 903-535-0758.
PALESTINE, Texas (August 17, 2016) –The Hot Pepper Festival Committee announced today the headliner for the 2016 Hot Pepper Festival.
Multiple-award winning entertainer Jack Ingram will headline the festival on October 22. Ingram, best known for his song “Barefoot and Crazy,” was the 2008 Best New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music.
“We are so happy to announce that Jack Ingram will headline the festival,” City of Palestine Parks and Recreation Event Coordinator Heather Hrebec said. “He is a well-known artist that many in this area will know.”
Ingram will headline the main stage on Spring Street, preceded by two opening acts. The opening acts are yet to be named. All three bands were booked with the help of a music broker and costs less than the $25,000 offered to another band in July. That band declined to be part of the festival.
Ingram, from The Woodlands, Texas, started in 2007. His seventh album, “Big Dreams and High Hopes,” is set to be released on August 26.
Ingram’s concert is just one of several new additions to this year’s Hot Pepper Festival. Events scheduled include a Soap Box Derby, and a Carnival sponsored by the Palestine Rotary club. Events slated include a BBQ cook-off, silent auction, music, food, vendors and more.
“This year’s festival promises to deliver a wide range of entertainment,” Hrebec said.
To become a sponsor of this year’s Hot Pepper Festival, contact a member of the Hot Pepper Festival committee, or call the Parks and Recreation Department at 903-731-8435.
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug.16, 2016) – To coincide with the lifting of Anderson County’s burn ban, the City of Palestine will lift its burn ban effective immediately.
Residents will be allowed to burn if they obtain a permit at one of the three Palestine Fire Stations:
- • Station 1, 611 Avenue A
- • Station 2, 107 7th Street
- • Station 3, 518 Benbrook
Residents with burn permits will have to follow burning guidelines. For more information on burning within the city limits, call the fire department at 903-729-7100.
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 11, 2016) – Recently, the City of Palestine was offered an opportunity to join with Texas Compliance Solutions in a “No Insurance” camera program.
After a presentation by the company at Monday’s Palestine City Council meeting, Interim City Manager Mike Alexander has decided not to move forward with the project. Texas Compliance Solutions was informed of the decision Thursday.
“After much consideration and advice from legal counsel, we have made the decision not to move forward with the program at this time,” Alexander said. “The program is new and we are not sure it is a good fit for the City of Palestine.”
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 4, 2016) – Palestine Police Chief Mike Alexander recently promoted Sgt. Justin Willoughby to lieutenant and named him to lead the department’s Criminal Investigation Division. Willoughby replaces J.M. Herod, who became Assistant Chief.
“I appreciate Lt. Willoughby’s initiative and inspiration to take action when he believes he can make a difference,” Alexander said. “My responsibility at that point is to help make his leadership productive and consistent with the Palestine Police Department’s core values that supports our mission.”
Willoughby, a lifelong resident of Palestine, is an eight-year veteran with the Palestine Police Department. He began his career in April 2008 when he attended the East Texas Police Academy. After graduation, Willoughby was assigned to the Patrol Division where he completed his field training, and shortly thereafter became a Field Training Officer himself.
Willoughby promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2010, and then Sergeant in 2011. During this time, Willoughby obtained his Basic Instructor Proficiency. Willoughby has instructed in numerous subjects, including Use of Force, Baton, Handcuffing, Mental Health, Criminal Investigations, and Crisis Intervention, both in Department in-service and Academy settings.
Willoughby has received numerous hours of continuing education training in the areas of Criminal Investigations, Crime Scene Processing, Crisis Intervention, and Interview/Interrogation. He is a certified Mental Health Peace Officer and a certified Public Information Officer.
Before his promotion, Willoughby was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division and was responsible for the supervision of the day-to-day activities of the unit.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to take a greater leadership role within the department,” Willoughby said. “I’m looking forward to working with my division to improve our services and the quality of life for our citizens.”
Willoughby and his family live in Palestine.
PALESTINE, Texas (August 8, 2016) – Palestine’s yearly Water Distribution System Burnout will be initiated at midnight on Wednesday, August 10.
This process is accomplished by turning the ammonia off at the treatment plant, which produces a free chlorine residual that will kill bacterial growth in the distribution system. This procedure is recommended by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to help achieve and maintain the required .5 parts-per-million chlorine residual. Residents may experience chlorine smell or red water for approximately one to three weeks.
Ammonia will be turned back at midnight on September 1. If residents experience red water, they may pick up a product called Red-B-Gone for free at the Public Water Works Utilities Office at 310 Debard St.
For more information on water quality, visit the TCEQ website at tceq.texas.gov.
PALESTINE, Texas (Aug. 4, 2016) – The City of Palestine will spray for mosquitoes on Friday, Aug. 5 or Saturday, Aug. 6.
The city designated seven areas for spraying. The areas selected for spraying include:
• Neighborhoods west of Ferguson Road, southwest to Parkerest Drive;
• Neighborhoods south of West Sterne Avenue and west of Westbrook Street, to Stewart Street;
• Neighborhoods north of West Brooklyn Avenue and North Queen and North Jackson streets, including Greens Park;
• Neighborhoods north of North Loop 256 to Colley Drive and west of Pine Tree Drive to Donnybrook Drive;
• Neighborhoods north of Country Club Road to Timberline Trail;
• Neighborhoods south of Country Club Road and east of Old Brushy Creek Road, also neighborhoods north of Peach Tree Drive and west of Gardner Drive;
• Neighborhoods north of East Loop 256, south of East Palestine Avenue to Bowen Drive, including the Steven Bennett Park.
The City of Palestine contracts its mosquito spraying needs to Vector Disease Control International. Residents can make mosquito complaints to the City of Palestine Development Services Department, Health Division, at 903-731-8492.