PALESTINE, Texas (March 31, 2016) – The City of Palestine’s Finance Department recently announced the promotion of two employees. Customer Service Supervisor, Heather Powell, will now be the city’s Purchasing Agent while Amanda Norgaard will now serve as Customer Service Supervisor.
The changes were made effective by Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer Larry Pannell. Pannell said Powell was serving both positions until recently.
“With our level of activity increasing, we felt that both our external and internal customers would be better served if we split those tasks between Heather and Amanda,” Pannell said. “Amanda has been with the city since March 2014 and has served our customers admirably during that time. The dedication to their work, attention to detail, and their willingness to serve our customers contribute to improving our service.”
Powell has been with the City of Palestine since June 2013, serving as a dispatcher for the Palestine Police Department. Before her tenure in Palestine, Powell served for 10 years as a dispatcher in three counties, including Anderson County.
Powell moved to the finance department in January 2015 and was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor in October 2015. She is currently working towards her certification through the Texas Comptroller's Office as a certified purchasing agent.
Norgaard started with the City of Palestine in March 2014 as a customer service representative. In addition to her duties as supervisor to the customer service staff, she handles a myriad of duties including utility billing, bank adjustments and deposits, and closing accounts.
For more information on the Finance Department, log on to the City of Palestine’s website at cityofpalestinetx.com
PALESTINE, Texas (March 31, 2015) – Scott Parkhurst, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Palestine, recently received certification to teach emergency response at a very high level.
Parkhurst is now qualified to teach Levels 300 and 400 of the Federal Incident Command System. He recently completed a week-long classroom course and instructor observation in teaching the courses. The Incident Command System, or ICS, is a structure-based command system during disasters where multiple agencies are required to respond.
The courses represent the higher levels of the command structure and are taught to those who might be called upon for leadership roles, including incident commanders.
Parkhurst said the courses can be difficult at times, and when he teaches the course, he wants the students to feel that pressure.
“We want to make them sweat a little,” Parkhurst said. “We want a little bit of pressure because that is how it’s going to be in the real world.”
Created in the 1970s by fire chiefs in California, the Incident Command System is part of the National Incident Management System or NIMS. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) adopted both in 2004. Parkhurst has served in disaster response both as a responder and incident commander.
The training is beneficial for the City of Palestine in several ways, including leadership on a major emergency involving agencies from all over East Texas and beyond. The ICS training is also important regarding funding. The City of Palestine adopted the NIMS protocol to complete federal funding requirements.
All city employees are required to complete Levels 100 and 200, basic skills, of the FEMA ICS training. Parkhurst is currently working to ensure compliance get everyone trained or recertified in ICS.
“We’re going to be pulling in everybody,” Parkhurst said.
Parkhurst has been with the City of Palestine since March 2015. For more information on Emergency Management in Palestine, log on to City of Palestine’s website at cityofpalestinetx.com
PALESTINE, Texas (March 29, 2016) – Known affectionately as “Old Pal,” the Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival is old-timey music at its best! The Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival is a weekend full of live music, with the guest of honor being the dulcimer. This weekend launches the 15th Annual Palestine Old Time Music and Dulcimer Festival, starting on March 31 and through April 2 as part of the 78th Dogwood Trail Celebration.
The festival is held at the Museum for East Texas Culture, built in 1916 and formerly the old John H. Reagan High School. Set at the highest point in Reagan Park, the old, multi-story school building is red brick and is now the home for historical treasures of Palestine and Anderson County.
This festival carries a laid back attitude, but in keeping with its name the music is based on the fiddle tunes that come from the Appalachian Mountains. It is a good opportunity to see many excellent musicians in one place and listen to live performances or attend some of the workshops and jam sessions.
“It is nice to see the Reagan School used for continued education. The Dulcimer Festival offers jam sessions and workshops for artists and musicians from across the country to develop their skills,” said Mary Raum, Tourism Marketing Manager for the City of Palestine.
This festival is not just for musicians, but for anyone who loves music. Concerts are planned each Friday and Saturday starting at 1:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and guests are encouraged to stay and enjoy the other programming. Workshops and jam sessions will begin each morning at 9 a.m. and will take place throughout the day.
“Well worth the drive down from St. Louis. I honestly can't think of anywhere I'd have rather been than in Palestine,” said Sean a musician who traveled over 700 miles to participate in the festival last year.
Concert headliners include Mark Cruz, a champion in finger-style guitar, Sue Carpenter, champion finger-picking mountain dulcimer diva, Betty Scott, a champion autoharp sweetheart, The Dove Brothers and The Sawmill Vagrants to name a few.
Building on the success of the event each year, the Old Pal Dulcimer Festival brings culture and love for music and community to Palestine
Please contact the Palestine Visitor Center at 903-723-3014, www.VisitPalestine.comto request a free visitor's guide.
The Palestine Visitor Center is located at 825 W. Spring St. and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Please be sure to check opening hours for each attraction before visiting
PALESTINE, Texas (March 28, 2016) – The City of Palestine has named Tim Perry as the Interim Utilities Director for the City of Palestine. Perry currently serves the city as Public Works Director and will serve both roles.
Perry replaces Robert Sedgwick in the Utilities office. Sedgwick retired from the city after 19 years as Utilities Director. He has served in the public sector for most of his career.
“The City of Palestine thanks Robert for his service and his dedication to the city and its residents,” Assistant City Manager Larry Pannell said. “We know Tim [Perry] will serve both roles well.”
The City is also announcing the retirement of Water and Wastewater Superintendent Curtis Logan. Logan has served the City of Palestine for four years.
PALESTINE, Texas (March 24, 2016) – The City of Palestine’s Development Services Department hosted hotel, recreation, and apartment complex pool operators at the Palestine City Council Chambers on Thursday for a seminar on swimming pool safety.
On March 14, the city council passed ordinances giving city health inspectors the authority to inspect commercial swimming pools. Although a vast majority of swimming pools in the city comply with state code, Garry Mulgrew and Ginger Wood with the Northeast Texas Public Health District gave operators an overview of its nuances.
“For some operators that know pools, compliance can still be a challenge,”Mulgrew said.
Texas code, Mulgrew said, divides commercial swimming pools into five classes. The classes range from therapy pools, a Class E pool, to an Olympic-style competition pool, a Class A pool. Hotel and apartment complex pools are considered a Class C pool while public recreational pools are Class B pools. Most commercial pools in Palestine fall under the Class C designation.
Hotel and apartment complex pool operators are to check chlorine and chemical levels at least once a day. Public recreational pools are subject to chlorine checks every two hours. All pools are mandated to have the proper safety equipment including, a ring buoy, retrieval pole, handrails, fences, a dedicated emergency phone, and proper labeling and signs.
Mulgrew said one of the best ways to inspect the hotel or apartment complex pool is to use it.
“Swimin your pool,”Mulgrew said. “Check out the features and make sure they are in compliance.”
Mulgrew also suggested pool operators should invest in a commercial testing kit for the pool. Operators should test the water at least 18 inches below the water’s surface and alternate testing locations daily. Also, operators should keep daily logs of chemical levels for two years.
PALESTINE, Texas (March 24, 2016) – Since 1994, the City of Palestine Historic Landmarks Commission has been awarding recognition to owners who beautify and rehabilitate their properties, contributions that benefit the entire community.
For the month of March, the Historic Landmarks Commission singled out the property at 105 E. Main St., a freshly beautified and rehabilitated building. The Commission also commends the owner, Kaycee Hamilton, on a job well done.
“[Hamilton has] done a fabulous job on the building,” Julie Abston, chairperson of the Historic Landmarks Commission, said. “She has brought it back to its character, and she’s done it in a great way.”
Since the turn of the 20th century, a modest one-story commercial building has occupied 105 E. Main St. It had the typical features found in a commercial building of the time. The building featured solidly-built brick walls laid by skilled masons, a cast iron and wooden storefront featuring big windows to showcase products, and with transom windows positioned above to allow natural illumination to reach the entire interior.
Inside, high ceilings finished with tin tile added a sense of detail and openness. Over the years, the building served many purposes, from grocery store, to meat market, to a law office.
When Hamilton acquired the building, years of vacancy combined with previous renovations hid the history and architecture of the building beneath layers of water-damaged dropped ceiling tiles, wood panels, peeling paint, and a small colony of roosting bats. It was a building on its last legs.
With a lot of sweat equity, judicious use of skilled local contractors, and a large investment of time and resources, the historic character of the building at 105 E. Main St. has been restored.
“It was impressive how much of the historic features she was able to bring back on a budget,” Jacob Morris, Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Palestine, said. “She was able to showcase the historic fabric of the building.”
Morris also said Hamilton used historically proper materials when restoring the building. For example, she used tin on the ceilings. Hamilton also restored the exterior façade of the building.
“On the exterior, [Hamilton] worked on the clinker brick and preserved it so the brick will be in the right state for a very long time,” Abston said.
The building is now open to the public as Rustic Ladder, a consignment store offering eclectic furniture, home accessories, décor, and gifts to visitors eager to personalize their home or find that distinctive gift for a friend. The City of Palestine Historic Preservation Commission urges everyone to go downtown and visit the Rustic Ladder at 105 E. Main St. and see the rehabilitated building for themselves.
For more information about the Historic Landmark Commission or historic preservation, contact Historic Preservation Officer Jacob Morris at 903-731-8419 or email@example.com
PALESTINE, Texas (March 22, 2016) – Don't miss the 3rd Annual Egg-Normous Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 26th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Palestine Athletic Complex! Admission is free.
Close to 20,000 eggs will be given away to local children at 11 a.m. sharp. Residents are asked to arrive early to ensure a spot in the hunt and to BYOB, or “bring your own basket.”
The Egg Hunt will be divided into (3) age groups: Ages 1-3 Ages 4-7 Ages 8-10 Each age group will hunt on their own personal field and each field will contain "Golden Eggs" that can be redeemed for awesome prizes at the Main Stage on Field #1. When the hunt is over, Field #1 will be open with bounce houses, a DJ, face painters, fun, prizes, and much more! The Easter Bunny will be there, so be sure to bring your camera! For more information, contact the City of Palestine Parks & Recreation Department at 903-731-8435, on the web at cityofpalestinetx.com, or on Facebook at facebook.com/palestineparksandrec.
PALESTINE, Texas (March 22, 2016) – The second weekend of Palestine’s Dogwood Trails starts Saturday, March 26 with events downtown.
Palestine’s Main Street district will come alive with two events coinciding with Easter and the return of spring. At 8 a.m., the Palestine Farmers Market, 813 W. Spring St., will 14 local vendors during the Main Street Farm & Flower Market. Items available for purchase will include local and regional produce, handmade items, flowers and seedling trees, wild honey, farm eggs, herbs, outdoor décor and much more.
“The Palestine Main Street District is excited to host these two great attractions on Saturday, March 26. These are family friendly events that draw locals and tourists into our historic downtown.” Greg Laudadio with Palestine Economic Development and Main Street said. “These events fall on the second weekend of our Dogwood Trails celebration. People are excited about spring blooms and Easter, so we think this is a perfect combination.”
Scheduled to appear are local vendors: The Rustic Ladder, Ocean’s Cupcakery and Bakery, Bee Girl Honey, Pecan Lakes Ranch and Jim’s Plants from Montalba. DJ Chainsaw Carvings sell their artwork, and the Anderson County Master Gardeners will sell dogwood seedlings and other plants. Also, local farmers will have early season produce for sale.
Also on Saturday, children can have the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Main Street will host “Bunny Pictures on Main Street,” in front of Lee Loveless Photography, 101 W. Oak St. Pictures will cost $5, and proceeds will benefit the “Friends of Main Street” organization.
For more information on Palestine Main Street, contact Greg Laudadio at 903-729-4100 or on the web at cityofpalestinetx.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/palestinemainstreet, on Twitter at @palestinemainstreet
PALESTINE, Texas (March 21, 2016) – The City of Palestine has announced the Good Friday holiday schedule for city facilities.
The following city offices and facilities will close Friday, March 25 and will resume normal business hours on Monday, March 28:
• City Hall, which includes Customer Service, Municipal Court, Finance, Development Services, Public Works, Utilities, City Manager’s Office, Police Administration, City Secretary, Human Resources, Streets, Emergency Management Office and Warehouse Services.
• Palestine Economic Development and Main Street Offices
• Palestine Parks and Recreation Offices
• Palestine Civic Center Offices
• Palestine Public Library will close Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26. All library materials (books, CDs, and DVDs) can be returned 24/7 in the book drop located on the curb outside of the Mall’s main entrance.
The following city offices and facilities will remain open:
• The Palestine Mall Concourse and Mall shops will remain open on Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• The Palestine Visitor Center will remain open on Friday and Saturday during the Dogwood Trails weekend.
The following is scheduled from Public Works:
• City garbage/recycling services will run as scheduled
• The city compost site will be closed Friday.
• To report after-hours and holiday water/sewer/road issues that require immediate attention, please contact City Hall at 903-729-2254.
Residents are asked to dial 911 for emergency issues.
PALESTINE, Tx. (March 17, 2016) – The City of Palestine will hold a seminar on the city’s updated ordinances on pool and spa regulations on Thursday, March 24, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 504 N. Queen St.
Leading the seminar will be Garry Mulgrew and Ginger Wood from the Northeast Texas Public Health District.
“Both [speakers] are very knowledgeable on this subject and have years of experience inspecting pools in the Smith County area,” Jeffrey Lyons, Development Services Director for the City of Palestine, said.
The city is inviting all hotel owners and managers and all apartment complex owners and managers in Palestine. The Palestine City Council recently passed an ordinance that allows city health inspectors to enforce state law for pools and spas available to the general public.
On April 2, the City of Palestine will host TWO surplus auctions! Starting at 10 a.m., the first auction will be at the City of Palestine warehouse, 201 E. Coronaca St., and continues at 2 p.m. at the Palestine Mall, 2000 S. Loop 256.
Items for sale include:
- Heavy Equipment
- Office Equipment
- And MORE!
For photos and listing of the items, visit i-45auctionsales.com
Concessions will be provided by the Palestine Library Friends.
For more information, contact Victoria Minton at 903-731-8423 or I-45 Sales at 903-326-5802.
PALESTINE, Texas (March 15, 2015) – City of Palestine Interim City Manager Mike Alexander announced a new addition to the City of Palestine staff.
Nate Smith will join the city staff as Communications and Best Practices Officer. Smith, 38, will start immediately and serve under Alexander’s direct supervision.
“We are happy to have Nate working for the city,” Alexander said. “He brings a wealth of experience and skill to our staff.”
Smith, a resident of Palestine, was recently the editor of the Palestine Herald-Press. He has a decade of experience writing and editing publications in Indiana and Texas.
“I am really excited to begin working for the City of Palestine,” Smith said. “Palestine has so much promise while maintaining its historic charm. My family and I love this city. I am proud to serve it and its residents.”
Smith will handle all media relations for the City of Palestine and maintain the city’s website and social media accounts. As part of his duties, he will also directly inform residents through the media of important happenings in the city. He will also work with city departments, including police and fire departments, to help provide public information.
“Residents want to know what is happening in our city, and we will be aggressive in providing that information,” Smith said. “We plan to be using all of our resources, including our website and social media platforms, to inform our residents about important issues and events in the city. In the next few weeks and months, residents will see on our website and Facebook page lots of information they have never seen before.”
Smith will also be serving his fellow employees. Alexander has tasked Smith, through the direction of city managers and department heads, to create policies and procedures for all city employees. He will also maintain lines of communication and information for city employees.
“We have found many of our current procedures to be either nonexistent or horribly outdated,” Smith said. “In any workplace, employees need to feel secure in their positions, giving them a sense of purpose. These policies and procedures will provide a standard that provides accountability for both staff and managers.”
A graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, Smith and wife Allison have two sons, Colin and Cooper. He can be reached at 903-731-8449 (office), 903-948-7818 (cell), and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PALESTINE, Tx. (March 15, 2016) - The City of Palestine is working to combat the spread of the Zika virus as summer approaches.
Currently, city health officials are ready to spray should a resident complain of mosquitoes. Jeffrey Lyons, Development Service Director with the City of Palestine, said there have not been any complaints so far in 2016.
“Development Services will contract out the spraying for mosquitoes and begin this in the next couple of months,” Lyons said. “We also have a truck-mounted mosquito sprayer that Health Inspector Ricky Dorsey can use to spray areas on individual complaints.”
If a resident has a mosquito complaint, he or she can contact Development Services at 903-731-8480 for spraying.
Dorsey is set to attend further training on mosquito prevention. The Zika virus is scheduled to be a topic of discussion. In 2015, the City of Palestine contracted with Vector Disease Control for spraying in the city and plans to contract the spraying again in 2016.
Currently, there has not been a case of Zika virus locally, but Texas is one of the many states considered breeding grounds for virus-laden mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 193 cases have been reported nationwide as of March 9.
The virus is spread mostly through mosquito bites. Scott Parkhurst, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Palestine, said residents should follow these guidelines to prevent the spread of Zika.
• Remove Standing Water: Get rid of puddles including water/flowerpots and birdbaths as they are incubators for mosquitos.
• Wear Protective Clothing: Wear long sleeves and long pants.
• Use Insect Repellent: Mosquitos are most active at dusk and dawn, use repellent with at least 23 percent DEET as medical research has shown this is the most effective repellent.
The Zika virus causes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) in affected persons, and in rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome. Pregnant women who catch the virus are at a higher risk of her child developing birth defects.
The CDC recommends that if a person believes he or she has contracted the Zika virus to talk with a healthcare provider.