Thursday, January 1, 2009






  East Cedar Creek receives
state drinking water award

By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District directors learned Wednesday their water system is an award winner.
A letter dated Dec. 1 from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality let the directors know the ECCFWSD system has been chosen to receive a TCEQ 2008 Drinking Water Recognition Program award.
Board president David Burch announced the award and read a short excerpt about the honor.
“The award is for the exceptional compliance with the total coliform rule (TCR) requirements,” the letter stated.
To receive the TCR award, a public water system must have no TCR violations and must have been an active public water system for 60 consecutive months.
Enclosed with the letter was a 2008 total coliform Rule Award certificate for both the Brookshire and B.A. McKay treatment plants.
The directors present expressed pleasure to general manager Bill Goheen for the district’s accomplishment.
In other business, directors:
• heard problems with the long-running Prairie Creek Cove Channel project could be coming to an end..
The project involved moving about 1,300 cubic yards of silt. Only 779 cubic yards was dug out and transported to another location by the original contractor.
Athens engineer Chris Weeks reported after further inspection, it may not be necessary to remove any more sludge from the cove.
“Water quality could be damaged by further silt removal,” Weeks explained. “We have tried our best to complete the project to the best of our ability.”
Also, the Tarrant Regional Water District – which owns Cedar Creek Lake – is not contesting the amount of silt that has been removed, Weeks said.
• authorized the purchase of a new meter for the Brookshire plant at a cost of $4,270, to be taken out of the operating reserve account.
• agreed to transfer $8,553.92 from the operating reserve to rehabilitate the North Waste Water Treatment Plant rotor assemblies.
• agreed to pay no more than $2,500 to Forney Drilling Company for work moving lines near the State Highway 334 and U.S. Highway 175 interchange, now under construction.
Goheen reminded directors when work on the U.S. 175 widening project is completed, the Texas Department of Transportation will reimburse the out-of-pocket expenses of the district.
• approved a depository agreement with Prosperity Bank.
• transferred $1,095,241.48 from bond interest and sinking fund into operations reserve for a bond debt payment.

Saying “so long” to 2008
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–In years to come, 2008 will be remembered both as a year of crises and victory.
One of the worst financial crisis in all of American history burst into view, wiping out some of the oldest and largest financial institutions in the world and almost without warning. The ramifications of which continues to shake world markets and will shadow our economic future for years to come.
It’s also the year, Americans voted for a man of color to lead the nation as its president.
In addition, 2008 saw the close defeat of a woman as a presidential candidate.
Though the import of these events may not immediately be apparent, its precedent will clear the way for a broader field of future leaders in all areas of American life.
Locally, new leaders in the Henderson County district and county attorney offices as well as in the sheriff’s post will likely lead in new directions.
Swearing in ceremonies are slated for Sheriff Ray Nutt, DA Scott McKee and County Attorney Clint Davis.
Besides the election, the rising price of gas and the drilling of more gas affected a great many residents of Cedar Creek Lake.
Those against drilling under the lake and the possible release of sour gas (hydrogen sulfide H2S) sent e-mails, attended city council meetings and asked hard questions of BlackBrush engineers.
Questions centered on inadequate escape routes should a blowout or serious sour gas leak occur in the vicinity of Payne Springs and Enchanted Oaks, where a well head was planned for development.
To date, a drilling permit has not been issued because the company has not filed a safety contingency plan.
We saw Franklin Bank become Prosperity Bank as part of the financial meltdown the banking industry is suffering due to the trading of insolvent mortgage loans.
Account holders felt no ill effects, likely due to in part to the $750 billion federal bailout.
In November, the feds officially announced the country is in a recession. Happily, Texas is one of the few places positioned to withstand most of the ill effects. However, the recession has just begun.
A side benefit of toppling stock markets has been lowered gas prices. However, experts predict its rise again to near $4 per gallon come the spring and summer travel months.
Henderson County
A facilities study for Henderson County, courtesy of the Ginger Murchison Foundation, came as a result of Athens residents protesting the purchase of 44 acres just inside the loop as a place for county government expansion.
The study focuses on currently available buildings in and around the town square in Athens.
Commissioners are expected to review the study this month and make some plans for much needed additional office and storage space.
In addition, the closure of an $8 billion jail expansion project is expected midmonth.
The doubling of inmate capacity means added revenue to the county in rentals to other counties during a time when local need for prison space has never been lower.
This bodes well for this year’s taxpayers.
The commissioners again were able to cut – instead of raise – the rate of taxes this year.
The county emerency management program went into operations without a glitch when Hurricane Gustav and Ike made their appearances.
The American Red Cross disaster housing facility in Seven Points stood ready and waiting to house evacuees. Also area churches took in those displaced by the storm and its aftermath, giving the community an opportunity to offer timely hospitality.
School districts
Eustace broke ground this year on a new gymnasium, and a new high school for Kemp has risen from the lot adjacent to ‘Jacket Stadium. Parking for football games proved to be problematic, but eased somewhat with shuttle runs from campus parking lots to the stadium.
Voters passed a $23 million bond for the project back in 2007.
Mabank High School recently made America’s Best High Schools list again put out by U.S. News and World Report for the second year in a row.
The designation recognizes the even-handed proficiency rate of all its students, including the 50 percent which are economically disadvantaged.
This is an important accolade because Mabank lost its state award-winning principal Dr. Tommy Wallis to Palestine the end of summer. Assistant Principal Brad Koskelin was promoted to lead the high school.
Also, the high school’s design won a state award for excellence in planning and design.
MHS students built a house for one of its own.
The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity received funds from the 2007 Spirit Week and awarded its third house project to a Mabank counselor’s aid.
Industrial arts students built the house and when completed, it was transported from the shop to its permenant location on the corner of Kaufman and First streets.
Malakoff ISD’s superintendent John Spies and board of trustees convinced voters to approve a $7 million bond that would allow the accounts to shift a small amount from daily operations to capital improvements. The expected outcome is to fund a way to replace the bus fleet over the next ten years while saving voters a million and not costing them any more in school property taxes.
Both Mabank and Seven Points labored under heavy street and drainage improvements progressing on their main thoroughfares.
Though needed, the road work on Third Street in Mabank and Cedar Creek Lake Parkway in Seven Points, are squeezing city coffers and stressing businesses to the breaking point as they try to survive the inconvenience to their customers.
The road widening project in Eustace was completed, as were repairs to local streets, following flooding rains in 2007.
Gun Barrel City saw lots of changes under its new city manager Gerry Boren.
The acceptance of payments by credit cards being one of the most progressive changes, along with the unfurling of a city website, updated flag and remodeling of its police dispatch.
Though still undecided on how to expand city offices, council members agree breaking ground on a new city hall or remodeling the Brawner Hall building to accommodate more office space is needed and will likely be a top priority this year.
Longtime mayors of Tool (Scott Confer) and Malakoff (Pat Issacson) voluntarily resigned from office this year, making way for new blood and new ideas.
Log Cabin brought back a former mayor (Billy Goodwin) from 10 years ago to put a firm and steady hand on the keel after two years of controversy and three other mayors.
Utility Districts
East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District working with the Gun Barrel City Council ccompleted a sanitary sewer rehabilitation project in the Tamarack Subdivision. Also, the district was recognized with a Drinking Water award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for its exceptional compliance with the total coliform rule requirements, having no more TCR violations.
The West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District saved its customers money when it nearly doubled office space by using inhouse labor and expertise.
It also was cited again this year with the Best Tasting Water award. The utility responded to major emergencies in main breaks that emptied one of its water towers with tenacity and perseverence in locating (in a heavily overgrown area) and fixing the line.
Once again this year, district employees collected and delivered toys and needed food items to some of the district’s neediest customers.
The Greater Chamber of Commerce of Cedar Creek Lake recognized two outstanding individuals for their volunteer work in the community with service awards. Kathy Kendrick was named Citizen of the Year and Rev. Eston Williams garnered the Jean Nichols Lifetime Service Award recognizing his work with the Habitat for Humanity, Henderson County United Way and Family Resource Center. He also had spearheaded efforts to raise money to put in a heliport in Gun Barrel City, after a tragic accident highlighted the need for one.
Kendrick, the co-owner of Lone Star Maps, routinely volunteers for numerous programs through the area Kiwanis club, Cedar Creek Lake Women’s Club and the Chamber. She has come to epitomize the word volunteer.

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