County to seek two new courts
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–Two new courts may be on Kaufman County’s agenda in the near
At their regular Dec. 29, 2008, meeting, county commissioners approved a
resolution asking the State Legislature to create a third county
court-at-law and a third district court.
The 81st State Legislature will open its 140-day Regular Session
Tuesday, Jan. 12.
“At the moment, we (the judges) are keeping up with our dockets,” 86th
District Court Judge Howard Tygret told the commissioners.
“But, with the projected growth of our county, it’s better to stay ahead
of the curve,” he explained.
While county population growth has slowed slightly with last summer’s
gas price spike, the growth rate is expected to pick back up within six
months to two years, Tygret reported.
“If we don’t start now, it will be two years before we can ask again,”
he said. “Even after the request is made, it could be up to four years
before the courts are started.”
County Judge Wayne Gent asked how the county should follow through on
“Just ask that it be done, and then work with the state on the
procedures,” Tygret said.
In other business, commissioners:
• appointed representatives to the North Central Texas Housing Finance
Wayne Gent was designated as a voting member, replacing former
commissioner Ken Leonard.
Kaufman attorney Wade Gent was named the first alternate, and Precinct 4
Commissioner Jim Deller as the second alternate.
• appointed representatives to the County Historical Commission for
2009-10 as recommended.
Precinct 4 appointments include former Tool assistant police chief
Martha Decker, George York, Paulette Parker and Elizabeth Grubbs.
• accepted a $1,118 rebate from the BuyBoard Cooperative Purchasing
• authorized buying three trucks at a total cost of $38,050 for county
• approved the final plat for Shadow Lakes Phase Four.
• approved the preliminary plat for Shadow Lakes Phase Five.
• authorized Precinct 4 to apply for the TERP (Texas Emissions Reduction
• accepted the November treasurer’s report as presented.
• approved the deputation of Wesley B. Boyd and Frank Gonzalez for the
Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department.
• approved a budget transfer as presented by auditor Hal D. Jones.
• paid bills totaling $385,092.90.
Monarch settles with water customers
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
AUSTIN–Protestors have reached an agreement with Monarch Utilities Inc.
over the company’s water and sewer rates, according to Texans Against
Monarch’s Excessive Rates (TAMER) chairman Orville Bevel.
The agreement came mid-December, following a second round of mediation
talks in Austin between Monarch, the three cities served by the utility,
and TAMER, which represents more than half of Monarch’s subdivision
TAMER, a Henderson County-based organization, now represents more than
12,000 people in 59 subdivisions, including the Pinnacle Club on Cedar
Creek Lake, Bevel said.
Guiding the mediation was retired district judge Joe Hart.
Bevel said protestors were able to get rate concessions from Monarch
that will save customers between $3 and $4 million over the next two
years, but admitted, “Not everybody is going to be entirely happy with
The controversy started in September, 2007, when Monarch raised water
rates to a monthly charge of $44.37, plus $5.27 per 1,000 gallons up to
20,000 gallons. After that, the rate was $5.80 per 1,000 gallons.
The sewer rate also increased to $49.59, and plans called for that to
jump to $61.69 this past September and $73.78 next year.
The new rates, which begin in March, 2009, will take the base water rate
down to $40.25. The per-1,000-gallon rate will also be reduced to:
• up to 2,000 gallons: $3.35
• 2,000 to 20,000 gallons: $4.50
• 20,000 gallons and up: $6.50
Those rates will stay in effect until March, 2010, when there will be an
8 percent across-the-board increase for water rates.
The sewer rate will go down to $59 until March, 2011, “which is a
substantial savings,” Bevel said.
Monarch agreed that it would not ask for an additional rate increase
before January, 2011.
“The advantage that gives us is that we’ll have two sessions of the
State Legislature to try and get bills passed to change the way things
are done,” Bevel said.
In addition, customers in all subdivisions who are members of TAMER and
contributed to the group’s legal fund will receive a $50 credit as a
rebate on their March, 2009 bill. This is only for those TAMER members.
Both sides also agreed to pay their own legal fees and expert costs.
According to Bevel, this was an important point for TAMER, because
Monarch’s costs were nearly 10 times the $35,000 the grassroots group
Bevel said TAMER attorney David Frederick was “very, very generous” with
“They haven’t billed us for all the stuff they’ve done,” Bevel said.
Don’t expect TAMER to go anywhere, now that this rate case is closed.
Bevel said he, at the request of the TAMER board, would be working with
Charles W. Profilet, Monarch vice president for Texas, to set up a
statewide panel to meet with Monarch four times a year to work out
TAMER also plans to be very active in the upcoming session of the State
Bevel said the group is working with State Rep. Betty Brown and State
Senators Robert Nichols and Dr. Bob Deuell on legislation that would
stop utilities from collecting increased rates before going through the
“TAMER, for the foreseeable future, is here to stay,” Bevel said.
U.S. soldier gets Christmas wish
Family members find dog to make wish come true
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–A Christmas wish came true for an American soldier on leave
for Christmas, after serving the last two Christmases in Iraq.
The result of tenaciousness and fortuitous circumstances brought it
about just in time for Christmas.
Infantry squad leader Richard Denham reminded his wife of 3˝ years that
she had said the next time they were in Texas, she would see about
getting him a heeler puppy.
(Denham had a Queensland Heeler before and had lost it, and had wanted
another one ever since. “I really miss her,” he told The Monitor.)
So, the couple were on their way to Seven Points from Fort Riley, Kan.,
to spend Christmas with Tammy’s parents, Karen and Kenneth Penland.
“I have a neighbor that sometimes raises heeler puppies,” Karen
explained. But this wasn’t the year they were available, she added.
When her daughter arrived and let her parents know how important this
Christmas wish was, they kicked it into high gear.
Karen asked her local beauty shop owner, who sometimes has heelers or
knows where some may be, but no luck.
“By this time, we all decided he really needed to have one,” Tammy said.
“We called the chamber of commerce and were about to run an ad in the
Lo and behold, someone was already running an ad in the paper, wanting
to give away heeler puppies because he didn’t have registration papers,
The puppy owner, Jimmy Henderson, heard the story and was glad to
provide a 10-week-old female to grant a soldier’s wish.
He was sure the dog was purebred, but couldn’t prove it, Karen said. He
had also bobbed the dog’s tail and gotten its first two rounds of shots.
“So, we offered to help reimburse his expenses and he agreed,” she
Not being from Texas, Denham expressed his appreciation for the support
provided by his wife’s family and their church family at A Sinner’s Hope
Baptist in Payne Springs.
Last Christmas, the congregation provided a prayer blanket and collected
a basket of goodies as their own special gift to him. “It was really
great of them,” Rick responded.
Rick, originally from Omaha, Neb., had served in the Marine Corps seven
years and was out for 10 when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks took
“I felt I needed to do something about that,” he said.
So, he reenlisted – this time with the Army. “I had to start all over
again from the bottom,” he said.
To date, he’s been in the army five years. All told, including Desert
Storm, Rick has served 26 months overseas.
His latest mission has been to provide security to a subdivision in
western Baghdad, where both Shiite and Sunni Muslims live in segregated
As part of Charlie Co., 128th Infantry, 4th Infantry Battalion Combat
Team, 1st Infantry Division, “We are helping a lot of local nationals
get back to work,” he said.
“We help by providing security for local markets, restoring telephone
and utility services, and training Iraqi national police and army. They
go with us on joint patrols and gain on-the-job training,” he explained.
He declined to speak of any bad experiences, but said he really enjoys
passing out school supplies sent from home to students in neighborhood
“When we go to a school and the kids are happy and smiling and grateful
even for the gift of a pencil, it fills me with joy,” he said.
One can imagine how grateful they must be for the restoration of basics,
such as water and sewer service and electricity.
“When we first got there everyone had to walk through sewage and live on
a very primitive level,” he said. “Now, things are much improved and you
can see that the level of trust between us and them has grown.”
After his leave ends, Rick will further his training at Fort Sill,
Okla., before leaving on a fourth overseas deployment, he said.
The further training is so if any member of the squad should fall,
someone else will be able to step in and take over.
“It’s crucial cross-training,” he said.