Thursday, January 10, 2008






  High winds fan flames
300 acres scorched in Seven Points
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Volunteer firefighters from 12 different fire departments plus the Texas Forestry Service responded to a grass fire Sunday, which spread quickly in winds gusting up to 30 mph in Seven Points.

Monitor Photos/Janis Grubbs
BELOW: Volunteer firefighters take a breather from fighting a grass fire which scorched 300 acres in Seven Points Sunday. ABOVE: A rehab area was set up in the parking lot of the Lakeview Assembly of God on State Highway 334 for the scores of volunteers who fought the blaze. Eleven fire departments responded as well as the Texas Forestry Service. Burning firecrackers is strongly suspected for causing the fire.

Fire investigators strongly suspect burning firecrackers started the blaze, which covered 300 acres between Arnold Hills and Wood roads and reaching nearly to State Highway 334 from Waller Road.
No one was seriously injured and though threatened, no houses were damaged.
Seven Points Fire Department Lt. George Johnson reported people in the area jumping in and helping fight the fire “with blankets and shovels and everything else.” The windy conditions caused sparks to jump up to 20 feet to a new location, spreading the fire, Johnson said.
He estimated up to 30 pieces of equipment were on the scene. Since more volunteers are available on Sundays, there was a rapid response time, he said.
Johnson also credited the fast response to the fire being located within the city.

Monitor Photo/Janis Grubbs
A Payne Springs tanker truck and crew were stationed here to monitor sparks being carried by the wind. A brush hog was also used to cut down on the high grasslands. Other departments were similarly deployed to contain the fire.

Sonic drive-in lent a hand by providing food for the hungry firefighters, Johnson said.
Units responding to the 11:11 a.m. call included Tool, Trinidad, Scurry, Log Cabin, Payne Springs, Malakoff, Kemp, Eustace, Gun Barrel City, Mabank, Kaufman and of course, Seven Points.


Neal McCoy to perform at Gater’s
Special to The Monitor
GUN BARREL CITY – Country performing artist Neal McCoy will be in concert Friday, Jan. 11, at Gater’s Sports Bar & Grill, located at 623 S. Gun Barrel Lane, Suite A in Gun Barrel City.
McCoy has achieved several awards, which include Entertainer of the Year, 1998 and 1999, and ’97 TNN/Music City News Country Awards; Video of the Year “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” ACM/Home Depot Humanitarian Award 2005; three platinum albums and one gold album.
His albums include At This Moment, Where Forever Begins, No Doubt About It, You Gotta Love That, Neal McCoy, Greatest Hits, Be Good At It, The Life Of The Party, 24/7 365, and That’s Life.
His influences are Charley Pride, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson.
McCoy got his start as an opening act for Charley Pride, soon earning his own slot on the show.
“Charley was so good on stage, making people feel relaxed,” McCoy recalls. “And offstage, he was still the same guy, very approachable. I tried to learn that from him.”
Performing really makes McCoy’s day.
“When the audience is really into it, it just doesn’t get any better. On stage is where I belong,” McCoy said.
Also coming Friday, Jan. 18, to Gater’s is six-time Grammy award winner Asleep at the Wheel. This group has played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville numerous times, Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid, CMA Awards, State Fair of Texas, CMT and GAC.
Rock n’ roll legends Bad Company will be performing at Gater’s pre-Super Bowl XLII bash Saturday, Feb. 2.
Tickets are on sale now at Gater’s, Rowan’s Western Wear in Mabank, Lone Star Wear in Athens and Corsicana, or call Gater’s to reserve your tickets by credit card at (903) 880-9960.


IRS refund delays expected
Monitor Staff Reports
WASHINGTON–January income tax filers, who use one of five tax forms, will have to wait till February before their tax returns can be processed.
According to the IRS, the delay will most likely affect 3 million to 4 million taxpayers.
Everyone else’s return will be processed in the usual, timely way, according to a statement released Dec. 27.
The potential delay was caused by the legislature enacting changes in the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
The IRS has targeted Feb. 11 as the potential starting date for processing returns which include forms:
• 8863 – Education Credits
• 5695 – Residential Energy Credits,
• 1040A’s Schedule 2 – Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A filers,
• 8396 – Mortgage Interest Credit,
• 8859 – District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit.
These five forms require significant additional reprogramming. The February date allows the IRS time to update and test its systems to accommodate the changes without major disruptions to other operations related to tax season.
Congress was informed it would take about seven weeks to update IRS processing systems completely.
“We regret the inconvenience the delay will mean for millions of early tax filers, especially those expecting a refund,” Acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff said. “We’re taking extraordinary steps to figure out a way that we can start the filing season on time for most taxpayers, including some using AMT-related forms.”
She reminds taxpayers that printed tax packages, which will begin arriving in the mail this week, went to the printer in November before the AMT changes were enacted.
Taxpayers using those forms are urged to submit their tax returns electronically after Feb. 11; similarly, paper filers should also wait until Feb. 11 to file their returns. All other tax returns will be accepted in January.
“E-file is a great option for everyone, especially if they are affected by the AMT,” IRS Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support Richard Spires said. “Filing electronically will get people their refunds faster, and e-file greatly reduces the chances for making an error on the AMT or other tax issues.”
E-filers are cautioned to update their tax software in order to get the latest AMT updates. Updated forms are also available at
The IRS is working closely with tax professionals and tax preparation software community to make sure they can help taxpayers with all of the latest developments on the enactment of the AMT patch and other tax changes.
Taxpayers with $54,000 or less in adjusted gross income can use Free File to electronically file their returns for free. It is only available by visiting the official IRS web site at
It is estimated 90 million taxpayers qualify for this free service.
The alternative minimum tax began in 1969, as a means to target 155 very wealthy families who used deductions to avoid paying any federal income tax.
The AMT disallows certain deductions and credits. However, it was not adjusted for inflation and as a result, it has hit a growing number of middle-income taxpayers.
More than 4 million were subject to it in 2006. Without the congressional fix, more than 20 million families would have been faced with an extra $2,000 tax hit.