People, Places & Events



  Grass fires on the rise in VZC
Commissioners approve burn ban
By Terry Britt
Monitor Staff Writer

CANTON–Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said it all with a pair of numbers — 36 and nine.
Allen was reporting the number of grass fires and structure fires, respectively, in the county for the first week of 2008. Van Zandt County Commissioners did not need to hear much more Tuesday before passing an outdoor burning ban for the unincorporated areas.
The ban is effective immediately, with certain exceptions for public utility companies and professional welders at a job site. Allen said citations would be issued to ban violators this weekend.
“Of the 29 calls I’ve gone out to in the past week, nearly all of them were due to negligence – somebody burning trash or brush and walking away – or someone shooting fireworks,” Allen told commissioners.
He also reported support for the ban from all volunteer fire departments in the county. Van Zandt County joins neighboring Hunt and Kaufman counties and 128 others throughout Texas in enacting such a ban.
“Some people are still going to burn, but we hope this (ban) can help prevent more of these fires,” Allen said. “I don’t want a burn ban any more than a lot of these property owners, but you’ve got people who can burn right and you’ve got people who can’t.”
Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches said the court would review outdoor vegetation and weather conditions at each upcoming meeting to consider whether the ban should remain in effect.
Allen said the sporadic rainfall in the area over the past three months has been more of a hindrance than a help to local firefighters.
“We’ve been dispatching tow trucks to some of these fires because of fire trucks getting stuck in mud,” he explained.
Under county law, burn ban violators can be issued a Class C misdemeanor citation carrying a fine of up to $500, Allen said.
Civil liabilities can be the result if an out-of-control fire which destroys or damages other people’s property, he added.
“If a person knowingly sets a fire while there is an outdoor burn ban in effect, the charges could go up to criminal mischief or arson,” Allen said.
In other business, commissioners:
• accepted a bid of $6,840.97 for two tracts of land owned jointly by the county, City of Wills Point and Wills Point ISD. Those entities became owners of the property after a foreclosure sale conducted by the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, and the bid amount was well more than the $1,070 judgment against the property.
• accepted a fiscal year 2008 formula grant of $28,840 from the Task Force on Indigent Defense.
• authorized the Van Zandt County Historical Commission to create and maintain a website with a link to and from the county’s website.
• ratified a previously accepted bid for a dump truck for Precinct 2 from Price International in Tyler. Confusion about two competing bids on the truck specifications resulted in one of those being lower than the Price International bid of $59,800. However, Precinct 2 Commissioner Virgil Melton Jr. said a far shorter delivery time and a better value package kept the Price International bid as the best of the three.
• approved a $300 budget amendment for the county fire marshal’s office to cover an unforeseen travel expense.


Pursuing a dream to be nurses after helping others
Special to The Monitor
KAUFMAN–Dianna Roberts’ father was in hospice in 1997.
She was so impressed with the care he received that Dianna went to work for the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Kaufman County.
She has been a home health aide there for nearly five years, providing in-home care to the frail elderly and disabled in a three-county area.
She enjoys working with patients so much that she thought about going to college to become a nurse.
She hadn’t been in a classroom since 1997, when she graduated from Scurry-Rosser High School.
It was a big step entering college 10 years later. A lot had happened in her life since then, including raising two sons.
Coincidently, two of her co-workers at VNA of Kaufman County were having similar thoughts about enrolling in college to become nurses.
LeAnn Perkins had grown up in Kaufman. As a high school senior preparing to graduate in 1979, LeAnn began looking for a job and found one as a file clerk with VNA of Kaufman County.
During her nearly 29 years there, she’s been a home health aide scheduler, medical records secretary, professional service clerk, office manager, junior secretary, and medical records coordinator.
Another one of Roberts co-workers, Lynn Warren, has been a home health aide since 2000.
Most of her patients live in Ellis County. Lynn grew up in Rosser and following graduation from high school in 1984, she went to work in a nursing home. Lynn came to VNA of Kaufman County after calling to enquire if there were any job openings there.
Although the three women find their present work fulfilling, they decided that nursing was the next step in their careers and for personal fulfillment, as well.
With some trepidation, they took the plunge in fall 2007 and enrolled in their first class – Microcomputer Applications – at the Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) campus in Terrell.
One of their worries was that they would feel out of place among younger students.
That concern was quickly put to rest the first day of class when they discovered that the ages of their classmates were quite diverse.
“I pictured college to be like high school, where everybody was pretty much the same young age,” Roberts recalls.
“College, though, is a lot different,” she notes. “There are many like us, who went to work right after high school, started families, and then years later decided to pursue a college degree.”
Stepping into a college classroom for the first time was a little daunting for the three co-workers, but they felt good about completing their first class and are happy with their decision to pursue a nursing degree.
They believe that the extra work is worth it for their future and feel that nursing is the right profession for them.
Roberts, Perkins and Warren have enrolled in Human Anatomy and Physiology I, and General Psychology for the spring 2008 semester at TVCC.
They plan to graduate with associate degrees in nursing in 2011 and take the state examination to become registered nurses.
“Graduation may seem like a long way off, but realizing a dream starts with taking that first step,” Dianna states. Her co-workers couldn’t agree more.


Grand Saline Volunteer Fire Department back on county stipend
By Terry Britt
Monitor Staff Writer

The Grand Saline Volunteer Fire Department is back on the county’s stipend payment roll – for now.
Van Zandt County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to resume the $400 payments for coverage of unincorporated areas, which the county had stopped after the creation of the Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 2 – a taxing entity.
Commissioners unanimously agreed they did not want to leave the fire department stranded for funding, while the dissolution drama surrounding the ESD plays out.
“Whatever the situation is, we need to help our fire departments,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Kelles Miller said.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Carroll agreed, adding, “I’m a big supporter of our volunteer fire departments. They do something most of us don’t want to do.”
The payments are retroactive to October, the start of the county’s fiscal year, and the money was budgeted, although Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches said she was unsure if that was “by mistake.”
Meanwhile, there is no mistaking the multisided battle surrounding the ESD, with three of its five board members actively wanting to dissolve the year-old entity and now named as defendants in a lawsuit demanding their removal from the board.
The testiness of the conflict may have been ramped up a notch on Tuesday, when Koches revealed a letter she received Monday which she labeled as a “threat” by the Grand Saline Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to stop answering calls in the unincorporated areas.
“This letter was pretty much offensive, degrading and an accusation against the county that is not true. It was not a pleasant matter,” Koches said.
After the commissioners’ decision to reinstate stipend payments, it was later revealed Dr. James B. Lea wrote the letter. He and his wife Jeanne Ann Lea are among the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit to seek removal of ESD No. 2 board members Doyle Milliorn, Joe Sutton and Mary Ann Ritchie Fisher.
Mrs. Lea apologized for any offense taken at the letter. “He (Dr. Lea) was very upset when he wrote the letter. This has been a completely stopped-dead-in-the-tracks situation for the entire community,” she said.
Koches said the ESD is required to file an annual report by Feb. 1 and added that a workshop session with ESD board members could be scheduled after that date.
In a related matter, commissioners reappointed John Teague to the ESD board and appointed Harry Clifford as a new board member. Clifford, James Lea and J.M. Bolin had all applied for the open position.


Come Adopt Us At
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake

My name is Dixie. I am a beautiful female Bassett Hound. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control so I have no history. I have been fixed and my stomach is tatooed, but my owner hasn’t called about me. I am a wonderful girl in need of a home.

My name is Honey. I am a beautiful mix breed small female. I was brought to the Shelter by someone who rescued me and my seven pups after I was rolled by a car. I broke my pelvic bone, but I am now better. I do sometimes seem to favor walking on my front two legs. I have not had the greatest life, but look forward to having a family to care for me. I seem to get along well with older dogs, but not puppies. I am a bit shy, but once I get to know you I am a good girl. I am looking for a new home.

My name is Cotton. I am a beautiful male kitten. I was brought to the Shelter and was so small I had to be bottle fed by a wonderful foster mommy. I am around 12 weeks old and have been started on my first shots and wormed. I am very playful and very affectionate kitten. I am such a good kid deserving of a wonderful family.

My name is Katie. I am a beautiful female Yellow Lab. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control. So far I seem to be very sweet. I am looking for a good home.

My name is Sox. I am a beautiful male orange and white cat. I am a very affectionate boy, I seem to get along well with others. I am a very good boy in need of a forever home. My name is Wyndell. I am a beautiful male gray Tabby mix. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. After a while, I seem to get along with others. I am a good boy looking for a good home.

My name is Zsa-Zsa. I am a beautiful 3-4 year old female Terrier mix. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control, so I have no history. Something has happened to my left eye at some point in my life. So far I seem to be very sweet and seem to get along with others. I am a beautiful girl looking for a new home. My name is Baxter. I am a beautiful male Terrier mix. I was wandering the streets and picked up by animal control. I walk on a leash, seem to be house broken and love to ride in a car. I am a wonderful young man looking for a new forever home.

Pictured are just a few animals at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points in dire need of a good home. Please call or stop by the Humane Society today and rescue one of these forgotten animals. The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is located on 10220 County Road 2403 in
Seven Points. For more information, please call (903) 432-3422 after 11 a.m.
We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

For further information visit our website at