Thursday, January 15, 2009






  Bills top $1 million mark
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners joked about the need to install a defibrillator in county court, while waiting for Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West to make his motion to approve paying nearly a million dollars in bills, Tuesday.
Payment included two bond payments totaling $240,000 and $220,000, an annual insurance premium of $267,000 and a quarterly appraisal district fee of $108,000, County Judge David Holstein explained.
“We’re on the home stretch. One of the bonds retires this year, and the second one finishes in 2010,” he said.
And those were just the current bills from the 2009 budget. Commissioners also approved payment of $110,739.60, an amount that they reduced by $157,937 from the 2008 budget.
The objectionable bill was from Templeton Construction and included payment for $44,000 worth of work that assistant chief Kevin Hanes says is not completed. That amount was for a change order for the property room and $21,000 for the redone duct work, Hanes said.
Last week, commissioners had approved a budget amendment in order to pay the expected bill.
“I don’t feel we should be paying for work that isn’t finished,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said, with the other commissioners agreeing.
“If it’s within our legal right, I think we need to pull that bill,” he said.
A construction meeting publicized for 2 p.m. Thursday (today) was also called into question, due to an e-mail received Tuesday morning from Templeton changing the day to Wednesday.
“We can’t do that. It’s already been posted,” Holstein said.
At that meeting, questions concerning the appearance of some serious cracks in walls, especially in the kitchen and concrete slab in the loading area. Possible remedies were to be officially discussed.
Hanes added his staff has discovered some shower drains are not draining water into the right place, either.
Conflicting messages were also received concerning the scheduled jail inspection to have taken place Wednesday.
“I was told the jail inspectors won’t be here tomorrow. My personal opinion is they’re not going to be ready,” Hanes said.
“Every delay is going to cost the county,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall said. “And you haven’t heard anything more about the cracks. I hope that construction meeting will tell us something. We’re not getting the information we’re wanting.”
In other business, commissioners:
• accepted a check for $766.04 from Malakoff ISD for road materials.
• accepted a check from the Athens Economic Development Corporation for $5,790 and authorized a 50 percent tax rebate to Square D Company per a 2005 agreement lasting five years. The rebate amounts to $35,790.
Herbert Gatlin of the AEDC said the company has fulfilled its agreement to employ at least 50 employees throughout the year and generates in about $365,000 annually in taxes.
“They employ 106 people,” Gatlin said. “It behooves us in these hard economic times to do what can be done to protect our job base.”
• set a public hearing on speed limits for certain roads in Cherokee Shores. The hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3.
• announced its intention to appoint members to the County Fair Park Board Tuesday, Jan. 27.
• approved a contract for the Regional Juvenile Detention Project, a renewal of last year’s agreement and grant of $3,940 after budgeted amounts have been used up.
• approved contracts with Tyler Technologies that will save the county $9,000.

Council denies de-annexation request
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–Eustace city council members denied a second request from Marla Dee Stegall Swann for de-annexation Jan. 6.
This time, the council added a letter explaining her options on receiving city water services and a possible undesirable result of de-annexation.
The property owners at the end of County Road 2917, along with other houses in that area, requested annexation in 2003 with the stipulation that they not be included in the city’s water service. (Swann presently uses her own well, the council understands.)
However that stipulation wasn’t put into writing, city secretary Drucilla Haynes explained.
Back then, the property was owned by Swann’s father, who has since died, with the estate passing to his daughter.
“I don’t think she realizes that if she is de-annexed, Gun Barrel City could annex her into their city without her say-so,” councilman Chuck Powers said.
If her reason for wanting out of the city was the lack of water service, that can be easily remedied, utility supervisor Tom Acker said.
“There’s just 500 feet from her property to the end of the water system,” he said, adding that line could be extended fairly easily.
But, if the city pays to extend the line just for her, Swann has to pay for minimal water service whether she uses it or not, Haynes explained.
The price of extending the system 500 feet or so would likely be around $2,000, Acker said, adding he could get a certain figure to council members later.
In other business, council members:
• heard Eustace postmaster Evelyn Heinrich strongly encourage the council to take advantage of an upcoming trip to Austin being planned by the Greater Cedar Creek Lake Chamber of Commerce to meet with state legislators.
Several members expressed interest and Mayor Laura Ward said she planned to attend.
Heinrich, who is also the chamber board secretary, added the chamber is seeking $200 from area cities to help defray the cost.
Since the agenda item was listed for action, Powers took a straw poll to see who was willing for the mayor to use her discretionary spending powers to grant the request.
She is allowed to spend up to $500, Powers noted. All showed they favored giving the requested support.
• heard the police department will likely be ready to move into the renovated community center before the end of the month. All were commended on their work to ready the space.
• set public hearing dates for amending an ordinance that would restrict parking along U.S. Highway 175, providing a penalty for violation and also for an ordinance restricting the use of the engine brake, typically used by big semi-truck cabs, within the city limits, to include penalty, savings clause and effective date.
Public hearings are set for 6:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 26 and Thursday, Feb. 5 at city hall.
• heard plans for training an animal control officer were underway.
• heard councilwoman Lisa Roberts deplore a negative website operated by the wife of one of the council members.

Officers seize dope, guns, cash
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Henderson County officers seized methamphetamine, weapons and cash after executing a search warrant Monday in the Oak Harbor subdivision in Gun Barrel City.
Danny Wayne Moss, 23, was arrested at his residence and transported to the Henderson County Jail, charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, more than four grams and less than 200 grams, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Shortly after noon Tuesday, Moss was still in the process of being arraigned, and bond had not been set on the charges.
Drug Enforcement Unit investigators Kenneth Collard and Ronny Halbert, assisted by sheriff’s office investigators Wick Gabbard, Michael Shelley, David Faught and Michael Teel, along with Capt. Kay Langford, Sgt. Mitch Baker and Sheriff Ray Nutt, joined by Gun Barrel City Police Chief Damon Boswell, executed the warrant issued by Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace Milton Adams.
Officers seized approximately 12 grams of suspected methamphetamine, along with a handgun and a shotgun, and $1,020 in cash, according to a news release issued by Nutt.

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