Thursday, January 18, 2007



  Main break drains water towers
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–A break in a water main crossing Persimmon Creek near Jess Hinton Road in Seven Points overnight Sunday left nearly all West Cedar Creek utility customers without water or with very low pressure Monday morning.
Utility workers searched feverishly for the break – locating it only after hours of searching during rainy and cold conditions.
“The leak wasn’t found until one or two o’clock (Monday),” West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District spokeswoman Wanda Sanders told The Monitor.
Within an hour, workers had repaired the break, and water supplies were being restored, she said.
The break drained both of the district’s elevated water towers, affecting every customer, Sanders added.
Tuesday afternoon, the district was still pumping water into its storage towers.
“How fast we can refill depends on how sparingly customers can be in their use of water,” she said.
Water restrictions and surcharges are still in place, she added.
“We’re encouraging everyone to continue conserving water. The lake level is still below normal, and we don’t know if we’ll have another rain like this one,” she cautioned.
Preliminary reports attribute the break to the heavy rains and moving creek water washing out the ground supporting the pipe, and not due to the plunging temperatures.
Sanders reports there will be some financial consequences of the break, but didn’t think those consequences would be enough for the customer to notice.

Flood danger closes SH334
Roadside pond springs a leak
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–A crumbling dam leaking water from a private pond on the south side of State Highway 334 caused Seven Points city officials to close a section of the roadway Monday night and most of Tuesday.
Traffic in both directions was rerouted along a three-mile circuit from the bridges – to south on Arnold Hills Road, west on Waller Road and then back north on Wood Street – for drivers to continue on the main street through the city, or vis-a-vis for drivers from the opposite direction.
The heavy rain over the weekend (the Tarrant Regional Water District office at the lake spillway measured 5.46 inches) swelled the huge, long-established pond, placing enough pressure to compromise the dam on its north side.
Residents of Knob Hill, believed to be in the path of the water should the dam be breached, were alerted by Seven Points police officers to the possibility.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) sent a crew out to relieve the pressure on the dam Tuesday.
Mayor Gerald Taylor said he expected the road to be reopened by the time most people were returning home from work Tuesday.
“This was a precautionary measure to prevent anyone from being swept away, should the dam break all at once,” Taylor told The Monitor.
Police Chief Wayne Nutt got in contact with the out-of-town owner of the stock pond to inform and provide some options and gain permission to relieve the pressure.
Authorities were first made aware of the leak around 10 a.m. Monday. It was monitored throughout the day before the decision was made around 6 p.m. to close that portion of the road.

This pond whose northside fronts the highway has swelled
posing a threat of flooding Monday. The Tarrant Regional
Water District office recorded 5.46 inches of rain over
the weekend at the Cedar Creek Lake spillway.

County orders elevator repair
Commissioners OK manufacturing part for $42K
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–In a special meeting last Thursday, Henderson County Commissioners ordered repairs to the courthouse elevator.
Commissioners bypassed the bid process for the $42,159 expenditure by declaring an exemption under the Local Government Code.
AVL Elevator Inc of Dallas, with whom the county has a service contract, was given the go-ahead to construct a componenet to replace an obsolete driver.
Obsolete parts are specifically excluded from the service contract, Judge David Holstein pointed out.
“The likelihood of getting the parts to repair it are slim,” he added.
So, commissioners opted for the alternative, which is to repair the system with a more updated piece of equipment. Doing so requires the part be manufactured.
Usually, such a high-priced repair would be put out for bid, but the law also allows the county to act in the interest of public safety and well-being.
A check covering the first 25 percent of the total cost was issued to get the work started.
The county hopes the elevator will be back in service in 30 days.
In the meantime, courthouse personnel are assisting the public by either fetching the paperwork they may require from another floor, or carrying the disabled upstairs to their court appointments.
Holstein said those requiring elevator service may call his office and arrangements will be made for them to get done what they need done at the courthouse.

Commissioners approve first request for utility installation
By Mary Landrie
Monitor Correspondent

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners authorized Judge David Holstein to sign an agreement with Monarch Utilities during the first Tuesday meeting.
Monarch submitted a request to install utility lines in county right-of-way near the Beachwood Estates subdivision, next to the Cedar Creek Lake spillway.
The action was the first time the full court had authorized the placement of utility lines.
In December, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney (who was not present) and Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall had asked to establish a formal approval process for utility lines being placed in county right-of-way, using a standard set of guidelines.
Hall said the guidelines were not completely set, but the agreement with Monarch Utilities would work. Those guidelines called for the utility to bore and encase all lines going under county roads, and to bury all lines at least 36 inches deep.
Hall said Monarch Utilities planned to bury four-inch water lines five feet deep, and six-inch sewer lines 11 feet deep.
In other business, the commissioners:
•named Jimmy Reynolds (the current board president) and Richard. L. Smith to the Henderson County Emergency Service District No. 2 board of directors in Payne Springs .
•appointed three members and five alternates to the County Grievance Committee. County Judge David Holstein drew the names of former grand jury members from a basket.
Thomas Robinson of Chandler, Vicki Nobles of Gun Barrel City and Charlie Hughes of Athens were selected as members.
Kenneth Webster of Athens, Dawn Dunn of Athens, Charles Jenkins of Athens, W.D. “Dee” Warren of Athens, and Kenneth Mason of Chandler were named as alternates.
• ratified a lease agreement dating back to March 3, 1976, between Henderson County and the Upper Neches River Municipal Authority. This will allow repairs to be made to a public boat launch facility.
• approved surety bonds for county officials in amounts ranging from $500 to $100,000.
• heard the walls on the new expansion of the county jail will start to go up this week. The project is on schedule and on budget, commissioners heard.
• approved payroll changes.
• paid fiscal year 2006 bills totaling $116,845.67, and fiscal year 2007 bills totaling $26,591.41.

Holstein, West to keep seats
Both reappointed to Economic Development Board
By Mary Landrie
Monitor Correspondent

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners chose to reappoint County Judge David Holstein and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West to the East Texas Economic Development District’s Board of Directors Tuesday.
The district covers eight counties and allots two seats to Henderson County.
The ETEDD promotes increasing employment opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed, as well as assisting and coordinating economic development planning.
Both Holstein and West have served on the board for more than five years.
In other business, commissioners:
• continued an interlocal agreement with the Andrews Center and approved $2,500 per month payments to the center, which provides mental health services.
• transferred a lease agreement between the Upper Neches River Municipal Water Authority and the county to the city of Chandler.
The 3.17 acres of land outside of Chandler was annexed into the city to allow for police surveillance and city upkeep of the land.
The boat ramp will remain open to the public.
• heard that the jail expansion project is three and a half weeks ahead of schedule; however, delivery of materials has slowed, due to weather conditions.
• received financial reports.
• approved replat of lots 45 and 46 of Champion Ranch into one 10-acre tract to be named 45R.
• tabled two contracts for further review.
• paid bills totaling $183,966.43 for fiscal year 2006 and $265,014.92 for FY 2007.
The court noted court-appointed attorney costs came in almost $7,000 over its $650,000 budget allotment.
Also, $255,000 of the 2007 payments were for annual insurance premiums.