Thursday, February 15, 2007

     

 

 

McGrath feted with reception
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–An informal retirement party was hosted for outgoing city administrator Corrin McGrath just prior to the Gun Barrel City Council meeting Tuesday.
“Farewell to you,” city building official John Mosley said after McGrath announced Jan. 23 he was stepping down.
“I enjoyed working with you, and thank you for your guidance and encouragement. I will miss you,” Mosley said.
McGrath and council members agreed to an amiable separation – McGrath tendered his resignation and the city granted him five months’ pay and all accrued sick leave and vacation time.
Though McGrath’s employment contract stipulates 10 months’ pay should he be terminated by the council, and nothing should he choose to leave voluntarily, it was thought the compromise of half the contract and a resignation was a good move for the city, Councilwoman Kathy Cochran explained to The Monitor.
McGrath said he was tired and ready to pass the torch onto the next administrator.
“This job requires integrity, imagination, will power and a great deal of energy,” McGrath told the council.
McGrath was hired in July, 2002, to replace E.H. “Bud” Henry, when Marge Puck was mayor.
He came to the city with 30 years of managerial experience, including being the city administrator for Electra, where he served for two years.
During McGrath’s tenure in Gun Barrel City:
• Street repairs dominated budget discussions in 2003-07.
• Lowe’s opened in 2004, greatly changing the city’s budget with an infusion of about a half a million dollars in sales tax funds that first year.
• The city contended with Eustace, Mabank and Seven Points over its city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction. The end result was Tom Finley Park and boat ramp was added to the city’s jurisdiction.
• The Richport Commons development, which had been considered officially dead, was resurrected and renamed Heritage Cove under developer Ken Landers.
“I feel Mr. McGrath brought some positive changes to the city in way of professionalism and employee support through a strong chain of command,” Mosley said.
“He is one of the few city managers I’ve worked for who asked and valued the opinions of city workers,” he added.
“On a personal note, Mr. McGrath has served as a father figure and a friend when it came to (employee’s) personal problems,” Mosley said. “I appreciated that.”
McGrath plans to work as a consultant for cities who need a temporary city manager through a private firm.
He said Tuesday he plans to remain in Gun Barrel City, because of its central location.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Gun Barrel City employees said “fare thee well” to
city administrator Corrin McGrath at a retirement
reception Tuesday.


Council approves Heritage Cove plat
Mayor breaks 2-2 split

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The developer of Heritage Cove won final plat approval for the 43-acre development between Harbor Point Road and Main Street.
Gun Barrel City Council members split 2-2 on approving the plat at Tuesday’s regular session, with Mayor Paul Eaton breaking the tie in favor.
At issue was the lack of drainage being specifically addressed on the plat, and also the absence of an east-west egress road into the development.
Developer Ken Landers said the city informed him that a right-of-way was available for the east-west road, which in fact was not the case.
Landers, however, maintained a secondary egress is available to emergency vehicles behind the yet-to-be-built eight-screen movie theater.
Travis Tarlton says he owns a 50-foot easement along the development’s north edge, and built a private road on the easement years ago to reach a pasture he leases from Don Anderson.
Landers said Anderson owns the right-of-way, and is too sick to execute any documents at this time.
“We made the effort in good faith to provide an egress, and were prevented,” Landers said.
Councilwoman Patsy Black pointed out that the lack of an east-west road puts the project out of compliance with its performance agreement, and also goes against a previous ruling by the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Without the east-west road, the city is not getting compensation for the 4.2 acres of land it (through the Economic Development Corporation) gave to Landers in return for that road, Black (a former EDC board member) pointed out.
Councilwoman Kathy Cochran said she needed more information to approve the plat, and abstained from the vote.
According to the city charter, an abstention without a clear conflict of interest counts as a “no” vote, city secretary Christy Eckerman told the council.
Councilmen Marty Goss said Landers has lived up to the contract in good faith, and the plat should be approved.
“Every step has been followed correctly. The only people who have a problem with this project are the ones who resigned from the EDC,” he added.
Landers spokesman Curtis Webster pointed out the city runs on sales tax revenue, and what Landers has developed has the potential to significantly increase sales tax revenues.
“The city is getting a great return on its investment. This project is A-plus for the city,” Webster said. “Any council member who overrides its own P&Z Commission doesn’t need a P&Z.”
“This project is moving in the right direction, and to discourage or cast any hinderance for it to go forward would be wrong,” Eaton said.
In other business, the council:
• appointed Richard Wendel to the Economic Development Corporation.
• adjusted wrecker and towing service regulations.
• agreed to name one person each to a search committee to replace city manager Corrin McGrath.
Cochran suggested naming Eckerman as interim city manager, due to her long experience and knowledge of the city.
“All the department heads support Christy Eckerman as interim manager,” treasurer Mickie Raney told the council.

The 19th annual banquet honors MVD firefighters
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–About 130 people helped the Mabank Fire Department mark its 19th year with a banquet to honor both the firefighters and their many supporters.
The award banquet was held at the First Baptist Church of Mabank Saturday with a catfish dinner served up by the Catfish Corner in Seven Points.
Lavish recognition was bestowed on individuals and businesses who have been faithful supporters of the department.
These include the City of Mabank, Par 5 Acres, Cedar Creek Domino Club, Fat Boy BBQ, the MFD Auxiliary, Teague Enterprises, Dallas Eye Care, Clay Structures, First State Bank branches, Citizens State Bank, Fortenberry Pipe & Supply, and Circle M Trailers.
Also, Tri-County Ford, Bell Cleaners, M&M Food Mart #2, Germania Insurance, Mabank Mini Storage, Groom and Sons Hardware, Light House Landing, Lone Star Trusses, Teague Chevrolet, Colortyme Rental, Texas T Shirts & Embroidery, Mabank Animal Clinic, Story Electric, Mabank Feed Store, Justin Custom Homes, Moseley Groom & Assoc. Insurance.
And then there’s David Nowell Title Co., Mabank Nursing Home, Mabank Pharmacy CVS Pharmacy, Mabank Napa, Canton Lumber Co., and Solar Turbines.
And then again, Eubank Cedar Creek Funeral Home, Brookshire’s, Rowan’s Western Wear, Day Tire, Neighborhood Sanitation, Trinity Valley Electric Co. Charter Builders Hydrangea House, Hometown Carwash, Mabank EDC, Buds & Blooms Florist Captain B’s Florist, EZ Signs, Northland Cable Co.,
And finally, East Texas EMS, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, Sunshine Auto Parts, Southside Village Apartments, Bonsal Real Estate, Tim Johnson Homes, Techsys Tractors, and Southside Bank.
As in years past, the Department Service Awards highlighted the evening with speeches, funny anecdotes and applause.
Those honored for 15 years of service were firefighters Jason Neighbors and Jeff McKenzie, chaplain Don Teague, and fire marshal John Holcomb.
Safety officer Michael Rowan was recognized for 20 years of service and fire chief Ricky Myrick received a decorative fireman’s ax to mark 30 years of service.
The biggest awards went to two “big” men.
Dameon Milton was recognized for responding to the largest number of calls with 165 responses last year. Followed by Paul Hightower with 161, Donald Gordon - 159, Daryl West - 141 and Jim McKee - 138.
The Mabank Fire Department responded to a total of 627 calls, 85 of those car accidents and 299 emergency medical service calls.
The department put out 42 structure fires, 121 grass fires and 12 car fires. Another 18 calls were for smoke investigation and 50 miscellaneous calls.
The second “big” man and “big awardee” of the evening was Mat Ewaskiw.
Ewaskiw was named Firefighter of the Year by his fellow firefighters, and the MVD Auxiliary named him “Supporter of the Year.”
At the end of 2007 Ewaskiw will have served five years with the Mabank Fire Department.
With the Ewaskiws, as many others, firefighting is a family affair. His mother Jean Ewaskiw made the MVD cake for the celebration and his wife Angie rolls up her sleeves for every fund-raising event for the department. The pair are rearing their 9-month-old son Mike Owen early to think of the fire department as family.

Courtesy Photo
Those honored during the 19th annual Mabank Firefighters Award
Banquet Saturday were (standing from left) Jim McKee, Mike Bass,
Andy Jeffers, Donald Gordon, Jeff McKenzie, Jason Neighbors,
Dennis Youngblood, Johnny Adams, Randy Munden, Daryl Landrum,
Dameon Milton, John Holcomb and Paul Hightower; (sitting from left)
Cody Myrick, Lupe Garza, David Owens, Michael Rowan, Chief Ricky
Myrick (with ax), Kyle McAfee, chaplain Don Teague and Mat Ewaskiw.



$1.6 million in cocaine seized on I-20
Monitor Staff Reports
LINDALE–Authorities found 143 pounds of pure cocaine hidden in four television sets in the back of a truck and U-Haul trailer on Interstate 20 near Lindale Sunday.
The drugs were packed in small bundles, muffled with diapers inside the sets, then taped closed and spray-painted.
Smith County deputy constable Mark Waters initiated a traffic stop of the 2004 Chevrolet pickup after seeing several traffic violations.
During the stop, he noticed a 25-inch television which looked suspicious, and called for backup.
The driver, Orlando A. Devis, 35, of Avondale, Ariz., acted calmly throughout the encounter.
“The subject was confident because of the concealment method,” Waters reported in Tuesday’s edition of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “Someone went through a large production to conceal the drugs.”
Authorities believe Devis is a courier for an East Coast drug cartel.
In its pure form, the cocaine’s estimated value is $1.6 million. When processed, officials said the street value would mount to $6.5 million.
“This is a large bust that was just a cold stop, and not something we received a tip on,” Waters said.
It’s what the Interstate Criminal Enforcement Unit is all about.
“We look for drugs, guns, currency, stolen property and criminals,” Waters said.
Since beginning the drug interdiction program five years ago, Waters said he has made several hundred drug busts on the interstate, but Sunday’s bust was the largest cold bust of his career.