Sunday, February 28, 2010




  Utility break-in
Burglars vandalize ECCFWSD Welch Lane office
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Water customers were turned away from East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District Thursday morning.
ECCdrive.jpg (106908 bytes)Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Police block off the drive-thru and parking lot at the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District office Thursday morning, while they collect evidence that might lead them to the ones who broke into the office overnight. At presstime, a list of what was taken was not yet available. However, the office contained one day’s worth of payments from customers.

The office was broken into overnight, and a unspecified amount of cash was taken.
General manager Bill Goheen was reported none of the district’s computer systems were compromised, and no customers are at risk of identity theft as a result of the incident.ECChole.jpg (69711 bytes)

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Investigators believe burglars cut this hole to enter the ECCFWSD metal building from the back.

However, the largest expense was the extensive damage done to the building itself.
Police blocked off the drive-thru and parking lot while they conducted an investigation.
The alarm didn’t signal, because power and phone lines were cut.
Broken glass from the lights above the drive-thru also littered the ground.
Goheen had arrived at the Welch Lane office to catch up on work he missed while in Corpus Christi attending a conference.
“It was my first day back. But, I doubt I’ll get much work done today,” he told The Monitor. He and other office staff arriving for work were left waiting outside in the cold, while police did their work inside.
However, by 1 p.m., the office opened for business.
“I want to thank the Gun Barrel City police and fire departments for conducting a thorough investigation of this incident,” Goheen said.
The burglars got in through a hole they cut in the corrugated metal wall at the rear of the building. It looked like they squeezed in between a water heater and a built-in table.
However, they took a different exit, shattering a window in the conference room on the back wall.
No computers seemed to have been taken, Goheen reported.
Stored overnight were the monies collected from the day before, office manager Angie Crowsley said. The amount was unknown.
Crowsley was the first one to unlock the door Thursday morning and saw that the office had been trashed.
She called 9-1-1, and several officers from the Gun Barrel Police Department were dispatched to the scene.
The office doesn’t have security cameras installed, but cameras are in the FY 2010 budget, Goheen said.
Board president David Burch was also notified and surveyed the damage to the outside of the building Thursday morning.
If anyone has information related to the break-in at the ECCFWSD office Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, please call the Gun Barrel City Police Department at (903) 887-7151. When the recording starts, select option 1.

Cross country wagon trip passes through Malakoff
Couple enjoy open road with none of the hassles
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–The American Spirit came riding through Malakoff earlier this month, pulled by a pair of draft horses named Doc and Bob.
A couple from Mays, Ind., are making their third trip across the country.
Bob Skelding, 50, along with his girlfriend Denise Jacobs, 45, were passing through Henderson County in their horse-drawn wagon. They’ve been traveling since November, 2009.
Wagonmaster.jpg (200708 bytes)
Monitor Photo/Michael Hannigan
Wagon teamster Bob Skelding and his two draft horses, Doc and Bob, are seen traveling State Highway 31 through Malakoff Feb. 12. Now on his third cross-country trip, Skelding is making his way north from Austin up the west side of the Continental Divide to South Pass, where he will turn east and make his way back to Mays, Ind.

Skelding met Jacobs in Michigan during his second cross-country trip last August.
The current trip is broken into four general legs:
1. Indiana south to Austin,
2. from Austin north to the west side of the Continental Divide,
3. North up the west side of the Rockies and
4. East from South Pass back to Indiana.
His first run went from Deerfield, N.H., to Meridian, Miss., a trip that took him from August, 2008, to February, 2009.
The second trip was from Mays, Ind., to Michigan and back, and took from August to September, 2009.
Skelding isn’t trying to prove anything with his traveling. “The sole purpose of this trip is to travel by horse and wagon and meet people,” he explained.
“I want them to share their experiences with me, and I’ll share mine with them,” he wrote on his website,  
“I’m not supporting any cause, trying to achieve a goal, nor am I sponsored by anyone,” he wrote. “The reason I’m traveling in this fashion is because it combines all the things I like best, and eliminates those I like least. Also, I can’t think of a cooler thing to do.”
But in true American Spirit fashion, Skelding has become a reminder of what has historically made this country strong.
“I’ve met a lot of people up close on this trip, and the ones who are normally the happiest, and have the most fulfilled lives are those who place their family and friends above comfort and material things,” he wrote.
While traveling, all the material things for the couple are in a wagon 7.5 feet wide and 16 feet long that Skelding built from scratch on a six-ton running gear.
“Since it’s my home, I designed it as one,” wrote Skelding.
“It contains most of the modern conveniences we take for granted in our homes; including a full-size bed, a bathroom with shower and commode, a kitchen area with stove, refrigerator and sink, and a small kitchen table.
“It has 12-volt and 120-volt power, hot and cold water and propane for cooking and heating,” he added. “It also is made to support and care for the three horses.”
This wagon is his second. The first was destroyed in an accident in February, 2009, when he was rear-ended by a fully loaded tanker truck.
He lost two horses in that accident and was badly injured himself.
Skelding put his down time after the accident to good use, writing his experiences in “Wagonteamster: Horse and Wagon Journey Through America’s Heartland.”
The book can be purchased by sending $17.95 (which includes postage) to: Lisa Skelding (his daughter), 4555 Vandever Ave., Apt. 16B, San Diego, Calif. 92120. Skelding is also a prolific blogger, and you can follow his progress on his website,


WCCMUD OKs $1.2M plant upgrade
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–After receiving an unqualified opinion on its fiscal year (FY) 2009 audit, West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District directors gave the green light to a $1.2 million upgrade at the Tolosa Water Treatment Plant.
The prep work will take about six months before the project’s ready to “turn dirt,” district manager Tony Ciardo said.
The district managed to come out slightly better than last year, despite the country’s economic downturn and rising prices, auditor J.W. Lambright said.
In FY 2009, the district paid off its last bond payment, saw an increase in revenues of $55,000, acquired acreage and did a “super” job at inventory control, Lambright highlighted.
“I want to congratulate Kenneth Wright on the great inventory control,” Ciardo said.
The bulk of the district’s FY ’09 expenses were for upgrades, bulk water purchases and maintenance, Lambright added.
The district is in a “very strong financial position,” Lambright told board members at Monday’s regular board meeting.
That’s good, Ciardo said, because the time has come to build out the plans on the Tolosa plant.
Ciardo outlined the history of the plant, and its current pressing need for a major upgrade.
“It’s imperative that we install another clarifier,” he said. “It’s gone. The original one doesn’t have enough metal left to repair.”
Ciardo proposed replacing the 1.5 million gallon/day (mg/d) unit with a 4.0 mg/d Trident combined clarifier and filter unit.
The plant was designed to add a second unit, Ciardo pointed out.
Once it is installed, the old one can be taken down and removed, leaving room for another clarifier sometime in the future, he said.
Directors also heard the status of the Tool treatment plant.
“The Tool plant is limited in serving the north area due to geographic location,” Ciardo explained. “We’ve experienced growth in the north, specifically the Lively area.”
He told directors that currently the Tolosa water plant is able to supply the entire system.
In addition, the intake valve at Tolosa is able to operate even when the lake is 10 feet low, where as the intake at Tool has problems when the lake is only a little low, he said.
“I’d like to see us replace that valve, too, in the near future,” Ciardo added.
At the top of his priority list is to install a pre-sedimentary tank, estimated on the high side at $293,000. This addition would greatly assist the district in affecting the color of the water with the addition of alum, he said.
“We’ve had lots of complaints about the color (of the water), though there’s nothing wrong with it,” Ciardo said.
His shopping list for the Tolosa plant also includes:
• a new raw water pump ($7,000),
• a Trident clarifier ($450,000),
• a transfer pump ($3,000),
• a spare pump ($14,000),
• booster pumping ($18,000),
• ground storage tank, holding 500,000 gallons,
• a chemical feed pump ($6,000) and
• electrical connections to tie it all together ($45,000).
The estimated total cost is $1.2 million, Ciardo said.
“Considering we build the entire Tolosa water plant in 1999 for $1.2 million, it gives you something to think about,” he told the directors.
Engineer Kenneth Tillman, of Espey Consultants, Inc in Dallas, will handle the engineering, with the district acting as its own general contractor, Ciardo said.
The project is pretty much predesigned, so getting the plans to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval shouldn’t take too long. That and the bid process should take about six months, Ciardo estimated.
“It is much needed,” board president Clifton Smith said.



Copyright 2010, MediaOne, L.L.C.