Sunday, March 7, 2010




  Police chase down mobile drug lab
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reports

PAYNE SPRINGS–Police found a mobile drug lab in the form of a 1988 blue Ford Bronco Feb. 21.
The vehicle was carrying a 35-gallon white propane tank containing anhydrous ammonia, said Payne Springs police chief Chris Meyer.
According to the police report, the Bronco is registered to James Huddleston of 209 Grand Ave., apartment 36, in Mabank
While traveling north on State Highway 198 shortly after midnight, Payne Springs police officer Mark Boyett noticed the Bronco with its right turn signal on making a left turn onto CR 2515.
By the time Boyett had turned around and followed the Bronco, the vehicle was already halfway down the road.
Boyett had almost caught up to it, when the vehicle failed to stop before turning right onto Crawfish Ranch Road.
The driver obviously could tell the patrol officer was interested in him because he slammed on his brakes and turned into a muddy field, where the Bronco got stuck in the mud.
While Boyett called for backup and waited for Log Cabin officers to arrive, the driver must have vacated the vehicle, because when the officers got to the Bronco, no one was there.
They searched the field and were unable to locate the operator.
Upon returning to the Bronco, the officers found the 35-gallon tank with a blue valve and a hose attached to it.
The Henderson County Drug Enforcement Unit was called. Deputy Roger Cullum arrived with a thermal camera for use during a second search of the field, still without success.
County narcotics investigator David Faught determined that the tank contained anhydrous ammonia. Faught took the tank for disposal and Boyett completed an inventory of the vehicle around 3:25 a.m.
The Bronco was towed to Billy Oats Wrecker.


63 longhorn cattle seized for cruelty at Van Zandt ranch
By Donna Limberger
Monitor Staff Writer

CANTON–Feb. 26, the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas, seized 63 head of Longhorn cattle and three donkeys from a property located off Farm-to-Market 47.Longhorns.jpg (198239 bytes)

Monitor Photo/Donna Limberger
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, along with the SPCA of Texas, seized 63 longhorns and three donkeys from property off Farm-to-Market 47 Feb. 26. The animals were in very poor health, and officials also found more than 50 dead animals on the property.

In addition, dead cows were found across the property.
During a hearing before Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell Tuesday, the SPCA was awarded custody. The owner can appeal the decision.
“We counted 50 (dead animals), but there could have been more that – we just didn’t see,” Investigator Jerry Cato said. “There were dead animals in barns, in and around an abandoned house and calves that had been trampled in the mud.”
According to a statement released by the SPCA, this did not happen overnight. It took months. Many were lethargic and dangerously underweight.
The animals did not have access to food, and their water source became contaminated by dead cattle.
Cato said the sheriff’s office ran an unrelated search warrant at the property Feb. 25. Upon discovery of the animals, an SPCA of Texas investigator met officers at the property.
“We obtained a seizure warrant, and the animals were picked up by the SPCA as soon as possible,” Cato said. “The animals’ owner told us that he had been out of town and had been paying someone to take care of the animals.”
The animals were transported to the Perry Animal Care Center in McKinney.
Should the animals remain in the custody of the SPCA, they will be individually evaluated for potential adoption or placement on a case-by-case basis.
Cato said arrests are pending in the case.


July 4th concert in works
New Gun Barrel City hall layout approved
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council has decided to again use its Hotel/Motel Fund to promote the city’s annual Fourth of July Festival.
Council members agreed to earmark $30,000 for the festival during a regular meeting Feb. 23.
GBChallPlan.jpg (280069 bytes)
ABOVE: Plans to renovate and add on to former Prosperity Bank Building include a council chamber, visitor center, post office and offices for the Economic Development Corporation.
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ABOVE: Gun Barrel City hopes to transform the Harbor Point Road and Main Street corner into new city hall.
Half that amount would be set aside for radio advertising, targeting a Dallas market.
“None of the money will be spent on fireworks,” city manager Gerry Boren said. “We already set aside money for the fireworks in the (FY 2010) budget.”
City treasurer Micki Raney said she has been casting about for a big-name act to perform for the festival.
“We were thinking what can we do to make people stay in our town,” Raney said. So, staff came up with a “Concert in the Park” event, ending with a fireworks show.
“We thought we could start small and grow it into a weekend event,” she added.
Though she didn’t have anyone committed yet, Raney said she was confident of getting someone who would be a draw for the city.
“We don’t know if it’s enough, but we’re asking for it ($30,000) now until we can get more information,” Boren said.
Building a stage and equipping it for sound was also discussed, as well as charging admission.
“We gotta go big,” Boren said.
Tuesday, city staff were meeting on the progress being made on their festival plans.
Council members also approved a floor plan for the new city hall. The former bank building, across Harbor Point Road from the current offices, is to be renovated for the new city hall.
When completed, plans call for 4,588 square feet of new construction and 3,185 square feet to be renovated, for a total of 7,773 square feet of space, plus 43 parking spaces.
The new construction will enclose all of the existing bank drive-thru lanes.
Inside the square building will be a lobby, visitor center (with a room designated for a post office), a council chamber with 45 seats, two conference rooms, a map room and assorted city offices, including something called the “war room.”
The plans also include two rooms for the Economic Development Corporation, which currently leases space in a strip center across Main Street from the city hall.
The approved floor plan is in the hands of the architects, while Boren pursues different avenues of financing available to the city. The project is expected to come in at around $1.2 million, Boren said.
Though a construction start date was not given, Boren expects plans to be ready for the bid process by July.
Boren reported he expects the city’s new fire department tanker to arrive in mid-May.
The council authorized him to spend up to $200,000 for the tanker and related equipment. A Texas Forestry grant is expected to reimburse the city up to $155,000, he said.



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