Thursday, March 15, 2007




Building fund gets $1.5M boost
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–Eustace school trustees agreed to transfer funds from the district’s reserve account to its building fund during a regularly scheduled meeting last Thursday.
Trustees Thomas Frazier and Cotton Walker made the motion to designate $1.5 million from fund balance into the Building Fund. The motion passed unanimously.
The district is moving forward with plans to establish a new bus terminal just beyond the high school, and is continuing its extensieve building and renovation work.
In other business, trustees:
• heard $1,012,033 have been collected in delinquent taxes, penalties and interest dating back to Sept. 1, 2003.
Tax attorney Kevin Chester of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson said his firm would agree to continue its tax collection service on delinquent taxes at a rate of 15 percent of the amount collected for 2005 and previous year taxes, however would charge 20 percent on amounts collected from 2006 and subsequent year uncollected tax monies.
• approved increasing imposed penalties on delinquent taxes from 15 to 20 percent.
• set Thursday, May 3 for the annual employee appreciation banquet to be held at the First Baptist Church in Eustace.
• certified new textbook selections for math, grades six -12 for next year.
• reviewed revisions to the cheerleading constitution pertaining to conduct and the demerit system without objection.
• accepted resignations from six teachers. Bret Cannon and Sherri Cross – middle school, Greg Henry, Pricilla Green, Bobby Fowler – high school, and accepted the retirement of middle school teacher Darlene Caffey. Trustees extended their best wishes.
• hired Chris Choat as a teacher/coach at the high school.

Utility transfers funds
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District directors approved fund transfers in a special meeting March 7.
The transfer of funds from Operating Reserves into the Operations account was needed to fund measures previously approved, general manager Bill Goheen explained.
Directors approved transferring $61,883.20. Of that amount, $21,883 was for invoices previously approved, and another $40,000 was transferred to cover April expenses, Goheen elaborated.
In a similar moves, the board agreed to skip the monthly transfer of $29,350 out of Operations to the Operating Reserve account and also the automatic transfer of $43,198.74 into the Bond Interest and Sinking CD for one month.
The utility had been transferring a certain amount into the I&S in anticipation of the payback on a $730,000 bond earmarked for the Brookshire clarifier, Goheen explained.
However, since the bond has yet to be activated the transfers were premature and should be available for operating expenses, Goheen said.
The lag time in activation, due to the need for one more report to the federal government, made the utility miss a deadline to activate at the 3.24 percent interest rate quoted earlier, Goheen said.
In this case, the lag worked in the district’s favor by securing a lower 2.93 interest rate.
The reduction is expected to save the district $12,000 over the life of the 20-year payout, Goheen said.
The district plans to active the $730,000 bond in the next 90 days to begin the Brookshire clarifier project, Goheen added.
Just before beginning a budget workshop, the board agreed to reset this month’s regular meeting from 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 21 to the same time Thursday March 22.
On March 21 the district will be in Tyler to present grant applications for repiping sewer work in Tamarack and extending water service in Bonita Point on behalf of Gun Barrel City and Henderson County.
About 60 applicants are expected to make presentations for consideration before the East Texas Regional Review Committee that day, Goheen said.

Celebrating Public Schools Week

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell

AT LEFT: Six classes of first graders from Kemp Primary rocked, hopped, marched, and flitted through a charming choral performance portraying jungle animals and insects under the direction of Christine Weber. The program topped off the school’s open house during Public Schools Week last Thursday.

Monitor photo/Mary Landrie
AT RIGHT: Second graders at Lakeview Elementary
in Gun Barrel City stand proud and sing “I Pledge
Allegiance” during the This is America! open house
musical held March 8. Guest speakers included Principal
Kevyn Pate and Assistant Principal Dale Mason.

‘Idol’ watch party cheers on Chris Sligh

AT LEFT: Tuesday, Fox 4 News reporter Brandon Todd with Nune Tarango tape an interview with two of the 100 people who gathered at the Lighthouse Bay restaurant in Seven Points for an American Idol watch party to cheer beside proud aunt and uncle Marie and David Sligh (area residents) for their nephew Chris.

County signs with I-Plow
By Mary Landrie
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County commissioners approved a contract that will simplify the collection of fines and court costs at a very reasonable cost.
Tuesday commissioners contracted with I-Plow, a state-approved vendor, based out of San Antonio that works with the county collection departments.
The $3,600 annual contract covers up to five system users at the same time. Each additional license will cost $300.
In addition, the system has some very nice features.
“On this database there is no personal information such as social security numbers,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
“The official records will continue to remain on the Legacy-Ableturn System which is our judicial system,” McKinney added.
According to McKinney, the company with the closest pricing to I-Plow is charging nearly $36,000 for the same services.
This software tool is designed to increase internal collections staff productivity and efficiency and rapidly establish payment or community service plans. Payments are prorated automatically.
Each judge or court can define their specific letters or cards. The staff does not have to individually review cases to determine which case requires which letter. Each court can have its own letterhead, or collectively utilize central collections.
This software will also allow users to define each defendant’s preferred language and generate documents in the appropriate language.
“I looked at several different software packages through the Court Administration website, and I also looked at the Dallas County implementation of this,” County Attorney James Owen said.
“The price of it was really attractive. The data is accessed through a database that they maintain and has some great recording and calendaring features. It works independent of what we are using right now, but can report back to what we are using now,” Owen added.
Owen also informed the court he thinks this system can do everything that the others out there can do but at a fraction of the price.
When the collections department receives a payment in connection with a plea or working out a case, payments can post almost immediately to give all individuals involved a current amount due when the information is needed.
“We want to leave the judges in control of their dockets, so if they are working with somebody on a payment plan, and they come into court again and need to consider all the information together, they can take the file back and start working on the new case,” Owen said.
There are at least three case managers and a secretary that will need access to the system at the same time and having five concurrent usernames will allow those in the office to work more productively. Additional user licenses will probably not be needed, Owen said.
In other business, commissioners:
• heard from Henderson County 4-H Ambassadors.
• tabled the purchase of web-based software.
• held a public hearing to discuss the closing of 234 feet of County Road 3420 in Precinct 3 and approved the closing.
• announced openings to the Andrews Center Board of Trustees and the Henderson County Child Welfare Board. Individuals interested in filing for the open positions should contact their commissioner or County Judge David Holstein for more information.
• accepted a donation of $4, 975 from the Westwood Beach Property Owners Association for repairs to less than 400 feet of road.
• received financial reports
• heard from Chief Deputy Tony Allison on the jail expansion project. Allison requested that staffing begin for renovations scheduled to start at the end of June. Staffing will take approximately three months, to train and screen employees.
• paid bills totaling $738,416.08.