Thursday, March 20, 2008






  Kaufman killer’s appeal rejected
Monitor Staff Reports
HOUSTON–The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to review the case of a North Texas man on death row for the robbery, beating, rape and strangling of a 93-year-old Kaufman woman in her home.
William A. Murray, 39, was condemned for the 1998 death of Rena Ratcliff. The convicted murderer’s mother had once cared for the elderly woman as a home nursing aide.
The court’s refusal follows the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rule to uphold lower courts that denied five claims Murray made, including one that his trial court did not require psychological examinations when he said in 1999 he wanted appeals dropped and execution expedited. He later changed his mind, but a motion to reinstate his appeals was denied.
At the time of the slaying, Murray had been out of prison just a few months, after serving only three months of a 10-year term for burglary.
After his arrest, Murray told his mother he killed the woman in a drug frenzy after breaking into her home. Evidence showed Murray had two earlier marijuana convictions.
According to court documents, Murray attacked Ratcliff after she woke up while he was in her room looking for valuables and confronted him. Ratcliff lived alone.
Police, acting on a warrant that tied Murray to an earlier burglary, arrested him when they found evidence linking him to the Ratcliff slaying.
No execution date is set.
Executions in Texas have been on hold since September after the Supreme Court agreed to look at constitutional challenges to lethal injection procedures. A ruling is expected this summer.

State adds rules to lifting burn bans
Special to the Monitor
KAUFMAN–When a burn ban is not in effect in Kaufman County, certain requirements must still be met.
The following information containing the specific requirements was recently released from the fire marshal’s office.
The numbers for questions or complaints are (469) 376-4111 or e-mail
The release states brush, branches, limbs, leaves and unpainted or untreated lumber are the only items that can be burned on the open ground when there is no burn ban in effect.
It further states before burning, you must provide your name, phone number and the location of the burn by calling county dispatch at (972) 932-4337.
Burning is allowed only after sunrise and before sunset, and necessary precautions must be taken to ensure a safely contained fire.
All fires should be monitored throughout the entire burn, and a cell phone should be close at hand to call 911 in the event the fire gets out of control.
Household trash may be burned in a barrel, if in a safe place with a screen capable of suppressing sparks and embers covering the top, and a water hose is nearby.
Like a ground fire, the burn barrel must be monitored by an adult throughout the burn.
Smoke from the barrel cannot create any negative effects to nearby residences or other sensitive receptors, such as livestock barns, greenhouses or businesses.
When filled, the barrel must be disposed of by taking it to a proper landfill. It is illegal to bury it on the property.
Items that cannot be burned on open ground include tires, trash, shingles, carpet, wiring, plastics, rubber compounds, metals, glass, construction debris and other similar items.
For complete rules, see the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Chapter III, Subchapter B, Outdoor Burning at:


Environmental Co-op observes 10th year
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–The Environmental Co-op located in Kaufman, is celebrating 10 years of clean-up and recycling in the county.
Co-op director Marilyn May told Kaufman County Commissioners the Co-op’s annual meeting and potluck dinner will mark the Co-op’s 10th anniversary at First Christian Church, 405 N. Adelaide Street, Terrell.
So far, the Eco-station located in Kemp has collected 22,260 pounds of recycled material, she explained.
Collecting from various entities across the county has resulted in 29.757 tons of recycled materials in 2007.
An example of savings to the county was shown by the materials collected at the KC Law Enforcement Center. By sending the materials to the recycling center, instead of a landfill, the KCLEC saved $3,000 in hauling fees alone, she reported.
“The 29.757 tons equals a savings of 506 trees, 122 kilowatts of electricity, 208,296 gallons of water, and 89 cubic yards of landfill space,” May explained.
Started in 1996 with a $44,564 litter abatement grant, the Environmental Co-op has continued submitting for grants through each year of its existence. Over the course of 10 years, grants have totaled $1,434,564.
The grants paid for everything, from a chipper grinder and comprehensive solid waste education, to a stop illegal dumping campaign, commercial recycling programs, compost education and a household hazardous waste facility in Kemp.
The newest venture is a tire clean-up program for the county.
“We have a lot of county roads that need clean-up. It has been proposed and discussed to use people who need to work off community service time,” May said.
She added they could even collect and submit the numbers (hours worked and amount of tires removed) to Keep Texas Beautiful for awards.
County Judge Wayne Gent asked her for an update concerning the possibility of a convenience station in Precinct 2.
“As you know, the property must be bought, or a long-term lease must be negotiated, before we can submit an application for a grant to the North Central Texas Council of Governments,” she answered.
Grants are not always easy to acquire, she said.
“We did not receive funding in the first phase of the 2008-09 grant cycle,” she said. “The second phase will have more funding available.”
Also, she said the $237,000 the Co-op requested may have been too large an amount, so she intends to break it into smaller portions.
The deadline for submitting a grant application for the second phase is Friday, May 16.

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