Thursday, March 22, 2007




Expect traffic delays
SH 334 widening project begins
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Expect delays when traveling through Seven Points on your way to Gun Barrel City and vice versa.
Starting Monday, March 26, road crews will begin closing lanes on State Highway 334 as they upgrade the drainage system roadside, according to a press release from the Texas Department of Transportation, Tyler District.
Work will be done during only daylight hours.
This preparation work is expected to last a month, before the actual widening begins.
However, after the first month, traffic flow should not be impacted, the press release states.
TxDoT is expanding the two-lane highway to five lanes, from the bridge to just past the intersection with SH 274, to include a central turning lane and two lanes in each direction.
The widening will continue through the intersection and onto Farm-to-Market 85 for a short distance to improve traffic flow going into the intersection.
The work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2009.

$2M in cocaine, cash seized on I-20
Courtesy photo
Authorities uncovered 49 kilos of cocaine in a computer box as part of a load being hauled by a tractor trailer on I-20 March 8.
Monitor Staff Reports
TALTY–The newly-formed Kaufman County Drug Interdiction Division seized cash and narcotics valued at more than $2 million on Interstate 20 west of Terrell recently.
Sgt. Charles Sexton stopped an 18-wheeeler on I-20 at Farm-to-Market 1641 Thursday, March 8.
During the traffic stop, Sexton decided a more thorough investigation was warranted, and employed his K-9 partner.
When the dog alerted him narcotics were present, Sexton served the two Hispanic men in the truck’s cab with a search warrant for both cab and trailer.
The search uncovered 400 Dell computer boxes.
In one of the boxes, however, instead of a computer, the dog sniffed out 49 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $2 million.
A subsequent search of the cab turned up $20,000 in cash.
The two men denied knowing about the cash and narcotics.
Both were taken into custody and transported to the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center.
No other details were released, as the investigation, involving several law enforcement agencies, is ongoing.

Fire house gets new tanker truck
By Mary Landrie
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Council members approved the purchase of a 3,000 gallon pumper tanker for use by the Gun Barrel City Fire Department during a special meeting Tuesday night.
The $204,558 tanker, which has an automatic transmission, will house a foam pumper. Once airpaks are added, the tanker will be considered a Class A pumper.
A foam pumper will allow firefighters to not only conserve water but to minimize structural water damage while extinguishing fires.
“After speaking with a representative of the Insurance Services Office (ISO) I learned that having this piece of equipment could allow home owners up to a 25 percent savings on insurance policies,” Gun Barrel City Fire Chief Joe Lindaman said.
The Texas Department of Insurance rates and grades cities and fire districts on a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the worst. These ratings are reported to insurance companies to set premiums.
“I chose this particular truck because I feel it will ensure the safety of my men and of the citizens of Gun Barrel, and possibly put money back into the pockets of home owners,” Lindaman added.
Currently, the city has only one tanker.
After an accident which resulted in the rolling of a tanker, the only one left in operation is considered ‘home built’ and is not National Fire Department Association compliant, Lindaman said.
“In the event that an accident were to occur in that tanker and one of our men is injured or killed, we could be looking at a lawsuit,” Lindaman explained.
This new tanker will serve a workload equivalent to the other two tankers, Lindaman added.
“We’re building up a stockpile of equipment around the fire station, but only three pieces can be driven at one time,” Councilman Keith Crozier said in opposition of the purchase.
Mayor Pro-Tem Marty Gross noted the new tanker would in turn replace the existing outdated equipment.
“As far as legal, NFDA approved tanker trucks go we have none,” councilwoman Kathy Cochran pointed out.
“We really need something like this,” she said.
The foam pumper will conserve water 10 fold, former city fire chief Chuck Harley said. 3,000 gallons of water could be turned into as much as 30,000 gallons of fire-smothering foam.
“This tanker will have 10 times the cooling power and could have 10 times the volume,” he said.
“It also won’t run out of water in less than five minutes, like the ones we were using,” Harley added.
And having this updated equipment could draw in potential volunteers, he predicted.
“This gives me the security as a homeowner to know that in the event of a fire I don’t have to worry about them running out of water,” Harley said.
The Neal and Associates tanker purchase will be on a three-year lease with Franklin Bank.
The council also accepted a report from the city Planning and Zoning Commission. A public hearing is set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 10 to discuss proposed changes to the building code for the Harbor Point Subdivision.
Some items included for discussion are Single Family Detached Residential District R–4A, changes in zoning to General Business District B–2, designating certain portions as non-buildable, and changing references to ‘minimum building floor space to living area (that which is under heat and air conditioning).
Council members also scheduled a workshop for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27 to outline what is needed in a city manager and a time table for hiring one.

County approves $38K contract for court record management system expansion
Filing fees to pay for expansion and a much-needed new server

By Mary Landrie
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners approved a five-year contract Tuesday to allow for expansion of its judicial system records management, and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.
Tyler Technologies, which provides the county with records management software using the Ableterm–Legacy system, has agreed under its new contract to supply the county with a new server and software to make county offices more efficient.
The contract cost, about $38,000, is coming from a state-mandated fee collected for records management.
Every time a document is filed in the county, a filing fee of $5 is attached, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney told The Monitor. The legistlature initiated the fee system to assist counties in maintaining and expanding their archival and records management systems, McKinney said.
This will keep taxpayers from footing the bill to replace the server and hire a company to service and upgrade the system’s software.
During Tuesday’s regular scheduled meeting, the court heard from staff on current imaging problems and the need for a new server.
The life expectancy of a server is about five years, commissioners heard. The current server in operation is a 1998 model that is not supported by IBM.
“The server is almost full, and it’s on its last leg,” District Clerk Becky Hanks said.
The Ableterm-Legacy system will expand on the county’s current archival capabilities by enabling all documents used in a certain case to be linked together, McKinney explained.
“All actions taken on a case will now be transposed into one location, and will be accessible throughout the life of the case,” McKinney said.
“This will allow for integration of documents and prevent a backlog, like we currently have,” Hanks added.
“I’m really excited about being able to move forward and accomplish what we need to accomplish,” County Clerk Gwen Moffett said.
According to a representative, Tyler Technologies guarantees the software will perform just as well as those in other counties for the life of the contract.
“We have never had a problem they couldn’t solve,” Hanks said.
In other business, commissioners:
• declared April Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.
• renewed a contract with the Northeast Texas Public Health District.
• tabled the purchase of web-based software.
• reappointed Reba McGee to the Andrew’s Center Board of Trustees.
• appointed CAC Director Marsha Allen and the Athens Help Center’s Chief Operating Officer Leslie Saunders, to the Henderson County Child Welfare Board to fill unexpired terms.
• took no action on the hiring of additional personnel for the Sheriff’s Department.
• took no action on the hiring of additional personnel for County Treasurer’s Office.
• discussed holding a workshop to review hiring of personnel.
• approved payroll changes.
• tabled a plat for the Sanctuary at Cedar Creek Lake due to the absence of Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall.
• denied a plat for Harborlight Villas because it has not been reviewed by Gun Barrel City.
• paid bills totaling $57,774.07

Kemp Jr. High talent contest set
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Kemp students Johnny, Diane and Patrick Polk run through their musical number, “America The Beautiful,” at a rehearsal for the Kemp Junior High talent show. They are one of 15 acts set to dazzle the community at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Kemp school cafetorium. The event is a fund-raiser to purchase a marque for the junior high school. Tickets are $3/$2 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with concessions available.



Don’s Port Marina work has begun
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Workmen prepare to dredge and redo the boat ramp at Don’s Port Marina in anticipation of a busy season on the lake. The Tiki Hut restaurant is reopening for weekend business Friday, March 30, and will open six days a week in the summer.


Lawmakers rescind HPV mandate
Monitor Staff Reports
AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry’s mandate requiring girls entering sixth grade be vaccinated to help prevent cervical cancer was shot down recently by legislation passed in the State House.
House Bill 1098 addressed the mandatory vaccination of young girls against the Human Papilloma Virus.
The vaccine had been available for eight months when the governor mandated its use through an executive order issued in late January.
HB 1098 rescinded the mandate by a wide margin, 118 to 23 with one member not voting – more than enough to override the governor’s veto.
“Gov. Perry’s heart is in the right place,” Rep. Dan Flynn said.
“The bottom line is, until we know more, it would just be irresponsible of us to mandate something such as this.
“We’d be sending a false message to families that we know it is safe when, in reality, there are so many questions left unanswered about its effectiveness and long-term implications,” Flynn said.
A similar bill is making its way through the Senate.
The drug was barely approved by the Food and Drug Administration a short time before it was mandated, and many experts question whether its testing was sufficient to determine its safety and effectiveness.
Several groups in the medical community, including the Texas Medial Association and the American College of Pediatricians, have opposed the mandate.
Representatives also objected to the governor setting public policy by means of mandate, instead of going through the legislative process.
As before the mandate and passage of HB 1098, parents are free to choose to have their daughters vaccinated against HPV by consulting with their doctor.