Thursday, April 12, 2007




Today last day to register to vote
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Thursday (today) is the last day to register to vote in the May 12 election.
Cities and school districts are holding elections for mayor, council seats and trustees.
The Kemp Independent School District is seeking approval of a $23 million bond issue to build a new high school and make numerous renovations.
Seven Points is asking voters to consider taking half of the city’s EDC tax money to fund road maintenance.
Mabank has six candidates vying for two council seats, and Gun Barrel City, which has been a council member short since early October, is also holding a crucial election.

Council approves special-use permit
Harbor Point wins zoning changes
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

After almost nine months of petitioning the city, Tamarack resident Tina Hamilton has secured a special-use permit for her animal rescue service.
Tuesday, the Gun Barrel City Council approved a special-use permit process, which includes getting written approval from every neighbor within 200 feet, and in this case, limiting the number of dogs on the premises to eight at a time.
Hamilton had previously presented endorsements from neighbors within 300 feet of her home, from which she operates Happy Tails, a nonprofit animal rescue operation.
During the last several weeks, this issue has split the Tamarack community, and the council heard objections from several citizens, but no near neighbors.
Due to the length of time and unresponsiveness of city hall to Hamilton’s requests and council’s direction, the council waived the $250 permit fee on a 3-1 vote.
“I’m against waiving fees for any reason,” Councilman Keith Crozier said in opposition.
Harbor Point residents won their proposed changes to the zoning code in their subdivision.
In a 3-1 vote, the council repealed part of the zoning code, replacing it with specifications requested by members of the Harbor Point Property Owners Association, and okayed by the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Other changes approved included ruling two lots bordering the airport as unbuildable at the owner’s request, and rezoning three other lots at the south end of the landing strip for commercial use.
Councilwoman Kathy Cochran objected to a clause that would zone all other lots in Sections 1 and 2 as residential.
That would include lots across the street from Firstmate, which are currently unimproved, and which Cochran said should remain unimproved or unbuildable for air safety reasons.
In other business, the council:
• approved replatting of a 2.65 acre track next to Terry’s Furniture Store on West Main for Clean Car Wash, formerly known as Wash Zone.
• approved a preliminary and final plat for a CVS Pharmacy next door to Chili’s on West Main.
• decided to give the city manager search committee first crack at presenting the council with qualified applicants for the job, and set a joint workshop for 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, to complete items not addressed during a previous workshop.
• authorized the city attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting registered sex offenders from residing within the city limits.

Bond proposal explained
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–A very detailed explanation of the school tax system was presented by Kemp Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Peter Running Monday.
The meeting in the KISD boardroom was one of several public information meetings being held at various times and places. For information on upcoming meetings, call the administration office at (903) 498-1312.
Approximately 25 parents and staff were present.
Running said people needed to understand the process before voting on a $23 million bond package for a new high school and renovations to existing campuses.
“Our purpose is to arm you with the facts,” he said.
Two separate tax accounts fund school activities. The maintenance and operation (M&O) and interest and sinking (I&S) funds.
M&O pays salaries, utilities, instructional needs and all day-to-day costs, Running said.
I&S takes care of indebtedness. I&S cannot be used for M&O items, but M&O funds can be transferred to I&S if need be, he explained.
M&O is funded in three portions – state (65 percent), federal (2 percent) and local (33 percent). The local tax rate is set each year by the board of trustees.
Last year, the state ordered tax rates compressed from $1.50 per $100 valuation to $1.33, and then allowed the school districts to add a 4-cent amount to the $1.33, making it $1.37 per $100 valuation.
The state limits I&S taxes to 50 cents per $100.
Kemp’s current I&S tax rate is 8 cents per $100, because trustees were able to take some money from the fund balance to pay the difference.
That savings is not there for next year, Running told the audience, adding the I&S tax rate will go up to 16 cents whether the bond election passes or not.
Using the average home in Kemp with a $55,208 taxable value, Running gave examples of the average tax owed.
This year, adding the M&O and the I&S tax, the amount a taxpayer will pay is approximately $800.54.
Next year, tax law changes result in a tax bill of $794.99, a savings of $5.55.
Next year, the M&O will drop by 33 cents and the I&S will increase by 32 cents.
However, the district will receive extra state money for the ordered decrease in the M&O amount, explained as a “hold harmless” clause, to insure school districts receive the same amount under normal circumstances.
The overall tax bill for homeowners will not increase if the bond issue passes.
Many voters are concerned the new high school is being built because of expected growth, but if the bond issue does not pass, the current overcrowding problem will not go away.
An independent facilities study listed many current problems facing the district.
“We are at the one drop of water that will make the glass overflow,” Running said.
As an example, the high school cafetorium, which feeds three campuses, is so filled, many students go without eating because there is not enough time for everybody to be served, he said.
Going campus by campus, the committee results were as follows:
• high school – Overcrowded classrooms, inadequate hallways, overcrowded cafetorium, shortage of science facilities and inadequate science labs (state mandate), the over-crowded band hall (three campuses use), administration space is substandard, allowing no privacy for parent conferences, 12 different portables in use, and the state mandated perimeter for security purposes is insufficient.
• junior high – Roof and windows leak and the leaks are hard to find, library does not meet state standards, computer labs are lacking and several classrooms do not meet the facility standards set by the state.
In addition, the heating and air conditioning units pose noise problems in some rooms.
• intermediate – Perimeter security problems, library is extremely substandard, computer and science facilities are inadequate, there is no music room, gym shows structural settlement, drainage flows through the building in heavy rain and it also has HVAC issues.
“The building itself is structurally sound, but the longer repairs are put off, the worse it will become,” Running explained.
He also pointed out an electrical panel for the whole building was installed low, near the floor, right beside where janitorial staff empty mop buckets and drain them.
• primary school – Has persistent roof leaks and structural problems.
Population growth, or the lack of it, was still a concern to some.
“If it never shows up, it will still not alleviate the overcrowding or the other problems,” Running said.
“That one drop of water is about to overflow,” he said.
Someone mentioned the district is no longer able to attract new families, as after one look at the aging KISD facilities, they move on to another district.
Several people spoke up, saying they knew families waiting to see if the bond issue would pass before deciding to move out of the district.
“We believe growth is on its way. If you look at what is happening (east of Kemp in Forney and Crandall), the (growth) wave is coming this way,” Running said.
The current growth rate for the district is 2.78 percent per year, he said.
“That’s the 2.78 drop of water making the glass overflow,” Running said. “If the enrollment grows as expected, we will need 40 (more) classrooms in 10 years.”
Another problem relates to the new state-mandated fourth year of math, science, social studies and language arts.
“All our rooms are now substandard,” he said.
If the bond issue doesn’t pass, the district will be looking at some drastic solutions.
1. To add more and reoccupy portable buildings.
2. Extend the instruction schedule (lengthen school day) or the calendar (lengthen school year).
3. Construct new classrooms at each campus at a higher cost.
“If we are working at several different construction sites, we won’t get the ‘more bang for the buck’ we need,” he said.
Construction costs are approximately $185 per square foot when working at different sites, compared to $116 per square foot at one main site, he explained.
That is why the board decided to construct a new high school campus and repair the others, Running added.
“Our job is not to sit here and try to convince you to go and vote yes,” he said.
But whether one votes yes or no, “shame on you if you go without all the facts,” he added.

Snow flurries do not stop egg hunts
Monitor Photo/Mary Landrie
Two-year-old Quintin Landrie (left) steps up on the Seven Points fire truck on display during the Fun Family Easter event sponsored by the city's police department at Brookshire's Saturday in Seven Points.



Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Campers and residents (above right) numbering near 100 race to pick up as many plastic eggs as possible at the annual egg hunt at Purtis Creek State Park Saturday. Snow flurries made the event a chilly dash.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Bundled little ones like these (left) were treated to train rides, bounce houses, cotton candy and hot dogs at the Christian Life Center in Gun Barrel City Saturday.

Ooopsy daisy!
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
No one was injured when this empty rock hauler negotiated a turn a little too closely and ended up in the ditch around 6:50 a.m. Monday at the Seven Points intersection. Ishmael Morales, a Kemp resident, was cited for making an unsafe turn and arrested for having a “detectable amount of alcohol,” a Class C misdemeanor, Seven Points Police Officer Brad Hendricks explained. Morales was taken to the Henderson County jail. Traffic headed west on State Highway 85 was diverted until nearly 9 a.m. while authorities worked to remove the 18-wheeler.