Sunday, April 15, 2007

     

 

  USPS unveils “Forever” stamp
Monitor Staff Reports
WASHINGTON —The price to mail a first-class letter is going up from 39 cents to 41 cents May 14.
But the new stamp, good for one-ounce, won’t have a value printed on it.
It is being called a “forever” stamp. That means no matter how much rates increase in the future, the first-class stamps you still have on hand will cover the postage.
The new stamp was unveiled Thursday, April 12 and features the Liberty Bell.
The first U.S. postage stamps appeared in 1847 – the five-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp that was good for mailing letters up to 300 miles, and the 10-cent George Washington stamp for delivery beyond that.
“Let history now record that the first Forever Stamp was dedicated April 12, 2007, in the birthplace of American democracy and bearing the eternal symbol of American liberty,” USPS Board of Governors Vice Chairman Alan C. Kessler said during its unveiling in Philadelphia, Pa.
A first-class letter weighing more than an ounce will cost an additional 17 cents instead of the current 24 cents.
So a two-ounce letter, such as wedding invitations and some graduation announcements will cost 58 cents to mail, compared with 63 cents now.
The forever stamp is meant for low-quantity mailers and won’t be printed in large rolls, usually purchased by businesses.
When a new book of stamps is purchased, it will reflect the increased rate.
There are no limits on customer purchases.
The Forever Stamp is available in booklets of 20 through www.usps.com, by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 and at Post Office retail counters nationwide. They are also available from selected Post Office vending machines.
Starting May 14, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Automated Postal Centers will begin offering the Forever Stamp in sheets of 18.
Also, many participating convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores and other retailers will also begin selling Forever Stamp booklets of 20.
This is just one of several important changes recommended in February by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission and accepted by the post office governing board in early March.
Shape-based pricing is also included in the new rates as part of new legislation directing the regulatory commission to devise a simplified system for setting postal rates.
Shape-based pricing encourages mailers to only send pieces that can be stamped and processed by machines, avoiding human handling.
Also, the use of the standard letter size over large first-class envelope will save mailers postage by as much as 39 cents per piece.
A postage calculator is available at postcalc.usps.gov. The user punches in the type of mail by shape and size, then weight and zip code to receive the correct postage rate.
Implementation of one part of the new rates was delayed until July 15. That covers higher prices for magazines and newspapers.
Other mailing rates taking effect May 14 include:
• Letters, bill payments, greeting cards: 41 cents for the first ounce, up from 39 cents.
• Wedding invitation (2-ounces), 58 cents, down from 63 cents.
• Postcard, 26 cents, up from 24 cents.
• Priority mail flat-rate envelope, $4.60, up from $4.05.
• Express Mail flat-rate envelope, $16.25, up from $14.40.
• Parcel Post, 1-pound package, $4.50, up from 3.95.
• Bank statement, 2 ounces, presorted, 45.9 cents, down from 54.4 cents.
• Utility bill, barcoded, 31.2 cents, up from 29.3 cents.

Bluebonnet Festival weekend is here
Courtesy Photo

Hannah Garcia, 16-month-o
ld daughter of Cathy and Robert Garcia of Mabank, is shown holding a bluebonnet to give her mother. Proud grandparents are Grace and David Cason of Mabank.


Both Kemp and Ennis are holding Bluebonnet festivals this weekend.

 

 

 

City cancels May election
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–There will be no May 12 election for the city of Kemp.
Tuesday the city council cancelled the election in accordance with the Texas Election Code, since all candidates were running unopposed.
Incumbents Mayor Billy M. Teel and councilwoman Barbara McFaul along with candidate Dorothy Harris Locklin will be sworn in shortly after May 12.
In other business, council members:
• approved the final list of applicants for the home grant presented by Ken Hamner of Traylor and Associates.
Hamner was not the original person that presented the grant proposal to the city.
Originally, the grant was presented as a “no match needed” application.
However, the grant now requires a match, Teel said.
The match requirement can be up to 25 percent, Hamner said.
The cost to demolish the six homes on the list was estimated at $50,000 each, or $300,000 total.
The startled council asked Hamner to return to discuss the match.
• heard from Kemp residents about poor drainage on 9th and 10th streets flowing into 11th street, flooding garages and yards.
Repairs on 11th street are first on the list, McFaul said.
• gave resident Robert C. Maurer 30 days to repair and bring up to code his building.
• heard two public hearings on the annexation of property at 1376 South Elm.
Action will be taken at a meeting next month.
• approved a resolution opposing House Bill 651, supporting HB 742 and joining with other cities for reasonable gas rates.
• authorized city manager James Stroman to negotiate with First National Bank for a loan to purchase a used dump truck at a cost of $10,000.
• recognized a letter from sixth grader Toni Old, thanking the city for the new wastewater treatment plant.
Old toured the plant as a part of a school project.

Man indicted for cyber crimes
Monitor Staff Reports
TYLER–A federal grand jury indicted Harrison Havens, Jr., 55, of Mabank, after an investigation by Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit.
Forensic analysis of computers and external media confiscated at his home revealed several videos of child pornography.
The investigation indicated Havens used the Internet to stockpile and distribute child pornography.
Tuesday the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Havens in New York, following the April 4 federal indictment on one count of transporting and four counts of possessing child pornography.
If convicted he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
The indictment stemmed from his arrest in Mabank, June 8, 2005, for possession and promotion of Child pornography. At the time he was working as a waste treatment facility manager.
“Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey upon children,” Abbott said.
Cyber Crimes Unit investigators conducted a search of Havens’ residence after a tip from the National Center for Missing and exploited Children indicated he was distributing child pornography over the Internet.

U.S. Rep. Hensarling touts taxpayers’ bill of rights
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas 5th District, told Mabank residents it’s time to force Congress to control government spending before it cripples future generations of American taxpayers.
As a coauthor of the American Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Hensarling proposed the need for a constitutional amendment that links government spending to the growth of the economy.
Currently, he said federal spending is growing four times faster than the average Texas family budget.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling uses a chart to show the long-term effects of the recently passed House budget.


Such an amendment would force the people’s representatives to analyze the 10,000 federal programs on the books and make the tough choices, he said.
“The longer these decisions are postponed, the sharper the challenge will be to find a solution,” Hensarling said.
The taxpayers’ bill of rights is a product of the Republican Study Comiittee, a fiscally responsible group of over 100 House members led by Congressman Hensarling.
Taxpayers have a right to:
• have a federal government that does not grow beyond their ability to pay for it.
• receive back each dollar entrusted to the government for their retirement.
• expect the government to balance the budget without having their taxes raised.
• a simple, fair tax code that they can understand.
Social Security, when established consisted of 43 workers to every one beneficiary. Currently that ratio is 3.5 to 1, soon to be 2 to 1 as the baby boomers collect on the fund, he said.
For years, Congress has borrowed from social security to fund other programs, leaving an IOU in its place.
Hensarling outlined three ways to meeting the retirement fund crisis: increase social security taxes by 40 percent; decrease benefits by 35 percent; or segregate those funds and move to a savings based system, using compound interest to build up the fund.
Hensarling freely admits, “the devil is in the details.”
The solutions to the 6 to 8 percent growth rate in Medicare and Medicaid spending is another issue the Congress can’t afford to put off, Hensarling said.
Coming up with a fair and simple tax code is also crucial to safeguard our freedom, he said.
Hensarling proposes giving the current tax code a three-year sunset, while the people’s representatives come up with something fair and simple.
Taxes are among the top reasons more jobs are being “off-shored,” he said.
In addition, more money is spent annually on tax compliance, then is spent by the entire American auto industry, he said.
And finally, Hensarling pointed out the current tax code, which only addresses how to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, has eight times as many pages as the Bible.
In summation, Hensarling said, “Failure to act now means the next generation will face a choice of two evils: having their tax burden double that of the current generation, or inheriting a federal government that will consist of almost nothing but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” he said.