Sunday, April 25, 2010




  Citizen charges nepotism
City secretary’s husband runs for council seat
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS-A Payne Springs citizen charged a candidate for city council should bow out of the race, because his wife is the city secretary.
“One of them has to go,” Dwayne Hagin said during Tuesday’s council meeting in Payne Springs.
Hagin charged the city with nepotism, and said the Texas Attorney General’s office agrees with him. Hagin supports a different candidate for one of the council seats available.
Councilman Michael McDonald tried to assure Hagin that the election law was being observed, and if Michael Juica wins a seat on the council, both could serve without an ethics charge
Emotions ran high during the discussion, and one responder had to be silenced as being out of order.
Karen Juica has been serving on the city payroll as city secretary since November, 2009, first as interim secretary and then permanently in December, 2009.
She was hired Nov. 2. By the time of the May 8 election, she will have served six months.
According to a handbook published by the Texas Attorney General titled Public Officers: Traps for the Unwary 2006, as long as she has served for at least six months prior to the election, she can remain at her post, and her husband can be seated on the council.
Texas law requires three different minimum continuous employment terms – before a primary or general election (one year), local election (six months) and appointment (30 days) – to be excluded from the nepotism statute.
According to the handbook, “The legislature intended the continuous employment periods to correspond roughly to the length of time a candidate’s or incoming appointee’s relatives would recognize the potential conflict.
“Candidacies for state and county offices elected at the general election, which are partisan, are generally public knowledge for at least a year. By contrast, candidacies for nonpartisan offices elected at an election other than the general election, such as school board trustee, generally are known only a few months prior to the election.
“Finally, because an appointment can occur at any time, the legislature believed that appointive offices should not require as long a period of prior employment as an elective office.”
However, should Michael Juica win a seat, he will be barred from voting on any issue involving the city secretary, and must abstain on such issues.
He also would be barred from running or being appointed as mayor or mayor pro-tem, because the post directly oversees the operation of the city, including the city secretary.
Had she served less than six months, and her husband won a seat, Karen Juica would have to be fired or resign, the handbook states.
To make sure she understood this correctly, Karen Juica said she called the AG’s office the next morning and spoke to someone named Julian, who specializes in cities.
He said the six-month grandfather clause is correct, she reported. Julian also said that the city attorney could determine whether her employment started in November or December, but that would be splitting hairs.
Also during the Tuesday’s meeting, the council allowed each of the four candidates to introduce themselves to those in attendance with their name and residence.
In other business, council members:
• accepted a $150 bid from Charlie Harkness to repair the front entrance to city hall.
• agreed to purchase a state and national flag for up to $150 and label them as the property of the city. The last new flags installed were stolen three weeks later, councilwoman Ethel Hagin noted.
• approved $2,000 for the purchase of road materials for needed repairs.
• approved a new business application for an outdoor supply store at 19780 Leisure Land Rd. to be operated by Robert Polster and his wife.
The couple plans to sell outdoor furniture and hand-crafted wooden items for the garden and outdoors.
• repealed an ordinance regulating employee compensation, because it was contrary to state policy.
• agreed to seek trash-hauling bids, as the city’s current contract expires Oct. 1.


Burch retires from ECC utility board
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–With only one more meeting to go, East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply district board president David Burch officially resigned Wednesday after serving for eight years.
“I have enjoyed working with the members of this board. You were all more like a round table discussion (group) and were all ladies and gentlemen,” Burch said.
“And we got things done,” he declared.
BurchCake.jpg (22643 bytes)Burch has served as a director for eight years but he needed that last meeting time for something very special.
He and his wife, Shirley, plan to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on a cruse, which will be gone at the time of the last meeting.
All of his fellow board members commended him for his service to the district.
Director Carol Meyer, financial chairman, presented Burch a plaque on the board’s behalf.
A specially decorated cake was shared by directors and other employees that came in to say good-bye to Burch.
“You have now been promoted to board consultant,” Director Jim Boyles facetiously declared.
See farewell letter to the editor from David Burch on page 2A.
In other business, directors:
• approved the consent agenda after pausing to discuss the Brookshire filter refurbishing.
Directors heard required paperwork has been submitted and everything is proceeding on schedule.
• approved the purchase of one desk top computer for district secretary Angie Crowsey, to be paid for out of the operating reserve account for a budgeted capital expenditure
The district budgeted to purchase four computers this year but Crowsey said they plan to start with the one and order the other three later in the year.
The cost for the custom built computer is $1,479 and includes the special software and installation needed for the district office.
• approved the purchase of two lawn mowers from Lowe’s at a cost of $999 each.
The mowers will also be paid for from capital expenditures.
• approved payment to Contact Communications for a UHF repeater in the amount of $1,936, also a capital expenditure.
• approved payment to Velvin & Weeks Consulting Engineers in the amount of $9,984, out of operating reserve, construction in progress budget.
• approved Crowsey to attend the texas Rural Water Association office professionals conference, Thursday and Friday, June 17-18, in San Antonio.
• authorized the finance committee to renew an emergency CD for $93,000, set to mature Tuesday, May 4.


Trimble retires after 39 years
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor staff Writer

TOOL–Malakoff school board members and staff wished trustee Homer Trimble a fond farewell and appreciation for his 39 years of service.
Monday’s board meeting at the Tool Elementary School was Trimble’s last, as he has decided to retire.
MalakoffISDTrimble.jpg (114438 bytes)But don’t expect him to disappear. He said he looks forward to being on the stage to congratulate the graduates of the Malakoff school system now and in the years ahead.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Malakoff school board president Rick Viergge (left) presents a plaque honoring Homer Trimble for his 39 years of service to the Malakoff Independent School District. Read all about it on page 4A.

“The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us a man ought to enjoy the gift of his labor, and that’s what I’ve done,” Trimble said in summing up his years of service.
“I have been impressed that you still have the fire to do the right things for these kids after all these years. You are a constant inspiration to me,” fellow board member Todd LaRue said.
“I can say we’ve always left the board meetings as friends, even when we haven’t always agreed and that’s a credit to Homer,” board president Ricky Vieregge said.
“There’s never been a time when a question of the past actions of this board has come up that we didn’t go to Homer for the answer,” Clyde Tinsley said. “He’s kept every note of the meetings he’s attended. It may take him a little while, but he’ll find the answer.”
Assisted superintendent Sybil Norris said she’s probably served the longest with Trimble. “He does truly care for all the students in this district,” she said.
Tool Elementary School principal Bill Morgan thanked Trimble for his role in seeing the Tool school established.
Malakoff athletic director Jamie Driscoll said Trimble always knew how to motivate him and the athletic department. “He always said to me, as long as you keep winning we have plenty of money (for athletics),” Driscoll said in tribute.
“Judging from the attendance at state school board conventions, I’d say no other board member has served as long as Homer on any school board in the state of Texas,” superintendent Dr. John Spies said. “And the district is better for it.”


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