Sunday, April 27, 2008





Young man dies in ATV mishap
Monitor Staff Reports
TOOL–A young man was pronounced dead shortly after the four-wheel All Terrain Vehicle he was driving went off the road and hit a tree.
The incident occurred around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock pronounced him dead at East Texas Medical Center in Gun Barrel City.
Reggie Posey, 19, was a longtime resident in the area, according to a friend of the family.
Neighbors living on County Road 2404 said Posey was likely traveling at a high rate of speed just before he went off the roadway and ran into a tree.
The tree bears the marks of the fatal collision, neighbors told The Monitor.
Department of Public Services troopers responded to the call, but were unavailable for comment at presstime.
A funeral service was set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Providence Baptist Church on CR 2403 just off Farm-to-Market 3225 near Tool.

$12M HC jail expansion project delayed five months
Promised functional by mid-June, complete Aug. 8
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–The Templeton Construction manager and the jail expansion project architect were called on the carpet Tuesday before Henderson County Commissioners for what looks to be a five-month delay on the completion of the project.
Commissioners were not at all pleased with the reasons given for the delay in finishing the $12 million project, now set for Aug. 8.
The project originally was to be completed the end of March.
Commissioners were assured that prisoners could be housed in the new part of the jail by mid-June.
Currently, inmates are being housed in nearby county facilities at a cost of $84,000 a month, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
The original plan had prisoners transferred from the current facility to the new one, while work commenced on remodeling the older facility.
However, that plan was thrown off when the masons did not begin and finish their work on time, mostly due to dropping temperatures (masonry work can not be done in under certain temperatures.)
In addition, 12- to 15-man crews were expected, but the subcontractor couldn’t fully man the crew, nor provide a well-versed supervisor for the entire time, construction manager Fred Watkins said. These problems resulted in a 25-day delay.
The site manager also recorded 98 rain days, an extraordinary amount for any 20-month construction schedule, which included 40 inclement weather days.
In addition, subcontractors in Dallas would not come out if they anticipated rain, and were unwilling to come work a shortened week because of rain.
“We had to go out of town. No local contractors were available,” Watkins said.
These were the main reasons construction officials gave for falling more than 137 days behind schedule.
When plans were changed to begin the remodel before the new facility was finished, subcontractors found some issues with the ducting system that called for re-engineering that system, and fabricating new ducting for it in Longview.
Watkins expects the new material to be ready for installation on Monday (tomorrow), he said.
The new ducting system will cost $66,000.
“These are unforeseen problems. They always come up. This is just a larger unforeseen problem than we usually anticipate,” project architect Kenny Burns said.
“We didn’t want to take a chance of it not working, so we had it redesigned,” Burns added.
Commissioners insisted that price come out of the contractor’s contingency fund, and not the county’s.
“Every month of delay costs $84,000,” McKinney repeated.
In other business, commissioners:
• opted to repair leaks to the courthouse dome, estimated to cost $68,000-$75,000, with Wharry Engineering overseeing the repair.
• refused an offer to buy four acres of land adjacent to U.S. Highway 175 at Loop 60E in Larue.
• issued a letter to the Enchanted Oaks Fire Department verifying their compliance with the rural fire suppression contract, even though Enchanted Oaks does not encompass any rural area.
Since the EOVFD comes to the aid of other fire departments to fight rural fires, they were seen to be in compliance.
• agreed to provide labor and equipment valued of up to $5,000 to assist with specific street repairs.
• approved two refunds from the Tax Office.
• approved two plats for recording and refused another. All the plats were in Precinct 2 for Harbor Light Villas II and Pinnacle Club Phase II.
The plat for Singing Oaks was refused, due to 50x100 foot lots. “We haven’t approved lots that small for some time now, and they are well aware of it,” McKinney said.

Notebook computing gets trial at Eustace
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–In the very near future, Eustace students might have their own book-sized laptop computer to use for schoolwork and research.
Eustace Independent School District trustees agreed to purchase 25 of the tiny new laptops from the district’s Dell provider for $9,850 during their regular session April 15.
“These are brand-new little things – I mean, these just came out just a month or two ago,” EISD Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe told the trustees.
Literally the size of a slender textbook, the laptops don’t have a huge built-in memory, but with plug-in hard drives (or flash drives), should be able to handle pretty much any project a student might want to undertake, Holcombe reported.
Holcombe showed two different models to the trustees – one with a built-in camera and one without.
“We would go with these that have a camera,” he said.
As proposed, the initial 25 laptops will be a “trial run” for teachers to use, and later give to students to try out.
“We think that teachers and students will love them,” Holcombe said.
If the laptops prove to be as useful as anticipated, the district will ask for grant funding to purchase more, with the eventual aim of providing laptops to each and every student, at least at the high school level.
In other business, the trustees:
• heard FFA students report activities undertaken by the high school chapter through the current school year.
Students told the trustees chapter members have won numerous awards at livestock shows, including a 1-2-3 sweep of the ag mechanics division at the Henderson County Livestock Show in late February.
A number of local students were able to sell their project animals at auction, bringing big payouts for some, trustees heard.
• witnessed senior Garrett Rhodes getting a scholarship from the Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake as the club’s 4-Way Test speech winner.
• heard Holcombe report the district’s fund balance was still fairly healthy, although some costs were going up faster than expected, particularly the price of fuel.
“In March, we spent $11,000 on diesel,” he said. “Now, that’s a lot.”
Part of the problem is the district’s bus barn can’t take a full tanker load of fuel at one time, which is something that will be addressed with a much larger tank in the planned new facility, Holcombe said.
“We’ll get more interest from vendors when we can say we can hold a whole tanker full of fuel,” he said.
• heard a brief review of TAKS test scores, which were “considerably” higher than the state average in every category.
• accepted the Texas Association of School Boards’ fully funded proposal for workman’s compensation insurance coverage.
For the past few years, TASB’s worker’s comp bids have been undercut by other companies, Holcombe explained.
“This year, TASB came back with very competitive bids,” he added. “We could take their fully funded option, and still cut our budgeted amount in half.”
Under the new TASB proposal, the district could obtain complete coverage for about $29,000, compared to the $35,000 the district set aside this year for claims above the amount covered by the current vendor, Holcombe said.
• heard Holcombe report 1,523 students were enrolled as of that day, or nearly 50 students below the first-day total.
The district’s enrollment may drop over the next couple of years, as the skyrocketing price of gas forces parents to move closer to their Metroplex-area jobs, he said.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Eustace ISD Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe shows the new generation of
student laptop computers, weighing slightly less than 2½ pounds, compared to
six or seven pounds for regular-sized laptops. The school district is buying 25
of the new book-sized computers for testing by teachers and students.


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