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Top News

New road opens
Mabank finishes new thoroughfare from Post Office to 9th Street to Business 175
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Members of the Mabank City Council approved the placement of stop and speed limit signs on a new roadway connecting E.L. Groom Parkway with the Ninth Street extension.
Posting the signs was expected to begin Wednesday, May 9, and take two days to complete.
A four-way stop is planned, where Walnut Street intersects with Ninth and Greer Road in addition to four more stop signs, where Andrew and E.L. Groom meet the new thoroughfare.
Four posted speed limit signs will say 30 mph and four curve arrows will indicate major bends along the mile long corridor.
“This is going to become a very busy thoroughfare,” streets supervisor Ronnie Tuttle said.
Once the signs are up , the road can be opened to traffic. Tuttle also said he plans two coats of hot oil and gravel for the roadway.
He expects the road to open early this week.
Also on Monday, possible names for the new road were discussed. Since much of the right away was donated by the Wilson family, councilwoman Shannon Steakley felt Wilson Way was an appropriate name.
Another suggested name is Betty Wilson Street. City staff are to check with 9-1-1 addressing on both names, and the name proposal is to be discussed at the next meeting.
The council also adopted two ordinances, one pertaining to peddlers, solicitors and vendors and the other approving municipal court fee to transport those picked up on Class C warrants in other counties.
Police chief Kyle McAfee said the counties have turned over all transports back to the city where the warrant originated. The change took effect in February. Suspects must be picked up within 24 hours.
State law allows up to $25 for this fee and the council unanimously approved it to defray the transportation costs.
Vendors and peddlers will not only have to gain a permit to operate within the city, new fees are also being applied.
A permit for 72 hours costs $25 for each solicitor in the event. A 30-day permit costs $50 and an annual permit is $200. Exemptions apply for locally-based non-profits and vendors associated with a special event approved by the city council
The solicitor must apply for the permit by providing the city with state-issued identification, state tax certificate, contact information, goods or services to be sold, detailed location description, written permission from the property holder and possibly vehicular information, period of time business will be conducted.
Penalties if convicted of the misdemeanor charge is a fine between $100 and $300 for each offense per day.
In other business, council members:
• denied the rate increase sought by Atmos Energies. The city is negotiating along with 441 other cities on an adjusted rate increase. Atmos has filed a rate case to increase rates system-wide by nearly $50 million.
• amended the budget as requested by Tuttle and the city secretary to accommodate the purchase of a one-ton gas-powered truck with extended cab and utility bed and a 93-horsepower John Deere Tractor with front-end loader through the Buy Board; also to meet an increase in health and general liability insurance premiums, as well as the final payment to IESI for trash service.
Fairy Gonzalez reported that the costs for the city to haul its own garbage, something it started Jan. 1, has saved the city $20,000.
• noted four expressions of appreciation to the city’s police department. One came from the Forney Police Department for help rendered during the April 3 tornado; another noted the above and beyond assistance given to a family from Oklahoma who found themselves in dire need; a third included a check for $100 from the Friends of Tri-County Library and the last one thanked police for rendering aid when their vehicle was broken down on the side of the road.
“I appreciate Kyle McAfee for his demeanor and example he sets for the entire department,” councilman Tim Johnson said.

 

City closes police department
In a sudden move, Kemp dismisses its officers to keep city solvent
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–As of Wednesday morning, the city of Kemp no longer had a police department, and in approximately 30 days, the municipal judge will also be let go.
The action was taken in order to save money the city needs to remain financially solvent due to its “ serious budget constraints,” Mayor Donald Kile explained.
The city council meeting was held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, an hour earlier than normal. Even though it was posted on the agenda the required 72 hours prior to the meeting, many citizens straggled in late, including former councilman Todd Weber and the city’s attorney Terry Welch.
Welch said he had not received a call notifying him of the change in meeting time.
Barely 30 minutes into Tuesday’s council meeting, the members went into a closed session that lasted more than two hours.
Upon returning to open session, council members voted unanimously to immediately disband its police department.
The police department consists of the chief, Richard Clemmo, four “regular” and 10 “reserve officers,” charged with the safety of its approximately 1,200 residents and those who live in the surrounding area.
All the officers lost their jobs.
“We know this is a very tough situation for several of our city employees and we terribly regret that these actions had to be taken, but the city’s financial situation has deteriorated to such an extent that immediate measures were necessary,” Kile stated.
“We hope they understand the reasons for this action and will be supportive even though they are directly impacted by these actions,” he added.
Another person directly impacted by Tuesday’s decision is Regina Kiser, Kemp’s municipal judge.
She will remain employed for 30 more days, until Friday, June 8, to give her time to clear up her current caseload.
A second action taken involved the ongoing negotiations with West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District (WCCMUD).
The council authorized the mayor and city administrator, Charles Fenner, to work on an agreement by which WCCMUD could take over the day-to-day operations of the Kemp Municipal Water System.
“While we the lawyers and financial specialists will get together ... I am confident an agreement will be reached that is acceptable to both the city and the WCCMUD directors,” Kile said.
Fenner said the next few weeks may seem somewhat odd and said, “I hope citizens understand and trust that we are working diligently to address the matters as quickly as possible.”
And as a final comment, Kile added, “We did what we had to do.”
The county will provide law enforcement for the city, Kile said.
Kaufman County sheriff David Byrnes sent a news release addressing the issue.
“I would like the citizens of Kemp to know that the Sheriff’s Office will continue to answer calls in the city of Kemp,” he said.
Citizens of Kemp are advised to call 9-1-1, and their call will be handled in a timely manner. For a non emergency they can call (972) 932-4337, and they will be routed to the appropriate department, Byrnes explained.
Clemmo said Tuesday’s council action “came out of nowhere.”
“There was no discussion with department heads and it has left four full time officers without jobs. They could have let us know this was in the works,” he explained.
His employee budget for the year was $180,000, of which about seven months have already passed, Clemmo said.
Clemmo told The Monitor, that he and Sgt. (John) Law worked the remainder of Tuesday night until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning to prepare the station to be left in a safe condition.
Clemmo said he has been fielding calls from citizens trying to make sense of the action.
“The support from the community toward me has been wonderful. It has been that way the entire time I have been working for Kemp,” he said.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve my home community in this capacity and it is regrettable the city is in such a state that our services had to be terminated,” Clemmo said.
In other business, council members:
• heard a complaint from the Rev. Juwan Seigle, Pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Seigle recalled the details of the night he was arrested for an incident involving a “defective tail light.”
He asked that something be done (to correct the policy that allows the actions).
• heard Diana Clemmo, speaking for the Becker–Jiba (Water company) and turned down suggested negotiations between Kemp and Becker-Jiba.
“We will help if needed,” she concluded.
• denied a proposed rate hike by Atmos Energy.
Other cities served by the company have also turned down the hike and have asked Kemp to do the same, Kile said.

 

 

 

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