Sunday, June 3, 2007






  Jetski rider dies after hitting pier
Monitor Staff Reports
DON’S PORT–A Don’s Port Marina employee was killed when his personal watercraft struck a metal pier.
It was not known if John Woodward, 28, died from the impact of his Kawasaki Jet Ski striking the pier late Monday or early Tuesday, or from drowning.
Henderson County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock ordered an autopsy after pronouncing Woodward dead Tuesday afternoon.
Woodward’s body was recovered near Don’s Port Marina about 1 p.m. Tuesday.
The pier is used as a breakwater to avoid high waves in the marina’s docking area.
Woodward, a single father who worked as a bartender in the Tiki Hut, reportedly was heading home (located in a nearby cove) when he struck the pier in the darkness.


Into the dragon’s mouth
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Two soccer players climb into the mouth of a blow-up dragon obstacle course between Tri-County Soccer Association games at Mabank’s George Watts Park May 19.










Council okays salary range for city manager candidates
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City Council members provided guidelines on travel reimbursement and salary range to the city manager search committee during a called session Tuesday.
Search committee chair Harry McCune reported 26 individuals (all male) submitted applications to the committee, which selected 13 early candidates.
Of those 13, five are considered “backup” candidates, to be contacted if no potential finalists are gleaned from the first round of interviews, McCune explained.
One of the initial seven candidates contacted told the committee he would not be interested if the city could not match his current $100,000 salary and benefits package, McCune said, and all agreed that candidate had pretty much withdrawn himself from consideration.
One interview has been held, with four more scheduled Thursday. Committee members said they hoped they would be able to present a list of three to five finalists for interviews by the council soon, possibly by the council’s next regular meeting Tuesday, June 12.
Six of the seven men initially contacted live within 100 miles of the city, McCune reported.
“None of them inquired about reimbursement for travel expenses, and we didn’t mention it, either,” he told the council.
The remaining candidates live between 171 and 1,255 miles away. Those on the wait list live 55, 65, 378 and 1,215 miles away, McCune reported.
Over the course of the 90-minute meeting, council members and committee members discussed travel compensation at length.
McCune said the four men scheduled for interviews Thursday lived “reasonably close” to the city, but noted “some of those who live 800 to 1,000 miles away look very good on paper.”
Following the extended discussion, council members voted unanimously to offer candidates brought in for face-to-face interviews up to $350 for actual travel expenses, based on the current federal rate of 48.5 cents per mile, provided the candidate submits a written invoice.
The discussion touched on the way candidates would be interviewed. Committee member Carol Meyer told council members the committee had planned to have at least four members present at each interview.
During the discussion, all agreed with councilman Marty Goss’ suggestion that candidates be offered their choice of interview options – a conference call or a visual interview through a webcam.
McCune told the council they would be presented a complete packet of information on every finalist, including criminal and credit background checks.
“We are going to give you a packet that will have every resume and every cover letter,” he said, adding, “I’ve got every resume we’ve received right here,” tapping a two-inch-thick folder in front of him.
Turning to salary and benefits, McCune said the one candidate already interviewed never mentioned salary.
Others have submitted minimum salary requirements with their resumes, he said.
Goss said the city was looking to “hire up,” and should be willing to offer more than the $66,000 paid to now-departed city manager Corrin McGrath.
“I was thinking 80 to 100 (thousand),” he said. “We’re looking for city planning experience.”
“The committee will not make an offer,” McCune said. “We just need a range.”
Under the city’s existing salary structure, the city manager’s job pays between $53,000 and $75,000, but Goss pointed out, “There’s money there to make adjustments.”
McCune said one nearby candidate said his current salary was $66,100, plus $8,100 ($675 per month) in vehicle allowance.
The city already provides a vehicle for the city manager, Mayor Paul Eaton noted.
“If you want more, you’ll have to pay more,” committee member Curtis Webster said. “You will eliminate some of those (candidates) if you say you’ll only pay so much.”
“It would be worth $10,000 in salary for having grant (writing) and planning experience,” councilwoman Patsy Black pointed out.
“When we started looking at this before, we were looking at 80-100 just to compete with the other cities (around the region),” Goss said.
Goss added he would be comfortable with telling candidates the salary would be in the $80,000 to $100,000 range.
“If you say 50, they’ll walk away,” he said. “I would say 60 to 80, plus benefits.”
New councilman Todd Hogan said he would be comfortable with offering $60,000 to $80,000.
“I like the idea of tying in experience (to salary),” he said.
McCune said if a candidate brings up the salary/benefits package during the interview, the committee could just ask what the candidate was seeking.
“If he says 65, I can say that’s within our range. If he says 75, I can say that’s within our range,” McCune said. “If he says 95, I can say that’s pushing it.”
Council members indicated they agreed with that approach.
The discussion touched briefly on relocation expenses, and council members indicated they would be willing to work something out with the hired candidate.
“Go with the federal rate – actual moving expenses,” Hogan said.
“I would like to be able to say there’s a relocation allowance,” Webster said. “That could be worked out with the council.”


‘Fill the boot’ drive to benefit MDA
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Ronda Hulse accepts a donation from a young passenger during the Gun Barrel City Fire Department’s “Fill the Boot” drive to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association Memorial Day. The department plans a second drive during the Labor Day holiday.







Architect outlines initial steps for new high school
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–Trustees approved two contracts and listened to the steps Austin architect Randall Fromberg (AT RIGHT) said will get the new high school underway.
Also during Tuesday’s special meeting, Kemp Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Peter Running introduced new dual contract teacher/coach, Peggy Swierc, who will serve as the girls athletic coordinator.
She is the wife of Assistant Superintendent Sam Swierc.
“She will help out a great deal on the athletic side,” Running said.
Trustees approved a $23,000 contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. of Irving for a detailed utilities audit of existing campuses.
Johnson Controls will examine ways to save the district money on water and electricity.
If the company reduces utility costs, the amount saved can be redirected to accomplish other projects, spokesman Jim Swan said.
Once the campus audit is completed, the results will be brought back to the board for consideration of suggested improvements, Swan said.
“In the initial analysis, we found savings could range from $15,000 to $100,000,” Swan said.
Trustees also turned to a private company, Service Solutions, for custodial services.
Privatizing custodial services could save the district approximately $100,000 per year, Running said.
At the May regular meeting, trustees expressed concern about informing current custodial employees about the privatizing plans.
“I met with custodial staff yesterday, and it went very well,” Running explained.
Employees will be retrained in new cleaning methods, plus some cross-training will allow an employee to take up the slack when another employee needs to be absent.
Health insurance for those employees was also a concern. Service Solutions has a self-funded insurance fund.
“A representative from Service Solutions will be coming to the district to explain the options,” Running said.
The contract allows the district to opt out if it is not satisfied, he added.
The last portion of the special meeting was devoted to Fromberg, who outlined initial steps toward the new high school, funded by a $23 million bond issue passed by voters May 12.
“This is the kickoff meeting. We’ll be well acquainted in the next two years,” Fromberg said.
After going over objectives that included advice to keep building community support for the project, have realistic expectations, and make informed decisions and to stick with them, Fromberg laid out beginning steps.
“Myself and three people from my office will be talking with staff,” he said. The quartet will be looking for ideas, advice and needs to be considered.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Fromberg showed trustees three high schools designed by his company.
The first, Johnson City High School, is a Class A school smaller than Kemp, a Class 3A school.

A larger example was the Class 4A Burnet High School, while another smaller school that featured interior classrooms (no windows) was built for the Class 2A Bangs ISD.
Fromberg said he will continue to meet with staff and begin to generate drawings.
The design phase will take about 45 days, he explained.
Once the design is approved, the district will go out for bids.
Bids should go out around February, 2008, and it will take about a year to complete the building once construction begins.
The district is not limited to a “low-bid only” system, Fromberg pointed out. New rulings by the legislature will allow the district to establish criteria for awarding a bid.
He also discussed the need for a project manager, and the difference between that and a construction manager-agent, which allows the district control over bids for sub-contractors.
Trustees could also consider going with a construction manager at-risk, who would handle all bidding, represent the district and guarantee the cost, Fromberg explained.
The board of trustees will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday, June 4.

Peggy Swierc


Mabank Rodeo set for June 8-9
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Festivities for Western Week begins Tuesday with the traditional night of games and the bed race takes place at the pavilion beginning at 6:15 p.m. Teams may sign up with Adams by calling (903) 880-3858. Cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded to the three fastest teams.
The 52nd annual Mabank Rodeo gets underway Friday and Saturday, June 8-9.,
The UPRA and PRCA rodeo will be held in Andrew Gibbs Memorial Arena on Business 175.
Categories include bareback, calf roping, breakaway roping, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies open barrels, novice barrels, bull riding and calf scramble.
Mabank is pleased to have Lynn Bottom of Hat Brand Rodeo Company producing the professional rodeo. Bottom’s reputation attracts many top performers.
“We’re in for a treat this year,” event planner Johnny Adams told The Monitor.
The rodeo begins at 8 p.m. nightly. Tickets for the rodeo are $5 for adults, $3 for children and free for kids under 6.
The Western Week parade begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, starting and ending at the rodeo arena.
The entire Cedar Creek Lake area and surrounding communities are invited to participate with floats, trucks, wagons, horses, mules, (Coggins required) or just walking.
Entries with the best western theme float or wagon will vie for cash prizes: $100, $75 and $50 for top three entries.
Doc Brown has again graciously accepted to serve as grand marshal.
After Saturday’s rodeo performance a street dance at the pavilion is planned with music by local favorite Mike McConathy Jr. and the “Real County Band.” Uncle Bob Milligan, Jimmy Stewart and others are also providing the toe-tapping music.
Western Week, a week of family activities and exhibits celebrating the town’s ranching history.