Sunday, June 22, 2008





Henderson County Peace Officers Association
holds annual memorial services

Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–About 200 people attended the Henderson County Peace Officers annual memorial Tuesday at the northwest corner of the Courthouse Square.
The event, usually held mid-May, was postponed a month due to the trial of Randall Wayne Mays, who was found guilty of capital murder in the shooting deaths of two sheriff’s deputies last year.
Their names – Paul S. Habelt and Tony P. Ogburn – were added to the list of those killed in the line of duty on the wall of honor, joining the names of Charlie Fields Sr., K.C. Winn, Larry Hopson and Bernie Everett.
The widows, Patricia Ogburn and Nita Habelt, placed a memorial wreath to honor the fallen.
Peace Officers Association president Deputy Sheriff Billy Jack Valentine said as a youth he looked up to many of the men whose names are now on the wall of honor.
Third District Court Judge Mark Calhoun gave the keynote address.
He spoke of the video tape played during Mays’ trial and of a conversation between officers and Mays in trying to persuade him to come quietly.
“I was absolutely blown away by the level of competence and professionalism shown on that day,” he said.
“I was especially struck by the comment made by Deputy Tony Ogburn to Randall Mays. He said, ‘Isn’t this a beautiful day?’” Calhoun said.
Ogburn, Habelt and Valentine were among the first officers responding to a domestic disturbance call near Payne Springs, just hours after last year’s May 17 peace officer memorial service. .
The incident punctuates the fact that those in law enforcement may die any day they put on the uniform, he said.
“Today, we honor their service and take pride in all of their stories,” Calhoun said.
Also honored with their names added to the wall as law enforcement members who have died were:
• past Malakoff Police Chief George M. Corn, who died of cancer in 2004, and
• Dr. Nolen D. Geddie.
A one-time Henderson County constable and staunch

Monitor photo illustration/Pearl Cantrell and Linda Holt
Widows Nita Habelt (left) and Pat Ogburn place the memorial wreath at the wall of honor.

The names of Paul S. Habelt
and Tony P. Ogburn are added
to the wall of honor.

Trustees examine enrollment, budget
Rising gas prices cause families to move
closer to Metroplex

By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Reports

EUSTACE–Higher property values and lower enrollment may be putting a squeeze on next year’s Eustace Independent School District budget.
Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe told trustees property value estimates used to create the first draft of the fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget were pretty close – off by only $2 million on an estimated total value of $471 million.
“That’s a pretty sizeable increase in tax values,” Holcombe pointed out.
The Henderson County Appraisal District may again sue the state, which is saying the EISD’s values are still not high enough, Holcombe reported.
Because the original values estimate was so close, the current budget draft presented to the trustees at Tuesday night’s regular session did not have any changes to the estimated tax revenue.
However, Holcombe said he has lowered the district’s ADA (average daily attendance) number, based on a lower enrollment.
“It would not surprise me at all to start with less than 1,500,” he said. There were 1,503 students enrolled on the last day of school in May, and enrollment declined by 20 students during April and May.
Holcombe said he had been approached by a number of families who were having to move closer to the Metroplex, as the high cost of gas is making a long commute economically unjustifiable.
That lower ADA means the loss of about $380,000 in state revenue. Some judicious paring has reduced the disparity between estimated revenue and expenses to around $26,000 or so.
“We’re going to have to make some painful decisions,” Holcombe told the trustees. “We’ve had six years where we’ve had plenty of money. This year, we’re not going to be doing without, but there’s not going to be a lot of extra money around.”
Realistically, the only way to increase revenue – outside of a property tax rate increase, not a desired option – is to gain enrollment, and some school districts are doing away with transfer fees to entice new families.
Brownsboro ISD is not only dropping its transfer fee, “they are, quote, actively recruiting students from south Tyler,” Holcombe reported.
Athens, Van and Kemp have all dropped transfer fees, Holcombe added.
“I want the board to have all options, and one option to consider having more students through transfers,” he said. “However, if you get only a few, you could lose a lot of money in transfer fees.”
In other business, the trustees:
• approved a district-wide safety audit.
During the last school year, representatives from each campus evaluated safety measures on their own campus, and also visited other campuses, Holcombe said.
One major need is to replace older doors in the high school with newer doors.
“None of the old doors have ‘panic bars’,” Holcombe said. “It would be nice to put in storefront doors, like we did at the junior high.”
Additional security cameras are needed in the new high school gym, now under construction, and the new building will also create the need to cover some areas with external cameras, he said.
• accepted the bid from Student Accident Insurance on student insurance coverage.
Last year, Baker Insurance submitted a much better bid, but SAI came back with a bid $7,000 lower than last year, Holcombe reported.
• approved Service Center contracts as recommended.
• accepted a $1,000 bid on one property, but took no action on a bid for a second tract.

Lane closures expected
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Motorists on State Highway 198 through Mabank should expect lane closures starting Tuesday.
Flagmen will be posted between Mason Street and U.S. 175 while drainage structures are being installed.
Also, traffic barrels will begin lining up along SH 198 in preparation for closing the center turn lane several weeks from now, according to TxDoT project manager Gary Whitton.
“Drive carefully and plan for delays in transit times,” Whitton said.
The $7 million public works project will channel storm water away from the city and widen SH 198 from Glenwood through U.S. 175 to five lanes.
The two-year project is expected to be completed in June, 2010.

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