police officer arrested
Allegations of drug trafficking raised; abuse of official capacity charged
Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMANA Kemp police officer has been arrested and charged with two counts of Abuse
of Official Capacity.
Officer Damon Smith, 34, of Mabank was arrested late Wednesday, according to a press
release from the Kaufman County Sheriffs Office.
Allegations against Smith include stealing property from the Kemp Police Department and
exchanging the property for drugs.
Smith is also accused of providing known drug dealers in the Kaufman County area with
protection in exchange for methamphetamines that he, in turn, sold.
Further charges are pending as Kaufman County Narcotics Investigators and the Texas
Rangers continue their investigation.
Smith has been employed as a Kemp police officer for the last three years. This was his
first police job, Kemp Police Chief Richard Clemmo told The Monitor.
We have been cooperating fully in the investigation, he said. In fact, the
chief had been looking into these allegations over the past 12 months but could not
substantiate any of it, he said.
Last week, he asked the Texas Rangers to look into it. The complainant had first come to
the mayor, Clemmo said, and Clemmo was working the case with knowledge of the city
The same plaintiff also contacted the Kaufman County Sheriffs Office.
Thats when it started coming together, Clemmo said.
Wednesday night, Clemmo sent a short e-mail to city council members to inform them of the
development and that Smith had been put on administrative suspension until internal
affairs completes its investigation.
The council has been apprised of the situation from the beginning, Clemmo
Smith is being held in the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center. Bail had not yet been
set at presstime Thursday.
takes on Lakeshore Utility
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENSA group fighting against a water and sewer rate increase by the Lakeshore
Utility Company, Inc., has been officially recognized as an interested party in the case.
Texans Against Lakeshore Excessive Rates (TALER) has been working since the beginning of
the year and gained recognition by a State Office of Administrative Hearings judge during
a June 17 preliminary hearing in Athens.
The recognition means the group or more specifically, its attorneys will
have a place at the table during the rate case and will be an active participant in the
Representatives from State Rep. Betty Brown and State Sen. Robert Nichols were on hand, as
well. Both lawmakers have filed legislation in the past two sessions to try and help
customers in these types of rate cases.
TALER president Charles Seawright said he was pleased overall with the way the preliminary
The legislators seemed interested and concerned. They seemed to want to follow the
process very closely, he said. I had hoped they would.
According to Seawright, Lakeshore has about 870 ratepayers and at least 474 of those have
signed on with the group.
Lakeshore serves 26 subdivisions around Cedar Creek Lake, plus two more in Tyler.
The rate case stems from TALERs protest of an increase that went into effect in
The previous rate for 10,000 gallons of water was $65.20 a month and it increased to
$126.50. For 30,000 gallons of water, the rate went from $153.20 per month to $256.50.
Sewer rates went from $42 per month to $53 per month.
The preliminary hearing is the first step in a process that could take as long as a year
to complete. The interested parties have been designated and attorneys have agreed upon a
SOAH Judge Craig Bennett explained to listeners the steps in the process, which include
the referral and preliminary hearing (both have already happened), discovery, mediation,
evidentiary hearing, and judges recommendation to the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioners.
Following an evidentiary hearing, the final decision is made by the three TCEQ
During discovery, the two sides will investigate the facts in the case. The evidentiary
hearing will be much like a trial, if it reaches that point.
But, 75 to 80 percent of these cases get settled without a trial, Bennett
said. The sides usually come to some settlement during mediation, he explained.
Seawright said one thing he didnt like about the preliminary hearing was that
TALERs attorneys did not get to present any of their evidence.
I had hoped our attorneys would have been allowed to present their slide show,
he said. It is a little unfair that the utility could present its position in the
rate filing, and we have not had that opportunity to date.
Several of TALERs members have worked hard gathering information, and as this
information becomes available, our position and why (we are protesting) will become
clear, he said.
Lakeshore staked out its reasoning for the increase when announcing it in a letter to
ratepayers in December.
In the letter to customers, Lakeshore general manager Thomas Joe Whatley wrote that the
increase is (d)ue to the increase of operating costs, required additional
investments in Lakeshore Utility Company Systems, and changing regulatory
Whatley wrote that Lakeshores last increase was in 2006, based on 2005 costs.
Since that time, our cost of service and materials have increased dramatically
(purchased water, electricity, telephone, base material used [ie. PVC, steel, copper,
fuel, etc.]), resulting in a negative cash flow.
We have also concluded that the utilitys cash flow position must be vastly
improved before any changes to our service area may be favorably considered by the
TCEQ, Whatley wrote. We hope that you, our customers, will understand the
necessity for the increase.
First names engraved on veterans memorial
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANKAfter five years of steady effort, engraving began Tuesday at the Veterans
Memorial Gardens at the Lake.
The memorial is located just to the right (west) of the pavilion in Mabanks George
Dean Fannin oversees the first engraving Tuesday at the Veterans Memorial Gardens at the
Lake, just west of the pavilion in George Watts Park in Mabank. See more in their ad on
Four polished black granite wall faces, one each dedicated to those who served with the
U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, will bear the names of 80 veterans
(so far) both living and dead, who have served our country, Dean Fannin explained.
Its important that names are engraved on this wall for future generations to
see that their dad, grandfather, uncle or great-grandfather served their country, he
Fannin added that many fine women have also served in the armed forces, and their names
are welcome, as well.
Theres room for 4,000 names, he said. Each name will include the years served.
Under each branch will list different war eras, starting with World War I and including
the Afghan-Iraq conflict.
Not limited to those from Henderson or Kaufman County, its open to anyone from
anywhere who served in the military during war time.
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Vernon Wagner of Wagner Memorial & Stone Engraving starts the first heading on the
Veterans Memorial Gardens at the Lake.
The folks at First State Bank in Mabank contributed $3,500, which pays for engraving
the branches of the services and the various conflicts.
Were real grateful they chose the Veterans Memorial Gardens to support during
the branchs recent 75th anniversary celebration, Fannin said.
Branch manager and First State Bank vice president Ronnie Davis said the branch decided to
pool its contributions from its employees to a single charity.
We wanted to make a difference, Davis said.
Jim Clark, vice president and loan officer, served in the military during Vietnam. I
was in basic training when Saigon fell, he recalled.
Clark said all of his five uncles also served in the armed forces, one losing his life on
Okinawa June 17, 1945. He hopes to get all their names engraved on the wall.
If you want to celebrate Independence Day by having someones name engraved, who
served in the armed forces, just send the name, branch of service and years served, plus
$125 to Veterans Memorial Gardens, P.O. Box 938, Mabank, TX 75147, or 17584 Country Club
Drive, Kemp TX 75143.
If you dont have a name, but would like to contribute to help someone else post a
name on the wall, donations of any amount are welcome at the same addresses above.