Sunday, July 6, 2008

     

 

 

 

City claims a say on sour gas
well permit

Payne Springs City Council extends gas and oil drilling ordinance to include ETJ
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS–The Payne Springs City Council approved extending its gas and oil ordinances to include its extraterritorial jurisdiction 3-1, with councilman Carl Powell abstaining.
The BlackBrush Co. drill site is located 27 feet outside the city limits and within the half-mile ETJ.
The city’s ordinance requires operators to obtain a license from the city before drilling – and now it applies to its ETJ as well.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to explore or engage in any operations of any kind for exploration for oil and gas or any other mineral within the city limits of Payne Springs, including the city’s ETJ,” a portion of the ordinance now reads.
“This will bring to the council of Payne Springs the final word on whether there will be a drilling permit issued,” Mayor J.T. Noble explained.
Councilmen Odell Terrell made the motion and Vic Brazzell confirmed it. Rodney Renberg voted aye. Councilmen Lynn Sorrell opposed and Powell abstained.
“Was this run past the city lawyer?” Powell asked. Noble said it had. “The Ts have been crossed and the Is dotted,” he said.
When Noble opened the floor to public comment, Del Mar resident Travis Poe strongly objected to allowing any drilling. “Please base your decisions on what the people of Payne Springs want. This affects our property values and our safety,” Poe said.
“Within 10 days of a permit application a town meeting will be called so all may have a say,” Noble said.
Enchanted Oaks Mayor Don Warner informed the packed hall of his council’s recent action in sending a letter to the Railroad Commission of Texas.
The letter asked the state to hold a public meeting on this issue before ruling on the permit. “I was contacted by phone that the commission would take our letter under advisement,” Warner reported.
“Most of us are concerned. If there were a leak on that corner, there is no escape for residents of Enchanted Oaks,” he said.
As of Wednesday, the San Antonio-based BlackBrush Oil and Gas Co. has not applied for a drilling permit on the east side of the lake, according to the Railroad Commission website.
“They’ve already made a road and laid a pad site,” shouted an audience member.
“There’s no law against making a road and laying some concrete,” Noble answered.
Terrell stood to make his comments, encouraging everyone to get their friends and neighbors to attend the public meeting the city may call on this issue.


Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
People clustered in small groups to continue the discussion following a special
city council meeting held in Payne Springs Monday to extend the city’s authority
into its extraterritorial jurisdiction as it pertains to oil, gas and mineral exploration
and drilling. Residents of Star Harbor and Enchanted Oaks helped pack the meeting room.

No emergency over county
fuel bills, yet

Commissioners resist declaring an emergency to dip into reserve funds, even though Sheriff’s Department has used 80 percent of its fuel budget
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners took no action to declare an emergency to release reserve funds for the Sheriff’s Department, fire marshal, constables and precinct Road and Bridge funds.
The items comprised the bulk of Tuesday’s agenda items.
With the swift rise in gasoline prices, the Sheriff’s Department has used about 80 percent of its fuel budget, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
“I think we need to wait two or three months,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West said. “We’re not going to let them run out,” he added.
West also argued other line items could be used to boost its fuel budget.
Numbers prepared by the county auditor showed the Sheriff’s Department started with $165,000 in January and was down to $107,000 by the end of May.
They’re spending about $25,000 a month, assistant auditor Debra Flowers said.
“The Sheriff’s Department can’t go longer than two months longer before they’ll be out of money,” Flowers warned.
“It’s against the law to run it into the negative,” she added.
“We’ve never let anyone run out of fuel, maintenance or whatever,” West countered. “If you look at everyone’s budget, they still have money. If done now, it sort a like we’re padding their budget.”
The county auditor’s office is preparing an audit to document milage and gas usage, Flowers injected.
“This is a large enough issue to declare an emergency,” McKinney said. “The doubling of fuel cost is a legitimate cause to call an emergency.”
The amount to be distributed in the fuel budgets of the various constables, Sheriff’s Department and Fire Marshal totaled $98,005, with $92,620 earmarked for the Sheriff’s Department.
However, no motion was made, so no action was taken.
Similarly, an item specifying amounts to precincts’ road material and fuel line items under Road and Bridge accounts met with no action.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall moved to approve $116,182.11 for road material in his precinct.
“I think we ought to accept our road material money,” Hall said.
However, the motion died for lack of a second.
Hall told The Monitor, the failing of the measure means he won’t be able to accept any new big jobs, but nothing more will change.
“I’ve saved my road material money by doing my own hauling,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said. McKinney has also changed the way he does things, in order to conserve road material, but has been burning more fuel as a result.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved interlocal agreements with the cities of Enchanted Oaks, Malakoff, Trinidad, Tool and Coffee City, as well as school districts in Brownsboro, Malakoff and LaPoynor concerning the use of electronic voting machines.
Commissioners asked elections director Denise Hernandez to run the numbers to see if the county could up the rental fee from the minimum of $100 per day without going over the break even point.
• accepted reimbursement of $19, 183.16 from the city of Seven Points for road material.
• approved budget amendments as presented.
• paid bills totaling $352,212.55.

The Texas Press Association
recognizes The Monitor with awards

Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The Texas Press Association awarded high marks to The Monitor and The Malakoff News during its recent awards banquet in Arlington.
The Malakoff News took first place in both Headline Writing and Page Design in its division in the Texas Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest.
The Monitor was awarded first place in Sports Photo, second in both News Photo and Feature Photo, and fourth in both Feature Writing and Sweepstakes (points earned overall).
For the second year in a row photojournalist Kerry Yancey took the top award for sports photo with “Shortstop” and “Desperate reach” (seen above). One judge called “Desperate reach” the perfect shot – “ball in tight, kids faces complete this tremendous photo.” The field of entries was quite competitive.
“As a veteran photojournalist, Kerry Yancey continues to capture the spirit of the community in every picture he takes,” general manager Susan Harrison said.
“Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t call or tell me how much they enjoy the high-quality photos included with our sports coverage,” managing editor Pearl Cantrell said. “Kerry is one of The Monitor’s strongest assets.”
Cantrell also was among the awardees, placing second for news photos featuring the air-lifting of Randall Wayne Mays and wounded sheriff’s deputy Kevin Harris, and for a photo recording a community’s grief over the incident that resulted in the death of two Henderson County Sheriff’s deputies and wounding of a third.
She also placed fourth for her articles titled “Morse quads to graduate” and “Teaching with distinction ... Local resident teaches medical transcription to the disabled on the Internet.” See related story on page 7A.
“Pearl Cantrell’s vast experience adds to the quality of the news we are able to feature in each issue of the newspaper,” Harrison said.
As a whole, The Monitor ranked fourth in its division of small semi-weekly newspapers statewide for overall excellence.
“The Monitor is extremely fortunate to have Pearl Cantrell, as managing editor, and Kerry Yancey, as sports editor, on staff. Both are remarkably gifted journalists. Our editorial staff is one of the best in the area,” Harrison said.
And from the readers ...
“Congratulations to The Monitor staff for their award-winning efforts,” past publisher Jim McKee, now a paramedic in Mabank writes. “They are to be commended for their tireless efforts to provide our community the best in reporting, features, sports and photography. They are diligent in setting the standard for others to follow. Keep up the great work!”
“The Monitor is very progressive and inclusive of all the diversity in the community, and the reader is kept informed of important events in the region,” Eustace resident Sondra McAdams, with the American Indian Cultural Society, said.
“I’m so pleased to hear that The Monitor and Malakoff News staffs are once again being recognized for outstanding work in their field,” Cedar Creek Lake Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom said. “I’m not surprised. The Monitor and the folks who work there consistently demonstrate responsible reporting, they put out an outstanding, quality publication and exhibit integrity on all levels. The Monitor team obviously cares about the community and has a great deal of pride in the work they do.”
 


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