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  City: ‘Clean up your act, school district’
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City is putting Mabank ISD on notice that it is not going to sit idle, while deteriorating district properties continue to blight its city as eye sores.
On June 24, the council authorized the city to take the matter up with state officials, initially with Rep. Betty Brown and senators Bob Nichols and Dr. Robert Deuell.
“Over the years, Mabank ISD has foreclosed on properties for back taxes,” Councilman Charles Townsend told The Monitor.
The number of such properties in the city now amount to 125, he said.
Many are overgrown with weeds, brush and contain abandoned trailer houses in violation of city ordinances.
“The worst examples of unkept properties in Gun Barrel City are owned by the school district,” he said.
Board trustees have been avoiding compliance with city code by “hiding behind this trustee legality,” he added.
Townsend believes some of the violations have a corresponding state violation and hopes to pursue these with state officials, he said.
Gun Barrel City isn’t the only Cedar Creek Lake community with this problem. Tool and Seven Points also have similar situations, Townsend said.
According to the Henderson County Appraisal District Mabank ISD is the registered owner of about 146 properties in the county.
“We don’t own the property. Knowledgeable people understand that these lots are not owned by the district,” Mabank ISD superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall responded.
“I understand that these abandoned lots are a problem, but trying to place the responsibility to upkeep these lots on the school district is simply unfair and inappropriate,” he added.
He regarded Townsend’s comments as misinformed.
“In fact, if we spent public school funds on these funds, it is probably illegal. We spend our money on educating our children. The only district-owned property in Gun Barrel City is Lakeview Elementary, and it is a show place,” Marshall said.
In fact, Lakeview Elementary is valued at $5,274,740 by the Henderson County Appraisal District. It is one of nearly 150 properties the appraisal district lists under the owner name of Mabank ISD.
“Yes, Mabank ISD is now the owner of those properties and are tax exempt as a property owner,” Lori Fetterman of the appraisal district told The Monitor.
Since the school district is supported through property taxes, it should be in their interest to maintain these properties, Gun Barrel City councilwoman Kathy Cochran said.
“Their rundown condition is negatively affecting property values. If they kept the properties maintained, they’d receive more property tax due to the increased value of neighboring properties and the difference could pay for the mowing,” she explained.
“And what about the children who walk past these properties that are so overgrown? They’ve become a haven for rodents, snakes and the like. Does the school district think about that? I bet if some of these properties were in the same neighborhoods as some of the trustees, they’d see that something was done.”


Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
One of the worst properties listed as being owned by the Mabank school district
is at 126 Maple Leaf St. in Mantle Manors.

Defeated Trinidad council candidate alleges city election irregularities
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

TRINIDAD–A petition filed in 392nd District Court last week asks to have the May 10 Trinidad City Council election overturned and a special election ordered because of irregularities in the way the election was conducted.
Specifically, the petition says that one of the alternate election judges was the sister of one of the candidates, a violation of state law.
In that election, Velma Womack, Betty Terry and Kay Wiggins Hernandez, all incumbents, were returned to their seats on the council. Newcomer Rob Hebrank was the fourth candidate in the race, and was not elected.
Alternate election judge Judy Hernandez is the sister of Kay Wiggins Hernandez.
Texas Election Code 32.054 makes a person “ineligible to serve as an election judge or clerk in an election if the person is employed by or related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity … to an opposed candidate for public office …”
Trinidad Mayor Chris Quinn said the mistake was a simple oversight.
Quinn said Judy Hernandez has been serving as an election official for many years, long before her sister was elected to the council, and no one thought to change that when Kay Wiggins Hernandez chose to run for office.
Both Kay Wiggins Hernandez and Terry are named as defendants in the petition. Womack was not named.
Womack led all candidates in the May election, polling 49 votes. Kay Wiggins Hernandez came in second with 44 votes, Terry had 37, and Hebrank had 33.
Hebrank is the plaintiff in the petition. He declined to comment on the petition this week.
The petition alleges “one or more of the following occurred” during the election:
• Eligible voters were subject to undue influence or persuasion;
• Violation of election code requirements was tantamount to fraud;
• Illegal conduct was present during the course of the election;
• The voting tally was conducted in an illegal and suspect manner;”
• The outcome of the election would have differed but for the illegal conduct of the parties.
In addition to the new special election, the petition asks for citations to be issued to the defendants and that the plaintiff be awarded all court costs and attorneys fees, “and all such other relief that he may be entitled to under the law or in equity.”
Hebrank’s attorney, Stephen Evans of Palestine answered questions by e-mail.
Womack was not named because, “The election code provides that any or all of the other candidates are potential defendants, but where those candidates may have vote totals that are within the realm of suspect, or inappropriate election conduct or vote count, then those candidates should properly be joined in an election contest,” Evans wrote.
“The remaining candidate (Womack) did not have any apparent connection with the known violation, and her vote totals do not appear to be suspect,” Evans added.
“We would encourage anyone with knowledge of such events to contact my office in that regard,” he writes.
Evans wrote that the next step in the process, after the defendants respond, will be for a special visiting judge to be appointed.

TVCC offers freshman orientation
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Navigating paperwork can be a challenge for students attending college for the first time, but Trinity Valley Community College has a cure for the confusion.
TVCC is offering freshman orientation sessions in July and August.
The one-day sessions can make all the difference for incoming students, director of guidance services Linda Daniel said.
“The programs are designed to give new students a first-hand look at college life,” Daniel added.
Students in freshman orientation sessions get to spend a day on campus getting some special attention.
Students are walked around the campus and get the chance to ask questions about important issues such as navigating financial aid, attending student activities and learning vital rules to attending college.
“Freshmen at orientation also have a better chance of getting the classes they want, because they get to go through the registration process,” Daniel said.
Students will get to talk to counselors and other faculty members without the rush of registration happening around them.
Oftentimes, lines at counseling and financial aid can be long during registration.
Freshman orientation is open to any 2008 high school graduate, any freshman who has never attended college and any student who has fewer than 12 semester hours of credit.
For the convenience of the students, two separate sessions have been planned on the Athens campus.
Session I will be held July 24 with a reservation deadline date of July 10.
Session II will be held Aug. 14 with a reservation deadline date of July 31.
Total cost for each session is $20 for orientation on the Athens campus.
The fee includes a lunch and program materials.
A check, money order or credit card information for the total amount must accompany the reservation form.
Forms can be picked up at the college in the counseling or school relations offices.
If a student decides not to attend the orientation, the fee is non-refundable.
The TVCC campuses in Palestine and Terrell will both hold freshman orientation Aug. 12. Orientation on those two campuses is free of charge.
Students interested in orientation must provide:
• THEA, Q-THEA, COMPASS, ASSET or ACCUPLACER test results if the student plans to seek a two-year degree,
• High school transcript stamped with final graduation date,
• Application, and
• Residency forms.
For more information on freshman orientation, call (903) 675-6350 or (903) 675-6204 for Athens, (903) 729-0256 for Palestine and (972) 563-9573 for Terrell.

 

Come Adopt Us At
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake

My name is Nelson. I am a beautiful male Dachshund. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. So far, I seem pretty laid back and gentle. I am a wonderful boy looking for my new forever home.

My name is Oreo. I am a beautiful female black Lab. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I seem to get along with other dogs. I need help with leash training. I have been started on my shots and need to be fixed. I am a beautiful girl looking for my new home.

We are a whole litter of Shepherd mix babies. We were brought to the shelter by animal control, so we have no history. We have been started on our first set of shots. We are good kids looking for our new forever homes.

I am a beautiful Border Collie, who is four months old, or so. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I have not been at the shelter long, so not much is known about me. I am a beautiful kid looking for a new home.

Pictured are just a few animals at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points in dire need of a good home. Please call or stop by the Humane Society today and rescue one of these forgotten animals. The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is located on 10220 County Road 2403 in
Seven Points. For more information, please call (903) 432-3422 after 11 a.m.
We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

For further information visit our website at petfinder.com


 


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