Sunday, July 12, 2009




  Lawmakers honor Bettis
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–A month after winning the gold medal in the Class 3A 100 meter hurdles at the state track meet, Sharda Bettis was honored by the area’s state and federal legislators Thursday.
The incoming Kemp High School senior received an official Texas resolution signed and presented by State Rep. Betty Brown, and congressional aide Richard Sanders presented Bettis with a certificate signed by U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
State Rep. Betty Brown (right) reads an official resolution Thursday honoring incoming Kemp High School senior Sharda Bettis (left) for winning a gold medal at the state track meet June 6. Congressional aide Richard Sanders (background) awaits his turn to present Bettis with a certificate signed by U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling during a brief ceremony at Kemp High School.

At the time, KHS coaches were not sure if Bettis had made school history – they were sure she set a new school record with her time, 14.53 seconds – but it appears now she did make history.
“As far as my research can determine, she is the first (KHS athlete) to win the gold medal at state,” girls athletic coordinator and track coach Peggy Swierc said Thursday.
Brown told Bettis she was happy to honor a youngster for such a positive achievement after reading the resolution aloud, and Sanders echoed her sentiments, noting Hensarling was proud to recognize her accomplishment.
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
State Rep. Betty Brown (center right) presents incoming Kemp High School senior Sharda Bettis (center left) with an official Texas resolution honoring her for winning the gold medal in the Class 3A 100 meter hurdles at the state track meet Thursday. Witnessing the presentation were (from left, front row) KHS head coach and athletic director Greg Anderson, track coach and girls’ coordinator Peggy Swierc, guardian Sandra Sterling and The Monitor general manager Susan Harrison; (back row) congressional aide Richard Sanders, assistant superintendent Sam Swierc, superintendent Dr. Peter Running and KHS principal Kurt Schumacher.

Bettis’ win at state capped a spring filled with heartache, as her father died shortly after the Christmas break and boyfriend Nick Lane (a 2008 KHS graduate) died in a tragic fall during spring break.
She dedicated her efforts in their memory, setting a new school record (14.6 seconds) at the Region II track meet in Commerce, and then breaking that record at the state meet, winning by more than a stride over Stafford’s Jasmine Oyewuml, who was second in 14.82 seconds.
Bettis was clearly overwhelmed by all of the acclaim Thursday morning, saying little, but wearing a huge grin.
When asked if she had gotten any rest yet this summer, she said no.
“I may try,” she added. Volleyball practice opens in just three weeks, Monday, Aug. 3.


Horse trading in progress
Isaiah Robertson, troubled youth educator, seeks reprieve on water bill
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–It was a night of horse trading at Tuesday’s Mabank City Council meeting.
Council members told a water customer that it would negotiate a $2,100 water bill, if it could be proven the leak was a result of a firefighting effort.
Council members also agreed to swap property with a real estate agent, and promised $100 toward a grant application seeking support for public transport in the area – if nine other cities also put up $100.
The deal the council had no trouble accepting was $350,000 in federal economic stimulus funds to finance improvements to the city’s sewer plant.
“I’ll take that deal,” councilman Tim Johnson said without hesitation. His motion was just as quickly seconded, and passed unanimously.
Utility supervisor Ronnie Tuttle produced a list of materials and equipment he plans to purchase, totaling $353,000.
The city’s grant match will go through Grant Administration Services, which will oversee the Office of Rural Community Affairs grant for sewer improvements. The council also agreed to award a contract for project engineering services when the time comes.
Isaiah Robertson petitioned the council to “give him grace” on a $2,140.20 water bill.
Robertson argued that the leak likely was caused by a grass fire that spread from the highway to a storage trailer on his property, which “burned to the ground.”
Robertson was away from the property when these events occurred, he said, adding “none of it was his fault.”
A water meter reader shut off water to the property when he saw the needle spinning. City staff left a message at Robertson’s office about the incident, which Robertson denies ever receiving.
City administrator Louann Confer agreed to track down the exact sequence of events, checking with the Gun Barrel City Volunteer Fire Department, who responded to the March fire.
Robertson argued since he has contributed a great deal to the city, by means of educating troubled youth, he ought to get a break.
Council members countered that as administrators of the public trust, they could not simply give away city property, such as treated water.
“What seems fair to you?” Mayor Larry Teague asked.
Robertson suggested he pay $300 and the city forgive the rest. Teague suggested the terms be reversed, with Robertson paying the larger sum.
“We’ll work with you, as we do with everyone for whom this situation would present an undue hardship,” Teague said. “You and staff can meet and come up with a payment schedule that you can afford.”
Confer told Robertson the water can be turned back on, if Robertson installs a shut-off valve on his side of the meter, a payment plan is put in place and a $50 deposit provided.
“If that leak occurred before the fire, what will you do?” Mitch Odom asked.
“I’ll pay every penny and not trouble you further,” Robertson answered.
Robertson also informed the council that he has been named president of the Dallas chapter of retired NFL players, noting his work keeps him on the road a good bit of the time.
“I plan to deed the property to the Christian Life Center. I just don’t want to leave them a $2,100 water bill,” he said.
Jim Ragsdale, the new owner of a block of six lots bordered by Glenwood, Second and Pine streets, asked the city to vacate a 20-foot alley dividing the block in half.
“I bought me a lemon, and now I’m trying to make lemonade out of it,” Ragsdale said.
He’s trying to market the property to a developer for a nursing home or possibly a childcare center, he said. The alley going down the center of the property presents a problem.
The city agreed to trade the alley for 10 feet of easement along the outside of the property, along Pine and Glenwood streets.
Golden Oaks resident James Crowhurst requested the city council assist him with grant applications to fund a small public transit system in the area.
He told council members of several grants from the Texas Department of Transportation, the USDA, and the Texas Enterprise Fund.
Crowhurst asked for $1,000 for a nonrefundable application fee. The council agreed to give him $100, if he can get nine other cities to agree to also contribute $100.
In other business, council members:
• adopted an ordinance pertaining to identity theft prevention.
“It’s similar to what we are doing already,” Confer said. “It’s just accepting TML’s guidelines. There are no additional costs to the city.”
The program outlines ways to prevent someone from using a fictitious name to obtain water/sewer services, or be able to discontinue service on behalf of someone else, she explained.
• heard staff reports.

County moves ahead on attorney Combs’ case
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Monday, after a two-hour closed session, Kaufman County commissioners voted to file for a rehearing in the case of Kaufman County versus attorney Jo Ann Combs.
The case stems from Sept. 9, 2004, when Combs filed against the county for a sum of approximately $150,000.
Prior to the filing, she had appeared in commissioners court with a claim stating the county owed the money for her service as guardian of the estate of Joseph Darst, had exceeded the worth of the estate.
Therefore, she said, the county (taxpayers) was responsible for the remaining debt.
At the time, commissioners declined, so Combs sued the county for the amount.
Her guardianship of the estate in question began in July, 1994.
County Judge Wayne Gent declined to eleborate, noting the matter is still in litigation.
In other business, commissioners:
• tabled awarding the annual contract for a dust control, soil stabilizer product for all precincts.
“Since the price of oil (main ingredient in the control product) has gone sky high, we are looking for another product,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller said.
Other stabilizers, made from reclaimed products and other materials, are currently being considered, purchasing agent Jack Sebastian and Deller said.
The county is already trying out one such product.
“Precinct 3 Commissioner J. C. Jackson has had some down for a month,” Deller said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Jerry Rowden said he was ready to try the material and Deller said he is going to give it a try on his own road.
The stabilizer contract will be on the Monday, July 13, agenda, it was announced.
• approved an interlocal agreement with Precinct 1 and the city of Oak Ridge.
• approved an interlocal agreement for subdivision regulations for the city of Oak Ridge.
• acknowledged receiving a copy of the certificate of completion for Jackson, on the open meetings seminar from the Attorney General’s office.
• presented Leadership Kaufman County plaques to county clerk Laura Hughes and Assistant Chief Deputy Troy Graham for the completion of the 2008-09 Leadership Council Program.
• accepted the Precinct 4 commissioner’s annual road report.
• approved the deputation of Bruce M. Ragsdale and George C. Shamlin II, for the Sheriff’s Department.
• approved a request from Embarq to install buried communications cable on County Road Reese Road, Precinct 1.
• approved budget transfers as presented by auditor Hal D. Jones.
• paid bills totaling 234,650.01.

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