Sunday, July 13, 2008




  City takes second wack
at extended-hour permit

Council agrees, 4-1, to rework extended-hour
liquor sales ordinance

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reporter

GUN BARREL CITY–Gaters owner Billy Odom doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
He asks why and returns to the mayor with a petition of 1,200 names and concessions to meet council members’ specific objections.
And he doesn’t come alone.
Jim Truitt, a liquor distributor based in the city, told the council his sales tax payments are bigger than the sales tax rebate checks received by Caney City.
“If Gun Barrel City is to grow, it needs late-hour operations for clubs. It’s a plus for everyone,” he said during citizens comments at the top of Tuesday’s meeting.
Half the people attending came in support of Odom and his request.
Odom’s logic, persistence and concessions won four votes in favor of rewriting an extended-hours ordinance.
Currently, bars serving alcohol may remain open until midnight Monday through Friday and until 1 a.m. on Saturday.
The council has been asked to extend that time to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Councilman Todd Hogan opposed the action.
“We denied this before. Why are we being asked to look at this again?” he queried.
Mayor Paul Eaton answered that when he’s presented with a petition of 1,200 names, it merits some attention.
Councilwoman Kathy Cochran suggested taking it to a referendum vote in November, since this is an issue polarizing the citizens of Gun Barrel City.
Odom pointed out the runoff election for mayor drew less than 500 voters.
“I don’t think a ballot box would measure the true desires of the city,” he said, though he also admitted that not all 1,200 names were city residents. “I really haven’t had the time to go through them,” he said.
The names were collected in one week’s time by soliciting them at the door of Gaters, it was learned.
Among the concessions Odom made to meet objections included defining entertainment as bands, singers and comedians, and limiting the days to just Friday and Saturday nights plus holidays.
“So, we’re talking about an additional three hours a week,” Odom said.
Some discussion ensued about parking for big events. Odom said he’s negotiating with the owner of 40 acres on the other side of his club and is currently working with the owner of the three acres south of Gaters. The landowner also spoke in support of Odom’s request.
Talk turned to what if other clubs in the city become hot spots should the council approve an extended hours permit.
“Then, they’d have to meet all the same conditions,” Odom answered.
Some of those include providing security in the club and parking lot, having all parking enclosed on the property (not on the street), insulating for noise with certification from a professional sound technician that decibel levels outside the club will remain within city ordinance, and may only serve alcohol during extended hours if live entertainment (bands, vocals or comedian) is provided.
“If it remains as it is, the city will continue to have the same noise and parking problems (at Gaters),” Odom said.
With an extended-hours permit available, Odom has access to investors to help him address these problems in order to meet the conditions.
“Everything we’re trying to do we’re trying to make it better,” he said, adding he hoped to have the parking problem somewhat resolved by the next concert, set for Aug. 2.
Hogan’s opposition centered on the city’s effort to promote a family-oriented community. “Alcohol is a vice. The costs to the city comes after the clubs close down,” he said.
“This is not something that’s going to go away. The other clubs will find it difficult to meet these requirements,” Eaton said.
“We’re not voting on an ordinance tonight,” Cochran said. “We’re just voting on the rewriting of an ordinance for us to review and vote on later.”

City proceeds with land swap
Council refuses to elaborate on closed meeting
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–After a closed session Tuesday Gun Barrel City council members returned to open session and took action to proceed forward on an undisclosed “land swap.”
The Monitor has since learned this means council members agreed to enter into a memorandum of agreement with East Texas Medical Center.
The parties agree to not sell certain parcels of land in the area of the emergency center for a possible land swap.
The hospital operator owns a long narrow strip of land, too narrow to build on, and the city owns a piece the right size for adding a hospital.
However, before a “swap” of properties can occur, the city’s property needs access to a natural gas utility.
“It could take years,” councilwoman Kathy Cochran said.
Latest estimates on providing a natural gas line to the property reaches $1 million, she added.
Council members also decided to deny a request from the Economic Development Corporation to pursue acquisition of 7.2 acres contiguous to the city’s 40-acre parcel, where the recent July 4th Festival was held.
Coldwell Banker agents informed the EDC the property was up for sale with an offer on the table. The buyer would consider $299,000 for the purchase, EDC president Steve Webster said.
That comes to $41,527 per acre for an unimproved parcel with no road to get to it, Cochran said.
“That’s ridiculous. Let the other buyer have it,” she said.
Earlier in the meeting, the EDC request for a resolution was moved to follow after the closed session to discuss purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property and all related issues.
In other business, council members:
• replatted a number of properties, including two in Lakeview Acres and in Loon Bay Subdivision.
• set five public hearings to replat and or rezone certain properties in the city, including the replat of adjoining properties in Timber Trails Subdivision, belonging to Main Street Pentecostal Church in order to put up a portable classroom building; a rezoning request within the Heritage Cove development, which would move the second hotel site closer to Fuddruckers and provide for a multifamily housing project where the second hotel site was to be; combining two lots to accommodate a barn-theme storage building; the replatting of four waterfront lots into three larger house lots; and replatting of two lots in Pleasureland Estates
Hearings are set for Aug. 12.
• ratified the police department’s filing of an application for a Texas Step Grant to reduce the selling of tobacco products to underage persons. The grant is worth $3,000 and has already been granted, investigator Dusty Bryant explained.
• canvassed the votes from the mayor’s runoff election.
• witnessed the administration of the oath of office to Mayor Paul Eaton by retired district Judge Jack Holland.
• bestowed upon Marty Goss a plaque of appreciation for his previous services as a councilman.
• appointed two more people to the Park and Recreation Board.
• made a minor change to the ordinances pertaining to the form and structure of the agenda.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Mayor Paul Eaton (right) presents former councilman
Marty Goss with a plaque of appreciation for his service
to the city. Goss had resigned his seat to run for mayor,
which he lost by 7 votes in a runoff election

Mabank city judge
Sandra Rowan retires

By Pearl Canrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–A come-and- go retirement reception is planned 2-4 p.m. Friday July 18, at Mabank City Hall to say good-bye to municipal judge Sandra Rowan.
Rowan is retiring after 18 years with the city of Mabank, 14 years as its municipal judge.
“The Lord’s led me to this point and I want to see what’s next,” Rowan told The Monitor, adding, “being a judge was never in my plans.”
When Jack Salter was mayor in 1990, there was an opening for a court clerk, she recounts. “He asked me to fill in until they could find someone else. Four years later, well, apparently he didn’t look too hard,” she said.
In those days there were very few traffic citations. Justice of the Peace Ginger Chambless would come in one day a month to prepare a few bench trials, she said.
“She kept trying to convince me to become a judge. She felt it was pointless for the city to pay her to conduct the court’s business when she said I could do it.
“There were no jury trials at that time, most everyone settled out of court and no juevinile cases to speak of, not like now. Just a few traffic and penal code violations. There wasn’t a whole lot going on back then” Rowan remembers.
So she went to school for a week of judges seminars and the rest was on-the-job training.
“I’ve only had one written complaint against my judgement,” she said. “A man accused the city of being a speed trap.
“But we’ve never been dependent on citation revenues to keep the police department running. The water department has always done well,” Rowan said.
Six years ago, juevinile issues started to become more prevalent, she said. She found herself getting too involved in the lives of the suspect children and their parents, so she asked for help.
The city hired Debbie Homer to come in as an associate judge a couple of years ago and now she handles about 150 juvenile cases a year, she said.
“The seniors get senoritis close to graduation,” she explained.
“We do try to work with people. Most people will only ever deal with the municipal court system.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving the community. They may argue with a policeman, but most people are pretty humble when they come to my door,” she said.
Now, it’s time for Rowan to move on to her next stage of life.
“I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and get more involved with my church at Mabank First Baptist.”

Sandra Rowan

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