Sunday, July 29, 2007







 City changes  attorneys, names Dallas law firm
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City council reconvened after a closed session Tuesday to name a new city attorney.
William W. Krueger III and Kevin M. Curley of Fletcher & Springer out of Dallas will guide the city through any future legal questions.
Krueger III is the same lawyer who successfully represented the city in its suit against Seven Points in a dispute over extraterritorial jurisdiction boundaries two years ago.
Earlier, the council gratefully accepted a donation of a 2000 Playcraft 25-foot pontoon boat.
Fire Marshal Joey Lindaman had put the word out to Lynn’s Marine if it came across a used pontoon boat cheap, or in need of a home, to give him a call.
Lindaman described himself as “crafty when it comes to boats,” and was confident he could bring a less than perfect boat up to standards.
A few days later, Lynn’s gave him a call.
Tim Cornwell of Streetman was relocating his family to Omaha, Neb., and needed to get rid of a pontoon boat.
The Cornwells agreed to donate it to the fire department as a rescue and recovery vessel, Lindaman said.
The only thing the fire department needs to purchase is a trailer.
Texas Hydro Sports has agreed to a sell a trailer at cost to the fire department, Lindaman said.
The funds for special purchases such as this are available in the department’s special fund, city secretary Christy Eckerman said.
Lindaman plans to conduct training on the boat once a week.
Where to house the boat is still under consideration.
At one time, the fire department kept a boat at Big Chief Landing on a boat dock the department raised funds for and built, but that was discontinued and the dock reverted to Big Chief, Lindaman said.
“I haven’t gotten to talk to the present owner about this, yet,” Lindaman said.
“I’d like to see it kept in the water,” Councilwoman Patsy Black said.
“That would save a lot of time when it comes to responding to water rescues,” Lindaman agreed.
The motion to accept the donation, made by Todd Hogan, included recognizing the donor with a note of appreciation.
The council also revised two agreements with resolutions.
One was with the S.O. Sportsplex and the other with newly dubbed city manager Gerry Boren.
Boren’s official beginning date has been pushed up four days to Monday, Aug. 6.
Until then, he will be on-call, should the city need his expertise, while he attends a week-long seminar.
Boren and his family spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday house-hunting in the area.
A reception is planned for the new city manager from 5-6:30 p.m. Aug. 6 in Brawner Hall. Citizens and friends of Gun Barrel City are welcome to attend.
The second resolution was sought by Stephen Orsak for S.O. Sportsplex’s performance agreement with the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
He requested it reflect an updated appraisal on the city’s park property value from $200,000 to $300,000.
The council unanimously approved the changes after a brief question and answer period.
Completion of his Small Business Association loan cannot be closed without it, Orsak said.
Other changes include:
• a pay back of $15,000 a year from 2 percent of sales taxes collected at the facility for 20 years.
• a construction start date of Jan 15, 2008.
• an opening date of October, 2008, and
• the hiring of five fulltime and two part-time employees by January, 2009.
Orsak is getting financing through a bank and the SBA of $1.6 million, with the backing of the EDC property as collateral. The city holds the second lien position on the loan.

Owner stands up to robber
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–The owner of the One Point Beverage store on State Highway 274 in Seven Points did her best to fend off a robber more than twice her weight Tuesday.
According to the police report, a white male, between 35 and 45 years of age about 5-10 inches tall, of slender build and collar-length graying hair with mustache robbed the store at gun point at around 4 p.m.
After a lengthy encounter with the owner Phan Sim he left the scene traveling south in a dark blue Chevrolet Tahoe model year 2000 to 2005.
No shots were fired and no one was injured during the robbery.
An undisclosed amount of money was taken and the suspect was still at large at presstime.
The suspect was under surveillance by the store’s security camera during most of the robbery, though a still photo was not available by presstime.
“We’re still trying to get the image cleaned up, so the public can help us identify the individual,” Seven Points Police Chief Wayne Nutt told The Monitor.
Sim, 50, 4-11 inches tall and weighing 90 pounds said she wasn’t a bit afraid and grabbed a nearby metal rod to protect herself.
“He said to me, ‘lay down on the floor.’ I told him, you lay down on the floor. He tells me, ‘I’m going to hurt you.’ I tell him, you hurt me and I’m going to hurt you. I’m not afraid of you,” Sim recounts.
“I stand up very straight and tall, his gun pointed at me the whole time, but I see his hand shaking,” she said.
The standoff continued for sometime she said and then she started handing him the money – one dollar at a time.
“I knew the camera was getting his picture. I see his car, what kind it is,” she said.
“My father taught me to not be afraid of man or woman.

Answering the call to build affordable housing
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE– At one time or another, a person is convicted to take action in response to a message.
A preacher, teacher, parent or friend may deliver that message. It’s probably not the first time it’s been said or heard, but this time, something has to be done about it.
Such a conviction led Eustace resident Ron Close to use his 40 years of building experience in the service of God and man.
“Had I known at the beginning how much work it was, I might have petered out,” he told The Monitor.
In 2004, 18 months to the day, Close successfully launched the Cedar Creek Habitat for Humanity.
Less than three years later, the group handed over home ownership to a second family needing a hand-up, and is ready to break ground on a third home.
Back in 2002, Close’s church minister asked a simple question: what talents are you using for the Lord?
A retired Close asked himself: “Well, what’s my talent? I can’t sing. But I’ve been a builder most my life. That’s when I thought about Habitat for Humanity.”
He had worked with a Habitat group in the mid-’90s, teaching building trades to state prisoners.
This led to having them practice their knowledge on Habitat houses. The prisoner group eventually became a subchapter of an affiliate, and Close worked with them for about five years.
“I decided to work with Habitat, but found out the closest one was in Tyler.
“I’ll just start one out here,” Close thought.
He called regional Habitat director Phillip Bridgewater and was warned completing the paperwork, needs assessment, forming a steering committee, holding a number of public meetings and providing the $1,000 seed money would take 18 months.
“And he was right,” Close said.
He admits without the help of his friend, Curtis Collins of Advantage Store and Lock in Payne Springs, it probably would have failed.
“He’s real good at paperwork and getting things done,” Close said.
“Between the two of us and with the help of the steering committee, we worked real hard and got it done,” he said.
Then the publicity in The Monitor attracted two more valuable members to the board.
“Eston (Williams) read about it in the paper, and told me how he and his father-in-law Ralph Monroe tried to get one started, but got snowed under in the paperwork,” Close said.
The two of them came on board about six months prior to the affiliate becoming official.
“Ralph has a lot of contacts in the community for fund-raising, and Eston is a great motivator and promoter,” Close said.
Naysayers warned Close adding a new charity to the area was unwise. There’s only so much money in the community, he was told.
But that hasn’t been the case.
“The community has been very generous,” he said.
WR Starkey Mortgage sets aside $250 of every local mortgage transaction placed with them by local real estate agents.
Other local businesses such as Groom & Sons, Apple Electric, THI Roofing, Doug Ragsdale, Hassell Free Plumbing, Sterman Construction, Hobbs Pest Control, Bob Irwin Air Conditioning, Tidy Toilets and EZ Signs have generously contributed discounts, time, skills and material.
National corporations such as Whirlpool, Hunter Fans & Blinds and Sherwin Williams Paint also make contributions.
The chief challenges have been finding qualifying families and having the volunteer labor continue through the entire project, Close said..
“Everyone wants to drive nails, so they’re enthusiastic at the beginning of a build,” Close explained.
Later, when it comes to doing the finish work on the interior and the project grows stale, volunteers forget they’re still needed.
Indeed, Close probably has worked the most hours of anyone on the latest house in Harbor Point, dedicated to Leonard Whitely and his four children.
“I was there working several Saturdays by myself. There’s just so much I can do in the time allotted,” he said.
The board has decided to build two houses this year and step out on faith, new board president Williams said during the dedication ceremony for the second Habitat House last Saturday.
“The good news is, we already have the money. It’s just in your pockets,” he said.
“Actually, I coined that phrase,” Close revealed. “But I let him use it.”
But there’s more to the story.
Back in 1976, when Habitat for Humanity was being founded in Americus, Ga., founders Milliard and Linda Fuller said all you need to start building is money for the slab – all the rest will come.
The local board of directors took those words to heart in January with a decision to complete two houses this year, having faith that the funds would present themselves for the two structures.
Then just last month, June 25, Habitat board member Sue Cardin of First State Bank in Gun Barrel City received a call from a lawyer in Washington D.C.
“Could you use $30,000?” he asked.
“I just couldn’t hardly believe it,” Cardin said. She thought it might be a bank examiner or someone trying to launder some money. “This seemed just too good to be true,” Cardin explained.
The lawyer said her name was referred to him, but wouldn’t say from where.
The lawyer explained his client, who wished to remain anonymous, needed to make a charitable donation for tax purposes before the close of his fiscal year June 30.
They just needed a letter from the Habitat affiliate requesting the money.
“We e-mailed the request letter and they mailed a check,” Cardin said. A CD was opened with the deposit on July 2, she added.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways, this was one of them. He met our needs,” Close said.
He expects monetary gifts now through Christmas to fulfill the rest of the amount needed to complete another house by the end of the year.
It takes between five and six months to build a 1,000-square-foot house with three bedrooms, one bath and single carport.
They’re not all the same size. The size of the house is determined by the size of the family.
The time period gives the recipient, who is employed during the week, enough weekends to fulfill his “sweat equity” portion of the project, Close said.
Each family is required to contribute 300 hours of work. They also pay on a no-interest mortgage into the affiliate’s revolving fund, which in turn is used to build more houses. Ranging between $75,000 and $100,000, depending on size.
Habitat for Humanity International requires affiliates to tithe monetary contributions, which in turn builds houses worldwide.
Counting those homes, Cedar Creek has probably helped to build seven houses, Close estimated.
This second house is the last house to be built in Harbor Point.
New building restrictions, requested by the property owners association and approved by the city council, bars square footages below 1,200 and require double enclosed garages.
“We won’t be building any more homes in Harbor Point, but there are other neighborhoods we will build in,” Close said.
Jody Van Worth will get the next house. She works in Corsicana, so the board is trying to finalize plans on a location on the west side of the lake.
She’s already started toward her 300 hours, having helped on the last house.
First house recipients Tammie and Carlton Beasley are expected to lend a hand on her house, as they did on the Whiteley’s house.
“It was real heartwarming to see all three families out there working on the house,” Close said.
Cedar Creek Habitat for Humanity is now seeking 12 churches tohelp with the third house raising.