Terrell chemical site could affect
Cedar Creek Lake
Abandoned chrome plating plant leaks toxic brew into
surrounding water table
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–A chrome plating facility abandoned several years ago may have
some very lethal consequences for Kaufman County and the surrounding
Monday, David Shiels, vice president of Shiels Engineering in Kaufman,
presented Kaufman County commissioners with details of the problems
stemming from the abandoned Van Der Horst USA Plating, located at 419 E.
Grove Street, Terrell.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already completed Phase 1
of its site inspection,” he said.
“The preliminary inspection has ascertained the dangerous chemicals
involved,” Shiels said.
He said migration of the chemicals has already spread throughout the
nearby neighborhood, seeping into the ground around creeks and streams.
“The migration could reach the drinking water sources, including Cedar
Creek Lake,” he said.
They (the EPA) have moved extremely fast – for the federal government –
so they are taking this very seriously,” Shiels added.
When the EPA makes tests, they are looking for something around 100
parts (of any chemical pollutant) per billion, he said.
“It (EPA Phase 1 report) sounds like they have found somewhere around
400 parts per million,” Shiels said.
“At these concentrations, it (the water from wells or other contaminated
sources) could kill your animals, and if used for watering plants, it
could be taken up into the plant and ingested by whomever eats it,” he
The EPA is now ready to move to Phase 2, the ranking stage, based on the
risk to humans and animals.
Studies will be made of the subsurface (underground) routes of water and
The results will be run through a model. Once the information goes
through the model, the date will be ranked. If it (the date) ranks 28 or
higher, it will become a superfunded site, Shiels explained.
“They (the EPA) have been out with drill rigs, testing water tables
(near the plant),” Shiels said.
“I believe the county needs to be pro-active in getting the data (on the
site) from the EPA. The county needs to be a squeaky wheel,” he said.
“For each of theses stages there is a report and it is out there,”
“While the information is not on the (EPA’s) website, the information is
in the EPA files in Region 6, in Dallas,” he added.
The EPA has spent approximately $4 million to determine the extent of
the problem so far, he said.
Who is ultimately responsible for the financial burden of the cleanup
“A law was passed in the 1980s on joint involvement. It says anyone in
the chain of leadership (owners, etc.) and anyone involved in the
placement of the chemicals is liable,” Shiels answered.
Commissioners will ask for information from the EPA and study their
In other business, commissioners:
• set aside $30,000 to build a document storage room at the Kemp
• tabled action to institute a burn ban, due to rainy weather.
• awarded a bid to low bidder Enviro Tech for soil stabilizer for all
precincts, totaling $262,500.
• accepted the quarterly report as presented for the Riter C. Hulsey
Library in Precinct 3.
• approved as presented a list of election judges, alternate judges and
other officials for all elections through June, 2010.
• approved budget transfers as presented by auditor Hal D. Jones, except
for one from the fire marshal’s office.
• paid bills totaling $523,586.37.
Sheriff gives crime overview at chamber chapter
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS-Stepped-up crime fighting since the beginning of the year
has closed down 10 meth labs, opened 609 felony cases and served nearly
2,000 warrants out of a backlog of 10,000 unserved warrants, Henderson
County Sheriff Ray Nutt told chamber members in Seven Points Wednesday.
sees himself as the leader of the Sheriff’s Department and not merely an
administrator, he said.
“We added two more patrol officers and told all of the deputies to go to
work to get rid of the criminals,” he added. “I’ve gotten them out of
the office. In my experience criminals don’t usually come in and give
Towards that end, Nutt made sure each patrol car had a list of the
10,000 unserved warrants in the county. As a result, 1,879 of those have
been served since January, when Nutt took office.
As commissioners continue their budget workshops, Nutt encouraged
business leaders to request more funding for the Sheriff’s Office.
“Yes, we have the largest slice of the budget pie, but it only really
gives us $1 million to use to fight crime,” he said. The other $7
million is eaten up in salaries and benefits, he said.
Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt described how he leads his department
to successful closings of drug labs, warrants served and felony cases
investigated during the monthly August breakfast meeting of the
Tool/Seven Points Chapter of the local chamber of commerce.
“Tax revenues are down. I’d hate to see us take a step backwards, due
to shortened funds,” he said.
Nutt noted, the public can also help the department by tipping the
sheriff off to suspected drug activity in their neighborhoods.
“That’s really the only way we can made narcotic arrests,” Nutt said.
The most telling signs of a drug lab in the neighborhood is the
distinctive smell of anhydrous ammonia and traffic going in and out of
Nutt has also designated a special assignment deputy to put certain
areas called in as suspicious under surveillance, looking for traffic
violations and probable cause to search for drugs, he said.
“Without informants, we have very little luck making narcotic arrests,”
The county’s newly expanded jail is starting to fill up, he said. The
jail population now is around 300, with 92 inmates from out of county.
“That will be a big revenue producer for the county,” Nutt said. He’d
like to see the 500-bed facility top out at 400 inmates, leaving 100
places for ongoing arrests from warrants, traffic stops and felony
Under Nutt’s leadership, several gambling operations have been closed,
with the department seizing $30,000 from them. Others have closed
because the Sheriff’s Office has strongly suggested that they move out
of the county, Nutt said.
It’s not illegal to have 8-liners or to play them, as long as the prize
does not exceed 10 times the bet made, Nutt explained. No cash prizes
“Proving gambling, a felony offense, is difficult. Again, we need an
informant,” he said.
Closing these operations is important, because its controlled access is
also a good environment to sell drugs, he added. “Lawlessness breeds
lawlessness,” he said.
“I’ve been accused of being old-fashioned,” Nutt said. “But some old
tactics still work.”
Nutt has directed his patrol officers to leave door hangers at buildings
in outlying areas when his officers have given them a security check or
responded to an alarm call.
“It gets officers out of their patrol cars and more familiar with the
layouts of their patrol routes, as well as let the property owner know
the Sheriff’s Office is doing its job to protect his property,” he said.
So far, his office has gotten very few complaints, which they handle,
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office is training each patrol officer to
offer immediate response to situations at schools.
The office is mapping out each school layout throughout the county, so
its rapid response team will have the information it needs in any
emergency, he said.
“I feel those are some of the lessons learned from Columbine,” he said.
“I have a complaint,” Danny Hampel of the Seven Points Dairy Queen said.
“Your officers are so busy, they don’t have time to come visit the Dairy
In other business, Tool/Seven Points chamber members:
• heard a ribbon cutting for the completed highway work is expected the
second or third week of September. RK Hall is presently completing a
punch list, establishing roadside vegetation and waiting for ADA
• heard the Optimist Club gave $1,000 to Tool Elementary to help provide
needy children with school supplies.
• learned the chapter’s welcoming ice cream social for new teachers at
Tool will be 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19.
• congratulated Tool Elementary on earning an Exemplary rating from the
Texas Education Agency. A celebratory breakfast is to be held at 8 a.m.
Monday, Aug 17, at the school when a banner announcing the
accomplishment of the 2-year-old school will be going up.
• heard a “Meet The Teacher” event is set for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug.
20, at Tool Elementary.
County explores seamless radio
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS- “Can you hear me now?”
Tuesday, Henderson County Commissioners looked at the first step to
being able to communicate with other agencies statewide via wireless
East Texas Medical Center EMS proposes a partnership with the county to
create secure and seamless emergency communications among first
responders and other public and private emergency service providers,
called Project 25, or P-25.
Currently, the Federal Communication Commission mandate has named 2013
as the date for all emergency communications to switch from analogue to
digital, just as cell phones and television broadcasts have done.
ETMC along with other key members have initiated the TxWARN system, a
far-reaching digital system, covering a 16,000-square-mile footprint.
Now beginning its third phase, the system builders are offering the
county the use of its digital infrastructure in exchange for a cost-free
10-year lease of 17 of the 35 acres (originally 40 acres) the county has
owned since 1985. Four acres of it is being used for the county’s own
340-foot VHF communications tower.
East Texas Medical Center EMS is the main architect of the Texas
Wide-Area Radio Network (TxWARN).
It is a public/private partnership formed to achieve regional
interoperable communications ETMC already provides emergency ambulance
service and communication throughout 16,000 square miles of Central and
East Texas to Louisiana. About 2,300 public safety users have been using
the system since 1995.
Its goal is to offer a digital system compatible with other similar
digital systems throughout the state by the end of 2011.
Placing a 440-foot tower on public land, with a no-cost lease, is a
critical component to erecting a large regional system for $25 million
by 2013. Most of the funding is provided by grants, and it’s ready to
erect one in Athens.
It takes an estimated six to eight weeks to erect a tower, and TxWARN
hopes to have it up by the end of this year, commissioners heard.
A rough contract calls for a 10-year initial lease with an option on 10
more in two consecutive cycles. In exchange, the county may use the
tower, and/or its transmitters and digital infrastructure now or at
sometime in the future, without having to bear the cost of providing its
own infrastructure, ETMC communications expert Jeff Haislet said.
Commissioners asked questions, which had no ready answers, such as:
• What are the benefits and the drawbacks of accepting the offer?
• How does it compare to the county constructing its own digital system,
using its existing tower?
• What would be the costs to maintain such a system, or be a part of
• How much would it cost the county to replace all its radio units? And,
what about the cities and volunteer fire departments within the county?
• Are their any adverse affects to the deal?
“I’m not ready to make a motion or to vote on this until I have some
hard data,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
Representatives said the second tower and its 800 MHz band signals would
not interfere with the county’s current analogue transmissions on the
150 MHz frequency.
The upside to the county switching over, as Smith County has, is clearer
transmissions with no carryover from other frequencies.
“It’s wide open,” communications salesman Tom Rushing said.
The downside, is anyone not on the system, such as Kaufman and Van Zandt
County and cities within the county, would not be able to communicate
with those on the digital system. And that includes EMS, who plans to be
fully digital by February, 2010.
While Navarro and Kaufman counties are still on VHF, Kaufman is planning
to switch to 800 MHz, assistant chief Dan Parker said.
“Our communication system is working fairly well, now,” Sheriff Ray Nutt
said. To switch over would require replacing every police radio and
walkie-talkie, he said.
Emergency management supervisor Joy Kimbrough pointed out that last
year, the county was awarded $30,000 in grant funding to upgrade
“The county held off on taking that action; there were issues,” she
said. “But now, I’m glad that it did, because now we can get much more
bang for our buck.
“The more in compliance we are with FEMA regs, the more likely we will
be to get funding in future for security equipment,” Kimbrough added.
“On the COG (Council of Governments) side, no P-25 plan, no funding,”
Rushing said. “A plan to build your own system, you’ll have a slim
chance (at grant funding); joining with an existing system - will be
highly favored. There would be a cost for the county, but also a ton of
Haislet refuted commissioners’ lack of confidence in the 2013 date.
“2013 has been offered to us as a hard and fast date. A state plan was
adopted by the legislature and the governor’s office. The big picture is
to have a system of systems in place and interoperable statewide by
“ETMC is taking responsibility to build the infrastructure, maintain it
and partner with public entities. To keep the costs to a minimum, we’ve
selected locations that give the best coverage (line-of-sight), we just
need your permission to build a 440-foot tower on county property,” he
“This is an opportunity for the city and Henderson County to get an 800
MHz digital infrastructure at no cost. All you have to do is upgrade
your consoles and replace your mobile units,” he added.
As a user of the system, the county would share in its maintenance.
“You carry no liability,” Haislet said. “The more users join the system,
the lower the cost will be. But at any rate, we’re responsible for the
maintenance of the towers.”
In other business, commissioners:
• inked an interlocal agreement with Van Zandt County to house inmates.
• accepted $25,000 from XTO Energy for road damage in Precinct 3
• paid bills totaling $226,804.81; $180,222.56 in fees to the state; and
$2,500 for the Sheriff’s Office.