Sunday, August 15, 2010

 

Convention center fever
Council names feasibility committee; no alcohol sales at reset Nov. 6 city concert
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council gave the green light for convention center supporters to form a citizens committee Tuesday.
The motion passed 3-1, with councilman Marty Goss opposed.
The committee will report on the benefits, impacts and costs of a center, as well as design possibilities.
Former mayor Paul Eaton and Economic Development Corporation board member Linda Rankin were appointed to co-chair and recruit other committee members.
The citizens committee will report back to the council in 90 days.
At that time, the council will decide whether the committee’s findings are feasible enough to put before the voters, with public hearings following.
It will require re-establishing an ad valorem tax – something the city hasn’t had in more than 20 years – to help finance the $20 million structure, Mayor Dennis Wood said.
City leaders are looking at a recently acquired 92-acre tract adjoining city property near the “40 acres” park as a potential site.
A convention center would be a driving force in the city’s economy, Wood said.
“We have a good area for a convention center, with a strong center for education,” Wood pointed out. “We can attract events here.”
Goss opposed the idea saying a convention center was not a priority for the city.
Building a city hall and expanding the fire department are both more vital to the city’s goals, Goss said during a recent workshop.
Wood countered that though a convention center was last on the list, strengthening the area’s economy was a priority, and he believes a convention center will address that, pointing to Granbury as an example.
“Granbury, as a city did very well,” Wood said.
“I feel you are backward in your approach on this,” Goss replied.
Though convention centers in and of themselves often operate at a loss, they bring more money into the area through hotel stays, growth in the hotel-motel tax, meals bought at restaurants, etc., Rankin told the council.
“It’s not designed to be self-supporting,” she said. “It does bring a lot into the community, and adds to the quality of life,”
Rough estimates on property taxes needed to pay for a convention center came to about $29 a month on a $100,000 property, not counting the commercial property in the city.
With commercial property, that figure drops to $138 per year, or a little less than $12 a month, Wood suggested.
“The committee will look into all of that,” he said.
Those tax estimates are based on repaying a 30-year-plus loan at 4 percent interest, Wood said, adding there was a possibility that up to 60 percent of the interest might be covered by a grant.
“I can’t fathom asking voters for an ad valorem tax,” Goss said.
“It would have to be presented to the voters,” Wood noted. “They would decide to build it or not.”
In other business, council members:
• denied a special permit to allow beer and wine sales at the planned Nov. 6 concert on a 3-2 vote, with Wood breaking the tie.
Goss and Dennis Baade favored issuing the permit, while Marvin Pace and Curtis Webster opposed. Melvyn Hayes was absent.
“I feel we should leave alcohol sales out, due to the family atmosphere,” Wood said.
“It is not cost-efficient without it,” Goss said. “In order for it to be successful, we need beer and wine sales.”
Later in the meeting, Goss made a comment that there would be no concert without alcohol.
• authorized spending $10,000 from the nearly $100,000 hotel-motel tax fund to sponsor the inaugural KCKL Big Catfish Tournament at Big Chief Landing Sept. 25-26.
• approved a contract with E&F Recovery, LLC for billing services to insurance companies to recover fire/accident expenses for the fire department.
• authorized the city manager to negotiate with a property owner to clear a city lien so the property can be sold.
The property owner owes nearly $1,000 for lot-clearing services provided in 1988. The lien has grown to $5,000, far more than the property is worth.
• agreed to process warrants for Log Cabin and provide housing for defendants.
• approved replatting several lots owned by Norma and Wallace Newman into a single lot.

 

New teachers welcomed to Mabank ISD
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–It’s a tradition enjoyed each year by local business people and the new teachers coming in to Mabank Independent School District.
This year the district has 40 incoming teachers, of which 38 attended the New Teacher Luncheon Thursday.
The event is sponsored by the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
Assistant superintendent Linda McKee greeted the crowd of approximately 100 teachers and guests, and introduced campus principals and other dignitaries.
“Welcome to Mabank ISD and I thank you all for coming,” she said.
NewTeacherLunchGroup.jpg (252910 bytes)
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
New teachers were welcomed by the community in a luncheon hosted by the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for Mabank ISD. More than 100 attended the Thursday luncheon staged at the Commons area of the Mabank High School. Pictured are 38 of the 40 new teachers joining the district.

The invocation was given by assistant superintendent of business, Scott Adams.
School board president Kenneth Odom welcomed all and introduced his fellow board trustees.
“I also just received word Mabank ISD has been awarded Exemplary status for the second year in a row,” he said.
“I hope you all have a very long and pleasant stay here,” he said to the new teachers.
Individual business members hosted each new teachers to lunch, and each teacher received “goody bags,” filled with items donated by various businesses.
Former board member and board president Gary Sapp had the pleasure of introducing his daughter, Jamie, as a new teacher.
“I’ve known her most of her life,” he said facetiously as the audience laughed.
“She has taught for five years in Kaufman but is now home,” he added.
Teachers coming into the area are from many places, in addition to several returning Mabank graduates, teachers were from such exotic places as the Spice Islands (Grenada), and an American teacher returning from an assignment in Japan.
Out-of-state educators from New Mexico, Oklahoma and Garden City, Kan., added to the list.
Quite a few teachers were from Texas cities, such as Athens, Canton, Corsicana, Fort Worth, Martin’s Mill, Mesquite and Houston.

Tool awarded rural affairs grant
Special to The Monitor
AUSTIN–The Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA) presented an oversized, ceremonial check to local officials in the City of Tool to recognize the community for securing a grant from the agency’s Texas Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) program. Agency staff presented the check Aug. 11, at Tool City Hall.
“We are very pleased to award this grant to Tool,” executive director of TDRA Charles S. “Charlie” Stone said.
“Community development projects such as this help Texans in rural communities improve their quality of life significantly,” he added.
The City of Tool will use its $250,000 grant to reconstruct the main arterial roads in the Royal Oaks Subdivision and install concrete gutters at 30 intersections to help storm water runoff.
The agency awarded $3,250,000 to 13 East Texas area communities, including Anderson County, Arp, Big Sandy, Coffee City, New London, Palestine, Panola County, Rains County, Reklaw, Rusk County, Tool, Wells and Wills Point.
TDRA awarded more than $42 million to rural communities in Texas for the 2010 funding cycle.
“Texas CDBG is a competitive grant program, so the community of Tool is to be commended for their hard work and diligence in pursuing this grant,” director of TDRA’s community development division Mark Wyatt said.
The grants come from the Texas Community Development Block Grant program, the largest CDBG program in the nation.
Rural cities with populations less than 50,000 and counties that have a non­metropolitan population under 200,000 and are not eligible for direct funding from HUD may apply for the agency’s TxCDBG program.
This program serves approximately 1,017 eligible rural communities, 245 rural counties, and provides services to over 375,000 low- to moderate-income beneficiaries each year.



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