Sunday, August 31, 2008




  Two die in separate wrecks
Teen dies when vehicle doesn’t complete passing maneuver and runs under semi
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–An 18-year-old recent graduate was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer rig just east of Mabank Wednesday.
Wade Anthony Holt, a May graduate of Mabank High School, was pronounced dead at 2:10 p.m. at the East Texas Medical Center-Cedar Creek Lake emergency room in Gun Barrel City by Henderson County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock, Mabank Police Chief Kyle McAfee reported.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Mabank Police Officer Josh Early (at right) carefully marks the position of the wheels of a Ford Ranger pickup with spray paint, as investigators and First Responders begin securing the scene of a major collision on U.S. Highway 175 east of Mabank Wednesday. Mabank High School May graduate Wade Holt, 18, died of injuries suffered in the accident.

Holt was driving a Ford Ranger compact pickup that struck the rear wheels of a J.B. Hunt 18-wheeler in a construction zone on U.S. Highway 175, McAfee said.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
A Ford Ranger pickup lies twisted in the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 175 just east of Mabank Wednesday. Visible in the background is the rear carriage of an 18-wheeler truck struck by the pickup shortly before 1 p.m. Mabank First Responders used power rescue tools to free driver Wade Holt, who died from his injuries.

Holt was westbound on U.S. 175 when he passed another vehicle in the construction zone shortly before 1 p.m., McAfee said.
“The girl he passed was the main witness,” he added. She was not involved in the accident.
Holt was unable to return to his lane before striking the trailer of the eastbound 18-wheeler. The truck driver (who was not injured) took evasive action, but was unable to avoid the collision, McAfee said.
The impact destroyed Holt’s pickup and knocked the rear wheels off the trailer. The 18-wheeler remained upright and came to rest on the grassy shoulder, while the pickup stopped at the point of impact in the eastbound lane.
Mabank First Responders used power rescue tools to cut Holt free of the wreckage. Mabank Fire Marshal John Holcomb estimated it took about 30 minutes to extract the teen.
Reports said Holt had registered for classes at Trinity Valley Community College Tuesday.
U.S. 175 was shut down in both directions for about 90 minutes during the rescue operation.

Impact on SH 274 claims life of 65-year-old
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TRINIDAD–A man from Kemp was killed in a head-on collision Tuesday on State Highway 274, which disrupted traffic for about three hours between Trinidad and Seven Points.
The vehicles involved likely averaged 60 mph just before the collision occurred around 1:30 p.m.
Trinidad Police Chief Dennis Causey suspects both drivers were distracted just before the impact, as no skid marks were present to indicate either one applied their brakes.
Emmett Strickland, 65, was pronounced dead at East Texas Medical center in Athens at 3:15 p.m. (See obituary on page 11A).
Strickland was driving a 1996 Buick sedan southbound when a northbound ST Chevy pickup crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, Causey said.
The truck driver, Dominique Taylor, 24, of Corsicana, was airlifted to a Tyler hospital and was reported in critical condition on Thursday, Causey said.
“We’re pretty sure they didn’t see it coming,” he added.
First Responders from the Tool and Trinidad fire departments assisted at the scene.

Courtesy Photo/Dennis Causey
The charred remains of a ST Chevy pickup suspected of crossing the center line lie in the southbound lane on State Highway 274 Tuesday afternoon after it collided with a 1996 Buick sedan. The wreck claimed the life of Kemp resident Emmett Strickland.


GBC seeks citizen input on parks plan
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Planning for future green spaces across Gun Barrel City has to start now, city council members heard.
City manager Gerry Boren gave the council a first look at a preliminary parks plan during the council’s regular session Tuesday.
“This is not a zoning map,” Boren emphasized. “It’s a land-use plan.”

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Gun Barrel City manager Gerry Boren points out items of high-density traffic and population, along with potential park areas, on a city map during Tuesday's council meeting.

Using an exhaustive study made by the University of Texas at Arlington in 2003, veteran city planner Mark Baker visited the city and prepared the initial map to use as a starting guide, Boren said.
“Since then, we’ve met with the new park board, and driven around the town,” he said. “We’re looking at creeks as sites for hiking and biking trails.
“The challenge for the park board will be to tell us what kind of parks we need in what neighborhoods,” Boren added.
Each member of the city council will get a copy of the initial map, along with members of the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Economic Development Corporation.
“Hopefully, we can all get together with a new vision of what the city should look like 20 to 25 years out,” Boren said.
While there is grant money available for parks and recreational facilities, “you can’t get grant money without a plan,” he pointed out.
It will be up to the city to determine what percentage of land in the city will be set aside for parks. Some cities set aside up to 20 percent of the total incorporated area, including the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), Boren said.
Once the decision is made, that percentage will be set by ordinance, making it law.
With a parks plan in place, work will follow to determine a population density and thoroughfare plan, along with a land-use plan, Boren said.
The city apparently tried to set this sequence of events in motion back in 1998, and again in 2003, but failed to follow through.
“I think there is enough emphasis now to get this through,” Boren said.
Former mayor Joe Agnes is the chairman of the park board. “If you know Joe like I do, it’ll get done,” Boren said.
So far, the city is one month into a six-month agenda to have a park plan ready to present to the East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG) in January.
“We want to try to hit the January grant cycle,” Boren said. “If we miss the deadline, we’ll have to wait until June.”
Virtually all grant funding funnels through ETCOG, but nothing can be done without a plan in place, Boren said.
Citizens are urged to visit city hall to review the plan and make suggestions, because the plan will be changed during the next four months or so, he added.
In other business, the council:
• reappointed Richard Wendell, Dennis Baade and Courtney Hill to the EDC board of directors on a 3-2 vote, as Kathy Cochran and Todd Hogan opposed.
Hogan offered former councilwoman and long-term EDC member Patsy Black as a potential board member, while Cochran wanted to delay action to seek additional applications.
Councilman Kevin Banghart cut the lengthy discussion short with the motion to reappoint “the three people who have come forward and expressed a desire to work with the city,” which was supported by mayor pro-tem Charles Townsend and Melvyn Hayes.
• following another lengthy discussion, took no action on the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2009 EDC budget, other than to set a workshop to discuss “the direction of the EDC” and the budget for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3.
Another workshop with the EDC board members will be scheduled at a later time, the council agreed.
• set a public hearing on the city’s FY 2009 budget for the council’s next regular session Tuesday, Sept. 9.
Council members spent nearly eight hours of an exhaustive workshop reviewing the proposed budget Aug. 23.
• expressed concern for mayor Paul Eaton, who was hospitalized in Athens, Townsend reported.

KC burn ban rained out
Commissioners propose tax rate of 55.65 cents and set public hearings for Sept. 8 and 15
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–The Kaufman County ban against burning, both on the ground and using a burn barrel, fell victim to several days of off and on showers and storms.
Commissioners lifted the outdoor burn ban at the request of Fire Marshal Larry Ewing Aug. 25.
“The current numbers are down in the 400 range and is expected to remain there for a time,” Ewing explained.
He was referring to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index used by the Texas Forest Service to measure plant and air moisture for fire danger.
The numbers range on a scale from 0 to 800, with the higher numbers meaning less moisture and higher risk of fire danger.
“It is August, and I expect it will probably be drying out some. I will revisit the situation and bring it back to the court in a few weeks,” he said.
Commissioners also set a proposed tax rate of 55.65 cents per $100 valuation.
That rate consists of 44.70 cents for the general fund, 7.80 cents for road & bridge for a total operating fund of 52.50 cents plus 3.15 cents for debt service.
Public hearing dates for the tax rate are at 10 a.m. Mondays, Sept. 8 and 15.
A public hearing for the budget will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 15.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved a contract with Smith County to board county prisoners at the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center.
Sheriff David Byrnes said the contract is standard, and Smith County has agreed to the charge of $38 per day.
“They will transport (the prisoners) and pay all medical fees,” he added.
The Sheriff’s Department has had contracts to lodge inmates with Bell, Coryell, Grayson, Henderson, Navarro, Parker, Travis and now Smith County.
From October, 2007 through July 31, 2008, the department has received $752,410 through such contracts.
“This is virtually all profit, as the only additional expense is for meals at a cost of 90 cents per meal for a total of $2.70 a day,” Byrnes said.
• renewed the interlocal agreement with North Central County of Governments for the CRI (Cities Readiness Initiative.
“The project helps with mass vaccinations or an anthrax scare,” Emergency Management Coordinator Kathy Morris said.
• approved the 2008–09 budget and took a record vote.
• accepted the 2008 appraisal roll as the 2008 tax roll.
The total market value of property in Kaufman County is listed as $9,082,202,593, with taxable value set at $6,056,030,501.
• approved a contract with Tim F. Glendening and Associates for Disaster Relief Fund grant administration services.
The grant for $95,816 includes a $25,000 match. The funds were distributed in October, 2007, for the Road & Bridge accounts, Glendening said.
• acknowledged the receipt of five proposals for RFP 03-08, recording, indexing and imaging system for the county clerk’s office.
• approved the budget transfers as presented.
• paid bills totaling $350,191.43.

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