Sunday, September 2, 2007






  Goss accuses Hogan of micro-managing EDC
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City Councilman Marty Goss repeatedly asked why Councilman Todd Hogan was bent on “micro-managing” the efforts of the Economic Development Corporation.
It was the second time this month items offered by the EDC for council approval met with denial and delay.
“If the EDC hasn’t made any major mistakes, why are we second-guessing them?” Goss asked Hogan Tuesday.
One of the items under consideration involved a line item on the EDC budget setting aside $100,000 for a possible right-of-way purchase for a road.
Another was approving the cutting of a joint check to Ken Landers and East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District for the hook up of the Heritage Cove project’s sewer lines to the district.
A third was reappointing two members to the EDC. None of these items were approved.
Hogan, who served as the EDC board president and as a director before resigning last year over disagreement about completing an auditor’s report on Heritage Cove’s qualified expenses under the performance agreement and the release of the lien, contended once a budget item is approved, the council has no further say on the use of those EDC funds.
EDC consultant Jack Thompson explained that any project the EDC undertakes requires council approval.
So, whatever road purchase opportunity the EDC may recommend would have to be approved by council first before any checks could be issued, such as the check it was asking to move the Heritage Cove project forward, Thompson explained.
The EDC agreed last year to assist Landers with an impact fee the water district was just then forming policy about.
The impact, or participation, fee was recalculated several times and the project also changed in scope, shrinking the fee from $200,000 to the current $35,312.58.
The performance agreement Landers has with the EDC has gone through a number of amendments and extensions, but Hogan insisted it expired in February.
The EDC sent a letter to Landers the end of June warning that July 6 was the expiration date.
Curtis Webster, a spokesman for Landers Development told The Monitor Lander’s attorney responded to the letter, pointing out it didn’t expire until Aug. 31.
Ongoing trust issues between the parties is blamed for the reason Landers hasn’t already paid the fee and presented the bill for reimbursement.
“He was concerned that if he paid it, he wouldn’t get reimbursed by the EDC,” Webster said.
Thompson pointed out that even if an agreement expires, the parties still have obligations to uphold.
“Here you have the EDC attorney and the hired expert telling us that we should approve the request. What more do we have to have?” Goss argued.
Both Goss and Webster are real estate agents with Coldwell Banker, the company representing property within the Heritage Cove project.
The retaining seawalls cannot go up until the sewer is hooked up, due to the effect of shifting soils, city manager Gerry Boren told the council.
“By law, we cannot approve this without an active performance agreement,” Hogan maintained.
“You’re going to play lawyer one too many times, and it’s going to get you into trouble,” Goss warned Hogan.
“If it is true that no contractual obligations remain between the EDC and Ken Landers, then why does he need to put in the seawall or the east-west road?” Webster told The Monitor. “It doesn’t make sense. The steel for the seawall is already on-site, waiting for this step to be installed.”
Mayor Paul Eaton warned the council, “If we do not pass this, that decision will be farther reaching than all the advertising dollars we’ve just spent. We should have just thrown it away, because this will be spread around to every Dallas developer.”
Councilwoman Kathy Cochran reached for a conciliatory note, asking Thompson how hard it would be to draw up a new agreement just to cover the payment of the $35,000.
“We can do that,” Thompson said.
When the council meets next Tuesday, Sept. 11, the council is expected to approve the check being issued.
Also on Sept. 11, the council agreed to review all other applicants for vacated EDC posts and name replacements.
The EDC’s budget proposal will pass on to yet another attorney, this time the city’s attorney, to review for verification that the law is being upheld concerning the $100,000 budgeted for right-of-way acquisition.
All these conciliations met with Goss’ disapproval. And both Goss and Hogan voted no on Cochran’s compromise to review a new contract with Landers addressing just the payout of $35,000 for the sewer hookup.
In other business, the council:
• awarded their banking/investment business to Franklin Bank.
• set a public hearing on the fiscal year 2008 budget for Tuesday, Sept. 11
• appointed 10 members to a Charter Review Commission. A resolution giving them directives and a deadline is expected Sept. 11
• set a town hall meeting for Thursday, Sept. 20.
• discussed solid waste ordinances involving the screening of garbage containers and junk vehicles.

MUD water wins state quality award
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality gave one of its highest awards to West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District.
The Outstanding Drinking Water award was presented during the utility’s regular board meeting Monday.
“It’s a distinct pleasure to sit on this board and receive this type of citation,” board president Clifton Smith said.
The Texas Public Drinking Water Recognition Program recognizes the effort, dedication, and contribution public water suppliers make to the state and to protecting public health of all citizens.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District plant manager Jack Kile (left) stands with board president Clifton Smith, general manager Tony Ciardo and field maintenance manager Kenneth Wright holding awards from the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. In addition to winning a water safety award for maintaining the Total Coliform Rule, the utility was one of 31 water suppliers in the state to win the Outstanding Drinking Water Award.

This award recognizes overall excellence in all aspects of operating a public water system.
Only 31 public water suppliers earned this award for performance in 2006.
WCCMUD was one of only three utility districts to win the award – the rest went to water systems operating by individual cities.
Some of those cities include Converse, Richland Hills, Hurst and Grapevine.
Each year, water systems in Texas are recognized for their outstanding performance for the preceding calendar year.
In addition, WCCMUD was also recognized with the Total Coliform Rule Program award.
Water utilities must have 60 consecutive months (January 2002-December 2006) without a single violation.
Achieving this consistent level of compliance with the Total Coliform Rule, these systems are doing an exceptional job of protecting public health.
More than 1,400 water systems in Texas were recognized this year.
Back in 2001, the water district was named “Best-Tasting Water in Texas” by the Texas Water Utilities Association, and advanced to the national water taste competition in Washington, D.C.
In other business, the directors:
• heard a request from Donna Johnson of the East Texas Crisis Center.
She petitioned for a deposit waiver program for victims of abuse referred to the district by her office in an effort to establish a new household without abuse.
General manager Tony Ciardo said such cases are the reason the district reduced its deposit requirements to $50. He said he’d be happy to work with the Center on a case-by-case basis.

Toddler drowns in pool
Monitor Staff Reports
PEELTOWN–A wedding celebration was cut short last Saturday afternoon.
A 3-year-old girl drowned in a family swimming pool, where she and her family were guests at a wedding, Kaufman County deputy Sgt. Richard Widener said.
The tragedy is still under investigation.
The Sheriff’s department was called to respond at 5 p.m. Aug. 25.
“It was really a bad thing to happen,” Lively Store manager Rebecca Ballard said.
“It was a real shock. After we all learned it wasn’t one of the children from the community, there was relief – but still a great deal of concern and many offers of help,” she said.