gets 15 minutes of fame
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
TRINIDADHollywood landed in Henderson County Tuesday morning.
The cast and crew of the new NBC series Chase was in Trinidad this week to
film scenes at Trinidad ISD and the State Highway 31 bridge over the Trinity River for an
Theres not a whole lot of TV shows being shot in Henderson County, and
especially not in Trinidad, said TISD Superintendent David Atkeisson. This was
a way to generate some good, positive things for Trinidad.
Chase is a police drama that follows a Texas-based U.S. Marshal team tracking
down violent criminals, and stars Kelli Giddish, Cole Hauser, Amaury Nolasco, Rose
Rollins, and Jesse Metcalf.
Chase is produced by Emmy Award-winning Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI,
Pirates of the Caribbean) and Jennifer Johnson (Cold Case,
The show is slated to premier at 9 p.m. CST Monday, Sept. 20. The episode shot in Trinidad
is scheduled for Oct. 25.
The storyline for the scenes shot in Trinidad includes a small girl who has been kidnapped
by a fugitive, and a daring rescue by helicopter on the bridge, said Hauser, who plays
East Texas cowboy Jimmy Godfrey.
Several students from Trinidad ISD were used as extras during the filming, which was the
main reason for allowing the crew on campus to begin with, according to Atkeisson.
Obviously our focus is on books, but we also want to expose our students to
experiences that might spur them on to future endeavors, he said.
Pointing out that as a grown man he had never witnessed anything like the scene in
Trinidad Tuesday, he said, I think it was a very positive experience.
Atkeisson said Wednesday morning that he wasnt sure how many students were involved
as extras, but said several were chosen ahead of time and more were picked up Tuesday.
Even some parents who came to watch ended up in the filming, he said.
The production crew targeted Trinidad ISD in August, Atkeisson said.
The thing I was most impressed with was the professionalism and patience of the cast
and crew working with our kids, he said. It was a great experience.
While major network television cameras will probably never be a common sight in Henderson
County, there is a chance this wont be the last time we see them. Chase
is just one of three shows calling Texas home.
Along with Chase, Foxs Lonestar will be based out of Dallas.
An ABC show, My Generation, will be set in Austin.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dallas is also the location for the Fox summer show
The Good Guys.
School tax rate election explained
Mabanks TRE is Sept. 14; Kemp voters poll Sept. 18
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reports
KEMPThe Kemp Independent School District, like most other school districts, is
looking for additional funding.
Non-funded state mandates for teacher salaries and rising operational costs are driving
the tax ratification election (TRE) to procure more funding.
Theres two ways to increase funding for the Kemp School District,
superintendent Dr. Peter Running told members and guests of the El Presidente Club
Tuesday. We either register 100 more kids, or pass a TRE.
Kemp ISD is holding an election Saturday, Sept. 18, with early voting continuing until
Thursday, Sept. 14 at the sub-courthouse in Kemp.
(Mabank ISD is holding the same tax rate election Tuesday, Sept. 14, as are Scurry-Rosser
and Kaufman ISDs. Trinidad ISD already approved such a TRE.)
The ballot asks residents in the district to vote for or against a 13-cent increase in
their property taxes to support the schools.
Kemp ISD trustees have already approved a resolution that should voters approve the tax
hike; a corresponding 13-cent reduction will go into effect causing the present
$1.435 tax rate to remain the same.
If voters deny the tax hike, the tax rate will remain at $1.435 per $100 value of
property, Running explained.
The crucial difference and reason the district is holding a TRE is to maximize the amount
of funding received from the state.
Voter approval of the tax rate of $1.56 will result in the district receiving an
additional $957,000 this year, with similar amounts each year through 2015, and hopefully
through 2017, he said.
The school district tax rate is divided between payments made to service a debt (I&S)
and payments made to operate the schools (M&O).
Currently, the operations rate is at $1.04 and the debt service rate is 39.5 cents, adding
up to $1.435.
Under current rules, the state rewards (with more funding) school districts whose M&O
is set at the highest allowable, which is $1.17.
School districts have been allowed to raise the M&O to $1.04 without voter approval,
However, voters get to decide whether or not to raise it to the cap of $1.17, Running
Now, while any surpluses on the operation side may be used to pay down debt; surplus on
the I&S side cannot be used to maintain and operate the schools, Running said.
So the strategy many school districts, including Kemp, are employing is a 13-cent swap
between the two rates increasing the M&O and decreasing the I&S to maintain
the current rate.
Kemp is able to do this because it is counting on the additional state funding of nearly
$1 million and a small surplus to meet its mortgage payment on the new high school next
However, if the voters deny the tax rate change, the district will have to meet its
mortgage payment without the additional state funds.
The district is not going to go broke. Its not going to close, Running
said. There could be cutbacks of non-mandated programs, services and personnel if
the TRE fails.
As examples, Running said some school districts have sold their fleet of buses and no
longer offer transportation.
At Kemp, perhaps modified bus routes could go into affect, with fewer central stops
instead of door-to-door service.
Parents could become responsible for getting their students to the bus stop and
picking them up, he said.
Cutbacks could affect the schools various sports and band programs, and could mean a
reduction in teaching positions and staff, translating into 30-35 students per class,
instead of 20-25 students per class.
Salaries account for 81 percent of the budget, Running said.
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Dr. Peter Running lays out the financial facts of the Kemp ISD tax rate election to
members and guests of the El Presidente Club in Kemp Tuesday.
Looking to the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers most likely will not consider any
changes in education funding, he said.
The legislature doesnt meet again until the 2013-14 school year. Should severe
changes in school funding be legislated, its effects on the districts wouldnt be
felt until the 2015-16 school year.
So, Running said, school districts that are holding TREs this year are fairly certain of
being able to count on the additional state funding under current rules through 2015, and
perhaps even until 2017.
With that, Kemp ISD is projecting receiving from the state an additional $4,935,177 over
the next seven years for operations and another $1.7 million to apply to debt service.
But even with the additional state funding and tax credits, the district will need to
raise the current overall $1.435 tax rate by 2.5 cents a year, starting in 2012 and
continuing through 2017, under the proposed plan.
Property owners 65 years old or older will continue at the frozen rate they have now
only new additions to their property will be taxable at any new rate (and
refrozen), he explained.
The owner of property valued at $100,000 would see a $25 increase from the 2.5-cent rise
in tax rate each year, he said.
Now, if property values should rise, the 2.5-cent increase could be adjusted downward, he
Whether youre for the TRE or against it, the important thing is to vote,
Running said. Know the facts and vote your conviction.
Commissioners face hard budget choices
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENSA handful of residents told Henderson County Commissioners they oppose
increasing the tax rate.
It was the second of two public hearings on the proposed tax rate, and its first public
hearing on the proposed budget last Tuesday morning in Athens.
The proposed tax rate for 2011 is 47.1859 cents per $100 valuation. The current tax rate
is 46.60160 cents.
The nearly half-cent increase would bring the county about $258,000 in additional funds,
according to County Judge David Holstein.
Youre elected officials, Delbert Yelsma said. Lets do
whats got to be done.
During a recess, several other residents cornered commissioners to add their opposing
Residents arent the only ones opposed to the increase. Holstein and Precinct 4
Commissioner Jerry West voted against the proposed tax rate when it was approved two weeks
Under the vagaries of state law, the proposed tax rate is actually just the highest rate
commissioners can use when they officially set the rate Tuesday, Sept. 14.
The rate could go lower, depending on the budget.
There are two things at issue, according to Holstein:
paying the countys debt, and
the amount of money set aside for each commissioners Road & Bridge fund,
given the rising cost of road building material.
This year, the county needs to raise about $250,000 more than last year for debt service
on the jail construction bond.
In the original budget he proposed, Holstein cut $15,000 from each commissioners
Road & Bridge fund, totaling $60,000, and subtracted another $190,000 from the general
fund to pay the debt service.
In 2010, commissioners were budgeted $1.143 million for Road & Bridge; in 2011 that
figure drops to $1.128 million.
The Road & Bridge funds, however, have been relatively unchanged for six years, while
the cost of repair material has skyrocketed. Each precincts buying power has been
reduced over the years.
Add a budget cut to that, and you have what Holstein called a double whammy.
That has commissioners seriously considering the tax increase to cover the debt service
without depleting the Road & Bridge funds.
I believe that is the intent, said Holstein, while reiterating that he voted
against the tax increase.