Three injured in bridge
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
PRAIRIEVILLE–Three people were injured late Wednesday afternoon when a
bridge under construction collapsed.
The center span of the Farm-to-Market 1836 bridge across Cedar Creek
fell approximately 20 feet into the creek when an 18-wheeler towing a
tracked backhoe crossed the bridge.
A sedan following the 18-wheeler also fell with the bridge section, and
wound up with its nose wedged under a chunk of the bridge decking.
Truck driver Richard Godsey of Paris said he was delivering the
“trackhoe” to the construction site, as the bridge (one of three across
the creek bottom about three miles north of the Prairieville Grocery)
was undergoing replacement.
“It threw the ass end of my truck about six feet in the air,” Godsey
recalled. “I looked in my mirrors and saw nothing but sky.”
The trackhoe was loaded on a “lowboy” trailer, which came loose from
Godsey’s truck as the front end flipped up. The tractor cab, with Godsey
inside, bounced to a stop.
Godsey recalled it was 5:48 p.m. when he jumped from the cab and grabbed
his cell phone to call 911.
First Responders from Mabank, Kemp and Kaufman volunteer fire
departments rushed to the scene, and had to use ropes and a basket to
remove the three passengers from the car.
The most seriously injured passenger, a woman, had to be cut from the
vehicle with power rescue tools. Approximately 25 to 30 firefighters
responded to the scene.
“I did all the first aid I could do until the paramedics got here,”
Godsey recalled. “She was stuck, and I couldn’t get her out.”
She was transported to Tyler’s East Texas Medical Center by helicopter,
while the other two passengers (both adults) were transported by
ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital in Kaufman.
Television reports late Wednesday said the woman was listed in “serious”
condition, while the other two passengers were listed as “stable.”
Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Sgt. Christopher Whatley said
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) representatives had already
been to the scene.
“It’s my understanding they keep sort of a diary, where they keep track
of all the process of work on the bridge,” Whatley said. “That will help
them determined what actually happened.”
TxDoT spokesman Kelli Petras said Thursday the two-lane bridge was load
posted for a maximum of 24,000 pounds.
Investigation revealed the tractor and trackhoe weighed approximately
100,000 pounds, Petras said in a prepared news release.
The truck and equipment, which were crossing the bridge when it
collapsed, were part of the R.K. Hall construction crew who were
beginning to rebuild the bridge. The 150-foot bridge has been under
construction for three months.
TxDoT has closed FM 1836 at the Cedar Creek Relief No. 2 bridge
location, pending inspection of the bridge and investigation to confirm
the reason for the collapse.
In the meantime, FM 1836 will be closed to through traffic for several
months, possibly a year or more, while a new bridge is constructed.
Detour signs have been placed marking the route to assist drivers
traveling along FM 1836. Routes include:
• southbound traffic on FM 1836 will be detoured north on FM 2515 in
Rand to State Highway 243 in Ola. Then, traffic will proceed east on SH
243 to FM 47 in Van Zandt County. Traffic can then head south on FM 47
to FM 90 in Prairieville.
• northbound traffic on FM 1836 will be detoured east on FM 90 in
Prairieville to FM 47 in Van Zandt County. Then, traffic will proceed
north on FM 47 to SH 243. Traffic can then head west on SH 243 until FM
2515 in Ola, then south on FM 2515 to FM 1836 in Rand.
“TxDoT and R.K. Hall would like to apologize for any inconvenience, and
thank area drivers, residents and local businesses for their continued
patience and cooperation as crew work diligently to reopen FM 1836 as
soon, and as safely, as possible,” Petras said.
As the twilight deepened Wednesday, Godsey looked at the scene and shook
“I think the state waited one load too late to work on that one,” he
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Investigators, rescue workers and volunteer firefighters compare notes
scene of a bridge collapse on Farm-to-Market 1836 north of Prairieville
Wednesday. The center span of the bridge fell into Cedar Creek when an
hauling a tracked backhoe (visible at left) crossed it, and three people
in a following
car were injured.
Bigger salaries part of budget
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council approved, 4-1, a fiscal year
(FY) 2009 budget, which includes salary hikes of between 7 percent and
It took two tries to gain the four of five votes required to approve the
$3.65 million budget, with Councilwoman Kathy Cochran opposed.
The first round, the motion failed 3-2. But when faced with setting
another workshop to discuss the salary hike issue, it became uncertain a
quorum would be willing and available to meet.
So a second motion, this time from mayor pro-tem Charles Townsend who
opposed it the first time, made at the end of the meeting, won the
needed 4/5ths approval.
City manager Gerry Boren said his priority for the coming year was to
explore employee performance standards and conduct a salary study on
which to base future salaries. “Department heads will be held
accountable to set performance tasks,” he said.
“These salaries are at about 75 percent of what Athens pays,” Boren
said, defending the hike as a way to keep qualified people and save
money in retraining new ones.
In actual numbers, the increase amounts to nearly $129,000 above last
year’s salary figures. Councilman Todd Hogan pointed out it amounts to
just 3.54 percent of the overall budget and was satisfied with that
However, Townsend and Cochran looked more closely at individual changes
in salary and how those levels would be maintained over the coming
Townsend noted that salaries account for 58 percent of the budget,
leaving 42 percent for everything else.
“I have grave concerns about the lack of funds for infrastructure
(capitol improvements),” he said. “A year from now, we’ll be saddled
with all these costs (salary increases), and I don’t see a great deal of
economic growth two to three years from now.”
Boren forecasted Fuddrucker to do $750,000 worth of business annually
when it opens and countered that the budget could easily allow for up to
$150,000 for capital improvements.
“This is a very conservative estimate, accounting for only a 3 percent
growth rate,” Boren said. He also discussed using standard business
practices of making large purchases, such as vehicles and building
projects, with leases, payouts and loans.
“I believe in happy people. I want to pay them enough so they don’t have
to go to a discount store in Corsicana to buy food,” Boren said.
Cochran disagreed with the $591,000 amount set for police salaries.
“You’re going to be higher than that, more like $640,000, even with a 10
percent attrition rate,” she said. “I’m using actuals to arrive at these
“I feel we are using the fund balance ($270,000) to fund raises. That
money is not going to be there next year.”
“I know Gerry wants to get us close to a zero fund balance, but raises
are permanent and this is temporary. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at
night if I voted for it,” Cochran told The Monitor on Wednesday.
The budget anticipates an income of $2.241 million from sales tax to the
city plus another $320,179 from sales tax apportioned to the Economic
Development Corp. The rest of the $3.6 million is expected to come from
the beverage tax, business and franchise taxes, licenses and permits,
fines and penalties , fees and miscellaneous revenues.
In other business, council members:
• set tax rate at zero.
• allotted $15,000 from the Hotel Motel Tax fund to reserve a fireworks
display following the Christmas Parade.
• approved a Compensated Volunteer Fire Department Policy.
• adopted an ordinance allowing single-family site built homes in the
zoned Manufactured Housing District.
Reaching out to Muslims on 9/11
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Kimberly Idrees thinks she knows the answer.
She once was a Muslim – so ardent that other Muslims in her community
referred to her as “that holy woman from America.”
But the more ardent her efforts to conform to the truest standards of
Islam, the more desperate she became.
“Why can’t I hear my God anymore?” she asked her Muslim husband.
“Are you crazy, woman? Allah does not talk to us,” was his answer.
From then on her marriage began to become strained with tension which
reflected her own inner conflict and search for a relationship with God,
she told women gathered at a meeting at St. Peter Lutheran Church
“In Islam, there is no assurance of heaven. Everyone works very hard to
accumulate credits against the day of their death. You just don’t know
how many you’ll need,” Idrees explained. “There’s only one sure ticket
to Heaven and that is to die in the cause of Islam.”
“That’s why they can strap bombs to themselves, even pregnant women,
because of their fear of death,” she said.
There are between eight and 10 million Muslims in the United States, she
said and 500,000 of them in Texas.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, meaning one in every five.
Projections see by the year 2025, one in three will be a Muslim.
She told her story of once being an active Lutheran. But, without a firm
foundation in the Word of God, she faltered when crisis came and she
Then Muslims starting popping up in her life, offering friendship and a
“better way.” At first, she started studying the Koran to refute them.
But, she said without a steadfast reliance on Christ, she found herself
studying Islam in earnest, which led to her conversion, marriage to a
Muslim man and move to Scotland, where she and her husband operated a
Pakistani restaurant in Edinburough.
“I prayed five times a day in Arabic. Allah only hears prayers that are
in Arabic,” she said.
Meanwhile, the mother, grown son and daughter left behind were praying
“I firmly believe it was the power of prayer that lifted the ‘veil of
deceit’ from my mind, so I could see the truth,” she said.
“Prayer is the greatest weapon at our disposal,” she said. “This is a
spiritual warfare, not won on the battlefield.”
Now she works through Women of the Way and commissioned by POBLO-Texas
(People of the Book Lutheran Outreach), she is reaching out to Muslim
women, meeting their needs, befriending them and helping them learn
These “God-orchestrated relationships” have given her many opportunities
to shine a light of hope,” she said.
Quoting the words of St. Francis of Assisi, she said, “Always share the
gospel; and if necessary, use words.”
She asks whether Americans consider why God may have brought the Muslims
to their front doors, so to speak.
Referring to Acts 17:26-27, she suggests it may have been done so many
may be reached with Christ’s message of reconciliation.
Those interested in supporting this ministry or getting more information
about it may call (214) 368-1371 or go to www.poblotexas.org on the
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Women gathered at St. Peter Lutheran Church on the seventh anniversary
the attack on the twin towers in New York to hear the story of an
who converted to Islam. While at first exciting and different, she later
experience the despair of that religion, to whom one out of every five
people on the
planet claim as their belief system. Kimberly Idrees now reaches out to
women with the assurance of salvation, lacking in Islam, through acts of
and building relationships in a ministry called Women of the Way, out of