Sunday, September 21, 2008





City turns down free money
Payne Springs rejects $250,000 grant application
requiring a $14,000 match over two years

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS–”Thanks for throwing away a quarter of a million dollars,” Walter Hellebrand told Payne Springs council members Tuesday.
Hellebrand wasn’t the only one to question the council’s decision to turn down a grant application that would pay for needed drainage improvements in Southwood Shores.
The council was being asked to pass a resolution committing the city to provide $13,900 as a match to secure the $250,000 grant, if awarded.
Wanda Vance, representing Tyler-based grant writers Traylor and Associates, told the council about the Community Development grant, similar to the one recently completed to install wastewater services to two subdivisions in the area – Southwood Shores and Cedar Park Terrace.
The match represents 5 percent of the cost of the project, including the engineering, to correct drainage issues. The city wouldn’t have to come up with the money until 2010, she said.
“The work should resolve all the drainage problems,” she said.
A 5 percent match is one of the lowest allowed, and is calculated on a number of factors.
“I feel relatively confident you’d get the grant, based on the criteria,” she added.
The income levels of residents who live there qualifies the subdivision for the grant, and because the city has never before applied directly for a community development grant from the state, its likelihood of being accepted is high, Vance explained.
The timeline for the 2010 grant, depending on whether it was included in this January’s grant cycle or June cycle, would have funds being released in 2010, Vance explained.
If the city were to be turned down on their grant application, they would pay nothing, she said.
“You only have to come up with the match if you are accepted,” Vance said.
Councilman Vic Brazzell asked whether Griffin Bend in Southwood Shores was on the list of drainage work the city had scheduled.
Mayor J.T. Noble answered that Griffin Bend needed some immediate attention.
In fact, The Monitor has learned that the mayor had asked Traylor and Associates to look for grants that would be applicable to the city.
Terrell Odell made a motion to commit the city to the match and proceed with the grant application process.
However, his motion died for lack of a second. (Councilman Rodney Renberg was absent due to illness.)
At the top of the meeting, the recording secretary reported that the city had a fund balance of $208,058.88.
“If this grant had been for Del Mar, I’m certain the vote would have been different,” Hellebrand said. “In my opinion, none of you know what you’re doing, except Mr. Odell.”
All materials, including a new residential survey of Southwood Shores and 20-page grant application, must be sent to the state by Oct. 17 to be considered in the January grant cycle.
“I did everything I could to help the city,” Vance told The Monitor Wednesday.
“The only way they could be in the running now would be to hold a special meeting this week and pass the resolution. We’re on a very, very tight deadline on this,” she said.

EDC revises budget,
eyes shopping center

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Members of the Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation approved a revised fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget for presentation to the city council Tuesday.
The revisions include breaking out $28,000 set aside for advertising into $14,000 for 13 ads in the Dallas Business Journal and another $14,000 for local publications and other advertising.
Board president Steve Webster commented that he’d like to offer local businesses sponsorships or coordinated efforts to support their businesses.
Another $9,000 is set aside for printed brochures, web page upkeep and signs.
The EDC also set aside $10,000 for a retail study and $5,000 to conduct traffic counts at four locations in the city. Also, $6,000 is earmarked for detailed aerial maps.
“They are a great marketing tool,” EDC executive Jack Thompson said.
Councilman Kevin Banghart attended the meeting, asking questions about the budget that may prove to be sticking points when it is re-submitted to the city council next week.
“They’re going to want to know why the amount in undesignated funds has decreased,” Banghart said.
EDC treasurer Dennis Baade responded, “Whenever we make changes to the budget, it has to balance out, and that’s the only line that can be used to do that.”
In other business, the EDC members:
• re-seated Cortney Hill, Richard Wendel and Dennis Baade for two-year terms.
• unanimously agreed to keep the present officers in place, with Webster as president, Wendel as vice president, Baade as treasurer and Dean Wright as secretary.
• granted a 2 percent loan of $40,000 to Superior Paint & Body to assist in the firm’s expansion plan. The contract, yet to be approved by the city council, will include the normal six-month grace period before repayment of the loan is to begin.
• discussed the potential of assisting facade and parking lot improvements at the Gun Barrel Village Shopping Center with $150,000.

Former Kaufman resident
executed for murder of 93-year-old

Monitor Staff Reports
HUNTSVILLE–An apologetic William Murray, 39, was executed Wednesday for raping and strangling 93-year-old Rena Ratcliff during a burglary of her Kaufman county home 10 years ago.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Murray told two nephews of his victim who watched him through a window in the death chamber.
He was the ninth Texas inmate to be executed this year. The count is the highest for any state in the union. No one from Kaufman County has been executed in the last 50 years.
During his trial, Murray blamed drug problems for leading him to commit about a dozen burglaries in the area, including the one in February, 1998.
He said he was high on PCP, crack cocaine and 18 beers when he broke into the house. He had planned to steal a TV. However, it proved to be too heavy to carry, so he began rummaging around for other valuables.
All he found was a jar of change, amounting to less than $10, and a knife he later traded for drugs.
Ratcliff had been sleeping in her bed and woke up to find him there.
“I didn’t know she was in there,” Murray told the Associated Press. “I messed up. I did what I did. I tripped out. It was crazy.”
Murray’s mother, a home nursing aide, had once cared for Ratcliff.
Previous to the attack, Ratcliff had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for burglaries, but was released on probation after three months.
Three months after his release, the Ratcliff slaying occurred.
Records also show that besides some burglaries, Murray escaped from jail while awaiting trial, sexually assaulted two other inmates while he was locked up and also was seen smoking marijuana in jail.
Facts for this report were gathered from The Associated Press and The Kaufman Herald.

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