City turns down free money
Payne Springs rejects $250,000 grant
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
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
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
“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
Another $9,000 is set aside for printed brochures, web page upkeep and
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
• 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,
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