Thursday, October 18, 2007






  County buys 40-acres inside Loop 7
Renegotiates Embarq’s phone service and saves $46,000 a year
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners approved the purchase of a 44-acre track just inside Loop 7 and contiguous to the County Jail and Sheriff Department Tuesday.
The sale is expected to close Nov. 30, if all goes well.
The county plans to pay for the half million dollar purchase from funds in its Capital Improvement Projects fund. Plans for erecting the first two buildings have already been discussed.
Locating a property suitable for moving a number of county services to has been an ongoing discussion for the past three years, Judge David Holstein pointed out.
Commissioners agreed that the project should move forward. However, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West voted against the measure, voicing concerns about railroad noise and the possible need to move powerlines going down the center of the property.
Real estate agent James Fielden answered other questions regarding easements.
Lone Star Gas has an oil pipeline running across the southside. Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall asked whether the county would have to encase those lines before being allowed to lay parking lot or roadway over it.
Fielden promised to look into the question and inform the commissioners.
“All these questions should be able to be answered satisfactorily before the closing date,” Holstein said. “That gives us more than 30 days to bust the deal if we need to, but I don’t think we’ll find a better location after having looked so long.”
“I just don’t want this to become another “40 Acres,” West said, recalling a 40-acre purchase by the county in 1987 bordering the East Texas Arboretum extending between State Highway 31 and U.S. Highway 175.
That property has been reduced since then from 40 to about 28 acres, Hall told The Monitor. Eight acres support a telecommunications antenna and another four acres was sold to the Department of Public Safety for its Athens offices.
In related business, the commissioners also agreed to accept a renegotiated service contract with Embarq.
Though only three years into a five year contract, IT manager Betty Spencer renegotiated the county’s deal, saving it $46,659 a year of $777 per month without a change in service. Instead of paying $2,168 a month, the county can begin paying $1,391 for the same service.
“I asked them why it was cheaper now,” Spencer said. “They said they can just offer it cheaper not than they could five years ago.”
West opposed the new five-year contract, not because he opposes saving money, but because he is totally dissatisfied with his land line service.
“I’ve been using these negotiations as leverage to get you better service,” Spencer said. “They have promised face-to-face contact with technicians to remedy your situation,” she said.
“More work has been done on the lines in the last three weeks than has been done in the last three years,” West agreed. “But until I see some results, I can’t put my vote to another five years.”
In other business, commissioners:
• tabled a request from County Attorney James Owen for new project management software, until the D.A.’s office and the IT Committee can take a look at it . Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney felt it required a little due diligence before approving it. Payment for the $24,000 Lucid I.G. software and its $1,000 monthly licensure fee would come out of the Hot Check fund, which has more than $100,000 in it, Owen said.
• accepted a final plat for two lots at the Wal-Mart in Gun Barrel City for recording purposes.
• paid bills totaling $220,541.47.

Real Estate magazine recognizes local Realtor
Special to the Monitor
GUN BARREL CITY–Excite recently announced one of their own, Neal Mansfield, was named by Real Estate Magazine as one of the 50 “Rising Stars” in the entire country.
Mansfield was among the top 7 percent of all agents in The Henderson County Board of Realtors and the leading agent at Excite
Mansfield is also in the top 10 percent of total revenue sold in the county, and the amount does not include his sales in Dallas County, Judy Pierce, of Excite Realty, said in a recent statement.
Mansfield joined Excite Jan.2 at which time he became manager of the Gun Barrel City office.
An active and avid sportsman Mansfield has climbed to the top of Mt. Emory (7,000 feet) in Big Bend with his youngest son..
He and his two sons backpacked in Yosemite National Park, climbing to 9,800 feet, and covering 40 miles in four days.
Mansfield is also a willing contributor to the community.
A Mabank Middle School teacher was able to take a trip to Germany when Mansfield substitute taught her class for three days approaching spring break.
He is also a member of The Greater Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Cedar Creek Lake.
He retired from GM/EDS after 35 years, where he served as regional manager, division manager and other positions.

Blaze destroys home
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Mabank and Kemp firefighters responded to a house fire on Turkey Farm Road (VZ 2813) northeast of Mabank early Monday afternoon.
The Jeremy Stone residence was fully involved when firefighters arrived, Mabank Fire Chief Ricky Myrick reported.
The south side of the home appeared to be the most heavily damaged. No cause was immediately apparent; the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the fire, Myrick said.
Eight Mabank firefighters and four pieces of equipment were joined by two Kemp firefighters with one piece of equipment.
No injuries were reported, and no one was home at the time of the fire, Myrick said. Firefighters were on the scene approximately three hours, he added.
Mabank firefighters also responded to a hay fire at the nearby Chandler’s Dairy (also off VZ 2813) Saturday night.
Some 350 to 400 rolls of hay were destroyed, Myrick said. No cause was apparent.