Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006



  Crowd packs council meeting
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS–Perhaps 100 people crowded into the hall of the Payne Springs Community Center Tuesday.
They didn’t come to hear about the budget, or the rescinding of a prior vote to ban fireworks.
They wanted answers from the city’s police department about the arrest and what some considered police brutality involving one of their own.
Nov. 14, J.B. “Doc” Brown was pulled over for speeding at County Road 2854 and Farm-to-Market 316.
Police Chief Tim Meadows was the arresting officer.
Those in attendance were by and large incredulous that Brown could go 29 mph over the speed limit, as charged.
“I’ve passed ‘Doc’ on numerous occasions, and he’s never gone more than 40 mph,” one citizen stated.
When the second charge of assaulting a police officer was voiced by Mayor Michael McDonald, the room broke out in derisive laughter.
“Nobody, I don’t care who he is, has a right to violate our laws,” McDonald said. “Justice should be blind and uniformly administered.”
McDonald carefully outlined the rules for an open meeting and told those gathered the council could only note their comments and not respond to them because the subject was not on the agenda.
He also explained an item addressing a specific case, such as Brown’s arrest, was not an appropriate agenda item.
That subject comes under the purview of the courts, and should not be bantered or deliberated upon by members of the council, McDonald told the audience.
Brown’s arrest is being reviewed by the Texas Rangers, at Meadows’ request.
At the time of the arrest, someone else was present and agreed to make a statement about what was observed, Meadows told The Monitor.
However, that statement and the police report are part of the investigation, and are not being released to the public at this time.
Brown was admitted to East Texas Medical Center-Athens following his arrest for treatment of pneumonia, Meadows told The Monitor. Meadows was also treated.
Questions were asked and answered about how the police department’s radar guns were calibrated, and when the last calibration was made (just last month, Meadows reported).
Citizens indicated they were frustrated about the council’s silence, when they were seeking answers about the incident.
“While it is very difficult to work within these (open meeting) rules, it is very important to follow them,” McDonald repeated.
In other business, the council:
• rescinded a prior vote banning the use of fireworks within the city.
• heard Meadows report on the need for street signs in Oakwood Shores, so emergency personnel can respond quickly to the proper address in that subdivision.
Also, Meadows reported the stump of a recently felled tree on CR 2530 had been dug out, and no longer presents a hazard, and resurfacing work needs to be done at the intersection of Leisureland and State Highway 198. Meadows was directed to alert the county to this need.
• accepted a $2,350 bid from McKee Tree Service to remove four dead trees on city property. A second bid from Gibbons and Sons ($3,000) was also considered.
• agreed to add McDonald and councilman Tom Hinkle to the First State Bank account signature card, where a small amount of city funds are deposited.
Right now, no one on the present council is on the card, and has no right to make any decisions concerning the funds there, McDonald explained.
The council plans on to close that account and consolidate those funds with those of the bulk of the city’s money, now held by Citizens State Bank.
• reviewed an initial draft of the fiscal year 2007 budget. A budget workshop was tentatively set for Tuesday, Nov. 28, so council members could review and get explanations for some of the allotments.
The mayor was congratulated for producing a draft budget with detailed line items.

Tour features new homes, historic church
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The annual Mabank Parade of Homes will be held Saturday, Dec. 2, and will include five new homes and a historical church this year.
The tour opens at 11 a.m. with a special brunch at the Tri-County Library, sponsored by the Mabank Garden Club. The brunch is included in the $10 tour ticket cost.
Tickets for the tour are available at the Hydrangea House, and at the library on the day of the tour. All proceeds go to the Mabank Branch of the area chamber of commerce, the Tri-County Library and the Mabank City Parks & Recreation Department.
Garden Club members also will host their annual Christmas bazaar in the library between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. New at the bazaar this year is the group’s Kandy Kitchen.
Mabank’s First Presbyterian Church, at 112 Mount Vernon Street in downtown, is one of the tour stops. Already home to a Texas historical marker, the church is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year.
Christmas decorations in the church are all-new this year, but the church’s stained-glass windows and pews are original.
Ladies in the church made the decorations on the “Christmons” (meaning Christ’s monograms) tree 25 years ago, and a second, new, tree in the church’s fellowship hall is decorated with the symbols represented in the sanctuary’s historic windows.
Alspaw Home
One of the newer homes on the tour, Ivan and Nell Alspaw’s Mediterranean-style home in Lighthouse Landing was completed in 2005, just in time for the couple to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
Located in Lighthouse Landing, a new development on Cedar Creek Lake west of downtown, near the Cedar Creek Country Club, the Alspaw home sits on a 1½-acre waterfront lot at 114 Nautical Point.
With a stucco finish and a Mexican tile roof, the house features scraped hardwood floors in the den, kitchen and hallways, along with travertine tile in the living room. The Alspaws recently added a party house and a Jacuzzi.
Bonsal Home
Another new home, Royce Bonsal’s residence at 302 Robbypop (located off Market Street just east of downtown) was completed in 2005.
Bonsal chose handscrapped wood and travertine tile for flooring through most of the home, which features flagpoles bearing both the American and Texas flags, which can be easily seen from Business 175.
Plantation shutters accent the brick facing for the home’s exterior, and the interior features Christmas trees and decorations throughout.
The main tree, 12 feet tall, in the formal living room, and the den features an upside-down tree.
Capehart Home
Located on Van Zandt County Road 2801, approximately five miles north of town, Jeff and Chelsea Capehart’s sprawling ranch home features Austin stone and brick, with cedar wood trim on the exterior.
Completed in 2005, the Capehart’s home features an open floor plan with a rustic family room adorned with handscrapped wood floors.
The rustic theme is continued through the dining area and matching breakfast hutch, and the kitchen features a “coffee shop” theme.
Christmas trees are spread throughout the home, including the bedrooms of the Capehart’s two sons and the master bedroom suite.
Hughes Home
Located five miles north of Mabank on Farm-to-Market 90, the recently completed home of Harold and Darlene Hughes reflects a modern home/business approach, with a home office/sewing room.
The two-car garage is also set up as a media room, with a projector television to provide a really big screen for watching the big game.
An open floor plan allows instant access to the family room, kitchen, breakfast nook and formal dining room, while the master bedroom suite also includes a bath with a Jacuzzi tub.
Numerous windows provide views of the surrounding trees and backyard lake, which was a favorite swimming hole and fishing spot for area youth for many years.
Roberts Home
Monty and Tanya Roberts completed their sprawling ranch home in 2001 on the old Whitaker land, which has been in the family since the 1800s.
Located about seven miles north of Mabank off Farm-to-Market 90, the house sits about a quarter-mile off Kaufman County Road 4017, offering a secluded setting with expansive views.
The country setting is close to grandparents, cousins, siblings and a large number of long-time friends, the Roberts say.
As a working ranch, the Roberts’ children get a first-hand taste of the cowboy life-style, although a truck-style 4-wheeler replaces horses for most chores.
The family also enjoys hunting, fishing and camping out on their own land.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
The historic First Presbyterian Church in downtown Mabank, celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, is part of the annual Christmas Parade of Homes Saturday, Dec. 2.

Tool set to remove unsafe buildings
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL– The city of Tool is taking the legal steps necessary to give the city the clout it needs to demolish unsafe buildings in its jurisdiction.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members approved the final draft of Ordinance 2006-1116, its “Dangerous Buildings” ordinance.
Before the city can tear down any old buildings, residential, business or otherwise, it needed an ordinance that would “put some teeth” into its actions, Mayor Scott Confer explained.
The final draft will be forwarded to the city attorney for review, final corrections and adjustments, Confer said.
In other business, council members:
• approved the purchase of a road sweeper from Henderson County for $9,999.
The council had previously budgeted $10,000 for the purchase of a sweeper, needed before the sealing process could begin on city streets.
The city has already used the machine, having borrowed it several times from the county.
“It will be available to the city by (Friday) Dec. 1,” Confer said.
• said no action was necessary in the installation of a 30 mph speed limit sign to be placed at the intersection of Towering Oak Drive and State Highway 274.
The city is currently in the process of installing the sign, and the other end of the street already has a posted speed limit sign.
• approved the acquisition of a public utility drainage easement from the Trade Winds Property Owners Association, to allow the city to work on a flooding problem.
• adopted a resolution allowing Councilman A. J. “Red” Phillips to continue to serve on the Tool Volunteer Fire Department board of directors.
The resolution also makes it possible for any other council member who wishes to serve, to do so.
• adjusted the administrative court clerk from a part-time to a full-time position.
• during the council comments section of the agenda, the council wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving.


Commissioners OK two water grant applications
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners formally passed resolutions enabling two water projects to go forward Monday.
The first was a project extends a water pipe from Tamarack addition in Gun Barrel City to Bonita Point.
The recipients of the increased water pressure qualified for a Texas Community Development Block Grant for Community Development Funds.
The $228,800 project will be overseen by East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District, which is contributing $45,768 as a match to grant funds for engineering and general administrative services.
The second water project extends water service for the first time to County Road 4705 in Precinct 4’s Baxter community.
The $250,000 in grant funds from the Texas Community development Program’s Non-Border Colonia funds will be submitted by the county on behalf of Virginia Hill Water Supply Corp.
Baxter resident Bruce Wesley addressed the commissioners.
“We need the water pretty bad,” Wesley said.
It’s the first time the county has applied for Non-Border Colonia funds.
“It opens an avenue for new funds to be brought into the county,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West said.
Gilson Westbrook & Associates, urban planning and management consultants is overseeing the grant writing and submission process.
In other business, the commissioners:
• canvassed the votes from the general election held Nov. 7, without any changes.
• appointed the county treasurer as the authorized official to manage juror services reimbursements.
• tabled action on a boat ramp at Kickapoo and Farm-to-Market 315, located in Precinct 3, pending further research as to whose responsibility it is to maintain it, as requested by Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence.
• accepted 2/10 mile of South Park Circle located south of East Loop Commercial Park into the county maintenance system.
• awarded vehicle repair bids as recommended by the county auditor to Schedules, East Texas Tire of Athens, Kwik Kar and Ellis Motor
• awarded bid for machinery parts as recommended to include proprietary vendors as appropriate.
• paid bills totaling $522,413.82. It was noted $314,614 of that amount was disbursed in connection with the jail expansion project.