Thursday, November 26, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrell man convicted on charge of indecency with a child
Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–A Kaufman County jury sentenced a 38-year-old Terrell man to 50 years in prison for indecency with a child Nov. 19.
James Curtis Rockwell was found guilty Nov. 18 in Judge B. Michael Chitty’s 422nd District Court.
The charge stems from an incident occurring in October, 2005, involving a 12-year-old girl at her Terrell home.
Rockwell was a friend of the family, who was staying at the home temporarily.
The defense argued the incident did not occur, because there was no rape exam done to verify the charge, no videotaped interview of the victim and an overall lack of physical evidence.
Assistant District Attorney Brandi Fernandez argued that the recovery of the defendant’s semen in the area of the room where the girl said the incident occurred was enough to corroborate her account.
“The defense says this is not a DNA case, but they can’t explain how the girl knew where his DNA would be found,” Fernandez said.
After Rockwell was found guilty Wednesday, the jury heard he had prior prison convictions out of California for burglary, theft, felon in possession of a firearm and a drug charge.
“When the jury got to the punishment phase of the trial, they saw the real James Rockwell,” District Attorney Rick Harrison said. “This trial showed some of the problems that used to happen with child-abuse cases in Kaufman County. Now that we have established a children’s advocacy center for interviews and examinations and put standard procedures in place, we have stronger evidence to insure child molesters like Rockwell get hammered.”

 

Malakoff High School keeps 28 credits for graduation
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–After a month of attendance hovering around the 90 percent mark, attendance was back up to 98 percent Nov. 12, reported Malakoff schools superintendent Dr. John Spies.
Of course, that may have had something to do with the fact that it was a football game night, he speculated at the Monday school board meeting held in Tool.
“Our goal is to keep everyone healthy, so we’re still stressing frequent hand-washing, the use of sanitizers and sanitizing the classrooms regularly,” he added.
The average attendance over the past two weeks has been around 95 percent, he said, which is close to normal.
“The football program has had a very positive influence on the entire student body,” Spies observed, with coaches taking a more active role in players’ academics and school behavior.
School principals reported a Veterans Day program with a growing number of veterans in attendance. Board president Rick Veregge commented that students also put out about 400 flags as part of the observance.
“It was heartwarming,” he said.
Board members unanimously agreed to retain a 28-credit requirement for high school graduation, keeping the technology credit requirement and allowing students to earn up to four credits of athletics and/or band as counting towards graduation.
The action was in response to last Legislative session. “We opted to keep the technology and continue to encourage kids in our athletic and band programs,” Spies said.
In other business, board members:
• approved getting a land survey of property at the high school. Trustee Homer Trimble opposed the move, feeling until the board knew what they wanted to build, a survey was a waste of money.
Trimble also cited that elevations could be determined by using a global positioning system.
However, since the district’s architect requested the survey and no current survey shows the positions of all the improvements and drainage areas, it would be good to have for future planning.
The $5,000 to $6,000 cost was approved by a majority of the members.
• approved a policy concerning the use of state and local leave time and catastrophic leave time. The first 10 days given by the state and the district have to be used first, before an employee can apply for catastrophic leave and then from the donated sick leave pool.
• noted the Christmas Program is set for two performances, at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 18.


Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Huckabee Architects, specializing in renovating old school buildings, will report back to the Malakoff school board as to the feasibility of putting the old Rock Building back into service. The Malakoff Elementary School is approaching capacity with 430 students enrolled just two years after its construction.

 

Payne Springs looks for healthier bottom line
Council adopts 2010 budget
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS The Payne Springs City Council adopted a tight 2010 budget, leaving just $747 of wiggle room between projected expenses and income. But, the city is hoping to see some increased sales tax revenues from the recent voter-approved off-premise liquor sales.
There are three businesses set up to sell alcohol, one of which had already applied for the privilege, councilman Michael McDonald said Nov. 17.
Related to alcohol sales, the council approved a permit fee of $150, with councilwoman Ethel Hagin opposed. She wanted to find out what other cities charge for the sales permit first.
The other members said the fee could always be changed, but the time to make the decision was now, so the city could immediately start benefiting from holiday sales of alcohol.
The council further cleared the path to added sales tax revenue by repealing a 1972 ordinance that stated if Payne Springs should ever go wet, that only those who had 30 acres on which to sell the alcohol would be allowed to do so.
Hagin strongly opposed the repeal, stating that it is the only protection the city had from taverns or liquor stores popping up every 50 feet along the five-mile stretch of highway through the city.
McDonald disagreed, saying to keep the ordinance would send a message to voters that it didn’t matter what they voted for, the council would still prevent alcohol sales.
Councilwoman Linda Carr agreed, adding the land restriction would defeat the whole economic benefit the city hoped to derive from the sale of alcohol, which was a major point of the liquor option election.
The city also hopes to benefit from fees collected from a vehicle impound lot.
Over the past six weeks, the council has been pursuing the development of an impound lot. It received three different offers and chose one that offered the highest rate of return over five years.
Karen and Michael Juica have agreed to lease the city about an acre of land for the cost of the annual county and school taxes on the property. The cost to put up a suitable strong-wire fence is estimated at $9,100.
The city projects collecting $1,000 in fees a month, or $60,000 over the first five years. At that rate, the cost of the impound lot would be recouped by the city within its first year, McDonald pointed out.
In other business, council members:
• discussed the need to amend an ordinance pertaining to the conducting of business within the city. McDonald proposed eliminating the requirement for would-be business owners to appear before the council before being issued a business permit.
“I feel this adds just another level of bureaucracy that is unnecessary,” McDonald said.
Carr disagreed, saying it shouldn’t be left up the city secretary to decide who gets a permit and who doesn’t. Mayor pro tem Rodney Renberg said the city already had an ordinance of approved businesses for the city, agreeing with McDonald.
• agreed to order a new police vehicle, using a $29,000 reimbursement from the city’s insurance company.
• accepted the resignation of city secretary Shirley Leonard and set Nov. 24 and Dec. 1 as special meetings to cull through 43 applications and interview the most likely candidates.
The contents of Leonard’s resignation letter were not made public, because it was discussed during an executive session. Council members also agreed to update the signature card on the city’s account at Citizens State Bank.
• took no action on purchasing city property, but discussed several options.
• decided that those interested in presenting major medical plans for the council’s consideration should leave written proposals at city hall for council members to review.
“We shouldn’t be wasting their time and ours with lengthy oral presentations during our business meetings,” McDonald said.
• approved getting a credit card from Lowe’s Home Improvement to be paid per purchase order number. The cards would be in the possession of the mayor pro-tem and police chief.


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