Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006




Holiday events cheer season
Eustace parade,Christmas on the Square and Gun Barrel City parade set for Saturday, Dec. 9
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–This Saturday is a windfall for children anticipating the joys of Christmas.
Besides visits with Santa at various locations, families have a tough choice between two holiday parades this year, each with their unique attributes.
This year’s area Chamber of Commerce and Gun Barrel City Christmas parades are combined into one, which starts after dusk down West Main Street (State Highway 334).
Participants range from high school marching bands, the YMCA, local businesses, churches and organizations. About 60 entries are expected.
Parade participants may gather behind the police station at about 1:30 p.m. and must arrive no later than 5:15 p.m. The parade will start right at dusk, or between 5:45 and 6 p.m.
Trophies are being awarded for first, second and third place in six categories.
Throwing candy along the parade route is strictly forbidden.
“We don’t want little children dashing out into the street to retrieve candy,” parade organizer Merrett Harpole told The Monitor.
Late entries may arrive for the lineup and receive a number and get on the list, Harpole added.
Police will close the roadway from the corner of State Highways 198 and 334 and down SH 334 to the Gun Barrel Village Shopping Center, starting at 5:15 p.m., and will reopen the street following the parade.
An after-party is planned at the fire station, with free refreshments being provided by the Civic Club, along with entertainment in the firehouse garage.
Santa will be on hand, and the Mabank Honor Choir will perform a list of Christmas carols.
Christmas on the Square
Eustace will once again host its traditional Christmas on the Square, following a parade, set to begin from the High School at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Parade participants will begin lining up at 4:30 p.m. to compete for first, second and third place.
The Town Square will be a festival of lights and booths from local merchants, and organizations will offer hot chocolate, peppermint lemons, hot chestnuts and popcorn. Games are planned.
A “one-hoss shay” or one-horse sleigh, minus the runners, will offer rides in a coach lit with Christmas lights around the Square.
Musical performances by Eustace school children and church groups are always a big hit, as everyone anticipates the lighting of the community Christmas tree by the oldest resident present.
The whole town comes out for this traditional gathering with their pets in sweaters, and children in mittens.
Santa never fails to visit with the children and hear their holiday secrets.
Tool Visit
Santa will be visiting with children from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at the Tool Volunteer Fire Department.
For $5, a picture with Santa can be obtained, with proceeds going to help provide Christmas to those families needing assistance.
Each child attending will receive a gift bag.
Seven Points Visit
A photo session with Santa will also be hosted in Seven Points at the Dollar General store starting at 9 a.m., in conjunction with the city’s police department’s “Blue Santa” program.
Breakfast with Santa
The Best Friends of the Library are once again hosting “Breakfast with Santa” at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points.
A pancake breakfast with orange juice, sausage and hot maple syrup is being served, starting at 8 a.m. Prices are $2 for children and $3 for adults.
Following breakfast, children may visit with Santa and receive a gift book.
Crafts are also planned in the children’s reading room, but all the fun stops at 10:30 a.m.

File photo
The YMCA was one of the winning floats from last year’s parade in Gun Barrel City.

Game rooms shut down
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department is again clamping down on game rooms all over the county, according to reports to The Monitor.
Five game rooms on State Highway 274 and two in Payne Springs were reported closed.
Henderson County investigator Jody Miller has been visiting game rooms since Dec. 1 with a friendly warning to close down or face seizure of machines, and charges connected to organized crime, one SH 274 game room worker reported.
“I don’t know what to tell our customers when they ask why we’re closed,” she told The Monitor.
No court order directing the closures was produced, she added.
“He just said ‘We don’t want them in Henderson County anymore,’” she said.
Attempts to reach Miller or Sheriff J.R. (Ronnie) Brownlow by telephone failed, and phone messages were not returned by presstime Tuesday.
Payne Springs Mayor Michael McDonald confirmed that two remaining game rooms in his city had been closed.
Though revenues the city collected from franchise fees on game rooms has fallen off of late (it used to collect $18,000 annually), McDonald said the city will lose about $10,000 in revenue should the game rooms remain closed.
While some applaude the move, others do not.
It is speculated the closures were prompted by the Nov. 17 armed robbery of a game room near Tool by two men and a woman wearing ski masks.
Two pistols were shown during that event. Patrons were ushered into the bathrooms, while employees were directed to hand over the cash, estimated at $4,000. No one was hurt.
Gaming machines themselves are not illegal, nor is it illegal to play them. In fact, the state comptroller’s office issues annual permits for them.
What’s illegal is exchanging winning tickets for cash.
Exchanging them for gift cards or phone cards could be argued either way.
The law allows the awarding of prizes, but not cash.
This issue was discussed by legislators in the last regular session and is expected to be discussed again in the upcoming January session.

Yes, you still have to pay your taxes
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–A confusing dilemma over the wording of the adoption of the 2007 fiscal year tax rate has Kaufman County facing legal questions.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ken Leonard requested an opinion from District Attorney Ed Walton, who, in turn, requested a ruling from the Attorney General’s office.
County commissioners, the tax office, and taxpayers are now waiting for an answer from the Attorney General on whether the county violated procedures in adopting the tax rate.
It could be as late as May before the AG gives its opinion.
“The AG has sent a copy of the request for opinions to certain (civic) groups,” County Judge Wayne Gent said.
He said the groups are asked to respond to the matter by a certain date.
At a controversial meeting Sept. 25, Leonard challenged several items on that day’s agenda, including the adoption of the tax rate.
He said there was special wording that had to be used in the motion to adopt.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller was also concerned that the motion might need to be worded in a specified manner.
However, Gent was not so sure. He believed the wording was only for the newspaper.
But, to make certain, he sent his administrative assistant to look for last year’s wording, and the county clerk also researched her files.
After a delay of approximately 20 minutes, it was decided the specified wording was not necessary.
The vote was taken to adopt a tax rate of 46 cents for the general fund, 6.8 cents for road and bridge and 3.42 cents for debt service, a total of 56.22 cents per $100 valuation.
Leonard and Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenneth Schoen voted against the motion. Deller, Gent and Precinct 1 Commissioner Jerry Rowden voted in favor.
“The law states we do not have to use the wording if there is no tax increase,” Gent said, explaining they (the commissioners) knew the tax for the general fund was a little less than last year’s.
Later that day, it was pointed out there was an increase in the Road & Bridge levy amounting to a 4.55 percent tax increase. An emergency meeting was called for the next day (Sept. 26), to repeat the special wording.
“I still say all this is much ado about nothing,” Gent said.
The Texas State Legislature directs the procedure, the number of public hearings, the wording and how many notices must be published before the tax rate can be adopted.
Even though the legal wording was not used, the tax rate remained the same as had been discussed during previous budget workshops, as was published in the paper and was announced at the two public hearings (Sept. 11 and 14).
The latest turn of events includes a notice from the office of tax assessor/collector Dick Murphy, addressing stories published in several newspapers.
“Last week, several area newspapers ran stories, some of which were highly misleading to many Kaufman County taxpayers,” Murphy’s notice stated. “The articles mistakenly implied that property taxes might not have to be paid.
“We collect taxes for the county, as well as schools, cities, fire districts and other local taxing authorities by way of consolidated statements,” the notice stated.
“Most taxpayers pay taxes soon after the receipt of their statements, and certainly prior to the delinquency date to avoid substantial penalties,” the notice said. “It is extremely important to these entities and to all county residents that taxes are timely paid.”