Sunday, December 21, 2008

     

 

 

 

Log Cabin obtains deadline
extension to get streets repaired

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–With the help of the Henderson County commissioners and emergency services coordinator Joy Kimbrough, Log Cabin has been granted a 20-month extension to use federal funds awarded to fix roads damaged by flooding rain in the summer of 2007.
The deadline to use some $125,000 in federal funds and complete the repairs was Dec. 31. According to the conditions, any money not expended on said road work has to be returned.
“I requested a 180-day extension two days ago, and they called me today and said the city has 20 more months,” Log Cabin mayor Billy Goodwin said late Thursday. “It was amazing how fast they gave me an answer.”
Goodwin was elected mayor during the Nov. 4 special election and only learned of the city’s dilemma three weeks ago.
Tuesday, Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall presented the city’s request for assistance with the special project to fellow commissioners.
They agreed to help the city apply for an extension from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and also to give special assistance to get the work done as soon as possible, authorizing up to $15,000 in county labor costs.
Hall explained that the city has been in turmoil. “During the last two years, the city has gone through four mayors,” he said.
Goodwin was shocked when he learned of the deadline, he said. “I nearly fainted,” the 74-year-old said.
Since then, he has been busy talking to those who can help him, and has found them willing to go all out.
He cited internal strife as being the reason the city hasn’t made any progress on street repairs.
Goodwin returns to the mayor’s post, having been mayor 10 years ago.
Hall had said the road repairs in Log Cabin will be a priority. With good weather, he predicted the work could be completed within four months.
The city will get everyone it can to work on the repairs, including the city’s water department workers, when their regular duties allow.
Also, two council members are heavy equipment operators and are willing to volunteer their time and expertise.
Over the last two years, mayors have included Gene Bearden (a current councilman), Linda Keener (acting in her capacity as mayor pro tem) and Weldon Wallace, who resigned from the post in August.
“I’m back in it up to my neck,” Goodwin said. “But, we’re going to get it done.”

KC delays hiring new post
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–The Kaufman County tax office needs more help. But adding another paid position to the salary roll met with sharp contention among commissioners.
Identifying the needed funding, after the fiscal budget approval in late September, has caused commissioners to delay making a decision.
“There’s no question it’s a new position, but it’s also no question it’s needed,” county tax assessor/collector Richard Murphy said.
Murphy had made his initial request to hire Phillip O’Steen to commissioners at their Dec. 1 meeting.
The request was tabled. Commissioners said there were too many unanswered questions.
This week, questions resurfaced concerning the availability of the proposed salary and the creation of a new position in the midst of the budget year.
The growth of the county and new election requirements have increased the work load for the department’s staff, Murphy explained.
In addition to maintaining election equipment, Murphy said other duties would include overseeing better communications between the tax office and the appraisal office and handling the alcoholic beverage licensing.
“But the main thing is keeping the election equipment up and running,” he said.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller asked if Murphy had the necessary funds in his department budget.
“There is $26,000 in his budget,” Judge Wayne Gent said.
“We can’t get that kind of talent for that small amount of money,” Murphy responded.
Murphy’s plan was to fund the position using the $26,000 (previously earmarked for a hire that did not occur) and the funds budgeted for the next two elections, totaling $34,000, $17,000 for each election.
Since O’Steen would be doing the work required for those elections, those funds would also be available, he explained.
The possibility of hiring O’Steen for the remainder of the year, using already budgeted funds was suggested by Assistant District Attorney John Long.
The matter was not worded on the agenda in such a way to allow commissioners to act, so it was tabled once again.
Gent instructed Murphy to resubmit his request with new wording at the next regular meeting, Monday, Dec. 29.
In other business, commissioners:
• accepted the auditor’s monthly report for November as presented by auditor Hal D. Jones.
The report is kept for one week on Gent’s desk.
• accepted a rebate check from Office Depot totaling $4,314.36 as presented by purchasing agent Jack Sabastian.
• accepted the tax assessor/collector’s report for November.
This early in the year, the tax collection total remains low, Murphy explained.
The amount collected to date in the general fund is $1,349,646, or 5 percent. Road and Bridge received $215,940, or 5 percent.
The balance remaining to be collected for the coming year is $27,618,853 (95 percent), Murphy said.
• opened bids for new trucks to be purchased by various departments. The awarding of the bids will take place once the bids have been reviewed.
• allowed Precinct 2 to apply for TERP (Texas Emissions Reduction Plan) grant funding.
The TERP provides a method to get rid of older cars on the highways.
• approved setting the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) at 50 percent for Forney.
The TIF project for the city is located inside the Forney city limits.
• approved a request from Embarq to install buried communications drop wire along County Road 302 in Precinct 2.
• approved budget transfers as presented by Jones.
• paid bills totaling $542,564.47.

3 more shopping days left
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–With the countdown to Christmas in its final hours, the Cedar Creek Lake Chamber of Commerce and local economic development corporations remind shoppers that great gifts and bargains can be found in their own backyard.
“We always encourage the ‘shop local’ philosophy,” Chamber president JoAnn Hanstrom said. “It’s always important, but it’s particularly important during these challenging economic times.
“I hope anyone looking for goods and services, ranging from a last-minute gift to a caterer, will go to www.cedarcreekchamber.com and click on ‘membership list’ for a categorized directory,” she added. That is the most convenient way of finding a local business to meet a need.
Gun Barrel City EDC president Steve Webster added that improvements to the facade and parking lot at the Gun Barrel Village Shopping Center has not closed down neighboring businesses.
“What pet owner wouldn’t love a gift certificate for pet grooming from Dora’s, or from Reimer’s fine jewelry store? Even the Tool Place, a few doors down, has some surprising selections,” Webster said. “There’s plenty of parking over there, too, just outside the construction zone.”
Gun Barrel City EDC has two signed leases for the shopping center, he added.
When renovations are completed on the old Winn-Dixie, Beall’s will be moving in. The new store will double the space of Beall’s current location, a few doors down.
“Christmas shoppers are bound to get good deals on merchandize Beall’s doesn’t want to have to move over to the new space,” Webster said.
Taking Beall’s place is a new retailer, Hibbett’s Sports, known for changing its stock out to match the current sports season’s needs.
“We’re really looking forward to them opening up in Gun Barrel City,” Webster said.


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