Thursday, May 25, 2006

 
 

Teacher charged
Case filed with DA for improper relationship
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Police charged former Mabank High School teacher Tracy Gill with having an improper relationship with a minor Friday.
Saturday, the 28-year-old Gill turned herself in to authorities in Henderson County and was released upon satisfying a $10,000 bond.
Gill had taught at the high school until May 8 when she resigned, Mabank Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall told The Monitor.
She had taught content mastery, basically a tutoring class for students needing extra help, Marshall explained.
“The safety and education of our children is always our top priority,” Marshall said in response to the charges filed.
At no time was any allegation made of anything occurring at school or on school property, Mabank Police Chief Alex Smith said.
Gill was also charged with theft of property worth between $20 and $500, Smith said.
The case has also been referred to authorities in Van Zandt, Dallas and Kaufman counties, Smith said, adding he suspected similar offenses were committed in those counties.
 

2 indicted in GBC shooting death
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Two Gun Barrel City men were indicted on murder charges in connection with the March 10 shotgun slaying of a third GBC resident.
William Cosby Weaver, 41, was indicted for Murder, while Timothy Lynn Smith, 27, was indicted for Murder and also indicted on a charge of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.
Indictments against both Weaver and Smith were issued by the Henderson County Grand Jury May 18, according to information released by District Attorney Donna R. Bennett’s office.
Smith turned himself in at the Henderson County Jail just over 24 hours after Johnnie Carl Morrison, 32, was killed by a single shotgun blast to the head while walking along Pinebloom Road in the Willowwood subdivision of Gun Barrel City.
Witnesses indicated Smith was in the passenger seat of a van driven by Weaver. The van pulled up next to Morrison, and following a brief confrontation, a single shotgun blast was fired, killing Morrison instantly.
Other witnesses said Smith threw the murder weapon, identified as a 12-gauge pump shotgun, into Cedar Creek Lake from a vacant lot at 201 Seaside Drive in the nearby Mantle Manors subdivision.
Texas Department of Public Safety dive team members recovered the shotgun following several hours of searching.
Weaver was arrested March 16 at his parents’ home in Payne Springs.
Both men remain in the Henderson County Jail under $150,000 bond each.
 

Farmer out, Landers in
ECC seats three newcomers; Burch named president
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–It was the changing of the guard at the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District.
After an hour-long closed session with newly appointed election advice attorney Renea Hicks, the board continued with its agenda to canvass the ballots, Tuesday.
The four top vote getters were announced and sworn in.
Revised numbers, accounting for early voting at Payne Springs, was led by David Burch with 188 votes, Ken Landers 186, Michael Grant, 181 and Karen Jentzen, 177.
Placing fifth in the race was board president Giles Farmer, 123, directors Billy Caffey, 79 votes and Wilson Sanders with 63.
Both Caffey and Wilson were not present and Farmer left before the swearing in ceremony got underway by board treasurer Carol Meyer.
A brief period of introductions followed and then a number of motions to select new officers.
Returning board member David Burch was named board president.
Coldwell Banker real estate agent Karen Jentzen was named vice president.
Jim Boyles was named secretary and Carol Meyer retained her post as treasurer.
In an earlier interview, Landers said in matters dealing with Heritage Cove he would abstain from any discussion or voting.
When asked why he ran for director he answered:
“The board needed some outside objective viewpoint, given the growth of the community, and I might have something valuable to contribute.”

GBC moves to assume control of ECCFWSD
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council unanimously voted five measures aimed at taking over water and wastewater services in the city.
The measures empower city manager Corrin McGrath to initiate procedures and make application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The move sends a clear message of discontent with the current leadership of the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District, as did the ousting of three incumbent directors during the recent May 13 election (see related story, page 1A).
“I commend the council on its actions,” developer and newly elected ECCFWSD director Ken Landers said during public comments.
“It will reduce and stabilize rate for all the residents of Gun Barrel City,” Landers added.
Councilman and newly named mayor pro-tem Marty Goss explained the advantages of a takeover.
The city can refinance the water district’s debt load to obtain a better rate, expand the city’s roads and install water hydrants in a coordinated way, which hasn’t been able to be accomplished to date, and be able to postpone an ad valorem tax because the city would show additional assets, Goss said.
“Will we be able to take over Mabank’s lines in the city?” Councilman Keith Crozier asked.
“When we are able, we can purchase their lines at market value,” Goss answered.
Goss added that before the city is totally committed, it’s important to order an audit to know exactly what the city is looking at.
Authorizing an audit was included in the first of the five measures.
In a related action, councilwoman Kathy Cochran volunteered to be one of the city representatives to meet with other governing bodies and the ECCFWSD to facilitate communication and understanding how growth in the city can be facilitated.
This group is being formed at the request of the ECCFWSD.
“Two months ago, the board asked Bill Goheen to initiate this, due to a lack of communication among the differing governing bodies,” ECCFWSD director Carol Meyer said.
“Hopefully, this (establishing a city water and wastewater service) will all be done in a couple of months,” Goss responded.
“If he can do this in a couple of months, he will have achieved what no one else has been able to achieve,” Goheen said later.
“One thing is certain. We all want to go in the same direction of facilitating growth in this area,” Goheen added.
 

New “flexible” schedule for EISD
By Becki Brantley
Monitor Correspondent

EUSTACE—Big changes are coming in the Eustace school district for the 2006-07 school year.
The board of trustees elected to take advantage of the Optional Flexible-Year Program during their regular meeting on Tuesday.
The program will provide the district with up to 10 instructional days to work strictly with students in need of intense intervention, the board heard.
This includes students identified as “at risk,” whether failing, falling behind or having low TAKS scores.
However, it also requires schools to be in attendance 180 days, which the EISD currently is not.
These changes come in conjunction with a letter from the Texas Education Agency, requiring all schools to begin the fourth week of August, starting with school year 2007-08, per special session legislative mandate.
A waiver has been granted for the first day of instruction, but afterwards no further waivers will be granted, it said.
The additional school days, along with a tighter schedule, will likely alter TAKS testing dates for the district, since some holidays and staff development days will have to be forfeited to meet the 180-day requirement.
Grades 7-12 are tentatively looking at Sept. 14-15 and Oct. 12-13 for early intervention with students appearing to need assistance.
Days will also be scheduled in the spring semester, targeting those who fell behind on TAKS scores.
Grades 3-5 have opted to be involved in the Spring semester program as well.
“It seems the ‘at risk’ students are key predictors for TAKS scores. When we identify their shortcomings, there’s going to be an intervention,” Superintendent Coy Holcombe said.
In other business, trustees:
• accepted thanks from the cheerleaders for funding uniforms and camp for the next year. The funding affords greater opportunity for those who otherwise would not be able to participate, they said.
• swore in re-elected members Diane Russ and James Cox for three-year terms, with all board offices remaining the same.
• discussed increasing interest rates vs. increasing fuel costs.
• considered a request from a parent on behalf of his daughter to cross the stage with her graduating class, while not receiving a diploma.
• approved Oak Farms bid for milk, Flowers bid for bread, and Bluebell bid for ice cream products for the 2006-07 school year.
• tabled a decision for replacing wooden light poles (one is broken) at the softball and baseball fields.
Insurance agreed to cover $3,085 of the cost, but the lowest proposal for 10 poles and six light fixtures was $75,395 by Timberline Construction. The board will research the possibility of a grant.
• agreed to the application of chip-and-seal and oil sand at the primary school parking lot for $1,000.
• allowed an increase in summer pay of $1 per hour for the maintenance/custodial department and approved a request for summer custodial help.
• decided to send Holcombe for certification to the Regional Advisory Committee for 2006-07.
• rejected a bid on property held in trust in Enchanted Oaks.