Tool truck snags wires,
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–An error in backing up led to a noon-hour fire at a Kemp
The driver of a Matco Tools service truck was backing into place
alongside the recently opened Hey Belle Cafe, located at the
intersection of U.S. Highway 175 and Farm-to-Market 1895, when the truck
snagged the electrical service line going into the restaurant.
“He just kept backing up and jerked the wires down,” restaurant owner
Jerry Harris said. “If we hadn’t run out and motioned him to come
forward, he’d probably been electrocuted (when he tried to exit the
Harris, using a couple of fire extinguishers, was able to almost
extinguish the fire before firefighters could get there, Kaufman County
Fire Marshal Larry Ewing reported.
“We couldn’t spray water on it, because it was still a live electrical
wire,” Ewing said. “He (Harris) did a whole lot of good.”
Kemp firefighters were on the scene of a grass fire in the Peeltown
community when the alarm went out at 12:27 p.m., Ewing added.
Mabank firefighters responded (both departments respond to each other’s
calls under a standing agreement), along with Kaufman Volunteer Fire
Department members, totaling 21 firefighters and seven pieces of
Damage to the restaurant was limited to the northwest corner – where the
electrical service panel and meter is located – and the kitchen ceiling,
but Harris said all his electrically operated equipment got a big jolt.
“I don’t know how much my equipment’s fried,” he said.
His son, Jason Harris, was among the Kemp firefighters responding to the
It was very fortunate that the fire was on the north end of the building
and not the south end, as a strong southerly breeze likely would have
quickly spread the fire through the attic area, Ewing noted.
Road material costs rise,
squeezing county budget
By Diane Murray
ATHENS–Building and maintaining roads in Henderson County is going to
cost twice as much as before.
The price increase reflects the rising cost of oil and the effects of
hurricane Katrina, County Judge David Holstein cited during Monday’s
The commissioners reviewed and accepted bids for road materials and
“In January, the road base mix cost $35 a ton, and is now over $55,”
“What we could build for $30,000 to $35,000 is going to cost a lot more
– $50,000 to $55,000,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said. “We
knew it was coming, but there is nothing we could do to stop it.”
“We have to accept these bids as presented by the purchasing office,”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West said. “This is the best we can get,
but it is going to be so much higher.”
Bids for hot mix were awarded to Henderson County Asphalt and Armor
Material. Other related purchases were awarded to Flex Base, East Texas
Crushed Rock and hauling services to S&S Trucking.
Anticipating the rise in prices, the commissioners tried to finish road
work projects earlier than planned.
“It is going to cut in half what we were going to do,” Precinct 2
Commissioner Wade McKinney said. “So, what we couldn’t get done, the
price has doubled, as of today.
“It is going to cost $20,000 for one mile of road,” he added. “Before
May of this year, I had already spent half my budget.”
The other major item on the short agenda was to assign a new elevator
maintenance contract. The last service contract was awarded to Otis
Elevator. Confusion over who was responsible for what repairs ensued.
Commissioners agreed to award the new service contract to AVL Elevator,
the company who eventually ascertained why the elevator was always
breaking down, and was able to address the source of the problems by
rewinding the motor.
“I approve of this company.” Holstein said. “I personally am happy to
get AVL on board. They are local – out of Duncanville. When they were
working on the elevator, they called me every morning with a report.”
In other business, the commissioners:
• changed the financial officer for the VOCA grant from West Johnston,
former county auditor, to the new county auditor, Ann Marie Lee.
• held a public hearing to increase the speed limit to 45 mph on County
Road 4511 in Precinct 4. No one spoke for or against the change, which
was unanimously approved.
• paid bills totaling $140,458.16.
City to meet with lawyers concerning ECCFWSD & CCNs
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council approved three housekeeping
items during its regular meeting Tuesday, without making mention of a
special meeting called for Wednesday to meet with its newly appointed
The special meeting’s agenda included two closed sessions: one “to
receive legal advice concerning legal issues involved with various
options regarding East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District and the
District’s service area,” and the second “involving possible litigation
related to CCN (certificate of convenience and necessity) issues.”
The third item calls for reconvening in open session to direct legal and
city staffs as deemed appropriate.
This special meeting most likely coincides with the city’s decision to
back out of a proposed workshop previously called to discuss issues of
importance to all the water district’s customers, including the cities
of Enchanted Oaks and Payne Springs.
Tuesday, the council accepted a recommendation from the Planning &
Zoning Commission regarding requests for special use permits from Herb
Gibson, Equity Development Corp. and Robert Emfinger to construct
office/warehouse units off Dunaway Street, and set a public hearing for
A second item amended an ordinance pertaining to certificates of
occupancy issued to businesses.
A housekeeping item, as described by city secretary Christy Eckerman,
the amendment requires businesses to provide sales and use permit
numbers to conduct retail sales in the city.
Lastly, the city formerly recognized and appointed two deputy fire
marshals, as recommended by city fire marshal Joe Lindaman.
Firefighter Dustin Conner and litter abatement officer Amy Zamora
Lindaman were appointed to the job. Both have been training and
performing those duties since Mike Grant was fire chief.
The action meets Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards
and Education criteria for being able to file arson cases under law,
The three agenda items were passed unanimously.
Councilwoman Kathy Cochran was out of town and not present.
Police find drugs, guns,
Monitor Staff Reports
LOG CABIN–With assistance from a Eustace police officer, acting Log
Cabin Police Chief Buddy Barton placed two men under arrest and
confiscated two firearms, multiple bags of what appeared to be
marijuana, about 2 grams of suspected methamphetamine and numerous
utensils used in the use of such drugs.
Mac Dickey and Rex Monroe, both of Athens, were arrested Monday for
outstanding warrants in Henderson County and from the Athens police
department, plus new charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon,
manufacturing a controlled substance with intent to deliver, over 1 gram
and under 4 grams (methamphetamine), and possession of a controlled
substance, more than 2 ounces and under 4 ounces, will be filed
at-large, Barton reported.
Eustace officer Cody Grubbs had been backing up Barton on a previous
call in Log Cabin in the wee hours of Monday morning.
On Grubbs’ way back to Eustace, he noticed a suspicious vehicle parked
on Tom Hickman Road in Log Cabin.
Upon making contact with the driver (Dickey), he noticed a pair of brass
knuckles in the back floorboard.
Grubbs called Barton to his location, and the officers had the driver
and passenger, Monroe, exit the vehicle so a search for other weapons
could be conducted.
Monroe told the officers a .38-caliber pistol was hidden beneath his
During the initial search, Barton found bags of what appeared to be
marijuana, totaling 2.25 ounces, digital scales, a second (loaded)
firearm, glass meth pipes and other drug paraphernalia.
A radio check alerted officers to the outstanding warrants on both men.
A thorough search of the vehicle the next day uncovered about 2 grams of
what was believed to be methamphetamine, and multiple containers often
used to conceal narcotics.
Eustace considers police car
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACE–The Eustace City Council accepted a proposal from Police Chief
Robert Walker detailing the advantages to purchasing two new Dodge
Walker outlined how the city could sell the two police vehicles it
currently has – 2003 and 2004 Dodge Intrepids – for the balance owed on
them, plus a little more for its police equipment, to a smaller town,
such as Log Cabin.
The council agreed, contingent upon breaking even on the deal.
In a related matter, the council also approved the purchase of an
electronic ticket writer and associated software and hardware to
streamline its court system.
The equipment enables officers to record driver’s licence information
with the swipe of the license through the portable machine.
Information collected on the traffic citation would be downloaded
electronically into the court’s computer software program via a docking
bay, greatly reducing paperwork, time needed for data input, and
mistakes made due to illegibly written reports.
The $20,000 package from Advanced Public Safety, a Florida-based
company, would be partially financed by the court’s technology fund.
City secretary Dru Haynes explained that since an earlier grant paid for
previous court software, the fund still held $10,000.
Walker, who spoke with law enforcement in Athens, who have dealt with
APS, assured the council the company was willing to break the purchase
up into payments.
If not, the balance would come from the general fund, Haynes said.
Councilwoman Karyn Mullen interjected the police department could pay
for it out of what it confiscates in drug busts. Haynes pointed out $4
of every citation goes into the technology fund.
In other business, the council:
• renewed its contract with IESI Solid Waste Collection Services, with a
slight upward adjustment in residential services from $8.75 to $10.25
monthly. Commercial charges vary and are billed directly by IESI.
• denied a request to repair the air conditioner in a 1996 Ford truck,
estimated to cost $537.19. The truck is used by the water department for
short service trips.
• annexed four properties into the city, after the last public hearing
that same evening.
• approved the laying of a new sewer line to cross Cook Street and tie
in on Meredith Street, contingent upon getting several bids and going
with the lowest bidder.
• tabled a review of the auditor’s report, as it was not ready.
• tabled adopting the ICC International Building Code and International
Fire Code, while research is done into whether this move requires the
city to employ a building inspector.