Property values up
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Property values in the tri-county area have increased
on average more than 10 percent over last year.
Van Zandt County showed the largest property value increase, and
correspondingly had the greatest number of protests.
“We had a considerable increase in number of protests,” chief assessor
Brenda Barnett said.
The Appraisal Review Board adjusted roughly 20 percent of the 942
protests, Barnett reported.
“I’d say we had about a third more protests this year over last,” she
“We have had quite a bit of new construction, but by in large, the
increase was due to bringing everything up to market value,” she said.
“We are now at 100 percent market value.”
Van Zandt’s 2006 total taxable value came to just over $2 billion and
represented a nearly 13.5 percent increase over last year.
Last year, county property values increased 10 percent, compared to
Kaufman County reported an 11 percent increase, with new construction
fueling the rise in property value, according to chief appraiser Richard
The city of Forney led the boost, with a construction boom raising
values 25.5 percent over last year.
A new power plant also attributed to the rise in values, Mohundro
Though Forney had the largest percentage increase, it did not draw a
high number of protests, he added, as the number of protests in Kaufman
County remained about the same as last year.
Mabank also saw a double-digit increase in property values, up 11.2
percent compared to last year.
Henderson County Chief Appraiser Bill Jackson reported Mabank ISD values
increased 10.45 percent over last year.
Overall, Henderson County property owners saw an 11 percent increase,
with a total taxable value of nearly $4.5 billion.
“The market’s been real good, and all we do is follow the market result
on property sales,” Jackson explained.
Among the four school districts, Eustace ISD had the largest increase,
at slightly less than 13 percent.
Bucking the trend, the Trinidad ISD saw a market value decrease of about
“That was due to a decrease in oil and mineral production,” Jackson told
“If you were to include all the tax-exempt property – churches, schools,
those with exemptions – the county is worth $5,752,497,480, he said.
Copper wire thefts on the rise
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Thefts of copper wire and other copper items used for
building materials have contractors seeking to force stiffer
requirements for those buying the stolen goods.
“Thieves took wire out of one of the homes I was working on three
separate times,” a frustrated Wayne Tanksley, owner of Wayne Tanksley
Electric, Inc., said.
Wire is being stolen from every place imaginable – from new homes,
schools, building sites and even a parked truck.
Mitch Morgan, owner of Morgan Electric, said rolls of all sizes of
copper wire, worth approximately $4,100, were taken from his pickup and
driveway, “sometime between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. July 4 or 5,” he said.
“Normally I back my truck into the drive, but this time I pulled
forward,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he called the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and made a
report, then he drove to several different scrap metal businesses around
Morgan said he found some wire similar to what was stolen from him, and
paid the dealer’s price for it, as he needed it for his work.
Both Morgan and Tanksley admit there’s no way to identify wire as being
Both businessmen believe it would be prudent for city councils and any
other affected government entities to require scrap metal purchasers to
require the sellers to show a plumber’s or electrician’s license, a
driver’s license and to take a picture of the seller with a digital
“No one should have that much wire to sell if they are not a licensed
electrician or plumber,” Tanksley said.
“I know for a fact there is no reputable electrician on the lake who
will sell that much (a car or truck load) to a scrap dealer,” Morgan
said. “It’s worth more than that to them – they need it for their
Gun Barrel Police Department Investigator Judie Burley said copper
thefts are happening on a regular basis now.
“It is pretty much a weekly occurrence,” she said. “They are mostly
targeting new construction and weekend homes.”
Mabank Police Chief Alex Smith said his department had received only one
report of a copper theft so far.
“We have been pretty lucky. We had a report of copper wiring cables
taken from a man’s welding rig. It was approximately 200 feet, valued at
$600,” Smith said.
Someone recently stripped the wiring from the back of the Beall’s store
down to the China Cafe in the Gun Barrel Village shopping center.
“It had to be someone with electrical knowledge, because if you don’t
know what you’re doing, you could get killed,” Morgan explained.
An example of what can happen occurred in Wise County late on a Sunday
evening, July 9.
While it was raining, a man in Aurora was believed to be attempting to
steal wire from a transformer that carried more than 13,000 volts.
The man was electrocuted when he cut into the wiring.
More recently, the Dallas Independent School District is racing to get
six or seven campus air conditioning units repaired in time for the
start of school, because someone stripped the copper wiring from the
DISD says the units will cost between $3,000 to $3,500 each to repair.
The cost of the thefts is born by property owners, who sometimes cannot
afford the replacement, Tanksley said.
Wire stolen from a building site, or a mobile home, will bring the
perpetrator only between $300 to $500.
“But, it can cost the owners up to $1,500 to $2,000 to get it replaced,”
Neighbors can help each other by being aware of slow-moving cars or
trucks on their streets.
“They just drive by, scope a place out and come back later and take what
they came after,” Tanksley said.
GBC hires experts; settles Seven Points suit
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City is moving forward in its purpose to
provide its own water and wastewater service.
The city council agreed to hire an engineer and a financial advisor to
determine what it would take for the city to carry out its utility plans
Chris Lane, whose contract was turned down at the council’s last
meeting, was unanimously selected to guide the city’s financial options
in its quest to provide utility services.
“We needed you months ago,” councilwoman Patsy Black said of Lane in the
last council meeting. “You‘re the only one who makes sense,” she added.
Black was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, but sent her sentiments in a
written statement read by councilman Marty Goss.
Thornhoff Consulting Engineers was also tapped to work under the city
manager to determine the physical requirements a water and wastewater
utility, along with the associated costs.
Councilman Keith Crozier made the motions to contract with these two
experts, and Goss seconded.
Following a 20-minute executive session, the council accepted a proposed
settlement in a lawsuit between Seven Points and Gun Barrel City over
the boundaries and jurisdictions of the bordering towns.
“Basically, they (Seven Points) settled for what we proposed two years
ago,” Goss explained.
The city limits will stand at the present Seven Points city limits sign
on the State Highway 334 causeway bridge between the two towns.
The action closes the last chapter in a dispute between the cities over
possession of two islands, Pittman Island and the island formerly known
as Chamber Isle, home to Tom Finley Park and its adjacent public boat
Pittman Island, once it can procure water and wastewater services, has
been targeted for a major housing/marina/retail development.
In other business, the council:
• granted special use permits for the building and leasing of office
warehouses in the Carlton Center, Phase III commercial development.
• heard a first and second reading of an amendment to the SO Sportsplex
performance agreement with the city’s economic development corporation,
and approved the amendment, which says should the firm fail and decide
to sell off or lease any portion of its property, the EDC has the first
right to purchase it.
• awarded a three-year contract to its present certified public
accountant, Witherspoon, Yeldell & Wilson. It was the only bid received.
“After reviewing the statements prepared by them, I say its some of the
best I’ve ever seen,” Crozier said.
• set a budget workshop for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, and a public
hearing on the proposed 2006-07 fiscal year budget for Tuesday, Sept.
• accepted the recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission
of a replat of two adjoining lots in Harbor Point, and set a public
hearing for Sept. 12 on the item.
The council also accepted the commission’s recommendation for a replat
of a group of lots in the Mid-Cities properties, and set a public
hearing on the replat for Tuesday, Aug. 22.
New well operates
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–The long-awaited new well is up and running.
It went into service Saturday, water/wastewater superintendent John
Morris reported Monday.
“It pumped 87,000 gallons Saturday,” Morris told The Monitor.
Last week, the final test results were received, certifying the well as
delivering drinkable water.
“This is great news for the city,” city secretary Dru Haynes said.
However, she cautioned that the city still remains under a Stage II
(moderate) water conservation plan, and residents shouldn’t take this as
license to depart from the alternating watering schedule.
“We appreciate the continued effort at water conservation,” she said.
“Keep it up.”
The city council is due to meet this week, and will hear a full report
on the city’s water department at that time.
The well is the result of a third attempt by the city to locate water
It is located about two miles west of town on the north side of the
expanding U.S. 175 corridor.
“Now, we have to work on filling up the new water tower,” Haynes
The recently completed elevated storage tower holds 125,000 gallons.