Sunday, August 13, 2006

Malakoff names new police chief
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–Malakoff has a new police chief.
This will be Billy Mitchell’s first job as chief of police. He was one of three finalists interviewed Monday by the Malakoff City Council to replace former chief Joe Cantu, who resigned and moved back to his hometown.
Mitchell, a Dallas native, has spent 25 years in police work, mostly on patrol, investigating accident scenes and serving warrants. Following an 18-month period away from police work, his passion for the job pulled him back, he told The Monitor.
His last assignment was as a warrant officer in Ennis.
“I was searching for an opportunity to push ahead and move upward in my career,” Mitchell said.
“I’m looking forward to learning the administrative part of it from the ground up,” he added.
He’s the father of three grown children. His youngest son just got out of the Army, following a tour in Iraq, and married his sweetheart the same day he returned, Mitchell related.
He and wife Beth have been married 26 years, and have five grandchildren with one on the way.
The couple is rearing one of their grandchildren – a special needs little girl, with a mild case of cerebral palsey and several other health challenges that keeps Beth busy at home.
Mitchell isn’t a little guy – he’s 6-8, 280 pounds.
“He does fill a doorway,” Mayor Pat Isaacson commented.
“We had three very good finalists,” she said.
“But we were just impressed with his qualifications and his personality,” she explained. “We felt he is the one we needed for the job.”
It took the council five weeks of interviewing candidates to settle on Mitchell.
“We were trying to be very selective,” Isaacson said.
“I was shocked and almost fell out of my seat,” Mitchell said of being selected.
“One of the candidates had been an assistant chief,” he said, and that left him feeling certain he was out of the running.
Mitchell’s first day on the job was Tuesday.
“I was here at 8 a.m. and ready to go,” he said.
Mitchell plans to build a larger reserve force within the department.
It’s currently fully staffed with five officers, including himself, but he’d like to see 10 reserve officers working on a rotating basis to give the city better coverage.
“I’ll be a working police chief, answering calls and writing tickets,” he said. That is, after his extra-large-sized uniforms arrive.

Kemp approves $155,000 tax note
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–It feels good to get one’s debts paid off, and the city of Kemp is hoping to join the “debt free” populace.
Council members approved the sale of $155,000 in tax notes Tuesday,
However, the resolution was a continuance of the obligation created last year.
“Last year we did $300,000, and we are renewing approximately $155,000 of it,” City Administrator James Stroman said.
“Actually, the fact we are issuing only $155,000 means we are paying down our debt,” he explained.
“We are in much better shape than last year. We are hoping to pay off the entire debt in two to three years,” he added.
In other business, council members:
• heard the proposals from three companies that submitted bids on a trash service contract for the city.
Mayor Billy Teel said bids submitted by all three companies, Allied Trash Service, Easley Sanitation and IESI were within an equally-low range.
After hearing from each company representative, Teel suggested council members study the proposals and be ready to vote on the item at the Tuesday, Sept. 12, meeting.
• approved the Kemp Economic Development budget as presented by EDC president Jody Deller.
• approved the reappointments of Christa McAnally, June Salter and Teel, three EDC members whose terms expire in September.
• set a budget workshop for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, following a short discussion on a few budget matters.
Some questions arose over a $10,000 budget entry to pay a part-time employee needed to cover the absence of Municipal Judge Regina Sterling while she is on maternity leave.
It was explained the entire budgeted amount will probably not be needed, but was budgeted in case of an unforeseen delay in her return.
• read the code enforcement report.
Teel reminded code enforcement officer Capt. Steve Lambert, this is the four-year homecoming for Kemp.
“My only comment is I am looking at problems still standing that were there several months ago,” Teel said.
Lambert explained some residents have had to ask for more time, but are continuing to make improvements.

GBC illegal dump cleaned up
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–A Paris-based firm began cleaning up a decades-old illegal dump site just off State Highway 198 Tuesday morning.
Not only is the huge site being cleaned, but the city didn’t have to pay the estimated $20,000 cost of the cleanup, and doesn’t even have to handle any paperwork involved with the project.
“The Resource Conservation and Development Committee (an arm of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) awarded the city funds for a cleanup,” city code compliance officer Jacqui Callaway explained.
Callaway said she received news of the grant award about six months ago, and got the final details on when the project would start about two weeks ago.
The city’s good conduct and community service – based on the type of grants sought and its involvement in the annual Cedar Creek Lake cleanup, for example – prompted the $20,000 cleanup grant, she said.
Fines and fees assessed to illegal dumpers and other polluters in Henderson County paid for the cleanup, Callaway said.
The state contracted directly with Paris-based B Bray Construction to handle the cleanup at the dump site, a heavily wooded ravine located about 100 yards east of the highway in the 600 block of S. Gun Barrel Lane.
Bulldozer operator Alton Koehn estimated it would take from two to three days to completely clean out the ravine.
“It’s relatively easy to load, and it’s dry,” Koehn said.
The ravine was used as an illegal dump site “for decades,” Callaway said, noting the situation developed from the old practice of tossing garbage into the nearest handy dry creek bottom.
“The problem is that all these creeks drain into the lake,” she said, and everyone’s drinking water comes from Cedar Creek Lake.

Kerens HS principal dubbed Trinidad superintendent
Monitor Staff Reports
TRINIDAD–Trinidad school district trustees named Kerens High School principal David Atkeisson, 32, as their choice for superintendent Thursday.
Atkeisson is a Kerens success story.
A hometown boy – the son of Brenda and A.L. “Buster” Atkeisson, executive vice president at Powell State Bank – he was hired as an agriculture teacher in Kerens in 2001.
A short time later, he was named principal for Kerens Alternative Learning Center. And currently serves as high school principal.
He has four years administrative experience.
Atkeisson graduated with distinction from Tarlton University in 1996, and later earned his principal certification from UT-Tyler.
Kerens High School student body numbers 250-300, similar to the Trinidad Independent School District.
But whereas Kerens ISD covers 260 square miles, the TISD is a compact 15 square miles.
“It was a very tough decision to make,” Atkeisson said.
“Kerens is my home. I grew up here and got my education here,” he added. “I am fortunate for the time and opportunities, I’ve had in Kerens. It’s a good district. But a guy has to keep moving forward and improving.”
Atkeisson is expected to start in his new post by the start of school, soon after he signs a contract with TISD Monday, Aug. 14.
Atkeisson and wife Leah are rearing two daughters, ages 6 and 4.
“He’s young, energetic, interested in the school system and wants to be superintendent,” Trinidad school trustee Willie Lundy told The Monitor.
“He wants to do what we want him to do,” Lundy added, bringing Trinidad back to what it once was.
“It used to be a very successful and popular school,” Lundy said. “It has lots of potential.”