Sep

18

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 18, 2014

Meetings continue at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at Gun Barrel City Hall to address questions

By David Webb
Monitor Correspondent

GUN BARREL CITY–Fifty residents quizzed city officials last week at the first of a series of scheduled town hall meetings on a proposed city ad valorem tax set for the Nov. 4 ballot.
The residents at the Sept. 11 meeting included full-time residents and weekenders who packed City Hall to hear city officials present the plan to raise the property tax from zero to $0.2599 per $100 valuation. Only full-time residents will be eligible to vote in the election, but weekenders also raised concerns about the new tax liability they would face if voters approve the measure.
Mayor Jim Braswell kicked off the meeting by telling the audience the city could not provide the services residents will need on sales tax revenue alone. “It’s a three-letter word I hate to hear,” Braswell said of the proposed tax. “On the other hand, what I want to see done for this city that you tell me you want can’t be done of sales tax revenue.”
Braswell noted there are 35 empty store fronts in Gun Barrel City, and those business failures represent decreasing sales tax revenue.
Braswell said city officials would no longer pursue a previously announced plan to use new property tax revenue to fund $11 million in bonds for widespread road improvements and upgrades to police and fire protection services. Instead, the estimated $1.1 million in annual revenue from the tax would be directly spent on improvements on a lengthier schedule.
Braswell said city officials could not by state law campaign for the tax, but he asked residents to consider what they could do to improve the city’s quality of life. “We are not here to sell you on a property tax,” Braswell said. “If you don’t want it, vote no. If you want to give back a little to the city, … ask what we as citizens can do to be proud of our town?”
City officials said Gun Barrel City is one of only four cities in the state with a population of more than 4,000 residents that does not assess a property tax. They noted Gun Barrel City is the second largest city in Henderson County and the Cedar Creek Lake area, and that most of the other cities surrounding the lake assess a property tax. Payne Springs was said to have the lowest rate at 3 cents per $100 valuation, but that tax was repealed several years ago. Kemp has the highest tax rate at 92 cents per $100 valuation, according to a document distributed at the meeting. However, a City of Kemp spokesperson told The Monitor the city’s tax rate is 89.3564 cents per $100 valuation.
Braswell said the city needs to become more aggressive in fighting illegal drug activity that spawns other types of crimes, and that it will require the hiring of more police officers and equipment. It costs $100,000 to put another officer in a squad car on the streets, and it cost $250,000 to reconstruct one lane of one mile of road, city officials said.
Braswell said if voters approve the measure, city officials would make the promised improvements and be transparent about the expensing of the funds.
“I’m proud of this little town,” Braswell said. “We are the hub of the lake. We’re going to do nothing but get stronger and better.”
Braswell’s comments met significant criticism from some members of the audience who complained the new tax is starting off too high after being zero, that property taxes are inequitable because residents with more expensive homes pay more for the same services than owners of less expensive homes and that city officials would likely be asking to increase the property tax in future years.
Some residents complained that Gun Barrel City officials had failed the community by not building a public boat ramp that would attract more visitors to the lake. One resident suggested the City Council postpone requesting for the tax increase until it builds more “trust” with the community or that it decrease the amount of the tax.
City officials said they are considering a plan to purchase land that could be used for a public boat ramp, and that the new property tax revenue would help free up some sales tax revenue to help achieve that goal.
After the meeting, Braswell acknowledged many residents seem resistant to the property tax, but he expressed optimism that residents will realize how important its passage is to the city. “I think it’s going to be a hard fight, but we have all the faith in the world we are going to get this through.”
Braswell said the council and other city officials would continue to hold the town hall meetings on the property tax every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall until the election. “We’ll be here every Thursday as until no one shows up,” he said.
The proposed property tax would cost the owner of a $100,000 home after exemptions to pay $259.90 in taxes annually.
There will be a $10,000 homestead exemption and a $15,000 over 65-years-old exemption from the appraised value if the measure is approved. Disabled veterans would receive an exemption of up to $15,000 based on the percentage of disability if they are under 65.
The disability exemption would expire when the resident reaches 65 because the over 65 exemption would begin, officials explained.

Sep

18

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 18, 2014

Monitor Photo/Summer Simpson Eustace running back Keenan Hargest pulls a Mabank defender with him into the end zone for a touchdown Sept. 12. Eustace won 45-14.

Monitor Photo/Summer Simpson
Eustace running back Keenan Hargest pulls a Mabank defender with him into the end zone for a touchdown Sept. 12. Eustace won 45-14.


By Darrell Johnston
The Monitor Corespondent

MABANK–In a showdown of two teams in search of their first victory, the Eustace Bulldogs reigned supreme over the Mabank Panthers. From the opening drive’s great defense, until the final second ticked off the clock, it was Eustace’s night.
Mabank got the ball first and had a quick three and out drive. This came after back-to-back sacks by James Crow and Zach Hughes, leading the way for the Bulldogs defense. The running attack of Eustace started with a bang on their opening drive. The duo of Lance Rogers and Keenan Hargest took over. A nice scamper by Hargest was good for 31 yards and set up an easy one-yard dive in the end zone, also by Hargest. Gannon Kirkhart added the extra point and Eustace had an early 7-0 lead, midway through the first quarter. More of the same on the next Mabank drive, another three and out. The defense shut down Panthers running back Clay Carson and also would benefit from a dropped pass by Dalton Reeder.
It looked as if the Panthers defense would prevail on the next drive, though. The Bulldogs took a gamble, going for it on fourth and two from their own 33-yard line. It worked out for them as Lance Rogers dashed up the middle for 11 yards, brought down by Colt Conway, probably saving a touchdown. On the very next play, Micah Stone bulldozed his way for a 44-yard gain. With just under two minutes left in the quarter, Rogers scored from four yards out to give the ’Dogs a 13-0 lead. The extra point was blocked as Mabank blew by the offensive line. The ensuing drive saw Mabank keep on with the running game, but getting nothing. Carson started with two runs of just a yard a piece. Then, they opened up the passing attack, led by quarterback Cody Thompson. He tossed a swing pass out to Carson that gained 11. He followed that up with connections of 13 and 10 yards, to Reeder and Peyton Lee, to finish the first quarter.
The second began with an unsuccessful run by Carson, then Thompson got taken down to the turf for a loss of six, a sack from Quentin Parks. Rogers dropped a would-be interception that set up a fourth and 16 for the hometown Panthers. On an incredible play, Thompson looked as if he would get sacked for a big loss, but instead got away and fired a 20-yard pass down the sideline, caught by Conway for a big first down. The Mabank faithful roared in approval at the great effort, which set up a five-yard touchdown for Carson. After the extra point, the Panthers had clawed their way back in the contest, trailing 13-7. The drive took thirteen plays and almost five minutes. Mabank needed its defense to step up in a big way, but the ground and pound style of the Bulldogs wore them down. They matched the previous drive, taking thirteen plays and ending with another run to pay dirt by Hargest, this was from six yards out. Hargest then plowed his way in the end zone again, for the two-point conversion. The score stood at 21-7. Mabank shot themselves in the foot on the next drive as Thompson’s pass was deflected into the arms of C.J. Daniels for an interception, a crucial turnover. This led to Hargest scoring his third touchdown of the first half, this one of the nine-yard variety. After a failed conversion, the half time score was 27-7 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The beginning of the second half started, looking like the Lance Rogers show. He ran for 62 yards on the opening drive, including a 48-yard touchdown sprint down the sideline that bamboozled the Panthers defense. Conway came in and blocked the kick from Kirkhart, but the Panthers were down, 33-7. On a cold and windy evening, the Mabank offense needed to warm up. The next drive, however, saw the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Panthers. Thompson completed five passes for fifty yards, with great blocks from Carson and Lee. Carson also had a nice run of 16 yards and a Mabank first down. But, the bad came in the form of two penalties, one for a false start, the other was for unsportsmanlike conduct. The latter proved to be the downfall of the drive and set up the ugly outcome. On fourth and goal, from the 2-yard line, on the seventeenth play, Carson got stopped for no gain. The Panthers took 6:05 off the clock and got nothing to show for it.
The fourth quarter began, already out of reach for the Panthers, as they trailed 33-7. But, that did not stop them from putting up a valiant effort. In fact, just 10 seconds into the quarter, they tricked the Bulldogs with a nice reverse run, handled by Reeder, for a 20-yard score. The added extra point would be the final point of the game for Mabank. The visiting Bulldogs would put 12 more points on the board, two rushing touchdowns by James East. The final would be 45-14, as the Bulldogs secured their first victory of the season. Eustace’s running game was relentless. They ran the ball 55 times for 419 yards and and seven touchdowns. Lance Rogers was the leading rusher, with 18 carries for 147 yards and two scores. This was the first time this year that Hargest had less than 200 yards rushing, but was still tremendous. He also ran 18 times, gaining 127 yards, with three trips to the end zone, his home away from home. East added seven touches for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Their defense was led by C.J. Daniels, who picked off two passes. As a unit, the Bulldogs had three sacks as well, pummeling the offensive line of the Panthers.
On the Mabank side, Thompson completed 12 of 23 passes for 128 yards. Reeder was the top rusher, with five attempts for 52 yards and a nice touchdown. He also added three receptions for 36 yards. Conway led all receivers with 53 yards on four catches. Nathan Henderson was the defensive specialist of the day, with key tackles and even a nice block at the line of scrimmage. Next week will be a tough challenge for the Bulldogs, as they face the Scurry-Rosser Wildcats, a team that was (12-1) last season. Also, the Mabank Panthers will look to avoid the sting from the Yellowjackets of Kemp, each still searching for their first win of the young season. What better way than to beat your rival? Last year when the two met, Mabank came out on top by a score of 24-17. Kemp has not forgotten and will be seeking revenge on their home turf.

Sep

18

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 18, 2014

Special to The Monitor
KAUFMAN–The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Kaufman County is holding a “Friend to Friend” party from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 27, at Our Merciful Saviour Episcopal Church to help women learn about and access breast cancer resources.
A health professional will provide information about breast and cervical cancer, and the obstacles that prevent women from getting mammograms and Pap tests.
Help will be provided to direct women who qualify to financial resources that will cover the cost of a screening mammogram.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 202,964 women in the U.S. were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,598 women died from breast cancer in 2007.
Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among women of all races.
The best prevention of breast cancer is early detection, which is why it is important for women receive annual screening mammograms.
Research has shown that mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer leads to a greater range of treatment options, including less-aggressive surgery.
The American Cancer Society recommends women receive an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. As a woman ages, her chances of developing breast cancer increase.
As long as a woman is in good health and would be a good candidate for breast cancer treatment, she should continue to be screened with an annual mammogram.
If there is a question about being a good candidate, women should thoroughly discuss it with their physicians.
Some women choose not to get mammograms because of the cost.
Beginning in 2011, the Affordable Care Act required all new health insurance plans fully cover screening mammograms without any out-of-pocket expenses for the patient. This is also required of Medicare.
For uninsured women and those not eligible for Medicare, resources are available for which these women may qualify.
Our Merciful Saviour Episcopal Church is located at 500 S. Jackson St., in Kaufman.
For more information, call the Kaufman County AgriLife Extension office at (972) 932-9069.