Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : December 7, 2016

Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Due to wet, raining and windy conditions last Saturday, Dec. 3, parade planners reset the annual Christmas Parade in Gun Barrel City for the following Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. Floats should begin their line up no earlier than 4 p.m. in the staging area behind the park pavilion.Expect cold weather. The parade will be held no matter what, Streets Dept. Head Mike Horton said. “It’s supposed to be cold, but not wet,” he said. The annual fireworks display to Christmas music begins 30 minutes after the parade turns around at the Gun Barrel City Village and returns to the park.
Winning parade floats will be selected in five categories: Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, Best Theme: Peace Around the World and Best Lighting.
This year’s grand marshal is World War II Veteran John White who marks his 95th birthday the last day of December.
He enlisted in the military in 1942 with the Army Air Corp and retired in 1963. He served as a pilot on at least 15 different types of aircraft and then also flew with American Airlines retiring as a pilot instructor. He keeps active working for out three or more times a week and volunteers with two food pantries and works with Meals on Wheels. His son, Scott, is also retired from the Air Force with 22 years and his granddaughter, Tara White, currently serves in the Pentagon.
John has been stationed in China, Burma and flew over the Himalayas, carrying supplies and material from India to China for the allied forces in a C-46. At the end of the war, he was assigned to close a base in Greenland.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : December 2, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–State Senator Bob Hall presented a resolution to the Kaufman County Commissioners Monday urging them to support an effort in Texas to secure its electric grid from the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Such a pulse can be created from natural causes such as solar flares, solar energetic particles and coronal mass ejections, but also from man-made attacks. The detonation of a small low-yield nuclear warhead at high altitude would produce an EMP, capable of taking out the entire state’s electrical grid.
According to Hall, electricity generators have testified that should such an event occur it would be unable to repair and restore electricity. “Only air and water are more important to sustain life than electrical power,” Hall said. Studies have reported that should the electric grid in the United States go down for 11 months, the result would be the loss of 90 percent of the population, he added.
Happily, there are simple ways to guard against most disruptions caused by an EMP which are not costly. While in the military, Hall said he was charged with designing just such systems to protect or “harden” the electrical power for military installations. They require sophisticated surge protectors, capacitors and SCADA systems.
The installation of such protections adds about 5 percent to the cost of electricity delivery, he said, citing Center Point, Houston as an example.
The resolution recognizes that the Texas grid is contained within the state’s borders and gives the state a unique opportunity of protecting its electric-grid infrastructure from EMP threat; and calls on the governor, Speaker of the House and Legislature to take necessary actions to harden the power grid to protect Texans now and in the future.
Commissioners accepted the resolution unanimously.
In other business, commissioners:
• heard county treasurer Ronnie Oldfield summarize the October financial report with extension into November. Though the county’s general fund ended October with a balance of $1.265 million, with the receipts and payables of $2.5 million in November that leaves the county with a deficit of $638,634.31.
Oldfield said the deficit would be covered by using funds from the road bond fund, which totaled $5,928,938.34. The current amount left on the latest bond issuance totals $26,018,094.50, which included $15,000 of interest added to it, he reported.
The total principal and interest carried in loans by the county totals $98,492,732, he said.
• reviewed the use of electronic voting machines during the general election. Tonya Ratcliff reported just 10 complaints and one person walking away from the poll, without casting a ballot. “There was no proof of irregularities from its use, such as vote switching from one party to another,” she said.
• tabled discussion on the completion of renovations at the Kaufman Annex Building. Work is stymied due to the presence of asbestos. Three bids have been collected ranging in cost from $3,700 to $16,000. But the sticking point is the closing the building for six days required to remove the asbestos.
• resolved to apply for a Texas Community Development Block Grant for $275,000 and $13,750 in-kind match, naming a grant administrator and engineer to spec the work and signed off on a citizen participation plan for the program.
• tabled action to implement a county-wide vehicle maintenance program, creating a mechanic position.
Auditor Karen Cooper explained the processes and computer software, organization and infrastructure needed to set up the program to fund the position.
They decided to hold a workshop to flesh out the details before the next Commissioners Court Meeting. The county has wanted to move forward on this idea for two years, Pct. 2 Commissioner Skeet Phillips said, with Jakie Allen in agreement.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : November 30, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Athens City Council unanimously accepted terms for selling property to Trinity Valley Community College, at the college board’s request. The city will sell the former National Guard Armory property and the adjacent Central Park to the college for a total of $250,000 over the next five years.
City manager Philip Rodriguez was very excited to discuss this development Monday, Nov. 28 during a regular meeting of the city council as a supplemental item to its published agenda. That same evening the TVCC Board of Trustees also met to finalize the authorization to purchase the property.
The city council approved the item with a slight change, giving the city the first right of refusal, should the college ever decide to resell the property for development purposes unrelated to education. Councilman Monte Montgomery pointed out that the college board of directors is subject to change and the city should make sure the property is held for the public good.
When the motion passed, audience members responded with applause.
A portion of the armory is currently being used as the City’s Development Services Center and Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The City will rent the front portion of the building at $10 per month plus pay for its use of utilities for a period of up to 18 months or until the Cain Center expansion is complete. The city will also have sole use of the EOC if needed for an emergency, during the lease.
State law requires the city to use proceeds of park sales to benefit other parks within Athens.
“I’m thrilled we found a way to support TVCC through this sale,” Rodriguez said. “TVCC had discussed wanting to expand its footprint and services here in Athens, and the Council made a great decision in helping the college with that goal. There’s no question that TVCC is a valuable part of our culture and our local economy. They have deep roots here in Athens, and this property only strengthens that important tie to our community.”
Terms of the sale include TVCC covering all closing costs and delivering to the city $125,000 at closing. Another $100,000 will be delivered over the next five years in the form of 10 scholarships each year for the endowment of Athens residents, leaving another $25,000 to be paid by the end of the fifth year.
In other business, council members:
Heard a plea from Larue resident Brent E. Muecke to consider using the current City Hall, when and if it should be considered real estate for sale (in light of plans moving forward to move the city’s administration hub to the Cain Center), as a Senior Citizens facility. The centrally located building could be open daily for various activities enjoyed by retired seniors, such as a center for socializing, group hobbies such as sewing, quilting, knitting, artful painting, playing dominoes, card games, light exercise classes, coffee drinking, along with outdoor activities, such as horseshoes and washer pitching. He reminded the council that the city is designated as a Go Texan Retirement Community.
Received updates on water and wastewater rehabilitation projects
Agreed to replace the West Scott Street ground storage tank which is now in a state of noncompliance with state guidelines with a concrete one, whose functional life is estimated at greater than 50 years.
Authorized the purchase of five SUVs and one mid-size sedan for the police department from Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford through the State of Texas purchasing contract in the amount of $149,744. This purchase is within the department’s budget.
Named Bancorp South the city’s agent of record for medical and dental insurance, due to its lowered commission rate of 3 percent (current agent contract is 4 percent) plus other benefits, including a one-stop shopping enrollment guide. Councilman Edward McCain abstained due to conflict of interest.