Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 26, 2015


By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP—Nearly 100 Kaufman County residents met to talk about the condition of roads in Precinct 4 Tuesday. At Kings Creek Golf Club in Kemp, hosts Jim Valentine and past candidate for commissioner Joe Windham opened the publicized meeting with a little background, history and current state of affairs before other voices jumped in to add their complaints to the mix.
Among those present were Kemp ISD Superintendent Edward Phillips, school trustee Lynda Page and representatives from the Mabank Fire Department.
Windham said before the current sheriff took office and the new jail was built 11 cents of every dollar of tax money was dedicated to roads. In those days, roads were built to last and all was right with the world, according to him. Now with a growing county population around 100,000 just 5.2 cents of every dollar goes into the Road and Bridge Fund shared by four commissioners.
“We want money for roads to be the county’s priority,” Windham said, pointing out that twice the voters have turned down a new courthouse building.
“We shouldn’t get anything else until we get good roads,” he said. He feels the same way about completing funding for the new 9-1-1 Center housed in the former armory or adding another court.
“You’ll find that roads rarely get on the agenda (at Commissioners Court),” he said. “We need to stick together and say ‘you’re not having anymore until we get good roads.’ We’ve got to have transportation.”
He said the Sheriff’s Office, including the jail system, is funded to the tune of $4 million a year.
“I’ve been broken into four times and the Sheriff’s Office never showed up. The CID is a joke. Every one of you need to be getting angry … very, very angry,” he said.
Not only was he angry that roads are not be funded to the level necessary, Windham said the quality of road maintenance is not near good enough. He said last year, CR 3094 was repaired and $15 million spent on it. “It’s all coming apart,” he said. “Once one of the best roads in the county, it is quickly becoming one of the worst roads.”
He further claimed 61 miles of county roads are nearly impassable.
Fred Carter a Mabank Fire Department volunteer recalled a recent ambulance call to pick up someone who had died at home and the road to get there was so torn up with potholes the top speed was 10 mph. What if we were responding to an emergency? He asked.
Some claimed that it will take a tragedy, likely one involving a school bus full of kids on one of these rural roads, before anything meaningful will get done. Some have suggested a tragedy has already occurred but no one knows for certain. Only questions about why after a legless man was killed in a head-on collision driving on a sunny Father’s Day on CR 4019 that potholes were filled within days.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jakie Allen was notably absent, explaining he wasn’t interested in attending a gripe session but would welcome a list of possible solutions.
Windham voiced that county residents have to be ready to accept a property tax increase of two to three cents on every $100 of taxable property.
He noted that those in the room older than 65 would be exempt due to the tax ceiling on the amount paid by age 65, as long as you live in the home. “Even if the 11 cents were restored, that will not be enough,” Windham said.
Others said if funding is being diverted to house prisoners, shouldn’t their labor be used to fix roads?
A woman used her phone to look up a state law outlining the duties of county commissioners, among them submitting a monthly audit on roads.
Another woman looked up the amount the county is to collect from car registration that’s to be dedicated to road maintenance, is that going into the Road and Bridge Fund, she asked.
Windham also suggested if a piece of equipment goes down in Precinct 4, shouldn’t the commissioners pool their hard assets to cover one another, so work doesn’t have to come to a halt during good weather because a grinder or two stop working.
It was also noted that there are 12,600 registered voters in the county of which only 3,800 voted in the last election. Being a registered voter, getting involved by following the activity of Commissioners Court through online videos or in person and using your voting power sends a strong message to elected officials, Woodham said.
“My recommendation is we work to raise more tax money dedicated to roads, by creating a voting block,” Woodham said.
Budget workshops start in August. “Make sure the Sheriff doesn’t get all the money,” Woodham said. He held up a sheaf of papers, representing the 2015 FY budget.
“Every department needs to be audited,” he said. “I found $4 million set aside in miscellaneous and office furniture,” he said. “Stop the waste.”
After the meeting, a gentleman who’s been clipping newspapers for years on the subject of potholes approached The Monitor to tell it of a recently developed piece of equipment and a cold slurry mix that includes an emulsion, aggregate and activator for patching potholes that has proven to last up to 12 years. It was introduced in Dallas in 2002 was well liked, except for the labor intensity. Since then the company has developed and produced a piece of equipment that greatly reduces the labor.
Supposedly, Dallas is about to close in on a contract with the company.
“It’s a new way of filling potholes that is cost-effective and lasts a long time,” Bill Harris told The Monitor. The company can be found at dotpotholefiller.com.
“It’s obvious that the ‘throw and go’ method of pothole repair is pouring good money down a rathole, maybe it’s time to try something different.”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 23, 2015

Flag Rally-beginning-better

By 2 p.m. Sunday more than 100 vehicles had gathered in the parking lot of the Heritage Center in Gun Barrel City for a rally to uphold the value of the Confederate flag, alongside the American flag, Texas Lone Star and Texas Confederate flag for an unescorted parade of vehicles to Athens. Organizers Susan Paul and Billy Wayne Roundtree Jr. told The Monitor they are not racists. “If a few can protest to take the Confederate flag down, a few of us can stand up to keep it flying. It will come down in Texas if we don’t stand up for it,” they agreed. Vehicles, mostly trucks, streamed their way along State Highway 334 through Gun Barrel City on their way to U.S. Highway 175 and then onto the Loop around Athens in a show of solidarity and to create a positive image of the proud symbol of southern states risen in secession from a union perceived as destroying a way of life valued by an agrarian society. A burgeoning industrial north was viewed as gaining more and more control over the economy in the mid-19th century. INSETS: Excitement builds as the time draws near to hit the road. Sixteen years after statehood, Texas declared its secession from the United States of America Feb. 1, 1861. After replacing its governor, Sam Houston, when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Texas joined the Confederate States on March 2, 1861. Some Texan military units fought in the Civil War east of the Mississippi River. But for the most part, Texas supplied soldiers and horses for Confederate forces until a blockade in mid-1863 by Union gunboats on the Mississippi River effectively stopped large transfers of men, horses and cattle. In addition, blockades of gulf ports in Galveston and elsewhere also halted cotton crops from getting to market.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 19, 2015

By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–A few months ago, Aqua World USA owner Jacques Van der Plas set out to rebrand and reorganize the newly-formed local water park to offer more services and attract people from all over Texas.
“We have seven boats including a Hobie Cat, pontoons and sail boats, and seven jet skis,” he said. “And we are open for large corporate event rentals or private parties.”
All day rentals include all water equipment, vendors, restrooms, and fishing and camping sites.
Aqua World USA rents stand-up paddle boats and kayaks as well as being a dealer for both forms of water toys.
Aqua World USA offers food seven days a week, a dining area and bait shop.
“We are located right next door to Coconut Bar & Grill so you can boat to Coconut or Aqua World and use both facilities in one stop,” Van der Plas said.
He is partnering with local entertainment business Shelton Live Event Services to bring more interaction and enjoyment to the community.
Shelton Live owners Robbie and Cory Shelton of Kemp will schedule live entertainment at the pavilion and create a floating stage on the water.
“We are building a foundation for community members of all ages,” Van der Plas said.
New additions to the resort include a gazebo, water volleyball court and windsurfing lessons, and a new kitchen. Individual and group rates are available for any size party or water sports lessons.
“I want high school and college age youth in the area to have somewhere to go and something to do,” Van der Plas said.
Debrey Balwin of Ennis brings her daughters and grandchildren to Aqua World often to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
“We enjoy the atmosphere and the people here,” she said. “My grandchildren love to swim in the lake.”
Van der Plas invites locals to check it out. “Drop by to see the beautiful sunset, the romantic lights and feel the summer breeze on your face.”
Also offered are kids movies and events, night time movies, dancing and sunset cruises.
Aqua World USA opens at 6 a.m. every day of the week. Rental water toys must be back by 8 p.m., holidays included.
“We will have holiday celebrations several time throughout the year. We had prize giveaways, fireworks, face painting and silk screening on demand on July 4. We will continue to have various fun activities on each holiday of the year,” Van de Plas said.
Aqua World USA is located at 2001 E. Cedar Creek Parkway in Seven Points and is equipt with restrooms (no showers) for their guests’ convenience.
For more information, contact (903) 802-0323 or info@aquaworldusa.com.