Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : January 18, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–A bomb threat caused the Walmart Store in Gun Barrel City to close Sunday night. Local police and fire departments were called to the scene. Sales associates and customers were evacuated and not allowed to return until it was determined that the premises were safe around 2:45 a.m.
According to police, the call came in at 10:45 p.m. A bomb threat code was enacted throughout the store; and customers and sales associates were turned out into the foggy parking lot.
Investigators learned an unknown female had called the electronics department and stated there was a bomb inside the store. Police contacted the Dallas PD Bomb Squad and a bomb-sniffing dog team conducted a search, but located no explosives, Gun Barrel City Police Chief Damon Boswell reported.
There were reports that the threat was possibly a diversion for a break-into the Sears Outlet near the old Chief’s Landing on the west end of town,but The Monitor confirmed there was no break-in. However, the repercussion of the store’s closure didn’t just include lost sales opportunities. The store was unable to be restocked completely for the Monday Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday which had some customers inconvenienced and disgruntled.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : January 13, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–The cities of Mabank and Kemp have entered into an interlocal agreement. Mabank is going to sell water to Kemp, though Kemp officials report its plant is currently producing water, just not enough all the time.
West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District stopped sending water to the city Dec. 20, according to City of Kemp city administrator Regina Kaiser. “They threatened to shut off the water if we didn’t do something by the 21st but then they shut if off on the 20th, so it didn’t matter whether we complied or not,” she told The Monitor following a city council meeting Tuesday.
The interlocal agreement was signed that same day by both parties and became effective immediately, Kemp Mayor Laura Peace said. During a blistering summer of 2012, the Mabank utility employees worked night and day to complete a two-inch line to Kemp, when its plant failed, water leaks drained the water tower and the town was left high and dry for four days.
A query to WCCMUD about why water service was terminated Dec. 20 went unanswered by press time.
The interlocal agreement was one of three agenda items pertaining to the Kemp’s water system.
Kemp officials are also seeking a grant-funding package from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a new water plant, totaling $1.5 million. Alan Plummer Associates, Inc. has agreed to provide engineering services for the design phase and plan to revisit the plant Jan. 24 with city officials to study the aged plant and site for a new one.
The city also approved an agreement with the Heritage Institute of Sustainability for engineering consulting services. The city has a working relationship with the institute’s prime representative, Valerie Shoup, and Shoup has a strong relationship with Alan Plummer Associates, Inc.
Kaiser said that relationship and understanding the city’s need has motivated the engineering firm to discount its design services.
City officials are working from a three to six-month scenario for getting the funding package in place and a three-month window to construct a new plant. Officials did not address in open session its plans for repayment of a loan for a plant serving 710 water meters. However, the city continues to seek grants and low-interest funding sources, Kaiser said.
Tuesday’s meeting went immediately into a brief executive session before addressing the rest of the agenda.
With surcharges to help pay down existing debt, Kemp water customers are already seeing water bills climb, it was reported. At last estimate, there were around 700 water connections to the Kemp water system.
No discussion of the agreement the city has with WCCMUD was offered and no representatives from the utility were present at the meeting. On Dec. 16 the PUC approved the application for WCCMUD to be the City’s water provider with adjustments made to Kemp’s license (CCN). However, the same day, the application was also dismissed, per request of the City of Kemp and WCCMUD.
In other business, council members:
• noted a 2.37 percent rate hike in services from Progressive Waste Solutions. The city plans to absorb the increase and not pass this onto its customers, Peace said.
• approved the sale of residential lot now owned by the city’s Economic Development Corporation to the neighboring land owner.
• named the second and fourth Tuesdays as regularly scheduled city council meetings, giving the council two opportunities to take care of city business with greater timeliness. The council plans to continue meeting at 7 p.m., primarily on the second Tuesday, but with the option to add another meeting on the fourth Tuesday as necessary, without having to call for a special meeting and the super majority that requires, Peace explained.
• agreed to provide animal control services for the City of Tool for one year, in exchange for the transfer of ownership of their animal control truck and equipment. “This is an opportunity to be a good neighbor,” Councilman Barry Lummus commented.
• announced the Wildflower Festival is set for Saturday, April 8, with reservations already being taken by city hall. Last year, about 50 vendors participated in the spring gathering. Entertainment is being lined up with local performers Kadie Lynn and her band, and the Road Weary Travelers.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : January 11, 2017


By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–Kaufman County Commissioners met for the first time in 2017 in an upstairs meeting room in the courthouse annex due to repairs needed to the usual downstairs room, where a vehicle was inadvertently driven through the plate glass side in the parking area on Jan. 3. Commissioners agreed that the repairs should incorporate a 15-foot expansion of the room to better accommodate the public attending Commissioners’ Court meetings. Facilities maintenance chief Bobby Bridges is to compile to scope of work and move forward on collecting estimates.
Sheriff Bryan Beavers presented commissioners with a new organizational chart and pay rates for each of 85 positions in his department, noting the movement of six officers from administration to patrol. He reported the department receives on average 271 calls for service daily and the percent of cases cleared in 2016 beats both the statistics for state (32.4 percent) and national (33.3 percent). In 2016, deputies reported on 9,225 incidents, forwarded 4,847 of those to investigators, who cleared 1,788 cases (36.9 percent) resulting in 2,008 arrests.
Beavers further reports the average daily inmate population in 2016 was 418 with an average daily admission rate of 14 per day with 14 daily releases.
Other figures included animal control, in which 723 dogs and 351 cats were picked up in 2016. Enforcement on commercial vehicles in 2016 resulted in 2,385 contacts and citations totaling $268,976. Judge Bruce Wood noted that 60 percent of county residents are in unincorporated areas and fall under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction for service and incident calls.
In a final bit of business for the sheriff, commissioners approved uniform pay for investigators and command staff be issued through payroll to address IRS concerns on clothing that is also considered street clothes, Beavers explained.
With a budget line item for facilities planning for the courthouse of $45,000, Commissioners agreed to hire Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture to assist the county with a master plan for renovation work in the courthouse.
Wood explained the vestibule is out of compliance of safety standards and if the county wants funding assistance, this is a necessary step. “The State Historical Commission is well aware of our condition and is taking an interest in our plans,” Wood added. “This is the beginning of a long process.”
Commissioners accepted a preliminary plat for a lake side subdivision coming off CR 4042 in Precinct 4 called Edgewater. Plans call for 145 house lots on 250 acres. Lot prices average $200,000 on Cedar Creek Lake and $60,000 for off-lake sites, developer Cedar Creek Preservation LLC stated. The subdivision plan is to keep the roads private and privately maintained.
A spokesperson from a second development, this one on Travis Ranch, explained the high-end housing subdivision’s plan to replace the sole public access road from Kaufman County to Lake Ray Hubbard with a new road and seeks abandonment of the old one, once the new one is opened.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved Farmers Electric Coop to construct a power distribution facility across Armstrong Road, to provide power to a residence on Farm-to-Market 1392.
• reappointed Terry Thomas, Fred Carter, Taylor Golden, John Loar and Earnest Owens to the Emergency Services District No. 2 board for two-year terms. Also, Chuck Carpenter, Mark Smith and Tricia Smith to ESD 3 Board. Also, Robert Fair and Bart Mathews to ESD 1.
• named Robert Hunter as Veterans Service Officer for the county. Commissioner Skeet Phillips said 28 applications were received and narrowed down to six candidates, “all good” with the committee unanimously selecting Hunter as the finalist.
• nominated Bruce Bynum, City Bank president in Forney, to represent the county on the Tax Appraisal Board. Tax assessor-collector Brenda Samples has a nonvoting presence on the board. New Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike David Hunt said as a former appraisal board member, he appreciates this change. He said there were often conflicts of interest when the tax assessor-collector was a voting member of the board.
• contracted for road materials as recommended by purchasing agent for primary, secondary and alternate providers.
• approved preliminary documents to set up Department of Agriculture Block Grant on behalf of Abel-Springs Special Utility District
• paid bills totaling $1,019,855; of which a half a million was in employee insurance, $99,000 for quarterly payments, $73,000 in utility costs and $84,000 for road and bridge.
• heard the Jan. 23 meeting will update commissioners on road bond projects.