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.
Posted by : January 11, 2017| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : January 11, 2017| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACE–The Eustace City Council selected a water treatment application as its proposed Community Development Block Grant project. This fulfills Phase II of a water improvement that will put the city in good standing for the future, Mayor Elicia Sanders said Jan. 5.
Specifically, the project calls for the addition of a second water clarifier to the city’s water utility, which will allow for greater flexibility for maintenance with uninterrupted service and double the life time of its water plant when properly maintained.
Phase I laid the foundation for dual clarifiers with all mirrored systems in place ready to accommodate a second clarifier when the funding became available. The estimated costs total $320,000. The grant funding is approximately $250,000 with a 5 percent, or $13,500, match. The city has been building savings toward the project. City Secretary Sandy Lane reported to the city council that those funds total $90,513 at the current time. Phase I included engineering fees and the electronics for two clarifiers, costing the city about $600,000 with help from grant funding a few years back.
Should the city win the funding for the grant, the project could get underway in 18 months. Utility manager Gene Burns was directed to have access to the savings, up to $30,000, to complete needed repairs to a sewer line and other small projects to be ready before adding the second clarifier. Among the projects needing repair include a sewer line that is 12 feet deep and 300 feet long, he said.
The other project the council could have chosen was the sinking of another water well, which is also needed.
Grant project coordinator Schaumburg and Polk, out of Tyler, suggested the firm could put together an application for the Texas Water Development Board, which provides cities with funding packages for 100 – 120 projects annually, based on cost and need. Schaumburg-Polk engineer Jason Miles, who lives near Purtis Creek Park, will work with Burns on the application. “It’s a high-level need in a low income area, just the kind of project it funds,” the grant manager said.
The City Council also approved the installment of a 120-foot cell tower with new slim-design without guide wires to facilitate greater wireless connectivity in the city. A representative from Mobilities told the council the company has identified Eustace and Mabank as high-need areas for greater connectivity and propose to install 5G slim towers to backhaul cellular signal in the area. The design includes a mere 48-inch circumference, he said.
The greatest connectivity will be within a two-mile radius of the tower, he added. The council authorized Burns to work with the company to identify the best site for the project on city property, most likely at the sewer plant, Burns said.
“Once installed and operational, cellular users will see immediate improvement,” Mobilities representative Brad French said.
The company is installing 56 such towers across the nation, many in Texas rural areas, French said. The Newport Beach, Calif. Company has a regional office in Dallas. The company was asking the council for permission to install a tower in the city’s right-of-way, as sited by their engineers. Burns pointed out that the location happens to be in a bar-ditch and that he could find a better site for it, a mere quarter mile away. The installation will not cost the city anything, it was noted.
Under departmental reports, the council heard:
• Bank balance for the water department stands at $68,818 after bills are paid with $90,513 in savings. The general fund has $92,452 after bills are paid and $22,508 in savings.
• The office will be closed Monday, Jan. 16 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
• Lou will be manning the office for a couple of days while Kim and Sandy are out on vacation leave.
• Burns report he secured a road materials packer for the city from a reputable seller in Murchison for $7,800. And that road patching work will resume when the right weather conditions prevail.
• Police Chief Jason Perrini report the rifles purchased by the city have arrived and training is underway. He also noted there had been a brief standoff just outside the city, involving a 90-year-old man recently with the Sheriff’s Office in charge.
Posted by : January 6, 2017| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–On the same day the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) accepted the application to amend the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity filed by West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District, it also granted a withdrawal of said application.
Following an executive session on Dec. 19 of the WCCMUD Board Meeting, the board’s attorney stated for the public that the PUC has found the utility’s application to be administratively complete but made no mention of the dismissal of the application by mutual request of both the City of Kemp and the utility.
When asked for an explanation for the continued gridlock, Kemp Mayor Laura Peace responds: “We have had issues arise with WCCMUD and are attempting to work through them for the benefit of our citizens. It is our desire to work directly with the WCCMUD board and not through the media. Our citizens are our only priority and we are taking steps to insure that the best interests of our citizens are being served.”
Attorney Chad C. Rook for WCCMUD board responded: “As noted at the December board meeting WCCMUD both desires and plans to continue negotiations with City of Kemp officials, just as the mayor suggests.”
The City of Kemp maintains its CCN. WCCMUD has its office built in Kemp, pipeline laid and is delivering water to the Kemp area.
A Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) gives a CCN holder the exclusive right to provide retail water and/or sewer utility service to an identified geographic area. Chapter 13 of the Texas Water Code requires a CCN holder to provide continuous and adequate service to the area within its CCN boundary. Municipalities and districts normally are not required to have a CCN; however, some municipalities and districts do have a CCN. A district or municipality may not provide services within an area for which another utility holds a CCN unless the district or municipality has a CCN itself for that area.
On Dec. 16, 2016, the PUC issued under Docket No. 46211 its staff recommendation that the application be found administratively complete. Under Control No. 46211, Item No. 13.
The background portion of the docket stated that on July 25, 2016 the utility filed the application to amend its water CCN and to cancel the City of Kemp’s water and sewer CCNs in Henderson and Kaufman counties. It also recounted that on Oct. 25, 2016, the administrative law judge required PUC staff to file a supplemental recommendation that if followed would bring the application into administrative completeness, on or before Dec. 16. Therefore, the pleading was timely filed and accepted for filing under the appropriate administrative code.
The docket then goes on to list the utilities operating in the area be notified of the acceptance of the application. And provide the PUC with affidavits that notice was provided within a specific timeline.
The docket is time stamped 1:53 p.m.
Item No. 14 of Docket No. 46211 is Order No. 4 granting request to withdraw application; dismissing docket. “This Order addresses West Cedar Creek’s and City of Kemp’s letter to the Commission agreeing to withdraw this application.” The Administrative Code allows a party that initiated a proceeding to withdraw its application/petition, without prejudice to refiling of same, at any time before that party has presented its direct case. It is time stamped 2:31 p.m.
Item No. 12 is a copy of the letter sent from the City of Kemp attorney Terrence S. Welch addressed to WCCMUC attorney Rook dated Dec. 14, 2016 and timestamped received by PUC at 9:11 a.m. Dec. 16, 2016 reads:
“As you and I, as well as our clients, have discussed and agreed, the City of Kemp no longer wishes to participate in the decertification of its water CCN and further, we have jointly agreed that the foregoing application pending before the Public Utility Commission of Texas should be dismissed.”