Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : October 2, 2014

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell

The youngest volunteers of the annual Cedar Creek Lake Cleanup enjoy playing a round of “Name that Disney TV Show” from a listen to the theme music during the after party.
Many more photos from this event can be found in the Thursday, October 2, 2014 issue of The Monitor.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 25, 2014

By David Webb
Monitor Correspondent

KAUFMAN—The Kaufman County Commissioners’ Court gave final approval to the new budget Sept. 15.
The court announced the new $34 million proposed budget a week earlier that includes $1,200 raises for all employees and elected officials and expense supplements for justices of the peace and proficiency pay for constables who enhance their skills with new training.
The new budget will be funded by a property tax rate of 57.62 cents per $100 valuation. The tax rate includes a two-cent increase to cover debt service on a road bond project voters approved in November 2013.
The tax rate includes 7.40 cents for roads and bridges, which is the same amount as last year. The county plans to spend $7 million on road and bridge maintenance in the new fiscal year in addition to the bond money voters approved for new construction projects.
In other action, the court:
• appointed Kaufman County Assistant Fire Marshal Randy Richards as the new fire marshal and also the director of the Public Works Department. The court also consolidated the Environmental Department under the direction of Richards. The action followed the retirements of Kaufman County Fire Marshal Larry Ewing and Kaufman Count Public Works Director Kathy Morris.
• approved a new railroad crossing agreement for Helms Trail in Precinct 2 between Union Pacific Railroad Company, Anthony Properties Development, Inc., Kaufman County, and the Las Lomas MUD No.4.
The court approved the new crossing with the stipulation the current Helms Trail crossing won’t be closed until the new crossing is opened and the road is constructed with eight inch concrete compared to the county’s required six inches. The crossing will be constructed over the Union Pacific Railroad near Windmill Farms Boulevard. The crossing will remain closed until plans are drawn for the re-direction of Helms Trail to Windmill Farms Boulevard. The existing crossing will be closed upon completion. The relocation of Helms Trail is proposed to make way for development on the east side of Helms Trail which will approach from the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Terrell. Roads will be constructed to connect Helms Trail to the development at Las Lomas Parkway in Terrell and the Gateway Bridge and proposed development in Forney.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 21, 2014

Eustace PD received $707K worth from 1033 federal plan

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–The Eustace Police Department is the fifth police department to be suspended from the Department of Defense 1033 Program that provides military surplus to law enforcement agencies.
According to news reports the Defense Logistics Agency enacted the suspension Sept. 8 and turned the case over to its Office of Inspector General for investigation.
Eustace Police Chief Ken Holder was terminated by the city council Sept. 4 for “violations of the employee handbook and police department code of conduct.”
City officials have said they cannot comment further on said violations.
Eustace Police Department’s property room underwent an inventory conducted by the Texas Rangers Sept. 8 to “determine whether the department has adequate controls over seized property, drugs, and evidence to ensure that they are tracked and safeguarded.”
An independent audit was asked for as a result of the removal of the police chief; to establish a baseline for an incoming police chief to begin,” Department of Public Safety spokesperson Jean Dark said Tuesday in a statement.
During an Aug. 7 meeting of the Eustace City Council, no action was taken on an agenda item referring to the 1033 program. Council members were to discuss and vote on an appraisal of equipment procured through the program. The Monitor was informed that no inventory of 1033 equipment was available for the council to review at that time.
According to DLA records obtained by KLTV 7, the Eustace Police Department received $707,000 worth of equipment from the program.
Those items ranged from a truck tractor worth $166,233 to M-16 rifles and even an elliptical issued to the police department.
Federal review called
The federal program has come under scrutiny after the heavy police presence and response in Ferguson, Missouri, following the officer-involved shooting of a young man. After those incidents, President Barack Obama ordered a review of the program.
On Aug. 19, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby acknowledged the “hard job” law enforcement officers are engaged in and that some of the equipment they get through this program makes their job a little easier.
Several groups oppose the 1033 program, including one in Texas.
Anton Montoya of Stop1033.org points out that smaller communities often lack the needed oversight that would recognize misuse or abuse of the military equipment.
Proposed law introduced
Tuesday, Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014. The bill would place restrictions and transparency measures on the 1033 program.
They contend that the program “blurs the line between military and civilian policing,” presenting public safety issues and undermines the right of the accused to due process of law.
The Act would:
• prevent transfers of equipment inappropriate for local policing, such as high-caliber weapons, long-range acoustic devices, grenade launchers, drones, armored vehicles, etc.
• end incentives to use equipment in circumstances when the use is unnecessary. (Removing the requirement departments must use equipment within one year of receipt)
• require agencies certify they can account for all equipment.
• add requirements to enforce tracking of equipment and transfers to agencies.