By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–Kaufman Commissioners initiated a 90-day burn ban at the recommendation of Fire Marshal Randy Richards. The ban began Monday, Aug. 8 and ends Sept. 6, unless rescinded sooner due to the substantial return of moisture in local conditions.
“It’s hot and dry and getting drier,” Richards said. The U.S. Forest Service sets a Keetch-Bynum Drought Index score of 575 for consideration of a burn ban, he explained. The current average countywide is 608 he said. “According to the forecast, in two weeks we’ll be approaching the 700 range, which is the top of the 800-point chart,” he said. “It’s getting pretty crispy,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Jimmy Vrzalik said.
Firefighters have been “hopping” and assisting neighboring counties east and south of Kaufman. “The fires are not enormously large but the heat wave is coming from the east and moving our way,” Richards said.
Commissioners also agreed to enter into a contract with Star Transit, a public bus system serving the county to provide $6,037.40 monthly to support the service. Star Transit Executive Director Omega Ann Hawkins explained that due to a number of changes in state and federal funding over the past two years, the transit board adjusted its accounting to separate all the major entities and the number of hours served to determine how much each needed, including the county at-large. Previously, the board was able to furnish the service from ridership payments, grants, public funds and donations. The contract goes into effect Oct. 1.
According to the initial contract, the county’s portion is figured on $50.76 per hour in costs for 128 hours monthly. This total is mitigated somewhat by ridership and grant funding reducing the monthly cost by a little more than $450.
After the second year, the county would be approached to assist with any needed capital improvements, including purchasing new vehicles. The contract allows for termination by either party and is subject to a renewal vote on an annual basis.
Star Transit serves Mesquite, Balch Springs, Seagoville and Rockwall and Kaufman Counties. In addition to two fixed routes, any person can call and schedule a pickup and delivery within its service area by calling (877) 631-5278 a day ahead. The Kaufman Trolley operates 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. More information is available on line.
Commissioners learned of a reimbursement payment to the City of Kaufman in association with the State Highway 34 bypass project in the amount of $388,412.67 comes over the $6,000,000 budget the county contributed toward the project. Auditor Karen McLoyd told commissioners there is $210,568 left in that line item. The agenda item was tabled. A ribbon cutting for the project that began about 22 months ago in 2014 is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12 on Farm-to-Market 1388 (S. Houston St) from the old SH 34 toward Oak Grove just past the Kaufman High School to the new SH 34 intersection.
In other business, commissioners:
• noted the termination of current contract with the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is coming up Oct. 31, under that contract, the city is paying $65 per animal. The new contract starting Nov. 1 calls for a flat monthly fee of $11,500, which seemed steep to commissioners who discussed alternatives at length with Pam Corder running point. Judge Bruce Wood noted that the Humane Society board was also having its challenges to remain viable and that it has served the county well over the years.
The county has earmarked $150,000 to seed the construction of a shelter within the county on public land connected to the Law Enforcement Center, which would need a lot of dirt fill to build up the site. Corder reported that Forney had recently built a modest shelter with 12 kennels to h ouse 24 dogs and a cat room for $2,000,000.
• approved the purchase of a 3500 Chevrolet pick-up with dump bed for Precinct 2 Road and Bridge in the amount of $46,654 from Musser Motors, a price which beat the Buy Board offer.
• set a few dates in association with the adoption of a budget and tax rate for Fishcal Year 2016-17. The property appraisal district will have a tax roll to present to commissioners by Aug. 15, they heard.
• accepted the resignation of Lorie Floyd as Human Resource Director and appointed staff Tiffany Badon to serve in the interim effective Aug. 29. Floyd is going to work for the Texas Association of Counties.
Posted by : August 10, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : August 5, 2016| On :
By Emmalee Doss
MABANK–The Mabank City Council and Tri-County Library board are considering an agreement that would bring the public library under city management. Library board president Ronnie Davis said the move would give the library some much-desired financial stability to continue to pay a director and any other personnel deemed necessary to its operations. The move will also open other grant opportunities it didn’t have before.
“We’ve come a long way from a few boxes of discarded books,” Davis told The Monitor.
The Tri-County Library began 25 years ago as a nonprofit and today houses the Paula Davis Genealogical Library, maintained by the organization known as The Rootseekers.
Tri-County Library resides in a building owned and maintained by the city, just across from City Hall. The six-member library board would continue to function as an advisory committee, Davis said, to help with ongoing fund-raising to augment the city’s undertaking and oversee special projects the library may undertake. The city will nominate three of the six board members.
A final draft of the agreement was reviewed by council members Aug. 2 and the library board is expected to sign-off on it when it meets at noon Wednesday, Aug. 10, Davis said.
Councilmembers also examined a service agreement with Kaufman County’s Consolidated 9-11 Communications Systems Operations. A previous draft had included a three-year-review process, which in the current form was deleted. However, the council restored the review process and approved the rest of the contract. The city’s portion of the expenses in the system are based on population, as it is for any other city sharing in the service. Estimated expenses to the city are set at $3,500 per year in addition to a maintenance fee (as yet unknown).
The city will pursue its application to the 2016 Texas Community Downtown Revitalization Program Fund Award, with help from GrantWorks. The city proposes to use the grant to repave the sidewalks in downtown Mabank and restripe and repair parking and install new lighting along Market Street. The city’s match totals $75,000 for the revitalization project.
Council members also accepted a donation of $2,500 from the Mabank Chapter of Cedar Creek Chamber of Commerce for the city’s assistance with the chapter’s Festival of Arts in May. “Now we are not going to tell you how to spend it,” Chamber of Commerce representative Shannon Steakley said, after mentioning that the veterans memorial, located in the city park by the pavilion, needs more benches and plaques. “There is no festival, without the city,” she said.
In other business, council members:
• heard potential employee benefits of Aflac insurance.
• received a report about new Police Department trainees.
• closed the Mabank Centennial Committee bank account.
Posted by : August 5, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
Monitor Sports Writer
MABANK–School might not be in session yet but the Mabank track team is already hard at work getting in shape for the season.
The team ran at the T.A.A.F (Texas Amature Athletic Federation) State Meet in McAllen July 16 and had four athletes win their events.
Aaron Wilson won the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. Sky Wolf won the 400 meter dash and Jacob Johnson and Tanner Henderson won the 800 meter run.
The team is looking to improve on the success they had last season and to be in shape when the season starts again.
T.A.A.F. State Track & Field qualification begins at the local level with the track athlete being registered through their member city track team, affiliate track team or as an unattached athlete. Circuit meets, depending on region, are available to the athlete for practice. The T.A.A.F. registered athlete must qualify through regional competition. Once the athlete qualifies at region level, he or she advances to the T.A.A.F. State Track Meet held at the T.A.A.F. Summer Games of Texas.