Posted by : March 1, 2015
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New business inquiries directed to EDC, which will work closely with city staff
By David Webb
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City Council gave the Economic Development Corp. the responsibility of negotiating with new businesses following a lengthy debate Tuesday.
The council approved a motion by Councilwoman Carol Calkins that City Manager Gerry Boren direct all future inquires and negotiations with restaurants to the EDC. The motion also stated that Boren and his staff would work closely on the development of 380 agreements for restaurants and other commercial interests.
Calkin said she had worked closely with Boren and EDC President David Skains on the plan, and that they both agreed the approach would be beneficial by limiting negotiations to “one voice.” The councilwoman said Boren should be more focused on “the major areas of managing the city services, including police, fire, parks, and infrastructure including roads.”
Before the council approved Calkins’ motion, Councilman Marty Goss, a longtime critic of the EDC, objected to the plan and amended the motion to remove any mention of 380 agreements, which are allowed under the Texas Local Government Code to provide money, loans, city personnel and city services to promote economic development.
In a 3-2 vote, the council rejected Goss’ amendment and approved Calkins’ motion. Mayor Jim Braswell and Councilman Ronald Wryick voted with Calkins. Councilman Rodney Bevill voted with Goss.
After the meeting, Goss said the council’s approval of the motion “muddied the waters.” He complained that the EDC directors do not understand their roles, and that they believe they possess more authority than they really do.
About 18 months ago, the council gave the city manager sole authority to negotiate 380 agreements with restaurants only during a period of conflict between the EDC and the council. “This does not need to be rehashed,” Goss said during the debate.
Goss said the council, city staff and EDC had not been following the city’s charter. That failure led to all of the conflict between the council and EDC, he said. “If we follow the charter, a lot of the problems we have been having will go away,” he said.
Goss said the city’s 380 agreements are standard instruments that do not need to be negotiated. The city’s policy on the agreements is, “If they don’t ask, we don’t offer them,” according to city officials.
In response to Goss, Calkins argued that the 380 agreements developed by the city in the past proved to be flawed. “It is not tried and true,” Calkins said. “In effect, it is incorrect at the present time.”
Calkins said her motion did not move responsibility for preparation of the actual 380 agreement away from city staff. It only gave responsibility for the discussion and negotiation of incentives to the EDC.
After the meeting Goss said that he believes Gun Barrel City has outgrown the use of a volunteer board of directors to direct EDC business, and that a professional director should be hired to coordinate economic development in the city.
Calkins said in an e-mail she disagrees with Goss’ assessment of the EDC. “I really do not understand where he is coming from,” she said. “I have been quite impressed with the credentials and professional resumes of the EDC board. From attending their meetings and watching the video meetings, it is apparent to me that they take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously.”
In other action, the council:
• tabled all discussion about plans to develop a farmers market in Gun Barrel City on Main Street at the site of the old city hall building until a special meeting called for 4 p.m. Monday, March 2.
• authorized Boren to apply for a Local Government Management Assessment Program that will measure efficiency. The program is a free service managed by the Texas Comptroller.
• learned city staff estimated the economic impact of July Fest to be about $191,000.
• ordered city staff to ensure that the allocation of hotel/motel occupancy tax revenue complies with legal requirements.
• heard reports about city staff plans to update building and fire codes.
• discussed plans for city officials to attend National Incident Management System training for disaster preparation.
Posted by : February 15, 2015
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Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS A man charged with kidnapping is behind bars at the Henderson County Jail, after a 2-month-old girl he had taken from her mother Feb. 3 in Gun Barrel City was returned.
Jimmy Dale Wilson, most likely the child’s biological father, turned himself in to the sheriff two days later. He is being held on bonds totaling $169,000.
The 39-year-old was also charged with theft of property, terroristic threat and unauthorized use of vehicle. It is uncertain whether these charges were from outstanding warrants elsewhere or in connection with the kidnapping. The bond set on the kidnapping charge is $150,000.
According to Gun Barrel City Police Department reports, Wilson took the baby shortly after 6 p.m. Feb. 3, following an argument with 23-year-old Beatrice Dawson. About an hour later the baby was once more in the woman’s custody.
Wilson left on foot with the child, and Dawson called police.
The police immediately began to search the area for Wilson and the infant.
The city activated its emergency alert system, while officers combed the Willowood area, south of State Highway 334, but were unable to locate the man. Residents in the area were warned to remain inside their homes.
Police learned that Wilson was able to get a ride out of town toward Athens and may be found with close relatives.
Investigators contacted the Athens Police Department alerting them that Wilson may be headed their way.
At about 7 p.m., the baby was brought to the Athens PD by Wilson’s parents, who live in Athens. A check of the child revealed her to be in good condition.
The child’s mother was informed and she went to the Athens Police station to take custody of her child.
Posted by : February 8, 2015
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Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A Kemp 20-year-old has been sentenced to five years in prison for a 2013 Burglary of a Habitation.
Last week, 173rd Judicial District Court Judge Dan Moore sentenced Zackery Childers in Athens.
A Henderson County Grand Jury indicted Childers on evidence gathered from a Nov. 11, 2013 burglary investigation. (Childers turned 19 Sept. 1, 2013.)
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call that a young man had been seen driving an allegedly stolen lawn mower into the woods near the western edge of the county, near Kemp.
According to a press release, neighbors said the mower had been removed from a garage of a house that was for sale. The fence leading to the garage had been cut and the garage door was partially opened. The deputy also noticed significant damage to the door jam of the house, suggesting it had been opened by force.
Household items were scattered throughout the residence, cabinet doors were open, and it was obvious that someone had gone through everything.
In addition, neighbors said that the day before; Childers had offered to pay them to help him move items from the home.
Officers located Childers later that day and he was arrested for outstanding warrants out of Kaufman County. Childers denied any knowledge of the lawn mower or break-in of the house.
The officer returned to the scene of the break-in and lifted multiple fingerprint throughout the house for further investigation.
These were turned over to investigator John Long, who followed these up with recorded statements from witnesses that had spoken to the deputy. Additionally, he submitted the fingerprints to the Texas Department to Public Safety Crime Lab for analysis. One of the fingerprints, taken from a bowl in the kitchen, matched Childers’ left thumb, the press release stated.
After sentencing, prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Justin Weiner said the following: “I am proud to work with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office in bringing Zackery Childers to justice. My hat’s off to Deputy Sorrells, Investigator Long, and the entire Sheriff’s Office for their dedication and tireless efforts to protect the citizens of Henderson County and their property.”
District Attorney Scott McKee noted that fingerprint collection is not as easy as it appears on television. According to McKee, the conditions have to be ideal to collect good prints.
“I wish we worked and operated in the world that the CSI shows depicts. But that’s not the reality,” McKee said.
It takes the right conditions combined with the right training and experience coupled with good police work to have forensic evidence work in your favor.
“We are very fortunate that our Sheriff’s Office does an outstanding job in this area,” McKee said.