May

19

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 19, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–The Kemp City Council learned of white-collar crime in their neighborhood during the regular meeting May 9.
Interim Police Chief James Cook updated the council that a local Valero gas station was targeted by a “skimming” scam, which allows thieves to steal credit and debit card information from customers.
According to Cook, the thieves’ technology is getting more sophisticated and difficult to identify. The thieves pose as gas pump repair men, Cook explained. They open up the pumps and rig it with a device no larger than a USB port that steals credit and debit card numbers, along with their corresponding PIN codes. The thieves don’t even need to be nearby; and can access all the information remotely.
Kemp resident Shane Hyde corroberated the chief’s report saying he was one whose credit card information had been compromised.
Hyde said he got a call from Life Lock (a banking security company) saying his account had suspicious activity April 21. Multiple money orders for $1,000 were created from his account information at a supermarket in Houston, he said.
He also got charged for $300 in gas from multiple Houston stations. Hyde has since been refunded and has pressed charges in the Houston area.
An independent auditor visited the council and delivered a report to council members. The city had $1,167,914 in total revenue in 2016 and 894,919 in expenses. The city of Kemp’s revenues exceeded its expenditures by $361,704.
Council members also canvassed the results of the May 6 special election, “determining whether a sale and use tax at the rate of one-fourth of one percent for the maintenance and repair of municipal streets should be authorized.” The results were:
Early voting: For, 34; Against, 6.
Election Day: For, 18; Against, 6.
The proposal gained overwhelming approval from voters: 52-12.
In other business, council members:
• approved a zoning variance at 109 North main street for residential and commercial use
• opened a specific city bank account for the water surcharge deposits for transparency’s sake.

May

19

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 19, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–A massive 56-foot barge was safely planted into Cedar Creek Lake Tuesday after a brief shutdown of the bridge between Seven Points and Gun Barrel City to make room for the hulking structure.
The barge project was funded by Morgan Marine Construction and built by Dwight Eshpach, of Kemp. From there, it was loaded onto a freighter and driven to Big Chief Landing in Gun Barrel City. That’s where things got tricky.
The barge itself is 18 feet wide and the loading ramp is only 20-foot wide. That left a narrow margin to back the massive work boat into the lake. The crew guided the driver expertly and the transition went off without a hitch.
From there, Morgan Marine crewman Daniel Etheridge drove the boat to Payne Springs, where spuds were installed. The next day, it was taken to Tom Finley park in Gun Barrel City, where it still resides until its first job. According to Etheridge, that job will be in Caney City’s clear water bay.
The big boat and freighter caught the attention of passers-by on a golf carts, stopping to watch the drama unfold. Gun Barrel City police assisted in shutting down the bridge for its arrival.

May

17

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 17, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports a major drug arrest Tuesday.
During a routine traffic stop on Lake Arrowhead Drive near Payne Springs, sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Matthew Jistel discovered a stash underneath the passenger seat containing approximately 53 grams of suspect crystal meth.
Rebecca Brannon, 25 is charged with first-degree felony drug charge. Her backseat passenger, Christina Julian, 52, was also found to be in possession of suspected meth. She exited the car and appeared unstable according to a press release. Both women were taken to jail soon after the 2:45 a.m. traffic stop. Brannon is held on a $15,000 bond and Julian’s bond totals $8,500.
“These dealers can’t sneak around in the dark of night hoping to spread their poison,” Hillhouse stated. “Our deputies have been instructed to keep a keen eye out for anyone suspected of wrongdoing, no matter what time of day or night.”
The National Drug Intelligence Center states methamphetamine is a significant drug threat to Texas. High purity, low-cost methamphetamine is readily available, and the drug is widely abused, particularly in rural areas. Methamphetamine produced in Mexico is the predominant type available.
According to one online source, the price of meth in Texas is around $80 per gram, though smaller increments may cost more. At $80 to $100 per gram, the estimated value is between $4,240 and $5,300. The confiscated 53 grams equals a little less than two ounces, a sizeable amount in crystal meth.