Dec

07

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : December 7, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–A candlelight prayer vigil is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, on the front steps of Mabank High School, as students, staff and friends mourn the loss of sophomore Jared Greene, who died Saturday night. Police have called it a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
On Sunday, Judy Arnold, 45, of Gun Barrel City, was arrested and charged with purchasing/furnishing alcohol to a minor and released the same day on a $2,000 bond. Greene was visiting Arnold’s son in her home when he died.
According to Seven Points PD, Arnold has served as a reserve officer since September and her last shift finished at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Chief Raymond Wennerstrom said she is on suspension. [Reserve officers must put in 24 hours a month to maintain their peace officer license, Wennerstrom explained. This is usually performed without compensation.]
At the time of the shooting, Arnold had been absent from the house for 20 minutes, Gun Barrel City Police Chief Damon Boswell said. He also stated that two minors had been drinking when the 16-year-old fatally shot himself.
According to sources close to the family, at some point, Jared called his mom, who told him to stay put, she would come pick him up. She suspected he had been drinking. However, upon her arrival at the Autumn Wood Trail residence, she was met by the sight of police cars.
The same close family source said that later, police said the boys might have been playing Russian Roulette.

Dec

02

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : December 2, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–State Senator Bob Hall presented a resolution to the Kaufman County Commissioners Monday urging them to support an effort in Texas to secure its electric grid from the threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
Such a pulse can be created from natural causes such as solar flares, solar energetic particles and coronal mass ejections, but also from man-made attacks. The detonation of a small low-yield nuclear warhead at high altitude would produce an EMP, capable of taking out the entire state’s electrical grid.
According to Hall, electricity generators have testified that should such an event occur it would be unable to repair and restore electricity. “Only air and water are more important to sustain life than electrical power,” Hall said. Studies have reported that should the electric grid in the United States go down for 11 months, the result would be the loss of 90 percent of the population, he added.
Happily, there are simple ways to guard against most disruptions caused by an EMP which are not costly. While in the military, Hall said he was charged with designing just such systems to protect or “harden” the electrical power for military installations. They require sophisticated surge protectors, capacitors and SCADA systems.
The installation of such protections adds about 5 percent to the cost of electricity delivery, he said, citing Center Point, Houston as an example.
The resolution recognizes that the Texas grid is contained within the state’s borders and gives the state a unique opportunity of protecting its electric-grid infrastructure from EMP threat; and calls on the governor, Speaker of the House and Legislature to take necessary actions to harden the power grid to protect Texans now and in the future.
Commissioners accepted the resolution unanimously.
In other business, commissioners:
• heard county treasurer Ronnie Oldfield summarize the October financial report with extension into November. Though the county’s general fund ended October with a balance of $1.265 million, with the receipts and payables of $2.5 million in November that leaves the county with a deficit of $638,634.31.
Oldfield said the deficit would be covered by using funds from the road bond fund, which totaled $5,928,938.34. The current amount left on the latest bond issuance totals $26,018,094.50, which included $15,000 of interest added to it, he reported.
The total principal and interest carried in loans by the county totals $98,492,732, he said.
• reviewed the use of electronic voting machines during the general election. Tonya Ratcliff reported just 10 complaints and one person walking away from the poll, without casting a ballot. “There was no proof of irregularities from its use, such as vote switching from one party to another,” she said.
• tabled discussion on the completion of renovations at the Kaufman Annex Building. Work is stymied due to the presence of asbestos. Three bids have been collected ranging in cost from $3,700 to $16,000. But the sticking point is the closing the building for six days required to remove the asbestos.
• resolved to apply for a Texas Community Development Block Grant for $275,000 and $13,750 in-kind match, naming a grant administrator and engineer to spec the work and signed off on a citizen participation plan for the program.
• tabled action to implement a county-wide vehicle maintenance program, creating a mechanic position.
Auditor Karen Cooper explained the processes and computer software, organization and infrastructure needed to set up the program to fund the position.
They decided to hold a workshop to flesh out the details before the next Commissioners Court Meeting. The county has wanted to move forward on this idea for two years, Pct. 2 Commissioner Skeet Phillips said, with Jakie Allen in agreement.

Dec

02

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : December 2, 2016

By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Mabank Independent School District Board of Trustees congratulated students and staff on a favorable academic progress report when it met Monday.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Dena Mojica reviewed the 2015-16 State Accountability and Texas Academic Performance Report during the public hearing portion of the meeting.
All campuses met standard surpassing targets in four indexes including Student Achievement, Student Progress, Closing Performance Gaps and Post-Secondary Readiness in State Accountability, Mojica pointed out. In addition, all campuses received a minimum of two Distinctions with Lakeview Elementary and Mabank Junior High receiving every Distinction they were eligible for.
The academic report compared Mabank ISD with averages achieved statewide in the following areas:
• ACT, SAT, TSI: MISD 49 percent, state 35 percent
• College and Career Ready Grads: MISD 86. percent, state 74.5 percent
• Completion of 12 or more hours of Post-secondary credit: MISD 28.8 percent, state 10.6 percent
• Career, Technology and Engineering Coherent Course Sequence: MISD 76.3 percent, state 46.6 percent.
Board members also received construction project updates, including: the transportation department paving and striping completed, grade beam reinforcements for the junior high, steel framework going up at the high school and grade beams and underground plumbing installed at Central Elementary School.
The FIRST rating based on the 2014-15 school year included a passing score of 31, earning an A (superior) rating overall and a district rating of 96 (out of 100). The district was docked four points for the ratio of long-term liabilities to total assets for the school district being sufficient to support long-term solvency.
In other action, trustees:
• heard the district’s Christmas Tea is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Administration Building.
• assistant to the Superintendent Pam Johnson is retiring after 22 years with the district.
• heard from Smith, Lambright and Associates owner J.W. Lambright the 2015-16 Financial Audit shows the fund balance and cash position of the district are “in good shape.”
• heard Dr. Powerwasher donated a 9,000-pound, 2-post auto lift.
• authorized MISD Superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall to fill six teaching positions, as anticipated throughout the year.
• accepted $33,500 in grants for MISD teachers from the MISD Education Foundation.
• approved the second reading of the District of Innovation Plan Policy Amendments.

Monitor Photo/Robyn Wheeler
Lakeside Elementary School students (from left) I’Lee Lopez, McKinley White, Kalob Jernigan and Alicia Guerrero with Director of Instruction Media James Pate, lead the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge at the Mabank ISD Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 28.