By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Some changes in management policy are taking place at the library in Mabank, since the 25-year-old institution passed from private hands to the city’s umbrella. The biggest change is the ouster of Whisper, the library cat.
Whisper, a spayed female tabby, has been living in the library for the past eight years, celebrating her birthday with small celebrations during Saturday library hours, receiving modest and elaborate gifts. In fact, the cat, while just a kitten, got her name from a library-run contest.
The gray tabby was rescued from the animal shelter in Tool and was recommended for her mild temperament, even while a kitten. Sydney Busch of Friends to the Animals recommended her adoption to the library’s board; and her organization has provided for Whisper’s day-to-day needs for food, kitty litter, vaccinations, collars and toys. “Whisper has never been an expense to the library,” Busch said.
The city directed Whisper’s departure from the library as of Oct. 1.
When the city council met Oct. 4, a dozen of Whisper’s fans attended the meeting hoping to reason with the council about keeping the library cat, and with her the uniqueness of the Tri-County Library.
One gentleman, who’s been volunteering at the library for a short time and no particular friend of cats, suggested the council view Whisper as a marketing tool for the library and not as a quasi-community pet. “I’ve seen families come to the library, and seeing the cat is a highlight of their visit,” Howard Hopkins said.
Mayor Jeff Norman responded that keeping the cat in a city building would set a precedent that may lead other employees to demand the company of a pet during working hours. “This has been litigated, the two are not comparable,” Friends of the Animals founder Ed Busch said. “Everyone is not on board with the cat,” Norman answered.
“Let the population have a voice in this,” Ed Busch said. “This is a quality of life issue.”
Norman commented that it was his opinion that if a poll were taken there would be as many others who have strong feelings for keeping the cat out of the library. “I’ve received comments disfavoring the cat,” he said.
Former mayor and now councilman Larry Teague said, as long as the city wasn’t over the library “we’ve said nothing against it. But things are different now. There’s liability.”
The city manager said he had letters from both the city’s attorney and insurance agency recommending that cat not be kept in place at the library. Ed Busch testified that in his discussions with the city manager, the city’s insurance does cover the cat.
“Though the cat may be covered, the insurance agency doesn’t recommend it,” city manager Bryant Morris said. The library has a kitchen facility and animals and food generally aren’t a good mix according to the health department, Norman said.
While people may not bring a suit against a privately-held library, knowing it doesn’t have any resources that may be gained by the winning of a lawsuit, it’s a different attitude when people view it as a government entity. “They wouldn’t hesitate to sue over the smallest of harms or perceived harm,” Teague explained to The Monitor later. “It’s a whole different animal,” he said.
Though it would appear fans of the library cat found no support from anyone on the council, the mayor said the issue of the cat will be put on the November meeting agenda and taken to a vote. Whisper’s supporters have until then to sway members of the council to their side of the argument.
Of the dozen or so fans speaking at the meeting, only one was a Mabank resident and she was the one who was most distraught. She has been the chief caregiver of Whisper, taking her home with every weekend and bringing her back “to work” every Monday.
“Mabank residents aren’t the only ones who regularly use that library, some of the most regular visitors come primarily to visit Whisper,” Sydney Busch said.
In other business, council members:
• re-nominated Don McAfee to continue his service on the Henderson County Property Appraisal board.
• approved a final version of the 2016-17 City Budget to include a correction and an addition of a line item for Information Technology and 9-1-1 Service in the police department section.
• approved the final version of budgets from the Economic Development Corporation and the Hotel-Motel funds, with updated beginning balance numbers as of Oct. 1.
• heard staff reports, including one from library director Brandi Marett, for the first time. Directing the library the past two years, her report included attendance numbers as they compare to this time last year, included an update on the renovation of the Children’s area with a safari theme, funded by grant money. She noted that the library of today serves more as a community center than a depository for books and periodicals, as this form of media increasingly is being replaced with Internet technology and eBooks.
Posted by : October 7, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : September 16, 2016| On :
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–During a two-day operation, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse and his team of narcotics investigators swarmed across acres of land finding 9,000 marijuana plants.
“This was a massive, coordinated production/growing operation,” Hillhouse said Thursday. “Too many people think having pot is a harmless crime, but this is a criminal organization that damages property owners’ land; and marijuana leads to other drugs.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been recently operating in East Texas, targeting hidden marijuana-growing undertakings. Smith, Anderson, Van Zandt and now Henderson counties have been targeted.
“We found evidence of people recently at the scene of the crimes here,” the Sheriff said.
There were 6,387 individual plants growing at one site alone and 2,623 individual plants in various stages of maturity at another site nearby.
“This is no fly-by-night venture. These are professional criminals who hide their activities on the land of unsuspecting ranch owners,” Hillhouse said.
Because many properties in the county are used for hunting only or are owned by people who do not live here full-time, large swaths of property provide the perfect place for this sort of illegal activity.
This was a major multi-agency operation.
“The DEA has been very helpful locating these fields from the air and these teams of officers from multiple agencies have done a wonderful job handling the especially dangerous ground operation,” the Sheriff said. “Make no mistake, these are dangerous criminals who are too often heavily armed and willing to fight to protect their operations.”
Posted by : September 14, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK-Mabank ISD Police Chief Joey Rich placed a Eustace man under arrest the night of the homecoming game on a second-degree felony drug charge.
The action went down in the high school parking lot between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Rich was patrolling for suspicious activity and found a gentleman smoking by a pickup truck in the student parking lot. Upon coming within the vicinity, a strong odor of marijuana was detected and the chief called for backup from the Mabank Police Department. Officers were close by, working the football game. The chief obtained consent from the man to search his vehicle and found a number of small bags containing what was believed t0 be marijuana, along with a scale and empty bags and about two ounces of marijuana nearby.
Ricki Dewayne Kirkpatrick II, 43, was taken into custody. He is charged with delivery of a controlled substance/marijuana to a minor and is being held in the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center on a surety bond totaling $75,000.
“We want to be perfectly clear; drugs will not be tolerated on school property,” Rich said.