Apr

27

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 27, 2013

Courtesy Photo Tool mayor pro-tem A.J. “Red” Phillips proclaims May as “Motorcyle Awareness Month” at the April 18 city council meeting. Pictured are council members Nelson Wright, Nathan Reeder, Fran Sonka, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club president Gary Schnelle, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club member Shelly  Ellis, Phillips and council member Ricky Williams.

Courtesy Photo
Tool mayor pro-tem A.J. “Red” Phillips proclaims May as “Motorcyle Awareness Month” at the April 18 city council meeting. Pictured are council members Nelson Wright, Nathan Reeder, Fran Sonka, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club president Gary Schnelle, Leathernecks Motorcycle Club member Shelly Ellis, Phillips and council member Ricky Williams.


Declares May ‘Motorcycle Awareness Month’

By David Webb
Contributing Writer

TOOL–Longtime civic leader Leland Pitts is no longer the mayor of Tool..
The council accepted Pitts’ letter of resignation at its regular monthly meeting April 18. Pitts did not attend the meeting, and the letter was faxed to city hall.
The letter was the first item on the council’s agenda, and mayor pro tem A.J. Phillips praised Pitts for doing an “outstanding job while he was here.” Phillips noted that Pitts, who served on the council more than once in the past dozen years, “would be missed.”
Pitts’ letter attributed his “untimely resignation” to the demands of his job at Citizens State Bank, where he is vice president. “Due to time constraints and additional demands at Citizens State Bank, it has become increasingly difficult for me to devote the time and energy to the position of mayor the city deserves and requires,” Pitts wrote in the letter.
Phillips asked for discussion and a vote on the agenda item with a “heavy heart,” and council member Nathan Reeder said he would “reluctantly” make the motion for a vote. “This is the one thing I don’t like at all,” Phillips said. There was no other discussion.
Pitts, who served as the mayor in 2000-01 and council member in 2007-08, took over as mayor in February 2011, after mayor Mike Black committed suicide. Pitts said then that he did not want to be mayor, but that he would step in to help the shaken city at the request of the council. The council voted him in as mayor in a special meeting.
It was the second time for Pitts, whose mother recently died, to attempt resignation from his job as mayor in the past year. In May 2012 he resigned, then rescinded the resignation before the council could vote on it. Pitts said he decided not to resign at that time because of residents asking him to reconsider.
At the time, Pitts said his public service work had become a burden after another council member reportedly confronted him at the bank with a raised voice and had to be asked to leave. He noted at the time he considered the city in “turmoil,” and that was part of his reason for deciding to remain as mayor.
In possible reflection of the turmoil Pitts’ referenced last year, one of several residents attending the recent meeting complained to council members that she wanted to know more about how the city is spending money and how much it owes. “We’re living beyond our means,” the woman said. “We’re trying to survive out here on our Social Security checks.”
Phillips suggested that she attend the city’s next budget meeting, and he also told her that she was “welcome” to run for public office and help do some of the work now facing the council.
For the time being, the council will be operating with one seat vacant. The city charter calls for a mayor and five council members. Phillips will preside as mayor pro tem in the absence of a mayor. The next scheduled city election is in November.
In other business, council members:
• approved the purchase of 2013 Legend gooseneck trailer for $6,970 for the maintenance department to replace one that was stolen from city property. The city received a check for $1,859 from insurance proceeds on the old trailer to help with the purchase.
• renewed the city’s balloon note on its motograder in the amount of $45, 895 at 5 percent interest at Citizens State Bank. Council member Nelson Wright suggested the city “shop” for a better interest rate, but other members said they were satisfied that they currently had a “good deal.”
• proclaimed May as “Motorcycle Awareness Month.”

Apr

10

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 10, 2013

Courtesy Photo/ David Woo/DMN The Kaufman County Acting DA is Brandi Fernandez.

Courtesy Photo/ David Woo/DMN
The Kaufman County Acting DA is Brandi Fernandez.

Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–While Gov. Rick Perry is reviewing candidates to become the permanent District Attorney for Kaufman County, acting district attorney is Brandi Fernandez.
She’s been with the county since 2004, and has been the first assistant district attorney under recently murdered Mike McLelland. (See page 4A for reward information)
News reports have characterized her as a tough litigator, who has prosecuted various Aryan Brotherhood members. She is a member of the Kaufman County Bar Association and the Texas Bar Association.
Fernandez graduated from the Texas Tech University School of Law in 1996. She received the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Woman Law Graduate Award.
She has been admitted to practice law in Texas, Nevada and the United States District Court of the Northern District of Texas.
Perry is expected to name a permanent DA by April 22, under Texas law.

Jan

05

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : January 5, 2013

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell Kaufman County officials sworn in early on New Year's Day before family, friends and other elected officials at the courthouse include (from left) Precinct 1 Constable Shawn Mayfield, 422nd District Court Judge Mike Chitty, Tax Assessor-Collector Tonya Ratcliff, Sheriff David Byrnes, Precinct 3 Commissioner Ken Schoen, Precinct 3 Constable Keith Stephens, Precinct 2 Constable Joe Don Law, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jimmy Joe Vrzalik and Precinct 4 Constable Bryant Morris.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Kaufman County officials sworn in early on New Year’s Day before family, friends and other elected officials at the courthouse include (from left) Precinct 1 Constable Shawn Mayfield, 422nd District Court Judge Mike Chitty, Tax Assessor-Collector Tonya Ratcliff, Sheriff David Byrnes, Precinct 3 Commissioner Ken Schoen, Precinct 3 Constable Keith Stephens, Precinct 2 Constable Joe Don Law, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jimmy Joe Vrzalik and Precinct 4 Constable Bryant Morris.

By Pearl Cantrell and Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writers

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–New terms in office began for returning and newly elected officials in Kaufman and Henderson counties New Year’s Day.
Nearly 200 gathered to witness the event in Kaufman at 10 a.m., many of them office holders whose terms were not yet up, along with family and friends.
“I want to congratulate them on the races that they won. Politics is not a gentle sport,” Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood said in his opening remarks.
Identifying himself as a Baptist Wood teasingly assured those sitting on church pews at the county courthouse that he would not be “passing the plate.”
However, he did begin with a short word of prayer, acknowledging that the Lord is ultimately in control of the affairs of men, thanking Him for the “blessings of each official here which you’ve appointed to serve.” He closed with a plea for continued guidance and direction.
A Bible was handy, with each of nine officials choosing to place his hand upon it, as it was held by a family member, while each spoke their promise to serve faithfully.
Part of their statements included the words: “I promise to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
After 422nd District Court Judge Michael Chitty took his oath, he swore in other court officials, with family members assisting and attesting to the facts.
The proceedings were closed neatly, with Chitty lightheartedly saying, “There’s nothing left to do except pick a jury from this group.”
Scotty Thomas accepted his role as Precinct. 1 County Commissioner Jan. 1, when he took a nervous, solemn oath at the Henderson County Annex.
Thomas admits the big moment was more intimidating than expected, surrounded by friends, family and other elected officials.
“I’ve spoke many times, in front of bigger crowds, but one is different,” he said after taking the oath.
Thomas’ father was a county commissioner, and Scotty campaigned that taking the responsibility seriously and following in his fathers footsteps were among his goals. The seriousness of those campaign promises appeared to contribute to his nervousness.
Joining Thomas by taking their own oaths were Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence, Fire Marshal Darrell Furrh, and Precinct 3 Constable David Grubbs.
Grubbs’ oath nearly didn’t happen, as an error resulted in him arriving just as judge Richard Sanders was wrapping up.
This however, didn’t stop Grubbs. After a few minutes, he settled into the front of the room with Sanders and was sworn in properly.