Posted by : January 15, 2015
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SH 334 causeway bridge widening plan moves forward
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–State Highway 334 Bridge Expansion Delegation members Scott Six and Scott Confer told chamber members Jan. 8 state officials agree that the bridge should be expanded.
The two-lane bridge connects Gun Barrel City with Seven Points.
The men, along with Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom, recently met with State Senator Robert Nichols, who told them “the project is a go.”
The 334 bridge expansion has been added to the Unified Transportation Plan, Nichols told them.
Planning meetings between the Texas Department of Transportation’s Tyler District and Tarrant Regional Water District are set for the end of January.
Initial studies show the traffic count exceeds the bridge’s design capacity, but its structure is sound.
Early estimates put the price of the project at $26 million and the timeline for starting construction three to four years out.
“Senator Nichols told us that the preliminary work consisting of a $2 million environmental and engineering study on the bridge expansion should be finished by mid-2015,” Six said. “The Senator also met with TxDOT and said that they will coordinate with 35 other agencies in moving the project forward.”
A two-lane bridge is planned alongside the current bridge.
“It is a question of funding,” Confer explained. “The project is going to permitting now.”
A press release from the chamber the following day recounted the effort to lobby the state for the project’s importance.
Letters of support from the various cities on the north end of the lake, including fire and police departments, and from Henderson County offices were presented and the delegation spoke of the danger and the inconvenience of the current bridge situation.
Specifically, there are no shoulders and in times of accidents or other bridge damage, access from one city to the other is limited to a long trip around the north or south end of the lake. The added distance in times of bridge closure can be life-threatening for citizens on the west side in need of emergency medical treatment.
The group came away from the 2013 Austin meeting with a commitment from TxDOT to allocate $2 million to conduct the required environmental assessment and update the engineering.
In late fall of 2014, Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and a former state highway commissioner, was contacted for guidance on how to move forward to make sure the project was still on track.
“Even though we’re going to have two new state reps in a few days, and this is no longer a Legislative issue, we owe a great big thank you to State Reps. Lance Gooden and Jim Pitts for leading us through the process in the initial stages and for getting us the audience with TxDOT in Rep. Pitts office in 2013,” Hanstrom said.
In addition to Confer and Six, the committee of local residents moving this idea forward includes then chamber chamber board of directors chairman Marty Mullins, Gun Barrel City councilman Dennis Baade, and former mayor Paul Eaton, along with former Seven Points mayor and current Justice of the Peace Kevin Pollock.
Hanstrom stated the chamber will invite TxDOT Tyler District Engineer Dennis Cooley to speak at the July 9 camber luncheon to update the community on any progress.
Posted by : January 15, 2015
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By Erik Walsh
Monitor Sports Editor
KAUFMAN—The Mabank Lady Panthers began district play on a winning note with a 42-31 victory over the host Kaufman Lady Lions Jan. 9 in Kaufman.
The Lady Panthers (14-9) hit the road for the second consecutive game, this time with the short trip down U.S. Highway 175 to face the Lady Lions. With the pre-district schedule and its tournaments behind them, the Mabank girls had their goal set on taking an early advantage in the standings.
The action explosed in the first quarter with Mabank outpacing its rivals 15-12 to gain momentum heading in the second quarter. The Lady Panthers defense clamped down on Kaufman in the second quarter, allowing only six, points while the offense scored 13 points of its own, bringing the score to 28-18 Mabank at halftime.
The first half lead proved to be valuable for the Lady Panthers, as the Lady Lions surged in the third quarter, closing the spread to within just six points. Kaufman held Mabank to four points in the third quarter, while scoring eight points to bring the score to 32-26 at the end of the third.
However, Mabank pulled away in the final frame, scoring twice as many points as Kaufman. The Lady Panthers scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and allowed only five to Kaufman.
Junior Carson Marsh and senior Meagan Holyfield led Mabank in scoring. Each eclipsed double digit tallies. Marsh finished the game with 16 points on 3-12 shooting from the field (1-5 on three point shots). Marsh fared much better from the charity stripe, nailing 9-12 free throws. Marsh added one assist, three rebounds and four steals. Meagan Holyfield scored 12 points on 3-7 shooting from the field and 6-13 from the free throw line. She added five rebounds and three steals.
Other scorers and statistical contributors include Jessica Vess (six points on 3-4 shooting, one assist, six rebounds and one steal), Madison Holyfield (six points on 2-3 shooting, 2-3 free throws, two assists, six rebounds and two steals) and Jill Odom (two points on 1-6 shooting, one assist, one rebound and two steals).
Posted by : January 15, 2015
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Monitor Photo/Ron Wheeler
Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders speaks to Rotarians about some of the new changes in store for the county, Jan. 9.
Sanders tells Rotarians how the county is saving tax dollars
By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders reviewed the state of the county with the Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake members Jan. 9.
Sanders, a lifelong Texan from the Panhandle, said he is irritated when politicians talk about creating jobs.
“The government doesn’t create jobs,” Sanders said. “Business people in our communities create jobs. Sixty percent of new jobs are created by small businesses and jobs created by the government costs taxpayers money.”
Sanders thanked Rotary members for what they do for the Cedar Creek Lake community as a club and for help to grow the economy by keeping their businesses running.
“Henderson County is financially very strong. We are finding innovative ways to save money,” he added.
The county has seen many changes to lower costs without increasing taxes.
Sanders said he believes in limited government and would like to see Henderson County fulfill its responsibilities without increasing manpower.
“It is a difficult process as the cost of labor, materials, health benefits continue to go up,” Sanders said.
When the county offices moved to the new annex building, a new phone system was implemented which will save taxpayers about $90,000 by the end of 2015.
“We had 125 lines coming into county that we didn’t need. In 2011, we also went from six justices of the peace to five, saving $250,000 per year,” he added.
The biggest change affecting Henderson County residents is the establishment of two environmentally-friendly electric companies in the next few years.
“The number one thing is to not harm our environment,” Sanders said. “We need electric companies that burn natural gas.”
Southern Power is slated to build a plant in Trinidad, which will mean more tax revenue for surrounding schools and towns. Twenty to 30 construction jobs will be created for approximately two years and once built, 20 permanent well-paid jobs will be available. Southern Power’s plans have been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is currently seeking to finalize a contract with a huge buyer like Oncor.
“This guarantees they will be here a long time,” Sanders said.
Another power company is also in the planning phase of building a plant in the southeastern part of the county to help out during brownouts. This back-up power source will start up their plants after an outage so residents do not experience a break in electrical service.
Sanders said the court will save $40,000 a year by bringing in a Spanish speaking man who volunteered to translate.
“I am a fiscal conservative. I believe in living within your means and I don’t want to raise taxes,” Sanders said.
Another big change for the county will be the installation of new judicial software. The current AbleTerm software has been in use for the past 15 years, but is now outdated and without technical support.
The new Odyssey software will cost about $1 million and is slated to go live in March.
Currently, Henderson County’s population is approximately 78,500.
In other news, Rotarians heard:
• The Henderson County Black Rodeo (HCBR) is inviting citizens to participate in a Solidarity March, following the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade Monday, Jan. 19. HCBR is hoping to have more than 1,000 people participate in the march.
Individuals, groups or teams of all nationalities, religions and races should meet at 10 a.m. at the park across from the Trinity Valley Community College parking lot. The guest speaker at the event is District 4 Texas State Representative Stuart Spitzer.