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The Year in Review - Part II

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The Year in Review - Part Two The year 2008 saw new faces and new initiatives in the Hawkins and Holly Lake area.(part one was in our last issue)

 This is a review of the second half of 2008 in the Hawkins and Holly Lake areas. Best wishes for a year of hope and progress in 2009.
July: The Holly Lake Ranch Camber of Commerce met with members of the community plus several area realtors. Chamber President Wilson Crabtree went over events that led to the resignation of the previous board and the assumption of leadership by the new board. He noted that the new board would a six-month board and it would stand for re-election on a specific date. He then turned the meeting over to Jerry Ryan, chairman of the Dallas advertising committee. He discussed his committee's plan to promote Holly Lake in the Dallas market, then took questions from the audience.
Go to: http://hollylakecc.com/
Hawkins residents were given the opportunity to get rid of those pesky large household items that were worn out or broken. On Saturday, July 12th, they could bring those items to the parking lot at Hawkins City Hall. Allied Waste, the city's garbage contractor, was on hand with dumpsters and equipment to help residents dispose of heavy and bulky items.
It was announced that Gazette staffer, Sheilah Pepper, would be the speaker at the monthly meeting of the Republican Women of Wood County on July 17th. Her topics would be the impact of the Internet on political fundraising and also the impact of the so-called "blogosphere" on political communications and alternate information gathering.
Meeting in regular session on July 3rd in Mineola, the board of the Wood County Industrial Commission (WCIC) approved the 2008-2009 budgets for the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund and the WCIC general fund. The board also approved continued financial and promotional support for the Wood County Extension Service Agricultural Tour and the Winnsboro Business Expo.
Meeting in regular session on July 11th, Wood County Commissioners approved two new subdivision plats including one for "Holy Lake Village." The 14-lot development is planned for a ten-acre site on FM 2869 on the property immediately east of the building which formerly housed Connie's Country Casuals. A second new subdivision with ten lots in the first phase was also approved. The Pct 4 development is at the north end of Lake Winnsboro and will be known as Waddleton Landing.
Savannah Boyd won first place in the nation in the Promotional graphics event at the 2008 National TSA Competition in Orlando, Florida, earlier in the month. She and four other graduated seniors from Hawkins High School competed in the week-long event. There were 216 students from across the nation competing in the Promotional Graphics event.
The Holly Lake Chamber of Commerce pushed back the start up date for its "Dallas Vision" plan from July 15th to the new date of August 15th. Chamber President Wilson Crabtree said that some former board members were campaigning against the plan but he offered no logical why they would do this.
Sales tax returns held steady for the county as a whole, but Hawkins sales tax returns were down 15 percent from the levels of last July and trailed the year-to-date totals by nearly 15 percent.
At their July 21st meeting the Hawkins school board approved a preliminary budget of $9,406,000 for the 2008-2009 school year. To achieve the projected budget, the board was considering a property tax rate of $1.14 per $100 of property valuation. That would take the tax rate up two cents over the 2007-2008 tax rate.
On July 17th, Garry Lee Abbott of Yantis was arrested by the sheriff's department on drug related charges. His bond was set at $50,000 and he remained at the county jail. The charge against him was a first-degree felony - the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance over four grams and under 200 grams. The substance is this instance was hydrocodone.
It was announced that the new owner of the Fore Seasons Restaurant at Holly Lake Ranch is Tyrus Mulkey. He purchased the business from the previous owner, John Livingston.
At their regular meeting July 25th, Wood County Commissioners accepted an audit report for the year ended September 30th, 2007 with a finding of "significant deficiency" regarding the timeliness of entries. The audit was presented by Todd Pruitt, of Patillo, Brown & Hill, the county's outside independent auditor. Pruitt said the basic audit of the county's financial statements resulted in an "unqualified" or clean audit. But, the audit of internal controls revealed a question of the timeliness of entries which resulted in the "significant deficiency" statement. This was defined as a "control deficiency, or a combination of control deficiencies that adversely affects the entity's ability to initiate, authorize, record, process or report financial data reliably in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles." This could create at least some likelihood that a misstatement of a financial statement that might be more than inconsequential would not be prevented or detected by the entity's internal control.
At their regular meeting July 21st, the Harmony school board was advised of plans for the school board election. A change in the state election laws requires rural school districts, such as Harmony, not located in an incorporated city to hold elections in the November election cycle. Therefore, no election was held last May as had been the practice in the past. Four of the seven Harmony seats would be up for election on November 4th. The board also approved raising the price for the school lunch by 25 cents. They also approved a preliminary 2008-2009 budget for the district of $8,245,000.
Meeting in regular session on July 21st, the Hawkins City Council reversed a decision made at the last council meeting and reinstated the practice of picking up garbage in the city's alleys. The council also approved a bid of $289,831 for the next stage in the continuing sewer system rehabilitation program.
In news from Austin, Texas Governor Rick Perry, speaking in California said he sees Texas as being the epicenter of many diverse forms of energy development, ranging from natural gas to wind, solar and biofuels and he also wants to see the state build a substantial number of new nuclear plants.
August: At about 5:30 p.m. on August 7th, a robbery in progress of the Subway restaurant at FM 2869 and FM 14 was reported. The robber escaped in a red GMC pickup. A warrant was issued for Brian Edward Haire, 35, of Big Sandy.
At their regular meeting on August 8th, Wood County Commissioners voted to ban animals and liquor from beaches at four county lakes. They include Lake Holbrook, Lake Quitman, Lake Hawkins and Lake Winnsboro.
At the Hawkins school board meeting on August 4th, it was reported that Hawkins students did well on the TAKS testing program administered by the Texas education Agency. All three Hawkins campuses scored a "Recognized" rating.
At the Harmony School District, the elementary campus achieved an "Exemplary" rating for the third year in the row. Overall, the Hawkins district was rated a "Recognized." The Harmony district overall scored a rating of "Academically Acceptable" as the junior high scored a "Recognized" rating but the high school scored a lower "Academically Acceptable" rating.
On August 4th, the Hawkins school board approved the students and teacher handbook for the 2008-2009 school year. The handbook governs codes of conduct for students and teachers.
On August 5th, the board of the Hawkins Community Development Corporation adopted a preliminary 2008-2009 budget of $66,250 for the fiscal year starting October 1st, 2008.
At their regular meeting August 7th, the board of the Wood County Industrial Commission acknowledged a call for applications for grants from the group's Hotel/Motel Tax Funds for projects and events in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Approximately $10,000 has been allocated to fund 2008-2009 projects. "Successful proposal will show clearly how they plan to attract overnight visitors to Wood County," said Gary McKinley, WCIC executive director. He added, "For projects that have been around for a while, survey data will be important for determining the merits of a project for funding support." He noted that new projects needed to include and good business plan and marketing strategy.
In mid August, the Wood County District Attorney's Office released a statement about the matter revolving around the Mineola Swingers Club. The DA's office said that it would no comment at all on the affair until the Grand Jury completes it's investigation. The Grand Jury was gathering information to determine whether a violation of Texas law had occurred involving the club.
Meeting in regular session on August 22nd, Wood County Commissioners heard an appeal from APET (Animal Preservation of East Texas) to add an animal control officer to the Wood County Sheriff's office staff and to commit more of the county's resources to problems caused by unwanted animals. Nearly 50 members of the public attended the meeting in support of APET and a petition containing 1,550 signatures was rolled out across the courtroom. The court raised the county's support to APET to $3,500 for 2009, up $1,000 over '08. The commissioners also approved 2008-2009 salary/compensation schedules for the Wood County Auditor and a staff of four, as well as that of the court reporter for the 402nd District Court. Each will receive an increase of four percent as a COLA adjustment.
The Holly Lake Ranch Chamber of Commerce launched its "New Vision" program to promote the East Texas lifestyle and retirement living at Holly Lake Ranch. The plan utilizes a Chamber internet website. Targeted ads were taken out in the Dallas Morning News Classified, directing readers to the website.
Meeting on August 11th, the Hawkins school board adopted a 2008-2009 budget and tax rate after a public hearing that no one other than school board members, school administrators and staff members attended. The adopted tax rate was $1.1426 per $100 property valuation. This was 0.0059 cents higher than the tax for 2007-2008.
The new Allaso Ranch camp and retreat center on Lake Hawkins had just completed the first year of summer camp. On August 17th, community leaders were invited to tour the camp and were amazed the size and scope of the very impressive facilities. These include a two-acre swim center complete with a last river, splash pools and water slides. A six-acre lake, still filling, will have white sand beaches. There are also volleyball courts, an equestrian center, huge dining facilities, and three cabin "villages." The Fellowship Church of Grapevine, Texas, developed this incredible facility.
Meeting in regular session August 18th, the Hawkins City Council approved a property exchange which will give the city full 360-degree access to the city's north pumping station on property located in block 8 of the Brown addition. The property exchanged by the city to the Methodist Church is 240.7 feet of Forrest Street which has never been developed as a through street. The church acquired the house and property formerly owned by the Hathcox family on the north side of Forrest Street earlier this year. The home has been refurbished and is used by the church's youth program and for added classroom space.
August 24th, Tommy Scott Thomas, 55, of Yantis, was arrested and charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance - over four grams and under 200 grams. This followed a traffic stop when something was thrown from his vehicle. It turned out to be a bag containing 113 grams of methamphetamine.
September: It was announced that a senior Harmony student, Anna Lee Pruitt, would represent the Holly Lake Chamber of Commerce as a Duchess in the East Texas Yamboree Coronation.
County Judge Bryan Jeanes swore in Neil Moseley to the vacant Pct 2 Justice of the Peace position. It had been recently vacated by Larry Jones due to health reasons.
A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Sept. 12th to celebrate the opening of the newly constructed Living and Learning Center at Jarvis Christian College. The 65,430 three-story center contains suite-like living quarters plus an array of facilities including a fitness room, café, study lounges, computers centers, post boxes, offices, a laundry room, a courtyard, a patio and a covered colonnade.
On September 5th, Wood County Commissioners moved quickly through a 14 item agenda in just 24 minutes. Commissioners approved the spending of $544,371 for payroll and health insurance claims among other bills. Commissioners also approved two new fees for the Lake Hawkins TV Park, including a new $3 boat launch fee.
In a September 8th announcement, the Wood County District Attorney's Office said that a number of cases had been resolved during several prosecutions. These included that of James Franklin Bonner who was sentenced by a Wood County jury to 12 years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He must serve half of his sentence day-for-day before becoming eligible for parole. Additionally, Kelvin Thomas McCain was sentenced to two fifteen-year sentences in two cases involving delivery of a controlled substance. Each is a first-degree felony. Also, Darwun Kimmel received 12 tears for aggravated sexual assault of a child.
In news out of Austin, State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, said that he would run for governor at the end of the 2009 legislative session if he doesn't succeed in passing legislation regarding illegal immigration
Meeting in regular session September 15th, the Hawkins City Council approved a property tax rate of 45.4 cents per $100 of property valuation. This represented an increase of about one-half cent over the previous rate. The council also renewed a contract with the East Texas Council of Governments to allow the city to continue using that organization's 9-1-1 addressing service.
At their regular meeting on September 15th, the Harmony school board cancelled the November election Four of the seven trustee seats were to be up for election in November. However, only four applications were received for the four positions to be filled. So the four applicants are elected. Two were incumbents and the two others will replace incumbents who chose not to run.
Meeting in a special session on September 22nd, the Hawkins school board voted to pay $72,894 toward the costs of resurfacing the road used by construction traffic on the south entrance to the campus. The board also heard a report on plans to install a new highly automated communications system.
At their regular meeting on September 19th, Wood County Commissioners approved new, higher fees to be charged by the sheriff and constables. On applies to the services of certain legal papers by sheriff's deputies and constables. Virtually every fee was increased by $25. This meant at increase ranging from 33 percent to 25 percent. The papers include subpoenas, summons, writ of attachments, writ of garnishment, writ of sequestration, orders of sale, writ of possession, forcible detainer, small claims citation, justice court citation and all other court citations.
On September 27th, Allen Henson, 49, of Winnsboro, was arrested along with his wife, Tracie Henson, 40, for possession of methamphetamine. Approximately two ounces of the drug were seized.
On the same date, officers of the Wood County CID went to Nacogdoches to execute a warrant for the arrest of Jason Payne, 38, of Quitman. He was charged with the murders of his wife, Nicole Payne and his stepson, Austin Taylor. The murders took place in December 2007.
October: U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05) announced that Jarvis Christian had received a grant from the United States Department of Education. The $500,000 grant will be used to establish and strengthen academic resources and financial management.
The events of the Hawkins Oil Festival were scheduled to begin on October 11th. They included a 7 a.m. waffle breakfast at the fire station, a Fun Run starting at 8 a.m. from the fire station. A baby center would open at 9 a.m. at the Pavilion. The parade would begin at 11 a.m. with live entertainment starting at 12:30 plus food and refreshment service would be available all day.
A senior at Hawkins High School, Laura Ragsdale, was named a Commended Scholar in the 2008 National Merit Scholarship Program. She received this honor based on her outstanding score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test which she had taken as a junior the previous year.
Meeting in regular session on October 6th, the Hawkins school board, the board wrapped up a 14-item agenda in just one and one-half hours. They heard a report on the final wrap-up activities on the construction/renovation program. They also accepted a donation from the Athletic Booster Club.
It was announced that the newly constructed and renovated Hawkins school facilities would be dedicated during ceremonies to be held Sunday, October 12th. The ribbon cutting was scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at the new facility housing the cafeteria and gymnasium.
The Wood County Industrial Commission held their regular meeting October 2nd at Ed's Place. The board approved grants from the WCIC's Hotel/Motel Tax Fund to nine applicants, for events and projects to be conduced in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Total distributions would be $9,800. The grants include one to the newly reconstituted Holly Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for $2,000 and another to the Hawkins Chamber of Commerce $1,250. The Holly Lake grants would provide support for an advertising campaign directed to the Dallas retirement market. The Hawkins portion would go to the promotional their oil festival.
In the U.S. House of Representatives on October 3rd, our representative, Jeb Hensarling was among the 15 Texas representatives who voted against the federal financial bailout measure. Seventeen other Texas representatives voted for it.
The Wood County Commissioners met in regular session on October 17th. They approved advertising for bids for the contract to manage the Lake Hawkins Recreational Vehicle Park. The current managers received $59,400 last year to manage the park. The commissioners also let the bid for drilling of a new water well for the Ramey Water company. The lowest bid of $195,410 was submitted by Continental Drilling of Shreveport.
The Hawkins City Council met in regular session on October 20th. They accepted an audit report described as clean by the independent auditor. The council was advised that the firm was reporting the audit as unqualified, that is, clean, for fiscal year 2007. The council also approved an agreement with Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott for collection of fines for the Hawkins Municipal Court.
The Harmony school board met October 20th and heard a report of a new record enrollment of 1,043 students. The board also reviewed three floor plan concepts for expanding classrooms for the district. The board also learned that the district had met all the AYP requirements of the federal government's "No Child Left Behind Act."
It was announced that five Holly Lake Ranch residents had filed their candidacy for two seats on the B Board of the Holly Lake Ranch Association. Incumbent board members Larry Bowman and Jeanette Sterner were being challenged by Jack Mills, Kay Sloan and Sam L. Wilson.
An operating contract for the Fore Seasons and 19th Hole food services operation was successfully negotiated with Denail "Jimmy" Meta and Andy Asad. The two operates restaurants in Mineola and at Lake Hawkins.
Wood County Commissioners met in regular session ob October 31st. The commissioners quickly dispatched a brief 12-item agenda. They awarded a bid to acquire a boom axe for Pct 2 and also agreed to offer a Pct 4 motor grader for sale on E-Bay.
November: In the general election, John McCain and Sarah Palin carried the state of Texas and Wood County although they failed in their bid nationwide. In Wood County, McCain-Palin received 76.15 percent of the vote while Obama-Biden got 22.51 percent. The actual county vote count was 13,638 to 3,996. In local elections, incumbent Roger Pace overwhelmed Dennis Sandifer in the election for Pct. 3 Commissioners with 68.65 percent of the vote. The vote was 3,430 to 1,566. This was Pace's first election as a Republican. He switched from Democrat to Republican shortly after the 2004 election. In the Pct 3 race for the position of constable, incumbent Gary Dixon won over write-in hopeful Dwaine Daugherty. The count was 3,354 votes for Dixon to 1,566 for Daugherty.
The Hawkins school board met in regular session November 3rd. They heard a report of the first drug testing session of the c school year. The testing involved 278 students and six were detected with illegal drug substances in their systems. Any students who test positive forfeit participation in extracurricular activities until they are tested again and found to be drug-free. The board also approved the purchase of two new whirlpools for the school's new gymnasium.
Marine Corps League Detachment 1278 kicked off its 2008 Toys for Tots campaign in Wood County. Contributors were asked to drop off toys or donations at various area businesses and other locations. Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Toy for Tots distributed 20 million toys last year across the nation.
Meeting in their regular session on November 14th, Wood County Commissioners and a group of Lake Hawkins property owners heard a warning from Texas Parks & Wildlife Department with regard to the water plant Giant Salvinia. Kevin Storey of TPW told commissioners that Giant Salvinia poses a real threat to the county's four precinct lakes, to Lake Fork and to other large bodies of water in the county. He said the highly invasive plants can able its size in just one week. It spreads from lake to lake via boats and boat trailers. Citizens can help stop the spread of this outlawed plant by inspecting their boats, trailers, intakes, propellers and jet skis before leaving a lake.
The Harmony school board held their regular meeting November 17th. Board members heard a report on the damage to the district's tennis courts following the heavy rainfalls. Cracks appeared apparently caused by severe erosion under the asphalt. It was the consensus of the board to hire an engineering consulting firm to assess the problem. The board also authorized architect Ted Estey to generate the next generation of drawings for the proposed five-classroom expansion of the high school. They also received a report on the district's performance in the TAKS tests.
The Hawkins City Council met in regular session November 17th. They received the news that Suddenlink cable subscribers in the area would have a rate increase. The basic rate will go up $2.50 per month. The council also renewed the lease with Mother Frances/Champion EMS to house an ambulance at the Hawkins Volunteer Fire Department.
On November 10th, Austin Gray was sentenced to 40 years in prison by Judge Tim Boswell of the 402nd Judicial District Court of Wood County. Gray pled guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child.
The Wood County Commissioners met on November 26th. They approved an agreement with Texas Health and Human Services Commission to occupy two county offices at 305 Wright Street in Quitman. The agreement would take effect December 1st, 2008 and will continue until such time as either party negotiates different terms. The commissioners also entered into an agreement with Peoples Wireless Services to place radio antennas on towers owned by the local telephone cooperative in Wood County.
On November 24th, a local congregation, Summit Heights Fellowship, purchased the building that formerly housed the local True Value Hardware store on Hwy 2869, which will become their new home in early 2009.
Sales tax returns for November 2008 for Hawkins and three of the five other incorporated counties in Wood County were down compared with the same month a year ago. Hawkins returns were down 3.24 percent versus the November figures for 2007. The year-to-date figure for Hawkins versus last year showed a drop of 5.24 percent.
Further reflecting the economic downturn, in Austin, the Legislative Budget Board, charged with setting the ceiling for spending in the 2010-2011 state budget, adopted the lowest rate of growth since the spending cap was enacted by a constitutional amendment in 1978.
December: The Hawkins school board met on December 1st in regular session. Superintendent Dan Rose advised the board of the continuing work by contractors on the punch list of items requiring attention as a result of the construction and renovation program that has been underway for the past year. Also, the board agreed with the administration's recommendation to join a commodity processing consortium organized through Region VIII to be known as TIPS (The Interlocal Processing System.)
In the district court, James Owen Spurlock, 63, of Hawkins, appeared in court with his attorney to answer an indictment for aggravated sexual assault of a disabled individual. Immediately prior to jury selection, the defendant withdrew his not guilty please and entered a plea of guilty to the indictment set for trial as well as a separate indictment that was pending in Wood County. Formal sentencing was set for January 13th, 2009.
At Holly Lake Ranch, Larry Bowman and Jeanette Sterner were re=elected by property owners to two-year terms on the B Board. They had been challenged by Jack Mills, Kay Sloan and Sam Wilson.
The Wood County Commissioners met in regular session on December 12th. The commissioners approved the distribution of $400,000 to the county's 12 volunteer fire departments. The commissioners also selected a law firm to represent the county in a law suit brought by former Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Larry Pack.
The Harmony school board met in regular session on December 15th. They approved advertising to hire a construction manager for the proposed high school expansion. They also heard a report from Superintendent Jed Whitaker on the outcome of an engineering report on the water damage to the district's tennis courts.. Two different methods were suggested. With either one the final cost would be between $30,000 and $40,000.
Sales tax returns for December 2008 for Hawkins and three of the other cities in Wood County were down versus the same month in 2007. Overall the county's six municipalities' sales tax return dropped 5.87 percent for the month versus last December. In the year-to-date total, Hawkins is 7.10 percent below 2007. All six cities are 0.82 percent below last year.
In Austin, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison signaled a primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry in 2010. If she decides to run, the Senator would likely vacate her seat late in 2009 and this would allow Gov. Perry to appoint someone and hold a special election to fill the seat through 2012.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2009 18:17  

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