10 26 2014

Remembering 2013: Community’s top stories offer insight into year past

Compiled by
Donnita Fisher
Managing Editor

As the 2013 comes to an end, we take a look back at the year as told through the headlines, stories and photos of the newspaper.
And as the final days of 2013 count down, we wish for you a wonderful new year and leave you with an Irish blessing: May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

January

City to rent building
for office space
Temporary housing for city offices will be set up soon, after the Canton City Council voted to lease a building until plans can be made for a new city hall.
In early November, an 18-wheeler slammed into the side of the Canton City Office Complex (COC) after the driver who, was traveling eastbound on State Highway 64, attempted to miss an SUV that pulled out into oncoming traffic on Van Zandt County Road 4126.
The loaded rock truck struck the COC on the east side, catching the structure on fire.
Fortunately no city employees were injured, but the COC was a total loss.

Development
resolutions adopted
The Canton Economic Development Corporation voted to adopt three separate resolutions in support of three companies who could receive funding from the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program from the state.
Since October, the CEDC has been hearing from housing development companies interested in building in Canton if they received a tax credit from the state.

Veterans Memorial
to receive funds
A gift to the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Plaza will be twice as nice because for every dollar donated now through March 31, 2013, the Canton Economic Development Corporation will match it.
During a special called meeting, the CEDC board met in executive session, and then voted in open session, to give the Veterans Memorial Board a dollar for every dollar they received up to $4,000.

County joins
healthcare alliance
Van Zandt County Commissioners have approved the county’s enrollment in a healthcare alliance known as the Texas Political Subdivisions Workers Compensation Alliance.

Blanket believed cause
of pre-New Years house fire
No one was injured in a structure fire that left the homeowner homeless three days before the start of the new year.
The fire was reported on Westview Lane when the resident wanted the fire department to come out and check an electric blanket that “had possibly shorted out.”

Housing resolution passes
in 3-2 council vote
During a special called meeting of the Canton City Council late last week, discussion about a resolution to support application for housing credits for affordable housing caused a split of a 3-2 vote in favor of the effort.

Man please guilty for repeatedly beating wife
Joshua Neal Holden plead guilty to Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon family violence in exchange for a plea offer that sentenced him to 40 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division and a $1,500 fine.
Holden is accused of physically and mentally abusing his wife, Lisa, while keeping her locked up in a room inside their Ben Wheeler mobile home.

EDC board looks
at changes to bylaws
The Canton Economic Development Corporation heard about possible amendments to their bylaws as presented by executive director Mercy Rushing during their board meeting.
Rushing suggested changes to the CEDC bylaws in three areas under Article IV.
She told the board that city councilman Jerry Yarbrough had requested that the board consider a change in bylaws that would stipulate that no Canton City Council members or Canton mayor be appointed to serve on the CEDC board, seeing their service as a conflict of interest.

Ray making sheriff’s office presence known in county
“It’s a new day,” newly elected Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray said having wrapped up his 10th day in office.
“We are working with other agencies in the county and the judges and police from other cities, and DPS have been working with us and we are excited,” Ray continued.
With high morale and an open door policy, Ray said he is enjoying his new role as sheriff.

Sheriff says comp time issue has been corrected
Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray indicated Tuesday that the county may have needlessly paid hundreds of hours of comp time to deputies in recent years.
Ray, who took over as sheriff this month after winning election in November, said a “misinterpretation or misunderstanding” of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as it applies to emergency personnel has now been corrected.

Football field turf being replaced gets kicked around
Options to either repair or replace the field turf on the high school football field dominated much of the discussion at the Canton ISD board meeting, but no final decision was made.
Due to failure of the synthetic turf, CISD Superintendent Jay Tullos contacted the company, FieldTurf, who originally installed the product.
Installed in 2007, the original turf was under an eight-year warranty. However, the district was only able to get six seasons out of it before it failed.

Use of private road raises council concern
The public and private use of Arnold Paul Road was of concern to the Canton City Council as they considered what to do with the request as they wait on the awarding of the tax credit for the affordable housing project.
Although a public hearing for the acceptance of petition for voluntary annexation of an eight-acre tract in the J. Douthit Survey, a-198, located at State Highway 243 and Arnold Paul Road, owned by Henry Lewis was accepted, the project still raised questions.

Man killed after vehicle collides into semi
Department of Public Safety officials speculate that fatigue may have been the factor that caused a San Antonio man to drive into oncoming traffic on State Highway 19 Monday which killed him upon impact.

First Monday leases hits nerve with some councilmembers
Extending leases and allowing future building on the city owned First Monday grounds was a topic of great discussion by the Canton City Council during their January meeting.
There are currently two new buildings going up on the First Monday grounds which raised concern by two council members.

Two injured in oil
tank explosion
VAN—Two people were seriously injured in an oil storage tank explosion north of Van on State Highway 110 early Tuesday morning.
Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said a man and woman, both 24 years of age, were seriously injured when they lit a cigarette while walking the catwalk of an oil storage tank.

Hensarling discusses federal debt in Canton
U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a leading fiscal conservative and Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was in Van Zandt County today to talk with constituents about the federal debt crisis and recent action to end job-destroying spending and Washington waste.

February

County approves
insurance for K-9
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office will soon have a new K-9 officer on the staff.
Tuesday, Sheriff Lindsey Ray got approval from county commissioners for an insurance policy for the new K-9 officer, known as Saber, which is both a trained drug dog and attack dog.
Saber will be under the direction of his handler, Deputy Carlos Rodriguez.

Canton receives Main Street recognition
Canton has been commended for successful annual progress as a designated Main Street community.
The Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) made the announcement January 30, at the winter gathering of Texas Main Street managers.

Choir students return from contest with 127 medals
The Canton Junior High Choir competed at Solo & Ensemble and returned home with 127 division I rating medals.
The choir took 72 students who had prepared solos for competition and of those, 66 were awarded division I ratings
Additionally there were seven ensembles and they all earned a division I rating.

UIL teams win
Sweepstakes
The Canton High School University Interscholastic League Academic and Speech/Debate teams celebrated a big win following the Hallsville UIL “Set B” Invitational Meet on Feb. 8 and 9 as the teams came back with a first place sweepstakes win in small schools division for 1A-3A schools.

Animal cruelty case being investigated
The Canton Animal Control and Canton Police Department are investigating the cruel death of a black cat found by a creek late.
According to reports, Canton Animal Control Officer Tom Perry was notified on Feb. 15 of an animal cruelty case on the north side of the creek at the bridge crossing College Street just past Big Rock Street.

Six arrested
in burglary bust
Six people were arrested following an extensive investigation by the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office that started after a report of suspicious activity near Van Zandt County Road 4201 Feb. 15.

Board opts for warranty replacement of turf
After several minutes of discussion, the Canton School Board voted six to one Monday night to replace the field turf at the high school football stadium with the same material that was originally used.

Board approves several resolutions
The Canton Economic Development Corporation approved a number of resolutions during their regular meeting last week and called meeting Monday night.
Among the resolutions for approval was Resolution 2012-14A authorizing an amendment to Resolution 2012-14 showing support for the proposed Canton Village Homes, an affordable housing tax credit program project.

County opposes bill reducing retirement match
The Van Zandt County Commissioners’ Court on Tuesday approved a resolution opposing a Texas House bill that could affect the county’s retirement benefit program.
House Bill 958, sponsored by Rep. Rob Orr (R-Burleson), proposes to reduce the interest credit rating on all Texas Counties and Districts Retirement System fund from 7 percent to 5 percent.

May 11 ESD election set by commissioners
Van Zandt County Commissioners late last week set a May 11 election for a proposed new emergency services district.
If approved by voters, the county’s third ESD would include the territory currently being served by South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department.
Negotiations have begun with the city of Canton to possibly include Canton’s extra-territorial jurisdiction in the new district.

Road maintenance concerns council
Discussion of whether or not Arnold Paul Road should be made a public roadway and who would be responsible for the maintenance, became an item of concern among the Canton City Council.
An item on the agenda called for the adoption of a resolution designating a section of Arnold Paul Road as a public roadway or, alternatively consider granting permission for a tract of approximately eight acres, located at State Highway 243 and Arnold Paul Road, for property access.

Rushing completes certification from college
Mercy Rushing, executive director of the Canton Economic Development Corporation/Canton Visitors Bureau and president of the Canton Texas Chamber of Commerce is now a Certified Tourism Executive after completing a three year intensive course called Travel & Tourism College, a program of the Texas Travel Industry Association.

Council tables request to be included ESD No. 3
A request to include the city of Canton’s extraterritorial jurisdiction and a portion of territory within the city of Canton’s city limits in the proposed Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 3 was tabled by the city council.
South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kyle Harris addressed the Canton City Council during their regular meeting with hope of getting their OK to move forward, but he was met with concern by council members and their attorney.

March

Band comes back with first division 70 medals
The Canton Junior High School Band received 70 first divisions out of 50 entries, at the Mabank Cedar Creek Solo & Ensemble Competition.

Five file for council seats including current mayor
Current Canton Mayor Cary Hilliard filed for one of the two city council seats that are up during the May election cycle.
Hilliard was elected to serve on the council as mayor for the city of Canton in May 2011.
The lone candidate seeking the mayor’s seat is Rick Lawrence, who works as a licensed clinical social worker. Lawrence has previously served as mayor for the city of Canton and was former county judge.
Other candidates filing for one of the two positions on the city council, other than Hilliard, are Elisa M. Heard, and incumbents Vicki Marshall Chambless and Candice Benson.

Crews work to plug
water leak
Canton city maintenance crews worked for more than 12 hours after a steel water line failed causing a leak along the corner of Tyler and Capitol Streets. Canton City Manager Lonny Cluck said the cause of the leak was from electrolysis built up over time causing the line, laying on a rock under the road, to rub a hole in the line.

Canton will not be
in ESD 3 election
After tabling a request to include the city of Canton’s extraterritorial jurisdiction within the proposed Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 3, the Canton City Council voted unanimously not to be included in the ESD vote on May 11.
The extraterritorial jurisdiction for the city of Canton, is half a mile and is currently covered by the South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department.

County OKs extension
of natural gas pipeline
A 16-inch diameter natural gas liquids pipeline that would extend across three precinct in the county was authorized by the commissioners’ court of Van Zandt County.
Land use plan, zoning of property questioned
Following discussion about the future land use plan and zoning change of land located between State Highway 243 and Arnold Paul Road, the Canton Planning & Zoning Commission voted 3-1 in favor of the changes.
The board was asked to consider an amendment to the 2004 comprehensive plan’s future land use plan from Commercial to Multiple Family Residential (MF-2) on the 8.84-acres located behind the Assembly of God Church.
The property is currently under consideration for annexation into the city of Canton and is owned by Henry Lewis.

High school band
named exemplary
The Canton High School Band was chosen by the Texas Bandmasters Association for a prestigious award. Each year, the Texas Bandmasters Association selects one high school and one middle school band as a TBA Exemplary Band Program of the year.
The 2013 Exemplary High School Band Award went to the Canton High School Band and its director Rob Toups,.

Education Foundation presents check to CISD
Canton ISD trustees were presented a check in the amount of $32,000.88, from the Canton Educational Foundation. The funds came from fundraisers and donations to the organization whose purpose is to “solicit, manage and distribute funds that will be used to enhance the educational experience of the students in Canton ISD.”

Motorcyclist killed
in collision
One person was killed in a two-vehicle collision on Farm-to-Market 47 Saturday morning near Wills Point. Department of Public Safety Trooper Matthew Skinner said a 2011 Ford F-350 was traveling north on FM 47, followed by a 1996 Honda motorcycle.
Skinner said according to the driver of the truck, and witnesses, the truck had turned on his left signal and was attempting to turn left onto Van Zandt County Road 3838. The driver of the motorcycle, 37-year-old Zack Owens Sewell, attempted to pass to the left striking the driver side of the truck.
Fire destroys two
buildings, house
A trash fire got out of hand three miles east of Canton on State Highway 64, destroying two outbuildings and a house. Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said just after 2 p.m. a 9-1-1 call was made to Van Zandt County of a house fire.
Allen said the fire to the outbuildings and the house resulted in a total loss as a result of “careless burning on a windy day.”

City agrees to give child vehicle fee revenue to CAC
The Canton City Council has approved a five-year resolution donating the city’s portion of the state’s child safety vehicle registration fee to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Van Zandt County.
The fee, which is approximately $1.50 per vehicle, will help the center fund additional staff for child abuse education and intervention.

Ben Wheeler man jailed on capital murder charge
Law enforcement officials arrested a man Sunday morning after he called 911 and confessed he had killed one person and critically wounded another.
Larry Maples, 44, of Ben Wheeler, was transported to the Van Zandt County Jail in Canton where he was confined for Capital Murder.
He is charged with the murder of his wife, Heather Maples, 34, Ben Wheeler. Larry Maples is also charged with Felony 2 Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in relation to the second shooting victim.

Residents protest plan
for rock crushing work
A group of Van Zandt County residents have filed a petition asking county commissioners to deny county road use for a rock crushing plant operation near Wills Point.
Joe Rice, designated spokesman for the group, presented a petition with 70 signatures at Tuesday’s commissioners’ court meeting. It is asking the county to restrict use by rock trucks of Van Zandt County Road 3805, northwest of the Wills Point city limits.

Several honored
at chamber banquet
It was a night of honor as several organizations in Canton attended the chamber of commerce banquet to honor special people in the community who have made a difference.
Having reformed three years ago, the Canton Texas Chamber of Commerce held their first banquet for the community at the Civic Center last Thursday night with a “Black & White Gala.”
Donna Rakestraw was presented the Citizen of the Year Award by the city of Canton.

April

Police office arrested
for drug violations
James Melvin Bradshaw, the Canton Police Department’s narcotics officer, was arrested on federal drug violations.
Bradshaw, 32, was charged with six counts of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation. He had been with CPD for eight years.

Soldier welcomed home with dinner
Specialist Scott Jay Anderson was honored with a “Welcome Home, Soldier” dinner at Pappadale’s Restaurant in Canton. He has returned home after his deployment to Afghanistan. He and his family have resided in Van Zandt County, making Canton and Van their home.

Courts tables decision on trucks use of county road
Van Zandt County Commissioners have delayed a decision on whether to close a county road to tractor-trailers and rock trucks.
Van Zandt County Road 3805, northwest of Wills Point, is the road Trinity Materials wants open to trucks going between U.S. Highway 80 and a proposed rock crushing facility on Kaufman County Road 346.

Food bank forced
to find new home
Manna, the Van Zandt County food bank, located in Canton, is desperately seeking a new home.
Manna has been located at 17766 Farm-to-Market 1255 for the past 28 years. The current property was donated to Manna and the community came together to build the existing building.
Manna’s property consists of the building, approximately two feet around the building and driveway to the street which only has room for four vehicles to park.

UIL teams advance
to Regionals
The Canton High School University Interscholarstic League (UIL) Academic, Speech, and Debate Team recently won the title of 2012-13 District 15-3A UIL Academic Champions and combined for a total of 376 points followed by runner-up, Van High School, with 333 points.

Silent march of remembrance held at courthouse
The citizens of Van Zandt County gathered at the courthouse for a time of prayer and remembrance of those who suffered and died at the hands of Adolph Hitler’s killing machine.
Pastor of Everlasting Ministries Phillip Boswell led the local observance of this world wide annual event.

Junior high choir sweeps competition
The Canton Junior High Varsity Girls and Tenor Bass Choir competed at the Region IV UIL Competition at Greenville High School on April 10, earning the school two Sweepstakes.

Board approves demolition of old, unused facilities
After years of not being used, the Canton ISD Board of Trustees voted to move forward on the abatement and demolition process of unused facilities.
Three of the four old junior high wings, which have not been in use by the district since the construction of the new junior high, and the old special education buildings that front Buffalo Street, were the facilities discussed.

Theives strike
Precinct 2 again
The Precinct 2 Constables Office reported that thieves are working overtime in the A&B Woodland and Elm Grove community.
Constable C.B. Wiley reported that his office took a theft complaint from residents who live near VZCR 2710 on South Farm to Market Road 47.

Fuel reimbursement gets approval by county
Van Zandt County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $4,000 fuel reimbursement for a county constable who had been using his personal vehicle for several months.
Precinct 1 Constable Mickey Henson put in the budget line increase request to cover fuel expense before receiving a county-owned replacement vehicle last month. The original county-owned vehicle had been totaled in an accident late last year.
The money, Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches explained at Tuesday’s meeting, had been received as an insurance pay-off for the totaled vehicle.

Council looks at employee drug testing
A policy amending employee drug testing policies and the implementation of a random drug testing program for city employees was tabled during last week’s Canton City Council meeting.
Following discussion about the current policy, the council directed the city attorney to review the policy and draft up a random drug testing program for the city that stays within the statutes of the law.
The current city policy is if an employee has an accident or is suspected of drug use, then they can be tested.

Foundation surprises teachers with grants
Twenty-one Canton Independent School District teachers were surprised April 12 by news that they had won innovative teaching grants from the Canton Educational Foundation totaling more than $32,000.

Sandy Hilliard honored
for service to East Texas
The East Texas Council of Governments honored regional citizens who exemplify excellence in performance, innovation, and contributions to the community at its 86th Semi-Annual Board of Director’s meeting at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Rusk.
Among those honored was Canton resident Sandy Hilliard who received Regional Citizen of the Year.

May

Sheriff outlines new crime prevention plan
Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray has created a new crime deterrent program he hopes will bring down consistently rising property crimes and other offenses in the unincorporated portions of the county.
Known as the “Precinct Watch Program,” the effort is co-sponsored by the sheriff’s office and county commissioners, and will be led by the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Posse.

Blakemore joins
newspaper staff
Brad Blakemore, an experienced newspaper professional with strong advertising and marketing skills, has been named publisher of Van Zandt Newspapers, LLC. The announcement was made by John Buzzetta, president of the company.
Blakemore is based in Canton and has direct responsibilities for the Canton Herald, Van Zandt News, Wills Point Chronicle, Van Banner and Quinlan-Tawakoni News.

Two die
in fiery crash
VAN—Two people died in a fiery crash Monday night on Farm-to-Market 314 south of Van.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Matt Cosper said 46-year-old Ben Wheeler resident Jill Troquille had just got off work at the Dinner Bell in Van and was traveling home on FM 314 in a 1995 Ford F150 pickup.

Building dedicated
to cemetery association
A building was recently donated to the Starr Cemetery Association to replace the one that was demolished by a tornado in 2010.

Man arrested
in fatal stabbing
VAN—Van police are continuing to investigate a fatal stabbing of a man Monday morning near Van High School.
However, one man is being held on a $1 million bond for a felony murder charge. He is identified as Delano Garcia, 39, Lindale.

City approves services
for sidewalk project
The sidewalk project in downtown Canton is moving forward, as city officials approved grant management services and engineering services contracts during a special called meeting.
Grant management services were awarded to Gary Traylor & Associates, the same company that has handled the projects since they originally began.

Students qualify for state academic meet
The Canton High School UIL Academic, Speech, and Debate Team, which competed at the Region II-3A meet, combined for a total of 77 points for a fifth place finish.
The team has 10 students advancing to the state meet.

Commissioners opt to close road to trucks
Van Zandt County Commissioners have decided to close a county road to commercial truck traffic after an update about plans for a rock crushing facility in the area.

Third ESD approved
by voters
Van Zandt County will have a third Emergency Services District (ESD) after voters in the south central area approved establishing a new ESD on Saturday.
With 152 total votes cast, the proposition got approval by a 94-58 margin. The new ESD will be established to administrate emergency services for the area currently served by South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department.

New city council, school board set to take oath
Changes were made by voters in the Canton ISD and city council race after the votes were tabulated Saturday night.
Mayor Cary Hilliard, who surprised many voters with a switch to run for a seat on the city council instead of filing for re-election as mayor, won a seat on the council with 264 votes.
Joining Hilliard as a new council member is Elisa M. Heard, who captured 283 votes.
At the close of business last Tuesday, when early voting totals were tallied, incumbent candidates Vicki Marshall Chambless and Candice Benson were ahead. Chambless had 172 and Benson had 164 votes, while Hilliard had 147 and Heard had 158.
After Election Day totals were added into the early voting totals, Chambless ended up with 243 votes, Benson 232, Hilliard 264 and Heard 283.
Rick Lawrence, who ran unopposed in the mayor’s race, ended up with a total of 335 votes.
In the school board election, there were three places that were being voted on.
Lone incumbent for Place 3, TA Hale, received 440 votes total.
Mike Malouf who ran for re-election to Place 5, unopposed, received 447 votes.
Incumbent candidate for Place 4, Kym Phillips beat out her challenger Darryl Jeanes.

Woman steals thousands from employer
A Canton woman is spending 30 days in jail and was sentenced to pay restitution of more than $22,000, after a more than year long time period where she stole from the company where she was employed.
Julie Renee Salvato, 40, of Canton, spent a year as the office bookkeeper at Hatfield Restorations in Canton, managing the company credit card, payroll, paying bills, going to the post office, and handling billing.

High school students to compete at state contest
Six Canton High School vocal students will be traveling to Austin to compete in the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest

Canton designated
Walking Capital
Canton has been named the Walking Capital of Texas.
The Walking Capital designation was authored by Senator Bob Deuell and sponsored by State Representative Dan Flynn.

Vehicle camera
request put on hold
Van Zandt County Commissioners have tabled a request by fire marshal Chuck Allen for a budget increase to purchase in-car video recording equipment.

County to seek grant for crime prevention officer
A three-year grant may be the answer to providing a crime prevention officer for the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office.
County commissioners’ court authorized Sheriff Lindsey Ray to apply for a U.S. Department of Justice grant program that could provide about $110,000 over the three years for salary and benefits.
A crime prevention officer, Ray explained, would go a long way in helping to lower the crime rate in Van Zandt County.

Water craft rentals at lake approved by city council
After much discussion, the Canton City Council approved a proposal for rental of water sporting equipment on the Old City Lake.
Ruth and Jaques Van Der Plas, from Aqua World USA, proposed renting kayaks and paddle boats at the Old City Lake on Saturday’s during set hours.

Nace, Majid named Canton’s top seniors
Lane Nace was named valedictorian and Marjan Majid was named salutatorian of the Canton High School Class of 2013.

June

Andrews Center breaks ground on new men’s home
Residents who live at the Andrews Center Group Home were very excited when they saw bulldozers move into the lot that has set empty for years behind the Andrews Center located on State Highway 243.
Cindy Grace, chief operating officer for the Andrews Center, said the current men’s group home in Canton was built in 1979 and houses up to 10 people.

DEA commends
Canton officer
Canton Police Officer Heath Burton received a special commendation from the Drug Enforcement Administration Tyler office for his work as an interdiction specialist working on federal drug operations in East Texas. Since 2008, Burton has personally been responsible for helping the agency gather large amounts of narcotics off the streets

Lawsuit dismissed
against city
A lawsuit that was filed against the city of Canton in the summer of 2011 was dismissed last Friday by the 12th Court of Appeals District in Tyler.
The lawsuit came after Zanbaka, USA, LLC dba Dukes Travel Plaza was denied final approval of a contract by the Canton City Council, during the newly elected council’s first meeting June 21, 2011 following an agreement entered into with the Canton Economic Development Corporation.

City receives
$179K ‘Trails’ Grant
The city of Canton’s Mill Creek Lake Park Trail is one of only 33 recreational trail projects proposed across the state that was approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, for funding in their Recreational Trail Grant Program.

Building of warehouse OK’d by council
The Canton City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission met Monday night in special meetings and approved a development that would allow the building of a two-story warehouse and showroom space located at 1900 and 2100 North Trade Days Blvd.
The property, owned by Paul Michael, is two lots located on 6.82-acres of land.

ESD directors appointed
Five people have been appointed as directors of the new Van Zandt County Emergency Services District No. 3, although one appointee drew an objection from the South Van Zandt Volunteer Fire Department.

Farm Bureau marks
60 years in county
Van Zandt County Farm Bureau celebrated its 60th anniversary with a cookout and special presentations.
The local chapter of the Texas Farm Bureau formed in 1953 after several other attempts at organizing farmers met with mixed results in previous decades.

Trustees move forward with demolition process
The final numbers for the abatement and demolition of property was approved by the Canton Board of Trustees during a special board meeting Monday.
A bid for approximately $105,000 was approved to abate asbestos to the three unused wings of the old junior high that have sat vacant behind the administration office.
Once abated, Canton ISD Superintendent Jay Tullos explained those buildings would be torn down, and the concrete slabs removed.

Manna finds
temporary home
Manna, the Van Zandt County food bank, has found a temporary home. The Manna board members found out in April they would have approximately a month to find a new home for the 30-year-old food bank.
Grace Bible Fellowship Baptist Church, lead by Pastor Dan Tarno, has graciously offered their old chapel as a temporary home for Manna.

New assisted living center to host groundbreaking
Canton will soon be the home to a new assisted living as the project, which has been in the works for more than two years, has moved forward.
Country Homes, which is the city’s first assisted living center, will be located on State Highway 19 south, just outside the city limits.

Local camp allows kids to give back to community
One week out of the summer, kids ranging from seventh grade and older come together for camp. This is not your ordinary camp. It is called CPR (Canton Project Rehab) Camp.
Canton Project Rehab is a non-profit organization that helps low income homeowners make repairs on their homes. It is an all-volunteer group that relies upon volunteers and the generous financial support of organizations, businesses, and individuals within communities.
The camp allows kids to come out for a week and help reroof, repaint and rebuild, along with mow grass and cut limbs.

Commissioners change action on fuel contract
Van Zandt County Commissioners have rescinded a bid award earlier this month for road and bridge department fuel.
The new fuel contract had been awarded to Duko Oil, the county’s current provider. However, in a special session on Wednesday, the court voted 4-0 to instead award the contract to Spencer Distribution LP of Palestine as the lowest bidder.

County to participate
in feral hog program
Van Zandt County Commissioners have authorized participation in a program aimed at eradicating feral hogs.
The program, known as the County Hog Abatement Matching Program (CHAMP), is sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture. It provides up to $30,000 on a matching fund basis, according to Van Zandt County Assistant Auditor Bert Morris.

JULY

High school students bring back state gold
The Canton High School spelling and vocabulary teams came back 3A State Champions at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) competition recently held in Austin. The current events and issues team won fourth place.

Local volunteers work to restore historic cemetery
Hillcrest Cemetery, located in the downtown historic district, is under way.
Many of the early settlers who shaped Canton and Van Zandt County history are interred there, with the earliest known burial dated in 1860.
Deterioration, due to time and natural elements, has made it necessary for the Canton City Council to appoint a committee of interested citizens to undertake this project and preserve a vital part of Canton’s history.

Capital murder
suspect released
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office released a statement, Sunday afternoon, following the release of capital murder suspect Larry Michael Maples, who failed to be indicted within 90 days of his arrest.
Maples, 44, Ben Wheeler, was being held in the Van Zandt County Jail for the March 24 murder of his wife Heather.

Historical Commission receives latest award
The Van Zandt County Historical Commission has earned its fifth consecutive Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission.
Members of the organization collectively logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours in 2012.

Mayor gives travel plaza owner key to city
A key to the city of Canton was given to Yousef “Joe” Zoubi, owner of Duke’s Travel Plaza, during an anniversary celebration of the business, held Saturday.
During his address to Zoubi, Canton Mayor Rick Lawrence described the recognition as “overdue.”

Meal prices increase
for new school year
Canton Independent School District is being required to increase meal prices again this year as a result of raised standards by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Meal prices and nutritional standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture continue to change annually, requiring school districts to raise their prices.
Elementary and intermediate school lunch prices will be $2.25, and junior high and high school lunch prices will be $2.50.

Chamber patriotically parades through town
The Canton Chamber of Commerce held a Patriotic Parade through downtown Canton on July 4th.

Sales tax returns continue to rise
The healthy sales tax numbers were once again making Canton Economic Development Corporation board members smile as the year continues to see an increase.
Sales tax numbers for the month, which reflect June sales tax, was up 9.87 percent from this time last year.
CEDC Executive Director Mercy Rushing said overall sales tax is up 7.76 percent for the year compared to last year.

Board reviews changes to handbook, code of conduct
There were two minor changes to both the handbook and code of conduct. CISD Superintendent Jay Tullos explained the two major changes included the section on Electronic Devices in Restrooms/Dressing Areas, and Questioning Students At School.

Crews tear down
old junior high
A landmark structure at Canton Independent School District started coming down this week as construction crews with D.E.A.A. Corporation out of Tyler began the demolition process of the three wings that once served as Canton Junior High. The wing attached to the administration office will remain.
Opened for use during the 1958/1959 school year, according to school records, the wings had to go undergo an asbestos abatement process first, before the demolition crews could began tearing down the brick structures.

Teen arrested for making false report
On July 12, at approximately 9 a.m., Seniya Jones turned herself in at the Canton Police Department on three warrants.
The Canton Police Department obtained warrants for Jones, July 11, in connection with the false report of a kidnapping made by Jones on July 9.

County conducts offender compliane check
Van Zandt County Criminal District Attorney Chris Martin and Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray report that a county-wide sex offender compliance check was conducted on July 10 in order to verify registration compliance on the county’s 116 registered sex offenders.
The check was conducted by approximately 50 officers representing the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, the Van Zandt County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Criminal Investigations Division, the United States Marshal’s Service, Van Zandt County Constables Offices and the Van City Marshal’s Office.
Eighty-nine registered sex offenders were found to be in compliance with state reporting requirements and 16 were found to have moved out of Van Zandt County without properly notifying authorities.

Previous meeting minutes questioned
Right from the beginning, the Canton City Council meeting got off to a rough start when the minutes from the previous meeting were pulled out of the consent agenda for discussion causing a rift between the mayor and one council member.
A concern on the official records of minutes, of two motions made by council member Marilyn Burrage, caused her to request corrections.
The items were for the adoption of Ordinance 2013-10 amending the city of Canton 2004 comprehensive plans, and changing the zoning from of 21.15-acres located on Farm-to-Market 859 south of Interstate 20.
“Mrs. Burrage is asking to change her vote in the minutes of the meeting for June 18, to reflect that her vote was not as I had declared,” Mayor Rick Lawrence said. “Not an abstention, but rather a nay vote.”

Parks trails project gets second chance
The Mill Creek Lake Park Trails Project took a different turn thanks to volunteers.
Word of the Canton City Council rejecting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s approximate $200,000 grant to build running/walking trails around Mill Creek Lake last month, spawned interest within the community quickly.
EDC budgets funds
for projects
Almost $300,000 has been budgeted for Canton Economic Development Corp. projects for fiscal year 2014.
Executive Director Mercy Rushing outlined the proposed projects – totaling $294,500 – during a CEDC meeting Aug. 1.

Capital murder
charges returned
A Van Zandt County grand jury this week returned a true bill on capital murder charges in two separate cases.
The grand jury indicted Larry Michael Maples, 44, of Ben Wheeler on one charge of capital murder and one charge murder-criminal attempt.
The grand jury also indicted Michael Vincent Moore, 57, of Grand Prairie on a capital murder charge.
Moore is alleged to have murdered his niece, 16-year-old Alicia Moore of Greenville, after she disappeared on Nov. 2, 2012. Her body was discovered four days later in a trunk in rural Van Zandt County.
Also, an indictment for murder was returned by the grand jury for Delano Garcia, 49, of Lindale. Garcia was arrested on May 6 for allegedly stabbing to death Jesse Lee Hudspeth of Wills Point. The incident occurred on East Ohio Street in Van.

August

Split court vote favors more pay for constables
A county budget proposal approved Tuesday would see Van Zandt County’s four precinct constables get a pay increase of about $2,600 above their 2012 salaries.
The proposal passed on a 3-2 split vote after motions for different proposed constable salaries — one lower and one higher — were defeated by the same margin.
If a new budget reflecting that increase is passed in September, it would bring the four constables to a salary of $35,760 per year.

Ex-reserve officer arrested on child porno
A former Van Zandt County Precinct 1 Reserve Deputy Constable was arrested late last week on a charge of possession of child pornography.
Bobby Reed Mooring of Grand Saline was taken into custody last Friday, according to a statement by Van Zandt County Sheriff Lindsey Ray earlier this week.

Local teen, canine
qualify for big show
Not many 15-year-olds can say they have qualified for a world famous event, but Haley Curran certainly can.
This year, she and her dog won enough to show in Orlando, Florida, and Westminster Kennel Club dog shows.
1,600 pounds of food collected for Manna
Splash Kingdom Waterpark held a food drive for Manna Food Bank and collected 1,691 pounds of food .

City enters stage 1 water conservation
The city of Canton is asking their water customers to voluntarily conserve.
Canton City Manager Lonny Cluck said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requested the city go to a Stage 1, out of the five stage, water restrictions.
Stage 1 water shortage conditions is voluntary limitations of irrigation, Cluck explained.

Never give up,
Britt says
We said goodbye to long-time staff writer Terry Britt. After a 30-year career in journalism, he left the Van Zandt Newspaper group to pursue a different kind of career.
He first came to work for Van Zandt Newspapers in June 1994 and left in August 2001. Then Terry rejoined the paper in November 2007.
Britt was accepted into the University of Texas at Austin where he will major in journalism with a concentration in media research and theory while working on his master’s degree.
He will then concentrate on his PhD with hopes of pursuing a doctorate in journalism.

Proposed tax rate, public hearing set
With expenses from three capital murder trials looming, the Van Zandt County Commissioners’ Court officially proposed an approximate 2 1/2-cent tax increase above the effective tax rate for the coming budget year.
The proposed rate of $0.485847 per $100 taxable valuation would generate an additional $505,000. According to Van Zandt County Judge Rhita Koches, that would help toward the county’s upcoming bills for one capital murder trial expected to begin in January.
The current county tax rate is $0.470065. The effective tax rate is lower because overall property valuations were slightly up this year.

School meets standard set by state in testing
Canton Independent School District has met the standard required by the Texas Education Agency for the 2013 state accountability system.
They fall into the 93 percent of school districts and charter schools across the state that received the rating Met Standard. The remaining schools received a Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required.

Arrests made during search of two local businesses
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Department, Canton Police Department and the Van Zandt County District Attorney’s Office executed two search warrants Aug. 12, on two separate businesses in the area.
The Van Zandt County Drug Task Force has had these businesses under investigation for illegal activity.
The Van Zandt County Drug Task Force made two arrests and will be issuing warrants for other individuals involved in the sale of illegal items.

Budget tax rate set
by trustees
The 2013-2014 budget and tax rate for the Canton Independent School District was approved following a public hearing Monday night.
The budget includes $14,214,799 for the general fund, $737,312 for food service fund, and $2,603,603 for the debt service fund.
The largest portion of the operating expenses of the budget is spent on payroll. It accounts for 73.74 percent, while contracted services are at 12.38 percent, supplies 5.79 percent, miscellaneous expense 5.95 percent and capital outlay 2.15 percent.

New tax rate expected to bring in more revenue
The Van Zandt Commissioners Court met in a special session regarding a budget workshop.
County Judge Rhita Koches remarked that “the budget needs work, we need to balance the budget to the best of our ability and make any changes necessary to implement Van Zandt County.”

Six arrested as result
of Crime Stoppers tip
Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers has authorized $1,400 in rewards for tips that led to the recent arrests of six people, four of them on drug-related charges.
The largest single reward, $400, was for a tip about a Canton man selling crack cocaine. He was subsequently arrested and charged with manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance, as well as a parole violation.

Proposed private club voted down by council
A proposed Special Use Permit that would allow a private club to sell wine, beer and serve food in downtown Canton was voted down by the city council in a 4-1 vote.
Linda Ramsey, owner of Texas Roads Winery on Dallas Street, applied for a SUP with the city of Canton and had already made application with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for her private club license.

Salary grievance committee recommends increase
Only one Van Zandt County employee filed a salary grievance this year and that employee received a majority recommendation from the salary grievance committee to receive a slight raise in pay.

Mercy Rushing announces resignation from city
For five years, Mercy Rushing has made major changes in helping the city grow economically bringing in businesses, helping grow tax dollars and implementing changes, and now she has announced she will be leaving to take a step up in another city.
Rushing signed a contract with the city of Mineola to take on a new position as assistant city administrator and economic development director.
She had been with Canton since August 2008.

Suspect arrested after shooting gun at man
Van Zandt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 28-year-old John Michael Miller Jr. of Canton for allegedly firing a gun at a man on Aug. 20.
Miller was arrested just after 9 p.m. Aug. 21, at the intersection of Interstate 20 and State Highway 64.

Commissioners reject pay raise for Wilson
On Aug. 23, Van Zandt County District Clerk Karen Wilson was given the opportunity to submit a recommendation for a raise in her salary to the salary grievance committee, and Monday the Van Zandt County Commissioners voted 3-2 denying her request.
After an emotional discussion, it was voted on 6-1 by the Van Zandt County Salary Grievance Committee to recommend Wilson’s salary be raised by $2,400 rather than the $4,050 that she requested, bringing the salary of the district clerk to $46,775.

September

EDC board approves proposed budget
Budgets for the Canton Economic Development Corporation and Main Street were approved by the CEDC board last week, and it will now go to the city council for final approval.
The CEDC proposed fiscal year 2014 budget has revenue of $1,136,960, expense (before government transfers) $484,697, total operating expense after government transfers $484,697, debt service $326,806, project expense $324,500 leaving a total operating/project/debt expense of $1,136,003.

Downtown merchants propose ideas to board
The Downtown Merchants Group that was formed about five months ago spoke to the Canton Economic Development Corporation about ideas they had to bring shoppers to the heart of Canton.
Jack and Jackie Carlson, owners of Cotton Shed No. 11, both said after being on the First Monday grounds for several years they began inviting people to their downtown location only to find “to our surprise there were many people who didn’t know we had a downtown.”

Sidewalk bids rejected
Due to high bid amounts received on the newest sidewalk project approved by the Texas Capitol Fund Sidewalk Grant, the Canton City Council rejected the two bids received, as recommended by engineers.
“The bids came in too high and we feel like part of it was because of the schedule we set,” City Manager Lonny Cluck explained.

Proposed projects, bids reviewed by council
Proposed projects for the year were reviewed during a called city council meeting, which included the review of the Canton City Council 2013-2014 budget.
City secretary Julie Seymore said the $13.6 million budget included almost $4 million invested in capitol improvements.
The proposed tax rate is $0.420332, which is lower this year than last year, and the maintenance and operation (M&O) is $0.103292 which makes up almost 25 percent of the tax collected and the 75 percent remaining goes to debt which is $0.31704.

Nicks to leave
high school
The announcement of Canton High School Principal Joe Nicks leaving was made during Monday night’s board meeting.
Nicks has been with the district since June 16, 2008. and is leaving at the end of September to take a job with Kaufman ISD as executive director of accountability.
Canton Independent School District Superintendent Jay Tullos said that recently retired junior high teacher Max Callahan has agreed to take on the position in the interim.

City council approves budget, lowers tax rate
After a brief public hearing on the 2013-2014 budget and tax rate, the Canton City Council approved both.
A $13.6 million budget along with a .420332 tax rate were reviewed and discussed during a public hearing before the final vote.
The budget breakdown includes an estimated $3.8 million in salaries and benefits while another $3.9 million, or 29 percent, is set aside for capital outlay which is improvement projects within the city, and another $1.9 million went to contractual services.

Canton designated as Walking Capital of Texas
Sept. 14, 2013, was a proud day for Bob Moore, a longtime resident of Canton, exercise enthusiast and walking fanatic. Moore has long pushed for the recognition that Canton deserves as being the Walking Capital of Texas, largely in part to the five billion footsteps walked in Canton.

New water tower going up
A 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank is under construction at the industrial park located on Farm-to-Market 859 in Canton. The contract was awarded April 16 to Phoenix Fabricators & Erectors in the amount of $1,683,952 by the Canton City Council and is expected to be online by June 2014. The project was approved to be built, by voters, in 2011.

Long-time editor leaves newspaper
Long-time Canton resident and Canton Herald Editor Julie Vaughn left the newspaper and the community.
Vaughn started her career with Van Zandt Newspapers in July 1998 as a part-time reporter and part-time graphic artist. In 2000, she was promoted to a full-time reporter when we re-launched the Van Banner. In the summer of 2000, she was transferred to Mabank as associate editor of our sister paper The Monitor. She spent six months there before moving back to Wills Point and working as the Wills Point Chronicle reporter, still serving as associate editor of Van Zandt Newspapers. In April 2004, Vaughn was promoted to editor of Van Zandt Newspapers.
Vaughn left to wed Kevin Langley and move to Shreveport, La.

Commissioners salute veterans
Judge Rhita Koches kicked off the county commissioners meeting Sept. 24, with a salute to the numerous volunteers across the county.
Koches remarked that, “the volunteers of the county do so much and we are so thankful for everyone and their time.”
Joining the meeting were the students and members from the Van Zandt County 4-H.

Committee appointments discussed during meeting
Committee appointments and in particular the water committee appointments were discussed at length by the Canton City Council, after concern was voiced on the need for both.
A policy was put in place for the citizen committee appointments that would be made up of two council members and allow each council member to appoint a member to the committee.

Issuance of keys to the city gets restrictions
Issuing a key to the city must meet the approval of the city council, as voted on by four of the five city council members during last Tuesday night’s meeting.
This is the second month in a row the issue was brought up for discussion.
The issue drew concern by some members of the council after newly elected mayor Rick Lawrence issued a key to the city to local businessman Joe Zoubi, owner of Duke’s Travel Plaza.

October

Council approves budget amendments
The Canton City Council approved about $1.1 million in year-end budget amendments Monday night.
“These are just a few cleanup items to bring the budget more in line with what actually happened,” said City Secretary and Finance Officer Julie Seymore.
On the revenue side, the city received $178,380 more in the general fund due to an increase of about $150,000 in sales tax revenue, Seymore said. Water revenue was down, however, by about $70,000.

Water line break floods courthouse
After a summer-long drought, the influx of rain this past month has caused catastrophic events at the Van Zandt County Courthouse.
The first flood of the courthouse happened overnight during the first part of September that spawned launching repairs to the basement of the courthouse.
After a torrential pouring of rain Sunday, Sept. 29, the Van Zandt County Courthouse suffered near calamitous flooding when an “antiquated water line broke,” County Judge Rhita Koches said.

Second First Monday lock and leave site selected
The Canton City Council decided on the location for a new lock and leave building on the First Monday Trade Day grounds.
The building will be located at the end row 43A intersection at the opposite end of the current lock and leave building. The building will be the same size as the current facility, 100 X 130, and will necessitate moving power, telephone, water and sewer lines.

Managing editor joins newspaper staff
Donnita Nesbit Fisher has joined the staff of Van Zandt Newspapers as managing editor.
“We are very excited about having Donnita on our team,” said Publisher Brad Blakemore. “She has a great deal of experience and perspective as we continue working towards delivering meaningful content to our diverse group of readers.”
A journalist for more than 30 years, Fisher will be responsible for the content and design of the Canton Herald, Van Banner, Wills Point Chronicle, Van Zandt News and The Quinlan-Tawakoni News.

Local funeral home changing ownership
Service Corporation International has purchased Eubank Funeral Home of Canton.
Headquartered near Houston, the company was founded in the early 1960s by Robert Waltrip.
According to U.S. Funerals online, SCI owns 1,435 funeral homes and 374 cemeteries in the United States and is the largest funeral and cemetery services company in the world. Waltrip still serves as chairman of the board.
Eubank Funeral Director Brian Bass said locally there won’t be many changes and the purchase “will be a good thing.”

Department adds tactical vehicle to arsenal
At the commissioners court Sept. 27 Sheriff Lindsey Ray announced that Van Zandt County would be accepting a 1993 International armored truck from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office.
“I have made a promise to the law-abiding citizens of Van Zandt County to try and do more with less and to make our communities safer places to live,” Ray said. “When one enters into the fight against drugs, some of the necessary safety equipment can get to be very expensive. I recently received a call from Sheriff Ray Nutt of Henderson County, asking if our deputies would benefit from the use of a Brinks armored car.”
Speed limit lowered
on portion of highway
After a request from State Rep. Dan Flynn, a traffic study by the Texas Department of Transportation, approval from the Canton City Council and a six-month wait, the speed limit on Veterans Memorial Highway has been lowered.
The speed limit has been dropped to 40 mph. It was 55.
The reduced speed area is from about a mile west of State Highway 64 to the intersection of Highway 243 and 64. That stretch of roadway is near Walmart.
Signs indicated the lower limits went up last week. The traffic study was done early this year and the reduced speed limit approved by the Canton City Council on March 19.

Council considers First Monday parking
First Monday parking and building were on the Canton City Council agenda at the Oct. 15 meeting.
Councilwoman Marilyn Burrage said she thought paying non-profit groups to park cars in the 64 parking lot “might not be appropriate.”
Currently charity groups can sign up to work parking cars during First Monday weekends. They receive half of the parking fees collected during their time working the lot. “It’s not inappropriate,” said City Secretary and Finance Officer Julie Seymore.
The council asked City Attorney Ron Stutes to review the arrangement and “look at how we can continue this practice,” Mayor Richard Lawrence said.
Councilman Shawn Stewart asked his fellow councilmembers to rethink the site of the city’s proposed next lock and leave building.
Stewart’s motion died for a lack of a second.

Gospel for Asia planting roots in Wills Point area
WILLS POINT – Gospel for Asia, a Christian ministry with a self-proclaimed mission statement of “reaching the most unreached,” has recently taken root in the Wills Point area, moving forward with a longstanding plan of consolidating varied resources into one centralized location.
According to GFA’s Chief Operating Officer David Carroll, the massive construction project, currently underway near the I-20 and Farm-to-Market 2965 intersection, has been the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of work.
Hay shows commitment
to land resources,
Van Zandt County hay producers “had a lot more high end grass this year,” according to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Agent Tommy Phillips.
“That shows we are trying to manage our land resources,” he said to those gathered for the Van Zandt County Hay Evaluation Clinic held recently.
Forty-five hay producers sent samples to be evaluated in the clinic. “That shows the commitment to making your place better,” Phillips said

Sales tax rate keeps upward trend
Canton’s sales tax receipts continue to grow posting a 7.1 percent year-to-date increase over 2012 figures.
For October, Canton received $237,203.99 in sales tax, up 4.43 percent over the October 2012 payment.
Year-to-date figures show the city earning more than $2.7 million in sales tax revenue. At the same time last year, that figure was $2.5 million.

Trustees accept donations, ad program
Canton ISD trustees approved donations from Goodwill and Texas Bank and Trust at their Oct. 21 meeting.
Goodwill gave $760, the store’s proceeds from tax-free weekend, Superintendent Jay Tullos said. Texas Bank and Trust provided $200 from its Fandemonium program. For every bank card ordered with the Canton Eagles logo, Texas Bank gives the district a stipend.
The board also OK’d the district’s advertisement and sponsorship program. The program puts a dollar figure on sponsorships of things ranging from school bus advertising to logos on calendars to report cards to phone hold messages to sponsorship of sporting event periods. “This takes us out of the barting business,” Tullos said.
School enrollment is 539 at the elementary school, 439 at the intermediate, 500 at the junior high and 601 at the high school for a total of 2,079.

Heritage Manor residents must find new homes
Heritage Manor of Canton is closing.
According to a letter given to residents Oct. 16, the family “will be closing its doors effective Dec. 16, 2013.”
Administrator John Patton said the closing comes from a “financial, business decision” by the facility’s owner. He declined to name the owner, explaining that the answer he usually gives is confusing to most people because the bricks and mortar are owned by one company and the business is owned by another. “It’s a landlord, management company situation,” he said.

Voters asked to decide water future
When Van Zandt County residents go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, they’ll be asked to vote for or against joining the Neches and Trinity Valleys Groundwater Conservation District.
A groundwater conservation district is a district created by the Texas Constitution and given the authority to regulate the spacing and production of water wells. The districts are supervised by the Texas Water Development Board. There are currently 99 groundwater conservation districts in the state. Of those 99 districts, 96 are overlaying an aquifer.
Currently the Neches and Trinity Valleys Groundwater Conservation District includes Anderson, Cherokee and Henderson counties. It was created in 2001 and is headquartered in Jacksonville.

November

Airport decision delayed; more information needed
The Canton City Council tabled an item authorizing the sale of Canton- Hackney Airport property.
Several people spoke in favor of repairing or renovating the airport and against its sale.
“I’m pleading with you not to sell the airport,” Don Hackney said. “It provides economic access and in fact, could be an economic engine, for the area.”
The airstrip is located off the Interstate 20 service road adjacent to the Van Zandt Country Club.
The airport is self-supporting, Hackney said. “The city has no funds tied in and it was developed with private funds. The city cannot do without an airport and if you get rid of it, we will never have another.”

It’s all about business
for council, EDC
The Canton City Council and the city’s economic development board met in a work session late last month to talk about developing the city’s business climate.
“The city council wanted to begin a process of communication – a dialogue to share ideas with respect to the direction of the city and how we’d like to collaborate,” Mayor Richard Lawrence said.
The meeting was to help define “what the council would like to approach and what economic development to pursue,” said EDC President Cindy Malouf.
Council and EDC members said they thought the community would be a good fit for senior housing since Canton is a Go Texan Certified Retirement Community.

World War II Vet
visits Washington
A government lockout could not stop Harold Jones and his fellow World War II veterans from making a trip to tour Washington, D.C. during the first part of October.
Jones and close to 30 veterans along with 22 Brookshire’s employees toured historic and nationally significant landmarks in and around D.C.
Brookshire’s grocery stores sponsors a trip four times a year for World War II veterans in the East Texas area. According to Jones, Brookshire’s sponsors the vets and pays for almost everything including hotel accommodations, airfare, food, transportation and clothing and even provides a doctor for the duration of the trip. Jones said the trip was the “royal treatment.”

Fire on The Mountain
Many of the businesses and residences on The Mountain in Canton are gone, but those that live there and city officials agree, it could have been worse.
According to Sammie Frederick, owner of two bed and breakfast establishments on The Mountain, a policeman knocked on her door early Saturday morning, Nov. 9, telling her to “get out of your house, there is a fire.”
“It took me a second to really comprehend what was going on. But then I saw the blaze, and it looked large. So, I ran down the hill knocking on doors waking people up to get everyone to safety,” Frederick said.
A Canton policeman on regular patrol reported the fire at 3:48 a.m. Nov. 9 and started evacuation, according to City Administrator Julie Seymore.
The Mountain is located adjacent to Old Mill Marketplace at 542 E. Dallas St. (Highway 64.)

County voters reject joining water district
Van Zandt County voters have declined the invitation to join the Neches Trinity Valley Groundwater Conservation District by a margin of almost two-to-one.
The question was on the Nov. 5 ballot.
There were 1,077 votes for joining the district, about 39 percent, and 1,728 votes against, about 61 percent..
Early voting totals were 377 for and 487 against.
On election day, 684 voted for and 1,230 against.
The county received 27 mail-in ballots on the issue: 16 for and 11 against.

Former DPD officers remember Kennedy death
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. With the impending anniversary, a group of Dallas Police Department retired officers who were on duty the day of the assassination and for the events that followed, met to discuss their experience.
The stories that circulated among the retirees depicted the assassination from the vantage point of police officers who were part of the DPD and on the frontline Nov. 22, 1963.
More than 50 retired DPD officers met at El Sombrero in Canton for the first annual retired officers meeting. Many of the retired officers now live in and around Van Zandt County and gave a first-hand experience about what it was like to work with the DPD when the nation’s eye was finely tuned-in to the department’s every move.

First Monday building higher than anticipated
Estimates on the cost of building a second city-owned “lock and leave” building on First Monday Trade Days grounds are higher than budgeted.
The city has earmarked $500,000 for the structure. Despite the protests of several vendors and Councilman Shawn Stewart, the council voted at both the September and October meetings to place the building at the row 43A intersection at the opposite end of the current lock and leave building. The building will be the same size as the current facility, 100 X 130.
“The preliminary numbers for the lock-and-leave building we are currently in the process of building came in at approximately $950,000,” City Manager Lonny Cluck said in a memo to councilmember Nov. 5. “ This does not include $55,000 to move the phone line. I went back over the project in hopes of lowering this number. Hopefully, the changes we made will help, but we’re still having to move a phone line, a sewer line, and a water line that were not incurred in the last project.”

Water questions linger as board begins research
What will the water needs of the city of Canton will in 50 years? Will the city grow by hundreds or thousands by the year 2060? Will de-silting the municipal lake be enough or should there be another lake built? Should the city drill another water well? If so, where?
Those were some of the questions before the Canton Water Planning Board Nov. 15.

CISD to leave county
special ed co-op
Canton ISD trustees approved a letter to the Van Zandt County Special Education Cooperative Board stating the district’s “intent to withdraw” from the co-op.
“Canton ISD will withdraw from the Van Zandt county Special Education Cooperative officially on June 30, 2014, pending Texas Education Agency approval,” the letter states.
“It will be better for us and our students if we take on our own education,” Superintendent Jay Tullos said.

First Monday accounts
to get audit
Calling First Monday Trade Days the city’s “goose that lays our golden egg,” Councilwoman Marilyn Burrage asked her fellow councilmembers to agree to an audit of Trades Day accounts.
“We’re running a business with First Monday and we need to be accountable for those monies that come in,” she said.
Burrage said the parking revenue needs to be balanced with receipts and suggested the council “select a group of people to do an audit.”

December

Library donations via water bill OK’d by council
Canton residents will now be able to make donations to the Van Zandt County Library through their water bills. The Canton city council approved the measure at their Nov. 19 meeting.
During its last session, the Texas Legislature passed an act adding libraries to the organizations that can solicit funds through water bills. The donations are voluntary, Friends of the Library President Sarah Norman said.

Texas Supreme Court declines Canton case
What started out as a win-win for both Joe Zoubi and the city of Canton turned into a split decision. Now Zoubi is doing his best to make sure it’s not a loss for both sides.
Zoubi owns and operates Dukes Travel Plaza on Interstate 20. When he started building the facility, it wasn’t in Canton. The property – 9.25 acres – was in Canton’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The Canton Economic Development Corp. approached Zoubi about the possibility of being annexed. Zoubi agreed and, in anticipation of a sewer line being extended to the property, put in a smaller septic tank than he would need to operate showers at the facility.
A change in city leadership brought a delay and Zoubi eventually filed suit against the city. In the meantime, Dukes opened and the sewer line was completed.
Judge Teresa Drum of the 294th District Court ruled in Zoubi’s favor. The city appealed. The case went to mediation. No settlement could be reached, so the case went to the 12th Court of Appeals where the court overturned the lower court ruling.

Motorcycle deaths show need for driver awareness
In the late afternoon of Nov. 29, Canton residents Joe and Darlene Brents, both 70, were traveling southbound on Highway 198 from Highway 243.
Mr. Brents was driving and Mrs. Brents was on the back of the couple’s motorcycle.
McLee Brewer, 93, was traveling north on Highway 198 in a white Dodge pickup. As both vehicles approached Short Street, Brewer “failed to yield and turned in front of the motorcycle,” Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Andrew Faglie said.
Mr. and Mrs. Brents died in the crash.

Weather warnings to be available via CodeRED
Van Zandt County resident will soon be able to get localized weather warnings through the CodeRED service.
The county recently updated its account with Emergency Communications Network, providers of the CodeRED high-speed notification solution, to provide the CodeRED Weather Warning service for the community, said Chuck Allen, county fire marshal and emergency management coordinator.
CodeRED Weather Warning is an opt-in only weather warning product that taps into the National Weather Service’s Storm Based Warnings. CodeRED Weather Warning automatically alerts affected citizens in the path of severe weather just moments after a warning has been issued.

Canton ISD gives Whitton community center
Canton ISD has given the Whitton Commuity Center to the Whitton community.
When schools consolidated into districts, the properties the schools were built on went to the new district, Canton Superintendent Jay Tullos said.
That is what happened with the Whitton facility, he said, however the property was never transferred to CISD’s fixed assets sheet and is not covered under the district’s insurance policy.
“For us, it doesn’t serve any purpose to keep it but it does benefit the community and they use and maintain it,” Tullos said.

The Mountain
zoning changed
The Canton City Council approved the re-zoning of The Mountain last week.
When the area on Highway 64 was annexed into the city in 1998, it was not rezoned, City Manager Lonny Cluck said, and now the proper zoning is required before building permits can be issued.

 

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