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GLADEWATER MAYOR, COUNCILWOMAN DRAW CHALLENGERS

GLADEWATER MAYOR, COUNCILWOMAN DRAW CHALLENGERS

Gladewater businessman Mark Carpenter has filed to run against Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells and Memori Ruesing has filed for the Place 3 council seat and will face incumbent Lana Niemann.

Councilman Leon Watson is unopposed in the May 10 election.

In the Gladewater ISD election, incumbents Jon Keller and David Floyd are unopposed.  

Filing for the May 10 election closed at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28

MAN KILLED IN WRECK DAYS BEFORE WEDDING

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/correspondent

A 27-year-old Gilmer man who was engaged to be married this weekend was killed in a pickup accident early Friday in the city limits of East Mountain, said a spokeswoman for Upshur County Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace W.V. Ray.

Justin Shawn Frost was northbound on Texas Hwy. 300 when his 2008 Dodge Ram truck apparently overturned at the intersection with FM Road 726, ejecting him, said Ray's clerk, Sherry Jewkes-Larsen.

The crash occurred about 3:45 a.m., and Ray pronounced Frost dead at the scene at 4:55 a.m. before ordering an autopsy, Jewkes-Larsen said. The accident site is at the intersection where A.W.'s Country Store was located before burning some time ago.

Frost, a former star pitcher for the Gilmer High School baseball team, is the son of Jan Frost, a secretary in the Upshur County District Attorney's Office.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Sandy Mac Taylor and two deputies from the Upshur County Sheriff's Office investigated the accident, Jewkes-Larsen said. The trooper was not immediately available for comment.

 

PETS NEEDING ADOPTION

READ THIS WEEK'S GLADEWATER MIRROR

Pick up this week's Gladewater Mirror and read how the city council rejected Councilman Scott Owens' attempt to get the voters to decide how GEDCO tax money can be used by placing the issue on the May 10 ballott. Also say goodbye to the Bumpus House, which is being torn down this week. So far the May 10th city and school elections are drawing little interest, as only the incumbents have signed up for re-election. The deadline for filing is this Friday, Feb. 28.

$35M BOND ELECTION CALLED FOR MAY 10

Pick up this week's Gladewater Mirror and find out about the $35 million bond election GISD trustees voted to call on Monday night. Also see what Gladewater City Councilman Scott Owens has to say about thousands of dollars in tax money taken in by GEDCO and how he thinks it could be used to fix potholes and other infrastructure. The Gladewater Police Department's external assessment was released Monday and its findings aren't flattering on the former administration.

CITY COUNCIL REJECTS ORDINANCE CONCERNING GEDCO

Gladewater City Councilman Scott Owens’ attempt Thursday night to redirect some of the tax money collected by the Gladewater Economic Development Corporation (GEDCO) met up against stiff opposition as the council voted 5-2 to reject his bid to place the measure before the voters on the May 10 ballot.
Mayor Harold Wells and council members Leon Watson, Lana Niemann, Sonny Anderson and J.D. Shipp voted to reject the ordinance, while Owens and Delbert Burlison voted no.
A lengthy discussion preceded the vote with Wells telling Owens he was “very unhappy with the way this came about” and he thought it was “totally handled wrong,” referring to Owens having an ordinance drawn up by the city attorney (Gary Shaver) and asking for the ordinance calling for a special election to be on the agenda before discussing it with council members.
Wells indicated he thought Owens had gone behind the council’s back on this issue.
He also said he was “confused” as to Owens’ actions of having the city attorney do city-related work for him personally. He asked – “Me and Leon (Watson) or me and anybody in here can walk into Shaver’s office and say ‘I want this ordinance changed?’”
“To educate you on this, any city council member can bring anything before the council,” Owens explained, adding that the city attorney (Gary Shaver) was not on “city time” when he drew up the ordinance and the city attorney did it for Owens free as a favor since they were old friends.
Todd Clifton, GEDCO board president, questioned what motivated Shaver to provide the free legal work for Owens and (Delbert) Burlison.
Owens said he wanted the voters to decide on whether or not the city could use some of the money which GEDCO - a Type A corporation - gets from a 1/2-cent sales tax for public infrastructure improvements. Those improvements could have included public safety facilities, streets, traffic control, parks and park facilities - which all qualify as a project for a Type B corporation.
Owens said the city has many needs current property taxes can’t address - such as street repair and if the GISD $35 million bond measure passes May 10 and the new Gladewater Middle School is built on the current site of public ball fields – the city may need to build a new sports complex to accommodate the needs of the youth. The school district owns the land where the fields are located, but the city maintains them.
Councilman J.D. Shipp wasn’t totally opposed to Owens’ idea, but he was worried about the “very narrow window” the ordinance before them Thursday night would create as for as educating the council about the pros and cons of such a move. “It’s a bit rushed,” Shipp said, adding he felt there needed to be more communication among council members on such matters.
Clifton said he felt the issue was “very rushed.” Clifton said there had been hints that GEDCO “hasn’t done a good job,” but he thought it had and he added that GEDCO was willing to partner with the city on projects.
Burlison said he didn’t think GEDCO had gotten a good return on its investment – citing that GEDCO had given about $1 million to companies as economic development and only gotten back about $130,000 in tax dollars from those companies.
Clifton told Burlison he thought he was being “that’s very short sided” and Burlison was “not seeing the whole picture.”
Councilwoman Niemann, who also serves on the GEDCO board, said it would be “irresponsible” of the council to put the ordinance on the ballot without being educated and fully informed. She said the council’s main focus should always be to do what is best for the people of Gladewater.
She added that if the city were to look at building a multi-million dollar park/sports complex, it would require much more research and discussion before ever taking such an expensive project to the voters.
GEDCO is currently helping various organizations such as the Gladewater Main Street program, The Gladewater Chamber of Commerce, the Former Student’s Association, Operation Give Gratitude, and the Gladewater Antique District Association with advertising and promotions. GEDCO has also partnered with city organizations on projects that benefit the city of Gladewater, such as helping pay for sidewalk projects and other infrastructure.

Commissioners table " IT" issue

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS

GILMER--Upshur County Commissioners Court on Friday tabled considering proposals for information technology (computer) hardware and/or maintenance, and accepted bids on numerous items for the Road and Bridge Department.

The court opened proposals from five firms on IT support, maintenance and infrastructure, but voted to delay considering them until its next scheduled meeting Feb. 28. "What we're going to do is look through all these," said County Judge Dean Fowler.

With a few exceptions, the court also accepted bids recommended by county Road Administrator Andy Jordan on numerous items for his department, ranging from gasoline and diesel fuel to culverts and various types of pipe.

The court didn't yet act on bids for hot oil dirt and hot oil sand as Jordan had recommended against taking the lowest bid on those items.

He said the firm with the low bid, APAC Texas/Armor Materials, "has a hard time getting us material before 9:30 in the morning," and that if his workers are there at 7:30 a.m., "that's two hours wasted." This has happened, Jordan said, and he also said that firm requires ordering earlier than he can do.

He said he had complained to APAC "numerous times" (and he recommended bids from Wood County Asphalt). But Fowler then told Jordan he must allow the judge to write APAC a letter giving the firm a chance to appear before the court.

In other action Friday, the court approved District Clerk Carolyn Parrott's request to buy three scanners and licenses with funds from her office's Record Archives Fund.

Parrott said the items will be purchased from Tyler Technologies for $17,544. She said she had planned the purchase since 2009 to "help us get all our records scanned," and "we've finally got enough" money collected from filing fees to do it. 

The court also heard Sheriff Anthony Betterton explain his upgrading and replacing of duty weapons and ammunition for his office, which he said would involve "no expense to the taxpayers or the county."

Betterton said the 49 weapons in his office were purchased in 1997 and 1998 when his predecessor, R.D. (Buck) Cross, was sheriff, and that he is upgrading to Glock 9 weapons. Betterton stressed he was trying to leave "a paper trail" of this so there is "never a question" about it as "we can'f find the paper trail" on the weapons bought in the late 1990s.

He said a certain group was willing to buy the county's current ammunition, then give credit for that when his office buys updated ammunition through that group. 

Also Friday, the court accepted for recording numerous documents, including a check and explanation of funds from John M. Clark, Inc., related to the county's "school land" in West Texas. 

Fowler said the check was for a "service agreement" with Clark, and that it and the other recorded documents would be available for public inspection at the County Clerk's Office.

In other business Friday, commissioners:

--Approved paying Sydaptic, Inc. $672 from the Courthouse Security fund for a battery backup which was ordered from the jail control board.

--Approved the Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce's request to hold its April 19 annual Easter Egg hunt on the courthouse lawn at 11 a.m.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka noted during the meeting that with 67 percent of the current 2013-14 fiscal year remaining, the court has 72 percent of its budget unspent, so "we're on track" for a surplus, barring some "catastrophic" event such as expenses for more capital murder trials.