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Thursday, September 4, 1997

Area news roundup

Construction discussed by Baird ISD

BAIRD -- The Baird ISD School Board discussed new construction with citizens Tuesday following a public tour of elementary classrooms and elementary and high school gymnasiums.

About 50 people were in attendance asking questions of the board, superintendent, and an architect. Board members are considering a bond issue to construct 18 new classrooms and renovate the high school gym.

The elementary project is expected to cost about $1.5 million. The high school project carries an estimated $600,000 price tag.

City Council approves 10 percent tax rate increase

BALLINGER -- The Ballinger City Council has approved a 10 percent tax increase for the 1997-98 fiscal year, despite having earlier approved an operating budget which is more than $50,000 lower than 1997's budget.

The new tax rate is 33.9578 cents per $100 valuation, which is about three cents higher than the 1997 rate. The new budget is $2,519,709. Last year's budget was $2,573,325.

City leaders increased the tax rate primarily to generate income that will be lost Oct. 1 when the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program ceases, said Bonita Shields, city secretary.

Brownwood school budget of $23 million OK'd

BROWNWOOD -- Brownwood school trustees approved a $23.4 million budget Tuesday, up $974,115 from last year.

Even so, Brownwood homeowners are expected to save an average of about $79 from last year's tax bill.

The new budget calls for a $1.4962 tax rate, up nine cents. The 6.9 percent increase, however, will not nullify benefits from the state homestead exemption approved by voters in August. The exemption jumped from $5,000 to $15,000.

A Sept. 11 public hearing is scheduled on the proposed tax rate.

The budget for 1997-98 includes an additional $1.25 million for teachers' salaries, due mostly to state-mandated pay raises and the 40-percent increase in minimum wages, Superintendent Don Martin said.

The rest of the budget decreased.

"The large amount (of cuts) has been in maintenance," Martin said. "We've cut (it) practically down to zero in terms of being able to do anything that's very large."

Other cuts are in:

-- Property improvements, $1.49 million.

-- Library services, $9,304.

-- Social services, $43,528.

-- School nurses, $17,426.

-- Food service, $116,521.

-- Extracurricular activity, $51,429.

-- District communication, $2,437.

Eastland chamber leader resigns

EASTLAND -- Lenny Welch, executive director of the Eastland Economic Development Corp. and director of the Eastland Chamber of Commerce, resigned Monday.

Welch had held the post since March 10. It is jointly funded by the chamber and economic boards.

Chamber president Larry Vernon said applications are being accepted to fill the vacancy.

Vernon said Welch had until Sept. 1 to move his family from Early to Eastland but that did not occur. He said Welch's wife teaches school in Brownwood, where their children are enrolled.

Erath budget hearing delayed

STEPHENVILLE -- Erath County commissioners were unable to hold their scheduled public hearing on the proposed budget Wednesday because the salaries of elected officials had not been published 10 days prior to the meeting.

That will delay the hearing until the commissioners' next meeting, Sept. 22.

In an unrelated matter, no action was taken on the disposition of pay that jury members have been donating to the state for assistance to crime victims.

Senate Bill 1886 provides the money can be used locally and County Treasurer Donna Kelly said she had requests for the funds from the Child Welfare Board and the Crisis Center.

Commissioners tabled the request until funding sources for the organizations can be examined.

Comanche nurse fatally struck by pickup

COMANCHE -- A Comanche nurse was killed when a pickup truck struck her while she was walking along Highway 16 in Priddy about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim was identified by the Department of Public Safety as Sherri Phillips, 46, a resident of Priddy.

Phillips was the assistant director of nurses at Western Hills Nursing Home in Comanche.

Her son, Reese Barnett, 11, who was riding a bicycle, was injured and taken to Brownwood Regional Medical Center, according to DPS. A hospital spokeswoman said she could not provide any information on the boy's condition.

DPS identified Gary Horton of Hamilton as the driver of the pickup, a 1996 Dodge.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday in Stacy-Wilkins Funeral Home Chapel in Goldthwaite.

A park is coming to downtown Ranger

RANGER -- The Ranger College Board of Regents has approved converting a downtown parking lot into a park memorializing the Texas Rangers.

The park at Main and Austin streets will be called "Texas Rangers Memorial Park" and will be dedicated to Texas Ranger Zeno Smith, the last of the "black hat" Rangers, said coordinator Linda Wells.

Work will begin Monday with the planting of a pine tree and four red oak trees. Wells asked that the public not use the lot for parking after the weekend. A brick wall holding a replica of the Texas Ranger star is also planned.

Wells said donations are being solicited to purchase materials for a metal table and two benches to be placed in the park. Ranger College welding students will construct the items.

Donations may be sent to Ranger College, Grounds Fund/Downtown Park, Ranger 76470.

Stephenville tax rate levied

STEPHENVILLE -- The Stephenville City Council levied the tax rate for 1997-98 Tuesday night, a slight decrease from the current 43.33 cents per $100 valuation.

The council also approved two ordinances establishing advisory boards for the library and the Senior Citizens Center.

Barbara Terrell, chairman of the nominations committee, said the Library Board has been in existence for several years, but a formal ordinance had never been passed. The Senior Citizens Advisory Board is new.

In other business, the council approved:

n Hiring Gary Traylor & Associates to represent the city in a grant application for funds to upgrade the infrastructure, streets and sewer at the airport site.

n An ordinance restricting parking on Harbin Drive from Washington to the South Loop, plus the adoption of a funding agreement with the state highway department on the Harbin Drive extension.

n Second reading of a proposed franchise for Sprint with the city. The third reading is set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 16.



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