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City Council amends commercial water rates
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
September 21, 2005

The Marlin City Council unanimously approved amending the water rates for commercial customers at their regular meeting on Sept. 13.

The amended rate change is for customers using 500,000 gallons of water or more per month. It will lower the charge per 1,000 gallons over the first 2,000 gallons of water used from $3.22 to $2.57.

"This is because of the Hobby Unit," City Manager Randal Holly said. "If we actually carried the $3.22, it would be an increase of $6000 per month for them."

Council members agreed that it was too much of an increase to demand, and they unanimously approved the rate change.

In other action, the council:

• declared Sept. 30 Marlin Orientation and Assessment Unity day in honor of their 10 year anniversary and partnership with the city of Marlin.

• received a report on the Brushy Creek Project as prepared by city volunteers, Trudie Asbury and Libba Merryman. They found no misappropriation of funds throughout their research into the history of the project, though they discovered no master plans for the project exist, only a conceptual idea.

• ordered an amendment be written by the city manager regarding changing the terms of a Residential Certificate of Occupancy waving the need for an inspection due to a name change when an inspection was already done within a six month time period.

• approved advertising for bids for a construction contract to install large meters within the city’s water distribution system.

• approved the sale of Fire Engine 3 to the Marlin Volunteer Fire Department for $6,000. The volunteers will make necessary repairs on the engine and put a 1,000 gallon tank on it.

• approved the submittal of the Texas Capital Fund Main Street Improvement Grant which, if received, will be used to replace fire hydrants in the Main Street District.

• accepted the resignation of Jeana Tiner as City Secretary.

• scheduled a public hearing on the 2005-2006 budget for Sept. 26 at 5:30 pm.
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Finding hope in the aftermath of tragedy

Nise's Notes
By Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
September 14, 2005

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there has been a call sent out to all Americans to help those affected by the storm. Texas has taken on a majority of those rescued from New Orleans. Government agencies and the military have come in to control the rising anger and fear of those still in the damaged areas, and also to bring them food and aid.

It is through the donations that much of the work has been accomplished. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, past presidents, and other agencies have been collecting money and supplies from those willing to give.

Hundreds and thousands have given their time and opened up their homes and businesses to those left with nothing. Other countries have come to our aid, offering money, food and oil/gasoline.

It is in a time of need that humanity shines the brightest. It is amazing to see people who would normally be "enemies" come together to help each other.

It is inspiring to see someone with "nothing" give what little they have to help someone even worse off than they are.

I firmly believe in the idea that you get back what you give. However, I also know that sometimes giving can be a tall order.

Last Wednesday, I made the trek to San Antonio for the day to attend the "For the Love of Kids and Harleys" annual charity auction. It was with an almost eerie feeling that I rode South on I-35 and saw the signs warning to not take I-10 to Louisiana... once you got to New Orleans, that piece of highway doesn't exist anymore.

San Antonio took in thousands of people from New Orleans, brought in on buses to Kelly USA and other shelters around the city. Whether or not the fundraiser scheduled to be held in the SBC Center had been questionable in the days leading up to the event.

However, just as planned, the concerts and auction were held. Now in its 11th year, the event raises funds for children's charities through the auctioning off of a Harley Davidson. This year, some of the proceeds were earmarked for Hurricane Katrina relief.

In a city that had already taken on people evacuated from the storm damaged Louisiana, my hopes for the charity auction bringing in a lot of money was admittedly somewhat low.
This year's event featured country acts Trick Pony ("Pour Me," "It's a Heartache") and Clint Black ("Killin' Time," "Nothin'' but the Tailights") in concert.

However, the biggest draw was George Strait helping to auction off this year's items: Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 truck, a fly-and-ride Harley-Davidson vacation package to San Jose, Calif., and a custom 2006 Cowboy Edition of a Softail Deluxe model Harley autographed by Strait.
To my amazement, the auction alone raised $131,000. That doesn't count the money raised from private donations and ticket sales.

When asked to give anything — money, goods, etc. - people can so easily say, "No." I don't think anyone would have blamed the people of San Antonio for declining this year to give at this charity auction. They'd already given much in the previous week to hurricane victims. Nonetheless, when a group came asking for funds to help these children's charities and organizations, people once again opened up their hearts and their pocketbooks to help.

Just when we begin to think there is no good left in the world, the world comes to show us we're wrong. People give money until it hurts. They give of their time, even if it is just to let someone cry on their shoulder. They give clothing, food, shelter, a helping hand. There is good in this world, and sometimes it takes a tragedy to see it.

Four years ago on 9/11, we watched the scenes in New York as terrorists struck our country. We all banded together and helped those affected by the events of that morning.

Once again, we are called upon to help our neighbors. Once again, we do so without hesitation. There's inspiration in that; there's inspiration in the resiliency of man. There is inspiration in our unending ability to love and care in a world so torn and filled with distrust and hate.

Some days I just want to give up. There seems to be this need within people to see only the bad and the negative. However, it never fails that I run into someone or something that reminds me there is good in this world.

The despair and helplessness I felt in the wake of Katrina has been replaced with awe and pride in humanity. And maybe — to those looking for a reason why things happen — maybe that's why bad things do happen. To help us remember and see the good that comes in the wake of it.

I've watched this outpouring of help; I watched the continued outpouring of help for other things besides Katrina victims. I now feel a lot of hope for this world; thanks to everyone who has given and who continues to give.

Thank you for making this world a better place — one minute, one project, one dollar at a time.
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Contreras gets two life sentences
By Denise Schoppe
Special to The Herald

The Cameron Herald
September 08, 2005

A Hearne man, who plead guilty to two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder of a Minerva family, was sentenced to two life sentences and 20 years in prison when the 20th District Court convened Tuesday.

District Judge Ed Magre accepted a plea agreement from Ben Contreras, 42, who was indicted on April 21 by a Milam County grand jury on capital murder, attempted murder and the alternative charge of two counts of first degree murder.

Contreras plead guilty to two counts of first degree murder and one count second-degree attempted murder. In addition to two life sentences and 20 years confinement with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he was ordered to pay a total of $27,250 in restitution.

The indictment and sentencing stems from a standoff with authorities at a Minerva residence in which Stephanie Young, Contreras' estranged girlfriend, was found beaten and stabbed to death. Young's mother, Gail Solomon, sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and arm, and Young's stepfather, Preston Solomon, died at Scott & White Hospital on March 9 from injuries sustained in an altercation with Contreras preceding the standoff.

"This has left big holes in my heart and in my family that can not be repaired or replaced," Gail Solomon said at the sentencing hearing.

Mr. Solomon was discovered by a motorist on County Loop 232 who called 911 at 6:48 p.m. on Feb. 1. According to law enforcement reports, he had been beaten with a three-pound sledgehammer.

While investigating what had happened to Mr. Solomon, the sheriff's department was alerted to a possible shooting in Minerva in which Contreras held Young and her three children, ages 2, 4, and 6, hostage in their family mobile home.

Gail Solomon sustained a gunshot wound to the chest and another in the arm while fleeing her home to escape Contreras.

Following an hour-long standoff with authorities, Milam County Sheriff Charles West and members of Contreras' family managed to talk him into surrendering. He was arrested, and authorities found Young's body in the mobile home. The children had been locked in a bathroom of the home and were not injured.

An investigation into the night's events revealed that Mr. Solomon was giving Contreras a ride to meet with family members when the first attack occurred. Contreras returned to the mobile home in Mr. Solomon's car. After an altercation with Contreras in which she was shot, Gail Solomon escaped to call authorities from another family member's mobile home and alert them of the situation.

She said she has been left trying to answer her grandchildren's questions about the whereabouts of their mother and grandfather. She said she and her family would attend any parole hearing held for Contreras to see to it he not be released.

Contreras was remanded to the Milam County Sheriff's Department following the sentencing.
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A time for mourning in wake of 'our tsunami'

Nise's Notes
By Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
September 07, 2005

For weeks, the news has been saturated with reports of Cindy Sheehan's protest in Crawford. Her requests to see the President soon became a rally cry as many flocked to the small town to both support her cause as well as to give a rebuttal. I feared an old fashioned shoot out would spawn from the two camps as Crawford Police and McLennan County Sheriff's Department attempted to keep things as peaceful as possible.

As all eyes were on the small Central Texas town and one mother's cause, as everyone took one side of the issue or the other, the making of disaster were building in the warm waters near Florida.

In what seemed to be only an instant, all eyes turned from Cindy Sheehan to Hurricane Katrina. The high winds and torrential downpours of this lady spoke louder than the speeches and chants of Camp Casey.

The world watched as Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana, and it was as if everyone held their breath waiting to see just how bad the damage would be once she cleared out of the way.

"It was like our tsunami," Vincent Creel, a spokesman for the Mississippi Gulf Coast city of Biloxi, was reported to have said in the wake of the storm.

Similar to the aftermath of last December's Asian tsunami disaster, families and friends hope and pray that their family members are not among the ever-rising death toll. Lives lost to the storm surges that turned cities and neighborhoods into lakes.

The strength of nature has spoken once again, showing us that man can not stand up to natural forces greater than himself.

I think that everyone is feeling a deep remorse for the lives lost to this storm. While I did not personally know anyone in the area hit hardest, I watched the coverage on the TV and kept up with updated reports on the internet. Through those images, I've felt a sense of loss and sadness. The images show an area that brings about a feeling of almost hopelessness as families find their homes and businesses simply gone.

Thousands have flocked to neighboring states looking for a safe haven. A wave of survivors have come to Texas, and they have made their way up into Central Texas looking for any help they can find. Families have been split apart; lives completely left sitting with nothing but the clothes on their back.

What happened last week has affected everyone — even here. Between trying to offer aid to victims, giving homes to pets left owner-less, and the rising cost of gas, no one is going unaffected by the storm. Whether anyone really realizes it, the storm may have hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but its causing a domino effect into the rest of the nation. It's not just over there, its right here, too.

We all mourn the loss of life, the change in our own everyday lives, and the loss of a sense of laid-back attitude "The Big Easy" could instill in almost all Americans — whether you'd been there or not.

Much like something that happened "over there" affects us right here, so to has the death of a colleague affected us here at The Democrat.

Marlinites have seen some of his work as he's provided us here at The Democratphotography from UIL events and the occasional article.

Mr. Mike Peck was a long-time employee of our sister-newspaper, The Cameron Herald. He passed away this last Tuesday after having suffered multiple strokes. He was only 48 years old.

An eye for a good picture, his photography could easily have been by some of the highest paid Associate Press reporters in the field of journalism. If that wasn't enough, he was a wonderful writer as well.

Had he ever chosen to leave Cameron and pursue his career elsewhere, I don't doubt he'd have possibly been right in the thick of this current hurricane footage. He had no trouble going from one extreme to the next in his photography and stories. However, he opted to stay in his hometown and report the news there... a feat that I'm not sure many journalists would ever attempt. However, he did it with a sense of professionalism mixed with a healthy dose of camaraderie.

Having grown up in Cameron, Mike is a staple image in my mind growing up. He was always there when anything was going on to take pictures. He always seemed to miraculously know where to be and when. From the time I was a Kindergartner, through my High School graduation, and most recently at my nephew's Little League baseball game, I could always depend on Mike being around with a camera around his neck. He and his wife, Kim, never had children of their own, but I think that in some way... every child who attended school there became his own. He took that level of care in every photograph ever taken.

I have always admired him and his work, and I couldn't help but feel a little honored to come to work for a newspaper affiliated with the one he worked. He had an eye for a photo, a nose for a news story, and a presence every respected and admired. He was a rare and genuine talent that will be missed.

Every day lives are lost — be it natural causes or tragedy — and we mourn our loss. Right now almost everyone is in a stage of confusion, fear and sadness; however, as time passes the wounds will heal. We will all move on with our lives, but we will also never forget. Hopefully, within our memories we also find strength — strength to face yet another day and not fear the unknown challenges ahead of us.
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Council accepts Holescher resignation; City Fire department moves forward
By Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
September 07, 2005

The Marlin City Council unanimously voted on Monday, August 29, to accept the resignation of Tony Hoelscher as Marlin Fire Chief effective immediately.

Following an executive session, the council voted to pay Hoelscher the balance of two weeks notice of employment plus all legal benefits, however his employment with the city would end immediately.

After approximately four years of service to Marlin, Hoelscher tendered his letter of resignation two weeks ago citing lack of cooperation, double standards and harassment from the city manager's office for his decision to leave. He served as Fire Chief, Fire Marshall, Fire Inspector, Safety Director, Emergency Management Coordinator and Homeland Security Director for the city.

Hoelscher was not present at the meeting, however with his letter of resignation he submitted a listing of things accomplished in his years with the city.

Among his many accomplishments, Hoelscher corrected 68 violations from the State Fire Commission, raised the moral of the fire personnel through arranging vacations and holiday time as well as through cutting overtime and correcting disparity over work/pay time, raised over $120,000 through donations, grants and fire recovery for the station, and in his time at the station there were no fatalities.

City Manager Randall Holly praised Hoelscher for straightening up the fire department, but said there has come to be a difference of opinion on how things should be handled.

Following the council vote, Council member Elizabeth Nelson acknowledged the work the fire department does and conveyed her confidence that their success would continue.

"We have confidence in the firemen... and I know that they will continue to do a good job and work with the volunteers and be a top-notch fire department," she said.

Following the resignation of Hoelscher as fire chief, Holly said that the Assistant Chief, Sam Morgan, has taken over duties as head of the department.

"We are currently [searching for a new chief], but Sam has stated he does not want to be considered for the position and stay in the capacity as chief permanently," Holly said.

Both Station 1 and Station 2 have remained open and they will continue to do so as possible.

"Citizens should see activity at both stations always," Holly said. "The only deviation is if we lose one of our seasoned firefighters and we have a trainee on duty. They can not be left at the station alone. In a situation such as that, only one station will be open and the men on duty will alternate between the two stations."

Holly explained that at full capacity, three men will be on duty at all times. At that time, two men will be at one station, while one mans the other. In a case in which there are only two men on duty, if both are seasoned firefighters, both stations will still be open with one man at each. However, if one of the men on duty is a trainee, then one station will be closed and both will be at the other station.

The smaller fire department staff is a result of the city's recent reorganization efforts to save money. The department was lowered in size with the understanding that the Marlin Volunteer Fire Department will be relied on during emergencies, creating a joint effort between the two departments.

On Thursday, Sept. 1, the paid fire department and volunteer department had their first joint training session to begin putting the new system into effect. The two departments, along with city council members and other city officials, met at the Marlin Volunteer Fire Department to begin getting acquainted with the equipment each department will provide during emergencies.

Further training sessions will be held to ensure that all members of the departments are prepared to work together quickly and efficiently in an emergency.
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Falls on the Brazos grant money arriving soon to develop park
By Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
September 07, 2005

Money from a recent grant to Falls on the Brazos Park II is expected to arrive in the next 30 days when the contract for the grant arrives, according County Judge Tom Sehon, who was instrumental in procuring the grant.

The $50,000 grant, which will be used to further develop 22.5-acres of the Falls on the Brazos Park, was approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission during its August 25 meeting.

The Falls County project came in fifth out of 35 grant applications for this year's funding of recreational opportunities and park facilities throughout the state.

"I deserve the least amount of credit for this," Sehon said. "Others that were instrumental in this were the four county commissioners who agreed to seek the grant. Jesse Moreno did work in burying overhead lines in the park, which was a condition of the grant application. Bill Dugger, a sergeant at the Hobby unit was a tremendous help to us for years of organizing the female inmates to maintain the park. Sebastian and Associates are among the best grant writers in the state."

All the hard work paid off to receive the grant, but now that the money has been awarded, there is a lot of work to do. However the grant is a three-year grant, which means all the work on the park does not have to be completed right away.

A stipulation of the grant is to provide matching funds. These will come in the form of in-kind work by inmates of the Hobby Unit, a pedestrian bridge and a bird watching platform that will be advertised.

"We have a nice and varied selection of birds to attract bird watchers across the state," Sehon said. "We want to make our park one of the jewels of Falls County and celebrate its historical significance."
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Citizens Bank to help City through tough times
By Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
September 07, 2005

A loan of $333,000 was unanimously approved by the Marlin City Council on Aug. 29, when they met for a special session.

Due to a conflict of interest, Mayor Norman Erskine stepped down from his seat during the discussion and voting on the loan being made through Citizen's State Bank, where he is a part-time employee.

The money borrowed will be used towards the payment of bills for July and to reimburse money taken from the water rehab fund.

City Manager Randall Holly urged the council to approve making the loan to help the city through the current lack of funds to pay bills. He stated he felt current revenues coming into the city would make it possible to handled their obligations in the future.

"Every month we are making progress," Holly said. "I feel confident we will be able to pay our bills."

The loan is for five years at a 6.5% interest rate and is expected to take a week to ten days to be received.

Land owned by the city will be used as collateral for the loan.

"I intend to use the least likely land to be sold," Holly said. "I will try not to use any of the industrial park land, though it is attractive and worth a lot."

The city will make payments on the loan quarterly to ensure it can be paid and is not forgotten about.
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Cleaning out the clutter

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
August 31, 2005

I’m a packrat, and I admit it. I have a lot of STUFF in boxes all over the place, and I’ve recently began a massive project of going through all the boxes with the hopes of throwing things out.
I’m not doing too bad, as bag count has now hit around seven in this on-going project. Five of those bags were thrown out this last weekend.

Is there really any reason to still have a dress code for the school district I attended from 1987? What about a coupon for a free pizza that expired in 1998?

I have no idea how all of this stuff has accumulated over the last 25 years, but it has. My need to save everything under the sun is quickly going out the door along with a receipt for CDs purchased back in 1995.

Throughout this process, I’ve found a lot of things I’d thought had been long ago lost. I’ve also found things I wished had stayed missing. However, if nothing else, this has taught me that there is indeed a point in which you have to close your eyes and just let things ago. There is a time to say “No” to various novelty items.

I have borrowed a shredder from my parents, and with it I have been able to destroy old receipts and statements that should have been gotten rid of a long time ago. At the same time, I’ve created a filing system for important documents that I need to hang on to for awhile.

Being a packrat has meant living with things in piles here and there. There have been boxes with more stuff inside.

This is an on-going project, so boxes do still exist that will be eliminated through time. However, I can now see more of my bedroom floor than I’ve seen in a very long time.

It feels good to accomplish a project as massive as a complete overhaul and removal of junk. Few will ever see or know of what all I’ve done, but I know. I know that I’ve gotten rid of old worksheets from school, receipts that date back to the late ‘90s, and my magazine collection has dwindled considerably. It’s as if I’m letting the past go and moving towards the future. I’m making room for what is to come.

I doubt I’ll ever fully get rid of my packrat tendencies. Afterall, I have held on to a few old term papers, and I have concert ticket stubbs that go back to high school days. However, I’m realizing that I don’t have to keep every credit card offer I receive, and when a sale is no longer in effect, the advertisement can be thrown out.

All saving those things does is weigh everything down, and I want to live a little lighter and be ready to take each step in life as they come to me.
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There are planners and there are doers...

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
August 24, 2005

There are those that like to plan things in advance, and there are those that work completely spur of the moment. I suppose everyone really combination of the two, but generally one leans more in one direction than the other.

I’m a planner. I like to have a good idea of what I’m getting into before I do something.

When I take a trip, I will be that person with maps printed to every destination, confirmation numbers on hotel rooms written down, and receipts saved for every detail. There will be a fresh manila folder on the front seat within arms reach with every step of the trip detailed and in order. I think if I could plan for reststops, I would.

I like to know what is going on in advance. I want to be prepared for every possibility from rain to heat to mudslide to blizzard.

When I am going to write a story, I like to try to research whatever I can research ahead of time. The Google search engine on the internet is one of my best friends. It lets me seek out information on almost any topic within moments, so I feel more prepared for whatever I am headed into next. I always say I like to dot on my ‘T’s and cross all my ‘I’s before I make my move.

However, even as a planner, I try to be prepared for countless possibilities and finding out which one comes to fruition is interesting and totally unknown beforehand. It is spur-of-the-moment, okayletsgorightnow.

I have to be flexible in my rigid need-to-know-way. I’m in a career that doesn’t allow for planning ahead of time. I know that I have meetings to attend, and there are the pre-scheduled photographs. Those fit my “need-to-know-what-is-going-on” side. However, on any given day, I am unsure of what I will face. That is evidenced when I find myself walking through tall grass in high heels, or I’m trying to find a way to dress up blue jeans and a casual shirt.

That not-knowing adds an element of fun and excitement to life. Sometimes its really nice to be surprised by the day, or to go without a real plan. Don’t take time to talk yourself out of doing something by preparing for the worst, when chances are it is going to be the best thing to do.

There has to be a balance between planned and unplanned, just as there is a mixture of people who live by a plan and people who don’t.

Live too tightly to one extreme or the other, life passes by you. Plan too much, you forget to just go and do. Do too much, you forget important, small details that get lost in the shuffle.

I’m a planner, and I admit it. I easily get sucked into finding out every detail that I forget to just live and let it all happen. I sometimes get too worked up when something comes at me out of nowhere when instead I should just go with the flow.

However, I just can’t help my need to know what is going to happen ahead of time. That’s not a bad thing, its just not good to get too caught up in that attitude.
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College students navigate a maze of offers

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
August 17, 2005

Public schools are gearing up for another school year. Many will start this week; some start next week. Colleges and universities have a little more time before classes resume for the fall semester.

However, students are already slowly migrating back to their second homes of dormitories, apartments, duplexes, etc. There are back to school parties to hold and attend, and there are many tasks that have to be done before classes start. Student IDs will be needed, classes need to be paid for, and books should be looked into being purchased.

I remember going up to school a few days before classes started, and then the whole first week of classes. There were tables upon tables set up for organizations to join. Right along side those organizations, camped outside every parking garage, and on every major intersection on campus there were three types of "vultures."

First came the big city newspaper subscriptions. "Come subscribe to our paper and we will give you a special lower rate for students. All we need is an address and money!"

Uh huh. Both times I never got a single newspaper delivered to me. There was always some excuse why they couldn’t send them to me, and yet they always kept my money.

Beside them sat the cellular phone companies. "Everyone needs a cell phone! Just come talk to me and I’ll give you this handy-dandy flashlight!" Even if you walked by talking on a phone, they would stop you and try to get you to switch to their service. I really wish I were kidding.

Right beside the cellular phone company was the credit card offer. (These guys even showed up to football games and stalked people at the concession stands!) Now, not many college students can resist the lure of their own plastic with their own name on it. There was the free t-shirt just for applying, but really it is about the lure of "free money."

Just like the cell phone, everyone needs a credit card, right? For in an emergency.
Soon that plastic starts to burn a hole in the student’s wallet. Concert tickets, CDs, a meal at McDonalds. Before long, that emergency credit card is maxed out... and along comes another semester and another t-shirt.

It’s a trap that so many fall into as they enter college. Not only do they leave after four years of schooling with a diploma, they also leave with thousands of dollars of debt and no way out.

It’s a common problem and very hard one to avoid. Yes, there are those students who do indeed keep the card for emergency purposes only. There are those that turn them down completely! However, a good portion of today’s college graduates are left with not only student loans to pay off after college, but also credit card debt. Some end up even filing bankruptcy in their 20s, an action that has irrevocable consequences for years down the road.

As college students head back to their schools, they will face the gauntlet of credit card offers, subscriptions, cell phone offers and any number of other things taylor-made for the young and ambitious. Their first exams come in that first week as their will power is put the test. Hopefully they can hold out against those "good deals" because they’ll be better off in the long run.
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Vandals hit BTW center
by Denise Schoppe
Staff writer

The Marlin Democrat
August 17, 2005

"This does not belong to the board, it belongs to the community. Damage it and you set yourself back," Lear Alford, Chairman of Publicity for the Booker T. Washington (BTW) Resource Center Board, said after discovering vandalism had occurred at the old BTW school two weeks ago.

"This building belongs to the community," Alford said. "We are just fixing it up for [everyone]. Those that did this, did this to their own property."

Members of the BTW Resource Center Board have been working to remodel and renovate the old school on Commerce Street to turn it into a resource center for the entire community. Work had been completed in one of the buildings, except for putting in the bathroom, and work was on-going in another.

Two weeks ago, vandals struck, setting the board behind in their progress to renovate the buildings.

"We had just finished all the electrical work which cost hundreds of dollars. Now, it all has to be redone," Shirley Masters, President of the Board, said. "They wasted the paint and it will have to be cleaned up."

The vandals entered the buildings by breaking windows. Inside, paint had been strewn onto the walls and poured onto the floor. In a bathroom, barefoot prints show on the tile floor. Desks and chairs were tossed about, and florescent light bulbs had been broken and left strewn on the floor. The empty box of an air rifle lay in the middle of a floor, and a target with dents from the pellets was tacked to a wall.

"It is just a few causing problems," Alford said. "Many want to see this center become a reality."

Built in 1951, Masters called the building a heritage.

"Think of all the people who came out of this school," Master said. "Doctors. Lawyers. Some went into professional football. We want this building's heritage, and the programs we run here. let the children know they can be somebody."

The ultimate goal for the buildings and six and a half acres of land they sit on is to become a resource center for everyone in the community, no matter their age, race or gender. The BTW board plans for the center to provide programs such as youth recreational activities, after-school tutoring, college preparation classes and financial literacy classes. They want to have a park for children to play and a track for people to come out and exercise.

The Resource Center dates back to 1970, when Lucille Hampton started "The Parent Child Center" located in the annex building of BTW High School. The program that was designed to help at-risk youth in the community remained active for 25 years until it ended due to federal funding cuts. Then in 2003, Hampton and a group of citizens purchased the BTW High School building from the Marlin Independent School District and have since offered many community programs.

The BTW Resource Center already hosts pee wee football, 'Lil Dribblers basketball and young men's basketball. The center also offers College of Life Skills classes.

"We want to get positive things going," Masters said. "Here we have qualified tutors helping students learn and complete their assignments. When you accomplish something yourself, it means more."

However, needs for building repairs recently forced the classes to move when the roof leaked, and the recent vandalism has set the board back in their efforts to renovate the facilities.
Renovations are being done in a four phase process. Phase one, restoring the metal portable building, was almost complete when the vandalism occurred.

"We need the community's help to get this project completed," Masters said. "We need to come together as a unit. Help can come through labor, financial donations, maintenance or even just volunteers as a neighborhood watch."

The board is asking for help finding out who did the vandalism.

"Please contact the police with any information you have regarding what happened. It can be done anonymously," Alford said. "They need to know that what they did is wrong."

The board is now forced to stay on phase one of the restoration project. Phase two will be to restore the gym. Phase three is to restore the brick annex building, and the final phase is to restore the main building. With each completed phase, new programs will be added to the center.

"Only a few are causing problems," Masters said. "We are seeking the community's help to get the project completed. We have children walking the streets. We have the resources here to offer them somewhere to go, but no one wants to help. If we all unite as one, we can get this done and have a place for the City of Marlin to be proud of."

The board is in the process of obtaining grants for the project. They have turned to Prairie View A&M and Health Services for help searching for money. Anyone wishing to donate money or time should contact Shirley Masters at 254-803-3058 or 254-803-2255.

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism at BTW Resource Center, should contact Marlin Police Department at 254-229-9255.
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School supplies bring out the kid in all

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
August 10, 2005

The return of school age children to the classroom recently sparked a discussion between myself and several friends. Everywhere we look there are back-to-school specials at the stores, and the school supplieshave taken a featured location in places such as Wal-Mart, Target and office supply stores.

There are several 20-something-year-olds that agree that new school supplies ranks right up there with birthday parties, recess and the latest cartoon craze. None of us can help feeling like a kid when faced with certain items synonymous with school days.

New school supplies always made going back to school fun. Freshly sharpened pencils, that box of crayons, notebook paper, spirals, folders, scissors, glue. All the school-year essentials stuffed into a backpack with the boxes of Kleenex tissue.

I remember getting all my new supplies and having them waiting for that first day of school. They'd practically taunt me, tempting me to try them out.

I'll just write my name on one sheet of paper. Oh look, a place for owner information. I should fill that in ahead of time. Maybe I need to make sure everything fits in my school box and/or pencil case. What is the best way to put things in my bag? Maybe I should make sure none of the items are torn or something.

School supplies. Who knew school supplies could be so much fun?

School supplies were always something that you wanted to make sure to fit in with your peers. If everyone had a certain brand of notebook, you wanted to have that same notebook. This was important business.

I remember some of the most unique items that came and went through my school years. There were zipper binders, gel pens and liquid filled highlighters. There was the Squiggle Wiggle writer, 3-D effect binders and pens with multiple colored ink.

When one person showed up with a new item, everyone else had to have it.

That first day of school was as much a chance to finally use your own supplies as it was to scope out everyone else's. For even as it was important to fit in with classmates by having the same brands, supplies gave a chance to make yourself an individual.

I remember countless folders with their own pizzazz. Spirals always seemed to have some interesting design on them. Pens, pencils, and even notebook paper found its way into being unique for the individual. Sometimes, it was important to not be just like everyone else. It was a mild way to dare to be different.

Today I read over school supply lists, and I am surprised by how much things have changed in the years since I was in grade school. Yet at the same time, its comforting to see various supplies have remained the same. Number 2 pencils, crayons and Fiskar scissors. Folders (with pockets and brads... which the later you start shopping the more those become like trying to find the lost city of Atlantis), notebook paper and spirals.

However, as an adult, I now understand why certain requests for supplies were denied. Things get expensive, and money is tight for almost everyone these days.

While many school supplies are "must haves" they also are "can't affords." It takes some of the fun out of supply shopping. It adds yet one more challenge to the ordeal. As if fighting hundreds of other parents and trying to figure out just how big a "medium size pencil bag" is so your child is in compliance with what the teacher has asked they bring.

It's a challenge for adults, but its also like Christmas to children. Sometimes new supplies are incentive to get a child to go to school that first day. It's a chance to show off to their peers their new "toys." It's a chance to fit in while being an individual.
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School supply drive project underway by Marlin Police
By Denise Schoppe
Staff writer

The Marlin Democrat
August 10, 2005

Marlin Animal Control Officer Cecil Sparks has made it his project to collect school supplies for needy children. Sparks and members of the Marlin Police Department were at the Marlin Wal-Mart on Friday, Aug. 5, collecting supplies from store patrons.

“I spoke to John [Desmuke, store manager] about setting up out here today. We’re just trying to help out students that won’t be able to get all their supplies for the new school year,” Sparks said.

Police officers and Fire Department personnel all gave to the cause even as they collected supplies from others.

“All the officers have come in and given from their own pockets,” Police Chief Kerry Blakemore said. “Everyone complains about the schools here in Marlin. Here is everyone’s chance to help out our students.”

Sparks will be collecting supplies throughout the school year to help keep the students replenished. Anyone wishing to donate at anytime should go by the Marlin Police Department and leave supplies or donations towards supplies for the Animal Control Office.

“I want to help out the community,” Sparks said. “Citizens are helping me to raise funds for the new animal shelter, and this is a way for me to give back.”
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Music downloading illegal but common

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
August 3, 2005

I have a confession to make.

I have downloaded music. Downloaded music that the courts now tell me is illegal to do. I confess that I've done it, and I confess that I didn't really feel bad about it.

In college, I took courses on media law. We studied copyrights and how intangible objects — such as music — can be stolen. We studied the laws, and yet I am certain that atleast 90% of my media law class had music downloaded off of programs such as Napster (back before Napster was turned into a pay-only program.)

As someone who has an interest in the music industry and how it all works, I find myself curious about the "stealing" of music.

Now, I may have downloaded music to listen to, but I also have over 200 CDs in my collection. Call me a music junkie, if you wish. When a CD comes out that I want, I purchase it. I want to support my favorite artists, and you really can't beat the quality of the real thing.

When downloading music, you run the risk of so many things. You run the risk of downloading a song that is named incorrectly. You're shooting for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and instead get "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." File quality is not guaranteed. Pops, gaps or just low-quality mono sounds are all dangers of file sharing. These are problems you do not have when you buy a CD.

Viruses attached to the files, opening your computer up to others to poke around in there, and jail time or atleast hefty fines are also risks of downloading music. It could end up costing the downloader far more the download a "free" song than it would have to just go buy the album.

Nonetheless, thousands still staunchy go out and download free music. It's a lot like gambling, I suppose.

My opinion of music downloading is not fully formulated. I've done it myself, and as a result I see the draw and the merits of doing it.

I've discovered so many groups that I'd have never known about if not for music downloading. One group I discovered, I ended up running out and purchasing all three of their albums that had already been released. I've searched out old songs that are hard to find on CD today. At a concert I attended, the lead singer of the group encouraged everyone in the audience to go out and download their music because, "It means you're listening to us and having a good time. And that's why we do what we do."

So on one hand, I stand firmly on the side of the downloaders. However, on the other side, I stand beside those crying foul.

It costs a lot of money to produce even one song, and the music industry depends on fans to purchase albums and go see concerts to pay for those production costs. Getting a song for free puts a heavy burden on the record labels. Money lost means having to cut some of their artists and groups to survive. Which in the end only hurts the fans.

I also see how the music is their product. Seemingly intangible, it is their product that they produce to the masses. Getting it for free is indeed stealing, even if there are thousands more copies of the same product floating around.

It seems every day there is a new article about illegal file sharing and music downloading. Everyone is getting in on the paid-downloading... even McDonalds has offered music downloads. Albums now come with copyright protection to stop - or atleast slow - file sharing capabilities.

It's a war going on between consumers and producers of music. It is one that is gong to end up costing thousands of people a lot of money... all for the need of hearing a piece of music for free.
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Warrant nets guns, drugs
by Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
August 3, 2005

The Marlin Police Department, in conjunction with the district attorney's office, made two arrests and confiscated an assortment of guns and powder cocaine on Tuesday, June 16.

At 7:50 pm, 10 Marlin Police officers and the district attorneys office served a search warrant for narcotics to 321 Durr Street. Brian McCraw, 29, street name "Half Breed", was arrested for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance. He also had a warrant out or his arrest for probation violation.

Also arrested was Aaron Shelley, 40, who was in the front yard at the time of the search. He was arrested for possession of crack cocaine and marijuana.

In the search of the house, the officers recovered eight guns of different sizes and calibers, as well as an ounce and a half of powder cocaine and scales.

"That amount of powder cocaine would yield approximately 8 - 10 ounces of crack cocaine," Marlin police officer Wesley Kingsley said.

Police Chief Kerry Blakemore explained that the warrant was issued after investigations by the police department as well as district attorney investigators.

"i know a lot of people think we aren't working the drugs in this town," Blakemore said. "We are, but we have to investigate first which takes time."

Blake more said the department plans on "opening eyes in Marlin."

"We're going to keep working on the problem," Blakemore said. "Those that doubt that we are doing anything will be surprised."
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The highways become race tracks

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
July 27, 2005

I drive 40 miles one-way to get to work every day. I then turn around and drive 40 miles back home. I enjoy driving. It relaxes me, and it gives me time to think. It's a pleasure. Most of the time.

I will never claim to be the best driver in the world. I know I drive too fast, I make mistakes, and I do get distracted behind the wheel. I've totalled one truck due to not being able to regain control in a spin on wet roads, and I refuse to even attempt driving in icey weather. I can be aggressive in my technique, and I can be laid back. I make my mistakes.

However, in that, I do try to drive defensively. I try to remain aware of those around me. If someone behind me wants around, I'll move to the shoulder to let them pass. I'd rather have them around and long gone than stuck to my bumper. Besides, they may have somewhere far more important to be.

I generally hug the outside line to give on-coming traffic a cushion, especially when a car is passing another one that is on the shoulder of the highway. When someone lets me pass, I try to remember to acknowledge my appreciation.

I don't like being in someone's blind spot, nor do I like someone in mine. I don't like being left on the shoulder of the road when I let someone pass, therefore I try to get around as quickly as possible so they can get back on the highway.

I've been in many states, and I've come to the conclusion that driving on Texas roads is like playing Russian Roulette. The difference in driving styles is so dramatic that even as you cross that line between Texas and any of its surrounding states. It's as if hitting that line is a starting point. Speeds rise, chances taken become more dramatic, and blood pressure elevates.

On a drive to work last week, I had an incident that left me shaking out of fear as well as frustration. I will never understand the logic of the woman in her maroon sedan.

As I left Cameron to head to Marlin, I ended up at the end of a line of three cars. Needing to get to work, I itched to get around the vehicles in front of me that were staunchly sitting at a lower speed.

The truck in front of me eventually let me pass him, as oncoming traffic was regular and intervals not long enough to get around. I sped up to get behind the maroon car in hopes that the driver might do the same, but also in preparation to pass. One on-coming car stood between me and my ability to pass on a long straight-away.

I watched as the woman started crossing the yellow line to make it clear she had no intentions of letting me pass. Undeterred, I stood my ground until she started hitting her breaks!

Now, only once before have I had the problem of someone “brake-checking” me with the obvious hope of my rear-ending them. That time had shaken me to the point I wouldn't drive for the rest of the day. This time, I was irritated.

To pull that stunt to her degree is dangerous. Tap the break to show you don't like how close a person is gets the message across. But to slam the breaks that hard is just dangerous, considering there is a third vehicle behind me and an oncoming car.

By this time, I had my blinker on to pass already, and I was holding on the the steering wheel with both hands in a tight grip hoping to not lose control as I tried not to hit her mid-break-slam.

The on-coming car passes, and I pull out to go around.

They speed up! I eyed the road in front of me, and I saw a car waiting to pull out. I hoped they weren't planning to pull out and come towards us. I continued to pass, and she continued to speed up. The car on the side of the road pulled out in my direction. Luckily, they saw the situation and pull to the shoulder. Undetered by the new conditions ahead of us, the woman continued to speed up as I'm passing.

I knew I had two options, continue passing, or see if I can get back behind her. However, all I wanted was to no longer be behind her and dealing with her erratic driving style. So I continued passing.

As I was side-by-side, I glance at the car's driver and see I'm passing a woman in her, I'd estimate, late-30s with a smug look on her face. Going faster than I'm really comfortable with, I'm irritated and getting scared.

Thankfully, she either backed off or my truck gave one last push, because I was finally around her. As my truck slowed, I was shaking almost uncontrollably. I glanced in my rear-view mirror, and noticed the truck that had let me pass was now attempting to pass the car as well. (Brave soul!)

I shook my head in wonder. The logic of refusing to let someone pass. Was she hoping she'd “save me” by refusing to let me go faster than what she felt I needed to go? Was she on a power trip knowing she had people held up someone that needed/wanted to go quicker? Did she not realize that in some cities, a stunt like that would end up in road rage and shots being fired?

Be aware of those around you. Thank heavens the car that pulled out was aware and gave room, though they shouldn't have had to. There had originally been plenty of room for me to get around the car before we got near that road. Yet the woman sped up, and I was having to fight to get around.

I'm not the greatest driver in the world. I'm sure I've angered my share of fellow drivers, and I'm sure it'll happen again. But it's never intentional as this woman had done. She clearly had it in her head that her crossing the yellow line, slamming her breaks, and then speeding up while being passed was the right thing to do.

To the woman in the maroon sedan, I'm sorry if my wanting to get around you upset you. I'm sorry that I came up behind you closer than you were comfortable with. I'm sorry I had the audacity to actually want to pass you.

However, be careful in pulling stunts as you did. You're going to get someone killed...
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Sand in an hour glass...

Nise's Notes
by Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
July 20, 2005

Time, I've decided, is a relative thing. It is relative to what is going on around a person. This is a pet theory I play with out of humor.

The old adage that, "Time flies when you're having fun" is all-too-true. It seems as if in a blink of an eye, hours have passed and you're left wondering where all the time went. Similarly, though, when you're left with nothing to do, time seems to elongate. Minutes feel like hours. Hours feel like days.

It all has to do with the perception you have about what you are doing at any given moment.

I've decided that time balances out by giving us equal amounts of instances when "time flies" as to when time seems to slow to a crawl. It's balanced within our individual lives as well as within the everyday world. I'm having a long day at the same time someone else has a day that goes too quick. Therefore, time stays steady across the globe.

Do I have any scientific basis for this theory? No, I don't, and nor do I take it seriously myself.

However, I decided to take my curiosity to the internet and all the brilliant people that hang out on that world wide web. Surely someone else has had the same theory at some point.
As a child we all learn in school that a minute is comprised of 60 seconds. An hour is made of 60 minutes. A day, 24 hours. A week is seven days. Etc.

We consider time to be a constant. The ticking second hand on a wristwatch is steady and reliable. These facts were reiterated in most of the sites I visited, until, of course, I found myself emmersed in Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

I found myself emerged in points and distances. How motion effects time.

I found posted on a message board the simpliest explination I could find:

"A person always measures time, for themselves, to pass at 1 second per second. How they measure time passing for another person, depends on the relative velocities between the two people, and any acceleration (or gravity) present. If they're moving, their time will move slower. Whoever is experiencing the acceleration will have time pass slower (they will always measure it as 1 second per second) which is the only way you'll measure someone's time to be passing faster than you're own (you are accelerating, they are not). "

This is why I became a writer and not a scientist. I only understood about half of it. The rest, I'm sure I learned in my physics class in high school. However that was too long ago to remember.

I scrolled down the page a little farther and found that someone actually had given a lot of thought to time passing quicker as you age. They actually explained it mathematically:

"When you are 4 years old, one year is 25% of your life - hence one year is more important and passes more slowly. When you are 50, one year is only 2% of your life."

I concluded upon all of my findings that my theory isn't really that far off. Time as a constant is true. Everyone spends the same number of days in a year, and we all experience 60 seconds in a minute. We all reach January 1st on the same day. However, due to our perceptions, of that time feels different or everyone.

I'm not a scientist, nor do I claim to be one. I still hold on to my little pet theory for humors sake, but I can now acually discuss it with some real knowledge.

And just think... this all spawned from time seeming to pass too slowly one day.
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Council approves city reorganization
By Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
July 20, 2005

Twenty-one city positions were eliminated and one of the two city fire stations closed during the Marlin City Council regular meeting held Tuesday, July 12, when the council approved the reorganization of the city.

"It was something had to be done," Norman Erskine, Marlin Mayor, said. "This was not an easy decision, but it was a decision that was necessary."

Reorganization of the city became necessary when a shortfall of $377,879 in revenue for the 2004-2005 fiscal year was discovered due to refinancing the current water and sewer debt service and lawsuit settlements from previous years.

Though 21 positions were eliminated, 12 were already vacant due to attrition. Due to the extreme nature of the city's lack of funds, it was agreed that the nine employees were to be given two weeks notice instead of the originally proposed 30 days.

"This is a radical change and I was hopeful to achieve this through attrition and not be in the position to have to lay people off, " Randall Holly, city manager, said. "Out of a soft spot in my heart I proposed giving those laid off a month, but the pure business need is to go with two weeks."

Holly stressed that once the city is able to put some of the positions back in place, those people that were let go would be given first chance to be rehired.

Within those positions being cut are three fire department personnel. It was voted that the fire department be given 90 days to make the cuts to allow for training with the volunteer fire department.

Cutting the department by three employees makes it necessary that the city rely on the volunteers when fighting a fire. Training will be held to teach the volunteers to use the city's equipment and to create a new list of protocols to be followed in an emergency.

Holly assured the council that concerns for the insurance rates of Marlin residents and businesses had been researched, and he said that with the agreement to have the assistance of the volunteers there will not be an increase in the cost of fire insurance.

With the elimination of three firefighters, it is not posssible to keep both stations open. Therefore it was agreed that Station 1, located next to city hall and across from the Falls County Courthouse, be closed and all operation occur out of Station 2 on Live Oak.

The decision was based on response time in the case of a train blocking the department's way across town.

"If we were operating from Station 1 and a train blocked all crossings, response time to the center of the southeast quadrant of Marlin would be approximately seven minutes," Holly said.

He explained that Station 2 is closer to the areas of Marlin that have the greatest danger of a fire spreading quickly and that all areas of the city will be able to be reached within four minutes.

Included with the reorganization of the city was the elimination of the parks and recreation department. The elimination of the department was possible through contracting out the mowing of cemeteries and parks to an outside company.

Premier Lawn Care out of Waco was awarded the one year contract after being the lowest bidder at $48,000 a year.

There were six bids submitted with a range of $48,000 to $175,225. Among the bids was Lawn Tech out of Marlin, but Holly explained that legally they have to take the lowest bid, or throw all bids out and start over. Due to the city's need to move forward with its plans to reorganize, the bid was accepted by all five council members present.

To help oversee the changes made within the city, a new Director of Public Works was hired.

William T. Maines recently retired from the City of Waco, and has come to work for Marlin as the new Director of Public Works. He will receive a salary of $40,000.

Following the reorganization, figures show the deficit lowered to $36,879 thanks to the elimination of city positions and additional water revenue. Holly explained that the figures also include a bonus program that will not be implimented for another two years, and that he feels confident the changes made will be sufficient to get the city through its current monetary crisis.

In other action, the council accepted the low bid from Jerry Wally Construction out of Lumberton, Texas, for the 18" transmission main replacement as part of the rebuilding of the city's water system. The bid was for $881,477.96 and will be paid by the EDA grant the city has received.
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Maines hired as Director of Public Works
By Denise Schoppe
Staff Writer

The Marlin Democrat
July 20, 2005

Despite the elimination of 21 positions within the city of Marlin, a new Director of Public Works was hired at the July 12 regular session of the City Council meeting to oversee the changes being made within the city and to ensure that current and upcoming projects are completed efficiently,

William T. Maines recently retired from the City of Waco, and has come to Marlin as the new Director of Public Works.

Maines has ties to Marlin. He attended school in Marlin, and he said he has eight generations of his family buried in the city.

"This is home," he said. "I want come back and help."

According to a memo from Holly to the city council, Maines will receive a salary of $40,000 and he will start immediately.

The memo said that Maines has over 31 years experience in public works and water utility design, operation and management. For the last 20 years, he has managed main line construction, fire hydrant testing and maintenance, surface water treatment, wastewater lift station maintenance, heavy equipment selection, repair and maintenance, warehousing and purchasing.

Holly said that in doing a background check on Maines, his peers said the city is lucky to have him on board. Holly said that Maines was the "go-to person" while in Waco.

Maines has an Associates of Applied Sciences degree in Civil Engineering Technology, a Class "A" Water and Class "B" Wastewater Treatement License and is a Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission approved water utilities instructor.

Maines said he believes that if people are trained correctly to do a job, it doesn't take as many to do it.
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Water system improvements topic of Rotary meeting

by Denise Schoppe
Staff writer

The Marlin Democrat
July 13, 2005

Two engineers from KSA Engineers addressed the Marlin Rotary Club last week to present the organization with the plans for improving the city's current water system.

Robert L. Thurber and Stephen Dorman told the members that improvements made to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Waste Distribution System and Water Treatment Plants have been planned out and that work is projected to begin in the coming months.

Decisions on what needed to be done to improve the system were based on a 2004 study of the current system as well as demands being placed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

"TCEQ sets rules and standards that must be followed," Dorman said. "We will be focusing on getting the city into compliance with those standards."

One item being demanded by TCEQ is that the old trickling filter plant that Marlin used up to the early 90s be closed completely. Many of the structures from that plant remain today.

Improvements to the current Wastewater Treatment Plant include putting up new fences around the site, installing influent flow meters as required be TCEQ, installing new aerators and to clean sludge from the ponds at the plant to regain full capacity.

Funding for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant will come from a $250,000 grant from ORCA and from the $2,225,000 loans from Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).

Dorman then presented the Rotarians with plans for water distribution. He said the existing system has one high service pump station, two elevated storage tanks -- the Old Depot tank (200,000 gallons) and the Royal Street tank (800,000 gallons) -- and approximately 280,000 linear feet, or 53 miles, of water lines.

Improvements to the system will be to replaced existing 18" Reinforced Concrete Cylinder Pipe (RCCP) with new 18" PVC from the water treatment plant to FM 2308, create two pressure plants, install a new 500,000 gallon elevated water tank at old Tin Hat location, and replace 45,000 linear feet of water lines.

The water treatment plant's original plant was constructed in 1948.

"Today's plant has many deficiencies which include a need to improve treatment chemical storage and delivery, rehabilitate or replace filters, provide redundancy of critical components and improve the plant to current standards," Dorman said.

To do all that is needed, KSA will drudge the area next to the intake structure at the plant, repair clarifiers, modify chemical feed, replace pumps, replace filters, provide additional ground storage, construct new sludge processing units, provide emergency electric generators, rework the electrical system, install computer monitors and control instrumentation and construct a new office and lab.

"The waste water treatment plant is the most expensive part of the entire project," Dorman said.

Estimated cost of repairs and maintenance is $9,225,000.

One way KSA will improve wastewater cleaning is by use of ultra filtration membranes with provide a physical barrier to particles, whereas before there was the use of coal and sand to clean the water. Pore size in the filters is highly uniform which provides "absolute" removal of particles and microorganisms, Dorman said.

Turbidity, which refers to how clear the water is, will be improved and virus removal will be 99% with the new membrane filters. Dorman answered the question as to if the water will taste better after everything is done with a yes.

Funds for the improvements on the wastewater plant come from a 1 million dollar grant from EDA and a TWDB loan for $12.6 million which includes $1,890,000 debt forgiveness.

"There will probably be water outages as we do our work," Dorman said, "but we will keep them as brief as possible."

Dorman and Thurber stayed after the meeting to answer individual questions before they continued on with work on the system by opening bids on the replacement of the 18" waterline. Work on the project is projected to begin in the next few months.


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