Mayor address tax, water rate increases

As the Wills Point City Council worked its way through the annual budget, the decision was made to increase our tax rate and the water rate.

The city is faced with a very aged infrastructure. Not too long ago a clay pipe was replaced and that pipe was stamped 1912. The major challenge is how to pay for upgrades and improvements.

The current tax rate of .70 has been in effect since 2005. Inflation, regulations, labor, insurance and materials have all increased annually and we simply cannot continue on the current path without additional funds. The council has taken an in-depth look at what we can do and we are taking small steps to bring us more in line with costs in order to increase our ability to do things. Changing the rate to .75 is the first step toward that.


Budget, tax rate finalized by council

The Wills Point City Council charted the course for its 2017-’18 fiscal year, finalizing its budget, tax and water rates for the year ahead at their monthly meeting held Sept. 12.

Business for the meeting opened with Patricia Howard and O.B. Thompson addressing the council during public comment.

Howard raised concerns about a piece of city owned property near her home that is need of mowing, and also road signs along Bama Street that was difficult to read for drivers traveling in the area.

also spoke during the public comment portion of the agenda, raising complaints about the Wills Point Police Department’s enforcement of a stop sign near his home.

The action portion of the agenda began with the council putting the finishing touches on a month’s long process that also included a series of workshops by approving the city’s budget for the 2017-’18 fiscal year.


First Class Sparks sets off on first year teaching

Editor’s Note: Prior to the start of the 2017-’18 school year, the Wills Point Chronicle asked the Wills Point ISD for permission to interview a new teacher about their experiences in the classroom at the beginning, middle and end of their first-year. This article is the first of a three-part series.

From a young age, Wills Point native Sally Sparks always knew she wanted to teach. That passion followed her across the country and back, as she left in Wills Point following graduation in 2005 to attend West Texas A&M in Canyon, to New York for a time, down to Oklahoma State to pursue her Master's degree, and out west to Seattle where she and her husband settled for the past five years.


VZC Commissioners Court approves budget and tax rate

In a 4-1 vote, the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court approved an increased tax rate for the 2017 tax year during their regular meeting Sept. 12.

Commissioners approved a tax rate of $.61587 per $100 valuation which exceeds the preceding year’s tax rate ($.585847), the effective tax rate ($.552805) and the rollback tax rate ($.587864).

The effective tax rate is the total tax rate needed to raise the same amount of property tax revenue for VZC from the same properties in both the 2016 and 2017 tax years.

The rollback tax rate is the highest tax rate that VZC may adopt before voters are entitled to petition for an election to limit the rate that may be approved to the rollback rate.

All four county commissioners voted in favor of the 2017 tax year rate including Brandon Brown (Pct. 1), Virgil Melton Jr. (Pct. 2), Keith Pearson (Pct. 3) and Tim West (Pct. 4). VZC Judge Don Kirkpatrick voted against the proposal.


Suspect arrested in burglary investigation

The Wills Point Police Department, Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office and Precinct 4 Constable’s Office put an end to a recent string of burglaries and break-ins around the county with the arrest of a suspect late last week.

According to reports, the WPPD was alerted by a resident living outside the Wills Point city limits of a silver Infinity believed to have been involved in a burglary of a home in the county previously. Over the ensuing days, WPPD officers spotted a vehicle matching that description in multiple locations around the city, including a house on N. Third St.

Throughout the investigative process, officers built a case that eventually allowed law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant for the search of the residence on Third St.


Road renamed in Mayfield’s honor

White Rose Cemetery Association bestowed a special honor on longtime member Bobby Mayfield late last week, naming a previously unnamed road outside the cemetery grounds Mayfield Drive for his years of service and dedication during a special ceremony Sept. 8.

Following the introduction of all White Rose Cemetery Association board members and officers in attendance by association vice president Herschel LyBrand, association president F.G. Hardy outlined a small sample of Mayfield’s accomplishments before unveiling a street sign bearing the Mayfield name.

Said Hardy, “We're here to honor Bobby Mayfield for all his service through all the years he's been president and before. Bobby has served for 25 years on the board and White Rose Cemetery has had a 100 percent turnaround in looks.”


Board reviews accountability summaries

The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Monday night, reviewing the recently released accountability ratings for districts and campuses by the Texas Education Agency.

Board business opened with the board of trustees recognizing the dedication and work done by the WPHS student council.

WPHS Principal Jeff Russell noted just a small portion of the group’s service efforts, including donating time to help in cleanup efforts following the April 29 tornadoes that hit the Canton and Fruitvale areas, delivering cupcakes to the Wills Point Police Department and Wills Point Volunteer Fire Department, and making a trip to Rains High School deliver a sympathy card signed by the student body following the passing of a freshman student Sept. 4.

The board of trust commended the student council’s efforts, presenting certificates to all members that attended the meeting.


WPVFD battles brush fire

The Wills Point Volunteer Fire Department is advising county residents to exercise caution if they are planning on burning brush or working with mechanical equipment outdoors.

The warning by the department comes on the heels of a brush fire the department responded too at a property along County Road 3815 Sept. 2.

According to reports, the owner of the property had burned a brush pile earlier in the day. The pile reignited, burning several hundred square yards of pasture land in the process. The WPVFD dispatched multiple trucks to the scene to help limit the damage, including a new brush truck that the department took possession of in early August.


Memorial playground reaches construction phase

An important milestone was crossed earlier this week with organizers behind the push to build a playground honoring members of the Hardman and Watson families that passed in a tragic accident in late 2014 announcing that the construction phase of the project had begun Sept. 5.

On Nov. 19, 2014, five people with ties to the Wills Point community, primary school teacher Trudi Hardman, her husband Michael, a former teacher in Wills Point who was employed at John F. Kennedy Elementary in Terrell at the time of the accident, and three children from their blended family (Adam and Kaci Hardman and Dakota Watson), were killed in a single-vehicle accident on their way to Florida for a family vacation.

The construction of the playground has been a labor of love for family and friends of the Hardman and Watson families for more than two years, beginning in earnest with a committee meeting in January 2015 to determine how best to honor the lives of those lost in the accident.


Multi-vehicle accident briefly slows traffic

Local first responders, including the Wills Point Police Department, Wills Point Volunteer Fire Department and Champion EMS, responded to the 900 block of Highway 80 late last week in response to multi-vehicle accident that sent one person to the hospital and blocked three out of four lanes of traffic for a brief time.

According to reports of the accident, a 2004 Mazda driven by Jenna Justice and occupied by her three-year old son was traveling east down Highway 80 towards the downtown area when a 2017 Chevrolet Equinox by Deloyce Thorn pulled onto the roadway from a private drive striking Justice’s vehicle.

The accident caused airbags to deploy in both vehicles, spinning the Equinox to the northern side of the roadway and forcing the Mazda to stop with heavy damage to the front of the vehicle.


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