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.


Audit reveals good accounting practices Deficit still a concern for county

A report on the annual outside financial audit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016, was presented to the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court Aug. 22.

John Manning of the Patillo Brown and Hill L. L. P. audit firm, located in Waco, made the presentation to the commissioners after being introduced by VZC Auditor Freddy Thomas.

“We are here to give you an unmodified opinion on your financial statements,” said Manning. “As outside auditors, we can give you one of four different types of opinions and the unmodified opinion is the highest level of assurance that we can offer.”

Manning delivered good news to the commissioners regarding the work being done in the county auditor’s office.


WPISD bus involved in minor accident

The Wills Point ISD turned to its messenger system Aug. 31, advising parents and guardians that one of the district’s school buses had been involved in a minor traffic accident on its morning route to pick up kids to begin the school day.

No injuries were caused by the incident which occurred on FM-751 with the bus continuing its delivery route to all campuses following an inspection by district personnel.

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Balloon release held on Labor Day

The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial held a balloon release in honor of veterans, prisoners of war/missing in action and those currently serving in the military on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4

The annual event attracted people from across the county with funds raised from the balloons purchased benefiting the VZC Veterans Memorial.

Each color of a balloon represented a certain status of military personnel. Red and blue balloons were in honor of veterans or anyone; black in honor of POW/MIA; yellow balloons for those currently serving in the military; and white balloons in honor of those who have retired.

VZC Veterans Memorial committee member Shorty Farmer offered remarks to those in attendance, stating that the balloon release was also in honor of the late Red Montgomery.


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