The city of Marshall has proposed about a $31.45 million balanced budget for 2020. The proposed tax rate would remain unchanged at .54216 per $100 valuation.
City commissioners are expected to vote on the tax rate at Thursday’s meeting and on the new budget at their Sept. 26 meeting.
“It is a balanced budget that focuses on improved service delivery, with an eye on the future,” City Manager Mark Rohr said.
Notably, the city was able to pay off a large portion of utility-related debt. City Secretary Elaine Altman said that this opened up funds for potential equipment purchases or other areas of need.
The majority of expenditures for the next year fit into two funds, the general fund at $21,065,098, and the water and sewer fund at $10,385,254.
A number of other noteworthy purchases are also proposed in the new budget, including a 15 percent increase in funding for street resurfacing; the purchase or leasing of nine police cruisers; and additional funds to honor the city’s $537,000 pledge for the a new animal shelter.
The new budget also focuses on implementing the Mobilize Marshall Plan, organized after a public strategic planning meeting held in June. Based on community suggestions on how Marshall can best be improved, the budget incorporates these ideas into the city’s plan for the upcoming year.
These changes include increased funding for road repairs, continued exploration of new and unique revenue sources, and more.
“It is no small undertaking to change the trajectory of any city,” Rohr said, “It takes time to implement the action steps necessary to effect such meaningful change.”
The Marshall City Commission will hold two public hearings on the budget, the first of which is Thursday.
“This will result in an enhanced quality of life for our citizens and, in turn, produce more revenue to reinvest back into the city,” Rohr said.
Marshall’s community theater group, Buddy Power Promotions, is kicking off its new play “The Wild Women of Winedale” this weekend, with the first performances slated Friday through Sunday.
“This is our second play of the season,” said Cherry Fisher, co-director of the play.
The thespians performed “Mousetrap” earlier this year and are looking forward to delivering the laughs to audiences with their upcoming comedy, which is about two feisty sisters and their quirky sister-in-law.
“Come watch how these gals tackle the problems most women face when it comes to aging,” Fisher said. “They do it with such grace and style — NOT.”
Instead, “they send you on a comical trip on handling aging,” Fisher said.
Audience members may even identify with some of the colorful characters, she said. More relatable personalities also come into play as the older sister reveals a special video project — titled “Defining Women” — that she’s filming.
The play also boasts a diverse cast, representing women of various ages from different locations.
“We have a wonderful cast,” said Fisher.
“They come from all over our area,” she said, noting they hail from Elysian Fields, Jefferson and Marshall.
Most unique is the makeup of the directors.
“We have three directors of this play,” said Fisher. “This is an unusual approach for us.”
Directors are Fran Hurley, Penny Cochran and Fisher.
“These three got together and decided to try something new,” she said.
“These three are also the ‘Wild’ women,” she said of the main characters.
Hurley plays Fanny Wild Cantrelle, Cochran plays Willa Wild and Fisher is Johnnie Faye “Jef” Wild.
Other cast members include Susan Wise as Doreen Whitman; Ellen Taylor as Betty Dunlap and Nora Griffin; Rebecca “Becky” Beasley as Glenda Bates; Kelli Smith as Flo Hudson; and Robin Richardson as Edith Macklin.
“It was the best audition ever because the women who asked just sort of fell into the roles perfectly,” Fisher said.
Production dates are Sept. 13, Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sept. 14, Sept. 15 and Sept. 21 at 2:30 p.m. Performances are all at Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 501 Indian Springs Drive in Marshall.
Tickets are $15 and are available at Eventbrite.com, at the door or by calling Cherry Fisher at (903) 930-0163.
“The audience can expect to laugh a lot and even have a few touching, tearful moments,” Fisher said. “This is a great chance to get out of the house and do something different or maybe do something you already enjoy.”
In its second season, Buddy Power Promotions is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and will be celebrating its second anniversary Oct. 27.
“Our goal is to bring people into the East Texas area,” said Fisher, who is also founder of the group. “We want to add to the ‘to do’ list for our surrounding towns.”
The group also desires to work with other performing groups and organizations, such as East Texas Performing Arts and Theatre Longview, to help grow an even larger interest in the arts in the East Texas area.
“We want to help each of our area towns grow and be a go-to area for families, couples or anyone just looking for something to do,” Fisher said. “We want to help support our local business, and we think we can do this by having some more entertainment.
“We feel that if folks come to see our shows, or any area shows, then they will eat and maybe even stay over for the weekend (or longer) to see what our area has to offer,” she added. “There is so much here in Marshall, Jefferson and Longview that people don’t know about. We want to get people here to check it out!”
Fisher said volunteers are always welcome to be a part of Buddy Power Promotions.
“We always need actors, painters, seamstresses, carpenters, ticket salespersons,” she said. “We can also use anyone who can ‘write a check.’ We can’t do it without the help of our community, and we also feel we help our community in return.”
Anyone interested in being a part may contact Cherry Fisher at (903) 903-0163.
JEFFERSON — The Jefferson ISD trustees got a first hand look at the new wing of the Jefferson Elementary School during a facilities tour with the district and campus administration on Tuesday.
Trustees toured both Jefferson High School and Jefferson Elementary School following their regular board meeting, with plans to tour Jefferson Junior High School and Jefferson Primary School at a future date.
The trustees first got a glimpse of updates and new technology students are using at Jefferson High School in several CTE (Career and Technology Education) courses, including in Culinary Arts, Welding and Health Sciences.
In Welding, students have created their own individual welding booths, acquired a brand new iron worker machine, as well as other equipment.
“This is the nicest equipment of any program in our area,” Jefferson High School Principal Michael Walker said on Tuesday.
The trustees also tried their hand at Z Space 3D learning computers in Health Sciences and saw firsthand how technology and cameras have enhanced learning in Culinary Arts.
Next, the trustees hopped over to Jefferson Elementary School, where they toured the almost $2 million, soon-to-be-completed fourth-grade wing that is being constructed on the north side of the campus.
The new wing contains eight classrooms, a janitor/technology room, a storage room and a set of male/female restrooms.
The eight classrooms will house about 97 students that make up the district’s fourth grade, as well as two special programs classes made up of about 45 students total, Jefferson Elementary School Principal Lindsey Whitaker said.
“Seven of the eight classrooms will be used as classrooms while the eighth will be used as a multi-purpose learning room/science lab,” she said.
Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell said he expects the new elementary wing to be completed the first week of October.
“Construction is going well; they’ve been working on Saturdays and we haven’t had rain to slow them down,” Barnwell said.
Also on Tuesday, trustees unanimously approved the district’s and its campuses’ improvement plans that are required to be submitted to the Texas Education Agency each year.
“The plans were very straight forward with the issues,” Jefferson ISD Trustee Leah Cooper said. “It was a good sign that they’re taking these seriously and not just superficially. I was really pleased to see that.”
North East Texas Credit Union of Jefferson Representative Melinda Fuquay presented trustees about an $8,000 check on Tuesday from the credit union’s signature debit card logo program.
For each of its members that get a Jefferson ISD logo on their debit card, a portion of their signature purchases goes to the district. Barnwell said the money will be used for various activities and programs across the district.
A Shreveport man has been indicted on charges of intoxication manslaughter and manslaughter in the July 2018 death of Carthage teen Austin Gray.
Michael Wayne Brady, 52, was high on methamphetamine while operating a car during the fatal crash, Harrison County District Attorney Reid McCain said.
“It was a very high level,” McCain said.
At the time of the wreck, Hallsville Police Chief Wesley Freeman reported that 18-year-old Gray died after his car was T-boned by Brady after Brady allegedly ran a red light at U.S. 80 and Branch Street in Hallsville.
Gray had just graduated from Carthage High School weeks earlier in May.
Freeman said the preliminary investigation indicated that Brady was heading east on U.S. 80 when he reportedly ran the red light at the intersection and struck the driver side of a car driven by Gray, who was making a left turn onto U.S. 80 from Branch Street.
Officers were dispatched to the scene at 7:53 p.m. Gray was pronounced dead at 8:38 p.m. at Longview Regional Medical Center and his passenger, Kassi Ham, 19, of Hallsville, sustained serious injuries and was taken to Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center-Longview, Freeman said at the time.
Brady was cited for disregard of red light while other charges were pending.
According to the indictment, Brady operated a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated and did by reason of such intoxication caused the death of Gray by accident or mistake.
District Attorney McCain explained that the case took a while to be indicted because they were waiting for the defendant’s blood results to return.
“Although this happened last year, we just got the blood back last month and this is our first grand jury after that,” he said.
He said Brady turned himself in on Monday and has since posted $20,000 bond on each charge.
The DA said prosecutors are looking forward to seeking justice for the family.
“He was a good kid,” he said of the victim, “so hopefully we can get some justice done for the family.”