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Gunfire: 2 arrested following drive-by shooting

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Two men were arrested Tuesday after a law enforcement officer saw their vehicle actively involved in a drive-by shooting on Bill Bradford Road, according to police and special crimes unit reports.

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ECLC students don’t have to pay for lunch, breakfast

Parents of Sulphur Springs’ youngest students won’t have to worry about coming up with money to cover their pupil’s meal costs this year. Early Childhood Learning Center will offer both breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, but parents are asked to fill out the family size and income form for recording purposes.

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Heritage Park to benefit from jail construction

As the initial steps began for construction of the new county jail, it was determined that as much as eight feet of dirt would have to be removed from the site and new dirt hauled in to support the jail foundation,
    This posed a question. What to do with the tons and tons of dirt?
    Rick Wilson, president of Heritage Park, suggested the park could use a lot of the old dirt to fill in a pool at the backside of the park.
    With cooperation from Sedalco Construction Services, contractor for the jail project, and project supervisor Gary Johnson, two needs are being met.
    As construction workers remove soil from the new jail site, it is loaded on dump trucks and hauled only about two blocks away to Heritage Park.
    Wilson believes Heritage Park has a solution for what to do with the tons of dirt being hauled out.
    “We asked them if they could just bring it over and dump it at the park,” Wilson said. “One of the old pools that we had behind the park had, for years not held water and we have been trying to dry it up.”
    Relocating the dirt from the jail site to the park has the potential of helping expand the park.
    “It will help us make it a more attractive park on the back end,” Wilson said. “They have been very cooperative in bringing all the dirt down there and assisting us with some bulldozer work as well. We are going to have an attractive place when we get through with it, and it's going to be very nice.”
    Wilson emphasized the pool being filled is not the one adjacent to the chapel in Heritage Park.
    The dry pool has been grown over with weeds for many years, to the point nobody could really see it.
    That pool, though, does have some history of its own.
    “It was one of the original clay pits that was out there at the park,” he said. “That's where they used to get clay to make bricks, but it is just not cooperating anymore.”
    Wilson said that when the pool is filled in and the new soil leveled and smoothed out, grass will be planted and more than an acre of park area will be added.
    The addition will mean more space for events like the annual John
Chester Dutch Oven cooking event and, Wilson said, will be available for other outdoor events in the future.

SSISD lowers tax rate slightly; gives staff pay raise

While Sulphur Springs Independent School District’s tax rate will be one cent less per $100 property value  during the 2014-15 fiscal school year, appraisal rates throughout the district are up, which should not only balance out revenues but generate a little bit of surplus.

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HCMH increasing tax rate by a few cents

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Hopkins County Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors Monday evening gave approval to the hospital's budget for the upcoming financial year and also initially approved setting the tax rate at 25 cents per $100 property valuation, up from the current rate of 21.37 cents.
    The budget, as approved, calls for a $2,486,985 deficit for fiscal year 2014-1015.
    In explaining the almost $2.5 million deficit budget, hospital Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Michael McAndrew said the hospital is seeing downward pressure on reimbursements from insurance companies and payors who are moving toward a “blended” Medicare/Medicaid rate.
    He said that while payments for services is in a decline, expenses continue to grow and cited the costs of drugs, labor, medical equipment, clinical supplies and healthcare for hospital employees.
    “Medicaid has completely revamped the way it pays supplements to providers. This has resulted in decreased reimbursement,” McAndrew said. “Texas did not expand Medicaid, which would have improved both access and reimbursement significantly.”
    The hospital CEO also said that more than 70 percent of the hospital's business can be attributed to Medicare and Medicaid patients and that reimbursements from both simply do not cover costs associated with the care given.
    Still another factor McAndrew pointed to was the continuing increases in the costs of medical technology and equipment.
    The Affordable Care Act, which has been referred to as Obamacare, has high-deductible plans which lead to increased bad debt for the hospital.
    The hospital board approved public hearings on the proposed tax rate increase for Sept. 8 and Sept. 15, with the final vote of the board slated for Sept. 22.

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