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300 show for downtown rally on tax day

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An animated crowd of 300 assembled in downtown Sulphur Springs Wednesday during the noon hour as part of a nationwide tax day protest, TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Rally, and heard several speakers share their concerns about the direction of the country, overtaxation, and out of control government.

More photos available in the news photos section.

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Sales, collections in Hopkins defy national trends

Retailers in the city of Sulphur Springs continue to defy the odds in a floundering economy, posting increases in sales tax rebates in April for the 12th time in 13 months.
The April sales tax check to the city of $311,973.87 reflected a 12.13 percent increase over April of 2008.
“It’s the same story as the last few months — the sales tax continues to defy gravity,” said Peter Karstens, director of finance for the city of Sulphur Springs.
This month’s sales tax rebate pushed the year-to-date total to $1.402 million, up 5.55 compared to the first four months of 2008. That puts the city on pace to have its biggest yearly increase since 2004, when sales tax payments for the year rose 8.8 percent from 2003.
The sales tax collections reflect overall retail sales in the city. April sales tax payments made to local governments come from taxes paid to the state comptroller’s office in March and represent sales that occurred in February.
Sulphur Springs fared better than most Texas cities in the latest report on sales tax collections. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the state received $1.58 billion in sales tax revenue for the reporting period, down 3.8 percent compared to one year ago.
The city of Sulphur Springs receives 1.5 percent of the total 8.25 percent levied on all taxable purchases made inside the city limits. One-third of the city’s share goes to the Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation.
Like Sulphur Springs, the Hopkins County treasury was sweetened by improved sales tax numbers. The county’s check this month of $115,950.27 was 6.03 percent above April of 2008. The county’s yearlong collections now total $525,947.81, up 5.52 percent.
Elsewhere in the county, sales of retail goods were also up in both Como and Cumby.
Como’s $1,525.14 was up 24.69 percent from a year ago, and year-to-date collections are up 35.16 percent to $7,736.84.
In Cumby, the rebate was up 3.53 percent to $9,748.12. Through the first four months of 2009, Cumby’s sales tax rebates of $46,149.60 reflect a 5.11 percent increase.
While the economic picture seemed a little brighter for February retail sales locally, the same story appeared to be playing out in most of the region, with five of seven nearby municipalities also recording increased sales tax numbers.
Some saw double-digit improvements, such as Cooper, where sales tax collections were up 31.86 percent, and Paris, which showed a 20.77 percent increase. Greenville’s rebates rose 13.32 percent compared to April of 2008, and Mount Pleasant recorded a 12.16 percent raise. Mount Vernon’s sales tax totals for April were up 5.45, percent as well.
Emory and Winnsboro did not fare as well, however. Emory’s rebate was down 0.78 percent from April 2008, while Winnsboro’s numbers tumbled 4.5 percent.

Thieves appear to ‘swap’ stolen big rigs

While details are sketchy, police know enough about the case of a stolen tractor-trailer to be able to classify it as “extremely odd.” Officers were went to Cowboy Trucking on East Loop 301 Tuesday morning after the owner, Gary Odom, realized a 2006 Kenworth T600 was missing.
Whoever stole the $85,000 truck-tractor, however, apparently left something behind — a 2004 Kenworth T2000.

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Good Kids Having Good Times

Cub Scouts from Pack 77 (left to right) Tanner Johnson, Evan Latimer, Austin Johnson, Logan Latimer, Chase Haney and Taylor Johnson recently visited local resident Pat Murray, and had a chance to get up close and personal with Murray’s two alpacas (back). The Cub Scouts also saw flocks of black-bellied whistling ducks land on the roof of Murray’s house.

Sulphur Springs High School Symphonic Band in Concert

Sulphur Springs High School Symphonic Band Director Charles McCauley conducts “The Willows of Winter” by B.J. Brooks in the high school’s band concert hall Tuesday.  The concert also included a performance by SSHS Concert Band directed by Steve Proctor. Each band played three pieces which varied stylistically.
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