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Council gives final approval to budget

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Sulphur Springs City Council members moved quickly through a special meeting Tuesday evening and adopted the budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2014-2015, which starts next Wednesday. With a unanimous vote, the council approved a $28,244.850 budget for the next fiscal year. Under the new budget, the city will increase funding to both City Cemetery and Melhaven Cemetery by $100 per month and, based on council request, increased the fee for mowing vacant property to $125. Also included in the new budget is Celebration City branding and the need for signs to point to the downtown area. City Manager Marc Maxwell said he anticipated it would cost $66,000 for signs and to use colored strips on the streets leading to the downtown area. Approval was also given to keeping the same tax rate of 44 cents per $100, a rate the city has used for the past 10 years. Water, sewer and sanitation rates will increase 2 percent under the new budget. City Finance Director Peter Karstens said the increase was in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index. With regard to the 2 percent increase in the sanitation rates, council members were told the increase is built in to the contract with the current disposal company.

Geneological Society members speak against move to library

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Two women spoke to the Sulphur Springs City Council Tuesday night against a plan that would move Hopkins County Genealogical Society from its current building on Main Street to Sulphur Springs Public Library. Cristal Joslin of Royce City, a member of the Genealogical Society, reminded council members about the purpose of the meeting room at the library and the services provided through use of the room as well as the need to keep it available. “The movement of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society, Inc., to the library will reduce the space and opportunity for summer reading programs that impacts 75 to 90 children per event,” she said. “This move will diminish library opportunities to provide meeting space for businesses and other organizations.” The public at large, she said, is supposed to be served by the public library. “It is of great concern that the city would engage in a 99-year lease with a privately-owned organization. Hopkins County Genealogical Society is an LLC, a privately-held organization and a 501(c)3,” she said. “In the same way, you would not and should not enter into a lease for 99 years with a bank, a coffee shop or a church at a public facility that would turn a public space into a private space. “The agreement, which is not supported by the majority of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society membership, should not be entered into with the city,” she said. “Children's programs, literacy initiatives, public meeting space should not be sacrificed for a private organization.” Joslin urged the council to give serious consideration to any agreement that would relocate the Genealogical Society to the public library and “preserve the public's trust.” Gilda Cain, a Commerce resident and former president of Hopkins County Genealogical Society, asked that the city council postpone any vote regarding a lease agreement between Sulphur Springs and the Genealogical Society. “That was presented to our members during our monthly meeting last month. Mr. [Marc] Maxwell has reported that this will not be on the agenda until November,” Cain said. “Twenty-three years ago, I came before you as a member and representative of Hopkins County Genealogical Society and asked to be separated from the city library and that move was granted. “The move to the library will be one that will reduce the meeting space for both the library and HCGS,” she continued. “The membership is in disagreement with the HCGS board regarding the sale of our facility at 210 and 212 Main. Our membership is in disagreement with the HCGS board entering into an agreement with the city for space at the library at this time.” Cain also said the membership has discussed the concept with the membership in disagreement with the HCGS board. “Our board has decided to go against the wishes of the membership and informed us that the decision, in their words is ‘A done deal except for your vote to approve the agreement,'” she said. “My goal is to bring awareness of the situation for you and save HCGS and the City of Sulphur Springs valuable time and money in legal expenses and disenchanted citizens.” Cain said HCGS would be installing a new executive board in November and December and suggested that would allow the proposed move to be considered by HGCS membership. Because the Genealogical Society issue was not an agenda item, council could not respond to any of the concerns presented in the meeting.

MADD Walk surpasses goal before event happens; Saturday’s walk has stations for everyone

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Hopkins County Walk Like MADD won’t begin until Saturday evening, but local teams and walkers have not only exceeded the set goal but did so in record time. As of Tuesday morning, the campaign had raised $11,895 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving of East Texas; the goal was set at $10,000, according to group’s page on walklikemadd.org.

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Sulphur Bluff Club News Sept. 23, 2014

Sulphur Bluff Independent School District Interim Superintendent Dustin Carr reports that the 2014-15 school year is off to a positive start, following a productive summer.

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Autumn Artists

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On the first day of fall, Aaliyah Cheatum colors an autumn-themed project Tuesday morning entitled the “Giving Tree,” based on a book by Shel Silverstein in teacher Shelia Rorie’s second grade classroom at Lamar Primary School. The “Giving Tree” is a book about a lifelong relationship between a boy and a tree.

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