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'Shingle Mountain' shingle recycler comes to Denton

Part of the business group involved in “Shingle Mountain,” a 55,000-ton heap of roofing waste that a state district judge ordered to be cleaned up from southern Dallas, has started recycling shingles in Denton.

Records with the Texas Environmental of Environmental Quality show that CCR Equity Holdings Five LLC registered a Denton location in April, the same month that CCR Equity Holdings One LLC and its operator, Blue Star Recycling, were in court in Dallas.

Blue Star has since closed, according to the company website.

State officials registered CCR Five where another recycling business, 380 Shingle Recycling, had been registered since 2013. The location, in the 5100 block of East University Drive, is along the banks of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and the north shore of Lewisville Lake.

Smiley N. Pool/Dallas Morning News file photo  

City of Dallas inspectors survey the mountain of shingles at Blue Star Recycling that rises over the backyard of Marsha Jackson’s home off Interstate 45 in South Dallas in March.

Lewisville Lake is the main water supply for millions of people in Denton, Denton County and the city of Dallas.

Chris Ganter, a principal with CCR, said he could understand the community’s concerns, but his company came to Denton to remove shingles that were already there.

The company moved off 5,000 cubic yards of an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 cubic yards already in place, he said, adding that they had “zero intention” of accepting any new materials at the Denton site or using the Denton site to assist with the court-ordered cleanup in Dallas.

“We are cleaning it up to be developed as an industrial site,” Ganter said.

An adjacent 16-acre parcel with frontage on University Drive is for sale for $2 million, according to a listing with Scott Brown Commercial. The city’s planning department confirmed it is in talks with a company interested in opening a landscape and masonry business on the adjacent parcel, which fronts University Drive.

CCR Five’s TCEQ registration simply notifies state environmental officials that the activity is taking place for inspectors, according to TCEQ spokesman Brian McGovern. McGovern said the agency would need more time to confirm or deny whether the company’s registration came with any kind of limitations or agreements.

Because shingles must be ground up in order to be remade into asphalt pavement, shingle recycling can be noisy, dusty work.

According to court documents in the Dallas “Shingle Mountain” case, a city inspector there found a 20-by-300-foot wall of ground shingles stretching the entire length of the creek on the property. The pile blocked the creek and sent runoff into the water system. The inspector tested the water downstream and found elevated measurements of phosphorous, iron, copper, nitrite and other suspended solids.

The year-old mountain of roofing waste stands so high that motorists can see it from Interstate 45. People living near the heap complain of dust and odors. According to recent reports in The Dallas Morning News, the heap was supposed to be gone by July 9, but little has changed since the April court order.

Stephanie Timpko, a volunteer with Trinity Waters, said the nonprofit group worries about shingle recycling going upstream. Trinity Waters is a landowner cooperative focused on stewardship of the Trinity River Basin.

“Now that we see operations in Denton, it’s even more of a threat to the water than the ‘Shingle Mountain’ in South Dallas,” Timpko said.

McGovern said the company’s registration did not require TCEQ to notify either the city or the county under stormwater protection rules.

In a memo to the Denton City Council this week, the city staff said they have asked state officials for more information.

Al Key/For the DRC  

Workers traverse scaffolding around the dome on top of Denton County’s new courthouse while construction continues Thursday at the site on Loop 288.

At Denton church conference, a ‘biblical justification’ for defense is discussed

Churchgoers who are responsible for the safety of their places of worship huddled in Denton on Friday to learn about the methods they can use to defend against threats ranging from child predators to active shooters.

Denton Bible Church hosted the National Church Security Conference, a two-day event that wraps up Saturday. Speakers, including a Denton police officer, taught the audience how they can prevent and respond to some of the most prominent threats facing worshippers today, whether locally or abroad.

“We do have to be prepared to face those risks, and we need to respond to them,” said Joe Calfee, the safety and risk coordinator at Denton Bible Church.

Some of the speakers Friday iterated the notion that church security teams are gatekeepers for their congregations. (One of the conference’s sponsors was North Texas-based Gatekeepers Security Services, which cites 1 Chronicles 9:21-27 as its founding Scripture — the story of how four guards were stationed along all four sides of the tabernacle.)

Denton Bible Church had people in Nice, France, in July 2016, when a Tunisian man killed 86 people in the Bastille Day terrorist attack. Everybody from the Denton church made it back and avoided injury, but the episode seems to have added some urgency in how the church prepares people for potentially dangerous situations.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility,” Calfee said.

Closer to home, a gunman killed 26 churchgoers at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017. And last October, a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 people dead. A gunman killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

These and other events are on the minds of church security teams in Texas and across the country. Inside Denton Bible Church on Friday, there were talks of assault rifles, evacuation plans, terrorist groups, including white supremacists, and the more spiritual responsibility these teams — often licensed to carry — have to their fellow worshippers.

“Somebody has to be the lead person,” Denton police Officer Shane Kizer said. “They’re going to be looking to you.”

Kizer, who spoke about active shootings, and others said churches, mosques, synagogues and temples need to have plans in place — to screen potential child predators, to safely send people on mission trips, and to thwart violent attacks.

“There is a biblical basis for the work that we do, for looking at risks and making decisions about them,” Calfee said, as he read through Scripture. “As believers and church workers, we have a moral obligation to protect the people that God has entrusted to us.”

The conference continues at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Denton Bible Church, 2300 E. University Drive.

Former Guyer teacher indicted on charge of improper relationship with student

Jeana Wesson, a former Guyer High School teacher, was indicted Thursday on a charge of improper relationship between an educator and a student.

Wesson is accused of having an improper relationship with a male student in May 2017. The student was 17 years old at the time.

Wesson was arrested Feb. 28 after turning herself in to Denton police. She was released on $5,000 bail the same day.

A warrant for her arrest had been issued the previous day, but a substitute teacher was covering her classes beginning Feb. 25, according to a Denton ISD spokesman.

Jeana Wesson

If convicted of the second-degree felony, Wesson could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Regardless of a victim’s age, it is illegal for a teacher to engage in a sexual relationship with a student.

The victim told police Wesson sent inappropriate pictures and videos to him in 2017 and Wesson “performed a sexual act with him in her classroom,” Denton police said in February.

According to a cached version of a district website, Wesson was a chemistry teacher and aquatics coach.

She is currently under investigation by the Texas Education Agency Educator Investigation Division. With the investigation ongoing, her teaching certificates are currently valid.

“After an internal investigation and with the full cooperation of the Denton Police Dept., Denton ISD was in the process of terminating [Jeana] Wesson when she resigned,” Julie Zwahr, district spokeswoman, said via text message Thursday evening.

Zwahr said information related to the investigation was promptly turned over to other authorities, including the State Board of Education.