Richard Stanley

U.S. Army veteran Richard Stanley, left, accepts a proclamation honoring World War II veterans from Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain. Also pictured is Robert Sparenberg, Stanley’s caretaker.

Calling him young man, Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain called World War II veteran Richard Stanley front and center at the start of Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting.

Stanley, 98, served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater during World War II under Gen. George Patton  and took part in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last major offensive campaign of the war.

“We don’t have a lot of our treasures left and you’re certainly a treasure to the city of Cleburne and the United States,” Cain told Stanley. “Our nation will never forget the sacrifices that you and your buddies made on behalf of us and freedom or your part in putting the world at peace.”

Those present in council chambers twice gave Stanley a standing ovation.

Stanley was on hand as Cain proclaimed this week World War II Veterans Recognition Days in Cleburne, a proclamation that also recognized the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

“It’s been said before that the men and women who served during World War II were the greatest generation in U.S. history,” Cain said. “With all we have going on in the world today, my hope and prayer is that another great generation will rise up worthy of the greatest generation that ever lived.”

Robert Sparenberg, Stanley’s caretaker, also praised the men and women of World War II.

“I was born in Belgium,” Sparenberg said. “My parents lived under four years of Nazi occupation. They saw their Jewish neighbors taken. They saw all kinds of atrocities. I was born in 1945, just at the end of the war. Because of that it’s always been my dream to meet the men who fought for my country so that I could later live in the United States of America. [Stanley] is one of many of those men I have met and cherished. Because I’m here today and we have freedom because of what these men did.”

Sparenberg called the last four weeks an emotional time given that three area World War II veterans — including Cleburne resident Homer Cox, 103 — passed away during that time. 

Lower rate

Council members took a record vote on the proposed property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Council members unanimously approved a proposed rate of 0.760092 per $100 of property valuation. The proposed rate is 1.3 cents lower than the current rate.

An increase in projected property tax revenue spurred primarily by new construction and an increase in city operational cost savings made the rate decrease possible, Cleburne Finance Director Troy Lestina said.

Council members on Tuesday also held the first of two scheduled public hearings on the proposed rate. No one came forward to speak on the matter. The second public hearing will be held 5 p.m. Sept. 8 at Cleburne City Hall.

Council members also held the first public hearing for the proposed budget during which no one spoke. The second will be held Sept. 8 as well. After both Sept. 8 hearings council will officially vote on adoption of the tax rate and budget.

The proposed budget includes $1.5 million for street repairs, a 2.5 percent merit increase for employees, funding for city building maintenance, repairs and equipment and replacement of several city vehicles. The budget includes no issuance of new debt.

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