Drive-In fights county, neighbor
Part 1 of a series
The Ellis County Press
GARRETT – The owners of the Galaxy Drive-In said they have expansion plans for the popular theatre, but Ellis County’s Department of Development and a next-door neighbor stand in their way.
"It’s been one fight after the other," said Martin Murray, who owns the Interstate Highway 45 tourist spot with his wife Marsha.
"We’ve got [plans for more movie screens] but we get turned down every time."
The headaches were compounded, the Murrays said, when they had to obtain a restraining order against their neighbor for shining lights onto the screens during movie show times; the restraining order, issued by then-Judge Bob Carroll out of Ellis County Court at Law No. 1, went unenforced, they said.
A countersuit was later filed by next-door neighbor Jerry Daniels, who owns a cabinet shop along the frontage road; Daniels also accuses the Murrays of diverting flood water onto his property, which resulted in him constructing a dam to push the water towards the highway.
Since the problems with the county and Daniels surfaced, the Murrays said, patrons have taken soft drink bottles filled with powder cement into restrooms, flushing them and causing pipes to crack, which resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage and replacement.
The Murrays can’t pinpoint who’s responsible for those acts, but their concerns aren’t being followed through with local law enforcement either, they said.
Citing a list of incidents filed with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office ranging from disputes with Daniels and other alleged infractions, sources inside the ECSO told The Ellis County Press Galaxy Drive-In reports came up "missing" and were not sent to the criminal investigation division (CID).
ECSO Chief Deputy Charles Sullins released a stack of reports after the newspaper submitted an open records request on the allegations about the missing incident reports.
With five acres graded and ready for more movie screens and local attorney Robert Guest taking up their cause in court, the Murrays said they’re almost to the point of closing the theatre down and moving somewhere else.
"We get offers from counties all the time to [build a drive-in]," Martin said. "We’ve never seen so much corruption."
With 21 years of drive-in movie industry experience under his belt, Martin said he’s keeping a vigilant eye around him, for his business’ safety and his family’s.
"People laugh all the time and call me crazy for building the [screens this way]," Martin said, noting the east-coast way of constructing movie theatres to handle hurricane-force winds.
Marsha, who together with their five children helps run the facility with about 30 other employees, defended the construction.
"Texas has tornadoes," she said.