Past the police checkpoint where FM 2491 meets Loop 340, Waco’s newest neighbor is having trouble with its city budget.

Among the population of about 1,000 clustered near Vernon Howell’s Mount Carmel compound, Satellite City boasts 35 television stations and a police force numbering 600. A sign at its city hall calls it “the safest town in America.”

But on Tuesday, Mayor Joe Duncan had to go door-to-door to raise enough money to pay his city’s garbage bill.

A city hall press release Tuesday advised Satellite residents that garbage pick-ups now come twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

After state transportation department road crews stopped clearing the trash from the stretch of FM 2491 where the media has encamped for the past five weeks, Duncan, a freelance photographer working for NBC-TV, appointed himself Satellite City mayor on a platform of waste management.

Three weeks ago, Duncan signed a service agreement with Centex Waste Management to provide the makeshift city with one trash bin. With garbage still piling up this week, Duncan had to solicit contributions from his neighbors.

Despite his efforts to solve the settlement’s trash problem, Duncan nonetheless has found himself opposed by another would-be politician.

Clint Houston of Houston’s KPRC-TV is lobbying for control of Satellite City on a platform of portable toilets and “better access.”

“I have the popular opinion behind me because I brought in the first Porta Potties,” said Houston, who claims the support of the small TV and radio stations against the larger news teams that apparently back Duncan.

“We’re the north side (of FM 2491) and he’s the south side,” Houston said. “Who runs the city? The mob. And I’ve got the mob on my side.”

David Magana, news producer for NBC-affiliate Channel 5 of Dallas, said last week that humor is vital in the face of a situation as serious — and tedious — as the Mount Carmel standoff.

“. . . At first you just deal with it in a sense that it’s just horrible. Then you try to do the job as best you can in the conditions you’re under,” he said.

In Tuesday’s press release, Satellite Press Secretary David McLemore, a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, announced upcoming events including:

  • The first Satellilte City Easter egg hunt at 9 a.m. Saturday.
  • A sunrise Easter service on Sunday with music by the Salvation Army Band.
  • A Dance in the Ditch and Barbecue at 6 p.m. Saturday. Press credentials required.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.