Mar

31

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 31, 2014

The News Photo/Erik Walsh
Coach Todd Gilleland (right) gives tips and direction to the players on the Rangers Little League team in Malakoff March 21.

WEBSITE PIC

Mar

31

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 31, 2014

By David Webb
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–Part of North Prairieville Street will be closed for four hours on May 17 for a 100-year anniversary celebration of the courthouse.

The Athens City Council approved the request by Henderson County during a meeting March 24. The street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the event.

County officials have not yet released details of the planned event.
City officials said they can close a street for up to four hours without requiring a permit from the Texas Department of Transportation.

The historic three-floor courthouse on the town square was built in 1913. It is constructed of red brick in Classic Revival style. The building, which includes a full basement, was designed by L. L. Thurman. It has angled wings and a cupola. It is Henderson County’s fourth courthouse, and the second one to be constructed in Athens.

Henderson County’s first courthouse was built in Buffalo in 1850, and the second one was built in Centerville in 1861, according to pictorial histories of Texas’ 254 counties depicting grand courthouses. Both cities are now considered ghost towns. The third courthouse was built in Athens in 1887.
The Texas Legislature established Henderson County on April 27, 1846, and named it in honor of James Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of Texas. In 1848 the legislature broke up Henderson County to form Van Zandt and Kaufman Counties. Athens was founded as the county seat and given its name with the hope that it would become a center of learning.

In other action, the council:
• rezoned a lot on Frizzell Street from single-family residential to two-family residential duplex.
• abandoned an unused alley in Bishop Heights Addition.
• authorized a contract with Henderson County Girls Softball Association for use of Cain Park.
• appointed an election judge and an alternate for the May 10 city election that will include a proposition to consider abolishing the Athens Municipal Water Authority, which the city is now engaged with in a lawsuit. The ballot will also include three contested council seat races.
• approved a replat of two lots into one in the South Platte Subdvision of the Lake Athens area.
• tabled appointing a new member to the Zoning Commission until more candidates come forward.

Mar

26

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 26, 2014

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

MALAKOFF–At a special called Malakoff City Council meeting held Monday, March 24, members voted to table any action on its deliberation of police officer Ernest Fierro’s appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee, as noted on the agenda.
Mayor DeLois Pagitt said following a one-hour executive session that under advisement of city attorney Hank Skelton, who was present, that the council was inclined to table any action, then called for a vote which backed that decision unanimously.

Fierro is under indictment in Navarro County for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, official oppression and reckless driving in relation to a December 2013 road-rage incident near Corsicana during which Iowa man William Livezey became ill and was pronounced dead at Navarro Regional Hospital.
Fierro was arraigned March 21 in Corsicana. The indictment states Fierro used his motercycle to run Livezey off the road. The aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and oppression counts are before 13th District Court Judge James Lagomarsino, while the misdemeanor charge will be heard before a misdemeanor jurist. A trial announcement is set for June 19 at 9 a.m., with a trial set for July 21 at 9 a.m., Butler added. That July 21 date also includes jury selection, she said.

District clerk files list three attorneys representing Fierro: Vincent Wisely, a police union attorney, and Tim Choy and Jim Lane, both Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers. A phone call to Wisely’s office Tuesday was not returned by press time Wednesday, nor was one placed to Choy and Lane, who share the same office number.
Council members also approved an agreement for the second phase of Jake’s Skate Park, near the Malakoff Community Center. The addition is named Sully’s Loop in memory of Garrett Sullivan, a Malakoff High School freshman who died two years ago from complications after breaking his ankle while skateboarding, his father, Greg, told the council at its regular meeting March 10. The council voted to begin the project at that earlier meeting, then worked out the agreement between American Ramp Co. of Joplin, Mo., Estella Lyon, and the city. The city is not bearing any costs for the $70,000 enlargement, said Clyde Tinsley on behalf of Lyon during the earlier meeting.

Feb

21

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 21, 2014

Fierro WEB

Malakoff officer bonds out of Weatherford jail after indictment
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

Malakoff Police officer Ernest Fierro bonded out of the Parker County jail in Weatherford Thursday evening, after turning himself in on capias warrants issued after indictments in Corsicana Wednesday alleging aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, official oppression and reckless driving.

For the alleged aggravated assault with a deadly weapon offense, the weapon is the vehicle Fierro was driving, which was a motorcycle, Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson said Friday. Once paperwork is returned from Parker County, then the alleged offenses will be put on a district court docket, Thompson said. An arraignment, therefore, has not been set, he added.

The warrants were served Thursday, following a Navarro County grand jury’s findings the day before. Because Fierro was not already in custody or under bond for the charges, state law precluded the Malakoff police officer’s grand jury results from being released until the warrants were served, according to Section 20.22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Parker County online records show that Fierro was released at 5:45 p.m. Thursday after posting $78,000 in bonds through a Weatherford bondsman: $75,000 for the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, $2,500 for official oppression, and $500 for reckless driving. The site showed Fierro was confined initially at 5:11 p.m. The website listed a Dallas address for Fierro.

According to the Texas penal code, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a first-degree felony when committed “by a public servant acting under color of the servant’s office or employment,” while official oppression and reckless driving are misdemeanors. First-degree felonies can include state imprisonment from 5 to 99 years, or a life term. Those felonies also can include a fine up to $10,000. First-degree felonies are the second-most serious charges under state law, behind capital felonies, which are eligible for the death penalty.

At issue was a roadside incident that took place Dec. 11 in which William Livezey of Iowa later died. Callers to Navarro County’s 911 system reported reckless driving on Highway 31 near Chambers Creek, east of Corsicana, which later was confirmed to be between Livezey and a Malakoff off-duty police officer, who was later identified as Fierro. Navarro County deputies arrived on the scene to find Livezey in handcuffs. Once Livezey fell ill, deputies removed the handcuffs and took Livezey to Navarro Regional Hospital, where he later died. An autopsy report later attributed the cause of death as heart disease, and its manner as “natural.” More details of the incident have been kept under wraps officially while the investigation proceeded.

Feb

19

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 19, 2014

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

CORSICANA–A Navarro County grand jury considered indicting Malakoff police officer Ernest Fierro Feb. 19, but no official results of the grand jury’s actions were available at press time Wednesday.

Before the courthouse closed at 5 p.m., and after the grand jury was released for the day at about 4:30 p.m., Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson told The News that in general, if an indictment is handed down, a warrant is issued, and that the person for whom the warrant is issued will either turn themselves in, or be arrested.

Once either of those happens, Thompson said, a court docket date will be set, and either a plea agreement will be reached, or the matter will go to trial.

The district clerk’s office in the Navarro County Courthouse said they were unable to release a copy of any indictments handed down that day before close of business Wednesday, which coincides with The News’ weekly deadline. A phone call to Vincent Wisely, a Dallas/Fort Worth police labor attorney who is representing Fierro, was unanswered.

At issue was a roadside incident that took place Dec. 11 in which William Livezey of Iowa later died. Callers to Navarro County’s 911 system reported reckless driving on Highway 31 near Chambers Creek, east of Corsicana, which later was confirmed to be between Livezey and a Malakoff off-duty police officer, who was later identified as Fierro. Navarro County deputies arrived on the scene to find Livezey in handcuffs. Once Livezey fell ill, deputies removed the handcuffs and took Livezey to Navarro Regional Hospital, where he later died. An autopsy report later attributed the cause of death as heart disease, and its manner as “natural.” More details of the incident have been kept under wraps officially while the investigation proceeded.

Jan

29

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 29, 2014

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

MALAKOFF—A Texas Rangers investigative report into a December 2013 incident involving an off-duty Malakoff police officer during which an Iowa man died has been forwarded to the Navarro County District Attorney.
“It will be reviewed to see if any criminal charges will come out of the action,” Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson said, “and if there are, it will be presented to a grand jury Feb. 19.” Thompson said the report was received Tuesday, Jan. 28. The district attorney declined further comment.

Navarro County Sheiff Elmer Tanner named Ernest Fierro Jan. 9 as the Malakoff police officer involved in the incident in which William Livezey of Iowa died. On Jan. 11 final autopsy report obtained by The News from American Forensics in Mesquite ruled Livezey’s “manner of death” as “natural,” with the cause of death listed as “hypertensive and cardiovascular disease.” The report states Livezey had a “history of congestive heart failure and diabetes mellitus” with “evidence of coronary artery bypass grafting.”
The autopsy report also noted “no evidence of significant trauma,” but did list an “abrasion on top of the head with no underlying injuries,” and “two quarter-inch abrasions right lower abdomen.” The autopsy report notes a “history of collapse while in police custody during an arrest,” but that refers specifically to the single Navarro County incident in question, according to Amy Gruszecki, the forensic pathologist who signed the report. Additionally, the final autopsy report concluded that “if any additional investigative information becomes available, this report may be amended.”

Livezey died Dec. 11. Calls that morning to the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office reported reckless driving involving Livezey and a motorcyclist, later learned to be Fierro, but it is not clear which party was reported as driving recklessly. Moreover, little is known about what happened specifically during the incident along Highway 31 in the Chamber Creek bottom east of Corsicana besides accounts from two Navarro County deputies who found Livezey on the side of the road in handcuffs, presumptively from Fierro. Livezey then fell ill, and deputies removed the handcuffs and began CPR on him while awaiting an ambulance. Livezey later died at Navarro Regional Hospital.

Fierro has been employed by the Malakoff Police Dept. since mid-summer 2013, after serving previously with Dallas police, then as a Dallas County district attorney’s office investigator, and then as a member of the Ferris Police Department. Fierro resigned from the Dallas police in November 2005 during an investigation into questionable activities during his stint, The Dallas Morning News reported in 2008, but kept his peace officer’s license. Fierro was still on-duty with the Malakoff police force as late as Jan. 13.

Jan

09

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 9, 2014

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

Ernest Fierro is the off-duty Malakoff police officer involved in the Dec. 11 incident near Corsicana in which William Livezey of Iowa died, the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. It turns out that Fierro has a checkered history as a Dallas police officer.

Fierro became a Malakoff officer in August 2013 after serving with the Dallas police and as a Dallas County district attorney’s office investigator, and then as a police officer in Ferris.

The Dallas Morning News reported in 2008 that Fierro was involved in several driving incidents as a Dallas police officer. Also, the paper reported that Fierro was disciplined in 2000 for violating the Dallas Police Department’s off-duty employment policy and working another job the same day he called in sick.

In 2001, an investigation showed that Fierro fled a minor car accident in Northwest Dallas, and soon thereafter, hit a truck and wooden pole, Dallas police said. Automated tracking information showed that Fierro had been in that area, and was recorded as driving at speeds more than 100 mph. The driver of the car involved in that wreck also picked him out of a lineup, but did not pursue prosecution. He received a written reprimand from the second accident.

Fierro, citing injuries from that second accident, told investigators that he did not remember being in the area, and did not recall driving over 100 mph. Fierro eventually was fired from the Dallas Police Department in May 2001. He was later reinstated in October 2001.

In 2005, Fierro got a one-day suspension after a police investigation found that he again left the scene of an accident. He told investigators that he barely bumped the vehicle, that he was responding to the request of another officer for help, and that when he returned to find the vehicle, it wasn’t there.

Later that year, Fierro’s squad car was struck when he pulled his police vehicle into the path of a fleeing auto. Later still, he was accused of using another officer’s name badge number to generate a theft report in which he was listed as the victim.

Fierro resigned on November 7, 2005, while these investigators were taking place. Internal investigators subsequently concluded that he violated the department’s chase policy and filed a false report.

Resigning under investigation usually would have meant that Fierro would have lost his peace officer’s license, but he appealed and state officials allowed him to keep it.

Fierro’s name was released Thursday in response to an open records request filed by the Corsicana Daily Sun. A previous request made by The News was declined.

Not much is known on what happened to Livezey Dec. 11 besides accounts from two deputies
who found him on the side of the road in handcuffs, presumptively from Fierro. Livezey then fell ill, and deputies removed the handcuffs and began CPR on him while awaiting an ambulance. Livezey later died at Navarro Regional Hospital.

The death is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers, and details remain unclear to the public.

Dec

27

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 27, 2013

IMG_3817

By Russell Slaton
The News correspondent

MALAKOFF–Christmas was in the air at Malakoff High School Dec. 20 as children from Malakoff Elementary’s Head Start program received gifts provided by students.
The mood was festive, with almost every room full of food, and students gathering around youngsters tearing into their gifts. Each third-period class adopted a child, with the elementary school counselor sending home a flyer asking Head Start parents to give details about their child’s shoe, pant shirt or dress size. The school also asked the parents to put an item on the list their child would like to receive. Those gifts included such items as bicycles and motor-powered mini-cars, upon which Head Start students tore up and down the halls, beaming with glee.
“Our students were very excited about this, along with our teachers,” said Malakoff High School principal Martin Brumit. “I believe this was a great way for MHS students to directly influence our community positivly.”

Dec

27

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 27, 2013

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff
EUSTACE–This year was the biggest year yet in distributing toys for the Chapman House in the three years it has been doing it.
More than 400 children received gifts, sweets and treats at the men’s residential treatment center in Eustace Dec. 14 with the help of community volunteers and toy donations.
“This has been a good fit for the residents of the Chapman House because it gives the men a chance to give back to the community in a tangible way at a time of year when many of them are not able to be with their families,” founder Kevin Chapman told The News. “The activities bless the residents in very real, deep ways.”
The official local Toys For Tots organization was still filling requests for children’s Christmas wishes right up until Dec. 21.
Some female applicants (fearing reprisals) specifically asked that their mates not find out they were getting toys for free, house director Donna Bega said.
One 12-year-old girl said this was her first time ever meeting Santa, she added.
The U.S. Marines Toys for Tots, with the red train logo, has its East Texas headquarters in Tyler, and coordinator Larry Atkins was on hand to help with the distribution.
Tool Police Department Sergeant Steven Lampert also helped and as a result the department received a few comfort toys for officers to give away when dealing with families.

Dec

16

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 16, 2013

San Luis customersWEB

By Tracy Martin
The News
Corespondent
ATHENS-Just before noon on Monday, the lunch crowd started pouring into El San Luis. The chips and familiar salsa were served, and owner Antonio Bolanos walked from table to table thanking his regulars for coming back.
On Nov 21, a fire swept through the restaurant’s Pinkerton St. location destroying everything in the building.
The fire started in the kitchen but quickly spread throughout the structure, leaving nothing to be salvaged.
Undaunted, Bolanos located a building, which had previously housed a restaurant and got to work. In two weeks, he was able to re-open, saying he just knew people would come to the new location. “See they’re here and I’m so thankful,” Bolanos told The News.
The new location on Murchison Street is situated right across the street from the county jail. Though the new location already had some of the restaurant supplies in place, Boanos notes it was still a challenge to open for business so quickly. “Oh yes, it was morning til night, and we all worked very hard,” he said.
Customer Norma Liliana Meeks was a regular at the old location and was happy to hear the restaurant was already re-opened. “We just love the food, it’s authentic, the menu is the same and it’s great that Antonio could come back so fast from the fire,” she said.