Feb

16

Posted by : admin | On : February 16, 2017

Exterior Rendering
By Rachel Williams
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–Planners for the Texan Theater renovation met with interested contractors this week to present their concepts and bid information. It won’t be long before construction work begins to restore the historical location, which will attract business and activity to the downtown square. Five to six contractors have expressed interest in the bid documents, which are due back by March 3 for a closed bid process.
ArchiTexas Principal David Chase presented a slide show Monday of their vision for the renovation, detailing construction materials and finishes as well as the overall look and feel of the finished job. Funding sources for this project include a $1.4 million loan which has been allocated for this purpose.
A renovated Texan Theater will provide a venue for civic events on the courthouse square which would help invigorate downtown with greater economic growth, council members noted in August.
The 6,700 square foot space prices out at around $166 per square foot and holds between 250 and 400 people, depending on the seating and standing arrangements and could be rebuilt and opened within a year’s time. “This could be the next jewel in Athens,” Community Development Director Thanasis Kombos said.
Councilman Ed McCain agreed, pointing out that several global companies are planning visits to the city. “A revitalized Texan could be the reason they say, ‘I want to come here.’” McCain said.
To support the revitalization of the downtown area, the city council approved a façade improvement grant program, which will allow business owners in a nine-block area around the square to apply for funds from the city to historically restore and update the faces of their businesses. Using hotel occupancy tax funds, the city will support business owners in putting their best foot forward. The grant program passed with two council members recusing themselves due to conflicts of interest as building owners in the nine-block area.
“Our primary goals with this grant plan are the preservation of historical sites in our city as well as the encouragement of economic development,” Kombos said. “We don’t want to see any more of our downtown buildings disappear.”
Councilman Tres Winn asked, “If more funding were needed would we find the money for it?” Kombos answered, “The Hotel-Motel fund is at an all-time high right now, and so yes, we could increase the offering up to 50 percent of the funds.” Those who apply for the façade improvement plan will be encouraged to work together to use the same contractor for similar work in order to get better pricing and make their dollars go further. Applicants may also apply for funding from the Athens Economic Development Corp. to continue renovations beyond the façade, Kombos added.
Immediately afterwards, the council agreed to procedures for the Declaration of Conflict of Interest, by deciding that any council member must verbally announce the conflict of interest prior to a vote on any matter before the council. A written statement must be completed and notarized by the city secretary immediately following adjournment of the meeting in which the conflict of interest was discussed. The recusing Joe Whatley and Monte Montgomery followed that pattern exactly before the council considered the agenda item.
In other business, council members:
• tabled the final reading of an ordinance concerning amendments to provide for mobile food vendors subject to development standards and applicable zoning regulations until further discussion can be had.
• heard an update on Retail Recruitment from Lisa Denton, Athens Economic Development Center, discussing the work that R360, a retail consulting firm, has done to help Athens business growth. The report included cell phone usage mapping both during daytime and nighttime hours, comparisons to other similar locals and areas where gaps exist for potential retailers to fill. The marketing information is also displayed on a brochure for sending out to prospects, she presented. She added that retailers need the right sites at reasonable pricing to make Athens fa favorable location. “This is critical,” she said.
• heard and discussed the first reading of an ordinance concerning pro-rata permit fees for development. The new fee structure is incremental by dollars, bringing the price more directly relatable to the actual cost of the project.

Feb

16

Posted by : admin | On : February 16, 2017

Lady Cardinals win 73-50
Special to The News
ATHENS–Once the 11th-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cards found another gear, they ran away and hit from Paris Junior College’s Lady Dragons for a 73-50 win Saturday afternoon at Cardinal Gym.
With a pink-clad Play 4Kay crowd looking on, the Lady Cards outscored Paris 30-10 in the final 14:30 to run their season record to 19-4. They are 11-2 in Region XIV Conference heading into a three-game road trip to Bossier Parish, Panola and Angelina.
The Lady Cards are scheduled to return home Saturday, Feb. 25 against Coastal Bend in a 2 p.m. tipoff.
Paris hung with the Lady Cards until near the midway point of the third quarter. The Lady Dragons pulled within three, 43-40, before the Lady Cards ran off and hid.
Jordan Alexander provided the spark for the Lady Cards with 16 points, all in the second half. Alexander drained four three-pointers.
Naomi Davenport tossed in 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Shakeela Fowler had 14.
The Lady Cards took a 39-31 lead into the halftime locker room when Christalah Lyons hit a running three-pointer at the buzzer.
Boys victorious 81-65
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–The No. 18-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals won for a 37th-straight time at Cardinal Gym Saturday afternoon.
Using a fast start in the second half, the Cardinals rolled to an 81-65 win against the Paris Junior College Dragons in a Region XIV Conference contest.
In extending their home win streak, first-year head coach Guy Furr’s Cardinals maintain their lead in the North Zone. Now 21-4 on the season, the Cardinals are 12-2 in conference play.
The Cardinals are scheduled to be on the road this week, traveling Wednesday to play Bossier Parish and Saturday to take on Panola.
Andres Ibarguen led the Cardinals with 17 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds.
Also scoring in double figures for the Cardinals were Brandon Holley with 15, all on three-pointers, Josh Stamps 13 and Hyron Edwards 11. Edwards also had seven assists.
The Cardinals were 9-of-13 from the free throw line. Paris was 24-of-36.
The Cardinals led 35-28 at the half, finishing the half on a 5-0 spurt.
By the 14:50 mark, they were in control of the scoreboard with a 51-35 advantage.
The win gave the Cardinals a sweep of Paris. They scored a 94-77 win at Paris in January.

Feb

09

Posted by : admin | On : February 9, 2017

Farmer, Amber
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Precinct 5 Constable Brad Miers reports the arrest of a woman with around 13 grams of illegal drugs Tuesday.
Amber Farmer, 33, of Athens was charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance greater than 4 grams and less than 200 grams, a first-degree felony and misdemeanor possession of a dangerous drug.
Miers was assisting the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office on a suspicious activity call on County Road 1405 off State Highway 31 between Malakoff and Athens. Dispatch received a report of a man being assaulted at a residence on CR 1405. Miers was the first to arrive and encountered Farmer in a vehicle at the residence. While questioning Farmer, it was learned that possibly people fled the scene on the Constable’s arrival.
A search of the vehicle and Farmer’s possessions uncovered a large amount of a crystal-like substance believed to be meth, along with numerous pills in a bag. She was taken into custody for transport to the county jail. That’s when Farmer admitted she had another bag on her person. Deputy Meagan Hogan conducted a search of Farmer’s person and located a bag containing a glass pipe, digital scales and clear small bags with a crystal

Feb

09

Posted by : admin | On : February 9, 2017

Lady_Cards

Special to The News
ATHENS–The Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals stayed unbeaten at home on the young season Tuesday afternoon with 3-0 and 6-5 wins against Hill College at Drumgoole Field at Cain Park.
It was the Lady Cardinals’ second sweep in as many home doubleheaders.
The wins improved the Lady Cardinals to 5-1 on the season heading into a doubleheader at home today against McLennan Community College. Action begins at 1 p.m.
GAME 1
Shelby Craig went the distance in the circle in the first game for the Lady Cardinals, allowing just three hits.
The Lady Cardinals also had just three hits, but also drew four walks. Three straight walks set the table for Alexi Santos to drive in a pair of runs with a two-out single in the third inning.
Kimberly Abundis and Shannon Klaus had the other two hits for the Lady Cardinals. Klaus had a lead-off triple in the first inning.
GAME 2
The Lady Cardinals had 12 hits in the second game and got a strong relief pitching performance from Kimberly Hughes. Hughes relieved Abundis after three and-two-third innings.
Hill managed just four hits against Abundis/Hughes, but benefited from six Lady Cardinal errors.
Breana Florez and Savannah Martinez led the Lady Cardinals at the plate. Florez had three hits (a double and two singles) and drove in two runs and Martinez had a home run (solo) and single.
Alyssa De Los Santos, Abundis and Klaus also had multiple-hit plate appearances with two singles each.
In the fifth inning, after having left the bases loaded to end the fourth, the Lady Cardinals scored three runs to wipe out a 5-3 Hill lead. De Los Santos drove in two and Hughes, in her first at-bat, drove in the other.
Hill advanced a runner to third with one out in the top of the seventh. Hughes got out the jam with a strikeout and groundout.

Feb

09

Posted by : admin | On : February 9, 2017

Athens Chamber of Commerce President Tara Rigby (right), and Chamber Office Manager Kristina Jacobson make a dynamic team as they plan to lead the chamber into the future.

Athens Chamber of Commerce President Tara Rigby (right), and Chamber Office Manager Kristina Jacobson make a dynamic team as they plan to lead the chamber into the future.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Athens Chamber of Commerce President Tara Rigby has a passion for connecting people and building community.
“We were created to live in community and I want people to know that I am here for them to build on our strenghths and partner together as different entities, young and old, to mend fences, build bridges and improve our commmunity,” said Rigby. And that is reflected in the mission statement “Serving to build a better community.”
Rigby was born and raised along the central coast of California, graduated from Santa Cruz High School, received her A.S. degree in Accountancy in Aptos and her B.S. degree in Business Administration from California State University in Fresno. During that time, she also studied abroad in London.
She moved to the Nashville, Tenn. area as part of a church planting team where she met and married her husband Lance, an accomplished musician and artist who specializes in wood carving. When their eldest daughter was nine months old, the couple relocated to Lacey, Wash. where they lived for 2 years and from there to Shelton, Wash. on the Olympic Peninsula side of the Puget Sound where they lived for 10 years.
Lance had family in Eustace and Tara in other areas of Texas and the couple visited the East Texas area frequently before moving in June, 2015. Rigby said “We had intentions of moving for some time, but things never seemed to line up right. In 2015, things came together.”
While in Shelton, one of Rigby’s major accomplishments was to found the Pioneer Community Food Bank. She was able to bring together resources and like-minded people to establish the food bank, which still exists to this day.
Her most recent position was as Operations Manager for the Cain Center until it was taken over by the city and closed for major renovations. In that position, she worked with a great staff of varied talents, she said, and they did great things as many community events were held there.
As President of the Chamber, Rigby sees herself as a member of a solid organization with a board of directors, 20 Ambassadors and many dedicated members. Kristina Jacobson serves as the Office Manager for the Chamber and together they make a dynamic team.
Rigby is impressed by the history and culture of the East Texas area and she said, “Athens has such a rich history and such great people. I love to get out there and meet our chamber members and learn about them and their businesses. There are so many citizens dedicated to improving the community and helping others. It’s really a special place and people are so welcoming and friendly.”
Membership in the chamber is up over 315 and she hopes to get to know them all, a few at a time as she visits businesses. She sees the Chamber as a resource, to partner with the city, county, college, schools, EDC and local business to strengthen the community and put on events that benefit the community. Some of the popular events include the “Taste of Athens’ which will be held Feb. 25, the “Go Texan” Rodeo held at the fairground, the farm and ranch tour and the Ladies Night Out in November.
She has some new ideas such as yard signs that can be put out to honor the monthly large and small business of the month and recognition for local teachers.
There is a lot to do but with her talent for bringing people together and her genuine love for people, the road ahead looks bright. As she says, her door is always open to the members of the community and she hopes to serve.

Feb

02

Posted by : admin | On : February 2, 2017

Keri Wilmeth is the newest member of the Athens Planning and Zoning Commission.

Keri Wilmeth is the newest member of the Athens Planning and Zoning Commission.


By Rachel Williams
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–The Athens City Council named an architectural/engineering firm to renovate the Cain Civic Aquatic Center Jan. 23. PGAL Architects, headquartered in Houston with offices in Dallas and Austin and founded in Texas in 1946, delivers international expertise with 11 regional offices and a staff of more than 200 architects, engineers, planners, and designers. The firm was named to the project after a qualifications-based assessment. The council members unanimously agreed PGAL Architects will provide the full complement of specialists and consultants to bring these facilities up-to-date. City Manager Philip Rodriguez is also authorized to execute an agreement, pending city attorney review.
The council also ordered an election for May 6 for Place 1, now held by Monte Montgomery and Mayor, held by Jerry Don Vaught. The city will share the costs of the election with Athens ISD by mutual agreement with Henderson County providing election services, and conducting Election Day voting.
Council members also held a public hearing on amendments proposed for mobile food vendors, subject to development standards and applicable zoning regulations, followed by a first reading of an ordinance pertaining to mobile food vendors. The city’s development services staff reviewed ordinances being used in other cities, including rules about restrooms, trash receptacles, proximity to brick-and-mortar restaurants and other items. Concerns about the disposal of grease and water was voiced. The item is expected to be listed for a second reading at a future council meeting. The next one is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13.
The council also considered a first reading of an ordinance which would provide entry level police officers a hiring incentive. The ordinance proposes offering new officers a $1,500 signing bonus on the first day of work and a second $1,500 payment before the end of the first year of service.
In other business, council members:
• appointed Keri Wilmeth to the Planning and Zoning Board.
• adopted a resolution outlining a legislative agenda. In general, the collection of statements support policies that protect “home rule” and local control, encourage the state to support its mandates with resources and promotes effective local governmental processes, city staffer Ryan Adams explained. The resolution also directs the city manager or his designee to act or represent the agenda when corresponding with elected officials in Austin.
The Texas 2017 regular legislative session began on Jan. 10 and will continue through May 29. About 6,000 bills are expected to be proposed during the 140 days the state representatives meet every two years. The legislative agenda will help lawmakers understand the Athens perspective and enable them to act on their constituents’ behalf. Representatives include Lance Gooden in the House and Robert Nichols in the Senate.
• Approved the purchase by the Athens Fire Department of a new lightweight model brush truck running slightly over budget at $96,489. Fire Chief John McQueary said the vehicle meets all design specifications.
• Approved a request from the Athens Economic Development Corporation for a letter of support for the City of Athens to be included within the Foreign Trade Zone.
• Authorized a lease agreement with Steven Eddy for T-Hanger No. 1 at Athens Municipal Airport.
• Authorized the city manager to execute a contract with Stantec for street improvements in support of FutureMatrix, Inc, using 2016 Texas Capital Fund.

Feb

02

Posted by : admin | On : February 2, 2017

Special to The News
ATHENS–Trinity Valley Community College announced Friday it will forfeit its upcoming women’s basketball games against Blinn College and Jacksonville College.
The forfeits are a result of all Lady Cardinal players having been ejected in a game Wednesday night at Kilgore College.
Leading 43-28 with 6:25 left in the third quarter, an altercation occurred near midcourt, resulting in players from both teams leaving the bench area and entering the court.
Following the ejection of all players from both teams, officials suspended the game.
The NJCAA has declared the game a no contest.
NJCAA rules state in the event of an ejection for a violent action, which leaving the bench during an on-court incident is considered, a player is suspended for two games.
“The events at the game disappoint us,” said TVCC president Dr. Jerry King. “We do not tolerate such behavior at Trinity Valley Community College and we take incidents like this very seriously.
“Our student-athletes must understand this, and that there are consequences for their actions. We have to make this a teachable moment with the understanding this is unacceptable.”
The Lady Cardinals went into the Kilgore game ranked No. 9 nationally with a 17-2 season record and perfect 9-0 conference mark.
The Lady Cardinals were scheduled to play Blinn at home Saturday at 2 p.m. Due to the game’s forfeiture, they will end their Cardinal Gym win streak, which began on Jan. 13, 2010, at 88 games.
Following an open date next Wednesday (Feb. 1), the Lady Cardinals were scheduled to take on Jacksonville on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. in the annual Play 4 Kay game.
That event has now been moved to Saturday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. against Paris.
The Lady Cardinals’ next scheduled game is Wednesday, Feb. 8, at San Jacinto.
Game time is 5:30 p.m. They will carry a 17-4 season record and 9-2 conference record into the game.
A similar ruling will likely affect the Kilgore College Lady Ranger basketball team.
The TVCC Cardinal men’s basketball team will take on Tyler at home on Saturday, Feb. 4 in a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Feb

02

Posted by : admin | On : February 2, 2017

Mikael Johnson
Special to The News
TYLER–A 35-year-old Trinidad, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston Jan. 25 in a press release.
Mikael Johnson pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2016, to distributing child pornography and was sentenced to 140 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark on Jan. 24, 2017.
According to information presented in court, on Dec. 14, 2015, Johnson knowingly sent another person child pornography by using the Internet, digital services that he owned and a social media application. Following an investigation, federal agents obtained and executed a search warrant at Johnson’s residence on Jan. 7, 2016. More than 600 images and videos containing child pornography were located and seized during the search. Johnson was arrested on that day and a federal grand jury returned an indictment on Jan. 20, 2016 charging him with federal child exploitation violations.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. [external link]
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Miller and U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division Trial Attorney Amy Larson.

Jan

26

Posted by : admin | On : January 26, 2017

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–The No. 9-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals took care of business Saturday against the No. 21-ranked Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies.
The Lady Cardinals won, 84-56, to improve to 17-2 overall and 9-0 in Region XIV conference play.
The victory extended the Lady Cardinals home win streak to 88 games.
The Lady Cardinals were led by Naomi Davenport with 14 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Leah Mathis had 11 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal, Monique Mills had 10 rebounds, and one assist and Shakeela Fowler had 10 points, eight assists, one rebound and one steal.
Christalah Lyons had eight points, Malaysia McHenry, Jordan Alexander and Rainey Kuykendall had six, while Dominique Mills and Dajah Daniel had four.
Trinity Valley returns to action Wednesday at Kilgore. The tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals improved to 16-4 overall and 7-2 in Region XIV conference play with a 94-77 victory at Paris Junior College Saturday.
The Cardinals trailed by 12 early in the second half against Paris before outscoring the Dragons 47-18 the rest of the way.
Hyron Edwards led the way with 25 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Jaime Echenique had 21 points, eight rebounds, one assist and two blocks and Amaad Wainright had 16 points, five rebounds, eight assists and one steal.
Josh Stamps had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists and Andres Ibarguen had seven points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
Brandon Holley and Ryan Preston had five points and Lorenzo Phillips had two points.
TVCC returns to action Wednesday at Cardinal Gym against Panola. The tip is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and is webcast by the Cardinal Sports Network.
On Saturday, the Cardinals travel to Corsicana to face Navarro at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast by KCKL 95.9 FM and online at www.kcklfm.com.

Jan

26

Posted by : admin | On : January 26, 2017

Athens girls BB #20

The News Staff Reports
MEXIA–The Athens Lady Hornets lost on the road to its district rival Mexia Lady Cats Jan. 24, 66-34.
The loss drops the Lady Hornets overall record to 5-10 on the season and 0-5 in District 18-4A play. Mexia won the first meeting by a similar score, 62-30.
At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Cats held an 18-6 lead and extended the lead to 36-14 at the half.
The Lady Hornets were at their best in the third quarter, outscoring Mexia, 18-14 to cut the deficit to within 50-32. The fourth quarter wasn’t as good for them and Athens was outscored 16-2 for the 66-34 finale.
The Lady Hornets were led in scoring by Raveon Rodriguez with 10 points. Tamaya Hubbard had eight, Hallie Williams had six, Kelcee Johnson and Asha Chilton had four and Aaliyah Minifee had two.
AHS returns to action Friday as they host Fairfield at 6:15 p.m. at AHS Gymnasium.
Athens is scheduled to wrap up the season Jan. 31 at Palestine and Feb. 3 against Madisonville for Senior Night at AHS gymnasium.