The News Staff Reports
MEXIA–The Athens Lady Hornets started their District 18-4A matchup against Mexia on a great note. The Lady Hornets led 16-15 after one period of play, but struggled for points the rest of the way as Mexia beat the Lady Hornets 62-30 Jan 6 at Mexia High School gym.
Going into the second quarter, the Lady Hornets playing with Mexia point for point, but their shooting went ice cold in the quarter and Mexia took a 32-17 lead into halftime.
Mexia kept up the offensive pressure, scoring 14 points in the third quarter to lead 46-23 heading to the final frame. The Black Cats continued their offensive onslaught, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter for the 62-30 final.
The Lady Hornets were led by Raveon Rodriguez with eight points, while Jennifer Bradford and Asha Chilton each chipped in five points. Jazzmine Johnson added four points, Tamya Hubbard tossed in three points, Taylor Stiles and Kara Smith each had two points and Hallie Williams scored one point for the Lady Hornets in the game.
The Lady Hornets are now 0-1 in district play, and will play at home at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13 against Palestine.
Posted by : January 12, 2017| On :
The News Staff Reports
Posted by : January 12, 2017| On :
By Rachel Williams
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–With a waiting list a year long for hangar space at the municipal airport, Athens City Council members are looking at ways to capture that lost revenue through a master plan to expand the airport’s capacity. However, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that all repairs be completed first.
The Athens Municipal Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located southeast of the central business district of Athens. Since the summer of 2016, city officials and the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) have coordinated efforts to conduct required maintenance on critical sections of the airport, such as the taxiway. Funding for maintenance projects comes from a variety of sources, including city, state and national designated for airport upkeep.
On Monday, a master plan was discussed for the airport. The major options in front of the master planners are expanding the airport itself or increasing the number of hangars available for lease. At current capacity, the airport can host at least 6,000 aircraft operations in a year. Expanding the airport will only increase activity, thus increasing revenue.
Increasing the number of hangars at the airport, will allow those on the current hangar waiting list the opportunity to store their aircraft. A hangar waiting list has been in place for more than a year. Hangar leases are renewed annually and two new lessees will be removed from the waiting list to use hangars left unleased at the close of fiscal year 2016. As part of the master planning process, analysis will be conducted to ensure that hangar leases are appropriate for the market. The master planners will consider all options in the development of the best case scenario for Athens Municipal Airport.
The city council is also seeking public input during a special meeting planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the Partnership Center, 201 W. Corsicana St. in Athens to discuss capital improvements and changes to the water treatment plant. At a recent meeting, repairs to an existing water well were discussed. By shortening the well, adding a vacuum and two pressure reliefs, the water system will now have greater capacity. Additionally, the ground water drawn from this well will not require as much treatment as surface water does.
In other business, the city council:
• Approved the implementation of a Records Management Program.
• Resolved to apply to TEXSTAR, an investment service created by local governments for local governments, as a means of diversifying the city’s portfolio of investments.
• Approved a request from the Athens Economic Development Corporation regarding Minor Plat, Lot 6 Block 1 Industrial Park Addition, Unit III.
Posted by : January 5, 2017| On :
Posted by : January 5, 2017| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS—A man with two prior offenses for driving under the influence of alcohol has been charged with a third drunk driving charge. This one in connection with the death of his passenger.
Raymond Don Crutcher, 34, of Athens was booked into the Henderson County Jail after his passenger in a Dec. 18 wreck died Christmas Day from her injuries. Crutcher now faces a charge of Intoxicated Manslaughter with a Motor Vehicle. He is being held on a $200,000 bond. Crutcher was arrested at a residence on Waverly Way Dec. 28.
The Athens Police Department reports the wreck happened in the 800 block of East Tyler Street shortly before 11 p.m. Dec. 18. Crutcher was driving a 2011-model Jeep when it left the highway and hit two power poles.
His passenger, 27-year-old Ruth Morales was injured and transferred for emergency medical care. Crutcher was charged with Intoxicated Assault with Motor Vehicle and Driving While Intoxicated. He was released the same day on bonds totaling $14,500. He remains incarcerated again with the new manslaughter charge.
His past criminal record begins at age 18 with a DUI in 2001 for which he paid a $500 fine. He repeated the offense in 2003 at age 19, and was convicted of a DWI the next year at age 20, for which he pleaded guilty and paid $1,216. All three offenses occurred in the month of June. Crutcher was born in October. The fourth drunk driving charge resulted in the death of his passenger.
Posted by : December 29, 2016| On :
HENDERSON COUNTY–2016 may well go down in history for its tumultuous and many would say dysfunctional election season which began with contentious primaries. The outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election, drew about 1.4 million more Americans in this year’s election than in 2012, but the numbers of those eligible to vote also rose during the interval. Approximately 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the presidential election, according to the latest estimates from Michael McDonald, associate professor at the University of Florida, who gathers data at the U.S. Elections Project, down from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 percent in 2008, which was the highest mark in 40 years. Turnout remained well above levels for most presidential election years from 1972 to 2000.
The outcome seated capitalist businessman and non-politician Republican candidate Donald Trump as this country’s 45th top executive. The upset was one of just five elections in our nation’s history where the Electoral majority votes outweighed the popular vote, which went to Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton. Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. Clinton won 48.3 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 46.2 percent. The electoral college system was put in place by the nation’s founders to ensure cooperation across all segments of American society as explained by Prager University.
Locally, the elections while less contentious, resulted in one recount in the Republican primary for the Henderson County Sheriff race which was between long-term Henderson County Law Enforcement employees Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse and Criminal Investigator Billy Jack Valentine. Ultimately, Hillhouse was declared the winner by a margin of 61 votes, proving to many that every vote counts. Hillhouse took office on June 1 upon Sheriff Ray Nutt’s retirement on May 31.
Storms hit the area
A 70-mph tornado which hit Eustace late in December, 2015 was major news the first part of January as damage was surveyed. The twister, estimated to be 40 yards wide had stayed on the ground for approximately three minutes. Other parts of Texas, especially the Rowlett/Garland area were much worse and Payne Springs VFD assisted there.
March 8 brought more severe storms with straight line winds and reported tornadoes damaging areas of Malakoff, including the Flagg House which was built by Harry Flagg in 1921 and now serves as the Malakoff Historical Society and museum, along with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Schools make the grade
Many area schools proudly displayed banners touting their achievements as Texas Education Agency announced ratings but one school stood out. Malakoff ISD achieved back-to-back annual national recognitions as Blue Ribbon Schools. In 2016, Tool Elementary School joined Malakoff Elementary School (2015 recipient) in gaining the honor this year, under the direction of all the teachers and Principal Christal Calhoun. Tool Elementary was one of 26 Texas schools nominated to receive the award.
Every year, the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, which demonstrate that all students can achieve to high levels. More than 7,500 of schools across the country have been presented with this coveted award. The National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely-recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. Calhoun, along with teachers Kristi Dalrymple, Tasha French and Kristina Page attended a two-day ceremony in Washington, D.C. Nov. 7-8 to celebrate their achievement. After returning, Tool Elementary School celebrated the honors Nov. 16 with all of the students and about 100 community members.
In addition, the Malakoff Tigers Football Team broke a school record making it into the final round of statewide competition on the gridiron. A parade and celebration are being planned to honor the high achievement of the student athletes at Malakoff ISD.
Trinity Valley Community College made plans for future expansion with the purchase of the former National Guard Armory and adjacent Central Park Nov. 28. In similar fashion, TVCC purchased the former hospital site on State Highway 34 in Terrell to establish a Health Science Center.
Law Enforcement in the News
Another record-breaker was seen in the ending of the longest standoff with law enforcement this country has never heard about. The 15-year standoff with the law, came to an end Jan. 6, as a result of a news reporter informing the Henderson County authorities that the Anderson County DA’s Office had dropped charges against John Joe Gray. News of the dropped charge came to light in the aftermath of another armed standoff on public lands in Oregon. Gray, now 66, was arrested in 1999 for assaulting a state trooper during a traffic stop in Anderson County. Gray said it was his God-given right to carry the pistol he had that day, without a concealed handgun license. When the trooper tried to arrest him, Gray admits getting into a scuffle and biting him.
Gray was eventually charged with assaulting a public servant. But after being freed on bail, he refused to return to court, and instead, armed himself at home.
“If they come out after us, bring extra body bags. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” Gray told ABC News in a 2000 interview.
Since the felony charge in 1999, Gray reportedly hadn’t left his 47 acres along the banks of the Trinity River between Tool and Trinidad. The impasse may well be the longest armed standoff in American history, which few knew anything about.
2016 came in allowing those licensed to own a gun to carry it in a holster without needing to conceal it. A bunch more rules were erected around the practice, regarding places of instruction and education and its prohibition if a sign is posted at private or public buildings restricting it.
Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse hit the ground running when he took office on June 1 and has been a frequent contributor to major news stories as he and his deputies crack down on drugs in Henderson County. In the last six months, Hillhouse’s campaign against illegal drugs has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests, most for drugs and drug related crime.
On the Tigers’ charge to the football finals, Malakoff ISD Police Chief Stacy Hillhouse distinguished herself with fast action at an away game when Malakoff played the Teague team in Palestine. Hillhouse effectively disarmed a volatile shooting altercation between two Teague fans in the parking lot prior to the gridiron action. She held the perpetrator until local police officers could arrive on the scene. She was recognized by the Malakoff School Board for her heroism and quick response to the situation.
The City of Athens saw the long time battle of what to do with the abandoned hospital resolved when it all came tumbling down as the hospital was demolished in January.
The city took over the Cain Center and began major renovations which include relocation of municipal offices and improvement of the pool and recreational facilities. To get all the work done, the Cain Center will remain closed for all of 2017.
Malakoff saw the move of McDonalds to a new location and the grand opening of the new Whataburger as well as some work on downtown buildings.
The Henderson County Commissioners Court announced in April its final payment on the 2005 county jail expansion, making the county debt free for the first time in recent history.
The Athens branch of Trinity Valley Community College was on the receiving end of the largest single endowment in its history when Athens attorney Nancy Perkins pledged a multi-million-dollar gift in honor of her mother, naming the Trinity Valley Community College Foundation as the beneficiary of her entire estate, Pauline Perkins was the first secretary to college founder and President Orval Pirtle, and ultimately became the longest-living member of the original faculty. Pauline passed away May 22, 2016 at the age of 90. Nancy presented a 1946-47 signed yearbook belonging to her mother to the TVCC Foundation as a token of the gift. While at the college, Pauline studied to obtain her teaching degree and fulfilled a 27-year career in education. Her first position was as a sixth grade teacher for the Mabank school district, Nancy said, though most of her mother’s teaching was at the middle and high schools in Athens. She retired from teaching in 1989 but continued to live a life of service, assisting her daughter in her law practice. “TVCC is where my mother began her professional career and where she was happiest,” Nancy told representatives of the college. “Her gift is her legacy, which we believe will help future generations and will forever commemorate her beauty and generosity.” Nancy Perkins is a practicing attorney throughout the state of Texas and a Mabank High School 1973 Valedictorian. “It is because of her encouragement that I have what I have,” she told The News.
Those we lost
Losses of local citizens who impacted many of us by their leadership and service include Henderson County Extension Agent Rick Hirsch. Hirsch was honored as Agriculturist of the Year and in October a stone memorial was laid in the DREAM garden of the East Texas Arboretum by the Henderson County Master Gardeners.
Randy Thornhill, an acclaimed author who lived in Malakoff in his younger days died on May 6. He had written two novels In the Southern Gothic style that made the top 20 list in 2015 of the best Southern America novels ever written as compiled by Oxford American, the Southern literary magazine.
Malakoff Heads gain a home
Three large enigmatic stones, referred to as the Malakoff Heads, found a permanent home in the Cook Education Center of the Pearce Museum of the Navarro College Campus in Corsicana.
Two of the heads (No. 1 and No. 3 – found in 1939 in the same general location between Mala-koff and Trinidad , in the Trinity River Valley overlooking Cedar Creek) have been stored with the University of Texas.
Experts have studied and argued about the Great Depression,-era finds. Some saying they are the oldest human artifacts uncovered in North America (10,000+ years ago). Others place them at a more recent Archaic Period (6,000 or less years ago).
People in The News
2016 brought many distinctions and awards as well as new jobs for many. This is by no means an exhaustive list as we are sure to miss some.
Athens High School graduate and businessman Drew Douglas was named 2015 Athens Citizen of the Year by the Athens Chamber of Commerce Jan. 22.
Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) Vice President of Instruction Dr. Jerry King was named President Pro Tem of the college May 2.
Three cities named new Police chiefs; Rickey Smith in Trinidad; Darrell Dean in Kemp and Raymond Wennerstrom as police administrator in Seven Points
Region 7 Education Service Center announced that Palestine ISD Superintendent of Schools Jason Marshall had been selected as the 2016 Region 7 Superin-tendent of the Year. Region 7 serves many districts in East Texas, including Athens, Cross Roads, Malakoff and Trinidad.
Court Appointed Spe-cial Advocates (CASA) of Trinity Valley announced that resource development officer Emily Heglund would replace Lee Ann Millender as the organization’s executive director.
Athens High School class of 1940 graduate Vivian Anderson Castleberry 1977 AHS graduate Drew Douglas and the late historic Athens educator R. C. Fisher were inducted to the Hornet Hall of Fame.
Athens native John Torrez was named national Postal Customer Council member for 2016
Other worthies recognized for their achievements include Joe Walenta, local musician and band leader, who was inducted into the Western Swing Music Hall of Fame this year; Outstanding Principal of the Year for Region 7 Eustace Middle School administrator Truman Oakley; and Malakoff Elementary School Principal Ronny Snow nominated one of nine Texas National Distinguished Principal finalists.
Four Athens volunteers were applauded during the mayor ’s third annual Outstanding Leadership Luncheon Oct. 26. Athens Mayor Jerry Don Vaught recognized Steve Grant, Ginger Morton, Mary Lynn Smith and John Glover for the strong leadership they exhibited making life better for everyone living in the city. Ginger Morton and John Glover were the Grand Marshals at the Athens Christmas Parade.
There were festivals and parades, beautiful ceremonies honoring Veterans, celebrations and many good works by citizens and groups. It was a newsworthy year in every sense of the word and we at The News look forward to 2017.
Posted by : December 29, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Two Athens men were arrested following a traffic stop on drug charges Tuesday. A press release from Sheriff Botie Hillhouse stated a large quantity of suspected methamphetamine, along with other drugs were found in the vehicle with them.
Brunzwick Jones, 45, and Laquntia Jones, 23, were traveling on Gaunt Street when narcotics investigator Josh Rickman and Deputy Kyle Pochobradsky observed a traffic violation. A search of the vehicle located “a large amount of crystal like substance we believe to be methamphetamine,” Hillhouse stated. Authorities also found pills of unknown substance and marijuana.
The men were charged with manufacture/delivery of controlled substances greater than 4 grams and less than 200 grams. The elder Jones was also charged with driving without a valid license. Both men are being held on bonds totaling $12,500 each.
Brunzwick has an arrest record dating back to 1988 with several sentences to jail time. This is Laquntia’s first drug offense, two previous offenses related to driving without license and financial responsibility.
If found guilty of the first-degree felony, the men could be jailed from five to 99 years and be fined up to $10,000 each. Hillhouse said the arrests are part of his continuing mission to eradicate drugs from the county, along with those who sell them and those who use them.
“As long as they don’t stop,” Hillhouse stated, “we don’t stop.” He added the message is also making its way to those who would bring drugs into the county.
Posted by : December 22, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS– A traffic stop in Athens Monday resulted in the arrest of the driver on two felony charges, related to suspected methamphetamine.
Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports Michael Brian Jones, 42 of Poynor, was observed committing a traffic violation on U.S. Hwy 175 in the city.
Narcotic Investigator Josh Rickman pulled him over and saw the suspect throw a silver wrapper out the drivers’ window.
Rickman located the wrapper which contained a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine, and during a search of the vehicle, more of the illegal substance was found on the floorboard.
“Even during the holiday season, we find these folks and we find their drugs,” Hillhouse said. “It is a problem that I am committed to working on, one arrest at a time, until the users and dealers know they cannot bring their poison into this County.”
Jones faces a third-degree felony, punishable by a term of not more than 10 years or less than two years in the Texas Department of Corrections – and a fine of up to $10,000 – for tampering with evidence.
He also faces a state felony charge, punishable by term of up to two years in jail – and a fine of up to $10,000 – for possession of the methamphetamine.
“Our Investigators and Deputies are out around the clock all over Henderson County looking for these folks,” Hillhouse said.
Jones, whose criminal record dates back to 1999, is being held on bonds totaling $13,000 for Possession of a Controlled Substance less than one gram and Tampering with Physical Evidence.
Posted by : December 15, 2016| On :
News Staff Reports
BROWNSBORO–The Athens Hornets continued their torrid start to the season by winning the Great East Texas Shootout in Brownsboro Dec. 8-10.
The Hornets went 5-0 in the tournament, winning the tournament championship by beating Mexia in the title game, 76-64.
In the championship, the Hornets raced out to a 22-13 lead after one quarter of play, highlighted by a 7-0 run midway through the quarter. Athens added to its lead by halftime, going into the locker room with a 36-24 lead on the Blackcats.
Athens’ up tempo style started to wear on Mexia, as the Hornets hounded the Blackcats into bad shots. Athens continued its pace, scoring 20 points in both the third and fourth quarters to keep the 12-point lead they had at halftime, winning by that same 12-point margin. Athens Head Basketball Coach Cliff Thompson was happy with the way his team played in the tournament, and said the Kemp win was the toughest of all. “We played very solid on-ball defense which created many transition opportunities for us, and we did a good job of finishing when we got those opportunities.” Thompson said.
In the victory, Javiry Bowman led the Hornets with 21 points, followed by Miles Koehler with 18 and Jabrile Richardson 15.
Gary Lyons tossed in nine points, Casey Wilson chipped in six, Cam Ray had three points and Xavius Fulton and Chris Taylor had two points apiece.
To get to the title game, the Hornets beat a very good Crockett team and almost reached triple digits in the process, 94-59.
The Hornets led 23-7 after one period. Crockett cut the lead at halftime to 43-33. After a third quarter that saw Crockett cut the margin to 11 points, the Hornets ran away with the game in the fourth and final period.
The Hornets outscored Crockett 31-8 in the quarter to win going away.
The Hornets played one game Friday and beat Kemp 67-66 in the closest game of the tournament for them. The Hornets led by nine after the first quarter, and by eight at halftime. Kemp stormed back in the third quarter to take a four-point lead into the final quarter, before the Hornets regrouped and came back for the one-point win.
Koehler paced the Hornets with 19 points. Bowman had 16 points, Lyons and Brandon Arroyo each added eight points, Fulton had two points and Ray one point in the victory.
Thompson said this game was the toughest one of the tournament for the Hornets. “They did a good job defensively of taking away our driving lanes and making it difficult for us to get the ball inside. They built a lead in the 2nd half and we had to come back from down 8 or 10 points in the 3rd, but our kids responded well in the 4th and found ways to score and get stops when it counted,” Thompson said. “It was not a pretty win but I was proud of the way they finished the game after having a down 2nd and 3rd quarter.”
The Hornets went 2-0 on the first day of the tournament, beating Longview Pine Tree 68-61, and Nevada Community 82-69.
The Hornets improved to 11-2 on the season, and will play on the road at Kaufman at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16.
Posted by : December 8, 2016| On :
By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Trinity Valley Community College parking lot was ablaze with Christmas lights as participants gathered for the “Home for Christmas” parade Dec. 6.
The parade, originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, was a huge success despite being rescheduled on a weekday. It was reported to The News that there were over 50 entries in the contest.
The parade kicked off with cars carrying the Grand Marshals Ginger Morton and John Glover along with the mayor, city manager and the city council. Notable personalities for the children were Ronald McDonald, Grimace, Olaf, the Grinch and of course, Santa Claus.
The Church of the Living God did a series of floats that depicted the Christmas Nativity story with characters and banners with Bible verses.
Brinson Ford was the first-place winner with a “Grinch” themed float complete with a larger-than-life Whoville. Athens Café took second place with a realistic dining theme and Bristol Hospice took third place with princesses in a beautiful holiday setting.
Citizens lined the streets, the band performed and Christmas music played from many of the floats, bringing everyone into the Christmas spirit.
Posted by : December 8, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ELKHART–The Athens Lady Hornets finished 2-1 at the Elkhart tournament Dec. 1-3, beating Wells and Neches, and falling to Leon. Junior Raveon Rodriguez was named to the All-tournament team for her performance in the three games after averaging 22 points a game in the tournament.
The Lady Hornets started the tournament with a tough matchup against Leon. The Lady Hornets were tied with Leon after one quarter at 8-8. Athens’ defense held Leon to just six points in the second quarter, taking an 18-14 lead into halftime.
Leon came out firing in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Hornets 18-11 in the frame, to go ahead 32-29 heading into the final period. Leon kept the pressure on, holding the Lady Hornets to just 4 points in the final frame to win going away, 44-33. In the game, Raveon Rodriguez had 18 points, followed by Kelcee Johnson with 11. Hallie Williams and Tamaya Hubbard each scored two points in the loss.
The Lady Hornets came back the next day to take a 57-21 win over Neches. Leading 9-8 after one period, the Lady Hornets tallied 16 points in the second, going into the locker room at halftime with a 25-13 lead. The offense exploded for 20 points in the third quarter, taking a 45-19 lead after three quarters. The defense held Neches to just one bucket in the fourth quarter as the Lady Hornets ran away with a 36-point win.
In their final game of the tournament against Wells, the Lady Hornets raced out to a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was full of scoring, as each team put up 20 points in the quarter, as the Lady Hornets took a nine-point lead to halftime. Led by 30 points from Rodriguez, the Lady Hornets kept momentum going in the second half to win 63-48. Raveon Rodriguez led Athens with 30 points. Jazzmine Johnson scored 10 points, followed by K. Johnson with eight points, Smith with six, Williams with five and Chilton with two points.
Athens Head Coach Emily Martinez was happy with the way her team played. “I’m very proud of the hustle and effort given by all the girls today,” Coach Martinez said. “The girls played well. Lots of forced turnovers led to easy baskets for us. Williams, Smith and Chilton did a great job clearing the boards. Johnson was an offensive spark off the bench. R. Rodriguez, Hubbard and Kelcee Johnson led the defensive charge, forcing Wells into multiple turnovers.” The Lady Hornets improve to 4-6 this season and will be in action Dec. 8-10 at the Great East Texas Shootout in Brownsboro.