Jun

20

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 20, 2013

June 17 Athens fire

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

ATHENS-Athens firefighters responded quickly to a house fire at 911 Cayuga Drive Monday afternoon. A passerby called in the fire after seeing thick, black smoke billowing from the home just after 4 p.m.

Athens Fire Chief John McQuery says flames were coming from the back of the structure and his men had to break down the locked front door. It took about 20 minutes to put out the blaze and clear the smoke.

Nine firefighters were involved, in full gear, using both the ladder truck and the pumper truck to extinguish the blaze.
McQuery reports the fire started in the back of the home, near the bedroom. The home sustained major smoke and water damage and the roof is completely destroyed.

The owner was away at the time and didn’t learn about it until the following day.
Athens Fire Marshall Ronnie Denton is conducting the official fire investigation. The home is not insured, the Athens Fire Department provided Red Cross contact information to the homeowner to help with any emergency needs.

Jun

17

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 17, 2013

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

ATHENS-The Athens City Council accepted a bid from Lone Star Equipment to begin repairs and top sealing various roads in Athens. Council members accepted the recommendation of Director of Utilities Glen Herriage, based on experience of previous projects and a competitive bid of $176,886, submitted by the contractor.

Many roads are in serious need of repair, Herriage said. Roads scheduled for repairs, preventative maintenance and seal coating are: Bunny Rabbit, Crestway Street., Lover Lane, St.Thomas, Prairieville, Ben Belt, Laird, W.Clinton, Ford, N.Pinkerton, Murchison, N.Wofford and Baker.

No start date was announced for the top seal 2013 project.

The council also approved $53,000 for water line improvements and expansions on a section of Gibson Road and Robbins Road.
Finally, the council adopted by resolution a Rate Review Mechanism agreement with Atmos Energy. This describes the process for cities to negotiate rate increases with the natural gas utility.

Mar

14

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 14, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The Nerws Staff

ATHENS–The TVCC Lady Cardinals are returning to the Women’s NJCAA Division I National Championship in Salina, Kansas March 18-23.

TVCC (32-1) is the No. 1-ranked Division I junior college team in the country and enters the tournament as the defending champions.

The Lady Cardinals will be making the trip to the women’s basketball championships for the sixth consecutive season. They have been nearly unbeatable for almost two years running.

According to TVCC Sports Information, they have not lost on the floor since the 2011 title game against North Idaho, winning 67 of their last 68 matches. Their one loss this year came by forfeit to Weatherford.

This year’s trip to the national championships will be the 18th in school history.

The Lady Cardinals advanced to the championships after winning the regional tournament March 9 in Tyler. They continue to be a model of consistency, advancing to the regional tournament finals 20 times in the last 22 years.

TVCC defeated the No. 8-ranked Blinn Buccaneers 69-58 to secure their place in Kansas. Blinn was a top team all year, as supported by their ranking, but couldn’t get past the roadblock that was TVCC. Blinn lost to the Lady Cards three times in the 2012-2013 season, including 94-88 overtime loss in the last game of the regular season.

After the regional tournament was decided, freshman Lady Cardinal Shlonte’ Allen was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, as well as league Co-MVP with Blinn’s Ausrisa Harrison. Teammates Adut Bulgak, Shannon Smith and Krystle Henderson were also named All-Region and to the all-tournament team. TVCC sophomore Savannah Carter was named to the all-conference team.

TVCC has a bye for the first round of the tournament and will not play Monday. The Lady Cardinals take on the winner of No. 16 Weatherford (24-5) and No. 17 Northeast (28-4) at 2 p.m. March 19.

Mar

08

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 8, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

Alan Coleman wants to help you help yourself.

That’s why he, and the folks at Gates Community Church in Athens, started The Chariot bus service last year.
The ministry’s motivation is simple: there is a need in the community and Gates Community can do something about it.

“I’ve been pastoring here for 13 years,” Coleman said. “As time went on the need to help people get to work just kept coming up, and as Christians we are called to minister to the whole man, not just the spirit.”
Coleman explained it another way. He believes in a “church without walls.”

“We don’t just give a man a fish,” he explained. “We help him get the fish himself.”

The fish, or course, is the symbol of provision. And Coleman says nothing can replace the dignity a man feels when he provides for his own family. It’s that dignity that he assists Athens residents achieve everyday.
Gates Community Church recently expanded its bus ministry from trips to Tyler to additional trips to workplaces in Athens. It was the expansion of the ministry that caught The New’s attention and prompted the interview.

Coleman says the biggest challenge the ministry faces is a financial one.

To cut costs and make sure Chariot wasn’t spending too much money, adjustments had to be made to the routes shortly after the ministry was launched.

“We found out real quick that saving 3-4 miles a day means something,” Coleman said. Over the course of a year, reducing driving by a block can save thousands of dollars.”

There may be some financial help to the ministry on the horizon.

TxDOT told Alan that there will be public funding for them in the future, but Chariot has some time to wait–it wont come until 2014.

Alan’s faith sustains him.

“I really believe that we are being tested by God,” he said. “We just need to hold on, be faithful and good stewards of what we have right now, and we will be rewarded in the future.”

Currently all of the certified CDL (Commercial Drivers Licence) drivers they have work on a volunteer basis. Alan would love for the ministry to grow to a place where the drivers would be paid for their service. In the meantime, Alan allows the drivers to take the small busses to their work places ease the burden.

Gates Community Church is actively seeking donations to support the Chariot bus ministry.

Ticket costs are $5 each way to Tyler and $2 each way to work in Athens.

To donate, or for more details on tickets visit their website at http://www.thechariotbuslines.com or call 877-776-4335.

Mar

01

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 1, 2013

By Erik Walsh and
Lace Donaghe
The News Staff

ATHENS–It was a night of joy and disappointment at the Athens City Council chambers Feb. 25 – joy for the splash pad supporters and disappointment for advocates of a proposed veterans rehabilitation center – with a capacity, standing room only crowd in attendance.

The splash pad continued to gain momentum Monday night when the Athens Economic Development Corporation’s Grant of $20,000 to the Athens Chamber of Commerce was unanimously approved by the city council. This brings the total for construction of a splash pad at Kiwanis Park to about $140,000 of its $200,000 fundraising goal.
Audience members in the council chambers clapped and cheered when the proposed grant was approved.
The room was much more stoic when the decision was made to take no action on a request to rezone the old hospital site.

Property developer Babit LLC had requested a rezoning of the property from office use to multifamily residential-5.

Babit principal Kevin Hambrick proposes to transform the old building into a rehab center for veterans.
After more than twenty minutes of hearing concerns from residents and nearby business owners – ranging from safety issues to rezoning complications – and receiving feedback from Hambrick, the council ultimately took no action.

“I love the idea of helping veteran,” Mayor Jerry Don Vaught said. “But its important to get the zoning right before we approve the project.”

The reason for the unanimous council decision–with whispers and public comments from the crowd in agreement–was the long term ramification of a zoning change. If the Veterans Rehabilitation Center fell through, the property would still be rezoned and available for sale. Potentially, Hambrick could sell the property and an apartment complex or low-income housing could be built. That was a prospect the council was not ready to embrace.

Though the council took no action, Councilwoman Elaine Jenkens was in favor of the idea and wants to do something to help veterans.

“If there is a zoning issue we need to address, that’s fine, but we should assist the men and women that have put themselves in harm’s way for us.”

The rehab center could cost up to $8 million to build and house around 300 veterans, who served in the military dating back to the Korean War. While there, veterans would be given shelter and job skills to reenter the workforce.

For the Rehabilitation Center to continue, the Planning and Zoning Commission will need to recommend a specific-use permit, and letters to nearby residences and businesses could then be reissued to inform the community.

In other action, council members:
• ordered a city election for May 11, to be conducted jointly with the Athens Independent School District. An agreement with Henderson County was also approved to provide election services.
• adopted a resolution, as required by Texas Community Development Block Grant Program.
• opted out of the PEG Fee by Holders of State Issued Certificate of Franchise Authority. Otherwise local consumers would have been affected by the addition of a 1 percent franchise fee.
• granted the use of city equipment, labor and estimated water usage valued at about $14,596 for the Splash Pad Project at Kiwanis Park and waived all city fees for its construction.
• awarded the bid for a current model half-ton, 4X4, crew cab, four-door pickup for the fire department, to Grapevine Dodge at $22,319.
• awarded bids for a current model two-wheel drive farm tractor with cab, to Athens Tractor and Equipment at $47,535.41 and a current model 17-foot rear-mount boom cutter, to W.C. Tractor at $22,000, both for the Public Health & Safety Department.

Oct

11

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : October 11, 2012

State Sen. Robert Nichols met yesterday with school superintendents from Cherokee, Anderson and Henderson counties to talk about education issues and the upcoming Legislative Session. I’m working on a story for next week, but two quick things I noticed: It looks like the meeting took place in Athens, and in the above photo distributed by the senator’s office, that’s Cross Roads ISD Superintendent Clay Tompkins (left) sitting next to Nichols.

– Michael V. Hannigan

Oct

08

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : October 8, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan

The Athens ISD Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, to discuss “the employment status of (the) superintendent and the position of superintendent.”

The move comes after the announcement last week that Superintendent Dr. Robert Steeber has tentatively accepted the position is the Deputy Executive Director of Administrative Services with the Region XI Educational Service Center.

Steeber has only been with the district for about a year. He replaced Dr. Fred Hayes.