By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–More than 100 souls came out for a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Jeb Hensarling Aug.3 at the Senior Center in Athens. Each audience member who wanted to comment or ask a question was given two minutes to present, after which the 5th District Congressman from Texas responded.
The meeting was prefaced with a prayer by local minister Mark Hall, who asked God’s forgiveness for America’s departure from its founding principles of truth, morality and justice and asked courage on behalf of local citizens to stand united against tyranny and injustice.
The first question taken asked why so many Republicans in national office talk down about Donald Trump. “Why is he regarded so poorly?”
“I have publicly endorsed him as the Republican nominee for president, even though he wasn’t my first choice,” Hensarling responded. “I don’t know how he would govern, but I do know how Hillary Clinton will, and I vehemently oppose all her major policies. We can’t allow another liberal to be named to the Supreme Court for a generation. Further, I know Mike Pence, well. He’s a true conservative leader of high moral character and integrity. It speaks volumes that Trump named him as his running mate. I have no problem endorsing Trump, but reserve the right to disagree with him from time to time.”
Most of the other questions and comments had similar responses, pointing out that a change in the White House will be able to solve a lot of the issues under discussion. Those included dissolving the Sanctuary City program, birth-right citizenship to children of illegals, entitlement programs that attract illegal immigrants, accepting immigration from enemy countries such as Syria and Iraq and requiring work from welfare recipients.
Commenting on the latest news, Hensarling said Congress would launch a full investigation into the $400 million payment from the administration to Iran and the subsequent return of three Americans being held in Iran. “The paying of ransom for hostages is against U.S. policy and hadn’t been approved by the House,” he said.
Someone asked why Congress and the president were not enforcing the McCarran–Walter Act of 1952, which was enacted over President Truman’s veto. Sponsor Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nevada), in a speech on the Senate floor March 2,1953 defended the legislation with these words:
“I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. … However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. … I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation’s downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation.”
Posted by : August 11, 2016| On :
Posted by : August 11, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
EUSTACE–The Athens Lady Hornets started the season off right with a 3-0 victory over Mildred during the first game of a triple header at E.L. Kirk Gymnasium in Eustace Aug. 9.
The Lady Hornets won all three sets by scores of 25-9, 25-11 and 25-15.
In the first match of the night, the Lady Hornets looked sharp from the whistle, scoring the first seven points against the Lady Eagles.
Athens opened with a kill from Alicia Grogan off an assist from McKenzie Fowler. Fowler had back-to-back kills during the opening set to open things up for the Lady Hornets.
Following a kill by Mildred, Athens went on another mini run to extend the lead to 11-1.
The final point of the first set came on a kill from Jennifer Bradford for the 25-9 finale.
The second set started off tighter between the two teams until Athens scored the final seven points of the game to pull away late and take the 2-0 lead.
With the Lady Hornets up 22-11 on a kill by Nicole Hill, Sam Smith followed with an ace and the combination of Fowler and Hill put it away with a kill from Hill.
In the final set, Hill had three kills late while Smith had two aces for the final six points of the match.
“I thought we played well for it being our first game,” Athens coach Kayla Benton said. “We still have some stuff that we need to work on but I think that we will have everything worked out by the time district play starts. We have a lot of senior leadership on this team and it really showed today.”
The victory made Athens 1-0 on the season.
Posted by : August 4, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff
ATHENS–In view of the next two-week weather forecast with high temperatures in the triple digits and no rain in sight, Henderson County Commissioners agreed to post a burn ban as recommended by County Fire Marshal Shane Renberg. Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence opposed the action.
The ban went into effect immediately, Tuesday, Aug. 2 and lasts for the next 28 days unless the court rescinds it due to improved conditions. On Tuesday, Renberg said the average drought conditions in the county scored 624 on the Keetch-Bynum Drought Index, up from 608, last week. According to the long-range forecast, this number is expected to climb to 700 in the next two weeks, on a zero-800 scale. “The number of grassfires in the county are way up,” Renberg pointed out as ground moisture continues to disappear. Athens Fire Chief John McQueary said, the grass fires his unit has extinguished would not have been prevented by a burn ban he said. “However, any small spark can start one,” he said.
Renberg noted that the threshold for calling a burn ban is 575. And that a burn ban is always easier to rescind then to initiate.
Commissioners also agreed to a number of interlocal agreements to conduct the the Nov. 8 General Election on behalf of several taxing authorities in the county, including Caney City, Payne Springs, Tool, East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District, Enchanted Oaks and independent school districts in Brownsboro, Larue-Poynor and Murchison. They discussed some of the mechanics involved in a presidential election and the availability of voting equipment. Elections official Denise Hernandez didn’t make it to court that morning due to a collision in the courthouse square between a member of her staff and another vehicle, causing the staffer’s car to flip over three times, while having a 9-year-old daughter on board. No fatalities or serious injuries were reported, Hernandez said following the close of the meeting.
Commissioners agreed to consider an application for tax abatement submitted by Clayton Homes, along with the application fee of $1,000. A workshop is to be set to review various scenarios within the next 21 days, and public hearings to be held on the matter.
Athens Economic Development Executive Director Lisa Denton introduced Rick Groom of Indiana representing Clayton Homes to the court. His company has purchased a property formerly held by Champion Homes and plans to manufacture model homes. Groom, who will oversee operations, said the company plans to hire around 250 employees by the beginning of 2017. He added the base pay is targeted at $600 per week. The property was purchased last October and the production facility is 70 percent completed to begin manufacture operations in October.
Denton remarked that the City of Athens has already approved a tax abatement agreement. After the meeting, Commissioner Lawrence told The News that since its purchase by Clayton, the property has increased in value, more than doubling the tax assessments for the school district and Road and Bridge – at least two taxing entities that would be unaffected by the proposed five-year county tax abatement. “The county would get twice the tax money it is currently getting from the property, even with a tax abatement agreement,” Lawrence estimated.
Finally, commissioners approved a preliminary plat for a new residential subdivision along Lake Palestine called Windham Place. Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin described the project as being built in two phases with a total of 43 homes on 42 acres. The plat includes a variance request of the 80-foot frontage required by subdivision rules for eight homes located on cul-de-sacs. “This is the first new subdivision in my five and a half years on the court,” Geeslin said. It gave him opportunity to become well acquainted with the county’s subdivision rules. He said the court should expect revisions from him on how the process can be revamped and steam-lined.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney commented that variances on the rules was not unheard of, as the court granted variances in 2011, he said.
In other business, commissioners
• granted right-of-way permits to Oncor for a pole-ing station to serve Gun Barrel City. Right-of-ways were granted along Pecan Road (C.R. 2938) and part of Peachtree Road.
• approved payroll distributions.
• paid bills totaling $238,051.11.
Posted by : August 4, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–The helmets and pads came out again as Texas high school football teams began two-a-days on August 1. Several local teams around the lake are gearing up for the first game of the season August 26.
The Malakoff Tigers enter the season with more hype than any other team in the area. They are picked to win district 9-3A and are ranked number four in the state. The eight-team district is picked to finish with Malakoff in first place followed by Teague, Groesbeck, West, Palestine Westwood, Elkhart, Whitney and Eustace.
Everything starts with the quarterback for Malakoff. Judd Miller had 3,199 total yards and 46 touchdowns a season ago as a sophomore. He returns as a junior with more experience and with two big targets to throw to in QT Barker and Tyler Russell.
Jamie Driskell’s defense will be led by Dan’Yal Littleton, a fierce defensive end who can get after the quarterback. Other standouts on defense are Larry Coker, Zee Bailey, Caleb Adams and Breashawn Williams.
Malakoff has an explosive offensive that has a chance to be even better than they were last year. They have a defense to match up with anyone and should be able to make a deep playoff run. The Tigers have a legitimate shot to hold up a championship trophy at AT&T Stadium at the end of the year.
Malakoff went 10-2 last season and was knocked out of the playoffs by three-time defending State Champion Cameron Yoe by one point. The Tigers finished second in district behind Teague, who beat Malakoff 28-7 in their rain-soaked match-up. Malakoff returns 13 starters and the varsity roster will be bolstered by a JV squad that went 8-2 last season.
“We have to take things one game at a time,” Driskell said. “Having all the pre-season hype is great, but the games are won on the field not on paper, and we have to show up ready to compete every week if we want to accomplish our goal.”
Driskell also said that he hopes for a rematch with Cameron Yoe in the playoffs this season. “The loss still stings,” he said. “I don’t know if it will ever fully go away but if we get another chance I think that things would go differently this time around.”
The Athens Hornets are in district 8-4A. Athens will be led by Head Coach Paul Essary who is in his eighth year at the helm.
The biggest hump that the Hornets will need to overcome is replacing running back Logan Fuller who had over 6,000 career rushing yards and signed to play at Tyler Junior College. Maalik Hall will split time at running back with Jaqualyon Bowman, and they will try to make up for Fuller’s absence.
Xavius Fulton will make the switch from receiver to quarterback. He will be tasked to replace Brandon Boyd. Athens is hoping to run the pistol on offense this season.
Defensively, linebacker Noah Bush might be the best player for the Hornets. He had 120 tackles last year as a junior and has already been getting attention from division one colleges. Between Bush, Hall, Zach Carson and Taylor Carson, Athens might have the best linebacker core in the district.
The Hornets will have the talent they need to compete on defense. In order to make it into the playoffs in a district with two state ranked teams, they must find what it takes to keep up on offense.
Last season, Athens went 8-4 and lost in the second round of the playoffs to Kennedale. The Hornets finished second in the district behind Kaufman.
“It’s an exciting time for Hornet Nation,” Essary said. “We are working on building a tradition of winning and anything short of the playoffs isn’t acceptable. We lost a lot on offense, but younger guys are going to step up and play hard for us. I think the sky is the limit for our team.”
The Cross Roads Bobcats will be playing in district 10-2A this season. They are picked to finish last. The six-team district is picked to finish in the order of Big Sandy, Kerens, Gladewater Union Grove, Cayuga, Hawkins and Cross Roads.
The Bobcats are under new leadership this season. Former Skidmore-Tynan assistant coach Michael Gain takes over for a team that has not made the playoffs since 2003.
Despite history not being on their side, it may finally be time for optimism. Cross Roads won three games last season and only has one team on their schedule that finished last year with a winning record. Gain has been working hard with the team and thinks that they have what it takes to have success.
Taylor McKenzie will take over as quarterback for the Bobcats and Tyler Johnson is a proven work horse at the running back position. Johnson was injured halfway through the season last year and hopes to stay healthy to lead Cross Roads to more victories.
If everyone can stay healthy and the players buy what coach Gain is selling them, Cross Roads could sneak into the playoffs in a weak district.
The Bobcats went 3-7 last season and looked strong early on, but they went 0-5 in district play to end the year.
“We have the pieces in place to make the playoffs,” Gain said. “I like what we have on offense and defense, and we are all working hard every day to end the 13-year playoff drought. I want to make every day an adventure, and I want to get better while we have fun working.”
The Trinidad Trojans are picked to finish last in district 15-1A. The four-team district is picked to finish in the order of Milford, Mount Calm, Oakwood and Trinidad. The top two teams make the playoffs.
Trinidad hired a new coach after Scott Hayes announced that he was leaving to take a coaching job at Rice High School June 29. James Massarelli will step in and try to guide the Trojans back to the playoffs.
Massarelli will have one of the most exciting players in the district at his disposal in receiver Jerry Bannister. Colby Snider is a proven quarterback and will make the coaching transition easier.
Other players to watch include Johnny Ayala, Eli Arnold, Talon Sims and Ronald Marcus. The toughest task will be to replace Javonte Hornbuckle and his 18 total touchdowns. No one player will be able to pick up the slack by himself but, collectively, it’s possible.
The district is very top heavy and Trinidad is a very experienced team. The Trojans have the chance to compete and play spoiler. Trinidad finished with a 3-7 record last year and was 0-3 in district.
The high school football season starts on August 26. Malakoff will take on Bullard at home, Athens will be on the road at Mexia, Cross Roads will take on Frost and Trinidad will play Campbell.
The News will release its fall sports preview August 25. It will have information on all the local football, volleyball and cross country teams.
Posted by : July 28, 2016| On :
By Emmalee Doss
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners Court met to determine whether a burn ban needed to be in effect, pay bills and accept the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission in honor of the Henderson County Historical Commission.
Much discussion passed as to how the upcoming rain would reduce the number of fires and whether it was time to put a burn ban into effect. Fire Marshal Shane Renberg made clear that there has not been a burn ban in effect up until this point, and the burn ban will be reconsidered at the next meeting if dry conditions continue.
The Commissioners Court accepted the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission in honor of the hard work of the Henderson County Historical Commission. The certificate awarded stated that the award was “in recognition of the county’s active and balanced preservation program.” Special thanks went to Sarah Jane, Betty Hallwell, Ivy Joe and everyone involved.
Commissioners agreed to pay the $137,601.97 in state fees and $159,818.57 for regular bills. There was speculation as to whether or not they were going through the budget faster than expected due to the state policy change regarding the addition of mental health care not budgeted in the medical budget.
The commissioners voted to approve a contract between the Department of State Health Services and the Henderson County Clerk’s Office regarding birth certificates.
Posted by : July 28, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS– Athens High School athletic director Paul Essary has wrapped up his hires for the upcoming school year with six new coaches.
Two of the coaches are returning hires in middle school coordinator Cody Hines and assistant coach Jarrett Buchholtz.
Hines was a middle school coordinator two years ago and is coming back in the same role working with the seventh and eighth grade boys.
Buchholtz worked two years as a varsity coach and then came back. He will work with the seventh and eighth grade football, basketball and track team.
Essary has two former Hornets on the middle school coaching staff in brothers Devon and Desmond Bowie. Both played football and basketball for Athens and were on the 2010 football team that went four rounds deep in the playoffs.
Essary said that it is exciting to bring back past Hornet players to be a part of Hornet nation. They will be working with the middle school football and girls basketball and track.
In the varsity football program, Essary promoted coach Cresendo Bush from the middle school following the departure of coach Bradley Gandy. He will be coaching safeties and assisting the track team.
The middle school girls program will have two new coaches joining the staff in Brenda Hennesey from Rockwall and Ivory Nichols from Palestine Westwood.
Hennesey will be teaching science and coaching middle school girls volleyball, basketball and track. She has several years of coaching experience and Essary said that she came very highly recommended by her former coaches.
Nichols was a softball player at Grambling University and will be at Bel Air in the P.E. Department. She will coach middle school volleyball, basketball and track. She graduated from Palestine Westwood High School.
Essary said with only having to replace six coaches this year, it made the summer easy for him to finish up his staff for the year. He said that he thinks this is one of the best coaching staffs that Athens ISD has ever had.
Posted by : July 21, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
ATHENS–Guy Furr will begin his 15th season at Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) as the 10th head basketball coach in the school’s history. Furr will replace Kris Baumann who served as coach for four years before leaving to join the staff at UTEP.
In his 14-year tenure (1987-92, 2007-16), Furr served as assistant coach to the three winningest coaches in school history, Leon Spencer, Pat Smith and Baumann.
Furr began his TVCC career on Spencer’s staff in 1987. He left after the 1992 season to return 15 years later on Smith’s staff.
During his first tenure at TVCC, Furr was instrumental in recruiting Nick Van Exel and Shawn Kemp, both of whom went on to play in the NBA.
When Furr left TVCC, he didn’t leave the area. Remaining an Athens resident, he coached and was the head boys basketball coach and principal at Martins Mill High School for five years. He then worked at Kemp High School as an administrator for five years, including one season as interim head boys basketball coach. Furr left Kemp for Murchison ISD, where he was superintendent for five years.
He is also an experienced shooting instructor and has hosted camps for the Shot Doctor in 34 different states.
Furr is a native of Murray, Ky. After playing basketball at Bethel College in Tennessee, he earned his bachelor of science degree from Murray State University and his master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Furr and wife Tina have two children, Alex, a recent graduate of Fresno State University and now a member of the women’s basketball coaching staff at Cameron University, and Preston, a recent graduate of Athens High School and now a student at the college.
Posted by : June 9, 2016| On :
Special to The News
ATHENS–Trinity Valley Community College Rodeo Team member Tyson Arledge, from Milano, will be representing TVCC in Tie Down Roping at the 2016 College National Finals Rodeo June 12-18, in Casper, Wyo.
The top three individuals regionally, in each event, earned a spot to compete for a national title. There are 11 regions in the U.S. TVCC, along with 20 other colleges and universities are in the Southern region. Unlike most other collegiate sports, rodeo contestants must compete against not only other community colleges, but university competitors for those top three spots.
The contestants compete at 10 regional rodeos throughout the year and accrue points for winning which determines the CNFR Qualifiers. Tyson won the roping at the TVCC Rodeo held at The Henderson County Fairpark Complex in February, along with placing in the other regional rodeos. He is well-rounded and has two great horses that will be traveling to Casper with him.
According to Rodeo Coach Brent Bratton, “Tyson has the ability and knowledge to win a national title for TVCC. He has a game plan and it will come down to him doing his best. This is the largest rodeo competition next to the National Finals Rodeo. I hope Tyson enjoys every moment of this experience and performs to the best of his ability. We thank this amazing community and TVCC for all of the support and encouragement.”
Posted by : June 2, 2016| On :
By Sariah Kendall
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS– The Athens Kiwanis Club officially opened the Splash Pad at the Athens Kiwanis Park, May 27.
Visiting the Splash Pad is completely free and will be a place for little ones to cool off this summer while families gather.
It will open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. now through Labor Day. To ensure the safety of visitors the following rules have been implemented.
• All children under the age of 7-years-old must have adult supervision
• Youth must wear proper swim diapers
• Patrons engaging in horse play or foul language will be asked to leave
• No bikes, scooters, skateboards or roller blades
• No food or drinks allowed on Splash Pad
• No glass containers
• Not pets allowed on Splash Pad
• No littering
• Climbing on Splash Pad fixtures is prohibited
• Splash Pad may be closed at times for maintenance
• Splash pad is unsupervised
Posted by : May 19, 2016| On :
The News Photo/Sariah Kendall
Texas Game Wardens stand ready for a 21-gun salute during a memorial service held at the the Texas Game Warden Memorial at the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, May 13.
By Sariah Kendall
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Texas Game wardens gathered Friday for an annual memorial ceremony held at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens to honor 18 wardens who died in the line of duty.
Family members of the fallen, guests, and the 60th game warden training class listened as Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith reviewed the courage and dedication of these fallen wardens.
“In your valor, there is great hope. May we never forget the valor and hope bestowed upon us by the 18 departed wardens,” Smith said.
Game wardens have served the citizens of Texas since 1895. They have expanded their duties from solely protecting fisheries and wildlife to water safety and search and rescue. For years they have also worked with border patrol and disaster relief, “which is increasing danger and risk,” Smith said. Daily, 500 wardens are on duty throughout the state of Texas.
Since 2016, the U.S. has lost 35 game wardens, three from Texas. “You must remember the sacrifices for the blue badge,” Colonel Craig Hunter reminded the game warden training class.
This is likely the last ceremony to be conducted in Athens before the memorial is moved to Austin. Athens has held the ceremony at the Memorial Plaza since it was installed.
The News photo/ sariah Kendall
From left to right: Oscar Jaimez of Laredo, Brad Meloni of Kingsville, Carlos Maldonado of Hebbronville, Colt Gaulden of Gatesville and Kevin Frazier of Hamilton stand united at the Texas Game Warden Memorial Ceremony held at the Freshwater Fisheries Center.