May

25

Posted by : admin | On : May 25, 2017

Toni Clay sworn in
Monte Montgomery
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–The newly elected mayor and council member took their seats in Athens Monday night after winning their respective elections earlier this month.
Mayor Monte Montgomery and councilwoman Toni Clay began serving two-year terms after taking oaths of office. Montgomery was sworn in as mayor by County Judge Richard Sanders, and Clay was sworn in as a council member by City Secretary Bonnie Hambrick.
Outgoing Mayor Jerry Don Vaught received a standing ovation when Mayor Pro-tem Tres Winn presented him with a certificate commemorating Vaught’s 10 years on the council, including five as mayor.
Vaught had many kind words during a short speech, including praising the people of Athens for taking care of each other and being wonderful friends to him. “You can’t take that away from Athens,” he said.
Vaught also spoke highly of City Manager Philip Rodriguez, who took over the post in March 2015.
“You’ve turned this city around, and made it outstanding,” Vaught said. “It needed to be done for over 20 years. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where we’d be.”
In other action:
• Fire Chief John McQueary presented Life Saving Awards to Sarah Barnes, Johnathan Toney and Jay Kinzer;
• Mayor Jerry Don Vaught read a proclamation declaring May as Historic Preservation Month;
• the council approved a re-plat of lots at 600 E. Tyler St. for the future ABC Auto;
• Aaron Smith was reappointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission; and
• the council approved a second reading of an amendment to an ordinance, thereby creating the Cultural Resources Commission.

May

25

Posted by : admin | On : May 25, 2017

By Kate Pittack
Extension 4-H Agent
HENDERSON COUNTY–AgriLife Extension urging Texans to Click It or Ticket.
This year’s Click It or Ticket Campaign will be May 22-June 4, which includes the Memorial Day weekend and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is urging Texas drivers to buckle up.
Once again, the agency is supporting efforts by the Texas Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety and police and sheriff’s departments across the state to save lives by promoting increased seat belt use.
Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by 45 percent for people in the front seat of passenger cars.
“They also reduce the risk of dying by 60 percent for drivers of pickups, because pickups are twice as likely to roll over as passenger vehicles,” AgriLife Extension vehicle safety program manager, College Station, Bev Kellner said.
Texas achieved a nearly 92 percent statewide seat belt use rate in 2016 per Texas Department of Transportation data. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the “Click It or Ticket” initiative in Texas saved 5,068 lives and prevented 86,359 serious injuries since its inception 15 years ago. It also saved more than $19.3 billion in related economic costs from 2002 to 2016.
“This year, the campaign is focusing on wearing seat belts all the time, especially at night,” Kellner said “Fifty-seven percent of fatal crashes in Texas happen at night. And last year, of all crashes in Texas in which people died and weren’t wearing a seat belt, 62 percent happened at night.”
She said Texas law requires the driver and all passengers in a vehicle to be secured by a seat belt.
“Unbuckled adult drivers and passengers, even those in the back seat, can be fined and face court costs of up to $250,” she said. “Children younger than eight must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4–feet 9-inches.”
Kellner said because this year’s campaign time frame includes Memorial Day weekend — when many people take to the road to enjoy a long weekend — drivers can likely expect to encounter additional law enforcement activity, including seat belt and child restraint checks.
“These officers are not out there just to write tickets; they want to help prevent needless tragedies associated with vehicle crashes.”

May

18

Posted by : admin | On : May 18, 2017

worked up mugshots Christina Julian

worked up
mugshots
Christina Julian

worked up  mugshots Rebecca Brannon

worked up
mugshots
Rebecca Brannon

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports a major drug arrest Tuesday.
During a routine traffic stop on Lake Arrowhead Drive near Payne Springs, sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Matthew Jistel discovered a stash underneath the passenger seat containing approximately 53 grams of suspect crystal meth.
Rebecca Brannon, 25 is charged with first-degree felony drug charge. Her backseat passenger, Christina Julian, 52, was also found to be in possession of suspected meth. She exited the car and appeared unstable according to a press release. Both women were taken to jail soon after the 2:45 a.m. traffic stop. Brannon is held on a $15,000 bond and Julian’s bond totals $8,500.
“These dealers can’t sneak around in the dark of night hoping to spread their poison,” Hillhouse stated. “Our deputies have been instructed to keep a keen eye out for anyone suspected of wrongdoing, no matter what time of day or night.”
The National Drug Intelligence Center states methamphetamine is a significant drug threat to Texas. High purity, low-cost methamphetamine is readily available, and the drug is widely abused, particularly in rural areas. Methamphetamine produced in Mexico is the predominant type available.
According to one online source, the price of meth in Texas is around $80 per gram, though smaller increments may cost more. At $80 to $100 per gram, the estimated value is between $4,240 and $5,300. The confiscated 53 grams equals a little less than two ounces, a sizeable amount in crystal meth.

May

11

Posted by : admin | On : May 11, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–Athens has a new mayor. Monte Montgomery who gave up his council seat to run, unseats Jerry Don Vaught who has been mayor since 2012 when Randy Daniel resigned to become Justice of the Peace.
Former councilman Monte Montgomery garnered 736 votes to Vaught’s 490. Montgomery’s council seat had two contenders. Toni Clay won the seat over Chetan Patel, 632 to 529 ballots.
Athens ISD had three contenders for incumbent Steve McElhaney’s seat, who chose not to run for re-election. Of the three Eugene Buford was the top vote getter for Place 1 with 708 votes. Thomas Faulk garnered 423 votes and Bryan Barker got 288 votes. Alicea Elliott was unopposed for her Place 2 seat.
City of Star Harbor City Council canvassed the results of the election Monday. Voters agreed to join ESD No. 1 and council seats will be filled by incumbents Warren Claxton and Jackie Robinson; as well as challenger Ray Batten, who garnered more votes than incumbent Duane Smith. Smith had been acting as the mayor since Dr. Bingham resigned for health reasons two months ago. The council selected Warren Claxton as Mayor and is expected to appoint someone to fill his seat on the council next month.
In Eustace, Mayor Elisha Sanders lost her seat to Dustin Shelton, 94 to 52. There are 12 provisional votes still to be determined by the Henderson County Elections Office. The ballot board is set to convene May 15. Since Tim Howard opted not to run for re-election to the council, the top two vote getters incumbent Daniel Smith with 112 votes and new face Tim Meyer with 90 votes look to fill the council seats. Both Tim Meyer and Dustin Shelton also serve as volunteers on the Eustace Volunteer Fire Department. Meyer is one of the planners of the May 13 barbecue cookoff, raising funds for the fire station.

May

04

Posted by : admin | On : May 4, 2017

Monitor Photo/Erik Walsh Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders (center), along with county commissioners proclaim the month of May as May Elder Abuse Prevention Month alongside adult protective services board and case workers.

Monitor Photo/Erik Walsh
Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders (center), along with county commissioners proclaim the month of May as May Elder Abuse Prevention Month alongside adult protective services board and case workers.


By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–The night skies in Henderson Country are going to be brighter this Memorial Day after commissioners agreed to allow the sale of fireworks in Henderson County for the Veteran holiday.
The approval is noteworthy because last May the court denied vendors the lawful right to sell fireworks in the county, citing that the holiday is one of sober reflection, not explosive celebration.
Commissioners sang a different tune Tuesday, approving the resolution 4-1 with only Judge Richard Sanders opposing. There was some discussion prior to the vote, with a representative from the firework sales community appealing to the commissioners.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin weighed the negatives to fireworks, stating that some people are irresponsible with their use and uncourteous with the times they fire them.
Texas Counties decide their own fate concerning fireworks sales for three Texas Holidays: Feb. 25-March 2 (Texas Independence Day); April 16-April 21 (San Jacinto Day) and May 25-30 (Memorial Day).
Commissioners also approved the transfer of a flying drone to the possession of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse addressed the court concerning the acquisition of the new drone.
“We will only use the drone for search situations with warrants signed by a judge,” Hillhouse said.
Hillhouse said the drone could provide valuable intelligence of protentional hostile environments and keep his deputies out of harm’s way. The Sheriff’s Office will not need to purchase any additional parts and will receive proper training to operate the drone.
Commissioners also accepted donations of children’s blankets to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office from the Linus Project. The blankets will go in deputies’ cars to be given to children in stressful situations for comfort.
Commissioners also made two proclamations, calling May Elder Abuse Prevention Month and Older American Month.
“We need to highlight these issues when they come before us,” Sanders said. “I think it’s despicable to take advantage of elderly and disabled people.”
Geeslin agreed. “Child abuse is rightfully getting lots of attention and this problem is not unlike it,” he said. “The victims cannot speak up. I proudly support this proclamation.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said he draws strength from the older generation. “There is a lot of wisdom that gets overlooked,” McKinney said. “They really are one of our greatest assets.”
Commissioners took the time to thank first responders and emergency service workers for their toil over the weekend and weeks to come after the tornadoes in Henderson County and reminded the court not to forget their neighbors to the north that lost much in the disaster.
Commissioners took a lengthy executive session to interview up to 15 applicants to fill the unoccupied seat of Justice of the Peace Precinct 5. No action was made on Tuesday.
In other action, Commissioners:
• appointed Precinct 1 Commissioner Ken Hayes to fill Geeslin’s seat on the IT Committee. Geeslin served on the committee for more than six years,
• approved paying bills totaling $157,591.63 and
• extended the bidding window for pest control services for another three weeks. The court dropped the former contractor for “lack of service and overcharging.”

Apr

27

Posted by : admin | On : April 27, 2017

News Staff Reports
LAKE PALESTINE–The man who survived his boat going over the spillway at Lake Palestine April 19 died Sunday. His wife, Billemarie, 67, was pronounced dead at the scene. A double memorial service is set for Bille and Keith Wagnon, 69, was held Wednesday (April 26) at Rhone Memorial Chapel in Palestine. They were both local residents.
The News reporter Russell Slaton happen to have witnessed the horrific event from a distance, catching it on video, using his cell phone. Slaton said he felt helpless to do anything to prevent the tragedy from occurring. “I looked and kept thinking he would turn back, but he didn’t,” Slaton said. “Suddenly it went over and then there were several loud bangs or thuds.”
Game Warden Mike Hanson said freeing the boat to remove it was a problem because it got caught on some concrete pillars.
According to Hanson, the boat, occupied by a man and a woman, was traveling at a fast pace along the lake, traveling southward toward the dam. Hanson said the boat continued to travel and then passed the buoys which indicate the spillway’s edge, and continued straight on.
Hanson said some fisherman on the river near the spillway rushed over to try to save the boat’s occupants.
The man survived, but the woman was declared dead by Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Phillip Grimes from Cherokee County. He was taken to a Tyler hospital and placed in Intensive Care, where he later died. Keith and Billemarie Wagnon were married for 50 years.
No foul play is suspected.

Apr

27

Posted by : admin | On : April 27, 2017

Athens Fire
The New Staff Reports
ATHENS–Investigators are still looking into the cause of a deadly fire Saturday that resulted in the death of a man said to be in his 70s.
Fire at a boarding house on East College Street was reported at 8:36 p.m. However upon arrival, Athens Fire Department firefighters found the two-story structure fully involved. The name of the deceased was not disclosed as authorities hadn’t reached a next of kin by press time Wednesday.
The house was more than 3,500 square feet and built in the 1920s, Fire Chief John McQueary estimated.
The man was one of five or six individuals renting rooms in the house.
The chief reports rescue attempts made by the neighbors and another resident who saw the man on the second floor. “We assume he was overcome by smoke and probably collapsed. When the fire got intense enough for the floor and roof to fall, he ended up on the bottom floor,” McQueary said.
The blaze was so powerful firefighters were prevented from going inside upon arrival due to the flames. Their efforts prevented the fire from spreading to the two neighboring houses on either side. However, these structures sustained minor damage from the heat, McQueary said.

Apr

20

Posted by : admin | On : April 20, 2017

Mugshots ready CMYK

Mugshots
ready CMYK


The News Staff Reports
MALAKOFF–The Henderson County Fire Marshal’s Office arrested a Malakoff man for arson after investigating a fire on Monday.
Troy Lynn Tucker, 29, was arrested on the scene for Arson of a Habitation/Place of Worship, a first-degree felony. Bonds were set at $23,500.
The fire was extinguished at lot 18 Spring Creek Parkway in Malakoff.
In addition, Assistant Fire Marshal Sherry Powers found a clear small plastic bag with suspected methamphetamine on Tucker’s person during the arrest. A drug possession charge was added to Tucker’s intake at the Henderson County Jail.
Sheriff Botie Hillhouse has set a no tolerance policy for drugs in the county and the Fire Marshal’s Office fully supports those efforts. “If we have to deal with you, and you have drugs, you’re going to jail for those charges along with any charges we have to file on you,” Fire Marshal Rodney Renberg stated in a press release. “We take arson very seriously and it will not be tolerated. We will investigate the cause and if you’re responsible, you’re going to jail.”

Apr

13

Posted by : admin | On : April 13, 2017

Like so much dirty laundry hung for all to see, survivors of sexual assault and abuse tell their stories through short messages. So many more T-shirts were not hung up Tuesday due to the threat of rain, East Texas Crisis Center Director Della Cooper said.

Like so much dirty laundry hung for all to see, survivors of sexual assault and abuse tell their stories through short messages. So many more T-shirts were not hung up Tuesday due to the threat of rain, East Texas Crisis Center Director Della Cooper said.

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–East Texas Crisis Center staffer Gwen Cox read some astounding statistics on sexual assault and abuse during a Sexual Assault Awareness Proclamation ceremony on the courthouse steps in Athens Tuesday.
She said 6.3 million Texans have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse. The Athens Office of the East Texas Crisis Center have served more than 200 such clients last year and is working 26 active cases.
County Judge Richard Sanders thanked all the volunteers that work each day to try to prevent this terrible crime “Without dedicated people who work each day, this problem could be a whole lot worse. To think almost a quarter of our population here in Texas has had some sort of sexual abuse happen to them or a family member is really mind-boggling to me.”
He read the proclamation making April a month to educate and raise awareness around the issues of sexual assault and abuse, which affects people of all ages, races and economic circumstances.
“The consequences of sexual abuse are often severe and long lasting. The risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder increases dramatically for victims of sexual assault. Therefore, let us extend our education campaign and build on the network of support to address this issue, including outreach to schools on topic issues of sexual assault.
“United in this effort we can continue to make a difference,” he read.
After thanking the many volunteers who work in this area, Sanders said he looks forward to the day when we can celebrate that sexual assault is no longer a factor in this county.
Rev. Ed Schauer of The Church of The Nazarene in Gun Barrel City closed the proceding in prayer asking God to “touch each of us to stand in the gap for these victims. Cure this disease by your touch, we pray.”

Mar

30

Posted by : admin | On : March 30, 2017

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Athens City Manager Philip Rodriguez informed council and audience members that TCEQ confirmed the city is in compliance with water standards at the Athens City Council meeting March 27.
Rodriguez broke the news in a full council chamber at the Athens Partnership Center after getting the information himself earlier in the day from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
Mayor Jerry Don Vaught was pleased with the outcome, thanking the city staff for its hard work finally getting the city water on the right side of regulation. Athens water had been out of compliance since 2015. He expects the city will remain in compliance now.
The compliance problem was explained in a press release. The city’s water had too much of a disinfection byproduct knows as HAA5. To stay in compliance with TCEQ, the city water must stay below .06 micrograms per millileter. When the water first fell out of compliance back in 2015, two of the testing sites had too much HAA5, and one had been rectified by November 2016. The most recent results were from a February test.
Rodriguez also clarified the city’s potential plans for annexing property outside the city. According to Rodriguez, the council has annexed a couple of properties within the last two years, and may add more.
The key is to keep an eye on the future in case economic growth spurts up outside the city limits.
“It’s a big deal for us to be thinking about the long-term commercial growth in the city,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve seen cities in Texas that have not been as thoughtful about that, he said. Some cities have had development grow up outside the city limits. The city gets none of the sales tax collected in those areas, so it is important to make sure that we’ve got access to future economic corridors.”
Rodriguez told council members that most of the property along Loop 7 is not within the Athens city limits and major exits on highways that enter Athens are prime targets for annexation. The city recently annexed property near the intersection of the loop and State Highway 19 south for development. He added that most of the locations planned for future growth with the airport master plan are not part of the city.
In other action, council members:
• held a public hearing recommending approval of changes to zoning ordinances to eliminate farming and ranching operations from residential zoning districts to allow no more than six hens as backyard chickens, or one horse per acre, and establishing a maximum number of farm animals allowed per acre in agricultural zones lands, and establishing the minimum size of future agriculture lots to be five acres.
• discussed the first reading of the zoning ordinance changes.