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.

Mar

02

Posted by : admin | On : March 2, 2017

Henderson County Commissioners' Court proclaimed March 2 (today) to be remembered as Texas Independence Day throughout the county. The Sons of the Republic of Texas brought the proclamation to the court for recognition Feb. 28. on behalf of the James George Chapter headed by President Clayton Starr and local Athens member Charles Luna. Pictured (from left) are Ken Geeslin, Starr, McHam, County Judge Richard Sanders, Ken Hayes, Luna, and Wade McKinney.

Henderson County Commissioners’ Court proclaimed March 2 (today) to be remembered as Texas Independence Day throughout the county. The Sons of the Republic of Texas brought the proclamation to the court for recognition Feb. 28. on behalf of the James George Chapter headed by President Clayton Starr and local Athens member Charles Luna. Pictured (from left) are Ken Geeslin, Starr, McHam, County Judge Richard Sanders, Ken Hayes, Luna, and Wade McKinney.

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners’ Court tabled action to permit the Tarrant Regional Water District Integrated Pipeline to move forward until a road closure and crossing agreement can be spelled out to the satisfaction of Precinct 1 Commissioner Ken Hayes.
Representatives from Tarrant Regional are to meet with Hayes and the County Attorney Thursday (today) so Hayes can explain to residents of Key Ranch Estates, where the pipeline will be buried, what will occur. “You understand why I need information on this, I have constituents to answer to,” Hayes said. Plans call for the crossing of one road in Key Ranch Estates, which will close the road and provide a detour for local traffic.
The commissioners were asked to approve permits to construct the pipeline in a floodplain, which had nothing to do with roads or road closures. However, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney pointed out that this permit was the only leverage the court had to have any say in what would transpire, especially as regards to road damage caused by the construction to take place in Precinct 1.
TRWD director Wesley Cleveland tried to assure the court that the district has worked well with other counties on the project and have left roads in as good or better condition than they found them and that money was built into the budget specifically for road repairs.
Engineer Matt Gaughan answered questions about the burial of the 108-inch (nine-foot) pipe. He told Hayes that where the pipe crossed under a road that it would be encased in quick-drying concrete and he expected to open detours for the two days that the road crossing would have to close any road.
Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough presented commissioners with an emergency management plan for the work to take place in the floodplain, stating that the permit includes a clause absolving the county from any and all liability in connection with the construction, operation and maintenance of the pipeline. There is no fee attached to the permit, she said.
The item is expected to reappear on next week’s agenda.
In other business, commissioners:
• agreed to assist with four local elections for the cities of Eustace, Athens and Gun Barrel City as well as the Athens ISD for early voting April 24-May 2 and Election Day, May 6.
• renewed membership in the Sabine-Neches Resource Conservation and Development group and appointed Thomas Fraiser and Fire Marshal Shane Renberg as representatives.
• approved bonds for 2017 county elected officials
• accepted Racial Profiling Report from the Sheriff’s Office.
• agreed to a number of appointments and reappointments to Emergency Service Districts No. 1 and no. 2.
• approved inter-local cooperation agreements for labor and equipment use in the amount of $500 with the cities of Berryville, Coffee City and Poynor.
• paid bills in the amount of $425,844.52 and payments to fire departments in Caney City and Eustace in the amount of $21,174.

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.

Jan

19

Posted by : admin | On : January 19, 2017

John Wray Swearing in
Special to The News
AUSTIN – State Representative John Wray took the oath of office Jan. 10 inside the Texas State Capitol, marking the beginning of his second term in the Texas House.
“I’m honored to represent House District 10 again in the Texas legislature, and will continue to fight tirelessly for the people and values of Ellis and Henderson Counties,” said Wray. “I am proud of the accomplishments we achieved last session, and although we face new challenges, I believe the House will continue to approach issues in the same conservative, pragmatic, and fiscally responsible manner that has helped our state prosper.”
In his first term as State Representative, Wray was appointed to the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. As a member of those committees, Wray helped pass open carry legislation, increased security at the Texas-Mexico border, and provided nearly $4 billion in tax relief to Texans.
Wray also passed the most bills of any freshmen representative, and filed bills to repeal taxes, honor Texan and American hero Chris Kyle, establish a higher education campus in the district, and protect private property rights and taxpayers funds from the planned High Speed Rail project.
The Texas Constitution dictates that the legislature meet in a regular session every two years, convening on the second Tuesday in January of every odd-numbered year. These sessions are limited to 140 days. The governor can also call additional special sessions as necessary, which cannot exceed 30 days. The 85th Legislative Session is Jan. 10 through May 29, 2017.
John Wray is a principled conservative, serving his second term as Texas State Representative of House District 10, the area encompassing Ellis County and part of Henderson County.
Wray currently resides in Waxahachie with his wife, Michele, and their two children, Morgan and Patrick.

Jan

05

Posted by : admin | On : January 5, 2017

Judge Dan Moore administers the oath of office to Scott McKee as the 392nd District Court Judge in Henderson County, Jan. 2.

Judge Dan Moore administers the oath of office to Scott McKee as the 392nd District Court Judge in Henderson County, Jan. 2.

Mark Hall is sworn in as Henderson County District Attorney.

Mark Hall is sworn in as Henderson County District Attorney.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders administers the oath of office to Precinct 1 Commissioner Ken Hayes Jan. 2. at the courthouse in Athens. He replaces Scotty Thomas, who retired from office serviing Malakoff, Cross Roads, Trinidad, and Tool.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders administers the oath of office to Precinct 1 Commissioner Ken Hayes Jan. 2. at the courthouse in Athens. He replaces Scotty Thomas, who retired from office serviing Malakoff, Cross Roads, Trinidad, and Tool.

Chuck McHam (left) takes the oath as Precinct 3 Commissioner from his friend and Brownsboro High School classmate Court-at-law Judge Scott Williams.

Chuck McHam (left) takes the oath as Precinct 3 Commissioner from his friend and Brownsboro High School classmate Court-at-law Judge Scott Williams.

Mitch Baker takes the oath of office as Preinct 2 Constable, serving with an office in Seven Points, on Jan. 2 in a ceremony held at the Henderson County Courthouse.

Mitch Baker takes the oath of office as Preinct 2 Constable, serving with an office in Seven Points, on Jan. 2 in a ceremony held at the Henderson County Courthouse.

Oct

20

Posted by : admin | On : October 20, 2016

worked up photos mugshots James Bedard

worked up photos
mugshots
James Bedard


worked up photos mugshots Jerry Thomas

worked up photos
mugshots
Jerry Thomas


Special to The News
ATHENS – With more than 700 arrests made in his first four months in office, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse continues his campaign against illegal drugs with the arrest of two men Monday, one a felon with methamphetamines and a firearm.
“Lead Narcotics Investigator Kay Langford, and investigators Brad Beddingfield and Josh Rickman are leading the charge in this war on illegal drugs,” Hillhouse said. “With the rest of my fine team, hundreds of drug dealers and users have been pulled off the street, put in jail and are facing serious time for their crimes.”
James Bedard, 42, has been charged with manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance believed to be methamphetamines between 4 and 200 grams, a first degree felony.
He was also charged for the unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a third degree felony.
Bedard faces up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the first degree felony charge if convicted. He is being held on bonds totaling $14,000
Jerry Thomas Jr., 52, was arrested at an address on FM 2494 in Athens for possession of marijuana.
“It was during that initial arrest of Jerry Thomas for an outstanding warrant that the investigators saw the suspected methamphetamines,” Hillhouse said. “We obtained a search warrant from Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Milton Adams, and arrested Bedard.”
Thomas was released the following day with a $1,500 bond.
Hillhouse took office June 1, promising to lead a campaign against illegal drugs in Henderson County. His efforts have won the praise of civic and community groups.
“The people told me their biggest concern was illegal drugs – especially the devastating impact of methamphetamines on the community,” Hillhouse said. “So, I made it this Office’s mission to spend every hour fighting drugs on the streets, and in homes, hotels, motels and trailer parks.
“To the dealers and users who don’t believe me, rest assured I have plenty of beds in the jail and if you bring your poison to my county, I’ll find you,” Hillhouse said.

Sep

29

Posted by : admin | On : September 29, 2016

jamie-meador-bookin
Special to The News
HENDERSON COUNTY–On Sept. 23, Jamie Lawrence Meador, 31, of Brownsboro, was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a March 2015 shootout with Henderson County Deputies at a residence on CR 4305 near Coffee City. Meador was seriously injured in the shootout. Neither of the deputies was wounded.
Meador was sentenced to the 75 years for Aggravated Assault of a Peace Officer, and also sentenced to four other 20 year sentences for three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of evading arrest with a motor vehicle.
Meador pled guilty to the charges earlier this year and elected to allow Judge Dan Moore of the 173rd Judicial District Court to set sentencing after a hearing. Meador was facing a punishment range of 15-99 years or life for the Aggravated Assault and up to twenty years each for the unlawful possession cases and evading arrest case.
The case was personally handled by Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee. According to McKee, the case was extremely important to him and the law enforcement community.
According to testimony and District Attorney McKee’s opening statement, the events leading up to the shootout began in December of 2014 when Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Keon Mack saw Meador on the side of the road in a broken down pickup with its hazard lights flashing. Although Meador had been to prison before, Mack testified that he did not know who Meador was when he stopped to assist him on FM 315 near Chandler.
Before offering to assist Meador, Deputy Mack asked him for his driver’s license. According to Deputy Mack, he wasn’t looking to arrest or detain Meador at the time. Mack testified that due to safety reasons, it’s important to know who you are dealing with on the side of the road in the middle of the night.
While Meador was looking for identification, Mack observed a shiny box shaped case in Meador’s front pants pocket. Upon questioning, Meador told Mack that it contained his marijuana. During a subsequent search of the case the deputy also found methamphetamine in the box.
A pat-down search of Meador yielded two additional ounces of suspected methamphetamine and over $2,000 in cash.
After the pat-down search, Meador was placed in hand restraints and a search of the truck was conducted. During the search, Deputies discovered over five pounds of crystal meth inside a stove in the back of the pickup. According to Henderson County Sheriff’s Investigator Kay Langford, the street value of the meth in 2014 was around $250,000.
Meador was arrested for the meth and was able to make bail just a few days later. According to McKee’s opening statement, he believed the bail was set “recklessly low”.
After bailing himself out of jail on the drug charges, Meador was stopped again by Deputy Mack on March 29 for a faulty license plate light. During the traffic stop, Meador admitted to smoking marijuana in the car just before the stop. As Mack tried to detain him, Meador broke free of the deputy and made it back to his vehicle and drove off at a high rate of speed while the deputy was still hanging on to him. Deputies were unable to locate him that evening and procured a warrant for his arrest the next day.
Two days later, on March 31, 2015, Henderson County Deputies Brad Beddingfield and Kyle Pochobradsky along with Sheriff Investigators Kay Langford and Wick Gabbard acting on information about the whereabouts of Meador, arrived at a home on County Road 4305.
Deputy Beddingfield, who was the first to arrive at the residence, immediately spotted Meador sitting on a 4-wheeler as soon as he drove up. As Beddingfield exited his patrol vehicle, he ordered Meador off the 4-wheeler. Rather than comply, Meador reached into a rifle case that was strapped to the front of the 4-wheeler and retrieved an AR 15 assault rifle. Meador then immediately raised the rifle and fired a shot at Beddingfield at a distance of less than 30 feet.
The shot missed Beddingfield and he immediately began returning fire. As this engagement was beginning between Meador and Beddingfield, Deputy Kyle Pochobradsky, the second officer to arrive at the residence, had already exited his vehicle and could hear Beddingfield giving Meador commands.
During questioning by District Attorney McKee, Pochobradsky told the judge that although he could not see the defendant as he was exiting his vehicle, he could tell something was wrong in Beddingfield’ s voice. Pochobradsky and Beddingfield began their careers at about the same time, first in the Henderson County Jail and through the years working together in various positions within the department. “I knew something wasn’t right by the sound of his voice.” Said Pochobradsky,
Pochobradsky testified that after hearing Beddingfield, he rushed to the back of the house where Beddingfield and Meador were located. As he was rushing to the location, he could see and hear the gunfire. Pochobradsky was able to draw his weapon and engage Meador.
The entire event lasted only a few seconds and was captured by Beddingfield’ s in-car video.
Meador, testifying against his attorney James Mills’ advice, said he never intended to kill the officers and that he was trying to commit suicide by cop.
During his testimony, Meador told the court that his life got out of control when he started using methamphetamine.
Meador also testified about the wounds he received in the shootout and his medical conditions. Since the shootout, Meador told the court that he doesn’t have full use of his legs or his bowels.
During cross-examination, McKee pressed Meador to tell him where he got the over five pounds of meth as well as what he planned to do with it. Meador testified that he was transporting it for drug dealers when he ran out of gas.
Meador apologized to the officers for what could have happened.
“I apologize for putting ya’ll in that position. I was only thinking about me,” he said. “I know you’ll do a good job.”
Meador has been arrested several times in Henderson County. Among the charges are felony drug and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. He was released from prison in 2012.
Meador’s drug charges are still pending in the U.S. Attorney’s office.