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.

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.