Dec

14

Posted by : admin | On : December 14, 2017

By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–With 35 percent of the plans complete, Monday night the Athens City Council heard that the proposed renovations of the beloved Cain Center could have a price tag upwards of $9 million. Gallagher Construction Manager Bill Morgan told council member that construction could come in at $8,247,986, with a total cost of $9,655,320.
At issue is the deterioration and degradation of the HVAC equipment which requires total replacement, along with electrical and plumbing systems. Discussion centered around how to reduce the total cost of the project without producing a compromised facility – one that would not serve the citizens of Athens in the long term.
Council debated the use of a chiller HVAC system vs. a conventional rooftop system due to the environment of an indoor pool. According to a HVAC website, “More than half of the large buildings in the world today are conditioned by a chiller which plays a critical role in creating the right environment. Not only do chillers serve HVAC systems that deliver the right temperature, humidity and ventilation for the space, but they also help minimize operating costs with superior energy efficiency levels, low sound levels and with minimal environmental impact.”
Another item discussed was the enclosure around the pool area which was designed to be overhead doors that could be raised to create a natural environment for the pool in good weather vs. a glass enclosure similar to the one that exists presently. After discussion of cost-saving measures, bringing total costs down to approximately $8.5 million councilman Ed McCain said, “This has ballooned to a point of absurdity. We can’t afford it. We never could afford it.”
Council questioned the construction group as to whether this could be done for five million and were told that a bare bones renovation would be a compromised facility, not a long-term facility that would serve the citizens of Athens for decades to come, the multi-purpose, multi-generational facility that was envisioned.
Mayor Monte Montgomery said, “I am for the Cain Center. I have always been for the Cain Center. I want it to come through.” When asked by the construction manager for a direction to proceed, council members determined to hold a workshop in the next week or so to sort through the issues and determine a course of action.

Dec

14

Posted by : admin | On : December 14, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
AUSTIN–The District 5 Congressional seat being vacated by Jeb Hensarling, who recently announced he would not be seeking re-election has attracted a number of contenders. Names published for the congressional seat are: Dist. 4 Texas House Rep. Lance Gooden.Bunni Pounds, Earl Brunner, Danny Campbell, David Williams, Charles Lingerfelt, Jason Wright and Kenneth Sheets, as well as Dan Wood, as a Democrat candidate.
District 5 serves an area that includes the southeast portion of Dallas County including Mesquite plus a number of smaller counties south and east of Dallas including Anderson, Cherokee, Henderson and Kaufman counties. As of the 2000 census, the 5th district represents 651,620 people.
Kaufman County Republican Chairman Jimmy Weaver explained that the SOS list is not certified and therefore unofficial. It will take until Dec. 21 to become certified, he said.
“There are a number of quirky rules that allow the party an extension on the filings, such as in the case where a position is empty, due to several reasons,” he told The News. Sam Deen appears as filed for Congressional District 5 on the Texas Republicans website, txgop.org, but not on the SOS candidate filing list.
No less than 10 Democrats are running for Governor in the Primary and only two for the Republican ticket, one being SECEDE Kilgore, who represents those who adamantly protest abortion, excessive taxes and social security, according to his social media page. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick drew one GOP challenger, Scott Milder of Rockwall.
In other March Primary races, several have filed just prior to the Dec. 11 filing deadline.
According to Henderson County Party Chair Betty Holland, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney will run for county judge, opposing attorney Jeff Weinstein for the seat being vacated by Richard Sanders at the end of the year.
Three candidates have lined up for McKinney’s commissioner seat: David Conner, Joshua Bardwell and Scott Tuley. Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin has filed for re-election as has Kelly Harris. JP 5 is being contested by incumbent Belinda Brownlow, Patrick Gresham and Rick Simmons.
Precinct 2 JP will be contested by sitting justice Kevin Pollock and former officeholder Dale Blaylock.
Dr. Stuart Spitzer has filed for his former seat in the State House for District 4; as has Ashley McKee and Marty Reid. Democrat Eston Williams has also filed for the Texas House of Representatives.
John Wray is running unopposed for House Seat District 10, which covers those living on the west side of Cedar Creek Lake.
Henderson County incumbents who have filed without opposition include:
• Justices of the Peace – Precinct 1 Randy Daniel, Precinct 3 Tony Duncan and Precinct 4 Milton Adams.
• Court-at-Law judges 1 Scott Williams and 2 Nancy Perryman.
• Distinct Court Clerk Betty Herriage
• County Treasurer Michael Bynum
• County Clerk Mary Margaret Wright, and
• 173rd District County Judge Dan Moore.

Dec

07

Posted by : admin | On : December 7, 2017

Gooden 2017 headshot CMYK
Special to The News
TERRELL–On Monday, State Representative Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) announced his run for Congress before an overflow crowd in Kaufman County at a rally celebrating property owners’ victory in an annexation battle that has raged on for months. A Dallas County city tried to fast track the annexation of land in Kaufman County and Rep. Gooden organized the successful opposition.
“Seven years ago, I ran for this seat in the Texas House because I was tired of do-nothing politicians in Austin who were failing to protect our freedoms, our property, our values, and our tax dollars,” Rep. Gooden said. “Since then, we have fought together to move the conservative agenda forward, and together we have delivered one victory after another for the families of rural Texas. There is no better example of the power of a dedicated group of conservatives than this victory over the big government forces who believed that our land belonged to them.”
Rep. Gooden, who represents the citizens of Henderson and Kaufman counties in Austin, has been widely recognized as one of the most effective leaders in the Texas House for his ability to turn sound, conservative policy into law.
A few of his legislative achievements during his three terms in the House of Representatives include:
• banning sanctuary cities in Texas and fully funding the most comprehensive state border security plan in the nation,
• successfully de-funding Planned Parenthood, banning partial birth abortion, and strengthening Texas’ Alternatives to Abortion program,
• writing and passing the state’s most conservative budget,
• crusading against Obamacare and voting to block its expansion into Texas,
• fighting for our local public schools and defeating a voucher plan that would have sent tax dollars to unaccountable entities,
• rescuing our retired teachers’ health insurance system from bankruptcy and collapse and
• defending religious liberty and successfully fighting to keep “Christ” in Christmas in Texas law.
“As proud as I am of the things we have achieved together in Austin, when I look at the Washington swamp, I see a political class of insiders in both parties who are failing the people they are intended to represent,” Rep. Gooden continued. “They have failed to secure our border in spite of Republican majorities. They have piled trillions of dollars of debt on the shoulders of the next generation, and now we learn they are secretly using tax dollars to settle sexual harassment claims against members of Congress. Yet they still can’t find the funds to properly care for our military veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. This is simply immoral, and I feel called to do something about it.”
“Make no mistake, the Washington establishment will not go quietly. They are already lining up behind their hand-picked candidates, many of whom do not even live in our district and who couldn’t find Alto or Elmo on a map if their lives depended on it.”
“We need a new Congressman of East Texas, by East Texas and for East Texas who understands the traditional values that we share, and who knows that our churches and our schools and our shops on Main Street are the lifeblood of our communities. Our way of life is sacred, and it is worth fighting to protect and defend for our children and our children’s children. With your support and your prayers, I am ready to go to Washington and do the same thing that I did in Austin – roll up my sleeves, fight for you, and win for you.”
Rep. Gooden has deep roots in Congressional District 5. He grew up in Terrell, graduated from Terrell High School, and earned degrees from the University of Texas. He works in business development, and his wife, Alexa, is a real estate agent. They live in Terrell where they attend the Rockwall and Brin Church of Christ. The Goodens are expecting their first child, a baby boy, in February.
Rep. Gooden rolled out endorsements of mayors and elected officials across the district who have encouraged him to run for Congress, including Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery, Chandler Mayor Libby Fulgham, Coffee City Mayor Pam Drost, Crandall Mayor Mike Parker, Eustace Mayor Dustin Shelton, Forney Mayor Rick Wilson, Gun Barrel City Mayor Jim Braswell, Kaufman Mayor Jeff Jordan, Kemp Mayor Laura Peace, Mabank Mayor Jeff Norman, Rosser Mayor Shannon Corder, Terrell Mayor D.J. Ory, Kaufman County Sheriff Bryan Beavers, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse and Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley.
Visit Gooden’s Facebook page at @lancegoodenfortexas for regular updates from the campaign trail.

Nov

22

Posted by : admin | On : November 22, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
MALAKOFF–The Malakoff City Council reacted positively to the first reading of a request from the Malakoff ISD School Board to annex property at the high school into the city.
Mayor pro-tem Tim Trimble explained the request was made to include the new high school for police protection. The property consists of two parcels each more than 40 acres in the Peter Tumlinson Survey.
Council members also adopted resolutions authorizing the application for two Community Development Block Grants through the General Land Office. If granted, the 1 percent match grants would replace and upgrade two sewer pipes going to the wastewater treatment plant. The second application pertains to a drainage improvement project on the east side of the community center.
Kenneth Coignet from Public Management, said the grants would total $986,000 and $936,000, or nearly a million dollars, each. “The General Land Office has made $17M available for projects connected to FEMA 2015 storm events. There’s no guarantee, but we can try.” The applications will be completed and sent out on Nov. 30, he said following the unanimous approval.
After a lengthy executive session, the council authorized city attorney Hank Skelton to issue a letter to Star Harbor attorney Kelly Myers stating the City of Malakoff does not wish to alter the Dec. 16, 2016 contract it offered to the City of Star Harbor.
The council took no action in open session regarding a public information request, but rather just consulted with its attorney on the matter in closed session.

Nov

16

Posted by : admin | On : November 16, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–Voters across the state agreed to change the Texas State Constitution in seven propositions with fewer than 5 percent of registered voters casting ballots Tuesday. No statewide or county offices were on the ballot and few municipalities school districts or other taxing entities appeared either. .
The seven state propositions included:
• an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or surviving spouse if the homestead was donated by a charity for less than the market value. Prop 6 is similar but is applied to the surviving spouse of first responders who are killed in the line of duty
Prop 2 makes refinancing a home easier with more choices, which covers agricultural homesteads and lines of credit.
Prop 3 limits the service of appointed officials by the governor, restricting it to the legislative session.
Prop 4 allows the legislature to require a court to notify the attorney general o a challenge brought against a state statute, so the AG has opportunity to deend the statute.
Prop 5 authorizes the 10 Texas major league sports franchises that had charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles. Prop 5 would expand that number to include hockey, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, motorsports, golf teams and minor leagues, as well as major leagues.
Prop 7 is similar as it allows credit unions and other financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings.

Nov

16

Posted by : admin | On : November 16, 2017

Christina Roberts pins a commemorative ribbon on World War II Veteran Jesse Garrett. All the veterans attending the service were presented with ribbons, thanking them for their service.

Christina Roberts pins a commemorative ribbon on World War II Veteran Jesse Garrett. All the veterans attending the service were presented with ribbons, thanking them for their service.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society welcomed a crowd to the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 10, where veterans, families and friends paid honor to veterans past and present.
Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders welcomed the veterans and family members and thanked those who journeyed out to support and honor the veterans. “I think about our freedoms, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, the right to assemble and our freedom of speech,” Sanders said and then asked the veterans who were able, to stand. “This is why we have these freedoms, the reason we can smell the sweet smell of freedom in this country.”
He went on to say, “This nation was founded on freedom, but it has taken the great sacrifice of these men and women to preserve our freedom.”
Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery gave the invocation and led the pledges to the American and Texas flags. Boy Scout Troop 343 members Gabe Carbajal and Ethan Kobelia posted the colors.
Second-generation U.S. Marine Veteran Michael Goodman who served two tours of duty overseas, said, “Today is a double honor for me as it is the official birthday of the Marine Corps., founded in a tavern 242 years ago.”
He went on to say, “As veterans, we took an oath to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic and to date, no one has delivered us of that oath.” Goodman pointed out that 7.3 percent of the population has served in the armed forces and 20 million veterans are alive today. “It is the mission of these veterans to carry the torch of freedom and pass it down to future generations, to be keepers of the oath.”
Goodman quoted Thomas Paine who said, “Those that want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.”
Featured speaker Representative Lance Gooden was unavailable to speak since he was at a hearing fighting against the forced annexation of Kaufman County land by the city of Mesquite. Athens City Councilman Ed McCain stood in his place, praising Gooden for his accomplishments in the past legislative session including reduced fees for license to carry permits and tax relief for disabled veterans.
McCain told the story of two Marines in his life, his grandfather and his brother. Colonel Warren McCain, his grandfather, who joined the Marine Corps in 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, after having served in the Army and getting his education. He went on to fight in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. “He lived the American Dream, born in the dustbowl and went on to defend his country honorably. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. This was always a huge source of pride for our family.”
A few months after Sept. 11, McCain’s brother Ryan felt the call to serve his country. McCain had taken on a fatherly role with his brother, so he was the one who took him to the recruiting depot and stood at Parris Island as he graduated.
“One day he called me and said he was going to Afghanistan. At that moment when the most important thing in my life was threatened, I began to understand the sacrifice. The message I would like to give our millionaire athletes who play children’s games on Sunday, is that if you felt for an instant, that terror I felt, you wouldn’t kneel during our National Anthem.”
McCain’s brother served his country and is now an air traffic controller.
South Athens Elementary fourth-graders, led by teacher Barbara Railsback, entertained the crowd with patriotic songs including a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.” Boy Scout Troop 343 presented a commemorative wreath from the Daniel McMahon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Nov

02

Posted by : admin | On : November 2, 2017

The News Staff Reports
HENDERSON COUNTY–On Thursday, Texas R-Congressman Jeb Hensarling announced he will not be seeking re-election.
“Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling stated. “Throughout this time, my family has graciously sacrificed for my service. As the parents of two teenagers, Melissa and I know there are only a few years left before they leave and make their own way in life. I want to be there for those years. Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure.”
He said that during the remaining 14 months of his term, he will continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise and limited constitutional government.
He expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the support he’s received and for “the trust you have placed in me to advance the principles we share.”
Also this week, in the state house Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced he was not seeking re-election for the 2019 session, stopping one term short of setting a possible record as Speaker.
As late as last month (September), Straus was saying he would seek a record sixth term as speaker and that he wouldn’t be running for the House if that weren’t true.
In his statement, San Antonio Republican Straus acknowledged his decision was “unexpected.”
“It’s been decades since someone has left the Speaker’s office on his own terms,” Straus said. “But we have accomplished what I hoped the House would accomplish when I first entered this office, and I am increasingly eager to contribute to our state in new and different ways.”
“I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year,” Straus said in a campaign email.
Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, called Straus’ decision a “political earthquake” and said dynamics at the Legislature will definitely shift without Straus at the helm of the House. The speaker was a relatively quiet leader for his first four terms in the job. He found his voice in 2017, pushing against social conservatives whose agenda – led by what became known as the “bathroom bill” – threatened his own desire to push economic development, infrastructure and other more or less bipartisan ideas.
State house Speaker Straus’ announcement set into motion speculation about the future of Straus’ top lieutenants. One of his closest allies, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, who is chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said in a statement first reported by Quorum Report that he “will pursue other opportunities to serve our great state.”
Arch-conservative members who have opposed Straus face off against more centrist Republicans. Within hours of Straus’ announcement, one of his top lieutenants, Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, announced that he had filed to run for the speaker’s post. State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, had previously announced his candidacy, and others are expected to jump in.
Tea Party leaders and their allies have blamed Straus for killing controversial measures backed by the far right, most notably a bill that would have regulated which bathrooms transgender Texans could use.
Speaking with reporters after the announcement inside his office, Straus said he finally took the advice he always gives members: After any session, go home and talk to your constituents and family, and then make a decision about whether to run again.
“A confident leader knows it’s time to give it back,” Straus said.
No longer serving as speaker would allow a “greater opportunity to express my own views and priorities,” Straus said, adding that he would “continue to work for a Republican Party that tries to bring Texans together instead of pulling us apart.”
“Our party should be dynamic and forward-thinking, and it should appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision that embraces the future,” Straus said in the campaign email. “I plan to be a voice for Texans who want a more constructive and unifying approach to our challenges, from the White House on down.”

Oct

26

Posted by : admin | On : October 26, 2017

By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
LOG CABIN–Citizens turned out in appreciable numbers to support their volunteer fire department at the Oct. 19 meeting of the Log Cabin City Council. The City of Log Cabin held an emergency meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 to address concerns about the fire department. At that meeting, the council agreed to use the Payne Springs Volunteer Fire Department to answer calls within the city instead of their own Log Cabin Volunteer Fire Department. The Log Cabin Fire Department was not present at that meeting because they were not informed of it. Citizens took to social media to air their concerns.
With the VFD on the agenda as item 10, the citizens turned out to be heard on the matter. According to Fire Chief Cory Abbe, as of that meeting the department had 14 volunteers and nine of them were present.
The crowd grew agitated as the council dealt with agenda items, one-by-one in order. When it came to item 10, the VFD, Abbe addressed the council, asking for a meeting to present his case to keep the Log Cabin VFD responding to the city. He assured the council and mayor he would answer their concerns, one of which was adequate staffing. Mayor Lawrence Nolan and the council agreed to meet with them. As of press time Wednesday, no meeting time had been announced.
Public comments were passionate, but respectful. Lynette Busby addressed the council, praising the Log Cabin first responders for being there for her when her husband collapsed. She said, “They were there within minutes and took over CPR until the ambulance arrived. Our police chief was there and they didn’t leave me until my family arrived. There is no telling how long I would have been alone if our first responders weren’t there. They are wonderful.”
That sentiment was echoed by the other citizens who spoke. Another citizen warned the council, “if you persist, know that we are losing something that is very valuable.”
In other business, council members
• approved sale of city owned property in section 14,
• agreed to purchase golf cart from the police department for $3,800 for use by the water department,
• resolved to file for a grant with the East Texas Council of Governments for a solid waste program grant to fund a part-time litter abatement officer and help fund city-wide cleanups and
• heard reports from various city departments.

Oct

19

Posted by : admin | On : October 19, 2017

Lone Star Republican Women President Carol Morton (left) stands with Texas District 3 Senator Robert Nichols at the Sept. 12 meeting. Nichols was the guest speaker.

Lone Star Republican Women President Carol Morton (left) stands with Texas District 3 Senator Robert Nichols at the Sept. 12 meeting. Nichols was the guest speaker.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Lone Star Republican Women’s Club of Henderson County hosted Texas District 3 Senator Robert Nichols at their Oct. 12 general meeting. Senator Nichols has represented District 3 and its 19 counties since 2007. Nichols serves as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and serves on the Finance Administration and Business and Commerce Committees. He is a member of the Legislative Audit Committee and is serving his second term on the Sunset Advisory Commission.
Nichols congratulated the club on its work and influence saying, “Wherever there is a Republican Women’s Club, most of the elected officials are Republicans. You must never underestimate your effect on politics. You provide a valuable forum for our message.”
Nichols told the group that this was a tight budget year and that revenues had dropped due to the drop in the price of oil and gas. “The next session will be tight also with all the recovery from the hurricanes.”
Nichols said 11 of the 19 counties he represents were declared disaster areas during the recent hurricanes with seven having been underwater. “In Orange County alone, 26,000 of 40,000 homes were flooded. We toured the area and the debris field is expansive. It is everywhere. It is very hard on those residents.”
Nichols praised Governor Abbott as being proactive with the recovery. “He didn’t wait until he was called. He went down there and not for pictures, he went to work with the mayors to get things done.”
Nichols pointed to several accomplishments during this past legislative session. One was the appropriation of $300 million to fix the state mental hospital situation and build modern facilities. Many people in jails are there because the state mental hospitals are full, Nichols said.
Another win he pointed to was legislation aimed to help Child Protective Services, giving them their own board, taking them out from under Health and Human Services and enabling them to contract with non-profit agencies to help the children.
Economic development in the state has allowed our nation to begin exporting natural gas and also exporting the by-product which is plastics, Nichols told the group. Transportation funding is being directed to rural roads where safety is paramount. “In automobile deaths, statistics show two-thirds of them are on rural roads.”
Nichols met with every school superintendent in his area before the session to see what could be fixed. The result was a change in the funding formula that was created in the 1970s to force small rural school districts to consolidate. During the special session, some of that was reversed, phased in over the next five years which is expected to return up to several million dollars to county schools over the next five years.
Other achievements Nichols pointed out were the reduction of the license to carry fees dropped from $140 to $40, providing bullet-proof vests for law enforcement and prohibiting partial birth abortions.

Oct

12

Posted by : admin | On : October 12, 2017

Tres Winn
By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Athens City Councilman Tres Winn announced his resignation from the city council at the regular meeting Monday night. Winn, whose term is up in May 2018, told the council he is building a home outside the city limits and expects it to be finished Dec. 1.
Winn said that with so many important decisions facing the council, the new member should be on board sooner rather than later. He is expected to resign at the beginning of the next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 23. Council will have to name a replacement and elect a new mayor pro tem.
Councilwoman Toni Clay said on her Facebook page, “Not only is Tres Winn a boldly honest council member, he’s a lot of fun to sit next to at meetings. We both have the spiritual gifts of sarcasm, and he’s made me laugh at sessions that lasted longer than it took to have my first child. That’s a gift beyond counting. I’ll miss you up there, friend.”
The site plan approval for Triton Athens I, LLC was pulled from the consent agenda with Mayor Monte Montgomery declaring a conflict of interest and abstaining from the discussion and vote. The wall expected to be constructed between the development and the adjacent backyards was again discussed with several citizens weighing in.
Marci Warren spoke to the council, once again asking that the wall be in place before any construction begins so as not to lose the use of her backyard. Members of the council entered into a discussion about materials used, whether a masonry wall would hold up in the area reserved for water runoff. After comments by the developer, the council agreed to go with the recommendation of Athens Managing Director of Planning Barbara Holley, which was a masonry wall and not a hybrid. The Ordinance passed after clarifying that the wall would precede construction and that the developer would be responsible for upkeep.
In other business, council members:
• agreed to the appointment of Shannon Traxson to the Zoning Board of Adjustments
• granted a closure of the City Parking Lot and alley behind the Texan theater for the Oct. 27-28 wedding of Katie Love
• approved an Economic Feasibility Study for the Athens Municipal Airport
• granted a utility easement at 1317 S. Palestine St. for a new Dollar General Store
• re-allocated $85,000 in funds to the O.D. Baggett Park Project.