Jun

22

Posted by : admin | On : June 22, 2017

City of Malakoff Mayor Delois Pagitt (right) takes the oath of office.

City of Malakoff Mayor Delois Pagitt (right) takes the oath of office.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
MALAKOFF–The Malakoff City Council met June 12 to deal with the results of the May 6 general election. The election left the City Council with no changes as Jeanette King and Tim Trimble were sworn in as council members and Mayor Delois Pagitt was once again sworn in as mayor. Tim Trimble was also re-elected as Mayor Pro-Tem by his fellow council members. The time and date of regular council meetings also remains unchanged.
Auditor Frank Steele of Anderson, Marx & Bohl and P.C. regarding the city’s audit report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016. The auditor stated the city has $1,060,000 in cash and certificates of deposit and commended the council for their fiscal responsibility as they had spent approximately $100,000 less than budgeted.
The council adopted a resolution authorizing the continued participation with the ATMOS Cities Steering Committee to fund regulatory and activities related to ATMOS Energy Corporation.
The council convened into executive session before item 6 on the agenda which was to hear reports and updates from City of Malakoff Fire Chief Eddie Muehlstein requesting a maintenance fund, permission to destroy inventory or removal of property, permission to hold an open house on June 24 and recommendation of appointments of Officers and personnel. Chief Muehlstein was invited into the executive session.
When the council reconvened back into the regular session, permision was granted to donate some items including a used television. No action was taken on the other items.

Jun

08

Posted by : admin | On : June 8, 2017

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Henderson County taxpayers are still paying for the 2007 crimes of Randall Mays after Commissioners approved payment of his capital murder case June 6.
Only Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin opposed the payment, which totaled $21,514.47. This time the expense will go toward a mental evaluation for Mays, who was convicted in May of 2008 for killing Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn.
Geeslin said he is upset the country is still paying for Mays’ crimes and wonders why the county tried to convict him of a capital offense.
Mays was sentenced to death for his crimes and scheduled for execution in March 2015, but the court of appeals delayed the process claiming Mays might not be competent to receive the death penalty. Henderson County picks up the resulting bills for the defense because it is a capital case.
Commissioners also approved the Keep Athens Beautiful and Light Up Athens organizations to decorate the Henderson County Courthouse and lawn this winter.
Dressing up the courthouse with festive lights and decorations is a tradition in Athens, but Commissioners are compelled to go through with the vote each year anyway due to a premise use policy put in place five years ago. According the Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders, the property isn’t a public forum, but individuals or private groups can be contracted to place displays on the property.
In other business, Commissioners approved:
• a payment of $19,000 from Sportsman’s Paradise Property Owners Association for materials to repave 1,200 feet of Mallard Street in Precinct 3;
• a right-of-way permit for the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply Corporation;
• a request for a refund for overpayment of taxes from the Henderson County Tax Assessor/Collector in the amount of $8,586.45;
• payment of regular bills in the amount of $620,047.76.

Jun

01

Posted by : admin | On : June 1, 2017

ATHENS–District Attorney Mark Hall reports that the Henderson County Grand Jury for the January-June term 2017 returned 35 True Bills May 17. In addition, six cases are indicted under seal. They include:
• Kawliger Lee Connelly, 41, Kemp, indicted for Possession of Controlled Substance (PCS).
• Cecil Ray Collum, 49, Malakoff, indicted for Bail Jumping and Failure to Appear.
• Walter Edward George, Jr, 49, Mabank, indicted for Assault.
• Jack Roy Thornton, 31, Kemp, indicted for Failure to Comply with Registration Requirements.
• Matthew Wayne Harris, 34, Athens, indicted for two counts of PCS.
• Matthew James Davis Moreland, 18, Athens, indicted for two counts of PCS.
• Ernest Raydell Smalley, 24, Athens, indicted for Manufacture or Delivery of a Controlled Substance in Penalty Group One (PG1).
• Bruneswick Lakeith Jones, 45, Athens, indicted for PCS.
• James Randolph Sockwell, 36, Athens, indicted for PCS.
• Gary William McCord, 23, Trinidad, indicted for PCS.
• Donald Preston Walsh, JR, 33, Tyler, indicted for Assault.
• Joshua Michael Ochoa, 38, Malakoff, indicted for PCS.
• Jared Isaac Galindo, 31, Gun Barrel City, indicted for Aggravated Assault.
• Amy Lynn Smith, 37, Trinidad, indicted for PCS.
• Ivory Lewis Brown, 70, Athens, indicted for Theft.
• Becky Lynn Kemp, 38, Brownsboro, indicted for PCS.
• Casey Wayne Housewright, 36, Trinidad, indicted for PCS.
• Justin Tyler Beamon, 25, Mabank, indicted for Unlawful Possession of Firearm and Aggravated Assault.
• Joseph Anthony Ask, 34, Athens, indicted for PCS.
• Angelina Francesca McNabb Ferguson, 44, Tyler, indicted for PCS.
• Jesus Salidavar (a.k.a. Armando Zavala), 33, Athens, indicted for Evading Arrest or Detention.
• David Wayne Sumrall, 46, Malakoff, indicted for Assault.
• Tray Daniel Walters, 24, Kemp, indicted for Evading Arrest or Detention.
• Cynthia Ann Sonoff Hodges, 46, Corsicana, indicted for PCS.
• Maurice Cartez Miller, 38, Athens, indicted for PCS. Callie Lanae Chalk, 25, Kemp, indicted for PCS.
• James Robert Huffaker, 58, Kemp, indicted for PCS.
• Bobbie Renee Carroll, 42, Kemp, indicted for Prohibited Substances and Items in Correctional Facility.
• Travis Brax Davis, 19, Murchison, indicted for Burglary.
• Roger Allen Coleman, Jr, 46, Mabank, indicted for Forgery.
• Javier Castaneda, Jr, 18, Athens, indicted for Burglary.
• Scotty Lemond Barker, 34, Athens, indicted for Burglary of Vehicle.
• Brad Wesley McGuire, 26, Athens, indicted for PCS.
• Christopher Emil Mireles, 33, Tyler, indicted for Aggravated Robbery, Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle, Burglary, three counts and Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle.
• Billy Ray Clark, 48, Athens, indicted for PCS.
• Tray Daniel Walters, 24, Kemp, indicted for Evading Arrest or Detention.

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

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

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

30

Posted by : admin | On : March 30, 2017

worked up photos mugshots Stephen Wilcox

worked up photos
mugshots
Stephen Wilcox


worked up photos mugshots Dustin Wilcox

worked up photos
mugshots
Dustin Wilcox

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS—Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports the arrest of a father and son involved in a truck chase Tuesday morning.
Stephen Wilcox, 44 and his son, Dustin Wilcox, 26, have been arrested for theft, and evading arrest.
A team of deputies, Department of Public Safety officers, police and tracking dogs participated in the investigation and chase, Hillhouse said in a press release.
Shortly after 8 a.m., a caller reported a truck stolen near State Highway 19 South. The vehicle was tracked down to an apartment complex on Gibson Road, where it had been abandoned. The men took off in a second vehicle.
According to witnesses recording comments on social media, the vehicle crossed the loop by the hospital and ran through a stop sign on Mill Run, while being pursued and never checked up. “They almost hit my fiancé and another vehicle,” Steve Sparks wrote. “They were probably doing about 80, I’m thankful no one was hurt or killed. No regards for anyone else.”
Sheriff Hillhouse said he is relentless. “We don’t give up. If someone tries to steal here and we get a call, I’ll put everyone at my disposal on the case right then and there,” he stated in a press release.
The vehicle was finally stopped on County Road 4600. The younger Wilcox is being held on bonds totaling $60,000. His father is being held on a $50,000 bond.
At press time, word from the Sheriff was he and his deputies were involved in another vehicular pursuit Wednesday morning.

Mar

23

Posted by : admin | On : March 23, 2017

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Athens City Manager Philip Rodriguez presented city council members a “strategic map” at the council meeting March 13, outlining the goals of the city over the next two years.
The key points of the strategic map included preserving Athens’ heritage, improving its quality of life, keeping the city rooted in community pride and growing its economy.
Rodriguez assured council members that getting the Cain Center back to full functionality was a matter of large importance for the city’s sense of heritage. He said the pool in its current condition is “unsalvageable,” but said it’s in the plans over the next two years to have a pool functioning in the Cain Center than is suitable for competitive and recreational swimming.
“We want the the Cain Center to be the premier event center in Henderson County,” Rodriguez said.
To make that a reality, he said that the phase-one goal is to get the upstairs up and running where it can host events and conferences like it has in the past. He expects phase one to be complete this year. Phase two, getting the aquatic center online, is the more expensive and time consuming part of getting the Cain Center back to its past glory. He expects phase two to be complete next year.
Quality of life improvements for the city include bringing Athens ISD campuses under the umbrella of the Athens Police Department for law enforcement purposes by the 2017-2018 school year; adding two police officers to the Athens Police Department; bringing Athens into full compliance with TCEQ for water and wastewater for the first time this decade and ensuring all Athens boundaries have Emergency Notification Systems facilities.
To increase community pride, Rodriguez said enhancing code enforcement and property standards will strengthen property values and increase public safety and support the beauty of the community. A new website is also in the works that lets the user interact based on if they are a resident, visitor or business.
The big topic in the economy portion was the airport. Rodriguez wants to finalize and implement the findings of the Airport Planning Advisory Committee to expand the airport and the aviation industry in Henderson County. Other economic improvements the city will be striving for include gathering public input on new housing programs for developers and develop housing incentives for first time home buyers.
Rodriguez said he wants Athens to “be the place” investors and businesses want to come to in East Texas.
In action items, the council approved an agreement for the construction of the Texan Theater project in downtown Athens with Watson Commercial Construction in Tyler. The work will not exceed $1,498,000
The council also approved:
• a resolution making sole source findings and authorizing staff to purchase hot mix asphalt material without going through the competitive bidding process;
• the purchase of a Caterpillar Mini Excavator in the amount of $49,868 from Holt Cat of Tyler for use in line maintenance;
• the purchase of a Bobcat Compact TrackLoader in the amount of $63,758.05 from Dallas-Cedar Hill for use in the Line Maintenance Department;
• an agreement with Ben Griffith for T-Hangar No. 6 at Athens Municipal Airport;
• supplemental requests for the 2017 budget; and
• closing several streets in the vicinity of the Henderson County Courthouse during the “Celebrating the Texan” event on April 1.