Posted by : admin | On : November 12, 2015

softball players

Malakoff High School softball players Candace Denis (left) and Hazel Puempel each signed a letter of intent to attend college on a softball scholarship. Denis signed with the University of Massachusetts, while Puempel signed with Texas Woman’s University. The ceremony was held Wednesday, Nov. 11 in the Malakoff High School gymnasium.



Posted by : admin | On : November 12, 2015

malakoff city council

The News Photo/Russell Slaton
Malakoff Elementary School teachers receive applause Nov. 5 for their efforts in securing a 2015 National Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Dept. of Education, as part of the school’s National Blue Ribbon Celebration.

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

MALAKOFF–The City of Malakoff has severed ties with the Malakoff Volunteer Fire Department and will rely on outside agencies to provide first-response emergency protection for now, decided Malakoff city council members during Monday, Nov. 9’s monthly meeting, which included a two-hour executive session.

The volunteer fire department (VFD) works under an at-will agreement with the City of Malakoff, which was terminated immediately, said Malakoff’s city attorney, Hank Skelton of Athens. The future of the Malakoff VFD, which was organized in 1949, remains unclear, as does ownership of the fire station and equipment.

The point of contention was response times, with Skelton saying the department lacked the personnel to answer calls. Malakoff’s fire chief, Kirk Kebodeaux, said issues have arisen during weekday working hours, with VFD members working daytime jobs. Those calls have been picked up by other departments.

Kebodeaux said he was trying to address the situation by entering into an automatic aid agreement with a neighboring department, meaning that a single call summoned each VFD.

Kebodeaux also said he had three pending applicants to the 16-member VFD who would be available during daytime hours. The VFD chief also said he was recruiting more members on social media.

The city council’s decision came about a month after Henderson County canceled its contract with the Malakoff VFD. That decision cost the fire department about $10,000 in annual funding from the county, Kebodeaux said.

Kebodeaux said he learned the department had its response areas outside Malakoff split up among neighboring departments after the decision had been made by Henderson County officials. “I was shocked I was not even notified in writing,” he said.

The Malakoff VFD had been limited to calls within the Malakoff city limits, with departments from Log Cabin, Caney City and Trinidad also answering calls. That arrangement with area departments is expected to be expanded to take up Malakoff VFD’s void, Skelton said.

Southside VFD, based in Shady Grove, also announced in a late 2014 mailing that its response area had expanded to include “Malakoff residents” on FM 2636 and FM 3441, along with county roads 1202, 1203, 1211, 1217, 1219, 1220, 1221 and 1309, as well as Crescent Oaks Drive, Fontenot Acres Road and Airstrip Road.

Volunteers comprise 69 percent of firefighters in the United States, according to the National Volunteer Fire council. Membership in the volunteer ranks has declined 12 percent since 1984, the national council states.

Also during the meeting, council members:
• adopted a proclamation honoring Malakoff Elementary School as a National Blue Ribbon School.
• nominated Phil Tucker for a one-year term as the Place 4 representative on the Henderson County Appraisal District board of directors.
• Set Saturday, Nov. 14 as the annual fall citywide cleanup, which lasts from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
• appointed Rebecca Ray as city prosecutor for the Malakoff Municipal Court. Municipal Judge Bill Burton said previous prosecutor Daniel Barnes has taken another job in Fort Worth. Ray has been with the county attorney’s office since 2009 and has been a city prosecutor in Payne Springs.
“She is ethical, honest and hard working,” city attorney Skelton said in recommendation, adding: “And one of the few lawyers to get the best of me.”



Posted by : admin | On : September 30, 2015

The News staff reports
MALAKOFF–Four banners marking the accomplishments of former Malakoff High School basketball coach Deartis Nickerson have been put back up in the Malakoff gym.
Last week, The News reported that several people expressed displeasure Sept. 21 over the decision during a MISD school board meeting. MISD Superintendent Randy Perry provided The News with the following statement:
“Not all of the banners were taken down,” Perry said. “Coach Nickerson’s 500th win banner remained to recognize his accomplishments. There were four other banners marking his 100, 200, 300 and 400th wins. Those banners were taken down and given to Coach Nickerson for him to keep. His picture remains on the wall of fame as the only non student-athlete from MHS.”
“Deartis Nickerson is no longer the basketball coach at Malakoff High School after retiring at the end of the last school year. We have a new coach now, and the thought at the campus was that some of the banners needed to come down, while of course, still respecting the accomplishments of Coach Nickerson. We had several members of the community get upset that four of the five banners had been removed. Several of these folks expressed their concerns to the school board, and have now been put back up in the gym out of respect to the wishes of the community members who spoke up.”



Posted by : admin | On : September 30, 2015

Blue Ribbon seal
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF–It’s official: Malakoff Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The announcement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was played over the Malakoff Elementary School intercom, said MES principal Ronny Snow. Snow credited the staff at MES for achieving the status, as well as its students. “This staff has pushed for excellence and students have responded,” Snow said.
In late January, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) nominated 25 Texas public schools for national 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition. Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels.
In its 33-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 8,000 of America’s schools. All schools were selected as exemplary high performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 25 percent or greater.
“We have been asked by many other school districts that come spend time with us about what it is that we are doing,” Snow said. “I’ll tell them staff continuity and all recognizing the task at hand and every grade level being on the same page. Probably the two best specific things that we do for achievement are, number one, our afterschool tutorial program. It lets us work in small groups and has been very beneficial to our students. The second thing would be the use of mentoring minds as a supplemental instruction piece. It is very rigorous and if students are able to do it then any state testing is no issue for them.”
Nationally, only 332 campuses in 44 states were selected for this honor, said Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry. “Malakoff ISD wants to congratulate the teachers and staff at Malakoff Elementary along with their principal, Mr. Ronny Snow, for this distinction,” Perry said.
Snow, along with three teachers, will be attending the National Blue Ribbon Conference in Washington, D.C., on November 9 and 10 to accept the award. Those teachers are Christy Jackson, Kasey Holt and Shay Masterson.
“They represent third and fifth grades, which are the tested grades,” Snow said. “All are longtime Malakoff Elementary School employees and between them they have 50 years of experience, all at Malakoff Elementary School.”



Posted by : admin | On : July 14, 2015

Mal Rotary

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF – Prison ministry is now the name of the game for Bill Glass, a former Baylor football player who was inspired by Billy Graham to preach to the imprisoned.
Those facts and others were shared by A.J. Tusberg, who told Malakoff Rotarians Tuesday, July 7 about Behind the Walls, the prison ministry Glass started in 1972. “We show that there’s hope out there on the outside, and that they can make it,” Tusberg said. “We look at a person and think, ‘What would Jesus do?’”
The nationwide ministry has local outreach, including events at the Texas Department of Corrections complex in Anderson County as well as at the Henderson County Jail in Athens. The incarcerated reached by Behind the Walls can range from those biding their time on death row, or youthful offenders in correctional facilities. Last year, the ministry reached 45,000 people, and has served more than a million since its start.
Rotarian Jeanie Seely, a Malakoff insurance agent, also takes part in Behind the Walls’ ministry efforts. It’s an interdenominational outreach which “pulls all of us together,” Seely said. “Every time I go I enjoy it more and more,” she added.
Tusberg said that the prison events are very safe for the general public. “These are people who want to see and hear God,” he said. “We visit people who haven’t had visitors in years. We’re helping them understand there is hope and that life can change, even behind bars.”
Ninety-eight cents of every dollar donated goes to the nonprofit organization’s mission, Tusberg pointed out. Each event can cost between $6,000 and $8,000, he added.
For more information about joining the prison ministry, go online to or call 972- 298-1101.



Posted by : admin | On : June 5, 2015

Cedar Creek flood
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF–Late Thursday night, May 28, westbound State Highway 31 was closed between Trinidad and Malakoff by Texas Department of Transportation officials because of water washing over the road. That closure came because Cedar Creek spilled over the northern portion of the highway, which is lower in elevation than its eastbound twin.

The southern part of the duplexed highway, which normally carries two lanes of eastbound traffic, was divided into one lane each for east-west traffic flow, with orange traffic barrels denoting the division. Westbound vehicles were forced to take a left over an existing paved median crossing at the top of Booger Hill, joining the southernmost part of the divided highway into Trinidad. That southern side was the original routing before the road was four-laned with a median in the late 1960s, shortly after the completion of Cedar Creek Lake.
Even though Cedar Creek is dammed to form Cedar Creek Lake just above this portion of Highway 31, major flooding along the Trinity River has backed up into the creek. That, along with localized flood waters, caused the closure. Because of Cedar Creek Lake’s construction during the early-to-mid 1960s, TxDOT engineers believed the reservoir would control flooding sufficiently, requiring fewer bridges and a lower elevation for the new, northern, westbound lanes of traffic.

The last time State Highway 31 was closed because of high water in the Cedar Creek bottom between Malakoff and Trinidad was in the spring of 1990, which was another season of heavy rains. Westbound traffic seeking to go past Malakoff on Highway 31 was advised by TxDOT signs at Highway 31’s Y-intersection with U.S. Highway 175 in Athens to detour through Gun Barrel City along U.S. 175 and State Highway 334 to Seven Points, then down State Highway 274 to rejoin Highway 31 in Trinidad.

That 38-mile detour in 1990 past what normally covered the 15 miles between Athens and Trinidad came because state highway officials had already commenced construction on improving the eastbound bridges on the southern side of the Cedar Creek bottom. The 1990 construction had already narrowed that side’s traffic down to one lane, making two-way contraflow infeasible.

Further downstream, Cedar Creek also inundated FM 1667 (League Line Road) near the former Creslenn Park, south of Trinidad. That stretch remains closed as of The News’ June 3 press time for this edition.



Posted by : admin | On : June 5, 2015

Emergency worker COMP

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF – Four people went to the hospital over Memorial Day weekend after bailing off all-terrain vehicles to avoid an oncoming train while riding down its right-of-way.
The Saturday, May 23 incident occurred along the Union Pacific tracks, directly behind Malakoff’s Antioch Baptist Church. It prompted responses from the Log Cabin, Caney City and Payne Springs volunteer fire departments (VFDs).

The train rounded a slight curve about 2 p.m. when the engineer spied the four ATV riders and brought the train to a halt, said Mike Tanner, the Log Cabin VFD assistant chief. Tanner said none of the people or ATVs were struck by the train.

Most injuries appeared to be from the fall down the railroad right-of-way’s steep, rocky side, the assistant fire chief said. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, he added. First responders initially tried two different routes from nearby State Highway 31 in unsuccessful efforts to reach the scene. Muddy conditions and a creek that runs parallel to the railroad bed thwarted those efforts.

Eventually, medical personnel entered through an adjacent gated property and made their way to the scene by foot. One of those injured went to the hospital by East Texas Medical Center ambulance, while another was airlifted to the same hospital in Athens. Two more, Tanner said, went to the hospital by private vehicle.
No further word on the condition of the four people, nor their identities, is known as of Wednesday, June 3’s press time for this edition of The News.



Posted by : admin | On : April 27, 2015

Julie armstrong
Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry and board member Rick Vieregge thank Julie Armstrong and First State Bank for their support of the students of Malakoff ISD through the Stand Up For Public Schools program from the Texas Association of School Boards.

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF– Malakoff ISD trustees during April 20’s monthly meeting officially hired Don Enis of Kerens to take over the Tiger basketball program from retiring DeArtis Nickerson.
Enis has also coached at Dawson and Kerens, which he took to the 2012 state semifinal game in Austin. In his eight seasons at Kerens, Enis racked up several district championships and regional appearances, and this past season was named the District 19-2A co-coach of the year.
Enis will teach English at Malakoff, said Superintendent Randy Perry. In addition to Enis, all teachers who have not turned in resignations were rehired by the school district during Monday’s meeting, Perry said, who added that the district has hired Krista Stutts to teach first grade.
Also during the MISD meeting, trustees discussed roofing problems at the Leo Orr alternative campus, as well as possible remedies. Superintendent Perry said there are currently six leaks, none of which are where students are housed. Perry said the school will talk to insurance adjusters about repairs, and said the leaks likely stem from previous hail damage that eventually allowed water to leak through the roof underpinning. Most of the facility is used for storage, he added.
The Malakoff school board also recognized First State Bank of Athens, Malakoff branch during the meeting under the “Stand Up for Texas Public Schools“ program. The program was established by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to celebrate business support provided in local communities, express appreciation to those who stand up for schools, and encourage more businesses to participate in this sort of community service.
“The TASB program allows us to recognize businesses in district that are especially supportive,” Perry said, “and always being there for anything we needed. Julie Armstrong (FSB branch manager) has been a strong supporter of both our athletics and academics programs. She has made resources available from First State Bank for anything we need. We’re glad they’re such a positive force for Malakoff ISD.”
TASB president Andra Self also was present during the Malakoff meeting, where she presented district staffer and video sponsor Jerri Cheek a check for $2,500, the prize for the school district’s second-place entry in the TASB “Texas Schools Rock” video contest. Perry is “very proud” of the effort, and said the video is available on the school district’s website.
Trustees also reviewed state school funding, as well as the future of the ASATR program, which stands for additional state aid for tax reduction. That is a program instituted by the state legislature in 2006, Perry said, which was when the state also cut property taxes by one-third. One-third of bigger or property-rich districts were defined by the state as “hold harmless,” Perry said, and those districts received additional state funding to make up for revenue loss.
That program is going away in the 2017-18 school year, and Perry reviewed the figures with trustees. For example, Malakoff reverts $1.6 million in taxes back to state, from which Texas sends back $1.4 million, keeping $400,000. That difference would be lost without the ASATR program, as would money considered “recaptured,” a provision of the Texas school finance system through which property wealth in the state’s wealthiest districts is used to help support less-rich districts.
Between loss of ASATR funds and recapture, the district is looking at an additional $1.2 million in cuts to stay balanced, which would follow the $900,000 in cuts the district made in 2011 in response to the state cutting $5.4 billion from education funding during that year’s legislative session. Earlier, trustees also reviewed its spending template. There have been two separate bills before the state legislature with differing amounts on what’s provided for education, Perry said. “We’re kind of in limbo right now, but will adjust when we see what legislature does,” he said.
Trustees also heard reports on the school’s food service audit by the state, and passed a resolution for raising the price of meals for non-students, as well as for second meals. The audit was excellent, Perry said, and the state was very impressed with the school’s food service department, he added. The state did recommend that the district raise the meal prices, which the board did, with a vote to move adult and second meals to $3.50 from the current $3, which will take effect in August.
In addition, the board approved a five-year contract with energy provider MP2. The district pays 5 cents per kilowatt hour now, but the new contract reduces that rate to 4.33 cents. MP2 also provides energy for Palestine ISD and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Perry said.
The board also approved its depository contract with First State Bank of Athens, and also heard Malakoff ISD athletics director and head football coach Jamie Driskell about the “Malakoff Night of Champions,” which will be held Friday, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. instead of a traditional athletics banquet. The Night of Champions will allow supporters to come see the student-athletes “put in the work behind the Friday night action or basketball game, all the things they do to get stronger and faster,” Perry said. For instance, there will be a lift-a-thon to raise money for athletics programs, in addition to a dinner during which athletes will be recognized.
Also, Perry told trustees about the school’s UIL academics, which finished a close second at the recent district academic meet, as well as activities that are going “great guns” right now, Perry said, between Malakoff entries at the Henderson County Livestock Show, the first baseball district championship since 1994 success in softball and one-act play advancing to area. State testing continues across the district, Perry said, and the school sent its application to the U.S. Department of Education for the federal government’s Blue Ribbon schools program, for which Malakoff Elementary School was nominated by the state education commissioner. The district is now waiting to hear back for the final report, which Perry said will be issued in September.



Posted by : admin | On : April 8, 2015

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
TRINIDAD–The City of Trinidad is without its own active police force Wednesday when Police Chief James Cook and officer Andrew Brunette announced their resignation.
Cook and Brunette will be on paid administrative leave until April 21, the date of the next scheduled city council meeting. Trinidad Mayor Larry Estes said he expects council members to begin the process of restaffing the vacancies during that meeting.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department will be taking over law enforcement in the interim and at press time are transferring city evidence to county detectives.
Estes learned the shocking news during a business meeting with Cook and Brunette early Wednesday morning. Cook had been with the force since July 2013, and Brunette, since October 2013.
The Trinidad Police Department has been with just two staff members since former officer Jarod Mills’ resignation at a special council meeting January 13. The council agreed in the cost-cutting move to not replace Mills and free up money in the budget.
Estes could not specify what circumstances led to Cook and Brunette’s resignation. A call to the Trinidad Police Department Wednesday was unable to uncover specifics either, as Cook was in transition planning. Cook stated “I have no comment and am in a hurry.”
This was Cook’s second stint as the Trinidad Police Chief. He previously served as chief in 2007 and resigned after a dispute with former District Attorney Donna Bennett. He has since served in law enforcement with Jasper County, Log Cabin City and Athens.
His return to Trinidad was heralded with lofty goals to “clean up the city” by enforcing city code to bring property owners into compliance.
“City code enforcement is our first priority,” Cook had said. “We need to get the city presentable to get people to move here, not away from here.”



Posted by : admin | On : December 30, 2014

Athens Fire-Shawna Smith-5-29

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
HENDERSON COUNTY–Much has transpired in Henderson County in the past year. From the courthouse’s birthday, to school bomb threats, to tragic accidents, these are the stories that mattered to us the most at The News.

AMWA dispute resolved: Voters decided to keep the Athens Municipal Water Authority (AMWA) afloat on Election Day May 10 after 668 voters decided not to dissolve the authority, with 590 voters in favor. The decision came after the Athens City Council voted to dissolve the authority in January. AMWA scrambled to come up with enough signatures to push the decision to a vote decided by Athens residents.

Two Grand Jury Indictments: Two Athens residents were indicted by a Grand Jury in 2014. The first was Stacie Marie Parsons, 25, of Athens. Parsons confessed to killing her 4-year-old daughter July 21 after an argument with her common law husband the previous day. The other was Raheem Mark Miller, 19, of Athens. Raheem was charged with the June 8 shooting death of Malakoff resident Cedrick Collins, 23, whose death occurred during a robbery.

Bomb Threats: Athens had two bomb threat scares in about a two week time frame. The Henderson County Courthouse and all five Athens ISD schools were all evacuated on two separate dates. The courthouse threat was called in Oct. 23 and ISD threat came Nov. 5. No bombs were found and nobody was injured. Athens ISD is offering $1,000 to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for the threats on the schools.

New Athens Chamber President: After a long search, Mike Coston took over the job as the Athens Chamber of Commerce President last August. Coston replaced former president Mark Rathe, who moved back to Oklahoma to be closer to family.

Home of the Hamburger: Good Morning Texas filmed a live segment at the Athens city hall April 23 about Athens being the “Home of the hamburger.” According to many in Athens, the first hamburger in the world was taken from a small cafe in Athens all the way to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
Walk-a-Mile: Men put on their high heels for a stroll around the Athens square for the second year in a row for the annual Walk a Mile in her Shoes March 31. The event raises domestic violence awareness and challenges men to put an end to abuse.

Agriculturist of the Year: Ken McGee, Jr., won the Joe B. Fulgham Agriculturist of the Year award May 20 after the annual Farm and Ranch Tour. McGee’s father, Kenneth, won the same award in 1993.
Fertilizer plant fire: Just two week after claiming the Agriculturist of the Year award, McGee watched his storage facility near the courthouse square in Athens burn to the ground days before the Old Fiddler Reunion. The aftermath was initially investigated as a crime scene, but no wrongdoing was found. The fire sparked a blaze of controversy and media attention because the facility stores ammonium nitrate, the same substance found in the massive explosion in West. When the smoke cleared, the Athens City Council approved an ordinance in December not allowing the flammable fertilizer in a zoning district within city limits.

Old Fiddlers: With the area just off the square still on lockdown after the fire, Dale Morris Jr., of Fort Worth, went on to take home the title of Grand Champion at the Old Fiddler’s Reunion on the Athens square May 31.

County Courthouse 100th birthday: Henderson County residents and officials celebrated the 100th birthday of the Henderson County Courthouse May 23. Notable activity included a time capsule placed in the ground, to be opened up in 2114.

Troubled officer: Former Malakoff police officer Ernest Fierro lost his Peace Officer license in a settlement that included nine years deferred adjudication and 40 hours community service on the charge of aggravated assault. Fierro was off duty December 2013 when he stopped and cuffed an elderly Iowa man who later died of cardiac arrest.

Tragedy on the tracks: 14-year-old Malakoff resident Harry Smith died June 26 when he ran in front of a passing train while trying to cross the railroad tracks. Smith was clipped in the leg crossing from his home, directly south of the tracks at the intersection of the Union Pacific Railroad and FM 3441 and died from his injuries. A memorial for Smith was erected at Jake’s Skate Park in Malakoff.

New leader at the Performing Arts Center: Longtime Henderson County Performing Arts Center Executive Director Dennis Gilmore retired after 25 years of service last February. Gilmore oversaw a tremendous period of growth from the one-time “Athens Little Theatre.” Gilmore traded a home in Athens for the sunny beaches of Palm Spring, Calif. Marcia Colbert took over the role in March. Colbert has served on the HCPAC board since 2003.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Shirts were on display on the courthouse lawn last October as part of The Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is a world wide awareness program that is facilitated locally through the East Texas Crisis Center representing domestic violence victims in Henderson County.

ISD Chief resigns after theft: Former Malakoff ISD Police Chief Todd Gilmore resigned after making bond from the Henderson County Jail last May. Gilmore confessed to stealing $1,500 in cash from Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens after being confronted with video surveillance footage.

Cop killer gets execution date: Convicted killer Randall Wayne Mays knows when his final day will be. Mays was convicted of killing Henderson County deputies Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn, in May 17, 2007 when they responded to Mays’ Payne Springs ranch on a domestic call. Mays execution date is set for March 18, 2015.

TVCC sports:
Trinity Valley Community College saw muiltiple sports championships in 2014. The No. 1 ranked TVCC Lady Cardinals won their third consecutive national basketball championship March 22 at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan. The match up was a repeat of the the 2012 title game. The Lady Cardinals now lay claim to eight titles, in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Not to be outdone, the Cardinals football team won the Texas championship by defeating the Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens 27-24 in the Heart of Texas Bowl. They finished the year with a perfect 12-0 record.

Tigers Roar:
The Malakoff Tigers football team fielded one of its best squads ever in 2014, maintaining a top-10 state ranking all season. The Tigers ended the season with a 9-2 record and a disapointing first round loss in the playoffs.