Jul

27

Posted by : admin | On : July 27, 2017

Rodriguez

Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith for their bravery and outstanding sevice for rescuing a trapped resident from a multi-story structure fire June 28.

Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill (from left) presents Life Saving Awards to Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith for their bravery and outstanding sevice for rescuing a trapped resident from a multi-story structure fire June 28.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Athens City Council accepted the resignation of City Manager Philip Rodriguez at the July 25 meeting.
Rodriguez, who has been city manager for about two years, leaves to take a city manager position in Brighton, Colo., his home state. During his tenure in Athens nearly $13 million of capital improvements have begun, including the Cain Center revamp and major work to the water system.
In his resignation letter, Rodriguez detailed accomplishments made and said, “We did all of this and more while establishing a truly impressive city staff that is one of the most capable group of professionals and public servants I have ever worked with.”
Although his resignation is effective Sept. 10, it was announced at the city council meeting that his responsibility for the City of Athens would end on Aug. 8. Rodriguez thanked council members and the city for the opportunity and said a special thanks in his letter to former mayor Jerry Don Vaught for his “consistent support and mentorship.”
Athens Chamber of Commerce President had high praise for Rodriguez. “In the time that I’ve been a part of the Athens community, first with Cain Center and now the chamber, Philip has been very supportive. He is someone I’ve enjoyed working with and I’m very thankful for his service to the Athens community and his part in helping to move things to a place where good things are happening all around.”
Councilman Ed McCain said, “Philip and his family are going home to Colorado. I am very happy for him and he has done a really great job. But I am positive and forward looking. This is a great opportunity for Athens to get even better.”
McCain told The News that Athens has a great city staff and the city is primed for a great next 10 years with projects that are well underway and will be completed in a fiscally responsible manner. He also stated the city has a great possibility for an interim city manager.
Two Athens police officers were presented Life Saving Awards for rescuing a trapped resident during an early-morning structure fire in a multi-story building June 28. Patrolman Jonathan Hutchison and Corporal Roger Keith were the first to arrive on the scene and once they ascertained that there was indeed a trapped resident, they went into action to rescue her. Chief Buddy Hill said, “Without regard to their own personal safety, they pushed past the flames, entered the burning structure, located the resident and removed her.” Both officers and the resident were treated for smoke inhalation but no lasting damage.
Athens Fire Chief John McQueary praised the officers for their extreme bravery in rescuing the woman. “Those flames put out 1,200 degrees of heat and without protective gear or specialized training, they went in. All they saw was a life that needed to be saved.”
When a citizen’s request for de-annexation of his property came before the council, much discussion ensued. This was not the first time this had been brought before the council and was denied in November, 2016. The issue concerns a 31-acre tract of land (Tract 4A Abstract 135 D Cherry Sur) which the property owner was not aware was within city limits as a Lake Athens property when he purchased it.
Property owner Tom Potthoff wishes to develop the land for four homes. The city provides no services to the acreage, some 40 miles outside the city. After presentations by Potthoff and Planning and Development, council members voiced differing opinions and the item was tabled.
In other business, council members:
• heard a resolution presented by Councilwoman Toni Clay honoring Richard “Dick” Dwelle for 63 years of outstanding service to the people of Athens. Dwelle was instrumental in founding the Henderson County United Way, Keep Athens Beautiful, the Athens Industrial Foundation, the Public Library Fund and the Civic Center and Park Fund, serving on several of their boards. Dwelle passed away in June.
• agreed to allow heavy vehicles in commercial property by special-use permit so a business selling new and used trucks may operate on US 175.

Jul

27

Posted by : admin | On : July 27, 2017

Log Cabin City Secretary Belynda Figueriedo (right) admiinisters oath of office to new City Councilperson Rodney Allen. Allen replaces Jennifer Williams who resigned.

Log Cabin City Secretary Belynda Figueriedo (right) admiinisters oath of office to new City Councilperson Rodney Allen. Allen replaces Jennifer Williams who resigned.


By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
LOG CABIN–Log Cabin City Council accepted the resignation of council member Jennifer Williams and appointed Rodney Allen to take her place at the regular meeting on July 20 at the Log Cabin City Municipal Building.
The council approved some important changes to the payment of water bills and court costs which take effect Sept. 1. Water bill payments will be accepted between the hours of 8 a.m. to noon Monday
through Thursday. The policy was also amended to no longer accept cash for payment of water or court bills. Payment may be made by check, money order or credit/debit card.
Councilperson Judy Bearden told the assembly “This will make it more efficient and save time for the office personnel.” When asked what would happen if someone brought in a payment after hours, she answered, “They can put it in the drop box and it will not affect the bill being late.” The group was told there would be no change in the service fee for using a credit card.
The change will be communicated to residents via signs on the Municipal Building, newsletter and a notice on the water bill.
The council also accepted a bid for repair of the water system in the amount of $19,890 from Cates Welding for repair of the 30,000-gallon ground storage tank with the stipulation that the bid expected next week is not lower. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) informed the city of the violation during a routine inspection and are allowing the city time to make the repair before charging for the violation. The council did not want to wait another month to take action since at this point, they were not being charged a penalty for non-compliance. The bid was the lower of two they had received.
In other business, council members:
• approved hiring Amberlea Commino as a part-time park attendant
• adopted the investment policy for small cities as their official investment policy. City Secretary Belynda Figueriedo informed the council that by state law, they must have an investment policy in place even if they don’t have money to invest.
• renewed the church lease for the current rate of $400 per month at a one-year term.

Jul

20

Posted by : admin | On : July 20, 2017

By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
MALAKOFF—During the superintendent’s report portion of the Board of Trustees meeting, Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry voiced his disagreement with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s recent position on school funding.
According to an article in the Texas Tribune, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick laid out a proposal to give teachers bonuses and increase their retirement benefits, with plans to pay for both long-term using money from the Texas lottery.
Patrick’s plan, in part, would provide $600 to $1,000 bonuses to long-term and retired teachers, inject $200 million into the Teacher Retirement System, give $150 million to struggling small, rural districts, and provide $60 million for new facilities for fast-growth school districts and charter schools.
Currently, about $1.3 billion annually, or 27 percent of lottery funds, goes to public schools. Patrick is currently proposing taking the $700 million from that $1.3 billion to fund raises and bonuses, rather than reallocating additional lottery revenue.
The fact that no additional funds are being allocated by the state to provide increased salaries and bonuses for teachers is what Perry takes issue with. “It is disturbing to me that a politician will tell educators that they don’t have their priorities right. Our teachers and administrators have our children’s best interests at heart all the time.”
Patrick had called on school districts to reprioritize 5 percent of their funds over the next four years to increase teacher salaries. Districts, he said, “have to be better about how they spend the money. They have to put more focus on teachers.”
Perry said, addressing the board, “Patrick is telling you that you’re not doing a very good job supporting our teachers.”
Perry also told the board he met with Senator Robert Nichols and discussed with him the dire nature of insurance costs for teacher and retirees and that for many teachers, coverage is simply unaffordable.
In other business, board members:
• heard that Ideal Impact had high praise for the district’s efforts in saving energy and savings realized for March and April were $5,000,
• an audit of the school lunch program is expected this year,
• approved expenditure in the amount of $4,233 to solve the ongoing issue at the Rock building,
• discussed installing an awning at the back of Malakoff Elementary and tabled the decision until the facility committee could investigate options and advise and
• heard the results of the School Safety and Security Audit which is much improved over previous years.

Jul

20

Posted by : admin | On : July 20, 2017

Trevor Morris Obitpilot

The News Staff Reports
BROWNSBORO–Residents in the City of Brownsboro have been gathering around elementary music teacher Diana Morris and her husband, Calvin, over the sudden death of their son, Trevor Morris.
Union Hill Baptist Pastor Trevor Morris, also a Burton Oil Services Operations executive died in a plane crash July 13. He was 39 years old. He leaves a wife, Nafisa and their five children.
The Piper Cheyenne PA-31T went down at Pounds Field in Tyler soon after takeoff at 8 a.m. Morris was the vice president of Burton Oil Service Operations and traveled to Midland frequently for his job. It was where he was headed when the plane went down, said Aaron Greenwood, worship pastor for the church.
The pilot was also killed when the plane crashed in a pasture near Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. He was 62-year-old William Walls III of Huntsville and was a retired pilot from Southwest Airlines.
The wreckage was located one mile south of Pleasant Retreat Road by officers searching the area after reports of it going down.
According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board the plane went down at 8:10 a.m. “The on-site examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane impacted an open field surrounded by trees,” the preliminary report reads. “The wreckage was located on the edge of a small pond about one-half mile from the end of runway 17. There was not a post-crash fire; however, fuel was found at the site.”
The report indicates the airplane was removed from the site and taken to a secure location for further examination.
Morris was lead pastor at Union Hill Baptist Church and worked for the oil services company owned by his best friend Preston Burton. Besides business, the two friends taught the men’s Sunday school class at Union Hill and reared their families together.
“Trevor was a man with great passion to love and serve the Lord first and foremost. If there was one message he wanted to get out, it was that this life was about God and not us,” Burton told the Tyler Telegraph. “His passion was to get the message to men, to disciple their families, to teach them so that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be shared for generations to come.”
His mother posted on Facebook that Trevor loved missions and in lieu of flowers, requests donations be made to the Baptist Missionary Association’s Missions Department, PO. Box 878 Conway AR 72033 or at BMAmissions.org. Trevor served as a missionary to Ecuador where he started a church before he was elected twice as pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church.
A memorial service was held July 18 under the direction of Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home in Athens. A prayer vigil set for July 14 drew 300 participants, including pastors from churches in Chandler and Brownsboro taking turns praying during the event.

Jul

13

Posted by : admin | On : July 13, 2017

The News Photo/Pearl Cantrell Mayor Warren Claxton (right) presents a plaque of appreciation to Duane Smith, for his service on the city council.

The News Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Mayor Warren Claxton (right) presents a plaque of appreciation to Duane Smith, for his service on the city council.


By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
STAR HARBOR—Star Harbor Mayor Warren Claxton told a full room of his fellow residents that the city’s filings before the Public Utility Commission had been dismissed. “A technicality in the form of the application caused the dismissal,” Claxton explained. Star Harbor has a different law firm handling its legal work now, he indicated after public comments. “Whoever was responsible for the application ought to have his feet held to the fire,” Rick Koziol said in closing public comments.
The city is in contention with the City of Malakoff over a sharp rise in the cost of wastewater treatment. Star Harbor produces its own drinking water and is moving forward on building its own wastewater treatment plant.
Former councilman O.R. Perdue presented the quarterly and semiannual report on water and wastewater expenditures. Since January, the city has paid its customary $3,400.41 monthly billing to the City of Malakoff and a much larger amount into an escrow account. The payments total $20,402.46 for wastewater treatment and $98,076.18 toward escrow, totaling $118,478.64 or a monthly payment of $19,746.44 for the community’s 420 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census.
At the end of 2016, the City of Malakoff presented a new service contract to Star Harbor, representing a 600 percent-plus increase in service charges. The city has repeatedly asked for an explanation of the new charges, a meeting to discuss the new contract and has sent representatives to the City of Malakoff City Council meetings without gaining any response.
The City of Malakoff attorney Hank Skelton to date has not responded to The News queries on this matter, nor has any council member. Since January, Star Harbor has continued to pay the amount it was paying under the former service contract and deposited the balance in an escrow account. After listening to legal advice from a resident who has an active law practice, the council felt that paying according to the new contract would be tacit agreement with the new contract, so in lieu of that an escrow account was set up. It was hoped that the growing amount in escrow would induce the City of Malakoff to enter into a discussion with city officials.
In other business, the council:
• recognized the faithful service of Duane Smith, who most recently served as Mayor Pro-tem, filling in for Dr. Walter Bingham who had to step down due to health reasons. He has also served as a former mayor of the city and on the council for several terms. Smith was not returned to the council during the May 6 election. The council appointed Claxton mayor, since Bingham’s resignation came after the deadline for the May 6 ballot.
• amended Ordinance 165 to coincide with state law requiring slow-moving vehicles to exhibit a triangular caution placard on the rear. Golf carts being used primarily for transportation use will be required to carry the placard. Golf carts traveling strictly between home and the golf course for use on the course are exempt, along with carts kept strictly for use on the greens. Police Chief Todd Tanner explained the need for the amendment.
• discussed amending Ordinance 162 dealing with new construction in five areas, including landscaping, dumpster permit fee, signage, minimum square feet and short-term rentals. The council took a vote on each area separately after discussion and hearing extensive public comment and Building and Zoning Committee recommendations at the beginning of the meeting.
• tabled making changes to landscaping requirements, took no action to implement a dumpster permit, change the minimum building footage requirement of 1500 sq. ft. or change in signage rules, which now reads that only city signs may be posted on city property at the entrance of Star Harbor and other signs must be removed from private property within three days of the event and can’t go up more than three days before the event.
• on a 4-1 vote, approved short-term rental use of properties with the intent to set a workshop to regulate such use.
• heard four building permits were issued since the last meeting.
• recognized the work of resident Gay Morris in preparing the community newsletter which keeps residents apprised of local news and events.

Jul

13

Posted by : admin | On : July 13, 2017

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–A toddler walked into traffic on U.S. 175 just a quarter mile west of Athens Sunday night. Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Randy Daniel pronounced the death.
According to Department of Public Safety information officer Jean Dark, the 22-month-old is Santiago Sanchez of Athens.
North-19 Fire Rescue Chief Bob Morris, who responded to the call, said he learned from family members that the child followed his father out of the house as he left for the store around 9 p.m. without the father’s knowledge. The father and the mother were both at the residence, located on the south side of U.S. 175.
“It happened really quickly,” Morris said.
A 2000 Honda Civic, driven by Vu Pham, 30 of Garland, was traveling east in the outside lane when the vehicle struck the child. “The driver was unable to avoid the child and struck the child with the front of the vehicle,” Dark said.
The body was transported to Hannigan-Smith Funeral Home.
Athens police and sheriff’s deputies assisted by redirecting traffic, as the roadway was closed while first responders worked the scene.

Jul

06

Posted by : admin | On : July 6, 2017

Sentator Nichols with Superintendents
Special to The News
AUSTIN–Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) met with school superintendents from around Senate District 3, June 28 to discuss items which will be addressed during the Special Legislative Session, beginning on July 18, 2017. In addition, they also discussed what occurred during the 85th Regular Legislative Session.
“As we head into the upcoming special session, many of the items which will be addressed are education related. I wanted to make sure I took the opportunity to discuss these important issues with the Superintendents from our local school districts,” said Senator Nichols.
Some of the items discussed included administrative flexibility, teacher pay increases, property tax reform, school vouchers and school finance reform.
“I do not believe the Legislature can successfully make good decisions, unless we are listening closely to those we represent,” said Nichols. “Education is and always will be one of the most important issues we face as a state.”
Senate District 3 represents 101 school districts throughout 19 counties including Henderson County.

Jul

06

Posted by : admin | On : July 6, 2017

murder CMYK

The News Staff Reports
EAST TEXAS–A Henderson County man who was serving time for the fatal shooting of a Trinidad resident in 2009, was killed in a prison unit in Bowie County last week.
According to news reports, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is investigating the death of 29-year-old Pete Armando Ayala, of Trinidad, who was serving a 40-year sentence for murder with a deadly weapon for the death of 21-year-old Johnny Lee Brown, also of Trinidad.
TDCJ Public Information Officer Robert Hurst said in a statement to the Bowie County Citizens Tribune, prison officials discovered Ayala unresponsive in his cell on Sunday. They restrained Ayala’s cellmate, Justin Williams, 22, and removed him from the cell. Ayala was transported to a Texarkana hospital, where he was pronounced dead on Wednesday.
The TDCJ is investigating the case as a homicide.
Ayala had been in the Telford Unit since December of 2009, and was not eligible for parole until 2029. His sentence was to run until 2049.
Henderson County Sheriff’s Department reports said dispatch received a 9-1-1 call on Feb. 18, 2009, telling of a gunshot victim at a residence on Leagueline Road. HCSO investigators responded to the scene to assist the Trinidad Police Department with the case. Brown’s body was found in the master bedroom of the residence.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department obtained an arrest warrant in connection with the fatal shooting. Ayala was arrested in Garland after he was seen at a McDonald’s restaurant.
Williams joined the unit in November, 2016 to serve a 50-year sentence for murder with a deadly weapon.

Jul

06

Posted by : admin | On : July 6, 2017

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Many people take advantage of nice weather by exercising in the great outdoors. Some might skip the treadmill at the gym in favor of running at the park, while others join recreational sports leagues for some exercise and fun in the sun.
But exercising outdoors carries its share of risk. Unlike gyms where machinery clearly advises members about proper form and warns against lifting excessive weight, Mother Nature comes with no such warning labels. As a result, it’s up to men and women to make injury prevention a priority when taking their exercise routine outside. The following are a handful of preventative measures that can help exercise enthusiasts avoid injury as they attempt to get or stay fit in the great outdoors.
Study the terrain. Part of the danger of exercising outdoors is that, unlike a gym fitted with machines designed for the sole purpose of exercise, nature’s terrain is unpredictable. Safety features you take for granted at the gym, such as padded floors, are nonexistent outdoors. In addition, certain areas in nature might not be suitable to all athletes. For example, mountain biking is a popular sport, but not all mountain biking trails are the same. Some trails are ideal for beginners, while others are best ridden by more seasoned riders. When your outdoor exercise regimen will be taking you off the beaten path, be sure you know the terrain before you start your workout. Speak with fellow outdoor enthusiasts about which trails or courses are best for someone of your skill level and adhere to their recommendations. When exercising on a trail for the first time, bring a friend along so someone can go get help should an accident happen.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration is another cause of injury when athletes exercise in the great outdoors. Gyms have water fountains that allow members to take a drink of water when they’re thirsty. That water can help prevent dehydration, which can be painful and greatly increase your risk of injury. When exercising outdoors, be sure to bring along enough water so you can stay hydrated regardless of how far away from civilization you may find yourself.
Honestly assess your abilities. When exercising outdoors, it’s easy to overdo it. Warm air and sunshine have a way of encouraging athletes to prolong their workout routines or push themselves a little harder. But pushing yourself past your limits can considerably increase your risk of injury. While it’s easy to stay within your limits when exercising indoors, where the environment may encourage you to cut a workout short rather than extend it, it’s easy to overextend yourself outdoors when the weather is nice. So, it’s important for men and women to make an honest assessment of their abilities before beginning an outdoor exercise regimen. Once you know what your body can and can’t handle, you can tailor your outdoor workout to one that makes the most of nice weather without putting your health at risk.
Don’t challenge Mother Nature. One of the biggest risks about exercising outdoors is the tendency some athletes have to ignore the elements. Avoid working out in especially cold or hot weather, as such conditions are not conducive to exercise. Extreme weather also reduces the number of people outside, which means there won’t be as many people around to help you if you suffer an injury, lose your way or need help with your gear. Exercising outdoors is a great way to enjoy nice weather, but limit such workouts to those times of year when temperatures are most conducive to outdoor activity.

Jun

22

Posted by : admin | On : June 22, 2017

Andrew Page

Special to The News
ATHENS–A 36-year-old suspected drug dealer riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the road was arrested this weekend in a subdivision just south of Chandler.
Andrew Allen Page was stopped by Deputy Jacob Sumrall Saturday for traveling southbound on Sunrise Dive in the Sunrise Shores subdivision. He was found to be in possession of a substantial amount of suspected methamphetamine and several clear plastic bags commonly used is the distribution of the illegal drug.
“Our deputies are constantly on the look out for anything out of the ordinary,” Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. “This suspect was going the wrong way, acting nervous and had trouble communicating with the deputy.”
Page was carrying more than 5 grams of the contraband.
“This is part of our concerted campaign against drugs in Henderson County,” Hillhouse said. “Hopefully, this arrest takes us to an even bigger supplier in the criminal drug chain that we are systematically breaking here.”
Page was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He is currently being held on a $30,000 bail.