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.

Jun

01

Posted by : admin | On : June 1, 2017

EthanSnowPitchingCMYK

The News Staff Reports
MALAKOFF–Ethan Snow led a group of five Tiger baseball players who earned a spot on the District 18-3A All-District Baseball team in a vote of district coaches at their end of the season meeting. Coaches from the district nominate players and the coaches vote on each player nominated.
Snow was named the Tri-Utility Player of the Year along with Palestine Westwood senior Kolton Bentley and Teague senior Brad Smith.
Being selected for first-team honors were senior Tyler Russell and Tyler Crawford. Garnering second-team honors were sophomore Cully McCoy and junior Jake Lee.
Most Valuable Player of the district went to Teague’s Jaylon Davis, Defensive Player of the Year was Cooper Jones of Teague and Offensive Player of the Year went to Rhett Read of Leon.
Pitcher of the Year was Franklin’s T.J. Brumley, Newcomer of the Year was Jarrett Fishbeck of Buffalo with Coach of the Year going to Teague’s Jeff Callahan.
The Tigers went 9-10 overall on the sason and 5-7 in District 18-3A play this season and missed the playoffs.

Jun

01

Posted by : admin | On : June 1, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–Just about 30 days after a tornado turned Teresa Melton’s world upside down, what she was able to salvage of her property was burglarized this past Memorial Day weekend – not once, but twice.
She first received news of the break-in while attending her son’s high school graduation. A friend, who has been helping her clear the property of debris sent her a text that the storage building and 40-foot container had been broken into. Sometime on Sunday, her property was hit again.
Melton told The News that she goes to the property on Farm-to-Market 2709, one of the hardest hit by the storms, every day to sort, clean and prep for rebuilding. She had been at the property until 11 a.m. on Friday, but hadn’t returned on Saturday before she got the text message. She and her son, Matthew, a member of the Eustace Boys Cross Country team had spent the morning preparing for his graduation set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the E.L Kirk Gymnasium on the Eustace High School campus.
Matthew’s cap and gown was one of the items that was retrieved unhurt following the April 29 tornado. “We had counted that as a good sign,” Melton said.
She reports a list of items taken, including two zero turn Cub Cadet mowers from Tractor Supply, two chainsaws, two saddles and assorted tack equipment, a 14-foot utility trailer made by FFA students from Montgomery ISD, where her newlywed husband was finishing out the year as the Ag teacher.
Also missing is a quantity of large cooking equipment, two four-wheelers – a Suzuki Quad 750 and a Honda 500, a front loading washer and dryer, unique artwork, including a photograph of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco, and a Canon printer. The computer was destroyed in the tornado.
These items and many others stolen were kept in a 40-foot trucking container, a storage shed and a box trailer all of which were locked.
She and her son have been living in a hotel in Mabank, as the property is uninhabitable, without water hookups and a residential shelter.
When she learned of the burglary, she said “her heart sank.”
“My heart was full of happiness for Matthew’s graduation and then it just went empty. How can people be so cruel as to kick you when you’re down,” she asks.
She did her best to keep her son from finding out on his graduation day, but when he did, he could hardly believe it. “He was more upset than angry,” his mother said. “It felt like another piece of his dad had been taken from him.”
Matthew lost his dad to cancer February 2016. His mother only recently was married again. In fact, on Tuesday, she and Matthew had traveled to the Houston area for her husband’s retirement celebration from Montgomery ISD. “We were planning to do the name changing after his retirement,” she said. Matthew is one of four Eustace graduating seniors who have signed up to serve in the U.S. Air Force.
Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said several investigators are working the case. If anyone has any knowledge of the break-ins or has seen some of the suspect items, they should call the sheriff at (903) 675-5128.

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

25

Posted by : admin | On : May 25, 2017

Raygan YoungCMYK

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Athens High School senior defender Raygan Young will continue her soccer career in college after signing on Wednesday, May 17 to play for Navarro College. Raygan was a team captain as a senior, an All-District Utility Player of the Year, All-State Player, and played varsity throughout high school, the last three as a starter.
“Raygan has done a magnificent job leading this team,” Athens High School Girls Soccer Coach Mark Hall said. “She’s not only a great player, she’s also a scholar.”
Young helped lead the Lady Hornets soccer team to the UIL State Semifinals before being ousted by eventual state champion Stephenville. The Navarro Bulldogs soccer program has won eight Region XIV championships and seven district championships.

May

18

Posted by : admin | On : May 18, 2017

worked up mugshots Christina Julian

worked up
mugshots
Christina Julian

worked up  mugshots Rebecca Brannon

worked up
mugshots
Rebecca Brannon

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Sheriff Botie Hillhouse reports a major drug arrest Tuesday.
During a routine traffic stop on Lake Arrowhead Drive near Payne Springs, sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Matthew Jistel discovered a stash underneath the passenger seat containing approximately 53 grams of suspect crystal meth.
Rebecca Brannon, 25 is charged with first-degree felony drug charge. Her backseat passenger, Christina Julian, 52, was also found to be in possession of suspected meth. She exited the car and appeared unstable according to a press release. Both women were taken to jail soon after the 2:45 a.m. traffic stop. Brannon is held on a $15,000 bond and Julian’s bond totals $8,500.
“These dealers can’t sneak around in the dark of night hoping to spread their poison,” Hillhouse stated. “Our deputies have been instructed to keep a keen eye out for anyone suspected of wrongdoing, no matter what time of day or night.”
The National Drug Intelligence Center states methamphetamine is a significant drug threat to Texas. High purity, low-cost methamphetamine is readily available, and the drug is widely abused, particularly in rural areas. Methamphetamine produced in Mexico is the predominant type available.
According to one online source, the price of meth in Texas is around $80 per gram, though smaller increments may cost more. At $80 to $100 per gram, the estimated value is between $4,240 and $5,300. The confiscated 53 grams equals a little less than two ounces, a sizeable amount in crystal meth.

May

11

Posted by : admin | On : May 11, 2017

The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–A night of swimming in Coleman Park in Athens went tragic May 4 when a 19-year old drowned while swimming to an island in the pond.
A water rescue team from the Longview fire department retrieved the dead body of James Riley Wallace, of Athens, from the water. His mother and family was brought to the scene a short time later to grieve the loss of their loved one.
According to Athens police chief Buddy Hill, the group of teens, two male and two female, were fishing at the pond in Coleman Park on the north west side when Wallace decided to swim to the large island in the lake. Wallace only made it about halfway before the cold water made the swim difficult and he went under.
According to reports the other male attempted to swim out to Wallace but quickly experienced exhaustion and had to return to shore.
The Athens Fire Department and Athens Police Department immediately responded to the 9-1-1 call at about 8 p.m. and begun searching for the teen while swimming and manning the AFD rescue boat until the water rescue team arrived from Longview at 11:20, and located Wallace’s body 12:53 a.m. Friday morning. Water temperature was measured at 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
A helicopter from East Texas Medical Center flew over the water to spot the teen as water rescue attempts were made.
Foul play is not expected, but Justice of the Peace Milton Adams sent the body off for an autopsy to American Forensics in Mesquite.
The pond was created from an old clay pit and has long had a pier on the south side for fishing. The pier was recently damaged by a fire and closed off. Swimming is not permitted in the pond.

May

04

Posted by : admin | On : May 4, 2017

Athens-Eustace Tornado 4-29

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
CANTON–According to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth Tuesday, a total of seven tornadoes formed Saturday, April 29. Four of them were rated EF-0 (65-85 mph) appearing with brief tracks near Grand Saline at 4:15 p.m., near Canton at 5:10 p.m., near Cumby from 5:30-5:50 p.m. and southwest of Canton leaving a brief track around 7:13 p.m. The EF- 4 (166-200 mph) that left a long track from Eustace moving into Van Zandt County west of Canton left a mile-wide swath of damage between 5:29 and 6:09 p.m.
An EF-2 tornado tracked east of the EF-4 from Eustace into Van Zandt County west of Canton between 5:41 and 6:04 p.m.
However, an EF-3 (136-165 mph) tornado stayed on the ground for 51 miles tracking from Van Zandt County through Canton and into Rains County and lasted from 6:08 p.m. to 7:28 p.m., the result of which were four deaths including a welder from Corsicana Russell “Rusty Barlow, 51, who was crushed under a race car lift when the tornado hit. He was at his step-daughter’s wedding.The other victims were identified Monday as Kenneth Hughes, 57, of Van Zandt County who was at home with his wife on VZCR 2434 when the tornado hit, his wife was injured, Lucretia Sykes, 49, of Fort Worth and James Clayton Young, 39, of Alba who was traveling on State Highway 64 just outside of Canton when the tornado hit, dragging his car off 200 yards.
Three hospitals in Tyler, Athens and Cedar Creek Lake treated 56 people with six remaining hospitalized Tuesday and one in critical condition.
At least one of these tornadoes, probably the EF-3, caused a pile up of around 30 cars on the I-20 near Canton, perhaps the same one that left a mile-wide swath of destruction on Old Bethel Road, VZCR 230, north of Phalba. The historic Bethel Cemetery suffered its gate and fencing twisted, and it was reported a wedding was also being conducted at a residence in the path of the tornado.
Utility poles were struck as were transformers, turning the lights off in about 14,000 homes. Oncor contractors and other companies were seen throughout the weekend repairing downed power lines and poles. Linemen worked tirelessly and most of Canton had electricity by 8 a.m. May 1. However, homes in the Phalba area and on Old Bethel Road were still using portable generators to get power on Tuesday.
The intersection at State Highways 243 and 19 was deserted, an intersection that once saw thousands of motorists a day, especially during First Monday. Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett was televised Sunday asking visitors to refrain from coming to Trade Days, as the city fights to recover from the devastation.
On Monday and Tuesday, tree trimming crews were out in force and the buzz of chain saws could be heard throughout the affected areas.
On Monday, the Office of the Governor released a statement that Gov. Abbott had declared a State of Disaster in three Texas Counties: Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains. “The recent severe weather across our state has had a devastating impact on the people of East Texas,” Abbott said. “Texans by their very nature are resilient, and I am confident we will remain steadfast in our response to this disaster. I ask that everyone keep those impacted in your prayers as we come together to rebuild in the aftermath of these storms.
Unhappily the weather forecast for Wednesday was more severe weather.

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.”