Feb

17

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 17, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan

A San Antonio atheist recently became the newest participant in Henderson County’s apparently-not-confined-to-Christmas nativity scene controversy.

Patrick Greene this week emailed a letter to all members of Commissioners’ Court threatening a lawsuit if the nativity scene is not moved to private property. In an email interview with The Malakoff News, Greene said, “… If they do not respond to my email by … Monday, February 20, 2012, I will assume that they have no intention of responding at all. In which case I will begin filling out the necessary forms, and file the lawsuit on the day they put up the nativity display.”

When asked his reasons for becoming involved, Greene said “to show that Christianity does not rule

Continue Reading

Jan

16

Posted by : Press release | On : January 16, 2012

District Attorney Office Press Release

On Wednesday, January 11, a Henderson County jury sentenced Manuel Clerkley, 41, of Palestine, to Life in the penitentiary for a June 9th, 2009 early morning crash that left his 21 year-old niece and mother of two, Michelle Coaster, dead. The crash occurred shortly before 9 a.m., in the 600 block of South Palestine Street near the intersection of Ben Bent Drive. Athens Police Department reports stated Clerkley was northbound in a 1994 Plymouth Acclaim that went out of control and crossed the southbound lanes before leaving the roadway and colliding head-on with a tree.
A woman, who stopped at the traffic signal at Ben Belt and South Palestine, reportedly saw the accident and described it to police.

Coaster died at East Texas Medical Center, Athens a few hours after the wreck. Clerkley was taken

Continue Reading

Dec

19

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 19, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

The question of whether or not a Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) banner will be included in the annual Henderson County Christmas display may have been pushed back to next year, but that hasn’t stopped the rhetoric.

Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott weighed in on the issue, promising “my support if the FFRF follows through on its threat to pursue legal action against Henderson County.”

Abbott’s declaration came in a letter to Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

The FFRF answered back Monday in a letter to Abbott signed by foundation co-presidents and husband and wife, Dan Taylor and Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“The imprimatur of the county of Henderson, and now the imprimatur of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, are being used to endorse Christianity,” the letter reads.

By now, the story is well known and

Continue Reading

Dec

16

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 16, 2011

From Staff Reports

The school finance lawsuit Malakoff ISD is participating in was filed last Friday in state district court in Austin. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionally of the Texas school finance system, claiming that it fails to provide schools with sufficient funding to meet state educational standards and that the system has become a statewide property tax.

“The Texas Legislature in the last session failed to meet their constitutional obligation to adequately fund our public schools,” said MISD Superintendent Randy Perry. “Malakoff ISD will have funding cuts over

Continue Reading

Dec

16

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 16, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

There will be no banner from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn this year, a foundation attorney confirmed this morning.

But that does not mean the legal battle is over.

Attorney Stephanie Schmitt of the FFRF told The Malakoff News that Henderson County has outlined a procedure for requesting a display, and the procedure includes asking Commissioners’ Court. Because commissioners

Continue Reading

Dec

12

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 12, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

Like shadow footprints laid out on a floor, the next steps in the legal dance between the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Henderson County government seem to be in place, and they lead directly to Commissioners’ Court.

The FFRF is the Wisconsin-based organization that demanded the county remove a nativity scene

Continue Reading

Dec

09

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 9, 2011

Rep. Jim Pitts

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

District 10 State Rep. Jim Pitts today called the nativity scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn a “community tradition.”

“I’m disturbed that an out of state group has tried to interject itself into what has been an annual tradition at the Henderson County Courthouse for many years,” Pitts said. “That nativity scene is a holiday tradition for the entire community, and shouldn’t be used as a tool for some group to pursue an extreme agenda.”

Monday, Henderson County officials

Continue Reading

Dec

08

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 8, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – The media and community response was swift after news broke that a group was trying to force Henderson County to remove its nativity scene.

So was the county’s answer.

Less than two days after receiving a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which claims the nativity scene located on the courthouse lawn is illegal, County Attorney Clint Davis answered by writing, “Henderson County believes that it is in complete compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and acting very much in accord with prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings.”

The letter from Davis is dated Dec. 7 and is addressed to the FFRF attorney Stephanie A. Schmitt.

Wednesday night, Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders explained the county’s position, saying, “Because we have other decorations on the square other than the nativity, we feel we are in compliance with federal law.”

Continue Reading

Dec

07

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 7, 2011

Dec

06

Posted by : Press release | On : December 6, 2011

Special to The News

Dallas Andrew Fidler, 27, formerly of Seven Points, was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison by 173rd District Court Judge Dan Moore in connection with the aggravated sexual assault of two children. Fidler elected to have the judge assess his sentence rather than a jury.

Fidler’s jury trial came to an abrupt end in October, when after four days of a jury trial he decided to change his plea from “not-guilty” to “guilty,” rather than have the jury assess his guilt. Fidler was on trial for two

Continue Reading