Posted by : admin | On : January 17, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office will soon have quick access to its own armored vehicle.
Tuesday, County Commissioners approved the purchase of a BearCat, the same kind of vehicle borrowed from the Tyler Police Department in 2010.

The BearCat served Athens well when it was used to confront survivalist Howard Todd Granger in a four-hour police standoff, in October, 2010.

Granger fired about 100 rounds from an AK-47 at the armored vehicle before getting taken down by a well-aimed sniper round. Not a single round fired at the SWAT team penetrated the vehicle, including the windows.

Sheriff Ray Nutt argued that in an emergency situation, the three hours or more it takes to do the paperwork and get the vehicle from Tyler could cost an officer’s life.

“We have a great working relationship with Tyler,” Nutt said, “but if there is an injured officer we need the vehicle quickly to extract him before its too late.”

Nutt added that BearCats are even protected underneath from grenade explosions. The BearCat will cost $132,000.

The 2010 incident was not without financial consequence to the county. Henderson County paid a hefty bill to repair damage the vehicle.

Nutt told Commissioners the County could have its own BearCat by July, if approved now.

BearCat is an acronym, standing for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin was vocal in his agreement.

“I think it’s a wise decision to invest in one of them,” he said.



Posted by : admin | On : October 25, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan, The News Staff

ATHENS — A decision has been made.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders told the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on Wednesday that its request to place a banner on the Courthouse Square has been denied.

The decision came as The News was going to press, so details were limited.

“Henderson County’s decision to deny our permit is appalling,” FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told The News Wednesday. “County officials have continually given FFRF the run-around in an attempt to stonewall our application which they had no intention of approving. Using government power to promote religion and hinder criticism of religion is tyrannical, and is precisely what our secular Constitution prohibits.”

The FFRF is the Wisconsin-based organization that demanded the county remove a nativity scene from the Christmas decorations on the courthouse lawn last December. Later, the foundation shifted its focus from removing the nativity to allowing one of its banners.




Posted by : admin | On : October 12, 2012

Family Peace Project Executive Director Marlena Taylor stands by the Clothesline Project just before the start of the Domestic Abuse Awareness Month proclamation signing Tuesday, Oct. 9. The Clothesline Project is a collection of T-shirts designed and created by victims of violence and the loved ones of victims. The shirts help give a voice to those affected most by abuse and assault.

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – Donna Johnson started out the 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness proclamation signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon with a simple request: “I want everyone here, if they themselves or a family member have been affected by family violence, to please raise your hands and keep your hands raised.”

The East Texas Crisis Center Director of Outreach then asked for anyone who had a friend, or associate at work affected by domestic violence to do the same thing. Then she asked for anyone who knew someone who had been affected by domestic violence to do the same thing.

By that time, it looked like every one of the nearly 100 gathered on the courthouse lawn had a hand raised.

“Domestic violence in Henderson County is so prevalent,” she said.

October is about becoming aware of the dangers of domestic violence and the resources available in the community for victims.




Posted by : admin | On : July 20, 2012

UPDATE (10 a.m. Friday, July 20) ON MURDER-KIDNAPPING … from Sheriff’s Office press release:

Police received call about 10:30 Thursday night reporting gunshots heard on Brierwood Drive in Coffee City. Officers responded and found one dead, and investigation identified the suspect at Jackie Guthrie, 22.

Guthrie also allegedly took 19-year-old Tiffany Hurd hostage and fled the scene in a 2001 Ford Crown Vic, license plate CKP512. The car has aftermarket wheels and dark tinted windows.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Guthrie.

“If anyone comes in contact or victim please notify law enforcement immediately. This suspect is armed and dangerous and should not be confronted. Law enforcement is currently searching for this suspect and victim. Again, please notify law enforcement if you come into contact with this suspect or victim,” said Sheriff Ray Nutt.

Call 903-677-6310.

ATTENTION: Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a murder-kidnapping in Coffee City late last night/early this morning … Police are looking for a 2003 Silver Crown Victoria with the license plate CKP 513 in connection with the crime …. anyone with any information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 903-677-6310.

I don’t have details of the crime at this time … I verified the information above with the Sheriff this morning and wanted to get that out as soon as possible.



Posted by : admin | On : April 28, 2012


By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS — When the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed paperwork with the county last week to display an atheist banner on the Courthouse lawn in December, one of the questions percolating behind the scenes was: “Does it have to be this banner?”

The question wasn’t officially asked out loud; it wasn’t broached during the commissioners’ meeting, at least not yet. But the whispers were there.

The proposed banner reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds.”

The FFRF has many different banners, however, including one that simply reads: “Reasons Greetings.”

FFRF attorney Charles Caperton admitted after last week’s meeting to at least hearing the question, but said

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Posted by : admin | On : March 30, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS — It took a couple of weeks longer then expected, but Henderson County commissioners approved a premises use policy this week to “clarify and memorialize” the way county property is used.

The policy covers rules for using county property for rallies or demonstrations, including when to apply for a permit and the need for insurance, and for establishing public displays, decorations or monuments.

The approval came without much discussion on Tuesday, but when the policy was

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Posted by : Press release | On : March 5, 2012


February 28, 2012

R. Scott McKee, District Attorney, reports the January Term, 2012, Grand Jury met on
February 23, 2012 and February 24, 2012 and returned _ 109 _ True Bills, including the following:

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Posted by : admin | On : March 1, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

In what could be his final action in the Henderson County nativity scene controversy, San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene filed a complaint this week to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against County Judge Richard Sanders.

Greene stepped into the county’s ongoing nativity scene debate in February when he wrote all members of Commissioners’ Court, threatening a lawsuit if the display is not moved to private property.

Greene, who has a long history of church-state lawsuits, told The Malakoff News he was becoming involved “to show that Christianity does not rule my state of Texas, the Constitution does. Christianity is only one of the many faiths represented in this state.”

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Posted by : admin | On : March 1, 2012

(UPDATE: Please see update at end of story.)

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

It appears that San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene may be leaving the Henderson County nativity scene controversy as quickly as he entered.

Greene revealed this weekend that he believes he has a detached retina, which he expects will leave him blind in the very near future.
In early February, Greene emailed several county officials promising to sue Henderson County if the traditional nativity scene is displayed on the courthouse lawn this Christmas. But because of his health, he has decided to back away from his threat to sue.

“There is no way for me to go up there if I’m blind,” he said.

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Posted by : admin | On : February 24, 2012

It might be time to pen all those hogs, sheep and goats in Henderson County.

Tuesday, Commissioners’ Court committed to an election to prohibit the free range of the animals in the county.

Currently, the county is an open range for those animals, which means if your neighbor’s goats come over and eat your garden, it’s your fault for not fencing them out.

Officials say the county closed the range — required livestock owners to keep their animals in rather than require property owners to keep them out — to cattle, horses and other animals in the mid 20th century, but did not include hogs, sheep and goats.

“Probably because there weren’t many of those animals in the county back then,” County Attorney Clint Davis told commissioners.

The election will only be open to county freeholders: residents who are registered voters and own real property.

A date for the election will be set at an upcoming Commissioners’ Court meeting.