Mar

31

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 31, 2014

By David Webb
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–Part of North Prairieville Street will be closed for four hours on May 17 for a 100-year anniversary celebration of the courthouse.

The Athens City Council approved the request by Henderson County during a meeting March 24. The street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the event.

County officials have not yet released details of the planned event.
City officials said they can close a street for up to four hours without requiring a permit from the Texas Department of Transportation.

The historic three-floor courthouse on the town square was built in 1913. It is constructed of red brick in Classic Revival style. The building, which includes a full basement, was designed by L. L. Thurman. It has angled wings and a cupola. It is Henderson County’s fourth courthouse, and the second one to be constructed in Athens.

Henderson County’s first courthouse was built in Buffalo in 1850, and the second one was built in Centerville in 1861, according to pictorial histories of Texas’ 254 counties depicting grand courthouses. Both cities are now considered ghost towns. The third courthouse was built in Athens in 1887.
The Texas Legislature established Henderson County on April 27, 1846, and named it in honor of James Pinckney Henderson, the first governor of Texas. In 1848 the legislature broke up Henderson County to form Van Zandt and Kaufman Counties. Athens was founded as the county seat and given its name with the hope that it would become a center of learning.

In other action, the council:
• rezoned a lot on Frizzell Street from single-family residential to two-family residential duplex.
• abandoned an unused alley in Bishop Heights Addition.
• authorized a contract with Henderson County Girls Softball Association for use of Cain Park.
• appointed an election judge and an alternate for the May 10 city election that will include a proposition to consider abolishing the Athens Municipal Water Authority, which the city is now engaged with in a lawsuit. The ballot will also include three contested council seat races.
• approved a replat of two lots into one in the South Platte Subdvision of the Lake Athens area.
• tabled appointing a new member to the Zoning Commission until more candidates come forward.

Dec

27

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 27, 2013

By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff
EUSTACE–This year was the biggest year yet in distributing toys for the Chapman House in the three years it has been doing it.
More than 400 children received gifts, sweets and treats at the men’s residential treatment center in Eustace Dec. 14 with the help of community volunteers and toy donations.
“This has been a good fit for the residents of the Chapman House because it gives the men a chance to give back to the community in a tangible way at a time of year when many of them are not able to be with their families,” founder Kevin Chapman told The News. “The activities bless the residents in very real, deep ways.”
The official local Toys For Tots organization was still filling requests for children’s Christmas wishes right up until Dec. 21.
Some female applicants (fearing reprisals) specifically asked that their mates not find out they were getting toys for free, house director Donna Bega said.
One 12-year-old girl said this was her first time ever meeting Santa, she added.
The U.S. Marines Toys for Tots, with the red train logo, has its East Texas headquarters in Tyler, and coordinator Larry Atkins was on hand to help with the distribution.
Tool Police Department Sergeant Steven Lampert also helped and as a result the department received a few comfort toys for officers to give away when dealing with families.

Jun

28

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 28, 2013

discover 2013

EAST TEXAS–The premier visitor and newcomer’s guide, Discover Cedar Creek Lake and Athens, is inside this week’s The News – Serving Athens and Malakoff issue, sold in stores and from the racks.

Discover the region’s stunning natural scenery and learn about the rich histories of the surrounding communities and cities.

Also discover great shopping, fine dining, fun entertainment and a variety of excellent services throughout the area.

Free copies of Discover Cedar Creek Lake and Athens are also available at the newspaper office, 1316 S. Third Street, Suite 108, Mabank, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Enjoy the 2013 publication and discover Cedar Creek Lake and Athens!

Jun

17

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 17, 2013

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

MALAKOFF–Risking his own life to save a fellow citizen, the commendation reads. But ask Officer Robert Siegmund of the Malakoff Police Department about the act, it was just another day on the job.

Siegmund was recognized by Police Chief Billy Mitchell and the Malakoff City Council during its regular meeting June 10 for pulling resident Robert Nokes to safety before fire engulfed Nokes’ vehicle and the Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church on April 25. Nokes, 38, experienced a medical episode while driving and accidentally crashed into the building.

“The chief was right there with me the whole time. It was a team effort,” said Siegmund, who has been with the department for nearly three years. The officer also noted the help of Father William Palmer of the church, who Siegmund said helped extract Nokes from the burning vehicle.

While Chief Mitchell battled flames with a fire extinguisher and with the front driver’s side door wedged shut, Siegmund entered the vehicle through the rear passenger door. At one point, Siegmund was overcome by smoke before the officer eventually tugged Nokes loose after the injured man’s seat belt was cut. Soon thereafter, “something blew up, maybe the engine or one of the tires,” according to the officer.

Nokes was present during the council meeting. He spent 22 days in a Tyler hospital, and is about to start physical therapy. Nokes uses a cane and has “a little nerve damage, but if that’s the worst that happens, I can live with that,” he said.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Nokes added. “Very few people get a second chance.”

The council also authorized the city to extend for two more years its participation in the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs HOME program, which provides grants to cities to build housing for senior and low-income citizens.

Four homes have been constructed so far, with one more expected to be completed in about two weeks, said City Administrator Ann Barker. Another two homes are early in the construction process, Barker added, and two more properties qualify for the program. The city hopes in the future to rehabilitate three or four more properties, Barker said. The council also awarded a bid to Angus Home Center of Corsicana to provide a manufactured home using grants from the program.

Also during the meeting, council members Jeanette King and Tim Trimble were sworn in along with Mayor Delois Pagitt following the trio’s re-election May 11. The council selected Trimble to continue as mayor pro tem.

May

23

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : May 23, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

ATHENS–The Athens Chamber of Commerce continued its tradition showcasing the big business of agriculture with the 50th annual Henderson County Farm and Ranch Tour May 21. The tour was capped by naming Jody Jackson Henderson County Agriculturist of the Year.
Big business it is. According to the US Census Bureau, 83 percent of Henderson County residents are involved in some form of agricultural-related commerce. The business generates $125 million in the county each year.

About 200 people joined for the tour, which began early Tuesday morning with donuts and coffee at the Henderson County Fairgrounds. After a time of visiting, the busses took off at 9 a.m. sharp.
The three stops on this year’s tour were the Milan Quarter Horse Ranch, the Dal Riata woods, wildlife and water property, and the J1 Ranch.

The first stop, at Milan, showed off a stunningly large and beautiful barn used to breed, raise and exhibit some of the finest Halter show horses in America, including the National Palomino Halter winner. Milan is owned by Kelly and Scott Trahan and managed by Tyler O’Neal.

After that, the tour headed to the lakefront property of Dal Riata, owned and operated by the Robertson family. The vision for Dal Riata is to focus on woods, wildlife and water to provide three generations of Robertsons an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The lake is fully stocked with primarily largemouth bass.

The J1 Ranch was the final stop of the Farm and Ranch tour. Agrilife Extension Agent Rich Hirsch said it was fitting to finish the tour at a cattle operation.

“As long as I have anything to do about it, the tour will always include a cattle ranch,” he said.

Chris Johnson, who runs the ranch with his mother, Patsy, said J1 is a “working ranch,” and not just for show.

The Johnsons are currently supporting 300 pair of cattle. Yearly they retain 50 head of heifers for replacements. Calves born in the spring and weaned in the fall. Calves are sold at 22 to 28 months of age, weighing about 1,100 pounds.

After the tour, the luncheon and awards ceremony began.

Hirsch, the Master of Ceremonies for the event, presented Jackson with the presages Agriculturist of the Year Award. Jackson was a Athens High School graduate and now resides in Murchison. His lifelong goal has been to farm, raise cattle and enjoy that way of life.
Jackson began with a few cattle a poultry operation, and now runs a commercial cow/calf operation raising quality Brangus replacement heifers for sale to other ranchers, a feed steer operation growing out approximately 150 steers a year, custom tractor work, baling hay and planting sprigs.

Jackson has also spent time as a trustee for the Murchison ISD, served on the ASCS county committee, was one of the first to serve on the Henderson County Beef Cattle Committee, served as a Grand Jury foreman for the Henderson County DA’s Office, was a former member of the FFA and an officer during high school, a member of Ash Baptist Church and a strong supporter of the Murchison Volunteer Fire Department.

Feb

14

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 14, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

3T apartments in Malakoff could be getting a make-over in the near future.

Property Developer James Fieser petitioned Malakoff City Council last Tuesday for a “commitment of funds” as a good faith gesture to begin an application process that could help Fieser acquire a grant to revitalize the property.

Fieser said that getting the grant is the best chance the apartment complex has to increase its property value—a win for both the owner and city.

Fieser said the “good faith” gesture from the city would only be a temporary loan and is needed to show that Malakoff is invested and behind the project. The $12,550 “good faith” money would be placed in escrow and Fieser would write a check back to the city for the same amount. According to Fieser, the grant T3 is competing for is extremely competitive and only applicants with a city’s backing has a realistic shot at winning.

The council discussed details with Fieser for more than twenty minutes before deciding to table committing funds until speaking with the city attorney. The council said they will call a special meeting to approve or deny the commitment of funds before the nearing deadline.

The discussed renovations that T3 would receive are mostly interior restoration like new carpeting, pluming, cabinets and painting.

In other news, the council announced:

•January 30 was the first day to file an application for a place on the May 11 general elcection. The last day to file an application on the ballot will be March 1 at 5 p.m.

•Mayor Delois Pagitt and Council members Jeanette King and Tim Trimble have filed applications for reelection.

Feb

14

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 14, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

The Henderson County Libertarian Party discussed their goals for the coming year and listened to activist Clint Stutts discuss how to get involved in politics on the local and state level Feb. 12.

In just the second meeting of the young party, County Chair Desarae Lindsey told the group that at least one member is planning to run for local office.

That member is James Robertson, 27, of Tool. He is making plans and preparing to run for a city council seat in 2014.

Robertson said that he wants to run to be a public servant to Tool residents. Robertson, a military veteran, said his foundational values are freedom and personal liberty. As a veteran, he is also an advocate for local programs assisting veterans.

Stutts said that the best way for Robertson to prepare for stepping into a city council seat is getting familiar with the city’s issues by becoming a regular attendee to city council meetings.

“Nearly nobody attends these meetings,” Stutts said.” The rooms are usually empty. Going to the city council meetings will be a big step in becoming involved and active in local government.”

Lindsey said that the party needs to raise funds for expenses such as literature, a booth at events to increase visibility, or even a billboard. Lindsey will need to get creative with the fundraising efforts as the party collects no dues from members.

After Lindsey finished announcements, Stutts told the group about his work pushing for nullification in Texas.
Nullification is the idea that States have the final authority to determine the limits of the power of the federal government. Nullification could, in effect, nullify federal laws (such as the Affordable Care Act), preventing them from become state law.

“We can tell our representatives that the 10th amendment means what it says and the Federal Government has stepped over the line,” Stutts said.

The Tenth Amendment states the Constitution’s principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people.

Stutts has made several trips to Austin and helped write a bill to nullify Obamacare last year.
Stutts was excited about the 15 person gathering of Libertarians.

“If you all do something and becoming activists, you can make a big difference in Henderson County.

Jan

31

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 31, 2013

By Pearl Cantrell and Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writers

KAUFMAN–A Kaufman County criminal prosecutor died of gunfire targeting him just before 9 a.m. Thursday morning, as he was arriving to work.

Mark Hasse, 57, an assistant district attorney under D.A. Mike McLelland, was gunned down by what police are reporting were two unknown assailants, dressed all in black, wearing masks and one seen wearing a tactical vest.

An all-points bulletin was issued for two males, dressed in black and believed to be driving a silver or brown-colored older-model Ford Taurus with no license plates.

Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said he confirmed that Hasse was shot outside his vehicle and the attack was totally unexpected. “We are piecing together stories from witnesses to form one accurate picture,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies centered their investigations in the parking lot behind the courthouse annex on North Washington Street across from the courthouse square.

In response to the shooting, area schools were put on lockdown, including campuses in Kaufman, Kemp, Scurry-Rosser and Forney.

Campuses in Mabank initiated a part of the district’s safety and security plan, superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall told Van Zandt News. By noon, most lockdowns and security measures had been lifted.

The Kaufman County Courthouse and Annex business offices were closed the rest of the day.

Hasse was transported to the Kaufman Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

During a 10 a.m. press conference Kaufman Sheriff David Byrnes said the victim was on his way to present misdemeanor cases in court that morning when he was assaulted and gunned down.

Investigators are combing through his case load (340-390 cases a year), looking for suspects.

McLelland said he is confident the criminals will be caught and brought to justice.

“When you deal with bad people on a regular basis, then they may do bad things to you. Mark knew the dangers of his job,” he said.

One news report said past investigations included the Aryan Brotherhood activities, two of whom pleaded guilty in federal court the same day Hasse was killed.

Lawyer James Lee Bright, who arrived at the courthouse just as law enforcement descended on the scene, is reported to have told the Dallas Morning News that the veteran prosecutor had worked on numerous cases over his career and that any one of those could be connected.

Hasse was hired with the Kaufman County D.A.’s Office as a chief prosecutor in July 2010. He also worked as a prosecutor in Dallas County from 1983 to 1990, according to another news report. He was unmarried.
County Judge Bruce Wood said he viewed the event as an attack on justice, itself.

Of Hasse he said, “He was a good man and a good prosecutor.

“When something like this happens – like the murder of the very people we trust to do justice – it’s a horrible crime,” Wood said.

A business owner on the courthouse square was shocked and disturbed at the shooting.

Maple’s Hall operator Bryant Martin told Van Zandt News, “We are a small community. It took us all by surprise. These things happen in other counties, not in ours. It’s very disturbing.”

Sheriff David Byrnes said in his 43 years in law enforcement he has never seen anything like this before. “By all appearances it was an assassination,” Byrnes said.

Kaufman County Crimestoppers has issued a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of individuals involved in the capital murder of a Kaufman County prosecutor Jan. 31. Tipsters remain anonymous by calling 877-TIPSKCC (847-7522) or text to 274637.

Additionally, a Kaufman company, ABOX is offering another $10,000 to informers in this case leading to an arrest and conviction.

Former County Judge Wayne Gent described courthouse security as always tight, but not in the parking lot. He categorized the shooting as an “ambush.”

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins sent out an email shortly after the shooting, with details unfolding in Kaufman County and warned staff to “be aware of your surroundings when leaving the building for your safety.”

Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Pat Laney said all area law enforcement are taking part in the investigation and searching for the suspects, including the Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety helicopters, Kaufman Police Department, the lead investigator, the Sheriff’s Office and the federal agency of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

No arrests had been made in the case by Thursday afternoon, though Dallas D.A. Watkins had erroneously reported an arrest in an earlier press conference Thursday.

He offered to prosecute the case on behalf of Kaufman County.

“We will provide whatever resources or help they need since Hasse was a former Dallas County prosecutor,” Watkins said.

Jan

17

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 17, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

SEAGOVILLE–A Malakoff High School student was killed Sunday in a wreck on U.S. Highway 175 just outside Seagoville.

Jamiya Givens Williams, 16, was a sophomore. Also perishing in the crash was Williams’ 11-month-old daughter.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the accident occurred when a Ford F-150 truck struck the Chevrolet Cavalier occupied by Williams and her daughter from behind.

Prior to the collision, the eastbound Cavalier, driven by Williams’ mother, Sheryk Givens, 40, blew out a tire and slowed to about 10-15 mph in preparation to exit. That’s when the F-150 struck the economy compact vehicle, last produced in 2005.

Givens’ 18-year-old son Jabari was also in the Cavalier, however no other injuries were reported.
Funeral services will be handled by the Tomlinson Funeral Home. The date of the services are still pending as of Jan. 15.

A fund has been set up to assist the family with funeral expenses for Jamiya Williams and her daughter, Alahna, through the First Baptist Church of Malakoff, P.O. Box 408, Malakoff, TX 75148,designate checks “Jamiya Williams.”

Dec

03

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 3, 2012

From Staff Reports

The annual Malakoff Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. This year’s theme is “A Winter Wonderland in Malakoff.”

The parade will line up on the First Baptist Church parking lot on Mitcham Street beginning at 9 a.m.

There is no cost to enter and participants are urged to throw candy and have fun.