Posted by : admin | On : September 30, 2015

Blue Ribbon seal
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF–It’s official: Malakoff Elementary School was named a National Blue Ribbon School on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The announcement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was played over the Malakoff Elementary School intercom, said MES principal Ronny Snow. Snow credited the staff at MES for achieving the status, as well as its students. “This staff has pushed for excellence and students have responded,” Snow said.
In late January, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) nominated 25 Texas public schools for national 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition. Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels.
In its 33-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 8,000 of America’s schools. All schools were selected as exemplary high performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 25 percent or greater.
“We have been asked by many other school districts that come spend time with us about what it is that we are doing,” Snow said. “I’ll tell them staff continuity and all recognizing the task at hand and every grade level being on the same page. Probably the two best specific things that we do for achievement are, number one, our afterschool tutorial program. It lets us work in small groups and has been very beneficial to our students. The second thing would be the use of mentoring minds as a supplemental instruction piece. It is very rigorous and if students are able to do it then any state testing is no issue for them.”
Nationally, only 332 campuses in 44 states were selected for this honor, said Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry. “Malakoff ISD wants to congratulate the teachers and staff at Malakoff Elementary along with their principal, Mr. Ronny Snow, for this distinction,” Perry said.
Snow, along with three teachers, will be attending the National Blue Ribbon Conference in Washington, D.C., on November 9 and 10 to accept the award. Those teachers are Christy Jackson, Kasey Holt and Shay Masterson.
“They represent third and fifth grades, which are the tested grades,” Snow said. “All are longtime Malakoff Elementary School employees and between them they have 50 years of experience, all at Malakoff Elementary School.”



Posted by : admin | On : July 14, 2015

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

ATHENS–County Commissioners called an election Nov. 3 to create Emergency Services District No. 10 in the Eustace area. Seven ESDs currently serve Henderson County. Emergency Service District spots eight and nine are not available because they are designated to Murchison and Baxter after unsuccessful propositions.
Commissioners also accepted a payment from Oncor Electric Delivery for damage done during power line construction in Precinct 4.

The payment of $35,634.40 was issued after heavy equipment operated by Oncor destroyed portions of the roadway on County Road 4910. In April and May. Precinct. 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said he applied for the funds and county negotiated with Oncor for the settlement.

“We had several discussions with Oncor because of heavy equipment on all of the roads, ” Geeslin said. “That portion was destroyed, as well as three culverts being crushed.”

The $35,634.40 will cover the cost of material and asphalt to resurface the road. The precinct will do patch work and culvert repair until the fall, when Oncor has completed its construction activities.
Commissioners Court also voted on Tuesday to pay bills in the amount of $168,185.90.



Posted by : admin | On : July 14, 2015

Mal Rotary

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF – Prison ministry is now the name of the game for Bill Glass, a former Baylor football player who was inspired by Billy Graham to preach to the imprisoned.
Those facts and others were shared by A.J. Tusberg, who told Malakoff Rotarians Tuesday, July 7 about Behind the Walls, the prison ministry Glass started in 1972. “We show that there’s hope out there on the outside, and that they can make it,” Tusberg said. “We look at a person and think, ‘What would Jesus do?’”
The nationwide ministry has local outreach, including events at the Texas Department of Corrections complex in Anderson County as well as at the Henderson County Jail in Athens. The incarcerated reached by Behind the Walls can range from those biding their time on death row, or youthful offenders in correctional facilities. Last year, the ministry reached 45,000 people, and has served more than a million since its start.
Rotarian Jeanie Seely, a Malakoff insurance agent, also takes part in Behind the Walls’ ministry efforts. It’s an interdenominational outreach which “pulls all of us together,” Seely said. “Every time I go I enjoy it more and more,” she added.
Tusberg said that the prison events are very safe for the general public. “These are people who want to see and hear God,” he said. “We visit people who haven’t had visitors in years. We’re helping them understand there is hope and that life can change, even behind bars.”
Ninety-eight cents of every dollar donated goes to the nonprofit organization’s mission, Tusberg pointed out. Each event can cost between $6,000 and $8,000, he added.
For more information about joining the prison ministry, go online to or call 972- 298-1101.



Posted by : admin | On : July 14, 2015

Trinidad police chief

By Russell Slaton
The News
TRINIDAD – The City of Trinidad has a new police chief. That town’s city council hired Chris Simmons to take over its police department during a special meeting, held Monday, June 22.
Simmons started his service as chief on Wednesday, June 24, said Trinidad City Administrator Terri Newhouse. The new chief is in the process of interviewing applicants for a patrol officer position, the city administrator added.
Simmons, who has deep family ties to western Henderson County, previously was a Trinidad police officer for five years, until 2006. Later, from 2011-12, Simmons served a stint as a Trinidad reserve police officer. In addition to Trinidad, Chief Simmons has been a member of the Tool and Caney City police departments, and also was a police officer for three years in Midlothian, which is located in Ellis County, just south of the DFW metroplex.
“My goal is to get the department back to a fair and respected department that gets the city cleaned up and safe and secure for all our residents,” said Simmons.



Posted by : admin | On : June 5, 2015

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners saw to two main orders of business June 2: extending the county’s local disaster declaration and giving the Halyard Energy tax abatement final approval.

The County extended its local disaster declaration to match Gov. Greg Abbott’s May 4 date for the State of Texas, opening the county and its residents up to flood relief benefits from the state and federal governments. The funds are needed to recover from the storms and flood damages that drenched much of Texas throughout May.
County Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough reported to Commissioners that the rains caused $4.5 million dollars worth of county and private infrastructure damage. She reported that $345,000 of it was purely damage to the county. The county easily qualifies for federal assistance, as $275,000 for damages are needed.
“The fact that the disaster has gone on so long and is not over yet have caused serious damage to the county and its residents,” Kimbrough said.

Precinct 4 was hit particularly hard in May, Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said. Henderson County Road and Bridge EMployees have been working night and day since storms swept through May 10 and dropped 10 inches of rain on Henderson County.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said the storms have placed his crew two months behind on other projects.
The tax abatement approval came after two workshops and months of discussion. The approval leaves the ball in Halyard Energy’s court to move forward with building a $120 million, natural-gas-fired peaking power plant on County Road 4402 at the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 2588 in Larue.

If Halyard agrees to move forward, the plant will feed additional electricity into the Texas power grid at peak times to prevent brownouts. The abatement would be 95 percent for the first year, and step downward to 75 percent by year 10, the final year of the abatement.

County Judge Richard Sanders said the county will see an estimated $750,000 in tax revenues from the property over a 10-year period, an average of about $75,000 per year.

In other news, Commissioners;
• approved an interlocal agreement between the county and Log Cabin to allow repairs in the community;
• allowed the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office to transfer in-car repeaters to the Coffee City Police Department;
• renewed the inmate housing agreement between the county and Orange County to keep prisoners at a cost of $47 per day in times of disaster, such as a hurricanes;
• approved a contract between the county and the Baxter Volunteer Fire Department for $10,550; and
• paid bills in the amount of $286,708.66.



Posted by : admin | On : June 5, 2015

Cedar Creek flood
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF–Late Thursday night, May 28, westbound State Highway 31 was closed between Trinidad and Malakoff by Texas Department of Transportation officials because of water washing over the road. That closure came because Cedar Creek spilled over the northern portion of the highway, which is lower in elevation than its eastbound twin.

The southern part of the duplexed highway, which normally carries two lanes of eastbound traffic, was divided into one lane each for east-west traffic flow, with orange traffic barrels denoting the division. Westbound vehicles were forced to take a left over an existing paved median crossing at the top of Booger Hill, joining the southernmost part of the divided highway into Trinidad. That southern side was the original routing before the road was four-laned with a median in the late 1960s, shortly after the completion of Cedar Creek Lake.
Even though Cedar Creek is dammed to form Cedar Creek Lake just above this portion of Highway 31, major flooding along the Trinity River has backed up into the creek. That, along with localized flood waters, caused the closure. Because of Cedar Creek Lake’s construction during the early-to-mid 1960s, TxDOT engineers believed the reservoir would control flooding sufficiently, requiring fewer bridges and a lower elevation for the new, northern, westbound lanes of traffic.

The last time State Highway 31 was closed because of high water in the Cedar Creek bottom between Malakoff and Trinidad was in the spring of 1990, which was another season of heavy rains. Westbound traffic seeking to go past Malakoff on Highway 31 was advised by TxDOT signs at Highway 31’s Y-intersection with U.S. Highway 175 in Athens to detour through Gun Barrel City along U.S. 175 and State Highway 334 to Seven Points, then down State Highway 274 to rejoin Highway 31 in Trinidad.

That 38-mile detour in 1990 past what normally covered the 15 miles between Athens and Trinidad came because state highway officials had already commenced construction on improving the eastbound bridges on the southern side of the Cedar Creek bottom. The 1990 construction had already narrowed that side’s traffic down to one lane, making two-way contraflow infeasible.

Further downstream, Cedar Creek also inundated FM 1667 (League Line Road) near the former Creslenn Park, south of Trinidad. That stretch remains closed as of The News’ June 3 press time for this edition.



Posted by : admin | On : June 5, 2015

Emergency worker COMP

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF – Four people went to the hospital over Memorial Day weekend after bailing off all-terrain vehicles to avoid an oncoming train while riding down its right-of-way.
The Saturday, May 23 incident occurred along the Union Pacific tracks, directly behind Malakoff’s Antioch Baptist Church. It prompted responses from the Log Cabin, Caney City and Payne Springs volunteer fire departments (VFDs).

The train rounded a slight curve about 2 p.m. when the engineer spied the four ATV riders and brought the train to a halt, said Mike Tanner, the Log Cabin VFD assistant chief. Tanner said none of the people or ATVs were struck by the train.

Most injuries appeared to be from the fall down the railroad right-of-way’s steep, rocky side, the assistant fire chief said. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, he added. First responders initially tried two different routes from nearby State Highway 31 in unsuccessful efforts to reach the scene. Muddy conditions and a creek that runs parallel to the railroad bed thwarted those efforts.

Eventually, medical personnel entered through an adjacent gated property and made their way to the scene by foot. One of those injured went to the hospital by East Texas Medical Center ambulance, while another was airlifted to the same hospital in Athens. Two more, Tanner said, went to the hospital by private vehicle.
No further word on the condition of the four people, nor their identities, is known as of Wednesday, June 3’s press time for this edition of The News.



Posted by : admin | On : April 27, 2015

Julie armstrong
Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry and board member Rick Vieregge thank Julie Armstrong and First State Bank for their support of the students of Malakoff ISD through the Stand Up For Public Schools program from the Texas Association of School Boards.

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF– Malakoff ISD trustees during April 20’s monthly meeting officially hired Don Enis of Kerens to take over the Tiger basketball program from retiring DeArtis Nickerson.
Enis has also coached at Dawson and Kerens, which he took to the 2012 state semifinal game in Austin. In his eight seasons at Kerens, Enis racked up several district championships and regional appearances, and this past season was named the District 19-2A co-coach of the year.
Enis will teach English at Malakoff, said Superintendent Randy Perry. In addition to Enis, all teachers who have not turned in resignations were rehired by the school district during Monday’s meeting, Perry said, who added that the district has hired Krista Stutts to teach first grade.
Also during the MISD meeting, trustees discussed roofing problems at the Leo Orr alternative campus, as well as possible remedies. Superintendent Perry said there are currently six leaks, none of which are where students are housed. Perry said the school will talk to insurance adjusters about repairs, and said the leaks likely stem from previous hail damage that eventually allowed water to leak through the roof underpinning. Most of the facility is used for storage, he added.
The Malakoff school board also recognized First State Bank of Athens, Malakoff branch during the meeting under the “Stand Up for Texas Public Schools“ program. The program was established by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to celebrate business support provided in local communities, express appreciation to those who stand up for schools, and encourage more businesses to participate in this sort of community service.
“The TASB program allows us to recognize businesses in district that are especially supportive,” Perry said, “and always being there for anything we needed. Julie Armstrong (FSB branch manager) has been a strong supporter of both our athletics and academics programs. She has made resources available from First State Bank for anything we need. We’re glad they’re such a positive force for Malakoff ISD.”
TASB president Andra Self also was present during the Malakoff meeting, where she presented district staffer and video sponsor Jerri Cheek a check for $2,500, the prize for the school district’s second-place entry in the TASB “Texas Schools Rock” video contest. Perry is “very proud” of the effort, and said the video is available on the school district’s website.
Trustees also reviewed state school funding, as well as the future of the ASATR program, which stands for additional state aid for tax reduction. That is a program instituted by the state legislature in 2006, Perry said, which was when the state also cut property taxes by one-third. One-third of bigger or property-rich districts were defined by the state as “hold harmless,” Perry said, and those districts received additional state funding to make up for revenue loss.
That program is going away in the 2017-18 school year, and Perry reviewed the figures with trustees. For example, Malakoff reverts $1.6 million in taxes back to state, from which Texas sends back $1.4 million, keeping $400,000. That difference would be lost without the ASATR program, as would money considered “recaptured,” a provision of the Texas school finance system through which property wealth in the state’s wealthiest districts is used to help support less-rich districts.
Between loss of ASATR funds and recapture, the district is looking at an additional $1.2 million in cuts to stay balanced, which would follow the $900,000 in cuts the district made in 2011 in response to the state cutting $5.4 billion from education funding during that year’s legislative session. Earlier, trustees also reviewed its spending template. There have been two separate bills before the state legislature with differing amounts on what’s provided for education, Perry said. “We’re kind of in limbo right now, but will adjust when we see what legislature does,” he said.
Trustees also heard reports on the school’s food service audit by the state, and passed a resolution for raising the price of meals for non-students, as well as for second meals. The audit was excellent, Perry said, and the state was very impressed with the school’s food service department, he added. The state did recommend that the district raise the meal prices, which the board did, with a vote to move adult and second meals to $3.50 from the current $3, which will take effect in August.
In addition, the board approved a five-year contract with energy provider MP2. The district pays 5 cents per kilowatt hour now, but the new contract reduces that rate to 4.33 cents. MP2 also provides energy for Palestine ISD and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Perry said.
The board also approved its depository contract with First State Bank of Athens, and also heard Malakoff ISD athletics director and head football coach Jamie Driskell about the “Malakoff Night of Champions,” which will be held Friday, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. instead of a traditional athletics banquet. The Night of Champions will allow supporters to come see the student-athletes “put in the work behind the Friday night action or basketball game, all the things they do to get stronger and faster,” Perry said. For instance, there will be a lift-a-thon to raise money for athletics programs, in addition to a dinner during which athletes will be recognized.
Also, Perry told trustees about the school’s UIL academics, which finished a close second at the recent district academic meet, as well as activities that are going “great guns” right now, Perry said, between Malakoff entries at the Henderson County Livestock Show, the first baseball district championship since 1994 success in softball and one-act play advancing to area. State testing continues across the district, Perry said, and the school sent its application to the U.S. Department of Education for the federal government’s Blue Ribbon schools program, for which Malakoff Elementary School was nominated by the state education commissioner. The district is now waiting to hear back for the final report, which Perry said will be issued in September.



Posted by : admin | On : April 8, 2015

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
TRINIDAD–The City of Trinidad is without its own active police force Wednesday when Police Chief James Cook and officer Andrew Brunette announced their resignation.
Cook and Brunette will be on paid administrative leave until April 21, the date of the next scheduled city council meeting. Trinidad Mayor Larry Estes said he expects council members to begin the process of restaffing the vacancies during that meeting.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department will be taking over law enforcement in the interim and at press time are transferring city evidence to county detectives.
Estes learned the shocking news during a business meeting with Cook and Brunette early Wednesday morning. Cook had been with the force since July 2013, and Brunette, since October 2013.
The Trinidad Police Department has been with just two staff members since former officer Jarod Mills’ resignation at a special council meeting January 13. The council agreed in the cost-cutting move to not replace Mills and free up money in the budget.
Estes could not specify what circumstances led to Cook and Brunette’s resignation. A call to the Trinidad Police Department Wednesday was unable to uncover specifics either, as Cook was in transition planning. Cook stated “I have no comment and am in a hurry.”
This was Cook’s second stint as the Trinidad Police Chief. He previously served as chief in 2007 and resigned after a dispute with former District Attorney Donna Bennett. He has since served in law enforcement with Jasper County, Log Cabin City and Athens.
His return to Trinidad was heralded with lofty goals to “clean up the city” by enforcing city code to bring property owners into compliance.
“City code enforcement is our first priority,” Cook had said. “We need to get the city presentable to get people to move here, not away from here.”



Posted by : admin | On : March 20, 2015

Trinidad city council
By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

TRINIDAD–A flap over the future of the First Baptist Church of Trinidad found itself before the city council during the March 17 monthly meeting. Current church membership has dwindled to a handful, and services have not been held since November.

Tensions started during the public comments portion of the meeting, when Hugh Roberts and his wife, Charlotte, who live in Log Cabin, asked about city zoning regulations that might stand in the way of the couple converting the church to a faith-based, state-licensed children’s home under private control.

The idea of a Trinidad children’s home drew the ire of Kenneth Carter, who formerly served as Trinidad police chief and a Henderson County deputy. Carter said his experience with a children’s home came from the former St. Paul Industrial School, located in Caney City. Carter said such children’s homes “always mean trouble” and that he “worked day and night” dealing with those who lived there. “If it’s such a good place,” Carter said, “why don’t you put it in your back yard, and not mine?”

Other options discussed included conversion to a Hispanic outreach mission or to turn over leadership to another group that would continue church services. Joe D. Cooper of Key Ranch Estates, who said he has more than 40 years’ experience in the ministry, offered to keep the church going. Cooper also stated that he believed church bylaws and the deed he said was gifted in 1991 state that the property must remain a church.
Online records of the Henderson County Appraisal District for 2014 show a one-acre parcel of land with a 10,000 square-foot structure with a market value of $800,000, and an adjacent half-acre lot valued at nearly $4,000. Both properties are owned completely by First Baptist Church-Trinidad, according to the 2014 records.

Former FBC-Trinidad pastor Jim Lamb said there were four members of the church when he stepped down from the pulpit and handed control to Wayne Pitchford of Log Cabin. Lamb said the handoff was a handshake deal to turn the building into a Hispanic outreach mission. Since then, water and electric service has been discontinued, and rumors swirl that the building has had its locks changed. Those opposing the children’s home also stated that plans include tearing down the church sanctuary, which Pitchford denied.

Pitchford said there are now three members of the church, which is located at 302 Lawrence Street. While services haven’t been held since late last year, church members continue to hold monthly business meetings, Pitchford said. It was during those meetings that church members agreed that a children’s home would be a better option than the outreach mission.

Also in question is control of the church’s bank account. Lamb said the original deal called for more than $10,000 remaining in church coffers to be transferred to a Seven Points congregation. Pitchford said the account remains in First Baptist Church-Trinidad’s name at a Malakoff bank in that same amount.

Lamb and others fear that if a children’s home is established, the state of Texas will eventually end up in control of the church through the state Child Protective Services (CPS). Lamb and Cooper stated they opposed the intermingling of church and state.

Pitchford said he, too, opposes government control of the property, and that any children’s home would be governed by a nonprofit board of directors. Pitchford added that he has been threatened with two lawsuits since the controversy erupted.

Council member Roy Stanfield voiced support of the children’s home, pointing out it would increase enrollment in Trinidad schools. Mayor Larry Don Estes said while he had no vote on the issue, the controversy “wasn’t a (City of) Trinidad matter, but a lawyer matter.” The Trinidad City Council took no action on the First Baptist Church issue.

Also during March 17’s meeting, Utility Service Group offered the city a deal to rehabilitate and maintain the city’s two ground water storage tanks. Each of the first three years of the contract would cost the city about $57,000, which would pay for repairs. After the initial three-year contract, the agreement would revert to an annual one, costing Trinidad about $15,000 per year. The city’s elevated water storage tank was not factored into those figures, but could be if the city desired to do so, Almond said. Council members took no action on the matter.

In other business, the Trinidad City Council approved a $65,000 deal with AAA Sanitation to replace two manholes and approximately 600 feet of sewer line on McEntire Road (FM 764); voted to demolish a garage April 24 at 511 McEntire; eliminated parking along Oak and First streets; reduced the speed limit on Oak Street from 25 mph to 20 mph; accepted resignations of Bette Lehmann and Heather Burton from the Trinidad Economic Development Corp. board; and revised the city’s noise ordinance to prohibit trucks from using motor engine brakes within the city limits.

In addition, the Trinidad council voted to table a request by Trinidad ISD Superintendent Corey Jenkins to acquire fencing from the city-owned baseball field behind Dillon’s Park for school use.