Jul

11

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 11, 2013

burn ban 002

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

ATHENS-Hot and dry conditions across Henderson County were high priority for commissioners Tuesday. A unanimous vote to implement a countywide ban on outdoor burning went into affect, after hearing from area volunteer fire departments, seeing the increase in brush and grass fires and a recommendation from the fire marshal.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Scotty Thomas witnessed one recent grass fire in the Seven Points area and said he’s been monitoring the daily reports of fire dangers. “Based on conditions it’s what’s needed,” he said. “We looked at both the state maps showing drought conditions and the index for Henderson County and it is dryer in the western section, we’re going county-wide to keep everyone safe from fires that can get out of control.”

In the past, burn bans were only put in place for parts of the county, but to avoid confusion, the ban will be county-wide through July 23, when commissioners will either extend it or lift it, due to sufficient rainfall. In May, the National Weather Service recorded four inches of rainfall in the county. June and July have reported little or no rainfall amounts. Violations are a C-misdemeanor, punishable up to $500 per incident. Authorities and fire departments will enforce the ban.

Commissioners also held two public hearings; the first took input on the proposed guidelines for right-of-way- use by utility companies. A 19-page document prepared by Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Geesling standardizes requirements for all utility companies to install lines or pipes in the county. The second hearing invited public input on proposed changes to the Emergency Services District 7 boundaries. These changes were accepted and will appear on the November ballot for voters of ESD 7.
In other business, commissioners:

• approved funds for an employee luncheon in connection with the Healthy Rewards program. Fifty county employees successfully completed an eight-week fitness program. Funds totaling $400 from the “Sonicboom” program to promote healthy diets and exercise for the county’s 400 employees. The program motivates healthier lifestyles among employes in an effort to lower insurance rates.

• approved a contract with Gray and Company, a commercial insurance consultant, to manage negotiations for premiums paid by the county for liability insurance and worker’s compensation.

•approved contracts between Henderson County and 29 taxing entities for collection of property taxes for the 2013-14 cycle.
• accepted a tax resale deed for lot 25, in Lake Shadows, Precinct 2, the bid of $500 for the property was considered fair for the distressed property.

• agreed to hold the next Commissioners’ Court at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23, instead of July 16.

• paid bills totaling $169,451.75.

Jul

04

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 4, 2013

By Buddy Hazell
Special to The News

This week, I am going to deviate from my normal subjects, and write about someone else. This week’s column is to give the Malakoff Police Chief Billy Mitchell and his staff the praise they deserve. I do want to point out two officers who have been assigned to School Zone duty; Officer Touncy Hart and Officer Robert Siegmund. The job these two men have done this past school year has been outstanding.

I take our seven year old daughter to school every morning, and pick her up every afternoon. I come into Malakoff from the east, and just before I get to Hillcrest, I see IT. See what? A sign hanging over both lanes of the west bound side of the Hi-way. The sign has four flashing lights, and between them in large letters, SCHOOL, speed limit 35 MPH. I can read it. So can you. Then I see him parked at the Village Center complex just waiting for you. Who do I see? I see “The Man In the Black car.

I normally turn up Hillcrest to Dewey and proceed to the Elementary School, I find on the corner of Dewey and N. College a sign, fully visible even to this 82 year old man. The sign reads School zone, 20 MPH. (Don’t tell Chief Mitchell, but sometimes I miss this sign and fail to slow down.)

There are a number of children that walk to school on Dewey Street, and have to walk on the street or just barely off the road. These children may dart out into the street without any warning; WHY, because they are kids.
These officers are not there to arrest you or give you a ticket; they are there to protect our children. However, depending on the violation or perhaps our attitudes, we may receive a citation or in a more severe case, you may be arrested and given a free ride to the Ray Nutt Hotel.

Just like adults, kids do a lot of stupid things; some things get us in trouble, severely injured, or killed. For we who drive in our School Zones, is it not stupid to enter a School Zone going faster than the law allows? Come on folks, these are our kids, yours and mine.

Talking with Chief Mitchell, I asked him, “What is the most used excuse for speeding in a School Zone”? His response really surprised me. I thought an adult would say, “I am late for work”; in the case of our School students, the tears will start to flow as they would say, “If I’m late one more time I will get ISS. But the most used excuse He said was “I’m sorry Officer I didn’t know I was in a School Zone.”

Aw, come on folks how stupid do we think our Police Officers are? JUST KEEP DOING YOUR JOB OFFICERS AND YOU WILL HAVE MY THANKS.

Jul

03

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 3, 2013

Guthrie

Special to The News
ATHENS–Jackie Martez Guthrie, 23, of Frankston was sentenced to Life in the Penitentiary recently after pleading guilty to the July 2012 shooting death of 18-year-old Chantel Barrett of Tyler.

Barrett was found dead outside a Coffee City residence on July 19, 2012. Police found her body while responding to a call about gunshots. Guthrie, 23, was quickly identified as a suspect and a manhunt was initiated. Guthrie was believed to have also kidnapped 19-year-old Tiffany Hurd, who was eight months pregnant with Guthrie’s child at the time.

Approximately 24 hours later, Guthrie was spotted by former classmates, vacationing in Galveston. He was taken into custody without incident. Guthrie had in his possession what prosecutors believed was the weapon used to shoot Barrett. Investigators from the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office traveled to Galveston to interview and transport Hurd back to Henderson County. A funeral service was held for Barrett on July 23, 2012 in Henderson.

Guthrie entered his plea on the morning of June 17 in Judge Dan Moore’s 173rd Judicial District Court. Family members from both sides were in the courtroom during the proceedings.

Prosecutors and investigators believe Barrett was shot while trying to keep Guthrie from nabbing the 8-month pregnant Hurd during a scuffle between Guthrie and Hurd. District Attorney Scott McKee and Assistant District Attorney Justin Weiner prosecuted the case. Investigator John Long led the investigation for Sheriff Ray Nutt’s department.

“Chantel was a beautiful young woman who had her life senselessly taken while trying to save her friend. She is a true hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice for someone she cared for,” McKee said.

Jul

02

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 2, 2013

Rathe

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

ATHENS–There’s a new leader at the helm at the Athens Chamber of Commerce; and he sees a bright future with endless possibilities on the horizon for Athens and the Region.

Mark Rathe officially began his tenure as the chamber president June 3, and after a month, he has been busy instilling his vision of Athens to the community and its businesses.

Everybody knows Athens is already a beautiful place to live, work and play, and the region has all the building blocks to become an even greater regional financial center and hub.

“If you look at what we have in this region, it’s an incredible place. It’s on the cusp of outstanding growth,” he told The News.
Gesturing and counting off on his fingers, he counts the reasons.

“We have an airport with room to grow, a loop with tremendous development potential – how many cities our size have a loop? We have the beautiful regional lakes nearby and close proximity to Dallas, Tyler, Houston, Central and East Texas is a plus. There is also Texas Freshwater Fisheries and the East Texas Arboretum.”

One meeting with Rathe made it obvious why he was chosen by the Athens Chamber board to be its leader. The man brings a passion to his position with a clear vision and road map to get there. According to Rathe, the best way to get moving in the right direction is for everybody to be on the same page and working together. It shouldn’t be surprising that he explains this vision though imagery.
“You ever see a picture of Amish farmers working a field?” He asks. “There are many oxen working together to pull the farm equipment. With just one, that yoke isn’t going anywhere, but when they all work together, the job gets done.”

One of the things that attracted Rathe to the Athens Chamber post after he came here for an interview was the close proximity the chamber office is to other city organizations. The chamber shares an office in the Athens Partnership Center with the Athens Economic Development Corporation, the Small Business Development Center, Keep Athens Beautiful and the Department of Tourism.
“Just being so close to each other lends to collaboration,” he said.

Before taking the job in Athens, Rathe lived and worked in Tulsa, Okla. running the state Chamber of Commerce regional office for nine years. He met his wife, Alice, a native Texan while they both attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. They raised two boys, Andrew and Tyler, who are both attending the University of Oklahoma.

Now with parents aging, he and Alice decided relocation was important to be closer to family. His father lives in Houston and mother-in-law lives in Waco.

“I made it to Houston for Father’s Day for the first time since my college years,” he said. “Living in Athens makes the trip possible. I also made it to Waco for the wheat harvest at the farm a few weeks ago.”

“Athens is extremely convenient and central to Waco, Houston and Tulsa,” he said.

You can find Rathe hard at work in the Chamber office every day. The number is 903-675-5181.

Jun

30

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 30, 2013

Fugitives

Special to the News

ATHENS-Tuesday marked the end of a long road for two Henderson County fugitives. Joy Lynn Everett and Pete Quinonez had been on the run from law enforcement but finally ran out of road. Diligent efforts from Sheriff Ray Nutt’s office and District Attorney Scott McKee’s office ensured that the two would ultimately give up and turn themselves in to authorities.

Everett was convicted in early February 2012 for Possession of a Controlled Substance. Prosecutors Justin Weiner and Nancy Rumor tried the case on behalf of the people of Henderson County. All it took was seven minutes for a jury of six men and six women to deliver a convicting verdict. On April 3, 2012, a month later, the court heard evidence at a punishment hearing where Weiner stated: “This is someone who has failed to take responsibility for her actions on every level,” Weiner stated.  “While she was out on bond, and awaiting a trial in this court, she was caught with even more suspected methamphetamine, and went to great and extremely bizarre lengths to try to conceal evidence.” The court sentenced Everett to a term of eight years in prison. Her attorney filed an appeal and she was granted bail, while the appeal was pending. Having secured a bond, she was out on bond, yet again. On April 24, 2013, the 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler affirmed the conviction securing Everett’s eight-year sentence.

Everett had been on the run ever since, until some hard work paid off on Tuesday (June 25). Early in the morning, deputy Kyle Pochobradsky received information regarding the whereabouts of Everett. Everett was living in a residence at 117 Estrota Drive in Cherokee Shores with Pete Quinonez, who also was a fugitive from justice. Quinonez had an outstanding bond forfeiture for a Possession of a Controlled Substance case as well as a Motion to Revoke pending for failure to pay child support.

Ultimately, Everett’s presence in the home was verified. Captains Bryan Tower, Kay Langford, deputy Michael Teel, and narcotics investigator Wick Gabbard arrived at the residence where a lengthy standoff ensued. District Attorney’s Office investigator Ronny Halbert and Weiner also arrived on scene. Everett eventually removed the barricade from the front door to the home and came out willingly once she released that legal forced entry was imminent.

Both Everrett and Quinonez were taken into custody and transported to the Henderson County Jail. Everett will await transport to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to serve out her sentence and Quinonez will be held on his current pending charges.

District Attorney Scott McKee praised the work of deputy Pochobradsky for his efforts in locating the fugitives.

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

27

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

Principal

By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent

MALAKOFF–Malakoff ISD trustees approved hiring Martin Brumit as the high school principal during its June 20 meeting.
Brumit will begin his duties on July 1. He was most recently an assistant principal at Denton Ryan High School, and had been with the district for the past five years. He replaces previous principal Daniel Barton, who moved to Tarkington ISD near Cleveland, Texas, in the same capacity following a two-year stint in Malakoff.

Excited about his move to Malakoff, Brumit said that while Denton Ryan is a large school (more than 2,000 students), it had a small town atmosphere, and that experience will serve him well in Malakoff.

The new principal was recently chosen as a finalist for the Association of Texas Professional Educators statewide Administrator of the Year award, which will be bestowed in July. Brumit graduated from West Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in history and kinesiology, and has a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.

Trustees also heard a report from superintendent Randy Perry about preliminary state test results for the district, which includes the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).The STAAR has replaced the TAKS, but the TAKS is still administered to students who entered high school before the 2011-2012 school year.

“The STAAR scores were excellent, especially the elementary schools,” Perry said. Preliminary results included 100 percent of Tool and Malakoff elementary schools’ third-graders passing the reading and math portions. “That’s amazing. We’re thrilled,” Perry said.
Other STAAR highlights for the district included Tool Elementary’s fourth graders, who passed the writing portion at a 98 percent rate. Also, scores for eighth grade reading rose 21 percent in one year.

Perry said that the high school English I writing results marked the greatest need for improvement, with Malakoff students finishing behind the state average. Eighth grade social studies also came in slightly behind the state average, but Perry noted that Malakoff students still scored better compared to surrounding school districts.

Additionally, the superintendent told board members that the district’s TAKS science results for its African-American students showed a big increase from last year, with all students in that demographic passing that portion of the test. Overall, students who took the TAKS passed the English Language Arts test at a 91 percent clip, math at 92 percent, social studies at 97 percent and science at 97 percent.

Also during the superintendent’s report to trustees, Perry said that Malakoff Middle School’s first place entry in the Texas Schools Rock! video contest was recognized during the Texas Association of School Boards’ Summer Leadership Conference, which was held in Fort Worth in mid-June.

In other business, trustees approved buying two 2014 Thomas school buses at $90,765 each. Funding for the new buses comes from $463,000 in bond money returned to the district after contractors came in under budget following recent Tool Elementary School additions. Also, board members gave the go ahead to replace tile at the 17 year-old high school’s cafetorium with carpet in the school’s black and gold colors. This project will be handled by Gallagher Construction Services of Richardson for $31,100. Similar carpeting has already been installed in the high school’s hallways.

During the meeting, trustees heard from its tax collection attorney, Alison Wylie of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson’s Tyler office. Wylie said that the district will sell property located at 502 N. Martin in Malakoff which was previously removed from the district’s tax roll following the delinquency. The property will be up for bid at the sheriff’s sale Aug. 6 on the steps of the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens.

In addition to a new high school principal, the board approved Gary Lucius as assistant high school principal.
Lucius had served as director of the district’s Leo Orr Sr. Education Center. Other hires include: Chrissy Humphrey, high school math; Brenda Clark, high school English; Tawna Walden, elementary teacher; and Hagen Keele, high school math and coach.

Jun

26

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 26, 2013

kimpixHumble Enough Pic

By Loretta Humble
Special to The News

I’ve been thinking about body size. I think about it a lot because I have been real proud of myself for losing thirty pounds in the last few months.

I did it because I wanted to get weight off my arthritic knee, so maybe I wouldn’t have to replace it. I’m not sure I’ve saved the knee, but in other respects, I’ve felt like I got a nearly new me. It has been wonderful fun every time I found I could get into another size smaller jeans. I gave away my men’s golf shirts and baggy jeans, which had been my normal attire, and started dressing like a normal person. I bought me some earrings. I bought some makeup, and sometimes, I put it on.

I met a really nice (and trim) man that I now enjoy going places and doing things with. Could be he would have liked me if he’d met me when I weighed a few pounds more than he does, but I probably wouldn’t have been where he could find me if I hadn’t got to feeling good about the way I look. I was getting lots of compliments and I was loving it.

Then I discoved this wonderful painting by Celene Terry. It shows a beautiful woman with a self-assured twinkle in her eye, and beside her this quote from Anna Quindlen:

“After all these years as a woman hearing not thin enough, not smart enough, not this enough, not that enough, almost overnight I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I’m enough.’ ”

I totally fell in love with the picture, and have posted it all over the Internet.

Now I’m having this dialog with myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone so crazy patting myself on the back for losing all that weight and looking better. Why did my self-esteem go up so much when I became thinner? I didn’t become a better person when I got thinner—in fact, maybe I got worse, as I got to thinking how cute I was getting.

On the other hand, that woman in the painting, like Celene herself, is slim and beautiful, so why shouldn’t she say she is enough?
I called Donna Rinn to see what she thought. Donna has long been preaching the message that we are okay just like we are. A while back she was passing out stickers telling us all we are beautiful, or perfect, or something like that. But in the meantime, she got busy losing weight. She has lost more weight than I have. I asked her how she reconciled this. She said she watched one of those documentaries on how obesity can kill you, and decided while she was okay just like she was, she wanted to stay around to love on her grandkids. She is doing great—she has discontinued a lot of her medicines, cut others in half, and is feeling much better. She says she is glad she can find some clothes that fit her now, but she doesn’t make a big deal out of it like I have. She has a bigger goal.

I tried to reach Celene to get her take on this, but I couldn’t reach her. Maybe she will tell me later.

Best I can figure, the point is, each of us, and nobody else, gets to say what our “enough” is. If or when we decide to get skinnier or smarter or whatever—or not—that is our business. And what other people do is their business. And it is probably fine to be pleased with our choice if we don’t over do it. We need to be gentle with ourselves and one another. We need to let one another be what we will be.

Jun

26

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 26, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

EUSTACE–Sometimes a great legacy can propel us to our former glory. The Jesus Connection in Eustace is experiencing just this kind of renaissance.

For 20 years the First Baptist Church in Eustace has operated a food pantry. Its had times of growth and decline – sometimes servicing a single family, other times filling the entire parking lot with people in need of a meal.

The early 2000’s were a period of prosperity for the food pantry. It was open one Tuesday every month and people came in from the surrounding tri-county area for its services. After a time the leader that organized the weekly pantry fell ill and the ministry transitioned back to a one-room service. It stayed that way for nearly a decade until some of the church’s faithful started talking about a growing need in the county and their ability to do something about it.

“It started during the pantry’s charity golf tournament,” The Jesus Connection organizer Gary Walsh said. “Larry Albertson approached me about it. A conviction was heavy on his heart that the pantry should be bigger than it was. Since I had been organizing the pantry it was on my heart, too. We prayed about it with (pastor) Paul McKinney and God has been leading us in this direction ever since.”

Today, Walsh and Albertson, along with their wives Patty and Carol spearhead the community service ministry with two goals in mind for recipients: feeding both the spiritual and physical sides of man. After some preparation the pantry is again open the first Tuesday every month from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Considering future plans, Walsh said that he hopes the pantry will grow to be open each week to serve more people. If or when the ministry grows again, it surely means more trips to “The King’s Storehouse” in Tyler, where Walsh and Albertson purchase the food. You can count on them being up for the drive.

“Jesus said we are to take care of the poor and needy,” Walsh said. “We are not here to judge anyone, just to serve. We just ask that they take part in a 15 minute Bible study before they leave.”

The response from the community to the resurgence of The Jesus Connection has been phenomenal, Walsh said.

“We already have 12-14 faithful volunteers,” he said. “And we raised $5,000 at Twin Lakes Golf Course earlier this year.”
Walsh draws upon a story Jesus concludes in Matthew 25:40 for inspiration and guidance. The scripture reads; “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Roughly translated, that means “If you’re serious about loving me, be serious about loving people.”

The Jesus Connection is seeking sponsors and donations to better serve the region. For more information call the Eustace First Baptist Church at 903-425-2261.

Jun

25

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 25, 2013

By Buddy Hazell
Special to The News

On January 15, 1952 I went to work for the Houston Fire Department as a Probationary Pipe and Ladder man. My salary was $100.00 a week. Six months later, my probationary time was over and I received a raise and my salary went to $150.00 a week. In all my life, I had never seen that much money at one time. I thought I had found a gold mine. I was still living at home, eating Mother’s groceries, letting her do the washing and ironing of my clothes and me just enjoying life.

But, on November 16, 1952, I married the girl of my dreams. We only dated three times in three weeks; however I knew she had to be mine. I was still making $300.00 every two weeks, and now I had rent to pay, utilities to pay, groceries to buy, a car to keep up and a wife to support. Where did my $300.00 go?

One day, Lulu said, “Buddy we are going to have a baby.” “WHAT?” I replied, “A BABY!” I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry; I may have done both. Then there were all the things babies need. Lulu supplied the baby’s milk, but there were diapers and countless other things. $300.00 just wouldn’t cover it all; what am I going to do? Pride kept me from asking my Mother for help, so I found a part-time job.

In the Fire Department, we worked days one week and nights the next week. I went to work for a company that made and installed insulation bats for oil-field boilers. When I was working nights at the fire station, I worked days insulating boilers.

As time went on, there came another baby and before I knew it there were two more, making four babies in all. What a litter! Even with me working two jobs, there was still not enough money. What to do, that was the question. Lulu couldn’t go to work; she had babies to take care of. I soon got a job as a night watchman, and when I was working days at the fire station, I worked from 9 PM until 5 AM five nights a week.

One day I got off early from the fire station and went home, as I got out of my pick-up, our dog bit me, and the kids said, “Mother, there’s a man here.” I walked in the house and hugged and kissed my wife and the kids all said, “Oh, Mama, I’m gonna tell Daddy.” I knew right then that money wasn’t that important, I had to be home more with my family. The next day, I gave notice that I was going to quit the night watching job and the oil field job. We couldn’t live on $300.00 every two weeks, so I had to do something. A few days later we had a hard rain, and our roof started leaking; something else to spend money on, and I had just quit my part-time jobs. I borrowed some money from the bank to buy shingles for the house and roofed it myself.

Now, I am back to just $300.00 every two weeks and along with our regular bills, we now owe the bank as well. What to do, what to do? A neighbor asked me if I would roof his house, and I did. Then word got around and I soon had more and more houses to roof. I started roofing and just worked three or four days a week and made more money than I had made working on three jobs.
Working never hurt anyone, but DON’T PUT IT BEFORE TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY!