Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : August 1, 2013

Arson fire Crescent Heights 010-2

By Tracy Martin
The News Corespondent

CRESCENT HEIGHTS-Around 2 in the afternoon July 24, a 12-year-old girl allegedly started a fire that destroyed her family’s home. Sources and witnesses spoke with The News about the fire, but will not be named to guard the identity of the juvenile. It took mere minutes for the fire to spread from room to room. The child’s mother attempted to put the fire out, while trying to get two other children out of the mobile home.

She was one of five treated for smoke-inhalation, including three firefighters who required medical attention due to the extreme heat and smoke. Two other residents of the small mobile home park needed hospitalization, one wheelchair bound, another with emphysema and high blood pressure.

The home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived from Malakoff, North 19, Trinidad and Southside, two mobile homes on either side were saved because of the efforts by these fire departments. Had the fire not been contained, witnesses say three or four other residences could have been destroyed. They told firefighters how thankful they are for the saving of their homes. Bob Norris with North 19 fire and rescue says it was an incredibly hot fire. “The biggest concern was the proximity of the other homes and getting people away from the fire and heat. The smoke was very dangerous for everyone near the fire,” he said.
Henderson County Fire Marshal Shane Renberg was immediately called to the scene when arson was suspected. “It is always a delicate investigation when dealing with a juvenile and a serious crime like arson, especially when victims and firefighters battling the fire suffered injuries,” Renberg said.

One source told The News the mother had been dealing with behavior issues with the child, including treatment and medications, the 12-year-old attended school and is described as being a sweet, pretty girl. Renberg transported the child from the scene to a juvenile detention facility in Anderson County, where she is being held, undergoing evaluation and facing felony charges of arson to a habitation with injuries.

The family is described as hard-working and had purchased the mobile home after renting it and had been doing renovations and making improvements. The home is a total loss, and the family did not have insurance. The Red Cross provided emergency aid and temporary accommodations. Sources say the mother, father and three children had recently gone on a family vacation and are devastated by the fire and charges their little girl now faces.



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

By Buddy Hazell
Special to The News

Let’s go back to the 1960s once again. I killed more deer on our little 5 ½ acre place every year than most people kill on their $1,000 deer leases. The deer ate out of our garden and our yard at night, we could look outside late in the evening and there would be as many as 5 or 6 deer around the house.

Three acres of our place was wooded and fenced with hog wire, and I used it as a hog-pasture when I had sows with young pigs. Just about any time you walked out there, you would see deer eating out of my hog feeders. It was easy to keep meat in our freezer.
We had a young Probationary Pipe and Ladderman at our Station who had never killed a deer. I told him that if he wanted to kill a deer, on the next day we were off duty come to my house and I would put him where he could see a deer. However, the killing would be up to him; but to call before he comes.

A few days later he called and I said be here before daylight. The next morning, he pulled in the driveway just before it broke daylight. I took him to the back of the hog pasture and put him in a stand about 25 yards from a feeder, and told him that I would be back when I heard him shoot.

About an hour passed, the sun was coming up and I heard three shots, one after the other. I didn’t hear any of them hit anything, and told my wife, “Surely he couldn’t miss three times.”

About five minutes later I heard it again, “POW, POW, POW.” I told Lulu, “I better go check on him;” I eased down the fence line, and when I got close to his stand he called out, “Watch out, watch out, there’s a Bear by the feeder!” I responded, “BEAR!, what are you talking about boy? There are no bears in this part of the country.”

“There is, there is,” he shouted; “It was right there in that brush a few minutes ago,” he said, while pointing toward the hog feeder.
I thought to myself, “This kid is nuts, he doesn’t know a deer from a bear.”

I walked over to the feeder looking at tracks, there were deer tracks and hog tracks but nothing that looked like bear tracks. Then I thought, “Oh me, I know what he saw,” and I cried out, “Yo, yo, come on, come on,” and here he came.

I had left my Duroc boar in the pasture. He was dark red and came up to my belt line in height. I was glad the kid wasn’t ‘Bear hunting.’ His bear was my boar hog.

Well, I am going to take a few weeks off, to vacation, rest my brain, and just relax. I’ll be back the first of September. Have a good Summer, I love you all.



Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 13, 2013

By Loretta Humble
Special to The News

Christmas will be here before you know it. Really before you know it. Like in another week or so here in Malakoff, where downtown merchants are getting out their Christmas decorations for their second annual Christmas in July event. And this year they plan to have twelve days of it, like the song, having some special event every day, starting Friday, July 19 and going through Tuesday, July 30. There will be an art show, and a couple of teas, and a book sale, and cash drawings, and demonstrations, and I don’t know what all. There will be refreshments in many shops, and of course, extra special specials. My Cedar Lake companies are going to be participating by offering some checkups like blood pressure, glucometer and oximeter readings, and whatever else we can think of. Maybe we’ll even weigh you if you want us to. The list of events will be elsewhere in the paper, and in Henderson County Now and all over the Internet. I sure don’t have room to list them all here. Don’t miss the fun!

I got a late birthday present last week, when my daughter Liz and daughter Tina and her whole family took me blueberry picking at Echo Springs Blueberry Farm. That was fun. I’ve posted a lot of pictures of that on They have great muffins and free coffee and all sorts of other delicious goodies. It is a nice place to go even when the blueberries aren’t ripe.
Another good thing that happened is that I got a garden fence. I got that because my grandsons Hunter Norwood and Jon Baker needed to get to Costa Rica. They are both studying Hospitality Management at North Texas University, and they’ve chosen to learn Green Hospitality in Costa Rica for their summer semester. We all chipped in to help them get the funds they needed, but they were still short. They asked me if I had a job for them, and I told them I needed a good garden fence. So they made me a great one, with a lot of help from their parents. I also have pictures of that adventure posted on aroundthetown.

Now I have a fantastic fence which encloses a really pitiful garden. I had a great crop of lambsquarters, which got old and tough and were just a hideout place for the millions of grasshoppers who ate every onion blade, every bean, every flower the zinnias tried to make, and nibbled on everything else. So we mowed down what had been my best crop, which was the lambsquarters. Luckily grasshoppers seem to not like tomatoes, which is the second best crop. They’ve done okay, but nothing in that garden is one-third as great looking as the Malakoff Housing Authority’s garden. Or one-fifth as great as Don Hughes’ garden right down the road from me. But mark my word. Next year my garden is going to be a beautiful thing to behold. I’m going to spend from now till next spring feeding that soil compost, and next year I’m going to have a garden worthy of that fence.

Meanwhile, we continue to spread Humbles throughout the health care industry in East Texas. Granddaughter Ariel, who recently graduated from TCU, is our latest success. She just landed a job with Navarro Regional Hospital as marketer for their Healthy Woman Program. Then, there is Ashley Humble, bride of grandson Beau Humble, who has recently been hired as vice president for development of Cornerstone Hospice. And of course I’ve already told you that Beau is administrator of the beautiful new Kemp Care Center. That means everybody in our family named Humble works in healthcare. And they all work for excellent companies. We are very proud of all of them.

I have another piece of good news, but I don’t have room to tell it like I want to, so I’m just going to tell you a little and tell you more later, because I think this might be valuable information for some of the rest of you. As many of you know, I have been doing everything I can to keep from having a knee replacement. And some of it helped, but lately I’ve been having a lot of pain. I went to the doctor and he set me up on a new program I’d never even heard about. He fitted me with a knee brace that promises not only to relieve pain from my arthritis, but also has been proven to actually improve the condition of the knee, eliminating the need for surgery in a lot of people. I’m pretty excited about it. You can learn about it at And I will be keeping you updated on how it works for me.



Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 13, 2013

Help Center

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

ATHENS–The Henderson County Help Center has been helping residents in their time of need for more than a quarter century.
The Help Center originally got its start in 1987 as a place where local churches could organize and track where resources were going. Executive Director Leslie Saunders explained.

“There was some overlap on where some of the churches were dispensing funds,” she said. “The Help Center assisted in preventing the same people from going from church to church – making their rounds and starting over again at the first church.”
More than simply preventing potential abuse, the purpose of the Help Center was to find out why people needed help and assist them is becoming self-reliant.

In the early ‘90s, the Help Center finally found its home. First Baptist Church offered a very generous lease on a building at 309 Royal St. in Athenswhere it is to this day. The 99-year lease costs The Help Center a dollar.

“First Baptist has been a continued blessing to the county,” Saunders said. “They are still one of our biggest partners today.”

Another Help Center partner which has been there since the beginning is The United Way. In fact, in its origin the program was called “The United Way Help Center.” Today it shows its support through the United Way Help Line,a clearing house of available resources to individuals and families by locating a way to meet their needs. There is a screening process that includes documentation. Residents may recieve financial aid in dire circumstances but ussualy only up to three times, with six month intervils.

In some rare circumstances these rules can be breached, but the need and situation must be merited and urgent, Saunders said.
The Help Center offers many services including various forms of counseling including assistance to physically or sexually abused children, pregnant mothers, school children and new parents.
Other programs include:

• PEP (Pregnancy, Education and Parenting), a school drop out prevention program for pregnant or parenting teens. The program can provide transportation, life skills and day care.

• SAP (Student Assistance Program) provides therapy services to at risk youth at school campuses.

• CAC (Child Advocacy Program) works with law enforcement, child protective services, the District Attorney’s Office and medical and mental health professionals to assist children from suffering abuse.

• Heritage Keepers is an abstinence and life skills education class developed to equip and empower adolescents to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.

For more information about The Henderson County Help Center call 903-675-4357 or visit their website at www.the



Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : July 12, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The NewsStaff

ATHENS–Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders has called together a group of experienced professionals throughout the county to talk about, organize and add structure to a collective response to local emergencies.

The group, called the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), is filled with members from all over the career track, including energy production and distribution, emergency management, fire fighting, hospitals and media.

While the committee doesn’t function in actual emergency situations, its role is to identify and catalogue potential hazards, identify available resources, mitigate hazards and writing emergency plans.

Henderson County Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough says the committee’s main goals are educating its members about proper safety and emergency protocol and communicating that information to each other and the public.

“It’s all about education and communication,” she told The News. “While we have no direct control on what people do, such as making laws, we can provide the education needed to assist in preventing a disaster.”

Important lines of communication include the facility owners, first responders, city officials and the general public. It is necessary for industry to be a part of this planning process to ensure facility plans are compatible with local emergency plans.
“Not every man-made hazard can be fixed,” she said. “But they can be identified and people will be more aware of what they need to be safe in case of an emergency.”

Emergency planning and safety is fresh on the mind of many leaders in Texas after the deadly explosion in West April 17.
Man made hazardous materials are part of life today, and since they are not going away, as a community, options include handling them safely and responding correctly if something does go wrong.

Athens fire chief and LEPC chair person John McQueary responded to a barrage of media inquires last month when channel 8, WFAA reported that ammonium nitrate, the chemical fertilizer blamed for the deadly explosion in West, was distributed in a building near the square in Athens.

While many people were alarmed to discover the hazardous material was distributed so close to the square, its location is not new. It’s been sold there for more than 15 years.

The News spoke with McQueary about the ammonium nitrate stored at 105 Larkin.

“In a nutshell, the government has deemed it a safe material,” he said. “It takes outside sources to make it volatile. As long as protocol is followed, there should be low risk of an accident. Every explosion is because of an error., not the substance. As long as we work in conjunction with each other and follow regulations, its safe.”

Some regulations McQueary cited to keep ammonium nitrate stable is good ventilation, keeping it clear of other chemicals that could leak or get near it, making sure the building owner is following electricity codes and ensure no gas operated vehicles are stored in the facility.

“We are making sure the building is in compliance,” he said. “Would it be better if it was somewhere else? Yes. Would it be better if it was in a new building? Yes. However, the reality is, it is safe right now. That fertilizer plant was here before most of the city was and consumers need it in a location that is easily accessible.”

McQueary was reassuring about the city’s capability to put out a fire if it broke out at 105 Larkin.
“We have a 2-3 minute response time to that location,” he said. “We have three hydrants right there that could be quickly accessed. In 5-7 minutes the whole place would be flooded.”

McQueary said comparing the facility to the one in West is like comparing apples to oranges.

“West had a huge facility. Transport trucks with gasoline were in it, as well as multiple substances. There was a greater chance of accidents to happen. We have one product in one building. And it’s prime season for farmers. It moves out quickly because farmers want it. It’s gone the next day or two after it arrives.”

He said he is making its safety as one of his highest priorities.

“You had better believe, after West, we are triple checking everything to make sure its in compliance,” he said.



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.



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.



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


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.



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


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.



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


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.