Jun

21

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 21, 2013

Special to The News

The annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) is coming up on Thursday, July 4. The show will last approximately one-half hour and is one of the biggest in East Texas.
The fireworks show is directed and produced by Alpha-Lee Enterprises, Inc., of Liverpool, Texas. The show is a Keep Athens Beautiful event.

TFFC will be open for regular paid visitation from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission for the fireworks show will start at 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to fish in the stocked casting pond while waiting for the fireworks, which will begin at dark. No license is required to fish, and bait and tackle are furnished for free. Fishing ends at 8:30 p.m., and the fireworks will begin approximately one-half hour later.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase, and people are encouraged to bring picnics. KCKL (FM 95.9) will broadcast patriotic music during the show.

Pets, alcohol and private fireworks, including “snap caps” and sparklers, are not allowed. TFFC is a tobacco-free facility, and smoking or the use of tobacco products are not allowed on the premises. The public’s cooperation will be appreciated.
The fireworks show is sponsored and paid for by the City of Athens, local businesses and individuals.

Contributors include: City of Athens, The Cain Foundation, Charlie and Cindy Akins, First State Bank, Steve Sparkman, Athens Steel Building Corp., Lance and Kathryn Etcheverry, Carol and Pat Wallace, Dan and Kathleen Chaney, Stephen and Karen Jones, Ellen Key, Lake Athens Property Owners Association, Athens Marina LTD and other public-spirited individuals and organizations.
The event has become an area tradition, with many people dressing in red, white and blue in keeping with the holiday theme. Parking is available in the main TFFC parking lot and in an overflow parking area on Peninsula Point Road. Persons using the overflow parking area may enter through Gate C, which is across the street from the parking area.

For more information or directions call (903) 676-2277.

Jun

20

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 20, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

A DPS trooper pulled over a teen near Browsnboro Tuesday and found 200 pounds of valuable cargo in his vehicle that was allegedly stolen.
According to Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Patrol Sergeant Charles Severn was notified that the DPS trooper needed assistance on FM 314 after a juvenile female fled a traffic stop.

When Severn arrived on scene he was notifed that there was more than 200 pounds of spooled copper wire in the vehicle. Severn began questioning the driver, Frank Bauer Jr, 18, a white male. Bauer told Severn that he picked up the wire on the side of the road on FM 607.
After making some calls Severn determined that the copper wire was stolen from a Gulf Shores Communication vehicle. The wire missing from the vehicle was described as “100 feet and 400 pair copper cable with black plastic sheathing and weighing about 200-300 pounds.” The wire matched the description and Severn arrest Bauer on a State Jail Felony for Theft of Copper, less than $20,000 dollars.
Bauer was transported to the Henderson County Jail where he remains on a $10,000 bond.

The juvenile female that fled was identified by police and is without charge. The copper wire has since been returned to Gulf Shores Communications.

Jun

20

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 20, 2013

June 17 Athens fire

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

ATHENS-Athens firefighters responded quickly to a house fire at 911 Cayuga Drive Monday afternoon. A passerby called in the fire after seeing thick, black smoke billowing from the home just after 4 p.m.

Athens Fire Chief John McQuery says flames were coming from the back of the structure and his men had to break down the locked front door. It took about 20 minutes to put out the blaze and clear the smoke.

Nine firefighters were involved, in full gear, using both the ladder truck and the pumper truck to extinguish the blaze.
McQuery reports the fire started in the back of the home, near the bedroom. The home sustained major smoke and water damage and the roof is completely destroyed.

The owner was away at the time and didn’t learn about it until the following day.
Athens Fire Marshall Ronnie Denton is conducting the official fire investigation. The home is not insured, the Athens Fire Department provided Red Cross contact information to the homeowner to help with any emergency needs.

Jun

18

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : June 18, 2013

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

CROSS ROADS–Leland Hand worked most of his career building the credentials to become a school district superintendent. His hard work has paid off and now just a couple weeks are between his official hiring by the Cross Roads School Board and the realization of his goal.

After graduating from East Texas Baptist University with a degree in history, his first job was teaching high school in Daingerfield (Morris County, north Texas). Soon afterward, Hand was hired as the men’s basketball coach at ET Baptist, but returned to public schools to become a high school teacher and basketball coach in Smith County.

Two more important decisions came when he accepted the job of principal at Campbell Elementary, and than as a junior high principal, near Abilene. Taking on the duties of superintendent requires a broad background and Hand wore all the hats necessary to be considered for the important position of leading the helm of an Independent School District.

What sealed the deal for Hand’s selection by the board of trustees from a field of 10 applicants was his major accomplishments at Winona High School (north of Tyler). He served as principal there the past seven years, in which the school enjoyed huge strides in both academics and athletics. It earned the Texas Education Agency designation of an “Exemplary” Campus for its 300 students.

Having surpassed all required credentials to lead Cross Roads ISD nothing on Hand’s resume can describe the enthusiasm in his voice about his new role. “It’s just so exciting, there have been opportunities to go to larger school districts, but I really value what can be done in a smaller district, building personal relationships, knowing students, teachers and parents,” he said.

Hand is already working with retiring Superintendent Clay Tompkins, so the transition should be smooth. Hand said he’s fortunate to have Tompkins as a resource, and he’s already meeting people, touring the school facilities and getting ready to take the reigns when Tompkins leaves in August.

Cross Roads ISD has about 600 students, 50 faculty members, three principals and a budget of five million dollars.

A former coach, Hand said he will support the athletics department, while helping teachers in any way he can. “I’ll look at what’s already in place and listen to the faculty to find successful approaches to academic growth and development of new and existing programs,” Hand said.

His wife, Natalie, is a school counselor in Smith County and recently received her doctorate degree in psychology. The couple has three children. A daughter Lynlee, who just got a job as a teacher in Houston and two boys, Brice, 15, and Brayden, 10.
As for making the move to the area, Hand says he loves small towns and communities and the family is looking at all their options.
Tompkins says he and the Board believe this is a great fit and says Cross Roads is very lucky to have Hand coming to the district.

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.

Jun

17

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

By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent

ATHENS-The Athens City Council accepted a bid from Lone Star Equipment to begin repairs and top sealing various roads in Athens. Council members accepted the recommendation of Director of Utilities Glen Herriage, based on experience of previous projects and a competitive bid of $176,886, submitted by the contractor.

Many roads are in serious need of repair, Herriage said. Roads scheduled for repairs, preventative maintenance and seal coating are: Bunny Rabbit, Crestway Street., Lover Lane, St.Thomas, Prairieville, Ben Belt, Laird, W.Clinton, Ford, N.Pinkerton, Murchison, N.Wofford and Baker.

No start date was announced for the top seal 2013 project.

The council also approved $53,000 for water line improvements and expansions on a section of Gibson Road and Robbins Road.
Finally, the council adopted by resolution a Rate Review Mechanism agreement with Atmos Energy. This describes the process for cities to negotiate rate increases with the natural gas utility.

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.

May

13

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

MALAKOFF–Texas public schools using the STAAR-readiness tool CSCOPE have recently come under fire from conservative groups for teaching an anti-Christian, anti-American and pro-Islamic curriculum with a “hidden agenda.”

Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry updated Malakoff Rotarians about the situation during their weekly meeting May 7 and said the claims were “misguided” and “not based on fact.”
CSCOPE is a teaching tool used by, according to Perry, 870 of the 1,100 public schools in Texas. Its purpose is to get public school students from kindergarten to high school ready for college using the tougher standards from the Texas STAAR tests.

“It worries me that people think that 870 Texas schools that have the best interest of their kids at heart promote Islam and Communism,” Perry said.

Perry illustrated a confrontation he had with a member of the Red-Hot Conservatives, a group that opposes CSCOPE, last January.

“I’m also a Baptist minister. Lets just say it was the first time I had ever been accused of promoting Islam,” he said.

According to Perry, opponents of CSCOPE, including a Cedar Creek Lake based group operating from the email stopcscope@centurylink.net, pull their arguments from two CSCOPE lesson plans. One, which is no longer in the curriculum, was titled Heroism verses Terrorism.

“The lesson encouraged students to think critically about the Boston Tea Party and how the action was perceived differently by the colonies and the British Crown,” Perry said.

According to Perry, this led opponents to conclude the curriculum pushed anti-American values.
The other point of interest that CSCOPE opponents draw from is the teaching of Islam and World Religions.
Before explaining the criticisms, Perry reminded Rotarians that a basic class on World Religions must be taught in public schools.

“I asked my Social Studies teachers what they thought of the World Religion section of CSCOPE and they concluded that it probably does spend more time on Islam than Christianity,” Perry said. “Last time I checked we were a Christian nation, so my teachers have the liberty to decide how much time they think is needed to teach Christianity as well as the other World Religions.”

Perry said that teachers have the same liberty in any subject, not just in World Religions.
“At Malakoff ISD, we treat our teachers as professionals and use CSCOPE as a tool to assist in meeting testing criteria. They can follow the lesson plans as closely or loosely as they wish.”

Mar

21

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 21, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

MALAKOFF–Students at Malakoff Middle School found out that a little hard work and good presentation can be well rewarded.

Students submitted a video about what makes Malakoff Middle School exceptional to the “Texas Public Schools Rock!” video contest. By early March, the video was floating around the Internet and social media sites, racking up the views.

On March 19, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) announced that Malakoff Middle School won first place and a $5,000 reward to be given to the district to be used in the students’ classrooms and campus.
Only one first place prize was given for all Texas Middle Schools. The context was open to all Texas elementary and secondary public school students.

Malakoff Middle School Principal Quintin Watkins is extremely proud of the students.

“They did such an amazing job,” Watkins said. “Malakoff Middle School has the best students in the state of Texas. They play, learn and grow together so well. Teachers and parents make sure they get the best education they can every day.”

The school will be deciding what will be done with the prize money soon. According to Watkins the students that were a part of the video will meet with teacher Jerri Cheek (who organized the submission) and the campus improvement team to determine the best way to spend the money.

“Whatever we end up doing, we want to make sure to recognize all the students that participated in the video so that future students will know of their legacy,” Watkins said.

There were many videos from Texas public school that TASB sifted through to determine the winner.

“With so many excellent entries, the final choices were extremely difficult,” says said Viola Garcia, TASB president. “We are thrilled that students from all over the state showcased their creativity and enthusiasm for the great things going on in their districts. These winning entries help explain why local schools deserve the support of their communities and appropriate funding from the state. Our students’ voices underscore why all Texans should be proud of their public schools.”

Mar

14

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

By Erik Walsh
The Nerws Staff

ATHENS–The TVCC Lady Cardinals are returning to the Women’s NJCAA Division I National Championship in Salina, Kansas March 18-23.

TVCC (32-1) is the No. 1-ranked Division I junior college team in the country and enters the tournament as the defending champions.

The Lady Cardinals will be making the trip to the women’s basketball championships for the sixth consecutive season. They have been nearly unbeatable for almost two years running.

According to TVCC Sports Information, they have not lost on the floor since the 2011 title game against North Idaho, winning 67 of their last 68 matches. Their one loss this year came by forfeit to Weatherford.

This year’s trip to the national championships will be the 18th in school history.

The Lady Cardinals advanced to the championships after winning the regional tournament March 9 in Tyler. They continue to be a model of consistency, advancing to the regional tournament finals 20 times in the last 22 years.

TVCC defeated the No. 8-ranked Blinn Buccaneers 69-58 to secure their place in Kansas. Blinn was a top team all year, as supported by their ranking, but couldn’t get past the roadblock that was TVCC. Blinn lost to the Lady Cards three times in the 2012-2013 season, including 94-88 overtime loss in the last game of the regular season.

After the regional tournament was decided, freshman Lady Cardinal Shlonte’ Allen was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, as well as league Co-MVP with Blinn’s Ausrisa Harrison. Teammates Adut Bulgak, Shannon Smith and Krystle Henderson were also named All-Region and to the all-tournament team. TVCC sophomore Savannah Carter was named to the all-conference team.

TVCC has a bye for the first round of the tournament and will not play Monday. The Lady Cardinals take on the winner of No. 16 Weatherford (24-5) and No. 17 Northeast (28-4) at 2 p.m. March 19.