Feb

14

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb

08

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 8, 2013

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

County inmates will soon be serving the public by clearing fence rows at the Malakoff Historical Society and Museum.

Malakoff Historical Society Director Pat Issacson, is thrilled about getting the assistance.

“This is going to be so much help,” she said. “I am very excited.”

Issacson discussed the idea with The News just a few weeks ago while waiting for a “Friends of Malakoff” meeting at the Flag House to begin. Since then, Issacson made the calls and arrangements and put things into motion. Of course none of it would be possible without the help of county inmates and the approval of County Commissioners.

Issacson said no date has been assigned yet, and the workload is rather heavy, so it most likely will be taking several days to complete.

“There are a lot of fence rows to move,” she said “It’s hard to tell when it was last cleaned out. It’s been years. They are going to help move some big things in the house then do the work outside.”
The city of Malakoff also said it will assist in the effort.

“The city said if we get the fencing close to the road, they will haul it off for us,” Issacson said

After a day’s work is done, Issacson said there would be more opportunities to continue the clean up.
“If there is more that needs done (after the day is over), all I need to do is call them up and they will come out again,” she said.

Issacson expects it will take two or three days to complete all of the work.

Jan

31

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

By Pearl Cantrell and Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan

25

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff
Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities highlighted the Jan. 19-20 weekend around Malakoff and Athens and came to a close Monday night with a Candlelight vigil in Malakoff.

The annual event, hosted by the Henderson County Black History Committee, was held at New Hope Corinth CME Church and featured speaker Rev. Billy Wright.

During his speech, Wright reviewed the accomplishments of Dr. King.

“He was a great man and Baptist minister. Because of his efforts, today we have people of color in high public office all over the county.”

He also talked about Dr. King’s “I’ve been on the Mountaintop” speech, alluding to how, like Jesus, Dr. King had faith in the results of his work and persevered even though he suspected he may not live to benefit from it.
Dr. King said “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!

“We have overcome, just like Jesus did,” Wright said.

After the lighting of the candles and the singing of Christian hymns, Wright affectionately closed with the statement “I love you all, and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it!”

Jan

17

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

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

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

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

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

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

Jan

17

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office will soon have quick access to its own armored vehicle.
Tuesday, County Commissioners approved the purchase of a BearCat, the same kind of vehicle borrowed from the Tyler Police Department in 2010.

The BearCat served Athens well when it was used to confront survivalist Howard Todd Granger in a four-hour police standoff, in October, 2010.

Granger fired about 100 rounds from an AK-47 at the armored vehicle before getting taken down by a well-aimed sniper round. Not a single round fired at the SWAT team penetrated the vehicle, including the windows.

Sheriff Ray Nutt argued that in an emergency situation, the three hours or more it takes to do the paperwork and get the vehicle from Tyler could cost an officer’s life.

“We have a great working relationship with Tyler,” Nutt said, “but if there is an injured officer we need the vehicle quickly to extract him before its too late.”

Nutt added that BearCats are even protected underneath from grenade explosions. The BearCat will cost $132,000.

The 2010 incident was not without financial consequence to the county. Henderson County paid a hefty bill to repair damage the vehicle.

Nutt told Commissioners the County could have its own BearCat by July, if approved now.

BearCat is an acronym, standing for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin was vocal in his agreement.

“I think it’s a wise decision to invest in one of them,” he said.

Jan

03

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

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

The Malakoff Education Foundation marched through district schools to an exciting drum line and shouts of cheerleaders, ending 2012 by giving $17,730.13 in grants to district teachers for education projects.

Thirteen different grants were awarded on Dec. 21 in an event that began by filling a school bus full of people to go from school to school. On the trek were foundation board members, band members and cheerleaders. Stops were made at Malakoff Middle, Malakoff Elementary, Tool Elementary and back again to Malakoff High School.

See the Jan. 4 edition of the Malakoff News for more emotion-filled pictures from the event.

Jan

03

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

Scotty Thomas taking an oath to serve as a Henderson County Commissioner.

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

Scotty Thomas accepted his role as Pct. 1 County Commissioner Jan. 1, when he took a nervous, solemn oath at the Henderson County Annex New Years Day.

Thomas admits the big moment was more intimidating than expected, surrounded by friends, family and other elected officials.

“I’ve spoke many times, in front of bigger crowds, but one is different,” he said after taking the oath.

Joining Thomas by taking their own oaths of office were Pct. 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence, Fire Marshal Darrell Furrh, and Pct. 3 Constable David Grubbs.

Grubbs’ public oath nearly didn’t happen, as a communication error resulted in him arriving just as Judge Richard Sanders wrapped up the ceremony.

This however, didn’t stop Grubbs. After a few minutes he settled into the front of the room with Sanders and was sworn in properly.

Dec

27

Posted by : Staff Reports | On : December 27, 2012

This is the final 2012 edition of The Malakoff News, the traditional time we release the Top 5 Stories of The Year.
The stories are selected based on three factors: the number of people impacted, the amount of media coverage, and the amount of discussion generated in the community.

1. The Friends of Malakoff form

It is always nice when good news provides the top story of the year, and The Friends of Malakoff made sure that is the case in the city in 2012.
The eclectic group of downtown merchants and Malakoff supporters came together in the summer, looking to add a little pep to the area. Before long, they began to organize and took the name “Friends of Malakoff.”
The first event the group organized was Christmas in July, which included holiday-themed sales across town, drawings, an art show, and an author’s reading.
Next up, the Friends of Malakoff challenged residents and businesses to dress up the city with scarecrows. The response was overwhelming. Scarecrows popped up in front of multiple businesses, and when organizers started posting photos on Facebook, the challenge exploded and the scarecrows seemed to be everywhere.
Eventually, all the scarecrows even caught the attention of the Tyler Paper, which did a story.
After that, the Friends were highly involved with the city’s Christmas celebration and worked on turning a vacant lot downtown into a pocket park.
There were also snowmen who replaced the scarecrows, and other events the Friends helped promote.
All in all, it was an impressive start for a new organization. We can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for the Friends.

2. Malakoff Housing Authority troubles

Read more in the 12-28 issue of the Malakoff News

Dec

13

Posted by : Staff Reports | On : December 13, 2012

By Erik Walsh
The News Staff

Malakoff City Council members appointed Bill Burton to fill the vacant position of Municipal Court Judge in a meeting Dec. 10 at the city hall.

Mayor Delois Pagitt told The News that Burton would be contacted and informed of the council’s decision. The date he will assume his duties was unclear, as Burton must inform the city which two days of the week he is available to serve. The transition isn’t expected to take long.

“He will probably he starting before Jan. 1,” Pagitt said.

Burton, a longtime Athens resident, is no stranger to the political sphere. He won the 2012 Democratic nomination for Henderson County Sheriff, eventually losing out to the Republican incumbent Ray Nutt.

Brown served as a police officer, United States Army combat engineer, Justice of the Peace, Administrative Hearing Officer, Real Estate course teacher, arbitrator of property tax disputes and Binding Arbitration hearings.

He grew up in Athens and attended Athens ISD, graduating from the University of Texas in Tyler with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Kinesiology.

He has also also served as preacher.