By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Lone Star Republican Women sponsored a Republican candidates meet and greet with a moderated discussion following Jan. 30.
With more than a dozen office seekers in attendance, the event attracted more folks than seats available. The moderated discussion ran in three one hour rounds, starting with those running for 392nd District Judge and State District 4 Representative. Each candidate was given a brief time to introduce himself or herself and an equally brief limit to summarize why they feel they are the best choice for office. In between each presented an argument and had an opportunity for rebuttal. Moderators Rich Flowers of the Athens Daily Review and Chris Quinn of KCKL-radio posed the same question to each candidate.
Former officeholder Lance Gooden argued for his return as Dist.4 State Representative on the basis of his effectiveness in office, pointing to his record as printed in a handout sheet, which also listed current Rep. Stuart Spitzer’s record to get legislation passed. He stressed legislation he passed that benefited the county fair grounds and a simple piece of legislation that should have been passed this last session, which didn’t.
Spitzer highlighted his efficiency on bills he co-sponsored and supported, along with his conservative stance and voice for those who sent him to Austin, as opposed to special interest groups. Gooden responded with mentioning Spitzer backing by a group wanting the Speaker of the House ousted.
Judge candidate Maryann Warren said the most important characteristics in a district judge should be an attitude of service from a heart of humility, compassion and mutual respect. She suggested that the citizens of Henderson County would be better served by treatment of many drug offenders rather than the court system. Changed lives would also impact the number of children being admitted into the foster care system, which would also impact the bottom line. She also highlighted the need for greater efficiency in the 392nd court that wouldn’t leave highly-paid lawyers for the indigent waiting. An uncontested docket would shorten the court schedule, she said. She pointed out her 23 years as a lawyer handling civic and criminal cases in several counties, where things are done differently.
She also felt her strength lies in not having any connections to Henderson County government, with no ties to apply the law equally.
“I’m about improving this court system and improving all that stems from the drug and alcohol problem in the county, along with the churches. If we work to improve that, it would be a significant savings to the county,” she said.
DA Scott McKee stressed his budgeting experience to save taxpayer dollars, overseeing a $33M budget at the DA’s Office. His record together with Sheriff Ray Nutt have greatly reduced drug manufacturing and selling in the county. He pointed out his service on various boards and organizations, work with youth sports and the Go Blue campaign to bring greater awareness to child abuse. He also listed his commitment to the unborn, family life, Texas law, U.S. Constitution and service as a reservist in the military. “I’ve served in the courtroom to the battlefield,” he said.
Scott pointed out that in the county he feels no one is really in charge that it takes teamwork among the department heads working toward a common cause to serve the people of Henderson County.
Former County Attorney James Owen proposed a consolidation plan of the county attorney with the district attorney’s office to save the taxpayers at least $500,000 to $1,000,000. He pointed out that this plan is seeing success in 52 other counties, including nearby Kaufman County, Navarro, Anderson and Van Zandt counties. Owen said this consolidation would increase efficiency in the court system, lessen the number of court-appointed attorneys for the indigent and would make for a smoother operation.
When asked why he didn’t move on this plan when he was county attorney before, he answered that with a politically split court of commissioners and a county judge who was sick, the proposal was not feasible, but now it is and Republicans should do whatever it takes to save tax dollars.
Current officeholder Clint Davis opposes this plan and outlined what it would take to establish the joint office, whose combined budgets total $2.4 million, he said. All but $100,000 is allocated to employee salaries and benefits, he stated. He pointed out that his office not only handles 3,000 misdemeanor case a year, but also mental commitments, juvenile and truancy cases, processing and responding to open records requests, collection of fines, court costs and hot checks and advising officials on the drafting of contracts and agreements. He also pointed out the benefits of having two offices, including a separation of powers, and how each office serves the other when a conflict of interest arises, and the fact the county receives $70,000 a year from the State of Texas for the County Attorney’s Office.
The race for sheriff is between Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse, jail administrator and longtime HSCO investigator Billy Jack Valentine.
Hillhouse stressed his march up through the ranks, earning promotions under the last four sheriffs and the endorsement he has from retiring Sheriff Ray Nutt. “I’m the only candidate who knows the department from bottom to top,” he said. “I know county government. I work there every day.” He pointed to the $11 million budget he forged with the help of county commissioners. “That’s something I’m very proud of,” he said.
Valentine stressed what he would do to increase community involvement in order to make the department more effective and responsive. He would operate a transparent department, so citizens would know just how the Sheriff’s Office works and win their trust to partner with the department in getting the job done. “I propose community meetings with the deputy assigned to your area,” he said, ride-alongs and being available 24/7 “by phone to help you.”
“I want to take care of you, your children and save your tax dollars,” Valentine said, adding since he was 7 years old he has wanted to be the Sheriff of Henderson County. “I’ll be the best sheriff this county has ever had,” he said.
Both candidates demonstrated a lot of passion for the job.
Candidates for constable in precincts 2 and 5 answered questions about their responses to open carry gun law, and serving as bailiff in their courts and district court, when asked to. All agreed that they would not approach someone just because they were wearing a gun on their hip. “I assume everyone is armed in all cases,” Precinct 2 Constable Mitch Baker said.
Wick Gabbard, candidate for Precinct 5, said, “As long as they don’t point a gun at me, I’m glad they have one. Precinct 5 Constable Brad Miers said he wasn’t in favor of open carry, having seen a lady newly licensed, who he described as “scared and carrying a gun.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner candidates Ken Hayes and Keith Pryor faced off. Hayes said his 24 years in road construction and as a businessman makes him a well-rounded commissioner.
Pryor with a long career with the Texas Department of Transportation makes him the best choice. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner candidates Kevin Head, Charles “Chuck” McHam, Mark Tillison and Sammy Scott also sounded out their qualifications and willingness to serve.
Posted by : February 4, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : February 4, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–The Mabank Lady Panthers’ soccer team is looking to improve on last year’s very successful season, where they made it into the fourth round of the playoffs. First year head coach Sean Falloure says his team’s goal is a State Championship and nothing less.
Before coming to Mabank, Falloure was the head coach at South Garland High School for eight seasons. “Coach Thompson (Mabank’s football coach) called me up and asked me if I wanted to win a State Championship and I said yes. I came down here for the interview and met the kids and it really made me want to coach here.”
Falloure says his team spreads out their scoring well and controls the ball well. He is also happy with his team’s speed but thinks inexperience could affect them down the road.
“We want to make it to state,” Mabank senior Payton Costlow said. “We work as a team no matter what and we all complement each other with our strengths.”
Another surprise impact player for Mabank is freshman Juliet Pridgen who scored seven goals in the first 11 games of the season. “I always try to attack and get to the ball first,” Pridgen said. “We are united as a team and we all get along. Our mindset is to win and I think we can make a deep playoff run.”
“Our team work and unity set us apart from other schools,” senior Kaylee Creagh added. Through 11 games, the Lady Panthers are 7-3-1.
Mabank competes in a district with Athens, Gladewater and Chapel Hill. They went 14-10-1 last season and were knocked out in the third round of the state playoffs by Princeton 3-2.
Posted by : February 4, 2016| On :
Opal Irene Sapp Toney passed away peacefully, at the age of 90, on January 28, 2016.
A life-long resident of Prairieville and Mabank, she was known to “make her rounds” visiting local spots. In town at the post office, nursing home and The Dairy Queen she was seldom seen without a fashionable hat. She never met a stranger.
Opal was preceded in death by her parents, Clint Sapp and Elsie Mae (Wininger) Sapp, her husband of 43 years, Julius Toney, siblings Fannie Tankersly and her husband, Leonard; J.C. Sapp and his wife, Eddie; Louise Myrick and her husband, Claude; Billie Thompson and her husband, Willard; Peggy Gunderson and her husband, C.J.; son-in-law Don Brown and many other dear family members.
As an award-winning folk artist, her handmade creations can still be found in homes and businesses throughout the county and state. As a talented writer, her newspaper article “As I Was Saying” was read for many years in The Monitor.
She is survived by her brother, Bobby Sapp, and his wife, Mary; children Suzette Brown, Beverly Brown, Dwight Toney, Charlotte Featherston and her husband, Ronnie; Judith Toney, Dwayne Toney, Lezlee Cheek and her husband, William; 15 favorite grandchildren, Toney Brown, Todd Brown, Trace Brown, Tobin Brown, Lisa Parry, Shawn Toney, April Toney, DeeDee Lennon, Greg Featherston, Jennifer Brown, Josh Cheek, Jeremy Cheek, Jared Cheek; Jodie Ellis, Jacob Cheek, 27 favorite great-grandchildren and eight favorite great-great-grandchildren.
Whether she was known to you as Opal, Miss Opal, Mrs. Toney, Aunt Opal or the sweet lady who wears hats, Opal was a jewel to be known.
She loved to take walks and watch birds flitter and play. She enjoyed sitting by a window as she read and journaled. She was a prayer warrior. She loved her friends and family and told them so, often, and out loud.
More than anything, she loved her savior, Jesus Christ, most of all. More than anything, she wanted all to know Him.
Sleeping soundly, covered in a handmade quilt, surrounded by family and friends who sang praises and hymns together over her, Opal peacefully met her Lord.
All is well with her soul, as she now “makes her rounds” with Him.