May

05

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 5, 2017

Belinda Brownlow is sworn in as justice of the Peace, Pct. 5

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Commissioners took a lengthy executive session Tuesday, interviewing 14 applicants to fill the vacancy left by the death of longtime justice Tommy Barnett, who died April 1. Barnett’s term had begun in 2006. Commissioners agreed to apppoint Star Harbor resident Belinda Brownlow to the Malakoff-based JP seat in Precinct 5 . She has also served as president of the Rotary Club in Malakoff and on the Malakoff ISD school board. Her term runs through Dec. 31, 2018.
The night skies in Henderson Country are going to be brighter this Memorial Day after commissioners agreed to allow the sale of fireworks in Henderson County for the Veteran holiday.
The approval is noteworthy because last May the court denied vendors the lawful right to sell fireworks in the county, citing that the holiday is one of sober reflection, not explosive celebration.
Commissioners sang a different tune Tuesday, approving the resolution 4-1 with only Judge Richard Sanders opposing. There was some discussion prior to the vote, with a representative from the firework sales community appealing to the commissioners.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin weighed the negatives to fireworks, stating that some people are irresponsible with their use and uncourteous with the times they fire them.
Texas Counties decide their own fate concerning fireworks sales for three Texas Holidays: Feb. 25-March 2 (Texas Independence Day); April 16-April 21 (San Jacinto Day) and May 25-30 (Memorial Day).
Commissioners also approved the transfer of a flying drone to the possession of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office. Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse addressed the court concerning the acquisition of the new drone.
“We will only use the drone for search situations with warrants signed by a judge,” Hillhouse said.
Hillhouse said the drone could provide valuable intelligence of protentional hostile environments and keep his deputies out of harm’s way. The Sheriff’s Office will not need to purchase any additional parts and will receive proper training to operate the drone.
Commissioners also accepted donations of children’s blankets to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office from the Linus Project. The blankets will go in deputies’ cars to be given to children in stressful situations for comfort.
Commissioners also made two proclamations, calling May Elder Abuse Prevention Month and Older American Month.
“We need to highlight these issues when they come before us,” Sanders said. “I think it’s despicable to take advantage of elderly and disabled people.”
Geeslin agreed. “Child abuse is rightfully getting lots of attention and this problem is not unlike it,” he said. “The victims cannot speak up. I proudly support this proclamation.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said he draws strength from the older generation. “There is a lot of wisdom that gets overlooked,” McKinney said. “They really are one of our greatest assets.”
Commissioners took the time to thank first responders and emergency service workers for their toil over the weekend and weeks to come after the tornadoes in Henderson County and reminded the court not to forget their neighbors to the north that lost much in the disaster.
In other action, commissioners:
• appointed Precinct 1 Commissioner Ken Hayes to fill Geeslin’s seat on the IT Committee. Geeslin served on the committee for more than six years,
• approved paying bills totaling $157,591.63 and
• extended the bidding window for pest control services for another three weeks. The court dropped the former contractor for “lack of service and overcharging.” Extended the bidding window for pest control services for another three weeks. The court dropped the former contractor for “lack of service and overcharging.”

May

03

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 3, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
EUSTACE–A Eustace family of four survived their house collapsing on them after getting completely lifted off the ground by the tornado Saturday.
Teresa Melton, of Eustace, had just gotten home from Canton first Monday when the storm began picking up intensity. According to Melton, family members nephew Chad Hill, mother Carolyn York and husband Bobby, took shelter inside the laundry room of their Farm-to-Market 2709 home as the EF-3 tornado paved its way through the residence.
Tornado power and intensity is measured on the Enhanced Fujita Scale from 0 to 5, with EF-5 as the highest intensity. The winds from the EF-3 tornado that ripped through the Melton’s house blew from 136-165 mph.
Melton said it only took 10 seconds for the tornado to completely pass over them. It wasn’t particularly loud either, as the only sound was the rain beating down on the house. As it rushed over them, her ears popped, like flying in an airplane. Then Melton could feel that the house was in the air off the slab. The next thing she knew she was back on the ground with the house collapsed on her and the family. She called out to make sure everyone was alive. Everyone answered.
The disaster was over in mere seconds, but Melton and her family had to wait about 10 minutes before emergency response was on the scene to help get them out of the rubble. York’s house, which was located next door just a few feet away, was also demolished.
The Meltons are staying in a hotel as they clean up. The house was insured and they plan on rebuilding. Melton counted her blessings after surviving such a scary ordeal.
“I’m so thankful that we made it out alive and relatively unhurt,” she said. “We just have some cuts and bruises. We can build these houses again, so everything that is important is still intact.”
Even the family dogs were unhurt and accounted for, but their Australian Shephard, Dominic, gave them a scare.
“After it passed we couldn’t find Dominic, but we came back to the house about 3 a.m., (10 hours after the storm) and heard him whining. We got debris off him and he was ok.”
The family had lots of help Sunday morning with about 40 local volunteers and community members, including the Eustace High School track and cross country team members who came to assist sorting out the remains. York’s wedding ring was found among the rubble, as was Melton’s son’s cap and gown. Matthew, a runner on the track team, is set to graduate from Eustace High School in a few weeks.

May

03

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 3, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
CANTON–According to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth Tuesday, a total of seven tornadoes formed Saturday, April 29. Four of them were rated EF-0 (65-85 mph) appearing with brief tracks near Grand Saline at 4:15 p.m., near Canton at 5:10 p.m., near Cumby from 5:30-5:50 p.m. and southwest of Canton leaving a brief track around 7:13 p.m. The EF- 4 (166-200 mph) that left a long track from Eustace moving into Van Zandt County west of Canton left a mile-wide swath of damage between 5:29 and 6:09 p.m.
An EF-2 tornado tracked east of the EF-4 from Eustace into Van Zandt County west of Canton between 5:41 and 6:04 p.m.
However, an EF-3 (136-165 mph) tornado stayed on the ground for 51 miles tracking from Van Zandt County through Canton and into Rains County and lasted from 6:08 p.m. to 7:28 p.m., the result of which were four deaths including Navarro County Justice of the Peace Russell “Rusty Barlow, 51, who was working on a car when the tornado hit causing the car to fall on him killing him. The other victims were identified Monday as Kenneth Hughes, 57, of Van Zandt County who was at home with his wife on VZCR 2434 when the tornado hit, his wife was injured, Lucretia Sykes, 49, of Fort Worth and James Clayton Young, 39, of Alba who was traveling on State Highway 64 just outside of Canton when the tornado hit, dragging his car off 200 yards.
Three hospitals in Tyler, Athens and Cedar Creek Lake treated 56 people with six remaining hospitalized Tuesday and one in critical condition.
At least one of these tornadoes, probably the EF-3, caused a pile up of around 30 cars on the I-20 near Canton, perhaps the same one that left a mile-wide swath of destruction on Old Bethel Road, VZCR 230, north of Phalba. The historic Bethel Cemetery suffered its gate and fencing twisted, and it was reported a wedding was also being conducted at a residence in the path of the tornado.
Utility poles were struck as were transformers, turning the lights off in about 14,000 homes. Oncor contractors and other companies were seen throughout the weekend repairing downed power lines and poles. Linemen worked tirelessly and most of Canton had electricity by 8 a.m. May 1. However, homes in the Phalba area and on Old Bethel Road were still using portable generators to get power on Tuesday.
The intersection at State Highways 243 and 19 was deserted, an intersection that once saw thousands of motorists a day, especially during First Monday. Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett was televised Sunday asking visitors to refrain from coming to Trade Days, as the city fights to recover from the devastation.
On Monday and Tuesday, tree trimming crews were out in force and the buzz of chain saws could be heard throughout the affected areas.
On Monday, the Office of the Governor released a statement that Gov. Abbott had declared a State of Disaster in three Texas Counties: Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains. “The recent severe weather across our state has had a devastating impact on the people of East Texas,” Abbott said. “Texans by their very nature are resilient, and I am confident we will remain steadfast in our response to this disaster. I ask that everyone keep those impacted in your prayers as we come together to rebuild in the aftermath of these storms.
Unhappily the weather forecast for Wednesday was more severe weather and potential tornados, damaging winds, and large hail for much of East Texas around 4-5 p.m.