Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 3, 2014

Monitor Photo/Russel Slaton Star Harbor Mayor Bobby Howell (left) Malakoff Police Department Lieutenant Floyd Thomas (next to him), Malakoff ISD trustee Ronny Snow (center right) and Justice of the Peace Tommy Barnett (right) confer with Henderson County Sheriff’s deputies following the tragic death of a teen struck by a train June 26.

Monitor Photo/Russel Slaton
Star Harbor Mayor Bobby Howell (left) Malakoff Police Department Lieutenant Floyd Thomas (next to him), Malakoff ISD trustee Ronny Snow (center right) and Justice of the Peace Tommy Barnett (right) confer with Henderson County Sheriff’s deputies following the tragic death of a teen struck by a train June 26.

By Malakoff Police Department
Special to The Monitor

MALAKOFF–On Thursday, June 26, at about 2:40 p.m., the Malakoff Police Department responded to the 200 block of S. Terry Street in reference to a train striking a pedestrian.
Upon arrival, it was discovered that 15-year-old Malakoff resident Harry Smith had been struck and killed by a westbound freight train. Investigators revealed that Smith, along with two friends had been walking southbound on Terry Street when they heard the train approaching the crossing. It has been reported that Smith told his two friends, “Come on, let’s see if we can beat the train across the tracks,” and then all three began running towards the crossing. Moments later, the two friends stopped running and yelled at Smith to “Stop, you’re not going to make it.” Smith continued to run and crossed the tracks in front of the moving train. Smith was struck just as he was about to clear the tracks.
The Malakoff Police Department and the entire City of Malakoff would like to extend our condolences and prayers to this family in their time of grief. We would also like to remind the public and our children how dangerous it is to be on or near railroad tracks, especially when a train is approaching.
Please, stay safe and be alert.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : June 29, 2014

Monitor Staff Reports
CANTON–The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of county resident Stephen Garrett Martin. He is charged with attempted Capital Murder of a Peace Officer and is being held in lieu of a $1,000,000 bond.
According to a press release, last Sunday, a deputy responded to a trespass complaint by the resident at 350 VZCR 2140. Shortly after arriving and before the deputy exited his car, he heard a loud noise coming from the residence and observed a dog lying on the front porch jump up and run away. A second loud noise followed and the deputy felt a violent vibration coming from the front of his car. Later it was determined that bullets had struck his car.
The deputy then saw Martin standing in the front doorway of his house holding a handgun. That’s when the deputy realized that Martin was shooting at him. The deputy put his car in reverse and attempted to flee the shooting, accelerating backward. In his rush, the deputy caused the patrol car to strike a metal gate, fence post and barbed wire fence at the entrance of the property.
Martin now stood on the porch with handgun in hand. The deputy opened the door of his car and at gunpoint and verbally ordered Martin to put down the weapon and raise his hands. Martin complied with the orders. Within a short time, a Van Police Officer arrived and they were able to take Martin into custody without further incident. Martin was told he was under arrest and a search revealed a second fully-loaded handgun was lodged in the waistband of his pants.
Upon being placed into custody, Martin informed the officers that there was a body inside his residence and also two men in camouflage hiding in the trees in his front yard, one on each side of the driveway. When additional officers arrived, a cursory sweep of the home and yard detected no body inside and no one in trees in the front yard. While in the residence, officers found the interior to be in disarray, appearing to have been shot up with firearms. After procuring an evidentiary search warrant, officers found a large cache of weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. One of the weapons seized appears to have been altered to function as a fully automatic weapon, so the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been called in to assist in the investigation, the press release stated.
“There are many individuals living within our communities who are suffering from emotional issues, mental health issues or anger issues, “Sheriff Michael Lindsey Ray stated. “Some of these individuals are very dangerous.” He added that this poses a very large problem for law enforcement agencies. Budgetary constraints on mental health facilities means many of these types of individuals end up in county jails all over the state.
Recently, the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Canton Police Department conducted a 60-hour training in basic SWAT procedures and a second training has been set for July.
“Unfortunately, our peace officers are encountering more and more of these types of dangerous situations so we are now training them in the use of special weapons and tactics for officer safety and there is a great demand for this training from area law enforcement agencies,” Ray said. “At the end of the day, my job is to make sure that the men and women who work for the county go home safely to their families at the end of their shifts. I take that responsibility very seriously.”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : June 26, 2014

Residents favor tax funding of two fire departments –
Survey shows support, 70 to 63; council votes with majority

By David Webb
Monitor Correspondent

TOOL–The Tool City Council approved continued city funding of the Tool Volunteer Fire Department at a June 19 meeting so two volunteer fire departments will go on serving Tool residents.
The council took the vote after hearing the results of a recent survey of Tool residents. City Secretary Makenzie Blaser said her office sent out 162 surveys. Of the 133 responses received back, 70 residents wanted to keep the city fire department, 63 wanted to dissolve it, six came back after the deadline, six could not be delivered and one had no opinion. Sixteen residents did not respond to the survey.
Tool Mayor Tamra Brickey reluctantly called for a motion after other council members objected to her suggestion to table the agenda item because Councilman Mike Barr called in sick to the meeting. “They all need to be here,” Brickey said. “If there is a tie vote I am not going to vote to break it.”
Brickey sat on the board of directors of Emergency Services District No. 4, the funding source for another fire department known as Tool Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. Critics of the mayor claim she came into office with the intention of dissolving the city-funded department, a claim the mayor has denied.
The city currently allocates $28,000 from the budget to fund the city’s volunteer fire department, and Emergency Services District No. 4 taxes residents to help fund the volunteer fire department it sponsors.
Councilman Nathan Reeder demanded the mayor call for a motion because a quorum existed, and none of the other council members sided with the mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Donny Daniel made the motion to keep funding the volunteer fire department and the four council members present voted to keep intact Ordinance 2009-01 establishing the City of Tool Volunteer Fire Department. The vote was applauded.
The city-funded fire department currently has only two volunteers because the others resigned in April, alleging interference by the mayor. Brickey said afterwards she opposed allowing the volunteers to return because “they left the citizens high and dry,” and she denied she had anything to do with the mass resignations.
Daniel said he made the motion to keep funding the city’s fire department because of concerns about public safety. “I just feel like we need a volunteer fire department,” he said.
Reeder said he insisted on the vote because he opposes the other fire department, funded by taxes collected by Emergency Service District No. 4. “My objection to it is that we have no control over it,” he said. “They can raise taxes to a certain level without our vote.”
Opponents claim keeping the city-funded volunteer fire department is unnecessary because of the existence of the ESD No. 4-funded station. The dispute has raged for years.
Brickey said the city would re-establish thecity’s firefighting force. “My understanding is that we are finding some more firefighters,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been told.”
Daniel said he favored finding a new volunteer fire chief and allowing him to recruit his volunteer force. Some of the firefighters who resigned indicated they would return if asked, according to their supporters.