Posted by : April 10, 2016
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April proclaimed Sexual Assault-Domestic Violence Awareness
and Child Abuse Protection Month
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHEN–Henderson County Comissioners agreed on the importance of proclaiming April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month and took that opportunity to thank the volunteers and paid staff at the HELP Center, East Texas Crisis Center, Child Advocacy Center, Family Peace Project, Child Protective Services and first responders for the role they play on the frontlines of these devastating offenses.
HELP Center Director Leslie Saunders reported that 430 children were served for abuse and neglect last year. She added that Henderson County, though no longer among the Top 10 of Texas counties per capita with the most victims, is now in the Top 20, she said.
“It is one of the sad realities we have to deal with, and we can’t thank you enough,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved a resolution to move the Game Warden Memorial from the Texas Fresh Water Fisheries Center in Athens to the State Capital in Austin. The request came from the Game Wardens Association representative Kenneth Head. A replacement is planned for the center, Head said.
• authorized a private auction of resale properties located in Mabank and Kemp ISDs acquired by the County due to delinquent tax. The school districts have had success at selling off these properties in their local area, McKinney said.
• accepted payments from Holloman Corp for road damage to country roads in Precinct 1 in the amount of $54,000 and in Precinct 2 in the amount of $60,000. The firm was laying gas pipe for Atmos Energy during very wet conditions which contributed to the damage, commissioners noted.
• approved a contract with the Malakoff Volunteer Fire Department to be a secondary resource for emergency services within the county without monetary numeration. The contract allows the department to rebuild its membership and prove its reliability going future, as it gains more members.
• noted the hanging and framing of the current map of Emergency Service Districts in the County, furnished by the Tax Appraisal District.
• set April 26 at 9:15 a.m. for a public hearing to extend a 35 mph speed zone for a total of three miles affecting county roads 4613 and 4614 to the intersection with State Highway 19, in Precinct 4.
• approved two right-of-way permits to East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District to tap pressure sewer mains on Signet Drive and in Three Harbors Subdivision to serve new homes.
• approved 16 contracts with volunteer fire departments to provide firefighting in the unincorporated areas of the county, totaling $166,691.20.
• paid bills totaling $156 for FY 2015, the last amount in a capital murder case, $91,269.84 in FY 2016 and $166,691.20 for the volunteer fire department contracts.
Posted by : April 6, 2016
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Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Members of Victims Relief receive the East Texas Crisis Center’s Volunteer of the Year Award during the proclamation of Sexual Assault Awareness month on the courthouse steps in Athens Tuesday.
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Annually for nine years, clotheslines bearing colorful T-shirts have hung on the courthouse lawn documenting the survivors of domestic violence and child abuse like so much dirty laundry in plain view.
April is the month set aside to shine light on this dark area of the county that affected 430 children in Henderson County last year.
“It’s one of the most important things the Commissioners’ Court does,” Judge Richard Sanders said in a ragged voice.
Those on the frontlines of this battle, include the HELP Center, Child Advocacy Center, Family Peace Project, East Texas Crisis Center along with healthcare providers, teachers, pastors, churches and first responders.
Guest speaker Christian Life Center Pastor Barry Boatright, a foster parent of three youngsters, challenged everyone to be the solution and to increase their influence to defeat its horrible affects on the lives of children, women and families.
“Be role models and mentors. Consider helping parents raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment,” he said. “The solution to child abuse is standing here today, it’s all of us in this community. It will take every last one of us.”
The noon time observance and reading of the proclamation ended with a moment of silence to remember the victims, survivors and the dead, and in rededication to the mission of stopping Child Abuse and Domestic Violence.
Posted by : March 30, 2016
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Police body camera policy set
By Doug Gibbs
TOOL–The Tool City Council agreed to study the city’s financial position in relationship to a possible tax freeze. The agenda item was tabled from action when the council met March 17.
Councilmen Randy Whitehurst and Phil Ringley concurred that more research needed to be done on the subject before action could be taken. Councilwoman Kathryn Pinnell interjected that those things had already been done and people were in favor of a tax freeze, noting many citizens were on a fixed income.
Ringley pointed out the difference between the public appearing before the council saying they were in favor of a freeze, and a workshop where council members could analyze and study the impact a freeze would have on the city’s finances. “I don’t think we know what we’re doing,” he said. Mayor Donny Daniel entered the discussion suggesting councilmembers look at how a tax freeze has worked in other cities. He also pointed out that as property values change, taxes will stay the same if values go up and taxes will go down if values go down. Councilmembers voted to table the ordinance and hold a workshop on the subject.
During the same meeting, council members agreed to a slight cost adjustment on trash removal after hearing a presentation from Laura Capehart, Municipal Services Manager for Republic Services. She requested a 1.1 percent increase in keeping with the rise in the Cost Price Index. The 16-cent increase begins on residential service beginning in June, changing the monthly rate from $14.49 to $14.65 a month.
The council also approved a proposal from American Municipal Services (AMS) to provide fee collection services for the city. AMS will collect fines, fees and court costs for the city at the expense of those owing the city money. Daniel told council members that there is approximately $300,000 in uncollected fines, fees and court costs. Ringley noted the agreement included an indemnification agreement that holds the city harmless in the event a lawsuit is filed due to the actions of AMS while making the collections.
Council members also took action to adopt Ordinance #2016-01 Codifying the City of Tool Ordinances, approved Ordinance #2016-02 requiring clearly marked addresses and adopted Ordinance #2016-03 regarding animal control.
City Secretary Makenzie Lyons presented a request for the purchase of two computers for the Municipal Court totaling $600 to be paid from the court’s Technology Fund.
In other action, council members:
• approved a body camera policy for the Tool Police Department. The policy required officers to activate the camera during contact with the public, such as traffic and pedestrian stops and requests for police assistance. Also it is required when contact becomes adversarial. The camera may not be deactivated once activated. Officers will have to document any diversion away from this policy. Daniel said body cameras have “proven to be very effective.”
• adopted an animal control ordinance to address rabies vaccination, limits residences to four total pets, which if running loose off property is subject to impounding, the disposition of impounded animals, defines dangerous and vicious animals, animal registration, rabid animals, wild or exotic animals and swine and livestock. Failure to comply could result in a fine, not to exceed $2,000.
• adopted Resolution #2015-04R, A1 establishing signing authority.
• adopted Resolution #2014-05R, A1 establishing procedures for the May 7 General Election. Three council seats are available, those signed up as candidates are incumbents Kathryn Pinnell, Randy Whitehurst and Mike Barr, facing challengers Michael Fladmark, Johnny “Kyle” Roberts, Rick Williams, Barbara Whitfill.
• appointed Lisa McDonald as Presiding Election Judge and Fran Sonka as Alternate Election Judge.
• appointed Madelaine Walker as a “Student Election Clerk” for the May 7 2016 General Election.
• noted the city trash-off will be held Saturday, April 2 at the maintenance barn beginning at 8 a.m. Items that will not be accepted include: tires, brush, carpet and any hazardous items, such as appliances containing Freon, paint and roofing material.