Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 11, 2016

Nutt, Ray mug copy

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners accepted the resignation of Sheriff Ray Nutt Tuesday. His last day will by May 31. In his resignation letter, Nutt states that the goals he came into office with Jan. 1, 2009 have been met.
“I would like to thank the Court for their support during my time as Sheriff. I also appreciate the support of the citizens from all across the County. Although my term runs through Dec. 31, 1 feel it is in the best interest of the Sheriffs Office and the County, for me to step aside,” he wrote.
Commissioners agreed to name Sheriff-elect Botie Hillhouse to begin serving in Nutt’s place beginning on June 1, as Nutt recommended. “The new sheriff-elect is ready to continue our goals and to implement his own,” Nutt stated.
“After more than 47 years in law enforcement, I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with my wife. Lee and my children and grandchildren.”



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : April 10, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–Kaufman County Commissioners resolved to start the process to implement a Veterans Court in Kaufman County. There are currently about a dozen such courts in Texas. Collin County 292nd District Court Judge John Roach implemented the first such court in North Texas, which now is organized in a region to include Rockwall County and now Kaufman.
The purpose of the diversionary program is to insure that veterans who have been injured in combat and have been charged with a criminal offense due to such injury can receive treatment and or rehabilitation and be successfully reintegrated into society.
At any given time about 50 to 75 inmates in Kaufman County are veterans, commissioners learned.
To qualify for the program, it must be determined that the individual’s crimes are materially connected to combat injuries suffered as a result of honorable service in the United States Armed Forces.
The projected costs of the program is estimated at between $400 and $750 per individual, with Veterans Affairs and other agencies involved in the program’s ongoing support.
The program lasts from six months to two years, depending on treatment needs and rate of progress.
Commissioners also heard a lengthy report on the progress of some 20 road projects, seeking grant funding, and in various phases of development. This video-taped report, presented by John Polster of Innovative Transportation Solutions, may be viewed in full on line from the Kaufman County Clerk’s website, under Commissioners Court, March 28 meeting.
He said the State Highway 34 bypass is scheduled for completion in May. The $14 million project creates a four-lane road to divert throughway vehicles, such as semi-tractor trailers, away from downtown Kaufman. The construction is around 86 percent complete, Polster said.
The intersection improvement plan for U.S. 80 is expected to cost $6.6 million. The project will upgrade and expand existing two-lane, undivided road to a four-lane, divided intersection at FM 148 in Terrell.
Polster also discussed plans for other intersection improvements and advanced planning for FM 548, phase one of FM548 North, the FM 148 bypass and the county thoroughfare plan.
County Auditor Karen Cooper passed out a written report to Commissioners and gave a terse two-minute statement, which included telling commissioners that they are “out of compliance” by asking her to certify reports from the treasurer and tax assessor/collector after they have already accepted or approved the reports.
“Sometimes the laws have not been followed,” she said.
“The auditor has authority and responsibility to make sure things are coded correctly and that this county is safe-boarded their assets,” Cooper, whose been with the county for two years, said.
“The county auditor audits all financial statements, including the county treasurer’s report before you accept it, so you’re out of compliance by having me certify that it’s correct (after the fact). Your county tax assessor, her report, is not in agreement with my general ledger. I’m financially transparent, she wanted to be compliant, so she put those adjustments in there. That’s all I’m going to say. You need to read this,” she said and then sat down.
The paperwork she distributed quoted the statute regarding the auditor’s office.
“I’m not sure what we’re suppose to do,” Wood said, noting that the discussion is not an action item.
Treasurer Ronnie Oldfield said he’d like some kind of approval so every time he submits with his report can be signed off on. “It’s up to you’ll to oversee the process. I just sign the checks,” he said.
A short discussion on approvals which best achieve the Court’s documentation goals was held.
In other business, the directors:
• heard the Sheriff’s Office report on the Harris Radio System installation. Microwave and fiber optic systems are installed and operational. Interlocal operability testing is set over the next two weeks with an implementation date of April 18 the goal.
• after re-entering open session, granted three of four requests for tax abatements for the City of Terrell, one involving the construction of a Walmart refrigeration warehouse.
• issued an order prohibiting the possession of firearms in the Kaufman County Courthouse and Office Buildings.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : March 16, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–After a recount of votes in the Henderson County Sheriff’s race over the weekend, the final tally separates the two Republican candidates by just 61 votes. Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse won over Investigator Billy Jack Valentine by the slimmest of percentages.
The tally for Hillhouse came to 6,862 votes to Valentine’s 6,801, after a recount that started on Saturday. On Monday, final tallies were posted at the Henderson County site. With less than 1 percent difference between the tallies, Valentine requested a recount with Republican Chairwoman Betty Holland last Friday and put down a deposit to pay for it.
Sheriff Ray Nutt had announced Thursday, that he had put the two candidates on administrative leave while the issue was being resolved to spare the department “political pressure.” Both men were back at work on Monday.
There is no Democratic candidate to face in November. The new sheriff will be sworn in and installed in office on Jan. 1, 2017.
“It turned out just the way I thought it would. I had all the faith in the world in the election system,” Hillhouse told The Monitor. “I’m humble and grateful to everyone who supported me and I’m looking forward to my next steps.”