Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 19, 2017

By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–The Kemp City Council learned of white-collar crime in their neighborhood during the regular meeting May 9.
Interim Police Chief James Cook updated the council that a local Valero gas station was targeted by a “skimming” scam, which allows thieves to steal credit and debit card information from customers.
According to Cook, the thieves’ technology is getting more sophisticated and difficult to identify. The thieves pose as gas pump repair men, Cook explained. They open up the pumps and rig it with a device no larger than a USB port that steals credit and debit card numbers, along with their corresponding PIN codes. The thieves don’t even need to be nearby; and can access all the information remotely.
Kemp resident Shane Hyde corroberated the chief’s report saying he was one whose credit card information had been compromised.
Hyde said he got a call from Life Lock (a banking security company) saying his account had suspicious activity April 21. Multiple money orders for $1,000 were created from his account information at a supermarket in Houston, he said.
He also got charged for $300 in gas from multiple Houston stations. Hyde has since been refunded and has pressed charges in the Houston area.
An independent auditor visited the council and delivered a report to council members. The city had $1,167,914 in total revenue in 2016 and 894,919 in expenses. The city of Kemp’s revenues exceeded its expenditures by $361,704.
Council members also canvassed the results of the May 6 special election, “determining whether a sale and use tax at the rate of one-fourth of one percent for the maintenance and repair of municipal streets should be authorized.” The results were:
Early voting: For, 34; Against, 6.
Election Day: For, 18; Against, 6.
The proposal gained overwhelming approval from voters: 52-12.
In other business, council members:
• approved a zoning variance at 109 North main street for residential and commercial use
• opened a specific city bank account for the water surcharge deposits for transparency’s sake.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 10, 2017

Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Voters wanted a change in Eustace and Athens from the looks of Saturday’s final polling results. New mayors lead both cities.
In Eustace, Mayor Elisha Sanders lost her seat to Dustin Shelton, 94 to 52. There are 12 provisional votes still to be determined by the Henderson County Elections Office. The ballot board is set to convene May 15. Since Tim Howard opted not to run for re-election to the council, the top two vote getters incumbent Daniel Smith with 112 votes and new face Tim Meyer with 90 votes look to fill the council seats. Both Tim Meyer and Dustin Shelton also serve as volunteers on the Eustace Volunteer Fire Department. Meyer is one of the planners of the May 13 barbecue cookoff, raising funds for the fire station.
In Athens, former councilman Monte Montgomery garnered more votes than incumbent Jerry Don Vaught, who lost his seat 490 to 736. Montgomery’s council seat had two contenders. Toni Clay won the seat over Chetan Patel, 632 to 529 ballots.
In Gun Barrel City, voters returned incumbent Linda Rankin to the city council over challenger Craig Bastas, 149 to 81. Rob Rea and David Skains were unchallenged in the election.
Voters in Kemp ISD returned Rusty Clamon to office as school trustee with 108 votes. There were three challengers splitting the opposing votes, which totaled 189; with Casey Herring leading with 91 votes. Board President Charissa Roberts ran unopposed.
The City of Kemp will continue its program of setting aside a portion of its sales tax collection for road repairs, Fifty-two voters approved the continuation of the practice, while 12 voters opposed.
Athens ISD had three contenders for incumbent Steve McElhaney’s seat, who chose not to run for re-election. Of the three Eugene Buford was the top vote getter for Place 1 with 708 votes. Thomas Faulk garnered 423 votes and Bryan Barker got 288 votes. Alicea Elliott was unopposed for her Place 2 seat.
Scurry-Rosser ISD incumbents Chris G. Taliafero garnered 127 votes and Joanna Horton got 110 votes, enough to reseat both. Challenger Nick Vann collected 72 ballots.
City of Star Harbor City Council canvassed the results of the election Monday. Voters agreed to join ESD No. 1 and council seats will be filled by incumbents Warren Claxton and Jackie Robinson; as well as challenger Ray Batten, who garnered more votes than incumbent Duane Smith. Smith had been acting as the mayor since Dr. Bingham resigned for health reasons two months ago. The council selected Warren Claxton as Mayor and is expected to appoint someone to fill his seat on the council next month.



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.”