Thursday, February 4, 2010






  County finds room to grow
County judge inks $2.8M deal to purchase Prosperity Bank building on Athens square
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners agreed to buy the Prosperity Bank Building across the street from the historic county courthouse, following an executive session Tuesday.
County Judge David Holstein inked the deal the same day to purchase 33,000 square feet of office space, 160 parking spaces and the nearby bank drive-thru for $2.796 million.
“We’ve been saving for this (expansion) for some time. We’re paying cash for it,” Holstein told The Monitor.
Prosperity Bank is also getting the abandoned Murchison building at the other end of the block. The Murchison Foundation had originally offered the property to the county as space to expand or for file storage, in an effort to keep county business on the Athens town square.
“They’re (Murchison Foundation) on board with it. The county was the last to agree,” Holstein explained.
Plans call for demolishing the old Murchison Building and replacing it with a modern building (about 8,000 square feet) with turn-of-the century charm. Architectural plans have to be approved by the parties involved, Holstein said.
In October, commissioners ratified the Fy 2010 budget, which included $2.2 million for future growth in the 2010 budget. The rest of the purchase price is coming out of fund balance, Holstein said.
The purchase price averages to about $60 per square foot. “No way we could have built something for less than that,” Holstein said.
Negotiations have been ongoing among the parties for the better part of a year, he added.
“Hats off to Prosperity Bank and the Murchison Foundation. Without them this wouldn’t have come together,” he said.
The county will have to wait about a year, though, until the new building is up, and the bank has moved into it, before it will be gaining any new office space.
There’s a number of steps before that will happen, but Holstein described these as mere ripples, compared to tidal waves, Holstein said.
Though he’ll not sit in an office in the newly acquired building, since he chose not to seek re-election, he is very pleased the agreement was made that will fill the county government’s need for growing room under his term in office.
In other business, commissioners:
• appointed Terry Miller to the board of Emergency Service District No. 5 in Brownsboro
• appointed Bob Miayrs and Ken Hayes to the Fair Park Board.
• accepted a donation from Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group of 1,575 bricks to beautify the lower half of the Juvenile Probation and Fire Marshal’s office building. The donation is valued at $598.
The county will provide the $700 in labor to install the brick siding.
“It will enhance the look of an old metal building,” Precinct 3 Ronny Lawrence said.
• accepted an Indigent Defence Formula Grant totaling $40,206.
• accepted a fidelity bond worth $14,000 for the new fire marshal James Furrh, who was sworn in Monday. The bond is good through the end of 2010. It’s cost is $50, and the county is expecting a rebate from the unused time on the bond for previous fire marshal John Holcomb.
• accepted a contract from Verizon for one year to provide 17 cell phones, 8,500 minutes of service throughout Henderson County, much of Texas and Louisiana and 500 texts per phone a month, plus an air card for $667 a month, a savings of $250 a month, auditor Ann Marie Lee said.
• accepted plats for two separate properties in Precinct 1.
• paid 2009 bills totaling $5,941.37 and 2010 bills totaling $105,694.07.

High-speed chase flashes up US 175
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–A man sought on two felony warrants led police from seven different agencies on a nearly hour-long chase through two counties at speeds up to 95 mph before spiked tires peacefully ended the chase near Kemp Monday afternoon.
Britt Howard Hambrick, 44, was being held without bond in the Henderson County Jail late Tuesday.
Henderson County Drug Enforcement Unit investigators David Faught, Darrell Waller and Greg Hill spotted Hambrick on State Highway 334 in Gun Barrel City near 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Knowing Hambrick had two outstanding warrants on drug offenses – manufacture/delivery and possession – the officers initiated a traffic stop, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt reported Tuesday.
Hambrick’s Toyota Camry stopped, and two women exited the vehicle, which then sped off, heading toward Seven Points.
The chase continued across Cedar Creek Lake into Seven Points, where Hambrick turned north on State Highway 274.
Officers continued to give chase through Kemp, where Hambrick turned onto westbound U.S. Highway 175, heading toward Kaufman.
As the pursuit screamed through Kaufman at nearly 90 mph and headed toward Crandall, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Air One helicopter joined the chase.
Heading into the Combine area, Hambrick made a U-turn and headed back toward Kaufman on U.S. 175 (one pursuing police vehicle got stuck in the mud attempting to make the turn).
Kaufman County sheriff’s deputies deployed spike strips at the Fair Road exit, which blew out three of Hambrick’s tires.
As the speed of the chase dropped into the 50-to-60 mph range, officers made plans to deploy a K-9 unit (trailing three cars back) in case Hambrick tried to flee on foot.
Nearing the Business 175 exit in Kemp, Hambrick stopped his disabled vehicle and was taken into custody without incident 51 minutes after the chase began.
No injuries were reported.
In addition to Henderson County and Kaufman County deputies, the chase involved officers from the Henderson County District Attorney’s office, the Seven Points, Kemp and Kaufman police departments and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

New hotel welcomes community leaders

ComfortSuitesRibbon.jpg (185649 bytes)

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Cedar Creek Lake area community leaders gather under a huge chandelier in the atrium of the new Comfort Suites hotel in Mabank to celebrate the hotel's grand opening Friday.

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