Thursday, February 22, 2007




Mother arrested for locking teens in shed during cold
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–A mother was arrested for keeping her two daughters, aged 14 and 16, locked in an 8x10 metal shed for four nights.
Tool Assistant Police Chief Martha Decker said there was no heat, no phone, a waste basket, bunk bed, one bare light bulb, their clothes hanging from the ceiling, and a coverlet over the door inside the shed.
Someone called and asked the Tool Police to do a welfare check Feb. 13, when the weather was below freezing and a 25 mph wind was blowing.
The caller said one of the girls had made an “outcry” the night before, telling a neighbor what was happening.
Decker and Officer John Deborde went to the residence of Christina Martin and boyfriend Martin Madrano.
When Decker ask to see the girls, the mother said they were asleep and she didn’t want to disturb them.
The officers insisted, saying they were doing a welfare check.
Martin took the officers to the shed, where she unlocked a padlock, lifted it from its loop and then pulled back a rasp lock.
Martin claimed the girls were in the shed for only one night while the house was being remodeled.
Modrano claimed no responsibility, saying they were not his kids, Decker explained.
The girls said they had been locked in at 8 p.m. each night for four nights, and released in the mornings in time for school, Decker said.
“Both girls were freezing and seemed disoriented,” she said.
Child Protective Services was called and the girls were taken into state custody, Decker explained, adding the mother and her boyfriend were taken to the Henderson County Jail.
They were charged with two counts each of unlawful restraint and endangering a child.
“They are being held on $60,000 bond on each charge,” Decker said, adding other charges might be added later.
“We are grateful for the concerned citizen who called in,” she said.

Drugs, cash, gun seized during weekend traffic stop
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–A traffic stop Saturday resulted in the seizure of suspected drugs and cash, as well as drug and weapons charges against one passenger.
Seven Points Police Chief Wayne Nutt reported Investigator Dusty Bryant initiated a traffic stop on a Ford Taurus traveling on State Highway 274.
Bryant, with backup from Seven Points officers Kenny Boyle and Brad Hendricks, also searched the vehicle, which was driven by James Jason Horne, 34, of Kemp.
Three passengers were in the vehicle – Jonathan Roy Everett, 20, of Kemp, James Noel Nelson Jr., also 20, of Gun Barrel City, and Kimberly Nicole Duckworth, 19, of Gun Barrel City.
During a search, officers discovered a pill bottle containing a number of different prescription pills, along with three baggies containing a white crystalline substance believed to be methamphetamine.
Officers also found a BERSA model .380-caliber pistol underneath the driver’s seat, as well as $984 in cash in Everett’s possession.
All four suspects were transported to the Seven Points Police Department, where Everett admitted possession of the pills, methamphetamine and the pistol, Nutt reported.
Everett was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon, and Nutt said it is anticipated additional charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of dangerous drugs would be filed against Everett.
Horne was also held on an outstanding Henderson County warrant for non-payment of child support.
Nelson was released with a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia, while Duckworth was released without any charges being filed, Nutt reported.

Construction has started on SH 334
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–The widening of State Highway 334 through Seven Points has been a long time coming, but is now underway.
There is a lot of small stuff being done that is not noticeable by the general public, Chad Ingram, assistant area engineer for Henderson County said.
Ingram, out of the Athens office of the Texas Department of Transportation, was the speaker for Tuesday’s Optimist Club of Cedar Creek luncheon.
His subject concerned plans for local highway improvements in general, and the widening of SH 334 in particular.
There are still some utilities that need to be moved, he said.
“Embarq is 98 percent completed, but Trinity Valley (Electric Company) still needs to move some of its poles,” Ingram explained.
“When the utility work is completed, hopefully by March 1, the contractors can hit the ground running,” he said.
The contract calls for a four-lane highway with a flush median running through Seven Points from the SH 274 and SH 334 intersection to the Arnold Hills intersection.
Ingram said at each end of the improvement, the project will begin a 150-foot taper, back to the existing two-lane road size.
The bridges to Gun Barrel City will remain the same.
Several members expressed disappointment and concern about going from four lanes to two lanes leading onto the bridge, thus creating a bottleneck.
“I know it doesn’t make sense,” Ingram admitted. “We basically do as much as we can with the money we have.”
The money for roads and the money for bridges come from different accounts, he explained.
Another question concerned the bridges on State Highway 198.
The bridge between Seven Points and Gun Barrel City was rated functionally deficient because of a lack of shoulders and walkways, he said.
But those on SH 198 are functionally deficient and also structurally deficient.
Although any widening on SH 274 is not set until 2016 (and remains unfunded), some widening is included in the SH 334 intersection plans.
The widening tapers back at Pop’s Chicken going north and at Brookshire’s going south, with additional turn lanes planned at Brookshire’s.
The SH 334 project will include curb-and-gutter and sidewalks, like the section through Gun Barrel City.
TxDoT is also planning to fill in the dip just past Wings over Seven Points and level out that area as a safety measure.
Other public hearings will be scheduled in the near future, Ingram said.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Chad Ingram, Henderson County assistant area engineer explains where the
widening for State Highway 334 will stop on Farm-to-Market 85, west of Seven Points.

Tobacco banned from city offices
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reporter

PAYNE SPRINGS–Those visiting city offices at the Payne Springs Community Center will not have to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke, or see others enjoying a chaw of tobacco while trying to conduct business with the city.
The Payne Springs City Council unanimously voted to ban the use of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and tobacco chewing in city offices, buildings and police vehicles, including the entrances to city offices and buildings within a 15-foot distance.
The ordinance was proposed by councilman Michael Juica during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
“I’ve gotten a lot of complaints. I’m a heavy smoker, but nonsmokers shouldn’t have to put up with the smoking when they come down to take care of business,” Juica said.
The ordinance doesn’t include a penalty.
Police Chief Tim Meadows said if someone violates the ordinance, he will tell the offender about the new rule and ask them to comply.
“This is not a smoker’s trap,” Mayor Michael McDonald said. “We’re just seeking cooperation with this ordinance.”
In other business, the council:
• ordered the city election for Saturday, May 12. Early voting begins April 30 and runs through May 8. Lou Reimers was named pressiding judge, with Virginia Hellebrand the alternate presiding judge. Clerks are yet to be appointed.
• named Drew Gibbs as the new city attorney and Pam Kaylor as city clerk.

Severe Weather Awareness Week set
By Mary Landrie
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners declared March 4-10 as “Severe Weather Awareness Week.”
Gov. Rick Perry made the declaration for the state of Texas recently, and the court agreed during Tuesday’s regular meeting that Henderson County should follow suit.
Each year at this time, portions of the state are subject to flooding, tornadoes, windstorms and other emergency situations due to inclement and potentially violent weather, the proclamation states.
The governor’s Division of Emergency Management joins the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in urging all citizens to prepare for severe weather events and to educate themselves on safety strategies.
Henderson County officials can now be added to that list.
Community members are being asked to learn more about and to participate in severe weather preparedness activities available in Henderson County.
One such activity is Storm Spotter Preparedness – SKYWARN 2007, being held at the Malakoff Senior Citizens Building, located at 503 N. Terry St. (State Highway 198) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6
In other business, commissioners:
• announced the opening of a position on the Henderson County Clint Murchison Library Board. All interested individuals should contact their commissioner or Judge David Holstein before Tuesday, Feb. 27.
• discussed setting a public hearing to discuss the closing of 234 feet of CR 3420 in Precinct 3.
• approved an interlocal agreement between Henderson County and the City of Athens for rural fire protection.
• received financial reports from Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock and the County Treasurer.
• heard from Chief Deputy Tony Allison that the jail expansion project is going well, despite weather conditions.
• approved payroll changes as presented.
• renewed a contract with IBM for 25 computer user licenses, totaling $1,341.
• paid bills totaling $311,250.67 with Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West opposing.
• discussed scheduling a workshop to set guidelines for reimbursement of expenses.

Tool approves employee position
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–A new part-time position for a data processing individual was approved Thursday by the Tool City Council.
Council members approved the “as needed” position at $7 per hour.
In other business, council members:
• recognized Officer Jason McCurdy as Officer of the Year.
Police Chief Warren Loscuito introduced the officer and presented him with a certificate.
He has received many calls from Tool residents commending the officer for his service and behavior.
McCurdy, 31, and his wife Shelly have a 3-month-old daughter, Katelynn.
• approved the transfer of the city bank accounts to Citizens State Bank in Seven Points as soon as possible, and approved the re-issuing of signature cards.
Council member Leland Pitts abstained from the vote.
• ordered the May 12 city election. Two council seats and the mayor’s seat are to be filled.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Tool Police Chief Warren Loscuito (left)
presented a certificate for Officer of the Year
to Jason McCurdy.

Citizens discuss sex offenders
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Tamarack subdivision Crime Watch captain Peggy Northcutt, along with city council candidate Charles Townsend, arranged a meeting on sex offenders with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.
About 25 people from 10 crime watches, including one from Mabank and County Road 4020, attended the question-and-answer forum.
The city of Gun Barrel was represented by councilwomen Patsy Black and Kathy Cochran.
Todd Hogan also used the opportunity to announce his candidacy for the council seat vacated by James Jacob.
Peace officer B.J. Medellin answers phones for Deputy Janelle Dunnington, who is in charge of monitoring the activities of about 179 registered sex offenders in Henderson County.
Medellin was on hand to answer community questions.
Sex offenders, once released on parole or probation from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice back into the county where the offence occurred, are issued a blue registration card they must carry at all times, Medellin said.
Prior to release, the county receives a report stipulating their limitations, compliance issues, complete history and length of time the offender is required to comply.
After the sex offender is “off-paper,” they are still subject to monitoring for the next 10 years, she said.
Very few get this far without another offense, Medellin added.
But, those who just want to get on with their lives and whose offense was a part of their growing up are usually able to shed the sex offender label by remaining compliant with no repeat offenses, she said.
To aid law enforcement in their efforts, sex offenders are required to renew their driver’s license every year, and report changes in address, phone number and employment.
Sex offenders in Henderson County are also advised to keep the sheriff informed of traveling for business or pleasure. Any visit out of the county for longer than 48 hours is required to be reported, with no more than three visits out of county per month permitted.
Though the sheriff’s office makes surprises visits to sex offenders’ addresses, tips from citizens about changes in their residence is greatly appreciated.
“We don’t tell their employers about their history, but if we have to come looking for them because they are not where they’re supposed to be, then they know we will talk to their employer in efforts to relocate them,” Medellin said.
When sex offenders are out of compliance on two or more items, they can be recharged and sent back to court, she said.
In instances where the sex offender is living with a woman with young children, Child Protective Services will be called in to work a case.
Juveniles convicted of a sex offense are reported to the school and are transferred to alternative schools.
Should cities make laws restricting where they can live?
“They are easier to keep track of in populated areas,” Medellin said.
“And, though the community might feel safer with them elsewhere, these laws are hard to write without violating their civil rights,” she added.
“I think you’ll never see a decrease in the number of sex offenders. It’s a growing problem,” Medellin said.
The best way to protect children from molestation is to talk to them about the subject, she advised.
“If you bring the subject up out of the blue, it will make your kids feel they can, too. Awareness, education and frequent conversation about it is the best defense,” she said.