PS firefighters honored at banquet
Monitor Staff Reports
PAYNE SPRINGS–In a more subdued gathering than usual, the Payne Springs
Fire Rescue honored its members at the department’s annual awards
The department was struck by tragedy less than a week earlier with the
Feb. 15 death of veteran firefighter and department board member Roger
In addition, training officer Sean Kelsay was diagnosed with lung cancer
late last year, and is undergoing chemotherapy.
Fire chief Randy Harley presented a special plaque to Yardley’s family
in appreciation of his years of service to the department, which he
joined in May, 1998.
Yardley picked up two tall trophies at last year’s banquet, and would
have been awarded two more Saturday night, Harley said – he was the
runner-up as top medical responder with 148 calls, and seventh among the
top 10 fire responders with 104 calls.
Kelsay also received a special award for his service behind the scenes,
along with the duo of Kay and Randy Hardee.
Last year’s “Rookie of the Year,” Dillon Herbert, was named the
department’s “Firefighter of the Year,” as he led the department in
medical call responses (150) and was the runner-up in fire calls, with
A full-time student also enrolled in EMT school, Herbert joined the
department in April, 2007.
Kelsay joined the department Dec. 12, 1996, and remains the department’s
This year’s “Rookie of the Year” was Chris Perez, while a special
service award went to Don Mecklin and Michael Juica.
Stephanie West was the runner-up in medical responses, with 144, while
Juica was the department’s top fire responder, answering 181 calls.
During 2008, the 46-member department responded to 649 calls, about half
of those medical calls, which includes vehicle accidents, Harley
There were a couple of major fires that boosted the department’s dollar
loss, but the department was able to save many more homes and prevent
losses through the year, he added.
“Major fires are a challenge,” he said. “Knowing that you can support
your water supplies is a big help.”
The department’s area-wide ISO (fire insurance) rating is 4. “To me,
that’s outstanding for a rural community like ours,” Harley said.
Operating nine apparatus out of two stations, the department’s average
response time last year was 7.43 minutes.
So far, 2009 is starting out as another busy year, with 112 calls
through Saturday, he added.
During the banquet, the firefighters’ pagers went off with a structure
fire alarm, and six or eight members roared out in two pieces of
A few minutes later, the pagers went off again, telling department
members to “10-22” (disregard) the alarm, and the members who left were
able to rejoin the others for a department gathering at the dais.
In a running gag, Harley often referred to his “program” – several
scribbled notes on the back of a large envelope – during the nearly
During the awards portion, Harley handed out a number of certificates of
appreciation to individuals, including Dennis Harris and Jimmy and Irma
Reynolds, along with the Pinnacle Women’s Club and Poole Gas Company in
Also, Harley recognized representatives from the Eustace, Log Cabin, Gun
Barrel City and Enchanted Oaks fire departments, which have mutual aid
agreements with the Payne Springs volunteers.
Athens Fire Chief John McQueary, a former battalion commander with the
Arlington Fire Department, spoke briefly to the gathering about the
absolute need for as much training as possible.
A Vietnam veteran, McQueary came to Athens after retiring from Arlington
with 35 years of service.
At Arlington, McQueary commanded five stations in a section of the city
that included Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, as well as the Texas
Rangers stadium and the spot now housing the new Dallas Cowboys stadium,
still under construction.
“I hadn’t had much experience with volunteers until I got down here,”
McQueary said. “I don’t see how you do what you do.”
McQueary noted he was always a paid employee, and admitted the paycheck
provided motivation at times.
“You do it out of the passion of your heart,” he said.
Every year, more than 100 firefighters die in the line of duty, and more
than 45,000 are injured. Training is the way to lower those figures,
“What we have to recognize is what the dangers are, and then train on
them,” he said. “Training allows you to find out what your weaknesses
are, because you have to work as a team.”
Being a firefighter isn’t a job – it’s a calling that requires the
utmost dedication, McQueary said.
“I applaud you,” he added. “You are doing an honorable thing.”
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Most of the 44-member Payne Springs Fire Rescue department gather for a
at the department’s annual awards banquet Saturday at the Lighthouse
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Payne Springs Fire Chief Randy Harley (at right) presents a plaque to
of veteran volunteer firefighter and department board member Roger
the Payne Springs Fire Rescue’s annual awards banquet Saturday.
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Veteran training officer Sean Kelsay (center), flanked by Kellie and
Kelsay, holds a special service award presented for his help behind the
Prepare now for severe
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners made two proclamations
recently marking Feb. 22-28 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and March 2
as the 173rd anniversary of Texas Independence Day.
Storm Spotters workshops are scheduled across Texas from now until
Henderson County is hosting such a class Tuesday, March 24, at the
Athens Senior Citizens Center on State Highway 31.
(A detailed announcement will continue in The Monitor’s News in Brief.)
Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough told commissioners a
number of newspaper ads would alert the public.
Also, a number of informative brochures can be viewed on the county
website ( www.co.henderson.tx.us ) under county offices-Emergency Management.
Severe weather most often occurs in spring and early summer, with heavy
thunderstorms and tornadoes peaking between March and May.
Avoiding dangers from lightening, flash flooding, high winds and
tornadoes can save lives, she said.
Since lightning is estimated to strike the earth about 20 million times
a year, moving from outdoors to indoors is the best way to avoid being
Do not take shelter in small sheds or under isolated trees, or in
convertible automobiles. Stay away from tall objects and power lines,
If moving indoors is not an option, find a low spot. If you feel your
skin tingle or hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls
of your feet.
Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees, to
make yourself as small a target as possible, also minimize your contact
with the ground. Do not lie down, they warn.
Statistics report 80 fatalities a year from lightening strikes and about
However, flash floods are the No. 1 cause of deaths associated with
thunderstorms, about 140 a year.
Most flash flood deaths occur at night by people trapped in their cars.
Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person off their feet;
12 inches can float most vehicles. Avoid entering fast-moving water.
Move to higher ground.
If a siren signals a tornado, seek underground shelter immediately, or
move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and under a
sturdy piece of furniture to protect yourself from falling debris.
Stay away from windows. Get out of automobiles. Mobile homes, even if
tied down, offer little protection from swirling winds in excess of 250
mph. Leave mobile homes and seek shelter in a sturdy nearby building or
If caught outside, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover
your head with your hands.
In the aftermath of a disaster, an emergency supply kit may prove
invaluable, Kimbrough said.
Essential supplies include one gallon of water per person per day for
three days, food that won’t spoil, a change of clothing and footwear,
blankets and a first aid kit, including prescription medicines.
Also, emergency tools, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and plenty
of extra batteries, an extra set of car keys, a credit card or cash and
items for specific needs of infants, elderly, disabled or pets.
Charles Luna, president Piney Woods Chapter of The Sons of the Republic
of Texas, reminded commissioners that on March 2, 173 years ago, a group
of men met on a cold March day in an unfinished building to sign the
Texas Declaration of Independence.
This came hard on the heels of the massacres at Goliad and the Alamo,
when all the Anglo settlers abandoned their homesteads and fled toward
Arkansas to avoid the Mexican forces.
Eustace man flees sheriff’s
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–Henderson County authorities are seeking a 54-year-old rural
Eustace man on drug charges, after the man fled from officers seeking to
execute an arrest warrant.
As of Tuesday afternoon, officers were still seeking Robert Wesley
Preston, who fled from his home on County Road 2803 around 5 p.m.
Sheriff’s deputies Billy Jack Valentine and Sgt. Thomas Goodell went to
Preston’s home armed with a felony arrest warrant on charges of
manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, stemming from an August,
2008, police raid at the residence.
When Valentine and Goodell arrived at the residence, Preston and another
male subject ran into the woods, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt
reported in a prepared news release.
The deputies found a quantity of white rock crystals believed to be
methamphetamine in plain view, and confiscated the suspected drugs, Nutt
A field test indicated the crystals to be methamphetamine, and Valentine
secured a second felony arrest warrant against Preston for
manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, more than four grams and
less than 200 grams, Nutt reported.
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake
My name is Nelson. I am a
beautiful male Dachshund. I was brought to the shelter by animal
control, so I have no history. So far, I seem pretty laid back
and gentle. I am a wonderful boy looking for my new forever
My name is Oreo. I am a beautiful
female black Lab. I was brought to the shelter by animal
control, so I have no history. I seem to get along with other
dogs. I need help with leash training. I have been started on my
shots and need to be fixed. I am a beautiful girl looking for my
We are a whole litter of Shepherd
mix babies. We were brought to the shelter by animal control, so
we have no history. We have been started on our first set of
shots. We are good kids looking for our new forever homes.
I am a beautiful Border Collie,
who is four months old, or so. I was brought to the shelter by
animal control, so I have no history. I have not been at the
shelter long, so not much is known about me. I am a beautiful
kid looking for a new home.
Pictured are just a few
animals at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Seven
Points in dire need of a good home. Please call or stop by the
Humane Society today and rescue one of these forgotten animals.
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is located on 10220
County Road 2403 in
Seven Points. For more information, please call (903) 432-3422
after 11 a.m.
We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.
For further information
visit our website at