Sunday, March 8, 2009




  Man steals plane, crashes
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers are investigating the crash of a Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine aircraft just east of Athens Wednesday.
The aircraft is believed to have been stolen from the Athens airport.
According to reports, no one was seriously injured in the crash, which left the plane hanging in a stand of trees on private property off County Road 4506.

This A36 Bonanza Beechcraft in flight is similar to the one stolen from the Athens Municipal Airport Wednesday morning.

Authorities took a suspect into custody just hours later, reportedly when he returned to the airport to get his maroon pickup truck after the plane crashed.
Brownsville resident Joshua P. Calhoun, 28, was taken to East Texas Medical Center Athens and treated for minor injuries before being booked into jail on a charge of theft of property over $200,000.
Carroll Dyson, owner of Dyson Aviation, called the plane’s owner when Dyson began to suspect the plane was being stolen from the Athens Municipal Airport off Loop 7 around 9:15 a.m.
A couple of signs tipped Dyson off to the possible theft.
While eating some breakfast in front of a window facing the airport ramp, where planes are parked and tied down, he saw the suspect unlock the plane’s door and go through a preflight check. That was around 7:30 a.m.
“He looked a lot like the owner – the same build and height,” Dyson said.
However, when the man tried to start the engine, it didn’t catch after three tries. The man then left, but later returned and succeeded in getting the engine started.
Dyson had been doing some paperwork when he heard the plane’s engine revving up.
“I can’t not watch a plane take off,” Dyson told The Monitor. So, he stepped out his office door.
The pilot didn’t go to the far end of the runway to take off, but began his run at the T, which was near the ramp, Dyson reported.
Also, the pilot’s truck was parked on the ramp, instead of in the parking lot. That was unusual, he said.
Then, Dyson noticed the aircraft’s door was still open as it was taking off. That’s when Dyson decided to call the owner.
“Did you loan anyone your plane?” he asked. “No,” was the answer, and the keys were in the owner’s sight, Dyson said.
“Well, you better call the police, then, because someone has just taken off with your plane,” Dyson told the owner.
However, the suspect didn’t get far.
The plane came back down about three miles away from the airport, crash-landing in the stand of trees, located some distance behind Athens Tractor Supply on U.S. Highway 175.
A search for the craft by air was underway, employing the Air One medical helicopter from East Texas Medical Center and a Dyson Aviation craft. The crash site was located about 10:30 a.m.
Law enforcement officers came out to the airport to question Dyson about what he saw, and while they were there, Dyson noticed someone getting into the truck on the ramp and driving away.
After a short chase, officers returned to the airport with the suspect in custody.
Dyson made a positive identification of the man as the same one who conducted the preflight check earlier and took off with the plane.
Dyson, who’s been at the airport since it was built, recalled only one other time when a plane was stolen, back in the early ’70s.
The crash site was secured by state troopers. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the case.
Once contacted, the crash site property owner refused access to the property to all but law enforcement personnel.

Mabank orchestrates tornado disaster drill
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The Mabank emergency response team is planning a mock disaster drill for Saturday, March 28, in the vicinity of Northpark, in north Mabank.
Code Enforcement officer and volunteer fireman Mat Ewaskiw told Mabank City Council members Tuesday letters had been posted to residents of Northpark, informing them of the event and seeking volunteer “victims” from the neighborhood.
Between 10 and 15 agencies are expected to participate, including the American Red Cross, who will open the emergency shelter in Mabank, as they would in a real disaster.
The Humane Society is also participating, providing emergency kennels and caring for animals caught in the “disaster.”
The drill will simulate a tornado touching down in the Northpark area and is expected to last from 8:30 a.m. to noon, he said.
In other business, council members:
• approved an ordinance relating to the collection of limbs/brush in the city. The new rule states that if a property owner hires someone to cut back brush and limbs that they are also responsible for hauling away the debris. This was needed due to the volume of brush and limbs being put out for city collection.
Property owners doing their own brush and limb trimming may still put their debris out for city pickup, provided there is no more than 500 cubic feet per week per residence. The rule does not apply during emergency situations where the public health, safety or welfare could be compromised.
Violation of the new rule counts as a Class C misdemeanor and punishable with a fine up to $500, each day that violation continues.
• adopted a resolution asking the Texas Department of Transportation to transfer authority to the city to manage utility and road-associated right-of-way maintenance, driveway access control and drainage management of a part of Old Farm-to-Market 90.
This is desirable since it affects the site of a hotel development.
• determined a structure located adjacent to 205 S. Wade Street is unsafe and ordered its demolition.
• awarded a bid for the purchase of a used trackhoe for $71,120 from Rental Equipment Contractor Supply, out of Prosper.
• authorized the mayor to proceed with the sale of water meters.

Intersection to re-open March 16
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Partly due to heightened attention, the main intersection in Seven Points is set to open Monday, March 16, instead of April 1.
Plans for a ribbon cutting are being made.
RK Hall spokesman Greg Main told local business owners that the Texas Department of Transportation has lifted its requirement to apply the seal coat before opening the intersection.
“I think your meeting (Feb. 23) sped up the process,” he said.
Plans to apply the seal coat will be done one lane at a time and shouldn’t impact traffic flow all that much, since the other three lanes will be open, he explained.
“Y’all have been real patient and we appreciate it,” Mains said.
Testing of the new traffic lights at state highways 334 and 274 will be ongoing through the first two weeks, including weekends, he added.
Mains addressed the monthly 8 a.m. chamber branch breakfast meeting Wednesday at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points.

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