Thursday, May 22, 2008





Teen charged with forcing neighbor down an old well
Monitor Staff Report
GUN BARREL CITY–A Bonita Point teenager is jailed, accused of forcing a 63-year-old female neighbor to jump into an abandoned well in order to steal her car.
Joshua James Cannon, 18, was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm following the Friday afternoon incident, according to information released by Henderson County Sheriff’s Office information officer Lt. Pat McWilliams.
Cheryl Adams notified authorities at 5:21 p.m. Friday that her mother, Shirley Shafer, 63, might have been kidnapped, and her vehicle stolen.
Adams discovered a message on her mother’s telephone answering machine saying Seagoville police had recovered her mother’s vehicle that morning.
Seagoville officers initiated a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 175 for reckless driving, and impounded the vehicle, pending research into the actual owner.
The two individuals occupying the car were released, pending investigation, McWilliams reported.
Family members began searching Shafer’s home at 177 Snapper Lane, and located her in an abandoned well approximately 20 feet deep.
The bottom of the well was muddy, and she was able to sit on a log that had fallen down there some years ago, McWilliams said.
Gun Barrel City fire department volunteers freed Shafer from the well, and she was transported to the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler for treatment of hypothermia, bruises and a broken nose.
She returned home to recover from her all-day ordeal Saturday.
Cannon was arrested by HCSO Investigator Kevin Hanes at 9:30 p.m. Friday and jailed under bonds totaling $17,500.
A 16-year-old juvenile found riding with Cannon by Seagoville police was not charged, as he apparently joined Cannon later for the drive to Dallas.
All three – Shafer, Cannon and the juvenile – are close neighbors in the Bonita Park subdivision of Gun Barrel City, McWilliams said.
“There’s no real motive (for the incident) that we can find, other than getting the vehicle,” McWilliams added.
Other Bonita Point residents reported Cannon had just been released from jail the previous week, and McWilliams confirmed Cannon had registered as a sex offender May 14.
Shafer was not physically assaulted during the confrontation at her home, McWilliams added.

Former MPD officer cleared
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A former Malakoff police officer was acquitted of violating a defendant’s civil rights in the 173rd District Court last week, according to officials with the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office.
Horace Poullard, 57, of Palestine was indicted in August, 2007, on the civil rights charge, which is a state jail felony.
According to the indictment, Poullard was accused of intentionally engaging in sexual contact with a woman who was in custody. The woman filed a complaint, which was investigated by the Texas Rangers and the FBI.
Details regarding the incident were not released.
Poullard started with the Malakoff Police Department in August, 2006. After the complaint against Poullard was filed, he was switched from the night shift to the day shift for closer supervision.
Poullard resigned from MPD in July, 2007.
According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE), Poullard had no record of disciplinary action.

HC Commissioners begin reviewing study proposals
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–An even dozen firms sent in qualification packets to the Henderson County Commissioners, seeking to perform a planned facilities study for the county.
Commissioners held a brief review of the proposals during a one-hour workshop Monday, and agreed to cut the 12 proposals down to three or five finalists at another workshop Monday, June 2.
The commissioners and county judge David Holstein didn’t look thrilled with the prospect of weeding through a seven-inch-high stack of proposals.
“I’ve not looked at any of these,” Holstein told the commissioners (Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence was absent).
Proposals had to be on hand by the end of the day May 15. The request generated a lot of telephone calls and other expressions of interest.
The Ginger Murchison Foundation has offered to pay up to $100,000 toward a new facilities study, provided that study is done by Dec. 31, so the commissioners have to move quickly, because any of the companies submitting proposals won’t have much time to do the study, Holstein reminded the commissioners.
“The law requires that we hire on qualifications and competence, not on (the cost of) fees,” he added.
As planned, the county would be hiring a consultant to do a study, not retain an architect to draw up building designs.
That said, most of the 12 proposals were submitted by architectural firms, and one even included a sample contract.
While fees aren’t supposed to be involved in picking a firm to do the study, a couple of the proposals included some costs that raised eyebrows around the table.
Firms submitting proposals included Jacobs Carter Burgess Architects of Dallas, HDR Architecture of Dallas, Morgan Spear Associates of Houston and Broaddus & Associates of Austin, who did the county’s last facilities study in 2002.
Also submitting proposals were Brinkley Sargent Architects of Dallas, Sinclair & Wright Architects of Tyler, Arthur Weinman Architects of Fort Worth, Wharry Engineering of Dallas, PBS&J of Austin (who has done a lot of work with Kaufman County), LBL Architects of Arlington, Fisher Heck Architects of San Antonio and URS Corporation of Dallas.
“We really need to rig up some kind of scoring card to do this properly,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said. “At this point in time, this feels like a dart.”
Continuing his musings, McKinney said he expected Lawrence’s concern to be about the firm’s responsiveness, while Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West’s concern would be cost – a surmise West agreed with.
Similar scoring systems were set up to weed through insurance proposals in the past, which at least helped weed out some of the unsuitable proposals, McKinney said.
“We may have to go with a gut feeling,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall said.
“We’re not looking for a design – what structure goes here,” Holstein said. “We want a practical, logical growth plan.”
Such a plan should have clear goals to compensate for population growth five years, 10 years and 20 years in the future, he added.
One key ingredient is the longevity of the individual court members, McKinney said, pointing out the four commissioners have 46 years of experience between them.
Back in February, a consortium of Athens business leaders went on record as supporting a decision to demolish the Old Jail, if necessary, and it’s clear the county needs a records building as soon as possible, as the Old Jail is stuffed to the gills, Holstein said.
“It will give credence and weight if all of that is included in our plan,” McKinney said.
“This (plan) is going to be a road map to the future,” Holstein said. “Arguably, we’re on the threshold of taking one of the biggest steps any commissioners court could be taking.”

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