Sunday, June 7, 2009




  Log Cabin police chief charged
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–An investigation by the Henderson County District Attorney and FBI resulted in the arrest of Log Cabin police chief Rebecca “Becky” Baskin late Wednesday.
She was arrested at the Log Cabin Police Station. The action came as a surprise to city officials.
“The phone call was the first I heard about it. When the DA called me to say, ‘I’m fixing to throw our chief in jail,’” Log Cabin mayor Billy Goodwin told The Monitor.
Baskin was arrested without incident and taken to Henderson County Jail. Thursday, she was released on bond for $25,000.
Baskin is charged with two counts of Theft of Property more than $1,500 and less than $20,000.
The illegal activity stems from her work as a police chief in Log Cabin, District Attorney Scott McKee said.
Investigators were at the Log Cabin Police Station until 4 a.m. making an inventory of the station’s property room.
The case is being treated as priority one at the DA’s Office, McKee added, as every case Baskin has filed is being reviewed to ensure no one’s rights have been violated.
“This is a continuing investigation. In a week or so, we’ll see if there are any more charges to be made,” McKee said.
In an emergency session, the Log Cabin city council –minus the mayor and pro-tem, who were unavailable – met to appoint Log Cabin police officer Jeremy Nash as interim police chief.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department has offered its assistance to the city’s police department, should anything major occur, Sheriff Ray Nutt said.


Military supplier sees boost in orders
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–A small and little-known Mabank manufacturer is seeing years of persistence and investment pay off.
Bill Bandlow, owner of WRB Inc., Military Surplus, was recently tapped by the National Rifle Association to supply it with monthly orders of waistband gun holsters.
“They called me in December and indicated they would place an order every three months,” Bandlow said.
However, after its first order of 600 pieces in January, the NRA has ordered every month since then and sometimes more frequently.
“They made three orders in February,” Bandlow said, and his staff is working hard to fill a May order for 2,500 more.
The NRA order also involved another local business, Southwest Stitches on Harbor Point Road in Gun Barrel City. The business embroiders the NRA monogram on each waistband.
As good as this piece of business is, Bandlow’s designs for canvas cases for military night vision binoculars and infrared scopes, is also valued by a well-known military equipment manufacturer, Raytheon.
For five years, Bandlow patiently worked with the Marine Corp. supplier on several designs.
“Now that is starting to payoff,” Bandlow said.
Raytheon has contracted with WRB Inc. to supply it with $70,000 worth of these cases and their associated accoutrements every month for 10 months.
Bandlow says he has been told this order may double at the end of the contract.
“Once they know we can produce in volume, they’ll be coming to us,” he said.
And that’s the challenge.
WRB now employs 28 in its operations, including four independent contractors.
“I could use four more seamstresses right now,” he said.
Currently working out of two facilities and the store front on S. Third Street in Mabank, WRB Inc. began in a small 3,000 square-foot building well behind Grooms & Sons about 10 years ago with six employees.
“At my first gun show, I sold $45 worth and that’s over the two days,” he said.
Now, his landlord, Roger Groom, is building him a 8,000 sq. ft. building, where Bandlow plans to consolidate his operations.
In 2007, Bandlow reports WRB did $400,000 worth of business. He expects to do $1,000,000 in sales this year.
Besides filling these large orders, WRB receives many other smaller orders from its 50 or so independent dealers, Internet orders and through its storefront.
But this growth wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Southside Bank’s Ralph Fortner, Bandlow said.
The working capitol loan the bank provides allows him to accept such large orders and wait the 60 to 90 days for payment, Bandlow said.
“We’re excited about Bill’s success and happy to help expand his business,” Fortner said.
“He’s a hard-working guy and has lived on a shoestring in order to build his business. He’s still not a flashy guy,” he added.
Bandlow remembers his first big break in supplying the military came just prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in December, 2003. A commander with the Air Force 121st SOS, an elite group, called Bandlow to tell him he won.
“I answered, ‘What did I win?’ thinking it was a TV or another giveaway,” he told The Monitor.
That’s when he was told his rifle case was evaluated along side similar products from big national manufacturers Shooting Systems, Eagle Industries and Black Hawk and was chosen to outfit the Special Ops group.
WRB Inc. was chosen to supply 80 assault rifle cases. The hitch was that one third of the order was to be filled and delivered in three days, about 26 of them, and the rest of the order in two weeks.
“Well we called everyone in and worked nonstop until the order was filled,” he said.
From that first military order, WRB has filled orders for Iceland, England, Israel and Portugal. One of his most popular items is the range bag, retailing for $140.
Most recently, WRB has come to the attention of LaRue Tactical out of Austin. They had contacted him during a gun show, but Bandlow didn’t recognize the name, which he later learned was well-known in tactical production for law enforcement and special forces.
Bandlow designed three bags for them. “The first one I did in one day and sent it to them.”
WRB Inc. is starting to fill orders for this tactical equipment manufacturer as well and there’s no telling what the future may hold.
But the chances are, it will add to WRB’s growth and employment opportunities in the area.
On average, Bandlow pays $8.50 per hour, but those employed over time realize much more than that, he said. Benefits include a week’s paid vacation after a year, up to two weeks paid sick leave and five paid holidays, he added.
“This (type of manufacturing) is ideal for the lake area,” he said.


Number of unemployed falls in Henderson County
Special to the Monitor
AUSTIN–Henderson County went against the tide in April and saw a decrease in the unemployment rate, according to information from the Texas Workforce Center.
The county rate dipped to 6.7 percent after a 7.2 percent showing in March.
Texas’ unemployment rate remained unchanged in April at 6.7 percent, well below the national rate of 8.9 percent. The state’s figure is still considerably higher than in April 2008, when the mark was 4.6 percent.
Henderson County’s total workforce grew from 35,808 to 36,041 from March to April. The total number employed was up from 33,231 to 33,624. The total unemployed dipped from 2,571 to 2,417.
“While Texas unemployment rate remains substantially lower than the national rate, it is of real concern that Texas who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own are having a difficult time finding employment,” Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken said. “Continued unemployment claims remain much higher than a year ago.”
Texas’ seasonally adjusted nonagricultural employment fell by 39,500 jobs in April. texas has recorded a net loss of 173,900 jobs in the past 12 months, compared with job losses of 5.2 million in the United States during the same period.
“It’s fortunate that some job losses were offset by job gains in Leisure and Hospitality, as well as education and health services,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Andres Alcantar. “In industries where jobs were lost, our workforce boards stand ready to aid these individuals.”
Leisure and Hospitality posted the largest industry gain in April with an additional 10,600 jobs.
According to the Bureau of Statistics about 12 percent of Henderson County work force falls into the leisure and hospitality category.
Of Henderson County’s nearest neighbors, only Anderson County had a higher unemployment rate in April. Anderson County recorded 7.1 percent in March and 7.2 percent in April.

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