Sunday, July 20, 2008




  Council rejects voter fraud prosecution
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

PAYNE SPRINGS–On a 3-2 vote, the Payne Springs City Council decided not to prosecute the 20 individuals who illegally voted in the May 10 city election.
Tuesday’s vote followed an impassioned plea by Karen Juica to send a strong message that “the city will no longer tolerate voter fraud.”
Those for sending the names to the Henderson County District Attorney’s office were Odell Terrell and Rodney Renberg. Those opposing the measure were Vic Brazzell, Carl Powell and Lynn Sorrell.
Earlier in the meeting, the council heard of one gross abuse by a voter listing Mayor J.T. Noble’s hay acreage as their address.
“Let me assure you, there is no one living in my hay field,” Noble said.
Though the abuse seemed blatant, the majority of the council declined prosecution because both the election judge and assistants, as well as the county, may also be cited – perhaps even the city.
“Does the city bear some responsibility for this happening?” Powell asked.
“I think it’s enough that the mayor has cleaned up the list with the county registrar’s office,” Brazzell said. “All those who voted were authorized to do so by the county voters registrar.”
Noble, Juica and others went through every name and address to verify which individuals were truly living within the city limits and who were not.
“There were between 180 and 190 names on the list that either should not have been listed, or should have been listed and were not,” Noble said. “I have been to every address and verified with the county, so the list should be cleaned up now.”
This is not a new problem, Juica told the council.
The spidery-like boundary lines that encompass the major roadways and skirt around other residents has been a source of trouble to the city for a long time, she pointed out. Efforts to redraw boundary lines and annex properties have been unsuccessful thus far.
In other business, the council:
• changed its general rule to allow for a biennial audit of the city’s financial records, starting the compilation this year. The move is expected to save the city about $2,500.
• took no action on a request to use police vehicles by off-duty officers to perform security inside the city.
• heard Bill Casey, the Democratic candidate for Henderson County Sheriff, outline his qualifications and reforms he would bring to the department.
A past military man, he said promotions would be based on performance reports, as well as time served, as it is done in the armed services.
• heard the difference between replacing a blown motor in police vehicle (No. 51) with a rebuilt engine, and buying a new engine from Tri-County Ford was $300. The new engine comes with a 36-month/100,000 mile warranty.
• heard a BlackBrush representative has been rescheduled to talk to the city council about a proposed sour gas well Tuesday, Aug 19.

County responds to report of inmate’s “mysterious death”
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A recent television report of a sick woman being transferred from the Henderson County Jail April 24 to ETMC-Athens and dying 10 days later is substantially correct, Sheriff’s department spokesman Lt. Pat McWilliams told The Monitor.
McWilliams confirmed that Debra Lee Newton, 56, was an inmate who become ill on April 23.
She was taken out of the general prison population and placed in a medical isolation cell, and a doctor came to see her the following day.
That same day, she was transferred to ETMC-Athens.
April 25, she was released from county custody on a personal recognizance bond issued by the court. Officers Kevin Harris and James Smith witnessed the bond and her medicated state, as a reason for her being unable to sign.
What her condition was, her treatment both inside the jail and later at the hospital are all part of her medical records – and all protected by strict privacy laws.
“I would welcome those records coming to light,” McWilliams said. “It would take the mystery out of it.
“She had received medical attention all along,” McWilliams added, but noted he was prevented from elaborating due to privacy laws.
McWilliams explained that whenever a prisoner exhibits flu-like symptoms, they are removed to a medical cell to prevent the possible spread of infection.
A public information request for those medical records from WFAA-TV has been forwarded to the attorney general for a ruling, he added.
In no way is Sheriff Ronny Brownlow’s retirement announcement related to this incident as implied by the TV report, McWilliams said. The Monitor has known since last October of Brownlow’s intention to retire.
As for the length of time before the records were filed, McWilliams explained that a personal recognizance bond is a court order to release the prisoner.
Since she was already outside the jail, booking took care of the paperwork and sent the order and its outcome on to the courthouse for filing.
“It could have sat on someone’s desk for a month before being stamped,” he said. “But the order was complied with immediately.”

Bargain hunters make out
at Friends’ book sale

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Margaret and Ray Campbell are among the first shoppers to review the titles
offered for sale at the Friends of The Library at Cedar Creek Lake book sale
going on this weekend in Seven Points.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Sandra Mooney (left) of Tool takes advantage of the low prices at the Friends
of The Library of Cedar Creek Lake book sale.Mooney bought 11 videotapes
and 27 paperbacks for less than $20, which is good, because she typically reads
three books a week, she said. Christy Spiegel helps pack them up while Yvonne
Flanigan (right) rings up the sale. The book sale continues through Saturday.

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