Teen indicted for forcing woman
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A Gun Barrel City teen was indicted on aggravated
kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery charges Wednesday.
Joshua James Cannon, a resident of the Bonita Point subdivision in Gun
Barrel City, is charged with forcing a 63-year-old neighbor down an
abandoned well during the early morning hours of May 16.
Cannon was indicted for Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Sexual Assault
and Aggravated Robbery, with repeat offender enhancement on all three
Cannon also was indicted for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a
Felon, according to information released by Henderson County District
Attorney Donna R. Bennett.
According to investigators, Cannon, then 18 and on parole after being
released from jail the week before, broke into the neighbor’s home in
the wee hours of the morning, assaulted her and then forced her outside
at gunpoint before pushing her down the abandoned 20-foot-deep well.
Investigators said Cannon then took the woman’s vehicle and headed to
the Dallas area, picking up a juvenile acquaintance on the way.
Seagoville police stopped the woman’s vehicle later that morning for
reckless driving, and impounded the car to determine its owner.
Family members contacted Gun Barrel City police late that afternoon when
they found the woman gone and a message on her telephone from Seagoville
police about her car.
A search of the neighborhood followed, and the woman was discovered –
bruised and battered, but not seriously injured – at the bottom of the
Gun Barrel City firefighters rescued the woman, who was transported to a
Tyler hospital for treatment of her injuries.
Cannon has been jailed without bond since his arrest.
No burn ban, yet
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners took no action to institute a
30-day burn ban as requested by the Fire Marshal Stacy Glover on
Monday night, heavy rains peppered nearly every segment of the county,
especially in Commissioner Ronny Lawrence’ Precinct 3 and in Gun Barrel
“Ronny said the prayer for last Tuesday’s meeting and he asked for
rain,” County Judge David Holstein noted. And Monday night, I had to
pull over onto the side of the road, it was raining so hard,” he added.
Glover pointed out that the forecast for the next two weeks lists the
county in the second highest dryness category. She added that half the
counties in the state have issued a burn ban.
However, commissioners were vindicated in their decision as Wednesday’s
Keetch-Byram Drought Index listed Henderson County at 400-500, mid-range
for moisture content of vegetation through most the county. A reading of
600-700 is listed for the west side of Cedar Creek Lake, covering
Trinidad, Tool and Seven Points, where it borders Kaufman County.
Kaufman County instituted a 60-day burn ban beginning Aug. 4.
Commissioners pledged to keep the burn ban on the agenda for review
Two grass fires swept through lake area communities in the last two
weeks. Thirty to 40 acres were scorched in Payne Springs, last week
Tuesday, and 60 acres were blackened in Seven Points the week before.
Both were driven by gusting dry winds.
Though taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the burn ban, commissioners
agreed to refund overcharged property owners taxes totaling nearly
The Athens Best Western, Holiday Inn Express and the owner of several
undeveloped lakeside lots sued the appraisal board and won a favorable
The Cedar Creek Lake front lots values were reduced by $200,000 each.
In other business, commissioners:
• renewed a contract with the Attorney General regarding state cases and
local customer services.
• terminated its lessor relationship with owners of the public boat ramp
in Caney City, while the property changes hands. The county leases the
boat ramp at $10 per month, coming out of Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe
Hall’s budget, and is maintained in exchange for continued public
Hall said he spoke with the new owners and they are agreeable to
continuing the same arrangement with the county. The property is a
little less than an acre and will be affected by the bridge
construction, Hall noted.
• set a public hearing for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2. to set weight
limits at 40,000 pounds and 30 mph on CR 3412
• passed a resolution reflecting the completion of the sanitary sewer
system in Cedar Branch Park in Precinct 2.
• added the jail expansion to the current Orkin Pest Control contract
for an additional $149 a month and an initial treatment costing $270.
• approved a request from the City of Eustace for road repair assistance
on roads listed on the FEMA grant program.
Ten streets were listed. Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney noted the
repairs are on short distances on each road.
• accepted two replats of lots in The Pinnacle Club subdivision.
• approved budget amendments as presented.
• noted the price fluctuation of asphalt affecting the county’s request
for bids on prime coat and seal coat. “No one will bid it now,” Lawrence
• paid bills totaling $239,621.42.
proposes lower tax rate
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–Eustace School Board members unanimously approved a proposed tax
rate at a special called meeting Aug. 7.
As proposed, the Eustace Independent School District’s ad valorem tax
rate, $1.2580 per $100 valuation, would be a penny less than last year’s
However, the convoluted rules put forth by the State Comptroller’s
office will require the trustees to say they approve a tax increase,
EISD Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe explained during the 20-minute
Even though the rate will actually be 1 cent less, the average home
value in the district increased by about $5,000, so the district’s
effective tax rate (the rate required to bring in the same local
revenue) went down, Holcombe explained.
“Our tax values are up a little bit, from about $376 million to $419
million,” he said. “Our effective tax rate last year was $1.40, and we
weren’t anywhere close to $1.40.”
With the increase in value, the average homeowner will pay about $43
more in taxes – even with a lower rate – so that requires the “tax
increase” language in the board’s motion to set the official tax rate,
This year’s rollback rate, the tax rate that could trigger a rollback
election, is $1.2967, “and we won’t be close to that,” he said.
The decline comes in the Interest & Sinking (I&S) portion of the tax
rate, which goes to pay bond debt, Holcombe explained.
Due to the built-in variations in the bond payment package, this year’s
bond payments will total about $20,000 less than last year, which allows
the district to drop the rate a penny, he said.
The M&O (Maintenance and Operation) portion of the tax rate pays for
everything else, and will remain at $1.04 per $100, Holcombe said.
Although the district likely will have a smaller enrollment – and will
lose some state funding because of that – local funds and state funds
will still be fairly balanced, he added.
“We knew we were going to have enrollment issues, so we’ve been trying
to pare back on the budget,” Holcombe said. “Our budget is built on that
($1.04) M&O rate. The I&S rate will take care of itself.”
Trustees have their regular meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, but
will schedule a special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 26, in order to do some
last-minute adjustments on the 2007-08 budget (which closes Aug. 31),
and officially set the tax rate and budget for the coming school year.