Thursday, September 4, 2008

     

 

 

 

Witness sought in fatal hit and run
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–In the early hours Friday morning, the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department received a call concerning a body in the emergency lane of East bound U.S. Highway 175, near Kemp.
Emergency personnel arrived on the scene approximately one mile west of The Store and found the body of a deceased woman lying on the left shoulder of the road.
She was later identified as 57-year-old Connie Shaw of Kemp.
Shaw was employed as a clerk at Harvey’s Exxon, located at U.S. 175 and State Highway 274 in Kemp, and is well-known in the community.
She was transported to the Dallas Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Texas Highway Patrol was contacted to help investigate the case, Kemp Police Chief Richard Clemmo said.
The case is being treated as a fatal hit and run.
Kemp Police are seeking help in locating a possible suspect or suspects.
Shaw’s car, a small white four-door compact, was found on the westbound side of U.S. 175, in the area of The Store, Clemmo said.
“She had been having car trouble for a couple of weeks,” he said.
Shaw may have tried to walk home, if that was the case, he added.
“The suspect vehicle possibly has damage on the driver’s side, consistent with striking a person at a high rate of speed,” Clemmo explained.
Information should be forwarded to the Kemp Police Department at (903) 498-8600.

Food pantries plead for more support
HC United Way sets goal of $167,000
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Five different food banks told Henderson County United Way board members their numbers are up sharply over last year and more help is needed.
The Mabank Area Good Samaritans reported servicing 759 families this year, spending $16,000 on food.
The organization considers itself an emergency food pantry, distributing three days worth of food once a month to those on file, J. Ethridge said.
An October food drive usually provides for the pantry through the end of the year, he added.
Difficult choices have had to be made by the Samaritans, a nine-church organization, such as eggs or peanut butter?
The Samaritans chose eggs. “If we had more funding, we’d get both,” he said.
However, food pantry clients are asking tougher questions, such as: “medicine or food?”
Presiding United Way board officer Kim Hodges/First State Bank said the rise in gas prices and electricity has also affected food prices.
“We are finding people in need all across the board, it’s not just the elderly,” she said.
Hodges said the board was planning on presenting checks to several food pantries within a few days to help them meet the increased demand for assistance.
The annual United Way fund drive is about to begin with a goal of raising $167,000 set to fund many worthwhile agencies in the county.
Gene McIntyre, a retired hospital administrator, has been overseeing a food pantry at the Eastern Hills Church of Christ in Athens for nearly eight years.
He said the pantry uses a donated semi-truck to pick up 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food a week.
“Last year, we averaged serving 127 families a week. This year, the average is up to 150,” he said.
“That equals 521 people. Yesterday, we served those people all in three hours,” he said. “That’s busy.”
The church pantry is funded by its members and several generous individuals.
Sue Ann Kosydar of the Pantry of Cedar Creek Lake, housed at the Cedar Creek Lake United Methodist Church in Tool and operated by five churches, is 20 years old and this is the first time it has seen such a large increase in the numbers of people coming, she said.
Last year, the pantry served 1,697 people. This year, the pantry surpassed that number by the end of July, she said.
The Care and Share Pantry, housed in the First Baptist Church of Gun Barrel City and operated by five churches, serves its client families once a month with 75 to 100 pounds of food, including frozen meats and meals, condiments and nonfood items such as toilet paper (when available) and cleaning products, Kenneth Cole said.
Like the Eastern Hills Church, it typically buys its food from the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler. Unfortunately, it is spending more than it is taking in donations, that average nearly $300 monthly. It also accepts an annual check from the Henderson County Triad and conducts year-round food drives through its member churches.
Ethridge of the Samaritans ended his presentation on a jovial note, telling how every morning a certain elderly woman would go out on her back porch and praise the Lord to the great annoyance of her unbelieving neighbor.
As time went by, the neighbor noticed that the old lady was having a hard time, so he bought her some groceries and placed them on her back porch.
The next morning when she came out to praise the Lord, she saw the groceries and praised him all the louder for his provision. At that, her neighbor answered that the Lord had nothing to do with it that he had provided the groceries.
The woman responded by praising the Lord more enthusiastically for providing the food and making the devil pay for it.
“Paying for the basic needs of our neighbors is going to take everyone’s help,” board member Ralph Monroe/Johnson Monroe said.
“If everyone pitches in a little, it will add up to a lot of needs being met,” he said.
He encouraged his fellow United Way pace setters to stir up the employees of their companies to give their “fair share,” defined as a donation of one hour’s wages a month, throughout the year through the annual United Way fund drive.

County readied for Gustav evacuees
No storm evacuees in Henderson, Kaufman emergency shelters
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Though no evacuees were sent to Henderson or Kaufman counties, a plan was in place to provide for their needs.
“This time around was much different than when Hurricane Katrina hit. It was as different as night and day,” Henderson County Judge David Holstein told The Monitor Tuesday.
Twice daily conference calls with state emergency management officials and weather experts over the Labor Day holiday kept everyone advised and ready to move.
Advanced planning on two possible scenarios were in place and ready to activate, should the storm have made landfall in Texas, Holstein said.
“There were plans for moving fuel trucks into the I-45 corridor for those evacuating from the coast, also food and water providers were set to move in,” he said.
Flooding scenarios were also discussed and planned out, he added.
As it turned out, Hurricane Gustav did not land in Texas nor at a large population center. Neither did it hit with the ferocity of a Category 4 storm, as feared.
National Weather Service storm expert Will Shaffer said the storm “skirted” Louisiana at “a gentler angle” than Katrina. It also came ashore as a Category 2 storm, weakening to a Category 1 a few hours later.
It landed 72 miles southwest of New Orleans near the fishing village Cocodree, La.
Officials fear that nearby Port Fourchon, a crucial pipeline hub for a large portion of the nation’s oil and gas industries, has been severely damaged. Early Tuesday, no word from the port was received.
The eye of the storm reportedly passed just 20 miles from the port.
In the state’s plan for housing evacuees from Louisiana, Henderson County shelters were designated for overflow traffic from shelters in Dallas and Tyler.
They would have gone to either the Lakeview Assembly of God Church in Seven Points or to the Lone Star Camp just outside of Athens with the American Red Cross springing into action, Holstein said.
“We are so far ahead of where we were during Katrina. The lessons learned from Katrina have been applied,” he said.
The requirements of the National Incident Management System have been adopted and training for volunteer firefighters and First Responders is ongoing.
Tuesday morning, Holstein met with Emergency Management Coordinator Joy Kimbrough to flesh out details on a county organizational chart, outlining who in the county is responsible for what in the event of an emergency.
The five-area chart breaks down chief responsibilities and responses further into levels, each reaching five departments or people each.
“You can never be too prepared,” Kimbrough said. “If you’re not constantly refining and making adjustments, you won’t be ready.”
September is national “Emergency Preparedness” month – a month marked with historical emergencies such as 9-11 in New York, 2001, and Katrina nearly three years ago to the day Gustav made landfall in the U.S.
In the Caribbean, 94 storm-related deaths were reported – here only seven were reported.


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