Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006



  Motorcycle collides with police car
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–A motorcyclist was released from East Texas Medical Center Tyler Tuesday, following a collision in front of Vetoni’s in Gun Barrel City Saturday.
Robert Luther, 25, a city resident, suffered torn ligaments to his right hand and knee, severe road rash head to toe and was given 13 staples to close a gash on his head.
Luther, a Tri-County Ford employee, had taken a quick trip to pick up some dinner for his wife and child around 4 p.m. Saturday.
“As I was approaching Vetoni’s, a police car pulled out right in front of me, and I couldn’t stop,” Luther told The Monitor.
The motorcycle hit the police car on the driver’s side rear quarter-panel and slid along the roadway.
Luther, who recently completed Emergency Medical Technician training for Payne Springs Fire and Rescue, was warned by his doctors to stay out of the sun for an entire year to avoid complications from his extensive skin abrasions.
They also estimated recuperation from his other injuries to take four to six weeks.
The Gun Barrel City police officer who was driving the patrol car was Dennis Wehland.
Repeated calls to the GBC police department went unreturned by press time Tuesday..
Luther was airlifted from the scene and taken to Tyler.

Courtesy Photo/Randy Harley
The aftermath of a collision between a motorcycle and a Gun Barrel City patrol car in front of Vetoni’s restaurant late Sunday saw authorities blocking the roadway, after a helicopter landed and transported the cyclist to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.


Murder suspect cleared in Terrell Pizza Hut killings
By Patricia Scalici
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Following an evidence hearing Tuesday for a September double homicide at the Terrell Pizza Hut, suspect Justin Prox was released.
Prox, a Terrell resident, was the only suspect to appear before Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Johnny Perry.
Two other suspects remain in custody at the Kaufman County Jail.
On Sept. 3, the bodies of Patricia Oferosky, 40, of Wills Point, and Steven Mitchelltree, 47, of Terrell, were found at the Pizza Hut, located in the 700 block of W. Moore Street.
Oferosky was an assistant manager, while Mitchelltree was employed as a delivery driver.
Their bodies were discovered at approximately 12:35 a.m. by a person looking for a relative, who did not work at the Pizza Hut.
The murders took place sometime the night before.
Less than one week after the murders, Anthony Holliman and Bianca Newman, both of Terrell, were arrested in connection with the incident.
By Sept. 10, Prox and Darius Hubbard, both from Terrell, separately turned themselves in to Terrell police in connection with the murders.
Neither the district attorney’s office, nor Terrell Police Department’s Lt. Richard Peevy would comment on the case thus far, due to the ongoing investigation.
Prox’s attorneys, Houston & Smith, stated the judge ordered his release after examining the evidence presented.
No trial date has been set.
Hubbard and Holliman remain in custody.


Animal control committee formed
Rules for Henderson County to be recommended
Joan B. Guertin
Monitor Correspondent

ATHENS–In an effort to resolve growing animal control issues across Henderson County, commissioners named a citizens committee Monday.
The committee was compared to the very successful jail advisory committee, County Judge David Holstein noted.
Obtaining valuable citizen input prior to beginning the jail expansion project paved the way to develop a facility that will meet the needs of all county residents, Holstein said.
The 11-member animal control committee is charged with identifying the issues and researching possible solutions to the growing stray dog population.
The diverse demographics of Henderson County may call for several ordinances, the commissioners noted in the discussion.
Some regulations would target rural areas, where many dogs are used in ranching operations, while a different set of rules might address animal control issues in heavily populated areas.
To aid in the research, the committee will develop a mission statement, propose guidelines for animal control and examine existing ordinances from Smith, Kaufman and Ellis counties.
Citizens named to the committee are Orville Bevel, Faye Brinigar, Ed Busch, Janeen Gledhill, Joan Guertin, Gene Holland, Norma Lambert, Paul Redic, Carolyn Suggs, Tibby Cole and Larry West.
Sheriff’s deputies John Haverly and Eric Ward, who work animal control, will serve as advisors to the committee, which expects to begin meeting in the very near future.
In other business, the commissioners:
• approved the Texas Association of Counties recommendation of the Aetna-sponsored County Choice Silver High Plan as the primary program for retired county employees. This program includes a drug and optical plan. Those retirees who prefer the Basic plan can opt to do so.
• approved the use of a $42,217 Indigent Defense Grant, and authorized Holstein to request the grant on behalf of the county.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney observed that prior to the inception of the state-mandated grant process, the county had no problem in meeting the costs of indigent defense.
• accepted a rental increase for two rooms at Cain Center for the Attorney General’s office for 2007. Due to lack of space within the courthouse, District Court is held in Rooms A and C twice monthly. The new rate reflects an increase from $206.25 to $243.75 per court session.
• approved a reciprocal agreement with the Community Supervision and Corrections Department for fiscal year 2007.
Commissioners agreed the arrangement works well, with fines and probate collections up.
• approved a parking lease contract with Keep Athens Beautiful for 14 parking spaces on Prairieville Street for $1,200 a year.
• approved a change order on the jail expansion project to stabilize a retaining wall. Soil samples indicate that existing conditions will not offer sufficient stability, commissioners heard.
This contingency was accounted for in the original bid. Financial changes are within the contingency fund.
• approved payroll changes as requested.
• paid bills totaling $82,419.06.


Look at that!

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Keagan Steele, who turns 2 in January, points dad toward another attraction at the annual Halloween festivities at the Mabank Pavilion Tuesday. Keagan is the son of Randall Steele of Mabank and Shannon Darnell.


Work begins on Kings Creek bridge
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–Weather permitting, construction work will finally begin on the Kings Creek Bridge, located on State Highway 274 outside Kemp.
The project signs went up Wednesday, project manager Larry Estes said.
The schedule calls for actual construction to start with some shoulder work Monday, Nov. 6, he added.
“But of course, everything depends on the weather,” he said.
Traffic was moved to one side of the bridge in May, 2003, following an engineering report the bridge was unsafe.
Plans call for the bridge to be totally replaced and a left turn lane added on the westbound approach (for Farm-to-Market 148) and an eastbound right turn lane to FM 148, assistant area engineer for Kaufman County Brenda Calloway explained in an earlier interview.
Estmated completion time is 31 months, she added.