Thursday, March 9, 2006



  Brown edges by Gent
Incumbent State Rep wins by 579 votes out of more than 11,500 cast
In a very narrow victory, incumbent State Rep. Betty Brown edged past first-time political challenger Wade Gent in Tuesday’s Republican Primary election.

Harrison, McLelland in runoff for Kaufman County DA
Incumbent DA Walton misses cut
Kaufman District Attorney Ed Walton lost his bid for re-election in Tuesday’s Republican Primary.
His opponents, Rick Harrison and Mike McLelland, will face each other in a runoff Tuesday, April 11.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 post goes to runoff
A four-candidate race for the Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace position being vacated by retiring judge Judy Newman will go to a runoff Tuesday, April 11.
Tommy Barnett and Pam Underhill will face each other in the runoff.

Holstein turns back Jones challenge
Incumbent Henderson County Judge David Holstein turned back a strong challenge from former interim judge Aubrey Jones Jr. Tuesday.

Moore wins 173rd
Appointed incumbent Dan Moore secured the position of 173rd District Judge Tuesday by turning back a challenge by Mark W. Hall.

More details can be found in the print edition of the Thursday, March 9, issue of The Monitor.


Henderson County Lifts Burn Ban
Commissioners Consider New Cellular Service
By Diane Murray
Monitor Correspondent

ATHENS-The burn ban is officially lifted for Henderson County. 
The decision was made over the objections of Fire Marshal Bobby Calder during the commissioners' regular session Monday. 
While the burn ban has been an on-again/off-again weekly agenda item for some time, Henderson County is one of the last remaining East Texas counties to lift its burn ban.
"It is still the same (drought) index rating it was a few weeks ago," Calder pointed out to County Judge David Holstein. (The county's drought index remained high even after recent heavy rainfalls.)
"I recommend that we keep the ban for a little longer," he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronnie Lawrence argued for lifting the ban.
"We have had enough rain, and I think it has been there long enough. After all, the other counties have lifted their bans," he said.
Confusion exists over agricultural burning being allowed, "and people are burning stuff everywhere," he added.
"I want to make a motion to take the ban off," Lawrence said.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry West quickly seconded the motion 
"I am ready to take this off, too. Things are greening up. But I want to caution everyone to burn carefully," Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said during the discussion.
The vote to remove the ban was unanimous.
"Please tell the people to burn responsibly," Holstein instructed the press in attendance.
"The last time people were so anxious to burn that they were burning trash in high winds, just put this in bold writing, burn with responsibility."
In citizen's comments, Payne Springs city councilman J.T. Noble again expressed concern about the lighting of boat docks on Cedar Creek Lake, and repeated his request that the county do something about it.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall and McKinney agreed to take a boat ride with Noble Wednesday evening to see for themselves. 
"If it's as bad as what we hear, we will get the facts to Tarrant County Regional Water District and insist they enforce the current state regulations," McKinney said.
The last part of the meeting considered switching the county's current cellular phone service carrier, Alltel, to Cellular One, or another company.
County Auditor Wesley Johnston recommended Cellular One, to save the county money. 
Cellular One is proposing a flat monthly rate of $50 per phone, as long as calls remain in Texas.
"The flat rate means there is no need for nights and weekend rates, or cell phone to cell phone free minutes," Cellular One Business Manager Danny Lee explained.
The county will get a flat rate that reflects a 12 percent discount, if in addition, 50 percent of the county's employees sign up for a personal cell phone account, to be billed separately. 
County employees also will receive a 12 percent discount.
This offer is restricted to employees only, not other family members, commissioners heard.
Each employee signing up will have to offer proof of county employment, Lee explained.
This would save the county at least $800 to $900 a month on cell phone billing, Holstein noted.
Johnston assured the commissioners it would save the county that much money or more. Each month, the number of cell phone minutes used has increased, he added, driving up county bills.
The commissioners voted to accept the bid, on condition all paperwork be ready to sign by next week's meeting. 


Going the Last Mile of the Way

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Area firefighters accompany former Gun Barrel City Fire Marshal James M. "Butch" Grant's flag-draped coffin north on State Highway 198 through Mabank Friday, enroute to High Cemetery in Van Zandt County.


Poker Turns Deadly
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS-A Chandler man is in custody after being charged Monday with the murder of a Murchison man.
At about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Bryan Lee Thompson, 35, of Chandler called 911 from the Turn Fork Liquor Store on Farm-to-Market Road 314 at FM 315 and reported he had shot another man.
Coffee City Police Officer Shawn Soley, Henderson County Patrol Sgt. Ronny Halbert and Deputy John Bell met Thompson at the store.
Thompson led officers to a Moore Station community residence about 1.5 miles north of the store. The house did not have a telephone.
Sheriff's Investigator Kevin Hanes and Lt. Dan Parker also responded with Texas Ranger Trace McDonald to the crime scene.
Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Judge Sue Tarrant pronounced Randy Lee Meador, 47, of Murchison dead at the scene. It is believed that Meador died as a result of a single 12-gauge shotgun blast to the chest.
Tarrant ordered an autopsy to be performed by Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas.
Investigators believe Meador and Thompson were two of five guests who had been invited to a poker party at the residence. Further, they likely had not met prior to that night.
Both men had been consuming alcohol.
Thompson got an "eerie feeling" about Meador and decided to remove a 12-gauge pump shotgun from the residence to hide it outside.
Meador followed him outside, where an argument and struggle developed. It was during this struggle, investigators allege, that the weapon discharged, striking Meador in the chest.
Thompson was arrested on charge of murder and is being held in the Henderson County Jail with bail set at $100,000.
Hanes is the lead investigator in the case. His final investigation report will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for later review by a grand jury.