People, Places & Events


Eight arrested on federal conspiracy drug charges
By Sheila Kunick
Monitor Correspondent

VAN ZANDT-Eight people were arrested May 9 on federal drug conspiracy charges.
The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office working in conjunction with the Texas Department of Public Safety – Narcotics Unit, U.S. Federal Marshals, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office worked together to bring this intensive investigation closer to completion.
A total of nine federal sealed grand jury indictments were issued for the suspects. The investigation is still ongoing, however, and other arrests will be made.
Three of the suspects – Ronald Greg Null, 53, Canton; Rannell Grace Payne, 26, Campbell; and Rodney Ray West, 20, Dallas – were arrested on May 9.
Null and Payne also have pending drug charges in Kaufman County.
The other suspects, Julie Darlene Null, 41, Myrtle Springs; Randy Lynn Williams, 40, Canton; Kyle Rodney Wilson, 40, Bronson; Thomas Jean Hill, 47, Whitney; and Clayton Don Penix, 25, Mabank; were already in custody when the conspiracy charges were added to their existing charges.
Erica Delores Hernandez, Dallas, is still wanted in connection with this investigation.
Anyone with information on Hernandez are encouraged to contact the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office or CrimeStoppers.
The suspects are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substance, methamphetamine, and use of communication facilities to facilitate the commission of a felony.
“A lot of man-hours went into this investigation, and a lot of hard work by some very dedicated officers made this investigation a success,” Van Zandt County Sheriff R.P. “Pat” Burnett said.
The majority of the suspects were already in jail. DPS and Van Zandt County officers made the two additional arrests on State Highway 198. A third suspect was arrested in Dallas, he added.
“The DPS Narcotics Division is housed here, they train our officers. We share intelligence with each other. It is a very hand-in-hand operation. We use DPS protocol. We are coming into the modern age of drug enforcement here in Van Zandt County. This is an ongoing investigation – this is not the last that you are going to hear of this. We are not just trying to get the little guy on the street, but we are going to the top,” Burnett added.
Each of the suspects arrested face 10 years to life on the charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Prior criminal history will also play a part in the sentencing. Each of the defendants have lengthy criminal histories.
The telephone conspiracy charge is five years per call, if convicted.
One of the defendants grossed $300,000 in one year from methamphetamine sales, most conducted over the phone.
“A majority of these suspects are Van Zandt County residents. These people were major suppliers in this area, and it will make it more difficult to get methamphetamine in Van Zandt County with these defendants off the street,” Burnett said.
An undercover DPS Narcotics officer on the scene said that this type of investigation and arrests sends a strong message to the distributors and dealers in the area.
He gave a warning to drug dealers and distributors in the area, “The next five words that you will hear, is ‘Will the defendant please rise’.”


Green selected as Texas Rising Star
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Athens attorney Steven R. Green has been selected as a Texas Rising Star by Texas Monthly magazine.
Green was designated a Rising Star in the criminal defense category for the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
He was the only lawyer from Henderson County and from East Texas named in this category.
The announcement was published in the March issue of Texas Monthly as well as a special publication of Texas Monthly titled “Law and Politics.”
Texas Rising Stars are outstanding young attorneys representing a wide range of practice areas, firm sizes and geographic locations.
Green is a 1984 graduate of Mabank High School, a 1991 graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler and a 1997 graduate of Texas Wesleyan school of law.
He practices law in Athens with attorneys Mike Head, Nolan Wickel and Brian Schmidt, practicing criminal, family and general civil litigation.
He resides in Athens with his wife, Janet and daughter Lauren.
He also serves on the board of directors for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as well as the Athens Country Club and he is second vice president for the Tyler Lone Star Chapter of Football Officials.


CCL Library sets summer reading program schedule
Special to The Monitor
SEVEN POINTS–The Library at Cedar Creek Lake has released its Summer Reading Schedule, featuring free programs for area youth.
Special Performers at 10 a.m. Tuesdays:
• June 6 – Celtic folk guitarist and recording artist Jeb Marum.
• June 13 – Henderson County Performing Arts Center presents “The Brothers Grimm.”
• June 20 – Logan the Juggler.
• June 27 – Ventriloquist Cindy Robinson.
• July 11 – Dog Show presented by Joan Guertin.
Story Time is set for 10 a.m. Wednesdays
• For ages 3-6 – Story Time with Miss Linda (Story Time with Miss Kathy in July)
• For ages 10 and up, Film Production Workshop.
• For ages 7-9
June 7 and June 14 – Volcanoes
June 21 – Let’s Get Gross and Ice Cream in a Bag
June 28 – Let’s Make Waves and Tornadoes
A children’s Spanish class is being set up. Contact The Library for details
Tuition Programs
• Etiquette, Acting and Modeling Workshop (Youth Only). Class limited to 10 students – cost $75. Get registration forms at The Library.
Classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. two Saturdays, June 10 and 24. $75.
• Youth Acting Classes. Class limited to 20 students – cost $100. Get registration forms at The Library.
Lessons will be held Monday, July 17, through Friday, July 28. Ages 8-12 will meet from 9 a.m. to noon, with age 13-18 meeting from 1-5 p.m.