Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 16, 2013

A Cat worth $132K

Sheriff’s request for armored vehicle OKd

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — The Henderson County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to allow the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a fortified vehicle.

Sheriff Ray Nutt said although the HCSO has an agreement to use the Lenco BearCat stationed at the Tyler Police Department, there are scenarios where the two-and-a-half hour trip it takes for the vehicle to get to  Henderson County might put lives in danger.

“If we were in a situation where an officer was wounded, we wouldn’t have a way to get to him if there was a contingency of gunfire,” Nutt said.

Nutt said that in a crisis situation, he might have to make the decision to take action before the vehicle could arrive.

Nutt said the refurbished, armored vehicle will cost $132,000 and should be delivered in June or July. The Sheriff’s Office has $90,000 in its 2013 budget for vehicles. The remainder of the cost will be financed and paid out over the next two years.

Tyler PD purchased its BearCat for about $253,000 with funds from a Justice Assistance Grant. The grant was administered through the state  and the East Texas Council of Governments. TPD stated in its grant application that the armored vehicle would be available for departments in other counties in the region.

The BearCat was pressed into service on Oct. 22, 2010,  when Tyler Police brought it to Henderson County to assist authorities as they went to meet survivalist Howard Granger. Granger  had allegedly shot and killed Ben Gill Clements, son of former Texas Gov. Bill Clements, the day before.

When law officers arrived at his property south of Athens, Granger fired mulitple rounds into the BearCat, including several that struck the thick safety glass windshield. The vehicle protected the officers until one fatally wounded Granger.

Commissioners also approved a resolution authorizing a 30-percent collection fee on delinquent debts and accounts receivable. The item was requested by the Austin-based firm Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson LLP. The firm will begin collecting fees for the county this year on fines and fees more than 60 days late.

In other action, Commissioners voted to:

• appoint Armando Rincon and Meredith Lemon to unexpired terms on the Clint W. Murchison Library Board;

• approve the 2013 bonds and oaths taken by county officials sworn in for new terms this year;

• approve property re-sale of two lots in Woodland Hills located near Cedar Creek Lake in Precinct 2; and

• authorized payment of $192,760 in bills incurred in 2012 and $116,993.50 for bills for 2013.