Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 30, 2014

Trespassing

Man seen on old hospital roof

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The old Henderson County Hospital on Lindsey Drive has long been a target for intruders who come to vandalize the building or pull wiring from the walls.

Now that plans are in the works to renew the building and put it to use, the new owners are intent on keeping trespassers out. Athens Police Chief Buddy Hill said a trespasser was arrested there on Saturday, and more could come if the unwelcome visitors don’t get the message.

“We received a call on Saturday about a man on the roof of the hospital,” Hill said. “Officers responded, and they found a man on the roof and ordered him down.”

Officer Michael Reynolds arrested 50-year-old James Keith Stacks for criminal trespass. He was booked into the Henderson County Jail, and remained in custody on Thursday, with bond set at $3,000.

Hill said the old hospital is 

surrounded by a fence with several signs warning trespassers to keep off the property.  Police contacted the owner of the property, who said the man did not have permission to be on the grounds, and wished to have the intruder prosecuted.

Hill also wanted to assure residents that reside near the hospital building that APD regularly checks the area, and will continue to make arrests if unauthorized individuals are found there. In the past, APD has made arrests there for copper theft, and in 2006, a person was electrocuted there while cutting away wiring.

The Memorial Hospital was built in 1948, and closed in the 1980s, following the construction of East Texas Medical Center. In 2007, the county paid more than $100,000 to have asbestos removed from the structure, a prerequisite to demolition. The building won a last-minute reprieve when a buyer came forward for the property.  The property was sold to Babit L.L.C in 2012.