The Henderson County Commissioners Court set May 11 elections for two proposed emergency services districts on the east side of the county.
Voters in the Westside Volunteer Fire Department area on the west side of Lake Palestine will decide whether to create ESD No. 6. The territory served by the Murchison Volunteer Fire Department will cast ballots on whether to launch ESD 8.
Emergency services districts are political subdivisions of the state entrusted with providing emergency medical and fire services to many unincorporated areas.
During a public hearing on whether to set boundaries for ESD 6, Westside Volunteer Fire Department Chief Doug Nicholson said help is needed to raise revenues to build a second fire station. That station could respond in parts of the district that are blocked by portions of the lake.
“About 20 percent of our boundaries are covered by water,” Nicholson said. “There’s a big issue there as far as response time.”
In November 2011, voters defeated ESD 6 by a 49-41 count.
In other action, Commiss-ioners voted to accept the Fiscal Year 2013 Indigent Defense Formula Grant. The county’s share of the grant funds is $67,511. Jennifer Nicholson, who coordinates grants for the auditor’s office, said the total is a big jump from 2012. Despite the increase, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Wade McKinney said the funds are a drop in the bucket compared with the amount the county spends.
According to the Texas Fair Defense Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that indigent persons accused of a crime in a state court have the right to court-appointed counsel. Texas funneled the responsibility down to the counties to help supply legal counsel for indigent defense.
“They have shortchanged the counties for years,” McKinney said. “It’s a major unfunded mandate.”
Nicholson said the state has helped offset some of Henderson County’s spike in indigent defense costs through equalization payments. The equalization payments are intended to help counties with the largest percentage increases in indigent defense costs. Last year, Henderson County’s total of grant funds and equalization payments was about $61,000.
Commissioners also voted to:
• sell a 1991 Chevrolet dump truck to the City of Payne Springs for $7,500;
• accept a $1,000 donation for the Henderson County Clint Murchison Library;
• approve a proclamation setting March 2 as Texas Independence Day; and
• authorized payment of bills in the amount of $477,900.66.
County sets ESD elections
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Fighting for life
Family and friends have rallied around 20-year old Aaron Jenkins.
Three weeks ago Jenkins, a Mabank resident and former Trinity Valley Community College student, was diagnosed with liver cancer.
Aaron's Aunt Sheila Guill said, “He's pretty sick, but Aaron has a high pain tolerance and doesn't complain.”
Lake Palestine, Athens above levels, CCL close
Lakes Athens and Palestine are above their normal levels, while Cedar Creek Lake to the west still needs a good downpour to close the gap.
On Monday, when the average Texas lake stood at just 64.3 percent of full. Lake Athens had a reading of 440.06 feet, just above its average.
Three arrested for drugs
Drug offenses led to three Athens Police Department arrests over the weekend according to reports.
The first incident on Friday night resulted in the arrest of Joshua Paul Rogers, 25, for evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Rogers remained in custody on Monday, with bond set at $9,000 on the two charges.
County unemployment edges upward
Henderson County unemployment edged upward in January, falling between the state and national rates.
The January Texas Workforce Commission Report, issued on Friday, gave Henderson County a 6.1 percent reading, after a 6.0 percent rate in December. The national unemployment figure was 7.1 percent, while Texas enjoyed its lowest mark since 2008, 5.7 percent.
O’KEEFFE coming to Malakoff, April 12
Carolyn Wickwire will star in the one-woman play O’Keeffe! by Lucinda McDermott, presented by the Greater Malakoff Area Garden Club and the Malakoff Historical Society in partnership with Flower and Bone Productions, directed by Ouida White.
Color run coming to Athens
Have you been seeing those pictures on the internet of people in wild costumes, running through clouds of neon pink, blue, purple, and green and coming out looking like a rainbow?
If you have, you’ve been looking at the hottest thing to hit the walking and running world – the color run. And it’s coming to Athens on March 22 to benefit Hope Springs Water and celebrate International World Water Day.
AISD students honored for reading challenge
To get kids excited about reading and encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children, the National Education Association launched the first NEA's Read Across America day in 1998.
On March 3, NEA's Read Across America marked 17 years of celebrating reading and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
Athens Independent School District participated in the event, but added a twist to encourage students to read more often.
The minimum standard for living
The average minimum wage worker renting a living space in Henderson County will spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on their home.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports Henderson County renters would have to work 85 hours at minimum wage for a two bedroom apartment. Of the six counties in the 5th Congressional District, Henderson ranks second, behind Dallas, for the most hours required.
Chandler, BMC to settle contract
Since the beginning of the year, Chandler city officials and leaders of the Brownsboro-Murchison-Chandler Youth Foundation have worked to finalize an agreement on use of the facilities at Winchester Park.
County preparing to address roads
With hundreds of miles of pavement to deal with, three Henderson County Road and Bridge Precincts may soon be getting a tool to help them keep track of the tasks involved.
The Henderson County Information Technology Committee discussed on Wednesday whether to acquire Precinct Tracker software and will present its findings to Commissioners Court.
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