Pace quickens on jail construction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kerry Craig   
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 13:55

Trucks were lining up and a big crane was in place this week at the construction site for the new Hopkins County jail. For most of Monday, 18-wheelers were sitting in queue to have reinforced concrete roofing panels lifted off and set into place on the new jail and, at the same time, other construction workers were making preparation for the walls on the office portion of the facility. Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom said construction is still running a few days behind schedule, but it’s not of great concern a this time. “My understanding is we're still 19 days behind schedule,” Newsom said. “We have had a real rainy winter that we are grateful for, but a the same time, they are a little bit behind.” With warmer temperatures and no rain this week, Newsom and Sedalco Construction Superintendent Gary Johnson expect to see even more progress. “We are excited that they are starting to pour more concrete, especially with the weather warming up, and they are trying to complete that,” the judge continued. “They are working on the walls and now, they are working on the roof.” With the roof in place and workers in the dry, it is expected that work will move at a more rapid place. “Once they get the roof and walls complete, nothing will slow them down,” Newsom said. “Once they are out of the weather, they can really make some progress. We expect to get our days back, and we will be planning to move in this coming October.”

Additional charge filed in Friday incident at Walmart PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kerry Craig   
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 13:54

Sulphur Springs Police Investigator David Gilmore said additional charges have been filed in connection with a Friday night incident at the Walmart store. Hollis Blaine Sartin, 40, of Pickton was served with a third-degree felony warrant for terroristic threat Tuesday afternoon. “Since the incident, we have been looking at different charges and working with the district attorney's office trying to determine which charge would be most appropriate for what happened at Walmart that night, besides the obvious charge of the stolen vehicle,” Gilmore said. “The terroristic threat statute itself holds several different levels, misdemeanors and felonies,” Gilmore said. “This particular charge is a felony three, placing the public or substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury . I think we easily reached that threshold with what [Sartin's] actions were out there Friday night.” Sartin was being held in lieu of $75,000 bond on the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge when the terroristic charge was filed. After being arraigned on the additional charges Wednesday morning, an additional bond of $35,000 was set for the man. Sartin was identified using store video as the man who parked a stolen pickup in front of the grocery side entrance at Walmart, then was seen holding what appeared to be a pistol as he entered the store about 10:15 p.m. Friday. The store was evacuated while police, deputies, troopers and the local special response team searched it to ensure the man did not remain inside. A review of additional cameras later Friday night showed the man made his way from the grocery side of the store walking, and at times lightly running, to the automotive exit, which was locked. He then went behind the counter into the parts storage area and out of the building. A warrant was obtained for Sartin's arrest as he was identified as the driver of the pickup, which came back as having been stolen from Arkansas Thursday. Sheriff's officials got a call about 6:15 a.m. Saturday that the man was seen in shorts, barefoot leaving Walmart in another vehicle headed toward State Highway 11 east, the direction of his residence. Deputies went to his address, where they saw him running toward his residence. He was taken to a State Highway 154 location, where he directed officers under a bridge where they found a firearm, which he said was the one from the Walmart incident Friday night. The weapon, according to police reports Saturday, was a BB gun or pellet-type air pistol. Jail records show numerous prior arrests on Sartin's record, which could result in the stolen vehicle charge being enhanced.

Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Bluff announce school science fair winners, regional qualifiers PDF Print E-mail
Written by From Staff Reports   
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:33

Sulphur Bluff and Sulphur Springs Elementary schools have announced two students each who are advancing to the regional science fair contest after earning top honors at the school contest; top winners from each level were also announced.

County seeking novel way to pay for jail construction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kerry Craig   
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:09

Members of Hopkins County Commissioners Court were in Austin last week to meet with State Rep. Dan Flynn and State Sen. Bob Hall seeking support for proposed legislation that could change the way the county pays for the new county jail. Just more than a year ago, county voters approved a $16 million bond issue to fund construction of a new county detention center. To repay the loan, a majority of county voters agreed to a six-cent increase in the county's ad valorem tax rate. However, County Judge Robert Newsom said county officials proposed an idea to lawmakers which calls for the use of money generated by the half-cent sales tax the county collects on retail sales to help pay the jail bonds. “Our proposal is that we would like to lower that property tax by using our half-cent sales tax,” Newsom said. “This could well bring in enough money to pay our annual debt on the jail, which is a 20-year note.” A number of years ago, the legislature and voters statewide gave approval to a measure that enabled counties to collect the half-cent sales tax with the proviso that it be used to reduce property taxes. The amount of sales tax collected by entities in the county is capped at 2 percent and the county collects the half-cent. Newsom said the annual bond payments for the jail project run about $1 million and the sales tax should easily offset that amount. In the past 12 years, the sales tax money received by the county has averaged just over $1.549 million per year. “We are going to ask the legislature, for our particular county for this particular project, to be able to raise another half-cent for this project,” Newsom said. “As taxpayers know very well, once a tax is inaugurated, it's rare that you ever see a tax go down or go away. In this case, it would written into the law that once the project is finished, the 20-year program of paying for this jail, the sales tax would automatically revert to a half-cent, property taxes would remain the same or whatever is necessary to maintain the rest of the county.But, this 20-year loan, $16 million that has been borrowed by the county to pay for this jail through a sales tax, would actually pay for the jail itself.” The commissioners court said the concept would more fairly distribute the $16 million debt to all county residents, not just the property owners. To further explain, Newsom offered this analogy. “Let's say a person who doesn't own any property, let's say he just got out of jail on bond and goes to a store and buys cigarettes or a case of beer — whatever he buys, he will pay a sales tax. More than likely, he may never pay a property tax,” he said. “So, what we are trying to do is shift the burden of paying for that jail to all the citizens rather than just the property owners.” The proposed legislation still must be written and introduced in both houses of the state legislature. If the measure is approved, it still must go before voters before property owners will see any relief from the additional six-cent increase in their tax rate.

More charges may stem from Walmart incident PDF Print E-mail
Written by From Staff Reports   
Monday, 26 January 2015 15:35

Hollis Blaine Sartin, the 40-year-old Sulphur Springs man arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle Saturday morning, could face additional charges related to the Walmart evacuation late Friday night.

Cumby ISD board extends Slaughter’s contract PDF Print E-mail
Written by From Staff Reports   
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:46

Trustees at Cumby Independent School District this month showed their approval of Shelly Slaughter’s job performace, extending her four-year contract as superintendent by an additional year.

Miller Grove students place in UIL competition PDF Print E-mail
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Written by From Staff Reports   
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:29

Miller Grove Elementary and Junior High students came home from their recent UIL competition with more than 30 individual awards and had one team earn top honors.

Saltillo man jailed for holding woman against her will PDF Print E-mail
Written by From Staff Reports   
Monday, 26 January 2015 15:36

A Saltillo man was jailed Sunday afternoon for allegedly kidnapping a woman and holding her against her will at his residence.

Filing opens Wednesday for city, hospital elections PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kerry Craig   
Monday, 26 January 2015 14:32

The 2015 political season officially opens Wednesday with the start of filing for places on Sulphur Springs City Council and for the Board of Directors for Hopkins County Memorial Hospital District. The filing period will continue through Friday, Feb. 27. In the city election, three city council seats — Place 1 held by Craig Johnson, Place 2 held by Clay Walker and Place 3 held by Oscar Aguilar — will be on the ballot. Two at-large seats on the hospital board will be on that ballot. Those seats are currently held by Suzanne Thomas Bankston, who has indicated she will file for reelection, and by Dr. David Black. Prospective candidates for the city election may file their intentions with City Secretary Gale Roberts at Sulphur Springs City Hall, 201 North Davis St. Prospective candidates for one of the two at-large seats on the hospital board may sign up at the administration offices at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. The filing period for the May 9 elections begins Wednesday and will continue through Friday, Feb. 27. School Board Filing for candidacy in upcoming school trustees elections will get underway at three local school districts, also going from Jan. 28 until Feb. 27. Elections will be held on Saturday, May 9, if required. To file for one of the two seats up for election in Sulphur Springs Independent School District, candidate packets are available at and can be returned to the SSISD Tax Office, located on the first floor of SSISD Administration Building, 631 Connally St., during regular business hours. The two spots are for full three-year terms on the school board. Don Sapaugh and Jason Dietze currently serve in those positions Filing for the three spots on Yantis ISD’s Board of Trustees begins Wednesday in the administration office. Filing continues weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Feb. 27. See Kristi Beech for more information. Currently serving in those seats are Tonya Norris, Corey Ogle and Dr. Boyd McCreight. Candidate filing for four seats on Como-Pickton CISD Board of Trustees also begins Jan. 28 in the administration office. Each position is for a full, four-year term on the board. Currently serving in those CPCISD board seats are Shawn Carpenter, J.J. Cummings, Mark Humphrey and Gerald Walters.

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