Cherokeean/Herald (Rusk, Tex.), Vol. 150, No. 18, Ed. 1 Thursday, June 24, 1999 Page: 1 of 16
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1627 ; fANDEwl OR
Texas' Oldest, Continuously Published Weekly Newspaper - Established Feb. 27, 1850 as the Cherokee Sentinel
Grand Jurv Report
Cherokee County returns 35
indictments this week
see page 11
Vol. 150, No. 18-16 Pages
Thursday, June 24, 1999
Rusk, Texas 75785
see page 2
Remembering a Giant...
Flags at Rusk State Park flew at half mast
following the death of Texas statesman
See commentary on Lt. Gov. Bullock's
contributions to Cherokee County on
Texas State Railroad posts
best ridership in 8-9 years
Ridership at the Texas State Railroad is up by
1,200 when compared to a year ago.
"It's been a wonderful spring, the best in eight or
nine years," said Mark Price, assistant superinten-
dent at the TSR.
He attributes the increase in attendance to a num-
ber of promotional activities, including the popular
"Boxcars, BBQ and the Bridge" in Rusk.
"I think they (the Rusk Chamber and Jerry
McDonald) beat on every door in Texas," said Mr.
Price. "We've gained a lot of name recognition this
The June issue of Texas Highways featured 10
pages on the Texas State Railroad, which was fol-
lowed with an editorial in The Dallas Morning News
declaring the tourist attraction a state treasure.
The Houston Chronicle recently featured a large
photograph and a five-paragraph write-up on the
TSR. Numerous other publications have followed
suit, including the Grand Prairie News and a publi-
See related photos on
"Boxcars, BBQ and Bridge,"
cation targeting senior citizens, Options at 50+.
June statistics will be available for the TSR at the
end of the month, but preliminary projections indi-
cate that ridership will be up 2,000 for the month.
During the extreme drought of 1998, only 3,500
visitors rode the TSR in June, while an estimated
5,500 will have ridden the rails during the same
period this year.
"We've spent a lot of time at travel shows, particu-
larly in the Rio Grande Valley," said Mr. Price. He
hopes when "Winter Texans" make their way home to
northern states that they will map their trips through
It's "full steam ahead "for the Texas State Railroad
this summer, as the state's longest and skinniest
state park reports record mid-season ridership.
East Texas for a train ride and camper hook-up at the
Rusk-Palestine State Parks.
Please see TSR, page 15
MADD observes local DWI court case
I Jury finds Bristow
guilty of 1998 DWI case
A Jacksonville man was found guilty Wednesday
of felony driving while intoxicated charges stem-
ming from a September 1998 car accident that
injured a Neches woman and her children.
Jeffery Lynn Bristow, 37, was charged with run-
ning a red light at the corner of Bolton and Rusk
streets in Jacksonville, colliding with a vehicle
driven by Amy Coffin. After assessing his condi-
tion, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated
by the Jacksonville Police Department.
The jury of eight women and four men listened as
witnesses testified to Mr. Bristow's condition on the
afternoon of the incident. His blood-alcohol level
was assessed at .20, twice the legal Tipnit.
Mr. Bristow has two prior DWI convictions and
Please see BRISTOW, page 15
I Mothers Against Drunk
Driving pleased with
Cherokee Co. jury's ruling
Few courtroom spectators were happier to hear
the guilty verdict given by a Cherokee County jury
in a drunk driving case last Wednesday than
Melinda Perkins Mitchell. "It sends a message in
Cherokee County," said the president of the East
Texas Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
Outside the courthouse, Amy Coffin, one of the
accident victims, said she was glad for the convic-
tion "that might keep him from driving drunk and
killing someone next time. It's not about him, it's
about Cherokee County doing the right thing."
After the car they were riding in was struck by
drunk driver Jeffery Bristow last September, Mrs.
Coffin's children began experiencing anxiety about
even riding in a car again. Her daughter suffered
from spinal cord damage and injury to her knees that
still require braces for support. The wreck also
totalled the family car.
The number of cases pending in Cherokee County
meant Bristow's case might not see the light of day
for months, perhaps years, and Mrs. Coffin wanted to
give her family closure.
MADD returns to Cherokee County
for Red Ribbon day Friday
She took action. County officials offered little sup-
port when she spoke with the prosecutor's office, said
Mrs. Coffin. She was informed that Mr. Bristow pled
guilty and would receive ten years for a prior DWI.
He had twice previously been convicted of DWI.
which established the felony charge. He was also on
probation for assaulting a police officer. Later she
Please see MADD, page 15
TDCJ prison warden employs unique management style
By Wanda Rawls
SPECIAL TO THE CHEROKEEAN/HERALD
f the Skyview and Hodge prison
units were a city, then .Warden
Pamela Williams would be the
Overseeing 5,452 meal trays daily,
and providing leadership to almost
1,000 employees and 1,517 inmate
offenders requires keen manage-
ment skills. But Ms. Williams is
ready for the challenge as she began
the first month of her new job June
Skyview and Hodge represent Ms.
Williams' fourth assignment as a
warden. She replaced Warden
Sharron Disongh, who retired last
month after a 19-year career with
the state of Texas.
"Warden Dishongh was one of the
most professional people I have ever
known. I really admired the way she
took care of her business. And I'm
hoping and praying that I can fill
her shoes. It's going to be a hard job,
but with God'a help I'm sure that
will happen," Warden Williams said.
She brings a unique management
style and philosophy to Rusk. Her
policy is to meet every new employee
and each new offender who enters her
"I personally talk to all new employ-
ees and new offenders who come in," she
And in her 17-year career with TDCJ,
Ms. Williams said she has seen a
remarkable change in a number of
offenders as time goes by. "I don't mean
to say that all the improvements were
to my credit, but I believe that (taking
the time to meet with them) was a big
part," she said.
Warden Williams finds her job
fulfilling, particularly when she partici-
pates in turning an offender's life
around. She recalls one "bad actor" who
seemed to carry a chip on her shoulder.
"I discussed her situation with her.
And because of her behavior she was
not really qualified for a job other than
working in the fields. I went out on a
limb and gave her a job on our inside
yard squad. It really changed her
attitude," said the warden. "I don't
believe anyone ever took the time to
give her a chance, because she had a
reputation of being very disrespectful to
staff and to her fellow offenders."
When a weekend retreat option called
the Kairos Program became available,
Ms. Williams recommended the woman.
"She had children out there that she
had no desire to have contact with.
After the Kairos Program, she devel-
oped a relationship with her children,"
Warden Williams recalled. "Knowing
that someone trusted and believed in
her enough to give her a chance that
opened up a whole new world to her.
I'm pretty proud of her."
As a black woman working in an
environment once reserved for men, Ms.
Williams abides by the credo: "respect."
"My philosophy is to treat people the
way I want to be treated. And if you do
that, then things fall into place," she
said. "It has a lot to do with how you
conduct yourself. And I believe in
respecting all people. It doesn't make
any difference whether they're in a
white uniform (designated for inmates),
a gray uniform (for employees) or free-
Warden Williams derives satisfaction
from her work when she can see ex-
Please see WARDEN WILLIAMS, page 15
Warden Williams puts in some time behind her desk at the Skyview and
Hodge Units. However, she maintains a high profile on the two units, and
has a personal policy of meeting every new employee and each new
offender who enters the gates.
Man gets 45 years
for drug possession
Cherokee County 2nd Judi-
cial District Judge John Rob-
ert Adamson sentenced Stacey
O'Neal Anderson June 21 to
45 years confinement in the
Texas Department of Crimi-
nal Justice for charges of pos-
session of cocaine. A jury found
Mr. Anderson guilty on May
20. The case had been recessed
pending the completion of a
At the punishment hearing,
the state presented evidence
of three prior convictions by
Mr. Anderson including two
for delivery of cocaine.
The case was the result of a
combined law enforcement ef-
fort by the Jacksonville Police
Department and the Cherokee
County Sheriffs office.
"This case shows that the law
enforcement agencies of this
county will work together
against drug dealers," Chero-
kee County District Attorney
Jim Cromwell said.
The state was represented by
Assistant District Attorney
Elmer Beckworth and the de-
fendant by B.N. (Tuck) Tucker
Axley & Rode hired as Rusk's auditing firm
Mayor Emmett and three mem-
bers of the Rusk City Council met
briefly Tuesday morning to ap-
prove a contract with Axley & Rode
Certified Public Accountants of
Lufkin as the city's auditing firm.
Their bid was $6,500 for the city's
books and an extra $500 to do the
Rusk Economic Development Cor-
poration. The other firm submit-
ting a proposal was Henry & Pe-
ters of Tyler for $12,500 for both
the city and economic development
Accountants were interviewed
and no action taken at the council
meeting Thursday night. Repre-
sentatives from Axley & Rode of
Lufkin and Henry & Peters ofTyler
presented proposals of what they
would do for the city and their
The Rusk Industrial Develop-
ment Board's audit was included
in Henry & Peters' proposal, but
was not in Axley & Rode's pro-
Axley & Rode determined the
cost of the Industrial Development
Board's audit and presented their
estimate for the entire work at the
meeting Tuesday morning.
Linda Milford represented Axley
& Rode and Jeffrey L. Geese repre-
sented Henry & Peters.
Attending the Tuesday morning
meeting were Mayor Emmett
Whitehead, Council members
Walter Session, Gloria Jennings
and Thomas Parsons, City Man-
ager Mary Daly and City Secre-
tary Fran Wendeborn. Attending
the Thursday evening meeting
were Mayor Whitehead Council
members Jerry Jordan, Mr. Ses-
sion, Mrs. Jennings, Mr. Parsons
and Charles Horton, City Man-
ager Daly and City Secretary
In another matter Thursday
night, a committee composed of
Mr. Horton, chairman, Mrs.
Jennings and Mr. Session met fol-
lowing the meeting to hear an up-
date of work being done at Conley
Money has been found in the
budget to contract with Jackson-
ville Fence Co. for repairs/replace-
ment of the park fence. That work
will begin next week. The protec-
tion wall in front of the restroom
has been painted.
The fence will be moved back
from the basketball goals and one
goal replaced. Heavier fence posts
will be installed.
The park area haB been mowed
and cleaned up. Plans are to possi-
bly plant centipede grass in the
fall. Water is now working at the
restrooms. The keys to the
restroom will be located and the
water hose will be stored in the
TDCJ inmates will be used to
paint the facia boards, posts and
wash tables at the park.
The committee will appoint a
committee of three or four persons
to oversee and work with the city
in making sure proper mainte-
nance is provided for the park.
A community pride sign will be
installed at the Conley Park, as
well as other city parks. Members
of the community noted that the
parks are located in the city for the
use of the citizens. "We want it
Please see RUSK, page 15
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Whitehead, Marie. Cherokeean/Herald (Rusk, Tex.), Vol. 150, No. 18, Ed. 1 Thursday, June 24, 1999, newspaper, June 24, 1999; Rusk, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth152430/m1/1/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Singletary Memorial Library.