The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

January 2, 2014

2013 Stories of the Year: Economy, fire, murder trial make up year's top headlines



6 Anderson County Employees Sentenced — A former Anderson County employee accused of embezzling county funds was sentenced in February to probation, jail time and community service and was ordered to make restitution by a state district judge.

Bridgette Franklin of Elkhart was sentenced by 87th State District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans to 10 years of straight probation, 180 days in county jail and 400 hours of community service.

Franklin also was ordered to make restitution to the county, paying back the $32,261 taken during the incidents.

During a three-year period from February 2008 through May 2011, the state alleged that Franklin, who was formerly employed as a deputy clerk in the Anderson County clerk’s office, skimmed a total of $32,261 intended for the county.

The defendant was indicted in 2011 on a total of 918 counts of felony charges.

Terry Jean Raybin, 51, of Palestine, was sentenced Feb. 6 for the charge of misuse of official information to obtain reward money from the Anderson County Crime Stoppers board.

According to District Attorney Doug Lowe, who represented the state in the case, Raybin was sentenced by District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans to six years probation — deferred adjudication, a $1,000 fine, 400 hours of community service and a payment of $1,500 to the Crime Stoppers board.

Investigators in the case alleged that Raybin, as a secretary for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (and longtime county employee), used confidential information to obtain $400 in cash reward money for herself that the Crime Stoppers board had authorized for payment of an anonymous tip.

Witnesses for the state testified as to the harm that the incident had caused the Crime Stoppers program.

The charge, a third degree felony, carried the potential punishment of two to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine. Since Raybin has no prior criminal history, she also was eligible for probation.

7 Plants Coming to Anderson County — Besides Sanderson Farms, one company announced plans to build a plant in Anderson County and local officials took additional steps to bring another plant to Palestine.

Wholesale chemical company Baze Chemical announced in April its plans to build an ethoxylation plant on the old Vernon Calhoun meat packing property on FM 323.

Ethoxylation is an industrial process that produces ethylene oxide, which has a wide market of products that can be made from it in the oil and gas industries, among other industries. For example, a company may choose to use it to make surfactants (industrial detergents).

After purchasing 25.5 acres on the old Vernon Calhoun meat packing property, Baze Chemical is currently in the construction phase of modernizing the buildings, building its plant facilities and fencing in the property. As of April 2013, the company planned to start the actual operation in the first quarter of 2014.

Baze Chemical will be hiring from 30 to 36 people to operate the plant at its completion, with jobs ranging from high-tech (chemical plant operators) to chemists with Master’s degrees and Ph. Ds.

In July, the Anderson County Commissioners  took another step in bringing a compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant to the county, approving the establishment of a reinvestment zone for the operation during their regular meeting.

The $420 million Bethel Energy Center, part of Houston-based Apex, is set to be located in a 180-acre area off FM 2706 at ACR 2504 in northern Anderson County.

According to Apex’ website, CAES is unique in its ability to efficiently store and redeploy energy on a large scale in order to provide low-cost energy and enhance grid reliability.

A CAES power generation facility uses electric motor-driven compressors to inject air into an underground storage cavern and later releases the compressed air to turn turbines and generate electricity back onto the grid.

Jack L. Farley, president of Apex, announced the construction of the facility in July of 2012.

An average of 200 workers will be on the job during the project’s construction phase — said to take about three years, while 20 to 25 permanent jobs will be created as a result of the venture.

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