No parolees for proposed guest house

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

HOWE, Tex. -- Speakers at a meeting Thursday say the director of the Texas Parole Board has told them, no in-or-out-of-state parolees will be permitted to live in the proposed guest house on Harrell Road.

In a meeting tonight at Howe High School, spokesman Bruce Dawsey announced members of their group, along with other area leaders, met with the director and deputy director of the Texas Parole Board. The two drove to Sherman from Austin for the meeting.

After expressing their concerns, the director said his office will not approve the home for parolees. The proposed home is not state-funded, so the parole board could not regulate the facility itself. However, the board approves facilities they deem appropriate for parolees.

Residents say they were thrilled when they heard the news.

"Oh I was just jumping up and down, and clapping, and smiling, and I even slept better,” says Virginia Rhea, laughing happily. Rhea and her husband live next door to the home, about 1000 feet away.

The home they are referring to is near Howe. It was purchased by Missouri-based Mission Gate Prison Ministries. The plan was to house parolees in a faith-based rehabilitation program. Mission Gate leaders say the residents would be professed, born-again Christians hand selected by a local committee.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition in opposition to the proposal. The community group, “Not in Grayson County,” also collected more than $10,000 to pay to hire and attorney and file an injunction against the property.

Group leaders say right now it appears they will not need to file suit, but they are keeping the funds in a reserve in case “there’s a surprise.” State Representative Larry Phillips and Senator Craig Estes both have said they plan to propose legislation in the next session to give county leaders control over halfway house type facilities in their area.

If such legislation passes, the lawsuit fund would also not be needed. In such case, group leaders say then plan to donate the funds to law enforcement agencies across Grayson County.

Through the entire process most of the residents have said while they think everyone deserves a second chance, the proposed guest house is too close to area homes and local children should not be exposed to parolees.

Sheriff Keith Gary also told the parole board director his office does not have enough manpower to properly watch the facility, while also patrolling the rest of Grayson County.

We're told Prison Gate Ministries has been notified of these actions. While they cannot house parolees at the home, they still own the property and could let anyone they choose who is not on parole live there.

Four Grayson County residents have also offered to buy the property from Prison Gate Ministries. In a previous conversation with KXII-TV, Prison Gate founder Rick Mathes said he would consider an offer as he is not out to “make a statement” in local communities.


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  • by ted Location: cuba,mo. on Feb 1, 2008 at 07:18 AM
    Good going Howe.At least you people won't become their victims like we have.We had a nice small quiet community until Mathes and his army of lying angels moved in here to do their stealing and ripping us off. Yes we kept our doors locked on our vehicles so the Mathes angels broke out the windows to steal our stuff. Now we leave our cars unlocked so we don't have to pay for another window. Insurance company's don't like it when you make too many claims. Your rates go up . But, at least their not violent,right. Let's give them the right to invade our homes and cars as long as they do it in a non violent way. I'm sure if you caught them in your house and asked them to leave they would say ,God Bless You for understanding and good night. I know their not all bad but the few that forgot they were christians can make life hell here in a small town.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 15, 2008 at 05:22 PM
    Here Location Gone, you need to be GONE! You don't kow what you are talking about so don't comment, I know all of my neighbors and pretty well too, we will make sure that we will tell Mike that you would be glad to have them nextv door to you and by the way my kids are old enough to be outside by theirselves without anyone watching them, this is all over and done with they are not going to be moving into Howe END OF STORY!!
  • by HERE Location: GONE on Jan 15, 2008 at 07:24 AM
    LET ME TELL ALL OF YOU SOMETHING YOU PROBABLY HAVE SOMEONE ON PROBATION OR PAROLE LIVING RIGHT BISIDE YOU OR A COUPLE OF HOUSES DOWN AND DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT. YOU KNOW WE ARE SUPPOSE TO TRY AND HELP EACH OTHER AND NOT JUDGE AND YOU KNOW HOWE IS A LITTLE TOWN BUT LOOK AROUND YOU AND YOU WILL NEVER GUESS HOW MANY PEOPLE THERE THAT HAVE BEEN IN JAIL, AND I GUESS YOU PEOPLE IN HOWE WOULD JUST LOVE TO STICK THESE PEOPLE IN OTHER TOWNS WELL GUESS WHAT THEY WILL BE VISTING SOMEONE NEXT DOOR HONEY I DONT CARE WHAT TOWN YOU LIVE IN THE KIDS DON'T NEED TO BE OUTSIDE BY THEIRSELFS ANY WAY
  • by Dave Location: Howe on Jan 14, 2008 at 03:27 PM
    Its over quit beating a dead horse with a stick.Rick the owner of this Mission Gates did not tell the whole truth.You individuals that keep bashing Howe well I have a solution for you in the minority.Look up his website which you all have and join him and find land in your town if your such good Christian people.You really need to do this in your town so go to work.O by the way go Packers.
  • by Richie Location: Sherman on Jan 12, 2008 at 04:22 PM
    Did Howe REALLY "Win" ? with the halfway house, you would KNOW where the parolees are. Now, ponder that your community could be filled with parolees that you don't know about. what's better, the enemy that you see, or the enemy that you don't ?
  • by Tex Location: Howe on Jan 12, 2008 at 10:41 AM
    After reading the negative comment about Larry Phillips saying he would not want this in his area, I would like to say way to go bud, Also thank you for bringing the people from Austin. I no you must have earned a minimum of 600 votes for all of your efforts and I will vote for you again myself.
  • by Monty Location: Tom Bean on Jan 11, 2008 at 04:56 PM
    At the first meeting at the actual proposed "home", there was only about 15 people that attended. Well that turned into bigger and greater amounts. To all those who signed the petition, and supported opposition to the house, THANK YOU ALL!! I certainly feel better about my parents location, as well as several neighboring families that me and my siblings have known for years. I hope that further legal action does help to prevent people in rural areas to have a voice to avoid this situation in the future. To all those who supported this "house", let me just say that people do deserve a second chance in some cases; however, my family would be my refuge (depending on the offense). For those families that would not support their own; I would assume that there must be a reason. Again, this is a HUGE victory for rural residents, and especially for those on Harrell Road. I would certainly buy that property myself if I had enough revenue.
  • by B.L. Location: Sherman on Jan 11, 2008 at 03:51 PM
    You people on here that were all for the house being in Howe well its not so get over it. Its over and done with Howe WON
  • by racheal Location: howe on Jan 11, 2008 at 12:39 PM
    Thank the lord!!!! To the Hunt's and Cavneder's thank you too. I am very proud to live in this town and to have great people like you guys here too. I feel much safer now letting my children go outside alone, or with their friends. WAY TO GO HOWE!!!!
  • by Citizen Location: Sherman on Jan 11, 2008 at 09:31 AM
    I agree with Michelle. You have no idea how many people on parole already live there some might be right down the street. You can say you know your neighbors but do you really?? Are you foolish enough to think they're gonna say hi my name is ____ and I'm on parole, nice to meet you.... No, I don't know anyone in prison and I have never known anyone who has ever been in prison but I would be wiling to bet that they live all around me. If something bad is going to happen to you or in your town it's going to happen anyway even if you do stop these people from moving in. Just remember that one of these days you may need someone to cut you a break and at that time you will want someone to care so just remember how you treat others can come right back at you!
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