Sunday, January 3, 2010






  Young cousins die playing with toy ATV
3- and 4-year-old drown in creek bed
By Randal Brewer
Monitor Staff Writer

WILLS POINT–The joy of Christmas, a toy, turned tragic in Wills Point the day after Christmas when two children drowned in a creek.
Two young cousins, a girl, DaKylie Shyanne Hamilton-Lee, 4, and a boy, DeSean Romeo Hamilton, 3, were riding a battery-powered toy four-wheeler in the 200 block of Minnie Street and apparently drove down an embankment and into a creek.
At approximately 4:55 p.m., Wills Point police officer Brandon Corbett was dispatched to the vacant lot on Minnie Street and found a crowd gathered around the two children.
According to statements from police, the children’s guardian and grandmother, Patricia Hamilton, found the children submerged in water after she had searched the neighborhood for them.
“The water where it looks like the (Kawasaki Hot Wheels®) four wheeler went in is about 2˝ feet deep,” Wills Point police chief Scott Johnson said. “It’s deeper toward the middle, but we don’t know exactly where they were when they were pulled out. It’s a body of water about 23 feet by 25 feet.”
A bridge goes over the creek where the children went down the embankment.
“It’s a pretty steep embankment,” Johnson said, and estimated that the distance from road level to the water is six or seven feet.
Wills Point EMS responded with six personnel, and reported that a bystander was administering CPR when they arrived. EMS personnel continued intervention measures, but the victims were described as unconscious and unresponsive.
“We have an unknown downtime,” said EMS director Colin Blasingame. “There is about a four-minute window where we can make a difference, and we don’t know how long the kids were in the water.”
The victims were transported to Renaissance Hospital in Terrell and care-flighted to Children’s Hospital in Dallas, where they were pronounced dead.
An account has been set up for the family at American National Bank in Wills Point. Contributions may be made to the “Hamilton Kids” account.
Services were set Saturday, Jan. 2, at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, located on North Wills Street.

Avanti Singers combine love of music with fun and fellowship
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Some people enjoy sports, but not many can continue their participation throughout their adult life. But an enjoyment and participation in making music can continue on and on.
That’s nothing new to the 25 members of the Avanti Singers.
Jean Robinson has been “riding herd” on the rambunctious and musically attuned group since its founding in 1993.
“It helps to see people enjoy music, and let’s them know it’s OK to sing out,” Robinson told The Monitor.
Its members have diverse religious and political allegiances, but are able to come together because they love to sing, she added.
“We have a lot of fun,” Robinson says about their weekly Thursday evening rehearsals at the First United Methodist Church in Mabank.
“Eston Williams (minister Aley Methodist Church) and Allen Roberts (one of three retired principals in the group, including Libby Horton and Celene Terry) keep us in stitches, along with Rev. Ron Holloman (First Presbyterian) and Glenn Dittmer (Lutheran),” she adds.
The group is often requested to sing during the meetings of service organizations, special occasions and holidays.
Between Dec. 4 and 17, the group had seven performances, including one with the Mabank High School choirs.
“We had invited them to join us in a program at the Cedar Creek County Club, and they in turn invited us to participate in their Christmas concert,” Robinson explained.
“We support them in their efforts to get to Disney World (this year for a choir workshop and performance),” she added.
Besides singing Christmas carols, the Avanti Singers also perform show tunes, patriotic anthems, gospel and religious music.
Their very first performance was at a July 4 celebration at Four-Mile Lutheran Church. Later, they performed in Enchanted Oaks for the city’s annual Independence Day holiday.
The group has also performed at venues where national figures have been feted, such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Congressman Jeb Hensarling and George P. Bush, son of former Florida governor, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush.
Their next performance is slated for January’s Game Day in Gun Barrel City. The monthly event is held for area senior citizens’ recreation.
The Avanti Singers always welcome new members.
“There are no tryouts,” Robinson said.
Anyone interested in joining should just attend one of the rehearsals (6:30 p.m. Thursdays at First United Methodist Church in Mabank), she added.
“We could especially use more male voices,” she said. The group also welcomes guest directors. MHS choral director Catherine Lindsley has served as a guest director, and others are welcome.
“We have loads of fun,” Robinson noted. “We’re truly a community choir.”
Robinson may be reached at (903) 451-3203.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
The Avanti Singers participate in the Mabank High School Christmas concert Dec. 11. It was one of seven performances they gave in December.


Trustees give green light on a number of building projects
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–The Malakoff ISD Board of Trustees voted to move forward on a number of building projects during its meeting last week, including:
• repairing the track,
• renovating the old Middle School band hall into a boys fieldhouse,
• building tennis courts, and
• renovating the stands at the football stadium.
Repairs to the track, totaling about $32,500, are to be paid from the General Fund. The middle school project, estimated to cost about $35,000, will come from insurance money from a fire in August.
The other two projects are expected to be paid from the General Fund and then repaid with bond money after $3 million in bonds are sold sometime next summer.
The stadium renovation is expected to cost between $450,000 and $500,000, according to Superintendent Dr. John Spies.
That should include new stands on the home side, with 30 percent more seating, backs on the seats in the reserve section, a new press box and seating for between 850-900 on the visitor’s side.
While trustees told Spies to go forward with the other projects, the stadium renovation will return to the board for a final approval once the administration decides on a particular plan and pricing.
The action came following a Facilities Committee recommendation to move forward with the second half of a bond issue approved by voters in 2008. At that time, $7 million was approved for projects at the middle school and the high school, along with transportation and technology purchases.
The middle school portion was completed last summer.
Not everyone agreed with the decision, however. Trustees Dr. Pat Smith and Jan Shelton voted against moving forward with the building projects.
Smith said he agreed the stadium and tennis court projects were needed, but said he did not think they should be started until the district had a comprehensive plan for utilizing the $3 million in bond money.
He pointed out trouble with the roof at the middle school caused that project to go $1 million over budget, and said he didn’t want to see a repeat with the high school bond money.
“I’m not for funding anything in this project up front,” he said.
After the meeting, Shelton said she voted no for the same reasons.
Trustee Todd LaRue, although ready to move forward on the current projects, said he agreed it was time to “get an architect on board” to plan how to use the bond money.
Spies said he would put the architect question on the January board meeting agenda.

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