Sunday, February 3, 2008






  Digital TV snow storm forecast
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–The snow storm coming on Feb. 17, 2009, has nothing to do with the weather, but rather our television sets.
That is the date television stations across America will hit the off buttons on analog broadcasting and switch to computerized digital signals.
At least half of American viewers are ignorant of the fact the storm is definitely on its way, despite the fact the cable industry is spending $200 million to educate viewers, according to Digital TV Facts.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Customers at ColorTyme Rentals in Mabank look over the many television picture screens available. Older TVs will be obsolete when broadcasters switch to digital signal in February, 2009.

Those who wish to research the information further can visit the website
The change will affect approximately 30 million television sets that currently receive an analog signal.
Information on the coming problem is listed on Digital TV Facts on the Internet, NBC News and other news agency providers.
Even owners of digital television sets may be affected if they do not have a digital tuner.
Some businesses are misapplying the “HD-Ready” label and selling digital-ready television sets that do not have the digital tuners. These sets will require the set-up boxes.
The first big question consumers ask when they hear the bad news is, “will my current TV still work after the switch?”
The answer is maybe yes, but some adjustments may have to be made.
Those who currently receive acceptable or marginal analog TV reception with an indoor antenna could possibly get by with installing an outdoor antenna to receive the digital broadcasts.
However, the converter box will probably be necessary for most TVs.
The boxes are expected to sell for somewhere between $60 and $75.
Congress has set aside $1.5 billion to help subsidize the purchase of converter boxes.
The plan is to issue $40 coupons, beginning now, to help consumers with the purchase of a conversion box.
At first, approximately 22 million coupons will be issued to consumers, including cable customers who have a spare TV that is analog, who ask for them.
The remaining coupons will be distributed to those households who have televisions that receive only the analog transmission.
To receive a coupon, people may call 1-888-388-2009 or apply on-line at
Some of the other questions consumers are asking is the how and why of it all.
The Federal Communications Commission foresaw the problem of too many signals and not enough radio signal wave room back in 1996, and ordered the transition.
But it wasn’t until the 9/11 Commission confirmed the first-responder systems were in dire trouble.
Congress finally set a deadline to turn all analog frequencies over to firefighters, police and other first responders to help in the event of natural or manmade disasters.
The problem is that “America’s seemingly wide-open skies are chock full of radio signals and there isn’t enough frequencies for all the people who want to use them,” Barry Umansky, a communications professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., said.
Even cell phones, alarms and navigation systems that use analog signals will be affected.
After the switch, these companies will have to bid for the digital spectrum, thus accounting for a $15 billion increase in funds for the government..
Other experts have joined Umansky in declaring the auctions will mean a windfall for the government, while becoming a train wreck for consumers.
Members of Congress have not been happy over the upcoming confusion.
Their criticism has been directed at both the National Telecommunications Administration and the Federal Communications Commission for their lack of planning for the transition.
In November, 2007, Congress issued a report that stressed there is no real plan in place for the transition.
There will be many problems associated with the changeover but none as big as the possible environmental effect.
Gadgets– reports the flood of poisons expected at the nations landfills could be overwhelming.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports there is a lot of lead in traditional TV sets, as much as four pounds and as February, 2009, draws closer more people will buy new sets and need to get rid of their old sets.
The resources to keep the lead out of soil and groundwater just isn’t available, landfill coordinators say.


Sweet stories sought
Special to The Monitor
CEDAR CREEK LAKE– The Monitor is seeking your stories about people you love most.
Your sweetheart stories will be published on Valentine’s Day, Thursday Feb. 14.
Include a photograph of your loved one, or of the two of you together along with your story.
All submissions should include the writer’s name and phone number where you can be reached and be delivered to The Monitor no later than Friday, Feb. 8.
Stories should be composed of no more than 800 well-chosen words. All copy is subject to editing for clarity, grammar, conciseness and style.
The Monitor reserves the right not to publish any stories it deems inappropriate.
Submissions may be made via e-mail to  Digital photos may be sent by e-mail as large jpeg or tif files. Submissions may also be carried or mailed to The Monitor, 1316 S. Third St., Mabank, 75147. It is located at the back of Groom & Sons’ parking lot.


Two dead in wreck
Upside down vehicle found in Callender Lake
By Julie Vaughan
Monitor Staff Writer

CALLENDER LAKE–The bodies of two Van Zandt County residents were recovered from their vehicle, found upside down in Callender Lake Jan. 27.
Authorities believe the one-car wreck happened early the morning before it was discovered.
Dawn Marie Wilson, 28, and Michael Harlan Prock, 35, were last seen at 11:45 p.m. Jan. 25, and their wrecked 2001 silver Ford Focus was not discovered until 1 p.m. Jan. 27, when two fishermen came upon the wreckage in Callender Lake, Department of Public Safety Trooper Odie Phillips said.
It appears Wilson, who was driving the vehicle, “failed to negotiate a left curve in the road and drove into the eastbound ditch, then corrected to the left. The vehicle traveled across Farm-to-Market 2339 into the westbound ditch, spinning counter-clockwise,” Phillips said.
Speed and alcohol were identified as factors in the fatal wreck, he added.
“Alcohol was definitely involved and she (Wilson) was traveling at a pretty good rate of speed,” Phillips said, noting the posted speed limit on FM 2339 is 55 miles per hour.
“The vehicle collided with a dirt embankment with the rear of her vehicle, and it rolled into the pond or spillway (of Callender Lake) on its top,” he explained.
Prock’s father had contacted authorities requesting a missing person’s report be filed, because his son had not returned home.
Phillips estimated the time of the accident between midnight and 1 a.m. Jan. 26, and said there were no brake marks to indicate Wilson had tried to stop the vehicle.
Wilson was restrained by a seat belt, but Prock was not, he added.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Scott Shinn pronounced both deceased at the scene, and an autopsy has been ordered.

Family pharmacy hit for cough syrup
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Two Garland men broke into the Family Pharmacy in Mabank and stole five bottles of cough syrup.
The break-in occurred around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, a Mabank Police spokesman said.
The front door lock had been broken and the value of the theft was placed at slightly less than $500.
Two of the bottles of hydrocodene were valued at $214 each, to be mixed into smaller batches by the pharmacist.
A neighbor saw the men and described the white 2006 GMC one-ton, four-door, crew-cab, dually to the Mabank Police Department.
The Kemp Police were called and given a description of the pickup heading their way on State Highway 175.
A Kemp police officer stopped the truck just a little bit later and notified Mabank Police.
The men said they were heading back to Garland.
As a matter of routine, the officers asked for permission to search the truck but were refused. Their names were checked in the state data base and came back with information allowing the vehicle to be legally searched.
The driver had no driver’s license, and the passenger (owner of the truck which still had its paper tags) had a prior charge.
In addition to the two large bottles, police found three small bottles of cough syrup containing codeine valued at $5.60 each.
One of the bottles of cough syrup was half empty, presumably consumed by the two men.
“It’s very addictive,” a Mabank police spokesman explained of the medication that requires a doctor’s prescription to purchase.
Brian Daniel Day and Keith Ballew, both 29, will be charged with burglary of a building, a state jail felony with a possible sentence up to two years.
“But with the priors the owner has, I hope to get the District attorney to enhance the charges, allowing for sentencing of up to five years,” the Mabank officer said.
More charges may be added, depending on the circumstances, the officer explained.
“We have seized evidence that leads us to believe they attempted one other burglary in the area, the office said.