Thursday, February 7, 2008






  Mabank man dies in wreck
By Julie Vaughan
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–It is still unclear why a Mabank man left Van Zandt County Road 2719 and crossed over into oncoming traffic on State Highway 198 Thursday night, but the action resulted in his death.
The three-vehicle accident occurred a little before 7 p.m., when 50-year-old Larry Gene Prewitt’s 1993 Jeep Cherokee was struck by a 2007 Lincoln pickup driven by Geneva Janet Ballard, 68, Canton, and then was struck by a 1993 Dodge van driven by Jerry Dale Williams, 60, Kemp.

Photo by Julie Vaughan
Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jeff Wimberly and Trooper Kaleb Bullock look over a 1993 Jeep Cherokee following a three-vehicle crash Thursday on State Highway 198 near Mabank. A 50-year-old Mabank man died in the accident. Authorities are still awaiting autopsy results.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Edward Valdez reported witnesses seeing Prewitt leave VZCR 2719, cross SH 198 and head into the eastbound ditch. Prewitt then drove back up onto the highway and was struck head on by Ballard’s northbound truck.
Prewitt’s Jeep then “…veered off and was struck again by a 1993 Dodge van headed south,” Valdez said.
“There was no visible pre-impact braking,” DPS Sergeant Jeff Wimberly said Tuesday morning.
Williams told troopers he did not see the Jeep before he struck it, Wimberly said.
Prewitt’s vehicle was knocked backward about 80 or 90 feet after it was first hit, he added.
He further noted that the posted speed limit on SH 198 is 55 mph at night.
“We are still awaiting autopsy results,” Wimberly said. “We do know that he (Prewitt) disregarded the stop sign.”
Prewitt was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell.
None of the drivers had passengers in their vehicles.
Williams and Ballard were transported by ambulance to East Texas Medical Center in Gun Barrel City for non life threatening injuries.


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.

Griffin gets 3 life terms
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Following a dramatic trial in the 422nd District Court in Kaufman, Daniel Joseph Griffin, 35, was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.
The punishment phase of the trial was held Feb. 1, and the sentencing was administered by 422nd District Judge B. Michael Chitty.
Griffin was found guilty of stabbing to death the mother of his girlfriend, 38-year-old Cheri Lynn Duggan, in October, 2006.
Griffin was also found guilty of sexually assaulting Duggan’s 15-year-old daughter after he had killed her mother.
The lead prosecutor in the case was Rick Harrison, Kaufman County District Attorney, who several times during the trial called the act “horrific.”
Duggan’s mother, Cherle Elam, was called as a witness during the sentencing.
A psychiatrist and Griffin’s mother, Penny Griffin, testified on his behalf.
Griffin expressed remorse over his actions, while still claiming he didn’t remember what had happened.

Capital cases get $353,300 boost
Malakoff taxpayers to get refunds totaling $62,000
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners declared an emergency during its regular meeting Tuesday to increase the District Attorney’s capital murder cases budget by $353,300.
Commissioners unanimously approved the increase without further discussion, since the subject has come before them every month since December.
“Let me just clarify – if we don’t do this, we may not get any state reimbursement at all,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall said.
County auditor Ann Marie Lee explained the move was a necessary part of applying for a state grant through a program to reimburse counties having to foot large bills on capital cases.
“It doesn’t mean we’ll get it. It just means we have all our ducks in a row,” she said.
County tax collector Milburn Chaney asked commissioners to authorize him to cut tax refund checks above $500 to residents of Malakoff, due to the recent rollback election. Chaney said the rollback calls for total refunds in the amount of $62,000.
“Not everyone paid their taxes, and new statements have gone out reflecting the change in tax rate,” he said.
In addition, the county tax office will be presenting the city of Malakoff with a bill for slightly less than $1,000 for the additional postage to send out a new batch of tax statements, he said.
However, the office wasn’t charging for any extra man-hours or material, he added.
“I figure that’s just part of our agreement, though I suppose we could. I’m not planning to,” he said. Commissioners granted his request.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved a request from county clerk Gwen Moffeitt to purchase an electronic embossed County Seal at a cost of $781 from Record Management Funds.
She showed a sample of the imprint the device delivers and said the manual stamp was not effecting a strong enough imprint.
• accepted a check from Rising Star Energy for $28,000 for damages to Precinct 1 county roads 1200 and 1211, due to overweight hauling.
• approved increasing insurance limits on hired, leased or borrowed equipment to $500,000 at an annual premium of $1,231, effective immediately.
“This is going to save the county money,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney said.
Every time the county rents or leases a piece of equipment, it pays an insurance premium of $240.
“Three rentals alone pays the premium, and this is county-wide, not just for Road and Bridge,” McKinney pointed out. The measure passed unanimously.
• accepted for recording purposes a replat in the Oaktree subdivision in Precinct 4, dividing one lot into two.
• paid bills totaling $148,535.91 for fiscal year 2007 and $110,174.18 for fiscal year 2008.