||Two dead after
driver blows by stop sign
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITYTwo women are dead in the aftermath of a car accident shortly after
5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the junction of State Highway 334 and U.S. Highway 175 at the east
end of Gun Barrel City.
Henderson County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock pronounced Edgewood
resident Karen Irene Hall, 51, dead at the scene.
Photo/Kerry Yancey Gun Barrel City firefighters stand guard over a smashed
Mitsubishi Galant, where two women died in a collision in rainy weather around 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday at the U.S. Highway 175 and State Highway 334 intersection east of Gun Barrel
City. The red Titan Nissan pickup was facing west, waiting to make the turn onto SH 334
when the Mitsubishi was struck by an eastbound pickup on U.S. 175, halting traffic in all
directions for more than two hours.
Her passenger, Toni Lynn Drinning, 29, of
Dallas, was also pronounced dead after being transported to East Texas Medical
Center-Athens. Henderson County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Johnny Adams was on hand
at the hospital.
Gun Barrel City Police Sgt. Dennis Wehland reported Hall was driving a 2002 white
Mitsubishi Galant eastbound on SH 334, and passed another eastbound vehicle stopped at the
stop sign by CJs gas station and convenience store. The stopped vehicle was a
Pontiac Grand AM, he said.
When the Mitsubishi entered U.S. 175 it was immediately struck by an eastbound 95 Toyota
pickup, driven by Gun Barrel City resident David Taylor, 24. Taylors Toyota T-boned
the Mitsubishi and careened off the eastbound roadway into a ditch.
The impact sent the Mitsubishi spinning into the front of a westbound 2006 red Nissan
pickup, which was waiting to turn left onto SH 334.
No other injuries were reported, and no one else was transported to area hospitals,
Wehland said. Everyone was very shook up, though, he said.
Police received an emergency call on the incident at 5:49 p.m., he added.
Traffic on U.S. 175 and SH 334 was blocked off for more than two hours as a result of the
Church sanctuary destroyed
Another church succumbs to flames
By Randal Brewer
Monitor Staff Writer
WILLS POINTAnother church building went up in flames, this time in Wills Point.
The early Thursday morning fire destroyed the sanctuary of the Russell Memorial United
The Mabank and Rains firefighting units were called in to assist Wills Point and Edgewood.
A 9-1-1 call came through Van Zandt County dispatch at 5:30 a.m., and firefighting crews
found heavy smoke coming from the building upon arrival.
We had a three-man crew make forcible entry through the west door at the foyer and
enter the sanctuary, said Wills Point Fire Marshal Larry Byford.
There was heavy fire located around the pulpit on the platform. The crew reported
that the platform was sagging to the point of collapse.
Numerous fire departments were called in to help fight a church fire in Wills Point
Thursday morning. By the time firefighters could get the blaze under control, the
sanctuary at Russell Memorial United Methodist Church was a total loss.
After the interior sanctuary fire was knocked down, heavy smoke continued pouring out
of the attic from the eaves and the gables.
Crews from Wills Point and Edgewood attempted to cut holes in the gables and apply water,
but the roof began to collapse.
At first we could hear a partial collapse, and we pulled everybody back and it
became a defensive fire at that point, Byford said.
In addition to Edgewood and Wills Point, crews from Mabank and Rains responded to the
With a recent series of church fires in the East Texas area, the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms and the Texas Rangers were called in to assist in the investigation.
No other information was available at press time.
Church members said Sunday services will be held in the Deen Building.
Clean up or pay the piper,
says Mabank councilman
Abandoned vehicle ordinance to include boats
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANKMabank councilman Midge Odom is tired of the mess some Mabank residents and
businesses seem allowed to keep, and he told the code enforcement officer so Tuesday.
There must be at least 15 boats in the yard at 220 Coleman, he complained.
Code Enforcement officer Mat Ewaskiw answered that the citys ordinance does not
include boats, and so he has been unable to touch them.
Weve been trying to work with this individual for a while now, Ewaskiw
said. When we cited him for not having an address number, he took a can of spray
paint and painted numbers across his house.
He also only lives here part-time, city administrator Louann Confer said.
We can amend the ordinance to include unregistered boats without insurance,
Currently, the ordinance requires all vehicles on private property within the city limits
to show current registration, or they can be towed off as junk.
Weve removed a lot of those kinds of vehicles over the last two years,
Odom also cited other unsightly addresses, and Ewaskiw told him he is working with those
folks as well, and as long as they are making some progress every 10 days, he doesnt
write them another citation.
The council directed Ewaskiw to prepare a prioritized list of properties either needing to
be cleaned up, or demolished and a status note on each one.
The council also suggested giving others on the list a deadline to complete the task
assigned by the code enforcement officer. After that date, a $500 citation will be written
each day it continues to be out of compliance.
Confer also agreed to write a letter to the commercial lot owner on Business 175, who is
using his lot for storage, pointing out no outdoor storage is allowed in the city.
In other business, council members:
reviewed a Racial Profiling report for 2009, submitted by police chief Kyle McAfee.
adopted a floodplain ordinance.
adopted an ordinance prohibiting drilling of water wells within the city.
heard a commendation of the Mabank Police Department from the general contractor
for the recently opened Comfort Suites.
He reported this is the first project hes worked on where no equipment or material
were stolen from the job site, McAfee said, adding his department stepped up patrols