Three indicted for November deaths
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–The Henderson Grand Jury indicted two for Murder and one for
Intoxicated Manslaughter as part of the 46 True Bills it handed down
Cherokee Shores resident Donnie Ray Westbrook, 32, was indicted for the
Nov. 1, 2008, stabbing death of 41-year-old Jerry Jason Huff.
Huff had ridden his bicycle to Westbrook’s residence, and claimed he was
stabbed in the stomach with a butcher knife before he died.
Westbrook is listed as a Repeat Offender.
Also, Raymond Terrell Scott, 24, of Kerens, was indicted for the murder
of a Garland man found dead in the backyard of a burning house in the
Aley Community Nov. 7. Other indictments involving burglary, robbery and
arson may follow. Scott is listed as an Habitual Offender.
Gun Barrel City resident Shawn William Upchurch, 47, was indicted for
Intoxicated Manslaughter in connection with the death of a Brownsboro
man Nov. 10.
Horton Bunch, 74, reportedly pulled his GMC pickup over to the side of
Farm-to-Market 3204 about a mile outside of Brownsboro, and had stepped
out when he was struck by Upchurch’s 2004 Chrysler.
Family members said Bunch had been experiencing mechanical problems with
Area leaders visit
By JoAnn Hanstrom
Special to The Monitor
AUSTIN–Approximately 40 area business leaders visited Austin Tuesday for
“Cedar Creek Lake Area Day” during the 81st Texas Legislature.
The trip was arranged and sponsored by the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber
Photo/ JoAnn Hanstrom
A delegation from the Cedar Creek Lake area arrives at the State
Capitol grounds Tuesday to visit with area legislators and state
The delegation was recognized and honored in both the House of
Representatives and the Senate, then met privately with senators Robert
Deuell and Robert Nichols and State Rep. Betty Brown, both at lunch and
again in their respective offices later in the day.
Former state representative Clyde Alexander (now Chief of Staff to
Speaker of the House Joe Straus) and Gov. Rick Perry joined the group
for a photo op during the morning.
Photo/ JoAnn Hanstrom
Joe Morin, representative from the Office of the Government-Economic
Development & Tourism, speaks to a delegation of Cedar Creek Lake area
business and political leaders during the delegation's visit to Austin
for "Cedar Creek Lake Area Day" Tuesday.
Throughout the afternoon, representatives from state agencies came to
and speak with the delegation in the Court of Criminal Appeals building.
Joe Morin of the Office of the Governor-Economic Development & Tourism,
Steve Simmons of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) and
Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples all brought
updates and information pertinent to rural Texas communities.
Morin and Staples reminded the group of the many programs, grants and
resources available to rural Texas cities through their agencies.
Staples formerly served the Cedar Creek Lake area as a state senator
from 2001-07, and is very familiar with the unique qualities of the
region, which includes 13 towns, five school districts, parts of three
counties and various districts of state and other governmental agencies.
Photo/ JoAnn Hanstrom
Joe Morin of the Office of the Government-Economic Development & Tourism
(left) speaks with Mabank Economic Development Corporation executive
director and former Tool mayor Scott Confer Tuesday in Austin.
Staples commended the chamber of commerce for the unity of the
business community and pointed out that the Cedar Creek Lake area is an
economic region unto itself. He strongly recommended that every effort
should be made to have the area function as a single region to the
Several sessions ago, Alexander recommended to the area’s then-separate
chambers of commerce to establish visits to Austin during biennial
Regular Sessions to establish and solidify the area’s identity with
Over the years, the tradition has continued with few changes. Six of the
13 towns partnered with the chamber this year to help add a spirit of
unification to the delegation and to help underwrite the expenses not
covered by the $75 individual participation fee.
Additional expenses have been borne 100 percent by the chamber in the
“On behalf of our board of directors and other members, I really want to
thank and acknowledge our 2009 Legislative Day partner cities,” Chamber
President Jo Ann Hanstrom said.
“The cities of Eustace, Gun Barrel City, Mabank, Malakoff, Tool and
Trinidad are all to be commended for their support of this important
program,” she added.
“A corporate contributor was TVEC (Trinity Valley Electric Co-op), who
sponsored the snacks on the bus,” Hanstrom said.
Hanstrom also noted the contribution of Amy Gould (from Brown’s Athens
office), along with personnel from Brown’s Austin office and both of the
Senators’ staffs provided invaluable support and assistance in helping
her coordinate the day.
The next Cedar Creek Lake Area Legislative Day will be during the 82nd
Regular Session in 2011.
Comfort Suites to break
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–On Wednesday, Mabank is welcoming the start of good things to
come in 2009 with the groundbreaking on a 70-room Comfort Suites Hotel
by Choice Hotels.
Mabank Economic Development Corporation executive director Scott Confer
sent out 90 invitations and made the announcement during a special
council meeting Thursday.
The project has been quietly worked on over the last five months, with
the big unveiling set for 1 p.m. at the project site, situated near
Solar Turbines, off Farm-to-Market 90.
When built, the three-story hotel, with 2,000 feet of conference
facilities, will be visible from the expanded U.S. Highway 175.
In addition, a few years ago, the City of Mabank upgraded its water
lines there from six inches to 14 inches. “Water and sewer are ready to
go,” Confer said.
The First State Bank of Mabank is financing the $5.5 million project,
due to begin work shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony.
The EDC collected information from surrounding businesses and the Mabank
ISD on their current needs for hotel rooms, and with that data,
presented the opportunity to five major hotel chains.
“Preliminary market research suggests the new hotel will reach 65
percent occupancy in its first year,” Confer told The Monitor.
The principal, Keven Patel with KBC Sienna, LLC out of Mesquite, and
Comfort Suites regional manager, sees this as a sound move, Confer said.
“It’s a rational central point,” Confer summarized.
Further, the general contractor and architect, a part of Design Build
Contractors, have been pricing out the job using local suppliers and
subcontractors, he added.
The projected completion date is this November.