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Current Issue
February 12, 2012






Clubs and Such

BNI (Business Network International) - Cedar Creek Professionals - meets every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at Comfort Suites, located at U.S. Hwy. 175 and TX 198 in Mabank. Larry Williams (903) 887-2847 or

Boy Scout Troop #398 meets at the Cedar Creek Bible Church from 7-8:30 p.m. each Tuesday. (903) 498-5725 or (903) 498-3830.

Cedar Creek Art Society meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. A $3 donation per artist is asked.

Cedar Creek Domino Club meets each Wednesday morning at the KC Senior Citizen Center, 405 W. Walnut in Mabank. (903) 887-6549 or (903) 887-1514.

Cedar Creek NAR-ANON meets at 8 p.m. on Thursday at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405.

Cedar Creek Narcotics Anonymous meets at 8 p.m., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405.

Cedar Creek 49ers Club meets every Thursday for fellowship and dancing. Doors open at 6 p.m. The club is located off Arnold Hill Road in Seven Points. (903) 432-3552.

Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Wednesday at The Jalapeno Tree in Gun Barrel City, except the second week of the month, when the club meets Thursday in conjunction with the area chamber of commerce.

Cedar Creek Optimist Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points. Danny Hampel at (903) 778-4508.

Cedar Creek Republican Club meets every fourth Thursday. (903) 887-4796.

Cedar Creek Rotary Club meets at noon each Friday at Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant. Dee Ann Owens at (903) 340-2415.

Disabled American Veterans Chapter 101 meets the second Monday of each month at the Senior Citizens Center on Hwy. 31 in Athens.

Girl Scout Troop #112 meets at the First United Methodist Church in Mabank on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Contact Kathey Brown email or (800) 422-2260 or visit

GriefShare Recovery support group meets at 7 p.m. each Tuesday at Cedar Creek Church of God, located at 142 Rodney Dr., Gun Barrel City. (903) 887-0293.

Gun Barrel Quilter’s Guild meets from 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. (903) 451-4221.

Kaufman County Republican Women’s Club meets the third Saturday of each month at the Farm Bureau Insurance Company, located at 2477 N. Hwy. 34 in Kaufman. (972) 287-1239 or (903) 880-6770.

Kemp Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Thursday at La Fuente Mexican Restaurant in Kemp. Dr. Jim Collinsworth at (903) 887-7486.

Lake Area Council of the Blind meets at 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at West Athens Baptist Church.

Mabank Al-Anon Family Group meets at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at Mabank First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Families of alcoholics are welcome. (903) 887-2781.

Mabank/Cedar Creek Area Lions Club meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. (903) 887-5252.

Mabank Garden Club meets at 1:45 p.m. at the Tri-County Library on the third Tuesday of every month (different times in May and December).

Mabank TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Mabank First Baptist Church. (903) 887-7700 or (903) 451-0126.

Oak Harbor/Tanglewood Crime Watch meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the R.T. Beamguard Community Center in Oak Harbor.

Rainbow Girls, Masonic Youth organization meets on the second and fourth Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Cedar Creek Masonic Lodge. Donna Dean at ddean45@

Roddy Masonic Lodge meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday each month. (903) 887-6201.

RootSeekers meet at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the Tri-County Library in downtown Mabank.

Southeast Kaufman County Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the center, located at 300 N. Dallas Street in Kemp. (903) 498-2140.

Tamarack Ladies Club meets at 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the TLC Hall.

Trinity Valley Community College Band meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the TVCC band hall. Group is open to any community member who plays an instrument. (903) 675-6222.

Trinity Valley Singles Support Group meets at 7 p.m. each Monday at Athens First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Lovers Lane. This is a support group for singles of all ages. Jean Love at (903) 451-4697 or Donna Stinson (903) 675-7270.


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Lake Life


Lay Berry Farm prepares for another season
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

PHALBA–Farming at this time of year is basically a lot of backbreaking preparation and watching the weather.
Not much can be put into the ground in the cold weather of February besides onions and potatoes.
Brent Lay said he has planted several large parcels with onions and potatoes and plans to add more, for a total of three acres planted so far, on his truck farm in Van Zandt County.
He currently has about 10 acres in use, including the vegetables, fruit vines and new cuttings, of the 30 acre tract that makes up Lay Berry Farm.
He spends every weekend on the farm, working and preparing for the spring and summer. The rest of the week, he works as a Volkswagon mechanic.
Brent Lay and wife Allison have two children, a son and a daughter who attend school in Rowlett, where the family currently resides.
Their East Texas family farm has been a place where churches, families and groups have come to pick their own fresh produce.
The farm was opened to the public starting in May, 2008, when the main product was Quachita and Apache blackberries (both are thornless varieties for easy picking).
Today, he is working toward developing his own cuttings for both the blackberries and blueberries, to increase the plants and thus his crop, so his customers of all ages will have plenty of fruit to pick.
“It’s really fun to see the kids that come. They ask all kinds of questions about what things are,” Lay said.
“That’s what it’s all about. Families and people relaxing, getting rid of stress and bringing people together,” he added.
Included, for the benefit of the church, scout or school groups, are picnic tables nestled under a huge oak tree beside a large catfish pond, where novice pickers can rest after an hour or two in the sun.
Lay started years ago, “growing things in the house. I guess I just like to play in the dirt,” he said.
Some of that dirt can be found inside two, approximately 12-foot by 24-foot greenhouses where he is starting seeds and cuttings.
The seedlings will grow into bedding plants.
“They will be ready to put into the ground sometime around Easter or maybe from mid-March through April,” Lay explained.
He said he plans to have several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, squash, egg plant, watermelon and whatever else he can get.
“Watermelon and tomatoes are my biggest cash crop,” Lay explained, adding corn was another crop people liked.
But what his customers like the best is that his produce doesn’t contain chemicals or additives that are often found on produce in the grocery stores.
“Also, everything we offer for sale is fresh picked. It hasn’t been on the shelf for days,” Lay said. “What I don’t have I bring in from neighboring farms,” he added.
The cuttings he is starting are an effort to increase the number of blueberry and blackberry vines he has growing.
“I have about 25 hundred blueberry plants under cultivation now,” he said.
While Lay said he enjoys getting out in the fresh air and working in the dirt, he is grateful for the help he gets from family, neighbors and friends.
His friend, neighbor and co-farmer, Rod Bass, along with Rod’s son Sam, are there for him when extra help is needed or when things go wrong, which can happen often and sometimes be devastating.
Rod, a FedEx driver, when he isn’t farming, plans to put in several acres of black-eyed and cream peas on his own place. That will add to the available crops of Lay Berry Farm.
The small daily problems can be anything from equipment breakdowns to insect invasions (like grasshoppers feeding on the crops).
Lay has his own well on the property. It reaches 395 feet down to find a large supply of water for irrigating.
“I did have a pipe break but luckily most of the water drained into the pond,” he said, describing a muddy mess from the breakage.
As our forefathers and anyone who has ever tried to cultivate the land for a living found out, farming is not for the fainthearted.
In addition to the hungry hoard of grasshoppers that stripped the leaves from his fledgling blueberries, there was the long-enduring months of drought.
“Two years ago, a tornado hit the farm, just laying down all of his blackberry and blueberry cuttings.
Then the year he had blackberries producing and customers picking, a hail storm hit, stripping his plants and ending his picking season.
“Last year, as my watermelons ripened, the wild hogs came in and in two days time, destroyed the crop,” Lay said.
He and his friends have been shooting the hogs when they can but that has not taken care of the problem.
“We are going to try some preventative measures this year, including a system involving loud, pulsating sirens,” Lay added.
“It has been a rough five years, trying to truck farm here,” he admitted.
But I still would like to plant more berry vines, some fruit trees and I want to raise my own plants,” he said.
Despite the tornados, grasshoppers, hail storm and drought, he wants to continue his farming endeavor.
The sandy, productive soil of East Texas still calls to him and he said it was not beyond the possibility that someday, he would build a house on the farm and move to Van Zandt County.
The farm is located between Phalba and Canton on CR 1256, off FM 316 past Purtis Creek State Park (from Eustace). Brent Lay can be reached at (214) 208-0967 or visit on the web.











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