Sunday, February 15, 2009






  Mabank breaks ground for first hotel
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–A large crowd was on hand Wednesday to witness and participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for Mabank’s first hotel.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Members of the Mabank City Council, the Mabank Economic Development Corporation board, construction representatives and others take part in a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday marking the start of construction on a 70-room Comfort Suites hotel at the U.S. Highway 175 and State Highway 198 interchange in north Mabank. BELOW: Mabank Comfort Suites manager Joseph Babits (left) and owner-operator Kevin Patel were on hand for Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

The 70-room, three-story Comfort Suites, a Choice Hotel, will employ about 20 people full-time when it opens in nine to 12 months, depending on weather conditions.
The hotel will be located on the northwest corner of the U.S. Highway 175/State Highway 198 interchange, just off the north-side service road, with a link to nearby Farm-to-Market 90.
“I’ve opened seven or eight hotels in my career, but I’ve never had the reception, or seen the friendliness that we’ve had here,” hotel manager Joseph Babits told the crowd.
Babits, who has managed the Comfort Suites in Mesquite (the hotel chain’s top performer in Texas) for the past five years, said “I’ll be coming here, and I won’t leave.”
Babits went on to explain he now lives in Fort Worth, but expects to relocate to the Cedar Creek Lake area and make it his retirement home.
Representatives from U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling and State Rep. Betty Brown were on hand to present flags flown over the U.S. and Texas capitol buildings for use when the hotel opens.
Hensarling aide Richard Sanders told the group the Congressman was in Washington, D.C. working on the proposed federal stimulus plan in a House-Senate conference committee.
“When something is done privately, with private business hiring local folks to build locally, that’s real stimulus,” Sanders said.
Mabank Mayor Larry Teague pointed out the Comfort Suites was the latest in a series of major improvements in the Mabank community.
“We’ve got a new hotel on the north end (of town), a new apartment complex on the south end, and a new doctor’s office in the middle, along with a sparkling new high school right over there,” Teague said.
“I think people will look back on this in the near future, and think this is one of the greatest days in the history of Mabank,” Teague added.
Mabank Economic Development Corporation executive director Scott Confer told the gathering the city and EDC had been working on setting the stage for commercial development along the north side of U.S. 175 for nearly a decade.
“This (hotel) is the first tangible evidence of the work that’s been done ... to bring Mabank back into the forefront,” Confer said.
Scheduled to be built by Design Build Corporation, the Comfort Suites will include 2,000 square feet of conference/banquet facilities and an indoor pool.
The First State Bank Mabank branch is financing the hotel’s $5.5 million construction project.
All of the development was made possible by the city and EDC partnering to upgrade water and sewer lines in the area over the last few years, Confer pointed out.
Confer also noted the work done by city water employees to lay down a plywood platform for dignitaries, along with a plywood pathway covering mud and standing water left by Tuesday night’s thunderstorms (see related picture above).

City salutes Mabelle Lane
Gun Barrel to purchase Franklin Bank building for new city hall
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Mabelle Lane Ross was the belle of the ball Tuesday night.
She received accolades and honors for her 24 years of service in law enforcement, which she is leaving in order to take up a new job for the city – that of public relations officer.

Monitor Photo/ Pearl Cantrell
New city public relations officer Mabelle Lane Ross (left) accepts a sign for a street named in honor of her 24-year law enforcement career, the last four and half years as Gun Barrel City police chief, from city manager Gerry Boren.

Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Capt. Kay Langford, Lt. Botie Hillhouse and District Attorney Scott McKee were on hand to congratulate her and thank her. She has served as the city’s police chief for the last four and a half years.
Though expecting the change in employment, Ross was caught off guard when city manager Gerry Boren presented her with a street sign after the council approved changing the name of Meadow Drive, next to the fire station, to Mabelle Lane.
“What can I say,” she responded. “Thank y’all.”

Monitor Photo/ Pearl Cantrell
Street department employees Terry Madding (on ladder) and Rodney Bevill replace the Meadow Dr. sign with its new name, Mabelle Lane, early Wednesday.

“You’re a valuable asset to us,” councilman Kevin Banghart said.
In her acceptance letter of the new position, Lane wrote, “I appreciate the hard work and support of the city councils over the years and the friendship and help the Gun Barrel City citizens have extended to me. Responding to their concerns and offers of assistance are great joys to me.”
The last business item taken up by the council ended with the announcement the city was moving to purchase the former Franklin Bank building at the corner of Main Street and Harbor Point Road.
The two and half acre site, building, parking and landscaping is to be the new city hall.
“The mayor and city manager have been negotiating with the FDIC, who owns the property, for a sale price of about $500,000,” councilman Charles Townsend said.

Monitor Photos/ Pearl Cantrell
County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Capt. Kay Langford, Lt. Botie Hillhouse and DA Scott McKee join Gun Barrel City police Sgt. Damon Boswell in congratulating Mabelle Lane Ross.

“We don’t want to see another empty building sitting in Gun Barrel,” he added.
Preliminary plans call for enclosing the drive-through to create more offices, possibly keeping one of the lanes open to conduct court business.
The present city hall property offers lots of options for the city, including a possible site for a library, he added.

Monitor Photos/ Pearl Cantrell
Friends and coworkers congratulate Mabelle Lane Ross (center) during a reception in her honor, following the city council meeting Tuesday.

In other business, the council:
• appointed Chuck Morse to the red light camera committee.
• adopted a resolution approving a performance agreement between the Economic Development Corporation and Lakeview Indoor Outdoor Design, also known as Solar Screen and Sun Control Products, owned by Fred Kurlander.
The agreement approves a loan of $45,000 for a lighted sign and vertical storage units to hold inventory.
“We do a lot of outdoor furniture. The more I have on hand, the better service I can provide,” Kurlander said.
His business has been open for three years and employs two full-time people and three part-time people. The agreement calls for the hiring of at least one more full-time employee within a year.
“If things go the way we hope, we’ll be hiring sooner than that,” he said.

Drug lab suspects nabbed with goods
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt reports the finding of an alleged methamphetamine lab in the Becks Chapel area, situated between State Highway 59 and Malakoff.
While on an unrelated investigation of an abandoned residence in that area, the county drug enforcement team observed a vehicle arrive at the residence, people load items into the vehicle and depart.
Investigators conducted a traffic stop and located a large quantity of chemicals used in the manufacture of controlled substances, along with a large quantity of suspected methamphetamine.
The occupants of the vehicle, Corey Davis, 37, Brandi Davis, 39, Jeffrey Quinn, 25, and Laurenda Callaway, 29, all from Cross Roads, were booked on charges of manufacture/delivery of controlled substance over 400 grams and possession of certain chemicals used to manufacture controlled substances.

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