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Current Issue
February 24, 2011






News in Brief

BBQ judges sought
The annual Kaufman County Junior Livestock Show Barbecue Cook Off Scholarship fund-raiser needs judges at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, to help judge beans, chicken, ribs and brisket. Call Bill Thornton at (972) 452-3290 or (214) 729-4522.

Kemp PS fund-raiser
Kemp Primary School is hosting a silent auction during school hours. Place bids in person from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling the school between 3:30 and 4 p.m. Bidding will extend from 5:30 to 7 p.m. during Open House Thursday, March 10. Proceeds will be used to purchase “SMART Boards,” a computer-based learning tool.

Westside Senior Center
The Westside Senior Citizens Center meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday (today and every Thursday), at the Cedar Creek Bible Church activities building, 700 North Seven Points Boulevard (SH 274). Seniors 55 and older in the area are invited for fellowship, domino and card games, other games, coffee and snacks. A light lunch will be served. For information call (903) 340-9672.

Henderson County POA
The Henderson County Property Owners Association meets at 7 p.m. Thursday (tonight) at the Indian Harbor Community Center. County Attorney Clint Davis will discuss the Nuisance Law and how to make it work. For a map to the location, go to

49ers Seniors Club
The 49ers Senior Citizens Club will meet for dancing to Chuck & the 49ers from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday (tonight and every Thursday). No smoking or alcohol. Small donation at the door. Located off SH 334, two blocks south on Arnold Hills Road, Seven Points. For information call or fax to (903) 432-3522.

Grief counseling meeting
Restoration House Ministry is hosting grief counseling meetings at 6 p.m. Thursday (tonight) and March 3, 17 and 24 (first, third and fourth Thursdays of each month). All in need of healing are welcome, as grief comes in many forms – death, divorce, separation or a major change. For information call Pastor Barker at (903) 887-4881, or the Rev. Kathey Floyd at (903) 880-9692.

Healing Through Grief
The support group, “Healing Through Grief,” needs RSVP by Friday, Feb. 25, for its lunch Wednesday, March 2. Speaker is David Hennessee. Location is Cedar Lake Home Health and Hospice Office, 104 S. Terry. To RSVP or for information, call Fran or Teressa at (903) 489-2023.

Crime Watch event
The Prairieville Neighborhood Crime Watch is hosting its annual barbecue and auction benefitting the Mabank Fire Department from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at Mabank Fire Station No. 3, 17522 FM 1836, Prairieville. For information call the Mabank Fire Station at (903) 887-4747.

Pancake breakfast
The Eustace Masonic Lodge, East Wheeler Street, located under the water tower in Eustace, just south of U.S. 175, is hosting its sixth annual pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. Pancakes, sausage, bacon, coffee, milk and orange juice – all you can eat for a specified donation. For information call Steve Bledsoe at (903) 340-9137.

Crisis Center training
The East Texas Crisis Center hosts sexual assault volunteer training for Van Zandt and Henderson counties the next four Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Feb. 26, at the Mabank Fire Department. Call (903) 675-2137 or e-mail  to register for the no-cost 40-hour training.

Sweetheart Playday
The Rope, Catch & Ride for Christ Cowboy Church arena team is hosting its Playday Series, starting at 10 a.m. Saturdays, Feb. 26 and March 5, with a rain date of March 12. Five events offered – must make two out of three. Negative Coggins required. Age groups – lead line 12 and under, 13-18, and 19 and over. Concession stand open. North on SH 198, right on CR 2807. Cowboy Church looks like a red barn on the right. For information call (903) 880-2695.

Methodist OWLS study
Mabank First United Methodist Church OWLS (Older, Wiser, Loving Seniors) are sponsoring “From Age-ing to Sage-ing,” a study by Zalman Schichter-Shalome and Ronald S. Miller, taught by the Rev. Eston Williams, pastor of Aley UMC. Sessions remaining are planned for 7 p.m. Mondays, Feb. 28, March 7 and 14, at Mabank FUMC. Free except for study book.

CC Civic League
The Cedar Creek Civic League meets at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at Tri-County Library, Mabank. Program is by Stephen Gent of McDades Nursery. Guests are welcome. For information call (903) 451-3229.

CCL Literary Club
The Literary Club of Cedar Creek Lake executive board meeting is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points.

Tamarack Ladies
The Tamarack Ladies Club meets at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 2, at TLC Hall. A potluck luncheon will follow the meeting. All ladies residing in Tamarack are invited. For information call Linda at (903) 887-8984.

GBC Beautification
The Gun Barrel Beautification Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at Brawner Hall. All interested POA groups are invited to enjoy Carol Morton of Keep Athens Beautiful present a PowerPoint program. For information call GBC city hall (903) 887-887-1087.

Composting classes
Environmental Co-op hosts Master Composting Classes from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays (basics) March 3, (organic gardening) March 10, at 100 E. Aimiee Street, Forney, and (building a compost pile) from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 12, at 200 E. Main Street, Forney. For information call the Co-op office at (972) 525-0007, or e-mail  to reserve your spot.

CCL Garden Club
The Cedar Creek Lake Garden Club meets at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, in the community room at Tomlinson’s Funeral Home. Donna Malik will present “Let’s Visit Butchart Garden,” describing the 55 acres of floral displays. Remember to bring items for the March Madness White Elephant Sale and hygiene items planned for the February meeting, canceled due to snow.

TVCC concert
The Trinity Valley Community College Music Department will present a concert titled “WE Sing of America – Our Heritage of Freedom,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at Dogwood Church in Athens. The event features a variety of patriotic songs performed by the Cardinal Singers and Cardinal Brass Ensemble. The church is located at 6467 FM 2494, three miles west of the college in Athens. For information call (903) 675-6327.

Basic Internet class
Navigating the Internet classes, taught by A.J. Amyx, marketing director of A New Way to Market, are set for 6 p.m. Tuesdays, March 1, 8 and 15, at Tri-County Library. Class fee charged. To register or for information, call the library at (9030 887-9622.

Radiate 2011
The First Baptist Church of Malakoff is hosting “Radiate 2011,” a chance to worship free with Godly men, at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, March 6, and at 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, March 7-9.
The church is located at 220 W. Mitcham, Malakoff. For information call the church at (903) 489-0228.

AARP Driver Safety
A one-day AARP Driver safety Course is set for 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake, 410 E. Cedar Creek Parkway, Seven Points. Designed for drivers age 50 and over, but open to anyone. Drivers may qualify for reductions in auto insurance.
For information, call Jean Dirks at (903) 887-3836 or the library at (903) 432-4185.

‘Unleashed youth’ summit
The “Unleashed Youth” summit, featuring swimming, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, pizza, inflatables, worship services and guest speakers, is set for 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday/Saturday, March 11-12, at the Cain Center in Athens. A fee to cover the Cain Center cost will be charged. For information, call (903) 887-5429 or visit  
Sponsored by Retro Youth, a division of Christian Life Center.

KofC fish fry
The Knights of Columbus Mary Queen of Heaven Council 12253, Malakoff, is hosting an all-you-can-eat fish fry from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 11. Meal includes catfish, French fries, hushpuppies, coleslaw, drinks and home-baked goods. Take SH 198 to Star Harbor Road (CR 3062) in Malakoff. Follow Catholic Church sign to CR 1703.

PS Fire Rescue benefit
The annual all-you-can-eat fish fry benefitting the Payne Springs Fire Rescue is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9. A 2007 Harley Davidson FX/ST is a part of the fund-raiser. View pictures at  For information, call the fire station at (903) 451-4511 and leave a message.

Free tax help
Free tax help is available at Tri-County Library, Mabank, with Peggy Rogers, VITA. Rogers worked for the IRS for many years and keeps up with current changes. Call the library at (903) 887-9622, leaving name, local phone number (calls from cells with long distance numbers will not be returned), and the best time for her to return your call to set up an appointment.

AARP free tax help
AARP free tax services will be available from 8 a.m. to noon through Wednesday, April 13, at the following locations – Fridays at the Henderson County Senior Center, Athens, Mondays at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake, Seven Points, and Wednesdays at the Senior Citizens Center, Malakoff. For information call (903) 778-2423.

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Top News

Council hires utility firm
Athens firm to guide city through upcoming state, federal inspections
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–A badly-split Eustace City Council agreed Monday to hire an Athens firm to help the city through upcoming state and federal inspections, since the city dismissed its public works director two weeks ago.
On a 3-2 vote Feb. 10, the council fired utility operator Tom Acker for “loss of confidence.”
Unfortunately, the city is facing a state water system inspection, and not having a qualified water operator puts the city in violation of federal regulations.
Mayor Laura Ward outlined the situation for the council as she cruised through a number of agenda items Monday evening.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had previously scheduled an inspection of the city’s water system Thursday (today).
“I knew we were due for one, since the last one was in 2008,” Ward said. “But I thought it would be in a couple of months from now.”
Each day the city is without a water system operator in possession of a Class C license or above, the city will incur fines, Ward said.
Eustace also has a TCEQ wastewater inspection coming up, Ward said, though the exact date is still unknown.
Not having someone with the right credentials in place also puts the city in violation with the Environmental Protection Agency, Ward said.
March 1, updates on the city’s Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) is due to be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA oversees a number of grants the city has applied for in the past, Ward explained.
“The council was informed that this was coming up last month in Tom’s report to the council,” she said.
Without these ERPs on the city’s public drinking water and wastewater system, along with a required security vulnerability self assessment, the city will be at a disadvantage when it comes to its next grant application, Ward said.
“No one at this table is qualified to update these ERPs,” Ward said. “I’m at a total loss.”
In addition, Ward said the city had to turn away two customers this week, who pay between $1,200 and $5,000 to dump septic waste into the city system, because there’s no one on city staff with a wastewater Class C license to officially approve the dumping.
Ward also offered some good news from the Texas Municipal League (TML), the city’s insurer.
Some time ago, the city and its contractor dug into some optic cabling that, according to the maps provided by Embarq, shouldn’t have been there. Nevertheless, the communications provider pushed a claim against the city for $30,000.
Acker had made the case that if the city owed anything, it was no more than $8,000.
Ward reported Acker had made such a tight case with supporting paperwork that TML doesn’t feel Embarq has a claim against the city.
TML has made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $7,030 to Embarq, Ward explained.
“Acker did a great job in justifying the actions of our employees,” she said.
The council entered into closed session to consider the position of public works director.
When the council reconvened in open session two hours later, on a 3-2 vote, it hired B&B Utility Services of Athens to take up the task for a week, at a cost of up to $2,000.
Council members Lisa Roberts and Chuck Powers opposed the move, citing the added costs to the city.
The firm’s job will be to get the city ready for today’s state inspection and update the ERPs to meet the March 1 deadline.
B&B estimated a cost of $500 for the state inspection, $75 for the daily test sampling and $35 per man-hour for any additional work. The city was paying Acker $16/hour, Ward pointed out.
“Had things taken a different direction a week ago, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in today,” councilwoman Lisa Roberts said. “I can’t see spending taxpayer money on something that could have been handled differently.”
Want ads for a public works director are to be posted in the Tyler and Dallas papers immediately, all council members agreed.
When the council meets in its next regular session, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, members will revisit the hiring of a public works director and decide whether to continue with B&B or hire someone else, councilwoman Elicia Sanders told The Monitor Tuesday.
Standing on an original comment that terminating Acker’s employment was for the good of the city, Sanders said “We each have a responsibility, in my opinion, to maintain the highest standards in ourselves and in the employees for our city.
“Tom Acker failed to meet those standards,” she said. “Regretfully, I had to vote to let him go.”

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Special PSFR recognition
Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Payne Springs Fire Rescue chief Randy Harley (left) presents a special plaque to Jimmy and Erma Reynolds Saturday, thanking Jimmy Reynolds for his many years of service as an Emergency Service District No. 2 board member, during the PSFR annual awards banquet at the Malakoff Senior Citizens Center. Reynolds already holds a plaque presented to him earlier thanking him and Erma for their invaluable help in putting on the department’s annual “Woods of Terror” fund-raiser each Halloween. For more on the event, see Sunday's issue of The Monitor.








Mabank firefighters recognize their own
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–The fraternity of Mabank volunteer firefighters was in full display Saturday night, as they gathered for the 22nd annual awards banquet, marking the department’s 87th year.
The fraternity, family and friends reviewed the year, recognized the Top 10 call responders, honored the “cream of the crop” among them for their leadership, service and inspiration, and also named the 2010 Firefighter of the Year.
While fire chief Ricky Myrick and assistant chief Dameon Milton presented certificates, annual service pins, gold watches and handshakes, it was Robert Munden with the department for five years who guided guests and honorees through the evening with humor, finesse and a savvy PowerPoint presentation.
He did such a good job, one might think that’s why he was named to one of the year’s top awards. However, Munden had distinguished himself in a number of ways throughout 2010, and according to his fellow firefighters was well deserving of the title – Mabank Fire Department 2010 Firefighter of the Year.
“Couldn’t ask for a better guy,” fire marshal Mat Ewaskiw told The Monitor. “He’s always willing to help out and goes above and beyond any task he’s given.”
Last year’s honoree, Milton called Munden “the man with a plan.”
Upon receiving the long-handled golden headed axe, Munden was joined by his fire department cadet son, Mabank High School sophomore and powerlifter Dreyton Munden, his wife, Davie Sue, daughter Brooklyn and parents Gloria and Wayne Munden.
Robert received his five-year pin that night, has been certified in basic firefighting and medical response and is on the department’s personnel committee.
He’s currently studying nursing while working full time at the Gun Barrel City emergency care center as an EMT. And he was still able to answer 169 calls, making him one of the Top 10 call makresponders of 2010.
The one answering the most calls for the second time in a row was Milton with 240 calls. It was noted that Milton isn’t even in town before 5 p.m. on a regular basis.
Chief Myrick and fire marshal Ewaskiw asked that their call counts not be factored into the Top 10 to give other deserving members recognition.
Other Top 10 firefighters making the cut (from least to highest) were Daryl West, Wayne McKenzie, Donald Gordon, Daryl Landrum, Kenneth “Dude” Tanner, Joey Dominque (who joined mid-April, 2010), Paul Hightower and Mike Bass.
The evening’s program got off to a solemn start with the presentation of the colors by Staff Sgt. Chris Ford and Sgt. Elmer Sims, recently returned from Iraq. They were in their dress uniforms and also presented two company T-shirts to the department as a gesture of mutual respect and admiration.
Munden listed the community involvement that distinguishes the Mabank Fire Department from other units in the area, naming the individuals who step up to lead the various programs and activities.
These include the annual fish fry, Mabank’s Western Week, the fire prevention clowns, the Halloween Tower of Terror, chili supper, and new this year, a toy drive in conjunction with a local radio station.
It was also noted that the department sends half a dozen or more to Fire School each July at Texas A&M University in south Texas.
On a sour note, the number of fire calls were up this year, totaling 651 calls, with slightly more than half of those medical calls. There were 53 house fire calls, averaging one house fire a week, far too many, Kenneth Taylor noted.
Firefighter Jim Vess read the “Firefighter’s Prayer” reminding his brothers that 800 firefighters died in 2010. Most of those deaths were not fire related, but attributed to heart attack and other health issues.
“We ask each one here to do what he can and should to guard his life,” Vess said.
Highlighting the proceedings was the induction of new members to the department’s “Hall of Fame” or Honorary Firefighters roll.
John Holcomb introduced the best among them Johnny Adams, Kenneth Richman, Mike Rowan and Daryl “Old Man” West.
Each firefighter and auxiliary member was recognized with certificates.
Firefighters also received an embossed rolling travel bag with the department’s emblem, signifying honor, duty and integrity.
New this coming year is a coin, Munden showed.
Season’s Restaurant catered the six-course meal at the Comfort Suites in Mabank.











































































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