Mabank High School to lead Palestine ISD
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The search has begun for a new Mabank High School principal.
“We’ll be looking at internal and external candidates,” Superintendent
Dr. Russell Marshall told The Monitor. The vacancy was posted Monday.
Dr. Tommy Wallis was named the lone candidate for the Palestine ISD
superintendent post Thursday. The hiring won’t be official for 21 days.
“I didn’t want to lose him,” Marshall said. “He has made a tremendous
impact on education and on the lives of children in this district.”
Wallis impressed the Palestine school board with his high energy and
“He lit the room when he talked. And when he talked, people listened,”
board president Dyna Tutt told a reporter from The Tyler Morning
Wallis has been Mabank High School principal for five years and has led
the school from an Acceptable rating to a Recognized rating. The
984-student body high school was also listed as one of the top 1,000
U.S. high schools by U.S. News and World Report this year.
“He’s provided outstanding leadership at the high school,” Marshall said
of the 2007 Texas High School Principal of the Year.
Wallis started his career in education 17 years ago, spending two years
at Lamesa and then nine years in Mesquite schools, teaching and coaching
and then as an assistant principal.
In 2001, he was named Region 10 Assistant Principal of the Year.
Wallis believes he is a good match for Palestine ISD because “the
transformation that needs to take place in Palestine, I have already
been through in Mabank and in Mesquite schools.” He was quoted to have
“I am sad, very sad to leave,” Wallis told The Monitor. “This has been
our home for five years. My family has loved it here. It’s bittersweet.”
However, becoming a superintendent is why he worked to earn his
“I’m excited about the opportunity and I feel I am ready to step into
that position,” he said.
If all goes well, Wallis expects to be on board in Palestine the first
part of June.
Palestine ISD is about the same size as Mabank ISD with 3,500-3,600
“I will miss the kids at MHS a lot. They’re just wonderful people. I
feel like they’re my own kids,” Wallis said. “I’ll also miss the people
in the community, who have been so wonderful to me and my family. It’s
really bitter sweet. I get teary-eyed when I think about leaving.”
Dr. Tommy Wallis
County to settle with beaten inmate
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Commissioners agreed in principle to a
settlement with a Seven Points man after he sued the county for inciting
a beating from his fellow inmates at a maximum security dorm.The
decision was made April 15, following an executive session.
Robert C. Dennis, 38, filed a suit Sept. 12, 2006, alleging his civil
rights were violated when a correctional officer made a statement that
provoked other inmates to attack him.
In September, 2003, Dennis was arrested on a probation revocation charge
and placed in a holding cell for two days.
Then he was transferred to a maximum security dorm. As Dennis was
released into the dorm, the suit alleges that the unnamed correctional
officer said, “Here’s your snitch.”
Dennis was soon beaten by several inmates. The suit claims the officer’s
words were “inspired by malice as opposed to mere carelessness,” and was
an abuse of official power.
After the attack, county detention officers responded to a call on the
jail intercom reporting an inmate down and in need of immediate medical
Dennis was found unconscious on the jail floor with profuse bleeding
from head injuries.
He was transported to East Texas Medial Center Athens and then on to
ETMC Tyler Intensive Care Unit, where he was listed in critical
The suit alleges he suffered severe, disabling and permanent physical
injuries in the attack, which resulted in excess of $200,000 in medical
The suit asks for actual and punitive damages, as well as attorneys
The settlement amount has not been made public.
Chamber sets forum for GBC
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–The Gun Barrel City branch of the Greater Cedar Creek
Area Chamber of Commerce is holding a candidates forum to familiarize
voters with their choices of representatives.
The forum is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 28, the same day as the
start of early voting, at Brawner Hall.
Every candidate for city council has committed to attending, as has two
of the three mayoral candidates. Mayoral candidate David Parras,Jr. is
unable to attend, due to a schedule conflict. However, Marty Goss and
current mayor Paul Eaton will take the stage.
Candidates for Place 2 Melvyn Hayes and John Earl Gregg (a write-in
candidate) will be there, as will Kevin Banghart and Dean Wright, vying
for Place 4.
Candidates will speak and answer questions from the audience as well as
from Chamber members.
As in the past, Eustace Intermediate school principal Robert Reeve will
moderate the event.
“We’re anticipating a larger turnout of local citizens for this forum
than in past years,” Chapter chairman Ed Busch said.
“The fact that the incumbent mayor is being challenged by a current
councilman and another candidate seems to be generating a great deal of
interest. We’re hoping that voters in Gun Barrel City will use the
opportunity to hear what all the candidates have to say,” Busch added.
“These forums are provided to take away the excuse ‘I don’t know any of
the candidates or what they stand for,’” he said.
Refreshments will also be served.
City retires first 20-year employee
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–It’s a first for Seven Points. The city’s first employee to
retire with 20 years of service will be honored with an all-day
reception Wednesday, April 30, at the Seven Points post office.
Connie Masterson was first hired as an extra clerk to help during the
Christmas season Dec. 18, 1987.
“We were stationed at the end of the city hall building then,” she told
It was the same month her husband died. She’s remained a widow ever
Back then, she reports the city contract post office hosted 40 postal
boxes. Today, there are 800 of them.
Back then a first-class stamp cost about 20 cents. Next month, a
first-class stamp will cost 42 cents.
Masterson said she looks forward to having the time for some computer
classes. “I’m tired of being computer illiterate,” she said.
Back when she started as a postal clerk, the post office didn’t even
have a postage meter. Everything was weighed manually and a chart
consulted for the proper amount of postage.
In addition, every piece of mail was processed by hand.
Now, the modern operation includes a computerized scale and register.
What she’ll miss most about her job is the daily interchange with folks
using the post office.
“I’ve met a lot of interesting people over the years. Some boxholders
have been here before I started working here. I’m going to miss seeing
them,” she told The Monitor.
While at college, she’s open to trying other courses that may strike her
“I want to keep my mind active, so I’d like to try things that make you
think,” she said.
The Star Harbor resident also looks forward to getting involved with a
few clubs that meet in her neighborhood, like the stitchery club.
“I like to sew a little of everything,” she explained.
And if she can swing it, and gas prices don’t continue to rise, she’d
like to travel.
Masterson is blessed to live near her son’s family and be involved with
her 14-year-old granddaughter.
But most off all, she plans to build up her health. In recent years,
surgeries and doctor’s visits have been too frequent, and she’d like to
Masterson is retiring just after her 63rd birthday.
Carolyn Dollgener has worked with Masterson for 14 years.
“Connie is such a cheerful and positive person. It’s been a pleasure
working with her. We’re going to miss her around here,” she said.
City secretary Debbie Mosley agrees.
“She will definitely be missed. She’s so friendly and is a wealth of
information. She’s just a good Christian woman,” Mosley said.
“Connie’s been with us for many, many years,” Mayor Gerald Taylor said.
“Usually people move on, and don’t reach 20 years with the city. This
reflects on Connie’s commitment to the city and her job,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it here,” Masterson summed up.
“I’ve never regretted coming to work every day. There is plenty of
variety. I’ve always enjoyed my job, especially the people,” Masterson
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Connie Masterson retires with 20 years of service
as Seven Points postal clerk.