Thursday, April 24, 2008





Wallis leaves 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 enthusiasm.
“He lit the room when he talked. And when he talked, people listened,” board president Dyna Tutt told a reporter from The Tyler Morning Telegraph.
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 said.
“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 doctorate degree.
“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 students.
“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.”

File photo
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 assistance.
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 condition.
The suit alleges he suffered severe, disabling and permanent physical injuries in the attack, which resulted in excess of $200,000 in medical expenses.
The suit asks for actual and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees.
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 The Monitor.
It was the same month her husband died. She’s remained a widow ever since.
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 fancy.
“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 change that.
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 said.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Connie Masterson retires with 20 years of service
as Seven Points postal clerk.

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