Sunday, May 4, 2008





Man charged with arson
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Police have charged a man in the Tuesday morning fire that destroyed one of the buildings at Mid-Cities Storage in Mabank.
William “Billy” Henry Barnes, 53, was charged with first-degree felony arson Wednesday at Parkland Hospital and taken into custody to the Henderson County Jail. Bond was to be set late Thursday. He had been admitted to Parkland for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
He told police officers at the scene Tuesday he had started the fire. A five-page letter stating his reasoning was found, Fire Marshal John Holcomb said.
“I wouldn’t call it a suicide note,” he told The Monitor.
Insurance adjusters were on site Thursday to make their estimate of the property’s damage.
Barnes, who has been living in the on- site apartment with his wife Annette, manager of the facility, had an intense argument with business owner LeAnne Chamness the night before.
The argument became so heated, Chamness called the Mabank police to settle it.
Chamness related she was prepared to evict Barnes.
Chamness complained that Billy Barnes was “loud and obnoxious” and tried to get involved in things that were not his concern.
Chamness remained willing to continue with Annette Barnes residency and employment there as manager, she said. Annette was not on property when the fire started and returned when it was fully involved.
She had taken her dog to the vet that morning, when she said she received a call on her cell phone from her husband. He told her he had a can of gasoline and was going to kill himself and burn the place down.
Annette immediately called Lt. Lee Orr, whose number she had in her cell phone. At about that time, Mabank police were alerted to a 911 call to Mid-Cities Storage.
When officers arrived they saw a man (Barnes) walking in and out of the burning building three times. He continued to ignore their direction to leave the building and come to them.
Eventually, officers had to drag him away to safety.
If convicted, Barnes faces a jail sentence of five to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Mays trial begins
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–The capital murder trial of Randall Wayne Mays begins tomorrow (Monday) before 392nd District Court Judge Carter Tarrance.
Court is being held at 9 a.m. at the Judicial Complex in Athens.
Jury selection began April 6, with the summoning of 600 potential jurors.
Mays was indicted last June for the May 17, 2007, shooting of Henderson County Sheriff’s Investigator Paul Habelt, 63, and Deputy Tony Ogburn, 61.
The officers were shot while responding to a domestic disturbance at Mays’ residence near Payne Springs.
A third deputy, Kevin Harris, was also shot in the leg during the incident.
If found guilty, Mays could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Henderson County District Attorney Donna Bennett is prosecuting the case for the state. Tyler attorney Bobby Mims is representing Mays.

Local Scout designs, builds new bench, garden for park
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–George Watts Park in Mabank has a new bench and meditation garden for walkers/joggers to rest, thanks to a local Boy Scout.
John Wallis, 15, a freshman at Mabank High School, came up with the idea of providing a new park bench and meditation garden along the two-mile walking trail that winds through the park as an Eagle Scout service project.
Wallis and his Troop 333 mates did almost everything on the project, from building the concrete forms, laying the rebar and working the concrete to designing the landscaping and planting the shrubbery.
Monday, the new bench and garden were officially dedicated with a brief ceremony, headed by Scoutmaster Tom Harris and a prayer by Mabank First United Methodist Church pastor the Rev. Chris Schoolcraft.
Mabank City Council member Tim Johnson was on hand to witness the dedication of the bench, which is near the park’s sand volleyball court.
Wallis is the son of Gun Barrel City residents Troy and Debbie Wallis, and his brother, Jacob, also helped on the project. He is the grandson of John and Sue Long.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Surrounded by Troop 333 mates, family members and Scout leaders, Boy Scout
John Wallis (center) sits on the new park bench he developed as an Eagle Scout
service project during a brief dedication ceremony Monday. Wallis and Troop
333 Scouts designed and built the meditation garden adjoining the walking path
that winds through Mabank’s George Watts Park.

MHS named top performer
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–The past five years has been a season of accolades for Mabank High School.
A study by the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), lists MHS as one of the top 10 performing high schools in the state.
A recent report from ATPE stated the study was based on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests from the 2002-03 school year through 2006-07.
The five-year study coincides with the time frame in which both principal Dr. Tommy Wallis and superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall arrived in the district.
Both men received their five-year pins at the April 24 employee awards banquet.
ATPE requested the school be included in a study focusing on schools with exceptional growth on the TAKS test during the five year period.
“Your school has been identified as one of the 10 schools with the highest growth,” principal investigator for ATPE Ed Fuller wrote to Wallis.

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