People, Places & Events



Families of fallen heroes attend horse camp in Mabank
Monitor Staff Reports
Mabank–More than 100 people attended a horse outing at Overlook Creek Ranch in Mabank, hosted by Russ and Katherine Veno, recently.
HUGSS, “Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors” for the families of fallen heroes, came to Mabank from Fort Hood in Killeen. Counselors, parents, grandparents and friends came along with 37 children and adults who have lost a parent or family member in Iraq.
HUGSS, a non-profit organization, operates the Gold Star Family Support Center at Fort Hood, the largest military post in the free world. In 2003, Debbie Busch reached out to a fellow military spouse, who lost her husband and began the journey of HUGSS.
The Center opened its doors in April, 2006, as the first of its kind on a U.S. military installation. HUGSS serves all branches of the armed forces and seeks to establish similar Gold Star Family support at military installations across the nation.
HUGSS and CampLife, jointly arranged the weekend camp, which included for the first time, equine therapy for these families.
CampLife is a non-profit organization benefiting children and spouses of deceased soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The camps are designed specifically for the families who have suffered this particular type of violent loss. These children, who have lost their parent and their way of life, are offered grief counseling. Activities include art, music, games, sports and teambuilding.
HUGSS, along with CampLife Director John Gillis, arrived with campers Saturday afternoon on a Trailsways bus just shortly after their counselors arrived. Campers were greeted on the long driveway on the hillside by mounted riders.
Everyone was amazed at the horseshoe demonstration conducted by Kelly Holt of Mabank. Holt was definitely the one to get the party started with the hot forge blazing and interaction with the children.
Sharon McGaney and Brisha Ward of Eustace brought lunch. Everyone enjoyed sandwiches, drinks, chips and dessert bars.
Nicole Harrison, 18, of Kemp, and her paint horse Treasure, along with Natasha Dare, 13, of Mabank, and paint horse Scout, put on a barrel race show followed by pole bending competition. The kids were amazed at the speed and precision.
Fort Hood soldiers attending included Mitchell Aaron, Nate Wilson, Stout Brian, and Domica Andrews. All soldiers are from A Company 1-5 CAV Second Platoon.
Also attending were Tumekia Ruffin, HUGSS employee and Debbie Busch, Director of HUGSS, along with John Gillis, CampLife Director, of Austin.
Campers included Chris Singleton of Joshua, Matthew Singleton of Joshua, Aaron Singleton of Joshua, Jason Hollaway of Joshua, Ashley Hollaway of Joshua, Sharon Singleton of Joshua, Jeffrey Singleton of Joshua, Cassandra Singleton of Joshua, Joy Priest, Giddings, Skylar Thacker all of Giddings, Erica Johnson of Killeen, Nahla Berdenova of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan Savannah Adams of Copperas Cove, Asya Adams of Copperas Cove, Oshea Taylor of Copperas Cove, Lashaundra Taylor of Copperas Cove, Aaron Taylor of Copperas Cove, Asia Johnson of Killeen, Beth and Doshawn Carter of Killeen, Bryan, Zion, Niah, Vontyla, Vonesha, Tabitha, Hayva, all of Killeen.
Also attending were Tommy from Vietnam, Kailyn Moore of Nolanville, Taylor Moore of Nolanville, Kendell Mill of Nolanville, Ashlyn Moore of Nolanville, Abbey Walford of Temple, Anthony Walford of Temple, Shea Walford of Temple, Joni Cromwell of Robinson, ND, Crystal Betuke of Marlin, Jere Beal of Lott, Katalina of Harker Heights, Sophia of Harker Heights, Bianca Andrews of Fort Hood, Denise Hoos of Austin, and Kristi Brandford of Austin.
Other campers and families included Fina Alexander, J’sai Alexander, Dallas, Matthew, Pamela, Nathan and Sarah Brown, all of Grand Prairie.
Campers enjoyed professional photography provided by Tim Toole and Gregg Jackson of Albuquerque, NM. Each child got a mounted photograph on the horse of its choice.
Horses were provided by Russ and Katherine Veno of Overlook Creek Ranch, Tim and Pam Johnson, Scott and Keri Jones, Kelly Holt, Charles Gunderson, Darlene and Doug Baumgartner and Nicole Harrison.
Horses included Crawford, Skip, Scout, Honey, Little Harley, Big Honey, Ringo, Chrome Harley, Miss Twiggy, Treasure and Bella. Carrot treats were provided for all the children to feed the horses by Nicole Harrison.
After photographs in the wildflowers were taken, campers were treated to a ride in the rodeo arena led by Cheyenne and Leland Kirschmeir of Kemp, Natasha Dare of Mabank, Nicole Harrison of Kemp, Elisa Graham of Mabank, Kelly Holt of Mabank and Charles Gunderson of Mabank.
Sponsors of the event were Rowans Western and Casual Wear of Mabank, The Dallas Mavericks, The Dallas Cowboys, The Appaloosa Horse Club, Moscow, ID, The Pro Rodeo Cowboy’s Association, Colorado Springs, CO, HorseCity.Com, Morris Communications Co LLC, Augusta, GA, The National Barrel Horse Association, Fort Worth, The American Paint Horse Association, Fort Worth and Kelly Holt Horseshoeing, Mabank.
Helpers and volunteers included Jean Moore of Mabank, Jennifer Graham of Mabank, Darlene Baumgartner of Mabank, Gary Graham of Whitesboro, and numerous counselors from other camp organizations.
Anyone interested in more information about HUGSS or CampLife can check or

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
More than 100 attend a horse-riding camp and demonstration at Overlook Creek Ranch in Mabank
Saturday for families who have lost a loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
Darlene Baumgartner shows her miniature horse Little Harley to campers.

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
Campers get a different perspective atop their painted mounts.

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
Nicole Harrison coaxes a camper to climb aboard her mount Treasure.

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
Katherine Veno (wearing white cowboy hat) rides with other staffers in the arena.

Courtesy Photo/Tim Toole
Kelly Holt tells campers that horses get new shoes every six weeks.

Rotary hears plans for Pinnacle Club
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Residents in the Pinnacle Club area may soon be granted their favorite wish, to be able to dock their boats at the Pinnacle Club.
James Boots Reeder, owner of the Pinnacle Club since the end of February, said the docking facility for the club is a part of the planned improvements.
“We definitely want to put in an access to the club from the lake. We may have a temporary system in by the summer,” Reeder said.
Reeder presented a few plans in the works for the club as the program for the weekly luncheon for the Rotary Club of Cedar creek Lake, starting with a new name.
“It has been known as the Pinnacle Club, but the new name is the Pinnacle Golf and Yacht Club, with the residential area to be called The Pinnacle,” he said.
The golf course will be getting a make-over, beginning with putting sand in the sand pits and a new sprinkler system, extended to areas that was not watered before.
“We are improving the marina and evaluating the possibility of putting in a filling station and a convenience store, maybe by fall,” he said.
“And we know the food at the Pinnacle Club has had its ups and downs. We are improving and re-doing the menu,” Reeder explained.
There will be three types of memberships – social, golf and weekday golf, Reeder said.
In other business, Rotarians heard:
• the book giveaway, in conjunction with the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program has been very successful.
Bob Burns, project chair said the club has to date given away more than 7,000 books to the three primary campuses at Kemp, Mabank and Eustace independent school districts.
• due to the golf tournament, there will be no meeting at noon Friday, May 9.
Also on Friday, May 16 and 23, the Rotary Club will meet for lunch at the Cedar Creek Country Club.
Rotary president Lee Montgomery said the meetings will be trial meetings.

Chamber and Kiwanis join together
for annual fund-raiser

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
One of the hits of the second annual Car Show and Krawfish Boil at the Mabank
Pavilion Saturday was this purple custom T-bucket roadster hearse, “Bad to the
Bone.” About 100 vehicles registered for the show, with a 2005 Corvette Z06
winning the coveted “Best of Show” title.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Four-year-old Zachary Smith peers into a box of cooked crawfish as his sister
Brittani (left), dad George, and grandparents Randy and Joyce Clark, all of Mabank,
chow down on mudbugs Saturday.


Come Adopt Us At
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake

My name is Nelson. I am a beautiful male Dachshund. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. So far, I seem pretty laid back and gentle. I am a wonderful boy looking for my new forever home.

My name is Oreo. I am a beautiful female black Lab. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I seem to get along with other dogs. I need help with leash training. I have been started on my shots and need to be fixed. I am a beautiful girl looking for my new home.

We are a whole litter of Shepherd mix babies. We were brought to the shelter by animal control, so we have no history. We have been started on our first set of shots. We are good kids looking for our new forever homes.

I am a beautiful Border Collie, who is four months old, or so. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I have not been at the shelter long, so not much is known about me. I am a beautiful kid looking for a new home.

Pictured are just a few animals at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points in dire need of a good home. Please call or stop by the Humane Society today and rescue one of these forgotten animals. The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is located on 10220 County Road 2403 in
Seven Points. For more information, please call (903) 432-3422 after 11 a.m.
We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

For further information visit our website at


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