Sunday, May 27, 2007





Final farewells said
The last call sounds for Deputy Paul Habelt

Courtesy photo
A countless stream of cars on U.S. Highway 175 leaving Athens accompany fallen Henderson County deputy Paul Habelt to his final resting place in Goshen Cemetery just north of Eustace.

Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–The first of two funerals was held Wednesday for the two deputies slain while answering a call for help.
Services for Henderson County Deputy Paul Steven Habelt, 63, were held at the First Baptist Church in Athens.
A second service for Tony Price Ogburn, 61, was held there Thursday.
It was a somber parade through Athens as business and traffic came to a stand still as the processions made their way out of the city.
All along the way, people lined the sidewalks, uncovered their heads and bowed as the processions passed by in a momentous show of respect for the men who lost their lives May 17 while responding to a call near Payne Springs.
A third officer Kevin Harris, 40, was wounded.
Closing out a very touching service, where a flag-draped coffin was honored in the sanctuary and miles long procession, was the final dispatcher’s call.
At the grave side, the last call was made over a public address system. The dispatcher called Habelt’s badge number to answer the call. “Clear channel one. ... S-O Five-fifteen ... (pause) ... S-O Five-fifteen.”
And then an officer’s voice responded with the out of service code reply: “S-O Five-fifteen is ten-seven for the remainder.”


Courtesy photo
Several hundreds of law enforcement officers line up at attention in front of First Baptist Church in Athens Wednesday in final tribute to Henderson County deputy Paul Habelt as his casket is loaded and his family prepare to leave the funeral service.





Local mom wins ‘Hometown Hero’
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The letter from her middle daughter spotlighted a very, exceptional mother in the Hometown Hero contest by Radio Station 102.7, The Blaze, out of Tyler.
Sally Simon was named Hometown Hero on Mother’s Day and the daughter’s letter was read on Doug Banks Morning Show.
“The radio station also called me the next day (May 14). I was very surprised. What a wonderful Mother’s Day present,” Simon said.
A $500 check was also awarded.
The daughter, Renee Simon–Corominas wrote in her letter, that her mother retired after 32 years as a nurse.
Then she went to the police academy at 56, and has become interested in helping missing and exploited children and became a CASA volunteer.
Corominas also told how her mother had raised her and her two siblings as a single mom.
Corominas was diagnosed with Crohns at age 11 and praised her mom for being there during many surgeries.
She said to be sure and mention she was her mom’s favorite daughter.
Simon laughed and said that was a family tradition.
“I used to send them off to school or to an activity and I would go down the line saying ‘you’re my favorite’ and then to the next one ‘you’re my favorite,’ but each child knew I was telling the other two the same,’” she said.
Simon’s real story includes a lot more than the daughter was able to put in her letter.
She was born and raised in a small town in Michigan.
Her dad coached the University of Michigan football team and she still gives the cheer, “Go Blue.”
Her two daughters and son are grown now.
“I was not doing well with retirement. I prayed about it and afterwards decided to go to the Kilgore (East Texas Police Academy) night classes in Athens,” she said.
She told of lots of sore muscles but discovered her younger classmates were suffering too. The class graduated in April, 2005.
“I was hired the next day by Malakoff Police Department. I got a very understanding and good training officer, Chief Billy Mitchell,” Simon said.
In the letter, the daughter said Simon went to a two-week conference in Houston, to learn more about “Missing and Exploited Children.”
She then brought the information back and shared it with local groups such as the local fire departments.
“Then a friend of mine encouraged me to volunteer for CASA (a children’s advocacy group), and in April I went through CASA’s three-week training program,” Simon said.
She is looking forward to her participation with the children’s welfare program.
“I was sworn in yesterday (May 21) by Judge Dan Moore as a guardian ad litem. As a guardian I will represent the children in court,” she said.
The Child Protective Services (CPS) is a very overburdened department.
“I really admire them for the work they do. As volunteers, we are able to help keep track of the children a lot better,” Simon explained.
She is active in her church, currently serving as the president of the Payne Springs United Methodist Women.
As for hobbies, Simon hesitated for a moment before saying she really didn’t do much else.
Well, there is her church volunteer work and the volunteer work with CASA and helping others when her help is needed.
Oh yes, she loves to sing.
“I belong to my church choir and I am a member of the Avanti Singers,” she said.
She also enjoys water aerobics at the East Texas Medical Center in Gun Barrel City.

Students research Vietnam War
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The Mabank Middle School sixth grade Language Honors Class prepared research papers on the Vietnam War.
The students then carried them on a field trip April 27, as the visited the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in Kaufman.
As part of their project, the students were seated in a tented area at the site, and read their papers.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Mabank Middle School students were spotlighted at the Mabank Independent School District board meeting. Pictured are (from left) students Hanna Thai, John Holstein, teacher Jerri Cheek, student Sydney Keane and Past Commandant Ken Henry of the Marine Corps League, the Longhorn Detachment.

Ken Henry, a Vietnam Veteran and the Aide-de-Camp to the Southern Division vice Commandant, was intrigued and listened as the students read their work.
He obtained permission to publish some of them in the Americanism History Book for the Marine Corps League.
At the May 21 Mabank Independent School District board meeting, Henry presented the class with a Certificate of Appreciation and an Americanism Award.
The teacher, Jerri Powell Cheek, was presented the distinguished Service Award.
Henry praised the MMS students saying they were well mannered, well behaved, and the teacher kept them under control, as opposed to other visiting school districts that allowed its students to run around uncontrolled.
The students enjoyed ringing the liberty bell, looking at the army tank on display and looking up family and friends names on the wall, Cheek said.
Three students were present at the board meeting and read their papers to trustees.
Hannah Thai wrote about the “Outcomes of the Vietnam War.” John Holstein, wrote of the “Battle of Hue.” And Sydney Keane wrote of the effects of “Agent Orange.”
When the students finished reading, Henry told Holstein he had served with one of the heroes of the battle mentioned in the paper that was read.

Log Cabin names new chief
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

LOG CABIN – Newly seated Log Cabin Council named a new police chief Monday.
Chris Smoot, formerly an officer in Trinidad and Athens resident was given full support as the new police chief.
Former police chief Buddy Barton was holding the post as an interim chief.
Several meetings called last week brought Barton under scrutiny for not following certain procedures, Mayor Gene Bearden told The Monitor.
Later, The Monitor learned, Barton had a car accident at Purtis Creek and hadn’t informed the council of it.
They found out about it on their own, city secretary Karen Cox said, about two weeks after it happened. “They didn’t like that,” she said.
Barton was terminated from being chief , however, he was offered a patrol officer post, but he declined, Cox said.
Smoot was interviewed Monday and hired on the spot, she said.
Smoot has had police chief experience in Caney City, where he started serving May, 2005 and continued with the city through April, 2007, as a reserve officer.
Previously, Smoot had been a trainer in the Van Zandt Sheriff’s Office canine division and also served as a deputy constable in VZ Precinct 4.