Sunday, June 6, 2010



  Domestic disputes end in stabbings
Step-father stabs step-son; wife stabs husband in separate incidents
Monitor Staff Reports

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Two separate domestic disputes Tuesday and Wednesday each ended in stabbings.
Monday’s incident involved a rural Athens step-father and step-son, according to information released by Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt.
The sheriff’s office responded to an aggravated assault report involving a 27-year-old male, who had been stabbed with a knife at a residence along Farm-to-Market 733 just outside Athens.
Deputy Ray Yockey began the investigation at the East Texas Medical Center Athens emergency room, where he met with the victim, identified as Brandon Alexander.
Alexander had a stab wound to his lower left side, Nutt reported in a prepared news release.
Alexander stated he had been stabbed by his step-father, Francis Jonathan Wood, during an altercation at Wood’s home.
Wood, 49, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and was still jailed, awaiting arraignment, as of Thursday morning.
Yockey was assisted by Maj. Botie Hillhouse, investigator Michael Shelley and Sgt. Robert Powers, Nutt reported.
Tuesday, the sheriff’s office received a call about a stabbing at a residence in the Hidden Hills Harbor subdivision in Payne Springs.
Deputies responded to a residence on Hidden Hills Drive and found Richard Gatlin, 47, had suffered a stab wound to his back.
Deputies also located and detained Gatlin’s wife, Glenda, 49, at the scene.
Investigators Kalon Rollins, Kendall Wellman, David Faught and Ronny Halbert processed the scene, and determined Glenda Gatlin had stabbed her husband with a pair of scissors.
Richard Gatlin was transported to the ETMC in Athens, where he was treated and later released.
Glenda Gatlin was transported to the county jail, where she remained jailed, awaiting arraignment on a charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, as of Thursday morning.

First State Bank story is 75 years in the making
Special to The Monitor
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Local branches of First State Bank are celebrating their founding this week with receptions 11 a.m - 1 p.m. Monday in Gun Barrel City and at the same time Tuesday in Mabank. Branches in Malakoff, Athens and Corsicana are also marking the occasion Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The first meeting between Jeff Austin Sr. and Charles Hooser – the men behind one of the most successful banking partnerships in East Texas – took place on a farm in Frost.
Austin came from a banking family and had begun to buy small banks with partners who would then stay and run them.
FirstStateBankMabank.jpg (248309 bytes)
First State Bank in Mabank joins 75th anniversary celebration Tuesday.
Charlie Hooser knew the bank in Italy, Texas was for sale, and Bill Holman put the two of them together.
The two men agreed to meet at the farmhouse of Charlie Hooser’s in-laws, the parents of Nedra Hooser.
By all accounts, it took little time for them to come to an agreement.
“Mr. Austin and Dad were both pretty quick to recognize a good deal and act on it,” Nikki Hooser said.
“They could make up their minds about something important in 30 seconds and give you an answer,” Hooser’s brother-in-law, Weldon Holley,” said.
“Everything they ever touched seemed to work,” he added.
“They hit it off from the beginning. At first they were just business associates, but it became a friendship. Jeff and (his wife) Opal were easy to be with,” recalled Nedra Hooser.
The bank in Italy proved to be successful, so in 1967 the two men set their sights on another institution. This time it was the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Athens, Texas.
“Daddy saw there was growth potential here. He felt as though they had the support of the directors and community leaders,” daughter of Jeff Austin Sr. Jane Austin Chapman said.
Retired loan officer Betty McClure, who worked at the bank from 1961 to 2000, recalled the morning in 1967 when the employees of the Farmers and Merchants were asked to gather in the bank’s coffee shop.
“We were all looking at one another and mostly holding our breath. Then, in steps two men whom I didn’t know. One began to speak,” McClure said.
“He said, ‘Good morning. I’m Jeff Austin, and this is Charlie Hooser, and we just bought this bank.’”
The announcement at first filled McClure with dread. “Little did I know,” she said, “that this was the best thing that could have happened – to me and the bank.”
Farmers and Merchants became First State Bank, and the Hooser family moved to Athens, with Charlie Hooser immediately becoming bank president.
“Within mere days,” recalled McClure, “we were all settled down due to the calm and confident manner with which Charlie handled the customers, as well as employees.”
Hooser served as president until 1970, when he again partnered with Jeff Austin Sr., this time to purchase a bank in Corsicana.
Though he took over as president of the Corsicana bank, he remained on the board of directors at First State Bank Athens until his death.
Likewise, Austin Sr. served the rest of his life as the bank’s chairman.
In the years since 1967, First State Bank has grown to a position of prominence both in terms of reputation and performance, with First State now one of the highest-performing banks in Texas.
Jeff Austin Jr. is quick to point out that the bank’s success is traced back not 43 years, but 75, when Farmers and Merchants State Bank was chartered in 1935.
“The people who formed the bank 75 years ago in the middle of the Great Depression were courageous for doing so,” he said. “We’re here now because of them.”
Jane Austin Chapman credits the “excellent people,” past and present, who have worked at First State Bank and the succession of exceptional directors who have served the bank.
Included among the many past directors are Joe Browning, Dr. Norris Holt, A.M. Barnes Jr., Arthur Hawn, Ted True and Leo Jones, to name just a few.
Also deserving to be lauded are the many exceptional leaders who have served as bank presidents over the past 75 years.
The last three to hold the title are Pat Neill, W.M. “Bill” Key and current bank president Jess Laird.
Pat Neill led the bank from 1970 to 1981. First State Bank Executive vice president Steve Moore recalls Neill as a quiet and kind man who built close relationships with those whom he did business with.
“People liked him. He wasn’t flashy. There was no pretense. He just cared about people,” Moore said.
“Dad was so fun and friendly, I think he would have been great to work for, but then he was my dad,” downtown branch manager Michael Neill said.
Pat Neill passed away in this spring.
Bill Key served as president of First State Bank from 1981 until his retirement in 1999. It was during his watch that First State Bank Athens began to add branches, with locations in Mabank, Malakoff and Tyler Street in Athens opening from 1987 to 1994.
“He was good at watching over things, yet he gave his managers quite a bit of discretion.”
“One of Bill’s strengths as president was his ability to judge character well. He brought in good people,” Moore said.
Key continues to live in Athens.
Jess Laird took over as bank president in 1999 and immediately began shepherding First State Bank into the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
“The use of technology is vital to our success and important to our customers in so many ways,” Laird said.
“When it comes to customer service we have the best of both worlds; technology to provide efficiencies and banking products, but with a culture of hometown service.”
“He understands how the best use of technology benefits us as a bank internally and our customers,” Michael Neill said.
“He’s also helped us grow while maintaining our quality. First State Bank hasn’t suffered big swings with the economy. We’ve maintained a stable, steady growth, and I don’t see that changing,” Moore said.


Air show to benefit local vets
Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake supports the Fisher House next to Dallas Veterans Hospital
By Bob O’Neil, CCVF president
Special to The Monitor

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Preparations are underway for the Fourth of July Air Show beginning at 6 p.m., Saturday, July 3.
The Cedar Creek Lake area event features the only demonstration of military aerial feats over water in Texas.
This year, Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake will highlights USAF F-16 Viper jet demonstration team, the B-1 bomber, a C-130 troop transport and two B-25 Mitchell Bombers, like those featured in the movie “Pearl Harbor.”
Again this year, a narration and reenactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor with Japanese Zeros and a breathtaking dog fight, complete with smoke, fire and explosions will leave you awestruck.
The air show will be a spectacular array of both civilian and military aircraft, that you won’t want to miss.
Also, an opportunity to speak to the pilots is afforded during a luau party 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 2 at the Pinnacle Club for the cost of a $15 ticket.
A free aircraft static display is planned from 10 a.m. Saturday at the historic Aviation Memorial Museum at Pounds Air Field.
In the six years that the air show has been held, crowds have steadily increased. No admission is charged to those watching from the lake shore or from boats, unless you prefer a seat among the VIPs at the Pinnacle Club.
Last year, some forward thinking residents saw that they could use the air show as a means to support our troops in all the armed forces. After all, none of us would enjoy the Fourth, if it weren’t for the brave men and women who sacrifice for our protection.
There is no better time to say, “Thank You.”
As a result, the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation ( was formed.
Due to the generous contributions of Pinnacle Club homeowners, residents and businesses, proceeds from Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake raised by the CCVF were donated to the Fisher House in Dallas on Veterans Day, 2009.
The Fisher House provides free housing and meals to military families with loved ones undergoing extensive medical or rehab care. To learn more about the Fisher House, go online to
Veterans and their families stay at no charge for as long as a loved one undergoes treatment at the hospital.
The CCVF has received requests on how others may join us in supporting East Texas veterans and their families.
In addition to the commercial sponsorships sought to underwrite the air show, we will be doing a fund-raising drive to allow Cedar Creek residents and their families to participate.
This is a wonderful way to show your children and grandchildren that patriotism is a verb.
Any monetary amount is appreciated to:
CCVF, P.O. Box 489,
Mabank TX 75147-0489
Those donating $150 or more receive a printed yard sign to announce your support of our veterans.
Those who donate $250 or $500 will also receive 2 or 4 VIP tickets to the air show as a thank you.
Those donating $1,000 and $2,500 will receive four or eight VIP air show tickets and two or four tickets to the fund-raisers luau.
When sending your donation, be sure to include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to receive your corresponding incentives.
A CCVF representative will be happy to make a presentation to your homeowners association, club or church group.
If you have any questions, call me at (903) 681-4546, or send an e-mail to
As a nonprofit organization, the CCVF thanks you for your help in showing appreciation to all our armed service personnel through your tax-deductible donations.


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