themonitoronline.gif (15865 bytes)

Current Issue
June 19
, 2011






News in Brief

Holiday closings
The Monitor office will be closed for Independence Day, Monday, July 4.
Federal, state and city offices, banks and post offices will also close (no mail delivery). If your bank is located inside another business, check with it for hours.

Advertising deadline
Display ad deadline is 4 p.m. Friday, July 1, for the Thursday, July 7, issue of The Monitor. Classified word deadlines are due by noon Tuesday, July 5.

First Baptist VBS
Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church located at 1320 S. Elm Street, Kemp, is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday (today) through Friday, June 19-24. The theme is “the Big Apple Adventure.” For information call the church or visit

Environmental camps
The Environmental Co-op is hosting Environmental Day Camps from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, and Thursday, June 23. For information on cost and reservations call (972) 524-0007.

CCL 49er’s seniors
The Cedar Creek Lake 49er’s Senior Citizens Club meets from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23 (and every Thursday night), for dancing to Chuck & the 49er’s. The band is great, decorations great, friendly atmosphere, no smoking or alcohol. Donation at the door. Located in Seven Points, two blocks south of SH 334 on Arnold Hills Road. Phone or fax to (903) 432-3552.

Styx Baptist gospel
The Styx Baptist Church is hosting its fourth Friday gospel music singing at 7 p.m. Friday, June 24, at 31800 FM 85. Bring your instruments, music, CDs, friends and family. Refreshments afterwards. For information call (214) 616-4659.

56th annual rodeo
The 56th annual Mabank Rodeo and Western week is set for Monday through Saturday, June 20-25, at the Andrew Gibbs Memorial Arena. Scheduled events are Monday queen rehearsal, Tuesday games at the Pavilion at 6:30 with bed races at 8 p.m., Wednesday Queen’s dinner, Thursday, Friday and Saturday rodeo performances at 8 p.m., with the traditional downtown parade at 5 p.m. Saturday. Dance at the pavilion after Saturday’s rodeo. The event is sponsored by the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department.

Library benefit tea
Tea with Christine at Seasons is from 2 to 4 p.m. every third Thursday, starting June 23, benefitting Tri-County Library and The Library at Cedar Creek Lake. Formal attire and a charge. RSVP to Christine Burton at Seasons, 508 S. Third Street, Mabank, by calling (903) 887-4077 or

Cowboy fundraiser
Rope, Catch & Ride for Christ Arena Team is hosting a fundraiser Saturday, June 25, at Mabank Rodeo, with a yearling colt. Monies earned benefit the Larry Hardgrave Memorial Arena. For information call Vickie Pyle at (903) 880-2695.

Camp Wetland
A day camp is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, with John Bunker at Sands Wetland, 655 Martin Lane, Seagoville. Small fee charged for camp, which includes lunch (adults pay for lunch). For information call Pam Corder at (469) 285-3370. Campers must RSVP to

Rotary anniversary
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake celebrates its 25th founding anniversary at the regular weekly luncheon at noon Friday, June 24.

Fisheries art event
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is hosting Art’s Better Outside from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 25 (free with regular admission). Artists from across Texas exhibiting, live raptor programs, food and fun. For information call James Booker at (903) 670-2266.

Humane Society
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, June 27. Please note meeting location change to Tri-county Library, 132 Market Street. Mabank.

Harbor Point POA
The Harbor Point POA meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at the HPPOA pavilion, located off Admiral Drive on Surfer View. Speaker is Bill Fackler with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 5-14 on boating safety and rules of the lake. For information call (903) 887-1630 or (903) 887-6117.

GBC July Fest
The GBC July Fest is set for 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday, July 2, at the new GBC Pavilion. Events include arts and crafts, food, fun, Lonestar amusements and fireworks. Concert includes Brian Milson, Johnny Cooper, No Justice and Derek Sholl. Concert gates open at 3 p.m. Information and tickets available by calling (903) 887-1087 or visit www.gunbarrelcity Coolers inside the gate area only for a charge. No bottles.

Four Mile Lutheran
Monday, July 4, Four Mile Lutheran Church will host its annual celebration, with the cemetery meeting at 10:30 a.m. followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. Bell will toll at the reading of each deceased veteran’s name. Bring a covered dish to share at noon in the parish hall. Meats, drinks and utensils provided. A silent auction will benefit the cemetery. Located two miles east of the Prairieville Store, at SH 90 and VZCR 2607.

Fishery fireworks
Fireworks are set at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center with free admission after 5 p.m. Monday, July 4. Fireworks to 10 p.m. One of the biggest fireworks displays in East Texas.

Senior center opening
Kaufman County Senior Citizens Services Inc. invites all to the grand opening of the Senior Center at the Ballpark, located at 405 W. Walnut in George Watts Park, Mabank, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7. Lunch will be provided by the city of Mabank. RSVP to (972) 563-1422 or (903) 887-3241 by Sunday, July 3.

Summer food program
Malakoff ISD is participating in the Summer Food Service Program, providing free meals for all children age 18 and under at Malakoff Elementary, 310 North Terry, Malakoff, and at the Oran White Civic Center, 701 North Tool Drive, Tool. Malakoff Elementary will offer breakfast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and lunch from noon to 1 p.m., while the Tool site offers lunch only from 11 a.m. to noon (first come, first served) through Thursday, June 30.

Kemp food program
The Kemp Summer Food Service Program is free to youth 1 to 18, starting with breakfast from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursdays (closed Fridays), through July 5, at the Kemp Junior High cafetorium, 102 Old U.S. 40, Kemp.

Microchip your pet
Southside Bank and Brookshire’s in Seven Points are sponsoring Paws and Claws from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, June 24. Buy a hot dog and drink, and any monetary or wish list donation will get a grooming discount at Tail Waggers. All proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake building campaign.

News & Brief Policy
News in Brief is a venue in which nonprofit organizations can promote their services and/or fundraising events at no cost.
These articles should include only basic information – who, what, when and where. Articles must include publishable contact information and a phone number.
The deadline for submission is 4 p.m. Monday for each Thursday’s issue and 4 p.m. Wednesday for each Sunday’s issue. Announcements will run for four issues (two weeks).
Organizations needing to relay more information on services or events, or who seek a longer promotion time, are encouraged to call our advertising staff at (903) 887-4511.
MediaOne LLC considers nonprofit organizations to be groups operating primarily on a volunteer basis providing a service for others. Organizations with paid employees cannot use this venue to promote their services.


main   sports  news  obits  lake life  events  views  classifieds  

Top News

Eateries to get 2 a.m. alcohol sale extension
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Another packed city council meeting heard citizens opinions on alcohol service – this time whether or not the city should extend the hours to 2 a.m. for the serving of alcoholic beverages in restaurants Thursday through Saturday.
After an hour of citizens’ comments and council discussion, Gun Barrel City council members directed the city manager to draft an ordinance to extend the time alcohol may be served in dining establishments.
Top executives from the Applebee’s restaurant chain and John Krantz, the owner of Shuck-n-Jive Cajun Oysters in Dallas, who plans to open a restaurant as part of Ted Pitman’s resort center The Hideout, attended the meeting.
They tried to reassure council members that their serving staffs were trained in the very stringent liquor-serving laws, which denies service to those exhibiting signs approaching intoxication.
Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation president Steve Webster explained that late-night dining is part and parcel of a resort destination. He added that a later cutoff time just allows for a later tapering off period and prevents loss of customers to an establishment in a city where they may be allowed to continue beverage service.
“The EDC has been chasing Applebee’s for a very long time,” he said.
“Applebee’s would bring in 60 to 100 jobs, resulting in a $500,000 payroll and $40,000 in additional sales tax. They just want to stay open to feed the kitchen and offer specials on food and drinks the last hour before closing,” Webster said.
Some discussion focused on the percentage of food to alcoholic beverage sales to be included in the new ordinance. The agenda item proposed a 70/30 split food and beverage.
Councilman Ronnie Johnson opposed the idea because the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules permit a 51/49 percent split, which he felt was too high on the beverage side.
Krantz suggested an ordinance similar to one used in Richardson and Dallas. He represents one of four eateries signed up so far to open as part of The Hideout.
City manager Gerry Boren said if the council gave the go-ahead, he would get the city’s lawyer involved in drafting the appropriate ordinance for the council to consider at a future meeting.
Boren spoke highly of the new lawyer assigned to the city as being very capable and willing to attend city council meetings if they were rescheduled. Council members unanimously agreed to change their regular meeting time to 6:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month, beginning June 28.
Another hot topic on Tuesday’s agenda was the voluntary annexing of Oak Harbor and Tanglewood additions.
The property owners association has been successful at cleaning up crime and improving streets throughout the addition, council members heard.
After a lengthy question and answer period and discussion, the council tabled the item, so it and the POA could meet in a workshop to iron out some of the details involved in merging about 600 house lots into the city.
Most council members agreed that the residents of the addition were contributing to the city’s welfare equally as those subdivisions already in the city.
A third potentially hot topic covered was the repair of CR 4006, a road connecting Harbor Road with Business 175.
Wood reported on a meeting with Mabank mayor Larry Teague and Kaufman County Precinct 4 Commissioner Tom Manning, where it was agreed that the county would do the repair work for free, if the two cities would split the $30,000 cost of road materials.
The proposal was unanimously turned down.
Council members felt this issue had previously been decided and should remain Mabank’s responsibility, regardless of city residents’ heavy use of the road and repeated complaints about its curent rundown condition.
In other business, council members:
• reappointed Sandy Janow and Jane Horton to the Park Board with terms to expire July, 2013. And added Barbara Webster to the board.
• declared structures at 751 Welch Lane as dangerous buildings, subject to removal.
• approved the replat of neighboring properties in Mantle Manors, so the owner can add a building on the adjoining property.


Randy Ball cleared for takeoff after heart crisis at 16,000 feet
Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake pilot tells of his death-defying robotic surgery
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE-A series of miracles that makes this year’s (and last year’s) Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake air show possible. Its founder and director, Randy Ball, 47, just nearly made his last journey into the “bright blue” a little more than a year ago. And had he been anywhere else but in the cockpit of his Russian MiG-17F at the time of a sudden health crisis, he would have been another story of healthy athlete drops dead of a heart attack.
Started seven years ago, Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake is set to launch at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 2. Lake-area residents have anticipated the air show as it has grown from year to year, making it the largest spectator event of the year in Henderson County.
It started with just Ball. He recruited other flyers and local and military interest from his many contacts in the rarified world of air shows. Last year’s show involved coordinating the flights of historical aircraft to the area from three airports over three counties for the Independence Day holiday spectacular – the only air show in the southwestern United States to be performed over water.
“I just wanted to share with my neighbors and the local communities the thrill of what I get to do,” Ball told The Monitor.
But only a few behind the scenes, knew the toll Ball paid to direct the show.
No one else could do it
He had all the contacts. He was a key element to making it all work.
“I was wiped out afterwards. I had to stay in bed for three days after that just to recover to normal,” Ball said.
As the saying goes: a prophet is without honor in his own hometown – and residents of Cedar Creek Lake just don’t know what a treasure Ball, his wife Jennifer, and the show really are.
Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake ( is one of two shows Ball is producing for America’s 235th birthday celebration this year. A full-blown version (using up all air fuel) has the full monetary support of the Tyler business community out of Pounds Field, Tyler and is set for the afternoon of Sunday, July 3.
It takes an enormous amount of goodwill, time, energy and funding to coordinate all the details involved in mounting an air-born production. And so, with the help of the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation (ccveteransfound and local community support, Ball, a 22-year veteran of performing air shows, is once again in the thick of it and glad to still be able to do it.
“I’m determined to return to commercial flying too,” Ball a pilot with Air Wisconsin on medical leave since March, 2010 added.
God is my co-pilot
Back then, Ball had landed his last commercial airline flight at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The next day, he was flying his MiG-17F Serial No. 1161 into Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Ala. from Meridian, Miss. for an air show. Leaving Meridian, he fulfilled a request from the tower for a photo fly-by. The sky was blue, perfect weather for a leisurely commute at 23,000 feet. But as he was ascending to his flight altitude, around the 16,000-foot level, things started going wrong.
He first noticed symptoms of not getting enough oxygen – his sight lost ability to see colors. Pilots call this “graying out.” It usually occurs when pilots start pulling upwards of four gravity fields (4Gs).
By this time, Ball was 200 miles between airports and losing his color vision, which was strange because he wasn’t pulling any Gs.
So, he checked his oxygen regulator. All was operational. Not knowing what was happening to him, he decided to switch the regulator to pure oxygen.
“The whole time, I’m trying to remain calm,” he said.
That’s when the first convulsion hit.
Ball describes it as “an extreme charley horse.” But this grabbing, muscle seizure was happening on the left side of his chest.
“I looked down and could actually see the muscles rippling through my flight suit. It was like a scene from a Sci-fi movie,” he said. The convulsions continued unpredictably.
Ball switched his air regulator to emergency pressurization, forcing oxygen into his lungs. If he were on the ground in an emergency room, the technicians would have achieved this through the insertion of a rigid breathing hose down the throat, he said.
He felt for his pulse and measured 170 beats per minute, when it should be around 65-75. Then Ball went in and out of consciousness for about 10 to 12 minutes. The aircraft began a gentle descent at 500 mph straight and level without autopilot.
Ball described that time as a state in which he was having a conversation with God. “I wasn’t panicked anymore. I was just thinking this is graduation day. And that’s fine, because I know where I’m going. But I would like to see my wife again,” he said. “There’s also a few more things I wanted to do before I died.”
Then he reasoned whether he should eject, would that get him to medical care any quicker? And what about the plane? Would it crash and kill someone?
The pressurized oxygen had him feeling reasonably well and restored consciousness and full vision.
Now, he attempted to make radio contact with the tower.
By this time, he was 10,000 feet off his filed altitude and less than 100 miles from the Air Force Base. But happily, no one seemed to notice, and he was cued up behind two F-18s to land, Ball said. Now he had to decide how to proceed. If he called in a medical emergency, there would be a long list of questions and procedures to follow, which Ball was not up to. So, he decides to radio that he was on minimum fuel. He was bumped up to first. He landed and taxied to his parking spot, where his crew chief came out to meet him.
“I tried to tell him without taking off my face mask that I needed to get to the clinic,” Ball said. The two arrived just as the base clinic was closing down, and Ball dropped to his knees. An EMT nurse took one look at him and called for an ambulance to rush him to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. A listen to his heart revealed a heart valve nearly completely open that wouldn’t close.
In March, 2010, Jackson Hospital was one of the very few hospitals in the nation to have the latest in robotic technology, the da Vinci® S HD™ surgical system. Dallas-Fort Worth didn’t even have it at the time.
In addition cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Stephen Kwan, one of six presidential surgeons stationed throughout the country should the president need his expertise, is on staff at Jackson Hospital, Ball said.
Using robotics technology, Kwan was able to make intricate repairs to Ball’s heart.
If it had been attempted the usual way, using a mechanical valve replacement or a swine’s heart valve (as was done for Barbara Walters recently), Ball’s flying days would have ended right then.
However, with the new state-of-the-art robotic system, the less invasive procedure could guarantee much better results with a faster return to normal.
Ball learned that the rupture of his heart valve was the result of scar tissue weakening the valve over time. Scar tissue formed due to an infection he had while an adolescent. He also learned that if he were the average Joe, his heart would probably not been weakened at all from the scar tissue until he was an old man and that he probably would have died in his sleep from it. But because he maintains a test pilot’s fitness level, always training to strengthen general health and function, the valve had become stressed to the point of breaking (usually always fatal). In addition, several of the muscular cords, which support the heart were torn in the episode (also usually fatal).
Using the latest robotics and space-age materials in making repairs, Kwan was able to reattach the broken cords with porous Kevlar thread. The lip-like leaflets of the valve were repaired with an O-ring insertion and one of the lips was permanently fixed to the heart wall. These repairs were made possible by lowering Ball’s core body temperature to 50 degrees, collapsing his lung and entering his stopped heart through a small 2-4 centimeter incision under his arm, instead of the 12-inch center incision common to open heart surgery.
The lowered temperature put his bodily functions to sleep, which were reawakened later in ICU in the nine days that followed the surgery.
“I got frostbite on my toes from the procedure,” Ball said.
He was kept unconscious until his ability to pump blood was measured at 23 percent. Following the surgery, it only measured 19 percent. Ball spent 20 days in Jackson Hospital.
Kindness of strangers
During that time, the Air Force housed his wife and parent. His best friends came down to be with him. Though Ball has never served in the military, base personnel treated him as one of their own, due to his 20 years of working air shows with the Air Force. He then went home on medication, which has been tweeked a couple of times in the last year to get it right.
However, 90 days after surgery, his center heart wall - the interatrial septum – was still inactive Typically, it may remain in shock from the procedure up to 90 days, Ball was told. However, after 10 months, it was still inactive.
This meant that his ability to pump blood remained very low. Before the surgery his capacity was measured at 70 percent. Runners typically reach percentages of 75. The average person measures at 63 percent.
Ball was told that if he didn’t have a functioning septum by now, he never would recover its function. But then again his surgeon also told Ball, he’d never seen anyone survive what happened to him.
Working with a retired cardio-rehab man who also happens to live at the Pinnacle, Ball continued Club. Ball continued to train, first walking across the living room without running out of breath, and then to walk the block took him another three months. But he and Mike Dane started seeing small improvements.
At 11 months after the surgery, movement in the lower half of the center heart wall began to be detected. The repair occurred in the top part of the septum where it connected with the burst heart valve.
With a lot of prayer, so far he’s been able to regain 20 to 25 percent of function on that center heart wall. That’s something, considering he was told, function would never return, he said.
Counting the miracles
If it weren’t for the tight facemask, upright rigid cockpit seat, Ball initiating the emergency pressurized oxygen when he did, getting on the ground quickly and to a hospital with robotic surgical abilities with one of the top cardiovascular surgeons in the country, Ball would probably not have survived.
“I know that the decision to go to pressurized O2 was a divine inspiration,” Ball said. His doctors have told him that was the defining moment to him remaining attached to the earth.
Until then, Ball had never spent a day in his life sick in a hospital bed. Now Ball is the seventh person to ever experience that kind of surgical repair of the heart.
Just weeks before a March, air show at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Miss., Ball was medically certified with the FAA to fly jets again, though he didn’t do any really aggressive flying, he said. Ball passed by 1 percentage point, he said.
His return to flying commercial customers around the country is still in the future, “but I get closer every day, he said.
“He lacks only a few more percentage points, before he can be return to work,” he said.
It was nearly one year to the day when he stepped back into the very cockpit that saved his life – or “the scene of the crime,” as he puts it.
“I remember having a flood of emotions as I took off. It was joy, anxiety, excitement, fear, the feeling before the first kickoff of a football game. I went down the runway and lifted off at about 150 knots, climbed over Lake Palestine and just eased at altitude. It was to be an easy sightseeing flight. But I couldn’t help myself, I had to do a nice slow roll. ‘I’m back! Look at this! Here I am seeing the world upside down in a fighter jet. How cool is this?’
“I thanked the Lord right there and then. I was keenly aware of divine intervention and healing in all of this,” Ball said. His landing was also special.
“It was much like landing after my first air show,” he said, with congratulations and pats on the back all around.
Editor’s note: Don’t miss seeing Ball fly his MiG-17F in Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake, Saturday, July 2. Ball also asks readers to consider generously supporting the air show with donations to the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation (CCVF).
He’d like to see donations rise so only 25 percent of the donations are used to fuel the show and the other 75 percent go to support military charities. These include the Navy Marine Corp Relief Fund, the Wounded Warriors Project and Fisher House – a home away from home for military families with loved ones undergoing treatment at the VA Hospital in Dallas.
Last year, the event raised $25,000 above expenses. Ball says from the air, he can see thousands of spectators lined up along shorelines, not counting the number of boats, to see the free show.
“Every pilot and organization participating cuts their expenses to the bone and are housed locally in order to squeeze as much value from every dollar spent on producing the show here,” he said.
Ball’s own services both as air show producer and pilot are totally donated.
Won’t you consider making a generous donation and or collecting a donation from friends and family coming in to see the show for the CCVF (

Traffic stop yields meth
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–A late-night traffic stop along Main Street in Gun Barrel City led officers to a large quantity of suspected methamphetamine in the vehicle.
Henderson County Special Assignment Deputy Joey Durr initiated the traffic stop, with HCSO narcotics investigators David Faught and Wick Gabbard assisting, county sheriff Ray Nutt reported in a prepared news release issued Tuesday.
During a search of the vehicle, investigators uncovered the suspected methamphetamine, Nutt reported.
The driver, identified as Kellie Unese Kelsay, 22, was arrested on a charge of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, more than four grams and less than 200 grams, which is a first degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
Kelsay was booked into the county jail at 1:54 a.m. Tuesday. At presstime Thursday, Kelsay remained in the county jail under a $100,000 bond.






















































Copyright © 2011, MediaOne, L.L.C.