People, Places & Events



Kiwanis meet children’s author
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Working with children most of her life, Sharon Ellsberry began writing to answer a mid-life need for accomplishment.
Now, Ellsberry has written and published two children’s books.
“Being a children’s author speaks to my soul,” she told the Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis club Wednesday.
Originally employed in fashion merchandizing, Ellsberry operated a gift store for four years in downtown Plano.
“I worked hard, but I didn’t make much money,” she recalled. Turning to sales, she covered the West Texas area for several years.
“That’s when writing came back into my life,” Ellsberry said. “When I was out in West Texas, I would sit in the hotel and write.
“I loved to write short stories, poetry and children’s stories,” she added.
About the time she turned 45, Ellsberry said she began questioning her life and accomplishments.
She had served as a Big Sister – mentoring a girl from age 6. The girl is now 20 and enrolled in college.
“So, I began taking some writing classes,” she recalled. Her first major effort proved to be the basis for her first book.
During the class, everyone critiqued the story, as required, but later, the professor came up to Ellsberry and urged her to make the suggested corrections, as he thought the story would be publishable.
Another breakthrough came because she wanted to find a Chatty Cathy doll, similar to the one she had enjoyed in childhood.
Ellsberry told a close friend about her search. It happened that the friend’s husband was the pastor of a local church, and the church was collecting things for a garage sale fund-raiser.
Lo and behold, a blond-haired Chatty Cathy doll was sitting atop a pile of garage sale items on the pastor’s desk, she recalled.
“That was just too cool,” Ellsberry said, and she developed a story about that experience.
The story was published in a magazine, which (coincidently) came out just as Mattel Toys and retail giant J.C. Penney were reissuing the Chatty Cathy doll.
The publisher, Skyrocket Press, taught Ellsberry how to make presentations to children, using a PowerPoint display.
Each of her books include original songs from the main character, Joe Cocker Spaniel.
“It struck me as I was waving bye to the kids – ‘Oh my goodness! I’m a part of their childhood!’” she recalled.
A June, 2007, move to Athens allowed her to become a full-time author and speaker, and she uses her books to teach character and characterization, both major themes in TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) writing tests.
Referring to a classic Disney song from the 1964 movie “Mary Poppins,” Ellsberry said the stories were the “spoonful of sugar” that helps children swallow lessons about writing.
In her first book, “The Spaniel Family Goes to the State Fair,” the theme of the book (which involves three dogs attending the Texas State Fair) is about sharing, while the theme of her second book, “The Spaniel Family’s Pen Pal Adventure,” is about learning new (Spanish) cultures.
Ellsberry talked about two of her favorite childhood books, “The Mailman of Mayberry Lane,” and “The Littlest Snowman.”
“In (the Mailman book), you learn in order to have friends, you must be a friend,” she said. “Snowman is about sharing and how sharing can bring joy to others.”
Kiwanis members talked briefly about their favorite childhood books, which included a number of Dr. Seuss stories.
Ellsberry’s books are available at the Tri-County Library in Mabank and the Henderson County Library in Athens, as well as through and her website,
One can contact Ellsberry toll-free at (800) 317-4804.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Sharon Ellsberry reads from her first children’s book to Cedar Creek Lake
Kiwanis club members at their weekly meeting Wednesday.

Self-guided water management educational site planned
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Water management is a number one concern across drought-prone regions of the state and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Agent Ralph Davis has plans for Kaufman County.
“What we have in mind is an outdoor learning center – a self-guiding water educational tour for the public,” he said.
The site will demonstrate the best water management practices, he added.
Monday, Kaufman County Commissioners the site is located near the South Campus (old jail site), just off State Highway 34, Davis said
“The project will cost approximately $30,000, but the county will not be out any funds as the funds are coming from various agencies that support water literacy projects,” Davis explained.
Work will begin immediately on what will be called the Garden Learning Center.
“When finished, we would like to put another one in Mabank,” he added.
Members of the public will be able to follow marked rock trails to various water saving demonstrations.
The features range from a bog garden, demonstration garden, rainwater tanks, a rain garden, rainbarrel storage and several other features including the possibility of a pavilion.
Work on the project will begin immediately, Davis said.
“However we don’t plan to do any planting until fall, when the weather is cooler,” he explained.
Brad Ackerman, president of the Kaufman County Master Gardeners Association and project leader, said volunteers will put in an estimated 850 hours on the development of the project at a dollar value totaling $16,584.
“Texas A&M University is providing technical support and guidance on all aspects of the project,” Davis added.
In other business, commissioners:
• authorized the submission of a disaster relief fund grant application to the office of Rural Community Affairs.
• approved advertising for a request for proposal for a communication satellite for the Sheriff Department’s mobile command trailer.
Purchasing agent Jack Sabastian said bidding will close Friday, July 18 and be acknowledged Monday, July 21.
• agreed to advertise for bids for a used pulverizing machine for Precinct 4.
Bids will also close Friday, July 18 and be acknowledge Monday, July 21.
• approved Mid-America of Dallas for the food services contract for the detention center.
• approved a professional services contract for on-line auctioneer services with Rene Bates Auctioneers, Inc.
• approved the final re-plat for lot 57 in Kaufman Estates.
• heard a presentation by Curtis Snow on plans to revitalize the business section of downtown Kaufman.
• appointed David Williams to replace Jimmy Hutchins on the Kemp Emergency Services District.
• accepted the annual road report from Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller.
• approved road repairs listed as the city of Scurry desires.
• approved a request from Embarq to install its communication drop line under the roadway of County Road 280, Precinct 1 and under CR Plain View Drive in Precinct 4.
• approved budget transfers as presented by county auditor Hal D. Jones.
• paid bills totaling $946,876.44.

MISD earns superior financial rating
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Despite the bond indebtedness for the new high school and planned renovations, Mabank Independent School district remains in very sound financial status.
In a report Monday to school trustees by Assistant Superintendent of Business Administration Scott Adams, the district passed the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), with a score of 82.
The maximum score is 85, which gave the district a Superior Achievement rating.
“The average spent per student was above the allotment of $250 per student, due to the outstanding bond amount,” Adams said, adding that lowered the points for the district.
The rating is always based on information supplied the year before, in this instance the 2006-07 school year, he said.
FIRST ratings are as follows:
• Substandard achievement – below 55.
• Standard achievement –55-64
• Above Standard achievement – 65-74
• and Superior Achievement 75-85.
In other business, trustees:
• approved the custodial contract with GCA Services Group of Texas for one more year.
The area to be cleaned has been increased by about 90,000 square feet, Superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall said.
“We will continue to ask them to ratchet it up,” Marshall said, following some comments about the service needing to be improved.
“I still think they have a way to go,” board president Gary Sapp said, adding he hoped the service continued to grow in its abilities.
• postponed any major work on the Intermediate School parking lot.
Trustees decided to take no action until the expansion of State Highway 198 is completed. Until then it was decided to just patch and re-stripe.
• approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Mabank regarding a resource officer.
“It’s the same each year – Mabank Police Department furnishes personnel and sends us a bill,” Adams said.
• approved the 2008-09 student handbooks for all activities.
• approved the first reading of Texas Association of School Board (local) Policy Update 83.
• were reminded the TASB convention is set for Friday through Sunday, Sept. 26-28 at the Dallas Convention Center.
• heard a simple report from Marshall on the concession stand refurbishing.
“It looks great,” he said. Trustees have also visited the stand and agreed with the assesment.
• heard the monthly financial report, cash position and tax collection report as presented by Adams.
Budget workshops were set for Monday, July 7 and Tuesday, July 15.
“The last day to adopt the budget is Thursday, Aug. 28,” Adams said.

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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