City: ‘Clean up your act, school
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City is putting Mabank ISD on notice that it
is not going to sit idle, while deteriorating district properties
continue to blight its city as eye sores.
On June 24, the council authorized the city to take the matter up with
state officials, initially with Rep. Betty Brown and senators Bob
Nichols and Dr. Robert Deuell.
“Over the years, Mabank ISD has foreclosed on properties for back
taxes,” Councilman Charles Townsend told The Monitor.
The number of such properties in the city now amount to 125, he said.
Many are overgrown with weeds, brush and contain abandoned trailer
houses in violation of city ordinances.
“The worst examples of unkept properties in Gun Barrel City are owned by
the school district,” he said.
Board trustees have been avoiding compliance with city code by “hiding
behind this trustee legality,” he added.
Townsend believes some of the violations have a corresponding state
violation and hopes to pursue these with state officials, he said.
Gun Barrel City isn’t the only Cedar Creek Lake community with this
problem. Tool and Seven Points also have similar situations, Townsend
According to the Henderson County Appraisal District Mabank ISD is the
registered owner of about 146 properties in the county.
“We don’t own the property. Knowledgeable people understand that these
lots are not owned by the district,” Mabank ISD superintendent Dr.
Russell Marshall responded.
“I understand that these abandoned lots are a problem, but trying to
place the responsibility to upkeep these lots on the school district is
simply unfair and inappropriate,” he added.
He regarded Townsend’s comments as misinformed.
“In fact, if we spent public school funds on these funds, it is probably
illegal. We spend our money on educating our children. The only
district-owned property in Gun Barrel City is Lakeview Elementary, and
it is a show place,” Marshall said.
In fact, Lakeview Elementary is valued at $5,274,740 by the Henderson
County Appraisal District. It is one of nearly 150 properties the
appraisal district lists under the owner name of Mabank ISD.
“Yes, Mabank ISD is now the owner of those properties and are tax exempt
as a property owner,” Lori Fetterman of the appraisal district told The
Since the school district is supported through property taxes, it should
be in their interest to maintain these properties, Gun Barrel City
councilwoman Kathy Cochran said.
“Their rundown condition is negatively affecting property values. If
they kept the properties maintained, they’d receive more property tax
due to the increased value of neighboring properties and the difference
could pay for the mowing,” she explained.
“And what about the children who walk past these properties that are so
overgrown? They’ve become a haven for rodents, snakes and the like. Does
the school district think about that? I bet if some of these properties
were in the same neighborhoods as some of the trustees, they’d see that
something was done.”
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
One of the worst properties listed as being owned by the Mabank school
is at 126 Maple Leaf St. in Mantle Manors.
Defeated Trinidad council
candidate alleges city election irregularities
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
TRINIDAD–A petition filed in 392nd District Court last week asks to have
the May 10 Trinidad City Council election overturned and a special
election ordered because of irregularities in the way the election was
Specifically, the petition says that one of the alternate election
judges was the sister of one of the candidates, a violation of state
In that election, Velma Womack, Betty Terry and Kay Wiggins Hernandez,
all incumbents, were returned to their seats on the council. Newcomer
Rob Hebrank was the fourth candidate in the race, and was not elected.
Alternate election judge Judy Hernandez is the sister of Kay Wiggins
Texas Election Code 32.054 makes a person “ineligible to serve as an
election judge or clerk in an election if the person is employed by or
related within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity … to an
opposed candidate for public office …”
Trinidad Mayor Chris Quinn said the mistake was a simple oversight.
Quinn said Judy Hernandez has been serving as an election official for
many years, long before her sister was elected to the council, and no
one thought to change that when Kay Wiggins Hernandez chose to run for
Both Kay Wiggins Hernandez and Terry are named as defendants in the
petition. Womack was not named.
Womack led all candidates in the May election, polling 49 votes. Kay
Wiggins Hernandez came in second with 44 votes, Terry had 37, and
Hebrank had 33.
Hebrank is the plaintiff in the petition. He declined to comment on the
petition this week.
The petition alleges “one or more of the following occurred” during the
• Eligible voters were subject to undue influence or persuasion;
• Violation of election code requirements was tantamount to fraud;
• Illegal conduct was present during the course of the election;
• The voting tally was conducted in an illegal and suspect manner;”
• The outcome of the election would have differed but for the illegal
conduct of the parties.
In addition to the new special election, the petition asks for citations
to be issued to the defendants and that the plaintiff be awarded all
court costs and attorneys fees, “and all such other relief that he may
be entitled to under the law or in equity.”
Hebrank’s attorney, Stephen Evans of Palestine answered questions by
Womack was not named because, “The election code provides that any or
all of the other candidates are potential defendants, but where those
candidates may have vote totals that are within the realm of suspect, or
inappropriate election conduct or vote count, then those candidates
should properly be joined in an election contest,” Evans wrote.
“The remaining candidate (Womack) did not have any apparent connection
with the known violation, and her vote totals do not appear to be
suspect,” Evans added.
“We would encourage anyone with knowledge of such events to contact my
office in that regard,” he writes.
Evans wrote that the next step in the process, after the defendants
respond, will be for a special visiting judge to be appointed.
TVCC offers freshman orientation
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Navigating paperwork can be a challenge for students attending
college for the first time, but Trinity Valley Community College has a
cure for the confusion.
TVCC is offering freshman orientation sessions in July and August.
The one-day sessions can make all the difference for incoming students,
director of guidance services Linda Daniel said.
“The programs are designed to give new students a first-hand look at
college life,” Daniel added.
Students in freshman orientation sessions get to spend a day on campus
getting some special attention.
Students are walked around the campus and get the chance to ask
questions about important issues such as navigating financial aid,
attending student activities and learning vital rules to attending
“Freshmen at orientation also have a better chance of getting the
classes they want, because they get to go through the registration
process,” Daniel said.
Students will get to talk to counselors and other faculty members
without the rush of registration happening around them.
Oftentimes, lines at counseling and financial aid can be long during
Freshman orientation is open to any 2008 high school graduate, any
freshman who has never attended college and any student who has fewer
than 12 semester hours of credit.
For the convenience of the students, two separate sessions have been
planned on the Athens campus.
Session I will be held July 24 with a reservation deadline date of July
Session II will be held Aug. 14 with a reservation deadline date of July
Total cost for each session is $20 for orientation on the Athens campus.
The fee includes a lunch and program materials.
A check, money order or credit card information for the total amount
must accompany the reservation form.
Forms can be picked up at the college in the counseling or school
If a student decides not to attend the orientation, the fee is
The TVCC campuses in Palestine and Terrell will both hold freshman
orientation Aug. 12. Orientation on those two campuses is free of
Students interested in orientation must provide:
• THEA, Q-THEA, COMPASS, ASSET or ACCUPLACER test results if the student
plans to seek a two-year degree,
• High school transcript stamped with final graduation date,
• Application, and
• Residency forms.
For more information on freshman orientation, call (903) 675-6350 or
(903) 675-6204 for Athens, (903) 729-0256 for Palestine and (972)
563-9573 for Terrell.
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
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
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