Sunday, July 8, 2007






  Apartments evacuated
Bomb squad detonates explosives
Courtesy Photos/Jim McKee
ABOVE: A Garland Police Department bomb squad member dons protective clothing in order to carry out controlled detonations of two explosive devices found in a Mabank apartment Tuesday. Both devices were successfully detonated. BELOW: A remote-controlled robot equipped with a TV camera enters a Mabank apartment to remove two explosive devices.

Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Air-conditioner repairmen discovered what appeared to be nearly two dozen pipe bombs inside a Mabank apartment Tuesday.
Garland Police Department bomb experts later removed and detonated two devices after nearby residents had been evacuated from the Grand Avenue Apartments.
Mabank Police Chief Alex Smith said it appeared the apartment’s occupant, Michael Wayne Woods, was trying to build his own powerful fireworks out of smaller commercial fireworks.
Woods, who is in his early 20s, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, and was released from the Kaufman County Jail Wednesday after posting $2,500 bond.
GPD bomb squad commander Lt. C.T. Payne said the improvised explosives were much more dangerous than the original fireworks.
“When photo flash powder (used in aerial fireworks) gets wet, and then dries out again, that (chemically) changes it,” Payne said. “Once you put it into a container, it becomes an explosive.”
That danger became apparent when the bomb squad detonated the second device, which exploded with far more force than the first device.
“One of them became high-order while we were disposing of it,” Payne said.
Smith said the apartment complex manager had sent two men to repair the air-conditioner in Apartment 22, home to Woods, his wife and a child.
When the repairmen entered the apartment, they discovered approximately two dozen devices on a table, and quickly vacated the room to contact the manager, who then called police around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, Smith said.
Twelve apartments – all eight in that building and four more in an adjacent building – were evacuated, involving 15 or 20 people.
Some residents were at work, and one apartment was vacant, Smith said.
In addition to the evacuations, Mabank volunteer firefighters, city employees and police blocked traffic on Grand Avenue in both directions.
Along with the GPD bomb squad, FBI agents and federal ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents were also involved with the investigation, Smith said.
The bomb squad used a wheeled robot to enter the apartment and televise a view of the devices. Approximately 21 tubes, two to three inches tall, were visible through the robot’s camera.
Using the robot’s mechanical arm, the bomb squad picked up two devices and removed them from the apartment.
Both devices were later detonated in the pasture behind the apartment complex, and Payne gave Smith the “all clear” signal at 3 p.m.
No injuries were reported.
Police were able to make contact with Woods through his family, and he was arrested without incident when he arrived at the apartments during the investigation.
Payne said “a small amount” of explosive powder had been recovered from the apartment.

MediaOne buys The Malakoff News
Monitor Staff Reports
MALAKOFF–The publisher of The Monitor and The Lake Area Leader is strengthening its position in the Cedar Creek Lake Area.
MediaOne, LLC, has purchased The Malakoff News from Loretta Humble, owner of the weekly newspaper for more than 12 years.
The paperwork on the sale was completed June 29 and the property changed hands July 1.
The Malakoff News, The Monitor and The Lake Area Leader will have a combined distribution of more than 37,000 copies each week.
“This gives the company the resources to offer the best and most thorough coverage of the entire Cedar Creek Lake Area,” MediaOne president John Buzzetta said. Humble will continue with The Malakoff News and MediaOne as a consultant and columnist.
Michael V. Hannigan will continue as editor.
“We have a strong, solid editor with Mike Hannigan at The Malakoff News, and we look forward to working with him,” Buzzetta said.
Susan Harrison is the general manager for MediaOne, which also publishes The Kerens Tribune in Navarro County and is affiliated with four other weekly newspapers in Van Zandt County, as well as two monthly publications.
Each week, the combined publications reach more than 120,000 readers in Henderson, Kaufman, Navarro and Van Zandt counties.

The Monitor wins awards in TPA “Better Newspaper Contest”
Monitor Staff Reports
SAN ANTONIO–The Monitor received two first-place plaques and a second-place certificate at the annual Texas Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest awards brunch June 23 in Austin.
Competing in the TPA’s small semi-weekly division against 2006 work from other semi-weekly newspapers from around the state, The Monitor finished with 275 points – enough for fourth place in the division’s Sweepstakes category.
“Each story written and photo taken are given our best efforts,” managing editor Pearl Cantrell said. “Each time we layout an issue, we ask ourselves: Is this a winning design – can it be done better?
“I’m very proud of this recognition for the teamwork involved in producing a quality newspaper. The Monitor reflects well on the communities of Cedar Creek Lake,” she said.
Editor Kerry Yancey received a first-place award for Sports Photo, given for a two-picture entry.
Yancey and staff writer Barbara Gartman also won first-place plaque for Feature Story, with each writer submitting a story for the entry.
Yancey and Cantrell took second place in the News Photo category, with each submitting photographs.
The TPA’s Winners’ Circle publication, listing all of the winners, reprinted one of the two photographs submitted by Yancey in the Sports Photo competition, showing high jump competition at the District 12-3A track meet at Eustace, printed in the April 16 issue.
In their commentary, judges noted “Excellent sequence” for a three-picture run of action during the Kemp Yellowjackets’ contest against the Van Alstyne Panthers in the baseball area championship series, printed in the May 18 issue.
Judges also said the high jump picture “is effective because of the people watching. Great stuff!”
For the Feature Story competition, The Monitor submitted Barbara Gartman’s story about Kemp High School senior Jon Ellison building a prize-winning 1957 Chevrolet pickup from scraps under the direction of his father.
Gartman’s story was accompanied by her photograph of Ellison and his father with the truck, and was printed on the front page of the April 9 issue. Judges noted: “Cute story, good writing style.”
The second story, written by Yancey and including his photographs, profiled Mabank High School sophomore Melody “Mo” Lander, a standout athlete and musician born without a left hand, which ran on the sports page of the March 16 issue.
In their comments on the Lander story, judges noted: “Good headline and good story. Like the use of sources and good writing style.”
For the News Photo competition, The Monitor submitted Yancey’s photo of the downtown Mabank fire that destroyed four historic buildings, which ran on the front page of the Aug. 3 issue.
The second news photo entry, shot by Cantrell, showed a helicopter crew and a muddy survivor from a mid-lake rescue operation, which ran on the front page of the Sept. 21 issue.


News story “Rescue in the bottoms,” by Pearl Cantrell featured this photo – which contributed to a second place win in news photo coverage.






BELOW: “Using the Fosbury flop to flip over the top” sports photo by Kerry Yancey won raves from judges as well as this sequence of photos above, catching all the action between Kemp Yellowjacket catcher Brett Kennedy and Van Alstyne Panther baserunner Kyle Mounger.

Feature story “Following in dad’s footsteps” by Barbara Gartman featured Jon Ellison (right) and his father Jack and their award winning home-built 1957 pickup.







This color photo by Kerry Yancey accompanied the story “Fire destroys four buildings in historic Market Street” and took second in the News Photo category.




BELOW: Feature story “Mo knows” by Kerry Yancey showcased Mabank High School student Melody ‘Mo’ Lander, an outstanding varsity player and state-level musician.