Sunday, August 5, 2007






  Talented Texan makes top 10
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Terry Fator, son of Realtor Marie Sligh, made the top 10 on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night.
Fator does a combination of singing and impersonations, combined with his highly skilled ventriloquist act.
Tuesday’s rendition of the Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole song “Unforgettable” earned him high praises from the judges and enough votes from the live and television audience to be in the top 10.
“You are the best ventriloquist I have ever seen,” contest judge Piers Morgan said.
Contestants will continue their competition until only one remains to collect a million-dollar prize.
Sligh is a Realtor with Johnson Monroe Realtors and is the president of the Henderson County Women’s Council of Realtors.

Mabank ISD in rare form
TEA ratings released, area schools make the grade
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The Mabank Independent School District achieved Recognized ratings, with all campuses awarded Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency Wednesday.
That achievement ranks Mabank school district in the state’s top 20 percent.
“Our students deserve the credit for their strong performance on TAKS. Our teachers and principals are to be commended for their dedication to a seamless curriculum and masterful delivery,” superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall said.
TEA assigns ratings based on the percentage of students achieving minimum standards on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests.
Academically Acceptable means 60 percent of the students met standards in reading/ELA, writing and social studies. In math, 40 percent achieved standard – in science, 35 percent, or have met required improvements.
Schools that are assigned Recognized ratings means 70 percent of its students met standards.
Exemplary status is reached when 90 percent of the student body meets standards for each subject.
Mabank ISD’s Lakeview Elementary and Southside Elementary missed the Exemplary rating by a mere 4 percentage points in math at Southside and in one subgroup in reading at Lakeview.
Fifth graders at MISD aced the science TAKS, with 90 percent of the students passing it – 34 percent of those were commended for their performance.
Mabank’s consistant rating on all campuses demonstrates a shared vision and consistent program, Marshall said.
“MISD also acknowledges the role parents and other caregivers play in this process. As the bar has risen for academic excellence, they have supported us every step of the way as they share the same mindset that effort – not results – determine success,” he added.
Among the state’s 1,704 high schools, 131 earned the Recognized rating.
In Kaufman County, there are only two high schools with this rating – Mabank and Crandall.
In Henderson County, LaPoynor is the only Recognized high school. Two school districts earned Recognized status. They were LaPoynor and Murchison, which has a K-8 school.
Athens ISD and Eustace ISD both were rated Academically Acceptable, as well as their high schools.
South Athens Elementary (second-third grade campus) and Bel Air (kindergarten and first grade) were paired for Examplary ratings.
Van Zandt County had three Recognized school districts – Canton, Martins Mill and Fruitvale.
Statewide, only 18.1 percent of all school districts were Recognized, with only 1.8 percent hitting Exemplary.

No local gas pumps shorting fuel customers
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The Texas Agriculture Department identified more than 100 gas pumps that are shortchanging drivers on its website this week.
Happily, none of them are in Henderson, Kaufman or Van Zandt counties.
The list reflects violations recorded between May 31 and July 29.
The list does not identify stations dispensing more gas than is measured.
Inspectors found 74 pumps were shorting customers more than six tablespoons per five gallons, the highest inaccuracy tolerance allowed by the department.
Another 31 pumps were shorting 12 tablespoons per five gallons, subject to a $100 fine for the first offense.
[12 tablespoons equals ¾ cup, or six fluid ounces. There are 128 ounces in a gallon, and 640 ounces in five gallons.]
Gas stations found in violation a second time are fined $200.
The greater the shortages, the greater the fines – $150 for 18 tablespoons first offense, and $300 for a repeated offense.
Gas station owners may be fined as much as $500 for excesses and repeat offenses.
The fines increased this past Memorial Day, the first increase since 1996.
Those tagged in excess by one of the state’s 72 weights and measures inspectors are placed “out of order” until the pump is recalibrated, reinspected and penalties paid.
More than 68,500 pumps are inspected throughout the state annually.
Texas has 275,000 fuel pumps at 14,000 gas stations. Law requires pumps be inspected once every four years, but the department must respond to consumer complaints within 10 days.
Currently, the compliance rate is running at 92 percent, according to a department spokesman.

Two dead in wreck on Lake Palestine bridge
Monitor Staff Reports
CHANDLER–Two people were pronounced dead and another three were hospitalized following a three-vehicle wreck Tuesday near Chandler.
First Responders were called to the 11:30 a.m. accident in the middle of a bridge spanning Lake Palestine on Farm-to-Market 315, about two miles south of Chandler.
A garbage truck traveling northbound on FM 315 shifted into the southbound lane and collided with a Dodge Caravan, Texas State Trooper Brent Davis told a Tyler Morning Telegraph reporter.
The garbage truck then flipped on its side and was struck by a Buick passenger vehicle.
The garbage truck driver, Buick driver and a minivan passenger were taken to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.
Gloria Melton, 56, the minivan driver, and one of her passengers, Albert Thorn, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators believe a tire blowout caused the garbage truck to swerve into oncoming traffic.
Two others, Chandler resident Mary Thorn and Flint resident Kreg Vaughn, were listed in fair condition at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler with injuries to the head and leg.
A third Chandler resident, Billy Wayne Duke, was treated and released.
The scene wasn’t cleared until 3 p.m., which closed the bridge between Sportsman’s Road and FM 3079.

Woman escapes plunge into lake
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–A Kaufman woman survived a frightening plunge into Cedar Creek Lake early Thursday with minor injuries.
About 7:30 a.m., Cassandra Wetzel, 39, was eastbound on U.S. Highway 175 in her pickup when she struck the right-hand guardrail of a bridge over a lake inlet, smashing the “Cedar Creek Reservoir” sign, and vaulted into the lake, winding up cab-deep in water.
“She said she reached over to grab her cell phone,” Mabank Police Chief Alex Smith said. “The air bag deployed and hit her.”
A man driving westbound witnessed the truck flying through the air into the lake, and stopped to help, Smith said.
“He saw her trying to crawl out through the window, and swam out to help her back to shore,” Smith said.
Wetzel was already standing on the lake bank when First Responders reached the scene, located just west of Mabank.
She was transported to the East Texas Medical Center emergency room in Gun Barrel City, where she was treated for minor injuries and released, Smith reported.
A Mabank city backhoe was brought to the scene to help pull the pickup out of the water.

Monitor Photo/David Cason
A Kaufman woman’s truck rests cab-deep in a Cedar Creek Lake inlet early Thursday after the woman hit a U.S. Highway 175 bridge guardrail and plunged over. The woman escaped with minor injuries.