Sunday, August 26, 2007






  Landers resigns post
ECC water district down to four directors
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Ken Landers, who was elected in May, 2006, tendered his resignation as a director of East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District Wednesday.
Landers said it was brought to his attention that since he moved from the district and rented his local residence, he was possibly in violation of the district’s bylaws if he continued to serve.
“After reviewing the bylaws, I have determined it might be an issue,” he said.
Landers’ resignation went into effect immediately following the meeting.
Before holding the meeting, directors observed a moment of silence in memory of director Jack Stegal, who died Aug. 13.
Directors discussed the fact they are now down to four board members.
The board must fill two seats.
The board is requesting that anyone interested in filling either position to pick up a form at the office before Friday, Sept. 14.
Stegall’s term would have been up in May, 2008, while Landers’ term expires in May, 2010.
In other business, directors:
• agreed to provide in writing the requirements for wiring options and grinder pump repairs for a customer on Forest Lane Dr.
• agreed to split the cost of relocating a grinder pump for 121 Lee Way at a cost of $250 each for the district and the owner.
• agreed to insure restoration of sewer service to 136 Marina Dr. following the severance of the line by the developer, who will be billed for repairs.
• heard the engineer’s report as presented by Chris Weeks of Velvin & Weeks.
The report is forthcoming from East Texas Testing Lab on the South Wastewater Treatment Plant, he said.
Applications and reports have been submitted and approval is pending on several projects.
Inspection is complete on the Brookshires Water Treatment Plant and everything is working fine, Weeks said.
New sewer connections for Cedar Branch Park and Southwood Shores continue.
• heard reports from general manager Bill Goheen.
He reported Lift Station 12 had very bad soil conditions and needed heavy shoring for safety’s sake.
The line-moving project at U.S. Highway 175 and State Highway 334 is going to exceed the $15,000 estimated.
He said the Texas Department of Transportation changed its plans and wants the lines moved to a new distance from the highway “yesterday.”
TxDOT plans on awarding the bid for the highway widening project in September.
• approved the ongoing expenditure of $89,328.85 for the Brookshires Clarifier project.
• named Goheen to serve on the committee for the North Central Texas Water Quality Project.
• tabled action to approve the easement agreement between the district and Ron Bozeman for an easement trade.
• tabled action on a public relations handbook written by Goheen.

Escaped prisoner caught
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Authorities recovered an escaped prisoner Tuesday morning.
Joseph Shane Hughes, 18, a jail trustee held pending trial for theft, gave authorities the slip while part of a work detail at the Criminal Justice Center around 11:30 a.m. Monday.
A search for Hughes in the north Athens area was called to a halt at 3:30 p.m. without success. An area a mile wide in some very rough territory was covered by tracking dogs and even from horseback, Henderson County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Pat McWilliams said.
From the jail, the search covered up to Faulk Street, North Palestine, east to Cream Level Road and north to Edmondson Avenue.
Hughes was later seen walking along U.S. 175 west of Eustace early Tuesday, and he was taken into custody at 4:15 a.m.
“We’re relieved that he’s back in custody,” McWilliams said.
No other trustee escaped.
Hughes’ bond was reset at $25,000, though he is charged with theft of property valued between $1,000 and $20,000, a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Now a third degree felony escape charge has been added.

Walls inspires student athletes to be the gift
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Any loving act should be unconditional.
“If you do something for somebody, don’t expect anything in return, because you’ll be disappointed,” former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro cornerback Everson Walls told Mabank High School athletes Tuesday night.
In December, 2006, Walls donated a kidney to his long-time friend and former teammate, Ron Springs, who was suffering from Type II diabetes.
“I didn’t do what I did for Ron – I did it for his wife, I did it for his daughter, who is friends with my daughter,” Walls said.
Walls started out by applauding the MHS students “for what you have done for this community” through Spirit Week fund-raising efforts each of the past four years.
A Dallas native, Walls (nicknamed “Cubby” by his mother) grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys, but didn’t play football until his senior year in high school.
While he turned out to be a natural at defensive back, he wasn’t recruited by any college.
“I had no clue where I was going to college,” Walls told a standing-room-only crowd jammed into the new MHS auditorium.
“The big reason I went to Grambling was to follow my girlfriend,” he said.
At Grambling State University, Walls met legendary coach Eddie Robinson, and admitted he was afraid he wouldn’t live up to Robinson’s expectations.
“I was so fortunate to met somebody like that,” he said. “Eddie Robinson was a man who challenged you every day.
“(Robinson) wanted to make us better. Not just better football players – better students and better people,” Walls said.
Walls recalled the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child,” and said that is literally true, because it’s the support outside the family that helps train a child to become a responsible adult.
“We (as young people) always want to push the envelope, and see what we can get away with,” Walls said. “That’s where the village comes in.”
Walls cautioned students not to underestimate their parents.
“Anything you want to try to do, they’ve already done it,” he warned. “Don’t let them down.”
While at Grambling, Walls led the nation in interceptions, but was not drafted by any NFL team.
He tried out with the Cowboys as a walk-on, and wound up leading the NFL with 13 interceptions his rookie year.
Walls had nine interceptions his second year, becoming the first defensive player to lead the league in interceptions twice (later he became the only player to lead the league in interceptions three times).
“My signing bonus was a big, whopping $1,500,” he said. “My salary (as a rookie) was $32,000, and I was the best defensive back in college.
“I used that anger (at not having respect), and I used that determination to make myself better,” he added.
“I give credit to the people who raised me,” Walls said. “When you have that support around you, unless you’re a damn fool, to let those people who support you down would be a big mistake.”
Walls played under Robinson, legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, and New York Giants coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
“If I didn’t learn from them, I’d be the biggest fool in the country,” Walls said.
“Life is tough,” he added, “You’ve got people in this room and outside this room who will make an impact on you – but you’ve got to listen.”
When Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys and brought in new coach Jimmy Johnson, “I didn’t fit into their plans,” Walls said.
He called Parcells on a pay telephone at the Dallas YMCA, and Parcells agreed to give him a shot at making the New York Giants team.
“And all of the sudden, I’m in the Super Bowl,” he said.
The Giants won the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion, and Walls recalled a reporter asking him how he felt.
“I just busted out crying, I was so overwhelmed,” he said. “I realized I had done something with the help of all the people I’ve met.”
Walls said he met Springs while they were teammates on the Cowboys.
“He was always the clown – funny, funny, funny,” Walls said. “We became close friends, and our wives became close friends.”
Years later, Springs developed Type II diabetes.
“All of the sudden, Ron’s going to lose his toe,” Walls said. “Diabetes doesn’t quit. Now, he’s going to lose his foot, and have to wear a prosthesis.”
Walls said diabetes did not run in his family, but he became familiar with the disease ravaging Springs’ once-powerful body.
Kidney failure from diabetes forced Springs to undergo dialysis, spending three days a week, four hours at a time, having his blood pumped from his body through a machine to clean it, Walls said.
Most kidney transplants involve members of a single family – a brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son.
“Ron is really part of my family,” Walls said. “I’ve known him for more than 20 years; he’s godfather to my children, and I’m godfather to his children.”
After two failed transplant opportunities, Wells saw what diabetes was doing to Springs and his wife, and stepped forward to offer himself as a transplant candidate.
What followed were lengthy questionnaires, tests, tests and more tests, he recalled.
“They shoot you up with stuff so you light up inside,” Walls said.
As he continued through the process, Walls said he realized transplants are literally the gift of life, and formed a foundation to help put transplant donors and recipients together.
“When I decided to do this, it was going to be a secret. Nobody was going to know,” Walls said. “His son opened his big mouth, and now it’s all over the country. Now everybody knows.”
Walls said he wanted people to know that donating a kidney is something that anyone can do.
“Being a living organ donor is the best thing you can do,” Walls told the students. “I didn’t want praise. It was great – but we’re all great.”
Springs doesn’t owe him, Walls added.
Robinson, Landry, Parcells – “Ron owes them, because they are the ones who made me,” he said.

‘Old Rock’ building gets 30-day reprieve
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFFThe Old Rock Building keeps hanging on.
Monday night, the Malakoff ISD School Board met with activists bent on saving the old elementary school – commonly known as the Old Rock Building – once again. This time the topic was time.
“We aren’t asking this school district to go into debt,” Malakoff ISD alum and supporter Ken Andrews said. “I am asking this school board for some time.”
Andrews, who was one of three building supporters to speak to the board, asked trustees to give the Malakoff Historical Commission six months to find the money needed to turn the building into a museum and a new home for the Malakoff Red Waller Community Library.
Because of the way the item was listed on the agenda, the board could not take action during its meeting Monday. However, trustees directed Superintendent Dr. John Spies to place the item on the agenda for September’s meeting – effectively giving the Malakoff Historical Commission another 30 days at the very least.
The Old Rock Building has been at the center of controversy since the school board voted to demolish it in February because of the estimated cost of renovation.
The building was scheduled for demolition at the end of the last school year, but a state law commonly known as the Texas Antiquities Code caused those plans to be put on hold.
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) became involved, and a THC project reviewer wrote that the building is “eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places” and “strongly encourage(d) the preservation of this important building.”
The Malakoff Historical Society also became involved and asked school board members to consider turning the building into a museum, with space to house the Malakoff Red Waller Community Library.
Last month, trustees in near unison said even if the district turned the building over to the Malakoff Historical Commission, it couldn’t stay on school property. At that time, trustees gave the commission 30 days to come up with the money to move the building.
Monday night, Pat Isaacson, representing the Malakoff Historical Society, told trustees moving the building wasn’t really an option. While moving the building would add cost to the project, it would also eliminate sources of funds for restoration, she said.
“We can’t get grants if it is moved,” she said. “It loses its historic importance.”
Isaacson did have something new to add to the discussion, however: a competing architect’s report saying the building is in “very good condition.”
Ever since school board members began deliberating about the Old Rock Building, the cost for renovating it for students has been pegged at about $2.5 million.
That figure was presented to the board by former Superintendent Larry Hulsey, who told trustees that turning the building into an administration building – an idea favored by some board members – would not be as expensive, but would still be cost-prohibitive.
Documents obtained by The Monitor showed an evaluation of the Old Rock Building was part of a wide-reaching facility study conducted for the district in 2003. The evaluation, completed by the architectural firm Rabe and Partners, estimated it would cost about $2.05 million to put the building in shape to provide the district with 12 classrooms.
Monday night, Isaacson presented the board with a report by architect Marcel Quimby of Marcel Quimby Architecture And Preservation of Dallas. Quimby personally examined the Old Rock Building Aug. 11 for the National Trust of Historic Preservation at the request of the Malakoff Historical Society.
She found the building to be in very good condition, noting it “retains almost all of its historic integrity – a real ‘treasure’ for the community.”
“The crawl space was dry and no evidence of mold was observed or detected by smell; no termites, habitation by any other animals or insects were observed,” Quimby wrote.
“I have reviewed numerous other historic schools and commercial buildings of this era, and this is one of the most substantial foundations I have encountered,” she added.
“The loss of this building would be a huge loss to Malakoff’s history as well as the loss of a substantial, intact building that has many more decades of useful life that could be utilized by the school district or the community,” she wrote.
The new architect’s report had an impact on at least some of the board members, with trustees Homer Ray Trimble and Rick Vieregge again raising the idea of putting the district’s administration offices in the building – if the building is in as good a shape as Quimby believes.
Supporters who want to save the building said they would be happy to see it turned into administrative offices for the district.
One immediate problem both sides agreed on, however, is addressing the fire hazard currently posed by the building. It has been emptied and had the power disconnected in preparation for demolition.
Spies asked for and received permission from the school board to erect a cinder block wall in the hallway between the Old Rock Building and the new elementary school cafeteria to act as a firewall for now.