Thursday, October 14, 2010




Walk Like MADD draws 300 participants
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reports

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–The inaugural Walk Like MADD event Saturday attracted about 300 participants and more than $18,000 in donations, making it one of the most successful firsts for East Texas.
Prompted by the love of one mother for her teen son, cut down in a drunk driving accident, the event far exceeded expectations.
“I’ll be happy if we get 100 walkers and raise $5,000,” event coordinator Tammi Branch told The Monitor.
It also touched a cord near to the hearts of many in the lake area affected in one way or another by drunk driving.
Assisting her in organizing the event were the Henderson County Sheriff, district attorney and county attorney.
The organizers were able to attract $9,000 in corporate and private sponsorships for the event, including the largest contributor, the Weinstein Law Center in Athens.
The team of walkers raising the most funds was Honey’s Bunch, raising more than $5,000. The top fund-raiser, Sandy Bunch, raised $700.
Augmenting the walk was a motorcycle run recruiting the Blue Knights bike club and 50 riders.
In April, Branch formed the Family and Friends of Eric Branch, and with 45 of these, raised more than $1,000 for the 5K MADD Walk in Dallas.
That experience wetted her appetite for bringing a similar event to the Cedar Creek Lake area.
“They (MADD volunteers) have supported me and my family with phone calls, books and literature,” Branch said. “ I can’t think of anything better to do than to give them back a little of what they gave to me.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving knows how drunk driving threatens families and communities. Consider these staggering statistics:
• A drunk driving traffic fatality occurs every 30 minutes in the United States.
• Every month, more than 1,000 families have a loved one killed by drunk driving, and even more have someone injured.
• At any given moment, American families share the roads with an estimated 3 million drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving at least three times
• As many as 75 percent of drunk drivers continue to drink and drive, even after their licenses have been revoked.
• A first-time drunk driving offender, on average, has driven drunk 87 times prior to being arrested.
Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality-of-life losses.
MADD wants all adults to drink responsibly. If going out, designate a nondrinker to do the driving or call for a ride.
Don’t let the good times roll over someone and irreversibly cause grief and heartache to countless others.
It’s the right thing to do.

Eustace City Council delays action to focus on homecoming
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Reports

EUSTACE–The Eustace City Council tabled almost everything on their regular meeting’s agenda Oct. 7, so most of the members could get back over to the high school to continue homecoming preparations.
In fact, it took just four minutes for the council to open the meeting, take care of the consent agenda (bills and minutes) and two items of business that couldn’t wait, and set a special meeting for 3 p.m. Tuesday to handle the rest of the agenda. EHSbonfirePrep.jpg (209794 bytes)
The traditional bonfire was scheduled for dusk, and mayor Laura Ward noted she had to get back over to the school to decorate lockers.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Eustace High School students add decorated boards and planks to the traditional bonfire Oct. 7, part of the opening events for the school's annual homecoming celebrations. Eustace City Council members put off most of their scheduled regular meeting so they could participate in the bonfire celebration and make other preparations.

One council member, Lisa Roberts, was already working on the bonfire preparations, and didn’t attend the meeting, and a second member, veteran EHS volleyball coach Chuck Powers, was busy with his day job.
The two items that couldn’t wait both concerned the city’s applications for grant funding, and both had to be in Austin the next day.
One application sought $350,000 through a Community Development Fund Grant for water and sewer system and treatment plant upgrades.
Utilities supervisor Tom Acker had a list of six projects ready for the council’s review (they didn’t bother), totaling roughly $265,000.
The second application sought a Planning and Mapping grant, and authorized Ward to act as the city’s executive officer if the grant was awarded.
Items tabled for Tuesday’s called meeting included:
• rezoning a property from single-family to multi-family residential,
• filing an insurance claim or making payment arrangements with CenturyLink,
• banning the sale of K-2 (a legal herbal blend reportedly being smoked like marijuana) and
• amending the fiscal year 2011 budget (which opened Oct. 1), with a related closed session to discuss performance-based pay increases for city employees.

Convicted rapist sought
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A Corsicana man convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled individual is being sought by the Henderson County District Attorney’s office.
The DA’s office is asking for the public’s help in locating Thomas Hernandez Salasies, 47, of Corsicana.
Salasies was convicted by a Henderson County jury of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Disabled Person Oct. 7 and sentenced to 60 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Salasies was on trial for the 2008 offense in the 173rd Judicial District Court. Testimony in the trial opened Oct. 5.
Salasies, who was free on $50,000 bond, was present during testimony both Tuesday and Wednesday, but failed to show for court Thursday morning.
Judge Dan Moore immediately revoked his bond, and issued a capias warrant for his arrest.
Although Salasies failed to show for the last day of his trial, Texas law allows for the trial to continue if a defendant voluntarily does not show.
The jury took just under 10 minutes to sentence Salasies to 60 years after finding him guilty earlier in the day. First Assistant District Attorney Mark Hall and Assistant DA Nancy Rumar prosecuted the case.
“I am very pleased with the sentence handed down by the jury,” DA Scott McKee said in a prepared statement issued Monday. “However, this case will not be closed until he is found.”
The U.S. Marshal’s office, as well as local and state law enforcement agencies, have launched a manhunt for Salasies.
Anyone with information about Salasies’ whereabouts is encouraged to call their local law enforcement agency or the Henderson County DA’s office at (903) 675-6100.

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