People, Places & Events



  Becker Festival to include chili cook-off
Special to The Monitor
BECKER–It’s fall festival time again in Becker and this time folks are in for a real treat.
There’s a chili cook-off planned and local chefs are preparing to make their best entries for your culinary enjoyment.
The fun begins 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Becker Community Center, corner of Farm-to-Market roads 2860 and 1895.
The cost for dinner is $6 for adults and $3 for children.
You also won’t want to miss out on the entertaining musical fare as a local band will be on hand to play for your dinnertime enjoyment
Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without the annual quilt showcase, auction and cake walk. There’s something for everyone!
Chili judging begins at 5:30 p.m. with the winner being announced at 6 p.m.
For more information or to register an entry, contact Gay Becker at (903) 498-5623. All proceeds benefit the Becker Community Center.

Health insurance coverage restored in Van Zandt County
By Randal Brewer
Monitor Staff Writer

CANTON–The Van Zandt County Commissioners re-awarded the county’s health insurance coverage to Nippon, the carrier who served the county last year, after a tense week in which it learned the county was without health insurance for its 225 employees.
A final decision on that matter came Friday after the former awardee, Unicare, failed to provide the county with proof on insurance for the month of October, the first month of its new contract.
Nippon, represented by Larry Hopkins of Hibbs/Hallmark. Nippon offered to extend the county’s coverage through the month of October.
Unicare’s representative, John Gentry Insurance Agency of Tyler explained that the August bid was based on one-half of the applications that had been provided during May and June.
Though awarded in August, the underwriting wasn’t completed until mid-October, Gentry said. “Until they finish underwriting, all numbers are preliminary,” he told commissioners during an emergency meeting called Oct. 4.
In addition, an unexpected $10,000 bill for health insurance was presented to the court for October health expenses.
“Initially there was some confusion over the effective date,” County Judge Rhita Koches said. “Then, October 1 came around, and not only did we not have cards, they wouldn’t issue a letter stating that we were insured. That is when we really realized we had a problem and called the emergency meeting.”
Koches called Nippon which offered to extend its coverage through October for $85,000.
“I think we need to stay with the existing company to ensure we have coverage,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Virgil Melton said.
“I want to know if we have legal recourse to force Unicare to honor the bid,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Carroll added.
“I don’t see anything that says ‘preliminary’, or ‘proposal’, on this quote,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Ricky LaPrade said. “We based our budget on the price we were quoted. If we take a vote to spend an additional $10,000 for the month of October, I think Unicare should be obligated to reimburse that expense.”
The court then voted unanimously to issue a check for $85,000 to Nippon for health coverage for the month of October, and also voted unanimously to seek legal counsel and to seek reimbursement for any additional costs.
Unicare is also expected to return the $75,000 check issued by the county for health insurance for October.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved $79,100 as the final closing costs on the purchase of land (Block 7, Lots 1-6, Original Town of Wills Point) as a site for Precinct 3 offices, including a Justice of the Peace court, and a vehicle registration office with a 4-1 vote. LaPrade opposed.
• heard a grants presentation from Cheryl Vaughn for the preservation or restoration of the courthouse.
• designated Oct. 7-12 as 4-H week in Van Zandt County.
• designated the month of October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in Van Zandt County.
• approved an official bond for Fire Marshal Charles Allen, as well as approved the minimum requirements and job descriptions for the position. The court also approved a fee schedule for fire inspections.
• approved the county clerk’s annual written plan for funding the preservation and restoration of the county clerk’s record archive.
• appointed election judges for 2007-2008.
• approved the 2007-2008 interlocal agreement with Andrews Center.
• began the bid process for the purchase of a dump truck for Precinct 2.

Scarecrows and Black-Eyed Peas
Many enjoy East Texas Arboretum’s Fall Festival
By Linda K. Holt
Monitor Staff

Athens –The East Texas Arboretum hosted a Fall Festival on October 13th featuring a Black-Eyed Pea Fest and competition.

Monitor Photo/Linda K. Holt
Arrrr you ready for Halloween? East Texas Arboretum’s Fall Festival features a Scarecrow Trail with a variety of colorful scarecrows for all to enjoy.

A large crowd enjoyed a variety of events including a fine art & photography show, dog costume contest, a mule-drawn wagon ride and live music.
Games and activities for children were centered around new buildings of a little red school house, complete with bell, and a storybook playhouse.
Antique cars, area vendor booths, special presentations and lots of food rounded out the day.

Monitor Photo/Linda K. Holt
A large crowd gathered to watch the participants of the dog costume contest at the East Texas Arboretum’s Fall Festival Saturday.

The Scarecrow Trail showcased the imaginative creations of various persons and organizations in the Athens area.
Winners of the Pea Fest were Wilma Shelton, first place appetizers; Rita Clark, second place appetizers; Kim Jennell, first place salad; Catherine Jennell, second place salad; Charlotte Owen, first place main dish; Beverly Taylor, second place main dish; Diane Allen, first place pea-nique; Wilma Shelton, second place pea-nique; 2 Sisters Tea Room, first place professional; and Grand Champion Wilma Shelton.

Monitor Photo/Linda K. Holt
The Scarecrow Trail first place winner “Mr. & Mrs. Crow” was created by Rachel & Tina Johnston.



Pet vaccination, microchip clinic set
Special to The Monitor
GUN BAREL CITY–This Saturday, Oct. 20, from 2-4 p.m., Friends of the Animals will hold a low-cost vaccination clinic for all area residents.
It will be held at the Friends’ clinic in the southeast corner of State Highways 198 and 334 in Gun Barrel City in the red brick office strip behind the Chevron station.
No appointment is necessary.
Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in carriers.
A rabies shot will cost $10, the annual vaccination for dogs or cats to protect from five different diseases will cost $15. The feline leukemia vaccination will be available as well at a cost of $10.
There is a rabies epidemic in Texas – and anyone who has had a dog with parvo or distemper knows the suffering that animal goes through – and that it is very contagious to other dogs.
This vaccination clinic will be open to everyone, anywhere.
This clinic will also offer microchipping for cats or dogs. A tiny chip is inserted into the scruff of the pet, which can be read by a scanner available at shelters everywhere.
Your lost pet comes home! Cost for this is $20, which includes the permanent national registration.
Also available for sale at any time is Frontline Plus, the monthly flea and tick prevention.
Frontline Plus costs $26 for a three-month supply for a cat and ranges from $28 to $31 for a three-month supply for dogs.
Flea season is still here! Don’t be fooled by products that are cheap – the reason they are cheap is that they do not work! Don’t throw away your hard-earned money on products that don’t work!
Friends of the Animals Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic has been open since July 2002 and has neutered more than 12,000 animals in that time, saving and preventing literally millions of little lives. Surgery is done by appointment only.
Surgery prices range from $25 for a male cat to $65 for a giant breed female dog.
If you would like to volunteer at the clinic on Tuesdays or have questions about the vaccination clinic, please call (903) 887-PETS.
Tax-deductible donations for this non-profit charity may be sent to P.O. Box 5455, Gun Barrel City, TX 75147.
Visit the web site:


Come Adopt Us At
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake

My name is Nellie. I am a beautiful female Yellow Lab. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I walk on a leash, get along well with male dogs and I am current on my shots. I am a good girl in need of a wonderful new home.

My name is Mae. I am a beautiful female Yellow Lab around a year old. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control, so I have no history. So far I am very sweet, walk on a leash and am current on my shots. I am a beautiful girl looking for a wonderful home.

My name is Charlie. I am a male Black Lab. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control so I have no history. So far I seem to enjoy people and seem to be good with kids. I am current on my shots. I am a wonderful boy looking for a new home.

My name is Tanner. I am a beautiful male Chocolate Lab. I was brought to the Shelter by animal control so I have no history. I am a beautiful playful boy with a good personality. I am looking for my new forever 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