Sunday, November 8, 2009






Seven Points city judge arrested
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Seven Points Municipal Judge Monica Corker was arrested Thursday morning by Henderson County District Attorney’s office investigators on a felony warrant for Abuse of Official Capacity.
Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt and Deputy Billy Jack Valentine assisted in the arrest, according to a prepared news release issued late Thursday by District Attorney Scott McKee.
The warrant against Corker stemmed from a lengthy investigation by the DA’s office, the FBI and the Texas Rangers, McKee reported.
During the arrest, a search of Corker’s purse by DA Investigator Balde Quintinillia uncovered evidence that led to another felony charge of Fraudulent Use/Possession of Identifying Information against Corker.
Corker was booked into the Henderson County Jail Thursday. Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace Milton Adams set bond at $10,000 on each charge.
Corker remained jailed late Thursday afternoon.
In his prepared statement, McKee declined to comment about any specifics of the case, since it remains under investigation.
He did say he had requested help from the FBI to combat public integrity crimes after taking office in January.
“Citizen confidence in the criminal justice system and our public officials is crucial, and I am very thankful to the FBI for their hard work and expertise,” he said. “These types of crimes are always at the top of my list, and I have enlisted the help of the FBI, Texas Rangers and other agencies to investigate and root out public official corruption wherever it can be found.”

Commissioners grant requests to abandon roadways in Precinct 1
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

ATHENS-Following a public hearing Tuesday, Henderson County Commissioners unanimously agreed to vacate 500 feet of Caddo Cove in Indian Oaks Subdivision in Precinct 1 from Tandum Trail east to the north boundary of lot 39.
The owner of all 19 lots served by that section of roadway requested the closure, with plans to replat into one lot, including 500 feet of Caddo Cove, commissioners heard.
Owner John Eagle said he has owned those lots since 1969, and plans to build a second house on the west lakeside community off Key Ranch Road.
In exchange for the abandonment, he offered enough room on his property to build a turn around for emergency vehicles and other traffic.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Hall agreed to build the turn around and bill the owner for the cost of materials, after scraping the blacktop for reuse on other roads.
“I’m for lessening the number of feet of roadway the precinct has to maintain,” Hall said
Commissioners also set a hearing to abandon a section of County Road 1311 in the Cross Roads area. The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Six years ago, nearly two miles of that Precinct 1 road leading to the Trinity River was maintained and sealed, but abandoned soon afterwards, Hall explained.
A request from Sanctuary Ranch is to be considered on Nov. 24, to abandon another 1.5 miles of the roadway, ending it at Trinity Materials plant, a rock quarry and concrete manufacturer.
Sanctuary Ranch owners requested the closure due to poaching and drug trafficking activities being done along that road, affecting the ranch.
“In the last three weeks, four poachers were reported shooting their cattle,” Hall reported.
In other business, commissioners:
• reviewed the minutes of the most recent IT committee meeting. A recommendation from that committee is expected to be on the Nov. 10 agenda, regarding changing to a different service provider when it comes to filtering e-mails. IT officer Betty Spence said the committee has found a new provider, that will not only do the job more efficiently but will save the county money because it also provides data storage on its host server, lengthening the life of the county’s present server.
The addition of another server was estimated at a cost of $10,000 to $12,000. “By switching providers, we’ll get longer life from the server we already have,” Spence said.
• discussed the need to appoint a member to the Henderson County Appraisal District board. Those interested in being considered should contact their county commissioner or the county judge.
• reappointed Dr. Hurley as the county representative on the Neches & Trinity Valleys Groundwater Conservation District.
• approved budget amendments, which included a $15,000 addition for Indigent Health Care.
County auditor Ann Marie Lee noted that $115,000 has been paid out to Indigent Health Care during 2009.
It was also noted that the county is paying $9,956 for defending Pete Amonda Ayala’s murder trial. It was not a capitol murder trial, so it doesn’t qualify for state reimbursement.
• paid state court costs for the third quarter totaling $182,508.68 and other bills totaling $283,909.19.


Memories still vivid for Navy veteran
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–When one is 90 years old, names sometimes fade, but the forever young faces of friends who fought and sometimes died in far away battles are always there.
Darrell Drennan may be crippled with spinal stenosis and its debilitating effects, but in his own words, “My mind and my heart are as strong as an athlete’s.”
Although bent over in his chair, Drennan recalled a lifetime of memories in a steady voice, insisting the memories be kept in chronological order.
Born in Mabank Nov. 14, 1919, Drennan graduated Mabank High School in 1937.
“That was the last year we (the school district) didn’t have athletics,” he recalled. “There was no gym, no basketball court, just a dirt track.”
One of his fondest memories was when Athens won the national basketball championship two years in a row.
“We had a radio, so we took it outside and set it up on the sidewalk, and everyone came to listen,” Drennan said.
At 19, Drennan joined the Navy in 1938.
“I went to boot camp in San Diego, and then I went to machinists school in Norfolk, Va.,” he said.
After graduating machinists school in April, 1939, he was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania, which just happened to be in New York City at the right time for him to attend the 1939 World’s Fair.
“We returned through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, Calif., the home port for the Pennsylvania,” he said.
“While I was on the Pennsylvania, I was in the boiler division,” Drennan said. “I spent as much time in the fire room as I did in the pump room.”
In June, 1940, Drennan received orders to report to submarine school.
After taking some leave (about 10 days), he reported to the submarine base “sometime around July 3 or 4,” he recalled.
When he completed submarine school, all the machinist mates were sent to diesel school for three or four months, he explained.
Upon graduation, Drennan and a friend that he had gone through boot camp and machinists schools with both were assigned to an S boat (a submarine).
“I was assigned to the recommissioned USS Bass,” he said, a boat he referred to as “a piece of junk.”
“Those boats were built in the 1920s, brought back in 1930s and then recommissioned in September, 1940. The design was bad and the equipment was bad,” Drennan explained.
The sister ships to the Bass (boat No. 2) were the Barracuda (boat No. 1) and the Bonita (boat No. 3).
In November, 1941, the USS Bass was transferred to Panama.
The first day on patrol was a synopsis of what it would be like serving on the outdated submarine.
“When daylight came, it got up over 100 degrees inside, and the humidity was terrible – 33 men passed out from heat exhaustion,” he said.
Then on one of its dives, around noon, the biplane motor caught fire and burned.
“The biplane on a submarine controls the dive and depth,” Drennan explained. “So we had to shift to hand control – a large wheel that took about three turns for each degree on the plane.”
The temperature was still hot and the men were struggling.
“We had to begin relieving the men, crews of six to eight, every 15 minutes. I made it through the day until we were ordered to surface, when I went back to the engine room and began opening the outer valve,” he said.
“It took about 100 turns. About the time I got the valve open, I went to my knees. I couldn’t stand anymore,” Drennan said.
When the Bass finally surfaced, outside air flowed into the engine room, filling it with refreshing cool air.
“We stopped and cooled down,” he said. “That was day number one.”
“The second day, we heard a torpedo pass over the top,” Drennan said.
“As the days went by, more and more machines broke down. Our engine had broken down to just one shaft (the boat had two – one port and one starboard) The third day out, the water pump went out, and as we started home, the clutch (between the engines) went out,” Drennan said. “We came into port on Dec. 4, and the one motor we had left caught fire.
“Later, when the war started, we went to the Navy yard in Panama for some repairs, and then we began to patrol in the Pacific,” Drennan explained.
The USS Bass was based out of Costa Rica, where the Navy had submarine tenders loaded with supplies, so the subs didn’t have to go back and forth through the Panama Canal locks.
“Costa Rica was a banana producing country. The Navy had taken all their cargo ships for supply ships,” he said.
The banana farmers had no way to get their crops to market, so they plowed them under, or the Navy bought them.
“That first night we set out to eat as many bananas as we could. The cooks made pies, cakes, pudding, anything they could think of that was made with bananas,” he said.
The submarines were ordered to patrol as much of the Pacific as possible.
“Our orders were to go out and stay as long as we could, and then to come back and work (making repairs on the boat) until we could go out again,” Drennan explained.
The most tragic event for the Bass was another fire Aug. 17, 1942.
“On our fourth patrol, it came time to do our cleaning on the batteries,” he spoke quietly. “There were two batteries, with 60 cells in each one, about the size of an old-fashioned Coke machine.
“The Bass was at 90 feet. One of the electricians reported a fire in the after battery,” Drennan said. He paused a minute, then continued.
“We surfaced as fast as we could. It seemed like we shot straight up,” he recalled. “We blew out an eyeport (the little window used to see into the battery room) on our way up.”
A line was dropped into the tiller room and two men were saved, he recalled.
“But everybody else was dead – 25 in the after battery room,” he said. “We couldn’t even open the hatch to the room. Every time we did, the fire blazed up again.”
The trip back to their port was a nightmare, Drennan recalled. The 25 bodies were placed in the bunks where the engineers slept. No one had a place to sleep.
“I was in charge of the forward engine room. The two chiefs were killed in the fire, and I sat on the oil cooler for the No. 2 engine for 42 hours,” he recalled.
The standard speed was 360 rpm (revolutions per minute), but they ran 475 rpm in the effort to get the bodies back to base, he added.
“Our cooks were all killed, our supplies gone,” he said. “We got to the tender in Costa Rica and they sent a crew over to stand watch.
“We were taken aboard the tender for six hours’ sleep and to eat a meal,” he added.
When the Army engineers came out and looked into the batteries, they wouldn’t allow the USS Bass to go through the locks at Panama.
“They said there was too much fuel left in the batteries, enough to blow up the locks,” Drennan recalled.
“We went to the Panama Naval yard, changed out the batteries and they sent the Bass in convoy back to the harbor at New York City,” he said.
After a few more adventures, Drennan was sent to engine school at General Motors.
“It was 1,500 horsepower – a beautiful engine that could be easily worked on. God, I thought I was in Heaven,” Drennan exclaimed.
He was assigned to the Besugo SS 321, a more modern sub.
“We had four successful runs,” he said.
“We saw a total of 12 ships. That included two tankers, a supply ship, a German submarine, a destroyer, a 1,200-ton minelayer that had been converted to a gunboat, an escort and two smaller escorts,” he said.
Whenever Drennan had shore duty, he always managed to find a place to bird hunt, his favorite sport.
Drennan retired from the Navy at 38 and returned to Mabank. He went to work for the Texas Employment Commission, retiring from there in 1979.
In 1976, he married Fern Snowden. The couple lived in Seven Points until 2003, when they moved to Mabank. His wife died in 2006.
“I belonged to the American Sportsman’s Club, and continued my bird hunting until I was 80. I just couldn’t walk it any more,” he said.

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