Sunday, November 11, 2007






  Decker retires from Tool PD
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–Assistant Police Chief Martha Decker, following 15 years of dedicated service with the Tool Police Department, has announced her retirement.
Her final day on the job was Friday, she said.
Decker said she is going to miss working with her fellow officers, the city staff and the community.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Tool Police Chief Warren Loscuito (left) says farewell to Assistant Police Chief Martha Decker, who leaves the city to work as an investigator for Child Protective Services in Dallas.

“Being here as long as I have, I’ve watched the community grow. I have a lot of years invested in the area,” she said.
She’s seen Tool go from a retirement community to a family-based city.
“In 1993 (when she started) there were very few children in the area. Now there are children on almost every street,” she said. “There has really been a change in the population make-up.”
The busy police department has also undergone changes.
“We have gone from a police department with patrol cars that had the bare minimum to well-equipped patrol cars,” she said.
In addition to the standard police equipment, she said they now have thermal energy equipment for night use.
“It’s a hand-held machine that can track someone in the dark, even if they run into the woods,” she explained.
Decker has worked on quite a few high-profile cases, including the scammers at the Bingo Hall.
“I spent six months working on the Maria Elena Garza fraud case,” she said.
Garza, her son and sister all went to prison for their convictions in conspiracy, mail fraud and impersonating a federal official.
The family took money from immigrants under false pretenses, Decker said.
She also worked on several very serious child abuse cases and in crimes against children.
“One shaken baby case resulted in the father and step-mother being convicted on felony counts,” she recalled.
“And there were several suicide attempts that were unsuccessful, due to department intervention,” she added.
Another interesting case occurred when the department was looking for an individual for one set of problems and the case escalated into the discovery of eight burglaries, before they were reported by the owners of the missing property.
Decker said she has especially enjoyed working with Police Chief Warren Loscuito.
“I really appreciate all the time Warren has worked with me – especially all the training and encouragement I have received from him throughout the years,” she said.
It’s expected that sometimes being a police officer gets dangerous.
One time, she helped wrestle a violent prisoner down and received a broken wrist and other injuries for her trouble.
Then there was a bad wreck in which she received serious injuries.
“It was in 1999. I was in my patrol car when a drunk in a car ahead of me. He suddenly made a U-turn and hit me head-on,” Decker said.
“I was off work for nine months. My leg was broken in seven places, two of the breaks were compound,” she added.
Decker underwent a lot of pain and three surgeries correcting her injuries.
The Department of Public Safety worked the accident and the driver faced several charges.
“He pled guilty and received 10 years probation and served 30 days in jail,” she recalled.
Decker will not be sitting at home when she retires. Instead, staring Monday, Nov. 19, she will be working for Child Protective Service in Dallas as a senior investigator.
“I hope someday to work closer to home,” she said.
Decker is a very active person. Her hobbies include writing and she has an e-Bay store.
Her interest in local history has earned her a seat on the board of directors for the Kaufman County Historical Society.
She likes to travel and to hike and has a vivid interest in photography. She has served as a hostage negotiator and was on the Gun Barrel City Fire Department’s dive team.
Decker believes in training and keeping up with new technology.
Her training initially began with the Reserve Academy for the Palestine Police Department, then finished with the Police Academy at Cedar Valley College. She had continuing training at A&M, The Blackwood Institute, Navarro Police Academy, Collin County in McKinney and numerous other training advantages.
Decker, her husband Ken and children live in Kaufman County.
Ken is a member of the last all-male graduating class of the West Point Military Academy.

Dr. Wallis goes to Washington
Honored at national Principal of the Year awards
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–It was just a little over a year ago that Mabank High School Principal Dr. Tommy Wallis learned he was Texas’ Principal of the Year.
Before that, he was named Region 10 Principal of the Year.
It was the state honor that entitled him and his wife, Nicole, to attend the National Principal of the Year awards banquet in Washington D. C.

Courtesy Photo
Mabank High School Principal Dr. Tommy Wallis and wife Nicole recently attended the National Principal of the Year Awards banquet in Washington D.C. Wallis is the Texas state Principal of the Year.

The banquet was held Oct. 22, and the event is sponsored by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Wallis said.
The couple stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel along with the state principals of the Year from other states.
“We were treated like royalty,” he said.
“I am proud of the students at Mabank High School,” he said. Mabank High School is among the top 75 Texas high schools, Wallis noted.
“Mabank High School (students and staff) works as hard or harder an any high school in the state,” he said.
“People should be proud to have their students attend here,” he added.
It was also at that time the top principal in the nation was named, a lady from Alabama.

Jack Schell inducted into Texas Radio Hall of Fame
Narrates Dallas Veteran’s Day parade
Special to The Monitor
DALLAS–Gun Barrel City resident Jack Schell was one of 12 Texas broadcast veterans inducted in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in Dallas recently.
Schell’s successful and influential radio career began in Waco in the early 60s.
He got a break in Dallas radio after a year in Waco, working most of his radio and television career in Dallas.
In 2006, he became semi-retired. He still heads into Dallas for fill-in on-air work for vacationing regulars.
Other lake area residents, former Dallas mayor, Wes Wise (2005) and talk show host Ed Bush (2002) have also been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
The list of honorees over the years includes many other familiar names (among others) from Texas radio, including, Ron Chapman, Eddie Barker, Walter Cronkite, Bill Mercer, Jim Lowe, Neil Sperry, Verne Lundquist, Norm Hitzges, Suzie Humphreys, Hugh Lampman and Troy Dungan.
Some of these are most recognized for their television career, but were also involved in radio during their Texas careers.
Schell is still active in the media by producing audio and video from his Cedar Creek Lake studios.
His voice is presently on radio and TV ads running in the metroplex.
He narrated the 154 unit Veteran’s Day Parade as it passes in front of Dallas City Hall next Saturday, Nov. 10.
His big-screen video productions have won national awards, with local work appearing on the stage/screen for the Greater Cedar Creek Area Chamber of Commerce’s Spring “Taste Of Cedar Creek Lake”
According to Schell, probably the best entrance-point to his wide range of pursuits is online at
From there links take you to his video work for the Sunset High School 50th reunion, the KVIL Radio 40th reunion parties for next year and the award-winning documentary for the Red Cross Donut Dollies.
Schell says of his “retirement” to the lake: “I can’t seem to stay up late enough – get up early enough to get to everything.”
He agrees with so many retirees, who wonder how they ever had time for a fulltime job.