Prosperity Bank gets
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Over the weekend, it was announced that Houston-based
Franklin Bank was closed by order of the Texas Department of Savings and
There are four bank branches in the Cedar Creek Lake area and seven
But they didn’t actually shut the doors on business days, as one
television station erroneously reported.
Monday morning, customers were greeted in local branches by familiar
faces, free coffee and donuts, and a promise from staff members that
“it’s business as usual.”
That promise was echoed by Dan Rollins, president and chief operating
officer of Prosperity Bancshares, Inc.
A letter to newly acquired Prosperity customers also echoed the
“We are committed to providing our new customers the same quality
service we provide to our existing customers,” Rollins said.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named receiver and
entered into an agreement with Prosperity Bank of El Campo.
Prosperity Bank assumed all of Franklin’s deposits, including those that
exceeded the insurance limit, Rollins explained.
Friday, an FDIC press release confirmed the transaction.
Monday, all 46 offices of Franklin Bank reopened as branches of
Prosperity Bank with normal hours, including Saturday.
Prosperity Bank assumed the total assets of $5.1 billion and total
deposits of $3.7 billion, for a premium of 1.7 percent.
In addition to Franklin Bank’s deposits, Prosperity Bank will purchase
$850 million of its assets.
The FDIC plans to retain the remaining assets for later disposition,
according to an FDIC statement.
Customers who have questions about the transaction can call the FDIC at
toll free (800) 591-2845 or visit the FDIC web site at http://wwwfdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/franklinbank.html.
The cost of the transaction will run between $1.4 billion and $1.6
billion, the FDIC stated, calling the transaction the least costly
Franklin Bank is the first Texas Bank to fail since 2002, when the Bank
of Sierra Blanca failed.
Franklin Bank becomes the 19th bank in the nation to fail this year.
Twenty years ago, the founder of Franklin Bank, Lewis Ranieri, was known
as the inventor of mortgage-backed securities, according to an
Associated Press report.
However, even his own system was not enough to save his company from
becoming entangled in the home-loan fiasco that led to the bank’s
Last spring, the company’s audit committee discovered weaknesses in
accounting, disclosure and other issues relating to residential real
estate loans, which invariably contributed to the company’s downfall,
according to AP.
In a public relations letter to bank customers, Prosperity Bank
describes itself as a “safe and sound, Texas-based, independent
It further states that with the addition of the Franklin Bank locations,
Prosperity Bank now has more than 170 banking centers across the state
and has approximately $10.5 billion in assets.
The transaction moves Prosperity Bank up to the second largest
independent bank in Texas, as measured by its $7.3 billion in deposits,
the letter said.
“Prosperity Bank is pleased it is able to work with the FDIC and offer
all of Franklin Bank’s deposit customers a new community banking home
without the loss of any of their deposits,” David Zalman, chairman and
chief executive officer of Prosperity Bancshares said.
“It is our goal for customers to be able to go about business as usual,
accessing their money, using ATMs, Debit Cards, Internet Banking, and
other services. We welcome Franklin Bank’s customers to Prosperity
Bank,” Zalman said.
Redefining ‘making the
School superintendents sound off on TAKS
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Among the changes to the state’s education policy
lawmakers are due to consider when the legislative session resumes in
January is how much weight TAKS scores should have on students advancing
to the next grade level.
Currently, third, fifth and eighth-grade students must pass state
achievement tests to advance, but a policy change being eyed would allow
school districts to set their own criteria for promotion.
Passage of the TAKS test in order to graduate high school remains in
place until 2011-12, when a new program launches with the freshman
class, requiring them to pass end-of-course exams in order to earn a
diploma. The current TAKS requirements would still be in place for
Local school superintendents are split on the issue, with most tending
to see the change as either beneficial or not making much difference in
how their districts operate.
“Any move that increases local control is always good,” Mabank ISD
superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall said. “The state sets the bar. But
we always find a way to do better than that,” he added.
Dr. John Spies, Malakoff ISD superintendent tends to agree.
“There are already loop holes in the system in that regard. We handle
the issue on an individual basis. If we feel a student’s lack of
progress is due to a maturation problem, we might retain the child.
“However, whether a student having scholastic difficulty is retained or
promoted, a remediation plan is formed to address the areas of
“I feel that has been an important factor in our improving test scores,”
Spies told The Monitor.
“We focus on the child and for every problem a plan is drawn up meant to
address the deficiencies, regardless of grade, gender, or sub-grouping,”
“Our goal is to give them the tools they need to fulfill whatever dreams
they may have.”
Eustace ISD superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe is all for improving the
accountability system, but has mixed feelings about the proposed
“If it was just one test, that would be one thing, but students are
given three separate chances to pass the test,” he said. “In the younger
grades, the teachers are so good about giving kids the remediation they
need that seldom do students not pass it by the third try.”
Kemp ISD director of instruction and assessment agrees with Marshall
about the benefits of increasing local control, but feels Kemp would
have to look very closely and possibly continue following the current
“We feel the SSI (Student Success Initiative) is a good incentive for
students to take the test seriously,” Dr. Debra Airheart told The
“We want to make sure all our kids are taken care of,” Kemp schools
superintendent Dr. Peter Running said. “When those issues arise, we feel
– at the local leve –l we know what’s best for the child.”
Policy makers are also reviewing its system for grading schools as well
The TAKS system was implemented in 1994. The proposed updates are meant
to consider the state’s strengthened curriculum and increased federal
attention, as well as parents and educators’ criticism of the
Another change being considered is the standardization of grade point
averages and the weight given to different course offerings ranging from
pre-advance placement courses to remediation classes, the arts and
humanities, and sports participation.
Since Texas universities have to accept the top 10 percent of any
graduating class, this becomes an issue and it also plays into who
qualifies for class valedictorian.
“We should be careful about how we as a society rate the importance of
one subject over another,” Spies said.
Smalley gets life in prison
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–A jury found Edward Ray Smalley, 57, guilty Friday for the murder
of Athens resident Tony Moore and sentenced him to life in prison with
The sentence was the strongest punishment the jury could award after its
25-minute deliberation in Judge Dan Moore’s (no relation to murder
victim) 173rd District Court. The sentence included an order to pay a
Smalley informed the judge he intends to appeal the court’s decision.
Tony Moore was found lying face down in the entry of his house on Sept.
3, 2007. An interrogation video showed Smalley saying Moore had begun
the altercation by hitting Smalley over the head with a flashlight, and
then tried kissing and groping him.
A medical examiner testified that Moore had been strangled to death and
then dragged into his house to rot.
Defense attorney John Scott and Jeff Haas reminded the jury that Smalley
was a U.S. Marine for more than 18 years and recommended leniency.
Assistant District Attorney Barry Spencer told the jury that Smalley’s
military service was commendable, but was no excuse for the crimes he