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Current Issue
November 17
, 2011






News in Brief

Thanksgiving deadlines
The Monitor will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holidays, Thursday, Nov. 24. Ad deadlines will change for the following publications:
• Leader – Wednesday, Nov. 23 issue, ad deadlines have passed.
• The Monitor – Thursday, Nov. 24 issue display ad deadline is 4 p.m. Thursday, (today). Classified ad deadline is noon, Monday, Nov. 21.
• The Monitor – Sunday, Nov. 27 issue display ad deadline is 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21. Classified ad deadline is noon, Nov. 22.
• Leader – Wednesday, Nov. 30 issue display ad deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22. Classified ad deadline is noon, Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Teen account set
An account has been opened at First National bank in Kemp for Alyssa Olivarez, 14. She was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma.

Homeschoolers 4-H
The Cedar Creek Homeschoolers 4-H Club leads Henderson County in a “Save Your Change” event to fund Project Linus, an organization that gives blankets to traumatized children. Change can be dropped off at the Ag-Extension office in Athens. The club is also collecting coats for the Family Resource Center. When dropping off coats, please indicate they are for the 4-H coat drive.

Mabank Senior Center
The Senior Center at the Ballpark in Mabank (the old YMCA building) is open 8 a.m. to noon, Monday-Friday. Lunch is served daily at 11:30 a.m. Events include bridge classes by Charles Ford beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday (today). Also a Pickin’ & Grimm Jam session at 7 p.m. For information, call (903) 887-0067.

VFW chili food drive
VFW Post 4376 Ladies Auxiliary is hosting a Chili Night Food Drive, at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at the Post, located in Seven Points. Bring six cans of a meat item, such as tuna, Spam, ham, Vienna sausages, etc. for the Christmas Food Drive, in exchange for a bowl of chili and fixings.

Soup’s on St. Jude
“Soup’s on Us,” at St. Jude Catholic Church from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18. Volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society will serve a free bowl of hot chicken soup in the parish hall to those in need of a hot meal, in the parish hall, along with coffee, tea and desserts. All are welcome. For help or information, call (903) 887-0727. If you leave a message, someone will return your call.

Providence Church
The Providence Baptist Church is hosting a fish fry, including french fries, hush puppies, cole slaw, dessert and drink. at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. Donation requested for the meal will be used to restock the shelves of the Food Bank which helps many needy families in the community. Donations of canned goods and other nonperishable staples are also welcome.

Confederate Rose
The Confederate Rose chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy meets at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, in the home of Johna Lamb. Those interested in family history in relation to UDC are welcome. For information, see chapter website at

Rainbow pancake benefit
The Gun Barrel City Masonic Lodge No. 369 Rainbow Girls are hosting a pancake breakfast fundraiser from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Lodge, 402 Legendary Lane.

Thanksgiving dinner
A Thanksgiving Community dinner is planned by Cedar Creek Church from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the church, located at 142 Rodney Dr., Gun Barrel City. For information, call (214) 536- 5072.

Living History Day fair
The annual Kaufman County Children’s Living History Day fair is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the county “Poor Farm,” 3600 S. Houston St. (behind the Wall), SH 34 and FM 1388, entrance across from the high school.

Square dance
Round and square dancing is from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 (first and third Saturday of each month), at the Log Cabin Swingers Square Dance Club, 1210 North Tool Drive (SH 274) Everyone is welcome, no charge for observers. For information, call (903) 340-9672.

Colfax women bazaar
The Colfax Community Women annual bazaar is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Colfax United Methodist Church, at the corner of FM 16 and Van Zandt CR 4418. A large variety of homemade crafts and baked goods are available for sale. A handcrafted homemade quilt and a set of Christmas yard angels are offered. For information, call Martha King at (903) 829-8043.

Kemp community prayer
A community prayer with the mayor of Kemp is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, (every third Monday), at Kemp city hall. All citizens are invited.

Rootseekers meeting
The Rootseekers Genealogy Society meets at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, at the Tri-County Library. Charles Finsey will speak on “Hannah’s Letters.” Meetings are open to the public. Anyone wishing to learn more about researching their ancestors is welcome.

VFW holiday dinner
The VFW Post 4376 and its Ladies Auxiliary are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24, in the hall, for members, volunteers, guests and families. For those who can’t cook, are alone or with funds unavailable.

Legion ‘hot dog bar’
The American Legion Post 310 Auxiliary is hosting a hot dog bar from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25 at the post on Gun Barrel Lane. Proceeds from the roasted “dawgs” with all the fixin’s will help send a local girl to Girls’ State in the summer of 2012. For information, call (903) 887-3532.

GBC holiday contest
The Gun Barrel City Beautification Committee Holiday Merchant Decorating Contest is set for Monday, Nov. 28, through Friday, Dec. 2 (outside decor only will be judged). A $250 prize will be awarded Friday, Dec. 9, along with a newspaper photo and winner sign. Register at Gun Barrel City hall.

K-6 grades basketball
Kemp Area Sports Association (KASA) basketball sign ups for kindergarten through sixth grade, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29 to Thursday, Dec. 1, at Kemp Dairy Queen or online at  until Sunday, Dec. 4. For information, call (903) 275-7466 or e-mail to

PSUMC fellowship
The Payne Springs United Methodist Church monthly fellowship night begins with a covered dish dinner at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. The program will include the “Singing Fireman” presenting favorite Christmas songs. The church is located at 9667 SH 198, south of Mabank. For information, call (903) 451-2978.

CCL Methodist dinner
The Cedar Creek Lake United Methodist Church is hosting its 28th annual Community Christmas Dinner, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at 100 South Old Indian Trail.

MHS Christmas concert
The Mabank High School Choir presents its Christmas “America” concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in the MHS auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public. Also the Panther Edition is singing at community events, including Eubank’s Grief Recovery, Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Mabank Senior Center, and The Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points, Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Free clothing, shoes
Crescent Heights Baptist Church, SH 31, will distribute free clothing and shoes, from 9 to 11 a.m., the first Saturday of each month. For information, call (903) 675-3904.

VFW food drive
The VFW Post 4376 and its Ladies Auxiliary in Seven Points are collecting nonperishable food items for families in need of assistance at Christmas time. To make a donation, call (903) 432-2138.

News & Brief Policy
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Top News

Passerby rescues boy from burning house
A hero’s tale
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–A house fire at 728 Ridgewood in Cedar Crest Shores in Tool Friday morning had neighbors and those passing by pitching in with garden hoses and calls to First Responders. Saved by their actions was a little boy, around 4 years of age, who lived at the frame house with his parents.
Gun Barrel City resident Chuck Ross, 56, was one street away when he noted all the commotion and turned his truck to see what it was all about.
Ross had been looking for an address he was to visit that morning to make an estimate for a job for King Roofing, when he stopped his truck around 9:15 a.m.
The way Ross tells it, he was just the person closest to the boy’s bedroom window, when a woman screamed her son was still inside. Neighbor James Syfrett, 50, and disabled for the past 10 years said, “We didn’t have time to think. He and I tore out the window,” and had jumped two fences to get to the house. Syfrett had arrived to the scene before Ross and had already tried to get to the boy from the house entrance, but was quickly overwhelmed by the smoke and heat. “Smoke and heat poured through the window,” Syfrett said “And he just dove right in.”
“I didn’t do anything, anyone else wouldn’t have done,” Ross insisted. Thick smoke made it impossible to see as Ross groped in the darkness. He said he could hear the woman shouting to him and pointing him toward the closet, when he came upon the boy crouched by the bedroom door. “When I touched the door knob, it was cold, so I opened it,” Ross said. “As soon as he saw the light coming through the back door (of the residence), he took off through it. They’ve got a future track runner there,” Ross said. Ross returned through the window the way he went in just as First Responders arrived on the scene.
The neighbors had been able to extinguish some of the fire from the back of the house using garden hoses, leaving a clear path for the boy to run out of the house, once he could see the light, Ross explained. The boy’s bedroom was at the front of the house, Ross said. “The neighbors really did a good job,” he said.
Tool Fire Department fire chief Mike Grant said he was the first one on the scene and had pulled the boy’s father out of the house, who had also gone back in to search for the boy. He suffered some minor burns and was taken to the hospital for treatment, Grant said.
“By the time I was free, the other man had already left the scene,” Grant told The Monitor. He agreed, the neighbors had done a good job.
The house included vinyl siding, which puts out a lot of smoke when it burns, Ross and Grant said the smoke was filling the house.
Friday, Grant said his preliminary investigation pointed to the fire having started on the back porch, but he could not say what had started the fire in the first place. His fire department got the call at 9:19 a.m. Grant said.
No one else was hurt and the boy is fine, Grant added.


Monarch Utilities ordered to roll back rates
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–Monarch Utilities customers will be seeing their water and sewer rates go down, at least for now.
Starting with the first meter reading after Nov. 15 – which will probably be the December bill – rates will revert back to what they were before an increase went into effect on Aug. 1 of this year. At that time Monarch customers started paying an average 55-percent more for water and sewer service.
The increase came at the same time as Monarch’s application to merge its eight Certificates of Convenience and Necessity, or CCNs, in Texas into one. A CCN is issued to a utility in order to sell water and sewer service in an area. Monarch has filed for a “sale, transfer or merger” (STM) of its CCNs. According to state law, while the STM case is under review, Monarch is allowed to act like the merger is complete.
The rate case and the STM case are two separate issues being presented before State Office of Administrative Hearing (SOAH) judges. After a hearing in Austin last week in the STM case, SOAH judges ruled:
• The rate case was suspended while the STM case continues. That means the next steps in determining if the rate increase was correct like discovery, trial or mediation are now on hold.
• Interim rates were implemented, which are the original rates. SOAH judges do have the authority to set interim rates in these cases, but it has only been done once before. That was last year, also in Henderson County, when a SOAH judge sided with customers in the Lakeshore Utility Company rate case.
“I am pleased with the ruling handed down concerning Monarch’s excessive rate hike,” State Rep. Lance Gooden said in a press release. “During these difficult economic times, this ruling will bring much needed financial relief to the citizens of Henderson County.”
SouthWest Water communications manager Janice Hayes released the following statement about the rates: “In the past five years, Monarch has invested nearly $70 million to tap new water sources, replace meters and replace aging water and wastewater treatment plants…. Our sizeable investment across the state means our costs are significantly higher and can no longer be sustained by the current rates.”
Moving forward, the STM case will have a large impact on where the rates are eventually set.
“If this (STM) application is approved, the consolidation would mean that Monarch could pass the costs of unprofitable systems along to the customers of systems running in the black. The idea that a customer on Cedar Creek Lake would have to pay a higher rate for the maintenance of a water system in another part of the state is not a fair practice,” Gooden said.
Hayes said that of the money for improvements, nearly $62 million or two-thirds was invested to address existing regulatory compliance deficiencies.
She described the STM this way, “To better brand, enhance and simplify our customer service experience; we are merging eight of ourTexas regulated water and sewer utilities owned by SouthWest Water Company into one company – Monarch Utilities.”
The other side of the coin is if the STM case is thrown out, the rate case will also die because the higher rates were based on the merger being complete.
Monarch is a division of the Southwest Water Company and serves 43,000 customers in about 96 water systems and 15 sewer systems across 32 Texas counties.
Monarch has more than 4,500 connections in Henderson County, including around the Cedar Creek Lake Area in Beachwood Estates, Carolynn Estates, Cherokee Shores, Michael’s Cove, and the Pinnacle Club.


Man receives eight years for fifth DWI
Monitor Staff Reports
BROWNSBORO–Justin Wade Gunnels, 51, received an eight-year prison term for his fifth DWI conviction.
He faced up to 10 years in prison for his charge. Following a punishment hearing in the court of Judge Dan Moore, 173rd Judicial district Court, ordered the confinement.
Gunnels had been arrested after hitting a mailbox, wrecking his vehicle and fleeing the scene of the crash all while intoxicated on Oct. 16, 2010.
He admitted to drinking whiskey throughout the entire day and was intoxicated he defecated on himself while being transported in Texas State Trooper Monica Carranza’s vehicle.
He was unable to complete the standard field sobriety test. Blood tests later revealed a blood-alcohol content of .20, twice the legal limit.
During the punishment hearing, a witness testified that only moments before hitting the mailbox, two girls, ages 12 each, had gone to the mailbox to check the mail.
Henderson County Assistant District Attorneys Justin Weiner and Nancy Rumar prosecuted the case.
Weiner focused on disparaging remarks made by Gunnels as he was being transported.
Gunnels made statements about law enforcement in general and Henderson County in particular.
“This guy is off the streets and behind bars, which is where he belongs,” District Attorney Scott McKee said.
Other counties had allowed Gunnels to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for DWI charges, but when he decided to get behind the wheel drunk in Henderson County, he sealed his own fate, McKee added.























































































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