Sunday, November 28, 2010


Pedestrian dies on dark roadway
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–A man walking home was struck by a car and died.
Frank Robert Martinelli, 69, was walking northbound in the northbound lane of traffic on Harbor Point Road at around 7:30 p.m. Monday.
According to Gun Barrel City police, he was about three feet from the east grassy side of the roadway.
GBC resident Nature Dawn Spencer, 36, was driving a 2003 Volkswagen Passat northbound on Harbor Point Road at the time.
Police measurements ascertained that Martinelli was 201 feet south of the intersection of Bounding Main and Harbor Point Road when he was struck.
An ambulance transported him to East Texas Medical Center-Gun Barrel City, where he was pronounced dead at 8:14 p.m.
No charges were filed against the driver as the investigation concluded that the pedestrian failed to yield the right of way to the motor vehicle.
Martinelli was wearing all black clothing and with his back to traffic. Spencer told police she never saw him.


District Clerk retires after 25 years
First Mabank native to hold Kaufman Countywide office – Sandra Featherston set to retire end of year
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Former Mabank resident and the current Kaufman County District Clerk wants to invite everyone from Mabank to a reception being held in her honor, as she closes out 32 years of service in the District Clerk’s Office.
FeatherstonRetirement.jpg (365623 bytes)Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Sandra Featherston (right) leaves her office in “good hands” with District Clerk-elect Rhonda Hughey, who has worked under Featherston in Kaufman County for the past 15 years.

The come-and-go affair is set for 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, in Maples Hall at 114 N. Washington on the Kaufman County Courthouse Square.
Although living most her adult life in Post Oak Bend, with a short stint in the Metroplex, Sandra Dyer Featherston regards herself a product of her early upbringing in Mabank, the very southeast corner of Kaufman County.
In fact, she identifies herself as the only Kaufman County-wide elected official to hail from Mabank.
That little-known fact was pointed out to her when she made her first bid against a Terrell resident for the District Clerk’s Office – an office she would fill from 1986 until the present.
At the time, she took it as a personal challenge and campaigned heartily.
“I won with 75 percent of the vote, and thankfully never had to face a challenger for the office since then,” she told The Monitor.
She served in the District Clerk’s Office for seven years prior to running to replace her predecessor, Mrs. Ray Vick.
And now, she looks forward to turning over her responsibilities to Rhonda Hughey, a member of her staff for the past 15 years and District Clerk-elect.
“It’s bittersweet to leave this office, but I do so knowing it will carry on in good, firm hands,” Featherston said.
Featherston has been familiar with Hughey’s family going all the way back to her grandparents, Izanna and George Joe, who used to operate a barbecue café between Mabank and Kemp, she said.
“Knowing she’ll be taking over makes it easier for me to leave. I’m going to miss this office. I’ve put my heart and soul into it,” Featherston remarked.
So much so, that she’s hardly taken more than an occasional extended weekend away from her duties.
“I just always felt the tremendous responsibility of the office,” she explained. That’s an attitude that has rubbed off on the eight members of her staff, some of who have been with her for 15 to 20 years.
“They say once you start working for Sandra, you never leave,” Hughey said. “She’s helped me to know the ins and outs of this office. I’m sure I’ll be able to continue the great job that she’s done.
“She’s been an inspiration to me, both spiritually and professionally,” Hughey added. “She’s been a kind motherly spirit and (with tears welling up) both a blessing and asset to the county.
“We’re so close. I’m sure we’ll continue to see one another from time to time,” she said. “And knowing that she’s just a phone call away, and I’ll have all her experience to fall back on is both an asset and a privilege.”
Featherston first joined the office October, 1979, and over the next seven years rose to become chief deputy district clerk.
In 1984, the county got its first computer system – used mainly to track its financial business, Featherston recounted. “It was a really big deal for the county,” she said.
Jan. 1, 1987, Circuit Judge Glen Ashworth administered the oath of office to Featherston as District Clerk. At that time, Ashworth served as a traveling judge for Kaufman, Rockwall and Van Zandt counties.
Today, Featherston serves six judges and numerous attorneys.
“The residents of Kaufman County are fortunate to have the current judges in office. I’ve worked with all of them,” she said.
“The biggest challenges in this job has been adjusting to change,” Featherston said.
She’s gone from recording and accessing court records manually in massive books to accessing court records through computerized indexes – with the earliest court records going back to 1849.
But adjusting to the different personalities of incoming officeholders and their requirements have offered even greater challenges than adjusting to new technologies.
“I think I’ve been very successful at adapting to the changes and growing demands of this office over the years,” Featherston said. She attributes that success to a spirit of teamwork and a desire to serve the people of Kaufman County as helping her in superceding all other considerations.
“When we all pull together, we’re able to work better, and government is able to do its job better for those who live here,” she said.
Organization and efficiency are essential to the smooth operations of the courts, both civil and criminal – that’s the job of her office, she said.
“Someone has told me I tend to be a problem-solver and not a problem-creator,” she said.
Featherston fondly remembers her years at Mabank High School, where she was a member of the cheerleading squad.
Her sweetheart, Shelley Featherston, was a football player. The couple married shortly after Sandra’s graduation in 1965 (her fiancé graduated the year before).
She still relishes reuniting with the girls with whom she cheered and rode quadrille through her high school years in annual “sleepovers.”
After leaving fire protection work, Shelley became a certified law enforcement officer, and later ran for Kaufman County Precinct 1 Constable, an office he will hold until the end of 2012, when he plans to join Sandra in retirement.
Every two years for the past 25 years, either Sandra or Shelley has been on the ballot, Sandra said. And though she’s never had to defend her post, she has campaigned for her husband as hard as if it had been her seat, she said.
The couple has reared two loving daughters.
In her tenure as District Clerk, she’s watched the county grow from a population of 52,220 in 1990 to today’s estimate of 102,550.
With that growth, the number of crimes have increased, along with the number of murder cases. She remembers one case about 10 years ago where the death penalty was handed down.
Working with and getting to know the people in the courthouse has been an added benefit to her years there, Sandra said.
She points out a beautiful painting hanging in the office, featuring a homestead in springtime with a vast peach orchard, front yard filled with bluebonnets, high rotating dinner bell and house with center breezeway.
“That’s a portrait of our (the Dyer) family homestead, four miles north of Mabank on FM 3080,” she said.
It was painted as a gift to her in 1988. Later that same year, it burned to the ground, claiming the life of Sandra’s mother. But Sandra has this beautiful painting, done by a clerk in one of the courtrooms as a special gift to her, to recall the old home place.
“You just can’t put a price on something like that,” she said.



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