dies on dark roadway
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITYA 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
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
KAUFMANFormer 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 Clerks Office.
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
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
That little-known fact was pointed out to her when she made her first bid against a
Terrell resident for the District Clerks 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 Clerks 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.
Its 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 Hugheys 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 shell be taking over makes it easier for me to leave. Im going
to miss this office. Ive put my heart and soul into it, Featherston remarked.
So much so, that shes hardly taken more than an occasional extended weekend away
from her duties.
I just always felt the tremendous responsibility of the office, she explained.
Thats 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.
Shes helped me to know the ins and outs of this office. Im sure
Ill be able to continue the great job that shes done.
Shes been an inspiration to me, both spiritually and professionally,
Hughey added. Shes been a kind motherly spirit and (with tears welling up)
both a blessing and asset to the county.
Were so close. Im sure well continue to see one another from time
to time, she said. And knowing that shes just a phone call away, and
Ill 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.
Ive worked with all of them, she said.
The biggest challenges in this job has been adjusting to change, Featherston
Shes 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 Ive 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, were 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 thats the job of her office, she said.
Someone has told me I tend to be a problem-solver and not a problem-creator,
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 Sandras 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 shes 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, shes watched the county grow from a population of
52,220 in 1990 to todays 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.
Thats 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 Sandras 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 cant put a price on something like that, she said.