Thursday, December 3, 2009







  3 mail collection sites vandalized
Letters stolen from mail drop boxes in Kemp, Mabank and Malakoff
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Over the weekend, at least three U.S. Mail collection boxes were vandalized and the contents taken.
The boxes were located next to the post offices in Kemp, Mabank and Malakoff.
Two other boxes in East Texas, Doucette and Woodland, suffered a similar fate.
“At about 6:45 a.m. Monday morning, the FedEx truck arrived, and the driver noticed the lock to the box lying on the ground,” Nate Witcher, OIC (officer in charge), Kemp Post Office said.
The driver went inside and reported his observation to clerks Margie Houston and Camille Collinsworth. The clerks went outside and inspected the site, Witcher said.
It is estimated the theft occurred sometime between 2 p.m. Saturday (the last pickup from the box) and 5 a.m. Monday.
“It could have been anytime Saturday or Sunday nights,” he said.
“I immediately called the Kemp Police Department and the Postal Inspector,” Witcher said.
“I have already called the Postal Maintenance Department. They are bringing a new box,” he added.
Witcher posted a letter on the box announcing the theft and subsequent police involvement.
“We urge you to check your finances and make calls to anyone who might be affected,” the note states.
Postal customers are also advised to bring their outgoing mail to the inside drop slot.
A container, called a bucket, rests inside the blue mail receptacle and catches the mail deposited there. Thieves took it, along with its contents, Witcher explained.
“They have actually committed two (federal) crimes, that of breaking and damaging the mail drop box and the theft of the mail,” Sam Gonzales with the U.S. Postal Inspector Service said. “The statute actually reads ‘five years per piece of mail taken.’”
The Postal Inspector Service is a federal law enforcement agency with a very high conviction rate.
“We are going to pursue this very diligently,” he added.
Gonzales also had some tips for citizens.
“When you deposit mail, don’t put it in the box after the pickup time listed on the card. Take the time to go inside,” he said.
“If someone mails a check or money order and it later turns up missing, then is cashed by an unauthorized person, report it immediately,” he explained.
For information or to report or discuss problems, call 1-877-876-2457.
The office Gonzales serves has jurisdiction from Fort Worth to Tyler.

Nostalgia thick at 14th annual Christmas on the Square
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–It’s that time again – a chance to step back in time to Christmas past.
Horse-drawn carriages, cold hands wrapped around warm cups of cocoa, the sound of sleigh bells and children’s voices singing Christmas carols are just a few of the sights, sounds and smells of holiday cheer during Christmas on the Square in Eustace.
The 14th annual event is set for 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12.
Keep Eustace Beautiful and event coordinator Dianne Shaffer invite one and all to share a special holiday tradition on the Eustace Town Square.
The turn-of-the-century square will be decorated with lights, garland and ribbon, and its central gazebo will host musical performances by Eustace school students. Community and school choirs, bands and a tour of the log cabin are among the activities being planned.
“The Christmas tree will once again sport the handmade creations of our town’s youth, and the eldest citizen present will light the tree,” Shaffer said.
The fun and frolic begins with Santa’s parade, as bundled onlookers line up around the square to cheer on the many floats.
“In past years, about 2,000 have attended this very special event in Eustace,” she added. “We hope you will be among them this year.”
The Christmas spirit will be in abundance this year, as everything offered by booth holders will be free of charge, thanks to the generosity of local churches, children’s organizations and civic groups, she said.
For more information, call city hall at (903) 425-4702 or Shaffer at (903) 425-5190.

Police seek leads in hit-and-run fatality
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–A man walking along State Highway 274 after dark Monday was struck and killed by a passing vehicle in the northbound lane.
Herbert Oxendine Jr., 52, was pronounced dead just south of the Towering Oaks subdivision on SH 274.
The driver did not stop.
Another motorist coming upon the scene directly afterwards described a dark pickup truck speeding away.
His family is offering a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the identity of the pickup truck and its driver.
A family member said Oxendine was wearing dark clothing on the night in question and that he walked about twice a week from his home near Tool to Kemp to visit his girlfriend.
He has two grown children in Dallas and had recently been presented with a grandchild.
Anyone with information may call the Tool Police Department at (903) 432-3522.

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