The Family Resource Center located at 107 Spring Valley, Gun
Barrel City, is looking for your help. The Center needs heaters
for babies, the elderly and people without heat. For information
call Debbie at (903) 887-4711. Donations are greatly
The Texas Department of Health Services monthly immunization
clinic at the Mabank Fire Department, 111 E. Mason, Mabank is
from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. The fourth Tuesday, odd
months only. No clinic on holidays. For information call (972)
‘Searching for the King’
The First Baptist Church of Eustace Celebration Choir and Drama
Team invites everyone to experience a Christmas celebration at 6
p.m. Sunday, (tonight). For information, call the church at
CCL Women’s Club
The Cedar Creek Lake Women’s Club meets at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec.
13, at the Cedar Creek Country Club. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.
The Sullivan kids will perform winter and Christmas songs.
Sarah Maples Chapter
Sarah Maples Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
meets at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, at The Library at Cedar
Creek Lake. Don’t forget your gifts for veterans in nursing
homes and cans to be recycled.
MHS Christmas concert
The Mabank High School Panther Edition is singing at The Library
at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points, Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Kemp seniors party
The Kemp Senior Citizens and Kemp Card Ministry will host a
Christmas Party at the Kemp Senior Center from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 15. Come and enjoy the food and community
fellowship. To make a donation toward the event call (903)
Free nights of skating
Cedar Creek Bible Church is hosting free skating, skits and
snacks from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16. Parents may drop off
their children ages 4 through sixth grade to get a little
Christmas shopping done. Skates, popcorn and hot chocolate
provided free. The church is located on SH 274, one mile north
of the Seven Points traffic light. For information call (903)
S-R pancake breakfast
Scurry-Rosser Parents and Friends annual pancake breakfast is
set for 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Scurry North 40 (across
from the S-R High School. Donations appreciated.
Round and square dancing is set for 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec.
17, (the first and third Saturdays of each month). The location
is the Log Cabin Swingers Square Dance Club located at 1210 N.
Tool Drive (SH 274).
The Whitton Community Center is hosting a holiday celebration
and fundraiser beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. Activities
include holiday crafts and gift store for children, a holiday
bake sale, door prizes and a smothered steak dinner, baked
potatoes, salad and dessert. The event benefits the building
Harbor Baptist benefit
Harbor Baptist Church in Payne Springs, is hosting a basket and
dessert auction beginning with registration at 4 p.m. Sunday,
Dec. 18, a youth group fundraiser. The church is located at
12059 SH 198. For information call (903) 451-4171.
Kemp community prayer
A community prayer with the mayor of Kemp is set for 7 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 19, (every third Monday), at Kemp City hall. All
citizens are invited.
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.
Food pantry drop box
This time of year the food pantry gets low. Groom and Sons’
would like to make it easy to make donations. A drop box is
located in the lobby of the store where anyone can put their
donation of canned or nonperishable foods. Cash donations are
also accepted. Thanks in advance for your generosity.
The NA is teaching coping skills to families of addicts at 8
p.m. seven days a week. For information call (903) 432-2405.
Mail address is Cedar Creek NA, 715 South Seven Points Dr. Suite
D, Seven Points, TX, 75143.
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)
Recycle Christmas lights
Kaufman County residents and surrounding areas can recycle
broken or unwanted Christmas lights for free at the
Environmental Co-op Recycling Plant, 1100 Airport Rd., or The
Environmental Co-op office, 401 N. Adelaide, both in Terrell.
All types of string lights are accepted, including icicles and
LEDs, with plans to expand locations to Kaufman and Kemp. For
information, call (972) 524-0007 or visit
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main sports news obits lake life events views classifieds
Atheist group claims manger
scene at courthouse is illegal
Claim sparks largest Malakoff News Facebook
response; local pastors plan Saturday rally
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Area pastors are planning a rally on the courthouse lawn
after an anonymous county resident contacted The Freedom From
Religion Foundation (FFRF), complaining about the manger scene.
The rally is tentatively set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec.
17 in Athens.
Based in Wisconsin, the FFRF sent a letter dated Dec. 1 to
Henderson County Commissioners stating the nativity scene on the
courthouse lawn is illegal.
“We request that, as the Henderson County Commissioners, you
take immediate action to ensure that no religious displays are
on city or county property. Please inform us in writing of the
steps you are taking to remedy this First Amendment violation so
that we may notify our complainant,” reads the letter.
According to the letter, the complainant is “a concerned area
resident and taxpayer” of Henderson County. The resident is not
named. The FFRF claims to represent 800 of the state’s
24,782,302 Texans, (according to the 50 State Comparisons 2010
Edition. Texas is the second most populous state in the union).
News of the letter posted on The Malakoff News Facebook page
garnered the largest response to date.
Commissioners did not address this issue in open session
Tuesday, but afterward a majority of the court told The Monitor
they had no intention of moving the nativity scene based on the
letter. Not all commissioners had the opportunity to comment.
For now, County Judge Richard Sanders laid down the county line
when he said, “They are going to have to make us move it.”
One commissioner did point out, however, that this could be a
no-win situation for the county. Depending on how far the FFRF
wants to push this, he said, the county could be forced to
choose between taking down the nativity scene and provoking a
vast majority of the residents to anger, or spending tens of
thousands of dollars the county doesn’t have to fight a lawsuit.
The letter outlines the FFRF’s reasoning for wanting the
nativity scene removed: “The Supreme Court has ruled it is
impermissible to place a nativity scene as the sole focus of a
display on government property.”
According to FFRF, the fact that the nativity scene is not
actually owned by the county is not relevant. The nativity scene
and all the secular decorations on the square are displayed by
the Light Up Athens Committee.
“When the county allows this manger scene to be created, which
depicts the legendary birth of Jesus Christ, it places the
imprimatur of the county government behind the Christian
religious doctrine,” reads the letter.
After being told the county does not own the nativity scene
Tuesday, FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told The Monitor
that allowing an outside agency to use public property to
display the nativity scene “opens up a public forum.”
Gaylor said that everyone has to have access to the public
forum, which would require the county to have a permitting
process in place. That way, someone with a different religious
belief would have equal access to the Courthouse Square.
Gaylor said the FFRF would be sending open records requests to
the county regarding permitting for a Christmas display.
According to Gaylor, the Henderson County nativity scene is one
of 12 the FFRF is currently working to eliminate. Last year, the
foundation targeted more than 35 locations, she said.
She added the FFRF doesn’t normally go to court over nativity
displays “because the law is clear.” She said the relevant
Supreme Court decisions came in 1983 and 1989.
“This (the Henderson County nativity scene) is clearly in
violation and they need to change it,” Gaylor said.
In a letter dated Dec. 7, county attorney Clint Davis responded
to FFRF’s letter stating “that Henderson County believes that it
is in complete compliance with the requirements of the
Constitution and acting very much in accord with prior U.S.
Supreme Court rulings.”
Davis elaborated by fully describing the Christmas displays on
the courthouse square’s outer perimeter, and the layout of the
four equally grand entrances to the building.
“These displays are secular in purpose and placed in our County
in a visible location to create a festive atmosphere for the
celebration of Christmas,” he writes.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these types of displays and
we believe that we are in compliance with guidelines set forth
in Lynch v. Donnelly and the test created in Lemon v. Kurtzman
by the U.S. Supreme Court. More recently, the Supreme Court
reinforced those 1980-era decisions in Salazar v. Buono (2010),
and made clear that “the goal of avoiding governmental
endorsement does not require eradication of all religious
symbols in the public realm.”
Mabank ISD campuses honored for academic
Mabank High School among top 10 percent
statewide in number of students ready for college
Special to the Monitor
MABANK–The Mabank Independent School District Spotlight on Nov.
28, included numerous awards received by all campuses. Mabank
High School and Mabank Junior High both received national
The National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA),
department of ACT, Inc. identified Mabank Junior High as a NCEA
Higher Performing School.
Mabank Junior High received Higher Performing (HP) recognition
for their outstanding scores in science in which, 96 percent of
the students passed the science Texas Association of Knowledge
and Skills with 61 percent at commended level.
Dr. Darin Jolly, JH principal accepted the accolades and
credited this accomplishment to the faculty at MJH.
Receiving this award demonstrates the commitment and belief at
the Junior High that all students are capable of graduating
prepared for college and careers.
Mabank High School led by principal Brad Koskelin, received the
2011 College Readiness Award from the American College Test
The award is in recognition of MHS having a significant increase
in its ACT composite score over the past five years while, at
the same time, increasing or maintaining the number of students
taking the ACT assessment.
This resulted in a greater numbers of students being college
Only about 10 percent of the high schools in Texas were
recognized for this accomplishment.
All MISD campuses received Gold Performance Awards from the
Texas Education Agency (TEA).
MHS received Gold Performance Awards for the following.
• 60 percent of the examinees scoring at or above the TAKS
commended performance in social studies.
• Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Higher Education Readiness
Component: 81 percent of the 11th grade examinees surpassed the
met standard score and reached college-ready levels on English
Language Arts TAKS.
• Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Higher Education Readiness
Component : 76 percent of the 11th grade examinees surpassed the
met standard score and reached college-ready criteria on math
• College Ready Graduates: This award is based on the number of
graduates (Class of 2010), who scored at or above the
college-ready criteria on both ELA and math.
To be considered college-ready, a graduate must have met or
exceeded the college-ready criteria on the exit-level TAKS, or
the ACT, or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) tests.
The standard to receive the award was 40 percent of the Class of
Mabank HS reached 74 percent of the Class of 2010, which
graduated College Ready.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dena Mojica said this
percentage has progressively increased from the Class of 2006,
with 42 percent Gold Performance awards: 44 percent in math and
52 percent in reading.
Central Elementary received two Commended Gold Performance
Awards: 41 percent in math and 40 percent in reading.
Central and Lakeview also received Gold Performance Awards for
Central received one for math and Lakeview one for reading.
“The teachers and administrators of Mabank ISD are committed to
increasing the number of college ready graduates. Our students
have proven that they can surpass the minimal standard and are
eager to achieve higher levels. Our job is to continue to
challenge, enrich and support the students of MISD from
pre-kindergarten to 12th grade,” MISD superintendent of schools
Dr. Russell Marshall said.