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Current Issue
December 11
, 2011






News in Brief

Heaters needed
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 appreciated.

Immunization clinic
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) 932-2038.

‘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 (903) 425-2261.

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) 498-4875.

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) 432-2175.

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.

Square dance
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).

Whitton fundraiser
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 repair fund.

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.

Narcotics Anonymous
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) 432-2138.

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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Top News

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 achievements
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 recognition.
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 (ACT) Council.
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 ready.
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 TAKS.
• 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 2010.
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 Comparable Improvement.
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.





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