Thursday, May 18, 2006


VZ raids 6 gambling facilities
By Sheila Kunick
Monitor Correspondent

CANTON–The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, VZ Criminal District Attorney’s office, and the Terrell Police Department raided a number of illegal gambling facilities across the county this week.
At 11 a.m. Monday, officers began raids on six illegal gambling facilities.
Raids were conducted in Edom, at Granny’s on Interstate 20, at an unnamed game room on State Highway 19 between Edgewood and Canton, one along Van Zandt County Road 2807 just north of Mabank, one in Wills Point, and another game room located near the Interstate 20/Turner-Hayden Road interchange.
Van Zandt County Sheriff R.P. “Pat” Burnett said the facility on VZCR 2807, about a quarter-mile off State Highway 198 just north of the Farm-to-Market 3080 intersection, was the largest of the raids.
“We are seizing all the eight-liner machines and anything connected to illegal gambling. This is the end of the illegal eight-liners in Van Zandt County,” Burnett said.
“We are issuing warning citations to all the players. From this day forward, anyone found on an illegal gambling machine will be criminally filed on. Today, we are not making any arrests. There will be arrests made in connection with these illegal businesses,” he added.
Burnett said that some of the owners of the businesses might be arrested for their illegal activity.
Gambling activities are misdemeanor offenses, he said.
“We have been very successful taking the narcotics off the street, and therefore I did not want to leave the success of that to deal with this. We got the first part of the narcotics arrests made and we began this immediately,” Burnett said.
“These establishments are illegal. We have had armed robberies of the establishments and of the patrons,” he added.
“We have had shots fired in these businesses during these robberies. We have had arsons connected with these businesses and bomb threats connected with these establishments,” Burnett continued. “These types of illegal businesses are not what the community of Van Zandt county needs or deserves, and we are not going to put up with them anymore.”
The raids followed a lengthy investigation, which is ongoing. When the investigation is complete, arrests may be made, Burnett added.
So far, 300 machines have been confiscated, along with a large amount of cash.
“I don’t know how much cash was confiscated at this time,” Burnett said. “These types of businesses are very lucrative illegal businesses. I was also informed that the quarter push machines have been deemed illegal.”
At this time, the sheriff’s office is asking business owners for their voluntary compliance on those quarter machines.
Burnett said his office received three to four calls a week complaining about these types of businesses, and also said he received numerous complaint letters.
“Everywhere I go, citizens have asked me about these types of illegal businesses on a regular basis. I promised them that I was coming, and now I am here,” Burnett said.

Lawmakers get the job done
Governor expected to sign school finance reform package
Monitor Staff Reports
AUSTIN–It was a near thing, but 31 state senators and 144 representatives agreed on how to relieve property owners of carrying the lion’s share of the burden for the education of Texas’ future.
It looked like the bill’s sponsor, Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, was going to have to fight her own bill when an addition to House Bill 1 threw the equity card into the mix.
“It is one of the most contentious issues you can ever imagine in the Legislature,” Shapiro told the Dallas Morning News.
After a compromising session with Sen. Todd Staples and lots of talk with other members, Shapiro came up with a compromise that let wealthy districts keep more of their revenue, but also boosted state funding for poorer districts, so they didn’t fall further behind.
“I knew it was tough and would take a lot of negotiating,” Rep. Betty Brown told The Monitor Tuesday. “But, I felt an agreement would be reached.
“It’s not a perfect bill, but overall, it is a fair bill,” she said.
“We’re all very proud of it,” Sen. Robert Deuell said. “It’s fair to urban and rural as well as to wealthy and poor districts.”
The expanded business tax is broad-based, instead of unevenly applied as before, and many business people supported it as a fair way to raise the needed funds, both Brown and Deuell agreed.
Deuell said he voted against the tax on tobacco, as he is against an excise tax in any form.
He also felt what was accomplished this session will last.
“It should be able to sustain funding for education,” he said, mentioning the many studies and experts who presented testimony.
Both sales tax and business tax reflect the condition of the economy Deuell pointed out.
If there are further steps to be taken, it will be to see how it works out over time, and make adjustments along the way, he said.

Mabank Western Week begins June 5
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–Coming once again, and very soon, is the 51st annual Mabank Rodeo and Western Week.
Everyone is invited to come and enjoy the fun and tradition of Mabank’s popular Western Week Monday through Saturday, June 5-10.
The event is sponsored by the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department.
The week of fun culminates with the annual parade and rodeo. Line up is at 3 p.m. and parade starts at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Cash prizes will be presented for first through third place for the best western theme float or wagon (Coggins required).
Prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded, respectively.
Doc Brown again will serve as parade marshal.
The entire Cedar Creek Lake area and surrounding communities are invited to take part in the parade, as well as all the other events.
New this year, and with high hopes of joining the list of other “annuals,” is another chance to win part of $1,500 in prize money.
The Mabank Branch of the Greater Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the brand-new Mabank Western Week Chuck Wagon Barbecue Cookoff.
The event is designed with the amateur cook in mind, who has a favorite recipe to try out on friends, neighbors and out-of-towners too.
The good smells will begin with the set-up for cooking at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Mabank Pavilion.
Four prize categories will each have a $200 first prize, a $150 second prize and $50 third prize.
Categories include the best tasting:
• brisket,
• ribs,
• sausage, and
• chef’s choice, which includes any beef, pork, chicken or fish prepared either on a grill or smoker/cooker.
The entry fee is $25 for each category.
Entry forms are available at the Greater Chamber office, or call (903) 887-3152.
Public tasting (fee charged) will begin after the judging, well before the parade, and will include baked beans, potato salad and other food items.
Events begin Monday with the Mabank Rodeo Queen rehearsal. For more information, call Johnny Adams at (903) 880-3858.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, a family fun time will start with games and concessions at the Pavilion.
A whole range of activities begin at 6:15 p.m., including qualifying heats for the annual lawnmower races, the egg and/or boot toss, a dunking booth, cake walk, little red wagon races and for ages 4 to 6, pony rides.
Another chance for monetary prizes comes with the ever-popular bed races at 8 p.m.
Prizes are $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third.
Concessions and games for non-profit organizations are available. For information, call John Holcomb at (903) 887-4747.
The lawnmower races are set for 8:30 p.m. and the prizes are even better: $200 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third place.
For lawnmower race information, call Jason Neighbors at (903) 880-0356.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Mabank Rodeo Queen’s Dinner and Coronation will take place.
For information, call Adams at (903) 880-3858.
The 51st annual Mabank Rodeo begins at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Andrew Gibbs Arena on Business 175.
For ranch rodeo information, call Bobby Floyd at (972) 932-6757.
Events include wild cow milking, pasture roping, double mugging, and wild horse riding. Added money includes $1,000.
The UPRA Rodeo action begins at 8 p.m. Friday. For information, call Kim Beene at (903) 852-5897, Hat Brand Rodeo.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, the second night of the UPRA Rodeo begins.
The traditional dance at Mabank Pavilion begins at 10 p.m. with free dance and free music, all provided by Mike McConathy Jr. and the “Real Country Band.”