People, Places & Events


Park along US 175 to be relocated
By Diane Murray
Monitor Correspondent

ATHENS–A small roadside picnic area/park is in danger of being run over by the highway widening project along U.S. Highway 175 between Eustace and Athens.
The J.M. Pickens Park was named after the owner of a savings and loan company on the east side of Athens town square many years ago, according to Athens resident Edith Rounsavall.
The park was named after Johnny Pickens, Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney confirmed. Pickens owned the Athens Savings and Loan.
“My dad, Mac McKinney, told me Pickens was a friend of C.F. Hawn, who was instrumental in the construction of U.S. 175. The Dallas part of the highway is named after Hawn,” he said.
“That is probably how the park came to be named after Pickens and his wife. Of course, this is speculation on my dad’s part,” McKinney concluded.
Though the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) is closing many roadside picnic areas, due to infrequent use, this is not the plan for Pickens Park, according to TxDoT area engineer Vernon Webb.
“We’ve been communicating with the family and the plans call for moving the park back and rebuilding it a bit smaller,” Webb said. “The marker will either be replaced at the relocated park or given to the family.”
An earlier call to a TxDoT representative out of Dallas yielded the overall plan of closing down picnic areas in general, due to misuse. Picnic areas differ from rest stops in that they do not have bathroom facilities.
“We close them as they get bypassed,” the representative said.
“These parks are just not used the way they used to be,” he added. “They attract drug traffic, people who dump their trash and other problems with destruction of the equipment. However, closures are done on a case-by-case basis. Some are used.
“The one on U.S. 175, we intend to keep,” he said. “We are going to set it further back.”
While it is hard to say when one last saw a family picnicking at a roadside park, these parks are used in positive way.
Folks stop to stretch their legs, drink a beverage and rest a bit, especially truck drivers.
Quite a few recreational vehicles (RVs) are seen stopping there, as drivers eat and catch a few winks.

Mabank residents make honors lists
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–Seven Mabank residents have been named to the President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List at the University of Texas at Tyler for the spring 2005 semester.
To be named to the President’s Honor roll, a student must have completed in one semester, 12 or more credit hours with grades of “A” in all courses that carry grade points.
To be named to the Dean’s List, a student must have completed at least nine credit hours with a grade point average of 3.75 or above.
Mabank residents on the President’s Honor Roll are Cassie Chambers McQuitty, Luke Benjamin Potts, Seth Aaron Potts and Wynetta Kay Williams.
Residents on the Dean’s List are Brandi E. Harris, Donald Luke Shaver and Crystal Marie Theriault.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service.
More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 5,300 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.