People, Places & Events


Kids ride free on the Texas State Railroad
Cure for the summer doldrums
 Special to The Monitor
RUSK–It is mid-summer when the doldrums set in and families start thinking of ways to perk up everyone’s interest by doing something different. The Texas State Railroad can fill that need.
It is the perfect place to come and enjoy a summer’s day.
The living history and the beautiful East Texas countryside experienced from the coach of one of two antique trains make for a great time.
This 125-year-old historic railroad that runs between Rusk and Palestine, has a special offer you can hardly refuse, “Kids Ride Free!”
That’s right! Kids 12 and under ride free through the end of September.
As one mother put it “…this was a great time for my children and me.”
Information and reservations for this one of a kind experience are available by calling (903) 683-2561 or (800) 442-8951. You can also check out the railroad on-line at
The railroad operates on a Thursday-Sunday schedule until the end of July and on a Saturday/Sunday only schedule beginning in August.
A grandmother said it best; “I bring my grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews to ride the train every year. The history, ride and just pure enjoyment my family receives is priceless”.
So shake off the doldrums and take a nostalgic ride on the Texas State Railroad.

New country club community breaks ground
By Dan Eakin
Monitor Correspondent

WILLS POINT–A crowd of about 50 people, composed largely of dignitaries from the Kaufman Chamber of Commerce and the City of Kaufman, was on hand for groundbreaking ceremonies for Racers Ranch Tuesday morning.
Racers Ranch, located just seven miles southwest of Wills Point in what is now a remote area of eastern Kaufman, will be a country club community with a 3.25-mile race track, rather than a golf course.
“This is one of the most unique developments I’ve everh heard of,” Kaufman Chamber president Lee Ayres told the crowd.
“This is beyond unique. This will bring rooftops. This will bring jobs. The opportunities that will come out of this development are far reaching,” Chamber board chairman Michelle Sjerven said.
Racers Ranch will be composed of more than 1,300 acres of ranch land, including more than 600 acres of trees.
“This will be a great place for homes, and we will have a great racetrack. But this is also about preserving land.” co-developer Bill Georgias said.
“Within a few years, there won’t be another 1,300-acre ranch within an hour from Dallas,” he said.
“This will create a legacy for racers to pass on to generations to come,” co-developer Dan Gage added.
Racers Ranch will also feature an equestrian center.
Representatives of the Wills Point Chamber of Commerce were invited to attend the groundbreaking, but were not present,Ayers noted.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for Racers Ranch were held on the property, about three miles south of I-20 on Hiram Road.
The ceremonies were held in front of a cabin to be used as a sales office.
Construction of a country clubhouse and other facilities is set to begin within a few weeks.
Racers Ranch residents will have access to a variety of country club amenities, including a secured gate entrance, a clubhouse and a swimming pool.
Part of the property is less than a mile from the Van Zandt County line, Georgias noted, and that it has a Wills Point address.
“Rather than being a country club for golfers, this will be a country club for race car enthusiasts,” he said. Also, an equestrian center is planned for horse lovers.
The ranch is to be built around a 3.25-mile road-racing course created by world-renowned track designer Alan Wilson of Wilson Motorsports in North Salt Lake, Utah.
“This track will be fashioned similar to Wilson’s other designs in North America like the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., as well as his international work at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant in Montreal, Quebec,” development spokesman Mike Gullatt said.
About 60 home sites are planned for Racers Ranch, he said.
“Those who want to live near the race track in homes overlooking the race track may do so, and those who want to live further away overlooking a quiet peaceful pasture may also do so,” he added.
Most of Racers Ranch is being built on the old Molouf Ranch, also known as Cross Creeks Ranch.
“There are still about 200 head of cattle on the ranch,” he said. Once the project is completed, some cattle will remain, as will horses.
He said some of those who will live on the ranch will have horses of their own which can be stabled at the equestrian center, and that Racers Ranch will also provide some horses for those who just want to go for an occasional horseback ride.
There are several motorsport race track complexes in the United States, but this will be the only one combining race track and equestrian enthusiasts.
No grandstands are planned for the race track.
“It will be for the use of the ranch owners and their guests,” he said.
High-speed driver safety straining will be available to residents and guests.
“Safety will be our number one issue,” he said.
“We are very, very excited about becoming a part of this community and working with the people in this area,” Georgias said.

Cedar Creek Kiwanians hear Chamber news
Davis touts fund-raisers, and money horror stories
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–Greater Cedar Creek Lake Chamber of Commerce board chairman Ron Davis described an outdoor grill/cooker he designed to be featured in the Chamber’s next fund-raising activity.
“Someone is going to get a quality piece of equipment and a trailer to haul it around on for the price of a ticket,” Davis said during the club’s weekly luncheon Wednesday at McClain’s Willows Club.
“It’s not going to breakdown in any of our lifetimes,” he added, stating the heavy-gauge steel and other materials were all donated for its construction.
It is valued between $1,500 and $2,000, he said.
Other major fund-raisers on the Chamber’s docket include the Red Hot Golf Tournament set for July 28 at King’s Creek Golf Course and the Red Garter Saloon, set for Aug. 26 in Tool.
Davis also shared details of the Chamber’s first leadership class, which ran from September to May and graduated seven members.
The monthly class meetings inform leaders of how things work in the county, city government, police and sheriff’s department, court system, medical emergencies, how school districts are organized and governed, and the like.
“Even if you think you know how these work, you’ll learn things you didn’t know before,” Davis said.
The Chamber is planning a second leadership program come September for 12 candidates. “It’s our way of grooming people for leadership here around the lake,” he said.
“You are the Chamber. What it can do to promote our area and our member businesses – that’s what it wants to do,” he said.
Davis is also the president of First State Bank, Mabank. He listed seven regulatory agencies that the banking industry has to answer to and pleaded for patience on the part of bank customers when it comes to establishing identification and filling out forms when large amounts are being deposited.
Most of these regulations are aimed at preventing tax evasion, but we’re told its for home security, he said.
“We want to serve our customers well, but the government requires us to get our customers to fill out forms that often tries their patience,” he said.
However the major problem facing bankers and merchants is the passing of counterfeit bills and checks.
“There are a million horror stories,” he said.
The worst ones involve small amounts of money or fraudulent checks made in small amounts.
A thief can write $2,000 a day of worthless checks in amounts less than $100, and get away with it, because the one incident that is caught is such a small amount, it doesn’t seem worth the cost to prosecute it, he related.
The best advice Davis gave to help consumers spot fraudulent activity was to “monitor your checking account statements, carefully.”

How did hot dog get its name?
Special to The Monitor

GUN BARREL CITY–You can help make history by attending the first annual American Legion Post 310 National Hot Dog Month Celebration Saturday July 22 at the Post. Legionnaires will be selling hot dogs from noon until 6 p.m.
Information will also be available for nonmembers who are interested in joining the Legion, the Auxiliary, the Riders, or the S.A.L. And a horseshoe tournament is being planned.
Proceeds from this event will be used to purchase perishable items for the Christmas Food Baskets, an annual Legion activity.
History Answer – The term “hot dog” is credited to sports cartoonist Tad Dorgan.
At a 1901 baseball game in the Polo Grounds in New York City, vendors began selling hot dachshund sausages in rolls.
From the press box, Dorgan could hear the vendors yelling, “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!”
He sketched a cartoon depicting the scene but wasn’t sure how to spell “dachshund” so he called them simply, “hot dogs.” And the rest is history.

Game Warden, Coast Guard join forces on lake
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–the duties of Coast Guard Auxiliary (CGA) Flotilla 5–14 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Departmentoften merge.
Speakers Jim Salzman, immediate past Flotilla Commander and Tony Norton, Region III, District I Game Warden shared the speaker’s podium at the Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake weekly luncheon, Friday.
Salzman said the approximate 32 members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary patrolled and sometimes answered emergency calls.
“Our organization is all volunteers. Members buy their own uniforms and supplies,” he said.
“During Katrina, about six of our members transported RVs, back and forth in the storm-hit area.
“We are now leading into coastline security,” Salzman explained.
The CGA is now under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, instead of the Department of Transportation, he said.
“We are a major player in times of disaster and security,” he said.
However, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has no law enforcement powers.
“But, we are there for each other. The CGA are there when they are needed and the Department of Wildlife is there when they need enforcement,” Norton said.
Norton said in April, he was sent to Charleston, S.C., to receive training by the Coast Guard.
Norton said boaters on the lake are encouraged to name a designated driver when they plan to party with alcohol, just as automobile drivers do.
“This fourth of July was slower than in the past. The message has got out that we will not tolerate drinking and boating,” Norton said.
While open container laws do not pertain to boats, the public intoxication laws and DWI and BWI laws do apply, he explained.
“The overall impact has been positive,” he added.
There were other unexpected problems Norton said.
“This season was kind of odd. There was a little bit of lack of preparation seen more this year than in past years,” he said.
Some of the problems included lack of registration, not having enough life jackets and other necessary safety items.
“Take the time to prepare if you have people coming in,” Norton said.
Individual boaters are responsible for their own safety, he added.
“And Personal Water Craft are more likely to be in an accident,” he said.
“A PWC can turn a 50-year-old man into a 2-year-old,” Norton added.