Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 16, 2015


By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Those who believe they can’t paint due to lack of talent are invited to the Stop-N-Gogh Art Studio in Mabank by its owner Britney Samford.
Samford says her classes are relaxing, fun, affordable and super easy.
“Everyone can paint,” Samford said. “Many people tell me they can’t paint. My goal is to break that barrier of having to be an ‘artist’ to be able to paint. I want everyone to have fun, not feel stressed out and just enjoy the process,” Samford said.
She encourages children and adults of all ages to join in the fun and students are welcome to bring snacks and a bottle of wine if they wish.
Samford grew up in Mabank, graduated from Mabank High School in 1999 and earned an associate degree in interior design from Wade College in Dallas.
Many who drive through Mabank will recognize Samford’s street art – Jimi Hendrix and the hippie paintings on the old Hippie Hut Cafe and Car Hop, and the bird mural on the brick wall facing Third Street in downtown Mabank.
“I like painting large murals. They are challenging and make me think outside the box,” Samford said.
But Samford’s signature painting is the Van Gogh “Starry Night” outside the Stop-N-Gogh studio and the Mad Hatter on the back wall inside the studio.
“It is the first thing everyone sees when they walk in and has become an icon for the studio. Everyone recognizes it from the billboard advertisement on Third St. closer to Gun Barrel City,” Samford said.
Adult painting classes are offered at 6 p.m. every Thursday night and all painting supplies including canvas, paints and brushes are provided by Samford.
“Just check our Facebook page every week to see what we will be painting and sign up when you see a project you like,” Samford said.
Summer Kid’s Camps are available from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday-Wednesday, July 13-15 and 27-29.
Stop-N-Gogh also offers two to three hour private parties for eight to 40 people.
Most painting projects are of animals and people or trees and scenery, and suitable for hanging or framing.
“I enjoy painting there,” Mabank resident Ted Sharit, 78, said. “Britney is an excellent teacher.”
Sharit began painting at Stop-N-Gogh after his daughter asked him not to make anymore handmade wooden animals for his grandchildren.
“So now I send them my paintings. I buy frames at discount stores and repaint them before I ship them,” Sharit said.
Samford also plans to teach ceramics in the near future.
“I love folk art. I’m beginning with hand-built masks students will be able to hang on their walls,” Samford said.
Ceramics classes are slated to begin in the fall.
Stop-N-Gogh is located at 1020 South Third St. in Mabank and can be reached at (903) 802-1649 and facebook.com/stopngogh.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 12, 2015

Monitor Photo/Robyn Wheeler
Parrot Heads Rod and Tanner Hobbs, Angel Sager, Tracy and Rob Mitchell and Tate and Kim Cramm enjoy a party with a purpose.

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–A core group of nine friends in the Cedar Creek Lake area set out to extend a program that transports unwanted dogs to New York where rescue dogs are in high demand.
According to local initiator Lanette Ainsworth, there is actually a waiting list for adoptable dogs needing good homes. She learned of the Love on Wheels program from the Flower Mound Humane Society, where around 1,000 dogs have already been sent and adopted 1,500 miles away.
However, there are a number of steps to be taken before a pooch makes his flight, and these steps cost money. So Ainsworth’s group, cclfundraisers.com, hosted an event June 20 and raised nearly $10,000! “We went above our expectations of $5,000,” Ainsworth said.
This funding will help the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake prepare a dog for transport. This includes all vaccinations, spay/neutering, installing a microchip, collar and tags, estimated to total $150 per dog.
Another organization – Helping Hounds – actually transports the pets, sparing more adoptable dogs from euthanasia to make room in the shelter for the constant stream of abandoned animals delivered there.
Ainsworth said the fundraising effort had lots of support from local businesses, including donated auction items and decor for the luau-themed event. “It was a great success and we thank all our sponsors,” she said.
CCLfundraisers.com plans to hold more such events in the future, in its efforts to reduce the number of animals undergoing euthanasia.



Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : May 31, 2015

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE-Members of the local community are mourning the loss of three prominent community leaders who contributed to the area’s economy and sense of place.
In Gun Barrel City, (Valarie) Sam Blair, credited with saving the Gun Barrel City Christmas Parade, died May 23, 2015 at the age of 73; and Athens resident Ken Landers, who kicked off the Heritage Cove business park, died May 29, 2015 at the age of 63. Landers also served one term on the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District board of directors.

While many may recall him as a controversial businessman, Landers fostered a grand vision, which encapsulates the entrepreneurial spirit. His daring personality led him to become a minor league baseball player, a pilot and a real estate developer/home builder. He took a dusty plan to develop a business park in the middle of downtown Gun Barrel City and forged some of the key pieces to form what is now Heritage Cove. A memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, May 29, at Carroll-Lehr Funeral Chapel in Athens.

Blair had been a part of the Gun Barrel City community for 28 years and promoted the city and its events, while in regular attendance at the city council meetings. Her contributions and enthusiasm in years past have helped lay the ground work for so much its residents enjoy today. She is credited with printing the city’s first promotional T-shirt and giving it to Willie Nelson in a publicity stunt and was one of the founding members of the city’s beautification committee. A Celebration of Life for her was set for 6 p.m. Friday, May 29, at the Oak Harbor Community Center, off Welch Lane in Gun Barrel City.

The third death is that of John Rowley, of Smoot Wyoming. He was 73. Rowley was responsible for landing Solar Turbines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., in Mabank. The manufacturer has employed some 300 people since 1992 and contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Henderson County United Way and other local charities over the years.

Businessman Terry Groom counted Rowley as one of the few men who had the greatest influence on his life. “He was a very special individual and one of the smartest and the most ethical I ever met,” he said.
Groom recalled the even-tempered man showing rare signs of being upset, a short-time into his second career as a deluxe home builder in the Pinnacle Club. One of his subcontractors approached him with a question about what “kickback” Rowley expected from him, so he could include the amount in the final billing. “I’ll carry this the rest of my life,” Groom said. Rowley said, he told the subcontractor “you don’t ever do that with me again. I’ll make my money up front with the homeowner, fair and square. Don’t ever do something like that again, or you’ll not work for me.”

Larry Teague, who was mayor back then, delivered the news of Rowley’s passing to The Monitor. “The economic impact of having Solar Turbines in Mabank all these years are incalculable,” Teague said. “And it was all because of John Rowley. He was very community minded while he was here, and supported a lot of local people.”
Rowley’s protégé with Solar, Kelly Callihan, says Rowley was the kind of man that made good things happen.
“I worked with him for eight years and he was my mentor,” Callihan said. “I talked to him the week before he passed. He was a great man who would do anything for anyone, hard-working, extremely kind.” Rowley and his wife, Anne, left Texas to retire near family in Smoot, Wyoming in 2001. Rowley kept in touch with Callihan and Groom through the years.

Groom said that on a visit to Canton’s First Monday, the Rowleys drove down to Mabank to look over a property (built up by ABO Truss — the firm’s current location) that had been developed with a large building for a truss company which became overextended. “He didn’t hesitate. He got on the phone and told them he had found a suitable site,” Groom said. Solar closed on the property in 1992, Callihan said.
Rowley was born Jan. 22, 1941 in Parowan, Utah to Rita and Waldo Rowley and joined the U.S. Navy in 1958, serving three tours of duty in Southeast Asia, on the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, Oriskany and Midway through 1967. He began his career with Solar Turbines, traveling to more than 100 Countries, including Tehran, Iran. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, five offspring, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.