Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : July 19, 2015

By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–A few months ago, Aqua World USA owner Jacques Van der Plas set out to rebrand and reorganize the newly-formed local water park to offer more services and attract people from all over Texas.
“We have seven boats including a Hobie Cat, pontoons and sail boats, and seven jet skis,” he said. “And we are open for large corporate event rentals or private parties.”
All day rentals include all water equipment, vendors, restrooms, and fishing and camping sites.
Aqua World USA rents stand-up paddle boats and kayaks as well as being a dealer for both forms of water toys.
Aqua World USA offers food seven days a week, a dining area and bait shop.
“We are located right next door to Coconut Bar & Grill so you can boat to Coconut or Aqua World and use both facilities in one stop,” Van der Plas said.
He is partnering with local entertainment business Shelton Live Event Services to bring more interaction and enjoyment to the community.
Shelton Live owners Robbie and Cory Shelton of Kemp will schedule live entertainment at the pavilion and create a floating stage on the water.
“We are building a foundation for community members of all ages,” Van der Plas said.
New additions to the resort include a gazebo, water volleyball court and windsurfing lessons, and a new kitchen. Individual and group rates are available for any size party or water sports lessons.
“I want high school and college age youth in the area to have somewhere to go and something to do,” Van der Plas said.
Debrey Balwin of Ennis brings her daughters and grandchildren to Aqua World often to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
“We enjoy the atmosphere and the people here,” she said. “My grandchildren love to swim in the lake.”
Van der Plas invites locals to check it out. “Drop by to see the beautiful sunset, the romantic lights and feel the summer breeze on your face.”
Also offered are kids movies and events, night time movies, dancing and sunset cruises.
Aqua World USA opens at 6 a.m. every day of the week. Rental water toys must be back by 8 p.m., holidays included.
“We will have holiday celebrations several time throughout the year. We had prize giveaways, fireworks, face painting and silk screening on demand on July 4. We will continue to have various fun activities on each holiday of the year,” Van de Plas said.
Aqua World USA is located at 2001 E. Cedar Creek Parkway in Seven Points and is equipt with restrooms (no showers) for their guests’ convenience.
For more information, contact (903) 802-0323 or info@aquaworldusa.com.



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.