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Thursday, October 4, 2012

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MAN CHARGED WITH ARSON, MAKING THREATS – Johnny R. Pippin Jr., 26, of Decatur has been charged with arson, endangering a child and retaliation in connection with a Sept. 5 fire at the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur. The charges were filed Tuesday after Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson issued warrants and set Pippin’s bond at $750,000 on the arson, $50,000 on endangering a child and $200,000 on retaliation – a total of $1 million. Pippin is accused of setting a fire in a third-floor bathroom of the courthouse that morning, forcing the evacuation of the building. It was originally thought that someone had tossed a cigarette butt into the trash can, igniting plastic bags. When evidence of possible arson was found, Wise County Investigator Sgt. Mike Neagle was called in to work on the case. His work revealed that the day before the fire, Sept. 4, a county employee had come across a handwritten message on the wall in a men’s restroom in the courthouse basement. The message contained a death threat against County Attorney James Stainton as well as other threats. A review of security camera footage in the courthouse yielded video evidence that a male subject, later identified as Pippin, had carried a backpack into the courthouse that day. Investigators found that Pippin was listed on the docket for Sept. 5 in the County Court, where Stainton was prosecuting him on a misdemeanor weapons charge. At this scheduled court appearance, Pippin was sentenced to 50 days in the Wise County Jail. When interviewed about the case, Pippin admitted to causing the fire and to writing the death threat. He remains jailed.

18-WHEELERS COLLIDE – A northbound 18-wheeler T-boned another 18-wheeler in front of the Comfort Inn on U.S. 287 North in Decatur just after 10 last night. The entire northbound lane was temporarily shut down. One of the 18-wheelers was attempting to turn into the hotel and was stretched across both northbound lanes when the second one rammed into the middle of the turning tractor-trailer. One of the drivers was transported to Wise Regional with a neck injury.

4-H MEETING – Slidell 4-H meets at 6:30 tonight at the high school library.

ALZHEIMER’S SUPPORT GROUP – The monthly support group for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or related dementia is 7 tonight at the Wise Regional Health System West Campus board room. For more information, call Angie at (940) 627-6888.

PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST – Deadline to submit entries for the 2012 Coal Miners’ Heritage Festival Photography Contest sponsored by the Bridgeport Cultural Arts Board is 5 p.m. today to Jesica at Bridgeport City Hall (900 Thompson St.). Categories include youth color, youth black and white, adult color and adult black and white. Entry fee is $10 per photo, and cash prizes will be awarded based on judge’s rankings and viewer’s choice. For more information, call (940) 683-3402.

GOLF TOURNAMENT – The Bridgeport High School Class of 2013 Project Graduation is having a golf tournament Saturday at The Club at Runaway Bay. Registration is at 8 a.m., and play begins at 10. To enter a team or be a sponsor, call Alice at (940) 575-2225 or Stacey at (940) 389-7226.

GARAGE SALE – A fundraiser garage sale benefiting the Walk to Defeat ALS is tomorrow and Saturday at 243 CR 1180 (three miles north of Decatur on U.S. 287). The walk is Saturday, Nov. 10, at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

CRUISE NIGHTS – Decatur Main Street’s Cruise Nights on the Courthouse Square is Saturday. Registration for the last show of the season is $10 per vehicle and runs 4 to 7 p.m. Judging begins at 7, and awards will be presented in 20 classes at 8 p.m. Downtown merchants and restaurants will stay open late. Call (940) 627-6158 for more information.

PHOTO FUNDRAISER – The Stadium Fundraiser for the Decatur Bands Booster Club is Friday night. A pilot for Aerial Outfitters will fly over Eagle Stadium at halftime and the third quarter, weather permitting, to photograph the stadium, and the photos will be sold to benefit the Decatur Bands Boosters. Fans are asked to wear blue. Photos will be on sale at the next home game for $10 each.

REPUBLICANS TO MEET – The next joint meeting of the Wise County Republican Party and the Wise Republican Women is 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, in the 271st District Courtroom, on the second floor of the Wise County Courthouse on the Square in Decatur. Keitha Story-Stephenson will speak on “The Power of One Vote.”

HEALTH FAIR – The Weatherford College Wise County campus will host a health fair 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Oct. 17. If you are interested in having a booth, call Andrea Stephens with AHEC at (940) 626-3283. This event will be free to the public, and multiple screenings will be available.

DECATUR HOMECOMING – The Decatur Homecoming parade will be Friday, Oct. 19, through the downtown area. The parade will begin at 2:30 p.m. with a pep rally at 3 p.m. at Eagle Stadium. Entry forms are found on the Decatur High School website. Community members and organizations can participate. Entry deadline is Oct. 12. For more information, call the high school at (940) 393-7200.

TRADE DAYS – Wise County Cowboy Church’s Trade Days is 8 a.m. Saturday at 2070 Old Denton Road. Proceeds benefit the youth camp fund.

FALL FESTIVAL – A Fall Festival/Craft Show is Nov. 10 at Trinity Baptist Church in Boyd. Booths are available for $25. Call Brenda Phillips at (817) 808 7629 for information.

SCAM ALERT – The Messenger has received reports that a solicitor is claiming to be selling ad space on a poster, or magnetic poster, on behalf of the Decatur Police Department and Wise County Messenger. This has not been authorized. It is a scam.

FUNERALS – Service for Hester Lorene Williams, 92, of Greenwood is 2 p.m. today at Greenwood Baptist Church with burial at Greenwood Cemetery. Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur is handling arrangements.

MEMORIAL service for Elaine Verhaagen, 69, of Alvord is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Burleson Memorial Cemetery in Burleson. Coker-Hawkins is handling arrangements.