NEWS HEADLINES

Past year had its share of weird-in-Wise stories

By Messenger Staff | Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Twins and bluebonnets, an out-of-state enchilada addict and innocuous nudists joined cats, dogs and snakes in the pages of the Messenger in 2012. This light-hearted review touches on a few of the quirkier stories that made news during the past year.

HOW’S THAT FOR RESPONSE TIME?

In January, Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson was explaining increased response times to the city council when his fire pager went off. When the address was announced, it sounded like then-Mayor Joe Lambert’s home.

After the mayor phoned home and his wife confirmed that their chimney was on fire, Richardson cut his report short.

Damage was confined to the chimney, and the mayor found the response time just fine.

Published Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

Firefighters still save the proverbial cat up a tree. But a pair of Decatur firefighters found themselves rescuing a dog from a tree last January.

Romeo, a one-year-old pug-Chihuahua mix, chased a squirrel up a tree and somehow managed to propel himself into the top branches.

Decatur firefighter Ryan Davis scrambled catlike up the tree to rescue the terrified Romeo, who remained still as a diminutive tan gargoyle perched on the edge of a cathedral. Davis broke away several thin branches so he could reach the trembling pup before handing him into the outreached arms of fellow firefighter Brandon McGar.

McGar was halfway up the tree himself, legs spread-eagled on a pair of stout branches as he grabbed the grateful pooch.

“We’ve gotten several cats out of trees, but never a dog,” McGar said.

Published Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BLUEBONNET BROUHAHA ERUPTS

MOWED DOWN – A decision to mow the bluebonnets at Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur caused a controversy in 2012. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The mowing of bluebonnets at Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur sparked controversy and heated debate last spring. The state flower had grown at the cemetery since 1975, but in March the Cemetery Board decided to mow the wildflowers before they went to seed, guaranteeing they would not return next year.

Board members said the decision was made due to maintenance issues. They had fielded complaints that the patches became unsightly with dead stalks and other weeds growing among them before they were usually mowed in June.

Citizens were outraged. They wrote letters to the Messenger, signed petitions and started a Facebook page protesting the decision.

In May, Dr. Charles Coconaugher came up with a solution. He offered to pay to have bluebonnets seeded in a 12-acre area of the cemetery that’s not yet in use, which was done in the fall. Come springtime, bluebonnets will bloom again.

Stories March 28 through May 16, 2012, column April 4, 2012

DOUBLE VISION AT ALVORD

Four sets of twins comprised 15 percent of this year’s graduating class of 52 at Alvord High School. Sister pairs Macy and Madi Lynch and Taylor and Lacey Nichols; and brother duos Jeremy and Jordan Lingle and Jesse and Clayton Brown had attended Alvord schools together since kindergarten.

“There’s always been four sets of twins,” Clayton said. “We didn’t ever know that to be unusual.”

In the fall, the Lynchs split – Macy parted to Texas A&M University in College Station to study physical therapy and Madi to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond for psychology – as did the Lingles – Jordan planned to attend massage school in Flower Mound and Jeremy was to go to Texas Tech University in Lubbock to study animal science or sports management.

Both Browns were to attend Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls – Jesse to study criminal justice and Clayton mechanical engineering – while the Nichols together enrolled in Tarleton State University in Stephenville – Taylor to study ag business management and Lacey, pre-vet.

Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CATASTROPHE – Katy Wacasey, 23, a member of the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department, struggles to free a female cat that somehow got her leg stuck in a guide line high up a telephone pole in Boyd last August. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

CAT ON A WIRE

Late last August, Rhome Volunteer Firefighter Katy Wacasey found herself one morning at the high end of a ladder trying to free an angry, injured cat who had managed to become entangled in telephone wire. It took almost an hour, but she finally rescued the uncooperative feline.

An orange female tabby dangled like a pair of sneakers tossed over the telephone line, 25 feet off the ground after the claws on one of her rear legs had become entwined in the metal guide wire.

Wacasey suffered several punctures and deep scratches to her hands while trying to pry the cat’s claws from the wire. After she was unable to free it, she cradled the cat in her arms so it wasn’t dangling, until Wise County medic Jacob Souder arrived with a spanner wrench, which he used to split apart the wires and free the feline.

After being taken to Wise County Animal Shelter, the cat was adopted quickly following a 10-day quarantine.

Published Saturday, September 1, 2012

BLAME IT ON THE SNAKE

On Sept. 6, a worker for an Oncor subcontractor was operating a skid-steer just off Old Decatur Road, at the site of a marker commemorating the 1837 Battle of the Knobs. The marker’s location happened to be in the middle of a 160-foot right-of-way where Oncor is beginning to install its Riley-to-Krum 345kV transmission line.

Oncor spokesperson Sabrina Easley said a snake crawled across the toes of the operator’s boots and startled him, causing him to clip the pole and knock the marker off of it. The marker, which was going to have to be moved anyway, was damaged.

After the marker was taken to the Wise County Historical Museum for safekeeping, Oncor had it repaired and reinstalled in a slightly different location, out of the way of the construction. A new marker has been ordered from the Texas Historical Commission and will be installed in a new, permanent location – out of the way of the utility construction.

Published Saturday, September 15, 2012

CASA SWEET CASA (TORRES, THAT IS)

Former Decatur resident Brad Ough flew in from Arizona and camped in a fish tent to ensure he was the first served at the reopening of Casa Torres in Decatur Sept. 12.

The family-owned and operated establishment served its last meal in its original locale July 28 before closing for 45 days as a larger, more modern facility was finished just one lot over and the original location was razed to enlarge the parking lot.

“This is as good as it gets,” Ough said. “To be eating something good and laughing and enjoying life. To me, that’s the ultimate joy. People spend so much money chasing happiness when it’s really the simple things in life that bring you the most joy – things like a plate of delicious enchiladas and great, treat-you-like-you’re-family service.”

Published Saturday, September 15, 2012

THE NAKED TRUTH ABOUT WISE COUNTY

In early September, the Wise County Messenger got word that our annual “Welcome to Wise” book was being pulled from the shelves at the Texas Visitors’ Centers in Amarillo, Wichita Falls and Gainesville. The reason? A small ad on page 163 from the Bluebonnet Nudist Park, along with a silhouette photo of a woman (fully clothed) running away from the camera, with a caption noting that the park holds an annual clothing-optional 5K run every fall.

When we called Austin to question the decision, we were told Texas Department of Transportation policy forbids the distribution of publications that contain “terminology, advertising or pictures that are adult or sexually-oriented or are otherwise not directly related to family-oriented travel or tourism.”

Happily, after we sent them copies of the entire book (they had just been faxed that page) and a letter requesting they review the definition of “adult or sexually-oriented business” they reversed the decision. Now visitors to Texas can learn the naked truth about the wonders of Wise County as they enter the state.

Column published Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012

BURGLARY-SHOOTING STORY FULL OF HOLES

A reported break-in and shooting in the New Fairview area in late September turned out to be full of holes. David Rigsbee, 22, called 911 and said he had surprised a pair of burglars when he came home, and they shot him in the left arm. Rigsbee described a black male and a Hispanic male who he said were in his house attempting to steal guns, and used one of them on him.

He was treated for a gunshot wound, but a few days later admitted it was self-inflicted. In fact, he said he shot himself, shot more holes in the walls and arranged the crime scene as investigators found it.

No word yet on whether the county ever filed charges in an effort to recover some of the resources expended on the investigation.

Published Saturday, September 29 and Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

EYES WIDE OPEN – A ring-tailed lemur from the African island nation of Madagascar enjoys a bit of fruit in the sun at the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport last February. It is one of five lemurs that now calls Wise County home. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

WISE COUNTY BY THE NUMBERS

4 – Wise County cowboys competed in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas

7 – Wise County PBR riders competed in the 2012 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas

10 – world PRCA All-Around championships won by Decatur’s Trevor Brazile

28.86 – total inches of rainfall, more than 10 inches below average

24 – number of traffic fatalities in Wise County during 2012

56 – Most marriages in one month (September)

293 – Wise County high school students took dual credit classes at WCWC in fall 2012, a 19 percent increase over the previous fall semester

429 – Number of deaths recorded at the County Clerk’s office as of Dec. 27

481 – Number of marriages recorded at the County Clerk’s office as of Dec. 27

559 – students enrolled at Weatherford College Wise County for fall 2012, a 22 percent increase over the previous fall semester

719 – Number of births recorded at the County Clerk’s office as of Dec. 27

1,288 – rushing yards by Bridgeport running back Gabe Huerta

1,600 – motorcycle riders in the Wise County Toy Run

6,598 – people “like” the Messenger Facebook page

7,560 – approximate number of miles run by the state champion Decatur boys cross country team, beginning with practices in June through the state meet Nov. 10

10,982 – people voted early in November’s general election

13,146 – voters cast straight-party ballots in November’s general election

21,074 – votes were cast in November’s general election

104,657 – dollars raised by Relay For Life of Wise County

196,375 – dollars raised at the March 24 fundraiser for Wise County fire departments

20,000,000 – Wise Regional Health System’s bid for the assets of North Texas Community Hospital

59,130,000 – dollar amount of the bonds used to build the Bridgeport hospital

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