Month in Review: June 2018

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, July 7, 2018

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Whitis stays after long meetings

After spending 10 hours behind closed doors in two meetings, Decatur ISD trustees voted 4-3 June 18 to keep superintendent Judi Whitis on the job.

The board met for seven hours in closed session June 4-5 to discuss Whitis’ contract, which was extended in February after a review by the board. The board met again for three hours June 18 before Board Secretary Cheri Boyd read a statement, expressing the majority of the board wanted to move forward with Dr. Whitis. School Board President Wade Watson, Vice President Matt Joiner and trustee Marsha Hafer cast dissenting votes.

The discussion of Whitis’ contract followed Watson sending her a two-page letter in the last week of May, which stated that board members had received communications from multiple individuals who feel the district is moving in a negative direction. It alleged personnel felt hesitant to share their concerns with Whitis, fearing retaliation; individuals leaving the district expressed demoralizing and unprofessional treatment; and individuals felt one internal individual was providing counsel not in Whitis’ best interest or the best interest of the district.

Armstrong sentenced to 50 years

David Armstrong, 32, of Bridgeport, who was involved in a high-speed chase through Decatur, which resulted in a wreck that seriously injured two officers, was sentenced to 50 years in prison June 6 in 271st District Court.

A Wise County jury found Armstrong guilty of evading arrest or detention with a vehicle. District Judge Brock Smith then heard evidence in the punishment phase of the trial before sentencing Armstrong to 50 years in prison.

Armstrong led officers in the chase on U.S. 81/287 and into a residential Decatur neighborhood Dec. 8, 2016. Two Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Mike Neagle and James Mayo, were seriously injured in a crash during the pursuit.

Child dies in rollover

Emalie Gamez, 13, died in a single vehicle rollover on U.S. 287/81 approximately two miles north of Decatur June 20.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel said a 2012 Nissan Armada was traveling south on U.S. 287/81 when the driver veered into the center median. The driver over-corrected, crossed both southbound lanes and struck a culvert before flipping. The driver, 32-year-old Sergio Mercado Martinez, of Wichita Falls, and an adult passenger, 34-year-old Adriana Gamez, were transported to Wise Health System with non-life threatening injuries. Another adult passenger, 26-year old Vintalino Mercado, was airlifted to Medical City Denton with serious injuries. Nine-year-old Ricardo Gamez was transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Man arrested for aggravated kidnapping

Valentin Talamantes, 44, of Alvord was arrested June 21 and charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated assault of a date/family/household member with a weapon along with two drug charges. On June 27, Talamantes was charged with another count of aggravated assault of a date/family/household member with a weapon, sexual assault and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Talamantes remains in the Wise County Jail. The Department of Homeland Security has also issued an immigration hold on Talamantes as a possible undocumented immigrant.


$287 million budget approved by Northwest ISD trustees June 25.

0.31 of an inch of rain in Decatur for the month of June. The lowest recorded rainfall for June, according to weather watcher Doyle Green’s records dating back to 1974.

$5.84 million loan approved by the Texas Water Development Board for water projects in the city of Boyd.

64,465 people in Wise County according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimate.

6,118 signatures gathered by Wise Citizens for Property Rights to get Tier 2 designation of the county, which would not allow involuntary annexation by cities, on the November ballot.


“They’ve been fighting fires for three to four hours, giving everything they have. And they see the Whataburger and they thank me. They’re the heroes, putting their lives on the line to save people’s homes.”
Melvin Castleberry, head of Wise County’s American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, on helping firefighters during disasters.

“[Friday] when I got up there I told them, ‘Guys, I’ve got this club in my bag. It kind of curved around the trees and hit on the green and started rolling towards the hole looking like it might go in, and it dang sure did. I think everybody on the course heard us.”
Kris Handlon on making a hole-in-one on his first shot during Decatur Chamber of Commerce’s Father’s Day Tournament.

“It’s taken a toll on everyone. But sometimes it takes this to make us better and put us on the right path to better things ahead.”
Decatur Superintendent Judi Whitis after trustees met for 10 hours in closed session in two meetings and voted 4-3 to keep her in her job.

“Nobody knows Ruben. The courtrooms don’t know Ruben. That’s why I have his picture. He came from a large family. We’re just wanting to see justice. I feel like I have my right to see that face to face.”
Maria Garza on attending the arraignment of Johnny Ray Armstrong June 2. Armstrong is accused of murdering her son Ruben Dunlap. Garza expressed disappointment that Armstrong was not in the courtroom for the arraignment but was connected to the court via video conferencing.

“We were going through the pasture one day, and I was driving and Rufus Martin, the fire chief, was on the running board. I said, ‘Rufus something’s about to fly apart on this thing,’ and he said, ‘Just go as long as you can go.’ We went about 100 yards and that was it. It let loose.”
Paul Wood, who was recently honored for his 50 years of service to the Boonsville/Balsora Volunteer Fire Department, recalling driving the department’s first truck, a 1953 International.

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