PARADISE ISD VOTES TO ARM STAFF – Paradise ISD trustees Monday unanimously approved a plan that will allow certain employees to carry guns on school campuses. Trustees met in closed session for 48 minutes before briefly reconvening. Paradise Superintendent Paul Uttley said trustees have talked about arming staff since he arrived in March. “There are some safety concerns with what has happened with recent events,” Uttley said. “[Trustees] have heard from constituents asking if we were going to start a program. We took a very slow and methodical approach. It’s not something we take lightly. It’s something we feel is out of necessity. If you had asked me 25 years ago if I would be talking about guns in the school district, I would have said ‘no way.’ Society has changed.” Trustees then adopted the Defender Program, which outlines how a staff member can get approved to carry a firearm. Paradise is the third district in Wise County to arm staff. Alvord ISD voted to arm teachers in April, while Chico ISD voted to arm its staff in June.
COUNTY OFFICIAL FIRED – Wise County Public Works Director Keith Stone was fired Monday for nepotism. County commissioners voted for his removal following a closed door session at the end of their regular meeting. According to a statement read by commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg, it was discovered Aug. 20 through the human resources department that Stone had hired his son-in-law to a position in the public works department. “As most of you know, nepotism is prohibited by local government officials that have the final hiring and firing authority in their department,” Aaberg read. “When committed, it requires removal of the official’s position. Therefore, unfortunately and regrettably, Keith Stone will have to be removed as head of public works.” Stone was hired in January 2018 to replace Tom Goode, who was retiring. Public Works Foreman Ross Jones will manage the day-to-day business of the department until the position is filled. Read more in this week’s All Around Wise.
FIERY CRASH SNARLS 81/287 – A passenger car and FedEx tractor trailer collided on U.S. 81/287 in a fiery accident early Tuesday morning that snarled northbound traffic near the Wise-Montague county line for hours. The occupants of both vehicles escaped without injury. The accident occurred shortly before 5 a.m. just south of County Road 1793. A northbound passenger car driven by Christopher Buergin, 44, of Euless left the roadway and drove into the median before reentering the road and striking the FedEx truck driven by Douglas Powell, 57, of Childress, according to Department of Public Safety Trooper Bryan Keith. He said speed was likely a factor. The passenger car came to rest in the median and caught fire. The tractor trailer traveled several hundred feet before coming to rest on fire on the shoulder. Both vehicles were fully involved when firefighters arrived. Alvord, Sunset and Decatur firefighters worked the blaze. The entire cab and most of the trailer of the truck was consumed by fire. The entire northbound lane was closed. Traffic backed up for several miles to near County Road 1596.
DECATUR ISD PASSES BUDGET – Decatur ISD trustees approved a $39.599 million budget Monday night that includes $31.050 million in the maintenance and operations expenses. The district has $17.575 million budgeted for instruction after adding 20 jobs – 10 teachers, five administrators and five instructional aides – and giving teachers, librarians and nurses a raise of $1,775. The starting teacher salary is set at $47,000. All other employees will receive a 3 percent of the midpoint increase. The district will also pay $366 per month for employee health insurance. Decatur ISD’s debt service payment will be $5.711 million. Trustees approved a tax rate of $1.305 per $100 valuation to pay for the budget. The rate dropped 3.5 cents with the district lowering the debt service rate to 26.5 cents.
DECATUR ISD HIRES ATTORNEY – Decatur ISD trustees hired Underwood Law Firm of Fort Worth to represent the district for a pending Level III grievance filed by an employee. Citing that it is a personnel issue, Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis would not elaborate on the pending grievance.
BOYD ISD OKS BUDGET – Boyd ISD trustees approved a $14.483 million spending plan for the 2018-19 school year Monday. The budget includes $12.445 million for maintenance and operations, $653,261 for food service and $1.384 million for debt service. The district is adding several jobs, including a middle school counselor and assistant principal. The district’s tax rate is 5.5 cents lower at $1.255 per $100 of valuation. The maintenance and operations rate is $1.04 and the debt service rate dropped to 21.5 cents. The district’s total revenue is projected to be up more than $1 million with increased property values and enrollment.
VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE – All Wise County volleyball teams will be in action Tuesday night. Decatur, ranked No. 3 in the newest TGCA 4A poll, heads to Boswell. Northwest travels to Richland. Bridgeport welcomes in Peaster. Paradise heads to Haltom City. Boyd will go to neighboring Azle. Alvord plays host to Petrolia. Chico battles S&S at home.
MOSQUITO FOGGING – The City of Decatur will conduct city-wide mosquito fogging tonight, weather permitting. The fogging will begin at 8 p.m. The pesticide being used is Masterline Kontrol 4-4. Residents are encouraged to stay indoors during the fogging process. Call the city at 940-393-0260 for more information.
LOOK FOR ‘CONNECT’ – The fall issue of the Wise County Messenger’s new local lifestyle magazine, Connect, is featured in this weekend’s paper on newsstands now. You can also pick up Connect at various locations around the county.
FUNERALS – Service for Mary Nell Heaton, 91, of Alvord is 11 a.m. today at Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur with burial at Alvord Cemetery.
MEMORIAL service for Betty Doyle, 64, of Bridgeport is 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Hawkins-Decatur.
SERVICE for Susan Ray, 63, of Runaway Bay will be held at a later date. Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.
SERVICE for Jerry A. Doss, 79, of Fort Worth is pending at Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd.