1 dead in rollover wreck


One person died after a rollover wreck on U.S. 81/287 north of Decatur Wednesday afternoon. The accident occurred around 3:15 p.m.

Officials on scene said six people were in the vehicle. Two were taken to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth. One was airlifted to Medical City Denton.

This post will be updated as more details become available.

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Whitis stays on as Decatur superintendent


Dr. Judi Whitis is staying the superintendent at Decatur ISD.
With a 4-3 vote after three hours in closed session, Decatur ISD trustees elected to keep Whitis on the job and move forward Monday night.
Whitis joined the district in July 2017. Her contract with the district runs through July 30, 2021, paying her $158,000 annually.
“I appreciate the board’s willingness to move forward, and I’m looking forward to great things in the district,” Whitis said. “I’m ready to get back to district business and deliver on the promises we’ve made. I appreciate all the community support. We’ve got rebuilding to do.”
Monday’s long closed session was the second within a span of two weeks to discuss Whitis’ contract, which was extended in February after a review by the board. Trustees met for seven hours June 4-5 in closed session a week after School Board President Watson sent Whitis a two-page letter detailing “multiple concerns [that] have been brought to the attention of several [board] members recently.”
Board secretary Cheri Boyd read the following statement prior to the vote Monday: “The Decatur Independent School District’s Board of Trustees met tonight in executive session to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation. The board recognizes that concerns have been raised by some about the superintendent, and board members have also received statements of support for Dr. Whitis. After considering what is in the best interest of Decatur ISD, the majority of the board has expressed its willingness to move forward with Dr. Whitis as our superintendent. Dr. Whitis will work with the board and district stakeholders to address these concerns. Communication is always key to success of any relationship, and we, as a board, pledge to work on communication with the superintendent. The board appreciates the community’s strong partnership with DISD, and we are ‘expecting the best’ in the days to come.”
Boyd said after the meeting that it’s been a long two weeks.
“The majority feel this was the best possible decision. I look forward to moving on and working with her as our superintendent,” Boyd said.
Watson along with vice president Matt Joiner and trustee Marsha Hafer cast the dissenting votes.
“Information was brought to the board, and the majority of the board felt it was in the best interest of the district to continue with Dr. Whitis as the superintendent,” Watson said. “The majority of the board felt that way. That’s why there’s seven of us.”
Watson’s letter sent to Whitis in the last week of May 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.
Whitis said following Monday’s vote she will address the concerns.
“It’s something we need to work through,” she said. “I’ll do my due diligence to work through those and work with the board to determine the next steps.
“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.”
Nearly 70 people turned out for the board meeting with many hanging around for the board to emerge from its close session around 10:20 p.m.
Three people spoke during the open forum at the start of the meeting. Mark Southard and Robin Lewis both voiced support for Whitis.
“Dr. Whitis should be applauded for raising the level of accountability in our district,” Southard said.
“She deserves the chance to make changes and see the impact of those changes…I have complete confidence that last summer you hired the exactly the right person for the job. Give her support, give her some time and let her do her job.”
Lewis said Whitis “expects the best and holds her staff to a higher standard.”
“We want the best and will get there with Dr. Whitis leading us,” she said.
Recently retired Carson teacher Becky Liles voiced concern about the recent departure of Carson Principal LeeAnn Farris. Liles read part of her resignation letter.
Trustees met with attorney Paige Kyle of Walsh Gallegos, the district’s regular counsel, during closed session. The board also called back Whitis for a brief meeting.

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5 transported from wreck on FM 407


Five people were transported to area hospitals from a three-vehicle accident on Farm Road 407 just east of the BNSF railroad tracks near the Dollar General in New Fairview Thursday morning.
Department of Public Safety Trooper David Marcoux said an eastbound silver Ford pickup driven by Tyler Raby, 21, of Bridgeport struck a red Ford driven by Joshua Gomez, 27, of Decatur, which had slowed for traffic, from behind and forced it into the westbound lane. Gomez’ truck was then hit by a westbound SUV driven by Daisy Gonzalez, 27, of Rhome.
Gonzalez and a child passenger were transported to Wise Health System in Decatur. Two other children that were passengers in the vehicle were transported by ambulance to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. All the children were under 10 years of age.
Gomez was transported to Medical City Denton.
Raby was uninjured.
Marcoux said none of the injuries were life threatening.
Raby was cited for failure to control speed. Gomez received a citation for no driver’s license.
The accident closed FM 407 for much of the morning. Traffic was diverted onto Pioneer Road and FM 2264.

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Standoff ends after 5 hours


A five-hour standoff between a Decatur man and police ended peacefully just after noon Friday morning.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said officers were called to a home in the 400 block of South Holman Street around 7 a.m. The officers were contacted by the girlfriend of the homeowner, Mark Calvert, 52. She said she’d broken up with Calvert that morning, and he’d threatened to kill himself.

Officers first spoke to Calvert through the door and became concerned when he refused to open the door and speak with them.

“From our standpoint, he had weapons in there and wanted to hurt himself, so we secured the area,” Hoskins said.

Neighbors were evacuated and the street was blocked off. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office brought in their SWAT team and negotiators around 9 a.m. Hoskins said the negotiators talked with Calvert via cell phone and were able to persuade him to leave the house around 12:15 p.m.

“He’s being taken to Wise Health for a psych evaluation,” Hoskins said. “That psych evaluation will determine whether there will be criminal charges.”

Hoskins said the police will interview Calvert’s girlfriend to determine whether he threatened her in the course of their breakup. If he did, Hoskins said Calvert may be charged with deadly conduct or family violence.

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Armstrong sentenced to 50 years for evading arrest


A Wise County jury Wednesday morning found David Armstrong, 32, of Bridgeport guilty of evading arrest or detention with a vehicle. District Judge Brock Smith then heard evidence in the punishment phase of the trial and sentenced Armstrong to 50 years in prison Wednesday afternoon. Due to prior felony convictions, Armstrong faced a punishment range of  25 years to life in prison. Smith did find that the vehicle Armstrong was driving during the offense was used as a deadly weapon, meaning he must serve at least half of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. The jury deliberated less than five minutes before returning their guilty verdict. Armstrong led officers on a high speed chase on U.S. 81/287 and into a residential neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2016. Two Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators, Mike Neagle and James Mayo, were seriously injured in a crash during the pursuit. Both gave emotional testimony about the crash during the punishment phase of the trial. This is Armstrong’s ninth felony conviction.

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DISD trustees take no action on superintendent contract


After spending seven hours behind closed doors, Decatur ISD trustees took no action on the contract of superintendent Judi Whitis.
School Board President Wade Watson made the announcement at 1:15 a.m. after trustees left their private chambers.
Watson released the following statement on the matter: “The board received a great deal of information and input during our meeting this evening. This material should be carefully considered prior to taking any formal action on the item reflected on tonight’s agenda. In an effort to make decisions in the best interest of all parties involved, we ask that the community and district stakeholders afford us time to consider all of the data brought to our attention prior to revisiting this matter at a later meeting.”
Trustees are scheduled to meet again June 18. Watson said no special meetings are planned. He also said he could not say more than his statement at this time.
With no action, there is no change to Whitis’ employment with the district. No light was shed on what prompted the meeting.
Trustees met with attorneys while in closed session for approximately 30 minutes and then continued discussions for several more hours.
Whitis arrived in Decatur in July 2017 to replace the retiring Rod Townsend. She previously served as the superintendent at Valley Mills ISD. She also had a tenure as the superintendent at Fort Davis.
In February, trustees gave a unanimous approval of her performance. Trustees added a year to Whitis’ contract that will run through July 30, 2021, and gave her a $3,000 raise. With the raise effective March 1, her annual salary is $158,000.

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Three transported from wreck near Boonsville


Two men and a child were transported by ambulance from a two-vehicle, head-on collision on Farm Road 920 at County Road 3852 Saturday afternoon south of Boonsville.
A Ford pickup truck driven by Ricky Pressley, 41, of Poolville, was traveling northbound on FM 920 and attempted to turn left onto CR 3852 shortly after 2:30 p.m.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Robert Carson said Pressley failed to yield the right of way to a southbound Ford Ranger driven by Charlie Hanks, 22, and was struck. Hank’s truck rolled over and came to rest in the ditch.
Hanks suffered lacerations to his head and arm. An 18-month girl in a car seat suffered minor injuries.
Pressley suffered a wrist injury.
All were taken to Wise Health System in Decatur.
FM 920 was shut down in both directions until shortly after 4 p.m. Traffic was diverted onto CR 3852.

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Fatal wreck victims identified as father and son


Crash investigators have released the names of the father and son killed in a Thursday crash on Texas 114 near Bridgeport. Bobby Slaughter, 43, and his son, Bobby Slaughter Jr., 15, of Bridgeport were killed when the Chevrolet pickup they were in crossed the center line and struck a Dodge pickup driven by Moises Pina, 61, of Fort Worth. The Slaughters both died at the scene while Pina was taken to Wise Health System in Decatur. The wreck happened at the Trinity River bridge just east of the Bridgeport city limits Thursday around 7:45 p.m.  A memorial service for both Slaughters is 2 p.m. Friday, June 8, at the Unified Body of Christ in Paradise. Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

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DISD trustees to discuss superintendent’s contract


Decatur ISD trustees have called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday to evaluate the performance and discuss the contract of superintendent Judi Whitis.
The meeting was posted Friday afternoon with the items under closed session — superintendent goals, objectives and duties; superintendent performance and evaluation; and superintendent contract.
The lone item listed after executive session is “consider action regarding the superintendent’s contract including but not limited to any necessary administrative action by the board.”
Decatur ISD School Board President Wade Watson confirmed that along with goals and objectives, action regarding the superintendent’s contract would be discussed.
He said a statement would be given after the meeting.
The meeting was set for Tuesday to ensure all board members could attend.
Whitis arrived in Decatur in July 2017 to replace the retiring Rod Townsend. She previously served as the superintendent at Valley Mills ISD. She also had a tenure as the superintendent at Fort Davis.
In February, trustees gave a unanimous approval of her performance. Trustees added a year to Whitis’ contract that will run through July 30, 2021, and gave her a $3,000 raise. With the raise effective March 1, her annual salary is $158,000.

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2 major wrecks shut down Texas 114


A DPS trooper looks over one of the two pickup trucks involved in a wreck near Bridgeport Thursday. The occupants of the second vehicle, not pictured, were killed. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two unrelated wrecks, including one that killed two people, had Texas 114 shut down in two places between Bridgeport and Paradise Thursday evening. The first wreck happened around 7:40 p.m. when two pickups were involved in a head-on collision on Texas 114 at the Trinity River bridge just outside the Bridgeport city limits. Two people in one of the vehicles were killed. The condition of the second driver was unknown. No other information was immediately available. The second wreck happened around 8:30 p.m. within a couple of miles east of the first wreck on Texas 114 near County Road 3332. Multiple children were injured in that wreck. One child was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and at least two other children were transported by ground ambulance to the same hospital. More information on both wrecks will be posted when it is available.

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Schools encouraged by Abbott’s school security plans


Superintendents at multiple Wise County school districts were encouraged by the security plan announced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott Wednesday.
Abbott’s plan included proposals for increasing law enforcement presence at schools, strengthening school security and providing mental health evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others. Abbott also suggested a “red flag law” that would allow law enforcement, family members, school employees or a district attorney to file a petition seeking the removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person.
“The plan is a starting point, not an ending place,” Abbott said in a press release with his 40 recommendations and proposals. “It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school. This plan will make our schools safer and our communities safer.”
Abbott held a series of discussions last week with victims from multiple mass shootings in Texas along with parents, educators, lawmakers and law enforcement. The roundtable and subsequent proposals followed the shooting at Santa Fe High School earlier this month that left 10 people dead and 10 others injured.
Since the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., several local districts have looked at enhancing security at its campuses.
“It is encouraging. Some of the things discussed by the governor are some of the discussions we’re having here on a local level,” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West. “It’s more of a proactive approach with the additional counseling. It’s encouraging to see everyone on the same page.”
Abbott’s proposals were divided into four areas. The first was to provide immediate aid to Santa Fe with counselors and mental health providers to work with victims and first responders.
The second area was making schools safer. He called on districts to work with law enforcement for heightened police presence at the schools. He proposed increasing the number of school marshals that can be appointed per school and providing adding funding for training for the marshals. Abbott also wants to see active shooter and emergency response training and infrastructure improvements to prevent security threats. He said $62.1 million in federal funding will be available for safety improvements, law enforcement patrols and the implementation of mental health programs.
“Any time the state is looking to add funding is a good thing,” said Paradise ISD Superintendent Paul Uttley. “The fact that the governor is discussing how to protect our kids is fantastic. Whether every single aspect of that plan works, well, we’ll see how it plays out. But six months ago or a year ago we weren’t even having these conversations.”
The third area addressed is preventing threats in advance. Abbott called for increasing mental health resources, including evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others, providing school personnel with training on behavioral threat assessments, and giving students more access to counselors to help with mental and behavioral issues.
Abbott wants schools to expand the list of offenses for which students can be expelled or placed in a disciplinary alternative educational program and put in place a zero-tolerance policy for students committing assault.
He also put forth plans to expand the campus crime stoppers and increase the use of the Department of Public Safety’s “iWatch Texas” reporting system to enable and encourage parents, students and teachers to report suspicious activity on campus.
“The plans laid out are very comprehensive and consider a lot of aspects from counseling to mental health,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis. “To me, it’s a proactive approach and looking at preventative measures before a catastrophic event occurs. There are some new ideas. We’ve all talked about metal detectors and buildings. These new thoughts are not just about structures.”
The fourth area called for enhancing firearms safety with the possible “red flag law” and closing gaps in federally mandated background checks.
Whitis and others hope to see the legislature follow through with more funding for many of the governor’s suggestions.
Many districts are already enhancing buildings and security efforts. Decatur ISD added a second school resource officer (SRO) at the high school. Boyd ISD recently hired a SRO through the Boyd Police Department.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin approached Paradise, Alvord, Chico and Slidell about increasing security and adding an additional SRO.
Uttley said he appreciated Akin talking to the schools about safety and security earlier in the year, after the Parkland shooting in Florida.
“Wise County is fortunate to have Sheriff Akin, who recognized these issues and is working within the schools’ budgetary restrictions,” Uttley said. “He was being proactive about this before the governor.”
In a statement, Northwest ISD officials expressed appreciation for Abbott’s focus on school security and pointed out that the district committed $14 million to security enhancements from the 2017 bond package. The enhancements include improving the security of school entrances, upgrading classroom doors with an intruder safety function and enhancing security systems.
“Most of the dollars being spent to enhance safety in our school district mirror Governor Abbott’s call to ‘harden campus facilities,’” the statement said.

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Seven students transported from bus crash


Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Seven Justin Elementary students were transported to local hospitals from the scene of a school bus rollover on Farm Road 407 near Bill Cook Road Tuesday afternoon.
All the students were treated and released Tuesday night.
The single-vehicle accident occurred around 3:15 with the bus leaving the roadway and landing on its right side on the north side of FM 407, approximately six miles west of Justin in Denton County.
“Preliminary investigation indicates a school bus was traveling west on FM 407, when for an as yet undetermined reason, the vehicle’s right tires left the roadway,” said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel. “The driver overcorrected and the bus overturned coming to rest on its right side.”
The driver was treated at the scene and released.
According to Northwest ISD Executive Director of Communications Emily Conklin, 18 students were on the bus. The 11 students not transported to the hospital were taken back to Justin Elementary or released to parents.
Conklin did not know the extent of the injuries of the students.

Kierston Martz of Justin picks up her daughter from scene. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We always want to be cautious anytime there is an accident,” Conklin said. “We had EMS out here as soon as possible. They’ve been great to work with. They did transport [seven] students. We don’t know the extent of the injuries. We hope to hear very soon. We’ve been in contact with their families.”
Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren thanked first responders for helping at the scene.
“We are truly appreciative for them getting out here so fast and getting the scene under control,” Warren said.
Justin Elementary has students in kindergarten through fifth grade from Justin, New Fairview and East Wise. Northwest ISD is in its final week of class for the school year.
The bus was from Durham Transportation. The district decided in February to move from Durham to contracting with Reliant for bus service starting in the fall. The district has been with Durham since 2001.

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Seven students transported from bus accident


Seven Justin Elementary students were transported to local hospitals from the scene of a school bus rollover on Farm Road 407 near Bill Cook Road Tuesday afternoon.
The single-vehicle accident occurred around 3:15 with the bus leaving the roadway and landing on its right side on the north side of FM 407, approximately six miles west of Justin in Denton County.
“Preliminary investigation indicates a school bus was traveling west on FM 407, when for an as yet undetermined reason, the vehicle’s right tires left the roadway,” said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel. “The driver overcorrected and the bus overturned coming to rest on its right side.”
The driver was treated at the scene and released.
According to Northwest ISD Executive Director of Communications Emily Conklin, 18 students were on the bus. The 11 students not transported to the hospital were taken back to Justin Elementary or released to parents.
Conklin did not know the extent of the injuries of the students.

Kierston Martz of Justin picks up her daughter from scene.

“We always want to be cautious anytime there is an accident,” Conklin said. “We had EMS out here as soon as possible. They’ve been great to work with. They did transport [seven] students. We don’t know the extent of the injuries. We hope to hear very soon. We’ve been in contact with their families.”
Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren thanked first responders for helping at the scene.
“We are truly appreciative for them getting out here so fast and getting the scene under control,” Warren said.
Justin Elementary has students in kindergarten through fifth grade from Justin, New Fairview and East Wise. Northwest ISD is in its final week of class for the school year.
The bus was from Durham Transportation. The district decided in February to move from Durham to contracting with Reliant for bus service starting in the fall. The district has been with Durham since 2001.

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Redman, Garrett, Applewhite win


The results of today’s Wise County Republican primary runoff are as follows:

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace: Kim Redman, 452; Callie Manning, 428

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace: Willie Garrett, 572; Todd Bailey, 434

Precinct 3 Constable: Charles Applewhite, 300; Terry Terry 118

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Boyd business catches fire


Several Wise County fire departments were called to Bob King’s Truck Beds outside Boyd around 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Two metal buildings were on fire with initial 911 calls reporting flames shooting through the roof and explosions. The fire was reported under control just before 4:30 a.m.
Departments called to the scene included Boyd, Paradise, Cottondale, Rhome, Newark and Decatur.
King’s is at 1167 E. Highway 114. More information will be posted as it’s available.

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O’Meara named Weatherford College Wise County dean


Dr. Daniel O’Meara

Dr. Daniel O’Meara has been named as the new dean at Weatherford College Wise County, the college announced Thursday. O’Meara will relocate to Wise County from Hastings, Neb., where he serves as the associate dean of instruction – academic education at Central Community College. His higher education career also includes work at Arkansas State University, Cochise College and Pima Community College. He completed his associate’s degree in his late 20s at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz., before earning additional degrees at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he completed his doctorate degree in education in 2012.  Former Dean, Dr. Matt Joiner, left the college a year ago to pursue a career with the Region 11 Education Service Center in Fort Worth. Becki Byrd has served as interim WCWC dean during the search. O’Meara will report for duty June 4.

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1 flown from wreck in Decatur


A Toyota Sequoia collided head-on with a Chevrolet truck on Business U.S. 380 in Decatur around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Decatur officer Royce Gastineau said the driver of the Toyota was traveling westbound and crossed into the eastbound lane of traffic, striking the Chevrolet. Gastineau said eye-witnesses stated the driver of the Toyota was speeding and swerving moments before the wreck.

The driver of the Toyota was flown by PHI to Medical City Denton. The driver of the Chevrolet was transported to a local hospital.

There were no passengers in either vehicle.

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1 dead after head-on collision north of Decatur


One person died after an 18-wheeler collided with a Chevrolet Impala on Farm Road 51 north of Decatur Wednesday around 1:30 p.m.

James Pollard, 55, of Chico, was the driver of the 18-wheeler. He did not sustain any life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Chevrolet died on scene and has not been identified.

Pollard said he was driving south on FM 51 when the driver of the Chevrolet swerved into his lane, resulting in the head-on crash.

“I thought I was going to end up dying,” Pollard said. “All of a sudden that [car] cut right into me.”

Cody Morrison was traveling behind Pollard and witnessed the crash.

“[Pollard] was on his side of the road doing exactly what he was supposed to,” Morrison said. “Everything was good and then all of a sudden that white car shot across. I don’t know [what happened]. Stuff went everywhere.”

Department of Public Safety troopers were on scene of the the accident. FM 51 was shut down in both directions following the wreck.

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May 5 General Election Results


The unofficial results of the May 5 local elections are in. The results are as follows:

ALVORD ISD SCHOOL BOND
For 104
Against 199
ALVORD ISD PLACE 1
Jimmy Looney 151
Russell Rice 134
CITY OF BOYD MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT
For 47
Against 42
BRIDGEPORT MAYOR
Randy Singleton 189
Tim Kirkland 14
BRIDGEPORT CITY COUNCIL PLACE 1
Kathy Kennedy 121
Debra Workman 69
BRIDGEPORT BINGO
For 166
Against 31
DECATUR CITY COUNCIL PLACE 5
Jay Davidson 91
Cecil (Buster) Chandler 35
DECATUR BINGO
For 111
Against 25
NEWARK MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT IN ETJ
For 6
Against 149
NEWARK CITY COUNCIL PLACE 1
Sean Phillips 53
Michael S. Murray 51
NEWARK CITY COUNCIL PLACE 2
Taylor Burton 55
Shawn M. Glover 51
NEWARK CITY COUNCIL PLACE 3
Brad Reid 57
Christ Raines 49
NORTHWEST ISD PLACE 7 UNEXPIRED TERM 
Matt Hirst 312
Joy Harrison 605
Stephen Janis 192
Ron Hastings 617
RHOME MAYOR
Michelle Pittman 145
Jo Ann Wilson 94
RHOME CITY COUNCIL PLACE 2
Kenny Crenshaw 135
Fabiola Valdez 102
RHOME CITY COUNCIL PLACE 3
Elaine Priest 120
Josh McCabe 107
RHOME CITY COUNCIL PLACE 4
Sam Eason 128
David Gilbert 108
RHOME CITY COUNCIL PLACE 5
Leeanne Mackowski 134
Ronnie Moore 102
RUNAWAY BAY MAYOR
Jannie Tucknies 19
Berry White 164
Jamie Griffeth 70
John W. Boyd 154
RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL TWO AT-LARGE SEATS
Janice Sivley 185
Christopher Petty 167
Laura Lee Blackburn 272
WISE COUNTY ESD NO. 1 TAX RATE INCREASE
For 112
Against 137
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Boyd council OKs water rate increases


Boyd residents will see a water rate increase this summer.
The Boyd City Council Tuesday approved a 10 percent increase to residential and commercial water rates and 50 percent hike to commercial sewer rates after a second public hearing.
The rate increases will raise the average residential water bill for a homeowner using 4,500 gallons $4.60 to $51.10. With the average sewer bill remaining the same at $33.20, the average monthly total residential water/wastewater bill will be $84.30.
The average commercial customer consuming 12,000 gallons of water will see a $14 increase to $153.60. The commercial sewer bill will increase $26 to $78. The average monthly commercial water/wastewater bill will be $217.60.
The increases will go into effect in six to eight weeks.
According to a report last month by Belcheff and Associates engineer Roman Boitsov, the water/wastewater department had a $43,101 deficit in the 2016-17 fiscal year and is projected to have a $37,266 shortfall this year. With the increases, the department would have a $33,157 surplus in 2018-19.
“We hate to have to do that, but inflation goes up every year and our water cost us more every year. We have to do something,” said Mayor Rodney Holmes. “We can’t continue to supplement it with ad valorum taxes and take money out of parks, streets and the police department to pay for water and sewer. Our infrastructure is in such bad shape and that’s the reason we’ve been working on our capital improvement plan and are going to implement phase one. We’ve worked hard on that over the last two years. I’m very proud of our staff for getting that done.”
The city recently received preliminary approval for a $5.8 million loan from the Texas Water Development Board. It is expected to receive official approval in June. The loan will allow the city address a series of water infrastructure needs, laying 9,000 feet of water line, eliminating choke points in the current system, equalizing pressure, providing 1.5 million gallons of storage, digging two wells, putting in multiple lift stations and purchasing easements.
The city supplements its water supply by purchasing water from Walnut Creek Special Utility District. The city’s cost for water purchases jumped from $92,347 in 2016 to $189,138 in 2017.
City officials said they billed customers approximately $24,000 last month and received a bill from Walnut Creek for $30,000.
“That’s $6,000 that has to come out of the bank and it’s $6,000 that we had budgeted for other things,” Holmes said.

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