Boyd OKs pre-development pact for 600-home addition

The near 600-home Springhill South development in Boyd took a significant step toward becoming a reality Tuesday night.
Boyd Mayor Rodney Holmes signed a pre-development agreement on the proposed addition on 160 acres along Cemetery Road after getting approval of the city council. Boyd City Administrator Greg Arrington said he has an email from developer Bob Shelton confirming his intent to sign off on the agreed terms.
One of the key terms in the agreement is the city annexing the development. When talks began in January, the development was looking to be in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The other terms in the pre-development agreement are the establishment of a $25,000 escrow account for professional fees, the development pursing a Public Improvement District (PID) rather than a Municipal Utility District (MUD) and the city zoning the area under a planned development agreement.
“They agreed to exactly what we asked them to do,” Holmes said.
Pointing to the $25,000 escrow account, Holmes said the city will be covered if the development does not happen, with profession fees being paid for by the developer. The city’s engineer Michael Anderson of Belcheff and Associates said professional fees will be deducted from the account and it would be replenished by the developer each month.
“I just want to make sure that any cost incurred on this development if it falls apart does not come out of the pockets of our citizens,” Holmes said. “That’s the reason for the escrow.”
Shelton had originally proposed to stay in the ETJ and build to the city’s regulations under the subdivision ordinance as he sought a MUD to build the infrastructure for the development. A MUD would levy taxes within the district to repay the developer for the infrastructure. In a PID, fixed assessments on properties in the development are used pay back the bonds rather than taxes.
Anderson said he is comfortable with Shelton and his team of engineers having seen them complete a project in Ponder with similar terms.
The council appointed Holmes, Arrington, Anderson, Police Chief Dwayne Taylor and Public Works Director Adam Lambert to a planned development committee to meet with Shelton’s engineers as plans are submitted. The advisory committee will report to the council.

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DHS to transition to closed campus lunch

Decatur High School students will have a closed campus for lunch next school year.
Decatur ISD trustees voted unanimously Monday night to close the campus starting with the 2018-19 school year after receiving an update from Superintendent Judi Whitis on dining options, facilities and scheduling.
Currently, sophomores, juniors and seniors are allowed to leave campus for lunch.
“This is a discussion that’s taken place for quite some time, and it’s based on the security and safety of students,” said Decatur School Board President Wade Watson.
The decision comes almost three weeks after a Decatur student was involved in a lunchtime accident on Hale Street that killed a man and injured a woman. The student was charged with manslaughter last week for running a stop sign and exceeding the speed limit.
“That’s certainly a factor in the decision. It’s time to do it,” Watson said.
Whitis went over options to increase the seating capacity in the cafeteria. The district may look at alternative seating in the future classroom addition or in a picnic area.
She also mentioned the school was looking at alternatives to the traditional lunch room, including a bistro area offering grab-and-go options for students throughout the day.
Whitis said the Director of Child Nutrition Shelly Laaser has been involved with planning food options.
The school will need to adjust scheduling with two or three lunch periods between 11:30 a.m. and 1:05 p.m.
Trustees will hold a May 7 workshop at the high school to look at facilities.
“Considering all aspects of student safety — kids are under our care before they come to school and throughout the school day ­— I think it’s very wise,” Whitis said about the change to a closed campus. “The other side of that is all the logistics we have to think about to effectively and efficiently make it happen.
“We want a smooth transition and want to make it appealing and provide healthy options to kids. It’s what we make it with variety and options we provide for kids.”
Trustee Rex Hoskins, who seconded the motion to close the campus, said it was time for the change.
“I wanted to make sure the kids had a place to eat and we could feed them.”

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2 injured in crash on 380

A Denton woman and her daughter were airlifted by medical helicopters to Fort Worth hospitals from a head-on accident on U.S. 380 at Bay Landing in Runaway Bay Sunday evening.
Stephanie Mayfield, 38, was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital by Lifeteam Air Evac. Mollie Mayfield, 12, was flown by PHI to Cook Children’s Hospital. Both suffered serious injuries.
The Mayfields were headed eastbound on U.S. 380 in a 2015 Toyota Camry when their vehicle was struck head on by a 2006 Dodge Ram driven by Will Reeves, 18, of Runaway Bay.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Chesley Womack said the driver of the Ram truck was following too close to another vehicle and didn’t see traffic slowed in front of him to turn.
“The vehicle in front of him swerved to the right to avoid a collision and [the Ram] took faulty evasive action to the left into oncoming traffic,” Womack said.
The crash remains under investigation.
Reeves was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

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Teen charged with manslaughter in deadly wreck

A Decatur teenager was charged with manslaughter Thursday afternoon following a fatal wreck in the city two weeks ago. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the 16-year-old male, who was not identified because he is a minor, turned himself in on the manslaughter charge Thursday. He was immediately released to his parents. The teen was driving a Volvo SUV westbound on Hale Street March 28 and ran the stop sign at the intersection of Trinity Street, striking a Toyota passenger car driven by 74-year-old Billy Wade McRae of Bridgeport. McRae died at the scene. McRae’s wife, Rhonda, was a passenger in the car and was seriously injured in the crash. The 61-year-old was taken by ground ambulance to Medical City Denton where she remains in stable condition. Hoskins said in addition to running the stop sign, the teen was traveling “well over” the 3o miles per hour speed limit in the area.

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Pursuit ends with 3 arrests

Officers pursued three suspects by vehicle and foot Monday morning near Decatur before detaining them. Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said a deputy attempted to make a traffic stop on a pickup northbound on U.S. 81/287 several miles south of Decatur around 8:20 a.m. The pickup failed to yield and sped away from the deputy. During the pursuit, the truck’s occupants threw what appeared to be drugs out the window. As the chase neared Decatur, the truck turned into a pasture just south of town and the occupants fled on foot. Three people were caught and taken into custody. Officers went back to the scene and found about a 1/2 pound of methamphetamine as well as stolen property. The Texas Department of Public Safety also assisted with the pursuit.

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1 killed in Decatur wreck

One person was killed and two more taken to the hospital following a wreck at the intersection of Trinity and Hale Streets in Decatur around 11:30 Wednesday morning. Few details have been released, but the wreck appeared to involve two vehicles. One occupant from each vehicle was also taken to Wise Health System in Decatur. Roads were shut down in a one block radius from the intersection while the wreck was investigated.

UPDATE at 2:30 p.m.: Decatur ISD sent a message to parents and staff saying that the wreck involved two Decatur High School students in one of the vehicles. One student has returned to school and the other was taken to Wise Health System. The message says the injuries sustained by the students are minor.

More information will be posted as it is available.

The car at left was one of two involved in the Wednesday morning wreck in Decatur. Both occupants of this vehicle survived the crash, but one occupant of the second vehicle, not pictured,  died.

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Chico school bus involved in crash

A Chico ISD bus carrying four golf students and a coach was involved in a crash this morning in Cooke County. Chico ISD Superintendent Don Elsom released the following statement: “The Chico ISD golf team experienced a bus accident this morning. Four students and a coach were involved. Three students were taken to a Gainesville hospital to be evaluated. Once we have more information, we will post it on the Chico ISD Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please keep our staff and students in your prayers.” The Gainesville Daily Register reported on its website this morning that officials told their reporters that the accident happened near Muenster and involved minor injuries. The paper reported that details about what caused the crash were not immediately available. A photo that accompanied the Daily Register’s story showed a school bus on its side just off a roadway.

UPDATE at 3 p.m.: The Chico school district has released the following update on the students’ conditions: “While 3 members of our golf team were transported, all 4 of the members were treated, 3 have been released. We have one member of the golf team that is being kept overnight for observation.”

The Messenger will post more details as they are available.

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Bridgeport receives grant for new fire hall

The City of Bridgeport announced Thursday that it has been awarded a $999,348 grant for a new fire station for the Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department. The grant is from the Texas General Land Office, Community Development and Revitalization division for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery. The city applied for the grant in the fall of 2017, due to the 2015 floods when the fire station was completely flooded and suffered significant damage. The city said the new fire station will be constructed and located in the 1400 block of Thompson Street, where the city’s equipment building is currently located.

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Fire burns mobile home, 3 acres

Walking over the charred, blackened ground, John Erdahl peered over to the burning remains of his mobile home as firefighters chased the final remnants of fire.
“All it is is starting over again. It’s no big thing,” Erdahl said. “It’s an adventure man.”
Along with destroying the mobile home Erdahl shared with his wife and daughter at 1241 County Road 3855, fire consumed multiple vehicles, two RVs and three acres Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters from Boonsville/Balsora, Bridgeport, Cottondale, Lake Bridgeport and Salt Creek responded to battle the blaze.
“It was dispatched as a control burn that got out of control and turned into a grass fire,” said Boonsville/Balsora Assistant Chief Logan Penney. “We got some units en route and halfway here it turned into a structure fire. It got a mobile home, a couple of RVs and two or three cars.
“When we got here, it was fully involved. The way it was dispatched, we were a little delayed in getting engines here because we were dispatched to a grass fire. Most of our tankers are set up to fight a little bit of it, so we used what assets we had available and made a defensive attack on it.”
Erdahl said he was burning trash in a trash pit that he keeps covered behind his residence.
“I was putting some other stuff in it and putting my lid back on,” Erdahl said. “[The wind] gusted a little bit and it caught a little bit. I’m in my bare feet and can’t stomp it out. By the time I could get ready, it was already too late.”
He went inside, woke up his wife, got her out of the home and dialed 911.
Erdahl said they had lived on the property for five to six years.
“We have family in the area, so we’re not in any bad shape,” Erdahl said.

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Fire destroys mobile home

A mobile home north of New Fairview was destroyed in a fire Tuesday night.

East Wise Fire Chief David Plankey said the mobile home on Ridge Trail was fully involved when his department arrived on scene, with a grass fire covering about 1/3 acre behind the building. Plankey said the home was unoccupied. The fire started around 6:45 p.m.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

East Wise, Rhome and Decatur fire departments responded.

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Multiple fires break out on Red Flag Warning day

On a Red Flag Warning day, multiple grass fires have broken out in Wise County Friday afternoon.
Firefighters from Bridgeport, Alvord, Chico, Paradise, Sand Flat and Crafton fought a 60- to 80-acre fire on County Road 1340.

“I’m sure of the cause yet,” said Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty. “We got it extinguished. Several structures were threatened, but no structures were lost.”
East Wise, Rhome, Boyd,  Newark, Justin and Haslet firefighters are responding to a fire on Private Road 4732 just south of Farm Road 407. Multiple vehicles were destroyed in the blaze.

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Man arrested after high-speed chase, crash

A Dallas man led a high-speed pursuit north on U.S. 287/81 Wednesday night before crashing just south of Farm Road 407.
Sammy Thomas, 26, was not injured in the wreck shortly after 10 p.m. He was arrested for evading arrest and taken to Wise County Jail after being checked out by medics.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Ralph Wallace said Thomas admitted to taking PCP, marijuana, cocaine and aspirin and was on his way to St. Louis to see a girlfriend.
Responding medics were asked to wear protective gloves because of the possible presence of the opioid fentanyl.
“We’re investigating after discovering some things. We’ll send [the items] for testing and that’ll take a month,” Wallace said.
The pursuit started on U.S. 287/81 at the Wise and Tarrant county line. Wallace said Thomas was clocked driving 91 mph in the red Volkswagen Jetta.
After speeding through Rhome, Thomas crossed through the median and the southbound lanes approximately one-half mile south of FM 407 before crashing off the west side of the road. The Volkswagen briefly caught fire.
“Officers used their fire extinguishers and put out the fire,” Wallace said.
“He was lucky he didn’t hit anyone head on. He crossed all four lanes.”

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Man flown after trailer falls on him

A man was flown to Medical City Denton from the intersection of Farm Road 407 and Martindale Lane in New Fairview after a double-wide mobile home fell on him Wednesday morning.
Air Evac Lifeteam 68 flew the man to the hospital with a back injury.
A truck from R&B Mobile Homes, Inc. was hauling the mobile home eastbound on FM 407 when axle popped on the trailer. Workers were attempting to lift the trailer for repairs when it fell off the jack and onto the man around 10 a.m.
Wise County EMS medics and Sheriff’s Office deputies and Department of Public Safety troopers responded to the scene. FM 407 was closed between FM 2264 and just east of Martindale Lane until 11 a.m.

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1 hurt in crash near Cottondale

One person was flown to a Fort Worth hospital Wednesday night following a two-vehicle crash in the south part of the county. The wreck happened around 8 p.m. at the intersection of Farm Roads 51 and 2123, east of Cottondale.  Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Bryan Keith said a passenger car was eastbound on FM 2123 when the driver ran the stop sign and struck a southbound passenger vehicle on FM 51. The driver of the vehicle that ran the stop sign had to be extricated from the car before being  flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. The other driver was not serious injured. Traffic was shut down in all directions while the wreck was cleared.

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Elections office releases updated numbers

The final outstanding mail-in ballot results from yesterday’s primary election have been hand counted, and the Wise County Elections Office has released the updated numbers. The numbers did not change the outcome of any race. Here are the updated numbers of locally contested races:

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace

Kim Redman — 635

Callie Manning — 549

Tammy Sosa — 433

Ashly DoByns — 432

*Redman and Manning advance to a runoff.

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace

Todd Bailey — 640

Willie Garrett — 584

Buck Manoushagian — 545

*Bailey and Garrett advance to a runoff.

Precinct 3 Constable

Charles Applewhite — 454

Terry Terry — 358

Cary Mellema — 276

Tony White — 214

*Applewhite and Terry advance to a runoff.

Precinct 2 Commissioner

Kevin Burns — 1,508

Johnny Wall — 446

County Clerk

Sherry Lemon — 3,263

Julie Schooling — 2,784

Senator District 30

Pat Fallon — 3,779

Craig Estes — 1,392

Craig Carter — 1,264

*Wise County numbers only.

Texas Land Commissioner

George P. Bush — 3,647

Davey Edwards — 1,566

Jerry Patterson — 921

Rick Range — 433

*Wise County numbers only.

Around 130 votes remained to be counted at the end of election night due to a software issue in a machine that counts mail-in ballots. Those ballots were counted by hand into the early morning hours and are now reflected in the above numbers.

The results do not include 21 provisional ballots. Also, a couple of military/overseas ballots that were sent out have a few more days to arrive at the office, Elections Administrator Sabra Srader said.

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Shooting suspect caught, to be charged with murder

After 24 hours on the run, Johnny Ray Armstrong of Bridgeport was captured by law enforcement Thursday night in Alvord. Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said Armstrong will be charged with murder after shooting victim Ruben Dunlap, 20, died at Medical City Denton around 5:15 Thursday evening.

Stanford said the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and a helicopter from the Dallas Police Department assisted with the capture of Armstrong, who was located at the Alvord Truck Stop just before 10 p.m. Thursday. Armstrong initially refused to obey officers’ commands, Stanford said, so he was Tazed and taken into custody.

Dunlap was found shot in the head Wednesday night in Armstrong’s home in the 1500 block of Brush Street in Bridgeport. Armstrong had fled the scene, and his vehicle was found abandoned Wednesday night off Farm Road 1810 east of Chico.

Schools in Chico and Bridgeport both went into soft lockdown Thursday as a precaution. Stanford said Armstrong was not armed when he was caught.


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Police seek person of interest in shooting

Johnny Ray Armstrong

Bridgeport Police are looking for a person of interest from a shooting that took place last night in the city. The person is identified as Johnny Ray Armstrong, 37. He is described as 6-foot tall, 180 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.

Armstrong is believed to have fled the scene of the shooting in a vehicle that was later found abandoned on Farm Road 1810 east of Chico.

Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said officers responded to a call about a shooting in the 1500 block of Brush Street around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday and found a 20-year-old man with a gun shot wound to the head. He was taken to Medical City Denton in critical condition.

Stanford said they believe Armstrong left the home after the shooting, and officers found his vehicle crashed on Farm Road 1810 near County Road 1340 east of Chico. Armstrong had apparently fled on foot and is still at large. Stanford said although they have no information that Armstrong is armed, he asks that people use caution if they see him. He asks that people not approach him but rather immediately call 911.

Two other people were at the home at the time of the shooting and heard the gunshot but did not witness it, Stanford said. The investigation is ongoing.

Chico ISD Don Elsom said Thursday morning that schools are in soft lockdown and under heightened watch with staff more visible as the shooting suspect remains at large. Elsom stressed, “no immediate danger.”

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Two students detained for gun at Northwest HS

Two Northwest High School students were detained for possessing a handgun on campus Tuesday, according to a statement released by the district.
The weapon was confiscated without incident by district officials.
In a letter to parents, Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren said pictures of a student with a handgun were posted on a social media site Tuesday morning.
“Two other NHS students saw the posting and immediately informed campus leadership,” Warren said. “Within three minutes of the initial report, NHS leadership with the School Resource Officer located the student and took possession of the weapon with no incident. During the questioning of the student, another NHS student was implicated, and that student was detained for further questioning.”
Warren said the district and police are continuing to investigate.

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Mobile home burns

A mobile home outside of Boyd caught fire Tuesday morning, and the cause is still under investigation.

Boyd Chief Chris Caster said when they reached the mobile home on County Road 4767, one end was in flames. Boyd Volunteer Fire Department, assisted by Newark, quickly knocked the flames down. The fire occurred around 11 a.m.

Caster said the family living in the home made it safely out. They were still searching for a missing dog, but Caster said firefighters had looked through the home for the dog three times and found nothing so he believes it likely ran off during the fire.

Wise County Fire Marshal Jeff Doughty is investigating the cause of the fire.

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Chisholm Trail boundary remains unsettled

The dividing line for the attendance zones between Northwest ISD’s Adams and Chisholm Trail middle schools remains unsettled.
After nearly an hour-long discussion centered on the impact on Chisholm Trail by the changes Monday, Northwest ISD trustees split 3-3 and failed to approved the recommended attendance zones. Trustees followed with a 4-2 vote to delay the boundary changes for the two middle schools and several elementary schools until their next meeting March 19.
With Adams opening in the fall, the recommended boundary change for Chisholm Trail has the dividing line at the Wise-Tarrant county line. The change would cut the enrollment at the Rhome campus from a projected 1,097 students to 492.
At the end of the meeting, Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren asked for a discussion to get direction and called for the board to reconvene next week to revisit the boundaries.
“I don’t think we can wait three weeks for this decision. That puts us behind from the personnel standpoint and getting the very best people moved around in our school district and getting the best people into our district,” Warren said. “I’d recommend we call a meeting next week and we get into this again. Between now and then I will blank out my calendar, and I will do everything you need me to do to make this decision right.”
Warren added that he stood behind the recommendation of boundary committee, which included parents impacted by the changes.
“You need to understand this, I’m not going override the committee on the work they did,” Warren said. “No. 1, I trust the committee we put together and trust the decisions that were made. No. 2, I will not override the committee in putting children on buses for that long. That’s the only way to solve this is to spread that area out and put kids on buses to Chisholm because there’s no more kids in that area.”
Assistant Superintendent for Facilities Tim McClure in presenting in the boundary recommendations said about 85 percent of the population impacted are around Adams Middle School and points south.
“I’ve been tasked with this since Day 1 that I walked in the door by [former superintendent] Dr. [Karen] Rue. I’ve been working on Chisholm scenarios since Day 1 and it is a geographic problem,” McClure said. “I can not stress it enough. I’m a parent of two Chisholm kids…I don’t know a way without relocating a mass portion of our populace that doesn’t make sense to fix that until we get more development out there.”
Amanda Merritt, who lives in Aurora Vista, addressed the board with concerns about the boundary changes and the impact on the school, pointing out an increase in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
“Our communities do a lot for our students,” Merritt said. “Our district relies a lot on PTA donations for improvements to our schools and that’s understandable. As PTAs we raise significantly less because of our parent population than other schools in our district, which leaves us unable to provide the things we would like to provide. We want to open that communication with our leadership. At the end of the day, we trust our district and leadership. We have nothing but positive things to say about Dr. Warren and our board. We do want a little more communication before we can buy into this.”
Trustees Josh Wright, Lillian Rauch and Anne Davis-Simpson voted against the boundary change.
Rauch called for a two-week delay based on feedback she received from members of the community.
Wright said it was the most difficult vote he’s faced as a board member. He said he received eight or nine calls
“My concern is a half-empty school and what will happen with the culture in the community. I don’t feel comfortable with it tonight,” Wright said.
Davis-Simpson expressed concern about the enrollment projection.
“I cannot understand why we can’t balance the numbers,” she said.
Steve Sprowls, who voted for the boundary change, praised the sense of community at Chisholm Trail and wanted to make sure it is protected.
“It’s an awesome culture and I don’t want to impact it. I want it to influence the rest of the district,” Sprowls said.
Before the board’s vote, Warren and Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Rob Thornell said plans are in place for the campus for next year with the smaller enrollment. They told the board no programs would be cut.
“There’s a lot of 500-student middle schools and a lot of successful 500-student middle schools, but a lot of them don’t have the full force of a district the size of NISD behind it,” Warren said. “We’re going to make sure they have the assets in place, both in personnel and programs to give kids every chance to be successful.”
Board President Mark Schluter said the district will be reaching out and addressing concerns about the boundary changes
“There’s so many people in the district that it’s so hard to a pulse from every person,” Schluter said. “Every decision we make is going to be either supported or rejected. We’re not going to make everyone happy. The biggest part of what we do is making sure every voice that wants to give input has the opportunity.”
Schluter admitted options are limited at Chisholm Trail.
“We laid it out today, it’s either bus kids or accept the boundary lines we have,” he said. “One of my concerns when you start looking at other areas and we’re going to divide an area that’s stable, you bring in a whole different group and there’s a whole learning curve all over.”

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