Jones announces retirement


Chico ISD trustees voted Friday to accept the terms of Superintendent Mike Jones’ retirement agreement, effective August 31, 2016.

Jones presented the agreement at a special session, just five days after the board’s regular meeting.

Trustees G.A. Buckner, Brian Hand, Lori Clark, Bill Hand and Doug Bowyer voted in favor of the agreement, with Paul Cantrell and Mark Tate opposed.

Jones’ contract was set to expire in 2019. The board had tabled contract discussions at its previous two meetings.

Jones said he plans to continue to live in Chico, but isn’t sure what his next step will be.

“I’m going to do something, whether I’m a superintendent or I do decide to retire,” he said. “I don’t know what I’ll do exactly, but we [Jones’ family] have every intention of remaining Chico Dragons.”

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Fire destroys trailer in East Wise


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A fast-moving grass fire destroyed a mobile home on Private Road 4442 between New Fairview and Decatur Saturday afternoon in the East Wise Fire District.
The trailer at 140 PR 4442 was unoccupied, according to Wise County Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Washburn.
Firefighters from East Wise, Rhome, Decatur, Boyd and Newark fought the blaze near Coyote Trail and County Road 4421 that was reported shortly before 3 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., firefighters reported the blaze was under control.
The fire started behind the residence at 136 PR 4442, according to Washburn.
“A man was barbecuing and he said he went in to get some food and the fire was going,” Washburn said.
Washburn said the fire was accidental. No one was injured.
A steady southeast breeze at 13 mph carried flames across the dry vegetation. Firefighters stopped the grass fire around the trailer.
Washburn said humidity being at 42 percent helped firefighters get control of the fire.

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Decatur home burns


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Decatur, Bridgeport and Paradise Fire Departments battled a blaze at a home in the 1800 block of College Avenue 5:30 Friday evening.

Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson said firefighters found a large fire when they arrived.

“It had a head start on us,” Richardson said. “When the guys got here they had a lot of fire out back. It was in the attic. That’s always slow to put out.”

The southbound lane of College Avenue was closed from Thompson to Decatur High School as firefighters worked at the scene.

Firefighters doused the fire for more than an hour before it was extinguished, knocking in windows and spraying the home from several angles.

No one was injured. The house contained personal belongings, but was unoccupied.

Richardson said a burglary was reported at the home earlier in the day.

The fire and burglary are under investigation.

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2 hurt in motorcycle crash


Two motorcycle operators were injured in a wreck around 12:15 Saturday afternoon. The wreck happened on Farm Road 51 at the intersection with County Road 4698 near Boyd. Department of Public Safety Trooper Paul Zaragoza said a pickup had stopped to turn left onto the county road. A vehicle and four motorcycles were following him southbound on FM 51 when the last motorcycle in the line, operated by James Drayton Darby Jr., 61, of Dish failed to slow down in time. Zaragoza said Darby’s motorcycle clipped the back tire of the motorcycle in front of him, operated by Gail Elaine Clarke, 63, of Krum. Darby was thrown from his bike and rolled several times, sustaining a head injury. He was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Clarke sustained a leg injury and was taken by Wise County EMS to Wise Health System in Decatur.

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Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Northwest’s Rue announces retirement


After leading the Northwest ISD during a time of unprecedented, Karen Rue announced Thursday night that she will retire at the end of the year.
The Northwest ISD Superintendent announced her intention to leave her post July 31 at the district’s school board meeting.
“It has truly been an honor to be part of Northwest ISD,” Rue said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to the adventures and opportunities retirement will bring and am excited about the possibility of exploring other avenues I might want to pursue. It has been a joy to be part of the Northwest ISD family, and Northwest will continue to be my home.”
Rue joined Northwest ISD in 2005 from Tuloso-Midway ISD, where she was superintendent.
During her 11 years at Northwest, the district has grown from 8,700 to 21,000 students. The district opened two new high schools — Byron Nelson in 2009 and Eaton in 2015.
“Dr. Rue has been an inspirational leader, and we will be forever grateful for her leadership and vision,” said Josh Wright, Northwest School Board President. “We were saddened to learn of her retirement plans. She has led our future-ready vision and initiated a transformational shift in education. Understanding the importance of preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s future, she implemented initiatives to help strengthen student engagement, deepen student learning and open doors for innovation, creativity and experiential learning.”
The district will start its search for a new superintendent in February.
“As much as we hate to say goodbye, though, we know that our district’s future-ready vision will continue. The Northwest ISD Board of Trustees is committed to doing what is best for our students, parents, staff and community members. As we begin the search for a new superintendent, we are dedicated to finding the right person to continue our path of transformation and future-ready excellence,” said Wright. “We wish Dr. Rue and her family all the best.”
Rue began her 37-year career in education as a sixth-grade teacher and has since served as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director.
She was recently named a finalist by the School Administrators Association for the 2016 Women in School Leadership Award.
She was named the Region XI Superintendent of the Year and is currently serving as President of the Texas Association of School Administrators.

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Fire damages Aurora home


A fire in a home on Old Base Road in Aurora produced a tall cloud of white smoke visible for more than 10 miles about 5:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Early responders drove a vehicle through a closed gate to reach the home, After the fire was knocked down, firefighters swept the house and attic to ensure it was completely out.

Wise County Fire Marshall Chuck Beard said Rhome, Newark and Boyd Fire Departments and Wise County EMS responded to the fire.

No one was injured.

More information will be posted as it is available.


 

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Man air lifted from Chico wreck


A man was air lifted from a wreck in Chico around 1:30 p.m. today.

State Trooper Paul Zaragoza said the man, driving a white passenger car, was traveling northbound on Texas 101 when he veered left from his lane for unknown reasons. An 18-wheeler was turning right from Farm Road 1810 onto southbound Texas 101, and the car ran underneath it. The car came to rest when it hit a tree off the left side of the road.

The man in the passenger car was trapped in the vehicle and had to be extricated by paramedics. He was flown by AirEvac Lifeteam 68 to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. His condition is unknown at this time.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was uninjured.

Wise County Emergency Medical Services, Wise County Rescue 1, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Public Safety and Chico fire department responded.

No names have been released at this time.

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Fire damages Alvord home


A fire severely damaged a home on Greenwood Street in Alvord late Tuesday night.

The fire, first reported around 11:30 p.m., started in a shed behind the house.

“We have been told that there was a heat lamp back there for a dog,” Alvord Fire Chief Sam Hahn said. “By all indications we have right now, that’s probably where it started.”

The fire then moved to the attic of the home.

The occupants were able to get out safely and the Red Cross has been alerted.

Alvord, Chico and Decatur fire departments and Wise County Emergency Medical Services responded.

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Rhome rollback election results


The unofficial results of the Rhome tax rollback election are in, and the tax rate will be lowered.

There were 144 votes in total, 108 for the rollback and 36 against. The majority voted early, with 28 votes cast on election day.

The election was held to decide whether to lower Rhome’s tax from 58.33 cents per $100 valuation to 52.34 cents.

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Injured person air lifted following accident at raceway


An injured person was air lifted from Oak Hill Raceway this morning following a motorcycle crash.

Initial reports said the victim lost consciousness for approximately five minutes following their crash. Air Evac Lifeteam 68 airlifted the injured person to John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth at 10:50 a.m.

Alvord fire department, Wise County Medic 1 and Wise County Rescue 1 also responded to the accident.

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Decatur High School evacuated due to threat


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Students and staff were evacuated from Decatur High School just before noon today due to a bomb threat found on a bathroom wall. According to the school’s Facebook page, students have been moved to the Carson Elementary gym. Decatur police and fire departments have been dispatched to investigate the building.
Parents wishing to pick their children up may go to the Carson Elementary gym north entrance. School employees will check IDs before checking students out. Buses will continue to run their regular route.

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Bridgeport man found not guilty of sex crime


A Wise County jury that at times was deadlocked during deliberations found Vincent Paul Martinez, 27, of Bridgeport not guilty of indecency with a child by sexual contact at the conclusion of his trial around 2:30 p.m. Thursday in 271st District Court. Martinez was accused of touching a 4-year-old victim on her genitals in the back of a vehicle. Martinez testified that he was simply tickling the little girl and that if he did make contact with the genital area, it was accidental. Among the witnesses who testified for the state were the investigator who questioned Martinez about the contact, the alleged victim’s mother and the alleged victim, who is now 5. The jury twice sent down notes saying they could not reach a unanimous verdict but was instructed by District Judge John Fostel to keep deliberating. By the time the jury began deliberating around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the number of jurors was 11 after Martinez’ attorney expressed concerns about a juror who during a break in the trial talked to the investigator who testified. The discussion was not about the case being tried, but prosecutors and the defense attorney agreed to dismiss the juror and continue forward with the 11-person jury. Read more in the weekend Wise County Messenger.

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Hightower sentenced to 16 months for naked photos of sex offenders


Former Wise County Sheriff’s Office sergeant Chad Hightower was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. Hightower pleaded guilty in September to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law when he admitted to taking nude photos of  sex offenders. Hightower was the sex offender registrar at the time of the incident. He was sentenced to eight months for each count, and Judge Jeffrey Cureton ruled that the sentence will run consecutively. According to court documents, Hightower must begin serving his sentence by Feb. 8. The judge also assessed a fine of $3,000. Read more in the weekend Wise County Messenger.

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Fire damages business on U.S. 81/287


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Decatur Fire Department, East Wise Fire Department and Wise County EMS responded to a large fire inside of a garage at U.S. 81/287  and Farm Road 2264 just after 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson said the fire broke out in the grease pit underneath a medium-duty truck while it was being worked on by mechanics at Earth Builders, a highway construction company.

“They were doing some cutting operation underneath it, and it lit something that got into an oil supply underneath it,” Richardson said. “That lit up. [The mechanics] did a good job with a tractor and drug that truck out of there.”

Richardson said smoke and flames were billowing out the building’s three bay doors when firefighters arrived.

“Since they drug it out, that was the only fire we had,” he said. “The guys were able to knock it out pretty fast.

“We use a foam mix in our truck so we were able to knock the oil down pretty quick.”

After the flames were put out, firefighters remained on scene to douse the grease pit and monitor the garage for flame ups.

“There’s still smoke in there,” Richardson said. “It’ll take a little while.”

Richardson said the building was still structurally sound. No one was injured.

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Fire damages Boyd home


Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A Boyd family was displaced Saturday afternoon when their home on Dunlap Street caught fire.
Boyd Assistant Fire Chief Jason Adams said when his crew arrived, smoke was billowing from the windows and eaves of the house.
The single-story brick structure had several additions and “a couple of attics,” according to Adams, which made the fire more difficult to fight. Firefighters contained the blaze to the interior of the house. It was heavily damaged by smoke.
No one was home when the fire started.
Resident Steven Hood said he had been gone only 30 minutes when he received a call that the house was on fire. He lives there with his girlfriend and three children, ages 11, 9 and 4.
Boyd, Newark, Decatur and Cottondale fire departments were called to the scene, as well as Wise County medics.
The Red Cross was called to assist the family.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. It was first reported at 3:09 p.m.

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Ice leads to fatal accident on FM 2264


2264 wreck 2Residual ice from Monday’s snow storm sent a truck off of Farm Road 2264 and on top of a SUV submerged in a creek in New Fairview Tuesday morning.
A deceased man was pulled from the submerged vehicle by firefighters.
Jeffery Hoyt, 32, of Rhome was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Judge Jan Morrow.
A Dodge Ram pickup driven by Curtis Mahaffey, 62, of Decatur was headed southbound on FM 2264 when it hit the ice, left the road on the westbound side and landed on top of the submerged vehicle.
Mahaffey was uninjured.
His accident was reported at 5:30 a.m.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel said Hoyt had left his residence around 4:15 a.m. and the accident likely happened shortly after. Hoyt’s SUV was also headed southbound.
There were no guardrails at the creek on FM 2264 just more than a mile north of FM 407.
Rhome and East Wise Firefighters responded to the wrecks along with Wise County medics.

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Body found near Boyd


The body of a female was discovered buried in a rural area off County Road 4680 west of Boyd Saturday evening. Wise County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kevin Benton said the body was exhumed on Sunday and sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office for positive identification. He said it does appear to be a homicide, and the sheriff’s office is working with Texas Rangers and the Fort Worth Police Department on the investigation. A “person of interest,” identified as Jake Charles Abel, 28, of Fort Worth was arrested Sunday for parole violation and is being held without bond at the Wise County Jail. Read more in the midweek Wise County Messenger.

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J.W. Johnson appointed interim sheriff


Wise County commissioners appointed J.W. Johnson of Decatur interim sheriff at a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

Johnson was appointed to serve the unexpired term of Sheriff David Walker, who is retiring Dec. 31. Johnson will take over the post Jan. 1.

Walker recommended Johnson for the post at the time he notified the county of his retirement in October, but commissioners decided to wait until after the candidate filing period ended to make their decision to avoid appointing someone who might run for the office.

Johnson, who moved to Wise County in 1996, retired from the Dallas Police Department after 22 years before working another 21 years in Denton County at the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office. Johnson is the father of Wise County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Craig Johnson.

“I’ve just been around all these guys, and I know they’re doing a good job and I’d like to help when I can,” J.W. Johnson said. “I’m not looking for a full-time police job anymore, but I feel that I could be a help to keep everything running smooth until one of the two running in the primary takes charge.”

There are only two candidates running for sheriff — Lane Akin and Brandon Davis. Both are on the Republican ticket, so the election will be decided in the March 1 primary. Commissioners informally agreed Thursday that Johnson will serve at least until March 1, at which time they will likely appoint the primary winner to fill the remainder of the term.

Read more in the weekend Messenger on newsstands Saturday.

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Man air lifted from wreck near Alvord


A man was air lifted from a wreck this morning after rolling his eighteen-wheeler near Alvord.

The Department of Public Safety, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Wise County Emergency Medical Services responded to the wreck on Farm Road 1655 south of Alvord around 10:30 a.m.

State Trooper Ed Atkins said the driver of the eighteen-wheeler was traveling northbound when his trailer went off the roadway. The driver tried to correct by turning to the left, then overcorrected to the right. The eighteen-wheeler rolled onto its side and slid, coming to rest across the roadway with the cab in the tree line on the side of the road.

The driver was trapped in the cab and had to be extracted by Wise County EMS. He was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth by Air Evac Lifeteam 68. Atkins said his condition is unknown, but the man was conscious and talked to the troopers when they arrived on scene. A passenger in the cab was uninjured.

No names have been released at this time.

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Lake Bridgeport closed to boats


The Tarrant Regional Water District has closed Lake Bridgeport due to high water levels. Due to several days of rain, the lake has risen to 837.88 feet as of noon Monday. That’s nearly 2 feet above conservation level of 836 feet. Water is being discharged from the lake at nearly 4,100 cubic feet per second.

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