DISD proposes same tax rate


Following a budget workshop Monday, the Decatur School Board officially proposed keeping the 2017-2018 tax rate the same as the current rate.

The proposed rate is $1.34 per $100 of taxable value, which includes $1.04 for maintenance and operations and $0.30 for debt service. That would require the use of $16,000 in fund balance.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent pay raise for teachers and sets first year teacher pay at $45,000, a $1,000 increase from last year.

A public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate will be held at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the DISD Board Room. The board will also adopt the budget and tax rate following that hearing.

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WCSO investigates overnight shooting in Alvord


The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting of two people in Alvord early Monday morning.

Sheriff Lane Akin said deputies responded to a call about a shooting in the 300 block of North Wickham Street around midnight and found two men with gunshot wounds to the arms and legs. Akin said one of the men had one gunshot wound while the other had multiple gunshot wounds.

Both victims — identified as Rhett Barclay, 17, and Brent Dixon, 41 — were transported by Wise County EMS to Denton Regional Hospital where they remained late Monday morning. Akin said the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Crime scene investigators were continuing to collect evidence and interview witnesses late Monday morning to try to find out why the shooting took place and who is responsible.

“At the outset, it looks like a night time burglary, but we’ll keep all options on the table,” Akin said.

Officers did arrest one other person at the house — Jessica Greer, 18 — for possession of methamphetamine as well as warrants out of Denton County.

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Blaze rips through mobile home


Firefighters were called to 313 County Road 4869 near Briar just before midnight Saturday as a blaze devoured a mobile home.

Boyd Firefighter Mason Del Castillo, who is also a shift supervisor, said the house was fully involved when the first crew arrived.

Initial reports on the police scanner indicated there might have been a small explosion, but Del Castillo said that wasn’t true.

“There was some popping when we got here … it could have been leftover fireworks or maybe ammunition,” he said. “But there was no actual explosion.”

Jeff Doughty with the Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.  In addition to Boyd, several other departments were also on scene, as well as Wise County EMS and a sheriff’s deputy.

The homeowner was not at the property when the fire started. More information will be posted as it’s available.

 

 

 

 

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Chico home destroyed in fire


Messenger photo by Joe Duty

By Kristen Tribe

A house just outside Chico was destroyed by fire Saturday night, despite the best efforts of five local volunteer fire departments.

The fire was first reported at 8:40 p.m. Chico Assistant Fire Chief Josh Richey said when his crews arrived only the back room of the house was on fire, but it spread quickly through the structure, which is on County Road 1550 near County Road 1557.

The fire spread from the house to a neighboring pasture, burning about 5 acres.

In addition to Chico, Alvord, Bridgeport, Crafton and Sand Flat fire departments were also called to the scene, as well as Wise County’s Rescue 1, a sheriff’s deputy and a Department of Public Safety trooper.

One woman lived in the home, but her name was not released at the scene. The Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office was called to investigate. More information will be posted as it’s available.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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3 arrested following manhunt


A manhunt that began after a Decatur police officer initiated a traffic stop on Thompson Street near U.S. 81/287 led to three arrests Thursday morning.
Decatur Police Department’s Lt. Delvon Campbell said officer Jase Reeves stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in a business parking lot near the 400 block of Thompson Street at 10:16 a.m.
Campbell said returns on the vehicle’s license plate didn’t match its registration and when the officer prepared to confront the vehicle’s driver with that information, the individual bolted for a nearby creek.
“Just about the time the officer was going to ask the male subject to step out, the male subject just took off on him,” Campbell said. “He took off on foot through [the creek area].
Campbell said Decatur dispatchers contacted the Wise County Sheriff’s Office for canine assistance, and several nearby Texas Department of Public Safety troopers also aided in the search, but the combined agencies were unable to locate the driver.
During the search, Campbell said officers obtained a search warrant for the driver’s hotel room at America’s Best Value Inn, where they discovered 49 grams of methamphetamine, fewer than 20 ounces of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. There officers arrested Jessica Idlett, 23, of Bowie, for possession of the drugs and paraphernalia and Shawna Curtis, 48, of Decatur, for theft of less than $100. Campbell said Curtis would be charged with the drug offenses.
Campbell said officers initially made contact with an individual who agreed to take them to the driver’s hotel room, but instead intentionally led them to another room. The man, Dennis Shanahan, 57, of Decatur, was arrested for hindering apprehension or prosecution.
“When the officers were looking for our suspect, [Shanahan] took them to the wrong hotel room to start with,” Campbell said. “So he was basically just helping out our suspect.”
Campbell said officers had set up a perimeter around the area, but Shanahan’s diversion likely helped the driver escape. The foot search was called off around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
They also recovered $7,883 from the stopped vehicle. Campbell said officers know the driver’s identity and are still searching for him. The department has not released the subject’s identity due to pending charges.

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Jim Marrs, author and conspiracy theorist, dies


Jim Marrs, an author and conspiracy theorist who studied the Aurora alien spaceship crash of 1897, died Wednesday. He was 73.

According to a post on Marrs’ official Facebook page, he died following a heart attack. Marrs bowed out of speaking engagements earlier this year due to poor health.

Marrs is best known for his book on the John F. Kennedy assassination, “Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy,” and his book “Alien Agenda,” which delved into the world of UFOs.

Marrs told the Messenger in a 2011 interview that the Aurora spaceship crash was the best evidence of UFOs he’d ever seen.

“I think the Aurora story is as strong as you can get,” he said. “It had contemporary reports from newspapers. And it was corroborated with all these other stories.”

According to Marrs’ Facebook page, his family will hold a “Texas-sized” wake for him at their home next month.

Read more about Marrs in the weekend issue of the Messenger.

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Decatur officers involved in manhunt


Decatur police officers are searching for a man near the creek behind America’s Best Value Inn on U.S. 81/287 north of Thompson Street.

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday officers, working with at least one canine team from the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, had formed a perimeter in the area.

No details about the individual are available at this time, but the department confirmed the pursuit began when the individual fled on foot following a traffic stop.

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1 injured in rollover wreck


An injured man was flown from the scene of an 18-wheeler rollover wreck near Alvord Tuesday morning.

The wreck happened just before 4 a.m. on Farm Road 1655 around one mile north of Alvord.

Texas Department of Public Safety Corp. Lantz Elliott said the driver of the 18-wheeler was southbound on FM 1655 and either fell asleep behind the wheel or took the curve too fast, coming off the road. The 18-wheeler rolled, partially ejecting the driver, who was flown to Denton City Medical by Air Evac Lifeteam 68. His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

DPS, Lifeteam 68, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Emergency Medical Services and Alvord Volunteer Fire Department responded.

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Wreck victims identified


Texas Department of Public Safety released Monday the names of the passengers involved in a single-vehicle fatal wreck on Greenwood Road Friday afternoon.

DPS Trooper Jeremy Pope said that four juveniles were driving back from a fishing trip when a deer ran across the road. The 15-year-old driver, whose name has been withheld by DPS pending further investigation, swerved to miss the animal and overcorrected, causing the SUV to roll. Pope said only one occupant was wearing a seatbelt, and two of the occupants were ejected.

DPS Spokesperson Lt. Lonny Haschel said Wade Bates, 12, of Sunset was pronounced dead at the scene. Passenger Tyler Darland, 15, of Decatur was taken to Medical City Denton with injuries that were not life threatening, and passenger Braeden Malone, 12, of Decatur was taken to Cook Children’s with serious injuries.

The accident is still under investigation.

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Fatal wreck on Greenwood Road


One juvenile died in a single-vehicle wreck on Greenwood Road Friday afternoon.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Jeremy Pope said that four juveniles were driving back from a fishing trip when a deer ran across the road. The driver swerved to miss the animal and overcorrected, causing the car to roll. Pope said only one occupant was wearing a seatbelt, and two of the occupants were ejected.

One juvenile was pronounced dead at the scene, and two were flown from the site of the wreck by air ambulance. All three surviving occupants were taken to hospitals to treat their injuries.

Names have not been released at this time. The accident is still under investigation. More information will be posted when available.

Texas Department of Public Safety, Wise County Emergency Medical Services, Air Evac Lifeteam 68, Careflite, Greenwood/Slidell and Decatur fire departments responded.

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DPS reverses decision on crime lab fees, sheriff drops prisoner fee


A week after the Texas Department of Public Safety announced local law enforcement agencies would be required to pay for use of the state crime labs, concerns expressed by rural police chiefs and sheriffs, including Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, has led to a reversal of the decision.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Friday that he was requesting the DPS drop its request to charge fees for services provided by the state’s crime labs that had previously been offered at no cost to local agencies. Those services include forensic analysis performed on controlled substances, toxicology, DNA evidence submissions and biological specimens to detect the presence of alcohol at the state’s crime labs, according to DPS Director Steven McCraw.
“DPS’ crime lab is vital to the public safety of Texas,” Abbott said in the letter. “It provides expert analysis and testimony of physical evidence collected at crime scenes across the state. Under no circumstances will I allow the 13 crime labs that DPS operates across the state to be underfunded. However, I firmly believe it is premature to charge a fee at this time.”
Within hours, DPS Deputy Director of Homeland Security and Services Robert J. Bodisch sent a letter to law enforcement agencies announcing the department’s decision to continue to allow local law enforcement agencies to use the crime labs at no cost.

Akin had announced earlier this week he intended to begin charging DPS and other state agencies $50 per inmate per day to house their prisoners at the Wise County Jail in response to the new fee requirements from DPS. Akin said Friday that he “feels no reason to move forward with charging DPS” the prisoner fee.

Read more in the weekend Wise County Messenger.

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Manning appointed Precinct 2 JP


By Kristen Tribe

Wise County commissioners Thursday appointed Callie Manning of Alvord interim Precinct 2 justice of the peace.

She will replace Craig Johnson, who is joining the sheriff’s office Aug. 21 as chief deputy.

The appointment came at the recommendation of Johnson and County Judge J.D. Clark.

“Judge Clark and I reviewed some outstanding applicants,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some good interviews, and we feel like the person we’re recommending to you is a clear cut favorite and will do an outstanding job, is active in the community and will represent Precinct 2 very, very well.”

Manning said she was honored by the recommendation.

“I will work very hard and diligently to know everything I need to know within the time period I’m allotted,” she said. “I’m honored to be selected.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance wanted to know if anyone else was being considered.

“That’s pretty well the way the process works?” he asked. “Y’all figured it out, and we’re going to vote on it? Is that the way it’s going to be?”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said he “didn’t realize the leg work would all be done.”

“I didn’t know we were ready to appoint today,” he said, “so I’m a little surprised, but I’m willing to go with Craig’s recommendation.”

Johnson said multiple candidates were interviewed and at the conclusion of the process he felt strongly Manning was the best choice.

Manning has worked for Boyd Powers and Williamson since April 2001 and is the head legal assistant to the senior partner. She has served on the board of directors for United Way of Wise County since 2004 and is president of the Alvord Economic Development Corp.

She has previously served on the Alvord City Council and Wise County Teen Court. Manning has also been part of Alvord Friends of FFA and the Decatur Junior Women’s Club.

Burns eventually made the motion to appoint Manning to the post, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy gave it a second. Burns, Kennedy and Clark voted in favor of the appointment. Lamance abstained.

The office of Precinct 2 justice of the peace, along with all other JPs, will be on the March 2018 primary ballot.

Read more in the weekend Messenger on newsstands Saturday.

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Sheriff announces plan to charge state for jail use


In response to last week’s announcement by the Texas Department of Public Safety that the agency will begin charging fees to local sheriff’s offices and police departments for use of the DPS crime labs, a service that has been offered in the past for free, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin has announced new fees of his own.

Akin, who has previously worked for DPS, announced late Tuesday that effective Sept. 1, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office Jail will charge DPS and all other state agencies $50 per day/per inmate to house their prisoners. The WCSO also plans to charge DPS for medical costs, court transport, extra blankets, toiletries and any injuries their prisoners may cause the jailers, Akin announced in a Facebook post.

“We are only passing along our cost,” Akin wrote. “We have no intent to profit from our law enforcement relationship.”

Last Thursday, DPS Director Steven McCraw announced that their agency has been directed to collect up to $11.4 million in fees from entities that use forensic analysis services provided by the agency. DPS will charge for forensic analysis performed on controlled substances, toxicology, DNA evidence submissions and biological specimens to detect the presence of alcohol, McCraw announced.

Sheriff Lane Akin

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Decatur City Council approves annexation


The Decatur City Council Monday approved a voluntary annexation of 163 acres of land southeast of the city.

The petition for voluntary annexation was brought by Jody Adams on behalf of the Wise County Consortium LLC.

The council also voted to update the land use map of the property to industrial. It tabled action on zoning the property heavy industrial because a supermajority vote of the council was needed after the city’s planning and zoning commission by a 3-2 vote recommended denying the request due to concerns expressed by nearby landowners. One council member was absent Monday, preventing the possibility of a supermajority vote of 3/4 of the council needed to overrule the P&Z recommendation.

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Bridgeport awarded development grant


Bridgeport has been awarded a Rural Business Development Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture in the amount of $232,000, the city announced Monday. Grant funds will be used to continue a series of paving and landscaping improvements known as the Halsell Street Revitalization Project in the 1200 block of Halsell Street.

In addition to the awarded funds, the city will contribute $15,000 to the project.

According to the city, the project will continue similar improvements in reconfiguring Halsell Street and will extend from midblock of 12th and Halsell to 13th and Halsell. These improvements include new pavement and reconfiguring striping, sidewalks on both the north and south sides of the street, lighting, landscaping and irrigation.

The city recently completed the first phase of the Halsell Street Revitalization Project.

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Downtown Decatur road closure


The 100 block of North Trinity on the Decatur Square will be closed between Main and Walnut from 6 a.m.  to noon Saturday, July 22 for crane operations. Air conditioner units are being installed at a new business on the east side of the square. Barricades will be in place with emergency access to be maintained in the south bound lanes.

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Man killed in wreck


An Alvord man was killed in a two-vehicle wreck on U.S. 81/287 about three miles north of Decatur Thursday afternoon.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Lantz Elliot said a Chevrolet Camaro driven by Robert D. Shepherd, 53, was northbound at about 6:15 when he attempted to pass a black Ford SUV occupied by two people. Elliot said Shepherd failed to give the SUV enough room when passing, striking its front left fender with the back of his car. The collision triggered a chain of events, in which Shepherd’s Camaro left the roadway at an angle, entering the east side shoulder and sliding down sideways. Elliot said speed may have played a factor in the wreck.

“It shot him off the road,” Elliot said. “The gradient in the shoulder made him slide sideways.”

The car struck a tree and flipped into a creek bottom. Shepherd was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Clay Poynor. The SUV’s occupants were uninjured.

Decatur Fire Department, Wise County EMS and Wise County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

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Wreck victim identified


Texas Department of Public Safety investigators Wednesday released the name of the driver involved in a single-vehicle wreck on County Road 4668, also know as Bobo Crossing, late Tuesday night.

DPS Spokesperson Lt. Lonny Haschel said Kenneth Carlton Jr., 43 of Newark, was westbound on the road about 11:50 when he lost control of his 2007 Ford Mustang for an undetermined reason near the road’s bridge over the West Fork Trinity River. The vehicle rode up the guardrail before plunging to the river bottom below, landing on the front of its roof and coming to rest right-side-up partially in the water.

State Trooper Jeff Johnson characterized Carlton’s injuries at the scene as critical. He was flown to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.

Boyd and Newark Fire Departments, Wise County EMS and Wise County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

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1 injured in wreck


One man was injured late Tuesday night when his vehicle plunged from the bridge on County Road 4668, also known as Bobo Crossing.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Jeff Johnson said a witness at the scene told him she was cut off by a sports car at the Farm Road 718 intersection just before midnight. The witness said the car sped westbound on 4668 where Johnson said evidence indicates it caught the bridge’s guardrail with its right tires, riding the guard rail to the bridge’s concrete barrier and tipping off into the river bottom below. It’s not clear why the vehicle left the roadway, he said.

The vehicle landed on the front edge of its roof and flipped, coming to rest right-side-up with its roof crushed. Firefighters extricated the driver. He was taken via air ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with critical injuries.

The driver’s name has been withheld pending an update on his condition. He was the vehicle’s only occupant.

Boyd and Newark Fire Departments, Wise County EMS and Wise County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

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Church’s road paving project blocked by energy company


Victory Family Church in Decatur began work Monday on paving a road on their property that connects the church with the Victory Christian Academy, but a barbed wire fence was placed over the road near the location of a well head owned by Texxoll Operating.

Church officials say they have maintained the gravel road since 2003 and want to make the road safer by paving it. Associate Pastor Chris Bates said the church was shocked when safety crews from Texxoll arrived last Thursday to put up the fence, effectively blocking the road to through traffic four days before construction work began.

Zac Martin, manager of the land department for Texxoll, said they have long had concerns about the church using the road, part of which was originally built by the company from Walnut Street to the well site prior to the church’s construction. He said the well head is too close to the road and is a safety hazard.

The church’s Facebook page encouraged church members to contact the company and voice their concerns.

Read more in the midweek Wise County Messenger.

Messenger photo by Brian Knox

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