WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:21:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Tuesday, August 4, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tuesday-august-4-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tuesday-august-4-2015/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:02:41 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93730

BOYD ISD NAMES FIELD FOR CARTWRIGHT – The Boyd Yellowjackets will now play on a football field named for the head coach that led the school to two state titles – J.G. Cartwright. It will be J.G. Cartwright Field at Yellowjacket Stadium. Boyd ISD trustees yesterday attached Cartwright’s name to the field to honor the coach that spent 38 years in the district – 35 as head coach. He won 273 games. Trustees also awarded the Boyd Elementary roof project to American Pride of Dallas.

PARADISE EYES DEFICIT BUDGET – The Paradise school board agreed unanimously on a budget with an estimated $293,095 deficit in Monday’s meeting. The district also has over $14 million of debt left from the 2008 and 2009 bonds. To give the district some relief, the board agreed to refinance the 2008 bond, saving a minimum of $34,000 per year by replacing a 5 percent interest rate with an interest rate in the 3 percent range according to their financial adviser Jason Hughes.

DECATUR PROPOSES TAX RATE – At a brief meeting Monday morning, the Decatur School Board proposed a tax rate of $1.33, a 4-cent increase from the current tax rate. The increase reflects the amount needed to fund the voter-approved bond issue. A public hearing on the tax rate and budget was set for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the DISD Administration Building.

GEAR UP – Decatur Church of Christ is having Gear Up, a free school supply event, 5-7 p.m. Sunday. Backpacks filled with school supplies will be provided to kindergartners through sixth graders who are accompanied by an adult. There will also be free haircuts, clothes, books and other services. The church is at the corner of Farm Road 51 South and Preskitt Road.

BASEBALL SIGNUPS – Decatur Baseball 2015 Fall Signups will be held the next two weekends at Decatur City Hall at the following times: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, Aug. 8 and 15; and 1-4 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 9 and 16. Ages include T-ball (age 4 by April 30, 2016), 5/6, 8U, 10U, 12U, and 14U. Call Eric at 940-389-4679 or Annie at 817-223-4928.

ROUNDUP TIME - Boyd Elementary School will hold its final kindergarten and full day pre-k round-up and readiness testing for 2015-16 from 3:30-6 p.m. today. Call the school at 940-433-9520.

ENROLLMENT FAIR – Bridgeport ISD will hold an enrollment fair 8 a.m.-8 p.m. today at the high school commons area. All returning and new students need to register.

ALZHEIMER’S SUPPORT GROUP – The Alzheimer’s (and related dementia) support group will meet at 7 tonight in the boardroom at the Wise Regional Health System west campus in Decatur. The group is for the people who are caring for folks with dementia. Call Richard, 940-255-0244.

PARKINSON’S SUPPORT – The Parkinson’s Support Group meets at 6 tonight at the West Campus of Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. Guest speaker will be a representative of Medtronics. The group meets the first Tuesday of the month.

FUNERALS – Service for Edward Yarbrough, 66, of Rhome is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

VISITATION for Bernie Thomas, 44, of Springtown is 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Coker-Hawkins.

MEMORIAL service for Timmy Joe “T.J.” Wright, 63, of Bridgeport will be held at a later date. Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

SERVICE for Berniece Bailey, 95, of Chico is pending at Hawkins-Bridgeport.

GRAVESIDE service for Michael Fortune, 41, of Bridgeport is 1:30 p.m. today at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas. Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

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Monday, August 3, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/monday-august-3-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/monday-august-3-2015/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:04:06 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93725 DRIER CONDITIONS RETURNED IN JULY – After months of above-average rainfall, July’s rainfall total of 1.43 inches was more than an inch below normal for the month. It also marked the driest month yet in 2015. However, Wise County still remains on a near-record rainfall pace, as 46.22 inches of rain has fallen in the first seven months of the year, already well-above the average annual rainfall amount. Decatur officially reached 100 degrees for the first time on July 30, and the high temperature for the month averaged 92.6 degrees, according to records kept by weather watcher Doyle Green.

FEMA DISASTER RECOVERY CENTER OPENS TODAY – A state/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will open noon today in Bridgeport for Wise County homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding May 4 to June 22. The DRC will be at Stage Theatre, 1009 Halsell St. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Specialists from the state of Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration will be available to answer questions and provide information on types of assistance available to survivors. Services are provided in English and Spanish.

BOYD ISD TRUSTEES TO NAME FOOTBALL STADIUM – Boyd ISD trustees will discuss and consider attaching a name to the district’s football stadium at a special meeting tonight. Trustees will also consider bids for the roof repair at Boyd Elementary.

WORKOUTS START – Local football, volleyball and cross country teams started fall workouts this morning.

ROUNDUP TIME – Boyd Elementary School will hold its final Kindergarten and full day pre-k round-up and readiness testing for 2015-16 from 3:30-6 p.m. Tuesday. Call the school at 940-433-9520.

FISHING TEAM MEETING – The Decatur High School Fishing Team will hold an organization meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Decatur, 1200 Preskitt Rd. It is open to all Decatur High School students and anyone interested in being a sponsor or a boat captain (must have fishing boat).

ENROLLMENT FAIR – Bridgeport ISD will hold an enrollment fair 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at the high school commons area. All returning and new students need to register.

PARADISE SCHOOL BOARD – Paradise School Board will hold a special meeting tonight to consider all matters related to the issuance and sale of Paradise ISD Unlimited Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2015. Principals will also discuss the code of conduct and student handbook at the meeting, and the board will set a date for a public hearing on the district’s budget and tax rate.

FSA COMMITTEE NOMINATIONS DUE – USDA Farm Service Agency county committee nomination forms must be postmarked or returned to the Wise County FSA office by the close of business today. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the Local Administrative Area where they are nominated. This year nominations and elections will be held in LAA 1, which includes Chico, Crafton and Bridgeport. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are online at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. Read more in the weekend Wise County Messenger or call the Wise County office, 940-627-2268.

DIABETES CLASS – Total Diabetes Care at Wise Regional is now offering monthly diabetes education classes in Bridgeport on the first Monday of the month. This month’s class is today. The classes are intended to help those with diabetes better understand and manage the disease. Beginner’s class is at 3 p.m., and advanced class is at 4 p.m. Both classes are free and will be held at the former Wise Regional-Bridgeport Campus. No RSVP required. Call Dick Gilley RN, CCRN, CDE at 940-626-1890.

FUNERALS – Graveside service for Michael Fortune, 41, of Bridgeport is 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas. Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

SERVICE for Jimmie Charles Dunlap, 79, of Jacksboro will be private at a later date. He was the father of Penny Shockey of Rhome. Coker Funeral Home in Jacksboro is handling arrangements.

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Rhome government locked in power struggle http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/rhome-government-locked-in-power-struggle/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/rhome-government-locked-in-power-struggle/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:07:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93718 At the end of the Rhome City Council meeting Tuesday night, the few who’d stuck around through closed session gathered to talk by the door before returning home.

An important decision was made that night between the council and the city police chief, and the mayor hadn’t been there to witness it, leaving of her own accord. Her nameplate, knocked over at some point during the night, rested facedown on the desk at the front of the room as discussions about life and the city went on around it.

This is the state of Rhome politics.

MEETING IN ORDER AND DISORDER

Michelle Pittman

The mayor, Michelle Pittman, and council members have argued since her election in May. The city is the center of a power struggle, and it came to a head at Tuesday’s meeting when both sides let their unhappiness be known to the public.

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Jo Ann Wilson announced at the beginning of the meeting that she felt the mayor illegally removed agenda items with no sufficient explanation. She expressed that this had happened multiple times.

Then Pittman took the microphone for a speech of her own.

“My future with the City of Rhome is uncertain, as mayor and as a member of the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department,” Pittman began.

Pittman went on to describe a work environment in which she felt pettiness and personal agenda reigned against her. Tired of the council questioning her ability to serve as both mayor and assistant fire chief, she said she believed that if she was removed from office, the downfall of the fire department would follow.

“This council has no intention of supporting me as mayor,” Pittman said as she neared the end of her speech. “I do not work for the council. I was voted in to work for the people. I hope the people will stand up and let their voice be heard, whether I continue on as mayor or not.”

Pittman then stood and walked out of the meeting to a standing ovation as confused council members looked on.

Councilman Ronnie Moore said no one on the council had any idea what Pittman was talking about in her speech or that she would leave. He told the Messenger he fully supports the fire department and that to his knowledge no one wanted to remove Fire Chief Jason Miller from his position, as Pittman claimed.

“She threw us in the floor on that one,” Moore said.

Wilson said she felt disappointed in the way Pittman conducted herself before the public.

“That was really the icing on the cake when she walked out to prove she didn’t really care about the city,” Wilson said. “It was all about her.”

When asked why she walked out of the meeting, Pittman said it was a move of utter frustration.

“It feels like I have no power to do anything,” Pittman said. “… It was my last move to reach out to the people and let them decide.”

A few audience members followed the mayor out, but most stayed for the remainder of open session. When the council moved to closed session at the end of the regular meeting, Wilson advised audience members that they could stay if they wished and that the council sometimes returned to vote after closed session, but that sometimes no action would be taken.

Most of the audience left at this point.

APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM CITY ADMINISTRATOR

Brandon Davis

In the middle of closed session, Councilwoman Dawn Davis exited the discussions and Rhome Police Chief Brandon Davis, her husband, joined the council in the back room.

Closed session discussions continued between Brandon Davis and the council before they reconvened in open session once more. The council put forward a motion to create a city administrator position, and the motion passed 4-0, with Dawn Davis abstaining from the vote.

The council then put forward a motion to hire Brandon Davis as the interim city administrator for a six-month trial period. The motion passed 3-1, with Dawn Davis abstaining and Councilman Jerry Taylor opposing the appointment.

“I’m going to take direction from the city council and take their orders,” Brandon Davis said when asked for his future plans in the position.

The next day Pittman, in an email she later forwarded to the Messenger, asked Davis to cease his city administrator duties until she could confirm the hiring was legal. Pittman mentioned in the email that Davis had already fired two city employees, which Davis confirmed. He could not say who the employees were or go into specifics as to why they were fired, but he said that the terminations were fully legal and necessary, approved by the council and had been originally run by Pittman before his hiring. Davis said Pittman neglected to take any action toward the employees.

As of press time, city attorney Walt Leonard is reviewing the minutes and documents from the council meeting to determine if all the necessary steps were taken in hiring Davis as city administrator.

“[Davis’] wife, who is on council, thankfully removed herself from the proceedings,” Leonard said.

The council is authorized to create a city administrator position under Section 1.06.031 of the Rhome city ordinances. This particular section was first adopted in March 2011, 14 years before the vote to establish Davis as administrator. The city has had an administrator in the past, though not in recent years. The ordinance states that the city administrator “shall be elected and appointed by the city council” with a 2/3 majority vote to approve the hiring.

Council members who voted for Davis expressed support for him and confidence in his ability to lead. Taylor, who voted against hiring Davis, told the Messenger that his negative vote was not because he thought Davis was incapable, but rather that he thought the council should have looked for someone with experience in city administration. The position of city administrator was not posted, and Davis was the only candidate the council considered Tuesday night.

There appeared to be confusion about the exact roles Davis will take on and whether he will continue working as police chief and city administrator at the same time. Wilson said Davis will keep both titles, “because Brandon is the type of person who can burn the candle on both ends.” Moore, however, was adamant that Davis would fill only one role.

“He is not the chief. He is the administrator,” Moore said.

Moore added that Davis will be over the police department in his capacity as administrator, but two sergeants at the station will handle day-to-day business. Davis confirmed this, also saying he will still technically hold the title of police chief for the next six months during the interim period of the city administrator job. Davis said there would be no point in hiring a new police chief at this time, as both he and the council consider his position as the city administrator to be on a trial period. Moore said that the City of Boyd recently did the same when moving their police chief to the city administrator position. No one mentioned hiring an interim police chief for Rhome, a move Boyd made.

Moore said Davis’ new position should be considered a promotion, and that he will receive only one salary for his work with the city.

Leonard said there would likely not be a legal issue should Davis choose to hold both positions, as he was elected to neither and rules concerning holding double office would not apply.

Wilson said she’d requested to put a discussion about hiring a city administrator on the city council agenda before, but Pittman removed this item of discussion, among others. Pittman confirmed that she does remove agenda items at her own discretion, but said she has also left several of Wilson’s items on agendas. Pittman said the item pertaining to the discussion of hiring a city administrator was removed because she felt it should be tabled until the council could discuss creating the new position alongside creating the next fiscal year’s budget. She said she is not opposed to hiring a city administrator, but concerned about the process in which Davis was hired.

The Messenger filed an opens records request Friday with the City of Rhome to obtain Brandon Davis’ contract. As of press time, the Messenger had not received the contract.

DISPUTE BETWEEN MAYOR AND COUNCIL

The move to hire Davis as interim city administrator was sparked by a long-standing disagreement between the mayor and council members.

Pittman said that council members have expressed displeasure with her for holding the position of mayor and working for the fire department at the same time, bringing up the issue in multiple city council meetings. Immediately after Pittman was sworn in as mayor in May, council members discussed asking her to step down as assistant fire chief out of concern that Pittman didn’t have time for both jobs. No action was ultimately taken in that regard, but the question persists.

“It’s been rather frustrating,” Wilson said. “I don’t think she was not able to do it (the job of mayor); I think she did not have the time to do it.”

Council members insisted they had no problems with Pittman personally, just professionally. Wilson, Moore and Brandon Davis all spoke of calls and emails to Pittman not being returned and of matters Pittman has been asked to handle that she did not.

“My perception is the council felt the need to establish an administrator because the daily business is not getting done,” Davis said.

Pittman refuted claims that she ignores calls and emails, saying she only ignored those that were made for the sole purpose of harassing her. Davis said calls he made to Pittman concerned important city business.

Pittman works another job in addition to her roles as mayor and in the fire department, and she said that it’s possible the council members don’t see the work she does for the city on her off time.

“If I’m going to be punished for not responding to their beck and call while I’m at work, I might as well quit,” Pittman said.

Councilman Taylor, appointed to the council, by the council, for the purpose of acting as a liaison to the fire department, sees both sides of the issue. He said he recognizes some of the council members’ complaints against Pittman, though because he often works outside of city hall he doesn’t see them to the same extent the others do. He also added that long-standing resentment between the fire department and the council might have rolled over onto Pittman.

“I believe there were issues before she was mayor,” Taylor said. “They were wanting to condemn her before she even tried to balance it,” he added, referencing the city council meeting where Pittman was sworn in and then pressed about her ability to handle both positions.

The exact starting point of the tension between the fire department and the council is unclear, but the fact that tension exists was acknowledged all around. Davis said he planned to meet with the fire department to discuss their issues with the council and to reassure them they are wanted and needed in the city. Taylor, brought on to bridge the gap between the two departments, said he’s tried everything he can think of to ease the mutual distrust.

“It’s very, very unfortunate, this ugliness between the two departments,” Taylor said. “It’s going to sink this city if we cannot fix it.”

MOVING FORWARD

Brandon Davis said he plans to continue working as city administrator, despite Mayor Michelle Pittman’s desist order. “Her email has no bearing as the city council is the governing body,” Davis said. “I’m going to take care of business so the city can move forward.”

Moving the city forward was one of few common themes on both sides of the power struggle in Rhome. Davis, Ronnie Moore, Joann Wilson, Jerry Taylor and Pittman all expressed love for the city.

The citizens of Rhome, many of whom called and emailed the Messenger to express their viewpoints, also want progress.

Kemp Akeman, who supports Pittman as mayor, said, “There’s going to have to be some peace there … The attendance at the council meeting the other night is an indication people are unhappy.”

Deborah Becraft, another Rhome resident who stands by the council, said she likes Pittman personally but not as mayor.

“I cannot back a mayor who doesn’t put the city first,” Becraft said.

Ultimately, the citizens elected both the council members and the mayor, and while it would usually be up to them to decide who might stay and who might go, Pittman indicated that she’s ready to resign and walk away from her position as mayor if she feels she needs to.

“I would love to make a difference,” Pittman said. “But if I’m boxed in and can’t function as mayor that seems like a lot of time to waste doing nothing.”

Editor’s Note:
Reporter Racey Burden received a tremendous number of phone calls and emails from concerned citizens of Rhome. While trying to meet deadline, she was not able to use everyone’s comments and questions.
Citizens who still have comments they would like to share in regard to this story and the situation in Rhome are encouraged to submit a letter to the editor.

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3 arrested after crashing stolen car http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/3-arrested-after-crashing-stolen-car/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/3-arrested-after-crashing-stolen-car/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:05:56 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93714 Three men who crashed a stolen car near Boyd Tuesday were later arrested on numerous charges.

Wesley Daniel Morphis

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said an accident was reported around 3 p.m. when a 2000 black Chevy Impala crashed into a fence on County Road 4698 west of Boyd.

The three men in the car quickly left the scene, likely because the car had been reported stolen by the Fort Worth Police Department.

“Witnesses on the scene said a green pickup picked up the three males and dropped them off on (Texas) 114,” Walker said. “Officers found the three men walking east toward Boyd and identified those three as the suspects.”

One of the men, Wesley Daniel Morphis, 27, of Arlington had a gun that turned out to be stolen from Euless in his front pocket.

Forrest Matthew Nelson

Officers also found backpacks that included several tools that are commonly used in car burglaries, as well as a syringe with clear liquid inside. That liquid was later determined to be methamphetamine.

Morphis was arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle, theft of a firearm and two counts of unlawful carrying of a weapon. Jail records indicate Morphis is also being held on a driving while intoxicated warrant out of Tarrant County.

The two other men, Forrest Matthew Nelson, 27, of Duncanville and Kristopher Robert Wesley Holcomb, 25, of Amarillo were both charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia.

All three remained in the Wise County Jail Friday.

Kristopher Robert Wesley Holcomb

The Boyd Volunteer Fire Department responded to the accident, and Wise County EMS was called to check out one of the suspects who complained of lung pain.

The Boyd Police Department, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety all responded to the call.

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Wise County’s Most Venemous http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/wise-countys-most-venemous/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/wise-countys-most-venemous/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:03:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93709 The buffet is open, and the real estate market is prime. With more food and more foliage, snakes in Wise County are more active than usual.

Jennifer Barrow, a Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist in Decatur, said wet weather in recent years has created pristine conditions for local reptiles.

Season of the Snake

SEASON OF THE SNAKE – A Cottonmouth reveals the characteristic for which it’s named, a white-lined mouth. Also called a Water Moccasin, it prefers a wet ecosystem. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“The rain that we’ve had currently just moves them around,” she said. “But the last couple of years we’ve had good years of rainfall. The good conditions that we’ve had increases food sources, so they may move around a little bit more seeking that food source.”

As activity increases, so do interactions with humans, Barrow said. Depending on the type of snake involved, there are several ways this can go. Most snakes just prefer to leave the area.

SEASON OF THE SNAKE – A Diamondback Rattlesnake displays its rattles. The snake can be readily found in western Wise County. Photo courtesy David Hausman

“Most snakebites occur when somebody is messing with the snake,” she said. “With a copperhead, you may reach into your flowerbed, and they’ll hit you because they think you’re reaching for them. From my personal experiences, most snakes just want to get away from you. They don’t want to strike you.”

Wise County Emergency Medical Services Administrator Charles Dillard said even when a venomous snake does strike, the odds are still in favor of the recipient.

“Sometimes there’s a dry bite, where a venomous snake doesn’t inject the venom,” Dillard said. “As far as the actual venom in the system, sometimes they won’t actually inject it. Maybe they’ve just fed on another animal, so there’s less to distribute.”

Dillard said snakebite victims have to be closely observed to determine a course of treatments. Antivenom isn’t always necessary and can even make the victim more ill. Wise Regional Health System stocks a limited supply but can expedite deliveries for more, if needed.

Barrow said Wise County residents face possible interactions with four types of venomous snakes – Copperheads, Cottonmouths, which are also called Water Moccasins, Diamondback Rattlesnakes and Timber Rattlesnakes, which are a state-protected species and illegal to kill.

Snakes

Each snake has a preferred neighborhood, she said. Western Wise County is home to Diamondback Rattlesnakes, while Decatur marks the Western edge of the Timber Rattlesnake’s territory. Cottonmouths can be found in Lake Bridgeport or other local water sources, while Copperheads prefer areas with dense foliage to use their natural camouflage.

A recent increase in ground cover has made conditions more favorable for all snakes, Barrow said, and rains from previous years have increased the food supply.

“It seemed like it had them moving around a little bit more, but right now a lot of that’s dried up,” she said. “The water’s gone back, and it’s where it’s supposed to be. Now there are more rats, mice and bugs around houses. They’re probably coming in attracted to those food sources.”

Increased snake traffic is likely to cause friction between residents and reptiles, Barrow said, but she encourages everyone to avoid killing snakes, if possible.

“I tell people, if they’re around your house and you’ve got kids, it’s up to you,” she said. “But out on the ranch, they’re just doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re eating rats and mice or bugs. There’s no reason to kill them.”

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Baseball/softball complex upgrades move forward http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/baseballsoftball-complex-upgrades-move-forward/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/baseballsoftball-complex-upgrades-move-forward/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:01:41 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93704 Plans are coming together for upgrades at Decatur ISD’s baseball and softball facility.

At Monday’s school board meeting, trustees reviewed plans for the addition of restrooms and press boxes for both the softball and baseball fields. Those projects were included in the 2015 school bond issue.

Much of the discussion was about where the restrooms would be located. The original plans had the restrooms just west of the batting cages, although there had been some discussion of moving them to another location farther east of the batting cages.

Board President Kevin Haney said the area west of the batting cages has sometimes been utilized when the field was too wet for practice, and moving the restrooms up the hill to the east could also include a ticket booth for times when money is collected at playoff games or tournaments.

“It’s a little farther to walk, but if you think about how far you have to walk at the football stadium, or a track meet or something, it’s probably less distance than some of those,” he said.

But the distance could be a bigger hurdle for those in wheelchairs, said board member Jeff Elder. He pointed out that the restrooms would be located farther from the handicapped parking and seating.

After some discussion, the board directed Superintendent Rod Townsend to move forward with the design plan, keeping the restrooms on the west side of the batting cages.

The press boxes would be located on top of the existing concession stands, nearly doubling the size of the current baseball press box. The softball field does not currently have a press box.

In other business, the board:

  • heard a presentation from Schneider Electric about potential upgrades that would save the district money in energy costs;
  • agreed to sell two of three pieces of property the district owned due to tax foreclosure;
  • accepted the resignation of Deputy Superintendent Gary Micinski, who was hired last week to be the Chief Financial Officer at Irving ISD;
  • honored Sandy Nation from Central Administration as the support staff employee of the month.
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A&M student returns home to study local government http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/am-student-returns-home-to-study-local-government/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/am-student-returns-home-to-study-local-government/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 20:00:05 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93702 Logan Enis returned to Wise County this summer. But the 2012 Alvord High School graduate didn’t come back to spend his days on Lake Bridgeport or simply to catch up with old friends.

He was an intern in the Wise County judge’s office, shadowing County Judge J.D. Clark.

Local Government 101

LOCAL GOVERNMENT 101 – Texas A&M senior Logan Enis (right) takes notes during a meeting with Wise County Judge J.D. Clark. Enis, an Alvord native, interned with Clark this summer, earning nine hours of college credit and a better understanding of local government. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Enis, 21, is a senior at Texas A&M University, majoring in political science and economics. Many of his classmates left College Station for Austin or Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes.

“But I didn’t want to be getting coffee at an internship,” he said. “I wanted to do some hands-on stuff.”

Enis returned home during a tumultuous time for local government as officials faced the effects of flooding, controversy surrounding same-sex marriage and intense number crunching in a tight budget year.

“It was interesting to see how all the different counties dealt with current events, like same-sex marriage and flood disaster,” Enis said. “They had different approaches … I think Wise County handled it well.

“My first week here we had a meeting with FEMA and Homeland Security.”

Enis said he’s learned more than he expected, gaining insight into the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the National Association of Counties, and having a front-row seat to county budget negotiations.

“It’s such a tight budget year. He’s got to see a lot of haggling and arguing,” Clark said. “He’s gotten to see a lot of different perspectives, and it’s good because it’s not just mine. He’s got to hear everybody’s pitches and everybody’s arguments and ‘why this is best for my department.”

“We talked a lot about how you communicate with people,” Clark continued. “He’s been able to see lots of different types of communication, what’s effective and what’s not, and the value of having everyone involved.”

Enis first became interested in politics and current events in high school and became involved in student government during his first two years of college at Tarleton State University. When he transferred to A&M, he decided to pursue it as a degree.

He had never met Clark but began following his campaign and was particularly impressed with Clark’s implementation of mobile commissioners meetings and his efforts to involve the public. The A&M student felt like he could learn a lot from the young judge.

“It was good accountability for me,” Clark said. “If I was going to have a hard time explaining something to Logan, then I was going to have a hard time explaining it to the public.”

Enis said his experiences this summer will enable him to share the local government perspective in class discussions.

“In a lot of our classes, we debate about different policies and how they affect the federal government and other countries’ government and agencies,” he said. “We never really talk about local government, but with this experience I’ll be able to bring a different perspective to the table.”

He used law enforcement as an example and said after hearing the sheriff’s requests in budget discussions he might be better able to explain how government affects the operation of the department.

“They talk about it in broad stroke [in class],” he said, “but I can dive more into it and how policies really do affect it because I got to hear the sheriff’s claims.”

Enis plans to graduate in May 2016 then pursue a master’s in educational administration. He’s also considering law school and hasn’t ruled out the idea of running for office one day.

“I could definitely see myself coming back to Wise County and getting involved in local government,” he said. “If [the opportunity] presents itself … start small and go from there.”

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EMS generator vanishes from trailer http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/ems-generator-vanishes-from-trailer/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/ems-generator-vanishes-from-trailer/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:58:33 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93699 A generator was stolen from Wise County Emergency Medical Services almost six months ago, and there are no leads in sight.

It was discussed in Monday’s regular county commissioners meeting after Auditor Ann McCuiston mentioned the piece of equipment was missing.

“How is it missing?” asked Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White.

EMS Administrator Charles Dillard said the generator, valued at $1,300, was in a locked trailer parked behind the EMS station on Rose Avenue in Decatur. In February, the trailer was discovered unlocked and the generator missing.

There was a second generator in the trailer, but it was untouched.

“It’s the size of a small suitcase,” Dillard told the Messenger Thursday. “We use it to power a light tower that we set up if we’re going to be at a scene for a long time, and we also use it to run misting fans for rehab stations [for firefighters and medics] in hot weather.”

Dillard said when it was discovered missing, a text message was sent to all EMS employees asking if anyone had borrowed it or knew where it was located. No one responded.

“We started asking other supervisors that we thought had access to it and knew the combination to the lock, and no one seemed to know anything,” he said. “They remembered last using it in January or December.”

Dillard turned it in to the sheriff’s office, and Sgt. Investigator Clint Caddell was assigned to the case.

Sheriff David Walker said Caddell interviewed EMS supervisors and employees that would have had access to the generator and “came up with no leads.”

He told commissioners Monday that the equipment had been entered into a statewide database of stolen items so that it would be caught if someone tried to pawn it.

Walker said his department referred it back to Dillard for continued internal investigation. Dillard told the Messenger ordering polygraph tests was discussed, but none were conducted. He said it was possible that the generator was stolen by an EMS employee.

“I’m not going to rule it out,” he said. “It could have been used by someone, and they just didn’t get it locked well.”

Dillard said the trailer in which the generators are stored is backed into a space behind the station. There is a side door and a back door on the trailer. The side door was still locked, but an open lock hung in the clasp of the back door when it was discovered the generator was missing.

Dillard said there is another business behind the EMS building and a dirt road that comes from that side of the property, giving quick access to the area where the trailer is parked.

“Someone could drive right up to it,” he said. “It’d be fairly easy to grab it and go, but I’m surprised they didn’t grab both of them. That’s what’s weird.”

Dillard said there is one security camera at the facility, but the video is poor quality.

“If a car drove around back, we could tell what the car is but not read the license plate,” he said. “You could stand side-by-side with someone and we could tell male or female, but you can’t identify anyone from it.”

In the commissioners meeting, County Systems Administrator Steven Melton said, “It’s a cheap camera; it’s not anything special.” He said he and Sheriff Walker had enough equipment between the two of them to set up a better system for Dillard.

Dillard also noted in a conversation Thursday that the current camera points directly at the truck bay where they’ve had issues before, not the back of the parking lot where the trailer sits.

He also noted a homeless woman has previously hung out behind the station and was seen in the bay more than once. He said Decatur police officers have visited the station at least twice to talk to her.

Commissioner White said it appears whoever took it must have known the whereabouts of staff.

“To unlock a combination lock, to take it from behind the office, you have to know something about where people are at,” he said. “It’s kind of scary to think that they can unlock a combination lock, get a generator and haul it off with all the other stuff that is around there.”

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Rhome citizens’ protests put bus barn plans on hold http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/rhome-citizens-protests-put-bus-barn-plans-on-hold/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/rhome-citizens-protests-put-bus-barn-plans-on-hold/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:57:51 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93697 A contentious debate at the Rhome City Council meeting Tuesday night led to Northwest ISD’s plans for a bus barn within the city being temporarily placed on hold.

Twisting Turns

TWISTING TURNS – Rhome citizens are concerned about plans to build a Northwest ISD bus barn along County Road 4651, saying the road is too dangerous for a large amount of bus traffic. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Representatives from the school district, led by engineer Mickey Thomas, presented the bus barn plans to a room packed with Rhome citizens. The building of the structure itself was not in contention that night, but Thomas asked the city council to grant variances on the city building code. The requested variances would allow Northwest ISD to build the barn made entirely of prefabricated sheet metal with no masonry, to put a metal screening fence instead of a brick fence around the building’s dumpster, to not install landscaping and to not install an irrigation system.

Thomas said the district’s future plans call for a high school to be built next to the bus barn, and at that point the barn would be brought up to city code completely.

After Thomas’ initial presentation, the floor was opened to public comment. Several citizens expressed concern with the future placement of the bus barn itself, along County Road 4651. They questioned whether the road could handle the projected load of up to 50 buses running every morning and afternoon, especially at a 90-degree turn on the road where only one bus could pass through at a time.

“I am very much against that road,” Councilman Ronnie Moore said. “It will be dangerous.”

Bus traffic on the road, predicted to run from 5:30 to 8 a.m., then again from 2 to 4:30 p.m., worried those living in the neighborhood next to the future site. They also expressed dismay at the variance requests, saying a large metal barn would lower property values in the area.

“To me, this is kind of insulting that they’re coming to you with this,” resident Rick Young said.

Councilwoman Jo Ann Wilson told the citizens at the meeting there was ultimately no way to stop the building of the barn itself, as the land along CR 4651 belongs to Northwest ISD. But she added, “We can stall them, or we can go for it.”

Multiple audience members called out, “Stall!”

The council voted 4-0 to reject the variance requests, with Wilson abstaining from voting as mayor pro tem and acting meeting coordinator.

Later in the meeting, Thomas spoke again and said he’d requested a traffic study of CR 4651 be completed before plans for the bus barn moved forward. The crowd cheered at the announcement.

Another variance request put before the council by Will Reed asked for a pole sign at Taco Casa instead of the monument sign (a ground sign) required by city ordinance.

“Continued expansion of pole signs degrades the scenery,” said Rhome citizen Sam Eason, who passed out pictures of the planet Jupiter taken from his yard to illustrate what the view of the night sky looks like in Rhome without light pollution.

The council asked the crowd if they wanted to grant the variance to the fast food restaurant, and many shouted “No!”

The council voted 4-0 to deny the request.

In other action, the council:

  • approved the interlocal agreement with Wise County Precinct 3 to complete work on the police station and park parking lots.
  • agreed to consider bids for park maintenance work to repair damage caused by flooding.
  • approved a budget of $8,850 for the Parks Board’s Rhome Fall Festival in September.
  • set a budget workshop for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6.
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Chico School Board ponders how to complete maintenance projects http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-ponders-how-to-complete-maintenance-projects/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-ponders-how-to-complete-maintenance-projects/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:56:37 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93694 The Chico School Board discussed Thursday how to address the district’s more pressing maintenance and construction issues that remain unresolved after the failure of the May bond election.

The cost estimate for the new middle school roof was $715,518, but several on the board think the project could be done for less with a Durolast overlay.

“We can save $300,000 to $400,000 by going with the Durolast,” board member Brian Hand said.

Board member Mark Tate said if that’s true, he would support that action.

The board also touched on the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements not currently being met at the baseball/softball facilities. They are not considered handicapped accessible, and there are no bathrooms or concession stands.

School board members discussed seeking the help of the Texas Association of School Boards to consolidate into one project the roof, middle school rooftop A/C units, LED lighting and the work at the baseball/softball facilities.

No action was taken.

As a final measure, the board unanimously agreed to hire Shelly Laaser to manage the district’s food service program.

Laaser already runs programs in Decatur and Bridgeport ISDs, and the board hopes she can keep Chico from losing money in food distribution.

“We’re not trying to cut quality,” Jones said. “We don’t want to make money, but we don’t want to lose money.”

Board member Paul Cantrell, who has served the district 16 years, said the program has lost money every year that he can remember.

Jones also suggested that the program may consider using NUTRIKIDS methods.

“NUTRIKIDS helps schools track waste and consumption,” Jones said. “They also provide ways to eliminate waste. For example, they may have an idea of how leftover hamburger patties can be ground up and used the next day for the meat in enchiladas. That’s just an example of something they might offer, but it’s about eliminating waste.”

Laaser’s services will cost the district $24,000.

The board will meet Aug. 17 at the ag barn to tour the facility.

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Texas authors coming to local library http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/texas-authors-coming-to-local-library/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/texas-authors-coming-to-local-library/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:55:48 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93692 Through the Tocker Foundation and the Writers’ League of Texas, the Chico Public Library will host “Texas Writes” – a workshop and discussion featuring published authors Jeramey Kraatz and Meg Gardiner – 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.

The event is one that librarian Michelle Slonaker hopes will bring attention and interest to the small-town library that has been a staple in Chico for 40 years.

Honored Guests

HONORED GUESTS – Chico Public Library and Librarian Michelle Slonaker (pictured) will host the Texas Writes program featuring authors Jeramy Kraatz and Meg Gardiner Saturday, Aug. 8. The accomplished duo have connections to Texas and will speak on a variety of topics. The event is free. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It’s very important to offer diverse programs,” Slonaker said. “We hope that people are as excited as we are. It’s always fun to meet an author and get the chance to hear their ideas.”

The opportunity to host “Texas Writes” in Chico presented itself to Slonaker at the Texas Libraries Association conference in April, where she filled out an application and was eventually notified that Chico was one of the libraries selected.

After the selection, Slonaker was asked to choose two genres for the workshop.

“Young adult is quite popular,” she said. “It crosses over well with adults, too. And we chose mystery and suspense because it seems like everybody loves a good mystery novel.”

In Kraatz and Gardiner, the Chico presentation will feature two talented authors with a myriad of accomplishments.

Kraatz grew up in Odessa before attending Texas Christian University where he studied advertising and English.

He went on to study nonfiction writing at Columbia University before penning “The Cloak Society,” a series of young adult novels that feature characters with superhuman powers, published by HarperCollins.

He currently teaches writing at TCU.

Gardiner was born in Oklahoma City but raised in Santa Barbara, Calif.

She graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in economics before graduating from Stanford Law.

Gardiner has written 12 thrillers, and many have gained notoriety.

Stephen King said Gardiner’s Evan Delaney series is “simply put, the finest crime-suspense series I’ve come across in the last 20 years.”

Her novel “China Lake” won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original and her latest, “Phantom Instinct,” was chosen one of The Best Books of the Summer by Oprah’s O Magazine.

She is also a three-time “Jeopardy!” champion, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and current resident of Austin.

Kraatz’ presentation will be about the importance of conflict in a story, and Gardiner’s time will focus on the basic building block to writing a “killer story.”

For those in attendance, there will be refreshments and prizes at the free event.

Aside from “Texas Writes,” the Chico library will continue to provide activities throughout the summer.

“We’ve always got stuff going on,” Slonaker said. “We received a grant for LEGO Robotics kits, and we’re participating in the EDGE Initiative, which has provided us with four laptops.”

Slonaker is also planning a trip to New York to receive training that will make the Chico library a Family Place Library with the ability to host special programs geared toward parents and young children under the age of 3.

The library’s summer reading program continues through most of August.

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Suspected drug dealer arrested again http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/suspected-drug-dealer-arrested-again/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/suspected-drug-dealer-arrested-again/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:54:28 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93689 A Newark man awaiting trial for dealing drugs has been arrested once again on drug charges.

Jackie Glenn Minshew

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said his office had received complaints of drug activity resuming at the home of Jackie Glenn Minshew, 63.

Following a recent traffic stop in which drugs were discovered, the person arrested told investigators the drugs came from Minshew.

After securing a search warrant, officers went to Minshew’s home July 22 and found him in possession of a small amount of drugs. He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram, possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces and possession of a dangerous drug.

Minshew had previously been arrested Jan. 24, 2013, following an undercover investigation by the sheriff’s office. After selling drugs to an undercover officer, deputies raided his home in the 200 block of County Road 4874, confiscating 6 ounces of methamphetamine.

Minshew was charged with possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams with intent to deliver.

He remained in jail until March 5, 2013, before posting bond and being released.

In November of 2013, Minshew was indicted in the case for manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance 4-200 grams.

Last October, sheriff’s officers returned to Minshew’s home to serve a misdemeanor arrest warrant. Based on information gathered at the scene, a search warrant was obtained and executed, and officers found and confiscated 128 grams of methamphetamine.

Minshew was arrested again for possession of a controlled substance and manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance, both 4-200 grams. He remained in jail until March 20 of this year before posting bond and being released.

He remained out of jail until his arrest July 22.

Walker said he has heard from neighbors who are frustrated that Minshew continues to deal drugs after he gets out of the county jail.

“It’s not only a concern for neighbors, but the rest of the county as well,” Walker said. “He’s supplying a large amount of drugs to the area.”

Minshew’s original case from the arrest in 2013 has not yet gone to trial, and he has not been indicted for the October 2014 arrest, according to court records.

Following the latest arrest, the Wise County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to hold his bond insufficient, meaning Minshew will be held in the county jail without bond.

He is scheduled for trial in November on the 2013 charge.

Walker said he is also trying to see if federal charges could be filed against Minshew.

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Decatur School Board to propose tax rate Monday http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-school-board-to-propose-tax-rate-monday/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-school-board-to-propose-tax-rate-monday/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:52:57 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93685 The Decatur School Board will meet early Monday morning to propose a tax rate for the upcoming school year.

At last Monday’s regular meeting, Deputy Superintendent Gary Micinski said he is working on a budget that includes a four-cent increase in the debt service portion of the tax rate. With the maintenance and operation tax rate expected to remain the same, the board will likely propose a tax rate of $1.33.

Micinski explained that while the recent tax values in the district were down 0.7 percent, it could have been worse.

“We’re down slightly, but the bottom line is you’re not down a material amount, and that’s why your debt service is pretty good,” he said.

The four cents is actually slightly less than the 4.2-cent increase the school district told voters they would be required to pay for the bond package passed in May.

The budget could include pay raises for teachers, Micinski said, which would work out to about a 2.4 percent overall increase.

“We want every teacher to experience a $1,200 cash increase,” he said. ” … If you take what they are going to earn this year compared to last year, they should gain $1,200.”

That would cost the district $253,000.

Monday’s meeting is at 7:30 a.m. at the DISD Administration Building.

—–

The district also announced last week that they had saved even more money than previously thought from the recent issuing of bonds from the 2015 bond issue and refinancing $4.55 million in bonds from the 2003 bond issue that are callable in August.

The action was expected to save nearly $430,000 over the life of the bonds, but the savings will instead be more than $525,000.

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FSA committee nominations due http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/fsa-committee-nominations-due/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/fsa-committee-nominations-due/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:41:39 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93683 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee nomination forms must be postmarked or returned to the Wise County FSA office by the close of business Monday, Aug. 3.

Farmers, ranchers and landowners are encouraged to nominate candidates to serve on their local FSA county committee.

“County committees are unique to FSA and instrumental in implementing federal farm programs at the local level,” said Wise County USDA FSA Executive Director Tracy Meadows.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the Local Administrative Area where they are nominated.

This year nominations and elections will be held in LAA 1, which includes Chico, Crafton and Bridgeport.

Producers may nominate themselves or others as candidates. Organizations representing minorities and women farmers and ranchers may also nominate candidates. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A.

The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are online at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 9, 2015. Ballots are due back in the Wise County FSA disaster, conservation, commodity and price support programs, as well as other important federal farm program issues. County committees consist of three to 11 members.

For information, call the Wise County FSA office at 940-627-2268.

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Boyd ISD to consider naming football stadium http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/boyd-isd-to-consider-naming-football-stadium/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/boyd-isd-to-consider-naming-football-stadium/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:40:58 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93681 After setting a policy for naming facilities within the district last month, Boyd school board members will consider attaching a name to the high school football stadium Monday.

No name was listed on the agenda, but Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West did indicate the board would consider honoring retired coach J.G. Cartwright.

“There could be any number of names for it,” West said. “But they want to honor him by putting his name on the football stadium.”

Cartwright retired in June 2012 after working within the district since 1974. He spent 35 years as the Boyd head coach, winning state titles in 1983 and 2004. His Yellowjackets won 274 games.

In other business, trustees will select a contractor to replace the roof at Boyd Elementary.

The deadline for bid proposals ended July 27. West said proposals from the nine contractors that responded to the district’s request ranged from $80,000 to $120,000.

The district received an insurance settlement of $104,185 for the damage from spring storms.

Work is expected to begin immediately.

“We had it in the request to have the job done by Aug. 17 – teacher in-service,” West said. “That gives a two-week window. Everyone was thinking in the pre-bid meeting that the job would take a week.”

Trustees will also hold a short closed session to consider the hiring of a few teachers.

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Boyd plans to build impound lot http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/boyd-plans-to-build-impound-lot/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/boyd-plans-to-build-impound-lot/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:40:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93679 The city of Boyd plans to begin construction soon on its impound lot on land near its water and wastewater treatment facility.

The city council will be presented an ordinance Tuesday to establish the fees and policies for the lot. Police Chief Dwayne Taylor said he hopes it will open in September.

“If the ordinance is approved Tuesday, we hope to begin construction Wednesday,” Taylor said.

He noted the one delay could be scheduling work with Wise County Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance for improving the parking lot. Taylor said Boyd will be providing the materials for the work.

The city budgeted $11,000 for the lot in its 2014-15 budget, according to Taylor and City Administrator Greg Arrington.

Both stated it’s a good move for the city, instead of having a third party involved. Kemp’s Wrecker Service currently handles the towing and storage after a vehicle is impounded following a traffic stop.

Taylor said Kemp’s will tow vehicles to the Boyd lot, and the city will collect all fees and pay the wrecker for its services.

“Instead of paying a private company that money would go to the city,” Taylor said.

Arrington added: “We have the facility, and it would be better for people if we are controlling it and not passing them off to a third party.”

Also Tuesday, Arrington will make a second presentation of the budget to the council and discuss options with the tax rate.

“There’s three or four decisions we need to make on this year’s budget,” Arrington said. “With the present budget, we meet every one of our first-year goals and two of our second-year goals.”

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Bridgeport City Council calls special election http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/bridgeport-city-council-calls-special-election/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/bridgeport-city-council-calls-special-election/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:39:36 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93677 Bridgeport City Council voted unanimously to call a special city election in November concerning the formation of a Home Rule Charter Commission. The election, to be held Nov. 3, will allow voters to decide whether the 23 citizens named by the council should be approved as members of the Home Rule Charter Commission. If approved by the voters, the commission will draft a home rule charter to be placed on the ballot for the May 2016 election.

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Paradise School Board meeting preview http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/paradise-school-board-meeting-preview/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/paradise-school-board-meeting-preview/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:38:53 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93675 Paradise School Board will hold a special meeting Monday, Aug. 3, to consider all matters related to the issuance and sale of Paradise ISD Unlimited Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2015. Principals will also discuss the code of conduct and student handbook at the meeting, and the board will set a date for a public hearing on the district’s budget and tax rate. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom, 338 School House Rd.

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2015 Football Preview: Going back to work – Eagles, Fuller start second year http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-going-back-to-work-eagles-fuller-start-second-year/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-going-back-to-work-eagles-fuller-start-second-year/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:35:04 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93673 From the opening whistle on the first day of practice last year, the Decatur Eagles were in a rush.

A new coaching staff had just weeks to install a new offense and defense and get to know personnel.

Hard at Work

HARD AT WORK – Decatur athletes hit the gym Thursday for the final workouts before the start of the football season Monday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But the hectic pace paid off with the Eagles finishing 7-4 in their first season under Mike Fuller. An overtime loss to Graham narrowly kept Decatur from the 4-4A Division I title and Stephenville took down the Eagles in bi-district in three overtimes.

Now, Fuller expects the Eagles to hit the ground running Monday morning at 8:30.

“The biggest reason is no staff turnover. We have all our high school and middle school coaches back,” Fuller said. “We’ll spend a lot less time teaching.”

COOLING OFF – Players from across Wise County will hit the field Monday for the start of fall practice. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Eagles bring back all-district players at key positions on both sides of the ball. Payton McAlister returns after scoring 29 touchdowns, rushing for 1,172 yards and adding 684 receiving. Receiver Ryan Durdon is back after scoring 10 touchdowns and hauling in 57 catches for 900 yards.

Defensively, Cole Vaughan and Mason Baur return at linebacker and Brandon Garza, Tyler Ticknor and Durdon in the secondary.

But the Eagles do have a pair of big question marks entering camp – quarterback and offensive line.

At quarterback, the Eagles must replace dual threat Justin Myers, who threw for 2,305 yards and rushed for 1,313 in his lone season as the starter.

Four players enter the start of the season battling for the job – Jake Kemp, Ticknor, Parker Hicks and Dane Fitzgerald, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his back.

“We have a few guys competing for the spot,” Fuller said. “They are all different. Jake has the experience and has the strongest arm. Ticknor is a starter on defense but he can do a lot and is a really good runner. Parker is coming back out and will either help us at receiver or quarterback. Dane is coming off an injury but he’s a talented young player.”

In front of whoever wins the quarterback job will be a young offensive line. Terry Lee Hogan and Nate Watkins are the lone two experienced linemen.

“Everyone else is brand new,” Fuller said. “But we have some young guys that look good.”

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2015 Football Preview: Bulls hope to build off 2014 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bulls-hope-to-build-off-2014/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/2015-football-preview-bulls-hope-to-build-off-2014/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:33:19 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=93669 Coming off of an injury-plagued, winless season in 2013, the Bridgeport Bulls turned the program around in 2014.

The Bulls went 4-1 in District 3-4A Division II and won its bi-district game. After last year’s 8-4 season, expectations are high heading into a 2015 campaign that starts Monday at 8 a.m.

“This year, it’s more of an expectation that we should have a good season,” said Bridgeport coach Danny Henson. “We have a lot of kids returning and we have the same schedule as last season.”

The Bulls return 14 starters – eight on defense and six on offense.

“Our defense has a lot of experience coming back with kids who started and others who got a lot of time,” he said. “We hope that turns into a really good defense for us.”

Leading the defensive returners are Reggie Lane, Chance Pierce, Anthony Ortiz, Jacob Roberts, Chase Williams, Lane Morrow and Dillon McAllister.

Offensively, the Bulls bring back an all-state receiver in Keenan Holdman, who caught 76 passes for 1,069 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. All-district backs Brazier Talley and Grayson Mathes also return.

Blake Boyd, Tyler Banner and Nate Ramirez come back to the offensive line.

The Bulls will be breaking in a new quarterback. Last year’s backup Corbin Coleman is expected to take over the job.

Henson said that depth may be the biggest challenge for the Bulls.

That depth already took a hit with a knee injury to returning all-district receiver Chayton Stotts.

“He was also our backup quarterback,” Henson said. “He was going to play a lot of roles for us this season. He was probably going to be our punter this year. We hope that it doesn’t continue.”

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