WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Wed, 27 May 2015 13:54:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Wednesday, May 27, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/wednesday-may-27-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/wednesday-may-27-2015/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 13:23:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91443 BODY IDENTIFIED, MISSING WOMAN FOUND - The body of a man found inside a burning travel trailer near Chico last Thursday has been identified as Lawrence Roy Roberts, 58, of Chico. The positive identification was made by the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office, which also ruled the death a homicide. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said the ME's office ruled Roberts died from a gun shot wound. His body was in one of three fires on the property at 1122 Farm Road 2952 southwest of Chico last Thursday night. Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, of Chico was arrested Friday and charged with arson in the case. No murder charges have been filed. A missing woman wanted in connection with the case was also found safe Tuesday, Walker said. Teresa Jan Rose, 41, of Chico was found in Bridgeport and is cooperating with investigators, who are seeking the couple who gave Rose a ride Thursday night. To report information about the case, contact Sergeant Josh Reynolds with the Wise County Sheriff's Office at 940-627-5971 ext. 263 or via e-mail at reynoldsj@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us. Service for Roberts is pending at Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport.]]>

BODY IDENTIFIED, MISSING WOMAN FOUND – The body of a man found inside a burning travel trailer near Chico last Thursday has been identified as Lawrence Roy Roberts, 58, of Chico. The positive identification was made by the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office, which also ruled the death a homicide. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said the ME’s office ruled Roberts died from a gun shot wound. His body was in one of three fires on the property at 1122 Farm Road 2952 southwest of Chico last Thursday night. Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, of Chico was arrested Friday and charged with arson in the case. No murder charges have been filed. A missing woman wanted in connection with the case was also found safe Tuesday, Walker said. Teresa Jan Rose, 41, of Chico was found in Bridgeport and is cooperating with investigators, who are seeking the couple who gave Rose a ride Thursday night. To report information about the case, contact Sergeant Josh Reynolds with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971 ext. 263 or via e-mail at reynoldsj@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us. Service for Roberts is pending at Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

Weatherford-College-Update-Cut-In-Big-BoxTRUCK FIRE SHUTS DOWN 81/287 – The northbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 in front of Allsup’s in Decatur were shut down just before 5 a.m. Wednesday when an 18-wheeler caught fire. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said it hit another truck that had slowed to turn into Allsup’s. Sam Russo of Louisiana, who was driving a TMI Logistics truck loaded with oil and gas equipment, said he was on his way to Pampa when he was hit from behind. A door from the 18-wheeler driven by Jesus Salinas of Decatur was hanging off the equipment on Russo’s trailer. Russo was parked in the Allsup’s parking lot, while the burned truck sat in the exit for Farm Road 51 South. Neither driver was injured. Texas Department of Transportation and wrecker crews worked to clean diesel and debris from the road. Wise County sheriff’s deputies were directing northbound traffic to Business 287 south of town. The road was expected to reopen around 8 a.m.

LAKE OFFICIALLY FULL – Yesterday’s storms pushed Lake Bridgeport above conservation level overnight. Conservation level is 836 feet above sea level. As of 7 a.m., the lake was at 836.12 feet above sea level.

RAINFALL – Yesterday afternoon’s storms brought more rain to Wise County. Rainfall totals included 1.18 inches in Alvord, 0.35 in Greenwood, 0.2 in Bridgeport and 0.11 in Decatur. Today’s forecast includes a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms this afternoon.

UIL STATE HARDWARE – The Slidell computer science team captured the Class A title at the UIL state academics meet. Sarah Beaver took second, Mason Maynard fifth and Shelby Vanover sixth in the event. Beaver also won the state title in computer applications. Morgan Barnes took second in the contest. Vanover won the gold medal in ready writing. Barnes added a second silver medal in literary criticism. Three Slidell speakers advanced to the finals – Jessy Goode in poetry, Caitlin Pruett in persuasive speaking and Obed Galindo in informative speaking. Decatur’s Mickey Drewry brought home a silver medal in the 4A feature writing contest.

NISD GIVES RAISES – Northwest ISD trustees passed a 2 percent raise for 2015-16 for all employees yesterday. Starting pay will be $51,000 for first-year teachers. The total estimated cost for the district is $2.4 million. Trustees also elected to keep its current officers – Josh Wright Board President, Mark Schluter Vice President and Devonna Holland Secretary.

PBR TICKETS – According to organizers, there are 142 tickets left for Saturday’s J.W. Hart PBR Challenge in Decatur. They can be purchased online at wcchallenger.org. For a preview of the weekend’s events, read more in the midweek Wise County Messenger on newsstands today.

PARENT CAFE – A Free Parent Cafe will be held at the Chico Public Library, 106 W. Jacksboro St., 11 a.m.-noon today. The topic is “Communicating with Respect.” Call 940-644-2330 to reserve a space.

FREEDOM TEXAS – Freedom Texas will hold it’s monthly public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the meeting room at Pizza Hut, 501 S. Washburn St., in Decatur. This is a group that educates people about the sovereignty, security and self-sufficiency of Texas and promotes its eventual independence. Anyone who wishes to learn more about these subjects is invited. For more information, contact Brenda Vaughn, 940-748-2535 or go to freedomtexas.org.

INPUT SOUGHT ON NEXT SUPERINTENDENT – The Alvord School Board is inviting school personnel and the public to help develop the qualifications and characteristics of the person the board should seek to become the new superintendent. Community Involvement meetings will be held beginning at 3:45 p.m. Thursday in the Alvord High School Cafeteria. Four sessions will be provided, lasting about 45 minutes each. Additional information may be found on Alvord ISD’s website.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEETING – The regular monthly meeting of the Wise County Historical Society, Inc. is noon Thursday in the G.C. Rann Auditorium of the Wise County Heritage Museum at 1602 S. Trinity St. in Decatur. The meal will be catered, and Decatur Civic Center Director Lori Sherwood will speak on future plans for the Civic Center. Call the museum at 940-627-5586 by 3 p.m. today if you plan to attend.

MUSIC AND ARTS RECITAL – The Wise County Music and Arts Foundation will host a recital/fundraiser 7 p.m. Thursday at the Decatur Civic Center. The event will feature the violin students currently enrolled in the program as well as an appearance by the Ginny Mac and Friends Band. Admission/donation will be received at the door. Visit www.youthviolins.org for more information about the 501 (C) 3 foundation.

GRADUATION SECTION – Today’s Messenger features our Graduation 2015 special section, including stories on local valedictorians and salutatorians.

FUNERALS – Graveside service for Luther Stallings, 85, of Burleson is 11 a.m. today at Azleland Cemetery. Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

FUNERAL for James E. Ward, 73, of Chico is 2 p.m. Thursday at Victory Bible Baptist Church in Park Springs with burial at Sweetwater Cemetery in Decatur. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Jones Family Funeral Home.

GRAVESIDE service for Donald Deatherage, 69, of Bridgeport is 2 p.m. Friday at West Bridgeport Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Jones Family Funeral Home.

FUNERAL for Kenneth Maxwell, 84, of Cottondale is 2 p.m. Saturday at Hawkins Funeral Home Chapel in Bridgeport with burial at Cottondale Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

SERVICE for Allen Ray Young, 86, of Decatur is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Truck fire shuts down highway http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/truck-fire-shuts-down-highway/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/truck-fire-shuts-down-highway/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 11:27:01 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91440 Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The northbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 in front of Allsup’s in Decatur were shut down just before 5 a.m. Wednesday when an 18-wheeler caught fire. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said it hit another truck that had slowed to turn into Allsup’s.

Sam Russo of Louisiana, who was driving a TMI Logistics truck loaded with oil and gas equipment, said he was on his way to Pampa when he was hit from behind. A door from the 18-wheeler that hit him was hanging off the equipment on Russo’s trailer. Russo was parked in the Allsup’s parking lot, while the burned truck sat in the exit for Farm Road 51 South.

The name of the driver of the burned truck was not immediately available. Neither driver was injured.

The highway was still shut down as of 6:25 a.m. as the Texas Department of Transportation and wrecker crews worked to clean diesel and debris from the road.

Wise County sheriff’s deputies were directing northbound traffic to Business 287 south of town.

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Body identified, missing woman found http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/body-identified-missing-woman-found/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/body-identified-missing-woman-found/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 23:05:33 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91436 The body of a man found inside a burning travel trailer near Chico last Thursday has been identified as Lawrence Roy Roberts, 58, of Chico. The positive identification was made by the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office, which also ruled the death a homicide. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said the ME’s office ruled Roberts died from a gun shot wound. His body was in one of three fires on the property at 1122 Farm Road 2952 southwest of Chico last Thursday night. Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, of Chico was arrested Friday and charged with arson in the case. No murder charges have been filed. A missing woman wanted in connection with the case was also found safe Tuesday, Walker said. Teresa Jan Rose, 41, of Chico was found in Bridgeport and is cooperating with investigators, who are seeking the couple who gave Rose a ride Thursday night. To report information about the case, contact Sergeant Josh Reynolds with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971 ext. 263 or via e-mail at reynoldsj@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tuesday-may-26-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tuesday-may-26-2015/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:10:51 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91429

2 KILLED IN FRIDAY WRECK – Two people were killed Friday afternoon in a car wreck on Texas 199, one mile west of Farm Road 920. Department of Public Safety Trooper Fred Thornton Jr. said a passenger car driven by Rush Montgomery, 27, of Mineral Wells was traveling east when he crossed the center line and hit a westbound white, Ford Escape driven by Pamela Hudson, 56, of Bowie. Thornton said wet roads were a factor. “He hydroplaned and went over the center stripe, and she plowed into him,” Thornton said. Both drivers were killed. Both were pronounced dead on the scene by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Craig Johnson.

CHILDREN INJURED IN WRECK – Two children were seriously injured Friday afternoon in a two-vehicle accident on Texas 114, one mile east of Boyd. Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lonny Haschel said a 1998 Chevrolet passenger car, driven by Brandon Douglas, 27, of Boyd, was traveling east on 114 and slowed to turn into a private business. As it slowed down, it was hit from behind by a GMC pickup driven by Doug Parr, 41, of Boyd. Haschel said two children in the back of Douglas’ car were seriously injured and transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth by Wise County EMS. A third passenger in Douglas’ car, Melissa Douglas, 28, was not injured. Parr, who is a Wise County constable, was also uninjured. The roadway was closed for an hour as officers investigated the crash.

LAKE NEARLY FULL – As of 6:30 this morning, Lake Bridgeport stood less than half a foot under conservation level.

RAINFALL TOTALS – Yesterday’s rainfall amounts included 2.65 inches in Alvord, 2.08 in Rhome, 1.97 in Bridgeport, 1.75 in Greenwood, 1.74 in Decatur, 1.5 in Paradise and 0.9 in Cottondale.

MISSING PERSON - As part of an arson/murder investigation related to Thursday night’s fire and the discovery of a body in a travel trailer in the 1100 block of Farm Road 2952 in Chico, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a missing person that could be connected to the case. Investigators are seeking Teresa Jan Rose, 41, of Chico. She’s 5-foot-2-inches tall and weighs approximately 135 pounds. Anyone with information about Rose’s location should call Sgt. Josh Reynolds with the WCSO at 940-627-5971, ext. 263; email reynolds@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us or call Crimestoppers at 800-643-TIPS. Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, of Chico was arrested early Friday morning and was charged with arson in connection with the fire as well as on a charge of possession of marijuana. The body, which was found in the travel trailer that was destroyed by fire, has not yet been identified. A mobile home was also destroyed in a fire on the property.

CLAY SHOOT – Devon Energy is hosting a Sporting Clay Shoot Friday at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds. Team entry is $500 for a five-person team, and all proceeds benefit the United Way. Call Fossil Pointe at 940-393-6402 to register a team.

BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT – Back to Summer Bash 3 on 3 tournament is Friday at Decatur High School. Games start at 5 p.m. Divisions include men’s, women’s and coed; boys and girls 5th-6th, 7th-8th and 9th-12th. Proceeds benefit the Decatur Basketball Program. Contact 214-354-2556 or dhseaglesbasketball@gmail.com.

RELAY WRAP UP – Relay For Life Wise County Wrap Up is 7 p.m. June 2 in the Candlewood Suites meeting room. Call Kathy Hughes, 940-255-2944.

GOLF TOURNEY – Tee It Up Fore the Field, a four-person scramble benefiting Wise County Special Needs Baseball, is Friday, June 5, at The Club at Runaway Bay. Registration is noon and tee off is 1:30 p.m. Cost is $400 for a four-person team and $100 for individuals. There will be a meal, awards and a raffle. A silent auction is at 6 p.m. Call Jim and Ann Duffy, 817-489-3447. Register at Made2Thrive.org.

FUNERALS – Graveside service for Luther Stallings, 85, of Burleson is 11 a.m. Wednesday at Azleland Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

FUNERAL for James E. Ward, 73, of Chico is 2 p.m. Thursday at Victory Bible Baptist Church in Park Springs. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Jones Family Funeral Home.

SERVICE for Kenneth Maxwell, 84, of Cottondale is pending at Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

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Fire leads to gruesome discovery; Police search for missing person in possible murder http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/fire-leads-to-gruesome-discovery-police-search-for-missing-person-in-possible-murder/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/fire-leads-to-gruesome-discovery-police-search-for-missing-person-in-possible-murder/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:33:50 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91413 What started as a structure fire call in Chico Thursday night turned into a murder investigation and the search for a missing person by early Friday.

Suspicious Fires

SUSPICIOUS FIRES – Multiple fires burn at a single address in the 1100 block of Farm Road 2952 Thursday night. An arson arrest was made in the case. Travis Lisle

Fires were reported on the property at 1122 Farm Road 2952 southwest of Chico around 8:15 p.m. Thursday. Fire departments and Wise County EMS arrived to find three separate fires: a mobile home, a camper trailer and a pickup truck.

As firefighters from Chico, Crafton and Bridgeport battled the blaze, a body was discovered in the travel trailer.

Several factors led investigators to suspect foul play, including the fact that the vehicle and house were 40 feet apart, suggesting that the fires were intentionally set.

“That is pretty curious,” said Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn. “Especially because there wasn’t any fire in between the house and car.”

Witnesses said three cars left the property before the fires were reported.

As firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire, an explosion followed by a strong ammonia smell was noticeable. No one was injured.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Craig Johnson pronounced the person dead at the scene and ordered an autopsy from the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office. The ME’s office will also attempt to identify the person.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said their investigation Thursday night led to information that the person found in the camper trailer may have been killed prior to the fires, and the fires were set to cover up the crime.

Jeremy Wade Marlett

Walker identified Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, of Chico as a suspect in the fire, and multiple police agencies including Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies, Department of Public Safety troopers, Chico Police and the game warden began a thorough search of the area for the man.

Citizens were also notified by phone.

“During the night, we sent out our Everbridge Alert System to the city of Chico and areas west toward the north end of the lake,” Walker said. “We were getting intelligence that Jeremy Marlett may be responsible.”

The message to area residents said officers were searching for a homicide suspect who was considered armed and dangerous. Residents were told to lock their vehicles and doors and not open the door for anyone unless they were sure it was the police. They were also asked to report any suspicious activity around their home immediately.

The search included officers on the ground and in the air as a Department of Public Safety helicopter was used to search from above.

Aftermath

AFTERMATH – Fire destroyed a mobile home, travel trailer and a pickup truck Thursday night near Chico. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Investigators were able to “ping” Marlett’s cell phone to find him. He was arrested for possession of marijuana after he was found hiding on the side of Park Road in Chico. He was not armed.

Residents then received another call giving them the “all clear” message, Walker said.

During the course of the investigation, the sheriff’s office received information that tied Marlett to the fire.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case, Investigator Josh Reynolds found evidence that Marlett had “used 10 gallons of gasoline to start the fire in the travel trailer.”

Marlett was charged with arson and remains in the Wise County Jail with bail set at $350,000 for that charge and $2,500 on the possession of marijuana charge.

Although the case is being treated as a possible homicide, Walker said Marlett has not been charged with murder.

“We need to see what the autopsy shows,” he said.

Jan Rose

As the investigation progressed, officers discovered a missing person that could be connected to the incident. Investigators are searching for Teresa Jan Rose, 41, whose last known address was Chico. In addition to the mug shot published with this story, the sheriff’s office said she is 5-foot-2-inches tall and weighs approximately 135 pounds.

To report information on her location, call Sgt. Josh Reynolds at the sheriff’s office at 940-627-5971; email reynolds@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us or contact Crimestoppers at 800-643-TIPS or 940-627-8477. Crimestopper tips may be submitted anonymously, and up to $1,500 may be awarded for tips leading to an arrest.

Walker said investigators will continue to talk to family and friends of Marlett to find out what he was doing in the hours leading up to Thursday’s fire.

This is not the first time an incident at the location has resulted in a manhunt and a felony arrest.

Last October, Adam Johnson of Chico was stabbed at the same location by Rickey Gene Stilwell, 35, of Chico, according to an arrest warrant affidavit in that case. When the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon warrant was being served to Stilwell, he ran from officers who searched the area and eventually found him.

Stilwell remains in the Wise County Jail awaiting trial.

Travis Lisle contributed to this report.

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: High winds toss man from home http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-high-winds-toss-man-from-home/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-high-winds-toss-man-from-home/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:30:17 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91407 Paula Revell Roberts stood close to piles of items normally found inside a home, not outside.

A pillow.

A kitchen table chair.

A plaque that holds a toy fish that sings when you push a button.

Roberts spotted the fish and reached down to pick it up. Using a single finger, she gently wiped away the mud to reveal the words “Big Mouth Billy Bass.”

She pushed the red button. Nothing happened.

Broken Home

BROKEN HOME – Chelsea Skiles takes in the damage in her mother’s kitchen. Skiles’ childhood home was destroyed in Tuesday night’s storms. She and her family hid in a hallway closet, the only part of the house to still have a roof. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Just a few feet away, her son’s home on County Road 3541 between Cottondale and Boonsville was almost unrecognizable. Steps and a front porch led to nothing but a large muddy area.

The home, now just a twisted pile of wood, was simply a place to pile up debris.

“This was just a beautiful place,” Roberts said. “We’d worked hard on it for 15 years. Had it all done up western-like. I can’t believe it’s just a pile of rubble.”

Dog Daze 1

DOG DAZE – May Marshall’s dog Princess lays in front of the remains of Marshall’s trailer home. All of Marshall’s dogs made it through the storm unscathed. “They look pretty content right now,” she said of her pets. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Her son, John C. Revell, was at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He had been sitting in a recliner inside the home when the severe storm struck Tuesday night.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-BugNeighbor Sha Clayton was helping Revell’s family clean up the property Wednesday morning and relayed the story of how the 50-year-old was injured.

“It rolled the home and threw him and the recliner out,” he said. “Normally, it’s not best to be thrown out, but in this case, it probably was because it just rolled.”

Roberts said Friday that her son told her that after he was thrown from the home, he remembered finding himself in the mud, still clutching his shih tzu dog, Cody. He was able to climb out of the rubble himself.

He was found by rescuers in a neighbor’s yard.

Dog Daze 2

DOG DAZE – A friend of the Campbells helps clear debris from the couple’s home. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Roberts said Revell sustained a broken leg, a fractured cheekbone and scratches and lumps on his face, but he was hoping to go home with her Friday night.

The National Weather Service did not determine whether the damage in the area of CR 3541 was caused by a tornado or straight line winds, but they do know the storm produced winds up to 110 miles per hour.

Just a couple of houses to the west, Chelsea Skiles and her family took shelter in a closet in her mother’s home. Skiles estimates the family sat in the closet for less than a minute before the destructive winds hit.

They weren’t even able to shut the door all the way.

Still Standing

STILL STANDING – The walls of Chelsea Skiles’ mother’s home are still standing, but the roof was lost in the May 19 tornado. All the people and dogs inside the house survived the tornado without injury. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It was terrifying, especially with my kids, my mom and my husband. We were just in there,” Skiles said.

Everyone walked out of the closet without a scratch, soaked but fine.

The house did not fare as well.

The roof was gone over every room except the closet where the family took shelter.

The bathroom, where they considered hiding first, was covered in debris.

At first the family couldn’t find their dogs, but eventually Skiles realized they were in another room of the house. The dogs had managed to find their own shelter spot.

“It only makes my faith stronger,” Skiles said of the storm. “The Lord was with us the whole time, clearly. Clearly. For my mom’s dogs to randomly be fine and in a different room than they were. … I feel blessed, that’s how I feel. Very blessed. Thankful that we’re all OK. I don’t care about our stuff or anything else, really, as long as we’re all OK.”

Major Destruction

MAJOR DESTRUCTION – The front porch is the only thing left standing at the home of John C. Revell on County Road 3451. Revell was thrown out of his home when it began to roll away. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

On Revell’s property, the “stuff” continued to be piled into an ever-growing mound of soggy remnants.

Roberts’ eyes scanned the muddy ground at her feet, looking for items to salvage.

Finding her son’s singing fish was a small victory in a devastating scene.

“That was the fish his dad gave him. He’ll be glad to know it was safe,” she said.

Revell’s dad had given him the fish shortly before his death.

As she spoke, friends and family members poured gasoline on the pile of debris.

Moments later, what was left of Revell’s home began its journey to ashes.

Racey Burden contributed to this report.

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Neighbors survive tornado in shack http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-neighbors-survive-tornado-in-shack/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-neighbors-survive-tornado-in-shack/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:26:57 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91400 In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s tornado, several trailer homes on Farm Road 920 lay on their sides with debris scattered across nearby fields. Trees were broken in half like twigs.

No one was injured during the storm, but several people lost their homes in the path of destruction.

Tattered Remains

TATTERED REMAINS – Friends help the Campbell family look through the rubble of their former home Wednesday morning. When the storm hit, the Campbells were trapped in their house by fallen trees. The Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department rescued the couple, who were unhurt. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

May Marshall lives along FM 920 in a cluster of trailer homes she and her neighbors call the “Compound.” Around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Compound was hit by a tornado that was later classified as an EF1 by the National Weather Service, with winds between 90 and 110 mph. The tornado heavily damaged three RVs, one mobile home, one house and three vehicles. Marshall and two friends took shelter in a small cabin she’d built next to her mobile home. The roof came off the building while they huddled inside.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-Bug“The other two were scared more than I was, I think, because I kept telling them, ‘It’s gonna be all right, it’s gonna be all right,'” Marshall said. “Then I’d see another piece go off, and it’s like, ‘whoa, might not be all right.’ Now I didn’t say that, but it might not be all right.”

Kathlene Vardas, who was in the cabin with Marshall, said her 17-year-old daughter was staying with a friend elsewhere in the county and called to check on her.

“I said, ‘Throw some extra prayers in to God for us.’ She said, ‘I will momma.’ I told her I love her,” Vardas said.

The women knew a tornadic storm was headed their direction, and they stood outside watching the skies until the wind “got crazy.”

“We went inside, put our heads between our legs and kissed our butts goodbye,” Vardas said. “That’s what they taught us at school a long time ago.”

Marshall said she had previously thought of the cabin as little more than a shack, but now she can say that it saved her life.

“It still looks like a shack, but evidently it’s a sturdy one,” she said.

Marshall’s neighbor, Scott Brandon, was trapped in his RV home after the tornado hit and had to kick out a window to escape. Brandon said he lived through Hurricane Ike in Houston, and he felt his home sway side to side during that storm. But in Tuesday’s storm, he actually felt the RV move.

“Hurricane Ike lasted all day long and tore stuff up for miles, but this … I didn’t like this,” Brandon said.

The neighbors inside the Compound planned Wednesday to camp there overnight to deter looters, even though their water lines are broken and their homes are destroyed. Marshall said she’s just happy to be alive.

“My cup still runs over,” She said. “I’ve got my life, [my friends have] still got their lives, got my dogs and I’ve got that one room that started that whole shack right there. I’ll just try to move back into that I guess. Got to start over. When you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it. It just depends on how you’re taking it.”

Just down the street from Brandon and Marshall’s homes, the Campbells, Wesley and Miki, were trapped in their house after trees fell and blocked their front and back doors. They said they didn’t really hear the tornado that hit their home until it was already on top of them. The couple were running for their back door when they felt their home move off of its foundation.

“I knew we weren’t going to make it to the truck, so I just shoved her down between the washer and dryer and refrigerator back there, and I crawled in on top of her,” Wesley Campbell said. “We started praying and just rode it out.”

After the tornado passed over, the Campbells waited for first responders to help them get out of their mangled home.

“We have an excellent volunteer fire department from Bridgeport. They were out here all up and down this road getting people out of their houses fast,” Miki Campbell said.

She said they actually knew the first responders, who called for the couple by name, then helped them navigate the live wires on the ground outside.

The Campbells and their friends are in the process of gathering all the salvageable valuables from their home. The Campbells’ insurance covers a hotel room at the La Quinta, where they plan to stay until they decide their next move.

“It just wasn’t our time,” Miki Campbell said. “The Lord wasn’t ready for us, or we probably would have gone in all this mess.”

Brian Knox contributed to this report.

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Four tornadoes strike county – Twisters pack winds between 90, 110 mph http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-four-tornadoes-strike-county-twisters-pack-winds-between-90-110-mph/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-four-tornadoes-strike-county-twisters-pack-winds-between-90-110-mph/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:25:55 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91397 Four tornadoes ranging from EF0 to EF1 ripped through Wise County Tuesday night causing extensive damage.

National Weather Service crews determined during their surveys Wednesday that an EF1 tornado, packing winds of 110 mph, struck an area off Farm Road 920. The same crews confirmed that two EF0 twisters struck Runaway Bay. The fourth tornado, an EF1 with 90 mph winds, hit east of Decatur off Farm Road 2264 at Heritage Parkway and crossed County Road 4010.

Tornado Map

PATHS OF DESTRUCTION – Four confirmed tornadoes struck Wise County Tuesday night – two EFO twisters in Runaway Bay, an EF1 off FM 920 near Balsora, and an EF1 southeast of Decatur. Map by Jimmy Alford

“There were four tornadoes, but there was a lot more in the way of wind damage,” said Mark Fox, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. Fox was part of the team in Wise County Wednesday.

The strongest of the twisters hit Balsora shortly before 10 p.m. and covered 2.5 miles.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-Bug“There were also straight-line winds around Balsora from a surge,” Fox said.

Some of the straight-line winds may have approached the 110 mph speeds of the tornado.

Runaway Bay was hit by a pair of tornadoes roughly 10 minutes apart starting at 9:39 p.m. The first, with winds of 80 mph, covered two miles. The second twister covered 1.8 miles.

Fox said the damage at Runaway Bay was very sporadic.

“The hardest hit area was open to the water,” he said. “The highest wind damage was reminiscent of straight-line winds.”

Fox pointed out that two of the condos that were open to the water had roofs that were ripped off.

“The rest of the condos barely had a shingle off,” he said.

Tom Bradshaw, meteorologist-in-charge at the Fort Worth office, indicated Wednesday that the damage at Runaway Bay was likely from both a tornado and straight-line winds.

Bradshaw said the storm that struck the county and produced the violent weather was a “high precipitation supercell.”

Fox and Bradshaw explained the storm’s large rotational field made it difficult to say with certainty what damage was caused by tornadoes or high winds.

“If the entire circulation would have been on the ground, we would have had a mile or two of circulation,” Fox said.

He said the large amount of rain helped cool the surrounding air and may have prevented possible larger and more destructive storms.

The tornado off FM 2264 at 10:36 p.m., which was close to the same area struck by a storm earlier this month, packed winds of 90 mph and covered two miles.

While producing the four tornadoes, the supercell storm also dumped huge amounts of rain over the area. More than 5 inches of rain fell in parts of the county. Decatur Municipal Airport received 3.13 inches of rain between 9:55 p.m. Tuesday and 12:55 a.m. Wednesday. Bridgeport received 4.15 inches.

With an additional storm early Thursday morning, the 48-hour totals were even more impressive. Decatur had 5 inches. Northeast Bridgeport was at 5.64 inches. Lake Bridgeport received 4.52 and Alvord 4.67.

The rain and runoff brought Lake Bridgeport up 4 feet overnight Tuesday. Additional rains Wednesday had the lake up 6 from midday Monday to Thursday. The lake, which had been 24 feet low earlier this spring, remains slightly more than 3.75 feet below its normal conservation pool of 836 feet.

More rain was expected to fall in the area starting Friday. The rain chances ramp up Saturday through Sunday.

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Storm News http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-storm-news/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-storm-news/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:23:56 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91393 RED CROSS OPENS SHELTER

The Red Cross set up a shelter at Crossway Church, 513 Port-o-Call Drive, in Runaway Bay to provide temporary housing to those displaced by Tuesday’s tornadoes. Two displaced persons stayed at the shelter after the storms, and several more came by for other services and supplies. At press time, the shelter remains open pending further bad weather in the county. Red Cross spokesperson Anita Foster said the agency is still completing its disaster assessment, but it appears there were 50 families displaced by the storm. The agency’s hotline 877-500-8645 is still open to calls from those needing assistance.

Restoring Power

RESTORING POWER – Oncor crews worked around the clock in western Wise County Wednesday to repair lines and poles damaged during Tuesday’s storms. More than 3,500 were without power for a stretch Tuesday. All had power restored by 10 p.m. Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

POWER RESTORED ACROSS COUNTY

Tuesday’s tornadoes knocked out power to 3,568 Oncor customers.

The utility had power restored to all 300 customers by 4 p.m. Wednesday. Service was restored to the remaining customers at Runaway Bay by 9:45 p.m., according to Oncor spokesperson Sabrina Easley.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-BugThe utility brought in crews from Wichita Falls, Waco, Sherman and the Metroplex to help replace lines and poles damaged in the storms.

“They worked around the clock in 10-hour shifts,” Easley said.

The aim was to get the power restored within 24 hours.

The utility had additional outages Thursday morning. In Alvord and Chico, 134 customers lost power in the storm that rolled in shortly after 3 a.m.

“We had guys go wading through Big Sandy Creek bottom to find the problem and make repairs,” Easley said.

The power was restored by 11 a.m.

An outage Thursday morning caused by a fallen tree impacted 27 customers on Preskitt Road. Crews had the power restored by noon.

Wise Electric Cooperative reported just one outage Wednesday afternoon.

LAKE BRIDGEPORT CONTINUES TO RISE

The silver lining from Tuesday’s storms was the impact on Lake Bridgeport.

The lake, which had been 24 feet below normal earlier this spring, rose nearly 9 feet between Monday and Friday. It was still 4 feet below its conservation level of 836 feet as of Friday but is expected to rise more over the weekend.

The recent rains have also brought half of Wise County out of a prolonged drought. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Drought Monitor for May 19, the southwestern half of the county remains abnormally dry.

CAUTION URGED ON LAKE

The rising waters of Lake Bridgeport come just before the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Game Warden Penny Nixon urged boaters heading to the lake this weekend to use caution.

“They need to beware of conditions,” Nixon said. “They need to understand that water full of debris is a lot more dense. We know people are geared up about having water again. But a lot needs to settle before rambunctiously racing across the water.

“Most people that drown never anticipated being in the water.”

Nixon added that boaters should remember to take a safety kit and be cautious of vegetation under the water that thrived while the lake was 24 feet below normal. The lake was just 4 feet low as of Friday.

BRIDGEPORT CITY DAMAGES

Bridgeport’s roads were minimally damaged in the May 19 storms, with no further deterioration of existing roads caused by the flooding. No public buildings received major damage. Harwood Park flooded but has now drained and is open to the public. The Bridgeport public pool will be closed for the weekend to be drained and re-chlorinated.

Bridgeport public schools sustained minor leaks, and some of the electrical equipment will need to be replaced following the power shortages.

Wild Night 1

WILD NIGHT – A man works to remove part of a large tree in one of the lions’ enclosures at Center for Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

NO ‘TIGERNADOS’ IN BRIDGEPORT

In tornado prone areas like North Texas, everyone has a safety plan for when a storm hits.

But what happens when you are providing care for dozens of large cats such as tigers and lions?

The staff at the Center for Animal Rescue and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport put their storm plan into action Tuesday night as a tornadic storm passed through the area.

The plan included bringing four juvenile cats – two lions and two tigers – into the house of Director Heidi Krahn and making sure all the gates were locked.

Once the high winds calmed down, it was time to assess the damage.

“We’ve got flashlights going around making sure all of the cages are still up, checking to see where the trees are, putting eyes on all the cats, making sure all the cats are good, making sure there are no tigernados or anything like that,” said CARE operations director Derek Krahn. “I don’t know. Someone must have been looking out for us. All the cats are OK. The structural integrity of the enclosures all remained intact.”

Heidi Krahn said the animals seem to take the severe weather in stride.

“They love to run and play in the water,” she said.

Several trees were damaged in the storm. One large tree snapped in half in one of the lions’ enclosures. The two lions were being kept in a transport enclosure while workers cut and removed the broken half of the tree Wednesday morning.

The facility also lost power, and much of the meat stored in a large freezer would have to be thrown out. Since it happened to be a feeding day, staff were scrambling to locate hundreds of pounds of meat for their feline residents. In addition to tigers and lions, the center also houses leopards, mountain lions, lemurs and llamas.

If you’d like to help the cause, monetary donations may be made at the center’s website www.carerescuetexas.com.

Wild Night 2

WILD NIGHT – Two lions sit patiently in a transport enclosure until the tree is removed. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

SONIC FLOODS

Bridgeport’s Sonic Drive-in restaurant suffered significant flooding, but little damage.

The chain restaurant was under several feet of water early Wednesday morning but drained easily due to eight existing floor drains throughout the restaurant. Workers also cleared a small amount of debris from inside the kitchen Wednesday morning.

Outside, water reached the menus.

The restaurant opened later that day.

FLOODING CLOSES FM 730

Flooding of the West Fork Trinity River closed Farm Road 730 north of Boyd Thursday.

The closing of the road between Decatur and Boyd forced Boyd ISD’s northern bus route to take a significant detour.

“The bus route out of 730 had to go up [FM] 51 to Decatur,” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West.

West said 15 students are on the route.

Making Repairs

MAKING REPAIRS – Ronnie Hammons welds part of the bridge over Black Creek on County Road 2535 back together. Heavy rains Tuesday washed out a 5-foot hole in the bridge. Crews hoped to have it repaired early next week. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

COUNTY ROADS REMAIN UNDERWATER

As of Friday, at least one bridge remained washed out and several county roads remained closed due to flooding.

The bridge on County Road 3433 is partially washed out, and flooded roads include County Roads 1744, 3390, 4668 and 4757. Screaming Bridge remains underwater on County Road 3250. One lane is open on County Road 2535.

Farm Roads 3259 and 730 are closed.

County precinct crews worked to repair sink holes and clean up downed trees throughout the week. Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy’s precinct on the west side of the county saw the most tree damage.

“[The Precinct 4 crew] started at 10 or 11 Tuesday night and worked all the way through until 5 p.m. the next day, mainly clearing trees and limbs on the roads,” Kennedy said.

PARADISE ISD MISSES SCHOOL DAY

Paradise ISD closed Wednesday because of a power outage caused by Tuesday night’s severe storms. The school board will meet June 15 and discuss applying to the state for a missed instructional day waiver.

COMMUNITY FEEDS MORE THAN 500

The day after a destructive tornado struck the area, Boonsville community leaders elected to continue with their plans Wednesday to not only hold their annual luncheon, but to also expand it.

Community leaders brought in donations from restaurants in Bridgeport and Springtown on top of the briskets for the original planned event to feed more than 500 first responders, utility workers and local residents that lost their homes in the storm.

“Phenomenal is the only word to describe it,” said Dennis Penney, a Boonsville community trustee. “When something happens, the community comes together.”

Firefighters, who had been working since Tuesday night with the relief effort, delivered hot plates and sandwiches to Oncor crews at work to restore power.

FLOODED … WITH CALLS

9:52 p.m.

That’s the time the first call for weather damage was received by Wise County Sheriff’s office dispatchers Tuesday.

Over the next 10 hours, 20 more calls would be received by the call center.

Citizens reported everything from downed power lines to homes completely gone.

The call volume was especially high in the western portion of the county where 3 tornadoes touched down – two in Runaway Bay and one in Balsora. Due to the high number of calls, Parker County fire units were called to the Boonsville area for about two hours during the busiest time to assist with recovery efforts.

“Organized chaos” is how Wise County Sheriff’s Office Communications Supervisor Susan Gomez described that night.

Extra off-duty team members came to help out. It was an emotionally draining experience, Gomez said, because not only are the dispatchers trying to help the public, but they also worry about the safety of the responders they are so familiar with, including firefighters, medics and officers.

“We are very blessed in this county though, truly blessed,” she said. “The EMS crews were checking on the fire departments, deputies, dispatchers and brought coffee to my crew. Dispatch was checking on them and worried about the firefighters and deputies. It’s a horrible situation of course, but it really shows the teamwork.”

COUNTY PROPERTY DAMAGED

Two Wise County buildings sustained significant damage due to leaks following Tuesday night’s storms and rainfall later in the week.

Multiple offices in the Wise County Sheriff’s Office have water damage after the roof leaked. The roof was first damaged in December 2013 and has yet to be replaced. Several desks were draped in plastic Thursday and carpets were soaked. Soggy ceiling tiles were falling on desktops, and water was coming through smoke detectors in the jail.

Leaks were also threatening interview recording equipment and 911 equipment.

Water came through the bay door of the Medic 2 station in Bridgeport, and there also appeared to be water coming through the foundation in three bedrooms and the living area.

Special Projects Manager Glenn Hughes said the problem with the Medic 2 station appeared to be with the gutters and should be an easy fix.

One vehicle was damaged when Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn was involved in a two-vehicle accident during Tuesday night’s storm. No one was injured.

DECATUR HIGH SCHOOL STORM DRAIN COLLAPSES

A storm drain collapsed at Decatur High School following the heavy rains May 19. The drain collapse left standing water in the ground floor of the school and damaged the sheetrock. The total damages were under $2,000, and the school opened on time the following morning.

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Family’s home lost to flames http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/familys-home-lost-to-flames/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/familys-home-lost-to-flames/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:20:21 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91387 A family was displaced when fire destroyed their home north of Chico Thursday morning.

101 Fire

101 FIRE – A home on Texas 101 north of Chico Thursday morning was destroyed by fire. No one was injured in the blaze, but a dog was killed. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Chico and Bridgeport fire departments along with Wise County EMS responded to the call in the 1700 block of Texas 101 around 8 a.m. The first units on the scene reported the single story, wood-frame home totally engulfed in flames.

Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said the home’s occupants were able to escape without injury. He said the fire apparently started from a propane heater in a bedroom.

The home was a total loss.

Although no human life was lost, a dog is thought to have died in the fire.

Vickie Brewers and four other family members lived in the home, according to a representative at the Chico Church of Christ. The church is collecting clothes and household items for the family.

The family needs all household items. Clothing sizes include: young female adult size 3 pants and shirts size small to medium; small girls’ size 3T through 6T clothing; adult women’s pants sizes 12 to14 and large shirts; and adult men’s size 32 to 34 pants and large shirts.

Donations can be dropped off at 203 S. McCracken. People are available to receive donations 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and donations can be left on the fellowship hall’s porch 24 hours a day.

For information, call 940-577-0762.

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Chico School Board to discuss hiring new AD http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-to-discuss-hiring-new-ad/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-school-board-to-discuss-hiring-new-ad/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:19:26 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91384 Chico School Board will hold a special meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Chico Elementary to discuss hiring a new athletic director and to address needed roof repairs at the middle school.

“We’ll be discussing internal candidates and diving into the process of hiring that position,” Superintendant Mike Jones said. “I’ve listed the AD position online. We want to take some time and find out which direction we want to go.”

Jones also said that some of the positions that are currently open may remain unfilled.

“The board is looking at this,” Jones said. “We don’t want anybody alarmed just yet. We’ll look at our plan and find what we can do from that. We can’t constantly run a deficit. Sometimes it has to be run like a business. That’s what we’re balancing right now.”

Last week the school board hired a high school principal, a middle school principal and an elementary teacher.

High school principal Randy Cobb has 29 years of experience as an educator, coach and principal and was once the superintendent at Chico ISD.

“He’s worked at Birdville and North Richland Hills and Nimitz in Irving,” Jones said. “He has a wealth of experience from small schools to large school districts.”

Jones also talked about new middle school principal Randy Brawner, who is currently the offensive coordinator for Boyd’s football team.

“He has around 20 years of experience,” Jones said. “He was the athletic director at Godley. He coached at Aledo and Lake Worth. He’s got really good ideas. He’ll be great at getting the staff motivated, working with parents and the public.”

Tuesday’s meeting will include a public forum to allow citizens to express their thoughts on the many changes at CISD.

The meeting will be held at Chico Elementary School, Room 150.

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Exchange student weathers first Texas tornado http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-exchange-student-weathers-first-texas-tornado/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-exchange-student-weathers-first-texas-tornado/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:19:02 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91382 When a tornado ripped through Runaway Bay, it took Golda Koenigsmann a moment to process what happened.

HELPING HAND – Golda Koenigsmann, Brandon Vann and Owen Vann of Runaway Bay helped clean debris from several homes in their neighborhood Wednesday morning after the storm. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It was crazy. We felt the house shaking,” Koenigsmann said. “We were all in this tiny closet, and it was just so loud.”

Koenigsmann, an exchange student from Germany, has lived in Runaway Bay for several months with the Vann family and is attending Bridgeport High School.

Krystal Vann and her three sons, William, Brandon and Owen; daughter Hope and Koenigsmann huddled in a small bathroom together.

“I was in constant prayer in that closet,” Krystal Vann said. “You could hear the home shaking. They had their arms interlocked with mine. There were six of us in a little four-by-four bathroom.”

When Koenigsmann saw the destruction that the storm had caused, her first inclination was to offer a helping hand.

“After it was really over, we just wanted to help people,” she said. “We got really lucky. So many things just got totally destroyed. We looked around, and there wasn’t much we could do that night. We waited until morning to start clearing out yards.”

With the Vann kids, Koenigsmann began moving brush and clearing trash from yards.

At first people were suspicious that the teenagers were trying to make a buck, but when neighbors realized they simply wanted to help, it was appreciated.

“It was so nice to see them get excited and put their shoes on to go help people,” Krystal Vann said. “For kids to go do that on their own is a really big deal. They wanted to get out the next morning, and they moved debris, mainly broken branches and trash. They went to four or five of the neighbors’ houses.”

Before heading out to clean up the neighborhood, Koenigsmann called her parents in Germany.

“I already told my parents that I survived a tornado,” she said. “They were shocked. They were so worried about us.”

Once her own shock wore off, Koenigsmann was excited to share her story – a true Texas experience.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-Bug“I’ll definitely take that back and brag about it at home,” she said. “Surviving a tornado is pretty cool once it’s over. I’ve already bragged to my parents after I calmed them down.”

Despite her experience with the horrific weather, Koenigsmann said that she loves the U.S. and would like to stay longer.

“It’s so nice here,” she said. “Everyone is friendly and asks how you’re doing and things like that. I love America.”

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Tornado pummels FM 2264 community http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-tornado-pummels-fm-2264-community/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-tornado-pummels-fm-2264-community/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:17:59 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91379 As neighbors and friends, Jenna Barthold and Stacy Thompson share many things.

However, Barthold was overwhelmed after Tuesday night’s violent storm “shared” most of her lawn furniture and pieces of her home with Thompson.

Standing Strong

STANDING STRONG – Neighbors Jenna Barthold and Stacey Thompson share more than friendship as they pick up debris from each other’s houses. Shingles, trees and glass litter the area as they piece together their lives. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-BugThe debris flew through Thompson’s front windows when an EF1 tornado struck the Heritage Creek North subdivision off Farm Road 2264 southeast of Decatur.

“All of our shingles went over there,” Barthold said. “The decking from our backyard. It’s over there.”

She said her family was caught off guard by the storm, and they raced to shelter their youngest child.

“My husband and my daughter were going to bed on the air mattress in the living room, and my 8-month-old was asleep on our bed in this other room,” she said. “I was walking in there, and it sucked the door shut. The window blew out in my bedroom, and glass was flying.

“I had to dive on top of the kid,” she said. “He was screaming, and I didn’t want anything to fly in and hit him.”

SEVERE DAMAGE – Jenna Barthold’s home had a large section of roof ripped off by Tuesday’s tornado. The water and wind also collapsed the ceiling. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Thompson said initial warnings identified a storm near Paradise but no activity in their area.

“We were getting ready for bed,” she said. “We had just heard that there would be strong winds in our location. We’ve had wind damage from straight line winds, but nothing like this.”

Shards of broken glass, flying from all directions, also perforated Thompson’s home.

“On our side, we had brought the kids downstairs,” she said. “My boys were in there, walking to their room, and my daughter was downstairs and our ears started popping. We heard glass breaking everywhere as we ran to the closet.”

Barthold said the storm’s winds, which exceeded 90 mph, tore through her home, tossing kitchen items into other rooms, dropping rain-soaked insulation over everything and wreaking havoc in her sons’ part of the house.

“My son was in his room,” Barthold said. “He said it felt like he was being squeezed. He started taking off, and about that time my other son’s window blew out and pushed him down the hall. He was trying to run, and we were screaming at him. He said it pushed him down the hall, and he ran into the closet.”

It was only natural for the neighbors to help each other clean up their property, and share resources.

Thompson planned to loan Barthold a walker for the baby after the ceiling fell in, crushing his.

“I have a similar one he can borrow,” she said. “We’re usually happy to share.”

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Storm strikes lake community http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-storm-strikes-lake-community/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-storm-strikes-lake-community/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:16:02 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91375 As a storm raged overhead Tuesday night, Brittiany Spain and her 3-year-old son crouched in a closet in their Runaway Bay home.

Winds exceeding 110 mph lifted parts of the home’s roof, tossing them away as the rain fell onto the family’s belongings.

A Fathers Care

A FATHER’S CARE – After surviving his first big storm, 3-year-old Gabriel Spain is consoled by his father Jarid Spain near their Runaway Bay home. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“We came out of the closet and heard water. We thought windows broke,” Spain said. “It was the roof. It’s in my backyard.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-Bug“As soon as we saw the water, we got into my car, which used to sit under a carport, the carport is gone, and went over to the in-laws’ house,” she said.

Spain said her son, Gabriel, wasn’t afraid of the storm, but offered his condolences.

“Nothing’s bothered him,” she said. “He just keeps saying, ‘Mommy, I’m sorry the tornado broke your house.'”

Just west of Spain’s home, at the Harbor Shores condominiums, Brad Snodgrass was shielding himself and his wife from broken glass with a quilt.

Snodgrass said he’d monitored the storm closely and moved downstairs to a neighbor’s condo after being warned by his brother.

“He’s on the Paradise Fire Department. He called me and said, ‘It’s headed right for y’all. You need to take cover.’ As we got downstairs, you could see the wall cloud headed straight this way,” Snodgrass said. “It wasn’t but a couple of minutes that you could feel the pressure change and see the bay window bow 8 to 10 inches inward.”

Snodgrass said the storm escalated as it plowed into the complex, shattering windows and pulling down the building’s stone masonry. It tore the roof off, littering the area with chunks of sheet metal and plywood, which damaged several cars.

“After it passed, we were able to come out,” he said. “It was still pouring rain, and there was about a foot of water standing outside. I saw the roof over here. Luckily this big tree caught it from hitting our vehicles.”

His wife, Brandy, said the newlywed couple was distraught after witnessing the destruction.

“We just began our life together,” she said. “We just got married and moved here three months ago. It’s just very overwhelming to know that we just started in this great home with the lake right here, and now it’s gone.”

Brad Snodgrass said he’s been ordered stay out of his condo by authorities, citing the building’s structural instability.

Condo Unsafe

CONDO UNSAFE – David Shawn, who is on the condos’ homeowners association board, surveys the storm’s aftermath at the Harbor Shores condominiums in Runaway Bay. Shawn estimated that 16 units were damaged during a storm that produced winds stronger than 110 mph. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“My next step is to get our belongings that are there after they kicked us out and told us we couldn’t go get them,” he said. “We need to store them somewhere dry before it starts raining again.”

David Shawn, who is on the board for the condos’ homeowners association, said the devastation is extensive.

“Sixteen total units have been damaged,” he said. “There’s no ceiling, and the floors are soaking wet. Some of the back walls are actually leaning toward the lake. There’s nothing holding it up.”

Dale Boehn, a nearby homeowner, reflected on how his community joined forces to free a stranded family at the peak of the storm.

“Around the corner here, there was a family with a baby that was driving, and a tree fell in front of them,” he said. “They tried to go around and ended up getting stuck in the yard. It took several four-wheel-drive [pickups] to get them out. The whole neighborhood was here.”

Boehn said his neighbors’ bravery highlighted Runaway Bay’s greatest asset.

“We’re all safe,” he said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”

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Tornadoes Slam Wise: Community comes together in cleanup http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-community-comes-together-in-cleanup/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadoes-slam-wise-community-comes-together-in-cleanup/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:13:41 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91371 As the Wednesday morning sun rose over Runaway Bay, residents of the lakeside community banded together to clean up their homes and move forward after two EF0 tornadoes pounded the community Tuesday night.

Roof Damage

ROOF DAMAGE – Runaway Bay resident James Harlan looks over his property as his family helps clean up Wednesday morning. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

James Harlan, a homeowner in the area, said he’d been working on his home since 6:30 a.m. Harlan’s family was spread across his property with rakes and other tools, piling pieces of his roof into neat stacks. Harlan said a considerable amount of his insulation flew across the neighborhood.

Tornadoes-Slam-Wise-Bug“It got all over my neighbor’s place,” he said. “I told him, ‘save it and I’ll use it again.'”

While roofs can be repaired, Harlan said he was upset about the loss of an irreplaceable part of his property taken by the storm.

“The main thing, is that tree is gone,” he said. “It’s a waste. It was a good tree.”

Blocks away, Brittiany Spain was sending her cat to live with a friend after her family’s home lost its roof. Spain said her new home won’t allow for a cat. Her son, Gabriel, tearfully bid his furry family member goodbye.

“It’ll be OK,” she said. “You’ll see him again.”

Spain said she asked friends online for help moving.

“I’ve got a bunch of people coming later with a trailer to move my stuff into storage,” she said. “Facebook – it’s a wonderful thing.”

Nearby, Chad Moore was clearing errant limbs from his yard with a chainsaw. The damage at Moore’s home wasn’t as serious as others, he said, but the storm still left a mess.

“For it to twist the tops of these trees, it came right over here,” he said. “It’s a lot of mesquite. Everybody’ll have plenty of smokin’ wood “For it to twist the tops of these trees, it came right over here,” he said. “It’s a lot of mesquite. Everybody’ll have plenty of smokin’ wood this year.”

Moore said immediately after the storm, residents jumped into action, knocking on doors and making sure their neighbors were all right. However, he added, many other observers did nothing but crowd the area.

“It was ridiculous,” he said. “People were over from Bridgeport to look at everything. It was clustered, to say the least. I understand people were concerned, but some people were here just to look. You don’t need more people in the street than are necessary.”

Moore said after he finished his property, he planned to spread out his efforts.

“We’ve just basically got to clean up all the limbs and get an idea of how bad things are around my little area,” he said. “I’m going to help the neighbors. If the community pulls together and helps each other, we’ll be a whole lot better off than we would if we just gawk at each other.”

After surveying his tree-fallen lawn, Moore summarized the situation in his part of town.

“I think we’ll all make it through,” he said. “It’s just Mother Nature saying, ‘hey, clean up your street.'”

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3 boys rescued from rushing water http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/3-boys-rescued-from-rushing-water/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/3-boys-rescued-from-rushing-water/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:12:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91368 Three boys were shaken, but uninjured, after being trapped in high water on County Road 3250 southwest of Decatur Thursday night.

Wise County medic Randall Preuninger said his unit was dispatched to the scene about 7 p.m. When he arrived, two boys were clinging to a tree, and one boy was standing in the water but unable to walk because the current was so strong.

“We deployed a rope system and put a harness on them to pull them out,” he said.

Wise County’s Medic 1, Medic 5 and Rescue 1 were called to the scene, along with the Paradise Volunteer Fire Department.

“At one point we had eight people in the water working to rescue them,” Preuninger said.

The operation took 30 to 40 minutes, but he was unsure how long the boys had been in the water. He also did not know what the boys were doing when they were caught by the current.

The boys were examined by medics and released to their parents.

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Edwards’ contract approved http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/edwards-contract-approved/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/edwards-contract-approved/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:12:00 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91366 Paradise School Board went directly into closed session Thursday night and emerged an hour later to announce superintendent lone finalist Mac Edwards was hired and will start July 1.

Edwards will replace interim-superintendent Robert Criswell, whose contract ends in June.

The board also renewed the district’s agreement with Aramark. Aramark has taken over food services at Paradise and seeks to reduce costs over five years. Criswell said the numbers from the inaugural year support that strategy.

The board also approved a 10-cent increase in breakfast and lunch prices across the district. Aramark representative Josiah Williams told the board the increase should be the only increase needed for the foreseeable future.

OTHER BUSINESS

  • Board members briefly discussed budget goals for the 2015-2016 school year. Criswell said the main goal would be to balance the budget and avoid another deficit year. In August of 2014, the district adopted a 2014-2015 budget that was about $213,923 short of being balanced.
  • The board approved sending letters to parents notifying them of courses and assemblies on sex education.
  • Plans were solidified regarding board members’ duties at Paradise High School’s May 29 graduation ceremony. Board member Carrie Preather volunteered to announce senior names starting with A through P. She has two children graduating this year.
  • A final 2015-2016 calendar revision was made, giving students an additional early release day in October.
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Police nab sleepy burglar http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/police-nab-sleepy-burglar/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/police-nab-sleepy-burglar/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:11:22 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91364 A Decatur man was arrested for burglary of a motor vehicle Wednesday night after he was found sleeping in a vehicle on the same street where the crime occurred.

According to information provided by Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins, officer John Riley was called to Rodden Street Wednesday night after a homeowner discovered his vehicle had a broken window and his money and wallet were stolen.

Riley noticed a man sleeping in a vehicle on Rodden Street wearing a black beanie with eye holes cut out. The officer also noticed what appeared to be a baggie of methamphetamine in the floorboard.

The man, John Edward Gibbon Jr., 32, was placed under arrest.

During a search of the vehicle, Riley discovered evidence that linked Gibbon to the Rodden Street car burglary as well as burglary of a motor vehicle and vehicle theft cases at two homes on Spring Run Drive in the Martin Branch subdivision from a day earlier.

In the Spring Run Drive vehicle burglary, the suspect used an unlocked door to take property and a key to a Chevrolet Tahoe. The Tahoe next door was stolen and found abandoned at College Avenue and Windy Glen.

Gibbon was charged with two counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft $20,000 to $100,000. Total bond for those charges was set at $85,500.

He is also being held without bond on previous charges of theft of material aluminum/bronze/copper/brass, possession of a controlled substance and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.

The theft of material charges stem from his arrest last July for a couple of copper thefts from Wise Electric Co-op in Decatur. In that case, Gibbon’s photo was captured by surveillance video and posted on social media and the Wise County Messenger. After seeing his published photo, Gibbon turned himself in for the crime.

He is scheduled for a plea bargain in that case June 1 in 271st District Court.

The previous possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information charges stem from an arrest in January of this year.

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In other vehicle-related thefts, Hoskins said four motor vehicles were burglarized May 16 at the Holiday Inn Express on U.S. 81/287. Windows were broken out to gain access to all four vehicles.

Also, a 2001 Dodge Ram was stolen from the police impound yard during the overnight hours of Tuesday, May 19, into Wednesday, May 20.

Anyone with information on the crimes should call Decatur Police at 940-393-0300.

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Artfully Happy http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/artfully-happy/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/artfully-happy/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:06:50 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91362 Address: 1401 Cates St. Suite 100

Phone: 682-597-1930

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

Owner: Desra Harrington

Products: Painting classes, private lessons, special event hosting, and custom paintings

Artfully Happy

RIBBON CUTTING – Bridgeport and Paradise Chambers of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting May 14 for ArtFully Happy. Pictured are Duane Harrington and owner Desra Harrington. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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BlueSky Wellness Center http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/bluesky-wellness-center/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/business/bluesky-wellness-center/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:05:52 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91359 Address: 1401 Cates St. Suite 104

Phone: 817-239-9525, 940-683-2644

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday- Thursday

Owner: Dr. Keitha Story-Stephenson, Ph.d

Products: Health Resources

BlueSky Wellness

RIBBON CUTTING – Bridgeport and Paradise Chambers of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting May 14 for BlueSky Wellness Center. Pictured are owner Keitha Story-Stephenson, Ph.d, and office manager Lydia Moore. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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