WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Sat, 30 May 2015 18:26:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Marlett charged with murder http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/marlett-charged-with-murder/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/marlett-charged-with-murder/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:24:03 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91665 A Chico man in jail for arson has now been charged with murder.

Jeremy Wade Marlett

Wise County Sheriff’s investigators Wednesday filed a murder charge on Jeremy Wade Marlett, 34, in the death of Lawrence Roy Roberts, 58, of Chico. Marlett’s bond on the murder charge was set at $1 million.

Roberts’ body was found in a burned travel trailer, one of three fires on the property at 1122 Farm Road 2952 southwest of Chico, the night of Thursday, May 21.

The Dallas County Medical Examiners Office positively identified Roberts Tuesday and ruled his death a homicide.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Wise County Sheriff’s investigator Sgt. Josh Reynolds spoke with Marlett’s wife, who said she had received a call from her husband in which he said he murdered Roberts and set fire to the travel trailer and a mobile home on the property.

Reynolds then spoke to Marlett, who admitted to shooting Roberts with a firearm, according to the affidavit.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said his investigators are continuing to interview several people who may have information on the case, and they are still trying to locate a couple who gave a ride to Teresa Jan Rose, 41, of Chico the night of the fires.

Rose was one of several people who left the property, and officers were initially worried about her well-being. She was found safe Tuesday and is cooperating with investigators, Walker said.

Other evidence has also been collected in the case.

“Our crime scene crew had written a search warrant and has gone back out and found several weapons,” Walker said. “We believe one was the murder weapon.”

Investigators are still trying to determine what may have led to Marlett killing Roberts.

Marlett was arrested in the early morning hours of Friday, May 22, after a thorough search of the Chico area. He was charged with arson and possession of marijuana. His bond on those two charges total $352,500.

In addition to the travel trailer and mobile home, a pickup was also destroyed by fire at the location May 21.

To report information about the case, call Sgt. Reynolds at 940-627-5971, ext. 263. or email reynoldsj@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us.

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Spillway open, lake closed; Water district takes action to avoid flooding http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/spillway-open-lake-closed-water-district-takes-action-to-avoid-flooding/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/spillway-open-lake-closed-water-district-takes-action-to-avoid-flooding/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:23:07 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91662 The spillway at Lake Bridgeport opened Wednesday after the lake reached its conservation level of 836 feet for the first time since August 2010.

SPILLWAY OPENS – Tarrant Regional Water District opened the spillway at Lake Bridgeport Wednesday morning after the reservoir exceeded its conservation level. The spillway will remain open until the lake reaches 836 feet again. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

On Friday, the reservoir stood at 838.27 feet, and the Tarrant Regional Water District increased the rate of discharge from the spillway that morning. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office advised that the spillway opening may cause flooding downstream from the lake in Precinct 3 and the Trinity River area.

According to TRWD’s communications manager, Chad Lorance, the spillway has to be opened any time the lake exceeds conservation level. Opening the spillway protects homes in the lake district from flooding. Because of the recent rain, the lake has gained 7 feet in one week and is considered to be in a potential flood situation. With enough rainwater in the reservoir’s watershed area, the lake could overflow its banks.

“There’s water on the ground headed toward Lake Bridgeport,” Lorance said. “It could create a flooding situation that could affect peoples’ homes, and we don’t want that to happen.”

TRWD is also required by the state to let water flow to other areas with water conservation rights once the reservoir exceeds its storage limit.

“When it reaches 836 feet, we’ll close it and keep it there as long as we can,” Lorance said.

Lake Bridgeport is currently closed to boating traffic due to dangerous water conditions. Wakes from boating could flood low-lying homes on the lake, and debris from the recent storms makes the water hazardous to enter. The lake clean-up scheduled for Saturday, May 30, is canceled.

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Greyhounds race to academic title http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/greyhounds-race-to-academic-title/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/greyhounds-race-to-academic-title/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:21:21 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91659 A long day for Caitlin Pruett, Morgan Barnes and the rest of their Slidell teammates ended in the wee hours Friday morning with a surprise – a state title.

Slidell captured the Class A University Interscholastic League academic title and was handed the trophy after the one-act play awards ceremony, shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

Taking Home the Trophy

TAKING HOME THE TROPHY – Slidell High School students cap a successful week in Austin with the Class A University Interscholastic League academic title. They left the state capital Friday morning to get home for in time for graduation that night. Submitted photo

“It’s pretty awesome. It had been a long day,” Pruett said. “We got up at 5:45 Thursday morning and had been going non-stop until 1 this morning. We didn’t know they’d do the state championship ceremony at the one-act play awards. It was close enough that it depended on the one-act results. It was a nice surprise.”

Slidell garnered 128 points in the week’s competitions, winning a team title in computer science along with individual crowns in computer applications and ready writing. Slidell finished 28 points ahead of second-place Cross Plains.

“It’s amazing,” said Barnes, who finished third in computer applications and second in literary criticism. “We started the year winning district, then regionals and ended with a state title. It shows how amazing the staff and students are at Slidell and how dedicated we are.

“When we came into state, we knew we had a chance,” she said. “It’s amazing to realize the small town of Slidell is the state champion.”

Slidell started its run to the title with a strong showing Tuesday that included Barnes’ medals, along with the computer science squad’s performance. Sarah Beaver, who finished second in the computer science event, won the state title in computer applications. Shelby Vanover added to the medal count with a victory in ready writing.

Wednesday, Slidell added bronze medals in poetry from Jessy Goode and informative speaking by Obed Galindo. Pruett finished fourth in persuasive speaking.

Slidell UIL coordinator Sherrie Enis said they knew going into Thursday’s one-act play competition there was a chance for the school to get the big trophy.

“We knew it was close. We were on pins and needles all day,” she explained. “It was hard to not get excited before the announcement.”

Even though she and much of her team that also had performed or helped with the one-act play were running on fumes, they got a second wind when they were handed the state championship trophy.

“We were so excited but exhausted,” Enis said.

She added that it was a great honor and fantastic way for the seniors to wrap up their year.

“It’s something they’ve worked so long for,” Enis said. “They’ve been successful since junior high. This is the first time we’ve gone to the mountaintop.”

Slidell ISD Superintendent Greg Enis also praised the students for bringing home the title.

“This entire week has been an opportunity for a terrific group of kids and dedicated coaches to compete at the highest level,” he said. “All of the extra work and preparation that started in elementary school has resulted in the highest honor that a team and school can achieve in our state. Our UIL team is an extremely important part of our culture, and this group of seniors has set an extremely high bar, along with being tremendous role models for our younger kids.”

Beaver hopes this is just the start for the program.

“We made history,” she said. “This is going to be hard to top.”

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Wilson to lead Dragons http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/wilson-to-lead-dragons/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/wilson-to-lead-dragons/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:20:21 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91656 Current Chico coach Lane Wilson was named CISD athletic director at a special school board meeting Tuesday night.

Lane Wilson

The meeting included a public forum that drew 29 Chico citizens, 13 of whom were students. Junior Tyler Melton was one of several who spoke to the board in favor of Wilson.

“We feel that bringing in someone from the outside would adversely affect the class of 2016,” Melton said. “Coach Wilson has transformed me into a better golfer, football player and man. Isn’t that what athletics is about?”

Robert Vidal, a father of three, two of whom are Chico High graduates, and one currently attending CISD, said the coaching staff is “capable and willing.”

“Some of the kids in our district don’t have the parental support they need. For a lot of them, this coaching staff is their closest thing to a family,” he said.

Not a word was spoken against hiring Wilson or in favor of hiring anyone else.

Though Wilson wasn’t at the meeting, he was moved by the community support.

“It brought tears to my eyes, really, to get that kind of support,” Wilson told the Messenger Thursday. “I love these kids here, and seeing that they had my back really meant a lot to me because they know I’ve got their back. So, it was great.”

After the public forum, the board met in private to discuss personnel under Texas Government Code 551.074.

When they reconvened, Wilson was hired with a 5-1 vote, with G.A. Buckner voting against the measure.

Superintendent Mike Jones talked about Wilson’s qualifications after the meeting.

“Do we have an internal candidate that has the qualities that we look for to continue the athletic program and what it is moving toward? I felt like he possessed those qualities,” Jones said. “He has the support of the kids and the staff. He likes the coaching staff and we do, too. That continuity is important to us.”

The Dragons are currently coming off back-to-back 6-4 seasons with Wilson as offensive coordinator. He replaces athletic director Stephen Carter, who resigned earlier this month.

“My recommendation was, I felt like Coach Wilson possessed all of the characteristics I wanted in a leader,” Jones said. “I’ve seen him work well with parents and students.”

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Community meetings kick off superintendent search http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/community-meetings-kick-off-superintendent-search/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/community-meetings-kick-off-superintendent-search/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:19:24 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91653 The Alvord School Board began the search for a new superintendent Thursday with four community involvement meetings led by Texas Association or School Boards (TASB) Executive Search Services Director Butch Feltner.

Feltner gave four identical 45-minute presentations that posed three questions to those in attendance.

  • What are the top strengths of the district?
  • What are the top issues, or concerns, involving the district?
  • What personal and/or professional characteristics should the new superintendent possess?

In the first session, those questions were each met with answers that centered around continuing the excellence and high expectations of the district.

“We want someone who has experience in a small school,” a high school teacher said. “We want someone who has dealt with our goals and our limitations and someone who understands the type of students and teachers we have here.”

The faculty members in attendance also expressed hope that the new superintendent would be part of the Alvord community, and school system, for several years to come.

Feltner said applications for the job will be accepted through mid-June, at which time TASB will choose the top six candidates based in part on these sessions.

The school board will narrow the list to three candidates by early July and likely announce a hire in early August.

Alvord Superintendent Bill Branum announced his retirement May 4. His contract runs through June 30.

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Truck fire closes highway http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/truck-fire-closes-highway/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/truck-fire-closes-highway/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:18:46 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91651 An early morning truck fire left part of heavily-traveled northbound U.S. 81/287 in Decatur shut down most of Wednesday.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins said an 18-wheeler driven by Jesus Salinas of Decatur caught fire after it hit a second 18-wheeler slowing to turn into the Allsup’s parking lot.

Driver Escapes

DRIVER ESCAPES – The burned debris of an 18-wheeler sits on the U.S. 81/287 off-ramp at Farm Road 51 in Decatur after an accident Wednesday morning. Driver Jesus Salinas wasn’t injured. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Salinas escaped without injury, but his truck’s cab was destroyed.

Sam Russo, the other driver, was hauling oil and gas equipment to Pampa for TMI Logistics. The accident left a door from Salinas’ truck hanging from the load 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.

Both northbound lanes were shut down 5 to 9:30 a.m. as diesel and debris were cleaned from the road. One lane was re-opened at 9:30, but Hoskins was unsure what time the second lane finally opened.

During the closure, traffic was directed to Business 287 through town.

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Woman injured in rollover http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/woman-injured-in-rollover/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/woman-injured-in-rollover/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:17:01 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91648 A Rhome woman was seriously injured Thursday morning when she rolled her sports utility vehicle on U.S. 81/287, just south of County Road 4421.

Barbara L. Mallory was northbound just before 8 a.m. in a Ford Explorer Sport Trac when a front tire blew out, pulling her vehicle to the left. Department of Public Safety Trooper Madison Zaragoza said she overcorrected to the right, running off the east side of the road.

Blowout Leads to Rollover

BLOWOUT LEADS TO ROLLOVER – Wise County medics and firefighters carry Barbara Mallory of Rhome to the ambulance after freeing her from her wrecked SUV Thursday morning. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Mallory tried to straighten her vehicle on a strip of pavement alongside the highway but couldn’t regain control.

The vehicle bounced onto its side next to the railroad tracks.

Mallory was trapped in the SUV and suffered multiple lacerations. She was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth by Medic 1. A hospital representative said Friday morning that Mallory had been discharged.

Wise County’s Rescue 1 and East Wise Fire Department also responded to the accident scene, as did a Wise County sheriff’s deputy.

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Worship service returns to little white chapel http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/worship-service-returns-to-little-white-chapel/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/worship-service-returns-to-little-white-chapel/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:16:07 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91645 Church. Mattress factory. Church again. Wedding chapel.

This is the life cycle of the old Episcopal Mission of the Ascension, better known to most as the tiny white chapel on the corner of Hale and Church Street in Decatur. Now the building is home to an Episcopal church once more.

New Beginning

NEW BEGINNING – Ellen and Mark Whitley recently started a Wise County Episcopalians group, which now meets in the small chapel on the corner of Church and Hale Street in Decatur. The church was built in 1889 as an Episcopal mission and is returning to its roots after several years as a wedding chapel. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Built in 1889, the Episcopal Mission originally stood on Main Street. Moved in 1912 to Walnut Street, the building was briefly used as a mattress factory in 1940. It moved to its current location in 1940 and eventually became a church again.

Ellen Whitley attended services at the little church in the ’90s, until she moved away from Wise County in 1995. When she and her husband, Mark, moved back, Ellen Whitley found the building vacant.

“It didn’t look like it had been used for worship in forever,” she said.

Failing to find her old church, Ellen Whitley contacted the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in February and asked them for help locating a place where she and her husband could attend.

“I just wanted to worship God. I didn’t want to start a church,” Ellen Whitley said. “That wasn’t in my plan.”

Instead of pointing them toward an existing church, the Diocese encouraged the couple to start their own group of Wise County Episcopalians. In March, with the help of Bishop Rayford High from Fort Worth, the Whitleys began hosting a group of about nine people at their home in Boonsville.

The couple then moved their group to the Boonsville Community Center, but they couldn’t stop thinking about the little chapel on Church Street.

Mark Whitley contacted the owner of the chapel, Logan Motsenbocker, and asked to meet him. Motsenbocker met with the Whitleys in mid-May and handed them the keys to the building on the spot.

“Every time a door opens, God opens another, and we’re just zipping through them,” Ellen Whitley said of finding the building so quickly.

All Motsenbocker wanted in exchange for letting the group use his space was for the church members to put money toward the electric bill.

“He has not talked money with us,” Mark Whitley said. “He has said, ‘If your people like it, use it.'”

The Whitleys soon found that Motsenbocker had a personal reason for letting them use the church, which hadn’t functioned as a wedding chapel in more than two years. Motsenbocker’s girlfriend is Episcopalian, and one morning she sat outside the building and prayed that some day it would be used as a church once more. Only a few days later, the Whitleys called.

The Wise County Episcopalians met on Church Street for the first time May 17. The Whitleys cleared the building of cobwebs, and Motsenbocker fixed the air conditioning and heating system. Now the little white pews hold 20 people, but the Whitleys hope more will join them. The chapel’s capacity is 50 people.

“It’s been a very tedious journey, but it is a journey of joy,” Mark Whitley said.

The church meets every Sunday at 10 a.m. for morning prayer. Visiting priests perform the Holy Eucharist every first Sunday of the month.

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New indigent burial policy approved http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/new-indigent-burial-policy-approved/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/new-indigent-burial-policy-approved/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:15:00 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91642 Wise County commissioners Tuesday approved a new indigent burial policy as presented by County Judge J.D. Clark.

The issue recently came under scrutiny when it was discovered that $37,197 was spent in fiscal year 2014 on 30 indigent burials, and no one was verifying if applicants qualified for the program.

“We’ve come up with a good, new plan that would make us very involved in who’s approved and who’s not for indigent burials,” Clark said. “I think we’ll make sure our tax dollars are being spent for those programs for people who actually qualify rather than … kind of freely across there.”

“Indigent,” also called “pauper,” refers to a person whose estate lacks resources to pay for final arrangements, and according to the Texas Health and Safety Code, the county commissioners are responsible for providing for those who qualify.

Previously, applications were filled out at funeral homes, and although asked about income and available cash, that information was never verified by the county. Clark first discussed the issue with commissioners May 11.

The program he outlined Tuesday will be handled by Wise County Indigent Health based on referrals. Clark said if a funeral home representative is working with a family they think might qualify for indigent burial, they will give them a pre-screening form.

The form asks the applicant if they are willing to provide copies of their most recent tax return, pay stubs, checking and savings account information, documentation of other benefits received and information on life insurance policies.

Refusal to fill out this form completely will result in automatic denial.

If the pre-screening form is accepted, the applicant then completes a Request for Information, which asks them to provide the documents listed above. The indigent health office will use that information to determine if the applicant has been 21 percent below the National Minimum Income Standard for the last 90 days or if there are any other means available for assistance.

The applicant must also prove their residency and have been a Wise County resident for at least 90 days.

If a person is approved for indigent burial, the county will contact the funeral home. The person will receive a basic casket and graveside service, and the funeral home will bill the county auditor.

Clark said the county also will ask if an applicant is a military veteran.

“We want to make sure that, if a veteran passes away that qualifies for indigent status, they still get a proper veteran’s sendoff,” he said.

Clark explained the entire application process is the same required for indigent health care.

“We did 31 indigent burials last year without a process like this, and 29 people countywide are qualified for indigent health care services. Something just doesn’t add up there,” he said.

“We owe it to our taxpayers and system to do this … I think we need to be involved from the get-go if someone thinks they qualify for indigent burials or cremation,” Clark continued.

“We shouldn’t put it on the funeral homes to decide who’s indigent and who’s not,” he said. “They don’t have the means to do that, and they shouldn’t have to do that. When we’re the one paying the bill, we need to be the one saying whether or not someone qualifies.”

At this time, cost to the county is $1,200 per burial, plus $400 if the person needs a burial plot.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns made a motion to approve the new policy and application process, but before there was a second, Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy and Precinct 3’s Harry Lamance had questions.

“Is this for burial, cremation or both?” Kennedy asked.

Clark said it applies to either burial process.

“We decided not to change that,” he said. “It can go either way. The issue here is how people are approved and qualified, not what burial process they choose.”

Lamance asked Indigent Health Care Director Beverly Kalisek if the new procedures would overload her staff, but she reassured him it would not be a problem.

Kennedy then gave the policy a second, and it was approved unanimously. Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White was not present.

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Former principal Young remembered for service to DISD http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/former-principal-young-remembered-for-service-to-disd/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/former-principal-young-remembered-for-service-to-disd/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:14:07 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91640 Decatur lost a longtime educator and namesake for a local elementary this week.

Allen Ray Young

Former Decatur ISD teacher and principal Allen Ray Young died at the age of 86 Tuesday in Decatur.

Funeral for Young is 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6, at Sycamore Baptist Church with burial at Sycamore Cemetery. Family visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 5, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Young, who grew up in the Sycamore community near Decatur, began teaching in Decatur in 1949 at Decatur Junior High. His teaching career was interrupted a year later by the Korean War.

He served two years in the U.S. Army, in Germany.

Another longtime Decatur educator, principal and elementary school namesake, J.E. Carson, grew up not far from Young, and the two were later stationed at the same camp in Germany.

“If the Russians attacked, … (and) if the Americans had to retreat, he and a few other guys were to stay there and destroy everything they couldn’t take with them,” Carson said. “There we are, two guys raised up about a mile apart, he was to be the last one to leave, and my job was to lead a convoy of these American dependents to the French coast out of harm’s way. I was going to be the first one out, and Allen Ray was going to be the last one out.”

When his service time was up, Young returned to teaching and coaching in Decatur.

Carson remembered that Young taught science and coached football, basketball and track for many years.

“He had good discipline in his classroom, and I think he was a good coach,” Carson said, adding that he had many successful athletic teams.

After 24 years of teaching at Decatur, he became principal at Decatur Elementary. He would spend the last 14 years of his educational career in that position until his retirement in 1986.

Rann Elementary teacher Lou Hitt was hired for her first teaching job in 1981 by Young. She recalled him being a strong disciplinarian and someone who truly cared about his teachers.

“All the teachers were like a family,” Hitt said. “We really got to visit a lot with each other. He was always in the teachers’ lounge to visit with us.”

Young also knew the teachers’ families, and even long after his retirement, he would inquire about their well-being.

Young married Nelda Ramey in 1954. Like her husband, Nelda Young spent several decades as a teacher and administrator in the Decatur school district.

When Decatur ISD opened its third elementary in the fall of 2010, the district chose the name “Young Elementary” to honor the couple.

Following his retirement, Young devoted more time to his farm in the Sycamore community, served on the Slidell School Board and was an active member of the Sycamore Baptist Church where he served as deacon and taught a men’s Bible class.

Young’s family has requested that donations be made to the Decatur ISD Education Foundation.

The full obituary will be featured in the next midweek Wise County Messenger.

Editor’s note: Knox served on the school naming committee for Young Elementary.

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Greyhounds find sweeping success http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/greyhounds-find-sweeping-success/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/greyhounds-find-sweeping-success/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:13:10 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91637 Sarah Beaver didn’t get to the end of the test in computer applications Tuesday.

“It was a long test,” Beaver said. “I was right at the end.”

We Are the Champions

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS – Slidell students (from left) Shelby Vanover, Sarah Beaver, Morgan Barnes and Mason Maynard won the Class A computer science state title. Submitted photo

But the Slidell junior completed enough to bring home the state title. Beaver garnered the gold medal in computer applications – one of her two individual medals at the University Interscholastic League academic state meet in Austin.

“I wasn’t expecting that. It’s my first year in computer applications,” Beaver said. “I felt good in the test even though I didn’t get to finish.”

Beaver credited teammate Morgan Barnes and teacher Becky Reeder for helping her.

She took second in computer science, helping her team to the state crown in the event. Mason Maynard took fifth in the event and Shelby Vanover sixth.

“That was a surprise. It’s our first year at state,” Beaver said. “We were all trying to do our best.

“The biggest moment was at the awards, getting second and standing between two guys. In the computer events there are not many girls. I thought it was a big accomplishment for girls to be there and getting a medal.”


After reading the prompt for his ready writing event, Shelby Vanover felt confident.

“It was something about technology and how people are afraid,” Vanover said. “It was about an AI scare. That plays into my wheelhouse. I was able to tie into my knowledge of science fiction.”

The Slidell junior wrote his way to a Class A title in the event.

“This is crazy to win state in a writing event,” Vanover said. “I’ve always been better at math and not that great in English.”

Vanover, who was also on the state championship computer science team, said he took a college writing class that helped him improve dramatically.


Senior Morgan Barnes hit the road back from Austin to Slidell for graduation Friday with a collection of medals.

Barnes finished second in literary criticism, third in computer applications and was on the state championship computer science squad. Barnes also garnered a third-place marketing honor in the Class A one-act play theatrical design awards.

“I can’t ask for a better way to end my senior year,” Barnes said.

Barnes tied for first in literary criticism but ended up with the silver medal after the tie-breaking essay.

“It’s a hard event,” Barnes said. “I didn’t think I was ever going to get there. I did it my freshman and sophomore year. I didn’t do it last year.”

Barnes made it to state all four years in high school.


The Slidell one-act play cast and crew presented “Ruby’s Story” for the final time Thursday in the Class A state finals.

According to senior Caitlin Pruett, who played the title role, the cast saved its best for last.

“It was the best performance we’ve given,” Pruett said. “It was the last one for the seniors and last one of the season, and we laid it all out on the line. It was a great performance.”

Morgan Barnes agreed: “It was the best we’ve ever done. We felt good on stage and gave it everything we have.”

Taylor Davis earned an all-star cast spot. Pruett earned honorable mention.

In the theatrical design awards, Barnes took third for marketing and Marisol Millan sixth. Khristian Talamantes finished sixth for set design.


Computer Applications: 1. Sarah Beaver; 3. Morgan Barnes
Computer Science: 2. Sarah Beaver; 5. Mason Maynard; 6. Shelby Vanover
Computer Science Team: 1. Slidell
Informative speaking: 3. Obed Galindo
Literary criticism: 2. Morgan Barnes
Persuasive speaking: 4. Caitlin Pruett
Poetry interpretation: 3. Jessy Goode
Ready writing: 1. Shelby Vanover


All-Star Cast: Taylor Davis
Honorable mention: Caitlin Pruett


Set design: 6. Khristian Talamantes
Marketing: 3. Morgan Barnes; 6. Marisol Millan


Feature writing: 2. Mickey Drewry

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Decatur police investigate home burglary http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-police-investigate-home-burglary/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-police-investigate-home-burglary/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:12:04 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91634 Decatur Police are investigating a home burglary that happened Thursday afternoon.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins said a man left his home in the 3100 block of South Farm Road 51, across from the Wise County Fairgrounds, at 4:15 p.m., and when he returned at 5 p.m., he discovered the break-in.

The door had been busted in and the house ransacked. Guns, money, jewelry and a video camera were among the stolen items.

No one was home at the time of the burglary.

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

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2 percent pay hike on the horizon http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/2-percent-pay-hike-on-the-horizon/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/2-percent-pay-hike-on-the-horizon/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:11:31 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91632 Northwest ISD employees will get a raise next school year.

School board members Tuesday night approved a 2 percent hike in pay for all employees. The district will absorb $2.4 million in costs for the raises.

“We want to make sure our employees recognize how much they mean to us,” said Josh Wright, school board president. “Putting more money into the employees’ pockets, we jumped at the chance. Everyone has worked hard to get together a great compensation plan.”

Accompanying the 2 percent raise, the district set the starting pay for beginning teachers at $51,000 – an $850 increase. New hires with five years experience will start at $52,250. Teachers coming into the district with 20 years of service will start at $59,000 and 30 years at $66,500.

The compensation plan was recommended by NISD administrators after the district initiated a study of its pay structure by the Texas Association of School Boards.

NISD Superintendent Karen Rue said based on TASB recommendations, pay was adjusted for different positions, including tradesmen employed by the district.

“We’re pleased to be in the top percent of districts in our region,” Rue said. “We offer a highly competitive salary and with that our employees know the board’s support is unparalleled.”

The pay raise means an additional $1,152.67 on average for teachers with a bachelor’s degree. Teachers with a master’s will receive an average increase of $1,247.98.

“We are one of the most sought after districts, and that has a lot to do with our pay and benefits,” said trustee Mel Fuller during discussion of the increase. “The 2 percent raise is fair and shows the staff we do care about them and want to keep them here with us.”

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Northwest ISD keeps same leadership http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/northwest-isd-keeps-same-leadership/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/northwest-isd-keeps-same-leadership/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:10:42 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91630 Northwest ISD will remain under the same leadership for the next year.

NISD trustees Tuesday re-elected Josh Wright school board president, Mark Schluter vice president and Devonna Holland board secretary.

Wright, who was first elected in 2009, will start his second year leading the board.

“It’s been an honor. This is a great team to work with,” he said. “Working with Dr. [Karen] Rue and the rest of the board is great. It’s truly a team. We’re blessed with what we have in this district.”

Schluter was elected in 2006 and is the longest-serving current board member. Holland was elected in 2008.

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Thomas retires from Wise Choices http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/thomas-retires-from-wise-choices/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/thomas-retires-from-wise-choices/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:10:03 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91628 For Branda Thomas, retirement doesn’t mean she plans to stop working.

In fact, her plans are already laid out for a family photography business. It’s really not so different from the first time she retired several years ago. After all, she found herself in a whole new line of work then, too.

New Direction

NEW DIRECTION – Branda Thomas, the director of Wise Choices Pregnancy Center, is retiring after seven years. “I felt like I had done kind of what I needed to do here, and I felt like they needed someone younger with more energy to take over,” Thomas said of her retirement. “Not that I’m old or anything.” Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Thomas retired from elementary education after 27 years in 2007 and began volunteering around the county. She frequently helped at Wise Choices Pregnancy Center, where she knew the director, Eve Roberts, from Sunday school class. Roberts asked Thomas to join the team at Wise Choices before her retirement, and Thomas soon discovered that working at the center was a natural fit for her.

“I just felt my heart being drawn here,” Thomas said. “I was very passionate about this work.”

When Roberts announced she was leaving Wise Choices, she encouraged Thomas to take her place. Thomas felt reluctant to apply for the director position, worrying that she was unqualified and that her husband might not want her to take on another job.

Instead, Thomas’ husband became her biggest supporter, reminding her that her experiences as an elementary teacher and principal could be an asset. After praying about it together, Thomas decided to apply for the job.

“He said maybe I had had all that training so I could take this job,” Thomas said. “I feel like God lead me here, and God placed me in this position and allowed me the privilege of being here.”

Since she took over Wise Choices seven years ago, Thomas has implemented many changes. She hired a bilingual woman to run the resource center, opened Wise Kids Resale, added a church liaison position, increased Wise Choices’ social media presence and, what she considers her biggest accomplishment, started a men’s outreach for the significant others of the women coming to the pregnancy center.

Thomas also takes pride in how well the staff and volunteers at Wise Choices get along.

“One of my gifts that I have is interpersonal relationships,” Thomas said. “I’m not a great communicator, but I work well with everyone, and I try to have a sense of peace here. I feel like this is God’s ministry, and everyone should be able to work together in harmony.”

But Thomas considers the overall legacy of Wise Choices to be more important than her own. According to Thomas, more than 11,111 women have come through Wise Choices considering an abortion and then changed their minds.

One story that stands out in her mind is that of a young woman who got lost in Fort Worth looking for an abortion clinic. That woman then came to Wise Choices and after seeing a sonogram of her baby decided to keep the child. The whole staff celebrated with her.

“I think that’s a great accomplishment. That’s not me, that’s the Wise Choices team, the group of volunteers we have, our staff,” Thomas said. “We have the best working staff and volunteers that anyone could ask for.”

Her staff members also greatly respect her. Susan Beggs, Wise Choices’ bookkeeper, said Thomas has a heart for unborn children and young people in Wise County.

“For the last seven years, she has followed her heart and led Wise Choices with excellence,” Beggs said. “Her efforts will have a lasting impact on this community.”

Thomas decided to retire at this time because she feels that the center and the staff will benefit from a younger director with new ideas. Thomas said there’s nothing she would change about her time at Wise Choices.

“I think I did most everything I set out to do,” she said.

The new director, Connie McCrary, starts in June. Wise Choices will hold an open house 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, June 1, to welcome McCrary and say goodbye to Thomas.

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Barricades serve purpose, do not remove http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/barricades-serve-purpose-do-not-remove/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/barricades-serve-purpose-do-not-remove/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:09:03 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91625 County engineer Chad Davis reminded citizens this week that barricades placed on county roads are there to keep the public safe and should not be removed.

County crews have been placing barricades in various locations since May 7 due to high water and damaged roads, but many of those barricades have been ignored, moved and in some cases, stolen.

It’s a Class B misdemeanor to drive around a barricade placed because water is over the road. Davis said most high-water rescues could be avoided if citizens would heed the barricade warning.

“Visibility of the barricades is limited at best in rural areas with no surrounding lights and in the rain, and it’s almost impossible to see a washed out road,” Davis said in an email. “Flooding conditions across the county and state have resulted in high-water rescues that could have probably been prevented if everyone would obey the law.

“Please exercise good sense, caution and respect for the barricades placed to protect you,” he said. “And don’t drive through water, even if there are no barricades. The emergency responders value their lives, too.”

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Drewry earns state silver http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/drewry-earns-state-silver/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/drewry-earns-state-silver/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:08:34 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91623 Mickey Drewry put her shopping and dinner plans in Austin on hold Tuesday evening to go to the journalism awards at the University Interscholastic League academic state meet.

Smiles at State

SMILES AT STATE – Rachael Ussery and Mickey Drewry competed for the Decatur UIL journalism team in Austin this week, with Drewry winning the 4A state silver medal in feature writing. Submitted photo

There the Decatur junior picked up something more memorable than souvenirs – the 4A silver medal in feature writing.

“It meant a lot,” Drewry said. “To do it as a junior advances my goals for next year. It also meant a lot to do it in Mrs. [Cindy] Berry’s last year at Decatur.”

Berry, the longtime DHS journalism teacher, has accepted the same position at Eaton High School in Northwest ISD. Berry offered praise for Drewry.

“To see the culmination of Mickey’s hard work for three years is a joy,” Berry said. “You can only do so much as a coach. Her hard work earned this.”

Drewry was one of two Decatur journalists competing at state. Rachael Ussery competed in news writing. Along with feature writing, Drewry made it to state in headline writing.

After the contest, Drewry said she and Ussery were urged to go to the awards ceremony by their sponsor.

“We knew one of us had placed but didn’t know which one,” Drewry said. “They announced news first and then I knew I was the one that placed but didn’t know what. It was an anxious feeling waiting for them to call 4A. I was sitting on the edge of my seat. Headline writing is my strength, and when they called the feature category, I was thinking I wasn’t going to get anything.”

“It was shocking to place in a contest that I didn’t expect to do well in,” Drewry added.

In the state feature event, a press conference is held with a special guest. This year’s guest was UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt, who spoke on his career.

“It was difficult,” Drewry said about the press conference and topic. “He wasn’t retiring, and there was no future event. I didn’t know what to write about.

“I just put words on the page and hoped it flowed.”

Berry said she got a text from Drewry after the event, calling it “torture.”

But the silver medal made the experience far more pleasant, even if it delayed shopping and dinner plans.

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Football: Dream come true – Wilson starts as Chico AD http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/football-dream-come-true-wilson-starts-as-chico-ad/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/football-dream-come-true-wilson-starts-as-chico-ad/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:07:31 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91620 After 20 years of coaching, Lane Wilson finally realized his dream of becoming a head football coach and athletic director when the Chico ISD Board of Trustees voted him into the position Tuesday.

GETTING A CHANCE – Lane Wilson was named the athletic director at Chico this past week. He takes over for Stephen Carter, who resigned from the post earlier this month. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It was a dream come true,” Wilson said. “It has been a career goal for me and I finally got my shot. I’m going to make the most of it.”

Wilson has been the offensive coordinator at Chico for the last two years and he was immediately amazed by the support of the community upon arrival.

“They were coming off of back-to-back winless seasons when I got here,” Wilson said. “We won the first game of the season and that was like the Super Bowl here.

“There were people all in the locker room. It was really cool. It was probably one of the coolest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

The enthusiasm was an endearing sight for Wilson, who led the Dragons to three straight winning seasons.

Wilson’s career began in the small town of Whitney, where he stayed for a year before spending nine years at Bowie.

“I loved Bowie,” he said. “It’s a great town with great people and kids. I have a lot of good memories at that place.”

When coaching friend Mike Chaney went to Alvord, Wilson followed and coached the Bulldogs for five years, leading them to their first 2A playoff appearance.

When the Alvord athletic director at the time, Don Deweber, retired, Wilson heard of a new opportunity in Chico with another coaching friend named Stephen Carter.

Though the coaching staff received support during Carter’s tenure as athletic director, when Carter announced that he would be leaving Chico, Wilson wondered how much support he would get for the job.

When the Chico ISD Board of Trustees met for a special meeting Tuesday, the support for Wilson was evident.

Thirteen students and 16 adults attended the meeting, all in support of Wilson’s hiring.

Student/athletes like Jaston McBee, Kalan Johnson, Tyler Melton and Jessica Redwine all pleaded with the board to hire Wilson.

“It brought tears to my eyes really, to get that kind of support,” Wilson said. “I love these kids here, and seeing that they had my back really meant a lot to me, because they know I’ve got their back. So, it was great.”

Wilson said his entire philosophy centers around kids in an ameteur sporting world that continually moves toward being results-based.

“I’m all about the kids and the results come out of that,” he said. “The kids know that I’m about them, that I care about them and that I want to see them be successful. They produce the results, not me.

“When kids know that you care about them in teaching or coaching, whatever it is, that’s when they’ll work for you and do what you ask them to do. That’s when they’ll meet your expectations.”

The new head coach also understands that his hiring was a vote toward continuity, something the seniors of 2016 desperately want.

“Being able to see the same faces on a daily basis is more important than anything,” Wilson said. “If you’re seeing different faces and a new program every year, it takes a while to get into that program.

“This senior class was in eighth grade when I got here. Our same offseason and football practice and the way we practice has been the same all through high school.”

That continuity extends to Wilson’s family.

He and his wife Jana will be able to remain in the same town, along with their two daughters, Kendall, who is in high school and another, Rylie, who will enter the fourth grade next year.

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Baseball: Gam garners 8-4A MVP – Johnson takes top offensive honor http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/baseball-gam-garners-8-4a-mvp-johnson-takes-top-offensive-honor/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/baseball-gam-garners-8-4a-mvp-johnson-takes-top-offensive-honor/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:06:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91617 After hitting .350 for the season with a .426 on-base percentage, Decatur second baseman Jesus Gam was named the District 8-4A MVP.

Gam was joined on the all-district list by his teammate, AJ Johnson, the offensive MVP who led the Eagles with a .441 batting average, 21 RBIs, 11 doubles, three home runs and a .563 OBP.

League Leader

LEAGUE LEADER – Decatur’s Jesus Gam was named the 8-4A MVP. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Bridgeport’s Corbin Coleman finished the season with a 2.6 ERA that included 45 strikeouts and 10 walks, while also hitting .240 to take the Newcomer of the Year award.

Tyler Ticknor was awarded the Sophomore of the Year award after hitting .333 for Decatur and driving in nine runs.

Decatur’s Mason Bauer was selected as the Pitcher of the Year.

Bauer’s 1.73 ERA and 36 innings on the hill proved him to be Decatur’s workhorse pitcher.

The Eagles’ coach, Brian Tickell, was named the Coach of the Year after winning a district championship in his first year at Decatur.

POWERFUL LEADER – Decatur’s AJ Johnson earned 8-4A Offensive MVP with his performance this season. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


MVP: Jesus Gam, Decatur

Offensive MVP: AJ Johnson, Decatur

Newcomer of the Year: Corbin Coleman, Bridgeport

Sophomore of the Year: Tyler Ticknor, Decatur

Pitcher of the Year: Mason Bauer, Decatur

Utility Player of the Year: AJ Torres, Castleberry

Coach of the Year: Brian Tickell


Pitcher: Logan McPherson, Springtown; JP Ortiz, Castleberry

Catcher: Michael Hicks, Decatur

Infield: Russell Gideon, Springtown; Derrick Potts, Decatur; Kaleb Chesney, Springtown; Hayden Sutherland, Bridgeport; Jorge Rodriguez, Castleberry

Outfield: Julian Gomez, Castleberry; Lane Morrow, Bridgeport; Augie Hernandez, Castleberry

Designated Hitter: Ben Crofford, Decatur


Pitcher: Joey Knight, Lake Worth; Jared Huff, Bridgeport; Clayton Egle, Decatur; Eric Aguillon, Castleberry

Catcher: Colter Olhousen, Lake Worth

Infield: Kade Parnell, Castleberry; Jeffery Parsons, Lake Worth

Outfield: Trey Penny, Decatur; Chance Nelson, Springtown; Roger Guajardo, Castleberry

Utility: Mason Baker, Bridgeport

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Baseball: Black to play at SFA http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/baseball-black-to-play-at-sfa/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/baseball-black-to-play-at-sfa/#comments Sat, 30 May 2015 18:05:06 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91613 Paradise catcher Skylar Black is headed to East Texas to continue his baseball career.

Black inked a letter of intent to play at Division I Stephen F. Austin Thursday.

Becoming a Lumberjack

BECOMING A LUMBERJACK – Paradise senior catcher Skylar Black signed a letter of intent this week to play baseball at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches. He was a first-team 9-3A pick this year. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

“I’m glad to get the opportunity to go play and prove myself,” Black said. “This is something I’ve dreamed about.”

Black got the offer to join the Lumberjacks after a tryout last weekend.

Black was a consistent performer at the plate and behind it for the Panthers over the past four years. As a senior, he earned first-team 9-3A. He had 15 RBIs and five extra-base hits during district play. He had a perfect fielding percentage.

“He’s been a great hitter and great defensive catcher,” Paradise coach Mike Fehler said. “I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to play at the next level. He’s deserved it.”

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