WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:52:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Monday, March 2, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/monday-march-2-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/monday-march-2-2015/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:18:15 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=88016

WEATHER FORCES RESCHEDULING OF WEEKEND EVENTS – Icy conditions remained across Wise County into Sunday, causing more cancellations and postponements over the weekend. The Decatur and Wichita Falls Hirschi 4A Region I area basketball game slated for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Bowie High School was postponed until 7:30 tonight at the same site. Decatur Athletic Director Mike Fuller said officials from Paris were unable to make the trip to Bowie. Bridgeport and Iowa Park moved their game to 6:30 tonight in Graham. They were scheduled to play after Decatur in Bowie Saturday. The Slidell and Avinger game scheduled for Saturday in Honey Grove was also postponed until 7 tonight. Local weather watchers reported Friday snowfall totals of 4 inches in Decatur, 3.5 in Alvord and 2.5 in Rhome. The National Weather Service reported some parts of Wise County saw as much as 7 inches of snow. Temperatures finally climbed above freezing in Decatur Sunday morning.

YOUTH FAIR BEGINS – The 63rd Annual Wise County Youth Fair begins at 8:30 today with the Horse Show at NRS Arena. The Youth Fair Queens contest was postponed from Saturday to 7 tonight at the Women’s Building at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $5 for adults/students and free for kids under school age.

ROAD CLOSURE - Cemetery Road in Decatur will be closed at the BNSF railroad crossing near Poco Monday and Tuesday. BNSF is replacing the rails. The work was rescheduled from last week due to inclement weather.

PBR RESERVED SEATS  SOLD OUT — WC Challenger Charities announced Monday morning that reserved seats to the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge presented by First State Bank on May 30 are sold out. The group is in contact with a vendor to bring temporary seating to the arena for this event. Plans should be finalized within two days. Check wcchallenger.org or the group’s Facebook page for updates on additional tickets.

HAMBURGER FUNDRAISER – Making the Change Relay for Life team is holding a hamburger fundraiser 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday at Harwood Park in Bridgeport. Cost is $5 for hamburgers, chips and a drink. Reserve a meal by calling 940-683-3010. Deliveries will be made in the Bridgeport area. Walk-ups are welcome.

COTTONDALE VFD FUNDRAISER – Cottondale Volunteer Fire Department is having a fundraiser 5-8 p.m. March 13. Dinner will include pancakes and sausage, tea and coffee. Donations will be accepted for each plate. Drawings will be held for a television, two quilts and a mystery weekend. Tickets are $2 each at the door.

BASKETBALL TOURNEY – Decatur Junior Women’s Club 3-on-3 basketball tournament is Friday, March 27. Register online by Wednesday, March 25, at poweredbysportssignup.com. Those registered by March 19 will receive a free T-shirt. Call Sara, 940-206-0400.

WALK ACROSS TEXAS – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County is sponsoring Walk Across Texas, an eight-week walking program, scheduled to begin today. Get together a team of up to eight people and walk together or individually. The team tracks its total miles to see if it can cover 830 miles “across Texas” in eight weeks. The goal is to establish an exercise habit. Participation is free. Call the Extension office, 940-627-3341.

FUNERALS – Services for Larry McBride, 70, of Paradise and Dorothy L. Durham, 92, of Bridgeport are pending at Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

FUNERAL for Jimmy Williams, 82, of Boyd is 2 p.m. today at the First Baptist Church in Boyd with burial at Boyd Cemetery. Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd is handling arrangements.

FUNERAL for Doyle W. Dickerson, 76, of Alvord is 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Alvord with burial at Alvord Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

SERVICE for Patsy M. Hornsberger, 72, of Decatur is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Snowbound: Winter precipitation creates treacherous roadways http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/snowbound-winter-precipitation-creates-treacherous-roadways/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/snowbound-winter-precipitation-creates-treacherous-roadways/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:59:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=88003 Winter returned to Wise County Friday morning with periods of heavy snow causing car accidents on many of the county’s major thoroughfares.

Shovelling Sand

SHOVELING SAND – City of Decatur employees Joe Tax (left) and Robert Gage sand streets by hand Friday afternoon. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Multiple accidents were reported on Farm Road 51 and U.S. 81/287, including more than one rollover.

As of press time Friday, there were at least 32 accidents throughout the entire county, according to Wise County dispatch.

By 9:30 a.m. Friday, snow covered most of the roads around the county.

Multiple road closures were also reported at various times throughout the day, including the intersection of U.S. 81/287 and County Road 2195. U.S. 81/287 South was backed up for almost an hour around 11:30 a.m. Friday after an 18-wheeler stalled in the middle of the road near Don Jose’s Mexican restaurant.

Standstill Traffic

STANDSTILL TRAFFIC – Traffic on U.S. 81/287 in Decatur came to a halt for about an hour Friday afternoon when an 18-wheeler stalled in the middle of the highway. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Alvord, Boyd and Paradise schools all called off classes early Friday morning. Weatherford College and county offices also closed. Bridgeport, Chico, Decatur, Northwest and Slidell schools all closed early at different times throughout the day.

The Bridgeport Bulls and Decatur Eagles’ 4A Region I area basketball games were postponed to Saturday. Decatur takes on Wichita Falls Hirschi at 3:30 p.m. in Bowie, and the Bridgeport/Iowa Park game will follow at 5:30.

Amanda Schroeder, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said Friday morning that periods of snow were expected through Friday afternoon, and temperatures were not expected to rise above freezing Friday.

Drive Safe

DRIVE SAFE – A Decatur sand truck drives down the road Friday to ensure the streets are safe for travel. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Additional precipitation was expected Friday night and into Saturday.

“It will transition overnight into freezing rain,” Schroeder said. “Less than a tenth of an inch is expected. Saturday afternoon temperatures will climb above freezing in the afternoon.”

Decatur Fire Department Chief Mike Richardson advised residents to stay inside if possible.

“If you don’t have to be out, stay home,” he said. “If you do have to get out into it, just take it slow.

“Be very careful and make sure someone knows where you’re at at all times,” he said. “Carry a fully charged cell phone with you and some blankets in your car and some food, too, in case you get stranded.”

This was the second winter weather event of the week for Wise County, after a 1/2-inch to inch of sleet Sunday night closed schools Monday and Tuesday.

Schools Out

SCHOOL’S OUT – Bridgeport High school let its students out at 1 p.m. Friday after almost 2 inches of snow fell in the community. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Happy To Go Home

HAPPY TO GO HOME – Gabriela Lopez picks up her son, Julian, from Bridgeport High School shortly before the school closed at 1 p.m. Friday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Snow Angel

SNOW ANGEL – Valeria Valdez shows off her snow angel skills Friday in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Snow Day

SNOW DAY – Diego, Valeria and Veronica Valdez enjoy their time off from school Friday afternoon in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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County commissioners to hit the road http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/county-commissioners-to-hit-the-road/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/county-commissioners-to-hit-the-road/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:56:19 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87994 Wise County commissioners will venture outside the county seat this year to mix and mingle with the public in a series of four mobile meetings.

The group unanimously approved the program, proposed by County Judge J.D. Clark at their meeting Thursday, despite initial pushback from Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White.

In an effort to reach out to the community, Clark proposed having quarterly evening meetings, each in a different county precinct. At each meeting there will be a community forum, a report from the county judge on recent and upcoming county issues, a report from the commissioner of that precinct on current and upcoming projects and a report from a department head or other elected official to showcase the work of that office or department. Clark also plans to have local students lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Any agenda items would be for discussion only because according to state law, commissioners are not allowed to take action on items while outside the county seat.

Clark explained that 9 a.m. meetings on Mondays are not convenient for many people to attend, and he felt like the mobile meetings would allow officials to “more effectively and directly engage with the communities in Wise County.”

“Instead of expecting everybody to come to county government, then take the county government out to everybody else,” he said. “I think there may be some months where we’re the only ones, but there may be some months where the place is packed, and they want to hear what we’re up to.”

Clark had proposed that if approved, the first meeting be in Slidell during March.

White was quick to voice his opposition.

“I have concerns about this, and I’m going to be very blunt,” he said. “We get asked occasionally to come to different areas to talk … I’ve been asked to come to a certain area east of town to tell people why I’m doing things the way I’m doing them.

“It gets into more of a gripe session than it does anything,” he said. “And like I’ve explained to them, if we went somewhere every time people wanted us, then we might as well tell our wives we’re not going to be at home.”

Clark said these programs would have a structured format, and although people would be allowed to speak in community forum, commissioners are not allowed to discuss anything with them. Commissioners can only listen.

“Then, say you’re the commissioner … and you’re going to report on what’s going on, you don’t have to open it up for the crowd to say, ‘What do you think?'” Clark said.

White wasn’t convinced.

“We don’t have to open it up, but you know as well as I do that they’ll open it up for you,” he said. “I mean, I’ll do whatever. It’s not a bad idea. I agree, but at the same time … are you asking all commissioners to be at Slidell or just the commissioner in that precinct?”

Clark said he’d like for everyone to be there that’s available.

“I think the county would appreciate it,” he said.

“I don’t mind speaking,” White said. “Don’t misunderstand me. But if it’s going to turn into a gripe and complaint session, I have a phone. They can stop by my barn. I don’t have to spend my night times out there doing that.

“Is that OK to say it like that?”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said if it’s moderated right, the meeting shouldn’t result in a “free-for-all.”

White continued to complain.

“Moderated, that’s the key,” he said. “But you’ve got four or five of us up there, and you’ve got 50 people in the precinct …”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy reassured White that he had nothing to worry about.

“I don’t think anyone will turn out to see you anyway,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “So you’re safe.”

Clark said he understood White’s concern, but he felt like it was important to give people a chance to “gripe, praise or whatever,” to which White agreed.

“I can take a minimum of four chewings per year, if that’s all I get,” Clark said.

White finally said he didn’t think it was “that bad of an idea.”

“I think it’s a good faith effort on the part of this court that we do that,” Clark said. “I think it’s good to go out and engage with people. What does it hurt to try it?”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance asked if the program was something they “can vacate if there’s a lack of interest.”

“Lack of y’all’s interest or someone else’s?” Clark asked with a laugh.

The judge went on to say that some months “it may just be us sitting around looking at each other, but I do think we’ll have some people that want to come out and visit with us.”

“I also think it’s a proactive way for each of you to say, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on in this precinct,” he said. “I would appreciate y’all giving it a try.”

Kennedy made a motion to approve the mobile meetings program, and Burns gave it a second. After his protests, even White voted in favor of it.

The first mobile meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at the Slidell High School cafeteria. In addition to the county judge and commissioner’s presentations, Sheriff David Walker will give a presentation on his department’s K-9 program.

Thursday’s meeting was rescheduled from Monday, which was canceled due to inclement weather.

COMMISSIONERS MOBILE MEETING

7 p.m., March 31
Slidell High School cafeteria

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Students show off tech skills http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/students-show-off-tech-skills/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/students-show-off-tech-skills/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:55:36 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87992 After pressing the button on the top of his robot, Aidan Crimin describes its motion as it starts to spin.

“It’s sort of like a victory dance,” he explains.

Robotic Action

ROBOTIC ACTION – Prairie View fourth-graders Kaleb Collins and Aiden Crimin give a demonstration with their robot during Northwest ISD’s Techno Expo Thursday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Crimin and fellow Prairie View Elementary fourth-grader Kaleb Collins made their presentation with the Lego robot Thursday night at Northwest High School during the district’s fifth annual Techno Expo. More than 1,100 students filled classrooms at the high school to make 400 presentation in breakout sessions.

The multimedia presentations by students from kindergarten through 12th grade were in a variety of subjects, including science, history and literature. The event gives students the opportunity to show off their technology skills to parents, community members, teachers and peers.

Crimin and Collins are members of Prairie View’s Lego Robotics Club. Teacher Samantha Bonnette is the sponsor.

“I don’t know a lot about robots or Legos,” Bonnette joked.

“They get really excited when they figure something out,” she said. “It’s fun to see the kids teach me about programming. It’s cool to see their faces light up when they learn something new.”

Bonnette said the school’s club includes students from third through fifth grades.

“The goal is to next year go to competition. There’s a regional competition,” Bonnette said. “This year they are getting accustomed to programming.

“It teaches them basic programming, problem solving and teamwork,” she said. “It’s the basic foundation for kids wanting to go into the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) program.”

Crimin and classmates had been working with the Lego Mindstorms EV3 software to program their robot for Thursday’s presentation. Crimin said he had to switch robots after running into issues.

“We put little tweaks to it,” Collins said.

The duo points out how the robot says “All Good” on top.

After getting a few last instructions from Bonnette, the fourth-graders entered the filled classroom for their presentation.

Crimin explained the changes in design they made and the process of building the robot.

“It’s hard to make but easy at the same time,” he said.

Collins handled the slides, detailing the programming process using the software. He showed the different functions from sound to movements that could be added.

“We tried to add a touch sensor, but we didn’t have enough time,” Collins said.

For their grand finale, Crimin put their robot on the floor to show off its spin and other movements.

After their successful presentation, Crimin and Collins resisted doing their own victory dance.

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Eagle Scout gives back to high school for final project http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/eagle-scout-gives-back-to-high-school-for-final-project/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/eagle-scout-gives-back-to-high-school-for-final-project/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:54:36 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87989 The official age-out deadline for the Boy Scouts is 18 years old. By that time, many Boy Scouts have already finished their Eagle Scout projects and have moved on to new endeavors.

FINAL PRODUCT – Bridgeport High School senior and recent Eagle Scout Bry Warren sits on one of the benches he built for his Eagle Scout project with materials from ACAM Machinery in Boyd. Warren built four benches and installed them at the high school so students could have a place to sit while they wait for the bus. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Bry Warren, a senior at Bridgeport High School, took a different route.

The 18-year-old, who had his Eagle Scout board of review Thursday night, returned to Boy Scout Troop 194 after taking a break for a few years.

“I did Cub Scouts for a few years and then got out,” Warren said. “Then my friend decided to start back up again, and I figured I’d join him, so I’ve been doing Scouts for the last two years.”

Warren’s Eagle Scout project can be seen in front of Bridgeport High School. He built four steel benches, painted in Bull Maroon, so that students could sit to wait on school buses after school. The entire project took him about two weeks, he said.

“There’s not really a lot of spaces to sit while you’re waiting on the bus, so I figured I’d make a better area for kids to sit,” Warren said.

Troop 194 Scoutmaster Scott Blevins said making Eagle Scout was Warren’s goal from day one.

“He said he wanted to become an Eagle Scout after he joined up again at 16, and we set up a timeline for him to make that happen,” Blevins said. “And he’s worked extremely hard on it.”

Blevins said it’s “highly difficult” to finish everything required for an Eagle Scout in two years, even if someone is a longtime Scout. It was especially difficult for someone who rejoined the Scouts at age 16. “He was one of the oldest Scouts I’ve had, and he’s demonstrated good leadership on how a good man should lead and conduct himself,” Blevins said.

Warren, who also played offensive line for the Bulls this season and works at the front desk of the high school for an hour a day, said he enjoyed seeing his project being utilized by the community.

“It’s really neat seeing it in use, and it’s nice to know I helped make that a reality,” he said.

He plans to enlist in the Navy next week and become a quartermaster.

“I think it would be really cool to be the one in charge of all the navigation on the ship,” he said.

Blevins said he is proud of what Warren has achieved in his two years as a Scout and looks forward to hearing about his exploits in the Navy.

“It’s a big goal, and we’re all real proud of him,” he said.

Hopefully the benches Warren built will stay in front of the high school for years to come.

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Alvord School Board meets, calls election http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-school-board-meets-calls-election/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/alvord-school-board-meets-calls-election/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:53:38 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87986 Meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon to make up for Monday’s ice-storm-postponed meeting, the Alvord School Board was barely able to get four members together to make up a quorum.

Still, they were able to call their May 9 school board election, issue the election order and vote to combine elections with the city of Alvord.

It took about 10 minutes.

Board members Charlie Matthews, John Schedcik, Vic Czerniak and Larry Nivens voted to call the election for places 1 and 2 on May 9.

Combining elections with the city is a requirement, according to Superintendent Bill Branum.

“If the city does not have an election, we’ll have to regroup and do it ourselves,” he said. “But we have to try and have a joint election.”

Branum read aloud the order of election detailing early voting days, hours and location, and it was all approved unanimously.

“That’s all we needed to do because Friday’s the deadline,” he said. “And it’s supposed to snow again Friday.”

The meeting adjourned at 2:10.

The board’s next meeting is Monday evening at 6.

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DPS invites peace officers to become troopers http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/dps-invites-peace-officers-to-become-troopers/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/dps-invites-peace-officers-to-become-troopers/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:53:05 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87984 The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is accepting applications for an advanced recruit school designed for current Texas law enforcement officers who are interested in becoming highway patrol troopers.

The application deadline is March 25, and the eight-week school begins June 21.

“We know there are highly qualified Texas peace officers who may be interested in becoming highway patrol troopers,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “DPS values the expertise and training these professionals possess, and this new recruit school is an excellent opportunity for current law enforcement officers to join DPS.”

This particular recruit school provides eligible officers in Texas an accelerated path to becoming a DPS trooper – versus the standard course that spans more than 20 weeks. Graduates of this class will be assigned primarily to DPS Regions 3 and 4 along the Texas-Mexico border to fulfill current needs in those areas.

Applicants must currently be working as a Texas peace officer with at least two years of patrol experience and hold a current and valid peace officer license issued by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).

The two-year experience requirement will not be waived.

Officers who are accepted will receive a salary of $54,128 ($4,510.69 monthly) for the duration of the eight-week school and upon graduation will earn an annual salary of $59,132 during the six-month probationary period. Once probation is complete, the trooper’s salary will be increased to $71,422.

Applicants must meet other eligibility requirements, including being a U.S. citizen and being at least 21 years old by the time they graduate from the academy. Applicants will be required to successfully complete a physical fitness test, written exam, a polygraph exam, background investigation, board selection interview, psychological exam, physical/vision exams and a drug screen.

For information or to apply, visit www.JoinDPS.com and click on “Advanced Commissioned Trooper Trainee School” or call 1-866-898-7667.

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Decatur City Council’s goal: ‘Get leaner’ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-city-councils-goal-get-leaner/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-city-councils-goal-get-leaner/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:52:30 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87982 City Finance Director Brad Burnett set the tone Thursday night, as the ice-delayed Decatur City Council meeting opened with annual reports from four department heads.

“This year we’re going to have to get a little bit leaner on our operations,” he said. “We’re not having those substantial increases like we’ve had in the past.”

Burnett’s report gave council members an overview of 2014, showing the city’s cash balance down $385,000 from last year. The general fund was down about $57,000 due to decreases in court fines, civic center receipts, sales tax and hotel occupancy tax income.

On top of that, an expanded street project cost $220,000 more than the previous year, and the city made $174,000 in capital purchases for various departments.

The general fund’s operating deficit of $352,000 was more than covered by a transfer of $418,000 from the water fund – the final repayment on a loan made several years ago.

Before that transfer, the water fund had an operating surplus of $276,000.

Burnett’s report was followed by reports from Planning Director Dedra Ragland, interim Public Works Director Greg Hall and Fire Chief Mike Richardson.

Those four reports, which were on the agenda for a half-hour, took about an hour and 15 minutes.

By contrast, the regular council meeting took about a half-hour.

The biggest item on that agenda was the presentation of the city’s annual audit report by CPA Scott Siegmund. Although Siegmund echoed many of the themes Burnett had outlined, his report on the city’s 2014 finances was more upbeat.

“Overall, the city saw a net increase in assets of $85,000,” he said. “That’s kind of remarkable when you’re talking about a $21 million operation. It’s remarkably consistent.”

He noted the city and its water/sewer operation paid down a million dollars in debt last year. And the overall decrease in revenue of $128,000 was seen as “pretty much break-even” on total revenue of $10 million.

Siegmund did cite the same downward trend Burnett expressed concern over, noting the city’s fund balances went down $195,148 last year.

“The past four years, revenues have been flat,” he said. “Unfortunately, the city can’t have four years of flat expenses. Expenses creep up, so the deficit grows. It’s been four years since revenues in the city’s general fund have really grown.

“The numbers are very consistent, year after year, but you have increases in fuel cost, personnel, health insurance.”

The city’s general fund balance is about half what it was four years ago, he said.

Still, he said, the city’s finances are sound.

“You collected $88,895 more than budgeted, and spent only $11,493 more than budgeted,” he said. “We’re not saying everything is awesome. We’re saying we didn’t see anything that would cause us to believe the city’s internal controls are not awesome.”

City Manager Brett Shannon commended Burnett and the city staff on hitting so close to the budget.

Siegmund was also impressed.

“That’s from your original budget that you did back in August of 2013,” he said. “Some cities will go back and amend the budget several times during the year.”

ELECTION CALLED

The council also officially called the May 9 election for places 2, 4 and 6 on the city council. Early voting opens Monday, April 27, and runs through Tuesday, May 5, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day except for Tuesday, April 28, and Tuesday, May 5, when it will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All early voting and election-day voting will be at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut.

The election will be held jointly with Decatur ISD. The school district, which has a bond proposal on the ballot, will hold two early voting sessions 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 27, and Monday, May 4, at the Decatur High School library.

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Grand Jury Indictements for Saturday, February 28, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/grand-jury-indictements-for-saturday-february-28-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/grand-jury-indictements-for-saturday-february-28-2015/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:51:51 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87980 A Wise County grand jury met Jan. 29 and returned the following felony indictments.

Christopher Raymond Martinez, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (one count); assault family/household member impede breath/circulation (one count)

Dennis Franklin Scaff, assault family/household member with previous conviction

Garrett Jabe Goyne, assault family/household member with previous conviction

Otis Parker Baird, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (two counts); assault family/household member impede breath/circulation (one count)

Alica Darlene Young, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Carla Jean Smith, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Greg Anthony Blevins, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Kaela Raeleen Weber, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

William Edward Barber, theft of property $20,000-$100,000

Carla Lynn Cherryhomes, possession of a controlled substance 1-4 grams

Nicholas Paul Deason, forgery financial instrument elderly

James France Hale, driving while intoxicated third or more

Regina Denise Cooper, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Richard Dean Gaston, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Terry Ray Henry, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Chester Lee Martin, possession of marijuana 4 ounces-5 pounds

Dennis Wayne Sanders, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Daniel Walter Planty, possession of a controlled substance 1-4 grams

Nicholas Ryan Oneal, manufacturing/delivery of controlled substance 4-200 grams (one count); manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance less than 28 grams in a drug free zone (one count)

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Basketball: Big opening statements – Bulls, Smith blast Venus http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-big-opening-statements-bulls-smith-blast-venus/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-big-opening-statements-bulls-smith-blast-venus/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:51:11 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87978 With 3.6 seconds left in the first quarter, Caleb Smith caught the inbound pass and diced through the Venus defense to drain a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer.

FLYING HIGH – Bridgeport’s Caleb Smith scores in transition against Venus. The Bridgeport guard poured in 29 points as the Bulls beat Venus to win a 4A bi-district title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Smith’s trey provided the perfect exclamation mark to the flawless 31-point first quarter for the Bridgeport Bulls on the way to the 90-33 victory in the 4A Region I bi-district tilt at Boswell High School’s Max Newcom Gym Wednesday.

“We felt good coming into this game,” said Bridgeport junior Keenan Holdman, who had eight points with nine rebounds, five steals and five assists. “We’ve been holding back and holding back after the game got canceled. It was good to get back on the court. We felt good about how we were going to play and the game plan.”

The playoff victory was Bridgeport’s first since 1998 and second since 1967.

“One day we’ll sit down and look back at it, but right now we’ll go back, break down the film and get ready for the next one,” said Bridgeport coach Alan Green.

The next one will be a matchup in the area round with Iowa Park at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Bowie High School.

Smith led the 11 Bulls that scored with 29 points. He had 17 in the first quarter and another 10 in the third quarter. After scoring on a layup in the first minute of the fourth, he sat most of the fourth with the rest of the Bridgeport starters.

“Caleb is an outstanding player,” Green said. “He works so hard. He has goals to accomplish. Anytime you see someone like that have success, it’s not by accident.”

Winning Smiles

WINNING SMILES – The Bridgeport Bulls celebrate the school’s first boys bi-district title in basketball since 1998. The Bulls beat Venus 90-33 to earn the title Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Smith had 11 points during a 15-0 run to end the first quarter as the Bulls (28-4) went up 31-8.

Bridgeport’s lead grew to 40, 54-14, at halftime after Ethan Chapman dropped all seven of his points in the second, and Devonte Patterson scored six of his 15.

Bridgeport did not commit a turnover in the first half and had only nine for the game. The Bulls also shot 55 percent, 38-for-63.

“It was a good way to get started,” Green said. “This will be a good film for us to go back and watch. There’s a lot we can tighten up on and be better at. For us to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to do that.

“But I won’t take anything away from these guys. They’ve worked so hard. It’s a fun group to coach and watch.”

As impressive as they were on offense, the Bulls were equally as good on defense, forcing 21 turnovers and limiting Venus (13-17) to 12 field goals.

“We know defense is what’s going to win us games,” Holdman said. “That was our mindset – get stops and the offense will come to us.

“This feels good and we’re going to enjoy it today. But starting tomorrow, we’ll look to the next game.”

BRIDGEPORT 90, VENUS 33

Venus … 8 … 6 … 9 … 10 … – … 33
Bridgeport … 31 … 23 … 18 … 18 … – … 90

Venus (13-17) – Kylon Allen 2, Easton Brown 2, Devan Pollard 9, Kalon Heim 2, Tyler McCarty 3, Josh Lindly 6, Sammy Luedke 2, Christian Robinson 1, Kelby Storm 6.

Bridgeport (28-4) – Jacob DelAngel 12, Devonte Patterson 15, Ethan Chapman 7, Keenan Holdman, John Freeman 3, Caleb Smith 29, Andrew Horton 1, Chayton Stotts 8, Connor Hurd 2, Justin Meyers 3, Dylan Banner 2.

Rebounding: Venus 21 (Storm 4); Bridgeport 42 (Holdman 9, Stotts 8). 3-pointers: Venus 6-24 (Pollard 3, Lindly 2); Bridgeport 8-22 (Smith 4, DelAngel 2).

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Basketball: Hix, Eagles top Alvarado http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-hix-eagles-top-alvarado/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-hix-eagles-top-alvarado/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:49:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87974 Mason Hix claimed he was nervous taking the floor for his first playoff game.

MEETING FRESH CHALLENGE – Decatur’s Mason Hix shoots over Alvarado defenders. Hix led the Eagles with 19 points. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur freshman hid any nerves well, knocking down his first seven shots and helping the Eagles out to an early lead.

Hix finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in Decatur’s 54-35 victory over Alvarado in the Class 4A Region I bi-district game at Chisholm Trail High School gym.

“I was nervous going out there,” Hix said. “But I got used to it and was comfortable at the end.”

With the victory, Decatur moves on to play old district foe Wichita Falls Hirschi in the area round at 3:30 Saturday in Bowie. The win was the Eagles’ fourth straight victory.

“This gives us some confidence going into the next game,” said Decatur junior point guard Cade Lamirand. “We’ve got some momentum going now and we’re rolling.”

Making his playoff debut, Hix got rolling in the first quarter with eight points.

“My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball,” Hix explained.

He also grabbed five boards and made one of his five steals in the frame as Decatur jumped out to the 15-2 lead.

“I expect that of him,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman. “Even though he’s a freshman, he’s a talented freshman. That’s the difference between him and other freshmen. He stepped up and made plays. It was his night. We don’t rely on one guy. We do it as a team. It was his time to step up and he did a good job.”

Lamirand and the other Decatur guards kept penetrating and getting the ball inside to Hix. Lamirand finished with eight assists to go along with nine points and five steals.

“Whenever you’ve got a 6’6″ kid in there, you just get it to them and hope he can finish over people,” Lamirand said.

Decatur went up 16, 24-8, with 3:05 left in the first half as Hix banked in a shot from 15 feet out.

The Eagles led 30-17 at halftime.

After Hix and fellow starting forward Parker Hicks picked up their fourth fouls in the third, the Eagles struggled to score. Decatur managed just six points in the frame but led 36-25 going to the fourth.

Alvarado pulled within six, 36-30, early in the fourth behind Tim Chatham. A pair of Holt Garner 3-pointers ended Alvarado’s push and gave the Eagles some breathing room at 45-31. Decatur ended the game with a 18-5 run.

“It got tight there and we got in foul trouble,” Coffman said. “Some guys stepped up. Holt hit a couple big shots. Dane Fitzgerald and Jake Warren came in and gave us a lift in the fourth quarter. Jake did a really good job against their number 24 (Chatham), battling him.

“It was an overall team effort. It wasn’t our prettiest performance but this time of year you just win and advance.”

DECATUR 54, ALVARADO 35

Decatur … 15 … 15 … 6 … 18 … – … 54
Alvarado … 2 … 15 … 8 … 10 … – … 35

Decatur (24-10) – Holt Garner 6, Parker Hicks 6, Cade Lamirand 9, Aaron Shetter 8, Bryce Elder 4, Mason Hix 19.

Alvarado (13-18) – Bradley Boulton 2, Trey Nixon 12, Joey Gibson 7, AJ Bates 1, Tim Chatham 13.

Rebounding: Decatur 27 (Hix 9); Alvarado 20 (Chatham 7). 3-pointers: Decatur 2-8 (Garner 2); Alvarado 2-14 (Nixon 2).

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Powerlifting: Building lifting legacy – Chico girls eye more state bids http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/powerlifting-building-lifting-legacy-chico-girls-eye-more-state-bids/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/powerlifting-building-lifting-legacy-chico-girls-eye-more-state-bids/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:48:52 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87971 Discipline.

Among the many things that make the Chico girls powerlifting team one of the best groups in the state, it’s discipline that keeps them at the top.

Last season, seniors Heidi Spann and Jordan Vidal, along with juniors Alli York and Anna Rodriguez, medaled at the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association state meet.

This year, Chico hopes to send eight lifters to the state meet.

Medal Collecting

MEDAL COLLECTING – The Chico girls powerlifting team has been a powerhouse this spring. The team hopes to send eight lifters to state after Monday’s regional meet. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

As Chico coach Heath Tullous and his four previous state medalists prepare for the regional meet and the state meet, discipline is one thing they all keep on their minds.

“Start low and make sure your form is there,” Rodriguez said. “You just want to put something on the board. As long as you have a number, you’re good. Then you work your way up.”

A lot of lifters start with too much weight and find themselves disqualified because they lack form and discipline.

“A lot of times, we train without weight or with very little weight,” Vidal said. “Getting that form right is a big deal for us.”

Tullous says that it usually takes a year to get down the proper form, especially for squat. With experienced lifters, Chico is ahead of the game.

As the success and the lifters have progressed through the years, Tullous says they can focus on different aspects of lifting.

From powerlifting suits to working on minor adjustments and techniques, the Chico team has advanced to the finer points of the sport.

“A lifter’s suit is a lot like golf clubs,” Tullous said. “You don’t want to get a new or inexperienced lifter in a really advanced suit. You kind of have to work your way up. That being said, a really talented lifter can see a lot of benefit from a strong suit.”

Chico has also added coach Tim Mynarcik, who was formerly the head powerlifting coach in Decatur. Tullous says that he is one of the better coaches in the state and adds a lot of knowledge and confidence to the group.

“This is a very coachable group,” he said. “What makes this group different is that they’re coming in with confidence. We get to show up to a meet as the team to beat. Especially since we’re Chico and we’re a smaller school, that’s a fun experience.”

The Chico lifters try to stay focused on themselves and doing their personal best, knowing that it will eventually get them where they want to go.

“You really want to try and worry about yourself,” York said. “If you lose that focus you can find yourself with bad form and technique. A lot of that has to do with having confidence in what your training and your experience.”

Occasionally, the lifters do run into stiff competition and must turn some of their attention to what other lifters are doing.

“Sometimes you have to get a lift to advance or win,” she said. “That’s when I feel like I’m at my best. When I really have to go head-to-head or push myself.”

Whatever the circumstance demands, the battle-tested group is ready to answer the call.

As for the future of Chico powerlifting, Tullous says that he has a strong supply of lifters coming down the line and doesn’t see an end to his school’s dominance in sight.

If they continue to succeed, Chico could be one of the first schools to become a powerlifting powerhouse. Of course that all depends on the ability to sustain a high performance level.

That will be put to the test when the girls team competes at regionals Monday at Wylie High School, and how they finish at the state meet in late March.

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Basketball: Hounds to face Avinger again – Slidell wins bi-district crown http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-hounds-to-face-avinger-again-slidell-wins-bi-district-crown/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-hounds-to-face-avinger-again-slidell-wins-bi-district-crown/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:47:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87968 There won’t be any love lost between Slidell and Avinger when the two teams meet for the Class A Region III area championship Saturday in Honey Grove.

Last season, Slidell (24-6) knocked Avinger out of the playoffs in overtime in the area round. They meet for the second straight year with a 4 p.m. tip.

The Slidell coaches and players don’t expect Avinger to forget that before this year’s game.

As for the Avinger team, Slidell coach Todd McCormick sees a big difference in the opponent’s size.

“They’re a little bit different than they were last year,” McCormick said. “Last year, they were more perimeter-oriented. They’ve got two 6’4″ players this year, so their size will play a bigger role in this game. Last season, they kind of had two shooters that we were able to stay with most of the time, but now the big guys add another element.”

The height difference may force the Slidell Greyhounds to run a lot of zone defense.

Still, McCormick wants to keep Avinger honest.

“We’re going to probably try to switch back and forth between zone and man defense,” he said. “The zone should help us keep those guys covered up pretty well, but we don’t want to just throw one look at them and give them an entire game to figure it out.”

McCormick also said that the mismatches can work both ways. He expects the quickness of his players to help create space against the taller, slower Avinger team.

Wednesday, it was clear who the better team was between Slidell and Waxahachie Faith Family.

The Greyhounds won the bi-district matchup 90-63 with 61 of Slidell’s points coming from Tyler Maynard and Khristian Talamantes.

Maynard finished the game with 40, while Talamantes had 21.

“I was super focused,” Maynard said. “I hadn’t been playing well lately, so I was focused on putting the other team out of the game.”

“It feels good to perform well in a significant game,” Talamantes added.

Slidell’s top two scorers say that the whole team will need to step up in the upcoming game.

“They’re going to want revenge,” Maynard said. “We need to push the tempo. Khristian and I are relied on to score but other guys have important roles. If we all do what we need to do we can win the game.”

The all-hands-on-deck mentality is nothing new for this group who understand that playoff runs consist of complete good teams.

“They’re a well-rounded team but that’s what the playoffs are about,” McCormick said. “Everybody is pretty good at this point.”

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Basketball: Santo holds off Lady Bulldogs’ rally – Alvord shoots 34 percent in area round loss http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-santo-holds-off-lady-bulldogs-rally-alvord-shoots-34-percent-in-area-round-loss/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-santo-holds-off-lady-bulldogs-rally-alvord-shoots-34-percent-in-area-round-loss/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:47:06 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87966 The Alvord Lady Bulldogs caused 25 turnovers and took 10 more shots than the Santo Lady Wildcats in Tuesday’s 2A Region II quarterfinal.

End of the Line

END OF THE LINE – Alvord coach John Shelton and players watch from the bench during the final minutes of Tuesday’s game. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Alvord did many of the things that have served them well in the past, but ultimately Santo weathered the storm and ended the Alvord season with a 65-58 victory.

“They hit a lot of shots in transition, pulling up and shooting,” said Alvord coach John Shelton. “They shot real well and made their free throws. Their shooting was better than ours and that was the difference in the game.”

The Lady Wildcats’ 48 percent shooting from inside the 3-point line was far better than the uncharacteristic 34 percent that Alvord posted.

With every failed Alvord shot attempt, Santo’s turnovers became less of a factor in the game.

It wasn’t all about the statistics.

Early in the third quarter, Alvord senior post Brianna Ponder exited with headaches and dizziness.

“I had a migraine and started getting dizzy and spacing out a little bit,” Ponder said. “I figured that if I couldn’t go 100 percent, then I couldn’t really help the team.”

Without Ponder, a big piece of Alvord’s offensive plan was unavailable.

It left Cierra Rangel without another major scoring threat down low. In a physical game, the Santo defense took advantage of the lost dimension.

“We had to start doing a lot of things that we hadn’t done since Christmas,” Shelton said. “We’ve been riding that high post/low post game between Brianna and Cierra offensively. It was getting hard to score. Cierra did a great job but she was getting double-teamed.”

An early run in the first quarter gave Santo the small lead they preserved for the entire game.

The Lady Bulldogs cut Santo’s lead to four points several times.

In the second half when Alvord worked back to get it within two, a stream of foul calls came down against them.

For the game, Alvord was called for 24 fouls to the Wildcats’ 12. The second-half foul disparity was 14-4 in favor of Santo. A few of those final Alvord fouls were attempts to stop the clock late in the game.

“Our young kids gained a lot of experience and we had a good season,” the coach added. “I just hate it for the two seniors.”

Ponder and Katie Claborn, Alvord’s two seniors played significant roles in the starting lineup.

“It ended shortly and it ended too soon,” Claborn said. “I’m very proud of the team and how far we’ve come. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love my teammates. We played together and fought together and learned this new system and stuck together.”

SANTO 65, ALVORD 58

Alvord … 17 … 15 … 16 … 10 … – … 58
Santo … 22 … 18 … 11 … 14 … – … 65

Alvord: Cierra Rangel 25, Katie Claborn 15, Brianna Ponder 7, Brittany Gayler 6, Paycee Edgett 3, Bailey Hamilton 2.

Santo: Chasen Howard 15, Jaci Trotter 11, Makaylee Steiner 11, Sage Sparks 8, Reagan Raffaele 8, Lilly Motley 8, Caitlin Finley 2, Victoria Gilbreath 2.

Field goals – Alvord 16-46; Santo 20-41. 3-pointers: Alvord 5-19; Santo 2-14. Free throws: Alvord 10-15; Santo 15-25.

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Basketball: No. 3 Wylie ends Sissies’ run – Bridgeport’s season closes with 27 wins http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-no-3-wylie-ends-sissies-run-bridgeports-season-closes-with-27-wins/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-no-3-wylie-ends-sissies-run-bridgeports-season-closes-with-27-wins/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:46:10 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87963 Trailing 14-12 late in the first quarter, the Bridgeport Sissies were looking to hang with the second-ranked Abilene Wylie Lady Bulldogs in Wednesday’s 4A Region I quarterfinal in Graham.

COMING UP SHORT – Bridgeport’s Lauren Stowers tries to wrestle the ball away from an Abilene Wylie player during the Sissies’ loss Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Even after getting down 21-12 after the opening frame, a few decent possessions on both ends of the floor could have gotten Bridgeport back in the game.

That never materialized for the Sissies. Instead Wylie went on a 21-1 run on the way to the 68-29 victory.

“We were in a good place and then turned the ball over on seven straight possessions,” said Bridgeport coach Dallas Taylor. “When you dig a hole like that against a good team like this it makes it hard.”

Bridgeport made none of its four shot attempts in the second quarter, with a lone free throw as their only point in the period. The Lady Bulldogs matched their first-quarter output with another 21 points to take a 42-13 halftime lead.

The Sissies were only outscored 19-14 in the third quarter.

In the fourth, Bridgeport again struggled to score, netting two points.

The loss ended Bridgeport’s season at 27-5.

“Our kids represented Bridgeport well. They’ve had a remarkable season and a remarkable run,” Taylor said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”

Taylor also talked about her four seniors – Diana Garcia, Bailey Thompson, Lauren Stowers and Landrie Walsh.

“These four seniors were fed to the wolves early on in their careers,” Taylor said. “As sophomores and freshmen they were logging a lot of varsity minutes.

“They’ve done a good job of buying into what we want to do and working hard every day. They set the tone for everybody else, and remarkable runs like we’ve had this year is a testament to them coming in and working hard and that paying off. Not many teams in the state can say they won 27 games.”

ABILENE WYLIE 68, BRIDGEPORT 29

Bridgeport … 12 … 1 … 14 … 2- … 29
Abilene Wylie … 21 … 21 … 19 … 7- … 68

Bridgeport – Landrie Walsh 10, Bailey Thompson 5, Lauren Stowers 5, Diana Garcia 2, Elaina Peyton 2, Abbi Hatton 2, Megan Sturdivant 2, Taylor Stone 1

Wylie – Peyton Sanders 19, Brittany Brewer 18, Kinsey Christian 14, Courtney Shields 4, Makayla Mosley 3, Alissa Lackey 2, Mandi Garcia 2, Ragan Henson 2, Shannon Seale 2, London Weilert 2

Field goal: Bridgeport 6-28; Abilene Wylie 17-29. 3-pointers: Bridgeport 2-13; Abilene Wylie 5-14. Free throws: Bridgeport 9-14; Abilene Wylie 16-18. Turnovers: Bridgeport 26; Abilene Wylie 19.

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Basketball: Dodd City stops Slidell http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-dodd-city-stops-slidell/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/sports/basketball-dodd-city-stops-slidell/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:45:08 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87960 The Slidell Lady Greyhounds couldn’t slow down Dodd City Wednesday.

FIGHTING TO FINISH – Slidell senior Caitlin Pruett walks off the floor at the end of the Lady Greyhounds’ loss. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Dodd City scored at least 21 points in all four frames, rolling to a 90-62 win over the Lady Greyhounds in the Class A Region III quarterfinal at Van Alstyne High School.

“They are good,” said Slidell coach Cody Vanover. “We just couldn’t stop them. We also knew we had to hit some shots. We couldn’t beat them to the rim or in transition.”

The loss ended Slidell’s season at 27-5. It was also the final game for senior Caitlin Pruett, who finished with 27 points.

“With eight seconds left, Caitlin hits a bucket gets fouled and has her lip busted open. She goes and hits the free throw with her lip bleeding. That pretty much sums up her career.”

Kylie Franklin added 18 points and Kayler Talamantes 10.

Dodd City (29-4) jumped to a 23-13 lead in the first quarter and built the advantage to 49-22 at halftime.

Dodd City held a 60-43 edge going to the fourth and ended the game on a 30-19 run.

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What’s your story? http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/whats-your-story/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/whats-your-story/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:38:20 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87955 We’ve rearranged our beats here at the Messenger, and I’m now in charge of writing about more than just city council and school board meetings and the occasional feature story. In addition to those duties, I’m now writing stories about veterans, oil/gas and religion.

Jake Harris

Jake Harris

Sometimes the subjects are related, like my last column when I wrote about Chris Kyle Day. Other times, the oil and gas and religion pieces mix, like in a recent Houston Chronicle article by Michael Brick about a 70-year-old pastor who specifically ministers to oil field workers. It’s a great piece.

Veterans and religion have always been interests of mine, but oil and gas is a new topic for me to write about. However, I am extremely interested in how recent gas prices have affected the people of Wise County, and what that lifestyle is like, since I know nothing about it.

It goes without saying that the gas industry is the livelihood for a lot of people in this area, and we want to accurately reflect that part of our audience in the stories we tell.

An area I know an awful lot about is the veteran community, and it’s a community that is growing daily as soldiers return home from recent conflicts. Oftentimes, navigating the obstacles of home life after a deployment is harder than navigating the obstacles of a war zone.

Those stories deserve to be told, too.

I believe everything is related in some way – at least, that’s what my high school honors teacher told me. That’s part of why writing about religion and faith interests me so much. What we believe (or choose not to believe) informs how we interact with our family, our friends and our co-workers. Our belief system gives us our ethics and our way of seeing the world. For most people, it is a deeply personal thing, and rightly so.

What I want to do is engage in a conversation with our readers about their faith communities and what that space means to them, and get their input on religious events that might affect them. If you’re a Southern Baptist, what the Southern Baptist Convention decides could affect you here in Wise County. The same goes for Catholics and the Vatican or Mormons and Utah.

There are several churches in this county, and I intend to talk to all of them. Whatever your denomination (or lack thereof), we want to make sure we cover this beat honestly and fairly.

So if you have a story about how your church helped you in a time of need, or you have an opinion on a recent comment from your religion’s governing body, or you want to talk about what it’s like to be a veteran or an oil field worker in 2015, send me an email or give me a call.

I’d love to talk with you.

Jake Harris is a reporter for the Messenger. He can be reached at 940-627-5987.

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Express your opinion, vote and live with the results http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/express-your-opinion-vote-and-live-with-the-results/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/columns/express-your-opinion-vote-and-live-with-the-results/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:37:35 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87953 I love this country.

Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

It’s a country in which dear friends can exchange ideas about the same controversial subject and still be friends.

  • Individuals on both sides of the issue can argue their point without fear of someone overhearing and reporting the conversation to a “big brother” in the government.
  • Individuals on both sides of the issue have the right – maybe even the obligation – to “talk up” their side of the issue. It’s the American way to promote an idea, see if it gains support from the masses and then live with the outcome.
  • Friends are able in this country to put their resources (time, money, talent, energy, etc.) into the exercise of promoting their side of the issue. Everyone has the same right to sell their idea to their friends. If the idea is well-received, it might become the law of the land.

Some of my friends are already asking, “What’s he writing about?” or “Why is he writing about this?”

Here are a few of the reasons for my thoughts:

  • I’ve been in a few meetings recently during which matters of great concern regarding the Decatur ISD community were discussed.
  • These preliminary meetings were refreshing to me. They were meetings in which facts were presented without trying to “muscle” anyone into a particular way of thinking. The presenters were sharing facts.
  • In these meetings, information regarding resources (including financial) was shared. Several of us were surprised at some of the previously-unknown (to us) common sense ideas that were presented.

Purpose of this column? Vote.

It’s that simple. It’s your right. It’s your privilege. It’s an obligation. It’s an honor to vote for an idea or a plan that, in your mind, has merit.

It’s an honor to vote for a friend who desires to serve his/her community in some small way.

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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Young referee set the tone for Little Dribblers http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/letters/young-referee-set-the-tone-for-little-dribblers/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/letters/young-referee-set-the-tone-for-little-dribblers/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:36:54 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87951 My daughter was a Little Dribbler this year – pre-k to kindergarten age range – in a display I like to call “gaggle ball.” She had a great time, and I had fun watching her play, not just because she is my kid and I think she is awesome, but because of the great team and we had incredible referee.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I was trying to cheer for one of the kids on her team when I realized I didn’t know what his name was. It wasn’t until the ref said his name and applauded his efforts did I commit it to memory.

I started watching the young officiant and realized he knew all the kids. He called them by name, laughed at their silliness, coached them when they were confused and didn’t break at their subversiveness.

As the “season” went on, I would talk to him to learn a little more. He is a senior at Decatur High, plays basketball, gets good grades and wants to be a doctor. He also showed a genuine concern for how much fun the kids were having that were playing.

He said the little kids get to just have a good time and learn, but as they age, it gets very competitive and serious. He said he felt compelled to ensure a love of game for the incoming goobers (my term, not his).

I don’t know if my daughter and the other players will remember him. I don’t know if they even realize that he set the tone and ensured that the game was full of learning, laughter and opportunities to screw up a little – but I know I will.

In a world full of careless morons, I was lucky enough to witness selflessness, caring and infectious fun in the form of a young man named Holt Garner. I am ever grateful for the unconscious influence he had on my daughter and all of those young kids. I wish there were more people like him.

Rachael Vance
Decatur

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Bond proposal a ‘win’ for kids, community http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/letters/bond-proposal-a-win-for-kids-community/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/opinion/letters/bond-proposal-a-win-for-kids-community/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 17:36:20 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=87949 Let’s talk about the Decatur ISD bond for just a moment. In May, citizens living in the Decatur school district will be asked to vote for or against a bond package to improve the district’s infrastructure (buses, buildings, security, technology, athletic facilities).

It’s presented to us in two packages. The first should be a no-brainer. It makes DISD a better place for literally every student in the district. Its price tag is approximately $9.9 million.

The second package will raise money for an indoor multipurpose (sports) center at the cost of about $3.5 million. This one has some people grumbling, and I’d like to address that proposal. Let’s explore this and take the grumbling crowd’s arguments one-by-one.

Argument No. 1: Why should we spend a bucket-load of money on a facility that just benefits the football team?

Answer: It’s not just for the football team. Talk to your friends as close as Springtown or as far away as Brownfield. Their indoor facilities are used by almost everybody in the district and community – soccer, track and field, cross country, golf, tennis, marching band, cheerleading, drill/dance team, kids’ pee-wee sports and local citizens who want to walk/run on lousy weather days.

The only people who won’t be able to use this facility will be our swim and rodeo teams (although electric bucking stock might be approved). You’d be really hard-pressed to rationally blame this facility on our football program.

Argument No. 2: These sports play outdoors in the elements. They should practice in the elements as well.

Answer: Practice bleeding is all well and good, but working on fundamentals in driving rain or snow seems a bit impractical for any of the myriad of sports named above. Plus, repetitive drills on soggy, wet fields are apt to destroy the natural grass, costing us a lot more money in labor and materials in the long run.

Argument No. 3: Have you been to the public library after school? Dozens of kids in there need legitimate after-school programs. Why should Decatur’s citizens vote money out of their pockets for this facility when we could spend money for all our kids?

Answer: Yes, our community may need to offer more after-school programs, but that’s a Decatur City Council thing. Bonds bring money in for infrastructure – buildings, wires, fiber-optic cable, buses, plumbing, roofs, etc. More after-school programs require personnel. That is a recurring cost bonds don’t (and shouldn’t) address.

If our trustees were foolish enough to attempt to raise money for such programs and infrastructure outside of a bond, they would have to do it by raising the tax rate. If they did that, of the extra revenue we received, almost half (44 percent) would go back to the great state of Texas, and we’d see none of it.

With a bond, we keep all of the money – 100 percent of it benefits our district. (On a side note, in 20 years I can’t remember an instance where our board of trustees has raised our tax rate. I really don’t want them to begin now.)

Argument Four: An indoor facility with artificial turf is a luxury we just don’t need here in Decatur.

Answer: If we want to keep Decatur financially secure and thereby attractive to families looking to move to a nice, wholesome, rural community, it’s a “luxury” we’d be hard pressed to do without. There are two reasons for this.

First, a substantial part of our maintenance budget goes to taking care of our grounds. That includes maintaining the grass on all of our practice and competition fields. When the weather is wet and/or we have overlapping sports (soccer/football) we abuse our fields, and it takes more of our maintenance personnel and their time to keep it functional.

Lately, wet is not the problem – drought is. The amount of water the district uses (and pays for) is phenomenal. An indoor practice facility with artificial turf saves money (our money) in labor and resources.

Secondly, keeping our grounds attractive and having first-rate facilities (that ALL of us can take advantage of) show that we take pride in our community and school district. Ask any Realtor what prospective homebuyers new to our area look at and ask questions about first. The answer is the school system.

If our facilities, grounds and infrastructure look inviting, you can bet the families will want to take a second look at our community. And if they do that, they’ll move here.

There are the answers to four of the “against” arguments I’ve heard. I feel the entire bond package – both propositions – is a win for our kids and our community.

Rex Keese
Decatur

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