WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Sat, 23 May 2015 02:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 2 killed in Friday collision http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/2-killed-in-friday-collision/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/2-killed-in-friday-collision/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 02:00:03 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91272 Two people were killed Friday afternoon in a car wreck on Farm Road 199, one mile west of Farm Road 920. Department of Public Safety Trooper Fred Thornton Jr. said a passenger car traveling east crossed the center line and hit a westbound white, Ford Escape driven by Pamela Hudson, 55, of Bowie.

Thornton said wet roads were a factor.

“He hydroplaned and went over the center stripe, and she plowed into him,” Thornton said.

Both drivers were killed. The name of the second driver has not yet been released, pending notification of the family.

Both were pronounced dead on the scene by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Craig Johnson.

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Murder investigation includes search for missing person http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/murder-investigation-includes-search-for-missing-person/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/murder-investigation-includes-search-for-missing-person/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 19:22:08 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91262  

Teresa Rose

Teresa Rose

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

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Friday, May 22, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/friday-may-22-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/friday-may-22-2015/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:34:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91256

MURDER INVESTIGATION – The body of a man was found inside a burned out travel trailer late Thursday, and Sheriff David Walker said it appears to be a murder. “We think the man was killed and the fire set to cover it up” Walker said early Friday. The man has not been identified, and Peace Justice Craig Johnson ordered his body sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiners office for an autopsy. The murder set off a massive search for a suspect in the Chico area. Shortly after midnight the sheriff’s office notified people in Chico to lock their doors and vehicles and not answer the door unless it was police. A DPS helicopter was called in to help with the search. A suspect in the case was arrested several hours later by sheriff’s deputies and DPS troopers and early Friday was being interrogated by officers. The case is being investigated by the Wise County Fire Marshal’s office, sheriff’s investigator Josh Reynolds and the Texas Rangers, Walker said. The incident began when Chico, Crafton and Bridgeport firefighters were dispatched to a fire call on CR 2952 off FM 1810 west of Chico around 8 p.m. At the time several fires were reported in the area and neighbors told firefighters that the fires had been intentionally set. The two buildings seemed uninhabited and were at least 40 feet apart from each other with no fire in between, leading officials on the scene to believe that the two structures were intentionally set ablaze. The suspect, who was initially arrested on drug charges, was considered armed and dangerous, Walker said.

FIRE DESTROYS HOME – A family was displaced when fire destroyed their home north of Chico Thursday morning. Chico and Bridgeport fire departments along with Wise County EMS responded to the call in the 1700 block of Texas 101 around 8 a.m. The first units on the scene reported the single story, wood-frame home totally engulfed in flames. Wise County Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said a woman, her daughter and a small child were able to escape without injury. He said the fire apparently started from a space heater in a bedroom. A dog is thought to have died in the fire. The home was a total loss. The Chico Church of Christ is collecting clothes and household items for the fire victims. For information, call 940-577-0762. The family needs all household items. Clothing sizes include: young female adult size 3 pants and shirts size small to medium; small girls’ size 3T through 6T clothing; adult women’s pants sizes 12-14 and large shirts; and adult men’s size 32 to 34 pants and large shirts. Donations can be dropped off at 203 S. McCracken. People are available to receive donation from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and donations can be left on the fellowship hall’s porch 24 hours a day.

WATER RESCUE – Around 6:30 Thursday night, Paradise firefighters and Wise County EMS rescued two kids trapped in flood waters on “screaming bridge” on CR 3250 southwest of Decatur. They were checked at the scene by medics and released to their parents. The bridge is in the area of the Indian Trails subdivision and has been closed by high water for several days.

EDWARDS NAMED SUPERINTENDENT – Paradise school superintendent lone finalist Mac Edwards was named superintendent at last night’s meeting. His contract will begin July 1. Interim superintendent Robert Criswell’s contract will end in June.

ALVORD BASEBALL PLAYOFFS - The Alvord Bulldogs start their Class 2A Region II quarterfinal series at 4:30 today in Ponder against Lindsay. Games 2 is set for 2 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, game 3 will follow.

NORTHWEST SPRING GAME – The Northwest Texans will hold their spring football scrimmage at 6 p.m. today at Northwest ISD Stadium.

FRIDAY FUN AT THE LIBRARY – Everyday Heroes is the theme of today’s Friday Fun Preschool Special at 10:30 a.m. at Decatur Public Library. Preschoolers and their caregivers are invited to learn about fire safety with Decatur Fire Department firefighters. Call 940-393-0290 or visit the library’s website, www.decaturpubliclibrary.com.

BIKE BLESSING – Following the 10:50 worship service Sunday at the First United Methodist Church in Decatur, Pastor Brian Bosworth will lead a “Blessing of the Bikes” for anyone who rides their motorcycle to church that day. A lunch ride, including a time of cruising local highways, will follow. Bikers are invited to wear their biker gear to worship.

BYA SIGN-UPS – Bridgeport Youth Association will hold sign-ups for Peewee Football and Cheer for 2015-16 3rd-6th graders 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Bridgeport Public Library.

BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT – Back to Summer Bash 3 on 3 tournament is May 29 at Decatur High School. Games start at 5 p.m. Divisions include men’s, women’s and coed; boys and girls 5th-6th, 7th-8th and 9th-12th. Proceeds benefit the Decatur Basketball Program. Contact 214-354-2556 or dhseaglesbasketball@gmail.com.

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

HOLIDAY CLOSING – Wise County Development Services and the Decatur dumpsite will close Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day. Dumpsites in Boyd, Chico and Cottondale will close on the following business day, Wednesday, May 27.

UPDATE RETURNS TUESDAY – No Update will be published Monday due to the Memorial Day holiday. As always, breaking news will be posted throughout the weekend at WCMessenger.com.

FUNERALS – Graveside service for Kathy Butler, 58, of Bridgeport will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at West Bridgeport Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6 – 8 p.m. Friday at Jones Family Funeral Home.

GRAVESIDE service for Wesley Carl Warren, 54, of Alvord is 1:30 p.m. today at Blue Bonnet Hills Cemetery in Keller. Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur is handling arrangements.

SERVICE for Luther Stallings of Azle is pending at Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

GRAVESIDE service for Vicki Shepherd, 68, of Decatur is noon Saturday at Roselawn Memorial Park in Denton. Family visitation is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Mulkey Mason Funeral Home in Denton.

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Chico fire leads to murder investigation http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/chico-fires-suggest-illegal-activity/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/chico-fires-suggest-illegal-activity/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 05:03:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91249 A structure fire destroyed a vehicle and a mobile homes off of FM 2952 in Chico Thursday night.

Human remains were found once the fires were extinguished and a murder investigation is underway.

Witnesses said three cars left the property before the fires began.

An explosion releasing a strong ammonia smell filled the air during the fire’s peak, but Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said that they found no evidence of a drug manufacturing lab.

“We didn’t have any evidence of a meth lab or anything like that,” Washburn said.

The vehicle and house were about 40 feet apart, suggesting that the fires were set intentionally.

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



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Fire destroys Chico home http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/fire-destroys-chico-home/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/fire-destroys-chico-home/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 20:34:27 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91247 A family was displaced when fire destroyed their home north of Chico Thursday morning. Chico and Bridgeport fire departments along with Wise County EMS responded to the call in the 1700 block of Texas 101 around 8 a.m. The first units on the scene reported the single story, wood-frame home totally engulfed in flames. Wise County Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Washburn said a woman, her daughter and a small child were able to escape without injury. He said the fire apparently started from a space heater in a bedroom. A dog is thought to have died in the fire. The home was a total loss. The Chico Church of Christ is collecting clothes and household items for the fire victims. For information, call 940-577-0762. The family needs all household items. Clothing sizes include: young female adult size 3 pants and shirts size small to medium; small girls’ size 3T through 6T clothing; adult women’s pants sizes 12-14 and large shirts; and adult men’s size 32 to 34 pants and large shirts. Donations can be dropped off at 203 S. McCracken. People are available to receive donation from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and donations can be left on the fellowship hall’s porch 24 hours a day.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/thursday-may-21-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/thursday-may-21-2015/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 13:32:13 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91236 4 TORNADOES CONFIRMED - The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has confirmed at least four tornadoes touched down in Wise County Tuesday night. Two of those tornadoes, categorized as EF0, were located in Runaway Bay. The tornado that destroyed or severely damaged several homes in the Balsora area was classified as an EF1 tornado. A fourth tornado, another EF1, was confirmed in an area a few miles east of Decatur. Crews are also expected to visit damage to homes further east near the Paradise and Cottondale areas to determine if those areas, too, were hit by a tornado or straight line winds. Full coverage of Tuesday's storms, including stories, photos and videos, can be found at WCMess.com/tornado2015.]]>

4 TORNADOES CONFIRMED – The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has confirmed at least four tornadoes touched down in Wise County Tuesday night. Two of those tornadoes, categorized as EF0, were located in Runaway Bay. The tornado that destroyed or severely damaged several homes in the Balsora area was classified as an EF1 tornado. A fourth tornado, another EF1, was confirmed in an area a few miles east of Decatur. Crews are also expected to visit damage to homes further east near the Paradise and Cottondale areas to determine if those areas, too, were hit by a tornado or straight line winds. Full coverage of Tuesday’s storms, including stories, photos and videos, can be found at WCMess.com/tornado2015.

MAN THROWN FROM HOME – The storm that spawned a confirmed tornado near Balsora also destroyed a home and sent a man flying outside Tuesday night. Family members say John C. Revell was at home on County Road 3451 in his recliner when a possible tornado suddenly caused his home to begin to roll off its foundation, sending him and his chair outside. Revell was found in a neighbor’s yard and taken to John Peter Smith Hospital where he was listed in serious but stable condition Wednesday. His home was totally destroyed. Read more at WCMess.com/tornado2015.

LOCAL ROADS FLOODED – As of Wednesday afternoon, two bridges were out and numerous county roads were underwater due to flooding. Bridges on County Roads 2535 and 3433 are partially washed out, and the bridge near Indian Trails, known as Screaming Bridge, is covered in 1 foot of water. Flooded roads include County Roads 1744, 3526, 3225, 3381, 3386 and 1308. Farm Road 1655 is flooded between Alvord and Chico. Additional roadways could be covered in water after last night’s rainfall. Drivers are urged to use caution.

RED CROSS SHELTER OPEN – The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Crossway Church, 513 Port-o-Call Drive, in Runaway Bay for those displaced by the storm Tuesday night. Red Cross spokesperson Anita Foster said the agency is still completing its disaster assessment, but it appears there were 50 families displaced by the storm. “We’ll begin the Red Cross case work to meet each family to understand them and what their needs are to see how the Red Cross or our partner agencies can help them,” she said. “Ultimately, we want to make sure we’re finding everyone.” If you need Red Cross assistance and have not been contacted, call their hotline, 877-500-8645.

POWER RESTORATION CONTINUES – Nearly all Oncor customers who lost power during Tuesday night’s storms had their power restored by last night, according to Area Manager Sabrina Easley. More storms overnight led to more outages. As of 7:30 a.m., Oncor had 134 customers without power in the Alvord/Chico area and in Decatur, according to Easley. Tree trimmers are working to clear limbs from the line that is causing the outages. The Alvord/Chico outage is being complicated by high water levels, but crews are making repairs at this time. Both outage areas are expected to be restored by 10 a.m.

MORE RAIN – Overnight storms brought more rain to an already-soggy Wise County. Rainfall totals included 1.47 in Rhome, 1 in Bridgeport, 0.8 in Greenwood and Cottondale, 0.78 in Decatur, 0.45 in Alvord and 0.4 in Paradise. Tonight’s forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of more storms.

CHICO FIRE - As Update was going to press, Chico and Bridgeport fire departments and Wise County EMS were responding to what was being called a fully involved fire at a frame house in the 1700 block of Texas 101. More information will be posted at WCMessenger.com as it is available.

GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY – The Wise County Genealogical Society will hold its last meeting for the spring at 7 tonight at the Decatur Church of Christ on Farm Road 51 South. The group will have the election results for the new board of officers and celebrate the birthday of the organization with a birthday cake. Meeting time will include a question and answer panel. Visitors may attend at no charge.

PLANNING MEETING – Dr. Bruce Amason of Denton will talk about the planning and organization of a Wise County Trail Life Troop at 8 tonight at the Fellowship Bible Church on U.S. 380 west of Decatur. Visit www.traillifeusa.com for more information about the group.

SIDEWALK PROJECT GROUNDBREAKING – The City of Bridgeport, Bridgeport Main Street and Bridgeport EDC will hold a ground breaking ceremony for the Halsell Street Sidewalk Project at 10 a.m. today at 9th and Halsell Street in Bridgeport. Call 940-683-3404.

FUNERALS – Graveside service for Kathy Butler, 58, of Bridgeport is 11 a.m. Saturday at West Bridgeport Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Friday at Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

SERVICE for Wesley Warren, 54, of Decatur is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

SERVICE for Nicholas Gladkoff, 73, of Rhome will be held at a later date. Coker-Hawkins is handling arrangements.

FUNERAL for Thomas C. Myers, former Bridgeport school superintendent, is 10 a.m. Friday at The Hills Church in Southlake with burial in Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville. Myers served as Bridgeport superintendent from 1980-1986.

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Tornadic storms rip through Wise County http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tornadic-storms-rip-through-wise-county/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/tornadic-storms-rip-through-wise-county/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 00:23:18 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91227

One confirmed tornado, high winds and torrential rain pounded Wise County Tuesday night. The American Red Cross estimates 50 families were displaced due to the storms, but as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, its disaster assessment was not yet complete. Residents continue to wade through the ugly aftermath, picking up the pieces and contemplating how to move forward.

Tornado tosses man from home; Family rides out storm in closet

Paula Revell Roberts stood close to piles of items normally found inside a home, not outside. A pillow. A kitchen table chair. A plaque that holds a toy fish that sings when you push a button.

Neighbors survive tornado in shack

In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s tornado, several trailer homes on Farm Road 920 lay on their sides with debris scattered across nearby fields. Trees were broken in half like twigs.

Tornadic storm strikes lake community

As a storm raged overhead Tuesday night, Brittiany Spain and her 3-year-old son crouched in a closet in their Runaway Bay home.

Meteorologists confirm tornado near Balsora

An EF1 tornado tore through an area off Farm Road 920 near Balsora Tuesday night, packing winds between 90 and 110 mph, according to National Weather Service crews that visited the area Wednesday.

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Tornado tosses man from home; Family rides out storm in closet http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornado-tosses-man-from-home-family-rides-out-storm-in-closet/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornado-tosses-man-from-home-family-rides-out-storm-in-closet/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 23:56:22 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91214

Paula Revell Roberts stood close to piles of items normally found inside a home, not outside.

A pillow.

A kitchen table chair.

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

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

She pushed the red button. Nothing happened.

Major Destruction

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

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

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

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

Her son, John C. Revell, is in a room at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He had been sitting in a recliner inside the home when the possible tornado struck Tuesday night.

Skiles Map

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

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

Clayton said Revell is in serious but stable condition after injuring his head.

Roberts said she had talked to her son earlier that morning, and he said after being thrown from the home, he was able to pull himself out of the rubble. He was found by rescuers in a neighbor’s yard.

Just a couple of houses to the west, Chelsea Skiles and her family took shelter in a closet in her mother’s home. Skiles estimates the family sat in the closet for less than a minute before the tornado hit. They weren’t even able to shut the door all the way.

Broken Home

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

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

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

The house did not fare as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racey Burden contributed to this report.

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Neighbors survive tornado in shack http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/neighbors-survive-tornado-in-shack/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/neighbors-survive-tornado-in-shack/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 23:55:07 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91210

In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s tornado, several trailer homes on Farm Road 920 lay on their sides with debris scattered across nearby fields. Trees were broken in half like twigs.

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

Overturned Lives

OVERTURNED LIVES – Scott Brandon (left) stands in front of an overturned RV home in his neighborhood. Brandon was trapped in his RV (not pictured) and had to kick the window out to escape. “We don’t know what we’re going to do, you know?” Brandon said, surveying the damage. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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

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

Dog Daze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tattered Remains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

920 map

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Knox contributed to this story.

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Tornadic storm strikes lake community http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadic-storm-strikes-lake-community/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/tornadic-storm-strikes-lake-community/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 23:53:05 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91204

As a storm raged overhead Tuesday night, Brittiany Spain and her 3-year-old son crouched in a closet in their Runaway Bay home.

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

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

A Fathers Care

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

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

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

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

Ripped from the Roots

RIPPED FROM THE ROOTS – An upended tree sits on a car in Runaway Bay Wednesday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apartments Unsafe

APARTMENTS UNSAFE – David Shawn surveys the storm’s aftermath at the Harbor Shores condominiums in Runaway Bay. Shawn estimated that 16 units were damaged during a storm that produced winds stronger than 110 mph. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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

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

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

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

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

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Meteorologists confirm tornado near Balsora http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/meteorologists-confirm-tornado-near-balsora/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/meteorologists-confirm-tornado-near-balsora/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 23:49:53 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91199

An EF1 tornado tore through an area off Farm Road 920 near Balsora Tuesday night, packing winds between 90 and 110 mph, according to National Weather Service crews that visited the area Wednesday.

Broken Homes

BROKEN HOMES – The Harbor Shores apartment complex in Runaway Bay took a hard hit in Tuesday’s severe storm. National Weather Service meteorologists are trying to determine if the damage is the result of a tornado, straight-line winds or both. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The same survey crews are working to complete a report on the extensive damage from Runaway Bay and trying to determine if it was also hit by a tornado, along with straight-line winds.

“The survey team saw damage consistent with an EF1 but haven’t rated it as an EF1. We have seen damage consistent with winds of 110 mph,” said Tom Bradshaw, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth. “It’s possible some of that damage was due to a tornado and some from straight-line winds. Teams will have to come back and look at radar to help determine what may have been a tornado or straight-line winds.

“There’s a chance we saw a mixture of both in the Runaway Bay area. But the damage indicates winds of 110 mph. The jury is still out on whether we had a tornado in the Runaway Bay area.”

Bradshaw said teams from his office would return Thursday to survey damage in the Paradise area. There were also still questions about possible tornadoes in Boyd and New Fairview.

The meteorologist added that the storm’s large rotational field made it difficult to say with certainty what damage was caused by tornadoes.

“We had a large, high precipitation supercell,” Bradshaw said.

Along with the high winds and at least one tornado, the storm dumped more than 5 inches of rain in parts of the county. Decatur Municipal Airport received 3.13 inches of rain between 9:55 p.m. Tuesday and 12:55 a.m. Wednesday.

Bridgeport received 4.15 inches.

The rain and runoff brought Lake Bridgeport up more than 4 feet overnight. The lake is currently less than 9 feet below normal.

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More than 300 remain without power in Wise http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/more-than-300-remain-without-power-in-wise/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/update/more-than-300-remain-without-power-in-wise/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 21:23:22 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91190 rbtornado15More than 300 Oncor customers in Wise County were still without power as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Tree trimmers and electric crews from around the state have converged in the county to repair lines and restore power to residents affected by Tuesday’s tornadic storms.
“Right now, we have 50 tree-trimming crews out and about 25 electric crews out and they will be continuing to work around the clock,” said Oncor spokesperson Sabrina Easley. “The tree-trimming guys are doing a good job getting out ahead to clear limbs.”
At the height of the storm Tuesday, 3,568 Oncor customers were without power. By Wednesday afternoon, Easley said they had 30 customers without electricity in Runaway Bay and 300 along Farm Road 920.
She explained that the numbers for the apartments in Runaway Bay represented the individual meters and up to six apartment units may be on one meter.
The utility is hoping to have all the power restored to customers by early Thursday morning.
“We’re shooting for midnight but it may be closer to 4-5 a.m. to get everyone taken care of,” Easley said.
Wise Electric Cooperative reported just one outage Wednesday afternoon.
Check back to www.wcmessenger.com for more storm coverage.

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Indigent burials lack county oversight http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/indigent-burials-lack-county-oversight/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/indigent-burials-lack-county-oversight/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:05:24 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91184 Indigent burials in Wise County are under closer scrutiny after it was discovered there is no county oversight of the process.

County Judge J.D. Clark told county commissioners last week more than $30,000 was spent on indigent burials in fiscal year 2014, and he’s convinced that can be reduced. “Indigent” refers to people whose estates lack resources to pay for final arrangements, and according to the Texas Health and Safety Code, the commissioners court in each county is responsible for providing final arrangements to those categorized as indigents.

“It just doesn’t make much sense to me that the county doesn’t have involvement in this application process,” he said. “If someone is wanting to apply, it’s just part of the funeral home process.”

Clark said applications are filled out at the funeral homes, and although asked about income and available cash, no one at the commissioners’ meeting seemed to know exactly how a person qualifies for indigent burial or what factors might disqualify a person.

“There’s an application that folks fill out, but the county doesn’t currently have any role in whether those applications are approved or denied,” Clark said. “There’s not a lot of oversight there. It’s as simple as answering all the questions and … you’re approved.”

For comparison, Clark said Denton County, with a population of more than 700,000 compared to Wise County’s 60,900, spends $40,000 annually for indigent burials.

“We want to get ideas on how we can do it better,” Clark said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns asked if the county could utilize the same procedure that is used for indigent health care and modify it for the burial process.

Beverly Kalisek, who oversees the county’s indigent health care office, said to qualify for assistance, applicants are approved based on income, household resources and proof of residence.

Kalisek said her office could oversee a similar process for burials if needed.

Burns noted that some counties offer only cremation for indigent burials.

“A judge west of here suggested that the county pay for cremation only, and if you want to bury your loved one, you pay for it,” he said. “It significantly reduces the number of indigents.”

Wise County pays $1,200 per burial, which includes a graveside service and a casket. The county also pays for burial plots when needed. They cost $400 and most are at Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur or East Bridgeport Cemetery, although indigent burials have been elsewhere in the county, too.

There was discussion at the meeting that the county owned burial plots at some cemeteries, but Chet Niblett, with Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur, said that is not the case.

“There is a county section [at Oaklawn], but it’s full,” he said. “What they do at Oaklawn is buy single spaces.”

County Auditor Ann McCuiston told the Messenger the county spent $37,197 on 30 indigent burials in fiscal year 2014, and $19,400 has been spent so far in fiscal year 2015.

McCuiston said the total hasn’t fluctuated much in recent years with $31,535 spent in FY 2013 and $36,220 in FY 2012.

“The forms and invoices come to the county auditor’s office, and they’re given to the county judge,” she said. “He authorizes payment on it.”

The county form asks applicants why they’re asking for help, how much cash is in their pockets and bank account, what property they own, are there life insurance policies on the deceased, what is the applicant’s income and how they meet their other expenses.

Applicants must also list family members’ names and contact information, employment history, real estate assets and military service.

Although Clark said the burden of approval or rejection is currently on the funeral home, Brant Hawkins, owner of Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport, as well as Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd and Coker-Hawkins, said that is not the case. He said they send the forms to the county with the understanding that it will either approve or deny the application.

“I pitch it to (applicants) that (the county) is going to check it,” Hawkins said.

Niblett said the same thing.

“It’s hard to distinguish who does or doesn’t have money,” he explained. “But I tell them, ‘now if you lie about this, you’ve just falsified a document so you better tell us the truth.

“We really discourage them from doing that because it will come back on them,” he said. “But as far as who approves it or disapproves it, I don’t know.”

Hawkins said his brother, Rob, came up with the indigent burial application 10 years ago and sent it to the county. He agreed that the rules need to be updated.

“I’m all for the courts taking over the indigent burials,” he said.

Hawkins said he was not aware commissioners planned to discuss the subject until after the fact, but he has since talked to Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy, expressing his desire for the county to play a more active role in the process.

Although a funeral home representative wasn’t at the meeting, Clark said he thought they “would be glad to see the procedures tightened up because they’re between a rock and a hard place.”

Commissioners took no action last week, but Clark said Monday it will be discussed at their next regular meeting Tuesday, May 26.

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Former coach dies after battling cancer http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/former-coach-dies-after-battling-cancer/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/former-coach-dies-after-battling-cancer/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:04:46 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91182 Former Boyd girls basketball coach Lynn Cranfill died Monday morning.

Cranfill was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring 2014. He tried to come back and coach Lady Yellowjackets last fall, but fell ill again during the season and retired in March.

Fondly Remembered

FONDLY REMEMBERED – Former Boyd girls basketball coach Lynn Cranfill hugs Chelsea Landes following a game. Cranfill died after a bout with cancer Monday morning. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Cranfill spent seven years at Boyd, taking over the girls basketball program in 2008. He led the Lady Yellowjackets to the playoffs four times.

“He was a great asset to the school and program,” said Boyd athletic director Brandon Hopkins. “He was a straight-shooter and wanted to be real serious. But he truly was kind-hearted behind the scenes. He wanted what was best for the kids.”

Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West echoed Hopkins.

“He asked a lot of his girls. He was an old-school coach and was pretty intense and demanding,” West said. “His players at the same time knew he loved them.

“He ran a successful program not only because of the wins but the type of students he turned out.”

A funeral service for Cranfill will be held at Mount Olivet Chapel in Fort Worth at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Nepal native raises money for family displaced by earthquake http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/nepal-native-raises-money-for-family-displaced-by-earthquake/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/nepal-native-raises-money-for-family-displaced-by-earthquake/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:03:53 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91179 Although more than 8,000 miles separates Narenda “Neilson” Shrestha from his family, he is thinking of them, and he calls them every day.

“Every day they say the same thing,” he said. “‘We’re staying in an open place. It’s scary.'”

Call to Action

CALL TO ACTION – Narendra “Neislon” Shrestha holds a jar of donations for his family in Kathmandu, Nepal. After April’s 7.8 earthquake, Shrestha said his family lives on the street in front of their home. The south Asian country of Nepal (illustrated below) is located between China and India and is home to 27 million people. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Shrestha, a Bridgeport resident since 2005 and native of Nepal, said his family, who live in the capital city of Kathmandu, have abandoned their home after the recent earthquake, which killed more than 8,000 people. An aftershock on May 12 resulted in another 213 deaths and countless injuries.

“They can’t live in their home,” he said, explaining how the quake has damaged many of the city’s buildings and residents fear another aftershock. “It has to be an open place, under the sky.”

Shrestha said his place of employment, Bridgeport Discount Liquor, is collecting donations to help his family rebuild their home and buy food. Kaushik “Kenny” Patel, the store’s owner, said their goal for Shrestha’s family is simple.

“We have a mission that we will collect the money and use our well-being, our strength, to support them while they need it,” Patel said.

Nepal map

A marked plastic jar, partially filled with loose change and dollar bills, sits on the counter by the cash register, and donations are coming in regularly.

Shrestha said he transfers money to his brother in Nepal as often as possible via Western Union money transfers.

“We’ve sent the aid from the jars and also what we can give from our own pockets,” he said.

Shrestha said his family’s home wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake, but it isn’t safe to occupy because of structural instability and the potential for another aftershock. The family has been helping their neighbors, who were displaced, as well.

“When the first quake happened they went out in the street but came back after five days,” he said. “The aftershock shook them again, so back outside they went.”

As of May 15, Patel said donations have exceeded $1,200. He said they hope to reach $5,000 by the end of the month.

“We appeal that more aid is welcome,” Patel said. “There is a lot more to do over there. So many schools and apartments need to be reconstructed. We need health care and bandages for the wounded and long-term help for the wounded. At this moment, the biggest need may just be water.”

Patel said donations can be made in Bridgeport at East Side Grocery, West Side Grocery and Bridgeport Discount Liquor.

In the meantime, Shrestha sits under the same sky, thinking of his family 8,000 miles away.

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Bond projects already on fast track q http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/bond-projects-already-on-fast-trackq/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/bond-projects-already-on-fast-trackq/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:02:37 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91175 It didn’t take long for a couple of projects listed in the recently-approved Decatur school bond election to become reality.

The Decatur School Board Monday awarded a bid to begin resurfacing both the high school and middle school tracks.

The track resurfacing projects were part of the $13.5 million bond package approved by voters on May 9.

By awarding the bid now, the district hopes to have the project complete by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

Austin-based Hellas Construction submitted the low bid which totaled $413,540 for both tracks.

Superintendent Rod Townsend also outlined a suggested timeline for the bond projects. Much of the discussion centered around the type of buses the district wanted to order.

Townsend said the buses would need to be ordered by July 1 in order to have the buses delivered by next January or February.

He recommended 17 regular route buses that seat 77, four 48-60 passenger buses with lifts and four 84-passenger buses to serve as activity buses.

The activity buses in particular could have several options.

“I guess what I need to know is do we want to have an activity bus that is not yellow and black?” Townsend asked. “A white bus that is wrapped in school colors and logo and that sort of thing? Do we want bench seating? One (of the four proposed activity buses) has coach seating right now. … Do you want conventional body style or a snub nose HDX that has the rear engine? Those are more expensive, but the majority of school districts that have activity buses, a lot of them have rear engine drive buses.”

The snub nose buses would be about $20,000 to $30,000 more than the traditional school bus, and the addition of the school logo would add another $6,000 to $7,000, Townsend estimated.

“I would like for us to look at some of those activity buses in the white wrap with the snub nose,” board president Kevin Haney said. “I think we’ll just have to look at where it fits within the estimates we were working on through the bond package.”

Townsend said he thought those type of buses would be within the amount budgeted in the bond package.

The board will have a chance to approve the bus purchase at next month’s meeting.

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Decatur city council makes board appointments http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-city-council-makes-board-appointments-2/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/decatur-city-council-makes-board-appointments-2/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:01:55 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91173 It was a night of appointments at Decatur City Hall Monday.

Eleven of the 16 items on the city council’s agenda dealt with appointments to various boards or positions on the council.

The appointments came after Susan Cocanougher, Margaret Doubrava and Randy Bowker were sworn in to council places 2, 4 and 6, respectively.

Based on seniority of those serving on the council, Jay Davidson was appointed mayor pro tem, and Bowker was appointed deputy mayor pro tem. Mayor Martin Woodruff and Bowker were also reappointed as the Council of Government representative and airport liason, respectively.

Woodruff and Bowker were also appointed to serve as city council representatives to the Economic Development Corporation for a term ending May 31, 2017. Davidson is the other council representative to the EDC.

The council appointed a budget committee consisting of Davidson, Cocanougher and Carmelina Holloway.

Citizens J.E. Carson and Jerry Watson were appointed as directors to the Decatur Housing Authority Board, with Watson appointed as chairman.

In the consent agenda, the council appointed the following citizens to various boards:

Economic Development Board – Jason Wren

Library Board – Troy Bagwell, Joe Neil Henderson and Betty Carson

Parks Board – Robin Lewis, Thomas Lambert and Ashlee Bohn

Civic Center Advisory Board – Roy Eaton, Joe Lambert, Jeannine Eaton, Loraine Burton and Jay Davidson

Main Street Advisory Board – Chris Forbis, Steve Simms, Julie Perkins, Kerry Clower and Christie Rhine

Cemetery Board – Cynthia DesRoches, Billy Wiley and Ann Williams

Cemetery Board officers – Ann Logue, president; Wayne Stone, vice president; Joyce Horton, secretary

In other business, the council granted Victory Family Church’s request for a sign ordinance variance for an electronic message board that did not fit the city’s size and location requirements.

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Meeting Preview for Wednesday, May 20, 2015 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/meeting-preview-for-wednesday-may-20-2015/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/meeting-preview-for-wednesday-may-20-2015/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:58 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91170 SCHOOL BOARD – The Paradise School Board meets 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the board room, 338 School House Rd. One of the major points the board will discuss is the superintendent contract. PISD’s Mac Edwards was named the lone finalist for the position and is set to take over this summer after interim-superintendent Robert Criswell’s contract is up. They will also have a budget workshop where the members will review preliminary appraisal district values, review preliminary revenue and discuss budgeting, priorities.

Also on the agenda is possible approval of notification letters to parents regarding courses and assemblies on sex education, the annual SHAC report, reviewing the policy for T-TESS and T-PESS, and discussing the 2015 class graduation ceremony.

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Chico ISD hires two principals http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-isd-hires-two-principals/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/news/chico-isd-hires-two-principals/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91168 Chico ISD hired a high school and middle school principal Monday night.

Randy Cobb was hired to take the helm at the high school, while Randy Brawner will take on the middle school position.

Cobb is the former principal at Nimitz High School in Irving, and Brawner was the athletic director at Godley and a football assistant at Boyd before being hired at Chico.

The board hired elementary teacher Heather South to create a third kindergarten class at the request of Chico Elementary Principal Karen Decker.

Several Chico students were recognized during the meeting for participation in athletics, UIL academic events, band and agriculture.

With the two principal positions filled, Superintendent Mike Jones will now focus on replacing two members of the coaching staff.

Athletic director Stephen Carter and softball coach Heath Tullous both turned in letters of resignation, which were accepted by the school board Monday night.

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Sculpting skills lead student to second state award http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/education/education-headlines/sculpting-skills-lead-student-to-second-state-award/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2015/education/education-headlines/sculpting-skills-lead-student-to-second-state-award/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 16:58:49 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=91166 Walking away from a state art competition with top honors and a $400 scholarship, Bridgeport senior Remi Lane was happy, but not entirely surprised. After all, he’d won this competition before.

TWO-TIME CHAMPION – Bridgeport senior Remi Lane holds his scholarship certificate from the State Visual Arts Scholastic Event. Lane’s sculpture of a snake oil salesman won him the Gold Seal at the state art competition. Lane previously won another Gold Seal for his sculpture of a pig. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Lane participated three times in the State Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE), a contest showcasing student artists, advancing to the state level and winning the Gold Seal, the highest award, twice. Lane won both times with his papier-mache sculptures.

This April, at the state event in Dallas, Lane won with a sculpture of a mustached snake oil salesman, complete with various remedies and potions.

“The way to win this is you have to come up with something that people have never seen before,” Lane said.

Lane practiced sculpting human figures before the competition in order to have an edge on the other students. He worked on his snake oil salesman for a month, sculpting for several hours after school each day. He purposefully made his sculpture as big and as colorful as allowed within the rules so that it would stand out to the judges.

The idea for his winning sculpture came from Lane’s love of papier-mache artist Dan Reeder, whose YouTube videos inspired Lane to work with the medium starting in middle school. He bought two of Reeder’s how-to books to learn his techniques, like using fabric to create texture or putting taxidermy eyes on sculptures. Lane said he also felt inspired by the artwork of Norman Rockwell.

“I love the way he creates people. He just adds personality,” Lane said. “That’s what I love. That’s what separates a normal piece from another piece, is personality.”

In addition to winning the Gold Seal, Lane won a $400 scholarship for placing second in a timed sculpting contest at VASE. In the competition, students are given a theme, an assortment of random tools and a chunk of clay and told to get to work. Although Lane practiced sculpting humans leading up to VASE, the judges of the timed contest asked the students to create an animal as a metaphor of their personalities.

“I did the same person I was practicing except I added a chicken beak, chicken comb and chicken feet,” Lane said, “and I said, ‘me when I try to ask a hot girl out.’ And they loved that, so I won second place.”

Lane plans to keep sculpting in college at the University of North Texas. He wants to major in sculpting and communication design, in hopes of becoming an art director in the future. His dream is to one day design the cartoons he loved as a kid.

“I started to learn animation. The problem is it’s all computers,” Lane said. “Those animators don’t really create anything; someone else creates everything. That’s what art directors do. I want to be the guy who creates the characters that the animators animate.”

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