Alvord School Board to get open meetings training

The Alvord ISD school board will hold training sessions on the Public Information Act and the Public Meetings Act when they meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Administration Building, 100 Mosley Lane.

The training is in settlement of an apparent violation of an Open Records Request by board President Vic Czerniak.

Former board member Jeannette Ward, who was voted off the board last May, had requested emails and text messages from Czerniak’s home computer and phone which were not provided in a timely manner, in accordance with the law.

School district attorney Lynn Rossi Scott, in corresponding with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and Ward, said the board had agreed to undergo the training at a public meeting.

Scott is also working to redact non-public information from Czerniak’s emails to provide for Ward, and told the AG’s office Czerniak’s cell phone had been replaced last Sept. 21 and his text messages did not transfer.

Thursday’s meeting will also include consideration of a Legislative Advocacy Resolution, a Texas Academic Performance Report, and any personnel recommendations that may come up.


In a Messenger news story Jan. 24 on last week’s Alvord school board meeting, it was stated that Ward had “expressed concern about the board’s would-be hearing of an employee grievance” that had been removed from that meeting’s agenda.

The article said Ward was concerned because the employee had met previously with board members, who would therefore not be able to make an unbiased decision in the matter.

Ward said this week that her concern was actually due to the fact that the complainant had met with board members, not the employee.

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Basketball: Bulldogs defeat Valley View

The Alvord Bulldogs stayed within two games of third place in District 11-2A Friday with a big victory over Valley View.

Damon Ledet poured in 19 points as the Bulldogs hammered the Eagles 73-42.

Riley Davila added 11 for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-4 in 11-2A.

The Bulldogs took on league leader Muenster at home Tuesday. They head to Chico Friday.


The Chico Dragons couldn’t run with the second-place Lindsay Knights Friday.

The Dragons fell to 1-6 in 11-2A with the 55-35 loss.

Chico looked to rebound Tuesday at home against Collinsville in the first game of the second half of league play. The Dragons take on Alvord Friday at home.

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Basketball: Alvord shutters Valley View, 75-45

The Alvord Lady Bulldogs rolled to their sixth straight win Friday, blasting Valley View 75-45.

The Lady Bulldogs improved to 15-12 overall and 8-1 in District 11-2A. Alvord went into Tuesday’s game with league leader Muenster with a chance to pull even at the top.

Cierra Rangel led a balanced scoring attack for the Lady Bulldogs Friday, pouring in 16 points with seven rebounds. Katie Claborn added 15 points. Brianna Ponder had 14 points to go along with her team-high nine rebounds.

After Tuesday’s showdown, Alvord heads to Chico Friday.


The Chico Lady Dragons struggled to generate offense Friday against the Lindsay Lady Knights.

Chico fell 62-27 and to 2-7 in District 11-2A play.

Chico tried to rebound Tuesday with a matchup with Collinsville. The Lady Dragons take on Alvord at home Friday.

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Former Alvord school board member airs grievances

A former Alvord school board member argued for more transparency during the group’s meeting Thursday night.

Jeannette Ward, who served two terms on the board and lost a re-election bid last May to Charlie Matthews, spoke in open forum about what she believed to be “examples of wrongdoing” by board members.

Ward filed several open records requests last May for electronic communication between board members from Jan. 1, 2014, to May 22, 2014. She expressed her frustration that she had not received all of the requested information, and that it was rumored that a school board member instructed an administrator to no longer use her photography business because she was “costing the district money by filing open records requests.”

Ward said there is a cost associated with open records requests, and she will pay for the information she has requested, as soon as she receives an invoice.

Ward also expressed concern about the board’s would-be hearing of an employee grievance that was originally on Thursday’s agenda but was removed before the meeting started.

Ward said that because the employee met previously with board members, the board would not be able to make an unbiased decision about the grievance.

“Because of these and other possible documented violations, I am requesting that this board conduct a public hearing to examine examples of wrongdoing by a few of your fellow board members,” she said. “I think the public deserves the right to know the documented truth. I have requested to be put on the next available agenda so that I can present the information I have found.

“I want to give you an opportunity to police your own before the authorities are involved,” she said.

She also suggested that they reorganize the board to ensure they have a “strong, educated leader” in place.

The board is not allowed to take action on items discussed in open forum.

Later in the meeting the board heard an annual financial audit report, which was unanimously approved.

The only other action that came during the meeting was when the board unanimously approved a recommendation to hire Megan Morett of San Antonio to be a physical education teacher and coach at the elementary school.

The board tabled a motion to consider a TASB policy update until its next meeting to give the members more time to study the update.

The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at 100 Mosley Lane.

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Green and growing: Greenhouse to stimulate Alvord’s roots

The history of the Alvord area includes rich soil, big gardens and a thriving farmer’s market – even commercial vegetable production.

That era may never return, but students in Alvord ISD will get more than a glimpse of how a horticultural operation works when they begin hands-on study in the new greenhouse being constructed at Alvord High School.

Raedy to Grow

READY TO GROW – Alvord High School ag teacher Sharon Sackett and her students are looking forward to the day when they can begin using their new greenhouse. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The school board approved $40,000 for the greenhouse back in June, hoping to get the facility delivered, installed and functioning by the time classes started last August.

It hasn’t exactly hit that timeline – but it is going up now behind the high school. Students should be using it within a few weeks.

For ag teacher Sharon Sackett, it can’t come soon enough.

“Last year we started all of our seeds in the classroom,” she said. “I got a bunch of propagating mats, and Mr. [fellow ag teacher Jeremiah] Green built me a grow-light stand. You can do it, and it’s great, but everything’s not controlled. Temperature is not controlled. Water is not controlled.”

Nevertheless, her horticulture students started a few hundred pepper and tomato plants in the classroom. They gave them away “to kind of get the kids started.”

This spring, look for them to be selling seedlings as a fundraiser for the up-and-coming program.

Sackett, a native of Missouri, is in her third year at Alvord. She also teaches landscape design, two classes of ninth grade principles of agriculture, two wildlife management classes – which will incorporate the school’s new archery program – and floral design.

She’s been researching greenhouses for a couple of years.

Going Up

GOING UP – Work continues on the new greenhouse, which should be completed within a few weeks. The school board approved the $40,000 project last June. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I took a greenhouse management class through North Central Texas College (in Gainesville) last year to learn more about it,” she said. “I looked at several brands, then started going around to different schools to look at their greenhouses.

“I really liked Bowie’s because it wasn’t too small, but it wasn’t too big for the number of kids we have,” she said. “Everything is easily accessible.”

Bowie put in their own irrigation system. Alvord is having the company install theirs – one of the things that delayed installation. The water system is zoned and automated, so all the plants get watered by various delivery methods when they need it. It can even be pre-set to water during holidays.

School maintenance personnel will extend gas and water lines to the greenhouse, which will have a pea-gravel floor with one sidewalk down the middle to make it wheelchair-accessible. Green’s welding students will build the benches, and landscape design kids will help with the layout.

Sackett said a surprising number of schools have greenhouses as a teaching tool.

“There’s a lot of money in the green industry, and these kids can learn so many life skills from it,” she said. “Not only can I use it, biology can use the greenhouse, our foods and nutrition class – I want to get them out there so they can grow their own herbs for the kitchen. I want to incorporate a lot of different classes to use it, not just horticulture.”

She plans to start seedlings in there as soon as she can. Plans also include container-grown plants, hanging baskets – even a community garden – with an emphasis on organics and heirloom seeds.

“We’ve put in a couple of raised-bed boxes, but I would like to elaborate on that once we get our greenhouse in,” she said. “We started an outdoor habitat for the wildlife class. We’ve got a pond, bird houses, bird feeders, squirrel feeders. We’re going to try and get that started.

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a lot of work yet to do.”

Sackett secured a $700 grant from the Wise County Soil & Water Conservation District to help purchase some live oak trees and other plants, as well as rain barrels – and she knows there’s more grant money out there.

“We’re going to try to get certified as a backyard habitat through Texas Parks and Wildlife,” she said. “Hopefully I can kind of gear toward an outdoor classroom, bring the elementary kids over, utilize biology and kind of do some micro-climate type things.”

A future curriculum may even include a greenhouse management class.

Her 60 or 70 students like to get outside and work, she said. They’ve done quite a bit of landscaping around the school building and plan to do more.

“They do a whole lot better with hands-on than they do with paperwork,” she said. “They show more interest in school when they can actually say, ‘Hey, I grew that!'”

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Basketball: Nothing to Ponder – Lady Bulldog refuses to let injury stop her

Basketball: Nothing to Ponder – Lady Bulldog refuses to let injury stop her

Brianna Ponder doesn’t need to look far for memories of her 18th birthday – only down to her left leg.

On the final day of the Granbury Tournament, the Alvord senior’s left leg buckled when she tried to chase down a loose ball.

Still Standing

STILL STANDING – Alvord senior Brianna Ponder has missed only two games after tearing her ACL in her left knee in mid-December. Ponder plans to finish the basketball season and run track in the spring. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I had lost control of the ball, stepped wrong and it folded on me,” Ponder recalled. “I tried to go back in the game and when I tried to block out it completely folded on me again.

“I sat there on the on bench the rest of the game hoping it was not a big deal. I never thought I would tear my ACL. I was praying it was just the MCL and that I would be able to rest it and not miss any time.”

The injury turned out to be the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament tear along with a torn meniscus. However, the senior refused to let the injury sideline her in her final campaign with the Lady Bulldogs.

Wearing a brace, Ponder continues to be one of Alvord’s top players as they battle for a playoff spot and possible District 11-2A title.

No Sitting Out

NO SITTING OUT – Alvord senior Brianna Ponder refused to stay sidelined after suffering a knee injury earlier this season. She is averaging 9.3 points per game. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Ponder, who missed just two games after the injury, headed into the Lady Bulldogs’ game against Valley View averaging 9.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

“It’s amazing. You wouldn’t know [her ACL] was torn unless I told you,” said Alvord coach John Shelton. “She walks with a limp and may have lost a step or two, but it’s not enough to make a difference. She’s still the best defender we have on the ball.”

Shelton said he’s had one other player during his coaching career play with a torn ACL, but it was a post player.

“She played inside and wasn’t the up-and-down-the-floor player that Bri is,” he said.

After suffering the injury, Ponder continued to practice before going to the doctor.

“I waited a week. I didn’t want the doctor to tell me I couldn’t play,” Ponder said.

She was advised against playing but Ponder refused to listen and rejoined her teammates.

“It’s my senior year. I’m still going to play,” Ponder said.

Ponder points to fellow senior Katie Claborn as her motivation to stay on the floor.

“She moved here in sixth grade and there was an instant connection,” Ponder explained. “If I stopped playing, I’d feel like I’m letting Katie down.”

Since the injury, Ponder said practices are the toughest to get through.

“It hurts more in practice. During a game, you have the adrenaline going,” she said.

Shelton keeps Ponder out of some of the practice drills that require a lot of horizontal cutting.

“She’s working as hard as she did before the injury,” Shelton said. “She still gives full effort.”

Ponder does spend extra time with the trainer icing and working to build strength in the leg. She’s found only a few limitations.

“I still have a lot of strength in the leg. It’s a little weird because I can’t jump as high,” Ponder explained. “I can keep up with [opponents] well.”

The one frustration is her inability to step around defenders on drives to the basket.

After basketball season, Ponder intends to run track and compete in the long jump. She made it to regionals last year in the high jump, triple jump and long jump.

She doesn’t believe she will be able to defend her district title in the high jump.

“This is the leg I jump off of,” Ponder said pointing to her left leg. “I definitely will long jump and try to get on the sprint relay.”

Even with the injured leg, Ponder believes she’s capable of doing anything she sets her mind to.

“It’s definitely mind over matter at this point,” Ponder said.

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Basketball: Dragons fall to Era

The Chico Dragons couldn’t overcome a slow start Tuesday, falling to Era 57-21.

The Dragons managed only eight points in the first half to Era’s 39.

Jonathan Nabors led the Dragons with eight points. Kalan Johnson added six and Hagen Davis four.

Chico fell to 1-5 in 11-2A with the loss. The Dragons took Lindsay Friday and will face Collinsville Tuesday.


The 14th-ranked Poolville Monarchs cruised past Alvord 99-56 Tuesday.

Alvord fell to 2-4 in 11-2A with the loss. Alvord faced last-place Valley View Friday and will meet league leader and second-ranked Muenster Tuesday.

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Basketball: Alvord battles for 11-2A lead – Lady Bulldogs face No. 13 Muenster

Before Christmas, John Shelton warned that his team was still a work in progress that he hoped would really start clicking in the new year.

After winning five straight games and taking sole possession of second place in District 11-2A, Shelton still claims his Alvord Lady Bulldogs have room to grow.

“We’ve still not got used to playing together in this system,” Shelton said. “While other teams are peaking, we’re still getting better each game. Every practice we’re still learning things.”

Alvord (14-12, 7-1) will get to challenge for the league lead Tuesday when the Muenster Lady Hornets (8-0) come to Alvord for a 6:30 p.m. matchup.

Muenster clipped Alvord 47-46 when the two teams met Jan. 2 at Muenster.

Shelton said the Lady Hornets, ranked 13th in 2A, pose several challenges.

“They are solid. They are big and also have guards that can handle what we do,” Shelton said. “We’ll have to play really well.”

The Lady Bulldogs will need to be dialed in on the perimeter, which hasn’t been an issue this season with senior Katie Claborn knocking down 80 of her 275 3-point attempts. Claborn is averaging 14.6 points to go along with 2.5 steals.

Cierra Rangel and Brianna Ponder all provide solid options for the Lady Bulldogs’ offense. Rangel is putting in 13.8 points and grabbing 7.8 rebounds.

Ponder, who is playing with a torn ACL, is tossing in 9.3 points with 6.1 rebounds.

When the shots weren’t falling from the outside, the Lady Bulldogs proved they can still score Tuesday in a 60-53 win over Poolville.

Shelton said his team missed its first 16 3-point attempts. Alvord trailed 14-12 after the first quarter.

After Alvord went ahead 30-26 at halftime, Claborn got hot in the second half, knocking down five 3-pointers. She finished with 22 points. Alvord outscored Poolville 21-13 in the third to take a 51-39 lead.

Rangel finished with a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds. Ponder tossed in eight points with 10 rebounds.

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Basketball: Alvord takes over second

The Alvord Lady Bulldogs took over second place in District 11-2A Friday with a 60-55 victory over the Lindsay Lady Knights.

Alvord (13-12, 6-1) entered the game tied with Lindsay – a game behind first-place Muenster, who went undefeated in the first half of league play.

Alvord built a nine-point lead in the third quarter Friday, 47-38. The Lady Bulldogs then held off a late charge by the Lady Knights to get the win.

Brianna Ponder led Alvord with 18 points. Cierra Rangel added 15 and Katie Claborn 11.

Alvord began the second half of district play Tuesday at Poolville. The Lady Bulldogs head to Valley View Friday.

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Basketball: Knights charge past Bulldogs

The Alvord Bulldogs struggled to generate offense in the third quarter, digging a double-digit hole Friday night.

The Lindsay Knights went on a 13-4 run in the third on the way to the 57-40 victory.

“We had one of those nights when nothing would go in,” said Alvord coach Tony Brazeal.

Alvord (4-8) fell to 2-3 in District 11-2A.

Jaylon White led the Bulldogs with 17 points.

The Bulldogs trailed by eight, 31-23, at halftime before the rough third quarter. Alvord couldn’t trim any points off the 17-point hole in the final frame.

Alvord looked to rebound Tuesday against Poolville, ranked No. 14 in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 2A poll. Alvord will play at Valley View Friday.

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Ward named to honor roll

Alvord resident Jordan Ward has been named to the President’s Honor Roll at the University of Central Oklahoma for the fall 2014 semester.

To be included on the President’s Honor Roll, a student must record a 4.0 grade point average for their work in qualifying classes.

Additionally, students must complete at least 12 hours of on-campus class credit for the semester.

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Tractor driver injured on U.S. 287

An Alvord man was injured when his tractor was hit by a pick-up on U.S. 81/287 shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Marvin Porter, 55, was transported to Wise Regional Health System by ambulance with unknown injuries after he hit the dash of the tractor following the collision.

Wheel Off

WHEEL OFF – DPS troopers investigate a collision between a pick-up truck and tractor on U.S. 81/287 south of Alvord Thursday. An Alvord man was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“He had a lot of preexisting conditions, and it’s unclear if he aggravated those and to what extent,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Zeb Siebeneck.

Porter was injured in an April 2014 wreck on U.S. 81/287 in Decatur when a fuel tank from an 18-wheeler broke free and struck his pickup.

Porter’s friend Michael White, who was on the scene after Thursday’s accident, said Porter had back surgery after that accident and later underwent knee surgery.

“I hope his back is not messed up again,” White said.

Porter was driving his tractor on the southbound shoulder of U.S. 81/287, according to Siebeneck. A pickup driven by Tuxie Ballard, 25, of New Mexico hit the tractor from behind, ripping off the left back tire. Ballard’s truck came to rest in the median.

“Ballard was in the outside lane going 75 in a 75, and Porter was on the shoulder,” Siebeneck said. “[Ballard] dropped his phone and swerved and hit the tractor.”

Ballard said his phone was on the console and fell.

“I looked down for a second, and by the time I looked up, I kissed his rear end,” Ballard said.

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Basketball: Defense spurs Alvord to victory

The Alvord Lady Bulldogs tightened up defensively in the third quarter, limiting Era to just four points on the way to a 51-42 victory.

The Lady Bulldogs (12-12) moved to 5-1 in 11-2A and owned a share of second place with Lindsay. Alvord went to Lindsay Friday for the final game of the first half of district.

Cierra Rangel led Alvord against Era with 17 points. Katie Claborn added 14 and Brianna Ponder 10.

Reagan Guthrie helped on the defensive end, drawing three charges.

Alvord led by three, 26-23, at halftime. With its work on the defensive end, the Lady Bulldogs built a 37-27 lead going into the fourth quarter.

After their showdown Friday in Lindsay, the Lady Bulldogs will start the second half of league play Tuesday in Poolville.

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Basketball: Bulldogs fall to Era

The Alvord Bulldogs dug out of an early hole Tuesday but couldn’t hold off Era in a 60-57 loss.

Alvord fell behind 17-9 in the first quarter before rallying to take a 30-26 halftime lead. Era pulled ahead 44-41 going to the fourth and held off the Bulldogs in the final frame.

Joe Randall led Alvord with 22 points. Jaylon White added nine.

Alvord (4-7, 2-2) traveled to Lindsay Friday. The Bulldogs will go to Poolville Tuesday.

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Bring back the nose rag

I wonder if anyone remembers nose rags – used in pre-Kleenex tissue days, at least by our family.

Nose rags served the same purpose as the handkerchiefs still in use today. Unlike handkerchiefs, however, nose rags were disposable, like Kleenex.

Items such as sheets, dresses, shirts, etc. that were considered completely worn out and not suitable for other purposes were torn or cut into small squares to be used as nose rags. The items were usually faded and soft from many washings – the type of things present-day society discards as totally useless and sends to the “dump.”

The soft little nose rags were used one time and then discarded.

Just think, cut into small pieces, the worn item was easier to dispose of, and money, as well as a tree, was saved!

Yes, I am old, and yes, I do have a cold.

Laura Brewer

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Averett Finley Hicks

Chris and Kristi Hicks of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Averett Finley Hicks, on Jan. 6, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Grandparents are Lance and Sue Hicks of Bridgeport and Mark and Deryl Newby of Bridgeport.

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Basketball: Alvord thwarts Collinsville

Mikena Mader’s outside shooting helped the Alvord Lady Bulldogs overcome being shorthanded Friday night.

Mader knocked down six 3-pointers and poured in 20 points as the Lady Bulldogs beat Collinsville 73-42 to move to 4-1 in 11-2A. Alvord (11-12) is in third place in the league behind co-leaders Muenster and Lindsay, who are 5-0.

Mader was one of three Lady Bulldogs in double figures. Katie Claborn added 18 and Briana Ponder 12. Bailey Hamilton chipped in nine.

Alvord was without three players, including Cierra Rangel.

The Lady Bulldogs held Collinsville to just two points in the first quarter, jumping out to a 12-2 lead. Alvord went on a 25-13 run in the second quarter, building a 37-15 advantage.

Alvord played host to Era Tuesday before a showdown at Lindsay Friday.

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Basketball: Bulldogs scuttle Pirates, 71-50

The Alvord Bulldogs used a big third quarter to sail past the Collinsville Pirates Friday night.

Alvord outscored Collinsville 25-11 in the third to take a 16-point lead on the way to a 71-50 victory.

Alvord improved to 4-6 and 2-1 in District 11-2A.

Jaylon White led Alvord with 15 points. Joe Randall added 13 and Kory Maag 11.

Alvord had an 11-point lead in the first quarter before Collinsville went on a 16-7 run to cut the margin to 28-26 at halftime.

After its big third quarter, Alvord closed the game out with 18 points in the final frame.

The Bulldogs returned to action Tuesday against Era. Alvord will head to Lindsay Friday.

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Basketball: Alvord runs away from Chico

The Alvord Bulldogs held the Chico Dragons to just 12 points in the second half Tuesday, picking up their first victory in 11-2A.

SHOOTING TO WIN – Alvord’s Kory Maag gets off a shot over a Chico defender Tuesday in the Bulldogs’ win. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

The Bulldogs outscored Chico 25-12 in the second half on the way to a 60-35 win.

Joe Randall led Alvord with 15 points. Jaylon White added 13 and Damon Ledet 10.

Alvord moved to 3-6 and 1-1 in the league.

The Bulldogs raced to a 19-11 lead in the first quarter and built the advantage to 35-23 at halftime. They led 49-29 going to the fourth quarter.

Jonathan Nabors paced the Dragons with 10 points. Hagan Davis added eight.

Alvord went to Collinsville Friday and will take on Era at home Tuesday.

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Basketball: Lady Bulldogs shoot down Chico

The Alvord Lady Bulldogs used a 33-point second quarter Tuesday to break open the game against the Chico Lady Dragons.

TIGHT DEFENSE – Alvord’s Katelyn Schedcik tries to get a shot up during the Lady Bulldogs’ win. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Alvord went on for a 70-40 victory, improving to 10-12 on the season and 3-1 in District 11-2A.

Chico fell to 1-3 in the league.

Katie Claborn led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points. Brittany Gayler, Cierra Rangel and Miranda Smith finished with 11 points each.

Whitney Renfro chipped in 12 points for the Lady Dragons. Alli York had 10.

Alvord held a 14-8 lead in the first quarter before its explosion in the second frame. The 33-point outburst put Alvord up 47-16 at the break.

Chico outscored Alvord 18-12 in the third quarter but trailed 59-32 going into the fourth.

Alvord went to Collinsville Friday and will play Era at home Tuesday.

Chico took on district leader Muenster at home Friday and will play host to Poolville Tuesday.

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