Summer reading programs kick off next week

Students may have put their school books away, but local libraries promise plenty of literary fun through their summer reading programs.

Alvord, Bridgeport, Chico and Decatur public libraries have programs that begin next week. They’re jam-packed with exciting entertainers, creative crafts and reading rewards.


Alvord Public Library’s summer reading program starts next week and is 10 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday June 11 through July 2.

Programs are aimed at students in kindergarten through sixth grade and will include:

  • June 11 – Magician
  • June 18 – Sea shells
  • June 25 – Rocks and minerals
  • July 2 – Picnic

All programs will be held at Alvord City Hall, 215 W. Elm, and with parents’ permission children will walk with staff to the library to check out books.

Rewards will be given for those who document what they read this summer.

For information, call 940-427-2842.


Bridgeport Public Library’s Summer Reading Club is 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday June 11 through July 30.

Director of library services Cindy B. Macon said the summer will be full of excitement and prizes with programs aimed at school-aged children.

The schedule is as follows:

  • June 11 – Cool School with Ms. Maria
  • June 18 – Storyteller Shelly Tucker of Denton (at community center)
  • June 25 – Musical storyteller and author Willy Welch of Dallas
  • July 2 – It’s a surprise!
  • July 9 – Snake Encounters with Daryl Sprout (at community center)
  • July 16 – Ms. Polly’s Music
  • July 23 – Secret Agent Magic with James Wand (at community center)
  • July 30 – Grand finale celebration

With the exception of those listed as being held at the community center (1102 Lawdwin Ave.), all other programs will be at the library (2159 10th St.).

Macon said this year, readers will keep track of minutes read to win prizes, and she hopes as a group they can read 1,000 hours this summer.

For information, call 940-683-4412.


Chico Public Library is offering a myriad of programs for all ages this summer.

The children’s summer reading program, Fizz, Boom, Read!, is 11 a.m. to noon every Thursday June 12 through July 17.

Programs will include:

  • June 12 – Be a Mad Scientist!
  • June 19 – Lava Launch (will run 30 minutes longer)
  • June 26 – Sense-ational!
  • July 3 – James Wand Magic Show
  • July 10 – Grossology!
  • July 17 – Gametastic

The teen summer reading program, Spark a Reaction, is 1 to 2 p.m. every Tuesday June 10 through July 15, and the schedule is as follows:

  • June 10 – Spark a Reaction: ZAP!
  • June 17 – Magic Class with James Wand (2 to 3 p.m.)
  • June 24 – Geologically Speaking!
  • July 1 – CSI: Evidence Collection
  • July 8 – Brush Bots
  • July 15 – Gametastic

Library Director Michelle Slonaker has also planned a book club for adults – Literary Elements, which will be held 6:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays June 9 through July 14.

Slonaker said the group will focus on reading books that have been turned into movies and discuss the differences in the stories in both mediums. Book club members will also learn about eBooks and databases available through the library.

Meetings will include light refreshments, and members will be given the opportunity to provide input about future library programming.

For information, call the library at 940-644-2330. Chico Public Library is at 106 W. Jacksboro St.


The Decatur Public Library will kick off its summer reading program with a carnival-style celebration 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 7.

Activities will include a craft with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Wise County and face painting. Jack, from Tales with Jack, a program in which students read books to a dog, will also be present, as well as Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins with a special police vehicle.

The carnival marks the start of the library’s summer reading program: Fizz, Boom, Read!, which is every Tuesday June 10 through July 29. Each day there will be two programs – 10:30 a.m. and noon.

The schedule, with programs aimed at pre-school and elementary students, is as follows:

  • June 10 – Dinosaur George
  • June 17 – James Wand, Spy Magic
  • June 24 – Critterman
  • July 1 – Whirled on a String yo-yo demonstration
  • July 8 – Zooniversity
  • July 15 – StoryTime Theater: “The Tortoise and the Hare”
  • July 22 – Dan Gibson, music and storytelling
  • July 29 – Mad Science

Special science programs for teens will be held at 4 p.m. every Friday June 13 through Aug. 1.

Youth Services Manager Kristin Nevin said readers of all ages can keep reading logs this summer to earn prizes.

Young readers can earn weekly awards by reading or being read to for 20 minutes, five days a week.

Teens and adults can also document the books they read this summer, and for every three books read, their name will be put in a drawing for a big prize to be given away at the end of the summer.

For information, call the library at 940-393-0290 or visit

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Brass, birds and smoke: Young shooter gets Olympic level training in Colorado

Brass, birds and smoke: Young shooter gets Olympic level training in Colorado

Josh Andresen cut away the green plastic wrap from the metal case on his dining room table.

He thumbed the locks until the combinations clicked and opened. He removed a long metal locking rod and unsnapped the latches. Inside was – home at last from Colorado – his Beretta 682 Gold E shotgun.

Aiming for Success

AIMING FOR SUCCESS – Josh Andresen looks past a shotgun shell. He hopes to make his love for shooting sports a lifelong obsession. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Josh has logged hundreds of hours making his mark as top-tier sport shooting athlete.

The Alvord teenager was one of only a dozen sport shooters nationwide chosen for training at the Junior Olympic Development Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was instructed by world-class competitors and college athletes, and slept and ate in the same place as America’s Olympic contenders.

“It was awesome. It was huge and I only got to see part of it,” Josh said. “We got up at 6 a.m. and ate. As soon as we got done eating, we got on the bus. We started shooting around 9 and did that until 4.”

Every day the coaches had at least one big thing they wanted the shooters – all between the ages of 15 and 17 – to focus on.

Back at Last

BACK AT LAST – After waiting nearly two weeks for its return from Colorado, Josh carefully inspects his shotgun. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

They worked on marksmanship, strategy and the mental game behind shooting sports. Josh learned several new techniques he believes have already improved his game, adding to his already impressive talent.

It was no fluke that he got to Colorado. He’s been training since he was about 10 years old. He puts at least 1,000 12-gauge rounds a month into the air, blasting clay birds into shards and puffs of orange and black dust.

Josh’s dad, Troy Andresen, has been his coach ever since they started.

Taking the Shot

TAKING THE SHOT – While at the Junior Olympic Development Camp in Colorado Springs, Josh shot about 1,000 rounds in three days recently. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Troy works with Josh and other kids as a part of 4-H’s sport shooting program. Josh has gotten additional training from the likes of Olympic medalist Bret Erickson, who was the coach of the U.S. Olympic trap shooting team.

“We mainly concentrate on sporting clays right now, because that’s what all the colleges look at,” Troy said. “We want to be on the radar of colleges.”

Troy said colleges with shooting teams realize clay shooters can shoot anything.

READY FOR COMPETITION – Nearly 800 shooters will try to outdo Josh in state competition at Fossil Pointe in September. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Josh is still shy of one of his goals – becoming a master level competitor, which is another way to stay on the collegiate radar.

Right now he’s AA, or at least really close. AA is one step below the master class. A young shooter starts out at D and moves up in class by winning tournaments and earning punches based on how many shooters he competes against, and how many shots he beat them by.

Each class requires more punches to move up.

“He should be master class now, but he hasn’t shot enough registered competitions,” Troy said. “Instead, he’s shot more fundraiser shoots because he wins money there, and also 4-H events.”

Josh is aiming at a couple of colleges that offer scholarships for shooting sports.

Lindenwood University in Missouri is where he hopes to go. Troy said it is the No. 1 shooting college in the nation.

“They don’t call it a shooting scholarship, but if your grades are good enough they’ll give you an academic scholarship if you shoot for them,” Troy said. “They offer $10,000 a year. Most colleges don’t offer financial assistance for shooting sports.”

At the Junior Olympic camp, two Florida State students were training Josh and the other shooters.

“They told us all about collegiate shooting. They said the training is a lot more in-depth, more like what we had up there,” Josh said. “In three days we shot close to 1,000 rounds. I was pretty sore.”

Since he was shooting as much in a couple of days as he usually does in a month, he found out some interesting things about his gun and others’.

“I learned my gun shoots really flat. I have my gun set up for sporting clays. People who trap shoot will have their stock set where their cheek is higher so the gun shoots at a higher angle,” Josh said. “That’s because you’re always moving up to the bird. I had to adjust.”

He said several of the other kids had the same shotgun, which proved the most reliable with so much wear and tear.

The Andresens had a hard time just getting Josh’s shotgun to Colorado.

“American Airlines didn’t want to let me take it,” Josh said.

His mom, Rhonda, had to list on the flight like she was on board.

“We had to list it as my baggage,” Rhonda said. “I didn’t know if it would work. The flight was full and oversold. The gun went because the baggage always goes. He got on. I had to wait for the next flight because I didn’t know if he could pick it up or not. I gave him my luggage ticket and told him to try and pick it up.”

Fortunately, she didn’t have to fly to Colorado, because by the time she would have had to board, Josh had already landed and was able to pick up the gun.

“They didn’t even look at my card,” Josh said. “I just walked in and said, ‘That’s mine,’ and walked out.”

The JODC shipped it back to Texas, two weeks after the competition.

Once he had gotten to Colorado Springs, Josh started shooting nearly right away, but instead of skeet or sporting clays, he would be shooting trap.

Troy said trap shooting is the easiest to learn, but difficult to master.

“In skeet, targets are always in the same place,” Troy said. “People have literally shot a perfect round of skeet with a blindfold on because they say, ‘Pull!’ and hear the machine go off and it’s all repetition.”

In trap, a shooter has 25 shots total divided into five shots per station. The birds, or clays pigeons, are thrown in a random order.

“My scores are usually about 23 to 25 out of 25,” Josh said. “It’s international trap and it’s a lot faster game and one of the hardest games in the world.”

The camp dealt in large part with physical shooting techniques, shooting stances and getting a feel for the sheer speed of the game – but they also trained the participants’ minds.

Josh said there is a heavy mental component to sports shooting. Any loss of concentration can lose a shooter their competition.

“Don’t let one missed target turn into four,” Josh said. “We’ve had some people who are great shooters who shoot 25 of 25 again and again and then miss one target and miss the rest on that station, just because they let themselves fall apart.

“You have to make a conscious effort not to think about the last target. You can’t think about the past or the future. You have to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

Troy tries to hammer that lesson home and often tells Josh and others a tournament isn’t a single 100-round match – it’s 100 one-round matches.

“Don’t let the small stuff bother you. Whatever is going to happen happens,” Josh said.

He said the JODC coaches stressed a couple of techniques in particular, including “quiet eye” – a way to clear a shooter’s mind before calling for his birds.

“They said to wait three seconds before calling for the bird. Those three seconds help your brain concentrate on one thing,” Josh said. “They said just like in basketball, if you concentrate on the goal for three seconds, you’re 75 percent more likely to make it.

“It took me a while to continuously do that. I saw a big improvement.”

The other major technique tied in with one of Josh’s other passions – music.

At home, his guitars hang alongside his shooting trophies and ribbons. When he’s not blasting away at clays, he’s working his frets and picking the chords of a new song or two.

Josh started playing piano when he was 7 or 8 and picked up the guitar at 12. He thinks his playing has always benefited his shooting by teaching him to be precise.

While playing his music, he can also forget the troubles of the day and lose himself in song. Strangely enough, this love for music helped him see his target better.

“They told us to go a half hour before you shoot and just take time to listen to your music,” he said. “Be away from everyone else, clear your mind of everything and focus.

“Listen to some kind of calming music and not anything that would put you on edge. Just listen to something that lets you forget about everything.”

Josh said he listens to a lot of 3 Doors Down in this time

“You’re trying to get focused on the bird,” Josh said. “What I would do is watch other people shoot and watch each bird as they came out of the house. They are going fast and you’re trying to see it as quick as you can.”

Josh has played in his church’s band some and has even thought about getting some people together for his own band, but knows he would have to give something up.

“Everything I do, I love,” Josh said.

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Summer will feature another hot item: meals

Summer will feature another hot item: meals

Hungry children in Decatur will have a new option for hot meals this summer.

And the best part is, it’s free.

The Decatur school district is offering free summer meals to anyone 18 and younger at Decatur High School and Young Elementary School during the month of June. The district is participating in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Meal Time

MEAL TIME – Decatur ISD will have cafeterias open at Young Elementary and Decatur High School during the month of June for students age 18 and under to eat breakfast and lunch for free. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Shelly Laaser, director of child nutrition at DISD, said schools who have at least half of their student population qualify for free or reduced price lunches based on income are required to offer a summer feeding program, unless they receive a waiver. Decatur has about 47 percent who qualify, but Laaser said the school felt it was important to offer the service even though it wasn’t required to offer the program.

“The reality is, kids are hungry,” Laaser said. “As much as an ugly thing that is to think about, it’s not sweet and pretty and nice, it’s just the reality of it.”

Laaser said cafeteria managers are able to see the need first-hand throughout the school year. That need becomes even greater during the summer months.

“They see the kids are hungry when they come back to school on Monday mornings,” she said. “That’s why we do the menu the way we do with serving protein for breakfast on Mondays for the kids who haven’t eaten over the weekend. At elementary, it’s pizza on Mondays. That’s probably one of our higher calorie items. We do more calories on our Monday menu because of those kids who come back from the weekend who are hungry and could use that.”

In previous years, the district has offered meals at the cafeterias during summer school, but it operated like a normal school year. Kids who qualified for free meals ate for free, those who qualified for reduced prices ate for a reduced price and those who didn’t qualify paid full price. This year, everyone will eat for free, regardless of income.

Although the food service will be located at the two summer school locations and follow the same dates, even those students who are not in summer school can come eat. Laaser said the district will not require any proof of age, residency or income.

“Anyone who appears under the age of 18, we’ll feed them,” she said.

Decatur will serve breakfast and lunch through June 27 at the following times and locations:

  • Young Elementary School: Breakfast, 7:30 to 8 a.m.; Lunch, 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (Monday through Friday)
  • Decatur High School: Breakfast, 7:30 to 8 a.m.; Lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (Monday through Thursday)

Laaser said the school has been supportive of the program, and in fact, new athletic director Mike Fuller has even encouraged youth attending summer camps to eat breakfast at the school first.

Since this is the pilot year, the school district decided to operate the program only during the month of June, but next year they will possibly expand it through July and even look at offering meals at alternate locations.


Bridgeport ISD will offer a similar summer feeding program called Seamless Summer, also through the Texas Department of Agriculture. Suzana Hicks, child nutrition director at Bridgeport ISD, said this will be the third summer the school has offered the program.

Bridgeport will offer free lunches to anyone 18 or younger 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday June 9 through the end of July at the Bridgeport Elementary School cafeteria.

Hicks said that while the school district was required to offer at least one month of a summer feeding program since the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunches is more than 60 percent in the district, school leaders felt it was important to offer two months of meals to students.

In addition to hot meal options for students, two other summer feeding programs that offer grocery items to qualifying families will return.

Families of Decatur ISD students who qualified for free or reduced lunches are eligible to participate in Decatur Cares. Each Tuesday, beginning June 10, families can pick up bags of groceries for food preparation at home. The program also features educational items from the Decatur Public Library and nutrition information and demonstrations by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Wise County. Distribution is 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays through Aug. 19.

Since the program does not receive state funding, it operates on donations. To make a donation, drop off a check at Wise Area Relief Mission (WARM) in Decatur and write “Decatur Cares” in the memo line.

A similar program, Alvord Cares, will also return for its third year. Food distribution is 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays June 17 through Aug. 19 at the First United Methodist Church in Alvord. Those in the Alvord school district who meet income eligibility requirements are asked to fill out an application. For an application for Alvord Cares, call Pam Harris at 940-393-3782 or Margaret Hunt at 940-389-7579.

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Schmucker heads to Panhandle

Schmucker heads to Panhandle

After guiding the Lady Bulldogs to five straight playoff appearances, including a pair of trips to the Class 2A Region II final, Rob Schmucker is leaving the Alvord bench.

Schmucker has accepted a head coaching job at Panhandle, which will compete in District 3-2A next year.

Charrting a New Course

CHARTING A NEW COURSE – After guiding the Alvord Lady Bulldogs to 151 wins in six seasons and two trips to the Class 2A Region II finals, Rob Schmucker is leaving to take the head girls coaching job at Panhandle. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It was a very hard decision,” said Schmucker, who told his players last week. “The hardest moment was telling the girls.”

Schmucker, who is from Nazareth, will be just an hour-and-a-half from his family in his new post. His wife, Sheena, who is his assistant coach, is expecting their second boy in July.

“This move is for the family,” he said.

Mrs. Schmucker will coach cross country and lead the middle school program at Panhandle, while also serving as an assistant in basketball and track.

Schmucker came to Alvord in 2008-09 after serving as the head boys basketball coach at O’Donnell and Lockney for a combined five seasons. His Lady Bulldog teams went 151-53 in six seasons.

“We’ve been very fortunate with the athletes we’ve had here,” Schmucker said. “They are going to continue to have those type of athletes.”

After missing the playoffs Schmucker’s first year, the Lady Bulldogs returned to postseason in 2009-10, falling to Aubrey in bi-district.

The next year, the team lost its only senior, Sam Rogers, in a car accident in the first weeks of the season.

Schmucker helped guide them to a share of the District 9-2A title and the league’s top seed after winning a tiebreaker game. The Lady Bulldogs ended the year with a loss in the region quarterfinals to No. 1 Brock.

In 2011-12, Alvord started the season 20-0 and won the District 9-2A title. The Lady Bullogs were ranked No. 1 for part of the year before again falling to Brock in the 2A Region II final.

After losing their top player, Jordan Ward, to graduation, the Lady Bulldogs came back in 2012-13 with another stellar season, reaching the region final before being stopped by Brock again.

This past year, Alvord went 21-10 and reached the region quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 Sunnyvale.

“Coach Schmucker has done an outstanding job the entire time he has been at Alvord ISD,” said Superintendent Bill Branum. “He is both a great coach and classroom teacher. I believe that he is one of the very best basketball coaches in Texas and know he will continue to be very successful for the remainder of his career. We will miss him as a coach, teacher and person.”

Branum said he’s received numerous resumes for the opening.

“There’s been quite a bit of interest, which is a good thing,” he said. “We hope to start interviewing a few candidates soon. We want to move it along and get the best person.”

Branum added that he hopes to have a new coach hired by the end of June.

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Pair busted on gambling charges

Two people turned themselves in to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday on warrants related to a possible gambling operation at the Navigator Truck Stop in Alvord.

Dawood Kohistani, 51, of Dallas and Arian Yusufzai, 36, of Frisco were booked into the Wise County Jail for charges of possession of a gambling device, keeping a gambling place (both Class A misdemeanors) and possession of a controlled substance (a Class B misdemeanor).

Both men were released after posting a $6,000 bond.

Sheriff’s investigators seized 14 gaming devices and nearly $5,700 in cash believed to be tied to a gambling operation after executing a search warrant on the truck stop May 7.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said during the search of the truck stop, officers also found K2, a synthetic form of marijuana, at the store.

“They had K2 under the counter,” Walker said. “You had to know they had it and ask for it.”

K2 was added to the list of controlled substances banned by the state in 2011.

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Alvord School Board tables committee plan, hires principal

After swearing in two new members and electing officers, the Alvord school board spent about 45 minutes Thursday night discussing selection committees for hiring new faculty members and principals.

Then they tabled the items.

Then they hired a new middle school principal.

The committee recommendation, brought up by new board president Vic Czerniak, was for committees to screen applicants and make recommendations to the principal – operating “independent of management.”

“Each principal must approve each teacher or staff appointment to the campus,” he said. “Upon the final decision of the committee a signed recommendation will be forwarded to the superintendent for recommendation to the board of trustees.”

Board member Larry Nivens asked what was the purpose of the item.

“For the committees to be able to operate independent of anybody that doesn’t have anything to do with that committee,” Czerniak said.

Kevin Wood, another board member, asked if the principal still had the ability to choose who they want.

“No,” Czerniak said. “They approve the recommendations.”

Wood said such a requirement would be illegal. Czerniak disagreed, and the two had a brief, terse exchange with Czerniak citing the Texas Education Code and Wood citing local policy.

“You cannot bind those principals to what a committee wants,” Wood said. “That principal has sole authority to recommend, at their discretion, the employees of that campus. They are held responsible for what goes on at that campus.”

Ultimately, Czerniak agreed. After other members weighed in on the issue, the board turned to elementary principal Bridget Williams and high school principal Rhett King, asking about their procedures for screening applicants during the hiring process.

Williams and King both use committees – but each cited cases in which the recommended rules might conflict with current practice.

Williams uses counselors and aides on those committees from time to time, and King noted he has several teachers who work on more than one campus and likes to have all the campuses involved represented on the committee. Both of those practices would be prohibited under the proposed policy.

Board member John Schedcik said the goal of the proposal was not to remove principals from the loop or tie their hands, but to “fine-tune” the current system.

“I don’t think there’s a big difference from what’s going on now,” he said. “This is just putting it on paper so we all kind of know where we’re at.”

Wood suggested tabling the proposal until principals have a chance to go over it – noting the current system seems to be working.

Board member Jimmy Looney agreed.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Look at our staff over here. We’re one of the highest-rated schools in the state of Texas. Leave it alone.”

Czerniak went along with the idea to table it so that the principals can go over it. He also moved to table a separate proposal for principals selection committees.

The board also tabled a motion to “update superintendent evaluation forms to current standards” until they can hold a workshop.


After a closed session, the board re-opened and voted unanimously to hire Michael Wayne Thurman as the new Alvord Middle School principal.

Thurman earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma State University in 1993 and completed a master’s in educational administration at Tarleton State University in 2005.

He worked as a coach and teacher in the Norman, Okla., public schools 1993-99, then took a job in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD north of Fort Worth. He started there as a coach and teacher, then was named assistant principal at Creekview Middle School in 2004 – the position he is leaving to join Alvord ISD.

He replaces Janis Branum, who is retiring.


Dealing with a lengthy agenda, the board also:

  • authorized a public auction of two properties that had been struck off of the tax roll after being seized for back taxes;
  • moved the Walker Scholarship CD from Citi-bank – which is closing its Wise County branch – to Legend Bank;
  • changed out signatures on several accounts to reflect the board’s new membership;
  • approved a $189,543 bid to repair the roof over the original portion of the high school;
  • approved expenditures of $94,125 for a new special-needs bus with a lift, and $96,589 for a new 77-passenger bus;
  • approved a software contract with Region 11 Education Service Center for business software;
  • heard reports from each campus as well as a pitch from AHS teacher Sharon Sackett for a greenhouse.

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Landry Elizabeth Day

Kiefer and Kelsie Day of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Landry Elizabeth, on May 21, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Her brother is Wyatt James, 15 months.

Grandparents are Mickie Collins of Decatur, Chris Parker of Alvord and Charles and Cathy Day of Decatur.

Great-grandparents are Carolyn and Nathan Roberts of Springtown, Rose Parker of Alvord, Gary and Linda Day of Ada, Okla., Bob and Wanda Welch of Kentucky, and Janice Calvert of North Richland Hills.

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Collins Elsie-Fayth Jackson

Clay and Chasen Jackson of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Collins Elsie-Fayth, on May 20, 2014 at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long.

Her sister is Caddison, 2.

Grandparents are Larry and Bonnie Foreman of Alvord, Bruce Jackson of Van Horn and Kathy Jackson of Las Cruces.

Great-grandparents are Charles Brown and Bill and Virginia Foreman, all of Alvord.

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Hildey Adelle McEachern

David and Jesica McEachera of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Hildey Adelle, on May 19, 2014 at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long.

Her sister is Kinsley Jade, 2 1/2.

Grandparents are Jimmy and Nancy McEachern of Sunset and Doug and Cari Starosla of Granbury.

Great-grandparents are Barbara McEachern of Bedford, Jan Ebert of Arlington, and Hilda Graham of Euless.

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Alvord ISD board to welcome new members

After an election which saw one incumbent unseated and a vacant seat filled, the Alvord ISD board of trustees will swear in two new members Thursday evening.

Charlie Matthews defeated Jeannette Ward, who has held place 7 for two terms, and will take her seat on the board.

Lance Thweatt won a three-person race to fill place 6, vacated by Randy Hamilton last June.

After administering the oath, the board will reorganize and elect officers.

Principals will report, and Superintendent Bill Branum will update the board on the district’s investments and plans to build a greenhouse to be used in science classes.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • roof work at the high school, to be done with committed fund balance;
  • a contract with the Education Service Center for 2014-15;
  • purchase of two school buses, also with committed balance;
  • naming selection committees for faculty and principals;
  • authorizing a public auction for properties that have been struck off the tax rolls; and
  • moving the Walker Scholarship fund from CitiBank to Legend Bank;
  • updating the superintendent evaluation form;
  • changes in authorized signers for various bank accounts;
  • an executive session to discuss the vacancy at middle school principal.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the administration building at 100 Mosley Lane. It is open to the public.

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Students named to TWU Honor Roll

Several Wise County students made the Dean’s List during the fall 2013 semester at Texas Woman’s University. Those that also made the Chancellor’s List with a 4.0 grade point average are denoted with an (*).

Vanessa Alberts, sociology
Jordann Warren, nursing

Taylor Anderson, interdisciplinary studies
Michaela Calvert, dental hygiene
Kristina West*, nursing

Rebecca Grinnell, business administration
Angelica Reyes*, dental hygiene
Kristie Sandoval, interdisciplinary studies
Domenica Santoyo, social work
Erika Santoyo, social work

Kari Gage*, interdisciplinary studies
Megan Maxwell*, business administration
Rachel McGregor*, interdisciplinary studies
Mary Kathryn Olson, English
Steve Salinas, psychology
Kitara Wright, communication sciences

Taylor Blount, nutrition
Sarah Buell, undeclared
Saira Fernandez, undeclared

Bettina Davis, dance
Shiloh Hofacket, human resources
Natalie Klasek, psychology

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Reaford Wayne McDaniel

Reaford Wayne McDaniel

Reaford Wayne McDaniel, 75, died Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at his home in Alvord.

A private burial was held at Jim Ned Cemetery in Runaway Bay.

Reaford was born June 28, 1938, in Wise County to Reaford C. and Edith (Lawson) McDaniel. A graduate of Alvord High School, he was a heavy equipment operator and rancher. He was a former member of the Bowie Saddle Riding Club and enjoyed hunting, fishing and being around kids.

He is survived by his son, Andy Justice of Baytown; daughters Christine Hunt of Bridgeport, and Lori Painter; brothers Winford McDaniel of Chico, Harold McDaniel of Crafton and Corky McDaniel of Bridgeport; sisters Marie Cox of Bowie, Louise Throckmorton of Bowie, Lois Hunter of Chico and Joann Parker of Crafton; grandchildren Laramie and Rhett Justice, Cash Hunt, and Meredith Butler; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

Reaford was preceded in death by his parents, brother Larkin McDaniel, and sister Joyce Mathews.

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Delylah Rayne Dyer

Felicia Haynes and James Dyer of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Delylah Rayne Dyer, on May 11, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 10 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long.

She has one brother: Ashton Haynes, 3; and one sister: Lillyth Haynes, 5.

Grandparents are Victor and Patience Guinn of Decatur.

Great-grandmother is Felicity Spray.

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Charles Walker Scott Slaten

Carter and Jody Slaten of Alvord announce the birth of a son, Charles Walker Scott, on May 8, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long.

He has one sister: Katie, 10.

Grandparents are John Gibbon and Harriet Gibbon, both of Decatur, Dwayne and Lucy Slaten of Lake Bridgeport and Rex and Cyndy Grove of Alvord.

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Sophia Jade Huggins

Morgan White and Austin Huggins of Alvord announce the birth of a daughter, Sophia Jade Huggins, on April 30, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 inches long.

Grandparents are Jim and Terri Brown of Conroe, Jimmy White of Decatur, Donald Bice and Teresa Bice of Decatur.

Great-grandparents are Katherine and Vincent Costilla and Robert and Sue Grantham.

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Challengers win big in school trustee election

Voters on both sides of the Alvord school board race stuck together as they elected two new trustees Saturday.

Charlie Matthews defeated incumbent Jeannette Ward by a 400-151 margin for place 7.

Alvord Voter Turnout

In a three-person race for place 6, Lance Thweatt garnered 396 votes to 152 for Tracy Barclay Parker. A third candidate, Lex Williams, unofficially withdrew from the race and threw his support to Thweatt.

Three voters didn’t get the memo, or Thweatt’s margin of victory would have been a single vote different from Matthews’.

Matthews said the message from voters was clear.

“The school district is tired of the turmoil,” he said. “My agenda would be to get that calmed down. If the school board is not together, the school’s not together. We just need to work on teamwork and get the school board together.”

Ward, who served two terms on the board, was philosophical after the votes were counted.

“It’s obvious the voters wanted a change,” she said. “I hope this produces the change they want.”

She noted that when she won her first term, six years ago, it was because of the same feeling.

“I have to respect the fact that they wanted change,” she said. “When I ran the first time, that’s how I got in. I hope they get back on track, come together and bring the community together.”

Thweatt said the margin of victory surprised him.

“It does give you a lot of confidence going in there,” he said. “People wanted some new ideas, new faces on the school board.”

The vast majority of voters cast their ballots early. Thweatt and Matthews both got exactly 308 early votes, while Ward got 117 and Parker got 115.

Thweatt defeated Parker 81-23 on election day, and Matthews outpolled Ward 84-21. On the absentee ballots that were mailed in, Parker won 14-7 and Ward won 13-8.

The turnout was somewhat higher than in past elections, as the community and school board have been embroiled in a battle recently over the contract of head football coach Curtis Enis.

In their last meeting prior to the election – the fifth meeting in just over a month – the board voted unanimously to renew Enis’ contract as head football coach but to relieve him of the duties of athletic director – putting that task on Superintendent Bill Branum.

Enis got a one-year contract to coach football and may be assigned other duties as needed, Branum said.

Three board members – Ward, board president Larry Nivens and board secretary Kevin Wood – had opposed action by trustees Jim Looney, John Schedcik, Vic Czerniak and Randy Hamilton to non-renew Enis’ contract.

Those efforts sparked a petition drive and drew crowds to the normally sparsely-attended meetings. They also prompted several lengthy closed-door sessions as trustees wrestled with the legalities of teachers’ contracts and the rights and responsibilities of board members.

Adding further interest was the fact that Hamilton, who resigned from the board last June, came back in April and once again took part as a voting member of the board. That was after trustees discovered a little-known clause in the Texas Constitution that stipulates an elected official still holds office until a replacement is appointed or elected.

Hamilton’s return broke the 3-3 deadlock on the board, but he was not a candidate for his old seat, which went to Thweatt.

Thweatt said he hopes the controveries are over.

“The main thing is to just try and get all that behind us and get everybody going in the same direction,” he said. “The thing with Curtis is behind us, the election is behind us – it’s time to get everybody working together, going in the right direction.”

Matthews said the focus needs to be on the classroom.

“I know there’s a lot of different ideas about things that need to be done,” he said. “My goal is just to get our kids a good education and take care of them. That’s the priority.”

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Board to meet Wednesday and canvass votes

The Alvord school board will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to canvass votes from Saturday’s election.

Two new members were elected to the board. Lance Thweatt won place 6, vacated by the resignation of Randy Hamilton last June, and Charles Neal Matthews was elected to place 7, unseating incumbent Jeannette Ward.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held at the Alvord ISD administration building, 100 Mosley Lane. It is open to the public.

The new members will be sworn in at the next regularly-scheduled meeting May 22.

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Williams steps up to top spot

Alvord’s Savannah Williams waited patiently through the first 600 meters Friday evening at Mike Myers Stadium.

Then just before the final straightaway, the Alvord junior sprinted to the front on her way to the gold medal in the Class 2A 800.

Finishing First

FINISHING FIRST – Alvord’s Savannah Williams won the Class 2A 800 Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“My strategy the whole time was to stay behind first and kick at the 150,” Williams said. “I did what I meant to do.”

Williams won the state title in 2:15.91, setting the school record.

“I got my goal and got the record. It’s just one big package,” Williams said.

From the starting gun, Williams settled into second place. She stayed there through the first lap, turning at 63.

“It was the best pace I’ve ever done, and it felt good. It was nice to get out there and be able to sprint the whole thing,” Williams said.

Entering the final corner, Williams made her push. She soon realized that Rogers’ Erin Williams and Blanco’s Meaghan Seales were not going to challenge her.

“At the 150 when I started kicking and she didn’t kick with me, I knew I got this,” Williams said.

Erin Williams took second in 2:17.51. Seales was third in 2:17.97.

The medal was Williams’ second straight in Austin. She finished second last year at state. She liked the gold much better.

“This is my goal. I’m so happy. This is exactly what I wanted,” Williams said.

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Law busts suspected gambling operation

Law busts suspected gambling operation

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has seized gaming machines from an Alvord truck stop, claiming the owner was running an illegal gambling operation.

Game Over

GAME OVER – Officers load up one of 14 gaming machines seized Wednesday at the Navigator Truck Stop in Alvord. Investigators believe the machines were being used for an illegal gambling operation. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said investigators obtained a search warrant on Wednesday afternoon and confiscated 14 machines at the Navigator Truck Stop on the south side of Alvord on U.S. 81/287. They also seized around $5,700 in cash they believe is tied to the illegal gambling operation.

Walker said investigators are working with County Attorney James Stainton to determine if charges will be filed. He said the owners could face Class A misdemeanor charges of keeping a gambling place and possession of a gambling device, equipment or paraphernalia.

According to the search warrant affidavit written by Sgt. Chad Lanier, he visited the truck stop on the afternoon of April 30 after he had twice previously warned the owner, 36-year-old Arian Yusufzai, that gambling was illegal in Texas.

Lanier said he knocked on one door inside the building and was told to go to the next door. Lanier knocked on the second door and a woman opened it. But before he could enter the room with the gaming machines, Lanier saw Yusufzai open another door to the room and tell people to hurry and leave.

Yusufzai was issued another warning to turn off the machines or face criminal charges.

An hour later, Lanier and other investigators went back to the truck stop to see if Yusufzai was in compliance. They once again witnessed customers playing on the machines and saw the owner once again try to warn customers about the officers. Two customers were issued a citation for gambling, a Class C misdemeanor.

According to the affidavit, Lanier said Yusufzai asked him, “Is there anything I can do to keep the gambling going? It makes me a lot of money, and I won’t be able to keep the store open without the gambling.”

Investigators returned to the truck stop on Monday and once again found customers playing the machines. Three people were issued citations for gambling.

On Wednesday morning, Lanier sent an undercover officer to the truck stop to gamble and get paid in cash. Once he had received a credit of $15, he cashed out by receiving money from the store clerk. The officer went back Wednesday afternoon and used a marked $5 bill to play the machine. He once again cashed out at $15.

A few hours later, after the search warrant had been obtained, officers returned to load the machines onto a flatbed trailer.

As of Friday afternoon, no charges had been filed or arrests had been made in the case.

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USAO takes Hart

After two years of directing the Alvord Lady Bulldogs as the team’s floor general, Lauren Hart is heading north to continue her basketball career.

Tuesday, Hart signed her letter of intent to play at the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma in Chickasha.

Making It Official

MAKING IT OFFICIAL – Alvord’s Lauren Hart signs her letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma in Chickasha. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

“They called me, and I went up for a visit and loved the school,” Hart said. “I really wanted to play, and I’m excited to get another chance.”

As a senior, Hart guided Alvord to the third round of the playoffs and earned 9-2A and All-Wise County Defensive Player of the Year honors. She averaged 9.74 points, 4.26 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.23 steals.

USAO assistant coach Leandra Johnson said Hart’s defense was a major reason they pursued her.

“We got her info from another coach that had seen her. We got a film and liked the way she played,” Johnson said. “She’s going to progress and help us out.

“As the assistant, I gravitate to defense. She is a very good defensive player.”

Moving on to the next level, Hart anticipates a need to get in the weight room.

“I have to get stronger,” she said. “I also need to improve my ball-handling and shooting. Everything will need to improve for the next level.”

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