Lions and tigers and llamas, oh my! New ‘family’ members await visitors at CARE Fall Festival

Lions and tigers and llamas, oh my! New ‘family’ members await visitors at CARE Fall Festival

The CARE family is having an open house, of sorts, at their Bridgeport home the next two weekends.

It promises to be a wild time.

Where else are you going to find a three-legged llama who thinks she’s a mom to a couple of five-month-old lion cubs?

IF I ONLY HAD A MANE – Dahlia the llama and lion cub brothers Araali and Zuberi check out a scarecrow and pumpkins decorating this year’s Fall Festival at the Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) in Bridgeport. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE) is putting on its fourth annual CARE Fall Festival Nov. 8, 9, 15 and 16. Tours will be given at noon and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. on Sundays. The facility is located at 245 CR 3422 south of Bridgeport.

The animal “family” consists of 41 big cats including tigers, lions, leopards, cougars and snow leopards; eight lemurs; a coatimundi and, of course, Dahlia the llama, who has taken quite the interest in two of CARE’s newest family members – lion cubs Araali and Zuberi.

Both the llama momma and her lion cub “sons” have interesting stories.

A month-old Dahlia arrived at CARE in March of this year with a badly broken leg. After examining all the options with Bridgeport veterinarian Bill McGee, her caregivers decided it would be best to amputate the leg.

Heidi Krahn, executive director of CARE, said Dahlia stayed with her during the recovery and found herself right at home.

“She lived in the house for quite a while after having her leg amputated,” Krahn said. “She still comes in the house sometimes. She’s completely potty trained. She comes in the house every single morning for her bottle. When it’s raining really hard, she’ll come in the house and lie in front of the fireplace.”

Meanwhile, the lion cubs’ parents were about to give the CARE staff a surprise. On June 6, 2 1/2-year-old lion Noel gave birth to three cubs. Her “roommate,” Mwali, was an even younger lion.

“The male (Mwali) was less than 2 years old, which is like impossible,” Krahn said. “… We planned a vasectomy this fall. The earliest that I know of, and I even called all over Africa, was 3 1/2 years old. He was less than 2,” when he got Noel pregnant.

“They don’t even get a full mane until they’re 5. He’s got a full mane at 2 years old,” she added.

Two of the three cubs have survived. Their brother, Jelani, died Oct. 1, from a congenital heart defect.

The cubs have spent their young lives in an enclosure complete with a tree house and playground next to Krahn’s house at the facility. When the cubs come out to play, Dahlia is right there to watch over them and, in some cases, join in the fun.

Krahn plans to demonstrate one of those fun activities known as the “magic carpet ride” at the Fall Festival. She will pull a blanket, and the cubs will jump on for a ride. Dahlia likes to join in as well, even though she’s gone from around 20 pounds to close to 100 pounds now.

“She just knows she is the mom of those babies. That’s her job,” Krahn said.

The young lions and the llama won’t be the only new things at his year’s Fall Festival. A gift shop has been added, featuring a variety of big cat-themed items. Because the weather is expected to be cooler this year, hot chocolate and cider will be served, and cookies and fruit will replace candy as treats.

The big cats will also be treated to a fun new game this year: bobbing for pumpkins.

“I’m so excited about that because I know a couple of cats who are going to go crazy,” Kahn said.

The public also has new options of helping support the animals at CARE. Multiple adoptions will be available for new cats that come open for adoption.

Of course, many of the favorite activities will return, including the big cats playing with pumpkins and having specially made presents filled with treats tossed to them. Adults can see how they fare in a tug-of-war match with a tiger or feed the cats chicken treats.

The event will also feature games, face painting, prizes, arts and crafts and treats. Prizes will be given to raffle winners. Raffle tickets are $5 each.

Admission is a donation of $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12. This is the only time of the year that children under 7 are allowed to visit the facility.

For more information on CARE or the Fall Festival, visit

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Bridgeport City Council approves two Tahoes for police department

The Bridgeport City Council’s election night meeting had only one action item on its agenda, and it was all about police equipment.

The council voted 5-0 to approve a lease-purchase agreement between the Bridgeport PD and Government Capital Corp. for two police vehicles and their emergency equipment.

The vehicles, both Chevrolet Tahoes, and all necessary safety equipment will be financed through GCC at an interest rate of 3.983 percent, with payments of $19,449.17 every year for four years.

Other discussions turned to trash pickup and street repairs and maintenance within the city limits. Director of Transportation/Services Gary Barnett presented both discussions, which did not result in any action and were only on the agenda for informational purposes.

The trash pickup schedule for the city is as follows:

  • Monday and Tuesday – west side
  • Tuesday and Wednesday – portion of the city south of Cates Street
  • Wednesday and Thursday – portion of the city north of Cates Street and east of 16th Street
  • Thursday and Friday – portion of the city north of Cates Street and west of 16th Street

As for street repairs in the city, Barnett said the Street Department is operating less one person because of a workplace injury.

Following the workshop discussions, the council met in closed session to discuss the sale of the Rutherford Ranch property. No action was taken.

The council’s next meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

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Baja St. Mexican Grill

Location: 1113 Halsell St., Bridgeport

Phone: 940-683-4440

Owner: Alma and Heriberto Ramirez

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Products/services: Mexican food

Ribbon Cutting

RIBBON CUTTING – Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting Nov. 4 at Baja St. Mexican Grill. Pictured are owners Alma and Heriberto Ramirez. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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Football: Bulls leave Warriors black and blue

The Bridgeport Bulls (7-3, 4-1) ended district play leaving the Bonham Warriors (0-10, 0-5) bruised 48-7 Friday.

The Bulls had already secured second place in district and will head to the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The Warriors’ season is over with nothing in the win column.

The Bulls didn’t let up, scoring six unanswered touchdowns in the first three quarters of play. In the fourth, Bonham was finally able to get on the board with a lone touchdown, but not without Bridgeport crossing the paint again to end the night up by 41 points.

Bridgeport’s series of victories during 2014 mark a major turnaround and return to post season play after a hapless 2013 season.

Ending district play on a high note, the Bulls’ Trey Cook led Bridgeport in passing for the night with 11 completions on 22 attempts for a total of 103 yards. Keenan Holdman led the Bulls in receiving, catching four for 94 yards.

The Bulls more than doubled the Warriors’ total yards with 390 to 174.


Bonham … 0 … 0 … 0 … … 7 – 7
Bridgeport … 14 … 14 … 13 … … 7 – 48


First Downs … 9 … 14
Rush Att-Yards … 23-71 … 35-241
Passing Yards … 103 … 149
Total Yards … 174 … 390
Comp-Att-Int … 11-22-2 … 9-15-0
Total Yards … 174 … 390
Penalties … 2-10 … 5-45


Passing: Bridgeport – Trey Cook 9-13-2 for 149; Bonham – Copeland 11-22-103-1.

Rushing: Bridgeport – Alexander 17-34; Bonham -Wilson 6-51.

Receiving: Bridgeport – Holdman 4-94; Bonham -Prock 6-64.

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Leo Alexander Whitcomb

Cecilia Gonzalez and Mac Whitcomb of Bridgeport announce the birth of their second son, Leo Alexander Whitcomb, on Nov. 3, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

He has one brother, Abel, 2.

Grandparents are Sonia and Shawn Herrera and Patty and Shane Howard.

Great-grandparents are Mary and Paul Howard and Maria Pereles.

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Evelyn Grace Carter

Anthony and Heidi Carter of Bridgeport announce the birth of a daughter, Evelyn Grace Carter, on Sept. 24, 2014, at Baylor All Saints in Fort Worth.

She weighed 7 pounds and was 19 1/4 inches long.

Grandparents are Billy and Shelly Edwards of Bridgeport, and Stanley and Tyra Carter of Jacksboro.

Great-grandparents are Doyle and June Patterson of Paradise, William and Kathy Edwards of Pittsburg, Gene Anastas- Weatherford, and Bill and Mary Lou Carter of Mineral Wells.

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Football: Bulls look to close out district play with win in Bonham

District play concludes for Bridgeport (6-3, 3-1) Friday night in Bonham (0-9, 0-4) when the Bulls take on the Warriors.

“As far as standings go, we’ve got our second-place finish spot in the district, so we just need to keep our focus and play well,” Bridgeport head coach Danny Henson said.

EYES ON THE PRIZE – Bridgeport’s Seth Keener plays defense on a pass during the Bulls’ win over Anna. Bridgeport will try to lock up second place in the district Friday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Bulls travel to Bonham after beating Anna 46-13 on Halloween last weekend, aided by a rushing onslaught that covered 348 yards. Running back Grayson Mathes, who scored the first touchdown of the night for the Bulls, might not play this week after spraining his knee early in the game against Anna.

“He’s questionable right now, but we’re treating it and seeing how he’s doing,” Henson said.

Bonham is looking for its first and only shot at a win Friday night after being defeated 56-3 by Krum last week. Backup QB Kyle Copeland had to take over under center, with the lone score coming from a 22-yard field goal kick.

Henson said he and the rest of the team recognizes that Bonham has nothing to lose coming into this game, but the main focus is on ending the season with another win.

“We’re just trying to end the season on a high note,” Henson said.

BRIDGEPORT (6-3, 3-1) AT BONHAM (0-9, 0-4)

7:30 p.m. at Warrior Stadium

Bridgeport: Harris Rating 205

Notable: The Bulls have already secured their 2nd place spot for their district, a far cry from their 0-10 season last year.

Bonham: Harris Rating 183

Notable: This home game will be the last chance at a win for the Warriors.

Harris line: Bridgeport by 24

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Common sense working in Colo.

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis said, “Since Coloradans overwhelmingly approved our marijuana legalization law in 2012, initial indicators have been very encouraging. Millions of dollars are no longer being spent to criminalize thousands of citizens. Instead, the state is adding millions of dollars to its coffers, primarily to fund public school construction and drug prevention programs for young people.

“Violent crime is down in Denver. Fatal car crashes are in decline statewide. Marijuana arrests that mostly hindered low-income people and young men of color are no longer creating obstacles for employment, housing and education. In fact, the state legislature is considering reforms that would apply retroactively to people currently incarcerated for activity that’s now legal.”

When will the taxpayers and citizens in Wise County and Texas allow common sense back in to our laws and enforcement? All over the world and in many states here at home, reality and common sense are now the cornerstones of their laws. When will we receive the same justice?

Addiction is a terrible thing, not only for the small number who let their personal choices get the better of them, but also those addicted to the power, money, job security, freedom from accountability and loot from illegal forfeitures!

When – not if – justice does come to Wise County, who will be able to claim they have not been a party to the needless harm that has been going on for years? “Just doing my job” is not going to make up for the families that have been destroyed. “Just following the judge’s orders” while sitting on a jury will not help either.

Being a willing party to forcing people to take one-sided plea agreements has left a documented trail for all to see. No matter how well-meaning, there’s no way to justify the needless and unwarranted harm that has been and is being done. One day reality and truth are going to put the blame and shame on those who deserve it.

The longer we allow this injustice to carry on, the longer the list of those needlessly harmed will be.

There has to be a better way. Help us find it.

Rusty White

Posted in Letters to the Editor1 Comment

Etta Elizabeth Love

Etta Elizabeth Love, 91, of Bridgeport. died Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Paradise Cemetery with Brother Jim Taylor officiating.

Etta was born Nov. 14, 1922, in Idabel, Okla., to Pernie Jane (Gray) and Benjamin Franklin Swaffar. She was a member of the Assembly of God Church in Bridgeport.

Etta was a farmer’s wife and seamstress who loved to make clothes.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 44 years, Raymond Lee Love; and beloved brothers Elmer and Russell Lee “Red” Swaffar.

She is survived by daughter Teresa Moody and husband, Mark, of Paradise; grandchildren Joshua Moody of Anaheim, Calif., Matthew Moody of Carterville, Mo., and Bethany Moody of Dallas; best friend Wanda Evans of Bridgeport; and numerous nieces and nephews.

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Football: Bulls wile Coyotes

The Bridgeport Bulls (6-3, 3-1) utilized a strong running game and a strong defense to win their last home game of the season against the Anna Coyotes (2-7, 1-3) Friday night, 46-13.

Cooking Up a Score

COOKING UP A SCORE- Bridgeport QB Trey Cook crosses into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown run against the Anna Coyotes Friday night. This run was one of six rushing touchdowns the Bulls would score. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The team put up 348 yards on the ground, led by Brazier Talley’s three touchdowns and 223 yards. It would take Anna an entire quarter to put points on the board, scoring on a buzzer-beating 28-yard run from Daunte Rose. That would be the Coyotes’ only offensive touchdown all game.

The Bulls’ defense kept the Coyotes to an entire game of three-and-outs, all while the Bulls offense kept marching down the field, scoring mostly on the ground. Their only touchdown reception of the game was a 45-yard Trey Cook connection to Raby Hawkins midway through the third quarter that put Bridgeport up 33-7.

By the time the Coyotes scored their second and final touchdown on a 45-yard fumble return from Calvin Mosely to start the fourth quarter, it was too late. The score was still 39-13, and the Bulls defense would go on to hold Anna to just 174 yards.

Daunte Rose was the offensive backbone for the Coyotes, running for 106 yards on 22 carries.

“It’s a great feeling,” Bridgeport head coach Danny Henson said of the win. “It’s always great for these seniors to win at home. We’ve improved so much from the start of the season, but I think we’ve always played hard, no matter if we’ve won or not. Those three games we’ve lost, I never doubted how hard these guys played.”

Outrunning the Coyotes

OUTRUNNING THE COYOTES- Raby Hawkins evades an Anna defender Friday night. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford


Bridgeport … 19 … 7 … 13 … 7 … – … 46
Anna … 7 … 0 … 0 … 6 … – … 13


Bridgeport – 10:44, Grayson Mathes 4 run, Efrain DeLuna kick

Bridgeport – 9:07, Brazier Talley 73 run, Kick no good

Bridgeport – 4:31, Talley 21 run, kick no good

Anna – 0:00, Daunte Rose 28 run, Kaleb Loftin kick


Bridgeport – 2:55, Trey Cook 10 run, DeLuna kick


Bridgeport – 7:47, Hawkins 45 pass from Cook, DeLuna kick

Bridgeport – 1:50, Talley 34 run, Kick no good


Anna – 11:49, Calvin Mosely 45 run, kick no good

Bridgeport – 2:35, Eathan Anderson 2 run, DeLuna kick


First Downs … 19 … 5
Rushes-Yards … 36-348 … 45-152
Passing Yards … 230 … 22
Total Yards … 578 … 174
Comp-Att-Int … 22-18-1 … 5-14-0
Fumbles-Lost … 2-1 … 0-0
Penalties-Yards … 5-16 … 4-30


Rushing: Bridgeport, Brazier Talley, 22-223; Anna, Daunte Rose, 22-106.

Passing: Bridgeport, Trey Cook 18-23-1-183; Anna, Gage Scribner, 5-14-0-22.

Receiving: Bridgeport, Keenan Holdman 6-57, Raby Hawkins 2-49; Anna, Eric Jackson 3-12.

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Volleyball: Castleberry hands Sisses loss in district finale

The Bridgeport Sissies fell in their season finale Tuesday against Castleberry in three games.

Castleberry won 25-22, 25-4, 25-11.

Bridgeport’s season ends at 5-27 and 0-8 in District 8-4A.

Jessica White put down five kills for the Sissies. Kendall Scott added four. Taylor Jamieson finished with three.

Ryhan Read handed out six assists. Nikkie Barbour recorded five, and Scott four.

Scott also served a pair of aces.

Defensively, Mariah Leyva made 10 digs. Read and Jamieson finished with five digs each.

Jessica White blocked three shots, and Sadie White two.

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From Brazil to Bridgeport

Sao Paulo, Brazil is a long way from Bridgeport, Texas – but Bridgeport High School exchange student Raquel Vale says she is right at home in the Lone Star State.

The 17-year-old Brazilian student came to Bridgeport in August as a part of the high school’s foreign exchange program, where she stays with Principal Jaime Sturdivant, Sturdivant’s husband, Steve, and daughter Megan.

Right At Home

RIGHT AT HOME- Raquel Vale, holding the jersey, poses with her host family, (from left) Bridgeport High school Principal Jaime Sturdivant, her daughter Megan Sturdivant and husband Steve Sturdivant, who also teaches at the high school. “We watched the World Cup a lot to learn about where Raquel was from,” Jaime said. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“There’s been a lot of differences, but it’s been fun,” Raquel said of her stay in America so far.

Raquel will stay with the Sturdivants for the entire school year, and will then return to Brazil to graduate from high school in Sao Paulo.

“One of the stipulations of the program is that she can’t go home during the entire year because they believe that will hinder her experience,” Sturdivant said.

Sturdivant was first approached to host an exchange student two years ago, but passed because that was the year her son Jared started college at the Air Force Academy.

“But, they kept calling, and last spring, we started the process and selected our student.”

Studying is the Same Everywhere

STUDYING IS THE SAME EVERYWHERE- Megan Sturdivant and Raquel Vale go over notes for class. “In Brazil, we have 11 classes, so the workload is heavier,” Raquel said. “There’s not as much emphasis on sports at my school.” Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Raquel hit the ground running, she said. Her first day in Texas was spent shopping at Target (she had never been to one before), trying Mexican food and exploring the Fort Worth Stockyards. The next day, she started two-a-days for volleyball.

“We don’t focus that much on sports in Brazil,” Raquel said. “We mostly just study, so all that enthusiasm took some getting used to. But it’s nice how everyone just teams up and supports each other.”

Sturdivant said the biggest thing she’s taken away from hosting Raquel is that teenagers are the same no matter where they’re from.

“We got to communicate with Raquel through Facebook and Skype for a while, and her and Megan were in constant contact before she got here,” she said. “Megan had planned out concerts they wanted to attend, and they like so much of the same stuff, and that’s been an interesting thing to realize that all teenagers have the same interests.”

“And the same problems,” Raquel added.

Megan, also a junior, said having Raquel around helps her focus more on her own schooling.

“She’s really smart, so she goes home and does her homework, so it makes me think, ‘Oh, I should do my homework too,’ and it pushed me to do better,” Megan said.

Raquel said the biggest differences she’s seen so far are how spread out Bridgeport is compared to Sao Paulo, and how busy American culture is compared to Brazilian culture.

“The driving age in Brazil is 18, so it’s weird to see people younger than me behind the wheel, but I get why they have to drive – walking everywhere is hard to do here,” she said. “And the pace is so quick. Sao Paolo is the fastest-paced place in Brazil, and it’s still way more laid-back than America.”

Sao Paulo, with a population of more that 11 million people in 588 square miles, is the largest city in Brazil – quite the opposite of the stereotype of South America many Americans have.

“When I first got on the volleyball team, they were wondering if I was going to be taller or darker-skinned,” Raquel said. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that we’re all from the Amazon or something. We have public transportation and huge buildings.”

Sturdivant added that hosting Raquel wasn’t just a great experience for her family, but beneficial to other high school students, too.

“It’s a great way for the students to learn about other countries as well, and kind of break down those stereotypes, so the kids have been very accepting of her,” Sturdivant said.

Raquel, while away from home, keeps in touch with her family through Skype and Facebook and said the thing she misses the most about Brazil is her friends and family. But she’s enjoying her stay in Bridgeport.

“I like all the different foods, like Whataburger and Mexican food,” she said. “And I’ve started to finally understand football. At first I was confused, but now I know most of the rules.”

And the Sturdivants enjoy hosting Raquel. Sturdivant said they don’t know if they would host a student again, but they would be open to it since this has been such a great experience.

“We just really lucked out and we got a great exchange student that we treat like one of our own. I really do consider her a part of the family now.

“Hopefully we can keep in contact for a long time.”

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Problem Solvers take on identity theft

According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, more than 25,000 Texans every year say they are victims of identity theft.

This year, the Bridgeport Middle School Problem Solvers group hopes to reduce that number in Wise County.

The group won third place in the middle division of the civic/cultural category at the Future Problem Solving Program International Conference in Ames, Iowa last summer, and is already hard at work on their next project.

With 25 6-8th graders taught by Paula Shepherd, the team is seeking to educate the county about identity theft, and how citizens can eliminate their risk by shredding important documents like bank statements or credit card bills.

Called Team WISE (Wise County Identity Safety Education), the group wants to set up a “Shred day” in the county to let people come and safely get rid of all of the important documents they no longer need.

“We know we won’t be able to stop all identity theft, but we can offer a service to let people know they can choose to shred their stuff, if they want,” said Emily Casper, a student in the program.

The project involves students being on one of eight committees: Scrapbook, Photography, Public Relations, Fundraising, Research, Reporters, Inspectors and Supervisors. All will work together to help put the finished project together in February.

The group is already starting to examine ways to implement their goal.

“One way we want to figure it out is if it is measurable – we were thinking about measuring it by counting how much paper was shredded and recycled, and see if we could go from there,” student Kirby Russell said.

“We’re also going to start working with the police so they don’t have to do as much work with combating identity theft,” student Zach Eubanks said.

For many of the Problem Solving students, the project is an opportunity to learn more than they can get in the average classroom.

“It helps me be creative and think outside the box – this class is more talking to people, being creative and finding out new ways to solve the problem,” student Jacob Marshall said.

For others, the joy lies in simply finding out a new way to provide a community service.

“I think it’s cool just being able to help out the community,” student Camden Hand said.

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Football: Bulls look to drop anvil on Coyotes

The Bridgeport Bulls (5-3, 2-1) return home for the last time this season on Friday to square off against the Anna Coyotes (2-6, 1-2).

“It’s a little emotional for our seniors, but I think everyone’s excited to play with that kind of intensity, knowing that it’s the last home game,” head coach Danny Henson said.

Charging Ahead

CHARGING AHEAD – Bridgeport’s Keenan Holdman fights through a tackle against Krum. The Bulls play Anna Friday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Bulls have come a long way from where they were this time last year, on the cusp of an 0-10 season, but Henson said he doesn’t want his players thinking about that just yet.

“Hopefully we’re not reflecting on last season too much,” he said. “We’re just trying to focus on the remaining games a week at a time, and then we’ll start reflecting on the season.”

Bridgeport put up 41 points to win against Aubrey last week as Brazier Talley ran for 106 yards and Trey Cook threw for four touchdowns and 182 yards. Their defense held Aubrey to 14 points, and Henson said Anna’s quick offense means the defense will have to step up again.

“[Anna] brings a lot of speed – there’s some skilled kids that are really fast,” Henson said. “Their size isn’t as big as some other teams we’ve faced, but they’re fast. They’re also real good at throwing deep, so our pass defense is going to have to step up a bit.”

Anna junior running back Isaac Armijo boasts 777 yards and five rushing touchdowns on the season, as well as sophomore Daunte Rose, who has 333 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’re just going to have to play the game that we play and do a good job of driving the football down the field,” Henson said.

ANNA (2-6, 1-2) AT BRIDGEPORT (5-3, 2-1)

7:30 p.m. at Bull Memorial Stadium

Anna: Harris Rating 187

Notable: Anna junior running back Isaac Armijo boasts 777 yards and five rushing touchdowns on the season.

Bridgeport: Harris Rating 202

Notable: Brazier Talley ran for 106 yards last week against Aubrey.

Harris line: Bridgeport by 21

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Time for a change in Precinct 4

Wise County’s Precinct 4 has had a tumultuous past few years, especially when it comes to the Precinct 4 commissioner position.

The Terry Ross felony indictment seemed to be the peak of the chaos, but this November will determine if Precinct 4 wants to continue the trend. This November, voters will choose between Gaylord Kennedy, who was working for Ross when Ross was indicted, or Kristina Kemp, who has over a decade of experience in business management, financial accounting, and personnel supervision.

It’s no secret that Kristina Kemp is the first woman to run for the commissioner position in Wise County’s history, but what is pleasantly surprising is how well-received this fact has been by the voters of Precinct 4.

Perhaps it is all of her volunteer work for CASA, the Wise County Animal Shelter, and numerous other organizations that she has been helping. Perhaps it is her quick ability to learn, which, in this situation, is only aided by her experience working with budgets in the tens of millions and her experience in the construction industry.

Regardless of what it is that people find appealing about her candidacy, I hope Precinct 4 will realize the clear choice before them and elect Kristina Kemp as the next county commissioner.

Lena Wells

Editor’s Note: Kristina Kemp is the second woman to run for county commissioner. In 2006, Margaret Penney of Boonsville ran against Terry Ross and Willie Garrett in the Republican primary for the Precinct 4 commissioner post.

Posted in Letters to the Editor0 Comments

Bridgeport city administrator retires after 4 years

Bridgeport City Administrator Brandon Emmons’ retirement announcement may have come as a surprise to those members of the audience who remained, but for Emmons, the career move is right on schedule.

“When I was applying for this job four-and-a-half years ago, the council asked the traditional ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ question,” Emmons said Thursday. “My answer was, ‘I see myself retiring from the city of Bridgeport.’ When I got into municipal government 20 years ago, one of the goals I had for myself was to get to a point in my career where I could step aside and do other things.”

The 44-year-old Emmons announced his retirement following an hour-long closed session at the end of a city council meeting Tuesday night. He said he would take this opportunity to explore some non-profit interests and do consulting work in Waco. Money was also a factor, he said Thursday.

“November is my deadline for full retirement benefits, so the timing was just right for me to step aside and let the new administration take over and try some new challenges.”

One of those challenges involves charity work in Namibia, Africa – a place Emmons visits frequently.

“I really like foreign travel, and normally whenever I go to Africa it’s a week of hunting and a week of working in a village community,” Emmons said. “There’s this orphanage in Outjo I want to spend more time at, use my skills as a city administrator to help them with whatever they need.”

Then, he said, he’d like to come back and work as a consultant.

“I’d like to work with businesses that want to thrive down in Waco,” he said. “They’re all intertwined with governmental services, so they’re looking for someone who has ties with municipal government who can help them.”

Emmons, who began his tenure as Bridgeport’s city administrator in April 2010, said he is proud of what the city has accomplished in the last five years. He would love to stick around to see the new road improvement project completed – but “if you’re using an ongoing project that you’re working on as a reason not to retire, then you’re not going to get to that list. There’s always going to be another project.”

He is most proud of four years of balanced budgets, qualified audits and improved bond ratings from Standard and Poor’s. Standardizing utility billing rates is a huge accomplishment as well.

“It used to be that we would have a lot of human error with counting [water and electric] meters, because people would physically have to drive to every meter in the city and input the numbers manually,” he said. “That resulted in people getting billed for 30 days while their neighbors got billed for 28 days, and it wasn’t standardized at all.”

The city is also on track to receive the state’s “Superior Drinking Water” designation this year.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the time I’ve been here, and I’m extremely proud of all of it, but I hope that by the time they find my replacement, it will be going so smoothly that they’ll be saying ‘Brandon who?'” Emmons said.

The council will meet behind closed doors Tuesday, starting the process to find Emmons’ successor. That could take longer than the three months’ notice Emmons gave.

“I hope they find someone by December, but realistically, it’ll probably be six to eight months before they find anyone,” Emmons said.

A statement released Thursday expressed the city’s gratitude to Emmons for the last four years of service.

“The city of Bridgeport will be forever grateful to Emmons for his years of leadership and dedication, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” the statement said.

For his part, Emmons said he is both nervous and excited to begin this next stage of life.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to retire at a young age and pursue some things I’m passionate about, but I’m nervous and excited at the same time. We’ll see what happens.”

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125 years of Mass in Bridgeport

A Wise County church will celebrate more than a century of services Sunday.

St. John the Baptizer Catholic Church will commemorate its 125th anniversary with a countywide Mass and dinner at 3 p.m. at 1801 Irvin St. in Bridgeport.

Anniversary Celebration

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION – Rosa Villarreal, JoAnn Mann and Margaret Smith stand in the sanctuary while Fr. Thomas Dsouza stands at the altar of St. John the Baptizer Catholic Church in Bridgeport. The four of them will join in the church’s 125th anniversary celebration Sunday at 3 p.m. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The church has seen many changes since it was started in 1889 by coal miners who brought priests from Henrietta to town once a month. Masses were celebrated in people’s homes, since a church wasn’t built yet. The first Mass was at Catherine Conner’s house.

Conner’s great-granddaughter, Margaret Smith, still attends St. John’s today.

“The altar cloth that’s hanging up in the back of the fellowship hall now was the same one used at that Mass, and I still have the chalice that they used, too,” Smith said.

Smith has been attending St. John’s for 78 years. In that time, multiple building extensions have been constructed and 22 priests have come and gone while the church’s Hispanic membership has grown significantly. One thing that hasn’t changed, she said, is the sense of community she feels there.

“I’ll talk to a lot of the visitors that come here, and they’ll say I was the first one that actually talked to them – not like other churches,” she said. “Going here, it’s not like going to a bigger church, where you don’t see the same people twice.”

Other longtime St. John’s members echoed her statement.

JoAnn Mann started attending services at St. John’s in 1970, when she was 26 years old. By that time, the church had a new building and a growing roster of parishioners.

“There’s a long history of people here, and I love them all,” Mann said. She said she likes going to the Spanish Mass the church offers on Saturday nights, even though she isn’t a native Spanish speaker.

“If you go long enough to the Spanish Mass, you learn all the parts in Spanish, and in fact, I sing better in Spanish than I do in English,” she said. “We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.

“A hug is the same in Spanish as it is in English.”

The church’s welcoming atmosphere is not lost on visitors, office worker Luli Duran said.

“Everyone that comes in here, even the ones from Decatur, they say, ‘It feels more like a church,’ and they say that it feels like home,” she said. “That’s because we’re country people, I guess. We make it feel like home.”

The church has undergone several major renovations since it first opened. Hallway extensions for classrooms, and a larger fellowship hall, were added as the parish grew, and stained glass windows were commissioned in honor of former members who died.

The doors that lead into the church foyer are brand-new, and there is more space in the parking lot than ever before. The ever-growing facility is indicative of the church’s growth, Fr. Thomas Dsouza said.

Dsouza came to Wise County from India 17 months ago, and he said he’s continued to see more new people every Sunday.

“I’ve seen a lot more people join than normal – There’s more Spanish than English, but there’s a lot more people,” he said.

Dsouza said he’s expecting more than 400 people at the anniversary celebration Sunday, which will include a mass at 3 p.m. at St. John’s, followed by a catered meal from Dos Chiles and a presentation of some of the church’s historical artifacts, including the altar cloth and chalice from Smith.

“It should be a great celebration,” Smith said.

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If you want a bid, attend a city council meeting

There’s an old saying that “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

If that’s true, it was in full force Tuesday night when the Bridgeport City Council awarded competitive bids to two groups who were in attendance that night.

The first, Century 21’s Sue Meek, was awarded a bid to sell property on the Rutherford Ranch after her profile was evaluated by the council. Meek was one of two possible Realtors at the meeting competing for the bid, and Mayor Corey Lane took notice.

“I think anyone looking for work who shows up here deserves our attention,” Lane said. Meek’s bid was approved 3-0-1, with Councilman Jimmy Meyers abstaining. Councilman Bobby Brazier was absent.

That same principle applied to landscaping companies looking to maintain properties that have recently been turned over to the city. Cut and Grow, Butch Haas and All-Wise Garden Center were all considered for the bid, but representatives from Cut and Grow were in attendance Tuesday night. Their attendance worked in their favor, too.

“Based on the precedence of people that are here getting the bid, I say give it to Cut and Grow,” Councilman David Correll said.

Cut and Grow’s bid was approved 3-1, with Meyers dissenting.

At the end of the meeting, following a one-hour closed session, City Administrator Brandon Emmons announced his intent to retire Dec. 26.

“About two weeks ago, I met with most of the council members and announced my intent to retire,” Emmons said. “I spent the last 20 years of my life in municipal government, and I’ve had the opportunity to retire early and explore some opportunities in the private sector. My last day will be Dec. 26, and I’ll be able to explore some of my passions, such as foreign travel and nonprofit work.”

Emmons said he’s also getting married next year, and although it’s an exciting time, he’s also nervous about the career change.

“The four-and-a-half years that I’ve lived in Bridgeport have been great, and we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said. “Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be holding some special meetings to discuss how to proceed after I leave.”

The council also:

  • amended the city’s fee schedule to include a Brewer’s Self Distribution Permit and Distiller’s Agents Permit fee.
    “We don’t really need the fees now, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and start implementing them should the need ever come up,” City Secretary Jesica McEachern said.
  • amended the fiscal year 2013-14 official budget to account for actual revenues and expenses and
  • listened to a presentation from Brian Haynes of Halff Associates on the city’s road improvement project. The project would improve the city’s roads over three phases through April 2016 and cost $4,390,000. A contractor for the project should be chosen in December.

The council’s next meeting will be a special session 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, to discuss Emmons’ replacement. The next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4. Both meetings will be at 900 Thompson St. and are open to the public.

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Bulls punch Aubrey, playoff ticket

The Bridgeport Bulls (5-3, 2-1) punched their ticket back to the playoffs with a convincing 41-14 win at Aubrey Friday night.

The Bulls used a bruising running game, deadly accurate passing and some strategic punts to keep the Chaparrals (1-7, 1-2) out of the end zone even though they moved the ball well much of the night.

After going winless last year, every victory tastes particularly sweet this year according to coach Danny Henson.

“We’re all cognizant of the turnaround,” he said after the game. “Last year was such a tough year – tough on everybody. For our kids that stuck with it and are out here playing so well, it’s just great to see.

“It makes the wins a little sweeter because of last year’s struggles.”

Quarterback Trey Cook completed 16 of 21 passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns, hitting receivers Raby Hawkins and Keenan Holdman in full stride for three 40-plus yard strikes.

Holdman opened the Bulls’ scoring with a 47-yard end-around in the first quarter, then caught TD passes of 40 and 44 yards in the third frame to ice the game.

“I thought we did a really good job of protecting the quarterback and running sharp routes, and the balls were right on target,” Henson said. “Some of those deep balls were really well-thrown.

“We also had a lot of short passes that I thought the timing was good, the accuracy was good and the routes were good,” he added. “Those were crisp.”

Hawkins scored the final touchdown on a three-yard run with just under nine minutes to play.

Bridgeport’s other touchdown came on a short pass that Brazier Talley turned into a touchdown late in the second quarter.

Talley led the Bulls on the ground with 16 carries for 102 yards.

In a game with only five flags and 20 yards in penalties, an early penalty cost Aubrey dearly when a 60-yard run was called back for illegal motion.

The Chaps were forced to punt, and two plays later Holdman went around the right side, lit the jets and sailed 47 yards to paydirt.

On the first play of the second quarter, Cook hit Hawkins in full stride for a 41-yard touchdown pass.

Aubrey battled back with a long drive that ended in a four-yard touchdown run by Phillip Wilds.

Bridgeport answered. Cook completed a 17-yard pass to Hawkins on a 4th and 3 to put the ball on the Aubrey 8, then Talley took a short pass to the end zone to make it 20-7 with 2:08 to play in the first half.

As the second half opened, the Bulls got a 19-yard gain from Holman, then on the next play Cook found him up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown as he carried a defender into the end zone.

Aubrey mounted another drive on the strong running of Wilds and Delbosque, scoring to make it 27-14 with 5:30 to play in the third.

But Cook struck right back, this time finding Holdman for a 44-yard fingertip catch and run, making it 34-14 late in the third.

Aubrey got a roll and notched a 61-yard punt that rolled out at Bridgeport’s 4 yard line – but the Bulls promptly pounded out a 96-yard drive, culminated with a 3-yard dive by Hawkins. Efrain DeLuna’s kick put the final margin on the board.

“We’re 2-1 in district and we control our own place,” Henson said. “We’ve got a chance to end our season with two wins, finish second in district – nobody’s going to beat Celina – and end up with a 7-3 record.

“Once we get in the playoffs, hopefully we can do some good there,” he added.


Bridgeport … 7 … 13 … 14 … 7 … – … 41
Aubrey … 0 … 7 … 7 … 0 … – … 14

First Quarter

Bridgeport – 3:24, Keenan Holdman 47 run, Efrain DeLuna kick


Bridgeport – 11:53, Raby Hawkins 41 pass from Trey Cook, DeLuna kick

Aubrey – 6:34, Phillip Wilds 4 run, Cesar Pe a kick

Bridgeport – 2:08, Brazier Talley 10 pass from Cook, kick failed


Bridgeport – 10:45, Holdman 40 pass from Cook, DeLuna kick

Aubrey – 5:30, Wilds 4 run, Pe a kick

Bridgeport – 2:17, Holdman 44 pass from Cook, DeLuna kick


Bridgeport – 8:44, Hawkins 3 run, DeLuna kick


First Downs … 18 … 15
Rushes-Yards … 33-219 … 46-218
Passing Yards … 182 … 37
Total Yards … 401 … 255
Comp-Att-Int … 16-21-0 … 5-15-1
Punts-Average … 2-53 … 5-32
Fumbles-Lost … 1-1 … 2-1
Penalties-Yards … 2-10 … 3-10


Rushing: Bridgeport, Brazier Talley, 16-102; Aubrey, Jon Delbosque, 16-62.

Passing: Bridgeport, Trey Cook 16-21-0-182; Aubrey, Cole Cannon, 5-15-1-37.

Receiving: Bridgeport, Keenan Holdman 6-110, Raby Hawkins 6-51; Aubrey, Tyler Willliams 3-27.

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Volleyball: Victory eludes Sissies in district

Lake Worth kept the Bridgeport Sissies winless in District 8-4A Tuesday with a three-game sweep.

Bridgeport (5-25, 0-6) fell 25-18, 25-15, 25-23.

“We played a little tense in the beginning and it was difficult to overcome as the match went on,” said Bridgeport coach Rebekah Cummings.

Jessica White and Kensley Turner put down four kills apiece for the Sissies. Sadie White added three.

Nikki Barbour doled out eight assists, and Ryhan Read five.

Defensively, Read and Ally Raby recorded seven digs each. Mariah Leyva and Turner had six apiece.

Bridgeport traveled to Decatur Friday, and will close out the season at home against Castleberry Tuesday.

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