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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Ronnie Lee Gerhart Sr.

Ronnie Lee Gerhart Sr., 75, a retired sheet metal journeyman, died Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Chico.

No services are scheduled at this time.

Ronnie was born March 9, 1939, in Indianapolis to Charles and Doris (Johnson) Fornshell.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Dave and George Gerhart.

He is survived by his daughters, Maria Ann Hoket and husband, Patrick J., of Chico and Tanya Hart and husband, Jim, of Gardenville, Nev.; son Ronnie Lee Gerhart Jr. of Chico; grandchildren Leslie, Coltan, Raylon, Dameon, Alana, Marinia, Gabriel, Florence, Atlas, Kayson, Braxton, Austin, Aydan and Ian; brothers Donald Gerhart and wife, Robin, of Greenville, Pa., and Richard Gerhart and wife, Gloria, of Keystone Heights, Fla.; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Isabella Beth Hall

Tyler Hall and Kristina Haulmark of Chico announce the birth of a daughter, Isabella Beth Hall, on May 30, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

She has two brothers: Joseph, 4, and James, 1; and one sister, Mia, 8.

Grandparents are Leslie Maddux, Valerie Braddish and Rodney Hall.

Great-grandparents are Debbie Byers and Kathy Maddux.

Great-great-grandmother is Nelda Vincent.

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Ronnie Lee Gerhart Sr.

Ronnie Lee Gerhart Sr.

Ronnie Lee Gerhart Sr., 75, a retired sheet metal journeyman, died Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Chico.

No services are scheduled at this time.

Ronnie was born March 9, 1939, in Indianapolis to Charles and Doris (Johnson) Fornshell.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Dave and George Gerhart.

He is survived by his daughters, Maria Ann Hoket and husband, J., of Chico and Tanya Hart and husband, Jim, of Gardenville, Nev.; grandchildren Leslie, Coltan, Raylon, Dameon, Alana, Marinia, Gabriel, Florence, Atlas, Kayson, Braxton, Austin, Aydan and Ian; brothers Donald Gerhart and wife, Robin, of Greenville, Pa., and Richard Gerhart and wife, Gloria, of Keystone Heights, Fla.; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Sandy LeAnn Gibson and Aaron Bradly Capehart

Sandy LeAnn Gibson of Paradise, daughter of Flora and Jimmy Shelton of Chico, will marry Aaron Bradly Capehart, son of Debra Lackey of Paradise, Sept. 20, 2014, in Paradise.


Sandy LeAnn Gibson and Aaron Bradly Capehart

Greg Ames will officiate.

The bride-elect attended Bridgeport High School and is a stay-at-home mom.

The prospective groom also attended Bridgeport High. He works for TXI Bridgeport Stone.

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Chico School Board considers food service options

Add Chico to the list of area schools that may look at changing their food service.

Monday, Chico Superintendent Mike Jones presented school board members with information on contracting with an outside company to oversee cafeteria operations. Jones said he visited with the Era and Collinsville school districts who have recently taken that route, to see how it was working out.

“I was at Era during a lunch time, and the kids were quiet and chowing down,” he said. “It’s unusual. Usually you’re riding herd on kids. They were full. The parents were giving them great praise. They said their kids weren’t coming home starving.”

Calling it a “win-win,” Jones said the companies could offer healthy, high-quality options that would appeal to students. He said other schools that have brought in an outside company went from running a deficit in their food service operations to breaking even or making a profit.

The school would be able to utilize the company’s resources and experience while still using its own cafeteria workers, he added.

The item was for discussion purposes only at Monday’s meeting, but Jones said he intends to bring it back to the board in June for possible action.

Boyd and Paradise have also recently looked into contracting with an outside company for food service.

In other business, the board:

  • re-elected Bill Hand as board president and Doug Bowyer as secretary and named Paul Cantrell vice president;
  • approved the purchase of a 2015 Chevrolet pickup from James Wood Motors in Decatur;
  • approved a low-attendance waiver request to the Texas Education Agency for two days in December when school was held, but buses did not run due to icy conditions – resulting in about one-third of the students missing those two days; and
  • approved a staff development waiver request for three days used for staff development rather than instruction.

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Fire claims family’s home

Fire claims family’s home

A family lost its home in a fire west of Chico Sunday evening.

Flames tore through the roof of the single-family home on Private Road 1648 after 9 p.m. Firefighters from Chico, Alvord, Bridgeport and Sand Flat battled the blaze that destroyed much of the house.

Sunday Night Fire

SUNDAY NIGHT FIRE – Firefighters attack a blaze that destroyed a home west of Chico Sunday evening. Firefighters from five departments responded to the fire. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur firefighters were paged around 11 p.m. to provide mutual aid. Firefighters had the fire extinguished by 2 a.m. Monday.

“There’s some personal property they can salvage,” said Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis. “But it’s a total loss. It’s not fit to be lived in.”

The center of the roof caved in during the blaze.

Flora Shelton, who lived in the home with her husband, Jimmy, and two grandsons, was watching TV when she noticed smoke coming out of a vent.

She said she woke her husband, who was asleep on the couch in the living room, and got everyone out of the house.

“Before we got out, he went to the back bedroom [at the north end of the home, and it was covered in smoke," Mrs. Shelton said.

Jimmy Shelton had lived in the house most of his life.

"It's been here since 1977," he said. "My parents moved it in after their trailer burned."

He said the trailer fire in the exact location was July 1, 1977.

While firefighters fought the fire Sunday, Travis mentioned the fire was likely "electrical" in origin. He added that he and Fire Marshal Chuck Beard returned to the scene Monday to continue their investigation.

"It's accidental," Travis said. "Chuck and I are going back out to Chico just to see if it was electrical or HVAC."

Getting to Roof

GETTING TO ROOF – Firefighters set up a ladder to get to flames atop the roof of a house near Chico. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Chico’s Anderle earns offensive MVP

Marshall Anderle batted .457 and drove in 17 runs to help the Chico Dragons to the second round of the Class A playoffs.

CATCHING BIG HONOR – Chico’s Marshall Anderle earned 9-A’s top offensive award after hitting .457 for the Dragons. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For his efforts, Anderle earned District 9-A Offensive Player of the Year.

Anderle was one of five Dragons to earn league honors.

Four Chico players – Cameron Weatherly, Jericoe McGuire, Hagen Davis and Austin Collins – received honorable mention.

District champion Windthorst took two of the superlative awards. Hayden Hoffman earned MVP and Ty Kirk Pitcher of the Year.

Petrolia’s Dane Williams garnered the top newcomer.

Chico’s Jaston McBee earned Defensive MVP. The outfielder batted .512 and drove in 34 runs with 15 extra-base hits.

Chico sophomore pitcher Tyler Melton made the first team. Melton hit .559 with 52 RBIs and two homers. On the mound, he posted an 8-2 record with a 2.29 ERA.

Chico infielder Kalen Johnson and pitcher Brady North were second-team choices. Johnson hit .319 with 32 RBIs. North batted .440 with 32 RBIs. He went 6-3 with a 3.57 ERA.


MVP: Hayden Hoffman, Windthorst, senior

Pitcher of the Year: Ty Kirk, Windthorst, senior

Offensive MVP: Marshall Anderle, Chico, senior

Defensive MVP: Jaston McBee, Chico, sophomore

Newcomer of the Year: Dane Williams, Petrolia, freshman


Utility: Bandy Mataska, Petrolia, sophomore

Infield: Casey McCleery, Poolville, senior; Justin Garza, Olney, sophomore; Kelvin Green, Archer City, senior; Dustin Hanusch, Petrolia, senior

Outfield: Dave Lough, Olney, senior; Matthew Haehn, Archer City, senior; Logan Veitenheimer, Windthorst, sophomore

Pitcher: Brady Kyle, Archer City, sophomore; Tyler Melton, Chico, sophomore

Catcher: Peyton Hoffman, Windthorst, sophomore

Designated hitter: Hunter Francis, Perrin, freshman; Cole Havins, Archer City, senior


Utility: Austin Cook, Poolville, junior

Infield: Kalen Johnson, Chico, sophomore; Tyler Tuel, Bryson, sophomore; Clayton Hargis, Archer City, sophomore; Cody Green, Windthorst, sophomore

Outfield: Landon Cox, Archer City, junior; Loan Isham, Poolville, junior; Mike Wolf, Windthorst, senior

Pitcher: Brady North, Chico, sophomore; Cody Royar, Poolville, junior

Catcher: Jacob Dove, Petrolia, senior; Drew McVicker, Olney, sophomore


Chico: Cameron Weatherly, Jericoe McGuire, Hagen Davis, Austin Collins

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Ronny Thomas Jr.

Ronny Thomas Jr.

Ronny Thomas Jr., 40, of Chico, died Friday, May 16, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Hawkins Funeral Home with Bro. Jimmy Williams officiating. Burial will follow at East Bridgeport Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Mike Hartsell, Jamie Connell, Les McCain, Chad Richardson, Charles Tolliver and Jeff Harris.

Ronny was born May 30, 1973, in Bridgeport to Ronnie Sr. and Shiela (McCord) Thomas. He married Shiela Nielson March 1, 2014, in Lake Bridgeport. Ronny proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps and was a heavy equipment operator.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Shiela Jeffries; uncle Richard Thomas; and stepmother Alice Thomas.

Survivors include his wife, Shiela Thomas of Chico; children Rebecca, Christopher and Chelsie Thomas of Chico; father Ronnie Thomas Sr. of Lake Bridgeport; brother Mike Thomas of Lake Bridgeport; and numerous aunts, uncles, extended family members and friends.

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Anderle lands medal; Dragon earns bronze on final jump

On his final attempt, Chico’s Marshall Anderle landed his best triple jump mark of the day and claimed a spot on the medal stand at the University Interscholastic League Track and Field Championships.

Anderle landed an effort of 44-3 to finish third in the Class A Division I triple jump.

Landing on Medal Stand

LANDING ON MEDAL STAND – Chico’s Marshall Anderle took third in the Class A triple jump Wednesday in Austin. Anderle jumped 44-3. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

“I just didn’t want to lose,” Anderle said about his final jump.

He was in fourth, behind Wellington’s Clayton Thomas, going into his final attempt. Anderle’s best jump prior to that was 43-5.25.

“I didn’t feel very fresh today. My legs weren’t underneath me,” said Anderle, who caught the Chico Dragons baseball area game Thursday.

“I jumped some of the worst jumps I’ve ever jumped the first five. Then the final one was a decent one and got it done.”

Stamford’s James Washington won the event with a jump of 46-6.5. Lionel Brown of Woodsboro took second, going 45-7.5.

“It means everything,” Anderle said. “I’ve been wanting a medal since my freshman year. It’s good to go out with a bang.”

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Gorman escapes Chico rundown to advance

Chico pitcher Tyler Melton matched Gorman’s ace, Dakota Pacheco, pitch-for-pitch Thursday as the two silenced each other’s bats through seven innings.

Doubled Up

DOUBLED UP – Chico’s Brady North reacts to being thrown out trying to steal second for the final out at the top of the eighth inning. The Dragons fell to Gorman 2-1 in Thursday’s Class A area game at Brock. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In the bottom of the eighth, Gorman took advantage of the slightest of openings. After one-out walk and sacrifice bunt, Gorman brought home the winning run on an error and botched rundown to capture the Class A area title 2-1 at Brock High School.

END OF THE LINE – Chico’s Cameron Weatherly sits on the turf at Brock High School as Gorman players celebrate their 2-1 victory in eight innings over the Dragons in the Class A area title game. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It’s not executing. We work on that, but in the heat of the moment it gets you,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “In a three-game series, we have it.”

The loss in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff ended the Dragons’ season at 20-7.

“It was a great season. A 20-win season is nothing to be disappointed about,” Melton said.

Facing Pacheco, who struck out the first five Dragon hitters and eight of the first nine, Melton was up to the task on the mound. He whiffed nine, including the side in the seventh inning. The Chico sophomore didn’t allow a hit until an infield single by Jose Maldonado in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up just two all night.

“He threw a great game. He kept us in it by battling,” McBeth said.

Gorman took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Rodrigo Mata worked one of his three walks on the night with one out. Mata scored on an error at second base.

Chico tied the score in the top of the fourth. Jaston McBee broke up Pacheco’s no-hitter with a bunt single. He then stole second and third, and raced home when Gorman catcher Sheldon Fenley’s throw got past third baseman Yovani Palacios.

The Dragons got only two more baserunners against Pacheco, who finished with 16 strikeouts and allowed three hits.

“We’ve been hitting against higher speeds all week in practice,” Melton said. “It just didn’t happen tonight.”

Brady North singled with one out in the eighth but was thrown out on the bases after Austin Collins’ strikeout to end the frame.

In the bottom of the inning, Melton struck out the leadoff hitter. He walked Maldonado, then Gorman’s Daniel Herrara bunted Maldonado to second with Pacheco coming up. Melton got Pacheco to hit a hard ground ball to first that bounced off the glove of the Dragons’ first baseman.

Maldonado rounded third on the play but got caught in a rundown. After chasing him between home and third, the Dragons could not get a tag and eventually threw the ball away to give Gorman the win.

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1 injured in Saturday wreck

It is unknown how long a Chico man was stuck in his car after driving off of Farm Road 1810 and into a ravine Saturday afternoon.

BIZARRE ENDPOINT – Department of Public Safety troopers and bystanders survey the damage of an SUV that ran off the road and into a culvert Saturday. The driver, Charles R. Duke of Chico, was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A passerby noticed her friend’s fence was damaged at around 5:30 p.m. When she got out of the car to investigate, she found Charles R. Duke, 52, stuck in his black Ford Explorer.

Investigators aren’t sure how long he was there. Duke told them he had left Denton around 10 that morning.

According to investigators, Duke was westbound on FM 1810, about four miles west of U.S. 81/287, when he left the roadway.

He drove through a fence and hit an embankment, which caused his SUV to spin and slide backward down the ravine. The Explorer became lodged under a culvert, where Duke was found at around 5:30 p.m.

Decatur firefighters and Wise County medics freed Duke from his car. He was then flown by PHI Air Medical helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

A hospital spokesperson on Tuesday said Duke was not listed as a patient. It is possible he had been released.

Duke’s injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. He complained of pain in his ribs and neck.

Investigators believe a mixture of medication as well as alcohol contributed to the crash.

Charges are pending, depending on the results of blood tests.

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Dragons scorch Santo, 19-4

Jaston McBee belted a homer and drove in six runs Saturday as the Chico Dragons hammered Santo 19-4 in five innings.

The victory completed the sweep of the Class A bi-district series. Chico beat Santo 8-5 Friday in the first game.

Picking Up Win

PICKING UP WIN – Chico pitcher Brady North tossed seven innings, allowing five runs in the Dragons’ 8-5 victory over Santo Friday. Messenger photo by Kelly Guess

“We got on base. That’s what I’ve been preaching all year,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “We made them make plays.”

The Dragons improved to 20-6 and will move on to play Gorman at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Brock for a Class A area title.

“We’re pretty pumped and excited to go out and play just like we did Saturday,” McBee said. “We want to make a playoff run and keep this going.”

McBee broke out of a slump Saturday to lead the Dragons’ hitting barrage. He went 0-for-5 with a walk in the first game Friday. He bounced back, going 4-for-5 with a triple and the home run.

“I was seeing the ball good and finally got out of my slump,” he said.

Stretching Out

STRETCHING OUT – Chico first baseman Tyler Melton reaches out to catch a ball at first base during the Dragons’ win over Santo Friday. Messenger photo by Kelly Guess

The rest of the team followed him, pounding out 14 hits. Tyler Melton and Kalan Johnson knocked in a pair of runs each. Melton finished 3-for-4.

Chico plated four runs in the first after McBee led off with a single. He hit a solo homer in the second as part of a two-run inning. The Dragons took a 9-0 lead in the third.

Chico scored 10 in the fourth, sending 15 batters to the plate.

Jeremy Blanks benefited from the run support. He held Santo hitless for the first four innings. He allowed four hits and three runs – one earned – in five innings.

Friday, the Dragons’ bats were slow starting. Chico managed only three hits. They took advantage of 10 walks and seven hit batters to score eight runs. The Dragons plated two in the sixth and four in the seventh to rally from a 4-2 deficit.

“We got lucky Friday,” McBeth said.

Brady North earned the win, allowing five runs – two earned – on eight hits over seven innings.

Against Gorman, McBeth will throw Tyler Melton.

“His arm was sore, and we were able to get through the series without him throwing,” McBeth said. “He was 8-2 on the year.”

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Anderle takes second in triple jump

On his first jump Saturday, Marshall Anderle secured a trip to Austin.

Anderle landed a leap of 45-7.5 to finish second in the triple jump at the Class A Region II meet at Abilene Christian University.

Leaping Dragon

LEAPING DRAGON – Chico’s Marshall Anderle will represent his school at the UIL State Track Meet after taking silver in the triple jump at last weekend’s regional meet in Abilene. Submitted photo

“I felt fresh on that jump and hit the board just right,” Anderle said. “I’ve always wanted to go to state. This means a lot.”

Anderle finished fifth last year at regionals. This year, jumping with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, suffered during football season, he beat his previous best mark by more than a foot.

“[The knee] has not been a problem at all,” Anderle said.

He credited his work with coach Lane Wilson in recent weeks for the second-place effort.

“Coach Wilson has helped me a lot with triple jump,” Anderle said.

Stamford’s James Washington won the region title in the event, landing an effort of 46-7.

Anderle took ninth in the long jump with a leap of 20-1.5.

Jonathon Nabors finished 15th in the 3200, running 12:24.64.

In the prelims, Jericoe McGuire ran 47.17 in the 300 hurdles for 14th. The Chico 4×200 team of Jaston McBee, Corbin Blackwood, Crese Redman and Kalen Johnson ran 1:36.68 for 11th.

For the Lady Dragons, Charlye Biggerstaff finished 14th in the long jump, going 15-2.25. Corey Tate was 15th with a 15-0.75.

In prelims, Whitney Renfro ran a 53.08 in the 300 hurdles for ninth. Leah Davidson turned in the 16th-best time in the 200, running 29.16. The Chico girls 4×400 squad of Britton Petty, Alli York, Tate and Biggerstaff ran a 4:31.96 for 10th.



Long jump: 9. Marshall Anderle, 20-1.5

Triple jump: 2. Marshall Anderle, 45-7.5

3200: 15. Jonathon Nabors, 12:24.64

300 hurdles: 14. Jericoe McGuire, 47.17

4×200: 11. Chico: Jaston McBee, Corbin Blackwood, Crese Redman, Kalen Johnson, 1:36.68


Long jump: 14. Charlye Biggerstaff, 15-2.25; 15. Corey Tate, 15-0.75

300 hurdles: 9. Whitney Renfro, 53.08

200: 16. Leah Davidson, 29.16

4×400: 10. Chico: Britton Petty, Alli York, Corey Tate, Charlye Biggerstaff, 4:31.96

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Ray Dell Pryor

Ray Dell Pryor

Ray Dell Pryor, 58, died Saturday, April 26, 2014, at his home in Chico.

Graveside service is 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at Bethel Cemetery in Decatur with Pastor Louis Horton officiating.

Pallbearers are Larry Pryor, Gary Pryor, Rocky Pryor, Thomas Largent, Joey Brown and Kenny Pryor. Burial is under the direction of the Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

Ray was born June 2, 1955, in Dallas to Kaleta Mae (Simpson) and H.O. Pryor. He was a heavy equipment operator for Hanson Aggregates for 34 years, and he loved rebuilding old cars, going to gamble at casinos and taking care of his yard.

Ray is survived by his wife of 17 years, Debora Kinsey Pryor; daughter Susan Dooling; stepchildren Dena Lee, Sarena Pinneke and husband, Mark, and Amanda and Thomas Largent; his parents; brothers Gary, Larry and Rocky Pryor; sisters Barbara Cansler, Charlotte King and Susan Wall; former wife Cathy Lacey; granddaughter Ashlee Dooling; stepgrandchildren Jacob Lee, Paul Pinneke, Kayden Pinneke, Monica King and Riley Pinneke; numerous nieces and nephews; and his loving dogs, Peanut and Sassy.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents and brothers Tommy Wayne Pryor and Jerry Dell Pryor.

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STAAR passing rates top state averages

Chico students in grades 5 and 8 did slightly better than the state averages on the reading and math portions of the STAAR test.

Superintendent Mike Jones delivered that good news to school board members at Monday’s meeting.

He said local passing rates on the two tests in fifth grade were 80 percent. Statewide passing rates were 79 percent in math and 76 percent in reading, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Chico eighth graders scored 84 percent on the two tests. Statewide passing rates were 79 percent for math and 82 percent for reading.

Students in those two grades must pass the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) in order to promote to the next grade level. Those who didn’t pass it on the first try will have a second chance in May, and if needed, another chance in late June.

Jones said all the seniors passed their exit TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) and are scheduled to graduate.

The board also approved a policy update stating the school district will not require anything beyond the requirement laid out by the state for various graduation plans. Students entering their freshman year in the fall will be subject to new requirements set forth by House Bill 5, which was approved in the 2013 session of the Texas Legislature, although Jones said those courses will be largely the same as what freshmen took last year.

In other business the board:

  • awarded a bid to Hendershot Equipment Co. for a lawnmower and a bid to Guardian Security for high school security camera DVR replacement.
  • hired Jody Carter, Chris Carter and Tim Mynarcik as teachers/coaches. The vote on Jody Carter’s contract was 7-0, while the votes on the other two hires were 5-2 with G.A. Buckner and Bill Hand casting the opposing votes on each.
  • set the canvassing of the May 10 school trustee election for the next regular board meeting May 19.

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Groves selected as Citizen of the Year

Gussie Groves is quick to tell you how long she’s been in Wise County.

“Forever!” she said.

Gussie Groves

Chico’s 2014 Citizen of the Year graduated from Chico High School after marrying her husband, R.L., during her junior year. Groves’ three children and seven grandchildren are also CHS graduates.

Chico obviously has a special place in her heart, and she can tell you why.

“Our schools, our people and our churches,” she said. “When we have anything at one church, we all go to whichever church has it. We’re all one large family.”

Over the past 35 years, she’s helped many of those family members find homes as a Realtor. While most of those years were spent working in Bridgeport, she is currently with Parker Properties in Decatur. Her honors include numerous Realtor of the Year awards for Wise County, and she has served in numerous officer positions on the local Board of Realtors.

In addition to real estate, Groves previously ran a beauty salon.

“I fixed hair 25 years at the funeral home. I fixed hair at all the nursing homes. I just do the hair at the funeral homes now when they need me,” she said.

Groves has also volunteered in various community service activities over the years, including serving on the Wise County Child Welfare Board and volunteering at area hospitals bringing patients juice, refilling their water pitchers, delivering a newspaper or reading mail to patients who can’t do it themselves.

She is a longtime member of the Chico Chamber of Commerce as well as the Bridgeport and Decatur chambers. Groves said there were a couple of times the Chico Chamber nearly folded – but she was one of a handful of members who kept it going.

She said the chamber is able to give back to the community through scholarships, local events, helping furnish the new city hall and even providing a community lunch, something they have just started.

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Shelby Amanda Collins and Corey Ryan Haney

Shelby Amanda Collins of Lubbock, daughter of Shane and Terri Hedrick of Chico, will marry Corey Ryan Haney, son of James and Lee Ann Haney, all of Midland, June 7, 2014, in Westminster.

Collins Haney

Shelby Amanda Collins and Corey Ryan Haney

Clint Dickson will officiate.

The bride-elect graduated from Chico High School in 2010 and will graduate from Texas Tech University in May with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

The prospective groom graduated from Midland Lee High School in 2008 and from Texas Tech in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He works for Hy-Bon Engineering Co. Inc. in Midland.

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Baseball Roundup: Samples puts Bulls into three-way tie in 9-3A

The Bridgeport Bulls scored four runs in the third inning including one driven in by Alex Samples in a 5-3 victory over Gainesville Friday.

Samples finished with a pair of RBIs, going 1-for-4 as the Bulls secured a share of second place in District 9-3A with Krum and Decatur.

Jared Huff added a RBI for the Bulls.

On the mound, Samples held Gainesville to three runs – one earned – on five hits. He struck out nine and walked one.


Dillon Meadows fanned 14 and held Peaster to two hits in a complete-game 7-0 shutout against Peaster.

The Panthers (18-6-1, 7-3) moved a win away from securing the second seed in District 9-2A. Paradise took on Ponder Tuesday and will close the regular season against Millsap at home Friday.

Skylar Black homered and drove in two runs, going 3-for-3 against Peaster. Jarret Holt added two RBIs on three hits. Austin Hogan also had three hits.


Kalan Johnson drove in four runs and Tyler Melton three on two doubles as the Chico Dragons hammered Bryson 17-7 Friday.

Chico (18-5) moved to 10-3 in District 9-A. With a win Friday in the regular season finale, the Dragons will secure second place in the league.

Hagen Davis added three RBIs against Bryson. Jerico McGuire knocked in two runs.

Chase Riddles and Jaston McBree each tripled.


Brandon Hardee tripled and Anthony Spinelli doubled and scored a run as the Boyd Yellowjackets were tripped up by 9-2A champion Brock 14-1 Friday.


The Alvord Bulldogs fell to 2-9 in District 9-2A Friday with a 14-0 loss to the playoff-bound Ponder Lions.

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Joyce Nadine Howard

Joyce Nadine Howard

Joyce Nadine Howard, 85, of Chico died Sunday, April 20, 2014, at home.

Graveside service is 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, at Hoggard-Reynolds Cemetery in Azle with Chad Geeslin officiating. Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

Joyce was born Oct. 16, 1928, in Fort Worth to Hattie Lee Clendening and Roy Emmet Curry. She married Jessie Mack Howard Nov. 10, 1972, in Haslet. She was a bookkeeper for Riverside Glass and Mirror in Fort Worth for 50 years. Joyce enjoyed reading, working with flowers, fishing and most of all, her family. She was a member of the Wise County Cowboy Church.

Joyce is survived by her sons, Richard Geeslin and wife, Nancy, of Bowie and Ronald Geeslin and wife, Donna, of Chico; daughter Brenda Geeslin of Chico; nine grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; sisters Geneva Pruitt of Azle, Ellen Lee and husband, Roy Vardeman, of Azle, Dolores McMillin and husband, Oran, of Saginaw, Sharon Blake of Roanoke and Beverly Sparks and husband, Rowland, of Azle; seven nieces; and 10 nephews.

Joyce was preceded in death by her husband; parents; granddaughter Amy Geeslin; and brothers Roy Emmet Curry Jr. and Walter Benjamin Curry.

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