Gas leak forces Chico evacuation

Fifteen homes in Chico were evacuated late Wednesday night after a gas leak was reported in the area.

Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard said a tanker trailer at Chico Auto wrecking yard on South Weatherford Street was leaking anhydrous ammonia. Residents living within a 500-foot downwind perimeter of the trailer were evacuated to Chico High School about 10:45 p.m.

Beard said the tanker, owned by Sure Grow Ag Products in Comanche, was in an accident Tuesday night in Jack County. According to the Jacksboro Gazette, the trailer separated from the tractor on Highway 281 in northern Jack County about 5 p.m.

The truck was carrying 80,000 pounds of anhydrous, according to The Gazette, and the Bowie Fire Department Hazmat team was called to the scene to assist Jacksboro Fire Department with cleanup. They also helped a second Sure Grow truck offload the remaining anhydrous. Terry Hand, with Chico Auto, towed the trailer from the scene to his yard in Wise County.

Beard said there may have been 100 gallons left in the tanker. Temperatures in the 70s on Wednesday warmed the residual gas, pressure built up in the tank and it began to vent. There was little to no wind Wednesday night, which meant the vapor cloud and smell hung in the air.

Chico, Bridgeport and Sand Flat fire departments responded to the scene, as well as Wise County deputies who evacuated the 26 residents. Beard said the gas meter readings indicated it was not a high-danger situation, but they cleared the neighborhood as a precaution.

Displaced residents were allowed to go home at 3 a.m., and all fire and law enforcement cleared shortly after 3 also. The trailer was relocated to an unpopulated, secure location to finish the venting process.

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Dragons’ second rally falls short

The Chico Dragons rallied from six runs down once but couldn’t do it twice Tuesday against Windthorst.

After plating three, the Dragons’ seventh-inning rally ended with the bases loaded in a 16-14 loss to Windthorst at home in the matchup of District 9-A leaders.

Head on the Ball

HEAD ON THE BALL – A throw sails into the Windthorst runner as Cameron Weatherly covers second base during Chico’s loss Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Dragons couldn’t overcome seven errors and nine walks issued by the combination of Brady North and Cameron Weatherly. Both pitchers gave up eight runs – five earned.

“We had too many errors and mistakes,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth. “It was also not a good night for Brady. He gave up too many walks.”

Windthorst took a 9-3 lead in the fifth inning after two Chico errors led to a pair of runs. Windthorst had six unearned runs.

“We didn’t make the routine plays,” said Jaston McBee.

Chico erased that six-run deficit with six runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of Windthorst errors, a dropped third strike and a walk. Hagen Davis tied the game at 9 with a single to left-center field.

That tie didn’t last long. Windthorst plated seven runs in the top of the sixth with the help of four walks by Weatherly and two Chico errors. Hayden Hoffman doubled in a pair of runs in the big inning for Windthorst that put it up 16-9.

Chico tried to fight back. McBee drove in one of the two Dragon runs in the sixth. After Weatherly worked a scoreless seventh, Chico continued its comeback. North, Weatherly and McBee worked bases-loaded walks to force in runs with two outs.

With the tying runs on second and third, Windthorst’s Michael Wolf struck out Chico’s Kalan Johnson to end the three-hour plus game.

“We’re a good team and can battle back,” McBee said. “We’ve got to cut the errors and walks. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

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Dragons blaze through district; Chico piles up 53 runs in 3 games

Through three District 9-A games, opposing pitchers are having no luck slowing the Chico Dragons.

In their wins over Poolville, Olney and Perrin-Whitt, the Dragons have piled up 53 runs. They are outscoring their league opponents 53-10.

“We’re hitting the ball pretty good,” said Jaston McBee. “We’re all hitting.”

The Dragons (9-2, 3-0) hoped to keep the hot bats going Tuesday as they took on Windthorst at home at 5 p.m.

Entering Tuesday, the Dragons are hitting .443 as a team. Four hitters – McBee, Jerico McGuire, Tyler Melton and Brady North – are batting better than .500. In 28 at-bats in 11 games, Melton is hitting .643 with 18 hits and a team-best 27 RBIs.

Along with the solid hitting, the Dragons are putting runners on base consistently. The team on-base percentage is .595. The team has garnered 83 walks in 11 games.

“What we stress is getting on base any way possible,” said Chico coach Brian McBeth.

Once on base, the Dragons are creating havoc, piling up 82 stolen bases. North has 14.

“We’re pretty athletic and for 1A baseball we’ve got kids that can run,” McBeth said. “We want to put pressure on people to make the play and run.”

The offensive fireworks has bolstered a young pitching staff for the Dragons. Melton is 4-0 with a 3.50 ERA. North is 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 innings of work.

“We knew we could score runs,” McBeth said. “I wasn’t sure how our pitching would hold up. So far, they are keeping us in games.”

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Walterscheid brings home fourth place at state

Deanna Walterscheid entered the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association’s championships in Corpus Christi ranked seventh in the Class 2A 148-pound division.

The Paradise lifter recorded her best bench press of the year and a new personal best deadlift to take fourth place and a medal Friday at the state competition.

Walterscheid tallied 815 pounds. Ballinger’s Angelica Fuentes won the division with a total of 1,025 pounds.

Walterscheid squatted 325 pounds. She barely missed a try at 345. On bench press, she lifted 150 pounds to put her in sixth place.

On deadlift, she broke her previous best by 15 pounds, getting 340 to give her the medal.

Her teammate Mikela Beck tallied 610 with a squat of 215, bench press of 105 and deadlift of 290.


Chico’s Corey Tate also brought home a medal Friday, taking fifth in the Class A 148-pound division.

Tate tallied 635 pounds. Ozona’s Nicole Higgins won the division with a total of 860.

Tate finished with a squat of 270. She lifted 120 on bench press and pulled 245 on deadlift.

Alli York took sixth in the 114-pound class. She lifted a total of 515 including a 205-pound squat, bench press of 90 and deadlift of 220.

Charlye Biggerstaff brought home seventh among the 123-pound competitors with a total of 580. She squatted 225, benched 105 and pulled 250 on deadlift.

Ana Rodriguez finished seventh in the 97-pound division with a total of 430, getting 165 on squat, 80 on bench press and 185 on deadlift.

Matison Rhodes was seventh in the 132s with her total of 600. She had a squat of 220, bench press of 125 and deadlift of 255. Breann Hall took ninth in the same division with her squat of 225, bench press of 100 and deadlift of 250 for a 575 total.

Heidi Spann finished ninth in the 165 class with a tally of 640 with lifts of 250 on squat, 115 on bench press and 275 on deadlift.


Decatur’s Destiny Whitworth finished seventh in the 220-plus division Class 3A competition at Saturday’s championships, lifting a total of 930 pounds.

She recorded a squat of 410, a bench press of 180 and deadlift of 340.

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City says quarry had addressed safety and health concerns

It appears the city of Chico is about to reach a neighborly agreement with a new business coming to town.

When city officials first learned a year ago of P&K Stone’s intention to put in a limestone quarry just east of the city limits, Mayor J.D. Clark said they had several concerns and questions they wanted answered.

The questions have been answered, and the concerns have been addressed, Clark said.

“It’s really been a very beneficial process – a long process but a good one, because P&K has been so willing to sit down with us and talk about all these issues and ways to handle it,” Clark said. “They are really trying to be a good neighbor.

“For us, what we are going to end up getting in the end is a new business in the community who has really put forth the effort to become a positive member of that (community).”

The city and school district initially protested P&K Stone’s air quality permit application, citing a list of concerns regarding air and water quality as well as traffic issues.

Tuesday, Clark explained to the council the city’s agreement with the company which addressed those areas of concern.

The city had a geologist and an engineer run seismic testing to simulate the effects blasting might have on city water wells or water towers.

“They all concluded that there should be no impact on our wells,” Clark said. “If for some reason there is, P&K has agreed to indemnify the city so that if something does go wrong with our water wells, they have to make it right. That shows their comfort level that they are willing to do that.”

That same agreement would also apply to any possible damage to the city water towers or the school district’s nearby ag facility.

Regarding traffic concerns, Clark said P&K will seek TxDOT approval to widen Farm Road 1810 in front of the quarry’s entrance to allow a turning lane for trucks.

On the noise issue, P&K has agreed to not exceed 85 decibels, and the city is allowed to monitor those levels.

As far as air issues, P&K will be required to follow the requirements set forth by the state.

Clark said the city will also benefit financially from the agreement. P&K has agreed to buy wastewater from the city and will even pay for the infrastructure involved to make that possible. Once that infrastructure is in place, the city can sell to P&K and other companies wishing to buy wastewater.

According to the company’s air permit application, the quarry is expected to create 10 new jobs.

Clark will speak to the Chico school board Tuesday to get their approval of the agreement. Once everyone signs off, Clark said the city and school have agreed to drop their protest of P&K’s air quality permit application.

If everything goes as planned, construction of the quarry could start in June or July.

In other business the council:

  • awarded a bid for $11,737.60 to Mann Refrigeration for replacement of the heating and cooling system at city hall;
  • tabled action on possible changes to the city’s fireworks ordinance; and
  • received a report on the new officers for the Chico Community Volunteer Fire Department. The new fire chief is John Hobbs.

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Baseball Roundup: Dragons beat up on Olney, Perrin

The Chico Dragons beat up on their first two District 9-A opponents over spring break, piling up 41 runs in the two games.

Chico hammered Olney 20-5 Tuesday and followed up with a 21-3 victory over Perrin Wednesday.

In the victory over Olney, Tyler Melton and Kalen Johnson drove in five runs each. Melton brought in two with a double in the second. Johnson hit a three-run triple in the fourth.

Chico sent 14 batters to the plate in a 10-run fifth inning that included a two-run double by Austin Collins. The Dragons drew 13 walks from Olney pitching.

Against Perrin, Chico piled up 18 hits for 21 runs. Johnson went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs. Melton, Jerico McGuire and Cameron Weatherly finished with three RBIs each.

Melton struck out seven and walked seven in five innings, allowing three unearned runs on five hits.


The Decatur Eagles scored six runs in the top of the seventh to break open the game Wednesday in an 11-1 victory over Gunter.

Mason Baur drove in two with a double to right field. He and Christian Carrillo led the Eagles with a pair of RBIs. Josh Jones finished 3-for-4 and scored twice.

Clayton Egle picked up the win, holding Gunter to a run on four hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.


Dusty Cloud shut out Keller allowing just three hits over seven innings as the Northwest Texans rolled to an 8-0 win Tuesday.

Cloud struck out three and walked two.

Elijah Christenson provided all the offense Cloud needed with a two-run homer to left-center field during a three-run top of the first.

Colin Rhodes added a solo blast in a three-run fourth inning.

Victor DeJesus went 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored twice for the Texans.


The unbeaten Brock Eagles dropped the Alvord Bulldogs (7-9) to 0-2 in District 9-2A with a 15-5 victory in five innings Wednesday.

Brock’s Slaten Gough and Jordan Andrae hit homers for the Eagles. Gough hit a three-run homer in the six-run top of the first inning.

After Brock took an 8-0 lead in the second, Alvord scored four in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Bartholomew drove in a run in the inning.

Lane Peace had a RBI in the fourth for Alvord. He and Jonathan Musgrave finished with two hits each in three at-bats.


The Millsap Bulldogs scored six runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 12-1 win over the Boyd Yellowjackets in five innings Wednesday.

Boyd’s Rett Sears managed the Yellowjackets’ lone hit against Millsap pitcher Dalyn Clanin. Boyd hitters struck out 11 times against him and managed three walks.

Boyd’s Tyler Kemp scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a walk in the top of the third.

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Baseball Roundup: Panthers win tournament

The Paradise Panthers knocked off Gunter 10-7 Saturday to finish off an unbeaten run through the Windthorst Tournament.

Paradise went 4-0-1 at the tournament.

Caiden Berry and Austin Hogan drove in three runs each in the win over Gunter. Paradise scored five runs in the fourth to rally from a 7-5 deficit.

Paradise tied Holliday 12-12 with Dillon Meadows and Skylar Black driving in four runs each.

The Panthers blanked Archer City 13-0 and Vernon 10-0. Corbin Holt struck out eight and held Archer City hitless in five innings. Meadows and Black combined to hold Vernon scoreless on two hits in five innings.

Paradise also picked up a 13-4 win over Millsap. Black homered and drove in three, going 3-for-4.


The Bridgeport Bulls dropped a pair of close games over the weekend at the Princeton Tournament.

Princeton tripped Bridgeport 7-6 after plating six runs in the second inning.

Dalton Hudson went 2-for-4 and drove in a run for the Bulls.

Bridgeport fell to Celina 4-2 after the Bobcats scored two in the fifth.

Daniel Garcia and Jared Huff doubled for the Bulls.


The Ponder Lions scored four runs in the top of the seventh to put away the Boyd Yellowjackets Tuesday, 11-4.

Brandon Hardee homered and went 2-for-2 for the Yellowjackets.


The Chico Dragons plated seven runs in the fourth to run past Itasca 13-5 Friday.

Jaston McBee had a big day at the plate, tripling twice and adding a double. He also drove in three runs.

Chase Riddles knocked in two and doubled.


The Decatur Eagles lost their final two games at the Princeton Tournament over the weekend.

The McKinney Boyd JV handed Decatur a 7-5 loss. Nick Trachta tripled and drove in three runs for the Eagles.

After falling behind 4-0, the Eagles’ rally fell short in a 6-3 loss to Celina.

AJ Johnson doubled, going 2-for-3 with a RBI.

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Arrest made at fire scene

No injuries were reported, but one arrest was made following a structure fire in the 100 block of County Road 1639, southwest of Chico, Thursday afternoon.

Jeremiah Martinez

The occupant of the single-wide mobile home, Jeremiah Martinez, 32, was arrested for public intoxication.

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were called to the scene to investigate. But the ATF turned the investigation back over to the Wise County Fire Marshal’s office.

“It’s still under investigation, but it appears the fire was accidental,” Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard said. “It’s a routine investigation.”

Thursday Fire

THURSDAY FIRE – Chico, Bridgeport, Lake Bridgeport and Sand Flat fire departments responded to a mobile home fire southwest of Chico Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

When Chico firefighters checked on scene around 3 p.m., the mobile home was fully engulfed.

Flames had spread to the neighbor’s fence and threatened nearby structures and a propane tank. But the fire was contained to the mobile home and a well house.

Units from Bridgeport, Lake Bridgeport and Sand Flat, as well as Wise County medics responded.

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Baseball Roundup: Chico pounds Poolville

Tyler Melton drove in two more RBIs to give him 16 in just seven games as the Chico Dragons beat Poolville 12-2 Wednesday.

Melton went 2-for-4. Marshall Anderle, Jaston McBee and Cameron Weatherly also collected a pair of RBIs each. Anderle went 3-for-3.

Brady North picked up the victory, holding Poolville to two runs on seven hits in six innings of work.


The Decatur Eagles dropped all three of their games Thursday on the opening day of the Princeton Tournament.

Close Call

CLOSE CALL – Decatur’s Mason Baur is just able to get out of the path of an Argyle pitch during the Princeton Baseball Classic. Photo courtesy David Jenkins/The Princeton Herald

Ferris edged Decatur 3-2. Decatur outhit Ferris 8-4 but committed three errors that led to three unearned runs.

Trey Penny took the loss, allowing the three unearned runs and four hits in five and one-third innings. He struck out two and walked four.

Austin Givens went 3-for-4 for the Eagles.

The Eagles fell to Argyle 10-2. Argyle scored six in the fifth to break the game open.

Levelland scored four in the fifth and two in the sixth to rally for a 7-2 win over Decatur.

Nick Trachta went 2-for-3 for Decatur.


Behind a pair of solid pitching performances, the Northwest Texans won their first two games at the Denison Tournament Thursday.

Dusty Cloud limited Terrell to a run on four hits in six innings of work in a 3-1 victory. He struck out two and walked one.

Victor DeJesus went 3-for-4 for the Texans.

Bailey Dovell allowed one run and scattered eight hits over five innings of a 10-1 win over Wichita Falls Rider. Dustin May pitched two scoreless innings.

Walker Berry drove in two, going 2-for-4. DeJesus and Elijah Christenson each doubled and drove in a run.

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Cara Lynn Hand

Brian and Lana Hand of Chico announce the birth of a daughter, Cara Lynn, on March 5, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces and was 18 inches long.

She has three sisters: Kambree, 11; Abby, 10; and Carly, 3.

Grandparents are Mickey and Lindee Hand of Chico and Tammy Richardson of Bowie.

Great-grandparents are Patsy Hand of Chico and Linda Romine.

Great-great-grandparents are Myrtle Faye Ratliff of Bowie and Wendell and Laura Berry of Chico.

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Olivia Sage Read

Chris and Melissa Read of Chico announce the birth of a daughter, Olivia Sage, on Feb. 28, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces and was 17 inches long.

She has one brother: Cooper, 3.

Grandparents are Debra McClain of Alvord and Dickie and Eva Reed Sr. of Bridgeport.

Great-grandparents are Carl and Mary Spence of Irving, Richard Watson of Sweetwater and Jim and Margaret McClain of Herrod, Ohio.

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Softball Roundup: Boyd continues hot start at Denton Tourney

The Boyd Lady Yellowjackets finished off the Denton Tournament Saturday, going 3-1 and moving to 12-3 on the season.

After opening with a win over Argyle, the Lady Yellowjackets picked up victories over Denton and Haltom. Boyd’s lone misstep in the tournament was an 11-3 loss to L.D. Bell.

Bell pounded out 13 hits and put together a five-run third to win the game. Boyd also made two errors leading to three unearned runs.

Boyd hammered Haltom 18-6. Amber Brown went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Brittney Howard, Payton Salmon and Chelsea Arlington all drove in two runs.

Boyd plated 16 runs in the third inning, battling back from an early 5-0 hole.

The Lady Yellowjackets beat Denton 12-7, coming back from a 3-2 deficit with four runs in the fourth and six in the fifth.

Arlington and Chandler Hammon hit triples. Hammon added a double and drove in one, going 3-for-4. Kelcei Dees went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.


The Bridgeport Sissies split their four games at the Trenton Tournament over the weekend.

Bridgeport picked up win an 11-0 win over Ector, and 13-5 victory over Pottsboro.

Hailey Hollingsworth struck out five and limited Ector to a hit in three scoreless innings. Taylor Jamieson hit two doubles and drove in two runs. Diana Garcia doubles and drove in a run, going 2-for-3.

Bridgeport scored eight runs in the second and five in the third for a 13-5 win over Pottsboro. Rhyan Read and Makayla Raymond had two hits each. Kensley Turner and Jamieson doubled and drove in runs.

The Sissies were blanked 9-0 by host Trenton. Hollingsworth’s doubled was Bridgeport’s lone hit.

Bridgeport also suffered a 5-3 setback against Bland. Cheyenne Davidson doubled and drove in a run for the Sissies.


The Alvord Lady Bulldogs continued their hot start over the weekend, sweeping four games at their own tournament to move to 10-1.

The Lady Bulldogs beat Chico 27-0 and then knocked off junior varsity teams from Paradise, Nocona, Lindsay and Bowie.

Brittany Gayler hit three triples, going 4-for-4 in the win over Chico. Reagan Guthrie added a double and triple.

Pitcher Mikena Mader struck out six.

Alvord beat the Paradise JV 16-1 with Gayler striking out six. Maddie Espinoza and Kandi Rose each went 2-for-3.

Mader struck out four and blanked the Nocona JV in a 15-0 win. Kaley Beaver went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Gayler tripled, and Kayli Baker doubled.

Alvord held off the Lindsay JV for a 6-5 win. Gayler went 3-for-4 with two doubles.

In the final game of the tournament, Alvord hammered the Bowie JV 12-4. Guthrie tripled for one of her two this. Beaver added a double. Mader struck out nine in the win.

Alvord opened 9-2A play Tuesday on the road against Millsap.


Frisco Liberty scored two runs in the seventh to nip the Northwest Lady Texans 4-3 Saturday in the Frisco Tournament.

Kelsey Rhine went 2-for-3. Sydnee Hinkle drove in a run.

The Lady Texans beat Denton Guyer 3-1 as Rhine drove in two and Bailey Bryson one.

Catherine Totty limited Guyer to one run on four hits, striking out five.

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Baseball Roundup: Eagles take all four in Bowie

The Decatur Eagles tore through the Bowie Tournament over the weekend, winning four games.

After opening the tournament Thursday with a 20-3 win over Lake Country, the Eagles (4-4-2) beat Van, Calvary Christian and Bowie Friday and Saturday.

“We won all four with good defense and pitching that consistently threw strikes,” said Decatur coach Chris Carter. “Coming out of the first-week tournament, we talked to the kids about having to get better in both areas – and the kids responded.”

Clayton Egle limited Van to a run on seven hits, striking out three in seven innings in a 5-1 win. Christian Carrillo and Drew Edwards drove in runs.

AJ Johnson limited Calvary Christian to a run on three hits in five innings, striking out seven in a 3-1 win. Josh Jones pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out three.

Mason Baur tripled.

Decatur ended the tournament with a 3-2 win over host Bowie. Decatur scored two in the fourth and added a run in the fifth to win the game.

Edwards went 2-for-3 and scored a run.

Baur limited Bowie to two runs – one earned – on one hit. He struck out nine and walked three.


The Bridgeport Bulls dropped a pair of games Friday at the Little Elm Tournament Friday.

Bridgeport (3-7) fell to Garland Lakeview 10-3. Lakeview broke the game open with seven runs over the final two innings.

Jared Huff doubled and drove in a run for the Bulls. Alex Samples and James Gray knocked in a run each.

Little Elm plated a pair of runs in the seventh to beat the Bulls 3-2. Bridgeport led 2-1, going into the seventh.

Samples homered in the first and doubled in the sixth and came in to score on Daniel Garcia’s single.

Samples allowed one earned run in six and two-thirds innings on 12 hits. He struck out two.


The Chico Dragons won four games over the weekend at the Santo Tournament.

Brady North knocked in two runs and Jaston McBee went 2-for-2 with a RBI in a 7-4 win over the Paschal JV.

Tyler Melton doubled twice and drove in three in the 10-2 win over the Mineral Wells JV. North added three RBIs and Austin Collins two.

The Dragons topped Cross Plains 6-3 with pitcher Hagen Davis striking out 15 and allowing three runs on one hit in six innings. He walked 10.

Davis helped his cause by driving in two runs.

The Dragons ended the tournament with an 18-10 win over Santo. Chico scored 10 in the second and seven in the fourth. Davis and Melton drove in two runs each.


After winning the opening game of the Windthorst Tournament over Godley, the Boyd Yellowjackets dropped their final four.

Cody Jacobs and Sonny McCarmack limited Godley to two unearned runs on four hits over six innings in a 3-2 win.

The Yellowjackets then were blanked 10-0 by Henrietta.

Windthorst beat Boyd 7-1 despite Clay Barnett’s 3-for-3 at the plate for the Yellowjackets.

Alvord outlasted Boyd 12-11, Alvord scored five runs in the fourth and five more in the sixth. Marc Cruz drove in four, going 3-for-4 for Alvord. Cameron Clark and Rett Sears knocked in two runs each for Boyd.

The Yellowjackets closed the tournament with a 17-2 loss to Holliday.

Barnett had the Yellowjackets’ lone hit and drove in a run.


Corbin Holt’s RBI-single to right capped a 3-run seventh inning as the Paradise Panthers rallied for a 4-3 win over Henrietta at the Holliday Tournament.

Paradise went 3-2 at the tournament.

The Panthers hammered Archer City 12-5. Austin Hogan drove in three runs. J.D. Pearson doubled twice, going 3-for-4 with a RBI. Caiden Berry knocked in two runs.

The Panthers fell to Brock 8-4, and Holliday 4-2. Dillon Meadows struck out 10 and allowed four runs – three earned – on seven hits in five and two-thirds against Holliday. Meadows went 2-for-2, doubled and drove in a run against Holliday.

The Panthers bounced back from the those two losses with a 10-3 win over Notre Dame. The Panthers scored seven in the first inning, including two on Skylar Black’s double. He finished with three RBIs.

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Edna South

Edna South

Edna South, 73, of Chico, died Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service is 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 6, at Elizabeth Cemetery with the Rev. Bill Cleveland officiating. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Edna was born Oct. 13, 1940, in Bowie to Willis and Lillian (Taylor) Stewart. She married Roy Ray Anderson April 13, 1956, and they were married 38 years until his death in 1994. She married Butch South in 1998, and they were married 15 years until his death in May of 2013.

Left behind to cherish her memory are sons, Frank Anderson and wife, Stacy, of Alvord, and Willie Anderson and wife, Diana, of Gainesville; daughters Teresa Anderson Gaut of Bridgeport, Melinda Rosson and husband, Chris, of Crafton, and Lavina Anderson Kent and husband, Terry, of Saint Jo; 16 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; six sisters; a brother; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Roy Ray Anderson; and husband Butch South.

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Falling to earth: Looking back at tragedy

Falling to earth: Looking back at tragedy

With his final gasps, the pilot repeated the same question, over and over.

“Did I miss the little town? Did I miss the little town?”

Ronald W. Bender was a 40-year-old U.S. Army pilot from New York. His co-pilot was Scott J. Temple, 43, of nearby Irving. They were at the controls of a twin-rotor Chinook CH-47D on a routine training flight from Fort Hood to Fort Sill, Okla., when it went down in flames in a pasture about two-and-a-half miles northeast of Chico.

There were 18 servicemen on board. The date was Thursday, Feb. 25, 1988.

On Fire

ON FIRE – The Chinook CH-47D that crashed into a pasture in Chico in 1988 had a history of problems. The U.S. Army grounded its entire fleet of the large transport helicopters for almost two months in 1985 following an accident in Honduras that injured eight soldiers. Messenger illustration by Jimmy Alford

Department of Public Safety Trooper Paul Geiser was administering first aid to Bender.

“He was burned extremely bad,” said Robert Rankin, DPS sergeant and incident commander at the scene. “When Paul started administering first aid, the pilot kept saying, ‘Did I miss your little town?’ He was talking about Chico. That was his concern.

“The man was extremely thirsty, so Paul went to get him a wet rag to moisten his lips, but by the time he returned the pilot had passed.”

Both Bender and Temple died at the scene after ensuring the Chinook missed homes, businesses, highways and people as it hurdled to earth. The pilots were two of the six servicemen who died at the scene. Four more died later at area hospitals, bringing the toll to 10.

Rankin was in Decatur when he first heard the call come over the scanner at 3:29 p.m. When he looked up toward Chico from the hilltop in town, he could see a plume of dark smoke curling and ballooning into the sky on an unusually warm late February afternoon.

“I knew immediately it was pretty serious,” Rankin said. “But I had no idea it was a military Chinook with 18 men on board.”

The fiery Chinook fell apart for miles in the sky as gravity pulled it into the pasture.

“About two miles to the east of Chico, I began to see pieces of the aircraft lying next to the roadway or out in a pasture,” Rankin said. “Then as I got to the scene I saw the carnage.”

Teenagers Dale Christopher, Johnny McDaniel and Brad Clampitt were some of the first to arrive. Some of the men were still alive, their bodies still on fire. The young men used their T-shirts to put them out. Christopher was so affected by what he saw he later joined the U.S. Marines.

“There were 18 people on board this Chinook,” Rankin said. “And when we got there, there were 18 live bodies. After we arrived and set up triage, we started losing them.

“That’s the hard part, when you start helping someone, and forming a relationship with them, and then they pass on. That’s what I remember most. It was tough.”

One of the soldiers on board was unhurt.

From the Pages

FROM THE PAGES – Chico captured national attention after a Chinook CH-47D crashed just northeast of town Thursday afternoon, Feb. 25, 1988, killing 10 of 18 on board. This story ran in the Sunday, Feb. 28, edition of the Messenger.

“‘How did you get away without injury?’” Rankin asked. “He said the fire started in the back, and the Chinook was filling up with smoke. The transmission had caught fire. As the fire spread, all those aboard started crowding toward the front.”

Even though the aircraft lost power, it continued with a lot of forward momentum. As he saw the ground coming toward him, the soldier was able to bail out about 30 feet up. He landed and rolled in a coastal field without injury.

“One or two had jumped out right before it hit,” said Galen Wiley, a Chico Police Department officer at the time. “They weren’t even touched by fire. But those that rode it down … There was a catastrophic failure in the transmission system, and a fireball came through there.

“It’s a thousand wonders any of them survived. That pilot brought them down in an area, in a field, that wasn’t going to hurt anybody else, and he did it without it completely exploding. It could have been worse.”

On Scene

ON SCENE – From left, Doug Whitehead, Jerry Hattox, Galen Wiley and Kenny Jones composed the Chico Police Department in 1988. It was their responsibility to maintain a perimeter around the crash sight as the U.S. Army, including three officers from the Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., investigated the cause of an accident that killed 10 servicemen. Submitted photo


Wiley was a young police officer. He’d just completed certification training about three years prior. He was 22 and working part-time, dividing his time between patrolling at night and helping at his family’s hardware store on the Chico Square.

“I was right here in this office when I heard it on the scanner,” Wiley said. “They dispatched all the first responders, anybody that was available. I jumped out into the white Blazer and started heading that way.

“You kind of prepare yourself mentally for what you are fixing to see, whether it is a car wreck or crime scene. And usually whatever you can imagine is worse than what you see. I’m thinking it was a news helicopter with maybe four people, at the most, on board. That was as far as my imagination went that day.

“But when I got out there I saw heavy smoke and olive drab across the pasture. I thought this ain’t right. I don’t even know if this is a helicopter. There’s not enough left to tell.”

Rankin said it was impossible to identify what kind of aircraft it was.

“There was one rather large piece of wreckage about 6 or 8 feet tall and smaller pieces scattered everywhere,” he recalled.

“I cut straight across the pasture,” Wiley said. “I was running over terraces. My adrenaline is pumping by now.

“I get there and bodies are everywhere. There were already a lot of other people there, but they weren’t first responders. It was just people that saw it go down and went to see what they could do. They were there to help.

“It was like a war scene out there. If you were a Vietnam veteran and went out there, you’d probably have a flashback because all the bodies everywhere. I’d never seen anything that graphic – ever – and I never have since.”

Many of the victims were horribly burned.

“I had latex gloves on and we were helping load survivors onto CareFlite,” Wiley said. “I remember thinking at the time that these guys just crashed on a helicopter, and now we’re putting them on another one.

“Everywhere you touched them, because they were charred, you had to make sure you only touched them in one spot, because wherever you touched them was going to leave a break in the skin,” It was pretty rough.

“I can still see it if I close my eyes. One of them was looking at me, and we was charred black. And all I could see was the whites of his eyes. That still haunts me. It’s like his eyes were crying out ‘help me,’ and you knew he wasn’t going to last much longer.

“I did not have myself mentally prepared for what I was going to see. You can’t prepare yourself for the smell. It is a horrific smell. One of the worst smells there is is human hair burning.”

Paul Arrington Jr., 72, worked for Chico Auto Parts at that time. Their wrecker trucks played a vital role that day. Though the accident occurred on a clear warm day, the ground was thick and muddy from winter rains. As emergency vehicles moved through the fields, fighting the grass fires and getting to the injured, tires got mired in the muck again and again.

“I just happened to be standing in the door when the helicopter flew by,” Arrington said. “And I saw something the size of a barrel fall off of it. I knew something wasn’t right. Then boom! It went down. The fire trucks went out, and they were getting stuck. So we had to go out there and pull them out to keep things moving.”

Grass fires were breaking out across the pasture, located off County Road 1560.

“I never saw anything like that before or since, and I hope not to ever see anything like it again,” Arrington said.


Most of those who responded that day, from veteran first responders to rookie officers, had never witnessed such a loss of life or such grisly injuries. But at the time, counseling programs for first responders was rare. Most had to deal with it on their own.

“I did real good for a while,” Wiley said. “It’s funny how catastrophes affect people differently. Most first responders have different ways of dealing with what they see. I remember thinking I was macho. They had a debriefing for first responders if they wanted any counseling, to talk about it. I remember thinking, ‘We don’t need that. We’re tough.’

“Then on the third day it hit me. I’m out there in the back patio of my house and I’m crying like a baby. I’m still like that today. I’m fine until the third day. Then I unload.”

Rankin said sometimes it helps to isolate yourself from it.

“You realize it’s happening to someone else and not you or one of your loved ones,” he said. “That isolation kind of helps you move on. Even though you feel sorrow for those involved, too much of that sorrow will get a hold of you. So you kind of isolate yourself from all the pain and loss and carnage. But that was the most loss of life I’ve experienced at one time.

“After that incident, it was so massive that one of the local churches offered counseling for all the men and women involved. I remember neither me nor any of my troopers attended. We just talked it over amongst ourselves. It’s unfortunate we didn’t attend. We probably should have.

“It was a massive scene, and we all had to deal with it. As emergency response has improved, counseling has become more mandatory. A lot of us didn’t get it like we should have. But we dealt with it in our own way.”

Times have changed. It’s common now for first responders to go through some type of counseling or time off after dealing with certain situations.

“We used to never bring in counselors, now we do every time,” said Doug Whitehead. Now chief deputy with Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Whitehead was Chico’s police chief when the Chinook crashed.

“We now have what I call a cathartic dumping, you just lay everything out there,” he said. “Then the counselor decides if someone is having serious issues and needs more counseling. Others just need to go through a debriefing, and they’re ready to get back out there.”

In the late 1990s, it became a lot more common to bring in counselors.

“It’s the same in law enforcement now like it is in schools,” Whitehead said. “Counselors are brought in. Back then you just dealt with it. We never thought about it. There was a transition, finding that it would be necessary for some officers. Some are OK, but others are going to have trouble handling it.

“We all deal with it in different ways. You may have trouble sleeping at night after. I might start having increased arguments with my wife or falling off in my job and duties because my mind is preoccupied. These events that we attend or investigate, they do have an affect on you.

“It’s something every first responder has to deal with.”


The Wise County tradition of agencies working together is something that can give comfort when a crisis strikes, even one as overwhelming as the Chinook crash of 1988.

Rankin was a DPS officer for almost 29 years. He joined in 1972, and right out of recruit school he was stationed at Decatur. He worked there eight years, then was promoted to supervisor in 1981 and stationed in Laredo. He transferred back to Decatur in 1983 in a supervisor position and remained there until 2001.

“A special thing about Wise County, and I recognized this when I left and went to Laredo, was the working relationship that all the agencies, all the first responders, have,” he said. “When we arrived, we worked together as a unit and did what was best for those in need … It’s unbelievable how everyone would pitch in and did what needed to be done.”

“All the first responders who showed up were immediately tending to the injured, regardless of the fire or what kind of hazard it was,” he said. “Everybody jumped in and started helping the injured. Everybody was doing their job. I never even had to stand up and say I’m incident commander. Everybody knew what they had to do and did it.”

“We lived in a quiet community,” Whitehead said. “We never had much worse than car crashes. But we did the best we could.”

Whitehead received a plaque from the city of Chico for his efforts at the scene. Last Friday, for more than 30 years of service to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, he received the Bo Wright Memorial “Riding for the Brand Award.”


For years after the crash Wiley continued to deal with those directly affected.

“I used to take survivors … out there,” he said. “Parents and family from as far away as Pennsylvania would want to come and see the crash site. That’s a natural, human instinct. You want to see where it happened. You want some closure.

“Some wanted to make sure it wasn’t some government cover-up, and it actually happened like they were told. Every time I took one out there we’d find some debris. I bet you can still find some debris out there today.”

“One minute you’re flying in the air like that and then you’re dead,” Whitehead said. “These people never had a chance to say goodbye to those they loved. In a matter of seconds, you think about how many people that crash affected.”

Some of those the first responders saved have gone on to help others.

Capt. Calvin Turner was 30 when the aircraft went down. Following an extended hospital stay and rehabilitation, he medically retired from the Army with 11 years of active duty service. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995. He then founded a firm in Austin devoted to assisting U.S. military service members and veterans in financial management.

Due to the efforts of the two pilots, Turner and seven of his fellow officers were able to live out their lives.

And no one in the little town of Chico was hurt – anywhere except their hearts.


  • Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth R. Simpson, 36, of Honey Grove
  • Capt. Michael J. Monahan, 35, of Kingston, Pa.
  • 1st Lt. Donald G. O’Quinn, 24, of Purvis, Miss.
  • 1st Lt. Christopher D. Kurkowsky, 23, of Miles City, Mont.
  • 1st Lt. Charles P. Moses, 24, of Dallas
  • 1st Lt. Lynn Dial, 31, of Iowa
  • 1st Lt. Wayne Locklin, 24, of Parlin, N.J.
  • Staff Sgt. Raymond T. Hill, 31, of Michigan
  • CW 4 Ronald W. Bender, 40, pilot, of New York
  • CW 4 Scott J. Temple, 43, of Irving


  • Staff Sgt. Paul Stroud, 26, of Fort Worth
  • Staff Sgt. Rafael Adame, 27, of San Antonio
  • Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Cook, 36, of Jacksonville
  • 1st Lt. Steven L. Casteel, 26, of Arkansas
  • 1st Lt. Richard Fields, 25, of Clementon, N.J.
  • Capt. Calvin Turner, 30, of Killeen
  • Sgt. 1st Class Frank A. Prather, 32, Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Spec. 4 Paul L. Patricio, 20, of Seattle, Wash.

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Chico school board seeks pricing on facility projects

A month after hearing a report that identified facility needs of the school district, Chico ISD school board members Monday began taking a closer look at those areas.

Tony Apel with WRA Architects of Dallas, who gave the report at last month’s meeting, was on hand again to go through the list of high- and medium-priority needs as identified by the facilities review committee. The idea was to have board members identify which of those items needed further study, including price estimates.

Overall, the board asked for pricing estimates on most of the items on the list, which includes:

  • Elementary – cafeteria theatrical lighting and stage curtain, site drainage on the north and south sides, extended parent pick-up lane, numerous security items, covered sidewalks for pick-up and drop-off, occupancy sensors for the classrooms, audio communication to the exterior and more exterior lighting
  • Middle school – replacement of HVAC units, window replacement, roof replacement, numerous security items, locker room light upgrades, better parking lot lighting, site drainage on south side, sidewalks and audio communication to exterior
  • High school – new ag barn facility, numerous security items, softball field resurfacing, more exterior lighting, additional front parking area and new concessions and restroom at the baseball/softball facility
  • District – security cameras at sporting areas, paving parking lot at football field and water capture for irrigation at football field

Apel said he would work on preliminary pricing and planning and report back to the board. None of the projects have been approved yet.

In other business from Monday’s special meeting, the board approved a resolution to pay employees for missed instructional days due to bad weather and approved a shared services arrangement with Bluebonnet Co-op for students with visual impairments.

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Baseball Roundup: Dragons split crazy doubleheader with Whitewright

The Chico Dragons and Whitewright combined for 82 runs Saturday, splitting a wacky doubleheader.

The Dragons took the first game with the football-game like score of 42-19.

Chico pounded out 25 hits. The Dragons scored 10 in the first, 12 in the second, 11 in the third and nine in the fourth. The game was stopped after the top of the fifth.

Three Chico players finished with more than six RBIs. Tyler Melton drove in nine on four hits, including a double and a home run. Kalan Johnson and Hagen Davis, who homered, collected six RBIs each. Johnson, Brady North and Jaston McBee scored six times apiece.

After that offensive explosion, Chico managed only one run on two hits in the nightcap, falling 20-1 in five innings to Whitewright. The Tigers plated seven in the first, four in the second, two in the third, five in the fourth and two in the fifth.

Chico’s lone run came in the fifth. Victor DeLeon drove in Marshall Anderle, who had doubled.

Though hitting .118 and going 2-for-17 in the second game, Chico is still batting .519 as a team on the strength of the first game.


The Decatur Eagles dropped their final three games at the North Texas Tournament of Champions.

Kennedale beat Decatur 17-4. Lindale knocked off the Eagles 16-3. Mineral Wells handed Decatur a 5-1 loss.

Mason Baur tripled and drove in three of the Eagles’ runs against Kennedale.

In the Lindale game, Clayton Egle went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.

Against Mineral Wells, Egle knocked in the Eagles’ lone run.


The Bridgeport Bulls finished 2-3 at the North Texas Tournament of Champions over the weekend.

After losses to Burkburnett and Mineral Wells, the Bulls beat Springtown, 7-0, and Lake Worth, 10-5.

Alex Samples pitched a scoreless seven innings against Springtown, scattering four hits and striking out three. He also drove in two runs. James Gray went 2-for-3 with a RBI.

Samples went 3-for-3 with two doubles and scored four runs in the Bulls’ win over Lake Worth.


Brandon Hardee drove in three runs and Tyler Kemp two as the Boyd Yellowjackets knocked off Valley View 7-6 to win the Nocona Tournament.

Evan Stephenson picked up the win, and Sonny McCarmack got the save.

Boyd went 4-0 at the tournament.

Boyd started with a 15-5 win over Petrolia. Kemp went 4-for-4 with four RBIs. Cameron Clark also knocked in four with three hits.

The Yellowjackets beat Nocona 9-3 behind three RBIs and three runs from Kemp. Clay Barnett earned the win.

Boyd outlasted Muenster 8-6 with Rett Sears and Fino Cardona driving in two each with two hits.


After losing the first game, the Paradise Panthers rallied to take the final two at the Pottsboro Tournament.

Paradise hammered the host Cardinals 14-5 behind a big day at the plate for Skylar Black, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Colton Brown and Austin Hogan each knocked in two.

Jarret Holt struck out seven in three innings of work.

Paradise scored five runs in the fifth to beat Bonham 8-6.

Colton Meadows drove in three and doubled, and Holt hit a home run and knocked in two.

Dillon Meadows worked four innings, striking out 10 and allowed three runs on one hit with three walks.


The Northwest Texans went 3-3 over the weekend, including 2-2 Friday and Saturday, at the Burleson Elk Tournament.

After a loss to South Grand Prairie, the Texans bounced back with an 11-5 win over Azle and 9-8 over Mansfield Summit.

Northwest scored eight in the first against Azle. Tanner Diminuco had three doubles, going 4-for-4 and scoring three times.

Alex Perez homered and doubled, knocking in four in the win over Summit. Victor DeJesus also homered for the Texans.

Weatherford scored two in the final two innings to beat Northwest 7-6. Collin Rhodes hit a second-inning grand slam for the Texans.

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Hall inks with Ranger

In her two seasons with the Chico Lady Dragons, Breann Hall played a variety of roles including hitting, defense and setter.

As a senior, versatile Hall posted 265 attacks, 490 sets and 132 digs.

“She’s got great hands as a setter and quickness getting to the ball,” said Chico coach Missy Patterson. “She was also one of my best hitters and is great on defense. She’s so versatile.”

Signing On

SIGNING ON – Chico’s Breann Hall signed a letter of intent Monday with Ranger Junior College to play volleyball. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Hall will now take that versatility to Ranger Junior College after inking a letter of intent this week.

Hall recently tried out at the school and received a scholarship offer shortly after.

“I also tried out at Cisco,” Hall said. “As soon as I went to Ranger, she offered.

“I plan to work my hardest and do what I can.”

Ranger coach Hayley Cobza said she has five sophomores returning this year but expects the hard-working Hall to compete for playing time.

“Whoever works the hardest plays,” Cobza said. “She’s a hard worker and is willing to learn. She’s very coachable. Those are hard to come by.”

After making the transition to playing setter this past year for the Lady Dragons, Hall expects to return to being a hitter or defensive specialist at Ranger. She knows she has work to do to get ready to play at the next level.

“I have to stay in shape this summer. I will be getting some private lessons,” Hall said. “I need to work on my vertical and quickness.”

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7 Chico lifters advance to state meet

Shortly after moving over to Chico from Decatur, Heath Tullous saw some of the girls in his new program in the weightroom.

“When they showed up for summer workouts, I saw we had some strong girls here,” Tullous said. “There was a gold mine here. They just needed a little push.”

Going to Corpus

GOING TO CORPUS – Seven Chico lifters qualified for the state powerlifting meet in Corpus Christi March 14-15. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

In his second year running the girls powerlifting squad, Chico is now sending seven lifters on to the Texas High School Woman’s Powerlifting meet in Corpus Christi March 14 and 15.

Ana Rodriguez, Alli York, Charley Biggerstaff, Breann Hall, Matison Rhodes, Corey Tate and Heidi Spann earned trips to state, finishing in the top two among Class A lifters in their weight classes Saturday at the Region 6 Division 3 meet in Leonard. The meet included Class 2A and A lifters.

“I’m very proud of us. It’s only our second year,” Biggerstaff said.

Tullous said his team had only two in position for state spots going into the final lift.

“The other five had to pull certain weights and make the other lifters try to do more than they could do,” Tullous said.

Biggerstaff finished second in the 123-pound class, lifting a total of 610 pounds. She squatted 250, bench pressed 100 and pulled 260 on deadlift.

“I got the job done,” she said. “I wanted to get more on deadlift.

“I’m real excited [about state]. I’ve worked really hard to get there.”

Tate also medaled for Chico, finishing fourth in the 148-pound class, lifting 635 pounds.

“I did really good with this being my first year,” she said. “At the beginning of the year, I had no experience and was learning as I go. I was freaking out the night before regionals.”

She recorded a squat of 255, bench press of 115 and deadlift of 265. Her bench press tied her with a Leonard lifter for fourth. Tate earned the medal because she weighed a pound less.

Rodriguez lifted 405 in the 97-pound class to earn one of the two Class A state spots. York had the top Class A lift with a total of 505 in the 114-pound division.

Mattison tallied 570, and Hall 550 in the 132-pound class as both advanced.

Spann lifted a total of 575 in the 165-pound division.

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51 from Wise on Weatherford College dean’s list

More than 450 students – including 51 from Wise County – were named to the Weatherford College Dean’s List for the fall 2013 semester.

To be eligible for the Dean’s List, a student must be enrolled for 12 or more semester hours, have no grade lower than a C and meet the minimum grade- point average. The GPA system is based on a one-to-four rating.

Earning the honor from Wise County were:

Alvord: Trevor Hardee; Shelbi Harmon and Alexandria Talamantes.

Aurora: Victor Ramirez and Bertie Sellers.

Boyd: Derek Martin and Carolina McDowell.

Bridgeport: Ana Caldera; Torie Carter; Sharlyn Fagan; Taylor Hulsey; Danielle Mindieta and Autumn Pickett.

Chico: Hannah Avants; Karla Deamicis; Damian Delgado; Callie Fuller; Luke Plummer; James Redwine; Vanessa Saxon; Molli Umphress; Tiffany Vislosky and Kaylee Wriston.

Decatur: Rosaura Aldape; Victoria Aldape; Monica Bernard; Carissa Byrd; Steven Cao; Araceli Cruz; Sarrah Ennis; Elda Garcia; Brittany Hargrave; Sara Harris; Kasidi Heiens; Victoria Myers; Christina Overton; Brandon Pelton; Venancio Rodriguez; Liliana Torres and Omar Torres.

Sunset: Austin Gaskins and Brittani Martin.

Newark: Savannah Brooks.

Paradise: Lacy Jackson; Sara Kelly; Amber Kirkland; Carol McCutchen and William Ngetich.

Rhome: Haley McGuire, Bethlyn Prentice and Lisa Shearer.

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