GPA policy change affects Decatur freshmen, sophomores

Decatur school officials hope changes in the way grade point averages are calculated will put less emphasis on grades and more emphasis on preparing students for life after high school.

That goes for incoming sophomores as well as freshmen, following action taken Monday by the Decatur school board.

Changes to the GPA policy were made in March, to affect classes beginning with incoming freshmen. The six-point scale will be eliminated, and only advanced courses such as pre-AP, AP and dual-credit courses will carry a potential five points. Core classes – English, math, science, social studies and a foreign language – will be on the four-point scale.

Incoming juniors and seniors will continue to use the previous GPA policy.

Last month, the board discussed the possibility of applying the new GPA policy to incoming sophomores as well. Notifications were sent to sophomore parents over the past month to inform them of the possible changes and to get feedback.

Judi Bell, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said she had received only one phone call from a parent asking for more explanation.

“What we want parents to understand more than anything else is we are trying to broaden the choices for that sophomore class,” Bell said. “We really feel like this is a better GPA system that allows students to pursue the electives they want.

“It seems to be a detriment (under the old system) if they had to take a 4-point class, and it would actually bring down their GPA if they were trying for all the advanced classes,” she added. “This way, they can try an elective, take things they might not otherwise take without penalty to their GPA.”

The changes are taking place as schools across the state implement the required changes to graduation plans outlined in House Bill 5. Gone (at least beginning with the incoming freshmen) are the minimum, recommended and distinguished plans. Students will now be required to take the foundation plan. They will also be able to earn an endorsement on one of five “pathways” designed to help students take courses to prepare them for a college or a career.

Under the new GPA policy, grades earned for courses not calculated into the GPA will still be listed on the student’s transcript, meaning colleges will still be able to see those grades.

One hope with the policy change is that students will be encouraged to take tougher classes.

“At some point, the kids have to understand they have to look past today,” board president Kevin Haney said. “They’ve got to look at those electives, even if they are harder, it’s going to prepare them for either college or going into a work environment as opposed to taking some class that is easy. They need to challenge themselves.”

Board member Diana Mosley repeated concerns she had expressed at an earlier meeting about eliminating the six-point scale for AP courses. She said students who put forth the effort for the rigorous course should still be rewarded with the higher grading scale.

High school counselor Neal Hall told the board the school is prepared for schedule changes due to the new policy, adding that it’s not uncommon to deal with schedule changes in the summer and beginning of school.

The board voted 5-1 to apply the new GPA policy to sophomores as well as freshmen. Mosley cast the opposing vote.


Bell also gave a presentation on the preliminary Performance Index Summary, which has replaced the AEIS data in the state’s school accountability system. She explained that the performance indicators are grouped into four indexes:

  • student achievement (STAAR results),
  • student progress,
  • closing performance gaps, and
  • postsecondary readiness.

She cautioned board members that comparing this year’s results to last year’s was like comparing “apples to oranges” since the scoring system is different.

All DISD campuses received a “met standard” rating except for McCarroll’s sixth grade campus, which was rated “improvement required.”

Bell explained that the campus missed meeting the standard by one point in the scoring system. She said six students were not counted in the rating since their scores from last year could not be located as a point of comparison on the student progress index.

Bell said those students likely transferred into the district and were entered into the system by a different name or some other coding error. Of the six, four passed the STAAR test.

The district will attempt to correct those errors and appeal the rating in hopes of bringing the campus up to the “met standard” level.

The school board also recognized the district’s three school resource officers – Zachary Berrier, Kevin Flake and Richard Hale – as support staff employees of the month.

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Decatur to raise tax, water rates

The numbers aren’t pretty, but they balance.

The Decatur City Council faced several tough choices in its budget process this year, from higher raw water costs to a big jump in debt service. They emerged from a Monday budget workshop with a proposed spending plan that raises both the property tax rate and rates for water and sewer customers.

City Finance Director Brad Burnett presented the highlights at a 4 p.m. budget workshop.

Next year’s budget, for the first time, caps the city’s spending on health insurance. It limits employee raises to 2 percent but leaves council members looking to the Economic Development Corp. board for a smidgen of tax relief.

“The meat of these budgets, between the salary increases and the capital, is very lean,” City Manager Brett Shannon told the council.

Under the proposed budget, the property tax rate goes from 67.3 cents to 71.7 cents – a 4.4-cent increase that comes in just below the rollback rate of 71.76 cents. That will bring in about $259,000 more tax dollars this year than last.

But the council hopes the EDC board will find a way to free up a little more funding for the Decatur Civic Center and provide the overall city budget with some tax relief.

“I’d like to explore the EDC option,” council member Randy Bowker said. “Even if it just gets you down from 4.4 to 4 cents, or 3-1/2, everything helps.”

Three council members sit on the EDC board, which meets Thursday.

Residential water and sewer customers can expect to see increases in the 16 to 20 percent range on their monthly bills. For 2,000 gallons, the bill goes from $42.28 to $51.08 a month, while 7,500-gallon customers will see their bills rise from $71.98 to $85.25.

Commercial customers are looking at increases of 17 to 26 percent, depending on use.

Several of the increases in the 2014-15 budget were outside the city’s control, Burnett pointed out. Those included:

  • $127,000 in raw water costs from Tarrant Regional Water District;
  • $189,781 in increased debt service – something the city knew was coming; and
  • $71,543 more for the city’s deposit to the Texas Municipal Retirement System.

The council also opted for a 2 percent cost of living raise for employees – an additional $143,140 – but capped the amount the city will pay for dependent health insurance at $500.

As a result, health insurance costs actually went down $104,000 despite a 19-percent rate increase from carrier Blue Cross/Blue Shield. But some city employees will likely take home less money in the coming year.

The city’s capital budget also went up $112,000.

The water department faced what Shannon called a “perfect storm” as a result of higher raw water costs and lower use.

“I’m sure there’s going to be some grumbling,” he said. “I don’t know how you get around it. People do what you ask them to do – conserve water – and then you thank them by increasing the rates.”

In addition to raw water, costs for the chemicals used to treat the water, as well as the electricity to run the pumps in the city’s plants and lift stations, have gone up dramatically.

Public Works Director Earl Smith said even with the rate increases, the department will still be on a tight budget this year.

“This water rate still underperforms by $75,000,” he told the council. “If we sell a little more water, it looks a lot better.”

It was pointed out that rates had not been raised for three years.

“Raising rates is never popular, but as you can see, year-by-year our costs go up,” Smith said. “When you put it off two or three years, those delayed increases compound on you.”

The council approved the 71.70-cent proposed tax rate at its meeting, which was held after the budget workshop but noted that may come down depending on what the EDC board can do on Civic Center costs.

Another public hearing will be held on the tax rate next Monday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m., and a final hearing on the budget and tax rate is Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m. – the day after Labor Day.

Council member Jay Davidson, who served on the committee that hammered out the proposed budget, said the task was not easy.

“We cut a lot of things that people wanted, out of each department,” he said. “To do what we had to do, and keep a little bit of cushion in there for emergency stuff, there was no way to avoid raising taxes.”

The budget proposes total revenues and expenses of $14,914,724. The water fund’s budget is $4,360,190 while the general fund budget is $10,554,534.

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Decatur EDC board to swear in Joiner

Matt Joiner, associate dean of Weatherford College Wise County, will be sworn in as a new member of the board of the Decatur Economic Development Corp. when the board meets Thursday, Aug. 21.

The meeting is 9 a.m. in the EDC office at 106 N. Trinity.

Joiner was appointed June 23 by the Decatur City Council but was unable to attend the July meeting. After he is sworn in, the board will get down to business on an agenda that includes:

  • adoption of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year;

  • discussion of a change in the performance agreement for United Rotocraft, a company whose facility is located at the Decatur Airport;
  • discussion of a tour the board took of the Springtown Splash Park Aug. 8;
  • updates from EDC Executive Director Mary Poche on other activities;
  • a closed session to talk about economic development negotiations and the purchase of property; and
  • back in open session, discussion of and possible action on two proposals for Project Sidekick.

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Celebrating Back to School

Celebrating Back to School

Celebrating Back to School 1

Jacob Rios, 8, of Decatur devours cotton candy at a Back-2-School Carnival Saturday at the Bridgeport Community Center. The event, for youth with special needs and their families, was sponsored by Wise County Special Needs Baseball. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Celebrating Back to School 2

Kade Frizzell, 9, of Decatur stops playing long enough to get a hug from his mom, Mary Frizzell. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Making Preparations 1

Young Elementary staff members (from left) Jean Miller, Mimi Aldape, Tami Blythe, Rebecca Bryson, Principal Gabe Keese and Debbie Frie are surrounded by teacher goody bags Tuesday afternoon. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Making Preparations 2

Debbie Frie jokes about pulling her hair out as she, along with other school employees across the county, frantically prepare for students to arrive next week. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Cross Country: Palomo, Wilson lead way in trial; Seven Lady Eagles finish under 13:19

As a crowd cheered her in, Georgina Palomo strolled across the finish line Saturday morning in Decatur’s two-mile time trial.

Palomo turned in the Lady Eagles’ top time of 12:50 on the winding course around Decatur High School and Carson Elementary.

Flying to Finish

FLYING TO FINISH – Decatur’s Georgina Palomo and Jessica Kyle turn a corner during the Lady Eagles’ two-mile time trial at Decatur High School Saturday. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

“I felt good about the time,” Palomo said. “I didn’t think I was going to win. I was just running.”

Palomo finished four seconds in front of Jessica Kyle.

“It went good. I went out at the right speed,” Kyle said. “The 12:52 was good for a time trial and also considering we had a hard workout this week.”

Nicole Neighbors turned in a 13:09. Taylor Butler ran 13:12, Elizabeth Culpepper 13:13, Paola Palomo 13:17 and Lluvia Ramos 13:19.

“For this early that’s awesome,” said Decatur coach David Park. “We had a good tight spread.”

Park also was impressed with the times considering the workout during the week.

“I wasn’t going to lay off for a time trial,” he said. “We worked out hard this week.”

Tyler Wilson turned in the best boys time, 10:49, over the two miles.

“It was way better than last year,” Wilson said. “I don’t remember my time, it was so bad.”

The Eagles’ top eight boys all turned in times under 12:12.

“It’s a real good start,” Wilson said.

Parker Cullop ran 11:20 as the second boys finisher.

“I felt good. It’s really early in the season, and there’s a lot of time to get better,” Cullop said.

Charlie Dobrava finished in 11:30. Bryse Hoyt ran 11:42, and Hunter Helm 11:48. Allan Allsbrooks, Joaquin Aldape and Cason Lowe crossed the finish line in 12:12.

“We were missing one,” Park said. “We’ve got to keep them tight. We can’t win like last year. We’ve got to hit like a fist.”

Decatur opens the season this week at the Friday Night Hawk Invite.

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Football: Eagles find mixed results in scrimmage

Football: Eagles find mixed results in scrimmage

In their first live action of the fall, the Decatur Eagles showed mixed results against preseason 4A Division I top-10 Kennedale Friday.

Kennedale outscored Decatur 9-4 on the night, including 3-1 in the live half.

For a starting point, Decatur coach Mike Fuller said he saw some good and bad on the evening as his squad still learns the new offensive and defensive schemes from a new staff.

Reaching Out

REACHING OUT – A Kennedale tackler grabs Decatur quarterback Justin Myers by the hand during the teams’ scrimmage Friday at Eagle Stadium. Myers threw for three scores on the night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I saw good effort. There was some confusion at times,” Fuller said. “We’ve been focused on ourselves and didn’t scheme for [their wing-T]. I was a little disappointed we were soft on the edges at times on defense. Offensively, I was pretty pleased. In the scrimmage, we fumbled once, but we put together some good drives offensively.”

Defensively, the Eagles gave up two big scoring plays in the live half – runs of 39 and 83 yards. Kennedale also put together three scoring drives of eight plays or more.

“We have a lot of room for improvement,” said Decatur linebacker Cole Vaughan. “We’re working hard every day. Tonight was a little hectic getting things together. We’ll show up next week and fix what we had problems with tonight.”

Kennedale runners were able to keep some plays alive by breaking tackles on the edges. Decatur made three tackles for losses in the scrimmage, including a sack by linebacker Jacob Kevetter.

Cornerback Brandon Garza picked off a pass during the live half.

Offensively, quarterback Justin Myers turned in a solid showing in his debut as the Decatur starter. The senior was 14-for-22 for 278 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions in the live half – on a third-and-long.

“The offensive line did really well,” Myers said. “We stopped ourselves a few times. The two turnovers were on me. I’ve got to get that fixed.”

Myers added 73 yards on 11 rushes. He said the offense worked best when it was pushing the tempo.

“When we start slowing down, I personally start making mistakes,” Myers said.

Myers opened the scrimmage connecting on five of his first six passes, including a 19-yard touchdown to Payton McAlister. McAlister also hauled in a 37-yard score from Myers in Decatur’s second offensive set.

The second touchdown to McAlister came two plays after Myers hit speedster Gunnar Parker in stride behind the Kennedale coverage for a 70-yard score.

The Eagles’ only score in the live half was a 44-yard connection from Myers to Ryan Durdon.

Freshman running back Mario Reyes made an impression, carrying the ball seven times for 63 yards. He broke one run for 33 yards.

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Volleyball: Decatur stays atop 4A poll

After finishing seventh in the prestigious Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational, the Decatur Lady Eagles retained their spot atop Class 4A.

The defending state champion and preseason No. 1 team stayed atop the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll after their 5-3 showing at the tournament, which was filled with the top teams in the state. Decatur (7-3) was the lone 4A squad in the event.

After going 2-1 in pool play, Decatur won its way into the gold bracket with a sweep of Rouse Friday. The Lady Eagles then beat Flower Mound Marcus and Austin Westlake in two games each to move into the tournament quarterfinals.

Host Pearland, ranked No. 5 in 6A, stopped Decatur 25-19, 25-18. The Lady Eagles ended the tournament with a three-game loss to Alamo Heights, ranked third in 5A, 23-25, 25-19, 15-9.

Decatur hit the floor again Tuesday night against another ranked foe, 5A’s ninth-ranked Aledo.

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Think twice about waiving adoption fees

Waiving adoption fees creates a profound issue for all municipal shelters or rescue agencies.

All agencies want to see animals adopted, not killed; however, not charging a fee means any animal adopted has zero value. A dog or cat with zero value means that potentially the first time that animal requires medical attention or a pet deposit, or is not spayed or neutered and produces an unwanted litter, that dog or cat is discarded.

Nearly all North Texas shelters, including no-kill and rescue agencies, are full and overflowing with dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Most municipal shelters are space-based, which means they must kill animals not adopted within a time frame to make room for new animals coming in.

Everyone hopes that anyone adopting a dog or cat seeks a family companion in a home environment and the pet will be loved and well taken care of. People seeking a pet for those reasons will pay a fee. Those fees help cover the cost of caring for unwanted, lost or abandoned dogs and cats.

Free adoptions, even though sponsored by others, mean no income, and no income means less care.

The only exception I see would be waiving an adoption fee for a special needs or older dog or cat or for placement in a senior’s home. Free, or just hand-them-over adoptions help no one and create unnecessary stress for all adoption agencies competing for a home for every dog or cat.

These “free” animals tend to be abandoned or returned to a shelter when a family moves or goes on vacation or lifestyle changes put a strain on feeding them. Sometimes puppies and kittens are adopted and once grown do not “fit” into a particular lifestyle and are discarded as adults and a new puppy or kitten is then adopted. Why not? They didn’t cost anything in the first place! This creates more strain on the shelter.

Zero value also opens the door for an “adopted” dog, cat, puppy or kitten to be used as bait for dog fighting. There are cases of reptile owners and breeders seeking unspayed cats or small dogs with newborn or young kittens or puppies for use as a food source for their large reptiles. These people can fool anyone into thinking the dogs and cats are going to a loving home. Why pay a fee when so many “free” animals are available?

Yes, Wise County needs to “clear out the shelter” – but at what risk to the dog or cat adopted for nothing?

Yes, that dog or cat has a chance of life if adopted, versus no chance when its time is up in a kill shelter. But which is better – death by dog fighting, as a food source, starvation, disease or cruelty versus a shelter environment with food, water, a dry bed and, if not adopted, death by humane injection?

Please think about your pet dog or cat. Oppose “free” adoptions to just anyone. Give every shelter and rescue agency a chance to care for and properly place that pet by charging a fee.

Kristina Walden

Posted in Letters to the Editor0 Comments

Jo Celeste Adcock

Jo Celeste Adcock

Jo Celeste Adcock, 83, a retired secretary, died Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Decatur.

No services are scheduled at this time.

Jo was born July 28, 1931, in Round Pond, Ark., to Roy and Gracie (Graves) Mooneyham. She married Leiland Adcock Aug. 18, 1950, in Comanche. Jo was a secretary for Mitchell Energy until her retirement.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Leiland Adcock of Chico; son Jerry Adcock of Chico; daughter Margie Davis of Euless; four grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; seven great-great-grandchildren; sister Ranelle Carter of Fort Worth; other family members; and many friends.

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Geree Meree Kirby

Geree Meree Kirby

Geree Meree Kirby, 97, died Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service is 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 17, at Elmwood Cemetery in Bowie with her nephew, Dr. Jim Kirby, officiating. Burial is under the direction of Shaw’s Funeral Home in Bowie.

Geree was born April 5, 1917, in Crafton to Wiley and Dora Higgs. She married Hobby Kirby April 4, 1940, in Wellington. Mrs. Kirby was a devoted member of the Methodist Church and 72-year member of the Grand Chapter of Texas, Order of the Eastern Star in Dumas.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; sister Wilma Huntington; and brothers Jimmy Higgs, Weldon Higgs, M.L. Higgs and Billy Jack Higgs.

She is survived by her sister-in-law, Maxine Higgs; niece Kasi Elder and husband, Jeff; nephew Jay Higgs and wife, Amber; great-nephews Erik and Bryce Elder and Hunter Higgs, all of Decatur.

There are numerous other nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, as well as her extended family and friends at Governor’s Ridge in Decatur.

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Wanda Raynette Wilson

Wanda Raynette Wilson

Wanda Raynette Wilson, 78, a homemaker, died Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the First Baptist Church in Decatur with Ken May officiating. Burial will be at Oaklawn Cemetery under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home of Decatur.

Pallbearers are Harrison Haney, Robert Wilson, Zack Zamzow, Blake Haney, Kevin Haney, Jeff Sicking, Dean Miller and Colt Mahan.

Raynette was born Dec. 31, 1935, to Marvin and Wanda (Barnard) Stone in Mineral Wells. She married Robert Malcolm Wilson July 15, 1954, in Decatur. Raynette enjoyed being a homemaker and was a member of the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Survivors include her husband of 60 years, Bobby Wilson of Decatur; daughters Pam Goodwin and Lisa Zamzow, both of Decatur; sons Clay Wilson and Bart Wilson, both of Decatur; daughter Julie Haney and husband, Kevin, of Decatur; grandchildren Jessica, Whitney, Claire, Maggie, Zack, Kelsey, Bonnie, Robert, Blake, Morgan and Harrison; great-grandchildren William, Skylar, Ava and Beau; sister Carol McGee of Savannah.

Memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

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Making the most of every day

Making the most of every day

Harley Don Baker walked into a Starbucks in Euless on a Wednesday afternoon looking healthy and fit.

A far cry from the child who graced the pages of the Messenger decades ago, he is bald, with a beard, and stands at average height.

He’s 28 now – 26 years removed from the liver transplant that changed his life, made it possible for him to have a life.

It’s likely Harley Don Baker’s name is still familiar to many in this area.

Harley and Anna Baker

Harley and Anna Baker. Submitted photo

Born with biliary atresia, a blockage in the ducts that transport bile from the liver to the gallbladder, Baker became a minor celebrity in Wise County back in the late 80s, when several fundraisers and benefits were held to raise money for his liver transplant.

Baker finally got his new liver as a two-year-old in 1989 – something he’s been thankful for ever since. But aside from the fact that he has someone else’s liver, he’s just like most other members of the millennial generation.

He waited seven years to get married to his longtime girlfriend, Anna, in 2012, and says that they’re waiting to have kids. He’s gone from job to job trying to find one that fulfills him, including a 10-year stint in retail and a short time as a corrections officer at Bridgeport PD.

He is a Christian who believes in Jesus, but says he is still “searching and researching everything about that, because I want to understand what I believe.” And he’s come to terms with the fact he’s still alive, although that, too, has taken some time.

“I grew up with this deep sense of ambition, ’cause I was told, ‘God saved you for a reason,’” he said. “I would think, ‘I’ve got to achieve big things, I’ve got to make things of myself.’

“I felt like most of my life I was living for two people – myself, and the person who donated me their liver.” It was a lot to live up to.

Baby Harley

BABY HARLEY – Baker is shown in this Messenger archive photo from February 1988 at a charity event to raise money for his liver transplant. Messenger archive photo

Baker said once he understood he could create meaning from what happened by just living life to the fullest, he became a lot happier.

“I’ve come to realize, there’s a lot of different meanings for success,” Baker said. “So my goal is no longer to be a superhero or the president of the United States or an astronaut or a lawyer. The goal now is to take the life that I’ve been given and live it to the most meaningful that I can – be the best husband to my wife that I can, be as good as a human being to others as I can.”

He said he is indeed grateful for the support he received from Wise County as a youngster, and hopes it didn’t go unnoticed as he grew up.

“Every time I look at old pictures, it’s eye-opening. I see things that I haven’t seen before,” he said. “There’s a picture of me as a kid with the Dallas Cowboys. For me? That little guy? It’s eye-opening, and it was awesome that people could come together to help my family.

“The people of Wise County deserve to know what they did was helpful, and that I’m happy.”

More than $67,000 was raised for Baker’s new liver in 1989. He said the biggest thing the transplant gave him was an appreciation for life.

“Because, not only did I almost not make it, there was a child who didn’t make it, so I could live,” Baker said. “I don’t understand how anybody could go through something like that and not have an appreciation for life.”

Baker still has to check in with a doctor once a month, and takes medication for his liver. Alcohol is out of the question, and his diet has to be carefully regulated, as does his exercise regimen. He has a sonogram twice a year and an angiogram – a procedure where a camera examines blood vessels through catheter insertion – once a year. He can’t eat too soon before bed, or his gastritis will flare up and cause him pain when he wakes up the next day.

“But all that said, that’s why I’m here,” he said. “I wouldn’t take it back for nothin’.”

In fact, he’s still getting help from Wise County – a trust fund remains in place at First Methodist Church for any medical expenses Baker might experience as a result of his liver transplant.

Dr. Charles Cocanaugher, who was on the Decatur Chamber of Commerce at the time of the trust fund’s inception, said more than $40,000 was raised for the fund after Baker’s transplant, and that about half of that remains now. It’s currently managed by The First Methodist Church of Decatur.

“[Harley's] story is just a miracle, and I think that trust fund is just a testament to our community pitching in to help him,” Cocanaugher said.

One gets the feeling that perhaps because he received so much attention as a child, Baker doesn’t want much attention as an adult. Instead of being photographed for this article, Baker provided a photo of him and his wife, Anna, on their wedding day two years ago.

Baker said he was always at a loss for words whenever someone he didn’t know would talk to him about the transplant.

“It always felt weird, but I was thankful at the same time,” Baker said. “That was the feeling I always got whenever I ran into someone, it would always be, ‘I remember you, I remember the donation jars, I remember seeing this in the newspaper,’ and I wouldn’t know how to respond, so I would always just put on a big smile and say ‘Thank you!’”

As for Baker’s life now, he enjoys his new job operating a forklift at FedEx freight in Fort worth, where he has worked part-time for the last four months. He and Anna, 25, met at Buck’s BBQ, now Bono’s, when he was working in retail in Decatur after he graduated from Weatherford College.

He hopes to go full-time at FedEx soon. Anna is working part-time at a law firm in Fort Worth. They are living life to the fullest, enjoying every moment.

“You can find things in life that bring you joy.”

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Pre-K students to make Young younger

All of Decatur ISD’s pre-kindergarten classes will be at one campus this fall.

Previously, each of the district’s three elementary schools – Rann, Carson and Young – had one pre-kindergarten class on campus. This year, the three pre-kindergarten classes will all be at Young Elementary, located at 379 Buchanan Road off Farm Road 51 South in south Decatur.

Judi Bell, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the new setup should improve the education process for both teachers and students.

“With one pre-K teacher at each campus, there was no opportunity for collaboration, no opportunity to work together to plan lessons,” she said.

The two other elementary campuses also have units unique to their school. Carson Elementary is home to the district’s severe and profound unit while Rann Elementary houses the district’s bilingual unit.

“Logistically, it will be better, but it’s also a great way to provide instruction,” Bell said.

According to a report given to the school board in April, the change will not cost any additional money and should actually provide $50,000 in savings due to efficiency.

Another benefit will be that children coming from the Head Start program will now be bused to one campus rather than three.

Students may qualify for the pre-kindergarten program if they meet the following criteria:

  • are limited English speaking,
  • qualify for free or reduced lunch,
  • are active military dependents,
  • have been with the Department of Family and Protective Services, or
  • are homeless.

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Western festival next weekend

The Chisholm Trail Days Western Heritage Festival and parade will be next Saturday, Aug. 23., from 2-6 p.m. on the downtown square – but activities will be underway all week.

Cowboy Up

COWBOY UP – Scenes like this one from last year will be commonplace again next Saturday as the annual Chisholm Trail Days Western Heritage Festival and rodeo come to Decatur. After a Friday night rodeo performance at the Wise County Fairgrounds, Saturday afternoon will feature a festival on the square and a parade before the final rodeo performance. That will be followed by a dance Saturday night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The AGvantage Farm & Ranch Chisholm Trail Days Rodeo runs Friday and Saturday nights at the Wise County Fair Grounds Arena. Gates open at 6 each evening, with performances starting at 8. Tickets are $8, available at AGvantage or at the gate, with kids 5 and under admitted free.

Admission is free starting at 7 p.m. for the Thursday night slack at the arena. A dance after the Saturday night performance will feature Jake Hooker and the Outsiders.

Saturday’s festival runs 2 to 6 p.m. around the square, featuring live music, a chuckwagon and tractor exhibit, vendors’ booths and a kids’ corral with jump houses and other activities. The Lone Star Gunfighters will perform at 2:30 and 4:30 along State Street, which will be closed off for the festival.

At 5:30, the parade begins at the corner of Business 81/287 South and East Main St., near the Old Depot, and head west along Main St. to downtown Decatur.

The parade route will cross the square and turn north onto Business 81/287 North, then turn east onto Walnut St. and proceed back across the square, ending at the starting point on Business 81/287 South.

Main Street Director Frieda Haley said princesses and queens from surrounding communities, as well as several riding groups, antique autos and other entries, will be in the parade. Plaques will go to the winning entries in several categories.

Parade entries will begin checking in and lining up at 4:30 at the visitors’ parking lot at Decatur Eagle Stadium.

Following the parade, Legend Bank will host a free hamburger supper at the Women’s Building at the Wise County Fair Grounds for parade participants, who will receive a ticket stub admitting them to the venue.

The rodeo, produced by the Flying C Rodeo Company out of Madill, Okla., is a UPRA, CPRA and TCRA-sanctioned event, with saddle bronc, bareback, team roping, breakaway roping, tiedown, barrel racing, bull riding, ranch bronc riding, steer wrestling and a calf scramble.

With $500 in added money per event, the competition is sure to draw some top cowboy and cowgirl talent to Decatur.

All money raised over expenses will benefit the 2015 Wise County Youth Rodeo and Wise County Youth Fair.

Haley said the event is taking place a little earlier than usual this year because of the change in management at the arena and fairgrounds. After the success of the Youth Rodeo in March, a well-known rodeo producer approached Zane Lasater about doing another rodeo for Dectatur.

They booked the grounds for August 22-23, since there were no open dates left the rest of September and October. Haley said August is the traditional time of year Decatur always had its rodeo anyway.

After the rodeo date was confirmed, the Main Street Advisory Board voted to move the festival to next weekend to coincide with the rodeo.

To call in for rodeo entries, call (903) 873-5214 from 3-10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18 for timed events and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19 for rough stock events.

For parade entry information, rodeo or dance tickets call Zane Lasater at (940) 255-9375.

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GPA policy change back on Decatur School Board agenda

The Decatur School Board Monday is expected to make a decision on applying a new grade point average policy to incoming sophomores as well as freshman.

Changes in the way GPA is calculated were approved in the spring, with the understanding that the changes would begin with this year’s incoming freshman.

However, at last month’s meeting, the board discussed the possibility of applying the changes to sophomores as well. They delayed action on the item in order to get the information out to, and feedback from, parents of sophomore students.

In other business, the board will hear a report on the preliminary school accountability ratings recently released by the Texas Education Agency.

One campus, McCarroll Middle School’s 6th grade campus, was the only school in the district to receive an “improvement required” rating. The district is considering appealing that rating. All other schools in the district, and the district as a whole, received the “met standard” rating.

The public portion of the school board meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the DISD Administration Building, 307 S. Cates.

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Decatur City Council workshop to precede meeting

The Decatur City Council will meet at 4 Monday afternoon to talk about the proposed budget for fiscal 2014-2015.

Specifically, they will look at capital, health care, the cost of living, additional personnel and miscellaneous items. A regular council meeting will follow at 6 p.m.

On the agenda for that meeting is a public hearing on the proposed property tax rate, scheduling hearings on the proposed budget, and a special use permit extension, requested by Double Creek Capital to facilitate the sale of property on Preskitt Road for a funeral home.

The council will also look at a replat request on Farm Road 51 South, also by Double Creek, and another one by the Wise County Water Supply District on 7.15 acres in the South Decatur Business Park addition.

Rounding out the agenda are a request for a parade permit for the Decatur High School homecoming procession on Sept. 19, and consideration of bids for health insurance for city employees – a key component in next year’s budget.

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Nails Spa

Location: 1650 S. FM 51, Suite 900

Phone: 940-626-2202


Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Owner/management: Kim Doan

Products/services: Manicures and pedicures; Wednesday is senior citizens day

Doors Open

DOORS OPEN – Kim Doan’s Nails Spa is ready to pamper Wise County. Doan cut her nail salon’s ribbon Aug. 14. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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Wise Wireless

Location: 1650 S. FM 51, Suite 100

Phone: 940-627-2014


Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Owner/management: Joe Neil Henderson and Marianne Henderson

Products/services: Cell phones, accessories, tablets, internet access

All Wired Up

ALL WIRED UP – Ben Hodges, Jarred Lucier and Joe Neil Henderson at Wise Wireless’ ribbon cutting Aug. 14. Messenger photo by Laura Belcher

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I’ve got your back

Supporting One Another

SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER – During the McCarroll Middle School orientation Thursday, sixth graders sign each other’s shirts, as eighth-grader Maegan Shields (right) watches. It was a pledge to “have each other’s back” and create a school that does not tolerate bullying. More than 180 incoming sixth-graders attended the morning session, and Shields was among the 70 eighth graders who welcomed new-to-the-school students. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Signing Support

SIGNING SUPPORT – Hayley Murrillo signs a classmate’s shirt during orientation Thursday as a show of support. “How great would it be to have a school that supports each other,” said counselor Cindy Barksdale, who implemented the idea. “It starts with the kids. We can discipline it, but we have to teach our kids how to support one another.” Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Orientation Characters

ORIENTATION CHARACTERS – Harlon Johnson and Austin Radican sport wrestler’s mask to lighten the mood and break the ice at middle school orientation Thursday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Leaders of the School

LEADERS OF THE SCHOOL – More than 70 eighth graders – including Dalton Lasater, who is signing the shirt of classmate Wilson Hicks – helped welcome the incoming sixth graders at WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) orientation Thursday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Volleyball: Lady Eagles battle for gold; Decatur goes 4-1 at elite tourney

Against the top teams in the state, the Decatur Lady Eagles are more than holding their own at the Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational.

With a pair of wins Friday over Rouse and Flower Mound Marcus, the Lady Eagles reached the quarterfinals of the gold bracket of the tournament in Pearland.

Decatur will play Pearland at 10 a.m. Saturday.

For a chance to advance to the gold bracket, Decatur beat Rouse Friday morning 25-15, 25-18. It then took down Marcus 25-13, 25-23.

The Lady Eagles finished as the runner-up in their Division 10 pool Thursday. Decatur beat Round Rock McNeil 25-20, 25-22. The Lady Eagles then got past Bellaire in three games, 23-25, 25-18, 25-13.

Decatur’s lone loss was to the fourth-ranked team in 6A, Houston Clear Falls, 25-22, 25-15.

The Northwest Lady Texans went 1-2 in their Division 5 pool. San Antonio Johnson topped Northwest 25-9, 25-13. Allen beat Northwest 25-14, 25-22. The Lady Texans ended pool play with a 25-20, 27-25 win over Clements.

Northwest played Ursuline Academy in the bracket 5 Friday afternoon.

The tournament will wrap up Saturday with the championship rounds.

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