2014’s top citizen developing ‘the greatest town there is’

2014’s top citizen developing ‘the greatest town there is’

The 2014 Citizen of the Year didn’t grow up in Decatur – but he got here as quickly as he could.

Mark Duncum, president of Double Creek Capital Corp., received the honor at the 23rd annual Decatur Chamber of Commerce Auction, held Saturday evening at the Decatur Civic Center.

Top Citizen

TOP CITIZEN – Brian Stephens congratulates Mark Duncum as Decatur’s 2014 Citizen of the Year at Saturday’s annual Chamber of Commerce Auction. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Presenter Brian Stephens characterized Duncum as “a major catalyst for growth in the city” and said he had been described as “Decatur’s premier developer.”

Duncum decribed himself as “shocked” at the honor.

“It’s hard to believe I could be in the same conversation with Judge Wren, the Hendersons, Brian Stephens and so many great people who have received this award in the past,” he said.

“Decatur really is, in my opinion, the greatest town there is. So, to be recognized in the town that’s where you want to be is really special to me.”

Duncum moved with his family to Decatur in the late 1980s, to go into business with his father-in-law, the late Robert Isham. He’s been a positive force in the community ever since, not only helping boost the economy, but also providing leadership to an array of community organizations.

He’s a guy who rarely says no when asked to serve.

Duncum is on the board of Wise Regional Health System and serves the city of Decatur as a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. He is a board member of Wise Area Relief Mission (WARM) and Wise County Christian Counseling and an elder at the Decatur Church of Christ, where he and his wife, Angela, are active members.

Recently, he was named a trustee of Abilene Christian University, where they met.

Duncum’s family moved around a lot when he was a kid, settling long enough for him to graduate from Dulles High School in Sugar Land, southwest of Houston. He earned a degree in accounting at ACU, married Angela, and took a job with Arthur Young – now Ernst and Young – in Fort Worth.

After working there seven years and making manager, he was pulling a lot of overtime and spending far too much time away from his young family. When an opportunity arose to move to Angela’s hometown, they both jumped at it.

They raised their two boys, Cody, 27, and Casey, 24, here. Angela, a mainstay of the church’s teaching program, was also instrumental in helping start The Children’s Place day school at the campus on Farm Road 51 South.

That busy corridor happens to be where Double Creek’s most visible commercial development has taken place.

Duncum and Isham spent several years acquiring property, mostly through the RTC (Resolution Trust Corp.) and the FDIC as the country emerged from the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s. By 1995, that phase was over and Duncum set about developing it.

Double Creek built many of the office buildings that house Decatur’s growing medical community and has developed four residential subdivisions as well: Mustang Creek, Pecan Creek, Hidden Oaks and Briar Crossing.

“This is really where we want to be doing business anyway,” he said. “We have some other things outside of town, but most of what we want to focus on is here.”

Currently, they’re finishing up a building on U.S. Business 380, Park West Court, developed in partnership with David Fuller of FX5. And two more projects on FM 51 South are about to emerge from the ground – The Corner, an office building at Bennett and 51 South, and Chancellor and Jones Funeral Home on Preskitt, just east of 51.

“You need only to drive down FM 51 South and see the ‘Hill Country Style’ office buildings to understand Mark’s commitment to development within the city of Decatur,” wrote Messenger publisher Roy Eaton, who nominated Duncum for the award. “The beautiful Briar Crossing residential development and office buildings in other parts of the city are more examples of his quality work to enhance the economic development of Decatur.”

For Duncum, whether working or serving, it’s all about making Decatur even better.

“Angela and I both really do think Decatur is a wonderful place to live,” Duncum said. “I feel very honored.”

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Audiobook voice actor to perform spooky stories

The Decatur Public Library will get a little scary Monday for the latest program in its Fall Fine Arts series.

There won’t be any ghosts hiding in the stacks, but voice performer CJ Critt will make sure audience members feel thoroughly frightened.

Critt is a renowned audiobook recorder and theater performer who will be reading her “Tales From the Critt: Halloween Tales from the Masters” show Monday night at 6:30. She chose a selection of scary and dark-humored pieces to read, including pieces from Janet Evanovich, Alfred Noyes’ poem “The Highwayman,” Texas poet Lori Wilde’s “Christmas at Twilight” and David Sedaris’ “It’s Catching.”

“It’s a diverse selection of genres, and that’s what I really like about it,” Critt said.

Critt has been doing voice work for authors, such as Wilde and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum detective novels, for more than 20 years, and has done stand-up and other performance arts as well. She said the challenge of making each voice unique is also what makes it fun.

“It’s always great to channel the voices of different characters, and it’s challenging to do all of them on the same page, but it’s a joyful challenge to do an accurate reading of the author’s words,” Critt said. “You have to balance being a big ol’ ham with being a good reader.”

Another challenge Critt enjoys is sticking to the script, a talent that’s not too easy to do, since she started her career in theater and radio.

“You can’t deviate from the author’s words or ad-lib like you can on a play or a movie, so you have to get it right from the page,” she said.

Many of the selections Critt will read are from modern literature because that’s the style she performs best.

“I like to do contemporary, funny stories,” she said. “I excel at that. I’m pretty funny, and I used to do stand-up – and I also like mystery and suspense because I have a serious edge to my voice, a quality that lets readers know that something is about to happen.

“It gives them a kind of, ‘Oh, did I lock the door? Am I sure I shut the garage door?’ feeling – and I love that.”

Decatur librarian Pat Peters expects the program, which is the last one in the Fine Arts series, to be a hit with audiences.

“We’re looking forward to CJ’s program,” Peters said. “It should be really fun.”

“Tales from the Critt: Halloween Tales from the Masters” starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday Oct. 27, in the Jones Meeting Room. This program may contain language unsuitable for children under the age of 13.

For information, call the Decatur Public Library at 940-393-0290. To find out more about CJ Critt, visit cjcritt.com/cjcritt.com/Welcome.html.

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Decatur EDC, hospital look to cooperate on splash park

The city of Decatur is going to build a water park, funded by the Decatur Economic Development Corp., and they hope to have it open by next summer.

Where it will be remains a topic of discussion.

At last week’s EDC board meeting, Executive Director Mary Poche told her directors she had met with Travis Fulton, director of administrative services for Wise Regional Health System, about the possibility of locating the “splash park” somewhere on the hospital property.

The hospital is currently developing plans to build a new Fit-N-Wise fitness and therapy facility just to the north of the hospital. That facility will have a pool, workout space and other recreational and fitness facilities.

A splash park nearby might be a good fit.

“The idea was, if we were going to do a splash park just half a mile down the road at Renshaw Park, maybe it’s something we look at doing, potentially, in conjunction with them – because they have a lot of land,” Poche said.

“I wanted to bring this before you because I think it’s a pretty good idea.”

She asked her board for direction, and if she should pursue this further. The reaction was positive.

“It would be part of their overall water project, which would include the pool,” she said. “What they’re looking at doing is creating some kind of destination across from Candlewood Suites there.

“It goes along with some of the student initiatives they’ve been doing for sports, general health and fitness.”

Decatur City Manager Brett Shannon and board member Jason Wren, who serves as the health system’s in-house legal counsel, both encouraged her to pursue it further.

“At first blush, it looks like a better fit [than Renshaw park],” Shannon said. “It’s a shorter walk, and it’s more handy.”

Shannon pointed out that the Hospital Authority is actually a political subdivision of the city of Decatur, which appoints its board members. Cooperation between the two entities should not be a problem, he noted.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Poche said. “We’re at the very, very beginning stages of it, so what I would propose is that we put the whole Renshaw Park idea on hold and pursue this a bit further.”


In a brief meeting Thursday morning, the board heard reports on several other items:

  • Poche detailed approval of a $50,000 incentive grant to Energy WorldNet, a Decatur company that is planning to expand its headquarters on U.S. 81/287 Business and hire additional personnel. The grant, which is for software and training, was approved by the city council.
  • Board memories voted to have Poche work with the EDC’s attorney to put together a Performance Agreement for Project Freedom, to reimburse the cost of relocating a sewer line, estimated at about $66,000 by Decatur’s Public Works department. No further details were released pending the purchase of property, but Poche said it is a retail business putting in its 14th location in the DFW area, a building of about 25,000 square feet.
  • Shannon noted sales tax income was slightly down for the month – “hopefully a one-time occurrence.”
  • Poche noted that H2X is scheduled to move into its new facility near the end of October, with the city planning to do some work on Stratton Street to facilitate that. “When they get a certificate of occupancy, we’ll owe the balance of their performance agreement incentive grant,” she said.
  • Poche also reported on Project Soapsuds, a chemical solution and onsite services company that is looking to purchase 5 to 10 acres in Decatur and combine a production facility with an existing sales office in New Fairview. With a total of 60 employees and about a $5 to $8 million capital investment, she is working with the firm on site selection.
  • She reported she is also working with companies on workforce development programs, enlisting the help of Decatur ISD and Weatherford College Wise County in creating programs to train workers in response to companies’ needs.

At last month’s meeting, Poche had her annual evaluation and was granted a year extension on her contract and a 4 percent raise.

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Riders vie for world title

Several Wise County riders are chasing a world title this week as the 2014 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals gets underway in Las Vegas.

Brazilians Fabiano Vieira and Silvano Alves, who call Wise County home, are within 511 and 516 points, respectively, of the No. 1 ranked rider, Joao Ricardo Vieira.

J. Vieira was the 2013 Rookie of the Year and is on a hot streak, having ridden seven of his last nine bulls in the last three events. He took over the No. 1 post five weeks ago and sits atop the board with 9,520.25 points.

Vieira recently won in Allentown, Penn., going three-for-three and moving 785 points closer to No. 1, despite having an injured shoulder. He leads the BFTS with a 57.75 riding percentage.

Alves, in third, is seeking his third PBR world title. He made history in 2012 when he became the first world champion to win back-to-back titles. His riding percentage is 51.16.

Mike Lee of Decatur is the only other local rider in the top 10, and he’s currently ranked No. 5, 1,433.44 points behind the leader.

Lee started the second half of the BFTS with great momentum, winning both outdoor events – Thackerville, Okla., and Laughlin, Nev. He then fell off his game for four events, failing to register a qualified ride.

His ride in Huntington Beach, Calif., last weekend at the Bulls on the Beach event was his first success since Laughlin.

Other Wise County riders among the 35 finalists are Marco Eguchi (11); Valdiron de Oliveira (13); Emilio Resende (14); and Renato Nunes (19).

The action kicks off today and runs through Sunday at the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. To advance through the rounds, the riders must rank in the Top 15 in the event average after each round.

The World Finals offers a total purse of $2.2 million, including a $1 million bonus to the world champion, who also receives the coveted world champion belt buckle.

The champion will be the rider who has accumulated the most Built Ford Tough Series points during the 2014 regular season and the World Finals.

There are a potential 5,500 points available at the World Finals, so most of the top-ranked riders have a shot at the title.

CBS Sports Network will broadcast every round live at 8 p.m. Oct. 22-25 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 26. For information, visit worldfinals.pbr.com.

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Cross Country: Decatur makes run at district

After months of training and six meets, the season for the Decatur cross country teams comes down to the next two weeks.

“Basically, when we wake up Thursday all our work is done,” said Decatur coach David Park. “It all comes down to the next 16 days – the time between district and state.

“All the things we’ve done have been building up to this. We now have to be on that day.”

Thursday’s 9-4A championships at Joe Wheeler Park will be the first hurdle in a three-race journey. Both Decatur squads hope that journey ends in Round Rock Nov. 8. The district races start at 1 p.m. Thursday with the girls’ 3,200 race. The boys’ 5K will follow.

In the girls’ race, Jessica Kyle will be looking for a second straight district title. She turned in a 12:02 last year to claim the crown.

“I feel strong. I feel like my training has improved,” Kyle said.

“If I’m up there, I’m going to try to push for it. I’m going to try the best I can.”

Park said Kyle’s challenge for the crown may come from her teammates, who have been running strong. In the Reunion Run at Joe Wheeler Park Oct. 4, the Lady Eagles finished one through six. Taylor Butler was second followed by Nicole Neighbors, Georgina Palomo, Elizebeth Culpepper and Paola Palomo.

In the boys’ race, Tyler Wilson enters with the fastest time. The senior is hoping to bring home his first crown.

“My legs feel better than they have all season,” Wilson said. “My mindset is right. I want it pretty bad. I also want to set a PR.”

Last time on the course, Wilson ran a 16:16 to win the Reunion Run.

“I’m gunning for that time, if not better,” he said.

Parker Cullop finished third at Reunion in 17:23, and Allen Rangle fourth. Charles Doubrava, Bryse Hoyt and Hunter Helm also posted top-10 finishes in that race.

“We’ve come from just a bunch of boys running, into men,” Wilson said. “Our times keep getting better.”

The Decatur squads have not competed since Oct. 4. The two teams pulled out of their scheduled race Oct. 11 due to a sloppy course.

“It feels like forever since our last race,” Kyle said. “We’ve never skipped a meet. Hopefully it’ll give us some fresh legs.”

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Football: Eagles hope to freeze out Huskies

After falling behind in the second quarter on the road Friday to the feisty Mineral Wells Rams, Decatur coach Mike Fuller witnessed the growth of his team over the first seven weeks of the season.

Faced with adversity, the Eagles fought back to take command of the game in the second half and pick up the 35-24 win and move to 2-0 in District 4-4A Division I.

“At the beginning of the year, we weren’t coming up with big plays in that situation,” Fuller said. “I’m real proud of the way they battled. It was a tough game until the end. They kept fighting. I’m proud of the guys.”

The Eagles (5-2) will now put their unbeaten district record on the line at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium against the Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies.

While the two wins to start district put Decatur in a good spot in its effort to make the postseason, Fuller said his team can’t take a break, especially if they want to captured the league title.

“We can’t look ahead. We have to focus this week and get another win,” Fuller said. “The only way to win district is to win them all.”

To get a win this week, the Eagles must slow down the district’s top running back, Cedric Battle. He’s rushed for 1,777 yards and 20 touchdowns.

“He’s horrifying to watch on film,” Fuller said. “He’s tough and will run through tackles and is also elusive.”

The Eagles have been solid against the run this season. Decatur will also get some reinforcements with Dakota Williams returning to the offensive line, allowing Terry Lee Hogan to get more snaps on the defensive line.

The Eagles will also get Aaron Shetter back in the secondary.

Offensively, the Eagles managed 316 yards last week. Payton McAlister led the way with 116 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He’s up to 823 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

Against Hirschi, the Eagles will need to be solid on the offensive line and slow down Hirschi defensive end D’Shan Harley. He had two sacks against Gainesville last week.

“He’s big and tall and tough to block,” Fuller said.

W.F. HIRSCHI (2-5, 1-1) AT DECATUR (5-2, 2-0)

7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium

W.F. Hirschi: Harris Rating 197

Notable: Cedric Battle has 1,700 yards and 20 TDs this season.

Decatur: Harris Rating 218

Notable: The Eagles are averaging 473 yards per game, including 285 rushing.

Harris line: Decatur by 21

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Volleyball: Decatur picks off Grapevine

The Decatur Lady Eagles filled their second open date in District 8-4A play with a win over 5A Grapevine.

The Lady Eagles won in three games 25-20, 25-11, 25-18, moving to 29-10 on the season.

Caroline Lowery and Makayla Mayfield led the Lady Eagles’ attack. Lowery put down 15 kills. Mayfield added 14.

Emily Oxford finished with 10 kills.

As a team, Decatur hit .430 with 48 kills.

Stormi Leonard handed out 36 assists.

Defensively, Lowery made 15 digs. Mayfield dug 10 shots, and Leonard nine.

Lowery had a strong match at the service line with six aces.

The Lady Eagles jumped back into district play Tuesday at Castleberry.

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Rodeo: Wilson, team capture titles

With Chase Wilson winning the steer wrestling, the Decatur squad won a team title at North Texas High School Rodeo Association event.

Wilson made his run in 5.102 seconds to take first place. Camerron Tucker took third in 14.448.

Jake Cobb finished third in calf roping with a time of 14.770. He also had a third place in team roping as the heeler and ninth place in ribbon roping.

Carolyn Spear took fifth in breakaway roping in 17.941. She also garnered fourth in steer undecorating in 1.627.

Chase Gasperson was sixth in team roping as the heeler with a time of 14.512.

Dominic Head finished eighth in chute dogging in 4 seconds.

Alvord’s Tanner Baker won the ribbon roping with a run of 8.354. Baker finished second as the heeler in team roping, completing his run in 7.316. Baker took the rookie cowboy award.

Mikayla Cox was eighth in walk-up goat tying in 9.113. In goat tying, Cox was sixth in 10.607. She finished seventh in barrels, making her run in 19.243. Cox earned rookie cowgirl honors.

Paradise’s Paitane Brown finished fifth in steer undecorating in 2.345. Brown took fourth as the header in team roping in 12.265. Ty Meals was sixth in heading with a run of 14.512.

Northwest’s Grady Payne won the chute dogging in 2.657. Eliesha Hobbs was third in walk-up goat tying with a time of 7.830. Alexis Barfield completed her run in poles in 22.258 for fifth. Bullrider Tyler Davenport scored a 50 for second.

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J.L. Hudson

J.L. Hudson

J.L. Hudson, 86, a horse trainer, died Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service is 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Sweetwater Cemetery with Phillip Askey officiating. Burial is under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

J.L. was born Nov. 16, 1927, in Decatur to Elmer and Lula (Fennell) Hudson. He was a Baptist.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Survivors include his son, Charles Hudson and wife, Denise, of Decatur; daughters Lisa Brazier and husband, Bobby, of Bridgeport and Amy Cline and husband, Steve, of Burleson; grandchildren John McKelvain and wife, Crystal, J.W. Hudson and wife, Sophia, Brittany Hudson, and Lindsay Cline; five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Jeffrey Dean Nicholson

Jeffrey Dean Nicholson

Jeffrey Dean Nicholson, 50, a senior commercial loan officer, died Friday, Oct. 17, 2014, in Decatur.

Memorial service was Oct. 20 at Decatur Church of Christ with Rick Ross and Todd Catteau officiating.

Jeff was born Sept. 11, 1964, in Denison to Voy and Doris (Dooley) Nicholson. He married Kelly Wilkerson Jan. 21, 1991, in Denison.

Jeff worked as a senior commercial loan officer with Wells Fargo. He was a member of the Decatur Church of Christ and formerly a member of Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Eddy Nicholson.

Survivors include his best friend of 31 years and wife of 23 years, Kelly Nicholson of Decatur; daughters Karissa, Laura, and Sarah Nicholson of Decatur; brothers Joel Nicholson of Osprey, Fla., and Tim Nicholson of Chesterfield, Mo.; sister Sara Hartshorn of Warner, N.H.; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Steve Newton Rutherford

Steve Newton Rutherford

Steve Newton Rutherford, 61, a golf pro, died Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service is 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Greenwood Cemetery with the Rev. Ken May officiating. Burial will be under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Steve was born Nov. 10, 1952, in Sweetwater to Bennie and Marijon (Maxwell) Rutherford.

He is survived by his daughter, Christina Wyatt, and husband, Chase, of Round Rock; son Cole Rutherford and wife, Chrystal, of Granbury; grandchildren Blaine Rutherford and Addison and Tristan Wyatt; his parents, Bennie and Marijon Rutherford of Decatur; sister Denise Joseph of Decatur; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

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Rodeo legend to speak at Chamber luncheon

Rodeo legend to speak at Chamber luncheon

It’s a voice of an old friend – a voice of strong values, gentle humor and quiet wisdom.

Bob Tallman is much more than a rodeo announcer. He’s the guy who knows the back-stories on the cowboys out there in the arena, bucking and roping and wrestling – because he knew their dads and granddads.

He’s the eloquent spokesman for the cowboy way, patriotism and faith and a strong work ethic.

Golden Voice

GOLDEN VOICE – Rodeo legend Bob Tallman said he’s excited about coming to see his friends in Decatur Oct. 28, when he will be the featured speaker for a Chamber luncheon at the Civic Center. Submitted photo

He’s been in 11 movies, announced more National Finals Rodeos than anyone else and has been voted the PRCA’s Announcer of the Year eight times. He’s in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

And he’s coming to Decatur Oct. 28 to speak at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Decatur’s Trevor Brazile, 11-time All-Around World Champion Cowboy, will introduce his longtime friend at the luncheon, which will be held 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Decatur Civic Center. Luncheon reservations at $12 per person can be made by calling the Chamber office at 940-627-3107.

Carey Williams, sales manager for James Wood Autos in Decatur, got the idea to bring Tallman here when he sat near him at last year’s Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo.

“As president of the North Texas Chevy Dealers, we got to sit in the president’s box, right beside the announcer above the bucking chutes,” Williams said. “To watch Bob work a rodeo – it’s a production. He’s got three computer screens in front of him and a guy helping him, so he can see who’s coming up and make comments about the guy who’s fixing to ride or rope.”

Williams said with all of Decatur’s rodeo ties, he felt Tallman would be a natural for a local speaking gig. He asked the stock show president if he thought Tallman would come and got an immediate positive response.

“I think he’ll be very interesting to listen to,” Williams said. “He’s got a very strong faith, which fits well with our community, and he understands community.

“Getting Trevor to come introduce him – that’s kind of a fun twist because he’s usually introducting Trevor.”

Williams said Tallman, a businessman and entrepreneur himself, will be able to relate to the business crowd at the Chamber lunch.

“Bob’s got a couple of businesses,” he said. “I thought it would be something everyone coming to that luncheon would enjoy.”

Tallman’s voice is heard by more than 60 million people across the U.S. and Canada each year – not only announcing some of the biggest rodeos in the world, but also recording commercials, narrating movie segments, emceeing charity events and commentating on a variety of sports programs for the Canadian Broadcasting Network, Fox Sports, ABC, TNN and ESPN.

In addition to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Tallman’s itinerary includes the Texas Stampede in Dallas, the Reno Rodeo, the Red Bluff Round Up and Canada’s legendary Calgary Stampede.

But his greatest honor, he says, is getting to use what he calls his “priceless gift from God” to touch lives with a message of hope and faith. A rancher, he has found that “planting seeds for the Lord” has a greater return.

In 2000, he launched Bob Tallman’s Charities, hosting an annual golf tournament in Houston to “Give a Child Another Day of Life” – benefiting the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Cancer Hospital. A portion of the sales from his Texas Style Seasoning business are also donated to the Children’s Cancer Hospital at MD Anderson.

Williams hopes the Civic Center’s Great Hall will be packed for the luncheon.

“The way I see these luncheons,” he said, “if it’s an interesting program that people get something out of, it’ll bring them back to the next one. Not only that – if they can just pick up one or two ideas they can take back, it can have a positive impact on their business or their life.”

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Upcoming Halloween Events


SPOOKTACULAR – Bridgeport Parks and Recreation will host the Spooktacular Fall Festival 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at Bridgeport Community Center. The free event will include a zipline, rock wall, rat race, candy, games, popcorn, cotton candy, balloon animals and face painting. There will be magic shows at 5:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., and a costume contest sponsored by Bridgeport Main Street at 6:15 p.m.

The Great Pumpkin

THE GREAT PUMPKIN – Piles of pumpkins can be found at farmer’s markets, produce stands and grocery stores around the county. Some families transform them into jack-o-lanterns, while others choose to enjoy their natural beauty. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

FALL FEST – The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport will have a Family Fun Fall Fest 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the church’s Family Life Center. There will be free food and candy, a bounce house, obstacle course, games and prizes. Wear costumes. The church is at the corner of Texas 114 and Cates Street.

COSTUME PARADE – Bridgeport Main Street’s Suit Up and Say Boo Halloween Costume parade down Halsell Street is 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. It begins at Bridgeport Stage, 1009 Halsell St. The street will be closed from 4:45 to 6 p.m. for the event.

HALLOWEEN NIGHT – Various streets will be closed 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, in the Oakland Heights Addition for trick-or-treating.

FEARAPHOBIA – The Fearaphobia Haunted House at 1407 Carpenter St. in Bridgeport is open 6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays until Nov. 1. Tickets are $15 and $10 at the door for adults and children under 12, respectively, and $10 and $5 online at www.fearaphobia.com/tickets.html. There will also be a children’s haunted house for those who feel they might get too scared going on the actual tour. If the event breaks even, designer Robert Chaney plans to give the proceeds to a local charity.


HAUNTED HOUSE – The Chico Community Volunteer Fire Department will have a haunted house 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October at the Old Chico Middle School, 400 S. Hovey St. Admission for 12 and under is $3 and 13 and older is $5. All proceeds will benefit the fire department. The haunted house will also have a “kid’s hall” for smaller children.


SPOOKY TALES – Decatur Public Library is hosting Tales from the Critt, a Halloween-themed spoken word program with audiobook ace C.J. Critt, 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27. A veteran of Broadway and a staff writer at Radio Disney as well as the original voice of America’s favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, Critt will channel the voices of various mystery and suspense authors she has recorded in her 20-year career with Recorded Books and Harper Audio, and will treat the audience to some classic spooky fare and a lively question-and-answer session. Suggested age is 13 and up.

TRICK OR TREAT NIGHT – Decatur City Council voted to move the city’s trick-or-treat observance to Thursday, Oct. 30, to avoid a conflict with the Eagles’ final home football game Oct. 31. The council agreed to designate Deer Park Road as one-way, northbound, between Eagle Drive and Preskitt Road from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the 30th to help ease traffic problems in some of the city’s more popular trick or treating areas.

FALL FESTIVAL – Gover-nor’s Ridge Fall Festival is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. There will be a bounce house, games and prizes, a merry-go-round, goblin walk and a hot dog supper, plus trick or treating.

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Rockets to the Rescue; Elementary students employ problem-solving, design skills

It’s not rocket science.

Or is it?

Students in Decatur ISD’s advanced academics classes designed and built their own rockets last week as part of the seventh annual 2014 4-H National Youth Science Day.

Launching Consultation

LAUNCHING CONSULTATION – Carson Elementary fifth graders Jacob Lowrie and Carson Wicker work together to launch the rocket they designed and built last week in advanced academics class. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The program – Rockets to the Rescue – was taught in classrooms across the country, and Chrissy Karrer, Wise County’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent for 4-H and youth development, and Andrea Calabretta, 4-H program assistant, presented the program locally.

The intent is to show students how aerospace engineering can be used to solve real-world problems. Advanced academics teacher Danielle Scroggins said students used STEM (science, technology engineering and math) skills to problem-solve their way through a rocket design and then were allowed to test that design.

Fifth graders at Rann and Carson elementaries, and fourth and fifth graders at Young Elementary, participated in the program and were given this challege: “Design a rocket propulsion system to launch and deliver a payload of food to a small island in the Pacific Ocean that was devastated by a storm and cut off from all food deliveries.”

The students were told that the inhabitants of the island were close to starvation, and ships with food were still several days away. Airplanes couldn’t land because runways were destroyed, and helicopters were not a viable option.

Instructions said the rockets should be able to deliver food intact and fresh, so the people could survive until normal transportation methods were restored.

Students were put in groups and given a rocket-building kit that included card stock, paper, rubber bands, a grocery bag, string, cotton balls, a rubber cork, straws, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, packing tape, scissors and 12 inches of half-inch PVC pipe.

They had to use these items to build a rocket that would safely transport four raisins to the designated landing zone marked by hula hoops.

“The kids loved it!” Scroggins said. “They learned when disaster strikes you have to get food to people. The design process – designing it and then testing it – it was really fun.”

Students first sketched a design and had it approved before building it, then moved on to the testing stage. Scroggins worked with the kids in the classroom, while Karrer did the bulk of the presentation, then tested the rockets outdoors with the students.

“I told them, ‘You want your food to get there and look like the food it’s supposed to be,'” said Scroggins.

“You don’t want it to fall out,” Karrer added.

“Or get smooshed,” Scroggins said with a laugh.

After the students launched the rockets, they evaluated the result and went back inside to make adjustments and try again.

It was a hands-on lesson in problem-solving, and Scroggins said students were to re-evaluate the results this week and reflect on their work.

4-H National Youth Science Day was Oct. 8, and it’s the rallying event for year-round 4-H science programming. For information on local 4-H clubs, call the Extension office at 940-627-3341.

To learn more about the work of Decatur’s advanced academics classes, follow them on Twitter @DecaturISDGT.

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Competition is in the air … literally

Nearly a month after its creation, the Melba Doyle Disc Golf Course will see its first tourney this afternoon.

More than a dozen competitors will sling their way through the Chasing Chains Disc Golf Club’s inaugural tournament starting at 1:30 p.m.

Catch the Fever

CATCH THE FEVER – Disc golfers play through the newly created Melba Doyle Disc Golf Course. Decatur’s Chasing Chains Disc Golf Club is holding its first tournament today at 1:30 p.m. at Melba Doyle Park. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Play is free, but only club members can enter. Joining the Chasing Chains is also free and easy – just search for the club’s Facebook page by entering Decatur Chasing Chains Disc Golf Club, and ask to join. Administrators will be watching the page to add new members as quickly as possible – even just prior to tournament play.

Decatur Parks supervisor and club member Ray Petty said the competition is a “Bag tag” tourney. Basically, the golfers are vying for bragging rights in the form of numbered tags. The better a player finishes, the better the tag’s number.

Owners of the coveted low digit tags can then be challenged over the next six months by other golfers.

“The person who is challenged can pick the course and whoever wins switches tags and keeps them,” Petty said. “Then we turn all the tags back in and do another tourney. It’s something to get people interested.”

He said there are 25 tags now, and tags remaining after the tourney will be given to members on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The goal is to play up and get better numbers,” he said. “A lot of us are really new to it, and some have been playing for years. I’ve only been playing since February.

“When you play better people, you’ll get better. We hope this is just the beginning.”

Petty said the club is considering hosting a doubles tourney and a benefit tournament as interest grows.

Heath Chambers, another club member and supporter, said he believes the interest is here.

Chambers put a rack of disc golf frisbees for sale in Decatur Tire on Tuesday. He has already sold about 30.

“We’ve had a real good turnout. Everyone really wants to support it,” Chambers said. “It’s something to do, and it’s fun. It’s also free. I got into it in college because it’s cheap.”

Petty said many people have gone out and bought discs just to have fun.

“It’s a neat opportunity for a family, and it doesn’t matter if you’re 3 or 4 years old or 60 or 70 years old – you can throw a frisbee.”

Chambers said people interested in disc golf or buying a disc can call him at 940-577-0109.

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Air Evac Lifeteam dedicates new base

High winds and low clouds kept the helicopter tour off the menu at Monday’s open house for the new Decatur Air Evac Lifeteam base – but they didn’t keep the crowds from turning out to celebrate the service’s new station in Decatur.

New Base of Operations

NEW BASE OF OPERATIONS – Air Evac Lifeteam has a new headquarters on the campus of Wise Regional Health System in Decatur, providing a spot for pilots, nurses and paramedics to stay while they’re on call. A host of local dignitaries turned out to watch Program Director Lisa Ponce cut the ribbon Monday, Oct. 13. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The new Decatur base is located on the campus of Wise Regional Hospital, just a few yards from the Emergency Room entrance.

The open house, which ran from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., allowed visitors to see the pilot’s office, kitchen, day room and sleeping quarters where a pilot, nurse and paramedic are stationed and on call around the clock.

Lifeteam’s Decatur base covers Wise, Jack, Montague, Tarrant and Denton counties.

Air Evac Lifeteam is the nation’s largest independently owned and operated air medical service provider, with 115 bases in 15 states. They provide emergency medical service at accident scenes, transfer patients from rural areas to urban hospitals, and stand by at events like festivals and football games.

“Some days we have three or four flights, some days none,” said Lisa Ponce, program director for the Decatur base.

Ponce said the new base is a huge improvement over the team’s previous quarters, which were located inside the hospital.

“Wise Regional continues to grow, so we move our crew quarters to help them and to remain available to the hospital and community,” she said.

State Rep. Phil King came out for the ribbon cutting along with local dignitaries and hospital officials.

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Football: Eagles outlast Mineral Wells

A low-scoring, defensive battle turned into a touchdown-fest late as the Decatur Eagles boosted their record to 5-2 with a win over a tough Ram team at Mineral Wells.

“I told anybody who would listen, all week, that that’s a really good football team over there,” Decatur coach Mike Fuller said after the game. “They’re well-coached, they know what they’re doing, they play with confidence.”

A tough defense held quarterback Justin Myers’ running game in check most of the night, and a flurry of flags – 15 in the second half alone – kept both teams from hitting their stride.

Myers hit Felix Guerrero for a 38-yard pass in the first quarter, setting up the Eagles’ first score. Two Payton McAlister runs later, it was 6-0 and the first of five Brandon Garza extra point kicks made it 7-0 with 8 minutes left in the opening frame.

The Rams got a second-quarter touchdown on a one-yard dive by Johnny Morales. The tough sophomore had 90 yards on 21 carries for the night, and broke some big plays that had the Eagles’ defense on their heels at times.

“We stopped the run most of the night, but they made some good plays,” Fuller said.

Another one-yard Morales run put the Rams ahead early in the second half, but Decatur answered with a 10-yard touchdown strike from Myers to Gunnar Parker and they never trailed again.

Eddie Martinez finished off an Eagle drive with a one-yard run with 10 minutes to play, but Acosta found Braxton Allen on a six-yard touchdown strike and it was 21-18 with half of the fourth quarter left to play.

Three touchdowns in the last 93 seconds ramped up the stats and the scoring. A 30-yard run by McAlister seemed to break it open at the 1:33 mark as the Eagles tried to run out the clock.

Eagle linebacker Matt Cedrone picked an Acosta pass 27 seconds later and took it back 48 yards for a touchdown, making it 35-18.

“I was really proud of the turnovers we got there late,” Fuller said.

But the Rams weren’t through. Acosta guided his team down the field with a 1-minute drill worthy of Payton Manning, hitting Carlos Gray in the back of the end zone after time had expired to make the final margin 35-24.

“It’s hard to be at your best every game, but when you’re not hitting on all cylinders it’s good to still get a win,” Fuller said. “Being inconsistent, but still being good enough to win against a good football team, we can build on that.”


Decatur … 7 … 0 … 7 … 21 … – … 35
Mineral Wells … 0 … 6 … 6 … 12 … – … 24


Decatur – 8:02, Payton McAlister 8 run, Brandon Garza kick.


Mineral Wells – 10:44, Johnny Morales 1 run, run failed.


Mineral Wells – 9:20, Morales 1 run, run failed.

Decatur – 7:07, Gunnar Parker 10 pass from Myers; Garza kick.


Decatur – 10:07, Eddie Martinez 1 run; Garza kick.

Mineral Wells – 7:46, Braxton Allen 6 pass from Acosta; run failed.

Decatur -1:33, McAlister 30 run; Garza kick.

Decatur -1:06, Matt Cedrone 48 interception return; Garza kick.

Mineral Wells – 0:00, Carlos Gray 21 pass from Acosta; run failed.


Rushes-Yards … 46-200 … 39-142
Passing Yards … 116 … 236
Total Yards … 316 … 378
Comp-Att-Int … 9-20-1 … 14-29-2
Punts-Average … 6-34 … 4-28
Fumbles-Lost … 1-1 … 2-0
Penalties-Yards … 12-80 … 15-107


Rushing: Decatur, McAlister 19-116. Mineral Wells, Morales, 21-90

Passing: Decatur, Myers 9-20-1-116. Mineral Wells, Caleb Acosta, 14-29-2-236.

Receiving: Decatur, Felix Guerrero, 1-38, Ryan Durdon, 2-30; Mineral Wells, Jordan Duckett, 6-72

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Saturday Sports Buffet: Family flock – Lady Eagles share variety of family relationships

Saturday Sports Buffet: Family flock – Lady Eagles share variety of family relationships

Maclaine Lowery’s light-hearted nature and jokes don’t always sit well with her older sister, Caroline.

“I get annoyed with her,” the older Lowery said. “She’ll also argue with me. I’m a senior and that’s disrespectful. We definitely have our ups and downs.”

We Are Family

WE ARE FAMILY – The Decatur Lady Eagles have a mother and daughter, Brandy and Makayla Mayfield, front, and four sets of sisters – Caroline and Maclaine Lowery, Kelsie, Courtnie and Brittany Roberts, Cooper and Carson Martin, and Morgan and Haleigh Taylor – in the program this year. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But the opportunity to share the experience on the volleyball court the past two years – including winning a state title last November – makes up for any of the down times.

“I do get annoyed with her but I’m thankful for the experience,” Caroline explains. “There’s not many sisters who can say they’ve won a state title together.”

But this year, the Lowerys are far from unique in a Decatur volleyball program that features more than a couple of family relationships – with four sets of sisters and a mother-daughter combination.

“Because we have so many family bonds it makes us closer,” said senior Cooper Martin, whose freshman sister Carson joined the program this year. “We treat the others like sisters also.”

Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay said those family relations can keep it interesting but have also helped with the program’s winning culture that includes five straight district titles, the 2013 state crown and a current 53-match district winning streak.

“We’ve always stressed that we are a family and rely on each other, not only in volleyball but life,” Benedict-Gay said. “They’ve learned how to hold each other accountable and be there for each other in the tough times.”

Assistant coach Brandy Mayfield and her daughter, senior Makayla, have perhaps the most unique relationship. But early on, the two set perimeters to keep volleyball from tearing them apart.

“We learned to leave it at school,” Coach Mayfield said.

But despite their best efforts, sometimes it becomes dinner conversation.

On the court, Makayla likes having her mother there to talk to.

“During a timeout I can talk to her and she helps me to focus and do better,” she said.

Coach Mayfield enjoys the chance to help her daughter and the opportunity share in the team’s success.

“I get to experience it on both ends as a coach and mother,” she said.

Sophomore middle blocker Courtnie Roberts has a pair of sisters in the program, her twin sister Kelsie, who plays on the junior varsity, and senior manager Brittany.

“We haven’t all three been on the same team together since we were eight and nine,” Courtnie said. “It’s weird for all us to be in the same program.”

Brittany took over as a manager this year to spend time with her younger sisters.

“I wanted to be with them as a senior,” she said.

Brittany and Kelsie are also stalwarts in the Decatur softball program. They are hoping to get Courtnie to join them one the diamond this year.

While Courtnie and Kelsie are twins, they are quite different.

“They have very different personalities,” Brittany pipes in.

On Feb. 22, 1999, Courtnie was born two minutes before Kelsie.

“I’ll forever hold that over her head,” Courtnie joked.

They were also two ounces and two inches apart.

Now, Courtnie towers over both her sisters.

“She’s forever my little big sister,” Brittany said.

Courtnie also happens to be the one the other two sisters turn to.

“We both get along with Courtnie better,” Kelsie said.

Brittany adds: “Her personality is unique.”

Brittany Roberts shares managing duties with Morgan Taylor, who is also helping freshman sister Haleigh find her way as a first-year player in the program.

“It’s been great. It’s something we can share together,” Taylor said. “Before, we were always in different places. This has helped strengthen our relationship.”

Morgan played her freshman and sophomore seasons before stepping into her support role.

“I’m in charge of everything,” she points out as she tells Brittany Roberts what to wear for a photo.

Haleigh adds: “She’s sometimes bossy but most of the time she’s helpful.”

Another senior, Cooper Martin, has welcomed her freshman sister Carson, who is playing on the junior varsity.

“It’s fun getting to take her to practice and having a person to talk to,” Cooper said.

Having her older sister with her, helped her settle in quickly, Carson claims.

“On the first day, I was more comfortable with her,” Carson said. “She’s also my partner in the weight room. She’s been able to show me what do during workouts.”

But as the younger sister of a four-year varsity standout, Carson said there are high expectations.

“I wanted to be in her shoes but also, they are hard shoes to fill,” Carson admits.

Because of her light-hearted nature, Maclaine Lowery is used to jokes at her expense from her older sister and others.

“I’m more of the punching bag, but it’s good. I’m used to it,” she said.

Caroline adds: “We make fun of her a lot because she falls down a lot.”

One thing Caroline especially does not laugh about is being late for workouts in the morning while waiting on Maclaine.

After all the laughs and a few fights the Lowerys, along with others who share family bonds, hope this year ends like last year – with a ring.

“It would be cool to have the two rings together,” Caroline said.


  • As feared, the weather wreaked havoc on the high school football schedule last weekend. Three local teams – Boyd, Bridgeport and Chico – finally got back on the field to finish their games early Saturday morning after delays of more than two hours. Decatur and Paradise were forced to finish their games Saturday afternoon. It was far from an ideal district opener for all, but for Boyd, Bridgeport and Decatur that recorded wins, there were no complaints
  • Of the 4-4A Division I slate last week, the most surprising result was how Graham dismantled Gainesville. The Steers’ 34-0 win makes a large statement. Also, Mineral Wells proved that preseason polls are often useless. Most had the Rams picked to finish last. But after a win over Wichita Falls Hirschi, they are in first place
  • After their loss to Blue Ridge last week, the Chico Dragons’ now get to face one of the state’s top passers this week in Derrick Ponder. The former Iowa Park quarterback is tearing up 2A, throwing for nearly 400 yards per game
  • Watching the Decatur Lady Eagles sweep Lake Worth, I actually found myself comparing setter Stormi Leonard to Peyton Manning as every pass was on target and to the right person to get a point
  • Leonard’s predecessor, Joey Redwine, was on hand for Tuesday’s match after being named the Lone Star Conference’s Setter of the Week for a second time. She handed out 70 assists in a pair of wins over Angelo State and Tarleton State
  • The UIL Legislative Council will convene this weekend with proposals on the agenda including adding a fourth playoff team in Class 2A
  • Which was harder to predict, the Kansas City Royals making the World Series or the Dallas Cowboys starting the year 5-1? Both were extreme longshots
  • I didn’t have a horse in the race, but I doubt there will be a more entertaining game all year than TCU and Baylor. Also doubt there will be others with as many head-scratching decisions.

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Volleyball: Senior sweep – Lady Eagles cruise to win on Senior Night

After the pomp and circumstance of senior night, the Decatur Lady Eagles wasted no time in creating another memorable showing on their home floor.

Family Time

FAMILY TIME – Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard is escorted to the court by her parents Scott and Jami before the Lady Eagles’ sweep of Lake Worth Tuesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Behind their senior-laden lineup, the Lady Eagles hit better than .500 and served 17 aces in a 25-6, 25-12, 25-5 sweep of Lake Worth.

“It was so fun. This was our last Tuesday game at home and last celebration,” said senior hitter Caroline Lowery. “We were motivated to get the job done.”

Lowery led the charge with 14 kills on just 18 attempts. Fellow seniors Cooper Martin and Makayla Mayfield put down 12 and nine kills respectively.

“We were able to run our offense well. Stormi [Leonard] kept them guessing and that makes it easier for us to get the kill.”

Lowery also led the parade of aces at the service line with seven.

“Against Springtown, my serving was terrible,” she said. “I didn’t want to embarrass myself again.”

Stepping Up

STEPPING UP – Decatur’s Kelsie Worley spikes a ball during the Lady Eagles’ win Tuesday. Worley filled in at middle blocker for an injured teammate. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Marta Bottani added four aces in the first set, setting the tone for the Lady Eagles and helping build a 13-2 lead.

Martin’s ace made it game point. She then forced a Lake Worth error to end the set.

“We served aggressively and got points off our serve,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “It’s not something we’ve leaned on a lot lately.”

Along with the celebration for the seniors, the Lady Eagles got another impressive performance in the middle from a new person cast into the spot because of injury. Sophomore Kelsie Worley stepped in for an injured Courtnie Roberts and put down four kills. She also challenged Lake Worth hitters at the net.

“She’s been able to compete and play a couple of spots for us,” Benedict-Gay said. “She’s not unfamiliar with that role. She’s long and can swing. It’s a matter of her getting confidence in that role.”

After Leonard started the second set with an ace, Worley followed a Martin kill with one of her own to give Decatur a 3-0 lead.

It was a Worley kill that built Decatur’s advantage to 18-8. Mayfield closed the set with a kill.

Decatur quickly closed out the match, jumping out to a 12-2 lead on a Martin spike. A Mayfield block and then kill put the Lady Eagles up 20-4. Her ace put the Lady Eagles at match point before a Lake Worth error ended the evening and started the senior celebration.

“They know they are far from over but it’s always emotional on senior night,” Benedict-Gay said. “They handled it well and bounced right into the match.”

Decatur moved to 28-10 with the victory and 5-0 in District 8-4A. The Lady Eagles’ district winning streak grew to 53 straight matches dating back to October 2008. The Lady Eagles have won 125 straight district games since October 2009.

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Volleyball: Mayfield picks TWU

Decatur senior Makayla Mayfield has made her choice of where she will continue her volleyball career.

Mayfield committed to Texas Woman’s University in Denton this week.

“I liked it because it was closer to home and I liked the campus and the team is good,” said the 2013 Texas Sportswriters Association’s Class 3A MVP.

Mayfield will join another former Decatur standout at TWU – setter Joey Redwine. Mayfield said she looks forward to playing with Redwine again.

Last year in helping Decatur to a state title, Mayfield recorded 508 kills, 540 digs, 79 aces and 34 blocks.

She’s enjoying another strong year as a senior for the Lady Eagles, who are ranked No. 2 in 4A and are unbeaten in 8-4A. She has 330 kills heading into Friday’s match.

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