Bonding over Birdies: Brothers build relationship around disc golf

Bonding over Birdies: Brothers build relationship around disc golf

The Galindo brothers weren’t close growing up in Decatur.

Mario and Ruben were separated by 11 years and were always in different stages of life.

When Mario was graduating high school, Ruben was a 7-year-old kid.

Brothers in Arms

BROTHERS IN ARMS- From left, Brothers Ruben and Mario Galindo built a stronger relationship through their mutual love of disc golf. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We lived in the same house, but he was working and going to school when I was just starting to be able to do stuff,” Ruben said of his brother Mario. “He was 21 when he had his first kid.”

The two never really had the stereotypical brother relationship until around 18 months ago when Mario chose to give his younger brother’s hobby of disc golf a shot.

TOP GOLF – Ruben, Mario’s junior by 11 years, is one of the best disc golfers in the area. He has won several local tournaments and is the club champion of the Decatur Disc Golf Club. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I really got into it just as something we could do together,” Mario said. “I just wanted to get to know him, and I ended up loving the sport.”

After playing once, Mario went out and bought his own set of discs and the two brothers who once never spent time together, began playing at least twice a week and building their relationship.

“It was awesome because a lot of times I was following in his footsteps,” Ruben said. “He tried one of mine out one day. I showed him some basics, and he took off with it.”

Ruben said that Mario improved quickly by listening to his advice and having the strategic mind that the game requires.

When the Decatur Parks Department built a six-hole course at Melba Doyle Park last fall, the two helped with the design of the course and have been regulars’. They were some of the first to join the Decatur Disc Golf Club that now has around 49 members.

Not only did their relationship grow, their skills also grew.

Ruben had been playing for nearly a decade and had become one of the top players in the area, while Mario picked up some of his brother’s tricks and became a strong player as well.

In fact, when Ruben recently won the Decatur Golf Club championship, it was Mario who came in second right behind him.

“Ruben is amazing out there,” Mario said. “I just got lucky and had a good day. Ruben blew everyone else away.”

Despite his modesty, they both have been instrumental in locally growing the sport that has been building a groundswell in recent years.

The Galindo brothers have given free lessons to young and inexperienced players in the area and helped the Decatur High School students, who are building an 18-hole course at the school with design ideas.

Though disc golf has been around since 1926, it hadn’t reached national popularity until the last 20 years, and the state of Texas is a hot spot for the sport.

Texas has 250 courses, 53 more than any other state in the nation, according to the Disc Golf Course Review.

Recently, they signed up for one of disc golf’s biggest national events, the Glass Blown Open in Emporia, Kan., and were two of around 900 scheduled to play in the tournament.

Unfortunately for Ruben, his new job with the Grand Prairie Fire Department won’t allow him to attend the event, though Mario is still planning on making the trip.

Ruben’s new job will undoubtedly eat into his playing time, but becoming a fireman has been a longtime goal for him.

That might have something to do with his big brother Mario, who has been a fireman for over a decade and currently works for the Hurst Fire Department.

“I think part of it is, I’ve always had respect for the position,” Ruben said. “My brother did it and I always respected what he did. He encouraged me to look into it when I mentioned that I had some interest.”

Mario laughs when talking about the paths their lives have taken.

“It’s funny,” he said. “I started playing because I wanted us to have something in common. Now our lives are kind of parallel in that we have the same occupation, we’re both fathers and we share a hobby.”

Though their early lives were loosely connected, two brothers found a place for each other with some effort and a love for disc golf.

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Calculating the cost of the school bond

Whether you are considering buying a pair of running shoes or a new truck – or voting for bond items such as a resurfaced track or new buses – it usually boils down to one question.

How much is this going to cost me?

For the Decatur school district, the projects contained in both propositions of the bond package will cost around $13.5 million. In order to pay for the bond package, the district projects a maximum tax rate increase of 4.2 cents per $100 valuation on the debt service portion of the tax rate. Unlike the maintenance and operations part of the tax rate that is used to pay for items such as teacher salaries, textbooks and the electricity bill and is subject to recapture by the state, all taxes collected for debt service remain under local control.

“If we raised 4 cents on the M&O side, 44 percent of every additional dollar would be sent to the state,” Superintendent Rod Townsend said.

The district already sends an average of about $3.5 million per year in locally-raised taxes to the state as part of the “Robin Hood” recapture funding formula.

The exact cost of the bond package to a Decatur taxpayer depends on the value of your property.

The average value of a home in the Decatur school district is $117,000. An owner of such a home would pay $49.14 more in taxes due to the 4.2-cent tax rate increase. If your home value is less, the amount of tax increase would be less, and if your home value is more, you would see a larger tax rate increase. For instance, the owner of a $200,000 home would see an annual increase of $84.

If you are a citizen age 65 or older who has successfully applied for a homestead exemption, the amount of taxes you pay on your primary residence would not increase due to the bond package.

Districts pay back the money they owe over a period of time, depending on the length of the bond. For the current bond under consideration, transportation and technology items totaling $6.5 million would use a 5-10 year note. Security and facility items totaling $7 million would use a 20-year note.

In the past few years, DISD has been able to pay off some debt early through refinancing some of its bond debt. In February of 2013, the district paid off a portion of its debt six years early and was able to save $987,860 over the life of the bonds. That worked out to an annual savings of nearly $160,000 over the next six-year period.

Since 1999, Decatur voters have approved three of five bond packages put before them. It has led to the construction of two elementary schools – Carson and Young – a multipurpose facility at the middle school, a high school, a transportation facility, technology including student laptops, and renovations of various campuses.

As of Monday, the beginning of early voting, Decatur residents will have a chance to vote on items related to transportation, security, technology, facility upgrades and a multipurpose indoor practice facility.

Those items were explored more in depth in previous stories related to the bond issue.

Go to to read all of the stories in the series as well as letters we’ve received on the bond issue. You’ll also find links to more information that could help you decide how to vote.


  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27, April 29 to May 4 and May 4 at Decatur City Hall
  • 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 28 and May 5 at Decatur City Hall
  • 6 to 8 p.m. April 27 and May 4 at Decatur High School

Election day voting May 9:

  • 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Decatur City Hall

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Decatur campus’ AC fix to be done in summer

Things might get a little heated at the sixth grade campus of McCarroll Middle School the closer it gets to summer.

The Decatur School Board Monday learned that a chiller in one of the air conditioning units at the campus recently went out, leaving part of the building without cool air.

The board was faced with the decision of repairing the unit or replacing the entire unit. The time frame for repairing the unit would be four weeks while replacement would take eight to nine weeks.

The district received a couple of bids for the work. The lowest bid was $40,000 for repair or $57,000 for replacement.

With only five weeks of school left, Superintendent Rod Townsend recommended replacement.

“There’s enough empty classrooms we can relocate some classes,” he said. “… They’ll have to plan accordingly with some science labs. I recommend going with HVAC Technical and have them replace the whole chiller.”

Townsend said HVAC Technical was involved in the recent administration building remodeling.

“They did a fine job. We haven’t had any issues they weren’t willing to come back and address,” he said.

The school has been pulling in cool outside air in the early morning to bring down temperatures in the classroom prior to students’ arrival.

The board approved the quote from HVAC Technical not to exceed $60,000.

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved a standard lunch price of $1.50 for both elementary and secondary campuses. That will represent a 20-cent increase at the elementary schools and a 10-cent increase at the middle and high school. Reduced price breakfast meals would remain 30 cents.

In other business, the board:

  • approved the certification of instructional materials which states the district will only buy materials that are on the state’s adopted list;
  • named April Whisenant as director of special services;
  • honored Young Elementary third grade teacher Bekki Roberts as educator of the month and Sheryl Dubois from Decatur High School as support staff employee of the month;
  • recognized the work of Decatur High School’s auto tech team; and
  • honored outgoing school board member Diana Mosley for her service to the district.

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Track: Kyle captures three medals

At the area meet last year, Decatur’s Jessi Kyle squeezed into the Class 3A Region II meet with fourth-place finishes in the pole vault, 800 and 1,600.

Wednesday, the Decatur junior reserved her region spot in the three events with a little more ease. Kyle won gold medals in the pole vault and 800 and took silver in the 1,600.

“I’m really proud. Last year, I was four in all my events,” Kyle said. “I’m pretty excited about regionals.”

Pulling Away

PULLING AWAY – Decatur’s Jessi Kyle runs away from the field in the 800. Kyle won gold medals in the 800 and pole vault at area. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Kyle also helped Decatur’s 4×400 earn a trip to Lubbock and the 4A Region I meet May 1-2, running the anchor leg. The quartet that included Bailey Berry, Taylor Butler and Caitlin Butler finished fifth in 4:22.12 but moved up to fourth after Kennedale was disqualified.

Decatur coach David Park praised Kyle’s work at area.

“She’s a quality athlete and knows how to compete,” Park said. “She spoils you as a coach.”

Kyle started the meet with a win in the pole vault, clearing 8 feet. She attempted 8-6 but couldn’t clear it in three attempts.

“My first three vaults were really clean,” Kyle said.

In the 800, Kyle stormed to the lead at the first curve. Turning a 69-second opening lap, she owned a nearly full second lead. She continued to pull away, making a strong move with 300 to go on the way to winning in 2:24.74.

“I hear Park screaming to go and I wanted to get ahead,” Kyle said. “I didn’t know how close they were.”

Running against the area 3,200 champion Aimee Molina of Alvarado in the 1,600, Kyle stayed within a few steps of her through the third lap. Molina then pulled away to score the win in 5:31.06. Kyle finished second in 5:34.26.

“It was a tough race. The first two laps I got boxed in and couldn’t lengthen my stride,” Kyle said. “Park told me she was pretty fast. I tried to stay with her.”

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Golf & Baseball: Successful balance – Elder adds to 2 teams

Golf & Baseball: Successful balance – Elder adds to 2 teams

When asked about his past week, Bryce Elder calmly agrees it’s been fun but gives little other emotion.

READY TO TEE OFF – Bryce Elder will take to the tee box at state Monday. Next week, he will be back on the mound for Eagles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Pressed more about his two rounds at the 4A Region II golf tournament where he carded a 152 to tie for 16th and helped Decatur to a state tournament bid, he offers: “It was big for the golf team. We’re a young team.”

Then comes the follow-up about his nearly flawless seven-inning performance Tuesday in a 7-1 victory over Springtown that put the Eagles baseball team in a tie for first place in District 8-4A.

“It was a big game. It gives us something to look forward to,” Elder explains, keeping his calm demeanor.

While to others the Decatur sophomore is living out the fantasy of many young athletes – heading to state in one sport while playing a pivotal role in chasing a district title in another – Elder is just taking it in stride.

“I don’t get too fired up. I’m happy but I don’t show it much,” Elder explains.

But he’s helped to provide plenty to celebrate. Monday, he will tee off in the 4A University Interscholastic League golf championships at Onion Creek Golf Course in Austin for the first of two rounds. Then, he will return to rejoin the Eagles’ rotation as they push for a league title in baseball.

His success in the spring follows a solid basketball season for Elder, one of the area’s top sixth men for the Eagles, reaching the area round of the playoffs.

“I really couldn’t ask for a better year,” Elder said.

The success of the teams’ Elder is a part of is no accident, according to his coaches, who rave on the sophomore’s approach and work ethic.

“He’s a good athlete. He goes from basketball to golf to baseball seamlessly,” said Decatur baseball coach Brian Tickell. “He’s just a great competitor.”

Golf coach Fernando Escobar added: “He’s what every coach wants in an athlete. He’s in multiple sports and is successful in all he does. He’s really a dying breed.”

On the golf course, he’s worked hard to improve his game in the past year, taking regular swing lessons. He went from hitting in the 80s as a freshman to consistently being in the mid 70s. He closed out his regional trip with a 75.

“The more and more I play the better I strike the ball,” said Elder, who has been playing the sport for less than two years. He went several months without picking up a club during basketball season.

Needing to get to the course as much as he can in the spring to practice, Elder approached Tickell about just working as a pitcher for the Eagles. The coach took him up on the idea and let him leave to practice golf after his pitching workout.

“I’m really thankful Tickell has allowed me to be a pitcher only and get to play golf at 4,” Elder said.

Tickell said it was an easy decision because of Elder’s approach. The pitcher has awarded Tickell with 24 solid innings, in which he’s given up only seven earned runs. He’s also struck out 28 and walked just six.

Against Springtown Tuesday, Elder struck out seven and walked one in a complete-game four-hitter.

As impressive as that performance was, it likely was not his best. He held state-power Argyle to two hits over six innings, allowing a run and striking out five April 11.

“I’ve had a pitcher taken in the first round and another guy that was in the big leagues, and those two performances were just as dominant as any they ever had,” Tickell said.

The baseball coach added that the skills needed on the golf course and on the mound complement each other.

“If you hit a bad golf shot you have to put it behind you. If you make a bad pitch you can’t dwell on it,” Tickell explained. “You have to take it one pitch at a time and one golf swing at a time.”

Heading to the tee at state for the first time Monday, Elder expects there to be some nerves. But given his demeanor it won’t show. He’s just wanting to do his job.

“I’m going to go in trying to make pars and stay focused,” Elder said.

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Baseball: Jacksboro overpowers Boyd, 12-7

Boyd’s late surge couldn’t bring them back from the 12-3 deficit they accrued in the first six innings.

The four Boyd runs in the top of the seventh cut the Jacksboro lead to five, but that’s all it would accomplish, on the Yellowjackets’ eight-error, three-hit night.

Boyd scored three runs in the top of the third to erase a one-run deficit and take a two-run lead.

Then, Jacksboro erupted for five runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and another five in the bottom of the sixth for a total of 11 runs in a three-innings span.

Jacksboro’s Chase Thompson pitched six innings, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits in his time on the mound.

The 12-7 loss puts Boyd’s 9-3A record at 5-6, a game back from Henrietta and Paradise who are tied at 6-5 in the third playoff spot.

Bowie leads 9-3A with a perfect 11-0 record and Holliday is sitting in second at 8-3.

District 9 will play District 10 in the bidistrict round of the playoffs.


Castleberry scored a run in each of the first three innings and Bridgeport never found a way to respond.

Bridgeport managed just three hits and struck out 13 times in their scoreless night.

Lane Morrow’s lone hit was the team’s only extra-base hit of the night, a one-out ground ball double to left field.

The loss gives Bridgeport a 3-4 district record, fourth in 8-4A behind Decatur, Springtown and Castleberry, and ahead of Lake Worth.


There wasn’t much the Dragons could do wrong Tuesday night against Graford.

Chico had 20 hits, 27 runs, were awarded with nine Graford errors, while Dragons’ pitcher Brady North struck out 10 batters in five innings and allowed just one hit.

Jaston McBee’s opening triple led off an eight-run first inning for Chico.

The massive inning was later dwarfed by the Dragons’ 11-run fourth.

McBee led the team with five RBIs, five hits and five runs in six at-bats.

Tyler Melton hit the only home run of the game, a three-run shot over the center field wall that scored McBee and Kolton Forbus in the top of the fifth.

The Dragons remain the top team in 10-2A with a 9-1 record while Alvord and Olney are currently tied for second at 6-3.


Bryce Elder was superb on the mound Tuesday night against Springtown.

Elder pitched all seven innings for Decatur and allowed just four hits and one run.

He walked only one batter and struck out seven, but perhaps the most impressive stat is that he threw only 72 pitches in the process.

Simple math says that Elder needed just under 3.5 pitches for each of the 21 outs in the seven-inning game.

The solid performance of the Decatur defense allowed Elder to put the ball in the strike zone without major repercussions.

Decatur opened the game by turning a Springtown error into a Clayton Egle run in the first inning.

They added to their lead in the third inning when Michael Hicks singled to center field, scoring Tyler Ticknor who reached on a line drive single to center.

AJ Johnson then singled to center, scoring Hicks to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

Johnson did it again in the top of the seventh, hitting a ground ball to right field that scored two.

Mason Baur followed suit, hitting a shot to right field that brought in Hicks, and though Trey Penny grounded out to second base, he allowed Johnson to score Decatur’s seventh and final run.

Johnson was Decatur’s usual offensive leader, responsible for driving in four of Decatur’s seven runs.

With the win, the 5-2 Eagles take a lead in the standings over 4-2 Springtown, and the win avenges Decatur’s first district loss to the Porcupines on April 3.

Decatur’s overall record moves to 12-8-1.


Cayde Ward got two of his team’s four hits in the Northwest loss to Denton Ryan.

A four-man pitching crew of Bailey Dovel, Garret Moltzan, Grant Krug and Cameron Rhodes gave up 12 hits and struck out only four in seven innings on the hill.

Bryson Wrobel and Preston Palmer each had tough nights at the plate, striking out three times each, and Austin Whitelock committed three errors.

The Texans’ district record moves to 3-8, tied with their victorious opponent at the bottom of 5-6A.

Keller’s 11-0 record leads the district, Byron Nelson sits in second at 7-4 and a four-way tie of teams with 5-6 records sit between Northwest and a playoff spot.

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Softball: Alvord blanks Valley View

Alvord pitcher Mikena Mader threw a one-hit, 15-strikeout shutout against Valley View Tuesday night in possibly her best performance of the season.

Though much of the team struggled offensively, Reagan Guthrie went 3-for-3, while Brittany Gayler, Ashton Peterson, Katelyn Schedcik and Kaely Beaver each drove in a run.

The 5-0win puts Alvord back on track after their loss to Collinsville, and the Lady Bulldogs remain second in 12-2A behind 8-1 Lindsay.

Friday’s game against Muenster was Alvord’s final game before playoffs.

If Alvord remains in second behind Lindsay, their likely first-round opponent will by Perrin-Whitt, the third seed from 11-2A.


Kensley Turner’s first-inning homer was all the run support the Sissies could give Hailey Hollingsworth Tuesday against Castleberry.

Hollingsworth threw a seven-inning three-hit shutout to keep Bridgeport in the lead.

The Sissies finish district play with a 5-3 record and a second-place finish in 8-4A.

Bridgeport will face Venus in the opening round of the playoffs.

Venus is the third seed from 7-4A.


The Lady Eagles were one win away from a perfect district record, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Down two, Springtown rattled off three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win.

The game was a slugfest, with both teams throwing haymakers every inning trying to force the opponent to submit.

Decatur opened with two runs in the first and Springtown quickly responded with four of their own in the same inning.

The Lady Eagles added four in the third inning, and another two in the top of the fourth for a four-run lead.

Springtown got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth, and closed the gap with another run in the bottom of the fifth.

Both teams scored two runs in the sixth and Decatur’s one run in the top of the seventh had them leading 11-9.

Despite the loss, Decatur is still the champion of 8-4A with its 7-1 record. They will face 7-4A fourth seed Alvarado in the opening round of the playoffs.


With the game tied, Northwest needed a run in the top of the seventh, and with the bases loaded, McKenzie Middlebrook provided just that with a single to center field that brought in Cailee Adams.

With a one-run lead, Emily Worley’s pitching, and defensive plays from Rhianna Speicher and Middlebrook helped get the Lady Texans in the win column for the 12th time this season.

Sydnee Hinkle was an offensive weapon for the Lady Texans, getting three hits in all three of her at-bats and driving in two runs.

Two of Hinkle’s hits were doubles and she also crossed home once herself.

Tarah Hilton drove in a run on her only hit, and Worley pitched all seven innings, giving up five hits and three runs.

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Golf: Jones, Eagles eye title

Drew Jones’ approach to the 4A University Interscholastic League’s golf championships is simple.

“To get a ‘W’ for the team and individual,” said the Decatur junior. “We are capable of it.”

The Decatur golf team of Jones, Bryce Elder, Brendan Kerby, Cade Lamirand and Hayden Bennett will tee off Monday at the state tournament at Onion Creek Golf Course in Austin. Bennett will be the first to the tee box at 7:30. Jones tees off last for Decatur at 8:10.

This will be Jones’ third trip to the state tournament. He tied for fifth last year at Wolfdancer Golf Course in Bastrop.

“I’m really looking forward to it, especially going as a team,” Jones said. “I think we’ll play well at that course. It’s a pretty fair golf course.”

Decatur coach Fernando Escobar agrees with Jones that the course sets up well for his team. Unlike Shadow Hills in Lubbock, Escobar said Onion Creek is tighter with trees.

“It’s similar to The Resort and courses around here. It’s tighter and there’s more trouble around the green,” Escobar said. “It’ll present more challenges and we’ll benefit.”

Jones won the district title with two rounds under par and captured the region crown with a 10-under par 134 over two rounds.

He said he enters state confident that he can win the individual title. But he will not be satisfied if his team is not lifting the 4A trophy.

“I feel if I score enough and don’t make any mistakes, we can get everything,” Jones said. “It’ll come down to not making any mistakes on that course.”

Escobar likes Jones’ approach.

“He’s taking a boxer’s mentality to the course,” the coach said. “He taking an attack approach and is going to hit everyone in the mouth. Right now, he’s playing like he’s a senior in college.”

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Shattered Dreams

Shattered Dreams 1

Students at Decatur High School took part in the Shattered Dreams program, aimed at teaching students the consequences of driving drunk, Thursday and Friday. Above, students surround the mock fatality accident scene, caused by a “drunk driving” student. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Shattered Dreams 2

One of the teens playing a victim is wheeled to an ambulance by Wise County EMS. The program ended Friday morning as students shared their experiences at an assembly. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Bond also benefits young students

I am a parent of five young children. Four of the five children are Decatur ISD students. Though it may appear that this bond election, specifically, Proposition No. 2 does not affect my young elementary school children, it most certainly does. My children are involved with a variety of youth sports and youth extracurricular activities, most of which require an indoor facility or gym.

Decatur ISD allows youth programs to utilize their facilities for practices, games and events so long as the facilities are not being used by middle or high school programs. However, as many parents with younger children have experienced, it is almost impossible to find free gym time. The gyms in this district are booked and overbooked.

Gym space in this town is so limited that several of the teams my children have played with had to use the old middle school gym in Chico. That’s right. I drove my children over 15 minutes to practice in Chico and made a 15-minute drive home. I made this trip two days per week for three years.

The yearly tax increase with passage of the bond is much less than the cost of fuel to and from Chico all those trips. The number of youth programs in this area is increasing at a fast rate, and the need for space will continue to be an issue. The younger, elementary students will have the full benefit of this indoor facility. They will be able to utilize the facility their entire middle and high school careers.

As a result, I am thrilled about the possibility of an indoor facility and all the versatility it will have. I also believe that school districts must be mindful and cautious of their spending.

However, the benefits of this indoor facility far surpass the costs. If there are questions about this district recklessly spending tax dollars on facilities, take a trip to other comparable districts. Compare the stadiums, gyms and schools. Our facilities are not lavish or extravagant by any means. On the contrary, our facilities might fall in the average category.

Furthermore, I would like to respond to the notion that those who write letters in support of the bond are somehow being paid by the district. I am completely insulted by that statement. And I am absolutely offended that a person would hit below the belt and insult the integrity of a variety of community members.

There is certainly no need for personal attacks. I am an educated woman capable of making decisions on my own without the persuasion of others. I am not a puppet of the district. I have outwardly expressed concerns in the past with previous district policies, and I make decisions based on facts and facts alone.

With that being said, parents of elementary school and younger children don’t forget to get out and vote “yes.” You don’t need your voter registration card. You need only your driver’s license. On Monday, April 27, and Monday, May 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., there will be alternate polling locations at the high school for early voting.

Let’s mark our calendars to ensure that in this election our true voice is heard.

Teri Houchin

Posted in Letters to the Editor1 Comment

Kobey Hayes Applewhite

Andrew and Hannah Applewhite of Decatur announce the birth of a son, Kobey Hayes Applewhite, on April 18, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and was 20 1/4 inches long.

He has one brother: Jaxen, 3.

Grandparents are Rob and Karen Kevetter of Decatur, Richard and Julie Applewhite of Newark, and Larry and Karen Clawson of Bula.

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Gracelyn Sloan Hughes

Jason and Jill Hughes of Decatur announce the birth of a daughter, Gracelyn Sloan Hughes, on April 15, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long.

She has one brother: Graham, 4.

Grandparents are James and Marlene Hughes and Chris and Norma Cowley.

Great-grandparents are Mary Maxey, William Cowley and Ann Crisp.

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Scarving artists: Students’ work to bring comfort to cancer patients

Scarving artists: Students’ work to bring comfort to cancer patients

Students at Decatur’s McCarroll Middle School are learning that it’s possible to encourage those battling cancer without having to say a single word.

They let their art do the talking.

Bright Idea

BRIGHT IDEA – Students in DeDe Diaczenko’s art class paint silk scarves that will be donated to local cancer patients. The project was funded by a Decatur ISD Education Foundation grant. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Sixth and eighth grade students in DeDe Diaczenko’s art classes have spent the past couple of weeks painting silk scarves that will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Resource Room in Decatur.

The project is made possible by a $4,500 grant from the Decatur ISD Education Foundation.

Diaczenko said when she was applying for the grant, she knew that it needed to tie back into the community in some way. She saw the scarf project as a way to provide encouragement to women going through cancer treatment.

“I just thought, any time you are going through any type of sickness, it’s nice to be thought of,” she said. “You want to bring joy to someone through your artwork. That’s one of the cool things about art is it can speak for you instead of you sending a card or putting it down in words. You can let your artwork say whatever you are feeling.”

It’s not only the students who are learning silk painting – Diaczenko said she wanted to try something new herself. After creating her own scarf, she was able to show students what worked and didn’t work.

In order to keep the artwork on natural subject manner, such as flowers, landscapes and desertscapes, the class studied the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe.

Students were tasked with coming up with four ideas for artwork and then choosing the two best. Those two designs were then used to make two scarves.

Diaczenko said she was impressed with the work of her students.

“They really accepted that challenge,” she said. “I had kids come up with all kinds of stuff they are doing. Especially down at sixth grade, they started to do some really unusual things, which was fun.”

The students will be able to keep one scarf while the other will be donated to the Resource Room.

Diaczenko and her students will make the donation of approximately 200 scarves during the opening ceremonies of the Relay for Life of Wise County on Friday.

None of it would be possible without the grant, which was given in honor of Wise Regional Health System, she said.

“I try to use grants to get my high-dollar supplies because there is no way we could do silk painting without the grant, there’s just no way,” she said, adding that the money for the scarf project is three times her budget for art supplies.

Next week the class will begin another project funded by a separate $3,000 Decatur ISD Education Foundation Grant. That grant, given in honor of Bond Family Eye Care, will allow the students to work with a potter to use clay to build musical instruments.


The 14th Annual Relay for Life of Wise County is Friday at the McCarroll Middle School track on Thompson Street in Decatur.

The event will begin with a survivor ceremony at 6 p.m. and opening ceremonies at 7. Around 7:15, cancer survivors and their caregivers will walk the first lap, and teams will continue walking through 7 a.m. Saturday. A balloon release will take place during the survivors lap.

Teams will hold a variety of fundraisers, including raffles. All money raised for Relay for Life will benefit the American Cancer Society.

If it rains, the event will move inside the gym. Event organizer Kathy Odell said an announcement would be made around 3:30 p.m. Friday if the location needs to change from the track.

For information, visit or call Odell at 940-255-2944.

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Bond would provide new place to practice

Proposition 2 of the Decatur school bond package is just a single item, but if it passes, it would be a first for Wise County.

Voters will have a chance to decide on an indoor multipurpose practice facility, an item estimated to cost $3.5 million.

If voters approve the construction of the facility, it would be the first to be built in the county. Nearby schools with indoor practice facilities include Northwest, Springtown and Azle.

The facility would be the width of a football field, and the practice area would be about 70 yards long, Superintendent Rod Townsend said. It would also include a classroom space or weight room.

“You can go from the Taj Mahal to a basic metal building, and that’s what we’re looking at – a stand-alone metal building,” he said.

During bond package discussions prior to calling the election, the board also considered restrooms and a concession stand for the area serving the high school tennis courts and track. Townsend said the practice facility would include restrooms to serve those two areas, and it could include space for a simple concession area but no kitchen.

It would be located just north of the field house, where one of the practice fields is located. Two other nearby practice fields would not be affected by the construction of the indoor practice facility, Townsend said.

While the classroom in the building would have HVAC, the larger practice area would not. It would rely on fans and roll-up doors for air flow, and the building would be insulated.

Townsend said in extreme heat or cold, the facility could provide a 20-degree temperature swing.

“If it is 110 outside, during the day, you can walk in there and it’s going to be about 90 degrees,” Townsend said. “When you are not in the direct sunlight and you’ve got a little air stirring, just being out of direct sunlight makes a huge difference.

“When it is 20 degrees outside, in there it is about 45 degrees, and if you move around a little bit, you are warm enough that you don’t want it any warmer,” he said. “It will be chilly in there but not unbearable.”

The facility would also allow students to practice during times of rain or snow. Townsend said outdoor sports that practice in the winter and early spring – such as soccer, track, baseball and softball – would be able to hold practices rather than have them canceled.

In addition to athletic teams, the facility would be available to any other extracurricular group in need of practice space, including band, cheerleading, drill team and even the Flamenco dancers.

“They practice in the hallways,”Townsend said of the Flamenco dancers. “A lot of time they practice in the classroom. They might use the stage, gymnasium, just wherever they can find.”

Because of the number of groups needing room to practice, scheduling space often means students are staying until 8 or 9 p.m.

“We’ve got 900 kids trying to do something every day, and there isn’t enough room to do something every day,” Townsend said. “This would provide an option for them to be able to practice.”

One group that often finds itself working in the hallways, even when the weather is nice, is the track program.

“There are so many days a week in between seasons where we have to do our core – sit-ups, push-ups – and the weight room is being used … so we find an empty hall,” said track coach David Park.

When the weather is bad, you’ll often find athletes sprinting in the hallways after school.

The indoor facility would allow these activities – as well as some that can’t be done in hallways – to take place in a more suitable area.

“You can even pole vault in there,” Park said. “You could even hold pole vaulting competitions in the winter where you normally couldn’t.”

He added that some students in events such as pole vaulting or high jump who need to practice when the facilities are not available at Decatur go to Northwest to practice at their indoor practice facility.

Townsend said when the facility is not needed for school activities, it would be open to the public.


DISD lists the following activities, with the number of students participating in each activity, that could use the multipurpose indoor practice facility:

Band … 113
Baseball … 31
Basketball … 65
Cheerleading … 28
Cross-country … 57
Drill Team … 5
Football … 129
Golf … 19
Powerlifting … 40
Soccer … 55
Softball … 26
Track … 84
Volleyball … 41

Previous stories in the Messenger’s bond series have featured the items in Proposition 1, including transportation in the April 1 issue, security and technology in the April 8 issue and facilities in the April 15 and 18 issues. The final story will include information on the financial impact of the bond as well as voting information. The total cost of both propositions is $13.5 million.

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Small bodies, big voices; DHS speakers medal in UIL prose

Combined the three speakers stand barely over 15 feet.

“Small bodies but big personalities,” jokes the 5-foot-5-inch Tucker Garrett.

“We have the voice to compensate for it,” adds the 5-foot tall Sarah Crouse.

Prose Pros

PROSE PROS – Decatur’s Taylor Yates, Tucker Garrett and Sarah Crouse finished first, second and third at the District 8-4A academics meet under the direction of coach Mallory Bryant-Gawne. They will move on to compete in the regional meet this weekend. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

At the District 8-4A University Interscholastic League academics meet, Crouse and Garrett, along with 5-foot tall freshman Taylor Yates proved to be giants in prose interpretation. The three swept the medal stand with Crouse taking gold, Garrett silver and Yates bronze.

The three will move on to the Class 4A Region I UIL contest this weekend at Texas Tech University, hoping for a repeat.

“I expect us to move on,” Garrett said.

Their coach, Mallory Bryant-Gawn, who is in her first year at Decatur and also directed the region-qualifying one-act play, shares the high hopes for the trio.

“They are characters. They’ve spent a lot of time working one-on-one,” Bryant-Gawn said. “We take each line of prose one-by-one.”

In the UIL prose competition, a student reads a piece before a judge and gives a dramatic interpretation. Bryant-Gawn explained that students must keep their feet planted and can only move their hand that’s not holding the binder of material.

“It’s all presentation. How can you tell a story and not just read it?” she said. “Interpretation is just a fancy word for acting.”

Crouse, Garrett and Yates all picked dramatic pieces for competition.

“The pieces that were at state [last year] were dramatic,” said Garrett, who joked he can’t play comedy well.

“The dramatic pieces are the only ones to go far,” Crouse added.

Crouse’s two pieces are about schizophrenia.

“In my beginning, I compare schizophrenia with being in a horror film,” Crouse said. “Because there are so many pieces that are the same, it’s about finding a key element that makes you stand out.”

Garrett uses two pieces on homosexuality. He said there’s a lot of yelling in his opening and in his teammates’ pieces, too.

Yates’ two selections tackle different forms of child abuse, including “My Sister’s Keeper” about a child born to have its organs harvested for a sibling.

“I play a reporter in the beginning of one of my pieces,” Yates said.

Because of their small stature, Garrett said it can be a challenge to command a room, but along with their coach, they joke about using their size to their advantage.

“They won’t see it coming,” Bryant-Gawn said.

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Young actors advance to regionals

The Decatur and Slidell one-act play casts earned regional bids over the weekend with their performances at area.

Decatur moved on to Wednesday’s Class 4A Region I contest at Texas Tech University with its performance of “Twelve Dreams.”

Freshman Cayden Candioto earned all-star cast. Junior Benji Walker and freshman Taylor Yates received honorable mention.

Mark Harle earned the Best Technician. The crew won the Best Technical honor.

Decatur’s Mallory Bryant-Gawne is taking the cast and crew to regionals in her first year as a high school director.

Slidell advanced to the Class A Region III contest Friday at Tarleton State University in Stephenville with its rendition of “Ruby’s Story.”

Caitlin Pruett and Sydney Keating made all-star cast. Norberto Martinez and Shelby Johnson received honorable mention.

Beth Dill and Keisha Cope are the Slidell directors.

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Softball: Sister Act – Two pair of siblings lead Decatur to 8-4A title

Softball: Sister Act – Two pair of siblings lead Decatur to 8-4A title

Familiarity and chemistry play an important role in sports.

In softball, the pitcher and catcher must be on the same page, and the same goes for the shortstop and second baseman.

FAMILY BONDS – Sisters Kelsie and Brittany Roberts and Taylor and Caitlin Butler have helped the Decatur Lady Eagles to a 7-0 record and the District 8-4A title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Luckily for the Lady Eagles, that chemistry wasn’t too hard to develop with sisters Caitlin and Taylor Butler at pitcher and catcher, and Brittany and Kelsie Roberts in the middle infield. The four represent every classification from freshman to senior, and they have had very different journeys on their way to becoming an unstoppable force in District 8-4A. The team wrapped up the league title with a win over Castleberry Monday.

Brittany and Kelsie Roberts have gone to Decatur schools most of their lives.

As one of three seniors on the team, Brittany has taken a leadership role after three years of being an underclassman on veteran teams.

“It was an adjustment being the oldest with a bunch of young girls,” the shortstop said. “Kelsie and I are the only returning starters from last year’s team. I have to draw the line between being supportive when someone makes a mistake, and letting the team know that we can’t constantly have errors.”

As a sophomore, Kelsie adds that she isn’t as vocal as her older sister but tries to lead by example.

The two have complete faith in one another on the field.

“It’s really special because we know when to be the cut,” Kelsie said. “When we roll the double play, we always know where the other person will be. We have a lot of trust in each other.”

For the Butlers, knowing where the other sister is has meant a lot on and off the field.

After moving to Decatur from Bowie, Caitlin and Taylor had to make the transition together.

“It was intimidating coming to a new school,” Taylor said. “Decatur is a much bigger school than Bowie, and we both had to adjust to that. We grew a lot closer through the moving process.”

They have also grown together through being battery mates.

“She knows what to say to me to pick me up,” Caitlin said. “We know how to communicate with each other.”

Caitlin, a junior, said she isn’t the fastest pitcher but has good movement to go with a repertoire of eight different pitches.

Taylor’s experience catching her older sister has allowed her to flourish as a freshman.

“I know where she’s going to throw the ball,” she said. “My adjustments depend on which pitch she throws.

“I would catch for her in the yard while she was practicing, so I have a good understanding of where the movement will go and where I need to be behind the plate.”

Taylor gets noticeably excited when talking about her older sister’s abilities.

Her favorite pitch is Caitlin’s “back door” curveball, which often scares hitters out of the box before bending back into the strike zone.

All four played a major role in Saturday’s come-from-behind win over Bridgeport.

Taylor hit a grounder in the bottom of the seventh that drove in the tying run.

Caitlin then reached on a bunt that got her to third base with the help of a Bridgeport error. Brittany drove her in for the walk-off win.

Kelsie got Decatur’s only hit in the game. Caitlin allowed just three hits in the pitcher’s circle.

As a senior, the late-inning effort was something that Brittany has become accustomed to.

“We have more heart than some of the teams I’ve been on,” she said. “We strive for things this year. In the past ,we’ve gone out and just played. Now, we go out to win.”

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Baseball: Baur’s gem stops Bulls – Decatur hurler throws 2-hitter

Mason Baur made a mistake that Bridgeport’s Corbin Coleman drilled into center field for a single to lead off the game Monday.

“I left one down the middle with two strikes,” the Decatur hurler explained.

Delivering a Gem

DELIVERING A GEM – Decatur pitcher Mason Baur limited Bridgeport to two hits during his complete-game shutout Monday. The Eagles completed the season sweep of Bridgeport with the 8-0 win. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

It was one of the few times Baur missed his mark all night. Baur allowed just two hits while striking out eight in the complete-game, 8-0 victory over Bridgeport at Eagle Field.

“I was spotting the ball good. Even when they did hit the ball, my defense made the play,” Baur said. “My defense played really good and made most of the plays for me.”

The victory moved the Eagles (4-2) into second place by themselves in District 8-4A – one game back of league leader Springtown. Decatur played Springtown Tuesday with a chance to pull even at the top of district with one game left.

“It was definitely a big win,” said Decatur coach Brian Tickell. “We were a little down after the loss against Castleberry [Saturday]. To win like this was huge. They definitely showed up tonight.”

The loss dropped Bridgeport to 3-3 in the district, heading into Tuesday’s game with Castleberry.

Gunned Down

GUNNED DOWN – Decatur second baseman Jesus Gam fields a throw before tagging out Bridgeport’s Travis Fuentes during the Eagles’ 8-0 victory Monday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“We just need to keep playing,” said Bridgeport coach Ted Leps. “If we win against Castleberry, we’re no worse than third.”

On a seasonably cool evening, Baur kept the Bulls’ bats on ice, painting the corners of the plate with his fastball and working his curveball around the edges of the zone.

“He was great on the mound. He had control of everything he threw,” said Decatur catcher Michael Hicks.

Baur retired seven straight after the lead-off single to Coleman. He hit a pair of batters in the fourth around three of his eight punchouts.

Baur never allowed a runner past second and didn’t give up his second hit until Jared Huff singled in the sixth.

“He was throwing good hitting his spots,” Coleman said. “Him and his catcher were in a zone working together.”

Baur pitched with a lead from the bottom of the second after Decatur turned a pair of Bridgeport errors into a run.

The Eagles broke the game open with a four-run third inning that included three straight doubles from Tyler Ticknor, Michael Hicks and AJ Johnson.

“That was a big inning. We got the bats rolling,” Hicks said.

Coleman, who started and allowed all eight runs in his four-plus innings, said, “I was leaving the ball up in the zone and Decatur was making me pay for it.”

Ahead in the count 1-2 in the fourth, Coleman left a pitch over the plate that Hicks blasted over the right-field fence.

Hicks finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Trey Penny and Johnson had two hits each for the Eagles.


Bridgeport … 000 … 000 … 0 … 0 … 2 … 3
Decatur … 014 … 120 … X … 8 … 8 … 0

WP: Mason Baur; LP: Corbin Coleman

HR: Decatur, Michael Hicks. 2B: Decatur, Tyler Ticknor; Hicks, AJ Johnson.

RBI: Decatur, Hicks 2, Trey Penny 2, Johnson, Crofford.

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Softball: Lady Eagles storm to dramatic win

In the top of the first inning Friday, Bridgeport’s Hailey Hollingsworth tagged up on a fly ball, scoring the Sissies’ lone run of the game.

Storms came in early in the second inning, and the game had to be postponed until Saturday.

Something to Celebrate

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE – The Decatur Lady Eagles mob each other after the team’s two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh to beat Bridgeport 2-1 and stay unbeaten in District 8-4A. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

When play resumed, Hollingsworth and Decatur’s Caitlin Butler put on a pitching duel that featured three hits for the remainder of the game.

The Lady Eagles brought an end to the duel with a closing offensive storm and two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh of a 2-1 victory to remain unbeaten in District 8-4A.

All signs pointed to a Bridgeport victory and a split of the Wise County rivalry, with the Sissies holding the 1-0 lead going into the final half inning.

But two pitches into the bottom of the seventh, Decatur’s Brae Hanes hit a ground ball back to Hollingsworth.

The pitcher fielded the ball but made an errant throw to first that put Hanes on second.

Brianna Crooks’ sacrifice put Hanes on third with one out. Taylor Butler’s grounder to short scored Hanes to tie the game.

Caitlin Butler then bunted her way aboard and went to third after another error by Bridgeport.

Finally, Brittany Roberts’ bunt to third brought Butler in to score in walk-off fashion.

“It’s awesome. We beat Bridgeport, and it was my last home game ever, so it was really special,” Hanes said. “I knew I had to score.

“We talked about how we’re all proud of each other. Even though we had some problems, we stuck together and got through it as a team.”

Caitlin Butler finished the game allowing three hits and one run with eight strikeouts.

“I just had to keep pitching strikes,” she said. “I knew my team would find a way to get some runs on the board.”

For Hollingsworth, the game was a triumph in some areas – and brutal in others.

She allowed only one hit and two runs, while getting one of Bridgeport’s three hits and scoring their only run.

Unfortunately for Hollingsworth, she also committed three errors – two of those played a major role in the Decatur comeback.

Though noticeably disappointed, Hollingsworth remained hopeful in her team’s resolve.

“I really think we can bounce back,” she said. “We have a lot of hope, and we think we can make it. I’m proud of our team because we came a long way and fought hard. We just couldn’t pull it out in the end.”

The loss puts the Sissies (4-3) at third in district with the head-to-head tiebreaker over 2-4 Springtown.


Bridgeport (4-3) … … 100 … 000 … 0 … 1 … 3 … 5
Decatur (7-0) … … 000 … 000 … 2 … 2 … 1 … 1

WP: Caitlin Butler, LP Hailey Hollingsworth

RBI: Bridgeport, Kensley Turner; Decatur, Brittany Roberts, Taylor Butler

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Track: Spin to win – Stallard takes shot at area crown

After a quick twirl, Cole Stallard launches the 3.5-pound discus into orbit.

“It’s a good reward for all the hard work,” Stallard describes watching the weighted disc fly into the air.

Thowing His Weight Around

THROWING HIS WEIGHT AROUND – Decatur’s Cole Stallard won the 8-4A title with a throw of 129 feet. He will try to add an area title Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Wednesday, the Decatur junior returns to Springtown to try to add a 7/8 4A area title to his collection. Stallard won the 8-4A crown last week in Springtown with a throw of 129 feet.

He enters the area competition with the second-best throw behind Godley’s Diamond Cardona. The top four throwers from the area meet will advance to the Class 4A Region I meet May 1-2 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

“He has a good shot, if he just relaxes and throws,” said Decatur coach Cade Wartes about Stallard’s region prospects. “He’s got a four-foot cushion on third. I expect him to throw farther.”

Stallard’s season-best is 132 feet. He said he’s topped 140 feet in practice.

“I’m trying to get it in a meet,” he said.

After failing to get past district last year, he’s added more than 10 feet of distance to his personal best.

“It’s been a lot of working on technique and practice,” Stallard said. “There’s a lot of spinning drills. I’m constantly practicing spins. That’s where you get most of your momentum to throw it.”

Stallard points out, being a good thrower is not about being the strongest or biggest.

“There’s some skinny guys that can be good. It’s all about technique,” he said.

Wartes points out that Stallard’s big strength is his quick feet.

“He’s got great feet,” the coach said. “You’ve got to have good footwork. He’s gotten better and quicker with control.”

Wartes added that Stallard is very coachable at the discipline. That is not surprising as the son of former discus coach Della Stallard.

“She has worked with me over the summer,” Stallard said. “My mom threw and she passed it down.”

Making his first trip to area, Stallard isn’t focused on advancing but improving.

“I like winning but it’s not a big deal. There’s always someone better,” he said. “I have room to get better.”

Wartes expects him to continue to grow and improve.

“The good thing is he’s only a junior,” Wartes said. “He needs to work on it in the offseason and continue to fine tune his skills.”



Wednesday, April 22
Field Events: 10 a.m.
3200: 10 a.m.
Running Finals: 5 p.m.


Thursday, April 23
Field Events: 11 a.m.
3200: 11 a.m.
Running Finals: 5:30 p.m.


Thursday, April 23
Field events: 3 p.m.
3,200: 4 p.m.

Friday, April 24
Field Events: 3 p.m.
Running Finals: 6 p.m.

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