Wreck leads to gas leak and evacuation

Wreck leads to gas leak and evacuation

A Decatur neighborhood was evacuated briefly Monday afternoon after a single-vehicle accident caused a gas leak.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said a city of Decatur truck helping sand the icy roads lost control and slid into a home, hitting a gas meter. The accident occurred about 3:15 p.m. at the corner of Hale and Trenchard streets.

Slick Roads

SLICK ROADS – A city of Decatur truck sanding the streets Monday lost control and slid into a house, hitting a gas meter. The wreck caused a brief evacuation of the area due to a gas leak. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur Fire Department arrived to find gas spewing and quickly evacuated the block around the home. With temperatures in the 20s, residents were taken to a hotel across the street where they were able to stay in the lobby while they waited for the gas company to arrive and shut off the gas.

Streets in the area were also shut down until the threat had passed.

Around 4:10 p.m., the gas company shut off the gas. By 4:30, the fire department had secured the house, and the vehicle had been removed from the scene.

Because the home did not have gas service, the family – which includes two adults and three kids – were provided temporary lodging for the night, Hoskins said.

Other local residents were able to return to their homes.

The police chief said no one was injured, including the driver of the truck.

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Softball: Lady Eagles go 3-3

The Decatur Lady Eagles finished fourth in the Argyle tournament over the weekend going 3-3.

The Lady Eagles started things off with an 11-6 win over Argyle, but later fell to the Northwest JV 7-4.

They returned Friday to win both of their games, beating Calisburg 5-2 before a comeback 6-5 victory over Denton.

Saturday, Decatur fell 12-1 to Sanger.

The Lady Eagles faced Northwest JV a second time, falling 7-5 in eight innings.

Decatur sisters Brittany and Kelsie Roberts were named to the All-Tournament team.

Brittany went 10 for 17 at the plate and had only one error at shortstop in 27 attempts.

Kelsie pitched 19 and 1/3 innings for Decatur, allowing only 12 earned runs while striking out 14 batters.

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Swimming: Rowden finishes off career at state meet

Decatur senior Katey Rowden wrapped up her career in the pool Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the consolation finals of the 100 butterfly at the University Interscholastic League championships.

Rowden finished in 59.62 seconds at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

“I swam my absolute best,” Rowden said. “I laid it all out.”

Rebecca Brandt took the gold medal in 56.13.

Rowden turned in a 59.56 in prelims. The top eight times advancing to the finals in the event were under 59 seconds.

It was Rowden’s fourth time at the state meet.

“That was all God. I wouldn’t have the confidence to compete without him,” Rowden said.

“I also had awesome coaches who supported and helped me, a family that believed in me and teammates that also supported me.”

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Soccer: Eagles even record

The Decatur Eagles took down Wichita Falls Hirschi 3-2 Friday to even their record in 3-4A to 2-2.

The Eagles are in third place in the league behind Wichita Falls Hirschi and Springtown.

FOSSIL RIDGE 3, NORTHWEST 0

The Northwest Texans were blanked by Fossil Ridge 3-0 Friday.

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Mary Beth Brown

Mary Beth Brown

Mary Beth Brown, 85, of Decatur died Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, at home.

Graveside service is 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Jones Family Funeral Home.

Mary Beth was born July 10, 1929, in Decatur to Albert and Zella Pauline (Lawson) Rhine. She was a graduate of Decatur High School. On April 20, 1946, she and Alf Brown married in Denton.

For 20 years, she was a clerk for Olney Savings in Decatur. She was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Decatur and affiliated with the Lost Battalion Association.

Mary Beth was preceded in death by her parents and husband.

She is survived by sons Richard Brown, Robert Brown and Jimmy Brown; grandchildren Bratton Ray Williams and Amanda Kai Lasater and husband, Chase; and great-grandchildren Dalton Gentry Lasater and Cash Lasater.

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Guns stolen from Decatur home

Several firearms were stolen from a Decatur home last weekend.

The burglary took place in the 400 block of North Cates Street, possibly between the hours of 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday while the home’s residents were away from the house. Items taken included three rifles, including an assault rifle, two handguns, and Xbox and PS3 gaming systems.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the home’s residents found the front door had been forced open. The home was not ransacked, indicating the burglar possibly knew where the stolen items were located.

Anyone with information should call the Decatur Police Department at 940-393-0300.

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Meeting Agendas for Saturday, February 21, 2015

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL – The council will gather at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, for annual reports from the finance, planning, public works and fire departments prior to its 6 p.m. meeting. On that agenda is presentation of an “initial period study” for Project Sidekick, under development by the Decatur Economic Development Corp., with a request for possible action to continue moving the project along. There will also be a resolution calling for the May 9 election to be held jointly with Decatur ISD, a request for street closings for Cruise Nights on the Courthouse Square May 2, June 6, Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, and the presentation of the city’s annual audit report by accountant Scott Siegmund. The meeting is held at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut, and is open to the public.

DECATUR HOSPITAL AUTHORITY – The board that governs Wise Regional Health System will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, at the hospital’s board room. After administrative and financial reports and an update from the Foundation, the board will review, consider and take action on floor plans for the fitness/sports medicine/physical therapy complex. They will also elect a new vice-president, consider authorizing CEO Steve Summers, CFO Todd Scroggins and Director of Accounting Kala Walsh to sign on a security procedure agreement with Wells Fargo Bank. Purchase of an imaging processor for $89,850 is also on the agenda prior to a closed session. When they come out, they will consider a slate of new medical staff appointments as well as biannual and first-year reviews.

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD – Alvord school trustees will call a May 9 election for two places on the board when they meet Monday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. at 100 Mosley Lane. The only other agenda items are holding the election jointly with the City of Alvord, publishing a notice of the election and possible executive session. The meeting is open to the public.

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Sales tax drop hits city, Decatur EDC

Decatur City Manager Brett Shannon shared sad sales tax news at Thursday’s meeting of the Decatur Economic Development Corp.

The total sales tax allocation to the city for the month of December 2014, which was reported in February, was $377,412, an almost $70,000 decrease from the same month the previous year.

“There was $35,747.56 of audit collections that were taken out for some reason,” Shannon said. “I don’t know what it was. Obviously, somebody got a rebate. That’s a pretty big hit.”

Mayor Martin Woodruff said the audit collections are not uncommon, but usually it’s $1,000 to $2,000.

“I don’t know if it’s due to the price of energy going down or not quite as much Christmas shopping done as in previous years … whether it’s more online sales than in-store sales. I don’t know,” Shannon said. “The bottom line is it’s down.

“Historically, this allocation is the largest check of the year due to the Christmas season and annual filers,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t get hit by any more audit adjustments of that magnitude.”

Director’s report

Executive Director Mary Poch said despite a valiant effort, it was not going to be possible to get a natural gas line to Imperial Fabrication on U.S. 380 east of Decatur.

The company needed the line to run a large powder-coating machine.

“It was going to cost half a million to $850,000 to build a gas line, and even then it was still questionable if it would be enough for them,” she said.

Jay Davidson said even with the abundance of natural gas in the county, “we learned how restrained we are to provide gas …”

Poch also reported that the business appreciation dinner will change to a bi-annual event as part of a business expansion and retention program.

She said Ida Mae Burnett has moved up into a business retention and expansion role in addition to her duties as an administrative assistant for the EDC. As part of the program, Poch said quarterly meetings would be held with upper management retail, professional and industrial sectors.

“It will have a three-part focus – retail, professional and industrial,” she said. “You kind of have to walk through it and tweak it as we go, but the overriding concern [of the program] is to support the businesses that are already here.

“What I’ve found in getting that group together is it’s an opportunity to network and share,” she said. “We’ll start those and then next year do the big dinner.”

She also noted that she received 10 inquiries in January, but since most of them required large buildings, of which there are none available in Decatur, she was unable to respond.

She also said H2X president Michael Clark, who’s in Colorado, sent a letter in late November requesting additional financial assistance because rent at their local facility is higher than anticipated. Poch told him the EDC was not allowed to give a company money for rent, but they might be able to assist the business as it expands.

Poch also told the board that she plans to have a new aerial map made.

“The last large aerial map was in 2010, and I like to redo that every five years,” she said. “We’re using the company that we used before. I want to focus more on the airport area and on specifically three to five different sites where we can zero in on where we want some development to happen.”

In other business, the board approved updating the EDC bylaws and creating a code of ethics.

At the end of the meeting, they spent an hour in executive session discussing Project Splash, Project Blue Sky, Project Landslide and Project Sidekick, but took no action on any of those items.

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Curtain call: Local law firm wins judgment for Austin theater producer

Ginger Rogers.
Betty Grable.
Ethel Merman.
Julie Harris.
Lynn Redgrave.
Imogene Coca.
Sid Caesar.
Derrick Boyd.
Kristy Campbell.
Allen Williamson.

If those last three names seem out of place, it’s because Boyd, Campbell and Williamson are lawyers in Wise County, not legendary Broadway actors.

They do, however, fit perfectly on the list of people who have worked with Austin theater producer Charles Duggan.

LEGENDARY PRODUCER – Austin theater producer Charles Duggan was an interesting client for a team of Wise County lawyers. Photo Courtesy the Austin American-Statesman

Duggan, who has brought the “Greater Tuna” plays as well as numerous others to the stage during a long and successful career, hired the local law firm of Simpson Boyd Powers and Williamson to represent him in a complex lawsuit after he lost nearly $2 million in a real estate Ponzi scheme in 2008.

The scheme’s mastermind, Robert Langguth, is serving a four-year sentence in federal prison for defrauding investors of between $16 and $20 million through a series of real estate deals.

The lawsuit targeted Langguth, but it also took aim at Gracy Title Co., a venerable Central Texas firm in existence since 1873. The suit alleged that the title company participated in the scheme by allowing Langguth “to use an escrow account held at Gracy Title as his personal bank account.”

On Feb. 5, a jury in Travis County unanimously agreed, saying the Gracy Title office Langguth was working with committed “fraud and misapplication of fiduciary property” with Duggan’s investments.

The nine-man, three-woman jury awarded Duggan actual damages of $3,345,927 along with punitive damages of $3 million from Gracy Title and $5 million from Langguth – a total award of $11,345,927.

Boyd, who served as the lead attorney on the case, said he expects the verdict to be appealed once the judge has issued his final ruling March 4.

“There’ll be some disagreement about what the numbers are, whether there’s evidence to support them,” he said. “The fact that we got a unanimous finding on all counts makes us feel pretty confident that we’ll get a judgment on something.”

Fast and loose with the funds

According to the lawsuit petition, in September 2008 Duggan wired $1,980,000 into an escrow account at Gracy Title to be part of a real estate investment group put together by Langguth.

When he pled guilty to federal criminal charges in November 2012, Langguth admitted that from November 2005 to December 2009, he devised a scheme to obtain money from investors under false pretenses.

Langguth told investors they were buying a participation in a real estate “bridge” loan – evidenced by a note and secured, in most cases, by a first lien on real property. In return, he promised investors he would pass through their share of the monthly interest payments made by borrowers.

He also promised that when the borrower paid off the loan, the capital would be returned to the investor.

In reality, he pocketed between $16 and $20 million from 250 victims who invested in his company.

What made it a Ponzi scheme was that he was paying off earlier investors with money from newer ones. It fell apart when he was no longer able to attract new investors.

Langguth filed for bankruptcy in March 2010.

Boyd said they had a strong case that the title company failed to meet its fiduciary responsibilities. In fact, after his expert witness testified, the other side opted not to put their expert on the stand.

“It’s kind of like, you hire somebody to paint your house, and they let their buddy in the back door to steal your TV,” Boyd said. “Just because they didn’t steal your TV, that doesn’t make them not responsible. You can’t assist somebody.

“There’s no way Langguth could have gotten the money out of that title company. He had to have help getting it out.”

The most damning piece of evidence came from the title company itself. On Sept. 12, 2008, Duggan got a letter from Gracy Title stating, in part, that “as of today, $800,000 has been placed and is secured by liens. The balance of $1,180,000 is being held.”

Evidence at trial showed this was simply not true. To the contrary, the funds were released to Langguth by Gracy Title’s escrow officer, without any security.

Boyd’s team even produced evidence showing the escrow officer had received payments from Langguth out of accounts she was handling, including $5,500 from the escrow account into which Duggan wired funds.

According to Boyd, the letter looked bad enough – but when you consider that the person who wrote it was receiving money from Langguth under the table, it looked particularly bad.

“I think the jury got the picture of what was going on,” he said.

The branch manager, who was not criminally prosecuted, doesn’t work for Gracy Title anymore. She was the first witness Boyd called during the trial.

The jury specifically found that Gracy Title failed to comply with its fiduciary duty, committed fraud, knowingly participated in Langguth’s breach of fiduciary duty, committed a misapplication of fiduciary funds and conspired with Langguth.

Gracy Title CEO David Tandy told the Austin American-Statesman his company did not agree with the outcome of the case.

“There are many issues that need to be worked out on appeal,” he said.

Boyd said the appeal process could take two years or more.

FIRM GETS ONE OF ITS MOST INTERESTING CLIENTS

Defending the rights of a legendary theater producer was a step outside the box for the Wise County law firm of Simpson, Boyd, Powers and Williamson.

Courtroom Drama

COURTROOM DRAMA – Wise County lawyers Allen Williamson, Derrick Boyd and Kristy Campbell of Simpson, Boyd, Powers and Williamson represented “Greater Tuna” producer Charles Duggan in a lawsuit that ended earlier this month in Austin. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Charles Duggan is, by any measure, “a character,” according to lead attorney Derrick Boyd.

“The godmother of his two boys is Joan Collins, who he had produced a play for, and worked with,” Boyd said. “He’s just had an interesting career as a producer. He runs in circles a lot of us don’t run in.”

That made it a challenge to find 12 regular folks who might be sympathetic.

“It was unique because you’re not going to find a jury full of people who have lived his life,” he said. “You’ve got to relate to a jury. But they exonerated him all the way across the board.”

The jury found Duggan’s honesty refreshing, he said.

“He basically got up there and admitted things he had to admit,” Boyd said. “It was a good case, and we represented a good guy.”

Duggan produced “Greater Tuna” and other plays throughout the U.S. – and used his influence, connections and resources to help numerous artistic causes in the Austin area.

“He’s a great guy,” said Williamson, who assisted at trial. “It was an honor to represent him.”

According to a 2009 story in The Austin Chronicle, Duggan, 61, is an “old-school” producer who grew up with a passion for the stage. He earned a degree from Stanford University, then toured for two years in stage productions with the likes of Rogers, Grable and Merman before attending law school at Georgetown University.

He went into corporate, real estate and entertainment law in San Francisco, but eventually agreed to co-produce a short-lived, but Tony-award-winning mountain-climbing drama, “K-2,” on Broadway.

Returning to the theater – this time behind the scenes – he found his true calling.

He bought the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco in July 1982, and staged a series of hits there. He worked on stages there, on Broadway and in London before moving to Austin in 1992.

He’s best known as the producer of “Greater Tuna,” “A Tuna Christmas,” and “Red, White and Tuna” – working with the original creative team of Joe Sears and Jaston Williams for a quarter of a century.

He has a reputation as a fearless, creative force with unerring instincts for what works in a theater.

His fortunes took a nosedive, however, when he got involved with a real estate huckster who portrayed an experienced professional in a real-life drama.

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Volleyball: Ringing in new with old – Lady Eagles receive second championship rings

Volleyball: Ringing in new with old – Lady Eagles receive second championship rings

Staring at the new ring on her finger, Stormi Leonard expressed one disappointment.

“I didn’t paint my nails this time,” said the Decatur senior setter. “I didn’t have time.

“The new rings are awesome. We’re even more excited to get the new ones.”

Adding to Collection

ADDING TO COLLECTION – The Decatur Lady Eagles volleyball team received their state championship rings Wednesday. For many of the players, it was the second straight year for them to receive a title ring. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Leonard and the Decatur Lady Eagles received their 2014 volleyball state championship rings during a luncheon ceremony Wednesday at Decatur High School.

It was the second straight year for many of the Lady Eagles to receive rings after the program repeated as state champions in November. For the girls getting a second ring, the excitement was the same as the previous year.

“It’s awesome. It’s still unbelievable,” said Decatur senior outside hitter Makayla Mayfield.

The rings have a blue stone with “Back to Back Champions” on the top. On the inside, the team’s motto “Bringing the Heat” is engraved.

“The seniors got to come together and pick it out,” Leonard explained. “Our last rings did not have much blue, and we wanted blue to stand out more. We also had the black around the top because we won both of our state championships in our black uniforms.”

Decatur coach Claire Gay passed out the rings to her team.

“We’re still on cloud nine,” the coach said. “Getting the rings back-to-back is pretty cool.”

Beautiful Site

BEAUTIFUL SIGHT – Decatur players open the boxes with their state championship rings during a ceremony Wednesday at Decatur High School. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur ISD Superintendent Rod Townsend addressed the team.

“I waited 32 years to get a state ring, and it was one of the highlights of my career,” Townsend said. “I wondered how do you top that? They found a way.

“Back-to-back titles are extremely rare,” he said. “You did amazing things not only on the court but with the example you set for young people and the way you represented this community.”

Decatur High School Principal Jeff Russell added: “I picked a great year to join Decatur High School.

“This speaks volumes to your character and dedication.”

Several Lady Eagles received their first ring.

“It’s amazing. It’s a crazy feeling being a state champion for the first time,” said Presley Gibson. “There was a lot of pressure, coming onto a team that won state.

“There will definitely be a lot of pressure next year. It’ll be our goal to work super hard to get there.”

One ring will make the trip halfway across the world to Italy with foreign exchange student and Lady Eagle Marta Bottani.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s one thing I’ll bring home that I’m so proud of. I can’t wait to show everyone that I won state.

“I’ll remember this forever and stay in touch with the girls. It’ll be an awesome memory for the rest of my life.”

Mayfield and Leonard said they plan to wear both rings. Mayfield added she got the new ring sized to a different finger.

“Some [girls] didn’t think about that,” Mayfield said.

Leonard is wearing her new ring on her ring finger.

“I’ve always said I’m married to the game,” she said.

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Basketball: Bees hold off Lady Eagles – Stephenville wins on boards, game

Despite their size advantage inside, the Decatur Lady Eagles couldn’t keep the smaller and quicker Stephenville Honeybees off the offensive glass.

END OF THE LINE – Decatur senior Macen Stripling leaves the floor after the Lady Eagles’ loss to Stephenville Thursday. The Lady Eagles’ season ended at 22-7. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Stephenville pulled down 15 offensive boards for 14 second-chance points Thursday night, winning 47-44 over Decatur in the 4A Region I area tilt at Brock High School gym.

“They beat us on the boards,” said Decatur coach Billy Garner. “I said the entire game we had to do a better job of rebounding. We did, late, but the damage was already done.

“The effort was great. We just didn’t execute on the boards. They got more chances than we did.”

The loss ends the Lady Eagles’ season at 22-7. Decatur won a district title for a second straight season.

“After losing four seniors, you never know what’s going to happen. Our seniors this year stepped up big,” Garner said. “Jasmyne [Tate] coming back after two [knee] surgeries helped. She had a great year.

“I’m proud of this team. No one expected us to do this much.”

It was the final game for Tate and fellow seniors – Makayla Mayfield, Shelby Drews and Macen Stripling.

TRYING TO MAKE A COMEBACK – Decatur’s Hannah Dunning attempts a shot over Stephenville defender. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I’m proud of our team,” Mayfield said. “We had a big slump before district and did a lot better in district. We just couldn’t pull this one out.”

Mayfield pulled up for a game-tying 3-point try in the final seconds, but unlike last year in the area round, her shot could not find the mark this time.

“For a second, I thought it was on line,” said Mayfield, who finished with five points.

Along with letting Stephenville get second-chance points, Decatur hurt itself with turnovers and missed free throws. They turned the ball over 22 times and finished 6-for-14 from the free-throw line – including going 2-for-8 in the final frame.

The Lady Eagles twice missed game-tying free throws in the final 30 seconds.

“We missed some crucial free throws,” Garner said. “People always remember the ones at the end, but the ones in the beginning are just as important.”

Decatur also battled foul trouble with Tate, Stripling and Drews sitting for large stretches. Stripling hit her first five shots and scored 10 points around the foul issues.

Hitting three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second quarter, Stephenville took a 20-13 lead. Stephenville finished 5-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Decatur scored the final six points of the half, including Raena Slate’s leaner just before the buzzer, to cut the deficit to two, 24-22.

The Lady Eagles went ahead in the third, but Stephenville hit two more threes as part of a 10-2 run to take a 34-30 lead into the final frame.

Stephenville was up seven, 39-32, with 6:06 left. Two second-chance baskets from Hannah Dunning and another from Tate pulled Decatur within two.

Decatur stayed close the rest of the way but couldn’t get the game tied.

Dunning, who will be Decatur’s lone returning starter, finished with a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds.

“I’m proud of everyone. I’m blessed that I got a play with these girls,” Dunning said. “I’m definitely looking forward to next year and working hard to get better.”

STEPHENVILLE 47, DECATUR 44

Stephenville … 11 … 13 … 10 … 13 … – … 47
Decatur … 9 … 13 … 8 … 14 … – … 44

Stephenville (22-10) – Cassidy Cline 5, Mikayla Hobbs 5, Breanna Wooley 13, Ali Thorpe 5, Bayleigh Chaviers 9, Lyndi Graham 5, Skylar Chipman 1, Kali Smith 1, Bethanie Bouchey 3.

Decatur (22-7) – Makayla Mayfield 5, Raena Slate 2, Shelby Drews 4, Hannah Dunning 15, Savannah Thompson 1, Macen Stripling 10, Jasmyne Tate 7.

3-pointers: Stephenville 5-14 (Wooley 3, Thorpe, Cline); Decatur 0-3. Turnovers: Stephenville 14; Decatur 22.

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Basketball: Hicks, Eagles torch Stephenville

Heading into the postseason, Parker Hicks admitted to putting in some extra work on post moves. He put those moves on display Thursday night.

LEADING THE WAY – Decatur’s Parker Hicks rises for two points during the Eagles’ win over Stephenville Thursday. Hicks poured in 35 points in the 60-47 win. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Hicks stayed active around the basket, torching Stephenville for a career-high 35 points, leading Decatur to a 60-47 victory in a warm-up game at Brock High School gym.

“I’ve been really pushing myself with the post work recently. It’s my first time playing post,” Hicks said. Hicks also pulled down double-digit rebounds for the Eagles.

Decatur coach Drew Coffman said the young forward’s explosion was not a surprise.

“He’s capable of doing that. He worked hard in the offseason and every day,” Coffman said.

“He made a couple good drives. We also made a couple of good entry passes to him.”

The victory gives the Eagles a three-game winning streak heading into Monday’s 4A Region I bi-district game against Alvarado. They will play at Chisholm Trail High School at 7:30 p.m.

“I was proud of the overall effort. It was a good game for us,” Coffman said. “We were happy we got a win but also we realize there’s a lot we need to go back and work on.

“We struggled in stretches and played well in stretches. The playing well outnumbered the poor stretches. We got a lift from some guys. Dane Fitzgerald came in when we had some foul trouble in the fourth quarter and played great.”

It was Fitzgerald’s 3-pointer with 6:22 left that stretched Decatur’s lead to 10, 51-41.

Hicks kept the Eagles up by double-digits down the stretch, adding his final six points.

With the Eagles down a starter – Holt Garner – Hicks got his team off a strong start with 11 first-quarter points. Hicks drained a pair of 3-pointers in the opening frame.

“With Holt being out, I took it as my responsibility to step up,” Hicks said.

He added another eight in the second to keep Decatur up 30-26.

With an 11-4 run in the middle of the third, Stephenville took its only lead on Zoe Kendall’s layup in transition.

Hicks immediately put Decatur back up with a pair of free throws on the other end. Hicks finished off an 8-2 spurt that gave the Eagles a 44-39 lead going to the fourth quarter with a hook shot.

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Soccer: Springtown edges Decatur

The Decatur Lady Eagles fell 2-1 to Springtown Tuesday.

Reagan Johnson netted the Lady Eagles’ goal.

Decatur fell to 0-3 in District 3-4A.

Decatur looked to picked up its first league win against Wichita Falls Hirschi Tuesday.

NORTHWEST 1, KELLER 1

The Northwest Texans fought to a draw at 1-1 against Keller Tuesday.

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Vesta Fern Parson

Vesta Fern Parson

Vesta Fern Parson, 81, died Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in Decatur.

Funeral was Feb. 18 at Zion Valley Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alvord with Bill Cleveland and Barney Hudson officiating. Burial was at Alvord Cemetery under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home.

Vesta was born Jan. 6, 1934, in Gilmer to Charles Edward and Gertrude Elizabeth (Cole) Parson. She was raised by her uncle and aunt, Bill and Etta McMath. Vesta was a longtime member of Zion Valley Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Alvord and was a retired sales purchasing agent for Markle Steel Co.

She was preceded in death by her parents; four brothers; and three sisters.

She is survived by a sister, Lois Ann Bell of Belen, N.M.; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

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Alyssa Renee Greever and Christopher Ross Meekins

Alyssa Renee Greever, daughter of Chuck and Carrie Greever, all of Decatur, will marry Christopher Ross Meekins, son of Donald Meekins and Traci Meekins, all of Bridgeport, on May 2, 2015, at the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

Meekins Greever

Alyssa Renee Greever and Christopher Ross Meekins

Pastor Ken May will officiate.

The bride-elect is a graduate of Decatur High School and Texas Woman’s University. She is a teacher at Bridgeport Elementary School.

The prospective groom is a Bridgeport High School graduate. He is employed by Conoco Phillips.

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Blake Ryan Byrd

Charlsi Price and Bobby Byrd of Decatur announce the birth of a son, Blake Ryan Byrd, on Feb. 11, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

He has one brother: Zaiden Davis, 5.

Grandparents are Jason and Sherry Smith of Decatur and Betsy and Lloyd Byrd of Decatur.

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Decatur School Board approves ’15-16 school calendar

Perhaps motivated by a girls basketball playoff game beginning in a couple of hours, the Decatur School Board might have set a record for its quickest meeting on Monday.

While it only lasted about 15 minutes, several items of business were addressed.

The consent agenda, which was approved with no discussion, included the 2015-2016 school calendar. Among the highlights:

  • Students will begin classes on Aug. 24 and finish on June 2.
  • Students and teachers will be off the week of Thanksgiving, Nov. 23-27.
  • Winter break is Dec. 21-Jan. 1.
  • Spring break is March 14-18.

The District Education Improvement Committee Calendar Committee presented two options for the calendar, and the one approved by the school board was favored by 82 percent of the 160 votes submitted by staff members.

The board also took care of the routine business of calling a trustee election for May 9, which also included a joint election agreement with the city of Decatur, approving a lease agreement for voting machines with the Wise County Elections office and appointing election officials.

Decatur High School student Stevi Perkins was honored for all-state choir selection. Angela Baker from Rann Elementary was honored as educator of the month, and Dana Henderson with the child nutrition department was honored as support staff employee of the month.

It was the second school board meeting in less than a week. Last Wednesday, the board called a bond election for May 9. Also at the Feb. 11 meeting, all administrators and directors received contract extensions.

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Basketball: Decatur blasts Venus – Lady Eagles capture bi-district title

The Decatur Lady Eagles did what they do best in Monday night’s Class 4A Region I bi-district 66-33 drumming of Venus at Aledo High School.

Defensive dominance and fast, but disciplined, offense won the day.

BIG DEFENSE – Decatur’s Hannah Dunning blocks a shot during the Lady Eagles’ win over Venus Monday. Decatur moves on to play Stephenville Thursday in Brock. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

“That’s what we preach,” said Decatur coach Billy Garner. “Playing good defense is our backbone and how we want to play the game. Everything else that we do comes from that.”

The focus was clear as Decatur forced Venus to rack up 28 turnovers and held them to eight first-quarter points.

Meanwhile, Decatur pushed the tempo offensively throughout the game while maintaining a level of control and ball security.

“That’s another thing that is the foundation of what we do,” Garner said. “Making the right play is so important. We want to push things but not at the expense of playing sloppy or turning the ball over. We felt like we could run a lot today and we did.”

Twelve of Hannah Dunning’s 13 points came in the first half, many off hustle plays and fast breaks.

Later, it was Shelby Drews’ turn to take over as she racked up 14 points in the fourth quarter alone as part of her game-high 21 points.

“We decided that we needed to rebound and push the ball more,” Drews said. “We wanted some more turnovers so we could get some easy baskets.”

Macen Stripling earned her 13 points by cleaning up messes and fighting for position underneath.

Decatur’s guards moved the ball around well against the sagging Venus half-court zone, while Stripling and Jasmyn Tate found holes in the paint where they could exploit mismatches inside.

The two-player game underneath was deadly in spots with Tate finding Stripling down low. Tate also scored seven points in the game.

Decatur guard Makayla Mayfield was often a spark for her team, finishing with seven points while also being the quick start to the running game that Decatur thrived on throughout.

As the lead grew, several reserves got minutes and filled in nicely while starters rested.

Coming off of a 50-23 lead after three periods, a lineup largely comprised of Decatur bench players allowed only 10 points to be scored against them in the fourth quarter.

Decatur will play Stephenville at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Brock for the area championship.

DECATUR 66, VENUS 33

Decatur … 20 … 20 … 10 … 16 – 66
Venus … 8 … 8 … 7 … 10 – 33

INDIVIDUAL SCORING

Decatur- Shelby Drews 21, Macen Stripling 13, Hannah Dunning 13, Jasmyn Tate 7, Makayla Mayfield 7, Savannah Thompson 2, Raena Slate 2, Macee Reed 1.

Venus- Diamond Gauldock 12, Makayla Buck 12, Angel Leal 3, Madeline McKee 2, Haley Smith 2, Octavia Morgan 2.

Turnovers: Decatur- 12; Venus- 28

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Swimming: Flying to finish – Rowden caps stellar career at fourth state meet

Swimming: Flying to finish – Rowden caps stellar career at fourth state meet

Katey Rowden can’t hide her excitement over her weekend trip to Austin.

“I’m so excited. I’ve already packed my bags,” said the Decatur senior Monday.

Making Waves One Last Time

MAKING WAVES ONE LAST TIME – Decatur’s Katey Rowden will make her fourth trip to the state swim meet this weekend. Rowden will swim in the 5A 100 butterfly prelims Friday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But Rowden’s final trip to the University Interscholastic League state swimming championship is also admittedly emotional. Heading to Texas A&M next fall for college, she is not planning to swim on the next level.

“It’s crazy how quick it goes by,” Rowden said. “With this being my last high school meet, it’s pretty crazy to think about. It’s definitely bittersweet.”

Rowden will swim in the Class 5A 100 butterfly. She earned a spot in the state meet for a fourth straight year by winning the event at the 5A Region II meet in 59.14. She enters this weekend’s meet with the 12th best time.

She knows she will need her best time and likely under 59 seconds to make the finals. She believes she can get there having to swim only one race. At regionals, she competed in the 50 freestyle and on the 200 medley relay before the 100 butterfly.

“Swimming the 50 takes a lot out of me,” she explained. “I’ll definitely have energy I haven’t had before.

“I’ll have super competition and that will push me harder. I know it’ll take a low 58 to get to the finals.”

Rowden reached state as a freshman in the 50 and 100 freestyle. As a sophomore, she qualified in the 50. Last year, she returned to Austin to compete in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman credited Rowden’s strong work ethic and many hours in the pool for earning the trips to Austin.

“It’s really an honor to get to state all four years,” said Huffman.

Huffman worked with Rowden when she was first competing at the 8-year-old level.

“[This weekend] will be emotional for her and me,” Huffman said. “As a senior, to send her off at state is amazing.”

It was after Huffman took over the swim program last year that Rowden returned to competing in the buttefly.

“When I started coaching, I asked, ‘why are you not in the butterfly?'” Huffman said. “She’s really developed in the fly and been building speed.”

She now claims it’s her favorite event.

“It’s all about power,” Rowden said.

This weekend, she plans to give it her all.

“There’s no reason to hold back,” Rowden said. “It’s my last year.”

Her four trips to Austin have set a high bar for the young Decatur swim program. Building a strong program has been important to her. It’s evident as younger swimmers call her the “swim mom.”

Rowden is also quick to give others credit for their part in her success.

“It’s been all God. I’ve been blessed so much with coaches that push me and awesome teammates that have put up with me,” Rowden said. “I can’t take any of the credit. I’ve been blessed with awesome people.”

And to top an already amazing career, Rowden hopes to compete in Saturday’s finals for a chance to bring home a medal.

“It’d be an amazing accomplishment to place in the top eight,” Rowden said. “I’m holding nothing back.”

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Soccer: Eagles win in shootout

Keeper Jorge Aguilar stopped two of the five penalty kicks he faced Friday in a shootout to give the Decatur Eagles a 1-0 victory over Burkburnett.

“He was very active,” said Decatur coach Christopher Chance, who added that the defense played solid in front of Aguilar.

Leo Lopez, Juan Tapia, Tyler Wilson and Jaime Prado knocked home penalty kicks to give the Eagles the victory. Decatur played without captain Brandon Garza, who is out with a hamstring injury.

“Junior Morgan Mote has really answered the bell,” Chance said.

Decatur evened its record in 3-4A at 1-1.

The Decatur girls were blanked by Burkburnett 2-0 and fell to 0-2 in district.

The Decatur teams took on Springtown Tuesday.

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