Decatur School Board revises bond packages

Decatur school trustees whittled on possible bond packages Wednesday night until they had cut $2.6 million from previously discussed totals.

They walked into this week’s meeting with two potential propositions valued at $16,086,925 and left at 11 p.m. with two valued at $13,488,500.

“I’m hopeful that everyone can support the way we put it together,” said President Kevin Haney, addressing fellow board members. “I want everyone comfortable with how we’re packaging it.”

Earlier discussions about a bond focused on dividing it into three different packages, but at the last meeting Superintendent Rod Townsend suggested to the board that they consider just one package or two, at the most.

He presented a two-package option at this week’s meeting to kick off the discussion.

At the end of the night the consensus was to move forward with a $10 million package that includes $3.5 million for facilities, $2.7 million for transportation, $2.8 million for technology and $900,000 for security.

They also agreed that package two would have only one item – a multipurpose indoor practice facility with an estimated pricetag of $3.5 million.

They arrived at the final numbers after a lengthy discussion, the bulk of which revolved around turf at Eagle Stadium. Eventually that item was removed from the bond entirely, along with turf at the high school practice field, with the understanding that it could be installed at some point in the future using construction funds.

Early in the discussion, one of Haney’s arguments for turf was that it would eliminate the need for $810,000 in improvements at three other district locations. Those improvements wouldn’t be needed because the teams that use those facilities could use Eagle Stadium instead.

He said the installation of turf would happen eventually, “if for no other reason than water is getting scarce.

“How long are we going to water this field?” he said.

Board member Diana Mosley said she felt they were “pushing it with turf.” She explained that she was concerned some voters might reject the bond because of turf and in turn, prevent the district from being able to address other needs.

“I think we’ll be at risk of not getting the buses we need for our students,” she said. “I think there will be people concerned about how this is packaged.”

Board secretary Jeff Elder said turf at Eagle Stadium would save work at the Thompson Street field, and he felt like it would be the most bang for their buck.

At a certain point, bond advisor Jeff Robert of First Southwest suggested that something deemed controversial, like turf, could be pulled out of the bond and possibly done later with regularly budgeted construction funds. It was an idea most board members seemed to like, and they began reconfiguring the packages with that in mind.

In addition to turf, several other items were removed from the bond. Those include:

  • press box at Eagle Stadium
  • band bleachers at Eagle Stadium
  • tennis court concession stand and restrooms
  • extra work at the sixth grade campus, including a practice field, irrigation and bleachers
  • track fencing and parking lot at the high school
  • restrooms at the Thomas Street field
  • repaving at McCarroll Middle School and work on other parking lots

Townsend said any or all of these projects could be done independently of the bond with construction funds, but he said if the bond does not pass, those funds would likely be used to address the more critical transportation and security issues.

The board made a tentative plan to meet sometime next week to call the bond election. They have until Feb. 27 to do so.

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Decatur City Council makes board appointments

The Decatur City Council had more to do in their pre-meeting work session Monday than they did once the regular meeting started.

The work session included year-end reports on the airport, civic center, library, Main Street program, police department and human resources departments (see below).

The actual meeting saw the reappointment of Gary Cocanougher to place 9 and the appointment of Jeff Sicking to place 7 on the Decatur Hospital Authority board of directors.

Sicking is a new appointee, replacing Jay Bearden, who recently stepped down from the board.

The council also approved Mike Bowers’ request to close streets along the route of a 5K and kids 1-mile fun run event to be held Saturday, April 4, sponsored by Fit-N-Wise.

They did not make an appointment to the Wise County Appraisal District board of directors.

Afterward, Mayor Martin Woodruff called a workshop on the city’s proposed new zoning ordinance, asking councilmembers if anyone had a question or a suggestion after having a couple of weeks to look at it.

None did, so the ordinance will go as is into a series of public hearings scheduled in March. Barring any major hiccups, it should be approved at the council’s final March meeting.


Annual reports from several departments gave the council a snapshot of how things went during 2014.


Airport Director Brad Burnett reviewed the highlights, which included:

  • 52 aircraft and one helicopter are based at the airport;
  • there are 48 open, closed and privately-owned hangars;
  • TxDOT estimates the airport saw more than 14,000 takeoffs and landings in 2014;
  • the airport generates approximately 45 full-time jobs;
  • fencing and crack-sealing projects were completed in 2014, along with updating hangar leases and signage;
  • fixed-base operator (FBO) Decatur Jet Center sold 17,365 gallons of aviation gas in 2014, up 4 percent from last year;
  • they sold 13,868 gallons of jet fuel, down 9.4 percent from the previous year;
  • airport revenues made up 60 percent of expenses during the year, with some state money still coming for ramp expenses;
  • Burnett said in 2015 he hopes to get a newer courtesy vehicle; install PAPI (precision approach path indicator) lights for south-to-north landing as an added safety factor (they already have them for north-to-south landing); bury power lines directly south of the runway; upgrade the airport’s minimum standards; and finish cyclone fencing the airport perimeter next to public roadways.

He also plans to get fuel tanks cleaned within the next two or three years.

A major runway rehab project that will include a complete lighting replacement and the construction of 12 new T-hangars on the north end of the airport will enter the planning stage in 2016 and begin construction in 2017. The $1.3 million project will qualify for a 90 percent grant from TxDOT.


Civic Center Director Lori Sherwood reported the facility brought in $615,043 in 2014, up 8.5 percent over 2013. May, with $84,155 in bookings, was the biggest month, followed by December, with $82,057.

Sherwood hit the highlights of major events hosted at the Center, including political events, brunches, weddings and chamber events. More than 3,200 people attended events there in December.

She said weekends are booked through August, and December is already fully booked.


Library Director Patricia Peters reviewed programs and attendance for the council, including:

  • 108,455 items checked out;
  • 10,670 research questions answered;
  • 9.244 people who attended programs;
  • 8,442 hours of Internet/computer use; and
  • 1,333 people who used the library’s database.

The library added 4,689 new items to its collection during 2014, including books, audiobooks, DVDs, downloadable audiobooks and ebooks. That brought the library’s collection to 66,196 items available to the public.


Main Street Director Frieda Haley presented photos of projects that took place in the designated area over the past year, as well as flyers and a calendar of events the program has hosted.


Police Chief Rex Hoskins reported on yearly activity including:

  • 8,314 citations, up from 7,921 in 2013;
  • 2,454 warnings, up from 1,957 last year;
  • 374 accidents worked, up from 321 last year.

The Decatur police made 698 arrests in 2014, down slightly from 765 last year. Public intoxication, drug offenses and driving while intoxicated (DWI) were the biggest categories.

As far as crimes reported, the Decatur PD investigated 194 thefts, 43 assaults, 11 burglaries and 6 motor vehicle thefts. Out of $592,893 in property stolen, only $71,339 was recovered.

The Human Resources Department reported the city has 112 full-time and 14 part-time employees. Changing to a different health insurance carrier was a big item in 2014, along with training, counseling and other functions.

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Basketball: Lady Eagles blast Lake Worth

Decatur opened the game with a 12-1 run Tuesday and never looked back in a 58-15 win over Lake Worth.

The 8-4A-leading Lady Eagles (18-6) moved to 5-0 in the conference.

Decatur led 26-4 at halftime and then outscored Lake Worth 16-7 in the third quarter.

Macen Stripling led a trio of Lady Eagles in double figures with 24 points and five rebounds.

Makayla Mayfield chipped in 10 points with seven assists and five steals. Hannah Dunning scored 10 points with five boards. Jasmyne Tate put in eight points with four rebounds and three assists.

Decatur had an open date Friday. The Lady Eagles return to action Tuesday at Castleberry.

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Basketball: Eagles tame Lions

The Decatur Eagles rolled to 3-1 in District 8-4A Tuesday, blasting Lake Worth 95-42.

Senior guard Holt Garner led the Eagles (20-9) with 28 points.

Parker Hicks added 17 points. Bryce Elder had 12 and Aaron Shetter 11.

The Eagles were off Friday. They will start the second half of district play Tuesday at Castleberry.

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Power to the people, not the politicians

Oft op-ed contributor Lee Hamilton exposed his true roots in his recent spin in the Wise County Messenger (“It’ll never be time for term limits on Congress,” Jan. 28). In order to comprehend his perspective, one must recognize his 34 years as a liberal Congressman who now holds an Indiana University position at its Center on Congress.

Hamilton is absolutely correct in stating that no member of Congress would vote for term limits, thereby voting themselves out of a cushy job that pays $174,500 annually plus Cadillac healthcare and a posh pension for life.

Obviously, he does not recognize the provisions of Article V of the Constitution giving states the power to amend the Constitution in favor of term limits. The 22nd Amendment limited the terms served by the president to two. Does Hamilton think Congressional terms are sacred?

His comment, “Term limits are a distraction from the truly hard work that needs to be done”, deserves a response. I would submit many times the best thing the government can do is absolutely nothing at all! Every act of Congress robs “The People” of God-given liberties that are guaranteed by a duly adopted Constitution.

Frequent turnover of legislative representatives might deny voters the right to re-elect; however, it would assist in preventing federal homesteading in Congress and the accumulation of “power” over other “equal” representatives.

This “power” in Congress is one reason there is so much fraud and waste in government; it’s called cronyism! Time spent obtaining power and legislative wisdom reeks of self-serving special interest corruption.

Hamilton adds, “Kicking members of Congress out of their seats just as they’re gaining the ability to legislate effectively and oversee the government …” acknowledges an overgrown and out-of-control government in desperate need of oversight. Further, he states, “A politician elected to a limited term immediately begins to look for another job.”

YES! Our founders never intended the legislature to be made of professional politicians; it was supposed to be composed of citizen legislators. Why else would public education be so important for a democracy?

Hamilton uses the word “power” at least four times in describing the traits of a good congressman or politician. Apparently he has never heard of “power to the people.” The document that prescribes the oversight of a limited government with enumerated powers begins with “WE THE PEOPLE.”

I suggest he study it further.

Eddie R. Dunlap

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Kash Houston McKamie

Scott and Katy McKamie of Decatur announce the birth of a son, Kash Houston McKamie, on Jan. 23, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

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

Grandparents are Betty Anderson of Decatur and Charles and Rebecca McKamie of Ponder.

Great-grandparents are Gene Anderson of Alvord and Beverly Wood of Tyler.

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Jamila Morales

Juvenal Morales and Asalia Barrientos of Decatur announce the birth of their second daughter, Jamila Morales, on Jan. 22, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 19 3/4 inches long.

She has one sister: Jaylan Morales, 2; and has one brother: Joel Morales, 5.

Grandparents are Ruben and Florensia Morales and Jose and Eliza Barrientos.

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Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Hoyl Jr.

C.B. Jr. and Doris Hoyl of Decatur celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Jan. 27.


Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Hoyl Jr.

A celebration dinner for family and friends was to be held Jan. 31 at the Cantina.

C.B. and the former Doris Jones were married Jan. 27, 1945, in Punta Gorda, Fla. C.B. was born and raised in Wise County and was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He was also a rancher.

Doris was born and raised in Florida and was employed as a bookkeeper.

The Hoyls have two sons: Bryan, and wife, Jane; and Randall and wife, Darlena. They have one granddaughter, Leslieann.

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Tiffany Michelle Spencer and Kristopher Ray Handlond

Tiffany Michelle Spencer, daughter of John and Darlene Spencer, all of Amarillo, will marry Kristopher Ray Handlond, son of Robby and Leigh Ann Handlond, all of Decatur, on March 21, 2015, in Cleburne.

Spencer Handlord

Tiffany Michelle Spencer and Kristopher Ray Handlond

Mike Wheat will officiate.

The bride-elect attended Texas Tech University and is employed at Rann Elementary School in Decatur.

The prospective groom also attended Texas Tech and works for Texas Farm Bureau.

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Phylisia Marie Loucks and Cody Dean Kenner

Phylisia Marie Loucks of Wichita Falls, daughter of Vince and Carol Loucks of Decatur, will marry Cody Dean Kenner of Wichita Falls, son of Ken and Susan Kenner of Vernon, April 18, 2015, at The Wellington in Wichita Falls.

Louks Kenner

Phylisia Marie Loucks and Cody Dean Kenner

The bride’s father will officiate.

The bride-elect is a 2007 Decatur High School graduate and is studying business management at Midwestern State University. She works at Union Square Federal Credit Union.

The prospective groom is a 2005 graduate of Vernon High School and expects to graduate in May from Midwestern with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies.

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Kelley Gene Boyles

Kelley Gene Boyles

Kelley Gene Boyles, 58, a painter, died Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Decatur.

No service is scheduled at this time.

Kelley was born March 19, 1956, in Denton to James and Martha (Kelley) Boyles.

He is survived by his son, Kelley Lynn Boyles of Boyd; his mother, Martha Boyles of Blue Mound; brother James Alton Boyles III of Blue Mound; sister Linda Watson of Blue Mound; granddaughter Kaite L. Boyles of Bowie; the mother of his son, Deborah Boyles; and numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

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Fernando Cruz

Fernando Cruz

Fernando Cruz, 41, a pipeliner, died Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Decatur.

Mass of Christian burial was Jan. 30 at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church with Father Thomas Dsouza officiating. Burial followed at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Javier Cruz, Humberto Prado, Luis Martinez, Lazaro Padron, Ramiro Marquez, Ricardo Cruz and Fernando Cruz Jr.

Fernando was born April 20, 1973, in Mexico to Fidel and Socorro (Mendez) Cruz. He married Maria Reyes Marquez Feb. 13, 2010, in Decatur.

He worked as a pipeliner for G-Force and was a member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Decatur.

He is survived by his wife, Maria Cruz of Decatur; sons Christopher Cruz, Alejandro Cruz and Fernando Cruz Jr., all of Decatur; his parents, Fidel and Socorro Cruz of Decatur; sisters Yolanda Cruz, Maria Martinez and husband, Luis, Veronica Cruz and husband, Carlos Gam, Carmen Gonzalez and husband, Armando, Angeles Huerta and husband, Maximino – all of Decatur – and Araceli Cruz of Denton; brother Javier Cruz of Austin; nieces Melyssa Gam, Emma Gonzalez, Emily Gonzalez, Celeste Huerta and Jovanna Martinez, all of Decatur; nephews Rodrigo Cruz, Juan David Huerta, Jorge and Isaac Martinez, all of Decatur; and numerous cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.

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Decatur ISD to consider calling bond election

After months of discussions about needs of the Decatur school district, the school board is expected to make several bond election-related decisions at tonight’s meeting.

In addition to deciding whether to call a bond election, the board must make other decisions – such as what to include and whether to include those items in one or more packages.

Among the items discussed in recent months that could be included in a bond election are the following:

  • 25 buses and other vehicles
  • security measures such as card readers at all campuses and security cameras
  • adding another four-year replacement cycle for iPads at the elementary and middle school levels and laptops at the high school, wireless network enhancements and fiber optic cable replacement
  • facility improvements district-wide including motion sensors for lighting, expanded parking at Carson, new roof and gutters at McCarroll Middle School, numerous upgrades at the Support Services building including a new roof and HVAC unit, a stand-alone gym at Rann Elementary and additional parking at the high school
  • athletic facilities such as resurfacing the high school and middle school tracks, a press box and restrooms for the baseball/softball facility, synthetic turf at Eagle Stadium and the high school track, additional tennis courts at the high school, a concession/restroom facility near the tennis courts, an indoor multipurpose practice facility and the expansion of the press box at Eagle Stadium

Wednesday’s agenda also includes the usual monthly reports and recognitions.

Anyone wishing to address the board can do so in public forum, which is also included on the meeting agenda.

The meeting will be at the DISD Administration building, 307 S. Cates, and begins with a closed session at 6 p.m. followed by the open meeting.

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Swimming: 4-for-4 – Decatur’s Rowden wins 4th district gold in 50

Swimming: 4-for-4 – Decatur’s Rowden wins 4th district gold in 50

Decatur’s Katey Rowden finished undefeated in the 50 freestyle at the district level Saturday.

GOLDEN SMILE – Decatur’s Katey Rowden receives a gold medal after winning the 50 freestyle district title for a fourth time. The senior was named the girls swimmer of the year. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Rowden flew through the pool at the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Swim Center at the 6-5A meet in 25.41 to claim her fourth straight district gold medal in the event.

“It’s an awesome feeling. It was good to finish it off,” Rowden said.

It was one of two individual gold medals for the Decatur senior, who was named the meet’s top girl swimmer. She also won the 100 butterfly to bring her final tally of district individual gold medals to seven.

“That’s all God,” Rowden said. “I couldn’t do it without him.”

Rowden advances to the 5A Region II meet Feb. 6-7 as she tries for a fourth straight trip to the state meet.

“That’s what I’m shooting for – to get to state and, Lord willing, do good at state,” Rowden said.

In the 50 freestyle Saturday, Rowden put the race away before the turn with a powerful start. She ended up finishing more than a second-and-half ahead of Denton’s Delia Breedlove.

In the 100 butterfly, Rowden was even more impressive, winning by almost four seconds, finishing in 1:01.15.

She turned in a 28-second second split.

“My turns have got so much better and I felt strong my second 50,” Rowden said. “It helped my teammates were there cheering for me.”

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Swimming: Teter sprints to district crown

After taking a year off from swimming, Colton Teter is now a district champion.

The Decatur junior, who entered the District 6-5A meet seeded fifth, sprinted past the field to win the gold medal in the 50 freestyle Saturday.

“That meant a lot,” said Teter, who ran upstairs at the Grapevine-Colleyville Swim Center Saturday after his victory to celebrate with his family.

Teter finished in 23.69, narrowing out Grapevine’s Corey Beitler in 23.81.

“It was the push at the end [that won it],” Teter said.

Teter came into the meet with a seed time of 24.57.

Decatur’s Ethan Miles was third in 24-flat.

“It was more of a competition between teammates,” Teter said.

Teter and Miles advance to the 5A Region II meet Feb. 6-7 in Mansfield. The top six individuals and relays advance from each event.


Halfway through the 200 freestyle Saturday, Decatur junior Allie Blevins owned a five-second lead.

Headed for Gold

HEADED FOR GOLD – Decatur sophomore Allie Blevins splashes through the water Saturday on her way to winning the District 6-5A title in the 200 freestyle. Blevins finished second in the 500 freestyle. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Blevins went on to win by 12 seconds with a time of 2:10.19.

Blevins jumped out to the early lead and gained at least two seconds on the field with each lap.

“I was focused on my time,” Blevins said. “In swimming, you’re not just competing with other people. You’re competing with yourself.

“I’m happy. I’ve never got first at district.”

Blevins turned in a 29.75 on her first lap and completed the first 100 in 1:02.37.

“It’s a hard race. It’s an all-out sprint,” she said. “It was a good first 100. My second 100 was not as good as I had hoped.”

Blevins took second in the grueling 500 in 5:44.05.

She stayed with Grapevine’s Ariana Monteiro until the fifth lap, falling two seconds behind. Monteiro won by nearly six seconds.

“It was basically her and I,” Blevins said. “I tried to stay with her and didn’t want to get too far behind.”


MEDAL COLLECTORS – Decatur boys 200 medley relay members Trey Dale, Ethan Miles, Dylan Carter and Colton Teter look at their silver medals. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Nearing the wall as the anchor leg in the 200 freestyle relay, Ethan Miles stretched out to narrowly claim the silver medal for the Decatur squad that included Colton Teter, Robert Davila and Dylan Carter.

Miles touched the wall in 1:40.05 – 0.15 ahead of Denton’s final swimmer.

“It came down to who wanted it more,” Miles said. “When I started we were head to head. I fought the whole way.”

Miles repeated the stretch in the 100 backstroke and again claimed the silver medal. Miles finished in 1:00.12 – 0.01 ahead of Grapevine’s Nicholas Tsigas.

“On the backstroke, I can’t really see him,” Miles explained. “I gave it 100 percent the whole race. I can barely feel my legs.

“I like to keep it interesting.”


Decatur senior Kate Grant took third in the 100 backstroke in 1:11.32.

She finished a second off her seeded time. She said she cost herself a shot at second and better time with her turn.

“On my flip turn I was on the lane line,” Grant said. “I could’ve gone 1:10 or 1:09 with a better turn. In swimming, the turns really count.”


The Decatur girls 200 medley relay got Saturday’s meet off to a blazing start, turning in a 2:09.36 for third.

Standing Together

STANDING TOGETHER – Decatur girls 200 medley relay members Kate Grant, Allie Blevins, Katey Rowden and Emily Howdeshell celebrate bronze medals Saturday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The team of Kate Grant, Allie Blevins, Katey Rowden and Emily Howdeshell cut more than six seconds off its time coming into district.

“We didn’t expect to do that good,” Blevins said. “I’m proud of my team.”

Blevins, Caraline Cowdrey, Grant and Rowden took third in the 200 freestyle in 1:52.75.

The Decatur boys 200 medley relay squad of Ethan Miles, Trey Dale, Dylan Carter and Colton Teter finished third in 1:58.22 – two seconds better than its seed time.


Decatur coach Brooklyn Huffman was named 6-5A girls coach of the year after guiding her Lady Eagles to a third-place finish Saturday.

The Decatur Eagle boys also took third.

Huffman was pleased with the performance of all of her swimmers.

“[The girls] are going into regionals with some fast times,” Huffman said. “They cut a lot of time off in the medley relays.

“[The boys] were amazing. They gave all they had in every race.”



200 medley relay: 3. Decatur (Kate Grant, Allie Blevins, Katey Rowden, Emily Howdeshell) 2:09.36

200 freestyle: 1. Allie Blevins, 2:10.19; 5. Marissa Ledford, 2:38.2

50 freestyle: 1. Katey Rowden, 25.41; 8. Emily Howdeshell, 30.01

100 butterfly: 1. Katey Rowden, 1:01.15

100 freestyle: 7. Kate Grant, 1:04.55; 8. Emily Howdeshell, 1:06.43; 9. Caraline Cowdrey, 1:07.09; 11. Marissa Ledford, 1:09.76

500 freestyle: 2. Allie Blevins, 5:44.05

200 freestyle relay: 3. Decatur (Allie Blevins, Caraline Cowdrey, Kate Grant, Katey Rowden) 1:52.75

100 backstroke: 3. Kate Grant, 1:11.32; 5. Caraline Cowdrey, 1:16.08

RETURNING FOR WIN – After taking a year off, Decatur junior Colton Teter returned to the pool to win the district title in the 50 freestyle. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


200 medley relay: 3. Decatur (Ethan Miles, Trey Dale, Dylan Carter) 1:58.22

200 freestyle: 4. Robert Davila, 2:08.11; 8. Travis Young, 2:43.69; 10. Ziggy Crider, 2:46.47

50 freestyle: 1. Colton Teter, 23.69; 3. Ethan Miles, 24.0; 8. Dylan Carter, 25.81

100 butterfly: 7. Dylan Carter, 1:11.39

100 freestyle: 9. Robert Davila, 59.26; 10. Trey Dale, 1:01.52; 17. Caleb Black, 1:19.34

200 freestyle relay: 2. Decatur (Colton Teter, Robert Davila, Dylan Carter, Ethan Miles) 1:40.05

100 backstroke: 2. Ethan Miles, 1:00.12; 12. Ziggy Crider, 1:21.65

100 breastroke: 8. Trey Dale, 1:16.93; 14. Travis Young, 1:28.14; 15. Caleb Black, 1:38.53

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Basketball: Eagles squash Springtown

The Decatur Eagles bounced back from their only District 8-4A setback with an impressive 70-55 win over Springtown Friday.

The Eagles, ranked No. 15 in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 4A poll, improved to 19-9 and 2-1 in district. Decatur closed out the first half of league play at home Tuesday against Lake Worth.

Cade Lamirand knocked down four 3-pointers, pacing the Eagles against Springtown with 24 points. Lamirand had eight in the first quarter as Decatur jumped out to a 25-13 lead.

Lamirand added seven more, including one of the Eagles’ three treys, in the second quarter as Decatur took a 44-32 halftime lead.

Decatur hit eight 3-pointers in the game. Holt Garner had three for his nine points.

The Eagles built a 59-33 advantage going to the fourth quarter.

Parker Hicks finished with 13 points. Aaron Shetter added eight.

Decatur is off Friday before starting the second half of district.

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Basketball: Lady Eagles fly by Springtown

The Decatur Lady Eagles jumped on Springtown early Friday night to complete the sweep of the first half of District 8-4A play.

The Lady Eagles went on a 15-4 opening run on the way to the 48-34 victory.

Decatur, who reentered the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 4A poll at 24, improved to 17-6 and 4-0 in 8-4A.

Macen Stripling led the Lady Eagles with 22 points. Shelby Drews added 12. Makayla Mayfield chipped in seven and Savannah Thompson five.

Decatur led 29-15 at halftime and 38-23 going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Eagles started the second half of district play Tuesday against Lake Worth. Decatur is open Friday.

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Sylvia Jones

Sylvia “Laverna” Jones

Sylvia “Laverna” Jones, 88, a homemaker, died Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Decatur.

Funeral was Jan. 27 at the First Baptist Church in Alvord with Bill Cleveland and Brett Cottrell officiating. Burial was at Alvord Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Wayne Hobbs, Douglas Jones, Pat Campbell, Allen Campbell, Philip Grundy and Ricky Tow.

Laverna was born Feb. 13, 1926, in Alvord to John and Jessie (McElroy) Perkins. She married Jesse Jones Jr. June 11, 1941, in Decatur. Laverna was a member of the First Baptist Church in Alvord.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband.

Survivors include her sons, Roger Jones and wife, Luella, of Alvord, and Dwain Jones and wife, Rosemary, of Sunset; five grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

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Lena C. Merrill

Lena C. Merrill, 95, an insurance clerk, died Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Decatur.

No services will be held.

Lena was born Nov. 17, 1919, in El Paso to Gustavo and Teresa (Janke) Catsaron. She married Clyde Merrill in El Paso, and he preceded her in death.

She is survived by her brother, William Karstin of El Paso; grandson Tom Gillett of Portland, Ore.; niece Carolyn Wiggs of Sunset; and great-nieces Laura Wiggs of Houston and Wendy Hyatt of Keller.

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New ag center provides upgrades for growing program

New ag center provides upgrades for growing program

Decatur High School agriculture students may have a new place to house their animals, but calling it an ag barn would be selling it short.

Ready for the Show

READY FOR THE SHOW – Ridge Reynolds exercises his pig in the enclosed arena inside the Decatur FFA agricultural science project center. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The new Decatur FFA agricultural science project center has already become a source of pride among not only the ag teachers at the school but also the students.

“Every time I come up here, people are sweeping up and trying to take care of it,” said ag student Ridge Reynolds. “People are coming up here with their friends who have pigs also because they enjoy it up here. It’s one of the nicest facilities I’ve seen.”

The need for the facility was evident more than a year ago as a growing student population in the ag department naturally led to more animal projects. Many of those animals needed to be housed at the school’s ag barn, but it was full. To make room, many pens held two animals rather than one.

“That’s hard on the exhibitor and on the animal, too,” said ag teacher Meghan Woodall.

Last year, the school board approved building a new, larger facility. Construction began last summer, and pigs moved into the new building Jan. 9.

And not a moment too soon, because the facility hosted a pig camp the next day. Once the show was over, students were hard at work moving even more pigs into the facility. As of Wednesday, 48 pigs were enjoying their new home.

While that might sound like a lot, the building can house even more and still not feel crowded, ag teachers say.

Pigs may be the current occupants, but other kinds of animals could also be housed in the new facility.

In addition to the extra space, the facility features a show arena that is totally enclosed, meaning students can work with their animals in any weather condition.

“What I like the most about being in this facility, the kids want to be up here more, and I’m able to see them in action,” Woodall said. “Before, sometimes they were coming at times when I wasn’t here at school. … They are all out here together, and that’s important for these pigs, too, because in a show environment, they are going to be walking in the arena with several different pigs, so I think it will be good for them to work on their showmanship skills.”

Other improved features include a ventilation system and a watering system that creates far less mess for the students to clean up in their animals’ pens.

The facility also includes a room to store feed, another room where students can bathe and clip their animals, a room that will soon house lockers where students can keep their “barn clothes,” a storage area for stock show material and a classroom that can be used for meetings and could eventually be used by a fourth ag teacher if the program continues to grow as it has in recent years. That portion of the building is still being finished, but Woodall said she hopes the building is totally complete within a couple of weeks.

The pig camp held earlier this month was the first opportunity for the public to see the new facility, and Woodall said the reaction was positive.

“I had a few parents ask me, ‘How do you get something like this?'” she said. “I told them you have to have the community support, and you have to have the administrative support. And when you are working together for the common goal for these kids, that’s when it fits, and it fit for us,” she said.


The public’s next chance to see the new facility as well as the students and animals in the Decatur ag program is at the Decatur FFA Chapter Show Saturday, Feb. 7. The show will include heifers, lambs, goats, steers and pigs and is open to all members of Decatur FFA.

Registration is 9 to 9:30 a.m. (weight cards due by 9:30), and the show starts at 10. Cost is $10 per entry. Showmanship will be followed by the respective species show, as well as a celebrity showmanship contest.

Call Jim Allsup, 940-393-7286; Joey Brooke, 940-393-7297; or Woodall, 940-393-7285, for information.

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