Downtown building showcases local artists

Downtown building showcases local artists

When you think “art showcase,” you might not associate it with a downtown economic development office, but developer Mark Moran doesn’t see it that way.

A Walnut Street building, now home to the Decatur Economic Development Corp. and other offices, has also become a home for local artists.

Artful Pose

ARTFUL POSE – Mark Moran and Roxie Poe stand by some of Poe’s sculptures featured at 203 Walnut Street in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Sculptural panels by Roxie Poe of Decatur line the front hallway. The handmade, glazed stoneware pieces highlight everyday objects – seashells, chairs, flowers – and infuse them with more abstract elements.

“I wanted to do some wall art – some of it is very abstract, but it’s just a gathering of pieces that work together,” Poe said.

When Moran decided to renovate the building, he knew he wanted to decorate the walls with artwork from the community. Poe was one of the first people he called.

“I just think art is real important in town, especially since all the museums are in Fort Worth or Dallas,” he said.

Moran owns several buildings in the metroplex and said he’s always looking for more pieces to display in his properties.

“I say, the more artists, the better,” Moran said.

The interior of 203 Walnut looks more like a studio loft than an office building with lots of large windows and rustic elements. It was formerly a gymnastics facility, and Moran spent two years renovating it, often using parts of the old building to decorate the new one, like a door made out of the old flooring.

Poe’s artwork, along with other paintings and photographs line the walls.

Both Moran and Poe said they want to feature other artists in the future. Poe has sold one of her pieces already.

“There just haven’t been many activities for people to display their art, and this would be a nice way for people to tell their friends that they have something on display,” Poe said.

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Baseball: Decatur struggles at Brock Tournament

The Decatur Eagles had a rough weekend at the Brock Tournament.

The Eagles finished 0-3-1 at the tournament.

Decatur tied Lake Country 3-3. Trey Penny, Michael Hicks and Asa Johnson drove in runs. Mason Baur tripled.

Jaxon Terrell struck out seven and allowed three runs on six hits in four and two-thirds innings.

Mineral Wells blanked the Eagles 2-0. Decatur managed six singles in the game.

Baur took the hard-luck loss, allowing one earned run in five innings on nine hits. He struck out three and walked three.

Brock edged Decatur 5-4. Penny plated two of the Eagles’ runs. Baur doubled and scored twice.

Clifton topped Decatur 9-8. Jesus Gam went 3-for-3, driving in three runs. Ben Crofford added two RBIs.

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Golf: Eagles take sixth at Jesuit

Decatur junior Drew Jones fired a 76 Monday to tie for the seventh at the Jesuit Tournament held at Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas.

Jones led Decatur to a sixth-place finish with a 332. St. Mark’s won the tournament with a 303.

Fresh off the basketball court, Cade Lamirand and Bryce Elder shot matching 83s to tie for 22nd.

Hayden Bennett fired a 90 for 41st. Brendan Kerby took 46th with a 91.

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Timothy Allan Hartsell

Timothy Allan Hartsell

Timothy Allan Hartsell, 60, of Decatur died Friday, March 13, 2015, in Forth Worth.

Funeral was March 16 at the First Baptist Church in Chico with the Rev. Charles Reed of Nocona officiating. Burial followed at Pleasant Grove Cemetery No. 3 in Chico.

Pallbearers were Aaron Hand, Sean Phillips, Jeremiah Phillips, Joey Wilson, Ty Hartsell, Pete Hartsell, Pate Cayce, Eric Garcia, Chance Wilson and Rodney Cayce.

Tim was born July 22, 1954, in Bridgeport to Harlan Richard and Juanita (Faith) Hartsell. He was an analyst at Windrock. His hobbies included woodworking, fishing and yard work. On Sept. 8, 1972, Tim married Dorthy Newton.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his in-laws, Carmine and Lillie Faye Newton.

He is survived by his wife; son Pete Hartsell and wife, April; daughter Tesa Hartsell and fianc , Marshall Pittman; brothers Danny Hartsell and wife, Darla, and Lynn Hartsell and wife, Debbie; sisters Jane Cayce, Deanna Wilson and husband, Ron, and Debbie Hand and husband, Tim; grandchildren Eric Garcia, Madelyn Garcia, Destiny Hartsell, Kylie and Kelsey Hartsell.

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Former Decatur student wins national award

A former Decatur High School student was recently recognized by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for her work on The University of Oklahoma’s yearbook last year.

Racey Burden

Racey Burden, an OU senior, garnered three awards – first place for sports writing and second place for caption/cutline writing and endsheet design.

What’s more impressive is that Burden designed “The Sooner,” OU’s yearbook, from scratch, with no adviser.

When the original adviser left for another job and the student media director left in the midst of the job search, Burden said the OU Publications board decided to leave the yearbook staff to their own devices.

“They didn’t forget about us by any means, it was just a collective decision by the board that we could take care of ourselves while they tried to fill the positions,” Burden wrote in an email from Italy, where she is currently studying abroad. “Frankly, at first I thought they were crazy to look at myself and my managing editor, both juniors, and put us completely in charge of a book that generates a good chunk of revenue for OU Student Media.

“In the end, it was kind of cool to be the one with the final say,” she wrote.

Burden credits the trial-by-fire experience with helping her grow closer to her staff and improving her journalism skills.

“All the editors on staff grew so much closer that year than they ever had while I’d worked there, and I think it was because we had to rely on each other so much more. My managing editor Max Inmon and I barely knew each other at the beginning of the year, and now I would call him one of my best friends. That’s what spending 20 to 30 hours together a week will do for you,” she wrote.

Burden also named Decatur High School’s Cindy Berry as someone who showed her what a great work ethic looked like while she was the editor of “The Journal,” DHS’s school newspaper.

“Cindy always believed a student paper would be student-produced, so she gave us a lot of the responsibility for getting things done, which helped a lot when I had to work late on Friday nights at OU,” Burden wrote.

Berry said she could see Burden’s leadership potential from the beginning, when she came to Berry’s journalism class as a freshman.

“She wasn’t that outgoing at first, but was very sharp, and the more authority she was given, the more she morphed into a silent leader that led by example and set the bar high for her staff,” Berry said. “I’m really proud to see all she’s accomplished so far at OU.”

As for what’s next, Burden is currently enjoying her stay in Italy and plans to graduate from OU later this year. She plans to work as a reporter somewhere in the DFW area and might pursue graduate school in the future.

“I’d like to get a Master’s in education and maybe be an adviser for a college yearbook or newspaper,” she wrote.

At this point, she definitely has the experience.

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Ivie Grace Boutique

Location: 119 W. Main Street, Decatur

Phone: 817-360-2433

Email address:


Owner: Terri Ivie

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Products/services: Womens and girls’ clothing XS-3XL, fashion jewelery, boots and shoes and home decor

Ribbon Cutting

RIBBON CUTTING – Ivie Grace Boutique held a ribbon cutting March 6 at the Decatur Chamber of Commerce. Pictured are Camille Minor, owner Terri Ivie, Aubrey Pittman and Leslie Roberts. Messenger photo by Leisa Gage

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Dhom tapped for Assistant VP

Legend Bank has named Frank Dhom the Assistant Vice President, Lender at its Decatur location.

Dhom has more than seven years of commercial lending experience.

After completing his Bachelors in Business Administration at Southern Illinois University, Frank continued his education at DeVry University, graduating in 2008 with a Masters in Accounting and Financial Management. Prior to joining Legend Bank, Dhom was employed at First Financial Bank in Robinson, Ill. as Commercial and Ag Lender, Vice President.

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Soccer: Missed chances add up in Eagles loss – Springtown holds off Decatur 2-0

The Decatur Eagles suffered their first home loss Wednesday and missed a chance to move into one of District 3-4A’s top two seeds.

Springtown booted in goals in each half in a 2-0 victory over Decatur at Eagle Stadium.

Decatur failed to score on its eight shots.

Using His Head

USING HIS HEAD – Decatur’s Marc Lara heads the ball away from a Springtown player during the Eagles’ loss Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“We had a lot of opportunities,” said Decatur coach Christopher Chance. “We just missed on our opportunities.”

Decatur fell to 4-4 in the district, heading into their final league contest against Springtown Monday.

FIGHTING FOR BALL – Decatur’s Jaime Prado runs for the ball during the Eagles’ 2-0 loss to Springtown Wednesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“We’re in the playoffs. It’s all about seeding,” Chance said.

Springtown outshot Decatur 9-8 and controlled the midfield most of the first half.

Decatur keeper Jorge Aguilar fended off the Porcupines’ first three shots, including diving on a dangerous crossing pass in the 29th minute.

With eight minutes left in the first half, Springtown’s Ricky Reynoso and Wriley Russell got an open run on Aguilar. Russell punched in a goal off of Aguilar’s hands with an assist from Reynoso.

“[Aguilar] got a hand on it,” Chance pointed out. “He just wasn’t strong enough to hold on.”

Down 1-0, the Eagles went on the attack in the second half. Decatur set up five solid scoring chances in the first 13 minutes after halftime but couldn’t get the equalizer.

“We’ve got to start capitalizing and putting the ball in the net,” said Decatur senior Tyler Wilson. “When we have the chance, we have to take the shot.”

Decatur had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the 56th minute as Jaime Prado drew a penalty in the box. Juan Tapia took the penalty kick but missed wide right.

With 15 minutes left, Springtown added a second goal as a shot sailed over Aguilar.

Decatur managed two more shots that were turned away by Springtown keeper Jobani Chavez, including a diving stop with four minutes left.

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Teddy Lee Wilson

Teddy Lee Wilson, 65, a prison guard, died Saturday, March 7, 2015 in Decatur.

No services will be held.

Teddy was born on February 13, 1950 to J.C. and Rosa (Johnson) Wilson in Fort Worth. He was a prison guard and worked in private security.

He was preceded in death by his father, J.C. Wilson and his daughter, Emily Wilson.

He is survived by his daughters, Jodie Wilson Moss of Mansfield, Amber Wilson of Burleson, and Rachael Wilson of Decatur; his mother, Rosa Wilson and husband Gaylen of Decatur; his brothers, Dennis Jay Wilson and wife Connie of Decatur, and Robert Allan Wilson of Decatur; his sister, Shirley Rose Russell and husband Jeff Dean of Wichita Falls.

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Breleigh Grace Jones

Jacob Jones and Sara Gaither of Decatur announce the birth of a daughter, Breleigh Grace Jones, on March 5, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 inches long.

Grandparents are Gina Robinson, Brandon Jones and Fred and Linda Gaither.

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Ayla Everly Long

Rachel and William Long of Decatur announce the birth of a daughter, Ayla Everly Long, on March 3, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Grandparents are Sheri Huling of Decatur, Cheryl and James Cole of Decatur and Joe and Sherri Long of Frisco.

Great-grandparents are John and Betty Huling and Bettie DeFiore.

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Powerlifting: Williams claims regional crown – Decatur lifter earns state spot

Protecting an injured hand, Dakota Williams decided to play it safe on deadlift, pulling up 550 pounds on his final try.

“My hand has been getting worse and worse. Luckily we had the days off [because of snow] to rest,” Williams explained.

Doing the Heavy Lifting

DOING THE HEAVY LIFTING – Bridgeport’s Tyler Jennings completes a squat Saturday during the regional meet in Chico. Jennings won the 242-pound class lifting 1,345 pounds. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The 550 pounds were more than enough to give Williams the 220-pound title at the Region 6 Division 2 meet Saturday at Chico High School. Williams lifted a total of 1,415 pounds to earn his first trip to state.

“This means a lot,” said Williams, who dropped from the 275-pound class last year to the 220 division. “I remember my freshman year spotting and thinking it’d be great to be at this spot.”

Williams finished with a squat of 580, setting a school record in the weight class.

He followed that with a bench press of 285.

Going into deadlift he trailed Mineral Wells’ Johnny Morales by 15 pounds.

Williams pulled 75 more pounds than Morales on deadlift to win the title.

“I was trying to do the math and look up his max,” Williams said. “I thought I had him but wanted to make sure.

“This makes all those mornings of getting up early to work out worth it.”

Reaching the Top

REACHING THE TOP – Decatur’s Dakota Williams won the 220-pound class at the regional meet in Chico. Messenger photo by Richard Greene


After his squat of 490 pounds, Bridgeport senior Tyler Jennings was in eighth place with a lot of ground to make up in the 242-pound class.

“I was nervous,” Jennings said. “I was afraid I wasn’t going to get to the top.”

But Jennings moved up the standings with his class-best 375 pounds on bench press. He then captured the title, pulling 480 on deadlift.

“I didn’t know if I could pull enough to get up there,” Jennings said. “I was counting on a couple of guys not getting their lifts.”

He tallied 1,345, edging Sanger’s Ryan Langley by five pounds.

“It’s an honor. I’ve only been doing this for two years,” Jennings said.


Trailing Decatur’s Rickey Roberts going into his last lift, Bridgeport’s Bronson Burks loaded the bar with 30 pounds more than his previous best deadlift.

Burks pulled the 615 pounds to pass Roberts for second place in the 275-pound class and earn a state spot.

“It felt really good to do it,” Burks said. “I was nervous that Rickey would catch me and tie and he’d advance because he weighs less.”

Burks finished with a total of 1,445 pounds. He had a squat of 525 and bench press of 305.

Burks said he only got his openers on squat and bench.

Roberts took third with 1,430. Roberts was lifting at regionals after tearing his Achilles tendon last fall.

“It’s been a crazy year after tearing the Achilles and being able to come back and compete in powerlifting,” Roberts said.

“I left too much on bench.”

Roberts recored 555 on squat an 290 on bench press before his 585 on deadlift.

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Baseball: Hicks hits two homers for Eagles in tourney

The Decatur Eagles won their first two games Friday and then dropped two on Saturday at the Bowie Tournament.

The Eagles knocked off Bowie and Alvarado in one-run games, 4-3 and 2-1. Decatur suffered a 9-8 loss to Peaster and 7-3 setback to Bowie.

“I thought we played well,” said Decatur coach Brian Tickell. “We played especially good on Friday. Saturday, we just couldn’t close out innings.

“Early on not being on the field because of the weather, we made a couple of errors.”

Michael Hicks homered and drove in three runs in the 4-3 win over Bowie. Tyler Ticknor picked up the victory with four strikeouts.

Mason Baur and Jaxon Terrell combined to hold Alvarado to a run on three hits in seven innings of a 2-1 victory.

Clayton Egle hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. Tanner Shields doubled. Jesus Gam added the other RBI-single.

Peaster put together a six-run fourth inning to rally to beat the Eagles 9-8.

Michael Hicks hit his second homer of the year and drove in three runs.

Bowie scored five runs in the first two innings and held on for a 7-3 win on Saturday. Ticknor went 2-for-2. Terrell and Ben Crofford each drove in runs.

The Eagles return to action Thursday at the Brock Tournament with a pair of games at 9 and 11 a.m.

The North Texas Tournament of Champions, which was canceled Feb. 26-28, has been rescheduled for March 19-21 in Decatur.

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Softball: Lady Eagles record one win at tourney

The Decatur Lady Eagles managed to get in six games Friday and Saturday at the Bowie Tournament.

Decatur finished 1-4-1 at the snow-shortened tournament.

The Lady Eagles split with Paradise and tied Fort Worth Christian. The Lady Eagles fell to Bowie, Paradise, Petrolia and Krum.

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Track: Kyle, Neighbors take golds at Sanger

Decatur’s Jessica Kyle and Nicole Neighbors claimed victories Friday at the Indian Relays in Sanger.

Kyle won the 800 in 2:26.87.

Neighbors recorded the best time in the 300 hurdles in 49.07. She was second in the 100 hurdles in 16.58.

Jacob Kevetter won the 110 hurdles in 15.35 and followed that with a victory in the 100 in 11.51.


800: 1. Jessica Kyle, 2:26.87; 5. Kaylee Rhine, 2:36.3

100 hurdles: 2. Nicole Neighbors, 16.58; 5. Victoria Tune, 17.83

100: 2. Kallie Bonner 13.42

400: 5. Kaylee Rhine, 1:05.42

300 hurdles: 1. Nicole Neighbors, 49.07; 6. Victoria Tune, 54.06

200: 6. Kallie Bonner, 28.57

4×400: 4. Decatur, 4:23


4×100: 2. Decatur, 44.68

800: 5. Christian Isaac, 2:09.87

110 hurdles: 1. Jacob Kevetter, 15.35

100: 1. Jacob Kevetter, 11.51; 5. Dru Anderson, 11.71; 6. Gunnar Parker, 11.75

4×200: 3. Decatur, 1:35.74

400: 5. Christian Isaac, 55.51

300 hurdles: 4. Jacob Kevetter, 42.33

200: 5. Dane Fitzgerald, 24.25

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Vote ‘yes’ for Props 1 and 2

My name is Tony Mooney, and I am a 1988 graduate of Decatur High School. The Mooney family has called Decatur home for 125 years, and I was born and raised here.

After my wife and I completed our military service and it came time to select a community in which to raise our children, we chose Decatur, not just because of familial ties but also because of the wonderful educational system, the robust small-town life and the proximity to the Metroplex.

As a product of that educational system, I went on to serve in the United States Navy, and I’m a Gulf War veteran. I earned awards and accolades and was honorably discharged upon completion of my term of service. While in the Navy, I met and married my wife; we have been together for more than 23 years.

We have two amazing children, who have an array of talents and interests that rarely cross-pollinate so we stay very busy with them.

I also hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, summa cum laude, from Park University and am a member of Who’s Who Among American College Students.

I am a Decatur Eagle. I marched in band, played football and threw the discus and shot put in track. I was an officer in multiple clubs and participated in UIL academic events.

All the success I’ve had later in life started with the education I received and people I encountered while growing up in Decatur. From Stephen Wren and John Fostel, to Martin and Jana Woodruff and Kelly Tibbels to Kathy Bennett and J.E. Carson, I was influenced by quality people who called Decatur their home.

And just how do you attract the type of quality people to a small community who go on to influence students and others?

You do so by ensuring three things are solid and reliable – the educational system, medical care and community economy/growth.

I would like to address one of those features and how it correlates to the current bond issue.


A. Transportation – We live in a rural community with a student population of more than 3,000 children. A high percentage of those children live outside the city-proper and must be bused in. In addition, rural roads are not always in the best of conditions, and we must have safe, reliable, dependable buses to transport our kids.

Also, the district must maintain a fleet of service vehicles to get facility maintenance personnel to and from locations, as well as transport teachers, coaches and administrators to and from events along with the students. It is imperative that the fleet of buses and vehicles be in good condition and/or upgraded/replaced to maintain the level of safety needed.

B. Security – The current security systems in place at DISD are simply not adequate to keep up with the student population as well as district requirements for asset production. More robust surveillance, access control and security procedures must be provided to adjust to the changing world we live in, to ensure the safety and well-being of students, employees and district assets. In some cases, new procedures such as access-controlled doors, would preclude the need for older style locking mechanisms and not only make the area more secure and easier managed, but also save the district money over the long-term by doing away with the need for conventional keys, re-keying and key management procedures.

C. Technology – We live in an era of Moore’s Law where the exponential improvement in digital electronics creates a situation where computer technology can become obsolete within a few years of release, in some cases even less time than that! It is incumbent upon us to ensure our children have the proper tools to learn and be productive. Managing a technology growth plan for upgrading is part and parcel of an IT director’s job, and Troy Bagwell has done an amazing job of ensuring our students and teachers have the tools necessary to learn and teach. That technology must be improved however, and it is time to do so.

D. Facilities – Facilities break down over time. From HVAC units, to plumbing, to windows, to brick and mortar and everything in between, we must improve our facilities as well as plan for more facility infrastructure to accommodate growth.

Proposition 1 is, in my opinion, a need across the board. It addresses many concerns such as lack of security, older vehicles, technology improvements and facility support. These “needs” add up to be the support structure required to ensure our children are going to school every day to a safe environment where they can focus on learning and compete at a district, regional and state level. This proposition, if passed, will help to provide them with the skills and abilities needed to go on to the next level; be it college, general employment or service.


A. DHS Multi-purpose Center – While I understand why Proposition 2 was separated from Proposition 1, it is a simple fact that the two are mutually inclusive.

We want to raise our families in a quality community rife with opportunities for our children and young adults. In addition, we should want our community to grow in a manner that showcases our town folk and makes us proud to say we live in Decatur.

Change is a constant and in order to try to propagate positive change we’ve got to do what we can to “stack the deck.”

That statement goes back to my opening thoughts on what grows a community.

In order to attract quality people to the community, we must have the facilities to support the “qualities” that might bring families here.

Decatur has become a force in academics and sports. We compete every year beyond the district level in almost every facet from volleyball, to band, to journalism, football, rodeo, theater arts, to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

During the course of seasonal competition, one thing that has been a detriment is the lack of an indoor facility to utilize in inclement weather and at night. A multi-purpose center will alleviate that concern by providing a facility that can be utilized by virtually every activity that has to step outdoors and otherwise. Every athletic endeavor will be able to leverage the facility right along with band and any other activity the teachers imagine. The facility is not limited to football or even just sports, which seems to be the main concern. It can be used for various teaching situations such as the science environment, vocational activities and anything else the faculty can dream up.

It can be a showcase that attracts those quality families we want to set roots in Decatur and help grow our community.

The cost of the two propositions are not astronomical. They represent a very real, manageable investment in our school’s growth and the quality of education our children will receive. They represent a chance for Decatur to take the next step in developing its infrastructure, which helps to facilitate the education of our young people. It gives DISD an opportunity to compete for the mind share and abilities of quality students and educators.

In short, it will help propel DISD to the next level which, in turn, helps to propel our community to the next level. Please review the two propositions, their attributes, their strengths and their weaknesses. Ask questions and do some research. Vote for them on the basis of their value to the district and the quality they will bring to our children.

Vote yes for our children.

Tony Mooney

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Betty Jo Caraway Askey

Betty Jo Caraway Askey

Betty Jo Caraway Askey, 82, of Decatur died Thursday, March 5, 2015, in Decatur.

Graveside service was March 10 at Sweetwater Cemetery with Dr. Van Gardner officiating.

Betty was born March 30, 1932, to Morgan and Gracie (Smirl) Shurbet in Crafton. She was a homemaker.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents; her husbands, James Caraway, James Dunlap, and Douglas Askey; two sisters; five brothers; granddaughter Sally Longoria; and great-grandson Xander Whitehead.

She is survived by daughters Barbara Ford and husband, Jim, of Springtown, Judy Strange and husband, Alvin, of Decatur, and Lisa Workman and husband, Terry, of Chico; sons Ricky Caraway and wife, Laurie, of Eighty Four, Penn., Billy Caraway and wife, Donna, of Decatur, and Kelly Caraway and wife, Cristy, of Paradise; 13 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

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Nelda Bernice Milligan

Nelda Bernice Milligan

Nelda Bernice Milligan, 83, of Decatur died Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Decatur.

Funeral was March 10 at The River Church in Decatur with Greg Mohr officiating.

Nelda was born Oct. 15, 1931, in Decatur to Thomas Lamar and Mildred (Cooper) Gentry. She attended Weatherford Junior College and received her associate’s degree. Nelda married Dee Loyd Milligan Jan. 11, 1947, in Decatur, and they were married 55 years. He preceded her in death in 2002. She was also preceded in death by her parents and brother Billy Tom Gentry.

Nelda was a retired educational secretary.

She is survived by her sons, Richard David Milligan of Denton, Paul Loyd Milligan and wife, Patsy, of Woodland Park, Colo., Mark Lee Milligan of Fort Worth and Max Dee Milligan of Fort Worth; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and nieces, nephews and friends.

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Huddleston graduates OSU

Matthew Kent Huddleston of Decatur graduated from Oklahoma State University in December 2014 with a degree in architecture and a Spanish minor. Huddleston is an alumni member of the Farm House Fraternity at OSU. He is employed at HKS Architecture Firm in Dallas. Huddleston is the son of Kent and Jamie Huddleston of Decatur.

Posted in Education Headlines0 Comments

Educated guess spells big win

”I just remember maize. It was so intense,” said Young Elementary fifth grader BreeAnna Rundle-Murillo. “I guessed how to spell it, but it was an educated guess.”

Champion Speller

CHAMPION SPELLER – Young Elementary School fifth grader BreeAnna Rundle-Murillo won the area spelling bee and will compete at regional competition March 18 at Texas Christian University. A win at TCU means a trip to compete in Washington, D.C. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Rundle-Murillo clutched her first-place trophy close to her chest while recalling the word that led to her winning Wise County’s area spelling bee.

She will compete in the regional spelling bee March 18 at Texas Christian University in Forth Worth.

“I’ve been competing for three years, and before now, I’ve only gotten third place,” Rundle-Murillo said.

To prepare this year, she practiced during lunch with her friends. They’d quiz each other and cross correctly-spelled words from their long lists. She even studied while at church the night before the competition and then when she got home.

She studied until she was too tired to study any longer.

“I would really like to go to Washington, D.C.,” Rundle-Murillo said.

Washington, D.C., is home to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation’s largest and longest-running bee, according to It has been held every year since 1925, except from 1943 to 1945. The spelling bee was first televised in 1946 by NBC and now airs on ESPN.

According to Young Elementary School Assistant Principal Lana Thompson, Rundle-Murillo first won her class spelling bee. Then she won a schoolwide bee to advance to area.

“The spelling bees are something just for the kids – something that helps them get motivated,” Thompson said.

Wise County’s top speller has memorized a grade-level list, a schoolwide list and a district-level list. Judges at regional competition can choose words from any of those lists.

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