Decatur ISD Spotlight Students for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carson Elementary

Carson Wicker

Grade: 5th
Parents: Brandt and Curren Wicker
Favorite subject: Math
Hobbies or extracurricular activities: Baseball, CREW @ First Baptist Church, and working out at JRobs

Why this student was chosen: “Carson Wicker depicts integrity on a daily basis. He can always be counted on to jump in, volunteer to do a job and do what’s right even when no one is looking. Carson has recently been selected to the 5th Grade Leadership Team for Carson Elementary. When asking his teachers, they said that they have never had a kid quite like him. He is amazing and one-of-a-kind. Carson celebrates others’ successes, helps struggling students, and sets a good example for others.” – Principal Stephanie Quarles

Rann Elementary

Cody Hughes

Parents: Ronnie and Frances Hughes
Grade: 5th
Favorite Subject: Math
Hobbies: Drag racing, chess

Why this student was chosen: “Cody is a great kid with a super attitude. He goes out of his way to help others whenever he can. Cody is truly a Rann Eagle that exemplifies responsibility, respectfulness, and kindness.” – Principal Melonie Christian

Young Elementary

Eunice Ruiz

Grade: 5th
Parents: Maria and Eddie Ruiz
Favorite subject: Math
Hobbies or extracurricular activities: Plays soccer and volleyball; attends Gateway Church in Southlake; like to play with friends

Why this student was chosen: “As a dedicated and loyal member of Young Elementary’s Leadership Academy, fifth grader Eunice Ruiz exemplifies a model student. Academically, Eunice excels in math and works hard to achieve her best in every subject. Her gifts include her kind demeanor and her willingness to help other students achieve and feel included. Eunice continues to work hard to learn English as her second language and is almost fluent in both English and Spanish.” – Principal Gabe Keese

McCarroll Middle

Ji-Min Song

Grade: 8th
Parents: Achee Song and Horim Song
Favorite subjects: Band and history
Hobbies or extracurricular activities: Band, learning new instruments, and church

Why this student was chosen: “Ji-Min was chosen because of her consistent positive attitude. She is an outstanding student who shows a willingness to help others.” – Principal Wayne Tamplen

Decatur High School

Josh Santos

Grade: 12th
Parents: Alfred and Jean Santos
Favorite subject: English
Hobbies or extracurricular activities: Reading and Writing

Why this student was chosen: “Josh participates in Coach Park’s video production class. He and his classmates have begun doing video announcements that highlight the work that other classmates are performing. These announcements will be posted on our campus website and Facebook page.
He has done fantastic job as our campus anchorman! One of the greatest fears people have is public speaking, but each day he shows a great deal of poise, and he is extremely eloquent in his speech.” – Principal Jeff Russell

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Football: Night and Day – Eagles put mistakes behind them, rolling to win

Football: Night and Day – Eagles put mistakes behind them, rolling to win

The difference Saturday for the Decatur Eagles was truly night and day.

After stopping themselves with four turnovers and 55 yards in penalties in the first half Friday night, before a storm rolled in to postpone the second half, the Eagles were nearly flawless when play resumed on Saturday.

All Alone

ALL ALONE – Decatur’s Gunnar Parker finds an open area on the field during the Eagles’ win over Burkburnett. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur (4-2, 1-0) scored touchdowns on its first three second-half possessions on the way to a 42-19 victory over Burkburnett in the District 4-4A Division I opener at Eagle Stadium.

Decatur quarterback Justin Myers, who threw a pair of picks in the first half, came back Saturday to throw and run for a score. Myers piled up 184 yards rushing and threw for 236, completing 20 of his 24 attempts.

“Last night I made too many mistakes,” Myers said. “Today, we came out as a team and played better. The coaches did a good job helping us play with confidence.

“I made sure I took care of the football. I didn’t take care of the football last night.”

The Eagles finished with 565 total yards, rolling up 268 in the second half.

“Yesterday we didn’t take care of the ball and today we did,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “Last night, the only things that really stopped us were turnovers and penalties.”

Decatur rushed for 329 yards. Payton McAlister ran for 106 on 14 carries. He also caught six passes for 92 yards.

The Decatur defense also turned in a solid second half, forcing Burkburnett to punt on three of its five possessions. The final punt was returned 74 yards by Ryan Durdon for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 42-12 with 4:57 left.

It was the second touchdown of the half for Durdon, who caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Myers midway through the third quarter. Durdon finished with six catches for 62 yards.

After Durdon’s touchdown catch put Decatur up 21-12, the Eagles’ defense protected the lead with a goal-line stand. Brandon Clowers tackled Burkburnett quarterback Bryan Lewis at the 1-yard line on fourth down.

“I was proud of the defense. They had a great game,” Fuller said. “They really stepped up with the goal-line stand.”

Of Burkburnett’s 300 yards, nearly half came on two plays – Brandon Ingram’s 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Lewis’ 48-yard run in the third quarter on the drive that was stopped at the 1.

Taking over at the 1 after the stop, the Eagles marched the length of the field in 12 plays. Myers hit Payton McAlister with a pair of passes to get it started. A 5-yard run by Eddie Martinez on a fourth-and-1 kept the drive alive and set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Myers.

The Eagles followed that 99-yard march with a 17-play, 81-yard drive. A fourth-down roughing the passer call on Burkburnett at the 4-yard line set up Martinez’ 2-yard run to the end zone.

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Football: Decatur tries for 2-0 start to league

After correcting their first-half mistakes, the Decatur Eagles rolled to a victory Saturday over Burkburnett in the 4-4A Division I opener.

Decatur (4-2, 1-0) will now leave the friendly confines of Eagles Stadium to meet another team that scored a win in their league opener, the Mineral Wells Rams 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rams Stadium.

In spite of their four first-half turnovers and more than 50 yards of penalties, the Eagles dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage against Burkburnett in the 42-19 win. The Decatur offense piled up 565 yards, while the defense made a big goal-line stand and held the Bulldogs to 300 yards – half came on two plays.

“I felt we play really good on both sides of the ball,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “Defensively, we gave up one big play in the second half. Offensively, moving the ball was never a problem. We didn’t punt once.

“All [district games] are so big. Three teams are feeling good now and three teams are feeling desperate at 0-1, trying to get back in it.”

Decatur quarterback Justin Myers turned in another solid outing, running for 184 yards and throwing for 236, completing 20 of his 24 passes. He did throw two picks.

Running back Payton McAlister added 106 yards rushing and six passes for 92 yards.

Decatur will face a Mineral Wells team that has experienced a resurgence this year after going 1-9 last season. The Rams are 4-2 and beat Wichita Falls Hirschi 31-21 last Thursday.

“They are a good football team,” Fuller said. “They have good athletes and kids that can run. They are really well-coached. I feel they are sky-high and playing with a lot of confidence.”

Mineral Wells quarterback Caleb Acosta has piled up 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air. Jordan Duckett is his top target, catching 26 passes for 527 yards and four scores. Braxton Allen has 30 catches, and Coy Barrick 24 for a combined 608 yards and six touchdowns.

“They are a lot like us offensively with their screens and quick game,” Fuller said.

“Defensively, we have to do a good job in coverage and get pressure on the quarterback.”

DECATUR (4-2, 1-0) AT MINERAL WELLS (4-2, 1-0)

7:30 p.m. at Ram Stadium

Decatur: Harris Rating 216

Notable: Payton McAlister has a combined 14 touchdowns receiving and rushing.

Mineral Wells: Harris Rating 207

Notable: Three Rams receivers have 24 or more receptions.

Harris line: Decatur by 7

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Volleyball: Lady Eagles extend winning streak

The Decatur Lady Eagles hit .511, putting down 51 kills in just 90 attempts Friday in a three-game sweep of Springtown.

Decatur (27-10) won 25-9, 25-16, 25-13, finishing the first half of District 8-4A play a perfect 4-0.

Decatur extended its district winning streak to 54 matches. The Lady Eagles’ consecutive sets winning streak in district reached 128.

Makayla Mayfield led the Decatur hit parade with 19 kills. Caroline Lowery finished with 14, and Cooper Martin 13.

Setter Stormi Leonard handed out 40 assists to six different hitters.

Mayfield and Maclaine Lowery served a pair of aces each.

Defensively, Mayfield made 18 digs. Caroline Lowery had 13, and Cooper Martin 12. Maclaine Lowery dug 11 shots.

Decatur started the second half of district play Tuesday at home against Lake Worth.

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Rodeo: Decatur wrestles in top spots

Led by Chase Wilson, Decatur cowboys swept the top three spots in steer wrestling at the North Texas High School Rodeo Association event last weekend.

Decatur won the high-point award as a team, behind the strong performance in steer wrestling.

Wilson needed just 4.401 seconds to complete his run. Dillan McGuire took second in 7.752. Camerron Tucker was third in 10.891.

Chase Gasperson turned in the top performance as a header in team roping, taking 9.317 seconds. Jake Cobb was eighth in 14.461.

Carolyn Spear took second in barrels with her run of 16.316.

Seth Cone placed seventh in calf roping with a run of 26.249.

Alvord’s Olivia Parr took seventh in breakaway in 5.739.

In steer undecorating, Paradise’s Majia Bennett finished third in 1.872. Paitane Brown was fourth in 2.631, and Taylor Carwile fifth in 2.713.

Paradise’s Ty Meals had the top time as a heeler in team roping with a 9.317. He finished second in ribbon roping in 7.64 seconds to earn the rookie cowboy honor.

Alvord’s Tyler Griggs was ninth in team roping as a heeler in 16.337.

Northwest’s Grady Payne won the chute dogging in 2.558. Teammate Cole Gerrek was third in 2.756, and Tyler Norton seventh in 3.293. Decatur’s Dominic Head finished fourth in 2.954, and Jacob McLeod sixth in 3.24.

Northwest’s Alexis Barfield was eighth in poles in 21.78.

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Marjorie Harris

Marjorie Harris

Marjorie Harris, 75, died Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Decatur.

No services are scheduled at this time.

Marjorie was born Jan. 21, 1939, in Hannibal, Mo., to Edwin and Wilma (Ruble) Moore in Hannibal, Mo. She married Albert John Harris March 16, 1954, in Pittsfield, Ill.

She is survived by daughters,Marjorie Ford and Dennis, of Florida, Cathy Edwards and husband, Billy, of Decatur and Ginny Robertson and husband, Darren, of Missouri; sons Albert Harris and wife, Marie, and Bill Heusted and wife, Patsy, all of Missouri; sisters Karen Woolfork and Donna Triplett; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; daughter Marion Harrelson of Florida; and sister Coleen Kaylor.

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National Night Out

National Night Out

National Night Out

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT — Decatur Fire Captain Nate Mara clowns around with children at National Night Out on the Decatur Square Tuesday evening. A huge crowd turned out for the event hosted by the police department. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

National Night Out 2

Decatur Police Detective Daniel Sandate photobombs Karie Chapman, 13, (left) and Kamryn Walton, 12, at National Night Out Tuesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

National Night Out 3

Olivia Knarr tries on a fire department headset and tests out the engine’s driver’s seat. National Night Out was hosted by the Decatur Police Department, and it gave citizens the opportunity to meet first responders from several agencies, including the fire department and emergency services. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Upcoming Meetings for Saturday, October 11, 2014

DECATUR COUNCIL – The Decatur City Council will convene at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut. They’ll consider several appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Adjustment and will vote on second readings to raise library fines, airport fees, water and wastewater fees. They’ll also look at continuing to contract with the Wise County Appraisal District for property tax collections, and look at a police department request to make Deer Park Road from Eagle Drive to Preskitt a one-way road northbound from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30.

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS – Wise County commissioners will consider on Monday a request from Fire Marshal Chuck Beard to hire an outside communications consulting agency to link all the radio towers and systems. They will also discuss trying to acquire two modular buildings through the federal government, as they continue to seek additional office space. Regular business will include consideration of bids, discussion of plats, project agreements and committee and department head reports. Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur. The meeting is open to the public.

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Football: Rained out – Decatur, Burkburnett action delayed

Football: Rained out – Decatur, Burkburnett action delayed

Storms brought a halt to the Decatur and Burkburnett game at halftime Friday.

Decatur led 14-12 when the District 4-4A Division I opener at Eagle Stadium was postponed until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Up and Over

UP AND OVER – Decatur’s Payton McAlister leaps over falling defenders in the Eagles’ district opener against Burkburnett Friday night. Because of storms, play was postponed until today at 3 p.m. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Teams waited until nearly 11 p.m. before making the decision to finish the game the next day.

A weather delay pushed the start of the game back to 8.

The Eagles then got themselves off track with four first-half turnovers and six penalties for 55 yards.

Those mistakes left Decatur clinging to a 14-12 halftime lead despite outgaining Burkburnett 296 to 149.


REJECTION – Brandon Garza knocks down a pass Friday night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Eagles turned the ball over on their first two possessions, and found themselves down 6-0 after Burkburnett’s Brandon Ingram raced 85 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown with 6:21 left in the first quarter.

Decatur quickly responded driving 75 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead score. Eddie Martinez took the ball the final two yards.

The Eagles added to their lead, taking advantage of a Burkburnett fumble recovered by Felix Guerrero at the Bulldogs’ 38-yard line. Payton McAlister punched the ball in on a 7-yard run to give Decatur a 14-6 lead.

Burkburnett missed a 31-yard field goal with 4:54 left in the first half but got the ball back a play later. Michael Brooking picked off a Justin Myers pass at the 20 yard line and returned the ball to the Decatur 3. Rizzon Hendricks scored on the next play.

Decatur moved the ball inside the Burkburnett 10 in the final seconds of the first half but couldn’t add to its lead. Jorge Martinez’ 26-yard field goal try went wide left.

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Cross Country: Runners wait on the weather

Pending the weather, the Decatur Eagles and Lady Eagles will get their final tuneup Saturday before the 8-4A championship cross country meet Oct. 23.

The Decatur squads were slated to run at the Flying Hawk Invite at the Tarrant County Northeast Campus Saturday.

Decatur coach David Park said he could scratch his two teams if the course is too sloppy due to expected rain Friday night and Saturday morning.

“I’m going to walk every inch of the course before we run,” Park said. “The last thing we want to do right now is slide down a hill and injure something.”

The two squads are coming off tremendous showings at the Reunion Run last week. Tyler Wilson and Jessica Kyle won their races. The Lady Eagles swept the top six spots in the 4A and under race. The Eagles put six in the top 10.

“We’re very fit and running well,” Park said. “The guys have come a million miles from the start of the season. With the girls, the times continue to fall and they continue to tighten.”

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Golf: Jones owns Fossil Creek

Drew Jones fired a 69 to win Tuesday’s golf tournament at Fossil Creek.

Jones’ round led the Decatur Eagles to a second-place finish with a 332. Frisco Wakeland won the tournament by two strokes.

Cade Lamirand shot an 85 for the Eagles. Bryce Elder added an 88. Hayden Bennett fired a 90, and Brendan Kerby 95.

The Decatur “B” squad shot 396. Jackson Bearden carded a 92. Alex Lambert hit 96. Holden Walker shot 102, Kale Bronniman 106, and Drew Graves 113.

The Decatur girls shot 479 to also bring home second place. Kaylee Higdon paced the Lady Eagles with an 100. Sarah Crouse hit 105. Rylie Burdon and Madeline Semmelman both shot 137s.

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Volleyball: Mayfield, Decatur sweep Sissies – Lady Eagles continue district streak

Playing her final volleyball match at Bridgeport Tuesday gave Makayla Mayfield an extra boost of energy, which she released on the rival Sissies.

The 2013 Texas Sportswriters Association 3A MVP buried 15 kills as the Lady Eagles swept the Sissies 25-5, 25-9, 25-4.

Stroing Defense

STRONG DEFENSE – Decatur’s Cooper Martin, Emily Oxford and Caroline Lowery jump to block the shot of Bridgeport’s Ally Raby Tuesday during the Lady Eagles’ win. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It was my last time to play in this gym, and I wanted to come out and play well,” Mayfield said. “I knew there would be opportunities to swing and work my shots. It was fun.”

The victory extended the Lady Eagles’ district winning streak to 53 matches dating back to October 2008. The program has also won 125 straight sets since dropping one in October 2009.

Decatur improved to 26-10 and 3-0 in District 8-4A.

The Sissies were the last team to win a set against Decatur, five years ago. But Decatur made it clear early Tuesday that Bridgeport would not be the team to end the streak.

When Bridgeport grabbed its only lead at 2-0 in the third set, Decatur responded with 24 straight points to get to match point, 24-2. Ariana Buchanan served all 24 points and was a hitting error away from becoming the second player in a week to serve out an entire match.

Bridgeport added another point on Mariah Leyva’s second ace of the match. Raena Slate ended the match with a kill.

Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay said she liked how her team responded in the third game after falling behind.

“What I love about these girls is that they are going to compete on their own side of the net,” said Benedict-Gay. “We have to get better each time we touch the ball.”

Cooper Martin joined Mayfield in double figures in kills with 12. Caroline Lowery added seven.

Setter Stormi Leonard spread the ball around, collecting 34 assists.

She gave several of her hitters chances from the back row, including Mayfield. The senior outside hitter buried the ball from wherever she was.

“We worked her all over the net and she came through,” Benedict-Gay said.

Leonard’s work at the service line with back to back aces led Decatur to a 6-0 lead in the opening set.

Two Mayfield kills around a finisher from Courtnie Roberts built the advantage to 18-3. A Bridgeport service-receive error closed the game.

Leonard’s ace to start the second set put Decatur on its way to a win. Three straight kills from Mayfield built the Lady Eagles’ lead to 9-4. She made it 21-9 with a finisher from the back row. Mayfield collected eight kills in the set.

Martin made it game point and a Bridgeport hitting error closed the second set.

Kendall Scott led Bridgeport with four kills. Ameilia Hurtado had three digs for the Sissies, who fell to 5-22 and 0-3 in District 8-4A.

“We played too tense and dwelled on mistakes,” said Bridgeport coach Rebekah Cummings. “We hope to rebound to get a win in this first round.”

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Kara Jannell Overton and Brad H. Hardt

Kara Jannell Overton, daughter of Michael Overton and Leisa Waylett of Decatur, will marry Brad H. Hardt, son of Cheryl Hardt of Flower Mound Nov. 7, 2014, at the Decatur Civic Center’s Chisholm Room.


Kara Jannell Overton and Brad H. Hardt

The ceremony will be officiated by Jerry Miller, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Decatur. A celebration and reception of their marriage will follow in the east wing of the Civic Center.

The bride-elect is a graduate of The University of North Texas. She is currently enrolled in a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program at Grantham University.

She works for Denton Cardiology and is a member of American College of Healthcare Executives.

The prospective groom attended North Central Texas College, where he received his paramedic certification and license. He is currently enrolled in Southern Columbia University’s Business Administration program.

He serves as a board member and operations manager of Michael’s Memories. He is also a member of the Coppell Firefighters Association.

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Eva Rae Wilson

Chance and Emily Wilson of Decatur announce the birth of a daughter, Eva Rae, on Sept. 29, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Grandparents are Allen and Judy Bingham and Randy and Melissa Wilson, all of Decatur.

Great-grandparents are Frank and Sue Maxwell and Rodney and Mary Ella Wilson, all of Greenwood, and the Rev. Kenneth Bingham.

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Lunch-hour tipping leaves motorists stiffed

Lunch-hour tipping leaves motorists stiffed

Some motorists found the going slow on U.S. 81/287 in Decatur Tuesday afternoon, thanks to a truck that was going too fast.

An accident on U.S. 81/287 at the Farm Road 1810 intersection around 12:30 p.m. resulted in an overturned trailer and gravel spilled on the roadway.


CLEANUP – A front end loader from the Texas Department of Transportation scoops up a load of rock as it clears the roadway Tuesday. Traffic was slowed or stopped for about 45 minutes. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Decatur Police officer Keith Hilton said Manuel Pena, 41, of Fort Worth was entering the southbound lanes of 287 from FM 1810 when he came around the curve too fast. The trailer tipped over, separating from the tractor and spilling gravel on the roadway. No one was injured.

The Texas Department of Transportation responded to clear the roadway of the rocks. Decatur Police and Fire departments worked traffic control in the area, as stop-and-go traffic was allowed on the shoulder during cleanup.

The roadway was reopened around 1:15 p.m.

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Saturday fire still under investigation

A Wise County woman remains in Parkland Hospital’s burn unit after a Saturday fire destroyed a travel trailer in which she was living.

Patricia K. Woods, 40, suffered burns on her lower extremities in the fire, which broke out sometime around mid-morning on Saturday.

Reignited and Gutted

RE-IGNITED AND GUTTED – A recreational vehicle where two people were living caught fire, then re-ignited after they went to the hospital Saturday, resulting in a total loss. The home was in the Brushy Creek RV Park northwest of Decatur. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

Woods and Johnny Moore, 46, were purchasing the trailer from the owner of Brushy Creek RV Park, off U.S. 81/287 just behind the highway roadside rest area northwest of Decatur. They had lived there about three weeks.

After the fire broke out, Moore reportedly took Woods in a private vehicle to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur, where she was treated and later transferred by helicopter to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

According to Deputy Wise County Fire Marshal J.C. Travis, while they were at the hospital, Moore mentioned to someone that they thought they had put the fire out, but were not sure.

The Decatur Fire Deptartment was called at 11:18 a.m. and when they arrived at the location, the RV was fully engulfed again. They extinguished the fire and stayed on the scene until 1:25 p.m. – but the RV and contents were a total loss.

Travis said the couple were doing some remodeling on the RV.

He said the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

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Navy veteran is new homeless counselor at VSO

If it seems like Elroy Roberson knows what he’s doing as a VA homeless veteran outreach counselor, it’s no accident.

The former Navy veteran, who began working at the Wise County Veterans Service Office Tuesday, has built a career helping homeless and mentally disabled veterans. He’s worked with the Salvation Army and the VA, and pastors a church in Fort Worth, where he says his desire is to see everyone healed.

HELPING THE HOMELESS – Elroy Roberson just joined the Wise County Veterans Service Office as a homeless veterans counselor. He works with the VA and Wise County to offer housing solutions to veterans in need. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

He also knows first-hand what it’s like to be a veteran experiencing homelessness.

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Roberson moved to the metroplex to attend Bishop College in Dallas. He then spent 20 years as an aircraft handler for the Navy, and decided to move back to the DFW area after he was discharged.

“After getting out of the Navy, I was promised a job in Texas, so I left everything I had in New York and moved,” Roberson said. “When I got here, I found out I didn’t have the job, and then, for about eight months I experienced homelessness.

“That was when I realized that this could happen to anyone.”

With tears in his eyes, Roberson recalled his experiences during those months after he left the Navy in 1994.

“It was a struggle. I slept in my car a lot. Lots of times, people don’t know what it’s really like, and that’s why I’m so passionate about this issue,” Roberson said. “It’s not always that the person’s on drugs, or has mental health issues, but there is depression.

“I would get these wild thoughts when I thought I couldn’t make it. All it takes is one person to step in and help to change someone’s life for the better.”

Roberson eventually got a job working at a mental health hospital in Lancaster while also working part-time at the Salvation Army. After that, he said, his life turned around. He’s been at the VA since January, and pastors the Spirit and Truth Fellowship Christian Center – a church he started in Fort Worth.

He’s working on an MBA at DeVry University so he can become an administrator in the VA. Now, he wants to be that “one person” to help Wise County veterans get their lives back on track, by any means necessary.

“If that means putting people in my car and driving people to the outpatient clinic in Fort Worth, then so be it,” Roberson said.

The VA currently allots $300 million in grants for programs to help the country’s nearly 50,000 homeless veterans. Texas has one of the highest populations of veterans in the U.S. – more than 1.5 million – and a certain percentage of those are on the street.

According to a recent CBS DFW report, at least 2,500 homeless veterans live in North Texas. The VA hopes to end veteran homelessness in America by next year.

Roberson said many homeless veterans from areas like Wise County don’t want to live in Dallas or Fort Worth. That means much of the local center’s efforts center on shuttling people to VA hospitals.

The VA also partners with Catholic Charities Fort Worth for CCFW’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, which helps find housing for low-income veterans and their families who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The program Roberson is most excited about is the upcoming Stand Down fundraising event, a four-day affair where different organizations can donate clothing, blankets and coats, and offer haircuts, showers and checkups for veterans. There is no date set for the event yet, but Roberson said other cities had great success with it in the past.

Wise County veteran service officer Laura Spain said Roberson’s hiring is a good thing for the county.

“We’re excited he’s here,” Spain said. “If you ask anyone, someone’s got a friend of a friend or someone who knows someone who’s homeless. And we’re trying to help those people.”

As for Roberson, he just wants to touch the lives of the veterans he meets.

“This job is really a blessing to me, to be able to tell people that hey, I’ve been where you’ve been. It can happen to anyone,” Roberson said.

Roberson will be working at the Wise County Veterans Service Office every Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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Cross Country: Perfect run – Lady Eagles take top 6 spots at Reunion

Led by Jessica Kyle, Decatur completed the perfect race Saturday at the Reunion Run.

The Lady Eagles swept the top six spots, and seven of the first eight, on their home course at Joe Wheeler Park.

Pulling Away

PULLING AWAY – Decatur’s Jessica Kyle surges ahead of teammate Nicole Neighbors near the one-mile mark of Saturday’s 4A-and-under race at the Reunion Run. Kyle won the race. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

“We all ran really good,” Kyle said. “Getting a perfect score is promising, especially because we’re not even to district yet.”

Decatur finished with 15 points, winning the 4A-and-under title. Springtown was second with 98. Alvord finished sixth with 159, and Slidell ninth with 190.

It was Kyle’s teammate Nicole Neighbors who set the early pace, leading through the first 800 meters. Kyle tracked her down before hitting the mile split.

“She went out fast and I was trying to catch her,” Kyle said. “At the beginning I was blocked in by a lot of people. After the first turn, it started to thin out.”

Once taking the lead, Kyle cruised to the finish for her second win on the course in 12:24. She also won the district meet there last year.

“I like it. There’s not many challenging hills,” Kyle said.

Finishing behind Kyle was freshman Taylor Butler in 12:37. Butler passed Neighbors in the final meters for second. Neighbors took third in 12:40.

“It was my best finish all year,” Butler said. “It was 15 seconds less than Sanger. I did exactly what Coach [David] Park said.”

Butler and fellow freshman Elizabeth Culpepper did take a wrong turn on the course and ran a few meters more than 3,200. But even with the detour, the two held their spots. Culpepper finished fifth in 12:44, just behind Georgian Palomo in fourth in 12:41.

Paola Paloma took sixth in 13 minutes. Lluvia Ramos ran 13:07 for eighth.

Decatur’s Nancy Torres finished 13th in 13:23, and Hope Fuller 14th in 13:25.

“It was a good day on tired legs,” Park said.

Alvord’s Brooklyn Mitchum ran 13:15 for 11th. Clara Breashears took 18th in 13:45. Hannah Carpenter ran 14:42 for 42nd, and Lulu Murillo 15:27 for 50th. Dessie Putnam was 60th in 17:00, and Cheyann Palmer 61st in 17:11.

Kayson Roof led Slidell, taking 29th in 14:08. Caitlin Pruett ran 14:31 for 36th. Makayla Fitzgerald finished 44th in 14:47. Sydney Keating was 52nd in 15:33, finishing second and a spot ahead of Kylie Franklin.

Megan Garcia ran 18:07 for 62nd.

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Football: Playing tough – Older brothers prep Durdon for gridiron

Football: Playing tough – Older brothers prep Durdon for gridiron

With three older brothers, Ryan Durdon found out quickly he had to be tough to hold his own in backyard pick-up games.

“Being the youngest definitely made me tougher. Everything turned into a fight,” Durdon laughs. “I didn’t have a choice.”

Tough Man to Stop

TOUGH MAN TO STOP – Decatur receiver Ryan Durdon leads the Eagles in receiving while also starting in the secondary for the Eagles. He is averaging 20 yards on his 22 receptions this season. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Decatur junior has turned that toughness into becoming a two-way star for the Eagles, who start District 4-4A Division I play Friday night.

Durdon enters district as the Eagles’ leading receiver with 22 catches for 443 yards. Defensively, he has bounced around between cornerback and safety, making 10 tackles. He is expected to be back at corner Friday.

His solid play at wide receiver and safety, where he filled for an injured teammate, earned him the Eagles’ top offensive and defensive honors against Carrollton Ranchview.

“I’ve never had that happen,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller.

But Durdon also plays on most of the Eagles’ special teams units, meaning he gets little rest on Friday nights.

“It’s fun,” Durdon said. “I’ll do whatever they ask me to.”

Fuller said the biggest problem with Durdon being on every unit is getting a chance to talk with him.

“He only comes off when we’re kicking extra points,” Fuller said. “But it seems he goes harder with no rest.”

Durdon’s impressive play on offense has helped the Eagles fill the void left with the graduation of last year’s top targets, Cain Lowe and Austin Givens. What makes his 20-yard-per-catch start even more special is the fact that he didn’t play the position last year. As a sophomore he strictly played defense.

“I forgot what it was like to play offense and catch the ball,” Durdon said.

Fuller credits Durdon’s strong hands and willingness to go up and attack the ball at its highest point with his development as a receiver.

But he doesn’t stop with just pulling in the reception. He’s proven to be one of the hardest runners to bring down in the open field, often dragging tacklers several yards before being stopped.

“I’m just trying to do what it takes to win,” Durdon said. “I’m just trying my hardest to help the team win.”

Durdon gives quarterback Justin Myers credit for allowing him to make plays down field.

“We know Justin is going to get the ball to us,” he said.

Defensively, Durdon started the season at cornerback. But injuries forced him to the unfamiliar spot of safety for a pair of games.

“I like safety,” Durdon said. “When Carsen [Medlin] was injured, I played it for the first time and loved it.”

He filled in at safety again with Payton McAlister slowed. But after Aaron Shetter went down with an injury, he moved back to corner.

He doesn’t mind shifting spots.

“I just love football,” he said.

Those tough games with his older brothers gave him plenty of preparation.

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Football: Eagles open 4-4A play with test against Burkburnett

Mike Fuller’s message to his Decatur Eagles throughout the season has remained consistent: improve each week and get ready for district.

Through the team’s 3-2 start, Fuller says his team has accomplished that in his first year on the Decatur sidelines.

“We’ve gotten better at something every week,” Fuller said. “With maybe the exception of the Ranchview game, we got better as a team each game. But we learned from that. From the first game to the fifth, we are nowhere near the same team. And we’re not where we will be at the end.”

But starting Friday improving will not be just enough as the Eagles start playing for one of the four playoff spots out of District 4-4A Division I. The Eagles start district at home at 7:30 p.m. against the Burkburnett Bulldogs (1-4).

“We want to be district champs,” said Decatur receiver Ryan Durdon. “It’s important to get that first one.”

And with the schedule rolling into district play, the intensity steps up a notch.

“When you show for a district game, the lights are brighter, the bands are louder and the fans are louder. There’s just more electricity because it means something,” Fuller said.

For teams like Burkburnett, it’s a chance to turn around early season struggles. The Bulldogs have dropped three straight since beating Aubrey 41-28. Brownwood hammered Burkburnett 51-8 its last time out.

“It’s a new season for them,” Fuller points out.

Burkburnett brings to town a power running attack led by Marquis Askew-Betts and Bryan Lewis, who have combined for 740 yards and nine touchdowns.

“They are scary to watch. It’s an offense you only see when you face them,” Fuller said. “The big challenge is playing assignment football. And even though you know your assignment, you think you see something and take a wrong step and you get beat.”

The Eagles offense could help the defense by scoring early and forcing Burkburnett’s ball-control offense to play catch-up.

“They are not a team that is built to make the big comeback,” Fuller said.

So far this season, the Decatur offense has not missed a beat behind quarterback Justin Myers, who has thrown for 954 yards and ran for 636.

Through five games, the Eagles are averaging 287 yards rushing and 192 through the air,

“We’re halfway to last year’s total,” Fuller said. “I’m proud of where we are.”


7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium

Burkburnett: Harris Rating 199

Notable: The Bulldogs average 236 yards rushing.

Decatur: Harris Rating 215

Notable: The Eagles’ 479 yards per game is 19 yards off 2013.

Harris line: Decatur by 17

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