Woman injured in U.S. 81/287 wreck

A woman was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth Tuesday after she lost control of the blue sedan she was driving, hit a road sign, hydroplaned and spun around into a parked 18-wheeler.

The accident occurred on U.S. 81/287 North near County Road 4421 around 2:30 p.m.

Rainy Wreck

RAINY WRECK – Members of the East Wise Fire Department examine a crash scene on U.S. 81/287 and County Road 4421 Tuesday. The driver of the car was driven to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Texas state troopers on scene would not release the woman’s name but said she was the sole occupant of the car, which hit the front left side of an 18-wheeler that was parked in the median of the highway.

East Wise Fire Department, Wise County medics the Wise County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on scene to respond to the accident.

More information will be published as it becomes available.

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Cross Country: Wilson finishes spot out of advancing

Tyler Wilson rounded the final corner of his last cross-country race as a Decatur Eagle in 21st place.

Wilson surged to the line, missing a state bid by one place. After the runners on the four advancing teams were taken out, Wilson was the 11th individual – one shy of a state spot.

Decatur coach David Park said runners have a hard time calculating their placement in a race.

“Sometimes, if you know, ‘Hey, there’s the last boat to state,’ you can chase it down,” Park said. “It’s bad luck to not know where you are in the race. You can’t count. You’ve just got to run.”

Park credited Wilson for being an integral part of the team’s leadership for several years.

“He’s planted the seeds,” Park said.

Wilson was Decatur’s top finisher, completing the Region I championship 5K course in 16:37:44.

Teammate Alan Rangle finished in 16:46:60, netting 29th. Parker Cullop finished 33rd with a time of 16:51:58. He was followed by Bryse Hoyt in 65th in 17:34:38. Hunter Helm claimed 77th in 17:48:24, while Charles Doubrava was another three spots back in 80th with a time of 17:50:37. Allan Allsbrooks finished the course in 18:57:81, netting 125th.

After the race, Park addressed the team.

“Lubbock’s a hard place to be,” he said. “If you don’t have a bad race, the good ones aren’t as good.”

Park said he hopes the race serves as a reminder for the team when they begin preparing for next season.

“I want you to get rid of the pain, but hold onto that little bit of anguish,” he said. “Next June, when we start training again, I want it to come out.”

Bridgeport Coach Dana Hudson echoed Park’s sentiment toward the difficult course. Hudson said she saw the race as a learning opportunity for her team.

Salvador Garcia claimed the Bulls’ highest finish, taking 24th in 16:41:16. Eric Aguilar was 10 spots back in 34th with a time of 16:54:92.

Manuel Garcia netted 88th in 17:56:11. Kellen McCauley took 142nd, finishing in 19:28:04. McCauley was followed by Nathaniel Phillips in 149th in 19:50:60.

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Football: Title showdown – Decatur faces Graham for 4-4A I crown

After losing several key players off last year’s playoff team, Decatur senior quarterback Justin Myers knows there were doubts surrounding the Eagles entering the season.

But Friday, he and his teammates will try to prove those doubts wrong and bring home the program’s first district title since 2011. The Eagles (7-2, 4-0) head to Graham at 7:30 p.m. in a battle of District 4-4A Division I’s unbeaten teams.

The league crown is on the line.

Moving Forward

MOVING FORWARD – Decatur’s Gunnar Parker fights through a tackle against Gainesville. The Eagles will take on Graham Friday with a chance to win the 4-4A Division I title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“This means so much. We didn’t get it last year and a lot people thought we couldn’t be as good as last year’s team,” Myers said. “We can make a statement and prove a lot of people wrong.”

After seeing his team rally in the final two minutes to beat Gainesville last week, Decatur coach Mike Fuller told his squad this is the scenario they wanted all year.

“This is what we set out to do – to try to win district,” Fuller said. “We did all we could do to get here. Now, we just need to go out and seize the moment.”

To set up the title game, the Eagles needed to rally from an 11-point deficit in the final quarter last Friday. Decatur made the comeback, getting huge plays on both sides of ball.

The Eagles defense forced Gainesville to settle for three field goals and forced a fumble at the goal-line.

“We lost the Ranchview game because we had to settle for field goals, and we beat Gainesville because we were able to come up with stops and make them settle for field goals,” Fuller said. “As long as you keep making them snap the ball again, you’ve got a chance.”

Offensively, Decatur drove for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including going 80 yards in the final four minutes.

“We scored the two times we had it in the fourth quarter,” Fuller said.

“I’m not sure we would win a game like that early in the year. That shows the growth of this team and how they’ve learned to handle adverse situations.”

Fuller points out the challenge in front of his team Friday against Graham (7-2, 4-0) will not be easy. Since losses to Argyle and Big Spring, the Steers have won four straight and averaged 51 points per game. Graham has allowed only 26 points in district play and shut out Gainesville and Mineral Wells.

“They are the best team we’ve faced all the way around,” Fuller said. “They have a strong defensive line, good linebackers and good secondary on defense. They have good linemen and good skilled people.”

Offensively, the Steers are nearly perfectly balanced, averaging 205 yards rushing and 227 yards passing. Quarterback Landry Turner has thrown for 1,853 yards and 17 touchdowns. Receivers Todd Parker and Derek Sides have combined for 59 catches and more than 1,000 yards.

Nick Martin enters the game with 835 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.

“They are a solid team,” said Decatur linebacker Cole Vaughan. “Friday is going to be determined by how hard we work the next few days in practice.

“At the beginning of the year, we were the worst defense in Wise County, statistically. We took that as motivation to get better. We’ve come a long way.”

The Decatur offense knows they will have a challenge against a Graham defense that held Wichita Falls Hirschi to a touchdown last week. The Steers have given up just one touchdown in the last nine quarters.

“They are pretty good, but so are we,” Myers said. “If we have a good week of practice, we can go in and wind up with a district championship.”

DECATUR (7-2, 4-0) AT GRAHAM (7-2, 4-0)

7:30 p.m. at Steers Stadium

Decatur: Harris Rating 219

Notable: Justin Myers has accounted for more than 2,700 yards of offense.

Graham: Harris Rating 245

Notable: The Steers are averaging more than 400 yards of offense.

Harris line: Graham by 24

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Volleyball: Lady Eagles blast Venus in playoff opener

Volleyball: Lady Eagles blast Venus in playoff opener

Starting the postseason portion of their state title defense, the Decatur Lady Eagles looked in championship form Monday night.

Behind merciless hitting, brilliant decision-making and pinpoint serving, the Lady Eagles dispatched Venus in three sets, 25-6, 25-3, 25-7, in their Class 4A Region I bi-district match at Chisholm Trail High School.

Winning Feeling

WINNING FEELING – Decatur’s Stormi Leonard celebrates a point with her teammates during the Lady Eagles’ sweep of Venus Monday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“We wanted to come out focused, have fun and set a tone for how we’re going to play in the playoffs,” said senior hitter Makayla Mayfield, who led the Lady Eagles with 12 kills.

Playing the fourth-place team from District 7-4A, Decatur (34-10) never let underdog Venus (18-20) in the match. Venus scored back-to-back points only four times.

“I feel every match we’ve got to get better,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “That’s the mentality we have to keep.”

Offensively, Decatur buried 43 kills. Setter Stormi Leonard worked the ball around with six different players registering kills. Courtnie Roberts put down 11. Caroline Lowery added eight and Cooper Martin seven.

“All of our offense got some swings,” Benedict-Gay said. “We’ve worked hard in practice moving the ball around. It’s good to see that carry over from practice.”

The Lady Eagles would have had more kills if their serving hadn’t been so sharp. Decatur finished with 12 aces. Martin led the way with four. Mayfield added three.

“Our serving was consistent,” Mayfield said. “We kept the ball in play.”

With back-to-back kills from Emily Oxford and a finisher from Martin, Decatur jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the opening set.

The Lady Eagles’ lead grew to 23-4 with a Martin block and kill. The set ended on a Venus error.

Martin’s second ace in a 10-point stretch gave Decatur a 13-1 lead to start the second game. After a pair of Venus points, Mayfield put down a kill and then went to the service line. She served out the final 11 points, ending the set with an ace.

Mayfield served the first five points in the third game with Leonard’s kill making it 5-0.

Maclaine Lowery’s two aces put Decatur up 13-6. Venus scored just one more point in the match. Roberts and Mayfield took turns burying shots in a closing 9-0 run. Leonard ended the match with a block – her fourth of the night.

With the first playoff victory, Decatur moves on to the area round to play the winner of the Iowa Park/Brownwood match later this week.

“We’re a step closer,” Mayfield said.

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Rhonda Zulynn Roshchyn

Rhonda Zulynn Roshchyn

Rhonda Zulynn Roshchyn, 46, a homemaker, died Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, in Decatur.

Graveside service is 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at Oaklawn Cemetery with Gerre Joiner officiating. Visitation is 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Rhonda was born July 25, 1968, in Denton to Billy and Laura (Kemp) Adams. She married Marcus Wilson Simpson.

Survivors include her husband, Marcus Simpson of Decatur; sons Christopher Akins of Decatur, John Cordell of Nocona and Marcus Simpson Jr. of Decatur; daughters Mackenzie Simpson of Decatur and Zulynn Simpson of Decatur; her parents, Bill and Deanie Adams of Decatur; sister Ginny Adams of Decatur; and brother Dan Adams of Georgia.

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Key Michael Fernihough

Christopher and Micah Fernihough of Decatur announce the birth of their third son, Key Michael Fernihough, on Oct. 27, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long.

His brothers are Kai Gage, 5 and Kit Christian, 2. He has a sister, Scout Mackenzie, 6.

Grandparents are Mollie Snell of Decatur and Bill and Cyndi Fernihough of Decatur.

Great-grandparents are Genee Barnes of Augusta, Ga. and Verla Snell of Manfield.

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Luke Henry Wendt

Jacob and Rachel Wendt of Decatur announce the birth of a son, Luke Henry Wendt, on Oct. 24, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

He has a sister, Kimber, 3.

Grandparents are Patti Rhine of Alvord, Bret and Lynn Morris of Burleson and Adam Wendt of Decatur.

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Louis and Margaret Dooling

Louis and Margaret Dooling of Decatur celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner party and car show at Yesterday’s in Bridgeport on Oct. 25.


Louis and Margaret Dooling

Louis and the former Margaret Fluker were married Oct. 23, 1964, in Farmington, N.M.

They have three children: Georgetta Slimp and husband, Randy, of Decatur; Katie Payton and husband, Brent, of San Antonio; and Brian Dooling and wife, Tina, of Victoria.

They have seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Arvel Hubbard

Arvel Hubbard

Arvel Hubbard, 75, a retired contractor, died Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral was Oct. 31 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Decatur with the Rev. Gary Demmitt officiating. He was assisted by the Rev. Casey Lewis. Burial followed at Sycamore Cemetery in Decatur under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home.

Arvel was born Jan. 4, 1939, to Aaron and Mammie (Rogers) Hubbard. He served his country in the U.S. Army. He married Mary Helen Mooney Dec. 30, 1960, in Decatur, and was retired from Hubbard Construction.

Arvel was a member of Sycamore Baptist Church in Decatur, where he had served as a deacon since 1963.

He was preceded in death by his parents; infant son Richard Aaron Hubbard; brother Jean Hubbard; and sister Mamie Joyce Hubbard.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Mary Helen Hubbard of Decatur; son James Hubbard and wife, Liz, of Decatur; grandson Cody Hubbard and wife, Bonnie, of Bridgeport; granddaughters Misti Hubbard of Mesquite, and Brittney Hubbard and Hannah Hubbard, both of College Station; great-grandchildren Caiden Hubbard and Maggie Jane Hubbard; brother Ronald Hubbard and wife, Linda, of Decatur; and other family members and friends.

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Football: With a minute to spare – Eagles rally to beat Leopards

Football: With a minute to spare – Eagles rally to beat Leopards

The Decatur Eagles trailed the Gainesville Leopards for all but 78 seconds Friday night – the final seconds.

The Eagles marched 80 yards in 11 plays, scoring on Payton McAlister’s third touchdown run of the night with 1:18 left to complete the comeback and beat Gainesville 29-25 at Eagle Stadium.

Leading the Way

LEADING THE WAY – Decatur quarterback Justin Myers hurdles a tackler and gets up field during the Eagles’ 29-25 win over Gainesville Friday. Myers rushed for 170 yards on 22 carries for the Eagles, who moved to 4-0 in District 4-4A Division I. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“We knew if we got the ball back we could score with any amount of time left,” said Decatur senior quarterback Justin Myers. “The guys made great catches and the offensive line did a great job.”

The Decatur victory sealed one of the top two spots in District 4-4A Division I for the Eagles (7-2, 4-0). More importantly, it set up a battle for the league title with the district’s other unbeaten team, Graham.

“It’s what we set out to do. You can’t ask for more,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller.

For much of the game, the Eagles looked like they would be heading to Graham after suffering their first district setback. Gainesville’s powerful running game chewed up huge chunks of yards and the clock. The Leopards finished with 330 yards on the ground, including 238 in the first half.

“We put extra guys in the box all night,” Fuller said. “With their big offensive line, they do a good job. It’s hard with our style of offense to replicate their offense in practice.”

Gainesville led 20-14 at halftime. After a safety and Hector Sagrero’s third field goal of the night in the closing seconds of the third, Gainesville owned a 25-14 advantage.

The Eagles then began chipping away behind McAlister and Myers. The two carried the ball a combined six times on a nine-play drive that ended with a McAlister 5-yard dash to the end zone. A Myers pass to Ryan Durdon for the two-point try brought Decatur within three.

Still ahead, Gainesville converted a pair of third downs to get to Decatur’s 29-yard line for a third-and-1. The Leopards then were whistled for a pair of penalties and punted with 4:55 left.

After the punt rolled into the end zone, the Eagles had the ball at their 20. The Decatur drive was on the verge of stalling after one first down at the 33-yard line. On a third-and-9, Myers hit Tanner Shields in the middle of the field for 25 yards.

“That was the play of the year, the catch and throw to Tanner,” Fuller said. “We had run the play to the other side and they overplayed it. Tanner ran a great route and made a great catch.”

Myers, who ran for 170 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, picked up another first on a third down with a dash to the 1-yard line. A play later, McAlister plunged in to give the Eagles the lead.

McAlister ran for 95 yards, 83 after halftime, on 15 carries with the three touchdowns.

Durdon sealed the win with an interception of Gainesville quarterback Mason Copeland.

Copeland scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the game to give the Leopards a 7-0 lead. After Decatur tied the score on a Myers run, Copeland added his second touchdown run, covering 21 yards.

Copeland ran for 60 yards and the two touchdowns. Zukari Long led the Leopards with 102 yards on 17 carries.

Sagrero booted through a 32-yard field goal to put Gainesville up 17-7 after the Leopards forced a three-and-out. Sagrero added a 31-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half, capitalizing on a Myers fumble at midfield.

It was one of three times the Decatur defense made Gainesville settle for field goals.

“That was a huge difference in the game, making them kick the field goals,” Fuller said. “In the second half, the defense held them to a field goal and they got the safety.”

Getting a Grip

GETTING A GRIP – Decatur’s Mason Baur reaches for Gainesville quarterback Mason Copeland during the Eagles’ 29-25 victory over the Leopards Friday night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


Gainesville … 7 … 13 … 5 … 0 … – … 25
Decatur … 7 … 7 … 0 … 15 … – … 29


Gainesville – 6:31, Mason Copeland 1 run, Hector Sagrero kick

Decatur – 3:08, Justin Myers 28 run, Jorge Martinez kick


Gainesville – 11:55, Copeland 21 run, Sagrero kick

Gainesville – 8:02, Sagrero 32 field goal

Decatur – 5:14, Payton McAlister 5 run, Martinez kick

Gainesville – 0:33, Sagrero 31 field goal


Gainesville – 6:07, Safety, punter tackled in end zone

Gainesville – 0:09, Sagrero 14 field goal


Decatur – 9:25, McAlister 5 run, Ryan Durdon pass from Myers

Decatur – 1:18, McAlister 1 run, Martinez kick


First Downs … 16 … 21
Rushes-Yards … 49-330 … 42-282
Passing Yards … 29 … 91
Total Yards … 359 … 373
Comp-Att-Int … 2-7-1 … 8-13-0
Sacks-Yards lost … 3-4 … 2-3
Punts-Average … 2-38 … 1-30
Fumbles-Lost … 2-1 … 2-1
Penalties-Yards … 7-50 … 2-20


Rushing: Gainesville, Mason Copeland 12-60, Caleb Willis 15-81, Zukari Long 17-102, Devin Mims 4-9, Josh Manuel 5-78. Decatur, Payton McAlister 15-95, Justin Myers 22-179, Eddie Martinez 3-1, Gunnar Parker 2-16.

Passing: Gainesville, Copeland 2-7-1-29. Decatur, Myers 8-13-0-91.

Receiving: Gainesville, Mims 1-21, Tag Sparks 1-8. Decatur, Ryan Durdon 4-30, Eddie Martinez 1-7, Tanner Shields 1-25, Carsen Medlin 1-8.

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Volleyball: Perfect again – Lady Eagles close sixth straight unbeaten run through district

Volleyball: Perfect again – Lady Eagles close sixth straight unbeaten run through district

The Decatur Lady Eagles’ dominance in district play continues.

The Lady Eagles closed a sixth straight perfect run through league play Tuesday with a sweep of Springtown 25-13, 25-7, 25-11.

Keeping Streak Going

KEEPING STREAK GOING – Decatur’s Makayla Mayfield (11) celebrates a point during the Lady Eagles’ win over Springtown Tuesday. The Lady Eagles finished off their sixth straight unbeaten run through district play with the victory. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It’s a really big accomplishment,” said Decatur senior hitter Caroline Lowery.

Decatur finished District 8-4A 8-0 and extended its winning streak to 56 matches in league play – stretching back to 2008. The Lady Eagles have also not lost a set since October 2009.

The Decatur seniors finished their careers without losing a set or match in district play.

“It’s almost a like a relief,” said senior setter Stormi Leonard. “We were so close last year to losing the undefeated sets streak against Krum. Even this year it was stressful, though we were supposed to be the best team.”


UNSTOPPABLE – Decatur’s Stormi Leonard (1) and Emily Oxford (15) jump to block a ball during the Lady Eagles’ sweep of Springtown. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay added praise for her squad.

“It’s a fantastic accomplishment to stay focused and handle the different situations every step of the way,” she said.

The Lady Eagles (32-10) will move on to the 4A playoffs and focus on winning a second straight state title. Decatur will open the postseason with a bi-district match against the fourth-place team from 7-4A Venus at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Saginaw Chisolm Trail.

“We’re definitely looking ahead,” Lowery said. “We’re so excited to start the playoffs and to try to accomplish what we did last year.”

Leonard added: “This is everything we’ve worked for. The next matches mean everything. We still have the fire. It’s one thing to win one title. To win two is unbelievable and something not many people do.”

Through the first two sets Tuesday it looked like the Lady Eagles may have been already focused on the next step. Benedict-Gay pointed out that her team entered the third set hitting under .200.

“We didn’t play well,” she said. “They’re getting antsy to move on.”

The Lady Eagles put it together in the final set to raise their hitting percentage to .245 for the match with 36 kills. Decatur put down 15 finishers in 29 attempts in the third game.

Lowery led the way with 11 kills. Makayla Mayfield added 10 kills, and Cooper Martin six.

Leonard dished out 30 assists.

“We could tell coach was getting mad, and we didn’t want to run in the morning. We were able to finish strong,” Lowery said.

The Lady Eagles served 11 aces. Courtnie Roberts and Maclaine Lowery served three each.

Defensively, Emily Oxford blocked five shots. Martin and Mayfield had two apiece.

Martin also made 13 digs. Mayfield finished with 12.

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Rodeo: Decatur leads team rankings

Decatur continued its dominance at the North Texas High School Rodeo Association last week, bringing home another team title.

Decatur leads the season team rankings by 800 points.

Chase Gasperson’s win in team roping as the header helped add to Decatur’s lead. Gasperson completed his run in 6.801.

Camerron Tucker took second in steer wrestling in 5.944. Chase Wilson was third in 18.006.

Wilson also finished third in chute dogging with a run of 2.832. Dillan McGuire was sixth in the event in 2.891, and Dominic Head ninth in 3.043.

Adam Villard roped third in 10.319 in team roping as the heeler.

Carolyn Spear finished third in steer undecorating in 3.665, sixth in breakaway roping in 4.321, and seventh in poles in 22.156.

Seth Cone was seventh in calf roping in 25.588.

Alvord’s Tanner Baker padded his lead for the season cowboy award and took the honor for the night, winning ribbon roping in 6.687 and calf roping in 10.969.

Olivia Parr was ninth in breakaway with a run of 10.329. Mikayla Cox finished ninth in poles in 22.621.

Northwest’s Alexis Barfield won poles in 20.518. Colton Kelly tied for third in bulls with a score of 56. Trinton Barfied finished fourth in steer wrestling in 25.458.

Tyler Norton took fifth in chute dogging in 2.874. Preston Clark was seventh, Cole Gerrek eighth, and Grady Payne 10th.

Eliesha Hobbs finished 10th in walk-up goat tying in 8.009.

Paradise’s Ty Meals won team roping as the heeler in 6.801, and was ninth in ribbon roping in 18.512.

Boyd’s Trevor Hadden O’Neal finish second with a score of 58 in bull riding.

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Cross country: Clipped by a spot – Lady Eagles take second on tiebreaker

Even before his runners hit the starting line, Decatur coach David Park predicted the Dalhart Lady Wolves could prove troublesome for his team.

He was right.

Closing In on Finish

CLOSING IN ON FINISH – Decatur’s Jessica Kyle took fourth Friday in the Class 4A Region I race in 11:49. The Lady Eagles finished second to Dalhart after a tiebreaker. Messenger photo by Daid Talley

The Lady Eagles finished second to Dalhart in the Class 4A Region I race after a 66-point tie between the teams was broken by the inclusion of each team’s sixth-placed runner.

“Most of the team ran personal bests today,” Park said. “We may not be this year’s regional champions, but I’ve seen enough out of this group to know we’re some year’s champions.”

Jessica Kyle, the District 8-4A champion, led the Lady Eagles, finishing fourth in 11:49:05.

Levelland’s Morgan McCutchen won the 3,200-meter race in 11:24.02.

Decatur senior Nicole Neighbors finished 10th with a time of 11:59:75. Freshman Elizabeth Culpepper was two spots back of Neighbors in 12th in 12:04:07.

Fellow freshman Taylor Butler took 15th in 12:12:29. Paola Palomo finished 28th in 12:34:32 as Decatur’s fifth runner.

Lluvia Ramos crossed the finish line as Decatur’s sixth runner in 12:37:52 for 33nd. Dalhart’s sixth runner, Ya-Ya Lozana was a spot ahead of Ramos.

Georgina Palomo came 34rd in 12:38:95.

Bridgeport’s Diana Garcia was fastest runner for the Sissies, finishing 27th in 12:32:86. Teammate Jordyn Armstrong took 75th with a time of 13:31:38. Naomi Baca was 89th finishing in 13:47:50. Sheridan Shallene netted 103rd in 13:57:89, followed by Elizabeth Wiedermann, finishing 130th in 14:29:26.

Bridgeport Coach Dayna Hudson said injuries proved costly for her team, claiming one of her top runners.

“We train on hills like these,” she said. “But the loose rocks here made it difficult.”

Diana Garcia’s 27th place finish put her within three spots of a state bid.

“She was really close,” Hudson said. “She ran a beautiful race”

With two runners in the top 10 overall, Park said the Lady Eagles’ will have a strong showing at the state meet.

“No championship rings were issued today,” he said. “Those come in Austin. We’re not done yet.”

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Wildfire plan to take shape

With a new specialist on board from the Texas Forest Service, the Decatur Fire Department got the go-ahead Monday night to put in place a Community Wildfire Protection Plan that has been “on the map” for several years.

In a nutshell, it’s about keeping rural wildfires out of populated areas.

“The need for this especially came to light during the fires of ’09 and ’11,” Fire Chief Mike Richardson told the city council. “This plan protects our community in that interface between wild land fires and where the community begins.”

Richardson said firefighter Jed Boyd is working with Luke Kanclerz of the Texas Forest Service, who is now stationed at Decatur and using an office in the Decatur fire station.

Kanclerz, a wildland urban interface specialist, will work with Boyd to assess fire danger in places “where the city meets the country,” Richardson said.

“They’ll be figuring out which areas are the highest risk, using mitigation strategies and informing citizens of ideas that can help mitigate that,” he said.

Kanclerz said the key is looking at what’s around rural homes.

“We’ll be looking at surrounding vegetation – the fuels around people’s homes,” he said. “It’s important to see what these homes are constructed of. Fences, for example, often can act as a fuse or a wick leading right up to the home.”

There are ways to reduce that risk, he said.

“We’ll be trying to work with people, encourage and educate them,” he said. “The goal is to find the high-risk areas and work on fuels reduction, do some projects to teach homeowners what they can do.”

He said it should take about six months to complete the plan.

Richardson said grants are available for mitigation projects – but completing the plan, with the help of the Texas Forest Service, shouldn’t really cost the city anything.

“It’s things we’re already doing and have been doing since 2011,” he said. “Now we’ll do it on a more formal basis so it can actually be put into this plan.”

The council approved a motion to proceed with the wildfire plan, then issued a proclamation that allows the city to prepare the plan with the help of the Texas Forest Service.


A pre-council workshop that was scheduled for a half-hour stretched into an hour prior to Monday’s official meeting, as city department heads brought several reports to the council’s attention.

Among the highlights:

  • Planning Director Dedra Ragland updated the council on meetings with developers and business owners who are planning to develop property within the city.
  • Interim Public Works Director Greg Hall told the council about the installation of the disc golf course in Melba Doyle Park, as well as street work going on around the new H2X facility on Stratton and Collins Street where several houses have just been completed.
  • Hall said wastewater treatment for September was more than 2 million gallons less than in August, and raw water treatment was 44.4 million gallons, down from 47.1 in August.
  • He noted Lake Bridgeport is now 38.8 percent full, 23.66 feet below conservation pool level.
  • Also, the TxDOT project on U.S. 81/287 south of town is ahead of schedule, and wayfinding signs proposed by the city have been approved by the TxDOT Area Office in Decatur and submitted to the District Office in Fort Worth.
  • Fire Chief Richardson also gave a monthly report on calls, response times and staffing for the fire department.
  • Technology Services Manager J.B. McKenzie gave council an update on the city’s new web site, decaturtx.org, which combines eight web addresses and gives visitors a gateway to the city’s array of services. The new site allows each department to make its own changes, keeping the site more up-to-date and interactive.

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Football: Eagles look to hold spot against Leopards

The Decatur Eagles clinched a playoff berth last week with their second-half surge and victory over Wichita Falls Hirschi.

Now, the Eagles (6-2, 3-0) will try to stay unbeaten in District 4-4A Division I and assure themselves of earning one of the league’s top two playoff seeds with a win over Gainesville at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium.

“If we win this one it’ll put us in better position, solidify second and give us a chance to play for a district title,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller.

But aside from winning a league title, the Eagles have a bit of a score to settle with Gainesville.

“We want to beat them after losing the past two years,” said Decatur senior linebacker Jacob Kevetter.

The Leopards (3-5) are coming off their first district win, a 42-20 victory over Burkburnett. Gainesville ran for 373 yards against the Bulldogs with Caleb Willis gaining 109 and quarterback Mason Copeland adding 73.

Copeland leads the Leopards in rushing with 557 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s got good speed, is shifty and runs through tackles,” Fuller said.

The Eagles’ run defense has been solid this year against the power running teams of Alvarado, Burkburnett and Hirschi.

Decatur junior linebacker Cole Vaughan said that’s the unit’s strength.

“We’ve got a strong front six and we focus on the run,” Vaughan said.

Decatur gave up 194 yards and two touchdowns to the league’s top back, Cedric Battle, last week.

“He was tough to take down. They broke a few big plays but we all came together up front to hold our own,” Vaughan said.

The Decatur offense came to life after a sluggish first half last week to pile up nearly 400 yards. Quarterback Justin Myers finished 16-for-21 for 263 yards and five touchdowns. He hit Ryan Durdon seven times for 142 yards and four touchdowns.

“Justin had a good night. He was accurate with the ball and completed 75 percent of his passes,” Fuller said. “Durdon had a mismatch and was able to take advantage of it to make some plays.”

The Eagles chewed up the big yardage in the second half with Nate Watkins seeing his first action at center.

“I was nervous since it was my first time to play center on varsity,” he said. “I knew I had to step up.”

GAINESVILLE (3-5, 1-2) AT DECATUR (6-2, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. at Eagles Stadium

Gainesville: Harris Rating 214

Notable: The Leopards’ Caleb Willis had his first 100-yard game last week.

Decatur: Harris Rating 219

Notable: Ryan Durdon hauled in 4 TD catches against Hirschi.

Harris line: Decatur by 8

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Volleyball: Lady Eagles spike Sissies – Decatur hits .639 in 55th straight win

The Decatur Lady Eagles couldn’t miss Friday night in sweeping the rival Bridgeport Sissies.

The Lady Eagles hit .639 for the match, putting down 42 kills in just 61 attacks on the way to clinching a share of their sixth straight district title. Decatur won 25-9, 25-5, 25-4, moving to 31-10 on the season and 7-0 in District 8-4A.

Decatur played Springtown Tuesday, looking for a sixth sweep of its league and to run its district winning streak to 56 matches. The Lady Eagles have won 131 straight sets in league action, dating back to October 2009.

Cooper Martin led the Lady Eagles’ blitz at the net with 13 kills. Makayla Mayfield added 10, and Caroline Lowery seven.

Setter Stormi Leonard handed out 31 assists.

Lowery added nine points on aces. Decatur served up 24 aces. Leonard and Maclaine Lowery had four aces each.

Defensively, Maclaine Lowery made nine digs, and Mayfield eight.

For Bridgeport, Jessica White and Taylor Jamieson recorded two kills each. Mariah Leyva dug seven shots and served an ace.

Bridgeport (5-27, 0-7) closed out the season at home Tuesday against Castleberry.

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Golf: Jones earns spot in 4-ball championships

Decatur junior Drew Jones and partner Michael Board shot a 7-under 65 Monday to the win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball qualifier at Riverbend Country Club in Sugar Land.

Headed West

HEADED WEST – Michael Board and Drew Jones won the USGA Four-Ball qualifier Monday to earn a spot in the national event in May in San Francisco. Submitted photo

The win qualifies the duo for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco May 2-6. The prestigious club has played host to five U.S. Open Championships, including 2012, and the U.S. Amateur three times.

“I’m real excited, especially to be on that course,” Jones said. “It’s also the first [four-ball] tournament for the USGA. It’ll be new to everyone.”

Leading up to the tournament, Jones was unsure how he would play.

“The day before in my practice round, I was not happy with how I was hitting the ball. I was struggling with everything but my putter,” Jones said.

He quickly turned things around Monday. Jones and Board started their round on No. 10 and birdied the 415-yard, par 4. The duo stayed at 1-under until closing the back nine with back to back birdies on 17 and 18.

“When I went into tournament mode, I hit the ball well enough to put it on the green,” Jones said. “I felt like I made almost every putt I looked at.”

After the turn, the two caught fire. They birdied three of the first four holes on the front nine to get to 6-under. The two added a birdie on the 483-yard, par 4 No. 8 to get to 7-under and take the lead for good, earning the trip west.

“We had a long wait before we teed off on one, and we heard the best score was 3-under,” Jones said. “We decided if we could get five on the front we’d have a shot. We didn’t get five but got four, which was good enough.”

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Swimming: Rowden earns 2 wins at Dual

Decatur senior Katey Rowden won the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the Grapevine Dual over the weekend.

Rowden won the freestyle in 25.68. She took first in the butterfly in 1:01.44.

Rowden joined Kate Grant, Emily Howdeshell and Allie Blevins on the 200 freestyle team that finished third. The same quartet was fourth in 2:13.41 in the 200 medley relay.

Blevins garnered second in the 500 freestyle in 5:45.14. She took fourth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:26.4.

Grant finished third in the 200 freestyle in 2:23.77. Caraline Cowdrey was seventh in the event i 2:31.2.

Cowdrey took seventh in the 100 backstroke in 1:17.5.

The boys 200 freestyle team of Colton Teter, Dylan Carter, Robert Davila and Ethan Miles finished second. Davila, Miles and Teter joined Trey Dale on the 200 medley squad that took sixth in 2:00.55.

Miles brought home third in the 100 backstroke, swimming 1:03.27. He took fifth in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.26.

Davila swam 1:00.05 for sixth in 100 freestyle. He took seventh in the 200 in 2:13.33.

Teter was seventh in the 50 freestyle in 25.97, and eighth in the 200 in 1:02.1.

Dale finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:20.47. Carter took eighth in 1:26.47.

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Living Legends

Carson Elementary fourth graders dressed up as historical figures for a Living Wax Museum last Friday. Teacher Stephanie Jordan said the program was incorporated into their study of biographies and autobiographies, and world champion roper Trevor Brazile visited with students, sharing his life story.

Wild Wig

WILD WIG – Rayner Lee embodies Albert Einstein. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

You Go First

YOU GO FIRST – Cavern Palmer casts a questioning glance at Canyon Palmer before stepping up to talk to Jakson Rodgers, dressed as Galileo, at last week’s Living Wax Museum at Carson Elementary School in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The Queen

THE QUEEN – Asher Hamilton and Liv Jones listen intently to Tayler Branscum’s presentation as Queen Elizabeth I. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

In Costume

IN COSTUME – Annika Lindt, dressed as Clara Driscoll, a philanthropist and historic preservationist, pauses in her presentation to smile for the camera. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Presidential Look

PRESIDENTIAL LOOK – Cody Lowe, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, thoughtfully strokes his beard. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Work of Art

WORK OF ART – Christopher Lopez sports a unique beard as artist Leonardo da Vinci. Students were given a list of 100 historical figures from which to choose. They dressed as that person and created a speech to tell others about themselves. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Bond price tag could top $8 million

The Decatur School Board Monday continued discussions about a possible bond issue to address the needs of the district.

They now have a possible price tag to go with it: just over $8 million.

Superintendent Rod Townsend said that is an estimate of needs in four different areas: transportation, technology, security and facilities.

The biggest need appears to be in transportation, which features an aging bus fleet. When the district decided to bring transportation in-house instead of contracting it out in 2005, Decatur purchased 25 buses at a cost of nearly $1.6 million. Those buses are now nearly 10 years old, and some have as many as 186,000 miles on them.

Enrollment growth since 2005 has also required the district to add five regular education routes and one special education route.

“Something will have to be done,” Townsend said. “A decision will need to be made in the next one or two years.”

His suggestion is to purchase 25 buses, plus a couple of other vehicles at an estimated cost of $2.75 million.

Technology upgrades could cost an estimated $2.3 million, Townsend said. That would include upgrading computer labs at all three elementary schools. He said the upgrades are needed because the state is moving toward online assessments.

Other technology upgrades would include infrastructure, such as replacing fiber-optic cables that are nearly 15 years old.

Security enhancements could cost an estimated $1.2 million. That would include card-reader entry on every campus and extra surveillance cameras at the high school and a couple of other parking lots around the district.

Facility upgrades, which could carry a price tag of around $1.8 million, include:

  • a parking lot at Carson Elementary
  • lighting sensors at all campuses
  • cafeteria upgrades
  • resurfacing tennis courts at the middle school
  • districtwide freezer for food services
  • HVAC at the special services building
  • addressing parking lot issues at the seventh and eighth grade campus
  • adding two tennis courts at high school
  • recarpeting at Rann, Carson, the sixth and seventh and eighth grade campuses
  • repainting hallways
  • replacing sewer lines at the middle school
  • a new roof for the middle school
  • replacing HVAC, exterior doors and windows at the support services building

Board members have until Feb. 27 to call a bond election next spring, but Townsend said a decision needs to be reached by December or January.

In other business, the board:

  • learned the district had received the “superior achievement” designation with the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). The district has received the highest rating each year since the system was started nearly a decade ago.
  • approved a bid for two Chevy Cruze vehicles from James Wood Motors. The cars will be used for transporting teachers to training, coaches to games and small numbers of students to competitions.
  • received an update on the new agriculture facility project, which is a little behind schedule. The project is now expected to be completed in early to mid-December.
  • honored Debbie Shaw from Rann Elementary as educator of the month and Camaron Garrett as support staff employee of the month. Decatur High School choir students were also recognized.

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