Rann’s best friend: Students get to know furriest member of staff

Rann’s best friend: Students get to know furriest member of staff

{{{*}}}The time had come Thursday for a new member of the Rann Elementary staff to have some one-on-one time with a group of students.

If Lola was nervous, she didn’t show it.

She waited patiently in the hallway outside Tammy Glennon’s fourth grade classroom before being introduced to the students by counselor intern Hailey Caraway. Just a few minutes later, she had already established a bond with the kids. All it took was a few belly rubs.

Nice to Meet You

NICE TO MEET YOU – Fourth-grade students (from left) Shane Tobias, Diya Patel and Maggie Hamm pet Lola, Rann Elementary’s new therapy dog, Thursday. In addition to letting students meet the dog, Lola’s visit was aimed to teach students good behavior. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Lola is Caraway’s therapy dog, who will be on campus the rest of the school year. Although she performs a variety of functions, her job this day was to help students learn good classroom behavior.

“When you are calm and quiet, she is calm and quiet,” Caraway told the students. “This is only her second week of school, so she’s watching you to see how to behave. Now if you are talking and not raising your hand, she’s going to think it’s OK to just bark whenever she wants to.”

Occasionally, giggles would bubble out of students as Lola gave a student a lick on the hand or leg.

Caraway explained that Lola would only be allowed to run around and play when she joins students doing the same thing at recess. If students were jumping around and talking loud inside the building, Lola would mistakenly think it was play time. Lola was still learning, she explained, and the students would help their four-legged friend learn good behavior.

Her journey to the classroom has taken nearly two years, with extensive training. Lola recently passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizens test, and Caraway has successfully completed a pet handler’s course. Caraway showed the students how Lola would obey certain commands such as sitting, shaking hands and staying in place.

When it came time for the students to ask questions, many hands suddenly thrust into the air above them, but none spoke until they were called upon.

Feeling Right At Home

FEELING RIGHT AT HOME – When not visiting with students, Lola spends time in the counseling office with owner and counselor intern Hailey Caraway. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“What kind of dog is she?” A 3-year-old Labrador Retriever.

“Is she your dog?” Yes, she goes home and stays with Caraway.

“What happens during a fire drill? Will she bark?” No, she’s trained to stay calm around loud noises. She will look to Caraway for instruction.

“Can she be around other types of animals?” Yes, she and Caraway’s pet cat like to give kisses to each other.

At the end of the session, students in groups of three or four came forward to pet Lola, who took the opportunity to plant a few more kisses on her new friends.

After the session, Caraway explained some of the other ways Lola is able to help students.

“There are so many different ways we can use her – like if a kid is really upset and crying, and we can’t calm them down, they can pet her and it really calms them down,” she said.

Lola can also be used to help struggling readers. Sometimes Lola can be found in the library listening to a child read a book to her.

At other times, being around Lola can be a reward for students who show improved behavior. Caraway said she is already seeing a difference among several students.

Lola also seems to be getting used to her new surroundings. In fact, Caraway said one day Lola figured out how to open a door and decided to go visit a fifth-grade class on her own.

“They thought it was funny,” Caraway said.

During a recent rain shower, Lola also entertained students by standing on her hind legs to look out a window of a classroom.

Lola will continue to receive additional training, just as Caraway will continue her master’s degree work leading up to her graduation in May.

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Celebrating Kynslee and her kidneys

For her fourth birthday, Kynslee Knight of Decatur will celebrate with cake and candles – and a hotel stay topped off with a nice, long walk.

“To raise money for my kidneys,” the spunky 3-year-old said, distinctly pronouncing each syllable of the last three words, bobbing her head from side to side with each one.

“Where are we going to stay?” her dad, David, asked.

“At a hotel!” she responded excitedly.

“She loves staying at the hotel,” her mother, Bridget, interjected.


SIDEKICK – With her trusty “red Minnie” at her side, 3-year-old Kynslee Knight bravely fights kidney disease, unbeknownst to many. “This little red Minnie has gotten her through,” her mother, Bridget said. “She’s had it ever since she was 10 months old, and she carries her everywhere she goes.” Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Family and friends have formed a team for The National Kidney Foundation’s Fort Worth Walk April 6 in honor of the young warrior.

Just before she turned a year old, the previously healthy baby was diagnosed with minimal change nephrotic syndrome and diffuse mesangial hypercellularity.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with was seeing her at 9 months old screaming and crying and holding her down, and you can’t explain to her what’s going on,” David said. “She doesn’t know. You’d give anything in the world to switch spots with her. Until you experience something like that with your child where for three months you don’t know what’s going on, and they can’t talk and you can’t explain …”

Typical Life

TYPICAL LIFE – Although she spent a year-and-a-half of her young life in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices in the diagnosis of kidney disease, 3-year-old Kynslee Knight now lives a typical life with her parents, Bridget and David Knight of Decatur. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


When Kynslee was 9 months old, her mother went to change her diaper.

“And it was red,” Bridget said.

She made an appointment with the pediatrician, who initially thought it was a urinary tract infection.

“They did some tests on the urine sample and called us the next day saying there was so much blood in there that they wanted us to go to the ER,” David said.

The infant was leaking large amounts of protein and blood from her kidneys into her urine.

The couple, who had just moved from a remote part of Oklahoma to near Oklahoma City two weeks earlier, rushed their daughter to The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.

Kynslee was admitted and over the span of her weeklong stay, doctors ran more than 30 different tests, including a biopsy, ultrasound, blood work and transfusions of albumin, the protein in the kidneys that were leaking.

“It’s one of every parent’s nightmares for his or her child to be sick, but to not know what it was made it even worse,” Bridget said. “They knew something was wrong with her kidneys but couldn’t tell us exactly what it was.”

The family was in and out of the hospital from January until March of 2011, without a diagnosis.

“And if we weren’t in the hospital, we were at the doctor’s office, at least once a week and sometimes even several times a week,” Bridget said.

Kynslee’s little body had swelled so much that doctors couldn’t draw blood, so they inserted a PICC line.

“Then the PICC line clotted,” Bridget recalled. “So finally after a few weeks of trying to get the blood, they decided to put a central line in her chest. That’s how they finally got it to do the genetic testing that came back with the diagnosis that we got.”

After three months, the family finally got some answers.

“It was the longest three months ever,” Bridget said.

But the diagnosis only answered a handful of the couple’s questions.

For Kynslee

FOR KYNSLEE – Many of Kynslee’s family members, including her parents Bridget and David Knight, sport green wristbands that read “I Wear Green” on one side and “For Kynslee” on the other. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


The cause of the illness onset is unknown. She is the first in both Bridget and David’s families to be diagnosed with kidney disease.

“They said she should’ve developed those signs at birth or later as a child, after age 6 or so,” David said. “There are no case studies. It’s very rare.”

“That’s one of the reasons it took so long for them to find a diagnosis because of the age that it happened,” Bridget said. “The doctors called her the little puzzle.”

Kynslee was given doses of as many steroids as her little body could handle.

“They were basically trying to keep her kidneys from failing,” David said.

In turn, the steroids lowered her immune system, making her prone to all types of illness.

After a year-and-a-half, doctors weaned the infant off of the steroids, employing them only after she relapsed.

“When she relapses, she basically leaks protein,” David said.

“If she gets sick, that’s when she can start leaking it,” Bridget added.

Fortunately, she has not had a relapse since the spring of 2012.

She takes a combination of prograf – which is commonly administered to transplant patients but is also proven to help with kidney function – and enalapril – blood pressure medicine, which helps keep the protein from leaking.

She continues to take that prescription to help her kidneys to function properly and will continue to do so until age 6.

The prognosis thereafter is unknown.

“They just said that her deal is so rare that there’s two scenarios – grow out of it or at some point possibly have to have a transplant,” David said. “Those are your best and worst case scenarios. We choose to focus on the best. God’s healed her, will continue to heal her and protect her. And that she’ll just grow and progress normal like she has.”


Kynslee has been in remission for two years now. She visits the nephrologist every three months to check on her “special kidneys.” She has sonograms, or as Kynslee says, “pictures of her kidneys,” taken twice a year just to keep an eye on them.

There is also blood work and urine analysis, but the young fighter takes it all in stride.

After having blood work done, the toddler proclaims it’s been a rough day, but that’s about as much of a complaint as you’ll hear from her.

“She’s pretty much grown up as a 10-month-old into a toddler going to the doctor all the time,” David said. “When she was young, she just cried because she didn’t know. Now she knows what’s going on. She knows about blood work. She hops up there. They do ultrasounds, she lays there by herself. It’s been like that for the last couple of years. We always tell her the day before, ‘We’re going, this is what they’re going to do’ … But she doesn’t try to get out of the chair or anything. She just knows that’s what it is. She’s a strong little girl. ”

“She’s not scared,” Bridget said, “I was sad the first time she wanted to sit in the chair by herself and get her blood pressure taken … She’s just concerned about getting a sucker and a sticker.”

Outside the doctor’s office and taking medicine twice a day, Kynslee is a normal little girl.

She loves playing – be it soccer, princesses, babies, dress-up with her cousins and even “doctor.”

“She’s all girl,” her dad adds with a laugh. “She has a great imagination … People who never met her prior to two years ago would have no clue. Early on it was rough – from 2011 for a year-and-a-half. She was on and off steroids; she had the central line on her chest. She couldn’t take a normal bath; she couldn’t go swimming.”

But in those times, the family leaned strongly on their faith and family.

“We just knew that He blessed us with her,” David said. “She’s His child and would take care of her … Once you give all that burden to God, He’ll take care of it. Because we can’t do it by ourselves … In addition to that, our families were like our rock. We definitely couldn’t have gotten through it without our family.”

But perhaps the biggest inspiration is in Kynslee herself. “As parents, we wish we could be the ones who have to go through the things that Kynslee has had to,” Bridget said. “I wish that going to the doctor, having blood work, ultrasounds and taking medicine wasn’t ‘normal’ for her. With that being said though, I am also so thankful for the technology, research, medicine and our amazing nurses and doctors that we have had at OU children’s and the ones that take care of her now at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth.

“And I think it’s helped who she is. She’s just real sweet and laid-back and easygoing.”

And a sweet, healthy girl looking forward to celebrating her fourth birthday with a stay at a hotel.


Kynslee and her loved ones will walk in the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Fort Worth Walk on Sunday, April 6, at Trinity River Park in Fort Worth.

To make a donation to Team Kynslee, visit bit.ly/1i1OVFD.

“We would like to thank everyone who has made a donation to the NKF on behalf of Team Kynslee and those who will be walking with us,” Bridget said. “And as always, thank you for your continued prayers for our sweet girl.”


  • 26 million American adults are living with kidney disease – and most don’t know it.
  • 1 in 3 American adults is at high risk for developing kidney disease today. The risk increases to 1 in 2 over the course of a lifetime.
  • Kidney disease kills over 90,000 Americans every year – more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
  • Early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.
  • Of 118,000 Americans currently on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant, more than 96,000 need a kidney. Fewer than 17,000 people receive one each year.

* source: The National Kidney Foundation

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Vehicle burglary suspects sought

The Decatur Police Department is asking for assistance in identifying three people suspected of breaking into cars and using stolen credit cards to make purchases at Wal-Mart last weekend.

Sgt. Mike Picha said at least four vehicle burglaries occurred in Decatur between the late night hours of March 21 and early morning hours of March 22.

He said nothing substantial was stolen except credit cards, which were used early Saturday morning to make purchases at Wal-Mart.

The photos above are stills obtained by Decatur PD from Wal-Mart security cameras.

To report information related to the identity of these individuals or the crime, call Picha or Sgt. Gerald Wright with the Decatur Police Department at 940-393-0300.

To report information anonymously, call Wise County Crimestoppers at 800-643-TIPS or 940-627-8477. Lines are open 24 hours.

Suspects on Video 1

SUSPECTS ON VIDEO – Depatur Police Department investigators seek help in identifying three people suspected of breaking into vehicles last weekend and buying merchandise with stolen credit cards. Submitted photo

Suspects on Video 2

Submitted photo

Suspects on Video 3

Submitted photo

Suspects on Video 4

Submitted photo

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Decatur offers new emergency alert system

{{{*}}}Decatur citizens have a new way to receive an alert during an emergency situation.

The city is now using the Everbridge system in order to quickly notify residents of a variety of situations.

“We have a commitment to protect our citizens from any danger that threatens our community,” Police Chief Rex Hoskins stated in a press release announcing the new system. “The ability to reach all residents quickly during an emergency in order to warn them and provide guidance is critical to upholding that commitment, which is why we selected the Everbridge system.

“The Everbridge mass notification and interactive communication system ensures the city will be able to react quickly and efficiently to reach each individual in the case of an emergency.”

Citizens listed in the city’s 911 database will be automatically subscribed to alerts by landline, but citizens may also register individually to select other means of notification and the types of alerts they would like to receive.

For example, once residents create an account, they can select the order of notification. For instance, a resident could request a text sent to their cell phone as their primary notification but also list an email or a call to their cell phone as a secondary notification.

Weather alerts available to residents include:

  • tornado warnings (mandatory for all residents)
  • tornado watch
  • severe thunderstorm warning
  • snow warnings
  • sleet warnings
  • winter storm warnings

Community alert options include:

  • informative law enforcement alerts
  • informative fire department alerts
  • water outages
  • power outages
  • public meeting alerts
  • traffic information/road closures

You can also select certain locations so that you can be notified of activity near places like your home, work or school.

There is even a way to opt out of receiving alerts during certain times of the day.

The system also includes a page that allows you to input information on your special needs, skills or volunteer opportunities that may be of interest in the event of an emergency.

To sign up, visit the city of Decatur website at www.decaturtx.org and click on the “Citizen Alert” icon.

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‘Opry’ to feature stars for a good cause

{{{*}}}The members of the Decatur Woman’s Club work mostly behind the scenes – collecting canned goods, cooking for charity events, serving nursing home residents – quietly giving away nearly $100,000 in cash and items to community causes last year.

But now and then, they make a little noise.

The First Baptist Church sanctuary will be the site of some joyful noise Saturday, April 5, when the Woman’s Club hosts “An Evening at the Opry” as a benefit for Decatur Cares, Raquel’s Wings for Life and the club’s creative writing and scholarship projects.

The concert, which cranks up at 7 p.m., will feature country gospel artist Chuck Hancock along with Joy Roberts, Kathy McCarley, John Webster, Texas Praise and The Websters, along with “rookie” Courtney Bow from Keeter, who will do a Patsy Cline song.

Webster, music minister at The Bay Church at Runaway Bay, will emcee the event. Tickets are $10 and are available from Woman’s Club members or at the door.

Hancock will headline the show. A native of Texas, he started out playing country music and in 1971 moved to Georgia to build a business and raise a family.

He put music on the back burner during this time, and after he accepted Jesus, he thought his music days were over. Then he attended a country gospel concert and realized he could do country-style music – but with a different message.

Over the past several years, he has seen several of his songs climb into the top 10 with a few No. 1 hits on the country gospel charts.

Susan Anderson, the club’s fundraising committee chairperson, said all of the entertainers are donating their time and talent to the cause.

“We’re very grateful,” she said. “Chuck Hancock is bringing his tour bus to Texas. We were fortunate that he had another engagement out this way. He was able to work us into his schedule and do it for free. These are good people.”

Hancock and Roberts have both been honored as the Inspirational Country Gospel Music Association’s vocalist of the year in the past two years. Hancock was also the Inspirational Country Music Associaton’s Songwriter of the Year last year, and Roberts is just about to release a new album.

Anderson hopes to fill the place and raise a substantial amount of money for the club’s causes.

“Last year we did several smaller things, and this year we decided we wanted to work really, really hard and pull together a big event and see how it went,” she said. “We have high hopes for this event. I’m really excited.”

Club president Lou Hitt said the group had 24 projects last year and donated 2,370 volunteer hours along with $93,743 in cash and items. The 50-member group raised $15,820 with two fundraisers last year – the spring concert and the Christmas Tour of Homes.

“We’re a labor pool,” she laughed, and Anderson added, “But you never saw a happier group of laborers.”

Beside their work for nursing home residents – everything from weekly bingo prizes to wreaths on Valentine’s Day to senior angels at Christmas – the club relishes the role of resource for scores of community causes.

Those include Decatur Cares, a program started by FBC pastor Ken May and former mayor Joe Lambert that provides food for children during the summer break.

“Decatur is such a generous, loving community, but no one organization can do everything,” Hitt said. “The Woman’s Club serves as kind of a hole-filler. We go in and pick up the slack wherever there may be a need, here or there.”

They meet in the evening on the second Tuesday of each month at the Methodist Church. The club’s membership is split evenly between working women and those who don’t work outside the home.

“My goal has been to involve the members so they’re all active,” Hitt said. “They all have things to do. It’s a working club, because Decatur has working people who really want to get out and do.

“It’s one thing to contribute money, but it’s more to contribute time and energy.”

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Lady Eagles rally for win

{{{*}}}As the potential winning run on third base in the bottom of the eighth inning, Decatur’s Brittany Roberts took a chance – trying to entice a throw from Bridgeport catcher Kensley Turner.

Winning Feeling

WINNING FEELING – The Decatur Lady Eagles celebrate after their rally to beat the Bridgeport Sissies in eight innings Tuesday 5-4. Brittany Roberts scored the winning run. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I played with her over the summer. I was wandering off farther than I should have, trying to get her to throw,” Roberts said.

The strategy worked. Turner’s throw got away from third baseman Ryhan Read, allowing Roberts to score and giving the Lady Eagles their first District 9-3A win, 5-4, over the rival Sissies.

“This win is huge. This is the most important game in district,” Roberts said. “We knew we had to be on top of things to win it.”

Bridgeport (9-8) fell to 0-2 in district with the loss. The Sissies made eight errors in the game, including two in the final half inning – one that allowed Roberts to reach third after a single and the other on the game-winning run.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Bridgeport coach Ruben Garza. “Errors have plagued us this season.”

Bridgeport jumped out to 4-0 lead with four runs in the top of the third. Turner singled in Hailey Hollingsworth. Cheyenne Davidson then doubled in Diana Garcia and Turner. Davidson scored the fourth run of the inning with a steal of home.

The four-run frame chased Decatur starter Maddie Minor from the game after two-and-two-thirds innings. Kelsey Roberts took over, pitching the final five-and-a-third, holding Bridgeport scoreless on five hits with a pair of strikeouts.

Decatur chipped away at the Bridgeport lead. It scored three in the bottom of the third on three Bridgeport errors.

Down 4-3 in the seventh, Kristina Pishotta worked a one-out walk. She came around to score and tie the game.

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Lowe’s gamble pays off

{{{*}}}When the slow ground ball left Josh Jones’ bat, Decatur’s Cain Lowe took a gamble and raced home from third base.

“I thought it was a slow-hit ball and it would have to be a perfect throw to get me, so I took my chances,” Lowe said.

The gamble paid off as Lowe crossed the plate ahead of the throw and tag of Bridgeport catcher Mason Baker to give the Decatur Eagles the 9-8 victory over the Bulls in nine innings at Eagle Field Tuesday.

“We had to overcome a little adversity, but we stuck together as a team and got the win,” said Lowe, who went 1-for-5 with his lone hit a single to lead off the ninth.

The victory extended Decatur’s winning streak to five games and put them at .500 for the season at 9-9-2.

Decatur rallied from a 3-0 deficit and took a 7-3 lead. But the Eagles could not hold it and fell behind 8-7 going into the bottom of the seventh. A Bridgeport error allowed Nick Trachta to get on base, then he stole home when Baker threw to first to complete a strikeout, sending the game to extra innings.

“We were real fortunate tonight,” said Decatur coach Chris Carter. “We did not play our best baseball. But the kids kept working and going one pitch and one at-bat at a time.”

It was not a crisp game for Bridgeport, either. The Bulls committed four errors and failed to execute several sacrifice bunts in another close loss.

“This is our 13th one-run loss,” said Bridgeport coach Ted Leps. “We’re giving ourselves a chance to win. We’re just not able to do the simple things – execute a rundown, not putting a bunt down.”

Bridgeport’s final error proved costly as freshman relief pitcher James Gray had Lowe, who led off the ninth with a single, picked off first. In the rundown, the ball got away from the Bulls, allowing the speedy Lowe to reach third.

“I got the sign from coach to steal and got too anxious,” Lowe said. “I got lucky they happened to throw it away.”

Gray took the loss after four and two-thirds of work, allowing just two hits and two unearned runs. He took over for Alex Samples in the middle of the fifth after the starter allowed six hits and four earned runs.

“For a freshman to come into that situation, he did a great job,” Leps said. “He got the ground ball he needed at the end. We didn’t make the play.”

Bridgeport jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third with a two-run single to left-center field by Erik Delgadillo, who went 3-for-5, and a run-scoring groundout by Daniel Garcia.

The Eagles erased the Bulls’ lead in the fourth inning. After Christian Carrillo worked a one-out walk, AJ Johnson, Drew Edwards and Clayton Egle followed with singles. Austin Givens then put the Eagles ahead with a two-run triple into the left-center field gap.

“His bat is coming around and he hit some balls hard tonight that were outs,” Carter said about Givens.

Givens also made five putouts in center field, including his diving catch to rob Bridgeport’s Dalton Hudson of a hit in the fifth inning.

“He made some fantastic plays in the outfield,” Carter said.

Decatur added three runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of walks, a balk and an error. Egle drove in one of the runs with a double to right to make it 7-3.

But that lead was not safe. Bridgeport plated three in the top of the sixth, including two on bases-loaded walks issued by Egle.

Egle threw five and one-third, allowing six runs – two earned – with two walks and four strikeouts.

Carter gave the ball to Mason Baur, who got the final two outs of the inning and kept Decatur ahead 7-6.

Baur, who won the game March 21 over Krum, pitched the final three and two-thirds Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Bridgeport scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to grab the 8-7 lead. Gray executed a squeeze but to bring home Samples. Then Garcia scored on a balk to give the Bulls the short-lived advantage.

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Neighbors garners 3 golds

{{{*}}}Decatur junior Nicole Neighbors garnered three gold medals Thursday at the Fit-N-Wise Invitational at Decatur High School.

The junior won both hurdles and teamed with Bailey Berry, Haley Dennard and Keauna Smith to capture the gold medal in the 4×400 with a 4:15.22.

Shining on the Track

SHINING ON THE TRACK – As ominous clouds build in the background, Decatur’s Nicole Neighbors clears a hurdle in the 300 meter race on her way to a victory Thursday. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Neighbors won the 100 hurdles in 16.65, finishing just ahead of teammate Macen Stripling in second with a 16.78. In the 300 hurdles, Neighbors ran 48.53 to win.

Stripling added to her medal count, winning the high jump by clearing five feet.

Dennard won the 800 in 2:25.55.

For the Decatur boys, Gunnar Parker won the 100 and 200. He torched the track in 11.06 in the 100. In the 200, he beat teammate Grayson Muehlstein, running 22.8. Muehlstein took second in 22.93.

Brandon Rivera continued his impressive start in the 800, winning in 1:56.31.

Muehlstein and Rivera joined Justin Meyers and Jacob Kevetter on the mile relay that captured gold in 3:26.62.

Kevetter won the long jump with a leap of 21-9.5, and the 110 hurdles, finishing in 15.14. He took second in the 300 hurdles in 39.78.

Taylor Clayton won the 3,200 in 10:05.27.

Decatur will be off next week before the District 9-3A championships April 9-10 in Sanger.


Girls varsity

Team 2: Decatur 148

100: 5. Yanira Rivas, Decatur, 13.34

200: 5. Yanira Rivas, Decatur, 27.78

400: 2. Haley Dennard, Decatur, 1:03.18

800: 1. Haley Dennard, Decatur, 2:25.55; 2. Jessica Kyle, Decatur, 2:27.92; 4. Kaylee Rhine, Decatur, 2:35.08

1600: 2. Jessica Kyle, Decatur, 5:43.34; 6. Georgina Palomo, Decatur, 5:59.4

3200: 2. Paola Palomo, Decatur, 12:58; 3. Georgina Palomo, Decatur, 13:27; 4. Lluvia Ramos, Decatur, 13:45

100 hurdles: 1. Nicole Neighbors, Decatur, 16.65; 2. Macen Stripling, Decatur, 16.78

300 hurdles: 1. Nicole Neighbors, Decatur, 48.53; 5. Macen Stripling, Decatur, 52.82

4×100: 4. Decatur (Abbie Heiens, Jaclyn Hicks, Bailey Berry, Yanira Rivas) 52.49

4×200: 4. Decatur (Keauna Smith, Marissa Muehlstein, Bailey Berry, Macen Stripling) 1:52.75

4×400: 1. Decatur (Nicole Neighbors, Bailey Berry, Haley Dennard, Keauna Smith) 4:15.22

High jump: 1. Macen Stripling, Decatur, 5-0; 6. Bailey Berry, Decatur, 4-8

Pole vault: 4. Jessica Kyle, Decatur, 8-0

Discus: 2. Lily Doubrava, Decatur, 94-4.5

Boys varsity

Team: 2. Decatur 156

100: 1. Gunnar Parker, Decatur, 11.06

200: 1. Gunnar Parker, Decatur, 22.8; 2. Grayson Muehlstein, Decatur, 22.93

400: 4. Brandon Rivera, Decatur, 52.47

800: 1. Brandon Rivera, Decatur, 1:56.31; 3. Payton McAlister, Decatur, 2:08.93

1600: 5. Parker Cullop, Decatur, 4:59.53

3200: 1. Taylor Clayton, Decatur, 10:05.27; 4. Parker Cullop, Decatur, 10:55.17

110 hurdles: 1. Jacob Kevetter, Decatur, 15.14

300 hurdles: 2. Jacob Kevetter, Decatur, 39.78

4×100: 3. Decatur (Grayson Muehlstein, Justin Myers, Ryan Durdon, Gunnar Parker) 44.15

4×200: 4. Decatur (Cain Lowe, Brandon Boswell, Justin Myers, Ryan Durdon) 1:35.46

4×400: 1. Decatur (Grayson Muehlstein, Justin Myers, Jacob Kevetter, Brandon Rivera) 3:26.62

High jump: 2. Paul Walker, Decatur, 6-0; 3. Jacob Kevetter, Decatur, 6-0

Pole vault: 2. Chad Layton, Decatur, 12-0; 6. Colton Teter, Decatur, 10-0

Long jump: 1. Jacob Kevetter, Decatur, 21-9.5

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Donna Lee Carper Bigley

Donna “Momma Bigley” Lee Carper Bigley

Donna “Momma Bigley” Lee Carper Bigley, 69, a homemaker, died Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 3 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Decatur with Bishop Richard Gillespie officiating.

Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Pallbearers are Gary Bigley, Babe Bigley, T.M. Bigley, Frank Carper, John Carper and Tino Pequeno.

Donna Lee was born Aug. 14, 1944, in McLean, Va., to Woodrow Wilson “Willie” and Betty (Owen) Carper. She was a mom or “Gee Gee” to everyone, loved animals and was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Encee Owen and Gary Wayne Carper; son Shelly Bigley; and son-in-law Stephen Blaylock.

Survivors include daughters Callie Jo Hartsock and husband, Randy, Laura Lee Blaylock, and Beth Jackson and husband, Billy, all of Decatur; sons Johnny Lee Carper and wife, Lisa, of Fayetteville, Ark., Frankie Lynn Carper and wife, Laura, of Sterling, Va., T.M. Bigley and wife, Rhonda, of Cleburne, Babe Bigley and wife, Jennifer, of Aubrey, and Gary Andrew Bigley and wife, Sara, of Aubrey; 29 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and other family members and friends.

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David Lee Johnson

David Lee Johnson

David Lee Johnson, 82, a regional plant manager, died Sunday, March 23, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral was March 27 at the First Baptist Church in Decatur, and burial was March 28 in Clines Prairie Cemetery in Huntsville. The Rev. Gerre Joiner and Dr. William Lewis officiated.

Pallbearers were Austin Lester, Garrett Johnson, Nick Martin, Alec Johnson, Stan Shults and J.P. Flynt. Honorary pallbearers were the First Baptist Church Adult 6 men’s class.

David was born Oct. 11, 1931, in Liberty to Morris and Ida (Dugat) Johnson. He served his country in the U.S. Air Force and married Eula Flynt June 2, 1955, in Baytown.

He was a chemical engineer for Oxidental for 37 years before they changed to Western Gas Resources. He worked there four more years. David was a member of the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Jason Johnson.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Eula Johnson of Decatur; children Judy Wilbanks and husband, Danny, of Longview, Wayne Johnson and wife, Michelle, of Houston, DeAnne Martin and husband, Craig, of Decatur and Joyce Robinson and husband, Chris, of Argyle; grandchildren Austin Lester, Lindsey Lester, Garrett Johnson and wife, Mary, Robin Johnson, Alec Johnson, Stevie Martin, Hannah Martin, Nick Martin and Hannah Griffith, Henry Robinson, Jacob Robinson, Ben Robinson and Molly Robinson; great-grandson Braxton Martin; brothers-in-law Bill Flynt and John Flynt and wife, Ellen; nephews Paul Flynt, Allen Flynt and Gary Flynt; nieces Mary Phelps and Carol Flynt; and other family members and friends.

Memorials may be sent to: Neurology Department, UT Southwest, c/o Dr. Richard Dewey, Parkinson’s Research, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390.

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Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Daniel Muehlstein

{{{*}}}Karis Ann Kuykendall and Garrett Daniel Muehlstein of Decatur were married Feb. 15, 2014, at The Prado at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif.


Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Daniel Muehlstein

William Smith officiated the double-ring ceremony.

The bride is the daughter of TJ and Vicky Kuykendall of Decatur.

The groom is the son of Aaron and Julie Muehlstein of Decatur.

Escorted by her father, the bride wore a strapless, satin trumpet gown with lace applique and a single-tier, mid-length veil. She carried a hand-tied bouquet of ivory vendella roses accented with cream alstromeria and cream ranunculus.

Maid of honor was Hilary Kuykendall, sister of the bride. Bridesmaids were Holly Harrison; Marissa Muehlstein, sister of the groom; and Abby Chambless.

They wore black, cocktail-length dresses and carried hand-tied bouquets of red freedom roses.

Best man was Grayson Muehlstein, brother of the groom. Groomsmen were Chris Saunders; Jake Walker, cousin of the groom; and Kyle Boespflug.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held at The Alhambra Room at The Prado at Balboa Park.

The couple live in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

The bride attended Decatur High School and Tarleton State University.

The groom graduated from Decatur High School. He is in the United States Marine Corps.

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Madelyn Faith Euler

{{{*}}}Ben Euler and Heather Roones of Decatur announce the birth of a daughter, Madelyn Faith, on March 21, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 9 pounds and was 20 inches long.

She has one brother: Isaiah, 1; and one sister: Ariana, 6. Grandparents are Brenda Sowell of Washington, Al and Liz Roones of Paradise, Peter Euler of east Texas and Sharon Roones of Missouri.

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Wreck victim identified

Wreck victim identified

{{{*}}}A Haslet man was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident just north of Decatur early Sunday morning.

Zachary Fano, 18, was transported by ground ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur, then flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Sunday Wreck

SUNDAY WRECK – An 18-wheeler drove over this small pickup early Sunday morning on U.S. 287 north of Decatur. The driver, 18-year-old Zachary Fano of Haslet, sustained injuries, but they were not life-threatening. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

As of Tuesday morning, he had been discharged from the hospital.

The accident, which was reported just after 4 a.m., is under investigation. It appears Fano was southbound in a small pickup on U.S. 287, near Bono’s, when he lost control. Witnesses said the truck ran off the roadway into the right-side ditch, overcorrected and darted back onto the highway, where an 18-wheeler drove over its front end.

The impact caused the pickup to flip. It came to a rest on the side of the road, near Agvantage.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured.

State troopers are investigating the accident and said they believe drugs were a factor in the crash.

Decatur fire and police departments and Wise County medics also responded.

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Softball Roundup: Boyd knocks off Paradise

{{{*}}}Amber Bowen drove in two runs as the Boyd Lady Yellowjackets knocked off Paradise 7-3 Friday.

Chandler Hammond added three hits for Boyd.

Chelsea Arlington picked up the win, striking out six and allowing three runs on eight hits.

Shelby Lavigne doubled and drove in two for the Lady Panthers.


The Alvord Lady Bulldogs suffered their fourth straight District 9-2A setback Friday, falling to Peaster 7-0.

Reagan Guthrie and Kaely Beaver each went 2-for-3.

Mikena Mader struck out six for the Lady Bulldogs.


Breann Hall homered and drove in two runs but it was not enough to lift Chico past Collinsville in a 15-3 loss.

Charlye-Ann Biggerstaff, Corey Tate and Kylie Marburger had a hit each.


The Bridgeport Sissies scored eight runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to finish off Muenster in an 11-1 win.

Shiloh Weirich doubled and drove in two runs, going 3-for-3. Diana Garcia, Kensley Turner and Ryhan Read had two RBIs each.

Hailey Hollingsworth limited Muenster to one run on three hits.


The Decatur Lady Eagles fell to 0-2 in District 9-3A with an 11-1 loss to Krum Friday.

Krum scored six in the second inning to build a 7-1 lead.

Brittany Roberts scored Decatur’s lone run.

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Decatur finishes 4th at Robson Ranch

{{{*}}}The Decatur Eagles finished fourth Monday at the Fossil Ridge Invitational at Robson Ranch.

The Decatur squad fired a 346. Prince of Peace won the tournament with a 319.

Drew Jones finished fourth with a round of 78. Bryce Elder shot 86, Cade Lamirand 89, Hayden Bennett 93, and Charlie Shannon 95.

Lawson Harris fired a 93, playing as an individual. Dawson Thompson hit 103.

Bridgeport took fifth with a 362.

Brayden Garrett and Brazier Talley shot 89s. Ty Reed hit 90, Blake Boyd 94, and Austin Lennard 112.

Decatur and Bridgeport will start the District 9-3A tournament April 2 at Tanglewood Golf Resort in Pottsboro. The tournament will conclude April 7 at Turtle Hill Golf Course in Muenster.

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Decatur extends winning streak to 4

{{{*}}}The Decatur Eagles started the season 4-9-2, playing against some of the area’s top teams at the North Texas Tournament of Champions and the Princeton Tournament.

But those opening struggles have given way to the Eagles’ recent surge at the start of District 9-3A play. With an 11-5 victory over Krum Friday, Decatur (8-9-2) moved to a league-best 2-0 and extended its winning streak to four games.

Decatur coach Chris Carter credits that tough opening stretch for some of the success the team is now experiencing.

“We faced some good teams and saw some good pitching and tough hitting. There’s not much that can be thrown at us that we haven’t seen,” Carter said. “We didn’t get down after the two tough tournaments. We kept focused on what’s important – and improving.”

The Decatur bats have come alive during the streak. The Eagles had 11 hits last week in the 5-4 victory over Gainesville, including Nick Trachta’s walk-off homer. In Friday’s win over Krum, Decatur pounded out 16 hits, including three each for Mason Baur and Drew Edwards.

“It was our best hitting game of the season,” Carter said. “The kids have gained confidence that maybe they didn’t have early in the season. They are focusing on having quality at-bats and are not worried about average or striking out.”

Baur gave the Eagles six scoreless innings on the mound, striking out 11 and allowing three hits. He issued two walks.

Baur’s strong start followed the complete game win by Clayton Egle against Gainesville last week.

“They are throwing the ball good,” Carter said. “They are focused on throwing strikes, and we are playing good defense behind them.”

The Eagles took on rival Bridgeport at home Tuesday and will close the first half of 9-3A play April 1 at Sanger.

“It’s important to get off to a quick start,” Carter said. “But it’s more important how you finish.”

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Fuller starts job at Decatur

{{{*}}}Mike Fuller introduced himself to his new players at Decatur High School Monday and spoke briefly.

“I told them who I was, what I’m about and my expectations,” said the new Decatur football coach and athletic director. “I want them working hard and competing in everything they do.”

The Decatur school board hired Fuller last Thursday to take over for Kyle Story, who left in February to start the program at Frisco Independence High School. Fuller comes to Decatur after seven years at Colleyville Heritage.

He said he was impressed with the work he saw in offseason on his first day Monday.

“They are working their tails off. Everyone is positive and encouraging each other,” Fuller said.

Along with meeting his players, Fuller is working to meet the current staff. He said he’s met with football, basketball, track and middle school coaches.

“I have a few more people to meet,” Fuller said.

He will be making recommendations for staffing soon. He plans to bring in new offensive and defensive coordinators after Jayson Lavender and Nick Stokes headed to Frisco to join Story’s staff.

Fuller said he will bring in Tony Roth to serve as defensive coordinator – the job he held at Colleyville Heritage.

“My philosophy in building a staff is hiring the absolute best people, even if they coach the same position,” Fuller said. “Find the best people and then assign them.”

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Who vandalized babies’ graves?

{{{*}}}Jeers to whomever chose to vandalize the Preskitt Cemetery, and cheers to the Wise County Sheriff’s deputy who patrols this area for letting us know.

I went down to survey the damage. They knocked down and broke two little babies’ gravestones and two huge stones. They were all over 100 years old.

One of the baby’s graves was the oldest marked grave in the cemetery. One of the big stones was my great-grandfather’s, who fought in the Civil War – so I guess I am taking this personally.

I do not understand how anyone can do something like that. Whoever did this probably won’t even see this – but if they do, I hope they can figure out something more constructive to do in their spare time.

Again, thanks to the Wise County Sheriff’s Department, and they have said that they would beef up patrols down there. We appreciate that.

Emily Haynes Talley

Posted in Letters to the Editor1 Comment

Nancy Sue Harris

Nancy Sue Harris

Nancy Sue Harris, 73, of Decatur, died Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 26, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home with Pastor Kevin Casey officiating. Burial will follow at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Terry Hartley, Richard Mara, Todd Mara, Caleb Burk, Nate Mara and Melvin Taylor Jr.

Nancy Sue was born Feb. 7, 1941, in Aurora to Henry and Eula (Short) Taylor. She married Patrick Harris Sept. 16, 2000, in Decatur.

She is survived by her husband, Patrick Harris of Decatur; daughters Suzanne Burk of Decatur, Annette Mara of Decatur and Athena Hartley and husband, Terrence, of Alvord; sons Ricky Mara and wife, Carol, of Jacksboro and Patrick Harris Jr. and wife, Jennifer, of Oklahoma; grandchildren Nate Mara, Caleb Burk, Richard Mara, Todd Mara, Jude Hartley, Jasper Harris and Travis Mara; sister Pat Mara of Decatur; and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Melvin Taylor.

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DISD hires new AD

DISD hires new AD

{{{*}}}Mike Fuller is the new leader of the Eagles.

After taking Colleyville Heritage to seven straight playoff appearances and compiling a record of 60-19, Fuller accepted the head football coach and athletic director job at Decatur Thursday night.

Fuller said the small-town atmosphere and a chance to be an athletic director drew him to Decatur and away from his 5A job in Colleyville.

Signed and Sealed

SIGNED AND SEALED – With his family and DISD Superintendent Rod Townsend looking on, Mike Fuller inks his contract Thursday as Decatur’s new head football coach and athletic director. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I have heard nothing but fantastic things about this community,” Fuller said. “It’s an opportunity to be an athletic director and still coach football, which has been a goal of mine for a while. I love the one town, one community and one high school atmosphere.”

Fuller replaces Kyle Story, who left the district in February to become the first football coach at Frisco Independence High School, which will open in the fall.

The district had 144 applicants for the opening and interviewed eight candidates.

“The talent pool was extremely deep,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Rod Townsend. “We had 144 applicants, and there was probably 40 of those that you would have been satisfied with. As we narrowed it down to eight, it was tough. He continued to come to the top.”

Trustee Alan White served on the committee that interviewed the eight candidates and recommended Fuller.

“He blew the committee away and was by far the No. 1 choice,” White said. “He obviously has a passion for helping kids and working with kids. He’s been successful everywhere he’s been. He came highly recommended.”

Fuller comes to Decatur with a career record of 109-49 in 14 seasons split at Colleyville Heritage and Coppell.

“He’s got an impressive coaching history,” said school board president Kevin Haney. “He has a great winning history, in addition to that he is a classy guy. I think he’ll fit in well in the community. He’ll work well with all the different athletic programs and coaches and will keep things running smoothly. He seems to be really organized and a good problem solver.

“He’s a coach’s son and lived in communities like Decatur growing up. He wants to be back in a community,” Haney added. “He is a sharp guy with high ethics and morals. That’s important. We’re not just developing athletes. We’re developing young people into people that can contribute to society.”

Fuller spent parts of his childhood in Seymour, Iowa Park and Windthorst before graduating from Arlington High School.

“Truthfully, I’ve been longing to live in a smaller town rather than the big city,” Fuller said. “I grew up in some smaller towns when I was young. I’ve coached in nothing but 4 and 5A schools.”

Fuller played football at Abilene Christian University from 1988 to 1993, starting at quarterback for three seasons. He also pitched a season at ACU.

He made coaching stops at Harlingen, Conroe and Irving MacArthur before heading to Coppell as the offensive coordinator in 1997. He took over as head coach of the program in 2000, going 49-30 with five playoff appearances in seven years.

Fuller went to Colleyville Heritage in 2007.

“There were a lot of different things that made him stand out,” Townsend said. “He is a class act. The experience that he has at all levels. He’s grown up in smaller districts and gone to school in those small districts. He’s lived and worked in larger districts. He brought a very diverse resume to us. He’s proven and has a great record.”

At Colleyville Heritage, his teams ran a fast-pace offense. During a 8-3 campaign last year, the Panthers averaged 361 yards per game. The team averaged 450 yards per game in 2012, going 11-2.

“I like to go fast,” he said. “We can slow it down if we need to. I’ve had the same system for the last eight or nine years.”

He expects to have similar success at Decatur as in his previous stops.

“We’re going to put a program in place to get kids to compete as hard as they can for their school and teammates in every sport,” Fuller said.

Fuller plans to bring several members of his staff at Heritage to Decatur.

“I worked with a great group of guys that did a great job of getting the most out of kids,” he said.

The work starts Monday for the new coach.


PLAYING EXPERIENCE – Football captain and all-district quarterback at Arlington High School, three-year starter and quarterback at Abilene Christian University

OFFENSIVE COACHING EXPERIENCE – Varsity quarterbacks coach at Harlingen High School, varsity receiver caoch at Conroe High School, varsity running backs coach at MacArthur High School, varsity offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Coppell High School

HEAD COACHING EXPERIENCE – Head football coach/boys athletic coordinator at Coppell High School with a district record of 31-14 and an overall record of 49-30, Head football coach/boys athletic coordinator at Colleyville Heritage High School with a district record of 43-8 and an overall record of 60-19

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