Navigating a maze of maize

Navigating a maze of maize

GET LOST – Brittany Smith navigates her way through the high, dense stalks of Greenwood’s Get Lost Maze. The maze opens Friday and will be open on weekends until Halloween. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

A lost figure moves alone through the rustling green labyrinth.

Stalks sway in the wind, too tall to peer over, much too thick to fight through, dense as a jungle.

You’re stuck in a giant corn maze. There’s only one way out, and in the dark, the mind plays tricks on you.

Beginning Friday afternoon, the Get Lost Maze near Greenwood is back.

The maze is located on Farm Road 51 just north of Farm Road 1204. This year it will be open Fridays from 3 to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 5 p.m. to midnight and Sundays by appointment only.

Tickets are $10 each, and it’s free for children 5 and under.

The maze will be open later on the weekend before Halloween, until 1 a.m. Friday, Oct. 26, and until 2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. It will also be open the 30th and 31st. Those four days, the maze will be haunted – complete with monsters, fog machines and scary sounds.

“But we don’t start any scares until after dark,” said Kriston Wilson.

Wilson’s family started the tradition of the Get Lost Maze eight years ago, but they’ve only had it every other year.

“We couldn’t have it last year because of the drought,” Wilson said. “We’ve always had to depend on the weather.”

This year they installed drip irrigation so they’ll be able to conserve water and grow the maize for the maze every year.

“We want this to become a tradition,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. I love getting to meet people.”

And the maze is always challenging.

“In the daytime, I can get through it,” Wilson said. “But at night even I can barely get through it, and I designed it. Everything looks different at night.”

Wilson measured out the cornfield, which is about 60 feet wide and more than 300 feet long. Then she designed the maze using computer software.

It’s always been a family affair, but this year she’s been handling the maze herself.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “I underestimated how much goes into it.”

She planted the crop, which is a actually a sugar cane hybrid, back in July. It’s grown thicker than ever before thanks to the irrigation. Then she had to carve out the maze route with a lawnmower and machete.

Her friend, Brittany Smith, of Denton, has helped along the way.

“It was so thick when we were mowing that I had to hold a red umbrella above my head,” Smith said. “Kriston would have to mow toward that direction.

“I grew up in Indiana,” she continued. “There are a lot of cornfields up there, and I’ve never seen anything like this corn maze.”

To help people that actually do get lost in the Get Lost Maze, Wilson and Smith will be patrolling on a regular basis. And in this age of technology, people find other ways to get help.

“I’ve had people who get lost so they pull up the website on their smart phone and call me,” Wilson said.

This year they’ve added a family fun day on Saturday, Oct. 20, with face painting and a bounce house.

“We wanted something fun for some of the little kids that might be too scared to go through the maze,” Wilson said.

For more information or to schedule a birthday party or other private event, go to or call (940) 389-1879.

HACKING AWAY – Brittany Smith (left) and Kriston Wilson carved out this year’s Get Lost Maze. Wilson’s family has been making the mazes for eight years now. She uses a machete to clear paths. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Fire ravages large country home

Fire ravages large country home

FIRE-WATER – A large country home located between Greenwood and Slidell caught fire Sunday afternoon. The blaze spread quickly throughout most of the home. Above is a poolside view of the destruction. Messenger photo by Brandon Evans

The biggest part of a grand country home between Greenwood and Slidell burned to the ground Sunday afternoon.

Firefighters battled the blaze for seven hours in 99-degree heat. Their efforts saved the south wing of the 3,500-square-foot home.

The house is located in the 6700 block of Farm Road 51 North, just north of County Road 2625.

Red and orange flames poured from the roof of the cream-colored, wood-framed house situated on a ridge overlooking prairie land. A cluster of live oaks shaded the front yard, but gave way to sprawling pasture dotted with thousands of yellow flowers the size of quarters nodding in the dry wind.

Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department was first on scene at 12:15 p.m. They were soon assisted by Decatur, Alvord, Paradise, Era and Krum departments.

“Our engine was first on scene and flames were already venting through the roof,” said Tim Fletcher, assistant fire chief for Greenwood/Slidell. “Decatur arrived about five minutes later and with their help we were able to make entry and sever the fire, saving the south wing of the house.

“All the departments worked real well together.”

Medics tended to firefighters under the shade of the oaks, giving them bottled water and white towels soaked in cold water.

“We had enough firefighters on hand to attack it in crews of three and let three others rest,” Fletcher said. “The medics and Red Cross kept us hydrated.”

A Greenwood/Slidell firefighter got overheated and was given intravenous therapy. He was treated at the scene by Wise County medics. No other injuries were reported.

Red Cross arrived and served food to the men and women who fought the fire all day. Fletcher said the local Red Cross office is looking for additional volunteers.

The home was built in 1986 and valued at $311,000 according to the Wise County Appraisal District. It is owned by Kathy Fleckenstein.

Eighteen-year-old James Fleckenstein had lived in the house since his parents, Mark and Kathy, bought the home when he was one year old.

“It’s just a weekend house now,” said James, who lives with his mother in Krum. “We were in the process of remodeling right now. We just pulled all the carpet out of it and painted it. We had a crew supposed to come in Tuesday and do some more interior work.”

That effort turned to naught as he stared at orange flames leaping from a rooftop quickly diminishing to ash and charred wood. Thick, black smoke dimmed the sun’s glare.

He didn’t know what started the fire.

“It might be electrical, but we just don’t know.”

With no Wise County Fire Marshal it might be a while before the cause of the fire is discovered.

“It’s still under investigation,” Fletcher said. “The county needs a fire marshal. Our department doesn’t have the ability to study the details and forensics of the scene to determine what caused it.”

WRECKED RENOVATION – Firefighters from six departments battled tirelessly for almost seven hours in 99-degree heat as a 3,500-square-foot home burned on the prairie. The owner was in the process of renovating the 26-year-old house. Messenger photo by Brandon Evans

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Teague remembered for service to community

If you live in the Greenwood or Slidell area and have had a fire on your property within the past 50 years, chances are Major Teague has come to the rescue.

And if you listen to emergency radio traffic, no doubt you are familiar with Teague’s distinctive gravelly voice.

If you have served on the Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department with Teague, there are probably enough stories to fill several newspapers.

On Saturday, friends, family and fellow firefighters said a final goodbye to Teague at his graveside service at Greenwood Cemetery. Teague died Monday, Aug. 27, in Greenwood.

For the past three years, Teague served as an honorary member of the department, but prior to that he had served actively for half a century.

Tim Fletcher served alongside Teague for nearly 40 years. He said Teague preferred the firefighting part of the job.

“He knew his limitations,” Fletcher said. “In his later years, he drove the tank truck. He’d say, ‘I’m not a medical person.’ But one day I walked in on a medical call and Major was doing CPR on a person. He may not have been doing it right, but he was always trying to help.”

Fletcher related another story of a medical call when Teague was the first person on the scene of a man who had been stung by a bee and had a severe allergic reaction. Fletcher said he arrived to find that Teague had tried using an “old remedy.”

“I said, ‘What’s that on his arm?’ And he said, ‘It’s the old remedy. You put honey on it to take the sting away,’” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said Teague would sometimes light a cigarette at a house fire with a butane tank outside.

“We’d say, ‘Major, you can’t do that.’ He’d say, ‘I’m not going to start no fire,’” Fletcher said.

Teague would often work on the fire trucks at the “barn” – the term he always used to describe the fire hall.

His methods might not always have been textbook, but he was dedicated to helping the people of his community, Fletcher said.

At the service Saturday, dispatchers toned out a call for Teague twice, and upon receiving no answer, said, “Firefighter Teague, may he rest in peace.”

“It was pretty emotional for a lot of people,” Fletcher said.

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M. L. Teague

M.L. Teague, 75, of Greenwood died Monday, Aug. 7, 2012, in Greenwood.

Graveside service was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Greenwood Cemetery with Pastor Charles Taylor officiating.

M.L. was born Jan. 7, 1938, in Denton County to Major Grace and Edith Adeline (Terry) Teague. He married Ila Kammerdiener Nov. 17, 1961.

He served in the United States Army, and wasa volunteer fireman for the Greenwood/Slidell Fire Department for 50 years.

Survivors include sons: Jack Teague and wife, Tawnya, of Decatur; John Teague and wife, Julie, of Greenwood; and M.G. Teague and wife, Bonnie, of Greenwood; and five grandchildren: Ashley, Brandon, Crystal, Casey and Joey.

He was preceded in death by his wife and parents.

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M.L. Teague

GRAVESIDE service for M.L. Teague, 74, of Greenwood is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Coker-Hawkins.

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M.L. Teague

GRAVESIDE service for M.L. Teague, 74, of Greenwood is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Friday at Coker-Hawkins.

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M.L. Teague

GRAVESIDE service for M.L. Teague, 74, of Greenwood is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 p.m. Friday at Coker-Hawkins.

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Students graduate from A&M

Three Wise County students graduated from Texas A&M University at College Station Aug. 21.

Sydney A. Lawrence of Decatur graduated with cum laude honors, earning a bachelor of science degree in biomedical sciences.

Andrew D. Waggoner of Decatur earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural systems management, and Jack D. Sandford of Greenwood earned a bachelor of science in animal science.

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Ashley LaRae Smith and Keaton John Haverkamp

Ashley LaRae Smith and Keaton John Haverkamp

Ashley LaRae Smith of Muenster, daughter of Dan and Rhonda Smith of Greenwood, will marry Keaton John Haverkamp, son of Shana Haverkamp and Kevin Haverkamp, all of Muenster, in fall 2013.

The bride-elect is a 2003 graduate of Slidell High School and works for PumpCo Services in Valley View.

The prospective groom graduated from Muenster High School in 2005 and is employed by Orteq Energy Services in Gainesville.

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Major Teague

SERVICE for Major Teague, 74, of Greenwood is pending at Coker-Hawkins.

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Moving gift; Non-profit organization donates special trike to teen

UNSTOPPABLE – Charlie Young and Bill Silver, members of AMBUCS service organization, Thursday present Jessica McClure of Greenwood with an AmTryke, a modified tricycle that accommodates riders of all ages, sizes and physical limitations. McClure has cerebral palsy with dystonia. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Little stops or slows 17-year-old Jessica McClure of Greenwood.

The Slidell High School senior does not allow cerebral palsy dystonia to hinder her living as normally and independently as possible.

And with a special donation Thursday, there’s really no stopping the tenacious, determined teenager.

AMBUCS Inc., a non-profit service organization dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities, donated to McClure an AmTryke, a modified tricycle that accommodates riders of all ages, sizes and physical limitations.

The unique tricycles, which can be hand or foot operated, offer therapeutic benefits such as improved motor skills, strength development and higher self-esteem.

McClure had a more specific intention.

“I wanted to get physically fit,” she said. “But bikes like this cost around $1,000, and we don’t have that money. We thought about redneck rigging a regular bike and putting training wheels on it, but we realized that probably wouldn’t be very safe. Balancing is hard for me.”

Instead, McClure reached out to personnel at Cook Children’s Medical Center, where she is regularly treated and serves on the Youth Advisory Council.

“We know there are organizations that donate money for wishes like this,” she said. “And they told us about this wonderful organization.”

McClure’s application was sent to Ohio, where a club member recognized “Decatur, Texas,” the hometown of colleague, Charlie Young.

The Bartonville resident, who was born and raised in Decatur, pitched the application to his AMBUCS chapter in Irving. The club, which has raised money to give away about 1,500 in the last 15 years – more than any other AMBUCS club – agreed, and Thursday presented McClure with the treat.

A tearful McClure accepted the donation; her mother, Lanette, was just as appreciative.

“We pay so many medical bills, there’s no way we could’ve afforded this,” Lanette said. “Thank you.”

Young replied: “This is just the way we pay our civic rent. You’re most welcome.”

For information on AmTrykes, visit the AMBUCS website While most bikes are donated, they are also available for purchase.

GRATEFUL FAMILY – Lanette McClure of Greenwood kisses her daughter, Jessica, after Jessica was presented a modified tricycle from Charlie Young and Bill Silver, members of the Irving chapter of AMBUCS service organization. Also on hand for the presentation was Jessica’s father, Russell. “My parents spend a lot of money on my medical bills,” Jessica said. “I didn’t want to ask them to pay for this, too. Thank you so much.” Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Thanks for helping with camp

Dear community of friends, I want to thank you all for making Sonflower Camp for Kids with Disabilities such a bountiful success again this 14th year. You know, the Bible says to not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing, and you are all wonderful at that. In that spirit, no name mentioning is necessary, for your Heavenly Father knows all and sees all.

We had a huge crowd. Three-hundred-fifty awesome T-shirts were given away. The weather was perfect and the attitudes amazing. God is love! Praise His holy name! For you folks who have not had the blessing of experiencing Sonflower Camp, stay tuned and come out next time.

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.

Andrea Duwe on behalf of Sonflower Campers and Buddies

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Remove Ross from office

Republican County Commissioner Terry Ross’ criminal indictment doesn’t come as a surprise to me, unlike it was to his attorney Barry Green. What does surprise me is the amount he allegedly stole was under $500. By my thought and calculations, just the amount of employees it took to move the extremely large playhouse appears to be over that amount.

Regardless of the amount, what was a surprise to me is the thoughts behind the district attorney’s office when they decided not to petition the district judge’s office asking for his removal while under indictment of felony charges.

Terry Ross was elected as a steward of taxpayer money and was expected to protect the integrity of his office and use good judgment when making decisions on how he should spend taxpayer money. It’s even scarier to think that it is at this time of year when each county commissioner is required to present a new budget asking for a specific amount meant to be spent in their precinct for taxpayer benefit.

Mr. Ross has lost this taxpayer’s confidence. Therefore, at the very least, his colleagues in the commissioners court should ask for a vote of no confidence as well, and DA Greg Lowery’s office should be questioned why he decided to not step forward with such a petition.

If no petition is filed to ask for Terry Ross’ removal, I as a taxpayer will forever feel that these offices will be under a cloud of legitimacy as long as any of them remain stewards of the millions in Wise County taxpayer money.

Tracy Smith

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Rural post offices to remain open

WE'RE STILL HERE - On Wednesday, Slidell Postmaster Brenda Miller found out that the U.S. Postal Service will not close the thousands of rural offices, including Slidell and Greenwood, it had planned to in the fall. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor budget crisis will close rural post offices.

Residents of Slidell and Greenwood received good news in the mail Wednesday when the U.S. Postal Service announced it was not going to close thousands of rural post offices across the nation.

The Slidell and Greenwood offices were among those slated for closure in an effort to save the USPS billions of dollars per year. Residents and longtime users of those post offices voiced their anger and concern about the potential closings during community meetings held in the fall of last year.

“We found out it’s important to rural residents to keep their local post office to keep their ZIP codes and for community identity,” said Sam Bollen, a spokesperson for USPS. “The Postmaster General said on Wednesday that he listened to the customers when making this decision.”

Those were some of the same concerns voiced at community meetings in Greenwood and Slidell last year.

In lieu of closing, the window of time when people can use the post office will narrow. Slidell and Greenwood will both cut back to two hours per day starting in September 2014.

Bollen said USPS will probably hold more community meetings and conduct surveys to determine what those new hours of operation will be.

“All of our customers are relieved,” said Greenwood Postmaster Rose Parker. “We have a lot of elderly customers and farmers who don’t want to have to drive to Decatur. We have one gentleman who is 72 and has had the same address for 50 years. He didn’t want to lose his address after all those years.”

Next door to the Greenwood Post Office, one can hear the soft tapping of dominoes as they plop down on a slick table and slide into place. A group of gentlemen gather on a regular basis to play in the fire hall where they discuss everything from politics to the post office. A breeze drifted in the wide-open door, delivering the searing aroma of hamburgers being grilled at the Greenwood Grocery next door.

“We’ve had a post office here for 150 years; there was no reason for them to shut us down,” said Bill Maxwell, of Greenwood, between his turns at the table Thursday afternoon.

The plan to curtail hours will save the USPS approximately half-a-billion dollars per year.

Down the road at Slidell, Postmaster Brenda Miller said performing all her duties in just two hours a day will prove difficult.

“A lot of people think we just sell stamps and put out the mail,” Miller said. “But that’s the no-brainer stuff. We have to do a lot more than that. There is a lot of computer work that also has to be done.”

The Slidell office processes more than 340 pieces of incoming mail on a daily basis and has 156 P.O. boxes. The Greenwood office has 182 boxes.

SHRINKING WINDOW - In order to keep thousands of rural post offices open across the country, the USPS has decided to shrink the hours of operation. Greenwood and Slidell will be reduced to two hours per day. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Allen Greg Shrum

GRAVESIDE service for Allen Greg Shrum, 58, of Greenwood is 2 p.m. today at Greenwood Cemetery. Coker-Hawkins is handling arrangements.

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Allen Gregory ‘Greg’ Shrum

Graveside service for Allen Gregory “Greg” Shrum, 58, of Greenwood is 2 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at Greenwood Cemetery with Gerre Joiner officiating.

Visitation is 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Shrum died Monday, April 30, 2012, in Columbus.

Born Sept. 4, 1953, in Tyler to Arthur Virgil “Pete” and Mary Ann (Keown) Shrum, he owned Harts Creek Siding Co. He married Carol Lynn Harvey Sept. 3, 1982, in Denton.

Shrum was preceded in death by brother Travis Shrum.

He is survived by his wife of Denton; daughters Ashley Shrum of Denton and Kelsey Shrum of Bolivar; son Tanner Shrum of Denton; brother Avey Shrum of Cat Springs; and granddaughters Carrie Jackson and Kirra Shrum, both of Denton.

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Allen Greg Shrum

GRAVESIDE service for Allen Greg Shrum, 58, of Greenwood is 2 p.m. Thursday at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 7-8 tonight at Coker-Hawkins.

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Allen Greg Shrum

SERVICE for Allen Greg Shrum, 58, of Greenwood is pending at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Accident claims life of Carlton Mann

Carol Ann Carson has a mental picture of Carlton Mann on a riding mower, big straw hat atop his head, sprucing up the Greenwood park – a depiction of the man he was.

”It would be 108 degrees out, and I would tell him, ‘That hat isn’t going to do much for you, Carlton. Wait ’til it’s cooler out,’” the Decatur attorney recalled. “But he would just smile and keep on. He took such good care of the park.

Everything he did, he always took care of it.”

Mann, 74, of Greenwood, formerly of Bridgeport, died, from injuries sustained in an accident at the Gainesville Livestock Market the day before.

According to a press release issued by Sgt Bobby D. Balthrop, patrol division public information officer for the Gainesville Police Department, it appears Mann became pinned between a parked vehicle and a trailer after the vehicle pulling the trailer made a sharp turn around 12:45 p.m. Friday.

Mann was flown to Medical City Hospital in Plano, where he died.

A former colleague in administration at the Bridgeport school district said Mann was just as attentive to his career as he was his community.

“He was business manager over the maintenance and operations of the district, and he was a very frugal business manager,” said Bill Thetford, assistant superintendent of administrative services. “But at the same time, he made sure all of the students, teachers and principals had all they needed. He took great care of them.”

Mann also worked for the district as a teacher, coach and principal.

“He was all about the kids,” his brother-in-law, Don Alexander, said. “He loved what he did, and you could tell by how well he did it. He was the kind of guy every community wants to have.”

During his time as business manager of the Bridgeport school district, Mann headed the financial planning of major projects including the new high school, the bus barn, the maintenance shop and the elementary school.

“He saved the district a lot of money but was instrumental in recognizing the need for and planned for many projects,” said Thetford, who worked with Mann for 15 years. “He treated the money the district had as if it were his own, and he protected it as such. He did not approve of frivolous spending, and he was a great protector of the taxpayers’ money.”

After retiring from the school district in 2008, Mann and his wife, Virginia, concentrated their efforts in Greenwood, where the couple owned and operated Greenwood Grocery for a number of years and maintained the community park.

“I would say he was responsible for reviving the interest in the town,” Carson said. “I always admired and appreciated all that he did for Greenwood. He was funny, kind and a very good businessman. He always had a smile, always had a laugh about something. A great, great man.”

Thetford added: “He always had time. Regardless of how busy he was, if you needed to talk to him, he was willing to talk to you. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Funeral for Mann is 10 a.m. today (Wednesday) at Central Fellowship Church in Decatur with burial at Greenwood Cemetery.

Balthrop said the investigation is ongoing. However, it appears it was a tragic accident, and no charges have been filed.

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Carlton Mann

Funeral for Carlton Mann, 74, of Greenwood, formerly of Bridgeport, is 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 25, at Central Fellowship Church in Decatur with Dr. Bill Hughes officiating. Burial is at Greenwood Cemetery.

Mann died Saturday, April 21, 2012, in Plano.

Born Jan. 4, 1938, in Decatur to Mary (Carlton) and Frank Mann, who were dairy farmers in the Bluett community, he served in the Army National Guard from 1956 to 1970.

Mann earned a master’s degree from the University of North Texas and taught for many years. He retired as assistant superintendent at Bridgeport ISD after 41 years of service.

Mann married Virginia Ann Pinkerton April 11, 1959, in Marietta, Okla. He was a cattle rancher, spent time outdoors and was a member of Singing Oaks Church of Christ.

Mann was preceded in death by sister Fidella Mann Gage.

He is survived by his wife; children Janet Gail Mann Armstrong and husband, Neil, of Bridgeport and Brent Edward Mann of Greenwood; grandchildren Alyssa Diane Armstrong and Sage Cheyenne Mann; great-grandsons Pierce Charles Carman and Tate Ryan Lingo; brothers Burt Ellis Mann of Odessa and L.W. Mann of Alvord; and sisters Christelle Mann Martin and Frankie Mann Miliara, both of Lewisville.

Pallbearers are Rusty Mann, Tim Mann, Craig Mann, Chuck Mann, Marcus Miliara and Bill Thetford.

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