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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Carlton Mann

SERVICE for Carlton Mann, 74, of Greenwood is 10 a.m. today at Central Fellowship Church in Decatur with burial at Greenwood Cemetery.

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Carlton Mann

SERVICE for Carlton Mann, 74, of Greenwood is 10 a.m. Wednesday at Central Fellowship Church in Decatur with burial at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 5:30-7:30 tonight at Jones Family Funeral Home in Bridgeport.

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Fill up at the Greenwood Art Show

Beans and cornbread – one of the most basic meals, but some would argue it’s the best.

Greenwood Masonic Lodge 779 AF & AM has served a free beans and cornbread lunch at the Greenwood Art Show since it started 13 years ago. This year’s event is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14, at the pavilion in Greenwood.

BEANS ARE ON - Greenwood Masonic Lodge 779 AF & AM has served a free beans and cornbread lunch at the Greenwood Art Show since it started 13 years ago. This year's event is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 14. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Junior Warden Tom Goode said the lodge has provided lunch all these years as a community service.

“It also lets people know who we are,” he said. “If they want to look in the building or go upstairs, they can. It’s a way to be involved in the community.”

Goode said the lodge has a collection of photos that includes a picture of every Past Master since the lodge was founded in 1895.

Lunch is usually served beginning “around 11:30 or noon,” but “if someone comes by at 11 and wants a bowl of beans, and they’re ready … we’ll give’em a bowl of beans.”

Goode has been a Mason for 22 years, and he said he enjoys the show because it’s a chance to visit with old friends.

“You get to meet a lot of good people, and people born and raised there often come in for it,” he said. “And it’s good to see them.”

This year’s show will feature the work of woodcarver Charlie Cole and his sons, who practice flint knapping, as well as the artwork of Bill Lester, carver and knife maker.

Jodie and Anne Marie Wells will also display their artwork, and Robert England will show his carvings. Conda Goode will have a quilt display.

“It’s really more of a show-and-tell,” said organizer Dale Burks. “Nothing is for sale, but there are door prizes.”

If it rains, the show will move to the Fire Hall.

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Missing dog leaves a hole in many local hearts

LOST DOG - Cowboy, Andrea and Rick Duwe's blue heeler mix, has been missing since last Friday. The couple is offering a reward for the return of the dog known by hundreds of local children, especially special-needs children, and their families for his therapeutic demeanor.

Andrea Duwe of Greenwood has scoured the pastures near her property and the town of Greenwood in search of her dog known by hundreds of local children and their families for his therapeutic demeanor.

Cowboy, a 4-year-old blue heeler mix, has been missing since last Friday.

The canine was last seen around 7 a.m. March 9 running through the Duwes’ pasture with a stray dog.

“I didn’t think much of it because he doesn’t run away,” Duwe said. “But it’s been (eight) whole days (as of Friday).”

Cowboy has a black coat with gray on his underside and a tip on the end of his tail. There is a white mark on his face between his eyes.

Although he is not certified, Duwe contends he is a great therapy dog, especially for the special-needs children that frequent her property.

“Cowboy has always had a special relationship with children and has a special intuition with children with disabilities,” she said. “He always made sure the kids had a good time and was always where the children were.”

Jeri Kay Kao, the mother of a special-needs child, agrees.

“We’ve been out to the Duwes’ place several times, and every time, Cowboy would greet us at the gate,” she said. “When I would open the door to the van to let the kids out, he would play with them all the way to the cabin. It was really sweet. He’s a famous little dog. He’s been a special dog to a lot of people.”

That includes her 8-year-old son, Malachi.

“He always listens to me,” he said. “He’s playful, and he likes to play fetch.”

Jeri Kay said her 13-year-old, Zachary, who is deaf and autistic, would agree.

“(Cowboy) is his good friend,” she said. “He’s on his own a lot, but Cowboy hangs around him. Unlike most humans, Cowboy doesn’t expect anything from him. Dogs have a patience that no human does, but that dog was especially sweet.”

For that reason, Duwe is fervent in her efforts to find him, posting signs all over Greenwood and in Decatur.

“We saw the dog he ran away with (Wednesday), so we have hope that we’ll be able to find our Cowboy,” Duwe said. “We’re just waiting with bated breath. He’s everybody’s favorite dog. He’s irreplaceable.”

Duwe is offering a reward for the dog’s return. Call her at (940) 466-3622.

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Ila Mae Mote

Ila Mae Mote

Funeral for Ila Mae Mote, 70, of Greenwood is 11 a.m. Saturday, March 10, at Greenwood Baptist Church with Tracy Epting officiating. Burial will follow at Greenwood Cemetery.

Mote died Thursday, March 8, 2012, in Decatur.

Born May 25, 1941, in San Francisco to George Dink and Iva Mae (Arterberry) Florida, she married Nim Rodney Mote March 18, 1960, at Greenwood Baptist Church. She retired as a secretary from the Decatur Mini Warehouse Storage Building and was a lifelong member of the Greenwood Baptist Church.

Mote is survived by her husband; daughter Elaine Jackson and husband, Dave, of Greenwood; grandchildren Andrew Taylor and wife, Kim, of Paradise, Barry Taylor and fiance , Meghan, of Greenwood, and Stephanie Jackson and Amy Fogle and husband, Michael, all of Decatur; five great-grandchildren; sister Melba Jane Weber and husband, Ronnie, of Bowie; and nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers are Blake Sanford, Eric Fletcher, Morris Berend, Russell McClure, Eddie Ray Griffith, Hal Reese, Scott Weber and Keith Weber.

Honorary pallbearers are Neal Fortenberry, A.C. Griffin, Brian Moore and Joe Bert Roberts.

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Ila Mae Mote

FUNERAL for Ila Mae Mote, 70, of Greenwood is 11 a.m. Saturday at Greenwood Baptist Church with burial at Greenwood Cemetery. Family visitation is 6-8 tonight at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

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Ila Mae Mote

SERVICE for Ila Mae Mote, 70, of Greenwood is pending at Coker-Hawkins.

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Sally Jean Williams and Jack Dylan Sandford

Sally Jean Williams and Jack Dylan Sandford

Jack Dylan Sandford, son of Blake and Carole Sandford, all of Greenwood, will marry Sally Jean Williams, daughter of Art and Jean Williams, all of Friendswood, on Jan. 7, 2012, at Greenwood Baptist Church.

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Main course won’t include these turkeys

Main course won’t include these turkeys

TURKEY TROT - Palamia Davis, 12, of Irving is followed by one of the turkeys she helped save last year after it got ran over by a lawnmower on her family's farmland in northern Wise County. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 248 million turkeys are projected to be raised in the United States in 2011.

Many of these will meet their end due to Thanksgiving. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten just for the holiday. That’s one-sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. per year.

But at least two turkeys living in Wise County this year will be spared the oven and the deep fryer.

Stubs and Fuzzy will be celebrating their one-year birthdays right about the time Thanksgiving gets here.

TALKING TURKEY - More than 46 million turkeys will meet the oven or fryer this Thanksgiving, but not this lucky bird. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The birds live on a rural patch of property between Decatur and Greenwood. The land features sloping hills bristling with post oaks. They share the space with goats and chickens and a cadre of five guinea fowl that scour ticks and scorpions from the land.

The two turkeys are lucky to be alive.

“We found the eggs after they got crushed somewhat by a lawnmower,” said 11-year-old Michael Davis. “We were able to save two eggs. We took care of them, and they hatched.”

Today, they follow his 12-year-old sister Palamia around like dogs, strutting and cooing, hoping for some corn kernels or oats or apple.

“They are just like pets,” said mother Elizabeth Davis.

The family lives in Irving, but they raise an assortment of farm animals on the rural property. Taking care of them brings them to Wise County every day. A winding country road, arched over in places by gold and red and orange autumn trees shedding their foliage like thousands of flowers, leads to the small farm.

And as cooks in 116 million households get set to prepare turkeys for Thanksgiving feasts, Stubs and Fuzzy are probably thankful just to be alive.

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Study suggests post office closings

At about 3:45 p.m. on a damp, cool Thursday, a white cargo truck pulled up to the post office in Slidell to pick up the day’s outgoing letters and boxes.

It’s a scene that seems destined to disappear. A study released Tuesday by the U.S. Postal Service has recommended that the Greenwood and Slidell post offices be permanently closed. The study cited a decline in office workload and revenue for the recommendation.

”We held a community meeting Sept. 8 in Slidell and one in Greenwood on Sept. 9,” said Sam Bolin, a spokesperson with USPS. “On Oct. 25, we posted a 60-day proposal which will stay up until the day after Christmas. That’s the public comment period.”

Customers have a 60-day window, through Dec. 26, to submit comments. On Dec. 26, another decision will be posted, and customers will have another 30 days to appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The commission must then render a decision within 120 days. After the final decision is made public, the post offices will remain open for at least 60 days before shutting down.

Comments can be hand delivered to either post office.

USPS has targeted 3,700 post offices across the nation for closing.

“I’m not surprised at anything the government does,” said Slidell resident Sharon McFarlane. “They live in a bubble.”

McFarlane said she and other residents plan to organize another community meeting to find out what they can do to save their local post office.

At the Sept. 8 meeting held in the Slidell High School cafeteria, dozens of residents voiced their concerns to USPS representative Janice Godlewski.

“The post office is what identifies us,” said Martha McCasland. “Our post office box is what gives us a Slidell address. Our (street) addresses are Decatur or Krum. I don’t live in Decatur.”

Residents also referenced security issues as a reason to have a post office box nearby.

“If you live in a rural area, gas or oil people will run over your mailbox or kids will mess it up,” said Kim Hornbuckle. “It’s not secure. I don’t use it.”

“The risk of identity theft is so high now,” said Ann Bartts. “If we have our mail delivered to a box someone can wait until mail is put in it and hit them.”

If the offices close, Slidell customers are told to use the Krum or Decatur office, while Greenwood customers were pointed toward Forestburg and Decatur.

Residents argued that is too far away for some of the elderly citizens.

“We have a lot of elderly residents who can get to the local post office, but they can’t make a 30 mile round trip to Decatur or Krum,” said Kim Dunlap. “I have to work. I don’t have time once I get off to make it all the way to Decatur or Krum in time. And they don’t offer services on Saturday.”

Dunlap added that only dial-up Internet access is available in Slidell, which makes online bill pay difficult.

Godlewski said the Slidell post office didn’t bring in enough revenue to justify its continued operation, which is why it was under review. She said it generated approximately $20,000 in revenue in 2010 and cost $78,000 to operate. The post office rents 130 P.O. boxes.

She said the USPS could offer a cluster box if the offices close to help keep mail secure. Cluster boxes are free-standing locked units typically seen in apartment complexes.

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Jobs Bill holds promise

Many Americans today are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, some even day to day. With no new job growth in August, unemployment at 9.1 percent and it being as likely to rise as it is to fall right now, it makes no sense not to pass President Barack Obama’s Jobs Act.

Most optimistic economists say it could create up to 2 million jobs and boost economic growth by 2 percent. The Jobs Act consists almost entirely of proposals made or endorsed in the past by Republicans as well as Democrats. This bill will take steps like lowering the payroll tax for both workers and small businesses, spending to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, and give aid to states that will help retain or rehire teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees that will surely benefit all of us and our children.

I feel this will be as beneficial for long-term recovery as well as short-term gains. It’s a win-win and with both past and some recent support by Republicans, the partisan political game that is played right now is becoming too obvious for our U.S. Congressional leaders like John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Kay Granger’s constituency to ignore.

The Republican plan of more tax cuts and deregulation is not the answer, my fellow Americans. That has been tried and failed. It’s the reason we are in such a mess right now. Truthfully, if our United States Congressional leaders from Texas can’t figure how to invest money at a rate that will bring far bigger returns down the road, it’s time for a new Congress.

The measures in the Jobs Bill, including additional stimulus spending and tax cuts for business, deserve bipartisan support. The national debt is a problem, but the surest way to make that debt bigger is to allow the nation to slip back into recession.

Tracy Smith
Greenwood

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Thanks for participating

Dear Wise County Community, we want to thank everyone who participated in any way with Sonflower Camp for Kids with Disabilities.

One hundred disabled people from all over Wise, Parker and Montague counties had the time of their lives. There were more than 100 volunteers who made it all happen. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

God bless you all.

Rick and Andrea Duwe
Greenwood

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Lela Truitt Howard

Funeral for Lela Truitt Howard, 87, formerly of Greenwood, was June 13 at Birdville Baptist Church. Burial followed at Greenwood Cemetery.

Howard died Thursday, June 9, 2011, in North Richland Hills.

Born Dec. 20, 1923, in Greenwood to Joe and Anna Truitt, she was a homemaker.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Warren Howard; son Paul Howard and wife, Sharon; grandchildren Russell Howard and Nicole Irvin; great-grandchildren Kayla, Clayton and Carly; brother A.B. Truitt; and sisters Hazel Howard and Mary Jo Leake.

Memorials may be made to Season Hospice, 5237 N. Riverside Drive, Suite 220, Fort Worth, TX 76137.

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