Sessler leaps to council early

The only candidate running in the upcoming May election for a seat on the Newark city council arrived ahead of time.

Dan Sessler

Dan Sessler

Last Thursday the council voted to appoint Dan Sessler to fill the void left by former place 4 city council member Chana Massey. Massey moved out of city limits and had to resign.

The early appointment will allow Sessler to get started ahead of time, and allow the council to fill all five seats until the election.

“I’ve always been involved in the city,” Sessler said. “I saw an opportunity to run for council and a chance to get more involved. I’ve seen a lot of improvements made to the city of Newark and the good job being done and I wanted to be a part of it.”

In his upcoming term, Sessler said roads, along with water and sewer, will be the major issues facing City Hall.

“There’s a lot that still needs to get done in Newark,” Sessler said. “And we have a limited income to work with because this is a small community.

“This is a great council. It’s a working council. Everybody does volunteer work. The council gets out and digs ditches, shovels water. Everybody puts in time with no pay whatsoever.”

Even with the appointment of Sessler, the council will be short one member after the election. Longtime council member and mayor pro tem Laura Pixler, whose term ends in May, decided not to file for re-election.

“I hate losing (Massey and Pixler),” said Mayor Matt Newby. “They were both very involved and motivated.”

Sessler said he hopes the council can find someone to appoint to the soon-to-be empty seat.

Newby echoed the sentiment.

“I’d like for there to be a full house,” Newby said. “I think it’s better because more people bring more ideas to the table. It’s easier to come up with solutions to problems when more people are working together.

“I hope someone steps up and wants to get involved.

“We’ve been fortunate that the council we’ve had is hands-on. They are all willing to take on projects and challenges.”

Sessler has decades of experience in the corporate and the television and broadcast equipment industry. For 23 years he worked for Harris Corp., part of a select team formed in 1998 that helped broadcasters transition from analog to digital television.

He moved to Newark about 10 years ago. He’s the president and general manager of RF Specialties of Texas, a company that sells equipment to radio and television stations. He’s been married to his wife Cindy for 32 years. They have three children, J.D., 19, Jelayne, 26, and Jonette, 28.

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R.H. ‘Bob’ Hobbs

R.H. 'Bob' Hobbs

R.H. ‘Bob’ Hobbs

R.H. “Bob” Hobbs, 76, of Newark, died Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013.

Friends and family will gather for a celebration of life at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the home of his daughter, Kathy Diffie, in Azle.

Bob was born Dec. 4, 1936, in Palmer to Robert and Vernice Hobbs. He was the town barber in Newark from 1973 to 1998, and he loved to catfish, hunt, tell jokes and play pool.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Linda Hobbs; daughters Kathy Diffie, Connie Smith, Dianna Snider and Rene Turner; son Raymond Collins; brother Daniel Hobbs; sister Patsy Godbey; 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Parkinson Foundation.

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Couple, community rescue dog from abyss

Ditch hops off the couch and bounces over to his smiling master.

The six-month-old, brindle-colored boxer moves with such ease it’s hard to believe it’s been only a little More than a week since he had one of his legs amputated. A row of staples hold together a fold of pink skin over a round nub where his right rear leg used to be. Yet he scrambles around like he’s had months to adapt to being a tri-pod.

DOG DAYS ARE OVER - An unknown suspect or suspects left a six-month-old boxer for dead in a ditch along a highway in Newark. James Tucciarone found the dog with his back legs bound by a pair of pantyhose. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DOG DAYS ARE OVER – An unknown suspect or suspects left a six-month-old boxer for dead in a ditch along a highway in Newark. James Tucciarone found the dog with his back legs bound by a pair of pantyhose. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Thanks to the efforts of Tabitha and James Tucciarone of Newark, and a giving community and vet clinic, he’s been given a new lease on life. Before they found him, Ditch suffered from what appears to be an extremely cruel case of abuse.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, James had just dropped his daughter off at school. He was returning to his home in Newark Ranch, just off Farm Road 718, when a bundled mass caught his attention.

“I kind of noticed something in the ditch that shouldn’t be there,” James said. “I pulled over and here’s this little guy curled up in the ditch in the rain. He gave me this look like, ‘You’re here for me.’ Like he was waiting for someone.”

James wrapped him up in a blanket and put him in the truck. That’s when he noticed something horribly wrong with the puppy.

“There was something wrong with his leg,” he said. “The stench was overwhelming. His back leg had no hair, and it had swollen to four times its normal size.”

He noticed something strange wrapped around one of the rear legs. Without disturbing it further, he took the dog to Boat Club Road Animal Hospital.

Someone had bound the puppy’s rear legs together tightly with the elastic waistband from a pair of pantyhose and dumped him into a ditch on the side of the road.

“It had been tied on him for several days at least,” James said. “There was no skin on his leg. Only meat. And in his condition there was no way he could have walked there on his own.

“The animal clinic said it was an obvious case of abuse. There was no reason for that to be wrapped around him.”

The damage caused from binding the rear legs together had caused one of them to begin rotting off. The hospital attempted a special treatment to try and save the leg.

That’s when the community stepped forward to help. Former Newark City Council member Bandy Hicks, who works at the animal clinic, started an online fundraiser through the website to help with medical bills. Within 12 days the site had raised more than $1,200 for the injured pup. A fundraising jar set up in the Conoco in Newark raised a couple hundred more. The animal hospital also helped by doing the procedures for a reduced rate.

“They tried a type of water treatment to remove dead tissue and stimulate new tissue growth,” James said. “They did it for several days and thought he was responding. But when they removed the wrapping and saw bone and tendons, they told us they had to take the leg off.”

After going through everything with the puppy, the Tucciarones couldn’t bear turning him over to a shelter, so they kept him.

“He can already run and play with the other dogs,” James added. “We gave him the name Ditch because that’s where we found him. But we’ve given him the nickname Lt. Dan.”

But they still don’t know how he ended up in the ditch near their home, or who might have injured him.

“We’re really confounded about his story,” James said. “He’s housebroken. He doesn’t act like he was abused. He’s not hand-shy.”

They never heard anything back from Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office where they reported the case.

“We were hoping that by putting the story on Facebook somebody might know what had happened and step forward,” he said. “But we’re not going to needle that to death. I like to focus on the positive, get him well.”

The look in Ditch’s eyes when he bounds around the yard of his new home indicates he’s well on the way.

BACK FROM THE BRINK - James Tucciarone holds Ditch, nicknamed Lt. Dan, just days after surgery to remove one of the dog's legs. Ditch has adapted quickly to life as a tripod and can already run and play with other dogs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

BACK FROM THE BRINK – James Tucciarone holds Ditch, nicknamed Lt. Dan, just days after surgery to remove one of the dog’s legs. Ditch has adapted quickly to life as a tripod and can already run and play with other dogs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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City wages war on street grass

Less than a year after the city of Newark resurfaced several roads throughout town, signs of ruin are already starting to pop up through the cracks.

The city recently resurfaced Park, Brown and Chambers streets. But those roads are already pocked with potholes and grass and weeds are poking up through the surface.

“On Park and Brown streets there is actually grass coming up through the blacktop,” said council member Bob Wells. “We just resurfaced these roads six months ago. This is happening on roads all over the city.

“We’ve got to approve this and get it done so we can get more life than two years out of these new roads.”

At a meeting Thursday night, the rest of the council agreed. They unanimously approved tweaking the budget so they could get a total of $35,000 into the street repair account. That’s the projected budget total to resurface Sandy Bass Lane and fix the pothole problem popping up on roads all over town.

Wells said there are more roads slated to be resurfaced, including Pettit and Burke streets, but that will cost another $34,400, which “is not feasible this year.”


The council also unanimously approved hiring a “code service official” on a part-time basis to help the city enforce ordinances.

“We need them to identify owners of property or renters, send out certified letters and produce spreadsheets,” said city secretary Diane Rasor.

She said it’s important for whoever they hire to stay on top of the enforcement process because it involves several steps. Rasor is also a certified code enforcement officer and could help. They already have an individual in mind who moonlights as a martial arts instructor.

The council approved the mayor to hire the officer for five to 10 hours per week at a wage not to exceed $20 per hour. Depending on how much they work, it will cost the city between $3,000 and $6,000 to fund the position for the remainder of the fiscal year.


  • Council agreed to again sponsor the Annual Easter Egg Hunt. The hunt will occur on the grounds outside City Hall from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 23, and will feature an egg hunt, snacks, games and prizes. If there is inclement weather the hunt will move into the community center.
  • Council reviewed photos and progress of volunteers working on water and sewer line projects toward the STEP grant.
  • City auditor Bill Spore reviewed the audit of last year’s fiscal budget with the council. He said he did not find “any deficiencies” in the budget.

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Newark resident named National Merit finalist

Newark resident Matthew Walker is one of three Northwest High School seniors named a finalist in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Walker, along with Damon King of Fort Worth and Kassidy Knight of Haslet, are among the 15,000 finalists vying for the Merit Scholar title and the accompanying scholarship. The 8,300 recipients nationwide will be announced in the spring.

The award is based on outstanding academic record, SAT scores and a detailed scholarship application that included an essay and information about their participation and leadership in school and community activities.

“We are extremely proud of Damon, Kassidy and Matthew,” said Northwest High School Principal Jason Childress. “They are hardworking, talented and deserving of this recognition.”

Walker plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and study technical writing. He is a member of the Northwest High School band, Leading Individuals Fighting for Tolerance (LIFT) and National Honor Society.

MERIT FINALISTS - Matthew Walker (left) of Newark is one of three Northwest High School seniors named a National Merit Finalist. Damon King of Fort Worth and Kassidy Knight of Haslet are also among the 15,000 vying for the title and coinciding scholarship.

MERIT FINALISTS – Matthew Walker (left) of Newark is one of three Northwest High School seniors named a National Merit Finalist. Damon King of Fort Worth and Kassidy Knight of Haslet are also among the 15,000 vying for the title and coinciding scholarship.

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Paul Randle

Paul Randle

Paul Randle

Paul Randle, 70, a bull rider and truck driver, died Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Newark.

Memorial service is 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Clark, 4262 FM 2264, in Decatur. Chaplain Rodney Bolejack will officiate.

Paul was born Dec. 24, 1942, in Roswell, N.M., to Bill and Geraldine (Hamm) Randle.

He was a professional bull rider from the time he graduated from college in 1962 until 1978. He then went to work for Lisa Motor Lines as a cattle hauler and retired after 20 years of service. He was a longtime resident of the Springtown area.

Paul was preceded in death by his parents; nephew Brett Barham; and brother Floyd Johnson.

Survivors include his daughter, Deanna Randle of Newark; son Joe Paul Randle of Albuquerque, N.M.; grandchildren Whitney Kennedy and Ashton Kennedy, both of Newark, and Ashley Randle and John Paul Randle, both of Albuquerque; his former wife, Barbara Clark of Decatur; sister Jan Barham of Carrizozo, N.M.; brother Leonard Iglesias of Springtown; nephew Jimmy Maxwell of Artesia, N.M.; niece Julie Barham of Lubbock; friends Gerald Clark of Decatur, Christi Wood of Lake Worth, Joe Gabor of San Antonio, Frank Ferrerah of Springtown, Cecile Sanchez of Fort Worth and Louie Winters of Springtown; other family members and a host of other friends.

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Investigators make another bust in Newark

For the second straight week, investigators with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office seized a sizable amount of methamphetamines from a residence in Newark, landing another blow on drug trafficking in the area.

On Thursday, Jan. 24, officers raided the home of Jackie G. Minshew, 60, in the 200 block of County Road 4874 where they discovered 6 ounces of meth and $7,000 in cash.

One week later, evidence led WCSO investigators to the residence of Danny W. Worley, 47, located in the 100 block of Farm Road 718 in Newark.

Using a search warrant, they gained access to the home and seized 4.25 ounces of meth and a large amount of packaging paraphernalia commonly used to distribute narcotics.

Worley was arrested and booked into the Wise County Jail on charges of possession of a controlled substance between 4 and 400 grams.

His bond was set at $30,000 by Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson, and he remained in jail as of Friday afternoon.

Worley was arrested in June 2010 by Newark Police Department for theft, and by the Sheriff’s Office in December 2011 for an aggravated robbery in which he, Minshew and two others allegedly robbed a woman at a hotel room in Northlake.

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Suspected meth dealer arrested at home

Wise County sheriff’s deputies raided a house in Newark Thursday afternoon and arrested three people, including an alleged major drug supplier in the area.

In the process, they discovered a large stash of methamphetamine.

DRUG ARREST - The Wise County Sheriff's Office SWAT team raided a home in Newark Thursday afternoon, arresting a suspected drug dealer and confiscating 6 ounces of meth. Submitted photo

DRUG ARREST – The Wise County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team raided a home in Newark Thursday afternoon, arresting a suspected drug dealer and confiscating 6 ounces of meth. Submitted photo

Sheriff David Walker said the department’s SWAT team confiscated 6 ounces of crystal meth valued at between $17,000 and $20,000. They also confiscated $7,000 in cash they believe to be drug money. The house is located in the 200 block of County Road 4874.

Two of the three were later released, but Jackie G. Minshew, 60, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, penalty group 1, greater than 4 and less than 200 grams with intent to deliver, a second-degree felony.

“He’s been a target on our radar for quite some time,” Walker said. “Hopefully we’ll be sending him to prison, and get this problem out of Newark.”

The sheriff’s office used an undercover narcotics officer to make a buy from Minshew. This was then used to get a warrant for his arrest. The raid went smoothly, he said, as Minshew put up no resistance.

“It ended up being a good case,” Walker said. “Six ounces is a big bust. He wasn’t only the top supplier for that part of the county, but he was also a supplier for northwest Tarrant County.

“When you keep selling drugs for so long, you are eventually going to sell to the wrong person – in this case an undercover for the Sheriff’s Office.”

Walker said the investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are probable. He also plans to file civil seizure on the house.

Minshew has been arrested by local authorities numerous times since 2001, including several arrests for possession of a controlled substance, one for evading arrest and another for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Minshew’s most recent arrest was in November 2011 for his alleged involvement in an armed robbery, when he and three others allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint at a hotel room in the Sleep Inn in Northlake.

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Wreck injures 1

One man was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident about 7:20 a.m. Dec. 22 just north of Newark.

DRIVER EXTRICATED – A Crown Victoria is about to be loaded onto a wrecker after a Dec. 22 accident on Farm Road 718. Tyler Huffman, 30, of Newark had to be extricated from the car. Messenger photo by Kristen Tribe

Tyler Huffman, 30, was driving northbound on Farm Road 718 in a Crown Victoria when he hit the back of a pickup also traveling northbound. Department of Public Safety Trooper Gary Reid said he had just turned around and was about to stop the Crown Vic for speeding when it hit the pickup that was slowing down to turn left.

The pickup driver, James Glover, 69, of Newark, had minor injuries but was not transported.

Huffman was pinned under the dash in his vehicle, causing injuries to his legs. He was extricated by the Newark Fire Department and flown by CareFlite to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Trooper Reid said Huffman was conscious at the scene but didn’t remember details of the wreck. He told Reid he may have had a seizure.

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Annabel Marie Cheney

Jessica and Andy Cheney of Newark announce the birth of a daughter, Annabel Marie, on Dec. 12, 2012, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. She weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces and was 19 inches long.

She has a sister, Hailyn Gale, 6.

Grandparents are Sara Allison of Fischer, Lonnie Cheney of Fort Worth, Lisa Baker of Bullard and Brian Baker of Jefferson City, Mo.

Great-grandparents are Peggy Allison of Haslet and Jesse Baker of Jefferson City.

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Injuries prove fatal for trike rider

Injuries prove fatal for trike rider

A man died Sunday at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth following a trike accident south of Newark Saturday afternoon.

Nathan Berman, 66, of Fort Worth was transported to JPS by Eagle Mountain Emergency Medical Services after flipping his three-wheeled motorcycle on Farm Road 718 at Maxwell Road.

TRIKE WRECK – Nathan Berman, 66, of Fort Worth died Sunday from injuries sustained in a Saturday afternoon accident on Farm Road 718 south of Newark. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s website, he died early Sunday morning due to blunt force trauma to the head and chest. When he was initially transported, it was believed his injuries were non-life threatening.

Berman and a friend were each riding a trike southbound on FM 718 about 3:45 p.m. Saturday when the friend, who was in the lead, slowed to turn left onto Maxwell Road. Berman did not slow down and clipped a wheel of the turning trike, which caused Berman’s trike to flip over, according to Public Information Officer Terry Grisham with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

The trike came to rest in the southbound shoulder, and Berman was ejected. Newark Firefighter Brett Davis said Berman was “face down and breathing” when they arrived. He was not wearing a helmet.

Grisham would not release the name of the second rider, who was not injured. Although the accident occurred just inside Tarrant County, it was within the Newark Fire Department’s district.

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Son saves mom’s life

Son saves mom’s life

Eleven-year-old Grayson Moore was born blue.

The fifth grader at Seven Hills Elementary wasn’t expected to survive long after being deprived of oxygen during his birth.

“He was born three weeks early, and they didn’t give us much hope,” said his mother Milissa Moore. “He was blue. He had to go into intensive care at Harris Methodist for three weeks.”

LIFESAVING ACTION – Milissa Moore of Newark hugs her son, Grayson. The 11-year-old recently helped save his mom’s life when she went into a series of seizures outside their home. Messenger photo by Brandon Evans

But there was something special about Grayson. Despite being born three weeks pre-mature, he already weighed 9 1/2 pounds. His father Scott and his mom stayed night and day at the hospital until Grayson stabilized.

“He’s meant to be here,” Milissa said. “He has a purpose.”

Earlier this month, Grayson proved at least part of his purpose when he helped save his mother’s life.

“My mom went outside to take out the trash,” said Grayson. “I was asleep in the living room. But I woke up after I heard a noise outside.”

Milissa was in the grip of violent seizures. She’d fallen near the front steps of her home in Newark. Her head was heaving uncontrollably up and down onto the wooden surface near the steps. While some people might have been too scared or shocked to act, Grayson reacted with certainty and purpose.

“The first thing I did was roll her onto the grass because it was a softer surface,” Grayson said. “I then brought her a pillow to put under her head and a blanket because it was cold, and I called my dad.”

His father, who was working the late shift, called 911 and rushed home. In the meantime, Grayson continued to remain calm and care for his mother.

“He kept count of how many seizures she had, so he could tell that to the medics and firefighters when they arrived,” Scott said.

Moments later, members of the Newark Volunteer Fire Department and Wise County medics arrived on the scene.

“They said everything he did was textbook,” Scott said.

They transported Milissa to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur where they were able to stabilize her.

Milissa was diagnosed with epilepsy about a year ago after a traffic accident left her brain damaged. Her life has permanently changed. Her frequency of seizures makes normal life difficult. It has altered a lot of her behaviors, including sleep patterns and memory.

“A dog ran in front of me, and I swerved to miss him,” Milissa said. “I ran into a light pole.”

Her seat belt was on, but her airbag failed to deploy and her head hammered against the steering wheel.

“When I got to her after the accident, she was crying,” Scott said. “She said next time she will ‘hit the darn dog.’”

While she has tried to cope with epilepsy, her sons Grayson and Hayden, 7, have learned a lot about how to care for people who have seizures.

“He’s seen and learned a lot,” Milissa said. “He’s an amazing kid. For an 11-year-old to keep so calm – it was awesome.”

Grayson hopes to one day be a doctor or scientist and maybe help people who suffer from seizures like his mom does.

“If anybody can learn anything from this I hope parents just make sure they tell their kids how to react when somebody needs help,” Scott said. “Grayson did everything we told him to do.”

Thanks to Grayson’s calm under fire, his family enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving.

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Jack ‘Brent’ Utley Jr.

Jack “Brent” Utley Jr., 48, an air conditioning contractor, died Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Newark.

A private memorial service was Nov. 20.

Brent was born Aug. 22, 1964, to Jack Sr., and Sherry (Massey) Utley in Sweetwater. He was a member of the Sheet Metals Union No. 68.

Brent was preceded in death by his father.

Survivors include his partner, Carla; his mother, Sherry Fortenberry and husband, Ivan; son Chris Utley; daughter Leeann Utley; sisters Melinda Swigart, Traci Allen and Staci Allen; several grandchildren; other family members and a host of friends.

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Jessica Dell Cragg Prince

Jessica Dell Cragg Prince

Jessica Dell Cragg Prince, 57, a homemaker, died Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Newark.

Funeral is 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd with the Rev. Rick Neathery officiating. Burial will be at Aurora Cemetery. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Pallbearers include Jake Stewart, Johnny Stewart, Joey Lint, Jerry Wallace, Michael Douglas and Michael Bridwell.

Jessica was born March 18, 1955, to Jesse and Janie (White) Cragg in Pearsall. She married Donald Earl Prince July 22, 1983, in Humble. She was a member of the House of Prayer Church.

Jessica was preceded in death by her parents and her great-granddaughter, Zoey Stewart.

Survivors include her husband, Don Prince of Newark; son Donald Bradley Prince; daughters Kimberly Crumbley, Tracy Douglas and husband, Michael, and Bonnie Land; grandchildren Christina, Madelynne Jo, Miranda, Jake, Johnny, Taylor, Debrah, Joseph, Gabrielle, Ashley, Brett and Brad; great-grandchildren Stormy, Gavin and Raylee; brother Jesse Bertran Cragg; sisters Angela Wills and husband, Stacy, Mary Bridwell and husband, Mike, Jonie Wallace and husband, Jerry, and Claudia Appelt and husband, Mark; sisters-in-law Linda May, Charlotte Hendrix and Shirley Webster; numerous nieces and nephews; other family members and a host of friends.

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Distracted driver rams school bus full of kids

Fortunately injuries were minor after a pickup slammed into the back of a full school bus Monday morning in Newark.

The wreck occurred just before 9 a.m. on Farm Road 718, about a half-mile south of the intersection with FM 3433.

PEEKING OUT – A Chisholm Trail Middle School student surveys the smashed truck that ran into the rear of the school bus. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The bus was stopped to pick up a student, with the lights flashing and the stop sign on the side extended, when it was hit from behind. The bus was loaded with 26 children on their way to Chisholm Trail Middle School in Rhome.

Three students reported minor injuries, with one being sent by ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur after suffering a chipped tooth. The rest were loaded onto another bus and taken to class. School bus driver Kristin Freeman, 27, of Newark, was uninjured.

The driver of the pickup, Chad L. Humphus, 40, of Bedford, was texting or otherwise distracted when he rammed into the stopped bus, according to an investigator with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“He was texting or doing something else on his phone when he ran into the back of the bus,” said state trooper William Cooper.

Although the wreck crumpled the front of his pickup, Humphus was uninjured in the wreck. He was issued a citation for failure to control speed.

“I’m very remorseful,” Humphus said after the wreck. “I feel horrible about what happened. I would never want to injure a child. I’ve never even been in accident before in my life.”

Turns out the kids on the bus were just as worried about him.

“We were picking a girl up from this house, and a truck smashed into us from out of nowhere and knocked us all forward,” said seventh-grade student Conor Howard, who was nursing a sore neck after the wreck. “Everybody was scared, and we were all worried about the guy in the truck. It looked like he tried to swerve to miss us.”

Northwest Superintendent Karen Rue arrived on the scene to check on the injured students. Middle school principal Todd Rogers was also there.

“We started our emergency procedures right away,” Rogers said. “The students are fine. One is going to Wise Regional to get checked out. All the others are being sent to school.”

Another school bus pulled up, and the kids filed dutifully from one bus to the other on their delayed way to class. Rogers said there would be counselors available at school if needed. He also rode along with the injured student in the ambulance to Wise Regional.

SHOOK UP – A pair of students, Veronica Ellis and Conor Howard, from Chisholm Trail Middle School recover after their school bus was struck from behind at a bus stop in Newark on Farm to Market 718. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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Man killed in Friday motorcycle crash

A collision between a motorcycle and a pickup on Farm Road 718 killed a Newark man early Friday afternoon.

FATAL TURN – Leonard Placker Jr., 66, of Newark was killed just north of town on Farm Road 718 when a pickup driven by Tracy L. Walker, 52, accidentally struck the motorcyclist. Walker was turning onto Green Oak Road to go home and didn’t see the oncoming motorcycle. Placker was killed instantly by the impact. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Leonard Placker Jr., 66, died instantly when a pickup truck ran into his motorcycle at the intersection of Farm Road 718 and Green Oak Road just north of Newark.

The southbound pickup, driven by Tracy L. Walker, 52, of Newark took a left turn onto Green Oak Road off FM 718 and hit the northbound motorcycle head-on. Placker, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene by Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mandy Hays.

Walker, while uninjured, was visibly shaken after the accident.

“I was just going home,” Walker said, eyes reddened. “I was about to turn onto my road. I didn’t see him. It’s like he fell out of the sky.”

Nearby resident John Crane heard the impact while working in his barn several hundred yards from the scene of the wreck.

“It was a heck of a boom,” Crane said. “I ran out and saw the pickup. I didn’t know what it had hit. I didn’t see the motorcycle at first. I just called 911.”

State Trooper Zeb Siebeneck said no charges have been filed in the case, but it is still under investigation.

“According to (Walker) he just ‘plain didn’t see him,’” Siebeneck said.

The front of Walker’s pickup collided directly into the side of the motorcyle, leaving it shattered by the roadway. FM 718 was shut down in both directions for more than an hour.

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Khloe McKay Smith

Kaitlin Dawn Smith of Newark announces the birth of a daughter, Khloe McKay, on Oct. 16, 2012, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Grandparents are Kim Smith of Newark and Jamie Smith of North Richland Hills.

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Pipeline plan gets pared down

In response to complaints several years ago to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the City of Newark is moving its treated wastewater discharge pipe from Derrick Creek to another, unnamed tributary of Eagle Mountain Lake.

The good news is, the city got a Texas Community Development Block Grant to pay the lion’s share of the costs for the three-plus miles of pipeline. But instead of building it in two phases as originally planned, they have to do it all at once.

Engineer Gary Burton of Burton Engineering in Weatherford spoke to the City Council Thursday night and outlined cutbacks he has made in the project in order to get it done in one project.

“They won’t fund this thing in two phases,” he said. “If we’re going to move the discharge with this grant money, it’s going to have to all be done at once.”

Burton said he had gone back through the project and cut back in every area possible, reducing the cost from $22 a foot to $18 a foot. He reduced the thickness of the pipe to the minimum allowable, and he left out some of the valves, cleanouts and pumps that will be required along the way.

Doing it all at once, however, increases the city’s match from $28,500 to $49,610.

“If we get good bids, I feel like there’s a good likelihood we can get the pipeline in for that,” he said. “When we get the bids in, we may do even better than this, but I hate to cut it any further. If we get better bids, it will reduce that match.”

Brainstorming after Burton revealed his list of cutbacks, Mayor Matt Newby said he thinks the city can come up with the money for the pumps if they sell off some old electrical pumps they are not using. And City Administrator Diane Rasor said the city’s reserves, after the annual audit is completed, will likely go from $125,000 to $175,000.

“We knew we were gambling anyway, trying to get it in two phases,” Newby said.

Councilman Bob Wells urged Burton to study the bids carefully.

“We have to be doggone careful to get the best price we can,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of wiggle room here.”


In a nearly two-hour meeting, the council also spent a substantial amount of time discussing code enforcement and the city’s sign ordinance.

After contracting with Code Enforcement Officer Don Strange for a couple of years, the city was notified recently that he will not be able to continue that five-hour-a-week effort. Since then, Rasor said she, Councilwoman Linda Anderson and city staff have been working to find code violations and send out letters – and have gotten some significant results.

But, she noted, the amount of time involved makes it unlikely that level of effort can continue.

“It’s something I love to do, but I don’t know if I have time to do it,” she said. “We’ve been doing all the administration on it, even with the outside person.”

Currently, when a violation is spotted – like a yard that needs mowing, junk cars, etc. – a certified letter is mailed to the homeowner. Often they respond and the problem is taken care of. If there’s no response, the city can address the problem itself and bill the homeowner, and if the bill isn’t paid the city can file a lien on the property.

Rasor suggested that two city employees had expressed an interest in attending code enforcement class and working in that area for a few hours a week. But councilmembers said if something else came up, the code enforcement duties would be the first thing to fall by the wayside.

“I’d rather see that effort be consistent, because if it’s not, people will get complacent,” said Councilmember Chana Massey. It was also pointed out that with the administrative duties added in, it’s already much more than a five-hour-a-week job.

And violations are rampant, throughout the city.

Massey finally recommended the council look at the resume of Strange’s recommended replacement and look at hiring him for eight to 12 hours. Rasor will bring something back to the council at its next meeting.


After considerable discussion, the city council amended Newark’s sign ordinance to require that signs be no more than 17 feet high, with a pole height of 12 feet for pole signs, and a total square footage not to exceed 25 square feet.

They also:

  • appointed Bandy Hicks to serve on the board of the Newark Cultural Education Facility Finance Corp.;
  • heard a presentation from Dennis McCreary, assistant superintendent for facilities, planning and construction on the proposed Northwest Independent School District $255 million bond issue that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot;
  • heard a staff report on accounts payable, budget and financials, and various city projects that are underway;
  • approved a resolution for the Newark Cultural Education Facility Finance Corp. to benefit Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, presented by Ted Christensen of Government Capital. The resolutions bring a net profit of $10,000 to the city as the sponsoring entity. Newark has done six so far this year, and Christensen said he hopes to bring two more before the end of the year;
  • approved an agreement with accountant William C. Spore to do the city’s annual audit, at a fee not to exceed $7,500;
  • approved an agreement with Jim Delashaw for planning and design service for the city’s Texas Community Block Grant;
  • agreed not to pay an additional bill for $4,000 to Lone Star Sandblasting for a cost overrun for sandblasting and painting the city’s water tower. The company did not notify the city in advance that the work might cost more than the original price of $11,500;
  • amended the city’s employee handbook as presented by Councilwoman Linda Anderson to update several policies;
  • discussed amending the current budget for accuracy, with the changes not impacting the bottom line;
  • agreed not to respond to a request from Skyway Towers to buy the city’s tower for a lump sum rather than pay a monthly lease rate, and
  • hired Michelle Potala as the city’s new library assistant, replacing Pat Winn.

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Eli Ray Hogue

Steven and Rebecca Hogue of Newark announce the birth of a son, Eli Ray, on Oct. 11, 2012, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. He weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 inches long.

He has one sister: Emma Hogue, 4.

Grandparents are David and Tammie Hogue, and Nick and Beth Carpenter.

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Cruise to town for 25th Cruisin’ Days celebration

CRUISIN’ TIME – Members of the Newark Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary were busy at the station Monday night planning for this weekend’s 25th annual Cruisin’ Days festival. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Ladies Auxiliary for the Newark Volunteer Fire Department doesn’t just respond in a crisis – they also host the city’s biggest celebration.

Twenty-five years ago they started Cruisin’ Days. The event is not only the fire department’s major fundraiser, it has grown into the largest celebration year-in and year-out for the city of Newark.

“It was created as a fundraiser for the fire department from people who had a passion for the 50s,” said Sherry Edgemon, a member of the Newark Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary. “Our fire department is 100 percent volunteer. We don’t get funding from the city. Our fire department depends on this. It’s very important.”

Edgemon, who was also Newark’s city secretary for 31 years, has been a member of the Ladies Auxiliary since 1968, just seven years after the auxiliary was formed. She was one of the members who hosted the first Cruisin’ Days in 1988, and she and the rest of the ladies have kept it strong ever since.

The Ladies Auxiliary provides support and relief to Newark firefighters in action. They always show up to the scene in personal vehicles not long after the first responders arrive.

Edgemon and many other auxiliary members have husbands or other family members on the department. Her husband, James, will celebrate 50 years on the department next year.

“We provide drinks, snacks, towels, rehab, a place to rest,” Edgemon said. “We just give support. And we respond to and help other nearby departments as well.”

And when the parade comes through Saturday morning, one of the original members of the 1961 Ladies Auxiliary, Onie Zuber, will be on the Red Hat float. It’s a testament to the longevity and dedication of the department, the auxiliary and the people of Newark that they’ve kept the event alive for so many years.

“We keep it fun,” said Angela Braun, vice president of the group. “We offer so many things. There is something for everybody.”

“People who used to live here come back just for this event,” Edgemon said. “We even have some people that have family reunions around it.”

For a small town fire department, Newark has a large base of volunteers with 28 members. They also cover a wide service area, ranging from U.S. 287 all the way to Aurora.

Cruisin’ Days kicks off Friday night featuring a carnival (which goes on all weekend by the fire hall) and live music by Dakota Burns. Saturday begins with the parade at 10 a.m., followed by BINGO at 11 a.m., a classic car show at noon, barbecue dinner at 5:30 p.m., fire department award ceremony at 7 p.m. and a dance at 8 p.m. The carnival and midway continues noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

All proceeds benefit the fire department. For more information, contact Dawn Killough at (817) 692-4959 or email Newark Cruisin’ Days is also on Facebook.

Members of the Ladies Auxiliary include President Dawn Killough, Vice President Angela Braun, Secretary Bonnie Neal, Shelley LeNeveu-Tres, Sherry Edgemon, Kathy Darter, Barbara Killough, Barb Drosihn and Theresa Bowden, and junior members Mari Rose Bowden, Amber Bowden, Kylee Darter, Reva Killough and Tracey LeNeveu.

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