City not joining West Nile Virus program

Next month marks the beginning of West Nile season.

After suffering through an unprecedented number of West Nile Virus cases in the Dallas-Fort Worth region last year, Tarrant County is attempting to expand its surveillance and response plan.

Since a small portion of Newark is in Tarrant County, it was one of the cities asked to take part in an interlocal agreement and join the program. But due to the city’s small staff, the city council voted 4-0 against it Thursday night.

“We don’t have enough personnel to do it,” said city secretary Diane Rasor. “To take part you must have employees out at certain times of the day just to capture mosquitoes.”

Even though Newark is not participating in the program, the city can still benefit from it thanks to nearby larger municipalities taking part in identifying and responding to West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes.

Nationwide, 2012 had more reported human cases of West Nile than any year since 2003, with 33 percent of those occurring in Texas.

Ninety-two percent of the cases reported in Texas last year were in north Texas, including more than 750 in the D/FW area. And Texas reported more cases by far than any other state.

Last year most of the confirmed cases occurred from May to October, peaking in August and October.

Even with so many cases last year, it’s hard to predict when and where the mosquito-borne will strike hardest this year.

West Nile Virus is “disturbingly unpredictable, disagreeable and difficult to control” the Centers for Disease Control reported last September.

In 2013, it is predicted the season will peak between July and October.


  • The council voted to cancel the upcoming May election due to only one candidate running for council. There are two seats open for election.
  • Council approved hiring Ronnie Sellers to work in public works. Sellers worked for the city years ago but left in 2004 to pursue a job in the oilfield.
  • With Laura Pixler stepping down, the council had to appoint a new member to serve as liaison to the library board. The council voted to have all four members each serve quarterly on the board over the next year.

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Johnny Wayne Dixon

Johnny Wayne Dixon, 60, of Newark died Saturday, March 23, 2013, after a long battle with cancer.

Johnny Wayne was born in Houston to Josephine and Chancy Dixon. He was a truck driver for 35 years and loved his dogs.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Josephine North, stepfather E.L. North, father Chancy Dixon, and brother T.J. Eilers.

Johnny is survived by son Allen Wayne Dixon; brothers Jerry Dixon, A.C. Ebarb, Logan Ebarb, Carl Ebarb, Bobby Ebarb and James Ebarb; and sisters Kathy Wilson, Sherry Carpenter, Margie Calvert and Maurine Bannister.

Johnny will be remembered and missed by all whom he touched in his life.

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Aurora Lisetta Patton

Jeremiah and Audrey Patton of Newark announce the birth of a daughter, Aurora Lisetta, on April 1, 2013, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. She weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

She has a brother, Colton Patton, 5, and a sister, Bayleigh Ward-Patton, 9.

Grandparents are Steve and Ruth Huggins of Haslet and Dave and Vera Patton of Tomball.

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Chief honored for 50 years of service

Although he’s spent most of his life putting out fires, he’s burned more midnight oil than most men in his profession – and he’s done it all at full speed, for no paycheck.

Newark Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Edgemon’s 50 years of service were celebrated Saturday night at the Decatur Civic Center.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE - For 50 years Newark Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Edgemon has volunteered for the department. He still continues to be the department's No. 1 responder, arriving at 92 percent of all calls the department received last year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

LEAD BY EXAMPLE – For 50 years Newark Volunteer Fire Department Chief James Edgemon has volunteered for the department. He still continues to be the department’s No. 1 responder, arriving at 92 percent of all calls the department received last year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

When Edgemon arrived, an American flag waved in the breeze at the high end of a fire truck ladder. He entered the gala with first responders from around the county lined up to honor his service.

“Even at his age, he responds to more calls than anyone on the department,” said Newark Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Taylor. “He responded to 92 percent of all the calls last year.”

Last year the Newark VFD received 573 calls. Edgemon responded to 527 of those. That means that Edgemon, on average responded to more than one call every day of the year. And last year the total volume of calls was more than 100 below average.

“He’s the first one on scene and the last one to stop working,” Taylor said. “He’s the one that shows up at 3 a.m. when no one else wants to go.”

He’s not just the top responder in 2012, but every year.

“He’s been the top responder for the entire 15 years I’ve been here,” Taylor said.

At the wrecks and fires and medical emergencies he’s responded to over half-a-century he not only saved people involved, but also created a trickle-down effect that has pushed others to serve in the same capacity.

As a kid, Gainesville Fire Marshal Jody Henry was inspired at an early age by Edgemon. He grew up in Newark, near the Edgemon home.

“I don’t know if it was the flashing lights or all the excitement of seeing him rush out to calls, but I started hanging out at the fire hall,” Henry said. “Instead of running me off, James mentored me and was a true friend.

“Even now, he’s still my hero in action. Just like always.”

And behind every good man is usually a good wife.

“He’s not just volunteered for the fire department for 50 years, but he’s also been a loyal husband for 50 years,” Taylor said. “How many hot meals did he have to run out on when an emergency call went out? How many Christmas mornings did he have to leave to put out a fire?

“But Sherry has been there supporting him and the department through everything.”

Edgemon joined the department in 1963. Fifty years later, he’s still burning the midnight oil, putting out fires and leading his department.

Obviously, it’s the only speed he knows.

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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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