Paradise Intermediate School given $15K for playground

Dr Pepper Snapple and the non-profit KaBOOM have awarded Paradise Intermediate School a $15,000 Let’s Play Community Construction Grant.

The grant, which is part of a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple to get kids and families active, will be used to improve the school’s playground equipment.

The district has been raising money to supplement the grant and move forward with updating the school’s playground.

“We are so thankful to have this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students and their families,” said Principal Kristin Gage. “It’s important to realize that this playground will be available for the entire Paradise community to enjoy. At this point in time there are no public playgrounds in our town. We are excited that the grant allows us to create an improved place for our students to play and also provides all the children in Paradise with a safe place to play.”

The grant money will be used to purchase equipment.

Currently, the playground has several basketball goals and a swingset. Gage said she hopes new equipment will be ordered and on the ground by February 2015.

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Basketball: Paradise continues hot start

Kaylee McConnell and Courtney Kerr poured in 10 points each as Paradise hammered Gunter 74-42 Tuesday.

Paradise moved to 4-1 on the season with the victory. The Lady Panthers went 3-1 last weekend at the Northwest Tournament with wins over Byron Nelson, O.D. Wyatt and Haltom. Northwest handed the Lady Panthers their lone setback.

Against Gunter, Jett Preather added nine points. Aliyah Read finished with eight and Emily Corbin seven.

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Paradise City Council amends water rules

Paradise’s water billing issues seem to have cleared after the city council opted to change disconnection procedures.

The council met Monday night and voted to extend city office hours on day of disconnection, as well as hiring a contract employee to work two hours a month reconnecting services. The motion passed 2-1, with Brad Largent and Terre Ward voting yes and Bob Gayan voting against. Roy Steel and Bill Schneck were absent.

Water disconnection procedures came under fire at last month’s meeting after community members – and a couple of council members – had their services turned off due to billing issues in September.

Largent and Schneck both had their service disconnected. Largent said he regularly forgets to pay his water bill and needs to be reconnected, but his issue with the city’s procedures boiled down to a delay in reconnection.

“I understand that we have to turn people’s water off. The problem I have – the city has no way to turn people’s water back on until the next day,” Largent said. “I was cut off at 4:15 p.m., and if I had come up here and paid right then, my water would not have turned back on until 4 or 5 p.m. the next day.

“Twenty-four hours for someone to go without water is a long time when you have kids. I have a major problems with us turning off someone’s water and not being able to turn it back on. That’s huge.”

Largent said several Paradise citizens voiced the same concerns, including three who were at the October meeting. He said the problem is affecting several in the community, and that is why he pushed for changes.

“I wasn’t responding for myself,” he said. “It wasn’t a personal thing. Whenever people have to wait 24 hours to have services turned back on, it’s ridiculous.”

According to city records, disconnections have been an ongoing issue for several of the water department’s about 200 customers.

In a 10-month period from January to October 2014, the water department cut services to an average of about six customers – 3 percent of its customers – each month. About 4.5 percent of the city’s water customers have had services terminated more than once in that 10-month period, and 1 percent have had water shut off three times in 10 months.

The department cut no services to any customers in January or September. The absence of disconnections in September was directly related to the fact that billing materials were not delivered on time in August.

Then came October.

In the first week of October, water service was shut off to 18 customers in one day. For 16, it was restored the same day; another customer got water turned back on the following week. Of the 18 cutoffs in October, 17 were due to lack of payment. That represented 9 percent of the department’s total customers.


Before changing the disconnect procedure, city staff explored what nearby communities’ practices are.


The city charges a 10 percent late fee for delinquent bills. The late fee is waived if the due date occurs on a weekend the bill is paid. Disconnection notices are mailed the following Monday and disconnections are completed during the last week of the month, but not on Friday.

It costs $35, plus the outstanding bill amount, to reconnect services. If the customer has made all payments by 5 p.m., water is turned on that day. If not, water is turned on the following day.


A 5 percent late fee is charged and added to the delinquent bills the day after the due date. Disconnection date varies, depending on when the initial bills are mailed. Billing is done near the first of each month. A disconnection notice is mailed, and customers have until 6 p.m. on the day of disconnection to pay before services are interrupted.

Reconnection costs $15, which is added to the outstanding bill. If payment is received by 6 p.m., the water is turned back on immediately. If it comes in after 6 p.m., services are restored the next day.


A 10 percent late fee is assessed the day following the bill’s due date. If no payment – or payment arrangement with partial payment – has been rendered after 60 days, services are disconnected on the 61st day without further notice.

A $50 reconnection fee is charged and must be paid along with the original bill before services are returned. If all payments are made before 3 p.m., services are restored that day. If not, services are turned on the following day.


Bills are past due after the 15th of the month and a 10 percent late fee is assessed beginning the next day. Customers are allowed to be past due for two months before the disconnection process begins. Disconnected customers are charged a $50 fee.

Customers can be charged an additional $100 fee to reconnect water services, but this is not being currently enforced, according to staff reports.

Prior to the Monday night meeting, Paradise mailed out water bills on the first of each month, and payment was required by the 15th. After the 15th, a $5 late fee was charged and payment was then required by the end of the month or services were shut off.

Disconnection procedures are carried out after the first of the month. If payment was made, water could then be turned back on the following day after 3 p.m.

The reason for the 24-hour delay is that the city does not employ water service personnel, but only has a contract water district employee who serves Paradise 16 hours a month. If that contractor works more than 16 hours or after 4 p.m., the city is billed $52 per hour for a minimum of two hours.

The city does have the ability to charge a $60 reconnect fee, but has chosen to waive that fee in most instances.

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Paradise ISD board remains the same

The Paradise ISD school board canvassed votes Monday from the Nov. election and confirmed all incumbents retained their places.

The election for Place 3 was the closest race in the county with Kevin Howerton edging Vann Wakefield by only a handful of votes.

Carrie Preather defeated Jim Taylor for Place 4, and Rusty Ford was unopposed for Place 5.

The board opted to not change place arrangement. They will meet next on Dec. 15.

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Paradise City Council to interview prospective members

The Paradise City Council is seeking a fifth member to replace Bill Schneck.

Schneck opted not to seek reelection, and no one stepped forward to seek the seat, leaving the council a person short.

The procedure is to appoint a person from the community. Paradise has now instituted an interview process at the urging of Terre Ward.

“I think we should have a chance to know who will be on the council,” Ward said. “Granted, I know I was appointed and I respect that, but I think if vacancies are filled we should be able to ask some questions. ‘Why do you actually want to do this?’ ‘Why are you interested?’ We should and the citizens should have the opportunity to hear why.”

Council members Brad Largent and Bob Gayan agreed.

Anyone interested in the office should be present at the Dec. 15 meeting and ready to answer questions.

Some sample questions include:

  • What are some of your previous volunteer experiences and leadership roles?
  • What appeals to you about board service as a volunteer activity?
  • What skills, resources, and expertise do you have to offer and are willing to use on behalf of this organization?
  • Do you have any worries about joining?
  • What role do you see yourself playing on the board?
  • What professional or personal constraints on your time or service might you anticipate?
  • Are there any areas where you might see a conflict of interest?
  • Is there a special project or goal you would like to see the city work toward?


The rest of the council’s agenda include:

  • naming Ward as the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem
  • considering changing the meeting date back Thursday. The council decided to keep it on Mondays
  • approving by a 2-1 margin a contract renewal for road repair with Wise County, with Largent voting against.

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Being Bossy

Being Bossy

Children’s book author Janet Stevens tells a story with Paradise Elementary School student Isabel Wood acting as one of the characters. Stevens and her sister, Susan Stevens Crummel, visited with students Monday at the Paradise Elementary and Intermediate schools. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Lots of Fun

LOTS OF FUN – Cash McCann, Redik Walton and Miles Godwin laugh at the stories and photos of animals in the books by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Big Smiles

BIG SMILES – Emma Karg has a grin on her face while children’s book author Janet Stevens tells a story about a dog, a tennis ball and a prairie dog. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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Softball: Taylor inks with WTAMU

Reagan Taylor pitched the Paradise Lady Panthers into the playoffs last spring while also being one of her team’s leading hitters.

Joining the Heard

JOINING THE HERD – Reagan Taylor signs with West Texas A&M University to play softball. Pictured are (back, from left) Mark Mathis, Kevin Pope, Karin Essig, Susie Burt, Scott Broussard, (front, from left) Randa Taylor Reagan Taylor and Suzanne Taylor. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Now, before her final season with the Lady Panthers, the Paradise senior has solidified her post-high school plans. Taylor signed a letter of intent with West Texas A&M University Wednesday to play softball.

“I fell in love with the campus, the school, the team and the girls,” Taylor said. “I was looking at two other schools, but WT was the No. 1 choice.

“Since I was a little girl, I wanted to do this. Now that’s it’s here, it feels amazing.”

Taylor went 11-9 with a 3.47 ERA for the Lady Panthers last year as a junior, earning Wise County Pitcher of the Year. In a one-game tiebreaker against Peaster, Taylor allowed a run on just two hits in six innings.

At the plate, she batted .536 with 31 RBIs and two homers. As a sophomore, she hit .481 with 26 RBIs, earning a first-team 9-2A selection.

“She’s a good pitcher and really can play any position,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “She hits well. She’s also a great kid. Coaches will enjoy being around her.”

Taylor is expected to pitch and play first base at WTAMU.

“I have to keep working hard and keep practicing,” Taylor said.

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Local riders win rookie awards

Paradise’s Ty Meals won the rookie cowboy honor, and Alvord’s Mikayla Cox was the top rookie cowgirl at the North Texas High School Rodeo Association’s event last week.

Meals and partner Chase Gasperson from Decatur completed their run in team roping in 6.613 seconds for second place. Meals finished seventh in ribbon roping in 15.332.

Cox took sixth in goat tying in 11.356, sixth in barrels in 16.355 and ninth in walk-up goat tying in 9.332.

Decatur’s Chase Wilson garnered second in chute dogging with a run of 2.453. Nicolas Martinez was seventh in 2.913.

Travis Rhoades scored a 50 in bull riding for second place.

Carolyn Spear brought home fourth in steer undecorating with a run of 3.034.

Alvord’s Tanner Baker made a run of 29.996 for sixth in calf roping.

Northwest’s Alexis Barfield won poles with a time of 20.989.

Cole Gerrek finished third in chute dogging in 2.569 and Preston Clark fourth in 2.848.

Trinton Barfield took second in steer wrestling with a time of 10.854.

Eliesha Hobbs was fifth in walk-up goat tying in 8.510.

Paradise’s Paitane Brown finished ninth in 20.732.

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Basketball: Kerr signs with Midwestern

Courtney Kerr’s defensive play on the perimeter and the back court made her a first-team 9-2A selection and second-team All-Wise County pick in 2013-14.

Ready to Play

READY TO PLAY – Paradise Lady Panther Courtney Kerr has signed with Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls to play basketball. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

It’s now sending her to college. Kerr signed a letter of intent Wednesday with Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

“It’s crazy. I can’t believe it,” Kerr said. “It’s a blessing to sign and to get the chance to go play after high school.

“Midwestern is a great fit. The team and staff are a perfect fit. It’s also pretty close to home,” she said.

As a guard for the Lady Panthers, Kerr averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. But she was depended on to hound opposing guards, picking up 3.8 steals per contest.

“I love defense. My favorite thing is making [opponents] irritated,” Kerr said.

Paradise coach Kevin Pope praised Kerr and her work ethic.

“She’s a great example of what hard work will do for you,” Pope said. “From what I understand, she wasn’t a great junior high player. But she made herself a great player with her work ethic.

“She’s also a great teammate. She says encouraging things not only to her varsity teammates, but also to the JV. She’s very positive.”

While she’s a standout on the defensive end, Pope said the guard has improved her shooting and ball handling.

Starting her senior year, Kerr said she is continuing to work and grow her game to prepare for the next level.

“I want to improve on making decisions faster and thinking on my feet more,” Kerr said.

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Baseball: Meadows is officially a Horned Frog – Meadows signs letter with TCU

After his sophomore season two years ago, Dillon Meadows announced his plans for after high school.

Its Official

IT’S OFFICIAL – Paradise’s Dillon Meadows will play baseball for Texas Christian University after he graduates. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Wednesday, the Paradise senior pitcher made good on his word, signing a letter of intent to play for the TCU Horned Frogs.

“I’m glad it’s on paper, and I’m a Horned Frog,” Meadows said.

“This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. TCU is my dream school. I never wanted to go anywhere else.”

The two-time All-Wise County MVP received an offer from TCU after a dominating sophomore year in which he went 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Last year, he lowered his ERA to 1.79, going 6-3 and striking out 153.

“I’m going to pitch and will work to be successful,” Meadows said. “Nothing is going to get in the way of that.

“It’s definitely a big jump to facing hitters in the Big 12. It’s the toughest conference in baseball.”

Meadows’ high school coach Mike Fehler believes he has the tools to compete at TCU.

“He’s worked hard and dreamed of playing for TCU. He’s mentally prepared,” Fehler said. “As he’s gotten older, he’s matured and learned that you can’t just throw hard and be successful.”

Meadows will be joining a program that went to the College World Series last year for the second time since 2010.

“My main goal is to make it back to Omaha,” Meadows said.

Meadows is coming off Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. He said he started feeling pain in his arm while attending the Area Code Games tryouts.

“It felt like a lightning bolt in my arm,” he said. “A week after, I had surgery.

“TCU was all for the surgery,” he said. “They said we’re here for you and I still had my scholarship.”

Meadows said the ligament wasn’t torn in his elbow but had come off the bone. Less than five months later, he has already started a throwing program.

“There’s been no pain or setbacks,” Meadows said. “I will be able to DH and play first base. I could be able to pitch in the middle of district with a strict pitch limit.”

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Kristen Marie Hall

Galen and Brandy Hall of Paradise announce the birth of a daughter, Kristen Marie, on Nov. 6, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long.

She has three brothers: John, 16; Kaleb, 15; and Jalen, 1; and one sister: Kayli, 18.

Grandparents are Grady and Evelyn Hall of Comanche, Joy Slaven of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Jerry Wait of Glen Rose.

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Colton Ray Hodgkins

Cassidy and Cade Hodgkins of Paradise announce the birth of a son, Colton Ray, on Nov. 4, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce and was 20 inches long.

Grandparents are Charlie and Sherry Dane of Decatur and Don and Kathi Hodgkins of Bridgeport.

Great-grandparents are Wayne and Nelda Spence, Ann Dane, Betty Tackel and Dale and Evelyn Hodgkins.

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Paradise FFA students tackle tough issues

Is oil and gas drilling a golden opportunity or an environmental disaster?

It’s a hot-button topic that can flare tempers on both sides – and the Paradise FFA’s new ag issues team is tackling it head on.

Oil Boom or Bust

OIL BOOM OR BUST? – The newly formed Paradise FFA ag issues team speaks to the Decatur Lions Club Nov. 5 about the pros and cons of oil and gas drilling and fracking in relation to agricultural industries. The team discusses the issues and presents research but does not take a side. They will compete at district Monday against 23 other teams. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Led by vocational agriculture teacher Steven Bradshaw, Paradise FFA has put together a team that will go to district competition Nov. 17 in Bridgeport. The PISD students will face 23 other teams and must walk away in first or second to continue to area.

From there they must again win one of the top two spots to go to state competition.

PRESENTING FACTS – Marc Aldape (left) and Kaitlyn Gibson explain what fracking is and some of the effects it has on the environment and the economy. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

At a recent Decatur Lions Club meeting, Bradshaw explained that while ag issues isn’t new, this is the first year Paradise will participate.

“We have started a young team. It’s mostly freshmen and eighth graders, with one junior,” Bradshaw said.

The team includes Mariah McKinley, 15; Ray Edwards, 13; Marc Aldape, 13; Courtney Cathey, 14; and Kaitlyn Gibson, 17. Gibson also acts as the Paradise FFA chapter’s reporter.

Bradshaw said in this competition, the team picks an issue affecting agriculture, explains it and debates the pros and cons.

Their program, titled “Fracking: Black Gold, or Black Plague for Agriculture” mixed a bit of showmanship with some lines appropriated from the old TV show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Each team member picked certain aspects related to gas and oil drilling to addresses – the side effects of fracking, economic benefits and environmental effects on agricultural properties as well as livestock.

“We don’t take a side. We are not here to tell you this is right or that is wrong. We are just addressing the issue and talking about possible solutions,” Bradshaw said. “Some of these issues can touch on people’s feelings and emotions.”

The team has to speak to at least three groups other than their chapter to qualify for competition. So far, the team has spoken to the Paradise school board, the Paradise Chamber of Commerce and the Decatur Lions Club.

“That’s the unique thing about this contest,” Bradshaw said. “You can’t just speak to your chapter. That doesn’t count. Judges assess points the further they advance on how many speaking engagements they do. We are young and our No. 1 goal is to advance out of district to area competition – and maybe we’ll sneak into state contest.”

At their speaking engagements the team encourages their audience to ask questions, even though the students don’t always have an answer.

“They will get stumped because they are still researching the issues and they are learning as they go,” Bradshaw said.

The questions, Bradshaw said, help the students think about what judges might ask them in competition.

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Cross Country: Lady Panthers bring home fourth in 3A

The Paradise Lady Panthers’ top five runners finished within 10 places of each other Saturday in the Class 3A final.

But it was not quite enough to get the Lady Panthers on the medal stand.

On the Climb

ON THE CLIMB – Paradise’s April Coursey climbs one of the final two hills Saturday in the Class 3A final. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Paradise finished fourth with 138 points against the tough field. Eustace won the division for a second straight year with 75 points. East Bernard took second with 96. Holliday, who beat Paradise for the District 9-3A and Region II title, was third with 111.

“It was a great race and everyone competed well,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They were all right there.”

It was Paradise’s third straight trip to the state meet. The Lady Panthers finished fifth in 2013.

“They had a great year. They worked hard to get back here and did the best they could,” Essig said.

TOTALLY SPENT – Paradise’s Hannah Beth Pearson gets help from worker at the finish line after the 3A final. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

On a muggy morning, running against a fast field and on the tough Old Settlers Park course, the Lady Panthers held spots in the middle of the pack throughout the race.

Holliday freshman Cryslan Tucker broke 12 minutes on the 3,200-meter course, finishing in 11:55.84 to capture the 3A title. She sprinted away from East Bernard freshman Jessica Rabius in the final 100 meters to win by nearly four seconds.

Paradise senior Kaylee McConnell made a charge up the final hill to move up to 48th place and finish in 13:07.52 as her team’s lead runner.

“On the little short steep hills, I was trying to pass people,” McConnell said. “The adrenaline went with us and made us compete.”

Junior Aliyah Read took 54th in 13:12.62.

“We ran pretty good,” Read said. “We’re very thankful to get the opportunity to do this. We couldn’t do this without our whole town.”

Freshman Hannah Beth Pearson finished 56th in 13:12.62, laboring up the final hill. Taylor Richards and April Coursey crossed the finish line on Pearson’s heels in 57th and 58th place in 13:12.75 as the team’s fourth and fifth runners.

“It felt fast, like we were sprinting the whole time,” Richards said.

Paradise’s Emily Corbin finished 72nd in 13:26, and Emily Brinson 88th in 13:38.53.

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Football: Jackrabbits blank Panthers

The Paradise Panthers (1-9, 0-5) ended district play in a 34-0 loss against the Bowie Jackrabbits (2-9, 1-4).

Bowie built a large lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Jackrabbits sprang across the paint three times for 20 points. No scores in second quarter by either side ended the half 20-0.

A Jackrabbit touchdown in the third and fourth quarters rounded out the night and a disappointing season for the Panthers.

This is the third year in a row Paradise has ended its season with only one win.

The Panthers’ Cash Preather led the team in passing with four completions of nine attempts for 46 yards. Nick Loney led Paradise on the ground with seven carries for 50 yards.


Bowie … 20 … 0 … 7 … … 7 – 34
Paradise … 0 … 0 … 0 … … 0 – 0


Bowie – 8:55, Chase Hall 3 pass from Trace Hardee; Sutton kick.

Bowie – 5:57, Trace Hardee 10 run ;pass failed.

Bowie – 2:10, Jesse Vaughn 51 pass Hardee; Sutton kick.


5:24, Brandon Hutto 3 run; Sutton kick


7:27 – Kevin Stallcup 1 run; Henderson kick.


First Downs … 25 … 7
Rush Att-Yards … 52-188 … 25-113
Passing Yards … 177 … 46
Total Yards … 365 … 307
Comp-Att-Int … 12-20-1 … 4-9-1
Punts … 2-31 … 16-36
Fumbles … 2-0 … 4-4
Penalties … 7-70 … 4-30


Rushing: Paradise – Loney 7-50; Bowie – Gary Mosley 11-50.

Passing: Paradise – Cash Preather 4-9-46-1, Bowie – Hardee 12-20-177

Receiving: Paradise – Austin Hogan 1-16; Bowie – Jesse Vaughn 3-73

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Volleyball: Callisburg sweeps Paradise

The Paradise Lady Panthers couldn’t catch the breaks they needed Tuesday to take down the Callisburg Lady Cats.

Paradise fell in three games 25-18, 25-22, 25-13 in the Class 3A Region II bi-district match at Krum’s Bennie Enis Gym.

The Lady Panthers fell behind in all three sets and couldn’t catch up.

Coming Up Short

COMING UP SHORT – Paradise’s Bailee Miller and Johnna Headley try to block a shot during the Lady Panthers’ loss to Callisburg. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

“We let our mistakes and frustrations get to us,” said Paradise senior outside hitter Jett Preather. “We were told where to go and how to play. We just had people break down.”

The Lady Panthers were whistled for several double hits in the match, keeping them from capitalizing on opportunities and giving Callisburg momentum.

“Every time we set up we were called for a double hit,” said Paradise coach Susie Burt. “We were called for nine in the first game. We were trying to adjust to that all night.”

Around the hitting errors, Preather put down 14 kills to lead the Lady Panthers.

“Jett had a tremendous match,” Burt said.

Shelby Bradshaw and Reagan Taylor recorded four kills each. Taylor also had three blocks.

After the rough opening game, Paradise battled Callisburg within three in the second. Callisburg then dominated the third set, jumping out to a 20-7 lead on an ace by Kelsey Williams. Callisburg’s BreAnna Voglesong put the Lady Cats at match point.

A Paradise service error ended the match and the season for the Lady Panthers.

“It was a memorable season. It’s the last time I’ll ever play volleyball,” Preather said.

Preather was one of five Paradise seniors who played their final match.

“They will be very hard to replace,” Burt said. “They are a tremendous group that worked hard and brought a lot of leadership.”

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Howerton holds off Wakefield in Paradise ISD polling

Paradise ISD fielded the closest race in Wise County Tuesday, as Kevin Howerton narrowly defeated challenger Vann Wakefield, 491 votes to 486, to secure Place 3 on the school board.

With the rest of the votes tallied, incumbents Carrie Preather and Rusty Ford retained board seats 4 and 5.

Ford was not challenged for Place 5, but said he was watching the Place 3 and Place 4 races closely. Having served with Howerton and Preather for six years, he feels they both bring a good mix of ideas and experience and was happy to see them continue their service.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Ford said. “We’ve a got a good group and I feel comfortable about the direction we’re headed. The race was important to me, because I’ve got kids going to that school.

“I knew [the Place 3 race] was going to be a close race, but both of those guys would do a great job.”

Preather’s opponent for Place 4, Jim Taylor, said he has a year to contemplate whether to run again. Taylor served on the PISD board a couple of decades ago and said he and other members were responsible for many of the land purchases and buildings PISD enjoys today.

He thanked his supporters and said he believes planning for the future is a key board responsibility.

The Paradise school board will canvass this year’s election results Monday, Nov. 17.

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3 local residents charged in bank robberies

A Paradise couple arrested in September for a bank robbery in Arkansas has now been charged with two robberies of the same bank in Round Rock.

Rodney Hurdsman, 45, and his wife, Stephanie Hurdsman, 39, have been charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the robberies of the Regions Bank on July 15 and Sept. 25, according to a news release from the Round Rock Police Department. The warrants were filed last week by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force comprised of Round Rock and Austin Police detectives.

A third Paradise resident, Kenneth Lee Ulledahl, 22, was also charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the July 15 robbery but not the Sept. 25 robbery.

“The violent takeover robbery consisted of two males rushing into the bank brandishing handguns, while demanding money,” the news release stated about the July 15 robbery.

Ulledahl and the Hurdsmans all have the same address in the 100 block of County Road 3382 near Paradise, according to Wise County Jail records.

The Hurdsmans were arrested at the Eldorado Casino in Shreveport, La., Sept. 29 and charged with aggravated robbery of the Malvern National Bank in Benton, Ark., on June 16. A third suspect, Stephanie’s sister, Oneida Saylor, 35, was arrested the following week and charged with aggravated robbery of the Arkansas bank.

Round Rock Police worked with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, FBI Little Rock, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Benton Police Department to identify and charge the suspects in the robberies.

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Cross Country: Lady Panthers bring home silver

In near-perfect conditions Saturday, the Paradise Lady Panthers blazed through the Lynn Creek Park course and seized their third straight berth in the state meet.

Fast Start

FAST START – Paradise runners take off from the starting line Saturday in the Class 3A Region II race. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

With their five lead runners finishing in the top 26, the Lady Panthers finished runner-up to Holliday in the Class 3A race at the Region II meet in Grand Prairie.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “The kids all year have been fighting and they ran their best times here.”

Coming Through

COMING THROUGH – Paradise coach Karin Essig hugs Aliyah Read after she recorded her best time of the year Saturday at Lynn Creek Park. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

Paradise finished with 61 points. Holliday, behind race champion Cryslan Tucker, won the region title with 54.

Holliday beat Paradise by 16 points at the 9-3A meet last month.

FIGHTING UPHILL – Paradise’s Taylor Richards charges up a hill in the final 800 meters of Saturday’s Class 3A Region II race at Lynn Creek Park. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

“We’ve got it down to six points,” Essig said. “We’re closing the gap every week.”

Freshman Hannah Beth Pearson paced the Lady Panthers, finishing fifth in 12:05.42. Pearson said she tried to stay with the leaders and follow the quick pace set by Tucker.

“The Holliday girl kept it really fast,” Pearson said. “It was hard, and I was all nervous. I just wanted to run hard and my best for the team.”

Aliyah Read, who battled injuries early in the season, finished with her best time of the season, 12:24, for 15th.

“It was better than I’ve run this year,” Read said. “I was just trying to pass Holliday girls.”

Essig praised Read’s effort.

“She never stopped working,” the Paradise coach said. “She was injured early and kept working and really came through today. I’m proud of her.”

Read finished a spot ahead of teammate and fellow junior Taylor Richards in 16th in 12:26.3.

“I’m excited. I didn’t get to experience [state] my freshman year,” Richards said. “I made it as a sophomore. Hopefully, we do even better at state.”

Kaylee McConnell took 19th in 12:28.8, knocking six seconds off her district time.

“We all ran so much better. We stayed in a pack and ran our hearts out,” the senior said. “All week in practice, we worked on staying in a pack, and today we proved we could do it.”

Emily Brinson was the fifth runner of the pack, finishing 26th in 12:41.53.

Emily Corbin ran 12:44 for 29th, and April Coursey was 41st at 13 minutes.

Paradise will hit the Old Settlers Park course in Round Rock Saturday for the 3A title race at 9:50 a.m.

“We hope to run our best at the last one,” Essig said.

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Football: Brock walks over Panthers, 49-14

Victory continues to elude the Paradise Panthers. Brock won 49-14 in three quarters of play Friday night.

Brock drew first blood in the opening quarter with two touchdowns. The Panthers’ Cash Preather was able to run across the paint in the final couple of minutes to get Paradise on the board.

Brock dominance would prove overwhelming as they ran up the score with 14 unanswered points in the second to end the half 28-7.

The Panthers second and final touchdown came in the third with eight minutes on the clock. Preather, again was able to put up some numbers, doubling Paradise’s score to 14.

The two teams battled out the fourth without further touchdowns.

Aside from leading the Panthers’ scoring, Preather also led Paradise’s passing, receiving and rushing for the night. Preather rushed for 129 yards, caught a pass for 21 yards and passed the ball three times for 29 yards.

For their final football outing, Paradise will face the Bowie Jackrabbits in Bowie Friday, Nov. 7.


Paradise … 7 … 0 … 7 … 0 … – … 14
Brock … 14 … 14 … 21 … 0 … – … 49


Brock – 8:03, Leddy French 2 run; kick blocked

Brock – 3:54, Leddy French 5 run; run good

Paradise – 1:57, Cash Preather 28 run; Powers kick good


Brock – 4:02, Seth Boleman 37 run; Marr kick good

Brock – 2:08, Leddy French 41 pass from Seth Boleman; Marr kick good


Brock – 9:06, Micah Thorton 37 pass from Boleman; Marr kick good

Paradise – 8:02, Cash Preather 79 run; Powers kick good

Brock – 5:36, Tyler Gray 3 run; Marr kick good

Brock – 2:13, Micah Thorton 42 pass; Boleman Marr kick good


First Downs … 17 … 9
Rushes-Yards … 43-258 … 33-163
Passing Yards … 154 … 50
Total Yards … 412 … 213
Comp-Att-Int … 5-11-0 … 4-11-1
Punts-Average … 2-41 … 7-24
Fumbles-Lost … 1-0 … 0-0
Penalties-Yards … 9-65 … 9-50


Rushing: Paradise – Cash Preather 2-129 yards; Brock – Leddy French 22-188 yards.

Passing: Paradise – Cash Preather 3-8-29 yards; Brock – Seth Boleman 5-9-0 154 yards

Receiving: Paradise – Cash Preather 1-21 yards; Brock – Micah Thorton 3-90 yards

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