Final post filled

The city of Rhome has hired a public works director – the last position to be filled after a mass exodus of department heads two weeks ago.

Sam Dorsett, public works director in Boyd, was hired for the same job in Rhome and will start Thursday.

The decision was confirmed Tuesday by Rhome city secretary Ramah Burns, who said Dorsett had previously worked for the city 10 or 11 years ago.

Former Public Works Director Preston Gilliam resigned June 23, along with Police Chief James Rose. Municipal court clerk Sherry Taylor retired the week of June 16-20.

The only department head who did not leave was Burns, who is married to Mayor Louis Godfrey.

Within days of Taylor’s retirement, Godfrey had hired Sherrie Dast to replace her. Dast, who had previously worked as a court administrator, had filled in for Taylor on occasion.

Godfrey also moved quickly to replace Rose, hiring former Rhome city councilman Brandon Davis the day after the chief resigned.

Rose has declined to comment on his resignation, but Gilliam said the way things were handled with the chief – coupled with a growing uneasiness about how city business was being conducted – led to his resignation. He declined to elaborate but said he was not forced to resign.

Rumors have swirled that Rose was forced to resign by Godfrey, but the mayor has denied those allegations. He told the Messenger June 24 that no one was forced to resign or retire, although he was given the authority just the week before to hire and fire department heads independent of the city council.

Gilliam said his decision was made after much thought and consideration.

“When I lost the desire and felt like I wasn’t working for the citizens of Rhome and just watching personal agendas fly instead of taking care of city business, I just washed my hands of it,” he told the Messenger June 26.

Gilliam was contacted for a June 25 story, “City of Rhome officials jump ship,” but he did not respond by press time, saying later in the week that his city phone had been shut off and he never got the message.

Gilliam, who had been with the city eight years, offered in his resigation letter to work six more months with his last day being Jan. 9, 2015. In the meantime, he would help the council with the budget for his department and help them find a replacement.

In the June 23 letter, which he brought to the Messenger June 27, he said, “I have taken this decision after thorough deliberation and assessment, and I believe it’s in my best interest to move on.” He ended it with, “This decision is not negotiable!”

Gilliam also provided the Messenger with a copy of Godfrey’s response, which is also dated June 23.

It reads: “I spoke with the council concerning your resignation. Neither the council or myself know why you’re wishing to resign, but you have indicated quite clearly that you do not wish to talk or negotiate why you’re leaving.”

Godfrey went on to say that he was sorry to hear Gilliam was leaving, but he and the council felt it was best for him to resign immediately instead of waiting until January.

In the letter he says Gilliam will be on vacation until June 27 because he had already been paid for that week, and on the 27th he was to turn in his keys, cell phone and vehicle.

“You will also pick up your check for any monies owed to you by the city and leave,” the letter says. “Friday is your last day here. This too is not negotiable.”

Gilliam said he felt like Godfrey already had a replacement lined up for his position, and “what happened would have happened anyway … just a little farther down the road.”

“I put the gun to my foot,” Gilliam said in reference to his resignation letter, “and Louis pulled the trigger. And I’m fine with that.”

—–

Rhome City Council’s next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 105 E. 1st St.

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Families benefit from farmer’s venture

L’cajn Farm sits off Farm Road 407 near Rhome. The seven acres of tall, brightly blooming crops are distinctly different from nearby brown fields, already succumbing to Wise County’s summer heat.

Another difference is L’cajn’s clientele. Volunteers work more than 16 hours a week to help owner Cecil Woods and his family maintain the farm.

HARVEST TIME – Cecil Woods holds a basket of fruit and vegetables grown for subscribers to his farm. Woods has been selling shares of his produce since 2011. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

However, the most significant difference may be that Woods’ farm is part of a community-supported agriculture system. These volunteers, and other community members, subscribe to the farm’s crops, and for a fee, they reap a portion of whatever produce is grown.

“They prepay for a share of the harvest,” Woods said. “They take a risk and gamble with me. This season 36 out of the 42 crops I planted have been successful. People are happy.”

Woods, who moved to Wise County in 2011, said he enjoys this type of farming more than growing his crops to sell on grocery store shelves.

“I like this better than I like commercial farming,” Woods said. “I used to deal with businesses. Now I deal with families.”

The Louisiana native said he originally encountered unfavorable growing conditions.

“From what I understand, 100 years ago, this region was used solely for growing cotton,” Woods said. “In doing that, the farmers helped cause the Dust Bowl. They planted until the soil was no good and then just moved on.”

A lack of nutrients in the dirt made sustainable growth nearly impossible. Woods infused his irrigation system with microbial organisms, a procedure popular in Europe to remedy weak soil.

“Now you can go out there and pick up the dirt, and it smells like dirt,” Woods said. “Before, it didn’t have a smell.”

Each week, parents bring their children out to work in the now-healthy landscape.

Woods said he enjoys seeing the young farmers learn to appreciate where their food is grown and the work it takes to put it on the table.

“I tell everyone I have an open-door policy. They can come out here any time they want,” he said. “Folks will bring their kids out to look around and get the experience. It’s like having one big family.”

It’s a family that grows a little closer each time a new round of crops is picked. The subscribers have an online forum to swap recipes and discuss gardening techniques.

“They’re trying stuff they wouldn’t normally buy,” Woods said. “If they go into a grocery store, they might not buy a certain green because they don’t know how to cook it. Now they have to do something with it.”

Unclaimed food is donated to a local food bank, Woods said.

With the popularity of his farm growing each season, Woods said he’s had to cap the number of shares at 100 and has considered dropping it to 75.

Working hard and serving the community are just a way of life for the farmer.

“It’s not a lot of land, but it is for one person,” he said. “I’m not getting rich. It’s a passion.”

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Rhome City Council to appoint 2 to P&Z

The Rhome city council will restructure its planning and zoning commission in more ways than one.

In a public hearing Thursday, council members will discuss changes to the requirements to serve on the planning and zoning commission.

After acting in accordance with the discussion generated, the council will then fill two vacancies on the commission.

Also at its meeting, the council will consider:

  • a donation plaque for the Veterans Park;
  • the contract on electrical work at Family Park;
  • the 2013 annual drinking water quality report in a public hearing;
  • updating fire department ordinance; and
  • setting a budget workshop.

The council will recess into closed session to discuss personnel, real property and potential litigation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Officials may consider and act on the matters in open session.

In the consent agenda, officials will review the June 16 meeting minutes and the check registers for June 10 through July 7 and hear departmental reports from police, fire, public works and administration.

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City of Rhome officials jump ship

The city of Rhome lost almost every department head in just one week’s time.

Police Chief James Rose and Public Works Director Preston Gilliam resigned Monday, and Sherry Taylor, municipal court clerk, retired last week.

Only city secretary Ramah Burns is left.

Mayor Louis Godfrey confirmed the exodus Tuesday morning and said the city had already hired replacements for Rose and Taylor.

According to Godfrey, Brandon Davis was hired Tuesday as interim police chief of the Rhome department.

The mayor said Davis had been an officer “for a while.”

“He’s kept up his certification through the years,” he said. “He’s about to retire from the military. He’s a captain. He’s former military police. He was a police officer in another city.

“As soon as we knew (Rose) was resigning, we talked to (Davis).”

Rose declined to comment on his resignation. He’s been chief of police for six years.

Godfrey said Taylor retired to care for her husband, who is ill. Her replacement will be Sherrie Dast of River Oaks. Dast, who has previously worked as a court administrator, has filled in for Taylor on occasion.

Godfrey said they have no leads yet on a replacement for Gilliam. The former public works director did not return a call by press time Tuesday.

Council member JoAnn Wilson said the city will pull through the shuffling of city officials.

“We’ve got a good city, and we’ll survive all this,” she said. “The gentleman that is interim police chief has taken over, and we won’t miss a beat.

“We have a lady coming on board [the new municipal court clerk] that’s highly trained, and she’s already helping us out on a contract basis,” she said. “I think we’ll land on our feet.”

At a June 16 meeting, city council members approved amending an ordinance designating officers of the city. Godfrey said over the years many positions had been added to the ordinance, but last week’s action reduced it to the mayor, city secretary, city attorney and city administrator, if there was one.

The ordinance was also amended to give Godfrey the authority to hire and fire department heads without the council’s approval.

Since that time, three of the four have left, although Godfrey said no one was asked to resign or retire.

“It was like this some time back, and even Mark Lorance had that power years ago when he was here,” Godfrey said. “Some time back it was removed. They just put it back in the hands of the mayor.”

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William E. Wheeler

William E. (Bill) Wheeler

William E. (Bill) Wheeler, 83, of Rhome, died Saturday, June 21, 2014 at Franklin Parish Health Center in Winnsboro, La. after a short illness.

Services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 25 at Coker Hawkins Funeral Home Chapel in Decatur, officiated by brother-in-law Boatner Holder and sister-in-law Claire Harrison, stepdaughters Julianne Fendley and Janet Cowart, and nephew Larry Burke.

Interment will follow at Aurora Cemetery. David Long, Bailey Burke, Craig Utley, Kelly Adams, Scott Childress, Eddie Fendley, Bruce Fendley and Jeff Cowart will serve as pallbearers, while Fred Schultz, Stephen Long and Mark Burke will be honorary pallbearers.

Friends and family may call at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Bill was born Jan. 4, 1931. He was a retired truck driver and a member of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Decatur. He was a gentle person, loved by all who knew him.

At 6’2″ he was a basketball player in high school and at Decatur Baptist College, where he received an Associate Degree. Bill was a hard-working man who worked for Carnation Milk Company and later as a long-haul truck driver.

Survivors include his wife of 10 years, Bobbie Wheeler; daughter Leslie Elaine Marr and husband, Steve; stepdaughters Janet Cowart and husband, Jeff, Julianne Fendley and husband, Bruce; grandson Scott Childress and wife, Chris. He is also survived by two great-granddaughters, two step-granddaughters, two step-grandsons and four great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law Doris Dickey and Jewel Burke; nephews Baily Burke, Mark Burke, Larry Burke and Craig Utley.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years, Geneva Grace Utley Wheeler; parents William E. Wheeler and Amelia Williams Wheeler and son Gary Wheeler.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association at donate.heart.org or to Gideons International, Franklin Parish, Gideon Camp c/o Boatner Holder, 303 2nd Street, Winnsboro, LA 71295 or to Gideons International, www.gideons.org.

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Lost load leads to wreck

Lost load leads to wreck

Dust billowing from a lost load of gravel on U.S. 81/287 at the south county line Thursday afternoon caused a two-vehicle accident, injuring an Oklahoma woman.

Teresa Humphrey, 37, was traveling southbound on 287 south of Rhome about 3 p.m. in a small sports utility vehicle when she drove into a thick cloud of dust. It was rising from gravel dropped in the highway and severely reduced visibility.

Trecherous Conditions

TREACHEROUS CONDITIONS – Vehicles drive cautiously along U.S. 81/287 near the south Wise County line Thursday after a load of gravel was dropped in the middle of the highway. Dust billowing from the gravel, which caused traffic to backup in the northbound lanes. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Department of Public Safety Trooper William Wallace said Humphrey panicked and stopped on the center line of the roadway. He said she was then hit from behind by an 18-wheeler driven by Ruben Guerra, 49, of Baytown.

“I saw the cloud going up and started downshifting,” Guerra said. “I just held on and hit the brakes as hard as I could.”

Guerra, who drives for Strike, said he was traveling in the lefthand lane, and Humphrey was straddling the center line. He said another vehicle had pulled over on the left side of the road, so he was unable to swerve that direction, and there was also a vehicle in the lane to his right.

Injury Accident

INJURY ACCIDENT – Teresa Humphrey’s sports utility vehicle was rear-ended Thursday afternoon on U.S. 81/287 south of Rhome when a dust cloud reduced her visibility, causing her to stop in the middle of the highway. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The impact pushed Humphrey’s vehicle across the center median and the northbound lanes. It came to rest just off the shoulder on the northbound side.

Guerra was uninjured, but Humphrey was transported via ground ambulance by Wise County medics to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Wallace said her injuries were not life threatening, and as of Friday morning, she was no longer listed as a JPS patient.

She had one passenger, John Humphrey, 38, also of Oklahoma, and he was not injured.

Wallace said it was unknown who spilled the gravel. It was reported as a road hazard to Wise County dispatch at 2:52 p.m., and the accident occurred just a few minutes later.

Traffic was reduced to one lane at the accident scene for at least an hour. Texas Department of Transportation arrived to clean up the rock at 4:07 p.m.

Other agencies responding included the Wise County Sheriff’s Department, Rhome Police Department and Rhome Fire Department.

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Rhome City Council proceeds with carport ordinance

Let the carport construction begin.

Rhome City Council Monday night authorized the city staff and Mayor Louis Godfrey to finalize an ordinance outlining the rules for carport construction. They also approved it being a special exception to the zoning ordinance.

City attorney Walt Leonard said the city requires that a structure be built 10 feet from the side boundaries of a property, but the council needed to decided the distance requirement from the front property line.

“In Rhome, we have old, old platting where property lines go to the middle of the street,” he said. “If you measure from the property line in front, it might give you weird results.”

He said the distance could be figured from the right-of-way.

Leonard said they also needed to consider if they wanted to require every homeowner to present their plans to the council for approval.

“Anyone who wants one has to come to the council and show that it’s compatible and meets the general spirit of the ordinance and make some sort of promises to show where it will be placed,” Leonard said.

Mayor Pro Tem Charles Pennington said he thought that was a good idea.

Although the mayor and staff will finalize the ordinance, the council agreed that it should include construction requirements that a carport be built 10 feet from the side boundaries of a property and 5 feet from the right-of-way in front.

Leonard said if those dimensions don’t fit a particular piece of property, owners could ask for a variance.

Before discussing the issue, the council re-opened a public hearing on carports, but no one present spoke. The topic proved to be controversial at a council meeting in April, as citizens on both sides of the issue expressed strong opinions.

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Rhome City Council fills vacancy, creates another

Rhome city officials have done a lot of shuffling to fill posts on the council and on boards/commissions.

In May, voters elected then-council member Louis Godfrey mayor. But with a year left on his term, the council was tasked with appointing someone to fill the vacancy.

At a special called meeting last Friday, officials named former mayor and council member David E. Wilson to that post.

Wilson, however, was serving on the city’s planning and zoning commission – a post he must now resign after his council appointment.

The council will consider accepting at its regular meeting, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Also on the agenda is resuming a public hearing on carports. The topic proved to be controversial at the council’s meeting in April, as citizens on both sides of the issue expressed strong opinions.

“I’ve lived in neighborhoods before where this has been an issue, adding carports,” resident Diane Fletcher said at the April meeting. “What it started looking like was a trailer park Things started looking trashy I think it’s definitely not going to make Rhome look very good. I don’t want Rhome looking like a trailer park.”

Nathan Robertson spoke up for the other side.

“I’ve lived here for 24 years, and I don’t think it’s going to decrease my property value,” he said. ” There’s a lot more to worry about with eyesores than carports.”

At the April meeting, Charles Pennington – who was named mayor pro tem at last Friday’s meeting – agreed to conduct an impact study and present the findings at this June meeting.

The council will consider taking action on the matter.

They will also:

  • consider authorizing the mayor to execute any papers necessary to complete the sale of property in Crown Point;
  • discuss improvements to the city’s wastewater plant including a gate on the east side and a building on the west side;
  • update the requirements of the planning and zoning commission;
  • discuss old business including a veterans park donation plaque and electricity in Family Park;
  • recess into closed session to discuss police personnel then discuss, consider or act regarding the matter;
  • consider routine business including meeting minutes, check registers and staff reports.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at City Hall, 105 First St.

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Carl Douglas Alderman

Carl Douglas Alderman, 75, of Rhome, died Saturday, May 31, 2014, in Haslet.

Service was June 6 at Faith Temple in New Fairview with Pastor Windell Splawn Jr. officiating. Alpine Funeral Home in Fort Worth handled the cremation.

Carl was born Sept 3, 1938, in Shreveport, La. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force and worked in the telecom business for more than 40 years as a project manager and a site manager.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria Alderman; parents Myra Crain and Mr. Stennett; sons Paul Alderman and Matt Alderman; daughters Debra Alderman and Laura Alderman; sister Billie Alderman; grandchildren Jeremy Alderman, Ryan Goodwin, Angelina Anguish, Aaron Anguish, Sarah Geddess, Samantha Howard and Casey Howard; and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by brothers L.A Alderman and Leroy Alderman; and sister Susie Alderman.

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Maxine Thorell Griffin

Maxine Thorell Griffin

Maxine Thorell Griffin, 86, of Rhome, died Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Plano.

Graveside service was June 6 at Aurora Cemetery with Pastor Carl L. Thorell officiating. Burial was under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Maxine was born Nov. 9, 1927, in Rhome to O.Z. and Dollie (Brammer) Thorell. She married Daniel Bert “D.B.” Griffin April 5, 1947, in Rhome, and they were married 62 years before his death in 2009.

Maxine enjoyed square dancing in her younger days with her husband and later playing 42 and bingo. She loved her family, her Lord and spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She is survived by sons Don Griffin of Rhome and Gary Griffin and wife, Dorothy, of Dallas; granddaughters Joanie Griffin Lester and husband, Steven, of Celina and Chelsie Griffin of Dallas; step-granddaughter Sabrina Lambert of Haltom City; great-grandchildren Wyatt Samuel Lester, Ainsley Maxine Lester and Enzo Lester; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; sisters Juanelle Thorell and Geneva Burch; and brother Carl A. Thorell.

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Council to fill vacancy

Louis Godfrey’s election as mayor of Rhome leaves his place on the council vacant with one year left in the term.

At a special meeting Friday, the council will appoint someone to fill that seat.

Also at the meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. at City Hall, officials will appoint a mayor pro tem and recess into closed session to discuss the public works director and city secretary positions.

Any action on the matter will be taken in open session.

The meeting is open to the public.

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Arianna Renee Mauricio

Hollie and Adrian Mauricio of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Arianna Renee, on May 27, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

She has two brothers: Alex, 7, and Isaac, 5; and one sister: Natalie, 3.

Grandparents are Norma and Adrian Mauricio and Melissa Walker.

Great-grandparents are James and Mildred Hurst.

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Laura Kelly Williams

Laura Kelly Williams

Laura Kelly Williams, 79, of Rhome, died Monday, May 26, 2014.

Funeral is 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 29, at Greenwood Chapel in Fort Worth. Entombment will be at Greenwood Mausoleum.

Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Greenwood Funeral Home.

Laura was born Feb. 2, 1935, in Hobson, Mont. She owned the Shell Station in Rhome from 1978 to 2003 and was a longtime member of Faith Temple Church in Rhome. She was loved by all who knew her and will be dearly missed.

Survivors include her husband, Robert Williams; sons David Wendt and wife, JoAnne, and Richard Wendt and wife, Karen; daughter Rennie Wolverton and husband, Bill; stepson Scott Williams and wife, Loretta; stepdaughters Carla Phillips and husband, Wayne, and Lori West and husband, Jay; granddaughter Kelly Daman and husband, Singh; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

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Anika Rodriguez

Jaunna and Yarcesin Rodriguez of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Anika Rodrguez, on May 20, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Her sister is Ansleigh, 3.

Grandparents are Agusten Rodriguez, Josafina Rubio, Jose Cruz, Ricardo Rubio, and Martha Rodriguez.

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Eli Gabriel Clayton

Heather and Cole Clayton of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Eli Gabriel, May 19, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces and was 18 inches long.

His sister is Mily, 3.

Grandparents are Nancy Rodriguez and Jo Landry of Decatur, Stacy and Bobby Tucknies of Sunset, Richard Benavides of Keller, and Wesley and Tammy Clayton of Bridgeport.

Great-grandparents are Glenda Holt of Decatur and Jo Benavides of Fort Worth.

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Students named to TWU Honor Roll

Several Wise County students made the Dean’s List during the fall 2013 semester at Texas Woman’s University. Those that also made the Chancellor’s List with a 4.0 grade point average are denoted with an (*).

Alvord
Vanessa Alberts, sociology
Jordann Warren, nursing

Boyd
Taylor Anderson, interdisciplinary studies
Michaela Calvert, dental hygiene
Kristina West*, nursing

Bridgeport
Rebecca Grinnell, business administration
Angelica Reyes*, dental hygiene
Kristie Sandoval, interdisciplinary studies
Domenica Santoyo, social work
Erika Santoyo, social work

Decatur
Kari Gage*, interdisciplinary studies
Megan Maxwell*, business administration
Rachel McGregor*, interdisciplinary studies
Mary Kathryn Olson, English
Steve Salinas, psychology
Kitara Wright, communication sciences

Paradise
Taylor Blount, nutrition
Sarah Buell, undeclared
Saira Fernandez, undeclared

Rhome
Bettina Davis, dance
Shiloh Hofacket, human resources
Natalie Klasek, psychology

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Rancher’s power-line battle gains attention

A Wise County rancher’s battle to budge the power line he says was built in the wrong place is gaining attention from landowners and utilities as Texas regulators prepare to decide the line’s fate.

Crossing the Line

CROSSING THE LINE – The Rolling V Ranch in Wise County is home to power transmission lines built by Oncor. The owner, Johnny Vinson, says one stretch of the new lines is not built where Oncor promised to build it. Photo courtesy Texas Tribune

This week, the Public Utility Commission of Texas will consider a complaint that Johnny Vinson, an 82-year-old rancher, lodged against Oncor, the state’s largest transmission operator.

The case concerns this question: after landowners sign off on a power line routes, can a transmission company install it somewhere else?

Vinson says a 345-kilovolt power line stretching across the northwest corner of his Wise County ranch should run 150 feet north of where it does – atop an older, 69-kilovolt line. That is where Oncor originally mapped it, but not where the company built it. The change left Vinson with what he says is an unusable 11-acre gap between two power line easements.

Power line routes commonly move slightly after regulators approve them, but no state regulations address precisely how much leeway transmission companies have. Landowners are rarely warned that approved routes might shift.

Vinson’s complaint, filed in November 2012, originally drew scant attention from those outside of the dispute. But less than a month after The Texas Tribune reported on it, a state lawmaker, several landowner groups and several of Texas’ largest utilities have submitted comments to the PUC addressing the issue.

“It reflects that this issue is of the highest importance to everyone – including landowners and utilities,” James Brazell, Vinson’s attorney, said of the flurry of last-minute comments to the commission. “And it really needs the commission to make a decision regarding how to fix this problem.”

The case was on the agenda for the PUC’s open meeting on Friday, when the three commissioners will discuss whether to quickly vote or take more time to hear arguments on either side.

In late April, state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, asked the commissioners to give the issue a full hearing, saying the case could have “far-reaching effects.”

“Due to the nature of this case and the possibility for statewide implications, I encourage the Commission to consider granting a full hearing,” King wrote in a letter to the commissioners. “Furthermore, if requested, I encourage the Commission to allow oral arguments to ensure the voices of both parties can be adequately expressed.”

Oncor says it ran into engineering problems while designing the line – primarily the discovery of gas and water pipelines beneath the old power line that made building on the original path unsafe. Oncor argues that maps included in a company’s application to build a project on private land – called a certificate of convenience and necessity, or CCN – are merely “indicative” of where power lines will go, and that a company has the power to maneuver around constraints it discovers.

Transmission companies across the state agree with that position. Last week, in a filing to the PUC, a group of seven large transmission companies wrote that the transmission line development process “will change for the worse” if the commission sides with Vinson, requiring companies to complete detailed field surveys and engineering studies on every proposed power line route – regardless of whether each is chosen.

“This would result in considerable additional expenditures of cost and of time in the CCN process, with a corresponding delay in transmission line development and increase of costs to all ratepayers,” said the group, which includes Cross Texas Transmission, El Paso Electric Company, LCRA Transmission Services, Lone Star Transmission, Sharyland Utilities, Southwestern Public Service Company and Texas-New Mexico Power Company.

Vinson’s legal team called Oncor’s revelations about underground gas and water pipelines on Vinson’s property a “red herring.” The rancher says Oncor ran into difficulty with the original route after realizing it had failed to give notice of the CCN proceedings to Vinson’s neighbor to the northwest, whose property would have abutted the power line. That neighbor refused to give Oncor permission to survey his land for an easement. Oncor denies that those details played a role in its routing decision.

Brazell said that siding with Oncor would give transmission companies too much wiggle room to move projects without landowners’ consent.

“Today it could be 5 feet. Tomorrow, it could be 150,” he said. “Next day it could be 1,000. Then, a week from now, it could be 5 miles, because there’s no limit on it.”

A group of North Texas landowners, including the city of Haslet, the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District and several homeowners associations support Vinson’s position.

Because the power line has already been built, a ruling against Oncor would prove complicated, and it is not clear what that would mean for the project.

Vinson is fighting an uphill battle. PUC staff members support Oncor’s position, and in March, an administrative law judge ruled in the company’s favor, saying “it was clear that Oncor followed good engineering practice” on Vinson’s property. That ruling is not binding but would likely play an important role in regulators’ final decision.

This article was published online Wednesday by The Texas Tribune – a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.

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Godfrey wins mayor’s race

Louis Godfrey will transition from the council to Rhome’s top job after winning the mayor’s race Saturday.

He defeated Mark Lorance, who once held the mayor’s post, 117-88. Lorance said he was asked by several people to come back and run again.

“I gave it a shot and tried to get my message out there the best I could, and it just didn’t work out,” he said. “If the citizens want someone else to step into that position, then that’s OK.

“I volunteered my services, tried to get my message out and I guess Louis had a better message.”

Godfrey says he feels “fine” about the win, and he wants to see the city grow in a positive way.

“I want the city to have positive relations all the way around,” he said. “It’s time to get a master plan into effect, but not all of this will take place overnight.

“… I plan to work very hard for the people of this city, whatever it takes to get the job done,” he said. “I’m not afraid of long hours, and I’m not afraid of hard work, as long as we can all stay on track and do things together, I think we’ll all do just fine.”

Two at-large council seats were up for grabs and were secured by incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman. Wilson received 122 votes, and Pittman got 90, beating Timothy Robison (79), Shawn Holliman (48) and Jason Miller (38).

“I am pleased that people wanted me back in, and I got more votes than I ever have,” said Wilson, who is starting her fourth term. “I really enjoy it. A lot of people have my cell phone number, and that’s good. If I can be of any help, I will try. I think that’s important, particularly in a small town. I just appreciate all the support I’ve been given.”

Wilson said she would like to address water needs and road repair in the next two years.

Pittman’s win secures her second term, and she wants to see the city develop a five-year plan for a safety complex that would house the police and fire departments. She also wants to include a community center and sports fields in that plan. She said they also need to evaluate infrastructure for water and sewer to ensure everything is in place to accommodate growth, especially commercial growth.

Pittman said she’s honored to be re-elected.

“It’s been a rocky two years, but it’s been a privilege to get to be a part of helping people,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges, and I feel like I’ve been the Lone Ranger sticking up for some things that I feel strongly about … I want to get away from that.”

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Power line fiasco starts fire

Wells Fargo bank in Rhome caught fire Monday after the power supply was yanked from the building in an unusual accident.

Unusual Accident

UNUSUAL ACCIDENT – Firefighters survey the scene Monday after the power supply was pulled from the Wells Fargo bank in Rhome, sparking a fire. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Just before 1 p.m., a pickup pulling a trailer loaded with a tall piece of equipment caught the power line that stretches between the electrical pole and the power supply on the building. The line was pulled down, and the power supply was ripped from the exterior wall of the bank, sparking the fire.

The driver of the pickup, Justin Cowan, works for Global Logix Inc. out of Houston. He was turning around in the parking lot, according to Rhome Police Chief James Rose.

Smoke was visible from outside the building, and Rhome and Newark fire departments were dispatched to the scene. Oncor was also called to cut off electricity to the building, and the bank was temporarily closed. According to the city of Rhome’s Facebook page, the bank is planning to re-open Thursday.

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Suspect ‘Loves’ then leaves; Man crashes car at truck stop, flees on foot

A traffic stop turned into a brief chase, crash, manhunt and arrest early Friday morning in Rhome.

Amy Michelle Reidy

Rhome Police officer Chance Garrett attempted to stop a car on Texas 114 around 12:15 a.m. when the vehicle sped to a nearby truck stop.

“For some reason, he turned into the Love’s parking lot, drove to the back part where the truckers park, jumped a curb and went down a steep embankment to the creek bed below – where he got stuck,” said Rhome Police Chief James Rose.

With the vehicle lodged in a thicket, the driver jumped out and ran into a nearby wooded area, leaving a female passenger in the car. James said the woman, identified as Amy Michelle Reidy, 39, of Decatur, was arrested on a theft $50 to $500 warrant out of Tarrant County.

Reidy was taken to Wise Regional Health System after complaining of back and shoulder pain. She was treated before being taken to the Wise County Jail.

Sonny Dale Ruble

Officers requested the fire department respond with a brush truck “with a chainsaw” to the area where the driver, who was identified by Reidy as Sonny Dale Ruble, 34, of Rhome had run into the woods.

Because Ruble’s whereabouts were unknown, Love’s went into “lockdown mode,” and an officer was later sent to the store after patrons were yelling about being unable to enter.

Rose said the car the pair was in was stolen – or at least the license plate on the car had been stolen.

As of Friday afternoon, Ruble had not been found. Officer Brody Brown said he will likely be charged with evading arrest with a vehicle and evading arrest on foot. Ruble also has outstanding warrants in both Wise and Tarrant counties, he said.

Reidy remained jailed Friday afternoon.

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