Police seek information on bank robber

The man who robbed Woodhaven National Bank in Rhome Wednesday is still at large.

Robbery Suspect

ROBBERY SUSPECT – Police are seeking the identity of the man shown in this surveillance photo who robbed Woodhaven National Bank in Rhome Wednesday. Submitted photo

Rhome Police Chief Brandon Davis said a man entered the bank around noon and handed the teller a note, instructing her to “hand over the money and no one will get hurt.”

He kept his hands in his pocket and did not display a weapon during the robbery. No one in the bank was injured.

The robber was not wearing a mask and did not appear to try to conceal his identity.

He took an undisclosed amount of cash, and he and a second suspect driving a black, four-door newer model Chevrolet pickup with paper tags headed north on U.S. 81/287.

The suspect who entered the bank is described as around 5′ 10″, early to mid-30s, heavy build, wearing a ball cap with a logo on it and a burnt orange University of Texas shirt. He was also wearing sunglasses on the cap and had about a day or two of facial hair growth.

Security cameras were able to capture images of the man, but as of Friday afternoon he had not been identified.

A description of the getaway driver was not available.

Davis said Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had taken over the investigation and was following up on leads.

This is the second time in four years Woodhaven National Bank has been robbed. Two men robbed the bank on Dec. 2, 2010.

Anyone with information should call Wise County Crimestoppers at 800-643-TIPS (8477) or 940-627-TIPS (8477) 24 hours a day. You may remain anonymous, and a reward of up to $1,500 is available for information leading to an arrest.

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Rhome City Council to accept mayor’s resignation

Saturday at 1 p.m., the Rhome City Council is scheduled to officially accept the resignation of Mayor Louis Godfrey.

Mayor pro tem Charles Pennington read Godfrey’s letter of resignation Tuesday night at the start of a council meeting, after a workshop that lasted about an hour.

“I, Louis Godfrey, am resigning from the office of mayor immediately,” the letter said. Godfrey went on to express thanks to the citizens of Rhome for the opportunity to serve, and said he would be “pursuing other things” in his life.

At Saturday’s meeting, the council will ratify that resignation while also discussing “concerns” about the city’s information technology (IT) systems – which Godfrey maintained – and a possible audit of the city’s books.

Ramah Burns, who was serving as city secretary, resigned effective Oct. 28, after her “communication, cooperation and job description” were discussed in a closed-door council session Oct. 9.

Godfrey, who previously served on the city council and headed up the city’s Park Board, began his tenure as mayor in May. In June, a week after the council granted the mayor authority to hire and fire department heads without prior council approval, the city’s police chief, public works director and municipal court clerk all resigned.

Last month, the council acted to again limit the mayor’s authority.


Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council seemingly resolved a contentious issue by voting that city departments can have “petty cash” accounts and spend limited amounts of money without going through the city secretary to get a purchase order.

The controversy started when Police Chief Brandon Davis opened a bank account with $600 he’d gotten from the sale of three out-of-service police cars.

Davis came to the council after that, suggesting they create a fund for his department to give him a place to deposit that type of miscellaneous income, to be used to buy some supplies, as well as pay for training, without going through City Hall.

Objections were raised, particularly by Godfrey. The discussion grew so heated at the previous council meeting that Pennington called for a workshop to resolve the issues.

In that workshop, held prior to Tuesday’s council meeting, it was decided to allow the police and public works departments to set up $500 accounts that could be accessed by the department heads with debit cards. All receipts would still come back to the city secretary, and the council would approve further deposits to keep the balance around $500.

Council member Jo Ann Wilson made the motion, which passed unanimously.

“It’s all going to be open,” city attorney Walt Leonard said. “It can all be seen by the public. It’s not a slush fund. All the funds would be from the general fund.”

Davis, who got into a debate with a member of the audience at the previous council meeting, apologized to the council and citizens who witnessed that exchange.

“It was unprofessional, and it won’t happen again,” he said.


The council also:

  • officially terminated an interlocal agreement with Northwest ISD in which the school district helped finance some water system improvements. The action was needed so that the school district could deposit the final check.
  • met building inspector Robert Lynn, who has been working for the city on a contract basis for about two months and is in line to be appointed as building inspector at the next meeting.
  • discussed how to set up the city’s impound lot.
  • set the city’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for Nov. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the community center.
  • accepted the resignation of city secretary Ramah Burns and authorized a review of applications for the position.

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Motorcycle accident injures 2

Motorcycle accident injures 2

A Utah man was seriously injured in a motorcycle collision on the U.S. 81/287 service road in Rhome Sunday morning.

One motorcycle clipped another about 7:45 a.m. on the service road between Pioneer Road and Texas 114. The most seriously injured rider was flown by Air Evac 68 to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Rider Injured

RIDER INJURED – Medics wheel a Utah man to a helicopter ambulance waiting to take him to John Peter Smith Hospital Sunday morning. He was seriously injured in a collision with a fellow rider. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The second rider, Ronald Arthur Lourenco, 67, was treated and released from JPS.

Rhome Police Chief Brandon Davis said there were three motorcycles traveling together.

“They were just doing a cross country trip and enjoying a leisurely ride,” he said. “The front two riders had come abreast somehow. The outside rider wanted to exit onto the highway and hadn’t communicated that with his partner … they must have collided in trying to change lanes, which is what caused the accident.”

The medical helicopter was requested immediately after first responders arrived on scene.

The third rider, who asked to remain anonymous, said he did not see the accident occur.

“I was a couple hundred yards behind,” he said. “They came over the hill, and I guess they realized they had to merge and clipped.”

The rider said the group was driving back to Utah. The most seriously injured rider was not wearing a helmet.

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Elizabeth Munoz Aldape

Juan Pablo Munoz Munoz and Maria L. Aldape of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth Munoz Aldape, on Oct. 10, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

She has one brother: Juan Diego Munoz Aldape, 10; and two sisters: Karina Munoz Aldape, 11, and Jakeline Munoz Aldape, 12.

Grandparents are Andrea Munoz, Andres and Maria Aldape.

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Naomi Ashley Hoskins

Jacob and Baylin Hoskins of Rhome announce the birth of their third daughter, Naomi Ashley, on Oct. 8, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20 inches long.

She has two sisters: Laila Hoskins, 13, and Malia Hoskins, 11.

Grandparents are Arthur and Rosa Colunga of Lake Hills, Jake and Marina Hoskins of Brazil and Cheryl and Steve Lake of Terrell.

Great-grandparents are Jake and Granney Hoskins of Mathis.

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Truman LaDoyte Keesee Sr.

Truman LaDoyte Keesee Sr.

Truman LaDoyte Keesee Sr., 64, of Rhome, died Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in Decatur.

Funeral is 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur with burial at Oaklawn Cemetery. Gerre Joiner will officiate, and Jason Putman, Tom Moran, Matt Barnett, Coby Gunnels, Kerry Mahoney and Nolan Hayhurst will serve as pallbearers.

Truman was born Sept. 4, 1950, in Comanche to Alvin and Virginia (Gilbreath) Keesee. He married Agnes Tamporello Aug. 7, 1970, in Abilene and owned a pool repair company before his retirement.

He was a member of Watuaga Baptist Church and a strong and loving husband, father and grandfather.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Robert “Bimbo” Keesee.

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Aggie, of Rhome; sons Truman Keesee Jr. and wife, Christy, of Springtown, and Brandon Keesee and wife, Daina, of Haslet; brothers Alvin Keesee and David Keesee, both of Abilene; sisters Carlotta Bowden and husband, Jerry, of Hodges, Darlene Foster and husband, Mark, of Abilene, and Roma Templeton of Houston; grandchildren Laken, Kylee, Marissa, Trinity, Colby, Aden, Trey and Emily; great-grandchild Cashlyn; and his beloved dogs, Anna Bella and Mia.

Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital at www.stjude.org.

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Rhome City Council OKs library funding

It’s only $50 a month, but it will make a huge difference for the Rhome Public Library.

That’s all library board president Janice Wilson asked for when she spoke to the city council at their meeting Thursday evening. The council voted unanimously to grant the $600 in a lump sum, immediately.

It will help pay utility bills – but city support is what Wilson was really looking for.

Previously, because the library received no financial support from the city but about $20,000 a year from Wise County, a quirk in state regulations caused it to be classified as a “very large library” – serving a population of 31,000 people.

“Since we only get county help, and all the other libraries in Wise County get help from the cities they serve, Rhome library is assigned all the rest of the county’s population,” Wilson explained.

Decatur’s library, by comparison, is only assigned about 6,000 of the county’s population.

Having city funding will allow the Rhome library to be reclassified as serving a much smaller population. That, Wilson said, will allow it to meet much more realistic requirements based on its size and services, and qualify for grants to improve those services.

The library is located in a 2,000 square-foot building at 265 BC Rhome Ave., is staffed by volunteers and is open just two days a week.

“The city of Chico gives its library about $1,000 a month,” Wilson said. “We’re not asking for that, and in fact, we don’t want to be responsible to the city for that. We just want $50 so we can go after some grants.

“If we can get the 31,000 population off of our report and get our accreditation, that will help immensely.”


Norm Bulaich of Progressive Waste Solutions was at the meeting to talk about the need for more trash containers during the city’s recent two-day cleanup event.

“We didn’t have enough, and we couldn’t turn people away, so we put it on the ground,” said councilmember Charles Pennington, who presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Louis Godfrey. “It took a city tractor driver several days to clean it up. It was quite a mess.”

Company representative Norm Bulaich said better communication and anticipating the need would have helped.

“We apologize for it,” he said.

Pennington admitted the city thought they had enough dumpsters lined up for the last event – but the response was overwhelming.

“It’s confusing,” Pennington said. “One year you need three and the next year you need 16. It’s impossible to estimate.”

The city’s next two-day cleanup is Oct. 25-26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. They will be more vigilant to make sure only city residents take advantage of the event, and Progressive will work more closely with them to get the dumpsters delivered.

“Say [you need] five and give us the date and we’ll set it up,” Bulaich said. “If something happens and those five aren’t enough, we can bring a rear-loader.”


During his report, Police Chief Brandon Davis requested approval after-the-fact for a specific bank account the police department could use for training and other minor expenses.

The council recently declared three out-of-service squad cars to be surplus, and allowed Davis to sell them.

“I got $600 out of them, so I went and opened an account,” he said. “Wells Fargo required me to open it in my name.”

David requested the PD be allowed to use the account when other off-budget funds come in – such as income from the city’s impound lot – and let him use a debit card to pay for training and other miscellaneous expenses.

Pennington said any purchase that exceeds $250 would still require a purchase order. A discussion ensued about how the account would be carried on the city’s books and what kind of scrutiny it would come under.

Davis said the account would be classified as a petty cash account under normal oversight, under state law, by the city council and mayor.

City attorney Walt Leonard weighed in, saying having such an account for a department would be “improper.” And, he noted, impound lots can bring in a lot of money.

Councilmember Michelle Pittman said the $600 “needs to go into general fund because it creates an accounting nightmare.”

Davis, who said he had gotten policies on similar accounts from police chiefs of 40 other similar-sized cities, began to get frustrated.

“I don’t know why it’s a huge ordeal just in Rhome,” he said. “I think it’s a control issue rather than just an accounting issue. If an account has oversight, and you can account for every single dollar, why does it have to go into the general fund?”

Pennington suggested the council hold a workshop to hammer out all the particulars of how to manage the account, with the idea of possibly setting up petty cash accounts for other city departments as well.

The workshop will be held at 6 p.m., before the Oct. 28 council meeting starts at 7.


The council also:

  • heard from Northwest High School teacher Kelly Broughton about the planned “Big Event” next April 18. She hopes to find 30 projects in Rhome for her students.
  • decided to go forward with a Community Development Block Grant application for $275,000 to be used for a new water well or, if that’s not feasible, to remedy inflow and infiltration (I&I) projects in the city’s water and sewer system.
  • heard from Dennis McCreary, a member/partner in Greater Community Church, about the church’s proposed purchase of a building at 109 N. Main St. The church, which started in Oct. 2013, meeting in homes, is planning on improving the property.
  • heard a report on the fire department’s recent fall festival, which didn’t bring in much profit, but was termed a success because of the involvement and fun it brought to the city’s residents.
  • voted unanimously to start meeting on the second Thursday and fourth Tuesday of each month, to provide more flexibility to developers and businesses coming to the community and needing council approval quicker than once a month.
  • approved contracts with the Tarrant County Emergency Services District for mutual aid, with Wise County for fire protection/first responder service and animal control service, with Wise County Appraisal District for tax collection/assessment, and with Wise County for road repair.
  • gave the fire department permission to sell the “quint” – an outdated ladder truck – and use the projected $10,000 it brings to remodel the fire station.

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Rhome man gets probation for evading arrest

A Rhome man was given 10 years probation by a Wise County jury Wednesday for evading arrest/detention with a vehicle.

Christopher Russell Ashby, 33, pleaded guilty to the charge and elected to have a jury decide his punishment.

The incident took place July 22, 2013, at Ashby’s home near Rhome. His wife called 911 after Ashby had become intoxicated. When officers arrived, Ashby was in a car.

He took off, putting the vehicle in reverse, running over a lawnmower and hitting one of the sheriff’s deputy’s vehicles. He drove around the house and sped off.

Officers chased Ashby, who ran off the roadway a couple of times. The chase ended when he drove over an embankment and crashed. He was arrested by officers and taken to jail.

Ashby was later indicted for evading arrest and aggravated assault of a public servant. Patrick Berry, assistant district attorney, said prosecutors decided to dismiss the aggravated assault of a public servant charge because video was not available from the second officer’s car to show what happened when the first vehicle was struck.

The jury was able to watch the video of the pursuit, and they also heard testimony from the two officers who responded.

Ashby and his wife also testified. Ashby said he knew he was wrong and that he was sorry. He testified he had little memory of the events of that evening.

Because he had never been convicted of a felony in the past, Ashby was eligible for probation. Berry told the jury during closing arguments that the punishment needed to send a message.

“We asked for five years [in prison] because we wanted to send a message that we are going to protect our officers out there on the street,” Patrick said. “I told them in the argument that if they were thinking of giving him probation, give him the maximum of 10 years and $10,000 fine so that the judge would have the full range of punishment open to him if he violated probation, and that’s what they did.”

District Judge John Fostel set the length of probation at 10 years.

The jury also found that a deadly weapon – a car – was used during the incident, which means that if Ashby does go to prison, he will have to serve at least half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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Mary Frances Winfrey

Mary Frances Winfrey

Mary Frances Winfrey, 85, a retired tailor, died Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Rhome.

Graveside service is 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13, at Hasley Cemetery in West Monroe, La. Robert Spicer will officiate.

Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Mary was born Feb. 11, 1929, in Rossville, Ga., to John and Della (Jolly) Jenkins. She married O.B. Winfrey Aug. 11, 1950, in Bastrop, La. Mary retired from being a seamstress after more than 25 years. She was a Baptist.

She was preceded in death by her husband, O.B. Winfrey; her parents; sons Randy Winfrey and Dan Winfrey; and four siblings.

She is survived by her daughters, Karen Williams of Rhome and Donna Griffin of Houston; grandchildren Kimberly Wauson and Dale Hand; great-grandchildren Tyler and Dillon; and sister Jewell LeRoy of Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Secret discussion planned for Rhome city secretary job

Rhome City Council will discuss the position of city secretary during a closed session in their regular meeting Thursday night.

Behind closed doors they will discuss communication, cooperation and the job description for this post, which is currently held by Ramah Burns. If they take any action on what’s discussed, it will be done in open session.

In other business, the council will consider a contract with Tarrant County Emergency Services District No. 1 for mutual aid service provided by the city. They will also hear a presentation from Norm Bulaich with Progressive Waste Solutions, discuss a grant for drilling a water well, and hear from a Northwest ISD representative on the Big Event, scheduled for April 18.

Mayor Louis Godfrey and council members apparently remain at odds over the mayor’s authority. The most recent action on Sept. 29 took away Godfrey’s power to hire and fire department heads without council approval, and instead put that responsibility on the council.

Godfrey still has the ability to discipline or fire other employees in conjunction with the department heads, but those decisions can be appealed to the council.

In an Oct. 1 article detailing the changes, Councilman Ronnie Moore said Godfrey was “abusing his power” and picking on Police Chief Brandon Davis, statements with which Godfrey strongly disagreed.

In an interview with the Messenger Friday, Godfrey said he was not picking on anyone but has actual concerns about Davis’ job performance and certain activities he believes to be illegal.

The Messenger is still working to research and verify Godfrey’s claims.

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Rhome City Council limits mayoral powers

Just three months after granting them, the Rhome City Council has limited the powers of its mayor.

Without Mayor Louis Godfrey in attendance, the city council met in closed session for more than three-and-a-half hours Monday to discuss his authority.

At the suggestion of City Attorney Walt Leonard, the council by a vote of 4-0-1 approved five changes to the mayor’s powers. Councilwoman Michelle Pittman abstained.

Those changes include:

  • The hiring and firing of department heads “or those above” will be done by the city council. “Persons below that will be by mayor, in conjunction with department heads,” Leonard said.
  • Discipline and firing decisions may be appealed to the city council at the next regular session. “Whether that person remains on the job in the interim is at the discretion of the mayor and department head,” Leonard said.
  • Staff is to prepare proposed job descriptions for all employees as part of a general review of the personnel manual.
  • Overtime for all employees will be as authorized by the department head.
  • Each department head “may utilize their own resources as per the budget and in conjunction with the mayor and council.”

At a June 16 meeting, city council members approved amending an ordinance to give Godfrey the authority to hire and fire department heads without the council’s approval.

Although discussion to revoke that power took place behind closed doors, Councilman Ronnie Moore spoke with the Messenger during a phone call Monday afternoon.

“We gave him the power to fire and hire, not to abuse that power,” he said. “We are doing this to slow him down on his abuse of power.”

Moore also claimed that a statement Pittman made in an article in the Sept. 27 edition of the Messenger was incorrect.

“We never told that man [Mayor Godfrey] to fire anyone,” he said. “Every person he has fired he has done on his own. We gave him that permission, and what he did, he took on his own … But when you start picking on the chief of the police department, that is abuse of power.

“We are taking it away because that man was abusing his power – that is why.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, the council extended by six months the probationary period for Police Chief Brandon Davis.

Davis, who has lived in Rhome for 14 years, was named interim police chief June 24 after Police Chief James Rose resigned the day before.

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Rhome City Council calls meeting, again

For the seventh time since the newly elected officials took office four months ago, the Rhome City Council will meet in a special session Monday.

The meeting was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday for the council to discuss, in open session, “powers of the mayor” and the possibility of the police chief resigning.

That meeting was canceled and rescheduled for 7 p.m. Monday. However, according to the agenda for that meeting, the matters will be discussed in executive session. Any action will be taken in a public forum.

At a June 16 meeting, city council members approved amending an ordinance to give Mayor Louis Godfrey the authority to hire and fire department heads without the council’s approval.

“Interesting enough once all the former employees and volunteers were removed by termination or resignation by the mayor, (other members of the council) now want to take back that same power three months later when someone they want to remain with the city is brought up,” Councilwoman Michelle Pittman wrote in an email to the Messenger Wednesday. “To me it appears the mayor was set up to do dirty work by cleaning house of certain individuals and now he is the fall guy. But that’s just my opinion.

“The council had the power to remove all those individuals all along before giving the mayor that power,” she said. “Why did they not do it themselves?”

Of the seven called meetings, four have been held on either a Friday or Saturday.

The meeting Monday, which begins at 7 p.m., will be at City Hall, 105 First St.

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Gary Alan Davidson

Gary Alan Davidson

Gary Alan Davidson, 67, of Rhome died Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, in Fort Worth.

Service was Sept. 25 at Azleland Memorial Park and Cemetery with Jim Bob Mitchell officiating. Pallbearers were Rocky Davidson, Michael Davidson, Clifford Davidson, Dave Tefft, Gene Fisher, Steve Ruffatto and Jeff Ruffatto.

Gary was born Jan. 25, 1947, in Sidney, Mont. He married Karen Ruffatto Aug. 3, 1968, in Sidney. He was retired.

Gary is survived by his wife, Karen Ruffatto-Davidson; mother Helen Davidson of Mesa, Ariz., sons Michael Davidson of Cary, N.C., and Clifford Davidson of Castle Rock, Colo.; daughters Stephanie Mistry of Carrollton and Michelle Rose of Rhome; sisters Linda Edam of Mesa, Valerie Tefft of Rhome and Madeline Satra of Great Falls, Mont.; brother Rocky Davidson of Carrollton; and grandchildren Joshua, Jude and Samuel Mistry of Carrollton, Raina, Seth and Brynn Davidson of Castle Rock, and Phoenix Rose of Rhome.

Memorials may be made to Yeshiva HaNateev through his wife.

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Noah Luke Aranda

Christina Aranda of Rhome announces the birth of a son, Noah Luke, on Sept. 17, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Grandparents are Zeke and Rosa Lara Aranda of Rhome.

Great-grandparents are Linda and Erasmo Zubia and Maria and John Hollis.

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Rhome City Council haggles for SRO contract

Rhome city officials are willing to renegotiate with Northwest ISD officials regarding school resource officer services.

Rhome Mayor Pro Tem Charles Pennington and council members David Wilson, Ronnie Moore and Jo Ann Wilson, along with city secretary Ramah Burns, attended the school board’s meeting Monday to express their eagerness.

“The council and I came tonight in support of the SRO at [Chisholm Trail Middle School],” Pennington said during the public comment of the section. “The contract had come up for renewal, and we met with Ms. Beam, a couple of other folks three or four times and was unable to come to an agreement on the contract.

“I just wanted to let y’all know that we’re open for negotiation. If you want to talk about it, contact me or the mayor, and we will be willing to discuss it.”

In February, the school district and city agreed to a 4-percent salary increase for the SRO, which set the school’s portion of the salary at $36,000.

Since that time, the city has seen several staffing changes, including a new mayor and police chief.

New mayor Louis Godfrey and the new police chief, Brandon Davis, said the city needs help in meeting its expenses and requested $55,137.75 from the school.

Northwest countered with an offer of $45,807.82, which would represent a 27 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. But that figure was rejected by city officials Sept. 11, and they instead requested another $2,000. After Northwest ISD rejected that request, the city pulled its officer from Northwest schools Sept. 12.

The school district initiated discussions with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office to provide an officer, and WCSO sent a deputy the following Monday.

At Monday’s meeting Rhome officials vouched for the relationships already established by its officer, Jeff Douglass.

“Officer Douglass loves being down there,” Pennington said. “We’ve had numerous emails from teachers, talked to students and they would love to have him back down there … Officer Douglass is involved in some mentoring programs that are going to fall way behind, that he spent a lot of time on the last eight years. We just wanted to let you know to contact myself or the mayor, Louis Godfrey, and we will be happy to answer any questions.”

Northwest Superintendent Karen Rue thanked Pennington for his statement

“It’s nice to hear you say you’re interested in renegotiating,” she said. “I would say that the pieces as we move forward with this have been ones that we believe are reflective of the cost of that program. We are regretful that that was not acceptable, and that the officer was pulled last week.”

Pennington said that the council just “wanted to break the taxpayers of Rhome even.”

“We didn’t want it to cost them any money,” he said. “Like I said, Officer Douglass has a lot of time invested down there.”

“If there is a consideration that is different than we last heard from the city, that might be something we could consider,” Rue responded. “Although we have moved forward with an SRO who came in Monday, and we will have SRO services through the Sheriff’s Department in Wise County.

“We’re very pleased to know that our students and our faculty and our community are all served in that way.”


Trustees also:

  • approved by a vote of 5-1 a class-size waiver for the 20 kindergarten through fourth-grade classes exceeding the 22:1 student-to-teacher allowable class size. The waiver increases the ratio to 25:1 and saves the district approximately $845,000 compared to the cost of staffing additional elementary classrooms at 22:1. Trustee Dr. Anne Davis-Simpson cast the dissenting vote.
  • reviewed campus improvement plans.
  • updated policy, as outlined by the Texas Association of School Boards, regarding school security personnel, district and campus improvement plans, employee health and life insurance, public information, records management, employee contracts, advertising, student records and revocation of student transfers.
  • heard reports on the design of the Outdoor Learning Center and on technology deployment.

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Rhome Fall Festival this weekend

A weekend of fun is planned in the southeastern corner of the county.

The Rhome Fall Festival is this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 26 and 27 at Family Park.

There will be a police car bash, jail-a-friend, cake bingo, 50/50 raffle, dunking booth, an antique car show, an antique tractor show, raffles, a blind auction, grab bags and more than 50 vendors.

The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter will be on display 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday and at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Kids activities include a water slide and bounce house ($1 for an all-day pass for both), goldfish races, duck pond, spin art, fish pond, treasure dig and pony rides.

The Rhome Police Department will hand out bicycle helmets and T-shirts.

Event volunteers will sell sodas and waters at most of the game booths and will hand out koozies and cups as souvenirs.

Live entertainment kicks off Friday with the Hotheadz Band at 4 p.m., followed by a concert by the Chisholm Trail Middle School band at 6 p.m.

Council member and Nashville-recording singer Ronnie Moore takes the stage at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, there is a parade at 9 a.m., led by Grand Marshal Marie Moore, who recently received a key to the city in recognition of her community service.

The Little Miss and Mr. pageant begins after the parade’s conclusion.

“That way those poor children don’t have to be in their pretty dresses and outfits very long,” event organizer Deborah BeCraft said. “The Little Miss pageant winners will get a crown and sash, and the Little Mr. will get a sash and sword, with ribbons for the runners-up.”

Following the pageant is the Ugly Women Contest.

“The Ugly Women Contest winner will get a crown and sash and will be required to wear it the rest of the festival,” BeCraft said.

David Slick, a Guinness World Record-holding juggler, will perform at 11:30 a.m.

Best parade float, tractor and car show winners will be announced, and a Senior King and Queen will be recognized.

Moore performs again Saturday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.

There will be a pie-eating contest at 1 p.m. Cost is $5 to enter, and the winner will win half of the proceeds.

There is a tumbling show at 1:30.

Live performances continue with the Starville Band at 3 p.m. and The Jo Bond Dancers at 4:30.

Billy “Cornbread” O’Neal will sign autographs Saturday. The Rhome native has starred in western movies and television shows such as “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

There is also a silly hat contest.

“Just wear a silly hat, and you could win,” BeCraft said.

Attendees have the opportunity to win up to $100 in the cash vault. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of events Saturday,

“There should be something for everyone,” BeCraft said. “It’s all happening in the Family Park with covered picnic tables, shade trees and a playground for the kids.”

For information, contact Rhome City Hall, 817-636-2462; Deborah BeCraft, 817-636-2826 or rhomeoldtownfun@hotmail.com; or Debbie Stewart, 817-707-2097 or dstewartibu@msn.com.

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Ronald G. Harvey

Ronald G. “Ronnie” Harvey

Ronald G. “Ronnie” Harvey, 77, of Rhome died Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Fort Worth.

Funeral is 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd with Steve Weeks officiating, assisted by Doris Dickey. Burial will follow at Aurora Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Tony Dickey, Raymond Dickey, Mark Hahn, Barry Harvey, Ronnie Smith and Ned Adcock.

Ronnie was born on April 18, 1937, in Rhome to Prentis and Ima (Ford) Harvey. He married Sue Bridges April 8, 1994, in Boyd and was employed at the Harvey family general store, where he was in charge of appliance repair.

Ronnie owned and operated the Roadrunner Restaurant, the Time Out convenience store and the R&S Car Wash in Rhome before he retired in 2009. Ronnie was a member of the Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Sandra; his sister Norma Matthews; and his brothers, Harold and Jerry Harvey.

He’s survived by his wife, Sue Harvey of Rhome; daughters DeYon Vess Moore and husband, Damon, of Justin and Darlyn Goetz and husband, Kevin, of Blanchard, Okla.; stepdaughters Angie Branson and Amie Nelson; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

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Rhome pulls school resource officer from schools

The city of Rhome has pulled its school resource officer from Northwest ISD schools.

Mayor Louis Godfrey told the Messenger Friday that Sept. 12 was Officer Jeff Douglass’ last day on campus after the city failed to reach an agreement with the school district regarding compensation.

“All we’re asking for is to meet our expenses,” Godfrey said. “We’re not asking for money to send someone to Cancun. We’re just asking to meet our expenses, and expenses have gone up.”

Rhome originally requested $51,000 – $4,000 less than what they are currently requesting. Police Chief Brandon Davis said even that will not cover all the expenses.

“Now that we’re adding in the court cost, it’s liable to jump to $58,000,” he said. “We were being reasonable, and we were underestimating what it actually costs to employ him in the school. That wasn’t good enough.”

During a conference call Friday, Northwest ISD officials said the district contracts with three entities – the city of Rhome, the town of Trophy Club and Denton County Sheriff’s Office – for school resource officers.

Agreements for the service are approved in the spring as schools begin the budget-writing process.

In February, NISD officials met with then-Mayor Chris Moore and then-Police Chief James Rose to negotiate the contract, agreeing to a 4-percent salary increase.

“We learned after the election of a different mayor and appointment of a different police chief that the city did not intend to continue our contract with them,” NISD Superintendent Karen Rue said. She explained that the disrict pays a percentage of the salary of an officer for the days they are contracted to work for them – a proposed $36,000 for the 2014-2015 school year.

“That wasn’t adequate, so we asked them to talk to us about what would be,” said Dr. Gary Gindt, assistant superintendent for administrative services.

NISD officials said Rhome then presented a list of operating expenses and a request for $55,137.75 – a 27 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

Gindt responded with an email saying that was “greater than was agreed upon in February and higher than what the district is prepared to consider.”

He attached a proposal with an offer of $45,807.82, which was presented at the council’s meeting Sept. 11.

Rhome officials balked at that figure, noting that the SRO provides services to children from Fort Worth, Haslet, Newark and Boyd.

None of those cities pays for the SRO’s compensation.

“Our citizens pay their school taxes as well, plus they’re footing city taxes to pay for this officer,” Godfrey said. “They didn’t want to hear that. I told them, ‘Well, you don’t want to hear that, then you don’t really need our officer that bad.'”

City officials drafted an email the next morning, Sept. 12, requesting an additional $2,000 and setting a 5 p.m. deadline to hear from Northwest ISD.

The school district did not oblige, instead initiating discussions with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, who sent a deputy to fill the school resource officer duties on Monday.

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Rhome City Council considers restructuring fire dept.

Rhome officials continue to try and work out the city’s relationship with the fire department.

“We have a fire department, which consists of everything that’s tangible – equipment, everything – but we have no firefighters,” city attorney Walt Leonard said at the council’s meeting last Thursday. “The VFD provides the firefighters, but they have no equipment.

“For this to work, the city and the VFD have to get along and work together. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.”

Fire Chief Jason Miller questioned the organizational structure.

“Are you telling me we’re our own VFD organization, not city related?,” he asked.

“You are a separate entity,” Leonard responded. “You have no trucks, and we have no firemen. That has to be worked out some way.”

He outlined several options to the city council.

“You could have more input in their bylaws, work out the bylaws with the VFD,” he said. “Because they’re an independent entity … they’re not us.

“The city supports the fire department. Period,” he continued. “That’s the equipment. In terms of helping out the VFD, most of its funding is provided by the city.”

Leonard also threw out the idea of creating an emergency services district, like Boyd, but advised the option is “complex and potentially expensive.” He also said the city could fund its own department.

“But that would double the city’s budget and with that, guess what? Taxes go up,” he said.

He said the city could also look into contracting with an entity like the ESD in Boyd.

“But again, that will cost you money, and you will have no control,” Leonard said.

Mayor Louis Godfrey attempted to sum it all up.

“What I’m hearing is that the only option we really have is to modify the bylaws, which would give us more control in case we need to appoint a fire chief, or do this or do that,” he said. “We would have more power.”

At a called meeting of the fire department Aug. 28, Godfrey advised that City Hall would process all applications for the department.

He mentioned that idea again at the Sept. 11 meeting, adding that approval from City Hall would be the final step in the application process.

“If we’re going to process people through City Hall, and they come back clean, that should be it. They should be allowed on,” Godfrey said.

“But don’t you think they should talk to the fire chief?” Miller asked. “If we’re our own organization, shouldn’t we vote our members in?”

Godfrey interrupted to explain.

“I think they should be able to talk to you, but I also think that that’s the final step,” he said. “They talk to you, you have a conversation with them to let them know what’s expected of them and so forth, and if they still wished to move forward then fine.

“But I think that once they’ve passed everything through City Hall – the application, the background check – and they’re clean, there shouldn’t be any further step than to talk to you and let you know, ‘Here I am. Let me know what’s expected of me,’ and move on with it. Why have it double dipped?

“We need people. Let’s get them to you.”

Godfrey said clearing City Hall should be the final hurdle.

“It’s not circumventing you as the chief,” he noted. “It’s taking a step out that gets them closer to getting onto the fire department.”

Miller requested the city compensate volunteers by paying for their introductory fire training, which costs $250.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Mayor Pro Tem Charles Pennington said.

At Leonard’s request, the council and fire department will meet in a workshop to further discuss the issues.

“To figure out a set of rules we all agree and operate under, because what’s there now is not,” Leonard said.

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Rhome City Council squabbles over park plaque

For at least the third time, the Rhome City Council discussed the wording for a contributor’s plaque at Veterans Park.

At a meeting last Thursday, Mayor Louis Godfrey presented a rendition he designed which listed the name of the park, its dedication date and six Bronze Star Donors – Robert Troxell, Dr. Andrew Hoover, Greta Barradas, Hawkins Funeral Homes, Heil Trailer International Inc. and Dan Kelly Construction.

In addition, the draft listed members of the park board, city secretary Ramah Burns and designers Louis Godfrey and Dan Kelly Jr.

“You designed it?,” councilman Ronnie Moore asked the mayor.

Godfrey said he did.

“I don’t think so,” Moore retorted. “I believe me and Dan Kelly designed that park, and I believe Charles Pennington helped.”

Godfrey disagreed.

“We put it down on paper long before it was even built,” he said.

Moore shook his head.

“I like to give my credit where credit’s due,” he said. “Take my name off of this. Because you didn’t design it.”

Councilwoman Jo Ann Wilson and Rhome resident Tim Robinson suggested listing only the original $1,000 donors.

“Out of all due respect for those individuals, I think only they should get the recognition,” Robinson said. “Because those people stepped up to the plate and made the larger donation.”

Officials clarified that Dan Kelly Construction and Greta Barradas did not donate money, but rather labor and the land, respectively.

Wilson suggested adding a generic statement thanking all others for their assistance. She also added she would like to see the dedication inscribed on granite.

As she made her suggestions, Moore interrupted.

“I want my name taken off this plaque,” he said. “The reason why is because he did not design this park.”

Without acknowledging his outburst, Wilson said, “That’s my recommendation. This way we do what we said we were going to do.”

When she asked everyone else for their opinion, Moore was the only to express his opinion verbally.

“Sounds good to me,” he said. “Just make sure my name is nowhere close to that plaque. Because I worked a year in that park by myself.”


The council also:

  • reiterated that carports would be approved on a case-by-case basis to make sure they match the house they’re attached to. “If you had a house that is brick or has siding, it should be kind of like that,” Leonard said. “Or if you had a house that’s further out and semi-rural, something less elaborate would be appropriate.” The matter led to a heated discussion in April.
  • scheduled clean-up days for its residents 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Dumpsters will be located at the Rhome Fire Department, 261 School Road. A utility bill must be shown to verify residency.
  • agreed to allow Tele-Span Wireless Internet to set up on the water tower for a trial run. “I think we should let them set up and see what kind of complaints we get before we cut a deal,” Councilwoman Jo Ann Wilson said.
  • approved a payoff of $42,276 to Northwest ISD for ground storage and water lines. “[Because of the current agreement] they only pay 25 percent of their bill,” Burns said. “Last year, we would’ve received $50,000 in cash money. When they’re watering their football fields, their bill may be $9,000. They only pay 25 percent of it.” Jo Ann Wilson added: “It shouldn’t take too long to recoup this money that we’d pay.”
  • authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement on an as-needed basis with “the best building inspector he can come up,” Jo Ann Wilson said. The person would replace Darren Williams, whose last day with the city was Thursday.
  • approved an $8,500 bid to fence property around well No. 5.
  • approved implementing a purchase order system, which requires department head approval for any expense over $250.

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