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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Kathryn Kinnard

Kathryn Kinnard

Kathryn Kinnard, 49, of Rhome, died Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Decatur.

Memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at Aurora Baptist Church with the Rev. Jimmy Withers officiating.

Kathryn was born Feb. 23, 1965, in Ruidoso, N.M., to James and Louanne (Wood) Hegwer. She was a member of the Aurora Baptist Church.

She was preceded in death by her mother; her grandparents, Lonnie and Nita Wood; and her aunt, Ricki Arnold.

Survivors include her son, Julian Kinnard of Irving; her father, Jack Hegwer of San Antonio; sister Kimberly Houghtaling of Rhome; nieces Sarah Houghtaling of Rhome and K.C. Houghtaling of Bridgeport; nephew Jamie Spencer of Houston; and other family members and friends.

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1 dies in 4-vehicle wreck

1 dies in 4-vehicle wreck

A Rhome woman was killed in a four-vehicle wreck on Texas 114, just east of the Wise/Denton County line Monday afternoon.

Jamie Richardson, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Monday Wreck

MONDAY WRECK – Firefighters extricated David McMinn of Richland Hills from the cab of the semi he was driving before wheeling him away to be treated. Investigators said McMinn crossed into oncoming traffic, clipping another semi and striking two other vehicles. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

She was the driver of a westbound passenger car, one of three vehicles struck by an eastbound rock hauler that crossed into oncoming traffic.

The driver of the 18-wheeler, David McMinn, 60, of Richland Hills, was flown by helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

He was listed in fair condition Tuesday morning.

It is unknown why McMinn crossed into the westbound lane.

According to Sgt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety, as McMinn moved into the opposite lane of traffic, he clipped a westbound semi, then struck the Hyundai Elantra, driven by Richardson, and a Chevrolet Tahoe traveling behind the Hyundai.

The Tahoe landed on its side. The driver, Gaylon Presson, 40, of Boyd, was treated at the scene along with the driver of the westbound semi, Richard Grady, 49, of Del Valle.

The rock hauler overturned and dumped its load on 114.

The crash is currently under investigation.

Rhome fire and police departments as well as Wise County sheriff’s deputies and medics assisted Denton County officials with the wreck. Emergency responders were dispatched about 6:45 p.m.

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Rhome City Council Preview

Carports are again on the agenda for the Rhome City Council, which meets Thursday. Officials will also discuss restructuring the fire department, paying off Northwest ISD for ground storage and water lines, cleaning up the city and other business. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 105 First St.

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EMS employee faces assault charge

A man whose job is to provide medical care to those in emergency situations stands accused of assaulting a Boyd man earlier this summer.

Jeff Todd Wright

Jeff Todd Wright, 40, of Rhome was arraigned Tuesday in 271st District Court on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was indicted by a Wise County grand jury July 24.

Wright is a part-time employee of Wise County EMS. He was not on duty at the time of the alleged assault on June 20.

According to the indictment, Wright assaulted Chris Williams of Boyd with his hand, which constitutes a deadly weapon.

The indictment did not provide further details, but Williams gives his account of what transpired in an affidavit filed July 24 in support of a protective order he filed against Wright.

Williams stated he arrived at the home of his ex-wife, in the 100 block of Old Chisholm Court in Rhome, the afternoon of June 20 to pick up his daughter. He was not allowed by the court to enter the property, so he waited at the street.

Wright, who is married to Williams’ ex-wife, arrived and told Williams his daughter was on vacation.

“I told him I wouldn’t leave without my daughter, so I sat down in front of Jeff’s truck in the street,” Williams states in the affidavit.

At that point, Williams said Wright got back into his truck and began to drive over him, pushing him up the driveway.

“Jeff kept pushing me up the drive as I was being dragged under the front bumper of his truck,” Williams stated. ” … I looked back over my shoulder and could see my daughter … standing at the front window and looking out of the curtain and I started screaming out very loud for her to help me.”

Williams said Wright stopped the truck and walked around to where Williams was still laying under the front bumper of the truck and started kicking him in his face and head. Wright then began to punch Williams in the face, according to the affidavit.

“At some point after Jeff stopped kicking me in the head and punching me in the face, he asked me if I wanted an ambulance and I said yes,” Williams stated in the affidavit. “Jeff called some number, and I heard him say he needed an ambulance, that I trespassed and he took me out.”

Williams said that if he tried to move, Wright would punch him in the face. When help arrived, Williams said he recalled hearing someone say that he needed to be taken to the hospital by helicopter because he might die.

The affidavit concludes by saying he was scared for his children, who were living in the home with Wright.

While a temporary protective order was issued with a hearing scheduled for July 30, nothing was on file in the district clerk’s office to indicate if a longer protective order had been issued.

In addition to the affidavit, Williams included in the court records photos taken not long after the assault which appear to show his swollen, cut and bloodied face.

According to Wise County EMS Administrator Charles Dillard, Wright is a former full-time employee of Wise County EMS who left several years ago and then began working on an “as needed” basis about six months ago. Dillard said Wright is a full-time member of the Keller Fire Department.

Dillard said that since Wright has not been convicted, he remains employed on a part-time basis with Wise County EMS.

“He hasn’t posed any issues at work,” Dillard said. ” … If he’s found guilty, that will be a violation of our code of conduct, and he would be terminated at that time.”

Wright was arrested July 30 and released on a $10,000 bond the same day, according to Wise County Jail records.

No trial date has been set.

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Bekeh Lynn Seers

Lance and Cindy Seers of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Bekeh Lynn, on Sept. 3, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 inches long.

She has one brother: Zachary James, 12; and two sisters: Sarah Ann, 8, and Hannah Jean, 5.

Grandparents are Debbie and David Ricketts of Emory and Becky and Jim Aldridge of Las Vegas.

Great-grandparents are Billy Ray and Billie Jean Seers of Alba, Anita Nott of Emory and Allen and Marjorie Aldridge of Las Vegas.

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Rhome council, fire dept. work to get on same page

The Rhome fire chief will stay and the department – along with other city officials – has formulated a plan to address “problems” that have plagued it.

Days after submitting his resignation, Jason Miller called an emergency meeting Thursday to formalize his decision to remain as chief of the volunteer department.

That evening, members of the fire department and city council gathered at the fire hall to discuss ways to increase membership and open lines of communication.

Miller, who was named interim fire chief in April, said that as long as he’s served with the department, membership has held between six and nine. The number on the roster has remained at six “for a long time.”

At the meeting Thursday, Councilman Charles Pennington stepped up to serve.

Mayor Louis Godfrey said he and Councilwoman Jo Ann Wilson are working on flyers and “out doing things” to recruit members, while Councilman David Wilson is “thinking about signing up” and Councilman Ronnie Moore “might.”

Moore was the only member of the city council not present at Thursday’s meeting.

In January, the council met to discuss the right of a city council member to also volunteer as a member of fire department after Moore had argued that serving on both constitutes a conflict of interest.

Councilwoman Michelle Pittman, who was on the council then, was and continues to be a volunteer firefighter.

“The support is there, and it has been extended many times by Charles and others,” Godfrey said. “If you need help, let us know. We can’t help if you don’t ask for it.

“I think it’s important that we all understand that we all want to work together,” he added. “The council is behind you. I’m behind you. We just need to be better informed. If you have a problem, address it as quickly as possible.”

Godfrey said he felt recruiting and retaining volunteers for the department would be the responsibility of both the fire department and the council.

To expedite the process, Godfrey at City Hall said he will handle all applications for the fire department.

“I think it’s best that every application, they come to City Hall, they fill it out, we’ll run the background checks really fast and get this thing done … If things come back OK, I’ll get the word to you as quick as possible, there you go,” he told Miller.

“I’ll keep copies. If you guys absolutely have to have copies, then I’ll make you copies. I’ll keep the originals in my office.

“That’s the fastest way to do it,” he continued. “I think we’ve had some problems with applications being filled out then you don’t get the time to bring them to City Hall or the council getting to look at them. We can alleviate a lot of that.

“The whole idea is to fast-track, get rid of the red tape, get them on here, get them useful.”

But the bigger idea is to work together to “ensure citizens have the level of service they deserve.”

“I think the key to making this work is communication,” Pennington said. “Lets just keep an open line of communication. I think we’ll have a great relationship and move our fire department forward and grow it to make it the biggest, best we’ve ever had.”


Rhome Fire Department is conducting a membership drive during the Labor Day weekend. Rhome firefighters will be at Shale Creek 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday. Applications will be available on site.

Those who attend can meet the volunteer firefighters and see the fire truck.

Applications are also available at the Rhome Fire Station, 261 N. School Road, over Labor Day weekend or at Rhome City Hall, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Rhome City Council ratifies mayor’s decisions

After meeting behind closed doors for almost three hours Monday, the Rhome City Council breezed through the four action items on its agenda in less than three minutes.

The only action coming from the executive session was to proceed with a $10,000 bid for fencing presented by Public Works Director Sam Dorsett, as “advised on a TCEQ report.”

Also during the special meeting, the council ratified raises given to city employees and hires made by Mayor Louis Godfrey without prior council approval.

During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, five police officers received a raise, based on their tenure and the salaries of officers in surrounding towns, according to City Secretary Ramah Burns.

Godfrey also hired Dorsett to replace Preston Gilliam; Brandon Davis to take over as police chief, the post previously held by James Rose; and Sherrie Dast, who took over as the city’s municipal court clerk after the retirement of Sherry Taylor.

“This is just some housekeeping,” council member Jo Ann Wilson said. “Inasmuch as these were replacement hirings and in the best interest of the city … let’s ratify these.”

City attorney Walt Leonard also advised the council to clarify that “the interpretation of the ‘hiring freeze’ is for additional hires as opposed to replacing turnover.”

The council also amended a city ordinance regulating parades and processions so that city-sponsored events were not required to pull a permit.

“But they would coordinate with the police department for safety,” Wilson said.

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