Rhome City Council approves budget, tax rate

After a long Saturday workshop and some discussion, Rhome officials are ready to move forward with a financial plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

At its meeting Thursday, the city council approved an $1,834,578 budget for 2014-2015.

It will be funded, in part, by a $0.5833 tax rate, also approved at Thursday’s meeting.

Although the overall budget has a surplus of $1,687.55, it features a deficit of $327,423.29 in the police department fund.

Stories on the budget ran in the Wednesay, Aug. 13, and Wednesday, Aug. 6, editions of the Messenger.

Distinguished Citizen

DISTINGUISHED CITIZEN – Rhome officials honored Marie Moore (third from right) with the Distinguished Citizens Award at the city council meeting Thursday. Pictured are her son and councilman Ronnie Moore; city secretary Ramah Burns; Mayor Louis Godfrey; council members David Wilson and Jo Ann Wilson; Moore; and council members Michelle Pittman and Charles Pennington. Messenger photo by Erika Pedroza

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • after an almost two-hour closed session, authorized Mayor Louis Godfrey to submit the proper information about a pavilion at Rhome Family Park to the city’s engineers. Since January, the council has been deliberating how to complete its construction.
  • appointed Renee Marks as an alternate judge;
  • modified, at the request of councilwoman Jo Ann Wilson, the community center rental form so entities that perform “appropriate community service” may use the community center free of charge.
  • recognized Marie Moore with the Distinguished Citizens Award for her longtime service to the community, especially senior citizens.
  • approved implementing a purchase order system and authorizing City Secretary Ramah Burns to explore the options. “It’s a good idea,” said councilwoman Michelle Pittman. ” … It’s a way to track your spending and manage your cash.”
  • approved selling the fire department’s skid unit for $3,500.

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Grabiel Christian Alvarez Lopez

Luis and Maria Alvarez of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Grabiel Christian Alvarez Lopez, on Aug. 10, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

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

Grandparents are Eleazar and Silvia Alvarez and Alejandro and Victoria Lopez.

Great-grandparents are Agustin and Manuela Alvarez, Manuel and Delfina Lucio, Federico and Juanita Monsivais, and Artemio and Esperanza Lopez.

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Rhome City Council to vote on budget

With the exception of the police department fund, Rhome city officials are projecting surplus budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

The numbers were presented at a budget workshop held earlier this month.

While the PD is looking at a budget deficit of $327,423.29, the court fund has an excess of $176,000, with expenses projected at $177,130 and anticipated revenue at $355,000.

The city anticipates collecting $350,000 on warrants, up $60,000 from the amount budgeted last year.

The water and sewer fund looks to generate $942,600 while spending $918,765.99.

Fire department revenue went from $122,400 budgeted last year to $162,000.

Expenditures are tabbed at $149,951, with the biggest increase a $1,000 bump for training personnel.

In general fund expenses, the city forecasts collecting double the amount on permits – from $25,000 to $50,000.

“There’s been about five businesses that have talked to us,” City Secretary Ramah Burns said. “I believe that as much all the growth is coming out this way, that’s a fair figure.”

—–

The council will consider action on the proposed budget during its regular meeting Thursday.

In addition, they will consider retaining the $0.5833 interest and sinking and $0.4083 maintenance and operations tax rate.

The meeting will begin with a closed session discussion on potential litigation with the park pavilion/concrete and personnel.

In open session, the council will consider those matters as well as water/sewer projects; appointing an alternate judge; purchasing an order system; community center rentals; and selling a skid unit to another fire department.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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Man charged in Reunion stabbing

A Rhome man turned himself in to Decatur Police Tuesday in connection with a July 25 stabbing at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion.

Derry Shannon Jones Jr.

Derry Shannon Jones Jr., 42, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and booked into Wise County Jail. He was released on a $35,000 bond.

Decatur Police Detective Daniel Sandate said Jones was allegedly taking beer from people’s coolers without permission. Just before midnight, he was confronted about it by Chris Fletcher of Slidell.

According to Sandate, the two got into a fight, and Jones pulled a knife, stabbing Fletcher in the hand and grazing his torso, across his stomach and back.

There were multiple witnesses to the incident, one of whom said, “Jones did stab Fletcher and continued to sling the knife at Fletcher,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Sandate said the knife was not recovered, but witnesses thought it was a pocketknife.

No medical treatment was administered at the scene, but Fletcher was later taken to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

The affidavit says Fletcher received 12 stitches in his left thumb and suffered “small abrasions on his upper abdomen and mid, left side on his back.”

Although Jones was identified the night of the incident, he fled the scene after the fight.

Sandate said after an investigation confirmed that Jones was the person involved, an arrest warrant was issued July 30, and he turned himself in Aug. 5.

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Linda Gail Smith

Linda Gail Smith

Linda Gail Smith, 63, a retired supervisor for the Tarrant County Appraisal Review Board, died Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Rhome.

Funeral was Aug. 8 at the First Baptist Church in Aurora with the Revs. Jimmy Withers and Phillip Weitner officiating. Burial followed at Aurora Cemetery under the direction of Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd.

Pallbearers were Joe Best, Tim Taylor, Paul Young, Justin Thompson, Dawson Thompson and Chad Dyer. Honorary pallbearer was Cannon Green.

Linda was born Feb. 3, 1951, in Longview to Clifton Leon and Dorothy (Farrar) Nix. She married David Smith April 28, 1990, in Arlington.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Dorothy Nix; sister Rosemary Nix Green; and nephew Steven Epperson.

She is survived by her husband of 24 years, David Smith of Aurora; daughter Lydia Dyer of Fort Worth; granddaughters Rachel and Krista Dyer; her father, Clifton Leon Nix of Chandler; sisters Barbara Nix of Chandler, Donna Best of North Richland Hills, Kathy Wilder of Lindale and Cindy Reeder of Chandler; brothers Roy Nix of Troup and James Wisdom of Marshall; numerous nieces and nephews; and other family members and friends.

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Talon Lee Ryan

Christina and Justin Ryan of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Talon Lee, on July 31, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

Grandparents are Jerry and Liz Harper and Kellie Pogue.

Great-grandparents are Nelden Brown, Virgina Harper and LeRoy and Eileen Byrne.

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Wreck sends 3 to hospital

Wreck sends 3 to hospital

Three people were injured in a two-vehicle, head-on collision near Rhome Monday.

The accident happened in a construction zone on Texas 114 about a mile east of the Denton/Wise county line around 9:40 a.m.

Major Damage

MAJOR DAMAGE – The two vehicles that collided on Texas 114 near Rhome sustained major damage. The cause of the wreck is still under investigation. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lonny Haschel said Bambi Trotter, 39, of Rhome was eastbound when her Chevy Tahoe collided with a westbound Chevy Equinox driven by Francisco Guerrero, 34, of Euless.

Trotter’s vehicle ended up on its side in the ditch on the south side of the road, while Guerrero’s remained upright but badly damaged in the center of the roadway. Rescuers had to cut the roof off of Trotter’s vehicle to remove her and her 1-year-old son.

Air Evac Lifeteam 68 was called to the scene, and Trotter was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. She was listed in serious condition Tuesday afternoon according to a hospital spokesperson.

Her son was taken to Cook Children’s Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Haschel said.

Guerrero was transported to JPS by Wise County Medic 3. He was listed in good condition Tuesday afternoon, according to the hospital spokesperson.

The cause of the wreck is still under investigation, Haschel said.

Traffic was rerouted in the area for a couple of hours while the scene was cleared.

Justin and Rhome volunteer fire departments responded along with Rhome Police, DPS troopers and the Denton County Sheriff’s Department.

Victim Transport

VICTIM TRANSPORT – Bambi Trotter, the driver of one of the two cars involved in Monday’s wreck, is wheeled to a helicopter for transport to John Peter Smith Hospital. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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Rhome City Council eyes surplus budget

In planning for the upcoming fiscal year, the Rhome City Council is looking at a budget deficit of more than $300,000 for the court/police department.

But they plan to spend less than the projected revenue in the other accounts – general fund and fire – for an overall surplus budget.

Following a budget workshop Saturday morning, the council is looking at bringing in $2,778,866 while spending $2,753,344.

More than a quarter of those expenditures are for the court/police fund. The city expects to spend $732,423.29 for a department that should generate only $405,000.

The biggest increase is $20,000 for a “new auto loan,” which was budgeted at $25,531 this past year. The city will again pay $25,531 on the note for an already purchased Chevrolet Tahoe, and the additional $20,000 will go toward purchasing another vehicle to establish a rotation.

“I’m taking the older vehicles, and those are the only ones that are going to be in service. I’m trying to stretch these vehicles as far as I can,” Police Chief Brandon Davis said. “With that being said, we have three vehicles that are either approaching or over 200,000 miles, and 200,000 miles on a police vehicle and personal vehicle are two different things.”

In the new system, the department plans to purchase a vehicle every two years and remove the most worn vehicle from the fleet.

“At 200,000 miles, I don’t think I’d want to go down a highway at 100 miles an hour,” said Ronnie Moore. “The front end can’t be very strong.”

The budget also sets aside $10,000 – up $3,000 from last year’s budgeted amount – for vehicle repairs.

“That has increased for obvious reasons,” Mayor Louis Godfrey said. “There wasn’t really anything being done to them [the vehicles].”

There is also a line item for a $14,000 note payment for COPsync, an information-sharing law enforcement network that is expected to drastically reduce the number of man-hours used in data input.

The software “efficiently gathers information at the point of incident and immediately shares data with officers on the network.” It can also serve as a safety alert system, with a GPS-based vehicle locater and automated ticketing features.

The council also OK’d an increase of $2,000 for a total of $3,000 for uniforms.

“What we’re moving to is the vest carriers where they come in to work at the office, they can take their vest off,” Davis said.

Davis also requested an increase of $4,000 – up from $1,000 – for training that includes management, a chief’s course, a field training officer, bike school, etc.

Allotments for equipment repair also increased from $1,000 to $5,000, while money budgeted for equipment itself jumped $1,498 to $10,000.

In addition, anticipated improvements budgeted at $20,000 to the police station will come from the general fund.

This will remove and replace insulation in the ceiling that has been “contaminated with cat urine.”

Savings made in the department include reductions in gas and utilities.

With a couple of months left in the current fiscal year, the department has spent $32,126.22 of the budgeted $35,000 amount for gas. However the police chief believes his department will stay under the $31,200 allotted for next year.

“I don’t think there is any reason why we would go over $31,000, especially since the vehicles are no longer take-home vehicles and there is going to be a required two hours of foot time per shift,” Davis said.

More on the budget for the city of Rhome will be included in an upcoming issue.

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Info sought on burglaries

Wise County Sheriff’s Office investigators are looking for information leading to the arrest of suspects responsible for a burglary on July 30 off Joy Road in Rhome.

The suspects knocked to see if anyone was home and then kicked in the door. Security cameras recorded the suspect vehicle pulling into the driveway and also recorded suspects crossing the property to the garage.

To view surveillance videos of the suspects, visit wcmess.com/burglaryvid and wcmess.com/burglaryvid2.

The incident is similar to a burglary July 22 on Saddlebrook Court in New Fairview. The suspects in that burglary were described as two large black males driving a blue sedan type vehicle. Area residents described the same people knocking on doors in the area to see if anyone was home. If a homeowner answered the door, the suspects asked if they needed their lawn mowed.

It is not known if the two burglaries are related.

To report information about either burglary or the individuals responsible, contact Wise County Crime Stoppers at 800-643-TIPS or 940-627-TIPS (8477) 24 hours a day. A reward of up to $1,500 may be given for tips leading to an arrest.

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Tanner Sims

Tanner Sims

Tanner Sims, 13, of Rhome, died Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Azle.

Funeral is 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at Lucas Funeral Home in Keller with cremation to follow.

Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Tanner was born Oct. 17, 2000, in Fort Worth.

He was preceded in death by grandparents Lowell and Beverly Davis.

Survivors include his parents, Jim and Tamara Sims; brother Chaz Sims; grandparents Jim and D’Lane Sims; and buddies Benelli, Remi and Zain. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He was a friend to many and will be missed by all.

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Anthony Ozil Cordero

Salome Cordero and Karen Sanchez of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Anthony Ozil Cordero, on July 28, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long.

He has one brother: Alex Chavarria, 2.

Grandparents are Charles Hudgins, Maria Hudgins, Belen Cordero and Julian Cordero.

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Ryker Ross McNair

Tyler and Lydia McNair of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Ryker Ross, on July 25, 2014 at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long.

He has two brothers: Brayden, 6, and Wesley, 3.

Grandparents are Vern and Kim McNair of Rhome, Rick and Heather Cressy of Hopkinton, N.H., and Jerry and Betsy Voth of Middletown, Ind.

Great-grandparents are Sue Ann Clements-Pendley, Jone Spence and Donald Syphers.

Great-great-grandparents are Decatur and Anna Bell Clements.

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Juaquin Guillermo Gonzalez

Christina and Ruperto Gonzalez of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Juaquin Guillermo, on July 23, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long.

He has two brothers: Erik Isaak, 11, and Ruperto Jr., 5; and one sister: Addy, 7.

Grandparents are Aurora and Armando Martinez of Bridgeport and Adelaida and Conrrado Gonzalez of Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico.

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Courtney Massie and Brandon Ford

Courtney Massie of Rhome, daughter of Andrea Davis of Rhome and Greg Massie of Denton, will marry Brandon Ford of Rhome, son of Trina and Sean Ford of Chico, Oct. 3, 2015, in Bowie.

Massie Engagement

Courtney Massie and Brandon Ford

The bride-elect attended Decatur High School. She works for Wise Electric Co-op.

The prospective groom also attended DHS. He works for Cash America.

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Area students make TWU dean’s lists

Texas Woman’s University has released its dean’s and chancellor’s list for the Spring 2014 semester, and 15 Wise County students made the grade.

Undergraduate students who complete at least 12 hours and achieve at least a 3.5 grade-point average are eligible for the dean’s list.

Students who earn a 4.0 GPA are named to the chancellor’s list.

Those making the lists from Wise County, and their majors, were:

Alvord: Vanessa Alberts, sociology

Boyd: Alyssa Lomerson, social work; Kristina West, nursing (4.0)

Bridgeport: Angelica Reyes, dental hygiene (4.0), Kristie Sandoval, interdisciplinary studies

Decatur: Maria Arellano, interdisciplinary studies (4.0); Kari Gage, interdisciplinary studies (4.0); Megan Maxwell, business administration/marketing; Rachel McGregor, interdisciplinary studies (4.0); Katlyn Sanders, interdisciplinary studies (4.0); Kitara Wright, communication sciences (4.0)

Justin: Cherlyn Fraser, health studies (4.0); Amanda Harris, communication sciences (4.0); Gennel Lassen, interdisciplinary studies; Julie Nolting, interdisciplinary studies (4.0); Kiara Reed, fashion merchandising; Paula Scotton, nursing (4.0): Esther Simental, dental hygiene (4.0); Nikki Vasquez, art (4.0); Erin Wages, child development (4.0); and Maggie Watkins, interdisciplinary studies (4.0)

Paradise: Taylor Blount, nutrition (4.0); Saira Fernandez, undeclared

Rhome: Bettina Davis, dance; Maritza Mauricio, business administration

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Library offers summer storytime

Every Thursday at 2:30 p.m., groups of children file into the Rhome public library to listen to Daniabelle Hromanik tell stories.

Family Time

FAMILY TIME – Kyra Cole and her great-grandmother Delores McKinnon read a story together Thursday at the Rhome public library. Cole later listened to a story from volunteer Daniabelle Hromanik as part of the library’s summer reading program. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hromanik, a Rhome library volunteer and English teacher at Bridgeport Intermediate School, held the first storytelling day June 10. She volunteered to start the program after the previous librarian, Linda Gillespie, died in her car after work in March. Gillespie had done the summer reading program in addition to her other duties.

Janice Wilson, a library board member, said they almost didn’t have a reading program this summer.

“We wanted [a reading program] so badly, but we lost our librarian in March, so we didn’t have someone to do it,” Wilson said. “We were just delighted, just beside ourselves [when Hromanik volunteered].”

On this particular Thursday, Hromanik told the story of the Little Red Hen – the classic barnyard work-ethic tale. A crowd of 13 children acted out different animals’ parts as they smiled and listened.

“It’s fun just to see the kids enjoy the stories and smile and get into it,” Hromanik said.

A jar of marbles sat on a table beside Hromanik as she read. Children who want to participate bring a list of each book they’ve read throughout the week and get to drop a marble in the jar for each book. Hromanik said this is one way to motivate the children to enjoy reading.

“We just want to encourage reading in the community for the kids,” Hromanik said.

Story and craft time is every Thursday from 2:30 to 3:30 at the Rhome Public Library. Children 11 years and younger are allowed to participate – younger children must be accompanied by an adult.

A hot dog supper is planned for the children and their parents Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.

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Layla Dawn Tennyson

Vanessa Schluter and Sarjay Tennyson of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Layla Dawn Tennyson, on July 14, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

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

Grandparents are Van and Shela Schluter of Rhome and Caudis and Samantha Tennyson of Fort Worth.

Great-grandparents are Martha Page of Lubbock and Marline Miller of Briar.

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New chief looks to build professionalism

There’s a new police chief in town, and he brings with him a rigid military structure he hopes will bring “positive changes” to the department.

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

Within a few days, Davis met with his troops – eight full-time officers and four reserves – to outline the goals and changes he plans to bring about.

“This is pretty much how we plan things in the military,” said Davis, who is in the middle of transitioning out of the U.S. Army after 20 years of service. “When we plan our training for a year out, we have to set ourselves goals like this. We set our near-term goals, which is 30 days or less; short-term, 60 days; long-term, 90 days; and then the way-ahead goals, a year or more out.”

Shortly after that first meeting, Davis and his officers knocked out the near-term goals – which included polishing the appearance of police headquarters, the force and the equipment they use.

“If you would’ve pulled into the parking lot about a month ago, you would’ve seen the building look like it’s about to fall down, cars that would’ve been willy-nilly parked every which way you want,” Davis said. “But when you pull in now, you see not only the facilities looking better, a new fence that secures our facility lot and the cars are backed in at the ready. At any time, we can jump in a car and take off, if we need to.”

Another huge improvement Davis hopes to make is the implementation of COPsync, an information-sharing law enforcement network that is expected to drastically reduce the number of man-hours used in data input.

The software “efficiently gathers information at the point of incident and immediately shares data with officers on the network” and can also serve as an offices safety alert system, GPS-based vehicle locator and automated ticketing features.

It is expected to cost $45,000 to $55,000.

Council will vote on the matter at a special session to be held 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at City Hall.

“This council is really wanting to make this a premiere police department, and we’re going to get there,” Davis said. “They all saw the need for that COPsync packages, that’s going to be the start. We’re all going to get on the same sheet of music as far as police operations go.

“When you look at the overall benefit and the time saved in man-hours alone, probably in three months that’s going to pay for itself,” he continued. “The council sees that. They’re smart. They know what’s right and wrong. I think what they’re happy to see is someone with energy, motivated to come in here and make things right.

“They understand that my motivation is that everything is going to be TCOLE compliant (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement).”

That motivation is behind many of the short-term goals, which include transparent budget reviews, updating personnel files, compliant and streamlined uniforms and developing a training plan for all officers.

In the long-term, Davis is looking at squad replacement and implementing an interfacing records management system and impound lot.

In the “way-ahead,” he will consider building expansion or relocation and specialized units.

“If an administrator of any type of department is not thinking towards the future, then they have no business being there,” Davis said. “I’m not the chief that thinks six months out. I’m the guy that thinks 10 years out and to set up that infrastructure to meet those goals 10 years from now. And that’s what my focus is. That’s what the city council’s focus is. And a lot of citizens aren’t understanding of that.

” … Those (goals) are right out of my head,” he continued. “I didn’t plagiarize anybody. It’s what I saw the need was for this department and put it down on paper.”

But whether Davis and his team are working to accomplish a task next week or in the next decade, a few concepts drive all that they do including community-oriented policing, community engagemenent, transparency and capitalizing on the strengths of his officers.

“I want my guys out there stopping their cars, getting out and talking to citizens,” he said. “One of the things we’ve heard is that you don’t see the police until you’re getting pulled over and they’re writing you a ticket.

“That is changing.”

DAVIS’ BACKGROUND

Upon graduating from Slidell High School, Davis attended Paris Junior College for a year.

“Parents couldn’t afford to send me to school, and I didn’t want to get student loans, so I signed up for the Army. ‘Let Uncle Sam pay for it,’ I thought,” Davis said.

He remained on active duty for seven years before deciding to return to school at the University of North Texas, which is where he began his law enforcement career.

“I worked as a police officer full-time (12-hour shifts); I was in the reserves; and I was going to school full-time (12 to 15 hours) at North Texas,” Davis said. “That’s where I got my law enforcement experience to start off with. It was top-of-the-line law enforcement techniques and training.”

After graduating from UNT in 2006, he was commissioned as an officer in the reserves two years later.

“I commissioned as an MP (military police) because I had police experience, plus military,” Davis said. “When you go in as an officer in the military policy, they don’t train you for going out and doing law enforcement. It is all admin stuff.”

He brings those strengths to his new role. Although it is a temporary position, he is confident that he can improve the department.

“They’re getting a good taste of a combination of civilian law enforcement, plus military structure of equipment accountability, fleet management – a lot of the things that this department had not had for a long time, if ever,” he said. ” … Essentially, I’m pretty much volunteering to do this right now. But I have no doubt in my mind that whenever that time comes, (the city council is) going to offer me a job.

“They’re seeing the change, and our town needed this. Our town needed some structure in the police department.

” … All the skeptics are going to see in the future the difference it’s made … The public needs to know – Wise County needs to know – that Rhome is not going to be anybody’s stepping stone anymore. We’re going to do things right. We’re going to show everyone that we’re professional.”

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Lillyann Marie Vines

Matthew Vines and Rachael Parnell of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Lillyann Marie Vines, on July 5, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long.

She has two brothers, Jerad Walker, 6, and Christopher Walker, 4; and a sister, Elizabeth Walker, 9.

Grandparents are Kim Parnell of Bridgeport, and Joel Roberts and Tanya Buethe-Vines, both of Rhome.

Great-grandparents are Mickey and Julia Parnell.

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Cole Dean Haak

Roger and Marah Haak of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Cole Dean, on June 17, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 3/4 inches long.

He has a sister, Charlii Rae Haak, 7.

Grandparents are Mike and Jenni Studebaker of Muenster, Willie And Starla Haak of Alvord, and Terry Bullard of Jacksboro.

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