Driver cited after plowing into firetruck

A Rhome Volunteer Fire Department vehicle was struck Saturday morning on its way to a medical emergency.

Chief Robert Pratt was driving Rhome’s Rescue 17 truck when it was hit in the passenger side by a red Honda Civic, driven by Roy Graham of Newark. The collision occurred at the intersection of Main and Second Streets in Rhome. No one was injured.

“Everyone is OK,” Pratt said.

Pratt was responding to a CPR-in-progress call for an unresponsive 36-year-old. Wise County medics and Newark firefighters responded to the medical call.

Rhome Police Chief James Rose said the rescue truck was headed east on Second with lights and sirens activated. Graham was headed north on Main.

“Graham plowed into the side of the truck,” Rose said. “He said he didn’t see [the firetruck].”

The impact warped the frame of the firetruck and collapsed the front end of the passenger car.

Rose said Graham was cited for failure to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle.

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Lance Aaron Bias

Lance Aaron Bias

Lance Aaron Bias, 27, of Rhome, died Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 after a two-year battle with leukemia.

Funeral will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Full Armor Biker Church in Alvord, with burial under the direction of Alexander’s Midway Funeral Home.

Lance was born Oct. 6, 1986, in Shamrock and worked as a diesel mechanic and in the oilfield before he got sick. He loved to ride four-wheelers and motorcycles and to spend time with his daughter, niece and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, William Bias; and grandmother Stella Kohli.

He is survived by his mother, Karen Bias of St. Marys, Ohio; daughter Zephanie Bias of Decatur; brother Chris Bias and wife, Kristin, of Decatur; sisters Felicia Scott and husband, Grady, of Decatur, and Amber Reardon of Decatur; grandparents Pauline Bias of Wellington and Richard Kohli and wife, Gloria, of Waverly, Tenn.; niece Marissia Bias; and nephews Noah Reardon and Nickolas Scott.

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Roberta Lindsey

Roberta Lindsey

Roberta Lindsey, 97, of Rhome, died Monday, March 10, 2014, in Grapevine.

Funeral is 10 a.m. Friday, March 14, at Rhome Church of Christ with burial at Dido Cemetery. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Pallbearers are John Wilson, Gage Harris, Dustin Remillard, Adam Remillard, Ross Lindsey and Neil Foster.

Honorary pallbearers are Rob Lindsey and Lincoln Harris.

Roberta was born April 17, 1916, in Newark to Robert and Ora (Earp) Hudson. She married Max Lindsey Sr. in 1938, and they were married for 49 years until his death in 1987. She married Preston Drinkard in 1996, and they were married seven years until he died in 2003.

Roberta enjoyed fishing and was also an avid bowler who did not give up the sport until the age of 94. She was a member of the Rhome Church of Christ and is the granddaughter of one of Wise County’s earliest settlers, J.J. Hudson.

Left behind to cherish her memory are her daughters, Donna Von Bloch of Keller, Wanda Foster and husband, Richard, of Rhome, and Ann Draudt and husband, Doug, of Colleyville; sons Max Lindsey and wife, Beverly, of Rhome and Craig Lindsey and wife, Mona, of Colleyville; 10 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husbands Max Lindsey Sr. and Preston Drinkard; grandson Will Harris; and sisters Vesta Laster, Nell Huddleston and Sarah Wilson.

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Norma Jean Harvey Matthews

Norma Jean Harvey Matthews

Norma Jean Harvey Matthews, 85, of Rhome, died Monday, March 10, 2014, in a Decatur nursing facility.

Memorial service is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at Christian-Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd with John Stewart officiating.

Norma was born June 19, 1928, in Newark to P.L. and Ima Irene (Ford) Harvey. She married William Ivan Matthews June 22, 1946, in Tarrant County.

She was a homemaker.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; daughter Suzy Burk; and two brothers, Harold and Jerry Harvey.

Survivors include daughter Melba Matthews Pitts and husband, Robert, of Aurora; grandsons Justin Burk and wife Sandi, of Decatur, and Cody Burk and wife, Emily, of Glendale, Ariz.; granddaughters Tiffany Machart of Dallas and Lindsay Clark of Fort Worth; great-grandchildren Savannah, Colton, Ramsay, Caroline and Brady Burk; brother Ronnie Harvey and wife Sue, of Rhome; and other relatives and friends.

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Wise County teen rodeos for a reason

Every fan knows it takes more to succeed at rodeo than just what meets the eye – more than the skill to toss a loop over the head of a running calf, wrestle a steer to the ground, mount an angry bull or guide a horse around three hairpin turns marked by barrels.

It takes a reason, and 16-year-old Sarah Jennings has one.

Rounding the Bend

ROUNDING THE BEND – Sarah Jennings brings her barrel horse, Cowboy, around the course at a recent competition. Submitted photo

Sarah is a barrel racer, and for over a year now, she’s been riding to increase awareness of childhood cancer. In last year’s Wise County Youth Fair Rodeo, she rode for her friend, Morgan Wildmon of Rhome, who was battling brain cancer.

This year, she’ll ride in Morgan’s memory.

Morgan and Sarah met at a 4-H event three years ago. Last year when Sarah was introduced at the Youth Fair Rodeo, the announcer told the audience about Morgan, whose initials were embroidered on Sarah’s shirt.

COWBOY AND COWGIRL – Sarah Jennings said her barrel horse, Cowboy, was “stolen” from her dad. He’s the first horse she’s trained herself, and this will be his first full season on the circuit. Submitted photo

They’re still there, as Sarah still rides as part of the Rodeo For A Reason movement. But last June, a little more than a month before her 13th birthday, cancer claimed Morgan’s life.

“She loved horses, but she would never get to do it – it was physically impossible for her,” Sarah said. “When I found out about Rodeo For a Reason, I thought it would be a great thing to ride for her.”

Rodeo For a Reason was founded by pro barrel racer Kendra Dickson of Aubrey and her friend and fellow barrel racer Chrystal Hall.

In 2007, Dickson and Hall began hosting free barrel racing clinics, giving away T-shirts, belt buckles, bits, Bibles, saddles and even trailers. After a few years, they started asking students to bring food items for a local shelter or to raise money for a designated charity.

The group unites rodeo athletes with causes that serve a greater purpose and reach people in need. Sarah already knew Morgan when she met Dickson at a barrel race. RFR was a natural for her.

“I thought it was a cool idea,” Sarah said. “I liked it. It’s not just for the glory for yourself.”

When she turned to Kendra for help with a horse problem, she learned more than just horsemanship.

“Whenever she would help you, she would give you a little bracelet that said RFR, and there was a Bible verse on the back,” Sarah said.

Sarah and her family have stayed in touch, worked together and now Karen, Sarah’s mom, is on the board of RFR.

The group’s most recent campaign, “Gold Fire,” has become so popular that numerous competitors in the recent National Finals Rodeo wore gold ribbons to raise awareness of childhood cancer – and many are also pledging a percentage of their winnings for the cause.

“Barrel racers do have a stigma,” Karen said. “Especially with the new TV show ‘Rodeo Girls’ – we just groan. I think Kendra and what she’s doing and her group, they’re trying to break the mold.”

Karen said there’s a lot more to barrel racers than bling.

“There’s a lot of women out there who are barrel racing that are fantastic horse people,” she said. “These girls are horsemen. That’s why Kendra and these girls are doing this. It’s Rodeo for a Reason.”

In this year’s Youth Fair Rodeo, scheduled March 7-8, Sarah will compete in both barrels and breakaway roping. A barrel racer since the age of 10, she’ll be going for a championship buckle – but it won’t be her first, and not likely her last.

“My goal is by the time I turn 18 to get my pro card,” she said. “You can turn pro and still college rodeo.” She’d like to attend Tarleton State University, competing in rodeo while she earns a degree in ag business.

She stresses that no matter the event, no matter the age, you can always rodeo for a reason. Sarah recommends RFR’s Facebook page as a starting point for any competitor who wants to get involved in RFR.

“Even though barrel racers started this, you don’t have to be a barrel racer,” she said. “You can do anything. I would like to see it spread – calf-roping, bull riding, bronc riding – you can each rodeo for a cause that’s important to you.

“You ride for what’s personal,” she said. “I think that’s something great, and I want to see it spread. I think it would make a difference, the more people we can get.”

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Lillian Carol Hawk

Adrienne Henson and Austin Hawk of Rhome announce the birth of a daughter, Lillian Carol Hawk, on Feb. 20, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds and was 19 inches long.

She has one sister: Brooklyn Hawk, 3.

Grandfather is William Hawk of Rhome.

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51 from Wise on Weatherford College dean’s list

More than 450 students – including 51 from Wise County – were named to the Weatherford College Dean’s List for the fall 2013 semester.

To be eligible for the Dean’s List, a student must be enrolled for 12 or more semester hours, have no grade lower than a C and meet the minimum grade- point average. The GPA system is based on a one-to-four rating.

Earning the honor from Wise County were:

Alvord: Trevor Hardee; Shelbi Harmon and Alexandria Talamantes.

Aurora: Victor Ramirez and Bertie Sellers.

Boyd: Derek Martin and Carolina McDowell.

Bridgeport: Ana Caldera; Torie Carter; Sharlyn Fagan; Taylor Hulsey; Danielle Mindieta and Autumn Pickett.

Chico: Hannah Avants; Karla Deamicis; Damian Delgado; Callie Fuller; Luke Plummer; James Redwine; Vanessa Saxon; Molli Umphress; Tiffany Vislosky and Kaylee Wriston.

Decatur: Rosaura Aldape; Victoria Aldape; Monica Bernard; Carissa Byrd; Steven Cao; Araceli Cruz; Sarrah Ennis; Elda Garcia; Brittany Hargrave; Sara Harris; Kasidi Heiens; Victoria Myers; Christina Overton; Brandon Pelton; Venancio Rodriguez; Liliana Torres and Omar Torres.

Sunset: Austin Gaskins and Brittani Martin.

Newark: Savannah Brooks.

Paradise: Lacy Jackson; Sara Kelly; Amber Kirkland; Carol McCutchen and William Ngetich.

Rhome: Haley McGuire, Bethlyn Prentice and Lisa Shearer.

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Ygnacio DeLeon

Ygnacio DeLeon Jr.

Ygnacio DeLeon Jr., 65, of Rhome died Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

Ygnacio was born Feb. 12, 1948, in Lamesa.

Junior, as he was known to family and friends, was a caring man. He loved his family and would do anything for them. He grew up on and around a farm, and he loved working with farm equipment. He was a hardworking person who believed in helping others. He will be greatly missed.

Ygnacio was preceded in death by his mother, Jacinta Urrabazo DeLeon; father Ygnacio DeLeon Sr.; and sisters Oralia Lopez and Elvira Rodriguez.

He is survived by his son, Jon Paul DeLeon and wife, Christina and grandchildren Alexis and Marc, all of Rhome; siblings Elisa Zaragoza (Francisco) of San Jacinto, Calif., Eloisa Martinez (Martin) of Brownfield, Eliseo DeLeon (Consuelo) of Fort Worth, Victoria Leija (Juan) of Brownfield, Grabilla Leija of Brownfield, Valentine DeLeon of Roanoke and Rosendo DeLeon (Rosalinda) of San Antonio; and 51 nieces and nephews.

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Police shop for vehicle to handle ice

In the wake of several winter storms this year that have caused numerous accidents and left hundreds of drivers stranded at one time, Rhome Police Department plans to add a vehicle to handle the conditions.

“I’m looking for an older Bronco or Blazer or similar model with four-wheel drive to go off-road if we need it,” said Rhome Police Chief James Rose. “It’s not going to get fully decked out, just basic signage. It’s just to be taken out during ice storms.”

During the last ice storm, a police officer lost control of his cruiser, slid off the road and totaled it. It was an older model car. Insurance money from the accident will be used to purchase the off-road vehicle.

“I just need a vehicle for us to use during bad weather,” Rose said.

During an ice storm in November, hundreds of vehicles were stuck on a stretch of U.S. 287 in Rhome – some for more than 36 hours. An off-road vehicle could have aided in getting help to some of those stranded.

The used vehicle is not expected to cost above $5,000.

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Firestorm over Rhome VFD service fizzles out

After months of wrangling, Rhome City Council rejected an ordinance tied to dual service on the council and fire department.

Council members decided to take no action Thursday night on a proposed ordinance that would have limited the number and voting power of volunteer firefighters who also serve on council.

The proposed ordinance would allow no more than two members of the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department to serve on council and/or as mayor. They would also have to recuse themselves from voting on items related to the fire department.

The proposed ordinance had been discussed at length in council meetings for months, and it was a topic at a council workshop held last month.

But at this week’s regular meeting council member Louis Godfrey gave a compelling argument against the measure. He said imposing such a limit could breech the voting rights of elected officials and the people who elected them into office.

“I think we need to be careful about what we are doing here,” Godfrey said. “We could get into legal trouble. We have council members talking about what other council members can or can’t vote on.

“Should we take away the right of people to vote who have been elected by people to vote for them on these issues?” he asked. “Everyone should have a right to vote on these issues. Why should you take that away?”

He added that preventing votes for anything related to fire department would basically prevent certain council members from taking any action on the budget since it includes funding for the volunteer fire department.”

“I have an issue with the voting,” added Mayor Chris Moore who also serves as assistant fire chief. “Council members were elected to vote on this stuff. It’s doesn’t benefit me or the department or anybody else, but equipment for the fire department does benefit the entire city by improving our ability to protect citizens and their property.”

City attorney Walt Leonard said it’s common to see volunteer fire departments also serve on the local council.

“You’ll see a lot of small towns where multiple members of the city council also serve on the VFD,” Leonard said.

David Wilson, former mayor and council member and former longtime member of the fire department said “it’s a bad deal.”

“I don’t like the situation down at the fire department right now by any means, but I don’t like hamstringing the council like this either,” he added.

“It’s unfortunate this has come up at all,” said council member Michelle Pittman. “I feel like you’re picking on one person, me.”

Pittman serves on the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department.

“Everyone is really tired of this,” she said. “This is tearing the town apart. … This has never been an issue before. What has changed? What has happened?”

“No one is against the fire department,” said council member Jo Ann Wilson, who has supported the ordinance. “We just want accountability to the taxpayer on where the money is going and how it’s spent.”

“Nobody on the fire department has access to any money,” Pittman said.

Current city law prevents only the fire chief from serving on the council or as mayor.

“What we have in place is fine,” Godfrey said. “I say we should forget this, and if there’s a problem in the future, we’ll address it.”

In the end, the rest of the council agreed and took no action on the proposed ordinance.

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Rhome City Council to discuss pavilion, VFD limit

It’s “old business” on the agenda, but the Rhome City Council will continue discussions on the city’s pavilion and volunteer fire dept. when it meets Thursday.

The ordinance limiting membership on the volunteer fire dept. to no more than two city council members has been the focus of controversy in recent meetings. The measure also requires those members to recuse themselves anytime the council votes on RVFD issue.

The council will set a date to move Rescue Revenue to City Hall, and consider draft ordinances on PODS and carports.

Among the new business on Thursday’s agenda are contracts with the Wise County Elections Office and Northwest Independent School District for the May 10 council elections to be held jointly.

Another contract will finance equipment for the public works department.

The council will also order a plaque to recognize major donors for Veterans’ Park, review incentive pay and the city’s depreciation schedule, and set dates for an Easter Egg Hunt, the candidate forum and chili cookoff.

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Carl L. Wear

Carl L. Wear

Carl L. Wear, 90, a former mayor of Rhome, died Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.

Funeral was Feb. 7 at Aurora Baptist Church where he was a member, and burial followed at Aurora Cemetery with full military honors under the direction of Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur.

Pallbearers were Troy Misner, Shawn Hines, Jerod Blomberg, Ben Hoover, Matt Hoover, John Hoover, Steven Wear and Garrett Richardson. Honorary pallbearers were Charles Haynes, David Wilson, Bill Childress, Lee Waldrop, Ned Adcock and Will Hughes.

Carl was born Dec. 13, 1923, in Catawba, Wis., to Carl Sr. and Eva Tague Wear. Born to deaf parents, his first language was signing with his hands.

After being raised as a farm boy, he went on to serve two years in the Army during World War II, participating in the Battle of the Bulge at Grande Halleaux, Belgium, and earning a Purple Heart after being wounded there.

He later enlisted in the Air Force and proudly and humbly served his country in the U.S. and in England for the next 18 years. After retiring from military service, he settled his family in Rhome and enjoyed the rest of his life there, making many friends and serving his community as city secretary, water superintendent and mayor. He also served as water superintendent in Saginaw.

Carl always had a smile and a handshake for everyone he met, and no one left his presence a stranger. His greatest joys were his family, friends, his pets and working with his hands. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He was a proud member of the Wise County Veteran’s Association, a charter member of the Chisholm Trail Antique Farm Equipment Club and the 75th Division Veteran’s Association.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred Wear; daughters Carolyn Hines and husband, Danny, and Jennifer Blomberg and husband, Jerry; son Gary Wear and wife, Cindy; stepdaughters Cheryl Hoover and husband, Jerry, Donna Misner and Jean Misner-Smith and husband, David; stepsons Steve Misner and wife, Cindi, and John Misner; 20 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.

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Gage Colten Callan

John Callan and Crystal Boyd of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Gage Colten Callan, on Feb. 3, 2014, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long.

He has one brother: Chase, 11; and two sisters: Alexis, 7, and Madison, 5.

Grandparents are Dwayne Boyd of Sulphur Springs and Denise Wood of Rhome.

Great-grandparents are Jean Boyd of Yantis and James Hooker of Pilot Point.

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Moore runs no more; Lorance eyes return

For eight years, Rhome Mayor Chris Moore has served as a member of the city council and most recently as mayor of the third-largest city in Wise.

But Moore, who also serves as assistant chief for the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department, said he will not be on the ballot in the city’s May election.

“I think I’m done,” Moore said. “A man can only take so much.”

“People just won’t let things go. It’s always one thing or another. The last workshop we had was about nothing but the fire department.”

A topic at multiple council meetings and the primary focus of a council workshop held late last month was whether a member of city council can also serve as a member of the volunteer fire department.

After the workshop, a majority of council appeared ready to pass an ordinance at the next meeting stipulating no more than two members of the council, including the mayoral position, can serve on the Rhome Fire Department. Those council members also can’t vote on issues related to the fire department, the proposed ordinance adds.

“I’m tired of it,” Moore said. “And I can’t get the city council to fix it. I don’t have a vote. I know I have a voice, but they have their minds made up, and I’m fed up.”

Moore plans to finish his term through the May election.

With his decision not to run, former longtime mayor Mark Lorance has filed for the position. His hope is to get the council to focus on big-picture projects and stop sweating the small stuff so much.

“The council seems to be snipping at each other a little too much,” Lorance said. “I’d like to see the council get back to projects that focus on growth. We have to focus on growth. The housing market is coming back with a vengeance. We have the potential for a lot of growth to come to this city.”

Lorance knows about big projects. After serving two years as a council member and 10 more as mayor, he stepped away from office for the last couple of years to focus squarely on his work as a civil engineer. His firm recently helped complete a 14-mile segment of the Chisholm Trail Parkway, a 28-mile toll road connecting south Fort Worth and Cleburne, scheduled to open this spring.

His company also helped complete a 30-mile section of the Grand Parkway, a 180-mile loop around a seven-county greater-Houston metropolitan area which will open to traffic sometime in 2015.

“Those were career projects for me,” he said. “It took up 110 percent of my time.”

If elected, Lorance wants to use some of that time to get the council working as a group again on bigger issues. He said he wouldn’t mind if every member of the council also served on the fire department.

“We’ve got bigger issues to focus on,” Lorance said.

One of those issues is the water and sewer department.

“It lost about $400,000,” said city auditor Peter Chaney. “It can’t continue this way. You’re going to have to increase rates. There is no alternative. You can’t continue to have another year like this. You might be able to do that in Washington, D.C., but not in Rhome, Texas.”

Lorance said the city has lost some revenue in that area due to the slowdown in oil and gas development in the region.

“We used to sell a lot of water to the oil and gas industry,” Lorance said. “That has gone away. We also had some maintenance issues, but that can always pop up. We are going to have to look at a new rate structure.”

So far Lorance has drawn no other competitors in the race.

“I look forward to working with the council,” Lorance said. “We can accomplish a lot if we work together.”

The May race also has two city council positions up for election. Incumbents Jo Ann Wilson and Michelle Pittman have been the only two to file so far for those spots.

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Buddhists: Great example, great coverage

The Messenger’s Jan. 29 front-page piece, “The American dream through Buddhist eyes” was very enjoyable.

Your chronicle of the long life of a remarkable individual, Newark’s 84-year-old Bouonhot Souimaniphanah, is a great example of a person on what Buddhists call the Right Path. I thought this was a fascinating inside look at another culture, an inspiration on how to conduct one’s own life, topped off with information about a local landmark all wrapped up in this fine example of skilled newspaper reporting.

I’ll be visiting the Newark Buddhists very soon.

My sincere wish is for us all to aspire, in at least a small way, to attain the kind of determination, spiritualism and enlightenment found by your story’s central character.

By the way, Buddhism asks students of the practice to take the Eight-Fold Path, and one of the steps on that path is to choose the right livelihood – to choose to work in keeping with their nature and to have awareness of the impact of their work on society.

It looks like your reporter, Mr. Evans, and your photographer, Mr. Duty, have indeed chosen the right livelihoods.

Ken Bateman

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Rhome officers discover loads of drugs

Police uncovered a cornucopia of assorted drugs after a traffic stop early Thursday morning in Rhome.

Darren A. Berkley

Rhome police officer Robert Gillock noticed a man acting suspiciously as he was pumping gasoline about 2:30 a.m. at Love’s Travel Center. Gillock followed the driver, who proceeded to cross over the center stripe several times.

“After I pulled him over, he acted extremely nervous,” Gillock said. “He told me his license was suspended and he probably had a warrant.”

Inside a pocket on the car door, officers discovered a brown bag filled with a variety of pills including Xanax, hydrocodone and methadone. They also found a prescription bottle of liquid hydrocodone with the label ripped off and a bag of what proved to be approximately 24 grams of methamphetamine.

The driver, Darren A. Berkley, 23, of Mansfield told officers the drugs weren’t his. He claimed someone had stolen his car, and when he’d gotten the car back the drugs just happened to be in there.

Berkley was arrested and charged with four counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession of a dangerous drugs, and driving with a suspended license. As of Friday, he remained in Wise County Jail under a $21,500 bond.

Rhome police officer Chance Garrett assisted with the stop.

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Rhome City Council looks to take over parks board, limit firefighters

After struggling to find enough members, the Rhome City Council will likely take over the duties of the Parks and Recreation Board – at least temporarily.

“Everyone (on the city council) appears to be in agreement it will go to the council,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jo Ann Wilson. “Different council members will coordinate different events, and we’ll have help from volunteers. We’ll just have to see how it works.”

The council discussed the issue in detail at a workshop held last Saturday night at city hall. Although no action could be taken during the workshop, the council expects to take action at the next council meeting.

The workshop also covered how to proceed to complete construction of a pavilion at the Rhome Family Park. So far, just the concrete foundation has been completed. Councilman Louis Godfrey was appointed to find out the best way to proceed and bring a recommendation back to the council.

The council also discussed the fate of several ordinances regarding the fire department, including one related to membership on the department and serving in city government.

“By law the fire chief can’t be the mayor,” Wilson said. “But an ordinance that the council might approve at the next meeting might limit no more than two members of the fire department can serve on the city council and mayor position.”

Currently, the mayor and one council member serve on the volunteer fire department.

“The reasoning for limiting it to two people is not a personality issue,” Wilson said. “But if a fire emergency is called out during a meeting, we need to keep enough there to have quorum.”

The proposed ordinance would also prevent council who are members of the fire department from voting on funding issues related to the department.

When asked what the council would do if a third member of the fire department was elected to the council or mayor position, Wilson said if that happened, they’d just have “to look at options at that time.”

“We’re not trying to limit volunteering,” Wilson said.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13.

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On call: Rhome city council to discuss fate of fire department during workshop

The right of a city council member to also volunteer as a member of the Rhome Fire Department will be discussed in detail tonight.

Rhome City Council has scheduled a workshop to discuss the fire department ordinance. Also on the agenda is the Parks and Recreation Department, who’s board is unable to reach a quorum since it’s down to one member. The workshop will also tackle the fate of the pavilion at the family park.

At a Jan. 9 meeting, several council members discussed amending a fire department ordinance. The ordinance currently allows anyone to serve on both the council and fire department so long as they are not the fire chief. Currently, Mayor Chris Moore and council member Michelle Pittman serve on the volunteer fire department.

Council member Ronnie Moore has argued that serving on both constitutes a conflict of interest. City attorney Walt Leonard said according to state law, conflict of interest only occurs if one is making 15 percent or more of their income from an entity. City council members and firefighters volunteer their time.

The workshop is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18.

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Rhome officials question service on fire department, council

On Thursday night, Rhome City Council discussed ways to change an ordinance regarding whether or not someone can volunteer for both city council and the fire department at the same time. Although no action was taken on the item, council was close to making a motion that, if passed, would have forced Mayor Chris Moore and council member Michelle Pittman to choose between serving on the council or the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department.

“It is too much a conflict of interest to help run the city and be on the fire department,” said council member Ronnie Moore.

“I’ll resign from the fire department tonight if you do this,” Moore said.

Current city law says only a fire chief can’t serve on council or as mayor. Options posed included forbidding anyone from serving on both, limiting the number of elected officials that can serve as members of the fire department and/or preventing them from voting on actions that affect the fire department.

“We’ve set a precedent where this has been OK for many, many years,” Pittman said. “I wonder why everything is different now when it’s been this way for 20 years.”

Moore has served as council member and mayor for several years all while being assistant fire department chief.

“I was on the fire department and the council for 13 years,” echoed former council member David Wilson.

The fire department has had low membership numbers for the past couple of years, which resulted in late to no response on several daytime calls. The council took some steps to increase membership, and Pittman joined as a volunteer firefighter herself last year to help bolster protection. The fire department currently has eight members.

“I don’t understand why you’d do anything that could reduce the number of firefighters,” Pittman said. “You better put fire department response on the next agenda if you pass this because we won’t have enough.”

According to Texas law, a conflict of interest only arises if an involved party receives 15 percent or more of their income from it, said city attorney Walt Leonard. In this case, neither volunteer fire department members or elected city officials earn any income for their efforts.

Council members Jo Ann Wilson, Charles Pennington and Ronnie Moore all leaned toward some kind of change to the current ordinance. But they eventually agreed to take no action and discuss it further at an upcoming workshop. No date was set for the workshop, but it’s expected to be on a Friday or Saturday night sometime in the next couple of months.

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Finnick Bane Holland

Zane G. and Whitney Holland of Rhome announce the birth of a son, Finnick Bane, on Dec. 16, 2013, at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth.

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

He has one brother: Statham Lane, 4.

Grandparents are David and Terry Holland of Paradise and Kenny and Tamme Byers of Rhome.

Great-grandparents are Jim and Janice Paschall of Paradise, Joyce Holland of Lubbock, Oscar and Billie Romine of Rhome and Dimple Byers of Chico.

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