Christmas is coming to the Bay

The Greater Runaway Bay Alliance is partnering with the city to light up Runaway Bay for Christmas.

After Mayor Robert Ryan encouraged all residents and business owners to decorate their homes and buildings for the holidays, the Alliance stepped up at the city council meeting Tuesday and said it would help organize the effort.

The Alliance will compile a map with the addresses of all decorated homes listed on the back. Copies of the map will be available at local businesses, at City Hall and outside the city’s civic center.

Members of the Alliance will also call all Runaway Bay residents inviting them to participate.

“Our hope is to make Runaway Bay a place for families to bring their families during the holiday season to look and enjoy Christmas lights,” said Jackie Ishmael, vice president of the Alliance.

To be included on the map, contact Ishmael at 940-575-4592 or, or Kay Federspiel at 940-575-4916. Deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 10.


Christmas came a bit early for various Runaway Bay city departments.

On Tuesday, the city council approved the purchase or financing agreement for various high-dollar expenses it had set aside money for during budget-writing this summer.

Officials agreed to enter into two loans with First National Bank in Runaway Bay – a $50,000 note for two 2013 Ram 1500 special services police trucks and a $67,900 loan for an F-450 Chassis with a 3,200 pound crane body and self-leveling camera and locator for the public works department.

The council also approved $14,700 in repairs to stabilize the foundation at the wastewater plant.

The council also:

  • cast all 23 of its votes for Ray Cook Jr. for the Wise County Appraisal District board of directors;
  • approved the selling of city-owned vacant lots; and
  • OK’d the October meeting minutes, financials, accounts payable, activity reports, journal entries and code enforcement report.

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Landon Avery Proctor

Tamara Williams and Tyler Proctor of Runaway Bay announce the birth of a son, Landon Avery Proctor, on Oct. 28, 2013, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 1/4 inches long.

Grandparents are Guy and Valerie Proctor and Dianna and Raymond Tiller, all of Chico.

Great-grandparents are Richard and Judy Bradford of North Richland Hills, Sandy and Walter Hollis of Bridgeport and Clifford Williams of Wichita Falls.

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Council approves garbage fee increase

Garbage collection fees in Runaway Bay will increase by 2 percent beginning Jan. 1.

The city council Tuesday approved the hike in cost following a request by Progressive Waste Solutions, the city’s provider.

Residential accounts will increase 28 cents. Commercial customers will see an increase of $1.29 to $4.39 depending on the size of the container and number of pick-ups per month.


During the meeting, the volunteer fire department received a few gifts from the council. Officials approved the $17,699 purchase of a cutter and spreader to be paid for in part with a $12,366 grant from Texas Forestry Service.

The council also transferred to the fire department fund $13,849 collected from donations throughout the year and at various fundraising events.

The council also approved the September meeting minutes, financials, accounts payable, activity reports and journal entries.

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Lila Dulcinea Hobbs

Joey and Rebekah Hobbs of Runaway Bay announce the birth of a daughter, Lila Dulcinea, on Oct. 8, 2013, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces and was 21 inches long.

Grandparents are Carlyne and Kevin McKinley of Chico and Debbie and Joey Hobbs of Bridgeport.

Great-grandparents are Pat Hobbs of Bridgeport and Clodean Griffin of Azle.

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Expect more of public officials

It is a real shame that an elected official can be let off with just a slap on the wrist when he steals from the taxpayers that put him in the office. The taxpayers expect more from them.

How could the DA let this go with just a Class B misdemeanor? That was a slap to the face of the taxpayers and spit in the eyes of all the good men who work out of the county barn in Bridgeport.

We expect more from our prosecutors and better of our commissioners.

Terry Ross got off lucky. It cost more than $500 to build that playhouse.

David Stewart
Runaway Bay

Posted in Letters to the Editor4 Comments

Residents to see slight water, tax increases

Needed improvements at the city’s water and wastewater plants drove a lot of the budget planning for Runaway Bay city officials this year.

After a public hearing that drew no comment, the council last Tuesday approved a balanced $1,110,911 budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Alotted capital outlay will fund state-mandated repairs to clarifier gears, along with foundation fixes at the wastewater plant, a sewer camera with a locater and video recording capabilities and a vertical pump for the water plant, as outlined by a recently conducted water study.

To help offset some of those expenditures, the council approved increasing base water and sewer rates by $4.90.

“This will help us continue to provide the current level of service that we do and also help us move forward with some issues that we have pushed to the back burner,” city secretary Oneta Berghoefer said.

Officials also OK’d a .0003 increase to the tax rate. On the certified tax roll released in July, property values in the city increased by .43 percent.

The rate increase to 61.57 cents would help generate the same amount of revenue as previous years.

The miniscule increase is expected to raise $6,991 more, but that additional revenue is from new property added to the roll.

“In effect, we are not raising our property tax tonight,” Berghoefer said.

Other highlights of the 2013-2014 budget include:

  • $55,000 for two police vehicles – “This request had been denied the last two years,” councilman Neil Peters said. “They got to the point that they had to be replaced.”
  • a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for all employees.
  • $45,000 to pay off debt.

“We went over these things very much in detail,” Peters said. “Not all of the staff agreed with all of it … but I believe the entire city council can agree that the overall (plan) is a real good fit this year.”


The council also approved:

  • a memorandum of understanding with the fire department outlining the responsibilities of the city and the department. “I’m thoroughly pleased with it,” Fire Chief Brian Bernardo said.
  • a sign request for The Bay Community Church.
  • agreements with the county for animal control and fire protection/first responder services.

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Church presents strongman, Guinness World Record holder

Steve Carrier will break bricks, baseball bats and blocks of fire, bend steel and crush soda cans to send a message at area schools and a local church in the upcoming week.

The Guinness World Record holder performs feats of strength to remind his audience of the need to persevere through obstacles to achieve success.

Carrier will perform nightly, beginning Sunday, Sept. 29, though Wednesday, Oct. 2, at The Rock Church in Runaway Bay.

A free dinner will be served at 6 p.m., and the show will get “bigger and bigger” every night. Door prizes will also be awarded after each performance.

During the day, Carrier will take his show to nine Wise County schools to educate, motivate and inspire students to reach their goals and dreams.

He emphasizes the importance of making positive choices and encourages students to never give up.

He also addresses bullying, the power of positive words, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the importance of education, and dream-makers and dream-takers.

Carrier is a world class athlete who has performed at some of the highest levels athletically including the ESPN Brick Breaking Championship and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” Bat-Breaking Championship. He holds the Guinness World Record for bat-breaking – 30 bats in 53 seconds.

“It’s an opportunity for us to reach out to the community and offer people who haven’t had a chance to visit us to visit us,” said Amanda Johnson, children’s director and church secretary. “Something fun and exciting for our community to see.”


7 p.m.
Sunday through Wednesday

The Rock Church
513 Port O’Call,
Runaway Bay

Free food at 6 p.m.

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Mr. and Mrs. James Randall Flake

Tricia Deanna Terrell and James Randall Flake of Runaway Bay were married June 29, 2013, at Lake Bridgeport.

Pam Proctor of Outdoors Ceremony officiated the double-ring ceremony.

The bride is the daughter of Doyle Gene and Shirley Smith, and Travis Deatherage, all of Bridgeport.

The groom is the son of Linda Flake of Decatur.

Escorted by her daughter, Laci Terrell of Bridgeport, the bride wore a short, ivory chiffon tier dress and carried a bouquet of ivory, hot pink and turquoise daisies.

Laci, who wore a short, hot-pink chiffon dress, stood at her mom’s side.

Brandi Flake, daughter of the groom, stood at his side. She wore a short, turquoise chiffon dress.

Both carried ivory, hot-pink and turquoise daisies.

Ringbearers were Ethan Carroll, Daniel Carroll and Brandi Flake.

Music was provided by DJ Mary Embry.

The couple hosted a reception at Lake Bridgeport.

Following a Caribbean cruise, they live in Runaway Bay.

The bride attended Bridgeport High School. She works for Dr. Stowers, Dr. Wright and Wal-Mart.

The groom attended Boyd High School. He works for Texas Industries Inc.


Mr. and Mrs. James Randall Flake

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Council to consider budget

The 2013-2014 budget will come to a vote in Runaway Bay Tuesday.

After a public hearing, the city council will vote on the proposed financial plan at its regular meeting. The council will also consider the tax rate and amendments to utility rates.

They will also consider a memorandum of understanding with the Runaway Bay Volunteer Fire Department.

In routine business, officials will consider approving meeting minutes, COBRA coverage continuation with Texas Municipal League and agreements with Wise County for animal control and fire protection/first responder services.

The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 101 Runaway Bay Drive.

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Secretary to take on administrator role

For more than a year, Oneta Berghoefer has held dual roles for the city of Runaway Bay as city secretary and interim city administrator.

Tuesday, the dual role became official and permanent.

Following an executive session, the city council voted to combine the city secretary and city administrator positions and appoint Berghoefer to the post.

Berghoefer has served as interim city administrator since the city’s former administrator, Greg Leveling, was fired in March 2012.

In other action out of the executive session, the council confirmed the appointment of Dawnelle Burns as the second assistant fire chief and announced Police Chief Tim Donald satisfactorily completed the three-month probation period. He was hired in April to fill a post that had been vacant since Drew Paschall resigned in February 2012.

Sgt. Rex Richie served in the interim.


  • instated a 30-percent collection service fee on municipal court fines and costs more than 60 days delinquent;
  • contracted with Municipal Recovery System to collect those outstanding warrants, citations and fines;
  • accepted a donation deed for property from the Barnett Family Revocable Trust;
  • approved a variance to the front setback requirements for a lot on Cimarron Bay that includes a severe slope from an existing building pad to the shoreline;
  • accepted a $500 bid from the Sheriff’s sale for Lot 58, Block 2, Runaway Bay Unit 6; and
  • approved the July financials, accounts payable, activity reports, journal entries and meeting minutes.

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Local officer involved in Denton County sheriff bribery investigation

The Texas Rangers are investigating a possible bribery case involving the Denton County sheriff, a former political opponent of the sheriff and a former deputy.

The former deputy, Kevin Bragg, is currently serving as a Runaway Bay police officer.

Bragg is involved in a nearly four-year legal battle with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. The case alleges wrongdoing by former sheriff Benny Parkey. Bragg also alleges he was wrongfully terminated after acting as a whistleblower.

In the new criminal investigation, court documents suggest the new sheriff, William Travis, offered Bragg a position with the department if he would drop the current civil suit.

An affidavit contained an email allegedly from Travis to Bragg indicating possible bribery.

“If you did file a suit and you wanted to come back to work at Denton County Sheriff’s Office, a couple of things need to be done. The lawsuit has to be dropped, and I have to see a judgment reflecting this by Nov. 5, 2012,” read the email.

The former political opponent is Jesse Flores, who ran against Travis in the Republican primary last May.

Travis allegedly told Flores he would give him a job in the sheriff’s department if he dropped out of the race, according to Bragg’s account in court documents.

Last year Travis won the election with 54 percent of the vote, while Parkey, the incumbent, took 35 percent. Flores came in a distant third with 11 percent.

Local Texas Ranger Jim Holland has led the investigation into the alleged bribery.

Travis told Holland that he made no job offer to Flores in exchange for dropping out of the race. He added that the communications with Bragg were a “misunderstanding.” Flores has also denied that Travis attempted to bribe him.

The case is still under investigation.

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Council to hold 2 meetings next week

The City of Runaway Bay may soon name a second assistant fire chief.

After meeting in closed session, the council on Tuesday will consider appointing Dawnelle Burns to the post at the request of Fire Chief Brian Bernardo.

The council will also evaluate Police Chief Timothy Donald and Interim City Administrator Oneta Berghoefer in closed session before taking any necessary action.

Officials will also consider:

  • instating a collection fee on municipal court fines more than 60 days delinquent;
  • extending services with Municipal Recovery System to collect outstanding warrants, citations, capias and pro fines;
  • a bid for property sold in the Sheriff’s Sale;
  • accepting a donation deed for property from the Barnett Family Revocable Trust;
  • granting an exception to the 15-foot build line for property in the 800 block of Cimarron Bay; and
  • amendments to the 2012-2013 budget.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, is open to the public.

At another meeting Wednesday, the council will develop a water system model and plan for long-term water supply needs as part of the Regional Facility Plan for the city.

Public input is welcome. That meeting is at 4 p.m at City Hall.

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Street bid approved

Four roads in Runaway Bay will soon receive a new surface.

The city council Tuesday approved a $78,210 bid for a chip-and-seal type of resurfacing for Blue Fathom, Bay Side, Marco and Segundo drives.

No definite date has been set on when work should begin, city officials said.


The council also filled several vacancies on several boards and commissions including:

  • Planning & Zoning – Roland Ray, Laura Blackburn, Belinda Amerman, Dawnelle Burns, Hope Binkley, Carolyn Moody;
  • Parks – Darla St. John;
  • Economic Development Corp. – Aline Stack, Donald Federspiel, Jan Miranda, Jackie Ishmael;
  • Cemetery – Joyce Waynauskas, Kay Federspiel, Carol Tanksley.


The council also:

  • established a 14-day work period for police officers;
  • granted a sign permit to The Rock Church at 513 Port O Call Drive;
  • signed an interlocal agreement for cooperative purchasing;
  • OK’d the June meeting minutes, financials, accounts payable, activity reports and journal entries; and
  • approved the city’s investment policy, a routine business item.

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Community plays key role in feature film

The recent work of an independent filmmaker may one day put Runaway Bay on the map – and not just because she calls the small, charming Wise County town home.

In 13 days, beginning June 26, 32-year-old Rachel Shepherd and a crew of about 20 shot her most recent feature film in and around her hometown.

She describes “About Mom and Dad” as an ensemble drama based on a family and their relationships.

LOOKING LOCAL – Farah White of the metroplex makes her grand entrance into a wedding scene shot at The Club at Runaway Bay Wednesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It’s the most personal film I’ve ever written,” Shepherd said. “It is literally about my mom and dad. It’s a situation that happened in their marriage and happens in a lot of other marriages.”

They’d been married for over 20 years, she said, when they encountered a roadblock – and overcame it.

Without giving away the plot, Shepherd added: “I want people to understand marriage isn’t just bliss. People think it’s a fairytale, and sure, there are parts of it that are. But the truth is, it’s work. You have to put forth the effort. And it’s not always easy. That’s where all the drama comes from.”

But that premise wasn’t the only thing that made the film personal for Shepherd.

With the exception of a scene at DFW International Airport, and a few shots at Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro, “About Mom and Dad” was all filmed in Wise County.

Sparked Idea

SPARKED IDEA – Crewmembers including Bret Curry, and Justin Scheidt film a wedding rehearsal scene at The Club at Runaway Bay Wednesday. The shot was one in a film written and directed by Bay resident Rachel Shepherd. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Sites included private residences in Bridgeport and Runaway Bay, The Club at Runaway Bay and Exceptional Bride in Decatur.

“Yes, everything worked out perfect; everyone was willing to open their homes,” Shepherd said. “But it was genuinely what we were looking for. The Harper family, the family in the movie, is from a small town. This area is authentically Texas. Runaway Bay is a small community that really sticks together, which is a huge theme in the movie.”

That theme played out on both sides of the camera. After Shepherd made an announcement at her church, The Bay, members of the church and community have flocked to offer to help her realize her vision.

“The local community has shown an immense amount of support for the arts and me being a resident,” said Shepherd, who has lived in Runaway Bay for two years. “There have been so many local investors. From Warrior Golf who offered us use of The Club at a discounted rate, to the Runaway Bay EDC which funded the catering through One Stop for all of the crew the entire time we’ve filmed to Darla St. John, who helped me find places to shoot and Marsha Ellison who has opened up her home to the crew and extras who were up until 2 a.m. filming at The Club and were enthusiastic about it – People have been very gracious. It’s been incredible.

“It just goes to show that I’m living in the right place. God put me here for a reason.”

In addition to that small-town spirit, the area just had the right look as well.

“The lake, space, trees, animals,” said Adrian Testolin, the film’s producer. “The script was written for this. It was not difficult at all to find locations.”

Testolin, like most of the crew, is from the Dallas area. The area’s hospitality – like the openness of its scenery – was a much-embraced change, even if some aspects took some warming up to.

“Yeah, we were a little hesitant about eating food from a gas station,” Testolin said. “But what we quickly learned is that One Stop is actually an incredible restaurant with a gas station attached to it. A hidden paradise – that’s exactly what this area, and all it has to offer, is.”

And although it was a bit disconcerting in the beginning, the crew hopes the benefits of the area’s seclusion translate onto the screen.

“Over here, everyone is away from their everyday lives and the distractions involved,” Shepherd said. “As a result, they can completely immerse themselves in the film – cast, crew, everyone. And I truly think it’s a palpable thing you can take from the screen.”

With 13 days of filming that wrapped up Thursday, Shepherd says the project is about 25 percent done.

“Now we’ll take a week off to sleep,” she laughed. “Thirteen days for a 110-page script is crazy. That would usually take about 25 days and more cameras. But we managed. Now we’ll color the film, cut the film, put it together, add in the music with the sound.”

She hopes to screen at least a rough cut to the community by the first of the new year.

“I really want to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” she said. “I could not have done this without all those who patted me on the back.”

Those who encouraged her stay true to the theme, which is apparent in both the film and life in Runaway Bay.

“I supported her not to be an investor, but because I love her,” Ellison said. “And hey, when she becomes famous, we’ll be famous, too.”

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Street improvements on the table

Roads in Runaway Bay may soon be getting a facelift. At its meeting Tuesday, the council will consider a proposal on street improvement projects in the city.

During the regular meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. at City Hall, the council will also appoint members to the planning and zoning commission, parks board, Eternal Oaks Cemetery board and economic development corporation after discussing the matter in closed session.

Officials will also consider a sign permit application for The Rock Church, revisions to the personnel policy and procedures manual and an interlocal agreement with Region VII Education Service Center for cooperative purchasing.

Other routine matters are also on the agenda.

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Lake community plans 4th festivities

A day-long celebration of our nation’s independence will set off Saturday in Runaway Bay.

The ninth annual Firecracker Scramble golf tournament benefiting the Runaway Bay Volunteer Fire Department begins with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. at The Club at Runaway Bay.

Registration for the four-person scramble is 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The $50 entry fee includes green and cart fees.

Prizes will be awarded in each flight and, there will be other specialty prizes including longest putt and bulls-eye. There will be mulligans and raffles available and free food on the course.

For more information, call or email Dawnelle at 940-577-4123,; or Ronnica at 214-926-3025,; or visit

The 10th annual 4th Fest, sponsored by the Greater Runaway Bay Alliance, begins with a patriotism-themed golf cart parade at 6 p.m.

Entries are to line up at the city’s maintenance building on Runaway Drive at 5:30. The procession will start on Runaway Bay Drive before turning right onto Hastings Drive, left onto Halfmoon Way, left onto Tryall Court and right back onto Runaway Bay Drive to The Bay Church parking lot, where prizes will be awarded.

Festivities continue there with the presentation of colors by members of the Wise County Veterans Group followed by the festival. Free activities include the Bridgeport Lions Club train ride, obstacle course, bounce house, music, prizes, a cake walk and games until 8 p.m.

Raffle tickets will be sold for $5 each. There will also be a fish fry for $7 a plate.

For the 35th year, the grand finale fireworks display over the lake begins at dusk.

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Aubree Grace Simmons

Madyson Hancock and Luke Simmons of Runaway Bay announce the birth of a daughter, Aubree Grace, on June 11, 2013, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 inches long.

Grandparents are Tammy Hastings and Alex Hastings of Runaway Bay, Adam and Dana Simmons of Weatherford, and Sandy Simmons and Pat Madland of Bridgeport.

Great-grandparents are Barba Chappell of Azle, Robert and Peggy Chappell of Azle, Dan and Sheila Hastings of Chico, Loyd and Margaret Hancock, Lendell and Jean Stowers of Retrop, Okla., and Bill and Minnie Simmons of Weatherford, Okla.

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Signage policy on city council agenda

Aside from routine business, only one item is listed on Tuesday’s Runaway Bay City Council agenda.

Officials will consider amending ordinances that eliminate changeable electronic variable message signs, signs that advertise events outside the city and detached on-premises commercial signs.

They will also review May meeting minutes, financials, accounts payable, activity reports and journal entries.

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

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What privacy?

Why is it that the people who seem so concerned about their privacy and governmental snooping into their emails, etc. are the ones who post everything they know or think they know on Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

Tony Girtman
Runaway Bay

Posted in Letters to the Editor3 Comments

Communitywide cleanup planned

Runaway Bay officials are asking its citizens to CU FU PU.

The request isn’t baby babble or a martial arts move. It refers to the third annual Clean Up, Fix Up, Pride Up Day to be held in Runaway Bay Saturday, June 8.

From 8 a.m. to noon, organized groups will tackle yard maintenance and cleanup tasks in areas around town.

The Greater Runaway Bay Alliance will work the area surrounding the Norma Coble Civic Center. Another team will take on the flower beds and plants around City Hall.

A crew led by Mayor Robert Ryan will trim trees in the cemetery while another clears limbs along the stretch of U.S. 380 that runs through the town.

Two council members will make rounds pulling trailers to pick up debris and clippings from various sites, and recently-named Police Chief Timothy W. Donald will lead the cooking team who will serve hot dogs “and all the trimmings” to the day’s volunteers from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Civic Center. Participants will also receive a souvenir T-shirt.

While organizers have coordinated these projects, citizens are encouraged to CU FU PU their property.

A commercial paper shredder, Dumpster and chipper will be available for use at the Civic Center.

“We invite everyone to take part, whether it’s volunteering in the projects we have lined up or doing some work at their homes,” Ryan said. “It’s simply an effort to maintain the beauty of our town.”

For more information, call the effort’s coordinator, Jannie Tucknies, at 940-575-4745.

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