Posted on 30 July 2014.
What do you get when you combine a unique and growing market – people who ride and rope – with a business owner who lies awake at night thinking up ways to meet their needs?
A little western store becomes a chain, then a mail-order catalog business. People have questions, so you build a training center. People have horses, so you sell trailers. Horses eat, so you add a feed store.
Eventually, you’ve got a world – NRS World.
David Isham’s business has grown from that little shop in Decatur into one of the nation’s largest retailers of all things western. The next phase is rising now, on a hilltop off U.S. 81/287 southeast of town.
Think Cowboy Cabela’s.
“I’ve always wanted to build a destination store,” Isham said. “It’s really a 25-year dream coming into being.”
NRS celebrated its 25th anniversary Feb. 1. By the time the next birthday rolls around, its 150 or so employees should be getting ready to move onto the new campus that will house a huge store, offices, a warehouse and fulfillment center along with a feed store and a hay barn.
It comes with a new entrance off 287 and plenty of parking for horse trailers.
The NRS empire is moving, not uptown, but out of town – onto the acreage where the NRS Training Center and NRS Trailers are already located.
“We’re going to bring people to an authentic, real-deal Texas ranch, where people come to rope or come to learn how to be a better horseman,” Isham said. “It’ll be a nice retail store for our customer, a more efficient mail-order warehouse for us and a new building for our staff.”
After breaking ground June 2, steel is now rising on the office and store. From that location, just 10 feet shy of being the highest point in Wise County, shoppers will be able to look out the back window down to the ranch.
Finally, Isham said, the home store will meet or exceed people’s expectations.
“When you looked at my catalog, visions of what the NRS Store might be didn’t match up with the reality,” he said. “It was still just the David’s Western Store in Decatur.”
That gap between expectation and reality widened when NRS began going to Las Vegas, renting a ballroom at the MGM Grand and setting up a 90,000-square-foot store for the two-week run of the National Finals Rodeo.
“Our customers who see us for the first time at Vegas, they come to Decatur and say, ‘Is this it? I thought it’d be a lot bigger …’”
By next spring, it will be.
Isham pointed out that the big outdoor retailers like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops create an illusion in their stores – indoor mountains, streams, stuffed game animals – to make shoppers forget they’re on the side of the interstate.
“We don’t have to create an illusion,” he said. “There’s going to be big glass windows at the back, looking down on that arena where some of the best ropers and roping horses in the world are working – it’s all real, and it’s right there.”
START SMALL, DREAM BIG
Isham’s family moved to Decatur from an Arlington suburb when he was 10. He got into roping late in high school and continued to compete on the weekends while earning his accounting degree at Abilene Christian University. When he graduated, he went to work for a big accounting firm, but roping and the western lifestyle had become his passion.
So when Bryan’s Western Wear in Decatur went up for sale, he bought it. Before long, he was able to move it into the old Western Auto building at 1410 FM 51 South, which at 17,000 square feet was a big store.
“It’s been an awesome base of operations for the last 25 years,” he said.
Isham added stores in Weatherford and Granbury and began advertising in roping magazines, touting the toll-free number which is still 1-800-GO-ROPIN (467-6746).
He answered most of the calls himself – and quickly sensed that “David’s Western Store” wasn’t really getting the message across.
“I knew somebody in Colorado or California would see that ad, and they would just envision a store – no different from the mom-and-pop store in their town,” he said. “It didn’t conjure up a vision that said, ‘Man, that guy must have it.’”
So he came up with National Ropers Supply.
“It was one of those middle-of-the-night things,” he said.
To the 800 number, he added the catch phrase, “If it’s right for ropin’, it’s right here.” The phones blew up.
When folks called with an order, often they had a question, too.
“Do you have a catalog?”
Isham packed orders in boot boxes and sent them out the back door – but he also saved the names and addresses of his customers, building a database in a boot box. In the fall of 1994, NRS mailed its first catalog – a black-and-white affair with 40-something pages.
When the 20th NRS catalog comes out this fall, they will mail about 1.5 million.
Over the years, they expanded, creating a warehouse in the old Decatur Bowling Center located just behind the store. Isham said mail-order accounts for about 70 percent of the company’s business now.
Phone questions also led NRS into the training business, as callers were constantly picking Isham’s brain about roping.
He had no desire to add “coach” to his job description – but he did sense another opportunity.
“I knew if people enjoy roping more, they’re more successful at it, they’ll do it for a lifetime,” he noted. “If I can help them enjoy that, become better at it, eliminate the negative things that can happen – maybe that guy would be my customer for life.”
About 11 years ago, 260 acres off U.S. 81/287 southeast of town became available and Isham bought it. The first thing he did was build the NRS Training Center. Since then, they’ve hosted more than 4,500 students from all over the world.
The pavilion, which offers world-class training in barrel racing, horsemanship, roping and more, features a covered 150-by-300-foot arena, stalls, trailer hookups, a pro shop, a kitchen, custom bunkhouses – even a saddle shop and a restaurant.
ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Despite impressive growth, big buildings and big numbers, Isham’s focus remains exactly where it’s been since day one – personal relationships, with customers as well as his employees.
Mildred White, who was managing Bryan’s when Isham bought it, is a good example. At 88, she still works at the store.
“Mildred has been selling western wear in Decatur for 38 years now,” Isham said. “She loves coming to work, and everybody in town knows her. She’s a sweetheart.”
Isham is excited about providing loyal employees with a better working environment.
“Right now we have them stuck in closets all over the place,” he said. “We’re building a really nice set of offices that ought to be just a great collaborative work environment.”
If employees are family, you’d have to say Isham’s customers are cousins.
NRS is the official catalog of the United States Team Roping Association, the National High School Rodeo Association, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and other groups that focus on rodeo or the western lifestyle.
They log a lot of miles maintaining those ties.
“Once you align yourselves with an association, you need to go meet that customer, get in front of them and create a relationship with them,” he said. “That kind of launched us into the road show piece of our business.”
Last week NRS had a rig in Rock Springs, Wyo., for the National High School Rodeo Finals, and they also set up stores for the National Junior High finals, the U.S. Team Roping Association finals and of course, the NFR.
“Roping has grown so much as a sport, and we’ve been right along with that,” Isham said. “It’s all about personal relationships and the kind of people you deal with.”
SHIFTING THE COWBOY CAPITAL TO WISE
Somewhere along that 25-year journey, Wise County became the mecca of roping and rodeo. It’s home to several world champions, Roy Cooper to Trevor Brazile to Brazilian bull riders like Silvano Alves and others.
Is it a coincidence that Decatur is also home to one of the nation’s top western retailers?
Probably not, Isham said.
“I know it’s luck, and timing, but I feel like we’ve played a role in that, too,” he said. “For 20 years we’ve been putting all this out – and Decatur, Texas, is on everything we ship.”
It’s an American success story.
And from the looks of what is rising out there on the hill, Decatur won’t be giving up the title of “Cowboy Capital” anytime soon.
Posted on 30 July 2014.
Educators from across Wise County recently attended the 85th Annual Convention of the Texas State Organization of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International in Lubbock.
Those attending included Dianne Radcliffe of Runaway Bay; Lou Hitt, Cathy Chapman, Linda Carter, Carol Donovan and Dee Ann Archer, all of Decatur; Jane Burgess of Chico; Rachel Gasperson and Virginia Dick, both of Bridgeport; and Judy Smith of Alvord. Also attending with the Wise County group was Jacquetta Graves of Henrietta.
The local chapter, Gamma Epsilon, which included members from Clay, Montague and Wise counties will be led by President Linda Carter for the 2014-16 biennium. The chapter received the Five Star Newsletter Award and the Annie, given for an outstanding program, during the convention.
With 9,000 members in Texas, the honor society for women educators promotes excellence in education and personal and professional growth of women educators. The international organization, with more than 90,000 members in 18 countries, gives scholarships to members, both on the state and international levels, and provides other opportunities for leadership development to members.
The honor organization of key women educators was formed in Austin on May 11, 1929, at a time when it was illegal for women to belong to a women’s organization.
The group was formed by Dr. Annie Webb Blanton from a nucleus of 12 founders representing all levels of education, kindergarten through university, from various parts of Texas.
Amongst these 12 was Dr. Cora M. Martin of Chico.
Posted on 30 July 2014.
At one of the world’s most prestigious rodeos, Wise County cowboys brought home three of the seven titles.
Trevor Brazile, Jarrett Blessing and K.C. Jones all won titles at the 118th Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.
“It was the perfect storm with three of the seven champions being from here,” Brazile said. “It’s amazing for such a small area. It was cool to watch. After Jarrett and I won, my wife, Shada, pointed out that we had a chance for the three titles. K.C. then came through and won steer wrestling.”
Brazile captured the tie-down roping title. The world’s most decorated cowboy put together an aggregate time of 37.1 to take first place and pocket $22,699.49 in winnings.
Brazile made runs of 12.6, 12.1 and 12.4.
“There’s so much tradition there. I remember watching my dad and all my heroes roping there,” Brazile said. “Anyone who grew up in rodeo, it’s one you want to win.”
It was Brazile’s first tie-down title in Cheyenne. The 11-time all-around world champion had previously claimed team roping, steer roping and all-round titles at the rodeo.
“It’s nice to have that come together when I needed an extra boost in tie-down,” he said.
The victory moved Brazile to fifth in the PRCA tie-down standings with $65,939.40 in winnings. Fellow Decatur cowboy Tuf Cooper leads the class with $106,396.07.
Brazile owns a commanding lead over Cooper in the all-around class with $178,941.96 in winnings in 2014.
“It’s been a good year. When you do three events, it’s tough juggling all of them,” Brazile said. “Now, I’ve got them all balanced.”
Blessing brought home Wise County’s first title of the weekend in Cheyenne. He tallied an aggregate of 58.9 to win the steer roping and rake in $14,933.
“It was my fourth time to make the short round but I’ve never came in that high with a chance to win it,” Blessing said. “I knew I had a decent shot if I drew a decent steer that let me rope him.
“It’s a rodeo you always dream of winning. I remember going there with my dad and roping under the bleachers. It’s like a dream to win. It’s a great opportunity.”
Blessing wrapped up the title with a run of 19.6 in the short-go. He opened the rodeo with a run of 16.3 and had a 23 in the second outing.
“I made a really good run in the first round and got by in the second,” Blessing said.
Jones closed the stellar weekend for the county, winning the steer wrestling with an aggregate of 30.2 and earning $13,204.75. He made runs of 8.6, 8.7 and 12.9 to win.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
Alastair Spriggs didn’t make it out of the first round of the “Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” washer tournament Tuesday at the Wise County Old Settlers Reunion. But it didn’t spoil the night for the Canadian who made the longest trip among the more than 500 participants in the tournament.
“I remember someone saying there was someone from Florida. That’s not even that far,” said Spriggs, who was in town from Ottawa visiting his aunt in Weatherford.
“The people were nice. They were all rooting for me.”
Spriggs joined his cousin, Ashley Musick, to form one of the 243 teams that battled for bragging rights and apparently helped set the world record for the largest washer tournament. Organizers were given a goal of 125 teams by Guinness to set the record.
“It’s unbelievable. We didn’t just beat the record; we drove a stake in it,” said organizer Carey Williams. “It was a community effort. Everyone pitched in.”
It may take as long as 15 weeks before the record is certified by Guinness, Williams advised.
“It could be 30 days or 90,” he said. “We’ll submit everything – all the video, names, addresses, pictures and the group photo of every player. All the stewards also had to sign reports.”
The players ranged in age from 84 to 6-year-old Austin Zuniga, who won his first-round match with his partner and mother, Gina.
“It was good. We won,” Austin said.
“He did great,” Mrs. Zuniga said. “He’s been practicing with the neighbors. We want to play his dad and brother.”
Winning just added to the fun for the Zunigas, who were glad to take part in the event.
“We’re in the Guinness Book of World Records without having to jump out of an airplane 5,800 times,” Mrs. Zuniga said.
The push for the record brought out crafty washer veterans as well as rookies – like Lee Molloy and Adam Mutchler of Miami.
“It was our first time ever throwing washers,” Molloy said.
“It’s much harder than it looks,” Mutchler added.
“We heard about it and wanted to be part of a world record. I think we were part of two – this, and the longest game record.”
But theirs wasn’t the longest match of the first round. C.L. Gage and his partner outlasted their opponent in a game that went on for nearly an hour.
“That’s tough on an old guy,” Gage joked.
Chad Ward and his partner started the tournament 2-0 and thought they would be in the running for the title. Ward explained the proper technique for throwing washers.
“You’ve got to maintain a slight angle or it’ll bounce off the board,” he said.
As the night wore on, teams like Belly Up to the Board and Daddy Was Desperate fell by the wayside. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Pumpkin Chunkers team of Matt Runkel and Caleb Woodlee was the last team standing.
They prevented Dylan Rottner and Kyle Parker from living up to their team name – 2014 Washer Tourney Champs. The young duo of Lawson and Layton Harris, or 99 Problems but the Pitch Ain’t One, took third.
But even those like Spriggs, who exited in the first round many hours earlier, felt the night wasn’t a washout.
They could take solace in being part of a world record.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
Two teenagers were injured when their vehicle flipped on Farm Road 2264, south of Decatur, Wednesday afternoon.
Timothy Paul Dennis, 19, and his passenger, Justice Marie Sampson, 18, were traveling east on FM 2264, near Long Branch Road, at about 1:30 p.m. when he swerved to the right to avoid a rock in the road.
He then overcorrected and pulled the car to the left, causing it to flip and roll off the side of the road into a ditch.
Dennis suffered neck injuries, and Sampson suffered back and spinal injuries. Both were taken to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Patrick Alonzo said that speed may have been a factor, but the driver’s overcorrection was the main cause of the wreck.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
Cyclists from across North Texas will sweep through the roads of Wise County’s Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands Saturday, Aug. 2, as part of the Eighter From Decatur Bike Rally.
The second annual event, sponsored by Wise Electric Cooperative and First Financial Bank, offers a course that winds through up to 55 miles of rolling hills between Decatur, Alvord, Forestburg and Greenwood.
Entry fees for the rally will benefit Raquel’s Wings for Life, a locally-based charity that flies cancer patients to a medical center of their choosing free of charge.
Fabio LaBrada, the charity’s founder and pilot, said last year’s ride helped several patients get the treatment they needed. This year’s event is poised to be even larger.
“Last year, it was way better than we thought,” LaBrada said. “This year, even more people are getting involved.”
LaBrada has been training to participate in the ride.
“I’m just warning you, the 25 miles is very deceiving,” he said. “I did it last Sunday. On the way there it was a piece of cake – on the way back, not so much.”
Kelly Myers, assistant general manager of Wise Electric, is a cyclist as well. Myers said he and other staff members, along with some at First National Bank, came together to plan the event after enjoying similar events elsewhere.
“We thought with us riding bikes that we ought to have something in the Decatur area,” he said.
Other events like the Springtown Bike Rally, the Weatherford Peach Pedal and the Graham Possum Pedal have inspired Decatur’s rally. Myers said planners incorporated the most positive aspects from each into the Eighter from Decatur event. That includes five rest stops, medals for finishers and a free meal for riders after they complete the route.
And the Decatur rally offers a more personal touch as well.
“We had homemade cookies last year at one stop so this year we’re doing homemade cookies at all the stops,” Myers said.
This year’s ride will also feature increased signage – including large signs warning motorists to pass cyclists with care as well as repetitive route marking for the riders. LaBrada said he hopes more awareness will benefit both the riders and passing motorists.
Planning the event is no small task, he noted.
“It’s big,” he said. “It even goes down to talking to the local farmers and saying ‘Keep your dogs away from the road.’”
It’s worth it, though, Myers said, for a good cause.
“Last year we were right around 200 people. If we get 400 this year, I’ll be really happy,” he said. “Actually, anything we get, I’ll be really excited because we’re already making money for this charity.
“I know it’s a lot of work, but it really does make you feel good when you can do something like that.”
To register early for the Eighter From Decatur Bike Rally, go to active.com or call 940-626-3006. On-site registration is 7 a.m., the day of the ride, which starts at 8.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
A Chico man was injured in a two-vehicle accident at Texas 114 and Farm Road 51 shortly before 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Jimmy Shelton, 54, suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
“He was complaining of neck pain and had an extended period of unconsciousness,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Zeb Siebeneck. “He became conscious and alert on the scene.”
According to Siebeneck, Shelton turned left from southbound FM 51 onto 114 in a 2000 Jeep Cherokee in front of a Direct TV Ford van driven by Kristopher Earley, 27, of Springtown. The van, which was westbound on 114, struck the SUV near the front wheel well on the left side.
Earley was uninjured in the wreck.
Siebeneck said a witness behind Earley said he was driving under the posted speed limit of 65 mph.
The trooper added that Shelton would be cited for failing to yield the right-of-way.
The crash shut down 114 in both directions for nearly an hour.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
An Alvord man was arrested for copper theft this week after seeing his photo posted on social media.
John Edward Gibbon Jr., 32, turned himself in to Decatur police Wednesday, according to Decatur Police Sgt. Gerald Wright.
“He’d heard about the video still posted on the Messenger’s website,” Wright said. “He looked at it and decided to turn himself in. He said, ‘Yes, that’s me.’”
One of the photos, which was posted on the Wise County Messenger’s Facebook page and published in the Saturday, July 19, issue of the paper, showed Gibbon walking through a parking lot at Wise Electric Co-op on Farm Road 730 in north Decatur. The business was burglarized twice, on July 11 and 14.
Wright said Gibbon confessed to both of those burglaries and a copper theft at nearby Perkins Construction, located on Old Decatur Road.
Overall, Gibbon is accused of stealing six complete rolls and four partial rolls of copper wire for a total value of $1,037.50.
“He said he took the copper to Fort Worth and had someone else sell it for him,” Wright said. He added that the reason Gibbon gave for stealing and selling the copper was that “he needed money.”
Wright said Gibbon told him he was not involved in other copper thefts around the county.
Wright worked with investigators at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and said it’s possible other arrests could be made in connection with the case.
Gibbon has been charged with theft of material (copper) valued at less than $20,000 – a state jail felony. He posted $10,000 bond and has been released from jail.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
The certified tax roll came out Friday, and overall values in Wise County are up 5.3 percent.
Wise Appraisal District releases values each year, giving cities, school districts and other tax-supported public entities a tax roll they can bill off as they finalize their budgets.
There were few big winners in Friday’s numbers, but no one saw any huge losses, either.
“It was pretty healthy overall,” Chief Appraiser Mickey Hand said. “With so much of the oilfield activity moving south, 5.3 percent for the county is a pretty good increase.”
Boyd ISD, with an overall increase of nearly 13 percent, was the healthiest school district. Boyd’s big gains came in minerals (up 24.4 percent) and industrial, utility and personal (IUP) property (up 13.5 percent).
The city of Boyd topped all Wise County cities, too, with a 5.18 percent overall increase in tax values. The big gains, again, were minerals and IUP.
“Those IUP increases came primarily in oilfield compression and pipelines coming in,” Hand said.
He noted Decatur and Bridgeport both had new processing plants that came online during the year, as Devon expanded a plant and Targa built one.
The losses, he noted, came mostly in the city of Chico as oilfield equipment was moved out of the county, and in the city of Rhome where some of the older mineral values had simply depleted.
“On the minerals, you’re not sure how much longer it’s going to continue, but there’s always going to be wells here,” Hand said.
New construction continued to gain, with $76,203,902 countywide compared to just over $71 million last year. Hand said housing, too, was “pretty decent for the most part.”
Some of the highlights from the chart:
Posted on 26 July 2014.
The intersection of U.S. 81/287 and Business U.S. 287 on the south side of Decatur will be closed for approximately eight weeks, starting Tuesday.
The Texas Department of Transportation issued a press release that stated the intersection would be closed starting July 29 for reconstruction of the north tie-in of Business U.S. 287 to U.S. 81/287.
Northbound motorists on U.S. 81/287, traveling to Business U.S. 287, will detour to exit Farm Road 730 South to College Street. Motorists will turn right, traveling north on College and will turn right on Hale Street, traveling east to U.S. Business 287.
Motorists on Business U.S. 287 traveling to U.S. 81/287 will travel the same route but in the opposite direction to arrive at the highway.
Ultimately, this $12.1 million project will construct a diamond interchange that will provide a four-lane grade separation of U.S. 81/287 over U.S. Business 287 South. Two-lane service roads for local access will also extend from just north of U.S. Business 81 South to Farm Road 2264. Entrance/exit ramps on both the east and west sides of U.S. 81/287 will be constructed.
The service road will provide an extension of Farm Road 2264 northward to U.S. Business 287 South, which will operate as a two-way roadway. All other service roads will continue to operate as one-way.
The project is slated for completion in the fall of 2015.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
Elected officials are taking a hard look at the county’s computer system.
County Judge Glenn Hughes told commissioners at their July 14 meeting that he’d been in talks with Prince Computing Corp. about reviewing the county’s information technology (IT) system.
“They’ll tell us what we need to get to the 21st century,” he said.
A Prince representative on July 16 gave a presentation to county department heads with the exception of commissioners. Since it wasn’t a public meeting, all commissioners couldn’t attend, but Precinct 4 Commissioner Gary Potts and Hughes were present.
They will likely give a report in Monday’s regular commissioners meeting.
Hughes told commissioners in the July 14 meeting that the cost would be “about $125 per hour,” but the company was not charging for the initial consultation and meetings.
“All I’m really doing today is letting you know that we’re considering this … it’s not a contract,” Hughes said.
The judge said Prince would audit the county’s entire system and help them devise a five-year plan for IT. He explained that he thought it would save money in the long run because equipment purchases would be made according to a plan and everything would be compatible.
“If we buy three computers and they’re not compatible with monitors or servers or anything else, it causes us to go buy five more,” he said. “I’m not saying anyone has done anything wrong.
“I’m just saying we need some help in telling us where we need to be.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance said he thinks everyone agrees improvement is needed.
“Most department heads I’ve talked to feel this is mandatory,” Hughes said.
In Monday’s meeting, commissioners will hear a presentation by Extension agents Todd Vineyard and Chrissy Karrer on summer 4-H activities. Wise County 4-Hers who were awarded scholarships at Texas 4-H Roundup will also be recognized.
In other business, each commissioner will present their annual road reports.
The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
When school let out for the summer two years ago, Melanie and Michael Tittor of Paradise and their family prepared themselves for a full slate of pool time and sunshine.
Melanie had enrolled her daughters – Emma and Lana, then ages 5 and 3 – in swim lessons, which were to begin a few weeks later.
The older daughter was not thrilled.
“But you hear about people drowning,” Emma argued.
Her mother replied, “Sister, kids only drown when the parents aren’t paying attention.”
That very afternoon, the family learned that isn’t always the case.
Melanie, a kindergarten teacher at Paradise Elementary School, and a group of teacher friends and their spouses gathered for a Memorial Day barbecue complete with swimming.
While in the pool, Lana always wore a flotation device that extends across her chest and around the arms. When it came time to eat, she had removed the cumbersome device and left it floating in the shallow end of the pool.
When it was time to swim again, Melanie sent her to retrieve the floatie.
Lana was walking across the shallow end of the pool when she stepped too far. She fell into water over her head and didn’t come back up.
“It wasn’t one of those wild scenes of seeing her struggle,” Melanie said. “She didn’t make a sound.”
Melanie recalled coming back to the porch and moments later realizing Lana hadn’t come back.
A group of junior high boys in the pool saw Lana wading in the shallow end and didn’t think much of it at first.
Then, one of those boys, Martin Crawford, spotted the youngster lying at the bottom of the pool. Melanie estimates Lana was underwater no more than five minutes. By the time Martin reached her, she was already unconscious.
He swam down and picked her up. By then, Michael and other adults realized what happened, and they ran to the edge of the pool.
Michael plucked his daughter out and immediately, a Paradise ISD school nurse (Tammy Pewitt) and Ben, Martin’s father, began performing CPR.
By the time medics arrived, Lana was conscious and talking. She was flown by helicopter ambulance to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth anyway.
“They didn’t know if she might’ve accidentally hit her head when she stepped off the step or how much water she had ingested,” Melanie said. “Because they did full-on chest compressions, she could’ve very well had a broken rib or punctured lung.”
Fortunately, she was fine. There was a little bit of water in her right lung so doctors kept Lana overnight so she could be monitored. But she was discharged less than 24 hours after she was brought in.
A follow-up visit to the pediatrician later in the week cleared her.
“Everything turned out OK,” Melanie said. “But it’s made me very conscious and diligent.”
These are traits she advocates and strives to spread.
Among her efforts is the desire to dispell the myth of drowning, a perception she once mistakenly held herself.
“It wasn’t one of those situations where we weren’t paying attention – we were all right there,” Melanie said. “I knew what she went to do. It wasn’t that I lost track of her or that she got back in without permission. She knows she has to have her floaties on.
“You think you’re paying attention, but it just happens so fast,” she continued. “It was minutes, literally minutes, that we were apart.”
Although she commends Martin and the other junior high boys for their quick reaction, she encourages others who find themselves in a similar situation to yell for help.
“None of the kids in the pool said anything. They just all started moving toward her,” Melanie recalled. “We’ve really tried to teach the kids if they even think someone’s struggling to yell to an adult. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
In addition, she pushes the importance of conquering the fear.
Although the girls weren’t to begin their lessons until the end of June, they were bumped up and back in the pool with instructors within a week of the accident.
Emma, who originally was hesitant, did very well on her own. Lana and Melanie enrolled in the Mom and Me class.
“We were the oldest ones in that class, but that was OK,” Melanie recalled. “We just wanted to get her in and let her splash around to help her get over her fear of getting back in. It wasn’t until the end of that summer before she would let go or trust a floatie to keep her from going under. She wouldn’t get her head wet at all, and she definitely struggled with going under. Unfortunately, she remembered all of what happened.”
Now, Lana doesn’t need the flotation device unless she’s swimming with a large group of people or in a pool she’s not comfortable with.
“She is fearful in that she knows she can’t just bail off into the deep end without somebody right there, and she won’t go in by herself,” Melanie said. “But she’s not scared to get in the water … I’m very thankful she’s not traumatized.”
Beyond defining circumstances that lead to drowning, calling for help and swim lessons, Melanie mostly pushes for CPR certifications.
Twelve adults were at the Memorial Day gathering. Six of them were CPR certified, including Melanie.
“Had I been put in a situation where I would’ve had to do CPR on my own kid, of course I could,” she said. “But I was very thankful that it wasn’t me because it was the most surreal moment. I’m so thankful they were there. I’m so glad they knew what to do. That helped saved her life.”
The fall after Lana’s accident, Melanie and the school nurses coordinated a training for Paradise ISD employees and the community, where more than 30 people became certified, including Lana’s dad.
Melanie anticipates the district will continue with the class this year, which previously cost around $20.
“It’s not much to pay to know what to do in a life-or-death situation,” she said. “Just take that precaution, and be proactive instead of reactive.”
Decatur Fire Marshal Deroy Bennett agrees. In 2007, his department established the Community Heart Savers, monthly CPR training programs.
His department offers the classes three times a month.
On the first Tuesday, and fourth Thursday, they offer a four-hour Heartsavers/AED certification class. Cost is $5 for those who live and work in Decatur or $25 for anyone else.
A class for healthcare providers and a Heartsaver/AED/First Aid class are typically offered on the third Saturday.
The healthcare providers class is for anyone with any type of medical certification (nurse’s aides, dental hygienists, etc.), while the latter training adds basic first aid techniques (dealing with lacerations, bug bites, bandaging, etc.)
Cost for the class, which is eight hours, is $25, which covers materials.
Bennett hopes the low prices will entice residents to enroll.
“Typically, the normal, average citizen will say, ‘Yes, I’d like to have that,’ but they’re not going to go out and pay $45 or $65 or $85 for that,” Bennett said. “However, they’ll do it for $5.”
Decatur firefighters who are certified by the American Heart Association teach the classes. Bennett said that when the program began, the department had four instructors. That number has grown to about a dozen.
Other courses, class dates and times are available. Certifications are valid for two years.
Classes range in size from seven or eight to large groups of more than 20, especially if a large group from a specific church or business registers together.
To register, call the fire department at 940-627-3199 or email email@example.com.
“The ultimate goal is to get more trained people in the public to help save people in these instances,” Bennett said. “It could be me. It makes me feel safer knowing there might be somebody out there that would be trained to save me or my family.
“I find great satisfaction in my job – and always have – knowing that if I could make someone in my community safer in any way, whether that’s teaching them CPR or saving their property or them in the event of a fire.”
“You just can’t be too careful,” Tittor said.
COMMUNITY HEART SAVERS
The Decatur Fire Department offers CPR trainings three times a month – the first Tuesday, third Saturday and fourth Thursday.
Classes include Friends and Family CPR, Heartsaver CPR, Heartsaver CPR/AED, Heartsaver/AED/First Aid and BLS for Healthcare Providers.
To register or for information, call Decatur FD at 940-627-3199 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the request of Kimberly Aaron, medical director of the emergency department at Cook Children’s Health Care system, the hospital system newsroom released a story Thursday following three drownings in one week.
The report contained several alarming statistics including:
“It’s unusual for us to have three cases in one week … and we still have many weeks of summer left,” Dr. Aaron said in the article. ” … We realize that it could happen to anyone. It happens very, very quickly. We’re not being judgmental. We feel so strongly about this and knowing how it impacts us we wanted to reach out and raise awareness to the community.”
Posted on 26 July 2014.
David Fielding, attorney for former Precinct 4 County Commissioner Terry Ross, filed a brief July 14 in a continued effort to appeal his removal from office.
The appellant brief, filed in the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, summarizes Ross’ version of the facts and contends the summary judgment in his removal case was unwarranted.
District Judge Roger Towery issued the judgment, removing Ross from office March 19 to settle a civil suit filed by retired Texas Ranger Lane Akin of Decatur in June of 2012.
That suit was filed in the midst of an investigation that Ross had built a playhouse for his grandchildren in the county barn, using county money and employees on county time.
Ross was eventually charged with tampering with governmental records, theft of $500 to $1,500 by a public servant, and abuse of official capacity greater than $20 and less than $500. After multiple delays, he was scheduled Sept. 23, 2013, to go before a judge and jury, but instead accepted a plea deal.
Ross pled guilty to abuse of official capacity, a misdemeanor, and got $500 restitution and 180 days in jail, probated for one year. As part of the agreement, the two felony charges were dismissed.
Ross claims in the appellant brief that “at the time of the plea, (he) understood that he could be reinstated to his position with the county with full back pay.”
Fielding outlines in the brief that Ross’ removal should be reversed based on the following three arguments:
County Attorney James Stainton must file a response by Wednesday, Aug. 13. A three-judge panel will eventually rule on the appeal.
Posted on 26 July 2014.
Mike Simpson, senior partner of the Wise County law firm Simpson, Boyd and Powers, announced Wednesday that the firm name has changed to add the name of new partner Allen Williamson.
“I am pleased to announce that the partners of the firm have decided to add the name of Williamson to the firm name,” he said in a press release. “Allen has been with the firm since 2006 and has been an equity partner since January. We feel that the time is right to change the name to Simpson Boyd Powers and Williamson.”
The firm was founded in 1998 by Mike Simpson, Derrick Boyd and Ross Simpson. In 2003, Alan Powers’ name was added.
A native of Hobbs, N.M., Williamson received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in 1996 and his law degree from Texas Wesleyan School of Law (now Texas A&M School of Law) in 1999. He began his career in the Wise County district attorney’s office before joining the firm.
He is licensed in Texas, Oklahoma, all federal district courts in Texas, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Williamson has been recognized as a “Rising Star” by a Thompson Reuters Service for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013. This award is given to the top attorneys in Texas under the age of 40. He currently serves on the State Bar of Texas Pattern Jury Charge Committee.
Since 2008, Williamson has been honored to serve in the elected position of Wise County Republican chairman.
He is married to Mendee, and they have three children, Jessica, Amber and Aaron. He and his family reside in Runaway Bay.
Simpson Boyd Powers and Williamson have offices in Decatur and Bridgeport.
Posted on 23 July 2014.
A former longtime court reporter for the 271st District Court in Decatur was back in a familiar setting Friday – but on the other side of the law.
Jeff Goodwyn pled guilty to the charge of manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance in the amount of 1 to 4 grams, a second degree felony. He agreed to eight years of deferred adjudication and a $1,000 fine.
The 57-year-old Decatur resident was arrested June 14 of last year following an undercover sting. According to a search warrant affidavit in the case, Goodwyn drove to Fort Worth the night of June 13 to obtain methamphetamine and returned to a motel in Decatur during the early morning hours of June 14 to engage in sex and take drugs. Instead, the man he met at the motel was an undercover narcotics officer.
Goodwyn was arrested for the possession of 3.5 grams of methamphetamine and taken to Wise County Jail, where he posted bond the next day.
Following his arrest, investigators searched Goodwyn’s home and collected several computers, DVDs and a cell phone as evidence. No additional charges were filed.
Among the numerous conditions of his community supervision, Goodwyn must perform 240 hours of community service, including no less than 16 hours per month until completion; submit to regular drug testing; complete a drug/alcohol evaluation; submit to a psychological evaluation and attend counseling; not possess firearms and abstain from alcohol.
He must also report to a licensed therapist for a sex offense evaluation “including psychological, psychiatric and/or psychophysical testing, a clinical evaluation and clinical polygraphs if needed, as determined by the therapist conducting the evaluation.”
The conditions do not include any additional jail time. If Goodwyn were to violate the terms of his community supervision, prosecutors could seek to proceed with adjudication. The possible penalty for the second degree felony would be a jail term of two to 20 years.
Goodwyn was employed by the district court for more than 30 years prior to his arrest. Due to his working relationship with the court, Goodwyn’s case was heard by visiting judge Elizabeth Berry, and attorney Lisa Mullen represented the state. Decatur attorney Barry Green represented Goodwyn.
Posted on 23 July 2014.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has appointed Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) to the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) advisory committee.
The position filled by Estes was vacated by Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock, who retired to become chancellor of the Texas Tech University System.
Last November, Texas voters approved Proposition 6 and the creation of SWIFT, a state-funded account to assist in financing rural water projects, projects related to conservation and reuse, and water projects in communities and cities of all sizes throughout the state.
The advisory committee is comprised of a designee of the state comptroller, three state senators and three state representatives. It makes recommendations on rulemaking, the fund’s investment policy and how money will be spent. Each year the advisory committee will receive a written report on investments made using SWIFT funds.
“Concerning water availability in Texas, the decisions we make now have great implications for the future,” said Estes. “This is why I will use my appointment to ensure the money allocated by the people of Texas to SWIFT is used wisely and responsibly to develop and conserve water resources in this state.”
Estes serves nearly 820,000 constituents across Senate District 30, which includes Wise and 13 other counties.
Posted on 19 July 2014.
Several of the historic cabins at the Wise County Reunion grounds are getting makeovers.
Cabin owners and hired hands have been out at the park for almost two weeks, preparing the short-term residences for the week of Reunion.
Chase Chapman, owner of Chapman Irrigation, said his cabin is getting new sod laid to prepare for the ever-popular washer tournament.
“We spend a lot of time out here playing,” Chapman said, “it’s better than just being out in the road.”
Chapman’s team has medaled in three of the past four washer tournaments. This year, the tournament’s single-elimination format has several teams changing their approach to the competition.
“The strategy is simple,” Chapman said. “Don’t lose a game.”
This year’s tournament, to be held on Tuesday, is going for a Guinness world record and is expected to attract more than 100 teams.
Just down the road from Chapman’s cabin, David Wade is busy working on another cabin.
The contractor said time has played a big role in the degradation of several cabins’ structural stability.
“After 60-plus years, things start to fall apart,” Wade said. “You have to stay on top of it. With weathering aging the wood, it’s gotten a bit shaky.”
In recent years, several of the dilapidated wooden structures at the park have been replaced by steel buildings.
For short-term improvements, Wade plans to run braces around the cabin, hoping to make up for years of damage.
“Age has a way of making things wear out,” Wade said. “There’s a lot of work to be done here.”
REUNION ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE
Mr. and Miss Pageant 7 p.m. Ages 6 months to 9 years
Theme: Picnic in the Park
Sponsored by Chalet of Jewelry and Sarah Jane’s Flower Shop. Applications available at Decatur Chamber of Commerce, Legend Bank, Chalet of Jewelry, DATCU and North Texas Bank.
“Put Yo Money Where Yo Mouth Is” Washer Tournament
Pre-Register at wisecountywashers.com
Registration and check-in 4 p.m. at Reunion Grounds
Tournament starts 7:30 p.m.
The Hinkles followed by Rick Bowling and Roland Upton “Ric & Rol” 7 p.m.
Arrendadores del Valle 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Mike Ryan 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Phil Hamilton 11 p.m.
Jake Hooker and The Outsiders 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Midway Entertainment Provided By: Happy World
Posted on 19 July 2014.
It would have been hard to script a better scenario for a mid-July day in the midst of a drought.
Cool temperatures and storms that brought several inches of rain, yet no damaging winds or major flooding issues, were a welcome sight Thursday.
The northern part of Wise County, particularly Alvord, received the most rainfall. Weather-watcher reports ranged from 7 to 9.97 inches in the area.
Rising water washed out a culvert on County Road 2585 a few miles east of Alvord. The road was closed, and repair work is expected to begin next week.
During the heaviest rainfall in the early morning hours Thursday, some roadways experienced flash flooding. Water rose over U.S. 81/287 near the roadside park north of Decatur at one point, leaving at least one vehicle stranded. No injuries were reported.
Small lakes and stock tanks with water levels well below normal thanks to the ongoing drought began to fill back up, and creeks that had been dry or reduced to a small trickle or puddles roared back to life.
A flood watch was issued Thursday afternoon for Big Sandy Creek, but a predicted second round of storms stayed to the south, meaning the creek stayed just below flood levels. The creek crested at 11.66 feet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Minor flooding begins at 12 feet.
At the beginning of the day, the creek had stood at around 1 foot.
The rain brought Lake Bridgeport up only about three inches – meaning the lake remains more than 22 feet low. But it did increase the total acre-feet of water in the lake from 148,600 to 150,700. That 2,100-foot increase translates into around 684 million gallons of water.
To put that in perspective, the City of Decatur drew just over 165 million gallons of water from the lake from January through May of this year.
Perhaps just as valuable was the cloudy skies and cool temperatures, slowing evaporation which can drop the lake level several inches a day on dry, 100-degree-plus days.
The 4.58 inches of rain recorded in Decatur on Thursday alone already makes the entire month of July the wettest since 2010, when Decatur received 5.59 inches for the month. It could also give the city a shot at the rainfall record for July – currently 6.78 inches set in 1996.
It will also ensure a second straight month of above-average rainfall. The average rainfall for July is 2.37 inches. Last month’s 5.01 inches exceeded the average June rainfall amount of 4.26 inches.
You have to go back nearly four years, to Sept. 7, 2010, to find the last time Decatur received as much rain in a single day. The heavy rainfall in 2010 was the result of Tropical Storm Hermine.
That was also the last year Wise County had above-normal annual rainfall, and the last time area lakes were full.
Other rainfall totals from around Wise County Thursday included 4.3 inches in Greenwood, 2 in Bridgeport, 1.8 in Paradise, 1.7 in Cottondale and 1.59 in Rhome.
The cold front that accompanied the rain provided unseasonably cool temperatures Friday as temperatures remained in the 60s into mid-afternoon under cloudy skies. High temperatures were expected to remain in the 80s on Saturday before climbing back into the mid-and upper-90s next week.