Early voting starts Monday

Early voting for the May 9 school board and city council elections starts Monday.

Voters may cast ballots 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at early voting locations Monday, April 27, through Tuesday, May 5. There are special hours – 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. – on the Tuesdays (April 28 and May 5) during early voting.

Voting locations are listed below.


City Hall – 215 W. Elm St.


City Hall – 900 Thompson St.


City Hall – 400 S. Hovey St.


City Hall – 201 E. Walnut St.

Special voting location and time: 6 to 8 p.m. April 27 and May 4 at Decatur High School


City Hall – 105 W. First Street

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High school seniors honored for outstanding character

Eight Wise County high school seniors were honored for their outstanding character at the Character Counts banquet Thursday night at Weatherford College Wise County.

Those recognized included Alvord’s Joe Randall, Aaron Hammett of Boyd, Keaton Vawter of Bridgeport, Chico’s Austin Collins, Justin Myers of Decatur, Northwest student Domingo “Eli” Ponce IV, Austin Hogan of Paradise and Slidell’s Jessy Goode.

Elite Eight

ELITE EIGHT – Eight Wise county high school seniors were honored Thursday night at Weatherford College Wise County for their outstanding character traits. Those recognized include (from left) Keaton Vawter, Aaron Hammett, Joe Randall, “Eli” Ponce IV, Austin Collins, Jessy Goode, Austin Hogan and Justin Myers. Each student received a $5,000 scholarship for their continued education. Messenger photo by Jake Harris

The students were selected by faculty members at their respective schools as examples of outstanding character in and out of the classroom. Each one received a $5,000 scholarship toward their continued education.

The banquet was hosted by Brian Stephens, whose insurance agency Stephens Bastian and Cartwright sponsored the event.

Rick Carone, a former Chicago White Sox catcher and current videographer for “Buck Commander,” gave the keynote address. He focused on how the students need to keep a good perspective on life because that is the source of their character. “It’s humbling to be here speaking to you tonight because these kids here didn’t wait to choose character – they chose character first,” he said.

He drew on his own experience being diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer two years ago as an example of him working to keep things in perspective.

“I truly believe that we are formed more by the negative events in our life than we are by the positive events,” Carone said. “And that’s enabled me to keep a good outlook on life.”

Wise County Judge J.D. Clark presented the awards to each student as they were accompanied by their parents and the faculty member who nominated them. Each faculty member gave a speech as to why they nominated their student.

Stories of students helping younger children, leading Bible study groups and donating time working at charities echoed off the walls of the Weatherford College cafeteria as proud parents watched.

“When you talk about a community and the strength of a community, the greatest resource is good people, and I believe that trait starts at a very young age,” Clark said. “I’d like to applaud all of these students tonight.”

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May Elections: School Board

City council and school board elections are Saturday, May 9, and early voting starts Monday, April 27, and runs through Tuesday, May 5.

The Messenger sent candidates questionnaires, and asked that answers be limited to 50 words.

School board candidates were asked to address the following:

1. Rank issues by importance and emphasis: academics, athletics, band and fine arts, facilities, technology, transportation, vocational programs

2. Rank groups as a resource for information in making decisions: administration, parents and teachers, taxpayers, fellow school board members

3. Primary reason for seeking a place on the school board: continue the direction and policies of the district, change the direction and policies of the district, lower the tax rate.




Occupation: Lease operator

Education: High school

Family: Wife, three boys and one girl

1. One is not more important than the other. There are lessons (life lessons) learned with the right teaching and coaching in, athletics, band and fine arts, vocational programs and of course, academics. It is also important to improve our facilities and stay current with the changing times and seems like nothing changes more often than technology. (Exceeded the word limit.)

2. Everyone plays a part. Parents have their child in school and want the best for their child as well as I do. Taxpayers, we put our money into the school, and we have ideas and would like our opinions heard. For nine to 10 months, teachers/coaches are around our children more than anyone. (Exceeded word limit.)

3. I graduated from Alvord. I have lived here most of my life. It’s time I give back to my school.


Kevin Wood

Occupation: Chemistry instructor, North Central Texas College

Education: BS, MS

Family: Spouse Marcia Wood (elementary teacher in the Northwest ISD); two children: Zack, 2007 Alvord High School graduate currently serving in the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor and Caleb, 2013 Alvord High School graduate, a junior at Texas State University and serving an internship in the Texas Legislature with District 123 Rep. Diego Bernal

1. Essential school management, as in business, includes setting goals/priorities. Board omission or emphasis of any one area (including food service and maintenance) without supporting data/information would be negligent. Data-driven identifiable district goals that focus on long-term student preparation and success are the most effective approach for a board member.

2. A school cannot function properly without measured participation from all of these groups. School personnel must be allowed to manage the school and provide relevant educational information; the school should seek parents/taxpayers input, but the board must ensure TRANSPARENCY under law allowing ALL groups access to the decision-making process.

3. Bringing a broad understanding of the educational process with experience in board procedures, public and higher education, I am committed to the future of the AISD by assuring all students are provided excellence of instruction and classroom teachers are provided every opportunity for training to address every student’s needs.




Brian Hand

Occupation: Small business owner

Education: Associates of Applied Science, North Central Texas College; Chico High School Class of 1997

Family: Wife Lana; daughters Kambree, Abby, Carly, Cara

1. Academics, vocational programs, athletics, band and fine arts, transportation, technology, facilities

2. Parents and teachers, taxpayers, administration, fellow school board members

All dependent on the decision at hand.

3. I feel that there are things that both need to stay the path and be addressed for change. In my opinion, this is an ongoing effort of balance. My goal is to help provide the best benefits to the student and faculty needs, while providing a balanced budget.


Occupation: Department of Labor (mine inspector)

Education: Chico ISD graduate, 1982; Mine Safety and Health Academy graduate, 2014

Family: Married to Bonnie Redwine 26 years; J.D. and Jessica Redwine, past graduates of Chico ISD and current student of Chico ISD.

1. Academics, facilities, technology, transportation, vocational programs, fine arts and band, athletics

2. Taxpayers, parents, teachers, administration, fellow school board members

3. Continue the direction and polices of the district

We have a good direction and good policies in place. Even though they are good, they need to be continually updated as our district progresses.



Chad Patterson

Occupation: Owner/GM of PATH Oilfield Services, LLC in Chico

Education: High School

Family: Spouse – Missy (Ward) Patterson; Children – Hunter York, Alli York, Tanner York and Paisley Patterson

1. Of utmost importance are our children. They are our future. I believe that setting higher goals and standards in academics should be our first priority. In doing so, not only do we improve the quality of life of our kids, but for our community. Programs such as athletics, music, agricultural education and technology are of high importance as well. (Exceeded word limit.)

2. Input from everyone is important, but I believe teachers are highest in priority. They are on the front line. Their input can only better our kids when it comes to education and safety. I am looking forward to working with everyone from the board and administration but will make it a priority to open better lines of communication with parents.

3. My reasons for seeking election to our school board are simple … to improve and increase opportunities for our children when it come to their education and therefore improve the quality of life in the city of Chico. I would also definitely strive to maintain a fair and accurate tax rate for our citizens.


Mark Tate

Occupation: Owner T Top Manufacturing, Chico and Bridgeport

Education: B.S. Industrial Engineering, Tarleton State University

Family: Wife of 26 years, Carrie; son and daughter-in-law Austin and Shaley Tate; daughter and son-in law Casey and Luke Plummer; daughter Corey at Texas Tech University; grandson Lane Aaron Plummer, 3; and granddaughter Cooper Shae Tate, one month

1. The students are the most important issue. Depending on their career path, each of the above items would play a different role of importance. We must provide the latest technology, a safe learning environment and a well-balanced curriculum to meet every child’s needs.

2. Every decision requires different input. Finances would require all of the above with the student’s behalf being the most important factor. Making decisions with student welfare as the top priority instead of personal agendas is what every board should strive for. Friends or family over the students is not right.

3. Continue to help keep the board focused on the student’s welfare as opposed to personal welfare. Our taxes are paid to produce quality-educated future leaders and providers, not make the district a family business. This is always a problem for small towns.



Lori Clark

Occupation: Retired teacher

Education: Bachelor of Education, University of North Texas

Family: Sons J.D. and Jesse; daughter-in-law Alecia; grandchildren Natalie, Cain and Hayes

1. A quality education includes all these aspects. Academics should always be first. Vocational programs, athletics, band/fine arts and technology all create passions in our students to develop new career skills and interests. The importance of quality facilities and transportation cannot be underestimated because it means safety for our students.

2. I am a strong believer in local control. Our families, our faculty and our community know what is better for our children than an over-reaching, one-size-fits-all government. These stakeholders should all have strong, valued voices when it comes to the future of our school and community.

3. Our direction should always be toward excellence for our children and fiscal responsibility for our taxpayers. As a retired teacher, my heart loves kids and believes in education. My late husband, my sons and I are Chico graduates, and my granddaughter is a kindergarten Dragon. I believe in Chico ISD.


Occupation: Self-employed

Education: Chico High School

Family: Spouse Terrisa; children Jessica Coffman and Melanie Tolliver

1. I feel that all issues related to the kids are important. However, academics are huge for me. If they have a good education, this will benefit them in all future endeavors.

2. I believe that we all must work together for the benefit of the children and community. Our kids are our future; therefore all decisions relating to them should be important.

3. My primary reason for seeking a place is to continue the direction of the district and to make sure that any and all decisions are for the benefit of the children, faculty and community.



Ashlee Bohn

Occupation: Independent agent with Stephens, Bastian and Cartwright, LP

Education: Master’s degree in business administration

Family: I have been married to my handsome husband Cary for three years. I am blessed to have two wonderful children, daughter Parker, 7; and son Jaxson, 5; both who attend Rann Elementary. I also have two step-children Matthew, 14; and London, 9; who attend the Keller ISD.

1. Academics, vocational programs, band and fine arts, technology, athletics, facilities, transportation

First and foremost, we must equip our students with the best possible academics. This goal must reach well beyond the goal of standardized testing and state funding objectives. Band, fine arts, technology and athletics are next in line because of the direct impact they have on producing well-rounded adults.

2. Parents and teachers, administration, taxpayers, fellow school board members

Parents’ and children’s interests must be kept paramount. They are why we exist and need a voice. Next I listed teachers. They are on the front line and are an invaluable resource. They must have a seat at the decision-making table.

3. There are many areas I feel where the direction and policy of our district is right on target. There are, however, concerns that have to be addressed, so that all of our schools are ranked exemplary and we stop losing as many children and teachers to private educational institutions.


Dr. Matt Joiner

Occupation: Associate dean, Weatherford College Wise County

Education: Tarleton State University (Bachelor of Science in Education), Texas Woman’s University (Master of Educational Administration), Texas Tech University (Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration)

Family: My wife, Kelly, a Registered Nurse, and I have been married since 2000. Our children are Trinity, age 10, a fifth grader at Rann Elementary, and Reagan, age 7, a first grader at Rann Elementary. My parents, Gerre and Jo, are also Decatur residents.

1. Academics, vocational programs, band and fine arts, athletics, transportation, facilities, technology Instructional coursework must always take precedence. Research demonstrates that students who involve themselves in fine arts and athletic activities are more successful inside and outside the classroom and in the longer term. The remaining three critical areas infuse themselves into every facet of education and are necessary for student success.

2. Parents and teachers, taxpayers, administration, fellow school board members

Each of these groups has a defined and important role to play in the educational achievements of our students. We’re each playing for the same team and for the same, non-negotiable, foundational goal – student success. Collaboration, communication and high-quality relationships will be key determinants in achieving our shared goal.

3. Continue the direction and policies of the district

Decatur ISD stakeholders must continue to commit themselves to continuous improvement and a future-oriented vision. We are blessed with financial and personnel resources as well as a supportive community. It is my goal to utilize these valuable commodities while helping to make an already-successful district even more effective in its efforts.

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May Elections: City Council

City council and school board elections are Saturday, May 9, and early voting starts Monday, April 27, and runs through Tuesday, May 5.

The Messenger sent candidates questionnaires, and asked that answers be limited to 50 words.


City council candidates were asked to address the following:

1. Rank the following issues in terms of importance and emphasis for your city: taxes, streets, water and sewer, parks and recreation, fees (water, sewer and garbage), economic development, law enforcement, attract new residents and housing developments.

2. Which statement best describes your primary reason for seeking a place on the city council?

a. correct administrative or financial problems that exist within the city

b. change current direction and policies of city

c. continue current direction and policies of city

d. increase local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

e. maintain or lower local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

f. support bond election to improve city issues as needed, including streets, law enforcement, parks

g. oppose tax increases required to improve city facilities, including streets, parks, etc.



Vicki Stokes Holder

Occupation: Medical assistant for Dr. Thomas Steffen in Decatur

Education: Bridgeport High School 1979 Graduate; Education America 1997 Medical Assistant

Family: Children Jonathan Holder and Mary-Beth Holder. Both graduated Bridgeport High School.

1. Economic development, streets, water and sewer, parks and recreation

2. I want to help the direction of our city with changes or corrections as needed.


Occupation: Retired postal service worker

Education: Some college

Family: Wife Sandra; sons Harold and Clay; two granddaughters

1. They’re all important, but the streets are the emphasis for me. I’d say they certainly need attention. Taxes are also always important. I want improvements to happen, but I don’t want to increase taxes to do it. And then fees, economic development, law enforcement and attracting new residents.

2. None of them are the primary reason, but I would say I want improvement without a tax increase. I don’t see how we can lower taxes without being detrimental, but I don’t support a tax increase either. Streets and infrastructure are the ones that need to be up front.



Kevin Lopez

Occupation: Firefighter/paramedic

Education: Working on associate’s degree in fire science

Family: Wife Erin, one son and one daughter

1. As a public servant by profession, I recognize the importance of funding law enforcement so they can continue to effectively protect our city. However, a city council member must recognize that all the elements of city government have a symbiotic relationship and that each element has equal importance to keep a city prospering.

2. My primary reason for seeking office is to lower our city’s electric rates that have burdened Bridgeport’s citizens and businesses alike. Through frugal spending and taking whatever action that is necessary, as long as there is no negative impact on Bridgeport’s citizens and local businesses, we can effectively fund our police and fire, systematically fix our streets and build upon our city’s positive attributes to keep our city moving in a positive direction.


Jimmy Meyers

Occupation: Contract oil field pumper

Education: One year of college

Family: Wife Janis; daughter Kristy Murphy (husband Ryan Murphy); son Luke Meyers (wife Kelli Meyers); five grandchildren – Landri, Allie and Garrett Murphy and Cooper and Cason Meyers

1. Streets, water and sewer; law enforcement; parks and rec; taxes; attract new residents and housing developments

The streets have been a low priority the last few years. It is time to correct this issue. There are also some city structures that are in need of repairs. This also needs to be addressed. Bridgeport’s law enforcement department is in good shape. The Parks and Rec Department has done an amazing job offering many different activities attracting many people in this area, thus impacting our city economy. (Exceeded word limit.)

2. c. Continue current direction and policies of city



Karen Garrison

Occupation: U.S. postal service clerk

Education: High school

Family: Single mom of two daughters

1: 1. water being the vital resource every city needs to survive, 2. taxes an important part of sustainability, 3. streets, 4. parks and recreation, 5. fees to upkeep and maintain, 6. economic development, 7. law enforcement to protect it all.

2. c. Continue current direction and policies of city

I have been on the city council since 2006, and I have been mayor pro tem since 2009. I have been serving as acting mayor since the seat was vacated by J.D. Clark in November. I have served under two great mayors and have been a part of a lot of changes in our great city. (Exceeded word limit.)


Roger Mead

Occupation: Disabled

Education: West High School in Davenport, Iowa

Family: Mike and Heather Leah of Chico, Steve and Brandy Mead of Burleson and seven grandchildren

1. Keep taxes low, help economic development moving in positive way, get law enforcement seen in the city more, help new residents and housing developments move in, and get new streets and old ones repaired

2. a. correct administrative or financial problems that exist within the city

d. increase local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks


Euell Rackley

Occupation: Works at Brookshire’s in Bridgeport

Education: High school education. He is a 40-year veteran with the U.S. military.

1. I would like to fix all the streets in the city and install streetlights.

2. a. correct administrative or financial problems that exist within the city

b. change current direction and policies of city

d. increase local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks



Occupation: Project manager

Education: High School, vocational, and life itself

1. I believe all of these items need looking at. This city needs to represent the community and their well-being. If that means new residents and more good housing, then I suppose this would rank No. 1.

With that growth would come an increasing tax base, lightening the burden of all of Rhome. (Exceeded word limit.)

2. a, b, d, f and g.


Occupation: Oil and gas

Education: Private high school and some college

Family: I have a wonderful wife named Brytany and a beautiful daughter, who is almost 3.

1. Law enforcement, economic development, bring new residents to Rhome, taxes, water and sewer streets, parks and rec, water and sewer

2. Rhome is in the perfect area for growth. I want Rhome to grow but keep that small-town feel. I believe the city can be cleaned up and be more presentable. I want people to remember Rhome when they pass through, a nice place where they would like to come back to visit, or maybe call home.


Occupation: Retired

Education: High school, insurance and finance schools, and some college.

Family: Mother Marie Moore

1. Economic growth is of utmost importance. With this growth and subsequent tax money, all city services and infrastructure as well as the police and fire will benefit.

2. I actively participate in all city functions and see the need to help the city increase the tax base through planned economic development to allow for increased services and recreation programs.


Occupation: Equipment operator for Tarrant County

Education: High school diploma and college at Midwestern State University

Family: Wife and one son

1. water, economic development, street, and overall maintenance

2. c. Continue current direction and policies of city

I have attended the Rhome City Council meeting for the last two-and-one-half years. Knowing the direction the present council is working to accomplish, I feel my knowledge of the next moves will only help the council move forward on these vital steps.

*Dawn Davis did not return her questionnaire by deadline.



Occupation: Retired

Education: Bachelor of Arts in education, Bachelor of Sciences in mechanical engineering, The Brunswick Management School and Harvard Business School.

Family: Son Scott Childress, granddaughter Taylor Childress, son Jeff Childress, granddaughter Sophis Childress

1. Economic development, streets and water and sewer

As mayor, I will create a solid business package to go after new business to help the Rhome economy and create jobs in Rhome, repair the streets and set up a program to maintain them and build an additional water well so we don’t have to buy as much water.

2. I am president of the Rhome seniors and historian and board member of the Rhome Public Library. I received many calls asking me to run and if elected, settle the unrest that has been on the council for a while and get things running in an orderly business-like manner.


Occupation: I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant working as the accounting manager at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth’s Cultural District.

Education: Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Accounting with Concentration in Taxation from University of North Texas

Family: Three daughters and several grandchildren

1. As a licensed CPA, I believe economic development affects all other city issues. By promoting a sensible economic development plan, taxes and fees to existing residents may be lowered. Improvements to streets, water/sewer and parks will occur with property/sales tax from new sources. New residents will be attracted as well.

2. My primary reason for seeking election as mayor is to provide leadership by example and to correct the problems that exist in the city. Citizen concerns should be addressed fairly. It’s time to handle the business of the city. The mayor should guide the council and city in that direction.


Education: College, extensive management and financial courses

Family: Husband, two daughters

1. Planned economic development is most important, and that revenue will allow the city to improve the water, streets, sewer, parks and recreation, and fire and police departments.

2. c. Continue current direction and policies of the city

I chose to run for mayor because I believe in our city. I can devote full time to the position and have served seven years on the city council. This past year has seen some bumps in the road personnel-wise. We now have an excellent staff.

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Local programs save Earth one can at a time

A soda can hits the bottom of the recycling bin. Later in the week that can, along with a myriad of other materials, hits the curb for collection.

The homeowner walks away, finished with this can and his other recyclables. However, the journey for that soda can is just beginning.

For almost 25 years, Wise County has been doing its part to protect the environment through city recycling programs.

The first community in Wise County to recognize the need and benefit of a recycling program was Chico in 1991. Then-Mayor Nobie Tucker, along with the city council and Laidlaw Waste Systems, set the county’s oldest environmental initiative into motion.

At the time concerns echoed throughout the nation about dwindling landfill space and overflowing garbage sites. It was suggested Texas’ capacity for storing garbage would be depleted by 1997. In a letter to Chico citizens, Laidlaw proposed a solution – a curbside recycling program.

City executive assistant Anita Long is the only current city employee who worked for Chico when the recycling program started. She said citizen participation wasn’t 100 percent and has fluctuated since then, but remained strong.

“I recycle. I have recycled ever since it started,” Long said. “I’ve had people tell me they recycle more than they send to the landfill.”

Over the years, other communities followed suit by creating their own programs, including Runaway Bay, Newark, Aurora and Decatur.

Decatur City Secretary Diane Cockerell said her city’s program began in 2008 at the request of several residents. In 2014, Decatur recycled about 31 tons of material.

Decatur’s, and now Chico’s, service is with Progressive Waste Solutions, which is one of only two companies in Texas that recycle glass.

The hodgepodge of recyclables is trucked to a recovery facility. Screens separate cardboard, paper is separated with blowers and glass has specialized screens for filtering. One kind of plastic bottle is sorted by an optical sorter that scans each type of plastic like a bar code. A jet of air sends the correct bottle type into its holding bunker.

Other plastic bottle types are separated by hand. Magnets are used for tin and steel, while an eddy current is used for the aluminum.

When enough material is collected, it’s baled, and vendors pick it up.

Progressive’s operations manager, Steve Smith, said glass is turned into fiberglass locally, while other material like cardboard is turned into tissue paper. He said metals often become food containers.

“Plastic is the most diverse material,” Smith said. “Once recycled, it can become anything from carpet fibers to clothing to new plastic bottles and new recycle carts.”

According to Recycleacrossamerica.org, five plastic bottles provide enough fiber to make 1 foot of carpet or enough insulation for a ski jacket. Nationwide that equates to a lot of ski jackets since Americans throw away about 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

It’s no surprise that Progressive also finds unusual material in its bins.

“We definitely accidentally receive money and jewelry on occasion,” Smith said. “Typically we’ll receive calls from residents who have lost wedding rings in recycle carts. We’ll actually track down the truck used at that house and empty it to find it.

“We get a lot of strange items like vacuum cleaners, plants, clothes and once we received a call from a resident who was sure she had accidentally recycled her dentures.”

Although there is no data on the benefits of recycling dentures, it has been determined that recycling one soda can saves enough energy to power a TV for three episodes of “Survivor.”

Sometimes establishing a city recycling program can be tricky, but recycling remains the lowest cost and most readily available way to conserve natural resources, according to the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling.

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Speed, failure to yield cause 2 wrecks

Driver error caused two wrecks last weekend in Wise County.

The first wreck, on Saturday, occurred when Bradi Lynn Anderson of Alvord hit a tree in her pickup and rolled about 100 yards, landing in a stock pond on County Road 1308 in Bridgeport.

High Speed Rollover

HIGH SPEED ROLLOVER – Bradi Lynn Anderson’s pickup landed in a stock pond on County Road 1308 after she sped through a fence Saturday. Messenger photo by Jake Harris

A Department of Public Safety trooper said Anderson was speeding and traveling north on CR 1308 around 11 a.m. when she lost control of her green GMC Sierra pickup and drove through a wire fence. She then hit a tree on the left side of the road, causing her to lose the right door and front right tire of her truck before rolling several times.

Anderson was conscious after the accident and was taken to Wise Regional Health System to be treated for lacerations on her arms, legs and face.

In addition to DPS, the Bridgeport fire and police departments were also called to the scene.

18 Wheeler Shutdown

18-WHEELER SHUTDOWN – An 18-wheeler jackknifed after a collision with a pickup on U.S. 81/287 Saturday afternoon, shutting down all four lanes of the highway. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The second accident, also on Saturday, happened around 3 p.m. and caused all four lanes of U.S. 81/287 to be shut down for 30 minutes at the Farm Road 1810 intersection in Decatur.

A pickup attempting to cross all four lanes of the highway to travel west on FM 1810 failed to yield right-of-way to an 18-wheeler heading north on 287.

The 18-wheeler could not stop in time, hit the pickup and jackknifed.

The pickup came to a stop close to the southbound lanes.

Neither driver was injured.

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Officers cleared in shooting death

Five Wise County officers who were involved in the January shooting death of a Granbury man wanted for felony warrants acted legally, a Montague County grand jury decided this week.

The grand jury Monday took no action on the case, meaning they found no evidence of a crime.

The five officers – three Department of Public Safety troopers from Wise County and two Wise County sheriff’s deputies – were involved in a search of a wooded area off Picket Run Road near Sunset in Montague County the afternoon of Jan. 28. Wise County K-9 officer Pepper was used to track suspect Alan Lance Alverson who had run from officers.

The officers began a grid search of the area. The 45-year-old Alverson had buried himself under leaves in a heavily wooded area. Just after 3 p.m., Pepper alerted on Alverson who then raised up and fired at officers twice. One of the shots struck Pepper, killing the K-9 officer. Officers returned fire, killing Alverson.

According to a press release from Montague County District Attorney Paige Williams, Alverson’s autopsy shows he was struck 12 times.

It also showed Alverson had 3 milliliters of methamphetamine per liter in his blood, as well as smaller amounts of amphetamine and doxylamine, Williams said.

Despite the grand jury finding no reason to move forward with criminal charges in the case, Williams has declined to release the full autopsy or report by the Texas Rangers investigating the case. She is seeking an attorney general’s opinion as to whether she must release that information, arguing that the information is not public because the case concluded in a final result other than a conviction or deferred adjudication, thereby making it excepted from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act.

Williams said in addition to the weapon Alverson fired at officers, investigators found one more gun under his body as well as two more fully loaded clips.

The chain of events that ended with Alverson’s death began around 1:30 p.m. when Montague County Chief Deputy JT Mitchell saw a blue GMC Envoy that matched the description in a wanted felony bulletin. The bulletin was for Alverson, who had warrants for violation of probation for assault out of Wise County and possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams out of Tarrant County.

Mitchell began the pursuit and was joined by Bowie Police officer Kurt Berryman. During the pursuit, Berryman reported Alverson pointed a handgun at him.

The pursuit continued south, reaching speeds of up to 98 miles per hour. Alverson abandoned his vehicle on Picket Run Road and ran off into the heavily wooded area.

Wise County Sheriff’s Office K-9 handlers JT Manoushagian and Brett Yaro responded to the scene along with Wise County DPS officers Aaron Wallace, Greg Reyero and Adam Lawson to search for Alverson.

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Wise County Indictments for March 26, 2015

A Wise County grand jury met March 26 and returned the following felony indictments:

Glenn Allen Miller, driving while intoxicated third or more

Justin Micheal Miller, taking certain wildlife resources without consent

Hayward Russell Murphy, theft of property $20,000-$100,000

Austin Garrett King Ogorman, prohibited substance/item in correctional facility

Dane Gavin Oneil, theft of property $1,500-$20,000

Jim Bob Pace, driving while intoxicated third or more

Andrew Allen Proffitt, burglary of a habitation (one count); burglary of a building (one count)

Christopher Dale Lee, fraudulent use/possession of identifying information less than five items (one count); unauthorized use of a vehicle (one count)

Heidi Martin Sons, driving while intoxicated with child under 15

Allen Chandler, aggravated sexual assault of a child (one count); indecency with a child sexual contact (one count)

Kevin Ray Martinez, possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams (once count); possession of a controlled substance 1-4 grams (one count)

Angela Sue Denstitt, abandon endanger child criminal negligence

Marcos Antonio Rodriguez, assault family/household member impede breath/circulation

Calvin Brian Coughenour, driving while intoxicated third or more

Thomas Edward Culp, evading arrest detention with vehicle

Jose Alfredo Espinoza, driving while intoxicated third or more

Tiffany Lynn Herrera, fraudulent use/possession of identifying information less than five items

James Paul Kelly III, obstruct retaliation

Traci Rena Brown, manufacturing/delivery controlled substance 4-200 grams

Johnathan Paige Becker, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Jeffrey Langdon Armstrong, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon

Tiffany Ann Renner, intentionally/knowingly unauthorized discharge waste (two counts)

Christian Ivan Arroyo, possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams

Lillian Marie Bennett, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Kenneth Don Grant, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Zachary Jordan Dyer, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Angela Leigh Fine, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Patrick James Daniels, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Brandy Jane Conn, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Thomas Leon Carlisle, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Jessica Helen Blackmore, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Jennifer Ruth Bell, possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams

Jason Hoyt Tally, manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance 4-200 grams

Kyle Wayne Pierce, possession of a controlled substance 4-200 grams

Ruben Lee Zapata, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Edward Michael Thomas, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Jason Chanse Neal, manufacturing/delivery of a controlled substance 4-200 grams

Timothy Rex Maxwell, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Darrell Lee Lopez, possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram

Ruben Lian, possession of a controlled substance 1-4 grams

Justin Michael Hinchcliffe, theft property less than $1,500 with two or more previous convictions

Dylan Ray Matkovich, tamper with oil/gas rigs to limit/control operation

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Delayed roof repairs dampen spirits

As Wise County welcomed spring showers this week, the jail staff side-stepped buckets catching water from the facility’s leaking roof.

The building was damaged in an ice storm a year-and-a-half ago, and an engineering firm was hired to repair the roof almost eight months ago.

But no work has been done.

County Judge J.D. Clark said the insurance adjusters with the Texas Association of Counties and Eikon Consulting, the engineering firm hired by the county to oversee the project, have been at odds over the cost and scope of the work.

Glenn Hughes, the county’s special projects manager, expressed frustration at Monday’s commissioners meeting.

“I keep telling them there’s ongoing damage on this thing, and if we don’t get something done pretty quick, they’re going to have a lot bigger claim on this building.”

Hughes even suggested Eikon put a temporary cover over the building to try to reduce the continued damage. He said it would cost about $90,000, but he was hoping the suggestion would push them to come to an agreement on the cost of the actual repairs.

“Mainly my point was to get them off center,” he said.

Clark told the Messenger Friday that he, Hughes and commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg met with the TAC insurance pool adjusters and Eikon representatives Thursday.

TAC and Eikon agreed to a cost of $1.4 million. There is still no projected start date for the project, but Clark was confident work would start soon.

Meanwhile, more rain is predicted next week.

The jail is the last of 11 county buildings to be repaired following the ice storm in December 2013.

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County to clear creek bed to eliminate regular flooding

Sandy Creek will be cleared by the county just northwest of Alvord to alleviate flooding. Wise County commissioners approved the work Monday at the request of Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns.

“I have three citizens here that would like help with the blockage in Sandy Creek,” he told fellow commissioners. “It closes County Road 1590 about six weeks out of the year, and it’s been blocked [at times] since I’ve been commissioner.

“It’s a problem for folks living past Sandy Creek and causes a four- to six-mile extra traverse if you live in that area to get to work or Highway 287.”

Burns noted that it’s also a public safety issue because the water gets up to 4 feet deep. The commissioner said there are two bridges in this area, one of which is underwater in these situations and one that is not.

His request was to clean out property owned by Trinity Industries between CR 1590 and Farm Road 1655.

“There’s only about a 5-foot drop between those two roads, and in an area that’s a mile-and-a-half, three-quarters of it is blocked,” he said. “There’s no defined creek channel.”

Burns said the work he was suggesting wouldn’t totally eliminate the flooding, but it would allow the water to drain.

“Are we talking about pulling all the brush out and maybe digging a channel?” asked Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy.

Burns said “yes” and that property owners to the north of CR 1590 had already done so, but work was still needed on the south side.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White asked if the bridges were “good.”

“They’re sufficient,” Burns replied. “They’re underrated. It really needs some more bridges, but in order to build a bridge through there it would be 1,000 feet long.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance wanted to know more about the county’s scope of assistance.

“The best thing would be to use an excavator and clean out the channel and push the dirt up in piles,” Burns explained. “That would be the quickest, easiest and cheapest thing to do, if Trinity Industries would allow us to do that.

“We have a track loader that we could utilize to stack up the overburden.”

He said it would be a summer project probably taking two men about 30 days to complete.

“I basically need permission to contact Trinity Industries and make arrangements with them if they’d allow us to do it,” Burns said. “If you’d allow me to use right-of-way funds, that would be great, but if not I need to use precinct funds.”

Commissioner White thought precinct funds should be used, saying the work should be done “for safety purposes, if for no other reason.”

County Engineer Chad Davis noted that when the creek is out of its banks emergency services can’t get through.

“We’re not going to correct every ill here because we can’t build a channel big enough to prevent the flooding, but we can make it a few days event, like it used to be, instead of a week at a time,” Burns said.

The commissioner said he had previously contacted Trinity Industries about doing the work, but they refused. He’s heard that the property may have sold because Trinity is no longer mining it, but it’s still listed under Trinity on the tax roll.

“Is this in the county’s scope that we would have done, have done or should’ve done?” Lamance asked.

Public Works Administrator Tom Goode said the work would fall under the county’s Big Sandy Watershed Agreement with the citizens of the county and the water control improvement district.

“We have done some channel work on Denton Creek, and we have done some on Salt Creek,” he said.

Burns said he didn’t anticipate many expenses besides fuel, which would have to come from precinct funds.

The Precinct 2 commissioner made a motion to go into an agreement with Trinity Industries and proceed with the work. White wanted to add the contingency that if Burns got into a bind financially, commissioners would help him with money from the right-of-way fund.

The motion passed 4-0.

In other business, commissioners:

  • approved the sheriff’s request to upgrade his department’s tracking devices;
  • approved destroying out-of-date ballistic vests;
  • approved the purchase of a 2015 Ford Police Interceptor to replace a totaled S.O. vehicle;
  • approved accepting unclaimed capital credits from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and dividing that money between the children’s charities supported by the county;
  • approved seeking bids for a truck tractor at the request of Precinct 1;
  • approved again seeking bids for pre-coat rock because none were submitted the first time;
  • canceled the bid with Impact Promotional, which provides the uniforms for the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Wise County EMS;
  • awarded the sale of scrap metal to Bridgeport Iron and Metal;
  • accepted a $500 donation from Sid and Bonnie Hodges to the Sheriff’s Office;
  • accepted a donation of various items, including plywood and poultry cages by the Wise County Youth Fair Board to the county fairgrounds;
  • approved the final plat for Green Acres Subdivision, lots 1-5, in Precinct 2; and
  • approved the final plat with a variance for Casa Linda Addition, lots 1-7, in Precinct 4.

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Walker charged with embezzlement from Wal-Mart

A longtime employee of the Decatur Wal-Mart has been arrested, accused of stealing nearly $240,000 from the store.

Nacina Marie Walker

Nacina Marie Walker, 50, of Decatur turned herself in at the Decatur Police Department Tuesday morning after an arrest warrant for theft of property more than $200,000 was issued. The charge is a first degree felony.

Walker, who is no longer employed at Wal-Mart, had worked for the store since June of 1982. She was working in the store’s cash office at the time of the alleged thefts.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said Wal-Mart’s asset protection manager began an investigation into possible thefts from the store last October. According to the arrest warrant affidavit filed in the case, the asset protection manager was able to determine that from Aug. 22 through Oct. 12 of last year, Walker had stolen $71,073.22 in cash and another $14,886.52 in money orders.

Going back to Jan. 1, 2013, the asset protection manager was able to determine that Walker had stolen an additional $126,141.97 in cash.

When confronted with the evidence, Walker admitted to the thefts, according to the affidavit.

“On Oct. 15, (2014), Walker was interviewed by asset protection managers and admitted in a written statement to committing several thefts from the cash office,” the affidavit states. “Walker advised in her written statement that she was on a salary cap. Walker advised that she needed money for medical bills, her husband’s business and she also advised that she was taking care of her elderly parents.”

Walker said she “was not sure” when she started stealing from the store, “but she advised it started out small with amounts of approximately $50,” the affidavit states.

But over time, she started to steal more, up to $8,000 a day in refund cash, according to the document.

“Walker advised that it became as if she could not stop stealing, and it just snowballed,” the affidavit states.

Hoskins explained how she would steal refund money.

“She would refund merchandise that had already been turned back in and refunded, ring it up again and take that money,” he said.

All total, the investigation revealed a theft of $239,568.99.

Hoskins added that at the time of her arrest, Walker said she “didn’t have a penny” of the money.

Walker was booked into the Wise County Jail and immediately released on $30,000 bond.

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Orgain given 5 years in rape case

District Judge John Fostel Tuesday sentenced Randall Orgain to five years in jail, a week after a jury found the New Mexico man guilty of sexual assault.

Randall Orgain

Sexual assault is a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in jail. However, evidence was presented during the short sentencing phase of the trial Tuesday that showed Orgain, 48, of Carlsbad had been convicted of cocaine possession in New Mexico in 1999.

Because of the previous felony conviction, Orgain’s punishment range could be bumped up to the first degree range of five to 99 years or life in prison.

When asked if he had indeed been convicted of cocaine possession, Orgain, dressed in the black and gray striped inmate uniform, replied “true, sir.”

The case was a bit unusual in that the victim in the case testified that she no longer considers the assault rape, but rather a rape/robbery role playing game.

Juanita Burkham, who lived in Bridgeport at the time of the sexual encounter in April of 2013, told the jury last week that she and Orgain had continued their sexual relationship in the months leading up to the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham played for the jury last week a recorded phone call between Burkham and Orgain in which it is clear she is angry with Orgain after their sexual encounter. At one point in the conversation, Orgain apologizes to Burkham for “pretty much raping you.”

In his argument to the jury, Orgain’s attorney, Bruce Isaacks, asked the jury to find his client not guilty since the victim is now testifying she was not raped.

Once the jury did find Orgain guilty, the case was placed in the hands of Fostel for sentencing.

During a brief closing argument in front of the judge on Tuesday, Isaacks once again pointed out that the victim said it was a sexual role playing game and not rape, and he asked that if Fostel was going to use the first degree punishment range, he asked for the minimum five-year sentence.

Lapham argued that Orgain and Burkham had spent time together since the assault and had in fact seen each other the night before the trial, which pointed to Orgain trying pressure Burkham to recant her earlier statements about an assault.

“Where was that evidence?” Fostel replied.

Lapham asked for a 25-year sentence.

Saying that the case “had unusual circumstances in it, no doubt,” Fostel said he found no evidence that Burkham had been threatened to make sure she testified in Orgain’s favor, and he sentenced Orgain to five years in jail.

Orgain did not testify in either phase of the trial.

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Commissioners seek new thoroughfare plan

Wise County commissioners Monday approved authorizing County Judge J.D. Clark to initiate a thoroughfare study with North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Clark told commissioners that NCTCOG has agreed to pay for the study and has set aside about half a million dollars to do so.

The county had a thoroughfare plan done in 2009 by Kimley-Horn, but it hasn’t been reviewed since.

“A thoroughfare plan … you can’t just get it in a binder and put it on a shelf,” Clark told the Messenger Tuesday. “It needs to be more of a living document, as situations change.

“We plan to make our previous thoroughfare plan available and accessible to COG.”

In a letter to commissioners asking they allow him to authorize the study, Clark said the project will provide an evaluation of multimodal transportation needs within Wise County and a comprehensive assessment of the county’s transportation issues and forecasts for future growth and safety. The study could take 12 to 18 months and will include public meetings facilitated by NCTCOG to discuss and identify transportation issues throughout the county.

Clark said Tarrant County is currently conducting its own study, and by Wise County reviewing its transportation needs at this time, the plans can be coordinated.

He said he plans to meet with Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley to “compare notes and collaborate to make sure we’re not creating a new issue by planning two different things.”

Clark said by working with COG on the project he hopes that will also better direct Texas Department of Transportation funds to where it’s needed most in Wise County.

“There’s already been projects pointed to by TxDOT to where some of the Proposition 1 funding needs to go in Wise County, but COG would like to know if we think something different because we’re the ones that drive it every day.

“We’ll see how our previously done thoroughfare study stacks up and how much of it is still valid and reliable and what of it needs to be tweaked.”

Clark said he expects work to begin on the study this summer.

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Jury convicts man of rape; Verdict comes despite victim’s objection

A Wise County jury Wednesday convicted a New Mexico man of sexual assault even though the victim testified that she no longer considers it a rape.

Randall James Orgain

Juanita Burkham, who now lives in Jacksboro but lived near Bridgeport when the incident occurred, told the jury that she and Randall James Orgain, 48, of Carlsbad, had previously had a sexual relationship, but they were not together when he showed up uninvited at her Wise County home April 28, 2013.

Orgain had traveled from Amarillo, where he was living at the time, to tell Burkham about his dad’s death. The two had visited for several hours, went fishing and came back to her house during the early morning hours where they played a card game and watched some videos, Burkham testified.

The sexual encounter occurred when Orgain told Burkham to come into the bedroom to look out the window where a “robbery” was taking place. At that point, he climbed on top of her with a mask over his face and held her down while engaging in sexual intercourse.

After their sexual encounter, Burkham went to the hospital to be treated for injuries. Investigator Mike Neagle with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office was called to the hospital, and he transported her to Denton Regional Hospital for a sexual assault examination.

DNA testing was performed to prove that the two had engaged in sexual intercourse.

Based on the information she gave investigators and the physical evidence that linked Orgain to the alleged crime, he was arrested July 8, 2013, for sexual assault and remained in jail until he posted bond Jan. 16, 2014, according to Wise County Jail records.

But Burkham, who admitted that the two have resumed a sexual relationship since the alleged incident, now says the sex was consensual.

“I never said I was raped,” Burkham testified.

She later testified that the two of them had engaged in sexual role playing in the past, and they had discussed a robbery/rape fantasy. But she said she did not suggest they play out this particular fantasy during his April 2013 visit because they were not dating at the time.

One of the key pieces of evidence in the trial was a recorded phone call between Burkham and Orgain just hours after the incident. Orgain begins by saying he is sorry.

Burkham then asks him what he is sorry for.

“Sorry for taking advantage of you,” Orgain says on the call. “I’m sorry for roughing you up and for having sex with you. I’m sorry because I shoulda never did that, to anybody … I’m sorry for pretty much raping you.”

As the phone call continued, Orgain asked why Burkham wouldn’t come to his dad’s funeral.

“You just told me right now that you raped me, and then you want me to go to your funeral and play like it’s a (expletive) game,” she said during the call. “You need to know what the definition of what a (expletive) rape is I guess.”

Burkham’s words later in the phone call also seem to indicate that she did not consent to the sexual encounter.

“You know what, when you are dating somebody … and they come to an agreement … and say, ‘I would like you to pretend, you know, to do the whole roughage and maybe tie me up,’ that’s you dating someone you got that trust. We’re not dating. Whatever gives you the authority to roll up in my house to pull this stunt? Who gave you that power?” she said in the call.

During the trial, Burkham testified that she was off her “psych medications” at the time of the incident and had “made a mistake.”

Wise County Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham asked Burkham if she and Orgain had discussed her testimony and the possibility of her being charged with the misdemeanor charge of filing a false report to testify that she was not raped so that Orgain wouldn’t have to serve jail time for a felony offense.

“We talked about options,” she said.

Neagle testified that Burkham had indeed used the word “rape” during his interview with her, and she never once mentioned it was a role playing game.

Orgain’s attorney, Bruce Isaacks, called one witness, private investigator Cami Sandifer, who was assisting him on the case. She testified that she had spoken with Burkham in December of last year, and Burkham had told her at that time she did not think she was sexually assaulted.

Lapham said he only found out Tuesday morning, when Burkham showed up for the trial, that she would testify she was not assaulted.

During his closing argument, Lapham reminded the jury that it was their job to determine if Burkham had given her consent to have sex at that time, “not 17 months later.”

“Where was she when he was arrested, bonded out, came here month after month?” Lapham said. “Why didn’t she say anything about it being consensual until the case was getting ready for trial?”

In asking for a “not guilty” verdict, Isaacks pointed out that Burkham had testified under oath that the sexual encounter was a fantasy and not an actual rape.

“She told you she doesn’t want to see an innocent man go to prison,” he said. ” … It’s not your job to judge freakish sexual acts … as long as it is consensual.”

During the four-hour deliberation, the jury asked to listen to the recorded phone call again. They also requested the entire transcript of Burkham’s testimony, but they were asked to narrow their request to certain portions of the testimony.

Just after 4 p.m., the jury returned the “guilty” verdict.

A sentencing hearing in front of District Judge John Fostel is Tuesday morning. Sexual assault is a second degree felony, but due to a previous felony drug conviction, Orgain is facing the punishment range of a first degree felony: 5 to 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Lapham said Orgain had earlier turned down a deal in which he would plead guilty to sexual assault and receive a sentence of two years in jail, which also would have required he register as a sex offender for life.

Following Burkham’s testimony, the district attorney’s office had offered a deal in which Orgain would plead guilty to aggravated kidnapping in exchange for a five year-sentence. Under that agreement, he would have been eligible for parole after serving half the sentence, and he would not have to register as a sex offender. Orgain also turned down that offer.

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State to exclude math results

Local school officials are applauding the Texas Education Commissioner’s decision to remove the results from this year’s standardized math tests taken by students in grades 3 through 8 from the August accountability ratings.

Commissioner Michael Williams made the announcement Wednesday that the results from the new, more rigorous math portion of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) implemented this year would be excluded.

“The teachers I have spoken with have confidence that Texas students will, in time, adjust to the more rigorous math standards, but for accountability purposes asked for a transition year,” Williams said in a press release. “Based on what I hear from those working in the classroom, I agree and will not count grades 3-8 math assessment results in 2015 accountability ratings for schools, charters and districts.”

Results from the tests will still be reported to districts in September, according to the release.

Many local administrators said Williams’ decision was correct.

“There’s no doubt that it’s the right thing to do,” said Bridgeport Superintendent Eddie Bland. “We’ve changed to a completely new test with a new set of math [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills]. There needs to be a transition period.

“We were prepared to work in the system. But we have so much pressure on high stakes testing. When making a significant change, it’s the right thing to do to have a transition period.”

Boyd Superintendent Ted West pointed out that on the new math test, third- and fourth-graders are now required to know concepts and applications that were previously on the fifth-grade exam.

“It’s a big step as far as increasing the standards,” West said. “It’s only fair to give us a year to adjust.”

Wednesday’s announcement followed Williams’ previous decision to suspend the requirement for fifth- and eighth-graders to pass the math portion of the STAAR for promotion to the next grade. The suspension applies only to 2014-15.

“We already knew we didn’t have the student success initiative part with the math,” said Judi Bell, Decatur assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “It takes a lot of pressure off the kids with the new standards kicking in. They still will be tested.”

Bell said with the new math tests, algebraic and geometric terms that used to be in the upper levels have trickled down to the elementary level.

“When the math standards were rewritten, there was a desire to know more algebra and geometry before high school,” Bell said. “At every grade level there’s geometric and algebra concepts. It’s very difficult.”

Bell pointed out that fifth- and eighth-graders will still have to pass the reading exam for promotion. She also said the reading, writing, social studies and science exams will be even more important without math results counting for accountability.

The commissioner’s decision also doesn’t remove the math results from counting toward the federal accountability measures.

“Math is still in play for the federal accountability measures,” Bell said.

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Pickup sideswipes car, 1 injured

A woman was transported to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur from a two-vehicle accident on Texas 114 near the intersection with Farm Road 51 North Wednesday afternoon.

Jack Knifed

JACKKNIFED – A truck and horse trailer driven by Valeriano Lambert of Weatherford sideswiped a sedan driven by Lisa Huffstuttler Wednesday afternoon on Texas 114, before wrecking in the ditch. Huffstuttler was injured and hospitalized at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Lisa Huffstuttler, 51, of Weatherford suffered non-life threatening injuries according to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Patrick Alonzo.

“She had neck and back injuries. She’s in stable condition,” Alonzo said.

Huffstuttler was headed west on 114 shortly after 4 p.m. in a Hyundai sedan when her vehicle was sideswiped by an eastbound Dodge Ram pickup pulling a horse trailer driven by Valeriano Lambert, 60, of Weatherford.

“He was traveling at an unsafe speed and lost control of the truck and trailer, jackknifed and struck the car,” Alonzo said.

“It was an unsafe speed for the wet conditions.”

Huffstuttler’s vehicle ended up in the westbound ditch after hitting a road sign.

The empty trailer being pulled by Lambert ended up on its side also in the westbound ditch.

The accident backed up traffic in both directions on 114 with the westbound lane closed.

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Granger addresses constituents’ questions

Granger addresses constituents’ questions

Longtime Congresswoman Kay Granger spoke to a luncheon crowd of more than 100 Wednesday at the Decatur Civic Center.

Decatur Visit

DECATUR VISIT – Congresswoman Kay Granger (center) talks to County Judge J.D. Clark and Northwest Superintendent Karen Rue prior to Wednesday’s luncheon. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Granger, first elected to represent the 12th Congressional District in 1997, is the only female Republican in the Texas delegation.

She recalled being asked at another event what it was like to be the only woman and “what do the men think?”

“They’re scared to death of me!” she said with a laugh.

Granger was once mayor of Fort Worth, and she’s a former teacher and small business owner. She represents the east side of Wise County, western Tarrant County and all of Parker County in Congress. Her counterpart, Mac Thornberry, represents the western side of Wise.

Granger is chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and vice chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. She also serves on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee.

Wednesday’s program was a Q&A with Messenger publisher Roy Eaton and questions submitted by the audience. Topics included immigration, ISIS, veterans and water, among others. Here is a sample of the questions she answered.

One of the major issues is the threat of ISIS. Give us your thoughts and where’s the end game in this battle?

“The Islamic extremists, their guiding message is to fight to the end of the world and destroy all infidels; an infidel is anyone who doesn’t believe the way they believe, and also to reestablish a caliphate, which is their land and property.

“If you follow that and watch what they’re doing with these individual terrorist organizations, they’re demanding they join ISIS.”

Granger went on to say that she’s been traveling in recent months and with a contingent visited with other countries to see what they will do to help in the battle against the terrorist organization.

What progress is being made to improve medical care, both mental and physical, for veterans today?

“In some cases we’re doing good work and in some we’re not at all doing what we should do for those who risked their lives, and their futures, to keep us safe.”

Granger said there was an issue with veterans not receiving care because some of their issues were considered pre-existing conditions, issues they had before war.

“We have to give care to those people, to men and women who served, and give the best care we can.”

Wise County has a significant Hispanic population. Tell us about the committee you chaired that visited the border to look into the children being brought across it.

Granger organized trips to see what was happening, and at that time there were about 50,000 children who had recently crossed with no family and no where to go.

She said one place had 1,200 children – 600 boys and 600 girls – and they had 72 hours to determine the status of their health before finding them a place to go.

Granger said they were doing nothing to determine where their families were located.

Her committee recommended these children be kept in facilities at the border instead of being shipped across the U.S. She visited Honduras, Guatamala and El Salvador, the countries with the most children here, and their government officials assure her that they wanted their children back.

They also visited with leaders about the problems in their countries that led to the children being sent to the U.S. alone.

She said so far, only 2,000 children have been returned to their home countries.

What do you see in the future of Wise County for water needs?

“Water is the new oil and what oil used to be. Communities really depend on a strong water supply, and every town, city and state is looking at that. I’m very confident about what’s happening here.”

Granger said she worked with the Oklahoma governor on an agreement between the two states to buy water not being used in our neighbor to the north, but in the end, it didn’t work out.

“The Oklahoma governor said, ‘I know it makes sense, but in this day and age you try to explain to citizens that you’re selling their water, even if you’re not using it, and it’s not going very far.”

You’re known for being accountable to your constituents. Can you elaborate on the importance of accountability of elected officials?

“I’ve always said that we all owe back to the community. There are people in this room that could do exactly what I’m doing, and I know this. You have allowed me to do it.

You’ve supported me, you’ve given me that responsibility and that trust, so I owe you 100 percent on everything – no less. I do try to do the very best job in everything I do.”

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Meeting Previews for Saturday, April 11, 2015

NORTHWEST ISD – Northwest ISD trustees will review the 2015-16 compensation plan during a workshop 5:30 p.m. Monday. The workshop will precede the 6:30 meeting that includes contract extensions for teachers and administrators and contracts with Durham Transportation and ARAMARK for food service. Trustees will also discuss a waiver from the TEA for days missed due to winter weather and paying employees impacted by the weather.

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS – Wise County commissioners will discuss Monday authorizing County Judge J.D. Clark to initiate a thoroughfare study with North Central Texas Council of Governments. They will also consider taking action to assist with drainage blockage in the Upper Sandy Creek on County Road 1590 and Farm Road 2265. The meeting is 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur. It is open to the public.

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL – The Decatur City Council will consider an agrerement with the City of Bridgeport to share costs of a billboard advertising for the Main Street programs of both cities at Monday’s meeting. The council will also hear a presentation and approve the Decatur Community Wildfire Protection Plan, consider and act on a lease agreement with Ed Bell Construction Company regarding city-owned property, act on various plat and replat applications and declare May as Motocycle Safety Awareness Month in the city. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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Raccoons and pipes the cause of fires

Two small fires occurred within 24 hours of each other this week.

The first, a house roof fire on Hilltop Drive just north of Boyd Tuesday, was thought to be caused by a raccoon in the attic.

Fire Marshal Chuck Beard was on the scene shortly after the fire was extinguished and said he found some raccoons in the attic that might have chewed through some electrical wire, starting the fire that spread to the house.

The Zormeiers, who live in the home, escaped quickly and without injury.

“We were just sitting in the living room watching TV when I smelled smoke, and then we called 911,” John Zormeier said.

The second was a well house fire in the backyard of a house on Private Road 4011 in Decatur Wednesday.

An arcing pipe is thought to have caused that fire, which destroyed the well house.

The Decatur fire department was on scene to assist with the fire. Nobody was injured, and the fire did not spread to the main house on the property.

Homeowner Chuck Ziegenfuss, who has been living at the residence for about three months, said he noticed the fire when he thought he heard rain while working inside his house.

“I thought I heard some heavy raindrops, and when I looked outside, it was sunny,” he said. “Then I saw the fire, and at that point the well house was pretty much burned down already.”

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Wise County Sheriff’s Office to welcome new K-9

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office will soon welcome a new K-9 officer, replacing K-9 Deputy Pepper, who was fatally shot in the line of duty Jan. 28.

“I’m happy to report that the program will be back on target the first of May,” said Sheriff David Walker at last week’s mobile county commissioners meeting in Slidell.

Commissioners on the Road

COMMISSIONERS ON THE ROAD – Wise County commissioners (from left) Danny White, Kevin Burns, County Judge J.D. Clark, Gaylord Kennedy and Harry Lamance held their first mobile meeting last week in Slidell. Also pictured are (far left) County Clerk Sherry Lemon and commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg. White gave a report on the road work being done in Precinct 1, and Sheriff David Walker gave a presentation on the K-9 unit. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

He gave a presentation on the department’s K-9 unit and said Sgt. JT Manoushagian left this week for a month to pick up and train with the new dog at Vohn Liche Kennels in Indiana.

“I call it a bite dog, and they get mad at me and say it’s called an apprehension dog,” Walker said. “He’s dual-trained, so not only can he help track missing kids and missing elderly, but he can also help us in the apprehension of criminals that want to run from us.”

Walker said the K-9 unit evolved from the traffic division, and they still go hand-in-hand.

“We had talked about doing a K-9 program and enhancing our patrols,” he said. “We designed a traffic division years ago, and in that we just keep growing it and growing it.

“As the world of law enforcement changes and the nature of the world today, we felt it’d be beneficial for us to have a K-9 program.”

Walker said Manoushagian and a K-9, Acor, joined the department about a year ago and found immediate success. Since then the department grew to include two more dogs – Pepper and Flip, whose partner is Deputy Brett Yaro.

Walker said Yaro and Flip recently won Rookie Dog of the Year from the United States Police Canine Association.

“In the last 60 days, we had 26 K-9 arrests and 17 fugitive apprehensions, around 22 total warrants,” Walker said.

Since Pepper’s death, donations have poured in, totaling more than $50,000. Devon Energy had planned to donate $20,000 before Pepper was killed, and following his death, they committed another $10,000.

A doctor in New York is purchasing the newest apprehension dog, which costs $15,000 to $20,000, and is also paying for its training.

“We have a couple thousand cards and donations from around the world,” Walker said. “It’s amazing.”

He said due to the community support, the K-9 program is operating a year ahead of its expansion schedule.

“What we were planning to do in 2017, we should be able to do in 2016,” Walker said. “We’ll see how our funding goes, but we hope by 2016 to have three [dogs] on the road all the time in three different shifts.”

Acor will continue working, along with Flip, until the new dog arrives. Walker said the dog’s getting older, though, so he will be used as a reserve once the new K-9 is in place. They hope to acquire another dog in 2016.

Walker said as the number of K-9s grow, so does the need for manpower in the unit. The men and women partnered with the dogs have to pass a battery of tests and maintain a high level of physical fitness.

“It does us no good to have a dog running through the woods chasing a fugitive if the officer can’t keep up with the dog,” Walker said.

The sheriff said the officers handling K-9s also wear different clothing better suited for the rough environment in which they work. Their green uniform provides better coverage when pursuing suspects in wooded areas, and it’s made from a heavier material to protect the officers.

They also wear a bulletproof vest on the outside of the uniform, which enables them to remove it if necessary to crawl under a car and look for drugs or in other similar situations.

“It’s a good program, and I’m proud of the guys,” Walker said. “I’m one person and the K-9 program and patrol… they’re the ones that make the ball roll.

“They’ve done a great job, and I think it’s beneficial for the citizens and little kids to see the dogs in the elementary (school) and for the criminals on the street to know that if they run from us, we’re going to catch them with a dog.”

Attending the meeting with Walker were Manoushagian and Acor, Deputy Robert Sparks; Chief Deputy Kevin Benton; and Lt. Chuck Gomez, division commander over traffic and the K-9 department.

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