Weatherford College enrollment outpaces other community colleges

Like most Texas community colleges, Weatherford College saw a decrease in enrollment for the fall 2014 semester.

The good news is that among its peer group – other Texas colleges with similar enrollment numbers – WC performed very well.

Normally, as unemployment drops, so does community college enrollment. A stronger economy means fewer people going back to school for training in a new field.

But with 5,636 students, Weatherford College is down less than one percent in student headcount compared with last fall. Over the past two years, WC still holds a 1.3 percent increase while statewide enrollment is down 3.2 percent over the same period.

College President Dr. Kevin Eaton told the board Thursday that he is encouraged by WC’s enrollment data when compared with the rest of the state.

The WC Wise County campus has a 1.75 percent increase in its student population year-to-year, and dual-credit and online courses continue to increase in popularity across the entire five-county area served by WC.

In a strategic plan update report later in the meeting, Dr. Arleen Atkins, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, further discussed the increasing popularity of dual credit courses, where students earn high school and college credit at the same time.

WC now has agreements with all the high schools in its service area to offer courses to their students.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Bids for color and web printing;
  • The purchase of JET grant welding equipment and ultrasound equipment for sonography;
  • A renewal of proposals for commercial charter bus services;
  • The purchase of radiology equipment;
  • Updates to policies incorporating a ban on all electronic cigarettes and electronic vapor devices.

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Sales taxes slump in August

When it comes to sales tax collections, most Wise County cities have had a pretty good year through three quarters of 2014.

But August was not a terrific month.

When October sales tax figures were released this week, only three of the county’s 12 cities showed a gain over last year. The October sales tax represents sales made in August and reported to the Comptroller on September returns.

The down month left eight cities still in the black for the year, but it put Decatur and the total just below the line.

Decatur took in $310,632, down 9.2 percent compared to last year. The city’s 10-month total of $3.392 million is less than a quarter-percent below last year’s $3.4 million.

Bridgeport’s October check was down 9.5 percent and left the city 5.3 percent behind last year.

Aurora had the biggest loss, percentage-wise, with a 79 percent reduction from last year’s $14,370 to $2,960 this year. That city is 25 percent behind 2013.

Not far behind was New Fairview, which saw October income plummet from $46,692 last year to $16,817 this year – a 64 percent dropoff that left the city 15.7 behind last year through 10 months.

Rhome was up 11 percent in October, Alvord had a gain of 10.8 percent and Boyd’s collections were up 9.7 percent.

Wise County, which gets a half-cent sales tax, saw a 5 percent decline in October.

Statewide, cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts’ October allocations totaled $621.7 million, up 7.2 percent compared to October 2013. For the year they’re up 6.4 percent.

Sales Tax October 2014

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Upcoming Meetings for Saturday, October 11, 2014

DECATUR COUNCIL – The Decatur City Council will convene at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut. They’ll consider several appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Adjustment and will vote on second readings to raise library fines, airport fees, water and wastewater fees. They’ll also look at continuing to contract with the Wise County Appraisal District for property tax collections, and look at a police department request to make Deer Park Road from Eagle Drive to Preskitt a one-way road northbound from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30.

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS – Wise County commissioners will consider on Monday a request from Fire Marshal Chuck Beard to hire an outside communications consulting agency to link all the radio towers and systems. They will also discuss trying to acquire two modular buildings through the federal government, as they continue to seek additional office space. Regular business will include consideration of bids, discussion of plats, project agreements and committee and department head reports. Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur. The meeting is open to the public.

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Elections administrator’s start date debated

The turmoil over the appointment of Jim Parker as interim elections administrator continued to brew at a Wise County Elections Commission meeting Wednesday.

The group met to clarify what the majority of the members deemed a clerical error in the paperwork naming Parker as interim EA. The resolution submitted to the Secretary of State’s office says Parker will assume the interim EA duties on Sept. 23, which is the same day he was appointed to the post. He also resigned from his vice chair position with the Wise County Republican Party that day.

The majority of the members agree the resolution should have read that Parker would assume the duties on Sept. 29, the Monday following Lannie Nobles’ last day on the job.

But Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith, also an elections commission member, hinted that the discrepancy in dates was underhanded action taken by the Republicans, and she said that Parker began acting as interim EA before his official start date.

Smith had already cried foul over the appointment, which she originally voted against, by filing a lawsuit Sept. 30 in the 271st District Court against the interim elections administrator and the county’s elections commission.

That case will be heard at the Wise County Courthouse 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10, by Judge David Evans of the 48th District Court of Fort Worth.

In the meantime, the commission was tasked with cleaning up its paperwork.

County Judge Glenn Hughes opened Wednesday’s meeting by reminding everyone that Nobles’ resignation letter said Nobles would work through Sept. 26.

He explained that during the commission meeting Sept. 23 when Parker was appointed to replace Nobles, his understanding was that Parker would take over the job on Sept. 29, the Monday following Nobles’ last day.

The judge wanted each member of the commission to say how he or she on Sept. 23 interpreted the timeline of Nobles’ resignation and Parker’s takeover.

“I assumed that Lannie would work through that Friday, and I don’t know how you felt or if you felt the same way I did,” he said. “But I’m going to call on each one of you, and this will clear my mind on this one issue.”

Smith never said how she first interpreted it but instead shifted the focus to the error made on Parker’s resolution for appointment.

“I didn’t notice it, but I never had the intention for Mr. Parker to go down there and tell Lannie he’s out of office,” said Judge Hughes. “All I’m asking is what we thought at the time (of appointment).

“This was an error that we put the 23rd on there, and we probably shouldn’t have done that.”

Smith expressed disbelief that no one caught the mistake. The resolution was signed by commission members Hughes, Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson, County Clerk Sherry Lemon and Tax Assessor-Collector Monte Shaw. Smith said later in the meeting that she refused to sign the document because it was an “illegal appointment.”

“It was signed by all four of you,” she said. ” It didn’t get caught by four different people.”

Hughes said he should have looked at the date, and he didn’t.

“I wished the date was different, but I’m talking about when we were sitting here in the meeting what was your intention?” he asked.

Smith again skirted the question and attempted to drive the conversation in a different direction before Hughes said his recommendation would be to amend the resolution.

The judge suggested amending the resolution to read that Parker assumed the office on Sept. 29, “which would be the date he started, and I think that was the date he was bonded.”

“So it was a clerical mistake to have the 23rd,” he said. “It should have read the 29th.”

Smith spoke up again at this point and said that Parker was acting in the capacity of elections administrator on Sept. 24.

“He called in the capacity of elections administrator to notify me that our candidates’ campaign signs were out of code, and we needed to have them removed,” she said. “That wasn’t the 29th. That was the 24th.”

This was news to the other commission members.

Smith also presented a letter from Parker, postmarked Sept. 24 about election judge training. After reviewing the letter, Hughes said he agreed that Parker was acting in the capacity of elections administrator by doing these things, but he didn’t see a problem with it because the commission had appointed him to perform those duties and he had already resigned his position with the Republican Party.

Smith asked questions of the judge confirming that Parker resigned from the party after he was appointed.

“Yes, that’s right,” Hughes said. “I don’t know how he would have turned it in before.”

“Well, that’s the spirit of the election code isn’t it?” she asked.

Hughes told Smith she was wrong and he thought she was misinterpreting it. He quoted Election Code 31.035, which reads in part: “A county elections administrator may not be a candidate for a public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office or hold an office of or position in a political party.”

Hughes’ point was that this statute is for people already in the position of elections administrator. He sought additional explanation from Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson.

Williamson referred everyone to section 31.034 of the Election Code, which outlines the eligibility to be named elections administrator.

“It says to be eligible for appointment as elections administrator, a person must be a qualified voter of the state,” he said. “That’s all it says about eligibility. There have been no allegations that says Mr. Parker isn’t a qualified voter of the state, so he is eligible to be elections administrator.”

Williamson said his understanding of the events on Sept. 23 was that the commission accepted Nobles’ resignation effective Sept. 26.

“I think if we make a motion to amend the appointment to the 29th, then I think that solves the problem,” he said. “As far as him acting in the capacity of elections administrator, I haven’t seen that, but it looks like he’s trying to get elections school training going for the election judges of both parties, which would be consistent with us trying to maintain the upcoming election.”

Williamson wanted to make a motion at that time, but Hughes stopped him to seek the opinion of Lemon and Shaw, both of which agreed with the judge and the Republican Party chair.

Lemon and Shaw both said they had no previous knowledge of Parker acting in the capacity of EA before the 29th.

Williamson said he wasn’t going to fault Parker for trying to get the election going.

“I believe all the members of this commission would agree that we had a sense of urgency on the 23rd and that the overriding concern is that this election go off without a hitch,” he said.

He then made a motion to amend the appointment of county elections administrator for the effective date of Sept. 29.

Shaw seconded it.

Smith made a plea to the Democrats in attendance.

“Discussion… anybody?” she asked.

Lena Wells expressed frustration with the date being wrong, and Matthew Britt, Democratic candidate for state representative, District 61, argued Election Code interpretation before a vote was taken on Williamson’s motion.

It passed 3-1 with Shaw, Lemon and Williamson voting in favor, and Smith voting against the measure. Judge Hughes did not cast a vote.

Smith also refused to sign the revised resolution.

A story about Friday’s court hearing on this issue will run in the weekend Messenger.

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Fire marshal: Gas leak handled ‘textbook’

A blowout in a high-pressure gas line in northwest Wise County was handled in “textbook” fashion Monday afternoon according to Deputy Wise County Fire Marshal J.C. Travis.

Travis said just a little after 3 p.m. Monday, a 10-inch high-pressure gas line exploded near the point where it feeds into Targa’s Chico plant.

The blowout, which occurred on private property southwest of the plant, rattled the windows at the facility, which is located west of Chico at County Road 1745, just south of Farm Road 1810.

Targa North Texas Area Manager Jimmy Oxford said the line belongs to Energy Transfer Holdings.

“Targa Midstream Services followed protocol and made the 911 call, as the pipeline was near its property, and the employees heard what appeared to be a rupture in the line,” he said via email Monday.

Travis was impressed with the response from both Targa and ETH employees.

“When I arrived you could actually see the gas spewing in the air 40 or 50 feet,” he said. “It was underground, so there was dirt flying. It sounded like a jet engine.”

“The Targa folks immediately went into lockdown and went into emergency procedures,” Travis said. “They sent crews out and discovered the line that ruptured was not their’s but a competitor’s.”

He said Targa personnel called 911 and called ETH to let them know about the blowout. A company representative came out and shut off the line. There was no fire, but he opted to shut down CR 1745 until the gas dissipated.

“I would give Targa an A-plus for their handling of the emergency,” Travis said. “They followed all safety procedures, met me at the gate with all the pertinent information and had already blcok the roadway to keep people from driving through the gas cloud.”

He said virtually everyone he saw at the plant had a gas monitor and was checking LEL (lower explosive limits) levels.

“The humidity was right and wind was high, so most of the product dissipated high into the air,” he said. County Road 1745 remained closed for about an hour-and-a-half, until readings showed no high level of gas at the roadway.

The Chico Fire Department stationed an engine at the north end of the road to divert traffic. Sand Flat Fire Department was at the south end and their chief served as incident commander.

“This thing went textbook-perfect,” Travis said. “It was really a thrill for me to have everybody do what they were supposed to do and follow procedures.”

He said the last set of readings, taken just before 5 p.m., showed the gas had dissipated, so CR 1745 was reopened.

Energy Transfer Holdings personnel will repair the damaged pipeline.

“It’s too early to know what caused the rupture,” Travis said Tuesday.

The Chico plant is the focal point of approximately 2,400 miles of gas gathering pipelines, which come in from wells or compressor stations. The plant has an aggregated processing capacity of 265 MMcf per day.

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Candidates report campaign finances

Local candidates turned in their 30-day campaign finance report forms this week as required by the Texas Ethics Commission.

The reports submitted Monday detail contributions and expenditures from July 1 to Sept. 25. Republican county judge candidate J.D. Clark reported $6,650 in donations, more than any other candidate. This is also the most Clark has reported during any single reporting period, pushing his total contributions to more than $20,000.

The big spender during this reporting period was Democratic county judge candidate Jim Stegall, with $3,923.59. He reported $4,634 in contributions.

Below is a list of local candidates in opposed races and the information as it appears on their campaign finance report forms.

COUNTY JUDGE

  • Republican J.D. Clark: $6,650 contributions, $539.13 expenditures

Contributions included $2,500 from the Wise Republican Women; $2,000 from the Republican Party of Texas in Austin; $1,000 from Louis Dorfman of Dallas; $500 from Wise County Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson; $250 from Jerrod Mowery of Bridgeport; $200 from Mark Duncum of Decatur; and $100 each from Dwight Albert “D.A.” Sharpe of Aurora and Russell and Lynda Childs of Chico.

  • Democrat Jim Stegall: $4,634 contributions, $3,923.59 expenditures

Contributions included $2,000 from Tom and Lori Chivers of Carrollton; $1,000 each from Mary Rebecca Stegall of Mount Lake Terrace, Wash., and Nora and Andrew Ponder of Houston; $500 from Laura and Trevor Armstrong of Fort Worth; and $100 from Larry and Mary Guillory of Rhome.

He reported $34 in contributions of $50 or less.

PRECINCT 4 COMMISSIONER

  • Democrat Kristina Kemp: $400 contributions, $3,117.60 expenditures

Kemp received one donation – $400 from the Wise County Democratic Party.

  • Republican Gaylord Kennedy: $0 contributions, $872.38 expenditures

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Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 20.

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Messenger rakes in national awards

Messenger rakes in national awards

The Wise County Messenger brought home 23 awards for advertising and editorial excellence from last weekend’s 128th Annual Convention and Trade Show of the National Newspaper Association.

The meeting was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio. Messenger publisher Roy Eaton, General Manager Mark Jordan and Advertising Manager Lisa Davis attended the three-day meeting which attracted community newspapers people from all over the United States.

National Recognition

NATIONAL RECOGNITION – Robert Williams (left) president of the Southfire Newspaper Group in Blackshear, Ga., presents a general excellence honorable mention plaque to Messenger general manager Mark Jordan, as contest chairman Jeff Farron, president of Kendall County Record Newspapers in Yorkville, Ill, (right) looks on. Farron chaired the contest, which drew hundreds of entries from newspapers all over the U.S. Submitted photo

The Messenger won three first-place awards, seven second-place awards, four third-places and eight honorable mentions – including taking honorable mention in General Excellence category.

The newspaper’s top award was connected to the chase and shootout last March that ended the life of escaped Colorado fugitive Evan Ebel.

Published March 23, 2013, the news package headlined “Chase ends here” earned first place in the Best Localized National Story category.

It featured the work of editor Kristen Tribe, reporters Brandon Evans and Brian Knox, photographers Joe Duty and Jimmy Alford, and graphic artist Todd Griffith.

“Fantastic reporting with thorough follow-through and clear details,” the judges commented. “The ‘Anatomy of the Chase’ was a great visual of the action. The follow-up stories represented solid investigation, and editorials shared the impact of the story that came to your front door. Extremely well done.”

Griffith’s work also earned first place in the Best Newspaper Promotion category. The entry cited was an in-house advertising campaign titled “Keeping You Informed.”

“Cool and creative. Looks awesome. Very good,” the judge wrote.

The other first-place entry was a feature story by editorial director Bob Buckel, with photos by Duty, on storage unit auctions, titled, “What might be in there …” It ran on May 25, 2013.

“Great job at truly telling a story; the essence of any great feature,” the judge wrote. “The author took a rather mundane topic and crafted an interesting story that draws the reader in, keeping them turning the page to read the entire story. This entry stood out above the rest.”

Other awards were:

  • second, Best Breaking News Photo, “Long Walk” by Joe Duty. “Excellent human emotion captured as sheriff escorts suspect away. The intensity of the case jumps out from all aspects of this photo. Photographer caught the action just at the right time.”
  • second, Best Editorial, “No enemies behind these lines” by the Messenger staff. “Great tone. Does good job of explaining what a newspaper does – and why.”
  • second (tie), Best Feature Photo, “Good Book” by Joe Duty. “Each of the 900 crosses can be seen in his worn hands. What excellent detail, your lighting was perfect!”
  • second, Best Humorous Column, by Bob Buckel, “Words that are starting to bug me.” “Wonderful read.”
  • second, Best Special News, Sports or Feature Section or Edition, “Welcome to Wise 2013″ by the Messenger staff. “Out of a number of entries in this division, your entry rose to near the top. A super job in all aspects – copy, photos, graphics, ads, and use of color. A top-notch effort by all members of the team, and it shows. Congratulations for setting such a high standard.”
  • second, Best Sports Photo, “Slipping Away” by Joe Duty. “Joe Duty’s crisp, tightly framed shot captures a three-on-three battle for the ball. The fluid folds of the uniforms, the swirl of arms and of one player’s hair, and the expanding ring of players suggest this composition would make an impressive bronze sculpture.”
  • second, Excellence in Typography, April 27 and Oct. 16 issues by the Messenger staff. “Very graphically appealing. Makes me want to buy the paper, jump right in and read the article”
  • third, Best Newspaper Promotion, “Missing” by Todd Griffith. “Great series. Nice to have similar theme with different looks.”
  • third, Best Single Ad Idea, Color, “Happy Thanksgiving” by the graphic arts department “This entry stood out because it was clean and simple and conveyed its message quickly. In an effort to be creative, most of the ads entered in this category were cluttered and busy and that typically got in the way of the message. Fancy borders, lots of artwork and colors and fonts are not what good ad design is about. It’s about getting attention, yes, but it’s also about quickly and clearly getting a message across in a way that people will remember or act upon.”
  • third, Best Feature Series, “Cross Roads” by Brandon Evans, with photographs by Joe Duty. “Good stories, well-written.”
  • third, Best Feature Story, “Ashlie lives on” by Erika Pedroza, with photos by Joe Duty. “Good work telling a compelling story.”
  • honorable mention, Best Public Notice Section, “Where sex offenders reside” by Todd Griffith.
  • honorable mention, Best Series Ad Idea, Color, “JRobs Sports and Fitness.”
  • honorable mention, Best Single Ad Idea, Black & White, “New Phones to Impress All the Chicks.”
  • honorable mention, Best Breaking News Photo, “Fiery Finish” by Jimmy Alford.
  • honorable mention, Best Breaking News Story, “Chase Ends Here” by Jimmy Alford, Joe Duty, Brandon Evans and Todd Griffith.
  • honorable mention, Best Headline Writing, July 10 and Sept. 11 issues by the Messenger editorial staff.
  • honorable mention, Best Local News Coverage, March 23 and Sept. 7 issues by he Messenger editorial staff.
  • honorable mention, Best Weekend Edition, March 23, Oct. 19 by the Messenger staff.

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Education Briefs for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ALVORD

HOMECOMING – Alvord High School homecoming is Oct. 10-11. The homecoming bonfire is Wednesday night (Oct. 7) at 1020 CR 1270 at 6:30. The parade is Friday at 4 through downtown Alvord, ending with a pep rally. The Bulldogs will face Trenton in the homecoming game, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. Saturday activities open at 9 a.m. at the high school with registration and a continental breakfast, and a barbecue lunch at noon. Tickets for lunch are $10 and will be sold at Legend Bank in Alvord until closing Friday. They will also be sold at Friday night’s game through the first quarter. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Patti Gillespie with the Wise County Genealogical Society will show historical photos of Alvord. The program at 1 p.m. will include door prizes and several awards.

BRIDGEPORT

READING NIGHT – Bridgeport ISD will host the “iRead at the Field” event 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, at Bull Memorial Stadium. Families are invited to bring books and blankets to read with students at the community-wide event. Book readings will be done by Bridgeport cheerleaders, theater students and principals. Events include a half-price book fair and free hot dogs. The campus with the most in attendance will win a Readathon, or one full day of reading.

BOYD

FLU SHOTS – Boyd ISD will partner with The Boyd Medicine Store to host Flu Shot Clinics 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 14, at the elementary school and Oct. 21 at the high school.

SCHOOL HOLIDAY – There will be no school Monday, Oct. 13, in observance of Columbus Day.

UIL ACADEMICS – An information meeting for parents of students interested in UIL Academics is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, in the elementary school cafeteria.

READING NIGHT – Boyd Elementary will host the Title I annual parent meeting and reading night 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4.

CHICO

TEXT MESSAGES – Parents who would like to receive text messages through the district’s all call notification system must “opt in” to begin the process. Text YES to 68453 to show your willingness to receive texts. For information, call Traci Umphress in the administration office, 940-644-2228, ext. 0, or visit the Chico ISD website, www.chico.k12.tx.us.

DECATUR

VACCINATION CLINIC – A Movax vaccination clinic will be offered to underinsured students and their parents Wednesday, Oct. 29. Flu shots/flu mist will be given. Insured students must receive vaccinations through their private doctor. Times and locations are as follows: Young Elementary, 8-9 a.m.; Rann Elementary, 9:30-10:30 a.m.; Carson Elementary, 11 a.m.-noon; Administration Building, 12:30-1 p.m.; High School, 1:30-2:30 p.m.; DISD Multipurpose Building, 3-5 p.m. (all MMS students and general public). Cost is $12 for students (children) and $23 for parents (adults). Pay with cash or check. Make checks payable to Movax. Turn in consent forms and money to the campus nurse by Oct. 24.

PSAT – Decatur High School will administer the PSAT test 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 in the DHS lecture hall. Register in the first floor office with Mrs. Grove. Registration is $20 and payable by cash or check. Seating is limited, and DHS juniors will have first priority. Registration will end Monday, Oct. 13.

ALL-REGION CHOIR – Decatur High School Choir recently participated in the All-Region Choir auditions. Four students entered the competition, and the results are as follows: Xavier Wooten – Bass 2, first alternate; Emily Baker – Soprano 2, fifth District Choir; Elizabeth Culpepper – Alto 2, Third Chair District Choir; Stevi Perkins, Soprano 1, First Chair Region Choir. Stevi advances to the final round to audition for All-State Choir.

PARADISE

NEW PLAYGROUND – The Paradise Intermediate School has secured a $15,000 grant to update its playground, along with an additional $11,000 in donations. It is still more than $23,000 shy of the $50,000 goal. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/e65mis.

PSAT – All PHS Juniors will be taking the PSAT on Wednesday, Oct. 15. The test will be held in the high school cafeteria.

DANCE CLINIC – The Little Rhinestones dance clinic is Friday, Oct. 17. Girls from 4-years-old through the fifth grade can join the Emeralds and learn a routine that will be performed at the football game that night. Find info. at www.pisd.net/pisd/hs/drillteam/rhinestones.pdf

SPECIAL VISIT – Award-winning children’s authors Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel will visit Paradise Intermediate and Elementary schools Monday, Nov. 17. For information, go to www.pisd.net/pisd/elemen/library/authorvisit2.pdf.

NORTHWEST

CRAFT VENDORS – Vendors are needed for the Northwest High School baseball team’s Fall Craft Show 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, at Northwest High School. Booths – which include one chair, helpers to unload, parking and wifi – are $75 for 10×10 or $140 for 10×20. Additional items are $10 for electricity, $10 for tables and $5 for chairs. Applications are due Oct. 10. Contact Casci Land, 817-336-6565; Tanda Dovel, 817-996-1790; Suzanne May, 817-897-5303; or Deborah Christenson, 817-726-1075.

EARLY DISMISSAL – Northwest ISD campuses will dismiss early on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 10. Elementary schools will release at 12:15, middle schools at 2, and high schools at 1:15.

DISTRICT OFFERS ACT – Northwest ISD offered the ACT for high school seniors at no cost Tuesday. A makeup test will be offered Oct. 14 for students that could not attend school Tuesday.

SLIDELL

GT NOMINATIONS – Slidell ISD is accepting nominations for the Gifted and Talented Program now through Oct. 24. Nominations forms are available in the elementary and secondary offices. Call Melissa Fitzgerald, 940-466-3118, ext. 241.

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Water well screening to be held in Montague

The Texas Well Owner Network is hosting a water well screening 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at the courthouse in Montague County to give area residents the opportunity to have their well water tested.

The courthouse is located at 266 Franklin St. in Montague.

A meeting explaining screening results will be held at 7 p.m. that day at the Montague County Annex, 11339 Texas 59 North. The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will also discuss their ongoing programs regarding local groundwater issues.

The screening is presented by AgriLife Extension and Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the AgriLife Extension office in Montague County.

To have water tested, area residents should pick up a sample bag and sampling instructions from the AgriLife Extension office in Montague County or call 940-894-2831 for information.

The cost is $10 per sample and samples must be turned in by 9 a.m. on the day of the screening. Samples will be screened for common contaminants, including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates and high salinity.

It’s important for those submitting samples to be at the meeting to receive results, learn corrective measures for identified problems and to improve understanding of private well management.

For information, call the Montague County AgriLife Extension Office at 940-894-2831. To learn more about the programs offered through the network or to find additional publications and resources, visit twon.tamu.edu.

—–

The Wise County Agri-Life Extension Office has water testing kits for pick up at 206 S. State St. in Decatur. After water samples have been taken, they must be either hand-delivered to Tarrant County or mailed to Texas A&M University for testing.

For information, call 940-627-3341.

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Meaning in the ink; Tattoos tell the stories of bearers

Meaning in the ink; Tattoos tell the stories of bearers

For some people, tattoos are therapeutic. So it’s no irony that Michael Moten, a licensed massage therapist, practices out of the Texas Tattoo and Co. parlor in Decatur.

RETIREMENT PLAN – Michael Moten got his first tattoo 15 years ago and has gotten dozens more since then. About a year ago, he began giving them. “I went to school for massage therapy,” he said. “That was my passion. But then when I started doing this, therapy took the backseat. This is my retirement plan.” Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

A year-and-a-half ago, at the insistence of friends, he added one more tool to his belt of ways to help people relax – a tattoo gun.

“Everything just fell into place,” he said. “The same tables that we use to tattoo on are the same that we use in massaging. Everybody started asking me about doing tattoos, and once I did it, it was pretty much addicting.”

Just like getting the ink.

Moten, 32, got his first tattoo at age 17 – his last name.

“When I got it done, I liked the way it was, and it went from there,” he said. “Some people get one tattoo and they’re like, ‘It hurt too bad. No more.’ Me, I got one tattoo and I wanted a lot more.”

That included angel wings down his back, representative of his daughters, age 3 and 7, who he calls his angels.

On one leg, dubbed the “power leg,” there are portraits of the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Jimi Hendrix and Malcolm X.

“My great-grandmother hates tattoos, but she likes some of those,” he said. “That’s cool. At least she likes one of them.”

BACK INK – Michael Moten has gotten tattoos in honor of his children, including angel wings all down his back for his daughters, who he calls his angels. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

He also has the state of Texas, a cross, his nickname, a spiderweb, tributes to his younger sister and son as well as his score on the national exam for massage therapy licensing.

As a tattoo artist, he’s had all kinds of requests – from in memory tattoos to ’90s babies” marks like Ninja Turtles and Nintendo games, as well as military marks.

Among the most popular are script, flowers and the infinity symbol.

The most random one he’s done is a silhouette of birds.

“Any kind of saying, and then they’ll put birds behind it,” he said. “I don’t know why, but a lot of people get that. Some people have good sayings behind them, and then some people, they just get them to get them done.

“Everybody has their own reasons behind getting a tattoo,” he said. “It could be having a kid. That’s when a lot of people come in and get their first tattoo. A death in the family. A lot of girls that have best friends, and they’ll come in and get a tattoo like peanut butter and jelly, stuff like that.

“It’s a good bonding experience for moms and daughters, fathers and sons. We even had a grandma bring her grandson in as a graduation present.”

The thoughts that prompted the ink are worth exploring.

A Mothers Love

A MOTHER’S LOVE – Cat Lafitte commemorated the birth of her daughter, Moxy, now 5, with a tattoo on her left shoulder of a mother holding up her daughter. The rest of her ink work remains unfinished. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

UNFINISHED STORY

Cat Lafitte of Springtown got her first tattoo at age 17.

“And that was going to be the only thing that I got,” she said. “Something small and tasteful, something symbolic, where nobody could see it.”

So she had a Celtic knot inked on her lower back.

“I wanted a symbol, not an object like a bird,” she said. “That was it.”

Then a friend bought a tattoo gun and offered to give her another one in exchange for the practice, for free.

“That should’ve been a red flag right there,” she laughed. “But I was 18 and thought, ‘What a great deal!'”

The tattoo was so badly done she was forced to go to a shop to fix it. She then had the idea to have her family crest across her back as an honor to her ancestors.

“And it just went on from there,” she said. “Basically every few months, once a year, I would have some brilliant idea that I would have to get.”

Among those ideas were a sacred heart on her heart, a bunny and a kitty. Some have spiritual significance. Others, like the one on her left shoulder of a mother holding up her baby, mark life milestones like the birth of her daughter, Moxy, now 5.

“I was so happy to be able to be a mother,” she said. “I waited a long time and was very responsible in waiting and finally got to do that.”

Lafitte also started in on the theme of duality – nature and technology, water and fire, past and future, east and west.

She envisioned the finished product – ink across her back and arms. And although the line work is there, the pieces are not all colored in.

After a series of events in her life, Lafitte was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in the spring of 2011.

“I used to have a really high tolerance for pain,” she said. “Now just even the sounds of the machine and the smells get me worked up. All these things I wouldn’t have thought about twice before, is magnified. Blood, being injured, pain – before I was a police officer, I was a nurse’s assistant. Now I can’t look at wounds. I used to be a cop, now I’m like, ‘Don’t tell me a story about a snake.’ It’s ridiculous.”

Although not being able to complete the work is frustrating, she recognizes the symbolism.

“It’s sad, but I’ve just kind of accepted the facts. Every tattoo tells a story,” she said. “The fact that mine are unfinished kind of tells the story of what happened in my life.”

TATTOO DILEMMA

INK CONFLICT – Although he has ink all over, Sgt. 1st Class Danny Anderson must turn away potential recruits with tattoos that do not meet regulations enacted in March regarding the number, size and placement of tattoos. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Army National Guard recruiter Danny Anderson finds himself in a bit of a dilemma.

The 42-year-old enlisted 25 years ago. Since that time, he’s gotten more than 30 pieces inked on his body in places ranging from his fingers, all down his arms and across his back.

But he is having to turn away some people interested in joining the military because of new tattoo regulations.

In an effort to “maintain the professional appearance of the force,” the Army in March passed restrictions on the number, size and placement of ink for new recruits.

Sleeve tattoos are banned, and a person can have no more than four tattoos below the elbows and the knees. Those pieces must be smaller than the size of the person’s palm with fingers extended.

Ink on the face, neck and hands, as well as work that can be deemed extremist, indecent, sexist or racist, is not allowed.

“I’ve got six right here in Decatur, otherwise perfectly qualified, that I’ve turned away,” Anderson said. “That’s a huge number for a recruiter when my yearly mission is 24.”

Although he understands the military’s perspective, it doesn’t make his job any easier.

“We have a lot of gangs in the military that we’re trying to weed out, and they think that the tattoos are going to knock a bunch of that out,” he said. “But it’s difficult for me being a recruiter with full sleeves to go and tell somebody they’re not eligible. I hope they change something.”

For him, getting tattooed is a stress reliever.

“It just relaxes you because you’re not focused on everything going on,” he said. “You’re just focusing on that moment. It’s not pain, because I haven’t had a tattoo hurt yet. You just forget about everything else you’re doing for those 30 minutes or three hours, depending on the tattoo.”

Most of his have a meaning, whether it’s military or religion.

He got his first tattoo, a black panther, after completing basic training for the Navy.

“Once I realized it didn’t hurt, I started coming up with ideas,” he said.

He integrated the design of two motorcycle brands into one after he purchased the two “dream bikes.”

As a tribute to his Catholic faith and Cherokee roots, he had a barbed wire with a rosary and Cherokee feather inked on his right arm.

A piece across his shoulder blades represents his sniper platoon’s emblem.

He admits that some, like a rose on his chest, have no meaning at all.

“I just wanted to try that area to see what it felt like,” he said.

But for the most part, his tattoos reflect what is important to him.

“Religion and family, those are worthy things of tattoos,” he said. “Something significant in your life – birth, death, memorials, something you’re passionate about, traumatic experiences.”

Tattoed Love

TATTOOED LOVE – Shelby Jackson of Decatur designed a tattoo symbolic of her husband, Scott, and their wedding song, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie. The couple celebrated their fifth anniversary yesterday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

COMMITMENT IN INK

Shelby and Scott Jackson of Decatur have memorialized their love for one another in ink.

In fact, their first date included a visit to the tattoo shop.

“We went and watched a movie,” Scott said. “It wasn’t that late. She was 18. Can’t really hit a bar or anything. Go-karts could’ve worked, I’m sure. Batting cages. But it wasn’t on the agenda.”

So the couple trekked down to the tattoo parlor.

It was her first – a heart morphed into a skull below her beltline – and his third – a piece on his wrist. The two have returned several times. She’s added a dove and a giraffe on her side.

“I’ve been to Africa before for a medical missions trip,” she said. “It was a [tribute] to Africa.”

Scott got a fox, designed “by his fox,” on his leg.

The couple celebrated their five-year anniversary yesterday. But a month ago, Shelby got an original piece she designed, between her shoulder blades.

“It’s based on the song ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’ by Death Cab for Cutie,” she said. “It’s for him. The anchor is our marriage. I wanted something to tie into the song as well as something symbolic for him.

“The life raft is him saving me. The song is about being beside someone through all kinds of scenarios, to the very end. It was our wedding song.”

Although Shelby isn’t sure she wants any more, Scott said he would probably get another when the two have kids.

Even though all of his pieces don’t have that much significance, he appreciates each one.

“Every tattoo has something that’s important to that person,” he said. “That’s always where it’s going to be the coolest. With that one person, whatever the reason that they wanted. Even if it does turn into something that was just kind of a random, spur-of-the-moment. You got it put on you for some reason. That reason’s yours and yours alone.

“It might be irrelevant. But I’m thrilled. It meant enough for you to sit down in a chair and endure some pain to get through it and get it.”

For the two, a graphic designer and photographer by trade, tattoos are art. They find it disappointing that they are often judged otherwise.

“I feel more comfortable in the presence of somebody else, as a complete stranger, if they have tattoos,” Shelby said.

“They’re not going to come at you with judging,” her husband interjected. “Some people look at it as being a bad thing to do, degrading your body. It all comes back to that individual and what they did it for.”

Intergral Pieces

INTEGRAL PIECES – In two years, Nathaniel Botello has covered his right arm with tattoos honoring loved ones and inked the state of Texas with a cog on his chest. The “backbone” of his arm features the Hebrew word for family, which he says is the “backbone of his life.” Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

FOR FAMILY AND STATE

Each of the nine tattoos that adorn Nathaniel Botello’s body, right arm and chest tells a story.

The first one, which the Chico High School graduate got two years ago at age 21, is an awareness ribbon in memory of his Aunt Marilyn, who lost her battle with bone cancer a year-and-a-half ago.

“When my aunt passed away, I was on an oil rig and couldn’t make the funeral. I felt really guilty,” he said. ” … So I had my own day to reflect on it.”

The tattoo artist advised him he was either going to want just one or that he would be returning to see him a lot.

“Sure enough, in the past two years I’ve gotten my whole right arm done and part of my chest,” he said. “I was one of the ones who liked it. It was an adrenaline rush.”

He continued, getting his parents’ names, Crisantos and Tonie, on his arm.

“They are the reason I’m here,” he said. “They may not be together, but I’m thankful that they were civil with each other and allowed me to have a relationship with both.”

There is also an orchid, in honor of his Aunt Sonia, who he credits as being his “biggest supporter.”

He added the Hebrew word for family and a hope anchor with the word “survive,” along with Michael the Archangel, representative of his favorite biblical story and the support of his family.

“He’s God’s secondhand man,” Botello said. “In my mind, he’s a real superhero. There’s always somebody that has your back. It’s easy to get down on yourself, have a bad day. Everything piles up. There’s always going to be something in your corner. A teacher, friend, Facebook friend, family.”

All of those designs on his right arm are tied together by acanthus leaves.

“Back in the Biblical days, when a king or queen would come into another city, the high-up in that city would send the servants to get the acanthus vines, which means royalty,” he said. “It ties together everything that I put – family, those that have been in my life and passed, who I consider royalty. They showed me a lot, and I wouldn’t be here without them. I wouldn’t know the things I know without them.”

His newest ink is of the state of Texas with a cog.

“A cog is a small part, but it turns a much larger machine,” Botello said. “I’m a huge supporter. I think it’s the greatest state. We have such a rich history, not only within our state lines, but if you think about the nation’s history, we are so involved. I’m just a huge fan. Born here, live here. die here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

He acknowledged that all places have pros and cons.

“But I think Texas has more pros than anywhere else,” he said. “I swear we’re the nicest state. In New Jersey, when I was visiting, I’d ask for directions and people would look at me like, ‘I don’t know you. Don’t talk to me.’

“In Texas, you ask where the Wal-Mart is and they’re like, ‘Hop in my car. I’ll take you there.’ Things as small as holding the door open for somebody, they don’t do that anywhere else.”

But some of the greatest people are those who give him judgmental stares.

“Tattoos don’t make the person at all,” he said. “You can be the scum of the earth and have no tattoos. Or you can be in the public’s eye one of the greatest, should-have-a-key-to-the-city persons, covered in tattoos head to toe.

“I’ve never been jail. I’ve had two tickets for speeding. That’s my criminal history,” he said. “People have something in their mind, and they’re always going to act emotionally off of that. Maybe that’s what they’ve been taught their whole life. Tattoos equal prisoners, drug dealers, bad people. Sometimes that may be the case, sometimes it may not.

“But if you don’t want to learn what those are about and get to know that person, I don’t think you should get to pass judgment on that person based on looks.

“It could be a rusted-up car with an $8,000 motor.”

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Dems sue elections commission, administrator

The Wise County Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Tuesday in 271st District Court against the interim elections administrator and the county’s elections commission.

An Oct. 1 press release from the party said Tracy Smith, Democratic Party chair, filed the suit after Wise County commissioners “failed to block the passage” of the Sept. 23 appointment of Jim Parker as interim elections administrator.

Parker, who was serving as a vice chair for the Wise County Republican Party at the time of the appointment, replaced Lannie Noble, who had recently resigned. Smith’s lawsuit claims the appointment violates the Texas Election Code.

Although the information was presented to commissioners in their regular meeting Monday, they could not take action on the item. Even Smith’s attorney, Stephen C. Maxwell, with Bailey & Galyen, said he didn’t think commissioners court “has the power or authority to do much.”

“The decision to appoint is in the hands of the commission instead of [county] commissioners,” he said. “I think Tracy was hoping they had the power to overrule the decision.”

Members of the elections commission include Smith, Republican Party Chair Allen Williamson, County Clerk Sherry Lemon, County Tax Assessor/Collector Monte Shaw and County Judge Glenn Hughes.

During a commission meeting last week, Williamson made a motion to appoint Parker. That action was vehemently opposed by Smith, who spoke out at the time against the nomination and favored naming Deputy Elections Administrator Karen Valenzuela as interim EA.

Although she voted against Parker’s appointment, it passed 3-1, with Williamson, Lemon and Shaw voting in favor.

Smith maintains that the appointment violates 31.035 in the Election Code, which states, “A county elections administrator may not be a candidate for a public office or an office of a political party, hold a public office, or hold an office of or position in a political party.”

Parker resigned his post with the Republican Party immediately after the Sept. 23 meeting and started the EA job Sept. 29. Noble’s last day was Sept. 26.

“Tracy tried …,” Maxwell said. “She had let the county judge know that this was an improper appointment and beyond that the next step is exactly what we did (Tuesday).

“Ultimately, all the lawsuit is seeking is that the judge will enter an order that the action is void, set it aside and say they did not comply with the statute,” he said. “… the point we’re trying to make is to keep partisan politics out of this, but we hope the lawsuit gets the point across that the person in this position should be someone who doesn’t have deep ties to either party.”

County Attorney James Stainton said he doesn’t see any “dramatic flaws” in the action of the commission.

“It’s simply they say there’s a flaw, and we say there’s not,” he said.

Stainton said it’s not uncommon to have disagreements about elections, and these issues come up regularly in Dallas and Tarrant counties.

“It’s America – we have different points of view,” he said.

Stainton said a hearing has tentatively been set for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10, in the 271st District Courtroom in the Wise County Courthouse. It will be heard by Judge David Evans of the 48th District Court in Fort Worth.

—–

On Friday morning, the Wise County Elections Commission posted notice of a 10 a.m. meeting Wednesday, Oct. 8, in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur for “discussion and possible action to provide clarification of the appointment of the interim elections administrator.”

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To vote, register by Monday and have photo ID

If you plan on voting in the Nov. 4 general election, you need to make sure you are registered to vote.

If you are not, Monday is your last chance.

The last day to register to vote or update the information on your current “orange” voter registration certificate is Monday, Oct. 6. Check to be sure the address on your voter certificate is your current address and the name on the certificate matches, or is substantially similar, to the name on the ID you will be presenting to vote.

Current law requires that you be registered in the county you call home and have a photo identification to vote. Call the Voter Registration office at 940-626-4453 or 940-627-3656.

If you need photo identification, Election Identification Certificates (EIC) may be obtained from any Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver’s license office throughout the state during normal business hours, all year. Wise County’s office is located at 2000 S. Trinity in Decatur. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DPS will offer Saturday hours at select driver’s license offices to issue EICs only Oct. 11 through Nov. 8. Those locations will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The closest office to Wise County that will offer Saturday hours is at 820 N. Loop 288 in Denton and 5816 Azle Ave. in Lake Worth.

To apply for an EIC, applicants must visit one of the locations listed above and complete an application for a Texas Election Identification Certificate (DL-14C).

To qualify for an EIC, an applicant must:

  • Bring documentation to verify U.S. citizenship and identity
  • Be eligible to vote in Texas (Bring a valid voter registration card or submit a voter registration application through the Texas Department of Public Safety.)
  • Be a Texas resident
  • Be 17 years and 10 months or older

If voters already have any of the following documents, they have an acceptable form of photo identification and are not eligible to receive an EIC:

  • Texas driver’s license – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas personal identification card – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. passport book or card – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas concealed handgun license – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Military identification with photo – unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo

The EIC receipt an individual receives will include their photo and can be used for voting until the permanent card is delivered by mail.

The EIC is free to qualifying applicants and is valid for six years. There is no expiration date for an EIC for citizens 70 years of age or older. The EIC can be used for the purpose of voting in an election and may not be used as personal identification.

For more information on the requirements, exemptions and process for obtaining an EIC, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/electionID.htm. For information on voting in Texas, visit the Secretary of State’s website: www.votetexas.gov.

Early voting for the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 20-31.

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Third robbery suspect arrested

A third suspect in a June robbery in Arkansas has been arrested in Texas.

Oneida Saylor

Benton, Ark., Police announced Wednesday that Oneida Saylor, 35, was arrested in Texas, although the exact location of the arrest was not available. Wise County Sheriff David Walker said the arrest was not made in Wise County.

Rodney and Stephanie Hurdsman of Paradise were arrested Monday in Shreveport, La.

All three are suspects in the June 14 robbery of the Malvern National Bank as well as other robberies in several southern states. Arrest warrants for aggravated robbery and theft of property had been issued for all three.

Saylor is Stephanie Hurdsman’s sister.

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Grand jury indicts 2 for manslaughter

Two people have been indicted by a Wise County grand jury for manslaughter as a result of separate fatality automobile accidents.

John Christopher Harvey, 52, of Sunset was indicted for manslaughter for a wreck on Feb. 4, 2013, on Texas 114 about a mile west of Paradise.

Harvey was driving a pump vac truck and had just pulled out from County Road 3241 onto Texas 114 when a car driven by Toby Baker, 39, of Boyd collided with the side of the truck. Baker died from his injuries.

According to the indictment, Harvey “recklessly caused the death of Baker by ingesting methamphetamine and driving his vehicle into a lane of travel without providing sufficient time to avoid a collision with Baker’s vehicle and failing to operate the defendant’s vehicle in a proper manner.”

The indictment also included a paragraph finding a deadly weapon – his vehicle – was used in the incident.

Court records indicate Harvey was previously convicted of possession of dangerous drugs in October 2005 and was sentenced to 90 days in county jail.

Sherri Ann Rose, 36, of Weatherford, was indicted on two counts of manslaughter in connection with a deadly wreck near Slidell on Memorial Day weekend earlier this year.

Rose was southbound on Farm Road 51 when she attempted to pass a vehicle in a no passing zone near the Wise/Denton county line. As she crested the hill, her vehicle struck two motorcycles. One of the motorcycle operators, Thomas Garcia, 53, and his passenger, Cassie Turner, 33, both of Ardmore, Okla., were killed.

Two other people on the second motorcycle were also seriously injured, as were Rose and two of her passengers.

Manslaughter is a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in jail.

The grand jury met Sept. 18 and also returned the following felony indictments:

Rocky Rose, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Sean Andre Richards, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon

Shawn Nicholas Nowell, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Jose Hector Martinez Jr., assault family/household member with previous conviction

Monica Rene Martin, prohibited substance/item in correctional facility (one count); possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram (one count)

Megan Joe Houston, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (two counts); injury to a child/elderly/disabled with intent to cause bodily injury (two counts)

Marvin Sierra, assault family/household member impede breath/circulation

Boyd Carroll Stockard, assault family/household member with previous conviction (one count); assault intentionally/recklessly breath/circulation family member with previous conviction

Robert Cole II, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (one count); injury to a child/elderly/disabled with intent to cause bodily injury (two counts); abandon endanger child criminal negligence (one count)

Oscar Carrion-Barrientos, aggravated sexual assault of a child (four counts)

Colby Shayne Dalrymple, assault family/household member with previous conviction

Brian Kyle Garrett, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Joshua Daniel Kovatch, possession of a controlled substance – heroin, less than 1 gram

Derek Ray Joseph, unlawful possession of metal or body armor by a felon

Patrick Ray Patterson, burglary of a building

Holly Rebecca Story, burglary of a building

Kolbi Kinkade Graham, tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair

Jacob Joshua Bruggink, burglary of a building

Luis Lauro Calderon, theft of property $1,500-$20,000

Royce Dean Fulton, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 1-4 grams

Jaqueline Beth Brown, theft of material aluminum/bronze/copper less than $20,000

Melony Hope Evans, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 1-4 grams

John Edward Gibbon Jr., theft of material aluminum/bronze/copper less than $20,000 (two counts)

Juan Dominguez, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less then 1 gram

Alexander Dinsmore, possession of a controlled substance – lysergic acid diethylamide, less than 20 abuse units

Desmond Leon Sage, criminal mischief $1,500-$20,000

Catherine Rachel Clevinger, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 1-4 grams

Mary Cardone, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Martin Torres Sandoval, driving while intoxicated third or more

Kevin Wayne Burkhart, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Sonny Dale Ruble, evading arrest/detention with vehicle

Joshua Lee Parnell, assault family/household member impede breath/circulation

Shanda Michelle Holsted, prohibited substance/item in correctional facility (one count); possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Becky Rheid Porter, theft of property $1,500-$20,000

Teena Marie Peck, tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair

Rodrigo Gallegos, credit card or debit card abuse

Christian Gallegos, credit card or debit card abuse

Colby Malachi Ellis, evading arrest/detention with a vehicle

Joe Lee Wortham Jr., unauthorized use of a vehicle

James Richard Hoover, driving while intoxicated third or more

Michael Edward Deese, driving while intoxicated third or more

Jere Collins Mikel, theft less than 10 head of livestock less than $20,000

Mary Elaine Daniels, theft less than 10 head of livestock less than $20,000

Jennifer Louise Johnson, theft less than 10 head of livestock less than $20,000

Wanda Lee Ferris, theft less than 10 head of livestock less than $20,000

Crystal Kay Smith, arson intend to damage habitat/place of worship (one count); attempted murder (one count) (See related story on page 1A.)

Crystal Rachelle York, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Ericka Dominique Sustaita, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 1-4 grams

Melissa Freitag Sursa, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

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Program offers classes for engaged, married couples

Couples approaching marriage can build a solid foundation – and save the $60 marriage license fee – by going through an eight-hour premarital education class sponsored by the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

“Twogether in Texas” offers premarital education to engaged couples across the state through a network of providers. Couples who complete the class can have their marriage license fee reduced by $60 and waive the 72-hour waiting period after they get their license.

“The premarital education couples get in the Twogether in Texas program can set a strong foundation for a marriage and give couples a better idea of the challenges they will face,” said Gordon Leeks, who oversees the program for HHSC commission.

The class covers conflict resolution, communication and other key aspects of marriage, Leeks said.

“The goal is to increase the well-being of all Texas children by providing voluntary marriage and relationship education skills to their parents,” he added.

There are 2,600 organizations in Texas that provide marriage education classes that qualify for the marriage license discount, including two in Wise County.

Wise Choices Pregnancy Resource Center is located at 603 N. Trinity in Decatur. Call Sue Newcomb at 940-389-5566 or visit www.mychoices.com.

Wise County Christian Counseling is at 2201 S. FM 51, Ste. 500, also in Decatur. Call Beverly Ross at (940)-627-1618 or visit www.wiseccc.org.

Couples may also contact Jennifer Acker at The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, 817-632-5529, www.theparentingcenter.org/2intex or Shane Scott at Walnut Creek Baptist Church in Reno, 817-221-2110, www.walnutcreekbaptistchurch.com.

More organizations and churches that offer the classes may be found by searching online at TwogetherInTexas.com or calling 2-1-1.

Leeks said some providers charge a small fee to cover the costs of the classes, while others offer free classes.

Couples who complete a class get a certificate they can take to their county clerk when they apply for their marriage license. The certificate is good for one year and serves as proof that the couple is eligible for the discounted marriage license fee.

The marriage education classes and discount for a marriage license were authorized by House Bill 2685 from the 2007 Texas legislative session.

In fiscal 2014, 29,000 people statewide completed the classes.

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Revel in Wise festivals

Pioneer Days

PIONEER DAYS – Re-enactor Bob Jackson shows Luiz and Carla Perez how to make a spoon from a cow’s horn. Jackson and his wife, Jennifer, re-enacted the day-to-day life of people from the American fur-trade era Saturday at the Main Street Festival in Paradise. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Floating Along

FLOATING ALONG – Yellow ducks in a carnival game wait for patrons to spend their cash and try their luck Saturday morning at Rhome’s Fall Festival. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Sweet Tooth

SWEET TOOTH – Phillip Everhart and his son, Aaron, ask Chelby Buratovich about the prices of cotton candy. Money from the cotton candy sales went to Paradise’s project graduation. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Riding Proud

RIDING PROUD – Representing Kam Kartway (from left) are Michael Buck, Noah Rowland and Mitchell Mobley. These racers moved at a much slower pace during Rhome’s parade Saturday. Their carts normally round tracks at speeds nearing 40 mph. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Under the Hood

UNDER THE HOOD – Clay Denton of Runaway Bay looks over a Mustang entered in the Paradise Main Street Fest car show. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Giddy Up

GITTY UP – Lacee Pattengill holds her baby, Waylon, while steadying her daughter, Frankie, atop a pony Saturday at Rhome’s Fall Festival. Her son, Harrison, rides all by himself in the back. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Slow Ride

SLOW RIDE – Movement Church members ride and walk alongside their race-themed float Saturday at Rhome’s Fall Festival. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Got Talent

GOT TALENT – Laramie Dearing was the first contestant in the Division 1 youth portion of Paradise’s Main Street Festival talent show Saturday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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Married couple arrested for bank robbery

A Paradise couple has been arrested in connection with a June bank robbery in central Arkansas.

Rodney Hurdsman

Rodney Hurdsman, 45, and his wife, Stephanie Hurdsman, 39, were arrested Monday in Shreveport, La. The two are suspected of robbing the Malvern National Bank in Benton on June 16.

A third suspect, Stephanie’s sister, Oneida Saylor, 35, remains at large.

Arrest warrants for aggravated robbery and theft of property were issued for all three.

The Benton robbery happened around 4:15 p.m. on that Monday. Two suspects entered the bank, displayed a pistol and demanded money from a clerk. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, both suspects then fled the bank on foot.

“One suspect was a white male who was wearing a mask that resembled the ‘Mario Brothers’ video game character. The other suspect was a white female suspect who was wearing dark-colored sunglasses,” according to a Benton Police Department press release.

Stephanie Hurdsman

More charges could be forthcoming, according to police.

“They are also suspects in robberies in other jurisdictions and are being sought on various other charges,” the department stated in a press release.

The Hurdsmans have an address in the 100 block of County Road 3382 south of Paradise. Both have previously spent time in the Wise County Jail.

Wise County Sheriff David Walker said Rodney Hurdsman had been in jail here on unrelated charges of misdemeanor assault and theft of property $20,000 to $100,000 from Sept. 3 until Sept. 22, when he posted bail. He failed to show up for a scheduled court date last Thursday, Sept. 25.

That same morning, a suspect matching his description entered Regions Bank in Round Rock, displayed a gun and demanded money from a clerk.

According to Wise County Jail records, Rodney Hurdsman has been arrested four different times this year, each time on burglary or theft charges apparently unrelated to the suspected bank robberies. He was indicted by a Wise County grand jury for burglary of a habitation in April and theft of property $20,000 to $100,000 in June. Those cases are pending.

Stephanie Hurdsman was last arrested in October of 2012 for a parole violation, according to Wise County jail records. Court records show she was convicted of theft $1,500 to $20,000 in December of 2008.

The Hurdsmans remained jailed in Louisiana Tuesday but are expected to be extradited to Arkansas soon where they will be officially charged with the Benton robbery.

Saylor is considered armed and dangerous, according to the Benton Police. Anyone coming in contact with her should call their local police or dial 911.

Anyone with information about this crime should call the Benton Police Department at 501-778-1171 or 501-315-TIPS. Individuals may also text an anonymous crime tip to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text or go to www.crimereports.com to leave a tip.

Detectives in Benton have been working with the FBI, Louisiana State Police, Round Rock Police Department and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

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Dems stump to supportive crowd

Matthew Britt, Democratic candidate for state representative (District 61), told a crowd of supporters at last Tuesday’s Empty Chair Debate that he feels it’s wrong for Republicans to shy away from such events.

The Sept. 23 debate, hosted by the Wise County Democratic Party, turned into a candidate forum since the Republican opponents did not attend. Britt expressed frustration.

“I’ve attempted multiple times to reach out and debate (state Rep. Phil King), but he has not said anything so far,” Britt said. “We get answers like, ‘I have not received it.’ We are planning on hand-delivering a letter to his office soon and see if he will accept it that way and if not, we’ll send it certified mail.

“This is something that I feel like is wrong, especially for a representative position,” Britt said.

He told the crowd that his top three concerns are water, economic problems and education.

During the question-and-answer session, someone asked how King being named chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would benefit Wise County.

Britt said he didn’t think it would.

“Taking on a position like that is going to require a lot of out-of-district time and this is not the time that we need someone who is representing us to be out of the district and to be pushing a legislative agenda out of the state,” he said.

Britt also spoke about the possibility of fracking contaminating drinking water.

“There’s been a recent study that said (contamination) can come from the casing of these wells, and whether it’s the same thing or not, it’s very, very similar and related to drilling,” he said. “We have drilling here, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

He said it must be done responsibly, though.

STEVE BROWN

Steve Brown, Democratic candidate for Texas Railroad commissioner, was the only other statewide candidate to attend the forum.

He said one of the biggest challenges in this election is empowering communities to make a difference.

He said voters continue to elect people who don’t keep the best interests of their constituents in mind.

One of the submitted questions asked if fracking is as big of a problem as the media claims, and he said it’s a serious problem because “we’re denying problems exist.”

He said although fracking has existed for decades, one of the new aspects is that now it’s being done in people’s backyards. He said he also wants to develop a policy to address urban drilling.

It is affecting people’s health and property values, he said.

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District Clerk Records filed August 2014

ACCOUNTS, CONTRACTS, NOTES

Juanda’s Consulting Co. vs. Bio Care Home Health Services Inc.

Juanda’s Consulting Co. vs. Kinsman Enterprises Inc.

Targa Liquids Marketing and Trade LLC vs. West Texas LPG Pipeline Limited Partnership

Dean DeRenzo vs. 4226 Trailer Sales LLC, doing business as NRS Trailer

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2007-4 vs. Stormy Williams

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-3 vs. Stormy Williams

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-1 vs. Stormy Williams

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-2 vs. Stormy Williams

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2005-1 vs. Stormy Williams

Mark 541 Group LLC vs. Supreme Corp. of Texas

James L. McGilvray Jr., et al vs. Jenkins Salvage LLC, doing business as Young Guns Pipeline and Construction, et al

LVNC Funding LLC vs. Joe Campbell

FORECLOSURES

Order for foreclosure concerning Justin and Angela Pratt

Order for foreclosure concerning Gerald and Panayoita Shaver, 457 Private Road 4476 in Decatur

Order for foreclosure concerning 502 Main St. in Newark

TAX CASES

Boyd ISD, et al vs. B.J. and Nancy H. Pennington

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Charles and Judith Reed

Decatur ISD vs. Douglas Scott Reynolds

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. Judy Stevens

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. Affordable Housing of Parker County Inc.

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. William F. Alexander

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. Bridgeport Estates Inc.

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Joshua Townes

Paradise ISD, et al vs. Trinity Materials Inc.

Northwest ISD, et al vs. Robert A. and Cydney Walvoord

Decatur ISD and Wise County vs. Whatzit Land Co. Ltd.

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Cleva Williamson

Decatur ISD vs. George W. Gage

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Johnson Country Oaks Inc.

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. Ralph W. Jumper

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Miller Valley Limited

Decatur ISD, et al vs. North Texas Tire and Automotive Inc.

Decatur ISD, et al vs. PVG Manufacturing Inc.

Boyd ISD, et al vs. Bryan Dolan, et al

Northwest ISD, et al vs. Hampton Minnis Property Ltd.

Wise County, et al vs. JDMI LLC

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Johnston Leasing Corp.

Bridgeport ISD, et al vs. Glenda Sue Jones

INJURY OR DAMAGE – MOTOR VEHICLE

Cade Christian vs. Tamara Porras Green and Simon Porras

Cassie L. Barbee vs. Carman D. Miller

Teresa Scott Smith vs. Karen June Fischer

Marvin Porter and Terri Ridenour vs. Trius Trucking Inc. and Sarbjit Singh

Jeremy Lee Green vs. Cecil Wayne Hardee

Gary Sanders vs. Hendershot Equipment Inc. and Ronald Gene Hendershot

INJURY OR DAMAGE – OTHER

Martin Banuelos Jr., individually and on behalf of Martin Banuelos, Omar Banuelos, Nicolas de Jesus Banuelos and as representative of the estate of Maria Ruiz-Quezada vs. Juan Flores, doing business as 3J Trucking, and Johnny Hothouse

Robin Sterkel vs. DDT Management LLC, doing business as Taco Casa

Bill Lampman vs. Wise County Electric Cooperative and Horton Tree Service

DIVORCES FILED

James Glenn Partin and Cecilia Kay Partin

Christina Riggs and John Riggs

Rita Kaye Driver and Jackie Charles Driver

Brian Pate Cayce and Vhonda Jade Cayce

Regina Gay Barzano and August Anthony Barzano

Richard Glenn Calvery and Angelique Calvery

Dawn Rene Rogers and Steven Albert Rogers

Stephanie Lynn Barrow and Dustin Scott Barrow

Casey Lea Locke and Jeramie Neal Locke

Shayne Michael Portz and Jessica Lynn Portz

Paul Martin Givens and Rosemary Givens

Chason Lynn Duncan and Jessica Nicole Duncan

Jason Joy and Kelley Michelle Joy

Nicholas Jody Gaskill and Lisa Louise Gaskill

Rebecca Christene Harrison and Michael Chance Harrison

Wade Weldon Burton and Alba Rocio Jimenez Martinez

Stephen Randall Wolf and Andrea Marie Wolf

Ben Patrick Eden and Sarah Nicole Eden

Tiffany Elaine Goggans and Jace Brennon Goggans

Carrie Lynn Wigington and Jason Todd Wigington

Derry Shannon Jones and Stacy Ann Jones

Shauna Lynn Huston and Jordan Thomas Huston

Sandra A. Burk and Justin Erick Burk

Denise Marie Witt and Scott Douglas Witt

Michael Shane Howard and Patty Lynn Howard

Brandie Nicole Wilcox and David Glenn Harrell

Christopher Lance Chance and Linley Ann Chance

Christopher L. Plummer and Jodi V. Creager-Plummer

Alice Thomas and Jessie J. Thomas

Virginia Lee Powers and James W. Powers Jr.

Franklin Malone and Desiree Denise Malone

Karen Sue Uselton and John Allen Uselton

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County Clerk Records for Wednesday, October 1, 2014

RECORDED MARRIAGE LICENSES FILED AUGUST 2014

Oscar Fernandez Luevanos and Deana Jo Sanderson, both of Paradise

Farrell Eugene Skelton Jr. and Savannah Dawn Cooper, both of Alvord

David G. Bryant and Kimberly Wise Rasbury, both of Boyd

Ubaldo Arellano Garcia of Boyd and Maria Elizabeth Perez of Springtown

Colin Alan-McFadden Gabbert of Rhome and Judith Nayeli Lira Martinez of Decatur

Kevin Ray Henson of Rhome and Kendra Darlene McGinn of Roanoke

Margarito Garcia Bocanegra and Edith Isabel Villatoro, both of Rhome

James Ryan Rayborn and Megan Joy Wampler, both of Jacksboro

William Ryan Fernandes of New Braunfels and Dalene Kay Jackson of Jasper, Ala.

Trevor Lane Neighbors and Ashlee Elissa Greenwood, both of Sunset

Juan Carlos Garrido Naranjo and Wenddy Brambila of Rhome

Casey Neal McAden and Jessica Rose Antis, both of Decatur

Joshua Kyle Schroeder and Deedra Elizabeth Moody, both of Bowie

Daniel Ray Castleberry and Trina Roberts Cupps, both of Rhome

Mark Henry Strand and Julie Monique Turner, both of Decatur

Millard Marvin Crunk and Morgan Carrol Cooper, both of Springtown

Jimmie Lee Jarvis III and Kolbey Niccole Edington, both of Runaway Bay

Miguel Angel Gonzalez-Del Rio and Claudia Hernandez Campos, both of Decatur

Bradley James Memmel Jr. and Tamara Sue Horton, both of Decatur

Thomas Jene Smith and Yvonne Crystal Smart, both of Chico

Richard Drew Mara of Paradise and Teri Lee Brown of Rhome

Pablo Fernandez Cruz and Cecilia Aldape, both of Decatur

Thomas Edward Appel Jr. and Heather Lee Frost, both of Springtown

Julian Richard O’Pry Jr. and Jenny Lynn Byers, both of Fort Worth

David Leon Smith of Denton and Crystal Kay Edwards of Bridgeport

Scotty Lynn Story and Brandi Ann Moya, both of Boyd

Cody Everett Miller and Cara Beth Haines, both of Newark

William Russell Long and Rachel Anne Huling, both of Decatur

Patrick Calvin Harris of Decatur and Dana Lynette Kirkland of Bridgeport

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