Republicans sweep: Kennedy wins Precinct 4 by 2,050 votes

Republicans sweep: Kennedy wins Precinct 4 by 2,050 votes

The Wise County Precinct 4 County Commissioner’s race was decided early Tuesday night.

Early voting totals put Republican Gaylord Kennedy ahead of Democrat Kristina Kemp 1,131 to 238 shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Kennedy went on to win with 2,555 votes – 83.5 percent – to Kemp’s 505 votes and 16.5 percent.

GOP Victory

GOP VICTORY – Gaylord Kennedy, newly elected Precinct 4 county commissioner, and J.D. Clark, newly elected Wise County judge, celebrate their victories Tuesday night at the Decatur Visitors Center. Kennedy and Clark were just two of the many Republicans to win big Tuesday night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I was a little surprised,” Kennedy said of the winning margin. “I felt like I would win, but not by that much. I feel like I won because I was the most qualified candidate, and voters realized that. They’re smart. So, I thank the voters.”

Prior to seeking the office, Kennedy served 12 years on the Bridgeport school board and owned and operated a personal trucking business for 34 years. His campaign focused on road maintenance, low county tax rates and orderly growth for the county.

After the win, Kennedy said he was just excited to get started – and glad the campaign was over.

“I’ve been preparing for this for a year, so I’m ready to get to work, get things organized and start learning the ropes of the courthouse.”

Kemp, only the second woman to run for Precinct 4 commissioner, called the vote margin “a little ridiculous.”

Jubilant Victory

JUBILANT VICTORY – Gaylord Kennedy laughs and celebrates his 2,555-505 vote win over Kristina Kemp for Precinct 4 county commissioner Tuesday night at the Decatur Visitors Center. “I’m ready to get to work,” Kennedy said. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“Yeah, it’s a little insane, but I guess it just goes to show you that no matter how much hard work you put in, you won’t get elected if you don’t run on a Republican ticket,” Kemp said after Kennedy’s victory.

“I do believe that if this wasn’t a partisan position, I would have won,” she added. “But I’m still happy with my decision [to run].”

Kemp, who campaigned based on bringing living wage jobs to Wise County, recycling wastewater used for fracking and spending tax dollars more efficiently, said she would consider running again in four years if she felt that she could make a difference.

“It depends on where I’m at,” she said. “But I know whatever happens next is meant to be.”

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Clark wins big to take judge’s post

Republican J.D. Clark was elected Wise County judge Tuesday night – and it was a landslide.

Clark, the mayor of Chico, collected 83 percent of the vote to soundly defeat Democrat Jim Stegall, 10,364 to 2,121.

“I went into this planning to win, and even so, I don’t have the words to say how it feels,” Clark said after the votes were in. “To have 83 percent of the people in the county say they want me to work for them – it blows my mind.

“I’m going to work every day not only for that 83 percent, but also to show that 17 percent that I work for them, too.”

Clark held an election watch party at the Decatur Visitors Center, and Stegall came in just before 9:45 p.m. to congratulate his opponent.

“The people have spoken,” he said. “They have done their job by voting, and I’m especially proud of those that voted for me.

“In the beginning, I said I wanted to have some discussion of issues and that didn’t materialize the way I had hoped,” Stegall said. “I regret that.”

Clark jumped out to a big lead as soon as the early voting numbers rolled in just after 7. He had pulled in 4,807 votes to Stegall’s 1,011, an 87.62 percent majority that barely slipped even after the election-day votes were counted.

Throughout the evening, Clark was constantly caught in a handshake or hug as family, friends and county officials popped in to check the numbers and offer congratulations. A group of his former Bowie High School students even made the trek to Wise County to support their teacher – a man they now consider a friend.

“We figured it would mean a lot to him for us be here, as a friend,” Carter Shackelford said. Although he was happy for Clark, he and the other students said they do miss him in the halls of BHS, and it’s a different atmosphere without him.

The city of Chico will also have to adjust to life without Clark as its leader. The 28-year-old was serving his third term as mayor but will turn in his letter of resignation this week, effective when he takes the oath of office as county judge.

At the end of a long night, Clark hugged his mom, Lori, and shared a few words with her before standing to make his official victory speech.

He and Republican Gaylord Kennedy, who won his race for Precinct 4 county commissioner, shook hands, congratulating each other and pledging to work hard and work together.

“I just want to say thank you to so many people,” Clark said.

The newly elected judge said he didn’t have a brain trust or a fancy political team running his campaign.

“It didn’t take any committee of people, it just took people who agreed with what I was doing and believed in what I was doing,” he said. “I didn’t have to sit them down and say this is how we’ll do it … we just organically did what was right.

“I wanted issues to be part of the conversation, and I think it’s obvious, not only did it become part of the converstion, everybody said, ‘we’re with ya,'” he said. “I’m going to work for all of Wise County as I know Gaylord is, too, and like he said, ‘Let’s get to work!'”

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Statewide, nothing was too close to call

The parties started early Tuesday night, as Republicans across Texas celebrated a decisive defense of their conservative stronghold.

Democrats had chosen the theme “Battleground Texas” for this election, but as soon as results began to roll in it was obvious that the battle was over almost before it began.

While Wise County Republicans celebrated their sweep of the local offices up for grabs, Republicans statewide retained control even though there were no incumbents running for statewide office for the first time in over a century.

With 17 percent of the precincts reporting, just after 9 p.m., with Republicans leading in every race, the statewide totals looked like this:

  • With more than 2.5 million votes counted, Attorney General Greg Abbott led State Senator Wendy Davis by a 59-to-39 percent margin in the race for Governor.
  • State Senator Dan Patrick had 58.2 percent of the vote in the Lieutenant Governor’s race, to 39.1 percent for Senate colleague Leticia Van de Putte.
  • In the Attorney General’s race, Ken Paxton had received 58.7 percent of the vote to Sam Houston’s 38.6 percent.
  • Republican Glenn Hegar had a 58.3 percent edge over Mike Collier in the race for Comptroller.
  • Presidential grandson and nephew George P. Bush was leading John Cook 61 percent to 35 percent in the race for Land Commissioner.
  • Sid Miller was up 59 percent to 37 percent over Jim Hogan in the contest to be the next Commissioner of Agriculture.
  • Ryan Sitton led 58.7 percent over Steve Brown in the race for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission.
  • The State Board of Education seat in District 12 was returning to incumbent Pat Hardy by a 63-to-33 percent margin over Nancy Bean.
  • The District 30 State Senate race was going to Craig Estes with 86 percent of the vote over Libertarian opponent Cory Lane, who had drawn 13.8 percent.
  • Voters returned District 61 State Representative Phil King to office by an 83-to-17 percent margin over Matthew Britt, with 63 of 70 precincts reporting – a 35,059 to 7,194-vote margin.
  • District 12 Congresswoman Kay Granger easily returned to office, leading Democrat Mark Greene by a 66.6 percent margin.
  • And in District 13, Congressman Mac Thornberry was overwhelming Democratic opponent Mike Minter with 83 percent of the vote.

If the trends hold, this election will mark the 10th straight Republicans sweep of the statewide ballot, dating back to 1996.

Abbott, Texas’ longest-tenured Attorney General, will move into the Governor’s Mansion along with his wife, Cecilia, who will become Texas’ first Hispanic first lady. They have one daughter, Audrey, a senior in high school.

Patrick, a Houston radio talk show host before he was elected to the Texas Senate, has vowed to name fewer Democrats as committee chairs. Van de Putte will return to the Senate in January with two years left on her current term.

The lone constitutional amendment on the ballot, Proposition 1, to dedicate money from the surplus of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the State Highway Fund, was passing with a huge majority.

At press time there were more than 2.1 million votes in favor of the proposition, 81 percent, while less than a half-million ballots had been cast against it, 18 percent.

Scott Haywood, president of Move Texas Forward, released a statement at 9 p.m.

“Tonight Texans from across the political spectrum came together to fight traffic, save lives, and create jobs,” he said. “Texans have sent a strong message that they want reliable funding for our state’s highways.

“TxDOT now stands to receive an additional $1.7 billion for road and bridge projects in the next year without new taxes, tolls, or debt.”

He noted, however, that the passage of Prop. 1 was just the first step in addressing the transportation funding shortfall in Texas.

“We look forward to continue working with our coalition partners as we fight for the additional funding for transportation that will move Texas forward,” Haywood said.

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Interim officials not automatically out

On the eve of Election Day, commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg cleared up misinformation about when newly elected officials will take office.

He told commissioners at their regular meeting Monday that there’s been a misconception that the newly elected county officials will take over from the interim officials as soon as the votes are canvassed.

He explained that under the law, the interims were appointed to a term of office that ends Dec. 31, 2014, and the newly elected officials will win a term that starts Jan. 1, 2015.

“… there has been a misconception somewhere that the person who is appointed automatically comes out, but actually there is no automatic turnover,” he said. “That person has won their election, but they are not qualified for a term of office until Jan. 1, 2015. That is when they actually would take office. They are not winning an election for a four-year and one-and-a-half month term.

“I just wanted to clear that up and wanted to make sure everyone understood that’s what is supposed to happen or what under the law is supposed to happen,” he said.

Aaberg said he looked up several attorney general opinions on the issue, reviewed the state constitution and talked to interim Election Administrator Jim Parker, who had researched the issue with the Texas Secretary of State’s office. Aaberg said he also has an email from the secretary of state verifying this interpretation.

Toward the end of the discussion, interim County Judge Glenn Hughes announced that he plans to resign as soon as the votes are canvassed.

“To clear up any confusion, it also states that the incumbent or appointee can resign his position, and I’d like it known that whoever wins the election, I’d like to resign after the votes are canvassed,” he said. “Whoever wins the election can go ahead and start their term … it’ll be a little more constructive for the judge to go ahead and take office and get his term started without the incumbent being there, and he can get his program started.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance asked Aaberg if that was “kosher” with the law. Aaberg said the action would be legal, and the secretary of state email did reference the possibility of the appointed person resigning or leaving office due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or death.

Kristina Kemp, Democratic candidate for Precinct 4 commissioner, shot her hand in the air.

“Although you’re willing to resign, the newly elected person would not be obligated to start immediately,” she said. “They do not have to start until the first, correct, if they have holidays planned or to prepare to take office on the first?”

Hughes said he would be willing to work with whoever is elected.

“If they say they can’t take office, then I’ll be glad to stay and finish the term,” he said. “But otherwise, I will resign. I will work with whoever the candidate is and make it fit their wishes and desires, but my intention is to resign.”

Whoever won the judge’s post Tuesday will likely be appointed interim judge to finish Hughes’ term and will start in January the term to which he was elected.

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Weekend blaze destroys south Wise home

A home in south Wise County was destroyed by fire Saturday afternoon.

The Roberts family was home around noon when they noticed the smell of smoke, according to Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis. They spotted flames around the front porch area and attempted to put out the fire with a garden hose while also calling for the fire department.

Battling the Blaze

BATTLING THE BLAZE – Firefighters try to bring a fire in a home in south Wise County under control Saturday afternoon. No one was injured. Messenger photo by Brian Knox

Travis said David Roberts, his wife, Halsey, and their two children, Courtney and Tegan, escaped from the home unharmed.

Fire departments from Salt Creek, Boonsville/Balsora and Cottondale responded to the fire in the double-wide mobile home located at 1849 Saddle Ridge Drive.

Travis said when firefighters arrived, they discovered the fire had already run under the floor the entire length of the home, making the floor potentially dangerous for firefighters attempting to attack the flames from inside the home.

Instead, firefighters attacked the fire from outside, including from the roof of a metal building next to the home.

The fire continued to burn for several hours, and firefighters remained on the scene until after 5 p.m. The stubborn fire rekindled once again that night, once on Sunday and again Monday morning.

Travis said the cause of the fire remains undetermined, but it does not appear to be suspicious.

The home is owned by Chad and Trisha Conlee and was built in 2001, according to online property records.

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Couple suspected of running furniture scam

The Parker County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible theft case that could involve Wise County victims.

According to a news release from Parker County SO, the department has received numerous complaints about a possible furniture restoration scheme. The victims said the suspects, husband and wife Alyssa and Steven Lee, promised to refinish antique furniture but instead kept the items and attempted to resell them online. The Lees’ business is called Sugar Stone Revival.

“To date, the victims have reported the Lees stole an estimated combined total furniture value of more than $20,000,” the news release stated.

PCSO investigators recently executed a search warrant at a storage facility rented in the suspects’ names and recovered “thousands of dollars in stolen property” from three units, according to the release.

The Lees are suspected to have stolen at least one piece of furniture from a victim living in South Wise County, according to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. In that case, payment was collected up front, the furniture was handed over and was not returned to the owner within the agreed upon amount of time.

The Lees are also suspects in theft cases from the Springtown, Willow Park and Weatherford police departments, according to the news release.

Investigators believe the Lees have vacated their Parker County residence, closed their social media accounts and possibly left the state.

Anyone who believes they might be a victim in this case should call the Parker County Sheriff’s Office at 817-594-8845.

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3 local residents charged in bank robberies

A Paradise couple arrested in September for a bank robbery in Arkansas has now been charged with two robberies of the same bank in Round Rock.

Rodney Hurdsman, 45, and his wife, Stephanie Hurdsman, 39, have been charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the robberies of the Regions Bank on July 15 and Sept. 25, according to a news release from the Round Rock Police Department. The warrants were filed last week by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force comprised of Round Rock and Austin Police detectives.

A third Paradise resident, Kenneth Lee Ulledahl, 22, was also charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the July 15 robbery but not the Sept. 25 robbery.

“The violent takeover robbery consisted of two males rushing into the bank brandishing handguns, while demanding money,” the news release stated about the July 15 robbery.

Ulledahl and the Hurdsmans all have the same address in the 100 block of County Road 3382 near Paradise, according to Wise County Jail records.

The Hurdsmans were arrested at the Eldorado Casino in Shreveport, La., Sept. 29 and charged with aggravated robbery of the Malvern National Bank in Benton, Ark., on June 16. A third suspect, Stephanie’s sister, Oneida Saylor, 35, was arrested the following week and charged with aggravated robbery of the Arkansas bank.

Round Rock Police worked with the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, FBI Little Rock, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Benton Police Department to identify and charge the suspects in the robberies.

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Winter fishing still appeals

Texas weather might be cooling, but that doesn’t mean the action on the water is.

Lake Bridgeport’s water level is about 24 feet below conservation level, which is 2 feet lower than in July. Recent rains and continued cooler weather could equal some rise in levels. Lower lake levels has not affected fish population too much, according to a report released this summer by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Based on surveys conducted every four years, the report revealed population numbers for several species of fish – both predator and prey – are in good shape.

The 11,954-acre reservoir was originally built in 1932 on the west fork of the Trinity River. It is operated by the Tarrant Regional Water District for the primary purpose of providing a municipal and industrial water supply – but it’s also a hot spot for recreation. The habitat consists of mostly rocky areas and small patches of native submerged vegetation.

Some populations like catfish, crappie and spotted bass were abundant and stable. Largemouth bass populations are down, but fish growth is good.

Here are some tips for winter fishing:


  • As winter weather gets colder anglers looking for fish should start at the northern most sides of bodies of water as they tend to warm first. Species like bass and crappie will move to the warmer areas and need to feed. Murky water stays warmer than clear water, too.
  • Winter is one of the best times for targeting channel catfish and blue blue catfish as they will come together in tighter areas called “holes.” Catfish spend most of the time where conditions are most comfortable for them and where food is most readily available.
  • Using fresh bait is best. Catfish feed on shad or skipjack herring but most pan fish cut into pieces will work.


  • Bass will slow down as the weather cools, so a smart angler will slow down, too. Slowing presentation will give the fish more time to react and strike.
  • Winter bass are picky eaters, and change in the size of lures might do the trick. If bass aren’t striking small lures, larger ones are worth a try as the fish might not be willing to waste time feeding on small prey.
  • Acording to TPWD, there aren’t as many fisherman on Lake Bridgport year round as there were five or 10 years ago, but there might be even fewer as some will opt to stay snug in their beds as opposed to braving the water. That being the case, don’t be afraid to move the boat around and search the whole lake for those hot spots where bass congregate.
  • Look for warm water like the in shallow areas warmed by afternoon sunlight.
  • Don’t be afraid to use bait instead of lures. Minnows and night crawlers will work. Try to keep the bait warm and lively, though.

Sources: TPWD,,

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Invasive species laws change

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently found adult zebra mussels in Lake Bridgeport, a year after researchers discovered the invasive species’ DNA in the water.

According to, zebra mussels are present in Lake Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon and Belton. Evidence of the mussels has also been found in Lake Ray Hubbard, Grapevine, Lake Fork, Tawakoni, the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and Sister Grove Creek.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the mussels, the state requires anglers and boaters to drain all water from their vessels – including live wells, bilges, motors and other receptacles – on approaching or leaving a body of water.

That law went into effect July 1, and Texas has made possession or transportation of zebra mussels a Class C misdemeanor for the first offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Repeat offenses can be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time up to 180 days.

One zebra mussel can produce up to 1 million larvae, invisible to the naked eye.

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Embracing victory

His Biggest Fans

HIS BIGGEST FANS – Newly elected county judge J.D. Clark is enveloped in a group hug by his former Bowie High School students at his election watch party Tuesday night. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Staunch Supporter

STAUNCH SUPPORTER – Joe Clark shows quiet support for his grandson, J.D. Clark, who was elected Wise County judge Tuesday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Checking Numbers

CHECKING NUMBERS – Jimmy Counts (from left), Jordan Karch and J.D. Clark check vote totals online Tuesday night. Clark won the county judge race with 83 percent of the vote. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Moment with Mom

MOMENT WITH MOM – J.D. Clark hugs his mom, Lori, as results from the final two ballot boxes are released. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Numbers Dont Lie

NUMBERS DON’T LIE – Republican J.D. Clark updates vote totals at his election watch party Tuesday night. Clark defeated his Democratic opponent Jim Stegall for the county judge post 10,364 to 2,121. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

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Halloween scares up voters

Early voting in Wise County took a sharp upswing in the second week.

The polls didn’t close until 7 p.m. Friday night, but as of 5:15 p.m., 775 voters had cast their ballots on Halloween. It was the largest single-day total by far.

The second highest turnout was just a day earlier, with 495 on Oct. 30.

“It’s been a zoo day,” Elections Administrator Jim Parker said Friday evening.

As of 5:15, 181 ballots had been cast in Bridgeport, 183 in Rhome and 411 in Decatur, and there was still one hour and 45 minutes left until the polls closed.

That brought the total through 5:15 p.m. Friday to 4,839 – a 13.25 voting percentage that doesn’t include the nearly 1,000 mail-in ballots.

“We’re way ahead of 2010,” Parker said, comparing this year’s early voting numbers to the last non-Presidential election year.

Parker said total early voters in 2010 was 4,411, which included only 268 mail-in ballots.

Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • There have been seven days with more than 400 voters.
  • The single highest voter turnout was Oct. 31 with more than 775 votes through 5:15 p.m.
  • The single lowest voter turnout day (excluding weekend voting) was Thursday, Oct. 23, with 313 votes.
  • Weekend voting included 198 ballots cast on Saturday and 81 on Sunday.

Parker offered some advice for Tuesday, when showers are predicted.

“If the weather is bad, vote early,” he said. “Don’t lollygag around because something could happen. Get in there and vote early.”

Early voting ran Oct. 20-31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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More students, more opportunities for STEM event

More students, more opportunities for STEM event

STEMania was back and bigger than ever this year at Weatherford College Wise County Thursday.

The second annual education event – where elementary students learn how science, technology, engineering and math intersect with everyday life – drew more than 800 fourth graders from Wise and Jack County schools.

Cheers and Moos

CHEERS AND MOOS – More than 800 fourth graders from Jack and Wise counties attended Weatherford College Wise County’s second annual STEMania event Thursday. This cow was used by WCWC students to teach the fourth graders how cows produce milk. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

This was an increase over last year’s event, which drew around 600 students from only Wise County.

The increase in attendees was no accident, according to Mike Endy, dean of academics.

“It’s not just about STEM,” he said. “It’s about exposing these kids to a college environment at a young age. They may be fourth graders right now, but they’re going to grow up and become college students, if they choose to do that, and we want to provide them options.”

More than 50 stations were spread out around the campus, where students could go to learn about everything from how electricity is made to how to harvest banana DNA. Some stations, like English professor Dr. Erin Sagerson’s “Frankenstein” exhibit, used humanities as a way to teach the students about science.

Crashing Brains

CRASHING BRAINS – Wise and Jack County fourth graders look on as nursing students from Weatherford College Wise County demonstrate the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, using fake brains as props. “I’ve seen some real bad accidents that were preventable if the person had just worn a helmet, so hopefully the kids learned something today,” WCWC nursing student John Riggs said. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Sagerson, calling herself “Dr. Sagerstein,” explained Mary Shelley’s tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster to a rapt audience before showing the fourth graders a skeleton they could take apart and put back together.

“We were trying to come up with ways to show that there’s always overlap between STEM subjects and other subjects,” she said. “The first story we could think of was ‘Frankenstein.’ It’s a nice tie-in for the kids for Halloween, too.”

Many of the stations, including demonstrations on smoking, bicycle safety and chemistry, were staffed by WCWC’s own nursing students.

Penelope Lawyer, a third-semester nursing student who was working at the smoking health station, said she enjoyed the opportunity to positively impact the youngsters.

Just Say No

JUST SAY NO – Students line up to listen to the difference between healthy lungs and smokers’ lungs during the STEMania event at WCWC Thursday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It’s important to get them to realize they need to not smoke – I smoked for 25 years and finally stopped right before I started this nursing program, so hopefully we can get them early,” she said.

To make their point, the nurses had the students listen to the breathing patterns of healthy lungs and then had them listen to recordings of what a smoker’s lungs sound like.

“Listening to the lungs was really cool,” said Paradise Elementary student Hugo Huerta. “It made me not want to smoke.”

Many of the students said they want to pursue careers in STEM-related fields when they grow up.

“I think I would like to do something in electricity, and make brighter lightbulbs,” Carson Elementary’s Wade Bates said.

Jayton Watson, also a student at Carson, said the cattle roping station in the parking lot inspired her to want to go into agriculture when she gets older.

“I think I might want to become a roping teacher,” she said. “It was fun being outdoors for that part of the day.”

If those students choose to pursue those dreams, Endy said the college is ready for them.

“These 800 kids will be the most people in this building at one point all year,” he said. “We built this new building as much for them, 10 years from now, as we did for ourselves. Hopefully everyone here realizes that hosting this event isn’t a waste of time, but it’s an investment in the future of the kids as much as it is for the college.”

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IT department changes to be discussed

County Judge Glenn Hughes will present to commissioners Monday his ideas for organizational changes to the county’s Department of Information Resources.

Hughes has been spearheading an effort to streamline the county’s computers and servers to make the system more efficient. In August, commissioners approved at his recommendation hiring Prince Computing Corp. to update the county’s IT system and help the county devise a five-year plan.

In other business, commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg will explain to the court how Tuesday’s election will affect interim officer holders Hughes and Gary Potts, currently serving as Precinct 4 commissioner. It was widely believed that the winners of Tuesday’s election would take office after the votes were canvassed, but in fact, the terms to which they’re being elected don’t start until Jan. 1.

Monday’s meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the Wise County Courthouse. It’s open to the public.

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New support group seeks to educate about Parkinson’s

A Wise County resident is starting a new support group for people affected by Parkinson’s disease and their families.

Pam Hudson founded the Parkinson’s Support Group of the Wise County Area after her husband, Tommy, was diagnosed with the disease and she became his primary caregiver.

She said she was looking for a place to share her experiences and learn more about the disease from people who had gone through it but couldn’t find a group in Wise County.

So, she started one.

“It’s good to have friends that you know are going through the same things,” Hudson said.

The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the administrative conference room at Weatherford College Wise County, where they discuss everything from what medications to use to how to deal with the emotional toll of taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s.

“It’s not a social thing,” Hudson said. “We’re just trying to keep it educational and figure out how it affects people’s lives.”

The group’s next meeting Nov. 4 will feature pharmacist Gail Walker, of Gail’s Pharmacy in Bridgeport, as guest speaker. Walker will be discussing the different medications that can help with Parkinson’s.

Hudson said another reason for the group is so people who do not have Parkinson’s can accurately understand what the disease is like. She mentioned actor Michael J. Fox’s diagnosis in 1991 as one of the only things people know about Parkinson’s, along with the “shakes” symptoms that are often the first sign of diagnosis.

“There are several symptoms, and the one symptom that I personally think is the scariest is the mind tricks it plays,” Hudson wrote in an email.

“It causes those who have it to ride an emotional roller coaster, with panic attacks, anxiety attacks, depression, sleep disorders – and it causes lifestyle changes you may not be ready for. It causes arguments and anger and verbally lashing out at those who you love the most … and the caregivers are the ones that catch the brunt of the patient’s anger.”

There is no membership fee or dress code for those who wish to attend the meetings, and Hudson said they normally do not last for more than an hour.

For information, call Pam Hudson at 940-389-0642.

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Election Day is Tuesday

After months of campaigning, Election Day is finally here.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and by the end of the night, Wise County will have a new county judge and Precinct 4 commissioner.

Voters across the state will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner. The ballot also includes seats in the Texas and U.S. House and Senate, a host of judgeships, even Paradise school board posts.

Also on the ballot are district and county judge and clerk positions, a county court-at-law judge, county treasurer and two commissioners’ posts, along with four justice of the peace jobs. For a sample ballot, go to

Local polling locations include:

  • Precinct 1-1: Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut, Decatur
  • Precinct 1-2: Ag Extension building, 206 S. State, Decatur
  • Precinct 1-22: Ag Extension building, 206 S. State, Decatur
  • Precinct 1-3: First Baptist Church, Corner of Farm Road 455 and Main, Slidell
  • Precinct 1-4: Masonic Lodge, first floor, 147 CR 2640, Greenwood
  • Precinct 1-5: East Wise Fire Hall, 107 CR 4421, Blewett
  • Precinct 1-6: Community Center, East Farm Road 407, New Fairview
  • Precinct 2-7: Assumption Catholic Church, 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
  • Precinct 2-8: Assumption Catholic Church, 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
  • Precinct 2-9: Alvord City Hall, 215 W. Elm, Alvord
  • Precinct 2-10: Victory Baptist Church, 4346 N. Texas 101, Sunset (Park Springs)
  • Precinct 2-11: Crafton Baptist Church, fellowship hall, 2590 Farm Road 2127, Crafton
  • Precinct 2-12: Chico Public Library, 106 W. Jacksboro, Chico
  • Precinct 4-13: Bridgeport High School, One Maroon Drive, Bridgeport
  • Precinct 4-14: Bridgeport Lions Hall, 1107 8th St., Bridgeport
  • Precinct 4-15: Norma Coble Civic Center, 51 Runaway Bay Dr., Runaway Bay
  • Precinct 4-16: Boonsville Community Center, West on Farm Road 920 off County Road 3743, Boonsville
  • Precinct 4-17: First United Methodist Church, activity center, 301 S. Oak, Paradise
  • Precinct 2-18: Bridgeport Recreation Center, 1102 Lawdwin, Bridgeport
  • Precinct 2-19: Lake Bridgeport Fire Hall, 301 S. Main St., Lake Bridgeport
  • Precinct 3-20: Cottondale Community Center, 161 CR 3571 off Farm Road 2123, Cottondale
  • Precinct 3-23: Boyd Community Center, 420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd
  • Precinct 3-24: Newark Fire Hall, 406 Hudson St., Newark
  • Precinct 3-25: Boyd Community Center, 420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd
  • Precinct 3-27: Boyd Community Center, 420 E. Morton Ave., Boyd


The most recent Appeals Court decision restored the state’s Voter ID law, meaning those wishing to cast a ballot will need to bring a photo ID with them to the polling place, along with their voter registration card.

Acceptable forms of ID:

  • Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

Voters who don’t have an ID when they show up at the polling place will be issued a provisional ballot, which can become official if they return with an ID within a given number of days.

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Sisk gets 4-year sentence for burying body

A Boyd man has been sentenced to four years in prison after Tarrant County prosecutors said he helped bury the body of a murder victim in south Wise County.


Joseph Daniel Sisk, 24, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Page Simpson and Kevin Boneberg a couple of weeks ago. He pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence, according to a news release from the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

Sisk’s father, William Farris Sisk Jr., 53, of Springtown, also pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and was sentenced to four years in prison.

The two are accused of concealing the body of Arturo Torres. Javier Hernandez, 38, of Fort Worth pleaded guilty to Torres’ murder and received a 20-year prison sentence.

The investigation into Torres’ death began Aug. 2, 2012, when Torres’ mother went to Fort Worth Police saying she had not seen her son for several weeks. Several months later, witnesses were located who began to shed light on what had happened.

“The witnesses told police that Torres and Hernandez had gotten into an argument at a residence in the 2300 block of Irion Avenue (in Fort Worth) and that Hernandez had shot Torres,” according to the district attorney’s office news release. “Hernandez ordered another man to cut Torres’ throat and finish him off. When he refused, Hernandez strangled Torres with a coax cable.”

The Sisks had come to the house that night to buy drugs, according to the news release, and Hernandez ordered them to take the body back to their property on County Road 4698 in Wise County.

“In the early morning hours of June 26, 2012, the Sisks arrived at a dumpsite off County Road 4698 in Wise County, where they dug a hole for several hours by flashlight. Then they buried the body,” according to the statement.

According to Wise County jail records, Joseph Sisk listed a home address of 1347 CR 4698 when he was booked into jail on an unrelated charge in April of 2012.

Investigators continued to gather information and obtained a search warrant for the property on County Road 4698, a couple of miles east of Farm Road 51. On Jan. 29, 2013, a Fort Worth homicide detective working with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s anthropology team, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mandy Hays searched the location and found human remains that were later identified as Torres.

Hernandez’ girlfriend, Rocksan Winterberg, 33, also pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and was sentenced to two years in prison.

According to the news release, Winterberg and another woman were told by Hernandez to follow Sisk’s truck back to Wise County the night the body was transported to “become a distraction” if police tried to stop the truck.

Winterberg was also later instructed to help dispose of the gun, the release stated.

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Trick or Treat

In Costume 2

IN COSTUME – Yucely Meza’s face paint replicates a sugar skull, a Mexican treat created and sold in the days and weeks leading up to one of the country’s most famous holidays – Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Meza, 11, attended Spooktacular in Bridgeport Saturday evening. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


HAUNTED HOUSE – The Alvord High School Halloween haunted house is open indefinitely Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, starting at 10:30 p.m. on the 31st and 6 p.m. on the 1st. All proceeds benefit Alvord Project Graduation.

TRUNK OR TREAT – Alvord Booster Club is hosting trunk or treat at the AHS softball field starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. Pizza will be provided by the First Baptist Church of Alvord.


FALL FEST – The First Baptist Church of Bridgeport will have a Family Fun Fall Fest 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the church’s Family Life Center. There will be free food and candy, a bounce house, obstacle course, games and prizes. Wear costumes. The church is at the corner of Texas 114 and Cates Street.

COSTUME PARADE – Bridgeport Main Street’s Suit Up and Say Boo Halloween Costume parade down Halsell Street is 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. It begins at Bridgeport Stage, 1009 Halsell St.

HALLOWEEN NIGHT – Various streets will be closed 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, in the Oakland Heights Addition for trick-or-treating.

FEARAPHOBIA – The Fearaphobia Haunted House at 1407 Carpenter St. in Bridgeport is open 6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays until Nov. 1. Tickets are $15 and $10 at the door for adults and children under 12, respectively, and $10 and $5 online at There is also a children’s haunted house for those who feel they might get too scared going on the actual tour. If the event breaks even, designer Robert Chaney plans to give the proceeds to a local charity.


HAUNTED HOUSE – The Chico Community Volunteer Fire Department will have a haunted house 6 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October at the Old Chico Middle School, 400 S. Hovey St. Admission for 12 and under is $3 and 13 and older is $5. All proceeds will benefit the fire department. The haunted house will also have a “kid’s hall” for smaller children.


LIBRARY CARNIVAL – Decatur Public Library’s annual Halloween carnival is 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. There will be Halloween games with prizes, trick-or-treating for books and seasonal crafts. This special event is for grade-schoolers and families with young children. Call 940-393-0290.

TRUCK OR TREAT – First Baptist Church, 1200 Preskitt Rd., in Decatur is having Truck or Treat 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. There will be a hay ride, games, prizes, hot dogs and candy.

FALL FESTIVAL – Eagle Drive Baptist Church, 1301 Eagle Dr., in Decatur is having a fall festival 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. There will be a bounce house, ponies, live music, carnival games and free food.

FALL FESTIVAL – Governor’s Ridge Fall Festival is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30. There will be a bounce house, games and prizes, a merry-go-round, goblin walk and a hot dog supper, plus trick or treating.

TRUNK OR TREAT – Victory Family Church in Decatur is having a fall festival 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. There will be bounces houses, food, games, vendors and trunk or treat.

TRICK OR TREAT NIGHT – Decatur City Council voted to move the city’s trick or treat observance to Thursday, Oct. 30, to avoid a conflict with the Eagles’ final home football game Oct. 31. The council agreed to designate Deer Park Road as one-way, northbound, between Eagle Drive and Preskitt Road from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the 30th to help ease traffic problems in some of the city’s more popular trick or treating areas.

SPOOKY FRIDAY – Decatur Public Library’s Spooky Friday Fun is 10:30 a.m. Oct. 31. Librarians will build reading readiness with stories, songs and puppet play. This special storytime event is for preschoolers and families with young children. Call 940-393-0290.

FALL FUN – The Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation, 201 East Thompson, in Decatur is having a fall festival 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. There will be indoor trick-or-treating, a bounce house, hot dogs, booths, popcorn and a cake walk. Call 940-627-2165.


HALLOWEEN FUN – The city of Rhome is hosting Halloween in Family Park 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. Residents are invited to wear costumes and bring candy, along with table and chairs. Call Jo Ann Wilson, 817-638-2388.


FALL FESTIVAL – Slidell ISD’s annual fall festival is 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Junior/Senior High building. Doors open at 5 p.m., and ticket sales begin at 5:30 p.m. Drawings will be at 8:15 p.m.


TRUNK OR TREAT – A Trunk or Treat Festival is 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at the Sunset Fire Hall. The event is hosted by the Sunset Volunteer Fire Department, the Community Park Board and several local churches. There will be games, candy and a hay ride. The hay ride will tour the developing community park where treats will be handed out in the haunted goblin park. The Park Board will also have concessions at the fire hall.

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Alves wins PBR world title

Alves wins PBR world title

Silvano Alves of Decatur made bull riding history, winning his third PBR world title Sunday in Las Vegas.

The 26-year-old went 6-for-6 at the Built Ford Tough World Finals for the first time in his career, securing the event average on top of the title – 2014 PBR World Champion.


CHAMPION – Silvano Alves of Decatur holds the cup over his head after winning his third PBR world title Sunday in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy Andy Watson/

He’s only the second rider to ever win three titles, joining Adriano Moraes, and he’s one of only four to win the world title and the event average in the same year.

Alves, a native of Pilar do Sul, Brazil, was presented a key to the city at the Decatur Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday. He greeted the crowd with a quiet, humble smile and thanked them for their support.

“I’m very happy about the three titles,” he said. “I love it here. It’s my home like in Brazil. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Alves lives in Decatur with his wife, Evelin, and their children, Hanyelle and Eduardo.

Although he’s only been competing in the Built Ford Tough Series for five years, he’s reached legendary status with earnings over $5 million. He was the fastest to hit the $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, $4 million and $5 million marks in the history of PBR.

To top it off, Sunday afternoon he rode Asteroid, breaking the 2012 World Champion Bull’s streak of 30 consecutive buckoffs, for 87.25 points – capping off a near-perfect performance in Las Vegas.

The exuberant Alves celebrated with friends and was dogpiled in the arena, but Tuesday he said the accolades and success are more than he ever expected.

Although he trains hard, he said his focus is to simply ride bulls. It’s an attitude that has paid off.

Decatur Proud

DECATUR PROUD – Silvano Alves holds a key to the city of Decatur that was presented to him at Tuesday’s Chamber luncheon. Decatur Mayor Martin Woodruff (left) and Decatur Chamber President Brennan Williams congratulate the three-time champion. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Alves has said the 2014 season was his most difficult. He started the year nursing a separated shoulder and was in a bit of a slump before coming back and entering the finals as the No. 3 rider, trailing leader Joao Ricardo Vieira by 511 points. It was the farthest back he had ever started a finals – but he eventually passed Vieira, who finished in second place, and ended the year in front by 1,938.06 points.

Alves led the BFTS this season with 50 rides and a riding average of 54.35 percent. He placed in the top five seven times and posted 12 top-10 finishes.

Now, it’s time to rest and relax, his wife said Tuesday.

Alves said it’s hard to put his feelings into words, but he’s simply happy.

“Just to be one of the two to win three titles,” he said, “that is very exciting.”

The only other Wise County riders to finish in the top 10 were Fabiano Vieira in fifth and Mike Lee in seventh.

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Grand jury indicts 29

A Wise County grand jury met Oct. 16 and returned the following felony indictments:

Darren Alan Berkley, possession of a controlled substance – methylone, 4-400 grams

Latasha Deann Berrier, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Leanne Bradley, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 4-200 grams

Jennifer Lyn Carroll, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 4-200 grams

Denise Anne Handy, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 4-200 grams

Martin Gutierrez Hernandez, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Bobbi Jo Hill, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 4-200 grams

Laura Ann Hollis, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Ronald Lynn Marlett, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon

Tyler William Mitchum, possession of a controlled substance – cocaine, 4-200 grams

Gilbert Ray Morales, possession of a controlled substance – cocaine, 4-200 grams

David Klatt Smith, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, 4-200 grams

Megan Joe Houston, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (one count); injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury (two counts); abandon endanger child by omission

Aurelo Tabuyo, possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, less than 1 gram

Leslie Dawn Johnson, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (one count); injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury (two counts); abandon endanger child

Edwian Eugene Baker, assault family/household member with previous conviction

Joshua Chase Draper, assault family/household member impede breath/circulation

Leslie Dawn Johnson, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (one count); injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury (two counts); abandon endanger child criminal negligence (two counts)

James Pier Kimbro, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

Chet Allen Benson, injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury (one count); attempt to commit abandon endanger child criminal negligence (two counts) and injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury (one count); abandon endanger child criminal negligence (two counts)

Sergio Raul Morado-Romo, assault family/household member impede breath/circulation

Jeff William Walker, injury to a child reckless bodily injury

Daniel Ches Fuller, burglary of a building (one count); credit card or debit card abuse (four counts)

Brian Jadin Crowley, burglary of a building (one count); credit card or debit card abuse (four counts) and theft of property $1,500-$20,000

Daniel Ches Fuller, theft of property $1,500-$20,000

Kyle Edwin Honeycutt, unauthorized use of a vehicle

Lakisha Nicole Roberts, fraudulent use/possession of identifying information number of items less than five

Adam Mathew Morgan, theft of property $20,000-$100,000

Richard Kent Brock, theft of property $20,000-$100,000

Latasha Deann Berrier, theft of property $20,000-$100,000

Kevin Roger Musick, forgery financial instrument

Billy London Hughes, forgery financial instrument

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Wise Regional takes over nursing operations

The directors of Wise Regional Health System voted Monday night to affiliate with seven nursing facilities in the area – at their request.

Hospital CEO Steve Summers said the move was requested by those facilities to allow them to qualify for a higher reimbursement rate, under new laws that make more funds available to facilities that are affiliated with a public entity.

The Decatur-based health care system will take ownership of three facilities owned by Sava Senior Care, three owned by Kindred Health Care and one, DFW Rehab, that is owned by Ken Broussard. All are within about an hour of Decatur, mostly in the Fort Worth area.

“We’ve been approached by these entities to be involved with them, to help them secure additional funding,” Summers told the board. “We’ve visited with them, vetted all that, looked at it, and we felt like it’s a reasonable approach to consider being involved with these facilities.”

Wise Regional’s Donna Stowers will oversee them and report back to the board.

“They all have quality standards in place,” she told the board. “It’s in their best interest to have the best quality they can.”

WRHS attorney Jason Wren said the Hospital Authority would actually become the owner of the skilled nursing operations.

“We’ll lease the facilities, then enter into a management agreement with the folks who are operating them now,” he said.

The board approved unanimously.


The board also approved another affiliation – this one with Somnus Healthcare sleep lab.

“We’ve been in discussions for a while now,” Summers told the board. “This is an organization that’s located in Decatur.

“We have an existing lab service, and we thought we would fold in those labs together and offer one service, on the West Campus,” he added. “This way we can offer more services in one setting instead of them being split between the two different organizations.”

Summers said the short-term contract, which calls for a flat payment every month, had been looked at and vetted by the hospital’s legal staff. The sleep lab will continue to be located on the West Campus.

It was approved unanimously.


The board also:

  • approved the purchase of a portable EEG unit for $75,419, making that service available in-house 24 hours a day rather than having to contract with a mobile service and schedule those procedures during the hours it is on campus;
  • approved the revised succession planning and development policy;
  • approved five new appointments to the medical staff;
  • approved 17 bi-annual reviews; and
  • approved three first-year reviews.

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