Former judge indicted for child sex assault

Former Wise County Justice of the Peace C.D. Archer has been indicted for aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact.

C.D. Archer

A Wise County grand jury returned the indictments last Thursday, and Archer, 54, was arrested Monday morning. He posted $125,000 bond and was released from the Wise County Jail.

The indictments allege the sexual contact occurred with two different victims, one under the age of 17 and another under the age of 14. The Messenger does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault.

The aggravated sexual assault of a child charge, a first-degree felony offense, contains 16 counts with the same female victim. According to the indictments, the sexual acts began around June 1, 1994, and continued until December 2002. The victim in that case was under 14 during every assault.

The indecency charge, a second-degree felony, contains one count with a male victim under age 17. The indictment states that the victim was fondled by Archer around July 26, 2001.

Assistant District Attorney Lindy Borchardt, who is handling the case for the state, said she could not discuss specifics of the case. She said the reason the case was moving forward now, years after the alleged assaults, is due to a delayed outcry by a victim.

Archer’s attorney, Marilyn Belew of Decatur, said it would not be proper to comment on pending cases.

“I do look forward to vindicating my client,” she said.

According to Archer’s bond conditions on file in 271st District Court, he must report to the adult probation department, possess no weapons, not leave the area and have no contact with the victim or with any child under age 17.

Archer was elected Precinct 4 justice of the peace as a Republican in November of 2002, defeating then-Democratic incumbent Clay Poynor. Poynor ran as a Republican four years later and defeated Archer and two other challengers in the primary election.

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Man charged with murder

A Boonsville man has been charged with the April murder of his girlfriend at their home.

Kris Edward Rau

Kris Edward Rau, 51, was indicted last week by a Wise County grand jury for murder and tampering with evidence by concealing a human corpse.

The odd case began in mid-April when the Wise County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Rau, in Florida, stating that his girlfriend had killed herself at their home in the 1100 block of County Road 3838 on April 14.

“(Rau) claimed they were having issues,” Sheriff David Walker said. “He said he went into town, and when he came back, he found her deceased.”

His girlfriend, Lianne Allyson Murray, had been shot in the head.

Rau told investigators he panicked and fled back to Florida, where both he and Murray were from. It was there, in Lee County, that a family member convinced Rau to call authorities.

Local investigators went to Florida to interview Rau about his girlfriend’s death. Rau told them he had moved Murray’s body from the front yard to a barn on the property. He then hosed down the area where she was killed.

Walker said Rau was cooperative with investigators regarding the details of moving Murray’s body, and he was originally charged May 4 with tampering/fabricating physical evidence with intent to conceal a human corpse.

But, Walker said, as the evidence was examined, it appeared unlikely that the wound was self-inflicted. After more evidence was collected, Rau was charged with murder June 10. He remains in the Wise County Jail with a total bond of $1.5 million.

Walker added that the investigation is ongoing, and investigators are awaiting more evidence to be returned from the crime lab.

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Booming family business

Booming family business

The windows have opened up at fireworks stands around Wise County. This evening begins their period of highest traffic, which will extend until they close the night of July Fourth, after almost everyone has had their fill of explosions.

John Monk, who operates Ron’s Fireworks on U.S. 81/287 north of Decatur, said he and his employees are ready for business to pick up.

Eye on Explosives

EYE ON THE EXPLOSIVES – Isaac Monk mans his stand midday Monday. The largest packages are multi-shot features called “cakes.” Five hundred grams of composition is the legal limit for fireworks available to consumers. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We’ll have about eight or 10 people in here, and none of us are going to be able to take a break,” Monk said. “But we know what to expect. We’ve been doing this for a while.”

Several of Monk’s employees are members of his family. While they sleep at home each night, Monk lives in a nearby camper trailer during fireworks season.

“As long as there’s fireworks in the stand, I’ve got to stay,” Monk said.

His son, Isaac, works at another Ron’s stand down the road, just off of 287 south of Decatur.

“My parents got into it, and I just kind of fell into it as well,” Isaac said.

Growing up in a family of fireworks vendors, Isaac said his Independence Day experience differs from that of most children.

He rarely set off his own fireworks.

“We never had an opportunity. We would always celebrate the Fourth on the fifth,” he said.

Managing a fireworks stand took its toll on his parents.

“Things won’t actually settle down until about the eighth,” Isaac said. “We still have to deal with all of this stuff and put it somewhere. By that time, they would be so exhausted that we just didn’t.”

Availability wasn’t the issue. Motivation was.

“Of course, we could get fireworks,” he said, “but by the time we got around to popping them, it was like ‘What’s the point?’”

Isaac said missing out on these childhood experiences is acceptable, for a price.

“For two weeks of your time, you’re looking at at least two grand,” he said.

Prices have increased since he started selling fireworks seven years ago.

“I remember when a lot of this stuff was less expensive.”

He holds up a brightly colored box.

“It’s the best artillery shell you can get,” he said. “I remember when this was $160. Now it’s $190.”

This time of year, however, tradition dictates and the pocketbook listens, Monk said.

“People are still gonna spend money on fireworks,” Isaac said. “One guy bought more than $600 because he couldn’t pop fireworks in California, and he was glad to be back in Texas.”

Recent wet weather has ensured ideal conditions for fireworks on the Fourth – and once again, the Monk family will likely be too busy to shoot off their own.

John Monk said he hopes that’s true.

“I’ve already had customers come in and say they don’t normally buy, but they are because of the rain,” he said.

Isaac Monk is optimistic.

“This year’s good,” he said. “It’s rained and rained, and there’s no burn ban, so it’ll be good.”

As long as it doesn’t strike on the night of the Fourth, each raindrop is invaluable to the Monk family.

“It’s dollar bill signs,” he said grinning.

CELEBRATE SAFELY

The cities of Alvord, Aurora, Bridgeport, Boyd, Chico, Decatur, Newark, Paradise, Rhome and Runaway Bay have ordinances prohibiting fireworks within their city limits.

If celebrating with fireworks is legal in your area, and you decide to use them, please follow these safety tips:

Before you shoot:

  • DO NOT let children use fireworks without adult supervision
  • Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers
  • Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
  • Use fireworks outdoors: find a smooth, flat surface – in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings
  • Refrain from use in high wind conditions
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter”
  • Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers
  • Before you enjoy fireworks, get permission from the property owner
  • Keep something nearby to extinguish a fire – a bucket of water, wet towels, or a garden hose
  • When you’re ready to shoot:

    • Always read and follow label directions, warnings, and instructions
    • Be considerate of your neighbors
    • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks
    • Light only one firework at a time
    • Never relight a “dud” – wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water
    • Never give fireworks to small children, even sparklers can cause serious burns
    • Never throw fireworks at another person, vehicle, or animal
    • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
    • Dispose of spent fireworks properly

    Tips courtesy of the Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office. 940-627-5870. firemarshal@co.wise.tx.us

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District Clerk Records Filed June 2014

ACCOUNTS, CONTRACTS, NOTES

Susan Fletcher vs. William R. Benedick, et al

Nocona Finer Foods Inc. and Gainesville Marketplace Inc. vs. The Grocers Supply Co. Inc.

Discover Bank vs. Letha Martin

National Collegiate Student Loan Trust 2006-3, a Delaware Statutory Trust vs. Jerry White

Alamo Title Insurance Co. vs. Rick D. Dupree

INJURY OR DAMAGE/MOTOR VEHICLE

Clayborn Walter Norman vs. Carolyn Hoover

Caleb L. Mooneyham and Meagan Mooneyham, invididually and ANF of Emily Grace Mooneyham and Madison Lynn Mooneyham, minors vs. Government Employees Insurance Co.

Leslie Johnson vs. Paulette Jensen, et al

Timothy Scott Angel vs. Maria D. Alonso

Tomas Guzman Ceja vs. John Cameron Potts

Shellie Lavender vs. Donald Morgan and Kenneth Zachary Transportation

James “Jim” Edwin Warren vs. Jeffrey Shayne Calhoun, et al

INJURY OR DAMAGE/OTHER

Ruby Rogers vs. Walmart Stores Inc.

Krissie Gordon vs. Walter Saunders

Michael Young vs. DFW Truck and Trailer Repair Inc., et al

Jaime Chacon vs. Joe Applewhite and Patricia Applewhite

FORECLOSURES

Order for foreclosure concerning Carolyn Chittendon, 427 W. Hobbs in Boyd

TAX CASES

Northwest ISD vs. Rickey L. Youngblood

Wise County vs. Paula McCleskey

Northwest ISD and Wise County vs. Jennifer Jones Frazier

Northwest ISD vs. Robert W. Darter and Kathy Darter

Bridgeport ISD, Wise County, City of Bridgeport vs. Betty Sue Fitzgerald

Boyd ISD, Wise County, Wise County Emergency District No. 1 vs. Elbert Roger, Elizabeth Roger

Northwest ISD and Wise County vs. Dennis Renfro and Jennifer Atkins

Alvord ISD and Wise County vs. David Manning and Callie Manning

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Parrish Field Servicers LLC

Alvord ISD and Wise County vs. Archie Smith

Slidell ISD and Wise County vs. Norma Smith

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Bill Bridgeman, et all

Decatur ISD, et al vs. James E. Bedgood and Peggy Bedgood

Decatur ISD and Wise County vs. Mattie D. Chambers

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Melton Davidson

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Jerry West

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Linda Elsmere

Alvord ISD, et al vs. Wayne Huggins, et al

Decatur ISD, et al vs. Jerrod Allen Niblett

Boyd ISD, et al vs. Shane Skidmore

Boyd ISD, et al vs. Pressure Pump Service LLC

Jacksboro ISD vs. Kenneth E. Roberts

Boyd ISD, et al vs. Jolly Building LLC

Poolville ISD, et al vs. Erik Dally, et al

DIVORCES FILED

Tonya Sue Powell and Jonathan David Powell

Elaine Renfroe and Dana Norman Renfroe

Idalia Montejano and Jorge L. Montejano

Lanny Nadine Maeyers and Daniel Barker Maeyers

Rodney Cole Lisby and Samantha Rey Lisby

Lesa G. Skiles and Carol G. Skiles

Bobby Ray Headley and Georgia Anne Headley

Deborah Bearden and Nicholas Adam Hajek

James Martin Ogle and Cynthia Wy-Dawn Ogle

David George Eaton and Donna Atkins Eaton

Melinda Gayle Hyde and Richard Edgar Hyde

Jennifer Renee Langley and Timothy Jaymes Langley

Donald Gene Wilson and Rosemary Delaine Wilson

Christopher John Marks and Yvonne Mae Marks

Alicia Danielle Anderson and Jason Ray Anderson

Jeffrey Michael Hanna and Emily Katherine Hanna

Marisa Kay Way and William Del Way

Kayla Elizabeth Richerson and Ronald Barry Richerson Jr.

Jennifer Ann Tackett and Christopher Alan Tackett

Julita Cruz and Pablo Luevano

Heather Jaclene Mann and Eric Lee Mann

Steven Lee Midell and Arquanilla D. Midell

Amanda Denise Triplett and Andrew Karl Triplett

Jeanette Kay Klement and Donald Ryan Colden

Shawn Michael Borg and Veronica Michelle Borg

Lacey L. Reeves and Eric L. Reeves

Cathalene Rochelle Birchfield and Ricky Lane Birchfield

Teresa Kay Kling and Dustin Joe Kling

Morgan Denise Wise and Joylyn Eusiva Sifuentez

Bambi Shree Starnes and Bobby Ray Starnes

Debbie L. Burman and John F. Burman

Dawn Kathleen Soky and John Arthur Soky

Brooke Danae Wood and James Kade Crittenden

Santana Dncole Creech and Warren Dean Creech

Kimberley Von Nichols and Timothy Jon Nichols

Kimberly Gayle Arnold and David Eugene Arnold

Ronald Dale Gillespie Jr. and Lauren Jene Patrick Gillespie

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Truck traffic restricted on CR 2474

Wise County commissioners decided Monday to restrict truck traffic on County Road 2474 in Precinct 2.

The action comes after a public hearing on the issue prior to its regular meeting June 16. Mike Pirtle was the only resident who attended the public forum, and he spoke in favor of closing the road to trucks. He described the road, saying it’s only 16 feet across at the widest point, and one quarter-mile section is only 10 feet wide.

Pirtle said at the hearing that the road has seen an increase in recreational use in recent years as an entrance to the LBJ National Grasslands, but his main concern was the possibility of increased oil and gas truck traffic.

There was no further discussion at Monday’s meeting, but commissioners unanimously approved the traffic restriction.

Laura Spain, with the Wise County Veterans Service Office, reported to commissioners on the activities of her office. She said from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013, the office “has made $10,219,000 for this county.”

“I broke it down even more because it sounds even more impressive when you say $851,000 per month and $27,979 per day,” she said. “That’s what the veterans service brings into this county. That’s government money … that money is for immediate circulation. That money is for compensation and pension, healthcare, dependent benefits, funeral benefits … and all that money comes into the county thanks to my office.

“Obviously, it’s not just my office, but we’re really, really proud of what we’ve been able to do,” she said.

Spain said there are 40 years of experience between the office’s four employees. She was named state service officer of the year in 2013, and Patsy Harris was given a certificate of honor from the state for her work.

Regina Alexander was presented a certificate of appreciation for 15 years of service, and Terri Meeks also received a certificate of appreciation.

In other business, commissioners:

  • presented the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission to the Wise County Historical Commission; and
  • accepted the fiscal year 2013 annual outside audit report for the Wise County Emergency Service District No. 1.

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Gusher of information greets committee

The Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination drank from a firehose of information Monday at its third and final hearing, held in Wichita Falls – the hometown of its chairman, Sen. Craig Estes.

If only water were so abundant.

Wichita Falls made national headlines after seeking permission to re-direct its treated wastewater back into the water supply. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on Friday granted the city a six-month permit to do exactly that.

Water World

WATER WORLD — State Sen. Craig Estes listens to testimony during Monday’s committee hearing in Wichita Falls. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

Within a couple of weeks, 5 million gallons of treated wastewater will flow directly back into the city’s water treatment plant every day – about 30 percent of the water supply for this city of 105,000.

Wichita Falls typifies the drought facing much of Texas – and it’s not that far up the road.

Lake Bridgeport, which supplies water to most Wise County residents, sits at 41.4 percent of capacity. The two lakes that supply water to Wichita Falls, Lake Arrowhead and Lake Kickapoo, are at 22.7 percent capacity and have been steadily declining since 2010.

The city’s mayor, Glenn Barham, told the panel Monday that without re-directing wastewater, the city would run out of water in about two years if the drought continues.

Wichita Falls has had strict water restrictions in place for nearly three years, cutting water use roughly in half – from 15 to 17 billion gallons a year to 8 billion gallons last year. They’re on pace to use only 5 billion gallons in 2014.

“This community has stepped up to the plate,” Barham said. “Without our folks taking this water issue seriously, we’d have been in a lot worse trouble.”

He said the object of the committee’s study – desalinating “brackish” groundwater to make it usable – holds a great deal of promise both for his city and the state as a whole.

“Desalination, in my viewpoint, is critical for the state of Texas,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to have to be done on a very, very large scale in order to satisfy water demands for communities into the future.”

He said the cost of desalinating groundwater seems less when compared to the expense and time involved in building reservoirs – which might not fill up.

Compared to the cost of running out of water, it’s nothing.

“This is no longer a local issue,” Barham said. “I’m excited to see the state of Texas stepping up to the plate and taking care of water issues that are soon to come, not only to us, but eventually to water-rich areas of the state as well.”

DISTINGUISHED LINEUP

The committee, which held its first meeting in Austin and met last week in Corpus Christi, is co-chaired by Estes and Rep. Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi, with four senators and six House members on the panel. Wise County’s representative, Phil King, is on the committee but was among three members who could not make the Wichita Falls meeting.

Among those testifying at Wichita Falls’ Kemp Center for the Arts were:

  • Texas A&M professor John Nielsen-Gammon, Ph.D., Texas State Climatologist;
  • Texas A&M – Kingsville professor Lucy Mar Camacho, Ph.D.;
  • Dan Hunter, executive director of the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research at Tarleton State University;
  • Dan Buhman, assistant general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District;
  • Clayton Henry, vice-chairman of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and a member of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee;
  • Brian Sledge, co-chairman of the committee and a principal at Sledge Fancher;
  • Kyle Frazier, executive director of the Texas Desalination Association;
  • Darrell Peckham, hydrologist with Water Quest Inc.;
  • Bill Norris, engineer with Norris Leal;
  • Carlos Rubenstein, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board;
  • Dr. Robert Mace, the board’s deputy executive administrator for science and conservation;
  • Linda Brookins, director of the water supply division for TCEQ;
  • Laszlo Karalyos, chairman of GAIA Clearwater Inc., a company that creates constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment.

Neilsen-Gammons, the official State Climatologist, opened with a summation of Texas’ current weather pattern.

“In the six-and-a-half years from] Oct. 1950 through April 1957, Wichita Falls received 74 percent of normal rainfall,” he said. “From Oct. 2010 to the present, a bit less than four years, Wichita Falls has received less than 60 percent of normal rainfall.

“As I see it, for Wichita Falls this is the worst drought on record.”

He did, however, hold out a little hope for relief, based on the development of “El Ni o” conditions in the tropical Pacific.

“If that comes through, that would tend to increase the chances for a wet winter across Texas,” he said. “It wouldn’t be a sure thing, but at least the odds would be in our favor.”

Camacho spoke of new technologies that could combine desalination plants with energy production, increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of both.

“There is no way to produce energy without water,” she said, “and there is no way to treat water without energy. There needs to be a collaboration.”

Tarleton’s Hunter said the goal of his institute is “solve problems through good science” and spoke of the need for a unified data base for all the information coming out about Texas’ brackish water.

Buhman, whose entity controls Lake Bridgeport’s water, reviewed TRWD’s efforts in the areas of conservation, re-use and reservoirs.

He noted the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had just issued a $150,000 grant to TRWD and the City of Wichita Falls to study the feasibility of augmenting their water supply systems with “impaired” groundwater.

In response to a question from Sen. Eddie Lucio, Buhman said cost is a factor in desalination.

“We have to balance the cost of new water supplies versus the reliability or how it changes our system,” he said. “As that cost comes down, it absolutely drives us to look at it more seriously.”

“OUT OF THE BOX”

Other speakers touched on the availability of brackish water, the impact of desalination plants on cattle raisers, and the process of applying for permits to put in a desalination plant.

Rubenstein said there are 26 different permitting actions required to bring a desalination plant online.

Frazier said cost depends on where the brackish water comes from, what type of process is used, and where the water goes once it is made drinkable.

Norris, who serves on the association’s board, said the process is not as expensive as many people think.

“Brackish water desalination is generally no more expensive than doing some other method of treating surface water,” he said. “Cost is a site-specific issue.”

He noted that in Brownsville, a desalination plant treating brackish groundwater is actually less costly to operate than the city’s regular surface water treatment plants.

Mace estimated there are about 2.7 billion acre/feet of brackish groundwater resources underneath Texas.

Karalyos said the wetlands process his company uses – involving layers of specific types of rocks as well as plants that absorb particulate matter – is capable of converting not only effluent, but brackish water and even oilfield frack flowback into water that can be discharged into surface storage.

Co-chairman Hunter summed it up near the end of the hearing.

“I want you to know I’m for it,” he said. “I thought it very enlightening what’s been said about the cost of desalination – but don’t think we’re not pushing it. If the climatologists are correct, water is better than no water.”

He referenced the continued growth of Texas and the fact that some industries are now putting in their own desalination plants, just to assure a reliable supply of water.

He issued a challenge to all those at the hearing.

“My charge to you is to think of the future of Texas,” he said. “Water is disappearing. We’ve got to look at alternatives and think outside the box.”

The committee will meet two more times, in Brownsville July 28 and in El Paso Aug. 11. Both meetings will be visits to operating desalination plants that are already supplying water to those cities.

It will be a glimpse into the future – a future that may be a lot closer than Texans think.

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Storm brings rain, trouble

Storm brings rain, trouble

Wise County avoided the flooding issues some of our neighbors in the Metroplex experienced Tuesday – but wind, rain and lightning from the storm still managed to cause problems locally.

A rain-slick road is believed to be a factor in a head-on wreck around 6 p.m. on Texas 199, about a mile east of Farm Road 920 in far southwest Wise County. Department of Public Safety Trooper Patrick Alonzo said a passenger car driven by Shannon Nicole Edgar, 21, of Midland was eastbound on Texas 199 when she lost control and went into the opposite lane of traffic where she struck a westbound pickup truck driven by Gildardo Torres, 43, of Jacksboro.

The collision caused both vehicles to roll.

Torres was able to exit his vehicle, which was briefly on fire after it landed on its side. Fire departments from Boonsville and Salt Creek responded to help extricate Edgar and a passenger, Anthony Vance, 21, of Carrollton.

Torres was taken to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur, Edgar was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and Vance was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. Alonzo said Vance was critically injured while the two drivers had non-life-threatening injuries.

Critical Injuries

CRITICAL INJURIES – Anthony Vance is rolled to a waiting ambulance at the scene of Tuesday’s crash. Vance, 21, was critically injured. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Vance was still listed in critical condition late Friday afternoon, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Heavy rain was rolling through the area around the time of the crash.

Wise County EMS and an ambulance out of Springtown also responded along with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

Lightning from the same storm system also struck the wind turbine on top of a house at 512 County Road 4756 near Boyd, starting a fire that caused heavy damage to the attic. The homeowners, Robert and Pamela Demases, were not injured.

Messy Work

MESSY WORK – A Boyd firefighter walks down a driveway during the heavy rain Tuesday afternoon, responding to a house fire caused by a lightning strike. No one in the home was injured. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard said the homeowners reported hearing what sounded like a bomb going off when the lightning struck around 5:15 p.m.

Boyd, Newark and Rhome fire departments responded along with Wise County EMS.

Gusts of wind also caused issues across the county. Fire departments in Paradise and Decatur responded to reports of down or sagging power lines.

A home in the 400 block of Country Living Drive in Newark sustained minor damage when the skirting blew off a trailer home next door and struck the roof, according to Wise County Deputy Fire Marshal J.C. Travis. No one was at either home when it happened. Travis said straight-line winds were apparently to blame. The Newark Volunteer Fire Department responded and was able to make temporary repairs on the roof.

Rainfall totals from the storm included 1.8 inches in Aurora, 1.68 in Rhome, 0.9 in Alvord, 0.7 in Cottondale, 0.5 in Paradise and 0.22 in Bridgeport.

Although runoff into Lake Bridgeport was not huge, the lake did rise nearly 5 inches over the past week, gaining nearly 3,000 acre-feet of water. Eagle Mountain Lake, which saw more runoff from heavy downpours and is considerably smaller, climbed about 8 inches.

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Store burglarized Friday

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a burglary at a rural business early Friday.

Sheriff David Walker said burglars broke through the doors of the Oliver Creek Store around 3 a.m. and stole money and cigarettes. Witnesses saw someone running from the store, but they were too far away to offer a description.

The store is on Farm Road 2264 southeast of Decatur.

Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s office at 940-627-5971.

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Messenger earns 14th TPA Sweepstakes

The Wise County Messenger earned its 14th Sweepstakes award last weekend as the best large semiweekly newspaper in Texas.

It was the 12th time in the last 13 years the Messenger has taken the top honor in the category.

High Honors

HIGH HONORS – The Messenger’s March 23 front page helped the newspaper win first place in the Texas Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest.

The contest is sponsored by the Texas Press Association. Awards were presented at the group’s 135th annual summer convention in Corpus Christi.

The Messenger earned first-place plaques in feature writing, news writing, sports coverage, sports photos, routine special section and general excellence.

Second-place awards came in advertising, one-time or “blue moon” special sections, and page design, and third-place awards in column writing, feature photos and best web site. The newspaper took fourths in headline writing and news photos.

There were 134 newspapers entered in the contest, with winners named in 10 divisions based on frequency and circulation. The Messenger competed with the the Marble Falls Highlander, the Uvalde Leader-News, the Boerne Star, the Hood County News and the Fayette County Record in most categories.

This year’s judges, members of the New Mexico Press Association, viewed entries online.

Of the Messenger’s general excellence entries, the judge said, “Overall, a great product.”

In feature writing, the judge commented on “Ashlie lives on” – reporter Erika Pedroza’s story about a kidney transplant recipient – and “Preserving history” by editor Kristen Tribe, which told of cabin restorer Bill Marquis’ work in Wise County.

“Both of these stories hit the right notes at the right times,” the judge said. “‘Where is your Ashlie?’ – that just about killed me. Good choice to lead with that and a great story about the importance of organ donation. It made it personal, which is the best way to get people to act. The second story was excellent as well. A great character piece, great lead.”

The news writing award went for stories written by former Messenger reporter Brandon Evans on the trial of Danny Nalley in a wreck that killed four of his friends, and the chase and shootout in Decatur that ended the life of murder suspect Evan Ebel of Colorado.

The special section honored was the 2013 “Welcome to Wise” visitor’s guide, edited by special projects manager Brian Knox, and in sports coverage and sports photos it was the work of former sports editor Clay Corbett and photographer Joe Duty that judges cited.

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Restricted truck traffic on agenda

Wise County commissioners will decide Monday at their regular meeting whether or not to restrict truck traffic on County Road 2474.

The county held a public hearing on the issue prior to its regular meeting June 16 but could not take action on it because it was not on that day’s agenda.

Mike Pirtle was the only resident who attended the public forum, and he spoke in favor of closing the road to trucks.

He described the Precinct 2 road, saying it’s only 16 feet across at the widest point, and one quarter-mile section is only 10 feet wide.

“I’ve been there since 1988, and the last few years we’ve seen a tremendous influx of recreational use,” he said. “It’s the third entrance to the LBJ National Grasslands, and our little road was never supposed to handle that kind of traffic.”

In other business, commissioners will discuss and consider Wise Soil and Water Conservation District projects on the conditions and known rehabilitation needs of dams – including the Salt Creek and laterals watershed and Big Sandy Creek watershed.

They will also discuss the fiscal year 2013 annual outside audit report for Wise County Emergency Service District No. 1 and will present the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission to the Wise County Historical Commission.

The award recognizes the county commission’s outstanding preservation work accomplished in 2013.

Also on the agenda are county committee reports, consideration of bids, donations and joint venture project agreements with other local governmental entities.

Monday’s meeting is 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur. It’s open to the public.

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Land commissioner candidate stumps here

John Cook knows he has a tough task ahead of him.

He’s a Democrat, running for office in Texas, where a Democrat hasn’t won a statewide election in 20 years.

He’s running for one of those down-ballot offices – Texas land commissioner – that doesn’t get the kind of attention showered on the high-profile races like governor and lieutenant governor.

And to top it off, his opponent’s name is Bush.

F 150 Tour Comes to Texas

F-150 TOUR COMES TO WISE COUNTY – John Cook, former El Paso mayor who is running for Texas land commissioner, stopped in Decatur Wednesday on his way to the Texas Democratic Party’s state convention in Dallas. Messenger photo by Bob Buckel

The Republican nominee for land commissioner is George P. Bush – nephew, grandson and namesake of two U.S. presidents.

But Cook is convinced he’s the best man for the job, and his resum is impressive.

A native of Brooklyn, he came to Texas in 1967 courtesy of the U.S. Army. He’s a Vietnam combat veteran and a seasoned businessman who retired after 25 years of setting up facilities and networks for the company that became Southwestern Bell.

He ran for and won a seat on the El Paso City Council, then ran for mayor and won, leading Texas’ sixth-largest city for eight years.

He was president of the Rio Grande Council of Governments and the Texas Municipal League, and he co-founded and serves as volunteer executive director of the 37-member U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association, advising the administration on border issues.

His record of political involvement goes back to 1963, when as a high school senior he joined the march on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He has volunteered with nonprofits, taught public school and helped launch a successful eggroll company.

He was mayor of El Paso when the city got into a battle with the Texas General Land Office over a mining operation the state had issued a permit for – next door to a state park and a 2,000-acre master-planned community.

After he testified against the permit before a Senate committee, Cook said Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told him, “If you don’t like it, run for Texas land commissioner.”

So he did.

Patterson ran for lieutenant governor and did not make the runoff in a five-person race, leaving the slot wide open.

Nevertheless Cook, who stopped by Decatur Wednesday evening on his “F-150 Tour” of Texas, knows he is facing an uphill battle.

“My opponent has very little business experience and very little political experience, other than he comes from a political family,” Cook said. “He’s never worked in a large organization in his life.”

Cook pointed out that when he was mayor, El Paso had 6,200 employees, including 2,200 police officers and 875 firefighters.

Noting that Bush bills himself as “pro-life, pro-gun and pro-energy independence,” Cook laughed.

“I have six children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, so I must be the procreation candidate,” he said.

“Honestly, I’d prefer we just stick to the issues about the land office, how you work in a big bureaucracy and get things done, and what the responsibilities of the office are.”

Cook’s campaign slogan is “Not just a name – real experience.”

“This is an extremely important office to the people of Texas,” he said. “It’s not a place for somebody to learn how to do stuff.”

Cook noted one of the primary jobs of the General Land Office is administering an array of veterans’ programs – including nursing homes, a land-purchase loan program and four state veterans’ cemeteries.

“My dad was a World War II veteran, and I have a son who just retired after 25 years in the Air Force,” he said. “We have a proud tradition in our family of military service, and I’m very passionate about how we treat our veterans and the veterans’ programs.”

The land commissioner’s job description also includes maximizing income from Texas’ public lands, funneling that money into the multi-billion-dollar Permanent School Fund for K-12 education and the Permanent University Fund for state-supported colleges.

“I’m also very passionate about funding public education so our kids can compete in a global environment,” he said. “Funding universities, funding public education is, absolutely, a good cause – and part of the fiduciary responsibility of the commissioner is to maximize the revenues on it.

“But he also has to do it in an environmentally conscious manner. I’m an environmentalist at heart.”

That leads into Cook’s third passion.

“I’m very passionate about our environment and the state of Texas we end up leaving to our children and grandchildren,” he said. “If I’m elected Texas land commissioner, I’m going to make sure we’re good stewards of the land and that we leave a clean Texas to our children and grandchildren.”

Cook notes that aside from himself and a former city staffer who volunteered, his campaign staff consists of his wife, a granddaughter who just graduated from Texas A&M and a grandson who just finished his freshman year in high school.

“One thing I’m not going to have people do is say the reason you didn’t win is that you didn’t work hard or you gave up,” he said. “I’m not going to give up. I will stand my ground. I’m never going to back down.”

In his 2005 run for mayor, he and his wife knocked on 7,132 doors. He’s approaching the Texas land commissioner race with the same plan – and has already put 10,500 miles on that truck, visiting more than 100 of Texas’ 254 counties.

“Anytime I can talk to five or six Democrats in a Republican county, I’ll go,” he said.

Republican counties are easy to find. Democratic voters? He’ll find out when we all do – on Nov. 4.

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Wise Regional to acquire nursing facilities

Wise Regional Health System will acquire and operate two nursing facilities in Fort Worth after action at a Monday meeting of the hospital’s board of directors.

Fort Worth Center for Rehab and Cityview Care Center are currently owned by Skilled Healthcare, Inc.

Wise Regional has been studying the proposal for several months. Their external accounting firm, BKD, LLP, provided a “due diligence” report on the facilities for the board to consider, and the hospital’s outside legal counsel, RCMH, Law PLLC was the primary negotiator in the sale.

The hospital will enter into a formal management relationship with Skilled Healthcare to continue providing all aspects of operational management at the two facilities.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Chief Financial Officer Jim Eaton told the board the hospital system overall had an increase in net assets of $329,000 for May, on gross patient charges and other revenues of $49.9 million.

Inpatient admissions were up 6 percent, while outpatient services decreased 2 percent from the prior month. The system’s new Parkway campus opened May 5.

The board made a special presentation to Sheila Boggs, RN for being voted “Best Nurse in Wise County” by readers of the Wise County Messenger and to honor her for 37 years of service to the hospital and community.

Hospital CEO Steve Summers provided an administrative report, outlining ongoing internal leadership training for Wise Regional’s managers and directors. Programs are presented throughout the year on topics including management strategies, retention and organizational development.

He also discussed the recent presentation made in Dallas on the 1115 Waiver program by Paul Aslin, Chief Operations Officer for Wise Clinical Care Associates.

Summers said through Aslin’s leadership, Wise Regional has been recognized as a leader in navigating the Delivery System Reimbursement Incentive Project (DSRIP) initiatives.

He noted the upcoming Texas Hospital Trustee educational meeting in July that will be held in Dallas for board members.

OTHER BUSINESS

Other matters coming before the board included:

  • Summers announced a contract had been finalized with a new OB/GYN physician. Cynthia Hartman, D.O., will join Russell Edwards, D.O. at Array Women’s Health in Decatur in September.
  • Summers congratulated Wise Regional’s Marketing & Communication department, which recently won two national design awards by APEX Awards for Publication Excellence for its community newsletter, “HealthScoop” and the hospital’s re-designed website at WiseRegional.com.
  • The president of the Bridgeport hospital auxiliary reported to the board on membership, hours of service and the presentation of five $1,000 scholarships to students who plan to pursue medical training.
  • The Decatur auxiliary reported they recently donated $61,100 to the hospital for the purchase of a new piece of lab equipment. Representatives also attended a state volunteer convention and placed second in the scrapbook and first in the tray favor competitions.
  • The board approved new appointments to the medical staff based on the recommendations of Wise Regional’s Medical Executive Committee and accepted the medical staff’s reappointments and first year reviews.

The next regular meeting is Monday, July 28 at 6 p.m. in the Administration Board Room at 609 Medical Center Drive.

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Autopsy reveals no alcohol in Johnson’s system

Results of the final autopsy report for former Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson confirm that she did not have alcohol in her system at the time of her fatal crash in April.

Terri Johnson

Terri Johnson

According to the autopsy report, obtained by the Messenger through an open records request from Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Mandy Hays, Johnson’s blood tested negative for the presence of alcohol or drugs. The autopsy was performed by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The report also noted that Johnson had a “history of diabetes mellitus.” The toxicology report did test various electrolyte levels, but nothing in the report could definitively point to a diabetes-related medical emergency as a cause of the wreck.

The official crash report obtained from the Texas Department of Transportation noted that Johnson’s driving on the wrong side of U.S. 81/287 was the contributing factor in the wreck, and it said illness and/or speed “may have contributed” to the incident.

The medical examiner concluded that Johnson died as a result of blunt force injuries, and the manner of death was accidental.

The accident happened April 26 just south of Decatur. Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper William Cooper said Johnson was driving her Volkswagen Passat at a high rate of speed southbound in the northbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 when she struck a northbound Chevy Trailblazer, killing three adults in that vehicle. The accident happened about a quarter-mile north of the crossover at County Road 4228 near National Ropers Supply (NRS) Trailers at 5:52 p.m.

Those killed in the Trailblazer included the driver, Juan Jose Rios, 31, of Quanah; and two passengers, Amy Dee Culwell, 35, of Chillicothe and Sherry Ann Rios, 50, of Quanah. Juan and Amy’s 4-year-old daughter, Taylee, was seriously injured and flown from the scene to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. She was treated and has been released from the hospital.

Multiple calls to 911 received in the seven minutes leading up to the crash indicate that Johnson was driving erratically as far north on U.S. 81/287 as the roadside park north of Decatur. Johnson crossed through the median between Karl Klement Ford and the intersection with U.S. 81/287 Business in south Decatur.

Hays also ordered autopsies for Juan and Sherry Rios and Culwell, but those reports are not yet available.

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JP 2 candidate named

The Wise County Republican Executive Committee Monday named Craig Johnson of Decatur as the candidate to be placed on November’s ballot for Precinct 2 justice of the peace.

Johnson, a retired police officer, is husband of the late Precinct 2 JP Terri Johnson. She was running unopposed this year for a third term but died in a car accident April 26 on U.S. 81/287 south of Decatur.

The executive committee, which is made up of the party’s precinct chairmen, was charged with naming someone to replace her on the ballot.

“It was done with a very heavy heart,” said Party Chair Allen Williamson. “Everyone was very somber about the task we were called to do, but Craig has already proven to be a great JP.”

Mr. Johnson is currently serving the remainder of his wife’s second term. He was appointed interim Precinct 2 justice of the peace last month by county commissioners.

Williamson said the executive search committee, headed by Chico Mayor J.D. Clark, sent questionnaires to people on the Republican Party email list and the staff at the Precinct 2 JP office, inquiring about qualities, skills and experiences they felt were important in a justice of the peace.

“I think at the end of the day, while there were other good candidates, Craig was the best,” Williamson said.

The search committee accepted applications through May 21, and Clark said nine people applied, all of which had “strong merits.”

“Wise County would have been well-served by any of them,” he said, “but his law enforcement background and criminal justice experience and community involvement caused him to rise to the top.

“It wasn’t an easy task, but we feel good about Craig doing it,” he said.

Mr. Johnson retired in 2013 from Grapevine Police Department and was working as a private investigator at the time of his wife’s death. He had been with Grapevine PD since 1994 and prior to that was an investigator with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson was out of town Friday and unavailable for comment.

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Education, not moderation: Assault on diabetes focuses on lifestyle

”Moderation in all things, and all things in moderation.”

That may be a good philosophy in some ways – but it is not Dr. Brad Faglie’s motto.

Dr. Faglie, a board-certified family physician, does not recommend moderation when it comes to attacking diabetes – a disease that is attacking Wise County residents in increasing numbers.

Teaming Up

TEAMING UP – Chris McKown (left) with Renew Home Health and Dr. Brad Faglie discuss a case earlier this week. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and the sixth-leading cause of death in Texas. It’s estimated that 10.6 percent of Wise County’s population has diabetes, and that number is projected to rise to 17.1 percent by 2020. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“It all boils down to diet,” he said Monday as he waited for the monthly diabetes support group members to arrive at the classroom on the second floor of Wise Regional Hospital. “When all else is said, it’s what we eat.”

What Americans eat is killing them. Dr. Faglie should know – he used to weigh 290 pounds.

He also used to have diabetes. He no longer has it, and today he approaches diabetic education with a zeal that borders on evangelistic.

“I run into a lot of misconceptions,” he said. “That unhealthy food is OK in moderation – they’ve been told that.

“That’s being overturned slowly. The research is out there, but the interpretation of the research is just now coming out into the mainstream. Unhealthy food is not healthy in any amount. It’s not OK.”

The support group, sponsored by Wise Regional, Renew Home Health and the Wise and Montague County Medical Society, has been meeting since January at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month – but it’s not the only way the local medical community is attacking diabetes.

Dick Gilley, R.N., a board-certified critical care nurse, works in the ICU at Wise Regional and Baylor. He’s also diabetic and a certified diabetes educator.

“I work with people individually and as a group,” he said. “I teach a group class on Thursday nights – I had eight people for the spring, and I’ve got 25 for the summer.”

The monthly support group is open to all, but a doctor’s referral is required to get into Gilley’s class.

“When we get our program certified, it will be billable to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance – and it bills at 100 percent because it’s preventive care,” he said. “Right now, we’re working with grant money, and it’s free.”

The program’s application for national certification went in the mail last Friday.

“To be where you can be certified in six months, I’m very proud of that,” Gilley said. “We started with nothing.”

Nothing but need, according to the statistics.

A GROWING MENACE

Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States and the sixth-leading cause of death in Texas. It’s estimated that 10.6 percent of Wise County’s population has diabetes, and that number is projected to rise to 17.1 percent by 2020.

“It is truly an epidemic of the worst proportion,” Dr. Faglie said, citing a sharp uptick in cases in just the six years he’s been practicing medicine. “I’ve actually seen the rise in diabetes and its associated symptoms – obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart disease – at younger ages.

“I have 13-year-olds who are getting diagnosed with type II or adult onset diabetes. It’s crazy,” he said.

Diabetes is a serious illness that can and does kill. It’s the primary cause of death for 71,382 Americans every year and contributes to the death of another 231,404.

“Diabetes affects every system,” Dr. Faglie said. “Chronically elevated blood sugar affects the small blood vessels in all systems, so diabetics typically experience chronic kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy, leg swelling and therefore ulcers and subsequently, amputations.

“Their vision goes because the blood vessels in the eye are affected,” he said. “Heart disease, the small blood vessels around the heart, and then, dementia. It’s a difficult illness to treat, and it’s become more and more serious.”

Many of the folks in the support group have just been diagnosed. Faglie’s goal is to get them to make immediate and drastic changes in their lifestyle.

He recommends a “paleo” diet that takes humans back about 10,000 years, before food began to be processed.

“What I tell people is, if you can’t pick it, peel it or kill it, it’s probably not healthy,” he said. “If it’s got any sort of processing that takes place in the preparation of that food – such as bread, the milling of grains – it’s not ideal.”

Processed and refined carbohydrates – not just sugar, but bread, rice, pasta, cookies, chips – are the big offenders.

“Essentially, that’s why people are diabetic,” he said.

“Honestly, the patients who are diebetic aren’t bad about eating cherry pie every day. They’ve largely cut out the obvious. It’s the things they’re told they can have in moderation, like bread, that are hard to cut from the diet.

“But that perpetuates it, keeps the diabetes going and even worsens it.”

EDUCATION, BLOOD TESTING THE KEYS

Community-wide education and regular blood testing are making a difference, Dr. Faglie said. He enjoys the classes, where there is a lot of question-and-answer time, because they allow him to teach when he’s not trying to also keep up with a schedule of patient appointments.

Chris McKown of Renew Home Health said some people come straight to the group within days or hours of their diagnosis.

“Most of the people, if they are coming under home health, they have us to teach them,” he said. “But somebody who’s not, the only real education they get is with their physician, in the office – so they run into a time constraint.

“With this program, they can come in, ask questions – it’s been really great. The first one we had was seven people, then 15, then 20, then 28. Every month, it’s grown.”

For most, the diabetes diagnosis comes as a result of a routine physical that involves a blood test. The key number is the hemoglobin A1c.

For people without diabetes, the normal range is between 4 and 5.6 percent. Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicate an increased risk of diabetes, and levels of 6.5 percent or higher indicate diabetes.

“A lot of people feel normal, but the blood work shows an elevated A1c,” Dr. Faglie said. “Some people come to me for neuropathy – that’s tingling in the legs – or a lot of times they have fatigue, they just don’t feel like they felt 10 years ago.

“And then a lot of times they have spouses who bring them in,” he said. “They see how they eat, and they just know something’s wrong.”

The ultimate goal is to prevent diabetes.

“We want to try to catch the younger crowd,” Dr. Faglie said. “Unfortunately, diabetes doesn’t just hit – it grows over the course of years and decades.

“It grows out of a lifestyle, and lifestyle modification is the only true treatment for diabetes.”

CLASS TIME

That’s why a class, a support group – education – is such a key element of the attack.

“A lot of people were coming to the diabetic education classes, and they expect to learn how to use their pump, how to use their insulin, how to take more medicine,” McKown said. “This is completely different. They come and start learning how to eat, how to do even better, and some of them do that very well.”

As Dr. Faglie starts Monday evening’s class, he asks the group, “What is diabetes?”

“Something you don’t want,” says one woman, drawing nervous laughter.

“The inability to make insulin,” says another, and the doctor says yes, but he still wants more.

“The inability to process sugar,” comes the answer.

“That’s right,” he says. “Adult-onset diabetes is the inability to process sugar – or more specifically, carbohydrates.”

And although carbohydrates are the fuel your body needs to produce energy, research is showing that processed, refined carbohydrates are the culprit in diabetes and possibly other diseases.

He draws a modified “food pyramid” on the whiteboard.

“This is what I recommend my patients eat: meat, veggies, beans, nuts, dairy – minus milk – then fruit,” he says. “The carbohydrates in these groups are not bad.”

He said that after years – decades – of processed carbohydrates, the body becomes less able to process that, and the result is chronically elevated blood sugar.

“Basically what happens is, your cells get inundated with too much blood sugar for too long,” he said. “They start pulling those sugar receptors out of the cell walls, and you become insulin-resistant. That’s hard.”

He recommends cutting those carbs out completely.

“If food is unhealthy, it’s unhealthy,” he says. “This food group is really not OK in moderation.”

And when you think about it, that sounds right.

Attacking a killer is no time for moderation.

For information about the Diabetes Support Group at Wise Regional Helath System, call Chris McKown of Renew Home Health at 940-395-7205.

DIABETES AT A GLANCE

  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • 79 million Americans have prediabetes
  • 1.9 Million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes annually
  • Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, including more than 25 percent of seniors.
  • As many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 if present trends continue.
  • The economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion annually.

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King files amended campaign finance report

State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) has filed an amended campaign finance report showing $37,250 in contributions that had been omitted from previous filings.

Phil King

The amended report was filed June 3 with the Texas Ethics Commission.

King blamed the oversight on an office move that took place during the nine days when the donations were received, between Dec. 3 and Dec. 11, 2013. In a sworn statement to the TEC, he said the error was discovered in a self-audit of the Jan. 15, 2013, campaign finance report.

The lion’s share of the $37,250 was a $25,000 donation to King’s campaign by former House Speaker Tom Craddick.

The Commission is currently investigating an ethics complaint that alleges the omission was an attempt to “launder” money donated by Craddick to King’s campaign, which he then passed on to another political action committee to be used in the campaign of Craddick’s daughter, Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick for her 2012 Republican Party primary runoff campaign.

According to King’s filing with the Texas Ethics Commission on June 3, eight contributions were inadvertently omitted.

“We discovered that these contributions, received between Dec. 3-11, 2012, were not itemized, although the total amount of those contributions was reported correctly and included in the Contribution Balance on page 2 of the cover sheet of the original report.

“During that nine-day timeframe, my staff and I were moving my district, campaign and law offices of 19 years and my Capitol office at the Capitol, causing significant disruption for several weeks.”

The filing states that copies of the eight contributions were “either lost or misplaced” and are still missing. The King campaign used bank digital copies and TEC reports filed by the donors to reconstruct the record for their amended filing.

The omitted entries included:

  • $1,000 from Friends of Baylor Med.
  • $25,000 from Tom Craddick
  • $1,000 from Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP Campaign Fund
  • $1,000 from Ace Cash Express Inc. PAC
  • $250 from Gulf States Toyota Inc. State PAC
  • $1,000 from Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas Casino Revenue Fund
  • $500 from Locke Lord Bissell and Liddell LLP, and
  • $7,500 from the Fort Worth Firefighters Committee for Responsible Government

The amended report requests the TEC “waive or reduce any fine applicable since this was a noncritical report and the errors were due to circumstances associated with a major office move.”

In filing the amended report, King has to swear that the original report was made in good faith and without an intent to mislead or misrepresent and that the amended filing was made not later than 14 business days after he learned that the original report was inaccurate or incomplete.

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1 person attends county public hearing

Mike Pirtle was the only person who attended Monday’s public hearing prior to the commissioner’s court meeting.

The hearing was set to discuss possibly restricting truck traffic on County Road 2474, east of Alvord in Precinct 2.

Pirtle said he attended so he could speak in favor of closing the road to trucks.

“I’ve been there since 1988, and the last few years we’ve seen a tremendous influx of recreational use,” he said. “It’s the third entrance to the LBJ National Grasslands, and our little road was never supposed to handle that kind of traffic.”

Pirtle said Devon is now preparing to drill a well in the Grasslands, and the company has said its trucks will use Forest Service roads.

Pirtle has doubts. He said he thinks truck drivers will still use CR 2472 because it’s a quicker route back to Alvord.

He described the road saying it’s only 16 feet across at the widest point, and one quarter-mile section is only 10 feet wide.

“To improve the road the county would have to acquire a lot of land and tear out fences,” he said. “It ought to be closed to through truck traffic … we’ve learned to live with the recreational traffic.”

The item was not on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting, which started immediately after the public hearing, so commissioners were unable to take action.

It should be on the June 30 agenda.

ANIMAL SHELTER

During the regular meeting, Animal Shelter Administrator Linda Bryan told commissioners the Sheriff’s Office employee who worked at the shelter on Sundays, cleaning the facility and feeding the animals, was no longer able to perform those duties.

Sheriff David Walker said the employee, who’s in his 70s, brought an inmate work crew every week. He was reassigned due to safety issues.

“I don’t want to discuss personnel issues in open court, but he’s been wanting to stop doing this for a while,” he said. “He had been taking four [inmates] down there, and that’s a lot of folks for a 20-year-old to keep track of, much less a 77-year-old.”

Bryan is left with no one to work on Sundays, but she does have a part-time position she can fill in September. Commissioners approved in April adding that post for fiscal year 2015.

Bryan asked if in the meantime she could hire contract labor to cover Sundays until the fall and if her current employees could earn overtime pay, instead of comp time, while they fill in the next few weeks.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns made the motion to hire contract labor to work on Sundays and pay current employees for Sunday work for the next 30 days, during which time Bryan should hire contract labor.

VEHICLE PURCHASES

In a meeting June 2, commissioners approved a myriad of vechicle purchases, most for the Sheriff’s Office.

The county sought bids for small sport utility vehicles and large SUVs for the S.O., but ended up rejecting all bids for the smaller vehicles.

The price difference between the two sizes wasn’t significant, and Sheriff Walker said he thought the larger vehicle would maintain its value down the road.

“I think it’s smart to go with the bigger one,” he said at the previous meeting. “For the $1,500 difference, we’ll get more than that when we go to trade them in.”

Commissioners approved the purchase of seven two-wheel drive Chevrolet Tahoes from Caldwell Country for $28,919. They also approved the purchase of a four-wheel drive Tahoe at $33,340 that Walker had requested as an administrator’s vehicle.

Monday Walker requested to purchase two more full-size Tahoes for special services under the same bid approved June 2, and he asked to purchase a Dodge Charger to be used as a transport vehicle.

“We’ll use capital expenditure money, and we should still have money left over,” he said. “Then we’ll start gathering up our high mileage vehicles and get them to [County Asset Manager Diana Alexander] to be sold.”

Commissioners also approved at the June 2 meeting the purchase of a new security system for the Wise County Jail at a cost of $67,918. The system is being purchased from MCS off state contract and will be an upgrade from the current system, which has been in place since the jail was built.

OTHER BUSINESS

Commissioners also approved a special interlocal agreement between the county and the following parties: Tarrant Regional Water District, Wise County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, and Wise Soil and Water Conservation District.

Public Works Director Tom Goode said it’s the same agreement currently in place with these entities, but it expires in September.

The agreement ensures technical assistance is provided to agricultural producers in planning and implementing conservation treatment measures to reduce the amount of sediment and fertilizer that runs off into the Eagle Mountain Lake watershed.

Jerry Frank, who said he was with Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. and Friends of the West Fork, congratulated commissioners on “thinking regionally” and collaborating with different agencies.

The court also accepted several donations to the Public Works Department, including $500 from Pleasant Grove Cemetery, $500 from Alvord Cemetery, $400 from Crafton Cemetery and $65 from the Bridgeport Mexican Cemetery.

They also accepted $275.28 from Cans for Canines for the animal shelter and a load of 1-inch limestone that was dumped in the impound yard. County Treasurer Katherine Hudson said the limestone was in the bed of a vehicle parked in the yard, and when the vehicle was picked up, the owner didn’t want the rock.

Commissioners also:

  • authorized County Clerk Sherry Lemon to appoint Kiley Vian and Blanca Tuma as deputy county clerks;
  • approved construction plans for Montecito Estates, lots 1-11, block 1 in Precinct 1;
  • approved the final plat for Magellito Addition, lot 1, block 1, in Precinct 2 with a variance for the frontage requirements because it’s on a private road and the drainage study;
  • approved the bond for Craig Johnson, interim Precinct 2 justice of the peace;
  • approved renewing insurance with the Texas Association of Counties;
  • approved Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White selling a Komatsu maintainer; and
  • renewed the county’s red flag burn ban.

Commissioners’ next regular meeting is 9 a.m. Monday, June 30, in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur.

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Once upon a time …

Once upon a time …

Spinning and Twirling

SPINNING AND TWIRLING – Maids, vultures and evil queens invade the castle in a scene of the Wise Performing Arts Guild’s adaptation of “Snow White.” Performances are 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Decatur High School theatre. Tickets are available at the door. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Little Lady

LITTLE LADY – Peyton Sandate is all smiles before taking the stage as a ladybug. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Leading Antagonist

LEADING ANTAGONIST – The evil queen, played by Christy Mahaffey, twirls around the stage as the maids look on. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Tiny Dancers

TINY DANCERS – Ladybugs and bumblebees bounce and twirl across the stage, perfecting their part in the ballet recital. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Uh Oh

UH-OH – Emma Reeves pleads her case to her mom, Lori, after breaking a wing during dress rehearsal Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Jury gives man 2 10-year sentences

After finding him guilty Tuesday of possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a jury on Wednesday gave Daniel Ray Anderson 10 years on each.

The range of punishment went up to 20 years, with a $10,000 fine possible on each count. The jury did not assess a fine on either charge.

“I’m happy a Wise County jury sent a statement that they’re not going to tolerate people selling drugs in this community,” said Assistant District Attorney Pat Berry, who prosecuted the case. “I’d like for the statement to have been louder.”

Berry said Anderson will likely serve two years or less on the drug case, although the firearm charge might increase his prison time.

The verdict Tuesday represented Anderson’s sixth and seventh felony convictions.

Berry argued for the maximum sentence, while Anderson’s attorney, David Singleton, asked for leniency.

“You’re not going to change the world with your decision in this courthouse today,” Singleton said, “but you are going to have a tremendous impact on Mr. Anderson, his fiance , and his son.”

He told the jury Anderson came from a “messed-up situation” and had gotten caught up in a web of crime.

“We are, at least to some extent, formed by the environment we’re raised in,” he said. “People get in trouble because of the people they surround themselves with.”

Anderson served five years for sexual assault in Johnson County, then went back to prison for failing to register as a sex offender. Somewhere along the way, he became addicted to methamphetamine.

Berry painted a less sympathetic picture.

“What you have is a drug dealer, who is in possession of a gun after he’s already been to prison twice,” he said. “He’s holed up in a room with a surveillance system, night vision – he was set up.”

Anderson’s fiance had testified that he supplied her with meth “once or twice a day” for the last year or so.

Judge John Fostel also mandated drug rehabilitation for Anderson, 32.

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Weatherford College board names library after Eatons

Among the Weatherford College facilities that received new names Thursday was the library/academic research center at the Wise County Campus.

It is now the Roy and Jeannine Eaton Library and Research Center.

The couple are longtime Decatur residents who have generously supported numerous community causes. Roy Eaton, publisher of the Wise County Messenger, was a key force in getting voter approval for the tax to build the Wise County campus, located on U.S. 380 between Decatur and Bridgeport.

Since 2003, the Eatons have contributed more than $50,000 to support scholarships for WC Wise County students.

At Thursday’s board of trustees meeting in Weatherford, several other facilities also got new names.

The old Allied Health Building will soon bear the name of 1st Lt. Jack L. Knight, believed to be the only WC graduate to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Knight, who graduated from WC in 1938, was honored posthumously for actions with the U.S. Army’s 124th Cavalry Regiment in Burma.

The board also approved naming several rooms on the Weatherford campus after long-time supporters of the college.

In other business, the board:

  • heard an update on renovation work in the Business Building and in the old Allied Health Building. The projects have an Aug. 15 completion date.
  • approved sealed bids for medical equipment and supplies for the 2014-15 year totaling $39,424 to six vendors.
  • approved a tax abatement policy and reaffirmed their previous vote to provide a 50 percent tax abatement for five years to KEG1, a warehouse company currently building a facility on BB Fielder Road near Bethel Road.
  • listened to a report on the 2014-15 budget which is still in the refining stage.

In his report, WC President Dr. Kevin Eaton noted an increase in Summer I enrollment and contact hours, as compared to 2013, and recognized several employees and students for outstanding achievements.

The board will not meet in July. Their next meeting is 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.

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