SALES TAX SURGE CONTINUES — The county and the cities of Decatur, Bridgeport, Chico, Boyd, Aurora and New Fairview each saw double-digit increases from last year’s May sales tax disbursement from the Texas Comptroller. In the May allocation, the county added $846,136 from its half-cent sales tax, which is up 37 percent from May 2022. The May disbursement, which is from sales tax collected during the month of March, is up $300,000 from April’s $541,762 allocation. Wise County Judge J.D. Clark said $126,000 in audit collections from sales tax owed from a prior collection period contributed to the sharp increase. “Even without the audit collection, it’s a strong, high month for sales tax revenue, and it’s indicative of the consistent growth our county is experiencing and also the economic strength that this county, region and state are experiencing,” Clark said. Through the first eight months of the fiscal year, the county has brought in approximately $5.2 million in sales tax revenue, up nearly $1 million from the same point last year.
Update for Wednesday, May 17, 2023
CHRISTIAN HIRED AS BOYD ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL — The Boyd School Board Monday hired Melonie Christian to serve as the next principal at Boyd Elementary School. Her official start date is July 1. “I am excited and honored to be named principal at Boyd Elementary School,” Christian said, in a press release posted to the district’s website Monday night. “I look forward to serving the students, staff and families that make up this great community. Through collaboration with our families and staff, we will promote a love for learning and a culture that is based on what is best for our students to reach their potential.” Christian retired in 2017 after a 29-year career in education, spending her last nine years as the principal of Rann Elementary School in Decatur. She started her career as a kindergarten teacher at Boyd in 1990. She currently serves on the Decatur School Board and was renamed as the board’s vice president Monday.
Update for Tuesday, May 16, 2023
DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES ARMING TEACHERS — Decatur ISD trustees last night approved using the Guardian Plan, which allows authorized staff to carry guns in school. The action item on the agenda was to send out a survey to parents asking for their input on the plan, but the board decided against sending out the survey after learning that a similar survey to staff members found 54 percent in favor of such a plan. The Guardian or a similar Marshal Plan was listed on the agenda under “Discussion items,” and there was some discussion on whether action could be taken on the matter since it wasn’t listed as an action item. Scott Koehler, who made the motion to approve the plan, said the action was allowed under Roberts Rules of Order. The board approved the plan 7-1, with trustee Stan Shults casting the dissenting vote.
Update for Monday, May 15, 2023
RAIN REPORT — Much of Wise County saw multiple inches of rain over the weekend, but no major issues with flooding were reported. Rainfall totals included 2.25 inches in Decatur, 2.2 in Greenwood, 2 in Cottondale, 1.85 in Bridgeport and 0.85 in Alvord. The flood watch that had been in effect for the weekend has expired. Today’s forecast includes a 40 percent chance of rain, mainly after 1 p.m. Otherwise it will be mostly cloudy with a high near 81 and an overnight low of 61.
Update for Friday May 12, 2023
COUNTY ADDS $658M IN NEW CONSTRUCTION — Preliminary values released by the Wise County Appraisal District this week revealed that the county added a record $658 million in new construction over the past year, nearly doubling the record $338 million in new construction in 2022, which surpassed the previous $271 million record from 2021. Real estate values are up 18 percent in the county. With the additions of housing developments and increased commercial activity at the Decatur EDC’s Eagles Landing Business Park, Decatur ISD alone added $160 million in new construction. Wise County’s tax roll as a whole has increased to $13.487 billion. Mineral values increased by 29 percent. Certified values will be presented to entities in July after protests. The protest deadline is May 19, or no later than 30 days after the notice of appraised value was mailed.
Update for Thursday, May 11, 2023
6 BRIDGEPORT STUDENTS ARRESTED FOR HAZING — Six members of the Bridgeport High School boys varsity soccer team were arrested Wednesday following a two-month investigation into hazing incidents within the program. Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said investigators found evidence of multiple incidents involving hazing of “multiple” underclassmen in the school locker room, on a school bus and in a hotel room. “These incidents involved the underclassmen (some as young as 14 years old) being restrained or held down while multiple subjects removed articles of the victim’s clothing, including their pants and underwear,” Stanford said in a news release. During an incident at a hotel room during an out-of-town tournament, a pillow was placed over a victim’s face, mouth, and nose, which impeded the victim’s airway to the point that the he reported that he almost lost consciousness, Stanford said. The six students — five legal adults and one juvenile — were all charged with the Class B misdemeanor charge of personal hazing.
Update for Wednesday, May 10, 2023
SUBSTITUTE TEACHER ARRESTED FOR IMPROPER RELATIONSHIP — Aurora resident Julia Marie Dwyer, 20, was booked into the Wise County Jail last Thursday on a charge of improper relationship between an educator and student and released after posting $25,000 bond the same day. Chief Deputy Craig Johnson with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office said Dwyer was arrested after an investigation found evidence she had a sexual relationship with a student. Northwest ISD Executive Director of Communications Anthony Tosie confirmed that Dwyer was previously employed by the district as a substitute teacher, and her employment was terminated following a district investigation into the incident.
Update for Tuesday, May 9, 2023
1 KILLED IN WEEKEND WRECK — One person was killed and two more seriously injured in a two-vehicle collision Saturday night near New Fairview. The wreck happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday on U.S. 81/287 just south of County Road 4421. Sgt. Tony De La Cerda with the Texas Department of Public Safety said preliminary investigation found a 2011 Dodge 1500 driven by Victor Figueroa, 25, of Irving was northbound driving at an unsafe speed for the rainy weather and lost control of the vehicle, which skidded into the southbound lanes and struck a 2009 Dodge 2500 driven by Jason Lindhorst, 55, of Godley. Figuero was ejected and was later taken to Wise Health System in Decatur. Lindhorst sustained critical injuries and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. A passenger in his vehicle, 81-year-old Elizabeth McWhorter of Godley, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Update for Monday, May 8, 2023
DECATUR, BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BONDS FAIL — Bonds that would have provided new schools for a growing population of students in Decatur and Bridgeport were rejected by voters in Saturday’s election. Voters in the Decatur school district overwhelmingly rejected a $331.2 million bond package aimed at easing overcrowding at two of its campuses and addressing various needs across the district. Proposition A, which included $325,020,000 for school facilities, failed by a vote of 1,792 to 788, or 69 to 31 percent. Proposition B, which included $6,196,000 for instructional technology, failed by a closer margin of 1,426 to 1,150, or 55 to 45 percent. “Obviously I’m disappointed because I felt like the committee had a plan to move forward, but it’s obvious the community has spoken in a loud way,” DISD Superintendent Chad Jones said Saturday night. Bridgeport ISD’s $185 million, single-proposition bond was shut down by voters by a margin of 720 to 553. The bond issue aimed to address the district’s aging facilities, with an average facility age of over 46 years. The proposed project included $44.8 million for middle school renovations, $63.2 million for a new elementary school and $40 million for a high school auditorium. The bond also included upgrades to Bull Memorial Stadium ($8.7 million), softball and baseball field upgrades ($6.5 million), tennis court upgrades ($767,000) and a field safety covering ($10.9 million). “We want to thank everyone in our community who participated in the planning process and who took the time to vote in the election,” said Bridgeport ISD Superintendent Amy Ellis. “I know there are many people who are disappointed that these bond projects will not happen for our students.”
Update for Friday May 5, 2023
DECATUR UNDER BOIL WATER NOTICE; SCHOOLS AND MANY BUSINESSES CLOSED — The City of Decatur is under a boil water notice until at least 5 p.m. Saturday, and Decatur ISD is closed today after a major water line break in the 1200 block of U.S. Business 380 Thursday. The break occurred after a utility contractor struck a high-pressure, 12-inch line at 9 a.m. near Lowe’s Home Improvement. By noon, crews were able to stop the leak, but not before severe pressure drops and the loss of approximately 1 million gallons of water, resulting in the boil water notice. The notice applies to all residents within Decatur’s city limits and any other customers connected to the city’s public water service system. The notice urges customers to boil water prior to consumption, including when washing hands/face, brushing teeth and drinking. To ensure the destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and ice-making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous, rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes. In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes. Restroom facilities may be used as normal. When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes. Wise Health System also announced changes Thursday, including the closure of non-emergency services. Most hospital operations will resume today. Wise Health Clinics in Decatur will be closed today and Fit-N-Wise will open at noon, with its pools, shower and locker rooms unavailable until the boil water notice is lifted. The Community Health Clinic and Family & Sports Medicine Clinic in Decatur will continue appointments today in Boyd and Bridgeport respectively.