Two killed in wreck on FM 730


Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Two people were killed in a three-vehicle accident on Farm Road 730 at County Road 4374 between Decatur and Boyd Tuesday evening.
Seth Evans, 23, of Boyd and his passenger Makayla Stoff, 18, of Azle died at the scene.
The accident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. A white Cadillac driven by Glenda Hogan, 69, of Decatur was stopped in the southbound lane of FM 730 to turn left onto CR 4374. A gray Ford F150 traveling southbound driven by James Blackwood, 47, of Decatur clipped the back of the Cadillac and then went into the northbound lane, striking head on a northbound Ford Escort, driven by Evans.
“The gray F150 was traveling southbound from behind and didn’t see [the Cadillac] until the last second and starts to swerve over,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Zeb Siebeneck. “His front right hits the Cadillac’s back left pushing the Cadillac off the road. After clipping the rear of the other car, [the F150] continues on into the Ford Escort. It was an instant stop for both vehicles.”
Blackwood was taken to Medical City Denton by ground ambulance.
Hogan and her passenger, Curtis Carter, 45, were not injured.
FM 730 was closed for several hours at CR 4374. Traffic was diverted through a private driveway.

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Upset kings: Underdog Eagles meet heavyweight La Vega

Upset kings: Underdog Eagles meet heavyweight La Vega


Breaking away

BREAKING AWAY – Decatur junior A.J. Martinez eludes tacklers during the Eagles’ 38-28 win over Hereford in the Class 4A Division I quarterfinal. Decatur will face Waco La Vega in the 4A Division I semifinal Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

There’s a photo from the 2000 Class 5A area playoff game between Coppell and Desoto near Decatur coach Mike Fuller’s desk.

Fuller’s Cowboys entered the tilt with a Desoto team led by future NFL star Ellis Hobbs as 30-point underdogs. But by the end of the night, Coppell had pulled off the stunner of the year, coming away with a 31-28 victory.

“I’ve kept that photo because it reminds me that there’s always a way to win, no matter who you’re playing,” Fuller said.

Now more than ever, Fuller and Decatur will draw inspiration from that photo.

The Eagles are 17-point underdogs in the 4A Division I semifinal against Waco La Vega and will meet a Pirates team that sent previously undefeated Argyle home last week. La Vega is 12-2 and the No. 1 team in Harris’ 4A Division I rankings. The Pirates have outscored their playoff opponents 198-55.

Decatur is 8-6 and has won four straight since ending the regular season 4-6 overall and finishing fourth in District 4-4A I. The two schools will square off at 4 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

“We’re here and are super thrilled about being here, but we’re completely intending to win this game,” Fuller said. “That’s what sports are [about]. You see it all the time. Anything can happen.”

La Vega is led on offense by senior John Richards, who ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns in the Pirates’ 31-14 win over Argyle last week. La Vega has racked up nearly 5,000 yards on the ground this season, wearing down opponents to the tune of 359.9 rushing yards per game.

The Pirates average 45.6 points.

“They’re incredibly athletic and play really hard,” Fuller said. “They’re definitely the most athletic team we’ve seen this year, maybe ever. I can’t think of one team that’s more athletic since I’ve been here. All their skills guys are fast, and all their lineman are big and strong.”

La Vega completed only one pass against Argyle but Fuller said the Pirates have playmakers on the outside capable of stretching the field.

Looking for room

LOOKING FOR ROOM – Decatur junior Gunner Ragsdale follows his blocker during the Eagles’ 38-28 win over Hereford in the Class 4A Division I quarterfinal. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur has been stout against the run during its playoff push, including limiting Hirschi all-state back Daimarqua Foster to 114 yards – his lowest total of the season. After giving up more than 50 points and 500 yards per game during the regular season, the Eagles’ defense has not allowed more than 28 points in the playoffs.

The past four weeks, Decatur has forced 12 turnovers and is plus 10 in the turnover margin.

“We’re going to need to protect the football and be patient,” Fuller said. “We’re going to need to create a turnover or two. We have to stay in the moment the whole time.”

It will be Decatur’s first appearance in the state semifinals since 1988, when the Eagles fell to Southlake Carroll 23-0. Decatur’s 1975 team also advanced to the state semifinal, but no Decatur team has made it to the state final.

“It’s been a blast. It’s really rewarding to see these kids develop more and more confidence as we go,” Fuller said. “They really are doing it for the guy beside them. You can tell, they aren’t playing for themselves. They’re playing for a cause.

“Every team is special, I love every team I’ve ever coached, but this team has really captured the hearts of a lot people – including their coach.”

CLASS 4A DIVISION I SEMIFINAL
Decatur (8-6) vs.
Waco La Vega (12-2)
4 p.m. Friday AT&T Stadium
Tickets:
$12 online at https://seatgeek.com/4a-5a-semifinals-2018-uil-football-playoffs-tickets/football/2018-12-14-12-pm/4662305
$15 at door
Parking:
$10 per car with credit card
$15 per car with cash

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Starting up front: senior-laden line leads Decatur to semifinal


Paving a way

PAVING A WAY – Decatur senior Colby Westbrook (right) makes a block to spring Decatur junior Gunner Ragsdale. The Eagles’ offensive line has helped Decatur’s offense average 474.3 yards per game during the playoffs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

During Decatur’s remarkable playoff run the past month, the Eagles’ offense has fired on all cylinders.

Decatur has averaged 39.5 points, picking apart Dumas, Andrews, Hirschi and Hereford to make its way to the 4A Division I semifinal. In those games, the Eagles have racked up 474.3 yard per game.

It’s been a balanced attack that has gotten the Eagles this far, but at the center of it all has been sound, and at times, dominant offensive line play.

“They’ve been huge,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “They’re smart and work together well.”

The oft-overlooked offensive line has surrendered just one sack in the playoffs, giving junior quarterback Roman Fuller a clean pocket to survey the field. As a result, Roman has completed 70.5 percent of his passes and thrown for 1,294 yards and 14 touchdowns in the postseason.

Senior right tackle Ridge Burden said protecting Roman is a priority each week.

“We take a lot of pride in it. We work it all the time,” Burden said. “That’s your brother back there and you don’t want him getting hit.”

Decatur starts four seniors on its offensive line, including Burden, left tackle Morgan Picha, center Colby Murillo and left guard Colby Westbrook. Burden said having experience at offensive line has paid dividends down the stretch, especially at the end of games.

“[Experience] has been very important, [especially] at the end of the game when we need to run down the clock,” Burden said. “We’ve been putting together 17-play drives – ground and pound, get down there and get the job done.

“We’re all the same age and have been working together since we were young. We have good team chemistry. They’re just like a brother. I’d take a bullet for them. I love them all.”

The Eagles have averaged 150.8 yards on the ground during the postseason, running the ball effectively against several tough defensive fronts.

Coach Fuller credited the offense’s ability to communicate effectively as a main reason for the success.

“Our line, quarterback and running backs communicate well together,” Fuller said. “A lot of people might think you just go up there and run a play, but there’s a lot that goes into it. To put us in the best advantage, they have to make a lot of calls and Roman has to make a lot of calls – our backs have to make a lot of calls. They all have to be on the same page. They’ve been playing really hard.”

Decatur has been an underdog for each playoff game thus far and Friday’s 4A semifinal against Waco La Vega will be no different. The Pirates enter the game as 17-point favorites, but Burden and the rest of the Eagles aren’t concerned.

Just more than a month ago, Decatur was 4-6 and limping into the playoffs. Now, the Eagles join only the 1975 and 1988 teams as the only Decatur squads to advance to the semifinals.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Burden said. “When I look back in five to 10 years, I’ll remember to never quit. Everyone kind of wrote us off at the beginning of the year, and we’ve proved we aren’t done yet.”

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Eagles take second at Decatur tourney


The Decatur Eagles went 5-1 at the Decatur Invitational over the weekend, falling to the Oklahoma City Storm 47-42 in the championship.

Decatur knocked off Trinity Christian, Weatherford, Braswell and Aledo before edging Burleson Centennial in overtime in the semifinal.

The Eagles improved to 12-2 and are ranked 14th in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 4A poll. Decatur will take on defending 3A champion Bowie at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Bowie.

SLIDELL CLAIMS SECOND AT MINERAL WELLS TOURNEY

Slayton Pruett’s team-high 12 points were not enough Saturday, as the Slidell Greyhounds fell to Fort Worth Western Hills 65-58 in the championship of the Mineral Wells Tournament.

“We started off slow,” said Slidell coach Casey Pierce. “I think fatigue played a factor. It was our fifth game in less than 48 hours. It was a good tournament for us. We played some teams with size and athletes that will prepare us for district and the playoffs.”

Slidell went 4-1 in the tournament, beating Bridgeport, Mineral Wells and Diamond Hill-Jarvis. The Greyhounds also beat Western Hills 48-44 in pool play.

Ben McCasland was selected to the all-tournament team. Slidell moved to 9-5.

The Greyhounds traveled to Valley View Tuesday.

BULLDOGS GO 2-1 AT ALVORD TOURNEY

Karson Parker scored a game-high 18 points, leading the Bulldogs to a 65-42 win over Tioga in the final game of the Alvord Tournament Saturday.

Treyson Chambers and Eli Tefertiller each tallied 12 points. Alvord improved to 8-1.

The Bulldogs traveled to Callisburg Tuesday.

PARADISE 44, FORSAN 30

Paradise downed Forsan 44-30 in the final game of the Poolville Tournament Saturday.

Mitchell Sellers led the Panthers in scoring with 14 points and was an all-tournament selection. Paradise ran its record to 5-6.

The Panthers hosted Forestburg Tuesday.

BOYD 56, SAINT JO 40

Connor Richardson scored a game-high 23 points and Boyd handled Saint Jo 56-40 in the final game of the Era Tournament Saturday.

Reuben Rodebaugh added 16 and Zeb Souder poured in 10. Richardson was named to the all-tournament team.

The Yellowjackets improved to 6-5 and traveled to Bridgeport Tuesday.

BRIDGEPORT 57, MINERAL WELLS 56

The Bridgeport Bulls fended off Mineral Wells 57-56 at the Mineral Wells Tournament Saturday.

Bridgeport moved to 5-8 and hosted Boyd Tuesday.

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Lady Eagles snag second at Peaster tourney


Decatur lost a heartbreaker to undefeated Nocona in the championship of the Peaster Tournament Saturday, falling 40-39.

The Lady Eagles beat Jacksboro 53-18 in the semifinal and went 3-1 at the tournament. Katie Hale scored 24 in the semifinal and Grace Lowery added 11.

Lowery, Hale and Kylee Fitzgerald were selected to the all-tournament team. Decatur traveled to take on Lake Country Christian Tuesday.

SLIDELL 38, S&S CONSOLIDATED 14

Driving to the rim


DRIVING TO THE RIM – Slidell’s Aurora DeLuna drives for a shot against Bryson. The Lady Hounds are 15-0 this season and the No. 4 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 1A poll. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Slidell stayed unbeaten Friday, dispatching S&S Consolidated 38-14.

Bailey Meyer and Aurora DeLuna each scored 10. The Lady Hounds improved to 15-0 and are the No. 4 team in the Texas Girls Coaches Association 1A poll.

POOLVILLE 43, PARADISE 36

Poolville edged Paradise 43-36 Friday.

The Lady Panthers fell to 1-9. Paradise opened District 7-3A play at Tolar Tuesday.

ERA 50, BOYD 25

Era doubled up Boyd 50-25 Saturday.

The Lady Jackets dropped to 3-7 and will host Millsap Tuesday to open District 7-3A play.

CALLISBURG 50, ALVORD 37

Callisburg halted Alvord’s six-game winning streak Saturday, knocking off the Lady Bulldogs 50-37.

Alvord fell to 8-7. The Lady Bulldogs headed to Wichita Falls City View Tuesday.

CHICO 40, DIAMOND HILL-JARVIS 23

The Chico Lady Dragons picked up their second straight win Friday, cruising past Diamond Hill-Jarvis 40-23.

Chico moved to 4-5. The Lady Dragons went to Bryson Tuesday.

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Helping hands: Party with a Purpose marks successful end to feeding program

Helping hands: Party with a Purpose marks successful end to feeding program


Can do spirit

CAN-DO SPIRIT – Towers of canned goods await packing on the floor of a gym at McCarroll Middle School’s multipurpose building Sunday afternoon. Nearly 2,400 bags of food were collected through the Live Thankfully program. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For about an hour Sunday night, the scene at Decatur ISD’s multipurpose building at the middle school resembled a bee hive.

Hundreds of volunteers grabbed cloth bags and filled them with a variety of food items, all separated out on the gym floor into neat piles created a few hours earlier by even more volunteers.

Young and not-so-young alike carefully selected items such as canned vegetables, beans, peanut butter, cereal, soup, cake mixes and more – all that had been donated by local residents during the recent Live Thankfully campaign.

Sorting it out

SORTING IT OUT – Tatum Allen sorts cans Sunday at the Living Thankfully event at McCarroll Middle School. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The items were then taken to the stage, which soon was covered with 2,390 bags of food that will be delivered to local families in need.

“We’ve got 492 families we’re feeding with that,” said Dr. Dan Mallory, who has headed up the program in each of its six years.

As volunteers dropped off full bags, they quickly returned to the gym to begin the process again. Mallory helped direct traffic and handed out high fives and pats on the back.

Sarah Garcia of Decatur and her family – husband Jimmy and their two children, Jacob and Sophia – were among those volunteering at Sunday’s Party with a Purpose.

“I’ve been in this same situation where it’s, ‘Do we pay the electric bill or do we go buy groceries?'” she said. “Just to know this is really helpful, and if we can be a part of making sure that kids don’t have to stay home and be hungry – I know if we needed this for our kids, I’m glad to know something like this is here.”

The Living Thankfully program has come a long way since it began in 2013 at Carson Elementary serving 65 families. The program has grown each year, and this year marks the first time every school district in the county has participated in the program.

“People are getting their hearts behind it,” Mallory said. “They’re helping people in their own hometown. We’re helping people in our own home county. You don’t have to go to Haiti to be in the mission field. You get to be in a mission here, so it’s pretty fun.”

As the setting sun produced a bright orange sunset seen through the open doors at the back of the stage, trailers were loaded with bags that would soon make their way back to the various communities throughout Wise County and then into the homes of the families of students.

Leading the effort

LEADING THE EFFORT – Dan and Allison Mallory organized the sixth annual Live Thankfully food drive. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“The fun part is getting the [school] counselors to identify the families, and they build relationships with those families. They say, ‘We care about you. We know you need some help.’ I don’t know anybody’s name, I just know we have 492 [families] to help,” Mallory said.

By the end of the evening, as the loaded trailers began their journey and the volunteers began to go home, the buzzing died down.

For Mallory, the sweet smell of success was both humbling and fun, he said.

“You see a lot of people pitching in and having fun with it, and it’s hard work but it’s a good finish – a good project at the end.”

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Decatur deja  vu: Eagles return to state semifinal after 30 years

Decatur deja vu: Eagles return to state semifinal after 30 years


Another shot

ANOTHER SHOT – Will Klose, a member of the 1988 Decatur football team and Melissa Bedford, a member of the Decatur cheer team, have had the chance to relive Decatur’s semifinal run through their kids, who play on Decatur’s football team. Decatur will face Waco La Vega 4 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington in the Class 4A State semifinals. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur is dealing with a serious case of deja vu. History has repeated itself.

After a 38-28 win over Hereford last week, the 2018 Decatur Eagles have reached the state semifinals for the third time, joining the ranks of the 1975 and 1988 teams.

It’s been 30 years. But Decatur is once again one game away from state and a shot at a ring.

Members of that 1988 Decatur squad, which went 10-4-2, and those who cheered for the Big Blue that year, hope to see their bit of history eclipsed. A few football players and cheerleaders from 1988 have seen their children follow in their footsteps by making the state semifinals.

Three decades later, they’ve come back to finish the job – this time with their kids.

Last week, Decatur receiver Beau Bedford lit up the Whitefaces for 145 yards and a score on seven receptions. He’s leading Class 4A with 1,629 yards and 15 touchdowns on 112 receptions this year.

In 1988, it was another Bedford on the sidelines, Decatur cheerleader Melissa Bedford, Beau’s mother, helping push the team to the semis.

Melissa remembers the 1988 season well. Bobby Actkinson led Eagles on an amazing run before falling to Southlake Carroll 23-0 at Pennington Field in Bedford.

In the semis, the Eagles played on AstroTurf. Bedford and the cheer squad held up an “All we want for Christmas is to beat you, Carroll” sign before the team barreled through to take the field.

“It was a magical time. Memories that last a lifetime,” Bedford said. “Our boys in 1988 were so special. As a cheerleader, every bit of it was so exciting.”

Almost as exciting as watching Beau rack up yards game after game.

“I sat down with him and said, ‘These moments, you will remember this for the rest of your life,'” Bedford said. “I told him to soak it all in. To cherish it. I am so proud of these boys and how they’ve come together as a team. They play with heart, and that’s what the 1988 team had. Those boys played with heart.”

This week, Waco La Vega stands in the way of Decatur’s first appearance in the finals. The Eagles will play the Pirates at 4 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.

And when you look at this team, that’s raided the Class 4A playoffs with upset after upset, it’s hard to recognize them from the squad that started the season 1-4.

On the heels of a 49-48 loss to Gainesville in the regular season finale, Decatur’s prospects of a deep playoff run appeared dim at best. But the constant underdogs kept winning.

It started against the Dumas Demons in Weatherford, Okla., at Southwestern State University. Special teamer Trey Klose forced a fumble in the Eagles’ 48-21 win. It was the start to Decatur’s storybook run.

Dusting off the books

DUSTING OFF THE BOOKS – Will Klose’s scrapbook of the 1988 team chronicled the team’s rise from 1-1-1 to tying the 1975 team for the best finish in school history. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Three decades ago, Will Klose, Trey’s dad, was a second team all-district safety for the Eagles. His two interceptions against Denver City sealed a 38-0 thumping of the Mustangs to punch Decatur’s ticket to the semifinals.

Will Klose said the parallels between the 2018 team and the 1988 team are eerie.

“It’s really been like a ‘Twilight Zone’ moment,” Klose said.

With the vaunted senior and junior class of 1987 finishing with a disappointing exit in the area round to, of all teams, Waco La Vega, the expectations weren’t high entering the 1988 season. At the start, it looked like the expectations were right.

The 1988 Eagles started the season 1-1-1. But the team came together and won. They created a bond a brotherhood that took them all the way to the semis, Klose said.

When the former Decatur safety saw the bond between his son and his friends entering this season, he felt the team could be special.

“I told them, I have a weird feeling about this year,” Klose said. “I watched him with his friends and how close they are and I just said, ‘You guys remind me a lot of my senior year and the bond that we had with our teammates.'”

It took a while, but his premonition proved to be right.

“We came into our senior year and then things started playing out really the same way as they are now,” Klose said. “We were 1-1-1, then it kind of hit. We started to gain traction. They started out 1-4. And it started out weird. But then they started gaining traction. Getting wins and believing in themselves.

“I don’t believe in fate. I believe you make your own destiny in this world,” Klose added. “It’s just one of those things where I felt like this is a ‘Twilight Zone’ moment, where you see things, history repeating itself. These kids have been amazing to watch and it’s just been an awesome experience to watch them come together and overcome adversity. Overcome a slow start and keep working to get better.”

Fresh off the loss to Gainesville ahead of their playoff opener against Dumas, Klose hosted the Decatur team dinner.

Tony Mooney, a player from the 1987 team gave an impassioned speech. Klose and others from ’88 shared their stories about what it takes to make a run.

Whether it be coaching, former players, or just a talented team finding its footing, the Decatur team has lived up to the 1988 team standard.

Now, they have a chance to surpass it and the 1975 team, by earning a state championship appearance.

At team dinners and on the field, Melissa Bedford said she’s seen the bonds that have been forged and how the team has grown.

“They laugh together. They pray together,” Bedford said. “They’re just close. It’s been amazing to watch them grow this year.”

Come Friday in Arlington, Klose said he’d be happy to see his team surpassed.

“I don’t think I can even describe it,” he said. “I can’t put words in what it would be like to see Decatur in the state championship. As a parent and a person who believes in Decatur and lives and dies by it and knowing what we’re trying to build here, I can’t even describe it.”

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Wreck victim dies


Elizabeth Roberts, 72, of Decatur died late Thursday night at John Peter Smith Hospital in Forth Worth where she had been since the wreck, according to Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins.

Roberts was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, Charles Roberts, 75.

Hoskins said the accident happened shortly after 6 p.m. Nov. 27 on Farm Road 730 under U.S. 81/287. He said a car driven by Destiny Beasley, 17, of New Fairview was southbound on FM 730. As she was turning left to enter U.S. 81/287 southbound, she collided with a car northbound on FM 730 driven by Charles Roberts.

Beasley and Charles Roberts were taken by ambulance to Wise Health System in Decatur with non-life-threatening injuries while Elizabeth Roberts was flown to JPS with serious injuries.

Hoskins said he does not expect to file criminal charges in the wreck.

Funeral for Roberts was Tuesday at Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur with burial at Oaklawn Cemetery.

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Weekend Planner for Wednesday, December 12, 2018


#1 SANTA ON THE STREETS

Santa on streets

A much-anticipated holiday tradition kicks off Sunday as Santa begins his tour through Decatur escorted by the Decatur Fire Department. Firefighters begin their route nightly at 5 p.m. and aim to finish around 9 p.m. so kids can get in bed.

Santa and his helpers visit a different neighborhood every night, Sunday through Thursday. See page 2 for this year’s schedule and map.

#2 BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

Breakfast with santa

Dig into a pancake breakfast with Santa Claus Saturday at the Decatur Fire Department.

Breakfast starts at 7 a.m., and the Jolly Old Elf will arrive at the station on a fire truck at 8:30. The food is free – pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee.

Mom and Dad, bring your cameras so you can take photos as your kids share their Christmas wishes with Santa. The fire department is at 1705 S. State St.

#3 CHRISTMAS MARKET

Shopping xmas

Still have shopping to do?

Check out the Christmas Market Thursday and Friday in the east campus lobby at Wise Health System in Decatur. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

You’ll find apparel, handbags, jewelry and holiday fashions, not to mention goodies for the kiddos. The sale benefits Wise County United Way – two gifts in one.

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News Briefs for Wednesday, December 12, 2018


BOYD

SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS – Donations for the Boyd Spirit of Christmas may be made at Wells Fargo or First Financial Bank locations in Boyd.

BRIDGEPORT

SANTA COPS – The Bridgeport Police Department has applications available for its Santa Cops program on the police department’s social media accounts and at the police station.

GIFTED AND TALENTED – The Bridgeport ISD Gifted and Talented referral window is open. Referral forms may be obtained at each campus office and online. All completed referral forms must be turned in by Friday. Please contact BISD Advanced Academics Coordinator, Paula Fippinger for information.

DECATUR

THE NUTCRACKER – The dancers of Wise Ballet and Music Academy in Decatur will perform The Nutcracker Dec. 22-23 at Decatur High School Theater. The Saturday performance is at 7 p.m., and the Sunday performance is at 3 p.m. Buy tickets online at tututix.com/wisepag. Tickets will also be available at the door.

SPORTSMAN’S BANQUET – The Decatur Youth Fair Buyers Association is having a Sportsman’s Banquet 6 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Decatur Conference Center. There will a social hour, raffles and a silent auction starting at 6, followed by a steak dinner at 7 p.m. A live auction featuring hunting, fishing and other outdoor adventure-related items will be held at the end of the night. Buy tickets online at dyfba.com. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of Decatur 4-H and FFA projects at the 2019 Youth Fair Auction.

santa cops – Donations of new, unwrapped toys or monetary donations can be dropped off at the police department for Santa Cops through Friday. For information, call Ashly DoByns, 940-393-0303.

ANGELS AVAILABLE – Salvation Army Angels are now available at First State Bank in Decatur. They are due back by 3 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 12).

MARY’S GIFT – The Mary’s Gift program funded through Wise Health Foundation provides free 3D mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women and men of Wise County. The remaining 2018 date is Dec. 26. Visit WiseHealthFoundation.com to learn more or call Wise Health System Imaging Center at 940-626-1329 to apply and schedule your appointment.

RESIDENT ANGELS – The Hills Nursing and Rehab has its Resident Angel Tree available for angels to be picked up. Gifts need to be returned by Wednesday (Dec. 12). The facility is also doing a collection drive for CASA, gathering clothing, toiletries and toys for the foster children in Wise County, through Friday.

RHOME

SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS – South Wise Spirit of Christmas Angels are available for adoption at Rhome Pharmacy and Pinnacle Bank. Gifts must be returned by Thursday. Monetary donations may be made at Wells Fargo in Rhome.

WISE COUNTY

BELL RINGERS NEEDED – Wise County Salvation Army needs local volunteers to ring the bell for its annual Red Kettle campaign at two locations in Wise County: Walmart in Decatur and Brookshire’s in Bridgeport. To volunteer at the Decatur location, visit wcmess.com/bell-decatur. To volunteer at the Bridgeport location, visit wcmess.com/bell-bridgeport. Call Holly Berry at 940-626-8691 for information or to request a date to ring the bell.

SANTA DEPUTIES – The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is collecting new, unwrapped toys through its Santa’s Deputies program to help the less fortunate children in Wise County. Applications to be a recipient of the Santa’s Deputies program should be completed and returned by Thursday. Applications can be obtained at the sheriff’s office lobby, 200 Rook Ramsey in Decatur. To donate, bring your toy or monetary gift donation to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office before Dec. 19. For information, call Susan Gomez at 940-627-5971, ext. 227.

RED CROSS VOLUNTEERS – The American Red Cross is looking for volunteers to serve on the Local Disaster Action Team to respond to local disasters such as house fires and tornadoes. Call Melvin Castleberry, 940-210-4908.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – Wise County Committee on Aging is seeking volunteers to deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors in Wise County. A valid driver’s license is required, and a background check will be performed. Call 940-627-5329 or stop by 300 N. Trinity St., Suite A, in Decatur. Cooks are also needed at the kitchen in Chico.

CHRISTMAS OF HOPE – Wise Hope Shelter and Crisis Centers annual Christmas of Hope now has angels available for the community. This program helps children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence to have a special Christmas. Angels are located at the Outreach office at 608 N. Business U.S. 81/287 in Decatur, Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monetary donations will also be accepted. Call Janice at 940-626-4585.

CHRISTMAS MARKET – The Wise Health System will be hosting a two-day Christmas sale in the hospital’s main lobby from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Proceeds will benefit the Wise County United Way.

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Remembering 41: Decatur resident recalls days with late president

Remembering 41: Decatur resident recalls days with late president


Reflecting on 41

REFLECTING ON 41 – Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Wheeler and his wife Pat Wheeler spent multiple days with President George H.W. Bush at Camp Casey in South Korea in 2000. They honored the late president by lowering their flag to half staff. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

After hearing the news of the death of George H.W. Bush, retired U.S. Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Wheeler, a Decatur resident and Army veteran, stepped outside his home with a heavy heart and lowered his American flag to half staff, joining the worldwide remembrance of the 41st president of the United States.

It was an observance of loss, service and of memories he forged with the man who once held the most powerful office in the world.

Through his 35-year career in the U.S. military, Wheeler was one of many who got to look the president in the eye and shake his hand.

Back in 1973, Wheeler was just a kid from Kleberg, Texas, at the bottom of the totem pole, enlisting as Private E-1. Some 27 years later, the senior enlisted member of U.S. Forces Korea, 8th U.S. Army, the Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command said he couldn’t help but feel out of place while meeting one of the most powerful men in the world.

Whatever uneasiness Wheeler carried was swiftly ended thanks to a few disarming jokes from the president.

“First and foremost I was impressed by how big he was, he was a very tall man,” Wheeler recalled. “But then I was struck by just how down to earth he was, just very approachable. A genuinely nice man. He had a very dry wit. You would never know he was president. There was no air of superiority. He was just a person.”

The main thing that Wheeler recalls in his interactions from 18 years ago at Camp Casey, just a few miles away from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, was just how human and normal Bush proved to be.

In 2000, President George H.W. Bush visited Camp Casey, South Korea, to dedicate the Camp Casey USO in the name of his father, Prescott Bush ,who was a founding father of the USO. At the time, Wheeler was the Command Sergeant Major, the top enlisted member of the Second Infantry Division.

Wheeler and his wife, Pat, spent the day escorting former President George H.W. Bush on his tour of the camp and to the USO dedication.

“It wasn’t about him,” Wheeler said. “He was there to meet the troops and wanted to meet every one of them.”

Wheeler joined the military in 1973 and retired in 2008. He worked from the bottom rung of the U.S. Army to the upper echelons, being in command of thousands of men in South Korea.

His office at his home in Decatur is cased from wall to wall in those memories and accomplishments.

He can be seen with celebrities along with Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders who traveled to the base with the USO. He met actress Jessica Biel and singer Charlie Daniels. He taught Drew Carey how to throw a tomahawk, beating out fellow celebrity Wayne Newton and the general who taught him in a tomahawk throwing contest.

“Carey tore him up,” he joked.

He also met presidents George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton.

But one memory that stands out was his interactions with Bush over two days in South Korea. They cracked jokes over the dinner table and Bush made him feel like a friend.

“I wouldn’t mind having that guy as my next door neighbor,” Wheeler said. “To me that’s about as high a compliment you can give somebody. ”

In his office, Wheeler has a handwritten note from Bush. A habit that the president became known for, thoughtfully connecting with and interacting with both his political allies and enemies.

Over the past few days, as people have shared their memories of Bush through the funeral in Washington D.C. and Texas, Wheeler said his impressions have only been reaffirmed.

“To know a man like him is no longer with us, it’s emotional, it’s sad,” Wheeler said. “But it gave me a sense of pride that I knew him. I’m proud. The United States did the funeral right. They did it first class, for a first class man.”

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Fire destroys motor home


Motorhome Fire

MOTORHOME FIRE – Decatur fire fighters investigate the scene after an RV was destroyed in a blaze Wednesday night. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

A fire consumed a motor home stored in the 1100 block of Business U.S. 81/287 in Decatur Wednesday night.

Decatur Deputy Fire Chief Nate Mara said the motor home was likely unoccupied after initial investigation.

At 10:04 p.m. Decatur police officers were on patrol when they noticed a light in the field where the motor home was stored and notified the Decatur Fire Department. A blaze broke out, but was contained within minutes by the fire department.

“PD was doing their standard night patrols and happened to glance over and thought it looked out of character for it to be lit up and it was actually on fire,” Mara said.

Boyd firefighters assisted in the containment effort.

Mara said wind and the Decatur Fire Department’s efforts helped prevent what could have been a more serious situation, with a fuel storage tank and other structures nearby.

“The guys did a good job of knocking down the body of the fire and the wind helped us out a little bit blowing away from the storage tanks,” Mara said. “Had the wind been blowing in a different direction it could have been a little different.”

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Month in Review for November 2018


BIG NEWS

Decatur Eagles win state cross country title

The Decatur Eagles held off second-place Andrews by two points, winning the 4A cross country title 90-92 in Round Rock Nov. 3.

It was Decatur’s first title since 2012 and fifth cross country crown.

Tier 2 passes

Voters overwhelmingly passed the Tier 2 measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that put a halt to involuntary annexation in Wise County.

The measure passed 15,289 to 4,567 and will require property owners to be given an opportunity to approve any involuntary annexation.

Before the vote only home-rule cities could involuntary annex property.

A large turnout in the mid-term election leaned heavily Republican. On their way to victories, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Representative for District 12 Kay Granger, U.S. Representative for District 13 Mac Thornberry, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton and State Senator for District 30 Pat Fallon carried the Wise County vote.

Voters in Aurora passed the local alcohol proposition, as well as the city of Rhome’s sewer improvements bond.

The Wise County Water Supply District’s election to expand its taxing authority into newly-annexed service area failed 777 to 735.

Woman arrested for embezzling more than $500,000

Robin Anne Garrett, 46, of Bridgeport was charged with theft greater than $300,000, a first degree felony; theft $150,000 to $300,000, a second degree felony; and theft $2,500 to $30,000 enhanced, a third degree felony.

She was accused of embezzling more than a half-million dollars from James Wood; his son, Raymond Wood; and daughter Janetta Killen.

Garrett served as a certified public accountant employed to handle personal business accounts for the family and not the car dealership accounts. She was also the campaign treasurer for her husband, incoming Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Willie Garrett, who was elected to the position Nov. 6.

Murder indictment handed down

Marie Kendale Kimani, 35, of Rhome was indicted by a Wise County grand jury for the murder of her ex-husband, Jonathan Tumbo, 40.

Officers responded to Kimani’s home in the 12600 block of Forest Lawn Road in the Shale Creek neighborhood east of Rhome the night of Sept. 14 after receiving a report of a possible suicide. Wise County sheriff’s deputies located Tumbo dead with a single gunshot wound to the chest inside the master bedroom closet.

Decatur volleyball wins third title

The Lady Eagles claimed the class 4A state title, dethroning defending champion Needville, 25-12, 21-25, 27-25, 25-18, at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

It was the program’s third state title since 2012.

Sophomore setter Makenna Gantt finished with nine kills, dished out 16 assists and made three blocks to earn the MVP of the title match.

Decatur finished the season 38-11.

Boyd fell in the 3A title match to Callisburg in four sets.

BY THE NUMBERS

55.84 percent of Wise County registered voters turned out to cast a vote in the Nov. 6 midterm election. It was the largest midterm turnout since 1990.

15 straight state appearances by the Decatur girls cross country team, which this year finished as the runner-up in 4A.

3 Wise County firefighters – Brandon Woodward, Michael McComis and Van Wakefield – answered the call to head to California to battle the massive, deadly wildfires.

100 approximate murders linked to Samuel Little, who was housed at Wise County Jail as investigators from around the nation interviewed him about cold cases.

21 degrees, the low temperature registered Nov. 14 by Decatur weather observer Doyle Green. For the month, the average low was 38.6 degrees and average high was 62. Just 1.19 inches of rain was recorded.

QUOTABLE

“Tell me where to sign Greg!”
Developer Bob Shelton to Boyd City Administrator Greg Arrington after the city council gave its consent for Mayor Rodney Holmes to sign the development agreement for the approximately 600-home addition Spring Hill South.

“I just kept saying, with everything that was happening, by the end of the day I want to be married. I’m just happy, beyond happy. It all just came together. I could never imagine I would have a wedding like this here. I just thought we were going to get married on my gurney. It didn’t feel like a hospital wedding to me.”
Christina Crowhurst on her impromptu wedding in the chapel at Wise Health System after falling ill just before her wedding date.

“[People with special needs] can do so much more than people give them credit for. All you have to do is believe in them.”
Brenda Cottrell, director of the Community Church of Decatur’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ that will features several actors with special needs.

“Due to the dedicated and tireless work of Ranger [James] Holland and the Texas Rangers, [Samuel] Little will be confirmed as one of, it not the most, prolific serial killers in U.S. history.”
Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland on Little, who was housed in the Wise County Jail while being interrogated about cold cases around the nation.

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Senior, Decatur catches region title; Bedford turns in big game

Senior, Decatur catches region title; Bedford turns in big game


No Stopping

NO STOPPING – Decatur wide receiver Beau Bedford hauled in nine catches for 142 yards in the Eagles’ 38-28 win over Hereford Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Decatur senior Beau Bedford entered the third round of the playoffs last week with a Class 4A best 1,487 receiving yards.

The Eagles’ top weapon on the outside had been lethal all season, but against Hirschi he was limited to just five yards on one catch – his lowest total of the year. Bedford wasn’t fazed.

“The testament to Beau Bedford, really, was that last week they did everything they could to take him away,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “They pressed him and had a guy over the top of him. He had one catch when that game was over, and he couldn’t care less. All he cared about was we beat Hirschi and were moving on to this game.

“That’s why Beau has been such a productive receiver.”

Thursday in the 4A Division I quarterfinal, Bedford was back to making spectacular, highlight reel plays. He finished with 142 yards and a touchdown on nine catches, including a 37-yard score to put Decatur up 31-14 late in the third quarter.

By night’s end, Bedford increased his season totals to 1,629 yards and 15 touchdowns on 112 receptions.

Bedford was quick to credit those around him for his success.

“It all comes from practice. Everyone pushes each other,” Bedford said. “My teammates make me better. My teammates made me into who I am today.”

After Thursday’s performance, Bedford is averaging 116.4 yards and 1.1 touchdowns per game. Junior quarterback Roman Fuller has completed 325 passes this season, and 34.5 percent of them have gone to Bedford.

Coach Fuller said he’s coached plenty of receivers who may be faster or bigger, but conceded Bedford stands out for one simple reason.

“You can’t find a kid in Decatur who doesn’t love Beau Bedford. I can promise you that,” Fuller said. “He’s so special.”

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Lack of leadership: Dysfunction at DISD not halting success of students, teachers


Here’s the good news about the Decatur school system.

Despite the dysfunction at the administration building and on the school board, dedicated teachers and students are doing quite well.

Decatur Economic Director Corporation Executive Director Thom Lambert hosted a luncheon a few weeks ago for several Decatur business leaders involved in manufacturing, health care and construction. The goal was to introduce Sheila McCollom, the district’s career and technology education coordinator. She brought with her vocational agriculture teacher Dusty Naumann and high school counselor Kristi Phipps.

Roy J. Eaton

For more than an hour these talented and dedicated teachers told us about their programs, enlisted our help to make them better and, most importantly, talked about the talented kids they have the pleasure of teaching.

The high school principal and superintendent were there and said they supported the program. The superintendent talked about more classroom space needed for these technical, engineering and vocational programs.

I mentioned that those classrooms and laboratories might be just as important as additional athletic facilities, which are also under consideration.

But it’s important to know that the Decatur school district has $14.7 million in reserves with $5.986 million set aside for construction projects. Of the total reserves, $2.8 million is restricted and another $6.9 million is unassigned. The district tries to keep three months of operating costs on hand in reserves, which would be $7.762 million.

Let’s contrast the success of the academic, vocational and athletic programs with what is happening at the administration building and at school board meetings.

A group of parents recently came before the school board concerned about the safety and security of their children. The board sits there like a bump on a log and says nothing to the parents. They do so under a misguided notion that they can’t respond to someone on an item “not on the agenda.” Well, guess what, school safety was on the agenda at that meeting.

The parents must have finally struck a nerve because the head of school safety resigned a few days later. And did you see the list of responsibilities that administrator had? Even Superman, Batman and Robin together couldn’t handle a job like that overseeing everything from handling school buses to student discipline.

When he left, the superintendent divided that gargantuan responsibility between another administrator and herself. We’ll see if anyone is hired to take on those tasks.

Our editor, who covers the Decatur School Board meetings, says that board members rarely, if ever, discuss any issue publicly. Surely they have questions about something. Maybe they settle it all in secret sessions but that does nothing to build public trust.

Two members of the board who often raise questions – Wade Watson and Matt Joiner – are often ignored because they got on the “bad-guy list” when they questioned the work of the superintendent. I think they went about it the wrong way, and they might agree, but for the rest of the board to ignore the problems at the administration building – which we are told involve highly paid administrators barely speaking to each other is ludicrous.

Despite all this dysfunction, look at the success of our kids academically and athletically. First in state in volleyball and boys cross country, second in state for girls cross country, deep into the playoffs for the football team, top state honors for FFA programs and the list goes on and on.

The team that Sheila McCollum has put together for vocational and technical training works hand-in-hand with teachers who work on the more “academic” side of educating our kids – math, science, English, Spanish, fine arts and more. The fact that students are able to successfully blend all this along with athletics and be highly successful is a direct result of the hundreds of hard-working teachers DISD is fortunate to have despite a revolving door of principals at almost every campus.

I’m almost certain that when the spring UIL competition comes along, the academic side will bring home top honors like our athletic teams and vocational agriculture teams have brought home to Eagle Country.

Can the dysfunction at the administrative level and on the school board be fixed? Darned if I know, but from my perspective it doesn’t look good.

Under state regulations, the elected school board doesn’t run the day-to-day operations of the school. Their key job is to evaluate the superintendent who then evaluates the administrative staff who then evaluates the teachers and makes recommendations to the school board. It is not against the rules for the board to publicly discuss some of those recommendations.

The students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve better from the administration and the school board. Perhaps the May school board election will make a difference.

Roy Eaton is the owner and publisher of the Wise County Messenger.

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Sherron Lea Dickie


Sherron Lea Dickie, 73, of Decatur, died Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in Decatur.

Memorial will be held at a later date.

Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur is handling arrangements.

Sherron was born March 25, 1945, in Mineral Wells to Harry and Margaret (Whatley) Riley. She was a graduate of Mineral Wells High School and Tarleton State University. Sherron retired from teaching after more than 23 years. She was a member of Frist Christian Church in Mineral Wells.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sister Pam Riley; and daughter Janis Lindbloom.

She is survived by her daughter, Pam Miller of Decatur; grandchildren Scott Miller and Meghan Elliott, of Decatur and Lexi Lindbloom of Fort Worth; one great-grandchild.

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Ruth Weatherly Fellers


Ruth Weatherly Fellers

Ruth Weatherly Fellers, 91, of Decatur, died Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Decatur.

Funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur with the Rev. Todd Blair officiating.

Pallbearers are Kevin Loraus, David Loraus, T.J. Weatherly, Brady Weatherly, Shane Stegall, Stone Stegall, Justin Loraus and Jacob Loraus.

Ruth was born May 19, 1927, in Chico to Kinney and Edith (Anderson) Odell. She married James Harold “Shotgun” Fellers in May 1969, in Decatur.

Ruth was a retired nurse. She was one of the first nurses at Decatur Hospital. She was a member of the Mule club. Ruth was well known in Thackerville, Okla.

She was preceded in death by two daughters; a sister; three brothers; her first husband in 1968, Herman “Cowboy” Weatherly; and second husband in 2017, James H. “Shotgun” Fellers.

She is survived by her daughters, Carolyn Grady of Decatur and Beverly Deaton and husband, Mike, of Lake Bridgeport; son Tommy Weatherly and wife, Melba, of Paradise; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; sisters Margaret Wilson and husband, Tom, of Boyd and Faye Guthrie of Sun City West, Ariz.; and brother Bobby Odell and wife, Linda, of Bridgeport.

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James Henry Morrow


James Henry Morrow

James Henry Morrow, 72, died Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Decatur.

Hawkins Funeral Home in Bridgeport is handling arrangements.

James was born Oct. 13, 1946, in Fort Worth to Clyde Clement and Dorothy (Newton) Morrow. He married Zetta Ann Akin Oct. 22, 1966, in White Settlement.

James served in the United States Air Force and was a master sergent when he retired. He was a mason.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and one brother.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years; daughters LeeAnn Gilliland and husband, Michael, of Alvord and Laura Miller and fianc , Ronald Ballard, of Alvord; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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Rolando Rosa Jr.


Rolando Rosa, Jr.

Rolando Rosa, Jr., 55, of Decatur, died Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Decatur.

Services are 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Victory Family Church in Decatur with the Rev. Allen Bates officiating. Burial will follow in Oaklawn Cemetery in Decatur.

Pallbearers are Tito Garcia, Daniel Rosa, Estevan Rosa, Michael Ramos, Matthew Ramos and Moses Ramos.

Honorary pallbearers are Jaime Rosa and Paco Aranda.

Jones Family Funeral Home in Decatur is handling arrangements.

Rolando was born Sept. 18, 1963, in Hobbs, N.M., to Rolando and Consuelo (Calvillo) Rosa. He went to school in Hobbs. Rolando married Jessica Juarez July 4, 2009, in Decatur.

He was preceded in death by his mother.

He is survived by his wife; father; daughters Monica Garcia and husband, Tito, of Hobbs and Bianca Aranda and husband, Paco, of Hobbs; sons Estevan Rosa of Austin and Michael, Matthew and Moses Ramos of Decatur; sisters Irma Aguirre and Juanita Perez of Midland and Gloria Santos of Seguin; brothers Martin and Louis Grimaldo of Phoenix, Ariz., and Jaime and Daniel Rosa of Hobbs; four grandchildren; and mother-in-law Debbie Owen of Hobbs.

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Felix Emanuel Flores


Emanuel and Teresa Flores of Decatur announce the birth of a son, Felix Emanuel, Dec. 3, 2018, at Wise Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 19 inches long.

Grandparents are Reynaldo and Lilia Flores of Decatur and Aurelia and Maria Rangel of Laredo.

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