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WEEKEND EDITION INSIDE: Paradise runners stepping up their game, see page 4B

VOLUME 133 - NO. 90

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2012

DECATUR, TEXAS

24 PAGES IN 2 SECTIONS PLUS INSERTS

75¢

America’s costliest war

INSIDE ...

HONORING VETERANS

Veterans Day is Sunday, Nov. 11, and special events are planned in Decatur, Rhome and Alvord. See page 10A. To read stories featuring veterans Don Brown and W.B. Woodruff, see pages 3A and 12A.

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n 1971, President Richard Nixon declared War on Drugs. In the 41 years since then, the United States has arrested and imprisoned millions of citizens, spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in a war that, by almost any measure, has been lost. Today there is more drug use, more violence and higher rates of incarceration than could have been imagined in 1971. Illegal drugs are easy to obtain in most U.S. cities and even small towns. Meanwhile, “designer”

drugs continue to appear, and prescription medications continue to be abused, resulting in more addiction and death. The dollar costs to society are staggering, but the human costs are even

higher. Drug addiction not only fills jails and prisons, it ruins lives, breaks up families and sentences children into a cycle of poverty and continuing drug abuse. Prisons provide little in the way of rehabilitation, and only a fraction of those who need treatment actually get it. Last Tuesday, two states — Colorado and Washington — voted to legalize marijuana and regulate it essentially like alcohol. Over the next two weeks, the Wise

County Messenger will examine the War on Drugs from several viewpoints: law enforcement, the addict, the problem of prescription drug abuse, rehabilitation and the drive to legalize. The story of this war, like any other, is the story of people: police and prosecutors, users and abusers, reformers and rehabbers, prisoners and families — all of them warriors, victims, or collateral damage in what is, by any measure, America’s costliest war.

INSIDE ...

DIABETES DIAGNOSIS

Fifth-grader Justina Ravenstein of Decatur is managing her newly diagnosed type I diabetes with the help of a neighbor who recognizes the importance of sharing a story. See page 9A.

Photo illustration by Joe Duty and

INSIDE ...

ELECTION ROUNDUP

The election has come and gone, but local folks are still talking numbers. To read a story of election highlights and more about the Northwest bond election, see page 11A. There is also a story on the Paradise City Council election on page 6A.

WEATHER...

‘Drugs are bad, but the war is worse’ By BOB BUCKEL Rusty White of Bridgeport was a soldier in the War on Drugs — a “narc dog” handler, correctional officer and police sniper. Now he’s fighting against “prohibition” and working for an end to the drug war. White, who retired from law enforcement, is a voice for the legalization and regulation of drugs as a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). He’s on their speakers’ bureau and seizes every opportunity to state his case that the War on Drugs is a lost cause. “I’ve buried family members over this stuff,” he says. “I’ve bur-

ied fellow officers over it. After 45 years, and a trillion dollars later, with more people in prison than any other country, we’re still at square one. “Our organization is not for drugs,” he adds. “That’s a misconception. We’re for backing up, taking the emotion out of it, the hype, 40 years of propaganda and mind conditioning, and approaching the problem straight up. Let the facts fall where they may.” The facts are staggering. Here are just a few: There is a drug arrest every 19 seconds in the U.S. Of the more than 1.6 million drug arrests in 2009, 82 percent were for possession alone.

The U.S. government estimates that more than 118 million Americans above the age of 12 — 47 percent of the population — admit to using illegal drugs. One out of every 100 American adults is behind bars in jail or prison, and the U.S. houses nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population. It goes on and on. White is not alone. The LEAP website reports that three out of four American voters say the war on drugs is a failure and cites a survey by the National Association of Chiefs of Police that says Continued on page 2A

DECATUR

Disabled veteran finds solace in shooting INDEX Crime Report... 3A Sports ...............1B Opinion ........... 4A Classifieds.........5B Obits .............. 10A

A different type of rehab

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What's covered TODAY: ‘Drugs are bad, but the war is worse’ WEDNESDAY: Ruined: A life on drugs NEXT SATURDAY: Prescription addiction NEXT WEDNESDAY: Escaping the trap

WISE COUNTY

Timing of office abolishment questioned By KRISTEN TRIBE

Messenger photo by Joe Duty • Buy reprints at wcmessenger.com/reprints

Davey Edwards is wondering if he’ll hold the position of Wise County surveyor for two seconds or two EDWARDS years. Although voters approved the proposition to abolish the post in Tuesday’s general election, there is a question as to when that will take place.

CLAY PIGEONS — Targets and shotgun shells sit on the ground. Veteran Tim Seckel, of Continued on page 10A Newark, uses shooting as his therapy.

Continued on page 8A

By BRANDON EVANS

Wise County Messenger P.O. Box 149 115 South Trinity Decatur, Texas 76234 www.wcmessenger.com

Jimmy Alford

He knew the lieutenant for five hours. But a tattoo on his right bicep ensures he’ll remember him for the rest of his life. Tim Seckel, 39, of Newark recalls the incident like it was yesterday. Seckel, called Pops, was a Calvary Scout in the U.S. Army. He


2A

WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drugs are ... Continued from page 1A 82 percent of police chiefs and sheriffs agree that the war on drugs has not been successful in reducing drug use. You can count Wise County Sheriff David Walker in that number. “When people ask me, ‘Are we winning the war on drugs? Are we going to win the war on drugs?’ The answer is no, and no,” he says. “There’s always somebody that’s going to try to do something illegal. What we want to do is be proactive, rather than reactive to whatever that may be.” But Walker is also quite sure that drug use is damaging, both to individuals and to society. “Get addicted to meth, and your chances of living past 40 are pretty slim,” he says. “If you see marijuana use, you’re going to see people move on to other drugs. It’s a catalyst to get stuff going.” The war on drugs is a “big circle,” Walker says. “Drug use leads to drug addiction, then you’ve got a thief, a burglar, a robber to support their habit. Probably about 80 to 85 percent of our arrests are drug-related.” Former Wise County District Attorney Barry Green, now a defense attorney, would peg it a little lower. “If you include alcohol, drug- and alcohol-related crime is probably 70 percent of all crime,” he says. “Domestic violence — it’s hard to find one that some kind of substance isn’t involved. Burglaries and thefts, prescription fraud, forgeries, calling in fake prescriptions. Most crime is drug-related.” Push for legalization Like White, Green said he would also support legalization, particularly of marijuana, as a means of defusing the drug war. That, he said, would be the “safest experiment” you could try. An increasing number of Americans agree. On Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington passed ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana and regulate it much like alcohol, and Massachusetts became the 18th state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize the medical use of marijuana since 1996. Walker said Texas is unlikely to follow suit anytime soon — and he predicts some epic court battles if the trend continues. “It’s still against federal law,” he said. “I think that’s a bad decision on the part of a bunch of people who basically just want to indulge a habit. There’s a lot of issues in Colorado they’re going to have to deal with. That just opens the door.” So far, the federal government’s stance is that marijuana is an illegal drug and violaters of federal drug laws will be vigorously prosecuted. A sizeable group of people pays a heavy human toll for that stance, White says. “Our kids now — you get one arrest, no more federal money for school,” he says. “You get a lifetime record, and that means meaningful employment is out the window. That’s what’s so bad about this. “People are still going to make a living and provide for their families and try to achieve,” he adds. “If you only leave them the dark side to do that in, that’s what they’re going to take.

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SPEAKING HIS MIND — Rusty White of Bridgeport retired from law enforcement and is a voice for the legalization and regulation of drugs as a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). All we’ve done is create a second-class society out here, that’s going to find a way to make a living. “They’re not just going to die and go away.” Walker says his deputies are not eager to arrest people for small amounts of marijuana. But often the evidence shows more than just personal, recreational use. “A lot of times, you catch somebody on a traffic stop with the butt of a roach,” he says. “Do you really want to put them in jail? No. You write them a ticket for possession of paraphernalia and send them on their way. “But if you also see a bag of meth and $40,000 cash, or 4 or 5 pounds of marijuana, well, that’s not personal use. They’re in business, and that $40,000 is forfeited and they’re in jail.” According to LEAP, there are at least 346,605 people serving sentences in state and federal prisons for drug possession or sales in the U.S. (including more than half the entire federal inmate population). There were also 767,620 inmates held in local jails in the

Follow the money Both the problem and the solution are wrapped up in money. It’s estimated that mari-

ons — they’re people ranches for profit. They make a living off of putting people behind bars.” Walker says Wise County tries to make the best use of its funds, and use them to “go after the big stuff” and not the small-time criminals. “We try to get help from all fronts,” he says. “The DEA works up here with us, the FBI, DPS state narcotics — we don’t see as many meth labs as we have in years past, but we still get a lot of drugs.” Walker says the drugs coming into Wise County now can often be traced back to the Metroplex, and from there back to the cartels in Mexico. “We recently made an arrest in Chico and got meth, stolen goods and drugs from Haltom City,” he said. “We placed an order, and they delivered — to our SWAT team. That’s not who they expected to be on the other side of that door. That operation was connected to a cartel.” It’s personal White prefers to make the argument from a personal level. He’s talking about legalizing drugs for personal use, and staying out of people’s business. “In my opinion, if people minded their own business a lot more, we’d all be a lot better off,” White said. “If you make choices that I wouldn’t make, and you keep them to yourself, that’s none of my business. “If you let your personal choices come out into society and affect other people, then you should be slapped in the dirt for being stupid, and you should not be able to use the excuse ‘Drugs made me do it.’” That’s another area where Walker and White happen to agree. “I think most TexWalker ans would probably agree,” Walker says. “If someone wants to do that behind closed doors, that’s their problem. Just don’t bring it around my kids. I think that’s the general consensus of Wise County. Do what you want to do with that door shut

Get addicted to meth, and your chances of living past 40 are pretty slim. If you see marijuana use, you’re going to see people move on to other drugs. It’s a catalyst to get stuff going. — Sheriff David

juana provides 65 to 70 percent of the funding for Mexico’s murderous drug cartels. Illegal drug sales are also a key component of the funding for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. One of the driving forces behind legalization is financial: legalize it, regulate it and tax it, and stop funding all those foreign bad guys. “You don’t see anybody hiding in an alley trying to sell you a bottle of beer,” White says. “You don’t see that. It’d be the same thing again. That’s how they make their — Barry Green money. While it’s Defense Attorney illegal, it’s worth more than gold.” On the other U.S. in 2009, and in 2002 side, an enormous amount (the most recent year of- of money goes into fightfense data was collected), ing drugs. Those arrests, possessing or selling drugs property and cash seizures, raids was the most serious crime middle-of-the-night committed by a quarter of and shootouts call for multijail inmates. An unknown million dollar jails and prisnumber are incarcerated for ons, high-tech equipment, property crimes used to pay and armies of drug enforcfor illegal drugs or violent ers who have become more disputes for control of the military units than police officers. market. “You look at every comDecriminalizing marijuana would not free all those munity around, jail houses people, but it would make a and courthouses are the bigsignificant dent in the U.S. gest buildings in them, and prison population going for- that’s sad,” White said. “Our prisons are no longer prisward.

Most marijuana arrests come out of traffic stops — if people would keep it out of their car, they could probably use it from now on at home and never get bothered.

dy. Marijuana users tend to stay at home and do that there. “Most marijuana arrests come out of traffic stops — if people would keep it out of their car, they could probably use it from now on at home and never get bothered.” The need for rehab Just like with alcohol, there are some people who cannot limit themselves to occasional use, and have their lives ruined by drug addiction. Another thing most people agree on is that rehabilitation efforts are woefully underfunded and inadequate. Walker says he’s all for rehabilitation, but knows from firsthand experience that a lot of people who want rehabilitation when they’re behind bars skip out on it as soon as they’re back on the street. Nationwide, more people can’t get the rehab they need. According to the LEAP website, federal statistics say that 23.5 million Americans are in need of substance abuse treatment, but only one in 10 receive it. Nationally, spending on enforcement grew by 69.7 percent over the past nine years, while spending on treatment and prevention grew by only 13.9 percent. “It ought to be as easy to get help as it is to go to jail,” White says. “Go try to get into a clinic, and you don’t have insurance. It’s an 18-month waiting list. If you’ve got a drug problem you can’t wait 18 months. “Not everybody goes stupid,” he adds. “There’s a percentage that goes stupid and let their choices get ahold of them. And they need help. They don’t need jail or prison. They need medical help.”

Time for a discussion? Mostly what White, LEAP and others would like to see the drug war come under fresh scrutiny. “We don’t know the answers,” he says, “but we’ve spent our time in it. All we’re asking for is an honest, open debate from the top down. It needs to start with the president, the congress, they need to have an open discussion about this.” He believes the tide of public opinion is turning on this issue — and election-night results, for the most part, support that belief. “Get somebody to answer this question: If we’ve been on the right path for 45 years, over a trillion tax dollars later, more people behind bars than any other country on earth, would not common sense, fact and reality dictate that the need for more resources, more courts, the harm being done to our people should be going down? “Yet every year, more resources, more people locked — Rusty White up, more harm beLEAP Member ing done. If common sense and reality and the on your house.” Green says marijuana truth won’t support this, users actually tend to keep then why are we? “You’re going to have it to themselves much more people who say ‘I lost my than drinkers. “People say, ‘I don’t want family member to drugs. someone driving around Drugs destroyed my famhigh,’ but if you make all ily.’ Well if this drug war is the same laws applicable, working, why did that still I don’t think you’d see happen? Why is it still hapmuch change,” Green said. pening every day?” “For some reason, alcohol Email Bob at bbuckel@ makes some people want to drive around and get row- wcmessenger.com.

It ought to be as easy to get help as it is to go to jail. Go try to get into a clinic, and you don’t have insurance. It’s an 18-month waiting list. If you’ve got a drug problem, you can’t wait 18 months.

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Roy J. Eaton President & Publisher P.O. Box 149 115 S. Trinity Decatur, TX 76234 940-627-5987 Fax 940-627-1004 www.wcmessenger.com news@wcmessenger.com

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USPS Publication No. 688940 ISSN 0746-8679 The Wise County Messenger (ISSN 0746-8679) is published Wednesday and Saturday by Wise County Messenger, Inc., P.O. Box 149, 115 S. Trinity St., Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. Periodicals class postage paid at Decatur, Texas. Subscription rates: one year in Wise County $37; one year out of county $43; one year out of state $49. An erroneous reflection upon the character, standing or reputation of any firm, person or corporation, which appears in the columns of this paper will be corrected upon due notice given to the publication at the Messenger office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. 940-627-5987. http://www.wcmessenger.com. E-mail: news@wcmessenger.com. © 2012 Wise County Messenger


MIDWEEK EDITION INSIDE: Argyle trips up Lady Eagles on way to state. see page 12A.

VOLUME 133: NO. 91

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2012 DECATUR, TEXAS

32 PAGES IN 3 SECTIONS PLUS INSERTS

75¢

COTTONDALE

Early morning house fire claims elderly man By ERIKA PEDROZA An elderly, handicapped man died in a house fire between Cottondale and Boyd early Sunday morning. Henry Crowson was the only occupant of the singlewide mobile home ravaged

by flames just before 5 a.m. His body was found several hours later. According to a longtime neighbor, “Curly,” as he was affectionately known, had lived on the property on County Road 4594 for almost 40 years.

BRIDGEPORT

Hospital bankruptcy impacts thousands

“My dad and Curly each bought a piece of land on the very same day, back in the ’70s,” Jason Carter said. “I’ve known him my whole life.” Carter discovered the fire around 4:45 a.m. Sunday after being awakened by the wind.

“I thought I heard my shop door opening and closing … I was walking out to the shop, and I could see the flames over the trees,” he said. “I woke up my wife and told her to be ready in case the fire came this way. Then I ran over there. The house

was almost already burned down. I started hollering his name and looking around, hoping he had got out.” Cottondale, Paradise, Newark and Boyd volunteer fire departments responded to the structure fire. When Cottondale units first checked

on scene around 5:20, the single-wide mobile home was fully engulfed. “It was a defensive fire from the beginning,” said Paradise Fire Chief John Neal, whose department as-

Continued on page 3A

BRIDGEPORT

Ruined: A life on drugs

By BOB BUCKEL As planned, North Texas Community Hospital in Bridgeport filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Thursday afternoon in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fort Worth. The bankruptcy filing includes information about more than 2,000 creditors who are “unsecured” and unlikely to receive any payment from the bankrupt hospital. On the list are medical supply companies, insurance providers, local companies, community organizations and a surprisingly high number of individuals scattered throughout the area. The Wise Regional Health System’s board of directors voted Nov. 5 to bid $20 million to purchase the hospital’s assets out of bankruptcy, pending an auction which would be held only if another bidder emerges. Wise Regional’s bid includes a $1 million loan to keep the Bridgeport hospital up and running until the court proceeding runs its course and it can emerge as a branch of the Decatur-based health system. The hospital listed assets between $10 million and $50 million, and liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. The bankruptcy document states that “the debtor estimates that, after any exempt property is excluded and administrative expenses paid, there will be no funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors.” The hospital’s bonded debt is pegged at around $59 million. The hospital’s biggest unsecured debt is to the City of Bridgeport, which guaranteed a line of credit and also extended credit to the hospital for utilities. The hospital owes the city $3,393,580.74 according to the court document. Close behind is the physicians’ group that originally backed the facility, NTCH Guarantors, LLC. Steven Lon-

What's covered

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DAMAGED — A lifetime of drug abuse, highlighted by a four-year binge of cocaine and methamphetamine, have left Tommy Flores bedridden with a host of ailments.

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aturday, we looked at the push for legalization of some drugs, and the high cost of the “war on drugs” the U.S. has waged since 1971. But few of those who support legalization would argue that drug use is a good thing. Today, we narrow the focus and look at the human cost — the price one man has paid and continues to pay for a lifetime of drug abuse. PART 2 of 4 By BRANDON EVANS Frank Flores of Bridgeport looks down at his brother, Tommy. Although Tommy is younger, he looks much older than Frank. He’s bedridden. An oxygen ma-

chine next to him makes rhythmic gasps. A manicured green garden grows in the sunlight, visible from a window looking into the backyard. Deep pale scars run over Tommy’s tan arms. They look like ancient dried up riverbeds on a red lifeless planet. The scars are the result of injecting methamphetamine — crank — into his arms. Tommy, 50, started drinking and smoking cig-

NORTHWEST • RHOME

School bus involved in accident, again

arettes at only 11 years old and spent his early years using and abusing all kinds of drugs. But it wasn’t until he graduated to heavy use of crank and cocaine that his health and well-being spiraled completely out of control, leaving his body ravaged. “It made Frank sick,” Tommy said. “He didn’t want to see my arms, how bad off it was. I had sores all over my arms. I didn’t even care. I didn’t even do it right. I’d just shoot it in anywhere — all over my arms, my legs. “Once I had a friend named Jesse. I remember the first time I saw him shoot up. It made me sick.

Taylor Clayton closes in on the finish line at the state cross country meet in Round Rock Saturday. The Decatur junior finished third overall and led his team to the state title. See the story on page 12A.

A Durham School Services bus transporting Northwest ISD students was involved in an accident in Wise County for the second consecutive Monday morning. This week’s accident caused the closing of Texas 114 East, on the southern edge of Rhome, for about an hour. Investigators say the bus, northbound on County Road 4841, attempted to cross 114 East when it was struck by a passenger car eastbound on 114, around 7:25 Monday morning. The bus driver, Carey Gladden, 38, of Decatur was issued a citation for failing to yield right-of-way. As in last week’s mishap, there were no serious injuries. Three of the 17 children on board were treated

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Continued on page 2A

INDEX Opinion . . . . . . . . . . .4A Obituaries . . . . . . . . .5A Sports . . . . . . . . . . .12A Classifieds. . . . . . . . .5A Wise Business . . . . .11A

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE

After a fight, a couple wandered dark county roads early Saturday morning, and the woman was accidentally run over by her daughter, who was searching for them. See page 6A.

Continued on page 2A

State Champions

By ERIKA PEDROZA

Continued on page 2A

Wise County Messenger P.O. Box 149 115 South Trinity Decatur, Texas 76234 www.wcmessenger.com

‘Drugs are bad, but the war is worse’ TODAY: Ruined: A life on drugs SATURDAY: Prescription addiction NEXT WEDNESDAY: Escaping the trap

LEFT EMPTY-HANDED

Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis said previous city leaders “were scammed” when extending credit to the local hospital, but the $3 million loss was expected. See page 6A.

WEATHER


2A

WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ruined ... Continued from page 1A He used an old dull needle. He was having trouble making it stick. It looked like the dirty of dirty. I told my wife ‘If I ever shoot up, that will be the day I kill myself.’ I never knew one day I’d be shooting up like he would. If someone had told me I’d do it, I’d never believe you.” Tommy has been on that wrong path for a long time. “I started drinking at age 11 and started stealing cars,” Tommy said. “We stole a ’64 Ford Mustang one time and sold all the wheels and tires off it for $5, just enough to buy a carton of cigarettes and a case of beer. It wasn’t nothing to steal a car. “The whole thing started with me smoking pot. I just wanted to try something. Then I graduated to coke and then crank.” He only abused cocaine and crank for four years before they began to destroy his body. He didn’t start shooting up until the last year of that. “By the time I quit, I was doing a sixteenth (half a gram) of crank in the morning and a whole sixteenth again in the evening. That much crank should last you a week. Yet I was barely feeling normal doing that. When I first started doing crank, the high lasted about 10 hours. By the time I stopped doing it, it was about 10 minutes. If I’d done that much to begin with, it would have killed me. But by that point my heart was going so slow, it would only bring my heart rate to normal. So really I was functioning at a normal level. Not at a super-high level like you’d think. “It got so bad I started stealing again,” Tommy added. “It’s ironic. When you’re on drugs, I don’t know how you do it, but you can make $150 a day. When you’re sober and you aren’t on drugs you can’t make $150 in two or three days ... I had no reservation stealing from somebody or writing a hot check. I didn’t care about the consequences.” Tommy said there were different kinds of meth out there. But by the end he wanted the crystal form, also known as ice, because it was easy to melt down and inject. “Then all my teeth started falling out,” Tommy said. “I couldn’t breathe. I got infections, and I was in the hospital for three-and-a-half months. I

Roy J. Eaton President & Publisher P.O. Box 149 115 S. Trinity Decatur, TX 76234 940-627-5987 Fax 940-627-1004 www.wcmessenger.com news@wcmessenger.com

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DIFFERENT PATHS — Despite growing up in the same environment, Frank Flores, of Bridgeport, never used drugs like his younger brother of Tommy, of Fort Worth.

have bipolar disorder; my kidneys have shut down. I had about six or seven congestive heart failures in the past few years. I had a heart attack a few months ago. My lungs are shot. “Now I’m paying the ultimate price for a few years of good times — what I thought was good times. I’m paying for it dearly. Not a day goes by I don’t wish I had it to do over.” Despite the years of drug abuse, Tommy was never arrested on drug charges, only for activity caused by the drug abuse, such as stealing and assault. “I’ve done some time but never for drugs,” he said. “And I did spend some time in mental facilities because I lost touch with reality. I attacked a sheriff and cut him up. “They say the threat of being punished will keep you from doing something bad. But once you get punished and you know how it feels, it no longer intimidates you. It no longer discourages you ... It gets to the point where you want to get caught so you can get locked up and get to dry out for a few days.” Nature versus nurture It’s hard to know what made Tommy different. He has three sisters and a brother who never abused any type

of drugs. His older brother Frank, who now looks like a younger brother, runs his own window cleaning service out of Bridgeport. “We had the same father,” said Frank Flores. “He has three sisters that are the salt of the Earth.” Their parents were migrant workers. They traveled all over America, to Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma, anywhere to pick fruits and vegetables, before they settled down in Fort Worth when the kids were still young. “He was harder on Frank,” Tommy said of his father. “I had the leeway. Frank was older and got blamed for everything. I had the freedom to do what I wanted. By getting away with it, I went too far. “My kids never do any drugs,” he added. “They don’t even take aspirin. They’ve never been in trouble with the law. They don’t even get tickets.” Tommy had his own successful business at one time, too, and was a good carpenter. “I started my own business,” Tommy said. “I had the ambition, but drinking got the better out of me. My father only gave me one compliment my whole life. I don’t care who you are, if you don’t have anybody pushing you and telling you

what you’re doing is making them proud, then nobody appreciates it. What’s the point?” But Frank believes people are responsibile for their own actions. “I’m sick and tired of people blaming the environment,” Frank said. “We all make our choices, regardless of where we come from.” And the actions of a drug abuser most hurt the ones they love the most. “My wife never drank, never smoked, never did drugs,” Tommy said. “I stole and sold her jewelry before. I sold her hutch and dining table, just to give me a high.” At one point a drug dealer put a gas bomb in his station wagon. He called the fire department. They found the bomb under the car and another 5 gallons of gasoline under the front seat. “Drug addicts don’t just leave it out in the world,” Frank said. “They bring it home.” “I used to think what you do is your own business,” Tommy said. “I’m not forcing it on you. It’s just me — it’s my own body. But it is other people’s business. You’re still my brother, you’re still my wife, you’re still my father, you’re still my sister. You make justifications. You think it can’t get no worse, but believe me,

it does. “I saw what it was doing to my wife. I saw what it was doing to me.” No life at all Tommy lies in a bed almost all day now, his body connected to machines. The garden still grows out back. Weeding the garden, watching things grow, one of the things besides getting high that once brought him joy, is now out of reach. His only hope is to live long enough to see his grandchildren grow up, even though the ghost of drug abuse and the high that comes with it lingers. “I still long for the good feeling it gives you,” Tommy said. “I thought about it today. I could call and get it delivered to me. But all I have to do is think about what it’s done to my health and my family already. And I have a 3-year-old granddaughter I want to see grow up. “I might live another 10 or 15 years, God willing, but this is the worst life of all. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I’d rather shoot the man. One way dead off the bat, the other way he suffers the rest of his life.” Email Brandon at bevans@ wcmessenger.com.

Hospital bankruptcy ...

School bus ...

Continued from page 1A

Continued from page 1A

gacre, M.D. is the addressee on the court document. The hospital owes the group $3,107,724.23 under an agreed judgement. Only one other creditor tops the half-million mark — and that is the hospital’s own employee health plan, which has a payment of $567,165.62 outstanding. The rest of the top 20 includes only three local creditors. Charlene Blaylock, CRNA, is owed $275,000 on a loan she made to the hospital. West 380 MOB, LLC — the medical office building adjacent to the hospital — is owed $137,766 in rent. And Dr. Scott Stowers, D.O., of Bridgeport is owed $53,550 in professional fees. Other “Top 20” unsecured creditors include: 4) $357,408.67 to Boston Scientific Corp., Dallas, trade debt; 6) $240,110.08 to Century Link, Phoenix, Ariz., utilities; 7) $188,740.00 to Hospira, Dallas, agreed judgment; 9) $122,809.25 to Bridge

Staffing Inc., Mobile, Ala., contract labor; 10) $110,000.00 to Quorum Health Resources, LLC, Brentwood, Tenn., arbitration award; 11) $106,907.26 to Johnson & Johnson, Chicago, Ill., trade debt; 12) $91,125.86 to Hunton & Williams, Dallas, attorney fees; 13) $81,687.26 to Owens and Minor, Dallas, trade debt; 14) $79,594.20 to Texas Hospital Insurance Exchange, Austin, insurance premium; 15) $65,794.45 to Medical Solutions Inc., Omaha, Neb., contract labor; 16) $57,678.20 to Arthrex, Atlanta, Ga., trade debt; 18) $52,950.00 to Meditech, Chicago, Ill., trade debt; 19) $52,844.00 to Vaughn Construction, Houston, trade debt; 20) $50,000.00 to Hollingsworth Walker, Nona B. Walker, Dallas, settlement agreement. Altogether, the top 20 unsecured creditors are owed nearly $9.2 million. NTCH opened in September of 2008 and has

been in default to its bondholders since May of 2009. Given the bid by Wise Regional, even those bondholders will likely see less than a third of their original investment returned. The hospital has 35 beds and sits on approximately 19 acres. The county’s growing population and Wise Regional’s ongoing growth make it a good fit for the home-based health system. The NTCH facility could be expanded to a third floor and another 35 beds if needed, and the adjoining property makes it even more attractive. A key component of WRHS’s bid is that the hospital remain open and merge into the new system as an “up-and-running” entity. Neither hospital’s CEO expects another bidder to emerge, but if one did, an auction would be held by mid-January according to the timetable approved by WRHS directors last week. The asset sale should be approved by around Jan. 17 and the sale transaction should be completed by around March 20. Email Bob at bbuckel@ wcmessenger.com.

on scene for bumps and bruises, and the driver of the passenger car, Bridget Pittman, 35, of Alvord was transported to Wise Regional Health System with chest and ankle pain. An alternate bus took the students to Prairie View Elementary School shortly after the accident. But the students were

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taken back to the scene so they could all be identified for the incident report, Rhome Police Sgt. Thomas Pennington said. Students were back at school around 8:30. The accident remains under investigation as investigators review onboard camera footage.

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Nedrow named Boyd High principal

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By BRANDON EVANS On Monday night the Boyd School Board voted 6-0 to appoint Scott Newdrow as high school principal. Nedrow was hired as assistant principal in July. But a couple of months later, the board appointed BHS Principal Ted West as superintendent, leaving a void at the high school. “I’m very exicted,” Nedrow said of the board’s decision. “We need to make

improvements on student achievement, and we have to ensure college and career readiness for all our graduates.” Before coming to Boyd ISD in the summer, Nedrow had worked at a couple of large neighboring districts. He was special education coordinator at Fort Worth ISD and worked as a teacher and a coach at Northwest ISD. Email Brandon at bevans@wcmessenger.com.

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USPS Publication No. 688940 ISSN 0746-8679 The Wise County Messenger (ISSN 0746-8679) is published Wednesday and Saturday by Wise County Messenger, Inc., P.O. Box 149, 115 S. Trinity St., Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. Periodicals class postage paid at Decatur, Texas. Subscription rates: one year in Wise County $37; one year out of county $43; one year out of state $49. An erroneous reflection upon the character, standing or reputation of any firm, person or corporation, which appears in the columns of this paper will be corrected upon due notice given to the publication at the Messenger office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. 940-627-5987. http://www.wcmessenger.com. E-mail: news@wcmessenger.com. © 2012 Wise County Messenger


WEEKEND EDITION INSIDE: Basketball is in full swing, check out game roundups. See page 3B

VOLUME 133 - NO. 92

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2012

DECATUR, TEXAS

20 PAGES IN 2 SECTIONS PLUS INSERTS

75¢

PARADISE

INSIDE ...

Man pleads guilty to murder

BUILT WITH LOVE

Following the death of her husband, Laura Blaylock’s church family helped oversee the construction of a new home for her and her five children. See page 11A.

INSIDE ...

SPIRIT OF THE SEASON

Bridgeport reorganized its Spirit of Christmas campaign last year. It was so well-received, leaders plan to use the voucher system again. See page 5A.

This story contains graphic descriptions of a brutal murder, which some may find offensive. By BRANDON EVANS More than a year after deputies discovered a gruesome murder scene in Paradise, Mark Schomburg, 52, pled guilty to the crime.

SCHOMBURG

WHISENANT

Late last summer, in the middle of the worst drought and heat wave in North Texas history, Wise County Sheriff’s

personnel responded to a call at a farm house on County Road 3332, between Bridgeport and Paradise, on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011. The heat that day crawled to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, tying a record high. In a white metal barn at the end of the long gravel driveway, investigators found the decomposing

body of Susan L. Whisenant, 47, of Lincoln County, Mo. It took the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office several days to positively identity Whisenant. Although she’d been dead only three days, the intense heat had caused rapid decomposition. After investigators found the body, they found Schomburg hiding in the attic of

the home. He’s been in Wise County Jail ever since under a $2 million bond. At noon Wednesday, he entered the Decatur courtroom of Judge John Fostel. Shackled and wearing a gray and white striped one-piece jail uniform, a hunched-over Schomburg shuffled before the judge. His

Continued on page 2A

Addiction by prescription: Drug abuse often starts with a prescribed pill

INSIDE ...

FOR THE KIDS

The Wise County Toy Run will roar through Wise County for the 13th year Sunday, Dec. 2. See page 3A.

INSIDE ...

DIGITAL DOLLARS

A federal grant totaling almost $900,000 will enable local fire departments to buy digital radio equipment and be compatible with a new countywide radio system. See page 6A. Messenger photo by Joe Duty • Buy reprints at wcmessenger.com/reprints

WEATHER...

LEGAL BUT LETHAL — The Centers for Disease Control says deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the last 10 years. In 2010, about 12 million Americans ages 12 and older reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year, according to the CDC.

I

What's covered

n the first two parts of the series, “America’s Costliest War” we have looked at the issue of legalization and the human cost to one man who has spent much of his adult life addicted to drugs. Today’s third installment in the series looks at the issue of prescription medication through the eyes of a local high school student, who unwittingly became addicted to a prescribed painkiller and overcame the habit with the help of a teacher.

Editor’s note: A local high school student was interviewed as part of this story. A false name is used in this story to protect his identity. PART 3 of 4 By BRIAN KNOX Ross is a good student. He makes good grades and has taken on leadership roles among his peers. So it was a bit of a surprise when a teacher pulled him aside one day and pointed out something even he wasn’t aware of. He was addicted to pain relievers. “I didn’t really connect it to addiction. It

INDEX Crime Report... 5A Sports ...............1B Opinion ........... 4A Classifieds.........4B Obits .............. 10A

was just the feeling of no feeling, not really feeling anything, just being stress-free and totally relaxed,” he said. The drug that gave him that relaxed feeling was hydrocodone, one of the most commonly-prescribed pain killers on the market, and also one of the most-abused. Like many who find themselves addicted to prescription medication, Ross’ introduction to the drug was through legitimate means. An accident had left him with a severe break in his arm. A doctor prescribed hydrocodone to help relieve the pain following surgery. For about a month to a month-and-a-half, Ross used the medication like the doctor

‘Drugs are bad, but the war is worse’ Ruined: A life on drugs TODAY: Prescription addiction WEDNESDAY: Escaping the trap

prescribed it — for pain relief. But eventually he found himself craving the drug, even when no pain was present. “I would fake pain during class to go and get Continued on page 2A

LAKE BRIDGEPORT

Officers search for missing Sunset woman Wise County Messenger P.O. Box 149 115 South Trinity Decatur, Texas 76234 www.wcmessenger.com

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By KRISTEN TRIBE Local law enforcement officers were searching the Sid Richardson Boy Scout Ranch near Lake Bridgeport Friday, looking for a Sunset woman who’s been missing for two weeks. Samantha McNorton, 28, was allegedly last seen Nov. 2 with David Malone, 29, of

Bowie at the One Stop in Runaway Bay. Family members reported her missing to Richland Hills MCNORTON Police Department, where she had recently spent time, Nov. 13. Capt. Kevin Benton with

the Wise County Sheriff’s Office said they had also received information that she may MALONE have been seen in the Springtown area sometime after Nov. 2. “There are many, many

leads to follow,” he said. Malone was arrested Thursday night and booked into the Parker County Jail. He is charged with sexual assault and assault of a family or household member. His previous convictions enhance the charges. He was arrested in Callisburg. Parker County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Danie Huff-

man could not confirm whether McNorton is the assault victim in the charge against Malone. Wise County’s Capt. Benton said they were searching the Boy Scout Ranch because it is near where McNorton was allegedly last seen, and they have been told Malone and

Continued on page 3A


2A

WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Saturday, November 17, 2012

Addiction by ... Continued from page 1A

the pill and take it,” he said. “No one knew I was faking it just to get the feel of the hydrocodone. It happened at home as well. I would fake pain so that I could take the pill.” He followed all the rules at school: he would check in his medication with a school nurse, and the nurse was the one to administer it. He took the right dosage, and he didn’t take it at more than the prescribed intervals. But he also found ways to make it last longer. “The bottle would say take two. I would cut one in half, take one-and-a-half and hide the other half and keep them going. When I’d get my refill, I’d do the same thing to have some for later,” he said. Ross said he had a teacher who had shared his own story of addiction with the class. In the teacher’s case, it had been marijuana in his younger days. He told the students how he had been able to overcome his addiction and put his life on the right path. The teacher talked about his students being on the right track in life and making sure nothing derails them from that path. Ross decided to talk to this teacher about his issue with hydrocodone. “He helped me realize what I was doing was wrong, that I was going completely off what I wanted to do,” he said. Ross soon realized that there were other students at school who had struggled or were struggling with addiction. Many of those had been helped by this same teacher. “When I got to meet some of the other students he’d helped, it was like I realized, hey, I’m not alone. We’ve all been addicted to something or done something wrong. We help each other out. Push each other forward. And get back on track with what we want to do,” he said. Ross threw away the pills he had been stashing, and he stopped refilling his prescription. He discovered a simple recipe for staying off the drug — focusing his mind on being the best student he could be. “Then I realized I didn’t need the drug to give me that feeling ...” he said. “If you do everything like it is supposed

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DANGEROUS MIXTURE — People have found ways to use legal prescription medicines to give them a high similar to the one provided by illegal drugs such as heroin. This mixture of a narcotic (like hydrocodone), a muscle relaxant (carisalprazolam) and an anti-anxiety drug (such as Xanax) is known as a “Houston Cocktail” or the “Holy Trinity.” to be done, if you do it correctly, you do what you want to be in your life, it gave you that feeling, that stress-free feeling.” A common problem Ross is far from alone in his use of painkillers or other prescription drugs to achieve that “feeling” that the drug can provide. One in six teens has used a prescription drug (when a doctor had not prescribed it for them) in order to get high or change their mood, according to a 2011 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that two-thirds of teens who abuse pain relievers say they have gotten them from family or friends. The same survey found that prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12- to 13-year-olds. But it’s not just teenagers who are struggling with prescription drug addiction or abuse. County Attorney James Stainton said he has seen an increasing number of driving while intoxicated cases where prescription drugs, or pills, are a contributing factor. “Most of our (drug-related DWI cases) we see are people who are popping hydrocodone or Xanax (Alprazolam)

or a combination of both, and many are also doing that plus alcohol,” Stainton said. “That’s where we get a lot of DWIs these days. People will test positive for a little bit of alcohol, maybe a .02-.05, under the legal limit (.08), but they’ll be popping Xanax on top of it. The combined effect is more than what you would get with just either one.” And that is a real concern, Stainton said, because people who are intoxicated on pills or a combination of pills and alcohol seem to be more impaired than those who are intoxicated on alcohol alone. “The people who are intoxicated on pills and alcohol ... they are really bad,” he said. “ ... There is just something different. They are definitely more impaired in their judgment, their thinking.” The increase in prescription drug abuse is the reason Stainton has pushed for blood draws during “no refusal” weekends such as around July 4, he said. A person may be intoxicated, but a simple breathalyzer might not show a level of intoxication because it only measures blood alcohol levels. A blood draw will determine other substances such as prescription drugs. If you view the problem by the demographics reflected in the cases in Stainton’s office, you find there is no true demographic for prescription

medicine abuse. “They’re wealthy people, they’re poorer people. They’re older people, they’re younger people. People with jobs, people without jobs. With families and without families,” he said. For Ross or those who are prosecuted for prescription drug-related crimes, they might be considered the lucky ones. Someone – whether a teacher, friend, officer or prosecutor – has stepped in to take action before the problem reaches the most critical of stages. Increasingly in the United States, that isn’t happening. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of overdose deaths involving an opioid pain reliever such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone now exceed deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined. In 2008, opioid pain relievers were involved in 14,800 deaths, or 73.8 percent of all prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States. This increase has contributed to the growing number of overall drug overdoses in the United States. More people now die of drug overdoses than in vehicle accidents, according to the CDC. Ross doesn’t want to see one of his classmates become another statistic. In the years since his addiction, he has helped other students

he’s seen at the school going through their own troubles. “I’ve told them, ‘You know this isn’t right. You are so much better than this,” he said. “ ... You don’t need to smoke that joint, you don’t need to pop that pill. You don’t need to do any of that stuff. You don’t need to drink. You can live the life you want and be who you want to be without that, and they are some of the few people who do know my story. I hope I did make an impact on their life.” Few people know Ross’ story — not even his parents. “I know if they knew, they’d be really upset,” he said. “For me, I guess I’m waiting for a time to tell them. I don’t know when that time will be, but I know they love me and I love them. They’ve helped me so much, and I just don’t want to hurt them with this. So I’m just trying to find the right time to tell them.” The Partnership at Drugfree.org has recently started a national campaign aimed at bringing attention to prescription medicine abuse. The website offers tips on safely securing medicine, proper disposal, the importance of talking to your children about medicine abuse and how to get help. For more information, visit medicineabuseproject.org. Email Brian at bknox@wcmessenger.com.

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Man pleads ... Continued from page 1A brown hair had grown long in the back since his arrest. A goatee spilled over his neck. Deep scars marred his forehead as evidence of injuries he’d sustained in a motorcycle wreck years earlier. “How do you plead?” Fostel asked. “Guilty,” Schomburg replied. “I’m guilty.” In return for the guilty plea, the state recommended Schomburg receive 40 years in prison. He’ll be required to serve at least 20 before he is eligible for parole. “We talked about various ways we could approach the defense and decided to enter the plea of guilty,” said Bruce Isaaks, Schomburg’s attorney. On Aug. 14, 2011, Schomburg murdered Whisenant in the kitchen of his home by deeply slitting her throat several times. “There was a lot of anger,” said Sheriff David Walker. “This is probably the worst case of overkill I’ve ever seen in all my years of law enforcement in Wise County. There was evidence that he mutilated her on more than one occasion after the murder.” “(Schomburg) also stabbed her through both eyes so deep

it punctured her brain,” said Assistant District Attorney Tim Cole. “The back of her eyeballs looked like punctured egg shells.” In the days that followed he also cut off her cheeks in an attempt to remove all her dental work. And after wrapping the body in a tarp, he shot her multiple times with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. Cole said these were all probably attempts to mangle the victim’s body beyond recognition. Next to the home, a man rented an apartment above a detached garage. The man heard the gunshots. He then peeked into the shed and saw something or somebody wrapped in tarp, and smelled the horrible odor of death. His subsequent phone call to 911 brought Schomburg to justice. Walker said his crime scene unit spent days at the location. Evidence was found in the main home, in the detached garage and in the shed. “The sheriff’s office did a great job in the investigation,” said District Attorney Greg Lowery. “Every piece of evidence we could have thought to ask for they provided.” Whisenant had moved in with Schomburg just a couple of months before being mur-

dered. She knew him through an ex-husband. She suffered with bouts of alcoholism and mental illness and had become estranged from her family in Missouri, leaving her with few places to go. She had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Schomburg told investigators he killed her after they’d gotten into an argument. He said she wanted him to go the store to buy some beer and he refused, prompting her to threaten him with a knife. His story was that he wrested the knife from her grip and then used it to kill her. “If this had gone to trial he would have tried to claim self defense or an act of sudden passion,” Cole said. Cole said they spoke with the family, and they were satisfied with the sentence and with this case not having to go to trial. “Generally speaking, with murder cases you have to serve 75 percent before you can get probation,” Lowery said. “In this case, that would be 30 years. And with his health and age this is basically a life sentence.” Even when given a life sentence, a convict becomes eligible for parole after 30 years.

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‘I’M GUILTY’ — Mark Schomburg, 52, of Paradise pled guilty Wednesday afternoon to the murder of Susan Whisenant, 47, of Missouri, last summer at his country home. He received 40 years in prison.

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If the case had gone to trial, the state had witnesses ready to go that could testify to Schomburg’s violent tendencies and strange behavior. He was an avid gun collector. He had more than 30 firearms at his home and was himself armed at all times. The county is in the process of seizing Schomburg’s land and home in Paradise

where the murder occurred. Whisenant had no children. She’d battled substance abuse and mental illness much of her adult life. She left little behind, other than a silent cry for justice, meted out last Wednesday when Schomburg was led away in chains. Email Brandon at bevans@ wcmessenger.com.

Contact Lisa Davis, Lori White, Kelly Guess or Laura Belcher at 940-627-5987 www.wcmessenger.com/advertising

USPS Publication No. 688940 ISSN 0746-8679 The Wise County Messenger (ISSN 0746-8679) is published Wednesday and Saturday by Wise County Messenger, Inc., P.O. Box 149, 115 S. Trinity St., Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. Periodicals class postage paid at Decatur, Texas. Subscription rates: one year in Wise County $37; one year out of county $43; one year out of state $49. An erroneous reflection upon the character, standing or reputation of any firm, person or corporation, which appears in the columns of this paper will be corrected upon due notice given to the publication at the Messenger office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. 940-627-5987. http://www.wcmessenger.com. E-mail: news@wcmessenger.com. © 2012 Wise County Messenger


MIDWEEK EDITION INSIDE: The Yellowjackets prep for a Friday playoff game. See page 8A.

VOLUME 133 - NO. 93

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2012 DECATUR, TEXAS

24 PAGES IN 2 SECTIONS PLUS INSERTS

75¢

WISE COUNTY

Man admits murder, leads law to shallow grave By BRANDON EVANS On Sunday morning David W. Malone, 29, of Bowie, led investigators to a shallow grave containing the body of Samantha Jo McNorton, a 28-year-old woman and mother of three.

The last time McNorton, a Sunset resident, was seen alive was with Malone on Nov. 5. Malone was arrested Nov. 14 in Cooke County for a warrant out of Parker County. While confined in Parker County, Malone admitted to Texas Ranger Jim Holland

he had murdered McNorton. The grave was hidden away in a rural, wooded area in the vicinity of Greenwood Road and County Road 2535. “It was in really thick woods,” Wise County Sheriff David Walker said. “We had to cut through the

briars and thickets.” Wise County Sheriff’s officers and its crime scene unit worked with the Texas Ranger, a detective with the district attorney’s office and anthropologists from the University of North Texas to exhume the body of McNorton.

An arrest warrant affidavit read that Malone killed McNorton “by cutting and stabbing her with a knife and strangling her with his hands.” “It was a violent murder,” Walker

DECATUR

Continued on page 3A

BRIDGEPORT

Escaping the trap

Vacant home burns By BRIAN KNOX

What's covered ‘Drugs are bad, but the war is worse’ Ruined: A life on drugs Prescription addiction Today: Escaping the trap

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SECOND CHANCE — Loving husband, Eddie Gonzales, delivered 22-year-old Consuelo Rosales from a harmful, drug-using lifestyle. But she says her daughter, Miracle Noelle now 2, will keep her away. After about six years of drug use, Consuelo is going on four years sober.

P

rison, or legalization. A lifetime of addiction, or rehabilitation. Illicit drugs, smuggled past our borders, or over-the-counter pills. For the past two weeks we’ve looked at the War on Drugs from a few of what may be dozens of angles. We’ve barely scratched the surface.

By ERIKA PEDROZA

J

ust the word “mother” evokes emotion in almost all of us. For 22-year-old Consuelo Rosales, it defines the lowest of lows in her life — and now it defines her, in her prime.

The final story in this series is a tale of redemption — a young girl raised in a motherless home because of drugs, who started down that same road. She found love and is making a home for her family — a home that is free of drugs and filled with hope.

While there have been other influences, it was primarily in lashing out against a maternal void that she headed down a destructive path of drug use and abuse at the tender age of 12. And although a loving, compassionate husband pried her from

that reckless lifestyle almost four years ago, it’s her own motherhood that now keeps her going in the right direction. “I had older sisters, but they weren’t a mom. I had my dad, but he wasn’t a mom either. And he was always gone trying to provide for

us,” the 2008 Decatur High School graduate said. “I needed my mom.” It was anger over a mother’s absence that drove her in the wrong direction at first. “The reason I started (using drugs) wasn’t because it was the cool thing to do, or the most fun, popular,” she said. “I was just angry — at the world, at my mom ... for leaving. “My sisters told me that I was three months old when she left for the first time. She was always in and out, in and out. And in seventh Continued on page 2A

Fire destroyed a vacant home at 1202 Stevens St. in Bridgeport Monday night. Bridgeport Fire Chief Terry Long labeled the blaze “suspicious, but under investigation” since no utilities were connected to the single-story, wood-frame home. “The fire certainly didn’t start itself,” he said. He and city fire investigator Todd Low planned to go through the home Tuesday to try to determine how the fire started. Long said it appears the fire started in the living room area. The home is owned by Bob Carpenter, and he did not have insurance on the home, Long said. Bridgeport, Lake Bridgeport, Paradise and Decatur fire departments responded to extinguish the blaze along with Wise County EMS and Bridgeport police. The fire was reported around 7:15 p.m. Long said late Monday the fire was contained to the interior of the home, but the structure sustained major damage. The Bridgeport Fire Department was dispatched back to the location just before 1 Tuesday morning when the fire rekindled. This time, flames broke through to the exterior, making the building a total loss.

Email Brian at bknox@wcmessenger.com.

DECATUR

W.A.R.M. gives away turkeys By KRISTEN TRIBE Sally Renshaw of Decatur stood in front of the Wise Area Relief Mission Tuesday morning anxiously awaiting the arrival of 500 pies. “We’ve been trying to get them here since 8 a.m. this morning,” she said. The Salvation Army donated the pumpkin pies to W.A.R.M. to be given out this week with turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. The line began forming before 7:30 a.m., and by the end of the day, 545 turkeys were distributed. Rick Ross, president of

W.A.R.M.’s board of directors, said the pace was hectic, but it flowed well. “Everyone is so cooperative — the volunteers and the people coming for assistance,” he said. Mannie Wright, 62, of Decatur said WARM has been helping him for 10 years. “If I couldn’t come here, I don’t know what I would do to get food,” he said. “It’s keeping me out of trouble. If you can’t get food, you negotiate ways to get it. I couldn’t make it without W.A.R.M. If I had money, I’d give to the place.” He encouraged anyone who

INDEX

Wise County Messenger P.O. Box 149 115 South Trinity Decatur, Texas 76234 www.wcmessenger.com

Opinion . . . . . . . . . . .4A Obituaries . . . . . . . . .5A Sports . . . . . . . . . . . .8A Wise Business . . . . . .7A

needs help to seek it. “If you need help, please don’t be ashamed to ask for it,” he said. Although, the number of turkeys given is about the same as years past, Ross said they have seen an overall increase in need this year, forcing the pantry to dip into its reserves more. “I think the recession is just hitting us later than it has the rest of the country,” he said. “The number of families seeking assistance has increased significantly.” He added that W.A.R.M. has been seeing a lot of new families every month.

MCNORTON REMEMBERED

Messenger photo by Joe Duty • Buy reprints at wcmessenger.com/reprints

LENDING A HAND — Boy Scout Tommy Tilson, 13, of Boyd helps unload 500 pumpkin pies at the Wise Area Relief Mission Tuesday morning.

Paul Agnew says no one meant more to Samantha McNorton, than their children. “No man, nobody ...” he said. See page 3A.

GIFT GUIDE

Peruse the Messenger’s latest special section to get the details on local holiday sales and events.

WEATHER


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WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Escaping the ...

Have a

Happy & Safe

Continued from page 1A

Thanksgiving Holiday

grade, she just left and didn’t come home,” she continued. “ … She would always leave after dinner, after making sure we were bathed, fed and put to bed, and she followed the same routine. But she just decided not to come home one night. And she didn’t come home the next day or the next, and was just gone after that. “That’s why I did it. That’s why I got involved. It wasn’t for fun.” Hiding pain Consuelo masked the hurt and disappointment in rebellion and consumed her first alcoholic beverage at age 12. “My dad still had three of us at home. So he was always working and trying to provide for us,” she said. “And here we are, the bad teenagers, always having parties at the house, getting older friends to buy us drinks. Both my sisters are older so it was just easy for me.” But an emotional cover-up quickly spiraled downward to encompass consumption of various other drugs, again expedited by availability substances. It was an act of rebellion, fueled by fury and facilitated by convenience and accessibility. “I’ve had just about anything and everything in my body, other than heroin,” she said. “It wasn’t until my eighth-grade year that I started smoking weed, and it was just one thing after another after another after that. It went from smoking weed to cocaine to ecstasy to acid … The ecstasy wasn’t an all-the-time type thing. It was only the weekends. Those days, weekends are kind of a blur. But the cocaine and smoking, those were daily, and I remember all of that … “It fell in my lap. It was so easy for me to get it. I knew someone who would bring more to my house if I wanted it,” she continued. “The people I worked with, friends. It was there ... I don’t think people understand how easily accessible it is for anybody, especially teenagers. “I would go to work. By the end of the night, I would get a 50 (an amount of cocaine). I would get money from other people and get 50s for them. There’s so much, and so many people know somebody. Still to this day, I could name quite a few people that I know I could get something from. “Knowing what I do now, I’m completely dumbfounded about how I’m still alive, after everything that I’ve done.” Although she turned to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, she found no true solace in her habits. They were just that — addiction. “It was just a daily thing,” she said. “It was so easily accessible to me. I was a waitress at multiple places, and everywhere I went, I could get it from the cooks. It was work, spend money on that, go to school the next day, have some leftover to get me through school and go to work and do the same thing.” Although she didn’t initially turn to the drug lifestyle for social status, that scene contributed to her continued use. “I didn’t go into it for fun. But the partying and hanging out with friends and the stories for the next day of what we did the day before or the weekend, the people and the friends that I had and the fun that I was having kept me going,” she said. “My group of friends — the main five to our parties, which would get anywhere up to

from your friends at the

Roy J. Eaton President & Publisher P.O. Box 149 115 S. Trinity Decatur, TX 76234 940-627-5987 Fax 940-627-1004 www.wcmessenger.com news@wcmessenger.com

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MAMA’S GIRL — After a maternal void led Consuelo Rosales down a harmful path of drug use, she is determined to be the best mother possible to her 2-year-old daughter, Miracle Noelle. The two enjoy reading, praying and playing with makeup together. 60 — we would have the biggest raves under the sun. We knew what we were doing before we even got there. We knew what we were doing after, before it even happened. We knew what we were doing on the weekend. Everything to our partying and hanging out was planned … “But at the end of the day, I never got anything out of it. I just kept digging myself in deeper and deeper and deeper.” And as she continued to get away with it, she continued digging. “The people who aren’t very street-smart, it’s obvious what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and people ignore it. But the people who are a little bit smarter, they can keep anything hidden,” Consuelo said. “People would bring medicine to school because they’re sick and end up taking a whole sheet of pills and be messed up for the day,” she said. “It’s that easy to just go to Wal-Mart and get some cough and cold syrup and down it. It’s very easy, and people don’t realize it. “I remember going to school, and I had a flip-phone back then,” she continued. “I would take the battery out of the back and put a sack of coke there instead and put it back together and everything was good. Go to the bathroom during break or randomly, whenever, flush the toilet and go do a line in the high school bathroom. It was very easy to get away with it.” Even when her actions were seen, they were not adequately addressed, she said. “My dad didn’t address it,” she said. “Aside from working all of the time to provide for us, I don’t think he knew the extent of what I was doing and when I was doing it and how often I was doing it. He just knew that I liked to party. I was, in his eyes, a typical student just partying.” She also escaped the wrath of school administrators. “One time, I got caught, but I didn’t have anything on me,” she said. “They knew that I was not in the right state of mind, but I didn’t have anything on me. They could have drug-tested me, but they didn’t. “That’s the blind eye,” she continued. “People don’t want to really mess with this. Why? I don’t know. I wish I would have got caught. I wish somebody would have got me in trouble. I mean I got in trouble — I got kicked out of school freshman year. But that was a slap on the hand. They took me out of high school and put me in AEP. They should have done something a little bit more drastic.

“I feel like they could’ve charged me with something legally, got me in serious trouble to let me know that this is real, this isn’t OK, you can’t do this. But I just got kicked out of school ... I think that they just don’t really want to mess with it because it’s too much for people.” But Consuelo is quick to acknowledge how ineffective efforts to help a drug user are unless the abuser is willing to be helped. “Even if people would have tried to help, I don’t

School of Skin, Hair and Nails in Hurst (from which she graduated in 2009). However, just before her graduation, she and Eddie split, sending Consuelo on perhaps the steepest plummet of her life. “I moved to Lake Dallas, back in with my dad. And I was still commuting to finish school,” she said. “I kinda got into a little bit more, a little bit deeper. I was like ‘Yay! This is the first time I’m single in four years. I’m going to go out and party and have fun.’ Well that

On Sept. 13 of that year the couple reconciled, they welcomed a daughter — Miracle Noelle, now 2. “Eddie got me through it; my daughter will keep me away from it,” Consuelo said. “It has been a complete life turn-around, and she is the reason for that. She makes me a better version of me. After I had my daughter, I was still angry and mean. But seeing her, I just couldn’t be that way anymore. “I feel like my daughter’s never going to have the relationship with me like what I had with my mom. I’m going to be there for her. I didn’t have that. That alone will help tremendously, and I’m crossing my fingers that she’ll never have to go through anything like what I did. “With my past, I don’t regret it at all. I’ve learned from every single thing that I’ve done. But I’m not proud of it.” But she quickly backtracks and offers Consuelo Rosales, 22 a confession. “Well, the only thing Decatur I regret is disappointing my dad,” she said. just put me right back in “He did everything he could to the dump with that, too. compensate for what we went I started working in Dal- through, and I let him down las at clubs. Then it was all like that. But I could’ve done the time partying, partying, that with not being very acapartying. Every single day, demic or athletic like my older sisters. Tanisha and Danielle, life was a party.” By 2010, the couple re- my older sisters, were always solved their issues and pro- on the A Honor Roll. The first gressively began restoring time Danielle made a B was in her high school art class, I their relationship. Again, Consuelo began think. Tanisha was the athpulling away from the harm- lete. They set the standards up to here. ful lifestyle. “I didn’t like sports. I didn’t “He pulled me away from working in the clubs, but I care about school or academwas still drinking and stuff,” ics. I was the odd ball in the she said. “But it wasn’t any- family, and I did use that for thing like what it was when awhile. I just put excuses off I was staying and living the on anything and everything Dallas life. From there, Eddie that I could. “But I was mad,” she added. and I started getting more serious again. Once we started “So I turned to that lifestyle, talking and getting back on and I learned that nothing speaking terms and every- works in that lifestyle. Now thing was better, I didn’t want that I’ve put that past me, I have my family, God, everyto mess with that. “Finally, he gave me an ul- thing I have going on in my timatum — ‘It’s that or me.’ life,” she continued. “I have And I, of course, chose him ... come so far from those days, I had my dad’s love, the love and my story is way more of my sisters and, I’m sure than what most people think, somewhere in there, I had more than weekend drinking my mom’s. But Eddie’s was and smoking pot parties. “Not only have I been dejust different.” Eddie added his perspec- livered from this, but I have also committed my life to God tive to the story. “I have uncles that chose and living a wholesome life. that lifestyle,” he said. “They I’m not a perfect woman of do any and every kind of God, but I am working on it ... drug you put before them Truth is, I didn’t know what and then ask for more. And life was about.” As she leans down and that’s all they do. They have nothing else going for them plants a smooch on a head of in life. She’s a pretty girl with brown curls topped with a big lots of potential. That stuff orange bow, she adds: “I do now.” would not allow her to be all that she is now. I saw what it Email Erika at epedroza@ could do to a person, to a famwcmessenger.com. ily. She is better than that.”

With my past, I don’t regret it at all. I’ve learned from every single thing that I’ve done. But I’m not proud of it.

think they would’ve been successful,” she said. “I have a one-track mind. I do what I want. I’m very strongwilled, loud-mouthed and very opinionated. I don’t think people around you can help if you don’t want to. You can only be helped if you want it. No one can force you to get better. Only you can find a reason to choose that for yourself.” For Consuelo, that came as a second shot at a family — this time, with her in the role of mother. Second chances Consuelo dipped down into drug abuse and climbed away from it, in line with the emotional turmoil of her life. That roller-coaster parallelled her relationship with her high school sweetheart, Eddie Gonzales. “I started using the hardcore stuff freshman year of high school, and I continued through most of high school, until I started talking to Eddie, when I was 16,” she said. “He hated anything and everything about it. We would do the weekend, normal high school partying where you go to somebody’s house and drink. And that would be the extent of where he got involved. He hated everything about it. Even smoking cigarettes, he absolutely hated it.” The two started dating in 2006 and were off-and-on until 2009, much like her drug use. While they remained together, Consuelo cleaned up and appeared headed in the right direction. After high school, she moved to Arlington with him and attended the Ogle

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USPS Publication No. 688940 ISSN 0746-8679 The Wise County Messenger (ISSN 0746-8679) is published Wednesday and Saturday by Wise County Messenger, Inc., P.O. Box 149, 115 S. Trinity St., Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. Periodicals class postage paid at Decatur, Texas. Subscription rates: one year in Wise County $37; one year out of county $43; one year out of state $49. An erroneous reflection upon the character, standing or reputation of any firm, person or corporation, which appears in the columns of this paper will be corrected upon due notice given to the publication at the Messenger office. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, Texas 76234-0149. 940-627-5987. http://www.wcmessenger.com. E-mail: news@wcmessenger.com. © 2012 Wise County Messenger


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WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

OPINION OUR VIEWS

Petition paints inaccurate picture of Texas By BRANDON EVANS

I wasn’t born in this state, but I’ve lived here long enough to grow an appreciation for the character of people who are from here. Most Texans I know are hard workers. They are selfsufficient. They have a cando attitude. They are always willing to help out someone in need. They don’t just throw their arms up and cry if something doesn’t go their way. That’s why I find it so hard to understand a particular petition gaining so much steam. An online petition calling for Texas to withdraw from the United States garnered enough signatures that it requires an official response from the White House.

It started on Friday, and by Monday the petition, created by a man EVANS from Arlington known only as Micah H., had passed the 25,000 threshold needed to get an official response. As of this writing Tuesday afternoon it had more than 76,291 signatures, including at least two Wise County residents. Signature number 76,220 was by a woman from Decatur. And signature number 75,481 was from a resident of Rhome. The petition is simple enough. It reads: “We petition to Obama Administration to peacefully grant the State of

Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government. “The U.S. continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the U.S. suffer from blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fa-

thers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.” The entire petition is an overreaction to one presidential election. The candidate these signers wanted to win didn’t, so they want to cry about it in some kind of official format. Our U.S. Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in existence. It has passed the test of time. It has sustained us through Civil War and two world wars. Many countries have used it as a model for their own constitutions. It has allowed us to improve dramatically over the years, from the abolition of slavery to giving women the right to vote to the creation of the Civil Rights Act. Most every other nation

has undergone some kind of radical change since then to transform from a monarchy to a modern republic or into a communist or totalitarian state. But the United States has maintained and can boast of being the planet’s oldest continuous democracy. Yet because some people don’t get their way in one election, they want to throw it all away. How can you claim to be patriotic when you don’t even want to be part of the United States? The identity of Texas has been hijacked by people who want to stomp their feet and say “my way or the highway.” But American politics is all about compromise. It’s about a wide range of constituents and

viewpoints trying to share a common place in time. It’s extremely difficult. It hardly ever turns out the way everybody wants it to. But it’s ours. And it has worked. It’s proven to be the most successful form of government in the modern world. Just like most people, I don’t agree with many policies we have, but if you really care about something, you keep working to make it better. This petition is giving the rest of the nation the wrong idea about Texans and all their strengths. It shows only weaknesses. Brandon Evans is a Messenger reporter. Email him at bevans@wcmessenger. com.

SQUARE TALK People, found on the Decatur Square, share their thoughts.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT TEXAS SECEDING FROM THE REST OF THE UNITED STATES? “I think we’re good. I love the state of Texas, but to be our own nation, I don’t think we’re ready for that.” — Jayne Sherman, 56, of Decatur

“I’m not sure how I feel about it. My husband works in the oil field. I think personally if we did the oil field would come back stronger here. I think Obama has shut a lot of it down, and that’s why they aren’t working here as much anymore.” — Jenny Smith, 35, of Decatur “I don’t think it’s realistic. I don’t think they’d ever allow it. We fought a Civil War to keep us from splitting up. A lot of people died in the Civil War. I don’t think the federal government would ever allow it.” — Michael Smith, 42, of Bedford “I think it goes against what a lot of people fought for a long time ago ... A lot of people fought for the states to become one nation. I’d hate to think that we were moving backwards as far as us splitting up as a nation. And that goes for any state, not just Texas.” — Brian Ogle, 32, of Decatur

OTHER VIEWS

The Kaywoodie and the Pekingese By GERRE JOINER It all started when one of the coffee drinkers at Whataburger said, “It’s not lying if you don’t expect somebody to believe it.” Then Delbert told his story. He was in the Navy, traveling across Texas in a bus during the days of the Korean War. He had only $10, but someone

had given him a really nice Kaywoodie pipe. He said it was worth JOINER about $17. Somewhere on the trip, a big lady with a small dog got on the bus, asked Delbert to quit smoking, and sat down with her Continued on page 6A

YOUR VIEWS The real problem with the drug war In response to “America's Costliest War” and “Drugs are Bad, but the War Is Worse” (Messenger, Nov. 10, 2012): A tip of the hat to Rusty White for speaking out about the drug war. And of course, great articles. You nailed it down on all points save one: the private prison system. Think of contractors like Wackenhut and CCD, folks that have even set up shop here in Bridgeport. Turning the penal system over to the private sector created these businesses with a financial interest in keeping growing numbers of Americans behind bars. The higher the prison population, the more their business grows. Naturally, then, these companies’ best investment isn’t in more bars and more guards. It’s in getting more people into the penal system! They accomplish this through lobbying for harsher sentencing and a continuation of the failed drug war. For government officials involved, these severe sentences are also good politics. Supporting them makes officials look tough on crime, while also getting them campaign funds through penal company lobbyists. It’s a situation with no downside for lobbyists,

private prison companies and politicians, but with enormous social and budgetary setbacks for the nation as a whole. I can get behind many libertarian arguments, but the penal system is a prime example of one government function that should NEVER be privatized. In fact, it’s probably costing us more this way, once things like CEO salaries and stockholder dividends are taken into account. Hence, things aren’t going to change until we as citizens see through to what’s really going on at every level of government. Ask an elected official if they support harsher sentencing for nonviolent offenders. If they say yes, then we know where they stand, and what industry’s pocket they might be in. This is where we, as citizens and voters, need to wake up, see through the crap and be heard. Make it bad politics to press for harsher sentencing, especially on nonviolent crime, and vote against any expansion of the private penal system. By voting officials out of office who would continue this failed approach, at every level of government, we’ll finally turn this situation around. When that trend happens, we can look at regulation, taxation and treating the drug problem as what it really is: a public health prob-

lem, not a criminal justice problem. And who knows? Depending on how much money this problem eats up, it could really help balance government budgets to boot. Finally then, our good officers could get back to dealing with real criminals. Angelou del Angel Bridgeport EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the letter. Rusty White actually had plenty to say about the private prison system and its role in the drug war. We just ran out of space.

Prejudice takes on many forms, all bad After reading “Election night with the academics” (Messenger, Nov. 10, 2012) I realized that one of the biggest failures in our society is the many forms of prejudice that are based on half-truths, and our failure as a community of people who differ from one another. The only cure for this is to reach out to those who are different. As long as we focus on the color of people’s skin, we are missing out as a community in so many ways. The author of this letter, while writing about the prejudice of one race, revealed his own prejudice toward another. Here lies the problem.

Continued on page 6A


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WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Wednesday, November 21, 2012

OPINION OUR VIEWS

Taking a family trip? There’s a nanny for that By BRIAN KNOX

Vacations are a time to get away from the stresses of everyday life and the grind of work to spend quality time with the family. At least that’s what I thought before reading a recent Wall Street Journal article. Oh, I was right on the first couple of parts, but apparently there is a growing trend that is taking some of the “family” out of “family vacation.” They are called travel nannies. Parents pay to have babysitters accompany them to various exotic locales. Then they watch the

kids while mom and dad take a spa treatment or have dinner and drinks. Maybe I KNOX should point out that the WSJ’s chief demographic is those with, shall we say, disposable income. But I still find myself shaking my head at this trend. I mean, it’s one thing to drop the kids off with the grandparents for a week in order for a couple to take a second honeymoon. But if you take your kids on vacation with you, shouldn’t you

want to spend time with them? I think back to vacations I took as a kid. I have wonderful memories, and they all involve family members. Can’t you just imagine this conversation taking place? Child: Mommy, do you remember that great time we had walking along the beach one evening collecting sea shells and that awesome sunset we saw? Mommy: No dear, you did that with the nanny. Daddy and I were having cocktails. But it sure sounds beautiful. The article goes on to say that some travel nannies

even offer vacation-specific skills such as being an expert skier or swimmer. It also says “Nannies usually end up sharing a room with the kids.” Is it just me, or does that sound a bit creepy? Many hotels now cater to these nanny-toting families. The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai in Thailand now has “themed babysitting.” Families can choose a theme (such as fairy tale or superhero), and the babysitter comes to the room with appropriate games and costumes. Another hotel in Mexico has a “night camp” from 6 to 10 p.m. which allows parents to go to dinner at the

hotel’s restaurant while the kids play pirates and go on scavenger hunts. Nannies are even left in charge of corralling kids during the traveling portion of the trip, such as on the airplane, allowing the parents to sit back and enjoy a movie or take a nap. I thought vacations were family bonding time, but this trend seems to just be outsourcing parenting. Here’s a thought: if you want to have a night out from the kids while on vacation, take another family member, such as a grandparent, with you. At least that way your kid is still spending time with

a family member. And best of all, you probably won’t have to pay a cent in sitter fees. Vacations should be a time when you leave behind all of the distractions of daily life so you can really get to know your family. Just think of all the roadtrips you’ve taken and all the threats of, “I’ll stop the car!” How would parents learn patience if it wasn’t for the family vacation? But wait, who needs patience? There’s a nanny for that.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special project manager. Email him at bknox@ wcmessenger.com.

SQUARE TALK People, found on the Decatur Square, share their thoughts.

WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR? “I’m thankful for my son. The mother of my son for giving me that precious joy. And my wife and my newborn baby.” — Jonathan Silvey, 25, of Springtown “I’m thankful for my family and for my job that helps me support my family.” — Jessica Silvey, 21, of Springtown

“My family. My grandkids. They are the future generation. Life is good.” — Steven Archuleta, 58, of Cerro, N.M.

“God. Because without Him nobody would be here, and we wouldn’t have anything.” — Frank Green, 16, of Fort Worth

YOUR VIEWS Thankful for the reminder

Thank you for the article in Saturday’s paper “Hail to the thanking season” (Messenger, Nov. 17). Thanks for the reminder of how beneficial it is to stop and think of so many specific things for which we have to be thankful. Sincerely, Mona Harper

Accepting of voter fraud Voter fraud. That’s what it is, and nothing less. The fact that Philadelphia, in 59 of their heavily African-American precincts, not one single vote was cast for Romney, strains the imagination. In nine precincts in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, not one single vote was cast for Romney. Not one. Sort of stretches the credibility of that count, as well. In the district of Florida represented by Alan West, he was denied the chance to be re-elected when 143 percent of the registered voters turned out. He still only lost by .59 percent (slightly over one-half of 1 percent) but that’s not close enough to trigger an automatic recount. I am adamantly against the Obama administration. As one pundit put it, Chicago is known for three things: pizza, gangsters and corrupt politicians. President Obama is not pizza. Does this make a case for a pic-

ture ID for voters? A driver’s license would suffice or some other stateissued photo ID, which would be marked off against a list of eligible registered voters. Not on the list, you don’t vote. No picture ID, go away. Or perhaps, let them vote, but the votes are then set aside in a separate place until deemed relevant to the outcome. But there I go again, believing in being fair to a large, Democratic voting population when they have proven time and time again that their agenda is to win at any cost. Tony Girtman Runaway Bay

Sadness in wake of the election The election is over, and I am sad because we still live in a country where our president and his party believe it is OK to murder over 3,000 unborn children every day. People say “Life goes on ...” Not for all. The election is over, and I am sad because we still live in a country where our president and his party believe in and put their stamp of approval on homosexual marriage — a lifestyle choice that disastrously undermines the God-ordained institution of marriage and the fatherand-mother families it produces, the building blocks of great nations. The election is over, and I am sad because we still live in a country that I believe is more divided today than it was in 1861, at the onset of the Civil War. I am sad because Jesus

Himself said, “Any kingdom where people fight each other will end up ruined. And a town or family that fights will soon destroy itself.” Matthew 12:25 CEV. Folks, it’s not about Democrat or Republican, how will I vote? The question we must ask ourselves is “God or no God, how will I live?” Marc Moore Bridgeport

It takes a village to fight the drug war

The latest tactic on the “War on Drugs” is to legalize marijuana. We did this with alcohol, and it did create tax revenue and cut down on crime related to the sale of alcohol — but alcohol-related crime still thrives. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 37 percent of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail report that they were drinking at the time of their arrest. In 2007, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which represents less than 1 percent of 159 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving in the U.S. each year. Each year, more than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. Ninety-five percent of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both, and 90 percent of acquaintance-rape and

sexual assault on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both. Every day, 36 people die, and approximately 700 are injured, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Drinking and drugged driving is the No. 1 cause of death, injury and disability of young people under the age of 21. Not surprisingly, jail alone has had little effect on reducing drug addiction or promoting recovery. Holding someone in jail, without access to treatment, with no specific plans for treatment and recovery support upon release, is not only expensive, it’s ineffective. (from www. ncadd.org) The connection between alcohol, drugs and crime is clear, as is the connection between alcohol, drug addiction and crime. We need to break the chain that links drug addiction and crime. In 2010, 66 percent of children under 17 lived with two married parents, down from 67 percent in 2009 and 77 percent in 1980. Compared to teens in families with strong family ties, teens in families with weak family ties are four times likelier to have tried tobacco or marijuana and almost three times likelier to have tried alcohol. Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future (17 percent

versus 8 percent). The growth of incarceration in America has intergenerational impacts that policy makers will have to confront. According to this analysis, more than 1.2 million inmates — over half of the 2.3 million people behind bars — are parents of children under age 18. This includes more than 120,000 mothers and more than 1.1 million fathers. (from Drug War facts.org) The Wise County Sheriff’s Department and local school districts are doing their job. It is the community that is failing. It was a common statement years ago: “It takes the whole village to raise a child.” But where is the village when students get in trouble? As a village, do we really care? We have forgotten the importance of family values. We need a system that is willing to fix the broken and break the cycle, but this takes personal time — personal time for your family and personal time for your community. A thought: Why not spend a few dollars and time teaching personal and family values instead of millions on a large Band-Aid? Schools can help, but the real problem lies in the heart. To show someone you really care means so much. So many of the people in jail/prison did not, or do not, know how to love or be loved. Their parents or siblings did not teach this for various reasons. This is what they really need. Ricky Stutt Decatur


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WISE COUNTY MESSENGER, Decatur, Texas, Wednesday, December 5, 2012

OPINION

Make the season merry and bright for all BY BRIAN KNOX BKNOX@WCMESSENGER.COM

Christmas is booming in Wise County. It seems like people had their lights up earlier than ever this year, no doubt helped by the unseasonably warm weather. That warm weather also likely helped make two local holiday traditions a rousing success: Decatur’s lighted Christmas parade on Saturday and the Wise County Toy Run on Sunday. I’ll have to admit a first for me: watching a Christmas parade while wearing shorts. I don’t have an official count,

but it seemed like there were more parade entries than ever before, and the people who turned out to watch packed the downtown area several rows deep. I can’t speak for other parents, but my KNOX kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. My daughter’s favorite was the horses decked with Christmas lights, while the biggest shrieks of joy from my 19-month-old son came when he saw the floats with the Sesame Street characters, and Elmo in

particular. And how about the Toy Run? I didn’t see much of it, although we did get caught in a bit of a backup caused by the line of motorcycles streaming through town. At one point, the column of motorcycles reached from the city limits of Bridgeport to the parking lot at Decatur’s McCarroll Middle School. And the pile of donated toys at the end of the run was double what it would normally be. Santa will be quite busy in Wise County this week. He’s scheduled for appearances in Bridgeport today (flying in on a helicopter, no less — giving the reindeer a break before

the big night I guess), and Paradise and Rhome on Saturday. And if you missed Decatur’s Christmas parade, you still have a chance to catch one in Alvord or Bridgeport this Saturday or in Slidell on Sunday. Local charities will also be booming this year. The Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringing campaign has brought in close to $7,000 through the first 11 days, campaign coordinator Tana Fedric said Tuesday. That’s up compared to last year, when $6,268 had been collected through the first 14 days. The key, Fedric said, is having volunteers ringing

the bells and manning the kettles in front of Wal-Mart in Decatur. When nobody is available to ring, no money is being collected. But things are looking better on that front, too. “It’s filling up,” Fedric said of the schedule. “It’s looking better than last year.” The weekends are nearly full, although some time slots on Sundays still need to be filled. The biggest need is during the day during the work week. “Next Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty empty, and Wednesday the 19th and Thursday the 20th,” Fedric said.

If you or your workplace, church or community group would like to help out, call Fedric at (940) 627-5859. And I haven’t even mentioned the best part: all money collected stays in Wise County to help out those in need right here. We also had a story in the weekend paper about the local Spirit of Christmas campaigns. There are plenty of angels still available for adoption at local financial institutions. The holiday season is off to a great start. Let’s keep that momentum going by helping make someone’s Christmas a little brighter.

YOUR VIEWS Thanks for series on the Drug War

I would like to thank the Wise County Messenger for having the honesty and guts to publish the articles about this failure known as the “War on Drugs” — as well as those that had the heart to participate and comment. I was hoping for more open discussion about this subject and the harm it is causing. But I realize many are afraid of being ridiculed and chastised for doing so, and others can’t admit or can’t accept that they have been wrong in supporting this failure. Believe me, it was not an easy thing to do — especially if you spent years, or your whole life, fighting this failed war as “thousands” of those at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition” (www.leap. cc) have done. It is even tougher to face the harm that you help force on families and the public as well! It is also hard to support one’s position when the truth, facts, reality, common sense and documented history can’t be used to do so. We at least got to hear some other voices and see some documented realities. For far too long only one side of this issue has been in print and on TV. In my past presentations, I have had those who said, “The reason we are not winning is because we are not tough enough on those not following the laws.” Sadly, the numbers and statistics do not support their opinions. We have more people in prison and jails than any other country on earth, and one-third do not have any “violence or victims” connected with their supposed crimes. Our failed policies have destroyed entire families while creating one parent and many times no parents in the homes across this land — and our military tactics diminish our free-

Letters to the Editor The deadline for letters to the editor is 5 p.m. Thursday for publication in the following weekend (Saturday) edition and 5 p.m. Monday for publication the following midweek (Wednesday) edition. Email letters to news@wcmessenger.com, mail them to the editor, Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, De-

doms and liberties while sadly killing and maiming innocent citizens from infants to the elderly. How is this not tough enough? (www.drugwarvictims.org by Drug warrants) Some are so blinded by taught hate and fearmongering propaganda and manipulation that they believe we should “kill” those providing what our citizens want. Then they claim to still be people of faith? In other parts of the world they do kill these people, and guess what? Every year they have to kill more and more! I know Sheriff Walker has had his plate full, but I was hoping for the actual numbers of tickets written in the last 12 months for simple possession and drug use items versus arrests. How intellectually dishonest is it for us all to agree that what people do in their own homes is none of anybody else’s business, when we leave them no pathway for this to happen? Instead, the reality is that we destroy families and waste tax dollars arresting and locking up those that have “no victims or violence” in their supposed crime. As a once-willing participant in this failure, and as an American and a human being and a taxpayer, I refuse to see our limited tax dollars and resources wasted on this failure any longer! Nor will I remain silent any longer while being forced to support the loss of our freedoms and liberties as well as the unjustifiable harm and misery. Sadly both sides of this failed war are making big money and enjoying job security, funded off the misery of others — and we, the taxpayers, are forced to pay for it all, while feeding our nation’s young and old to it! There has to be a better way. Help us find it! Rusty White speaker www.leap.cc catur, Tx 76234, drop them by 115 S. Trinity in Decatur weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or fax them to 940-627-1004. The Messenger is not obligated to run any letter, and letters are subject to editing for grammar and spelling, space, style or to remove potentially libelous statements. Third-party letters and letters that have been published in other newspapers will not be accepted.

OTHER VIEWS

State moves toward seizure of religious sect’s property Legal proceedings to seize Yearning For Zion Ranch, a 1,700-acre property in Schleicher County, are under way, the Office of the Texas Attorney General announced Nov. 28. That day, the state filed an affidavit for a search-and-seizure warrant in the 51st District Court of Schleicher County. The state claims the property is contraband and therefore subject to forfeiture “because it was acquired with proceeds of or was used or intended to be used in the commission of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, bigamy, engaging in organized criminal activity and/or money laundering.” Each of those acts is categorized as a felony under state law. As stated in the announcement, the filing of the warrant “begins the final chapter of the State’s nearly five-year effort to pursue widespread criminal misconduct at the YFZ Ranch.” The affidavit says the ranch was purchased on the orders of Warren Jeffs, who sought a rural location where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon church) “could operate a polygamist compound where the systemic sexual assault of children would be tolerated without interference from law enforcement authorities.”

At least nine FLDS members including sect leader Warren Jeffs were successfully prosecuted by the state for sexually assaulting children at the YFZ Ranch, according to the AG's office. Steen steps into new role Gov. Perry on Nov. 27 appointed San Antonio attorney John T. Steen Jr. Texas’ 108th secretary of state. The job includes service as the state’s chief elections officer, the governor’s liaison on border and Mexican affairs, and Texas’ chief protocol officer for state and international matters. The Office of the Secretary of State is the state agency that serves as the formal repository for official and business records, publishes government rules and regulations, keeps the state seal and attests to the governor’s signature on official documents. Steen, a former member of the Texas Public Safety Commission, succeeds Esperanza “Hope” Andrade of San Antonio as secretary of state. Chair files tax relief bill State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, RKerrville, on Nov. 29 filed House Bill 213, legislation to make permanent a tax exemption for companies that earn less than $1 million a year. In 2009, the state Legislature temporarily raised the franchise tax reve-

nue exemption for small businesses to $1 million, offering tax relief to nearly 40,000 additional small businesses across the state. In 2011, Hilderbran, who serves as chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, spearheaded an effort to amend legislation that extended the $1 million exemption through the end of 2013.

Open government panel meets The digital world’s array of effects on how public business is conducted and how public records are created, maintained and made accessible to citizens were topics of invited testimony heard by the Senate Select Committee on Open Government during a Nov. 26 meeting. Chaired by Sen. Rodney Ellis, DHouston, the committee soon may take up and consider legislation that addresses issues such as text messaging by public officials during public meetings, public access to text messages and emails that were transmitted or received on public officials’ personal smart phones, public information cost guidelines, illegal access and manipulation of public and confidential information maintained by local governmental bodies and state agencies, information retention schedules, and much more.


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Wise County Messenger, Community Service  

Wise County Messenger, Community Service