Honorable Mentions

WISD continues prayer

A prayer circle established by Weatherford resident Matt Herron took place in April after the Weatherford ISD board of trustees came under scrutiny for opening their meetings with prayer.

At the end of February, WISD board of trustees was issued a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation which asked the board to stop opening their meetings with prayer. The FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover said a district community member brought their concerns to the foundation. WISD school board members usually open meetings with a prayer, as do other Parker County school boards.

The prayer circle was not affiliated with WISD or the school board. He also confirmed that the prayer group is for Christians, not atheists, agnostics or those of other religious faiths.

— Autumn Owens

County hires new fire marshal

The Parker County commissioners approved the hiring of Sean Hughes as the new full time fire marshal and emergency management coordinator in May.

Hughes has a MS in fire science from Grand Canyon University and a BAAS in emergency management from the University of North Texas. He is also a certified emergency manager, which he was awarded from the National Emergency Management Association, and is a licensed paramedic and has a general class amateur radio operator license.

Hughes’ responsibilities will include ensuring the county emergency response plan is update continually; preparing and/or implementing detail mitigation studies that identify operation procedures; coordinating emergency response activities with state, county and municipal authorities; serving as the county liaison for disasters at the County Emergency Operation Center; working with school districts on fire drill and tornado drill evacuation plans as well as “sheltering in place” plans; and conducting arson investigations.

— Autumn Owens

The Pizza Place reopens

The Pizza Place reopened in July following the sudden death of owner and Weatherford icon Roger Grizzard in May.

Grizzard was not only a local restaurant owner but a community figure. He served as a Weatherford College trustee for 22 years, including two years as chairman and had taught government, economics and social studies at Weatherford High School for 21 years.

Grizzard’s wife, Jeanine Grizzard, opened the restaurant up with help from family, volunteers and former employees. Jeanine Grizzard said that she plans to pass ownership to her son Tyler Grizzard after he recovers from injuries associated with the car wreck he endured with his late father.

— Autumn Owens

Horseshoe Bend residents get new water manager

After many struggles with the water under system owner Castle Water Inc., Horseshoe Bend residents had a temporary manager appointed that has tackled the issues while an investigation is underway on the owner.

Mark Patterson was appointed the temporary manager over the HSB water system in July by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and has remained in the position, getting a six-month extension on Dec. 30.

HSB residents said they have been happy with Patterson work and have not had a multi-day outage like they previously had under Castle Water.

Castle Water continues to be under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the water system has been put up for sale through the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

— Autumn Owens

Football movie films in Weatherford

The movie “12 Mighty Orphans” — based on the true story and book by Jim Dent — wrapped up filming in Weatherford in November.

The movie was filmed at the Texas Pythian Home and tells the true story of the 1930s Texas high school football team, the Masonic Home Mighty Mites. According to the book, a group of those orphans — bound together by hardship and death during The Great Depression — were called the toughest football team around and in just a few years were playing for the state championship on the highest level of Texas football.

The film included stars Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Wayne Knight, Vinessa Shaw and Jake Austin Walker.

In 2016, Weatherford City Manager Sharon Hayes gave the directive to the development and planning department for the city to obtain the designation of a film friendly city through the Texas Film Commission and Weatherford was officially certified in July of 2018.

— Autumn Owens

Peaster, Poolville ISDs get new superintendents

Both Peaster ISD and Poolville ISD welcomed new superintendents in 2019.

Peaster ISD board of trustees officially hired Lance Johnson as superintendent in December. Johnson has been serving as the superintendent at Randolph Field ISD, which is near San Antonio. In total, he has spent 22 years in education, including about seven years at Randolph Field ISD.

Former Superintendent Matt Adams resigned from the position in July to take a job as finance director at Azle ISD. Peaster ISD had hired Rod Townsend as interim superintendent while the board conducted a search for a permanent leader.

Poolville ISD board of trustees hired Jeff Kirby as superintendent in May. Kirby had previously been superintendent at Cotton Center ISD.

Former Poolville ISD Superintendent Jimmie Dobbs retired in June after announcing his decision in December 2018. Dobbs served as superintendent for 11 years out of the 24 years he has worked for the district.

— Madelyn Edwards

Firefighters contain 137-acre fire in Aledo

Firefighting units from Emergency Services District 1, Willow Park, Fort Worth, Cresson and Benbrook responded to a 137-acre grass fire on an October evening in Aledo.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire a little more than an hour after receiving the call.

There were no injuries and no structures damaged as a result of the fire.

“We believe it was either lightning or the high winds causing the power lines that run through there to arc. It’s pretty safe to say it was one of those two things that caused it given the conditions,” Emergency Services District 1 Chief and Incident Commander Stephen Watson said. “It started out in the middle of [Boswell] ranch, so there’s not really anything else out there that could have done it. We accessed it from a gate off of North Front Street at the intersection of Chestnut [Street] and that pretty much gave us direct access to it.”

— Madelyn Edwards

Animal shelter breaks ground on new surgical center

The Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter broke ground on its new medical and surgical building in August.

The center will have two surgery rooms with a capacity of four surgery tables, medical preparation area, expanded animal holding spaces with separate areas for dogs and cats, radiology area, laundry rooms, pharmacy, office space and storage.

The $1.26 million project to expand began in 2014 when shelter facility needs were being assessed, and a capital campaign was started afterward. The current medical and surgical space is about 300 square feet, and currently, 80-120 animals are spayed or neutered each week, Weatherford Municipal and Community Service Director Dustin Deel said.

Weatherford College students and faculty will also be using the space to teach veterinary technician classes starting in fall 2020, a partnership that is expected to be mutually beneficial to the college and shelter, Deel said.

— Madelyn Edwards

ESD 3, Weatherford work out fire services agreement

The city of Weatherford and Emergency Services District 3 came to an agreement regarding fire services in September after being embroiled with debate about the contract.

ESD 3 and Weatherford are four years into their 10-year contract where the Weatherford Fire Department provides all services to ESD 3, which covers about 75 miles in Hudson Oaks, parts of Weatherford, Annetta, Annetta North and unincorporated Parker County. ESD 3 Board President Ed Huddleston had said the cost for ESD 3 has been increasing each year.

The city and ESD 3 ended up agreeing that ESD 3 would pay 13% of WFD’s operational budget and make payments quarterly instead of having the payment based on appraised value of property. Before then, the contract required ESD 3 to pay WFD 4.8 cents of its total 10-cent tax rate, and ESD 3 payments were escalating because of the increase in property values.

— Madelyn Edwards

Noose found hanging at WHS

In January, a picture of a noose hanging outside the Durant Auditorium at Weatherford High School circulated on social media.

The incident happened in early December, and the student involved was identified and faced consequences in accordance with the Weatherford ISD Student Code of Conduct.

Facebook users took to Facebook to question whether WISD’s response to the incident was adequate and whether the incident was motivated by racism.

Parker County NAACP Legal Redress Committee Chairperson Eddie Burnett addressed the school board about the incident at WHS during a board meeting.

“Part of what we do here as a society and as a community is not to punish the individual person who did whatever that person did but is to teach and keep others from doing similar things or worse things,” Burnett said.

In April, a second noose was found at Tison Middle School. WISD investigated this incident, identified the student or students responsible and enacted discipline according to the WISD Code of Conduct.

— Madelyn Edwards

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