As June came to an end:
▪ A Springtown man pleaded guilty in federal court to a kidnapping charge in the abduction and beating of a young gay man in September.
Brice Johnson, 19, was indicted in February on a federal hate crime charge.
In his plea, Johnson admitted that on Sept. 2, he used a cellphone application to lure a man to the house where he was living, saying he was interested in having sex, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
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The man, who also lives in Springtown, is referred to as A.K. in court records.
A.K. arrived about 5:30 a.m. He told investigators that Johnson came out of the house, immediately attacked him, tied him up with electrical cord, stuffed him into the trunk of his car and drove the car to another friend’s house.
▪ Mark Twain, in only his brand of folksy wit and humor, was once quoted as saying, “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”
Raymond George is one of those individuals that fit the first group of less-crowded individuals. For what started more than a decade and a half ago is just a matter of months from completion.
The Mount Pleasant Colored School, which has stood at its location on Dubellette Street since 1927, is almost finished with its restoration.
Late in the month, framing and flooring was being done on Weatherford’s only surviving African American school house which is nearing the end of the George’s list of things that need to be done.
“It’s absolutely amazing what people have done,” George said.
Most people go to water parks to ride the slides, frolic in wave pools and float down lazy rivers.
Add dunking to the list of activities.
On a July Sunday, Splash Kingdom Wild West in Hudson Oaks was reborn as a baptismal, with more than 100 people professing their faith in Christ.
The religious experience was a joint effort by Splash Kingdom and New River Fellowship, a contemporary church led by Senior Pastor Scott Crenshaw, who likes to think outside the pulpit.
“We had already begun discussions with [Splash Kingdom] about doing a New River day at the park and renting the park out, doing a concert possibly,” Crenshaw said. “Something for our church family.”
▪ The Weatherford City Council decided to name the city’s new dog park in honor of Mayor Dennis Hooks’ late wife, Patsy.
Though Hooks himself was absent from the June 24 meeting, the remaining members made the decision with a 4-0 vote.
The city’s policy for naming parks or other structures after a citizen states that the “individual’s contributions must be of the highest standard of service dedication and sacrifice.” The council decided that Patsy Hooks’ devotion to animals was just that.
▪ A Parker County jury verdict sentenced a Weatherford man to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for four possession of child pornography cases in a trial that concluded in District Court in Weatherford.
Steven Wade Dvorak, 61, pleaded guilty before Judge Graham Quisenberry June 21 to all 26 child pornography counts in the four cases and elected to have a jury assess his punishment.
▪ Tammy Gazzola, Weatherford Chamber of Commerce President, said things couldn’t have been more “peachy” in downtown Weatherford as thousands gathered for what could almost be described as a pilgrimage to Parker County to celebrate the 30th Annual Peach Festival.
The event, which took place on a Saturday drew record numbers, perhaps on news that the peach crop many have been one of the best in recent memory.
More than 200 arts and craft, food and activity vendors were on hand for the day’s festivities, which marked the special anniversary. According to organizers, more than 35,000 people flocked to Weatherford for the one-day event last year and by all accounts easily surpassed that number early in the day this year.
▪ The Honorable Judge Ben Akers passed away in Weatherford.
Born Charles Benjamin Akers on January 31, 1957 to Doug and Shirley Akers in Leon, Iowa, “Ben” was the second of four children. Law school and avoiding the snow of Iowa brought Ben to the University of Houston.
A memorial service was held at North Side Baptist Church in Weatherford.
▪ One woman was injured and 14 vehicles traveling on Interstate 20 were damaged by rocks thrown from a bridge abutment, police reported.
Two 14-year-old boys were detained and faced charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felony criminal mischief between $1,500 and $20,000, according to a news release.
One rock went through the windshield of an 18-wheeler and struck the 59-year-old passenger in the mouth. She was taken to Weatherford Regional Hospital for treatment, the release said.
Ten passenger vehicles and four tractor-trailer rigs were hit with rocks and railroad spikes.
▪ A suspended Hudson Oaks firefighter was in the Parker County Jail, accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting two girls.
Richard Fredrick Adams Sr., 62, a retired Fort Worth firefighter, was arrested after investigators seized rolls of tape, cellphones, pornographic videos, towels and electronic equipment from his two houses in unincorporated Parker County near Weatherford, authorities said.
He was accused of assaulting the girls, ages 11 and 8, at the houses and in his vehicle. The girls are related, authorities said.
Weatherford’s Chuck Katlic, Parker County’s well-known and beloved Battle of the Bugle survivor, passed away at the age of 91.
Services were at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Ron Chandler, American Legion Post 163 commander, said on his Facebook page that Katlic died at 11:47 p.m.
Katlic has turned his horrifying experiences in that bitter cold battle, which claimed more than 75,000 U.S. casualties, into a campaign to remember the nation's veterans - on Veterans Day as well as every other day.
▪ Police said a 16-year-old girl who they believe had been drinking hit a woman while driving through a Walmart parking lot. The woman, identified as Marla Z. Carroll, 58, a dedicated Walmart employee, died of her injuries.
▪ The Bush Legacy Republican Women of Weatherford got to hear from a hometown hero during their August meeting when Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Burleson addressed members of the organization, as well as county officials and guests.
Burleson, 31, was serving in Afghanistan as an explosive technician when, on Dec. 9, 2011, he found a device that blew when he tried to dismantle it, taking the lower part of his right arm and tearing his left arm out of socket, paralyzing it while pulling spinal cord nerves with it.
The injuries left him in a coma for more than two weeks and in great pain. After more than two years of treatments – including one that took his spine apart, put it back together and left eight titanium rods and 16 screws in his neck – Burleson finally returned to Weatherford earlier this year to a home specially modified for him.
Parents of a toddler who was allegedly duct-taped to his nap mat by a Willow Park day-care center co-owner filed suit against the Heart2Heart Montessori Academy.
Kristi and Brad Galbraith alleged in a lawsuit filed in Parker County that Heart2Heart was negligent in properly carrying out its responsibilities and supervising employees, resulting in injury and pain to their 21/2-year-old son.
The allegations surfaced June 17 after an employee, Hannah Tidwell, called Kristi Galbraith advising her that her son and another boy had been forcefully secured by duct tape to their napping mats by one of the facility’s owners, Pamela Decker.
▪ For 150 years, Weatherford and all of Parker County has benefited from the presence of the Phoenix Masonic Lodge 275, and on Aug. 28, the lodge celebrated that accomplishment of continuing to serve as one of the oldest lodges in Texas.
When Parker County had existed for just a few years, its residents decided to start a Masonic lodge. That first lodge disbanded a few years later when issues arose and they instead created the current lodge, appropriately named after the mythological bird that would rise from the ashes stronger than before, which opened its doors during the midst of the Civil War in 1864.
“Congratulations on your 150th birthday,” Weatherford Mayor Dennis Hooks said as he addressed the lodge at an August City Council meeting, making a proclamation declaring June 16, Weatherford Phoenix Lodge Day.
▪ A walk to remember
An Army combat veteran made his way across the country with a stop in Weatherford. Mike Viti walked 7,000 kilometers across the United States for each of the 6,826 killed in action.
▪ Many may not know it but the "highest law in the land" has its own special day.
That's right, Sept. 17, known as Constitution Day, was celebrated in Parker County at both Weatherford College and by the Weatherford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
The day kicked off Constitution Week for the DAR and recognized the 227th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution.
The Weatherford DAR received proclamations from both the county and city recognizing September 17-23 as Constitution Week.
▪ The late Larry Hagman — probably best known as J.R. Ewing in the hit television series “Dallas,” — has his own day now, and a life-sized bronze statue in his hometown.
A proclamation read by Mayor Dennis Hooks called Hagman Weatherford’s “favorite son” and declared Sept. 21, his birthday, to be Larry Hagman Day.
A large crowd gathered on the grounds of the Doss Heritage and Culture Center for the unveiling of the statue. His daughter, Kristina Hagman, attended along with other family members and former House Speaker Jim Wright.
“Growing up, dad and mom brought my brother and I to Weatherford many times, he wanted to instill in us the gratefulness he felt toward this community,” said Kristina Hagman.
Hagman, who died in 2012, would have been 83.
▪ A lawsuit was filed against the City of Willow Park, Mayor Richard Neverdousky and the City’s Administrator Matt Shaffstall by one of its former employees, Lance Petty.
The lawsuit was filed in District Court, Northern District - Fort Worth Division on Sept. 12, and claims that Petty, acting as a “whistle blower,” lost his job of more than 11 years. Petty claims that it was because he “blew the whistle” on fraud being committed by the the city and its officials.
Susan Baer’s daily commute has gotten shorter, and that was a good thing for local seniors.
Baer and her husband have been residents of Parker County for almost 30 years but her professional career has seen her in the car during the wee hours of the morning, like many, facing the sun on Interstate 20 headed to Fort Worth.
That all changed in mid-June when she took the job as the new Executive Director of the Parker County Committee on Aging.
▪ Two years after 17-year-old Jake Evans called 911 and said he had killed his mother and 15-year-old sister inside their Parker County home, the case was on hold as his mental competency is questioned.
Larry Moore, Evans’ court-appointed attorney, filed a motion Sept. 12 requesting that a jury determine whether Evans, now 19, was competent to stand trial.
In an affidavit, Moore said the defense had Evans examined by a forensic psychologist who concluded that the teen was not competent to stand trial. Moore wrote that his own observations and dealings with Evans lead him to believe the same.
On Sept. 18, state District Judge Graham Quisenberry ordered that Evans be examined by Dr. Jim Womack to determine competency.
▪ It was a moment a long time in the making.
That seemed to be the general consensus of the those who have been dreaming of having a veteran’s memorial park over the past several years. As of September, it appeared that dream was about to become a reality as the City of Weatherford Parks Recreation and Special Events Department, along with the Parker County Gold Star Families, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, broke ground on phase one of the new Veteran’s Memorial at Soldier Spring Park.
“This is great,” said Jack Beauchamp, father of Clayton Beauchamp, who was killed in action just over two years ago during Operation Enduring Freedom. “Several have worked very hard through the years and it’s long past due that Weatherford gets this done.”
Kaye Jordan with the Gold Star Families thanked guests and supporters for coming.
“Take a moment and look around,” she said. “It’s because of you that our sons and daughters will not be forgotten,”
▪ “I stood up and I almost buckled into the arms of a stranger.”
That was what Jill Conley said when she received the news she was diagnosed with cancer. That was one of several highly-charged and emotional remarks made by Conley during the Ninth Annual Pink Luncheon.
Conley told her story of both courage and tenacity to a record crowd of 560 at New River Fellowship.
▪ It was a time to shine and they did.
The Weatherford Chamber of Commerce celebrated business and individual achievement at its 94th Annual Chamber Awards Banquet on Oct. 14.
The big winners for the evening were Dave Deison, who received the James H. Doss award. Deison, The Athena Award went to Lori Bennett. The Outstanding Citizen Award was given to two individuals, Mac Smith and Pat Hamilton. The Large Business of the Year went to Best Buy while the small business went to the Careity Foundation.
Ambassador of the Year went to Amy Kramer while the Newcomer of the Year went to Big John’s Burger and Beer.
▪ Applause rang out echoing down the corridors at City Hall when the announcement was made that Chandon Gardens had made it on the list of the National Historic Registry.
The Weatherford City Council was given the news at its meeting on Oct. 13 by Shannon Goodman, Director of Parks and Recreation, and from Bill Warren, member of the Chandor Garden Foundation Inc.
“It’s a well deserved recognition for the Gardens themselves and it brings significant benefit not only to the Gardens and the property, but to the city as a whole,” Warren said. “Perhaps foremost, and the broader recognition it brings, is the great positive economic impact it will have for the citizens of Weatherford and its businesses.”
Chandor Gardens joins a list of 3,183 other properties in Texas recorded on the National Registry.
▪ The campus of Weatherford College was once again transformed into a place where little ghosts, goblins and monsters of all kinds could go and “Trick-or-Treat.”
The College’s Police Department hosted its annual Safe Halloween event which saw a record crowd numbering more than 6,500 in attendance.
“It was one of the best events I can remember in a long time,” Chief Paul Stone said. “Great weather, great turnout.”
It was another “huge success” for the wildly-popular Bag Lady Luncheon, which hosted a packed house at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Building. More than 250 ladies turned out for the fifth annual event benefiting the Parker County Committee on Aging.
The event benefited all of the programs of Parker County Committee on Aging, including Meals on Wheels, the Senior Center, case management, transportation, nutritional supplements and assistance with utilities and prescription medications.
▪ Cal Ripken, Jr. once said you could be a kid for as long as you want - when you play baseball.
But for kids with disabilities, that just hasn't been the reality locally. Well, not anymore.
It’s those sentiments from Ripken that work in tandem with the idea of the Miracle League. Ground was broken at the 2300 block of Tin Top Road on Miracle League of Parker County.
Through the generosity of Amy and George Mercer, the couple has agreed to underwrite the majority of the fields construction with a $500,000 contribution.
▪ When 69-year-old Mayford Davis was caught sunbathing in the nude outside Tison Middle School on a Sunday afternoon, he told Weatherford police that he just wanted some vitamin D.
Instead, he got some C — as in a Class C misdemeanor citation for disorderly conduct/exposure.
Weatherford police went to the school shortly before 1 p.m. Oct. 26 after receiving a report that a nude man was sunbathing in the back parking lot, near some air conditioners.
An officer spotted the man, later identified as Davis, sitting in a lounge chair and pulling up his shorts. He had his shorts, socks and shoes on by the time the officer reached him, according to a police news release.
Police said Davis explained that he was sunbathing and that he does it often.
▪ “Our goal was not to beat the Democrats, our goal was to crush and absolutely destroy them...mission accomplished.”
Those were the remarks made by the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Steve Munisteri, as he addressed the Parker County Republican Women at a luncheon.
Munisteri, who was elected chairman of the RPT in 2010, told a sizable crowd what it took for the Republican Party to get their message out to prospective voters and succeed in Texas during mid-term elections.
▪ A windy, chilly Veteran’s Day didn’t stop hundreds from joining in the celebration of several Parker County heroes at Weatherford College.
Though the ceremony was similar to most of the others, this year’s incorporated a building dedication and remembrance of a longtime Weatherford staple who passed earlier this year.
Members of the Jack L. Knight family were on hand to see the unveiling of a plaque that will mark the newly renovated building on the campus’ far north side in honor of Knight, the only WC graduate to win the Medal of Honor. Knight was born and raised in Garner, the oldest of eight children – seven boys and one girl. All the boys joined the military and sister, June, worked in civil service. He died in World War II and brother, Roy Jr., died in Vietnam.
▪ A Springtown man headed to prison for the rest of his life after a Parker County jury found him guilty of killing his girlfriend’s 14-month-old son in 2011.
The jury convicted Rodney Pettigrew, 27, of capital murder on Nov. 19, and he received an automatic life sentence without parole because prosecutors had waived the death penalty.
Pettigrew did not take the witness stand during his trial in Weatherford. But he had repeatedly told investigators that Kamden Lee Bailey fell from a kitchen countertop and struck his head, resulting in his death.
Authorities said Pettigrew was alone with the child at a home in Springtown on Sept. 15, 2011, when he called 911 to say the child had fallen and was not breathing.
A Great Dane found in November in what a sheriff described as “starvation in its worst form” gained weight and was recovering, a veterinarian said.
Grace, 1, weighed almost 66 pounds, compared to 52 pounds when she was found abandoned Nov. 25 in Millsap in Parker County.
“She’s hungry a lot, but overall she’s very happy,” said Dr. Shelley Finger who is caring for Grace at the Aledo Vet Clinic.
▪ Word has gotten out, and the excitement rages on, as residents in Parker County learn that the H-E-B grocery chain will be locating one of its stores in Hudson Oaks.
The San Antonio based company, with more than 76,000 employees, recently made the agreement with the city.
“Bringing H-E-B to Hudson Oaks means a great deal to the city for several reasons,” Pat Deen, Mayor of Hudson Oaks said.
“First and foremost, it follows our comprehensive plan in bringing those type businesses identified by our business leaders and residents to the city. Not only does H-E-B provide another local option as a different variety grocer, but provides the city its second anchor which will help attract high-end restaurants and businesses to the city.”
▪ It was a unforgettable night as thousands packed into the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum for the Annual Careity Celebrity Cutting event and concert.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price kicked off the night, riding into the coliseum on horseback, and proclaiming it “Careity Day” in the city of Fort Worth.
Several celebrities were on hand to celebrate the 20th event and to display their riding skills but more than an evening of just entertainment, participants reflected on why they were riding.
“The Careity Foundation has always been such a remarkable foundation,” said Jay Novacek, former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver. “They help people out and that’s what we all need to do.”
Grammy Award winning singer Lyle Lovett echoed similar sentiments.
“[Careity co-founders] Beverly Branch and Lyn Walsh do such wonderful work for the Careity Foundation,” Lovett said. “I’ve gotten to know them over the years from doing shows in Fort Worth; it’s really touching what they are able to do to help people.”
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102