Archive for August, 2015

Ham Found Guilty Second Time For Murder

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Wellington– On Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, a Collingsworth County jury found 47-year-old Harold Bud Ham, of Turkey, guilty of the first degree felony offense of murder.

At the conclusion of the four-day jury trial, the jury sentenced Ham on Friday to life in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Luke Inman, the District Attorney for the 100th Judicial District, prosecuted the case for the State of Texas, with the Honorable Judge Stuart Messer presiding.

“He shot him out of meanness, he shot him execution style for getting into his cooler,” Inman stated during the close in the guilt innocence phase of the trial.

Ham was arrested by then Chief Deputy Tom Heck of Hall County for the offense on Aug. 15, 2008, and made numerous confessions on that night.

Ham was previously convicted in September of 2009 and received 99 years from a Hall County Jury.

In March of 2015, Ham prevailed on a writ of habeas corpus for ineffective assistance of trial counsel in the 2009 trial. In the application, Ham executed a second supplemental affidavit stating that he would have accepted a 45 year offer from the State.

Ham was brought back to Hall County and then rejected the State’s offer and requested another jury trial.

“We were able to get all witnesses back from the previous trial and put together an altogether different presentation of the facts and evidence, which I think really worked well this time around,” said Inman.

The state called multiple witnesses during the guilt innocence phase. Larry Dozier and Joe Mark Davis were two eye witnesses to Darrel Wayne Randall’s death that night in Turkey. Texas Ranger Marshall Thomas and Sheriff Heck testified to the entire investigation that was conducted.

Jerek Brown, a forensic firearm examiner, was able to match two of three bullets collected during the autopsy to the .22 caliber firearm Ham used to shoot Randall three times that night, all to the head.

The four day jury trial ended late Friday, after the jury deliberated for thirty minutes on guilt / innocence and approximately two hours on punishment.

“Both jury trials have ended well against this Defendant,” said Inman. “We were happy with the verdict in 2009 of 99 years and the same was true with today’s verdict of life. That’s what we were asking for and that’s what they decided today since this Defendant took the life of Darrell.”

Ham will have to serve at least 30 years before he becomes parole eligible.

Homecoming, Museum Day Quickly Approaching

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Panhandle Homecoming and Museum Day are just around the corner with Homecoming slated for Friday, Sept. 11, with the Panhandle Panthers facing the Spearman Lynx at 7 p.m. Museum Day will be the next day, Saturday, Sept. 12, at the County Ag Barn.

These are some of the activities currently scheduled:

On Friday, Sept. 11, a Mexican Pile On in the high school cafeteria from 5 to 6:30 sponsored by the Panhandle Chamber of Commerce. Retro Main Street Drag after the football game. If not participating, come and watch from the courthouse grounds or the gazebo.

Saturday, Sept. 12 events include: Pioneer Tea honoring the PHS Golden Oldies will begin at 9 o’clock Saturday morning, Sept. 12, in the High School Library. A member of the school board will give a tour of the new Panhandle school facilities. Museum Day Barbeque –“Honoring the Generations” from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $7 for children and those little ones under age five will eat free.The annual Country Store opens at 11:30, but donated goods may be brought any time before that.

Guest Speaker for the annual event will be Jack London. He will speak immediately following the Barbeque Dinner at the Ag Barn.

Pruitt Family Art Reception in Hazlewood Auditorium from 4-5:30 p.m. Both galleries, Hazlewood and the Square House Galleries, will be exhibiting artwork from the different members of the Pruitt family.

If your class is having a reunion and would like a table(s) reserved for you at the barbeque, call Janie Plumlee at the Museum at 537-3524.

PISD & You: Panhandle Schools Focused On Overall Excellence

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

By Blair Brown

Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year. In Panhandle, we are totally committed to creating a culture of excellence. From the curriculum to the grounds, we want everything to be excellent. We absolutely have the best students anywhere. Panhandle Independent School District is the preeminent public school system in the Texas Panhandle. Our staff is anxiously waiting for your children to get back, so we can go to work

Last year brought a tremendous amount of success to the district. Academically, we are continuing to make progress. All three campuses exceeded the state accountability performance marks set for 2014-2015. The school rating site ‘School Digger’ rated Panhandle ISD 24th out of 943 school districts in the state of Texas. Last year Panhandle ISD was ranked at 60th in ‘School Digger.’ Not only are we focusing on academics, but our students continue to have outstanding success in art, music, athletics, One Act Play, Debate, UIL academics, agriculture, Health Science Technology, Home Economics, computer and many other areas. Many of our students are enrolled in Dual Credit classes from Clarendon College and a few will graduate from Panhandle with an associate’s degree as well as a high school diploma. I am so proud of everything our students have accomplished and look forward to seeing what they can do in 2015-2016.

Of course, all of this success would not be possible without an awesome staff that is willing to go the extra mile for the students at Panhandle. “Teaching is the one profession that creates other professions” and we are proud of the fact that PISD is full of committed individuals. We also know that the kind of success that we experienced in 2014-2015 is a direct result of great parents, great educators and a supportive community.

The sights and sounds of a new school year are all around: bands marching, whistles blowing, lockers opening for the first time and I am certain that 2015-2016 will be an awesome school year! I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to be the Superintendent of such an awesome place.

A Letter Of Thanks To Panhandle

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone, not only at the courthouse, but also in the community to say thank you for welcoming me and my family to the community. We have been in the community for a year now and it just feels like home.

My name is Vanessa Watkins and most of you know me as Vanessa Biggs. I am the daughter of the Kathy and the late Wayne Biggs and granddaughter the late Betty and Jim Biggs.

As some of you may know, I am not brand new to the community, but have been in and out of the community throughout the years including my third grade year at Panhandle Elementary as well as summer vacations and holidays.

I want you also to know that I am now working in the courthouse as Judge Dan Looten’s secretary and loving it. It has been an awesome opportunity for me, especially with my children being in school here. It has been awesome seeng my children become the fourth generation to grow up in Panhandle.

So, thank you so much for welcoming us to this town of Pride and Purpose and I look forward to serving you the best that I can. My husband is James Watkins who works at Bell Helicopter in the Security department and my two boys are Blayne and Issac Watkins.

Thanks Panhandle, so much for everything.

Vanessa Watkins

Carson County Sheriff’s Report

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

By Sheriff Loren Brand

Carson County dispatch handled 74 calls for service last week with four traffic accidents, 18 EMS calls, three domestic violence and four disturbances. There were 26 persons arrested last week and we are currently holding 32 persons in custody.

Bond on Mark Brantley (five counts of Aggravated Assault with a Firearm) has been raised from $250,000 to $1,000,000.

A DPS traffic stop Thursday, Aug. 20, on I-40 led to the seizure of over four pounds of heroin valued at over $579,000. Nineteen-year-old Isidro Del Real and 19-year-old Alejandro Arredondo of Phoenix, Ariz. were arrested for possession of the heroin and were later released to federal authorities for further investigation.

We are seeing a resurgence of heroin in rural communities as well as large metropolitan areas since hydrocodone and oxycodone are becoming more difficult to acquire by prescription or through other means.

I’ve received more calls on scams that target dating or social group site users. Unfortunately, no one is immune to these predators. Christian dating sites, senior sites and widows or widowers alike are being stalked by these vermin. I dare you to find a lower life form than those who prey on the lonely, sad and vulnerable in our world. Victims of these predators don’t want to believe they’ve been taken in and are often too embarrassed to admit that they’ve been duped. When I am asked to talk with victims about half will believe me and the other half still cling to hope. But I’m always available if you have family or friends who may be ready to or who have fallen prey to the scammers. We can seldom recover the financial loss, but we will try to help limit it.

God Bless our Troops, Veterans, Emergency Responders and God Bless America.

Edward “Eddie” Allen Waters

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Eddie Waters

1960-Eddie Waters(1)Newton, Miss. - Services for Edward "Eddie" Allen Waters were held Thursday, Aug.20, 2015 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hickory, Miss. Burial followed in Mount Vernon Baptist Church Cemetery with Newton County Funeral Home - South in charge of arrangements. Bro. Mike Rasberry officiated.

Mr. Waters, 73, passed away Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. He was born Monday, July 27, 1942, in Wichita Falls, Texas to Lonnie and Gladys Louise Waters. He was member of the Panhandle High School graduating Class of 1960.

Mr. Waters retired as Sergeant Major from the United States Marine Corp after 25 years of dedicated service. He served seven years in Vietnam and also served in Qatar, Kuwait. He was a member of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, American Legion, and the VFW. Mr. Waters will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and a friend. To all who are serving and have served his family says, “Semper Fi.”

He is preceded in death by his parents, Lonnie and Gladys Louise Waters; daughter, Cherish Waters Wright; and grandson, Thomas Jose (T.J.) Williams.

He is survived by his wife, Sara Boutwell Waters; daughters, Kathryn Star (Kevin) Winfield, Michelle Waters Marker, Christian Waters (Leroy) Ornels; sons, Ronald (Carla) Williams, Edward Allen (Cindy) Waters, Jr.; thirteen grandchildren, five great-grandchildren; and special family Al and Marilyn Bones and Robert Gould.

PISD Board Holds Special Meeting To Discuss Roofing Projects, Adjunct Staff Status

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

The Board of Trustees of the Panhandle Independent School District met in special session on Aug. 10, 2015, at 6 p.m. in the board room of the administration building. Members present were John Smith, Tara Ogletree, Steve Ford, Jason Davis and Nick Kuehler. School personnel present were Blair Brown and Jamie Moore. Greg Carroll of ARMKO was also present.

Mr. Kuehler gave the invocation after the board recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Greg Carroll, representative from ARMKO, has overseen the bidding process for a roof repair project. He was in attendance to present the results of the roof project bid. Contractors were invited to submit sealed bids on Aug. 4, 2015. The base proposal bid was for repairs employing a “spray coating” and includes a 10-year warranty. Mr. Carroll showed no hesitation in opting for the low bid, which was presented by CS Advantage USAA.

The board accepted the bid from CS Advantage USAA.

TASB has been contacted regarding additional damage, believed to have resulted from this occurrence. Additional losses are pending for the hail damage to the barrel roofs at the elementary and Panther Gym, the tunnel between the junior high and high school building, along with damage to several HVAC units.

The State Board of Education passed an amendment that provides local school boards the opportunity to recognize county Extension agents as adjunct staff members and to count students participating in 4-H/Extension educational activities “in attendance for Foundation School Program purposes.” Requirements for Student Attendance Accounting for State Funding Purposes allows public school students to be considered “in attendance” when participating in off-campus activities with an adjunct staff member of the school district. The student must be participating in an activity which is approved by the local board and is under the direction of a professional staff member of the school district or an adjunct staff member. Students participating in any activity which is not approved by the local school board and/or without certified district personnel supervision are counted absent. Carson County requested adjunct staff member status for the county Extension agents for the school year 2015-2016.

The board approved the Resolution Regarding Extracurricular Status of 4-H Organizations in Carson County as presented, granting Jody Bradford and Jeanene Montgomery adjunct staff status.

The board approved the 2014-2015 budget amendments as presented, as well as a revised stipend schedule.

There being no further agenda items, the meeting was adjourned at 6:51 p.m. by order of the president with no voiced objections.

Conway Traffic Stop Yield Large Heroin Bust

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a traffic stop Thursday on IH-40, yielding over four pounds of heroin valued at over $579,000.

At approximately 10:32 a.m., a DPS trooper conducted a traffic stop on a 2005 Honda Accord traveling eastbound on IH-40, for a traffic violation, near Conway in Carson County.

The occupants of the Accord were identified as Isidro Del Real, 19, of Phoenix and Alejandro Arredondo, 19, of Laveen, Ariz. During the traffic stop, the trooper discovered three bundles of heroin inside the window cowling.

Both occupants were placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance over 400 grams, a first-degree felony, and booked into the Carson County Jail. The illegal drugs were allegedly being transported from Phoenix to an unknown destination.

Carson County Library News

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

By Mary Hare

Our Summer Reading Program has come to an end and the winners have been drawn. Thank you to all of you who participated in our reading log contest and for the parents who helped check out books and read to the little ones.

We had a total of 129 kids participating in the program from Panhandle, 29 from Groom, nine from Skellytown and 74 from White Deer, for a total of 241 children. Out of those, we had 75 who actually completed their reading logs, GREAT JOB!!

The two Grand Prize winners of the $150 were: Kyler Young and Kennedi Rawlins, both of Panhandle. Emily Britten from Groom won the My Little Pony treasure chest of books. The winners of the four T-shirts were Kinlea Ford and John Detten, both of Panhandle, Paige Weinheimer of Groom and Damien Denham of Skellytown. The winners of the four back pack were Emma Tow and Addison Young, both of Panhandle, Hugh Britten of Groom and Ally Means of White Deer.

Panhandle Book Club will meets on Sept. 14, to discuss the book “Boys in the Boat.” Their next meeting will be on Oct. 5, after reading “The Children Act.”

You are welcome to join the “Friends of Carson County Library” at their annual meeting on Sept. 21, at 5:45 p.m. in the Panhandle Library.

Mommy & Me reading program for preschoolers and their mommies or babysitters will start on Oct. 10, from 10-10:30 in Panhandle.

Come check our newest books including: “Alert” by James Patterson, “Code of Conduct” by Brad Thor, “The Melody Lingers On” by Mary Higgins Clark and “Good Hope Road” by Lisa Wingate.

Some new talking books include: “Motive” by Jonathan Kellerman, “Blueprints” by Barbara Delinsky, “Country” by Danielle Steel and “Truth or Die” by James Patterson.

Our newest DVD’s include: “Home”, “Insurgent”, “The Longest Ride”, and “Paul Blart, Mall Cop 3.”

Come check out your nearest library, “like” us on facebook, or visit us on the web at

Panhandle 4-H’ers Help Snack Pak 4 Kids

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

IMG_3786Panhandle 4-H’ers showed up with helping hands on Aug. 17, to help get the Paks ready for the new school year. Approximately 30 volunteers helped pack over 300 bags in less than 30 minutes. The group of young people were a inspiring and vital part of the packing efforts.

“Thank you so much to our own Carson County 4-H group for helping us feed the children in our community. These kids did an amazing job!” said Dianna McGill, Snack Pak 4 Kids Community Coordinator.

4-H’ers helping out were Paisley Kennedy, Tori Bunch and Blakely Olsen; back - left to right, Christopher McLaughlin, Jared Dauer, Ashby Dauer, Whitney Kennedy and Spencer Keys.