Republican Red Gala in Wise County

By D. A. Sharpe (a 1,100 article, 36 columnar inches)



The 15th annual fund-raising event for Republicans in Wise County took place Saturday evening, January 27, 2018 with an audience of about 300 at the Decatur Civic Center, sponsored by Wise Republican Women, the Wise County affiliate of the Texas Federation of Republican Women.  It’s known as the Red Gala, and its name in earlier years was the Rhinestone Round Up. 


The purpose is to raise funds for the benefit of Republican candidates and for the Wise Republican Party, whose retiring Chairman after a decade of leadership is attorney Allen L. Williamson of Runaway Bay.  He is being followed by the newly elected Chairman, W. Eric Marney of Boyd.  The newly elected President of WRW is Darla Anderson Bailey of Paradise.


The event Chairman was WRW outgoing President, Sandra Brady (Sandy) Burrough.  This is her last leadership event in Wise County, as she and her husband, William (Bill) O. Burrough, are moving soon to Collin County.





Republican candidates competing in the March 6, 2018 Texas Republican Party Primary Election present and introduced were, in order of their place in the March 6 ballot:


Senator Craig Estes              Texas Senate District #30

Pat Fallon                             Texas Senate District #30

Phil King                               Texas House of Representatives #60

Judge Dabney Bassel            Justice, 2nd Court of Appeals, Place 5

District Judge Brock Smith   Judge 271st Judicial District (Wise-Jack)

Judge J. D. Clark                           Wise County Judge

Brenda Starnes Rowe           Wise County District Clerk

Julie Schooling                      Wise County Clerk

Clerk Sherry C. Lemon                 Wise County Clerk

Treas. Katherine Hudson     Wise County Treasurer

Johnny Wall                          Wise County Commissioner Pct. 2

Comis. Kevin Burns              Wise County Commissioner Pct. 2

Comis. Gaylord Kennedy     Wise County Commissioner Pct. 4

Judge Jan Morrow                Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 1

Ashly Coker DoByns            Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2

Jdg. Callie Watts-Manning   Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2

Kim Redman                         Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2

Tammy Cowley Sosa            Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 2

Jdg. Mandy Hopkins Hays   Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 3

Kent Bucky Manoushagian   Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 4

Todd Bailey                          Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 4

Willie Garrett                       Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 4

Cary Mellema                       Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 3

Terry N. Terry                     Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 3

Tony White                          Wise County Justice of the Peace Pct. 3

W. Eric Marney                    Wise Republican Party Chairman


Elected officials not on the March 6, 2018 Primary Ballot present were:


Comis. Harry Lamance                 Wise County Commissioner Pct. 3

Assessor Monte Shaw          Wise County Tax Assessor/Collector

Jdg. Stephen J. Wren            Judge, Wise County Court at Law #2


Besides funds raised by sale of dinner tickets, contributions were received, as well as activity in the silent auction for gift items donated by many Wise County Republicans. 


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Special remarks were given by three incumbent office holders.  County Judge J. D. Clark gave a State of the County address about how Wise County’s current 62,000 population is estimated to become 101,000 by 2040.  He stressed the current projects the County Government needs to begin now to accommodate that large growth in just 22 years! He emphasized the importance of citizens being involved in various ways to serve in the community besides being an elected official. He had the citizens currently serving in such manner to stand for recognition.  It was a pleasingly sizeable group present that evening.

State Representative Phil King, District #60, Wise and Parker Counties, spoke about the Speaker of the House matters, and that he is a declared candidate for that role having been vacated recently.  When the legislature comes into session early in 2019, the members of the Texas House will elect whichever among themselves they wish to become the Speaker of the House, the guiding leader about the process of developing legislation and the relating of that business to the Texas Senate.


Senator Craig Estes addressed the audience about Texas having become the 11th state of 32 needed to call for a Convention of the States to deal with a few specified issues for consideration of amendments to the United States Constitution. 





The keynote speaker was 51-year old Melva (Mel) Collins Birdwell of Granbury, wife of Texas Senator Brian Douglas Birdwell (22nd District).  Her husband, Lt. Col. Brian Douglas Birdwell survived the terrorists’ attacks on September 11, 2001 on the Pentagon. 


Ms. Birdwell’s presentation was recounting the terrible events of that traumatic day.  Her husband at that time was Army Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell, stationed at the Pentagon.  She was home with their 12-year old son, Matthew, on the second day of their beginning home schooling.  The shocking report of the disaster plummeted her into a terrifying pathway, trying to reach Georgetown Hospital where she’d been told that Lt. Col. Birdwell had been taken.


The pathway included pedestrian movements for the last couple of miles, with most traffic exiting the area in the opposite direction from which she was traveling.  Him being at Georgetown Hospital turned out to be a form of miracle, as he was the only Pentagon patient taken there.  The others went to other area hospitals.  This hospital had one of the leading surgeons and specialized nurses in the area for burn treatments.  Lt. Col Birdwell had 60% of his skin burned off his body.


The next several days were intense balancing between life and death.  Army personnel tried to get Ms. Birdwell to sign papers to begin an Army medical retirement process.  In her heart, she believed the Godly guidance she was sensing told her not to accept that “benefit,” that her husband was going to recover and still serve in the Army. 

One of the special occasions in the first few days of hospitalization was that President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, visited Lt. Col. Birdwell at the hospital.





Such results being the case for his recovery, sustained by her, her husband, and their friends with fervent prayer and reliance upon the healing providences of God the Father.  Recovery was long and hard, but it was accomplished! 


Lt. Col. Birdwell’s service to his country concluded shortly thereafter.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Legion of Merit.  Subsequently, he was elected to office as Texas State Senator for District #22, a 9-county area, plus parts of two other counties.  The largest city in it is Waco.  Today he Senator Brian Birdwell. The Birdwell family resides in Granbury, Hood County.


Mrs. Birdwell’s testimony visibly moved the audience with sympathetic emotion, and it was received as one of the most effective messages given in this series of Republican annual events.


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