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Boys win three straight

Number 5, Charles Ruise, Jr.The Wildcat faithful hope that the varsity basketball team has finally turned the corner. The Cats are riding a three-game win streak going into the Florida First Coast Classic (see related story), and won two of those games this past week with home victories over Baldwin and Interlachen.

The wins gave the Cats a 3-5 record after losing their first three games. Coach Charles Ruise was upbeat and promised his team would “surprise people.”

It was sweet retribution for the Wildcats to beat the Indians, who had hammered BCHS in Baldwin 61-44 and dominated all aspects of the game early this season. The Cats returned the favor on December 13 with a 65-55 pasting of Baldwin.

For much of the game it was a nip and tuck affair with both teams trading basket for basket. BCHS got the early edge with three-point shots from Jesse Gardner and Cameron Mack to give them a slim 12-10 lead at the end of the first period.

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Layers of Yule spirit

“You are a cheater and you cheat,” said son Dylan.

“I am not a cheater,” said cousin Ashton.

“We did not cheat,” said Ashton’s friend  Crystal. “You said there weren’t any rules.”

“Once the competition started,” squawked Dylan. “You built half of your house … barn … whatever it is before you got here.”

It’s the Annual Gingerbread House Building Contest and the competitors are at each other’s throats hurling insults and gumdrops.

Somehow this helps promote Christmas cheer, or so they tell me before they take a swipe at each other’s house.

“Are you sure that is even gingerbread?” said Dylan.

“Looks like plywood to me,” chimes in his sister Sara Beth, who is making a miniature gingerbread village with her partner Ana Tomas.

“It is not plywood,” said Ashton. “It is a gingerbread farm. Since Crystal and I are agriculture teachers it seemed appropriate.”

“You’re still a cheater.”

“Am not.”

“Are to.”

Christmas cheer is filling the air.

“I quit,” said Caitlyn Dugger as all four of her walls collapse the moment she tries to put on the roof.

“You can’t quit,” said her mama Cathy Crews. “I’ll help you and Gary.”

The spirit of Christmas cooperation.

“What? You can’t help her. I need you here. We’re making peanut brittle shingles,” said her partner Cheryl Hart.

The spirit of Christmas cooperation quashed.

“You bit the head off my snowman,” said Dylan.

“No I didn’t. That was a spare marshmallow,” said his partner Sarah Davis.

“Sarah, we’re trying to win this thing and you’re eating my snowman.”

“Is that an outhouse?” said Ashton.

“That is not an outhouse,” said Sara Beth, offended. “I’ll have you know that is the cathedral for our gingerbread village.”

“Looks like an outhouse to me.”

“And what is that in your farm?”

“That’s a wagon made out of sugar wafers.”

“What’s in it?” asked Sara Beth.

“Hay,” said Crystal.

“Looks like chicken manure.”

“Hey!”

“Stop eating my snowmen.”

“I think we’re pushing the rules this year after last year’s candle fiasco,” said Sara Beth.

“You have to admit that was pretty darned awesome,” said Cheryl.

“Until your house caught on fire and had to be doused with water.”

In last year’s competition, Cheryl cut out the windows, covered them with paper and put a lit candle inside the house for added affect. It was very impressive until we had to call out the gingerbread fire brigade.

I just want you to understand that I have no stake in this contest. I am merely a chronicler like Mark Twain or Alexander Pope.

My bunch is incredibly competitive. They get it from their Mama who has been known to mope around all day after losing a game of Scrabble. Her progeny have been known to sweep all the tiles off a Scrabble board if they lose. So I choose not to compete. I’m a neutral observer, like Switzerland.

“I think our farm looks pretty good,” said Crystal.

“For manufactured housing,” quips Dylan.

“Doesn’t it look good Uncle Bob?” asked Ashton.

“I’m Switzerland.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

There’s a lot of laughter going on in our dining room. A lot of good natured ribbing and plenty of creativity. It’s a fun time.

It’s become something of a Christmas tradition in our house and though I’m not Bob the Builder and prefer to sit back and watch the competitors at work, I still enjoy it a lot.

Keller student wins T-U writing contest

Abigayle PriceAbigayle Price of Sanderson won the young student division of The Florida Times-Unions’ 32nd annual Holiday Short Story Contest for her tale of a working-class father who nearly misses a long-standing family tradition.

The 9-year-old fourth grader in Keller Intermediate School’s gifted program wrote “Family Traditions” after studying short stories in teacher Cathy Hooper’s class.

Ms. Hooper said her students reviewed stories like Edgar Allen Poe’s A Tell Tale Heart and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, a story by Ambrose Bierce and inspired by Poe’s most famous work.

Students then crafted their own stories.

Ms. Price’s short story is fictional, but she said it includes characters named after real people in her life, including her bus driver.

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David Wirth, Jr., 30. of Jacksonville

David William Wirth Jr., 30, of Jacksonville died December 9, 2011. He was born in Jacksonville to David William Wirth Sr. and Tina Elizabeth Landry Battles on March 25, 1981. He was a resident of Macclenny through his junior high school years and at the time of his death was residing in Jacksonville. David was an avid Gator and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. He enjoyed spending time with his family most specially his wife and children. He was predeceased by his grandfather Charles David Wirth.

Survivors include his wife of eight years Tishauna Wirth; father, David William (Renee) Wirth Sr. (USN retired); mother, US Army Captain Tina E. (Walter) Battles of Macclenny; children Davis William Wirth III, Kelly Elaine Wirth and Lauren Ann Wirth, all of Jacksonville; maternal grandparents Robert and Carolyn Landry Sr.; paternal grandmother Margaret Wirth; uncles Robert (Marilou) Landry Jr. of Harrisburg, PA, Mark (Susan) Landry of  Columbus, OH; brothers US Army Sgt. Scott (Diana) Wirth of Riverview, FL, US Navy PO1 Michael (Hannah) Wirth of Port Orchard, WA, Ian Thompson of Madison, WI, Brad  Foster of Middleburg; sisters Kathryn Thompson (Shane) Mathews of Valdosta, Alison (William) Messick of Jacksonville, Alaina Thompson of Monroe, WI, Selina (Clifford) Lloyd of Baldwin, Daphne Battles of Sanderson; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

The funeral service was held Monday, December 12 at 2 pm at New Life Church of God in Macclenny with Pastor Frank J. Pintello Jr. officiating. Interment followed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Macclenny. V. Todd Ferreira Funeral Services was in charge of arrangements.

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