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Family and friends mourn during services for 2-year-old Sarbesh Gurung

Dozens of family and friends mourned the death of 2-year-old Sarbesh Gurung on Tuesday during a viewing service and burial.

During the viewing service at Bill DeBerry Funeral Directors, a variety of flowers were laid on his casket while people cried and hugged each other. Sarbesh’s mother, Sunita Gurung, audibly sobbed during the entire service, getting louder when being helped up to see his casket. When she reached the casket, she collapsed and continued to cry.

Hundreds of people showed up to help search for Sarbesh on July 2, before he was found dead the next morning in a car near where he lived. A vigil was held for him last Wednesday night in the parking lot where he was found.

Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said during a press conference last Wednesday morning that he could not say definitively if the vehicle Sarbesh was found in was searched during the July 2 efforts.

Sarbesh Gurung

“Can we conclusively say that someone went and checked every door handle of every vehicle out there?” Dixon said. “Obviously, we can’t say that.”

The investigation into Sarbesh’s death is “ongoing pending the final report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner,” Khristen Jones, a Denton Police spokesperson said.

The medical examiner has not determined a cause of death, according to its website.

A moment of silence was held for Sarbesh near the beginning of the viewing service as people stood, many with their heads bowed.

The service for Sarbesh lasted around 30 minutes and included a picture of him on an easel while people sat scattered in various pews of the chapel.

After collapsing upon seeing the casket, Sunita was helped up and over to a pew, where she continued to cry. When the viewing service for Sarbesh ended, family and friends helped her out of the chapel while she sobbed.

Following the viewing service, family and friends drove to Roselawn Memorial Park in Denton for the burial service, which lasted around 45 minutes. Family and friends took turns going up to his casket and paying their respects, after which they hugged each other and cried.

One of the Gurung’s neighbors, Martha Holt, told the Denton Record-Chronicle last Wednesday that Sarbesh’s mother spoke about her son’s joyful personality when they had spoken that morning.

“This morning she was just talking about him and how sweet he was and his personality,” Holt said last Wednesday. “Just talking about how he was so friendly and happy and laughed all the time and that’s exactly like he was. And then she says, ‘I just can’t believe he’s not here. I just keep thinking I [will] see him.’”

A GoFundMe page — — for the Gurung family has raised just under $17,000 as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Jeff Woo/DRC  

Construction crews reopened Eagle Drive between Carroll Boulevard and South Elm Street on Tuesday in Denton, after finishing most of the planned storm drainage improvements. The street had been closed since the beginning of December. The $2.54 million project suffered some weather delays and crews uncovered issues with groundwater during construction. The project was funded by 2012 and 2014 bond programs and is expected to be completed next month.

Colorful self-made billionaire H. Ross Perot dies at 89

DALLAS — H. Ross Perot, the colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice mounted outsider campaigns for president, has died. He was 89.

The cause of death was leukemia, a family spokesman said Tuesday.

Perot, whose 19% of the vote in 1992 stands among the best showings by an independent candidate in the past century, died early Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by his family, said the spokesman, James Fuller.

As a boy in Texarkana, Perot delivered newspapers from the back of a pony. He earned his billions in a more modern fashion, however. After attending the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming a salesman for IBM, he went his own way — creating and building Electronic Data Systems Corp., which helped other companies manage their computer networks.

The most famous event in his business career didn’t involve sales and earnings, however. In 1979, he financed a private commando raid to free two EDS employees who were being held in a prison in Iran. The tale was turned into a book and a movie.

“I always thought of him as stepping out of a Norman Rockwell painting and living the American dream,” said Tom Luce, who was a young lawyer when Perot hired him to handle his business and personal legal work. “A newspaper boy, a midshipman, shaking Dwight Eisenhower’s hand at his graduation, and he really built the computer-services industry at EDS.”

“He had the vision and the tenacity to make it happen,” Luce said. “He was a great communicator. He never employed a speechwriter — he wrote all his own speeches. He was a great storyteller.”

Perot first attracted attention beyond business circles by claiming that the U.S. government left behind hundreds of American soldiers who were missing or imprisoned at the end of the Vietnam War. Perot fanned the issue at home and discussed it privately with Vietnamese officials in the 1980s, angering the Reagan administration, which was formally negotiating with Vietnam’s government.

Perot’s wealth, fame and confident prescription for the nation’s economic ills propelled his 1992 campaign against President George H.W. Bush and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. In June of that year, a Gallup poll showed Perot leading his major-party rivals, but he dropped out in July, then rejoined the race less than five weeks before the election.

Perot spent $63.5 million of his own money, much of it on 30-minute television spots during which he used charts and graphs to make his points, summarizing them with a line that became a national catchphrase: “It’s just that simple.”

His homespun quips were a hallmark of his presidential campaign. Other memorable lines included his take on negative campaigning (“let’s get off mud wrestling”) and on getting things done (“don’t just sit here slow dancing for four years”).

Some Republicans blamed Perot for Bush’s loss to Clinton, as Perot garnered the largest percentage of votes for a third-party candidate since former President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 bid.

Perot’s second campaign four years later was far less successful. He was shut out of presidential debates when organizers said he lacked sufficient support. He got just 8% of the vote, and the Reform Party that he founded and hoped to build into a national political force began to fall apart.

However, Perot’s ideas on trade and deficit reduction remained part of the political landscape. He blamed both major parties for running up a huge federal budget deficit and allowing American jobs to be sent to other countries. The movement of U.S. jobs to Mexico, he said, created a “giant sucking sound.”

Perot continued to speak out about federal spending for many years. In 2008, he launched a website to highlight the nation’s debt with a ticker that tracked the rising total, a blog and a chart presentation.

In Dallas, Perot left his mark by creating the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, helping finance the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and being a major benefactor of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He also provided help to families dealing with medical expenses or other challenges, according to those who knew him.

“He gave a lot to other people in public ways, but he also did it in private ways that nobody saw. There were thousands of stories just like that,” said Meyerson, a longtime senior executive in Perot’s companies.

Henry Ross Perot was born in Texarkana on June 27, 1930. His father was a cotton broker; his mother a secretary. Perot said his family survived the Depression relatively well through hard work and by managing their money carefully.

Young Perot’s first job was delivering papers in a poor, mostly black part of town from his pony, Miss Bee. When the newspaper tried to cut his commission, he said he complained to the publisher — and won. He said that taught him to take problems straight to the top.

From Texarkana, Perot went to the U.S. Naval Academy, never having been on a ship or seen the ocean. After the Navy, Perot joined International Business Machines in 1955 and quickly became a top salesman. In his last year at IBM, he filled his sales quota for the year in January.

In 1962, with $1,000 from his wife, Margot — they met on a blind date — Perot founded Electronic Data Systems. Hardware accounted for about 80% of the computer business, Perot said, and IBM wasn’t interested in the other 20%, including services.

Many of the early hires at EDS were former military men, and they had to abide by Perot’s strict dress code — white shirts, ties, no beards or mustaches — and long workdays. Many had crew cuts, like Perot.

The company’s big break came in the mid-1960s when the federal government created Medicare and Medicaid. States needed help running the programs, and EDS won contracts — starting in Texas — to handle the millions of claims.

EDS first sold stock to the public in 1968, and overnight, Perot was worth $350 million. His fortune doubled and tripled as the stock price rose steadily.

In 1984, he sold control of the company to General Motors Corp. for $2.5 billion and received $700 million in a buyout. In 2008, EDS was sold to Hewlett-Packard Co.

Perot went on to establish another computer-services company, Perot Systems Corp. He retired as CEO in 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Ross Perot Jr., In 2009, the Dell computer company bought Perot Systems for $3.9 billion.

Forbes magazine this year estimated Perot’s wealth at $4.1 billion.

It was during the Nixon administration that Perot became involved in the issue of U.S. prisoners of war. Perot said Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asked him to lead a campaign to improve treatment of POWs held in North Vietnam. Perot chartered two jets to fly medical supplies and the wives of POWs to Southeast Asia. They were not allowed into North Vietnam, but the trip attracted enormous media attention.

After their release in 1973, some prisoners said conditions in the camps had improved after the missions.

In 1979, the Iranian government jailed two EDS executives, and Perot vowed to win their release.

“Ross came to the prison one day and said, ‘We’re going to get you out,’” one of the men, Paul Chiapparone, told The Associated Press. “How many CEOs would do that today?”

Perot recruited retired U.S. Army Special Forces Col. Arthur “Bull” Simons to lead a commando raid on the prison. A few days later, the EDS executives walked free after the shah’s regime fell and mobs stormed the prison. Simons’ men sneaked the executives out of the country and into Turkey. The adventure was recalled in Ken Follett’s best-selling book, “On Wings of Eagles,” and a TV miniseries.

In later years, Perot pushed the Veterans Affairs Department to study neurological causes of Gulf War syndrome, reported by many soldiers who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf war. He scoffed at officials who blamed the illnesses on stress — “as if they are wimps” — and paid for additional research.

Perot received a special award from the VA in 2009 for his support of veterans and the military.

In Texas, Perot led commissions on education reform and crime. He was given many honorary degrees and awards for business success and patriotism.

Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that “Texas and America have lost a strong patriot.”

“Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed. He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world,” Bush said. “He loved the U.S. military and supported our service members and veterans. Most importantly, he loved his dear wife, children, and grandchildren.”

While he worked at Perot Systems in suburban Dallas, entire hallways were filled with memorabilia from soldiers and POWs that Perot had helped. His personal office was dominated by large paintings of his wife and five children and bronze sculptures by Frederic Remington.

Several original Norman Rockwell paintings hung in the waiting area, and Perot once told a visiting reporter that he tried to live by Rockwell’s ethics of hard, honest work and family.

Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

Andy Jacobsohn/Dallas Morning News file photo 

Ross Perot used to deliver the Texarkana Gazette and Daily News using a Latonia bicycle he brought from his cousin for $5. Perot was photographed at the former Dell headquarters in Plano in 2016. 

Denton-area hospitals work to reduce opioid use

Through an initiative started in June 2018, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton used 46% fewer opioid doses in the emergency room and wrote 54% fewer prescriptions for home use, according to a press release.

For Medical City Denton, Medical City Healthcare’s chief medical officer Miguel S. Benet said in a written statement that they’ve seen “reduced utilization of opioids in our emergency departments (ED) and operating rooms because of these ‘alternative to opioids’ programs (ALTO and ESR).” ALTO refers to Alternatives to Opiates program and ESR refers to Enhanced Surgical Recovery.

“The drop in the ED has been around 21% for the Medical City hospitals in North Texas,” Benet said in his statement.

In 2017, Texas health providers wrote 53.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared with the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Texas Opioid Summary.

“This is our effort to try to create a reduction in our contribution to the opiate crisis in the U.S.,” Timothy Harris, Texas Health Denton’s chief medical officer, said in the release.

Instead of opioids, Texas Health Denton is opting to use Toradol, an intravenous non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, and Ofirmev, the intravenous form of acetaminophen and nitrous oxide — also known as laughing gas — to help treat pain.

“Opiates are effective and fast-acting, so it’s an easy go-to,” Harris said. “But the lessons that we learned as clinicians is that narcotics can be dangerous because of the addiction potential. We don’t want [to] give you two medical problems — a chronic pain issue and an opiate addiction that destroys lives, careers, families.”

And through the initiative to reduce opioid use, Texas Health leadership “agreed on a treatment algorithm to avoid opiate prescriptions for six kinds of pain: dental, back, musculoskeletal, abdominal, headaches and kidney stones,” according to the release.

“We just wanted to be more responsible,” said An Nguyen, the medical director of the emergency room at Texas Health Denton. “This is something that has been thought of in the east coast ... so this is nothing new.”

Nguyen said the initiative has not affected the level of care at all.

“If anything, it has improved the level of care because most patients do not care about what you give them for pain ... the vast majority of the time as long as we keep them comfortable with any modality, they are fine with it,” Nguyen said. “So it has actually improved the level because we are using all the medication [and] we have been more responsible with it. So we are not causing additional harm to our patients.”

The initiative is part of a pilot program for Texas Health Resources, Glenn Hardesty, chairman of the opioid committee at Texas Health Denton, said in the press release.

“We have many other efforts, some at a system level and some at the individual hospital level, which are actively pursuing multiple strategies to improve the health of the communities we serve,” Hardesty said. “We established a comprehensive opioid committee to look at how opioids are used in the system and to identify areas where we can have significant impact on the epidemic.”

Commissioner seeks county fire regulations for mobile home parks

County Commissioner Hugh Coleman pressed the county staff on Tuesday to draft new fire safety rules that distinguish between a mobile home park and an RV park.

His request came after commissioners were asked to approve a plat for a new, 6-acre park for recreational vehicles at the corner of FM2931 and Mustang Road near Aubrey.

“I’m not against mobile home parks or RV parks — I just want to make sure we don’t have a fire disaster because we didn’t require [the correct fire safety rules],” Coleman said.

“There’s a loophole that we fall into,” he added, referring to gaps in state law that don’t give the county fire marshal the authority to regulate how long people stay in the park.

“That’s the elephant in the room,” he said.

Denton County fire marshal Jody Gonzalez told county commissioners that, when park owners return to file for building permits, his office has reviewed plans and negotiated for needed facilities. In other words, if the park owner builds a community room, bathroom or a coin-operated laundry room, then, the fire marshal’s office negotiates for fire safety items. For example, the fire marshal negotiates for a fire hydrant with enough water pressure, traffic lanes wide enough to allow fire trucks, and appropriate plumbing and electrical codes, Gonzalez said.

Coleman read the state law to find out what the county can do, since some RV parks in the county have effectively become mobile home parks without complying with fire safety rules, he said.

Ten parks in Denton County along major highways identify themselves as campgrounds and RV parks. Two other facilities near Ray Roberts Lake also identify themselves as RV parks. Mobile Home Village, a website that caters to mobile home owners looking for a place to set up their home, lists 58 locations in or near Denton.

Coleman also said that has asked before that the rules be drafted, but also said he didn’t want to dwell on the problem much longer during the court’s meeting.

County Judge Andy Eads pledged to give the problem a second look out.

“It sounds like we need to do some work offline,” Eads said.