On the dark side ...
Temple paranormal investigator visits "active" locations for TV, documentaries.
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 1, 2022
10 QUESTIONS with Temple Mayor Tim Davis.
Brewery in Salado to hold Belly Dancing Night.
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By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
JohnJohn Montelongo is known around Temple as a former boxer, an accomplished photographer and the organizer of Artist-2-Artist Showcase, a popular First Friday attraction.
He also is in demand as a dedicated paranormal investigator, and instead of fighting boxers in the square ring, JohnJohn battles demons in creepy locations around Texas.
“I was about 12 when I did my first paranormal investigation,” he said Monday. “I grew up in a haunted house in Oregon. I would see shadows and things lift by themselves. I got used to it.”
JohnJohn decided to investigate the unusual happenings after hearing voices in the woods surrounding his home.
“Voices would call me into the woods, so I decided to try and talk to them,” he said. “I didn’t have any of this paranormal investigation equipment — I was a kid. But I’d still go and see what I could find.”
JohnJohn moved to Texas in 1996, first settling in Rockdale then moving to Temple.
“When I started, the paranormal was taboo,” he said
“Ghosts were associated with witchcraft, and no one dared to talk about it. Then paranormal TV shows came along.”
The new TV genre was wildly popular and prompted a new wave of investigators.
“I’ve been conducting investigations for about 25 years now,” he said. “I was born into it. Both of my grandmas have done house cleansings.”
JohnJohn has investigated many of Temple’s Downtown buildings, and he says many have paranormal activity to varying degrees.
“I used to do ghost tours,” he said. “I did one at the Hawn Hotel and a small crowd showed up. We decided to post it on social media, and within a couple hours, the crowd grew to about 1,500.”
“We just did the tours on the first two floors of the Hawn for safety reasons,” he said.
JohnJohn had hoped to expand the ghost tours to other Downtown buildings but many of the property owners didn’t want the tours coming through.
“The building owners didn’t want people to know there was paranormal activity,” he said.
JohnJohn said Temple’s activity centers around the Hawn and The Book Cellar.
“The Book Cellar is very active,” he said. “I run across something new every time I’m there.”
Over the years, JohnJohn has been involved with several local paranormal groups.
“I started off at Bluebonnet Paranormal with Mary Jo Fellers Fraley of Moody,” he said. “Now I have my own group — Dark Explorers paranormal investigators.”
Over the years, JohnJohn has developed a reputation as a fearless ghost hunter and has been invited to investigate homes and businesses in several states where paranormal activity is suspected.
He also has caught the eye of television producers.
“My first show was called ‘Demon Chasers,’” he said. “I signed a contract with the Travel Channel in February 2020, and I had places lined up to go investigate. Then COVID hit, and most of the investigations never took place.”
Yet another business doomed by the pandemic.
This past fall, JohnJohn appeared in an episode of “Destination Fear.”
“The episode involved an investigation at Old Nazareth Hospital in Mineral Wells,” he said. “It was definitely interesting.”
Currently, JohnJohn is working on two documentaries.
“One of the documentaries has to do with Mexican folklore,” he said. “The other one is being filmed near Ennis. It has to do with a Skin-Walker type phenomena — I’m under contract and can’t say more about it just yet.”
“It’s an independent film, and it may be one show or it could be a series depending on what we find,” he said. “If it pans out, it could be shopped to the Travel Channel or Netflix. It’s awesome, but its a lot of work.”
Q: When you first sought office, what were your goals for the city, have those goals changed and has Temple reached them?
Mayor Davis: As a first time office holder, my goals for the city of Temple were very basic. I wanted to assure that the Temple continued to efficiently provide services to the community.
Nine years later, my goal is still to efficiently provide services to the community. But, the scope of those services that should be provided has changed dramatically. Ongoing maintenance of roadways, garbage pickup and water/wastewater services are expected. I believe the role of the City Council is to intentionally mold Temple into a place that serves those who live here on a much larger scale.
It’s imperative that the city of Temple have a robust employment base, a burgeoning downtown, a thriving parks and public works system, and Interstate 35 that allows for easy access across Central Texas, among other things. These things allow the citizens of Temple to enjoy a nice lifestyle at a reasonable price. My goal is to play my part in not only assuring that Temple is not only a great place to live, but also to make it feel like home.
Q: The city’s approach to developing Downtown has been a huge success. Define the strategies the city used, and can similar strategies be used to drive businesses and customers to other parts of the city?
Mayor Davis: The redevelopment of downtown is increasing and is turning into a huge success. Although it appears to have happened rather quickly, it has been planned over many years. We know that private investment follows public investment, and downtown is proof of that. The city of Temple’s confidence to invest in our downtown gives private investors the confidence to also invest downtown, leading to overall community success.
The city of Temple is continuing that investment strategy by capitalizing on the success of the downtown redevelopment and pushing that success into East Temple. The city continues to develop the MLK Festival grounds, as well as redeveloping along Avenue C and into the Ferguson Park area.
Q: What is the city’s stance on panhandlers soliciting for money in Temple?
Mayor Davis: The city of Temple’s ordinance allows for soliciting (panhandling) as long as the solicitor does not do so in the roadway. A person over 12 years old may solicit or sell or distribute material to the occupant of a motor vehicle on a public roadway at a traffic control signal light so long as he or she remains on the surrounding sidewalks and unpaved shoulders, and not in or on the roadway itself, including the medians and islands.
Many cities have tried to enact more strict language in their respective solicitation ordinances. Those more strict ordinances have been ruled unconstitutional when challenged.
Q: In your opinion, what are the top concerns for the city and how can they be addressed?
Mayor Davis: As the Mayor, my top concerns are:
Managing the city’s growth. There is no question as to whether or not Temple will continue to grow. The population of Texas is expected to increase from approximately 29 million people to 52 million people over the next 30 years. Most of those new Texans will move to the area known as the Texas Triangle (Dallas to Houston to San Antonio and back to Dallas). The city of Temple will get her share of the population growth. The infrastructure needed to serve the increased population is expensive and must be planned and budgeted for many years in advance.
Good Job growth. A “good job” is one that will allow a person to have a career, not just a paycheck. A good job is one that allows them to buy a house, take care of their family and plan for retirement. The city of Temple will continue to accomplish this by having a pro-growth mindset that encourages good companies to locate their next expansion right here in Temple.
Q: City Council will soon take action on the Downtown Plan. What are some elements of the plan that you like and maybe some that you don’t particularly care for?
Mayor Davis: The city’s Downtown Plan is bold and exciting. Downtown is a place for both the locals and tourists to enjoy. In my opinion, Downtown is a place that should foster a sense of community and local pride.
There are locally owned, quality restaurants already located downtown. There are some downtown residential living spaces available now with more to come when the Hawn/Sears building and Professional building projects are completed. The two parking garages will allow for close-in parking and more walkability downtown.
Q: Let’s talk about the old Katy Depot. There’s been a lot of talk about it being renovated? What are your thoughts on its future and how could that become a reality?
Mayor Davis: The Katy Depot is an iconic landmark that relates back to the founding of Temple. Temple is a “railroad town.” Drs. Scott and White came to Temple to work for the Santa Fe Railroad hospital before opening their own clinic. Almost every planning document that involves either Downtown Temple or East Temple contemplates the next step for the Katy Depot. The Katy Depot is in a visible location and is of a manageable size for redevelopment. Many options have been discussed, but nothing has been finalized.
Q: Temple is working on a Mobility Master Plan. What would you like to see the plan include? More bus routes? Shorter waits at traffic lights? New roads? Anything else?
Mayor Davis: The Mobility Master Plan is a multi-modal plan that will include everything from major roadways to sidewalks. This will be Temple’s first Mobility Master Plan. City staff has worked diligently to assure that citizens have the opportunity to give input regarding their mobility needs.
The Mobility Master Plan is still in the early development stage. There are a number of obvious opportunities for mobility improvement. I look forward to assisting with the development of the plan.
Q: Temple’s animal shelter is getting an expansion. What steps could be taken to make the shelter a no-kill facility and is that something that could be coming in the future?
Mayor Davis: The Animal Shelter will soon undergo a much-needed expansion. The expansion will include additional office space and air conditioning for the new and existing kennel spaces.
The city of Temple’s Animal Shelter is a “limited kill” or “low kill” facility. Euthanization of an animal takes place only when:
The animal is too sick or injured to survive, even with veterinary care.
The veterinary care costs outweigh the likelihood of adoption.
The animal is unadoptable (ill, very aggressive, etc).
I am satisfied with the current euthanization policies that are currently in practice.
Q: Going back to the Downtown plan. Do you favor the idea of an underground garbage system, especially in the downtown district? It’s now being done in Ennis, and cities in Florida are big proponents of the concept. Would it work in Temple?
Mayor Davis: Underground garbage systems are worthy of exploration for Downtown because the area is becoming more pedestrian friendly. In a walkable area like Downtown, alleyways will be used by pedestrians to get from one place to another. I believe that removing the garbage bins from the alleyways will be more safe for pedestrians.
The advantages of an underground garbage system in a high pedestrian-use area would be more space in the alleys, along with better insect, rodent and odor control. The most obvious disadvantage would be the expense of an underground system. The City Council will continue to explore the option of an underground garbage system.
Q: What is Temple’s biggest “need” or “want”? Commercial air service? A Downtown music venue? Minor League baseball? I’m just throwing these out there. What’s on your list and how could it become reality?
Mayor Davis: To many travelers, Temple is an “interstate town” that they have only driven through as they travel between San Antonio and Dallas. We all know that Temple is so much more than that. In my opinion, Temple needs an interesting and unique destination place. A place where both locals and visitors alike want to spend time there.
COMING TOMORROW: Our Town Temple asks the same questions to City Councilman Wendell Williams. All member of City Council have been invited to participate in 10 QUESTIONS.
Bridget Genevieve, a Salado resident, said the ongoing pandemic has been hard on Texas belly dancers.
Brewery to hold Belly Dancer Night
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Professional belly dancers — including one from Salado — will be performing at Barrow Brewing Co. on Feb 25.
“They are traveling here from as far as Fort Worth and South Austin,” said KD Hill, owner of the Salado brewery. “Bahaia, Bridget Genevieve, Jeanette, Lily and Sagra have studied, taught and performed not only in Texas, but nationally and internationally as well.”
Bridget Genevieve, a Salado resident, said she is glad to finally have the opportunity to showcase her talents at Barrow for a second time.
“The last time we were here was just before the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020,” she said. “Since then there have been very few opportunities for dancers, whether it be on a professional or community level.”
“For some of us, this is only the second time in almost two years that we’ve had real people to dance with,” Bridget Genevieve said. “Plus, I really love this place.”
Barrow Brewing Co. is located at 108 Royal Street in Salado, and the event is free and open to the public.
THS to hold Fine Arts Day for fifth-graders
Our Town Temple
The Temple High School Fine Arts Department will host the district’s fifth-graders Friday for Fine Arts Day.
The fifth-graders will watch performances from Temple High School’s Fine Arts groups in the auditorium before moving to the cafeteria for informational sessions.
Groups will be divided by middle school campus and each Fine Arts program will be represented. Middle school Fine Arts staff and current students will be on hand to speak to the fifth-grade students and answer any questions.
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