A look back at news from Wood County during 2019

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January

Wood County commissioners start the new year announcing plans to build an early voting facility and elections office near the county courthouse in Quitman.

New elected officials are sworn in including County Judge Lucy Hebron, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Janae Holland and District Clerk Donna Huston, as well as several incumbents.

One office that remained unfilled was district attorney following the resignation of Jim Wheeler, who was nonetheless reelected as he was unopposed. Gov. Gregg Abbott announced he would appoint a replacement.

The Wood County Monitor announces new owners with the purchase of the newspaper by Phil and Lesa Major from Bill Woodall.

Mineola unveils a new downtown mural and announces a study showed the town could support another motel.

A trial date in July is announced for the oft-delayed Jason Walters murder trial.

Mineola school trustees approve several added campus security measures.

February

Mineola loses an iconic civic leader with the passing of 94-year-old Wayne Collins.

Quitman celebrates the annual Pilot Club Chili Cookoff with Larry Tucker serving as grand marshal. Tucker is also honored by the community as its citizen of the year.

Quitman loses a longtime educator with the passing of Pat Neighbors.

Prompted by the state, 21 letters go out to Wood County voters concerning their citizenship.

Assistant prosecutor Angela Albers is appointed as new Wood County district attorney.

Mineola ISD explores the concept of hosting a regional hub for career and technical education.

A federal civil trial is announced against several former Wood County lawmen stemming from a shooting involving a property dispute. The trial is ultimately postponed, and the case and several related matters remain in limbo at year-end.

The Wood County elections administrator is among those named in a lawsuit stemming from the  voter citizenship inquiry.

March

Quitman city administrator Andrew Kloefkorn submits his resignation and the council moves to hire Rodney Keike.

A task force appointed by County Judge Lucy Hebron to review the Wood County Industrial Commission comes up for debate by county commissioners.

Current board members of the commission also question the review process.

Doris Newman and Jim Phillips are named Mineola’s citizens of the year.

Alba-Golden School Board announces plans to proceed with a bond proposal to expand schools while Mineola school trustees debate whether to host a regional CTE hub as backers from the community rally for the project.

Kacey Musgraves, the Golden native hitting it big in the country music scene, continues her stellar year with the announcement she will have a display at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

County commissioners seek an attorney general’s opinion on fees billed by a special prosecutor in the case against former county officials.

April

The Meredith Foundation in Mineola announces grants totaling $1.36 million.

Brenley VonReyn of Quitman shows the grand champion steer at the Wood County Junior Livestock Show.

Musgraves adds female artist and album of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards to the four Grammys she earned earlier in the year.

Mineola school board eyes the former UT Health Clinic building on Hwy. 37 North as a possible site for the CTE program.

Plans for several new housing developments are announced for Quitman.

May

Lake Fork prepares to host the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest.

Quitman Mayor Pro Tem Randy Dunn wins the mayor’s race, while incumbent mayor David Dobbs wins a seat on the council.

Mineola ISD learns it is in line for a $636,000 grant toward the CTE project.

Abby Kratzmeyer of Mineola repeats as state high jump champion as a sophomore.

Rainfall for the year, at almost 27 inches, is 10 inches above normal.

The blue ribbon task force reveals its findings on the Wood County Industrial Commission.

Top graduates for the Class of 2019: Mineola, Lena Hughes and Alaina Lopez; Yantis, Ashten Burnett and Maggie Hooker; Alba-Golden, Grace Bizzell and Nathan Kumm; Quitman, Abigail Dobbs and Lillie Danner.

June

The industrial commission task force report stirs concerns among several officials.

The Higginbotham Brothers chain of hardware stores announces the purchase of Cade’s Building Materials in Mineola.

Former Quitman Police Capt. Terry Bevill files a federal lawsuit against a string of city and county officials, claiming he was the target of a vindictive campaign that included the loss of his job.

A visiting judge terms the case against the ex-sheriff James Brown and chief deputy Miles Tucker as a “quagmire” as the county awaits a ruling on its fees for the special prosecutor.

July

Many months after former District Attorney Jim Wheeler left office and did not fulfill his term following reelection, a Texas Rangers report reveals that Wheeler resigned after being confronted with an allegation of sexual harassment.

The murder trial of Jason Walters gets underway in Quitman with the defense claiming Walters acted in self-defense when he shot Christopher Griffin in Mineola in 2014.

Early in the second week of testimony, the jury in the Walters trial is sequestered as it deliberates.

An all-white jury finds Walters not guilty on all counts, as the victim’s father asks the community to let God fight the fight.

August

Citizens pack the Mineola City Council chambers following the verdict in the Walters trial, calling for fairness.

The Texas Rangers report reveals that the victim of sexual harassment by District Attorney Jim Wheeler was assistant prosecutor Angela Albers, who subsequently was appointed to the post.

In line with new state funding, the Mineola ISD board approves pay raises for teachers and staff.

A smaller board, term limits and a new name are among the recommendations for the Wood County Industrial Commission board in reaction to the blue ribbon report.

A Mineola family is able to lay to rest the remains of a brother killed in action in Vietnam after they were identified and returned to the States more than 50 years after Major Roy Knight died.

Knight
Knight

Higher property values allow county commissioners to lower the property tax rate.

The Mineola city council shelves annexation plans in the face of a new state law that allows those being annexed to hold an election.

Wood County school districts all receive B grades in the second year of state report cards.

The Mineola School Board accepts the resignation of Superintendent Kim Tunnell prior to the board holding its annual evaluation, which had been delayed from February.

September

At a public hearing for the Mineola school tax rate, being lowered in line with new state funding, patrons’ questions instead involve the severance payment to the former superintendent and the future of the CTE program.

A property owner’s attempt to halt a new housing addition north of Mineola results in the denial of a temporary restraining order.

Wood County Economic Development Commission is the new name adopted for the industrial commission.

The CTE hub concept continues to draw discussion by the Mineola School Board.

Mineola Economic Development Corp. moves to purchase land off Hwy. 69 South.

A Quitman business owner claims a conflict of interest with the Quitman Development Corp. director Denea Hudman during a QDC meeting.

Things get testy at a Mineola School Board meeting behind closed doors concerning the future of CTE in the district.

October

The QDC budget gets postponed by the city council, along with approval of board members.

Mineola School Board begins the formal search for a new superintendent.

County Judge Lucy Hebron makes sweeping changes to the county economic development commission, which include ending the board terms of some members previously recommended by member cities.

Special prosecutor Joe Shearin of Dallas appeals directly to county commissioners to have his fees paid.

The building that for years housed the Gateway Lanes in Mineola is razed to make way for a new auto parts store.

Mineola Main Street celebrates 30 years, the seventh oldest such program in Texas.

Quitman Development Corp. President Randy Bennett is removed from the board by the city council.

The Mineola Soccer Association and Civic Center seek to resolve differences that would allow the association to continue using the center grounds for the spring season. By year-end the MSA was making plans to use school district facilities.

A study shows that late-arriving Amtrak trains are costing taxpayers millions. The train that stops twice daily in Mineola is typically an hour or more late.

November

The Mineola High School Sound of the Swarm Marching Band earns its second consecutive state marching championship.

Mineola School Board approves a non-binding resolution in support of a regional CTE hub.

Candidates begin filing for the spring party primaries in Wood County.

Noting that all the members of the Quitman Development Corp. are Methodists, a potential appointee is called into question.

December

County commissioners approve a $63,728 payment to special prosecutor Joe Shearin, who calls the state attorney general’s opinion on the matter ”useless” as county officials are mum.

Six county races will be contested in the March Republican primary, including sheriff, district judge, district attorney, commissioner in Precinct 1 and constables in Precincts 1 and 3.

Stitchin’ Heaven opens its new quarters in Quitman as it ascends to one of the top quilting destinations in the country.

Cody Mize, Mineola native who serves as superintendent in Winona, is announced as the lone finalist for the MISD post.

Mineola Civic Center announces plans for a major renovation to the 42-year old facility.

County commissioners approve resolutions in honor of Kasey Musgraves and the Hawkins FFA’s bee program.

Quitman City Council approves a zoning change for a business despite objections from a homeowner.

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