Gracey Cochran struts her stuff in curlers and a bath robe during the annual sheep and goat fashion show at the Texas County Livestock Fair in July.

A month-by-month glance of newsworthy moments of 2016 in Texas County:


• Leta F. Douglas, 52, plead guilty in federal court to a murder-for-hire case in which she allegedly asked an undercover officer to kill her sister in early 2015.

• Steven M. Sprous, 30, of Bucyrus, was charged with first-degree murder and several other offenses after allegedly shooting his 23-year old wife, Courtney, as she was passed out in the bathroom. Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said the case was one of the strangest he had ever dealt with in 22 years of law enforcement.

• The Texas County Fair Board announced a new category for its annual Livestock Fair: Dairy Feeder Steer. The idea is to offer more opportunity for younger kids to get involved in fair competition.

• Houston High School volleyball coach Barry Wheeler resigned after one season and accepted the head coaching job at Crowley’s Ridge College.

• Healthy Schools Healthy Communities (HSHC) began its third year in Texas County. HSHC is an initiative of the Missouri Foundation for Health primarily designed to address the national trend of childhood weight problems.

• Tanya Pacheco was hired as executive director at the Texas County Food Pantry following the resignation of Bennie Cook, who left to join Congressman Jason Smith’s staff.


• The Pregnancy Resource Center of South Central Missouri opened in downtown Houston.

• The Houston Education Foundation funded the purchase of Chromebook computers for students at Houston Elementary School.

• Katelyn Martinez was crowned HHS Hoop Queen.

• Licking resident Mike Brannan opened Ozark Resale Company, a store offering new and slightly used home improvement items. The store moved to Houston later in the year.

• Interest mounted in saving the Lynch-Tweed house in Houston, a Civil War era home that is the city’s oldest structure, but had been placed on a list of buildings targeted for demolition by the city.

• Fifty former HHS girls’ basketball players and his 18 current ones honored coach Brent Kell, who had previously announced he was retiring.

• The stuffed body of a rare two-headed calf was displayed at a store in Licking.

• The Houston Police Department upgraded its office and equipment.

• The Piney River Brewing Company showcased its new 12,000 square foot brewing facility.

• Dr. Allen Moss was hired as Houston School District superintendent. He replaced Scott Dill, who accepted the same position in Poplar Bluff.

• Jeremy St. John was named City of Houston emergency management director.


• By beating Willow Springs 47-34, the HHS girls’ basketball team won the program’s second-ever district championship.

• The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce announced dates and activities for the 106th Old Settlers Reunion, which would be conducted separately from the Texas County Fair Board’s Livestock Fair. That made 2016 the first year since the creation of the Texas County Fair in the early 1950s that it had been an event separate from the Settlers Reunion.

• After a street fight led to a man’s stabbing. Nolan C. Decker, 41, of Licking, was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Mark E. Bryson, 42, of Licking. He was held on $5 million bond in the Texas County Jail.

• During the Missouri Presidential Primary, results in Texas County show Donald Trump beating Ted Cruz on the Republican side and Democrat Bernie Sanders beating Hillary Clinton.

• Jeremy Smith was hired as the next director of the Exceptional Child Cooperative. He replaced Amy Dill.

• A 12-year-old boy was suspended from school after allegedly threatening to bring an AK47 and shoot people on campus at Houston Schools.

• The HHS boys’ basketball program again needs a new head coach. Robert James resigned after one season to return to his alma mater at Willow Springs.

• The Huggins Volunteer Fire Department ceased operation.

• HHS senior girls’ basketball player Sarah Kelley was named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association all-state team.

• Close to 70 years after forming, a local gospel singing group – The Harmoniers – recorded and released its first album.

• More than 900 Christians hold large crosses along U.S. 63 in Texas County while participating in the annual Carry the Cross campaign on Good Friday.


• Teams made up of Houston High School students and employees of the Durham Co. and Texas County Memorial Hospital squared off in a donkeyball competition inside Hiett Gymnasium.

• Eddie Day, 25, was killed in a shooting incident around on Tiffany Drive off Highway E just north of Houston. No arrests were made. The shooting was later ruled self defense.

• An open house is hosted by Downtown Houston Inc. and the University of Missouri Texas County Extension in the upgraded facilities inside the Lone Star Annex in downtown Houston.

• The Houston High School academic team under the direction of Jason Pounds, won the district title in Scholar Bowl competition. It was the first victory for the team in recent memory.

• A busy school board meeting featured the hiring of a new high school principal (Amy Smith) as well as head coaches for the HHS boys’ basketball (Matt Hardy), girls’ basketball (Jim Moore) and volleyball (Loran Richardson) programs. Hardy resigned two months later.

• Houston Police Chief Tim Ceplina urged the use of address numbers on houses and businesses so emergency response personnel can more easily find their destinations. Even though Houston has an ordinance requiring address numbers, Ceplina said a large percentage of homes and businesses didn’t have them.


• Retiring HHS principal Charlie Malam addressed the graduating class of 2016 as the featured speaker at baccalaureate.

• Corey Z. Smith, 18, was charged with first-degree assault (serious physical injury) and armed criminal action after allegedly attacking a 26-year-old man with a hatchet early one Monday morning.

• The class of 2016 graduated from Houston High School. Sammy Garrett and Monica Hunter were co-valedictorians. Chandra Hubbs was salutatorian.

• A popular ice cream trailer business – Twirlees – changes ownership. Its new owners move it to Roby later in the year.

• Country music recording artist Brian Collins visits Houston and makes an impromptu performance at Opportunity Sheltered Industries in Houston.

• Houston School District Superintendent Scott Dill answered questions related to the possible demolition of the Fine Arts Building. Houston Herald editor Jeff McNiell donned a hazmat suit and streamed live video from inside the building.

• HHS juniors Trenton Best and Abby Casper both qualified for the state track finals. Best finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles to earn all-state honors. Casper was 11th in the 100 meters and 12th in the 200.

• Dozens of classic cars and trucks descended on downtown Houston for a car show hosted by Romines Motor Co.


• The HHS baseball team played at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers faced North Callaway in a nine-inning game.

• Bucyrus resident Sean Rief, 28, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, DWI and other offenses resulting from his role in a crash at Simmons that killed a Licking woman in September 2015.

• The Durham Co. announced a 30,000 square foot expansion of its Houston plant.

• The old Houston Herald printing press equipment was sold to a firm in the Philippines and moved out of the newspaper’s office.

• Members of the Riders on a Mission (R.O.A.M.) ministry group performed a motorcycle jumping show in downtown Houston.

• The 65th annual Raymondville Picnic was held.

• A lawsuit settlement with an insurance company netted $260,000 for Texas County.

• The Houston Rural Fire Department introduced “Bigfoot,” a big brush truck obtained from the Missouri Department of Conservation and refurbished to be outfitted with a large water tank.

• The Houston school board unanimously votes to demolish the Fine Arts Building.

• Brenda Jarrett resigns as director of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.


• Cody Strube, 20, of Cabool, is charged with first-degree assault – serious physical injury (a class A felony) and armed criminal action after allegedly stabbing a man three times in the abdomen during an incident at a Highway M residence. He is jailed and held on $1 million bond.

• Local ham radio enthusiasts demonstrate their capabilities during the annual National Amateur Radio Field Day event.

• The Texas County Library’s summer reading program kicks off at the Houston branch with a record 90 kids enrolled.

• cord 90 kids enrolled. Four corrections officers are hurt in an assault by an inmate at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking.

• More than 100 entries are on display during the 33rd annual Route 66 Car Club Car and Bike Show at Licking.

• Eric Greitens visits Houston during his campaign for Missouri governor. He won the election in November.

• The Texas County Fair Board hosts its annual Livestock Fair at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds, separate from the Old Settlers Reunion for the first time in decades.

• After a lengthy debate and plenty of controversy about it, the Fine Arts Building at Houston High School is demolished.

• The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hires Angie Miller-Quinlan as its new executive director, following the resignation of Brenda Jarrett.


• The Houston Herald announces a new, expanded version of its expansive collection of online archives.

• A man and woman are charged with felonies in a rash of thefts from Texas County cemeteries: William T. Hebert, 30, of Houston, and Felicia Batchelor, 29, of Summersville, are each charged with stealing over $500 and less than $25,000 following their arrest.

• Missouri Garlic, a company owned by Jerry and Marie Vyskala, is highlighted in a feature story.

• Houston’s Oakwood Golf Club hosts its annual Junior Golf Tournament.

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