Kids race to grab easter eggs in March.

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

JANUARY

•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.

•Statistics showed that the Texas County Jail Garden produced close to a ton of food in 2015 that was mostly consumed by inmates at the facility, saving the county a significant amount of money.

•The Texas County Sheriff’s Department announced its caseload in 2015 had increased sharply over 2014, as deputies responded to 3,106 calls resulting in written reports compared to 2,737 the year before.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce tripled its director’s paid hours from 10 to 30 per week.

•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.

•The Houston Police Department said its caseload in 2015 had increased sharply over 2014, as officers responded to a record 718 calls requiring written reports compared to 600 the year before (a record at that time).

•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.

•Roger L. Wake, 31, of Cabool, faced a felony charge of making a terroristic threat as a result of a November 2015 bomb threat at the Texas County Justice Center in which he allegedly made up a story about a bomb being in the building.

•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.

Houston resident Tanya Pacheco was named the new director of the Texas County Food Pantry in January 2016.

FEBRUARY

•The opening is announced of the Pregnancy Resource Center of South Central Missouri in downtown Houston. The non-profit facility said its goal was the of curbing or eliminating abortion through offering free services including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, parenting classes, men’s mentoring, abstinence-until-marriage counseling, material assistance and post-abortive counseling. The facility opened in April.

•HHS junior Abby Casper was named tournament MVP as the Lady Tigers won the Mansfield Invitational.

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

•Katelyn Martinez was crowned the 2016 HHS Hoop Queen.

•Licking resident Mike Brannan opened Ozark Resale Company, a store offering new and slightly used home improvement items. Proceeds from the store will go toward the creation of a “camp” to house and mentor young people who have “aged out” of the foster care system.

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. A group dedicated to saving it later forms, and the city allows members to pursue saving the house.

•Fifty former HHS girls’ basketball players and his 18 current ones honored coach Brent Kell with a surprise tribute. Kell had previously announced he was retiring after 30 years leading the program.

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

Licking residents Mike Hammond, left, and Josh Kinder stand during February next to a two-headed angus calf mounted and on display at Hammond Feed in Licking. 

•Two local men – James J. Woolsey, 25, of Summersville, and Lenny J. Hebert, 27, of Hartshorn – faced felony charges after allegedly posing as law enforcement officers through a phone app to lure Summersville residents out of their home and burglarize it.

Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent of Houston Schools

•The Houston Police Department upgraded its office and equipment.

•The Piney River Brewing Company showcased its new 12,000 square foot brewing facility with an open house attended by dozens of citizens, politicians and officials.

•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.

•A popular Houston barbecue business moved from its walk-up trailer to an indoor sit-down location and changed its name from Twirlee Q to TQ’s House of BBQ.

MARCH

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

Senior Makayla Koch and the HHS Lady Tigers accept the district championship plaque. 

•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.

•Authorities investigated the death of a three-month old baby at a residence in Bado, indicating it didn’t appear suspicious.

•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.

•Elk Creek resident Russell Olewinski was recognized by state officials with the Veterans Service Award.

•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.

Sarah Kelley was recognized for her standout senior season with a selection to the all-state basketball team.

•The Huggins Volunteer Fire Department ceased operation after forming in 1988.

•Local attorney Kimberly Lowe released her second Christian album under the name Kimberly Faith.

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

•Texas County ranked 84th among Missouri’s 114 counties in a health-related report.

•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.

Kennedy Campbell and Gabriel Pacheco wave to passersby during the 2016 Carry The Cross.

•More than 700 high school students from 20 school districts gathered for the annual Missouri FFA Area 13 Competition at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

APRIL

•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.

•David and Sherry Harmon hosted “Cabin Field Day” for fourth-grade students from Raymondville and Plato at their authentic mid-1800s log cabin in Bucyrus.

•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 in January 2017 as self defense.

Texas County sheriff James Sigman takes notes at the scene of a shooting investigation on Tiffany Drive off Highway E during April 2016. 

•Houston native Janet Adksion becomes an anchor for a news program on Nashville-based RFD-TV.

•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.

•A water slide was installed at the City of Houston swimming pool.

•Seniors Jefferson Thomas and Sarah Kelly were voted Houston High School prom king and queen.

•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.

MAY

•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 Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports program announced the addition of a new project: Western heritage and cowboy shooting.

•The City of Houston pondered expansion of corporate boundaries.

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

Houston High School senior Chandra Hubbs receives a hug and a kiss from her father and school board member Curtis Hubbs during the school’s gradfuation ceremony in May.

•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.

•Work began on restoration of the historic Melba Theatre in downtown Houston.

Built in 1938, the Melba Theatre has been idle since the early 1980s. 

•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.

JUNE

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

The Houston City Council was asked Monday to place a public safety sales tax on the ballot next year. It would benefit the fire and police departments. 

•Beer sales were approved for events hosted by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. Members approved of the move 44-38.

•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 Jubilee Gang children’s ministry performed at Faith Fellowship.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the inaugural Piney River Days festival in downtown Houston.

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

Licking resident Janelle Bates, 9, has a brief boxing match with her goat during showing competition at the Texas County Livestock Fair in July.

•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. 

•Healthy Schools Healthy Communities hosted a kids’ cooking class in the community kitchen at the Lone Star Annex.

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

Demolition of the old fine arts building at Houston High School began in July and finished in August.

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

JULY

•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.

•A registered sex offender – Jerry A. Tharp, 52, of Licking – is charged with being too close (within 500 feet) to the Raymondville Picnic grounds.

•The Houston High School Tiger Pride Band gets approval for new uniforms.

•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.

•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.

•Construction is completed of the City of Houston’s new 250,000-gallon water tower.

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

AUGUST

•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. Authorities report that as many as 30 concrete angels and other items disappeared from gravesites.

•The Bucyrus-based Piney River Brewing Co. wins awards for two of its beers at the annual U.S. Open Beer Championship.

•Missouri Garlic, a company owned by Jerry and Marie Vyskala, is highlighted in a feature story. Their operation produces more garlic than any other in Missouri.

Highlighted in an August feature story, Jerry and Marie Vyskala hold braids of soft-neck garlic at their farm near Licking.

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

•Angels Home Center in Plato (an organization that assists people who have experienced loss from a house fire) expands its storage space with a new building.

•Houston-based Missouri Sun Solar is recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing firms in the U.S.

•The Houston Rural Fire Department installs a huge flagpole and flag in front of its station on Walnut Street in Houston.

SEPTEMBER

•Data compiled by Texas County’s seven school districts show that total enrollment is 4,021 students, down 50 from 2015.

•Boiling Springs Resort, west of Licking, and its new owners Wook Torrans and Jennifer Bernard, are highlight in a feature story.

•Texas County firefighters from three departments raise well over $5,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign.

City of Houston volunteer firefighter Jeremy St. John accepts a donation from a motorist during the annual Fill the Boot fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in September. 

•Wri-Comm 911 begins operation in Mountain Grove, making the split complete between Texas County and Wright County emergency dispatch operations.

•Members of the Herrington family, of Simmons, are highlighted in a feature story for their success in making online music video parodies and in “Cosplay,” short for costume play. They grew up performing in a family act called “The Caboodlestoppers.”

•Mark D. Griffith, 52, of Licking, faces felony charges of involuntary manslaughter (vehicular – intoxicated) and driving while revoked after allegedly causing the death of a woman during a motorcycle poker run in June 2014.

•Four Mountain Grove residents are arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, stealing and property damage for a major vandalism spree at Baptist Camp south of Houston: George Lamborn, 19; Carson A. Smith, 17; Gary Greenwood, 18; and David Corwin, 21. Greenwood was also charged with arson. 

•The Ozark Driving Institute, a trucking school in Cabool, is highlighted in a feature story.

•Houston Police Chief Tim Ceplina discusses problems and vandalism at Emmett Kelly Park caused by teenagers.

•Skilled long-range rifle shooters gather at the Big Piney Sportsman’s Club for the International Benchrest Shooters 600-Yard Nationals.

•The Houston Herald receives 26 awards in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contests, including General Excellence.

The Houston Herald won 26 awards Saturday in the Missouri Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The newspaper won first place in General Excellence for its circulation category among weekly newspapers in the state. From left: reporter Doug Davison, Publisher Brad Gentry, Editor Jeff McNiell and Missouri Press Association President Dennis Warden. 

OCTOBER

•Samuel J. Rogers, 31, of Licking, is charged with first-degree arson and first-degree burglary after allegedly using flammable liquid to start a fire that heavily damaged a house in Licking that was home to an ex-girlfriend and her four children. He is jailed and held on $1 million bond.

•Houston resident Mike Joens is highlighted in a feature story about his pottery creations.

•The Missouri Department of Conservation helps the City of Houston replace five dead trees at Emmett Kelly Park.

•The Texas County Fair Board constructs a 1,440 square foot multi-purpose building next to the livestock barns and arena at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

•The Durham Co. adds a big new “punching center” machine to its plant in Houston.

•The Raymondville Volunteer Fire Department hosts its annual “Festival of Yesteryear” fundraising event.

•Houston places second in its category in the annual Missouri Community Betterment competition.

•Construction begins on a Missouri Department of Transportation project to upgrade U.S. 63 through Houston.

NOVEMBER

•Daniel G. Campbell, 39, of Licking is arrested and charged with first-degree murder and four other felonies after allegedly shooting one man dead and critically wounding another outside a home on Boiling Springs Road west of Licking.

Campbell eluded authorities for four days, but a major manhunt for him concluded without incident when he was found hiding in his mother’s Licking-area church. Dead is William T. Dumboski, 55, and injured is Billy D. Bishop II, 39. The shootings took place outside Dumboski’s house.

Shackled to a bench inside the Texas County Jail, murder suspect Daniel Campbell awaits processing after being apprehended following his escape from the facility in November.

Another Licking man – Robert Lane, 37 – is accused of assisting Campbell and is arrested and charged with hindering prosecution. He also faces two felony drug charges. He is jailed and held without bond.

About two weeks later, Campbell escapes from the Texas County Jail and another manhunt ensues. This time he is loose for 16 hours before being apprehended again outside a residence at Roby.

•Texas County Emergency Services (the county’s 911 service) obtains a new vehicle for mapping purposes.

•Republicans post a sweeping victory across the U.S. and in Texas County in the Nov. 8 General Election.

•The Dairy Farmers of America plant in Cabool announces a big expansion project.

•TQ’s House of BBQ in Houston changes its name to Savor Grill and BBQ.

•The Houston High School Constitution Revolution team takes second in the statewide, 12-team competition. The team’s journalism squad wins its division.

HHS students competing in the 2016 Constitution Revolution.

•Houston resident Howard Hughes participates in an Honor Flight of the Ozarks trip to Washington, D.C., and is highlighted in a feature story.

•The 10th annual Chili Cook-Off event raises close to $48,000 for Texas County Memorial Hospital’s Hospice of Care.

•Plato resident John Goble is highlight in a feature story about his passion for running. Goble competes in “ultramarathons” and finished 13th overall in this year’s annual Ozark Trail 100 Mile endurance Run.

•Construction nears completion on a Dollar General store at Roby that is scheduled to open in December.

•Texas County finishes third among Missouri counties in deer harvest numbers during the annual firearms hunting season.

DECEMBER

•Brandon M. Williams, 29, of Lynchburg, is charged with two counts first-degree endangering the welfare of a child involving drugs following a Texas County Sheriff’s Department investigation after a Missouri Department of Social Services agent reported on Oct. 31 that an 18-month old child had tested positive for methamphetamine. He is jailed and held on $500,000 bond.

Darci D. Jensen, 30, of Lebanon, is later arrested in the case. Her bond is set at $250,000.

Megan Silveus leads her family’s tractors down Grand Avenue during Houston’s annual Christmas parade in December.

•Texas County Memorial Hospital announces the addition of a 6,000 square foot surgery center, planned for completion in the summer of 2018.

•Statistics show that Houston High School students’ test scores fall below the state average in three of four categories, and are near the bottom in all four categories among South Central Association schools.

•The Licking Police Department’s K9 officer, Sara, was struck and killed by a vehicle.

•Mumps become an issue at Houston School District facilities.

•Linda Holland is honored for 35 years as an employee at Romines Motor Co. in Houston.

•Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports member Travis Hutson, of Cabool, qualifies for the Missouri 4-H 2017 State Shotgun Team that will compete at the National Shoot June 25-30 in Grand Island, Neb.

•Raymondville resident and firearms instructor Dianna Bennett is highlight in a feature story. She is certified by the National Rifle Association in both pistol and rifle instruction.

•Oakwood Golf Club owner Bud Evans announces he will seek new ownership for the course in 2017. He has owned it for eight years and says he will close it down if nobody takes it over.

•Texas County Masonic Lodge No. 177 recognized Norm Epperson for 50 years of Freemasonry.

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