Students in Amy Hathaway's kindergarten class at Plato surround Bonnie and Dale Willhite last March during a visit to a "friend's" house as part of their ongoing "Kindness Konnection" project.

Here is a look and some of the events, incidents, people and moments that were highlighted in the pages of the Houston Herald in 2017.


•Hadley Rebecca Dillin is the first baby of 2017 in Texas County. She is the daughter of Sarah Dillin of Cabool.

•After a Texas County Sheriff’s Department investigation, an April 2016 shooting that resulted in the death of Eddie Day, of Houston, was ruled self-defense.

•Oakwood Golf Club owner Bud Evans presents a proposal to the City of Houston regarding the purchase of the 9-hole course for $325,000.

•The Houston School Board unanimously votes to extend the contract of first-year Superintendent Allen Moss through 2019.

•Intercounty Electric Cooperative said an ice storm knocked out power for more than 10,000 customers.

•Texas County officials announced that thanks to a refinancing of the Texas County Justice Center, the county saved more than $1.2 million.

•Ron Reed resigns as City of Houston economic developer. He held the position since 1999.

•GAMO Outdoor USA announced that it will close its Houston distribution warehouse and move the operation to Rogers, Ark.

Romines wedding

Romines Motor Co. co-owner Don Romines, center, and several employees watch during a wedding ceremony on a Monday morning last January inside the dealership’s showroom.

•A 79-year-old Willow Springs man and 73-year-old Houston woman who met in the waiting room at Romines Motor Co. are married on the Ford-Lincoln dealership’s showroom floor.

•A major erosion prevention project is undertaken on Brushy Creek near the City of Houston’s wastewater treatment plant.


•Citing financial difficulties, two Texas County animal shelters cease operation: The Animal Shelter of Texas County in Houston and Diana’s Grove in Cabool.

•After a fire at the Wright County Jail, 25 inmates from the facility are housed in the Texas County Jail.

•Five Houston High School volleyball players are named to academic all-state volleyball team: Janae Huff, Emily Shea, Melody Buse, Sevanna Rowland and Brooke McCown.

•A program designed to reduce workplace violence is implemented at Texas County Memorial Hospital.

Daughter paints daddy

Kate Campbell, of Rolla, applies makeup to the face of her father, Josh, during a game last February at a “Daddy-Daughter Date Night” event hosted by Faith Fellowship in Bucyrus.

•The City of Houston announces the reopening of its dog pound.

•Texas County Associate Circuit Judge Doug Gaston applies for a seat on the Missouri Supreme Court.

•Collector/Treasurer Tammy Cantrell announces county residents can now pay personal and real estate taxes online.

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

•Houston High School assistant football coach Vince McCrosky resigns. He eventually returns to Arkansas and resumes coaching.

•Attorney Kimberly Lowe completes an elaborate building improvement project on Grand Ave. in downtown Houston.


•The Houston High School girls’ basketball team finishes second in the Class 3 District 10 tournament. It was the team’s fourth consecutive appearance in the title game.

•One of the oldest businesses in Houston and Texas County – ARPCO Pump Service – is sold by owner David Arthur to Seth Harker of Mountain Grove.

•Vandals destroy an iconic concrete Dalmation mascot – Spot – at Roby Fire Department Station No. 2.

•Three HHS athletes sign with collegiate sports programs: Trenton Best, Tori McCloud and Lucas Kelley.

• Sheena D. Bolerjack, a former jailer at the Texas County Jail, faces felony charges after allegedly distributing drugs to an inmate over a six-month period.

•Houston City Hall is modified to include a squad room for the Houston Police Department.

•The U.S. Forest Service conducts a huge prescribed burn on Mark Twain National Forest land west of Houston.

•City of Houston recycling specialist Danny Carter is highlighted in a feature article.


•Winners of elections for city and county positions are announced. Among the winners are Jeremy St. John, Donald Wilson and Kimberly Bittle as first-time additions to the Houston City Council.

•Steven Sprous, 31, is sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for the murder of his wife in January 2016 at Ellis Prairie.

•It was a happy ending for a dog stuck about two hours inside a Bryan Street culvert as City of Houston workers used a firehose to safely free the animal.

•A Missouri Department of Transportation project is complete and U.S. 63 through Houston opens with five lanes.

Durham Co. welder

Matt McDonald welds a piece of an electrical box at the Durham Co. in Houston during April.

•Young Houston School District students perform in the annual Kindergarten Circus.

More than 1,000 people set up in spots along U.S. 63 in Texas County during the annual Carry the Cross event.

•Personnel with the Texas County Sheriff’s Department and Houston Rural Fire Department rescue three men from the St. Louis area from rising floodwaters of the Big Piney River.

•Pastor Terry Snelling’s runs a “Bible Museum” in downtown Houston.

•HHS senior Connor Clifton is selected to play in the annual “Grin Iron” football all-star game.


•About 16 inches of rainfall leads to historic flooding in Houston. County officials estimate at least $4 million in damages.

•The HHS baseball team steals a program-record 18 bases in a 15-6 win against Summersville. The total was the eighth-most in state history in a single game.

•The iconic soda fountain at Forbes’ Pharmacy in downtown Houston shuts down.

Fun times

Houston Landmark Bank president Eric Wells and first-grader Reese Wilson share a laugh during Kids Fest ’17 in May at Houston Elementary School, an event annually sponsored by the bank

•With a 4-1 vote, the Houston City Council voted to remove city administrator Larry Sutton from office. He spent about 10 years in the position.

•Lifelong Texas County resident Ruby Ratterree, 97, continues making dresses for little girls in Haiti.

•The Houston High School Tiger Pride Band takes second place in an event in New Orleans.

•Owners of Boiling Springs Resort west of Licking announce that they will rebuild and reopen the facility again after catastrophic flooding ruined it for the second time in less than two years.

•Houston resident, associate circuit judge and author Doug Gaston and illustrator Landon Kemp, of Bolivar, announce the release of the first edition in the “Believe!” children’s book series.

The Launch Student Center opens at Faith Fellowship. The youth facility features a rock climbing wall, pool, basketball, ping pong, hoverboards and other activities.

•HHS senior Abby Casper wins the district title in the 100 meters.

•Houston eighth-grader Daniel Hutcheson sets conference records by running the 100 meters in 12.09 seconds and the 200 in 24.66 seconds at the South Central Association conference meet.

•Josh Green, a 30-year-old HHS graduate, becomes an officer with the Houston Police Department.

2018 2
2018 2

•The class of 2017 graduates from Houston High School. The ceremony was held inside Hiett Gymnasium due to inclement weather.

•Trap shooting expert Travis Hutson, of Cabool, and the Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports program are highlighted in a feature story.

•The Lynch-Tweed Civil War Home Preservation Society hosts a “living history” event featuring members dressed in period-correct clothing and performing various tasks from the mid-1800s.

•Houston’s eighth-grade football team completes an undefeated season to win its division of the Ozarks Football League.


•Texas County Sheriff’s Department authorities rule a Dunn Road shooting that resulted in the death of Matthew O. McDermott, 42, was self-defense.

•The annual Heartland Christian Cowboys and Cowgirls Gathering is held at Golden Hills Trail rides and Resort in Raymondville.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce conducts a major makeover of the arena at its fairgrounds north of Houston. New bleachers –– donated by the Durham Co. –– and new lighting are installed and a new press box is constructed.

Craniac flies high

Driven by Dave Rife, of Fowlerville, Mich., the 1,500-horsepower “Craniac” Monster Truck goes airborne in front of a big crowd during “vertical wheelie” competition in June inside the arena at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

•Rascalz Teen Club and Community Center hosts an open house at its location on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston.

•Licking resident Ricky Green Jr., 33, is charged after an incident in which he allegedly shot a woman several times in the head with an air pistol.

•The 66th annual Raymondville Carnival and Picnic is held. World record holder “Strongman Steve” Schmidt performed at the event.

•A manhunt ensues after Christopher Hunt, 33, escapes custody near Edgar Springs while being shuttled from Rolla to Houston in a Texas County Sheriff’s Department transport van.

•Firefighters respond to a blaze at the Texas County Jail after an inmate takes a lighter to a mattress.

•River rock Redi-Mix expands and improves its facility on U.S. 63 north of Houston.


•The Traxxas Destruction Series Monster Trucks perform at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

•Houston hires Tona Bowen as its new city administrator.

•Three Wright County inmates face felony charges after allegedly starting a fire in the Texas County Jail.

The wood sculptor

Wood sculptor Phil Godlewski stands last July next to an unfinished creation at his residence in eastern Texas County.

•Houston School District band director Michael Roy resigns after seven years in the position.

•Texas County Jail fugitive Christopher Hunt is apprehended by U.S. marshals in Kentucky.

•Three days before going to trial, Daniel G. Campbell, 39, enters a guilty plea and is sentenced to consecutive life terms plus 15 years in prison for his role in a 2016 murder southwest of Licking.

•HHS graduate Tanner Cantrell receives all-conference honors after a standout season at State Fair Community College.

•Houston resident and business owner Justin Dixon, 31, was killed when a tractor he was operating traveled off the side of Hamilton Creek Road at Simmons and overturned.

•Thanks to Healthy Schools Healthy Communities, the City of Houston and other organizations and individuals, Rutherford Park in western Houston receives a major upgrade and is outfitted with many pieces of equipment related to health and fitness.

•Personnel from multiple fire departments respond to a blaze at Ozark Shavings at Licking.

•For the third straight year, professional golfer Bruce Fleisher makes an appearance at Oakwood Golf Club to conduct free clinics and offer advice.

•Thanks in large part to a USDA Rural Development grant, the Texas County Food Pantry gets a big new food transport truck.

•The Mark Twain National Forest district ranger station in Houston is upgraded with a new parking area, improved stairway and improved walkways.

•The Bucyrus-based Piney River Brewing Co. earns a gold medal for its “Float Trip Ale” and a silver for its “Black Walnut Wheat” at the annual U.S. Open Beer Championship at Oxford, Ohio.


•The Texas County Fair and its livestock-oriented competition and activities is held at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

•Five Texas men – at least three with ties to gangs – suspected of burglarizing a Rolla pharmacy are arrested in Texas County and jailed on multiple charges.

•Licking resident Katie Mutzebaugh, 26, is hired as executive director at the Texas County Food Pantry. She replaced Tanya Pacheco, who took a position with Rocket Digital, a subsidiary of the Houston Herald based on online advertising and services.

•The Houston school board unanimously approved moving the softball season to the spring beginning with the 2018-’19 school year.

Big helmet

Houston High School senior Josh Hurst takes the field from inside a 17-foot tall inflatable helmet for the Tiger football team’s 2017 home opener against St. James last August. The helmet was purchased over the summer by a group of area businesses and individuals.

•In conjunction with Ford Motor Co. and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Romines Motor Co. in Houston hosts an event to honor U.S. military combat wounded veterans, with several local Purple Heart recipients participating.

•A large granite Purple Heart Monument made by Wolford Monument in Houston is installed at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Fort Leonard Wood.

•Local residents view a partial solar eclipse, while millions of people see a total eclipse in parts of Missouri.

•Houston Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Angie Quinlan and Texas County Fair Board chairman Darren Ice announce that the Texas County Fair and Old Settlers Reunion will reunite in 2018 after two years of separation.

•Organizers of an address-numbering project in Houston announce significant results. The project was in large part carried out by members of the Community Betterment Y.O.U.T.H. group (Youth Organization Understanding Tomorrow’s Houston).

•At the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, the family of Russell and Abby Gaither of Bucyrus is recognized by the University of Missouri Texas County Extension Council and local Farm Bureau as the county’s 2017 Missouri Farm Family.

•The HHS football team takes the field for its home opener from inside a large, inflatable helmet purchased by businesses and supporters.


•Houston Schools adds 41 students to its enrollment to lead all area districts.

•Local firefighters set up along U.S. 63 in Houston to participate in the annual “Fill the Boot” fundraising campaign to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

•Thieves swipe close to $18,000 worth of drugs during an overnight heist at Hutcheson Pharmacy in Houston.

•Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, both 18 of Houston, and Brianna Calderas, 24, of Cabool, are charged with first-degree murder in the gruesome death of 17-year-old Joseph Steinfeld, a transgender teen who often went by the name “Ally.”

•Junior Baylee Weaver is crowned 2017 Houston High School homecoming queen.

Murder suspect

Andrew Vrba, 18, of Houston, appears in September in Courtroom A of the Texas County Justice Center for arraignment in the murder case.

•Houston hosts three events on Saturday, Sept. 23: The annual Drive 4UR School fundraiser at Romines Motor Co., the inaugural Pumpkin Festival hosted by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Houston Rural Fire Department’s Poker Run fundraiser.


•The Houston Herald receives 20 awards in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

•HHS senior Paydon Dixon rushes for 303 yards in a 40-29 victory against Willow Springs.

•Mule enthusiasts from many states gather at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort for the inaugural Missouri Mule Days event, featuring instruction by renowned mule clinicians and many other activities.

World champion skeet shooter

During October, Plato resident Doug Kyle holds his trusty Kolar Arms shotgun while wearing the medals he earned at the 2017 World Skeet Championships in San Antonio, Texas.

•By a final score of 24-14, the Houston High School football team beats Mountain Grove for the first time in 16 years.

•The Houston Police Department investigates the use of counterfeit $100 bills that turn out to be fake cash clearly marked as being designed for use in the motion picture industry.

•Houston takes the grand prize in Missouri’s annual Community Betterment contest.

•Plato resident Doug Kyle wins a skeet shooting world championship at the annual World Skeet Championships at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas.

•Members of the Houston City Council unanimously vote for the city not to purchase Oakwood golf Club.

•Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway visits with Houston School District students and Rep. Jason Smith shares advice with students at Success School.

•A feature story highlights the children of Bryan and Jeannine Buttress, who are aspiring to be experts at playing the fiddle.

•The fourth annual Festival of Yesteryear in Raymondville is highlighted in a photo package.



•Texas County Memorial Hospital announces the Texas County Jail owes more than $200,000 in delinquent bills for healthcare provided to inmates.

•The Houston School District conducts its annual intruder training exercises with Houston-based Spearpoint LLC.

•The Houston High School Constitution Project team wins in regional competition and its journalism squad takes first in state-level competition.

•Licking-based Intercounty Electric Cooperative announces it has purchased T.R.A.I.N. (the Texas County Rural Area Information Network).

•Texas County government receives a “poor” rating in an audit conducted by State Auditor Nicole Galloway. The result marked the second consecutive time the county has earned the worst possible rating in a similar review.

On your marks

Kindergarteners prepare for the starting command during one of several heats during the 12th annual “NASCAR Race to Read” event in November inside Plato Schools’ new gym. From left, Caiden Bunch, Harper Wood, Race Coble, Gracey Maria and Luke Groves.

•A Plato School District bus is destroyed by fire, but the driver and a female student – the only people onboard – escape uninjured.

•The HHS journalism team takes the top honor in the state finals of the annual Constitution Project.

•The annual Chili Cook Off raises nearly $60,000 for Hospice of Care.

• Texas County finished second among counties around the state in deer harvest during the annual firearms season. The kill total in the county increased to 3,972, compared to 3,562 in 2016.

•The Houston City Council votes 4-1 to seek the resignation of City Clerk Tonya Foster. She held the officer for eight years in the position. She is replaced on an interim basis by city employee Heather Sponsler.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual “Taste of Christmas” event, with plenty of tasters participating but far fewer food entries than in 2016 and previous years.

•Sen. Claire McCaskill holds a town hall at Texas County Memorial Hospital.


•A Verizon Wireless cellular phone tower is erected adjacent to the building that formerly housed Air Evac Lifeteam offices on Spruce Street in Houston.

•After a major refurbishing project spearheaded by Downtown Houston Inc., the historic Melba Theatre opens with the play “A Christmas Story” performed by the Star Dramatic Co. of Willow Springs. A grand opening event is also staged, featuring tours of the facility and musical performances by two local groups.

Melba Theatre performace

The Southern Ozarks Community Orchestra performs Christmas music last year at the Melba Performing Arts Center in Houston.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony –– this year moving to the Texas County Administrative Building on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston.

•Oakwood Golf Club is purchased by Houston residents Doug and Michelle Moseley and Doug’s sister Lori McPherson, of Mountain Grove. The new owners will lease the course to Houston residents Doug and Tina Sutton, who will operate it with help from their son, Kobe.

•The City of Houston announces plans for its annual budget, which includes the hiring of an economic developer and a seventh full-time police officer.

•Isis Schauer pleads guilty to second-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse for her role in the September murder of a transgender teen near Cabool.

•A dog dies in a house fire near Raymondville after alerting its owners, who escape uninjured.

2018 1
2018 1

1. Three charged with murdering Houston teen

2. Five arrested in Texas County in Rolla pharmacy investigation

3. Farm accident claims one at Simmons

4. Inmate escapes Monday morning in Texas County transport van

5. Fire breaks out at Texas County Jail

6. UPDATED: Inmate captured

7. Houston man held on $1 million bond in child porn case


9. Licking teens busted in burglary at business

10. Inmate escapes from MoDOT work crew, captured without incident

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