Among the highs of the past 12 months locally was Houston’s most successful high school football season in more than a decade. It had been even longer for one of the lows: Texas County’s first public official arrested in 45 years as sheriff James Sigman and his chief deputy, who was also his lover, were charged with multiple felonies.

From the highlights to the challenging, here’s a chronological look at many of the biggest news stories of 2018.

JANUARY

•Texas County’s first baby of 2018 is born Jan. 2, and it’s a boy: Cain Ray Kirkwood. He is the first child of Stormy Ford and Philip Kirkwood of Houston.

•A Houston Police Department patrol vehicle was totaled when an officer crashed while following a speeding vehicle on North highway 17 on Houston’s west side. Chief Tim Ceplina said officer Greg Ryan’s car hydroplaned in rainy conditions. Ryan escaped injury.

•After a major renovation and expansion project that began in October 2016, the Cabool branch of the Texas County Library reopened.

•Bright Futures hosts a kickoff event at the Melba Performing Arts Center in downtown Houston. The organization is designed to work with the Houston School District to help meet the needs of students.

Bright Futures kickoff

The marquee at the Melba Theatre in downtown Houston promotes the kickoff event for Bright Futures Houston. 

•Several members of the Texas County Sheriff’s Department staff leave for other work, including Sgt. Travis Davis, Detective Rowdy Douglas, deputy Jacob Shannon and office manager Heather Reynolds.

•Healthy Schools Healthy Communities announces several plans for 2018. Texas County community wellness coordinator Earlene Stoops said the projects are all designed to help kids and their families be more active and eat a healthier diet.

•The Houston school board unanimously votes to extend the contract of superintendent Dr. Allen Moss through the 2019-’20 school year. Moss is completing his second year at Houston Schools.

•A story highlights the change of ownership at a long-time chiropractic business on First Street in Houston. Kalenna Wilson begins Wilson Family Chiropractic LLC after buying the business that for years was run by the late Dr. Gerald St. John.

•Kristian Flett is installed as Houston postmaster. She began her career with the U.S. Postal Service in 2001 as a carrier in St. James.

•Jonathan D. S. Southworth, 31, is sentenced to seven years in prison for inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl in the summer of 2016.

•Heather Sponsler is named Houston city clerk. She had been a utility clear for the city since June 2009.

Oakwood G.C. meeting

New Oakwood Golf Club managers Doug and Tina Sutton address a large crowd inside the clubhouse during the course’s annual informational meeting on a Sunday in January.

•A new era begins at Oakwood Golf Club, as a sizable crowd attends the first annual club meeting hosted by new managers Doug and Tina Sutton.

FEBRUARY

•A manhunt ensues after an inmate escapes from a low security portion of the South Central Correctional Center in Licking. John T. Long, 41, reportedly walked away from the prison’s recycling plant. Authorities apprehend Long 10 days later on a property near Highways VV and 137, still wearing the gray pants and brown jacket he was wearing when he escaped.

INMATE ARRESTED

Escapee John Long is taken into custody by Cpl. Pat Burton of the Licking Police Department in February. Looking on are officials with the Missouri Department of Corrections.

•Texas County commissioners are notified of seven departures of personnel at the sheriff’s department.

•A feature story highlights Cabool resident Michael Warneke and his Fields of Dreams Uganda organization that provides hope and services to orphaned and needy children of Uganda using the vehicles of soccer and education.

•Texas County Memorial Hospital announces that patient numbers increased in 2017.

•Congressman Jason Smith visits the Piney River Brewing Co. in Bucyrus.

•Court Appointed Special Advocates of South Central Missouri (CASA) introduces Samantha Banks as its new Texas County volunteer supervisor.

•Houston Police Department officers train with their new Axon X2 tasers.

•A Plato School District student faces possible criminal charges after allegedly threatening an act of violence against the school.

MARCH

•Joshua Breedlove, 30, of Success, is jailed without bond and charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action after a 29-year-old woman was shot.

•A new program begins that allows indigent defendants in Texas County to be served by private attorneys, with the state footing the bill for legal counsel. The program is the first of its kind in Missouri.

•A 16-year-old Houston Schools student faces charges after threatening to shoot people on campus.

School threat

Officers Matt Woodmansee and Brad Evans, center, of the Houston Police Department stand alongside Houston High School assistant principal Eric Sloan as students arrive for school on Feb. 28. 

•Houston Police Department officer Matt Woodmansee is promoted to sergeant after close to eight years with the agency.

•For the first time, the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce presents numerous awards to citizens at its annual banquet. Chamber director Angie Quinlan said the awards will become an annual feature at the event.

•Houston Middle School principal Amber Stephens resigns.

Carry the Cross 2018

Carry the Cross participants stand in March at the entrance to the Missouri Department of Transporation and Highway Patrol headquarters. From left, Wilma Scott, Elizabeth Scott, Emily Scott, Lily Johnson and Susan Johnson.

•A feature article describes Ashley Creek Large Animal and Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary in Texas County, an 18-year-old organization founded by Susan Seago and her long time business partner Rebecca Wilson where domestic animals, livestock and even wildlife receive needed human assistance or intervention.


•Huggins residents Mike and Julie Anderson and their “Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats” business is are the subject of a feature story.

•More than 1,000 Christians participate in the annual “Carry the Cross” campaign on Good Friday, holding large crosses while lining U.S. 63 and U.S. 60 in Texas County.

APRIL

•Texas County prosecuting attorney Parke Stevens Jr. announces he will seek the death penalty for Houston resident Andrew Vrba, 18, in the September 2017 killing of Joseph M. Steinfeld, who went by “Ally” and planned to transition to a female, according to family members.

•Kevin Stilley and Charles “Chalky” Wells are elected to the Houston City Council and incumbent Victoria Narancich retains her seat running unopposed. Incumbents Leon Slape and Stacie Ely retain their seats on the Houston School Board.

•Texas County voters approve a “use tax” to allow government entities to tax Internet sales from out- of-state firms.

•Jeremy Smith resigns as director of Houston Schools’ Exceptional Child Education Cooperative.

•A 56-year-old truck owned by Paul and Lola Smeltzer of Bucyrus wins in the “ugliest” category in the “I Love My Truck” contest sponsored by Rural Missouri magazine.

Drury event

Houston Development Co. board member Don Romines addresses the crowd during an event in April inside the building on Spruce Street in Houston where Drury University set up a satellite campus after relocating from Cabool.

•Drury University moves one its Cabool campus to a building on Spruce Street in Houston owned by Houston Development Co.

•Houston High School principal Amy Smith resigns.

•Two tornadoes sweep through Texas County, causing significant damage at a farm in the Upton area and to residences near Licking.

•The Melba Performing Arts Center hosts its first-ever concert, as the four-woman country music group, Farewell Angelina, performs in front of a packed house.

•Amanda Munson is hired as Houston Middle School principal.

MAY

•The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the state attorney general’s office announce that two employees at the Texas County Sheriff’s Department are under investigation.

Fire tower

The old fire lookout tower on Highway 38, where a Houston High School student confessed he and a juvenile threw a puppy from the top platform beneath the office 100 feet to its death. The tower is no longer used but remains standing without fencing or signage warning the public to stay off.

•A Houston teenager is charged with animal abuse for his actions that led to a puppy being thrown 100 feet to its death from a fire lookout tower on Highway 38 in Texas County. Another juvenile male is reportedly involved.

•The first-ever Grand Festival takes place in downtown Houston and at the county fairgrounds, featuring a car show, music, food, helicopter rides and other family-friendly activities.

•A big new fitness center opens in Houston: Jack’d Up Fitness.

•Skyler Kreitler receives the “best in show” award at the Houston High School art show.

•Raymondville resident Michael Wray and his unique football board game, “You’re the Coach,” are highlighted in a feature story.

•The Houston City Council votes unanimously to have voters decide in November will whether fluoridation of the city’s water supply will continue. The practice started 17 years ago.

•The Houston board of education hires West Plains resident Jennifer Johnson as director of the Exceptional child Education Cooperative.

•A trio of teenage boys face charges of vandalism and theft following a “senior prank” at Cabool High School.

•A feature article chronicles the first-ever “Midwest Vanlife Gathering” held on Mark Twain National Forest land adjacent to the Slabtown Access on the Big Piney River in northern Texas County.

•Owners Mike and Kim Brannan announce that Houston’s iconic Lazy L Café will reopen.

JUNE

•A search warrant is executed at the Texas County Sheri ’s Department, as an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the state attorney general’s office continues.

•A group of 72 Houston High School students and 30 adults take a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit landmarks and perform a concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

•Intercounty Electric Cooperative’s acquisition of the Texas County Rural Area Information Network (T.R.A.I.N.) is finalized.

Football Marines

Houston sophomore Trevor Mitchell carries two artillery cases weighing 35 pounds apiece as he maneuvers through an obstacle course on a Friday morning in June as recruiters from the U.S. Marines led the Houston High School football team through a workout that challenged their explosiveness, speed and strength.

•Firefighters from several departments responded in sweltering heat to a house re on Hawthorn Street in Houston. Two firefighters battling the blaze were taken to Texas County Memorial Hospital with heat exhaustion.

•A former Texas County Jail inmate who claims he didn’t receive proper medical care files a $1 million federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

•Houston Schools selects Houston Police Department officer Josh Green as the district’s first-ever school resource officer.

•The Texas County Emergency Services board appoints Susan Hale as Texas County 911 director and Terra Culley as assistant director.

•Hundreds of people attend a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium in an event sponsored by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.

•A feature story highlights B.F. Farm in Huggins, where co-owners Mark Bengtson and Jodey Fulcher employ a unique pasture grazing rotation involving cattle, Kiko goats and Kunekune pigs. The article ends up being published in three agriculture industry magazines and will appear in another in February.

•Area ham radio operators conduct tests and demonstrations at the annual Field Day event.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors an Independence Day parade in downtown Houston.

•Team Missouri takes first place at the 4-H Shooting Sports Nationals at Grand Island, Neb. Two Texas County 4-H Shooting Sports program members help the squad to the victory: .22 caliber rifle shooter Kaitlyn Davis and shotgun shooter Pierce Ford.

JULY

Sheriff, chief deputy charged

The booking photos of Texas County Sheriff James Sigman, left and Chief Deputy Jennifer Tomaszewski.

•Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and his department’s chief deputy Jennifer Tomaszewski are arrested and charged with multiple felony offenses: first-degree felony assault, first-degree robbery, felony first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, felony unlawful use of a weapon, felony harassment, felony endangering the welfare of a child, second degree; misdemeanor misuse of official information by a public servant and misdemeanor false impersonation. Sigman was charged additionally in October on a felony forgery charge.

•Former detective Rowdy Douglas, who left earlier in the year to work as parks director for the City of Houston, is re-hired and shortly later sworn in as interim sheriff.

•Close to 150 cars and trucks and six motorcycles are entered in the 34th annual Route 63 Car and Bike show at Licking City Park.

•Houston Police Department officer Greg Ryan resigns. He later becomes a Texas County Sheriff’s Department deputy.

•Intercounty Electric Cooperative CEO Aaron Bradshaw leaves to take a similar position at another Missouri electric co-op. His position is later filled by long-time Intercounty employee Susan Parish.

•City of Houston officials announce that a project to bring self- service fueling to Houston Memorial Airport is nearing completion.

•The Texas County Fair and Old Settlers Reunion take place simultaneously for the first time in three years. Popular Christian rock band, Hawk Nelson, performs in concert inside the refurbished area at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

AUGUST

•Interim Texas County Sheriff Rowdy Douglas hires six deputies to give the department a full roster. Four of the six return after resigning under Sigman’s tenure. Douglas also resigned during that time and had taken a job with the City of Houston.

•In contested primaries on the Republican ticket, Texas County voters elect Scott Long as candidate for presiding commissioner and select Laura Crowley for county clerk. Crowley is uncontested in the November General election.

•The attorney for former Texas County Sheriff James Sigman has led multiple motions as he says he is vigorously defending his client and his former chief deputy. Among them are allegations of police misconduct.

•Candidates for a special November election for Texas County sheriff are announced: Republican Scott Lindsey and Democrat Doug Kyle.

Fatal shooting

Sgt. Dale Pounds of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Deputy Melissa Emerick of the Texas County Sheriff’s Department at a Roby crime scene. Authorities were called to the area after a wanted vehicle was reported there. The car was sought after a woman was abducted from the Walmart Supercenter Center parking lot at Houston at about noon.

•After being abducted from the Houston Walmart parking lot, Cabool resident Susan Campbell, 56, is shot to death at Roby Lake by her former boyfriend, Kenneth Clark, 52, also of Cabool. Clark was hospitalized in critical condition with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

•The Houston Police Department hires two new full-time officers: Travis Thompson and Adam Stevenson.

•A Houston couple is killed and three people are injured in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 63 between Houston and Cabool.

SEPTEMBER

•The City of Houston announces that Rob Harrington has been hired as economic development director. The Marceline native enters the job with several years of experience in the field.

•The operational aspects of the Texas County 911 office are highlighted in a feature story.

•An armed robbery occurs at Town and Country Bank in Licking. It’s the first bank robbery in Texas County since 2002.

•The fifth annual Festival of Yesteryear takes place at the Raymondville Fairgrounds.

•The Houston Herald earns 21 awards in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper contest. It’s the sixth straight year the Herald has won more than 20 awards.

HHS queen

Senior Haylie Heathington was crowned Houston High School 2018 homecoming queen in September. From left: freshman Mackenzie Holder (first runner-up), Blake Harrison, Heathington, Brecken Adey, freshman Ellie Lock (second runner-up) and Aiden Sawyer.

•Senior Haylie Heathington is crowned Houston High School 2018 homecoming queen.

•A man and woman are charged with arson after a house burns down on Highway 17 at Eunice.

•The Houston High School football team mourns the loss of a former teammate, as 19-year-old Connor Clifton is killed in a single-vehicle crash on U.S. 63 south of Houston.

Mourning a friend

Captains of the Houston High School football team carry the No. 4 jersey of former teammate Connor Clifton to midfield prior to the start of game in Ava. Clifton was killed in a single-vehicle accident two days earlier. From left, head coach Eric Sloan, Dakota Burchett (15), Devin Wallander (52), CJ Lee (40) and Paydon Dixon (11).

OCTOBER

•Waynesville resident Taylor Duncan eats ice cream with Houston Mayor Don Tottingham at Betty’s on Grand. As part of a home schooling project, the 5-year-old girl is on a mission to eat ice cream with every mayor in Missouri. Tottingham is No. 113.

•A federal lawsuit seeking $2.5 million alleges that former Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and his department created a miserable environment for a former Texas County Jail inmate during his incarceration.

•A home that was formerly Bethel Chapel Church was destroyed by fire at Blue Moon Corner on Highway 17 west of Houston.

•A feature article describes a multi-layered mission being carried out by three men and one woman who are riding the Cherokee Trail of Tears on horseback from Oklahoma to North Carolina. 

•The Houston School District continues discussion about a possible 2019 bond issue.

•Houston earns two first-place awards in the annual Missouri Community Betterment contest.

•City of Houston Fire Department Chief Joey Moore announces he will step down from the position at the end of 2018.

•Bill Marsh shows off a huge sweet potato he grew on his property on Highway E north of Houston. The monstrous root vegetable weighs 17 pounds, 13.2 ounces (according to a scale at the Houston Post Office, as is evidenced by a receipt). Marsh said this was his first try at growing sweet potatoes.

•Former Texas County Sheriff James Sigman appears in court again as several motions are heard in the first criminal case against a county official in 45 years.

NOVEMBER

Lindsey sworn in

Scott Lindsey is sworn in by Clerk Laura Crowley as the new sheriff of Texas County.

•In the General Election, Texas County voters elect Scott Lindsey as sheriff and Scott Long as presiding commissioner. City of Houston voters elect to discontinue fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

•A rare autumn snowfall blankets the region in the middle of the month.

•Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft visits with Texas County Clerk Laura Crowley on General Election day.

•The Houston High School choir leads all SCA schools with 19 all-conference selections.

•Local resident John Hulbert is featured in an article about his time spent as a soldier and helicopter door gunner in the Vietnam War.

Miller's Grill owners

New owners Jarid and Jennifer Scheets stand near the front entrance to Miller’s Grill on South U.S. 63 in Houston. The restaurant’s name will soon be changed to Walter’s Grill (after Jarid’s first name).

•An article describes the change of ownership at Houston’s Miller’s Grill, with new owners Jarid and Jennifer Scheets explaining plans they have for the popular restaurant.

•In a 3-2 vote, the Houston City Council approves a controversial community improvement district to aid Texas County Memorial Hospital.

•Patrick Burton is sworn in as new Licking police chief. He replaces new Texas County Sheriff Scott Lindsey.

•The City of Houston Fire Department acquires a 2008 model pumper truck for $175,000. The move helps fill the gap left by the absence of a 1998 model that has been out of service for three months with mechanical and computer-related problems.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Taste of Christmas competition. Public participation is good, but food entries are scarce.

DECEMBER

•Houston resident Robbie Smith is the subject of a story about how each year since 2011 he has worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter battling large wildfires in western states.

•The Houston Herald rolls out a new design and layout.

•Texas County Sheriff Scott Lindsey make his first hiring moves, promoting Tim Garnica to jail administrator and adding Aaron Sigman to the deputy roster. Sigman is former Sheriff James Sigman’s nephew.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Christmas parade.

Legion float

Military veterans handed out small American flags while riding in a float sponsored by American Legion Post 41 during the annual Christmas parade in December sponsored by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.

•A road rage incident in Cabool ends with gunfire and leads to felony charges against three men.

•Long-time Houston Schools choir director Beth Williamson announces she will retire at the end of the school year.

•Cabool Elementary School was evacuated after a bomb threat was made via email. Authorities said it was unfounded.

•Police investigate an alleged drive-by shooting on Bryant Street in Houston.

•The Houston City Council is asked to place a half-cent city sales tax for public safety on the April 2019 ballot to benefit the community’s fire and police departments.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply