As everyone transitions to 2022, here’s a look back at some of what took place in 2021 on a local basis as depicted in the pages of the Houston Herald.

JANUARY

•Elizabeth Grace Watkins is the first baby born at Texas County Memorial Hospital in 2021, arriving at 12:40 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1.

•Texas County Sheriff Scott Lindsey discusses the challenges his department faced during 2020.

•Missouri 142nd District Rep. Bennie Cook is sworn into office.

A farm west of Houston with a wintry look.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce announces a big makeover project at the Murfin Building at the chamber fairgrounds. The structure is being refurbished to include a drive- through COVID-19 testing facility and space that can be used as a disaster response command center and for other health-related purposes and public functions.

•The Houston High School girls basketball team wins six straight games, including a victory over South Central Association powerhouse Liberty.

•The Optimist Club in Houston closes its daycare center.

FEBRUARY

•After 18 years in the position, Texas County Memorial Hospital CEO Wes Murray announces his retirement. Chris Strickland is named as his replacement.

•Fostering by Faith opens in Houston, a boutique designed to allow kids in the foster care system access to clothing and other household items that are available for free.

•Texas County Memorial Hospital and the Texas County Health Department team up to host a COVID-19 vaccine event at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. About 1,000 people get a shot.

•A West Plains man is killed in a horrific crash on U.S. 63 about five miles south of Houston.

Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper Marty Wiseman and personnel from the Houston Rural Fire Department work at the scene of a fatal crash during February on U.S. 63 near Highway RA south of Houston.

•Houston Police Department Chief Tim Ceplina discusses the agency’s busy year in 2020.

•A sprawling winter storm sweeps across the Ozarks, closing schools and businesses and making roads dangerous as snow and ice fall in perilously frigid conditions.

•A feature story documents how witnessing a crash in 2007 changed the life of Houston resident Paul Fockler, leading him to become a nurse.

•Houston High School’s Future Farmer of America (FFA) chapter is highlight in an annual special section.

•Personnel at Houston’s American Legion Post 41 are certified to provide official military funeral honors.

•Babies born in Texas County in 2020 are highlighted in an annual special section.

•Tractor Supply Co. announces the acquisition of 167 Orscheln Farm and Home stores operating in 11 states, including the location in Houston.

MARCH

•A Houston School District committee studies the idea of adopting a new Tiger logo to be incorporated into all marketing.

•Thanks to CARES Act funding administered by the Texas County Commission, five fire stations in Texas County are equipped with new washers and dryers specifically designed for use by fire fighting personnel.

•New copper facing is installed on the Houston City Hall building.

Significant progress has been made on a major renovation of the old Murfin Building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. The chamber’s cook shack, at right, will soon receive a series of improvements.

•Downtown Houston Inc. receives a $10,000 grant from the Houston Community Foundation for use toward expenses at the Melba Performing Arts Center in downtown Houston.

•The Houston High School boys basketball team wins at Salem in the season finale.

•Houston High School’s Scholar Bowl teams sweep the South Central Association conference championships, taking first in both the varsity and junior varsity brackets.

•Numerous entities receive CARES Act funding distributed by the Texas County Commission. The county received about $3 million as part of federal funds given to Missouri and passed on to counties based on population.

•The Houston Police Department hires a ninth full-time officer.

•A 9-year-old third-grade student at Houston Elementary School recites 121 consecutive digits of pi, eclipsing her previous record of 81 from 2019.

•A late-model Ford Mustang runs off of U.S. 63 at Emmett Kelly Park and into Coyle Creek.

•Candidates for Houston School Board positions share information about themselves.

APRIL

•Candidates for Houston City Council seats share information about themselves.

•Texas County’s Hamilton Native Outpost is highlighted in a feature story. Rex and Amy Hamilton founded their native seed business in 1981.

•The Houston High School softball team wins the championship at the annual Mountain Grove Tournament.

•Local agriculture is highlighted in an annual special section.

•Students in the Houston School District drama program perform “Jungle Book” at the Melba Performing Arts Center.

•The Houston branch of the Texas County Library hosts an Easter event for kids.

Carry the Cross participants wave while standing in front of Texas County Memorial Hospital on U.S. 63 in Houston.

•An article describes a Houston man’s issues with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after he bought two small electric cars from a Chinese website.

•While participating in the annual “Carry the Cross” campaign, Christians holding large crosses line U.S. 63 in Texas County.

•Hometown Barber Shop opens on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston.

•The Texas County Fair Board announces a new program designed to help kids become first-time exhibitors at the organization’s annual livestock fair.

•The Houston High School baseball team beats Willow Springs and Salem to secure a share of the South Central Association conference championship.

•During an outbreak of unseasonable weather, heavy snowfall created a wintry look on April 20 in downtown Houston.

MAY

•City of Houston economic development director Rob Harrington resigns.

•The Houston High School softball team beats Liberty 17-1 to earn a share of the SCA championship.

•The Class of 2021 graduates from Houston High School.

•The HHS Scholar Bowl team takes third in the Class 3 state tournament.

•Elmore’s Men’s and Boys’ Wear on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston will close. The store opened in 1973.

The HHS Scholar Bowl team gathers around the Class 3 third-place trophy in May.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Spring Smash Demolition Derby, the first of three derbies staged during the year in the arena at the chamber fairgrounds.

•Former Texas County Sheriff and long-time Missouri State Highway Patrol officer Carl Watson describes his UFO sighting that took place in the evening of Monday, Nov. 30, 1976, in the Bendavis area of western Texas County.

•The 70th annual Raymondville Picnic draws huge crowds to its activities and attractions that include music, food, vendor displays
and a carnival midway.

•Lindsey Vermillion is hired as Houston High School girls basketball head coach. The 27-year-old Van Buren native becomes the second female head coach in the history of HHS hoops.

JUNE

•Authorities investigate a fatal stabbing last that left a 30-year-old man dead in a house near downtown Houston. Adam T. Reams, 38, who lives in Houston but has ties to Waterloo, Ill., is charged with first-degree murder.

•The Houston Police Department introduces the “Tigermobile,” a patrol vehicle outfitted with graphics related to the Houston School District. School resource officer Josh Green will drive it.

•A feature story highlights “The Ice Cream Man” (a.k.a. Houston resident Max Bittle, 16), who peddles frozen treats from his brightly-colored converted Ford delivery van.

Houston Police Department school resource officer Josh Green stands next to his “Tigermobile” patrol vehicle after it was outfitted with graphics related to the Houston School District. The work was done by ADgraphix LLC of St. Louis.

•Former Houston High School players ranging in age from 18 to 48 battle for four quarters during the third annual Alumni Football Game in Tiger Stadium.

•Houston High School baseball head coach Brent Hall and softball head coach Jim Moore each earn South Central Association Coach of the Year recognition.

•The City of Houston launches a $2 million project designed to bring up to 1 gig internet access to community homes and businesses.

•An article describes the efforts of archaeology enthusiasts and professionals who team up on a project to study evidence of ancient residents of the area near The Narrows on the Big Piney River.

•A feature story introduces Herald intern Madalyn Richardson.

JULY

•An article documents the efforts of a 45-year-old blind woman who is in the midst of a cross-country trek on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.

•A 62-year-old woman dies in an apartment fire at Summersville.

•The results are published of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s annual school bus inspections.

•Twenty women participate in a barn quilt class conducted by the University of Missouri Extension.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the fourth annual Independence Day Parade in downtown Houston.

Personnel from Houston’s American Legion Post 41 hand out small American Flags during the fourth annual Independence Day Parade in Houston.

•The Houston City Council ponders making changes to its grass cutting policy in the community.

•A photo spread depicts Houston High School female athletes lifting weights in the school’s weight room.

•Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus announces an event to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

•The floor is installed in Houston High School’s new 1,500-seat gymnasium.

•An article highlights inmates at Licking prison sewing custom quilts for foster children.

•Texas County Sheriff’s Department officers are issued new badges that commemorate the county’s 175th anniversary.

•Personnel from the City of Houston Fire Department respond to a huge blaze that destroys several businesses on the square in Mountain Grove.

AUGUST

•The 71st annual Texas County Fair is highlighted in numerous photos. Results from livestock competition and sales is outlined in an annual special section.

•Houston hosts an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood.

•Blind golfer Gordon Evans, 86, is the subject of a feature story.

•A Texas County resident who is a retired police officer presents patch collections to Texas County Sheriff Scott Lindsey and District 142 State Rep. Bennie Cook. The collections include patches from local law enforcement agencies and other departments from coast to coast.

During the Texas County Fair, Yukon twins Mason, left, and Eagan Law show dairy cattle in the arena at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds.

•Area school districts welcome students back to class.

•An investigation conducted after a near-drowning in June at the Houston Municipal Swimming pool concludes that under-staffing was a contributing factor.

•After being outfitted with various types of equipment, the City of Houston Fire Depart- ment’s 2020 Pierce Saber engine is officially placed into service.

•A new ATM is installed at the future location of West Plains Bank and Trust’s Houston branch on U.S. 63.

•Houston school district band director Sam Van Dielen and the Houston High School Tiger Pride Marching Band are featured in an article.

•Season preview articles highlight the Houston High School football and volleyball teams.

SEPTEMBER

•In a home game in Tiger Stadium, the Houston High School football beats Salem 20-13. Before the win, the Tigers had lost to their namesakes from Dent County 40 consecutive times over a span of 40 years.

•Commercial electrical customers receive a mailing from Houston City Hall recently that outlines the procedure for paying for a sharp escalation in wholesale costs during bitter cold in February.

•The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports that 29.8 percent of Texas County residents are completely vaccinated for COVID-19. The state’s rate is reported at 47.3 percent.

Culpepper & Meriweather Circus owner and big cat man Trey Key get a kiss from Delilah during an impromptu practice session before performances in Houston in September.

•The Culpepper & Meriweather Circus (of Hugo, Okla.) presents two performances under the big top at the Houston Area Chamber of commerce Fairgrounds. Circus owner and big cat specialist Trey Key and his tigers are highlighted in an article.

•Driving surfaces are paved at Rutherford Park in western Houston.

•The Houston Herald earns 18 awards in the Missouri Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest.

•The Houston High School volleyball team sweeps Plato in the first-ever varsity competition in Houston’s new gym.

•Texas County’s Kataryna Davis took first place in the Junior Open division (ages 8-10) in the Missouri 4-H Smallbore State Shoot at Linn Creek.

OCTOBER

•Senior Mali Brookshire is crowned Houston High School homecoming queen.

•Missouri Department of Conservation Cpl. Chris Ely of Texas County is been named runner-up for Outstanding Conservation Agent of the Year.

•After being associated with downtown Houston retail for 72 years, Wilburn Elmore dies at the age of 93.

•The Houston Eagles Club lodge hosts a big car show to raise money for the Texas County “Shop with a Hero” program.

Candidates for 2021 Houston High School Homecoming Queen gather prior to the coronation ceremony in Tiger Stadium. From left, Kaelyn Honeycutt (freshman), Mikendra Ramsey (sophomore), Logynn Foster (junior), Emilee Weaver (senior), Mali Brookshire (senior), Madi Reed (junior), Maddie Holder (sophomore) and Isabell Pena (freshman).

•U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri visits Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston.

•Texas County clerk Laura Crowley resigns and long-time deputy county clerk Peggy Seyler is named to replace her.

•The Houston High School volleyball team goes 7-0 in conference play and wins the South Central Association championship.

•Houston hosts a cross country meet for the first time since the early 1980s with an event at Houston Municipal Golf Course.

The Houston High School football team falls in overtime in a back-and-forth district playoff game at Forsyth.

NOVEMBER

•Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft visits Texas County.

•U.S. military veterans are honored at various Veterans Day programs around Texas County.

As personnel from VFW Post 473 present the colors, members of American Legion Post 41 present arms during a Veterans Day program in Cabool.

•Voters turn down an issue that would have created a tax-based district for the Houston Rural Fire Department.

•Houston School District superintendent Dr. Allen Moss announces he will leave the position in June 2022.

•Houston High School senior Hunter McKinney reaches a career goal by posting his first-ever time under 18 minutes while running in the Class 2 boys race at the state championship cross country meet in Columbia.

•Houston High School graduate Kayla Dalbom is named superintendent at Montauk State Park.

•The U.S. Census Bureau announces that the population center of the United States is at Hartville in Wright County. The previous population center was at Plato in northwest Texas County.

•The annual “Taste of Christmas” food competition is hosted by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.

•The annual “Share Your Christmas” campaign begins, which benefits children of low-income families in Texas County.

•The Houston High School boys basketball team beats Eminence in a wild double-overtime game in Houston’s new gym.

DECEMBER

•The Missouri Department of Conservation’s data from the 2021 firearms deer hunting season shows that almost 188,000 deer were harvested. Texas County finished third in the state with 4,050.

•Work begins on the installation of volleyball and pickleball courts at Westside Park in Houston.

•The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Christmas Parade in downtown Houston.

•The Southern Ozarks Community Orchestra presents a Christmas music concert at the Melba Performing Arts Center in downtown Houston.

Houston’s annual Christmas Parade featured numerous floats.

•The Houston High School girls basketball team wins the annual Fordland Invitational Tournament. The Lady Tigers secure the championship with an overtime win over Dora.

•Houston High School Tiger Pride Band member Devon Sawyer is named to the Missouri All-State Band for the second straight year. He is accepted to Yale University with a full-ride academic scholarship.

•A long-time 911 dispatcher publishes a book consisting of entries from the “Dial 911” monthly column series she has written for the Houston Herald since mid-2018.

•Law enforcement officers and first-response personnel assist kids with a shopping spree at Walmart during the annual “Shop with a Hero” program.

•People involved in the launching and creation of the Piney River Technical Center in Houston are treated to an open house event at the facility.

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