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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Top 2010 stories eyed as year closes
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – Weather, roadwork, arrests and deaths were among the top stories reported on the pages of the Trinity Standard during the first six months of 2010. Below is a recap of those stories on a month-by-month basis. Part 2 covering the final six months of the year will appear in the Jan. 6 edition of the newspaper. JANUARY The year started off on a cold foot when a winter freeze swept through East Texas and played havoc with area water systems. When temperatures fell to 16 degrees during the first week in January, water lines unaccustomed to such a chill froze throughout the region, forcing “boil water” notices to be posted once the water began to flow again. On a brighter note, January also marked another Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo School Art Show at Trinity High School. Local students winning “Best of Show” awards in the annual event included Carius Larsen at Trinity High School, Zachary Rankin at Trinity Middle School and Marina Trevino at Lansberry Elementary School. The Trinity Memorial Hospital District’s board also announced in January that preliminary construction work was set to begin on an ongoing expansion of East Texas Medical Center-Trinity. Crews were set to begin locating and moving buried drainage and utility lines on the site where the hospital planned to build a 15-patient room wing as well as a new entryway and surgical suit area. In late January, 258th District Attorney Joe Ned Dean announced the arrest of three suspect wanted in connection with a shooting that lead to the accidental death of Sheriff Brent Lee on Nov. 27, 2008. Lee was responding to that shooting in the Pinecrest Estates subdivision south of Trinity when he lost control of his patrol car and was killed during the crash. Ricky Dalton Rains and Joey Gray were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon while Angela Fannin was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with an alleged attempt to cover up evidence in the shooting. FEBRUARY In early February, the University Interscholastic League unveiled their realignment plans for Texas football districts. Under the new two-year plan, Class 2A school would be divided into two divisions with the larger schools assigned to Division 1. The class had been divided in this manner in the past, but only during playoffs. The two-division system would now be in place throughout the season. Trinity was assigned to District 11-2A, Division 1 and matched with Crockett, Elkhart, Malakoff, Teague and Troup. On Feb. 10, Trinity native and longtime congressman, Charles Wilson, 76, died in a Lufkin hospital. Wilson, who represented the 2nd Congressional District for 24 years, gained national fame after he retired with the publication of the book, Charlie Wilson’s War, which detailed his work to aid the Afghanistan resistance during the Soviet Union’s occupation of that country in the 1980s. A tragic shooting on Valentines Day also made headlines and left one woman dead and her husband wounded. Michael Baker, 47, was arrested following a seven-hour standoff at a residence located off Highway 94 near Trinity. Baker was charged with killing his mother, Joyce Baker Stewart, 67, of Trinity and wounding his stepfather, H.F. Stewart, 67. Although the stepfather had apparently been allowed to leave to seek medical attention before deputies arrived, Mrs. Stewart remained in the home, critically wounded, during the first two and a half hours of the armed standoff. An apparent suicide attempt by then Trinity City Manager Phil Patchett on Feb. 16 kicked off an investigation into possible theft of city funds. Patchett, who subsequently recovered from an overdose of prescription medication, was suspended on Feb. 16 by the city and on Feb. 22 the council named Buddy Drake as the interim city manager. In late February, the TMHD board announced plans to increase the scope of its proposed expansion of the local hospital by adding a new kitchen and dining facility. MARCH Kicking off March was the story of the local primary elections in which Doug Page won the Democratic Party nomination for the post of county judge and Ralph Montemayor won the nomination for sheriff. While Montemayor would go on to run unopposed in the November general election, for the first time in recent memory a Republican would be on the November ballot for the county judge’s post. Frank Cowan was nominated for the judge’s post in an uncontested Republican Party primary. A recount in the Democratic Primary’s Precinct 2 commissioners’ race resulted in a runoff being ordered between former Commissioner Bill Burton and incumbent Commissioner Jannette Hortman. Burton missed winning the nomination outright by a margin of two votes. During their March meeting, the TMHD board announced they would cut their 2010 property tax rate by 10 percent. In mid-March, the Trinity City Council received a special audit report indicating that $4,090 in city money was missing. The city council made a number of policy changes designed to prevent such theft in the future. A few days later, Phil Patchett formally resigned as city manager and acknowledged he had taken the money. He entered a guilty plea to the theft charge in district court in Groveton and was placed on probation for two years. He also repaid the stolen $4,090 and reimbursed the city for the cost of the special audit. APRIL Among the stories published in April included the results of the Democratic Party Primary runoff races. Bill Burton, who had narrowly missed winning the Precinct 2 commissioners’ nomination outright in the March primary, defeated incumbent Jannette Hortman after garnering 64.4 percent of the vote. Another top story that month was the resignation of Trinity School Superintendent Bobby Rice, who stepped down to accept a post with the Gilmer Independent School District. Also at the end of the month, TMHD and ETMC officials conducted a formal ground breaking ceremony for the $7.4 million expansion of the local hospital. During the closing days of April, two Trinity school campuses received bomb threats that later proved to have been hoaxes perpetrated by students. The first, at Trinity High School, came on April 21, while the second was made at Lansberry Elementary School on April 26. MAY Hot on the heels of the two threats received in April, a third bomb threat in 14 days was received by a Trinity school campus. This time the Trinity Intermediate School received the threat on May 3. In local elections held May 10, all of the incumbents were given new terms in the city council, school board and hospital board races. During their May meeting, the Trinity City Council approved a $255,000 street-paving program when they awarded a construction bid to Waters Construction Co. of Huntsville. The street program included both asphalt and chip and seal toppings for the streets and was the second phase of a $500,000 program begun in the fall of 2009. In mid-May, the Trinity Peninsula Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual membership meeting where Wilkison Hardware, Furniture and Appliance store was named Business of the Year. On May 20, longtime Trinity businessman Goree Gates, 85, was critically injured in a traffic accident on FM 3188. Gates was riding a John Deere Gator off-road vehicle along the FM 3188 ditch when he tried to cross the highway and was struck by a passing truck. He sustained head and other injuries and subsequently died in the hospital. On May 27, a Trinity man was arrested on child pornography charges after a Lufkin Internet cop detected him downloading illegal photographs. A subsequent search of a Trinity home and a number of computers found in the home lead to the arrest of Charles Thomas Stewart, 27, who at the time was employed as a prison guard at the Eastham Unit. JUNE June kicked off with the graduation of 55 Trinity High School seniors during ceremonies held at the Trinity Pines Conference Center. Also in early June, the district attorney’s office announced the arrest of a fourth suspect wanted in connection with a Nov. 27, 2008 shooting that lead to the death of Sheriff Brent Lee. Cole Brown, 24, of Cleveland had been arrested in St. Charles, Mo., and was awaiting extradition to face charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and tampering with physical evidence. Brown and three others arrested in January were wanted in connection with a shooting that left a Pinecrest Estates woman wounded. Lee, who was responding to the shooting report, was killed when he lost control of his car during the early morning fog and crashed at the entrance of Pinecrest Estates.


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