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A look back at 2022

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A tornado in March ripped through the area and caused destruction to many homes and businesses. Jan White | HCCA tornado in March ripped through the area and caused destruction to many homes and businesses. Jan White | HCC

By Jan White
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The start of a new year always seems like a good time to look back at the previous year and reminisce on what took place. These were just a few of the highlights from 2022, from the pages of the Courier. We look forward to what 2023 has in store.

January

January saw Crockett’s Martin Luther King Day parade and celebration. The parade had a great participation turnout, and organizers predict that this year’s parade will be even better.

Carolyn Harrison, who worked for the Kennard School District for 43 years, retired. Another long-time community member, C.R. “Chili” Hodges, was also recognized for his fifty-year service to Houston County as its County Surveyor.

A local historic site, Caddo Mounds, began reconstruction of the site, which was razed by a tornado that swept through the area in April 2019. Plans were developed to rebuild the grass hut and the museum, both of which were destroyed during the devastating weather event.

February

Love was in the air in February when Lovelady held its 40th annual Lovefest celebration and crowned its newest Lovefest Queen.

Crocket Independent School District also celebrated its employees during School Board Appreciation Week, and they also unveiled their new ‘bus barn’ location on the site that formerly housed Ulrich Motors on the corner of Loop 304 and Hwy 19.

During the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, members got a glimpse of some improvements coming to downtown Crockett. Wade Thomas with the Planning and Zoning committee spoke to the group about a proposal, initiated by local business owners to make changes to the zoning of downtown Crockett to help revitalize the local economy.

The Mary Allen Museum held a Founder’s Day Celebration in February.

And “the little kid with the big personality” - “10-year old Devarjaye “DJ” Daniel, was deputized by Houston County Law Enforcement officials, helping to fulfill his dream to be sworn in by a hundred law enforcement agencies as a way to bring awareness to childhood cancer.

March

Houston County suffered a big blow when a tornado ripped through the area, demolishing the businesses in the strip mall just off Loop 304 and South Fourth Street. The devasting event not only brought Governor Greg Abbott to the area, but more importantly, brought the community together as neighbors helped neighbors recover in the aftermath.

April

April 9 was the opening day for Crockett Merchants Youth Baseball, replete with a parade, bake sale, and the season’s first game. Lovelady Youth Baseball and Grapeland Youth Baseball also held their opening days with great support from the communities.

The Family Crisis Center held its Spark a Conversation event to bring awareness to sexual assault.

On April 22-23, the Davy Crockett Classic bicycle race held its fourth annual event in downtown Crockett.

The Houston County Courier, in association with Standing with Crockett and Sam and Ginger Gregg, held a fundraiser for victims of the March tornado. The event “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” took place at Davy Crockett Park.

May

A welcome relief to Crockett residents was the announcement that the city was seeking financing for much-needed street improvements.

May also saw the results of the special election that gave voters the opportunity to vote on some proposed state constitutional amendments and several city council and school board positions that were up for election.

The community gathered for a National Day of Prayer on May 5, led by Rev. Charlana Kelly of the Houston County Ministerial Alliance and other local pastors and church leaders.

Hilliard and Ruth McKnight held their Third Annual Fun Day at Davy Crockett Park. This fun day for kids is a much-anticipated annual event supported by local individuals and organizations.

Houston County and surrounding areas were warned about a fugitive on the loose. Gonzalo Lope, a 46-year-old inmate serving a life sentence escaped during transport. Lope was eventually caught but for a while Houston County residents were on high-alert to stay safe.

Salmon Lake celebrated the 25th anniversary of its annual Gospel Bluegrass Festival on Memorial Day.

Readers were inspired by the story of Lexi Mayo, a rodeo rider who suffered a broken back and was told she’d never ride again. On May 14, Mayo and her horse, Whiskey, made their run at the Crockett Lions Club 60th Annual PRCA Rodeo.

June

June saw some exciting baseball action as the Kennard Tigers clinched the regional championship and advanced to the state tournament. Although the team was bested by the Nazareth Swifts, this was the second straight appearance at state for the Tigers, who finished as state runner-up in 2021.

Crockett celebrated Juneteenth with pageants, parades, programs, and picnics. A’Kedria Delane was crowned Miss Juneteenth 2022.

Davy Crockett Park was also the site for the annual Davy Crockett Music and Arts Festival.

Local teen anglers Boots Burlison and Brady Mikes, the duo known as Boots and Brady, represented Houston County in the National Youth Fishing League tournament held in South Carolina.

Houston County S.H.A.R.E. got a facelift when volunteers from Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston added a porch cover, some needed shelving inside, and a decorative mural to give the building a much-needed renovation.

July

July began on a happy note when residents turned out to celebrate the July 4 holiday with a parade, a cook-out, and a pie-baking contest, and other community activities.

Caddo Mounds began constructing the thatched hut destroyed in the 2019 tornado.

Because of the oppressive summer heat and lack of rain, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell extended the burn ban, which would eventually last well into fall.

August

Lovelady celebrated their sesquicentennial in August with a reception at the Lovelady City Hall. The building was packed with photos and other memorabilia commemorating the town’s history.

Tax rate talks took center stage in August as local city and council boards contemplated their budgets for the upcoming year and debated on whether to reduce, raise, or keep tax rates the same.

And, of course, Back-to-School events were the highlight of community activities as families prepared to send their kids for another year of education.

September

Chili Hodges, Houston County’s Surveyor for more than 50 years was honored by the Texas Historical Commission with a plaque presented by Judge Jim Lovell.

The City of Crockett celebrated it’s first Hispanic Heritage Day with a colorful and food-filled event in the city hall park. The city hall park was also the location of the National Night Out, sponsored by the Crockett Chamber of Commerce.

September also saw the Myrtis Dightman annual rodeo, the 86th Annual Fiddler’s Festival, the reopening of the Mary Allen Museum, and Kennard ISD’s A+ rating in State Accountability for 2021-2022

October

Grapeland celebrated its annual peanut festival, and Emily Hanna was crowned the 2022 Peanut Queen, while the Grapeland Sandies crowned their homecoming queen. Lovelady and Crockett also crowned their homecoming queens in October.

Participants joined in the City of Crockett’s “A Walk for a Cause.” The event was a reminder to everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While kids celebrated Halloween at the trunk-or-treat at the City Hall Park sponsored by local businesses, adults geared up for the upcoming mid-term elections with the 2022 Voter’s Guide.

November

November began with early voting as residents turned out for the mid-term political race. Mike McCreight won the only contested race in Houston County for the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace.

The annual Old Mill Fest was held in Kennard off Hwy 7 and featured workshops, stage performances and plenty of opportunities for jam sessions.

On November 11, the community again took the opportunity to honor our veterans. Several restaurants offered free meals to veterans, schools conducted programs honoring those who served.

The annual holiday season started off in Crockett’s first community Christmas celebration held at the courthouse, followed by the annual Christmas parade sponsored by the Houston County Career Women and Christmas in Crockett held on Saturday on the square.

The Eugene Lockhart Foundation held its annual turkey giveaway at the Porth Ag Arena.

Sports highlights included five Crockett volleyball players who received District 23-3A All-District recognition, while the Lovelady Lions clinched their state playoff game with the Maud Cardinals.

December

During the holiday season, the community showed its generosity of spirit by helping those less fortunate. The community joined together with KIVY radio host Joanne Warner to raise food donations for Houston County SHARE and Quest Academy raked in the pajamas with their annual pajama drive. Two local companies, Nucor and Darling Industries, challenged each other to make matching donations to Houston County SHARE’s Christmas Toy Store, and Ansel Bradshaw and Kathi Calvert hosted the annual Stuff the Bus event to raise monetary and toy donations for the SHARE Christmas Toy Store.

The Bethel Baptist Church provided meals, while Police Chief Clayton Smith and the Crockett Police Department helped distribute the food to homebound residents.

Lonnie Hunt was honored with the “Texas Broadband Hero Award” for advocating for rural broadband. December 17 was declared by the Houston County Commissioners Court as “Eunice Kitchen Day” for her inspiration to the community. Judge Elijah Gossett was honored in a graveside service by the Texas Rangers.

But it wasn’t all good news. The Texas Workforce Commission reported that unemployment was up slightly for the county. And according to a report by the Kaufman Hall health management consulting firm, Texas hospitals are at serious risk for closure – disconcerting news to hear when the Houston County Hospital District was in negotiations with their tenant Dr. Kelly Tjelmeland. Offsetting that, however, was news that the hospital board approved paying off their loan to Prosperity Bank.

The year saw many new businesses open, like Scooter’s Coffee Drive-Thru, Filthy Gringos, High Five Horses, the reopening of Bear Hall, Heavenly Aesthetics, and the Old Crockett Wine Emporium. The Family Life Crisis Center held a ribbon cutting for its new location at 1512 E. Loop 304 in Crockett.

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