By Fernando Castro
There was the drought, of course, but when you look deeper at 2011, it was a year of great milestones along with great stories of achievement.
The Texas Mushroom Festival turned 10 years old, and events like the Glover Family Rodeo and the Madisonville High School Homecoming Parade and Carnival came back for the first time in years.
Young people won national championships, new events entertained, and events focused on faith and family continued to be paramount in Madison County.
Following is a compilation of our top news stories of 2011. Here’s to a wonderful 2011, and an even better 2012!
Jan. 1 – Dan Douget retired as Madison County sheriff.
Jan. 10 – Madison County Judge Art Henson issued a 90-day burn ban during commissioners court that extended an ongoing ban.
Jan. 10 – Keith Smith, superintendent at Madisonville CISD, was given a one-year contract extension.
Jan. 18 – Sunny Clouser was elected the new president of the Texas Mushroom Festival. Rev. Mike Barone stayed on the board as a past president.
Jan. 18 - Madisonville senior Corrine Brassel signed a National Letter of Intent to play softball at Navarro College at the Madisonville CISD administration building.
Jan. 24 – The burn ban in Madison County was lifted.
Jan. 31 – Midway’s city council approved an ordinance that effectively bans outdoor burning in the city at times when a Madison County burn ban is ongoing.
Obituaries – Billy Rand Presley, Nawvis Mathis, Vera Lee “Bobbie” Jones, Jacob Aaron Harry, Wilson Glenn “Steve” Stephenson, Willie Vaye (Senesac) Rivers, Inez May, Lettie Pearl (Hopkins) Stegall Bolding, Cecil Karr, Wyvonne Davis McCloud, Clyde N. Copeland, Herbert A. Stewart Sr., Ronald “Ronnie” Eugene Jackson, Luther Lois Adams.
Feb. 1 – Travis Neeley took over as Madison County sheriff, a post he held from 1988-97.
Feb. 2 – Fire broke out at Madisonville Mayor Terri Creel’s house in the early morning hours. Madisonville Fire Chief Thom Jones said a breaker box shorted out and burned through the wall. There were no injuries.
Feb. 2 – John Davis, a Republican candidate for president of the United States, stopped in Madisonville during a campaign stop.
Feb. 4 – Approximately 1-2 inches of snow in Madison County was recorded by the National Weather Service. School was canceled at both Madison County districts.
Feb. 9 – Wanda Herrera, a Madisonville resident, celebrated her retirement of 23 years as a clerk for the Texas Department of State Health Services during a celebration at the Woodbine Hotel & Restaurant.
Feb. 14 – County commissioners issued another 90-day burn ban for Madison County.
Feb. 14 – Madisonville’s city council approved a three-strikes ordinance for dogs in the city. Under an ordinance, a resident with what is deemed a violent or problematic dog is given a warning on a first offense, followed by a fine and removal on the third time.
Obituaries – Donald Hogue, Selma Frieda (Wiese) Strutz, Larry Brown, Joe Bob Warren, Mary Sue Wallin, Nathan Allen Garrison, Patricia Louise Parten, Phyllis Jane Parker
March 8 – The Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Madisonville Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Brazos County Special Crimes Unit executed a search warrant on Magnolia Street in Madisonville that resulted in a drug bust. Daniel Saunders was arrested and charged with possession and delivery of a controlled substance. Authorities discovered 10 grams of methamphetamine and three grams of marijuana in Saunders’ home.
March 14 – Madisonville’s city council instituted a burn ban for the city to coincide with any burn ban issued by Madison County.
March 19 – In Madisonville’s second drug bust in two weeks, the MPD and Madison County Sheriff’s Department joined DPS and the Madison County District Attorney’s office in a search warrant execution on Memorial Street. Large quantities of suspected narcotics and money were found. Rochelle Wheaton and Gay Johnson were taken into custody and placed under arrest. Wheaton was charged with manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, while Johnson was charged with possession of marijuana.
March 13 – Dan Kleiner joined The Madisonville Meteor as its new publisher.
March 18 – The Madison County Fair began with its annual CPRA rodeo. The Fair lasted until March 26.
March 22 – Rebecca Lazenby was crowned 2011 Madison County Fair Queen at the Madison County Fairgrounds.
Obituaries – Billy Joe Wells, Dennis Ray Tunstall, Doris A. Jakobeit, Jennifer Lynn Counsil, Mary Wilberta Edwards, Donald Ray Lotts, Delore Jean Stapleton, Edward “Ed” Wilson, Alma Rogers Wooderson, Billie Jene Duncan, Stephan Strauss, Robert Lee Hazlett Jr., Helen Marie Tinkle, Margaret Evelyn (Walker) Woodside, Ramon Aldava, Mildred Eaves, Erin Erle Ivie, Mary Evelyn Manning, Mary Catherine Whitmire, John Wiley White.
April 9 – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church’s parish hall was burglarized with $200 stolen in addition to damages. The names of the suspects were not released since they were minors.
April 9 – Madisonville Little League opened up the 2011 season.
April 23 – A safe in Midway’s Post Office was pulled out of the building causing approximately $10,000-20,000 in damage. There were no suspects at the time.
April 25 – Ruth Closs retired as municipal judge and justice of the peace for Madison County.
April 26 – Lew Plotts was sworn in as Madisonville’s new municipal judge.
April 29 – Madison County Relay for Life’s all-night event took place at Madisonville CISD’s football stadium.
Obituraries – Paula Elayne McKnight Reed, Van Hulon Rigby, Bennie Albert Souther, W.T. Middleton, Sally Ann “Burtis” Lindsey, Carmen Jett, John Franklin Clifton Sr., Garvin Feral Shiflet, Willie Joe Lucas, Mary Frances “Jackson” McVey, Buster Gayle Reid, Alma Pauline Klenk Hilburn, Katheryn (Dew) Berry Andrews, Campbell Stell Moore, J.M. Steward.
May 7 – The Madisonville Sidewalk Cattlemens Association had its 71st Annual Steak Dinner & Dance.
May 7 – The Glover Family Rodeo took place at the Madison County Fairgrounds for the second time since 1999.
May 11 – The Harlem Wizards, an entertainment basketball team, played against Madisonville Fellowship of Christian Athletes players in an FCA fundraising game.
May 14 – Russell Bailey, Lois Brown and Debra Drake were re-elected to two-year terms on the Madisonville city council.
May 23 – County commissioners lifted the burn ban on Madison County.
Obituaries – Louise Orr, Wilbert Harrison Jr., Early Ray McVey, David Bryan Bates, Gerald Alan Wakefield, Dalton Estus Guice, Deacon Lamar Jefferson, Morris Lamb Jonas, Doris Lavenia Lewis, Clyde C. Moore, Patricia Jean Newton.
June 2 – Madisonville High School’s seniors took part in commencement ceremonies in Mustang Gym as the class of 2011.
June 4 – Seniors from North Zulch High School walked the stage inside their high school gym as they received their diplomas graduating from NZISD.
June 11 – R5WaterX Racing had personal watercraft races at Lake Madison.
June 13 – County commissioners issued another 90-day burn ban for Madison County.
June 18 – Midway resident Salvador Anthony Commiato was shot twice in his home. The shooter was allegedly Joseph Tubb. According to witness reports, Commiato pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at Tubb and April Wallis before Commiato was shot with a .38-calibur pistol. Commiato survived the incident, and the case was investigated by the Madison County District Attorney’s Office.
June 19 – Fires began to plague the area, including a fire near Crabbs Prairie that was nearing Madison County. The Madisonville Volunteer Fire Department and other VFDs assisted in battling the blaze.
June 25 – Midway’s Volunteer Fire Department had its annual fish fry and outdoor concert on the grounds south of the fire station.
June 29 – Jody Butler left his post as Madisonville’s city manager after resigning earlier in the month to pursue a position in the city government of Cleburne.
Obituaries – Naomi Johnston, Ella Faye (Ward) Horton, Billie Alexandra “Alix” Hargrave, Jere Stone Lemmer, Joe Ann Huff, Marco Antonio Saldana, William Edwin Mitchell, Clarence Noble Thomas, Shirley Diane Mosley, Ethel (Jeffries) Davidson, Louise Donelson Hayes, Ruby Briscoe, Dannea Kay Ervi, Patricia Jean Goldman.
July 9 – Christopher Toby Smith turned himself over to authorities at Wes Hammit’s law office. He was wanted on three counts of burglary, including at the Monterey Mushroom plant.
July 23 – Heather Hassler won the National High School Rodeo Finals in Gillett, Wyo.
July 25 – Daniel Singletary was selected as Madisonville’s city manager.
Obituaries – Jim Alfred Lenox, Patricia Ann Marders Blasingame, Floyd Adams Jr., Patricia Mae Todd, Marjorie Baldwin Crouch, Donald Lee McWhorter, Malissia Louistene Kizzee, Edna Rustenbach Fuchs, Thomas T. Shipp, Bobbie Wilson.
Aug. 9 – Gary Clendennen submitted his resignation as chief of the Madisonville Police Department.
Aug. 9 – Christi Campbell announced her resignation as executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Aug. 13 – Kyle M. Farris won a world championship and intermediate champion title at the 2011 Built Ford Tough American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City.
Aug. 26 – A six-inch water main burst on S.H. 21 near Brookshire Brothers. Water service was interrupted at several buildings throughout the area, including at Madisonville High School’s football stadium prior to the start of the varsity football season. The main break was fixed prior to kickoff.
Aug. 29 – County precincts were redistricted near the center of Madisonville.
Obituaries – Norton Roger Bruins, Clara Verna Busa Wenzel, Dorothy Marie Mabry, Ervin Smith, Shirley Annette Engle, John Howard O’Dell, Billie Denman, Stella Betty Ford Morgan, Janell Duncan Dean, Barbara Jean Scroggins, William J. “Bill” Horton, Ercel Lee Phillips, Nick Steven Smith, Evelyn Marguerite Luthringer, Janie “Madole” Standley, Rodger Dale Broxton, Chester R. Blackwell, Betty Jo Lynch Ulbricht, Robert Arthur Dunn, Mary Ann Collette Bledsoe, Ruth Trichel.
Sept. 6 – Fires were continuing around Madison County as volunteer fire departments from Madisonville, North Zulch and Midway helped in the efforts to extinguish the flames.
Sept. 13 – Chuck May was announced as the chief of the Madisonville Police Department. May had been chief of Madisonville CISD’s police unit.
Sept. 13 – A 600-acre fire burned on Scales Ranch Road and F.M. 1696. Madisonville, Bedias, Midway and other volunteer fire departments assisted on the scene.
Sept. 14 – MPD seized approximately $34,000 as well as a 9mm pistol, drug paraphernalia, suspected methamphetamine and a locked bank bag during a traffic stop on I-45 at the 142-mile marker for speeding. The driver was arrested for unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of a controlled substance. The passenger was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
Sept. 15 – Ernest Kennesy was shot at about 4:30 p.m. on S.H. 21 in North Zulch by Billy Joe Stowe with a shotgun filled with buckshot, according to Madison County Sheriff Travis Neeley. The sheriff added that the incident apparently started when Stowe found Kennesy’s dogs digging up Stowe’s garden, and an argument escalated into a shooting. Kennessy was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan and later released. Stowe was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Sept. 26 – Misti Douga took over as executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Sept. 30 – U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady visited Madison County to talk with local leaders regarding issues in what was potentially a new area in his district due to redistricting from the Texas Legislature.
Obituaries – Jim “Kenneth” Shoemaker, Doris Fields, James Neeley, Terence Leon Dreher, Tula Marie Taylor Lee, Royce Lee “Dog Iron” Malone, Sandra Ivy, Leiya Jones, John Bradburn, Frank Lee Wendel, S.J. Dorman, Willie Dot Isbell, Verlan Pegues, Everett Barnes “Snooky” Evans, Jean Dyches, John Ashabranner, Lucille Bates, Calvin Delanor Clute, Bobbie Glenn Foreman, Linda Darnell McCorkle, Lifford S. Luthringer, Paul Allen Lyons, Stanley Dale Plaster, Molena Jones Parker.
Oct. 7 – Madisonville CISD’s Homecoming Week culminated with a varsity football game at Mustang Stadium. At halftime, Kelsey McDougald and Esteban Torres were crowned homecoming queen and king.
Oct. 21 – The 10th annual Texas Mushroom Festival started with a gala dinner outside the Woodbine Hotel & Restaurant.
Oct. 31 – Businesses on and around The Square in Madisonville hosted trick-or-treaters in the afternoon for Halloween.
Obituaries – Bill Wickersham, Mary Ann Blackmon, Leona Deal, Freddie Morris Windsor, Ralph Nolan Wren, Leonard Laskowski, Vera Martin, Betty Jane Stepherson, Nell Campbell Davis, Armatha “Granny” Houston, Lela M. Fulmer Barron, Larry Gene Rice, Ouida Standley Tarpley, Otha Lee Davis, Clarence Edward “Peanut” Thomas, Joshua Jarvis, Mark Lee Ervi, Betty Martin, Willie Earl Jackson, Thelma Ann Parson.
Nov. 4 – A Grimes County jury found Jerwoody Moler guilty of the murder of former Madisonville High School student K’Lynn Kohr. Kohr was killed on Labor Day in 2010 in Huntsville.
Nov. 8 – Election Day took place in Madison County. While no positions were on the ballot, 10 state amendments were up for a vote.
Nov. 15 – Madisonville High School senior Griffin Knight signed with Auburn University on a scholarship to compete on the college’s NCAA equestrian team.
Nov. 19 – Homecoming Week festivities at North Zulch ISD culminated with varsity basketball games. Cole Ballard and Harleigh Wilcox and were named homecoming king and queen for 2011. Garrett Wiggins and Karlee Wiliams were named Tiny Mr. and Mrs. North Zulch.
Nov. 28 – County commissioners lifted the burn ban in Madison County.
Obituaries – Alta Faye McElroy, Kenneth Hamilton, Carlos Guadlaupe Ramos Jr., Kenneth Harold Potter, Amiline Richardson, Michael Floy Rice II, Edward Wayne Berrier, William “Bill” Ross Dyer, Juan Martinez, Lewis Howard DeFore, Maggie Viola Driver, Glenna Nell Smith, Albert Eugene Welch, Joseph Howard Swanner.
Dec. 3 – The annual Madison County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade took place in downtown Madisonville. Madisonville Christian Fellowship won the first-place float award.
Dec. 3 – Madisonville FFA’s agricultural issues team won the FFA state championship for their event. The overall performance of all of Madisonville FFA’s state-qualifying teams earned the program a runner-up award for state sweepstakes honors.
Dec. 7 – Pathway of Light, a live re-enactment of moments in the life of Jesus Christ, returned to Madisonville.
Dec. 17 – Madisonville’s House of Hope celebrated its second graduation ceremony at Madisonville High School. Honored graduates included Mike Yoder, Josh Wright and Colton Marks.
Obituaries – Gertie Bradford, Katherine Lee Goodson, Carroll Gene Murff, Barbara L. Brown, Mary Beth Bethke, Jerry Carter, Lois Anne Everitt, Lella Mae Evans, Debbie Goldstein, Johnny Ree Lotts, Sibyl Eaves Layfield, Vera Sue Montgomery.