Bulletin Staff Report

It’s the year few Americans will want to revisit, and a year that for many will be difficult to forget – generally for the wrong reasons.

But a new year has dawned across the land – 2010 – and with the new calendar comes a psychological fresh start that many have been anticipating.

Despite the negatives that history will record for the old year, 2009 was not totally without its upside. Sprinked in among the bad news were reports of progress, completion of projects long under way and the start of other initiatives that hold the promise of brighter days to come – this year and beyond.

Here’s a brief look back at some of the events that made news in Brown County during the past 12 months. The dates shown are when stories or photographs were reported in the Brownwood Bulletin, not necessarily the date on which the events occurred.


Jan. 7 – Construction begins on Zephyr’s football and track athletic complex funded by a four-phase, $4.35 million bond issue approved in November 2007.

Jan. 8 – Goody’s announces plans to close all stores by March, including Brownwood’s Commerce Square location.

Jan. 11 – Stephanie Dodd is named Brown County Fair Association queen on the final day of the Brown County Youth Fair.

Jan. 14 – The Brownwood school board is told of numerous achievements of schools, including its first Recognized Accountability Rating from TEA.

Jan. 16 – State officials announce that the Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Complex will lose 19 employees as the Texas Youth Commission eliminates 430 positions statewide.

Jan. 17 – Granbury man kills himself in an Early motel as federal marshals and local law enforcement move in to serve a warrant on fraud.

Jan. 23 – The City of Brownwood announces it has been selected to receive a $500,000 Texas Parks and Wildlife grant for the recreational complex at Camp Bowie.

Jan. 27- Aimee Riza, serving a 28-year sentence for murder in the Alvarado traffic death of her infant daughter, is sentenced to eight years in Brown County for theft of more than $41,000 from the Brownwood store she managed.


Feb. 4 – Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce members join civic leaders in visiting state officials in Austin.

Feb. 12 – Winds in excess of 60 mph leave a path of damage across Brown County.

Feb. 18 – Bangs school board votes to close school-based health clinic after an audit showed the district would shoulder approximately $40,000 to keep it it operation.


March 6 – Texas Country Reporter cameras film report on Odus and Orus Stokes, Brownwood’s ageless twin auto repairmen.

March 7 – Eleven women are charged with theft of $8,500 in clothing over a three-month period from Heartland Mall stores.

March 17 – First phase of Brownwood High School’s laptop initiative to put a computer in the hands of each student is approved by the school board.

March 19 – Sisters Paige and Nicole Hunter are featured in USA Network’s “American Character: A Photographic Journey” book, art exhibit and broadcast campaign, after Brownwood native Eric McNatt, a New York photographer, was chosen to be one of several to create the works.


April 10 – J. Fred Perry receives the Groner Pitts Lifetime Achievement Award at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce banquet, joining Stuart Coleman and Putter Jarvis in the list of recipients.

April 15 – Kohler’s plans to invest $7.7 million in building improvements, machinery and equipment are announced.

April 18 – Brownwood High School security procedures are hailed after a student brings a weapon to campus and then takes it to the courthouse on a truancy matter. School officials warned the court, where lawmen confiscated the weapon.

April 26 – Charles Lowe urges renewed effort on the Hardin School restoration and Hardin Museum project as he is honored with the Willie Lee Gay Legends Award at the museum’s annual banquet.

April 30 – Concerns over the spread of swine flu prompt the Texas UIL to postpone or cancel numerous end-of-semester competitive events for local schools.


May 4 – Open house is held at the renovated Brownwood High School and all other district facilities, capping the work done through the $29.4 million bond issue approved in 2005.

May 9 – A violent storm leaves extensive damage to property in Brownwood and Brown County, including hundreds of docks at Lake Brownwood, prompting the closing of the lake and later leading to changes in dock construction requirements.

May 10 – Martin Molotsky unseats Steve Whittenberg as mayor of Bangs in municipal elections.

May 12 – Jesus Martinez, fourth-grader at Mullin, has his art work featured in the April 30 Alley Oop comic strip syndicated nationally.

May 12 – Explosion destroys the home of Marvin and Katie McKenzie at Lake Brownwood, while they were away.

May 14 – Dr. Matthew Houseal, Army reservist from Amarillo who had been a contract psychiatrist with the MHMR center here, killed in action in Iraq.

May 18 – Courtney Butler, daughter of Early resident Mike Butler, posthumously awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for her actions to try to save a drowning teenager in Puluxy River in Glen Rose in 2007.

May 22 – Lake Brownwood reopens for Memorial Day use after a May 8 storm left debris in the waters.

May 27 – Reception held for Lanny and Carol Hall as he leaves the presidency of Howard Payne University to become president of Hardin-Simmons University.

May 29 – Community remembers the 100th anniversary of the Zephyr Cyclone that killed some three dozen of the community’s 500 residents in 1909.


June 11 – Brown County Jail trusty Mark Rhoads, who had escaped custody several days earlier, is captured in the Lawton, Okla., area

June 21 – The 21st Cavalry Brigade for Fort Hood “adopts” Brownwood High School.

June 24 – Brownwood City Council approves tax incentives of $267,000 as Bealls announced plans to move to Commerce Square from Heartland Mall in mid-2010.


July 1 – Enhanced security measures at the Brown County Courthouse, including metal detectors at its entrance, are placed in operation.

July 14 – School officials announce that laptops will be put in the hands of Brownwood Middle School students next year thanks to a Texas Education Agency Vision 2020 grant of $500,000 being announced.

July 15 – Tim Jacobs is named to serve as trustee from District 7 of the Brownwood school district, succeeding Mark Bradshaw who moved to Fort Worth.

July 18 – Ranger College president Bill Campion says at a reception hosted by city officials that the goal of the institution is to have a freestanding facility in Brown County. The college opened classes at Heartland Mall in the fall.

July 28 – Dr. Bill Ellis, provost and chief academic officer at Hardin-Simmons University, is named president of Howard Payne University.


Aug. 4 – Jessie McCord pleads guilty to the murder of his ex-wife in Bangs. More than a week later, a jury sentenced him to life in prison.

Aug. 21 – Brownwood Regional Medical Center celebrates 40th birthday with a reception and program at the hospital.

Aug. 28 – Chance Barr of Barr Fabrication is named president of Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas in Abilene.

Aug. 29 – Brownwood Lion Josh Hernandez, who was injured in a car wreck in May, is presented with a four-wheeler in an emotional ceremony at the opening football game of the season.

Aug. 31 – Brownwood High School wins four of six possible state awards for construction and the decision-making process as a result of its bond-issue funded renovation.


Sept. 3 – After serving Brown County since the 1950s, Brownwood Television Cable Service announced it was closing the business.

Sept. 4 – Congressman Mike Conaway and a packed house at Brownwood High School’s auditorium discuss health care reform in a town hall meeting. Conaway says the current proposal should be allowed to fail and then Congress should start over.

Sept. 4 – Brownwood, Brown County and water District officials discuss concerns that FEMA will raise the flood plain around Lake Brownwood higher than 1,435 above sea level that serves as the dam’s water storage easement, which would create problems with development plans at the lake and downstream. The entities hired a hydrologist to provide supported data.

Sept. 16 – Brownwood High named Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Sept. 23 - Bids from The Fain Group for an aquatic center in Camp Bowie and renovation of the Coliseum Annex for a senior citizens center are approved by city council – in the amounts of $1.67 million and $627,865, respectively.

Sept. 23 – Brownwood High School students begin taking delivery of Apple computers supplied by the district.


Sept. 24 – Early city officials dedicate the city’s fire and utilities building.

Oct. 3 – Jeffery Day, a Brownwood High senior, is named Commended Student in the National Merit Scholars program.

Oct. 3 – Don and Debbie Morelock of Star of Texas B&B elected as Innkeeper of the Year in the U.S. in the Best of BedandBreakfast.com awards.

Oct. 13 – After minor adjustments, contractors erect the signal bridge over Early Boulevard and the Cisco Highway intersection (U.S. Highways 67-84-183 and 377) as the yearlong project to improve the major thoroughfare nears a conclusion.

Oct. 14 – “Small Town Livin’, Big Town Pride” selected the new tag line for Early as the chamber of commerce presents its annual awards. Bill King, who served as one of the first presidents of the chamber when it was founded 30 years ago, was honored with the lifetime achievement award. Helen Tatum was named citizen of the year.

Oct. 22 – Up to $400,000 in economic development incentives are approved for the 3M Co. plant by the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation, action that is ratified in November by city council.

Oct. 23 – Restoration of the historic Lyric Theatre gets under way downtown.

Oct. 28 – Brownwood City Council denies a club owner’s request for later hours to help offset problems created by a slow economy. Law enforcement officials said while the owner operates a good business, other clubs would also have the same hours.


Nov. 11 – Brownwood City Council approved a $155,000 financial incentive to Ranger College on a split vote, broken by the mayor.

Nov. 12 – Members of Southside Church take on sponsorship of the Lighted Christmas Parade after the Brownwood Jaycees determine they will be unable to handle it after decades of service to the community. Dozens of school students and volunteers help create Christmas decorations to be used for the community’s celebration, which includes the first Christmas Under the Stars Festival that opened immediately after the parade.

Nov. 27 – Brownwood Regional Medical Center receives the Texas Workforce Commission 2009 Employer Award for Excellence.

Nov. 28 – Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correctional Complex gets top marks in audit against standards set by the American Correctional Association.


Dec. 10 – “Wine Enthusiast” magazine honors The Turtle restaurant in Brownwood with its Award of Distinction.

Dec. 12 – Brownwood resident Randall Philen charged with murder in the shooting death of his brother.

Dec. 18 – Woodland Heights Elementary School Principal Bob Turner announces his retirement.

Dec. 20 – Brownwood Economic Development Corporation officials say they can see positives in local and state employment data going into the new year.

Dec. 25 – Brown County residents are delighted, although perhaps a bit inconvenienced, by 2-3 inches of snow on Christmas Eve. The storm brings the first white Christmas Brownwood has seen in decades. Another lesser snow falls five days later.

Dec. 26 – More than 250 are served at the first Christmas dinner provided by the Brownwood Salvation Army Service Center, a meal designed to feed residents who are alone or hungry on Christmas Day. Those attending are assisted by approximately 50 volunteers.