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Year in Review

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Headline stories of 2006
Jan. 5, 2006
Ellis County experiences wave of grass fires

More than 300 homes in Texas had reportedly burned in recent days from blazes originating as grass fires. Extended burn bans have been in affect since the 2005 summer.

Jan. 12, 2006
Bristol man charged with deadly conduct

Otis Ray Green, 25 of Bristol was charged with two counts of deadly conduct and one count of evading detention after a shooting Jan. 3 in front of a residence off Farm to Market Road 660 near Wickliffe Road between Ferris and Bristol. No one was shot, but a bullet did hit the home according to sheriff deputies.

Jan. 19, 2006
Palmer city administrator resigns

Palmer City Council met in a special-called meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 17 to address the resignation of City Administrator Stephen Sparks. He formally resigned after submitting a handwritten letter to the Mayor Don Huskins on Jan. 5. Sparks began working for the City of Palmer as their police chief in 1998.

Jan. 28, 2006
Woman dies after hitting train

Imogene Raney, 81, of Ferris died as a result of injuries she sustained when the 2002 black Chrysler PT Cruiser she was riding in collided with a freight train about 3 p.m. Wed., Jan. 18 at the Seventh Street crossing near Central Avenue.

Feb. 2, 2006
The ECP, Wilmer mayor, others prevail in lawsuit

A Dallas County jury found no grounds for awarding monetary damages to former Wilmer Mayor Linda Root and her husband James Root after they filed a lawsuit claiming they were portrayed in a negative light. The lawsuit pitted the Roots against The Ellis County Press, former The ECP reporter Joey Dauben, current Wilmer Mayor Don Hudson and his wife Diane, Wilmer Building Official Stephen King and Wilmer resident Connie Bain.

Feb. 9, 2006
City attorney to begin negotiations in officer's lawsuit against the city

Following a closed executive session, Ferris City Attorney David Dodd was given permission to begin negotiations and consider an offer of settlement after several former and current police officers and dispatchers sued the city claiming they had not been paid for overtime worked from 2001 to 2004.

Feb. 16, 2006
Garrett declines to change name

Garrett City Council members decided they liked the name of their small town located just north of Ennis. Dallas radio talk show personality Russ Martin had offered to buy the police department a vehicle in exchange for renaming the town after him.

Feb. 23, 2006
Knize denies supporting pedophile

District Court Judge Gene Knize wrote a letter of recommendation dated May 14, 1992 for Rudolph 'Rudy' Kos, a catholic priest. Kos was later convicted as a child-sex offender.

March 2, 2006
Altman challenges judge in race deemed ‘dirty politics'

The mud flew during the primary race for the 40th District Court as Dan Altman took on incumbent District Judge Gene Knize. The incumbent won the primary and was unopposed during November's general election.

March 9, 2006
Most officials retain seats

Voters spoke. Most elected officials won their slots in this year's primary race. Greg Wilhelm defeated longtime Ellis County Treasurer Ron Langenheder during the March primaries.

March 16, 2006
Former Ferris councilman and leader dies
T.B. 'Tip' Riley, 82, passed away Sunday, March 12. He served two terms on the Ferris City Council from May 1995 to 1999, serving as mayor pro-tem from 1996 to 1997. While not a native of Ferris, Riley moved his family here in 1964.

March 23, 2006
Tax revenue up

Local sales tax allocations were up 16.6 percent compared to the fire three months of 2005. County sales tax allocations are 17.8 percent higher than last year.

March 30, 2006
Glenn Heights woman dies

The body of Christina Capata Garcia, 31, was discovered shortly after noon Wednesday, March 22 inside a mobile home in the 1500 block of Honey Trail after firefighters responded to a fire.

April 6, 2006
Protesting students punished

Ennis school district officials suspended 99 students for three days from all extracurricular activities, including the Senior Prom, after they ditched class to march in support of an immigration bill being considered by Congress.

April 13, 2006
FAA investigating forced landing

The Federal Aviation Administration investigated the forced landing of a single-engine plane about 12:45 p.m. Monday, April 10 near Willow Run Road in the Glenn Heights area. Piloted by a lone female pulling a banner reading 'U.S.A.: Love it or Leave It.'

April 20, 2006
Local lawyer given 10 years probation for sexual assault

As terms of a plea agreement Waxahachie attorney James Leonard was given a 10-year probated sentence and six months in county jail for three felony sexual assault charges.
Midlothian cop killer denied parole

Parole was recently denied for Greg Knighten, the convicted killer of George Raffield Jr., a Midlothian narcotics officer killed in 1987. Knighten was sentenced to 45 for the killing, which he committed as a 16-year-old. He could be eligible for parole again in 2008.

April 27, 2006
Student drowns during school sponsored trip

Waxahachie High School senior Jesus Hernandez, 18, drowned during a school sponsored trip to the Lakeview Camp and Conference Center. After playing with some friends Hernandez went under water and it took rescuers about an hour to find his body.

May 4, 2006
Intermodal pushes Wilmer growth

With 10,000 acres available for commercial development Wilmer has become a developer's dream since the Union Pacific Railport was opened late last summer. In recent months, three developers have bought almost 7,000 acres planning to turn them into distributions center to serve Fortune 500 companies like Wal-Mart, Target and others.

May 11, 2006
Illegal stabs self during drug bust

An undocumented immigrant, 52-year-old Oscar Cantu Fierro, stabbed himself after being pulled over by Dallas County Sheriff Deputies for a traffic stop on southbound Interstate 45. Jose Eduardo Rodri-quez, 21, was arrested when three pounds of marijuana were found in the Ponitac Grand Am he was driving.

May 18, 2006
Palmer 17-year-old killed in crash

After riding in the car with her boyfriend, 17-year-old Amanda Beazel of Palmer was killed May 10 when the car collided with a tree along Malloy Bridge Road.

May 25, 2006
Waste Management builds power plant

Waste Management, a landfill company in Ferris is building a 7,500 square foot power plant capable of converting landfill gas into electricity. The $8 million plant was expected to the operational within the next few weeks. It will take methane gas from underneath the soil and turn it into usable energy.

June 1, 2006
Women held for kidnapping baby

Annettee Betts Bryant, 47 of Midlothian and Sylvia Wilson-Hardman, 53 of Compton, Calif. were extradited back to California from Waxa-hachie's Wayne McCollum Detention Center after kidnapping a six-week old baby boy from his birth mother in Los Angeles.

June 8, 2006
I-45 fatality caused by escaped donkey

A runaway donkey caused the death of one man and backed up traffic for miles on southbound Interstate 45 in Ennis after two tractor trailers collided as one rear-ended the other.

June 15, 2006
Soldiers injured, two killed in Iraq

U.S. Marine Cpl. Roy Van-Wey of Bristol was burned over most of his body when the Humvee he was riding in as was attacked as he patrolled the streets of Iraq. Upon arriving stateside he was transferred to the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio to begin his long road to recovery. Other American soldiers from Ellis County have not been so lucky. Army Specialist Aaron P. Latimer of Ennis was killed May 9 in Mosul, Iraq, less than a month from his 27th birthday. Ennis resident Kyle Nolen leaves behind a five month old daughter, three year old son and wife. Nolen was a Navy corpsman serving in Iraq. He graduated from Ennis High School in 2003. Army Spec. Aaron Lee Preston, 29 died 11:45 p.m. Dec. 25 in Baghdad while defusing a bomb. Preston was from Preston Hollow, but had family in Midlothian.

June 22, 2006
Italy police chief, other officers fired

Italy Police Chief Shauna Miller, Lt. Mark Smith and Officer Jay Palmer were fired after an audit of the department's procedures found some discrepancies. 'In all honestly it wasn't one thing related to the audit,' City Administrator Cynthia Olguin said, stating it was a multitude of factors.

June 29, 2006
Cop indicted on child sex charges

Sr. Cpl. Joe Ramos, was a member of Dallas' finest for nine years until being fire shortly after the indictment. Ramos, a Waxahachie resident, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by contact for offenses occurring in two separate incidents in October 2005 and March 2006.

July 6, 2006
Wilmer-Hutchins ISD is gone

Plagued by years of mismanagement the Wil-mer-Hutchins Independent School District shut their doors for the last time June 30. All the WHISD children were moved into the Dallas Independent School District.

July 13, 2006
Ellis County residents say no to Trans-Texas Corridor

Several residents made their opinions known at two public hearings hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation and several Ellis County commissioners meetings that they were not pleased with plans to run a toll-road through the county. Under the state law homeowners could lose their homes and land through eminent domain.

July 20, 2006
County demands fire hydrant before construction

Salvador Chavez was told by county commissioners he would have to install a fire hydrant at the corner of Jones and Andrews Road in Bristol before being issued a construction permit to build his dream home. He had bought two acres of land in May, but commissioners said because it was less than 10 acres a fire hydrant would be needed. It was estimated to cost more than $100,000 to hook up a hydrant to the nearest six-inch water line. After much debate and public outcry county commissioners finally granted Chavez a variance allowing him to get a building permit. They also changed the hydrant rules so residents with a three-inch water line or less would not need a fire hydrant and residents with lines three to six inches would only need a water value.

July 27, 2006
Burnett gets seven year for altering inspection sticker

Former Ferris City Councilman Victor Burnett was found guilty of a third-degree felony tampering with an inspection sticker and sentenced to seven years in prison following a trial in the 40th District Court. Burnett claimed he was being harassed for being an outspoken advocate for average citizens. The same week the Ellis County District Attorney's office accepted a plea bargain from a 30-year-old woman charged with two accounts of sexual assault of a child. Renee Deguzman plead guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old neighbor. She was sentenced to five years in state prison.

Aug. 3, 2006
Former county clerk employee investigated

The Ellis County District Attorney's office was investigating a former county clerk employee for embezzlement. The employee, whose name was not released, handled Ellis County Court at Law No. 2 cases after they had been plead. County Clerk Cindy Polley said the employee was fired the day after irregularities were brought to her attention.

Aug. 10, 2006
Public works director punches employee's husband, then resigns

Red Oak Public Works Director Charles Bertrand resigned after having a physical altercation with an employee's husband. Bertrand had been previously accused of harassment and sexual harassment by two previous employees.

SSC site sold
After years of being on the selling block the Superconducting Super Collider was finally sold to Collider Data Center of Dallas for $6.5 million.

Aug. 17, 2006
ECSO investigates ‘discrepancy' in Bristol Fire Department funds Checks totaling $7,486.88 made out to a former Bristol Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Compton were under review after other board members noticed some discrepancies in the department's bank account. Ellis County Sheriff officials began an investigation but would not comment.

Aug. 24, 2006
Midlothian shooting wounds four

Three Midlothian police officers and a Texas Highway Patrol Trooper were injured after responding to mischief call regarding a broken window at a Midlothian apartment complex. Midlothian officers Dustin Compton, Cody McKinney, Sgt. Brian Woolery and Trooper Rick Smith all recovered from their injuries. The suspect, Richard Wayne Miles, 25, was later found dead in his apartment after holding law enforcement officers at bay for several hours.

County receives national award
Ellis County was one of only three counties to receive the County Courthouse Award for the way county's child protective services court cases are handled. Later in the year the county announced they would be holding an essay contest to award a $4,000 grant and two $500 grants to area students.

Aug. 31, 2006
Glenn Heights Councilman jailed for shooting

Glenn Heights Councilman Tony Ray Brown remains in Dallas' Lew Sterrett Jail after being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Brown, 47 was visiting some friends at their Dallas apartment when he shot another man in the face.

Sept. 7, 2006
Court votes itself a $10,000 raise

Ellis County commissioners and Ellis County Judge voted to give themselves and other elected officials a $10,000 pay raise. In total 20 county employees received a raise. County Commissioner, pct. 3, Heath Sims was the lone vote against the raise stating raises should be given on merit. Other commissioners said the pay raise was necessary to bring them into line with other neighboring counties.

Homeowners continue to fight Midlothian annexation
Midlothian city officials were looking to expand their city limits by annexing 1,236 acres. Residents opposed to the annexation have vowed to fight city hall and formed a political action group, Rural Citizens Against Annexation.

Sept. 14, 2006
Reagor Springs woman found dead

The body of 81-year-old Doris Phillips of Reagor Springs was found less than seven miles from her home. Phillips had been missing since July 25. A former family friend, Miguel Arciba, 49, was arrested on aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges after leading sheriff deputies to Phillips' body. He is still being held in the Wayne McCollum Detention Center awaiting trial.

Sept. 21, 2006
Midlothian homeowners sue city

The Ratzmans and Browns of Midlothian filed a lawsuit against the City of Midlothian stating despite paying property taxes the public road leading to their homes was not being properly maintained. Midlothian Deputy City Manager Don Hastings said the city had been maintaining the road up to a point. Hastings said the portion of roadway in question was a private road and not required to be publicly maintained by the city.

Sept. 28, 2006
High school football players recovering

Midlothian High School junior Patrick 'Ryan' Looney broke his neck during a football game on Sept. 21. He was flown to Methodist Medical Center in Dallas where he underwent a successful neck surgery the next day. Looney was finally released from the hospital the day after Thanksgiving. Waxahachie High School freshman Cory Wallace suffered a loss of feeling on the right side of this body after morning football practice on Sept. 19.

Oct. 5, 2006
Ferris chase ends in shoot-out

An unidentified 38-year-old man was transported to Parkland Hospital after leading Ferris police officers and Ellis County Sheriff Deputies on a high-speed chase along Farm to Market Road 780. Officials said the man became very agitated after a sheriff's deputy and Child Protective Services employee tried to investigate an alleged sexual assault.

Oct. 12, 2006
Workers struck and killed on Highway 287

Two men laying asphalt on Texas Highway 287 were killed after being struck by George Hair of Kemp. There were signs up noting highway workers were present. It was not known why Hair hit the men, but it was suspected he lost control of his vehicle.

Oct. 19, 2006
Ferris projects for Waste Management funds questioned

African-American advocate Monique Foster demanded Ferris city officials properly use money designated by Waste Management for the northwest portion of town. Council members had considered using the money to remodel a portion of the former HeadStart building at Church Street and Avenue A. Once remodeled the building would serve as a new home for the Ferris Senior Citizens group. Council members had considered using additional money to add sprinkler systems and other improvements to the soccer fields. Foster said she didn't mind the money being spent on the senior center building, but felt the soccer fields should not be funded. She said she wanted to see the money be used to provide an after school site allowing children in the area a place to go to complete their homework.

Oct. 26, 2006
Palmer PD discloses missing property

During a recent inventory of the Palmer police department's property room several drugs and a deer rifle among other things were missing. Representatives from the Ellis County District Attorney's office came to see what was happening at Palmer Police Chief Scott Lynch's request. Lynch believes the missing drugs were used for K9 dog training purposes.

Nov. 2, 2006
Local Senate candidate arrested

Phil Smart, a candidate for the Texas Senate District 22 seat, was arrested on a narcotics possession after being pulled over by a Red Oak police officer. Smart denied having any illegal drugs, but said he only had his prescribed medicine with him. He claimed he was being harassed because he was running for public office.

Vines fired as city manager
The City of Glenn Heights council members fired City Manager Georgia Vines, but no reason was given. Vines' attorney Michelle Morgan said her client was fired for being a 'whistleblower' when Vines informed the council of the former police chief's violations.

Nov. 9, 2006
Elderly lady hurt in train accident

Long-time Ferris resident Dorothy Kirven, 82, was hurt after her Lincoln Town Car collided with a Union Pacific train on Sixth Street at Central Avenue in Ferris. Kirven was transported to Parkland Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

District clerk employee and husband arrested
Former Ellis County District clerk employee Pamela and her husband Mike Spross were arrested in Waxahachie on felony drug charges. Waxahachie police officials said an undercover investigation led to the couple's arrest.

Nov. 16, 2006
Four arrested for home invasion

Four Dallas men were arrested after holding an Ovilla homeowner at gunpoint during a home invasion. A fifth suspect was not captured. They remain in Waxahachie's Wayne McCollum Detention Center on $25,000 bond each.

Nov. 23, 2006
Palmer officer injured

Palmer officer Chris Mendez was slightly injured after crashing into several storage buildings near the Interstate 45 service road. Mendez was pursuing a traffic violator.

Nov. 30, 2006
Ferris resident killed

Richard Hathcock, 42, was allegedly killed by his girlfriend's 24-year-old son Billy Hale. Hathcock died after being transported to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Hale remains in custody at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in Waxahachie on $250,000 bond after being charged with first degree murder.

Dec. 7, 2006
ECP removed as Ferris' official paper

Despite serving as the City of Ferris' official paper for at least 13 years and being based in Ferris, The Ellis County Press was removed as the official paper of record. The Waxahachie Daily Light was selected as the city's newest official paper because it was a daily publication.

New Red Oak paper premieres
The Red Oak Record published its first paper on Dec. 7. The community based weekly paper keeps Red Oak, Ovilla and Glenn Heights residents informed about their communities. ROR is the sister publication to The ECP.

Dec. 14, 2006
County, Ennis grant tax abatements

Three national companies promising to bring thousands of new jobs to Ennis and Ellis County received tax abatements on their buildings, machinery and equipment. Two of the companies, JKEKT Automotive and National Envelope Corporation, received abatements for 55 percent from the county and ADS Alliance Data System received a 50 percent abatement from the county. Ennis offered all three companies a 75 percent abatement. All the abatements were for seven years.

Dec. 21, 2006
County selects new constable

Steve McKinney, 52, was selected as Ellis County's newest constable in Precinct 4 receiving the most votes from county commissioners. McKin-ney replaced Constable Perry 'Bubba' Curry which resigned Dec. 8 to accept a deputy constable post in Tarrant County.

Dec. 28, 2006
Lawsuit against Midlothian and Waxahachie seeks temporary injunction

Midlothian homeowner Thomas Stephens filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary injunction to make the cities of Midlothian and Waxahachie to stop construction on hangers at the MidWay Airport located between the cities on Texas Highway 287. County Court at Law Judge Bob Carroll eventually ruled against Stephens. After the ruling Stephens' lawyer filed a temporary restraining order to keep work from proceeding on the hangers, but Carroll denied the motion based on a technicality.

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