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Ellis County: Year in review

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STAFF REPORT
This year was marked by major political developments - Jim Pitts withdrawing from the House Speaker race, county facilities given the green light by voters - which will spill into next spring's primary elections. The Ellis County Press analyzes the people and events from this year:

Jan. 11
Commissioners weigh dates, Pitts withdraws

County commissioners debate when a facilities bond package will be given to voters; state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, also withdraws from the House Speaker race against Tom Craddick.

Jan. 18
160 apply for Ferris head coaching position

The race to replace Tal Sanders at Ferris High School drew 160 applicants. FHS would later make the playoffs in 2007, their first trip to the bi-district round in several years.

Jan. 25
Residents get look at Loop 9 routes; Ferris annexes Red Oak ETJ

Aside from the Loop 9 corridors residents were given a glimpse of, the City of Ferris inadvertedly annexed land in Red Oak's extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Feb. 1
Waxahachie Daily Light sold to Australian firm

The network of six Ellis County-area newspapers - the WDL being the main one - sold to Australian firm Macquarie Media Group, an investor in the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor, increased fears that papers in Texas were being bought to keep anti-TTC coverage out of the press.

Feb. 8
Ferris pursues annexing Red Oak land

Despite a plea from then-City Manager Ken Pfeifer to hold off on annexation, Ferris proceeds to incorporate nearly 200 acres which belong to Red Oak's extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Feb. 15
Midlothian police actions questioned in raid

When officers fired a beanbag gun into the face of an alleged assault suspect, the wife who called police blamed Midlothian officers for excessive force.

Feb. 22
Waxahachie's Shackelford Elementary locked down

Students and staff at this elementary school north of Waxahachie were locked down after an armed suspect allegedly made his way into the school parking lot. Nobody was injured.

March 1
Commissioners put $35 million referendum on ballot

County commissioners, after receiving a $150,000 facilities study, voted to put $35 million worth bonds to voters to construct downtown Waxahachie government buildings.

March 8
Knize request on local case denied

After setting Texas jurisprudence precedent and dismissing an entire jury without cause, 40th District Judge Gene Knize was denied reinstatement on the case by the region's admnistrative judge, Dallas County district Judge Bill Coker.

March 15
Soldier fundraising questioned

Organizations questioned a benefit to help a wounded soldier after discre-pencieswere found in his income statements and other issues.

March 22
Red Oak investigates ticket quota

Red Oak Chief of Police Red Fullerton and Deputy Chief Stephen Anderson were put on administrative leave after an internal investigation found a traffic ticket quota had been implemented.

March 29
Judge Bob Carroll resigns

In an abrupt move, longtime court at law Judge Bob Carroll, announced he was stepping down to pursue interests in the private sector. He did not rule out a future endeavor in the public sector, however.

April 5
$646,000 projected budget shortfall in Red Oak budget

Red Oak city council members faced having to stop a hemmoraging budget, as City Manager Ken Pfeifer told officials of a $646,000 revenue shortfall in the last fiscal year budget.

April 12
ROPD grilled on ticket quota

In what will eventually lead to the city manager's firing, the city council questioned ROPD officials about threats made if officers did not write a set number of citations each month.

April 19
Wilhelm chosen to replace Judge Carroll

Greg Wilhelm, elected last year as the county's treasurer, was unanimously chosen by county commissioners to fill the judgeship vacated by Bob Carroll.

April 26
Shootings in Ennis result in arrests

Gunfire on Kaufman Street lands two suspects in jail, while a shooting in the north side results in another arrest.

May 3
County bond supporters, opponents clash

Complaints are filed when the chairman of Ellis County's largest taxpayer organization, Taxpayers Alliance for Good Government, begins asking businesses to take down their Vote Yes signs in anticipation of the May 13 facilities bond.

May 10
ECP publisher suffers stroke

Longtime Ellis County Press fixture Sheila Hatfield suffers a stroke, and is later hospitalized. Support comes from communities all over Ellis County as a result.

May 17
$35 million county bond passes

With almost 7,000 votes cast, facilities for a new round of government buildings passed by a 53 percent to 46 percent margin. A total of 3,682 votes were cast in favor, with 3,245 cast in opposition.

May 24
Red Oak citizens turned away from the polls

State officials informed Red Oak citizens who alleged they were turned down at the voting polls on May 12.

May 31
Waxahachie Tasers man calling 9-1-1

After receiving a call from a man suffering a seizure, Waxahachie police bursted into Allen Nelms' home and Tasered him.

June 7
RO candidate mailing stirs controversy

Council run-off candidate Dawn Little's campaign mailers showing soldiers in Iraq showing their support resulted in dozens of supporters of Little's opponent, Ben Goodwyn, crying foul.

June 14
Soldier laid to rest, one struggling for life

Red Oak Missionary Baptist Church was the site of one soldier's burial, while another veteran was struggling for life.

June 21
MySpace account results in Glenn Heights man's arrest

Police arrested Scott Peter Hansen for violation terms of his parole, which included no Internet contact or access to the Internet.

June 28
St. John in jeopardy of closing high school

The longtime Catholic high school, reeling from dried up finances, faced closing its doors.

July 5
Bank robbery was inside job

After a hostage standoff without the hostages, authorities in Red Oak determined that the Wachovia bank 'robbery' was probably the victim of an inside job.

July 12
Family gets $1.5 million in malpractice case

A medical malpractice case resulted in the family of Fred Ramirez being awarded $1.5 million from Pal Kare, M.D.

July 19
Chaparral Steel sold, doctor denied probation terms

Midlothian's Chaparral Steel was sold to foreign firm Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., while Ennis doctor Aniruddha Ashok Chitale was denied probation terms deemed 'lenient.' Chitale was accused of molesting sedated patients in his Ennis Regional Medical Center office, and later received a county jail sentence and 10 years probation.

July 26
Palmer meeting draws ire over police chief

Despite a packed city council meeting in opposition, Palmer Police Chief Scott Lynch's job was still up in the air.

Aug. 2
Ferris water tower no more

Citing costs with keeping it part of Ferris' skyline, city officials took down an old water tower that served decades.

Aug. 9
Questions arise about Bardwell mayor

Citizens accused Mayor P.W. Gentry of a criminal past, allegedly keeping city hall closed on the last day for city council candidate filings, and a host of other issues.

Aug. 16
Alma mayor, councilman resign

Leaving the city with just four members, recently elected Mayor Bill Blackmon resigned, followed by Councilman Scot Shepard.

Aug. 23
Ennis councilman arrested

Stephen Durbin, accused of videotaping employees in a changing room at his Ennis dental office, was arrested for those allegations. Durbin, who represents Ward 5 on the Ennis City Commission, denied the charges.

Aug. 30
Air rescue team welcomed at Ennis Regional

Ennis' new hospital received a new teammate: Air Evac Lifeteam, a private air-rescue organization.

Sept. 6
Red Oak municipal center burglarized

Authorities said 'someone knew codes to get into the building' in the latest story about government buildings being broken into.

Sept. 13
Floods wreck havoc on roads, bridges

Torrential downpours in Ellis County forced the closing of several roads and bridges, resulting in millions worth of damages.

Sept. 20
Local towns celebrate heritage

Ovilla, Wilmer and other towns were busy putting on festivals and parades to celebrate their towns' birthdays.

Sept. 27
TAGG forms PAC

The largest taxpayer organization in Ellis County launched a political action committee with the hopes and goals of influencing local elective races.

Oct. 4
Chemical warehouse torched in Hutchins

A massive chemical warehouse south of Dallas was burned to the ground, resulting in no injuries and no immediate health hazards.

Oct. 11
Three vie for Red Oak mayoral seat

Months after Mayor Ron Bryce resigned, three candidates emerged for the special election to fill his seat. Alan Hugley later won without a run-off.

Oct. 18
County receives FEMA funds, logistics hub under way

With the county receiving federal funds for roads and bridges, southern Dallas County's logistics hub was put into motion, which has an estimated economic impact value of millions of dollars in the Ellis County economy.

Oct. 25
Questions still linger over Palmer employees

The 'at-will' clause in city employee contracts was the center of debate in an ongoing feud between council members and supporters of the police chief.

Nov. 1
Navarro College tax hits roadblock

State Reps. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, helped block another move by Navarro College to impose a property tax on Ellis County citizens.

Nov. 8
Driver convicted in '05 crash

Months after Judge Gene Knize dismissed a seated jury, the driver in a negligence case was convicted and sentenced to probation. Knize was pulled off the bench and replaced by a visiting judge.

Nov. 15
Motolov cocktail cause of fire

Authorities were determining the cause of a fire at a Ferris snack shop, which reportedly had the traits of a Motolov cocktail.

Nov. 29
Sims Library employed sex offender

After an ex-city employee exposed alleged financial mismanagement, it was revealed that Waxahachie's city-funded library, Sims Library, employed a sex offender - who was hired by his mother, the center's assistant director.

Dec. 6
Ferris welcomes new businesses

It was a busy week in Ferris as three new restaurants were newly christened and ready for business.

Dec. 13
Residents bark over dog leash ordinance

Hundreds of residents signed petition signatures to persuade county commissioners to reinstate a dog leash ordinance they previously rescinded.

Dec. 20
$10,000 missing from Red Oak tax office, Bard-not-so-well

Nearly $10,000 was missing from the Red Oak tax office, and readers were updated with the latest goings-on in Bardwell.

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