Palestine and Anderson County said goodbye to a number of community leaders during the first half of 2005.

Retired educator and longtime community leader Dorothy Robinson died at age 96 on June 23 at her residence. A pair of former Palestine city councilmen, Willie Myers and James L. Simpson, also passed away during the year's opening six months.

Myers was 92, while Simpson was 64.

Other notable deaths between January and June included successful Palestine businessmen Vernon Calhoun (86) and Jesse Ramsey (78).

And while there were endings in some cases, there were beginnings in others.

Palestine elected its first female mayor in June as local physician Carolyn Salter defeated opponent Dan Bochsler by just two votes.

Anderson County residents also approved a $9.95 million jail bond election, opening the door for the construction of a new 200-bed facility around the existing jail on East Lacy Street.

Also, longtime state legislator Todd Staples, a Palestine Republican who currently represents District 3 in the Texas Senate, acknowledged in June he was considering a bid for a new position — the state agriculture commissioner's post.

A brief look at some of the items making news during the first half of 2005 includes:



January

1 — Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor and a host of other elected officials are sworn into office.

5 — Local activist Gerald Moore, who has a history of legal and criminal squabbles with county officials, is hired as a part-time employee in the Anderson County precinct 2 road and bridge department.

6 — Janis Dugan, a 45-year-old Palestine woman convicted of embezzling more than $24,000 from a local beer distributorship, is taken into custody without incident after exhausting her appeals of an eight-year prison sentence.

9 — Former Palestine business leader Vernon Calhoun, founder of a longtime local meat packing plant, dies at age 86.

10 — Anderson County commissioners approve the spending of more than $81,000 on additional repairs to the interior and roof of the old Federal Building.

13 — State Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, announces that he has filed a comprehensive workers’ compensation reform bill during a press conference in Austin.

17 — Anderson County residents celebrate the birthday of 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with a number of events, including a parade in downtown Palestine.

19 — Jack Rogers, former two-term Anderson County judge, announces he will run for the same position in 2006 — this time as a Republican.

24 — Dale Brown is hired as Palestine’s new city manager at an annual salary of $105,000 plus a $500 monthly car allowance.

28 — Anderson County commissioners accept the recommendation of a citizens’ advisory committee, opening the door for a jail bond election in the spring.

30 — Former Palestine City Councilman and local leader Willie Myers passes away in Tyler at the age of 92.

31 — Special prosecutor Dan Scarbrough writes a one-page letter to a local state district judge, indicating that he found no wrongdoing was committed by Precinct 2 Commissioner Darrell Emanuel relating to the purchase of a set of tires in March 2003.

February

3 — Palestine native Frank Denton, who now resides in Conroe, says he will run for the District 3 spot in the Texas Senate in 2006 if current officeholder Todd Staples opts to run for agriculture commissioner.

5 — Palestine City Councilman Jerry Nowlin resigns his post after nearly four years after moving outside of his district.

11 — The Grapeland Independent School District cancels classes due to an outbreak of flu and other illnesses.

15 — Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe tells commissioners he needs more prosecutors in his office to keep up with the county’s growing number of felonies.

21 — Former Palestine City Councilman James L. Simpson, who served in the mid-1990s, dies at age 64.

24 — Fifty-nine animals — 36 cats and 23 dogs — seized from a 49-year-old Elkhart woman six days earlier are awarded to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) following a hearing.

26 — Westwood High School’s academic decathlon team wins its third state title in as many years in San Antonio.

March

1 – Three people are arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and approximately 45 pit bulls seized from a rural residence near Lost Prairie Lake.

4 — Anderson County commissioners vote 4-1 to call an election on May 7, allowing voters to decide whether to expend almost $10 million to add on to the county’s jail.

11 — Thirty-three year-old Patrick Deon Davis of Palestine is sentenced to 40 years in prison by an Anderson County jury after being convicted of attempted murder in connection with the January 2004 shooting of an Oakwood man.

14 — Anderson County Judge Carey McKinney announces that the county has received more than $230,000 in Homeland Security Grant monies to be used to upgrade communications.

18 — The annual three-weekend Dogwood Trails Celebration kicks off, with Palestine High School senior Megan Danette Hinson winning queen honors.

23 — Twenty-two year-old Ditasha Calhoun of Palestine, who was one of approximately 70 local people arrested in a drug roundup in September 2004, is sentenced to 18 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine.

26 — Anderson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Randy Watkins is arrested for driving while intoxicated by local police after they respond to a report of a driver leaving the scene of a one-vehicle accident.

April

7 — Dennis Courtney, 56, is found murdered on his ranch east of Oakwood, with a severe blow to the head administered by a hammer and his hands and feet bound with duct tape.

8 — Former Anderson County Precinct 2 road and bridge employee Steven Jimenez claims he was terminated by Commissioner Darrell Emanuel after refusing to dig in an area without first receiving proper clearance.

11 — The Palestine Independent School District Board of Trustees decline to renew the contracts of three top administrators based on the recommendation of an independent consulting firm.

14 — Sixty-year-old Rusty Droby of Frankston is found deceased inside his residence adjacent to the Pine Dunes Golf Club with a gunshot wound to the head.

21 — The Republican Women team win top honors in the 12th annual “Bee” for Literacy, with the Herald-Press taking second place.

26 — U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, introduces legislation to change the name of the National Scientific Balloon Facility to the Columbia Scientific Balloon Center.

28 — The Anderson County commissioners’ court votes, 4-1, to decline to pay three precinct 2 road and bridge employees based on their hirings not being properly approved by the entire court.

29 — The Oakwood Independent School District Board of Trustees hire Kevin Woolley as the district’s new superintendent.

May

2 — Palestine businessman and community leader Jesse Ramsey passes away at his home at age 78.

5 — More than 100 people gather in Reagan Park to participate in a National Day of Prayer rally.

7 — A $9.95 million Anderson County Jail bond election designed to expand the existing facility and alleviate jail overcrowding passes by a 57-to-43 percent margin.

8 — A severe Mother’s Day thunderstorm accompanied by strong straight-line winds uproots trees and damages homes and yards in southeast Palestine.

11 — A six-person Anderson County jury deliberates for less than 200 seconds before finding local activist and county employee Gerald Moore guilty of the misdemeanor offense of disorderly conduct.

13 — The Palestine High School golf team fires a final-round 301 at Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin to win the Class 3A state championship by 21 strokes.

19 — Fourteen-year-old David Reeder, a seventh-grade student at Westwood Junior High School, sustains serious injuries after falling from a ride at a local carnival.

23 — The Palestine City Council votes to hire Tyler attorney Ronald D. Stutes as city attorney during a regular meeting.

27 — Palestine, Westwood and Elkhart high schools hold graduation ceremonies at separate locations throughout the county.

June

2 — State Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, confirms he is considering a run at the state agriculture commissioner’s post in 2006.

5 — The Palestine parents of a 14-month-old boy who had methamphetamine in his system are charged with endangering a child/criminal negligence.

6 — A severe thunderstorm spawns a weak tornado in the Houston County community of Grapeland, leaving a damage path 6 miles long and 1/2 mile wide.

11 — A handful of provisional ballots will decide the Palestine mayoral race after Carolyn Salter finishes with 686 votes and Dan Bochsler 684 in a runoff election.

14 — Local physician Carolyn Salter defeats opponent Dan Bochsler by two votes following a recount of the ballots.

18 — Approximately 25 members of the local African-American community celebrate Juneteenth by marching from the Anderson County Courthouse to Calhoun Park.

21 — Center businessman Bob Reeves tells the Herald-Press he will seek the Republican nomination in 2006 for the District 3 spot in the Texas Senate.

23 — Retired educator and longtime community leader Dorothy Robinson dies at her residence at age 96.

28 — Citing extremely dry conditions throughout the county, Anderson County Judge Carey McKinney signs an emergency declaration, placing a countywide burn ban in effect.

30 — An Anderson County jury rules that local activist Gerald Moore, who had sued the county for unpaid wages, receive nothing at the conclusion of a one-day civil trial.

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For a look back at the past six months of the year, see Saturday’s Herald-Press.

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