Here’s a month-by-month review of 2013 news
JANUARY—Jay Willingham, who had been elected Precinct 3 constable in November, 2012, declined the position and commissioners appointed primary runner-up Carol Wells to the post....A holiday flood at Rockdale Junior-High School—a water pipe burst—was fixed in time for students to return on time from the Christmas-New Year’s break....On a 3-2 split vote the city council allowed the Chamber of Commerce to keep some of the hotel-motel tax funds it used to administer, enabling it to keep its rock house office open....In a 4-3 vote the city council turned down a request to ask county commissioners to change water district directors from appointed to elected...Rockdale’s McDonald’s was demolished to make way for a new from-the-ground up restaurant with the famous arches....School trustees took no action on the contract of Supt. Dr. Howell Wright Jr....Pct. 1 Commissioner George Tomek, elected to a new term just a few weeks previously, resigned to accept a business opportunity. Chuck “Tank” Balch was appointed his replacement.
FEBRUARY—The 2013 Nocturnal Fest, an event which brought tens of thousands of electronic music fans to Apache Pass and stimulated the Rockdale area economy, was canceled by the promoter....Two road fatalities in five days in the area. A Tanglewood woman trying to be Good Samaritan to a stranded motorist was struck on the side of US 77 near her home. A College Station nurse died in a two-vehicle collision on a farm-market road northeast of Cameron....Nervous Rockdale firefighters battled a grass fire just north of the city limits in winds clocked up to 50 miles per hour....Rockdale police were using the new Copsync computer system.... Adam Assaker was a repeat winner as Officer of the Year in the annual police banquet.
MARCH—One thousand workers were on the job in a major maintenance project at Luminant’s Sandow 4 power plant, providing a major economic boost for the Rockdale area....The annual Tejas Fest included a day of theatrical presentation in the Kay Theatre.... The portion of US 77 between Rockdale and the Y-intersection outside Cameron was named the Charles L. Price III Memorial Highway in honor of a Cameron resident who was killed while serving with the U. S Army in Afghanistan....The Orasi company pitched itself as a “new set of eyes” to oversee Rockdale tourism in a presentation to the public in the Patterson Civic Center....Dr. Howell Wright Jr. resigned as superintendent of the Rockdale ISD.... The City of Milano imposed its first-ever property tax, a 25-cent rate targeted for creation of a police department.
APRIL—Tom Manskey, first executive manager of the Rockdale Municipal Development District (MDD) quit and was replaced by Kara Clore.... The mystery of a skeleton found near Cameron in 2011 was solved. DNA tests confirmed it was a 26-year-old immigrant from Mexico who lived on FM 979....Winners of annual Chamber of Commerce Awards: Debra Jackson, citizen of the year; Janice King, ambassador of the year; Walmart, business of the year; Knights of Columbus, organization of the year....A crowd of 90 showed up to oppose the city’s proposed “nuisance ordinance” which was then unanimously rejected by a council vote....Snakes were the featured “critter” as Rockdale’s Fair Park hosted the annual Milam County Nature Fest....A motorcycle chase, with speeds reaching 140 miles per hour, originated in Milam County but came to an end without injury near Gatesville when the cycle slid and crashed.... Carson & Barnes Circus, in two performances sponsored by the Rockdale Rotary Club, raised money to assist the explosion stricken town of West.... Mayor Larry Jones broke a city council tie vote in favor of erecting a new water tower on Allday Street....The Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department dealt with a fatal highway crash and two house fires within a 20-hour period.
MAY—Stephen Daniell, 47, drew a 60-year prison term in the shotgun slaying of his girlfriend, Sheila Owens, 49, in 2012....John King was elected Rockdale mayor, polling 319 voted to 174 for Collier Perry and 35 for Toby Johnson... Nathan Bland won a west ward council seat, 252-163 over Trent Wages and incumbent Joyce Dalley was re-elected to her east ward council seat, out-polling Robert Lawhon 77-29....City council members were told a complete overhaul of the city water system, viewed as the only permanent fix for Rockdale’s red water problems, would cost $25.5 million....The city’s new tourism committee made its first awards from hotel-motel tax collections.... Rockdale’s Lucy Hill Patterson Memorial Library celebrated 50 years in its building, with a reception including a peek at the 1963 mural, part of which is still visible by lifting ceiling tiles....For the second time in nine years, members of a Rockdale family were arrested and charged with growing marijuana on their farm west of town.
JUNE—Excavation started on the 80-unit Hunter’s Chase apartments on East Belton, the largest building project inside the Rockdale city limits in decades...More “digital” exercise for Rockdale area residents as 10-digit dialing arrived in the 512 area code....Vicki Bridges of the Grand Prairie ISD was named the “lone finalist” to replace Dr. Howell Wright Jr. as superintendent of the Rockdale ISD....“Rockdale treasure” Cliff Sims kept a couple of adoring crowds in stitches of laughter during two well-attended series of reminiscences in the city library....After what looked to be series of never ending hearings and appeals, the city council ordered demolition of the Cameo Building.... Area law enforcement officials were seeking a safe-cracking gang after a series of breakins that involved the Rockdale Country Club....The Miller family observed 50 years ownership of Miller-Starnes Chevrolet Buick. Ernie Miller purchased the dealership from Louis Gest in 1963....Former directors Bill Grusendorf, Don Thoede and Jim Perry were together at a Big Blue Band Reunion held at Apache Pass.
JULY—Vicki Bridges of Grand Prairie, lone finalist for position of Rockdale ISD superintendent, turned down the position on the day before she was supposed to have been hired....Searchers for a missing man in the vicinity of Sugarloaf Mountain found the body of 55-year-old Larry Wayne Bennett.... Milano had its first-ever police force with the hiring of Colin Owen as police chief....The Rockdale City Council modified its Cameo demolition order, giving a deadline for work to save the part of the structure still standing....A weather system that “moved the wrong way” from Ohio to Texas brought a much-welcomed 4-inch rain to South Milam County in the midst of a dry summer....The bell tower of Springfield Baptist Church was demolished when a driver failed to make the curve at the corner of Pear and Third. There were no injuries and the tower’s historic bell was not damaged....A town hall-type meeting let Allday Street area residents know what to expect during construction of Rockdale’s newest water tower....Little
River Healthcare Systems, based in Rockdale, assumed control of Cameron’s financially troubled Central Texas Hospital....Donald Denbow of Corsicana was named interim superintendent of the Rockdale ISD.
AUGUST—Values of Luminant’s Sandow 5 power plant unit dropped by almost $110 million in a settlement between the power company and Milam Appraisal District (AD), affecting Milam County and the Rockdale ISD....Rockdale resident Sherill Small was charged with capital murder in the death of two-year-old Alexandria Hill, for whom she was providing foster care....A giant, community-wide benefit for cancer victim Dustin Pickel raised $110,000 and drew a crowd of 1,200 to the KC Hall.... Rockdale ISD earned good ratings from the Texas Education Agency, in the annual release of accountability test scores, with all four campuses being rated acceptable and the junior-high received a distinction honor in one subject area....The city council rejected a plan to construct a hog processing plant partially inside the city limits.... Rockdale ISD employees were granted a 2.5-percent pay hike by trustees....Financial experts were predicting a bankruptcy filing by Luminant. Company officials maintained Sandow power plant and Three Oaks Mine facilities would remain open.
SEPTEMBER—City council members were mulling a request by the MDD to contribute $50,000 toward construction of a $250,000 splash park to be located on the Patterson Center grounds....More than 100 persons had antiques appraised at Wolf Park in the first of several September events promoted by Orasi, an outside firm hired with hotel-motel tax funds. But a planned large-scale antique fair the same weekend failed to develop....City council members, expressing displeasure that Orasi was $30,000 0ver a $32,000 budget for the September events, grilled Orasi’s Paul Sturiale on several topics. Sturiale said he was stepping down as Orasi’s representative in Rockdale....On a 3-2 vote, county commissioner approved a 3-cent tax increase, from 60 to 63 cents....Citing family concerns and a long commute to work, Melody Dawson resigned her east ward position on the city council....The Rockdale ISD tax rate was set at $1.234 up 1.5 cents from the current rate but only half the tax increase proposed earlier in the summer.... LCRA confirmed that the deal to purchase land at the former Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations was off, saying only “LCRA did not elect to purchase the property.”.... A rabid bat was found on the Thorndale ISD school grounds but no one came in contact with the animal....Turnout was minuscule for a Fair Park concert with John Corbett, considerably better for a second one with Reckless Kelly.
OCTOBER—Council member Joyce Dalley declined the MDD director post to which she had been appointed.... Rains brought some flooding to Rockdale but also much-needed drought relief. September, 2013, was Rockdale’s wettest September since 1921....Promoter of a feral hog slaughter plant circumvented a previous city council decision by redesigning the plant to be located outside the Rockdale city limits.... City council members, acting on the recommendation of the tourism committee, terminated Rockdale’s promotion agreement with Orasi....Rockdale and Taylor football fans joined in a “pink out” to fight cancer, purchasing 2,236 pink T-shirts and wearing them to the Tiger-Duck game in Rockdale. Even though the event wasn’t designed as a fund-raiser, $1,200 was donated to the fight against cancer....Jury selection began in the capital murder trial of Brandon Charles Cotton....Highlights from the 38th annual Rockdale Fair: Jacey Jerman was crowned Miss Rockdale Fair Queen by Miss Texas Ivana Hall....Record sales in both livestock auctions, $252,051 in the market division and $146,500 in the heifer show.... Grand champion steer as shown by Jonathan McAnulty of the Cameron FFA...Concerts by Earl Thomas Conley, Aaron Watson and the Casey Donahew Band drew large crowds to the Fair Park pavilion...Family of the late Skeet Quinney served as grand marshal for the Fair Parade....A new kids rodeo clown contest was judged by legendary rodeo cowboy Leon Coffee....Clemon Small, foster father of Alexandra “Alex” Hill, invoked his fifth-amendment right not to testify before a Milam County Grand Jury. Small’s wife, Sherrill, had been charged with capital murder in connection with the two-yearold’s death.
NOVEMBER—Texas Historical Commission markers were unveiled in well-attended ceremonies at Sugarloaf Mountain and Apache Pass....A late fall deluge brought flooding and road damage to Milam County, mostly in the Cameron area and northward....First day of filing for the 2014 Republican and Democratic Primaries brought a contested county judge’s race between the same two men who were pitted in the 2010 race, incumbent Dave Barkemeyer and challenger Frank Summers. The roles were reversed four years ago when Barkemeyer unseated Summers....Brandon Charles Cotton avoided a death penalty capital murder trial by accepting a life-without-parole plea bargain....An emotionally charged city council meeting included protests by several water customers over recent water bills and the quality of city water....County commissioners, in a new approach to appointing Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District directors, interviewed candidates from a field of 10 and named three, two new directors and one reappointment....A gift from philanthropist Drayton McLane assured completion of a new Milano fire station. An emergency shelter had been dedicated earlier in the year.
DECEMBER—The Rockdale ISD was ready to try again in its search for a new superintendent, announcing the position would be posted in January.... Yet again, the Rockdale City Council ordered demolition of the former Cameo Insurance Building...Alcoa announced it was closing its atomizer the last producing facility at the former Rockdale Operations.... Luminant forestalled a 2013 bankruptcy filing by making a payment to unsecured creditors. A 2014 filing now seems virtually assured....Installation of new, high-tech, more accurate water meters began by city crews....Leroy Phillips outp0lled Denise Holmes Wallace for the east ward city council position vacated by the resignation of Melody Dawson....Dyann Daniel White was hired to replace retiring chief appraiser Pat Moraw.