2013 a year of tragedy, heroism


It has been a strange year – one filled with great sadness and loss – and yet great pride.

The months of May and June were particularly difficult. A tornado blew us away, but did not blow us apart. And a Friday morning shootout made us realize how vulnerable we are and the sacrifices made by those who wear a badge.

Tuesday night – New Year’s Eve – there will be the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne. A loose translation for the song’s chorus is “for the sake of old times.”

As the turning of the calendar page lays 2013 to rest, let us remember Hood County Deputy Lance McLean.


deCordova Mayor Dick Pruitt suffers a stroke just two weeks after Granbury Mayor Rickie Pratt is felled by the same affliction.

At the 58th Hood County Junior Livestock Show, Acton eighth-grader Macey Burch receives a record-breaking bid of $30,000 for her grand champion steer, Voodoo. Five other grand champion records are broken.

Malfunctioning arms at the railroad crossing in Cresson had motorists and local officials seeing red.


A 10-man, two-woman jury finds Justin Ragan guilty of capital murder for his role in the shooting death of businessman Gene Sabin. Ragan receives a life sentence. Two others accused in the crime will later go on trial.

Derrick Cuenca is named the new chief executive officer of Lake Granbury Medical Center, Ben the drug dog is purchased through donors for use in GISD schools and 29 starving horses (plus two more later) are rescued from a ranch in southeastern Hood County.

Fundraisers are held to benefit ailing Granbury Mayor Rickie Pratt, and Dr. Bradley Hart is named top hunk in the 2013 Handsome Hunks of Hood County contest, which raises $44,000 for Ruth’s Place clinic.

The Granbury Pirates pull off one of the biggest wins in the history of the basketball program, upsetting O.D. Wyatt 62-58 to earn Granbury’s first bi-district basketball berth since the 1999-2000 season.


The Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association and Friends (LGWOA) hosts a meeting that draws city, county and chamber officials, as well as concerned citizens, to discuss funding a study about how the continuing low lake levels are affecting the local economy. On the same day, state Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and state Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) file bills calling for more accountability of the Brazos River Authority through financial audits and performance reviews.

Granbury High School track athlete Chris Richardson clocks a 21.78 in the 200-meter dash at Aledo to set a school record.


Hood County law enforcement joins other counties in providing increased security for prosecutors in the wake of the recent murders of the Kaufman County district attorney, his wife and one of his assistants.

Tolar Assistant Fire Chief and Fort Worth police detective Ray Wilson is selected from five finalists to replace Brian Fine as Hood County fire marshal after Fine accepts another position.

It is announced that Goodwill Industries and Dairy Queen will be coming to Granbury, and that construction will soon begin on the new Johnny Perkins Field of Pirate Stadium, which will feature synthetic turf. The Granbury City Council is presented with a rendering of what the lobby of the renovated Opera House will look like.

The Tolar community grieves the loss of 15-year-old Bryce Norris.

Lake Granbury Area Economic Development Director Joey Grisham accepts a position in Hutto.

Chelsea Flynn, an employee of Texas Oncology of Granbury, shows support for cancer victims by having her head shaved on stage at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event at Acton Middle School.


A month with an inordinate amount of tragedy begins with the death of 2012 Lipan High School Valedictorian Courtney Kay Smalley and three others in a two-vehicle head-on collision in Erath County.

On May 15, an EF-4 tornado with winds between 166-200 mph slams through Rancho Brazos, leaving six people dead and destroying 97 of 110 homes. Twenty-eight people are taken to Lake Granbury Medical Center.

Colorful character Billie Sol Estes, whose multi-million-dollar business deals twice landed him in prison on fraud-related charges, dies at his home in deCordova.

Granbury’s tourism director, Shanna Smith, resigns to take a similar position in her hometown of San Antonio.

A group seeking to fund a study of how the low lake level is affecting the local economy decides to also do an environmental study.


Project 44 gives donated, used vehicles to victims of the May 15 tornado.

Iris Martinez, who suffered two fractured hands and a fractured ankle in the tornado, participates in Granbury High School graduation ceremonies in a wheelchair. Two other students injured in the tornado – Nora Mojica and Dillon Whitehead – graduate as well.

Local officials participate in ground-breaking ceremonies at Lake Granbury Medical Center for Medical Office Building 2, which will house specialty services such as cardiology, orthopedics and pulmonary.

Habitat for Humanity begins the process of rebuilding in Rancho Brazos in the wake of the devastating tornado.

It is announced that Kroger may build a larger store across Highway 377 from H-E-B.

Linebacker Caleb Bendewald, a recent graduate of Granbury High School, is selected to play in the North American All-Stars North Texas East/West Classic football game.

The Brazos River Authority predicts that Lake Granbury, almost 7 feet low, could drop another 2 1/2 feet to a record low over the summer. Lakefront homeowners express concerns about lake bed vegetation.

Officers shoot and kill suspect Ricky Don McCommas near the Granbury square, just minutes after he fires a fatal bullet into the head of Deputy Lance McLean after the lawman responded to a criminal trespass call in Oak Trail Shores. When trying to bring down McCommas, Granbury police officer Chad Davis takes a bullet in the shoulder and in the knee, but survives.

Next issue: The final months of 2013 reviewed.

[email protected] | 817-573-7066, ext. 258