Homicide, historic robbery, swift-water rescues, new school leader highlight top stories in first months of year

December 26, 2012



Hard to believe that another year has come and gone. In less than a week, we’ll be ringing in 2013.

See gallery of top photos of 2012

January will bring us two new county commissioners and a new county attorney, among other fresh faces in county government. We’ll soon have a new, $10 million recreation center, as mandated by voters who turned out for the November elections.

During 2012, some stood up, while others backed down. Two brave teenage girls spoke out against underage drinking, while another likely saved the life of a severely neglected infant.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) backed off its threat to lump Hood County in the Metroplex-area nonattainment zone, thanks to the hard work of a number of local officials and citizens.

Hood County gained a new point of pride when hometown girl Dana Vollmer won three gold medals at the London Olympics. But the year brought losses, as well.

We said goodbye to former Hood County Sheriff Edwin Tomlinson, former Deputy Sammy Slatten, former Granbury High School varsity football player Luke Thomas Urbanovsky and businessman/benefactor John Hill, among others.

Several beloved businesses on the square closed their doors – Dakota’s Kabin, the Clothes Horse and the Coffee Grinder.

As we prepare to begin another year of pluses and minuses, gains and losses, let’s take a moment to reflect on 2012. Here are just some of the news stories from 2012:


Granbury City Council member Mitch Tyra seeks to nix the Tourism Advisory Board one year after its creation.

A contractor faces a possible $18,000 fine from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration following the death of a worker at the company’s Gordon facility.

The Brazos River Authority predicts that Lake Granbury may drop another 4 feet by the end of February.

Golden algae is blamed by officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for dead fish littering the banks of Lake Granbury.

It’s a record year for the 57th Hood County Livestock Show, with $255,650 generated by the auction and a steer owned by Zach Nelson of Lipan bringing in $13,000.

The Sheriff’s Office investigates as a homicide the shooting death of Rolling Hills Shores resident Ormond “Gene” Sabin, owner of T.J.’s Private Club and Cafe. The next day, Justin Ragan was arrested as the first of three suspects.

Shannon Griffin of Pecan Plantation is arrested in the shooting death of her husband’s mistress.

Local researcher Bob Kent challenges long-held beliefs put forth in the popular T.T. Ewell book regarding the rightful owner of Granbury’s town lots.

Kimberly Milwicz, one of the suspects in the murder of Gene Sabin, is transported from New Mexico to the Hood County Jail. Gordon Ray Lewis, a third suspect, was later indicted.

Longtime Lipan Marshal Sam Tipton dies.

Flooded roads lead to swift-water rescues by first-responders.

Members of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners Association (LGWOA) celebrate as a victory a requirement by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that the Brazos River Authority (BRA) submit a water management study.


Preserve Granbury and Friends of the Granbury Opera House raise funds to match a $300,000 grant from Jon and Becky Brumley to purchase the St. Helen’s building.

For the fourth time, the County Clerk’s office wins an Exemplary Award from the Department of State Health Services.

The Granbury City Council votes down the offered donation of the St. Helen’s building.

After 17 years of being a fixture on the square, the Coffee Grinder closes its Pearl Street location.

Congressman Mike Conaway, R-Midland, meets with local officials regarding the EPA’s intention to lump Hood County into the Metroplex nonattainment area.

Mission Granbury Executive Director April Mitchell forms a committee to find a way to address the issue of homeless teens.

The Granbury School Board culls through 53 superintendent applicants and decides to interview nine.

County and YMCA representatives meet to discuss a possible collaboration on a recreation center.

Hood County sales tax allocations double from the same time the previous year.

A young woman admits to a hit-and-run at Hood County Station 70 Volunteer Fire Department in Oak Trail Shores that damaged a 2000 Ford brush truck.

City Manager Wayne McKethan announces he will be the first to be reviewed through the city’s new, numerical evaluation system.

A Hood County man is charged with perpetrating a $1 million mail and wire fraud scheme.

The custom-built fire boat serving Hood County residents on Lake Granbury makes its long-awaited debut.

Ten-year-old Caeley Cody, a fourth-grader at Oak Woods, shows her champion steer at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

Jerry Durant decides against selling his Granbury and Weatherford car dealerships to a McKinney auto dealer.

Lipan’s Lady Indians and Happy Hill’s Lady Pioneers are two wins away from basketball history.

Amanda Lynn Trujillo is sentenced to 40 years for hiring a man to kill her husband.


A county commissioner is issued a trespass warning by the Sheriff’s Office on behalf of the county treasurer.

It is announced – finally – that election primaries will be held May 29.

Emily Burks leaves her position as executive director of the Hood County Senior Center to take a job in real estate.

A woman claims to have spotted a mountain lion a few feet from her front porch.

County commissioners suspend – but do not fire – the county’s HR director for sending inappropriate emails that violate county policy.

Volunteers rescue an injured pelican.

William “Bill” Moore, 82, of Pecan Plantation, goes missing without a trace after he heads into town to an auto parts store.

Law enforcement officers quickly nab the suspect in what is believed to be the town of Tolar’s first armed robbery.

In the wake of an email scandal that involves two elected officials, the Commissioners Court approves a revised policy for the filing of complaints within county government.

First responders conduct swift-water rescues for three stranded people.

Granbury City Council member Mickey Parson suggests rating shows at the Opera House for adult content, stating that even Neil Simon plays can be adult-themed.

Bees attack a family in southern Hood County and kill a horse.

Rusk ISD superintendent James Largent is the No. 1 choice of the Granbury School Board to replace retiring Superintendent Ron Mayfield.

It is announced by the Economic Development Corporation that Michaels, a retailer specializing in arts and crafts, is coming to town.

A group plans an Academic Hall of Fame for Granbury High School.

The county is sued for the 2010 hanging death of a jail inmate.


Granbury Public Works Director Alva Cox mails letters to 80 customers of Laguna Tres Water Systems in and around South Harbor, as the city begins the process of buying the problematic water provider.

GHS Band Director Mark Eastin tells the school board that the band program needs increased funding for instruments, rehearsal space and staffing.

“The Legend of Hell’s Gate,” shot in and around Granbury and starring John Wayne’s grandson, Brendan Wayne, makes its way into theaters.

The Granbury City Council receives an update on the Opera House project, with predictions of a late November opening in time for holiday performances.

Granbury Mayor Pro Tem Mickey Parson wants to accept an invitation by the Dallas Chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council to participate in an excursion to Korea.

A problem with large numbers of jurors not showing up for jury duty may be largely due to improper mail delivery, according to county Court-at-Law Judge Vincent Messina and District Clerk Tonna Hitt.

There is still no sign of 82-year-old Pecan Plantation resident William “Bill” Moore, who vanished without a trace after heading into town.

Pecan Plantation tennis pro Gonzalo Nunez stages the first Pecan-bledon – an event named in honor of Wimbledon.

Granbury and AMUD customers continue to endure water rationing.

The seventh Annual Country Spirit Jamboree is held at the reunion grounds to provide direct financial assistance to Hood County cancer patients.

Brawner student Caitlyn Sprague, who was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 3, is named the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hood County’s 2011 Youth of the Year.

Granbury City Manager Wayne McKethan urges a change in city travel policies.

Sheriff Roger Deeds asks the Commissioners Court to put a question on the ballot about no longer allowing Hood County to be “open range” due to law enforcement officials having to deal with roving beasts.

Granbury school Superintendent Ron Mayfield narrowly escapes injury when there are two lightning strikes at Acton Baptist Church.

Asael Furquim Dearruda gets two, 20-year terms for a drive-by shooting.

The Hood County Substance Abuse Council schedules a Town Hall meeting to discuss underage drinking during prom and graduation season.

The Granbury City Council denies funding a trip to Korea for council member Mickey Parson.

A 5-year-old Hood County boy loses part of his leg in a riding lawn mower accident.

Jim Gatewood, historian, author and founder of the Dallas County Assassination Review Board, speaks to the Rotary Club of Granbury.

The Granbury Quilters Guild moves its three-day event to Glen Rose, citing the high cost of renting the Granbury Resort Conference Center.

Cancer survivor Suzanne Back is honorary chairperson of Granbury’s Relay for Life.

Teens who are part of a panel discussion at Granbury City Hall say that parents are the No. 1 one reason for teen drinking.

Top stories from the following months will be published in Saturday’s issue.

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