By BRAD KELLAR
The as yet unsolved murder of a Greenville teenager was the top story to have appeared in the pages of the Herald-Banner during 2012.
The death of Alicia Moore made national headlines and sparked a debate over how and when to implement the Amber Alert system. Moore’s case was at the top of a list of major local stories, including the mysterious and controversial death of a sacred white buffalo, the end of two years of litigation between the City of Greenville and its largest employer, an outbreak of tornadoes in April which prompted fears that the city’s emergency alert system was inadequate, the grand unveiling of a reborn city park, and news that two water parks were competing to locate in Greenville.
The Herald-Banner will issue a special year-end edition Saturday, with the annual “Weird, Wild and Wonderful” compilation planned for Sunday’s “Brunch” section.
— Alicia Chanta Moore, 16, disappeared from Greenville on the afternoon of Nov. 2 and was found murdered four days later.
What happened in between is still unclear and is the subject of a wide-ranging investigation involving multiple law enforcement agencies. Moore was last seen on the afternoon of Nov. 2 getting off of a school bus at the intersection of Bourland and Walnut Streets in Greenville, about a half-block from her home. Her body was found Nov. 6 along FM 47 in Van Zandt County.
The Greenville Police Department is reported to be working alongside the Hunt County District Attorney, Van Zandt County District Attorney, Texas Rangers, the FBI and the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office in conducting the investigation. Anyone who may have any information concerning the case is asked to contact the police department at 903-457-2900 or, to remain anonymous, Hunt County Crime Stoppers at 903-457-2929. Hunt County Crime Stoppers has also posted a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Moore’s death.
— In the spring of 2011, Arby and Pat Little Soldier announced Lightning Medicine Cloud, a white buffalo sacred to Native Americans, had been born on their ranch near Greenville. One year later came the announcement that Lightning was dead, as was his mother. Allegations and accusations followed as to whether the buffalo had been killed and skinned in a hate crime.
In late August, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks closed his office’s investigation into the deaths, claiming both animals died of natural causes, rather than by violence. No criminal charges were filed in connection with the investigation.
— In November, attorneys for L-3 Communications Integrated Systems filed an agreed motion to dismiss its pending lawsuit against the City of Greenville, while at the same time attorneys for the city filed a motion to dismiss its appeal connected to the same suit.
The actions brought to a close almost two years of litigation between the City of Greenville and its largest employer, concerning a proposed replat of Majors Field Municipal Airport.
— Hunt County and the surrounding area experienced a tornado outbreak in April. At least one confirmed tornado hit Hunt County during the height of the severe weather on April 3, with multiple homes destroyed in the Union Valley area. Two days after that, the City of Greenville conducted a regularly scheduled test of its emergency warning siren system, which resulted in many local residents claiming they could not hear the seven sirens. City officials have maintained the sirens were operating that day and continued to function during each monthly test.
— Huge crowds turned out on a Saturday afternoon in October to be among the first to enjoy the new version of Greenville’s oldest community park. A grand opening and dedication ceremony was conducted at Graham Park, which had undergone a $1 million renovation effort. Before the festivities even began, hundreds of visitors swarmed through the park; climbing on the new playground equipment, trying out the new fishing pier, taking a shot at nine holes of disc golf or just admiring how beautiful the lake looked with three fountains spraying into the air.
— In August, Weatherford Artificial Lift Systems announced the Phase III expansion of their plant at 6501 Lee Street (U.S. Highway 380), which will include the construction of a 126,000 square foot building, along with an unspecified number of new jobs. The company broke ground in January on a 105,000 square foot, $26 million expansion, which at that time doubled the size of the plant. The company completed the expansion, which was expected to add approximately 110 local jobs. Greenville Board of Development President and CEO Greg Sims said the Phase III expansion closely mirrors the Phase II expansion.
— Two water park companies approached the City of Greenville about opening locally. The Greenville City Council later voted to seek a formal agreement to bring a Splash Kingdom water park to town as part of the proposed Greenville Towne Center development.
— During early 2012, the end finally came for the project to build a new State Highway 34/Wesley Street overpass across Interstate 30. The estimated $40 million project involved rebuilding the Wesley Street overpass, creating an underpass at the Monty Stratton Parkway and much more.
— Work was completed over the summer on widening Traders Road from a two-lane asphalt roadway to a four-lane curb and gutter thoroughfare between State Highway 34/Wesley Street and FM 1570/Jack Finney Boulevard. Once the work was finished, the speed limit was raised from 40 to 45 mph. Meanwhile, as of the end of 2012, work was reported to be almost complete on constructing the Monty Stratton Parkway between Interstate 30 and Lions Lair Road. The parkway will be two concrete lanes with a raised median and open ditches on either side between the interstate and Lions Lair Road. A sidewalk will run along one side of the roadway and two crossovers were included under the project.
— The Hunt County Commissioners Court voted in October to approve the establishment of a substation for the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office in the southern part of the county. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said the building should be operational by early 2013.
“The project should be completed by the first of the year before we can get it up and running,” he said. “We will have a place where the Justice of the Peace can come in and have an office.”