Reflecting on 2015: The stories impacting Orange

Published 10:17 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

The top ten stories of 2015, not in order of importance, are:

WO-S Football State Championship

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs brought back some state hardware as the boys in Blue and Silver claimed the Class 4A Division II State Football Championship buy defeating Celina 22-3 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Many folks thought the Mustangs would not go back to the state title game for the second year in a row with just four starters back in the mix but WO-S fooled everyone, strolling to a 15-1 mark and dominating everyone in the playoffs.


Bassmaster returns to Orange

Weather conditions were less than ideal all four days of the 2015 event, but thousands turned out for the Bassmaster Elite Series event and set a new record in the process.

The Bassmaster Elite Series returned to the Sabine River for another four-day fishing tournament in March 2015, and so did the fishing fans as 33,758 people attended Thursday through Sunday. This surpassed the March 2013 attendance mark of slightly more than 33,600.

Many of the anglers voiced their positive feelings on being in Orange and the fishing on the Sabine River and expressed comments on returning in the future.


Shooting death of Alexander

Elijah Joseph Alexander, 22, was shot and killed Saturday, May 30, 2015 as he returned home from fishing with a friend. Orange Police officers responded to a disturbance call at the 200 block of Dewey Street in Orange. When officers arrived, a man was found lying on the street with a gunshot wound. Alexander was transported to Baptist Hospital Orange where he was pronounced dead. Another, unidentified, individual was at the hospital seeking treatment for gunshot wounds to the legs. He was reportedly transported by private vehicle to the medical facility. Police confirmed the two men were in a dispute but could not clarify on the argument. The case remains under investigation.


WO-S Baseball State Finalist

The Mustang baseball team was the “Cinderella” story of the year, not only in the SE Texas area but state-wide as well.

WO-S finished 7-5 in district and had a one-game playoff for the third-place spot out of 24-4A. Once the Mustangs got on a roll, they stayed on one, rolling all the way to the Class 4A State Championship Game where they fell just short.

The Mustangs put together a huge playoff push in which they lost three Game Ones of series only to come back and take the second and third games of each to advance to the State Tournament.


10 years since Rita

2015 marked the 10 year anniversary of a devastating storm which caused massive amounts of damage to Orange County and left thousands without power for days and weeks in the late September heat.

Hurricane Rita blew into the Gulf of Mexico in mid-September 2005 and arrived in Southeast Texas in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2005, as the category 3 hurricane made landfall along the Sabine River, which separates Texas and Louisiana.

Trees were the weapon of choice for Hurricane Rita as millions of trees were splintered and, in many cases, uprooted completely as they ripped through power lines, crashed down on houses and turned roads into obstacle courses.

More than 250,000 people within the Entergy service zone were without power, some of which went more than three weeks without power, as thousands of repair crews from around the U.S. helped replace snapped utility poles and downed power lines.


Alligator attack

A male and female were swimming in the bayou when a large alligator attacked the man on July 3.

Tommie Woodward, 28, died while swimming in the bayou at Burkart’s Marina, 1802 Mississippi in Orange.

Woodward jumped into the water at 2:34 a.m. to swim when an 11-foot 2-inch alligator weighing approximately 400 pounds pulled Woodward under the water.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Game Warden were requested to the scene for a search and rescue for Woodward.

Woodard’s body was located approximately half a mile from the marina at 4:30 a.m.

Swimming was prohibited in the area according to posted signs.

A person, whom Texas Parks and Wildlife officials did not identify, later killed the alligator admitted to killing the large reptile out of concern for the safety of others.


Dubose announced he will not seek reelection

Commissioner Precinct One David Dubose announced in court he will not seek reelection when his term expires. Gary Hinote, Shirley Zimmerman, Ryan Peabody, Bobby Manshack, and Johnny Trahan are seeking County Commissioner Precent One seat in the in up coming elections.


LC-M High School becomes a STEM Academy

Little Cypress Mauriceville High School was designated as a Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy by the Texas Education Agency, one of only 90 in the state of Texas


Changes at Baptist Hospital Orange

Rumors on the status of the hospital began early in 2015. The hospital, while ending in-patient services, continues to operate. The hospital continues to serve area residents through its emergency services and imaging services, such as CT Scans, MRI and EKG/EEG. It will also continue to offer its OP Infusion Clinic, pharmacy and Sleep Center to residents. With changes to the facility, residents, Billy Chiappi Jr. and Shronda Phillips-Amerson, began a petition to bring a VA Inpatient facility to Orange.


Legally saying ‘I do’

When the announcement of the Supreme Courts ruling on same-sex marriages was announced on television, same sex couples were able to legally say ‘I do’. The County Clerk’s office received numerous phone calls concerning the availability of a same sex marriage license after the ruling was announced but did not issue any until the following Tuesday. Three were issued within 30 minutes Tuesday morning.