Top 10 Stories of 2018

Published 7:43 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Top 10 Stories of 2018


From staff reports


When we select the top ten stories of the year, there is a process we usually go through to reach our final choices. Each member of staff picks 15 of what they consider the top stories of the year. Those stories selected the most become part of the final list. Then we each vote on the order of importance.

This year, we decided the readers had already decided which stories were most important by those most read on our website which were also published in the paper.

So in the order, you, our readers, determined the top ten stories of 2018:


  1. Garbage truck worker dies in wreck


Dawn Burleigh/The Orange Leader

Derrick Cane’s cousin, Sedrick Cartwright, left, looks at Cane’s picture held by Thomas ‘Slink’ Cartwright during a candlelight vigil held for Cane.


Derrick Kane, 28, garbage truck worker was killed in a wreck at approximately 4:30 p.m. Monday at the 3300 block of MLK.

Kane was transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont where he died from his injuries.

Orange Police Department officers, upon arrival, found that a southbound 2014 Hyundai Sonata driven by a female resident, 18, of Orange had struck the back of a sanitation truck that was picking up waste containers.

The other worker and the driver were not injured.


  1. OC Emergency Management Director arrested

A warrant for felony theft was issued for Orange County Emergency Management Director Ralph Valenciano, March 2018.

Valenciano has already been arrested for the charges of theft of service for greater than or equal to $20,000 and less than $100,000.

His bond was set at $6,000.

He has posted bond and has been released from the Orange County Jail.

According to a violation of cause, two men, owners of a drywall company in Lufkin, Texas, contacted Vidor Police Department in connection with five jobs they had done for Valenciano.

Valenciano, according to the document, wrote the men four checks for a total of $16,880. When the men attempted to cash the checks, they were returned for insufficient funds. After sending a certified letter to Valenciano, no payment was received.


  1. Family searching for Marion Hardin

Marion Hardin is reported to have been found and is safe.


  1. Man found dead in apartment police seeking answers

Octavias Lamont Williams was found deceased in his apartment on Dec. 22 at the 300 block of 2nd Street in Orange.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Judge Dubose-Simonton has ordered an autopsy.

The autopsy shows Williams dies from a gunshot to the upper torso area. The investigation is treating the case as a homicide.

Orange Police Department is asking for anyone with information over this case to please contact the Orange Police Department at 409-883-1026 or Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS.

A candlelight Vigil for the neighborhood was held on Dec. 23 as friends gathered to celebrate Williams’ life.


  1. Man robs Horseman Store

A theft turned into a robbery on Saturday at The Horseman Store, May 2018.

Employees caught a man stealing and detained him at approximately 12:30 p.m. while police arrived.

When police arrived, several employees were observed struggling with the man, identified as Earl Trahan Jr., 33, of Orange, on the outside sidewalk.

As Trahan continued struggling and kicking while the officer attempted to restrain him, the officer noticed the man was possibly under the influence of an unknown substance or drug.

An employee told the officer the store has had issues with Trahan in the past.

Trahan also bit one of the employees while they tried to hold Trahan on the ground waiting for police arrival.

Trahan took three flame resistant work shirts valued at $211.06

Trahan also had to active warrants, one for theft of a firearm with a $5,000 bond and one for theft with a $3,000 bond.

After receiving medical clearance by a hospital, Trahan was transported to Orange County Jail.


  1. OC Judge Carlton resigns

Brint Carlton, county judge for Orange County, turned in his letter of resignation, April 2018.

Carlton accepted the position of Executive Director of the Texas Medical Board in Austin, according to a press release.

Commissioners Court will discuss accepting his resignation at the 2 p.m. Tuesday meeting and also appointing a replacement for the County Judge position until December 31, 2018, whereas, the newly elected County Judge will take office on January 1, 2019.


  1. Teenager saves drowning victim

A day at the water was anything but for Bode Fountain, June 2018.

Bode, 15, of Orangefield, was swimming with some friends when the group noticed a person may be in trouble.

“At first we were not sure if he said help,” Bode said. “Then I heard him scream for help.”

Shavonn Fountain, Bode mother, was nearby watching a small child at the surf at the time and did not see her son’s heroic efforts.

“An adult girl was out there with him and three 11-12-year-olds, totally froze and Bode just jumped into action without thinking about it,” Shavonn said. “All the kids with him came back wide-eyed and all talking over each other.”

She did see the near-drowning victim make it to the shore and collapse.

Bode swam out to the man and was able to grab his arms so Bode could bring them both to shore safely.

“I could tell something had happened to him, but not that my son had just saved his life,” Shavonn said.


  1. Orange Leader Athletes of the year 1974-2018

Van Wade/Orange Leader


Bridge City pitcher Kassidy Wilbur delivers a pitch against Orangefield last season. Wilbur, the Leader’s Female Athlete of the Year the last two seasons, is now at SFA University, participating for the Lady Jacks softball team.


West Orange-Stark’s Jarron Morris was named The Leader Male Athlete of the Year while Bridge City’s Kassidy Wilbur was the Leader Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight year. This has been a very popular feature for the paper over the years starting back in 1974 when just four sports were recognized and just one Athlete of the Year. It expanded to having both a Male and Female Athlete of the Year in 1999 and every sport was honored starting in 2000.


  1. Mayor wants to bring ice cream trucks back to Orange

With National Ice Cream Sandwich Day set for August 2, it brings recognition to the lack of ice cream trucks patrolling the streets of Orange.

City of Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr. asked the council to change a city ordinance against ice cream trucks, July 2018.

“I would like to change the ordinance against ice cream trucks,” Spears said. “Let’s work on it.”

The ordinance was changed and ice cream trucks are welcomed on the streets in the city of Orange.


  1. Its official Mustangs are states all-time best

Mark Pachuca/Orange Leader

WO-S current head coach Cornel Thompson (left) and legendary Mustang coach Dan Hooks (right) celebrate after the Mustangs became the all-time winningest team by percentage in the history of the state of Texas.


What a history for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs football program. Since 1977 they have played for eight Class 4A State Championships, bringing home state titles four times. They had four straight state appearances from 2014-17. On Oct. 12 they defeated the Silsbee Tigers to lay claim to the best all-time winning percentage in the state of Texas’ history. The Mustangs now own a record of 406-98-3 since 1977 for an amazing .804 winning percentage.