2012 in review

January – After a December termination of then Aberdeen School District superintendent, Chester Leigh, officials from the Mississippi Department of Education meet with the Aberdeen School Board regarding the state of the district and chances they have to set the district back on track. The school board votes 5-0 to appoint director of operations Bobby Eiland as interim superintendent.
The Mississippi Business Journal selects two Smithville restaurants – Mel’s Diner and Doughbelly’s – as “Businesspeople of the Year.”
The Monroe County School Board approves a partnership with the Gilmore Early Learning Initiative for promise schools.
Cecil Cantrell is sworn in as Monroe County Sheriff and Billy Kirkpatrick is re-elected as president of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

February – An EF-0 tornado touches down on Feb. 1 damaging a mobile home in the Sipsey Fork community on the eastern edge of the county. Damage is reported throughout the whole county.
A single engine plane crashes down on Lost Corner Road, between Smithville and Nettleton, hospitalizing its pilot from Memphis. In July, the National Transportation and Safety Board determined icy conditions and lack of fuel were the cause of the crash.
The first of four hearings throughout the spring begins for former ASD superintendent Chester Leigh in regards to his termination due to unauthorized purchase of two vehicles for ASD campus police department.
On Feb. 29, Aberdeen aldermen vote to reinstate Royce Steven to the Aberdeen School Board.
Amory School District superintendent Gearl Loden takes a job as superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District.

March – First Lady Deborah Bryant makes the first of several appearances in Smithville throughout the year at a town hall meeting March 7. Smithville residents gather the next day to suggest ideas of how to rebuild Smithville through Mississippi State’s Community Assets program.
The Gilmore Foundation hires Cathy Grace as director of childhood development; Grace is described as one of the nation’s leading directors of childhood development.
The Aberdeen School Board votes to elect Royce Stephens board president.

April – Reggy Kelly is keynote speaker for the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce banquet.
Aberdeen voters elect new aldermen for Ward 2 Wilchie Clay, Ward 3 Sammie Burroughs, Ward 4 Dean Irvin. Cecil Belle wins the mayor’s seat in a runoff election against Maurice Howard.
The 34th Annual Railroad Festival draws a record crowd of 65,000.
The Mississippi Department of Education takes over the Aberdeen School District citing the district in violation of 31 or 37 state standards. Conservator Bob Strebeck is selected to serve over the school district.

May – County star and actress Reba McEntire makes her second appearance in Aberdeen since December, retracing the steps of the NBC reality show “Who Do You Think You Are,” partially filmed at Evans Memorial Library.
Tony Cook is named superintendent of the Amory School District.
Skylar Laine Harden, who has family connections to Aberdeen, is leaves the final four contestants of “American Idol.”
The Hamilton benefit, “Riding for the Holloways,” for cancer patient, Angela Holloway, raises $27,000.
Season 2 of sitcom “Melissa and Joey” starring Amory actress Taylor Spreitler premieres on ABC Family.
The Monroe County Board of Supervisors begins work on a vicious dog ordinance.
Aberdeen kicks off its yearlong celebration for its 175th anniversary.

June – Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mike Mills dismisses charges against former West Amory Elementary School principal, Leigh Todd. Todd faced controversy in 2011 for making an eight-year-old student stick his tongue out as punishment. Todd was terminated from her position.

July – Aberdeen business owners Jeff and Susan Doty purchase Big Star, which had previously been run by a board of directors for 53 years.
Mike King of Greenwood Springs is named new county administrator.
The GEM House opens by Aberdeen’s First United Methodist Church as a tribute to youth member Elise Mobley, who lost her life in 2011.

August – Smithville adopts an official brand of the town.
Aberdeen inks a deal to bring in a biofuel to the town’s port.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office makes a meth lab bust in an apartment next door to Hamilton School.
Sen. Bruce Wiggins and Rep. Alex Monsour tour the ports of Aberdeen and Amory as part of a statewide tour of ports.
Aberdeen adopts a saggy pants ordinance.

September – A second lawsuit is filed in federal court accusing former Smithville High School head coach Dwight Bowling of sexual improprieties.
Aberdeen Civil Rights champion General Young is laid to rest.
Amory barber Brian Jones is struck by a car while jogging on Dalrymple Drive.
Aberdeen Main Street celebrates its 19th birthday.
Former Aberdeen School District superintendent John Curlee passes away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

October – Aberdeen welcomes home the 223rd unit of the National Guard after a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Amory is awarded a Let’s Play Grant.
The attorney general’s office takes over an investigation about an alleged altercation between Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Randle and officer Jason Franks in the Aberdeen Police Department.
Amory’s Community Bank, formerly Security Bank, celebrates its 100th birthday.

November – Amory celebrates its 125th birthday with a celebration in Frisco Park and later buries a time capsule to be opened in 2087.
Aberdeen votes to amend its city charter, which would make the chief of police position appointed instead of elected if it passes through hurdles.
Amory native and former Tuskegee Airman Herbert E. Carter passes away at 95.
The board of supervisors approve a $3 million road bond.
Aberdeen breaks ground on a new hotel/economic development at Stinson Industrial Park.

December – Amory aldermen vote to make the chief of police position an appointed position instead of an elected one and rescind the vote two weeks later. The Monroe County Home closes its doors.
Monroe County mourns the loss of 26 people lost in a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.