A new year, a clean slate and a fresh boost of motivation will act as the driving force in 2001 as the Brady Standard-Herald brings its readers the latest up-to-date news coverage and advertisements. But what about the news of the past’ Will the hottest topics and controversial events that made headlines in 2000 be chalked up to news of yesteryears and eventually forgotten’ News and controversial events brought to the forefront in 2000 will mold and shape the news items in 2001 and beyond. Everything from drastic weather conditions to controversy in Council Chambers covered the front pages in 2000. As is tradition with the coming of a new year, the Brady Standard-Herald rated the hottest news topics in its “Top Ten” list and provides its readers a chance to review and reflect on the issues that affected Brady and McCulloch County over the past 12 months. Whether it was no weather to dry weather to seemingly sopping wet weather, the climate and Mother Nature was always a big interest in 2000 and has earned first place on our “Top Ten” list. A bitter scare that first took light in 1999 when McCulloch County got its worst rain season in 10 years, Brady and much of Texas jumped into 2000 under severe drouth-like conditions. The word drouth took on a whole new meaning in McCulloch County in 1999 and the first half of 2000. The meaning focused on a reality that few hoped to contemplate, but most had come to expect. The reality was that without the precipitation needed to make the land and agriculture prosperous, McCulloch County, along with the majority of other Texas counties, suffered tremendously. In January 2000, the rain gauge got off to a slow start the first two weeks of the month with 0.35 inch of recorded precipitation, 0.75 inch short of the monthly average. The first rainstorm of 2000 didn’t give much satisfaction to Brady Lake either as only 0.20 inch was reported. In FEBRUARY, the Heart of Texas and area farmers and ranchers got a glimmer of hope when the dry conditions brought on in earlier months were dampened when rainfall measured up to one inch or better across the county. Amounts ranging from 0.48 inch to 1.25 inches were recorded all across the county. By MARCH it was proof positive that Mother Nature works in mysterious ways as reported rain totals ranged from 3.0 inches on the north side of town to a disheartening 0.15 inch on the south side. Small pea-sized to marble-sized hail accompanied the showers but quickly dissipated with the storm. Less than one inch of precipitation made it to the ground in APRIL with Brady recording 0.92 inches. The average monthly total for April was 2.10 inches. By April and with a minimum amount of rainfall recorded, Brady was already close to three inches under the average rainfall total. MAY brought a million dollar rain to McCulloch County’well, parts of McCulloch County anyway. East Sweden gauged an official 5.26 inches of precipitation followed by Rochelle with 4.00 inches, and Brady with 3.90. The western portion of McCulloch County didn’t fare as well. Melvin reported only 0.40 inch and Calf Creek registered 0.60. The northern portion was just a bit better with 1.00 inch at Fife and 1.33 at Doole. Weekend showers, caused by a tropical depression from the Gulf of Mexico, were just what the doctor ordered for McCulloch County in mid-JUNE. As usual, the showers were spotty with the lowest amount in the county being gauged at Melvin where a mere 0.20 inch was measured and in Calf Creek where the largest precipitation, 2.40 inches was recorded. In JULY hail and high winds ripped through the community causing damage to local residences and businesses. Some eyewitnesses caught in the storm claimed the high winds appeared to be tornado-like, but no official reportings were ever recorded. The brief storm did provide some much needed rain for persons within the city limits, however. Some areas received as much as 0.90 inch while areas east and west of the city limits barely received a drop. Brady officially received 0.49 inch. By AUGUST, Brady fell back into the danger zone with only 0.18 inch of rain recorded, a desperate 2.32 inches under the monthly average. Little rain fell in SEPTEMBER and dry conditions added to deadly lightning strikes that accompanied the showers cast a fierce fire frenzy across McCulloch and surrounding counties. By the next month things started looking up for Brady when in mid-October upwards of 1-1.60 inches of precipitation fell in the Heart of Texas. The folks in Lohn recorded the largest amount of precipitation in October, gauging 1.60 inches; however, nearby Pear Valley was short-changed with only 0.53 inch. Prayers were answered all across McCulloch County in NOVEMBER when 10.82 inches of rain fell over a three-week period. In November, the total rainfall to date put Brady well over the average 25.00 inches, registering 31.23. In DECEMBER, with plenty of warning and right on schedule, an Arctic cold front packing frigid temperatures blew threw Brady and dropped temperatures more than 15 degrees in a matter of minutes. Temperatures remained in the low to mid-20s in the first part of December with wind chills as low as 0′. The Arctic blast of cold weather was said by area forecasters to be the most severe cold weather to hit the region since December 1997 and January 1998. H Mass exodus from City Hall The first resignation Brady and Central Texas heard about this year was tendered in October when after 13 years with the City of Brady, City Manager Gary Broz accepted the same title position in Port Lavaca. On Broz’s last day employed with the City of Brady, Nov. 10, the mayor, three councilmen and the city secretary also tendered their resignations, each stating personal differences and inability to work with councilman Larry Sharp as the specific reason for tendering their resignations. The resignations didn’t hold out long when Jack Browning stepped back up to the plate and rescinded his resignation. Immediately following, on Nov. 17, City Hall was once again the hub of activity when Mayor Clarence Friar, Councilmen Donald Barley and Matt Mills and City Secretary Christi McAnally rescinded their letters of resignation as well and resumed their status as members of the Brady city government. On Tuesday, Nov. 21, during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting and with all members present and accounted for, Councilman Larry Sharp threw another surprise at Brady residents and members of the Council when he read his resignation during the open meeting. After reading an address to the Council and audience members, Sharp excused himself from the rest of the Nov. 21 meeting, and in the following meeting, his resignation was unanimously approved by all members of the Council. A special election to fill the vacated Place 1 on the Council will be held Jan. 20 at City Hall. H Multimillion $$ water plant ordinance passed by council The City of Brady received word in March that Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved a $9,405,000 loan to the city to be used for water system improvements. Funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the grant included $3,290,000 that does not have to be repaid by the City. The TWDB evaluated the necessary criteria and determined Brady to be qualified to receive the 30-year, zero interest rate loan. The loan includes the forgiveness of a portion of the loan principal which will help finance improvements in the City’s water system. The proposed water treatment facility at Brady Lake will be designed to use existing aquifer water and combine it with lake water to produce an ecologically sound water source. With many local citizens opposed to the 30-year debt and eventually increased water rates, the Council continued with their initial intentions to construct the water treatment plant and passed the ordinance on all three of its readings. H Expect no prayer before football games Private speech versus public speaking’the distinction between the two was the reason students, parents and the general public who attended Friday night football games across the country didn’t hear pregame prayer. No thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was argued on March 29, 2000, and decided on June 19, 2000, student-led prayers at organized school events are now deemed unconstitutional. The decision came following the filing of a lawsuit by a Santa Fe, Tex., woman against the Santa Fe ISD on behalf of her children. The case and its decision have sparked numerous debates and questions about who can say what at public schools and what is or is not considered freedom of speech. In Brady, and in countless schools across the nation, school districts implemented a “moment of silence” in place of the traditional student-led prayer session. H Wildfires ravage McCulloch and surrounding counties The local firefighters had a tough time breathing clear air this year as they hopelessly battled numerous structural and ranchland fires in both our back yard and our neighbors’. A fire on the 4K Land and Cattle Company property had firefighters all over the state of Texas battling the blaze for days on end. Shifting winds blew flames back and forth across the wooded terrain, and the size and intensity of the fire prompted Texas Forest Service officials to call in state resources to aid in fighting the fire. The outburst in fires in the local community and the lack of adequate equipment prompted the Brady Fire Department’s request and eventual City Council approval for a new fire truck. H Domestic abuse shelter first of its kind in McCulloch Several doors were opened in Brady in 2000 including a set of doors to “The Haven,” McCulloch County’s newly organized shelter for victims of domestic violence. The Haven is the result of a concerted effort by numerous citizens to provide a 24-hour shelter for victims and their families. The building, formerly known as Shuffield Nursing Home No. 1, was donated to The Haven by the Jim Shuffield Family. It was slightly modified and renovated to meet certain building code and security specifications required of shelters. H Local businesses close doors It was a sad year for many local businessmen and its regular patrons when several well-known establishments bid their farewells in 2000 and permanently closed their doors. Among those who shut down were Mary’s Closet on the square in Brady, Western Auto which fronted West Commerce Street for more than 50 years, Hepburn’s Plantland on Hwy. 87 North and Lintz’s Department Store, also on the downtown square in Brady. H County courthouse celebrates 100th birthday With 100 years under her belt, the McCulloch County Courthouse is nothing short of historical. The building, which was built to reflect the Romanesque Revival style, was constructed of sandstone from local quarries. Thomas Netherwood, an Englishman, was retained by the county to act as project superintendent for the sum of $3 per day. The local Masonic Lodge laid the cornerstone on Sept. 29, 1899. Work proceeded at a rapid pace, and the courthouse was presented for final acceptance less than one year later. In the county’s most recent request for a grant from the Texas Historical Commission, county officials were denied any funds to help in the restoration of the 100-year-old structure. H Keep Brady Beautiful targets forgotten area Residents on Carey Avenue in Southeast Brady got an overwhelming sigh of relief when “Keep Brady Beautiful” moved in to “take out the garbage”‘trash that had by neglect and ignorance been allowed to accumulate over the years in an illegal dumping site. Close to 200 tons of garbage, yard debris and demolition material was removed from the area, and that estimate included only the non-recyclable material. An estimated 3,000 tires were gathered and deposited at the clean-up site, 500 of which were taken from the illegal dumping site while the remainder was hauled in from individuals, businesses and both the city and county. An estimated $6,880 was saved through the donation of time and heavy machinery from local businesses and the city and county. H Stearns still awaiting trial Sparking the controversial side of scandal and in what may well be the biggest investment scheme ever to hit McCulloch County, over 100 McCulloch County residents were taken in an apparent scheme by Brian Russell Sterns in 1999. In 2000, several McCulloch County investors met with attorneys in an attempt to retain the money invested with Stearns, who still remains in jail today awaiting a trial. Civil and criminal cases are still pending and have been delayed several times in order to gather more evidence.