The year 2019 is now in the books, and a lot happened throughout Webster County.
Here are some of the highlights from each month, as a reminder of where we've been and perhaps a taste of where we're going in 2020.
We at The Mail resolve to bring you the news you need throughout the new year — just as we have since 1892.
• Citizens began meeting Jan. 9 about a new Route 66 roadside park, to be constructed as part of the new interchange project in Marshfield. Their vision is part of the interchange project that is currently underway.
• Residents of South Prairie Lane showed the Marshfield Board of Aldermen that the squeaky wheel gets the grease as the neighbors showed up to the first meeting of the year in force Jan. 10 to demand that work commence. Their efforts worked; the worst parts of South Prairie Lane were repaired in the fall.
• Architectural Components Group, Inc., announced Jan. 24 that it was acquired by Armstrong World Industries, and a major expansion with new jobs would be soon to follow.
• A Marshfield woman, Michelle Lambeth, took a fight to save summer to the Missouri House of Representatives, where she testified on behalf of the Missouri Canoe and Floaters Association and as a Marshfield R-1 school mom. The legislator voted in favor of Lambeth's cause, and Missouri schools are now forbidden from starting sooner than 10 days before the first Monday in September.
• In sports news, the Strafford girls basketball team broke the record for the longest winning streak in Missouri State High School Activities Association girls basketball history with its 103rd consecutive win against Republic on Jan. 24. The record they broke was held by the 1987-90 Marshfield Lady Jays. Republic was the team that ultimately broke Strafford’s streak this past Friday at the Pink & White Lady Classic at Drury University.
• The Feb. 13 edition of The Marshfield Mail touted "Justice Center nearing completion: Community festivities, fun planned for coming months." Late delivery of an elevator, a change in construction management and other delays have belied that promise, and almost a year after that story, a completion date has not yet been set.
• Marshfield Police and the Webster County Sheriff's Office teamed up for a big raid on a Webster County residence Feb. 12. Some 1,500 prescription pills were taken off the street. “When you get rid of the drugs, it keeps theft down, keeps crimes against property and break-ins down, and it reduces the number of crimes against people," Marshfield Police Chief Doug Fannen said in a story about the raid.
• The largest bridge ever built on a county road was opened to fanfare March 5, as residents and county officials gathered for a ribbon cutting for the Gourley Ford bridge.
• Marshfield High School senior projects helped a large number of community causes with volleyball and cheer camps, agriculture instruction, a charity concert, a fashion show and more.
• Marshfield teen Emily Aldridge and her mother, Jennifer, were guests on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" following a viral video in which a sedated Emily bemoaned Ellen not being present to support her during her oral surgery.
• A tax levy proposed for the Niangua fire district went down in flames April 9, to the disappointment of the firefighters. Chief Shawn Ricks told The Mail, "We try so hard — I try so hard — to give them a good service that they can depend on, and the community keeps telling us no when we ask for what we need to make that happen." The money would have paid a loan on a tanker truck purchased in 2018, among other expenses.
• Voters OK'd a Logan-Rogersville R-VIII bond and tax levy. The bond was to fund safety and security improvements, and the tax levy was for operating funds.
• Voters also approved a $7.5 billon bond issue to renovate existing facilities in the Strafford R-VI district.
• Another Cherry Blossom Festival came and went, with visits from a number of presidential relatives, TV stars and other dignitaries. A highlight was a new play about the life of one of Webster County’s most fascinating citizen. “The Secret Veil” told the story of Helen Jackson, the last living Civil War widow, who continues to reside here.
• An EF2 tornado hit Rogersville on April 30 and damaged dozens of homes. The twister bypassed Webster County.
• Dozens of area children lined up to cut the ribbon on the Marshfield City Pool May 17. Wielding the scissors was Adisyn Gray, who was in the fifth grade in 2012 when she approached the Board of Aldermen to request a pool. Gray had graduated from high school a week before the celebratory snip.
• An EF1 tornado hit Marshfield and the surrounding area May 21. The Wild Animal Safari near Strafford sustained some damage, but rumors of escaped animals were false.
• Webster County Commissioners engaged infrastructure consultancy firm Crawford, Murphy & Tilly to make plans for the growth that is predicted in the southern part of the county, along the U.S. Highway 60 corridor. This decision, announced in June, led to a series of listening meetings — three per city, held in Rogersville, Fordland, Diggins and Seymour.
• The first-ever Carnivor Festival was held June 15. The event featured a grilling competition (won by a Marshfield griller, Cooper Tyson), plus music, food and fun on the Marshfield square, all to celebrate the city’s history along historic Route 66.
• Former Marshfield High School agriculture teacher Kyle Whittaker was hired to a newly created agricultural specialist position with the Webster County office of University of Missouri Extension.
• "Jailhouse Rock" was the theme of the 140th Marshfield Independence Day Parade. Before the parade kicked off, state and local officials gathered to dedicate the Webster County Justice Center's clock, located on the front facade of the building.
• The Webster County Fair, held July 2-6, was once again a major highlight of the summer for county residents.
• In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1969, Marshfield's annual Reunion Fest honored eight veterans lost in the Vietnam War. They included William R. Gower, David M. Knight, Jack L. Bagley, Rex W. Highfill, Alan J. Ruddell, Clyde C. Owen, Jerry L. Petty and John M. Hansen, who ranged from the MHS Class of 1951 to 1966.
• Duane Lavery was hired as the very first director of economic development for the City of Marshfield.
• Emma Cary of Marshfield was the winer of the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games in the 14-15 age category.
• Recommendations for medical marijuana cards were issued to 141 people by traveling physician Dr. Zinia S. Thomas at the Laughing Dragon head shop/cannabis support center Aug. 26. These first Webster County cards were newly allowable following the Missouri voters' passage of an amendment legalizing medical marijuana in the state.
• The City of Marshfield dedicated Patriot Park, the setting of the new pool and future recreational development surrounding it, to veterans and first responders. The pool was christened as the Dr. Tommy Macdonnell Aquatic Center during the ceremony, to honor "Dr. Tommy," a local war hero, having served in the Normandy Invasion in World War II — and coincidentally as the city’s first-ever lifeguard during his youth.
• At its Sept. 12 meeting, the Marshfield Board of Aldermen voted to investigate options for the city’s trash services. Plans could include the city taking over residential trash service, or there could be no change in waste hauling. Before making a change, the city is required by law to announce its intention to consider a change two years in advance.
• Fordland teacher Melissa "Misty" Grandel was recognized as Missouri’s Teacher of the Year in a school celebration Sept. 25.
• The new Niangua Community Food Pantry opened in September.
• A tie in voting resulted in two people being named Marshfieldian of the Year. Winners John Brooks and Dr. William Messick were honored Oct. 5 at the annual meeting of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
• At the Oct. 10 meeting of the Marshfield Board of Aldermen, Mike Frazier, general manager of Web-Co Custom Industries, announced the Web-Co board’s intention to close its recycling facility at the end of the month. City and county officials scrambled to consider a plan to save the facility, only to learn that the Web-Co board was unwilling to continue.
• It was a day 54 years in the making, but on Nov. 18, ground was broken on a second interchange for the City of Marshfield. Local and state officials marked the occasion with remarks before a long line of people who had contributed to the effort wielded golden shovels to get the project underway.
• The results of the U.S. Highway 60 corridor study undertaken by the Webster County Commissioners were released, and $114.3 million in improvements were recommended. With the release of the study, the commissioners are poised to seek grant funding and to plan for anticipated growth along the corridor.
• The Niangua R-V School District and its superintendent and board were hit with two lawsuits for failure to pay overtime to hourly workers. That case will be heard in federal district court in Kansas City.
• The Marshfield Fire Protection District and the City of Marshfield announced plans to merge, if voters will approve a pair of ballot initiatives in the spring.
• On Nov. 26, Larry Allen Dinwiddie confessed to killing his wife, Cynthia Dianne Dinwiddie, and storing her remains in a freezer for four years. The body was found by a worker at McFadin Storage in Marshfield.
• Former Webster County Deputy Brent Grey pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation Nov. 27, immediately following a judge’s ruling that lewd photos from his iPhone would not be surpassed as evidence in the case.
• The City of Marshfield was sued by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt Dec. 9 for allegedly enforcing traffic ticket quotas. The lawsuit also alleges that the city’s police chief tried to intimidate a whistleblower. The city learned of the lawsuit when contacted by The Mail for a comment, following a statewide news release by the Attorney General. Official notification arrived two days later.
• At its last meeting of the year, held Dec. 12, the Marshfield Board of Aldermen opted to hold off on completing its 2020 budget until it has a chance for more information and discussion. The Priority 1 budget, covering expenditures necessary for the city to continue operating at its current level without interruption, was passed at the board’s sole November meeting.