2003: A Year In Review

We begin our look back at 2003 with two of the top football teams in the state taking the ten and nine spots in our top ten. It seemed unlikely that Garrison and San Augustine, coming out of the same district, would both win the state championship in their divisions, but that is exactly what happened.

At number eight is one of the worst animal cruelty cases in East Texas history. Dozens of cats, left to starve inside a Crockett home. The owners, Frank and Nelda Callier, were arrested, but criminal charges were later dropped because the 2-year statute of limitations in that kind of case had run out.

We stay in Houston County for number seven, with the tragic shooting of a lovelady family. On May 14th, Nathan and Annette Copeland were allegedly shot and killed after their neighbor, Barney Fuller, Jr., charged into their home. Fuller is also accused of shooting the Copelands' 14-year-old son, Cody, four times.

Number six was mixed news for Angelina County, depending on which side of the prison bars you're on. The county opened it's new law enforcement center in the Spring, more than doubling the number of inmate beds and giving the sheriff's office a high-tech advantage in surveillance.

Number five is a drama that is still playing out in federal court. From state representatives on the run...to heated town hall meetings, congressional redistricting became a sore spot for Republicans and Democratics alike. The final decision on the new map's legality could lead to major changes in how East Texans are represented in Washington.

At number four, is alleged murderer Scott Eizember. After six weeks of hiding from the largest manhunt in Oklahoma history, Eizember was arrested here in East Texas in November. He had been shot three times by an Arkansas couple as they attempted to escape from the fugitive.

Number three, is the loss of an economic mainstay in East Texas. After more than 60 years in business Abitibi Consolidated announced it will close the doors on the lufkin paper mill for what could be the final time. Nearly 600 people will lose their jobs. For many of them, it's the only thing they've ever done.

Number two is the death of three East Texas soldiers as America went to war in Iraq. Joseph Suell of Lufkin, Stuart Moore of Livingston, and Stephen Wyatt of Kilgore, were among the 33 Texans who have died since the war began in March.

And at number one is a story that changed East Texas and the world forever. The Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy proved to be a defining moment in the lives of thousands of law enforcement and volunteers who took up the mission of returning the Columbia and it's crew of seven home. It is safe to say that February First 2003 is a date that won't be soon forgotten by anyone in East Texas.