Top local news stories of 2022

Dec. 31—Editor's Note: After reviewing the stories that made the local news in 2022, we narrowed down our picks for the Top 10 to include stories that captured the most attention throughout the year. We invite you to follow along with the news of the day in 2022 through our print and digital outlets: The printed edition of the Jacksonville Daily Progress; our web presence at; and our Facebook page at

Jacksonville's 150th Anniversary

The residents of Jacksonville celebrated the city's 150th anniversary throughout 2022. Events included as a part of the celebration were the unearthing of the time capsule buried in 1092, with the contents revealed; the installation of a historical marker in Hazel Tilton Park; A Walk Through History, featuring local residents portraying Jacksonville pioneers; an all-day, downtown street festival; and the burial of a time capsule to be opened in 2072.

A series of memoirs, supplied by long-term residents of Jacksonville, was published each week beginning in January and running through the first week of November. The memoirs, along with reports on the various celebratory events were published in a book, Recollections of Jacksonville: A Sesquicentennial Memoir 1872-2022, which is now available for purchase at the Vanishing Texana Museum.

Community groups coordinate revitalization effort for Lincoln Park area

The Fred Douglass Alumni Association and Fred Douglass Community Development Corporation called their first public meeting Jan. 15 to discuss revitalization efforts. The three-phase project includes park renovation, housing improvements and the building of a community center. Some park improvements have been completed, as has a Neighbors Helping Neighbors campaign providing simple home improvements to three homes in the community. The city is applying for grant assistance to help fund a portion of planned improvements.

Jacksonville city council authorizes purchases of golf course, clubhouse

In January, the Jacksonville city council authorized the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation's expenditure of up to $1.6 million for the purchase of the Cherokee Ranch Golf Course, approximately 160 acres of real property.

In February, the city council approved a resolution ratifying the terms and conditions of a sales agreement which allows the city to purchase the clubhouse, approximately 3 acres of land, at Cherokee Ranch Golf Club. The stated intent of the purchase was to renovate the clubhouse for use as a city civic center.

Both properties, located at 14881 US 79 and outside city limits at the time of purchase, were annexed in September.

Alto ISD dedicates three new school buildings

Alto ISD dedicated three new school buildings in May, including a new Alto High School building, Alto High School Gymnasium and the Booker T. Washington Elementary Gymnasium. The high school basketball floor was named the DeVonte Mumphrey Basketball Court in honor of the Yellowjacket player who tragically passed away during a basketball game earlier in the year. The buildings replace those that were destroyed by tornadoes in the spring of 2019.

New Summerfield ISD moves to four-day school week

In May, the New Summerfield school district announced it would move to a four-day school week beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. The district stated remediation Fridays were included in the school calendar to provide additional learning opportunities for students.

Hotel fire leaves five injured

In June, the Jacksonville Fire Department responded to a fire at a four-story residence on El Paso St., known as the Hotel Ritual. Assistance from additional agencies was necessary to extinguish the fire. Firefighters were treated on the scene for minor injuries and one was transported to the hospital. Two heat-related injuries to bystanders in the crowd were also reported. An investigation revealed the cause of the fire to be an electrical issue.

Over $430,000 missing from tax office

Although not noted publicly until July, a January internal audit of Cherokee County offices and departmental accounts revealed a discrepancy of $431,375.91 related to the tax office. Findings were presented to the district attorney's office.

In July, when the audit findings became public, District Attorney Elmer Beckworth confirmed the Texas Rangers were investigating the matter.

Fred Douglass Alumni Association celebrated a century since school's founding

The Fred Douglass Alumni Association, which normally meets on a bi-annual basis on odd-numbered years, gathered in July this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Fred Douglass High School.

The public portions of the centennial celebration included a movie night, featuring The Piano Lesson, in which Jacksonville native Tommy Hollis played a role; a downtown parade; the unveiling of a memorial marker, featuring the original dedication marker of the Fred Douglass High School; the burial of a time capsule and a charge to the Fred Douglass Elementary to continue the legacy of Fred Douglass, along with a reminder to unearth the time capsule in 50 years.

Brook Hill celebrates 25 years, breaks ground on final phase of founder's vision

The Brook Hill School, entering its 25th year, broke ground on the final phase of the founder's original vision for the school, a fine arts center. Named The Soules Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, the facility will include specialized classrooms for vocal, instrumental, dramatic and visual arts instruction and a 700-seat auditorium, which will serve as a chapel. Money raised through the Boldly Brook Hill Campaign will fund the building of the fine arts center and several other improvements on campus.

Jacksonville's National Night Out places second in nation

The Jacksonville Police Department, for the second year, conducted a city-wide street festival downtown on Oct. 4. The National Night Out event drew over 5,000 people. The event featured food, games, information booths, police and fire vehicles, performances by the Jacksonville High School drum line, cheerleaders, twirlers, Charmers and the Jacksonville Middle School cheerleaders. Over 50 bicycles were given away in a coloring contest, in partnership with the local school district.

The event was recognized as second in the nation for cities with a population between 5,000 and 14,999.