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A deep freeze was felt throughout Goliad County as Winter Storm Uri wrecked the Coastal Bend. (Photo by Thomas Leffler)

The year 2021 was certainly not any easier than 2020. The news cycle never truly sleeps during the best of times after all. Let us take a look back at some of the most interesting and important stories 2021 brought to Goliad County.

String of thefts

At the beginning of the month of February, Goliad County faced a string of burglaries in the Schroeder area. This rash of thefts led the county sheriff’s office on the trail of three local thieves, as reported in our Feb. 18 issue.

On Feb. 9, the Goliad County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant on Crockett Drive after previously identifying possible suspects believed to have been responsible for the burglaries and thefts. The search led to the recovery of stolen items as well as methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the location of the search.

Items that were recovered included several vehicles such as a UTV off-road vehicle from Calhoun County and another UTV from Gonzales County. Other items included a log splitter, a flatbed trailer, two kayaks, a leather western saddle, a Kubota generator and a John Deere air compressor.

Items from a then-recent burglary of the Precinct 4 barn and other items from across the region were found as well.

The arrested trio, Dusty Riedel, Bobby Hodge and Destiny Broyles, faced numerous charges.

“We are confident the arrests will solve numerous offenses and help reduce criminal activity in the area in which the suspects operated,” Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd said.

Charges for Riedel were theft in an amount between $2,500 and $30,000, possession of dangerous drugs, burglary of a building, burglary of a vehicle (two counts), theft of a motor vehicle (two counts) and criminal mischief (four counts for felony cutting cattle fence).

Hodge was charged with theft in an amount between $2,500 and $30,000, possession of a controlled substance, burglary of a building, burglary of a vehicle (two counts), theft of a motor vehicle (two counts) and criminal mischief (four counts for felony cutting cattle fence).

Broyles was given two charges, one for theft between $2,500 and $30,000, and for possession of a dangerous drug.

Goliad great goes for world stage

It is always exciting when the possibility of someone local entering the world stage becomes a potential reality. Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler was one such individual from Goliad. Zamzow is a professional heptathlon athlete. She was a champion on the state, collegiate and national levels. In our June 17 issue, she decided to try to enter the world stage as an Olympic athlete.

The 2021 Olympic Trials were held on June 26 and 27 in Eugene, Oregon. Unfortunately, the trip to Eugene, Oregon, was plagued with poor luck, as reported in our July 15 issue. During the trip, the RV that Zamzow and her husband Wolf Mahler were traveling in was hit by a truck on the passenger’s side.

“(He) knocked us into the other lane,” said Zamzow. “... the passenger seat is where the propane tank sits, so thankfully he didn’t hit us too hard or that would’ve been a mess.”

Zamzow was then diagnosed with nerve entrapment early in the trials, requiring aggressive treatment.

This, combined with the 110 degree weather, had her finish fifth amongst the athletes. Third place or higher is required to qualify for the Olympic Games. Some of the athletes even collapsed due to the heat and exhaustion.

While the situation was demoralizing at the time, Zamzow quickly bounced back and is excited to attempt to qualify for the 2022 World Championship in Eugene, Oregon.

Zamzow was inspired by the thoughts and well wishes from the Goliad community throughout her experience.

“After it just went terrible, I turned the phone back on and got so many people following and shooting me videos, so proud of me,” said Zamzow. “... It just really made me cry. I have people who believe in me and I have to keep going because I’m not just doing it for myself.”

Christmas in Goliad

Goliad brought in the Christmas spirit with its annual Christmas in Goliad event, as reported in our Dec. 16 issue. The event lasted a total of two days, Dec. 3-4, and was put together by the Goliad Historical Commission. On the night of Dec. 3, attendees were able to browse the wares of a large number of vendors and pop-up shops that were set up in the courthouse square for the occasion.

Along with the usual and new vendors that were in the courthouse square, attendees also enjoyed a lighted parade with over 60 different entrants. This was the largest number of participants the Goliad Historical Commission has ever seen.

Dec. 4 brought new festivities in the morning, as Santa Claus arrived in style, riding a large reinsteer. The reinsteer tradition is unique to Goliad, as Santa usually rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

After his arrival, Santa Claus sat in the Christmas tree forest so children could tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

Two Goliad residents, Suzan and Philip Wann, mentioned that part of the reason they moved to Goliad recently was because of events like Christmas in Goliad.

“I just like the way everybody got into the decorations and the spirit of the community like that,” said Philip.

What began as a fundraiser in 1983 is still going strong decades later.

Texas deep freeze

Early in the year, Texas faced a catastrophe the likes of which brought the state to a standstill.

In our Feb. 25 issue, it was reported that Winter Storm Uri hit the Coastal Bend, including Goliad County, bringing with it record low temperatures for the entire area. The storm brought with it a loss of power, leaving Goliad residents without the essential services they have come to expect.

Temperatures were brought to below freezing, causing major damage to an infrastructure that was not prepared for the low temperatures.

One of the major issues that came with the storm was mass power outages throughout the state, including Goliad County. Thousands were left without power and heat for an extended period of time. The freeze took out multiple power plants, forcing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to interrupt service to mitigate further damage to the plants.

Initially, ERCOT had planned to roll the blackout so citizens would not be left too long without power at a given time. However, as the storm raged on, ERCOT shifted focus to maintaining power at critical services such as hospitals.

By Feb. 16, a little over 50% of the county was without power. The storm disrupted communication lines with the local government. The sheriff’s office was without power starting Feb. 14. Although a generator powered the jail and dispatch, the office was left with no access to computers, heating, light or cellular connectivity.

County Judge Mike Bennett spoke with AEP representatives on the morning of Feb. 16 to discuss a timeframe for power restoration. Bennett was told that power would be restored by Feb. 18 with a little luck. On Feb. 17, power was slowly being restored to the county, and by Feb. 18, close to 98% of Goliad County had power.

Although power had been restored, the low temperatures caused major damage to water lines throughout the state. Roadways were also damaged.

County officials were able to set up a warming center at the Julie Wimberly Building. Bennett acquired a generator to provide power while Derrick O’Neal and Commissioners Kenneth Edwards and Alonzo Morales aided by providing cots and blankets.

Winter Storm Uri also put distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine on hold.

Boyd back for more

With all the effort that Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd brought to the position this year, it is extremely difficult to pick just one story thread to feature in our look back at 2021. However, maybe it would be best to look back at the one that started it all.

Boyd took over as county sheriff on Jan. 1, according to our Jan. 21 issue. Boyd had been a longtime leader in law enforcement, having had 27 years of experience in the field, however his position in Goliad was his most fulfilling, becoming sheriff in the county he grew up in.

“(I) really enjoyed it,” Boyd said of his time growing up in the Goliad area. “It’s a really good county to live in. It’s a good place to raise your family. It’s a good place to be raised. The county is predominantly populated by some of the nicest people that you’ll ever meet anywhere.”

Boyd had started in law enforcement out of high school, joining the Victoria Police Department in 1994.

Boyd worked his way up from jailer to eventually becoming assistant chief of police. Upon returning from that position, Boyd trained at the Leadership Command College at Sam Houston State University and then at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Boyd returned to Victoria, working six years as chief deputy in the county sheriff’s office.

All this knowledge brought him right back where he started.

Boyd’s top priorities have been his battle against drug related crimes and border security issues.

Honorable mentions

While these were our top five stories for 2021, many other stories were considered for retrospective. Honorable mentions include:

• Goliad vaccines top thousand mark

• Former judge, fire chief dies at 82

• Christmas trees find new home

•mtamez@mysoutex.com•

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