Cherokee County officials, with the help of state and federal agents, took a huge bite out of crime this summer when they found and destroyed the largest single amount of marijuana in the county's history, some 18,000 plants with a street value of an estimated $18.2 million.
According to an Aug. 31 story in the Jacksonville paper, Sheriff James Campbell said the plants were seized from an area just off the bank of the Angelina River just south of FM 343 on the eastern border of the county. The plants, which covered about four to five acres located in different spots along the site, were seized as part of a Domestic Marijuana Eradication, in which the sheriff's department, Texas Department of Public Safety narcotics officers, DEA agents and the Army National Guard worked together.
The plants – which ranged from 12 inches to 8 feet in height – filled the back of a truck and two 16-foot trailers, and were destroyed under a destruction order issued by the court. Officers worked overnight and into the following day to confiscate the yield.
Campbell said the site was planned and well-maintained with water pumps, shelters and camping sites complete with food, even a garden with tomatoes and squash growing. The pot-growing culprits fled the scene before agents arrived, and no suspects were arrested.
- Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville ISD growing and thriving
In 2012, Jacksonville ISD saw successful completion of four construction projects funded through a $49.8 million bond voters approved in November 2010. Pogue Construction of McKinney was contractor on all the projects, said Dr. Joe Wardell, JISD superintendent. Two new 85,000-square-foot buildings were constructed at the Joe Wright and East Side elementary campuses; the building that formerly house East Side's program was razed. Fred Douglass Elementary received a new cafeteria, and the building once used to serve meals for students was renovated into classrooms. The Douglass campus also saw its library expanded. Both new schools opened in time for the beginning of the 2012 school year, while projects at Fred Douglass wrapped up early in the fall semester.
At the high school campus, students were using the new cafeteria by mid-October, but according to district public information officer Marc McCloud, projects that called for renovating the former cafeteria into a bandhall and the addition of a new wing with eight science labs are still ongoing.
- Jo Anne Embleton