What to make of 2022? COVID, which had dominated the headlines and many lives for the preceding two years, faded to mostly background noise.
Monkeypox came and monkeypox went without most of us paying much attention — justifiably so. Inflation soared and interest rates rose as a result. The boiling housing market showed some signs of cooling.
There was human joy and human pain, political strife, good weather and bad, good news and bad news, just like every year.
So was 2022 a better year than 2021? That might be a matter of personal perspective.
What we know is The Daily News was there for most it and today we offer a review of those stories, some major, some just memorable, published during the newspaper’s 180th year.
• Some county residents learned they would need to enter 10 digits for 409 phone numbers to accommodate the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
• Mardi Gras promoters and parade organizers were getting back into the swing of planning one of the largest island events, which had been canceled last year because of the COVID pandemic.
• The Galveston Park Board of Trustees determined 3,411 registered short-term rentals were operating in the city, a number long in question and lower than estimated. It had grown considerably by the end of the year.
• Newly built Clear View High School opened, allowing greater space for career and technical education programs.
• As students across Galveston County returned to classes, districts called in substitutes and staff members to fill in for teachers who had tested positive for COVID.
• Crews tore down a decades-old building on Postoffice Street to make way for a major expansion of Shriners Children’s Texas, which was consolidating operations in Galveston.
• Galveston neighbors headed to court over Buddy, a pot-bellied pig that had lived in the yard of a house on Ibis Drive for 10 years.
• Use of fake paper license plates was a growing problem in Galveston County.
• More than four years after Hurricane Harvey, the Texas General Land Office still was a year from completing construction of more than 6,000 apartments for low- and moderate-income residents.
• A Galveston man used a flag-draped coffin in attempt to smuggle people into the United States, federal prosecutors alleged. Zachary Taylor Blood, 33, pleaded guilty to alien smuggling charges.
• Berthed on the island, the Battleship Texas would generate enough money to sustain itself, a citizen-commissioned review found.
• Providence alone prevented a major disaster when a power outage “crashed” two refineries and caused one of the largest emission events in recent years, Texas City’s top emergency management official said.
• Sea levels in Galveston and other areas along the western Gulf of Mexico could rise between 14 inches and 18 inches over the next 30 years because of coastal subsidence and sea-level rise, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies warned.
• The Port of Galveston was penciling plans for a fourth cruise terminal.
• Fire destroyed the popular Kelley’s Country Cookin’ restaurant in League City. Owners hoped to reopen in February 2023.
• Ball High School was outdated and in need of replacement, Galveston ISD officials said. The district would ask voters to approve a new $233.9 million high school as part of a $315 million bond package.
• Local Ukrainians were showing support and seeking donations of everything from money to blood for their friends and family back home.
• Many oyster harvesters in the county were worried closure of three bays on the Texas coast would cripple the industry. State wildlife officials, however, worried not closing the bays would cripple oyster populations. Both worries got worse as the year went on.
• Galveston’s Park Board of Trustees proposed an $8 million to $11 million Stewart Beach office facility, a project trimmed down from about $25 million.
• Beachcomber Scott Pearse found a Sam Houston State University class ring and returned it Jennifer Soriano, who was set to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree. The ring was her motivation to persevere, she said.
• In what La Marque leaders said was the biggest economic news in 30 years, developer Jerome Karam and his wife, Leslie, acquired Gulf Greyhound Park with plans to transform it into a 12,000-seat A-list concert venue.
• Galveston’s City Marshal’s Office was under fire about interactions with residents and business operators, although officials said the marshals had only been doing their jobs enforcing codes and ordinances.
• Hitchcock ISD wanted a bigger cafeteria and more classrooms in its high school and a new career and technical education center and needed $42 million in bonds to make it all happen.
• COVID hospitalizations in Galveston County were at a two-year low. The number of those hospitalized was five.
• Texas City celebrated completion of a half-million dollar lighting project meant to make the downtown revitalization district along 6th Street a must-see attraction.
• Weather patterns portended a higher-than-average number of Atlantic storms during hurricane season, forecasters said.
• Galveston mourned the loss of Nancy Lefeber Hughes, a well-known and respected island doctor, who died in what police said was a hit-and-run crash on Seawall Boulevard.
• Five civil rights groups sued Galveston County, adding legal challenges against a redrawn precinct map used to determine how voters choose their elected leaders.
• Homeowners across the county were shocked to learn the assessed values of their properties had gone up again, just a year after many had absorbed steep increases.
• Meanwhile, residents across the county and the state had sticker shock from higher natural gas bills, which some experts attributed to simple supply-demand economics and others said was fallout from the 2021 winter freeze.
• Galveston ISD uncovered what was thought to be a cryptocurrency-mining operation underway at six different campuses.
• Pickleball, a sport named after a spaniel that kept stealing the ball from the players, had gotten wildly popular in League City.
• League City was considering requiring all dogs, cats and ferrets to be microchipped and decided pigs were pets with rules similar to those applying to dogs, cats and ferrets.
• Fewer people traveled to the island during the pandemic years, but spent more money, especially on lodging, according to Galveston’s park board.
• With the busy summer season bearing down, some business owners were having a hard time hiring anybody to do anything and were at a loss about what to do.
• Voters approved a massive $315 million Galveston ISD bond package that will set the district up with new academic and athletic facilities.
• A multi-lane closure that stranded drivers for hours along Interstate 45, disrupted services at a medical trauma center, sank birthing plans for expectant mothers and froze hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment at the Port of Galveston was the Texas Department of Transportation’s initial step in a major project to replace a crucial bridge.
• Many parents were desperately searching for baby formula amid a national shortage caused by a massive safety recall that swept many popular brands off the shelves.
• Nine months after announcing it would buy island-based American National Insurance Co., Brookfield Reinsurance said it had completed the acquisition in an all-cash transaction valued at $5.1 billion.
• Galveston County Judge Mark Henry appointed Dr. Robin Armstrong as the Precinct 4 commissioner, replacing longtime Commissioner Ken Clark, who had died the week before.
• For research into understanding the COVID-19 virus and for helping create the Pfizer vaccine that saved thousands of lives, Dr. Pei-Yong Shi was named The Daily News’ 2022 Citizen of the Year.
• A Dallas company founded by the son of self-made billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot acquired 540 acres in League City with plans to develop a master-planned community of 1,250 single-family lots.
• A $1 billion project to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel, one of nation’s busiest maritime arteries, got underway.
• The city of Galveston publicly committed to a new policing initiative that would create a unit to be dispatched when people are having mental health crises.
• The floating dry dock needed to make repairs to the USS Texas arrived at Gulf Copper Dry Dock & Rig Repair on Pelican Island after being towed from the Bahamas.
• The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office planned to buy a “tactical robot” using a $100,000 grant
• As drought continued, governments in Galveston County went on fire watch.
• Construction began on a $31 million health sciences building at Galveston College.
• “Drag queen story time” was canceled at a Galveston’s farmers market over what organizers said were “safety concerns,” but two council members had objected to the event being held on city property.
• High appraisals and a hot real-estate market were driving protests.
• About 200 people gathered in Galveston to show their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn of Roe v. Wade, which opened the door for states to restrict or ban abortions.
• Huge crowds hit the beaches in Galveston over the Fourth of July holiday, sparking safety concerns.
• Magnetic interference emitted by the seawall fouled the Galveston park board’s attempt to replace a fireworks display with a drone show.
• The League city council told staff to pursue grants as the city worked to secure $35 million to develop Bay Colony Park, a sports complex whose price tags made officials balk.
• Eric Williams, who joined Clear Creek ISD in November 2020 amid protest about critical race theory, said he would step down to help care for a family member.
• School districts were reassessing their security plans after a mass shooting in Uvalde that left 18 people dead.
• High fuel prices, labor shortages and an influx of cheap foreign imports greeted commercial harvesters on the official opening of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp season.
• Bolivar Peninsula was booming, but builders eager to capitalize on the demand for hundreds of homes said lack of sewer connections was stalling development.
• A cow stuck in the mud brought traffic to a crawl near the exit for Buc-ee’s on the Interstate 45 feeder road. Police weren’t sure exactly how the cow got there.
• Cleanup crews found a 27-year-old message in a bottle in La Marque’s Highland Bayou. The message was: “If not home, leave a message on the answering machine.” The number was no longer in service.
• Galveston County residents were looking for ways to cut costs as inflation rates hit historic highs.
• The Port of Galveston installed equipment to charge electric vehicles.
• With the end of a federal COVID program, many public school students in Galveston County had to resume paying for meals.
• Dr. Ben Raimer, president of the University of Texas Medical Branch, was placed on administrative leave.
• The federal government extradited three people from the United Kingdom in connection with scams defrauding more than $5 million from various U.S. victims, including Galveston County, which was hustled out of more than $500,000 in May 2018.
• Researchers hoped Galveston’s famous “ghost wolf” coyotes held the key to conserving and perhaps increasing the population of the critically endangered American red wolves.
• Schools districts in Galveston County were paying more to find and retain bus drivers.
• Numbers used to justify the petition drive that led to a tax rollback referendum in La Marque were derived through a miscalculation in worksheets completed by the Galveston County Tax Office, with data from the city’s finance department, accountants working for the city said.
• The Good Ole Days festival returned to Hitchcock. The year’s event was an important step toward rebuilding the festival after a decline in recent years, organizers said.
• After five deaths over eight days in what police alleged were drunk-driving crashes, Galveston fielded a special DWI task force.
• Texas City Independent School District removed its student-accessible WiFi network, joining others in the county seeking to reduce classroom distractions, online bullying and attacks on cybersecurity.
• Ben Raimer — a key leader at the University of Texas Medical Branch for decades who had been on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons — resigned.
• Texas City ISD called a $158 million bond referendum.
• The battleship USS Texas arrived safely from its former berth in La Porte to a drydock on Pelican Island for a restoration expected to take about a year.
• The Red, White & Bayou music festival returned to Dickinson after a five-year hiatus. The event had not been held since Hurricane Harvey inflicted catastrophic damage to homes and business across the city.
• A plague of deadly crashes police said involved drunk driving continued in Galveston when a SUV slammed into a Jeep, killing 14-year-old Ball High School student Mason Nelson and injuring three others. The accused driver had been paroled on a drunk-driving conviction just hours before. Sam Mixon, 14, also a freshman at Ball High School, died about two weeks later from injuries suffered in the crash.
• Animal shelters across the county were over capacity and warning they’d soon have to begin putting dogs and cats to death.
• The Galveston County Criminal District Attorney sought more money to raise pay and attract prosecutors. County commissioners rejected the request.
• Precinct 2 County Commissioner Joe Giusti was among eight elected officials in Texas whose names appeared in leaked documents connected to the extremist group Oath Keepers. Giusti said he had explored the group but rejected it after learning its political views.
• League City had to replace hundreds of water meters and antennas because homeowners and landscaping crews were running over the high-tech equipment with lawn mowers. The city had replaced 1,300 damaged meters and was passing the costs on to homeowners. The city had been paying about $30,000 a year to replace water meters, officials said.
• The Marine Corps League dedicated a memorial to 51 Galveston County men killed in the Korean Conflict, known to many veterans as the “forgotten war.”
• Prominent developer Randy Hall and his wife were demanding answers and a public apology from the city after being arrested in their home in front of their children, handcuffed, photographed, fingerprinted and detained for more than eight hours in the city jail over a fender-bender in a gym parking lot.
• The short-term rental conflict, which had been raging for years in tourist towns, reached Dickinson when the owner of a short-term rental that had angered some neighbors over parking and noise, filed for a temporary restraining order against the city over its regulatory efforts.
• Dr. Ben Raimer broke more than a month of silence by saying UT System officials had ousted him in a “witch-hunt gone wrong.”
• Galveston native Tilman Fertitta cracked the top 100 of the Forbes 400, which ranks the wealthiest Americans, with net worth of $7.7 billion. Fertitta’s name on the list was a first for Galveston, which has produced more than its share of billionaires.
• The announcement of a Jimmy Buffett-themed RV resort at Crystal Beach had some residents worried the remote Bolivar Peninsula community lacked adequate infrastructure to accommodate the project.
• The Daily News launched “Checks in the Mail,” a special investigative report showing that over the past two years, scores of personal and business checks entrusted to the U.S. Post Office in Galveston had vanished.
At least 140 of those were stolen, altered and cashed for amounts ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars and totaling more than $950,000, according to police records obtained by The Daily News.
• Developer Randy Hall filed a $25 million civil rights lawsuit against League City and one of its police officers and was seeking a public apology after he and his wife, Rachael, were arrested in front of their children over a fender-bender in a gym parking lot.
• A Galveston councilman raised legal questions about handling of hotel occupancy taxes, which set off months of conflict between the city and park board.
• Friendswood High School opened the district’s first student-teaching preschool.
• College of the Mainland was aiming to boost retention rates among Hispanic students and improve student mental health services with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
• Satya, a privately held, Houston-based commercial real estate consulting firm, opened sales for the planned 10-story Tiara on the Beach, the first island condominium project in about 15 years and the first at which prices started at $1 million.
• A record number of turtles was washing up on Texas shores and experts didn’t know why.
• Local sleuths identified the owner of a purse dating back to the 1950s found during renovations of the League City School. The purse belonged to Beverly Williams, a former League City school student who died in 2016 of cancer.
• A University of Texas Medical Branch study performed on mice showed a grandmother’s high-fat diet during pregnancy can affect brain development in grandchildren, leading to problems such as autism spectrum disorder.
• College of the Mainland opened a $42 million Industrial Careers Building.
• Mothers of the victims of the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting and members of the Santa Fe Ten Memorial Foundation were preparing for a fight over a memorial they believe should be, and was intended to be, placed in front of the high school.
• Overdoses and deaths from the synthetic opioid fentanyl had been on the rise across the country for months and the grim trend had reached Galveston County.
• La Marque would use a $750,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant to hire more police officers.
• Galveston County’s new paper-ballot machines opened to positive reviews among voters.
• A dry-dock boat fire in Port Bolivar that caused $5 million in damage likely was arson, authorities said.
• La Marque would install 3,000 LED streetlights to improve safety, officials said.
• Hitchcock High School launched a program to inspire students to become educators in effort to counter staffing shortages and elevate the perception of the teaching profession.
• Texas City ISD voters approved a $158.6 million school bond.
• Retired teachers helped a Texas City campus go from F to B on state rankings.
• The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston opened a greatly expanded food pantry that’s the first of its kind on the island and meets a rising demand as prices for meat, milk and more soar. Beacon of Hope Isle Market is designed like a grocery store to give people more choice and control of the foods they take home.
• Hundreds of people gathered for the highly anticipated opening of Galveston’s third cruise terminal, a $125 million facility built in partnership with Royal Caribbean International that officials say marks an evolutionary leap for the island’s public docks.
• “I AM TEXAS!” a 7-foot-tall book produced in part by local school students, won the Guinness World Record for the largest published book in the world, beating out the previous record set in 2007 in Brazil.
• Turkey prices soared like eagles on market updrafts.
• League City Police recovered $500,000 in stolen property and broke up a theft ring stealing UTVs, 4-wheelers, trailers, tools and trucks, officers said.
• It was an ordinary night until Richard Powers saw tentacle-like lights floating over his Bacliff home. Powers was sure he had seen an unidentified flying object — a UFO.
• Rosenberg Library teamed up with a nonprofit to give away 1,500 laptops to Galveston residents who lacked access to the internet.
• Galveston ISD invited the public to take one last stroll in the Charles T. Scott building before it was demolished to make way for a new Ball High School.
• Flu cases were soaring in Galveston County, health officials said.
• League City council in a 4-3 vote approved an amended version of a controversial resolution opponents saw as a first step toward banning books about hot-button topics such as gender identity from public Helen Hall Library.
• The Texas City Commission gave the go-ahead for a nearly 800-home development on the east side of Interstate 45 in the Lago Mar development.
• Galveston City Council approved controversial ordinances requiring the Park Board of Trustees to transfer about $14 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue into city accounts, which city officials have asserted is required by charter and state law.
• The Texas Department of State Health Services ordered a recall of all oysters harvested in an area of southeastern Galveston Bay after reports of gastrointestinal illnesses. The closure was another blow to harvesters who already were protesting numerous reef closures meant to allow oyster stocks to recover from overfishing and ecological stresses.
• The long-awaited upgrade of Galveston County Medical Examiner’s office was completed.
• Virus expert warned of heightened risk from mosquitoes in Galveston County.
• Princess Cruises said it would return to the Port of Galveston after a long hiatus.
• A killer freeze of Feb. 2021 loomed over preparations for a bitter freeze in Galveston County.
• League City approved using eminent domain to acquire land for the $100 million North Landing Boulevard extension project, which will provide much needed relief of daily traffic congestion on FM 518.
• A hard freeze hit Galveston County, but unlike 2021 the power grid held.
• A years-long effort to build a massive storm-surge barrier in and around Galveston Bay took a major step forward when President Joe Biden signed the $860 million National Defense Authorization Act into law.
• Grocer Food King, which has served Texas City for 40 years, announced the sale and transfer of the business to small Houston-based supermarket chain Foodarama.
• The sudden deaths of two relatively young men within an hour of each other on Christmas Day, possibly of fentanyl overdose, had employers issuing warnings and one local expert worried about the risk to people celebrating on New Year’s Eve.