SAN ANGELO, Texas — 2021 was an eventful and challenging year for the people of the Concho Valley. From the water crisis and winter freeze to the return of the Rodeo, these are the stories our readers thought were most important this year.
6. 4.5 magnitude earthquake hits Permian Basin
On the evening of Sunday, December 27, 2021, a 4.5 magnitude earthquake was detected by the US Geological Survey near Midland, one of the largest recorded in the area.
The quake came just days after the Texas Railroad Commission issued an order that would halt all hydraulic fracturing in the area due to a series of quakes that happened on December 15th and 16th.
On December 30th, an aftershock with a magnitude of 2.5 hit the area.
5. San Angelo Rodeo announces 100 percent capacity
The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association gave the people of the city some much-needed good news at the beginning of March when they announced that the San Angelo Rodeo, rescheduled during the wave of winter COVID-19 infections, would take place at full capacity.
4. Two Concho County deputies killed in the line of duty
On Monday, May 10, 2021, two Concho County Sheriff’s deputies were killed in the line of duty when a suspect opened fire on them in the course of an investigation into a report of an animal bite.
Deputy Samuel Leonard, Sgt. Stephen Jones and an Eden city employee were all shot by Jeffrey Nicholas, according to his own confession.
“On May 10, at approximately 8:40 p.m., Concho County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the 100 block of Bryan Street for a dog complaint. Two deputies and an Eden city employee arrived on scene shortly after. While making contact with individuals at the residence, an altercation occurred and quickly escalated to gunfire. As a result, two Concho County Sheriff’s Deputies were killed and the Eden city employee was critically wounded. The suspect was taken into custody. The Texas Rangers are investigating, and more information will be released as it becomes available.“Texas Department of Public Safety
Leonard and Jones both died of their injuries and Nicholas was charged with two charges of Capital Murder of a Peace Officer.
3. Record low temperatures cause multi-day power outages for millions across the state
While still recovering from a water crisis caused by chemical contamination leaking into the city’s water system, people across San Angelo were driven into darkness and cold when unusually frigid subzero temperatures triggered blackouts throughout the state.
Thousands in San Angelo woke up without electricity or heat on the day after Valentine’s Day with no way of knowing when it would be restored. For days, many people across the city lived without power or access to clean water as generating power was slowly restored to the Texas electrical grid.
As temperatures began to rise, several water mains throughout the city burst, prompting the City of San Angelo to issue a boil water notice while urging residents who did have running water to conserve as much as possible so water tanks around the city could be refilled. Volunteers and crews with the City of San Angelo delivered drinking water to residents who needed it.
The boil water notice remained in effect for San Angelo residents until February 24th, nearly ten days after the start of the freeze.
2. Chemical contamination results in “do not use” advisory for thousands in San Angelo
After receiving complaints multiple complaints about an unusual odor from residents of the PaulAnn area in northeastern San Angelo, the City issued a “do not use” water advisory for people within San Angelo and 11 additional water systems in the area.
As the City waited for the results of lab testing, City staff worked with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality to determine the contaminant and its source. Residents were asked not to use tap water for anything other than toilet flushing or landscape watering.
After determining that an area of the city referred to as the “high plane” was free from contamination, the City released areas in the southwest parts of town from the “do not use” advisory on February 9th. Later that day, additional portions of the city were released from the advisory, leaving most of north San Angelo without access to safe tap water.
Two days after the initial water advisory was issued, lab results confirmed the water supply had been contaminated by a combination of benzene, acetone, and naphthalene. The City continued to take water samples for testing in all lines leading out of PaulAnn to determine whether the contamination had been limited to that area.
On the evening of February 10th, the City released all but the PaulAnn area from the “do not use” advisory after the second round of testing revealed the levels of benzene for most of the city were below the TCEQ’s threshold.
The full list of contaminants was not known until February 13th. A statement issued by the City listed the contaminants as:
1. Caleb Wallace, local anti-mask activist and founder of San Angelo Freedom Defenders dies of COVID-19
Caleb Wallace, a prominent anti-mask organizer, co-founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, and outspoken voice against COVID-19 mitigation efforts within San Angelo and Tom Green County died of COVID-19 on Saturday, August 28, 2021.
Wallace’s opposition to COVID-19 measures led him to found the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, who held multiple rallies like the San Angelo Freedom Parade in July of 2020 and the October 2020 Rally to End COVID-19 Tyranny.
Wallace, who was 30 years old, left behind a wife and three children.