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Top five Big Country news stories of 2013

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 31 2013 02:44:45 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 02 2014 10:03:00 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

2013 was a year of big stories around the Big Country. Before we step into 2014 we wanted to take a look back at the five biggest stories in our area.

We checked which web stories had the most views this year. Then staff members at KTXS voted on what stories they thought were most important.

Here are the top five stories of 2013:

5. It was an uphill battle for the Abilene school administration, but they took on the challenge willingly. In November, AISD voters passed an $87.7 million school bond election.

The bond money will be used to fix up several schools, rebuild two and update security for all campuses.                 

The bond will cost taxpayers an average of $48 more a year for 20 years. That's for an average priced home in the district.

It was the first school bond election to pass in Abilene since 2004.

4. Accidents plagued Ranger Hill again this year. There were seven fatalities in 2013 in what is considered the deadliest stretch of road between Abilene and Fort Worth.

Those accidents, along with a petition signed by people in Eastland County, convinced the Texas Transportation Commission to lower the speed limit there by 10 miles an hour, raise barriers and add lighting. They will also resurface that stretch of road.

The project is expected to cost about $3.2 million.

3. It turned into an epidemic in the city of Abilene. Police said the use of synthetic drugs was running rampant throughout the city.

About 10 head shops in Abilene were selling the synthetic drugs and most of them were doing so legally. The city then stepped up to pass an ordinance regulating where such drugs could be sold. Synthetic drugs can cause hallucinations, bouts of rage and seizures.

In October, head shops were required to move away from city neighborhoods. Since the ordinance, police and hospital staff both said the number of incidents involving synthetic drugs has decreased dramatically.

2. It could be the biggest shale oil play in American history - at least that's what some scientists are saying. Studies have estimated the Cline Shale could have as much as 30 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Cities such as Snyder, Colorado City and Sweetwater are already seeing the effects of the discovery.

Housing sales have spiked, populations continue to increase and rigs are popping up everywhere. The boom has even had an effect on Abilene as many oil field workers are buying up RVs and homes in the area.

1. The search for missing Colorado City teenager Hailey Dunn lasted more than two years. In May a man searching for fossils near Lake J.B. Thomas in Scurry County found human remains. About a month passed before the FBI confirmed the remains were those of Hailey Dunn.

A memorial service was held for Hailey at the Colorado City High School.

No arrests have been made in connection with her death. Shawn Adkins, Hailey’s mom's boyfriend at the time she disappeared, was the only suspect ever named in the case.