By Caitlyn Meisner | Copy Editor
The Baylor Lariat has compiled all the most important Waco-focused news since August. In chronological order, here they are.
Brazos Riverfront Development Project hopes to revitalize downtown Waco (August 2022)
This project is an effort by the City of Waco — with collaborative help from Baylor — to revitalize the area near the Brazos River. This will be done by bringing shops, restaurants and apartments to the downtown area to make it a walkable riverfront. A major addition and reason for this revitalization is the new Paul and Alejandra Foster Basketball Pavilion, which will be adjacent to Clifton Robinson Tower.
Beto O’Rourke rallies Baylor students, Waco community to vote (Sept. 28, 2022)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke stopped in Waco at Freight Icehouse and Yardbar on Sept. 28, 2022, to speak to students and the Waco community about gun control, reproductive rights and immigration.
“We get a lot of love from you, and I want you to know that I love you right back,” O’Rourke said in his speech. “I love you if you’re a Baylor student; I love you if you’re not a Baylor student. I love you if you’re straight; I love you if you’re gay or transgender. I love you if you are an eighth-generation Texan, and I love you if you got here eight years ago from another country.”
Waco Pride Network hosts annual OUT on the Brazos event (Oct. 11, 2022)
The OUT on the Brazos event brought citizens of both Waco and the surrounding towns to Brazos Park East as 75 local vendors and organizations attended. The event featured live music from local bands and drag performances.
The Alliance of Baptists — a faith group that combines progressive inquiry into its Baptist practice — was also present to let people know about a local Christian community.
“We are here letting people know that there is a caring Christian community out there for LGBTQ+ people in the Waco area to feel loved and safe and where they can belong,” Will Ward, an advocate for the alliance, said.
Greg Abbott rounds up McLennan County to vote (Nov. 3, 2022)
Gov. Greg Abbott held a campaign event in Waco at George’s Restaurant on Nov. 3, 2022, to talk directly to voters in McLennan County about jobs, the economy, inflation, oil and veterans.
“Our economy is so strong because Texas ranks No. 1 in the country for oil and gas production,” Abbott said in his speech. “Beto [O’Rourke] has come out saying that he wants to embrace his radical leftist idea of the Green New Deal that would eliminate hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and would increase the price that you’re already paying at the pump.”
Red wave hits McLennan County: Sessions, Birdwell, Anderson reelected (Nov. 9, 2022)
Republicans maintained control over McLennan County with the reelection of conservative incumbents: U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas state Sen. Brian Birdwell and Texas state Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson.
“You got to have the parties for elections,” Anderson told The Baylor Lariat on election night. “Somebody calls our office with a problem, we don’t say, ‘Are you a Republican? Are you a Democrat?’ We don’t say anything like that. We represent everybody on both sides of the political spectrum. I look forward to representing all those folks.”
Church Under the Bridge returns to I-35 after three years (Nov. 20, 2022)
After 44 months of construction, services for Church Under the Bridge returned to their spot below Interstate 35. Senior pastor Jimmy Dorrell said he and his wife had initially begun leading a Bible study after connecting with the people living under the bridge. Then, after 28 years of continuous Sunday services, they were forced to temporarily relocate due to construction, accepting an invitation from Chip and Joanna Gaines to do so at the Magnolia Silos.
Waco places marker in honor of Jesse Washington (Feb. 12)
The City of Waco placed a historical marker for Jesse Washington, a man lynched in Waco in 1916, in front of Waco City Hall. The process of creating and setting the marker goes back seven years to 2016, which was the 100th anniversary of Washington’s death.
Trump talks DeSantis, Biden, border crisis at inaugural 2024 campaign rally in Waco (March 26)
Former President Donald Trump held his first 2024 campaign rally at the Waco Regional Airport. He spoke to a crowd of tens of thousands with many Republican politicians in attendance to support him, including U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz, Wesley Hunt and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump spoke on many issues, such as China, Russia, immigration, President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — an expected Republican challenger.
“From Waco to El Paso, from Houston to Dallas and from the Red River to the Rio Grande, the people of Texas live and breathe the fiercest spirit of independence,” Trump said.
Town of West gathers for 10th anniversary of fertilizer company explosion (April 17)
The West Fertilizer Company explosion — a blast that killed 15 people and destroyed the homes of many — marked its 10-year anniversary in April. Located just 30 minutes from Baylor, the West community gathered to honor the lives lost and affected.
30 years after the Waco Siege: 4 perspectives on what happened (April 19)
The 51-day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives marked its 30-year anniversary in April. The Baylor Lariat spoke to four people, including two residents of Mount Carmel, regarding their perspectives on the events.
“The Lord told me that this year, the 30th anniversary, I’m going to conduct the memorial finally, and I’m going to be able to say what I need to say,” Charles Pace, pastor at the Branch, said. “I’m going to tell everybody basically what really happened here. Hopefully, they understand and they will see that it’s true so that God is going to be honored — not just David Koresh. Whether people believe me or not, I don’t care. I don’t care if I’m a fool for God. I don’t mind being a fool. I’d be a fool not to be. So they can make fun of me all day long.”
Waco Suspension Bridge reopening draws city downtown for historic renovation (April 22)
After years of renovation, the City of Waco opened the Waco Suspension Bridge with a two-day event. Wacoans and nearby Texans flocked downtown to watch the ribbon cutting and the highly anticipated cattle drive over the bridge.
Waco Mayor Dillon Meek said the Waco Suspension Bridge is a symbol of the unique community of the city.
“It was also a symbol of Waco’s growth and development during the 19th century,” Meek said. “As Waco became a bustling commercial center, the construction of this bridge was a bold and innovative project.”