- Special Sections
The year 2012 saw extensive growth and progress in industry and the local economy, as wind farms sprang up across the county, progress was made on electric transmission lines that will take Panhandle wind power to the southeastern U.S., and the City of Guymon began construction of three new projects sure to improve the quality of life for all area residents.
The year saw the end of eras in local government, as one county commissioner retired after two decades of service, and the county‚Äôs district court clerk retired after three decades, and Guymon began the search for a new city manager.
Police Chief Eddie Adamson was placed on administrative leave in January, and although cleared to return to work in February, remained on paid administrative leave throughout the Summer and into the Fall. He eventually resigned to become Police Chief in Chickasha, and longtime Guymon Captain Michael Babb became Chief in December.
Tragedy struck the area at mid-year, when two freight trains collided head-on just outside Goodwell, killing three men, and two plane crashes injured three people.
The drought which began in 2010 tightened its grip, as Guymon Municipal Airport recorded just over 11 inches of precipitation, and reached a 2-year deficit of nearly 20 inches. Hot weather returned in 2012, but not as bad as 2011, although Guymon did record multiple 100-plus days.
The warmest temperature recorded in the city in 2012 was 109 degrees on both June 27 and 28. The coldest was a low of 5 degrees on Dec. 10.
Guymon recorded a total of 11.50 inches of precipitation for the year as of New Year‚Äôs Eve. Following a 7-inch snow on Dec. 19, 2011, Guymon had recorded just 1.2 inches of snow in calendar year 2012 ‚ÄĒ most of that on Christmas Day.
A Winter Weather Advisory for snow was in effect for the final day of 2012.
Two cargo trains collided just east of Goodwell about 10:08 a.m. on June 24.
‚ÄúThe eastbound train was coming from Los Angeles on its way to Chicago, the westbound train was on its way to Los Angeles from Kansas City,‚ÄĚ said Tom Lange, a spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad.
Fire crews from Guymon, Texas County, Hooker and Yarbrough were on scene well into the night.
Lange said one car had resin in it, which is considered hazardous but it is not poisonous.
‚ÄúThat car did not derail,‚ÄĚ he said.
The Mason Trailer Park near Goodwell was evacuated.
Semi driver Gary Mathews was driving down Highway 54 when the trains collided, and witnessed the accident.
‚Äú(I) saw trains coming toward each other for about 3 miles. Heard the eastbound train blowing the horn,‚ÄĚ Mathews said. ‚ÄúThe trains hit head-on and then derailed. The westbound train was hauling cars. The westbound train laid over on it‚Äôs side as I passed. I did not see any operators inside the trains. I was 50 yards from the train when it collided.
‚ÄúA wall of heat hit my windshield and came through it from the explosion of fuel in the engines. The eastbound train had three engines on it. The westbound train had two. The westbound train was moving very slow before the collision.‚ÄĚ
The OHP, Texas County Sheriff‚Äôs Department, Union Pacific and the Guymon Fire Department established a unified command center.
Red Cross volunteers and staff from Woodward and Guymon were providing emergency assistance to approximately 50 first responders in Goodwell.
One firefighter was transported by Goodwell EMS to the Guymon hospital with symptoms of heat stroke as the high temperature reached 105 degrees.
Reported dead were Brian L. Stone, 50, of Dalhart, Texas; engineer Dan Hall and engineer John Hall (no relation to Dan Hall). Stone had been a conductor since September 2003.
Conductor Juan Zurita reportedly jumped to safety and was uninjured.
Guymon Assistant Fire Chief Grant Wadley said in his 23 years as a firefighter, Sunday‚Äôs accident was the worst he‚Äôs ever seen.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been on plane crashes, train crashes, car crashes, bus crashes, and nothing of this magnitude,‚ÄĚ Wadley said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the first time anyone here has seen two trains collide. It‚Äôs overwhelming to think how much damage and how much energy went into those crashes.‚ÄĚ
Texas County Emergency Management Director Harold Tyson was in contact with state agencies all day Sunday.
‚ÄúHere in the Panhandle we take care of ourselves,‚ÄĚ Tyson said. ‚ÄúBut I was in communication with our state office a lot.‚ÄĚ
The Woodward Emergency Management Director offered to come to Guymon to help, even though Woodward is still recovering from the April 15 tornado.
Seaboard brought water tankers and bulldozers, and all districts of the county brought water and equipment to help battle the blaze.
‚ÄúI would hate think how many gallons of water we went through,‚ÄĚ Tyson said.
Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board said Union Pacific, the Federal Rail Administration, the United Transportation Union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Guymon Fire Department joined the NTSB in the initial information gathering of the incident. He said there were no anomalies with the signals at the Goodwell signal and grade crossings.
Dr. Manny Barias was voted to serve as Hospital Chief of Staff for Memorial Hospital of Texas County throughout 2012, by the Medical Executive Committee.
Barias reported, the position of COS represents anyone who touches patients in MHTC for a one year term and hopes to redirect the attention back to the basic reason for the hospital, the patients.
‚ÄúMy vision for the year is just to move on and grow and let the past be the past,‚ÄĚ Barias said. ‚ÄúThis year, concentrate on what we are there for, patient safety and standard of patient care.‚ÄĚ
Undercover video depicting animal cruelty and abuse in two of the nation‚Äôs top pork producing companies, forced The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to file complaints with the U.S. Securities and Exchange and Federal Trade Commission. The HSUS reports the video was captured by HSUS representatives, who gained employment at two pig breeding facilities near Oklahoma City, Seaboard Foods and Prestage Farms.
The video released also shows, the tails and testicles of piglets were cut and torn off without painkillers and others were injured when their legs were duct-taped to their bodies.
Both grown pigs and piglets were shown bleeding with various injuries.
Seaboard Foods President and CEO Terry Holton issued a response to the video and accusations, saying he ‚Äústrongly disputes any allegations of abuse‚ÄĚ and praised employees for following ‚Äúproper industry-supported protocols and procedures.‚ÄĚ
Holton said Farm Animal Care Training and Auditing, LLC, (FACTA), supported by a group of credentialed auditors and educators, independently audited the company‚Äôs guidelines and protocols. In addition, Holton added, the company‚Äôs farm managers and farm sites are PQA plus certified with specific requirements for proper animal care.
‚ÄúIt is important to recognize animal welfare programs, including housing for gestating sows, must be based on sound science while also seeking a balance with societal concerns,‚ÄĚ Holton said. ‚ÄúSeaboard Foods‚Äô integrated system uses both stalls and group pens to house gestating sows. As part of our ongoing evaluation of best practices, we are conducting research to determine the best management practices for alternative sow housing practices in our system. Furthermore, swine tail docking and castration are essential industry practices for the health and well-being of food animals as stated by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The Memorial Hospital of Texas County Board of Control heard from hospital management company NewLight Healthcare at a special meeting. The Austin, Texas-based company specializes in managing rural hospitals, and currently manages the Cimarron Memorial Hospital in Boise City. The company is also working in various capacities with the hospitals in Beaver, and in Dalhart, Texas.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre very familiar with this area and we‚Äôd love to grow and help you out, as well,‚ÄĚ said Todd Biederman, founder and CEO of NewLight Healthcare. ‚ÄúOur leadership team has proven success in hospital management.‚ÄĚ
The Hospital Board of Control went through upheaval early in the year, with all but one member resigning from the board. The board eventually chose to go with NewLight Healthcare, and hired Lee Hughes, CEO of Cimarron Memorial Hospital in Boise City, as its new CEO.
The physicians made the recommendation to hire NewLight at its Feb. 14 meeting.
The hospital lost $1,656,220 in cash and invested funds from June 30-Dec. 31, 2011.
‚ÄúPolicies, procedures, investment strategies and overall directional plans that brought our hospital to its current financial situation continue to be implemented,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Hianto Te. ‚ÄúNow with information gathered today (Feb. 28) as of Jan. 31, 2012, we‚Äôve lost $1.7 million. (after posting a loss of $113,711 in January).
A bittersweet farewell was in store for the District Court Clerk of Texas County, Karen Parish. After 36 years of driving down the streets of Guymon en route to work every day, and after serving many faces and names of Texas County, Parish is retiring.
Parish was appointed Court Clerk in 1991 and worked as Deputy Court Clerk in her prior years to serving as the Clerk.
She has seen many changes made through her years of service, including the many faces that she come and go with her job, the drastic technological advancements through the years, and the improvement of the Court Clerk‚Äôs Office and one of the courtrooms, which she considers one of her biggest accomplishments.
‚ÄúI was approved for the project with the permission of the County Commissioners and completion took approximately six months,‚ÄĚ said Parish. ‚ÄúThe office never closed, we worked through the the construction, at one point, we were set up in the hallway in front of the office for business as usual.‚ÄĚ
Although she found not filing for the first time in years for the Court Clerk election very bittersweet and somewhat difficult, an emotional Parish said that she will miss the people she works with more than anything. The ladies she works with, the six Associate Judges from present and past, and three District Judges just from this county. There have been plenty more judges from other counties and areas that she has worked with as well.
Parish was replaced by Renee Ellis of Texhoma, who won the election last fall.
A new era officially began in a field on the west side of Guymon. The city held a ceremonial ground-breaking for the new municipal library, fire station and animal shelter at the site of the new library in the 1600 block of North Oklahoma Street between the YMCA and Northridge Christian School.
The three projects have not been without controversy ‚ÄĒ architect issues, rising costs, backlash by certain segments of the community. But the mayor and city council moved forward.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been working on these (projects) since 1995,‚ÄĚ said Guymon Mayor Jim Norris. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not like all of a sudden we just decided we were going to build a library, or a dog facility or a fire station. It‚Äôs something that has taken a lot of effort and a lot of work from people before I was in office.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm very proud that today we have the ground-breaking, we‚Äôre finally getting towards the end of the project. There‚Äôs been some controversy, but overall I think these projects are needed, I think the majority of the public wanted them, and I think the council and the past councils have followed through.‚ÄĚ
The new fire station is being built at 24th and Lelia on the north side of town, while the animal shelter will be next to the current facility on Highway 64 north. The new station drew the ire of some who said it would be too big. But with Guymon‚Äôs growth and the need for new equipment, the new station will be something the fire department needs.
‚ÄúOne of the comments we heard was scale them down, cut size,‚ÄĚ Norris said. ‚ÄúMy view with the fire department was we‚Äôve already got one scaled down, why build one at all?‚ÄĚ
Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb said the construction of the new facilities shows community spirit and community commitment.
‚ÄúI view my role (as Lt. Governor) as a cheerleader,‚ÄĚ Lamb said. ‚ÄúWhen I talk to entities that aren‚Äôt familiar with our state, who aren‚Äôt familiar with what we‚Äôre doing and the good news we have to share in Oklahoma, I often talk about our statewide unemployment and I talk about how Oklahoma, west of the Mississippi River, Oklahoma has got the sixth lowest unemployment rate.
‚ÄúIn our region of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, Oklahoma has the lowest unemployment rate.
‚ÄúAnd one of the reasons for that is Texas County. Bar none. Period. What you‚Äôre doing, in Texas County, to help us spread, statewide, what is occurring.
‚ÄúThank you for what you‚Äôre doing to be a county that other counties can emulate.‚ÄĚ
Guymon Fire Chief Clark Purdy said the new station is a new milestone for the Guymon Fire Department.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a joyous occasion, especially for the many of us here who have been personally involved in conceptualizing, organizing and directing the project,‚ÄĚ Purdy said.
The library project is being funded in part by loans and grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as the Nash Foundation, which is also giving money towards the animal shelter.
The USDA grant given to Guymon for the library is the largest ever given to a single entity in the state of Oklahoma.
USDA state director Ryan McMullen presented the city with an award for the largest grant.
‚ÄúThe City of Guymon didn‚Äôt come to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and say, ‚ÄėGive us $4.6 million so we can build a new library,‚ÄĚ McMullen said. ‚ÄúThe City of Guymon came to us and said, ‚ÄėWe‚Äôre willing to sacrifice ourselves, we‚Äôre willing to invest in our own community, invest in ourselves, can you help us?‚Äô
‚ÄúJust as we have in the past, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is willing to step forward and partner with the folks here in Guymon, Oklahoma, to make your dreams of this library that‚Äôs been coming for so long, a reality.‚ÄĚ
The current animal shelter was built in the mid-1980s and was built too small at that time, according to interim Police Chief Michael Babb, who said as long as he can remember (nearly 20 years) there‚Äôs always been a line item in the budget to do a construction project at the shelter.
The Nash Foundation granted money to the shelter, which will bear the Nash name.
Two Arizona men were in critical condition at an Amarillo hospital following a plane crash Tuesday afternoon at the Hooker airport.
The crash took place at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday after a 1967 Mooney M20F single-engine aircraft piloted by Terry L. Meil, 55, of Phoenix, Ariz., lost power while taking off south-bound from the Hooker Municipal Airport. The aircraft ended up in a field 300 yards to the southeast of the runway off Les White Industrial Road.
The pilot was taken by Hooker EMS to Memorial Hospital of Texas County in Guymon and later transported by Medi-Flight to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo with arm and internal injuries.
The passenger, John Henry Escalante, 34, of Maricopa, Ariz., was taken by Hooker EMS to a point near Optima, then transferred to Guymon EMS, who transported the man to the Texhoma airport, where he was then transported by Medi-Flight to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo.
The Love‚Äôs convenience store and gas station has a slightly new image, thanks to Compressed Natural Gas. They have partnered with Chesapeake Energy and have now placed a CNG pump at the Love‚Äôs location at Highway 54 and Main in Guymon, and many, including the Guymon Ambassadors, Chesapeake Energy members, Senator Bryce Marlatt, and Rep. Gus Blackwell, gathered together on Thursday to discuss and celebrate this addition to the community.
Scott Minton, Market Development Specialist for Natural Gas vehicles for Chesapeake Energy explained the details and benefits of this addition to the Love‚Äôs gas station. ¬†
The station is the first fueling location to offer CNG in Guymon. In December 2011, Love‚Äôs committed to opening at least 10 CNG fueling stations in 2012 to increase CNG accessibility across the state.
‚ÄúThe opening of Guymon‚Äôs first CNG fueling station is important because it offers our residents the opportunity to power their vehicles with a local resource that is important to Oklahoma‚Äôs economy,‚ÄĚ said Sen. Bryce Marlatt. ‚ÄúI hope Love‚Äôs commitment to CNG serves as a model for other retailers across the country to offer this alternative fuel to their customers.‚ÄĚ
On Sept. 19, federal law enforcement reviewed and collected documents at Seaboard Foods‚Äô Shawnee Mission, Kan., and Guymon, Okla., properties. The company and its employees were cooperating fully and are committed to upholding legal practices and protocols throughout all aspects of our business.
With a mild Oklahoma wind on their faces, a group gathered outside of Guymon on Highway 207 for the celebration and ribbon cutting for the completion of the NOVUS I Wind Farm project that has been in progress for a few months now. It is complete with 40 turbines, each being a two megawatt turbine.
There are 40 turbines that make up the wind farm.
Vicki McCune, Guymon Community Development Director discussed the way the area will be impacted by these wind farms.
‚ÄúThere are several key things that this will impact,‚ÄĚ said Vicki. ‚ÄúIt will really help diversify income for land owners, like farmers and ranchers. It is kind of like the gas and oil deal; land owners are going to receive monthly royalties off of these that will be very significant just like gas and oil, so it really kind of helps them diversify income and be able to keep ranching and farming.
‚ÄúAnother key thing that will impact our region is the taxes off of it that will go to our school system and our county,‚ÄĚ said Vicki. ‚ÄúThat will be a huge deal.‚ÄĚ
Clean Line Energy played host to a series of public open house meetings to discuss its ongoing wind energy transmission line project, and was in Guymon early Oct. 9 to discuss where the project currently stands. The project has been in the works since 2009, with construction slated to begin in the next 18-24 months and completion by 2017.
But progress is being made.
The $2 billion, 750-mile Plains & Eastern Clean Line project includes a converter station in Texas County which will convert Alternating Current to Direct Current electricity and transport it on high voltage direct current transmission lines from Texas County to another converter station near Memphis, Tenn. The Oklahoma Panhandle wind power will then be distributed to homes and businesses throughout the southeastern United States.
The amount of energy delivered annually by the project once completed will be three times what is produced by the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas.
The impact for Texas County will be jobs and investment.
‚ÄúThe combination of wind farms and our transmission project are big investments,‚ÄĚ said Mario Hurtado of Clean Line Energy. ‚ÄúIt adds a lot to the ad valorem property tax base for the county. About 80 percent of that in Oklahoma goes to the schools.‚ÄĚ
Clean Line has been working with landowners for more than a year to narrow down the transmission line corridors between here and Tennessee.
The current plans are for the converter station to be built near Guymon, probably south of town., where it will convert electricity from future wind farms across Texas County.
The exact track of the transmission lines is far from being determined, but it has been narrowed down. And once that‚Äôs done, the company will begin talking to land owners about the possibility of buying rights-of-way.
In the last 18 months, Clean Line earned public utility status in the state of Oklahoma, and has worked closely with environmental groups in the Panhandle to protect the Lesser Prairie Chicken, which is protected in Oklahoma but hunted in Kansas.
On Sept. 11, the company obtained regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin negotiating transmission service agreements with potential customers along the project corridor.
After a stunning Guymon City Council decision to terminate City Manager Ted Graham‚Äôs contract, the city was scrambling to look for an interim city manager.
The council voted 3-1 to remove Graham, who had been with the city for more than six years. Council members Larry Swager, Kim Peterson and William King voted to remove Graham, John Van Meter voted no and Mayor Jim Norris was absent. Prior to the executive session, Van Meter made a motion to table the issue until Norris could be present. The motion died for lack of a second, and the board voted to go into Executive Session.
Vice-Mayor Peterson said that he couldn‚Äôt say anything other than what was said in the open meeting Thursday night ‚ÄĒ that the council voted to terminate Graham‚Äôs contract.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got to get somebody in place,‚ÄĚ Peterson said. ‚ÄúIt could be somebody from staff that basically can act as a signatory or receiving agent, or execute things they‚Äôve got to do.‚ÄĚ
Thursday night‚Äôs Executive Session lasted more than 90 minutes, and took some in the audience by surprise.
But Peterson said there was nothing he cold say publicly about the decision to remove Mr. Graham.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs nothing pleasant about it,‚ÄĚ Peterson said.
The city eventually chose to name city clerk Kim Meeks as interim city manager, and will look to hire a permanent city manager in early 2013.
A Texas man walked away unhurt after his Cessna aircraft made an emergency crash-landing Thursday on U.S. Highway 412, 12 miles east of Hardesty, or 30 miles east of Guymon.
Daniel Valdan Beloica, 46, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was flying his Cessna 208 Caravan over rural Texas County at 6:58 p.m. Thursday when he heard an explosion from the engine and lost power.
According to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, the pilot tried to restart the engine but was unable to get it restarted. The pilot began searching for a place to land and glided the aircraft onto U.S. Highway 412, where it came to rest on the north shoulder of the highway.
The pilot walked away from the aircraft and was taken by an unknown personal vehicle to Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton, Texas, where he was treated and released.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Weather conditions at Guymon Municipal Airport, 30 miles west of the crash site, at the time of the incident, was fair skies, 59 degrees, with an east wind at 5 mph.
After 22 years of service, Texas County Commissioner Gary Winters was able to join his family and friends at his retirement party on Friday afternoon.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm excited,‚ÄĚ said Winters. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been a long time coming.‚ÄĚ
Monday morning Commissioner meetings may be a bit different without the humourous ‚Äėfriendly‚Äô banter that was always exchanged between Winters and fellow commissioner Jack Strain, but Winters looks back over the last 22 years with a smile.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been fun,‚ÄĚ Winters said. ‚ÄúIt has been an honor to serve Texas County. It‚Äôs been a good life.‚ÄĚ
Winters has been replaced by Dickie Bryan who was voted in as the new Commissioner back in November.