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A lot has happened in Altus over the last year. As a tribute to 2018, we’ve compiled our top 12 stories of the year. They’ve been listed in chronological order and include a small excerpt from the original story.
Lively crowned Miss Altus 2018 (Feb. 13) — Katrina Goforth
Loclyn Lively was crowned the 48th Miss Altus 2018 on Feb. 10, and competed in June in the Miss Oklahoma contest.
Brooke Orr was named Second Runner-Up and received a $500 scholarship, and Kristian Combs was named First Runner-Up and received a $400 scholarship. Orr will take over the title of Miss Altus 2018 should Lively be unable to complete her reign.
Combs also received the $100 Pizzazz Award for the best on-stage presence and a potential two-year $2,000 scholarship to Western Oklahoma State College.
Orr won the awards for Interview and Rookie Interview with $150 in scholarships; Brianna Barker won the awards for Talent and Non-finalist Talent with $200 in scholarships; Jessica Mortimer took home the $200 Xi Delta Theta Scholarship and the $200 Art of Encouragement Scholarship for Community Service; Olivia Armstrong took home the $50 Special Achievement Award; and London Williams was named Most Photogenic and was presented with her Miss Altus Pageant portrait from Shanda’s Shots.
In addition to being crowned Miss Altus and receiving a $1,000 scholarship, Lively received the awards for Poise and Elegance and Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit for an additional $150 in scholarships.
Fire destroys 15 structures in Martha (April 18) — Rick Carpenter
The fire started about 3 p.m. Saturday and by 4 p.m., Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol began evacuating the town as buildings burst into flames. Families were relocated to Martha Road Baptist Church, just a few miles east of the town. The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to fire victims.
Jackson County Emergency Manager Erik Mowbray recently held a training program at Martha Road Baptist Church and was aware of the church’s capabilities of helping. He contacted the Rev. Kevin Baker and the church quickly became a staging ground for fire victims.
Firefighters from surrounding communities brought in between 40 and 50 vehicles with firefighters to help get the fire under control. Local farmers brought in water tanks and the county’s road crews drove graders and other heavy equipment to move dirt in an effort to stop the fire.
Once the town was evacuated, Public Service Company of Oklahoma cut electric power to the town to keep firefighters safe. CenterPoint Energy also cut gas lines to the town.
Mowbray said the fire destroyed 12 homes and several outbuildings. The only known injury was to a firefighter who suffered from smoke inhalation.
WOSC regents name Wiginton president (April 28) — Rick Carpenter
Chad Wiginton returned to Western in 2001 to work as the WINDS retention coordinator. WINDS helps students adjust to college life and helps them meet their academic, personal, career and social needs. In subsequent years, he was promoted to director of alumni relations, then to director of student recruitment, the dean of student services and in 2014 to vice president for student support services, one of three vice-president level positions at Western.
In each of those positions, he leveraged his relationship building skills while learning the importance of building a team of strategic planners. And that’s where he’ll start when he takes the reins from Phil Birdine as the college’s sixth president on July 1. Birdine is retiring and the WOSC Board of Regents elected Wiginton president during a special meeting on April 17.
Wiginton won the board of regents’ support from more than 20 qualified candidates.
Senior Activity Center opens with a flourish (May 9) — Katrina Goforth
The long-awaited grand opening for the new Altus Senior Activity Center, 221 N. Park Lane, was held Friday, May 4, with all the pomp and circumstance befitting the new addition to Altus’ amenities. The grand opening coincided with the Golden Years Expo, which brought in healthcare and nonprofit organizations providing service information, giveaways, health checks and sweet treats to attendees.
Mayor Jack Smiley spoke briefly about the history of the Altus Senior Activity Center, which he said began in 2007 when former mayor T.L. Gramling would not sign off on MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), a .5 of one cent sales tax voted on by the citizens of Altus in 2008, unless it included a project for the senior citizens of Altus.
“[T.L. Gramling] knew our seniors needed more than they had; deserved more than they had,” Smiley said.
Fast-forward a decade: Gramling’s daughter, Jan Taylor, stood beside Mayor Smiley, council members, and City of Altus staff for the official ribbon-cutting.
Sleek rides, mellow tunes set tone at Rock-N-Rumble (May 9) — Katrina Goforth
The 20th Annual Rock-N-Rumble Car Show and Cruise kicked off Friday before the official car show on Saturday, May 5.
On the Downtown Square, the younger generation showed off their Hot Wheels at the Hot Wheels Car Show followed by a Power Wheels cruise.
Meanwhile, live music by Roy Lee Scott and the Decade Band drew a crowd to the Jackson County Courthouse.
From Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” the band set the tone for Saturday’s events as classic and show-quality cars and motorcycles took over the Downtown Square for a chance to be called Best in Show.
Best In Show Car - David Williams, South Lake, Texas, 1967 Chevy Chevelle, received $1000 sponsored by Wilmes Superstore, and Best In Show Motorcycle - Mark Carboni, Altus, Harley Streetglide 2010, received $250.
Charter questions cause commotion at council meeting (June 9) — Katrina Goforth
Tuesday’s session saw an increase in public involvement with dialogue between members of the public and council members. City Manager Janice Cain has sought to have a designated agenda item for council members’ responses to public comments, but the conversation elicited a bang of the gavel from Mayor Jack Smiley to restore order to the proceedings.
Members of the public and former city officials attended the meeting in opposition to City Charter propositions that will be put to a public vote during a special election on Aug. 28, 2018.
The propositions include:
• Proposition 1 would include language clarifying that State Law shall be in effect where there are not further Charter regulations superseding those laws (Article I, Section 3, Subsection E); removing the section of the Charter that discusses council salary (Article II, Section 6); additional language that gives the city manager the ability to “supervise and control” all departments, offices, employees and agencies of the City of Altus, including those with an elected officer or department head by a vote of the city council and appoint directors or heads of departments (Article III, Section 3, Subsection B); the removal of Article VI, Sections 3-5 dealing with primary election filing, time periods, and qualifications for nominations; removal of Section VII, Section 2, Subsections B and C under “Merit System;” and changes to grammar mistakes;
• Proposition 2 would amend Article II, Section 2, to require any council member running for office to be a resident and qualified elector in the ward from which elected for at least six months prior to election or appointment and prohibit those convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors from running for election for at least 15 years after completion of his or her sentence;
• Proposition 3 would change the office of the chief of police from an elective to an appointed position and appoint the current chief of police to that position;
• Proposition 4 would change the office of the city clerk-treasurer from an elective to an appointed position and appoint the current city clerk-treasurer to that position; and
• Proposition 5 would change the office of the street commissioner from an elective to an appointed position and appoint the current street commissioner to that position.
Garrison named Miss Altus Outstanding Teen 2019 (Aug. 8) — Rick Carpenter
Altus High School junior Bethany Garrison was crowned Miss Altus Outstanding Teen 2019 Saturday night in a packed Altus City Auditorium. Garrison becomes the 12th Miss Altus Outstanding Teen, a scholarship pageant associated with the Miss America pageant.
Individual category winners included interview, Garrison; poise and elegance evening gown, Angela Nichols; physical fitness activewear, Lynsi Lively; talent, Nichols; non-finalist talent, Gracie Furfey; people’s choice, Nichols; photogenic, Lively; Miss Congeniality, Nichols; Sparkle Award, Nichols; ad sales winner, Nichols; and ticket sales winner, Furfey.
Garrison will compete in the Miss Oklahoma Outstanding Teen pageant in June.
Altus open first Splashpad (Aug. 15) — Katrina Goforth
A grand opening of the Altus Splashpad was held in August just in time for local children to cool off from the stifling heat. Mayor Jack Smiley held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the City of Altus at the splash pad. Parks and Recreation Chris Griffith and city employees, Michael Shive and Freddy Perez helped make the opening go smoothly. Hot dogs, chips, and drinks were provided to the large turnout of children and parents. The Altus Splashpad is located on Katy Drive next to the Altus City Gymnasium.
Saying ‘goodbye’ to a hero (Aug. 18) — Rick Carpenter
Hundreds of firefighters from throughout the state came to pay their respects to Maddy Clinton on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Clinton died while fighting a house fire on Friday, Aug. 10. Firetrucks, Highway Patrol cars, ambulances and private vehicles led the procession through town as many people lined Main Street to pay their respects.
Candidates agree on most issues, highlight experience (Sept. 29) — Rick Carpenter
Candidates for three local races often tried to illustrate their similarities but some touted their experience over other candidates during Tuesday night’s Southwest Republican Women’s Candidate Forum held at the Southwest Technology Center.
The local races included the Judicial District 3 District Attorney candidates Republican David Thomas and Democrat Rana Hill; non-partisan District 3 Judge candidates Brad Leverett and Mike Duffy; and State Senate Dist. 38 candidates Republican Brent Howard and Democrat Jeff Berrong.
In November, Thomas, Leverett and Howard were elected to their respective offices.
Chili Cookoff turns up the heat (Oct. 10) — Katrina Goforth
This year, there were 2 BBQ entries; 42 chili entries; 7 salsa entries; and 51 entries total. First place winners were Jake Arndt (BBQ); Dani Jensen and Vicki Simpson, Oklahoma Home and Community Education (Civic/Non-profit chili); Sue Tice, English Village (Commercial); Stacey Louks, Herring Bank (Financial); Jake Arndt (Individual); Lisa Worrel, Enchanted Door (Retail); Devin Dickerson and Chasity Williams, Altus Police Department (Gov/Military); Phil Marcha, Grace United Methodist Church (Church); Chad Clement (Salsa); Altus Police Department (Large Booth); Dr. Donut Chili, Kendra McConnaha (Small Booth and Overall Spirit); ReMax Property Place (People’s Choice Chili); and Jake Arndt (Grand Chili and Grand BBQ).
Informational Charter meeting loses formal structure, turns tense (Oct. 24) — Katrina Goforth
Thursday night (Oct. 18), the Altus City Council held a special meeting at Southwest Technology Center to offer information and answer audience questions about the five charter propositions that will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Each of the five propositions will be voted on separately.
Propositions 3, 4, and 5 would make the chief of police, street commissioner and city clerk-treasurer appointed positions whereas they are now elected by voters every four years. If the voters of Altus pass these propositions, the elected officials will answer to the city manager, Janice Cain.
In a separate move, an initiative petition signed by Blackman, Rick Steen and Jerry Don Henry was filed with the City Clerk-Treasurer’s office on Friday, Oct. 19, to present a question to the voters of Altus on Feb. 12, 2019 — the same ballot for the city elected officials’ primary race. This question asks, “Shall the City of Altus revoke the charter which it is now operating, and adopt and be governed under the statutory Aldermanic form of government form of municipal government as provided by the laws of Oklahoma?”
All five propositions lost in the General Election on Nov. 6.