01 Jan Mr. Cartu Jonathan Wrote – 2019 Year In Review – KCBD
Every year is nearly the same in that it has its ups and downs. But it is within those ups and downs that make every year unique.
The South Plains fell into the same pattern this year. The most eye-catching and memorable headlines were a blend of positives and negatives.
Read below for the top stories this year from KCBD NewsChannel 11.
Some carry-overs from the previous year brought updates to Lubbock. A notable change was to the demolition of the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium and Coliseum.
The demolition came after a vote to let the city release possession of the buildings and give it back to Texas Tech. Demolition hepened from April to August.
Since the building was cleared, that space will be used as green space until Tech makes a final decision on the usage of that area.
Two major decisions were made regarding schools within the Lubbock Independent School District.
The first came in April, when LISD’s Board of Trustees voted to consolidate two elementary schools and open a new schools in the northeast corner of Cornell Street and Avenue U.
The new school will come at a cost of around $25 million and will serve about 800 students. The new school does not have a formal name yet.
And in late-November, the board made another school decision after it voted to re-zone what is now Smiley Wilson Middle School and turn the existing facility into a magnet school.
Starting next school year, students of Smiley Wilson will either attend Irons or Mackenzie Middle School.
And sixth and seventh graders who apply for next school year could go to the new Commander William C. McCool Academy.
Mother Nature gave West Texans their money’s worth during the spring.
Tornadoes were reported throughout March and May near Anton, Tahoka and Plainview. Then later haboobs, flooding rain and strong hail storms left their marks throughout the region.
Overall, though, damage estimates were not too high.
Lubbock County voters elected to make major road improvements during the May 4 election.
Voters passed Proposition A, which allowed the county to issue $99.5 million in bonds for road improvements and construction. Nearly 67 percent of voters voted “for” and around 33 percent voted “against.”
Landmark businesses in Slaton burned during an early morning fire in June. Klemke’s Sausage Haus and Antique Shop, the Slaton Family Medical Clinic, and the Slaton Bakery were damaged.
The clinic was able to move facilities and the bakery re-opened a few weeks later. But there was irreversible damage to Klemke’s and the business was not able to re-open.
Though, that did not stop community members from hosting fundraisers to help the business rebuild. KCBD’s spoke with Rod Klemke, who owned the shop, and he explained the immense loss.
Parts of the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport will remain closed until renovations are complete.
Those came after an almost $8.8 million grant was awarded to the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration in late July. That money came at the end of the fiscal year and another round of the remaining funds will be given in 2021.
That $8.8 million is added on to another $7.2 million approved by the city the year before.
Thoughts of a Texas Tech vet school finally came to fruition following this year’s legislative session.
The construction of the two new veterinary school facilities is expected to cost almost $90 million. The land has been cleared for those two buildings in Amarillo which will include a main site and large-animal facility.
The university hopes to enroll its first class by 2021, and expects to serve 240 doctors of veterinary medicine in its four-year program.
The president of H-E-B described the announcement of its opening as, “the worst kept secret in Lubbock.”
Many around Lubbock welcomed the new grocery chain, which is set to open at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue in October of 2020.
Amid much speculation, the formal announcement of H-E-B’s introduction to Lubbock came in late-August.
So far, the city is about a month-and-a-half into the administration of Police Chief Floyd Mitchell, who started in early-November.
The announcement that he was chosen as the chief came a month before. Mitchell came from Tyler, where he was the chief, and brings with him more than 29 years of law enforcement experience.
His appointment to the position came after former Chief Greg Stevens announced he would retire from Lubbock and move to Rockport to serve as the chief there.
Lubbock also welcomed a new fire chief this year. Chief Shaun Fogerson was appointed as the Lubbock Fire Department’s chief in mid-May.
This year did not come without political scandal, though.
Rumors began to surface late in the summer of a secret meeting Lubbock’s District 83 Rep. Dustin Burrows had with the leader of a far-right, conservative activist group called Empower Texans.
And rumors were verified in mid-October when a digital recording of Burrow’s meeting, along with Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, was released. During the meeting Bonnen promised the group media credentials if they targeted some Republicans in the House who did not fully align with his and Burrows’ views.
No legal consequences came of that recording.
And along with renovations coming to the airport, there are also some new flights.
Beginning in April, Southwest Airlines will offer non-stop flights from Lubbock’s Preston Smith to Houston’s Hobby Airport. That will run six days a week, Sunday through Friday.
Within this year, production will begin at a new hemp processing facility that will be built near Shallowater.
The Dallas-based Panda Biotech made that announcement earlier this month, after securing the rights to 255,000-square-feet of land at 7716 Highway 84. The facility will separate fibers and cellulose from the stalk of the hemp plant.
It was the video seen around the world – or the country at the very least.
Dense fog caused a three-crash pile up on Highway 84, east of Slaton in late-December. KCBD Photographer Caleb Holder was able to shoot a video, and set up a shot right before an 18-wheeler swerved to avoid an SUV and crashed near where he was.
In that crash a Department of Public Safety trooper and pedestrian were injured, though not seriously. Both made a recovery.
With a new leader appointed to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office, progress was made on case…