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Iowa Park is the "Town of Friendly Living"

by Dolores Hamilton
Residents of Iowa Park lived up the city’s slogan, “The Town of Friendly Living,” during 2017.
Citizens came together to hold events to raise money to assist with medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of home due to fire, Friendly Door, Iowa Park Food Bank, Kidz Christmas and many others. Supplies were collected for victims of Hurricane Harvey and several citizens went to the coast to help with evacuation and rebuilding.
The city has cracked down on substandard structures and other code violations, and is making progress. Beginning in January weekly bulk waste pick up will be available for all residents.
The year was filled with numerous activities to enjoy including the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, Parkfest and Cruise Night, Fourth of July fireworks and mud volleyball tournament at Gordan Lake, FishFest, and the Christmas Parade and Lighting Ceremony.
Iowa Park schools again saw an increase in enrollment, and students continue to excel in academics, athletics and music.
To cap off the year, many upgrades are being made at the municipal swimming pool and spray park, and a metal building frame was delivered last week to the site of the future Iowa Park Animal Facility, with construction to begin soon.
Following are the highlights of each month during 2017:
At the Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department’s annual banquet, Bryce Skinner was named Firefighter of the Year, and Stephanie Wooten received the Special Service Award for going above and beyond normal duties of a volunteer firefighter. Three generations of firemen were recognized, retired Chief Danny Skinner, his son, Lewis Skinner, and grandson, Bryson Skinner.
A reception was held to recognize Lita Watson for her 27 years service as the Wichita County Archivist.
Iowa Park students did well at the Wichita County Livestock Show. Addison McCalip showed a Grand Champion Turkey Hen, and Mitchell Pace the Reserve Champion; Mason Sullivan had a Grand Champion Breeding Doe, and Josh Witherspoon the Reserve Champion; and Casey Fung had the Reserve Champion in Breeding Sheep.
Tim Franks takes over as senior pastor at Faith Baptist Church.
Winners were named at the annual Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet. They include: S5! Manufacturing, Business of the Year; Glena Via, Citizen of the Year; Jimmy Walker, Senior Citizen of the Year; Kadie Haswell, Student of the Year; Jayla Ingersoll, Educator (Secondary) of the Year; and Michelle Turner, Educator (Elementary) of the Year.
IPHS students Zach Alen and Kyle Culipher took top honors at the first annual Iowa Park Robotics Competition. Senior Hawk Bowie Franks signed to play football at Tarleton State University. IPHS senior KK England signed to play softball at Vernon College.
The city council selected Deborah Dyer to fill Place 3, that had been occupied by her late husband Keith, until the May 6 elections. She also filed to run as a candidate for that seat.
A family of 12 lost their home and all their possessions when their home on James Drive burned. However, the family and their four pets, two dogs and two cats, escaped without injury.
The Iowa Park Community Development Corporation (4B) voted to contribute $9,500 toward the purchase of property for the expansion of Foley Park. They also agreed to share the cost of the Independence Day fireworks display with the city. The Iowa Park Economic Development Corporation (4A) donated $3,500 of their promotional funds to Sheppard Air Force Base for its July 4 Freedom Fest event.
For the 34th consecutive year, the IPHS Hawk Band earned the coveted Sweepstakes Award. IPHS senior Colton Dickerson signed to play football with Howard Payne University. Fourteen WF George Middle School choir students received a superior rating (1) after competing in UIL Solo and Ensemble competition. IPHS senior Ryan Thomas took second and junior Hunter Bagley eighth at the Texas High School Powerlifting Association State Meet.
The month started off with the annual city-wide garage sale, followed the next weekend with the FFA Rabies Clinic and IPHS Plant sale.
The Iowa Park Ministerial Alliance churches again sponsored Great Days of Service, by joining together to work in practical ways to meet needs of the city’s residents.
The 2017 Area Special Olympics was held in Hawk Stadium. Communities represented by the athletes include Archer City, City View, Graham, Wichita Falls, Holliday, Iowa Park, Jacksboro, Olney, Quanah, Bowie, Henrietta and Vernon.
A full day of activities was held starting with the Chamber of Commerce’s annual ParkFest and Car Show, followed by the Cruise and Burnout competition that evening.
Incumbents were the winners in the local school and city elections. Winners in the city election were Deborah Dyer, Tim Sheppard and Sherrie Williams. In the school board election, Steve Fairchild and Jeff Rhoades retained their seats.
One hundred and twelve IPHS seniors received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies at Memorial Auditorium in Wichita Falls. Cody Gray was the Salutatorian, and Sedona Swanner the Valedictorian for the Class of 2017.
The Iowa Park Municipal Swimming Pool and Spray Park opened for the summer swim season.
Iowa Park school trustees approved a bid for turfed fields for baseball and softball. Three Hawk football players, Bowie Franks, Colton Dickerson, and Conner Rhoades, represented Iowa Park in the annual Maskat Shrine Oil Bowl.
A mobile home on East Washington was destroyed by fire, leaving a family of three and three dogs without a home. The occupants all escaped the burning home without injury.
The annual Independence Day fireworks display and Pig Pen Volleyball Tournament was held at Gordon Lake.
Over 30 volunteers held a work day at Highland Cemetery. A lunch of hamburgers was served to the volunteers working to improve the appearance of the cemetery.
Emma Barker, an incoming freshman at IPHS, traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak to congressmen about Type 1, juvenile diabetes.
In an effort to clean up the community, the City of Iowa Park code enforcement targeted almost 100 of the top offenders, and public hearings were scheduled on the city council meeting agendas for the properties. The public hearings are to determine if the buildings on the properties should be declared “Substandard Structures” and abated.
Local author, Beverly Stowe McClure, received awards for two of her latest novels, “A Family for Leona” and “Under a Purple Moon.”
During their budget workshop, city council members were pleased to learn that the city would not have to go up on water rates this year.
Project Back to School Iowa Park was held at the RAC. The project provides a backpack and school supplies for IPCISD students who qualify.
Hawk Explosion, an event to kick off the 2017 fall sports season, was held in Hawk Stadium. All of the athletes were introduced and a class cake auction was held. A fireworks display followed the cake auction.
The new school year began with 1,828 students showing up on the first day, and several more enrolling during the week. School trustees approved the budget for 2017-18, and left the proposed tax rate the same as last year.
When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, area residents started collecting donated supplies to send to the affected area, and volunteers took boats and other equipment to the flooded areas.
The second annual Woofstock and Pupnic in the Park event, was held in Oscar Park by Gordon Lake. The event includes adoptable animals, live music and a doggie talent contest.
Homecoming weekend kicked off with a bonfire on Thursday evening, and at noon Friday a free lunch, the Community Chow Down, sponsored by S5! Manufacturing and the City of Iowa Park. This was followed with the homecoming parade and football game, with Lauren Acosta named Homecoming Queen. To close out the festivities there was a Friendly Door Breakfast, Whoop-T-Do in downtown Iowa Park, and the Alumni Luncheon.
Gordon Lake was closed to fishing by the public for the annual FishFest, which is free for children age 16 and under. Approximately 1,250 pounds of adult-size channel catfish were stocked in the lake. Fishing equipment was available for use for those who do not have their own. Also, free bait was available.
A two-year-old girl is out of the hospital and recovering from snake bites at her home.
IPHS Mean Green Marching Machine received a Superior “1” rating at the UIL Region Marching Contest for the 36th year in a row.
Veterans of the U.S. military were honored with a Veteran’s Day program at the high school and luncheon at the middle school. The following Sunday Highland Cemetery hosted a program for veterans at the cemetery’s pavilion.
A man’s life was saved after the house he was remodeling caught fire and trapped him in a room where he apparently passed out. At the next meeting of the city council, Mayor Ray Schultz presented award certificates to Police Chief Robert Johnson, Officer Derek Vann, Kathy Papp, and Fireman/Paramedic Lewis Skinner for their efforts in rescuing the man.
Iowa Park Hawks defeated Waxahachie Life for the bi-district title, but lost to Seminole in the 1-4A DII Area matchup.
Beginning in January, bulk waste collection service will be available for Iowa Park residents. The city council amended the 10-year rollover contract with Waste Connections to include weekly bulk pickup which will cost $1 per month for city residents.
The holiday season was kicked off with the Lighted Christmas Parade that is sponsored by the Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department. The parade ended at Tom Burnett Memorial Library where the Light Up Christmas ceremony was held, Santa visited with the children, and refreshments were served.
In its first year to compete as a Texas UIL team, Iowa Park High School qualified for state competition after competing at the BEST Robotics Competition at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch.
Renowned local artist Jack Stevens was feted with a retirement/open house reception at his home on Longley Rd.
The citizens of Iowa Park received a Christmas gift from the Iowa Park Community Development (4B) Corporation. A metal building frame was delivered to the site of the future animal facility. City workers have been preparing the site for the building, and construction should begin in the next week or two.