2016 - The Year in Review
by Dolores Hamilton
The past year has been good for Iowa Park as several new businesses have opened their doors, new activities are available for citizens’ participation, city approved a decrease in water rates for customers in the city limits, and school enrollment continued to increase.
New businesses include Park Light Truck & Auto, Good Morning Donuts, Studio 3 Eleven beauty salon, El Sancho Mexican food restaurant, and Thrift Angel resale shop. S-5! Manufacturing has expanded and is remodeling, Iowa Park Pharmacy (formerly Jack’s Park Pharmacy) has opened in its new location. A resident is considering putting in a bowling alley, and downtown buildings were donated to the city and one will be used for the Economic Director’s office.
Iowa Park schools have seen an increase in enrollment, and students continue to exceed in academics, athletics, and muslc.
For the second year there was a Fourth of July fireworks display at Lake Gordon, along with a mud volleyball tournament. Pupnic in the Park - “Woofstock” is a new event held at Oscar Park where dogs are available for adoption. Tom Burnett Memorial LIbrary and Iowa Park Optimist Club have added several new programs for children and adults.
Following are the highlights of each month during 2016:
Andy Payne was recognized as Fireman of the Year during the Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department’s annual banquet. Tristen Dozier received the department’s Special Service award.
Iowa Park students participated in the Wichita County Junior Livestock Show in Wichita Falls. Mitchell Pace and Couger Jetton led the local group with Pace showing the Grand Champion Turkey Hen, and Jetton the Grand Champion Pen of 3 Fryers. Three Reserve Champions from Iowa Park were Mason Sullivan (Meat Goat), Georgia Haggart (Single Fryer), and Pace (Turkey Hen). Haggart also won Senior Showmanship in her division.
Several Iowa Park residents and a business were recognized during the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet. Police Lieutenant Jimmy Eaton was recognized as Outstanding Citizen of the year; Johnie Brown, Senior Citizen of the Year; Tamara Dickerson, Outstanding Educator (Elementary); Shane Adkins, Outstanding Educator (Secondary); Matthew Cooper, Outstanding Student; and Iowa Park Leader, Outstanding Business.
A longtime business is under new ownership. Cindy and Jerry Clifton, owners of JC’s Auto Parts, were ready to retire and sold the business to Perry Hamilton and Wayne Methvin. The business is now called Park LIght Truck and Auto.
The new two-year alignment for high school football and baseball was released by the Texas Interscholastic League. Iowa Park is now in District 6-4A with Bridgeport, Graham, Krum, and Vernon.
The Iowa Park City Council voted to approve two affordable housing developments. One of them is for four bedroom affordable rental houses, and the other is for an apartment complex. However, during a meeting of the Wichita County Commissioners Court, several Iowa Park residents voiced their opposition to the projects. At their next meeting the Commissioners voted to not support a resolution for the single-family housing project.
Local results in the Texas Primary election, included incumbent Tommy Smyth defeating Mike Pollard for County Tax Assessor-Collector, and David Blackerby defeated Alton Yeakley for Constable Precinct 3. Incumbent Republican Barry Mahler and Democrat Gordon Griffith both ran unopposed in their respective primaries and will face each other in the November election for Wichita County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
Four-way stop intersections were placed in Iowa Park. TxDOT crews installed new stop signs on the US 287 Frontage Roads at two locations, the first at FM 368, and the second one at Johnson Road.
Two Lady Hawks finished in the top 10 at the Texas Women’s High School Powerlifting State Meet in Corpus Christi. IPHS junior Lauren Tatom placed fifth, and sophomore Alondra Watkins placed ninth in their respective weight class.
Iowa Park High School’s “A” Hawk team golfers captured the District 5-4A title after the final round at River Creek Golf Course. Members of the team are Jarod Shepard, Mason Bradberry, Jacob Hawkins, Jarod Brookshire, and Dakota Trammel.
Ryan Thomas won silver and Dalton Adkins bronze at the Texas High School Powerlifting Association State Championship in Abilene.
The City Council voted to lower local water rates. Iowa Park water customers living within the city limits will see their monthly utility bill decrease by approximately nine dollars.
For the 33rd consecutive year, Iowa Park High School’s Hawk Band earned the coveted Sweepstakes Award. The Hawk Band earned superior “I” ratings at the UIL Region 2 Concert and Sightreading Contest. Combined with the superior “I” rating during the Region 2 Marching Contest, the band again earned the Sweepstakes award.
During Great Days of Service, 140 volunteers completed 12 home improvement projects, 11 lawn projects, served lunch to numerous public servants, visited nursing home residents and had a canned food drive.
Iowa Park High School was host for the Special Olympics Spring Games in Hawk Stadium. Approximately 500 athletes and 45 coaches for the North Texas area participated.
Iowa Park Chamber of Commerce’s annual ParkFest was held at Oscar Park along with a car show. Following ParkFest, the Tailgates and Taillights Cruise as well as the annual burn out event. That night an outdoor movie was shown at Hawk Haven Park.
Leah Russell was hired as the new principal at Iowa Park High School. She filled the position vacated by Tim Bartram when he took over as Superintendent of Schools in Aspermont.
Francisco Nieto was named Valedictorian and Stephen Harris Salutatorian for the Class of 2016 during Iowa Park High School’s awards ceremony. Named Mr. and Miss IPHS were Landen Kimbro and Allison Schubert, and Best All-Around Boy and Girl were Matthew Cooper and Allison Schubert.
One hundred and fourteen received their diplomas in graduation ceremonies held at Memorial Auditorium in Wichita Falls.
During the annual Iowa Park Police Awards Ceremony, Matt Ohm was named 2016 Officer of the Year; Jason Owen was named 2016 Dispatcher of the Year; and Animal Control Officer Melissa Britt received a Special Service award for her work.
Three Hawk football players, Gerrit Deatherage, Bubba Harris, and Cole Oxford played in the 79th Maskat Shrine Oil Bowl Classic on the West Texas All-Stars roster. They were coached by Head Hawk Aubrey Sims, former IPHS grad Frank Johnson of Holliday, and Jason Sims of Childress.
Iowa Park Hawk standout Landen Kimbro was one of two Wichita Falls area athletes selected to play in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association all-star games in Round Rock.
The Iowa Park Leader was recipient of six awards in the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest, sponsored by the Texas Press Association. The Leader received first place plaques for Feature Photo and Sports Photo, second place in Sweepstakes, Page Design and News Photo, and third in Advertising.
The afternoon of July 3 was packed with activities beginning with the first annual mud volleyball tournament, followed by Liberty Fest at the Lakeview Church of God featuring bounce houses, water slides and games for kids, and live music. To cap off the day, a large crowd was treated to a fireworks display over Lake Gordon.
A community prayer service was held at Lake Gordon in response to the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas.
Dana Ross Farmer’s Insurance and Music4Mutts held its first annual “WoofStock - A Pupnic in the Park” event with pets available for adoption. Dogs were available for adoption, applications were accepted for potential pet foster homes, and a donation booth for Iowa Park Reclaim Center.
Fourteen FFA students attended the state convention in Dallas. FFA members from Iowa Park receiving awards included Bubba Harris with a $20,000 FFA San Antonio Livestock Show scholarship, and Drake Greene receiving the Lone Star Farmer Degree, the highest such degree at the state level.
With temperatures hovering over the 100-degree mark, Iowa Park’s Mean Green football team opened fall practice. One hundred and five players, including 17 seniors, were on hand for the first of four straight days in drills, wearing helmets, shorts and shirts.
Those who own or lease cabins and homes at Lake Diversion learned they were being evicted and have until midnight, Jan. 31, 2017 to vacate the premises. The Lake Diversion property is part of the W.T. Waggoner estate and was sold to billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets and millions of acres of property across the United States.
Iowa Park athletes took a break from fall practice to perform community service through town, including the local lakes, campuses and Highland Cemetery.
Enrollment numbers continued to climb as 1,813 students attended classes on the first day of school. This is up 54 from last year’s first day attendance of 1,759.
Thousands of cyclists in the 2016 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred made their presence felt with four of the six routes running through the streets of Iowa Park. Over 13,000 registrant took part in the four-day event.
Iowa Park celebrated Homecoming Weekend with a pep rally, parade, football game, Whoop-T-Do, and class reunions. IPHS senior Alex VanNatta was crowned Homecoming Queen, and the Hawks football team defeated Childress 37 - 24.
The city council adopted a $3,567,420 budget for the new fiscal year, and set the tax rate at $0.76 per $100 valuation, the same as last year. Water rates for municipal utility customers will be lower starting with the October billing.
IPHS senior Dalton Adkins competed in the AAU World Powerlifting Meet in Las Vegas, Nevada and not only won first place in the 148 pound weight class, but set three world records in the process.
Fish Fest was held at Lake Gordon, with approximately 1,200 pounds of adult size channel catfish stocked in the lake. The event is sponsored by the Texas Junior Anglers and is free to participants 16 years of age and under.
The Iowa Park Mean Green Marching Machine earned a superior rating at the UIL Region 6 Marching Contest at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls. This is the 35th consecutive year the band has received a “1” rating.
The Iowa Park varsity tennis team earned a trip to regionals in Abilene after winning two team matches in the area tournament.
The Iowa Park School District was sued by a mother whose 14-year-old son committed suicide two years ago. She claims the district did nothing to prevent the bullying and discrimination that led to her son’s death. In a statement released by Iowa Park CISD, the district disputes the allegations and intends to respond to the allegations raised against it in legal pleadings to be filed with the court.
Iowa Park area voters mirrored the majority of county, state and national voters in the General Election, and approved a change to the city’s Home Rule Charter. Precinct 3 County Commissioner Barry Mahler was re-elected with a win over Gordon Griffith.
A blow-out in a 16-inch water main in the 800 block of Johnson Road left hundreds of homes and businesses without or with very little water for several hours. Those who worked on the line had worked 24 hours straight when the job was completed.
The Iowa Park Hawks were 1-4A DII Bi-District Champions after defeating Hillsboro, 35-21, but lost in the Area playoff against Seminole.
Despite the cold, rainy weather the Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department’s Lighted Christmas Parade went on as scheduled, and the Light Up Christmas ceremony was held at Tom Burnett Memorial Library. Earlier in the day, Christ the King Catholic Church held their annual Nativity Scenes display.
IPHS senior Bowie Franks was named Offensive Most Valuable Player for District 3-4A, heading a list of 14 Hawk players to be named to the 2016 3-4A All-District Team. Other Hawks on the first team included quarterback Dylan Meyer, receiver/safety Colton Dickerson, tight end Jay Schweiger, offensive guard Conner Rhoades, and linebacker Branden Brewer.
Several Iowa Park residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution after a nipple on a gas main was broken off while city crews were covering a water main in the 800 block of Johnson Road. Atmos Energy sent a crew from Wichita Falls. The gas leak was stopped and residents allowed to return to their homes.