Tag Archives: AMM

AMM leaves worthy legacy: MPEV

I have been tough on a “movement” that formed in Amarillo to promote a downtown revival plan that includes a multipurpose event venue.

The Amarillo Millennial Movement, which in reality was a one-woman band, went all out for approval of the MPEV in a non-binding city referendum. The vote took place in November 2015; voters endorsed construction of the MPEV.

What happened next has been the source of my criticism. The young woman who headed up AMM, Meghan Riddlespurger, then moved to Fort Worth. She had argued that the MPEV — aka “the Ballpark” — would entice young residents to stay “home,” to enjoy the fruits that the MPEV would bear. Well, it wasn’t enough to persuade her to stay. With her departure, AMM disappeared.

That’s the bad news. I have some good news to report.

Construction on the MPEV has begun. The Local Government Corporation has signed a lease agreement with Elmore Group, owners of the AA minor-league baseball team that’s going to play ball in Amarillo. They’ll toss the first pitch in April 2019.

My point about the good news is that AMM can take pride in the legacy it has left in its wake.

The MPEV is going to change the face, shape and personality of the city’s downtown district once it’s completed. Indeed, downtown’s appearance already has morphed into something my wife and I barely recognize these days. It looks a damn sight better than it did when my wife and I arrived here in early 1995.

We had lunch today in a new restaurant that has opened in the old Woolworth Building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Polk Street. The Levine Building makeover is well under way. Across the street from where we ate today is another eatery that’s taking shape.

Downtown is full of hustle, bustle and buzz as crews continue their work on myriad construction projects.

Oh, yeah. The MPEV site prep is well under way across the street from City Hall.

Even though the irony that AMM would vanish after its founder pitched for retaining younger residents’ interest in their hometown is too rich to pass up, I don’t want to leave it at that.

AMM’s founder, young Meghan Riddlespurger, can look at her former home with pride at what is happening at this moment.

I am one resident who is quite proud of the progress that Amarillo has made — and is continuing to make.

Hoping these students stay involved

I am privileged to have a number of sharp, insightful friends and acquaintances on my social media networks.

One of them, a retired Amarillo physician, took note of a blog item I posted about Amarillo students who are joining a nationwide “March For Our Lives” in response to gun violence in our schools.

He wrote this: Let’s hope that this generation of young adults can sustain a movement better than the millennials have, who turned out to be just another “me” generation with no real impact. Yes, AMM, I mean you.

“AMM” stands for the Amarillo Millennial Movement.

OK, what’s the relevance here? AMM came forward in the summer and fall of 2015 to pitch in favor of the city’s multipurpose event venue. AMM wanted it built because it would help entice millennials to remain in Amarillo. The city had an election in November 2015 and the MPEV was approved. Construction on the project has begun and in April 2019, the city will welcome a new AA minor-league baseball franchise that will play in a brand new ballpark.

What happened to AMM? It vaporized. It’s nowhere to be found. Well, that’s not quite true. Its founder, a young woman who carried the water on behalf of AMM, moved to Fort Worth shortly after the November election. Ironic, don’t you think? She implored millennial residents to remain at home if the city approved the MPEV; voters said “yes” to the MPEV, but AMM’s primary spokeswoman left town.

The March For Our Lives movement has many more members getting involved. On March 24, Amarillo-area students are going to march from Ellwood Park to the Potter County Courthouse to call attention the scourge of school-related gun violence. The movement came about as a result of the Parkland, Fla., massacre that killed 17 people, most of whom were students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

I have a strongly held suspicion that March For Our Lives — given the life-and-death stakes that are involved — will be far more than a mere flash in the pan.

Older residents need to be heard, too

Once upon a time — not too many years ago — a so-called “movement” arose in Amarillo that purported to speak for young residents.

It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. Its mission was to promote a downtown entertainment venue that ostensibly would be a reason for young Amarillo residents to continue living here. The venue was put to a vote in November 2015 referendum — and it passed.

AMM then vanished. It’s gone. It was a flash in the pan.

Two years later, the city is now targeting the other end of the age spectrum. Older residents are getting to have their feelings known about what they want their city to provide. The old folks don’t have a catchy name, but they are being heard by City Hall, where staffers are beginning the process of developing an action to assist elderly residents in finding ways to spend their time.

The multipurpose event venue, by the way, will be built. Construction will begin soon. The AMM no longer exists, but the MPEV is likely to become a big part of elderly residents’ lives in Amarillo, too.

Don’t you love the symmetry?

There was a meeting this morning at the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission conference room downtown. It was called by Linda Pitner, senior services coordinator for the city. The meeting comprised a focus group of mostly retired men who live in Amarillo. Full disclosure: I was one of those focus group members.

The meeting was called to collect ideas, concerns and suggestions from these individuals on an array of issues, which included: what we do in our spare time; the city’s offering of activities geared toward “active adults”; what residents should expect of the city.

It was a lively discussion. It produced a lot of ideas for the facilitator, Jill Jackson Ledford, who came here from Charleston, S.C., to assist Pitner in the development of the potential action plan. The discussion covered bike trails, mass transit, the MPEV and other downtown improvements; it included discussion of the role of community churches in people’s lives and also included suggestions on how the city can develop more effective “clearing houses” to disseminate information to city residents.

One forum participant, retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney, told of how the Amarillo Senior Citizens Center offers the usual array of traditional activities for elderly residents. He cited bingo, quilting, line dancing and dominoes. Those “active adults,” Matney said, need more than that; they deserve more than those kinds of static activities.

Pitner told the group that men traditionally do not respond well to surveys. Amarillo’s female residents did respond to surveys sent to them, Pitner said. Thus, the men came together today for this focus group.

Where does the city go from here? What happens to the information gathered? The facilitator is going to compile a detailed report. She’ll present it to Pitner, who then will take it to the city manager, who will present it to the City Council.

It’s a long-term process. The current council might act on it. Or it could hand it off to the next council that will take office after the May 2019 municipal election. The decision ultimately will come from council members on how — or whether — to implement any and/or all of the elements contained within the report.

I do not expect this effort to meet the same fate as the Amarillo Millennial Movement. That is, my sincere hope is that it doesn’t disappear into oblivion.

What became of this Amarillo ‘movement’?

When you see the word “movement” attached to a political activity, you ought to get the feeling of a groundswell, an initiative with staying power.

I thought recently of a “movement” that surfaced in Amarillo in 2015. It was called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. Do you recall it, too? Good on ya if you do.

The AMM is gone. It vanished into thin air seemingly the moment that city voters in November 2015 approved a non-binding referendum calling for construction of the multipurpose event venue in downtown Amarillo.

Its co-founder was a young woman named Meghan Riddlespurger, who followed her friend and mentor Melissa Dailey to Fort Worth; Dailey was forced out as director of Downtown Amarillo Inc. When Dailey hit the road, the AMM’s co-founder hit the road with her.

The ostensible idea behind the AMM was to energize the city’s younger residents, to encourage them to stay in Amarillo rather than bolt for greener pastures, more opportunity, greater career choices. AMM got excited about the MPEV and a few of those young folks — their numbers aren’t exactly clear to me — became involved in the pro-MPEV campaign.

It’s troubling to me that AMM isn’t around today to relish the news that came out about the pending start of the 2019 Texas League baseball season, which will include an Amarillo-based team affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the National League.

The Local Government Corporation managed to finish the deal. The LGC persuaded the San Antonio Missions to come here in time for the 2019 season. The ballpark where they’ll play must be done on time for them to throw out the first pitch.

We’re focusing on the baseball element. The team that will play at the ballpark will be its primary tenant. There will be other events at the MPEV/ballpark. That’s what I always understood was the focus behind AMM’s mission, to generate youthful exuberance to attend the various other entertainment-related events at the venue.

Riddlespurger has spoken publicly about the negativity she experienced while leading this AMM effort. That was one major reason why she decided to leave Amarillo. Interesting, yes? She helps found an organization that urges young residents to stay home, then she bails on the city to pursue a career opportunity.

Hey, I don’t blame her for seeking to advance her own future.

The Amarillo Millennial Movement, though, is a “movement” in name only. AMM is no longer around to witness the culmination of its greatest political triumph.

My hope springs eternal. Perhaps another group can rise up and join the marketing effort that will be required to ensure that the MPEV/ballpark attracts the activity it must to make it worth the effort to build it

AMM: Flash in the pan? Yeah, probably


Two groups have taken the lead on opposing sides of Amarillo’s next big municipal election challenge.

Unite For Amarillo is favoring the seven propositions on the ballot that would pay for some extensive infrastructure improvements.

SaveAmarillo.org has formed to oppose the measures.

I am on the sidelines, offering commentary from the peanut gallery. I plan to support the propositions.

I also am wondering: What has become of the Amarillo Millennial Movement?

You remember AMM, yes? A young Amarillo woman, Meghan Riddlesburger, became the face and voice of this “movement,” which arose from nowhere to support the ballot measure that sought voter approval of the multipurpose event/ballpark venue the city plans to build in downtown Amarillo.

The measure passed. The Amarillo Globe-News honored Riddlesburger as a Headliner of the Year for 2015. She took a lot of flak from those who opposed the MPEV measure. The criticism was unduly harsh, unfair and it was hurtful … bordering on hateful.

Then she left the city for new opportunities in Fort Worth.

AMM’s status? As near as I can tell, it evaporated the moment the young woman departed Amarillo.

This is a disappointment for me. I actually bought into the notion that AMM represented a legitimate “movement” of young people dedicated to improving their city’s quality of life; that they were motivated to get behind the MPEV as a lure for other young people to stay here after getting their education.

Some of us — I include myself in that group — saw AMM as a potential deterrent to the “brain drain” that has been depleting the city’s intellectual wattage.

Here we are, a year after the MPEV vote. The city is asking residents for permission to improve its quality of life on a whole array of fronts: street repair, Civic Center expansion, park improvements, police and fire protection enhancements; athletic fields; municipal office improvements. The City Council broke the $340 million package into seven components and has asked its constituents to vote on them separately.

Where in the world has become of AMM, if it ever actually existed in the first place?

AMM has gone MIA


The thought occurred to me a bit earlier today.

Do you remember the Amarillo Millennial Movement? It was formed sometime this past year to speak for those young Amarillo residents who sought to create a more livable environment and to promote downtown revival as a reason to retain younger residents.

It had a young, energetic spokeswoman whose energy earned her special recognition by the Amarillo Globe-News as a “Headliner” winner for the year. Her efforts on behalf of the multipurpose event venue planned for downtown and the success of the citywide referendum that decided the fate of the MPEV won her lots of pats on the back and high-fives.

Meghan Riddlespurger, though, has moved on. She’s now living in Fort Worth. I trust — and hope — she’s doing well in Cowtown.

But this “movement” …

What’s become of it?

I admit I don’t get out as much as I did back when I was working full-time for a living. My media job required me to keep ears and eyes open. Now that I’m transitioning — albeit quite slowly — into full-time retirement mode my ears and eyes aren’t as wide open as they used to be.

AMM was a great idea. Its young energizer spoke eloquently for those things in which she believed. Riddlespurger managed to anger some of her then-fellow Amarillo residents. However, most folks with a lot on their minds and who are unafraid to speak on behalf of their own ideas do tend to tick others off. So, I don’t hold that against the young woman.

I’m curious about the status of this so-called “movement” she founded.

Aren’t there others who can pick up the banner? If so, they’ve been verrrry, verrrry quiet.

I don’t believe the need to keep young Amarillo residents involved and engaged in the city’s future has lessened any over the past year.

Or has it?

Movement founder makes her exit


Movement founder makes her exit


A young woman with whom I am acquainted deserves a word of praise.

So I’ll give it to her in this blog post.

Meghan Riddlespurger has moved to Fort Worth to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer coordinator.

Riddlespburger made a name for herself in Amarillo over the past year. She became leader of a political action organization called the Amarillo Millennial Movement. She became as well a leading advocate for some big plans for the city’s downtown district.

AMM took the lead in promoting the multipurpose event venue, aka the MPEV or The Ballpark, which Amarillo voters endorsed in a referendum this past November.

I became a supporter of the young woman. I said so in this blog. Some comments responding to a few musings were quite critical of Meghan — and I’m quite sure some of the regular readers of this blog are going to toss a few more brickbats at her.


The only negative element I want to point out is that Riddlespurger chose to leave Amarillo after campaigning aggressively for a downtown revival concept she said ought to be aimed at keeping young residents here.

Her departure for Fort Worth would seem to take away some of the sincerity of her comments promoting the MPEV, the downtown convention hotel and all the other improvements being undertaken downtown.

I’m happy that Riddlespurger has answered a new calling by going to work for CASA. The organization does important work on behalf of children who need love, support and the protection offered by the state’s judicial system.

I also am delighted that, if only for a brief time, she rose to the challenge here and sought to get other young Amarillo residents involved in the political process.

I’m not entirely confident the push forward among some younger residents will retain its vitality.

For a time at least, Amarillo’s millennials had a spokeswoman who put herself front and center — and, yes, in the line of political fire — for a worthy and noble effort.