Tag Archives: KFDA NewsChannel 10

St. Anthony’s Hospital campus might get new life

As much progress that has occurred in Amarillo, Texas, in recent years, there remains much work to do to restore, revive and rejuvenate historic landmarks.

To that end, a former hospital campus on Amarillo Boulevard and Polk Street just might become the next big triumph in the city’s long-term redevelopment strategy.

Or … it might not. I will hope for the best.

A newly formed non-profit group has taken possession of the old St. Anthony ‘s Hospital complex. The hospital closed many years ago when St. Anthony’s merged with High Plains Baptist Hospital to create Baptist-St. Anthony’s Hospital in the midst of the city’s growing medical complex along Coulter Street in far west Amarillo.

It has fallen, dare I say it, into serious disrepair. I got a first-hand look at it just a couple of years ago while writing a feature story for KFDA NewsChannel 10’s website. The then-owner walked us through the campus and, to point it candidly, it wasn’t a pretty sight. The place is crumbling.

The non-profit organization, St. Anthony’s Legacy and Redevelopment Corp., is led by Mary Emeny, who comes from a family with a long history of commitment and dedication to the community. Emeny issued a statement that declared, in part, “It is a privilege to begin the work of bringing new opportunities and resources to the surrounding communities through this iconic property.”

That statement might need a bit of translation, given the rather broad and nebulous nature of its content. Emeny’s organization hasn’t yet revealed any details of what it intends for the old campus, or how it proposes to pay for whatever it will do.

I have known Mary Emeny for a number of years and I fully understand and appreciate her love of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle. I am never going to doubt her ability to achieve whatever she seeks to do.

The Amarillo Globe-News named her its Woman of the Year some years back. I do not believe her energy and her commitment have abated one bit.

I wish my friend well. That old campus needs a lot of work. I have faith Mary Emeny will deliver the goods.

Do these symbols speak for a community?

CLARENDON, Texas — We have been traveling through this community for more than two decades en route from Amarillo to the Metroplex … and occasionally beyond.

During a relatively recent span of time, though, I have been struck by the plethora of religious symbols that have sprouted up on both ends of the highway that courses through the Donley County community.

Some of them are crosses, symbols of Jesus’s crucifixion. There are signs, too. They speak about God. There’s a touch of preaching in them; some of the signs speak of the “only path to salvation.” That kind of thing.

I’ve long wondered: Who put these messages out there? Did the city sanction them? I’ve sniffed around only a little bit.

Then I found a link to an Amarillo TV station that rooted out an answer or two.

As KFDA NewsChannel 10 reported: A local resident, Jim Griffin, put the signs up. They are meant to predict consequences far worse than 9/11. They seek to espouse Christian belief.

Not everyone is happy about the signs, or the crosses, or the message some have construed — which is that Clarendon is welcome only to Christians.

Hmm. I don’t buy that. I’ve never felt “evangelized” when I read the signs or look at the crosses.

The signs generally speak of hope and faith. Is there something really wrong with that? I think not.

Yes, it is a curious community feature. I have noticed that all the signs and the crosses are sitting on private property. I haven’t noticed anything on the Clarendon College campus, or at the Donley County Courthouse, or at Clarendon City Hall. There clearly would be a constitutional concern were there to be such messages delivered on public property. That First Amendment prohibition, after all, does prevent government from sanctioning any specific religion.

Not everyone is happy about it. Read the editorial in the Clarendon Enterprise here.

As for non-Christians’ feelings as they motor through Clarendon, I am sensitive to that, too. However, I am unaware of anyone forcing individuals to abide by whatever message the signs convey.

I rarely stop in Clarendon for anything other than gas or perhaps a convenience snack or cold drink. I might feel differently about the crosses and the signs if a convenience store clerk were to start preaching to me.

My response would be: Talk to me on Sunday — in church!

Fritch’s top cop: an inspiration

I’ve commented already on this blog about the dangers inherent in domestic disputes, how much police officers dread responding to what’s known in copspeak as a “family beef.”

Houston Gass knows about that. He was shot in the face on Jan. 6, 2015 while working as an officer with the Pampa (Texas) Police Department. He was responding to a family beef when he suffered the grievous injury.

Gass recovered from his wound. He has since become police chief in neighboring Fritch, Texas — and he’s also been honored by Law Enforcement Today as its Citizen of the Year.

He didn’t wallow in pity over the injury he suffered. Instead, Gass used his misfortune to inspire others, to offer a glimmer of hope to those who are suffering.

KFDA NewsChannel 10 reported that Law Enforcement Today considers Gass to be a “true American patriot.”

As NewsChannel 10 noted: “A willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty and do the right thing every single time, even when it hurts,” said Kyle Reyes, the national spokesperson for Law Enforcement Today. “Houston almost lost his life and has focused on nothing more than giving back.”

That’s what heroes do. They return more than they receive.

For that, Chief Houston Gass has been honored by his peers. He honors their service while upholding his oath to serve and protect those within his community.

Thank you for your heroic service, Chief Gass, and for your inspiration to others who answer your noble calling.

Boone Pickens calls it a career … for the final time?

T. Boone Pickens is retiring.

Reportedly for the third time. Something tells me that this is it for the legendary Texas Panhandle oil and natural gas mogul.

Pickens is 89 years of age. His health has been sketchy of late. He wrote this in a letter published on LinkedIn:

“Health-wise, I’m still recovering from a series of strokes I suffered late last year, and a major fall over the summer. If you are lucky enough to make it to 89 years of age like I have, those things tend to put life in perspective. It’s time to start making new plans and setting new priorities.”

Pickens recently put his vast Mesa Vista estate in rural Roberts County up for sale. He’s asking about $250 million for the 80,000-acre spread.

To say this man has left a huge footprint across the Texas Panhandle would be to say that Donald John Trump has, um, “changed” the presidency of the United States.

Pickens’s influence spreads far beyond the Panhandle, the region that helped him build the beginning of his immense fortune. And along the way, he made his share of enemies as well as friends. He once engaged in a notorious feud with the Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked for nearly 18 years until August 2012; Pickens’s beef with the paper predated my arrival there, but I heard all about it.

I am in neither camp. I am merely acquainted with Pickens. We have what I believe is a nice relationship. While working for a time as a “special projects reporter” for KFDA NewsChannel 10 in Amarillo, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pickens at his opulent Mesa Vista ranch.

I certainly know of the impact he has made on the region and on the world’s energy industry.

My intent with this blog post merely is to wish Pickens well as he, in his own words, begins “making new plans and setting new priorities.”

You go, Cindy Stowell!


I’ve been doing something quite unusual the past few days.

I have been planning my days around a TV game show. “Jeopardy!” airs in Amarillo on KFDA NewsChannel 10 every weekday afternoon at 4:30. I’m planning to tune in once again Monday to see how a young woman from Austin does on her fifth appearance as a contestant.

Cindy Stowell has won more than $100,000 while dispatching opponents over the course of four days. Her back story is astonishing to the max.

Stowell has died. She left this world on Dec. 5, about a week before her appearance on “Jeopardy!” was to begin airing. She competed while suffering from cancer. She knew she had little time to live. So did a few program staffers and the show’s  host, Alex Trebek.

Stowell agreed to donate her winnings to cancer-related research charities.

“Jeopardy!” producers aren’t divulging how much longer Stowell will be on the show; as the champ, she competes until someone beats her.

The New York Times reported today that this show — already immensely popular — has developed a unique following as the nation watches this amazing, brave young computer programmer compete in the amazing brain-teaser game.


As the Times reported: While it’s not unusual for the show to establish back stories for the contestants, the viewers’ knowledge of Ms. Stowell’s condition ‘is to share a sad secret with her,’ Seth Rosenthal wrote at SB Nation.

“’I sit in awe of a brilliant woman earning every last dollar she can for the causes dearest to her; building a sum of infinite potential in the face of her own finality,’ he said. ‘I have never rooted harder for anyone to win anything.’”

Neither have many of us. This story breaks my heart and lifts my spirits … all at once. Amazing!

Anniversary reminds me of how things can work out


This is another in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Everything happens for a reason. Is that too cliché to repeat here? Probably, but I just did it anyway.

An anniversary is fast approaching that reminds me of how life can throw you curve balls. You just have to be patient, keep the faith, rely on the love of others — and by golly, things can have this way of working out.

Later this week marks the fourth year since my full-time journalism career came to a sudden end. I wasn’t quite ready for it to conclude in that manner. It did, though.

I won’t belabor you again with the particulars, except to say that at the moment I learned that the job I’d been doing at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years would be handed over to someone else was like being punched in the gut — and the face — at the same time.

I collected myself, went home, decided in the car on the way to the house that I would quit, came back the next day, cleared out my office, had an awkward conversation with my soon-to-be former employer and then left.

My wife and I departed Amarillo that very day for an eight-day vacation back east. We had a wonderful time seeing friends in Charlotte, N.C., and in Roanoke, Va.

We came home and started thinking about what we would do next.

I was too old — 63 years of age at the time — to seriously consider going back to work full time. I knew I couldn’t get hired because of my age.

Oh, sure, employers said they didn’t consider that. I know better. Ageism exists, man.

I decided to start the transition into retirement.

I’ve been working a number of part-time jobs in the four years since my departure from the craft that in many ways had defined me over the span of nearly 37 years. I was able to keep my hand in the profession I love so much: writing news features for KFDA News Channel 10, blogs (until recently) for Panhandle PBS and helping produce the Quay County Sun weekly newspaper in Tucumcari, N.M.

Along the way I made a startling discovery.

It was that while I didn’t want my career to end when it did and in the manner that it did — I am now happy that it did end.

We’re continuing that transition into full-time retirement. We plan to travel more. We plan to be our own bosses. We intend to see this continent of ours up close. All of those plans are proceeding.

We’ll have some more major changes in our life coming up. I won’t divulge them here. Our family and closest friends know what they are … so I’ll leave it at that.

My wife has told me I seem less stressed out these days. Hmmm. Imagine that.

The Associated Press and United Press International style books always instructed us to “avoid clichés like the plague.”

Thus, the cliché about things happening for a reason seems so trite.

Except that in this case, it’s flat-out true.

Amarillo is dangerous? Don’t think so


A Houston law firm has tarred Amarillo with a designation that I think many of us who live here would dispute.

The Darrow Law Firm says Amarillo is the fifth-most-dangerous city in Texas.

No. 5 in the state! We live in a dangerous community, the firm declares.


These surveys sometimes are hard to stomach, particularly when they portray your community in less-than-flattering contexts.

According to KFDA NewsChannel 10: “The Darrow Law Firm looked at three factors for their ranking: Crime, police, and community. Out of 34 cities in the state, Amarillo ranked 3rd highest in crime, 14th-lowest in police investment and 24th-highest in community risk, per capita.”

West Texas A&M University criminal justice professor Harry Hueston disagrees with the findings. He told the station that studies such as this tend to paint communities with too broad a brush.

I am sure that a recent crime victim might agree with the assertion that Amarillo is a dangerous place. We’ve been fortunate in that regard, so we see the study in a different light.

I know this: I am not going to take any extra-special precaution to guard against someone intent on doing harm.

I’m cautious enough as it is.

Here’s the study. Take a look.


Don’t be scared.

Down to just three jobs


This is another in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Four jobs have turned to just three.

More or less.

I worked my last shift today as a “regular” part-time employee of an Amarillo auto dealership where I’ve been working for more than two years.

No, I didn’t quit. I merely asked to work on an “as-needed basis.” Someone calls in sick? Or goes on vacation? Or gets stuck in the snow and ice? Call me. I’ll be available . . . maybe.

My availability will depend mostly on whether my wife and I are on the road tooling around the country towing our fifth wheel, or visiting with our granddaughter — and her parents and two brothers — in Allen, Texas.

This retirement status has been slow to take root. I’m continuing to have too much fun as a freelance blogger for two media outlets. I’m continuing to write news features for NewsChannel10.com, which is the website for KFDA-TV in Amarillo. I also am writing blogs for PanhandlePBS.com, offering perspective on public affairs programming. The third job involves editing news copy and proofreading pages for a weekly newspaper in Tucumcari, N.M.

I’m now officially a Social Security recipient, joining my wife, who decided to take “early retirement” a couple of years ago. Social Security says that at my age I am able to collect “full retirement benefits.”

But the idea of going to work two or three — or sometimes four — days a week became something that I found less appealing now that our household income took a dramatic boost once Social Security benefits began arriving.

I don’t intend to quit the auto dealer job entirely. However, as retirement inches closer, I am looking forward to spending a lot more time at home doing what I enjoy the most . . . which is to write.

And, oh yes. I also will keep pounding away from this platform.


SW wind = smell of money


Dave Oliver is a fine TV meteorologist.

However, the KFDA NewsChannel 10 weather man needs to be a bit more precise when he asks rhetorical questions about wind direction in the Texas Panhandle.

Oliver — aka “Doppler” Dave — was giving a weather report Tuesday night. He informed viewers of the upcoming warm weather we’re going to have for most of the rest of the week.

He was going through the usual stuff, showing viewers maps, cloud flow, talking about “computer models” and so forth.

Then he said the wind pattern was going to shift in Amarillo. He said it would change to a southwesterly flow, meaning the wind would come from southwest of the city.

“You know what that means?” Oliver said, before answering his own question — which was that the wind would be dry and wouldn’t produce much moisture.

No, Dave. That’s not what a southwest wind means to many of us who live in Amarillo.

It means it’s going to stink to high heaven out there.

The southwesterly wind means those feedlots in Hereford and Randall County will send their aroma this way. That’s what happened today, just as Oliver predicted.

The wind shifted. It was dry, all right, just as Oliver said.

It also stunk up the place with the “smell of money.”

Sad Monkey RR to smile again

sad monkey

One of my four part-time jobs enables me to write news stories for KFDA-NewsChannel 10 TV here in Amarillo.

We call it “Whatever Happened To …” and it explores issues that might have dropped off people’s radar. The Sad Monkey Railroad once ran through Palo Duro Canyon. Then it shut down when the owner couldn’t comply with demands being made to make the train accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, under federal law.

Guess what? The train is coming back to life … sort of.

Canyon City Manager Randy Criswell informed the station that the train “has recently been purchased, and will be refurbished and loaned to the City of Canyon for display at one of our parks … the train is actually being moved as we speak to the Randall County Sheriff’s Office, where it will be restored by the inmates there.”

The train had been sitting on some property near the entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It had ceased operating on the canyon floor in 1996. The former owner, who’s now deceased, decided just to park the locomotive and several cars next to the park entrance road.

The coolest aspect of this is that the sheriff’s office will allow inmates — I presume they’ll be jail trusties who get assigned to these work details — to refurbish the ol’ Sad Monkey train. Sheriff Joel Richardson agreed to the deal that will save taxpayers a whole lot of public money. Think about it: The train’s been sitting idle for nearly two decades, through scorching heat and bitter cold all that time. The cost of repairing and dressing up the cars would be immense if the city had to hire, say, a contractor to do the job.

Sad Monkey won’t be running on tracks through the park where it will be put on display. It will serve as a sort of kids’ playground.

It doesn’t matter. The Sad Monkey train has been given new life.

I believe I’ll give thanks today to Sheriff Richardson for providing the manpower to fix it up — and to the new owner, Barbara Logan, for her generosity in rescuing the old train from further decay.