Tag Archives: Texas Panhandle

AQHA gets an offer for a new home

Well now, it turns out I’m a bit slow on the uptake … which isn’t too much of a surprise. My critics accuse me of such things on occasion.

The Fort Worth City Council has approved a 50-year lease that could portend a relocation of the American Quarter Horse Association Museum from Amarillo to Fort Worth.

Hmm. What do you know about that? It turns out my Fort Worth pal was right when he sent me that message, that a move might be in the works. And it further cements the reason for the petition drive launched by Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson to try to persuade AQHA to stay put, to remain where it has called home for 70 years.

I hope the petition drive succeeds and that the AQHA board feels the love that it has enjoyed in the Texas Panhandle for all that time.

However, major cities such as Fort Worth don’t approve 50-year lease agreements without some confidence that the move will bear fruit.

AQHA officials say the “ground lease” does not guarantee a move is imminent. They note that that fundraising efforts in Fort Worth have accelerated. They also express appreciation for their “Amarillo employees” who have worked to make the AQHA museum such an integral part of the community.

OK. So the die isn’t cast. At least not yet.

I wish I felt better about Amarillo’s role in the AQHA future. I am trying to remain optimistic that AQHA will stay put.

However, at the moment it is a serious struggle.

AQHA now the subject of a ‘stay in Amarillo’ petition

A friend in Fort Worth sent me a message a while ago telling me about reports surfacing over there about the American Quarter Horse Association possibly relocating from Amarillo to Cow Town.

I called Fort Worth City Hall and confirmed that there was a City Council agenda item dealing with a possible permit request from AQHA. The City Hall source couldn’t confirm that AQHA was set to pull up stakes and move from Amarillo to Fort Worth.

Now I see a social media link from another friend of mine that deals with a petition drive — begun my Mayor Ginger Nelson — that seeks to keep AQHA in Amarillo. There’s no mention of where the AQHA museum would go, only that it is seeking support calling for it to remain up yonder in the Panhandle.

To quote the comic Arsenio Hall, it’s one of those things that “makes me go ‘hmmm.'”

The message notes that AQHA has been in Amarillo since 1949. It was formed to salute the impact that horse-breeding has on working ranches throughout the entire High Plains region, which includes the Oklahoma Panhandle and much of eastern New Mexico.

The post concludes: “Amarillo and Canyon Citizens: Help us tell the story of AQHA and why it is important that they stay here along the I-40 corridor where millions of people travel through Texas. Let’s show some AQUA love. Let’s save the horses.”

They have even developed a hashtag: #PleaseStayAQHA.

I have determined, therefore, that two plus two still equals four. My Fort Worth friend well might be on to something with regard to the future of the AQHA.

It truly would be a shame if the association vacates Amarillo for another Texas community.

Check out the petition information here.

It looks to me as if something is afoot.

What does future hold for Amarillo’s daily newspaper?

I chatted this morning over KETR-FM public radio at Texas A&M University-Commerce about the state of journalism in one of the Texas communities where I worked before my career ended in August 2012.

On the weekly broadcast “North by Northeast,” we talked about the decline of daily newspaper circulation and the struggle that many print media are having as they transition to the “digital age” of news and commentary.

Well, we didn’t discuss it on the air today, but I want to broach this subject briefly here.

The Amarillo Globe-News seems infatuated with reporting on issues involving Texas Tech University, which is headquartered about 120 miles south of Amarillo in Lubbock. I see the G-N on my smart phone daily. I am able to read headlines and I look occasionally at stories under those headlines.

I am struck by the preponderance of stories related to Texas Tech. Sports coverage, general news coverages, features, editorials, guest commentary … a whole lot of it relates to Texas Tech.

I’m wondering: Why? What is happening here?

I’ve reported already on this blog about how the newspapers — the Globe-News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal — are being managed under a “regional” operation. The papers have a regional executive editor, a regional associate editor/director of commentary; they have combined their business operations, their production ops, circulation and some advertising functions.

It’s the news and editorial coverage that piques my interest.

So much of it these days relates to Texas Tech. Back when I worked at the paper, we hardly ever gave Tech any notice. I mean, the university is way down yonder; the Panhandle is served by West Texas A&M University and the newspaper concentrated its higher education coverage on WT and on Amarillo College.

Texas Tech seemingly has supplanted WT and AC in garnering the attention of the Amarillo Globe-News.

I keep feeling the rumble in my gut that is telling me that something is going to happen to the Amarillo Globe-News … and that it won’t be a good thing for the future of print journalism in Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle.

I want in the worst way to be wrong.

This retirement journey keeps taking strange twists and turns

Retirement is so much cooler than I thought it was when I entered this world just a few years ago.

I have been able to devote more time to this blog. I have been able as well to sleep in if I choose. My wife and I have taken our fifth wheel recreational vehicle on lengthy and not-so-lengthy trips to hither and yon. We have been able to spend more time with our precious granddaughter.

I also have just begun a gig as a freelance reporter for a couple of Collin County weekly newspapers.

What’s more, today I got to participate in a live radio broadcast. Yes, a live event. It went on the air as we spoke the words. Did it make me nervous going in? Uhh … yes. It did!

However, it worked out far better than I expected it would.

I’ll now set the stage.

Mark Haslett is a friend of mine who works as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. He plays host to a weekly radio show called “North by Northeast.” It airs each Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Did I mention it’s a live show? Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Well, I also write for KETR-FM’s website. Haslett asked me to be a guest on his show. I agreed, knowing it’s a live event and also knowing it would give me the heebie-jeebies.

I have spoken on the radio before. It was in 2008 in Amarillo, at High Plains Public Radio. Haslett worked at HPPR then. National Public Radio wanted to talk to journalists who worked in vastly different political environments during an election year; NPR sought out someone who worked in a Republican-leaning “red” area and a Democratic-leaning “blue” region. I got the call to talk to NPR about the Texas Panhandle’s outlook for the upcoming presidential election. NPR did a great job of editing the audio we produced, making me sound cogent and coherent.

This live gig was a different animal. There would be no editing.

Haslett and I talked about Texas politics, the curious recent controversy involving the lame-duck Texas House speaker, the state of journalism in today’s changing media climate and I even got to share a couple of extraordinary experiences I enjoyed during my 37 years working as a print journalist.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this wonderful new experience was that it went by like lightning. They told me at KETR this morning that it would fly by rapidly. Oh, man … they were so right.

Before I could barely catch my breath, the hour was done. Haslett signed off. I leaned back in my chair and heaved a sigh of relief that I didn’t mess up.

Could I do this again? Yes. Probably. Just not right away. I have great admiration for those who talk for a living. I prefer simply to write.

Thank you for the concern, but … it’s going to be all right

I have been getting some interesting responses to my announced plans to attend a Donald Trump “MAGA Rally” at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Some of my social media contacts — and a member of my family — have expressed some concern for my safety. They are afraid of the president’s followers, believing that they’re going to sniff me out — as someone who, um, is not a follower — and perhaps rough me up. They’ve been known to do that during campaign rallies, right?

Well, I feel the need to explain my plan while attending this event, which is set for Oct. 17.

I have wanted to see a Donald Trump rally up close ever since he entered political life in June 2015, when he announced his presidential campaign. Trump never brought his campaign to Amarillo, where I lived during his successful campaign for the presidency in 2016; I guess the Texas Panhandle was too much of a sure thing for Trump to “waste” his time and effort.

So, he’s coming to Dallas to have a rally in which he is going to exhort the faithful to help him “Keep America Great.” The Trump campaign, though, is calling it a “MAGA Rally,” which is sort of a takeoff from his 2016 campaign theme.

Hey, I intend to listen quietly while standing on the floor of the AAC. I won’t be cheering, stomping my feet, carrying on. Will that give me away? Will that serve as a clue to the crowd of Trumpsters in the arena that I ain’t one of ’em? 

Beats the devil out of me.

I do know how to behave myself in this context, however. What’s more, I will make sure to exit the building immediately at the first sign of trouble. I want to make that point abundantly clear.

Then I intend to report on all that I see and hear on this blog at the MAGA Rally. I trust you’ll get my drift.

It should be a fun and edifying evening among the Trump faithful.

Will this highway work ever end … ever?

AMARILLO, Texas — OK, we haven’t been away all that long from the city we called home for more than two decades.

However, upon our return for a brief visit, my wife and I had hoped to see some tangible progress in the seemingly interminable construction that is ongoing along Interstate 40.

Silly us.

I am acutely aware that civil engineers can see progress. I don’t want to speak ill of the hardworking construction crews, particularly as they toil in 100-degree and the incessant wind that rips across the Panhandle; so I won’t speak ill of them.

Our drive along I-40 from near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, though, was fraught with discomfort as we pulled our fifth wheel RV westward toward the RV park where we will spend the next couple of nights.

These heavy-duty jobs send my mind into flights of fantasy. I keep trying to picture in my mind’s eye what the finished interstate highway will look like once it’s done. I had hoped to get a clear vision of what awaits when we arrived in Amarillo. Sadly, I am not there … yet!

Hey, maybe I need to see some renderings. Or some detailed plans.

We’ll depart Amarillo soon for points north and west. We don’t know when we’ll return. I fully expect, though, to hear plenty of griping and moaning from our former neighbors here as they seek to weave their way through the construction barrels along the narrowed construction lanes.

I’ve preached patience before about these projects. The payoff will be a highway that presumably will be safer, roomier and more conducive to safe highway travel.

I’m just waiting — with my own brand of patience — to see greater steps toward its conclusion.

Malcolm X has a street named in his memory … imagine that

The nation is being flummoxed in recent days with debate over race relations, bullying of ethnic minorities, the slaughter of Latinos and other Americans in two American cities by madmen packing assault weapons.

Then I noticed a picture this morning in the Dallas Morning News. It was of a street sign carrying the name of Malcolm X; it’s in South Dallas, as is the sign posted with this brief blog item.

It struck me immediately that Malcolm X once was known as a fiery African-American radical, a member of the Nation of Islam. He preached for the separation of the races — black and white. He once adhered to the Black Panther mantra of “anything goes” to achieve a goal; and by “anything,” it meant violent means if necessary.

Toward the end of his life, though, Malcolm X mellowed. He moved more toward the Martin Luther King Jr. philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience. He doused the fire in his rhetoric whenever he spoke.

Then in 1965, while delivering a speech in New York City, Malcolm X was gunned down by Nation of Islam devotees who didn’t like his transformation into a more mainstream civil rights leader.

But the sign identifying a street in his memory caught my eye this morning. I lived in two Texas communities prior to moving to Collin County this past year — Beaumont and Amarillo — that have wrestled mightily with naming streets after MLK Jr. Beaumont eventually built a beautiful parkway that cuts through the middle of the city; Amarillo hasn’t done it … yet. That they would even consider naming a thoroughfare after Malcolm X is, to my way of thinking, incomprehensible.

Where am I going with this? I merely want to point out that some communities are able to look way past certain aspects of individuals’ history and recognize their total body of work.

As my wife and I are fairly new to the Dallas area, I was unaware of Malcolm X’s name being memorialized in this manner. I’m glad I saw it and am glad to share these meager thoughts as we grapple with the national trauma brought upon us in a hail of insane gunfire.

Having trouble letting go

I must admit to a peculiar circumstance that I will not define as a “problem.”

It is an unwillingness to let go of affairs occurring in the city where my wife and I used to live. I refer to Amarillo, Texas, way up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, on the Caprock … in a place I used to “affectionately” refer to as the Texas Tundra.

We moved away a little more than a year ago, yet I am continuing to devote a bit of High Plains Blogger’s posts to events that occur in the Texas Panhandle’s unofficial “capital” city.

You know what? I am going to keep both eyes and both ears attuned to what’s happening there. Why? The city is undergoing a significant change of personality, if not character. I want to watchdog it. I want to keep my channels of communication open to the community my wife and I called home for 23 years.

The truth is my wife and I lived in Amarillo longer than have lived in any community during our nearly 48 years of married life together. We were married in Portland, Ore., but moved to Beaumont 13 years later; we stayed on the Gulf Coast for not quite 11 years before heading northwest to the other end of this vast state.

I enjoyed some modest success during all those years as a working man. Retirement arrived in 2012. We stayed in our home until late 2017. We moved into our recreational vehicle, then sold our house in March 2018. Our granddaughter’s birth in 2013 and our desire to be near her as she grows up lured us to the Metroplex … but you know about that already.

But Amarillo retains a peculiar hold on my interests.

I am delighted with the progress of the city’s downtown redevelopment. The city’s baseball fans are turning out in droves to watch the Sod Poodles play AA minor-league hardball. Texas Tech University is marching full speed toward opening a school of veterinary medicine at Tech’s Health Sciences Center campus at the western edge of Amarillo. The Texas highway department is going to begin work soon on an extension of Loop 335 along Helium Road. Interstates 40 and 27 are under extensive construction.

I want to keep up with the progress that’s occurring in Amarillo.

I also intend to stay alert to problems that might arise along the way.

So, I intend to declare my intention to devote a good bit of this blog for the foreseeable future on matters affecting a fascinating — albeit at times infuriating — community.

Although we no longer call Amarillo our “home,” the community is not far from my heart.

Empower Texans endorses Trump, but am wondering why

At one level, this is no surprise. Empower Texans, the far-right political action group that often targets “establishment Republicans” for defeat in favor of far-righties, has endorsed Donald J. Trump for re-election as president of the United States.

I want to share the endorsement here. 

It is authored by Michael Quinn Sullivan, the CEO of the outfit. He calls the 2020 election a watershed event for Texans and it is utterly critical, he said, for Texans to join the rest of the country in sending Trump back into office for four more years.

It amazes me. I am stunned. Astonished. Perplexed. Baffled. Bumfuzzled.

I always thought of Empower Texans as a rigid ideological organization. It adheres to a doctrine that calls for extreme fiscal restraint. Empower Texans was born out of the TEA Party movement and I figure it has morphed into an ally of the Texas Freedom Caucus, which is part of the larger conservative movement that has taken control of the Republican Party.

Trump, though, doesn’t have an ideology. He tilts at whatever forces are pushing him.

But he kowtows to tyrants. He denigrates our intelligence agencies. He actually invited the Russians to attack our electoral system in 2020 the way they did in 2016. He ridiculous our allies in Europe, Australia, Asia and Latin America.

Trump, moreover, has talked about spending a trillion or so dollars to rebuild our nation’s transportation infrastructure, which by itself isn’t a bad thing. The problem, though, is that he cannot work with Democrats to come up with a plan on how to do it, or certainly how to pay for it.

Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” It only has gotten even swampier since he took office. Oh, yeah … let’s not forget those key aides who have been indicted, pleaded guilty or are actually serving time in the slammer.

Empower Texans has managed to stick its collective political nose into local races around the state, seeking to elect legislators who cotton to its rigid ideology. It has failed even in the most conservative regions of Texas, such as the Panhandle, to elect legislative candidates to its liking. Why? Because local folks don’t like being dictated to by ideologues of any stripe, even far-right-wingers such as Empower Texans.

This group never is going to win me over. Its endorsement of Donald John Trump is no surprise to me, even though I still cannot comprehend why, given the president’s utter lack of moral/political/ideological base.

Nor should it surprise readers of this blog that I believe Empower Texans has made a patently foolish decision to stand with a president who is completely unfit for the office he occupies.

Happy Trails, Part 161: Meeting the neighbors

I am living, breathing, talking proof that rear-entry driveways have helped damage neighborly relations among folks.

How do I know this? We sold our house in Amarillo more than a year ago after living in it for more than two decades. We had it built from the ground up. It had a rear-entry garage that allowed us to drive our vehicle from an alley that ran along the rear of our homes.

We had infrequent exchanges with our neighbors. Why? We hardly ever saw them.

It’s different these days. Our retirement journey has taken us to Princeton. Our new home has a driveway that faces onto the street.

Here’s the benefit we have accrued from this new arrangement: We have gotten acquainted early with several our neighbors on our side of the street and also across the street.

My wife and I know the names of folks living in two residences across the street; we know the names of both our next-door neighbors, as well as the neighbors two and three doors to our east.

I have concluded that with front-entry driveways we have returned to a more neighborly environment than what we experienced for 22 years living in our Amarillo home.

It’s not that our neighbors in Princeton are friendlier than they were in Amarillo. Indeed, we became good friends with several of the families living on our street in Amarillo. It took some time, given the rear-entry garages that prevented a lot of regular face-to-face interaction with them.

Make no mistake that Panhandle residents pride themselves on their friendliness, their sense of community. We would hear about it regularly as we went through our day over many years.

Now, though, our daily routine as we go about our day in the home with our front-entry driveway includes a lot more frequent interaction with our neighbors along our street.

It’s nice to know the folks with whom we share this neighborhood.