Looking back at the VDR’s big stories of 2018

JANUARY
–A 2-year-old girl abducted by a man at a Vernon location on Jan. 4 was found safe by police a few hours later. The suspect, Salvador Bernal, Jr., 26, of Vernon was arrested and charged with felony unlawful carrying of a weapon and felony kidnapping.
— Joe Rogers, who had served as Vernon’s mayor since 2014, announced Jan. 7 that he would not be seeking another term of office after four years of leading the city. Doug Jeffrey would be unopposed in his bid as the next mayor in the May 5 general election.
–The unveiling and ribbon cutting of the North Texas State Hospital campus at Victory Field south of Vernon took place Jan. 7. The NTSH Adolescent Forensic Program moved to the former Texas Youth Commission facility after previously being located on the main NTSH campus on College Drive for more than 20 years. The move of the AFP program freed up space at the main campus for additional adult patients and beds.
–Wilbarger County commissioners approved a burn ban at their Jan. 8 business meeting in response to extremely dry conditions that could lead to grass and range fires due to lack of recent rainfall.
–Vernon physician Dr. Adanna Amechi-Obigwe was honored as Texas Family Physician of the Month by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, it was announced Jan. 12.
–The Vernon Chamber of Commerce named Ethan Curtis as “Citizen of the Year” and Lance Spragins was honored as “Farmer of the Year” by the Soil and Water Conservation District during the Chamber’s annual banquet Jan. 18.
–Vernon ISD cancelled classes at all school campuses Jan. 24-25 due to a large flu outbreak that affected students and teachers along with a large number of absentees. A Lubbock firm was called in to sanitize all district facilities.
–Officials of “American Pickers”, which airs on the History Channel, were in Vernon on Jan. 24. Harlan Screws would sell co-hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz some $300 worth of antique items including a vintage BMW motorcycle fuel tank, an aircraft mechanic’s tool box and a B-25 model airplane. The shows co-hosts also visited with Pat More and Mike Moore at the old R.L. More service station at Wilbarger and Fannin, where another transaction was made. The program about the Vernon visit aired later in the year.
–A dedication ceremony was held at Orbison Park on Jan. 30 following the completion of a $60,000 overhaul project. That project included the addition of a nine-hole golf course, new playground equipment including a handicapped-accessible play structure, native interpretive garden, outdoor music center, connecting trail, bench swing, trash can and fall material for play areas. Part of the project was paid for by a $30,000 community matching grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
FEBRUARY
–Anthony Isiah Gomez was convicted on Feb. 1 by a Wilbarger County jury in 46th District Court of intoxicated manslaughter in connection with a two-vehicle vehicle accident that occurred in December, 2016 on U.S. 287 near the Harrold Truck Stop in which an 8-year-old Mississippi girl died from her injuries. Gomez was sentenced to 10 years probation which included 180 days in the Wilbarger County Jail along with substance abuse felony punishment facility for up to a year, and pay a $10,000 fine.
–The Seeds of Hope campaign concluded on Feb. 14 after $98,850 in donations were received. Seeds of Hope benefits various local agencies including The Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club of Vernon, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, Wilbarger County Child Welfare, New Visions, Senior Citizen Transportation and Meals on Wheels.
–An ice storm hit the Vernon area on the morning of Feb. 21 resulting in early cancellations of class for area school districts that day and delay of starting times Feb. 22. Churches cancelled services and other activities that day as well. There was also an early closure of the early voting polling site for party primaries on Feb. 21 due to the weather and several traffic accidents were reported.
MARCH
–Vernon city commission members vote against a proposal to ban plastic shopping bags in early March, pending a Texas Supreme Court review. The proposal was designed as a beautification effort for the city.
–The Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Department announced March 4 that it had purchased new body armor for deputies to protect them in the event of volatile situations. That included bullet proof vests and tactical bullet proof shields.
–Vernon Fire Chief J.J. Oznick announced March 6 that local firefighters Aaron Crumbly and Robin Ragan joined other Texas firefighters battling large scale grass fires in the Texas Panhandles that resulted in loss of lives and property due to high winds and extreme drought conditions.
–Republicans set a new non-presidential year primary turnout record, exceeding 1.5 million votes on March 6.
–Larry Christopher Kirk, 39, was booked into the Wilbarger County Jail on charges of arson and possession of a controlled substance.
–City Manager Marty Mangum announced that J&J Farms has completed laying pipe to connect two refurbished water wells into the City of Vernon’s main pipeline that brings water from the Winston and Odell water well fields to Vernon.
–The Walk-In clinic and Veronika Harris’ family practice clinic are moved from their current locations to the west end of the Doctors Clinic building.
–Jay Hodges was introduced to the Wilbarger General Hospital as the interim Chief Financial Officer.
–Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse, a Vernon based family violence non-profit, received a grant from the Texas Council on Family Violence to operate a domestic violence high risk team in Wilbarger, Hardeman, and Foard counties.
–Michael Richardson is named an honorary member of the city’s police force.
–The Texas Academy of Family Physicians named Dr. Robert Borchardt of Vernon as its member of the month for March.
–Advanced Rehabilitation of Vernon and its dedicated staff received its fifth star, reaching the peak of quality in its industry.
–Local architect Don Wilson announced the completion of the Western Trail Cattle Drive mural across from the Vernon Police department.
–Vernon ISD’s board of trustees and the Vernon City Commission jointly hired a School Resource Officer, TJ Session.
–Sergeant Wendell Smith and Officer Ben Guerra were honored with ‘Life Saving’ award at the Vernon City Commission meeting.
APRIL
–Chillicothe ISD approved deal for another wind farm to be added.
–Lance Bryant is back as the city’s Animal Control Officer.
–The burn ban for Wilbarger County was lifted.
–Long-time Wilbarger County Commissioner Richard Jacobs died over the weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer.
–Rolling Plains Management Corp. executive director Debra Thomas opened the doors to show off the newly constructed Wilbarger County Head Start/Sharp bus barn facility.
–ADA Jon Whitsitt was the lead prosecutor on a winning case of Joshua Dallas White. White was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in state jail for possession of methamphetamine.
–Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), an operating unit of American Electric Power, has named Steve Lewis the new plant manager at the Oklaunion Power Station in Vernon.
–Goodrum Plumbing, LLC celebrated their first year in business. They started their business on April 1, 2017.
–With 152 pinwheels whirling in the wind, the Wilbarger County Child Welfare Board kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month with their annual pinwheel project.
–Michael Boatwright took the oath of office from Chief Randy Agan to become the City of Vernon’s newest police officer.
–Former first lady Barbara Bush passed away at age 92 on April 17.
–A volunteer appreciation banquet was held for North Texas State Hospital volunteers in Wichita Falls. Volunteers were recognized for their contributions during the annual banquet.
–Dustin Swatzell was recognized as teacher of the year at Vernon High School by VISD superintendent Jeff Byrd.
–Vernon High School senior Farai Mubvumba helped launch a project to help victims of domestic violence.
–The city renamed Dean Street to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street to honor King.
–The Lady Indians won the bi-district playoff championship against Baird.
–The Vernon city commission signed off on tearing down the old Gibson’s building.
–Chuck Crain of the Presleys’ Country Jubilee in Branson, Mo., entertained about 115 people at a free gospel music concert held in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church.
MAY
–Charles Glenn Cato and Peggy Lou Seale Harris, descendants of Wilbarger County pioneer families, were selected by the Doan’s Picnic Association as the 2018 Doan’s Man and Woman of the Year.
–The Vernon Lady Lions won the Area championship with an 11-1 win over Godley.
–Billy Taylor was sworn in as Wilbarger County Commissioner Pct. 1.
–The Vernon Lions are Bi-District champions against Brownwood. It’s Vernon’s first playoff title since 2014.
–The 135th Doan’s May Picnic was celebrated on May 5 beneath a cloudless blue sky on the grounds of the historic Doan’s Adobe north of Vernon.
–Vernon Joe Rogers’ last day in office was May 11.
–Vernon City Secretary Christy Cavness Bradshaw administered the oath of office to incoming Mayor Doug Jeffrey, Commissioner Justin Marsh, and Commissioner Pam Gosline.
–In an effort to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among Vernon’s most vulnerable residents, Wilbarger General Hospital, in partnership with the Vernon Farmers Market Association, launched a Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program, a novel approach designed to help those at-risk for lifestyle related illnesses to take more control over their health.
–Vernon College trustees approved the hiring of a new vice president of instructional services and career services coordinator, Dr. Elizabeth Crandall.
–Vernon College Board Secretary Vicki Pennington administered the oaths of office to trustees Ann Wilson and Irl Holt.
–Vernon school trustees approved the hiring of Blaise Boswell as the new principal at Vernon Middle School.
–A former staff writer, Mark Potter, returned to The Vernon Daily Record after an absence of several years to write news and feature stories each day to the Record’s readers.
–Exciting rodeo action kicked off the 73rd annual Santa Rosa Round-up.
–Former Chillicothe City Council member Brian Rambo, 49, was sentenced to prison for 218 years following a three-day jury trial in the 46thJudicial District Court of Hardeman County .
–After more than 40 years of leading Sunday worship services, including nine years at First Presbyterian Church in Vernon, Dave Treat presided over his last worship service at the church.
–Bridgette Lowery was selected as the new Chief Financial Officer for North Texas State Hospital.
–Greg Sagan, Democratic candidate for the 13th Congressional District house seat, paid a visit to Vernon to visit with local constituents about issues affecting the district and the nation.
–Vernon school trustees approved the hiring of a new principal at Vernon high School, Tommy Cummings.
–The Wilbarger General Medical Group gained a new family practice physician, Dr. Kida Thompson.
–The Vernon Lady Lions won an epic 11-inning game in the State Semifinals by a 6-2 score over Emory Rains.
JUNE
–The Chillicothe Lions Club celebrated its 90th anniversary during its annual Installation Banquet at First Baptist Church, during which they presented major awards. Todd Wilson and Dan Creighton were the “Lion of the Year” honorees and Mark Williams was awarded “Citizen of the Year.”
–Dr. Adanna Amechi-Obigwe and Dr. Borchardt hosted the first ever Walk with a Doc event. Walkers of all ages turned out for the event and this was the first of monthly walk to be held as a way to encourage residents to undertake healthy exercises.
–The Wilbarger County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to place no restrictions on county fireworks sales during the upcoming Fourth of July season.
–The Wilbarger County Commissioners Court approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Vernon allowing the city to use a third-party vendor to market tax properties in the city limits.
–Hilda Cavazos retired as minister of the church after eight years.
–The March for MLK celebration was held on June 16. The celebration was for the renaming of Dean Street and a newly created community garden in honor of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
–Santa Rosa Communications brought Fiber-to-the-Home technology to residents and businesses of Vernon.
–Christina Schoonover and Irl Holt were honored as the 2017-2018 “Lion of the Year” recipients by the Vernon Lions Club during its 97th annual Installation Banquet at Wilbarger Auditorium.
–Vernon Farmer’s Market sponsored a Farm to Table dinner with produce from local farmers featured in the dining fare.
–Vernon school trustees unanimously approved major items to beef up campus security.
–After serving the Wilbarger Street Church of Christ for some 11 years, Dave Winn announced that he and his family will be moving from the local church to Jenks, Okla., where he will serve as minister of the Jenks Church there.
–Vernon school trustees approved the hiring of a new assistant principal at Vernon high School, Debbie Pearce.
–Harrold school trustees approved various projects for the construction of a new bus barn along with authorization for construction bids for new ag science and band hall facilities.
–The Vernon Police Department welcomed its newest member, Jak, the department’s newly acquired K9. In addition, police officer Quinton Hall has been selected as the department’s K9 handler.

See more in the Wednesday edition of the Vernon Record.

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