2019 Year In Review - KCBD

Year In Review 2019

Every year is nearly the same in that it has its ups and downs. But it is within those ups and downs that make every year unique.

The South Plains fell into the same pattern this year. The most eye-catching and memorable headlines were a blend of positives and negatives.

Read below for the top stories this year from KCBD NewsChannel 11.


News

Demolition starts on auditorium, coliseum

GF Default - Demolition to begin soon on Coliseum, Auditorium
GF Default - Demolition to begin soon on Coliseum, Auditorium (Source: KCBD Video)

Some carry-overs from the previous year brought updates to Lubbock. A notable change was to the demolition of the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium and Coliseum.

The demolition came after a vote to let the city release possession of the buildings and give it back to Texas Tech. Demolition hepened from April to August.

Since the building was cleared, that space will be used as green space until Tech makes a final decision on the usage of that area.

Link: Municipal Coliseum, Auditorium demolition to begin ‘within next few days’

LISD makes 2 major school facility decisions

GF Default - LISD approves plan for new elementary school
GF Default - LISD approves plan for new elementary school (Source: KCBD Video)

Two major decisions were made regarding schools within the Lubbock Independent School District.

The first came in April, when LISD’s Board of Trustees voted to consolidate two elementary schools and open a new schools in the northeast corner of Cornell Street and Avenue U.

The new school will come at a cost of around $25 million and will serve about 800 students. The new school does not have a formal name yet.

And in late-November, the board made another school decision after it voted to re-zone what is now Smiley Wilson Middle School and turn the existing facility into a magnet school.

Starting next school year, students of Smiley Wilson will either attend Irons or Mackenzie Middle School.

And sixth and seventh graders who apply for next school year could go to the new Commander William C. McCool Academy.

Weathering the active spring weather

A tornado passes through an area close to Tahoka in Lynn County with lots of wind turbines. (Source: John Ryan, viewer photo)
A tornado passes through an area close to Tahoka in Lynn County with lots of wind turbines. (Source: John Ryan, viewer photo)

Mother Nature gave West Texans their money’s worth during the spring.

Tornadoes were reported throughout March and May near Anton, Tahoka and Plainview. Then later haboobs, flooding rain and strong hail storms left their marks throughout the region.

Overall, though, damage estimates were not too high.

Proposition A paves way for road improvements

Parrish lays out $99.6 million Proposition A for county road work
Parrish lays out $99.6 million Proposition A for county road work (Source: KCBD Video)

Lubbock County voters elected to make major road improvements during the May 4 election.

Voters passed Proposition A, which allowed the county to issue $99.5 million in bonds for road improvements and construction. Nearly 67 percent of voters voted “for” and around 33 percent voted “against.”

Slaton fire engulfs beloved community businesses

Landmark business burns in large early morning fire in Slaton (Source: KCBD)
Landmark business burns in large early morning fire in Slaton (Source: KCBD)

Landmark businesses in Slaton burned during an early morning fire in June. Klemke’s Sausage Haus and Antique Shop, the Slaton Family Medical Clinic, and the Slaton Bakery were damaged.

The clinic was able to move facilities and the bakery re-opened a few weeks later. But there was irreversible damage to Klemke’s and the business was not able to re-open.

Though, that did not stop community members from hosting fundraisers to help the business rebuild. KCBD’s spoke with Rod Klemke, who owned the shop, and he explained the immense loss.

Lubbock airport gets a face lift

Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 3 Baggage Claim 2, the surrounding area and south-end entry door of the airport will be closed for renovations. Baggage Claim 2 is typically used by passengers flying on Southwest Airlines.
Beginning Tuesday, Dec. 3 Baggage Claim 2, the surrounding area and south-end entry door of the airport will be closed for renovations. Baggage Claim 2 is typically used by passengers flying on Southwest Airlines. (Source: City of Lubbock)

Parts of the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport will remain closed until renovations are complete.

Those came after an almost $8.8 million grant was awarded to the airport by the Federal Aviation Administration in late July. That money came at the end of the fiscal year and another round of the remaining funds will be given in 2021.

That $8.8 million is added on to another $7.2 million approved by the city the year before.

The vets can finally make house calls

A rendering shows the main entrance of the future School of Veterinary Medicine Amarillo Campus. (Source: Texas Tech University System)
A rendering shows the main entrance of the future School of Veterinary Medicine Amarillo Campus. (Source: Texas Tech University System)

Thoughts of a Texas Tech vet school finally came to fruition following this year’s legislative session.

The construction of the two new veterinary school facilities is expected to cost almost $90 million. The land has been cleared for those two buildings in Amarillo which will include a main site and large-animal facility.

The university hopes to enroll its first class by 2021, and expects to serve 240 doctors of veterinary medicine in its four-year program.

In the market for a new market?

A rendering shows the Lubbock H-E-B location that will open up at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue in 2020.
A rendering shows the Lubbock H-E-B location that will open up at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue in 2020. (Source: KCBD Video)

The president of H-E-B described the announcement of its opening as, “the worst kept secret in Lubbock.”

Many around Lubbock welcomed the new grocery chain, which is set to open at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue in October of 2020.

Amid much speculation, the formal announcement of H-E-B’s introduction to Lubbock came in late-August.

A new chief in town

Floyd Mitchell Named New Lubbock Police Chief
Floyd Mitchell Named New Lubbock Police Chief (Source: Floyd Mitchell Named New Lubbock Police Chief)

So far, the city is about a month-and-a-half into the administration of Police Chief Floyd Mitchell, who started in early-November.

The announcement that he was chosen as the chief came a month before. Mitchell came from Tyler, where he was the chief, and brings with him more than 29 years of law enforcement experience.

His appointment to the position came after former Chief Greg Stevens announced he would retire from Lubbock and move to Rockport to serve as the chief there.

Lubbock also welcomed a new fire chief this year. Chief Shaun Fogerson was appointed as the Lubbock Fire Department’s chief in mid-May.

Link: Floyd Mitchell Named New Lubbock Police Chief

From political high to political low

Dennis Bonnen, Speaker of the Texas House, shakes hands with Gov. Greg Abbott after signing the Texas Property Tax Reform in Transparency Act in early-June.
Dennis Bonnen, Speaker of the Texas House, shakes hands with Gov. Greg Abbott after signing the Texas Property Tax Reform in Transparency Act in early-June. (Source: Rep. Dennis Bonnen Twitter)

This year did not come without political scandal, though.

Rumors began to surface late in the summer of a secret meeting Lubbock’s District 83 Rep. Dustin Burrows had with the leader of a far-right, conservative activist group called Empower Texans.

And rumors were verified in mid-October when a digital recording of Burrow’s meeting, along with Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, was released. During the meeting Bonnen promised the group media credentials if they targeted some Republicans in the House who did not fully align with his and Burrows’ views.

No legal consequences came of that recording.

Link: Empower Texans CEO releases audio recording of secret meeting with Bonnen, Burrows

LBB to HOU

Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (Source: KCBD Video)
Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport (Source: KCBD Video)

And along with renovations coming to the airport, there are also some new flights.

Beginning in April, Southwest Airlines will offer non-stop flights from Lubbock’s Preston Smith to Houston’s Hobby Airport. That will run six days a week, Sunday through Friday.

Link: Southwest Airlines Announces new non-stop service from Lubbock to Houston

Panda brings hemp to Lubbock

The “Panda High Plains Hemp Gin,” to be located in Lubbock County, Texas, is expected to be the largest hemp decortication center in the United States and one of the largest in the world.
The “Panda High Plains Hemp Gin,” to be located in Lubbock County, Texas, is expected to be the largest hemp decortication center in the United States and one of the largest in the world. (Source: Panda Biotech)

Within this year, production will begin at a new hemp processing facility that will be built near Shallowater.

The Dallas-based Panda Biotech made that announcement earlier this month, after securing the rights to 255,000-square-feet of land at 7716 Highway 84. The facility will separate fibers and cellulose from the stalk of the hemp plant.

Fog that caused a pile-up on Highway 84

KCBD crew captures video of semi-crash on Slaton highway
KCBD crew captures video of semi-crash on Slaton highway

It was the video seen around the world – or the country at the very least.

Dense fog caused a three-crash pile up on Highway 84, east of Slaton in late-December. KCBD Photographer Caleb Holder was able to shoot a video, and set up a shot right before an 18-wheeler swerved to avoid an SUV and crashed near where he was.

In that crash a Department of Public Safety trooper and pedestrian were injured, though not seriously. Both made a recovery.

Leadership shift brought to Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office

Door to the office of the Lubbock County Medical Examiner.
Door to the office of the Lubbock County Medical Examiner. (Source: KCBD Video)

With a new leader appointed to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office, progress was made on case back logs in the office.

This came after allegations of wrong-doing, a raid in the office and an end-of-the-year deal.

At last count, five cases were resolved and 167 are left.

Link: Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office

Shane Smith, among others, pleads guilty

A realty company sign sits in front of a Reagor-Dykes Auto Group Detail Shop.
A realty company sign sits in front of a Reagor-Dykes Auto Group Detail Shop. (Source: Michael Cantu)

And as the bankruptcy case of the Reagor-Dykes Auto Group ran past a year, only a handful of convictions came about the criminal cases related to the entity.

Shane Smith, the company’s former CFO, and other employees pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges.

Bart Reagor was also ordered to pay more than $50 million to Ford Motor Credit, the company that initially filed a bankruptcy lawsuit.


Sports

Lady Chaps gain another national title

LCU Lady Chaps Celebrate National Championship
LCU Lady Chaps Celebrate National Championship (Source: KCBD Video)

The Lubbock Christian Lady Chaps received their second NCAA Division II national championship under Coach Steve Gomez.

The team ended the 2018-2019 season with an overall record of 32-5. The Lady Chaps got the title after beating No. 2 Southwestern Oklahoma State University in late March.

Link: LCU Lady Chaps Celebrate National Championship

Red Raider basketball ends a record season

The 2019 NCAA Division 1 National Championship trophy on center court before the game. (Devin Ward/KCBD)
The 2019 NCAA Division 1 National Championship trophy on center court before the game. (Devin Ward/KCBD)

The Texas Tech Red Raiders nearly had the same type of celebration after the team made it to the NCAA National Championship game.

But a heartbreaking, overtime loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, 85-77, ended the record-season in Minneapolis in April.

This was the first time the men’s basketball team had gone that far in the NCAA tournament. This is still in the back of team member’s minds as they ready for conference play this weekend.

But before they made it to that game ...

Five charged with rioting in Final Four celebration
Five charged with rioting in Final Four celebration (Source: KCBD Video)

But the celebration before the celebration got people talking.

A rowdy crowd of Texas Tech fans took to Broadway after the team’s Final Four win against Michigan State University. Fans flooded the intersection between University Avenue and Broadway, later setting fire to clothes, turning over a car and then setting fire to an old couch.

Five people were later charged with that riot. But the bigger mystery was where the couch came from.

Then baseball slid into the College World Series

Texas Tech vs. Michigan in College World Series, June 15, 2019 (Source: Devin Ward, KCBD)
Texas Tech vs. Michigan in College World Series, June 15, 2019 (Source: Devin Ward, KCBD)

And as the basketball team went into unfamiliar territory, Tech’s baseball team went back to a familiar place in June.

For the fourth time in six years Texas Tech baseball went to the College World Series in Omaha. But after being beaten twice by Michigan, the team fell short of winning it all.

Tech ended the season ranked No. 4.

Culver picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves

Jarrett Culver
Jarrett Culver (Source: Jarrett Culver Twitter)

Texas Tech basketball was again making headlines, in a sense, during the summer.

Red Raider basketball player Jarrett Culver was picked sixth in the NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Originally, that spot belonged to the Phoenix Suns, but after they traded the sixth pick for the 11th pick, the Timberwolves got a hold of Culver.

2 area teams make it to state in football

Post Antelopes set for State Semifinals
Post Antelopes set for State Semifinals (Source: Post ISD)

Two area football teams fought hard and made it to the state championship football game in Arlington.

The Post Antelopes made their first appearance and the Motley County Matadors got their for the third time.

However, both dealt with a tough loss. Motley County losing to Richland Springs 62-16 and Post losing to Refugio 28-7.


And with, that anticipation grows in what is to come in the new year.

Though it will bring new, different headlines and stories, the promise from KCBD will remain the same: For Coverage You Can Count On, tune in to KCBD NewsChannel 11.

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