A lot has happened in Altus over the last year. As a tribute to 2017, we’ve compiled our top 10 stories of the year. There’s no specific order — no story is greater than another — and those that didn’t make the list are no less important. These stories simply hit the highlights of city and county government, local interest and the relationship of the community with Altus Air Force Base. They’ve been listed in chronological order.
Craft store founder returns to his roots
In January, officials at Hobby Lobby, Inc., a national retail chain of craft and home decor stores, confirmed plans to open in Altus in 2018. Zerby Interest’s Principal Caleb Hill confirmed that the craft store will open in the building at 1700 N. Main St. formerly owned by Hastings Entertainment. Since then, construction has been steadily going on at the site. Hobby Lobby’s founder, John Green, grew up here in Altus and the move to add a store here has been seen as Green’s homecoming. A grand opening date hasn’t been set yet for the store.
Miss Altus 2017 crowned
In February, the 47th Annual Miss Altus Scholarship Pageant was held, as usual, at the Altus City Auditorium. Eight young women — Angelica Sanchez, Darcy George, Emilie James, Meaghan Dorn, Brianna Barker, Rachel Reeves, Jessica Wohlford and Talayna Petzold — competed for the title of Miss Altus. The pageant was held in honor of Ovena Milton, one of the founders of the Miss Altus Scholarship Pageant, who passed away prior to the pageant. At the end of the evening, the crown was placed on Meaghan Dorn’s head by Miss Altus 2016 Lexie Herron.
City officials break ground for new Altus Senior Citizens Activity Center
In March, the ground was broken at the Dr. Morris Foster Library for the Altus Senior Citizens Activity Center. A product of Metropolitan Area Projects, or MAPS, the center was the brainchild of former mayor T. L. Gramling, whom Mayor Jack Smiley credited with supporting Altus’ senior citizens. Demolition began in March and was projected to be completed in nine months. A grand opening has yet to be scheduled for the nearly completed center.
Wildland fire blazes along the Red River
In May, crews from Blair, Martha, Friendship, Altus, Olustee and Warren and deputies from Jackson County fought a four-mile fire on the Salt Fork of the Red River on U.S. 62, west of Altus. Helicopter fire services were also utilized to stop the spread of the blaze and the American Red Cross volunteers were on-site to provide food and water for firefighter and emergency responders. No casualties or property damages were reported with the fire. A later investigation found that the fire was started by a road crew working on the bridge on U.S. 62 at the river.
Col. Eric Carney takes command of the 97th Air Mobility Wing
In June, Col. Todd Hohn passed the torch to Col. Eric A. Carney of Altus Air Force Base 97th Air Mobility Wing. As the new commander, Carney’s responsibilities include continuing training of all KC-46 Pegasus, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker aircrews for active duty, overseeing Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units and continuing the mission set out by the commanders before him. Carney said he looked forward to taking on the challenges ahead. Hohn thanked the community for making Altus his home.
Community comes together to repair playground
In July, local volunteers came together with Altus Parks and Recreation to give Imagination Station a make-over. Volunteers from the city pool, Altus Air Force Base, Boy Scout Troop 212, Knights of Columbus, ROTC cadets from Altus High School and personnel from the Altus Police Department spent a Saturday replacing broken rails, fixing playground equipment and painting. In 2000, Imagination Station was the brainchild of Kiwanis Club member Sandy Nichols who raised $200,000 and led the effort to build the playground in one week with 3,100 volunteers.
Miss Outstanding Teen 2018 crowned
In August, the reigning Miss Altus Outstanding Teen 2017, Lynzie Herron passed her title on to Kennedy Martin. Six young ladies — Martin, Meadow Goodwin, Kylee James, Paige Condon, Taylor Robinson and Estelle Isaac — took part in the Miss Altus Outstanding Teen Pageant. Robinson was named Runner-Up and Miss Photogenic. Goodwin was named Miss Congeniality.
Community gathers for a scary-good time
In October, members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 120 from the Altus Police Department along with law enforcement officers from Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Jackson County Sheriff’s office turned Safety Town on Falcon Road into Spooky Town — a scary-safe place for parents and children to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. Officers and volunteers decorated the miniature town in cobwebs and fake bats and dressed up in costumes to pass out candy. With the community’s support, they passed out donated candy to nearly 2,000 children that night.
(Bulk) trash talk
In November, Altus citizens voiced their concerns about the accumulation of bulk trash in alleyways across the city. Their concerns were met with a plan of action already in place by the City of Altus. Two contractors hired by the City of Altus to remove bulk trash began their work Nov. 27. In addition to hiring contractors, the City of Altus continued to waive the 1,500-pound limit at the city landfill with a valid ID and city utility bill. City Manager Janice Cain said city workers will monitor those neighborhoods that have received bulk trash service from the city’s contractors to determine how quickly bulk trash accumulates.
Animal Shelter Kennel Match Program
In December, Assistant City Manager Matt Wojnowski took time to thank the many donors who helped provide outdoor kennels to the Altus Animal Shelter. This year, the City of Altus took over management of the shelter. The first step was the launch of the Outdoor Kennel Match Program in February. The goal was to raise enough money to purchase 20 kennels at $300 a piece with the City of Altus matching every $150 donated. In less than a month, donors helped them more than double their initial goal. A plaque with the donors’ names was set to be installed at the Altus Animal Shelter.
Though a year has ended, a new year, full of possibilities has just begun. We can’t imagine what’s in-store for the community in 2018, but there’s no doubt it will be just as eventful as 2017!