COVID-19 continued to be at the forefront of news in the second half of 2020, but gradually residents learned to cope with the “new normal.”
The second half of the year kicked off with a public open house for the brand new Ochiltree County Law Enforcement Center.
The facility, across the street from the old jail, has 31,850 square feet, and 48 beds, compared to the old jail with 8,500 square feet and 32 beds.
In October, the Ochiltree County Commissioner’s Court officially decommissioned the old jail, as leaving it commissioned would require it to be inspected periodically.
Perryton High School’s football and boys’ cross country teams had an excellent year.
The Ranger cross country team was ranked second in the state, and easily won the district title. At the regional meet, they were up against the no. 1 ranked team, San Elizario.
The Rangers placed second at the regional meet, with San Elizario beating them by only 5 points to take first place. Both teams would face off again at state.
The Rangers made the long trip to Round Rock for the state event. While the end result was not what the Rangers had hoped for, their performance ranked among the best ever for a Ranger team, and earned them a bronze medal.
San Elizario won the state title with 57 points, followed by Melissa in second place.
Team members were Eduardo Castillo, Alejandro Uribe, Jorge Palma, Julian Rivero, Adraian Ceniceros, Jonathan Alaniz and Javier Ledezma.
The Ranger team featured four juniors and three sophomores, so they will be loaded next season.
The Ranger football team, despite a slow start, ended up advancing to the area round of the playoffs.
Their season got off to an unusual start when they hosted Dalhart in their opener.
At the half, Perryton was trailing 19-8, and just before the second half started, a loud boom shook the stands and the lights went out. A transformer had blown, and despite Xcel Energy’s efforts the game was called about an hour later.
Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head, the Rangers, along with the JV and freshmen teams, had to cancel two games, one with Canadian and the other with Bushland because players had tested positive for the illness.
The team improved each week, under new head coach Kurt Haberthur, and ended up in the hunt for the district championship.
The Rangers and Lubbock Estacado ended up with 3-1 districts, and the teams were co-district champions.
The Rangers took a big 34-20 win over Monahans for the bi-district title, to advance to the area round.
Graham had too many weapons and won 49-7.
Meanwhile, the PISD and Ochiltree General Hospital continued to adapt to the constantly changing COVID landscape.
With a spike in COVID cases, Ochiltree General Hospital began sharply limiting the number of visitors allowed into the hospital’s facilities in October.
No visitors were allowed to enter the hospital or any hospital facilities.
The Perryton ISD began making plans for the coming school year.
In July the district announced it would have two options for families to select for the children, either full time in-person on campuses or full time virtual learning.
By October, however, the district decided to discontinue remote learning, because around two-thirds of students involved in that option were falling behind.
Parents not comfortable by the return to in-school instruction, Supt. James Mireles said, had other options such as home-schooling, enrolling in a private school or transferring to a district that offered remote learning.
The in-school instruction began Nov. 10.
By the end of the calendar year, there were 16 confirmed deaths of Ochiltree County residents, along with 104 active cases and a total of 794 cases.
Following is a month by month look at the second half of the year:
The primary runoff election was held July 14. Some 1,105 local residents cast ballots in the Republican primary and 26 voted in the Democratic runoff. On the Republican side, Ronny Jackson was the pick of county and district voters for the U.S. Representative, Dist. 13 nomination, over Josh Winegarner. Jackson received 56% of the district vote. The local voters were more divided, with 576 voting for Jackson and 526 for Winegarner. On the Democratic side, Mary “MJ” Hegar received the nomination for U.S. Senator over Royce West, and in the District 13 Rep. race, Gus Trujillo won the nomination.
A sudden thunderstorm one Tuesday night brought a nice dose of rain and lots of wind to Ochiltree County. KEYE’s official rainfall total was .60 of an inch of precipitation. Another storm, about a week later, popped up in the wee hours of the morning bringing blasts of thunder and lightning and more rain, 1.70 inches, than most of Ochiltree County had seen in months. Another storm at the end of the month, dropped 2.71 inches of rain in a drenching downpour.
A fire burned its way through a salvage car lot northwest of Perryton, and eventually jumped the road. The blaze destroyed 175 salvage automobiles and blew across the road, burning around three acres of wheat stubble.
The Perryton-Ochiltree Chamber of Commerce began selling ornamental bricks to be displayed with the Hank the Cowdog statue at the Museum of the Plains. Each 4x8 brick cost $50 and could be inscribed.
The Harrington Cancer Center and Health Foundation partnered with the City of Perryton to place several sunscreen dispensers across the city, including the water park, golf course, local parks and baseball fields.
The Manning Foundation donated $100,810 to several non-profit organizations, including Panhandle Crisis Center, Ochiltree County Senior Citizens Association, Museum of the Plains, Perryton Activity Center, Frank Phillips College Allen Campus, Girl Scouts, Ludi Pena Martin Accelerated Education Center, Perryton Satellite Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts and Wayland Baptist University.
A severe storm led to 28 broken high voltage poles southeast of Spearman, causing an emergency condition for all substations in the North Plains Electric Cooperative system. Crews worked round the clock to make the necessary repairs.
The county commissioners approved a plan to preserve a trio of vital records books. Two are birth and death records covering the early decades of the 20th century and the third is a marriage record book from 1889-1917. The books are handwritten, and state law mandates they be maintained and can’t be destroyed.
Ochiltree General Hospital trauma department was named as one of four deficiency-free trauma facilities out of 100 hospitals surveyed by the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2020.
Two different rainstorms poured plenty of precipitation on Ochiltree County residents early in the month. One storm brought a nice dose of rain to residents, and another one a few days later brought even more – but only inside and close to the city limits. KEYE’s official rainfall total for the two storms was 1.88 inches.
The Wheatheart Celebration Council donated $1,805 to Jireh, courtesy of proceeds from the Wheatheart of the Nation demolition derby.
After several months without a case, rabies again turned up in the local area. A kitten from Beaver County tested positive for the disease. Unfortunately the kitten also bit its owner and scratched veterinarian and county rabies officer Dr. Randy Skaggs and his technician at the clinic. As a result all went through post exposure therapy.
Chase Allison was named the Kiwanis Club Workhorse of the Year for 2020. He received the honor at the club’s annual installation banquet. Honored as Kiwanians of the year were Rafael Gonzalez, Samantha Gonzalez and Cindy Smith.
The Jennie June Club’s Book Fair celebrated its 50th year. The book fair usually runs the entire month of October, but due to COVID-19 cases among Perry Memorial Library staff, the event had to be postponed to November after being open around a week.
Perryton Junior High’s new robotics program got a boost from several donations of money and equipment. Phillips 66 in Tulsa announced a $5,278 donation to the program. The Liberal Air Museum also loaned the program four new educational robotic kits, and PTCI added a $250 donation.
Recipients of the Gold Star Awards from Ochiltree County 4-H were Tylar Oquin and Emma Barnes. The award is the highest county honor a 4-H’er can receive.
Becky Randall and Nikki Green won the Snack Pak 4 Kids Supermarket Sweep fundraiser at United Supermarket. Randall took a narrow win and received a $300 gift card and runnerup Green earned a $100 gift card. The event raised around $1,500 for the organization.
The Ochiltree County Commissioners Court approved new rules for the cemetery. The main change is a ban on permanent fixtures placed at gravesites, including benches, lights, fences, stone, gravel or bricks. Also prohibited were any future curbing or covers on graves. Temporary decorations for graves, including flowers, wreaths, balloons, toys, banners, and simple ornaments, are still permitted at the cemetery.
Destiny Munoz was crowned the Football Homecoming Queen. Other candidates were Yancey Judice, Jocelyn Medina, Johanna Perez, Morgyn Vela and Leslye Ramirez.
Local winners in the Nov. 3 general election included Bucky Goldsberry for Ochiltree County Justice of the Peace, and Ramon Vela and Pete DeSantiago for school board. Ronny Jackson also won the District 13 U.S. Rep. race.
Ochiltree County 4-H placed second out of seven other counties in their successful fundraiser for Snack Pak 4 Kids. To celebrate, they got to hit Extension agent and 4-H coordinator Scott Strawn with pies.
The annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” was canceled due to COVID-19 and the recent spike in cases in the community. Director Keith Harris said the classical oratorio could be performed in the spring.
Chris Lingo was the big winner in the Herald’s annual football contest, earning four tickets to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and $200 in expense money.
Some 21 members of the Ranger football team earned All District honors. Jahir Romero was named the defensive co-MVP of the district, as well as placing on the team as a running back. Others included Abraham Hernandez, Brenton Heeter, Shep Miller, Junior Torres, Alonso Tarango, Cuyler Feger, and Tony Cervantes, first team; Ramon Alvidrez, Edwin Osona and Oscar Castro, second team; and Pepper Haley, Bryan Chacon, Preston Hernandez, Pablo Perez, Jacob Schollenbarger, Isaac Gabriel, Vance Vyoral, Josiah Garcia and Gianni Escobar.
Three Perryton High School choir members advanced to Area competition, the final step before making the All State Small School Choir. They were Pablo Perez, Jacob Schollenbarger and Tiana Hill. The auditions were held virtually, with students recording their performances and sending them in to be judged by area choir directors.
For the fifth time, the Wolf Creek Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored the “Wreaths Across America” ceremony at Ochiltree Cemetery. Through the generosity of the community, Wolf Creek DAR was able to purchase 963 wreathes for the ceremony, more than enough for each veteran’s grave. In addition, the extra wreaths were laid to honor the seven branches of the military.
Cactus Feeders donated $10,000 to the Ochiltree General Hospital Campaign Project. The donation will be used to help construct a new consolidated family practice clinic, update operating rooms and update the laboratory, radiology and respiratory therapy departments.
PHS choir students went caroling at the home of Brenda Schnabel, their longtime accompanist. She has been ill at home since Thanksgiving, so the students decided that if Schnabel couldn’t spend Christmas with the choirs, the choirs would bring Christmas to her instead.
Don’t Fall Asleep
Johnny Depp’s first film role was one of the victims in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. He hadn’t intended to audition for the part – he was accompanying a friend who was trying out for the role instead. Coincidentally, Depp’s friend, Jackie Earle Haley, was cast as the serial killer Freddy Kreuger when the film was rebooted in 2010.