The Woodward News

Local News

December 29, 2013

Projects, events highlight 2013

Woodward, Okla. — Leaders in Woodward typically talk about momentum and moving forward.

There was plenty of both in 2013.

Woodward County and City voters approved sales tax increases for various projects and school district voters in Woodward, Sharon-Mutual and Fargo said yes to major school bond issues.

Those were some of the highlights of a year that saw StreetScape finally come to fruition on Main Street along with the long-awaited start of construction of a new softball complex at Crystal Beach Park.

I'm not so much into lists, but here are few highlights of top stories and events in and around Woodward this year.

Work on the StreetScape improvement project began early in the year and is mostly done with the city expected to repave Main Street sometime in the spring. The project has spruced up several blocks along Main Street with new sidewalks, new curbs and new lights.

Also early in the year, February, voters in Woodward County passed a half-cent sales tax to improve the Woodward County Fairgrounds. The project involves a new 60,000 square foot multipurpose Expo Center and other renovations to some of the buildings. The fairgrounds is one of the busiest areas in Woodward with trade shows, meetings and livestock shows.

After a short delay due to the need to remove asbestos from an existing building, work is under way on the project.

The next sales tax issue came up in August when voters in the City of Woodward approved two issues. The first was a half-cent sales tax to build a new central fire station and widen and improve parts of an increasingly busy 34th Street corridor. The second was a continuation of a half-cent sales tax for capital improvement projects like streets, water and sewer lines and more.

Both passed by solid majorities and residents should start to see construction of the fire station early in 2014.

Finally, in the Woodward School District, voters approved a $29 million bond issue, the largest ever for the district, to build classrooms, saferooms, improve technology and transportation and more.

The district continues to grow and classroom space continues to be limited so the need was pretty obvious. And saferooms have become virtually a necessity of any bond issue - especially after the last couple of years of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Other safety and security features were also part of plans.

Voters agreed with the necessity of school improvements and passed the issues with around 80 percent approval.

During the year, the Sharon-Mutual and Fargo school districts passed bond issues for new construction and renovations. Ironically, those districts had seen similar bond issues fail in earlier elections.

Work restarted on the Crystal Beach Park renovation in 2013 with construction of a softball complex just to the north of the baseball complex that was completed a few years back. By December, work was well under way with plans to use the fields and entire complex by spring.

In addition, a new miniature golf course is basically complete.

Golf!  Golf, you say!

Yes, golfers are once again able to test their skills at a redesigned Boiling Springs Golf Course. The course was closed much of the year for repairs and those renovations, but reopened in September and under the direction of Dunn Golf Management appears ready to reclaim its spot as one of Oklahoma's top public golf courses.

It is now known as Boiling Springs Golf Club.

The year 2013 also saw a number of celebrities make their way to Woodward for various events.

Among the visitors to our fair city:

• Larry the Cable Guy

• Phil, Miss Kay and a couple of other members of Duck Dynasty

• Sanctus Real Christian rock band

• Dueling Pianos performers

• Former OU great Brian Bosworth

• Legendary OU coach Barry Switzer

• Nathan Osmond to headline a concert

Not a bad lineup, then you mix in other events like the Mayor's Blues Concert, Concert in the Park at Fuller Park, monster trucks and cage fights, and entertainment was plentiful in 2013.

So were events.

• Crystal Christmas turned 18 years old.

• The Classic Bowl turned 25

• The Tri-State Oil and Gas Convention entered its second year and as time goes on should be on the bigger events in Northwest Oklahoma.

• The Woodward Elks Rodeo turned 83.

• Woodward took part in the Lt. Governor’s Turkey Hunt for the 26th year.

• The Woodward District Livestock Show turned 79, raising around $275,000 for the young exhibitors.

And, yes, there was more.

Woodward hosted the State High School Rodeo Finals, a major tourism conference, special tribute shows to Elvis and Johnny Cash were held at the arts theater, as was the production of the Wizard of Oz and the Christmas favorite It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play."

It seems like something interesting was happening every weekend.

Some other highlights of interest:

• 8th grade history teacher Chelsea Roberts was named Woodward's Teacher of the Year and she was also named a finalist for the state honor.

• Woodward native Joey Hamilton won the Spike TV Ink Master competition, a nationwide event.

• Local elementary librarian Connie Wise was the winner of the Polly Clarke Award, the state's top award for school librarians.

• Bobby Alexander was named Woodward's Citizen of the Year.

• Amanda Covalt was named Miss Woodward, then Miss Cinderella later in the year.

• Dustin Focht, one of the auctioneers at the Woodward Livestock Auction, won the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship.

• The Northwestern-Woodward campus received its most impressive gift yet - a $100,000 donation by the Stock Exchange Bank and Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook for an endowed lectureship in business, endowed scholarships in business and other programs.

Mixed in with the good news and fun was the not so good news the sad and tragic.

• While Woodward avoided tornadoes in 2013, everyone took time in April to remember the 2012 tornado that took six lives. And residents identified and assisted those in Moore after the devastation of that community by a tornado.

• A massive snowstorm in late February took one life and caused significant damage in the area as well as several accidents.

• There was a drowning at Fort Supply Lake and several died in traffic accidents throughout the year.

• One murder case was closed as David Lee Yelloweagle was found guilty of second degree murder in the 2010 death of Jon Michael Watkins. Yelloweagle was the third person convicted in the case.

• The OSBI was continuing an investigation into the death of 18-year-old Kolby Bowers in July.

• The OSBI is also investigating a situation at Sharon-Mutual involving possible inappropriate touching between a student and staff member.

• Canton Lake, a popular recreation area in these parts, was pretty much devastated by a 30,000 acre-feet drawdown of water by Oklahoma City for Hefner Lake. Turns out, the metro area ended up with one of the wettest years on record while Canton Lake remains pretty much devastated.

This is just part of the good and bad from Woodward and the area in 2013.

What will the news bring in 2014? Stay tuned.

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