Welcome to the Meet Your Neighbor section

#katiestrong

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

GreenFamilyBy Traci McMinn

Katie Peterson Green isn’t just the girl next door, she is the epitome of strength and courage.

Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2008. She felt a lump and thought nothing of it. After a routine checkup with her OB/GYN, she was told “there’s nothing to worry about.” The lump didn’t go away. After talking to her doctor once again, she had a mammogram, sonogram and biopsy on a Monday and by Friday, her world had a different outlook. Because of her family history of breast cancer, she chose to have a double mastectomy.

In July 2014, six years to the date of her first diagnosis, Katie’s world was once again turned upside down. She was told she had Stage IV cancer that had spread to her sternum, bones, spine and two spots on breasts. She had to fight for her life once again. She was told she had six months to a year to live. This news would make anyone want to bury their head in the sand, but not Katie. She has too much to live for. She began an aggressive routine of chemotherapy for eight months, resulting in only two spots remaining. All I can say is “God is good!” She continues to receive chemo via a port and a shot to both hips monthly. She will continue this treatment for the next two years. She will have a PET SCAN next month and we will be all in agreement that the last two remaining spots will be gone.

I didn’t know Katie through the first fight, but I have known her in the second fight. I met Katie and her family in April 2013, when her youngest daughter Paityn was enrolled in Panhandle Junior High. Last year when I was told the news, my heart broke for her and her family. Several things went through my mind. “How can this happen again? I can’t imagine having to do this again with my kids as they are beginning new adventures.” I have seen the strength in Katie. Who else could attend pep rallies, track meets, football and basketball games after having chemotherapy the day before? I have seen her at church when she was weak, but Katie continues to bless everyone with her strength.

I think about the wedding vows, through sickness and health. As you are saying your vows, do you even think about having to take care of your spouse? Sickness and health has a whole new meaning to them. It wasn’t the common cold, allergies or the flu bug, but cancer. Usually in life, the wife is the caregiver when they are sick. Not in this family! Scott and their children, Hayes, McCay and Paityn took on the role of caregiver. Katie said “My God, Scott, family, Cinda and Mark Urquhart, church and community have helped me through this all. God placed us in this community for a reason.”

Scott and Katie celebrated their 21st anniversary last week. Scott and Katie have been dealt a hand that most people would have folded under. I asked Scott to describe in his words what this journey means to him. “Katie is the strongest person I’ve ever known. Early on, I would try to keep her home but she would refuse. She would say, ‘I’m not going to miss one thing that I am supposed to be at, whether I’m sick or not!’ She would take chemo for four hours in the morning and be at Paityn’s basketball game that night or attend a Kansas State University football game the next day to watch McCay cheer. Through this experience of fighting death, she has taught me as well as many others how to truly live. It was also incredible to see how the community of Panhandle rallied around us even though they barely knew us. From prayers to bringing over dinner, the people of Panhandle has blessed us tremendously and we thank each and every one for that,” he said.

Cinda Urquhart and Katie have been best friends since they attended Amarillo High School. Cinda said “It’s hard to put in words the bond that we share. She has a positive outlook on everything. She never meets a stranger. She makes all who come in contact with her feel welcome. She is a testimony to all. I love her.”

Mark Urquhart, family friend and pastor said, “Cancer is such a scary thing. I had some of the most difficult conversations of my life with Scott and Katie about cancer. I have also had some of the greatest celebrations watching her fight cancer. Katie’s understanding of healing is on a whole other level now. She knows that God has a plan for her life and that nothing is going to be able to cut God’s plan short. She has become an inspiration to many people and Cinda and I are on the top of the list!”

Katie is the 2015 Honorary Chair for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Amarillo this Saturday, Sept. 26. This is the world’s largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer awareness. It celebrates survivorship and honors those who lost their battle with this disease. Green and her team, Katie’s Breast Buddies, will take the streets of Amarillo along with many others.

Katie’s message to all women. “It’s important that you know your body. You are your best advocate. If you feel that something is wrong, push with your doctor until you receive answers. Get your mammogram!”

Please join in the Race for the Cure. We are #katiestrong!

Meet Dane Ashley, New PISD Athletic Director

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

He may be new to

The Dane Ashley family — Dane, Amy, Landyn, Allie and Teagan

The Dane Ashley family — Dane, Amy, Landyn, Allie and Teagan

Panhandle, but he isn’t new to what makes small town living so special. He understands and has an intimate knowledge of the warmth of a close-knit community where families raise their children knowing their neighbors and where school is the heart of the town.

Dane Ashley and his family moved to Panhandle, where he is leading the Panhandle Independent School District’s Athletic Department. Coach Ashley and his wife, Amy, are the parents of three children, Landyn, a fifth grader; Allie, a first grader; and Teagan, a three year old. Mrs. Ashley works from home as a freight broker as well as being a full-time mom and wife.

Coach Ashley has a long resumé both as a small-town kid and star athlete at Stratford High School and Angelo State University where he excelled as an offensive tackle. The oldest son of coaching and teaching parents, Nan and Russell Ashley, he has called Booker, Shattuck, Okla., Higgins, Dumas and Stratford home at some point in his early life. His brother, Nick, lives in Oklahoma City and sister, Erin, teaches Physical Education in Sweden at an Air Force Base.

His first coaching job was at Levelland High School from 2005-2006, he then coached at Amarillo High School from 2006 – 2010, Bullard High School from 2010 – 2013 and came to PISD from Tascosa High School where he coached from 2013 – 2014. He has coached both sides, offense and defense, and has lead the Bullard Powerlifting Team as head coach, was coordinator of the Tascosa High School’s Strength and Conditioning program as well as helping with the coaching duties in track.

Keen on strength and conditioning, Ashley has implemented a spring and summer program for both high school and junior high athletes. He said there have been between 65-75 boy athletes and 25-35 girl athletes who have shown up every day this summer to participate in the program. A firm proponent in strength and conditioning, Ashley said, “The program strengthens the muscles, then in turn protects the joints and body structure. The goal is to condition and strengthen muscles to increase performance.”

Ashley said he believes all athletic programs should be about the athlete — teaching ethics, toughness, instilling a competitive drive, discipline, accountability and selflessness — all of which impacts other aspects of their lives including academics.

The Ashleys are excited about being part of small town living, especially in Panhandle. Coach Ashley said they have felt a warm and hearty welcome in Panhandle. “I love the fact that everyone waves as you drive or walk down the streets of Panhandle,” he said.

If you should see Dane, Amy, Landyn, Allie or Teagan, wave and welcome them to small town living — Panhandle style.

A New Face At The Local Post Office

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

IMG_8367Meet Kim McCrea, Panhandle’s newest employee of the United States Post Office. Her official title is Postal Support Employee (PSE).

Kim began working at the local Post Office just earlier this month on April 6. She has replaced long-time employee Darla Lemon, who is now working at the Skellytown Post Office.

Kim and her husband, Dennis, moved to Panhandle from Laredo, Texas about a year ago, because of Dennis’ work with Mortenson Construction. He’s one of the wind turbine guys the Texas Panhandle has become so familiar with.

The McCreas have two grown children; a daughter Mariah and a son Mitchell.

As a US PSE, Kim is responsible for retrieving and sorting mail and assisting customers as a window clerk, Monday thru Saturday each week.
Kim is also a Registered Respiratory Therapist and a CPR Instructor.

Say hello to Kim the next time you’re visiting our local Post Office and ask her about a potential CPR course if you’re interested.

Let’s give the McCreas the warm welcome that the citizens of Panhandle are known for!

Farewell To Our Neighbor

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

One of the most beloved Veterans in Panhandle didn’t make it to Tuesday’s Veterans Day Program, but we believe he’s receiving his ultimate reward for the sacrifices he made during his lifetime. He touched many lives along his earthly journey.

This veteran neighbor met and fell in love with his future bride while they were both living in Perryton. When she and her family up and moved to Austin in 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps. Before he was shipped off to England, he made a speedy trip down to Austin to claim his girl!

In the capitol city of Texas, he married his valentine on Feb. 17, 1943 in secret. She was still in high school. They told no one, not even her parents, until she graduated the following spring.

He and his bride were married for nearly 72 years. The two were blessed with a daughter and enjoyed the further blessing of three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

While he was stationed in England during WWII, he served as a plane navigator to the pilot as they delivered supplies to the U.S. soldiers in Germany and France. He left the military service in 1946.

He began his teaching and coaching career upon graduation from college in 1949. During the summers, when school was out, he flew as a commercial spray pilot.

He came to Panhandle in 1967 as Elementary Principal. In 1969 he moved up to preside over the high school for the next several years, until the call to the classroom and playing field won him over again. He retired from coaching, teaching and school administration altogether in 1979.

Farwell, Mr. Hulsey! You will be missed!

Farwell, Mr. Hulsey! You will be missed!

He had a profound impact on the lives of the students he taught. Many would drop in to visit him through the years. One former student said, “I’m not sure I would have finished high school if it hadn’t been for him.” Another said, “He taught his students, but he also talked to us.”

This gentleman gave a lot to the community of Panhandle. He served as Commander of the VFW Post 6972 for 13 years, was a deacon and board member of his church and would gather with the 55+ Club on occasion. One member lamented on the morning following the accident that claimed his life, “He was here with us yesterday, celebrating with the other veterans and having the best time.”

He loved his wife and family, kids, airplanes and sports. He also loved his cats.

Panhandle lost this wonderful neighbor a week ago yesterday, and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife and family. We will treasure the memory of this WWII Veteran, pilot, teacher, coach, mentor, friend, and neighbor Hardy Lynn Hulsey. Heaven has welcomed him home.

Meet Your Veteran Neighbor

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Since we honor our veterans during the month of November, we decided we’d write a couple of Meet Your Neighbor articles this month and feature some really nice U.S. Veterans living here in Panhandle.
In our little community, we have several veterans we could highlight, and we appreciate every one of them and the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf. But alas, we only have so much room in our paper.
The veteran we chose to highlight this week is a gentleman whose stories could most definitely fill some empty pages; all interesting, and even entertaining. When you know his name, you’ll say, “Of course!” He can certainly weave a tale!
He was raised in Weinert, Texas. He joined the United States Army as a young man, went through Boot Camp at Fort Hood and Advanced Training at Fort Bliss in El Paso. In 1959, he was assigned to Hanna, Germany, close to Frankfurt, where he served for 19 months during a time of peace, “Everybody was happy, thank Goodness,” he said. “I didn’t mind not having guns pointed at me.”
We asked him, “What do you do in the Army when there is no war?”
He explained that the American soldiers worked alongside the German soldiers. “It was a job. We occupied Germany. We were there just in case the Russians got madder.”
They had summer and winter war games, where they practiced maneuvers with the Germans. This was to keep sharp, to be ready for war.
One of his fondest memories, during that time, is of handing candy out to the German children. He said the soldiers would go into the woods, and the children would come running out for a sweet treat, bringing comic books to give to the soldiers. “We couldn’t read the books because they were in German, so the kids would read them to us and just laugh and laugh.”
He came back to the states in October of 1960. He returned to Weinert, where he met his beloved bride-to-be in 1962, whom he married a year later and just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with last year. They had two sons and in 1973, his job with the Railroad Commission brought them to Panhandle. In 1991 he went to work for Groendyke Transportation until he retired in 2004.
Carrying on an old habit from his days in Germany, he’s known as “The Candy Man” at First Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and passes out sugary snacks every Sunday morning.
When we asked what his hobbies were, he said woodworking, mission work and traveling. He’s been to some small villages in Old Mexico with a group from his church to build churches and to do some improvement work on schools, homes and water systems. “And of course, to hold revivals,” he added.
We asked, “Any other hobbies you’d like to mention?” He said, “Growing old with a beautiful woman!” He said someone asked them what their secret to 50 years of happiness was. He replied, “Our first date was in church. We’ve stayed in church and kept God in the center of our marriage.”
Good advice, Veteran DeWayne Smith! God bless you for your dedicated life of service to God and country!DuaneSmith1
DuaneSmith3

Meet Your Neighbor

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Janet Martin with grandbaby

Janet Martin with grandbaby

Janet Martin with grandbaby

Janet Martin with grandbaby

We tracked this sweet lady down after hours. She was sitting in a local business, waiting for service, with her cell phone in hand. She said, “I’m deleting pictures of feet that my granddaughter took!” She said there were a lot of those in her phone. Any of you with little ones can relate.

She adores her grandchildren. She has three; a four-year-old girl from her daughter and a two-year-old boy and a two-month-old girl from her son. She loves to see them whenever she can, but they don’t live in Panhandle, and she works.

She’s proud of her kids, both in the Christian ministry. She would have had a lot to say about them, and would have preferred to (being slightly modest), but we kept turning the conversation back to the topic of “her.”

She agreed to the interview. We caught her off guard. After some initial blushing and nervous giggling, she conceded, but throughout the interview, she reminded us, “I’m not very interesting.” We disagree.

She likes going to the movies…all genres, except horror or anything that contains vulgarity. She likes all music, except rap or really loud, obnoxious music, where you can’t understand the words. Her favorite music is by her nephew’s Dix Hat Band out of Lubbock. Again, she would have liked to go on and on about her nephew, but we kept our focus on “her.”

She likes gardening, especially tending to her flowers, which are beautiful, by the way. She loves her kitty cat. She also loves dogs, but doesn’t have one. Her favorite thing is spending time with family and friends.

This neighbor hates to cook, explaining, “Maybe it’s because I eat to live - I don’t live to eat,” which is obvious by her slender figure. “But,” she adds, “my husband is a good cook.” She doesn’t mind cleaning up after James’s culinary feats.

She said, “I’m weird. I like to mow my lawn and wash my car.” She also likes to go make-up-free in the summer when she’s not working. We think she’s an outdoor naturalist. Very cool.
This pretty, blue-eyed lady has lived in Panhandle for 35 years, as long as she’s been married. She’s taught school for 23 years, since 1991 here in Panhandle, in both the junior high and high school. Her specialty is English. She’s instructed seventh graders to twelfth graders in the art of language, but mostly juniors and seniors. She’s been the debate coach and the drama teacher for one-act play.

We know the students love her. She’s one of those teachers they go back to visit after they’ve graduated.

This beloved teacher belongs to Redeemer Church in Pampa, a church her daughter and son-in-law planted. She travels over there twice a week for services, where she is a Sunday school teacher for the two to four-year-olds.

Panhandle neighbors, meet our County Commissioner’s sweet wife, Janet Martin!

Meet Your Neighbor

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

P Segura & kidsHey, Panhandle! Here’s a guy you can’t miss! You may not know a lot about him, but we’re about to remedy that!

You can’t miss him because of his infectious smile. He says, in fact, “I just like for everybody to smile and be happy!” And holding to this “life motto,” he does just what makes him happy.

He enjoys hanging out with his friends, barbecuing, listening to music, playing poker, watching college football and sight-seeing via the back roads throughout the Panhandle. He says he really likes to take in the countryside.

He also loves to cook, from smoking brisket or ribs in his smoker to trying new recipes in the kitchen and baking cakes.

He likes to go to Las Vegas once in a while to gamble. He says sometimes he’s lucky.

He’s been here in Panhandle since 1985, but he’s lived in Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. Hence, his favorite pro-football team is the Denver Broncos and his favorite college team is ASU.

He likes rock, alternative rock and heavy metal music.

He enjoys the company of his black Labrador, Mahala, who he calls his “little girl.” He says, fondly, “She goes everywhere with me.”

This guy was a construction superintendent at Vibra Whirl for three years, but has been with Robinson Grain since 2008 as an assistant supervisor. He enjoys working and believes in working hard. He says, “I do everything the guys under me do.” He’s as strong as an ox, and he’s not afraid of anything, which means climbing to the top of the elevator or going to the bottom of a deep, dark pit. And…dealing with the occasional rattlesnake or two!

This tough guy loves his kids more than anything, a beautiful teenage daughter, Valentina, and a 10-year old son, Antonio, who, by-the-way, bears his father’s same contagious grin.

One of his very favorite things to do is hang out with his son, playing catch or shooting guns. Every Saturday, they go into Amarillo for a “father/son day.”

When asked what he likes to do with his daughter, he just chuckled and said, “She’s a teenager!”

This neighbor loves people, and if he’s your friend, you’ve got a friend for life! He’s one you can count on to have your back through thick and thin!

Panhandle, meet Pat Segura!

Meet Your Neighbor

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Michael Barker and family

Michael Barker and family

Hello neighbors! This week we’re going to introduce you to another shy guy, who you’re not likely to ever find out “in front,” unless it’s his yard. He’s a quiet fellow, I suppose, until you get to know him.

He grew up in McLean, but his grandmother lives here in Panhandle, and he moved his sweet little family here about 11 years ago.
He’s an engineering technician at Pantex, where he has been employed for 12 years. I’d say he’s a “technical engineer!” The man can build anything! He says it’s just a hobby, but he could make some serious money with his hobby if he wanted!

We had the privilege of watching the fence go up around his backyard a few years ago. Talk about technicalities and precision! It took a while, but it’s definitely one of the nicer and sturdier fences anywhere! The shop out in his backyard, which he erected with some help from his dad, is another example of his impressive talent. And the lawn around his home is an extension of his perfectionism. It’s pristine! You won’t find a weed or wandering twig in either the back or front yard.

This time of year, his focus is on his vegetable garden, which sits very neatly in one corner of the backyard. He’s a sharer, too! Very generous with his home-grown veggies. Not his black-eyed peas, though! “It takes too long to grow those!” he explained.

This engineer/gardener has also become a pig farmer, after much resistance. His daughter, who is actively involved in 4-H, begged and pleaded for him to let her have a pig. Knowing the truth about dads who let their kids have farm animals, he put her off for a while, but his wife says, “Once he agreed, he was all in!” He does the early morning feedings, which “aren’t bad,” he says, “until around December and January when the temperature gets below freezing.” He even allowed his picture to be taken with their pig last year after he grew his beard out and found that it was exactly the same color as the pig!

You might have seen this proud dad out on the baseball field helping to coach his son’s team. Now that his son is in an Amarillo league, you’re still likely to catch him out on the ball field or in his front yard working with him any evening of the week.
When he’s working in his shop, he likes to listen to Texas country or alternative rock music. He also likes to hunt. Mostly birds. He’s not into taxidermy, but if he ever decides to get into that, I’m sure his perfectionism will carry over there, too!

He’s a devoted husband to Kristi, a doting father to his 13-year-old daughter, Acacia and his 10-year-old son, Markus and a wonderful neighbor to everyone in the 900 block of Park Street! Those of us who know him are blessed to know him! Everyone else, meet Michael Barker!

Meet Your Neighbor

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

ashley“Would one of you be available around 2:30 to witness a signing of some legal papers for us?” was the sweet plea from this pretty green-eyed neighbor as she poked her head into our office. And, often, this is our typical encounter with her. But, occasionally, she will linger to visit, which is always a delight!

This lovely lady spent all of her primary years here in Panhandle among most of her father’s family. When she was a sophomore in high school, her family moved to Happy, where she graduated in 2002. She continued her education at West Texas A&M University.

Driving to and from work at Happy State Bank, she kept her radio station on FM 96.9, which used to be her favorite country music station. She was secretly in love with the deejay, Les! Imagine her thrill and delight when, as a Crime Stoppers board member, she went to a meeting and found that he, too, was also on the board! She said, “He was like a rock star!”

However, she didn’t actually talk to him until one of Panhandle’s Fourth of July Celebrations downtown. It was 2007, and they really hit it off. Later, that same year, they married. They lived in Amarillo until about four years ago, when they decided to make Panhandle their home.

This devoted wife is also a doting mother of two; a son, Moses, who is going into fifth grade and a daughter, Emma, who will start first grade this year.

When she is not working, she loves to read, mostly Christian devotionals, but she and Moses also get into the Percy Jackson (young adult fiction) books together. She enjoys Christian music and, still, some country, she admits. Old habits die hard.

You might catch her out and about with her favorite gal-pal, 6-year-old Emma. She says, “She keeps me on my toes.”

Playing Clash of Clans (a phone game) with her family is another favorite pastime. Their clan name is “Howling Cactus.” She loves college football, but enjoys watching most any sport on T.V. with her husband and kids.

This delightful lady is a member of The River Church and has worked as a secretary for Inda Crawford for three years. With her sweet nature and calm, cool disposition, this is one gal you’ll want to know! Panhandle, meet The Herald’s “literal” neighbor five days a week! Meet Ashley Montgomery!

Meet Your Neighbor

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

JordanLangehennigThis 15-year-old neighbor has lived his whole life in Panhandle. His roots go deep here, as most of his mother’s family have been a part of the community for many years. He enjoys visiting with his grandparents who live right across the street from him.
He is classified as a sophomore. He and his brother have been homeschooled with a condensed DVD curriculum produced by a Bible-based private school since they were both pre-school age.

This young man is one of the most mature teenagers you’ll ever talk to. His ability to communicate with genuine interest to people of all ages is impressive, to say the least. He not only listens well, but he articulates his own thoughts and feelings with a passion that leaves the listener with a renewed zest for life!

In his spare time, he enjoys listening to every kind of music, but he prefers gypsy-jazz and techno-swing. He also likes to work with his hands, building and creating things. He is currently constructing a life-sized replica of the android C3PO from the blockbuster movie, Star Wars.

He came into The Herald office with a beautiful hand-made leather satchel strapped across his body. When we asked about his hobbies, he said, “I love leather-working!” and he lifted the pouch and proclaimed, “I made this.” Then he extracted from the bag another interesting piece of handiwork; a leather-bound journal. Each item was uniquely decorated with various designs and symbols. Very cool.

This remarkable guy also happens to be the only bagpiper in Panhandle, and one of only six bagpipers within a 250 mile radius. He’s been piping for about five years. His instructor, who he used to see weekly in Amarillo, moved to Montana, so now he has his lessons over Skype.

Known as the Panhandle Piper, our neighbor is also a qualified teacher of the pipes, himself. He plays mostly Scottish music and his usual venue is veterans’ events. He recently was invited to go on the annual Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. with about 120 war veterans to play at a ceremony that honors these men who fought from WWII through Vietnam. His parents and brother also got to go along. He explained with genuine humility, “Being able to squeeze this thing and have it make noise has opened a lot of doors for me.”
It’s an amazing talent, for sure, but this guy’s meekness, combined with a gentle self-assuredness and a zeal for all the good things life has to offer has most certainly made an impression, too! Panhandle, meet Jordan Langehennig!