An unprecedented year of firsts

The remarkable year that was 2020 is all but in the books. As normal life ended and the Coronavirus season began, here is the first half of a two-part story looking back at 2020.
JANUARY
TOP HEADLINE: Tom Graham retires as Davis city manager
Jan. 1: The Davis Depot, which houses the museum, received a new paint job. Elementary school teacher Sandy Slater was recognized by principal Tammie Webb after she received a positive letter from a parent. Dani McClellan, a DHS graduate, talked about her overseas adventures to Michelle Curtis’ pre-K class. Leadership Murray County Class 16 completed its study of local government.
Jan. 8: Monte Thompson, interim city manager, was on the job Jan. 2 after Tom Graham, city manager, announced his early retirement. Work began on the splash pad at Fullerton Park in anticipation of a summer completion. The sidewalk and the foot bridge over the waterway in front of Landmark Bank was the focus for the sidewalk project this week. Andy Pannell of Sulphur was attacked by a pit bulldog near Turner Falls Inn as he trained for a 100-mile race.
Jan. 15: Wrestling queen candidates were: senior Charli Cottrell, junior Morgan Scott and sophomore Jaylee Jennings. City employees threw a surprise retirement party for outgoing city manager Tom Graham. Davis wrestlers placed sixth out of 18 teams at the Pauls Valley tournament. A busy week for the high school basketball teams ended with wins over Wynnewood. Kent Dale, DHS graduate, returned from a trip to Ukraine, where he taught a course to students working on master’s degrees in Christian business ethics.
Jan. 22: A new district-wide security camera system was purchased by the Davis School system with leftover bond money. The DHS Academic Team won third at the area tournament; Grant Millsap was named Tetra-County Conference top scorer. DHS Wolves of Excellence for January were Lacie Kennedy, Kourtney Randall, Grant Millsap and Kyler Baldwin.
Jan. 29: Pam Henley retired from the Murray County Clerk’s office with 35 years of service. Senior Charli Cottrell was crowned wrestling homecoming queen. Others in the homecoming court were sophomore Jaylee Jennings, junior Morgan Scott, flower girl Mirabelle Bennett and crown bearer Axton Ulrich. A $15,000 pump at the water plant was damaged by both flushable and nonflushable wipes. Heath Foster joined Vision Bank as a commercial loan officer. Sooner Foods assured the readers that it was pro-Davis and “not ready to give up,” citing the difficulty customers had getting into the parking lot during road construction.
FEBRUARY
TOP HEADLINE: New Community Center opens at former church
Feb. 5: Jennie Melton was named the Helen Webber Citizen of the Year at the chamber of commerce banquet. Roy Rogers was honored with a plaque from the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System. Brock Bolding, Kerstin Goodin, Kenzie Rodriguez and Taylor Taliaferro were listed on the honor rolls at University of Central Oklahoma. Jolee Grinstead with 19 points and Chloe Summers with 11 were top scorers in games against Purcell and Bridge Creek; Jett Martin with 12 and 24 points led the boys’ team in both games.
Feb. 12: Senior Jolee Grinstead was crowned basketball homecoming queen; Jacie LaNoy, sophomore, and Jordan Brown, junior, completed her court along with flower girl, Emma Smith, and crown bearer, Asher Idleman. Cobi Jo Wells was a page at the state Capitol for state Rep. Charles McCall. Landmark Bank reopened as Simmons Bank on Feb. 18. Brendan Rawls, Baer Webb, Daityn Webb and Kallee Boatwright earned medals at the Junior High All State wrestling tournament. A new bridge on Sooner Rock Road that spans Colbert Creek was officially opened by County Commissioner Darrell Hudson.
Feb. 19: Jessica Williams, Randall Johnson and Pam Parrot were named Davis teachers of the year, and Rene Buchanan received support staff of the year recognition. Cooper Webb signed a letter of intent to play football at Northeastern A&M College. The new Davis Community Center at the former United Methodist Church, 308 S. Third, was set to open in early March. Sooner Foods was offering free home delivery for a limited time because of Main Street road construction. Lane Parker and Jett Martin with six points each, and Logan Pruitt with 13 led the boys’ and girls’ teams in the final game of the regular basketball season at Marlow.
Feb. 26: Davis was applying for a federal grant to help with streets, sewers, storm water drainage and more. Preparation for the 2020 federal census was under way in the county. Taxable sales in Davis totaled $46.4 million in 2019. The Davis girls and boys basketball teams fell to Kingston in district play. Cooper Webb advanced to state at the regional wrestling tournament, and Jake Britt was selected as an alternate. Gage Busby joined an Ada CPA firm. Wolves of Excellence were Bijoux Melton, Eastyn Becker, Ayanna Miller and Morgan Terrell. Murray County 4-H air rifle shooters brought home medals from the state air rifle match. Changing Course Foundation celebrated a ribbon cutting.
MARCH
TOP HEADLINE: Coronavirus chaos commences
March 4: Davis FFA members Kobee Jones, Houston Dixon-Phillips and Connor Mohr won grand champion honors at the Murray County Junior Livestock Show. Cooper Webb won his third consecutive wrestling state championship title. Daityn Webb and Jaylee Jennings wrestled at the first-ever girls state championship. Turner Falls Park, Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch and Arbuckle Wedding Chapel were voted No. 1 in their category in the Best of Chickasaw Country awards.
March 11: The city voting precinct on Fourth Street moved to the new Davis Senior Citizens Center at 308 S. Third (the former Methodist Church). The Davis Wolves beat Healdton 9-0 in the opening game of the baseball season. Pitchers were Gavin Moore, Colin Dulaney, Dane Parker and Cole Martin. Lynsey Martin, Madi Merrell, Joli Grinstead and Lexi Ryan each had three hits in the Lady Wolves’ 22-0 rout of Marietta. Brian McDaniel was the new emergency management director for the city.
March 18: The coronavirus was front page news with the city declaring a state of emergency, and the school suspending classes until April 6. The Lady Wolves slow-pitch softball team racked up 16 hits in wins over Norman North and Madill; pitcher Chloe Summers allowed just three hits over five scoreless frames in the Norman North game, and back-to-back doubles by Jolee Grinstead and Courtney Randall punctuated a three-run first in the Madill game. The Wolves baseball team had a pair of wins over Marietta before its season was suspended; Dakota Bridenstine, Trey Parker and Gavin Moore had all seven hits in the game on March 9 with a collective 7-for-11 at the plate. In the second game, Davis scored in five of seven innings, winning 14-6.
March 25: Davis Schools, along with the other schools across the state, closed its doors for the rest of the spring semester because of COVID-19. Carol Brown received recognition from Amazon Publishing for having reached six million readers. CNRA closed Travertine Nature Center and its campgrounds. Davis Senior Citizens delivered meals curbside. A teddy bear hunt for Davis gave kids a way to have fun outside while maintaining “social distancing.” Football linemen Cooper Webb and Justin Ross received All-Star jackets.
APRIL
TOP HEADLINE: Holland takes over as city manager
April 1: Tylor Lampkin caught a state record 11 pound, 10.5 ounce spotted gar in Arbuckle Lake. Davis teachers participated in a three-hour car parade for their students. Davis students, along with the rest of the state, began learning on-line. Several members of the DHS baseball team traveled to Gulf Shores, Ala., despite cancellation of the baseball tournament; they included Cole Martin, Jake Parker, Colin Dulaney, Trey Parker, Gavin Moore and Dane Parker.
April 8: The Davis Chamber delayed the Easter egg hunt because of COVID-19. Curbside testing for COVID-19 was available in Murray County. Davis postal carriers were maintaining a safe distance during mail delivery. Cooper Webb was named to the All-State wrestling team,
April 15: Instead of the traditional prom, students participated in a Roaring 20’s prom parade in their cars (because of COVID-19). Andy Holland, a 1984 graduate of DHS, was the new city manager. The Davis School cafeteria continued to feed students even though the campus was closed. Judy Collins Jones, a 1969 DHS graduate, was honored nationally as JOM Teacher of the Year.
April 22: Banners with portraits of DHS seniors were hung from lightposts along Main Street. Jaxon Wright, a Davis fifth grader, placed third at the Oklahoma Youth Expo’s Night of Stars Gilts Sale. Fynlee Marie Claxton celebrated her first birthday. Weather again delayed work on the eastbound lane of Main Street.
April 29: Turner Falls Park was reopening after closing amid COVID-19 concerns. A parade was held in front of Burford Manor Nursing Home to assure residents they were not forgotten. Mike Martin was named to the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. Murray County Sheriff Darin Rogers thanked residents for his being reelected without opposition, making him only the second sheriff (alongside Ed Bristol) in the history of the county to serve four terms.
MAY
TOP HEADLINE: Falls Creek cancels summer camps
May 6: Graduation ceremonies were moved to Wolf Field to follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Each graduate could invite eight guests. A second COVID-19 case was reported in Murray County. Davis citizens received free admission to Turner Falls Park seven days a week. A new solar power plant was being installed by OG&E and the Chickasaw Nation between Primrose Lane and Hanover Road. CNRA began reopening portions of the national park.
May 13: The first Murray County COVID-19 case had recovered. First National Bank handed over the deed to City Hall to Monte Holland, city manager. A Texas college student drowned at Turner Falls Park. Cole Martin received the Eddie Branch Memorial Scholarship award from Pete Byrd, former Davis School superintendent. Eighth grade valedictorians were Keyara Miller and Ashlyn Stokes; salutatorians were Cade Caraway and Ayden Lynch.
May 20: Falls Creek canceled its summer camps for the first time since World War II. The Murray County Sheriff’s office announced a zero tolerance meth policy. Davis High School graduates wore Wolf masks during their graduation ceremony, and elbow “bumps” replaced handshakes as they received congratulations. Athletic award winners included: Cooper Webb, James Hefley All-Around Athlete award; Trey Parker, Bobby Tiger Baseball award; Jolee Grinstead, Bill Springer Basketball award; Marshall Bolding, Carl White Hustle award; Cole Martin, Eddie Branch scholarship award, and Lynsey Martin, Ray Ashford Softball award. Madi Merrell received West All-Star slowpitch softball honors, and Jett Martin was named a 3A basketball All-Star.
May 27: Jewel Aaron celebrated her 100th birthday. She has lived in Davis since 1993 and is Jason Hill’s mother. Cole Martin, a shortstop for the Wolves, became just the third baseball player in Davis history to make All-State. Shelter Insurance agents David Earsom and Larry Kennan donated funds to buy groceries and supplies to 20 county families impacted by COVID-19.
JUNE
TOP HEADLINE: Coronavirus cases down in Murray County, up in others
June 3: Top Accelerated Readers in Davis Elementary School were: fourth grader Alayna Webb, 117 points; third grader Sutton Lovett, 143 points; second grader Emma Thopson, 162 points, and first grader Fisher White, 236 points. Lucy Knight, a Davis Middle School teacher, received a grant from Sonic. Jaysen Welty was the new FFA president. Other officers were Connor Mohr, vice-president; Logan Boley, secretary; Elizabeth Adams, reporter; Hadie Dudley, treasurer; Anna Merrell, sentinel; Alexis Barnes, historian, and Hatlie Dixon, chaplain. Ashley Bradbeary is the FFA advisor. The weekly Main Street update predicted that by the end of June that the conclusion of the project would be in view.
June 10: Andy Holland, Davis’ new city manager, stressed the need for transparency at the city’s public hearing on the budget. Juan Manuel Rosas of Denton was found dead at I-35’s Exit 43. Pavers began work on the final block of Main Street construction. The sale of beer was approved at three locations in Turner Falls Park. New parking fees on the weekends and holidays were implemented for all visitors, including Davis and Murray County residents.
June 17: Davis firemen were kept busy with two fires in three days: one at 201 S. Fifth St. and the other at Wolf Pups Daycare on Highway 77 South. Emily Isern was hired as the new high school and middle school vocal teacher. Twelve lifeguards were trained at Turner Falls Park: Lathan Dickenson, Faith Kimbro, Alizaya Smith, Madison Shaw, Alissa Hughes, Jadasyn Thomas, Calissa Children, Caylea Brubaker, Ashton Ervin, Maken Lloyd and Payton Webber. Robi-Von Barnett was a member of the 2020-21 Chief’s Leadership Class for the Choctaw Nation.
June 24: Davis Museum hours changed to 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Pastor Robert Harrison was welcomed as the new pastor at Pathway church. The 14 Covid-19 cases in Murray County to date were all from Sulphur. The Davis FFA members invited former members and boosters to participate in a cornhole tournament at its ice cream social. Entertainment at Summerfest was provided by Lacee Sartors, Justin Shanholttzer, Trenton Fletcher, Riders Ford and the Hunter Thomas Band.

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