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2021 Year in Review January – June

By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

January – Licking and many parts of Missouri began 2021 with an icy start. Within a few days the precipitation melted away in “rain showers.”

Erin McConnell was sworn in as a City of Licking Alderman in a December 2020 special session; he was then elected to the position in April 2021. Rhonda Kirkwood continued her duties as the City Clerk and was sworn in at the same December special session.

COVID-19 continued to disrupt the world in numerous ways throughout the new year; some relief was provided in a second round of Economic Impact Payments sent out in January. A new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard was launched that provided Missourians with up-to-date information.

COVID vaccinations were not yet available for area residents, however Maddie Shelly, RN, TCMH received the first hospital vaccination, with area healthcare workers to follow.

Texas County Memorial Hospital’s first baby of the new year was Elizabeth Grace Watkins, daughter of Reina Watkins, born at 12:40 p.m. on Friday, January 1.

Local VFW Post 6337 continued the annual competition of the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen essay contests. The traditional banquet was not held due to health concerns, however prizes were awarded to area students.

Governor Parson was sworn in as the 57th Governor of Missouri. Scott Fitzpatrick was sworn in for four-year term as State Treasurer; Karla Eslinger was sworn in as State Senator and Bennie Cook took the Oath of Office as State Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives. Licking swore in a new municipal judge, William (Bill) Hudson.

The Licking Class of 2027 stitched history into their Underground Railroad Quilt.

LHS Senior Wilson Murray was recognized for 1000 career points as a varsity Wildcat and for scoring 51 points in the Houston game.

Scruff 2 Fluff opened for business on Main Street, the first of several new businesses for 2021.

Aubrie Stephens was crowned 2021 Homecoming Queen and Wilson Murray was crowned 2021 Homecoming King.

Texas County Memorial Hospital CEO Wes Murray formally resigned his position January 26.

Three LHS Senior Ag-Welding students, Denver Culley, Easton Ice and Dalton Gale participated in a welding competition at Missouri Welding Institute.

Licking Wildcats and Lady ‘Cats won the Big Cat Classics.

February – Local business Country Crossroads Custom Cabinetry lost their cabinet shop in a fire.

The LHS Cheer team placed first in Missouri Cheer Coaches Association St. Louis Regional Competition, held virtually.

A blast of winter weather continued throughout much of February, with temperatures remaining below freezing from Feb. 7 through Feb. 18, and with the daytime high on Feb. 15 reaching 1 degree, with an -11 degree low.

Wildcats finished their season in District semifinals, and the Lady ‘Cats finished second in Districts. All-District honors went to Wilson Murray, Bryce Corley, Anna Sullins, Abbie Sullins and Kylie Taylor.

National FFA Week was held Feb. 20 through Feb. 27.

March – The 2021 catch-and-keep trout season opened at Montauk State Park on schedule March 1, and was a chilly success.

The Licking school board found a silver lining to the COVID cloud and voted to use ESSER II funds (COVID related) to replace the classroom trailers at the elementary with a large modular building.

The Licking varsity volleyball team earned Academic All State when all team players maintained a GPA of 3.8 or higher.

Licking High School Cheer placed third in their State MCCA Competition.

Senator Karla Eslinger visited Licking.

CM Desserts, a new business, showcased their specialty cupcakes.

Licking FBLA members advanced to the State Conference at MSU-West Plains; competition was held virtually.

April – Several area churches participated in the annual Carry the Cross movement on Good Friday, April 2.

April elections retained Licking Aldermen Danny Wade and Erin McConnell and Mayor Keith Cantrell. Licking R-VIII school board members Rawly Gorman and Jeremy Rinne retained their seats.

Raymondville R-VII and Phelps Co. R-III moved to a four-day school week effective for the 2021-2022 school year, joining Eminence, Winona, Cabool and Summersville in the trend for a shorter week.

Licking R-VIII Art Club holds their first Art Club collective, joining area artists with students in mentoring and learning sessions.

A Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt was held at Deer Licking Park on April 17.

LHS girls placed first and LHS boys and JH placed second at the Frisco League Track Meet.

Junior Kasey Richards was chosen as the Class 2 Southeast Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Licking celebrated its many volunteers throughout the month of April, with whom the community is blessed.

Licking High School held a National Honor Society induction for new members.

May – Licking Downtown Inc. hosted the first annual Licking Junk Derby on May 1, with vendors, food, music, mill tours, an auction, fun and games. There were several entries in the Derby Hat Contest.

Megan Rodgers received her State FFA Degree at the Missouri State FFA Convention May 1.

The Licking FFA Chapter annual banquet was held and new officers were installed. LHS also held their annual Sports Banquet.

LHS Track and Field competed at Districts, with several athletes continuing to State competition.

New Texas County Memorial Hospital leadership, Chief Executive Officer Chris Strickland; Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Physician Recruiting Helania Wulff; and Director of Office of Projects and Foundations Jeff Gettys met with city officials.

Licking Baseball moved into Districts and earned second. All Conference honors went to Malachi Antle, Cole Wallace and Easton Ice; All District to Antle, Wallace and Rusty Buckner. Antle, Wallace, Landon Medlock and Keyton Rinne received Academic All State honors. Antle and Wallace later received All State honors as well.

Gold ratings were received by the LHS band and vocal soloist Cadrian Hutsell at the 2021 MSHSAA Music Contest. Silver ratings went to snare drum soloist Dawson Havens, the LHS Chamber Choir, the LHS Concert Choir, and vocal soloists Betty Jo Roberts and Kaytlyn Routh.

Following a challenging end to their high school careers, the Licking Class of 2021 graduated with 65 seniors. Sydnie Werkmeister was valedictorian and Anna Sullins salutatorian. Citizenship award honors went to Carson Chambers, Landon Medlock and Aubrie Stephens.

The Licking United Methodist Church began their sixth season of hosting the Farmer’s Market.

After a year hiatus due to COVID, the Motorcycle Cruise-Ins returned to Licking.

Mayor Keith Cantrell hosted the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast with many area pastoral participants.

Basic Biscuits opened for business serving a wide array of delicious cookies, they have since added donuts and other delights to their menu.

There was great attendance, live music and many events at the Raymondville Picnic, making it a great success.

Licking VFW Post #6337 held their Memorial Day Service at the Memorial for the Fallen Park on May 31.

June – The Licking Chamber of Commerce Rodeo returned to Licking for the 36th year. The return included a move from a PRCA rodeo to an MRCA/URA event. Blessed with good weather and great attendance, it was considered a success. A parade, balloon release, music, and the Class of 2021 Underground Railroad quilt auction were included in the rodeo events and competitions.

Also held the Saturday of the rodeo weekend was the fourth annual Kingtown Cruise In honoring Danny Hebblethwaite.

The Licking FBLA team earned a National qualifying position after they participated in District and State Conferences.

IECA Youth Tour Essay Contest winners from Licking were Winter Murray, first place, and Cadrian Hutsell and Krysta Joyner, runners up.

Reggia Ward was presented with the first Licking Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteers in recognition for her many volunteer efforts throughout the years.

R&S Track held their first pull of the 2021 season.

LHS alumnus Ian Barnes received the NCAA Elite 90 award for his academic and golfing skills.

IECA held the 2021 annual meeting in similar fashion to the 2020 meeting as a drive-up event due to continuing health concerns and social distancing.

Area Vacation Bible Schools began their summer season.

Dirt Road Gypsy Boutique opened a brick and mortar location at the corner of Hwy. 63 and Maple Avenue.

To be continued…

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