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Chris Copeland

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Blaze in Medical District; Damages Estimated at $75K

Firefighters were called to a blaze in the Medical District early Tuesday morning.  
The alarm came in around 1:30 at Amarillo Urology Associates at 1900 Medi Park drive.  Crews found smoke coming from the building and flames coming from the roof.  The fire was contained by crews working inside and on top of the building.  One firefighter received minor injuries that required first aid only.  
Damages are estimated at $75,000 and the cause is still under investigation.

Payday Lending Workshop Sheds Light on Cycle of Debt

The City of Amarillo has made a big step on the road to regulating payday lending.  
Monday afternoon's public workshop, at the Civic Center Heritage Ballroom, showed a good turnout of public officials, business owners, and concerned citizens. Brett Merfish, attorney with the Texas Apple Seed Foundation, says they have been working to help end the cycle of debt by passing meaningful reform.
She says that's much easier at the local level then through the state government.
"The industry is well funded, they make good donations, and they have an army of lobbyists that make it pretty hard," said Merfish.
She calls Texas the wild wild west of lending.
"You know, the wild wild west is lawless, and I would say that payday lending in our state right now, unfortunately, with so little regulation, it's almost lawless."
Merfish said short term loan companies are taking advantage of Texans, issuing loans with annual percentage rate's anywhere from 400% to 1000%. 

Committee Focused on Educating Students for Workforce Gains Seliger

Senator Kel Seliger will now be serving as co-chair of the Joint Interim Committee to Study Education for a Skilled Workforce.
Seliger was assigned to the position by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst . Seliger says every young person, whether they're in pre-K or college, are preparing for the workforce.
"So we must be effective in all those educational stages to see that we are maximizing the benefits to those young people and doing things that are advantageous to the workforce," Seliger said.
The committee focuses on studying public school careers and technology education programs, or CTE's, and how CTE programs can help those offered in Texas colleges and with the needs of Texas employers. Seliger is also the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

Shoplifter Turns to Assault at Walmart

What started out as a suspected shoplifting incident over the weekend turned into an aggravated assault.  

Police were called around 2:00 p.m. Sunday to the Walmart at I-40 and Grand. Employees said a black man had put several items in a bag but didn't pay for them. He was taken to the loss prevention office, and once inside, started arguing.  

He then pulled a small pistol and told the employees to get out of his way or he would shoot them.  The man was last seen driving a light-colored Cadillac. No injuries were reported.

18 Year Old Killed in Motorcycle Wreck

An 18 year old is dead after a fatal crash in southwest Amarillo.  

Police say it happened Monday just before 1:00. Christopher Caleb Bell was riding his motorcycle south on Bell in the 6300 block. He hit a car that was turning onto Bell street from a private drive.

Bell died at the scene as a result of injuries received in the crash.  The driver of the car was uninjured.  

The incident is being investigated by the APD's Traffic Investigation Squad.

Caprock Canyon Introduces New Shuttles

Visitors can now take a tour of Caprock Canyon's State Park on new shuttles in Quitaque.
KGNC spoke with the interpreter for the park's tours Le'ann Pigg and she described the new shuttles.
"The shuttle is really neat, it's kind of an open air type vehicle so it's like you're getting a ride in a vehicle but you're also getting an outdoor experience."
She says right now they are doing a bat tour where they take you out and let you see the bats emerging from the caves on their nightly hunts.

"Speak Your Mind Texas" Campaign Kicks Off Friday

The Texas Department of State Health Services is launching a new mental health awareness campaign in Amarillo, called "Speak Your Mind Texas".
It focuses on teens and young adults.
"The idea is to de-stigmatize mental illness, that's one of the main focuses. This is part of funding that came about in the last legislative session to address mental health concerns and needs in Texas and the "Speak Your Mind Texas" campaign is one of the ways we are doing that,"  says Chris Van Deusen, spokesman for the DSHS.
The first of the town hall-style meetings takes place this Friday from 1 to 4 at the Northwest Texas Hospital Pavilion Auditorium. They'll have mental health professionals speaking and hope both young people and anyone who works with them will attend.
You can register for the event at, but Van Deusen says, if you don't get a chance to sign up, come out anyway.

Detours for 45th West of I-27

A water main break over the weekend will cause some delays and detours for the next few days.  

A break in the 12-inch water main caused a sinkhole to form on 45th just west of I-27.  While the main was repaired within a few hours, road repairs may take up to a week to complete.  

As a result, 45th just west of the Canyon E-way is closed to east and westbound traffic.  If you are driving east on 45th and want to turn north on to the E-way, you'll have to find a different route.  

For daily updates on repairs, you can follow the City of Amarillo on Facebook or on Twitter @cityofamarillo.

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