Top stories of 2011 in the Panhandle

Amarillo, TX - 2011 was full of controversial stories in the Panhandle, here is a list of stories that many viewers say were memorable to them.

The number ten top story of the year is the family of convicted capital murderer Johnny Frank Garrett speaking out on the thirty year anniversary of the victim's death.

Garrett was charged and executed for the October 1981 murder of Sister Tadea Benz at the Saint Francis Convent in Amarillo.

Even after thirty years, his sisters, Jeana and Janet are fighting to have Johnny's name cleared, and have who they think is the real murderer charged.

Coming in at number nine, a railcar fire September 16th had Amarillo residents concerned as several evacuations were made near the BNSF rail yard on South East 17th and Johnson.

A fireball could be seen in the area along with black smoke.

Officials said the explosion may have been somehow connected to the chemical isopentane.

Firefighters and hazmat workers were able to clear the area.

The number eight top story was the controversial issue of revitalizing downtown Amarillo.

The plan includes a full service hotel, a multi-purpose event venue and a parking garage, carrying a price tag of one hundred and thirteen million dollars.

There were a lot of concerns raised by Amarillo residents but the city commission voted 5-0 to continue with the plan.

Ground breaking is set to start in 2012.

Our number seven noteworthy story of 2011 is the tragic death of 20-year-old Kelsey Tortoreo.

Tortoreo was found dead at the Garvey grain elevator in the 24-hundred block of North East 3rd May 31st.

Police believe she fell through a hole at the top of the grain elevator, landing nearly 80-feet below her.

Tortoreo's death was ruled accidental.

Coming in at number six, is the federal drug investigation in Borger.

Five Borger residents were arrested in a suspected drug and money scheme.

Frank Fernandez, Aaron Fernandez, Jose Fernandez, Thomas Salazar and Amy Fernandez were all reportedly involved in the ring.

All four men pleaded not guilty to the drug trafficking charges.

Amy pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions with unreported income.

The number five top story is the sexual scandal involving an Amarillo school teacher.

34-year-old Julie Ann Moore is charged with sexual assault of a child after allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old Amarillo High student.

After the accusations were made officials said Moore would not be allowed to be around children other than her own.

She recently resigned from her teaching position at Sanborn Elementary.

If found guilty, Moore faces up to twenty years in prison and a ten-thousand-dollar fine.

The number four noteworthy story of 2011 is the death of an eleven-day-old baby.

Mya Meada was killed in October after her families pitbull mix attacked her.

After Mya's death several area residents were driving by the family home and even posting rude messages about the mother on Facebook.

The dog was put down.

The third most popular story actually began in 2010, when Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams was involved in collision killing a pregnant woman.

The story then continued into 2011, as Williams' case went to a grand jury for the death of Brianna Gomez.

The grand jury did not indict Williams for any criminal wrong-doing, after crossing into oncoming traffic on Highway 385 near Channing.

Williams was cited by the Department of Public Safety for the wreck.

She paid a fine for one of the citations.

A plea agreement was denied, so the case has been moved to a new justice of the peace.

The number two top story of 2011 is the worst drought in Texas history.

The extremely dry conditions affected livestock, the water supply for the Panhandle, and even Fourth of July celebrations.

Nearly every county in the area enacted burn bans during the drought.

The hot-dry weather also caused the number one top story for 2011, devastating fires.

The Panhandle was affected greatly by wildfires during both February and May.

More than sixty homes were burned just in the Amarillo area as fires ripped through the Panhandle.

The fires had different causes such as cars and welding but each carried serious destruction.