Welcome to Wellington - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Welcome to Wellington

Wellington, TX - Wellington may be our last stop when it comes to this year's summer celebration tour, but it certainly isn't the least of these small panhandle towns.

Like many small Texas towns, Wellington was built on ranching, farming and agriculture.

But here, the roots of this community come from way deeper than just under the surface of the ground, they're planted firmly in the hearts of the people that call Wellington home.

Long before The Ritz, the WAC or anything Wellington this part of the Texas panhandle was known as the Rocking Chair Ranch, a main ranch in Collingsworth County formed by the British.

In 1890, county residents decided to begin a town, to be named either Wellington, after the Duke of Wellington, or Pearl.

In a vote, Wellington won and thus became a new community, county seat and home to the county courthouse.

"After the turn of the century, the farming became more profitable and then a railroad come through and that was a big deal in those days," says Wes Reeves, Board Member-Historic Wellington.

The population peaked in the 1930's around 3500 people, but has now settled at nearly 2200 people.

But it's people have done anything but settle when it comes to bettering their community.

It's home to the renovated Ritz Theater, the Wellington Activity Center, a successful hospital, an airport soon to be receiving a new paved runway. Work will soon begin on a 2.7 million dollar water park for the community.

"It takes a good manager to operate on the small amount of money that we have to deal with. And we also have one of the lowest, if not the lowest tax rates in the panhandle," says Willie Gragson, Mayor Pro Tem.

Renovation of the high school continues right now in Wellington.

So, when it comes to structure, it's out with the old. "We have been working on cleanup for four of five years now and we have town down 147 dilapidated buildings and we're real proud of that," said Gragson.

And in with the new. "What they've really tried to do is strengthen their institutions so people will want to choose to live there regardless of what they do," said Reeves.

But even while the community continues to promote new attractions and growth. It's the small town values and all American spirit that's helped hold this older community together even when times get tough.

"We're just trying to survive like all of them are, these small communities. But it's just a neat place to live," said Gragson.

"When there's a farmer that's injured or hurt, everybody comes together and brings the crop in. Things like that, that's the type of thing that makes you miss living in small towns really and it's just a great attribute and Wellington shines because of that," said Reeves.

Actual construction of the water park hasn't started here just yet. The city is still in the letting process for funding, but officials hope to have that project completed by next summer.