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Fran Houser puts her Sunflower Station up for sale July 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, People, Restaurants.
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Fran Houser, former owner of the Route 66 landmark Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop in Adrian, Texas, has put her western-themed antiques and crafts store, Sunflower Station, up for sale so she can spend more time with family members out west.

Houser started Sunflower Station two years ago after she sold the Midpoint to Dennis Purschwitz, who continues to run the restaurant and shop today. Because the store was next door in a long-closed 1930s gas station, it enabled her to visit with longtime customers of the restaurant.

She initially planned to run the store just two to three days a week. But it proved more popular than anticipated, and she was forced to extend her hours.

“Had I known it would have done that well, I would have started it years ago and hired someone else to be behind the grill of the Midpoint,” she laughed.

“I’ve had a wonderful two years there,” she said. “But my family wants me to be available when they do things. I want someone there who appreciates travelers on Route 66. It’s been a work of love.”

When she ran the Midpoint, Houser attracted worldwide notice for the the restaurant’s hospitality and its delicious “ugly crust pies.” Houser gained more fame when she became as an inspiration to the Flo character in the original Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie in 2006.

The building contains three rooms, and with a negotiable asking price of $195,000. Those interested in the property should call Houser at 806-538-6380.

(Images courtesy of Fran Houser)

A visit to the Midpoint Cafe June 29, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Restaurants, Television.
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KVII-TV reporter Larry Lemmons, based in Amarillo, traveled west on Route 66 to check out what was happening at the historic Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas.

This television segment was more in-depth than I anticipated, and it captures the atmosphere of the restaurant as well as anything.

Dennis Purschwitz and his wife Donna bought the Midpoint from longtime owner Fran Houser a little more than two years ago. The restaurant has remained essentially the same — much to the relief of longtime diners. But Purschwitz made a number of improvements to the midpoint sign across the road, which signifies the midpoint of Route 66.

(Image of the Midpoint Cafe’s interior by Drriss & Marrionn via Flickr)

Route 66 Wind project east of Amarillo secures financing February 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Weather.
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Boston-based First Wind announced Wednesday it had obtained $206 million in financing for its Route 66 Wind energy project in Armstrong and Carson counties near Amarillo, according to a news release from the company.

First Wind obtained financing help from Morgan Stanley and Santander Bank. The new wind farm will be capable of generating 150 megawatts, which can power up to 60,000 homes.

According to the release:

Construction work began in late 2013, and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the state of Texas. M.A. Mortenson is acting as the prime contractor. [...] Vestas will supply 75 V110 turbines with a capacity of 2 megawatts (MW) each to the project near Amarillo, Texas.

Armstrong and Carson counties are immediately east of Amarillo. So the landscape in that area will change fairly rapidly.

A wind farm already operates north of Vega, Texas, which is west of Amarillo. Another wind farm is scheduled to be built west of Adrian, Texas. Other prominent wind farms along the Route 66 corridor sit in Weatherford, Okla., and south of San Jon, N.M.

There’s gold in them thar windy plains.

(Image of wind turbines near Vega, Texas, by Larry Myhre via Flickr)

New wind farm will be built west of Adrian January 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Weather.
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EDF Renewable Energy, a French company, will build a wind farm for electrical energy west of Adrian, Texas, along the Route 66 corridor, reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

The turbines of Spinning Spur 3 will be on 18,000 acres and stretch from Adrian to the edge of the Caprock where Interstate 40 drops west toward New Mexico. The project will have a maximum production capacity of 194 megawatts.

Standard performance of a wind farm sees production at about 25 to 30 percent, said Ken Starcher, associate director for training, education and outreach at West Texas A&M University’s Alternative Energy Institute. Oldham County wind farms have performed at about 50 percent of capacity.

The companies didn’t release financial terms, but industry estimates place the construction cost around $388 million. [...]

The wind farm should be in operation by the end of 2015, according to a news release.

The story also reports the revenue from earlier wind-farm projects in the Texas Panhandle — including one north of Vega — have lowered taxes in Oldham County.

Other prominent wind farms sit in Weatherford, Okla., and south of San Jon, N.M.

Just about the only objection to wind farms is the perception the spinning blades kill migratory birds. However, research shows wind energy kills birds at less than half the rate of nuclear plants and 34 times less than coal plants. And the death rate from wind turbines has decreased in recent years.

(Hat tip to Nick Gerlich; image of an old-fashioned windmill and wind turbines near Weatherford, Okla., by Carleta Latham via Flickr)

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