Friday, May 22, 2015

January 1998 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace

Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1998

This series of posts on each Friday during 2015 continues the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Here is a peek at ‘Life in Oak Springs,’ and the surrounding valley, in January of 1998.

At the January meeting of the Oak Springs Historical and Genealogical Society the following new officers were elected:

President: Rhoda Offutt
Vice President & Program Chair: Mona Evans
Secretary: Penny Nixon
Treasurer: Lisa Flanders-Howell
Membership Chair: Sarah Flanders
Immediate Past President: Brian Kirk

Rhoda Offutt reported on sales of the “American Centennial” book that had exceeded expectations, but there were still copies available for those interested. She also encouraged all members to continue to look for old documents about the community and local families in unusual, as well as the usual, places.

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The Jensen & Watkins Construction Company held an Open House on Wednesday, January 7th, to celebrate the First Anniversary of the Company. The notice in the paper reminded the community that Gary Jensen had been in residential construction in the community for more than ten years. His nephew, Trace Watkins, had come to Oak Springs to join him, just over a year earlier. It was on this date in 1997 that they had officially opened business as the company we know today, located on the west side of State Highway 37 about 2 miles north of the intersection with State Highway 24. Watkins, in his early 30s, had been in construction work in the Kansas City area for more that ten years, as well. The company specializes in single family residences, duplexes and four-plexes.


It was learned that Paul Gates, Manager of The Oak Creek Mill, had presented a proposal to The Bevins Trust to build a Par 3 Golf Course on the slope from just above the Mill down to and around the Mill Pond below the Mill. Each tee would be located above the green and hole below on five of the nine holes proposed. He was said to have presented the plan as a compliment to the 18-hole golf course on the west side of Oak Springs at the Country Club, not as competition. He felt that both local and visiting golfers would support both courses.

Lori Winslow confirmed to our reporter that she had met with Gary Jensen and Trace Watkins at the Jensen & Watkins Construction Company office on north Highway 37 northeast of Oak Springs regarding possibly creating a housing development on Bevins Trust land south and east of the Mill Pond, running parallel to Oak Creek as it exited the Mill Pond. It would be designed to integrate with the proposed Par-3 Golf Course, the kayak/canoe portage and serve as a direct link to the Bevins Stables and Trail Ride facilities from the west. It was known that several Bevins family members had talked of building new homes, and it appeared this development might meet those and other local needs. Winslow also confirmed that she had been involved with a residential housing development group in Los Angeles before her move to Oak Springs. She had enjoyed that work, and believed some of what she had learned there could be incorporated into a development here in the valley.

Social Notes:

Trace Watkins, of the Jensen & Watkins Construction Company, created a bit of stir at the local McDonalds last Thursday when a teenager mistook him for the country music singer, Trace Atkins, and set off quite a ruckus. Watkins was a bit embarrassed by the attention, but admitted to this reporter that it had happened to him before, in Kansas City, in years past. He said he preferred to think of himself as resembling his uncle, Gary Jensen, his business partner. But, he added, he really didn’t have much control over what others thought when they saw him, and, admitted it was flattering.

Cop Shop:

A total of four vehicles abandoned on public roadways in the valley following the January 15 blizzard were ticketed and towed to the police compound area. This occurred only after owners had not retrieved their vehicles themselves in a timely manner.

"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."
Dr. Bill  ;-)


  1. Okay, I am impressed by the sheer number of names you have to "invent" and then keep track of them all. My novels have maybe ten people total, and I'm constantly forgetting who some of them are. :) Great organizational skills here, Bill.

  2. Thank you, so much. It is what I do, and I love it. I also really appreciate such loyal readers, especially with great comments!! ;-) P.S. all current names, both surnames and given names, come for actual U.S. Census records within a one hundred mile radius... .. . ;-)

  3. Bill, I just love how you keep adding projects to keep the area growing. The amount of research you do is just amazing. I also agree with Bill Holland, new people all the time and keeping track. Thanks for yet another Oak Springs update, Sam

    1. Sam, I so appreciate your loyal support. I does keep me working. Honestly, I'm drawing on 70+ years of experience in this great land of ours for inspiration, but keeping it real with research of the area. Thank you, again, so much, for your comments!! ;-)