This is the first of three stories on the events of 2017.

The start of 2017 brought some hot button issues to the forefront regarding retail developments as well as disasters striking not only Ford County but southwest Kansas.

In January a public hearing was held at City Hall about the potential for a Sutherland's home improvement store to be built along 14th Avenue near Soule Street.

Concerns were raised at the time regarding the sale of Dodge City Community College property which in the beginning was projected to possibly involve frontage of DCCC property.

Members of the community were able to speak upon the possibility of retail development going in on 14th Avenue near the Dodge City Community College.

The process for that to take place meant that the current Star Bond project needed to add what city officials called, 14th Avenue Star Bond, in order to move forward.

It was previously discussed that the current entertainment district at the Boot Hill Casino and Resort would be moved to the 14th Avenue location however plans have changed and the 14th Avenue corridor will be considered as an extra addition instead.

DCCC ended up selling the city 3.1 acres of land that was near the back of the property instead of in the front.

First Assembly of God Church and Farm Credit bank also sold their properties for the retail development.

Construction is projected to begin for Sutherland's in the near future.

January also saw southwest Kansas endure an ice storm that wiped out power throughout the area.

The storm also damaged businesses, residences and tree limbs in Ford County as well as Hodgeman County.

The damage was so extensive that both Ford and Hodgeman counties were declared disaster zones both at the state and eventually the federal level.

At the time of the declaration, Ford County Administrator J.D. Gilbert said, "The declaration allows the jurisdiction the opportunity to recoup some of the expenses incurred during the response to an event."

According to Hodgeman County officials at the time of the storm, the county declared the area a disaster zone before the storm had left southwest Kansas.

According to Victory Electric, when the federal disaster zone was declared they announced that close to 6,200 power outages had occurred from the storm.

The other counties named in the federal declaration were Barton, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Ellsworth, Jewell, Kiowa, Meade, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Seward, Sheridan, Stafford and Trego.

For Ford County Fire and EMS and other southwest Kansas counties, March 6, 2017 is a day to remember.

It was reported on that day that at around 12:56 p.m., fire units from Ford County, Dodge City, Bucklin, Ford and Spearville battled a grass fire that led to evacuations in south Dodge City.

The fire started at the Dodge City Raceway Park and spread across Highway 56 heading northeast towards South Second Avenue.

At around 2 p.m., officers from the Dodge City Police Department were asked to go to businesses and houses in the area to let residents know of the fire danger.

While the units were fighting the fire in Dodge City, two other fires ignited near 126 Road and Highway 50/56 and at 131 Road and Wildfire Road.

There were at least 11 reported fires that units responded to through most of the day.

Of those fires, there were six structures reportedly that caught fire mostly near 113 Road and Lariat Way.

Within those structure fires there were at least two injuries with unknown severity, one of which was burns to the arm.

In a press release at the time of the fires, the Clark County Sheriff's Office asked that Englewood and Ashland to evacuate their homes due to grass fire threats.

The sheriff's office says Englewood residents should go south to Oklahoma. Ashland residents should go east to the Coldwater High School.

Other counties and fire units that assisted Ford County were Grant County and units from Mullinville.

Some others changes took place to Dodge City in the first part of 2017.

A&W Drive-In and Long John Silvers merged under one roof at 911 W. Wyatt Earp Blvd.

A&W Drive-In had previously been located on 14th Avenue near Comanche Street and is currently being developed into a new retail location for AT&T, Nail Addiction and Great Clips.

Another business move that began in early 2017 was the relocation of Gibson's Pharmacy.

The pharmacy began construction of their new location at the corner of Central Avenue and Kinkead Street.

The new Gibson's Pharmacy location opened in September 2017.

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