NAMES IN THE NEWS : $100,000 Challenge to Pickens

From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

A Texas businessman wants oilman T. Boone Pickens to put up $100,000 or shut up about Amarillo being on a downhill slide.

Pickens packed up his business and left Amarillo last year after feuding with city officials and the local newspaper.

He never gave a clear reason for pulling out, but he said last month in a letter to a friend that Amarillo was a "blue-collar district." Pickens said the city lacked "leadership" and predicted a population drop within the next 10 years to less than 100,000 people.

The sentiments didn't sit well with businessman Jerry Hodge, a former Amarillo city commissioner and mayor.

Hodge doesn't think Pickens' predictions will come true and challenged him to match his purchase of a $100,000 certificate of deposit, with the winner receiving both CDs and 10 years of interest in the year 2000.

"I sure do like this town and I don't like anybody taking shots at it," said Hodge, who called himself a friend of Pickens.

Amarillo's population is estimated at 160,422.

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