Reuters

Locals in the country star's hometown are conflicted over a legal battle between their native son and a community amenity.

There’s an uneasy feeling on Garth Brooks Boulevard. The main street of Yukon, Oklahoma, renamed in 1992 in honor of the country music star and Yukon native, is also home to a local hospital that’s become an unlikely foe to the generally well-liked and philanthropic Brooks. The conflict between the two is driving a wedge into the hearts of locals – torn between the music star they’re so proud to be associated with and the hospital that delivers their babies and heals their wounds.

In 2005, Brooks donated $500,000 to Integris Canadian Valley Hospital to help build a women’s health center, a project he’d hoped to honor his late mother. The hospital never went forward with the plan, so Brooks sued in 2009. Last week a jury sided with Brooks, awarding him his $500,000 donation, as well as another $500,000 in damages.

The ruling is being met with mixed emotions in Yukon, a city of about 24,000 just outside Oklahoma City. As the Associated Press reports, locals are grappling with the decision, weighing their own hometown pride for Brooks against their more logistical reliance on the hospital.

"My oldest kids grew up in this town with no medical facility," said Jeannie Benson, a local real estate agent and longtime resident. "If they got hurt, it was a 30-minute drive to the nearest place to get help. The hospital, to me, is a very, very big deal.

"I don't know Garth. I've never met the man. I do know the hospital and the people that work there."

Though the lost funding is not expected to bankrupt the hospital, the high-profile donation dispute could affect future gifts and eventually put the hospital’s operator out of business. And that’s exactly what Brooks wants.

"One day Mom's name is going to go on the women's center right there where the hospital is. But that hospital won't be owned by Integris when it happens, I can tell you that. That's my dream," he told reporters outside of the courtroom last week.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a full parking lot with a double rainbow over it
    Transportation

    Parking Reform Will Save the City

    Cities that require builders to provide off-street parking trigger more traffic, sprawl, and housing unaffordability. But we can break the vicious cycle.   

  2. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  3. A woman looks straight at camera with others people and trees in background.
    Equity

    Why Pittsburgh Is the Worst City for Black Women, in 6 Charts

    Pittsburgh is the worst place for black women to live in for just about every indicator of livability, says the city’s Gender Equity Commission.

  4. a photo of a man at a bus stop in Miami
    Transportation

    Very Bad Bus Signs and How to Make Them Better

    Clear wayfinding displays can help bus riders feel more confident, and give a whole city’s public transportation system an air of greater authority.

  5. Tents with the Honolulu skyline behind them
    Life

    Where Is the Best City to Live, Based on Salaries and Cost of Living?

    Paychecks stretch the furthest in smaller cities for most workers, but techies continue to do best in larger, more expensive cities.

×