John Mayfield, and his wife Judy, of Oklahoma City, bought Kenton’s merc, just over a year ago.

Judy works for an Oklahoma city law enforcement agency and John, is a civilian contractor for the military. Currently he is serving in Afghanistan, and has been home for some R&R.

Mayfield began his career in clean water by working with Dell City, an OKC suburb, Lake Thunderbird and Tinker AFB.

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While on a series of motorcycle rides he found and fell in love with Kenton, and the Merc.

“We will eventually move here in a few years,” Mayfield said. “We want to live in Kenton for the rest of our lives.”

Asked how he found the west end of Cimarron County, Mayfield explains with a grin, “When I ride, I ride the back roads. My friends only go with me once.”

“I used to come by and talk to Allen Griggs, he knew I liked people; I’m a diplomat. He thought I’d do OK with the store.”

“The Merc is unique because the community stops in,” he said.

For the past year and longer, Keith Hunter and his wife Shirley have been managing the Merc for the Mayfields, sadly Keith has fell ill and is presently in an Amarillo, Texas hospital.

Mayfield hopes that Hunter, who at present is in a coma, will recover, and eventually return to the Merc.

“Keith has loved cooking and he has a good reputation,” Mayfield said.

In the meantime he and his wife are trying to make arrangements to keep the store and restaurant going.

“We have a woman, Betty Osbin, who has moved back, and she is going to try and help us, as well as Bonnie Heppard, until hopefully Shirley and Keith can return.”



As for his service in the war zone, Mayfield said that though the area is harsh he has a wonderful group of people with which to work. He said that often the crew puts in 84 hours a week in sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph.



“I’ve seen dust storms roll over a mountain that is 10,000 feet high. Also, 15 to 20 percent of that dust is human waste. There is a lot of illness.”

“We placed our perimeter lights on threaded two inch pipes, and the wind tightened them up, turning the lights inside the fence,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield explains that there is very little electrical power outside the military compounds.

“When the sun goes down, it gets dark in Afghanistan,” he said.

“It’s hard on people. I’ve seen them hire on and fly in from the U.S., and never get off the plane.”

“The Afghans have good hearts and 90 percent of them are glad we are there. The other 10 percent, the Taliban…they are gangsters.”

Mayfield explains that under the Taliban adult males without facial hair ran the risk of being shot by “beard patrols”.

Mayfield has worked with contractors from all over Afghanistan, Turkey and the former Soviet Union.

“You learn that it’s [the world] kinda neat out there.”




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