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KBST News Archives for 2020-06

Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $9 Million for Nursing Facility Infection Control Projects to Prevent COVID-19


 

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced $9 million in federal funding for nursing facilities to implement infection control projects to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19. Starting July 1, nursing facility providers in Texas are encouraged to submit applications to HHSC to receive this federal funding.

 

"We know that older Texans are more susceptible to COVID-19, and Texas is committed to ensuring that nursing facilities have the tools they need to keep their residents and staff safe," said Governor Abbott. "The resources available through this federal funding will help maintain infection control within these facilities. We must continue to protect our most vulnerable populations, mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, and protect public health."

 

"Nursing facilities have this opportunity to apply for funding to enhance health and safety protections for the people they serve," said David Kostroun, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Regulatory Services Division. "During this unprecedented time, we are directing providers to pursue every avenue to mitigate the spread of this virus."

 

Approved providers will be eligible to receive funds for infection control resources, including:

  • Thermometers and temperature scanning equipment for staff and residents
  • Decontamination and disinfecting systems
  • Plexiglass barriers or portable walls to ensure social distancing and droplet protection
  • N95 fit-test equipment
  • Microbe-resistant flooring and wall coverings

 

For more details on how to apply, visit the Texas HHS website. The deadline for applications is August 30.

 

HHSC is continuing to accept applications for communication technology in nursing facilities, which are eligible to receive up to $3,000 per facility to purchase devices (e.g. iPads, tablets, webcams) and accessories (e.g. headphones, protective covers). 

 

HHSC is allocating Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds for this project as well as the infection control projects. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposes CMPs against Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing facilities found out of compliance with federal requirements. CMP funds can be used for projects and activities that benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life. Currently, HHSC is only accepting and reviewing applications for projects related to addressing COVID-19, such as infection control practices and communication technology.

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Early Voting for Democratic Primary Runoff Election Began this Week


Democratic Primary Runoff Election is set for July 14, 2020, and early voting began yesterday It is important to note that only those that chose the Democratic ballot in the Primary or did not vote in either Primary are able to vote in the Runoff.

 

Items on the ballot include candidates for Railroad Commissioner, and U.S. Senator.

Early voting will be held at the courthouse from 8 AM - 5 PM through Thursday, July 2, 2020, and again July 6-8th. Extended days of early voting will be on July 9-10th, and the Howard County Election Office will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM. 

 

Again, Election Day for the Democratic Runoff is Tuesday, July 14th. On that day, voting will take place from 7 AM to 7 PM in any of the usual locations: 

 

Ryan Hall/St. Thomas Church

    605 North Main Street

    Big Spring, Texas 79720

 

Coahoma Community Center

    306 North Avenue

    Coahoma, Texas 79511

 

First Baptist Church

    705 W. FM 700

    Big Spring, Texas 79720

 

Dorothy Garrett Coliseum

    1001 Birdwell Lane

    Big Spring, Texas 79720

 

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Howard College Modifies Fall Start Date


 

BIG SPRING – Howard College has made some recent changes to their Fall 2020 semester academic calendar which includes a change in the start and end date for fall classes. The change comes amid the continued presence of the COVID-19 pandemic and how higher education institutions are looking at moving forward in the fall.

 

With the update, classes will now begin on August 17, 2020 and will conclude with final exams November 20-24. This will modify the course from the traditional 16-week course to a 15-week course and allow students to complete at the traditional Thanksgiving break.

 

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our number one priority and has been the driving force in our decision-making process,” said Dr. Cheryl Sparks, Howard College President. “We have been watching what other colleges and universities are doing and we have followed state and federal guidelines as we deliberate. We feel this is the prudent step to take at this time.”

 

Traditionally students travel during the Thanksgiving break and spend time with family and friends. With the change in the academic calendar, students will complete the semester prior to the break and will not be required to return to campus until the following semester.

 

With the modification in start date, the flexible semesters such as the 8-week courses and December mini session will also have modified start and end dates. The college is in the process of updating the course schedule to reflect the recent adjustment and should be reflective of the change soon.

 

Administrators are working with school districts across the service area to resolve any issues with dual credit schedules and the college’s health professions programs will be communicating directly with students regarding any additional changes to their schedules.

 

“This situation we find ourselves in changes daily with the state and federal responses to COVID-19, and we are doing our very best to respond thoughtfully, with the best interest of our students at the forefront,” Sparks added. “We will continue to evaluate the situation daily and make preparations for students that address their educational needs as well as their safety and security.”

 

As the college moves toward the fall semester, a wide range of instruction modalities will be available to students including online and hybrid (mixture of online and face-to-face) as well as face-to-face classes.

 

“We want to offer a wide variety of instructional settings to accommodate all of our students,” said Sparks. “We know they each have unique needs and we are ready to be their college of choice, in whatever learning environment suits them best.”

 

Guidelines are currently being developed for students in the face-to-face classes as well as residence halls on the Big Spring and SWCD campuses. Future updates will be provided as more policies and procedures are finalized.

 

For more information about Howard College visit www.howardcollege.edu or contact Cindy Smith at 432-517-0073 or csmith@howardcollege.edu. COVID-19 updates can be located at www.howardcollege.edu/special-notice.

 

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Governor Abbott Issues Proclamation To Expand Hospital Capacity In Four Additional Texas Counties


 

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation suspending elective surgeries at hospitals in Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Webb counties to help ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients in these communities. This proclamation amends the Governor’s previous Executive Order to include these four counties in addition to Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties.

 

"As these counties experience a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are committed to working alongside hospitals to help ensure that every COVID-19 patient who needs a bed will have access to one," said Governor Abbott. "We are constantly monitoring the data at the local level and will continue to take precautionary action where it is necessary. I want to remind all Texans that each of us have a responsibility to help slow the spread of this virus, and I urge everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and stay home if possible."

 

Under the Executive Order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

 

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DPS Arrests Suspects in Austin for Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes Related to the Capitol Protests


 

AUSTIN – On Saturday, June 27, 2020, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) executed arrest warrants for two suspects: Darius Deshawn Berkley, 22, of Austin, Texas, who was arrested for rioting on the Texas State Capitol grounds; and Gerald Govan Brown, 18, of Pflugerville, Texas, who was arrested in connection with the vandalism of the Texas State Capitol and the assault of a Texas State Trooper.

 

DPS Special Agents obtained an arrest warrant for rioting on Berkley, following an incident that occurred on June 22, 2020, at the Texas State Capitol. DPS Special Agents discovered Berkley was incarcerated in the Travis County Jail on unrelated charges. The aforementioned warrant was served on Berkley at the Travis County Jail.

 

Brown was also arrested on Saturday, June 27, in connection with incidents that occurred during the protests at the Texas State Capitol on May 30. Multiple arrest warrants were obtained for Brown, including felony criminal mischief-destruction of public monument, as well as misdemeanor criminal mischief, attempt to take a weapon from a peace officer, resisting arrest, interference with public duties and participating in a riot.

Both arrests come as the result of ongoing investigations by DPS Special Agents who reviewed hundreds of hours of videos from various media platforms, surveillance camera footage, law enforcement databases and open source information over the last several weeks, and the investigation continues.

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WEST TEXAS CENTERS PROVIDES CRISIS SERVICES


BIG SPRING - Crisis services will be provided to those affected by COVID-19 through a program offered by West Texas Centers, the mental health authority for a 23-county region in rural West Texas. 

 

West Texas Centers, along with funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA will provide the Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) “Texans Recovering Together.” The White House declared Texas a major disaster area because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, thus freeing up federal funds.

 

“We are very excited to be offering assistance to the people of West Texas,” West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith said. “We have been challenged since early March to adapt to the changes brought about from COVID-19, and we believe we are in a strong position to deal with its fall-out.”

 

"Many people have either been ill, lost work, been isolated or kept apart from loved ones, which are all major stressors," said Smith, who is a licensed master social worker.

 

“Many are isolated, suffering financially, or doing without healthcare or are fearful of the health of a loved one” she said. “They are unable to leave their homes and if they are able to leave the house it’s often with the belief that they aren’t safe.”

 

The Crisis Counseling Program provides short-term interventions to assist disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress, reviewing their disaster recovery options, promoting the use or development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging links with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors in their recovery process.

 

Services are provided at no cost, are confidential and available to anyone living in the 23-county region served by West Texas Centers. 

 

West Texas Centers will provide:

 

  • Information
  • Education
  • Emotional support
  • Links to resources

 

Trained members of the West Texas Centers team can assist with:

  • Recognizing common reactions to disasters
  • Building coping skills for the recovery process
  • Managing disaster-related stress
  • Identifying and meeting children’s needs

 

Assistance is provided by calling (432) 213-0631 or the Texas Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990. There is no need for, or attempt to, identify a mental health diagnosis.

 

West Texas Centers serves people in: Andrews, Borden, Crane, Dawson, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock, Howard, Kent, Loving, Martin, Mitchell, Nolan, Reeves, Runnels, Scurry, Terrell, Terry, Upton, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum counties. 

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Affidavits requesting recall of Big Spring City Council Members de-certified.


Last week on June 25, 2020, an affidavit was filed with the office of the Big Spring City Secretary requesting the issuance of petitions for the recall of City Council Member Camilla Strande of District 5 and Council Member Jim DePauw of District 6. Since then, KBest News has found that these affidavits have been de-certified.

 

The official statement on the matter from the City of Big Spring states, “On advice of the City Attorney, the City Secretary has de-certified the two affidavits requesting the recall as the Charter with other law requires them to be filed by someone who lives in the District for that Council member, and the person who submitted them does not live in either District.”

 

City Secretary Donald Moore has advised that a Public Service Announcement would not be made on the information since it was only the media that had asked questions. 

 

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4 New Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Howard County, 06/26/2020


Press Release 6-26-2020

From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason and Howard County Emergency Management

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 26, 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of four (4) new positive test results for COVID-19. The individuals are isolating at home and are currently exhibiting mild symptoms. These new cases have been determined to be community spread.

 

The affected individuals are: ?
A 27-year-old male;
????A 11-month-old female;
A 16-year-old male;
and a 32-year-old male.

 

This is the 31st through 34th cases of COVID-19 in Big Spring/Howard County. To date, we have had (34) thirty four confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in Big Spring and Howard County. We currently have fifteen (15) active cases. Big Spring and Howard County have had 18 people recover as of today.

 

Officials take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of continuing to take proper precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman
Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

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Governor Abbott's Executive Order Issued 6-26-2020 and what that means for Howard County / Big Spring.


Press Release June 26, 2020

From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason, and Howard County  Emergency Management
Re: ?Governor Abbott’s Executive Order Issued 6-26-2020

 

Today, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-28 limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The order includes the specific guidelines that each business shall follow.

 

What this means for the City of Big Spring and Howard county is that the following business may open at 100% of capacity provided they that operate with at least six feet of social distancing between workstations:


cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons/shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, massage establishments and other facilities where licensed massage therapists or other persons licensed or otherwise authorized to practice under Chapter 455 of the Texas Occupations Code practice their trade; and other personal-care and beauty services such as tanning salons, tattoo studios, piercing studios, hair removal services, and hair loss treatment and growth services;

 

In accordance with Governor Abbott’s order, the following guidelines are in effect for Big Spring and Howard County:

 

• All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 PM today, June 26, 2020. These businesses may remain open for drive-thru, pickup or delivery including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.


• Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, they will operate at a capacity not to exceed 75% of total listed indoor occupancy. The use of drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options for food and drinks remains allowed and is highly encouraged.


• All other business establishments may continue to operate at 75% capacity.


o Howard County and the City of Big Spring establishments are able to operate at the 75% capacity due to filing of the required attestation form with DSHS.


We strongly recommend that citizens continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and wear a mask when in public areas. Citizens should also simply stay home when possible and don’t make unnecessary trips into public.

 

We as a City and County will follow Governor’s Abbott’s Executive Order. We are each called upon to act as Texans, to act responsibly and continue following all health precautions and sanitizing guidelines. Anyone with questions regarding the specific guidelines for each business may visit Governor Abbott’s website at https://gov.texas.gov/.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman
?

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

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Big Spring City Council meeting highlights from 6/23/2020 


Announcements, Presentations, and Public Hearings

Mayor Shannon Thomason accepted the gift from the Big Spring Area Community Foundation. The gift was a grant in an amount not to exceed $50,000 to pay off past due water bills for certain water customers in certain amounts. (To read more about the grant, visit: https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/513228 )

 

City Manager’s Report

Board Applications still needed for:

  • Engineer or Architect Board Member for Board of Adjustments & Appeals
  • Alternate for Zoning Board of Adjustments
  • Animal Control & Rescue Committee (5 members needed)
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau Board 
  • Parks Recreation Board (2 members needed)
  • Citizens Advisory Board (as needed)

 

Russ McEwen Aquatic Center Update: Facility reopened on 06/16/2020. Serves 250 customers on average. Facility is open Tuesday - Sunday, 1-7 PM. Hope to have Splash Pad ready to go in July 2020.

 

Comanche Trail Lake Update: Recently stocked with 3,500 Florida Strain Largemouth Bass on June 10, 2020 and will also be receiving fish attractor structures within the coming months because of a partnership between the Big Spring Area Community Foundation and the Hayes Stripling Jr Fund. 

 

Clean Up of Burnt Structures: Two lots / burnt structures have been cleaned up recently, one was on Lindberg St. and the other on Cardinal St, for a cost of $11,000. The budget for this project is $50,000 to get it off the ground. Clean up has begun on Dixie St. with two local contractors bidding on the project.

 

Ports-to-Plains Feasibility Study- I-27: On June 15, 2020, Congressmen Jodey Arrington and Henry Cuellar introduced the Ports-to-Plains Highway Act on 2020 House Resolution 7151. The bi-partisan bill is an effort to designate the remainder of the I-27 Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor a federal highway. This action is necessary to be eligible for federal funding for the $23.5 billion project that stretches from New Mexico to Laredo. In 1988, the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor was designated as a High Priority Corridor by Congress. The Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor includes a direct route through Big Spring and a Midland Loop. 

 

HB 1079 Important Dates

  • June 30, 2020: Segment Committees’ report to Advisory Committee
  • October 31, 2020: Advisory Committee submits recommendations to TxDOT
  • January 1, 2021: TxDOT submits report to Governor and Texas Legislature.

 

Update on Reliever Route: TxDOT will open the reliever route to traffic on the northern section within weeks. No definitive date as of yet. Date for the grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony had not been determined. 

 

Consent Items and Vouchers - all pass with vote of 6-0, Hartman absent from meeting

 

Bids: Bid awarded for Wastewater Treatment Plant Clarifier and Trickling Filter Construction Contract to Dorado Construction Group for the total contract amount of $1,245,520.64.

 

New Business Items

Update on U.S. Census for 2020: Amber Pedigo with the US Census advised that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress has approved that the Census continue through October 31, 2020. At this time, Howard County has a 47.4 percent self-response rate for the current census. In 2010 the final response rate was 60.6 percent. 

 

Howard County Appraisal District presented the proposed 2021 Budget: Lisa Reyna, HCAD Chief Appraiser advised that budget had decreased from 2020. The total amount of the budget that is billed to the entities is $1,083,901.50. This is a 16.54% decrease over the prior year budget.

 

Emergency Item* #25:  6-0 approval on ordinance amending ordinances to increase various fees and ban fireworks and the discharge of firearms at Moss Creek Lake, as well as clarifying language in an ordinance to ban glass beverage containers in all city parks and city properties, including the Comanche Trail Golf Course. Amendments effective immediately. (Council members unanimously consented to make this item an emergency item. For more on this story, visit:  https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/515003 )

 

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Governor Abbott Takes Executive Action To Contain Spread Of COVID-19; Limits Certain Businesses And Services With Link To Infections


AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. This decision comes as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased and the positivity rate in Texas increased above 10%, which the Governor previously stated would lead to further preventative action. The targeted, measured directives in the executive order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state.

 

The order includes the following:

 

All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 PM today. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

 

Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy, beginning Monday, June 29, 2020.

 

Rafting and tubing businesses must close.

 

Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions.

 

“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”

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State News: DPS Arrests Suspect in Austin for Felony Criminal Mischief, Damage Caused to State Capitol


 

AUSTIN – On Tuesday, June 23, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested a suspect in connection with the vandalism and damage caused to the Texas State Capitol during a protest on Saturday, May 30. During the incident, a number of protestors intentionally damaged the historic Texas State Capitol building, monuments and fixtures, as well as DPS patrol vehicles. Several DPS Troopers were also injured during the riot.

 

DPS Special Agents initiated an investigation, and over the last several weeks, they reviewed hundreds of hours of videos from various media platforms, surveillance camera footage, law enforcement databases and open source information.

 

As a result of this investigation, DPS Special Agents obtained an arrest warrant for Keegan Dalton Godsey, 23, of Austin, Texas. Godsey was arrested without incident for felony criminal mischief, riot and interference with public duties, and was booked into the Travis Co. Jail on Tuesday.

 

Additionally, DPS is working with Capital Area Crime Stoppers to locate several individuals who were captured on video and in photos during an active assault on DPS Troopers. This incident occurred during a protest at the State Capitol on Saturday, May 30, at approximately 3:30 p.m. Several DPS Troopers were assaulted, and property was damaged. Anyone with information about this specific event or those involved is urged to contact Capital Area Crime Stoppers. (Please see the photos below for individuals wanted in connection with this crime.) All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous. Contact Crime Stoppers by phone at (800) 893-TIPS (8477) or (512) 472-TIPS (8447); online at www.austincrimestoppers.org; or by mobile app: P3 Tips.

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Special City Council meeting in Big Spring to be held on Monday, 6/29/2020, to consider an increase to property tax rate cap.


According to Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason, there will be a Special City Council meeting, held on Monday, 6/29/2020, at 5:30 PM, in the City Council Chambers located at 307 E. 4th St.

 

The Big Spring City Council will be considering an increase to the property tax rate cap from 3.5% to 8%.  If approved, this increase will be in effect for the next three years.

This item had been listed on Tuesday night’s agenda for the last city council meeting, however, the meeting was adjourned early since a majority of the council members walked out of the meeting.

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Recall Petitions Requested in Big Spring


On Thursday, June 25, 2020, an affidavit was filed with the office of the Big Spring City Secretary requesting the issuance of petitions for the recall of City Council Member Camilla Strande of District 5 and Council Member Jim DePauw of District 6.

 

The recall process is outlined in Article XI of the Big Spring City Charter. For more information, please contact Donald Moore at 432-264-2517.

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BSGSA Coach recently tests positive for COVID-19.


On Friday, June 19, 2020, the Big Spring Girls Softball Association announced that one of their coaches had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the team had been notified. 

 

The organization also immediately reached out to City of Big Spring staff, Big Spring Fire Chief Craig Ferguson, and the Texas Health Department to inquire how to proceed with the season. It was determined that the common areas of the softball complex would be disinfected nightly and BSGSA would provide hand sanitizer. 

 

“We want to provide a good, clean, safe environment for not only the players, but for any of the spectators that are out,” said Johnny DeLeon, BSGSA President and City of Big Spring Parks and Recreation Committee Member.

 

According to DeLeon, all agencies contacted advised that the organization was cleared to continue with the season.

 

Recently, DeLeon addressed concerns in an open letter to citizens, players, parents, and coaches of Big Spring. In it, he reminded that BSGSA is a recreational league and they do not actively recruit players. He noted that parents register and pay for their children to play, and injuries and illnesses are always a possibility.

 

DeLeon also explained why refunds were denied, stating that recreational sports leagues are non-profit organizations and the money charged is just enough for the league to get started. He advised that when the COVID-19 precautions took effect, uniforms, insurance, equipment, and various other fees had already been paid, and a refund would have been minimal. 

 

Ultimately, he emphasized that board members, coaches, and other league personnel are all volunteers who donate their time, attention, and love to their players. 

 

“We are a quality of life program,” said DeLeon of the league. “We want these girls to go out and have a good time, to learn sportsmanship, to learn teamwork, to develop a skill that they may not otherwise know they had. Some of these girls will never play any other sport, some of these girls will go on to play multiple sports, but we want to instill that confidence in them that they are eligible to go out and do things, and that’s the only reason we continue to do what we do.”

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Big Spring Economic Development Corporation Names Mark Willis Executive Director


The Big Spring Economic Development Corporation today announced Mark Willis as its new Executive Director following an intensive nationwide search. Willis has over 25 years of economic development experience in Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. He most recently worked as the Economic Development Manager at the Lower Colorado River Authority. He will take over as the Big Spring EDC Executive Director on August 5th, 2020.


Big Spring EDC Board President, Jeff Ward, stated, “Mark brings a significant amount of Economic Development Experience from all over the country with him. Mark's resume, reputation, interview and professionalism is more than we could have asked for. Mark was born in West Texas and has been looking for the right opportunity to move back home. We are thrilled with the opportunities that Mark has discussed with the Board and are anxious to see the growth and development he will help foster!” Ward continued, “The Board as a whole was very impressed with his composure and confidence in his abilities. Mark has many proven Economic Development projects under his belt. He has helped large scale distribution plants set up in his service area as well as foster the stability of businesses that were already established. Mark is confident, experienced, professional and intelligent, we feel he will be able to serve Big Spring well!”


Upon former Executive Director, Terry Wegman’s retirement in late March, the Big Spring EDC Board has worked hand-in-hand with The PACE Group, the leading executive search firm specializing in economic development. A top-notch pool of candidates was developed, and several finalists were interviewed by the board over the last several weeks.


Prior to joining Lower Colorado River Authority, Willis served for four years as the Director of Economic Development for The City of Leander, TX. Willis went to Leander after serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Wyoming Business Council. Willis has managed economic development organizations in Ada, OK, Bryan-College Station, TX, and Johnson County, TX.

 

"I'm really looking forward to coming home to West-Texas and working with the Big Spring team. Economic development is very much a team sport and from what I have experienced I will be proud to be a member of this one,"said Willis.

 

He also stated, "Everyone, everywhere is in the mist of perhaps one of the most challenging times in our lives on every level imaginable. The economy is no exception and it is going to be difficult for a while. However, the challenge and resulting evolution/adaptations the system will be making will also open up opportunities. Good economic development teams will strive to recognize the changes coming, prepare for them and ultimately benefit from them. I'm confident we can do that in Big Spring."

 

Willis spent his formative years in Midland, TX. Following high school Willis attended Texas A&M in College Station, TX and completed his bachelor’s. Willis ultimately received his Master’s of Business Administration from Texas A&M and has completed several professional development programs including receiving his Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2002. He has been on many boards and councils and has held memberships from many organizations throughout his career including International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Texas Economic Development Council, Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC), Team Texas and Wyoming Economic Development Council among others.


The new Big Spring EDC Executive Director will head up efforts to encourage and support the economic growth of Big Spring by developing and implementing Big Spring EDC’s aggressive economic development marketing program focused on business expansion and recruitment, workforce support, image enhancement and economic development marketing.

 

About Big Spring Economic Development Corporation

 

Big Spring EDC targets specific industries, activities and opportunities on which to focus recruitment and retention efforts. Matching location strengths to industry requirements and to industry demand patterns is critical in target industry identification, and an essential component of an effective development strategy. These defined industries are a likely match for the relocation or expansion of primary jobs in Big Spring. Our Mission is to assist, stimulate, and enhance economic development in Big Spring, Texas, subject to applicable State and Federal laws and the Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation. To utilize its Sales Tax Revenues to increase the job opportunities available to the citizens of Big Spring by assisting the expansion of local businesses and attracting new business activities to Big Spring.


Big Spring EDC is governed by a Board of Directors and employs an Executive Director and staff. The organization is based in Big Spring, TX.

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Governor Abbott Announces Temporary Pause Of Additional Reopening Phases


AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that are permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

 

“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” said Governor Abbott. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.”

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State News: Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Expanding Hospital Capacity; Order Suspends Elective Surgeries in Four Texas Counties


 

 

 

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Governor’s order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties. Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. 

 

Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

 

“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Governor Abbott. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”

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Crime Stoppers is asking for the public's help in locating and identifying Burglary of Vehicles suspects. 


Big Spring / Howard County Crime Stoppers is requesting the public's help in locating and identifying suspects involved in Burglary of Vehicles.

 

From Big Spring Howard County Crime Stoppers:

 

On June 14, 2020, at approximately 9:34 AM, officers with the Big Spring Police Department were dispatched to a residence located in the 2700 block of Coronado Street in reference to Burglary of Vehicles. Upon arrival, officers learned that at least 3 subjects were involved in burglarizing vehicles at approximately 5:16 AM. Same as previous burglaries, a “locked” door will defeat these burglars the majority of the time. The public is reminded to remove expensive items and firearms from their vehicles, and to remember to LOCK THEIR DOORS. Crime Stoppers will pay UP TO $1000.00 cash to the FIRST person who can provide information that identifies and or locates the actors.

 

DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TIP ON FACEBOOK MESSENGER. USE THE SUBMIT A TIP ICON ON OUR PAGE.

 

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR TIP ONLINE FIRST IF POSSIBLE!! YOU CAN HAVE A DIALOG WITH CRIMESTOPPERS AND BE UPDATED ON ANY REWARD INFORMATION!! NO NOT LOOSE YOUR TIP NUMBER, YOU WILL NEED IT TO CLAIM YOUR REWARD

 

You can also call the TIPS line at 432-263-8477 (TIPS) you will remain anonymous and no caller ID is ever used. Or use the new P3tips.com software and you can submit your tip online we have and it is also completely anonymous. Remember you can earn up to a $1000.00 Dollar CASH reward if you're the first caller with information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) involved. That’s a CASH REWARD.. You don't have to tell your wife, husband, or anyone if you're the first caller with information that leads to an arrest and you receive the reward!!! Please keep the ID Tip number that you receive when you submit your tip on P3tips.com. DO NOT LOSE YOUR TIP NUMBER.

 

Please reference case # 2-20-01921 in your tip.

Web Tip Link: https://www.p3tips.com/1277

 

 

To view the orignial post from Big Spring Howard County Crimestoppers, visit: 

 

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2132109843599774 

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Highland Fourth of July Parade in Big Spring will continue as scheduled.


Big Spring’s annual event Pops in the Park may have been canceled this year due to COVID-19, but this year’s Highland Fourth of July parade will continue.

 

The annual Highland Fourth of July Parade in Big Spring has been going on for many years. Everyone in the community is welcome to participate and/or watch, Saturday, July 4th. The parade line-up and entry judging is at 9:30 AM on the corner of Robb and Highland. At 10 AM the parade then travels over to Goliad.

 

Shonda Folsom, organizer for the event, told KBest News that there are 15 different categories that entries will be judged in. 

 

"We just ask that people pull out their red, white, and blue. Grab some star-shaped sunglasses or some streamers and be creative with it," said Folsom. 

 

Although, the parade is an outdoor activity spectators are encouraged to space out more this year. Folsom advised that there will still be drinks and snacks at the end of the parade but this year those items will be prepackaged. 

 

Anyone interested in contributing a donation to the event, or if anyone has questions about the parade, they should contact Shonda Folsom at 432-213-7671, or email her at shonda.folsom@yahoo.com

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BSISD announces Audrey Dunn as new Head Girls' Coach in Track & Field


On Tuesday afternoon, Big Spring ISD named top Lady Steer Assistant Coach Audrey Dunn as the new Head Girls' Coach in Track & Field.

 

Coach Audrey Dunn was recognized in 2019 as the Texas Girls' Coaches Association classes 1A-4A's Track & Field's Assistant Coach of the Year. She has also served the Lady Steers' basketball program as an outstanding varsity assistant. 

 

According to BSISD Athletic Director Mike Ritchey, Coach Dunn has played a major role in developing Lady Steer athletes from Junior High through High School. The Lady Steer track program is respected and tradition rich, and Coach Dunn has been critical in the many track successes the program has celebrated during her tenure as an assistant coach. 

 

He went on to state that BSISD is confident that Coach Dunn will continue to build on what is already one of the top track and field programs in the State of Texas.

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City Council approves Emergency Ordinance to IMMEDIATELY ban fireworks at Moss Creek Lake


Council members had no objections to make last night’s agenda item # 25 an emergency item. The ordinance amended ordinances to increase various fees and ban fireworks and the discharge of firearms at Moss Creek Lake, as well as clarifying language in an ordinance to ban glass beverage containers in all city parks and city properties, including the Comanche Trail Golf Course. The following amended ordinances passed 6-0.

 

Increase in various fees at Moss Creek Lake 

 

Ordinance: Chapter 6 of the Big Spring Code of Ordinances entitled "Cemeteries, Parks, and Recreation," Article 5 "Moss Creek Lake," Section 6-111 "Admission Regulations, Subsection B "Admission and Permit Fees"

 

The new admission fees increased to $5 per vehicle driven by a Howard County resident, and $20 per vehicle driven by an out-of-county resident. The previous rate had been $3 per vehicle, and $0.50 per additional person, not to exceed $5. 

 

Camilla Strande, Council Member for District 5, stated that she was initially concerned that the new rate may have been too much for out-of-town visitors, but after comparing the new Moss Creek Lake rate to that of Buffalo Spring Lake outside of Lubbock, TX she found that the new charge was, indeed, still favorable. She noted that Buffalo Spring Lake charged per person at rates of $11 per adult and $6 per child, charge per person not vehicle.

 

The amended ordinance also shows that Launching Permits for Registered Vessels increased from $2.00 to $10.00.

 

It was noted during the meeting that fees charged are to assist in maintenance costs. Strande pointed out that a great deal of maintenance is required to accommodate the influx of people using Moss Creek Lake.

 

 

Fireworks and Discharging of Firearms BANNED at Moss Creek Lake

 

Ordinance: Chapter 6 of the Big Spring Code of Ordinances entitled "Cemeteries, Parks, and Recreation," Article 5 "Moss Creek Lake," Section 6-117 "Discharge of Firearms and Hunting" 

(It should be noted that Section 6-117 was renamed to "Hunting, Discharge of Firearms, and Fireworks Prohibited" in order to clarify the heading and ban the discharge of fireworks at Moss Creek Lake.)

 

The discharge of firearms or fireworks of any kind within the Moss Creek Lake facility or on the lake property is strictly prohibited. The ban took effect immediately. 

 

During the meeting, Big Spring Fire Chief Craig Ferguson advised that the fire danger at this time is very high, even with the recent rainfall. 

 

 

Glass Beverage Containers Banned in City Parks and Public Properties 

 

Ordinance: Chapter 2 of the Big Spring Code of Ordinances entitled "Alcoholic Beverages," Section 2-9 "Banning of Glass Beverage Containers in All City Parks and Public Properties

 

Language was clarified in the above mentioned ordinance to show that it is unlawful for any person to possess or use any glass beverage container in any city park or any city property within the corporate limits of the City of Big Spring, to include Moss Creek Lake Park and the Comanche Trail Golf Course.

 


 

The full agenda from the Big Spring City Council meeting on 06/23/2020 can be viewed here:

 

http://mybigspring.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06232020-401

 

 

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Council Members Walkout of Big Spring City Council Meeting, 06/23/2020


Last night’s Big Spring City Council meeting on 06/23/2020 came to an abrupt halt after four council members walked out of the meeting after their attempt to appeal the decision of the Chair was declared invalid by the mayor. 

 

Councilman Raul Marquez, District 1, made a motion to approve a resolution authorizing the creation of a New Infill Development Incentive Program designed to facilitate private investment toward the construction of single-family housing within the city limits of Big Spring and therefore encourage Economic Development that benefits the health, safety, and welfare of the Big Spring community. Mayor Shannon Thomason then ruled the resolution to be out of order because it did not follow the direction of the Council that was issued at a previous meeting to create a program for infill development incentives on existing subdivisions. He stated that he was not opposed to the program, but he pointed out that the current resolution could also be used for new developments and remodeling. 

 

Marquez contended that the goal of the resolution was to give the city a better look and increase their tax base. He suggested that the resolution be amended but not shut down. Camilla Strande, Council Representative for District 5, reasoned that the wording of the resolution still met the direction of council, however, Thomason stood by his ruling that the motion was out of order. DePauw later tried to appeal the decision of the chair, but Thomason advised that he was not able to because it was not done immediately. Mayor Thomason stated that Marquez had the floor and did not take the opportunity to appeal the chair.

 

At that time, DePauw stated that he had had enough, and walked out of the meeting. Strande then followed, stating that she was tired of playing games. Council members Marquez and Terry McDaniel, District 3, also walked out. Before leaving the City Council Chambers, Strande stated, “If we stand here and let him do this, then this is how it will be every meeting!”

 

Thomason and District 4 Council Member Gloria McDonald were the only ones left sitting at the table. Council Member Doug Hartman, District 2, was not present for the meeting. Since there were not enough council members to hold a quorum, the meeting was adjourned.

 

On May 26, 2020 City Council members unanimously passed a motion to direct the City of Big Spring City Manager and staff to develop a program of development incentives for infill lots in established subdivisions. Council members Marquez, McDaniel, and DePauw were appointed to the committee to give input to the City Manager in developing the program. 

 

According to Mayor Thomason, the resolution presented allowed not only infill development incentives for existing subdivisions, but also for new developments and remodeling. He pointed out that the resolution also went into larger housing, and the original discussion was to create workforce / inexpensive housing. Thomason stated that he ruled the motion out of order because the resolution overstepped the direction of the council.

 

Thomason went on to explain that, per Robert's Rules, when a motion is ruled out of order by the Chair, if it’s going to be appealed, it must be done so immediately. He stated that instead of appealing it, the council led into discussion, thus making the appeal invalid.

 

When asked his thoughts on the walkout, Thomason stated, “I’m really disappointed in the council. They have a job to do. They’re there to represent the citizens.” He went on to say that he is for the infill incentives for existing subdivisions, and has been for it since it was discussed at the May 26, 2020 meeting, but what was brought back to council did not meet the requirements that had been established.

 

When asked what led to the walkout, DePauw told KBest News that the Mayor wasn’t going to let them vote on the resolution that was worked on by 3 of the 6 council members. 

 

“Terry McDaniel, Raul Marquez, and I worked on that resolution. Raul wanted it on the agenda, and the mayor hijacked it. It’s tyranny! It’s what it is and we’re not gonna stand for it any longer,” said DePauw.

 

Thomason had stated in the meeting that resolution could be brought back to the council at a later time, but Strande told KBest News that it shouldn’t have to be brought back. 

 

“As a council member we can bring and put anything we want to the agenda. It’s our right as a council person. When the mayor overrules us. He is ruling and making decisions as if he were a dictator to determine what we can speak on and what we cannot,” said Strande.

 

When asked what she meant with her comment, “I’m not playing games anymore”, Strande went on to explain that since he’s been placed in office, the mayor has continually abused Robert's Rules of Order. 

 

“The mayor chooses which rules he wants to enforce and which ones he shouldn’t, just like tonight when he overturned that motion and wouldn’t let us make a second. There shouldn’t have been any discussion,” said Strande. 

 

She went on to say that the mayor is not allowed to make any motion but he does it regularly.

 

“He makes motions. He makes seconds. As the chair, he’s not allowed to do that,” continued Strande. “He is continually abusing Robert’s Rules to control our right to speak, our right to put forward ideas, and our right as a council to make progress for Big Spring.”

 

Strande advised that she cares very much about Big Spring and she only wants to see Big Spring make progress. 

 

“I’m going to continue to work for that. No matter the obstacles, I will continue to do my best to serve Big Spring and to continue to make progress,” said Strande.

 

Now that the council has taken a stand, McDaniel told KBest News that he hopes the mayor will now understand that they will not tolerate his interrupting, overruling, and doing things outside of Robert's Rules of meeting. 

 

The items on the agenda that were not voted on last night are expected to carry over to the next meeting.

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COVID-19 CASES #27 - 30 CONFIRMED IN HOWARD COUNTY TODAY, 06/23/2020


From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman,
Mayor Shannon Thomason, and Howard County Emergency Management

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 23, 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of four new positive tests result for COVID-19. The individuals are isolating at home and are currently exhibiting mild symptoms. These new cases have been determined to be community spread.

The affected individuals are:

 

19-year-old male
9-year-old female
60-year-old male
27-year-old male

 

These are the 27th through 30th cases of COVID-19 in Big Spring/Howard County. We now have thirty confirmed positives in Big Spring and Howard County to date and 16 active cases.

 

Officials want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of continuing to take proper precautions against the spread of respiratory illness. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

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COVID-19 PSA, 06/23/2020


Press Release 6-23-2020

From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman,
Mayor Shannon Thomason and Howard County Emergency Management

Re: COVID-19 PSA

 

We have received a couple of emails and phone calls regarding discrepancies with DSHS reporting numbers and the City of Big Spring/Howard County reporting numbers and believe that it would be beneficial to explain.

 

The Department of State Health Services receives positive lab results from all testing sites. Those positive results are assigned to a DSHS investigator and upon specific information being verified by DSHS, the local entities’ emergency management is notified. There is usually a delay in emergency management’s notification from DSHS, though we feel it necessary to wait upon the official notification from DSHS instead of relying on their dashboard website for our notification to the citizens of Big Spring and Howard County. This assures us it was not a data-entry issue and assures us we have the most information we can share such as age, gender, current condition and how contracted. It is also noted that occasionally we receive the official notification of positive COVID-19 patients prior to them being displayed on the DSHS dashboard website.

 

We appreciate the understanding of our citizens on this matter as sharing this information is a daily process that takes the coordination of multiple individuals and entities.

 

Also, we STRONGLY URGE all citizens to practice caution when going out in public, and to do so only when necessary. When in public areas, citizens should always wear a mask or face covering. These actions protect you and help decrease the spread, especially if you unknowingly have COVID-19 and take the proper precautions. It is crucial that we as a community take our health seriously and minimize the risk to our population.

 

COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

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Big Spring City Council Meeting TONIGHT, 06/24/2020, at 5:30 PM.


Tonight's Big Spring City Council meeting will be held at 5:30 PM at the City Council Chambers, located at 304 E. 4th St. in Big Spring.

 

Items on the agenda include:

* Acceptance of a gift from the Big Spring Area Community Foundation

 

* The City Manager's Report will include updates on large item pickup for District 6, Russ McEwen Aquatic Center, Comanche Trail Lake, Ports-to-Plains Feasibility Study on I-27, the north section of the Reliever Route. It will also include information on lot cleanup of burnt structures and a report by the Medical Advisor.

 

* Awarding a bid for Wastewater Treatment Plant Clarifier and Trickling Filter Construction to Dorado Construction Group

 

* Update on US Census 2020

 

* Presentation of the Howard County Appraisal District Proposed 2021 Budget

 

* First reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 6 of the Big Spring Code of Ordinances entitled "Cemeteries, Parks, and Recreation," Article 5 "Moss Creek Lake," Section 6-111 "Admission Regulations, Subsection B "Admission and Permit Fees" to increase various fees; amending Section 6-117 "Discharge of Firearms and Hunting" by renaming the section to "Hunting, Discharge of Firearms, and Fireworks Prohibited" in order to clarify the heading and ban the discharge of fireworks at Moss Creek Lake; amending Chapter 2 of the Big Spring Code of Ordinances entitled "Alcoholic Beverages," Section 2-9 "Banning of Glass Beverage Containers in All City Parks and Public Properties to clarify the language banning glass bottles and excepting Comanche Trail Golf Course from the ban

 

*First reading of a resolution authorizing the creation of a New Infill Development Incentive Program designed to facilitate private investment toward the construction of single-family housing within the city limits of Big Spring.

 

* First reading of a resolution authorizing the Finance Director to direct the Howard County Tax Appraiser/Collector to calculate the voter-approval tax rate of the City of Big Spring using the special taxing unit cap rate of 8% instead of the recently amended 3.5% cap rate as a result of the Declaration of Disaster issued by the President of the United States and the Texas Governor; clarifying to the citizens of Big Spring that this cap rate increase does not reflect the City Council's intent to raise taxes by 8% but instead to increase the cap as a precautionary measure as permitted during times of disaster.

 

*First reading of a resolution authorizing the auction of surplus of property to the highest bidder for cash, without reservation

 

*Consideration and possible action to delegate negotiating authority to City Manager over a possible lease to another party of Building 19, Air Park, Big Spring, TX

 

* Consideration and possible action to grant an Easement and Right-of-Way to Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC for purpose of improving the value of property at 5412 I-20 West, Big Spring, TX

 

Citizens can attend the meeting in person, or attend via telecommunication. The meeting can be viewed Suddenlink Channel 17, or through the city website at:

http://mybigspring.com/224/Channel-17-Live

 

The full agenda for the meeting can be viewed at:

http://mybigspring.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_06232020-401

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Area News: School of Veterinary Medicine Complex Taking Shape with Construction on Schedule


The first veterinary school in Texas in 100 years is being built on the campus of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo.

 

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AMARILLO, TX - If you live in Texas, particularly if you own animals, you have likely heard that Texas Tech University is responding to the needs of Texas and opening the first new veterinary school in a century in Texas. While much has been discussed and celebrated in the media, there has been quite a bit of activity happening behind the scenes – acquiring the finances needed to make it happen, getting regulatory and accreditation approvals, hiring faculty and devising a truly innovative curriculum.

 

But anyone looking to the northwest of Amarillo will see the giant crane at the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine construction site. The school’s facilities are quickly taking shape. Now clearly visible north of Interstate 40 from both Loop 335 and Coulter Avenue, the physical return on investment from the gifts and grants provided by generous donors and the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation is evident.  The vision shared by Texas Tech, Amarillo, the region and across Texas has become a reality.

 

According to Billy Breedlove, vice chancellor of Facilities Planning & Construction for the Texas Tech University System, construction of the School of Veterinary Medicine is on time and progressing as planned. The steel structure of the main academic building and school headquarters is beginning to take shape, and construction of the Mariposa Station, the large-animal facility for the school, also has begun.

 

“We had some really good weather through the winter in Amarillo, which can be a big factor in our construction schedule,” Breedlove said. “Since we are going vertical with the steel, you can see the building taking shape.”

 

Work to date on what is known as the School of Veterinary Medicine Amarillo Campus, located just to the north of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Amarillo campus, has included installation of all in-ground electrical and plumbing infrastructure, pouring concrete footings, slab on grade, utilities and erecting steel.

 

“I never thought I could get so excited at seeing concrete and steel,” said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “What has been a plan we developed with veterinary professionals and communities across Texas, particularly Amarillo, is now growing and taking shape. Our shared vision has become a reality. And what’s more, we are ahead of schedule on hiring faculty and staff and developing the curriculum.  We are in a great position to welcome the students into this facility next fall. Excitement, enthusiasm and commitment for this program continues to grow. 

 

“We are so thankful to the donors, Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, the legislature and Governor, and all the supporters who made this possible.”

 

Like all construction projects in the System, and around the U.S. for that matter, Texas Tech has paid attention to potential disruptions in labor availability and material delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Breedlove said plant closures have caused manufacturing, availability and delivery delays. He added Texas Tech has been tracking any type of material or delivery delays due to the pandemic, but at the present time is not seeing any disruptions on this project.

 

“Our main focus through the pandemic is the health and safety of our workers at the construction sites across the System, from El Paso to Amarillo and everywhere in between,” Breedlove said. “This involves strict worker screening, personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines, social distancing and enhanced sanitation. The construction industry is experiencing worker inefficiencies because of the enhanced precautions for worker safety. We are monitoring manpower count, COVID-19 delays and COVID-19 cost impacts for the project on a daily basis.”

 

The two-story Amarillo Campus will consist of two state-of-the-art learning wings, both designed hand-in-hand with development of the curriculum.

 

The east wing consists of three large classrooms, breakout rooms, a reading room and student support services on the first floor, with faculty and some staff offices, conference rooms and graduate space on the second floor. The west wing will consist of teaching and research laboratories as well as locker rooms, surgery suites, housing for small animals and support rooms for all teaching activities that occur in this wing. The two wings are connected by a lobby that serves as the entry to the building and as a place for students to each lunch and to hold events.

 

Construction of both Amarillo Campus and Mariposa Station are scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2021 as the School of Veterinary Medicine welcomes its first class of approximately 60 students. Occupancy will likely occur in stages to allow for efficient delivery of the veterinary program while some of the complex laboratory spaces are complete. It was made possible by the generous support from donors and civic leaders, who have pledged more than $90 million for infrastructure, construction and scholarships.

 

In June 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the biennial state budget, which appropriated $17.35 million for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will go toward operational needs in order to get the school up and running. The appropriation included language directing Texas Tech to move forward in establishing the school.

 

But construction for the school has been a learning experience because this is the System’s first veterinary facility. Breedlove said his office has relied upon the School of Veterinary Medicine staff and design teams for their guidance in building a facility unique to Texas Tech.

 

“This facility has research clinics, complex instructional spaces, labs, live animal housing and office spaces, so we’re covering a great deal of technology and equipment,” Breedlove said. “Veterinary equipment can be very specific and has required extensive research and design parameters. It is a great learning experience, and it’s exciting to be a part of the team on this historic initiative.”

 

The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to practice and succeed in rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practices that support these communities. It is also focused on affordability for the students, the University and the state. Texas Tech a developed innovative, world-class and cost-efficient model. In this model, Texas Tech partners with the veterinary practices across the state to provide community-based, real-world experiential learning that compliments their time on the Texas Tech campus.

 

Visitors will soon see completion of the steel ‘skeleton’ of the facilities. This will allow workers to access the interior and exterior of the building and increase the number of trades working on site.

 

“This project has been a monumental collaborative effort between Texas Tech University, the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Texas Tech University System,” Breedlove said. “The teamwork has been remarkable, and it is showing in the progress of the building. It is exciting to see the project go from concept to construction.”

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CISD Athletics suspended summer workouts


With the recent rapid spread of COVID-19 cases in Texas, the CISD Athletic Department will suspend the summer workout program for the next two weeks. 

 

“Our number one priority is the safety of our kids and No. 2 is getting to Aug. 3 healthy as a program,” said CISD Athletic Director Chris Joslin. “I and the administration team have been constantly monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“Based on current information and the increase of COVID-19 cases in Texas, we feel it is in the best interest of our athletes, school, and community to suspend workouts, sports specific activities, and close facilities for the next two weeks.”

 

CISD is also canceling student physicals set for today, Tuesday, June 23, at the Coahoma ISD campus. West Texas Injury Prevention will conduct those physicals at its office, 1111 Scurry, for the same price without an appointment today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

CISD officials will continue to monitor the on-going situation with the goal of opening back up in July. 

 

“It kills us to do this with the work our kids are putting in, but I feel it is the best decision right now,” Joslin said. “This is only a precaution taken because of the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases across the state, area and country over the last week. We do not have any cases at our workouts and have been cleaning our facilities thoroughly following the rules set forth.”

 

Coahoma ISD athletics will still be able to continue summer conditioning through the CISD virtual classroom.

 

“Athletes be sure and login to our athletic classrooms, and we will post workouts to continue during this time,” Joslin said.  “Continue to work on your own so we don’t lose the work you have been doing. Stay safe we will all get through this.”

 

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City and County Urge Vigilance in COVID-19 Prevention:


Press Release 6-22-2020

From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman,
Mayor Shannon Thomason and
Howard County Emergency Management

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

Recently, Big Spring and Howard County have seen a dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases. We believe this surge is due to people being less vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

We STRONGLY URGE all citizens to practice caution when going out in public, and to do so only when necessary. When in public areas, citizens should always wear a mask or face covering. These actions protect you and help decrease the spread, especially if you unknowingly have COVID-19 and take the proper precautions. It is crucial that we as a community take our health seriously and minimize the risk to our population.

 

COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

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Howard County Commissioners Court - highlights, 06/22/2020


Kelly Seales was appointed to Justice of the Peace for Precinct 2, Place 1, during yesterday’s regular session of Howard County Commissioners Court. On July 1, 2020 Seales will begin serving the Coahoma and Forsan area. She’ll be taking over Connie Shaw’s current term that is set to expire in December 2021. Shaw gave her notice of resignation earlier this year. 

 

When asked how she felt to be newly appointed to the position, Seales stated, “I’m extremely honored to be given this opportunity and look forward to serving the community of Howard County.”

 

 

(Courtesy Photo: Kelly Seales, newly appointed Justice of the Peace for Precinct 2, Place 1 in Howard County)

 

 

Also during the meeting, Commissioners approved the donation of land needed for the new 911 Center that will be located on the northeast corner of law enforcement center’s property. This approval is contingent upon an agreement to have the land revert back to the county should the 911 center ever abandon the property. 

 

Commissioners also accepted a check in the amount of approximately $15,000 from the Public Workers’ Compensation Program. This money was presented to them because there have been few workers’ compensation cases filed by the county recently. Commissioners also approved a 5-year rate guarantee for a 6 percent discount with the program.

 

Amber Pedigo with the US Census gave an update on the current self-response rate in Howard County. She advised that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress has approved that the Census continue through October 31, 2020. At this time, Howard County has a 47.4 percent self-response rate for the current census. In 2010 the final response rate was 60.6 percent. Pedigo stated that she is working with North Side Movement and Big Spring Councilman Jim DePauw to generate awareness about the census and encourage everyone to complete it. She advised that information obtained from the census is confidential and is only used for statistical purposes. The information obtained from it is locked for 72 years and those with warrants or illegal immigrants should not be frightened to complete it.

 

A request to go out for bids for pharmaceutical supplies and medications for the Howard County Detention Center and Howard County Indigent/Welfare Health Care and County Juvenile Probation Program was also approved. Plus, Commissioners also approved a transfer of $175,000 from the Tobacco Fund to the Radio Fund.

 

Before closing the meeting, Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman advised by the current Brian Gordon, Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Big Spring, that the CEO of SMMC requested that the county take action to require that everyone in the county wear face masks when in public. Judge Wiseman advised that she and commissioners were not ready to do that, but urged the public to wear masks when in a public place. 

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Area News: 2-Vehicle Crash in Midland County results in 1 fatality, 06/19/2020


A 2-vehicle crash in Midland County on Friday afternoon resulted in 1 fatality. 

 

On June 19, 2020 at 4:30 PM, Texas DPS Troopers responded to a crash at FM 307, 1 mile east of Midland. The crash involved a 2008 Ford F-250, driven by Yoel Sotolongo, 36 of Midland, TX, and a 2015 Kia Optima, driven by Kevin W. Holcomb, 37 of Midland, TX.

 

According to the preliminary investigation, Sotolongo was in the center turn lane facing west on FM 307 and failed to yield the right of way turning left and struck Holcomb’s vehicle as he was traveling east. 

 

Holcomb was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and was pronounced dead on scene. Sotolongo was not injured.  

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Local school districts welcome back students for summer workouts.


Earlier this month, UIL schools in Texas were allowed to begin UIL Summer Strength and Conditioning and Sport Specific Instruction. 

 

Cannon McWilliams, Head Football Coach for Big Spring High School, told KBest News that there are restrictions that must be followed in order to have summer workouts. According to McWilliams, athletes are required to stay 10 feet apart from each other when inside, and 6 feet apart when outside. All workout equipment must be wiped down after use, and hand sanitizer is now readily available. In addition to this, the school cannot provide towels nor workout gear, and students are not allowed to use the water fountain. 

 

Even though there are restrictions and guidelines to follow, Coach McWilliams says he and the staff are excited to get to work with the kids again. 

 

Forsan High School Athletic Director Jason Phillips told KBest News that they only have high school athletes working out at this time and junior high students will begin June 29th. Phillips stated that athletes have been focusing on strength and conditioning. 

 

"We're focusing on strength and conditioning just because we had three months there that we were sending workouts at home. You got some kids that do them, some kids that don't do them but it's not the same [intensity] as being here, around coaches and each other," said Coach Phillips. 

 

When asked how kids were reacting to returning to workouts, Coach Phillips said that kids were excited to get back to a sense of normalcy.  

 

According to Coahoma ISD Athletic Director Chris Joslin, Coahoma saw approximately 179 student athletes in the first week of summer workouts. When asked how it feels to be included in summer workouts and to see that just as much focus is given to female sports and spring sports as there is with fall sports, Mackenley Overton, CHS Senior and multi-sport athlete, stated that it makes female students feel like equals. 

 

"It gives a drive and something to look forwards to, rather than just being someone that goes to games. They actually want to see us succeed," said Overton.

 

Another multi-sport athlete CHS Senior Julia Cox also added that coaches are allowing them to work on sport specific skills.

 

"They're allowing us to work on things such as volleyball, softball, and basketball. So, being able to have those times of days to be able to work on our sport really makes us feel a lot more included," said Cox. "Football [athletes] I know last year got to come out here a lot and we really didn't get to work on our sports. So, it's really helping everybody and makes us feel super included."

 

Summer workouts are set to continue this week for CISD and BSISD. Forsan ISD announced today, 06/22/2020, that due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the area, they will postpone summer strength and conditioning workouts until more information can be gathered. The situation will be reevaluated later this week.

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Area News: Balmorhea State Park Grows Through 643-Acre Land Acquisition


AUSTIN—Balmorhea State Park is gaining some elbow room after a 643-acre land acquisition was recently completed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This acquisition, which was seven years in the making, will increase the size of the 108-acre park seven-fold to a total of 751-acres and increase future opportunities for nature trails, nature watching and scenic overlooks.

 

“This is an exciting acquisition not only from a conservation standpoint but also the opportunity to increase recreational activity for our visitors,” said Rodney Franklin, Director of Texas State Parks.  “Wildlife viewing and hiking are core activities at our parks and providing more space for this is critically important particularly at Balmorhea State Park.  I am very thankful for everyone involved in making this happen as it will impact the park for years to come.”

 

Included in the acquisition is Carpenters Hill, which was originally part of the historic landscape of the park when built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s. Once the land is available for the public to access, visitors can enjoy scenic overlooks from Carpenters Hill and explore new trails through the West Texas landscape.

 

Access to this new land will not be available for some time, but TPWD will be sure to keep the public informed of new information regarding the site.

 

This acquisition was purchased through federal Land and Water Conservation Funds and land sale proceeds.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.  The fund invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing, and provides grants to the states to help strengthen communities, invest in parks, preserve our history and protect our local, state, and national collection of lands and waters.

Work is still underway on multiple construction projects at Balmorhea State Park, including removal and replacement of all existing septic systems, replacement of the chain-link fence surrounding the pool to one made of wrought iron and limestone, reconstruction of the CCC pergola , completion of repairs to the campground and San Solomon Courts, and renovations to the manager’s house and concession building.

 

Details about an expected reopening date will be announced at a later time.

 

Balmorhea State Park, located north of Fort Davis, is home to one of the most unique aquatic environments in Texas, the San Solomon Springs.  The springs are perfect habitat for numerous species of aquatic animals, including two small, endangered desert fishes- the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish.

 

For more information about Balmorhea State Park, visit the TPWD website.

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New COVID-19 Case confirmed in Howard County, 06/18/2020


Press Release 6-18-2020

From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason and Howard County Emergency Management

 

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 18, 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of a new positive test results for COVID-19. The individual is isolating at home and is currently exhibiting mild symptoms. The new case has been determined to be community spread.

 

The affected individual is: A 35-year-old female

 

This is the 24th case of COVID-19 in Big Spring/Howard County. We now have twenty-four confirmed positives in Big Spring and Howard County to date.

 

Officials want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of continuing to take proper precautions against the spread of respiratory illness. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

 

 

County Judge Kathryn Wiseman
Mayor Shannon Thomason

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 Stanton ISD suspends strength and conditioning camps due to staff member testing positive for COVID-19.


Stanton ISD has announced that its strength and conditioning camps have been suspended after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

 

According to a release, school district officials learned about the positive test on Wednesday night.

 

The camps have been suspended Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19 as the school district works to determine the extent of the staff member’s contact with other staff and students.

 

The district stated that they will be in close communication with their local health officials to ensure the health and safety of all their students, families, and staff.

 

All buildings and equipment are being deeply sanitized before reopening.

 

 

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Juneteenth Celebration held in Big Spring's Dr. Morgan Park on Friday, June 19, 2020


The local Black Lives Matter organization in Big Spring invites the public to join them for a Juneteenth celebration at Dr. Morgan Park in Big Spring.

 

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on 19th of  June to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where on that date in 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation.

 

"We're inviting everyone in the community to come out. We're holding it not only for the adults but for also the children," said Jo Lavone Burciaga with BLM. "We'll have jumping castles. We'll have face painting. We'll have sack races. You know, we'll also be cooking food ourselves for anyone who's out there and we'll also have a food truck out there. We're just opening it up to the community to come out and celebrate our freedom. It's what it's all about."

 

There will also be a basketball tournament with cash prizes for 1st and 2nd place. 1st place will receive $300 and 2nd place will receive $200. Registration for the tournament must be completed by 4 PM and the tournament begins at 7 PM. 

 

 

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Pursuit results in arrest of Dancer, 06/17/2020


Media Release from the Big Spring Police Department
6/17/2020

 

On the 17th of June 2020 at approximately 9:10 A.M., Big Spring Police Department officers were dispatched to the 1800 block of Settles for suspicious activity. Upon arrival in the area officers observed a 2011 Harley Black occupied by Corey Dale Dancer Black/Male 36 years of age. Corey immediately took off away from the residence on the motorcycle. Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop but Corey refused to stop and a pursuit was initiated. Officers pursued Corey down city streets which eventually ended in the 400 block of Hillside. Officers found the Harley Davidson had stalled at an intersection which gave officers enough time to take Corey into custody. Officers subsequently found Corey to be in possession of a handgun. Corey was found to have a previous warrant for Evading Officers and was also charged with Evading Arrest/Detention with a Vehicle and Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon.

 

Officers responded back to the 1800 block of Settles and handled the suspicious activity call which was found to be residents accumulating large item pick up items intended for the city dump and taking the items back to their own residence.

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Arrest for Illegal Voting made in Howard County.


Earlier today, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office announced that an arrest for Illegal Voting had been made in Howard County. 

 

According to the press release dated 06/17/2020:

 

 

On 03-13-20, [Texas] Ranger Tod Reed was requested to assist Howard County SO with an Illegal Voting investigation. The complete investigation was turned over to Ranger Reed due to the conflict of Sheriff Stan Parker being on the Election Ballot in the current election. Ranger Reed learned that Howard County was contacted by the Secretary of State Elections Division in reference to the suspect identified as Isabel Calderon, 46 years of age, having duplicate ballots issued. According to records received, Calderon voted in the early voting for the primary election and once again in the primary election. Ranger Reed conducted an interview with Calderon who confessed to voting twice in the 2020 primary election. An arrest warrant was issued for Calderon who was arrested and formally charged with Illegal Voting.

For any further information about this investigation you may contact the Texas Rangers at 432-498- 2120.

 

Sheriff Stan Parker

 

 

Howard County Elections Administrator Jodi Duck also issued a statement following the arrest of the local voter.

 

 

6-17-20

After each election, an audit is conducted to ensure voting activity is documented for each voter. Even though the ballot is secret, the day, party affiliation, and voting location is noted for each voter. It was discovered that one voter had duplicate activity for the March Primary Election held March 3, 2020. My office investigated and it was determined that the voter indeed voted twice by personal appearance, once during early voting and once on Election Day.

 

I contacted the Howard County Attorney for direction on how to proceed with the matter and the issue was turned over to the Texas Rangers for further investigation.

 

Due to the oversight, I will have new procedures, more training, and equipment replacement that will help mitigate any future circumstances of illegal voting, whether intentional or voter error. Election security and integrity is the foundation to fair elections. We work very hard to maintain the trust of our county.

 

It was absolutely necessary to come forward with this information and to allow for outside review of the situation. It was an unfortunate circumstance and I am taking the steps to ensure our volunteers are prepared as well as educating our voters on the law.

 

Jodi Duck

Howard County Election Administrator

 

 

It has been confirmed that Calderon is a paid member of the local LULAC organization in Big Spring. Regarding the issue of illegal voting, Patsy Garza, District Director for Charter 22, has stated, "Yes, we do encourage everyone to vote, but by no mean do we condone ANY illegal activity."

 

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PSA from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, 06/17/2020


The National AARP Tax-Aide officials have notified us that they will not allow many of the local sites to reopen for tax preparation this year. They made this decision using a map that shows the growth of positive COVID-19 cases at this time. Since the numbers for Howard County have recently increased, our Big Spring site will not be allowed to reopen for 2020.

 

There is a free government site that you may use to complete your own taxes. It is: irs.gov/freefile

 

The deadline for filing is July 15, 2020.

 

We appreciate the cooperation of the City of Big Spring for trying to help us get safe procedures in place to meet the national guidelines, and we are very disappointed that we are not being allowed to help our citizens with this important service.

 

You may contact Ray Alexander at (432) 212-3533 if you have any questions.

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Russ McEwen Family Aquatic Center Reopens in Big Spring for 2020 Season.


After being closed for over a year, the Russ McEwen Family Aquatic Center in Big Spring reopened yesterday for the 2020 season. Many families waited in line for the facility to open its doors, with some waiting for over an hour. 

 

Abby, 10, and Hunter, 8, told KBest News were both excited to finally get into the pool and onto the slide. Their mom, Holly Barfield, stated that the kids had been anticipating it for the last 3 weeks.  

 

The Aquatic Center is open Tuesday - Sunday from 1-7 PM. They’ll be closed on Monday to allow staff to deep clean and disinfect the facility. For the safety of their employees and the citizens the facility has implemented rules and guidelines in addition to the previous rules already in place. Although the number of people allowed in the aquatic center is currently limited to 75 percent maximum occupancy, it still allows for up to 450 people at one time. 

 

The following are the additional rules and guidelines for the Russ McEwen Family Aquatic Center’s 2020 season:

 

1. Hours of operation for the 2020 Season are as follows: Tuesday-Sunday: 1pm-7pm

 

2. The number of people allowed in the pool area will be limited to the pool’s social distancing capacity as allowed by the Governor’s Executive Order. At the current 75% allowed level, the number of people allowed in the pool area will be 450.

 

3. Attendance will be based on a first-come first-served basis. Customers trying to enter the pool area after the capacity number has been reached must wait until someone leaves before being allowed to enter.

 

4. Customers will not be allowed to freely enter and exit the pool facilities. If a customer leaves and wishes to re-enter the pool facilities, the customer will be required to get back in line and pay again.

 

5. The Aquatic Center will be closed on Mondays to allow staff to dean clean and disinfect the facility.

 

6. There will be no private parties/pavilion rentals allowed for the 2020 Season.

 

7. Locker rooms will be used only for going to the bathroom. Customers are required to come to the pool dressed for the pool activities. We will not be allowing locker rentals this season.

 

8. There will be a limited amount of pool furniture available – Attendees are welcome to bring in their own folding chair or single purpose chair.

 

9. The concession stand will only be serving pre-packaged food.

 

10. Hand sanitizer will be readily available at multiple locations.

 

11. Lifeguards are not responsible for enforcing social distancing. It is the responsibility of the customer and/or the parent/chaperone.

 

For any questions or concerns please contact the City Manager’s Office at 432-264-2401.

 

Barfield Family waiting in line at the Russ McEwen Family Aquatic Center, 06/16/2020, Big Spring, TX.

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"Texans Helping Texans Initiative" mural project will shine a positive light on things that make Big Spring unique.


Public murals in Big Spring have become a source of pride for local residents and soon there will be one more added to the list. 

 

Big Spring residents Morgan Lee, Naomi Villa, Monica Gutierrez, and local muralist RenRobot were recently inspired to create a mural that brings a positive light to the community by spotlighting things that make Big Spring unique. Since then, the group has dedicated their talents to working together on the mural project called the “Texans Helping Texans Initiative”. 

 

Lee told KBest News that the mural is meant to have a message of inclusivity and is not a political piece. 

 

“Art is not political. Art is art. It’s gonna be up to the viewer’s interpretation, but it is about unity for everybody - everybody coming together,” said Lee. 

 

“The idea we wanted behind it was the fact that we can all come together to make something beautiful. All different people, we can come together and do good things together.”

 

In less than two weeks, the team was able to secure a location for the mural and over $700 in donations from sponsors for materials. The location of the mural is on private property, however it will be on a wall that faces out toward the SM Energy Pavilion at Comanche Trail Park. 

 

The team will begin their work on the mural on Thursday morning at 9 AM and are inviting volunteers to help them complete it. Volunteers need no artistic ability but must be at least 16 to participate. For more information, contact Morgan at (254) 644-4958.

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West Texas VA Health Care System now in Week 2 of Phase 1 in their Moving Forward Plan.


 

BIG SPRING, TX — Last week, the West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) resumed scheduling face-to-face health care appointments and are now in week 2 of Phase 1 in their three-part Moving Forward plan. 

 

“Basically, we’re phasing [into] face-to-face appointments and face-to-face services in all areas in up to 25 percent,” said Jason Cave, WTVAHCS Director. 

 

“Trying to be cognizant of social distancing, we’ve rearranged a lot of furniture. We’ve rearranged when and how we’re doing appointments so that we don't have a huge group of people in," continued Cave. "We’re still doing screenings, still doing testing, we’re still doing face masks, enhanced hand hygiene, and every other precaution we can, but the difference for Phase 1 that we’re in now is that we’re allowing and enabling every area to get up to 25 percent face-to-face.”

 

Cave stated that even during previous COVID-19 restrictions, they still had urgent appointments face-to-face and labs, but now they’re getting back into what is considered ‘routine’ appointments face-to-face.

 

According to Cave, this Moving Forward plan will continue in two-week increments, increasing the number of in-person appointments by 25 percent for each two-week period, until full capacity is achieved.  As the process continues, WTVAHCS will closely monitor all aspects of the delivery of care to ensure a safe environment is maintained for Veterans, staff, and visitors. 

 

Throughout the phased reopening approach, WTVAHCS leadership, clinicians, and staff will continually evaluate all procedures and protocols, adjusting as necessary to ensure the safe delivery of care for all Veterans. 

 

Using triage protocols based on urgency of care, Veterans will be contacted by VA clinical teams to schedule appointments. For more information, call 800-472-1365.

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Moderate Drought in Howard County may cause increase in wildfire frequency.


According to the United States Drought Monitor, Howard County is currently in a Moderate Drought. Under this D1 classification, the following impacts are possible: 

 

- stunting of dryland crops

- beginning of early cattle sales

- increase in wildfire frequency

- stock tanks, creeks, and streams are low; and voluntary water restrictions are requested

 

As of Monday afternoon, 06/15/2020, the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department has responded to 12 grassfires this month. The public is reminded to stay away from areas with active fire scenes so that first responders can work safely. HCVFD Chief Mitchell Hooper also advised that they should watch for the equipment from Howard County Road & Bridge Department because they play an important part in helping them to fight fires. According to Hooper, the faster the Road & Bridge department can get on scene and start cutting fire brakes the faster firefighters can stop the fires. He went on to say with all the other fires around the state, the A&M Forest Service is stretched thin, so the road & bridge department is very important to the volunteer fire department.

 

With the recent fire activity, HCVFD advised that their supplies of drinks and snacks that are used when fighting fires had become low. Chief Hooper noted that since their recent call for donations, they have had cases of water and Gatorade donated but still need snacks - such as granola bars, slim jims, chips or goldfish crackers, etc.  If you would like to donate please call or text (432)270-7160.

 

Chief Hooper also reminded that Howard County is still under a burn ban and only trash in a burn barrel with a small grate on top can be burned in the county. When burning trash, a person needs to be on-site while it burns with an extinguishing agent such as a water hose, fire extinguisher, or 5-gallon bucket of water needs to be nearby ready to use if needed. When trash burning is complete, the fire must be extinguished completely until the area quits steaming.

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Public encouraged to learn more about Classical Christian Education at "Repairing the Ruins" simulcast.


Runnels Academy: A Classical Christian School in Big Spring will be hosting a simulcast event for Repairing the Ruins.

 

"'Repairing the Ruins' is actually a national conference that is hosted by the Association of Classical Christian Schools and it is their annual conference," said Jenny Bryans, Head of School at Runnels Academy. 

 

"This year it was actually supposed to be in Louisville, Kentucky but, instead, obviously because of the COVID-19, they have turned it into a telecast conference instead."

 

The simulcasts will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 18-19, from 1-3 PM and 6-8 PM. It will be viewed in the sanctuary area of Life Church, located next to Runnels Academy at 1004 Johnson. The free simulcasts welcome parents, students, and educators to join them for an inside look at classical Christian education. 

 

Bryans advised that Runnels Academy is utilizing the “Repairing the Ruins” simulcast event to educate the community on what classical Christian education is because there may be families who can benefit from this type of education. 

 

It should be noted that due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, there is limited seating for the event. Bryans advised that face masks are not required for the event, but they are welcomed to do so.

 

For more information, visit the event Facebook page for “Repairing the Ruins Simulcast”. 

 

Runnels Academy, located at 102 E. 10th St. in Big Spring, is a private Christian school that serves children age 4 through 9th grade.

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Highlights from BSISD Board of Trustees meeting, 06/11/2020


The BSISD School Board held it's first "in person" meeting on Thursday evening. Although there is a lot of uncertainty about the upcoming weeks and months for the school district as the board waits for recommendations from the TEA, the reports presented were encouraging. The School District ended the year in strong financial standing. Budget discussions will continue as recommendations for the fall semester are delivered by TEA. All action items were approved unanimously. 

 

The primary focus involved the application of waivers from certain State requirements due to challenges caused by Covid 19. It is important to note that BSISD applied for only six waivers although they could have applied for many more. The additional waivers were unnecessary due to the School District completing many of the requirements before the Coronavirus closed campuses state wide. 

 

George Bancroft, BSISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations, reported that the District had benefited from nine Hope Foundation Grants in amounts that range from $1,500 - $9,500. 

 

Dr. Raemi Thompson, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum for BSISD, reported on the summer JumpStart Program. The program will be held at BSI and Goliad. Guidelines are limiting participation to only ten students to one teacher. Although the Elementary Principals have been reaching out to parents of incoming first through sixth grade students, parents that feel their student might benefit from the summer program may contact Dr. Thompson. 

 

The previously approved calendar for the 2020 - 2021 school year remains in effect. When asked about the calendar, Superintendent Jay McWilliams responded with "We are going full speed ahead as planned". 

 

McWilliams ended the meeting by thanking KBEST Media for the work and preparation that went into the Big Spring High School Graduation.

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Area News: MIDLAND MAN SENTENCED TO STATUTORY MAXIMUM OF 80 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON ON CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES


On June 10, 2020 in Midland, a federal judge sentenced 32-year-old Christopher Ernest Martinez to a statutory-maximum 80 years in federal prison for producing and distributing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash.

 

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge David Counts ordered that Martinez be placed on supervised release for a period of ten years after completing his prison term. On December 19, 2019, Martinez pleaded guilty to two counts of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.

 

On March 4, 2020, Judge Counts sentenced co-defendant, 23-year-old Kelsey Renee Hubbard of Midland, to 40 years in federal prison followed by ten years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of aiding and abetting production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.

 

According to court records, a local business contacted the Midland Police Department (MPD) on September 30, 2019, about a computer sold to them by Hubbard. The computer contained several images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The business contacted MPD when Hubbard appeared the next day attempting to sell jewelry. Officers arrived on the scene and detained Hubbard. Hubbard admitted to investigators that she attempted to clear the computer’s memory before selling it. She also consented to allow MPD to search her cell phone. 

 

A forensics exam of her phone revealed several text messages in September 2019 in which Hubbard and Martinez exchanged approximately 60 images of child pornography, most of them produced by Hubbard at the request of Martinez.

 

“Today a child predator is off the streets for good. The 80-year sentence sends a powerful signal about our seriousness in fighting the scourge of child abuse,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.

 

The Midland Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Daniels and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Austin Berry prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

 

#####

 

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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BSACF Awards COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grants to Qualifying Businesses and a Grant to City of Big Spring to cover Past Due Residential Water Utility Bills to COVID-19 Pandemic 


Big Spring, Texas (June 12, 2020) – For the last three months, the COVID-19 pandemic has been putting major financial strains on local businesses and families. Both have lost income from restrictions placed on them as non-essential businesses and workers. Businesses are suffering from temporary closures, limited business hours and shopping procedures. Families are facing financial obstacles in paying utility bills due to lost income from job loss or a reduction in working hours. 

 

The Big Spring Area Community Foundation is supporting local businesses and individuals hit hard economically by the pandemic by awarding COVID-19 relief grants to 66 qualifying businesses along with a grant to the City of Big Spring to assistance 161 individuals by paying their residential utility water bills that were past due on June 1, 2020. 

 

“As a business owner, you never ever want to experience anything like this and never during your first year in operation. We saw a 60% drop in revenue overnight,” said Kelly Owens, owner of Locals 79720. “It means the world to us to have the support of the Community Foundation with this grant. It gives us a kick start and we're keeping our lights on and staff employed.” 

 

The BSACF annually awards grants in compliance with Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rules to local nonprofits who address community causes and needs. The Foundation was only able to award relief grants this year to assist small businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19 due to the pandemic being declared a national emergency by the Federal Government. During nationally declared emergencies or disasters, IRS regulations allow public charities to provide assistance for individuals and businesses impacted by the crisis. 

 

The Big Spring Area Community Foundation awarded over $474,000 in grants, scholarships and agency funds. For 2020, there were for 22 scholarships, 66 COVID-19 relief grants, one grant to the City of Big Spring to assist 161 individuals with past due utility bills and four agency funds provided throughout Big Spring and the surrounding counties. 

 

For more information about the Big Spring Area Community Foundation, please contact the Foundation offices at 432-714-4316 or email Greg Henry at greghenry1996@gmail.com. 

 

About the Big Spring Area Community Foundation 

The Big Spring Area Community Foundation was established in 2001 to help individuals and families create personal, permanent and powerful legacies with charitable funds customized to meet their philanthropic goals. 

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Community Relations - Part 3 of 6/9/2020 City Council Meeting


Following the death of Geoge Floyd, the man killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, MN that occurred on May 25, 2020, community relations with police departments across the country have been tense. Last week, a Community Discussion was held at the June 9, 2020 Big Spring City Council meeting to talk about the incident and to discuss what steps the Big Spring Police Department could take to be more responsive, open, and accountable to minorities. 

 

Speakers from Big Spring’s Black Lives Matter organization, along with others in the community, requested that the Big Spring PD officers receive sensitivity training, psychological exam and background checks, body cams, adopt a duty to intervene, mental health training, foot patrol, pistol cams, and create a mentoring program for children. 

 

 

 

RACIAL PROFILING

Mayor Shannon Thomason advised that racial profiling is against Texas law and U.S. law. He stated that BSPD has a policy against it and has had it for quite some time. He stated that the city gets audited by a third party every year and a copy of their Racial Profiling Report will be placed on the city website for public access. 

 

According to BSPD Chief Chad Williams, data is collected from the number of proactive contacts made by patrol officers and collected in a yearly Racial Profiling Report for the Big Spring Police Department.

 

Thomason assured citizens that the city takes steps to prevent racial profiling, but also advised that they could report incidents of racial profiling to the police department or council members to be investigated. 

 

According to the city website:

 

The Big Spring Police Department shall accept complaints from any person who believes he or she has been stopped or searched based on racial, ethnic, or national origin. No person shall be discouraged, intimidated or coerced from filing a complaint, nor discriminated against because he or she filed such a complaint.

 

A Racial Profiling Complaint can be filed by contacting any on duty person. The on duty employee will provide the complainant with a copy of the complaint form. The employee will assist the complainant in filling out the form.

 

Investigation of a complaint shall be conducted in a thorough and timely manner. All complaints will be acknowledged in writing to the initiator who will receive disposition regarding said complaint within a reasonable period of time.

 

If a racial profiling complaint is sustained against an officer, it will result in appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

 

(https://www.mybigspring.com/499/Racial-Profiling)

 

 

 

DUTY TO INTERVENE

Mayor Thomason advised it is the city’s policy that officers have a duty to intervene if they see another officer breaking the law, no matter what their rank is. There is no retribution or retaliation for the officer who intervenes. 

 

 

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATIONS AND BACKGROUND CHECKS

According to Stacie King, Benefits Coordinator with Human Resources for the City of Big Spring, a psychological evaluation is conducted on all police officers applicants. This is a state mandate and is required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Applicants must pass the evaluation before they are deemed eligible to serve on a police department. 

 

Extensive background checks are conducted and begins with an oral board panel with four individuals. The personal history statement used is a format that is provided by TCOLE.  It goes back through educational history, previous employment, previous addresses, personal references, and asks for personal information about any individual they have ever resided with, any contact they’ve ever had with law enforcement. It is approximately a 45-page that they are required to complete. The information is verified through a polygraph exam and an extensive background investigation conducted by an investigator with the department. The investigation takes 4-6 weeks to complete as they contact every individual listed in the packet and find as much information as possible on that individual. 

 

King went on to say that there have been individuals in the past that weren’t eligible for hire because the board did not deem them suitable or something came back from the background check. She believed the city had a good and fair system for weeding out problems and she felt like BSPD investigators have no problem saying that any candidate is not suitable for the department. 

 

 

 

MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING

TCOLE requires 40 hours of mental health training along with additional hours of civilian interaction. According to Chief Williams, this training recurs every other year. They also are required to receive de-escalation training. These requirements were added after the death of Sandra Bland, who had died inside a Texas jail cell days after being arrested for a routine traffic stop. 

 

Police officers are required to complete 40 hours of de-escalation training, 40 hours of  crisis intervention training, and 8 hrs of civilian interaction, along with use of force training that is conducted on a rotational basis. 

 

 

 

BODY CAMS AND PISTOL CAMS

City Manager Todd Darden and the Mayor advised that they supported the use of body cams, along with city council members, as they provide protection for civilians and officers. 

 

Currently BSPD vehicles are equipped with in-car video cameras and officers are required to wear an audio recorder in case the video audio fails or the officer gets out of range of the vehicle. Chief Williams advised that new technology coming out would be able to synchronize body cams to in-car video, thus providing one audio recording with two points of view.

 

Thomason advised that body cams would be added to the budget, and that they may be able to use a 75/25 percent matching grant from the Governor’s Office to cover the cost.

 

The pistol cams that were suggested are a newer type of technology that initiates a video recording anytime an officer’s weapon is drawn. Williams advised that he would have to conduct more research on the technology to learn more. He also pointed out that police officers currently purchase their own firearm. If pistol cams are used, the city may have to purchase the firearms to ensure that all equipment and technology are consistent across the board. 

 

 

FOOT PATROL 

Big Spring covers approximately 20 sq. miles. Mayor Thomason advised that the area is too spread out to cover with officers on foot. 

 

 

 

YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM

Currently, there are no mentoring programs in place for BSPD, however they do visit schools occasionally and hang out with the kids. BSPD Officers have played basketball with kids in neighborhoods. They also use Safety Pup and provide officers with badge stickers to assist in making a positive impact with kids. The department also received several teddy bears from the North Side Movement to give to  kids who have been in a crisis situation. 

 

Mayor Thomason advised citizens that everything the public requested during the Tuesday night’s discussion is something that the city is already trying to accomplish, or they are willing to entertain the idea.  

 

“The thing is, we can always use more oversight. We work for the citizens, and we always welcome that,” said Thomason. He also advised that suggestions are also welcomed.

 

 

CITIZENS ADVISORY BOARD

Citizens were advised by Camila Strande, District 5 representative, that there are several open positions available on city boards, such as Board of Adjustments & Appeals, Zoning Board of Adjustments, Animal Control & Rescue Committee, Parks Recreation Board, and Citizens Advisory Board. 

 

Citizens Advisory Board works specifically with the police force. If a complaint is filed against an officer, it is investigated internally. If the complainant is not satisfied with the result of the investigation, they can request that it be reviewed by the Citizen Advisory Board. The board then reinvestigates it to see if there’s something that was missed or advise that it should be reinvestigated. Chief Williams advised that there are also times that a complaint can circumvent the PD investigation and go straight to the CAB.

 

Applications can be found at https://www.mybigspring.com/518/Boards-Committees for anyone wishing to serve on the Citizens Advisory Board, or any of the following boards:

 

Board of Adjustments & Appeals (Engineer or Architect needed); 

Zoning Board of Appeals (Alternate needed); 

Animal Control & Rescue Committee; 

Convention & Visitors Bureau Board; 

Parks Recreation Board; and 

Citizens Advisory Board.

 

 

 

RESOLUTION

 

A resolution was unanimously approved by the Big Spring City Council reaffirming the city’s policies regarding police procedures. 

 

With this resolution, the City of Big Spring reaffirmed the following: 

  • Denunciation of dangerous methods of restraining a person under arrest. 

  • Commitment to act with justice for and with all people, including any person who is arrested.

  • Redeclare that all people are created equal and they reaffirm their policy to treat all people with dignity, equal respect, and equal protection. 

  • Commitment to sound and unbiased law enforcement policies at all levels that condemn any occurrence of excessive physical force on any person who is arrested.

  • Unlawful and dangerous restrain of arrested person by law enforcement will not stand in the City of Big Spring, and the City Council of Big Spring recognizes BSPD for its commitment and dedication to all its duties, including the treatment of all persons its officers arrest with all due respect and concern for those persons’ health, life, and safety.

  • Expressed its gratitude and appreciation to the many persons in the Big Spring community who in peace have given and continue to give voice and action to their values. 

 

 

(Photo: Black Lives Matter, Big Spring organization, members stand together for a group photo after Big Spring City Council meeting on 06/09/2020.)

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Howard County confirms 3 more cases of COVID-19, 6/11/2020


Press Release 6/11/2020
From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason and Howard County Emergency Management

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 11, 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of three new positive test results for COVID-19, a 40-year-old male, a 57-year-old male and a 60-year-old female. These individuals are isolating at home and are currently exhibiting mild symptoms. These new cases have been determined to be community spread.

 

These are the 16th, 17th and 18th cases of COVID-19 in Big Spring/Howard County.

 

Local officials continue to ask all members of the community to remain cautious and continue to take proper precautions against the spread of respiratory illness. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

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City Council Meeting Sparks Mutual Apologies - Part 2 of Big Spring City Council meeting highlights from 06/09/2020


 

What began as an emotionally charged city council meeting last Tuesday, ended with progress and positivity.  Members from the Big Spring Black Lives Matter organization spoke about their experiences during peaceful protests on the corner of Gregg St. and Martin Luther King. Several speakers stated that they received disrespectful treatment from the public as they drove by, in addition to hateful comments made towards the group on social media. BLM protesters advised that even though they invited everyone to join them for the peaceful gathering, they were met with individuals driving by expelling exhaust, yelling obscenities, racial slurs and exhibiting obscene gestures. 

 

During the community discussion, a BLM protester questioned why the Mayor displayed a lack of public support for their message. They stated that it appeared he had used his platform to incite social media “trolls” instead of encouraging the public to be respectful.  Many of the speakers expressed a request for moral support from the Mayor as well as other city leaders.

 

The group also requested that the Big Spring Police Department officers receive sensitivity training, psychological exam and background checks, body cams, adopt a duty to intervene, mental health training, foot patrol, pistol cams, and police mentoring of children. The group also requested an official statement from the city that encourages citizens to be respectful of peaceful protesters.

 

Thomason advised that he did spend some time attending the Sunday protest on May 31, 2020 that was held outside of the U.S. Post Office in Big Spring, and drove beside protesters requesting that people stay out of the street for safety reasons. He went on to say that after he had seen an incident that he felt was disrespectful towards BSPD officers, he came away with a “bad taste”.  

 

As the crowd grew more vocal and emotionally charged, the Mayor asked the crowd to calm down, and requested a 5-minute recess.  Upon the return of the council, the mayor addressed the speakers:  “Should I have participated more? Yeah, probably so,” said Thomason. He went on to say that he was willing to let bygones be bygones and move forward together with the organization to correct issues presented. He then publicly apologized to anyone he had offended, and requested an apology to the Big Spring Police Officers from those who had also offended them. 

 

Jo Lavonne Burciaga, organizer for the local Black Lives Matter protest, publicly apologized to the Big Spring Police Officers in the room. She advised that the Sunday night protest on May 31, 2020, was not one that she had organized, but she apologized for the disrespectful things that had been said to them during that evening. Burciaga and Mayor Thomason then shook hands in an agreement to move forward together for the betterment of the community. Thomason stated, “I’m human---as much as I hate to admit it.  We’re all human.  We all make mistakes.  What we do is, we live, learn and grow.”

 

We'll continue covering highlights from this week's Big Spring City Council meeting tomorrow with Part 3: Community Relations.

 

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14th & 15th Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Howard County


From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman,
Mayor Shannon Thomason and
Howard County Emergency Management

 

Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 9th 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of two new positive test results for COVID-19 a 74 year old male and a 31 year old female. The individuals are isolating at home and are currently exhibiting mild symptoms. Both new cases have been determined to be community spread.

 

This is the 14th and 15th cases of COVID-19 in Big Spring/Howard County.

 

Local officials continue to ask all members of the community to remain cautious and continue to take proper precautions against the spread of respiratory illness. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman
Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

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  Big Spring PD condemns disrespectful behavior exhibited towards the peaceful assemblies with official statement.


Yesterday, The Big Spring Police Department issued a statement condemning the disrespectful behavior that had been exhibited towards peaceful assemblies. This was issued following the Community Discussion that was held on Tuesday at the Big Spring City Council meeting where Black Lives Movement protesters described in detail the types of harassment they had experienced during their gatherings.

 

The statement reads:

 

One of the most fundamental constitutional rights granted to all citizens of the United States of America is the right of the people to peaceably assemble. Over the past several days, there have been a group of citizens exercising this constitutional right in the area of Gregg and Martin Luther King in a peaceful manner. It has come to the attention of the Big Spring Police Department that there are individuals not respecting this peaceful assembly and that these individuals are driving by expelling exhaust, yelling obscenities, racial slurs and exhibiting obscene gestures. The Big Spring Police Department absolutely condemns this behavior as we have always and will continue to encourage any of our citizens to peaceably assemble and will continue to uphold the rights of our citizens who participate in peaceful protests. We ask that all our citizens to show respect to those participating in this peaceful assembly.

 

Chief of Police, Chad Williams

Administrative Lieutenant Brian Gordon

Criminal Investigations Division Sergeant John Haynes

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Big Spring City Council Highlights, 06/09/2020: PART 1 - Benton Bridge


On Tuesday night, 06/09/2020, over 20 people spoke at last night’s Big Spring City Council meeting on community topics including Benton Bridge, Black Lives Matter, and race relations within the city. While there were times that the discussion became tense and emotional, it ended with mutual apologies, an agreement to move forward together as a community, and a call for the public to be respectful towards the peaceful protesters.

 

Benton Bridge

Members of the community voiced their opinions on the bridge message, “YOU CANT DEFEAT LOVE”, that had been spray painted on the side of the Benton Bridge with approval from the City Manager. A majority of residents stated that they agreed with the message but were disappointed that constituents living in the area nor District 2 Councilman Doug Hartman were consulted about the project. They also voiced safety concerns about people hanging off the side of the bridge to paint it and the liability that might cause the city if someone were to get injured. 

 

Several people voiced that the side of Big Spring’s Benton Bridge, a bridge with local historical significance, was not the appropriate place for the message, especially because many saw it as graffiti and not art. It was suggested that the message might have been better received had it been placed on a banner, a bumper sticker, or an area with more traffic that allowed for it to be seen by more people. Speakers suggested that the city restore the bridge and open it to pedestrian traffic, or leave it alone and let someone work on making it a historical site for Big Spring.

 

Desirae “Rae” Ripple, the artist of the Benton Bridge message before it was defaced, explained to council members that the work was meant to be a gift to the city for accepting her into the community years ago. She stated that the message was all-inclusive and requested that the council give her permission to fix the piece. 

 

City Manager Todd Darden apologized publicly to council members and the public for any offense that was caused by approving the artwork on Benton Bridge. He stated that the bridge would be fixed. Mayor Thomason also publicly apologized to citizens and councilmembers for presenting it to city staff and stated that he took responsibility for doing so. 

 

Ultimately, it was stated that the council would revisit the topic of Benton Bridge at a later date.

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Adoption of County Assistance District for Howard County added to November election ballot. 


On Monday, June 8, 2020, Howard County Commissioners approved a motion to have the possible adoption of a County Assistance District added to the November 2020 ballot. The motion passed 4-0, with Commissioner Oscar Garcia, Pct. 1, not present for the vote. 

 

Residents who live in the unincorporated area of the county will get to vote whether or not to create the County Assistance District, which would increase sales tax by two percent, thus matching the sales tax rate inside the city limits. It should be noted that the increase would not affect anyone who is tax exempt, such as farmers and ranchers, but it would affect oil industries.  

 

The adoption of a County Assistance District would generate another stream of revenue to offset the  increase in unfunded mandates that are passed down by the State of Texas. It is expected that a big portion of the tax money collected would come from oil industries, thus allowing for an increased budget for road and bridge maintenance for county roads. Funding from the new revenue stream would also be able to be used to supplement other services that benefit all county residents such as law enforcement and the library.  The extra revenue would also help to prevent a rise in property taxes.

 

During the meeting, Commissioner Jimmie Long, Pct. 3, advised that Ector County and Midland County have adopted a CAD and it’s helped them tremendously. He also suggested that town hall meetings be held in each county precinct to communicate with the public about the CAD and answer questions.

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Area News: EL PASO MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ROLE IN SCHEME TO SELL PROTECTED CACTI


On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Pecos, 47-year-old Harry George Bock, II, pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme to illegally sell protected living rock cactus plants, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Phillip Land, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Office of Law Enforcement of the Southwest Region; and, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Erik P. Breitzke, El Paso Division.

 

Appearing before U.S Magistrate Judge David Fannin, Bock pleaded guilty to one count of mislabeled exports.

 

According to court records, from May 2017 to August 2018, Bock conspired with others in a scheme whereby they submitted false identification of actual living rock cacti (Ariocarpus fissuratus), a protected species, with the intent to export and sell the plants for financial gain. On May 14, 2018, 41 living rock cacti shipped by Bock were seized by authorities at the International Mail Facility in Chicago, IL.

 

In 2012, Texas-based FWS Special Agents uncovered a substantial trafficking organization smuggling thousands of protected living rock cactus from the Big Bend region of Western Texas. Cooperative investigative work led to the execution of six residential search warrants served mostly in remote areas of far southwest Texas where the living rock cacti naturally occur. The living rock cacti were advertised through internet sales and mostly consummated with end purchasers from Europe and Asia. Several parcels containing the live cacti were intercepted at international mail facilities and were found to be falsely labeled which substantiated felony charges to the sellers.

 

“When you mess with protected Texas cacti, you’re messing with Texas. My office will continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to protect our State’s natural heritage,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.

 

The living rock cacti are afforded protection through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and listed as Appendix I protected plant species that prohibit foreign commerce. The CITES Appendix I listing categories the species as threatened with extinction and limits international movements to scientific research and zoological display.

 

Bock remains on bond pending formal sentencing. No sentencing date has been scheduled. Five other individuals have been prosecuted and sentenced in relation to this scheme.

 

“Breaking up international and domestic smuggling rings that target imperiled plants and animals is an important part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s work,” said FWS Special Agent in Charge Land. “This case demonstrates how cooperation between enforcement agencies can achieve strong results. We thank our partners at the National Park Service, Department of Homeland Security, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their help with this case.”

 

“Individuals who deal in protected native plants are not only doing damage to the environment, but they are stealing from the American people,” said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Breitzke. “HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these criminals to ensure the protection of these West Texas natural treasures.”

 

Thousands of live cacti seized by law enforcement during this investigation were cared for and donated to non-profit entities through assistance from the Sul Ross State University.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Miller, Jr., is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

 

#####

 

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Howard County / Big Spring confirms 4 new cases of COVID-19


Press Release 6-8-2020
From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason and Howard County Emergency Management
Re: COVID-19 Update

 

On June 8, 2020, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of four (4) new positive test results for COVID-19. The patients are all isolated at home and are asymptomatic currently. All four new cases have been determined to be community spread.


Local officials continue to ask all members of the community to remain cautious and continue to take proper precautions against the spread of respiratory illness. COVID-19 remains a major concern in our community and we urge citizens to wash their hands, wear a mask, social distance and avoid travel when possible.

 

 

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

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CHS seniors donate $800 to Food2Kids


The Coahoma High School Class of 2020 missed their last prom and senior trip. Instead, they left a legacy to their community by donating funds that would have gone to those end-of-year traditions to organizations that support students in their county. 

 

 “One of their gifts went to the Food2Kids organization in Big Spring,” said Katie Valencia, senior class sponsor. “They donated $800 to help with their program. They chose this organization because of the work Food2Kids does with local students to help keep them fed. Our seniors felt this was especially important during these uncertain times.”   

 

Food2Kids provides a weekend food sack during the school year to Big Spring ISD students, who live in food-insecure households.

 

While students were still attending classes on campuses this past academic year, the organization provided around 400 to 450 weekend food sacks to students who are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, said Pam Steel, Food2Kids board president. 

 

After campuses closed in March as a precautionary measure to help slow the spread of Covid-19, the organization more than doubled its efforts to provide 960 weekend food sacks.

 

“The way Big Spring ISD delivered daily meals was by bus at locations around the city,” Steel said. “We knew the meals were going to children, but we didn’t know if all the meals were going to children who fit into the age group we normally provide. So we knew there was a need, and we tried to step it up. We took a leap of faith and God provided.”

 

Although Food2Kids purchases groceries from the West Texas Food Bank at a discount rate, the additional meals did increase expenses. 

 

Steel said the organization’s board felt it could take on the extra expense thanks to past financial contributions from the community. However, Steel said donations such as the $800 gift from the Coahoma High School seniors help to continue its mission. 

 

“We are very appreciative of Coahoma and everyone who donated,” she said.

 

Besides Food2Kids, the senior class donated money to the Coahoma ISD Life Skills program.

 

“All their donations went to programs and causes they feel help students and their education,” Valencia said.

 

 

Courtesy photo: CHS 2020 Senior Class officers present an $800 check to Pam Steel, Food2Kids board president recently. Pictured from left are Ashley Crisp, vice-president; Hunter Murray, president; Pam Steel, Food2Kids board president; Naughtia Rockwell, secretary; Madison Ramirez, treasurer

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Community Discussion scheduled for Tuesday night at City Council meeting in Big Spring, 06/09/2020


Big Spring City Council will meet in a regular session tomorrow evening at 5:30 PM at the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. 4th St. in Big Spring.

 

A Community Discussion is listed on the agenda in regards to the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis, MN and to discuss what steps the City of Big Spring can take to be more responsive, open, and accountable to its “citizens of color” at Tuesday's meeting.

 

Other items on the agenda include an update on the Russ McEwen Aquatic Center, directing the City Attorney to take immediate legal action to seek a court order setting a special election to be held on August 22, 2020 for the purpose of electing City Council members to represent the Districts 1 and 3, and the first reading of a resolution reaffirming its policies regarding police procedures. There will also be a first reading of a resolution authorizing the City Manager to submit an application to the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division to solicit funding from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program for personal protective equipment and supplies for use by the Big Spring Police Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center, and Emergency Medical Services to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Coronavirus.

 

It should be noted that the public is still able to attend the meetings in person if they choose to do so. The meeting can also be viewed by a live broadcast on Suddenlink Channel 17 or through the Media Center on the city website at http://www.mybigspring.com/224/Channel-17-Live.

 

Those wishing to make a public comment can do so by calling 432-264-2411 during the meeting.

 

View the full agenda here: http://www.mybigspring.com/AgendaCen…/…/Agenda/_06092020-400

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Positive message on Big Spring's Benton Bridge sparks controversy.


While some people in Big Spring have turned to protesting as a means of bringing attention to racial inequalities, local artist Rae Ripple channeled her efforts into a positive message for all. On Monday, June 1, 2020, Ripple - also a certified firefighter - hung off the Benton Bridge in Big Spring while strapped to a harness for 3 hours to paint the message, “YOU CAN’T DEFEAT LOVE”.

 

In a recent Facebook Live video posted by Ripple, she states that she had previously reached out to Big Spring City Mayor Shannon Thomason for forgiveness because she had intentions of creating the piece with or without his permission. As it turned out, the Mayor was on board with the positive message. Since then, Ripple said she'd received a lot of positive feedback about the piece, but also criticism and even death threats about her artwork. Still, she stood by her message that more love is needed in the world.

 

Mayor Thomason told KBest News that he approved of the message and presented it to city staff where he received approval for the project from the City Manager. 

 

Opposition was voiced for a variety of reasons on social media. Some were upset that Benton Bridge, an unofficial landmark in Big Spring, had been grafittied with the positive message. Some were upset that the message, "YOU CAN'T DEFEAT LOVE," trivialized the "Black Lives Matter" message of local protestors in Big Spring. Others were displeased that the project lacked input from city council representatives.

 

On Saturday morning, June 6, 2020, Big Spring residents woke up to a portion of the bridge message defaced by black paint.

 

Ripple later posted a picture of her defaced artwork with the message, "I feel so broken right now. I'm sorry Big Spring."

 

Later that day, an unknown person attempted to rewrite the message. 

 

Since then, the City of Big Spring has announced that the Benton Bridge is now closed to all traffic, including pedestrians, and all violators will be charged with criminal trespassing. 

 

Mayor Thomason also released the following statement on June 6, 2020, in regards to the defacing of the bridge message: 

 

 

OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING THE DEFACING OF ART ON THE BENTON STREET BRIDGE

 

As peaceful protests became violent riots over the recent murder of George Floyd, I was approached by a local artist who was inspired to create an all-inclusive message of love for Big Spring. Her message was simply “You Can’t Defeat Love”. Greatly admiring the sentiment, I brought the idea to city staff, who shared my enthusiasm for the message. As such, the City Manager authorized the art installation on the Benton St. bridge, just as he has with other art installations in the past.

 

Every city in America is currently facing the challenge of how to better support its citizens of color who are desperate to be heard while continuing to maintain safety for all. Big Spring is no different.

 

This message was simple, straightforward, and peaceful: “You Can’t Defeat Love”. Someone chose to deface that message last evening, and that is a crime which will be investigated. Those responsible for the defacing of this artwork did so on City property and will be charged accordingly. We cannot and will not ignore crime at a time where our City has experienced a double-whammy in 2020 of COVID-19 shutdowns and plummeting oil revenues. It is my job – and that of the Council – to focus on keeping our businesses open and our citizens safe, employed and secure in their homes. While I remain sensitive and open to the needs of our diverse communities, I am tasked with representing all our citizens.

 

I support the Constitutional rights of the protestors to lawfully assemble here in Big Spring and attended the first one held downtown on Sunday night. What happened to Mr. Floyd is inexcusable and the perpetrators must face justice. In this country, that means they must be tried in a court of law and judged by a jury of their peers. The protest Sunday night was, by and large, peaceful, however a few of the protestors attempted to disrupt traffic on Gregg St. by protesting in the street. They were advised by both me and members of the Big Spring Police Department that they could not impede traffic but were welcome to protest on the sidewalk. I would also like to acknowledge the professionalism and courtesy exhibited by the police officers involved that evening.

 

When attending the protest, I asked who the organizer was. No one acknowledged being the organizer, so I offered my support of their message and the support of the city in the exercising of their Constitutional rights to those of the attendees who were willing to speak with me. I was subsequently contacted by a person who evidently was an organizer and wanted to protest on Gregg Street. Both I and city staff attempted to explain that Gregg St. is a US highway that is regulated by the Texas Department of Transportation and that a permit allowing the closing of a section of Gregg St. took time to obtain. On behalf of the City, I offered the use of Heart of the City Park as a safe alternative for the participants, which the protesters availed themselves of Monday night.

 

As Mayor of our city, it is my responsibility to be inclusive of all citizens in any message the city puts forth. We at city hall take pride in our efforts to respect the feelings of all who reside here, regardless of race, faith, or sexual orientation. To that end, what better message can be offered during these troubled times than that of love?

 

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 at 5:30PM. In addition to the regular opportunity for the public to address the Council, there is a special session scheduled for discussion by the public regarding the George Floyd incident and a resolution has been prepared for action on by the Council. As always, the public is welcome to attend the meeting to express their concerns.

 

From the Book of Iasiah: “Come now and let us reason together”. Our citizens have proven that they can come together peacefully to debate controversial issues. The Big Spring City Council exists to ensure that the citizens voices are heard and their opinions represented, without the need for violence or vandalism. I have been and remain a constant champion for transparent, open, responsive government for the City of Big Spring and welcome anyone who wishes to sit down and communicate their concerns directly.

 

Sincerely,

Shannon D. Thomason, Mayor
City of Big Spring, Texas

 

KBest News spoke with Ripple about the defacing of her message on the bridge. She stated that after she heard the news, she started to feel like, maybe, she was in over her head and had even began to doubt the message that she had tried to share. 

 

After experiencing the outpour of love and seeing that someone had risked their safety to restore the message, Ripple told KBest News that it felt like the original message, "YOU CAN'T DEFEAT LOVE", had been validated. 

 

Ripple told KBest News that she plans to attend to Tuesday night's City Council meeting on June 9, 2020 in Big Spring in order to fight for the message that she feels everyone can benefit from.

 

(Positive message painted on Benton Bridge in Big Spring, TX by Rae Ripple on June 1, 2020. Photo credit: Rae Ripple Facebook page)

 

(Benton Bridge message after it was defaced by an unknown person. Discovered early on June 6, 2020. Photo credit: Rae Ripple Facebook page)

 

(Unknown person attempts to rewrite the message on June 6, 2020. It now reads "YOU CAN'T DEFEA LOVEE". Photo credit: screenshot from a video on Rae Ripple Facebook page)

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West Texas VA resumes in-person appointments


 

BIG SPRING, TX — The West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) will begin scheduling face-to-face health care appointments starting Monday, June 8. 

 

Phase One of a three part, Moving Forward plan begins with primary care teams and specialty services booking up to 25 percent of a clinic’s capacity. This includes primary care, mental health, dental, ophthalmology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics, dietary, audiology, radiology, lab, cardiopulmonary, whole health, and several others.

 

In line with federal, state, and local guidance WTVAHCS’s first priority is the safety and well-being of Veterans and staff. During reopening, VA clinics will prioritize in-person appointments of a procedural nature and associated outpatient services, when those services cannot be conducted through tele-health options. 

 

This Moving Forward plan will continue in two-week increments, increasing the number of in-person appointments by 25 percent for each two-week period, until full capacity is achieved.  As the process continues, WTVAHCS will closely monitor all aspects of the delivery of care to ensure a safe environment is maintained for Veterans, staff, and visitors. 

 

Reduced entry points remain in place so that screenings may be conducted in a safe, orderly, and respectful manner. Other precautions instituted include staggering of appointment times to reduce the number of Veterans in waiting areas, physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and frequent disinfecting. In addition, Veterans may be asked to wait in their vehicles until called by clinic staff.

 

Throughout the phased reopening approach, WTVAHCS leadership, clinicians, and staff will continually evaluate all procedures and protocols, adjusting as necessary to ensure the safe delivery of care for all Veterans.

 

Using triage protocols based on urgency of care, Veterans will be contacted by VA clinical teams to schedule appointments. For more information, call 800-472-1365 or email WTXVAPublicAffairs@va.gov

 

“Moving forward together, we will continue to provide exceptional care to our Veterans,” said Jason Cave, West Texas VA Health Care System director. “Your trust in us is paramount. Safe care is our mission and our continuing commitment to you.” 

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Incoming 7th graders participating in athletics require Pre-Participation Physical Exams and all students in athletics and marching band require medical history form.


Athletic practices and marching band activities have been approved by UIL to resume next week. Parents are reminded that students participating in those activities may need to complete a pre-participation physical examination, or PPE, and are required to complete the updated UIL medical history form prior to participation in any UIL practices, games, performances, or matches.

 

Any “yes” answer to any of questions 1-6 on the Medical History Form will require a student to receive further medical evaluation, which may include a physical exam, and receive written clearance from a physician, physician assistant, chiropractor, or nurse practitioner before any participation in UIL practices, games, performances, or matches. Only those students with “yes” answers to those questions are required to receive written clearance through further medical evaluation.

 

West Texas Orthopedics in Midland is currently offering free sports physicals beginning June 4th - August 13, 2020 by appointment only. Spots are limited and appointments can only be made for Thursdays from 1-3:45 PM for incoming 7th students - 12th grade students. 

 

The free sports physicals provide athletes with a multifaceted exam that includes vision, musculoskeletal and cardiac risk assessment screenings. This exam enables the athlete to participate in scholastic sports as required by the UIL, however, it does not replace the annual well check-up with a pediatrician. To take advantage of the opportunity and schedule a comprehensive exam with an orthopedic Nurse Practitioner, contact 432-242-1405. 

 

Be advised that students will need to bring a 2020-2021 UIL Pre-participation Physical and Medical History form with them for the appointment. Those forms can be found on the UIL website at:

https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/forms/PrePhysFormRvsd4_24_20.pdf

 

For a more local option, West Texas Injury Prevention, located at 1111 S. Scurry in Big Spring, is currently offering $25 in-office school physicals now through June 30th. After June 30th, the cost will be $45 for in-office physicals. For more information, contact them at 432-264-1920.

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Governor Abbott Provides Update On State's Response To Protest Violence, Calls For Unity And Peaceful Protests



 

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference on Tuesday in Dallas where he provided an update on Texas' response to protest violence across the state. In his remarks, the Governor called for swift justice in the case of George Floyd’s death, and discussed the ways Texas is working with local law enforcement to maintain order and uphold public safety so that peaceful protestors can continue to make their voices heard. 

 

"What happened to George Floyd was a horrific act of police brutality, and I join the millions of American who seek swift justice," said Governor Abbott. "George Floyd's death has touched every corner of our country, and people are rightfully angry. The beautiful thing about America is that every person has the right to make their voices heard and protest against injustice. However, violence and vandalism are never the answer, and they have no place in the Lone Star State. It is essential that we end the violence, vandalism, and looting that we have have seen. But restoring calm in our communities does not end with this task—our work will not end until justice, fairness, and equality become reality in every part of our state. Texas is up to this task, because Texans can overcome any challenge. We will seize this moment to bridge the divides that exist in our state so that we can keep Texas the greatest state in America." 

 

To end the violence, vandalism, and looting experienced across the state, the Governor has deployed DPS officers and Texas National Guardsmen to several cities in Texas—including 1,000 DPS officers and hundreds of Guardsmen to the Dallas-Fort Worth region. They are working alongside federal partners from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to stop the violence and protect those protesting peacefully. The Governor also noted that the state is working with four United States Attorneys in Texas to ensure that individuals coming from across state lines to hijack peaceful protests with violence will be subject to federal prosecution. 

 

The Governor was joined by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus, Major General Tracy Norris of the Texas National Guard, and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Colonel Steve McCraw. Prior to the press conference, the Governor participated in a briefing with these leaders.

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Area News: Number of multiple asymptomatic positive cases of COVID-19 in Scurry County lead to retesting for many.


Last month, KBest News reported on the sudden rash of positive cases of COVID-19 in Scurry County that made their number of confirmed cases jump from less than 5 to over 20 in a matter of days. Since then, testing was conducted for nursing home staff and residents, as well as for inmates and staff at the Scurry County Jail. Tests results recently received revealed multiple potential positives with many being asymptomatic. Scurry County Judge Dan Hicks advised in a recent press release that due to the alarming number it was decided to retest all of the positives. 

 

He stated that Scurry County was not the only place affected by these kinds of results and that there are many nursing homes throughout Texas who have also received multiple potential positives with many of them asymptomatic. According to Hicks, DSHS is looking into whether there was a possible lab error or any other possibilities as to why so many nursing homes that appeared to have no positive COVID-19 cases potentially have high numbers of positives.

 

Hicks went on to state that he and other officials did not feel comfortable adding Snyder Oaks numbers to their official count until the retesting is complete. At this time, Scurry County will show the numbers for the nursing home as pending until the retesting results are received. 

 

As of Tuesday afternoon, 06/02/2020, there had been 847 tests conducted in Scurry County, 126 test results are pending, 668 tested negative, and there have been 33 confirmed cases recorded for the county. 31 of those cases are active and 2 have recovered. 

 

 

Source: Scurry County COVID/Coronavirus Resource Page on Facebook on 06/02/2020 at https://www.facebook.com/scurrycovid/photos/a.117102903252109/144227830539616/?type=3&theater 

 

 

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9th case of COVID-19 confirmed for Howard County, 06/02/2020


Press Release
From: County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason, and Howard County Emergency Management
Re: COVID-19

 

On June 1, 2020, at approximately 5:00 PM, the City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of a positive test result for COVID-19. The patient is a 61-year-old female. This patient is currently being treated at Odessa Regional Medical Center for her illness. The patient's condition has not been released. It has been determined that this case is travel related.

 

This is the ninth confirmed case in Howard County.

 

Local officials continue to ask all members of the community to remain cautious through this time and take precautions to protect themselves and their families. We urge you to stay at home and limit any travel outside of Howard County. If you must travel, then please take proper protective measures. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, if you are sick stay home.

 

 

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THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS REDOUBLES ITS EFFORTS TO COMBAT SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN HOUSING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC


U.S. Attorney John F. Bash is asking that anyone who has witnessed or is a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of an owner, property manager, maintenance worker or any other individual who has control over housing to report that conduct to the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas will work closely with state and local partners to identify incidents of sexual harassment in housing.

 

“I am proud that the Department of Justice has prioritized the fight against sexual harassment in housing. My office will act aggressively against such violations of federal law and fundamental decency,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ability of many people to pay their rent on time and has increased the lack of home security. The Justice Department has received reports that housing providers are trying to take advantage of the crisis to sexually harass tenants. Sexual harassment in housing is illegal and the Department of Justice is prepared to investigate such allegations and pursue, where appropriate, law enforcement measures.

 

The Department of Justice's Home Sexual Harassment Initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division, in collaboration with federal prosecutors across the country. The Initiative aims to address sexual harassment by homeowners, property managers, maintenance workers, lenders, or others who control housing.

 

Since its launch in 2017, the Initiative has filed lawsuits across the country, alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing and has recovered millions of dollars in damages for victims of harassment. Justice Department investigations often reveal cases of sexual harassment that have persisted for years. Many individuals do not know that being harassed by a housing provider may be a violation of federal laws or that the Department of Justice could help.

 

Through the Civil Rights Division and Federal Prosecutors' Offices, the Department of Justice enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, skin color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that the Act prohibits. The Department encourages anyone who has been sexually harassed in the home or who knows someone who has been sexually harassed to contact the Civil Rights Division by telephone at (844) 380-6178 or by email to fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

 

Individuals who believe they have been victims of discrimination may also contact the nearest U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas by calling: San Antonio—(210) 384-7100; Austin—(512) 916-5858; El Paso—(915) 534-6884; Midland—(432) 686-4110; Del Rio—(830) 703-2025; Alpine—(432) 837-7332; or Waco—(254) 750-1580. A complaint alleging sexual harassment or housing discrimination may also be filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the HUD website (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint) or by calling (800) 669-9777.

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Peaceful Protesters march in Big Spring as they voice their disapproval of police brutality.


People across the nation were upset by the death of George Floyd, the man killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police last week. Since then, many people have gathered to protest and voice their outrage. Although some protests have resulted in looting, rioting, and destruction, several other protests have been peaceful demonstrations. 

 

Approximately 20 protestors in Big Spring gathered on the corner of MLK and Gregg St. to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and voice their disapproval of the death of Floyd. Several participants then marched north on Gregg St. to the Heart of the City Park located at 3rd and Scurry in downtown Big Spring.  The peaceful demonstration was organized by Jo Lavonne Burciaga of Big Spring. 

 

According to Burciaga, the purpose of the protest was to ensure the safety of African American men, women, and children in the future to come. She stated, that a protest today can voice a change for the laws for tomorrow. 

 

"I pray the outcome for the event will catch someone's eye whether it's here in our own hometown, our state, or across the nation! We need better laws to ensure the safety of not only our generation but to the generations to come! [In other] words, stricter guidelines for our law enforcement to ensure that there are no more deaths to follow," said Burciaga. 

 

She also hoped for better training at the academy to train law enforcement officers not to look at race, color, or ethnicity but to help instill that we are all human beings and everyone deserves to be treated equally.

 

Burciaga told KBest News that she has children of color that range in age from 6 to 14 and she fears for their future.

 

"I see the fear in my children's eyes when they hear the news! I don't want them growing up in fear of law enforcement! I'm teaching my children to communicate with law enforcement if they ever come across them! I want my children and their children to come to have a future! The way things are going right now across the nation in 10-20 years from now when they are grown adults I want to make sure they are treated equally and with safe measures as they are being taught to respect law enforcement," stated Burciaga.

 

 

 

 

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Relay for Life of Howard and Glasscock Counties event scheduled for August 2020.


Last year was the first time in years that the event had been held outside for the local organizaiton Relay for Life of Howard and Glasscock Counties. Julie Alvarez, Event Lead for the local organization, told KBest News that taking the event outdoors had mixed reviews, but there was more positive feedback than negative. 

 

This year’s event for Relay for Life of Howard and Glasscock Counties has been scheduled for Saturday, August 29, 2020 from 4 PM to 10 PM, at the baseball field at Comanche Trail Park. This year’s theme will be Superheroes. According to Alvarez, with the local organization, there is still a lot of planning that is needed for the event since they have not been able to meet with volunteers and teams since February.

 

As for fundraising, Andrea Galvan, also with the local organization, told KBest News that online fundraising through social media will definitely play a part in raising money this year for the American Cancer Society.

 

To keep up with updates with the local organization, visit the Facebook page for Relay for Life of Howard and Glasscock Counties.

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