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KBST News Archives for 2020-10

Big Spring PD Requests Public's Help with additional information on fatal bicyclist/auto accident on 10/18/2020


From Big Spring Police Department:

 

On the 18th of October 2020 at approximately 7:30 A.M., Big Spring Police Department officers were sent to the 200 block of NE 12th (south service road of Interstate 20) in reference to a major accident. Upon arrival Cynthia Martinez a Hispanic/Female 30 years of age, was found to be deceased. The preliminary investigation has indicated Martinez was travelling to work on her bicycle eastbound on the south service road of Interstate 20 when a vehicle struck her. The vehicle and driver departed the scene of the accident failing to render any aid to Martinez. State Troopers with the Department of Public Safety was notified to assist in scaling the fatality accident scene. Big Spring Police Department Detectives were notified and are investigating this criminal offense. At this time there is no further information available.

 

If you have any information available that could assist with this investigation please call Sgt. John Haynes at 432-264-2558. You can also leave a tip by calling CrimeStoppers (432)263-TIPS (8477) or by using the P3Tips.com software at https://www.p3tips.com/1277 . CrimeStoppers is offering up to $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest of the person involved in this case. Remember no caller ID is ever used and all tips are anonymous.

 

 

Chief of Police, Chad Williams

Administrative Lieutenant Brian Gordon

CID Sergeant John Haynes

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DPS Awards Highlight Exceptional Efforts


 

AUSTIN – The Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw presented two Medals of Valor, one Purple Heart, 10 Lifesaving Awards, the 2020 Top Trooper Awards and a Unit Citation to department personnelThree Director’s Awards were also presented to partner agency personnel at the PSC awards ceremony held Wednesday at the DPS Tactical Training Center in Florence.

 

“These awards remind of us what our DPS officers do on a daily basis to willingly serve and protect the people of Texas, often under extreme conditions and in dangerous situations,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Their bravery, professionalism and dedication to help their fellow Texans are a credit to this department, and we are honored to recognize them. I would also like to extend our appreciation to Trooper Javier Arana’s family for allowing us to continue honoring his legacy here at DPS through the Top Trooper program.”

The following individuals were presented either medals or awards by DPS Director McCraw and the PSC at the ceremony:

 

Cpl. Shana Clark, Texas Highway Patrol—Jasper, and Trooper Aaron Jones, Texas Highway Patrol—New Boston, each received the Javier Arana Jr. Top Trooper Award, given annually to the top female and top male competitor. The 9th annual competition was held over four days in February at the Tactical Training Center. In all, 128 Troopers were evaluated on physical conditioning and endurance, driving and firearms skills, and job knowledge in nine events. The Top Trooper competition was established in 2012, and the award was named in honor of Trooper Javier Arana Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in El Paso earlier that same year. Trooper Arana’s family helped present the awards at the ceremony.

 

Trooper Melina Justiss, Texas Highway Patrol—Midland, received the Medal of Valor, which is the highest honor and award bestowed by DPS; and Trooper Charles Pryor, Texas Highway Patrol—Midland, received a Purple Heart. On Aug. 31, 2019, as the two DPS Troopers attempted a traffic stop on a suspect vehicle, the suspect lifted a rifle and fired several shots while both vehicles were still in motion. Rounds went through the windshield of the patrol vehicle, striking Pryor in the facial area. The suspect stopped, exited his vehicle and continued firing at the Troopers. Trooper Justiss, who had also pulled over, returned fire with her service firearm, allowing Trooper Pryor to exit the vehicle and take cover. Pryor, who was hit by bullet fragments in his wrist and forearm, directed approaching motorists away from the scene. Due to Justiss returning fire, the suspect retreated to his vehicle and fled the scene. Pryor has already undergone surgeries for his injuries, and additional surgeries are expected. Before the mass shooting incident was finished, the disgruntled, terminated oilfield employee went on a shooting rampage that extended from Midland to Odessa, as the suspect drove through city streets firing at police, the public and other drivers. Seven people died and 22 were injured.

 

Trooper Justin Basso, Texas Highway Patrol—Sherman, also received the Medal of Valor related to the same mass shooting incident described above. Trooper Basso responded to the last known location of the suspect, which was a road with several businesses. Basso, along with Midland and Odessa police officers, spotted the suspect in a hospital parking lot and began a pursuit. In the process, two police officers were injured by gunfire. As the suspect traveled toward a movie theater and open field where people were exposed, Basso took the lead in the pursuit and fired at the suspect’s vehicle, which was eventually struck and disabled by a Midland officer’s patrol unit. Basso continued to engage the gunman and then assisted local law enforcement with securing the suspect, who died as a result of his injuries.

 

Major Wayne Matthews, Texas Ranger Division—received a Lifesaving Award. On Jan. 31, 2020, then-Capt. Matthews witnessed a wreck between a motorcycle and a pickup truck in Austin. Matthews immediately began evaluating the medical status of the motorcyclist who had serious injuries to both legs and was losing large amounts of blood. Matthews used his own undershirt to apply a makeshift tourniquet to the victim’s legs and an additional tourniquet from the undershirt of a nearby construction worker, all of which helped control the bleeding.

 

Trooper Matthew Strube, Texas Highway Patrol—Tyler, received a Lifesaving Award. On July 28, 2019, Trooper Strube responded to a call regarding a possible intoxicated driver and discovered a vehicle with two men in medical distress. Trooper Strube also observed a white powdery substance on one person’s lap, and due to signs of an apparent opioid overdose, he administered four milligrams of Narcan to one of the men. The Trooper’s actions restored normal breathing, pulse and consciousness to that individual. (The second man did not survive.)

 

Trooper Sean Smith, Texas Highway Patrol—Jacksonville, received a Lifesaving Award. On Oct. 26, 2019, Trooper Smith responded to a rollover crash. When he arrived, he found a woman outside of the crashed vehicle with her left arm severed above the wrist. Responding quickly, Trooper Smith applied a tourniquet to her upper arm, which immediately stopped the bleeding. Once the woman was stabilized, he kept her calm and monitored her until EMS arrived.

 

Trooper Matthew Beard, Texas Highway Patrol—Beeville, received a Lifesaving Award. On Oct. 4, 2019, Trooper Beard responded to assist local law enforcement with a man who was bleeding profusely from an apparent self-inflicted cut on his arm. Beard applied a tourniquet near the bicep, which stopped the bleeding. Trooper Beard then elevated the person’s arm and kept him engaged in conversation and conscious until EMS arrived on the scene.

 

Sgt. Phillip Davis, Texas Highway Patrol—Palestine, and Trooper Brent Taylor, Texas Highway Patrol—Palestine, both received Lifesaving Awards. On May 5, 2019, they arrived on the scene of a motorcycle crash involving two people who had been thrown from the motorcycle. One man had head trauma, multiple open fractures on both lower legs and was bleeding badly. Sgt. Davis applied a tourniquet to one of the man’s legs, and Trooper Taylor used his tourniquet on the victim’s other leg. The Troopers also kept the man calm until EMS arrived.

 

Lt. Robert Messenger Jr. and Sgt. Kolton Kendall, Aircraft Operations Division—San Antonio, and Sgt. Aaron Frazier, Texas Highway Patrol—Port Lavaca, all received Lifesaving Awards. On Sept. 20, 2019, during Tropical Storm Imelda, dispatchers received a 911 call from a man who was stuck inside his vehicle in rising flood waters; his exact location was unknown. A DPS helicopter and Jefferson County Deputies responded, but the deputies were unable to go any farther due to flooded roadways. The DPS aircrew continued searching and located the vehicle. The man was trapped inside the vehicle, up to his neck in water. With Lt. Messenger piloting the chopper, Sgt. Frazier was lowered to the vehicle and secured the man in the rescue basket. Sgt. Kendall then hoisted Frazier and the man up to the helicopter, and he was transported to a safe location.

 

Trooper James Shoemaker, Texas Highway Patrol—McKinney, received a Lifesaving Award, and Wesley Davis, Anna Police Department; Trent Marker, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department; and Cane Shumaker, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, all received Director’s Awards. On Nov. 22, 2019, Trooper Shoemaker witnessed a single-vehicle crash in the city of Anna and found an unresponsive man, woman and infant in the vehicle, which then burst into flames. The Trooper removed the child from the car seat and took him back to his patrol unit. Shoemaker then returned to the vehicle and removed the woman, but the man was still pinned in the burning vehicle. Game Wardens Marker and Shumaker, along with Officer Davis, responded to the scene and began assisting. As Trooper Shoemaker was using his fire extinguisher to slow the flames, Marker, Shumaker and Davis used an additional extinguisher and extricated the driver as flames entered the passenger compartment. Trooper Shoemaker then returned to his patrol vehicle, and as he held the infant, the baby began crying and breathing on his own.

 

DPS Criminal Investigations Division Special Agents in Denton received a Unit Citation. DPS Special Agents, working with law enforcement partner agencies, have investigated a variety of criminal activity in the Denton area and surrounding counties since 2010, systematically dismantling drug trafficking organizations. Their work resulted in 115 indictments and 112 arrests, along with the seizure of 48 weapons, 48 vehicles, more than $2.5 million in cash, $945,000 in property and approximately 260 pounds of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. DPS personnel recognized as part of the Unit Citation include: Lt. Carlon Stapleton, and Special Agents Craig Bickers, Ross KallenbergMargarito Lopez, Armando Lopez, Scott Meeks, Jason West and Chad Poling.

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COVID-19 Update for the Week of October 12 , 2020


Press Release – October 16th, 2020
From: Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman, Mayor Shannon Thomason, and Howard County Emergency Management

 

Re: COVID-19 Update for the Week of October 12th, 2020

 

To date, Howard County and Big Spring have had a total of 1,591 positive cases of COVID-19. We currently have 137 active cases. We have had 1,375 patients recover from COVID-19. There are 61 positive cases pending follow up investigation by DSHS.

 

Unfortunately, we had two COVID-19 related fatalities this week, a 52-year-old male and a 47-year-old male. These are the 17th and 18th COVID-19 related deaths in our community. County and City officials extend our deepest condolences to their family members. We ask that you keep these families in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.


Big Spring and Howard County’s COVID-19 statistics continue to improve; however, County and City officials still urge community members to take every precaution to protect yourself and your family members. Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask while in public areas. These are all things you can do to help prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming ill from any respiratory illness including COVID-19.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

 

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SMMC holds "Pink For A Purpose" for Breast Cancer Awareness


BIG SPRING, TX - The staff at Scenic Mountain Medical Center held a PINK OUT on Friday where guest speaker Nolan Dominguez expressed his appreciation for those that have fought or are still fighting breast cancer. 

 

When asked why he's so passionate about Breast Cancer Awareness, Dominguez stated, "It's really something that comes from the heart. For me, it's first hand. My mother was diagnosed in 2006 and passed away in 2008."

 

"This is really meaningful and I just wanted to project some kind of positivity about it," he said of the event. 

 

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason made a proclamation that October 16, 2020 will be Pink For A Purpose Day in the City of Big Spring. 

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Big Spring City Council Highlights, 10/13/2020 - Part 1


Big Spring City Council members met in a regular session on Tuesday night, and here are some of the highlights. 

 

Mayor Shannon Thomason read a proclamation declaring October 24, 2020, as World Polio Day. It was noted that Councilwoman Gloria McDonald, District 4, had suffered from polio as a child, and she was invited to sign beneath the Mayor’s signature on the proclamation.

 

Large Item Pickup for District 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Items must be scheduled for pickup in advance by calling 432-264-2501. The deadline to schedule items for pick up is Monday, October 19th. 

 

Sandy Smith was nominated by councilmembers as their nominee to fill a vacancy on the Howard County Joint Tax Appraisal District Board of Directors for the 2020-21 term.

 

The first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 34 of the Big Spring Code entitled “Municipal Court”  was approved. This amendment adds a new section entitled “Attorneys Representing State in Criminal Prosecutions” authorizing the City Council to appoint a Deputy Prosecutor and the Municipal Judge to appoint an Attorney Pro Tem in cases in which the City Attorney has conflict. The ordinance passed with a 5-2 vote, with Thomason and Doug Hartman, District 2, voting against.

 

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Main Street Beautification Project permitted to seek donations


Representatives from local businesses on Main Street were granted permission from the Big Spring Councilmembers on Tuesday night to seek donations for the upgrades to Main Street.  

 

According to Lori Henry and Michelle Hamlin, Co-Chairs for the Main Street Beautification Project, the mission of their project is to beautify Main Street from 3rd St. to 1st St. to provide a cleaner, safer shopping and entertainment experience for both residents and visitors, with a long-term vision to be a like a Fredricksburg experience. They also advised council members that in addition to beautification, the renovations will greatly reduce the ongoing expense for the City for plant maintenance and trash cleanup, as well as reduced utility expense for watering.

 

Funds raised will cover the following projects:

  1. Artificial Turf in planters without trees

  2. Wrapping tree trunks with LED lights

  3. Purchase planter pots for turf areas

  4. Flags for each small business

Their goal is to have the projects completed by November 15, 2020. 

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Inmate Death at FCI Big Spring


WASHINGTON, D.C.: On Friday, September 18, 2020, inmate Robert Pierce tested positive for COVID-19 at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Big Spring in Big Spring, Texas, and was immediately placed in medical isolation. On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Mr. Pierce was evaluated by institution medical staff for shortness of breath. He was transported to a local hospital for further treatment and evaluation. On Wednesday, September 30, 2020, his condition worsened and he was placed on a ventilator. On Friday, October 9, 2020, Mr. Pierce, who had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, which the CDC lists as risk factors for developing more severe COVID-19 disease, was pronounced deceased by hospital staff.

 

Mr. Pierce was a 52-year-old male who was sentenced in the Western District of Washington to a 180-month sentence for Obscene Matter Transport and Receipt of Visual Depictions Of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct. He had been in custody at FCI Big Spring since April 23, 2019.

 

FCI Big Spring is a Low-security facility that currently houses 945 male offenders.

 

The Bureau will continue to provide daily updates and information on actions related to COVID19 at www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

 

Additional information about the Federal Bureau of Prisons can be found at www.bop.gov.

 

 

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Area News: GREGG N. SOFER IS SWORN IN AS U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS


Gregg N. Sofer is officially the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. He was sworn in by Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia this morning at the federal courthouse in San Antonio.


Attorney General William P. Barr appointed Mr. Sofer to the position effective October 10, 2020.

 

“The Western District of Texas is one of the largest, busiest, and most diverse districts in the United States. Every day, the women and men of the U.S. Attorney’s Office diligently work to protect our communities, prosecute the criminals who prey upon the weak and vulnerable, defend the interests of the United States, and safeguard the rights of the people who live in the 68 counties we serve. In my 29 years of public service, I have worked to seek justice for crime victims and bring accountability to those who place their interests over those of society. It is an honor and a privilege to continue this mission alongside the Assistant U.S. Attorneys, support personnel, law enforcement officers, judges, and court staff that make this district so great,” said U.S. Attorney Sofer.


As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Sofer is the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Western District of Texas. He is responsible for prosecuting violations of federal law and representing the federal government in civil litigation where the United States is a party.


The Western District of Texas spans approximately 93,000 square miles, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office employs more than 300 people. The headquarters are in San Antonio with staffed offices in Austin, El Paso, Midland, Del Rio, Waco, and Alpine.


Prior to his appointment, Mr. Sofer served as Counselor to the Attorney General of the United States where he handled criminal and national security matters as well as crisis response. Before going to Main Justice, he served for 12 years in the Austin Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney and accomplished litigator, he handled national security, fraud, violent crime, and corruption cases, among others. His last trial in Austin was a RICO prosecution that resulted in a life sentence without parole for a man who attempted to assassinate a state court judge as she sat in her car with her family. Some of Mr. Sofer’s other notable prosecutions include that of an individual who was planning to fight for ISIS overseas; a defendant who built a bomb intending to kill soldiers at Ft. Hood; the former Jarrell Police Chief who was involved in a bribery scheme where he fraudulently provided illegal aliens with immigration benefits; and a money laundering conspiracy involving the owner of several Austin nightclubs. In 2018, Mr. Sofer was promoted to Chief of the Criminal Division. In that role, he was responsible for the supervision of over 120 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and all aspects of the district’s criminal practice.

 

From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Sofer was a trial attorney in the National Security Division at Main Justice where he led the investigation and prosecution of international terrorism cases. He also served as the Director of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism and Director of the National Gang Targeting Enforcement and Coordination Center.


Mr. Sofer started his legal career in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Among a wide variety of cases, he prosecuted violent gang, murder and firearms trafficking cases for over 11 years, distinguishing himself as a skilled trial lawyer, indefatigable investigator, and fierce advocate for justice. Mr. Sofer earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law and his B.A. from Rutgers University.

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PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLIST CRASHES IN TEXAS REMAIN A HUGE CONCERN


New safety campaign urges drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to follow rules of the road

 

October 9, 2020

 

AUSTIN – Fatalities from crashes involving pedestrians are on the rise in Texas and now account for nearly one in five of all of the state’s traffic deaths. Last year, 668 people died in pedestrian-related crashes in Texas, up by 5% from 2018, and more than 1,300 were seriously injured. Crashes involving bicyclists in 2019 also claimed the lives of 68 people and seriously injured 313. These numbers follow an alarming trend that has seen pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities increase over the last five years.

 

Safety officials attribute a primary cause of the increase to people’s widespread failure to follow state laws designed to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. To that end, TxDOT is kicking off a new public awareness campaign this month that urges all Texans to drive smart, walk smart and bike smart .

 

“Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot, or riding a bicycle , we’re reminding Texans to make traffic safety their number one concern when they’re out and about,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of looking after ourselves and others in our communities, and we’re asking the public to apply that same responsibility to safely sharing the road and obeying traffic laws.”

 

Almost half of all pedestrians and cyclists who died last year on Texas streets and highways were between the ages of 21 and 49. Most were living in urban areas, and the majority—73% of the pedestrians and 90% of the cyclists --- were male.

 

No matter how Texans choose to travel, TxDOT wants them to know and follow state laws for safe driving, walking and biking. Drivers should take specific steps to protect pedestrians and bicyclists who are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when involved in a crash with a motor vehicle. State laws mandate stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, yielding the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists when turning, and passing cyclists at a safe distance and giving them room to ride.

 

Pedestrians should cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks, obey all traffic and crosswalk signals, and always use sidewalks when available. If there isn’t a sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the street or road, facing oncoming traffic.

 

Like drivers, bicyclists are required to obey all traffic signs and signals, including stopping at red lights and stop signs. State laws also dictate that those who ride bicycles must use hand signals when turning or stopping, ride with traffic, use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb, and when riding at night, make sure their bikes have a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.

 

More than 3,000 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred last year in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, resulting in 287 fatalities. These cities also saw more than 1,100 bicycle crashes that resulted in 30 deaths and 113 serious injuries. In 2019, there were 33 traffic crashes involving  pedestrians, resulting in 5 fatalities and 7 serious injuries and 17 traffic crashes involving bicyclists, resulting in no fatalities and 3 serious injuries in the Abilene District.

 

“Be Safe. Drive Smart.” and TxDOT’s pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative are key components of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.

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Forsan ISD eliminates online learning option.


After closely monitoring the attendance and academic progress of their online learners for the last 10 weeks, Forsan ISD board of trustees made the decision to eliminate the option for online learning, including “at-home” learning platforms.

 

In general, they found that their online student learners had shown higher rates of absenteeism and questionable grades than their peers attending school face to face. It was noted that in many cases they were not able to track the progress of students in a meaningful way and were concerned about whether needed academic progress was taking place. 

 

Students may begin returning to the at-school learning environment immediately but beginning Monday, October 19, 2020, students will need to choose from one of the following options to comply with state compulsory attendance education laws:

  1. Go to school for On Campus, Face to Face instruction

  2. Withdraw to Home School

  3. Enroll in Private School

  4. Request transfer to another school district that offers remote, online learning

 

Forsan ISD stated that they encouraged all students to choose to return to school, but understood that there are other options. 

 

Below is the letter sent to parents earlier this week from Forsan ISD:

(right click on photos and choose "Open in new tab" to enlarge photos)

 

 

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Howard County Commissioners Court Highlights, 10/12/2020


During Monday’s meeting of the Howard County Commissioners Court, the renewal of the cooperative agreement between Howard County and Midland College concerning the Breath Alcohol Testing program was approved. County Choice Silver Rates for 2021 were noted to have remained the same, and they were approved by Commissioners.

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Howard County Opts-In to Re-Open Bars:


Last week, Governor Gregg Abbott advised that bars and similar establishments are allowed to re-open up to 50% capacity beginning tomorrow, Oct. 14, 2020, in conjunction with county officials. [1]

 

The following is a press release sent by Kathryn G. Wiseman, Howard County Judge on Oct. 9, 2020:

 

Howard County Opts-In to Re-Open Bars:

 

Howard County has opted in as Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order today for the re-opening of bars and similar establishments in Texas beginning October 14, 2020. 

 

The following protocols must be enforced:

 

- Maximum of 50% capacity indoors (Outdoor establishments excluded)

 

- No Service after 11:00pm

 

- Establishments that serve alcohol but generate 51% of their revenue from food sales may serve and remain open until midnight.

 

- This order remains in effect unless the COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the Permian Basin "Trauma Area J" exceeds 15% for 7 consecutive days. Currently, the rate is 8.9%.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman continues to encourage the public to wear masks, practice social distancing, and help keep Howard County safe.

 

 

Footnotes:

1 - "Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order to Reopen Bars in Qualifying Counties", published on 10/07/2020, 

https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/533887 

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BSISD approves changes to district's Virtual Learning Program


During last night’s special meeting of the Big Spring ISD Board of Trustees, board members approved a change in the district’s Virtual Learning Program. 

 

The virtual option will be eliminated for the students who are currently failing academically or those who have excessive absences that warrant violation of the 90 percent TEA mandated attendance rule. Parents who have students impacted by this decision will have the following options for their student: return to school for on-campus face-to-face  instruction, withdraw to homeschool, attend a private school, or request a transfer to a school district that offers a remote learning option.

 

Students who are doing well academically, logging-in, and meeting TEA attendance guidelines will still be able to continue virtual learning. 

 

The decision came after board members were advised last week that over 60 percent of remote learning students, K-12, had failed at least one class during the first 6-weeks. 

 

The following is a letter from BSISD Superintendent Jay McWilliams to Parents and Guardians of BSISD Students, dated for 10/12/2020:

 

 

 

To the Parents and Guardians of Big Spring ISD Students: 

 

Our administration leadership team has been reviewing remote learning students and looking at their academic performance, attendance data, and speaking with campus principals and teachers. Discussions have revealed that the concept of remote learning has not been successful for the majority of our students, and the added burden of a full scale instructional system on our teachers as also been extremely difficult to sustain. At the end of the first grading cycle over 60% of our remote learners are failing one or more classes. We also have many of our remote learners that are not meeting the TEA mandated 90% attendance rule, even after repeated phone calls from our campus leaders. We believe it is time for those students who are failing academically or who have excessive absences to return to school for face to face instruction. We are accountable for the educational growth of all students, and we truly believe there is no substitute for an in-person, on campus learning experience. Those remote learning students who have been successful in their academics and attendance will be allowed to continue to learn virtually. Our teachers and staff at Big Spring ISD have worked extremely hard to ensure that our students have had all the tools necessary to succeed in their learning, both virtually and face to face. 

 

On Monday, October 12, 2020, the Big Spring ISD Board of Trustees approved eliminating the option for remote online learning for those students who are currently failing academically, or who have excessive absences. (Under TEA attendance mandates) Our staff and principals will be reaching out to those students who need to return to campus for in-person learning. Beginning Monday, October 19, 2020, students will need to choose from the following options to comply with state compulsory attendance education laws: 

> Come to school for on campus, face-to-face instruction 

> Withdraw to homeschool

> Enroll in a private school

> Request a transfer to another school district that offers remote, online learning 

 

We understand that student health during these times remains a concern for many parents, which is why Big Spring ISD will continue to follow proper health protocols to provide a safe learning space for our face-to-face students. 

 

Students will be allowed to learn remotely only if they fall into the following categories: 

> Students who are being successful academically and are meeting attendance guidelines

> Students not in face to face attendance due to school closure

> Students with a documented medical COVID-19 diagnosis 

>Students determined to be a COVID-19 close contact and asked to quarantine

> Students with a medical diagnosis of Flu, Strep, etc., that would create absences for 3 or more days

 

Our administrators, teachers, and staff look forward to the opportunity to work with those students that will be returning to the classroom for in-person, face-to-face instruction. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (432) 264-3600 or email me at jmcwilliams@bsisd.esc 18.net. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Jay McWilliams

Superintendent

Big Spring ISD 

 

 

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Howard College Hosts PolitiTaco Tuesdays


BIG SPRING – The Anthony Hunt Library on the campus of Howard College has teamed up with Big Spring High School and Howard County libraries to host “PolitiTaco Tuesday” to help prepare voters for the upcoming election.

 

The come and go events will be held from 5:30-6:30 PM each Tuesday until Election Day on November 3, 2020. Attendees who are not Howard College students can obtain a meal voucher from the library that is valid for a free taco meal in the cafeteria until 7pm. The events are open for anyone to attend but are catered to first time voters who may need more guidance on the election process.

 

All attendees are required to sign in, wear a mask, and be screened with a hands-free temperature check as they enter the library. Howard College students can attend the event virtually if they prefer.

            

Everyone who signs in will automatically be entered to win a drawing for one of three taco night party packages, one of which includes a television.  

 

October 13, 2020: Who/What’s on the Ballot? 

 

Discussion about what all is on the ballot. There will also be a few political candidates who will be in attendance for a non-partisan meet-and-greet. The candidates currently scheduled include Eddilisa Saldivar (County Commissioner candidate), Shiloh Salazar (County Commissioner candidate), Jimmie Long (County Commissioner Candidate), Milton Perkins (County Commissioner Candidate), Cody Hughes (City Council Candidate), and Nick Hilario Ornelas (City Council Candidate). Other candidates may join as well.

 

October 20, 2020: Question & Answer Session: Do you still having voting questions? Grab some tacos while we try to answer those questions and get you ready for election day!

 

October 27, 2020: Voting Walk-Through: Come walk-through the voting process to see what you can expect to happen on voting day. Howard County Election Administrator, Jodi Duck, has provided a video walk-through of the voting booths that will be used in Howard County.

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Big Spring City Council meetings on Tuesday, 10/13/2020.


Big Spring City Council will meet for a workshop session at 10 am this morning.

 

Councilmembers will discuss items such as a bid award to Zoll Medical Corporation for EMS equipment, possible action to permit Main Street businesses to seek donations, and discussion on the Citizens Advisory Board, along with other items. 

 

Since council members will not take action on any of the items during the work session, the public will not be allowed to make comments. 

 

It should be noted that public comments will be allowed at this evening’s regular session of the Big Spring City Council that will begin at 5:30 PM at the Council Chambers. 

 

These meetings can be viewed on the KBest Media Facebook page, local Channel 17 on Suddenlink, or the Media Center on mybigspring.com.

 

Agenda for Workshop Session:

https://www.mybigspring.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10132020-417

 

Agenda for Regular Meeting:

mybigspring.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10132020-418

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Early Voting begins today at 8 AM, 10/13/2020.


Early Voting begins today! Here's some need to know information before you head out to the polls:

 

Howard County voters can cast their votes on the 3rd floor of the Howard County Courthouse, located at 300 S. Main in Big Spring. Early voting will be available weekdays, 8 am - 5 pm, beginning today through Oct. 28th. October 29th and 30th, early voting will be available 7 am - 7 pm.

 

Dates and times:

Oct 13-16, 2020  - 8 AM -5 PM

Oct 19-23, 2020 - 8 AM -5 PM

Oct 26-28, 2020 - 8 AM -5 PM

Oct 29-30, 2020 -  7 AM -7 PM

 

Special Parking for early voting will be marked on the west and north sides of the courthouse.

 

Hand delivery of Mail Ballots are being accepted at this time at the Howard County Election Office on 1st floor or at Curbside - located on the North side of the building in marked locations. Be advised that to drop off mail ballots, the voter must present their own ballot and must have an ID.

 

Be advised if you are unable to physically enter the building without assistance or the likelihood of causing injury you may vote curbside, and to do so you will need to present your ID.

 

Face masks are not required but encouraged. The Howard County Elections office advises that machines will be cleaned between each voter, and other necessary precautions will be taken to ensure a healthy environment.

 

If you need assistance please contact the Howard County Election office at 432-264-2273.

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COVID-19 Update for the Week of October 5 , 2020


Press Release – October 9th, 2020

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

 

Re: COVID-19 Update for the Week of October 5 , 2020

 

In the last three weeks, we have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in Howard County and Big Spring. A significant number of these cases were identified using the antigen test. Guidelines for Texas, and the United States as a whole, require the reporting of “confirmed cases,” which are defined as COVID-19 cases found using a PCR test. To date, Howard County and Big Spring Emergency Management have been reporting COVID-19 cases to our citizens in the same manner i.e. positive cases confirmed by PCR testing.

 

COVID-19 and the virus that causes it are detected by both antigen and PCR testing. The risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming ill are the same, regardless of which lab test is used for diagnosis. Out of an abundance of caution, local officials are of the opinion that whether a COVID-19 case is “confirmed” or “probable”, the patient is considered positive for COVID-19 until proven otherwise. For this reason, local officials have always weighed results from both types of COVID-19 testing when determining our public health response. To increase transparency and provide a better understanding of why we implement public health interventions, we will begin reporting both PCR and antigen testing numbers in the weekly update.

 

To date, Howard County and Big Spring have had a total of 1,501 positive COVID-19 cases. We currently have 212 active cases. Of those, 57 are inmates at the FCI and GEO prisons. We have had 1,223 patients recover from COVID-19. There are 50 positive cases pending follow up investigation by DSHS.

 

Unfortunately, we had one COVID-19 related fatality this week, a 49-year-old female. This is the 16th COVID- 19 related death in our community. County and City officials are saddened by this news and we extend our deepest condolences to her family members. We ask that you keep her family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

 

Big Spring and Howard County’s COVID-19 statistics continue to improve; however, County and City officials still urge community members to take every precaution to protect yourself and your family members. Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask while in public areas. These are all things you can do to help prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming ill from any respiratory illness including COVID-19.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

 

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2020 Census Scam Awareness


From the City of Big Spring, 10/09/2020:

 

Date: October 9, 2020
To: MEDIA OUTLETS
From: Hayley Herrera, Community Services Director


Subject: 2020 Census Scam Awareness


The City of Big Spring has been notified that some citizens have received spam calls regarding the 2020 Census. Please see the following information from the US Census Bureau:


Census workers will occasionally follow up with households over the phone to ask questions
about their responses to the 2020 Census or other household surveys. The Census Bureau’s goal is to ensure that no person is left out of the census or counted in more than one place. The Census Bureau reviews responses in order to ensure that we have a complete and accurate count. By law, all responses to the 2020 Census are kept confidential. The 2020 Census Bureau caller will only review the responses that you previously provided. They will not ask about your financial information nor will they ever ask for your Social Security number. If you receive a call and are asked about this information, DO NOT provide it and report the call to the Census Bureau.

 

Additionally, the Census Bureau may reach out to you in other ways during the current COVID-19 pandemic, including email.

 

To report suspected fraud—or, if you think you received a call from the Census Bureau, but want to confirm the legitimacy of it—call 844-809-7717 (English) or 844-809-7718 (Spanish) to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. Their business hours are 7:00 am to 12:00 am, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

 

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Mitchell's Furniture and Mattress City in Big Spring celebrates ribbon cutting for their grand opening and one-year aniversary.


Community members, well wishers, and members of the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grand opening of Mitchell’s Furniture and Mattress City, located at 2309 Scurry St. in Big Spring.

 

Mark Mitchell, Owner, told KBest News that in addition to their ribbon cutting and grand opening, it was also their one-year anniversary. He stated that their celebrations had previously been pushed back due to COVID-19.

 

When asked how he felt about being a chamber member, Mitchell advised that the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce has been fantastic and that they've gone above and beyond to help bring shoppers into the store.


Mitchell’s Furniture and Mattress City in Big Spring invite the public to stop in and check out their sale this weekend. For more information visit their website http://www.mitchellsfurniture.com/  or check out their Facebook page for Mitchell’s Furniture and Mattress City of Big Spring.

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BSISD considers changes in virtual learning program after a large percentage of virtual students fail classes in first six-weeks.


During yesterday’s meeting of the Big Spring ISD Board of Trustees, board members were made aware that remote learning for a majority of BSISD students has shown to be ineffective.

 

According to Superintendent Jay McWilliams, 68 percent of remote learners at the high school failed at least one class, with many failing two classes. At the junior high, 85 percent of virtual students had failed one or more classes. The highest rate of failures for the first 6 weeks was seen in 6th grade virtual learners. Out of 84 kids in virtual learning, 79 failed the class - mainly, because they didn’t log on to do the work.

 

On Monday, board members will have a special meeting to look at the possibility of discontinuing remote learning and returning to in-person learning. 

 

McWilliams told KBest News that there are many kids who flourish with online learning, but a large percentage are not doing well.

 

"As a district, we have to look at - because those are our kids - should we change it? Take it away completely, or should we just modify? In other words, have criteria where you have to be passing everything at the end of the three weeks to remain in there; and if you're not you lose that option of staying virtual and you will either have to come back to Big Spring ISD, homeschool, or transfer to a school that will take you," said McWilliams.

 

Nothing has been decided as of yet, but a decision is likely to be made at the BSISD Board of Trustees Special Meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

 

"We've done a lot of research on districts in the area that have already made that decision; and we're looking at it too because of the wear and tear it has put on our teachers doing double duty," stated McWilliams.

 

He went on to say that they are just trying to do what’s in the best interest of the students in the district. 

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Citizens urged to complete 2020 Census by October 31, 2020


From the City of Big Spring, 10/07/2020:

 

Subject: 2020 Census


The last day to respond to the 2020 Census is October 31st. As of right now Howard
County’s response rate is 52.3% compared to a 60.6% response rate in the 2010 Census.
Texas currently has a response rate of 62.5%.


We are asking all citizens that have not filled out their Census to please do so before
October 31st.

 

Proper Census information has a huge impact on our community. The results of the 2020
Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will flow
into our community for the next decade.

 

Go to my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 to respond today!

 

(To enlarge photo, right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

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Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order To Open Bars In Qualifying Counties


 

AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order to open bars and similar establishments at up to 50% capacity in conjunction with county officials. In hospital regions with low COVID-19 hospitalizations, County Judges will be able to opt their county into opening bars beginning October 14th, provided they assist in enforcing health protocols. The Governor's Executive Order also increases the occupancy levels for all business establishments other than bars to 75%.  

 

"Even as more businesses have opened and students return to school, Texans have shown we can contain the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Abbott. "Thanks to Texans following the best health practices, our state is prepared for additional openings, including bars. Working with industry leaders and our team of medical experts, the State of Texas has now developed strategies to safely open bars under certain health protocols. To ensure bars open safely, these openings will be done in conjunction with county officials. County Judges will be able to opt their county into opening bars so long as they assist in enforcing the health protocols. Opening bars does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat, and most Texans are still susceptible to the virus. As bars and similar businesses begin to open, we all must remain vigilant and show personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

 

For Trauma Service Areas (TSAs) where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity, a County Judge may authorize the opening of bars and similar establishments at 50% occupancy. If a County Judge authorizes the opening of these establishments, certain protocols must be followed. As recommended by trade associations representing bars, dance floors at bars and similar establishments must remain closed. Consistent with protocols for restaurants, all patrons must be seated while eating or drinking (with limited exceptions for sampling at breweries, distilleries, and wineries), and must wear masks when they are not seated at a table. Additionally, tables must be limited to six individuals or less and all establishments must follow specific curfew guidelines. 

 

Beginning Wednesday, October 14, all counties where COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than 15% of hospital capacity can open all businesses other than bars to 75% capacity. 

 

Additionally, the Governor released a web video with his Executive Order, encouraging Texans to continue following best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. The video can be viewed on YouTube.

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Proposition A - authorizing the creation of Howard County Assistance District - has potential to lower property taxes over time.


Last night, Howard County Commissioners held a town hall meeting / special meeting to discuss “Proposition A”, which is the possible authorization to create the Howard County Assistance District which would implement a two percent increase in sales tax on all goods sold outside of the unincorporated areas of the county.

 

Precinct 3 Commissioner Jimmie Long encouraged eligible voters - living outside of the city limits of Big Spring, Coahoma, and Forsan - to approve “Proposition A” because over time the revenue produced by it would be used to help offset property taxes, and possibly lower them. It is estimated that within one year the Howard County Assistance District could bring in approximately $2.2 million. Commissioner Long advised that, normally, it would take 9 and half years to raise that kind of money for the county.

 

The funds raised from the sales tax increase can be used for road construction, law enforcement in the county area, volunteer fire department, support the Howard County Library, or any other service that helps improve the quality of life in Howard County. 

 

For more information, check out the live stream from last night on our KBest Media Facebook page.

 

 

(Photo: "Proposition A" as listed on this year's ballot for eligible voters.)

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Park Area Temporary Closure in Big Spring on 10/10/2020


From the City of Big Spring:

 

The City of Big Spring will have a Cross Country Meet for Big Spring High School on Saturday, October 10, 2020 beginning at 8 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. In order to help facilitate a safe running area for all of the youth attending & participating in this event we will temporarily close some of the gates and barricade access to some areas of the Comanche Trail Park during the event. Whipkey Road to access DRCC and Golf Course Road to access the Golf Course will remain open. We apologize for any inconvenience. If you travel in this area, please be aware and alert for participants moving in the area!!

 

Thank you.

 

City of Big Spring

 

 

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BSHS Speech and Debate program helps students to find their voice.


Alisa Gonzales, a junior at Big Spring High School, has been in the Speech and Debate program at BSHS since she was a sophomore. Gonzales told KBest News that she initially had interest in the speech aspect of the program with performance pieces but has since transitioned into political topics. 

 

"It’s a really good program. I really do love it, and I think it’s taught not only me but a lot of people about how the world works and finding one's voice," said Gonzales.

 

Gonzales went on to say that Speech and Debate helps a lot of people to look at politics by showing the political side of many forms of government and many forms of humanity that they wouldn't normaly see if they weren't in Speech and Debate. 

 

On Tuesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump participated in a political debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The debate has been described as chaotic, with frequent interruptions by the candidates. 

 

When asked what her thoughts were on the presidential debate, Gonzales stated, "If people my age in the organization that I'm in were to have the same mannerisms as the two candidates, it would not have flown, and it would not have ended well for both teams. Also, I think it could have been a lot more professional on both sides." 

 

The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 15, 2020 at 8 PM. The vice presidential debate will be held tomorrow, Oct. 7, 2020, at 8 PM and will be broadcasted live on The Mighty 1490 AM and the new FM 103.9.

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Local residents rally to organize Big Spring Christmas Parade.


The Big Spring Herald’s annual Christmas parade may have been cancelled for this year, but local residents are coming together to ensure that the tradition continues. 

 

Local resident Bob Stapp told KBest News that the Herald has done a great job in the past with their Christmas parades, but he was saddened to learn that they wouldn’t be able to hold one this year. He told KBest News that he then decided to obtain the parade permit himself. 

 

“I want our children to have to have some sense of a normal 2020, and I decided that I was gonna pull the permit and continue to have the parade; and we’re all real excited that the kids are gonna get to have it," said Stapp.

 

Although Stapp is a local business owner, he made it very clear that it is not his businesses that is making the event possible; it's the combined efforts of local residents. In fact, the first parade committee meeting was held yesterday evening.

 

This year’s Christmas parade is scheduled for December 5, 2020 at 5:30 PM, entry judging begins at 4:30 PM. This year’s theme will be: “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”. To enter the parade, participants will be required to donate a toy for the Salvation Army. Registration forms and toys can be submitted to the Big Spring Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 115 E. 3rd in Big Spring. 

 

More information in the parade can be found on the Facebook group Big Spring Christmas Parade 2020.

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Town Hall Meeting / Special Meeting answers questions on "Proposition A" - Authorization of the creation of the Howard County Assistance District, 10/06/2020


Early voting begins next Tuesday, October 13, 2020, and Howard County Commissioners are working to get information out to the public about the possible creation of a county assistance district for Howard County. This will be listed as “Proposition A” on the upcoming election ballot for eligible voters who reside outside of the city limits of Big Spring, Coahoma, or Forsan.

 

If approved, the Howard County Assistance District  would implement a two percent sales tax increase in the unincorporated areas of the county (outside the city limits of Forsan, Big Spring and Coahoma). This increase will change the 6.25% sales tax to 8.25%, and is expected to generate income for the district to fund road repairs and law enforcement and other things in the district area. Over time, it has potential to help offset property taxes.

 

Howard County Commissioners will hold a Town Hall Meeting / Special Meeting tonight, 10/06/2020, at 6 PM. They’ll meet on the third floor of the Howard County Courthouse, 300 S. Main, in Big Spring. A live stream of tonight’s information session can be found on our KBest Media Facebook page.

 

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Area News: ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM P. BARR ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF GREGG N. SOFER AS THE U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS


WASHINGTON – Attorney General William P. Barr announced today the appointment of Gregg N. Sofer as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 546, effective Oct. 10, 2020.

 

As U.S. Attorney, Sofer will be the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Western District of Texas.  He will be in charge of one of the largest U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the United States, overseeing approximately 300 total staff, including 150 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and covering 93,000 square miles in 68 counties, with divisional offices in Alpine, Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, San Antonio, and Waco.  The Western District of Texas regularly prosecutes more criminal cases than any other district in the United States and serves approximately 6.5 million Texans.

 

“I am pleased to appoint Gregg N. Sofer as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “He has served as an exceptional prosecutor for more than 29 years, devoting himself to the pursuit of justice and the protection of the citizens of this country.  His leadership, integrity, and experience will greatly benefit the people of the Western District.” 

 

“I am thrilled to be able to serve the people of my home state as the United States Attorney.  I look forward to working with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners, for whom I have the utmost respect, as we continue to protect our communities and ensure that the rights of all of our citizens are safeguarded,” said Gregg N. Sofer.  “I thank John F. Bash for his incredible leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the last three years.  John is one of the finest lawyers I have ever met and I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his career.”  

 

Prior to his appointment, Sofer served as Counselor to the Attorney General of the United States, where he handled criminal and national security matters, as well as crisis response.  Before coming to Main Justice, Sofer served for 12 years in the in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.  As an Assistant U.S. Attorney and accomplished litigator, he handled national security, fraud, violent crime, and corruption cases, among others.  In 2018, Sofer was promoted to Chief of the Criminal Division.  In that role, he was responsible for the supervision of over 120 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and all aspects of the district’s criminal practice.  His last trial in Austin, Texas, a RICO prosecution, resulted in a life sentence without parole for a man who attempted to assassinate a state court judge as she sat in her car with her family.

 

From 2003 to 2007, Sofer was a trial attorney in the National Security Division at Main Justice where he led the investigation and prosecution of international terrorism cases.  He also served as the Director of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism and Director of the National Gang Targeting Enforcement and Coordination Center.

 

Sofer started his legal career in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.  Among a wide variety of cases, he prosecuted violent gang, murder and firearms trafficking cases for over 11 years, distinguishing himself as a skilled trial lawyer, indefatigable investigator, and fierce advocate for justice.  Sofer earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law and his B.A. from Rutgers University.

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Recall Election General Information from the City of Big Spring, 10/02/2020 - Update included


Date: October 2, 2020

To: Media Outlets

From: Donald Moore, City Secretary

 

Re: Recall Election General Information

 

The Charter of the City of Big Spring sets the City’s governing body as the City Council. City Council is composed of seven elected officials: The Mayor and six Council Members, with each Council Member representing one district of the City. Each elected official serves a three-year term.

 

The City Council of Big Spring has called five elections for November 3, 2020.

 

Due to COVID-19, two City Council elections were moved to November. Under Texas law, the two sitting Council members for those districts have continued in office until their successors are qualified by being elected.

 

Of those two elections moved to November 3, 2020, one election is for City Council Member for District 1. The term will run through May of 2023.

 

The other election moved to November 3, 2020, is for City Council Member for District 3. The term will run through May of 2023.

 

The other three elections concern whether to recall three other Council Members.

 

The Charter reserves to voters the power to recall their elected officials by petition and recall election. Several provisions in the Charter affecting recalls conflict with state law. When there is a conflict, the City is obligated to follow state law, instead of the Charter. Notably, the Charter provision as to when three or more recalls are sought at the same time conflicts with state law with regard to this election.

 

If a majority of votes cast at a recall election be for the recall of the elected official named on the ballot, the elected official is deemed removed from office. Any removal would be effective upon the

final canvass, when City Council certifies the election result.

 

If any removed elected official had one year or less remaining on his or her term, and that is the only vacancy on Council, City Council appoints a successor to serve the balance of the term. If any elected official has more than one year remaining on his or her term, City Council calls a special election to elect a successor to serve the balance of the term.

 

The three recall elections concern the following elected officials with terms remaining as stated, and what occurs if removed from office.

 

• Mayor, Shannon D. Thomason. Current term runs through May of 2022. If removed, a special election shall be called to fill the unexpired term.

 

• Council Member for District 5 and Mayor Pro Tem, Camilla Strande. Current term runs through May of 2022. If removed, a special election shall be called to fill the unexpired term.

 

• Council Member for District 6, Jim DePauw. Current term runs through May of 2021. If removed, City Council shall appoint a successor to fill the unexpired term, except if there is an additional vacancy on Council created at the same, in which case a special election shall be called to fill the unexpired term.

 

In the event that a special election is called to fill an unexpired term of a removed elected official, the special election should occur as soon as possible, and must occur between 46 days after the election is called and 120 days after the removal of the officeholder.

 

In the event that a recall election results in the elected official not being removed, the elected officer is not subject to recall until after three months from the date of the recall election.

 

The position of Mayor Pro Tempore or “Mayor Pro Tem” is created by the Charter. From among its members, City Council appoints the Mayor Pro Tem. There is no set term for the Mayor Pro Tem. The Mayor Pro Tem would preside over a City Council meeting when the Mayor is not present. By ordinance, if neither the Mayor nor Mayor Pro Tem are present, the Council Members present shall elect a Council Member to preside over the meeting.

 

 

(To enlarge photos, right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

 

 

 

Date: October 5, 2020

To: Media Outlets

From: Donald Moore, City Secretary

 

Re: Recall Election General Information

 

In addition to the Public Service Announcement issued on October 2, 2020, on Recall Election Information, we are adding the following: A City elected official removed by recall election is not therefore disqualified from elected office in the future.

 

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FREE, CONFIDENTIAL DRIVE-THRU DEPRESSION SCREENINGS OFFERED 


BIG SPRING - Free, confidential depression screenings will be offered Thursday, Oct. 8, at First Church of the Nazarene, 1400 S. Lancaster, in Big Spring. 

 

The free screenings will be provided by mental health professionals of West Texas Centers and the Big Spring State Hospital and will accompany a food distribution site provided by Permian Basin Oil and Gas Ministry - a ministry of the Nazarene Church. 

 

Screenings will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

 

People attending the screenings will have the option of remaining in their vehicles and being screened in a drive-thru setting. They will also have the option of coming inside the church if they prefer, said West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith, LMSW. 

 

“We are taking every precaution to make sure that people who attend this screening feel safe," Smith said. 

 

“We know that just making the effort to attend the screening takes a great deal of courage and we want to make this as easy as possible for everyone involved." 

 

West Texas Centers and Big Spring State Hospital have partnered for the past 20 years providing free depression screenings in Howard County. During that time they have assisted hundreds of people who were living with depression. 

 

The depression screenings are held on National Depression Screening Day, a day set aside to provide free screenings across the country to anyone who believes they may be living with depression but have not yet received a diagnosis. 

 

Upon arrival, attendees will be provided with a short questionnaire asking a series of questions. Upon completion, the answers will be reviewed by mental health professionals and followed by a short consultation. 

 

"We have found that many people may be living with depression and need someone to verify whether that is the case or if they are living within a period of sadness," Smith said. 

 

“We make every effort to provide a very comfortable, low-key setting so attendees can be given a chance to talk to a professional who understands what it is like to live with depression and can provide them with resources," Smith said. 

 

Mental health professionals will not be providing a diagnosis but will give attendees feedback on their answers to the questionnaire and local resources if further evaluation is needed. 

 

According to Mental Health America people living with depression often experience some of these key symptoms: a persistent sad, anxious or "empty” mood; sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much; reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain; loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed; restlessness or irritability; difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions; fatigue or loss of energy; thoughts of death or suicide. 

 

Smith expects a higher than larger turnout this year because of the anxiety of living in a pandemic. “People need support and we are so excited that the Nazarene Church is offering a food distribution event alongside our depression screening." 

 

The Permian Basin Oil Field and Energy Ministry - a ministry of First Church of the Nazarene assists workers and families of the energy sector and provides pop-up food distribution sites throughout the Permian Basin. 

 

Josh Cisneros, pastor of The Bridge Nazarene Church in Big Spring, said attendees may pull up in their vehicle and visit with ministry members regarding their food needs. The Nazarene Church partners with the Food Bank in Midland by providing a weeks' worth of nonperishable items for a family of three. 

 

“We want to meet their needs and give them hope," Cisneros said. 

 

West Texas Centers also offers a 24-hour Crisis Hotline for anyone who has questions or needs assistance. That number is 1-800-375-4357. 

 

West Texas Centers is the mental health authority for 23 counties in West Texas serving 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. 

 

Big Spring State Hospital is a state-owned and operated facility for people living with behavioral health issues. 

 

For more information on the food pop-up, call 432-267-7015, ext. 1. 

 

For more information on the depression screening, call Amy Vidal at (432) 264-3256.

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JUST THE FACTS - Part 4: Frequently Asked Questions


KBest News has submitted multiple Open Records Requests to the City of Big Spring, Texas Rangers/DPS, and the Texas Attorney General. “Just the Facts” is a series of news reports resulting from months of fact-checking, research, and Public Information Requests made by KBest News to address the issues and questions that have arisen in the Big Spring city government regarding upcoming elections and requests for recall.

 

 

What will the ballot look like for the recall?

(Example A)

 

City Council Member Recall

 

District 6

 

“Shall Jim DePauw be removed from the office of City Councilmember?”

O For the recall of Jim DePauw

 

O Against the recall of Jim DePauw

 

(Example B)

City Council Member Recall

 

District 5

 

“Shall Camilla Strande be removed from the office of City Councilmember?”

O For the recall of Camilla Strande

 

O Against the recall of Camilla Strande

 

(Example C)

City Council Member Recall

 

Mayor

 

“Shall Shannon D. Thomason be removed from the office of Mayor?”

O For the recall of Shannon D. Thomason

 

O Against the recall of Shannon D. Thomason

 

 

What does it mean if I vote “For the recall”?

“For the recall” means that you want to remove the representative from their elected position. If there’s a majority of votes for this option, the elected official will be removed from office for the remainder of his or her term.

 

 

What does “Against the recall” mean?

“Against the recall” means that you do not want to remove the elected official from their position. If there’s a majority of votes for this option, the elected official will complete the remainder of their term.

 

 

What happens if any of the elected officials win their recall election?*

If the majority of the votes be against the removal of any officer, he or she shall continue in office, not subject to recall until the expiration of at least three months from the date of the unsuccessful recall election. [1]

 

 

What happens if District 6 Councilman Jim DePauw is recalled?*

DePauw has less than a year left in his term as the District 6 Councilmember. If the majority of the votes choose to recall him, DePauw will be removed from his position and the remaining councilmembers will appoint someone to complete his term - which is set to expire in May 2021. It should be noted that in the event that there is more than one vacancy created at the same time (Strande or/and Thomason are also recalled on November 3, 2020), then a special election will be called to fill the unexipired term [2]. This election would be held between 46 days after the election is called and 120 days after the removal of the officeholder.

 

 

What happens if District 5 Councilwoman Camilla Strande is recalled?*

Strande has over a year left in her term as District 5 Councilmember. If the majority of the votes choose to recall her, Strande will be removed from her position. A special election will be called to elect a new District 5 Councilmember. This election would be held between 46 days after the election is called and 120 days after the removal of the officeholder.

 

In the meantime, the remaining council members will carry on with city business without a representative for District 5 until a new one is elected. The newly elected councilmember will then complete the remainder of the term, which is set to expire in May 2022.

 

 

What happens if Mayor Shannon D. Thomason is recalled?*

Thomason has over a year left in his term as the Mayor of Big Spring. If the majority of the votes choose to recall him, Thomason will be removed from his position. A special election will be called to elect a new Mayor of Big Spring. This election would be held between 46 days after the election is called and 120 days after the removal of the officeholder. The newly elected Mayor will then complete the remainder of the term, which is set to expire in May 2022.

 

In the meantime, the remaining council members will carry on with city business with the Mayor Pro-Tem presiding over the council meetings. 

 

 

Who is the Mayor Pro-Tem? 

The position of Mayor Pro Tempore or "Mayor Pro Tem" is created by the Charter of the City of Big Spring [3]. Councilwoman Camilla Strande, District 5, is the current Mayor Pro-Tem as of the date that this article was published; however, the council may choose a new Mayor Pro-Tem at any time. 

 

 

What happens if both the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem are recalled?*

By ordinance, if neither the Mayor nor the Mayor Pro-Tem are present, the Council Members present shall elect a Council Member to preside over the meeting.

 

(* - See photos below: "Public Service Announcement" regarding "Recall Election General Information" from Donald Moore, City Secretary, dated Oct. 2, 2020)

 

(right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab")

 

(right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

 

 

If someone is removed from office through a recall election, can they run for office again at a later time?

According to an announcement written by Big Spring City Secretary Donald Moore, a City elected official removed by recall election is not therefore disqualified from elected office in the future.

 

 

 

(Photo: Press Release, dated October 5, 2020, from Donald Moore, City Secretary of Big Spring, concerning additional general information about the recall election. - Right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

 

 

Is the City of Big Spring Fire Department allowed to endorse political candidates?

According to a press release written by former Big Spring City Manager Todd Darden on May 17, 2019, “The City of Big Spring is prohibited by State law from endorsing any candidates and from using any funds to support any election, except for providing general information.”

 

 

(Photo: Press Release, dated May 17, 2019, from Todd Darden, then City Manager of Big Spring, concerning advertisements placed within the community stating that Big Spring Firefighters endorse candidates for city election. - Right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

 

 

Footnotes:

1 - Big Spring, TX - Code of Ordinances / PART I - CITY CHARTER / Article XI. - Recall of Councilmen and/or Councilwomen, Sec. 6. - Ballots at election; effect of election., https://library.municode.com/tx/big_spring/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTICICH_ARTXIRECOCO 

2 - Big Spring, TX - Code of Ordinances / PART I - CITY CHARTER / Article VI.-City Officers and Employees, Sec. 3. - Vacancies in Council., https://library.municode.com/tx/big_spring/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTICICH_ARTVICIOFEM

3 - Big Spring, TX - Code of Ordinances / PART I - CITY CHARTER / Article IV. - City Government / Sec. 4. - Mayor to preside over council; mayor pro tempore; council quorum., https://library.municode.com/tx/big_spring/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTICICH_ARTIVCIGO 

 

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15th Fatality Reported in COVID-19 Update for the Week of September 28th, 2020


Press Release – October 2nd, 2020

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

 

Re: COVID-19 Update for the Week of September 28th, 2020

 

City of Big Spring and Howard County officials were notified of 108 new positive COVID-19 test results for the week of September 28th, 2020. To date, Howard County and Big Spring have had a total of 832 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. The number of active cases increased from 377 to 404, an increase of 27 cases from last week. The total number of people recovered from COVID-19 also increased; we have 396 patients recovered, an increase of 80. Unfortunately, there was one COVID-19 related fatality this week, an 84-year-old female. This is the 15th COVID-19 related death in our community. County and City officials are saddened by this news and we extend our deepest condolences to her family members. We ask that you keep this family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

 

The dramatic increase in positive cases continues to be attributed to an outbreak at the Federal Correctional Institution and the GEO units in Big Spring. Of the 404 active cases in Howard County this week, 384 are inmates at FCI Big Spring and GEO Big Spring. Only 20 cases are Howard County/Big Spring residents. This is an increase of two community cases from last week. FCI Big Spring continues its efforts to contain this outbreak by working with health care professionals daily to stop the spread and ensure the safety of their inmates and staff.

 

Big Spring and Howard County’s COVID-19 statistics continue to improve; however, County and City officials still urge community members to take every precaution to protect yourself and your family members. Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask while in public areas. These are all things you can do to help prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming ill from any respiratory illness including COVID-19.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

 

 

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Weekend Opportunities for Local Voters to Grab Sample Ballots, Meet Candidates, and Register to Vote.


There’s still time to register to vote in this year’s General Election. A couple of events this weekend will offer an opportunity to get that taken care of before the upcoming deadline. A “Pop In and Out” event will be held at Ryan Hall, located at 605 N. Main, today from 4-7 PM. All City and County residents are invited to pop in, get their sample ballot, and grab a free bag of Gourmet Popcorn. This will be a drive-thru, COVID-Safe event and offers attendees an opportunity to register to vote.

 

There will also be a "Meet and Greet" event on Sunday, October 4th, at the Heart of City Park in Big Spring from 4-6 PM with various candidates and city council members who are up for potential recall.  During this time, attendees can register to vote, check out sample Ballots, and get information on polling locations and the Recall Election. This is an opportunity to ask questions and become more informed before you cast your vote. 

 

Hand Sanitizer will be available. Masks and social distancing are encouraged.

 

The deadline for voter registration is Monday, October 5th. If you’re mailing in your voter application, it must be postmarked by that date. Election Day is November 3rd, and early voting begins on October 13, 2020.

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Reminder: Outdoor gatherings of 10 out more must be approved by local officials


Press Release – October 1st, 2020

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

 

Re: Reminder for Large Gatherings

 

Citizens are reminded that per Governor Abbott’s Executive Order No. 30, any outdoor gatherings of ten people or more must be approved by the Mayor Shannon Thomason, if the gathering is in the city limits of Big Spring, or by Judge Kathryn Wiseman, if the gathering is in an unincorporated area of Howard County. Violation of this order could result in a fine of up $1,000.00.

 

For gatherings in the City limits of Big Spring, please contact Terri Telchik at 432-264-2323; for gatherings in Howard County, please contact Judge Wiseman’s office at 432-234-2202.

County and City officials still urge community members to take every precaution to protect yourself and your family members. Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home when possible, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask while in public areas. These are all things you can do to help prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming ill from any respiratory illness including COVID-19.

 

Howard County Judge Kathryn Wiseman

Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason

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JUST THE FACTS - Part 3: Truth and Consequences


KBest News has submitted multiple Open Records Requests to the City of Big Spring, Texas Rangers/DPS, and the Texas Attorney General. “Just the Facts” is a series of news reports resulting from months of fact-checking, research, and Public Information Requests made by KBest News to address the issues and questions that have arisen in the Big Spring city government regarding upcoming elections and requests for recall.
 
Continuing an examination of the controversies that have emerged during the course of the
recent recall processes for 3 Big Spring City Councilmembers - DePauw, Strande, and
Thomason.


AUGUST 19, 2020
District 5 Councilwoman Camilla Strande interviewed with CBS7 reporter Shane Battis. 1 During her interview, she accused Mayor Shannon Thomason of impersonating a city employee to undermine other council members.
 


As previously reported, a “Public Service Announcement” on Big Spring letterhead was emailed to “Media Outlets” including KBest Media, on June 25, 2020 from the City Secretary’s office stating that an affidavit was filed with the office of the City Secretary requesting the issuance of petitions for the recall of Strande as well as District 6 Councilman Jim DePauw. 2

 

(Photo: Public Service Announcement regarding the recall petitions requested on June 25, 2020)

 

According to Battis, Strande claimed the document wasn’t written by the City Secretary. In her CBS7 interview, Strande stated that Don Moore (City Secretary) said the he didn’t know
anything about it, wasn’t aware of it before it was sent out, didn’t see it until it was sent out, and didn’t have anything to do with writing it.

 

(Photo: Email sent by City Secretary Donald Moore to city officials stating that he did not issue, write, or instruct anyone to send the notification regarding the recall.)
 
Battis reported that Strande said the city employee who actually wrote the PSA told Strande that Mayor Thomason dictated it to her (the city employee) and told her to send it under Moore’s name.
 
Strande was also quoted as saying that impersonating a city official is a crime, and that (the
memo) opens up the city to a lawsuit.
 
Although Thomason did not interview with CBS7 concerning this allegation, he did interview with SanAngeloLive.com at a later date. 


While fact-checking the allegations, KBest News discovered that the “Public Service Announcement” in question also caught the interest of the Big Spring City Attorney as well as the 118 th District Attorney:

 

a) Class A Misdemeanor: Election Code section 255.003 makes it a Class A misdemeanor
to spend public funds on political advertising. An email obtained through an open
records request by KBest Media to the City revealed that Big Spring City Attorney
Andrew Hagen stated that this included recall elections, and he advised that the City
must remain neutral regarding recall affidavits. “The City should not publicize a recall
affidavit. That would serve only the interest of those in favor of the recall. The City must
be neutral.” Mr. Hagen also stated in his message, “Public funds can include employee
time and city resources such as the phone system or the e-mail system.” According to
the Texas Penal Code, a Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, a
fine of up to $4000.00, or both jail time and a fine.

 

(Photo: Email sent by City Attorney Andrew Hagen to council members and city staff on August 2, 2020.)

 

 

b) Third Degree Felony: The “Public Service Announcement” stated that it was from
“Donald Moore, City Secretary/Finance Director,” however, the open records request
revealed that Mr. Moore clarified that he did not write it, issue it, or instruct anyone to do
it. Additional documents received in response to the open records request to the City of
Big Spring indicated that the memo was sent under the direction of Shannon Thomason,
who falsely used Mr. Moore’s name on the document. According to 118 th District
Attorney Hardy Wilkerson, this action by Thomason appears to be or could be a violation
of Texas Penal Code section 37.11 “Impersonating a Public Servant” which is described
in the Penal Code as a Felony of the Third Degree.

 

 

AUGUST 24, 2020

In an interview with SanAngeloLive.com posted August 24, 2020 3, Mayor Thomason
stated, “I had a city employee write the memo, uh, and send it out attributing it to the City
Secretary. Now the reason I attributed it to the City Secretary is because it’s the City
Secretary’s office that handles all of the political filings.” Thomason went on to ask,
“Now like I said, should I have shown that as coming from the City Secretary? Probably
not. Uh, probably should have listed it as the City Manager, or even myself as Mayor,
uh, but anyway like I said the intent was never to mislead, defraud, anything like that; the
intent was simple transparency.”

 

 

District Attorney Wilkerson told KBest News last Friday that he has conducted
preliminary interviews of various employees at City Hall regarding the incident and
consequently found grounds to notify the Texas Rangers. An open records request from
KBest News to the Texas Rangers/DPS is awaiting a response. The Texas Penal Code
states that a Felony of the Third Degree is punishable by 2 – 10 years in the Texas
Department of Corrections and/or fine of up to $10,000.00.

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1- “Big Spring mayor accused of impersonating city employee”, published on 08/19/2020 by CBS 7, written by Shane Battis, https://www.cbs7.com/2020/08/20/big-spring-mayor-accused-of-impersonating-city-employee/?fbclid=IwAR02G5EDGlcYBSlHuzguX3AtxA2M0AMJ8p-2qr4sgaJUQ9MX0znE8FCIqAc 

2 -  “JUST THE FACTS - Part 1: Recall Elections in Howard County”, published on 09/29/2020, https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/532423

3 - "EXCLUSIVE: Embattled Big Spring Mayor  Goes on the Record About His Recall", published on 08/24/2020 by SanAngeloLive.com, written by Matt Trammell, https://sanangelolive.com/news/politics/video/2020-08-24/exclusive-embattled-big-spring-mayor-goes-record-about-his-recall?fbclid=IwAR0bfaAoydYtQETZxmiFNzKBe-yxchWGKfLUKXefxBa_01IzWnTAIUF3qNM

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BSPD announces third juvenile involved in murder of Richard Lopez, III


***UPDATE at 8:50 PM: Burciaga has been apprehended***

 

From Big Spring Police Department:

Continuation of Murder Investigation

 

Media Release

10/1/2020

 

Since the 24th of September 2020 the Big Spring Police Department Criminal Investigations Division has been investigating the death of Richard Lopez III 25 years of age. The investigation has led to the probable cause of the apprehension of two juveniles and the arrest of two adults identified as Marcus Pena Hispanic/Male 17 years of age and Rebecca Rivas Chavera Hispanic/Female 41 years of age for the offense of Murder. By motion of the County Attorney, the Big Spring Police Department has also received an order from the county court, authorizing the release of juvenile information for the purpose of apprehension. The Big Spring Police Department CID Division is currently seeking the apprehension of a third juvenile, Michael Donavan Burciaga a Hispanic/Male, for the offense of Murder and asks the public for information regarding his whereabouts. This is an ongoing investigation and no further information is available at this time.

 

CrimeStoppers is offering up to $1,000.00 to the FIRST person who can provide information that leads to the apprehension of Michael Donavan Burciaga. If you have any information regarding this investigation please call the Criminal Investigations Division Sergeant at (432)264-2558 or you can call CrimeStoppers at (432)263-TIPS (8477). You can also use the CrimeStoppers P3tips.com software to submit your tip online https://www.p3tips.com/1277 . Remember no caller ID is ever used and all tips are anonymous.

 

(Photo: Michael Donavan Burciaga, juvenile, apprended for the offense of Murder.)

 

 

(Photo: Marcus Pena, 17, arrested for the offense of Murder.)

 

 

(Photo: Rebecca Rivas Chavera, 41, arrested for offense of Murder.)

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Hotel Settles celebrates 90th anniversary 


Today, Hotel Settles celebrates 90 years in Big Spring! Originally opened on October 1, 1930, Hotel Settles was built by Will R. and Lillian Settles, following the discovery of oil on their ranch. Designed by architect David Castle, the building was constructed as a solid concrete, 15-story, 150-room hotel with a restaurant and a pharmacy.

 

At the time, it was the tallest building between El Paso and Ft. Worth. The Settles family owned the hotel for two years, but sold it when the Great Depression gripped the nation and their oil revenues diminished. The hotel went through several owners in the ensuing years.

 

Tomorrow, Hotel Settles will celebrate their big anniversary on their courtyard lawn with musical guests Jody Nix and Tylor Brandon. Guests will also be able to enjoy a gourmet hot dog and bar on the patio, a delicious Big Spring special in Settles Grill, 90-cent beers, and other fun surprises.

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Ballot topic "Howard County Assistance District" explored at Tuesday's Town Hall Meeting, 09/29/2020


Howard County residents living outside the city limits of Big Spring, Coahoma, or Forsan will have the opportunity to vote on an important item on Election day, November 3, 2020. (Note: Early voting runs Oct. 13, 2020 - Oct. 30, 2020.)

 

The item in question is regarding the creation of the Howard County Assistance District, which would implement a two percent sales tax increase in the areas outside the city limits of Forsan, Big Spring and Coahoma. This increase will change the 6.25 percent sales tax in these unincorporated areas to 8.25 percent, which is the same as rate inside of the city limits. Doing so is expected to generate income for the district to fund road repairs and law enforcement and other things in the district area. Over time, it has potential to help offset property taxes.

 

According to Howard County Commissioner Jimmie Long, Pct. 3, it can be used for a variety of programs. The revenue generated from the CAD would be in a fund that is separate from their General Funds. 

 

Long advised that the Commissioners Court is against any kind of tax -property or sales- but this 2 percent increase in sales tax is the lesser of two evils.

 

The next town hall meeting will be held on the third floor of the Howard County Courthouse on October 6, 2020 at 6 PM.


If you have any questions about the County Assistance District, you can contact Commissioner Long at JimmieWayne@suddenlink.net with any questions. To view the town hall meeting from Sept. 29, 2020, visit our KBest Media Facebook page at: 

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=963133187502179 

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JUST THE FACTS - Part 2: CONTROVERSY


KBest News has submitted multiple Open Records Requests to the City of Big Spring, Texas Rangers/DPS, and the Texas Attorney General. “Just the Facts” is a series of news reports resulting from months of fact-checking, research, and Open Records Requests made by KBest News to address the issues and questions that have arisen in the Big Spring city government regarding upcoming elections and requests for recall.

 

Just the Facts - Part 2: CONTROVERSY

 

On the road towards the Recall Election for three Big Spring City Councilmembers - Camilla Strande, District 5; Jim DePauw, District 6; and Mayor Shannon Thomason on November 3rd (Early Voting is October 13, - October 30, 2020.), there have been a few controversies that have arisen along the way:

 

JULY 29, 2020

The affidavit requesting recall petitions for Mayor Thomason was initiated by Linda Burchett. Her affidavit cited dereliction of duty, threatening city personnel, and cussing at city personnel. She also stated that Thomason had obstructed councilmembers from seeking advice from the City Attorney during council meetings.

 

(Photo of the official affidavit on file with the City of Big Spring that requests a recall petition, submitted by Linda Burchett. In order to enlarge images, right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)

 

 

AUGUST 12, 2020

The day before the Big Spring City Council ordered a special election to be held on November 3, 2020, for the purpose of voting for or against the recall of Mayor Thomason, 1 he appeared in a NewsWest 9 interview with reporter Tatum Guinn. In the interview, Thomason spoke on the possibility of the recall affidavit filed by Linda Burchett being voided, and that it potentially broke the law. 2

 

According to Guinn, in the August 12, 2020 interview, Thomason advised that the proper procedure for the petition process was never followed by the City Secretary's office because Burchett modified the affidavit after it had already been notarized.

 

In his interview, Thomason stated, “When Ms. Burchett came, submitted her statement, it wasn’t really an affidavit that she stated, uh, when she submitted her statement and filled out this affidavit form. She was told by the Assistant City Secretary that it would take some time to prepare the petition forms, ‘cause they wanted 32 petitions, 5 pages each – so 160 pages, so it was going to take a little time, uh, and they have to hand number those and sign each one, so on and so forth. So Ms. Burchett left with a copy of the affidavit and took this copy of the affidavit to the Big Spring Herald after it had been notarized and after it had been signed by the City Secretary.”

 

Guinn also stated in her news report that Thomason claimed he was told by the City Secretary that Burchett made the changes to the document when she returned to City Hall.

 

(Photo: Copy of the affidavit published by the Big Spring Herald. Photo of the official affidavit on file with the City of Big Spring is shown above under the date of July 29, 2020.)

 

 

According to Guinn, Thomason was quoted as saying, “Those petitions were issued on an invalid affidavit. This document is worthless and this is the copy that's in the city's file right now."

 

Guinn also reported that Mayor Thomason believed this qualified as tampering with a government document, and that he filed a complaint with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

 

Additionally, Guinn’s news report stated that Thomason was quoted as saying, “I’m just doing my job. Granted, it’s happening to me, but I’d fight this fight for anybody. People, no matter who you are, must follow the rules.”

 

Since these events, KBest News filed a Public Information Request with the Texas Rangers/DPS requesting information on an investigation request made by Thomason concerning his allegation against Burchett for allegedly tampering with a government document. On August 21, 2020, Brian Sears, Assistant General Counsel with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Office of the General Counsel, responded to our request, stating:

 

“The Department has conducted a good faith search for any and all information related to your request and, based on the information provided, has not been able to locate any responsive records.”

 

 

--

KBest News will report more information tomorrow in the next installment of “Just the Facts.”

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1 -   “Special Meeting of the Big Spring City Council Recap, 08/13/2020”, published 08/14/2020, https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/524070

2 - “Big Spring mayor files complaint with Texas Rangers on petition to recall his seat,” published by NewsWest 9 on 08/12/2020, written by Tatum Guinn, https://www.newswest9.com/article/news/local/big-spring-mayor-petition-for-recall/513-c24604a7-8cdb-47dc-8b1e-b3447a56d1d2?fbclid=IwAR1gHmHBOVYOO0iXn_Mg2PCJRE5tm2gQlfXnBk8u4JXr3HSPTPBp1lLBszY 

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