HOWARD COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT
There will be a budget workshop today at the Howard County Courthouse beginning at 2:30 PM. The workshop will be streamed on the Facebook page for Howard County Info Tech. Afterward, there will be a regular meeting of the Howard County Commissioners Court that will begin at 3:30 PM.
View the full agenda here:
BIG SPRING CITY COUNCIL
The City of Big Spring will meet for a regular session tonight at 5:30 PM in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. 4th St. in Big Spring. It should be noted that the public is still able to attend the meetings in person if they choose to do so. The meeting can also be viewed by a live broadcast on Suddenlink Channel 17 or through the Media Center on the city website at mybigspring.com. Those wishing to make a public comment can do so by calling 432-264-2411 during the meeting.
View the full agenda here:
Watch tonight's meeting online through this link:
On Saturday morning, 05/23/2020, Cross Roads Young Marines Unit Commander Roger Rodman was presented with the Quilt of Valor by Mike Tarpley, local presenter of the Quilts of Valor. The local Young Marines and staff also assisted in the presentation. The Quilt of Valor is given to Veterans in recognition of service and sacrifice for this Nation.
The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.
Photo: Roger Rodman (center) is presented with the Quilt of Valor by Mike Tarpley (right), while Young Marines (right) look on. Photo taken from the Cross Roads Young Marines Facebook page.
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has extended payment deadlines for designated reimbursing employers that are required to pay a share of unemployment benefits. Designated reimbursing employers include non-profits, local governments, school districts and other qualifying employers who reimburse TWC for the full amount of unemployment benefits to be paid to eligible former employees.
TWC’s action delays the due date for the June 1 payment to December 31, 2020. This action also waives interest and penalty charges during the same time period, and does not reduce or eliminate this payment for reimbursing employers. Instead, it provides more time for these employers to secure resources to meet these and other liabilities as they deal with the implications of COVID-19. This extension also does not delay or prevent Texans who qualify for unemployment benefits from receiving these resources.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented economic challenges, and the State of Texas is committed to helping both employers and Texans who have lost their jobs through this challenge,” said Governor Abbott. “This payment extension will help these employers address financial setbacks due to COVID-19 and provide them more time to pay their share of unemployment benefits. As Texas continues to respond to COVID-19, we are committed to ensuring employers across the state have the resources they need to recover."
Howard County will close all offices on Monday, May 25, 2020 in observance of Memorial Day. County Offices will open again for business on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.
Sheriff’s Administrative Offices will be closed but Law Enforcement Services will operate as normal.
All City of Big Spring offices, including Sanitation and the Landfill, will be closed on Monday, May 25, 2020, for Memorial Day. The City Landfill will be open on Saturday, May 23, 2020, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. All City offices will reopen Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at 8:00 AM.
There will be no sanitation pick-up on Memorial Day. The Sanitation pick-up schedule for the week of May 25, 2020, will be as follows:
Normal Monday pick-ups will be collected on Tuesday. Normal Tuesday pick-ups will be collected on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday pick-ups will be normal.
Emergency services (Police, Fire, and EMS) will continue normal operations. The Emergency Utilities Department will also be available and can be reached at 432-264-2392.
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order suspending in-person visitations in all county and municipal jails in the state of Texas. This restriction does not apply to visitation by an attorney meeting with a client or a religious leader or member of the clergy. The Governor previously directed state prisons, jails, and juvenile justice facilities to restrict visitation upon issuing his COVID-19 disaster declaration. This executive order adds another layer of defense to contain COVID-19 hot spots, prevent community spread, and protect staff and inmates.
"Jails have shown to be highly susceptible to COVID-19 surges which is why we are focused on containing any potential hot spots and preventing spread both within jails and the community," said Governor Abbott. "I encourage jails to utilize virtual visitation strategies to allow for visitations in a way that protects both staff and the inmate population. The State of Texas is committed to keeping all Texans safe, protecting our most vulnerable populations, and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 throughout the Lone Star State."
On Friday, May 22, 2020, City crews replaced several water valves in the area of East 24th Street from Scurry Street to Runnels Street. This required water service to be shut down over a large portion of Big Spring.
Due to the valve replacement, water had to be drained from a portion of the City’s water system for an extended period of time, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the City of Big Spring (PWS ID #1140001) public water system to notify all customers in Big Spring to boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all impacted customers should follow these directions.
To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.
In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes. When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.
Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a rescind notice to customers that cancels the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.
Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Shane Bowles, Public Works Director at 432-264-2501.
Today, the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas (RCAT) issued a warning to the residents of Lubbock and San Angelo to beware of fraudulent contractors after wind and hail storms hit the area.
"After this week's storms in the Lubbock and San Angelo areas, consumers need to take extra precautions to avoid falling for a roofing scam," said Sarah Ramon, director of the RCAT. "Fortunately, there are a few simple steps residents can take to protect themselves."
When hiring a roofing contractor, make sure you:
Get more than one bid
Hire local and check references
Require a written contract and proof of insurance
Do NOT provide payment upfront
As one of the few states that does not require roofers to obtain licenses or register their businesses, Texans can be particularly vulnerable to roofing scams. Fraudulent contractors typically flock to storm-ridden areas and offer fast, cheap repairs for a high down payment, but leave before any work is completed. Unfortunately, scammers often target vulnerable populations including low-income and elderly Texans.
"Especially given the high unemployment rates and many strapped wallets, these scams could mean financial disaster for many struggling Texans," said Ramon. "We're doing everything in our power to help homeowners protect against losing money to scammers."
Leading up to the 2021 Legislative Session, RCAT will look to pass legislation providing consumer protections in this completely unregulated industry. Although RCAT made historic progress in this type of legislation during the 2019 session, the legislation was ultimately defeated on the House floor. For now, it is up to Texans to spot and send scammers packing.
To learn more about how you can protect against falling for a roofing scam, review our tips for hiring a roofer and join the fight to establish consumer protections at www.saferoofsovertexas.com.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity Memorial Park will be hosting a special event in place of their traditional Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony.
On Monday, May 25, Trinity Memorial Park will transform into an "Avenue of Flags" - and they invite the public to take a drive of remembrance, any time between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., in honor of those who died serving our country. American flags will line their roads, and local Boy Scouts will mark each veteran's gravesite as a tribute to these fallen heroes.
Patriotic music will be aired on The Mighty 1490 AM and 103.9 FM from 10 AM to 2 PM so that listeners can listen to a patriotic playlist while visiting the Avenue of Flags on Memorial Day.
SNYDER, TX (Snyder Daily News) - After announcing Scurry County's five most recent positive COVID-19 test results, Scurry County Health Unit director Dana Hartman posted online that at least one of the individuals who tested positive had been "EVERYWHERE IN SCURRY COUNTY."
In a Thursday press release, Scurry County Judge Dan Hicks announced that one of the positive tests had been administered to a county employee stationed at the Scurry County Law Enforcement Center.
The only other information released about the individuals that tested positive was that four were female and one was male.
Two females were between the ages of 35 and 45, one was between 15 and 25 years old and one was between 55 and 65 years old.
The male was between 55 and 65 years old.
Hicks said in a Thursday press release employees and inmates would be tested over the next 48-96 hours.
“Those tests will be administered by both Cogdell (Memorial) Hospital as well as a State Testing Team,” Hicks wrote. He said approximately 140 tests would be administered.
Hartman confirmed two state teams will be in Scurry County.
Responding to a suggestion about asking the state's mobile testing units to return to Scurry County she wrote, "Excellent idea, I wish we would have thought of that.”
Hartman also suggested that anyone concerned about their health or safety, “might consider moving to a different county where you will feel safe.”
Hartman also encouraged people to take proper precautions.
Hicks said he did not plan to expand the disaster declaration or take additional action.
“Scurry County will not add new orders. Governor’s orders supersede any orders we would (put) into place,” he said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas, it has been discovered that hot spots for the state center around food processing facilities, jails and prisons, and nursing homes. Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott issued an order to conduct COVID-19 tests on 100 percent of staff and residents at nursing homes. In order to get this accomplished, he announced that there would be a partnership with the local fire departments.
In Big Spring and Howard County, there are 3 nursing home facilities that total in approximately 600 residents and staff and require testing. The state-mandated testing only applies to licensed nursing homes, such as Big Spring for Skilled Care, Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Lamen-Lusk-Sanchez Texas State Veterans Home.
According to Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason, other than being provided with testing, there were no additional resources offered to get testing completed before the state’s deadline of May 25, 2020. Thomason advised that the Big Spring Fire Department had 4-5 off-duty personnel available to conduct 600 tests in a matter of days. Since the personnel had no training in conducting the tests, the city coordinated with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to bring in a surge team of approximately 20 people to complete the testing.
Two of the three nursing home facilities in Big Spring have been tested and testing at the last facility begins today, Friday.
As of Thursday afternoon, this brought the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Howard County to 731. 251have tested negative, 473 test results are still pending, and there have been 6 confirmed cases in the county. 5 of the 6 have recovered and there has been 1 death.
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin a phased opening of driver license offices starting May 26th with limited service offerings. As part of this opening plan, DPS will launch a statewide driver license (DL) appointment system that allows customers to book appointments up to six months in advance. The limited services being offered will be by appointment only.
"This phased opening of our driver license offices and the launch of DPS' online appointment system prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and ensures Texans have access to the services they need at their local driver license offices," said Governor Abbott. "I thank DPS for developing this safe and strategic plan to open their offices and for launching a new appointment system to streamline our driver license services."
The four-phase plan for the opening of driver license offices is as follows:
Phase 1: Offices in DPS’ Northwest and West Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 26, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 22 at 1 p.m.
Phase 2: Offices in DPS’ South and Central Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning May 29, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 26 at 1 p.m.
Phase 3: Offices in DPS’ North and Southeast Texas regions will reopen with limited services beginning June 3, 2020. Customers who currently do not possess a Texas DL, CDL, learner permit or ID card, as well those who are in need of a drive test, can begin scheduling appointments in these two regions on May 29 at 1 p.m.
Phase 4 will allow customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state and is expected to begin midsummer. DPS will announce details on this phase at a later date. Extension for expiration dates will remain in effect until phase 4 is implemented.
On Wednesday evening at approximately 6:15 PM, DPS Troopers responded to a fatal crash in Scurry County on US Why-180, less than 5 miles east of Snyder.
According to the crash report, Charles Surgin Gardner, male, 48, of Glenn Heights, was traveling west on US-180 in a 2017 Polaris Slingshot while in the rain with wet road conditions. The vehicle hydroplaned and slid off the south side of the roadway, through a barrow ditch, and fence. Gardner was pronounced dead on scene. The crash is under investigation.
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott has allowed Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) license and permit renewals to occur after the current 30 day grace period after an expiration date without any late fees. This waiver applies to renewals with an expiration date on or after March 13, 2020.
"As we continue to safely and strategically open the state of Texas, we want to ensure financial barriers are removed for businesses that plan to open up to the public," said Governor Abbott. "By granting an extended renewal period and waiving license and permit renewal late fees, we are ensuring Texas entrepreneurs and business owners are supported as we kick-start our economy and continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic."
(AUSTIN) — As Texas businesses slowly reopen their doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is reminding families and businesses that they can save on the purchase of certain water- and energy-efficient products during the state’s Water-Efficient Products and ENERGY STAR® sales tax holidays.
The holidays, created by the Texas Legislature, both take place Saturday, May 23, through Monday, May 25.
“Inefficient appliances and outdated water systems put a tremendous strain on our power grids and water supplies,” Hegar said. “Even in these uncertain times, Texans can take advantage of this sales tax holiday to buy more energy-efficient items, support local businesses and save money. You can practice social distancing and other precautionary measures when shopping in person or shop online. Qualifying products are tax free.”
This is the fifth year for the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday. Products displaying a WaterSense® label or logo can be purchased tax free for personal or business use. These include showerheads, bathroom sink faucets and accessories, toilets, urinals and landscape irrigation controls.
The sales tax holiday also applies to lawn and garden products that help conserve water outdoors. Items qualifying for the exemption include soaker or drip-irrigation hoses; moisture controls for sprinkler or irrigation systems; mulch; and plants, trees and grasses. These items can be purchased tax free for residential use only.
There’s no limit to the number of water-efficient or water-conserving products you can purchase tax free. For more information on the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday, visit the Comptroller’s website.
During the ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday, certain energy-efficient products displaying the ENERGY STAR logo can be purchased tax free, including air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less, refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and clothes washing machines.
Visit the Comptroller’s website for more ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday details.
Estimated annual energy and water savings for eligible products are listed below.
|ENERGY STAR® Appliance vs. Conventional
|Central Air Conditioners
|Room/Window Air Conditioners
|Ceiling Fans/Light Combination Units
|ENERGY STAR Certified Light Bulbs
|ENERGY STAR Certified Fixtures
|ENERGY STAR Certified Decorative Light Strings
|WaterSense Products - Showerheads
||2 gallons/minute max
|WaterSense Label - Toilets
The following is a news release from Big Spring Police Department:
On the 19th of May 2020 at approximately 7:43 P.M., officers of the Big Spring Police Department were dispatched to a Robbery in the 1500 block of Chickasaw. Upon arrival it was reported that the victim, a 35 years of age Hispanic/Male, was walking to a friend’s house when a vehicle occupied by two males pulled up to him. The victim reported one of the males pointed a pistol at him while the other began going through the victims pockets. It was reported that while the two suspects were stealing property from the victim, he attempted to grab the pistol and the pistol was fired causing the victim to run away. The victim was found to have suffered non-life threatening injuries during the altercation. Officers later located the suspect vehicle and suspects in the 1600 block of Avion and Detectives with the Big Spring Police Department responded. After conducting the preliminary investigation an adult male identified as Marcus Diago Pena Black/Male 17 years of age and a 16 year old juvenile male were arrested and charged with the Felony 1 offense Aggravated Robbery.
This continues to be an ongoing criminal investigation and no further information is available at this time.
Chief of Police, Chad Williams
Administrative Lieutenant Brian Gordon
CID Sergeant John Haynes
Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency issued guidance for Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies in the state of Texas. As part of Governor Greg Abbott’s Strike Force to Open Texas, TEA advised that schools had four different pathways to celebrate their graduating seniors:
Rural counties with five or less cases of COVID-19 could participate in outdoor in-person ceremonies from May 15 - 31st. All counties that did not meet that qualification, would have to wait to hold their outdoor ceremonies until at least June 1, 2020.
Thanks to the guidance issued by TEA, many school districts were able to form plans for graduation ceremonies. For Sands CISD, a consolidated school district located in Ackerly, Texas that sits both in Dawson and Martin Counties, this was a little more complicated. While Martin County did meet the requirement of having less than 5 confirmed cases, Dawson County had over 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Instead of waiting until June 1st to hold an outdoor graduation ceremony for their 7 graduating seniors, Sands CISD obtained approval from the Martin County Judge and held their ceremony last Friday, May 15, 2020, on the visiting side of their football field; the side of the field that sits in Martin County.
For more on this story, visit: https://www.kcbd.com/2020/05/18/football-field-split-between-two-counties-forces-graduation-visitors-side/?fbclid=IwAR3Zdl9LM7RuHh9mnLM1oqfSmlIwO1frZNQNfnpa2gPefhb61AFrNN3y1I4
Forsan High School seniors will be celebrated with a parade tomorrow evening, 05/21/2020, in Forsan. The parade begins at 7 PM at 1st and Ave. H. The procession will travel north on Ave. H toward the high school, then move west behind the elementary school, and travel south back to 1st St.
Spectators are encouraged to line-up along the parade route between 6:30 - 6:45 PM, and are encouraged to stay in their vehicles.
Seniors participating in the drive-thru celebration will receive their diploma, scholarship information, and more goodies. The best decorated vehicle in the parade will also receive a $50 gift card from Sonic.
Last Thursday, St. Vincent de Paul, part of Trinity Catholic Parish in Big Spring, distributed groceries to people in need through a drive-thru set up process. Although several organizations have been conducting grocery distributions to assist families during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Vincent de Paul distributes boxes of groceries regularly for many years, that’s according to Rosario Medrano, President of St. Vincent de Paul. Food box distribution for the organization takes place every 2nd Thursday of the month from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
In addition to that, every 3rd Thursday of the month St. Vincent de Paul offers utility and rent assistance. They’ll be available this tomorrow, May 21, 2020, to visit with applicants who request assistance from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, at 1009 Hearn Street, next to Trinity Catholic Parish.
Those requesting rent/utility assistance must bring documentation with them such as a bill with termination notice, if possible, an eviction notice with a copy of the lease, medical bill, or proof of an upcoming medical appointment if the request is for a gas voucher.
Be advised that their office is not open to the public at this time, but visitors are encouraged to ring the doorbell and return to their vehicle and staff members will come out to assist them.
For more information, contact 432-606-5000.
Graduation is right around the corner for Big Spring area students. Coahoma High School’s graduation is scheduled for Thursday, May 21st, at 4 PM at Bill Easterling Memorial Stadium. This year’s valedictorian is Sydney Rinard and salutatorian is Marcus Martinez.
Forsan High School will have their virtual graduation ceremony this week. Their video will be posted to their Forsan ISD website at 6 PM on Friday, May 22nd. This year’s valedictorian for Forsan High School is Taylyn Still and salutatorian is Chloe Igneczi.
Big Spring High School will have an outdoor graduation ceremony on Friday, June 5th, at 9 PM at Memorial Stadium. This year’s valedictorian for Big Spring High School is Anthony Sarmiento and salutatorian is Corey Rogers.
Congratulations to everyone for their hard work!
COAHOMA — The top two students of the Coahoma High School Class of 2020 are Sydney Rinard and Marcus Martinez.
Sydney, the daughter of Jim and Tasha Rinard, has been named the class valedictorian and will further her education at Angelo State University. She plans to major in kinesiology. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Sydney plans to earn her doctorate at Parker University located in Dallas.
“In the future I plan on becoming a chiropractor and eventually someday opening up my own clinic,” Sydney said. “It has always been really important to me that whatever I do for the rest of my life has something to do with science and giving back to the community. Since my freshman year of high school, I have been set on becoming a chiropractor and that is exactly what I plan to do within the next five or six years.”
Marcus, the son of Levi Burchett and Isaac Martinez, is the class salutatorian and will head to Waco after graduation to attend Baylor University and pursue a career in dentistry.
During their years at CHS, both Sydney and Marcus have participated in band, athletics and the National Honor Society. Sydney has been a member of the FFA and student council and some of her non-school activities include First Priority and the Midway Baptist Church youth group.
“I always take my responsibilities seriously and have done my best in any leadership role I was given the honor of serving,” Sydney said. “These roles included being a drumline captain, FFA chapter officer, NHS president, Student Council officer, leader of First Priority, and also the leadership that just comes with being a senior in athletics and in my youth group.”
Both Marcus and Sydney were named a CHS top ten scholer. Sydney received the Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence and is a member of the Texas FFA Lone Star Degree National Honor Society.
The soon-to-be graduates offered the following advice to Coahoma students.
“If I could give a younger student advice, I would tell them to focus on what makes them happy, regardless of what anyone says,” Marcus said.
“My advice to any younger student at Coahoma is that you will definitely have more fun and enjoy your life so much more if you just be yourself and find confidence in your own personality,” Sydney said. “If you don’t think you’re ‘normal, that’s a good thing, and you will just live a better life if you stop trying to be someone that you’re not!”
Sydney also shared one of her favorite Bible verses.
“My favorite verse for a while now has been Psalm 16:8 and it says ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken,” she said. “This verse has really spoken to me personally because I have been through quite a lot in my few years on this planet and sometimes it can be hard to stay happy and focused.
“In my head, this verse told me that it doesn’t matter how much we may think we are falling apart or how much we think we can handle, God will always have our backs as long as we don’t forget about Him,” she continued. “We, as people, have to remember that we need to allow God full control of our burdens because He knows what’s best for us, and as long as we do that, we will make it through whatever troubles are hovering over us.”
Graduation ceremonies for the CHS Class of 2020 are set for 4 p.m., Thursday, at the Bill Easterling Memorial Stadium. “
AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today announced the second phase of the State of Texas' ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.
"Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables," said Governor Abbott. "By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge."
Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II.
- Child Care Centers (May 18)
- Massage and Personal-Care Centers - includes tattoo and piercing studios (May 18)
- Youth Clubs (May 18)
- Rodeo and Equestrian Events (May 22)
- Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcast Racing, and Skating Rinks (May 22)
- Bars (May 22)
- Aquariums and Natural Caverns (May 22)
- Zoos (May 29)
- Day Youth Camps (May 31)
- Overnight Youth Camps (May 31)
- Youth Sports (May 31)
- Certain professional sports without in-person spectators (May 31)
All sporting and camp activities are required to adhere by special safety standards, and minimum standard health protocols have been established for all newly-announced opened services and activities. Businesses located in office buildings may also open but must limit their occupancy to the greater of 10 employees or 25% of their workforce.
Additionally, restaurants may expand their occupancy to 50% beginning May 22. Bars—including wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and similar businesses—may open at 25% occupancy but like restaurants, these occupancy limits do not apply to outdoor areas that maintain safe distancing among parties.
Opened services and activities under Phase II are subject to certain occupancy limits and health and safety protocols. For details and a full list of guidelines, openings, and relevant dates, visit www.gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
Certain counties experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases will have their beginning date of Phase II delayed until May 29. These counties include El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith. Surge Response Teams are actively working in these areas to increase testing, maintain hospital capacity, and ensure that COVID-19 is contained and mitigated.
During his remarks, the Governor also presented information on the state's hospitalization and positivity rates—two metrics the Governor and his team of medical experts have used to inform the state's ongoing plan to safely and strategically open. Details on these metrics can be found in presentation slides here and here.
Two separate pedestrian-vehicle accidents resulted in death in Ector County this week.
The first occurred on Sunday evening, 05/17/2020, on US Highway 385, 5 miles south of Odessa. DPS troopers arrived on the scene at 6:41 PM to find pedestrian Patricia Munoz, 37 of Odessa, had been struck by a vehicle. According to the DPS report, James Comeaux, 20 of Odessa, had been traveling north on US Hwy 385, when he observed Munoz in the center of the roadway. Comeaux swerved in an attempt to avoid collision. Munoz was struck by the vehicle and was later pronounced dead at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.
The second pedestrian death occurred early Monday, 05/18/2020, at approximately 12:33 AM, 7 miles west of Odessa on Knox Avenue. According to the report from DPS, Cristian Baeza, 18 of Odessa, was traveling south on Knox Avenue. The pedestrian, identified as Reyna Rodriguez, 16 of Midland, was walking in the center of the roadway and was struck by Baeza’s vehicle. Rodriguez was pronounced dead on scene and the crash is still under investigation.
During last week’s regular meeting of the Big Spring ISD Board of Trustees, the school board approved a budget amendment and expenditure of over $150,000 for the purchase of 1,350 Chromebooks and related carts. The purchase is part of BSISD’s 5-year technology plan that would help them to update security measures at BSISD campuses and have a set of Chromebooks or iPads for classrooms.
Instead of waiting for the new budget year to begin, administrators believed that it would be in the best of the district to make the purchase now so they could have those devices in the hands of the students as soon as possible. This would allow time to train teachers on programs such as Google Classroom and give students the opportunity to become more familiar with using the devices on a regular basis.
Plus, it would also ensure that if schools were to be closed again due to an unforeseen circumstance, the district would be able to supply students with a take-home device.
The approximate cost of $450,000 was taken from the General Fund Balance and, according to BSISD Jay McWilliams, the funds will be replaced after the 2020-2021 budget year begins on September 1, 2020.
The board also approved a budget amendment and expenditure of over $150,000 for a new wireless network at each elementary school. McWilliams told KBest News that Kindergarten - 2nd grade students will be using iPads in the classroom, and 3rd grade and up will be using Chromebooks during the next school year. The wifi upgrade at the schools would ensure that the bandwidth would be able to support the devices in use.
A resolution regarding class rank calculations for Big Spring High School students was also approved on Thursday by the BSISD Board of Trustees. The resolution states that although students would be receiving credit for work completed, their grade point averages would be calculated up through the 4th 6-week cycle.
According to McWilliams, GPAs are usually calculated using semester grades, but BSISD Superintendent Jay McWilliams advised that the district would not factor grades into the GPA for the 5th and 6th weeks cycles because the students were not actually in front of a teacher since March 6, 2020. McWilliams stated that it was the best solution they came up with to ensure that they created an even playing field for all students. During the meeting it was also stated that dual credit classes also would not factor into calculating GPAs. The resolution will only affect GPA calculations for the 2019-2020 school year.
The next regular meeting of the Big Spring ISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 5:15 PM.
BIG SPRING, TX — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Jason N. Cave as the new Medical Center Director of the West Texas VA Health Care System.
“We are excited to bring Mr. Jason Cave on board as the new Medical Center Director of the West Texas VA Health Care System,” said Mr. Jeffery L. Milligan, Network Director, Heart of Texas Health Care Network. “His sound leadership qualities and proven experience will be valuable assets for the health care system, the employees, volunteers and most importantly, for the Veterans we are honored to serve.”
Since reporting as the Interim Director in July 2019, Cave has overseen the opening of the new San Angelo, TX Community Based Outpatient Clinic, the opening of the first of four Small House – Community Living Centers, the reduction of vacant positions by nearly 50%, and has established an aggressive Veteran Outreach campaign designed to take VA health care to where Veterans live, work and play.
“We anticipate he will assume his new duties within the next 45 – 60 days as the medical center Director,” said Milligan.
Cave joined VA six years ago as a Presidential Management Fellow and has served in VA Medical Centers as an Assistant Director, Health Systems Specialist, Financial Manager and has served in other assignments including General Attorney, Public Affairs Officer, and Emergency Manager.
Cave is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with an undergraduate degree in Accounting, and the University of Akron School of Law with a Juris Doctor in trial advocacy and dispute resolution, and he continues to maintain an active legal license. Additionally, Cave is a graduate of VA’s Leadership Development Institute and the VA’s Leadership VA Class of 2016.
West Texas VA Health Care System is a Joint Commission accredited, complexity level 3 facility serving Veterans across two states.
The George H. O’Brien, Jr. VA Medical Center is located in Big Spring, TX, with Community Based Outpatient Clinics in; Abilene, TX; San Angelo, TX; Midland/Odessa, TX; and Hobbs, NM. An Outreach Clinic is located in Fort Stockton, TX.
Health care is provided for nearly 40,000 Veterans through primary care, cardiology, audiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, ophthalmology, dentistry and extended care.
West Texas VA Health Care System has specialized programs including Behavioral Health, Health Care for Homeless Veterans, Compensated Work Therapy, Telehealth Care Coordination, Home Based Primary Care, Community Living Center and Domiciliary.
COAHOMA — Coahoma High School will hold graduation ceremonies at 4 p.m, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at the Bill Easterling Memorial Stadium, if weather permits. Alternate plans have been made in case of changes in weather or Covid-19 restrictions.
“Graduation is an important milestone in a person’s life, and we want our students to have their moment in the spotlight,” said CHS Principal John-Michael Leggett. “We believe this plan is a good balance that will allow students to create a special memory while still following the recommended safety measures for the pandemic.”
Seating will be limited.Graduates and their invited guests, who must present a ticket and a completed Covid-19 form to attend the ceremony, will sit together by a cluster of five people per designated seating area. District officials request families follow CDC guidelines, wear a facemask, and continue to practice social distancing.
“Our parents and students have been very understanding, and we ask everyone who attends the ceremony to continue to take precautions,” Leggett said. “If you feel unwell, please stay home. KBST is broadcasting the ceremony live, and we will also have a live broadcast via our Facebook page.
“Please wear a facemask, and remember to keep six feet apart from other households. Graduation is an exciting, special time, but let us all do our best to continue to put safety first,” Leggett continued.
Seating will begin at 3:15 p.m. and families are strongly encouraged to come early. The Covid-19 screening form must be completed and a ticket present in order to gain admittance. Spectators will park on the home side. Gates will close at 3:55 p.m. and no one will be let in after this time.
Seniors will need to be at the stadium 45 minutes before the ceremony begins on Thursday, and they need to park in front of the high school.
“Once we begin conferring of degrees, each student will be escorted onto the stage, receive their diploma and then escorted off stage,” Leggett explained. “Then they will head directly to their cars to prepare for the senior parade.”
After the last senior receives her diploma and walks off the football field, family members should exit the stadium and return to their cars for the senior parade, which will begin shortly after the end of the ceremony.
Once the parade begins, seniors will drive through the stadium parking lot, exit by the school marque, and turn left on First Street. The parade will continue south on First Street and end by city hall.
“We are grateful for the support from our parents, students, and community to help make this a unique ceremony for a special group of seniors,” Leggett said.
Alternate plans have been made if bad weather moves into the area to prevent an outside ceremony or if there are changes in Covid-19 restrictions.