LISD Receives $5K in Life Grants

Fourteen LISD educators were awarded more than $5K in LIFE Grant funds yesterday. The grants were distributed to Capitol, South and ABC campuses to cover seating, musical instruments for music classes, library enrichment, and hands on learning opportunities. Additionally, Cristal Isaacs, LISD Public Relations Officer received a grant to promote LHS seniors attending college as their next educational endeavor. LIFE teacher grants are awarded once a year, and LIFE operates solely on donations and fundraisers. If you would like to help out students and teachers, you can make a LIFE donation at City Bank or Hockley County School Employees Credit Union.

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Levelland Zoning Town Hall Heats Up With Disagreements Over Ordinances

The Levelland Comprehensive Zoning review Board had a town hall meeting last night to gain public opinion on changes possibly being made to City Zoning Codes. This board was assembled due to the Levelland Zoning Code being largely unchanged since 1981. At the beginning of the meeting, Joe Shedd, City Building Inspector brought to attention that much had changed in 40 years, and that to be efficient, the City needed to update the law. On the docket for last nights meeting were Carport Setbacks, Food Trucks, and the temporary parking of RV’s, Storage containers, boats, etc. The room was mostly full with citizens present to speak their minds. This meeting was not broadcast on Facebook, like many City meetings because staff felt like they did not have the resources to cover questions asked both in person and online, but it was recorded so they may listen again at later dates to ensure everyone’s concerns are addressed.

First, carports were addressed. The city has certain specifics you must meet in order to construct a carport, and much discussion was had on putting carports in front of homes, as opposed to on the side or behind. Somethings were agreed upon, such as the carports needing to be anchored down, some were not, such as leaving a 5-ft side yard from the property line. Citizens felt as though since it was their property, if they wished to build right up to the property line, that was their right. However, Joe Shedd and other city officials stated that this 5ft. Gap was to ensure emergency personnel (Firefighters, EMS, Police) could gain access to the side or back of the house quickly in the event of an emergency. Other citizens stated the side yard was a good idea from the standpoint of fire hazard safety as well.

Next was Food Trucks, which are currently hardly addressed at all in the current laws. The only thing on the books as far as these and mobile business go is a permit fee, which Joe stated were lower than most surrounding cities. On this topic, the citizens and City staff seemed to be much more in alignment. The topic of requiring insurance as well as vetting operating staff came up. Additionally there is no recourse that the city has to capture sales tax from these entities, as most are registered to a home county. A suggestion of an operational fee to recover what would be lost in sales tax was proposed in an effort to keep more money in the local economy.

Finally, and most controversially was the topic of temporary parking of RV’s, Storage Containers and Boats in the driveways of homes. Currently the only ordinance on the books pertain to the parking of trailers, 18 wheelers, etc. on the city streets, however the City had received many complaints on this topic pertaining to RV’s and Boats blocking vision in driveways. Citizens were very vocally against ordinances preventing them from utilizing their driveways as they see fit. “I bought the land, I pay the taxes,” one citizen stated. The other citizens present shared this sentiment. The argument was brought up that if we started preventing RV’s and Boats being parked in driveways due to “blocked vision” then where will we draw the line? One citizen stated they drove a large vehicle that most likely blocked as much vision as her neighbor’s RV.

To no surprise, citizens of Levelland at last nights meeting were very vocal about the development of any ordinances that limited what they were allowed to do on their property, and the City was very thankful for their input. The next meeting of this board has not been set, but the city encouraged everyone present to spread the word about the comprehensive zoning review so they could get an even larger sample size of the population. “Bring two or three people next time” Joe Shedd said, in closing. “its the only way we can make good ordinances.”.

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City Council Covers Term Limits, Ladies’ Night Out And More Monday Night

Levelland City council had their regular meeting last night for a varied agenda, as well as a few statements from citizens. Firstly, in public comment Manuel Mendez took the podium to express his irritation with the state of City Park. He feels that City Park was not taken as seriously as other, smaller parks in town. Much of this stemmed from contractors hired to work on the park leaving messes after their jobs were finished, leaving clean up to the City workers. Next was Todd Paxton who was present to speak his piece on a certain agenda item in regards to term limits for city board appointments. He argued that some boards required continuity for more long-term plans to see fulfillment, and if term limits were enacted they could see disruptions. This proved to be the topic that dominated the Council’s discussion later in the night.

Also brought before the council was the annual service agreement with the Chamber of Commerce, which provides multiple services for the City. These include: assistance with reviewing application and administering the Hotel Occupancy Fund, operation of KLB, event marketing and coordination, and general services administration. Council Woman Engledow inquired about advertising for the community clean up day in order to get more people involved. Community involvement and reach was another topic discussed at length as well. Finally, the Chamber does not have final numbers from Cotton and Crude Festival, held September 25th, but will be able to share that data soon, said Chamber President Mary Siders.

Next, the American Rescue Plan Act Funds the city received may be bringing quality of life improvements to the city. A Request of Qualifications posting was proposed, which would essentially search for a firm to do an in-depth analysis of the City of Levelland’s infrastructure and identify needs for the future. This review will look at water, sewer, etc. and with the Council’s hasty approval should be finished by January or February. A selection committee was then assigned to review the firms that apply, consisting of Joe Cavazos Interim City Manager, Assistant Public Works Director Kevin Hurn, and Council Woman Mary Engledow, who volunteered happily for the position.

At a previous meeting, some council members brought up the idea of term limits to ensure new members of each city board came along to keep things fresh and ideas flowing. However, other members of the board argued that due to the long time period of acclimation when joining a new board and the long term nature of certain boards projects, that term limits would be detrimental. The Council spent quite a while deliberating between these philosophies of Ingenuity Vs. Continuity, and after spirited debate, it was decided a closer look was needed into what term limits would impact. As such, the issue was tabled until a later date.

The event application for Ladies’ Night Out, coming November 11th was also reviewed at the meeting. This was due to some of the merchants providing alcohol during the event. Even though any alcohol sales would be from these merchants and not directly affiliated with Mainstreet or the City, because alcohol would be present, the item must be brought before the Council. Council Man Myatt voted in opposition on the basis of alcohol being present, stating “im not against the event, I’m against the alcohol.” Despite this, the event application passed the vote, as did the next two items asking to close sections of the square for both Ladies’ Night Out in November and the Festival of Lights in December.

In the realm of COVID, Hockley County Emergency Management Coordinator Cole Kirkland finally had good news to share. Though total cases were on the rise, active cases in the County had dropped by 112 as of the meeting. Our Pharmacies were still leading the charge in vaccine distribution, and more than 18K vaccines have been distributed in the County. The population of the County that is vaccinated hovers around 52%

The City has a town hall meeting scheduled for tonight to gain public opinion on various zoning and code enforcement issues including: Food Trucks, Carport Setbacks, and the parking of Boats, RV’s Etc. That will start tonight at 6 in City Hall, all citizens are encouraged to attend.

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Police Present At LHS

Levelland PD as well as Hockley County Sheriff’s Office gave a presentation at LHS on the law and how it pertains to students. They warned about the long-term consequences of posting online, messaging strangers, as well as felonies and the Juvenile Detention System. Presenters were Officer Korey Foley, Police Chief Albert Garcia, Sheriff Ray Scrifres, and Officer Brian Haralson. This program hopes to warn students of the consequences of their actions and help keep students out of the system now and on into the future.

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New Subdivisions May Be On Their Way To Hockley County

Hockley County Commissioner’s Court had their regular meeting this morning in the Courthouse to go over the fire runs and presented platts for proposed subdivisions near Smyer and Ropes. There was quite a bit of talk going over the fire runs turned in by the City of Levelland. The Commissioner’s once again were seeing several runs which ended up being controlled burns that were not called in by property owners. Every month several runs are dedicated to these kinds of calls, and the Commissioners as well as Levelland Fire Dept. would like to remind citizens to call their burns into the Fire Department so they are kept up to date. There were 3 different subdivision plans brought forward tot he Court today. One for Brown Farms, which has been Platted for 44 lots, the Eagle Estates which are Platted for 112 lots north of Ropes, and Adkisson Farms, platted for 20 lots south of Smyer. These locations are most likely to be used as residential locations. All three plans were approved by the Court. The Commissioner’s Court has one more special meeting this week on Wednesday morning. This meeting will be a public hearing regarding the upcoming Redistricting process. The public is, of course, welcome to attends at 9AM in the Commissioner’s Courtroom.

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Levelland ISD Board Discusses Redistricting, Building Repairs

Levelland ISD had their monthly meeting as well last night to go over a robust agenda including facility maintenance and redistricting. Firstly, TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) Staff will be making annual visits to the district to update the district’s information on its dashboard page. This dashboard contains a cost analysis for each campus in the district showing the cost of repair vs. the cost of total replacement of the building, as well as a rating system on maintenance issues so the Board can prioritize the issues it thinks are most pressing. The identified needs were Parking lots, HVAC, Roofs, Electrical, Exterior maintenance, Interior maintenance, and playground equipment. This was a comprehensive review and covers all of LISD. The total cost of these repairs currently hovers around $12 Million. As it stands the district has $4 Million in funds for this purpose. A few plans were floated during this meeting including a possible Bond for the repairs and updates, or a Tax Note which would increase funds by approx. $5 Million. Nothing was decided at the time of this meeting.

With the new Census data from 2010 the district is needing to re-evaluate its single member district. Temporary Superintendent Kelly Baggett recommended using the districts retained law firm Underwood to handle the process, as they already have the districts previous data and are familiar with the district. The COVID 19 pandemic delayed the release of census data, which put redistricting on a compressed timeline. The District is hopeful that Underwood will have this process complete by the Christmas Holiday.

Also in this meeting was a report on TELPAS or Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System. This system test English proficiency in emergent bilingual students to ensure they are receiving the best education from the District. Predominantly it is used for Spanish speaking students, though there has been a small trickle of Vietnamese and German speaking students as well. Bilingual certified teachers are sorely needed for this program, and even though the district offers a signing bonus and other incentives to attract them they seem to be hard to come by.

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SPC Regents Talk Specifics On Driving School Coming To Levelland

The SPC Board of Regents had their regular meeting yesterday to go over an agenda mostly made of reports and updates on various aspects of the college. The census enrollment numbers show very slight growth for SPC at the rate of 0.4%. This may not seem like much, however after a rough year most other community colleges actually saw a decrease in enrollment. On top of that, campus housing is currently at roughly 82% capacity, showing SPC to be going strong even in the face of a global pandemic.

Also released in this meeting were the crime rates for last year on campus. Drug abuse violations remained steady, though there was an increase over the last couple of years that staff are attributing to a change in culture among students. Otherwise, crime was low last year as the pandemic shifted much of the curriculum to online learning.

A large piece of yesterdays meeting was going over the planned Workforce Development Center to be built in the rail park. This is part of SPC’s attempt to start funneling pieces of the curriculum out of the Reece center, and this move would see the Commercial Truck Driving School to Levelland. This includes CDL Class A, Class B bus Driving, Class B module, and police vehicle safety courses. The estimated cost of this project is $1.62 Million, but SPC staff are in the process of securing more that $2 Million in funding. A grant was submitted to TRUE (Texas Reskilling, Upskilling for Eductaion) to cover the classroom building. This portion would include 2 classrooms, 2 offices, a simulator room, student break room, and bathrooms. Next, and EDA Build Back Better Plan request was made in the amount of $1.4 Million, which would be dispersed in two phases if awarded. Phase One Grants need to be submitted by Oct. 19th, and Phase Two by March 15th. On top of these grant submissions, the LEDC has donated a 6.1 acre lot for the project. Even with 1.21 acres of concrete that will need to be poured for this endeavor, should everything go according to plan SPC is looking at a possible $485K budget surplus. This could possibly add up to a storage area for extra vehicles or equipment, additional classrooms, an oval closed track for police driving training, and an expanded training platform. The truck driving school will have new classes of up to 12 students every 2 weeks year round, School Bus Driving has new classes with 3 students every week, and the Cotton Module Driving will have a new class of 3 students every month.

Finally, with their eyes set on the future, a project was debated for expansion and improvement to the welding program SPC offers. An 8,000 sq. Feet shop was proposed to be added. This project would be quite expensive, early reports show, but until an architect is contacted and plans created its unclear just how expensive. SPC is already in the works for pursuing donors to assist with costs, as this program has seen a high level of interest recently. An entire class of 16 could have been added this year if the space was available, and this shop would add 21 welding bays to the program.

The regents moved their next meeting in November to the 18th, and as always this meeting will be open to the public.

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Hockley County Voting Locations

Hockley County Elections Office has released its locations for Early and standard voting locations. All early voting will take place in the same location: Hockley County Election Office, 911 Austin St. Levelland, Tx. This will run from October 18th through October 29th.

Standard Voting Locations are as follows:

Precinct 14: Ropesville City Hall, 107 Hockley Main, Ropesville Tx.

Precinct 15: Gary Cain Insurance Office, 3392 S. State Road 168, Smyer Tx

Precinct 16 & 11: Christ United Methodist Church, 1704 College Ave. Levelland, Tx

Precinct 24: Sundown High School, 511 E. 7th St. Sundown, Tx

Precinct 32, 21, 33, 35, 36 & 45: Hockley County Tax Office, 624 Ave. H, Levelland, Tx

Precinct 43: Whitharral Lions Club Building, 2nd Street and Highway 385, Whitharral Tx

Precinct 44: Anton city Hall, 400 Spade Circle, Anton Tx

Precinct 46: Smyer Elementary, 401 Lincoln St. Smyer Tx

Election night will be November 2nd

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LIFE Foundation Receives Funding For LHS Dual Credit Courses

Levelland LIFE Foundation received a $3K grant form the Community Foundation of West Texas to help Levelland students pay for their dual credit classes taken through South Plains College. LIFE reimburses students the cost of their dual credit courses taken through SPC to remove barriers to higher education and keep students involved. In 2020, the Community Foundation and affiliates awarded more than $5.7 Million in grants and scholarships.

LIFE Board Member Russell Vest, the author of the Grant and LIFE Board Member Donna Pugh, LIFE Board Member Kylie Boggs, and The Community Foundation Representatives Denise Oviedo and Bailey Saey
Photo Credit: Cristal Isaacs, LISD Public Information Officer
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Book Tasting With Levelland Intermediate

LIS Librarian Abi Swain held a “Book Tasting” to showcase the 2022 Texas Bluebonnet Book Collection and all the new books and genres coming to the LIS library. The Texas Bluebonnet Collection is a collection of books selected for kids grades 3-6 and includes both fiction and non fiction. The event hopes to expose students to books and genres they might not have found on their own. Students made a rating list for books they were interested, which came just in time for LIS Parent Read Night.

Phot Credit: LISD’s Cristal Isaacs, Public Information Officer

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