City of Levelland and Levelland EDC Recognized with Star of Southwest Award


The director of the South Plains Association of Government was in Levelland Monday night to formally present the Star of the Southwest Award to the Levelland Economic Development Corporation and Levelland City Council.

The Levelland Industrial Rail Park was recognized with a 2017 Star of the Southwest Award during the Southwest Region Economic Development Association’s Conference, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in July.  Ten projects from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were recognized for their accomplishments.  All of the winning projects were funded, in part, through support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Austin regional office.

The Levelland EDC and the City of Levelland received a grant in the amount of $3.3 million from the US Economic Development Administration to go with $5.3 million in local funds to create the rail park in 2010.  Thus far the project has created or retained over 70 jobs and has generated over $25 in private investment.

The Southwest Region Economic Development Association is a voluntary association of executive directors of Councils of Governments and Economic Development Districts across the five state region covered by EDA’s Austin Regional Office.

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Obituary: B.J. Roberts, 82 of Levelland

BJ RobertsFuneral Services are scheduled for B.J. Roberts, 82 of Levelland.  Services are scheduled for Wednesday, August 23 at 2:00pm in the George Price Funeral Home Chapel.  Burial will follow in the City of Levelland Cemetery.  He passed away on Friday, August 18.  Services are under the direction of George Price Funeral Directors in Levelland.

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Levelland City Council Approves Zone Change on Property

cityThe Levelland City Council met Monday night for a regular meeting.  At the beginning of the meeting the council held a public hearing on a zone change request for property on south highway 385 for a convenience store.  the property is 6.25 acres of land located on the corner of Equalizer road and Highway 385 in front of the Oxy sports complex.  Following comments from a number of citzens, the council met in executive session and then approved the zone change on a unanimous vote on a first reading.  The full report from the meeting is below.

The council held a public hearing on the proposed tax rate. The council has proposed a tax ceiling of .78 cents per $100 propserty values. The effective rate which would raise the same amount of tax as this year is 75 cents per $100 property value. The tax ceiling is the highest rate the council will approve, they could approve a lower rate. No one made comment in the public hearing.

The council then held a public hearing on a zone change for property on south highway 385.  The City of Levelland acquired 60 acres of land for the Levelland Oxy Sports complex. Half of the land is being used for the sports complex while the other half is currently being leased to a farmer for farming. Their is approximately 6.25 acres of land which is not needed for the Oxy sport complex. Their has been interest since 2014 for business interests on that property. Their has been a request by local businessman Chad Read for the property. The property is located on the corner of 385 and Equalizer Road.

During the public hearing, Cody Poage, spoke saying that he was bothered because no one would ever say what the 6 acres of land was for, quoting city representatives as saying “they would never sell.” He stated his business would be interested if the property was for sale. He also pointed out requirements for drilling a well. H.L. Shakespeare who lives on Ave. H near the property spoke next,  He asked, when you go to a ball game, the parking lot is full and he is concerned about traffic saying, “we don’t need a truck stop.” He is opposed to the location, saying “this is a residential area and should be kept that way.” Ann Capps spoke, echoing remarks that Poage made saying that the city told voters they would not sell the property. She said “we want our homes to maintain their value.” She said we need more information on what is going in the location. Barry Thoms spoke saying that if the land is going to be sold, it should be sold in open bid, although, he stated he is in support of anything that would bring revenue to the community. Mary Shakespeare spoke saying she would be next door to the truck stop and no one wants to live next to a truck stop. She said “we do not want a truck stop next door to us.” Billy Mack Palmer spoke saying “we need truckers in Levelland, and we have five acres on highway 114 near Alamo, even noting that he has been asked to put one on that location. He also noted, the ball park generates money and he is feared that the additional traffic and safety hazards will cause people to not come to the ball park any longer. The Planning and Zoning Commission recently held a public hearing and is recommending that the property be rezoned. Chad Read, a Levelland businessman requesting the change spoke concerning the project. He said it is a convenience store which will make it more accessible for large trucks to get in and fuel up with diesel. He noted that the Mallet center hosts many rodeos and the participants have trailers that they need to be able to get in and out of a facility. It was noted that it is not a truck stop with parking, the store will not allow any overnight truck parking. He also stated that the facility would not be open 24 hours a day. It would be closed at night, the proposed hours are 6am to 10pm. He also said “I am local and we can work problems out.” Todd Lathem spoke saying he understood the concerns that people have, he also noted that it is hard to get trucks in and out of many locations in Levelland.   He said “anytime we are talking about adding business to Levelland and bringing more revenue in I will support it.

Following a 50 minute executive session the council reconvened in open session. The council approved a motion to approve the zone change on the 6.25 acres of land to a Business 2 zone from Single family residential zone. It was approved on a unanimous vote on the first reading of the ordinance.

The council then held a budget work session. They discussed some of the court special funds. It was noted that many of those funds are governed by state law how they can be used. They do not generate much money and for 2017-2018 the city is not planning to have any expenditure out of those funds. They also discussed three special police funds, which the police chief has sole authority to authorize spending. Chief Albert Garcia spoke concerning the Law Enforcement Officer Safety fund. He said the city will have some funds allocated by the state this year for the fund. He also spoke concerning drug seizure funds from cases that the city’s drug officer assisted in.

It was also noted that recently, John Agnew has recently approached city management about aquiring the tractor and shredder which was built in to next years budget and they are needing to move those funds to this years budget and go ahead and purchase the tractor. Councilman Myatt questioned about contracting the mowing out and start charging homeowners more if the city has to mow it. It was noted that a lien will be placed on property but that does nothing unless a person tries to sell. It was noted that the city does contract some of it out. Councilman Max Ledesma, asked what part of town the weeds are the worst, the answer is all over town and Atmos Energy has compounded the problem in alleys in the University Heights area doing work on the gas lines in that area. Councilman Myatt expressed his frustration saying, “it is frustrating that the city is spending $36,000 on a tractor to mow other peoples grass.” Assistant City Manager Erik Rejino noted that the budget has been increased to fund for property clean up. Councilman Jim Myatt, said that property owners are going to see tax increase because of property values increasing, which is set by the Hockley County Appraisal District. He is not in favor of 78 cent tax rate. He wanted to know if budget could be cut and asked if city staff has talked to department heads. Rejino, pointed out that administration cut almost a million dollars from the budget before it was ever brought to council. He also noted that if the budget is cut any more, the council will have to make decision on cutting services. He used the two fire trucks which are in the budget as an example, noting, that recently 5 out of 12 of our fire trucks were out of service and if we do not purchase the fire trucks their would be an impact in fire protection for Levelland and Hockley County. Myatt noted that 65% of fire runs are in Hockley County and information is being gathered and a memo will be going to the Commissioners court to advise them of the situation.  Myatt said, “I will not vote for this budget as it is being proposed.” The council will vote on the budget and tax rate September 11.

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Levelland ISD Holds Regular Meeting Thursday

Levelland ISDThe Levelland ISD School board met Thursday night for a regular meeting.  The board began the meeting with recognition’s and memory of F E Shaheen.

The board recognized FE Shaheen for his service to Levelland ISD school board for 9 years and as President for three years. Board President Tania Moody said, “this district had a big loss and this community had a big loss today.”  Shaheen passed away in San Antonio on Thursday morning following an illness. A plaque recognizing his service to the district was presented to Jeff Pharis with Levelland EMS.  Shaheen owned and operated Levelland EMS for many years.

The board approved consent agenda items, including the appointment of T-TESS appraisers for the district as well as the appraisel calendar for teachers.

The board also approved the monthly financial report with little discussion. It was reported that currently the district is in good shape on the bond. There should be enough money to do everything that was promised in the bond. It was also noted that there are some repairs to be done at Middle School and Carver and there was some money available in the bond that was able to be transferred to pay the deductible for the insurance on damages. There was approximately $75,000 in damages to those two buildings in the July 4 wind storm. The district is still waiting on a payment from the state, which may not come until September. Chief Financial Officer Lance Terrell, said the revenue will be recognized in this fiscal year however.

The board also approved the student code of conduct. It was noted, their was very little change. One of the changes involved suspension of a second grade student or lower. Currently the principal can make that decision, however, beginning next year the behavior would have to meet certain legal guidelines. Another change involved defining illegal knives on campus. Any knife with a blade 5 ½ inches or longer is an automatic expulsion required by law. A knife with a blade shorter than that will be handled through regular disciplinary measures. The full student code of conduct will be available on the website for review and all parents will be required to sign off they have received the code of conduct. There was also some clarification on the DAEP program which also includes a physical exercise element. There will also be counseling for students assigned to the DAEP program, especially students who are sent for drug and alcohol offenses.

The board also approved the Extracurricular Code of Conduct which applies to all students who particiapate in any extracurricular activity. It was noted their was no change from the current year.

The board also approved Unemployment Insurance through Texas Association of School Boards. This was the renewal of the current policy.

The board also received a report on summer school. 397 students completed summer school in 2017, that is down from 460 students in 2016. It was noted that summer school costs approximately $250,000 and nearly $200,000 was paid for through an ACE grant which will not be available next year. It was noted that part of summer school is required by law, however, part of it has been put in place for the betterment of the student.

The board also reviewed the budget for 2017-2018 fiscal year. It was noted that certified property values for the district were up $30 million from preliminary values. This dramatic increase allowed the district to go into 2017-2018 with a balanced budget, which is significant. This is the first year in atleast three years that the district has had a balanced budget. The proposed tax rate for the district for 2017-2018 is a total of $1.388 per $100 property value. That is down from $1.408 this year. That maintenance and operations tax rate is the maximum $1.04 while the bond payment tax rate is .348 cents per $100 property value, that is down two cents from the current year. It was noted that due to appraised values going up taxes on an average home will be increased even with the lower tax rate. Appraised values are not set by the school board, they are set by Hockley County Appraisel District Board of Directors. The board will host a special meeting on Monday, August 28 at 6:00pm for the required budget and tax rate hearing.

The board also reviewed the current district fund raisers which have been approved by district administration. The question was asked by President Tania Moody, “if all requests for fund raisers are being approved.” According to the Superintendent, most all are approved. Some groups have had more than one fundraiser, mainly due to raise money to pay off debt, to avoid the district having to supplement.

The board also received a summary report from the STAAR test from Spring 2017 test administration.

The report indicated in:

Algebra I 84% of students tested met standard

Biology 83% of students tested met standard

English I 63% of students tested met standard

English II 62% of students tested met standard

US History 86% of students tested met standard

It was noted that the district’s goal is to always be above the state and regional averages. Staff meets over the summer to institute goals for the next year. It was noted that there is work to be done in 7th grade writing. The district has hired a teacher for that position this year. It was pointed out that their was a long term substitute in that position last year for most of the year. The district is also working on reading scores and will move to a balanced literacy movement. All teachers have been through extensive training over the summer. The state is also working on reading scores because they are down state wide and do not meet the state’s expectations. There was a slight increase in standard from last year and special education students are tested on grade level with some accomodations and they are held to the same standards as other students. There was also a significant increase in scores from the high school students.

The board also received a personnel report from district administration.

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Obituary: F.E. Shaheen III, 59 of Levelland

N:Dummy Pages6 COL TEMPLATE.pmdServices are scheduled for F.E. Shaheen III, 59 of Levelland.  Celebration of Life services are scheduled for Saturday, August 19 at 4:00pm in the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Levelland.  He passed away on Thursday, August 17 in San Antonio following an illness.

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EMS Memory of FE

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Obituary: C.J. Golightly, 63 of Levelland

CJ GolightlyFuneral Services are scheduled for Chushanrishathain “C J” Golightly, 63 of Levelland.  Services are set for Thursday, August 17 at 2:00pm in the Austin Street Church of Christ in Levelland.  Burial will follow in the City of Levelland Cemetery.  He passed away on Thursday, August 8 in Levelland.

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Brownfield Teacher Arrested on Charge of Improper Relationship with Student

letstalkA Brownfield teacher has been arrested on a charge of Inappropriate Relationship with a student.

According to the Terry County Sheriff’s Office, Tyson Jones, was arrested Friday by the Texas Rangers and taken to the Terry County Jail on a charge of inappropriate relationship with a student.  He was released on a $20,000 bond Monday, August 14.

Brownfield ISD released a statement saying, “As of Monday, August 14, Jones has resigned from his position with the school district.”  They went on to say that the district immediately notified the Texas Education Agency licensing office, once they learned of the allegation.  The statement said, they will continue to cooperate with state and local authorities in the investigation.

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