Mayor Meets with Some Citizens Tuesday Night

A meeting was held Tuesday night at Levelland City Hall between Mayor Barbra Pinner and some citizens of Levelland following a racially charged post that was shared by the Mayor on her personal Facebook page over the weekend. The Mayor released an apology via a press release on Monday and also issued an in person apology to the group Tuesday night.

KLVT News has also learned that several people present at the meeting Tuesday night were not citizens of Levelland and were quoted by a Lubbock media outlet,

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Obituary: Ricky Don Gunter, 67 of Levelland

Funeral services are scheduled for Ricky Don Gunter, 67 of Levelland. Services are scheduled for 2:00 pm on Tuesday, June 30th in the Krestridge Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow in the City of Levelland Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Krestridge Funeral Home in Levelland.

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Sundown ISD Faculty Member and School Board Member Indicted for Misuse of Funds

Two Hockley County residents, Michael VanWettering and Loralee VanWettering have been indicted by a Hockley County Grand Jury for the misappropriation of funds between $2,500 and $30,000. The two were arrested and released the same day from the Hockley County Jail after they posted bail of $2,500 each.

The indictment indicates that, in September of 2019 through January 2020, the two defendants misappropriated funds belonging to the Sundown High School Student Council Snack Bar. The two defendants are suspected of misappropriation of $2,500 to $30,000. The case was investigated by the Texas Rangers, after being called in by the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office in January to investigate the Theft of Currency from Sundown ISD.

School administrators believe the two misappropriated $11,000 from the snack bar account. Michael VanWettering was a teacher for Sundown ISD and supervised the Snack Bar Account, his wife Loralee VanWettering was a Sundown ISD School Board member and was suspected of assisting in the misappropriation.

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Obituary: Billy Gene Smith, 89 of Levelland

An outdoor memorial service is scheduled for Billy Gene Smith, 89 of Levelland. Services are set for 11:00 am on Tuesday, June 30th outside Smith’s residence at 822 N. Highway 385 in Levelland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent guidelines issued by Governor Greg Abbott, there will be limited seating available. All who choose to attend will be required by the family to wear a mask. For those who cannot attend, the service will streamed on and on the KLVT Radio Facebook page. Services are under the direction of Krestridge Funeral Home.

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Two Additional Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Hockley County

The Texas Department of State Health Services has notified Hockley County Judge Sharla Baldridge of two new cases of COVID-19 in Hockley County today.

According to the Health Department they are in a 30-40 year old Levelland resident and a 20-30 year old Levelland resident.

With the new cases it brings Hockley County to a total of 37 cases with 27 recoveries and 1 death leaving 9 active cases.

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Levelland Mayor and City of Levelland Issues Statement

Levelland Mayor Barbra Pinner issued a statement Monday afternoon following the sharing of a Facebook Post on her private Facebook page over the weekend. The statement is below:

For the past five years, I have had the privilege of being the Mayor of the City of Levelland, a city that I truly love and cherish. While I love and cherish many things about our community, the most important of all are the people. For this very reason, my heart aches as I have hurt many members of my own community by sharing a post from another individual on my personal Facebook page. It was never my intention to minimize the pain and suffering that African Americans have endured throughout history and are currently enduring. I love all people regardless of race or color. Please know I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused many of you. The harsh words in that post did not come from my mouth or my heart, and it was my mistake to share them. Because I am a Christian woman, I stand before this community and ask
for forgiveness. In my role as Mayor, I am held to the highest standard and there is no excuse for sharing the post that hurt so many of you. While I cannot change the past, I can impact change in the future. Moving forward, I vow to take extra time to think of all of the people that I have been elected to represent. I will consider the tone, language and validity of the information that I post or share on social media. I commit to being a positive part of the important changes we need in not only our community, but our nation. By coming together now and uniting as one, we can better our community and society for generations to come.

Following this statement being issued by the Mayor, Levelland City Manager Erik Rejino issued a statement on behalf of the City of Levelland.

The City of Levelland’s most valuable asset is its tremendous workforce and the
community it serves. This community and organization is encompassed by men and
women who are committed to excellence in their daily lives. The City of Levelland
fosters a culture that embraces a diverse workforce, condemns discrimination in all its
forms and takes the lead in providing a safe workplace for all its employees.

The City of Levelland does not condone the offensive Facebook post shared by Mayor
Barbra Pinner on her personal Facebook page over the weekend. The post that was
shared used unacceptable language and was hurtful to many citizens in our community
and employees in our organization.

That post is in no way a reflection of the attitudes or beliefs of the City of Levelland’s leadership or staff. The City of Levelland will continue to encourage and facilitate unity in our community to provide a better way of life for future generations.

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Early Voting Now Underway for the July 14th Primary Runoff Election

Early voting is now underway for the July 14th Primary Runoff Election.

Early voting runs from Monday, June 29th to Thursday, July 2nd from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Monday, July 6th to Friday, July 10th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There will be no voting on July 3rd or July 4th for the Independence Day holiday. Early voting in Hockley County is taking place at the Hockley County Elections office at 911 Austin Street in Levelland.

Special COVID-19 Safety Guidelines will be enforced. Those guidelines include:

Hand Sanitizer will be available and voters MUST use sanitizer upon entry to the voting location.

Masks are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED but NOT required

Only Three (3) voters will be allowed inside the polling location at a time.

Practice social distancing and maintain 6 foot apart from other people

For voters’ safety, workers will be cleaning ALL voting equipment between each use.

Voters may bring their own marking instrument to mark ballots. (Black Ballpoint Pen)

If you are sick, running a fever or feeling ill, you MUST vote curbside. To vote curbside: call the Elections Office at (806)-894-1105 to request a ballot be brought to your vehicle. If you are at higher risk for COVID-19, feel free to request curbside voting for your safety.

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Early Settler’s Day Event Postponed until September

The Levelland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Staff have announced that the 59 th Annual Early Settlers Day Festival and Community Celebration has been postponed due to the risks of the COVID 19 Virus. The event, always held the second Saturday in July was scheduled for July 11, 2020, however after careful consideration; the Board of Directors determined that a date change was necessary. Early Settlers Day 2020 will be moved to Saturday, September 19, 2020.

Jim Mara, Chairman of the Levelland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors said “the safety and health of our patrons, attendees, volunteers, vendors and staff are our number one priority. At this time, it is a huge risk having large groups together anywhere. Many of the vendors for our event come from areas in the state and region that are showing increased cases of the COVID. We do not want to chance the well being of our community. Our hope is that the environment will be safer for large events
by September, if not, necessary considerations and adjustments will be made accordingly closer to that date.

Mary Siders, President of the Levelland Chamber of Commerce noted that Early Settlers Day is a time to celebrate our community and many of our honorees are in the high risk age group for the COVID virus, therefore, we found it made the most sense to move the event to a later date.

The Levelland Chamber of Commerce has organized and hosted this event as an annual fundraiser for its programs and has been discussing possible date changes prior to the onset of the COVID19 virus. Siders said, vendor numbers and attendees have been on the decline due to the temperatures on summer pavement, so this will allow us that chance to make a move to a cooler date. In addition, many new attractions
planned for July canceled due to the COVID19 so our hope is that they will be able to join us for the September date.

Much time and thought was put into the new date change. Siders said that fall is an active time in West Texas and several elements were considered like other event dates that would compete for our vendors, high school and Texas Tech football. Chamber of Commerce officials sought out expertise from event insurance providers, the Texas Chamber of Commerce Professionals and Texas Festival & Events authorities prior to recommending the decision of a date change.

Registered vendors will have the option of transferring their registration to the new date of September 19, 2020 or issued a refund. The Chamber of Commerce staff will visit with event sponsors allowing options desired.

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Governor Abbott Orders All Bars Closed, Restaurants Go Back to 50% Occupancy

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order this morning limiting certain businesses and services as part of the state’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. This decision comes as the number of people testing positive and the hospitalization numbers have increased. The number testing positive is now above 10% which is a number Governor Abbott previously stated would lead to further action.

The order includes the following:

A. All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 noon on Friday, June 26th. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

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

C. Rafting and tubing businesses must close.

D. All outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments.

This order is in effect until further notice by the Governor. Any and all violations of the order is subject to a $1000 fine.

Governor Abbott said “As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the actions in this order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”

Click below to read the full Executive Order:

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Four New Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Hockley County–Mallet Event Center, Possible Exposure Site

Hockley County Judge Sharla Baldridge announced Thursday evening that the Mallet Event Center has been listed as a possible exposure site from an event Monday night.

According to information from the Hockley County Judge Thursday night, four new cases of COVID 19 have been confirmed in Hockley County residents by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The four new cases are in Levelland residents. One individual between the ages of 50-60, two individuals between the ages of 40-50 and one between the age of 30-40.

The Department of State Health Services also confirmed one new recovery in Hockley County.

Hockley County was also notified that a resident of Lubbock who tested positive, had attended an event at the Mallet Event Center on Monday night while not showing any symptoms. The individual developed symptoms within 48 hours and then tested positive. The individual indicated to Health Department Representatives that they did not have direct contact with anyone while at the event and did not sit near anyone at the event. This does not mean the individual was exposed at the Mallet, rather the Mallet could be a site of exposure. Hockley County Judge Sharla Baldridge told KLVT News that Mallet staff had thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the entire Mallet center after every event including the Monday night event.

Based on the new information, Hockley County has 35 total cases, 27 recoveries and 1 death leaving 7 active cases.

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