Hockley County Endowment Awards Four Grants to Non-Profits

HockleyCoEndowment-logo2The Hockley County Endowment met Tuesday and discussed applications for grants submitted for the 2018 grant cycle.  The endowment awarded over $12,000 in new grants to four area 501c3 organizations at the end of the meeting.  The amount is in line with the amount awarded last year.  Board Chair Michael Wiiest said they received eight applications and were able to fund four.

The four organizations funded include:

Hockley County Veterans Assistance Office, $2000, Veteran’s Day Breakfast
The event is held to honor veterans and show them how much, as a community,
they are appreciated. Goal for this year is to get younger veterans to attend as

Levelland Ministerial Alliance, $1500, National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer brings people of all races, religious affiliations, and
backgrounds together to pray over our communities, families, businesses, first
responders, and government. It gives a set time to set aside the different
philosophies and backgrounds to come together as one to pray.

South Plains Rural Health Services, $500, Mental Health Assistance Project
This project will address the pressing need of providing accessible counseling
services to people in Levelland and Hockley County with a specific focus on
individuals struggling with substance abuse issues. These funds will cover first
time counseling sessions for 50 lower-income patients with their initial therapy

Wallace Theater, $8808, Generation Ziglar Live Training
Young people today are growing up in a void of true leaders and facing a crisis of
understanding the importance of a positive self-image, healthy relationships and
the values of goal setting. The Wallace Theater is collaborating with Generation
Ziglar to launch an innovative youth empowerment program to equip the youth of today with the tools and skills needed to solve the crisis they are facing of self-
image, relationship and goals.

HCE board member Alycyn Keeling recused herself from all grant award deliberations as Executive Director of the Wallace Theater and Chairman Michael Wiiest and board member Tanner Terrell recused themselves from discussions on the grants to the Hockley County Veterans Assistance Office as members of that planning committee.

Organizations receiving grants will be contacted with verification
paperwork and grant agreements at the end of July and the Hockley County
Endowment is planning a grant presentation ceremony in conjunction with
Levelland Lobo Football in September.

If you are interested in serving on the Hockley County Endowment, please
contact Board President Michael Wiiest at (806) 893-9341 or any board member.

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Hockley County Commissioners Begin Budget Talks

Hockley County Commissioners have started budget talks for the 2019 fiscal year.

Commissioners are reviewing a request from Covenant Hospital Levelland, who has requested over two million dollars in addition to their current $600,000 received each year from the county.

Covenant officials discussed alternative health models with Commissioners.  One of those models include an outpatient health system.  It could include a free standing ER as well as medical clinics, it was noted that currently the average census of inpatient patients at the local hospital is 4, however, during the cold and flu season it increases to over 15.  It was also noted that if the inpatient census falls below 2 the hospital could lose their medicare contract.  Covenant Health says the additional two million dollars is needed to help the facility break even.  Hospital officials reported a loss of over two million dollars in 2017.  Officials told county commissioners they do not expect to solve the problem this year, however, they said by this time next year they need a solution in place.  Covenant Health stated that the local hospital is sustainable for the short term, however, long term changes are needed.  Covenant Hospital and Covenant Levelland EMS employs approximately 190 people.

The District Attorney’s office has also requested that money be put back in his budget to pay for an Assistant Attorney in his office.  It was noted this was taken out of the budget for the current fiscal year as the position was not needed, however, it is needed now.  The sheriff’s office also discussed some items that may be needed in the future.  Those include some unfunded mandates that may be enacted.  They also will be replacing some Kevlar bullet proof vests, as some are reaching their end of life.  They also will be replacing some video cameras which was damaged by a power surge.

Hockley County will continue evaluating the budget for 2019 in the coming weeks.  The new budget will be adopted in late 2018.  Commissioners like other taxing entities are waiting on final property tax values to be released by the appraisal office in late July.

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Obituary: Stephanie Jesko, 48 of Levelland

Stephanie JeskoFuneral Services are scheduled for Stephanie Jesko, 48 of Levelland.  Services are set for Thursday, July 12th at 10:00 am in the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Levelland.  Rosary Services are scheduled for Wednesday, July 11th at 7:00 pm in the Krestridge Funeral Home Chapel in Levelland.  She passed away on Saturday, July 7th.

For more information:  klvtnews.wordpress.com/obituaries

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Cochran County Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Seizure

cochran-county-sheriff-genericThe Cochran County Sheriff’s Office deputies made a traffic stop on Tuesday afternoon.

According to information released by the Sheriff’s office, deputies seized a small amount of marijuana as well as some Cannabidiol (CBD) Gummies.  It was field tested and tested positive for THC.  The sheriff’s office said in a statement on Tuesday, “CBD products contain THC which is still illegal in Texas.”

The Cochran County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate and additional charges are possible.  No further information has been released at this time.

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Levelland City Council Holds Regular Meeting

cityLevelland City Council met Monday night in a regular meeting.

The council approved allowing city employees to join the Hockley County School Employees Credit Union. It was noted that this will be pending approval of the State Banking Board. It has been approved by the board of the Hockley County School Employees Credit Union.

The council approved the resale of property at 206 Ave. J for $5,200. The bid was from Rita Rhodes Clinton and she will have 90 days to bring the property into compliance with all city codes.

The council also received an update from the City Secretary and Human Resources Director on her department. Beth Walls is the City Secretary and Human Resources Director for the City of Levelland for the past several years. She is a registered municipal clerk as required as a condition of her employment with the City of Levelland. She has been certified since 2010. She is currently enrolled in the Certified Public Managers course at Texas Tech University. She has a part time administrative support person, Ida Davis who helps in the department. She has over 30 years of work in non-profit service. The City Secretary is required to attend all City Council meetings, record management, Open Records requests. She is also the city Elections Administrator and also handles all Human Resources duties for the City of Levelland and handles all new employee orientation as well as benefits for all employees. She also handles payroll entries into the computer system and is the back-up for the payroll clerk. She also is the Risk Manager for the city and acts as the Fleet Manager for all vehicles owned by the City of Levelland. She also handles all workers comp claims and works with department heads and physicians on modified duty plans for employees injured on the job. She is also accounting for all property and equipment owned by the city. She pointed out that the office is always working on employee retention and recruiting. She notes “it’s important to make the work inviting but at the end of the day, most people still take a job for the pay and benefits.” She also discussed the employee benefits for city employees, including medical insurance including a portion of or all of it paid for by the city. Employees receive up to $615 per employee for employee medical insurance. Employees can use the remaining amount to purchase dental or vision insurance plans. They also provide retirement benefits through the Texas Municipal Retirement System and provides for Cost of Living Adjustments in the retirement system. The city also can elect to purchase Disability policies, accident policies as well as Cancer Care and Heart Care plan.

The council also took action to approve bids for the replacement of the playground at the Sherman Street Park. It is the largest playground in Levelland and is the only one that accommodates ages 2 – 12. City staff recommended approving a bid from Playwell Group for $99,059.41. It has a number of free standing features. Parks Director John Cobb said this group is one of the largest playground equipment manufacturers in the world. Council member Breann Buxkemper asked if the city come in under budget could the city add some benches and shade area around the playground area. City Management noted that it is being paid for through grant funds and they will have to see if that is a possibility. The City Manager noted that the city will likely be under budget and will look at the possibility of adding some of those features.

The council also approved a bid of $39,650 for a walking trail in Levelland City Park. The bid is for a concrete walking trail, done by Rodriquez Construction of Levelland and the city will also install a park bench and trash can along the trail. This is also being paid through grant funds which have been in the works for over 3 years through Texas Parks and wildlife and National Recreational Trails Fund.

The council also approved the quarterly investment report for the city.

The council also approved opening a new bank account to account for everything related to the moving of the water line on south highway 385 and will also be used for payment of the loan through Levelland State Infrastructure Bank Loan.

The Mayor also appointed Breann Buxkemper to work with her and city staff to review the fire service agreement between the City of Levelland and Hockley County.

Following a lengthy executive session on the contract for City Manager Erik Rejino. The city accepted an amendment to the contract for the City Manager.  The amendment would shorten the severance package to a 6 month package and would eliminate any wording which related to a with cause termination.  The severance package will increase 1 month for each year of employment.

The council then recessed the meeting and will re-convene on Tuesday at 6:00 pm for a budget work session.

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Levelland Police Seek Help in Locating Missing Levelland Teen

missing levelland girl 07102018Levelland Police are asking for the public’s help in locating 14 year old Rylie-Ann Michelle Guthrie of Levelland.

Levelland Police said the 14 year old was reported as a run away to their department on Sunday, July 8th.  She was last seen by her family at home on Sunday, July 8th according to information from the Levelland Police Department.

If you have any information that could aid local police in locating the girl please contact the Levelland Police Department at 894-6164 as soon as possible.

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Obituary: Farris Keller, 90 of Levelland

Farris KellerFuneral Services are scheduled for Farris Keller, 90 of Levelland.  Services are set for Monday, July 9th at 11:00 am in the Second Baptist Church in Levelland.  Visitation will be held at 10:00 am, prior to the service.  He passed away on Saturday.  Burial will follow in the City of Levelland Cemetery.  Services are under the direction of Krestridge Funeral Directors of Levelland.

For more information:  klvtnews.wordpress.com/obituaries

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