Nancy Lester receives 4-H Silver Clover Award
By Anthony Munoz, CEA-Ag/NR
A local 4-H leader was honored last Thursday night in San Angelo at the Silver Clover Banquet. The banquet was held at Zentner’s Daughter where volunteers from all across the district’s 23 counties gathered. Nancy Lester, a local 4-H leader along with 26 other individuals were honored during the Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s annual banquet.
School lunch price goes up, portions get smaller
The Schleicher County ISD board of trustees met Monday, August 13th and voted to increase the cost of a school lunch from $1.85 to $2. The increase came in response to pressure from federal regulators who are requiring the district to raise the price to at least $2.51 over a four year period.
The school offers free and reduced-price lunches for children in low-income households. (See public notices on Pages 8 & 9)
The trustees also learned from Food Service Director Ima Bruce that serving sizes will be smaller this year. Bruce explained that a federal initiative, headed by First Lady Michelle Obama, has mandated a reduction in serving sizes as a way of combating childhood obesity.
Bruce said that children PreK through 8th grade may only receive two total ounces of protein in a meal. That includes meat, meat substitute, eggs or cheese. The same students are also restricted to 10 total ounces of protein in any given week.
High schoolers have it a bit better. They are restricted to no more than 12 ounces of protein per week.
Bruce noted that more restrictions are coming and told the trustees that she has little if any leeway in implementing the regulations.
She explained that students will no longer be offered a cookie for dessert. Instead, Bruce said, dessert will consist of some sort of fruit.
Trustee Michael Mertz expressed dismay at the report. Other trustees agreed and questioned the government’s rationale.
“Kids today are not becoming obese on school lunches,” Superintendent Collins said. “To the extent it is happening, it is happening after school or at home.”
Collins went on to note that there is very little the school can do except follow the federal guidelines.
On a positive note, Collins and Bruce explained that the cafeteria offers an ala carte line, which is not subject to the restrictions. The cost of food is slightly higher there, with students being charged for each individual item they select.
In other business, the trustees proposed a tax rate of $1.0934 for the coming tax year. The rate is down from $1.17 last year, primarily due to a $78 million increase in property values.
Some trustees expressed concern that the increase in property values wouldn’t really net the school any additional money.
Superintendent Collins blamed the state’s school funding formula.
“We’re trapped like rats in an elevator at funding levels for 2005-06,” Collins said.
The superintendent went on to say that SCISD cannot increase taxes above an absolute limit and any money the district might gain from higher property values is siphoned away under the state’s recapture plan.
Recapture is a phrase currently used to describe the state’s school funding plan formerly known as “Robin Hood.” Under the plan, money is taken or recaptured from property-rich school districts and allocated to poorer districts.
In a related item of business, the board acted on a recommendation by Collins and voted to purchase attendance credits from the State of Texas for the 2012-13 school year. It was explained that the action is just one way the district can return money to the state or “equalize its wealth.” The complete cost won’t be known until the end of the new school year when SCISD’s average daily attendance is computed.
Collins notes that the district sent the State of Texas just over $89,000 last year.
Technology Director J.D. Doyle began the meeting by giving the trustees an overview of the school district’s computer and network systems. He noted that the trend these days is toward “cloud computing” where information is stored on the Internet, instead of locally on servers.
Doyle went on to note that the district is in good shape but needs to be vigilant about keeping up with the technology curve.
“A lot of what we have, people can’t see,” Doyle explained. “It’s the infrastructure, the servers and switches that sit behind a locked door and make the system work.”
Doyle added that he expects less emphasis on specific computer devices.
“We have to be prepared to serve desktop computers, laptops, notebooks, iPads, iPhones and Droids,” Doyle said. “They all use different operating systems and that is a big challenge.”
SCISD Athletic Director Danny Wilhelm was on hand to discuss a new Concussion Oversight Team being put in place by the district. He explained that all of his coaches have attended concussion training this summer.
On the recommendation of Wilhelm and Superintendent Collins the board voted to appoint four members to the Concussion Oversight Team including Randy Matthews and Cory Turner, both licensed athletic trainers at San Angelo Community Hospital, Dr. Warren Conaway with West Texas Medical Associates, and Bobby Romatowski, Physician’s Assistant at Schleicher County Medical Center.
It was noted the team will establish and oversee the district’s concussion policy. Also, benchmark tests will be conducted on each student athlete before the athletic season for use in determining if they have sustained a concussion, either in workout or in a game.
For his part, Coach Wilhelm explained that a trainer will be on hand for every varsity football game. He noted that his coaches have also been trained to recognize the symptoms of a concussion.
“Our policy will be, when in doubt, sit ‘em out,” Wilhelm said.
In other business, the board reviewed and approved the district’s financial reports as presented by Finance Director Ray Ballew. They also approved the minutes of two previous meetings and set a public hearing for 6 p.m. on Monday, August 27, 2012 after which they plan to adopt a budget and set a tax rate.
Before adjourning, the trustees approved the 2012-13 Student Code of Conduct as presented by EHS Principal Robert Gibson. They also passed a resolution authorizing new signatures on the district’s bank accounts.
Board President Kurtis Homer presided over Monday’s meeting with trustees Michael Mertz, Kriss Griffin, Berta Nicholson, Holly Griffin and Kirk Jones in attendance. Trustee Lupe Sanchez was absent.
Two injured in rollover north of town
Two Sweetwater women were transported to Schleicher County Medical Center for treatment on Saturday, August 11, 2012, following a one-car rollover some two miles north of Eldorado on U.S. 277. A male passenger was apparently uninjured.
According to an accident report filed by Schleicher County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Herbert, Angel Marie Hogue, 19, was driving northbound on U.S. 277 in a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier when she lost control. The car crossed the southbound lane before overturning and coming to rest on it wheels on the west side of the road.
Deputy Herbert responded to the scene, as did Chief Deputy George Arispe. Emergency personnel from the Eldorado Volunteer EMS also answered the call.
A number of witnesses and bystanders also assisted at the scene.
Hogue was placed on a back board and transported to Schleicher County Medical Center for treatment. So was her sister, Cristina Hogue, 24, also of Sweetwater.
A male passenger, Darren Mark Thunehorst, 30, of Eldorado, reported no serious injuries.
Deputy Herbert indicated on his report that failure to control speed was a contributing factor in the accident.
Reagan County deputy gunned down on duty
Editor’s Note: Schleicher County deputies went to Big Lake last week to assist during a 17-hour standoff with a suspect in the murder of RCSO Deputy Josh Mitchell. The man had barricaded himself inside his father’s home. The story below is reprinted from this week’s edition of THE BIG LAKE WILDCAT.
Reagan County Deputy Sheriff Josh Mitchell, 26, was shot and killed in the line of duty on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, leaving friends, family and co-workers in a state of shock.
Marcus “Mark” Wade Madison, 43, of Big Lake, was the primary suspect in the shooting. He died Tuesday at Shannon Hospital in San Angelo, after sustaining extensive injuries to his head from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Shortly after Mitchell’s shooting, a 17-hour standoff with Madison ensued even as emergency and medical personnel battled to save Mitchell’s life.
Madison refused to surrender and barricaded himself inside his father’s home located at 1108 North Main Street in Big Lake.
Reagan County Sheriff Jeff Garner reports that Deputy Mitchell had gone to talk with Madison regarding a complaint. The sheriff says there was not a warrant involved and that the encounter with Madison was only to speak with him about something of a “personal nature.”
Mitchell had been accompanied by Deputy Destin Wilha, but Wilha was called away on another matter when Mitchell radioed to say that he had located Madison in his back yard.
“It is my understanding the officers were going to speak to him only,” said Garner who added that there was no intent to arrest Madison at that time.
Deputy Mitchell reportedly found Madison in the back yard of the home sitting on an old couch.
The sheriff explains that as Deputy Mitchell walked around the back of his patrol unit toward the back yard, Madison allegedly used a rifle to shoot Mitchell in the side/abdomen.
At that point, Mitchell immediately called for backup and fled eastward to a nearby yard where officers and EMS volunteers found him.
Mitchell was transported by ambulance to Reagan Memorial Hospital where efforts were made to stabilize his condition so he could be taken by AirMed-1 helicopter to San Angelo.
Even as Doctors Sudolcan and Williams and emergency room personnel fought to save Mitchell’s life, his fellow officers set about tracking down the alleged shooter.
James Madison, the suspect’s father, was home at the time of the shooting. He left the house through the front door and cooperated with law enforcement officers.
Word soon filtered out into the community that Deputy Mitchell had died before he could be transported to San Angelo.
Even as the standoff with Madison was underway, Mitchell’s body was taken to the Lubbock County Medical Examiner for autopsy.
It is unclear exactly when, but at some point early in the standoff with Madison, Reagan County officers entered the rear of the home in an attempt to find and arrest him. At that point, he allegedly opened fire. A brief exchange of gunfire ensued and the officers left the house, never having located Madison.
From that point, the investigation was handed over to the Texas Rangers and Texas DPS. A perimeter was established, power to the home was turned off and portable lights were erected to illuminate the scene. Meanwhile, residents of nearby homes were evacuated as a DPS helicopter circled overhead.
During the evening, officers from many neighboring law enforcement agencies streamed into town to offer their assistance. Some of them took over routine patrol of Reagan County so that local officers could concentrate on helping arrest Madison.
Negotiations began at the scene and contact was made with Madison, but only briefly through a window.
A remote control robot was sent into the home during the early morning hours of Thursday, August 2nd, in an effort to locate Madison, but officers still couldn’t determine exactly where he was hiding in the darkened home.
Sheriff Garner says Madison would not answer phone calls nor would he speak with negotiators as night gave way to morning.
During the night two armored personnel carriers had arrived at the scene, so had a DPS SWAT team from Austin.
A second robot was sent into the home Thursday morning in hopes of determining Madison’s location. The effort was unsuccessful.
At about 11 a.m. SWAT officers deployed concussion grenades and tear gas into the home. They then entered the rear of the home and systematically worked their way through the residence. Madison was found hiding in a bedroom closet. He had obvious injuries to his face and head.
Sheriff Garner reports that Madison had attempted to take his own life, apparently with a rifle, but no one is sure when the suicide attempt took place.
Despite Madison’s extensive injuries, he was able to stand, walk out of the residence, and surrender. Garner emphasizes that SWAT officers never fired their weapons and that Madison surrendered of his own free will. He walked out of the house, hands in the air, and was immediately taken into custody by waiting officers.
Numerous weapons were reportedly removed from the home once officers gained entry.
Madison was transported to the Reagan County/Florene Miller Watson Airport where he was placed aboard AirMed-1 helicopter for transport to Shannon Hospital in San Angelo. Texas Ranger Nick Hanna accompanied Madison on the flight.
Following Madison’s surrender, Sheriff Garner commented on the death of his deputy. “He was a fine young man and an excellent officer. He would do anything for anybody.”
Garner added that he did not know why Madison would shoot Mitchell. “This was so senseless — absolutely no need for what happened.”
“I can’t think of a time that any of us ever gave him a reason to want to be violent toward us,” Garner said of Madison.
Marcus “Mark” Wade Madison had an extensive police record.
Brown County jail records and Brown County Sheriff’s reports indicate that Madison had been a resident of Lake Brownwood and that he has a history with Brown County law enforcement. He was arrested by Brown County deputies less than a month ago and charged with Assault/Family Violence with Injury. He was also charged with Resisting Arrest, Obstruction of Justice and Retaliation.
Madison was convicted in 2003 of Evading with a Vehicle by a Tom Green County jury and sentenced five years probation. The same jury acquitted Madison on a charge of Assaulting a Police Officer.
For his part Sheriff Garner explained that it had been quite a while since his department had had any dealings with Madison, which he said were mostly alcohol related or similar.
Madison clung to life in the ICU at Shannon Hospital for five days. He was under the constant guard of DPS officers.
Word came late Tuesday afternoon that Madison had died of his wounds.
Sheriff Jeff Garner said that an autopsy of Madison’s body was scheduled for Wednesday in Lubbock.
Before he died, Madison was charged with Attempted Capital Murder. It should be noted that when the charge was filed against Madison, officers believed Deputy Mitchell was still alive. Also by that time, Madison had allegedly fired on other RCSO deputies.
The Texas Rangers are leading an ongoing murder investigation, a task now complicated by Madison’s death.
Reagan County officers escorted Mitchell’s body back to Big Lake Tuesday afternoon, August 7, 2012.
A funeral service was planned for Deputy Josh Mitchell at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 8, 2012, at First Baptist Church of Big Lake. Overflow seating has been arranged at Reagan County Middle School Mall for a closed-circuit television broadcast of the service.
A law enforcement tribute service was scheduled to be held at Reagan County Park after the funeral and graveside services were planned for Stiles Cemetery.
Among the agencies assisting Reagan County were: Midland SWAT, Midland PD, Lubbock SWAT, Howard County SWAT, DPS, San Angelo PD, Schleicher County, Irion County, Sutton County, Crockett County, Upton County, Pecos, Midland, Lubbock, Glasscock, Sterling and Coke counties, Border Patrol, US Marshals, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Rangers, and the 112th District Attorney’s Office.
Eldoradoans help people of Haiti
By Jim Schwobel
Because of the generosity of two Eldorado churches, First Baptist Church and Church of Christ, and other private donors, the people in the southeast corner of Haiti now have safe drinking water. Collectively, over $24,000 was donated towards the installation of three solar water well systems that bring clean water to a cluster of villages that previously had to get their water from an irrigation ditch.
EHS chapter serves as TAFE State Historian
Submitted by Angela Case
Texas Association of Future Educators officers’ conducted the state board meeting in Austin on July 12, 2012. At this meeting the TAFE board, which consists of Archie McAfee, TASSP director, Alejandro Arguello TAFE Executive Director, and two secondary school principals, three elected advisors, four officer schools and advisors, students experienced how a board meeting is run using parliamentary procedure.
Eldorado HS was represented by Whitney Perez whose office is the State Historian School. Her duties included leading the pledges and assisting the other officers in their quest for themes and t-shirt designs. As officer schools their job was to come up with several new themes for the 2013-2014 school year. Whitney, Kevin Cruz of Eishehower High School, and Isabel Santos of Aldine High School presented their ideas to the TASSP board of directors and three were selected. TAFE students of Texas, at the state meeting, the “Teach Tomorrow Summit”, in February, 2013 will vote on these three themes to determine the theme for the 2013-2014 school year. This theme will appear on all the state t-shirts in 2014. TAFE speech contestants will use this theme to compete for the state scholarships.
At the May 2012 officers retreat held at Lake Travis, student officers from all over the state, got together and came up with t-shirt designs using our 2012-2013 theme, “Plant the Seeds for the future”. Whitney, Kevin and Isabel discussed the various shirt designs and several were presented to the board. Officers discussed the shirt design and alterations to the design. It was voted on and approved and will be printed on the t-shirts for the 2000+ attendees at the 2013 state “Teach Tomorrow Summit”, meeting.