Archive for the ‘Area Information’ Category

Killeen Homes – Killeen Independent School District gets superior financial integrity rating for 2009-10

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Chris McGuinness
The Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen Independent School District officials reported Tuesday that the district received a top rating for financial integrity from the Texas Education Agency.

The school system earned a “superior achievement” rating for 2009-10, which is the highest designation possible, said Megan Bradley, the district’s chief financial officer, during a school board workshop.

“(The rating) really affirms the good quality of the work our business services office is doing,” said KISD Superintendent Robert Muller.

Texas has 1,029 school districts, and KISD was one of the 784 to receive the highest financial rating.

Bradley said the district met 20 of the state agency’s 22 indicators in the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, which gauges things such as a district’s fund balances, financial controls and student-to-teacher ratios.

At a public meeting at 6 p.m. on Oct. 11, Bradley will present the state agency’s complete findings and provide copies of the financial report.

Last year, the Killeen school district also received a “superior achievement” rating.

At the workshop, school board members also discussed, among other items, an application to send the Harker Heights High School Choir on a trip to Germany in 2013.

Temple Homes – First Bell Co. children’s hospital opens Oct. 4

Monday, September 26th, 2011
John L. Boyd III, chief executive officer and chief medical officer for Children’s Hospital at Scott & White, with scissors, helped organize the ribbon-cutting ceremony with fellow attendees for the grand opening Saturday at the hospital in Temple

By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald

TEMPLE — Scott & White officials cut the ribbon Saturday for Bell County’s first hospital for children.

A $40-million renovation transformed the former King’s Daughters Hospital into the new Children’s Hospital at Scott & White. It will begin services Oct. 4, but the weekend ceremony provided a sneak peek at the state-of-the-art facility.

The 400-staff facility is expected to serve about 2,500 patients a year, with the first ones arriving in four ambulances from Scott & White Hospital on opening day.

The new children’s hospital, which will serve 32 counties, has 64 beds for full-time care and 48 beds in the neonatal intensive care unity. It also is equipped with four operating rooms and an emergency room.

But the jewel in the new facility’s crown is a $2 million computerized tomography (CT) flash scanner that creates detailed images of the internal body.

Some CT scans can take six minutes to complete, which means doctors may have to sedate children so they will remain still during the procedure. The flash scanner finishes in 0.6 seconds, and that speed also minimizes radiation exposure to children, said Craig Davis, director of diagnostic and therapeutic services at Scott & White.

“It’s like getting off a Schwinn and getting into a Ferrari,” Davis said.

Shawn Kelly, supervisor of medicine and surgery, said the flash scanner fits into the hospital’s philosophy that the treatment of children should not be invasive, and staff members should work to create the most comfortable environment possible for their young patients.

In that regard, the hospital has play rooms and facilities that allow parents to remain at their child’s side. Parents will have access to kitchens and laundry rooms, so they can stay for extended periods of time.

“They’re not just visitors, they’re part of the care team,” Kelly said.

Officials expect the children’s hospital to have a $66 million annual economic impact on the area and create 150 new jobs in Temple.

Harker Heights Homes – Heights celebrates return of veterans

Sunday, September 25th, 2011
Spc. Chris Cunningham, right, shows Daezion Turner, 10, the first aid kit in a uniform Saturday during the Welcome Home celebration at Carl Levin Park in Harker Heights.

By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS — When J.J. Russell, 30, of Harker Heights, realized she had walked into a free event for veterans Saturday at Carl Levin Park, she began to tear up.

The former Army captain thought it was just another day at the park with her children and their friends, when she discovered the third annual Welcome Home celebration at Carl Levin Park in full swing, as crowds of people took over the park grounds to thank area veterans.

Hosted by the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System from the Veterans Affairs office in Temple, the event served to pay tribute to veterans and returning soldiers from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and other U.S. military actions in the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The free event also featured live music, vendor booths and several VA benefit booths, which provided materials to interested veterans and their families. In addition, local universities and colleges were on hand to provide veterans information about their educational options.

Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo, III Corps deputy commanding general of Fort Hood, spoke about the important role spouses and families play in veterans’ lives. He thanked all the branches of the military, which he referred to as “a team.”

Addressing the crowd of veterans and area residents who came for the event, DiSalvo said it takes “commitment, dedication and sacrifice to go in harm’s way.”

“What better way to honor our veterans and families,” Harker Heights Mayor Mike Aycock said as he waved to the large crowd of attendees. “I’m here to welcome all of you.”

Attendees were treated to an array of free food, courtesy of organizations such as the Knights of Columbus. Serving up fresh popcorn and colorful snow cones were members of the Squires, the youth branch of the Knights of Columbus.

“We’re here to serve our troops,” said Logan Melvin, 15, a Harker Heights High School sophomore.

The event had special significance for Melvin.

“A lot of the veterans here are our families,” he said. “My dad is in the Army. You really see how the military affects a community when you live in a place like this.”

Melvin said he wished he could personally thank veterans who served their country, and ask them questions about what it was like.

“I want to make them feel welcome,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t alive at the time, I still respect the sacrifices they made.”

“Our community is a military community,” said Harker Heights Councilman Pat Christ. “We need to do all we can to say thank you for what they’ve given and for what they’re going to give.”

Jarrett Lott, 59, served in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s. The former Army sergeant spoke proudly of the strong community of veterans and their supporters in the area.

“They sacrificed all,” he said, speaking of his fellow veterans.

“Some didn’t come back at all. They did everything for our right to freedom.”

Looking around at the large crowds gathered for the event, Lott smiled.

“It’s good you when you can come out to something like this,” he said. “To see so many people celebrate that you were a veteran.”

For Russell, the event was one more reminder of the meaning of service to her and thousands of others like her.

“People join (the military) because they want to serve. They want to give back,” she said. “They do it because they love it.”

The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System provides outreach and treatment programs designed to better care for a veteran’s mind, body and spirit. The organization treats more than 79,000 veterans annually.

Copperas Cove Homes – Copperas Cove Bulldawgs beat fumbling Tigers in early showdown of 12-5A favorites

Saturday, September 24th, 2011
Copperas Cove punt returner Orlando Thomas is grabbed by Belton’s Nate Mitchell on Friday night as Tiger defenders Michael Gall (62) and Kyle Battle close in at Bulldawg Stadium.

By Angel Verdejo
Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE — One quarter Friday night may have just determined the top of District 12-5A.

Belton and Copperas Cove went into their meeting as two favorites to contend for the district title.

But in 12 minutes, the Bulldawgs made a statement — first place will likely go through Cove.

The Dawgs took advantage of three Belton turnovers in the third quarter, turning a close game into a runaway 37-15 win at Bulldawg Stadium.

“We can’t turn it over — that’s the game. That’s the difference in the game,” said Belton head coach Rodney Southern. “You can’t blame one person but we can’t turn the ball over four or five times against anybody, and you dang sure can’t turn it over four or five times against Copperas Cove.”

The Tigers (3-1, 0-1) fumbled four times, losing three of them. Each time, the Dawgs (3-1, 1-0) answered with points — 17 in all. Cove’s defense also stopped Belton in the shadow of its own end zone. The Tigers were at the Cove 19 when Chris Rhodes intercepted a Peter Shelburne pass in the third quarter, returning it to midfield and stopping Belton from cutting into the Dawgs’ 31-7 lead.

“Our defense was able to play and sustain. I imagine they got a lot of yards,” Cove head coach Jack Welch said of a Belton offense that finished with 417 yards of offense. “I saw a lot of first downs, but they didn’t get behind us.

“They didn’t get behind us.”

Up 10-7 going into the third quarter, Cove went right down the field and scored. Brandon Hamilton, who ran for 100 yards in the quarter, scored from 2 yards out — the first of two scores in a seven-minute stretch. Hamilton finished with 141 yards and three touchdowns.

On Belton’s ensuing drive, the Tigers lost the football on first down to give it right back to Cove. The Dawgs took advantage of the gift as Orlando Thomas ran in the short 8-yard score, pushing Cove’s lead to 24-7 less than three minutes into the quarter.

Belton fumbled again on its next drive, and Cove turned it around for a 13-play, 76-yard drive capped by a Hamilton 9-yard score. Rhodes, Sean Harris and Darian Childers recovered the three Belton fumbles.

“I thought our defense played well and our coaches coached well,” Welch said. “It’s all together.”

Belton scored midway through the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 31-15. Donavan Williams went in from 8 yards out to cap an 84-yard drive. He had 59 yards to lead Belton while Shelburne completed 26 of 35 passes for 342 yards and a second-quarter touchdown to Durham Smythe.

“They made some plays — they’re a good football team,” Southern said. “I knew they were a good football team and so did our kids. We made some plays but we shot ourselves in the foot four times.”

Killeen Homes – Killeen’s Vive Les Arts Theatre kicks off season with a classic

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Dannea Guess, who plays the part of Maria in the musical, “The Sound of Music,” sings during their dress rehearsal Wednesday at the Vive Les Arts Theatre.

By Danielle Church
Killeen Daily Herald

Vive Les Arts Theatre will kick off the 2011-12 season tonight with a few of its favorite things.

Making its debut at VLA is “The Sound of Music,” which opens at 7 p.m.

More than 140 people auditioned for the 1959 musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, said Eric Shephard, artistic director at the theater.

“About a quarter of this cast are people I’ve never even met before,” he said. “I’m really impressed with my cast.”

On Tuesday evening, cast and directors worked out a few final kinks during dress rehearsal. They used every inch of the theater, including the foyer, to perfect their performance of the production about a woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a widowed Navy captain.

Back stage, Fort Hood resident Dorshan Millhouse, 30, walked around in costume for her part as Sister Berthe, a nun at the Austrian convent. Her 10-year-old daughter, Emmeline, is playing Louisa von Trapp, one of the Navy captain’s many children.

“This is my sixth play so far,” said Emmeline, standing beneath the stage rehearsing vocals with music director, Elaine Garcia. The young actress added that she’s “pretty confident” about opening night.

Killeen resident Scott Mather will play Max Detweiler, or better known to the von Trapp bunch as “Uncle Max.”

He said the musical is his 28th or 29th show at VLA, and he is excited about the debut production.

“They’ve been focusing a lot on the musical aspect of the show,” Mather said, mentioning that rehearsals have been pretty sporadic, catering to the needs of the vocalists.

Cast members said they have been rehearsing for about a month and are ready to showcase their hard work to an audience.

“I feel pretty good,” said Millhouse, noting that VLA takes cast members as they are and helps them build skills as theatrical performers.

Copperas Cove Homes – Copperas Cove, CCISD team up to showcase city’s progress, departments

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

By Audrey Spencer
Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE — The city, in conjunction with the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation and the Copperas Cove Independent Schoool District, will offer the State of the City address and host the Meet the City event Wednesday.

“It’s a great opportunity for citizens, individuals, businesses and leaders of other cities to see the growth and development coming to the city,” said Betty Price, vice president of the Cove Chamber of Commerce.

The State of the City 2011: Progress on the Horizon event will be held at 10 a.m. in the Lea Ledger Auditorium at Copperas Cove High School, at 200 S. 25th St.

The event will feature a presentation on the growth, development and progress in the community given by City Manager Andrea Gardner, according to a news release.

The tagline “Progress on the Horizon” comes from major projects started in the city this year, Price said.

“We’ve had two groundbreakings for two major highways,” she said. “There’s so much on the horizon, and we want to highlight the progress.”

The Meet the City event will be from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, located at 1206 W. Avenue B.

The event offers an opportunity for the community to meet employees with different city departments and learn what they do, and will include games, a bounce house and photos with Sparky and McGruff the Crime Dog, a release stated.

Hot dogs, chips and drinks will also be provided at no charge, and those who attend can register for a chance to win door prizes, such as Apple iPod products.

“We want to encourage every citizen to attend,” Price said. “You don’t always get to see or hear everything that’s going on in a city, and there’s quite a bit of development and constant improvement.”

Harker Heights Homes – Harker Heights encourages giving back to community

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

By Danielle Church
Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS — For local residents who like giving back through community service, some city departments have an array of volunteer opportunities and projects waiting.

On Wednesday, the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department will host its first volunteer call meeting.

“Everyone should learn how to help out their community,” said Heather Cox, activities center coordinator. “It’s the art of giving.”

The volunteer gathering is part of the city’s Reaching New Heights program that strives to get residents involved in enhancing their community.

At the meeting, people will hear about the parks department’s various community projects in October and later in the year. For example, the “Make a Difference Day” coat drive is designed to help Harker Heights students who are homeless or poor. A community litter pick-up and a canned food drive also are planned.

“Throughout the year, we always have people help,” Cox said, referring to a database she uses to keep track of volunteers. And, the upcoming meeting is an opportunity to expand the pool.

While the parks department doesn’t have an age or residency requirement, potential volunteers must complete a team-member packet and undergo a background check. Cox said children, 14 and younger, are required to have parental supervision while volunteering.

During Wednesday’s meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Activities Center, people will not only have an opportunity to sign up to volunteer for community events, they also will be able to offer ideas for city projects.

The Rev. Tim Worden, pastor at Disciples Church in Harker Heights, said the church will have a community service coordinator at the meeting. He said church members always are searching for new ways to serve the community and want to expand their volunteer efforts.

“We knew that the core thing is going to be about serving in our community,” Worden said. “To show people love in our community and to make it a better place.”

But the parks department isn’t the only place looking for community volunteers. The city library also offers ways to serve through various events and day-to-day opportunities.

Library Clerk Rose Ramon said there are two types of volunteers — those who are required to give the hours for educational requirements and those who choose to work on projects because of a personal desire to serve their community.

At the library, many volunteer efforts are divided by age groups. For example, children, ages 12 and younger, often help with kids’ programs, while teens participate in one or more volunteer committees. Adult volunteers, Ramon said are needed for book sales, other library events and to help at the front counter.

Potential library volunteers must meet the same requirements as those who give their time with the city’s parks department.

And, for people who are interested in animals and the police, the Harker Heights Police Department and Pet Adoption Center welcome volunteers, too.

Harker Heights resident Sue Wilson said she began volunteering at the adoption center the day it opened. “I am a complete animal lover,” she said. “In fact, I’m sitting here right now in a wheelchair (after having back surgery) taking care of the cats.”

Wilson said she believes humans should take time to properly care for animals and give them as much love and attention as possible.

In the near future, Wilson said she’s planning to start a campaign to encourage more people to volunteer at the adoption center to help with cleaning and walking the animals.

At the police department, Lt. Loretta Fox said potential volunteers must attend a citizen police academy.

But unlike other city departments, potential volunteers at both the adoption center and police department must meet stricter requirements. “With us, we have some stipulations,” Fox said. “You have to be 18 or older, and you have to be a resident or work in the city.”

Contact Danielle Church at

Want to volunteer in Harker Heights? Here’s how:

Parks and Recreation Department, call (254) 953-5493, or visit the Activities Center, 400 Indian Trail.

Library, call (254) 953-5491 or visit Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 400 Indian Trail.

Pet Adoption Center, call (254) 953-5472 or visit at 403 Indian Trail, on the corner of Clore Road.

Police department, call (254) 953-5400 or visit at 402 Indian Trail.

Copperas Cove Homes – Copperas Cove Officials break ground on highway project

Sunday, September 18th, 2011
Drilled shafts for bridge supports for a 1,200-foot valley bridge is shown on a stretch of the U.S. Highway 190 Southeast Bypass Project Tuesday during a tour of the construction site.

From staff reports

Officials Tuesday celebrated the construction of the new U.S. Highway 190 around Copperas Cove.

Numerous area officials and Copperas Cove and Coryell County residents gathered near the corner of U.S. 190 and Farm-to-Market 2657 to speak about the long-awaited project and to hold a ceremonial ground-breaking for the project that started in July.

“I can’t tell you how many times that I thought we had it and we didn’t have it,” Copperas Cove Mayor John Hull said as the second of about 12 speakers at the event. “I hope we get this finished in record time.”

The $42 million project will build two lanes for traffic for a nearly six-mile, controlled access highway. It will start just east of Constitution Drive in Copperas Cove and end west of FM 2657. It will leave space for a two additional lanes to be built later and it will take the U.S. 190 name. The current U.S. 190 will become Business Loop 190.

Killeen Homes – Killeen Independent School District board discusses impact of STAAR tests

Friday, September 16th, 2011

By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald

The Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday grappled with the realities staff and students will face this year as a result of new state testing standards.

KISD Chief Academic Officer Diana Miller and Deputy Superintendent Bobby Ott presented information to the board regarding how the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) would affect policies and graduation requirements in the district.

Passed as part of Texas House Bill 3, the requirements of STAAR will alter everything from the kinds of tests students will take at the end of the year to how their final grades and credits for graduation will be calculated.

“There are a lot of implications,” Ott said.

The STAAR goes into effect for grades three through nine this year and replaces the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.

High school students will be most affected by the implementation of STAAR, because it will require them to take one individual test per course as opposed to one grade-level test.

While students in the third though eighth grades will continue to take one grade-level test at the end of each year, high school students could take up to 12 tests between their freshman and junior years.

Miller said there will be three end-of-course assessments each in the areas of math, English, science and social studies.

Miller said STAAR tests will be more rigorous than TAKS tests and will be aligned to “college-ready” standards.

“It’s much more advanced than the current system,” Miller said.

The law also will require that end-of-course tests count toward 15 percent of a student’s final grade and must be tied to credit.

Miller and Ott produced a draft of a policy that would count a student’s two semester grade averages as 85 percent of their final grade, with the end-of-course assessments making up the remaining score.

The law also requires that school districts allow students to retake the STAAR tests at any time. The draft sets the requirement that a retake score would count only if it brought up a student’s final grade high enough to earn credit for the course.

“Could you imagine recalculating over and over again after a student had already received credit?” Ott said.

The transition between the TAKS and the STAAR looks to be a complicated one, and raised many questions among the trustees and district administrators.

Complicating matters further is the fact that the state has not yet set what scores students will need to pass the assessments, meaning the district cannot calculate how the scores will be translated to the number that will make up the 15 percent of students’ final grades. Miller said the standards are supposed to be set in February.

Alice Page, a Harker Heights High School math teacher and president of the Killeen Chapter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said she was worried because schools will have to administer both the old and new tests to different students this year.

Miller and Ott said only students in grades three through nine will take STAAR tests this school year. The old test will be phased out over the next four school years.

Despite her concerns, Page said she thought the STAAR’s requirement that all ninth-grade students pass in order to graduate would encourage students to take the test seriously.

In addition to discussing the requirements of the STAAR, the trustees also voted to accept an architect for the construction of new science labs for some of the district’s high schools.

Also, Bellaire Elementary teacher Jane Apodaca was recognized as teacher of the year by the Education Service Center Region 12.

Fort Hood Homes – Fort Hood Long Knife troopers back from Iraq

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
Sgt. Winston DeBlanc, Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, holds his daughter, Skylar, 3 months old, as his wife, Ruthie, holds their other daughter, Morgan, 18 months old, during the brigade’s redeployment ceremony Sept. 6 at Fort Hood.

By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald

The 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division colors returned to Fort Hood last week, signaling the official end of Long Knife troopers’ yearlong deployment to Iraq.

The tour was the brigade’s fourth and final to the country.

Long Knife commander Col. Brian Winski and Command Sgt. Maj. Antoine B. Overstreet unfurled the colors during a joint homecoming and uncasing ceremony on Cooper Field Sept. 6.

“Everyone should be proud of these soldiers,” Winski said, “many of whom are finishing up their second, third, fourth and even fifth deployments. (It’s) an incredible display of selfless service.”

Brigade troopers began returning from Iraq last month. All are now home from their advise-and-assist mission in Iraq’s Ninewa province, including disputed territory on the Kurdish-Iraqi border.

The last Long Knife troopers to return, the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, returned with Winksi and Overstreet.

Among the many homecomings occurring around them was that of Sgt. Winston DeBlanc, who met his third daughter for the first time.

“It felt awesome,” he said upon seeing 3-month-old Skylar who, perhaps overwhelmed by the circle of family and friends surrounding her, promptly spit up on his shoulder.

DeBlanc’s wife, Ruthie DeBlanc, laughed and joked, “Welcome home, Daddy!”

Ruthie DeBlanc and her other daughters, Delaney, 3, and Morgan, 18 months, waited for their own hugs following the homecoming.

DeBlanc, 26, deployed to Iraq two weeks before his wife found out she was pregnant, she said.

Ruthie DeBlanc said she got through the deployment and birth with the help of her church family from Killeen’s Memorial Baptist Church, including Meleaha Andrade, 25, whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan with the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

“To be on the outside looking in, I always love it when soldiers to come home and are reunited with their families,” Andrade said. “It’s humbling. Everything that you went through goes away when you see those white buses (carrying soldiers) pull up.”

The brigade deployed in September 2010, as one of the first to do so in support of Operation New Dawn.

Overstreet called the experience “rewarding,” following multiple combat deployments.

“I was looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “(And) we finished on a high note.”

Winski said he had the highest level of confidence” in Iraqi security forces’ ability to maintain regional stability Long Knife troopers helped to establish.

“The training wheels have been off for some time,” Winski said, noting that Iraqi forces had independently thwarted various attacks by insurgents “before they even happened” during the last year.

Winski didn’t have the same level of confidence following his first or second deployment to Iraq, he said. “I left before knowing I was coming back.”

Overstreet agreed.

“My thought was that I was truly leaving” this time, he said.

The mission wasn’t without its dangers, however.

Two troopers from the brigade’s 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment were killed in Iraq in January, when an Iraqi soldier they were training turned his gun on them.

The incident occurred at the all-inclusive Al Ghuzlani Training Center near Mosul, where brigade soldiers helped Iraqi security forces modernize their light infantry tactics.

Winski said the families of Sgt. Michael P. Bartley and Spc. Martin LaMar will be “forever a part of this unit,” and commended their fellow troopers for continuing with their mission following the accident.

Overstreet said other Iraqis’ horrified response “helped us gain that trust back” and go on.

One Long Knife soldier died in a non-combat-related incident.

The brigade officially relinquished its mission in the region to the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armor Division of Fort Bliss in El Paso on Sept. 4.

It is expected to close out American operations in the region ahead of a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline.