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Kingsville Record to continue under new ownership

The 113-year history of the Kingsville Record and Bishop News will not, after all, end with this week's edition. A transfer of ownership of the newspaper by King Ranch Inc., which has owned it since 1953, is being finalized this week.

Kingsville Area Industrial Development Foundation Chairman and Kleberg Bank President Brad Womack said the Foundation is in the process of taking over the newspaper from King Ranch.

"The community has really rallied behind the newspaper. With support from folks like Mayor Sam Fugate, Dr. Mark Hussey and Robert Underbrink we have gained great support for this transfer," Womack said.

Hussey is president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Underbrink is CEO of King Ranch Inc.

Although the King Ranch will no longer own the newspaper, Underbrink said the company will provide support for it as it continues.

"I grew up in Riviera, and for my entire life the Kingsville Record has been part of my home. I know its importance to the community, and I'm pleased that it has an opportunity to continue," Underbrink said. "King Ranch is currently working with the new leadership to ensure as seamless a transition as possible, and is committed to supporting the newspaper moving forward."

The final issue under the King Ranch will be Dec. 12. The new organization will begin publishing with the Dec. 19 edition, so subscribers will not experience any interruption in their service.

"We are currently in talks with the staff, encouraging them to stay on with the new entity," Womack said.

Tim Acosta has been named editor and publisher of the new Kingsville Record. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and previously worked as an editor for the newspaper from 2011 to 2017. He has worked as a journalist in the Coastal Bend for nearly 15 years, including with the Corpus Christi-Caller Times, the Nueces County-Record Star and Corpus Beat Magazine.

Current Publisher Christopher Maher will remain with King Ranch and will oversee their Vis-

itor Program and archives.

"Tim Acosta is the finest journalist I have ever met," Maher said. "He has a passion for the Kingsville community, and I know the newspaper will be in good hands with him at the helm."

In the two weeks since the initial announcement was made to close the newspaper, many businesses and individuals in the community have expressed their desire to see the newspaper continue.

"We will need the business community to step up their advertising commitments throughout the year, every year to ensure that the Kingsville Record remains viable and vibrant. We would also encourage residents to consider a subscription as we strive to increase readership and continue to improve the quality of the product," Womack said.

"Sometimes we don't appreciate what we have, until we lose it," he added.

Executive director of the EDC and President and CEO of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce Manny Salazar has officially backed the project.

"The chamber supports our business community and understands how important a local newspaper is to small business. We are excited and proud to be a part of the solution," Salazar said.

TAMUK also has made commitments financially and in-kind to support the endeavors of the Foundation pertaining to the Kingsville Record.

Both the City of Kingsville and Kleberg County also have made commitments to support the longevity of the Kingsville Record, according to Fugate and County Judge Rudy Madrid.

"Losing the newspaper would be a huge loss to the community," Madrid said. "I think about the children, the schools, the obituaries, the legal notices" that would be lost without a newspaper, he said. "We need to come together as a city and county" to keep the newspaper, Madrid added.

The mayor said, "A community the size of Kingsville, which is the county seat, with a major university, a naval air station and the King Ranch should not be without a newspaper — and Kingsville will not be without a newspaper."

Womack said he wanted "to really thank King Ranch and Robert Underbrink for working with the Foundation to make this happen. Their support is necessary and appreciated."

Toys for Tots seeks volunteers, donations

With Christmas just a few weeks away, the Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign is moving into its final stretch as organizers ready for the last push to receive applications, accept donations and call for volunteers to help ready gifts for needy children this holiday season.

"The applications are rolling in, we've gotten some real good donations so far," Co-coordinator Rebecca Sanchez said.

Started in 1987, the Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign collects monetary and new, unopened toy donations from October to mid-December every year. Donations are used to provide underprivileged area children gifts of toys for Christmas.

The campaign covers children living in Kleberg and Kenedy counties, as well as in Bishop.

"The last I checked, we were over 1,000 kids," Co-coordinator Stefanie Perryman said. "We typically serve between 1,500 and 2,000 (children), so that number will go up."

To receive toys, families must fill out and submit an

online application. The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 10.

Online applications can be found on the campaign's website at kingsville-tx.toysfortots.org, under "Request a Toy – Family and Individual Request Form."

After accepting an agreement to not auction, sell or take donated toys out of state for distribution, applicants can fill out their contact information along with the name, gender and age of up to 10 children receiving toys.

Applicants are also required to provide a verification letter (Form TF0001 or Form F1009) to qualify, which will need to be presented at the time of pick up during the distribution period.

Perryman said for families without Internet access, the Kingsville LULAC Manor Apartments, located at 1220 N. 17th St., is offering assistance with filling out and submitting applications.

"They'll let (families) use their computers, and sit down with them to help fill out the application," she said.

Toy and monetary donations are still being collected through Dec. 14, with organizers scheduled to be in front of the Walmart store at 1133 E. General Cavazos Blvd. in Kingsville this Saturday, Dec. 7, from noon to 4 p.m.

A "last chance to donate" event, with the help of the deputies from the Kleberg County Sheriff 's Office, will be held next weekend at the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce, located at 635 E. King Ave., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14.

"So come on out and make a donation," Sanchez said.

Perryman said the campaign is also asking for volunteers to help fulfill toy requests for applicants from Dec. 16-20 at the campaign's headquarters, located at 2005 N. 14th St.

"We're really going to need a lot of volunteers," she said.

Perryman said the headquarters will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. that week for volunteers to help fulfill orders. She said any amount of time they are able to assist "will be a big help."

"For however long you can," Perryman said. "Even if it's just for 30 minutes, we can get so much done in that amount of time if there's enough people to do it. Every little bit helps."

"And it's open volunteering," Sanchez said. "You don't have to call us beforehand. Just show up on those days, between those times, and somebody there will get you started."

Volunteers must be at least 14 years or older, Perryman said.

For more information, to make a donation or to volunteer, contact Perryman at (417) 496-6071 or Sanchez at (361) 474-0710.

The campaign can also be reached on Facebook by typing "kingsvilletoysfortots" in the site's search bar or in messenger.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

Annual Children's Snow Day set for this Saturday

With close to 40 tons of snow, two slides and a variety of holiday activities, the City of Kingsville's annual Children's Snow Day scheduled for Saturday at the Downtown Pavilion is set to be the biggest one yet.

"That's almost twice as much snow as last year," Susan Ivy, director of the Kingsville Parts and Recreation Department, said.

A part of the La Posada de Kingsville activities, Children's Snow Day gives local youth an opportunity to play around in trucked-in real snow. Snow activities include a play area, where children can build snowmen and throw snowballs around, and snow slides where attendees ride down a snow-covered incline using an inner tube.

Ivy said close to 1,500 people attended the last year's snow day event.

"That's about 500 more people than the year before," she said. "And because of that, people were waiting a long time to go down the slide."

To help alleviate wait times, Ivy said they have added a second slide and increased the free-play snow area for this year's event.

"So clearly, we needed more snow," Ivy said. "This

year, we will have about 80,000 pounds of snow compared to about 45,000 pounds last year."

Other activities during the event include free popcorn and games provided by Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg, craft activities, photos with Santa Claus, face painting and more.

Snacks and other concessions, such as hot chocolate, cookies, hot dogs and Frito pies, will be on sale during the event as well.

As the Children's Snow Day event continues to grow every year, along with increase in activities and programs the Kingsville's Parks and Recreation hosts annually, Ivy said they are seeking partners and sponsors to assist with funding.

"We focus our events on healthy lifestyles, drug and alcohol prevention and antibullying," she said. "We also try to showcase outdoor education and information about local and area attractions that provide fun and healthy activities for kids and families to enjoy."

Ivy said rather than going out to the community multiple times during the year for each event, the department is instead asking potential partners and sponsors to donate one time to help fund events throughout the year through the Healthy Family Partnership.

"That includes our summer programming, Spring Break, the Festival de Loteria (children's area) and activities that we do during the Christmas holiday," she said.

Current sponsors include Thomas J. Henry Injury Lawyers, who are presenting this year's Children's Snow Day, Christus Spohn, La Posada de Kingsville, King Ranch, the Kleberg County Sheriff 's Offce, the Kleberg County Attorney's Specialized Crimes and Narcotics Task Force and District Attorney John Hubert's Offce.

Funding from the Kingsville Parks and Recreation Department's budget for special events and recreation programs supplements these funds, Ivy said. She said this year's Healthy Family Partnership still has sponsorship levels available at the $100 $2,500 range, which include various perks for advertising and acknowledgment depending on the level.

"And (sponsors) will be credited at all of our events throughout the year," Ivy said.

For more information or to become a sponsor, contact Susan Ivy at (361) 221-8705 or sivy@cityofkingsville.com.

Children's Snow Day will be at the Downtown Pavilion in Kingsville this Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

Ranch Hand Weekend concert raises $42,715 for charity

Kleberg Wildlife program director co-authors Sand Sheet field guide

A field guide featuring information and photographs of hundreds of plants and grasses found in the South Texas Sand Sheet, co-authored by Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute program director Forrest Smith, was published last month and is now available for purchase.

"We're very happy with it," co-author Forrest Smith said. "It's a good-size book that's not a burden to carry around or throw on your truck dashboard and put it to use. That's what it's meant for."

Spreading across several area counties, including Kenedy, Kleberg, Brooks, Star, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties, the South Texas Sand Sheet consists of sand and silt brought inland by the wind, creating a mix of wetlands and desert terrain that serves as a habitat to a variety of diverse plant life.

"It's a region dominated by large ranches that are very conscious of the value of wildlife and habitat conservation," Smith said. "So as a result, it's probably one of the most intact natural systems in Texas at that scale."

Smith is the Dan L. Duncan Endowed Director of the South Texas Natives and Texas Native Seeds projects at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

Along with co-author Dexter Peacock, a retired lawyer, rancher and Sand Sheet landowner, Smith said it took the pair more than four years to complete their book, "A Photographic Guide to the Vegetation

of the South Texas Sand Sheet."

"We went out to fields and ranches numerous times in different seasons and different years," he said. "And everything that was conspicuous to see, what someone would notice, we tried to include."

Smith said because of its location and other geologic factors, plant diversity within the South Texas Sand Sheet is "very, very high."

"It's a great area that has a lot of plants that are found nowhere else," he said. "It's unique and important, but that also makes it a challenge to identify a lot of the plants that are special to that area."

Smith said because of that challenge, he and Peacock saw the need for a field guide to the native plants found in the region, especially since a resource specific to the vegetation found in the South Texas Sand Sheet did not exist.

"We included all the types of plants that grow in that area," he said. "Grasses, flowers, shrubs, trees, cacti, vines, all included in one volume. We designed it to be a kind of a 'one-stop shop' so you don't have to carry five (separate books) with you when you're out in the field."

Smith said for landowners in the South Texas Sand Sheet, invasive grasses — vegetation that are not native to the area — are "a big concern, particularly for wildlife-focused ranches."

"So we made sure to include all of those species," he said.

For the native wildflowers, Smith said they chose to organize them in the field guide by color rather than by botanical classification.

"So if you can see or know that it's a pink flower, you can go to that section of the book and find it relatively quickly," he said.

Smith said it was important for them to make the field guide accessible to readers who "may not have a traditional botany background," which included utilizing hundreds of photographs he and Peacock took while drafting the book as well as pictures Smith took throughout his 20-year career working in the region.

"The great majority of people who hunt, ranch, recreate or visit that region may not have that background," he said. "And traditional science resources to identify plants are of no use to them because they're often text-based.

"So we really strove to include pictures of what that plant would really look like as you see it from the view of your truck window, along with maybe a closer, more detailed shot in cases of a certain identifying characteristic."

Smith said they also worked to write the descriptions "in a way where non-scientists will understand them."

"Which was a challenge for me, taking the lingo that I use professionally and translate that to something a novice in plants would be able to read and understand," he said. "And Dexter, he was not trained in classic botany or taxonomy, so working together was a good combination to get to what we wanted with the descriptions."

"A Photographic Guide to the Vegetation of the South Texas Sand Sheet" was published through Texas A&M University Press on Nov. 25. It is available for purchase online through tamupress.com and amazon.com, as well as at Barnes and Noble bookstores.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.