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'Honoring our loved ones'

More than 200 people came out to the Chamberlain and Santa Gertrudis Cemeteries to celebrate and honor lost loved ones during Turcotte-Piper Mortuary's Dia de los Muertos event on Saturday.

"For our first year, it went really well," funeral director and event chair Mari Moreno said. "Everybody had fun."

Moreno said Turcotte-Piper Mortuary saw an interest from the Kingsville community to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. She said they worked in conjunction with the cemeteries to host an event that "brings awareness to the celebration in a fun event."

"Death isn't always grief and sadness," Moreno said. "It also about celebrating and honoring our loved ones."

Saturday's event included performances from the Folklorico dancers and the H.M. King High School Mariachi band. There was also a community altar created by Texas A&M University-Kingsville art students featuring submitted photos of deceased friends and family.

"There was a lot of involvement from our community, which is what we wanted," Moreno said. "And we also encouraged people who had loved ones buried at (the cemeteries) to make offrendas or altars at their graves."

The event also featured a prayer service led by Father Joseph Lopez from St.

Gertrude the Great Catholic Church in Kingsville.

"And he and other priests went out to the individual graves of families that were there and did blessings," Moreno said.

Moreno said they have already received feedback for next year's event.

"And I've received phone calls from people that are hoping it becomes a traditional event here in Kingsville," she said.

In addition to the events at the cemetery, Jaime Garza and the Kingsville Boxing Club hosted altars, entertainment, food and a loteria at the location of the former El Jardin Restaurant.

For the fourth year, the owners of the Salazar Building on Richard Street also hosted a Dia De Los Muertos event. That event was held downtown and featured a variety of altars in honor of loved ones.

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

Gloria Bigger-Cantu contributed to this report.


Suspect arrested in Mexico

A man wanted in connection with the murder of two individuals last month was arrested Wednesday in Mexico, officials confirmed.

Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick said Tuesday an arrest warrant was issued for Adam Curtis Williams, 33, for felony theft in connection with the deaths of James and Michelle Butler, whose bodies were discovered on a Kleberg County beach Oct. 27.

Kirkpatrick said investigators believe Williams is the man driving the Butlers' stolen vehicle in the photo released by the KCSO Monday morning.

The KCSO also identified a woman who is seen in the photograph as Amanda Noverr, 32, but Kirkpatrick said that she is still considered only as a person of interest.

On Tuesday, Hubert said just after the press conference Monday morning, officials received information regarding the two individuals in the photo they released to the public.

The Butlers had last been seen at the Padre Balli Park around noon on Oct. 14.

The couple's RV and truck were then parked near Beach Marker 263 on Padre Island, according to a Facebook post by Michelle Butler on Oct. 15, officials said.

Friends of the couple reportedly told investigators the two were traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and were scheduled to arrive there Nov. 20.

The couple was reported missing by family members on Oct. 16, and the bodies were discovered on Oct. 27.

Frank Cardenas can be contacted at fcardenas@kingranch.com or (361) 221-0243.


Superintendents protest appraisal board process

Ballots for the Kleberg County Appraisal District Board of Directors have been sent out despite claims from the Ricardo and Riviera Independent School District superintendents that they did not receive notification from the chief appraiser, causing them to miss the nomination deadline.

"I believe that we should have been allowed to have a special board meeting to nominate our candidate and send it in," Riviera ISD Superintendent Karen Unterbrink said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Because she (Chief Appraiser Ernestina Flores) had until Oct. 30 to send out the ballot, and we would've been within that timeline."

"This isn't the first time some districts have not met the date," Flores said in an interview this week. "I've treated everybody the same, and I'm comfortable with those decisions

because I am following the law, and when there are questions, I do seek legal advice and make my determinations based on that."

Each of the nine entities served by the Kleberg County Appraisal District — Kleberg County, the City of Kingsville, KISD, Ricardo Independent School District, Riviera Independent School District, Santa Gertrudis Independent School District, South Texas Water Authority, the Kenedy County Groundwater Conservation District and the City of Corpus Christi — can nominate individuals to serve on the Board of Directors.

The entities are also allocated a specific percentage of 5,000 total votes, based on 2018 tax levies.

Prior to Oct. 1 on odd-numbered years, the chief appraiser notifies each voting entity of the number of votes it may cast. Those entities then have until Oct. 15 to nominate by resolution candidates for each position on the board of directors.

The chief appraiser must then prepare a ballot listing all nominees alphabetically by each candidate's name, a copy of which is then delivered to the presiding officer of the governing body of each voting entity before Oct. 30.

This year's nominees are Daniel Morales and Al Higginbotham, both nominated by Kleberg County, Al Garcia as the nominee from the City of Kingsville, and Kingsville ISD's nominees are Lynn Yaklin and Brandon Greenwood.

Gregory Wallace, who currently serves on the board and has in the past been nominated by the Ricardo and Riviera ISDs, did not receive a nomination this year.

In separate emails dated Oct. 29 and provided to the Kingsville Record, both Riviera ISD Superintendent Karen Unterbrink and Ricardo ISD Superintendent Vita Canales contacted Flores regarding missing the deadline for appraisal board nominations.

Unterbrink said in her email that she had called Flores on Oct. 18 after she had received a call from Wallace regarding the Riviera ISD not submitting an appraisal board nomination.

She said that she told Wallace that she "had not received the packet of information for the nominations" from the appraisal district's office, and had then reached out to Canales to see if Ricardo ISD had nominated Wallace "since we usually support the same candidate," but was told that she also had not received the packet.

Unterbrink said in the email that she and finance director Jose Betancourt had reached out to Flores again on Oct. 18 and were told they had missed the deadline.

"You (Flores) explained that if you allowed an exception for us, you'd have to do the same for others," she said.

According to Unterbrink's email, Flores then said she would contact the appraisal district's attorney "for guidance since the tax code stated that those dates were directory and not mandatory."

On Oct. 25, according to the email, Flores contacted Unterbrink and told her that their attorney "advised (Flores) not to allow us to submit a nomination since it was after the Oct. 15 deadline."

In both emails, the superintendents also questioned the timeline as it pertained to Kingsville ISD adopting and submitting their nominations to the appraisal district.

KISD Board President Brian Coufal had presented the resolution to nominate individuals for the appraisal district's board of directors at the district's Oct. 15 regular meeting.

During that presentation, Coufal said "there was confusion last week in terms of a timeframe to get the appraisal district board nominations in."

"And after discussions with them, we have through early tomorrow morning (Oct. 16) to get this resolution to them with the name of our nominee or nominees," he said.

Both Unterbrink and Canales argued in their emails that since the KISD missed the Oct. 15 deadline, then there were only three "viable candidates" who should then appoint individuals for the remaining two positions.

When asked about thie issue this week, Coufal said the appraisal district had called the Texas Attorney General's office, and was told "that because of the Columbus Day holiday, as long as our resolution was approved on the 15th, we could submit it the following morning, which we did."

Columbus Day was on Monday, Oct. 14, which was a school holiday for the Kingsville ISD.

During Tuesday's phone interview, Unterbrink said she had also received a letter from attorney Joseph Longoria of Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins and Mott LLP representing the appraisal district on Oct. 30.

According to that letter, nominating notices were sent through the United States Postal Service on or about June 25. As for KISD's nominations, Longoria said in the letter that the school board "met in a properly posted public meeting, deliberated this item and voted on its nominees prior to the expiration of the deadline."

"Due to KISD's compliance with the meeting and deliberation requirements, the resolution was sufficient to permit the district to place the nominees' names on the ballot," Longoria said.

As for Riviera ISD, Longoria said the nominee process "has been exhausted." He also referenced Unterbrink's Oct. 29 email in which she said Flores told her on Oct. 25 that her attorney advised the appraisal district to not allow them to submit a nomination.

"I can assure you that I did not give any such advice nor was any advice requested," Longoria said in the letter. "I realize that this is an unfortunate situation for all parties and my client is implementing additional procedures to eliminate future occurrences."

Flores said she never told Unterbrink that she could not submit a nomination.

"I told her that I could not stop her from having a meeting and submitting a nominee, but I would probably not put it on the ballot because it was late," she said. "The timeframe that they got in contact with me was way after the deadline and they hadn't even had a meeting yet."

"It's like any application that I take from a taxpayer," she added. "I can never deny anybody from applying for something. But I certainly have to follow the law in the way I implement it or whether I approve or deny it, and I did tell her that."

Unterbrink said the only reason she had asked to hold a special meeting to allow the Riviera ISD board to make a nomination was because she had never received the information packet from the appraisal district.

Flores said the packets were sent out "to all entities at the same time" on June 25.

"I can't help if something happened in the mail," she said. "All I can do is treat everybody the same and fairly."

Flores said in the future, she will send the packets through certified mail.

With the ballots sent, the entities have until Dec. 15 to cast their votes for the nominees, who will serve a two-year term if elected.

Because the number of nominees matches that of the open seats, all five individuals nominated will serve starting in January regardless of voting results.

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


Nine out of 10 amendments pass

All but one of 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution passed Tuesday, with Kleberg County voters casting ballots in line with those around the state.

Kleberg County Clerk Stephanie Garza said 1,250 voters – just under 7 percent of the 17,959 total registered voters in Kleberg County – cast their ballots in the constitutional election, with 358 voters turning out for early voting, 13 votes cast with mail-in ballots and 879 votes coming in on election day Tuesday.

"This was a good turnout compared to what we've had

in the past in constitutional (elections)," Garza said.

The last state constitutional election was held in November 2017, with only 408 of the 17,563 registered voters in the county casting ballots. Statewide voters approved all seven propositions in that election.

To change the state constitution, a proposed amendment must be approved by a majority of Texas voters.

State Proposition 1, permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time, was the only proposed amendment to not pass. Statewide, 65 percent voted against the measure, while Kleberg County totals showed 73 percent were not in favor.

State Proposition 2 allows for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas. The amendment passed with 65 percent in favor statewide and 68 percent in Kleberg County supporting it.

State Proposition 3 authorizes the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster. Kleberg County voters approved the measure with 86 percent voting in favor, nearly matching the state's 85 percent in favor.

State Proposition 4 prohibits the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual's share of partnership and unincorporated association income. In Kleberg County, 80 percent voted in favor of the amendment, and 75 percent in the state did the same.

State Proposition 5 dedicates revenue from existing state sales and use tax imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Statewide, the amendment passed with 88 percent of voters for it. In Kleberg County, 89 percent voted in favor.

State Proposition 6 allows the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. State voters passed the amendment with 63 percent in favor, while 70 percent in Kleberg County were also in favor.

State Proposition 7 increases distributions to the available school fund. In Kleberg County, 78 percent of voters were in favor of the increase, and 73 percent statewide voted for the amendment.

State Proposition 8 creates a flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects. The amendment passed with 82 percent in Kleberg County and 77 percent statewide voting in favor.

State Proposition 9 authorizes the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state. State voters narrowly passed the amendment with 52 percent voting for it. In Kleberg County, 51 percent voted in favor.

State Proposition 10 al lows the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances. The amendment passed with 94 percent in favor in both the state and Kleberg County.

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


SGA band competes at state

For the second time in its seven-year history, the Santa Gertrudis Academy High School Marching Band competed in the UIL 3A State Marching Band Championship in San Antonio this week.

The district's marching band program began in 2012 under the guidance of its former director, Arthur Sholtis. In 2017, the marching band made it to the state championship, where they finished in 13th place in the preliminary round.

In 2018, Raymond Mendez took over as the SGA band director, along with his wife, Sandra Trevino-Mendez, as the assistant band director.

"We wanted to keep (the band) performing at that level while also moving the program forward," Mendez said.

This year's show is called "The Tie That Binds," and tells the story of a young couple – performed by junior Marco Villarreal and sophomore Reagan Wright – separated and then brought back together by the red thread of fate.

"The show has multiple movements," Mendez said. "There's an intro, 'Equus' by Eric Whitacre in the first movement, 'Nimrod' from a larger work called 'Enigma Variations' for the second movement and then the last two movements are excerpts from the Tchaikovsky ballet

'Swan Lake.'"

Mendez said selecting the shows is about "what fits the band the best and that they can perform at the highest level."

"But it also has to be something that the kids, and the crowd, are going to enjoy," he said. "Especially because we play this music for so long, for multiple months, it's got to be something the kids will enjoy playing."

For marching band programs in Texas, state competitions alternate years depending on the district's enrollment classification. Santa Gertrudis ISD is a 3A district.

To get the band ready for the state contest, Mendez had the students participate in several pre-contests leading up to this year's UIL competitions.

"It's all about getting as many 'reps' as possible so we could get them to that state level," he said.

In the UIL Region 14 Marching Band Contest, held on Oct. 19 in San Diego, the band finished with straight "1" ratings, the highest rating possible from the judges.

On Oct. 26, the band traveled to Beeville for the UIL Area E Marching Band Contest, taking eighth place in the preliminary round and advancing to the finals, where they finished in third place.

"You want to be in the top three going in to state," Mendez said. "And the next goal for our students, at the minimum, is to try to beat everyone in our area at the state contest."

Senior Joshua Seals was part of the marching band when it performed at the state contest in 2017. He said performing at the contest again was exciting for him.

"We only get two opportunities to do that during our high school career," Seals said.

Seals said he and his fellow seniors worked to motivate their underclassmen throughout the season in preparation for the contest.

"Because two years ago, we were in the same spot as them," he said.

Sophomore Roy Gonzalez joined the SGA band program during her freshman year. She said when she came in, she did not know to read music, let alone play an instrument.

"But Mr. and Mrs. Mendez were so welcoming and they helped me out so much," she said.

Gonzalez said she was thrilled when she learned the marching band qualified for the state contest.

"I started crying," she said. "It means so much because it's truly a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be going with my band family is a real blessing. This is something that I'll able to tell my children about."

Mendez said he appreciated the support the SGA Marching Band received from SGISD Superintendent Veronica Alfaro, Academy Principal Juan Sandoval and the SGS Music Parents Association booster club.

The 2019 UIL 3A State Marching Band Championship was held Wednesday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Results of the state contest were not available as of press time.

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


Primary candidate filing opens Saturday

The filing period for candidates to be placed on the March 3 ballot for the Kleberg County 2020 Primary Election is scheduled to open on Saturday, Nov. 9.

Local offices up for election this year are as follows: 105th District Attorney, Kleberg County Commissioners Pct.1 and Pct. 3, Kleberg County Constables Pcts. 1-4, Kleberg County Sheriff, Kleberg County Attorney and Kleberg County Tax Assessor-Collector. All offices are for four-year terms.

The filing deadline for the Primary Election is Dec. 9 at 6 p.m.

Candidates wishing to file for a place on the Primary Election ballot must file with the party chairs for the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Democratic Party Chair is Leo Alarcon, who was appointed by the party's executive committee on Oct. 10 to serve the unexpired term after its previous chair, Kyle Benson, resigned.

Alarcon can be reached by phone at (361) 455-1393 or by email at leoalarcon7@yahoo.com. He is also available by appointment only at 1501 E. Warren Ave. in Kingsville.

The Republican Party Chair is Bob Pena, who can be reached by phone at (361) 522-9722 or by email at klebergcountyrepublicanparty@gmail.com.

Candidates must also file forms appointing a campaign treasurer prior to filing an application for a place on the ballot with Kleberg County Clerk's office, located on the first floor of the Kleberg County Courthouse, at 700 E. Kleberg Ave.

For a candidate's guide to nomination and general election in 2020, visit the Texas Secretary of State's website at https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/guide/2020/index.shtml.

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