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COVID cases increase to 14

Kleberg County's count of total positive COVID-19 cases has reached 14 as of Tuesday morning, after three new cases were added to last week's total.

The 12th case, which was announced last Thursday, is a man in his 50's who had close contact with another positive case of COVID-19, Kleberg County and City of Kingsville officials said.

On Friday, two more cases were announced by officials, as two women in their 20's were confirmed by officials.

The cases were unrelated, officials said, as one case was caused by person-to-person contact with another positive case of COVID-19, while the other is a community-spread case.

Local officials have not been notified if the recent positive cases are results of the free testing administered by the Texas Military Department at the Kleberg County and City of Kingsville Remote Joint Testing Site at Dick Kleberg Park.

All three cases remain in isolation, officials said.

Officials said they are still awaiting confirmation on two more cases, which can possibly be added to Kleberg County's total count. More information on those two possible cases will be available at a later date.

Cases that have been removed from isolation has also increased, officials said, with a total count of nine.

Free testing also took place on Monday at Dick

Kleberg Park with a total of 46 tests administered to those in the area.

Altogether, 496 tests have been administered to both in-county and outof-county residents.

Those who have not received their test results, but would like to be notified after the 96 hour waiting period, are asked to e-mail, officials said. Texas begins phase two of reopening

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that the State of Texas is ready to begin phase two of reopening businesses.

The second phase includes opening gyms, personal care services, businesses located in offices, youth clubs, childcare facilities, and youth programs to operate at 25 percent of their occupancy.

Tomorrow, restaurants are also allowed to operate at 50 percent of their capacity.

The capacity guidelines do not include outdoor activities.

Bowling alleys, bars, bingo halls, breweries, skating rinks and aquariums can open their doors at 25 percent capacity along with other restrictive guidelines.

Some of the guidelines for bars includes offering table service instead of allowing patrons at the bar, removing bar stools, no groups of more than six people, maintaining social distance of at least six feet apart, discouraging dancing and close-knit activities and using disposable glasses or silverware.

Bars can also recommend patrons wear face masks, although that is not a state requirement.

Local youth sports and professional sports may also be ready to operate as soon as May 31, and includes football, volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and golf.

Abbott said local school districts will also be allowed to operate for summer school programs as long as they follow social distancing.

Long time, no see
Nursing home holds family parade

Close to 80 elderly residents lined the front of the Lone Ranch Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center as family and friends – many of whom they had not seen in almost two months – drove by shouting and waving signs as part of a special car parade held last Wednesday.

"We had a great turnout," Victoria Breeden, administrator for Lone Star Ranch Rehabilitation, said. "Thanks to all of the families."

Breeden said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center has been closed to outside visitors since early March.

"So we wanted to cre-

ate an opportunity where (families) could come out here, drive by and see them," she said.

"It's been hard on our residents, so for them just to see them from a distance has been great."

Breeden said the center reached out to their residents' families the week prior about the parade.

"And it came together really fast, and it was such a big turnout," she said. "Everybody's happy, the residents were really happy to see their families. It was just so amazing to see it all come together."

The parade route began at Turcotte-Piper Funeral Home, located just across the street from the rehabilitation center.

From there, Kleberg County Sheriff's deputies, along with county constables, led dozens of vehicles into the Lone Star Ranch Rehabilitation parking lot where elderly residents waited with signs and decorations of their own.

Breeden said they might hold another parade in the future, depending on how long the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

"Just so our residents can see their families again," she said.

"We've been doing the best that we can with families coming to the window and (online video chats with) Face-Time. But you can't beat seeing each other in person."

The Lone Star Ranch Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, formerly known as Kleberg County Nursing and Rehabilitation, is located at 316 Gen. Cavazos Blvd. in Kingsville. The business changed ownership in March.

Riviera ISD approves additional assistant principal position

In a 5-2 split, the Riviera Independent School District approved the creation of a second assistant principal position to serve at all three of the district's campuses beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

Superintendent Karen Unterbrink presented the new position to the board during Monday evening's regular meeting. Unterbrink said the additional assistant principal was needed as the district was anticipating "gaps in student learning" because of the lost classroom time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said next school year could possibly be a mix of in-school instruction and remote learning, and another assistant principal would be beneficial in helping to "accelerate our instruction."

"We are going to need all hands on deck and then some," Unterbrink said.

Unterbrink said the new position would serve at all of the district's campuses, which include Nanny Elementary School, De La Paz Middle School and Kaufer High School. The district's current assistant principal, Diana Guerre ro-Pena, serves all three campuses as well.

The superintendent said while the current assistant principal's duties are mainly focused on discipline and attendance, the new position would be focused on instructional support, program evaluations and providing professional development.

Unterbrink said district was taking a "proactive approach" to the position, and told the board that if they waited too long then the applicant pool would be "very small." She also said while adding the position "is definitely something that we can do," it would require some tweaking such as no longer hiring two of their education consultants that the district has hired on a regular basis in the past.

In addition, Unterbrink said she could say the position would be sustainable given the current circumstances, and if there are additional cuts to school funding at the state level because of the pandemic, she might not recommend an applicant to the board.

Prior to the vote, trustee Teresa May brought up her concern about the district's administra

tor-to-student and teacher-to-student ratios.

Finance director Jose Betancourt said those ratios are calculated as part of the annual Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, or FIRST rating. He said Riviera ISD has been within the recommended ratio for the past nine years.

"They're right in the middle," Betancourt said.

Trustee DeAnna Hamblin asked, with all of the unknowns for the next school year, if some of the duties could instead be shifted to the current assistant principal. She was also in favor of keeping the consultants they used in prior years to help with the anticipated learning gaps.

"Seems like this is a prime use of the consultants," she said.

Both Board President Burt Bull and Vice-President Billy Colston spoke in favor of the new position, saying that they "don't know how to run a school" but said they trust administration to know what was needed to educate their students.

"As long as we're not blowing money and we're accomplishing what these people (administration) think we need to do, I'm fine," Bull said.

Colston made the motion to approve the new assistant superintendent position, which was seconded by Board Secretary Pete Guevara. The motion passed 5-2 with May and Hamblin voting against.

HMK seniors receive signs

Gyms reopen in Kingsville

The start of the year was supposed to mean new beginnings for Joshua Watrous, the owner and operator of Kingsville's newest gym, Old School Iron STX.

The gym equipment had been set up in the new building on 907 E. Corral in Kingsville, and despite a few setbacks in the first two months of the year, Watrous was looking forward to opening the doors of his gym in March.

However, three days before passing inspection for his businesses certificate of occupancy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued the orders for Texas businesses to shut down, which put opening his newest venture on hold.

"After a lengthy process starting in December, we were never able to open before the shutdown," Watrous said. "We were very upset, of course, as we had to continue paying utilities and rent without any revenue. These last two months have been stressful to say the least."

Last week, Gov. Abbott made the announcement that gyms would be able to open, with recommendations and guidelines to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The announcement excited Watrous and his staff, but he said they will "remain very cautious" and keep customer safety their first priority.

Watrous is recommending that all customers who enter Old School Iron STX adhere to CDC guidelines for social distancing, and will limit occupancy to only 28 gym goers at a time and no more than two lifters per group.

"We have also installed new hand sanitizer dispensers, (placed) extra disinfectant sprays throughout the gym and (we) are monitoring the size of groups and ensuring proper sanitation of equipment after use," Watrous said.

"Everyone needs to continue being as cautious as possible. I think we all know the pandemic and it's toll on life and commerce are far from over. But as a community, we should continue to sup-

port each other, respect each other and live life in caution, rather than fear."

At Fit24 Gym in Kingsville, Sarah Ramos said "it felt strange going" to the gym for the first time in months.

"But it also felt very uneasy because I felt like if I was being watched, so they can make sure I was following the rules," Ramos said.

Ramos said she and her boyfriend did follow the rules of the gym by sporting gloves and separating during their exercises, but found it to be a bit difficult to workout given the restrictions.

"I went to go do some cardio and my boyfriend went to lift, but its hard to do exactly what you want because lifting gets hard when you have to wear gloves," she said. "It's hard because of the glove requirements. They tear and if you don't have a backup, you'll probably be asked to leave."

Ramos said she did like that the gym was really clean, which she said made it easier to get in, and get out of, the gym safely.