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City restrictions end May 1st

Concerns with the novel coronavirus in Kleberg County and the City of Kingsville led to discussion of the possibility of extending the stay-at-home order and order limiting one family member per household in stores in the city at Monday's city commission meeting.

However, due to an executive order signed by the Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just hours prior, the city commission was unable to take action, and city orders will now expire on schedule with the April 30, 11:59 p.m. deadline.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his plan to reopen the State of Texas "in phases," beginning with phase one on May 1.

According to the order, all retail stores, restaurants, malls and movie theaters can reopen on Friday, but must limit their business capacity to 25 percent of occupancy.

Libraries and museums were also included in the order. However, handson exhibits must remain closed.

The order also states that outdoor sports are allowed to resume as long as there are no more than four participants playing together at one time.

The only businesses that must remain closed are barbershops, hairdressers, gyms and bars.

Abbott said the businesses are not required to open, but the order does give them the opportunity to open if they want to.

Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate asked City Attorney Courtney Alvarez if the order supersedes any orders the city decided to make or to extend.

Alvarez said the order does supersede any local government orders "with

regards to how it restricts commercial businesses."

Alvarez said the governor's executive order is a "minimum safety guideline" and businesses can be more restrictive on their policies in stores.

Fugate asked if the order to limit one family member per household inside essential businesses can be extended because of the success the order has had with limiting the number of customers inside stores.

"That's been really helpful," Fugate said.

He also asked if there was any sort of action the city can do in place of the restriction, in order to continue to limit the amount of people going shopping.

Alvarez said it might be difficult to limit the amount of people inside stores now, because Abbott's executive order does allow for up to six people to enter into a restaurant and sit at the same table, as long as the establishment is in compliance with the 25 percent rule.

"I just don't know if we continue to want to extend (the order), how well it can actually be enforced," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said it could be hard to argue extending the order because it could conflict with Abbott's executive order, but she will read over the executive order to be sure.

Both the city stay-at-home orders, and the order limiting one family member per household inside local businesses, are set to expire tonight at midnight. Officials from the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce said they are working to make sure local businesses are safely opening, according to the governor's executive orders.

"All of our business owners want to reopen in a smart and responsible way," Manny Salazar, President/CEO of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce said. "The Kingsville Chamber of Commerce has been actively working with the Governor's office, the Coastal Bend COVID-19 Task Force, the City of Kingsville and Kleberg County to advocate for our businesses and to provide input on ways to reopen our community in a way that protects citizens."


Area youth club gives hope

Despite the club doors being closed to activities for the next few weeks, the staff at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingsville are still looking to complete one of its biggest projects to welcome their kids.

John Perez, Chief Executive Officer of the BGCK, said since April 2019, the organization has been working on building a new gymnasium.

Last week, the building materials for the gym were dropped off at the building site, as part of phase two of the three phase project.

The first phase of the project was to figure out the placement of the gym and pour concrete to establish the foundation where the building will be erected. The concrete slab, which was poured on the east side of the original BGCK facility where the old pavilion is, was put into place a few months ago.

The original plan had the first of the three phases beginning on Jan. 1 this year.

However, the BGCK reached their fundraising goal of $100,000 in late 2019, which kick-started the plan ahead of its original schedule.

Now, the plan is in the middle of phase two, after all the aluminum, steel and other materials were delivered to the BGCK facility to begin building the frame of the gym.

"We're thrilled about it," Perez said.

"We met our fundraising goal of $100,000 and we were able to pay for the building. Everything

was delivered and we're looking forward to opening everything and getting to work."

Perez said the timeframe for the building of the "shell" of the gym is going to take at least 60 days to complete, looking at a completion date of June.

"Now, that's going to be the shell. That's going to be all the lighting, that's going to be everything, except for the court," Perez said. "(The Court) is not going to be in there yet. At the same time, we wanted to have some concession and possibly some restrooms and some offices. And so we're looking at all that now."

The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought up some issues with construction and opening the club back up to the BGCK kids, but Perez said he has been working with Director of Operations Jill Seals and the BGCK board to see when the club can open up.

However, until then, the building of the new gymnasium will continue as scheduled.

"I guess we keep going back to the word hope because it gives up that hope," Seals said. "That second gym, it gives the kids here something to look forward to, and brings us a lot of joy to say 'Man, we're going to have a second gym, it's going to be huge.' We did have to kind of think, should we put everything on pause right now? But nope, we got to keep moving forward. Hope is not canceled. That's the Boys and Girls club motto right now. We need to believe in that."

Although the frame has been paid for, the BGCK is still asking for donations for the new gymnasium, as the court materials and other specifications in the gym have not been purchased at this time.

Any donations for the BGCK will also be for operating costs with other activities, which are currently taking place at the club including the serving of 280 meals per day.


Sandoval resigns as Academy principal

After three years with the Santa Gertrudis Independent School District, Academy Principal Juan Sandoval will be moving on after the school board accepted his resignation during last Wednesday's regular meeting.

"My daughters will all be out of high school (after this year), so this is an opportunity for my wife and I to begin a new chapter in our lives," Sandoval said in an interview after the meeting.

A 1992 H.M. King High School graduate, Sandoval has served in education since 1997 and as an administrator since 2000. Prior to joining Santa Gertrudis ISD, he had worked for school districts in Kingsville, Bishop, Falfurrias and Alice.

In 2017, Sandoval returned from a two-year hiatus from education administration to serve as the assistant principal at Santa Gertrudis Academy. He took over as its principal the following year.

"It has been a pleasure working at SGA during the past three years," Sandoval said. "I have bonded with this family and know that I am leaving a great district and a great group of people."

Sandoval said he has witnessed his students grow "personally and academically over the years," which he said was rewarding to see. He also praised the students for not only excelling in extracurricular sports and activities, but also in projects to help with the beautification of their campus.

"Our students are some of the most determined, dedicated and respectful students I have ever worked with," Sandoval said. "I will definitely miss working with them on a daily basis."

In addition, Sandoval said throughout his tenure the high school has continued to experience academic growth.

"As a team, we saw an increase in our end-of-course scores and received an 'A' rating for SGA during the last two years," he said.

Sandoval said he expected the high school to achieved another "A" rating in the Texas Education Agency's accountability ratings this year. However, the ratings were canceled after campuses throughout the state were closed because of COVID-19.

With youngest daughter Sierra graduating from Santa Gertrudis Academy this year, Sandoval said it was "a good time to explore the opportunities available for my family."

"My wife and I have been talking about the possibility of moving for over a year now, and we are now open to explore new adventures," he said.

Sandoval said he is cur

rently looking for job opportunities in the Coastal Bend area as well as around the state. He said even if he leaves Kingsville, the town will "always be our permanent home."

"This community is our family," he said.

Superintendent Veronica Alfaro said the district wishes Sandoval well on his future endeavors.

"We are grateful for his time here at SGISD," Alfaro said. "His focus on student success was a main priority, leading the campus to an 'A' rating with six distinctions."

Sandoval said he is proud of the relationships he has built while serving as the Santa Gertrudis Academy principal, and he will miss his faculty and staff as "they are truly dedicated to making sure the students succeed and always have their best interests at heart."

"I will continue to follow the success of our faculty, staff and most of all, our students," he said. "I want to thank them for the great memories."

The board accepted Sandoval's resignation in a 6-1 split during last Wednesday's meeting, with trustee Jesse Garcia voting against.


MK grads to be honored with parade

With high school senior graduation ceremonies delayed into the summer months or possibly longer, a local group is working to coordinate a special parade at the end of May to recognize the more than 200 expected H.M. King High School graduates and their accomplishments throughout the last four years.

"They (the seniors) missed out on a lot this year, and we want to recognize them while still keeping in line with social distancing policies," organizer David Garcia said.

During Spring Break in March, campuses throughout Texas were closed out of concerns following the spread of COVID-19. Garcia, who has a son graduating from the high school this year, said the idea for the parade started when his family were talking about all of the end-of-year activities in which the seniors were missing out.

With high school senior graduation ceremonies delayed into the summer months or possibly longer, a local group is working to coordinate a special parade at the end of May to recognize the more than 200 expected H.M. King High School graduates and their accomplishments throughout the last four years.

"They (the seniors) missed out on a lot this year, and we want to recognize them while still keeping in line with social distancing policies," organizer David Garcia said.

During Spring Break in March, campuses throughout Texas were closed out of concerns following the spread of COVID-19. Garcia, who has a son graduating from the high school this year, said the idea for the parade started when his family were talking about all of the end-of-year activities in which the seniors were missing out.

"We just thought it'd be nice to give them some recognition to get them going into the summer," he said.

Garcia said the idea grew from there as the Kingsville community offered its support for the parade.

"We've got several people and businesses on board," he said. "It's been a group effort. Right now, we are working with (Kingsville Police) Chief Ricardo Torres on the permit for the parade."

Garcia said the goal of the parade is not to take away from the postponed graduation ceremony, but rather give the seniors a chance to celebrate their achievement with the community in a safe way before the start of summer.

While organizers are still working on the details of the parade, the tentative plan is for graduates to line up inside their or their parents' vehicles near the Kleberg County Courthouse beginning with the Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian, followed by the top 10 graduates and the rest of the graduating class in alphabetical order.

The vehicles can be decorated with the senior's name and theme of their choosing, Garcia said. In order to maintain social distance, vehicles will be limited to no more than four people inside.

The parade will then proceed east on King Street and turn right on 14th Street to H.M. King High School where students will receive individual proclamations of achievement from present school officials and board trustees.

"It'll go through the back entrance of the high school and we'll do the ceremony right between the band hall and the school," Garcia said. "Students will exit their vehicles one at a time to a platform for a picture."

Forke's Photography will be taaking pictures of the graduating seniors as they receive their certificates, Garcia said, and KINGTV-69 owner Benny Guerra will livestream for social media.

The Kleberg County Sheriff's Office will provide escort for the parade.

Garcia said they are also working with Forke's to put together a program that will be provided free to each senior during the event containing photos and information on the HMK Class of 2020 submitted through the event's Facebook group.

"And I believe (Forke's) will set it up to where anybody who would like to order extras of the program through them," he said. "But only the seniors' copies will be free."

Garcia said they are also soliciting donations to help cover expenses associated with the event.

"And whatever's left over will be going to the (HMK) junior class for next year," he said.

The parade is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 30, with line up at 2 p.m. and a start time of 3:30 p.m.

HMK Class of 2020 senior photos and information can be submitted through the event's Facebook group at "Kingsville Brahmas Project 2020."

For more information, contact David Garcia at (361) 228-1892 or at davgar68@yahoo.com.


COVID-19 cases increase to nine

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Kleberg County now totals nine as of Tuesday morning, after three new cases were added to the list since April 21.

Kleberg County and City of Kingsville officials said the most recent positive case of the novel coronavirus involves a middle-aged woman who tested positive for COVID-19 at a local area facility.

As of Tuesday, that case remains under investigation as medical professionals are working to determine if it is a community spread case, or a travel related case, officials said.

Friday afternoon, the eighth confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced, also a middle-aged woman who tested positive at a local area facility, officials said.

The case is a community spread case, which led officials to warn the importance of following stay-at-home orders in the city and county.

The case reported last Tuesday was a young woman, who contracted the virus due to travel to Wisconsin.

The case was related to a previous reported positive travel case of the novel coronavirus, connected to a middle-aged woman.

All three women are currently in quarantine and receiving medical treatment, officials said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services is working in partnership with the women to conduct contact tracing to limit further transmission, officials said.

If any community members had contact with these women, Region 11 Department of State Health Services Personnel will directly notify them.

City of Kingsville Director of Tourism Services Janine Reyes said in a statement on Monday that "at this point" Kleberg County does not have any recoveries of the nine reported cases from the virus.

Kleberg County still only has one reported death due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said at Monday's Kleberg County Commissioners meeting, that all other positive cases of COVID-19 have remained in quarantine.