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Like father, like son: Salinas named commissioner

The son of late Pct. 4 Kleberg County Commissioner Zaragoza "Shorty" Salinas will now fill the seat his father once sat in, after taking the oath of office at Monday's Kleberg County Commissioners meeting.

Marcus Ray Salinas was sworn in as the new Pct. 4 Kleberg County Commissioner on Monday, and will fulfill his father's unexpired term after being appointed to the position by Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid.

"The State of Texas grants the county judge the authority to make a decision on who feels the unexpired term on any commissioner, if for whatever reason that commissioner cannot fulfill his or her duties," Madrid said during the meeting.

Madrid said he spoke previously to the other commissioners and department heads from Kleberg County and decided it was only fitting to appoint Marcus to the seat, especially when considering he would fulfill the duties just as his father did before his passing.

"Your dad's heart showed where he was at. He was just truly, truly an amazing honor to assert side by side with your dad and I consider him one of our brothers, like I do every one of these commissioners. We all have our own differences at one point or another, but we all stand together at the end of the day, and he's part of the Kleberg County team," Madrid said when speaking to Marcus before his swearing in. "I was amazed with his devotion to duty, his devotion to our youth, to our underserved population and to our senior citizens. That type of trait is not something you learn, that's not something you go to school for. That's one of those innate qualities that you just have, you either got it or you don't. And Commissioner Salinas had it and, and when you get around his family, they have the same qualities that he had.

"He was their father and he was the nucleus of that family and it's an amazing family," he continued. "I had the privilege of sitting down with the Salinas

family, and it's an honor to recommend Marcus Ray Salinas for this position."

The vote passed unanimously, as Madrid dawned his robe to swear in Salinas.

Following the meeting, Salinas said it's still surreal that his father is gone, but he is glad he can step in to continue his father's work.

"It's a blessing to be appointed to step in and fulfill his dream, his duty. It's a little overwhelming; I'm still trying to, to fit this part," Salinas said. "I love helping people. You know, that's one thing that my father did his best to raise us to be selfless and to make sure we did (work) not just for us and for our families, but also for our communities and those who are less fortunate. And that's just one thing that I've taken in stride. Becoming a man growing up, being a father, I'm trying to instill the same values into my son."

Salinas said he is trying to be more of a part of the community like his father had always taught him to be, and is looking forward to continue his work.

"I heard (what he wanted to get done) and I knew it," Salinas said. "I just got to go forward and continue to act on it. You know, you could say a lot of things but you know, actions speak louder than words and I'm going to do my best to make sure there's some action."

Salinas said like his father, his priority for the next few months will be working with the senior citizens in Kleberg County, trying his best to take care of those who helped take care of the community a generation before his own.

(Editor's note: A story about Zaragoza "Shorty" Salinas' impact in Kleberg County will be published online following his memorial service on Friday.)

KISD names lone finalist in Superintendent search

In a 5-2 split vote, the Kingsville Independent School District Board of Trustees named Cecilia "Cissy" Reynolds-Perez as the lone finalist for the district's superintendent position at last Wednesday's special meeting.

"The Kingsville ISD board selected Dr. Reynolds-Perez as their Lone Finalist because of her knowledge of current technological trends, HB3 TEA accountability requirements, and their confidence that she would gain the trust of the community by meeting the academic, athletic, fine arts, college readiness, STEM, career and technical and social emotional needs of the Kingsville Brahmas," officials of the KISD said in a statement.

Reynolds-Perez is a graduate of the KISD and has served as an educator at numerous schools in the coastal bend. She served as Corpus Christi Ray High School Principal from 2008 to 2018 before departing to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction and Human Resources at the West Oso Independent School District for the last two years.

In her career, Reynolds-Perez has been named Texas High School Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, as well as an HEB Excellence in Education Elementary Principal of the Year.

Reynolds-Perez was also appointed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to serve on the Governor's State Board for the Texas School Safety Center, and she currently serves as Co-Chair on State Representative Todd Hunter's Suicide Prevention Task Force.

"As Board President, I look forward to working closely with Dr. Reynolds-Perez to move this District forward during these trying times and to provide the highest quality education possible for the students of this community," Board President Brandon Greenwood said in a state ent to the Kingsville Record.

Timeline to the Lone Finalist

On March 30, the school board named Kamara Adams, who has served as the district's interim superintendent since Sept. 27, 2019, as the lone finalist for the superintendent position in a 4-3 split vote.

On March 30, the school board named Kamara Adams, who has served as the district's interim superintendent since Sept. 27, 2019, as the lone finalist for the superintendent position in a 4-3 split vote.

Adams was hired as the KISD assistant superintendent of support services in December 2018. She had previously worked with the district's former superintendent, Elida Bera, at Judson ISD in San Antonio as its human resources director.

During their April 20 meeting, less than a month after naming Adams as the lone finalist, the board approved in another 4-3 split to hire the O'Hanlon, Demerath and Castillo law firm conduct a superintendent search.

That approved search was set on a 45-day timeline and included just the 16 applicants who applied for the position between late November 2019 and late January this year, when the search was put on hold "until further notice" after board trustees were in favor of waiting until after the May school board election to resume discussion.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the May election was moved to November 3.

Action to rescind naming Adams as the lone finalist was put on the agenda for the board's May 5 special meeting, but failed in a 3-4 split vote.

During that same meeting, the board approved in a 4-3 split to raise Adams' annual compensation from $145,000 to $165,000, retroactive to Feb. 1.

After tabling further action on superintendent search during the previous meeting, also in a 4-3 split, the board resumed discussion on May 11 to rescind the previously approved 45-day fast track search in favor of a full search.

While the board approved rescinding the 45-day search in a 4-3 split, with Board Secretary Corando Garza and trustees Cory Garza and Nick Prado voting against, district attorney Nick Maddox informed trustees that they would need to move to "reconsider" the motion in order to take further action.

Crites moved to reconsider the motion, which passed 6-1, then moved that the district conduct a "full-scale, traditional search of character that we've done in the past."

The new motion passed 6-1, with Greenwood again voting against, which launched the new search and brought a total of 35 applicants.

The board held three special meetings to interview potential superintendent candidates from July 16 until July 29, when they decided to take action and vote on the lone finalist.

Voting for the lone finalist

The board returned from closed session at about 8:20 p.m. after meeting since 2 p.m.

Before the vote, Crites said he needed to make a comment as to why an individual board member may vote against any potential candidate.

"It's not a vote 'no' against any given nominee, that's merely a vote - that perhaps – that individual board member felt there was someone more qualified," Crites said. "That does not mean, by inference, that person who is being voted on isn't qualified, or doesn't have the credentials, or the skill sets, or the motivation to not be an outstanding superintendent. It's a vote of conscience. It's a vote of what you think as an individual board member is best for the district."

Following Crites, Trustee Cory Garza said he thinks it's time "that our kids deserve better."

"I respect each one of my trustees," Garza said. "But I think it's time. We've gone through the process (of the superintendent search) ... let's get moving. We're running out of time, we're fixing to start remote learning. We need to get moving."

Board Secretary Corando Garza, trustees Cory Garza, Nick Prado, Lynn Yaklin and Brian Coufal voted for Reynolds-Perez, and Board President Brandon Greenwood and Board Vice-President Steven Crites voted against the lone finalist.

"The words, 'Once a Brahma, Always a Brahma' are not just words to me," Reynolds-Perez said in a statement last Wednesday. "They helped mold me into the dedicated educator I am today and have been for many years."

Although Reynolds-Perez has been named the lone finalist, state regulations require a mandatory 21-day waiting period before she can be offcially hired to the position.

Officials break ground for pavilion at Kaufer-Hubert Park

Kleberg County Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the final part of a three-project improvement plan to renovate the facilities at Kaufer-Hubert Memorial Park in Riviera.

In August of 2019, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said the three-project renovation plan was to make improvements to the two boat ramps in the park, which included repairs and extensions to both boat ramps for ease of access into the Cayo Del Grullo, new lighted fish washing stations and improvements to the docks.

The second project included the expansion of the parking lot to allow more tourists and locals to

more tourists and locals to be able to use the park at any given time.

The parking lot would also be repaved completely, to make for smoother access for any vehicles wanting to enter the grounds.

Phase 3 of the project included the building of a brand new pavilion in the park, along with improvements to the Seawind RV Park resort, giving residents in the park access to facilities that were not available to them.

The improvements included a boat washing station, new restrooms and rinsing showers, sewer improvements to the RV park grounds and new electrical improvements.

It will also include 25 additional spots for future "winter Texans" who plan to stay at the facilities.

Since August, the park is already steadily seeing the improvements, as the boat washing station, new restrooms, new boat ramp and other facilities have continued to be worked on despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"These last few months, if you talk about challenging, and when we're dealing with pandemics and we're dealing with hurricanes, and we're trying to march forward on these projects, I got to give kudos to our contractors because they, they really have worked above their means," Madrid said during the ceremony last week. "Their employees, their staff members have been out here amongst the COVID-19. They have to try to social distance, they got to limit the amount of crews they've got, they had a hurricane setback. And we're still marching forward. As you can see, progress has been made with very, very nice buildings that will be with us for the next hundred years. With that said, I'm very, very happy to announce our phase three project."

Madrid said the phase three project will include a covered pavilion with a commercial kitchen for weddings, quinceaneras, fishing tournaments, school events and church events.

The layout of the pavilion will also have BBQ area, storage space and a stage for other potential events, and will also have potential use as a basketball court.

The project, Madrid said, is estimated to be complete "around the October, November time frame."

The project will be funded through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2016 grant, which has a total amount awarded of nearly $879,000, which Madrid said covers the cost of the project.

Madrid said the ceremony was dedicated to late Pct. 4 Commissioner Zaragoza "Shorty" Salinas, who took part in the first ground breaking ceremony for the first two projects.