City and County entities gather for quarterly summit meeting
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation, City Manager and City Council and Copperas Cove Independent School as well as Coryell County Judge met together for a summit meeting last Wednesday afternoon in the council chambers.
The heads of each entity gave a summary of what the entities and organizations have done since their last summit meeting, starting with the Economic Development Corporation.
Executive Director Jonas Titas shared that the Copperas Cove EDC has taken over the funding of the reconstruction of Constitution Drive, a project that is estimated to cost about $2 million, following a resolution passed by the EDC board at its March meeting.
Constitution Drive is “the gateway to the Narrows Business and Industrial Park,” said Titas.
The EDC is also working with the Chamber of Commerce on the Business and Expansion Survey that has been active since March 18 and is open until April 9, for local businesses to complete.
Titas shared that the sidewalk project for Constitution Drive and The Narrows is nearly complete and said that the EDC is working to organize a ribbon cutting to commemorate the occasion.
Chamber of Commerce: Ross Oliver to be interim president
Chamber of Commerce President Alicia Menard gave her final update as president before she steps down on April 14.
Menard began with the news that the Chamber’s Communications and Visitor Bureau Coordinator Ross Oliver would become Interim President with an official start date of April 15.
Menard also shared that the Chamber was excited to finally be able to hold events again.
“That’s one of the great parts, I mean besides representing our members and our small business community but to be able to bring events to the residents and to those that live around Copperas Cove and provide something for everybody to do is just an amazing feeling,” Menard said.
The 41st annual Rabbit Fest will also go on this year, May 13-16. Menard said 25 market vendors, 22 food vendors have registered, plus four parade participants have signed up so far.
The Chamber has begun hosting its mixers, coffee and commerce events and ribbon cuttings again, Menard added. The next Coffee and Commerce will be Friday, April 9 at 8 a.m. at Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home. The next ribbon cutting will be Saturday, April 10 at 1 p.m. at Legacy Martial Arts.
The Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee has also resumed planning Military Affairs Dinners, with three scheduled for 2021 in June, August and October.
City of Copperas Cove: To receive funds from American Rescue Plan Act
City Manager Ryan Haverlah shared an update for the city and touched on the damage from Winter Storm Uri, which has mainly manifested in damage to the city streets to the tune of more than $1 million. The majority of the repairs will need to be done through an outside contractor, and city staff are working to compile information to present to the city council to allocate funding for the repairs needed, Haverlah said. He added that there are some really big potholes on streets and advised residents to use caution as they drive.
Haverlah also mentioned that the city is a potential recipient of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which Congress passed recently and President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11. Copperas Cove is set to currently receive $7.2 million, which will go to the State of Texas first. During the last round of federal aid for COVID-19, the state of Texas received the money also and added restrictions on top of the federal government. Haverlah said he wasn’t sure if the same would happen with the money this time around.
Toward the end of Haverlah’s presentation, CCISD Superintendent Joseph Burns asked about the renovation of the old Utility Administration Building on South Main Street. The city will hold a Grand Opening for the facility in a couple of weeks, Haverlah said.
CCISD: Graduation to take place at Bell County Expo Center
Superintendent Burns then gave a brief update from the district. CCISD has been the site of four vaccination clinics open to the public and two open to CCISD employees. With the two employee vaccination clinics and more than 400 people each day, CCISD is now approaching half of its staff being fully vaccinated.
CCISD suffered damage to five campuses from Winter Storm Uri and has been working with Belfor Restoration for repairs, Burns added. CCISD has also been working with LAN Engineering on drainage issue projects at Copperas Cove High School and also at the Martin Walker Elementary campus.
The district will also be working on expansion projects throughout this summer and into 2022. The district is plotting and planning for 30 percent growth or better over the next five years, according to Burns. The projects include a redesign of traffic flow and an additional cafeteria at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, plus an expansion at Hettie Halstead Elementary, Williams/Ledger Elementary and Martin Walker Elementary.
“One of the things we’ve got right now in Copperas Cove is a lot of mismatched campuses,” Burns said. The goal is to have each elementary school have the ability for a minimum capacity of 700 students.
Burns shared that currently CCISD has 80 percent of students receiving instruction on campus, with around 20 percent opting for virtual learning. This August, the district hopes to have all students back on campus and only offer virtual learning to students with a medical or special learning need, Burns said.
The district also received the news that the Killeen Civic and Conference Center and the Bell County Expo Center are open to 100 percent capacity, which means that the Band Banquet, Prom and graduation will go on as planned this year.
Burns said that the district will be holding its State of the District virtually, airing on CCISD’s social media on April 22, 2021.
Representing the county, County Judge Roger Miller shared information about the bond election for the issuance of debt for the proposed jail facility on May 1.
He also mentioned the appraisal evaluations which homeowners are receiving. Most homeowners are seeing their home appraisals increase significantly. Some in Copperas Cove are reporting $9,000 increases, while Miller said that elsewhere in Coryell County, the amount ranges between $10,000 to $50,000.
Miller said he wanted to make sure that residents knew that the county does not control the appraisal district- it is considered a political subdivision of the State of Texas.
Regarding COVID-19, Miller said that cases are decreasing overall, and vaccinations are a priority. He said he is working to get providers more integrated with the supply of vaccines, so that smaller pharmacies are able to obtain their own supply more easily.
Coryell County is covered under the American Rescue Plan Act and is expected to receive a direct allocation of $14.7 million- $7.35 million in May 2021 and the remaining $7.35 million the following year.
Miller said he wanted to see those funds, which must be used on public health and infrastructure, used to establish a Health District in Coryell County and called it his number one priority.