Liquor, water, and retail figure big in Copperas Cove for 2017
By LYNETTE SOWELL
In the year 2017, both liquor and water were ingredients of some of the biggest news for Copperas Cove residents.
Starting the year, a Copperas Cove woman, Sarah Arvin gave birth to, Charlotte Grace, the first baby of 2017 for the greater Killeen area, at 12:30 a.m. on January 1 at Metroplex Hospital.
The day prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Joann Courtland, director of Operation Stand Down Central Texas was a special guest at the Texas State Society Boots and Black Tie Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., after being called to attend by Congressman Roger Williams’ office. While there, Courtland learned that Toyota of North America was donating a 2017 Toyota Tundra to her nonprofit that aids homeless veterans in the Central Texas area.
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet in January, during which Tammy Rodriguez was formally announced as the board’s newest chair. Chamber Ambassador of the year went to J.C. Stubbs. Large Business of the Year award went to Copperas Cove’s H-E-B Plus!. Crawford Bowers Funeral Home was named small business of the year.
During the month of January, the Avenue D downtown revitalization project began. The project spanned South 3rd Street, extended past the South 1st and Main Street intersections and ended at South 2nd Street, and included replacing older sidewalks and adding ADA accessible ramps along with drainage improvements. Work continued on the project through October 2017 and was paid for from a combination of funds from the Texas Department of Transportation in the amount of $700,479, city tax-supported funds of $227,252, with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation contributing $82,361.90 and the city’s Drainage Fund spending an authorized $67,535 on the project.
During the month of February, the Copperas Cove Police Department swore in five new officers to the force, the first of several swearing in and promotion ceremonies held in 2017.
Also in February, the Copperas Cove Parks & Recreation Department began its first six-week adaptive sports program with the Superheroes, a soccer team made up of special needs children ages 5 to 18. Having adaptive sports programs for children with disabilities was one of the things Parks & Recreation department director, Joe Brown, wanted to bring to the department upon taking the reins when he arrived in Copperas Cove in October 2015. C & C Sporting Goods donated the shirts, shorts and socks or the team.
The KFC in Copperas Cove closed for the month of February for an interior and exterior remodel of the store, located on Business 190.
Hollywood came calling to the local area, with a casting company putting out a call for extras for an eight-part miniseries, “The Long Road Home”, which was filmed in and around the Fort Hood area, including Copperas Cove for the NatGeo channel. The series debuted on the NatGeo channel in November.
The Copperas Cove city council approved changes to the city’s animal ordinance, with requiring any cats or dogs impounded by Animal Control to be microchipped before owners can claim them. It is also now unlawful for those adopting cats or dogs from Animal Control to violate conditions of the adoption agreement, which includes microchipping and having the adopted animal spayed or neutered. Also, Animal Control now has the authority to impound animals that attack “any person with or without causing bodily injury, or the animal has attacked another animal causing serious bodily injury or death, outside of the first animal’s owner’s property.”
A Killeen man, Alfredo Coleman Jr., 32, was sentenced to 25 years for the August 2015 robbery of a Subway at 214 W. Business 190.
The month of March saw the 31st class of the Copperas Cove Citizens Police Academy, after a hiatus of several years. Approximately 17 residents signed up to take the 10-week course, led by the department’s community services officer.
At the March 9 meeting of the Copperas Cove city council, residents addressed the council with issues regarding their water bills during the transition to FATHOM Water Systems, which began changing water meters for city utility customers to digital water meters as part of the advanced metering infrastructure project as approved in 2016 by the council.
The Copperas Cove Independent School District held its annual State of the District luncheon, during which the district reflected on its achievements along with obstacles. Lining the walls of the Copperas Cove Civic Center was evidence of students’ accomplishments, campus by campus, and club by club. In keeping with the theme “Every Child Deserves A Champion”, the displays also included trophies and plaques won by district students. Superintendent Joe Burns spoke about the accomplishments of CCISD—its students, the staff and the community, with CCISD being named a District of Distinction by the Girls Scouts. In the area of college and career readiness, Burns said the district is focusing on vocational opportunities for students, citing the value of trade-based jobs such as those for HVAC technicians and mechanics. Burns also addressed the challenges of declining Impact Aid, of which the district lost $16 million over a period of three years. Despite the drop-off in Impact Aid, the district continues to have a “very healthy” fund balance and it is also exploring “all kinds of alternative funding.” Burns forecasted the need for facilities around the year 2020, and the possible bond election that may occur as a result.
The Five Hills Art Guild held its second annual Five Hills Art Festival: Art in the Park, with the event being held in City Park for the first time. The daylong event featured more than 40 artists and artisans from Central Texas and beyond, with Copperas Cove alum and Santa Fe, NM artist David Copher being the special guest visiting artist.
Also in March, demolition began of the 40-plus-year-old structures located on the lot at 202 N. 1st St. to make way for the construction of an approximately 8,000-square foot store for Family Dollar. The property was purchased by Family Dollar in February 2017 for the future home of the store in Cove Terrace Shopping Center.
Members of the local veterans’ community mourned the loss of Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King, Jr., 64, who passed awaay in March. King was chair of the Central Texas Area Veterans Advisory Committee (AVAC), and the co-chair of the Fort Hood Retired Council. Additionally, King was a member of the Killeen Branch NAACP and served on the board of directors for Killeen Independent School District Communities in Schools, and on the Military Child Education Coalition.
One crowning moment for the month of March was the opening of HomeBase at the site of the former H-E-B on Business 190. Descendants of the company founders flew in from Kansas City to be present for the store’s opening. The Copperas Cove HomeBase store is the company’s fifth store in Texas. The road to the former grocery store becoming a home improvement and lumber store took nearly four years, with H-E-B putting a 55-year deed restriction on the property sale, barring any type of grocery store, fuel, car wash or pharmacy operating at that location. The City of Copperas Cove and the HomeBase parent company, Sutherland Building Materials, LP, have a 380 economic development agreement which was approved by the city council in September 2016. The agreement requires the company to create at least 25 full-time jobs with an annual average salary of $24,947, put a minimum of $300,000 into the property, and when fully developed, the property must have a minimum value of $2,250,000 to be maintained throughout the life of the agreement. In exchange, the city will give the company 40 percent of the sales tax revenue and 40 percent of the property tax revenue, not to exceed $823,251 during the agreement.
The City of Copperas Cove hosted the inaugural Chief Tim Molnes Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Hills of Cove Golf Course to raise money for the Copperas Cove Law Enforcement Explorers Program and for scholarships for graduating high school seniors from Copperas Cove High School. The inaugural event raised more than $7,000.
Keep Texas Beautiful announced Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful as the recipient of the Governor’s Community Achievement Award, in the amount of $210,000. The award was given based on a scored portfolio and application submitted by KCCB showing the efforts of more than 500 volunteers serving a total of 1,444.5 hours in 2016. KCCB board members as well as executive director Silvia Rhoads traveled to Keep Texas Beautiful’s 50th annual conference in San Antonio to formally accept the award in June. This group has maintained sustained excellence for nine years in a row. The $210,000 awarded to KCCB in 2013 has already been designated to fund the landscaped median on Business 190 from Constitution Avenue through Dewald Street.
In March, the Bru Thru Bottle Shop began selling liquor, the first store in Copperas Cove to do so. Store owner Norm Potter has been in business for 20 years. In addition to selling liquor, Potter obtained a cartage permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which means his store can also sell to local restaurants permitted to sell liquor. Mighty Mart convenience store, located at 1618 Veterans Ave., Uptown Liquor #2, Smart Liquor, and Cove Liquor King all applied for liquor permits, as did Twin Liquors, which eventually opened in fall 2017 at the Five Hills Shopping Center.
The City of Copperas Cove marked its 138th birthday with the 9th annual State of the City address at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, during which city manager Andrea Gardner updated the community on the accomplishments of the city’s departments as well as looked ahead to future projects. At the close of the presentation, Tracy Molnes, Kayla Flewelling and Erin Molnes joined Gardner on the stage as the late police chief Tim Molnes was recognized with a proclamation by Mayor Frank Seffrood, which designated March 22, 2017 as Tim Molnes Day in Copperas Cove. Gardner also presented Molnes’ daughters with a pair of flags, an American flag flow over the United States capitol and a Texas flag which was flown over the Texas capitol in Austin. After the presentation, Seffrood cut the first piece of a birthday cake donated by H-E-B Plus!.
The city held its first town hall meeting in conjunction with FATHOM Water Systems in March, to address customer questions and provide information about the transition to the company’s management of the city utility customer accounts. The go-live date had initially been announced as March 20. However, due to further delays, Ryan Haverlah said the date was changed to April 3. Haverlah gave a presentation, in which he discussed several items of concern to the account holders, such as the delayed billing, what some have called “double billing”, as well as how to read the new digital water meters. Customers questioned why the decision to go with FATHOM wasn’t put to the voters.
In March, Copperas Cove Soup Kitchen director Patrick Richardson was named Public Citizen of the Year and was honored at the National Association of Social Workers-Central Texas Branch’s annual banquet. Richardson was nominated for the award by the Texas A&M University Central Texas (TAMUCT) Student Association of Social Workers (SASW).
Also in March, three members of the now-Five Hills Scholarship pageant royalty were named among the twelve 2017 Central Texas Incredible Kids by the Central Texas Youth Coalition, with CCHS senior Kamryn Mayberry and Miss Rabbit Fest, and Emma Rose Gill and Kayla West.
Longtime Copperas Cove resident LTC (Ret.) Ivor McKay W. McKay Sr. passed away on April 1 at the age of 97. McKay made Copperas Cove his home for nearly 50 years after his retirement from the military in late 1967. McKay was a staunch supporter of the chamber of commerce military affairs committee, as well as Fort Hood’s III Corps and First Cavalry. A memorial service was held for McKay on Wednesday afternoon. McKay and his wife, Peg, along with locals Ed Rhode and others, were the ones who began having the dinners in Rhode’s backyard.
Fast Lane Auto Service on North 1st Street held its grand opening celebration on April 1, with the shop managed by Jake Dewald.
On May 1, Jack in the Box in Copperas Cove was closed, along with other stores in the Central Texas area after the corporation took the stores back from the franchisee. In September, a corporation representative confirmed Jack in the Box had made the decision not to reopen the store in Copperas Cove. In November, the building was razed to pave the way for sale of the property.
After much discussion and debate by the Copperas Cove city council, the property which had been leased by the city to the Cove Saddle Club since 1993 was put back on the sales block on May 2 after a 4-3 vote by the Copperas Cove city council on May to rescind its decision to take the property off the market. After a split vote decided by Mayor Frank Seffrood, the council authorized the city manager to approach the highest bidder for the 15.744 acres. The council subsequently accepted an offer of $88,246 for the property on May 16. The club has since renamed itself the Central Texas Saddle Club and is now raising funds to construct an arena at another location, in Kempner.
In May, the City of Copperas Cove kicked off its inaugural Farmers Market, held each Thursday in Copperas Cove City Park through October. The market featured produce from local gardeners, local honey, handcrafted items and baked goods, along with a community booth.
CCISD board of trustees member Doug Cook stepped down from place 5 in May, with the board appointing former member Bob Weiss to fill that spot until the November election.
On Mother’s Day weekend, Ches’s Restaurant reopened at the former location of Ichiban Buffet on Business 190. Ches’s had been open in Copperas Cove more than 20 years ago. Justin and Desiree Henderson reopened the restaurant, once owned and operated by Justin’s father, the late Eddie Henderson.
The former “Rabbit Fest” pageant was renamed the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant and was held the weekend prior to Rabbit Fest in May, with the pageant’s registration being handled by the Parks & Recreation Department. 130 contestants competed for 14 titles, with titleholders making appearances and contributing hours of volunteer service throughout the year.
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce held the 37th annual Rabbit Fest in City Park on the third weekend in May, with a lineup of entertainment and vendors, along with the carnival, parade, and rabbit show as well.
In May, the Coryell County commissioners, the Copperas Cove city council, along with the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation board of directors approved a property swap, with the former EDC building located on South 1st Street going to Coryell County and the EDC gaining the former Coryell County Annex on South 2nd Street along with a payment of $37,510. The closing on the properties did not occur until September 2017, after delays to completion of the city’s new Technology Center, the site of all city meetings. The decision contained a bit of controversy, as some EDC board members felt the EDC could have possibly gotten more money in conjunction with the swap if the decision had occurred after the 2017 property tax values had been certified.
Also during the month of May, Marc Farmer started on the job for the Copperas Cove EDC as its new executive director. However, Farmer was terminated from that position on November 9, with the city manager citing shortcomings of Farmer’s administrative duties and his lack of asking the EDC board for approval for an assistant. The city’s Human Resources Departm ent has conducted interviews in December for the position.
In June, a Copperas Cove family opened Yongs Oriental Market and Korean Grill in Cove Terrace Shopping Center. The restaurant is owned and operated by Cindy Dennis and her family, with mother, Yong Floyd, doing the cooking.
Across town, the site of the former Casa Ole’ building was demolished in June after the sale of the property to Louisiana-based Raising Cane’s, with construction continuing throughout the summer. The 122nd Raising Cane’s in Texas and the 340th in the United States opened in September, with “Caniacs” camping out overnight on Monday outside the restaurant to be one of the first 20 paying customers that would receive one Raising Cane’s meal every week for a year. The first 100 paying customers received a one-of-a-kind Raising Cane’s grand opening T-shirt.
On July 1, Copperas Cove lost one of its longtime businesses when Cove Feed & Seed closed its doors after more than 50 years. Owner Elaine Cline and her daughter, Mandy, ran the business after Frank DiMuccio, Elaine’s father, passed away in December 2015. Cline said she didn’t arrive quickly at the decision to close and it was something she had been contemplating for some time.
The end of July saw the City of Copperas Cove’s inaugural Food Truck Festival at Ogletree Gap Park. The temperatures soared into the triple digits on the day of the festival. On hand were food trucks like Little J Tacos, Frigid Frog, Lowe’s Legs, Detroit’s Own Wings & Things, Cuban Corner, Check Point Germany, E & J Mobil Grill, and Snofellas. The event included live entertainment and also a beer tent and a kids’ zone.
During a July 2017 workshop, the Copperas Cove city council heard the results of a utility rate study conducted by a financial consulting firm, which gave recommendations for water and sewer rate increases based on the shrinking fund balance of the city’s Water and Sewer Fund along with the increasing costs of providing and treating water used by the city’s utility customers. The workshop was the launch for discussions among the council and city staff throughout July and August, which included several options for increases in addition to the possibility of eliminating the senior citizen discount which had been in place via an ordinance in one form or another since the mid 1980s. The legality of giving water discounts was brought into question, based on a state statute. The council ultimately gave direction for the city to seek an opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office on the matter, and in September, voted to increase both the base rates for water and sewer, along with the volumetric rates for water and sewer, starting Jan. 1, 2018. The base rate for water will go to $11.77, up from $11. Volumetric water rate will go to $4.50 per 1,000 gallons for both regular meter and sprinkler meters, up from $4.05. The sewer base rate will go to $12 monthly from $11, with the sewer volumetric rate going to $6 per 1,000, up from $5.67. Historically, the base rates of $11 for both water and sewer have been unchanged since 2011. The volumetric rates for both water and sewer have been raised incrementally every year, except for 2016.
In late July, the City of Copperas Cove learned it had been given the nod for a total of $12.1 million funding from the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization. Funding for improvements to sidewalks on F.M. 116 and F.M. 3046 along with the installation of sidewalks in The Narrows Business & Technology Park and Constitution Avenue were funded at $1.7 million and $975,000, respectively, of State Category 7 and/or Category 9 transportation funds. The big-ticket project for Copperas Cove is approval for $10,000,000 funding for the first phase of the Business 190 median project. This phase will start at Constitution Avenue and go all the way to the Avenue D intersection. The Copperas Cove city council approved three professional services agreements with BSP Engineers for design of those projects. All three projects are part of the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
The newest Family Dollar in Copperas Cove opened on August 17, after the completion of a construction project that began in March 2017. The new approximately 8,000-square-foot store is located at 202 N. 1st St. and is a relocation of the former store, located in Cove Terrace Shopping Center.
Prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year on August 25, local volunteers and service groups came together for the annual Stuff the Bus event, which was held during Tax Free Weekend to help CCISD students in need of school supplies. This year’s Stuff the Bus exceeded the $27,000 worth of supplies donated at the 2016 event.
Late August saw Hurricane Harvey devastate many parts of Southeast Texas, and Copperas Cove residents came to the aid of those located near the Gulf Coast and the greater Houston area to bring aid, supplies, food, and even perform water rescues for flood victims. A number of Copperas Cove H-E-B Partners were part of a 100-partner contingent from the Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Killeen, Temple and Waco area who went to Southeast Texas. They helped reopen stores and also served in mobile kitchens that fed thousands, and also operated mobile pharmacies and business centers. Members of Copperas Cove’s Crestview Christian Church headed to Katy with a boat, where they made contact with others in the relief effort. The Optimist Club of Copperas Cove and local DAV collected donations for flood victims, filling a trailer which was transported by volunteers to aid with the relief effort operating out of Brenham. Integrity Urgent Care in the Five Hills Shopping Center and other businesses also accepted donations for flood victims.
Also in August, eight local game rooms were ordered to cease operations by the Copperas Cove Police Department after the department began looking into the sweepstakes/gaming room operations. Notices were delivered to Gold Rush, Shamrock, Parlor At Five Hills, Cove Internet Café, KT Amusements, Longhorn Café, Surf and Sip, and Hometown Sweepstakes. The issue, said Sgt. Steve O’Neal, was that the businesses tried to represent themselves as sweepstakes, when that’s not how legal sweepstakes are run. The department contended the businesses were “selling” donations, not products. The move came about after five gaming centers received certificates of occupancy in 2017. In April, the department gave a presentation to the city council about possible changes to the city’s code where gaming establishments are concerned, with proposed revisions yet to come before council.
The first building project in The Narrows Business & Technology Park began site work and turning dirt in August 2017, for the newest truck driving school of CDL Research & Development Group. CDLRDG received a discount incentive on the property from the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, which owns the park. In return, the company is required to create four jobs with an aggregate payroll of $200,000 within 18 months after opening and receive its certificate of occupancy from the city within 12 months of the effective date of the performance agreement. The site will also eventually have a drop-off point for tractor trailer vehicles on the property.
A September 3 burglary and theft of 26 handguns from Kwik Cash Pawn and Gun led to the arrest of 22-year-old Christwell Lowell Mathes Jr., who was charged with burglary of a building and theft of a firearm and received a total of $30,000 in bonds for each charge. The criminal complaint and arrest warrant resulted after an investigation conducted by the Copperas Cove Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
The City of Copperas Cove began holding meetings in the new information technology building, located at 508 S. 2nd St. Work began on the site preparation for the building in December 2016, with the building located behind the site of the old city hall. The 6,144-square-foot building houses the city’s fiberoptics infrastructure and servers, as well as offices and meeting space. The project was originally approved by the Copperas Cove city council in September 2015.
In September, a second visit from FATHOM Water Systems reps was made to Copperas Cove, this time by Jason Bethke, company president. Bethke was present to update the council on the ongoing project, but he also agreed to meet one-on-one with customers to discuss billing issues. In his report, Bethke also addressed an issue which occurred during June, July and August with billing services, an issue which affected 1,500 customers, or a little more than 10 percent of account holders. A piece of equipment failed and there was a workaround that did not “get the results we anticipated for about 1,500 homes across the community.” This resulted in higher bills for June and July, and some customers with bills showing 10 days of consumption in July and 50 in August. One of the issues was that Bethke said it was a manual process and they’d done a “root cause analysis” to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. He also addressed the safety protocols for the company’s billing website and the checks and audits performed to ensure safety. He said they are also continuing to improve the web and app so customers can track their usage. Council members reacted to the explanation and report with calls for a resolution and better communication. After the report, account holders were able to meet with Bethke, along with a City of Copperas Cove staff member present as well. At the end of the meeting, the council concurred with councilman Jay Manning’s request that a 3rd party do a sampling audit of some of the water meters to test their accuracy.
The third Dollar General in Copperas Cove opened its doors on September 16 at 2241 Cline Dr., after beginning construction in spring 2017.
Also in September, the Copperas Cove Burger King was torn down, with a rebuild currently in progress. A brand-new Burger King will open at that location in early 2018.
McAlister’s Deli was the first business to open in the newly constructed addition to the Five Hills Shopping Center, with literal fanfare from the Copperas Cove Junior High Bullpups band at its grand opening in September.
The month of October proved to be a booming month for Copperas Cove’s retail sector, with multiple grand openings in the newly constructed phase of the Five Hills Shopping Center, to include neighbors for McAlister’s Deli. Ross – Dress For Less, Twin Liquors, maurices, and Bealls all opened their doors to eager customers. Both Burke’s Outlet and longtime Cove business Bill French Jewelers opened in November.
On the fourth Friday of October, CCISD gave its official enrollment number, the Average Daily Attendance, to the Texas Education Agency. That number was 8,151, an increase of 52 students from the 8,099 taken last year at the same time.
Growth was the word for Copperas Cove ISD in 2017, with the district completing a cafeteria expansion at House Creek Elementary School. The district also broke ground on its new transportation center off Summers Road, and also began renovations of the future administration building, located on Main Street. The transportation center is projected to be up and running by the start of the 2018-2018 school year, and the new administration building will be open for business in June 2018.
In October, the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant royalty rode atop the brand-new parade float for the City of Copperas Cove for the first time, when the float made its debut in the Texas State Fair opening day parade in Dallas. The float made subsequent appearances throughout the remainder of 2017, for the first time in Copperas Cove during the VFW Post 8577’s annual Veterans Day parade. It captured first place honors in both the Killeen and Gatesville Christmas parades, and third in the Lampasas parade.
Tony Smith was recognized in October along with 10 other volunteers from across the state of Texas as one of the recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards during a reception at the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin. Smith was named in June as the recipient of the 2017 Service to Veterans Award. A retired veteran, Smith works as a volunteer county-appointed Veterans Service Officer for veterans, serves as the commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74 and is a trained small group facilitator through Bring Everyone in the Zone. Smith hopes to get a Disabled American Veterans group started in Copperas Cove.
The month of November saw the general election for two Copperas Cove city council seats, with former councilman Charlie Youngs besting incumbent Matt Russell in the polls. In a three-way race for the place 6 seat occupied by George Duncan, a three-way race between John A. Hull, E. Marc Payne, and Danny Palmer resulted in a December 12 runoff between Hull and Payne, with Payne beating Hull in a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Also during the November 7 general election, Copperas Cove voters said “no” to the creation of a municipal development district, or MDD, within the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction of Copperas Cove.
For the CCISD board of trustees election, three incumbents kept their seats, with Jim Copeland, Bob Weiss, and Dr. Karen Harrison remaining in office. Weiss had been appointed to replace Doug Cook, who stepped down in May 2017.
On November 10, 17-year-old Larry Anthony Quinn Thomas died after a single gunshot wound to the head. Two Copperas Cove men were arrested for Thomas’ death shortly after, with Michael Onyemaechi Rodriguez Kiaunte Ejiawoko, 17, and Joshua David Vega, 23, being arrested by Copperas Cove police on November 15. A third suspect, 21-year-old Andrew Sommervold, was arrested in Contra County, California in early December after being at large for more than three weeks.
About one week after Thomas’ death, 31-year-old Michael Paradise was shot at his home in the 200 block of Julia Drive, just outside the Copperas Cove city limits on November 17. Bobby Wayne Whitehead, 36, was arrested in Travis County and charged with Paradise’s murder. Whitehead told an informant that he shot Paradise because Whitehead had a “bad vibe” about him. Paradise was a military veteran and is survived by his wife and two children.
VFW Post 8577 named its winners of the annual Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy, and the Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Awards, with Mandi Stai, wining for secondary teacher, Mary Ann Davis winning for junior high teacher, and Amy Gallen winning for elementary teacher. First place for the Patriot’s Pen essay contest went to Madison Sims, and Dimas Bonet winning first place in the Voice of Democracy contest.
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving was yet another town hall meeting with the city’s Utility Department and FATHOM president Jason Bethke, with the two-hour meeting allowing customers to vent their concerns and frustrations with ongoing customer service and billing issues by the utility management company. Since late August, the company has begun providing regular information updates to the Copperas Cove city council, with the billing rates more than 99 percent as of the most recent report.
In December, the City of Copperas Cove held its Christmas Extravaganza in Copperas Cove City Park, for the second year expanding the event from a Christmas tree lighting to a one-night visit with Santa, live music, and family activities. The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce held the annual Krist Kindl Markt in downtown Copperas Cove, along with the annual Christmas parade on the first Saturday in December.
Some city utility account customers were issued refund checks from the City of Copperas Cove for utility account charges which were made in error, totaling $276,073. Customers with accounts opened prior to Aug. 1, 2004 received the checks after the city reviewed charges of the temporary base rates approved for 2017 and those customers had been charged the temporary base rates in error.
Due to the uptick in retail sales in Copperas Cove, the city’s sales tax revenue checks for the calendar year 2017 ended on a high note as well. For December 2017, the city of Copperas Cove’s tax revenue check amounted to $374,902.41, a 16.06 percent increase compared to December 2016. Overall for 2017, the city received a total of $4,579,549.85 for the calendar year, an increase of $358,755.79 compared to 2016.
In December, the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors released housing statistics for the month of November 2017. Last month, there were 46 closings on home sales, up 2.2 percent compared to last November. There were 205 active listings, up 2 percent. The median price of a home sold last month in Copperas Cove was $148,950, with 62.2 percent of the homes sold in Copperas Cove being in the $100,000-$199,999 range, 26.7 percent in the $0-$99,999 range, 8.9 percent in the $200,000-$299,999 range, and 2.2 percent in the $300,000-$399,999 range.