EastTexasNewsWebsite BannerAd

Log in
  • Christmas angels in Kennard (video)

    IMG 8447TONI BROWNING | HCC The anticipation was almost unbearable as the crowd waited for the Kennard Volunteer Fire Department parade to appear down the main street on Saturday, Dec. 5. Lights in the distance could be seen flashing, sirens could be heard and children eagerly asked parents how much longer they had to wait. The parade, when it appeared, did not disappoint anyone.

    By Toni Browning

    The feel-good Christmas movies are already available on your television, cooler weather is here, hot chocolate is being enjoyed, Thanksgiving has passed, children and teachers are looking forward to holiday breaks and the friendly town of Kennard has recently enjoyed their annual Christmas celebration! Are you feeling warm and cozy yet?

    Kennard residents have long been huge supporters of Christmas cheer, fun and worship. This year, the town celebrated the Christmas season at the Crossing Over the Cochino’s 33rd annual Christmas and Trade Days event. The “Angels over the Pines” themed event was held Saturday, Dec. 5.

    The fun started with a house decorating contest named, The Angel’s Spirit. Everyone in Kennard was encouraged to decorate their homes to be judged.

    Video of the Kennard Tree Lighting

    The Christmas tree, placed near the city sign, was festively decorated by school children to symbolize the hope, love and true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. Community members also helped decorate the tree with homemade or store-bought pinecones and angels. Coming together at the annual tree lighting helps residents show and feel community support.

    Cool clear skies made the day of the festival perfect as vendors filled the sides of the road with their wares and food. Each year items such as woodwork, crafts, gifts, garage sale items and food are sold. Tummy warming gumbo was on offer by the Tabernacle of Praise Church.

    The 4th Annual Fire in the Hole Chili Cook-off fund raiser benefiting the Kennard Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) invited local chili cookers to showcase their best recipe in the hopes of winning over the tasting judges.

    As if this all-day fun were not enough to get you in the spirit, the KVFD sponsored a huge lighted parade that began at 6 p.m. The parade is touted to be the largest in Houston County!

    Festival goers enjoyed floats, vehicles, wagons, horses, motorcycles, bicycles, 4-wheelers, police cars and many fire trucks from around the county.

    Christmas is a time for children. Some children’s families may not be as fortunate as others. Several community members collected toys that will be given to local children. New, unwrapped toys were dropped off at Fellowship Hall (formerly Country Church Café), Curry’s Grocery and the Citizens National Bank in Kennard.

    Another donation opportunity featured a Husqvarna Z254F zero turn mower. The funds from the tickets sold will help host the event in 2021.

  • Kennard ISD election results canvassed, accepted

    NEWS KISD TrusteesALTON PORTER | HCC Kennard ISD trustees being sworn-in at Thursday’s meeting, pictured from left-to-right, are continuing Board President Rebecca Parker, Jo Smith and Kenneth Dowdy.

    By Alton Porter

    KENNARD – Members of the Kennard ISD board of trustees canvassed the district’s May 1 election results and approved and accepted them at a regular meeting of the board Thursday, May 6.

    After the canvass was completed, the board’s reelected and newly elected trustees were administered the oath of office and the six trustees present elected officers to lead the board during the next 12 months. Trustee Brijesh Patel was absent.

    Board President Rebecca Parker, who received 67 votes, was reelected to continue serving on the board, and Kenneth Dowdy, who received 66 votes, and Jo Smith, who received 58 votes, were newly elected. All three were administered the oath by Carolyn Harrison, administrative assistant to Kennard Independent School District Superintendent Malinda Lindsey.

    Harrison also administered the district’s statement of office to the electees and passed out certificates of election to them.

    The two unsuccessful candidates in the election were Austin Gladden, who received 56 votes, and Tracy Sowell, who received 15 votes.

    “There were 102 people that came up to the school and casted votes,” Board Vice President Keith Cole said.

    Kennard ISD trustees serve in at-large positions on the board.

    The trustees reelected Parker to continue serving as board president, Cole to continue serving as board vice president and Brittani Womack to continue serving as board secretary.

    During the recognition part of the meeting, Lindsey congratulated and welcomed new trustees Dowdy and Smith to the board and commended the district’s softball and baseball teams’ coaches and student athletes who “are doing very well,” she said.

    “We had all-district honors for softball,” winning offensive player of the year; defensive player of the year, pitcher of the year, coach of the year, and first and second team awards.

    All-district baseball awards won by district athletes were most valuable player, offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, first and second team honors, and coach of the year, Lindsey said. “So, we were well represented in softball and baseball.”

    On an agenda item requiring other action, the trustees approved an ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) III funds and plan proposal. Concerning ESSER III, Lindsey said, “Last week, the governor finally released that $11.8 million from the federal government to the school districts. There’s two phases. Right now, we’ll get two-thirds of our money. Our allocation is $1.2 million.”

    “This plan will utilize $835,000 of it, which is what our two-thirds is. There are specific program guidelines. The purpose of it is really to overcome the money loss of our kids from Covid. So, our plan here is to hire two interventionists—math and reading interventionists—for grades K (kindergarten) through five to support those kids with evidence-based and research interventions to help close those gaps.

    Under the ESSER Fund, established as part of the Education Stabilization Fund in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, state educational agencies will award subgrants to local educational agencies to address the impact that the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation, according to the US Department of Education’s Office of Elementary & Secondary Education website.

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, the CARES Act, which passed March 27, 2020, provided $13.5 billion to the ESSER Fund. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), which passed Dec. 27, 2020, provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER II fund.

    The American Rescue Plan Act, which passed March 11 this year, provided $122.7 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, which is known as the ESSER III fund.

    State educational agencies are required to reserve their allocations to carry out activities: 5% to address learning loss, 1% for afterschool activities, and 1% for summer learning programs. Local educational agencies must reserve at least 20% of the funding they receive to address learning loss. Two-thirds of ESSER funds are immediately available to states, while remaining funds will be made available after states submit ESSER implementation plans.

    Concerning communications received by district officials, Parker said, “Some of the boys (in the district’s schools) provided a request” in a letter sent to the officials. “They would like to have a policy change, stating (in the letter), ‘We believe that boys should be allowed to wear earrings. Why should girls be able to and boys not? There should be no difference. Please consider this policy change (request).’”

    No item was on the agenda to address the matter at the meeting, so it will be placed on an agenda and considered at a future meeting, the board president said.

    In a discussion about district facilities, Lindsey and Parker noted that a house the district owns and is located on its property is dilapidated and needs to be gotten rid of.

    “Last month, we discussed several facility items,” Lindsey said. “One of the things we did talk about was the state of the house on our property.” Lindsey said officials requested that a potential contractor “come and give us a quote on demolition of the house and the tree; so, we’re just bringing that to you. The cost to demo the house and clean up and haul off would be $16,800. If we include all the … trees south of the power lines—this would not include the trees between the power lines and the highway—that would be an additional $4,200,” Lindsey said.

    “It’s just not really serving us any purpose, but we don’t want to lose the property because we don’t have a lot of land to work with,” Parker said. “We’ve discussed the possibility of just tearing it down and opening that up to have more space for something for the future or more parking … or whatever.”

    The trustees deferred taking action on the matter and will address it at a future meeting.

    Among other items requiring that action be taken, the trustees appointed Parker to be the district’s delegate and board member Terry Pilkington to be its alternate delegate at the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards 2021 convention which will be held in Dallas Sept. 24-26.

    In other business, the trustees approved the district’s students’ insurance policy with Health Special Risk, Inc. for the 2021-2022 school year and its 2021-2022 Allotment and TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) certification form. TEKS are the state standards for what students should know and be able to do in each subject and grade level.

    In another action, the trustees approved an amendment to the District of Innovation program. “We are a District of Innovation; and currently, the only thing we use District of Innovation for is to start school earlier than the fourth Monday in August that the law requires,” said Lindsey.

    “However, it’s time for us to redo our depository contract. This provides us because we only have a depository here and we need to do it every two years. By gaining this exemption, we’d be able to choose our existing bank here as our contract and we don’t have to … use it for six or more years instead of having to come to you every year.

    “One of the reasons also is because it is very costly to the district. If we go out every two years, we have to do an RFP—request for proposal—put it in the newspaper, and our current commercial bank gives us the best rates. Our people would have to go somewhere else. If we chose something in Crockett, they’d have to go to Crockett every day or every other day to deposit our money. So, we feel like this amendment is in the best fiscal responsibility to our district.”

  • KISD trustees make mask wearing optional

    KISD supt img page wz0estCOURTESY PHOTO KISD Superintendent Malinda Lindsey

    By Alton Porter

    Like students, faculty members and staffers in other independent school districts across the state, those in Kennard now can choose whether or not to wear face coverings to school.

    Members of the Kennard Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a “mask or no mask requirement,” giving students and district personnel the options at a regular board meeting Monday, March 15.

    The trustees took the action in response to an executive order issued by Governor Greg Abbott March 2 and which took effect March 10, lifting his former statewide mask mandate and a change in health guidelines by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), according to KISD Superintendent Malinda Lindsey.

    “Our board approved the no mask requirement. However, it is optional. If a student or staff member wants to continue to wear their mask, they may do so. It is optional at this time.”

    Before Abbott issued the recent executive order, “TEA required us all to wear masks, based on the governor’s orders,” including his mask mandate executive order issued during the week of June 29 last year), Lindsey said.

    “And since he changed, TEA had changed their health guidelines. And it said that the only thing that the schools could do—the board had the local authority to change the mask requirement. We still have to continue to follow TEA’s public health guidance. But the only thing that we could change was the mask requirement. The school board had the authority to make that decision.”

    Among other actions taken at the meeting, the trustees approved a “missed school day waiver” to account for days missed by school employees during last month’s severe winter storms.

    “Due to the winter freeze in February, we had to ask TEA for waivers, due to not having electricity and those types of things,” the KISD superintendent said. “And we asked for waivers from Feb. 16-19 because that Monday (Feb. 15, when the first of the two storms created electrical power outage and water service loss problems), we were already out for a holiday.”

    The waiver eliminates the requirement that the staffers make up for those missed days, Lindsey said, adding, they will be paid as usual for those days.

    In other business, the KISD trustees voted to approve the district’s school calendar for the 2021-2022 school year and approved an Instructional Materials Recommendation Proclamation for 2021.

    A copy of the calendar is posted on the district’s website and Facebook page.

    About the instructional materials recommendation proclamation, Lindsey said, “This year is time to adopt new materials for pre-k, and we recommended to adopt Frog Street (one of several pre-kindergarten curriculums provided by an approved vendor included on a list provided by TEA),” and the recommendation was approved.

    “TEA provides a list of approved vendors for us to look at that they feel are appropriate and aligned with text,” Lindsey said. “And then, it’s up to the district to evaluate those on the list to make the best recommendation for their district.

    “It’s the curriculum that our teachers will use that are based on the pre-k guidelines. We currently use the program, but now it’s time to adopt our instructional coach. And our teachers did and evaluation process of three vendors and found that Frog Street they felt would be the best to meet the needs of our kids.”

    In another action, the trustees approved contracting with the Axley & Rode, LLP, certified public accounting firm, to serve as the district’s auditor for the 2021-2022 school and fiscal year.

    During reports by Principal Oscar Encarnacion and Assistant Principal Robin Stowe, it was noted that “we gave benchmarks last week,” said Lindsey. “And we just had a summary of our data to look at where we need to do some intervention prior to giving STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness).”

    Lindsey said Encarnacion and Stowe were to meet with teachers Thursday or Friday, March 18 or 19, “to go over that data and make individual student plans” for administering the test. She said the district is required by TEA to administer the test this school year, adding, “we have chosen this year to go all online 100% for testing.” Most of the test will be administered to students in late May, she said.

    Students in grades three through eight, will be given the tests, Lindsey said. “And then, you have your Algebra I, Biology, US History, English I and English II” high school classes that will be administered tests.

    During the meeting, student participants in this year’s Kennard High School one-act play cast and staff were recognized for their success in advancing to bi-district competition, which took place Monday, March 22.

    “We also recognized our basketball all-district students,” Lindsey said, adding, “and our coach, Cory Carden, was named district coach of the year. So, we were very proud of him.”

    After reconvening the open, public part of the meeting, following a closed, executive session, the trustees approved annual contracts for Principal Encarnacion and Assistant Principal Stowe; the resignation of former school nurse Diann Deckard; and routine requests for personnel employment, teacher contract renewal and proposed renewal, renewals for professional employees in non-certified positions and approval of at-will employees for 2021-2022, Lindsey said.

  • Leggett tackles state-ranked Kennard

    IMG 4923BRIAN BESCH | PCE

    By Brian Besch

    The bi-district round of the playoffs was not easy, but the Leggett Pirates outlasted state-ranked Kennard 39-36 in Huntington Tuesday.

    Down 30-26 in the fourth, Kennard received contributions from five different players and outscored Leggett 10-9. However, a heave from behind the arc in the final second did not fall and allowed the Pirates and their fans to celebrate.

    Leggett coach Sean Edwards felt that Tuesday's performance over the No. 17 team in 1A was the most complete of the year.

    "I told the kids that you have to think about 10 years down the road -- any regrets or what you should've, could've, would've (done)," he said. "It is just representing your school, your family and everybody that was at Leggett before you. It is starting to jell and they know it is playoff time. I see serious on their face."

    The game was the first competition in over a week for Kennard.

    "We were very rusty," Tiger coach Cory Carden said. "We came off of almost a week and a half of no basketball. It really kind of put a dent in what we're doing. They got to play on Saturday and we could say excuses for all of that, but it came down to who wanted it more. I think they got more loose balls and they were scrapping too. They came out and won the first couple of minutes and I think that's kind of what kept their momentum the rest of the game."

    Leggett established an early lead, but the Tigers would quickly recover. Hitting a 3-pointer to close the first quarter, Kennard held an 8-7 advantage.

    Down 20-15 at the half, the Pirates went to work in the third. They began a 15-3 run to go up 12 until a Tiger 3-pointer from Dylan Cole ended the period.

    "We got in foul trouble and we had to slow it down and play a half-court game," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said. (Our plan) was to press and run them. They broke it and they were banging us inside and they were physical at first. We had to change some stuff up in the second half and come with it."

    Edwards agreed that the offense was able to relax a bit after ditching the full-court press.

    "We play different types and different styles. We can play slow or fast, but we have to go with what gets us the win that night."

    Leggett's JaColby Sells finished with 18 points, tops on the night. Teammate Chase Parrish added eight and Garrett Francois hit an important bucket and free throws in the final quarter. Kennard's Cole led the Tigers with eight points, while Jacob Catoe and Okoye Smotherman each had seven.

    The Tigers finish the 2020-21 season with a district championship and plenty of individual accolades.

    "We had a great year and I hate that it went down this way," Carden said. "We've played a lot better than this. We came out tonight, I think a little overconfident and rusty, but we had a great season. We topped at 17th in the state and I'm going to have an all-district MVP and I'm going to have first team all-district players. We had a great year, it is just that tonight was not our night. Games like this when it is playoff time, that one night is going to cost you. The playoffs are not forgiving at all."