HASKELL TO BE RECOGNIZED AS A COMMUNITY OF ACHIEVEMENT

The City of Haskell will be honored with the “Community Achievement Award” at the 23rd Annual Texas Midwest Conference, Oct. 26th, at the Abilene Civic Center.

According to TMCN Executive Director Kathy Keane, “the award was developed as a way to encourage cities of all sizes in the region to be better prepared for future growth and economic development programs.”  Criteria to qualify for the award include vision, pride, youth involvement, connectivity and assessment.  The submitted application detailed Haskell’s community-wide plan (vision), beautification efforts (pride), student participation on local projects (youth involvement) and website (connectivity).  Individuals from neighboring communities in the region were then assigned to visit the city to conduct a windshield tour of what a visitor sees and experiences when they come to town (assessment).  Information from the windshield tour will be provided to local leaders when completed.

The Community Achievement Award will be presented during conference luncheon ceremonies.  Haskell will receive the 2016 Award along with the community of Jacksboro.

Texas Midwest Community Network is a regional organization for community and economic development, regional tourism promotion, leadership education, and legislative awareness. It is an organization of “communities working together to accomplish what one community cannot do alone.” For more information about Texas Midwest Community Network visit www.tmcn.org.

TMCN Member cities are: Abilene, Albany, Anson, Aspermont, Baird, Ballinger, Brady, Breckenridge, Bronte, Brownwood, Buffalo Gap, Cisco, Clyde, Coleman, Colorado City, Comanche, Cross Plains, De Leon, Dublin, Early, Eastland, Eden, Goldthwaite, Gorman, Graham, Hamilton, Hamlin, Haskell, Hico, Jacksboro, Jayton, Knox City, Menard, Merkel, Miles, Munday, Ranger, Rising Star, Robert Lee, Rising Star, Roscoe, Rotan, San Saba, Santa Anna, Seymour, Snyder, Stamford, Sweetwater, Throckmorton, Tye, and Winters

If you are interested in attending the conference, please contact the DCOH Executive Director, Jimi Coplen at 864-3424.    

Scholarship Opportunity, Bright Horizons

By Christina Isbell, Keep Haskell Beautiful

Reasons for volunteering are almost endless. Probably the best reason of all is to help others by making a difference and giving back to the community. A great time to start making a difference in your community is at a young age.

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This is why Keep Haskell Beautiful is offering a $500.00 scholarship(s) to a graduating student enrolled in a Haskell County school. Requirements to be eligible for the scholarship are 15 hours of community service during the student’s Junior and/or Senior year. Hours of community service must be documented with a signature. Volunteer hours with Keep Haskell Beautiful will be weighted more than other community service hours. This scholarship can be given to students planning to attend a College, Technological, or Vocational school. Scholarship applications are available in all Haskell County Schools and online by clicking here and are due May 1, 2017.

Community service projects open many doors. They benefit both college and professional resumes. Many college applications require you to have some type of community service. It also sets you up for additional scholarships and programs. Employers also look favorably upon volunteer experience and understand the skill-set it brings to the workplace.

You are not only giving back to your community while volunteering, but you are also learning new skills and sharpening old ones. You are honing your communication skills, developing leadership, learning teamwork, and time management skills.

Whether you want to do your part or make your mark, there are many great reasons to volunteer. And those that benefit from your help will just be happy you did it, no matter the reason. Please watch KHB Facebook page for more information on when community service opportunities are available.

Sand Volleyball Pit (Bright Horizons)

By Christina Isbell

The Haskell Junior High school kids can be credited with the construction of a sand volleyball pit at the park. The 2015 Haskell Leadership class wanted to make the park all-age friendly. In planning, they decided to survey the entire Junior High to see what kind of activities they would like added to the park. The top 3 things the Junior High kids wanted to see were: a Volleyball Court, a Gaga Pit and improvements to the tennis/basketball courts. Other additions they suggested were wall ball, mini skate park and a rock climbing wall, to name a few more.

On August 1, 2016, KHB, the City of Haskell and Haskell County started working together to install the sand volleyball pit, located west of the pool. We hope to see the volleyball court completed by September 9.

On September 10, from 4-8pm, KHB along with other non-profits and the City of Haskell will be holding a Back to School Bash at the park. There will be fun games, prizes and free hot dogs for everyone. We hope to do a dedication of the sand volleyball pit during this event.

Keep Haskell Beautiful is a non-profit that was formed when the 2014 and 2015 leadership classes and the Betterment Committee joined forces to make three small groups into one large group.  Prior to the formation of KHB, the 2014 leadership class was given the task of a project that would improve their community. The group wanted to make their impact in the park area. They started by purchasing two pieces of new park equipment and hope to make many more improvements in the future. KHB has been able to join forces with them and the Betterment Committee to add the volleyball pit and make plans for the future.

Bright Horizons Weekly Update

Why Leadership?

I’m sure by now you have heard about the Knox-Haskell Rural Leadership Program.  You may be wondering, “What will I get out of it?” or “ Why take the time?”

This program is a fantastic opportunity only available in Haskell and Knox Counties.  You are meeting people in your community and neighboring community. You are networking with your city and county government. You are touring local businesses, learning about your local hospital, school system and assets around your region.

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When you finish this program, you will have gained valuable leadership skills, you will have met people from around the region, and you will know more about your community as a whole. The only way you can gain this kind of insight is to invest the time in a program like this one.

The leadership program kicks off September 23, 2016 and ends in May 2016. We will take you through a fun orientation process where you get to know the group. Our groups are usually 12-15 people.  Then, we will meet on the first Friday of each month starting in October. You will spend the morning working through valuable curriculum. Then, in the afternoon you will be on your feet and touring Haskell and Knox Counties. These tours will expose you to various topics such as economic development, agriculture, healthcare and all the things that make up the assets of a community. Each month we will alternate between Haskell and Knox County. Not only will you learn about your county, but you will also learn about your neighbors.

The DCOH is providing the tools, now we hope you will take advantage of the opportunity. We promise you won’t regret it…just ask any of our past participants.  Applications can be picked up at the DCOH office or downloaded at www.haskelltexasonline.com. For more information call the DCOH at 940.864.3424.

Haskell Representatives take on D.C. for Help with the RPDC

Haskell County and the Development Corporation of Haskell (DCOH) embarked on Washington D.C., August 17-19, 2016, in order to meet with federal officials who make decisions on placing federal detainees at the Rolling Plains Detention Center (RPDC). The facility is slated to close by end of year if additional detainees are not found to occupy the facility.

Haskell County Judge -David Davis, DCOH Executive Director - Jimi Coplen, Intergovernmental Relations Chair - Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., DCOH Board of Directors & Haskell National Bank - Randy Hise
Haskell County Judge -David Davis, DCOH Executive Director – Jimi Coplen, Intergovernmental Relations Chair – Texas Senator, Eddie Lucio, Jr., DCOH Board of Directors & Haskell National Bank VP – Randy Hise

Haskell representatives David Davis, Jimi Coplen and Randy Hise traveled to Washington D.C. and met with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Senator Ted Cruz’s office,  US Senator John Cornyn’s office, and  the US House of Representatives Randy Neugebauer’s office.

The most important meeting was with ICE officials. That is the current detainee population held at the RPDC.  The hope is that ICE could fill their new facility at Alvarado and still have enough detainees to fill the RPDC. The three ICE officials that met with the group were attentive and positive.  Each of them had visited the Haskell facility in the past and was familiar with it. They assured the group the only reason for building a new facility was logistical and to have detainees closer to the federal court in Dallas.  They said the plan was to start moving detainees around December 1, 2016. The group also discussed with ICE the vast number of detainees crossing the Texas border, but then shipped to various places around the United States. ICE officials stated they have not had enough beds in Texas to house them here. Our group assured them there were beds in Texas and soon there would be more beds in Haskell. And, Haskell would like to be considered for additional populations. They agreed to send overflow to Haskell; however, this is not enough to fill the facility. Haskell will need more than 20-40 overflows in order to keep the facility open and thriving.

The group also met with HHS. This organization places unaccompanied minors who cross the border illegally into facilities across the United States. Those minors are housed at the expense of the United States until they can go before an immigration judge.  The average stay is around 35 days.  They are later placed with a foster family. This population is housed differently than a prisoner. They are detained, but it is more of a camp-like environment, large dorms, common areas, etc. The RPDC is not set up for this type of population. The current facility would have to be extremely retrofitted to accompany them. HHS was also attentive and very gracious to hear about the Haskell facility. In order to be considered by HHC, one must submit a grant proposal and it could take up to a year before a child is placed.  This is certainly not the ideal population for the RPDC due to the configuration, but it will be taken under considered.

Haskell representatives had hoped to meet with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) while in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday, August 18, 2016, that they would no longer be contracting with private facilities. This will be a hard hit on many Texas counties who currently house BOP prisoners. This decision does not affect ICE detainees as are in the Rolling Plains Detention Center because ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Justice.

Haskell representatives were not able to meet with the US Marshall Service, but did receive a phone call from them. Haskell resides in the Northern District. The acting Marshall who called was very helpful, but said they did not need any beds at this time. The group inquired about a recent article that stated the Odessa district was in need.  He told them to call that office directly to see if they would be interested in housing people in the Haskell facility.

Fortunately, Haskell was able to have congressional staff attend meetings with them. Before the group arrived, a joint letter was sent to HHS, ICE, BOP and the US Marshall Service from Texas Senator Charles Perry and Representatives James Frank and Drew Springer. This helped set the stage to get them in the door with Congressional representatives Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Randy Neugebauer. Because it is August in Washington, only their staff was available. Haskell representatives were able to brief them on the situation, have them attend meetings with them, and they agreed to circle back with these offices in the future.

Randy Hise, Eddie Lucio, Jr, David Davis, Hannah Jaeckle (Neugebauer's office), Jimi Coplen
Randy Hise, Eddie Lucio, Jr, David Davis, Hannah Jaeckle (Neugebauer’s office), Jimi Coplen

The current RPDC jail management company, Emerald, is also actively seeking additional inmate populations for the RPDC. They are meeting with groups not associated with the federal government such as other states and various special interest groups who house prisoners. Haskell County is briefed weekly on their efforts. Emerald is  interested in staying in Haskell and running the RPDC facility as well as the new facility in Alvarado.

Haskell County and the DCOH hope this article clears up any confusion or rumors that have been floating around the community. They also want the citizens to know that no stone is being left unturned. They are working diligently on this project and will continue to do whatever it takes to keep the RPDC open. It’s a vital part of the community and will have a huge economic impact on every entity in Haskell and the general population if it were to close.

Bright Horizons Weekly Update

The Haskell Chamber of Commerce, Development Corporation and Keep Haskell Beautiful have joined forces to bring you up-to-date articles about their organization and projects.  Each week, one will write about what is going on within their organization. The goal is to keep the public aware of current projects and educate citizens about various topics.  The articles will also help to let the public know where the needs are and how to become involved in the community.

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The DCOH is hard at work helping the county secure new contracts for new prisoners at the Rolling Plains Detention Center. The DCOH is also accepting store front beautification grant applications. Those are due by September 30, 2016. Also, we are recruiting new participants to our adult leadership program. That deadline is September 1, 2016.

Heads up on the Community-Wide Garage Sale on Saturday, October 1st. This gives you plenty of time to get your garage sale items together. Come by the chamber to learn more about the Chamber’s HOT Grant Program that can help with your organization events.

Keep Haskell Beautiful (KHB) is a non-profit organization that educates and engages the citizens of Haskell to take responsibility for enhancing their community. So far KHB has held two clean-up events, one on the square and one at the park, and added two new pieces of equipment to the park. KHB hosted a volleyball tournament and commissioned the Deep Roots mural downtown. We are now in the process of putting in a sand volleyball court at the park and hope to continually add improvements to the park complex. Keep Haskell Beautiful is also in the process in starting a scholarship fund for the youth in our community.

Knox-Haskell Counties Rural Leadership Program Graduates 12

A second year of the Knox-Haskell Counties Texas Rural Leadership Program (TRLP) is in the books. Twelve participants from Knox and Haskell counties graduated from the 8-month program on Monday night, May 9, 2016, at the Webfoot Connections Lodge in Rochester, Texas. They were joined by their employers, family, city and county government officials, and board members.

Rural Leadership 2016
Graduation Celebration. Top row: Jamie Ferguson, Sheri Warren, Nicole Buchanan, Christina Isbell, Nicki Ivie, Jamie Jordan, Lorrie Coop, Jimi Coplen. Bottom row: Bea Hernandez, Bianca Harrimon and Susan Jarred.  Not pictured are Veronica Anderson, Jessica Boggs, Lisa Tidwell

The graduation celebration was a fun-filled evening. Live music was provided by Parris Pittman, who was a graduate of last year’s program. Roger Rowe and his staff at Webfoot Connections Lodge prepared and served a steak and chicken dinner to the group. The speaker of the evening was Nicki Harle from Baird. Ms. Harle is the former executive director and founder of Texas Midwest Community Network and currently runs a leadership program for Bastrop County. Participants answered her questions about impactful and memorable moments throughout the past 8 months.  She left the group with some final notes on not letting fear, fault or feelings get in the way of accomplishing big things in the community.

Ms. Nancy Birkenfeld is the County Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Knox County and also serves as the KCVG Board Member. She sent one of her employees Bea Hernandez through the program. “It is encouraging to see how these ladies have developed into confident leaders for our respective towns and counties through this program,” said Ms. Birkenfeld.

Each county will put their new-found skills and experience into practice through the fulfillment of a community project. These projects are collaborations among the participants. The Knox County participants are planning to host a Youth Engagement Symposium in the fall of 2016. The goal of the symposium is to bring communities and volunteers together at a day-long event and provide them with information and resources they need to focus on and address youth issues identified in the county.  Hopefully, each community will leave empowered to develop youth centers that provide kids a safe place to come to study, learn and socialize after school. The Haskell County group is working on a digital sign that will be placed on the courthouse square. The sign will be used to display messages that pertain to the citizens of Haskell, events and emergency messages. The group is gathering quotes from several different companies and working on the details for the public to get their messages displayed.

“In the past two years, we have seen the incredible impact this program has had on our communities. Besides their group projects which have benefited our towns, many of these young men and women have joined civic organizations, volunteered for events, attended meetings and brought their newly-minted leadership skills with them. Their enthusiasm is contagious, their presence: priceless,” beamed Jill Druesedow, Haskell City Council.

Knox Haskell Rural Leadership 2016
 TRLP in Austin at the Capital. Top Row:  Sheri Warren , Nicole Buchanan, Jamie Jordan, Nicki Ivie,  Jessica Boggs. Middle row: Lorrie Coop, Susan Jarred , Jamie Ferguson,  Beatrice Hernandez. Front row: Bianca Harrimon, Lisa Tidwell , Christina Isbell,  Veronica Anderson.

The TRLP program began last year as a joint effort between the Knox County Visioning Group (KCVG) and the Development Corporation of Haskell (DCOH). These two groups saw the need for leadership in their communities and decided to do something about it. Once a month for 8 months, the group met and worked through a leadership curriculum provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Powerful speakers from around the region were brought in to teach the curriculum, lend their experience to the group and help the participants to establish valuable networks. The afternoons are filled with tours and speakers from around Knox and Haskell Counties. Participants explore city and county government, healthcare, education, economic development, quality of life. The tours help participants explore their local resources and learn more about their communities as a whole. A highlight of the program is a trip to Austin where they have the opportunity to tour the capitol and visit with key leaders, organizations and state agencies about the wide variety of state-wide resources available to rural communities.

Haskell County Judge David Davis said he believes in the leadership program. “I went through a similar program in the mid 90’s, and I believe they are very worth-while. It’s important for people to understand their commitment when they enter into such a program.” Judge Davis is currently working with the Haskell graduates on their digital sign project.

This year’s TRLP graduates include Christina Isbell, Jamie Ferguson, Nicole Buchanan, Jamie Jordan, Veronica Anderson, Jessica Boggs and Susan Jarred from Haskell County. The Knox County participants include Nicki Ivie, Sheri Warren, Lisa Tidwell, Bianca Harrimon and Beatrice Hernandez from Knox County. The program was directed by DCOH Director, Jimi Coplen and Knox County Agent, Lorrie Coop.

Slide Show of the 2016 Program

Knox-Haskell Rural Leadership Program Enrollment Opens

The Knox-Haskell Rural Leadership Program is gearing up for round two! This 8-month leadership series will be packed with outstanding speakers, tours, workshops, networking and much more. The Knox County Visioning Group (KCVG) and the Development Corporation of Haskell (DCOH) are sponsoring the Knox-Haskell Rural Leadership Program.

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Each class will include curriculum elements such as communication, conflict management, dealing with difficult people/situations, diversity, leadership styles, customer service and team building to name just a few. In addition, there will be local tours of businesses, museums, and other places that make each county unique. These tours will help participants learn more about their community and the region.

The leadership series will be open to 20 people. Those participating will attend an orientation on September 18, 2015.  Monthly sessions will be held on the first Friday of each month from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., starting October and going through May 2016 in Knox and Haskell County. The group will take a trip to Austin in February 2016.  And, each group will launch a community project upon completion of the training in May.

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The program costs $275 and may be paid by the employer or by individuals.  Each participant will receive 4.8 CEUs from Vernon College. This fee includes all travel, food, a t-shirt, the overnight trip to Austin and all supplies. Applications are available to Haskell County residents at the DCOH office in City Hall, or downloaded here. Application deadline is September 1, 2015, but sooner is better because space is limited.

For more information call the KCVG at 940-459-4121 or the DCOH at 940-864-3424.

Knox Haskell TRLP Announces 2015 Graduates and Community Projects

The Knox-Haskell Texas Rural Leadership Program (TRLP) has completed its 2015 pilot program. The program, which kicked-off in October 2014, was a combined effort between Knox and Haskell counties to encourage individuals to become better educated about resources and community leadership roles in rural communities. The Knox-Haskell TRLP had a total of 15 active participants who will continue to implement what they learned through the program. The participants met once a month for eight months to study leadership curriculum as well as hear from local civic and business leaders regarding resources and leadership roles in each of their respective communities.

The last session of the TRLP was held on May 4th at the Turnrow Grill in Knox City, Texas. During the session, participants and their families, as well as special guests of the program, gathered for a graduation ceremony where awards were distributed and each group’s community projects were announced.

Knox Haskell TRL 2015 Graduating Class
Back row: Ronnie McDonald, Dr. Lynn White, Joy Lynn Pool, Mitzi Welch, Scott Bearden, Carl Milburn, Parris Pittman, Laura Bowers, Lorrie Coop, Teresa Martinez Front row: Tatiana Nchotu, Tammy Cunningham, Erin Dunnam, Jimi Coplen, Sheena Crosson, Mary Drury

During the graduation ceremony, program participants and guests heard from Ronnie McDonald, Executive Director of TRLP as well as Dr. Lynn White, President of TRLP who traveled from College Station, Texas, to acknowledge the series, its accomplishments and future project plans that program graduates plan to implement in their communities.

The Haskell county class’ community project plans included a Haskell city park clean-up and beautification effort as well as spearheading a long term vision and fundraising plan for city park improvements. Graduates of the Haskell county class who will implement the plan include Scott Bearden, DaLinda Black, Laura Bowers, Sheena Crosson, Erin Dunnam, Mary Drury, Tammy Cunningham, Teresa Martinez, Carl Milburn and Parris Pittman.

The Knox county class’ community project plans included pursuing state grants and funding for additional sidewalks and decorative lighting around the Knox County courthouse area as well as helping with other projects around the City of Benjamin. Graduates of the Knox County class who will implement the plan include Lorrie Coop, Jimi Coplen, Tatiana Nchotu, Joy Lynn Pool and Mitzi Welch.

At this time, the series is expected to be repeated for the 2015 – 2016 calendar year. If repeated, the eight part program again would include the following topics and themes: Introduction to Community Development, Leadership in a Nutshell, Communication Skills, Organizing and Group Dynamics, Leading Together as well as Planning and Project Management.

Initial organizers for the TRLP included the City of Haskell, Development Corporation of Haskell, Haskell County Extension Service, Knox County Visioning Group, Knox County Extension Service as well as the Texas Rural Leadership Program leaders based out of College Station, Texas. Businesses who sponsored an employee to attend included Davis Kinard, Haskell CISD, Haskell County, Haskell Early Learning Center, First Bank Texas, Richardson’s True Value, Haskell Feeds, Knox County Appraisal District, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Applications for the next leadership course will be available starting in August of 2015. For more information, please call 940-459-4121 or 940-864-3424.