Coppell Chronicle Vol. 1, No. 40
It’s Finally Time to Block’n Roll • City Shows Its True Colors • Give for Grants Program Fully Funded • Cricket Remains a Sticky Wicket
I’m thankful for anybody who takes time to read this newsletter, but I’m especially thankful for my paid subscribers. If you’re not among them, you missed Coppell Chronicle articles on these topics this month:
$810,500 worth of upgrades at Duck Pond Park
A proposed facelift for the southeast corner of MacArthur and Belt Line
Developers’ plans to double the number of hotels in Coppell
A new Irving City Council map that makes it possible for Coppell ISD residents to hold six of the nine seats
It’s Finally Time to Block’n Roll
In September of 2019, the City of Coppell hosted an event in Old Town called “Game Day on the Square.” College football games were projected onto a big screen that afternoon, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was shown in the evening. All sorts of games were available on the lawn next to the Farmers Market Pavilion, including ladder ball, bean bag toss (aka cornhole), and a giant Jenga set. Those games came out of a “Block’n Roll” branded trailer.
I had not yet launched the Coppell Chronicle at that time, but my journalistic instincts kicked in nonetheless. I took the picture above and posted it in the “Coppell, Texas” group on Facebook with this caption: “This is a service offered by our city. Who knew?”
None of us could have known then that the city wouldn’t actually offer this service for more than two years. “Game Day on the Square” was intended to be a “soft opening” for the Block’n Roll Trailer, and the city planned to officially roll it out in the months after that event. But the pandemic quashed those plans — until now.
On Wednesday morning, the city issued a press release that says Coppell homeowners associations, neighborhood associations, or community service organizations can reserve the Block’n Roll Trailer by visiting CoppellTX.gov/BlockParty or calling 972-393-ROLL. Besides the aforementioned games, the 16-foot trailer also includes folding tables and chairs, canopies, and coolers. The city will drop off the trailer and pick it up, and there is no charge to use it. Because the trailer and its contents are public property, the trailer is not available for private events.
“We encourage community building and wanted to provide a way to make it a little easier to host a gathering for neighbors to get to know each other,” Senior Planner Mary Paron-Boswell, who is also the Block’n Roll coordinator, said in the press release. “The Block’n Roll Trailer takes care of the hassle of gathering all the supplies for a block party and allows residents to just enjoy meeting new friends and mingling with their neighbors.”
When I posted that photo on Facebook back in 2019, several people enthusiastically tagged their neighbors in the comments and said they were eager to book the trailer. But a few naysayers couldn’t resist the opportunity to complain about the trailer being a waste of tax dollars. My favorite response to those complaints came from my friend David Crawford, who happens to be a special counsel for the city.
“If you don’t like all the amenities and parks and good schools and safety that our community provides, please find some equivalent community that does all that for lower taxes,” he wrote. “You get what you pay for.”
City Shows Its True Colors
While searching for something else in the Coppell city secretary’s archive of public documents, I stumbled upon the design guidelines for the city’s logo. Reviewing this document is how I learned that the branches in the logo are from a post oak tree.
“The post oak tree was selected because of its dominance at Grapevine Springs Park (historical landmark), its size and longevity, and the fact that the wood was used as ties by the railroad. Many claim the railroad put Coppell on the map,” the document says.
This document also says the three stars in the logo are supposed to symbolize three important names associated with the history of our community — Grapevine Springs, Gibbs Station, and, of course, Coppell. It further says the logo’s official colors are called Coppell Blue (Pantone 2955U) and Coppell Green (Pantone 4495U).
Wait a minute — that’s green? Maybe it’s because the lines depicted in that secondary color are so slight, but my brain has always interpreted it as yellow or gold. However, here’s a closer look at Coppell Green, using the color’s official RGB values:
Give for Grants Program Fully Funded
Full disclosure: I am a member of the Coppell ISD Education Foundation’s board of directors. But I’d like to think I would find the following information worth relaying even if I wasn’t one of the organization’s volunteers.
The foundation’s annual Give for Grants campaign received 27 grant requests from 10 campuses this year. For the second year in a row, every request was fully funded. Outfitted in matching red polo shirts, my fellow board members have been visiting schools across the district this month, passing out giant checks that no teachers will ever be able to fit in their purses or wallets.
The foundation’s fundamental purpose is to generate and distribute resources for programs designed by Coppell ISD educators. What’s not explicitly said in that abbreviated mission statement is that those resources can’t be recaptured by the state’s “Robin Hood” program. This school year, CISD will give up more than $38 million in recapture payments, which amounts to more than 23 percent of the district’s operating budget.
The largest requests in this year’s batch of funded grants were from New Tech High (sewing supplies, woodworking tools, robotics kits, and a 3D printer to create a makerspace) and Mockingbird Elementary (a Fountas & Pinnell Classroom Guided Reading Collection for each grade level); each of those was requests was for $7,875. Right behind them, in terms of dollars, was a $6,746 request from Mockingbird to purchase glockenspiels, metallophones, and xylophones.
The smallest grant requests were $321 from Coppell Middle School North for a set of Spanish-language apps, $410 from Coppell High School for three cornhole sets that will be used in adaptive P.E. classes, and a pair of $525 grants. One of those will purchase games, social-skills activities, and hands-on sensory material to encourage interaction during lunch periods at Coppell High; the other will buy some duck eggs and an incubator for Valley Ranch Elementary.
Some 181 donors made 226 donations that brought in a little more than $27,000. The largest single donation was for $7,000. The total amount requested this year was nearly $65,000, and the foundation was able to cover the difference between that number and the $27,000 brought in via donations. Given that fact, now’s a great time to remind everybody that Anamia’s generously gives a portion of its Monday proceeds to the foundation each and every week; keep that in mind when deciding where to dine tomorrow (or any other Monday).
This was the third year that the foundation allowed donors to fund specific grant requests, rather than just donate to a general pot intended to cover all the proposals. The proposal that generated the most donations was a $2,488 request from Lee Elementary to purchase six STEAM School Kits from Strawbees; 54 donors helped fund that one.
New Tech High teachers submitted the most grant requests this year (seven), followed by Coppell High (five), Valley Ranch Elementary (four), and Coppell Middle School North (three). Denton Creek Elementary and Mockingbird Elementary each submitted two, and the foundation received one each from CHS9, Canyon Ranch Elementary, Lee Elementary, and Wilson Elementary.
If you know educators who work at the eight campuses that submitted zero requests — Victory Place, CMS East, CMS West, Austin, Cottonwood Creek, Lakeside, Pinkerton, and Town Center — encourage them to get in on the action next year.
Cricket Remains a Sticky Wicket
Here’s how long establishing a cricket pitch has been a topic of discussion in Coppell: When the Coppell Parks and Recreation Board discussed it again this month, the city staffer making the presentation was holding a cricket bat he was given in 2004.
That staffer was Guy McLain, Assistant Director of Park Operations. He told the board that two groups approached the city in 2004 as part of a regional effort to get more cricket pitches established. One was the North Texas Cricket Association, and the other, based in Irving, was the Challengers Cricket Club. McClain said their efforts fizzled locally because they didn’t demonstrate any grassroots support in Coppell.
In 2008, the city came close to reaching an agreement with a Coppell Cricket Association, which presented signatures from 100 residents who wanted to see a pitch in the city. The city manager even signed the paperwork, but McClain said nobody from the association signed it because they couldn’t agree on which materials to use for the pitch.
“They just kind of vanished, and I’m still sitting with a city manager-signed document from 2008,” said McClain, who missed an opportunity for wordplay that I can’t resist. He could have said that, since 2008, he’s heard nothing but … [wait for it] … crickets.
In 2017, several cricket advocates attended community meetings regarding the Parks and Recreation Department’s master plan. Numerous topics were batted around then, including potential locations within Coppell, the availability of pitches in nearby cities, and whether a pitch in Coppell would be used primarily by adults or children. Once again, McClain said, there was not enough follow-up by cricket enthusiasts to warrant action by the city.
The topic was on the Parks and Recreation Board’s Nov. 1 agenda because McClain has had recent talks with two groups of such enthusiasts. One favors a concrete pitch covered by artificial turf (estimated cost: $35,000). The other would prefer to have a natural-grass pitch (estimated cost: $60,000).
McClain said an adult-size field — with a pitch in the middle — takes up 4.5 to 5 acres. He said the most appropriate spot for such a field in Coppell would be the southern practice fields near the Wagon Wheel Park water tower. McClain said the Coppell Girls Softball Association would be willing to give up those fields because they aren’t used nearly as much as the Andrew Brown Park Central practice fields and the Andrew Brown Park West game fields. I emailed the softball association’s president yesterday to get his take on that, but he did not reply to my question (understandable on a holiday weekend).
Parks and Recreation Board Chair Ed Guignon said the previous cricket discussions over the years made it seem like the pitch would be used by adults more than children.
“I’m just kind of struggling with what’s changed since then that says, yes, we should be putting together the money or whatever to go build it, and they will come,” Guignon said, “because usually we require a grassroots community effort to show the interest and the organization before we start doing that.”
McClain said nothing has really changed. But his department continues to periodically hear from people that Coppell should add some sort of cricket facility due to the changing demographics in the city. (More than a quarter of the city’s population is of Asian descent.)
“I certainly am aware of the demographics, and it would certainly make sense to me that we’d be doing this,” Guignon said, “but I’m a little bit puzzled why it can’t be organized together at the citizens’ level like we’ve requested and required from other sports coming in.”
McClain’s response: “You’ve hit it on the head, Ed. It’s a decision that either we wait for that — which we have 17 years of waiting for that now — or we find a way to accomplish that.”
Although no official action was taken during that Nov. 1 meeting, other board members suggested that they would be comfortable with establishing a cricket pitch for adult pickup games, a la the basketball courts at Andrew Brown Park West or the sand volleyball courts at Andrew Brown Park East.
Any city staffers, Parks Board members, or cricket players who really want to see a pitch built in Coppell should take to heart these wise words famously sung by, appropriately enough, Jiminy Cricket:
“When you wish upon a star/Makes no difference who you are/Anything your heart desires/Will come to you
“If your heart is in your dream/No request is too extreme/When you wish upon a star/As dreamers do”
• The Coppell High School boys basketball team beat Denton Guyer on Tuesday thanks to a full-court buzzer-beater by Nazir Brown. Footage of his Hail Mary heave was captured from multiple angles by 1 Vision Media, the firm highlighted in Coppell Chronicle No. 14, and that footage ended up being featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
• Coppell ISD administrators have drafted three options for the 2022-2023 district calendar, and they want to know which one you’d prefer. The Board of Trustees will decide during their Dec. 13 meeting, and the calendar they choose will be duplicated for the 2023-2024 school year.
• The City of Coppell is collecting gifts and gift cards for its Make a Child Smile program. Participants need to bring their donations to the city manager’s office by 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.
• I recently noticed that a lighted sign for Peacock Indian Cuisine has gone up above the MacArthur Boulevard space formerly occupied by Esparza’s.
.• Because Coppell supports three Subway locations — plus a couple more that are just a few footlongs outside the city’s boundaries — you may want to read Subway co-founder Peter Buck’s obituary, which I found fascinating.
This is shaping up to be a December to remember in our little suburb.
Sari Exhibit: The name of this exhibit of South Asian garments is so matter of fact, it made me think of Snakes on a Plane. The saris will be exhibited in the Coppell Arts Center lobby through Jan. 2. An opening reception is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Coppell Holiday Home Tour: This Assistance League of Coppell fundraiser is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 if you procrastinate. Kiddin’ Around Playcare is offering discounted childcare during the tour so you don’t have to drag your children through strangers’ houses.
It’s a Wonderful Life: Theatre Coppell will perform a stage adaptation of the classic Christmas film on three consecutive weekends starting this Friday. Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees start at 2:30 p.m.
Vintage Christmas: Businesses in Old Town will offer a variety of sales, activities, and performances between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting: The lighted parade down Samuel and Parkway boulevards will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday and end at Andrew Brown Park East, where there will be all sorts of activities in advance of the tree-lighting ceremony, including pictures with Santa Claus. (Bring your own camera.)
HarpEssence Holiday Concert: This performance, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Coppell Arts Center, is free of charge, but you still have to reserve a seat by clicking the link.
Greeting Christmas: The Coppell Community Chorale’s Variations ensemble will perform a collection of traditional holiday favorites, including “Christmas Time Is Here” and “The Christmas Song,” and new favorites such as “Glow” by Eric Whitacre, at 3 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Rejoice Lutheran Church. Tickets are not required for this free performance.
Madrigal Feast: The Coppell High School Choir will offer dinner and a show via their 27th annual Madrigal Feast. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 in the Coppell High School Commons. Tickets range from $10 to $25.
Holiday Hustle 5K and Fun Run: The Coppell Cheer Association will host this event at 8 a.m. on Dec. 11 at Andrew Brown Park East.
All Spruced Up: The Coppell Community Chorale and the Coppell Children's Chorus will join forces for a holiday concert at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the Coppell Arts Center. Get there early for arts and crafts in the lobby. This is a free concert, but tickets are required. If you can’t get one, the show will be streamed on the Arts Center’s website.
Troop 840 Chili Supper: This annual fundraiser is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 11 at Valley Ranch Elementary School. Tickets are $10, and any Troop 840 Scout will be helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, and cheerful if you ask him to sell you one.
Holiday Favorites: The Coppell Community Orchestra gets top billing at this concert scheduled for 3 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the Coppell Arts Center, but they will be joined by the Coppell Community Chorale and “additional surprise guests.” (How intriguing!) Tickets are free, but they must be reserved, as seating is limited.