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Coppell Chronicle Vol. 1, No. 41
Check Out the Gadget Hall of Fame • Teachers Get Extra Day Off • Board Updates Policies But Not Procedures • Primary Filing Deadline is Next Week
Have you ever seen “404 error” displayed when trying to visit a website? I don’t know what the significance of that number is, but I do know a 404 error means the page you were looking for could not be found. Coincidentally, 404 paid subscribers have found their way to this newsletter so far. Congratulations on your achievement! (That’s the opposite of an error.)
Check Out the Gadget Hall of Fame
When you’re out and about shopping for Christmas gifts — and I hope you will be about and about while shopping, because Jeff Bezos doesn’t need any more of your money — be sure to visit Cell Phone Repair in Lewisville to see the Gadget Hall of Fame.
I stumbled upon this little oddity a couple of years ago when I stopped by to inquire about repairs to my cracked screen. At that time, I asked a Cell Phone Repair employee if every store in the chain had such a collection or if it was unique to the Lewisville location. He told me the Gadget Hall of Fame could only be found at the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and Round Grove Road, where you can see:
Toys, including an Etch A Sketch, a Chatter Telephone, and a View-Master
Pioneering technology, such as an Atari 2600 video-game console, a first-generation iPod, and a Motorola 8000x, one of the earliest mobile phones
Relics you simply won’t see anywhere else, including a Polaroid camera, a TRS-80 Model 100 portable computer, and a Sony Walkman
I’d heard that the store was owned by a Coppell resident, so I recently left a message there, asking if I could interview the owner. I was delighted to learn that he is not only a neighbor of mine, he’s also among the 404 achievers I mentioned earlier. His name is Mark Bourg, and we met for lunch last week so I could hear the story of how the Gadget Hall of Fame came to be.
Bourg said he owned every item in the hall of fame before he came up with the idea for the hall of fame. His mother was a bit of a hoarder, so she’d saved all of his childhood toys. That hoarding gene must have been passed down, because Bourg held onto many of the devices he acquired during his career as a marketer for Electronic Data Systems and Affiliated Computer Services.
Bourg became a Cell Phone Repair franchisee after retiring; he also owns stores in Flower Mound and Little Elm. After discovering that his mom had preserved his toys, he had a revelation: The people waiting in line at his store needed to be distracted, just like the people waiting in line at Disney World or Six Flags. Why not give them something to look at that could brighten their moods?
“People are already having a terrible day when they come to see us: ‘My phone’s not working! Oh my God,’” Bourg said. “People usually don’t come into our store in a happy mood.”
One of his rules for the Gadget Hall of Fame is that everything in it had to be intended for communication or entertainment; that’s why you don’t see, say, a vintage toaster in the display case. Bourg owned enough of those items to put some on display at his Little Elm store as well. He said people routinely offer to buy these treasures, but he has no plans to sell them anytime soon.
“I’m reliving my childhood, if you will,” he said. “I’m just a big kid.”
Teachers Get Extra Day Off
Coppell ISD’s calendar for the 2021-2022 school year had Feb. 18 marked down as a holiday for students but a workday for staff. However, the Board of Trustees on Monday approved a request from the administration to give teachers and other employees that day off as well.
Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Kristen Eichel framed the extra day off as a retention tool — not unlike the 2 percent raises reported in Coppell Chronicle No. 18 and the $1,000 bonuses mentioned in Coppell Chronicle No. 27 — as well as a reward for everyone’s hard work since the dawn of the pandemic.
“There can be no argument that the teachers, the staff members, the employees of this district — our community — have gone above and beyond to make sure that our students continue to get what they need,” Eichel said.
The administration’s previous plan for Feb. 18 was to replicate a daylong staff-development session, held just before the pandemic, that Eichel described as focused on “social-emotional learning, building relationships, spending time together, pursuing our passions outside of education with crafts and music and exercise.” Instead, Eichel asked the trustees to give the teachers and other staff members “time to do what they need to do, time to be with their families, time to make themselves a priority, time to just breathe.”
The request was approved unanimously.
“This is a time to make some exceptions to what we’ve done in the past,” Trustee David Caviness said before the vote, “and give some time back to our staff who have been — you know, the last year and a half, almost two years now — burning at both ends just trying to keep things running.”
Board Updates Policies But Not Procedures
Whenever the Texas Legislature passes new laws, school boards have to change any local policies that may be in conflict with those new laws. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) combs through the legislation and the various local policies, and then recommends changes to each district. Approving those changes is a formality that each school board has to take with TASB’s assistance.
“Legally, we have to follow the policies that are passed down,” Coppell ISD Trustee Tracy Fisher said Monday, when the board was asked to approve 12 changes to CISD local policies that were recommended by TASB.
This was the first time the board was presented with such changes since Trustee Neena Biswas was elected in 2020. On Monday, she made a motion to postpone the vote “so that we all have adequate time to look through the policies again.” Nobody seconded her motion, but she continued to make her case.
“We need to delve a little bit deeper into the policies and make sure that all the kinds of questions that would be [asked] in a situation that can arise, regardless of if it is TASB that brought it down,” Biswas said. “We should have an opportunity to do that because, in the end, we are responsible to the students, to the taxpayers of this district.”
Director of Student and Staff Services Jennifer Villines assured the board that each proposed change to the local policies had been reviewed by the leaders of the affected departments, after Trustee David Caviness thanked Villines for providing the proposed changes to the board 12 days before Monday’s vote. In the end, that vote was 6-1, with Biswas in the minority.
“These are the kinds of things that get districts in trouble, when you’re out of alignment with legal and local,” Trustee Anthony Hill said just before the vote.
Biswas’ request for more time to review the policy changes was ironic, considering that, during the board’s Oct. 25 meeting, she wanted to vote on four changes to their operating procedures that she had proposed that same day. I detailed those proposed changes in Coppell Chronicle No. 37, and the board considered each of them on Monday.
After the discussion of Biswas’ first proposed change, Trustee Manish Sethi made a motion to preserve that particular procedure as written with no changes. His motion was approved on a 6-1 vote, with Biswas as the outlier. Trustee Leigh Walker eventually pointed out that, under parliamentary procedure, no motion is necessary if the language isn’t going to be changed. Consequently, each of Biswas’ other proposed changes died for lack of a motion, once it was clear that none of them had support from the other trustees.
Primary Filing Deadline is Next Week
If you want to run for office in the March 2022 primary elections, you have a little more than a week to get your paperwork squared away. The filing deadline is Dec. 13.
Before I summarize who’s already in the running to represent Coppell and the surrounding areas, I recommend checking out the Texas Tribune’s redistricting app. If you enter your home address, the app will show you which districts you’re in now and how those maps changed as part of the redistricting process that happens every 10 years.
Those maps are important because I’m going to ignore statewide campaigns and focus only on candidates who are seeking to represent districts that include Coppell. Much of the information below is based on the Texas Secretary of State’s list of qualified candidates.
Congressional District 24: Rep. Beth Van Duyne, a Republican from Irving, is the incumbent. Although she’s not yet on the Secretary of State’s list of candidates, she hosted an event at a Southlake hotel on Friday night to kick off her bid for a second term. It was called “A Very Merry Campaign Christmas.”
Carrollton Democrats Derrik Gay and Jan McDowell have declared they are challenging Van Duyne, but neither was on the list of qualified candidates this morning. (A third Carrollton Democrat, State Rep. Michelle Beckley, dropped out of this race to run for lieutenant governor.)
State Senate District 12: Coppell used to be in District 16, which is represented by Sen. Nathan Johnson, a Democrat from Dallas. Now we’re in District 12, which includes portions of Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties, as well as the entirety of Wise County.
District 12 is represented by Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican who is not seeking re-election. Two Republicans are officially running to replace her: State Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound and Chris Russell of Dallas. No Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring yet.
State House District 115: Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat from Farmers Branch, has filed the paperwork to seek a third term. Melisa Denis, a Republican from Southlake, is also on the list of qualified candidates, but I couldn’t find a website — or even a Facebook page — for her campaign.
State Board of Education District 14: Coppell was shifted from District 11 to District 14, which now stretches from the Red River to Central Texas while somehow skirting Fort Worth. The incumbent is Republican Sue Melton-Malone, who resides in Robinson, a suburb of Waco. I traded emails with her last week, and she told me she’s running for re-election. However, as of this morning, neither she nor anyone else was officially a candidate for this seat.
Dallas County Commissioner Precinct 2: Commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican from Dallas, is officially seeking a second term representing Precinct 2. (Click here to see its updated boundaries.) Andrew Sommerman, a Democrat from Dallas, has filed the paperwork to challenge him, and Jan Bellah, a Democrat from Coppell, has also declared herself a candidate.
Precinct Chairs: These elected officials are responsible for turning out the vote for their parties in their home precincts. There are 20 precincts that overlap with the boundaries of the Coppell Independent School District — click here to see a map of them — and each one can have a Republican chair and a Democratic chair.
On the Republican side, incumbents Thomas Burrows of Precinct 2802, Bill Hurlbert of Precinct 2805, and Sharon Kappers of Precinct 2807 are officially running for re-election. On the Democratic side, the qualified candidates are incumbents Dan Frey of Precinct 2807 and Mark McKee of Precinct 4632.
• Two weeks ago, I shared a link to a Dallas Business Journal article that said Shipley Do-Nuts is coming to Coppell. I asked the publicist who inspired that article to provide the specific address, but she told me “site selection has not happened yet.”
• Renovations are underway at the former Jack in the Box location along State Highway 121, due east of Denton Tap. A work permit on the door includes the phrase “Hello India.” I’ve been trying, without success, to confirm that this will be a third location for Hello! India.
• A banner above the former site of The Cottage and Sunny Street Café in Woodside Village (the Sprouts shopping center) touts the impending arrival of Hemingway Brunch.
• If you are challenged when it comes to wrapping gifts, the Knit Wits will do the work for you in exchange for a donation to their yarn fund. This service will be available between 1 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 9, 14, 16, and 21 at the Coppell Senior and Community Center.
• Newly appointed Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Trustee Carolyn Benavides reports that her family’s restaurant — Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs — doled out nearly 6,300 servings of free food during Thanksgiving week. Additionally, 65 families received 20-pound turkeys and trimmings to prepare their own meals at home. “We couldn’t have done it without the community at large donating, volunteering, and committing to our annual event,” she said.
• Coppell resident Jason McCann, who leads Coppell-based Vari, has been named CEO of the Year by D CEO magazine. Perhaps that same honor will someday be bestowed upon one of the teenage investors from Coppell who were recently featured in The Dallas Morning News.
• Tuesday evening was my first opportunity to use one of the dedicated turn lanes I told you about in Coppell Chronicle No. 29. As I executed a smooth right turn from southbound Denton Tap to westbound Sandy Lake, I felt like such an aristocrat.
• If anybody on your Christmas list wants sunglasses, a bicycle, exercise equipment, an SUV, a pickup truck, picnic tables, an electronic sign for displaying traffic warnings, or 20 BlackBerry phones, then you might want to check out the auction the City of Coppell has going until Tuesday.
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 Friday and Saturday 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 Saturday 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 Saturday 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 Saturday 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.” Tickets are free, but they must be reserved, as seating is limited.