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Coppell Chronicle Vol. 1, No. 43
Coach Moving on to Greener Gridirons • Arts Center Adding Events Supervisor • Put These Calendars on Your Calendar • Primary Slates Are Set
A subscriber recently paid me this compliment: “We have no insight into what is happening in Coppell other than the monthly utility insert, so I enjoyed your witty take on important matters.”
If you know any Coppellicans who are in the dark about what’s going on in our fair city, consider giving them the gift of information.
Coach Moving on to Greener Gridirons
As you may have heard by now, Mike DeWitt resigned from his position as head football coach at Coppell High School after eight seasons. Although there has been no official statement from Coppell ISD on the matter — besides an email to football players and their parents — DeWitt confirmed his departure when contacted by The Dallas Morning News on Monday.
While I have no insight into why DeWitt is leaving — other than “to pursue other opportunities,” according to the aforementioned email from Athletic Director Kit Pehl — I can provide some perspective on his tenure with the Cowboys. Eight seasons is a fairly lengthy stint for a high school football coach these days. If you compare DeWitt to his peers in District 6-6A, his eight seasons were second only to the extreme outlier, Hebron’s Brian Brazil, who has been at his school since it opened in 1999.
8: Plano East’s Joey McCullough*
6: Flower Mound’s Brian Basil
5: Lewisville’s Michael Odle
5: Marcus’ Kevin Atkinson
3: Plano West’s Tyler Soukup
2: Plano’s Todd Ford
(*Coincidentally, McCullough announced his retirement from Plano East on the same day that news of DeWitt’s resignation broke.)
Here’s another way to look at it: None of the head coaches whose teams vied for the UIL’s two Class 6A state championships this weekend has been at his school longer than DeWitt’s been at Coppell.
8: Austin Westlake’s Todd Dodge**
8: Galena Park North Shore’s Jon Kay
7: Duncanville’s Reginald Samples
2: Denton Guyer’s Rodney Webb
(**Dodge announced months ago that he would be retiring after this season, his eighth at Westlake.)
Here’s one more way to look at it: Only two of Coppell High School’s head coaches have been leading their programs longer than DeWitt. Here are the years in which each individual was hired as — or promoted to — head coach.
2006: Chip Lowery (wrestling)
2013: Rich Foster (tennis)
2014: DeWitt and Karl Pointer (boys’ track and field)
2017: James Balcom (boys’ soccer)
2018: Clint Schnell (boys’ basketball)
2019: Ryan Howard (baseball), Ryan Murphy (girls’ basketball), and Jason Spoor (boys’ golf)
2021: Fleur Benatar-Whitten (girls’ soccer), Gary Beyer (girls’ golf), Ashley Minick (softball), Libby Pacheco (volleyball), Amanda Ross (swimming and diving), and Landon Wren (cross country and girls’ track and field)
As you can see, this has been a volatile year for head coaches at CHS. There are 15 such jobs in the high school’s athletic program, and six have been filled since New Year’s Day. And one of those six jobs is already open again; after leading the volleyball program for just one season, Pacheco took a job last month as the chief operating officer for the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation. So now CHS needs two new head coaches.
By the way, the Morning News credited the scoop on DeWitt’s resignation to Brett Esch, a student at Bethel College in Kansas who was an intern for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football last summer. That makes this as good a place as any to punt some football factoids your way:
Did you know that Dave Campbell’s Texas Football is headquartered in Lewisville, just a deep Hail Mary’s length from the Coppell city limits? You can see the magazine’s logo on its office building as you drive on State Highway 121 between MacArthur and Denton Tap.
Did you know that Greg Tepper, the managing editor of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, went to Coppell High School? He graduated in 2004.
Did you know that the magazine’s founder and namesake died this month at the age of 96? Check out the official obit penned by Tepper as well as this tribute from Morning News columnist Kevin Sherrington.
Arts Center Adding Events Supervisor
The Coppell Arts Center is looking for an Event Services Supervisor, at an annual salary between $51,000 and $60,000. If you’d like to apply, click here.
This position was not part of the Arts Center’s budget for fiscal 2022. Managing Director Ginene Delcioppo — who was promoted from the position of Marketing and Ticketing Supervisor last month after Alex Hargis resigned — went to the City Council on Tuesday to sell them on the idea of expanding her staff. Her sales pitch was full of interesting information.
Delcioppo began with the Coppell Arts Center’s mission statement: “To provide a gathering place for those looking to connect and enrich their lives through culture and entertainment, the Coppell Arts Center is a place for memorable experiences that exceed expectations and are within easy reach.” She then presented statistics related to the Arts Center’s three goals:
Support Coppell arts groups. She said the Arts Center’s five resident companies will present 82 performances or exhibitions during the 2021-22 season.
Raise the quality of life for Coppell residents. She said 17 touring shows will present 29 combined performances during the 2021-22 season.
Stimulate business in Coppell. She said 32 rentals have been booked or are in the contracting process for fiscal 2022. Another 29 inquiries are waiting to be answered.
That last set of statistics is why Delcioppo wants to add an Event Services Supervisor. She has a staff of five full-time employees and five part-time employees. The duties that should fall to the Event Services Supervisor — a position that was part of the Arts Center’s budget in previous years but was eliminated — are spread among four full-timers.
“Every client that requests to have a rental, to come into our building, has to deal with four different employees to set up their event,” Delcioppo said. “By having a designated supervisor, the customer service would be elevated, which would meet the expectations of the city.”
Mayor Wes Mays said he didn’t know that Arts Center clients were having to deal with so many staffers. Based on recently enduring eight months of helping plan his daughter’s wedding, Mays knows how frustrating that can be.
“Whenever we went out to a venue, and we met somebody and then were passed off to somebody else, and then were passed to somebody else, and were then told that somebody else was actually going to conduct the event, that was an immediate dismissal. We didn’t go back,” Mays said. “We wanted somebody to own it.”
(Did I say “enduring”? I meant “enjoying.” I’m sure the mayor thoroughly enjoyed every minute of that eight-month process.)
Delcioppo said the Arts Center has already contracted $164,336 worth of rentals for this fiscal year. Council Member Kevin Nevels asked what the best-case scenario would be if the new position was approved.
“If we really had someone combing over the calendar, and really putting the jigsaw puzzle together to really fit in everything that we can, to have multiple events going on in all of our venues, I feel like this revenue could be doubled,” Delcioppo said. “But someone needs to work on that master plan within our team.” Working on that master plan will be one of the Event Services Supervisor’s responsibilities.
After pointing out that 12 staffers for the Arts Center is not a lot, when compared to how many employees the Cozby Library or the Parks and Recreation Department has, Council Member Don Carroll asked about the worst-case scenario. If the new position doesn’t pay for itself, he asked, how would the new employee be paid? City Manager Mike Land said the approximately $80,000 worth of salary and benefits would be covered by the Coppell Recreation Development Corporation.
Delcioppo said the Arts Center’s revenue from ticket sales cover the fees for the touring artists and the expenses associated with their shows. Event rentals, on the other hand, are the Arts Center’s opportunity to turn a profit. Before the council approved her request, she urged them to strike while the iron is hot.
“We’re very popular. We’re the new shiny object in the city of Coppell, and people are calling with inquiries,” she said. “If we initiate our sales and marketing campaign for our rentals now, then we continue to keep that interest for future bookings and repeated bookings. Whereas if we wait until things slow down, because a new shiny thing has come into the city, it will be harder to initiate our bookings.”
Delcioppo said a number of the rentals have been booked by organizations from other cities. For example, much to my surprise, the Coppell Arts Center was the venue for the Miss Southlake competition. Bust out that fact the next time you encounter a cocky Carroll Dragon.
Put These Calendars on Your Calendar
Next year, the first day of school will be on Aug. 17, which is a Wednesday, a practice that has always struck me as odd. The first day of the second semester will be a Tuesday: Jan. 3, 2023.
The following year, the first day of school will be a Tuesday, Aug. 15. The first day of the second semester will be Jan. 3 again, but that date falls on a Wednesday in 2024.
In each school year, the final day of classes will be the Friday heading into Memorial Day weekend.
Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Kristen Eichel told the school board that the district’s survey about calendar options generated 1,296 responses. Parents, students, and employees were asked to rank three options, and the option approved by the trustees was either the first or second choice of more than 77 percent of the respondents.
Primary Slates Are Set
It appears that Coppell ISD Trustee Tracy Fisher’s name will be on the ballot for the general election in November. Her candidacy for the District 14 seat on the State Board of Education was revealed in last week’s Chronicle, and no other Democrats filed the paperwork to run for that seat before Monday’s deadline.
Fisher’s eventual opponent in November will first have to win the Republican primary in March. Incumbent Sue Melton-Malone of Robinson, who has served on the State Board of Education since 2013, drew a primary challenge from Evelyn Brooks of Frisco. Earlier this year, Brooks unsuccessfully challenged incumbent René Archambault for her seat on the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees.
Here’s a look at the final slates for the other campaigns that were highlighted in Coppell Chronicle No. 41:
Congressional District 24: Three Democrats will vie for the right to challenge incumbent Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Irving. Four-time candidate Jan McDowell, a retired CPA from Carrollton, and Carrollton attorney Derrik Gay will compete against mediator Kathy Fragnoli of parts unknown. (Fragnoli’s campaign website doesn’t indicate where she lives, and her campaign strategist didn’t answer an email in which I asked that question directly.)
Thanks to the Texas Tribune’s redistricting app, I noticed that Cypress Waters has been carved out of District 24 and shifted into District 33. So that means Van Duyne’s district office is no longer in her district. Brilliant!
State Senate District 12: Two weeks ago, I told you that State Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound and Chris Russell of Dallas were the Republicans vying for this open seat. Since then, two Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring. One of them is Francine Ly, a paralegal from Irving with a long history of political activism. The other is a Realtor from Argyle named Ferdi Mongo. I don’t know anything else about Mongo, but I do know I like his name.
State House District 115: Nothing’s changed here. Rep. Julie Johnson, a Democrat from Farmers Branch, is seeking a third term, and Melisa Denis, a Republican from Southlake, is standing in her way. I still can’t find a website for Denis’ campaign; she and I have traded a couple of emails, but we have not yet been able to connect on the phone.
Dallas County Commissioners Court Precinct 2: Commissioner J.J. Koch, a Republican from Dallas, is seeking a second term, and four Democrats are competing for the right to face him in November. The headliner is Philip Kingston, who was ousted from the Dallas City Council in 2019 largely because of his reputation for not being able to play well with others. Koch, who is certainly not known for his manners either, is already taunting Kingston on Twitter.
Also in the mix are Dallas investment banker Tom Ervin – who finished third in the 2020 Democratic primary for State House District 108 – and Dallas attorney Andrew Sommerman, who is reportedly representing County Judge Clay Jenkins in a legal dispute with Koch over masks.
The fourth Democrat on the ballot is Michelle Faulkner, a new name for a familiar face. Earlier this year, she ran for a seat on the Carrollton City Council as “D. Michelle Ocker.” Back in 2016, she came within 50 votes of unseating Johnson’s predecessor as our state representative, Matt Rinaldi, when she challenged him as “Dorotha M. Ocker.”
One other update for my Irving subscribers: Allan E. Meagher, whose at-large seat on the City Council will be on the ballot next May, has declared himself a Republican candidate in State House District 105. Before he can challenge the incumbent, Democrat Terry Meza of Irving, he’ll have to get past fellow Republican Gerson Hernandez of Irving.
• Remember when I wrote about Little Free Libraries in Coppell Chronicle No. 29? There’s a new one around the corner from my house, courtesy of a couple who just moved into the neighborhood. One half of that couple is a fourth-grade teacher at Pinkerton Elementary.
• The Coppell Parks and Recreation Department received two awards last week from the Texas Turfgrass Association: Baseball Field of the Year and Softball Field of the Year.
• For the second month in a row, nobody signed up to speak during the “open forum” portion of the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees’ regular monthly meeting on Monday. In this political climate, that’s a remarkable achievement for our community.
Fa La La La Lights: The winners of Coppell’s holiday decorating contest will be announced tomorrow afternoon.
Twelve Days of Coppell: If you submit receipts from 12 different types of Coppell businesses, you could win a prize. As I looked over the categories, I discovered I was halfway there without even trying.
Holiday Scavenger Hunt: You have until Jan. 7 to find five holiday ambassadors hidden around town, pose for a photo with each, and then upload the photos to social media.