Coppell Chronicle Vol. 2, No. 11
Hill Earns Sixth Term as Trustee • City Desperately Needs More Lifeguards • Parks Board Finalizes Priority List • Coppell is Home to Y’s Main Office
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there, especially my babies’ momma as well as my own mother. We’re due at Mom’s house for brunch, and there are still presents to wrap, so let’s get right to it.
Hill Earns Sixth Term as Trustee
Well, that wasn’t nearly as close as I thought it would be. The unofficial final results that got posted to DallasCountyVotes.org just after midnight show that Coppell ISD Trustee Anthony Hill earned 65 percent of the votes to challenger Carol Lacey McGuire’s 35 percent.
Exactly 4,700 ballots were cast by Coppell ISD voters. One year ago, the total for the district’s lone contested race was 5,422, but that’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. The May 2021 election also featured five Coppell City Council campaigns, whereas this year’s edition had none. So you would expect the turnout to be lower.
McGuire’s supporters were certainly passionate, so I wonder how things would have gone if Coppell ISD used cumulative voting like Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD does. In that scenario, unchallenged incumbents Manish Sethi and Leigh Walker would have been thrown into a pool with Hill and McGuire, and each of McGuire’s supporters would have had the opportunity to vote for her three times.
Speaking of cumulative voting, I submitted a question about the unique process during an April 7 forum that featured the five candidates vying for three seats on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Board of Trustees. Randy Schackmann, the longest-serving member of the CFB school board, didn’t mince words that night: “It sucks.”
I’m sure his feelings on cumulative voting have not changed over the past month, because it seems Schackmann just lost his seat. His 3,789 votes put him in fourth place behind newcomers Ileana Garza-Rojas (4,097) and Kim Brady (3,944) and incumbent Tara Hrbacek (3,887).
[The paragraph you just read was updated after publication because your sleep-deprived correspondent failed to account for CFBISD voters in Denton County.]
Meanwhile, if you love voting as much as I do, you have another opportunity to mark a ballot this month. Early voting for the partisan primary runoffs begins one week from tomorrow, and Election Day is May 24. Republicans need to finalize their nominees for Attorney General, Land Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner. Democrats have to choose nominees for Congressional District 24, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, Comptroller, and County Commissioner District 2.
City Desperately Needs More Lifeguards
If you have a child who is at least 16 years old, tell them to stop looking at TikTok long enough to apply for a job as a lifeguard at The CORE. The patrons of the recreation center’s outdoor pools are counting on you.
Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Carpenter said the staffing situation is so dire that the outdoor pools will be open no more than four days a week this summer; they may be open only on weekends. The CORE simply doesn’t have enough lifeguards to offer a full schedule.
“We are not even halfway to where we want to be at this point in time,” Carpenter told the Parks and Recreation Board on Monday. “I hope the community will be very understanding this year that we are struggling just as much as everybody else to get folks to work.”
This staffing problem is not unique to municipal pools; we all see plenty of “NOW HIRING” signs everywhere we go. And the lack of lifeguards is not unique to Coppell; Newsweek recently reported that a third of the nation’s public pools will not open at all this summer due to staffing issues. So it could be worse in our fair ’burb. Coppell has found enough lifeguards to open its pools for at least a few days per week.
“The folks that are on board with us, we can’t burn them out and try to work them seven days straight,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said the Parks and Recreation Department is also having trouble hiring enough counselors to fully staff its summer camps. Just as the pools’ hours will be limited due to a lack of lifeguards, the number of campers will be capped due to a lack of counselors.
In an attempt to lure applicants, the city recently raised the pay for both positions from $11.50 per hour to $14 per hour. “That still wasn’t moving the needle very much,” said Carpenter, who added that she earned just $5.15 per hour at her first lifeguard gig. (Hear that, kids? Get a job as a lifeguard, and you could end up as the director of a parks and rec department someday.)
Board member Maureen Corcoran asked, “Aren’t people working anymore?” Carpenter responded, “No. They’re making money through their phones,” and she specifically cited Uber Eats. Young people also make money these days via ads on their YouTube videos and branded content on their Instagram accounts.
If your child is not one of those “influencers,” encourage them to consider one of the jobs. The minimum age for camp counselors is 18, but lifeguards can start at 16. No experience is necessary. The city will pay for new employees’ certification, and they will earn $14 per hour while being trained.
Parks Board Finalizes Priority List
It’s been said that 80 percent of success is showing up. That axiom proved true during Monday’s meeting of the Coppell Parks and Recreation Board.
This was the third consecutive meeting that included a debate of the board’s development priorities. (Click these links to review my reports on the March and April discussions.) The latest draft of the priorities document, which the board approved on Monday after making just one modification, featured a new item on the “high priority” list: additional pickleball courts.
Four of the five people who showed up to speak during the “Citizens’ Forum” portion of Monday’s meeting were pickleball enthusiasts who made the case for more courts. (What do you know? Four out of five equals 80 percent.) Lo and behold, the board members opted to keep new pickleball courts on the “high priority” list.
“I’d like for it to be moved to the top of the list,” said pickleballer Barb Schmidt, who guided me through my first experience with the game, “and I’ll tell you why: It is the only item on that high-priority [list] that is revenue generating.”
Board Chair Ed Guignon later reminded everyone that no project on the “high priority” list is a higher priority than any other project on the list.
“Citizen passion and demand is what drives that, to some extent,” he said. “There’s obviously passion in some of these areas.”
The fifth speaker during “Citizens’ Forum” asked the board to consider upgrades to the city’s disc golf course. This gentleman’s time and effort was well-spent, because adding such upgrades to the “low priority” section was the board’s only modification to the latest draft.
The “low priority” section of the document also includes a skate park, even though that project used to be in the “high priority” section. Board member Maureen Corcoran said a few people had approached her while she was grocery shopping to ask about that drop, and she urged those skateboard fans to show up at Monday’s meeting if they felt that was the wrong move. None of them did.
Coppell is Home to Y’s Main Office
Did you know the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas is headquartered in Coppell? I didn’t until I listened to the recording of Monday’s Parks and Recreation Board meeting.
The Coppell Family YMCA is one of the organizations on the Coppell Sports Council, along with the Coppell Baseball Association, the Coppell Youth Soccer Association, etc. Each of these groups presents an annual report to the Parks and Recreation Board, and on Monday it was the Y’s turn.
Rodney Black, whose title with the Y is Regional Program Director, said he oversees activities in Coppell, Grand Prairie, Irving, and Lewisville, but his office is here. Then he mentioned that, as of Jan. 1, the executive team overseeing the entire YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas has been working from the second floor of the Coppell Family YMCA.
Sure enough, when you click the “Contact Us” link at YMCADallas.org, the physical address is 146 Town Center Blvd. Looking that up jogged my memory about getting an invitation from the Coppell Chamber of Commerce to attend a Feb. 25 ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the Coppell Y’s “recent renovations and new spaces.” If I had bothered to attend that event, I could have reported this news a couple of months earlier. Remember what I said earlier about so much of success being due to just showing up?
As I poked around on the YMCA’s website, trying in vain to find a press release about the organization’s move to Coppell, I noticed that the Y is also recruiting lifeguards and camp counselors for the summer. But their starting pay for those positions is $12 per hour, with a 50-cent raise once training is completed. They’re going to have to raise their rates to keep up with The CORE.
• The Coppell Cowboys baseball team swept McKinney Boyd in the opening round of the UIL playoffs. Next up is a three-game series with Dallas Jesuit. Game 1 will be here at 7:30 on Thursday, followed by Game 2 there at 7:30 on Friday. If necessary, Game 3 would start at 4:30 on Saturday at Kelly Field in Carrollton.
• The Coppell Cowgirls lacrosse team advanced to the Division 2 semifinals of the Texas Girls High School Lacrosse League for the first time since 2016. Unfortunately, they lost to Rockwall yesterday by a score of 9-7.
• The Coppell Arts Center announced its second season of touring shows last week. The 2022-2023 season includes a musical parody called Spamilton and a high-tone puppet show called Dragons and Mythical Beasts.
• An extensive memorial video honoring longtime community volunteer Earl “Pops” Rogers has been posted on his namesake website.
• The gym at THE CORE will be closed for at least 17 days, starting tomorrow, so the floor can be replaced. I previously reported this would happen in January.
• I missed last Sunday’s event at the Cozby Library and Community Commons featuring graphic novelist Laura Gao, who is a graduate of Coppell High School. But The Sidekick, the student newspaper at Gao’s alma mater, was able to cover it. Click here to read Yaamini Jois’ account.
Steel Magnolias: You have seven more opportunities to see Theatre Coppell’s production of the classic play set at Truvy’s hair salon, including a matinee at 2:30 this afternoon.
Work in Coppell Virtual Fair: If you want to participate in this event scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, act fast. Advance registration is required.
Coffee With a Cop: Officers with the Coppell Police Department will be hanging out at Starbucks between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday if you’d like to join them.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen: The Cozby Library and Community Commons will host a workshop on parenting techniques from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. I wonder if anyone has considered a companion workshop for kids: “How to Listen So Parents Don’t Have to Talk So Much.”
In Good Time: Whether it’s dinner time, bedtime, time to dance, time to work, you’ll hear it all at the Coppell Community Chorale’s spring concert, which will be performed Saturday and May 15 at the Coppell Arts Center.
Ride of Silence: Local cyclists will meet at Coppell Town Center on May 18 to conduct a 10-mile ride memorializing their fallen brethren.