Coppell Chronicle Vol. 2, No. 44
Council Wants More ‘Discover Coppell’ Data • One Year Later, Durand Remains Upbeat • More Offices Planned on City's Outskirts • Library Turns the Page on a Busy Year
Merry Christmas, Chronicle readers! Just like the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks, I’m working during this holiday weekend. I hope my yuletide efforts end up as victorious as both of theirs.
Council Wants More ‘Discover Coppell’ Data
At the beginning of this year, Coppell’s leaders agreed to spend a lot of money on marketing the city to visitors. At year’s end, those same leaders were not quite ready to allocate more funds to that effort.
On Dec. 13, Coppell Chamber of Commerce President Ellie Braxton briefed the City Council on the status of the Discover Coppell campaign. That campaign — which includes a website, social media accounts, and advertising in a variety of physical and digital venues — was paid for with $165,000 worth of hotel occupancy taxes, which Braxton requested last January. (See “Coppell to be Aggressively Marketed.”)
About $77,000 of that amount was spent on ad space, but those buys didn’t begin until November. Another $73,000 went to creative services such as a Dallas advertising agency called Belmont Icehouse and Coppell photographer R.J. Hinkle. The Chamber of Commerce kept the remaining $15,000 as a management fee.
The city’s contract with the chamber for this marketing effort expires at the end of January. Braxton was hoping to get the council’s informal OK on spending another $224,000 between Feb. 1 and Sept. 30 (the end of the city’s fiscal year), with the understanding that formal approval of an extension would come next month. But the council asked a lot of questions she was not able to answer.
Many of their questions were about KPI (key performance indicators) and ROI (return on investment). In other words, how do we measure success? In the short term, Braxton said, the number of visits to the “Discover Coppell” website would go up. In the long term, she said, the city’s hotels would book more events and the revenues from sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes would increase.
“Our goal at the Chamber of Commerce is to drive traffic into our hotels and our restaurants,” she said. “From the hotels and restaurants, it will feed into all the other retail and other businesses that are here in Coppell.”
Other questions weren’t so easy to answer:
Don Carroll wanted some context for the statistics the council received on the campaign’s impressions, engagements, and clicks.
Kevin Nevels wanted to know why the campaign’s impressions seemed to get more expensive after a few weeks of advertising. He also wanted to see a heat map explaining the campaign’s geographic impact.
Biju Mathew wanted to know which movie theaters are featuring “Discover Coppell” ads, and Nevels wanted to know whether Belmont Icehouse buys ads based on particular theaters or particular movies.
Brianna Hinojosa-Smith wanted to know exactly how much of the $165,000 had been spent, how much was left, and how those numbers jibed with Braxton’s request for an additional $224,000.
Braxton said about $133,000 of the new money would be spent on advertising space, and $67,000 would go to Belmont Icehouse. The remaining $24,000 would go to the chamber as a management fee. (Braxton’s presentation called that a 12 percent fee, but my calculator says $24,000 is 10.7 percent of $224,000; UPDATE: I realized after publication that $24,000 is 12 percent of $200,000, the total before the fee.)
In the end, Mayor Wes Mays advised Braxton to bring someone from Belmont Icehouse with her to help answer questions during the council’s next meeting on Jan. 10. Carroll also asked City Manager Mike Land to provide a breakdown of how much hotel tax revenues the city has spent and how much it has left, given that the council just allocated $263,000 of those funds to the Coppell Arts Center. (See “Arts Center to Nearly Double Its Staff.”)
My coverage of that Jan. 10 meeting will be available to only my paid subscribers. If you’re not among them, now would be a good time to upgrade for the low, low price of $30 per year.
One Year Later, Durand Remains Upbeat
Friday was the anniversary of one of the darker days in Coppell’s history. Admirably, the young woman whose life was turned upside down that day still has a positive outlook.
On Dec. 23, 2021, Coppell resident Jacqueline Durand was brutally attacked by two dogs she had been hired to watch, immediately after she entered their owners’ home. By the time Coppell police officers rescued her, Durand had been bitten more than 800 times. Not only did the German Shepherd and boxer-pitbull mix rip her clothes from her body, they chewed off her nose, ears, and upper lip.
Durand underwent 17 surgical procedures by July. Her 18th procedure, which was scheduled for this month, was the first in a series designed to “debulk” the skin flap from her left thigh that replaced her upper lip.
Durand marked the anniversary of the incident by uploading a video to her YouTube page. In that clip, she thanked her family and friends for their constant support, the first responders who saved her, the doctors and nurses who cared for her in the immediate aftermath and through her surgeries, her therapists (mental, physical, and speech), and all of the people who have sent her letters, gifts, and money.
Her GoFundMe page — which features an in-depth CBS News story from March — has raised more than $375,000, but the goal is $2 million. In a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” videos she posted on YouTube in October, Durand said she doesn’t know how many more surgeries she’s facing; she and her doctors take them one procedure at a time.
“My life is pretty much on pause during this surgery period,” she said in one of the October videos, “and until it slows down, I cannot go to school, I cannot go to work.”
Durand has a filed a lawsuit against Justin and Ashley Bishop, the couple who hired her to watch their dogs. Officer Kelly Luther, who speaks for the Coppell Police Department, said the Bishops will not face criminal charges, but a judge did order their dogs to be euthanized.
Besides the GoFundMe page, Durand is selling merchandise featuring her “Tiger Durand” logo, and she has set up a Patreon account that allows patrons to get early access to updates on her recovery journey. Her YouTube channel has more than 5,600 subscribers, and Durand had a message for them near the end of her anniversary video.
“I want you to know that I’m there for you, and I hope that, everything that life puts you through, I hope you tackle it with everything in you. And I have faith that you will get through it,” she said. “Sometimes, that’s just what people need to hear, is just a little encouragement that you’re gonna be OK.”
More Offices Planned on City’s Outskirts
Did you know that the Coppell City Council once approved plans for a miniature golf course, augmented by batting cages and an arcade, along State Highway 121? Alas, those plans approved in 2004 never came to fruition.
I didn’t know that history until I read a report about the latest plans for this parcel, which don’t sound nearly as fun. A Lewisville firm called Avatar Realty Group wants to build three two-story office buildings on the northeast corner of 121 and North Coppell Road. Here’s what they’ll look like, courtesy of architect Greg Guerin.
This would-be office park, which will include 4,000 square feet of retail space, will be next to a community of 24 townhomes on a pair of artistically named streets: Da Vinci Court and Rembrandt Court. During the Coppell Planning and Zoning Commission’s Dec. 15 meeting, Commissioner Cindy Bishop expressed concerns about the balcony on Building 1A infringing upon the privacy of Da Vinci Court residents.
Guerin had a simple solution to Bishop’s issue: He offered to remove that particular balcony from his designs.
That seemed to satisfy the commissioners, who unanimously voted to recommend approval of the proposal, with the added condition that the problematic balcony be eliminated. The City Council will have the final word during a public hearing scheduled for Jan. 10.
Library Turns the Page on a Busy Year
The Cozby Library made a lot of news this year, and this month’s meeting of the Coppell Parks and Recreation Board provided an opportunity to revisit some of those topics.
On Dec. 5, Director of Library Services Dennis Quinn spoke to the Parks and Recreation Board for the first time since the library became a part of the Parks and Recreation Department. That merger was chronicled in a pair of April articles: “Cozby Library Joining Parks Department” and “Library Board Receives Assurances.”
Board member Maureen Corcoran asked Quinn whatever happened to the idea of allowing patrons to access the library after his staff has gone home for the evening. That concept was introduced via “Library May Offer Late-Night Hours” in March, followed by “Council Concerned About Late-Night Library” in May.
When answering Corcoran’s question, Quinn didn’t mention the negative reaction from some City Council members. Instead, he said the idea was put on the backburner due to staffing issues, which seems like an odd reason to delay an unstaffed program.
“It’s still on the table,” he said. “It’s something we’re still interested in pursuing and making a reality.”
Parks and Recreation Board member Margaret Bryan complimented Quinn on how his staff and the Library Board dealt with the reconsideration request regarding Gender Queer. The Library Board was deadlocked in February (“Library Retains ‘Gender Queer’ – For Now”) but decided in March to keep the graphic novel in circulation (“Board Votes to Retain ‘Gender Queer”).
In October, the Library Board opted to revise portions of the policy on reconsideration requests (“Library Reconsiders Reconsideration Requests”). Quinn told the Parks and Recreation Board that no other requests have come in since the Gender Queer decision.
“The tone of that conversation, on the whole, has been a lot healthier in our community than some of my colleagues in other cities have experienced,” he said. “I’m happy that we were able to give that conversation the appropriate space and to make sure that everybody who had an opinion or had a stake in the matter had a chance to have their opinion heard.”
Keeping up with our “year in review” theme, Quinn also provided some statistics for fiscal 2022, the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30:
180,000 visits to the Cozby Library
450,000 items checked out
4,400 hours logged on the library’s computers
20,000 connections to the library’s Wi-Fi system
2,500 new library cards issued
384 special programs attended by more than 14,000 people
737 room reservations
• Former Coppell Fire Chief Bobby Halton died on Monday at his home in Oklahoma at the age of 67. Halton led Coppell’s firefighters for only one year before being named Editor in Chief of Fire Engineering magazine in 2004. He was also the Vice President of Education for FDIC International, the world’s largest educational conference for firefighters.
• A boba tea shop called Mama Bear Cafe is taking over the space formerly occupied by the Orange Leaf frozen yogurt joint on the southwest corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Belt Line Road.
• The theme for the 2023 edition of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce Members’ Choice Awards & Community Gala is 007, aka Bond … James Bond. How appropriate, given that Coppell ISD and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD voters will probably be deciding on multimillion-dollar bond packages next year. For more details on the gala, keep reading.
Noon Year’s Eve: If you can’t stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, stop by the Cozby Library and Community Commons on Saturday morning. There will be a dance party culminating with a countdown to 12 p.m.
Cowboy Theatre Company Variety Show: This fundraiser for the Coppell High School theater program will feature a silent auction, a live cake auction, and the titular show, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 7 at the Coppell Arts Center.
MLK Day of Service Drive-Thru Shoe and Clothing Drive: The Coppell Community Chorale will accept donations to Soles 4 Souls between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Coppell Arts Center.
Coppell Chamber of Commerce Members’ Choice Awards & Community Gala: Metrocrest Services CEO Tracy Eubanks has been named the recipient of the Cliff Long Leadership Award. Other winners will be announced after 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Grapevine.
State of the City: Mayor Wes Mays will review the 2023 vision for our fair suburb during a luncheon scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 at the Coppell Arts Center.
Dan, Once again you and Jessica "level up your game" in this Chronicle edition. That is, you are making your Chronicle so much more enjoyable and easier to read and understand with the inclusion of high quality, colorful pictures and graphics in this edition. Thank you and Jessica for your outstanding service to our fine community through your balanced reporting with humor and terrific pictures and graphics. Here's to an even better year for all of us in 2023. -- Jack Carpenter
Dan, thank you for another year of outstanding reporting and keeping folks in the know with our city council, our schools, the community, businesses/development, and all sorts of other interesting items. Your wit and humor is on point and delightful. I know others appreciate you too! Cheers to you Dan Koller and may the Coppell Chronicle flourish even more in 2023! 🙌🏻