Howe ISD Substitute Training

Howe ISD is currently accepting applications for substitute positions for the 2018-19 school year. To be eligible for substitute placement, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent.

All applicants who meet the above criteria are required to attend a mandatory training on Thursday, August 2nd, 9:00 am – 11:30 am in the Howe ISD Administration Building before being placed on the district’s substitute list. All applicants must provide the following:

  • Two forms of identification (i.e. Driver’s license, social security card)
  • Completed substitute packet (packets given at training)

Applicants who have a valid Texas Teaching Certificate must provide the following before being paid the certified substitute rate:

  • Copy of Transcripts
  • Copy of Valid Texas Teaching Certificate

You may contact Pauli Stephens at 903-532-3204 for additional information. Application forms will be provided at the training.

Jerry Park steps down from Planning & Zoning

It was announced at Monday’s City of Howe Planning & Zoning Commission meeting that longtime P&Z board member Jerry Park would be stepping down from his seat. Park is no stranger to volunteering for Howe. Back in the mid-1970s, the Howe Volunteer Fire Department put out a plea for additional members and Jerry Park was one of the ones to sign up to serve the community.

Park and his wife Joyce moved to Howe in August of 1964. He became employed with the US Postal Service the same week. He and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in May of 2014.

The Howe Fire Department gives two scholarships each year to graduating Howe seniors and has done this for quite some time. After the retirement of Park and with his long tenure of service and dedication to the city, the department decided to name its annual scholarship after him.

“It’s an honor, I think they went further than they needed to,” Park said in a May 2014 interview with the Howe Enterprise. “It’s over and above what I thought was necessary but they did it anyway.”

Park was also a military man serving in the US Army from 1959-1962 and was stationed in Alaska. He actually received overseas pay for being in Alaska, even though Alaska became a state in 1959. He joined the Army as a 19-year-old because a friend of his called him and asked him to join him on the ‘buddy plan’ which meant they would go to basic training together. He was making fifty cents per hour working at a repair shop and thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to join.

“They guaranteed you schooling of your preference and at that time I always enjoyed watching the weather news on the TV. So I enlisted to go to that school for meteorology,” Park said in 2014. “My buddy that was going to go in with me failed his induction test, so he didn’t even go in with me. I wound up going anyway. I didn’t regret it. I wasn’t doing anything else productive at that time.”

Since that time, Park has been an overly-productive member of the Howe community by serving in nearly every volunteer capacity possible.

“He’s a unique individual and you can’t replace him,” said Howe City Councilman Bill French during Tuesday night’s council meeting. “No one can do it as good as Jerry did – at anything.”

Mayor Jeff Stanley appointed Lisa Tibbets to take his place on the P&Z which was eventually approved by the council.

Howe ISD handbook revisions include cafeteria charges and cyber-bullying

A year ago, the Howe ISD changed from a handbook system that allowed for each campus to have their own policies to a blanket Howe ISD policy handbook with three sections to set each campuses differences.

Howe Middle School Principal Clay Wilson announced to the school board last Monday night that the overall Howe ISD handbook revisions for the 2018-19 school year include a change in the cafeteria charge limit to $15 at the elementary school and $10 at the middle and high school campuses.

There is also a lengthy revision to bullying. In accordance to David’s Law which was passed a year ago under Texas Senate Bill 179.

Under David’s Law, Texas public schools will have the authority to address cyber-bullying that occurs off-campus. Schools will be required to notify a bullying victim’s parents of a bullying incident within three business days after the incident is reported and must notify the parents of an aggressor within a reasonable amount of time. School procedures for reporting bullying incidents must include anonymous reporting for students. Schools will be able to expel students who engage in very serious bullying. This includes bullying that (i) encourages another student to commit suicide (i.e., suicide baiting), (ii) incites violence against another student, or (iii) involves releasing indecent photos of another student. Strong protections from civil or criminal liabilities will be given to schools and school personnel who report criminal bullying to law enforcement officials. There will be new provisions in the law to promote mental health education, including education about the effects of grief and trauma on a student’s mental health and learning. The role of school counselors will be expanded to include mediating interpersonal conflicts among students, including accusations of bullying.

Clay Wilson also noted the middle school handbook revisions which reflected the cafeteria charge changes and discipline issues.

“Our biggest issue last year was that we saw an increase in kids not doing work. One thing that we’re looking at this year is to find ways to get kids engaged and finding ways to motivate kids to do their work,” said Clay Wilson. “There are too many kids who are content with grades in the 60s and 50s and they’re okay with doing summer school. What we’re trying to do is to create higher expectations for themselves.”

With the revisions, students that consistently fail to turn in work may be subject to disciplinary action.

“We don’t just start out putting kids in ISS (In School Suspension),” said Wilson. “We will talk to kids, we will talk to parents. We assign lunch detentions, after school detentions, ISS. We work them through a scale and there’s communication with the parents along with way. But we’re getting more and more kids like that.”

Another item that has been revised is that students are required to be eligible for cheerleading tryouts during the week of tryouts.

The middle has removed the Pride Program and are looking at replacing it with something similar but perhaps with more motivation to kids that felt they were eliminated from the program early on.

Also added to the middle school handbook is verbiage that states that students that have unfinished assignments will not be eligible to attend the school dance.

“Our goal this year is to have students have higher expectations for themselves,” said Wilson. “I sent home a letter last week talking to their parents about ‘you wouldn’t want a plumber or an electrician doing a job that’s 50 percent. You want someone who’s going to do the full job. And that’s what we’ve got to get our kids to do because it impacts them on an academic level.'”

At the elementary school, the bell schedule has been changed to accommodate breakfast times, therefore, they have backed up the time by five minutes.

A big change is to restrict parents from walking their kids into the building without checking in at the office. This will go in to effect after the first week of school.

“We just see that as a safety effort,” said Howe Elementary School Principal Charissia Doty. “When the doors are open, the parents just come in and we don’t know whether they’re going to a bathroom or where they go.”

Another change being made is disallowing email to be the form of communication for student pick-up changes or general information. Parents will now have to call the office in order to make changes.

Students will now be sent home if their temperature is at 99.9 degrees or more in accordance to the information provided to the nurse.

The elementary school is also reversing the big trip to the Allen Extravaganza to make it for students with exceptional attendance instead of exceptional behavior. The exceptional behavior reward will be held at the school.

Howe ISD closes on property to prepare construction of new school

Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson informed the school board last Monday night that the architectural firm Corgan Architects have submitted preliminary plans to Gallagher Construction for preliminary pricing. Gallagher is preparing to put the project out for bid in the first part of August. The school is to be located between Summit Hill and Collins Freeway on the north side of Summit Hill Parkway.

The City of Howe asked Howe ISD to perform a water pressure test which as completed which will tell the results of the water line needed to service the minimum. That will determine the amount needed for the water installation. Wilson said they are also working on easement language for the sewer and drainage on the property. The school is requesting a 35-foot easement.

Howe School Board President Greg Akins was unable to attend the closing for the new school, therefore, the board approved Wilson to sign all documents at closing on Thursday which was finalized just after noon that day.

At this point, the bidding will take place in a couple of weeks and construction can begin by Sept. 1 according to Wilson.

School bus available for students walking in hazardous areas

Once again, the Howe ISD has approved a procedure that will allow students who walk to or from school in a hazardous area within two miles of the facility can use the bus system.

The hazardous conditions are determined by the ISD and state that the student must walk along and across a freeway, an underpass, or pass over a bridge. Another area would be an uncontrolled traffic artery.

The school has determined hazardous areas are US Highway 75 and access roads, Highway 5, Ponderosa Road, and Old Highway 6. Anything west of Highway 75 is included on all campuses. Areas east of Highway 75 on Ponderosa has been determined as well as the service road from Ponderosa Road south to Duke Street and anything on Highway 5.

Council denies multi-family zone change and continues discussion on $3.5 million budget

Brice Harvey of Dorchester petitioned the City of Howe for a zone change at 904 Maple St from single family to multi-family in order to construct a duplex on the premises. Harvey told the council that the measurements showed the lot to be 85 feet by 125 feet which would allow him to build a 65 foot wide by a 60-foot deep structure which would allow for 1,200 to 1,500 square feet per section of the duplex.

“I’m trying to build nice rental properties in Howe, Texas. It would be my standard of construction,” said Harvey to the council.

Brice Harvey

There was a discussion at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on Monday night with local residents that questioned having renters that are not vested in the community.

“Rent like this would generate or take a little higher-income individual,” said Harvey. “There’s going to have to be pride there or they don’t get to stay.”

A nearby resident of the Maple location asked Harvey if he had other rental properties or if this were his first. Harvey’s response was that he had other rental houses in Howe, but not another duplex. He stated that he hadn’t had any complaints from the city on any of his properties.

“I still think it should be single-family,” said a Maple Street resident.

“Put a nice house on it,” said another neighbor. “I live by a duplex and we people that live in the duplex drive across our yard. We’ve had a lot of trouble and you cannot watch them people. I’ve had rent houses and I’ve had some really bad renters. You don’t know what they’re going to do when you’re gone.”

One resident asked a question directed at no one in particular of how a duplex would enhance property values or parking.

Mayor Jeff Stanley told the audience that the council was there to discuss the zone change and not the particulars of the structure including rent, space, and property values.

“We might as well leave it we’re not going to get to say what we want to say,” said a neighbor.

The mayor stated that 30 letters were sent to neighbors of 904 Maple Street in which five came back in favor of and 13 came back in deny the zone change.

Councilman Bill French made a motion to deny the zone change which was seconded by Sam Haigis. The motion approved unopposed.

City Council motions to deny the zoning request.

Mayor Stanley then went on to the budget item on the council agenda where he stated that the budget would gain approximately $300,000 in revenue than in the 2017-18 budget largely due to new homes in Summit Hill and Howe Estates. He stated that the city is hiring two new employees to help with the overflow workload that has been caused by the growth.

The highlight of the evening was when Mayor Stanley stated that the city was adding $400,000 to the road budget which caused City Administrator Joe Shephard to literally choke up his water. The correct amount was $40,000 as the mayor misspoke. Councilman Haigis did not miss a beat and quickly stated that he approved the slotted road budget.

“We are adding $12,000 to the park budget for repairs to Ferguson Park and we’re giving a five percent increase in pay to the employees,” Mayor Stanley stated.

The Ad Valorem tax has not been determined as of yet. The budget could see a slight increase or decrease depending on the what the tax rate comes in at.

The budget will be posted by August 1 and the first public hearing will be August 21 at the regular meeting which will also be the first tax hearing.

Howe police chief leaves for same role with Howe ISD

On Friday, the Howe Enterprise learned that Howe Police Chief Matt Whitworth had officially turned in his resignation to the City of Howe in order to take the position of police chief-to-be at Howe ISD. He will first serve as the SSD (safety and security director) as there is a process to be approved to have an ISD police force which is a three to six-month process. In the interim through the process period, Whitworth will have that title instead of police chief until the ISD process has been fulfilled.

Whitworth, a native of Howe and a 1990 Howe High School graduate became the Howe Police Chief in August of 2017. The position came open in July when former Chief Carl Hudman resigned to take a similar position in Alaska.

Whitworth has been in law enforcement for the past 13 years and worked in corrections with the State of Texas prior to that. He started his career with the City of Howe back in 2005 as a reserve and went full-time shortly thereafter. Since leaving the Howe Police Department, he has been at the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office working first in patrol and later in investigations. Whitworth and his wife Lori have three children and seven grandchildren.

Howe ISD Superintendent Kevin Wilson read the following verbiage at Monday’s school board meeting which officially initiated the creation of the Howe ISD Police Force.

WHEREAS, School Safety is a primary concern of the Howe Independent School District; and

WHEREAS, the Howe ISD Board of Trustees believe that school safety and service to the school community will be improved; and

WHEREAS, recent acts of school violence have heightened awareness and the need for a law enforcement presence in the Howe Independent School District; and

WHEREAS, Texas State Law allows for the formation of an ISD Police Department,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Howe ISD Board of Trustees shall form the Howe ISD Police Department in accordance with state law and the Texas Education Code, and that the primary jurisdiction of the department will be any property within the Howe ISD boundaries and outside the District’s boundaries when the property is owned, leased, or otherwise under the control of the Howe ISD within the state of Texas.

The school board adopted the resolution which was the first step in officially forming the department.

The new chief of police will report to the superintendent.

The board had to amend an item in the current ISD policy which authorizes the officer to carry a weapon on campus.

DNA results bring unexpected experience for our family

by Monte Walker

Over the weekend, our family experienced something overwhelmingly emotional. We were introduced to a cousin of ours that we never knew of. Not a distant cousin, but my dad’s first cousin. Without DNA testing, we would have never known that we have a Vietnamese-born cousin from a relationship that took place between an Air Force Sergeant and a Vietnamese med student. This is the story of my grandfather’s brother Eugene Kenneth Walker.

Eugene Kenneth Walker (left), Mo Nguyen Vo (right)

Many years ago, before everything was online including this newspaper and before DNA kits became widely available for purchase, I researched the history of our family and connected some dots. But a certain dot could have never have been connected without the readily available DNA testing that exists today.

As someone who has taken the Ancestry.com DNA test, the first thing it tells you is your “Ethnicity Estimate” which for me is 43 percent Ireland/Scotland/Whales along with 30 percent Scandinavia. There are six other “trace” regions which are Europe West at 15 percent, Europe South (5 percent), Finland/North Russia (4 percent), and Africa North (1 percent).

Another thing the test does is match you with other test-takers and identify them as people that share a certain ancestor and formulate the closeness of the relationship through the DNA strand. The test itself is easy to take – just spitting in a tube. Creating an ethnicity estimate based on your DNA sample is a complex process, however, based on probability, statistics shared DNA, and ongoing research and science. Ancestry.com DNA calculates your ethnicity estimate by comparing your DNA to a reference panel made up of thousands of people. Because reference panels and the way they analyze your DNA both change as we get more data, your ethnicity results can change as they get more data, too.

In our case, the DNA tests have been taken by my wife, mother, dad’s brother, and a couple of their first cousins. Several other close relatives on my paternal-maternal side have taken the test as well.

The DNA Matches page indicates several levels of how a person is related, so in my case, it shows my mother and my son in the category of “Parent/Child.” My dad’s brother shows up under the “Close Family” category. My grandmother’s brother shows up in the “First Cousin” category which is not exactly the exact category, but we get it – he’s very close family but not in the immediate family.

Gene K. Walker, U.S. Air Force

The next group is “Second Cousin” and this category is still full of close family members, just not immediate family members. In the “Third Cousin” category, the matches are groups of that you share an ancestor with, but it’s very likely you don’t know them. It’s this “Third Cousin” group that is a tedious process where the individual wants to try and find out who our shared ancestor is (which is normally a great-great-great-great something. After doing this half a dozen times, unfortunately, those requests get culled due to the time available that I do not possess to look into this research.

Recently, I received an email from someone trying to do just this and I first set aside the email and did not respond as I have been in a bad habit of doing lately. A couple of days later I get an email from my uncle saying he was contacted by this person. I still ignored it. Then I get a Facebook message from another relative who is a historian and I took the time to go back and re-read the first email from the person asking about our relationship connection. I went to my profile for the first time in quite some time and looked at the categories of close relatives, first cousins, and second cousins and BAM – there was her name, “Mo Nguyen Vo” staring me in the face right next to my other cousins that I know very well. I thought to myself, “what in the world? How could this be?”

In her email to me, Mo Nguyen Vo was asking if I had any relatives in Vietnam in the timeframe of 1968 through 1969. My first thought was that my uncle Ken (my Papaw’s youngest brother) was in Korea, but not Vietnam, so I quickly responded with, “I’m sorry, I’m not aware of anyone in our family that fits that criteria.” I then told my mother the story and she informed me that Ken was in fact in Vietnam. I asked her to get his documents and tell me when and where. As it turns out, he was stationed at Phu Cat in March 1968. A year later, he was back in Texas at Goodfellow Air Force Base near San Angelo. But during that year, a relationship took place between Ken and a 31-year-old Vietnamese lady that produced Mo Nguyen Vo.

Mo’s family lived in Cam Ranh during the time of her birth. Her mother worked at an American base in Qui Nhon where she met my uncle Ken. Mo’s older sister told her that my uncle would pick up her mother from school in a Jeep. She learned that her father had left Vietnam shortly after her birth. He had left behind photos, but her mother had to destroy them in case the Viet Cong raided the home again. Since childhood, Mo accepted that she may never know anything more about her biological father. This was the reality for many ‘My Lai” (mixed Vietnamese children) at the time.

After determining that there is a greater than 99 percent chance that my great uncle Ken was, in fact, her father, I had the daunting task of informing her of what I had found. How in the world do you have that conversation? Especially through email to someone who may or may not speak English because all of the communications have actually been made from her daughter.

First cousins around the 100-plus-year-old Walker family table.

One would think that it would be a very enlightening information session giving someone the information they’ve been seeking their entire lives. However, there were things that she didn’t know about her newly discovered father. Ken was married to a native Hawaiian in 1953 and remained married until her death in 1991. He was actually married during the time he was in Vietnam. How would this information play with her? I also thought it was appropriate to tell her that her father died in 1994. All of that information had to be extremely difficult and emotional to take in with one email. Being very thoughtful with her emotions, I offered to send photos of Ken that I had and that our family was welcoming and anxious to have more conversations.

In 1991, Mo and her nuclear family immigrated to the US through the AmerAsian sponsorship program. She began her search for her father in the mid-1990s.

Ken was overcome with grief of the death of his wife in 1991 and died in 1994. They had no children together. One might wonder if he had known in 1991 that his biological daughter was in the U.S. that it would have given him something to live for.

But in the end, a 49-year-old English-speaking Vietnamese cousin with her husband Tony and two beautiful daughters Thea and Thanh have entered our family. Over the weekend we were able to meet with her and her family for the first time and let Mo see her biological family for the first time. It was very emotional for her, and for us.

This is not the first time that a story like this has happened. There was the story of Bob Thedford who served in the Vietnam War from March 1968 to March 1969. His son Nhan was born in August 1969 but never knew about him.

More than 3,000 Vietnamese orphans were evacuated from Vietnam in the chaotic final days of the war. The lives of the rest changed with the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987, which allowed 21,000 Amerasians and more than 55,000 family members to settle in the United States.

When the last U.S. military personnel fled Saigon on April 29 and 30, 1975, they left behind a country scarred by war, a people uncertain about their future and thousands of their own children. These children came from liaisons with the laborers who filled sandbags that protected American bases. They are approaching middle age with stories as complicated as the two countries that gave them life. Growing up with the face of the enemy, they were spat on, ridiculed, beaten. They were abandoned, given away to relatives or sold as cheap labor. The families that kept them often had to hide them or shear off their telltale blond or curly locks. Some were sent to re-education or work camps or ended up homeless and living on the streets.

Mo praised her mother for not abandoning her or having her killed like so many others. She praised her mother who has since passed.

Over the weekend, the family drove Mo by her dad’s childhood home on Jefferson Street in Van Alstyne, which has now been torn down with a new home on the lot. She met all of her first cousins and members of her family she never knew existed.

Mo still doesn’t know when she was born. But an ashtray made from a military shell shows engravings with his service time in Vietnam. It brought tears because she now knows her approximate birthday.

On Saturday night, she was presented her father’s American Flag that was used during his funeral and was given all of his medals and military patches from his long and distinguished service career. On Sunday, the family gathered for a feast and had a special moment in a hand-held circle full of prayer and praise. She was given his baby clothes, military documents, and things that he had written. Seeing his handwriting was overwhelming for Mo as emotions were so strong all throughout the weekend.

Mo is a devout Christian and her lifelong prayers were answered. She now has a family of her own.

Gene K. Walker, Van Alstyne Panther
The Walker second cousins.