Area school board races take shape

The deadline for candidates to file for the upcoming May 9 school board elections is 5 p.m. today.

Here’s a look at the people who’ve already filed for a place on the ballot in area school districts across Denton County.  The asterisks denote an incumbent.

Aubrey ISD:

Place 1- R. Joey Saxon (3-year term)*

Place 2-Annette Crooks*

Place 6- Joseph “Jody” Gonzalez

Argyle ISD (at large):

Kellye Baum

Keith White

Jeff Day

Randy McKellar

Matt Slaton

Mark Miracle

Jennifer Timmons

Denton ISD:

Place 1- Barbara Burns*

Place 2- Jeanetta Smith*

Krum ISD (at large):

Brad Andrus (unexpired 1-year term)*

Eric Borchardt (3-year term)*

Phil Enis (3-year term)*

Sonya K. Galik

Lake Dallas ISD:

Place 1-Glen Gowans*

Place 2-Steve Payne*

Lewisville ISD:

Place 1- Kronda Thimesch

Place 1- Dr. Harry Crenshaw

Place 1- Mary Smith

Place 1- Kathy Duke*

Place 2- Trisha Sheffield*

Place 2- Roger Myers

Little Elm ISD:

Place 4-DeLeon English*

Northwest ISD:

Place 1- Josh Wright*

Place 2- Mark C. Schluter*

Ponder ISD:

Place 4- Dale Brown*

Place 5- Todd Nichelson*

Pilot Point ISD:

Place 5- Melanie Billmeier

Place 5- Mike Fritz

Place 6- Dana Braack*

Place 7- Dan Flagg*

Place 7 Meridith Parker

Sanger ISD:

Place 2- Kevin Polk (3-year term)*

Place 3- Russel CeBallos (3-year term)*

Place 5- Michelle Springer (unexpired 1-year term)*

Place5- Natalie Charles (unexpired 1-year term)


Early voting for the May 9 elections starts April 27.

For more information like deadlines for registering to vote and how to request a mail-in ballot application, contact the Denton County Elections Administration at 940-349-3200 or visit

Sticking snow leads to early dismissals

A truck is shown flipped on Northbound Interstate 35E, near the Garden Ridge exit in Lewisville. (Megan Gray-Hatfield)


As weather conditions worsened, area schools and government entities began early dismissals from classes and work Friday.

Snowfall began a little before 9 a.m. and may continue through the afternoon.

Daniel Huckaby, with national weather service in Fort Worth said snow fall totals across Denton County will range from one to three inches and two to three inches in the city.

“Because temperatures are in the mid 20s, well below freezing and not expected to get up to freezing today, it will make travel tricky,” Huckaby said. “Snow is easier to navigate than ice, but still can be slick.”

Huckaby said often it is mentioned that snow accumulates on bridges and overpasses before other road surfaces, but this snowfall is expected to collect on everything.

Ice could be a factor into the evening, overnight and Saturday morning, Huckaby said.

“We may see a transition from the frozen precipitation over to liquid tonight into Saturday morning,” he said. “That’s not exactly a good thing. Temperatures still above freezing, it will put a glaze over the roads and driving conditions in the morning may be worse than they are right now.”

Shortly before 9 a.m. Liberty Christian School sent an alert to parents indicating an early release.

“Due to deteriorating weather Liberty is dismissing at [9 a.m. on Feb. 27],” the message said. “We will supervise all … students until they are picked up.”

Shortly afterward, Argyle ISD announced that it would close at 10:30 a.m. due to worsening road conditions.

Denton County offices and all North Central Texas College campuses closed at 10 a.m. due to the inclement weather.

The University of North Texas closed immediately at 10:20 a.m. “due to worsening  weather and road conditions,” according to an alert in the UNT News Twitter page.

Texas Woman’s University in Denton and Dallas closed immediately around 10:45 a.m. due to weather, according to its Twitter page.

The Denton County Transportation Authority has announced that it will continue to operate its regular service schedule for the A-train, Connect Bus and Access for the remainder of the day, according to a recent news release.  Agency officials encourage passengers to take caution in parking lots and on platforms, dress accordingly and expect service delays if the inclement weather gets more severe.

Both UNT and NCTC Shuttle service will end at 11:30 a.m. with both campuses closing early today.

The Eulene Brock Downtown Denton Transit Center will remain open and operate normal business hours 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, the agency’s administrative office will be open for normal business hours.

Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express reported an accident has caused the two right lanes of northbound I-35E at Garden Ridge Boulevard to be closed.  The highway is expected to reopen at approximately 11:30 a.m.

An accident has all lanes of northbound I-35E at Corinth Parkway closed, according to Kimberly Sims, spokeswoman for the 35Express.  All traffic is being detoured onto the frontage road. The highway will reopen at approximately 11:15 a.m.

Late Thursday night, the Denton and Lake Dallas school districts released letters regarding possible snow in the area. They both stated that they intended to have school on a regular schedule and that weather conditions would be monitored to make any decisions on an early release.

“Our goal is to provide our students with a full day of engaging academic instruction, but should the weather come in heavier than expected you are welcome to pick up your children from school early,” Denton Superintendent Jamie Wilson wrote in the letter. “Our buses will also run on a regular schedule, but drop-off times may run a little behind schedule depending on weather and road conditions.”

View the entire letter from Denton ISD here and the letter from Lake Dallas ISD here.

The Aubrey, Krum, Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Denton, Little Elm ISD, Lewisville and Sanger schools districts released similar messages Friday.

Denton ISD announced Friday morning that it was canceling all after-school activities scheduled as a result of inclement weather.  The district said that the Extended School Day program would “remain open until all children are picked up by a parent or guardian.”

Ponder ISD and several other districts are encouraging parents to pick their children up early due to weather conditions. Students in Ponder who drove themselves to school today ”will be allowed to leave early only with verbal permission granted by the parent to school office personnel.” As originally schedulled, Ponder ISD will close at 1:30 p.m.

Northwest ISD  and all Texas Education Centers campuses will dismiss students at 11 a.m. All Winfree Academy Charter School campuses have also closed. All after-school activities are canceled.

Aubrey ISD has announced that afternoon pre-kindergarten classes at  its Early Bird Learning Center are canceled.

Selwyn College Preparatory School said that students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. today “due to worsening road conditions.”  Parents are encouraged to pick their child up from school anytime before 1 p.m., according to weather conditions.  The International Night 2015 tonight has been canceled and rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 2.

Texas Health and Human Services offices have closed.

Staff writers Bj Lewis, Jenna Duncan Adam Schrader and Megan Gray-Hatfield contributed to this report. 


Lone Star TIA announces conference dates

The Denton ISD instructional technology department announced today that its hosting its sixth annual Lone Star Technology in Action (TIA) conference July 21 and 22 at Ryan High School.

The event caters to educators and local technology enthusiasts.  Last year’s conference drew more than 1,200 people from Texas and Oklahoma.

The 2015 keynote speaker is Todd Nesloney, educator, author and co-founder of The 3 Tech Ninjas, a education technology training company.

“Our main goal [with] TIA is we want technology to be used in the classroom,” said Dwight Goodwin, Denton ISD instructional technology director. “I think every year teachers come back to schools, and one of their goals is to incorporate technology in their classroom, and I think this is the catalyst to do so.”

The conference offers local residents tools for enhancing their online and social media presence, he said.

“The best thing that I think you can get out of it is the use of social media to market your business, yourself or build your own professional community,” Goodwin said.

Conference registration is now open here. The event is free for all Denton ISD employees. The early bird rate is $35 for all other attendees who register by June 1. Beginning June 2, the rate is $45, and on-site registration is $55.

For more details on the conference, check out the video below.

What’s in a name … a lot

Sunday’s story expressed local residents’ concern that not enough Denton ISD school facilities are named for people of color.

In our story, we looked at named district facilities from the campus listings on the Denton ISD website. We followed up with the district to see if there were any other facilities not listed in the campus listings with names that were approved by the school board. The district affirmed that there are and here’s what they shared:

Denton High School:

Jim Bateman Athletic Fieldhouse

Jay B. Martin Horticultural Center

Mary Jane Lane Press Box

F.D. “Cotton” Nix baseball field (to be dedicated next month)

Ryan High School:

Tine Minke Field

Calhoun Middle School:

McAlister Gymnasium, named for former Denton High School basketball coach Dan McAlister

Hudspeth to wait until 2017

Gerard Hudspeth just called us to say he is going to wait until 2017 to run for District 1.

Gerard Hudspeth

Council member Kevin Roden faced no opposition for his re-election bid two years ago and has announced that he intends to run for re-election this year for his third, and final, term.

Hudspeth said he plans on spending more time observing council meetings in the coming months and work on his service projects as well.

“We’re going to build some coalitions,” Hudspeth said.

His father, Willie Hudspeth and the local chapter of the NAACP, has been working closely with Denton LULAC and the Denton Police Department in recent weeks. Gerard Hudspeth participated in the initial summit meeting between civil rights leaders and law enforcement that called for better communication between Denton youth and the police.

You can see our stories about that promising initiative here and here.

Several school board seats up for grabs May 9

In today’s paper is a story about the first day of filing for the May 9 general elections across Denton County.

Here’s a look at area school board trustees whose terms expire this year and will appear on local ballots this spring:

Aubrey ISD ISD (at large):

Place 1- R. Joey Saxon (3-year term)

Place 2- Annette Crooks (3-year term)

Place 3- Ron Bullock (3-year term)

Place 6- Vacant (unexpired 2-year term)

Argyle ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Spencer Jefferies

Eric Fields

Denton ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1- Barbara Burns

Place 2- Jeanetta Smith

Krum ISD (at large):

Phil Enis (3-year term)

Eric Borchardt (3-year term)

Brad Andrus (unexpired 1-year term)

Lake Dallas ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Glen Gowens

Steve Payne

Lewisville ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1- Kathy Duke

Place 2- Trisha Sheffield

Little Elm ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 4- DeLeon English

Place 5- Stephanie Ardoin Gregg

Northwest ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 1-Josh Wright

Place 2 -Mark Schluter

Ponder ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 4- Dale Brown

Place 5- Todd Nichelson

Pilot Point ISD (at large 3-year terms):

Place 5- Steve Klohn

Place 6- Dana Braack

Place 7-Dan Flagg

Sanger ISD (at large):

Place 2- Kevin Polk (3-year term)

Place 3- Russel CeBallos (3-year term)

Place 5- Michelle Springer (unexpired 1-year term)

The Aubrey, Krum and Sanger school districts will each look to fill unexpired terms on their school boards this May. The Krum and Sanger districts will each look to fill unexpired one-year terms. Both districts in 2013 had board members resign from the seats and they appointed trustees to serve until the upcoming May election.

Aubrey ISD will look to fill an unexpired two-year term which has remained vacant since the death of a trustee in September.

Early voting for the May 9 elections starts April 27.

For more information like deadlines for registering to vote and how to request a mail-in ballot application, contact the Denton County Elections Administration at 940-349-3200 or visit

Semi-annual campaign finance reports

Here are the semi-annual campaign finance reports for the specific-purpose committees that raised and spent money on the proposition elections this November.

Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy did not file an affidavit of dissolution. But the other three groups did, which closes the books on their campaigns.

Remember, these reports cover only the final week of the campaign. For earlier reports, go here and here.

For the proposition to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city:

DTSE SemiAnnual


For the proposition to make Denton wet:


For the four propositions totaling $98.2 million for public improvements:


Community briefing on ordinance revisions

The latest revisions to the gas well development ordinance should be released Friday afternoon, when Tuesday’s agenda packet is posted on the city’s website.

I plan on reading the materials and writing a weekend paper to help our readers know what’s coming. The City Council’s work session Tuesday was less of a discussion of “what” more than it was a discussion of “how” the public hearing will go on Tuesday.

However, city officials are planning a briefing on the changes Monday. Council member John Ryan typically holds “town hall” style meeting once a month — usually at the North Branch Library — to give residents a chance to get more in-depth information about a current issue or share a concern. Ryan has moved this month’s meeting to City Hall and will get help from Darren Groth, head of the city’s gas well inspection division, with a presentation on the changes.

Residents will be able to ask questions of either the elected officials or city staff present at the briefing, in order to better prepare for Tuesday’s public hearing.

More to come as I get it.

Scientists: “rapid and thorough” response needed to fracking

A group of doctors and scientists reviewed a number of recent studies of hydraulic fracturing against what is known about reproductive health and identified increased health risks for infants, children and adults.

The peer-reviewed literature review, “Development and reproductive effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations,” was published today in the quarterly scientific journal, Reviews of Environmental Health. The authors, Ellen Webb, Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, Amanda Cheng, Christopher D. Kassotis, Victoria Balise and Susan C. Nagel, concluded there was a compelling need to better understand the consequences of fracking “through rapid and thorough further health research.”

The group studied what was known about unconventional oil and gas development, including the facts that more than 15 million Americans live within one mile of such operations. Shale drilling and fracking involves the use of chemicals with known risks to the human reproductive system, including volatile organic compounds (namely, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene and formaldehyde) and heavy metals.

Some of the increased risks the group identified in their review of the scientific literature including effects on the fertility of both men and women, effects on fetal development and birth defects.

In an interview, Bushkin-Bedient said the group found the work by two other researchers, veterinarian Michelle Bamberger and scientist Robert Oswald, particularly informative. Bamberger and Oswald which identified livestock near frack sites as sentinels to potential health risks and published their research in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy in 2012.

Nagel said both additional laboratory experiments and large-scale epidemiological studies were needed to better understand the risks.

Local activists, Earthworks file to intervene in frack ban cases

By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe/ Staff Writer

The Denton Drilling Advisory Group and Earthworks filed motions in court today to join the city of Denton in defending its ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Attorneys for the local activists and the national nonprofit advocacy group that helped them pass the ban prepared petitions in intervention for both lawsuits filed by the state and the oil and gas industry that challenge the ban’s constitutionality.
Cathy McMullen, president of the Denton group, has said the group believes they have the grounds to step in and help defend the ban.
The Denton group incorporated about a year ago as an educational nonprofit. They sought help drafting the original petition to ban fracking, an initiative under the city’s charter, and worked for months to gather the signatures needed and then organize the campaign to get the measure passed.
In a press release, Bruce Baizel, energy program director with Earthworks, explained why the national group, which helped with both the petition drive and the election campaign, got involved in the lawsuits, too.
“Rather than constructively engage with the community, they [state and industry] simply
overlook their regulatory failure and move to overturn democracy through legal action,” Baizel wrote.
The two groups retained their own legal counsel, which included the local law firm, Brown and Hofmeister, as well as two nationally renowned environmental attorneys, Deborah Goldberg, with Earthjustice, and Daniel Raichel, with the National Resources Defense Council.
Goldberg recently represented the town of Dryden in a similar case in New York. This summer, that state’s highest court sided with the town, which allowed towns and cities throughout New York to prohibit oil and gas development within their borders.
In addition to asking the courts to intervene, the Denton group and Earthworks also asked the Travis County court, where the state’s case was filed, to agree to move that case to Denton County.
Speaking on behalf of the Texas General Land Office, which filed suit in November, Jim Suydam declined to comment on either the change of venue request or the intervention petition, citing ongoing litigation.
However, he expected the state would answer the motions in court.
Bill Kroger, attorney of record for the Texas Oil and Gas Association, which also filed suit in November, did not return a call for comment.
More details in tomorrow’s newspaper.