Grant gets former students back in college
Life happens, and sometimes college isn't possible. A Reskilling Grant to Temple College puts people back on track to their dream career.
THURSDAY FEB. 3, 2022 — UPDATED WEATHER INFO
WINTER WEATHER update: Wind chills to reach single digits because of wind gusts up to 30 mph.
Local bank taking KINDNESS PLEDGES for Feb. 17 special day.
10 QUESTIONS with Jessica Walker of the Temple City Council.
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WHAT’S HAPPENING? Biggest events calendar in Central Texas.
FOREIGNER TICKETS: Tickets for the April 22 Foreigner concert go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the Bell County Expo Center. Tickets may be purchased online at BellCountyExpo.com. Tickets will range from $38 to $100 depending on package and seat location.
HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER’s Ribbon-Cutting and Open House has been postponed because of the winter weather and will be rescheduled.
Hector Gomez of Temple is taking advantage of a Reskilling Grant to return to college and prepare for a career in the IT field.
TC’s Reskilling Grant helps former college students get back on track
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Hector Gomez has wanted to pursue a career in the information-technology field for years, and after high school he started down the college path.
Then life happened.
“I had to drop out shortly after starting college because I had to help out with family bills,” he said. “The cost of going to school held me back.”
Today, Hector is a student at Temple College and getting the education he needs to fulfill his occupational dream thanks to a little-known program.
Last summer, Temple College received a $750,000 Reskilling Grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The grant covers tuition and fees up to $2,500 for adults who have started college but dropped out before earning a degree or certification.
“Eligible students can receive between $500 and $2,500 per semester,” said Louis Trevino, Reskilling Grant coordinator at Temple College. “The grant was presented last year and there’s still a lot of money left. All you have to do is go to our website and apply.”
The money is only available through fall 2022, Trevino said.
“Grant funds also can be awarded to graduates who could benefit from additional training, such as vocational nurses who would like to earn an associate degree so they can become registered nurses."
That website is https://www.templejc.edu/admissions/scholarships/comeback/.
The Reskilling Grant program is available to Texas residents who meet the following criteria:
Have attended college at some point in the past but who have not been enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution in the previous academic semester or previous six months.
Enroll in an eligible undergraduate program or short-term workforce credential program on either a full-time or part-time basis.
File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way.
“Almost everyone has been impacted by COVID to some degree,” Trevino said. “People have lost jobs, lost wages. Now, people aren’t looking for a job, they are looking for a career. The Reskilling Grant can help people achieve their goals.”
Students such as Hector are now on a solid career path thanks to the program.
“Because of my Reskilling Grant, I was able to join the program and work toward getting my career started,” Hector said “I love the flexibility — I work during the day so I get to attend classes in the evening, which makes life a lot easier for me. Also, quizzes can be done online so I can do them at my convenience.”
Hector isn’t the only Temple College student who is back on track after life threw them a curve ball.
Maria Santos started college in 2012 with hopes of becoming a dental assistant. She never completed her program, though, because of the pressure caused by trying to attend school and work full time to fund her studies.
“School and work became very overwhelming so I had to drop out in my second clinical semester,” Santos said.
Santos is back in school, thanks to Reskilling Grant money.
“I decided to take advantage of the grant because I was determined to further my career in the medical field,” Santos said.
Santos said her goal is to work her way up and become a registered nurse.
“I honestly believe I would not have been able to attend school if it was not for this grant,” she said. “It has given me the opportunity to return to school and reach my career goal.”
Winter weather forcing cancellations; wind chills in single digits expected
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Central Texas likely won’t see a great deal of additional snow or sleet, but it’s going to be extremely cold for several more days.
“More precipitation isn’t out of the question, but any additional rain, snow or sleet will be very light,” said Dan Huckaby, a National Weather Service meteorologist. What you see on the ground is pretty much what we will get.”
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, Temple had received just shy of a quarter-inch of frozen precipitation, Huckaby said.
The overnight low will be 16 degrees, but with breezy conditions and wind gusts up to 30 mph, it will feel like around 5 degrees early Friday. Friday’s high will be 32.
Temperatures will be around 15 Saturday morning, but again, breezy conditions will make it feel colder. The high Saturday will be around 40 then it will drop back to 20 early Sunday.
“It’s going to be brutally cold,” Huckaby said. “Be prepared, and remember that roads will have icy spots through the weekend.”
Huckaby said lows will remain below freezing through Tuesday.
All VA outpatient clinics and procedures previously will continue to take place via VA Video Connect or by telephone until 10 a.m. Friday, according to William Negron, a spokesman for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.
“All sites of care are scheduled to resume normal operations at 10 a.m. Friday,” he said. “The Emergency Room in Temple will remain open.”
Temple ISD will be closed Friday, and extracurricular activities will not be held, according to district spokesperson Jon Wallin.
“We plan to resume normal operations on Monday,” he said. “Please stay warm and be safe.”
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple will remain open, but clinics and outpatient centers are modifying schedules for Friday.
“The safety of our team members and the community is our top priority,” said BSW spokesperson Deke Jones. “We encourage patients who have an upcoming appointment to call their provider’s office or reach out using MyBSWHealth to confirm appointment details.”
BSW virtual care options will remain available, including same-day care for many common conditions.
“As always,” Jones said, “if you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911.”
The Feb. 4, 5 and 6 performances of The Last of the Red-Hot Lover have been canceled, but the show is still set for Feb. 10, 11, 12 and 13, according to Ruby Jett of Temple Civic Theatre.
Auditions for Inherit the Wind are still set for Sunday and Monday evenings, Feb. 6 and 7 at the theater.
Temple College spokesman Eric Eckert said Friday’s classes will be conducted online and most faculty will be working from home. As of now, live classes will resume Monday.
The Temple City Council meeting cancelled for Thursday will be held at 10 a.m. Monday.
All city facilities will remain closed Friday and Saturday, and facilities that normally are open Sunday are expected to be open.
Recreational events such as the Father/Daughter Dance, Geek-Out Family Day and the Temple Public Library First Friday Art Show are all cancelled. Emergency services will operate as scheduled.
Friday’s trash pick up will be delayed until Saturday, and residents can place garbage, recycling, and bulk and brush items at the curb by 7 a.m.
The Temple Police Department’s Civil Service Exam will proceed as scheduled on Saturday.
Several participants in the Feb. 4 First Friday activities Downtown have announced they will not be open as scheduled.
Seleese Thompson, owner of Precious Memories in Downtown Temple, said she decided to close because of the frigid weather.
“With it so icy cold, a lot of people won’t be going out,” she said. “But, we will be in full force for the March First Friday. We will have the Charre Smith book signing then, and Santa will be here celebrating St. Patrick’s.”
Also, several food trucks that were planning First Friday specials this week won’t be open.
JohnJohn Montelongo, organizer of the Artist-2-Artist Showcase on Main Street, said today that Friday’s art show and sale will not be held because of the weather.
Anyone headed Downtown Friday night might want to contact the restaurant, retail shop or night spot to make sure they will be open.
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Imagine a day full of smiles, thoughtful words and impromptu acts of kindness. That day is Feb. 17, and thanks to a Temple bank, it’s going to be a joyful occasion.
“United Acts of Kindness is a day for our community to come together to spread joy, hope and love to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors,” said Melissa Perrin, communications officer for First United Bank.
“Kindness can be as simple as calling an old friend to see how they’re doing or paying for someone’s order in the drive-thru,” she said.
United Acts of Kindness is part of Random Acts of Kindness, an initiative started in Denver in the mid-1990s. The concept has spread across the world, and several businesses and organizations — First United Bank, for one — have become involved.
To encourage acts of kindness, First United Bank has a “pledge registration” on its website. To pledge, click: https://cloud.em.firstunitedbank.com/united-acts-of-kindness-2022/sign-up.
“Our goal was to have 100,000 acts of kindness pledged,” Perrin said. “It’s still almost two weeks away, and we already have commitments for 103,000 acts. We’re going to crush our goal.”
According to Perrin, even the smallest acts of kindness are significant.
“It may seem like it doesn’t accomplish much, but just like the domino effect, one act of kindness can lead to more positive outcomes,” she said. “Don’t hold back from uplifting others with compliments and compassion on this day.”
Kenedy Przybylski, financial center manager at First United Bank in Temple, said the local branch will celebrate Feb. 17 with several projects.
“We will be providing welcome kits to foster children through Foster Love Bell County,” she said. “They have a great need for medicine lock boxes. We’re glad to provide items that sometimes get overlooked.”
“I’m hopeful First United can partner with a local coffee shop or breakfast restaurant to pay a certain dollar amount toward purchases that morning,” she said. “Hopefully, that kindness spreads and people pay it forward. We will be providing stickers and small cards to let people know what United Acts of Kindness is all about and to encourage them to spread kindness throughout their day.”
“We will have bank employees reach out to our elderly customers and check up on them,” she said “My goal for this day is to spread kindness and for people to feel an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness.”
“This day could touch so many lives, and I hope to grow this day year after year in Temple,” Przybylski said.
The First United website has a list of popular Kindness ideas, including:
Picking up trash in a park or neighbor’s yard.
Donate books to the library.
Tell your parents or other loved ones how much you appreciate them.
Say thank you to a janitor at your office, school or gym.
Drop off cat or dog food at Temple Animal Shelter.
Pay for someone’s meal anonymously at a restaurant.
Donate personal hygiene items to a local shelter.
Compliment a stranger.
Place a happy or positive sign in your front yard.
Leave an extra-big tip.
Pass out treats at a Bark Park.
Make a donation to a worthy cause.
Tell a policeman, fireman, doctor or nurse how much you appreciate them.
Thank your trash collectors for their hard work.
Spend money at a locally owned business.
Write notes of gratitude to co-workers, friends and family.
Q: When you first sought office, what were your goals for the city, have those goals changed and has Temple reached them?
Walker: My goal was to continue our economic stability, low taxation and emphasis on public safety. Have we reached this? I would say yes, we have. My goal now is to maintain this trajectory..
Q: Temple’s approach to developing Downtown has been a huge success. Define the strategies the city used, and can similar strategies be used to drive businesses and customers to other parts of the city?
Walker: Downtown Temple is the heart of our city and Santa Fe Plaza is its focal point. We have developed the infrastructure around Downtown, and now we see the fruits of our labor with the redevelopment of the Hawn/Arcadia/Sears buildings, The Plaza project and H5B3 Birdcreek investment. These are examples of public money being followed by private investment. We hope to continue this trend in other parts of our city.
Q: What is the city’s stance on panhandlers soliciting for money in Temple?
Walker: The city of Temple has spent a great deal of time addressing this ordinance. Public safety is key. The solicitor must not panhandle in a roadway but remain on the sidewalk. They cannot stand on islands or medians. This is not meant to be heavy-handed; we must consider the safety of not only the solicitor but also those driving in that vicinity.
Q: In your opinion, what are the top concerns for the city and how can they be addressed?
Walker: Central Texas is booming, and the city must be prepared for the influx of new citizens daily. Infrastructure, public safety, solid waste will all be affected.
Q: City Council will soon take action on the Downtown Plan. What are some elements of the plan that you like and maybe some that you don’t particularly care for?
Walker: We have a small business that has been located Downtown for over 70 years. I have seen Downtown strong and bustling and then empty and dilapidated. Now, it is exciting to see the renewed investment and revitalization. The Downtown planning area is so large that it has been divided into sub areas. Each sub area has been highlighted by its strength. Parking has also been addressed with two parking garages kicking off this month.
Q: Let’s talk about the old Katy Depot. There’s been a lot of talk about it being renovated? What are your thoughts on its future and how could that become a reality?
Walker: The Katy Depot is an iconic building reminding the city of our railroad beginnings. Many ideas have floated around about its highest and best use and I am excited to see where it lands. The depot’s future is bright and I look forward to its redevelopment.
Q: Temple is working on a Mobility Master Plan. What do you hope the plan includes? More bus routes? Shorter waits at traffic lights? New roads? Anything else?
Walker: The city of Temple is in the process of creating its first Mobility Master Plan to improve local mobility and regional connectivity. We are currently reaching out to our citizens through a series of public engagements. These events have been well attended and we appreciate the feedback. I personally would like to see more bus routes to and from the Industrial Park. This would help serve the growing demand for good jobs in that area.
Q: Temple’s animal shelter is getting an expansion. What steps could be taken to make the shelter a no-kill facility and is that something that could be coming in the future?
Walker: Our animal shelter is finally getting a much-needed renovation. As our community grows, so does the number of abandoned and stray animals. This renovation will expand the kennel areas and provide air conditioning throughout the building. It will also add office space and play areas for folks to get to know the animals they would like to adopt.
Q: Going back to the Downtown plan. Do you favor the idea of an underground garbage system, especially in the Downtown district? It’s now being done in Ennis, and cities in Florida are big proponents of the concept. Would it work in Temple?
Walker: I am very interested in looking into an underground garbage system. It is a unique way to control the odor and rodent issues associated with alleys. We are early in the process of understanding what all would be needed or if it would be fiscally prudent, but it is an interesting idea.
Q: What is Temple’s biggest “need” or “want”? Commercial air service? A Downtown music venue? Minor League baseball? I’m just throwing these out there. What’s on your list and how could it become reality?
Walker: I believe that Temple has the trifecta of Work, Live and Play. But, on my short list, I would like to see more hotels Downtown and the revitalization of Bend O the River. Both of these and more are within reach and will help continue Temple to be a place where people love to call home.
COMING TOMORROW: Our Town Temple wraps up its 10 Questions: Temple City Council with a session featuring Susan Long. Thanks to all five members of City Council for participating.
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