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Upgrades on horizon to Boy Scout Troop 201 cabin at Longview's Teague Park

A foundation for one of the state’s oldest Boy Scout troops has turned its focus to restoring the troop’s home of 78 years, now that it has received a sought-after historical designation from the city of Longview.

Boy Scout Troop 201’s cabin in Teague Park was officially designated a local historical landmark Thursday by the City Council. The designation, which also was backed by the city’s Historic Preservation and Planning and Zoning commissions, is meant to protect the structure from any demolition or significant alterations through city ordinances.

The Troop 201 Foundation is working with architects to design renovations to the cabin that was first built in 1941 but has no air conditioning or central heating. Another challenge is making the structure more visually appealing and more comfortable to Scouts while keeping its historical fabric, said consultant Allen McReynolds and foundation President Jay Bissell.

Because the cabin has seen multiple alterations and additions over the years, the foundation has set a goal of restoring the cabin to how it looked in 1965-67, though it’s searching for photos from that time to pinpoint the cabin’s exact appearance.

Before that restoration, making the cabin’s interior comfortable in the chilly winters and sultry East Texas heat is the first priority.

McReynolds said the foundation wants to begin with installing an air conditioning and heating system with ducts.

“Many of the windows are boarded up, so there’s no opportunities for ventilation nor air conditioning, so the first two priorities would be to run ducts and blowing insulation in the original cabin, figure out what we’re going to do about insulation on the newer portion, and then run air conditioning ducts through here for air conditioning and heating, then replace the two exterior doors... with temperature-controlled, fireproof doors,” McReynolds said.

Replacing the doors as well as the windows is the step that will make the cabin energy efficient and also allow for natural lighting and exterior views from the inside, they said. But because the cabin is a historical structure, replacing the windows and several other planned renovations won’t be a simple fix.

“The windows are a trick,” McReynolds said, “because many of them don’t match as you walk around, so we can’t go to Home Depot and buy one ... that’s got a wood exterior that we can stain to make it look like a 1940 double hung window.”

With the local historical landmark designation in place, the city’s planning department wants the windows to match the windows that were installed more than 50 years ago, “but we desperately need this,” McReynolds said.

“There’s air leaking around each window. They don’t function so we can’t really open them on a beautiful spring day or fall day when the young men or young women are here utilizing it to enjoy cross-ventilation, and if we install air conditioning, it’s just going to leak right out of the windows and the doors,” he added.

While windows, doors and AC are the priorities, a new roof is also in order, as well as where to put the condenser and installing interior insulation.

“Once we’ve done that much, I don’t want to say take a deep breath, but we’ve done a lot,” McReynolds said.

There’s more they want to do, however.

Another priority of the foundation is converting the cabin’s existing bathroom into an upgraded one that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other ideas involve a kitchenette for food assembly, he said.

There also are plans for the exterior of the mostly log structure, including its 1960s creosote siding and the need for drainage around it.

For all of these issues, the foundation is calling on Fort Worth historic preservation architect Nancy McCoy for assistance as well as local architect Jim Hugman.

Foundation leadership, which includes Mark Moseley and Ken Raney, also are pushing for the removal of a dirt-floor boatshed that was attached to the structure at one time.

“I don’t think it was here in the 1960s,” McReynolds said.

Instead, he wants more windows.

“The more glass that’s in here, the more user-friendly I think for the kids.”

The foundation was created by a longtime member of the group who is now deceased, Bissell said. It owns the cabin, but the city of Longview owns the property, which is part of Teague Park.

Trinity Episcopal Church also has a role as the responsible party and licensee for Troop 201, he said

“We have a license with the city for the building to be here,” Bissell said, “so we’re responsible and kind of overseeing this project that’s going to take place here.”

The foundation hopes to make air conditioning upgrades in 2020.


Local
Longview nursing facility faces $21K fine after three residents with dementia leave locked unit

A Longview nursing home faces a possible fine of more than $21,000 after three residents with dementia walked out of a locked unit and down Fourth Street without staff realizing they had left.

The incident occurred about 7:45 p.m. July 29 at Longview Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on North Fourth Street, formerly known as Clairmont Longview.

The facility’s failure to provide enough supervision to prevent the residents from leaving its secure unit put them in “immediate jeopardy” of their health and safety, according to an Aug. 13 investigation by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

“The residents were found walking in the middle of the street heading away from the facility in the direction of a major intersection,” the investigator’s report said. The residents slipped away from the unit by following several visitors out the locked door without the staff’s knowledge, the report added.

When contacted by phone, Longview Hill administrator Maggie Moore declined to comment about the incident or the results of the investigation.

Two of the residents are severely cognitively impaired and considered to be at high risk for “elopement,” the Health and Human Services Commission term for leaving a long-term care facility without supervision; the third resident is in “cognitive decline” and a moderate elopement risk, the report said.

Longview Hill’s medical director was driving north on Fourth Street about 7:50 p.m. when she saw “three elderly women walking in the south bound lane headed north,” the report said. The women were about two driveways north of Longview Hill.

The medical director recognized the women, stopped and left her car to question them. They said “they were just out for a walk,” according to the report. They could state their names, but could not say where they lived. The director turned the women around, walked them back to Longview Hill and told the director of nursing and other staff what had happened.

When a Health and Human Services Commission investigator interviewed the women, “Both Resident #1 and #2 indicated they went out for a stroll on the day in question. … Resident #1 said they were cooped up all the time and they needed to blow off some steam by taking a walk. She said they did not do anything wrong,” the report said.

The Aug. 13 investigation found that Longview Hill took steps to prevent any more elopements after the incident. Codes to unlock doors to the secure unit were changed, and staff were told to keep the codes confidential and not share them with residents’ visitors or family members.

The three residents must now wear wander guards, which sound an alarm when the wearers go outside a defined area. This helps staff find and stop residents with dementia before they can leave the premises.

Longview Hill staff also underwent in-service training about wandering and elopement behaviors, door code confidentiality and identifying and preventing abuse and neglect of patients, the report said. In addition, the residents’ individual care plans and assessments of wandering behavior were updated.

The facility reported the July 29 incident to the Health and Human Services Commission within five working days, as required by federal law, commission press officer Kelli Weldon said in an email Friday.

While the commission investigator found Longview Hill in substantial compliance with state and federal regulations at the time of the Aug. 13 visit, the commission still recommended that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fine the facility $21,393.

“We investigated and determined there was past noncompliance and found conditions in the facility that constituted immediate jeopardy to resident health or safety,” Weldon said, referring to the July 29 incident.

“The recommendation is preliminary. The facility will have an opportunity to appeal, and the final decision to assess the penalty rests with CMS,” she wrote in her email.

Weldon urges anyone with concerns about the health and safety or quality of care provided to residents of any long-term-care facility to call the HHSC complaint hotline at 1 (800) 458-9858. Callers can remain anonymous.

In an emergency or life-threatening situation, call 911 or local law enforcement, she said.


Saudi Arabia says drone attacks knocks out half its oil supply

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched drone attacks on the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field Saturday, sparking huge fires and halting about half of the supplies from the world’s largest exporter of oil.

The attacks were the latest of many drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure in recent weeks, but easily the most damaging. They raise concerns about the global oil supply and likely will further increase tensions across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The attacks resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations” at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field, Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The fires “were controlled,” the statement said, and no workers were injured.

The fires led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies, according to the statement, which said part of that would be offset with stockpiles. The statement said Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, would provide updated information in the next 48 hours.

The Iranian-backed Houthis, who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world’s poorest country, took responsibility for the attacks in the war against a Saudi-led coalition that has fought since 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government. But the U.S. blamed Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeting, “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo added.

In a short address aired by the Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel, military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones after receiving “intelligence” support from those inside the kingdom. He warned that attacks by the rebels would only get worse if the war continues.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” Sarie said.

Houthi rebels have been using drones in combat since the start of the Saudi-led war. The first appeared to be off-the-shelf, hobby-kit-style drones. Later, versions nearly identical to Iranian models turned up. Iran denies supplying the Houthis with weapons, although the U.N., the West and Gulf Arab nations say Tehran does.

U.N. investigators said the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in range.

First word of Saturday’s assault came in online videos of giant fires at the Abqaiq facility, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Machine-gun fire could be heard in several clips alongside the day’s first Muslim call to prayers, suggesting security forces tried to bring down the drones just before dawn. In daylight, Saudi state television aired a segment with its local correspondent near a police checkpoint, a thick plume of smoke visible behind him.

President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer his support for the kingdom’s defense, the White House said. The crown prince assured Trump that Saudi Arabia is “willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression,” according to a news release from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as “the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world.”

The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then transports it onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea or to refineries for local production. Estimates suggest it can process up to 7 million barrels of crude oil a day. By comparison, Saudi Arabia produced 9.65 million barrels of crude oil a day in July.

“This is one of the biggest central processing facilities in the world. The Iran conflict is going to be hitting the world in a new way,” said Kevin Book, managing director, research at ClearView Energy Partners LLC.

The Khurais oil field is believed to produce over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. It has estimated reserves of over 20 billion barrels of oil, according to Aramco.

There was no immediate impact on global oil prices as markets were closed for the weekend. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.

While Saudi Arabia has taken steps to protect itself and its oil infrastructure, analysts had warned that Abqaiq remained vulnerable. The Rapidan Energy Group, a Washington-based advisory group, warned in May that “a successful attack could lead to a monthslong disruption of most Saudi production and nearly all spare production.” It called Abqaiq, close to the eastern Saudi city of Dammam, “the most important oil facility in the world.”

In a report published Saturday, Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, noted that although Aramco officials have indicated that exports will resume in the next few days, “there is nothing to suggest that this is a one-off event and that the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels will forgo further strikes on Saudi sites.”

The war has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The violence has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine and killed more than 90,000 people since 2015, according to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, which tracks the conflict.

The rebels have flown drones into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile batteries, according to Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged. The Houthis launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia’s crucial East-West Pipeline in May. In August, Houthi drones struck Saudi Arabia’s Shaybah oil field.


Local
Longview ISD wants district-wide charter campuses; town hall meetings set

Longview ISD officials have scheduled a series of meetings to gather community input as they consider applying for district-wide charter status.

Board President and Place 4 Trustee Ginia Northcutt said the district has wanted to turn all of its schools into charter campuses since Senate Bill 1882 was passed in 2017.

SB 1882 is a state law that lays a path for a nonprofit charter school group to operate public school campuses. District officials have hailed the charter option as a way to fund innovative education opportunities and receive a significant infusion of state money .

In May, Longview got approval to turn six schools into a district-within-a-district of charter campuses through SB 1882. Those campuses, operated by the nonprofit East Texas Advanced Academies, are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, Johnston-McQueen Elementary School, Bramlette STEAM Academy, J.L. Everhart Elementary School and Forest Park Magnet School.

Superintendent James Wilcox wrote in a column for the Longview Voice, the school district’s newspaper, that the district is “waiting for word from the TEA about district-wide charters, but if everything goes through, it could prove to be an amazing opportunity for all of our campuses to excel.”

Craig Coleman, chief innovation officer for the district, said turning all schools into charter campuses is being explored by the district and school board, and no action has been taken with the Texas Education Agency.

“All of it comes down to student achievement,” he said. “(The board) wants to provide schools that will be quality schools for students that will offer them opportunities in different avenues, whatever avenues they choose, and that will provide them with the best education that they can get so they can leave here prepared and ready.”

Some of the benefits of becoming a charter campus are district-wide International Baccalaureate training, a new Career Technology Education program that meets IB standards, expanding programs such as the East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy, Montessori and advancing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education, Coleman said.

He added that a district-wide charter system would bring additional state funding.

It is unclear if East Texas Advanced Academies would run all the campuses, Coleman said, adding that the district would seek proposals to evaluate the best fit.

The ETAA board is appointed, unlike elected trustees on the Longview ISD board. Coleman said the boards running the charter campuses would be evaluated by the district’s school board.

And even though the non-elected boards would make decisions with taxpayer funds, Coleman said the elected school board still would have control.

The town hall meetings to discuss the district-wide charter plan are set 6 to 7:15 p.m. on four evenings: Sept. 23 at East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy; Oct. 1 at Forest Park Magnet School; Oct. 8 at Judson STEAM Academy; and Nov. 5 at Longview High School.

“The town halls are an opportunity for us to hear what does our community want, what does a great school look like for a community and how can being a charter school district provide more opportunity for what our community wants,” Northcutt said. “That includes teachers, parents, taxpayers. It’s an opportunity for us to listen to what our community wants, and it’s also an opportunity for us to explain what this charter status is.”

Coleman said a district-wide charter system would provide “some different opportunities for our kids.”

“We have some campuses now that are focusing on engineering. We have some campuses that are focusing on health services,” he said. “Just based upon what the board finds through their assessment of the community and everything else, they would be able to say these are our needs, these are our wants, we can specialize in some different areas.”


Local
Correction

A story on Page 5A Friday should have said the 2019-20 fundraising campaign of the Greater Longview United Way concludes in March.

A column on Page 4A Saturday by James A. Marples on the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman incorrectly included a photo of Ali and opponent Sonny Liston.