Odessans reflect on 2018, look to new year

January 1, 2019

We asked Odessans what 2018 meant to them and what they are looking forward to as 2019 dawns.

“From the school district’s perspective, I hope the students and teachers excel, that they stay safe and that hopefully we’ll be able to hire some new teachers as the semester begins. That’s probably not likely. I hope that the board has a successful superintendent and that I can return to the life I had before. … This has been a great experience. I do hope they do that. … I hope we have a really good second semester and begin to show some improved student outcomes.” Jim Nelson, Interim Superintendent ECISD

“I hope with the help of our search firm that we find a perfect fit for our school district for the superintendent position. People don’t understand how important that superintendent position is. They set the direction for the district. You could take a superintendent that can bankrupt you, or one that knows how to be frugal and spend money wisely, the curriculum and all of that; so many important things the superintendent oversees. Getting that perfect fit is essential.” Doyle Woodall, ECISD Board of Trustees president

“I think we’ve had a pretty good year. We got some raises and we’re not as low staffed as we were. It was a good deal that the assistance district passed and hopefully that will help us be more attractive for people that may want to have career in law enforcement. I have high hopes that it will help us attract more applicants and serve the public better than we are now. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and not just for the upcoming years, but for years to come. We’re hoping to be ready for those challenges and to hit them head on.” Mike Griffis, Ector County Sheriff

“2018 to me was a list of goals and checkmarks. That list included passing a balanced budget, giving county employees raises and being able to get the sales tax passed. Those were my goals and I was able to check each and every one of them off. I hope we can continue to move in a positive direction and that we are open minded to the needs of the people.” Debi Hays, Ector County Judge

“I think we got a lot done. Of course, the convention center is about 6 months out, we’ve progressed with downtown. We’ve got a master transportation program in the works, we’ve got an engineering study going on right now at the water treatment plant. It’s been a busy year. A lot of times it’s not as fast as we want, but that’s unfortunately the way a municipal government works. Of course the city is gonna be open, the theater is under renovations. We will be starting some infrastructure projects, sewer and water, to help sustain the growth. These plans were down the road, but with the growth we’ve seen, we had to move those plans up.” David Turner, Odessa Mayor

“I think the 2018 year was a good year for the city in that we were able to begin to really discuss the sort of topics that we need to work on not just for 2019, but for the future. We had some really good discussions this year and we’ve also begun the planning phase for the next few years through the initiation of our water master plan, our transportation plan, and those things are gonna provide us great guidance not just for 2019, but for many years to come. I’m hopeful that 2019 is another great year for the city and hopefully, many of the issues we are dealing with in 2018, we’ll have some solutions. Again, just really looking at addressing the needs. Employment, bringing more people to come to work for this organization will be key for us. And just generally making sure we are making those investments that will hopefully lead to greater and additional developments and a better quality of life for our residents.” Michael Marrero, Odessa City Manager

“In our line of work, we expect the unexpected. We cover a broad spectrum. We try to take a proactive role in everything we do. The biggest thing we are all hopeful for is a reduction in crime, a reduction in crash numbers and increase in the public self awareness and voluntary compliance for all driving laws. … If we all work together to do what’s right, it would be make a significant difference in all traffic safety.” Oscar Villarreal, Texas Department of Public Safety

“2018 was a productive year for the Odessa Police Department. Twenty-three new police officers were hired and eleven recently graduated from the Field Training Program. The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Program was implemented, along with the purchase of several new ‘Ghost’ units to assist in traffic enforcement. Body cameras and E-Ticket writers were approved for purchase by city council to assist the Department in being more transparent and efficient. The Department has focused on community events to open communication with citizens: Coffee with a Cop and Chief’s Holiday Basketball Tournament. In July of 2018, Cpl. Steve LeSueur was nationally recognized by Nextdoor as one of 35 law enforcement officials out of 900,000 for community engagement.” Michael Gerke, Odessa Police Department Chief of Police

“2018 was a big change for my family and I. It was scary, to be honest with you, transitioning to here. But the people of the Permian Basin opened their arms and hearts to us and we’ve been very thankful to be a part of this community. We’re thankful for everything. We’ve been able to adjust and I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I hope we get better in the next year. My job is to continue to push these guys. My job is to ultimately make these players into better men. That’s what’s important to me and to the players.” Josh Newman, UTPB Men’s Basketball Head Coach

“2018 was a wonderful year. It was great getting back into basketball shape. I felt like 2018 was a good one for the team. We pulled out a great start with a brand new team. I’m hopeful for us to win a championship in 2019 and that we’ll come out and win as many games as we can.” Xavier Ledet, UTPB Men’s Basketball Guard

“We were on a high at the start of 2018. We went ahead and did something that we hadn’t done at Odessa High in a long time and that was win a playoff game and a gold ball. Those kids put in a lot of hard work to earn that. I’m grateful to Mr. Marquez and Danny Servance for giving me a chance to lead the program I’ve been a part of for the last three years. It’s such a blessing and now we’re here. I never thought I would have this opportunity but I’m extremely gracious, thankful to God and now we’re just looking forward to seeing our team continue to grow.” Anthony Dees, Odessa High Boy’s Basketball Head Coach

“For me and my family, 2018 was the next chapter in our lives. We were very fortunate to be where we are at Permian and the great city of Odessa. What we’re looking forward to here at Permian is to continue the traditions that were here long before us and to continue to fight, work had and make the city of Odessa proud of the Permian Panthers.” Jeff Ellison, Permian football coach

“In 2018, it was just making the team with all my good friends and us coming together one step at a time. What I look forward to in 2019 is a district championship and good things coming for my team and I.” Asiah Thomas, Permian girls basketball player

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