Welcome to another episode of about Mansfield. I’m Steve Cosio broadcasting from Podcast Mansfield Recording Studio. I’m glad you’re here today. Coming up on the show we have news, weather and sports. I will talk in studio with a Mansfield resident who works on a national campaign that helps the area be a safer place to live. We also have the Mansfield events calendar and we will conclude with your chance to win a $25 gift card to Steven’s Garden and Grill with the trivia question of the week.
Taking a look at this week’s headlines:
• Little league crook gets sent to big league prison
• The race for the mayor’s seat expands to four
• Mansfield ISD names a new chief of police
• District high schoolers show their leadership skills
• The chamber of commerce recognizes the best of the best
• What color will you wear this Monday?
• And, our unscientific poll question “What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?” We have the answers along with your weekly weather forecast and local sports. The news starts in 30 seconds. This is About Mansfield.
Welcome back to About Mansfield.
A parent-volunteer who stole more than $295,000 from the Mansfield Youth Baseball Association has been sentenced to eight years in prison and restitution payments. 52-year-old Jennifer Sue Witteveen of Arlington first began volunteering for the nonprofit association when her child was playing baseball with MYBA. As the association’s treasurer, between January 2012 and July 2018, she illegally used her access to make unauthorized cash withdrawals and write fraudulent checks, which eventually ended up to almost for $300,000. When Witteveen’s theft was discovered she claimed that she stole the money to pay for family medical bills but a forensic accounting analysis showed that she spent only 2% of the funds on medical costs, while spending much higher amounts are non-essentials such as $22,000 on Amazon purchases and almost $50,000 on fast food and restaurants. Witteveen pled guilty to the charge of “Theft of Property $150,000-$300,000” normally a second-degree felony that was enhanced to first-degree because of the victim organization was a nonprofit.
Longtime Mansfield resident Skeeter Pressley took to social media last week to announce his candidacy and is now the fourth citizen to seek the mayor’s seat in May’s special election. Mayor David Cook is leaving his post to run for District 96 of the State House of Representatives. Pressley, who is vice president of an Arlington-based janitorial service and supply company, has yet to officially file his paperwork but, when he does, will join the ballot along with Michael Evans and Brent Newsom as well as Terry Moore, who has announced his intentions but has yet to officially file.
The last day to file for the special election mayor’s race, as well as Council Place 2, is Tuesday March 3.
The last day to file for the general election Council Places 6 and 7 is Friday February 14.
The general and special elections are scheduled for Saturday May 2.
Mansfield ISD has named Greg Minter as the new the chief of police. Minter has served 22 years in law enforcement; 15 of those years with in MISD, and was previously the district’s assistant police chief.
The chief of police position became vacant after Jimmy Womack announced his retirement. Minter is a Texas native, a Master Peace Officer and a graduate of the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Leadership Command College.
21 students in Ben Barber Innovation Academy’s DECA club will be advancing to the state competition in February.
The Mansfield ISD students finished in the top eight places of their category, beating dozens of other students from across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex who were competing against them.
DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
The state competition will be held Feb. 20-22 in Fort Worth with more than 4,800 students and advisers in attendance.
Ben Barber has more than 100 DECA members who represent all MISD high schools. Texas DECA is the largest DECA association in the world consisting of more than 14,000 statewide members.
The Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2019 Chamber Business Awards banquet Friday night at Walnut Creek Country Club and celebrated this year’s winners:
Outstanding Large Business of the Year: Mouser Electronics
Outstanding Small Business of the Year: Frost Bank
New Member of the Year: Pinch A Penny Pool, Patio & Spa
Community Service of the Year: Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA
Volunteer of the Year: Gary Giddings, Big D Barbecue
Congratulations to this year’s winners and nominees.
The Mansfield School District is encouraging the community to wear a color this coming Monday that represents a cancer that affected the life of a loved one as part of their monthly Colors for Caring Mondays campaign.
The Colors for Caring day for February is scheduled for Monday February 3.
The Colors for Caring initiative was implemented by former Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas in 2015 after the support he received during his bout with thymoma cancer.
You can prepare your attire for Monday by viewing the cancer color chart on our website — aboutmansfield.com — and click on LINKS.
So, what color will you wear? Personally, I’m thinking a combination of pink and white.
Let’s check the weather. Alexa, what’s the weather forecast for the next week in Mansfield, Texas?
ALEXA: Mansfield for the next seven days:
Wednesday 52 degrees Fahrenheit and partly sunny weather.
Thursday 52 degrees and showers.
Friday 57 degrees and intermittent clouds.
Saturday 67 degrees and lots of sun.
Sunday 74 degrees and partly sunny weather.
Monday 73 degrees and intermittent clouds.
Tuesday 62 degrees and mostly sunny weather
Sunday and Monday in the 70s sounds like a great time to get outdoors!
Let’s check the local sports home games in Mansfield this week.
Girls and Boys District Basketball Game – 3:30 – Mansfield Gyms
Lake Ridge Basketball vs Desoto – 4:30 – Lake Ridge Gym
Lake Ridge Lady Eagle Basketball vs Desoto – 6:00 – Lake Ridge Gym
Lake Ridge Soccer vs Waxahachie – 4:30 – Lake Ridge Football Field
Legacy Varsity Women’s Basketball – 5:30 – Legacy Gym
Legacy Varsity Men’s Basketball Game – 6:00 – Legacy Gym
Legacy Varsity Women’s Soccer Game – 6:00 – Legacy Football Stadium
Legacy Varsity Men’s Soccer Game – 8:00 PM – Legacy Football Stadium
Mansfield Varsity Basketball Lady Tigers – 6:00 – Mansfield Gym
Lake Ridge Varsity Softball – 11:00 – Lake Ridge Softball Field
Mansfield vs. Lake Ridge Lady’s Soccer – 4:30 – Mansfield High School
Lake Ridge Men’s Soccer – 4:30 – Lake Ridge Football Field
Summit Boys and Girls Basketball – Summit High School
NATIONAL DAY OF… for the upcoming week:
Wednesday January 29 – National Corn Chip Day
Thursday January 30 – National Inane Answering Message Day
Friday January 31 – Inspire Your Heart with Art Day
Saturday February 1 – Spunky Old Broads Day
Sunday February 2 – Ground Hog Day & Super Bowl Sunday
Monday February 3 – Feed the Birds Day
Tuesday February 4 – Thank a Mail Carrier Day
In this week’s unscientific poll, Podcast Mansfield Recording Studio once again took to the Internet and asked the question, “What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?” It appears there a more country fans in Mansfield than rock ‘n’ rollers.
3. Jimmy Buffett
2. George Strait
1. Garth Brooks
We’ll have to the results of another unscientific poll next week.
That’s a look at news, weather and sports. If you have a news tip that you would like us to follow up on, send us an email to news@About Mansfield.com. When we come back, we’ll talk in-studio with John Geyerman of Free For Life International about how you can make a Mansfield a better place to live. We’re back in 30 seconds. You’re listening to About Mansfield.
ABOUT MANSFIELD: Welcome back to another segment about Mansfield. I’m Steve Cosio broadcasting from the studios of Podcast Mansfield and in the studio today, we’re going to get a little serious today with a topic regarding an organization called Free For Life International and in the studio today is a Mansfield resident, John Geyerman. John, welcome to the show.
JOHN GEYERMAN: Thank you, Steve, I appreciate you having me in today.
AM: We’re going to start broad for a bit and kind of work our way more local. So let’s start with what is Free For Life International and how long has it been around?
JG: So Free For Life has been around for about 14 years. It was started by a young lady named Collette Bercu in Nashville, Tennessee, and she had an organization ran that on her own with kind of her husband and friends support for about 10 years. She developed three and a half years ago or so developed some medical conditions and she saw the future of the organization at risk, so she hired an executive director and started placing a board. And I came on three or four months after that. I had an invitation through an organization also based in Nashville called Retail ROI, which is Retail Orphan Initiative. It’s made up of retailers who leverage their experience relationships and resources to help disadvantaged children all over the world. And Free For Life happens to be one of the organizations that Retail ROI supports.
AM: What is the main focus of Free For Life?
JG: Free For Life International was founded to help support victims of trafficking, create education and awareness around trafficking and human exploitation. We also support through border monitoring stations, so rescue and restoration, sustainability projects for survivors, etc, etc.
AM: Most people who get involved with nonprofit organizations either do it because it sounds fascinating, or they have a personal experience in this. Why did you get involved?
JG: That’s an interesting question. And I don’t know that I have an amazing answer other than the fact that I have two daughters. And I have a wife, obviously, and just the expanse of the horror, I had no idea that that that that type of evil and level of evil existed and that it’s actually in our backyard. And so as I started talking to the executive director, and asked how I could support their organization, and she asked for me to join the board. It was really kind of an opportunity for me to leverage the things, my background and my skill set to help the organization in a significant way. And it’s just it’s a cause that I just feel very passionate about.
AM: Describe what trafficking is and how it has affected North Texas.
JG: Awesome. Thank you for asking. So trafficking can happen in several different ways. And it could be forced labor. So you could have the promise of a job opportunity. And when somebody travels, so they’ll provide tickets they’ll provide, you’re going to come here, you’re going to work in my hotel and you’re going to do cleaning. Well then when you get here, they take your passport and say hey, we need to make a copy of this for our files. They never return them and then they say well, oh by the way, you owe us 50,000 thousand dollars for the travel that we arranged for you for your housing, for your food, for your life sustainability. And they’re required to work that off. And what they find very quickly is that they’re not cleaning rooms, but they’re potentially, sometimes they are, sometimes it’s forced labor. And then in many cases, unfortunately, what it is, is it’s becomes sexual services that are sold.
AM: This is not just a third world issue than it is here in the United States.
JG: This is happening in our backyard and it actually looks a little different. In America, it’s very psychological type of situation. That was kind of my perception. It seems like I run into a lot of people with kind of two trains of thought around this that number one these people are, this only happens in third world countries, which is not at all true. I mean, there was a year and a half ago, there was a bust a block away from here in Mansfield, Texas, at a massage parlor where two girls were identified as being held against their will to perform sexual acts. Literally a block away from where we are here in minutes. January 2018. Absolutely.
So this is happening everywhere. So there is a trafficking hotline Texas is the second most populated state that where they’re receiving their calls from Dallas is the second most populous city where these calls are coming from Houston is number one. In the states, California is number one. And you know, a lot of this traffic there. If you look at a map, I-35 comes straight up out of Mexico. And it’s a it’s an artery. So Dallas is kind of a sorting hub, the crosstalk, if you will, so this is where everybody they bring them to Dallas and Fort Worth, and they distribute these people all over the United States and they all come through Dallas-Fort Worth.
AM: How can citizens recognize, or is there a way for citizens to recognize that a girl may be in distress because of trafficking? Is that possible to see?
JG: I think so. I think there’s some pretty simple signs and I think you know, somebody that won’t look you in the eye, they just have a kind of an odd lack of confidence, you know, not just a natural kind of introverted kind of lack of confidence type of thing. But somebody that really looks like maybe they’re not being allowed to look people in the eye, in particularly younger girls, you know, if you’ve got a potentially a young girl with an older, much older guy, or a guy that looks to be very, very aggressive. And you know, particularly with your kids, if your kids are, you know, there’s always that balance of well, I don’t want to be looking over their shoulder. But, you know, if your kids are really intentionally not letting you look at their technology, they’re not looking at, don’t look at my phone or you pick up their phone and they get very anxious about it. That’s a red sign, young girls or even young boys that all of a sudden have kind of expensive gifts that you wouldn’t really associate them to have or there because in a lot of these recruitment type of practices, and these guys who target these kids and it is generally kids unfortunately, but they you know, they take him out, they try to find out what what do you want to do and they buy him gifts and they get their nails done in the they get their hair done, and they do all these nice things for him to try to build that relationship. So if you see an individual who all of a sudden is kind of acting different wearing different clothes, etc, etc, that’s also a red sign, a red flag.
AM: And people shouldn’t go up to these kids and say, you know, are you okay? Or should they?
You know, I think it kind of depends on the situation and how you perceive if they’re with somebody, I you don’t want to go up and confront them that could create a really nasty situation, I would think right. So the the human trafficking awareness hotline is something that I would utilize it. That’s always to me a better strategy than calling local law enforcement, local law enforcement is going to say what we need proof. Did you see this? Did you see that do you have what kind of evidence do you have, where the trafficking hotline is going to work with resources in the area, even if it’s an immediate situation, and that’s one thing that Free For Life is working with. We’re working very, very closely now with the medical profession, with the hospitality profession, the hotel industry, education. So we’ve actually created a preventative curriculum and an identification curriculum for all these industries actually had a conversation this past week with an executive from IHG, which is Holiday Inn, Crown, etc, etc. And they are really invested in this. So they’ve they’re creating an awareness campaign and we’re working very closely with them on that nationwide to be able to train and educate their staffers to see the signs, you know, if if a young ladies dropped off, and you know, the guy comes in pays for the room, and then a young lady goes up to a room and she’s there and guys coming in and out. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. Right. So their staff is being trained to be able to identify those types of situations.
AM: Let’s go back. You mentioned the hotline. Do you have a hotline number?
JG: Yes. So the National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-373-7888. And I would encourage and they also take texts that that number, so if you want to be a little more anonymous, or you’re pressed for time, you can text that number as well.
AM: 888-373-7888. And these aren’t prostitutes, these aren’t girls that are making bad decisions. These are actually They’re slaves. Is that correct?
JG: They are they are. As a matter of fact, it’s interesting, you know that. Today there’s an estimated 40.3 million people in in slavery worldwide, more than ever in the history of our world, we have already made 40 million. And obviously, they don’t respond to the census, right. So this is probably a light estimate. And it’s very quickly becoming for organized crime and cartels. It’s becoming the number two source of revenue because you can sell a firearm and narcotics once to an individual and you’ve got to replenish. That person you can sell multiple times a day. And that’s the reality of what’s happening. And not to be too graphic. I was in a situation in Mexico City, where the hotels actually have ice blocks and the young lady sit on these ice blocks because they’re servicing so many individuals a day. That’s to reduce the swelling quite frankly.
AM: What are the red flags and how do I protect my children and loved ones from from becoming trafficked?
JG: Again, I think a lot of conversation and awareness, I think looking for any of those changes that we had discussed earlier in regards to their hanging out with an individual that you may not have recognized or have known from their friends’ circle in the past, particularly if they happen to be a little older than what you would think that they should be. Gifts that are un-explainable, especially things that might be out of their price range that they wouldn’t have normally been able to get in the past. And again, a lot of conversation and monitoring technology. 50% of the young girls. In one recent study, 50% of the young girls that were identified as being targeted, failed to say anything because they said that they were scared that their technology would be taken away. If somebody found out that somebody had reached out to them even if they had not interacted or responded. They didn’t mention it to their mom or dad because they were scared this they take their phone away. So you got to be aware you got to be wearing you got to have conversations and and you know to go back to one of your questions earlier. Are these people victims, I would say eight 89% again and another study that was done very recently 89% of victims of trafficking have either been incarcerated with the police or in a medical situation where they were treated as a victim. And nobody ever asked if they were doing this because it was they were being forced or coerced to. So if somebody had just simply asked, Are you okay? Do you need help? That could have been the trigger that potentially gave them the courage to step out of this lifestyle?
AM: How does Free For Life international work?
JG: So Free For Life international focuses on border monitoring, which so we actually have border monitoring stations and we we provide the revenue and resources to be able to operate those. So if they have potential victims that are being trafficked from India and Nepal, or vice versa, for instance, we’re able to create metrics and the data that we’re getting from that is very valuable as well to understand what those situations look like. And we also have sustainability projects. So we have safe houses and we’re creating situations where survivors They cannot be put back with their family or they can’t be replaced. In a lot of cases, their families are the ones that put them in the situation or sold them into trafficking. So we have sustainability. We teach them a sustainable skill, whether it’s farming, it’s agriculture, it’s tailoring or what have you, right farming and things like that. So we also have a more supporting schools for survivors in Thailand. And we are educating people all over the United States, we’ve actually partnered with an organization called Control Alt Delete, that have created a school in a box program, which is very, very cool. So they’ll, they’ll send a flight case with 15 Android type devices that have a K through 12 curriculum built to them. They’re self powered, they don’t need WiFi. The curriculum is already installed. They send these things all over the world. And we’re actually putting our curriculum, our anti prevention curriculum and education curriculum on these and they’re going all over the world. We just spoke at a Latin America orphan conference in Guatemala two weeks ago. And we have 40 organizations that are now reaching out to us. We created a world class preventative education curriculum that we’re offering to free to any organization that wants it. So we have, as I said, 40 organizations that are saying, hey, it’s a train the trainer program. So we’ll send you the facilitators guide, and the Participant Guide, and they get this amazing curriculum that they’re able to then share within their school, their orphanage or whatever their facility happens to be. So preventative and then we’re also offering scholarships. So we have currently nine survivors that have now stepped out of that lifestyle. They are pursuing higher education, opportunities, college opportunities, and we are paying either all or a portion of their of their collegian expenses.
AM: You mentioned so far in this interview three countries India, Guatemala and Mexico, where’s the majority of trafficking coming from?
JG: I can’t tell you that this is where the the prospects are coming from or the victims are coming from but I think the usage is growing exponentially in the United States, which goes back to the question that you started with. Is this a third world thing? It’s absolutely not. It’s happening everywhere. And you know, when you have a major sporting event, you have the Final Four, you have a Super Bowl, you have a World Series, it ramps up and they’re busing these people in you don’t quite frankly, it’s not going to stop until I think in my opinion, there’s harsher penalties for the end user, the person who’s demanding the service.
AM: How can the people that are listening right now get involved with Free For Life International?
JG: Well, obviously you can go to our website FreeForLifeIntl.org, you can call, you can look at our Twitter, you can stay involved with us and Facebook and interact with us there. We do have a North Texas chapter, we have a Georgia chapter. But we’d love to have people attend any of our North Texas events. We have a lot of educational events. And then we always encourage if, if you’ve got an opportunity here in the community where you’d like somebody to come speak, or to educate your group, whether it’s a work group or a nonprofit group or whatever you would like we’re happy to come support you in those efforts.
AM: Give the world website again,
AM: FreeForLifeIntl.org and again, the hotline if you suspect any suspicious activity 888-373-7888. Again 888-373-78-88. John Geyerman, this has been fascinating.
JG: I appreciate you having me on today. Thank you very much for taking your time to learn a little bit more and allow the the people listening to understand a little bit more about trafficking and have an opportunity to educate themselves again, I think it’s a problem that’s growing and getting bigger and bigger and hopefully, without all of us watching out we can we can put an end to it.
AM: Appreciate you being here on about Mansfield. Thanks, John.
JG: Absolutely. Thank you, Steve.
Wednesday JANUARY 29
Jimmyz Jamz & The Noise – 6:30 PM · TapHouse16
Girl Scout Cookie & Wine Pairing – 6:30 PM · Poured
Posture and Injury Prevention – 6:30 PM · RunUnited
Thursday JANUARY 30
Senior Night Celebrates the Mansfield Hockey class of 2020! – 7:30 PM – StarCenter
Sandy Bottoms performs – 6:30 – Dirty Job Brewing
King George: A Tribute to George Strait – 8 PM · Fat Daddy’s
Shiner S’More Pint Night – 6 PM · Fat Daddy’s
Friday JANUARY 31
Tinley Michal performs 7 PM · Flying Squirrel Coffee Company
Local Spotlight: Kameryn – 7:30 PM – Farr Best Theater
Rebel Yell w/ Sonic Temple – 9 PM · Fat Daddy’s
Marissa Chibli – Fat Fridays Happy Hour – 5 PM · Fat Daddy’s
Friday Night Magic – 7 PM · Oblivion Games
Saturday FEBRUARY 1
A Sweet Princess Tea Party – 2 PM · Dance Academy of Mansfield
Super Bowl Bratwursts – Knights of Columbus – after all Saturday and Sunday masses – St. Jude Catholic Church
Fish City Grill Crawfish Cookout – 11 AM · Fish City Grill
Pack 788 Pinewood Derby – 10 AM · Mansfield Church of Christ
Kidd Six – 9 PM · Fat Daddy’s
Sunday FEBRUARY 2
Sensory Jump w/ House of Hope for Autism – 10 AM · Urban Air
The Championship Series All-Star Sunday – 10 AM · Fieldhouse USA
Tuesday FEBRUARY 4
High Tide Scuba‘s February Social – 6 PM · Dixie House Café
Many families move to Mansfield because of the schools. Fifteen years ago, my wife and I had a choice — to live within a 30-minute drive of UT Arlington. We could have chosen to live in Grand Prairie, North Richland Hills, the H-E-B area, Fort Worth or Arlington itself. But, we did our homework and liked what the Mansfield school system had to offer. It was the exemplary schools that made the difference. Part of being exemplary is allowing the students and parents to self-police the district’s policies.
There’s a school district superintendent in Mont Belviue, Texas — about 30 east of Houston — who believes he holds his student body of 57-hundred students to “a higher standard.” With that higher standard comes the story of Barbers Hill High School senior DeAndre Arnold, an 18-year old African American who, like any high school senior, is looking forward to prom and graduation day.
The graduation roadblock that Mr. Arnold is facing is one superintendent Dr. Greg Poole. According to a story published in the Washington Post last week, DeAndre’s dreadlocks are too long. DeAndre has been wearing his hair in locks since the seventh grade. Let me repeat that: since the seventh grade.
As his hair grew, he and his mother, Sandy Arnold, would cornrow it down or intricately tie it up to make sure his hair was off his collar, away from his earlobes and out of his eyes so he could meet the school district’s dress code policy. Yet, the district has banned him from attending classes until he cuts his hair.
According to the Baytown Sun newspaper, in 2017, four-year-old student, Jabez Oates, was barred from Barbers Hill Kindergarten Center for having hair too long. This led to a subsequent investigation with the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year, the DOJ said Barbers Hill was not in violation but made suggestions to change the hair portion of the district’s dress code.
Is this a racial issue? You decide. African Americans make up 3.1 percent of the school district’s population. The school board is entirely Caucasian.
The students in the Barbers Hill School District are being held to such a “high standard” that the word HAIR appears 24 times in the 112-page student handbook.
Including clean hair, well-groomed hair, unnatural hair color or color variation in hair, ribbons or hair accessories should be appropriate to hairstyle. It even addresses facial hair in that students must be clean-shaven at all times. Beards, goatees and mustaches are a no-no!
The Mansfield ISD Student Handbook mentions the word HAIR only once in the 133-page guide simply stating under ACCESSORIES:
“The following may not be worn during the school day: Hair that causes a health or safety hazard and or a disruption of the school environment.”
So, the question is: does hair make the student? If Mansfield ISD had such a strict dress code regarding hair, my son would not have graduated (nor would he have been a Hispanic National Scholar). Does hair make the student?
Dr. Poole, the 1940s just called to say that it’s time to restructure your policy.
That’s my comment for the week. What’s yours?
We welcome all feedback about the program, whether it’s about a specific news story or feature that you heard or the show itself. Feel free to chime-in by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by voicemail at 817-435-2938. That’s 817-435-2938. We’ll read or play back some of the comments next week.
Congratulations to Brandon Anderson who was the first person to correctly answer last week’s trivia question — how many square miles is the City of Mansfield? According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Mansfield has a total area of 36.4 square miles. Brandon receives a $25 gift card to Steven’s Garden & Grill.
After the break, the trivia question of the week. I’m Steve Cosio and this is About Mansfield.
The first person to email the correct answer to email@example.com
will receive a $25 gift card to Steven’s Garden & Grill located at 223 Depot Street. They have new hours – Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Check them out on the Internet at StevensGardenAndGill.com.
This week’s question: [YOU MUST LISTEN TO THE SHOW FOR THE QUESTION!]
Good luck and thanks to Jan and John Cox at Steven’s for the gift card.
Coming up next week on About Mansfield we’ll talk with a Mansfield-based husband and wife team about ART on so many different levels — from goats to tattoos and so much more. The show will be released on Wednesday February 5. Until then, thanks for listening. I’m Steve Cosio and this… is About Mansfield.