As Pahranagat Valley High School?s football team continues to rewrite the record books, there is something missing.
Ken Higbee on the sidelines.
Higbee is the long-time head coach of the PVHS football team and principal at C.O. Bastian High School. He has been on paid leave since last year, as an investigation is being conducted by the state. Little has been said publicly by school district or county officials, citing employee privacy concerns and that an investigation is ongoing.
Superintendent Pam Teel again Wednesday declined to make any comment. County District Attorney Daniel Hooge was not available Wednesday for comment.
The coach is running practices and communicates with assistant coaches from the stadium tower during games, but he has not been on the sidelines.
An intense and emotional school board meeting at the district office in Panaca on Sept. 8 was packed so tight that they had to bring in extra seating. The library at Pahranagat Valley High School, which was connected to the meeting via video conference, was no different. A crowd of people came to plead Higbee?s case.
The Board Chair Peggy Rowe called the meeting to order. After the Pledge she read the rules for public comment,
namely that each person is allowed three minutes to speak and ?no action may be taken upon a matter raised under this section until the matter has been properly placed on an agenda for action.?
A moment after she asked for public comment, Wesley Wilson of Hiko was up and talking. He wanted to see Higbee on the field. Wilson told the board that he ?loves the values that Ken Higbee teaches.? Following several others echoing their support of Higbee, Tia Wilson of Hiko spoke at length, as others allotted their three minutes to her. She expressed frustration that everyone is in the dark on when the investigation will end and the situation be resolved. ?We don?t need to know the details of the investigation, that?s not what we?re asking,? she said, but added people would like to know ?where we are at in the process.?
She also stated, among other things, that Higbee ?should be allowed to be a parent on that field.? Others then echoed that sentiment of wanting him on the field with their kids.
The coach?s father Vaughn Higbee spoke. He started out by saying ?I am proud of my son.? He decried the lack of support from the north side of the county and statements that have been made, mentioning he has heard of people calling his son a ?piece of crap.? He pointed to Teel and school board said, ?If you could have done what needed some guts and backbone, none of this would have happened.?
Other family members, including the coach?s brother Mark Higbee spoke. He talked about the relationships between the adults of the north and the south. He asked why there so much hate between Lincoln and Alamo and why can the kids be friends but the adults can?t.
Many others commented, vouching for the coach?s character and the positive influence he?s had on students. Several raised the question why the board won?t make the issue an actual agenda item and decried the lack of local representation.
Tia Wilson helped spread the word about the meeting on Facebook and invited people to make comments. ?I was really pleased with the turnout,? she said. ?And just how everyone was poised and expressed their thoughts on the character and influence of Ken Higbee.?
People did so for about an hour before the board moved on to other business.
Ken Higbee also declined to comment, but his wife Becky Higbee expressed thanks and appreciation for the community?s support.