Suspected Arsonists to Accept Plea Deal/Community Moves on After Fire - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/25/05

Suspected Arsonists to Accept Plea Deal/Community Moves on After Fire

ATF ATF
ATF ATF

Five teenagers who allegedly set fire to Abernathy Middle School and High School are set to accept plea bargains from the Plainveiw District Attorney's office. Eric Sepeda, James Hernandez, Jose Hernandez, Juan Dominquez, and a 16-year-old minor, were arrested shortly after the fire in early October of last year. The teens each originally faced up to 22 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The terms of their plea bargains will not be disclosed until the official plea date on March 18th.

10/6/04
All Five Suspects In Custody In Connection To Abernathy Fires
On Thursday night the ATF and Lubbock Police have arrested the fifth man wanted in connection with the weekend fires at two Abernathy schools.

While Abernathy school officials are happy with the plea bargains, the say they'd rather focus on the future.  Instead of looking behind they just try to stay positive and as the old saying goes... "When life handed them a lemon, they made lemon-ade." Middle School Principal Harold Bufe says, "Whatever we've got here is what we've got and we're excited about that."

Principal Bufe's middle school suffered the most extensive damage during last October's fires. He and his students know they can't change what happened, so instead they're moving on. A few weeks after the damage was done, eight portable classrooms became Abernathy Middle School. 8th grader Brenden Rogers says, "I think it's gone good. It was scattered at first but now we're all here together and it's more convenient." 6th grader Whitney Ford agrees.  She says, "It's more convenient now you get to see all your friends that aren't in your grade or in your classes."  Mr. Bufe says his school hasn't missed a beat.  "We just kept on rolling, we haven't got time."

Students and faculty affectionately call the mobile classrooms 'The Village' and that's not the only nick-name.  Bufe adds, "It's been called everything from the 'Mountain Resort' to the 'Burn Unit."

Obviously, the Abernathy Antelopes have keep their sense of humor, even when they remember that dreadful day in October. 8th grader Jake Ogle recalls, "My mom told me and I thought it was a dream.  You always think your school is going to burn, it just never happens!"

With a sense of humor, comes a sense of pride. Everyone in Abernathy can be proud of the way the community pulled together. Superintendent Herb Youngblood says, "The community came together and helped out and the things they did for the kids and the school. Even though it took a tragedy, I think it's been a good experience overall."

Staff and students hope to be back in their old building by Christmas this year. Demolition inside the building is finishing up and new construction should start sometime in March. When all is said and done the whole process will come with a price tag of $2.5 million. The only thing not covered by insurance is the cost of the portable classrooms.

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