Conroe - Montgomery Edition | June 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

2020 HEALTHCARE EDITION HOSPITALS BELOW CAPACITY

ONLINE AT

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 3  JUNE 17JULY 21, 2020

Montgomery County hospitals have been operating within capacity during the pandemic as coronavirus containment strategies aimed to reduce the burden on the systems.

HOSPITAL BEDS IN USE IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY

GENERAL BED SURGE CAPACITY: 1,500

1,500

Surge capacity measures hospital bed capacity during an inux of patients.

OPERATIONAL GENERAL BED CAPACITY: 1,251

1,250

BEDS IN USE BY NONCOVID 19 PATIENTS

1,000

Beds in use by conrmed or suspected COVID 19 patients

GENERAL BEDS ICU BEDS

750

500

250

0

June

March

April

May

TESTING TROUBLES

1.1M

17,474

1.2M

TOTAL TESTS IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY*

TOTAL TESTS IN TEXAS**

1M

15,947

20K

906K

14,176

1.0M 0.8M 0.6M 0.4M 0.2M 0

800K

12,428

693K

15K

10,118

587K

8,715

489K

6,879

10K

427K

5,726

351K

4,808

SOURCES: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, AMERICA’S ER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *NO DATA AVAILABLE FOR MAY 5 AND MAY 23. **EFFORTS TO TRACK TOTAL TESTS ADMINISTERED IN TEXAS ARE ESTIMATES AS PRIVATE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ARE ONLY REQUIRED TO REPORT POSITIVE CASES. Despite eorts to ramp up testing, only about 3% of Montgomery County’s residents have been tested as of June 1.

290K

4,045

5K

225K

0

As Montgomery County continues to reopen, ocials said they are keep- ing a close eye on coronavirus trends. After an initial testing shortage, the testing, coupled with a lack of data clarity statewide, canmake it challeng- ing for experts to understand the scope of the disease and how to contain it, Hospitals ready, but testing demand drops inMontgomery County BY EVA VIGH CONTINUED ON 26 county has expanded its testing capa- bilities since early May, and hospitals are reporting bed usage well within their capacities. But despite concerted eorts to ramp up testing, only an estimated 3% of the county’s residents have been tested as of June 1, and at least one drive-thru testing site has shut down due to decreased demand. A lack of

HEALTH CARE EDI T ION 2020

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more

FROMCHRISSY: After almost 10 years with Community Impact Newspaper , I am excited to add Conroe and Montgomery to the areas I serve as general manager. As a former resident of Conroe, I look forward to reconnecting with this community. Our annual Health Care Edition is included in this issue, and our team is committed to keeping you updated. For daily coverage, visit communityimpact.com, our Facebook page, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett, cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Eva Vigh REPORTER Andy Li SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kaitlin Schmidt ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Janet Chambers METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Lanane CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, TX. The company's mission is to build informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across six metropolitan areas, providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMPATRON CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES comnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 8 Local road projects under construction GOVERNMENT 10 Conroe mayor sues county over

FROMEVA: Protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement have swept across the nation, including in the Conroe and Montgomery area. You can nd our coverage on these protests on Page 9. Going forward, we strive to continue reporting on issues related to racial and social inequalities in our community. Let us know how we can improve our coverage. Eva Vigh, EDITOR

appraisals WATER

11

Committee directs San Jacinto River Authority not to raise water rates CITY& COUNTY

15

The latest local news

HealthCareEdition

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

SNAPSHOT

19

Local health care data HOSPITAL LISTINGS Hospitals in the Conroe area CORONAVIRUS

Local sources 28

New businesses 7

Local hospitals 5

1

21

Q&A

23 Statewide eorts to test nursing home residents underway INSIDE INFORMATION 24 A path to protection REAL ESTATE 28 Residential market data IMPACT DEALS 29 Local coupons CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE All content in this print publication, both editorial and advertisements, was up to date as of the press deadline. Due to the fast-changing nature of this event, editorial and advertising information may have changed. Please visit communityimpact.com and advertiser websites for more information.

Visit our website for free access to the latest news, photos and infographics about your community and nearby cities. communityimpact.com LIVE UPDATES

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

149 IMPACTS

75 Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding 1097

COMPILED BY COMMUNITY IMPACT STAFF

LEWIS CREEK RESERVOIR

1097

WILLIS

FEATURED IMPACT

75

LONE STAR PKWY.

45

LAKE CONROE

6

3 1

4

1484

MONTGOMERY

7

5

CONROE PARK DR.

149

JIMMY BUFFETT’S MARGARITAVILLE ANDY LICOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville

105

3083

75

336

KEENAN CUT OFF RD.

CONROE

2854

Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville has moved its opening date on Lake Conroe at 600 Margaritaville Parkway, Montgomery, from July 1 to June 26. The 186-acre location will feature an 18-hole golf course, two restaurants, a water park, boating, shing and other lake activities. The resort is also open for meetings and events with its 72,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort will be the franchise’s rst location in Texas.

336

FISH CREEK THOROUGHFARE

149

1314

2

45

MAP NOT TO SCALE N TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOWOPEN 1 Chick-l-A opened May 21 at

1

7

WEST FORK SAN JACINTO RIVER

1488

1488 20180 Eva St., Montgomery. City Admin- istrator Richard Tramm conrmed the fast-food chain’s opening date at a Mont- gomery Economic Development Corp. meeting May 18. The restaurant is known for its chicken sandwiches and wae fries. 936-597-6465. www.facebook.com/ 105lonestarparkwaycfa MAP NOT TO SCALE N TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2 Teriyaki Madness held its grand opening May 14 at 381 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 1100, Conroe. The Asian fusion restaurant is open for dine-in, curbside pickup and delivery orders. 936-267-2918. www.teriyakimadness.com 3 Amazing Window Cleaners opened April 8 at 20821 Eva St., Ste. 40, Mont- gomery. The company is continuing window cleaning services during the coronavirus outbreak. 936-249-2100. www.amazingwindowcleaners.com 4 Giovanni’s Bridal House opened June 6 at 18001 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 103, Montgomery. The store oers both new and consignment dresses as well as other bridal supplies. 936-283-1138. www.facebook.com/giovannis.bridalhouse

242

Chick-l-A

Amore Fine Dining and Spirits

COURTESY CHICKFILA

ANDY LICOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COMING SOON 5 Illinois-based Buske Logistics , a logis- tics company specializing in warehousing and distribution, plans to open in Conroe Park North, 540 Conroe Park West Drive, Conroe, in the third quarter of 2020, according to an April 20 newsletter from the Conroe Economic Development Coun- cil. Construction began in January. Buske is planning to build a 145,200-square- foot warehouse and will bring about 20 full-time jobs to Conroe. Most products stored in the facility will be packaging for consumer goods. Buske currently has ve locations within Harris County, though the new Conroe facility will be its rst in Montgomery County. www.buske.com

6 Starbucks will open at 20219 Eva St. in Montgomery in winter 2021, according to a Starbucks repre- sentative. This 2,100-square-foot coee shop will feature a drive-thru and nitro cold brew taps. www.starbucks.com RELOCATIONS 7 Amore Fine Dining and Spirits opened May 6 at its new location at 14860 Hwy. 105 W., Montgomery. The restaurant is open for dine-in, and reservations are encouraged. Takeout and curbside pickup are still available. The former location at 17099 Walden Road, Ste. 110, Montgom- ery, has been rebranded as Amore Bistro. 936-582-1053. www.amorenedining.com

ANDY LICOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville

MARGARITAVILLE PKWY.

LAKE CONROE

WALDEN RD.

N

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Jimmy Buett’s Margaritaville 600 Margaritaville Parkway www.margaritavilleresort lakeconroetexas.com

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

UPCOMING PROJECT

1484

WALLY WILKERSON PKWY.

2B

2C

H A R

CONROE PARK W. DR.

POLLOK DR.

45

B E N D

1

3083

75

N

336

105

CONROE

COMPLETED PROJECT Timeline: TBD Cost: $481,911 Funding sources: city of Conroe Drainage improvements A project to improve about 1,000 feet of drainage along Bois D’Arc Bend at Walden Road to allow water to ow more eciently into Lake Conroe will begin after utilities are relocated.

105

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

CAMELOT ST.

2A

3083

1314

SGT. ED HOLCOMB BLVD.

45

3

LIVE OAK DR.

336

SOUTHERN OAKS DR.

MAP NOT TO SCALE N

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

ONGOING PROJECTS

45

A

75 CANDY CANE LN.

713-224-3426 1403 Spring Cypress Rd Spring

1 FM 3083 widening Work to widen FM 3083 to a four-lane divided roadway from the Union Pacic Railroad to Loop 336 North is 65% com- plete. Contractor Smith & Co. is expected to complete the project by the second quarter of 2020. Timeline: Nov. 12, 2018-second quarter 2020 Cost: $9.05 million Funding sources: Texas Department of Transportation, federal

N

3 Live Oak Drive improvements Rebel Contractors Inc. is 85% nished with work to rehabilitate drainage and access ramps to Little Caney Creek along Live Oak Drive. Timeline: February-August Cost: $598,075 Funding source: city of Conroe

B

N

Frazier, Silverdale streets’ sidewalks Sidewalk construction to connect Frazier Street to the park at Candy Cane Lane A and First to Seventh streets along Silverdale Street B is substantially complete. The project also includes improving sidewalks along North San Jacinto and West Dallas streets as well as adding ramps. The project was originally budget- ed $400,622 but was completed $30,826 over budget. Timeline: June 2019-June Cost: $431,475 Funding source: city of Conroe

1097

75

ANDERSON RD.

45

Saving people money on more than just car insurance. ®

WILLIS

830

N

FM 1097 widening TxDOT has acquired almost all of the right of way needed for the project to widen FM 1097 between I-45 and Anderson Road in Willis from a two- to four-lane road with a continuous left-turn lane. Contractor Angel Brothers has com- pleted 45% of the project. Timeline: Oct. 15, 2018-third quarter 2020 Cost: $14.9 million Funding sources: TxDOT, federal

2 Trac signal installation The city of Conroe is almost nished installing mast arm trac signals at A Sgt. Ed Holcomb Boulevard at Camelot Street as well as Wally Wilkerson Parkway at B Conroe Park West Drive and C Pollok Drive. Timeline: January-June Cost: $610,862 Funding source: city of Conroe

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not availableinallstates, inallGEICOcompanies,orinallsituations.Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. Homeowners, renters and condo coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. GEICO Gecko image © 1999-2019. © 2019 GEICO

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF JUNE 8. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

8

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CLOSEUP

BY ANDY LI

PROTESTERS GATHER TOMOURNDEATHOF GEORGE FLOYD

More than 100 protesters gathered in downtown Conroe to mourn the death of George Floyd. (Photos by Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

With chants and signs, Montgomery County residents gathered May 31 in downtown Conroe to peacefully demonstrate following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25 after a white ocer knelt on his neck. More than 100 residents gathered along West Davis Street holding signs that protested racism and police brutality. Many of the protesters wore face masks. At 4 p.m., police blocked the street to trac and escorted the protesters to North Thompson Street, where they knelt for close to nine minutes. Organizer LaDon Johnson said the diverse participants in the protests wanted to come together to create change in the community. “We’re not here to destroy our property or destroy our community. We just overcame coronavirus by our businesses being shut down,” LaDon Johnson said. “Destroying our property, going and vandalizing things is not the way. Coming together as a unit, making sure our community is stronger, that’s all we can do.” LaDon Johnson said he believed interactions with the Conroe Police Department had gone well and the other ocers present “understand we come and want to keep it peaceful.” Sgt. Kevin Johnson said the Conroe protest, which drew more than 100 people into downtown Conroe, was “wonderful” and praised organizers LaDon Johnson and Chris Easley for coordinating with CPD. “We met in person to make sure we had everything before that happened, planned it out. They knew what we were going to do; we knew what they were going to do,” Kevin Johnson said.

A protester stands at the corner of West Davis Street with a sign that says “My daddy matters.”

Protesters peacefully gathered in downtown Conroe on May 31.

A child hands out face masks to protesters in downtown Conroe.

A man holds the hand of his daughter while holding a sign that says, “I can’t breathe,” referencing words Floyd spoke.

9

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

GOVERNMENT Conroemayor sues county over appraisals

THE CASE SO FAR Conroe Mayor Toby Powell filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County entities asking for property tax relief in light of the economic effects of coronavirus closures.

APRIL 14

MAY 15

Powell says in a news release that the suit asks for reappraisal of property in the county based on recent economic hardships. MAY 19

Montgomery County Commissioners Court votes to defend the lawsuit. MAY 26

Scheduled hearings on appraisal protests begin. MAY 27

Montgomery Central Appraisal District sends notices of appraised value to homeowners.

Mayor Toby Powell files a class- action lawsuit against Montgomery County Chief Appraiser Tony Belinoski and Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae for property tax relief.

BY ANDY LI

SOURCES: TOBY POWELL, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MONTGOMERY CENTRAL APPRAISAL DISTRICT/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Conroe Mayor Toby Powell filed a class-action lawsuit against Mont- gomery County tax officials in May to provide property tax relief for residents facing economic hardships amid the coronavirus pandemic. Powell, who is running for re-elec- tion in November, said no city funds will be spent on the lawsuit against Montgomery County Chief Appraiser Tony Belinoski and Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae, but as an elected official, he felt it was the only way to help Montgomery County citizens. “What we are asking for in this lawsuit is for the appraisal district to re-appraise all of the property in the county based on what has happened to our economy over the last few months,” Powell said. According to data from the Mont- gomery Central Appraisal District, the average market value of active homesteads in the county has gone from $192,486 in 2010 to $297,639 in 2020, a 50% increase. In the city of Conroe, values went from $140,048 in 2010 to $242,970 in 2020, a 73% increase. Belinoski said in a released statement his office is concerned about the hardship Montgomery County residents are facing and has explored potential solutions with the Texas comptroller’s and gover- nor’s offices.

“TAMMYMCRAE DOESN’T HAVE THE AUTHORITY VESTED INHER BY THE PEOPLE NOR BY THE

“ I ASKYOU [GOV. GREG ABBOTT] TO TAKE ALL THE STEPSWITHINYOUR POWER TORELIEVE OUR COMMUNITYOF THE BURDENOF THESE CLEARLY EXCESSIVE VALUATIONS, INCLUDING IF NECESSARY, SUMMONING THE LEGISLATURE TOA SPECIAL SESSION.” TOBY POWELL, CONROE MAYOR

CONSTITUTION TOPROVIDE THAT TYPE OF RELIEF, AND AGODDANGMAYOROF A CITY IN THIS COUNTY SHOULDKNOWTHAT.” JAMES NOACK, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PRECINCT 3 COMMISSIONER

“The conclusion reached by all was that any changes to the process would require legislative action,” Belinoski said. Homestead exemptions Following the announcement of the lawsuit, Conroe City Council approved a 2.5% homestead exemption pro- posed by Powell at a May 28 meeting. That would save a homeowner of a $100,000 home in Conroe an addi- tional $10.93 per year. Montgomery County commission- ers discussed the lawsuit with the county attorney during executive session at the May 26 Commissioners Court meeting. When they returned to the regular session, the commissioners voted to defend that lawsuit, meaning they will present a legal defense in response to Powell’s demands.

and proclaimed that I’m going to give everybody in Montgomery County tax relief, and I’d have been a hero, but knowing all along I couldn’t do that, so we didn’t do that,” Riley said. “He knew better, and he did it anyway.” Montgomery County Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador said the Texas comptroller, the Legisla- ture and Abbott have the power to provide relief. In a letter sent May 27 to Abbott, Powell asked for recognition of the economic effects of the ongoing pandemic. “I ask you to take all the steps within your power to relieve our community of the burden of these clearly excessive valuations, including if necessary, summoning the Legislature to a special session,” Powell said.

“I think the word ‘defend’ is kind of ludicrous considering the lawsuit is baseless, and they’re suing the wrong dang people,” Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said. “Tammy McRae doesn’t have the authority vested in her by the people nor by the Consti- tution to provide that type of relief, and a god dang mayor of a city in this Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said to provide relief, Gov. Greg Abbott would have to call a special legis- lative session into order. Property tax relief could be created through legislation, which would then be approved by public vote. “I could’ve done just like Mayor Powell—I could’ve come out here county should know that.” Legislative action needed

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

WATER Committee directs San JacintoRiver Authority to not raise rates next fiscal year; costs to be paid in future

STEPS TO SETTING A RATE The San Jacinto River Authority is going through a process before setting its rates for the next fiscal year.

BY EVA VIGH

maintenance cost for the surface water plant and transmission system and GRP debt service. The rates would not be based on legal costs associated with lawsuits nor the uncollected revenue from Conroe and Magnolia. The legal costs—$1.76 million— would be included in the budget but not included in the rate. In Scenario L, the rates would cover all costs, including legal costs, except for the uncollected revenue from Conroe and Magnolia. The rates would increase by 3.3% over FY 2019-20. Repayment options In both scenarios, the SJRA would need to draw from its debt service reserve to pay for its legal fees and shortcomings from Conroe and Mag- nolia, Kelling said. Drawing from this reserve could have stipulations required by the Texas Water Devel- opment Board and bondholders, and this money must be replenished in future years, according to the SJRA. “Once you start pulling money from the debt services reserve, then that ends up being a whole other set of reporting you need to do,” he said. Kelling said they could theoreti- cally draw from this reserve for up to nine years, and it would need to be replenished by funds awarded by the court required of Conroe and Magnolia and any remaining revenue generated from rates. After about 30 minutes of discus- sion, the committee ultimately voted on Scenario K.

The legal outcomes largely hinge on the cities of Conroe and Magnolia, which have not paid rising SJRA fees since 2016 on the grounds that they have placed an exorbitant burden on residents; the resulting shortfall from these entities not paying full rates; and lawsuits filed by Quad- vest, a private utility company, against the SJRA. As it currently stands, Conroe and Magnolia will owe $4.7 million by August, according to the SJRA. When Kelling presented these rate options May 13 to The Woodlands Water Agency, the managing body for the 11 municipal utility districts in The Woodlands, the board said it

After outlining several possible rate increase scenarios for fiscal year 2020-21, the San Jacinto River Authority’s Groundwater Reduction Plan Review Committee opted May 26 to direct the SJRA to keep this year’s rates—$2.73 per 1,000 gallons for groundwater and $3.15 per 1,000 gallons for surface water. Not raising rates—while seemingly a win for residents footing increasing water bills—means entities will still need to pay for the costs in the future, officials said. “This is not free money,” SJRA Deputy General Manager Ron Kelling said. “At some point in time in the

JUNE 22 The Groundwater Reduction Plan Review Committee votes on the budget and rate order to be approved by SJRA. JUNE 15 The final budget and rate order are provided to GRP Review Committee. MAY 26 SJRA GRP Review Committee votes to direct SJRA board to not raise rates next fiscal year. SJRA staff uses this rate to draft a budget. MAY 13 Kelling presents scenarios to the Woodlands Water Agency. The board votes to direct its GRP representative to vote on a rate that does not include legal costs and short payments. APRIL 20 At the SJRA meeting, SJRA Deputy General Manager Ron Kelling outlines four rate scenarios for next fiscal year, depending on how lawsuits pan out.

near future, this money’s going to have to be repaid.” The committee’s objective for the meeting was to direct the SJRA staff to prepare a budget according to the rate that was chosen. The GRP review committee is slated to hear

would not be support- ive of continuing to pay for rate increases based on legal fees or other entities not paying their share. “Their request was ‘Go find somewhere else to pull that money from,” Kelling said. “As we indicated to them, there is no other place to pull from.”

“THIS IS NOT FREE MONEY. AT SOME POINT INTIME INTHE NEAR FUTURE, THIS MONEY’S GOING TO HAVE TOBE REPAID.” RON KELLING, SJRA DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER

this budget at its June 15 meeting and if approved, the rate then goes to the SJRA board of directors for approval June 22. Rates considered In mid-April, Kelling provided four rate scenarios to the SJRA board based on legal outcomes that could raise rates by up to 14.5%.

Following the WWA meeting, Kelling said he went back to the drawing board and May 26 presented the GRP review committee with two additional rate increase scenarios: Scenario K and Scenario L. In Scenario K, requested by the WWA, the rates for next fiscal year would stay the same. The rates would cover only the operations and

SOURCES: SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY, WOODLANDS WATER AGENCY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

News from Conroe & Montgomery ISDs EDUCATIONBRIEFS Montgomery ISDCFO: Budget has a ‘staffproblem,’ not a ‘stuffproblem’

BY EVA VIGH

significant portion of its staff, such as cleaning crews. When these positions were included, MISD was budgeting significantly more on staff than comparable districts, Lynn said. “[We] don’t have a stuff problem; [we] have a staff problem,” Lynn said. Board President Jim Dossey sug- gested the district reallocate funds from other programs. The proposed budget does not have any programs cut, as those decisions would need to be made by the board, Lynn said, acknowledging several parents who had spoken up at the meeting to ask the board to not cut the district’s dual-language program. “Those are decisions that we as a group would have to discuss and make some hard decisions on as we move forward,” Lynn said. He added because he arrived late in the school year, the board may not have time for those conversations before the budget is adopted.

although costs are relatively flat for next year, MISD is missing out on some revenue sources. For one, it will not receive the fast-growth allotment this year from the state, which accounts for about $2 million in additional revenue. The district also did not qualify for the new instructional facilities allot- ment it had received for the construc- tion of Lake Creek High School and Oak Hills Junior High because those funds are only available for two years, he said. That was a loss of $400,000. The other major issue is MISD lags behind competitors in its teacher hiring salaries, Lynn said, but the district is unable to afford a pay increase in 2020-21, he said. A 2% pay raise for all teachers and staff would cost the district $1.2 million, interim Superintendent Ann Dixon said. The district spends about 80% of the budget on staffing, which is similar to other districts, Lynn said. However, MISD has outsourced a

MONTGOMERY ISD Montgom- ery ISD faces two major financial challenges as it finalizes its 2020-21 budget for adoption: a potential $2.8 million shortfall and underpaid teachers and staff, officials said. “[Our] staff is starting to see for the first time some of our best and most talented educators are leaving and going to neighboring districts, ... and [we’re] not in a position financially where [we] can do anything about that,” Chief Financial Officer Kris Lynn said at June 1 budget workshop. For the 2019-20 school year, the budget will come in approximately flat, although a $4 million shortfall was originally projected. The district had a few unexpected revenue sources this year as well as unex- pected cost savings because of the COVID-19 shutdown, said Lynn, who took the position April 1. The preliminary budget shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year is projected at $2.8 million. Lynn said

WHAT DOES HOLD? NEXT YEAR The district will need to make several decisions before it adopts a final budget for fiscal year 2020-21 by the end of June, officials said. $2.8M projected budget shortfall 0 pay increases A 2% pay raise for all teachers and staff would cost the district $1.2M. SOURCE: MONTGOMERY ISD / COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

The Conroe ISD board of trustees meets July 21 at 6 p.m. at 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe. 936-709-7752 www.conroisd.net The Montgomery ISD board of trustees meets July 21 at 7 p.m. at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery. 936-276-2000 www.misd.org The Willis ISD board of trustees meets July 13 at 5:30 p.m. at 204 W. Rogers Road, Willis. 936-856-1200 www.willisisd.org MEETINGSWE COVER Conroe ISD CISD is offering curbside meal pickup for students at several campuses from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June. State Independent school districts across Texas were allowed to hold strength and conditioning workouts and band practices starting June 8, according to the University Interscholastic League, the sanctioning body for academic, athletic and arts competitions in Texas middle and high schools. SCHOOLHIGHLIGHTS

AnnDixon namedMISD interimsuperintendent

BY EVA VIGH

The move follows former Superin- tendent Beau Rees’ announcement that he would leave the district to become Weatherford ISD’s new superintendent. WISD is located in Parker County. On June 2, the board met in private session with attorneys to review

the list of possible superintendent candidate applications. The next step was to begin first interviews with a small subset of the candidates, and two candidates will be invited back for a second interview, officials said. The board is aiming to select a final candidate by the end of June.

MONTGOMERY ISD Following a special board meeting May 21 to inter- view candidates, the Montgomery ISD board of trustees offered the interim superintendent position to Ann Dixon. Dixon has accepted the position, according to MISD officials.

Conroe ISDapplies for two grants for Tropical Storm Imelda, COVID-19

BY ANDY LI

aid operations in areas that were affected by the tropical storm. Hines said CISD was eligible for $1.94 million from the grant. “These funds, if awarded, would be used to address identified expenses incurred by the district during recovery from Tropical Storm Imelda,” Hines said. Debbie Phillips, assis- tant superintendent for

elementary education for CISD, said the district was also eligible to receive $49,000 to support eli- gible schools under the Texas Education Agency Instructional Continuity of Learning Grant. Phillips said the funds would be used for San Jacinto Elementary School to support remote learning and staff training. Both grants were approved unanimously.

DISTRICT SEEKS GRANTS Conroe ISD will seek two grants in response to recent crises. Conroe ISD is eligible for: • Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations Grant: $1.94 million • Texas Education Agency Instructional Continuity of Learning Grant: $49,000 SOURCE: CONROE ISD/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

CONROE ISD The Conroe ISD board of trustees approved two grant applications at its May 19 virtual meeting related to the two crises in 2019 and 2020 affecting the district, Tropical Storm Imelda and the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said the Imme- diate Aid to Restart School Operations Grant is meant to

13

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

YOUR HEALTH IS A LOT OF THINGS. THE ONE THING IT ISN’T, IS ON HOLD.

No virus can weaken our mission.

• Cleaning all our facilities to an enhanced extent • Limiting the number of visitors • Requiring masks for all patients and staff • Screening everyone entering our care sites • Enforcing social distancing inside • Requiring COVID-19 testing prior to procedures

At St. Luke’s Health, we’re resuming the scheduling of appointments and procedures. And we’re doing it safely. Our thorough approach determines which procedures can safely be performed, where, and when. These are the steps we’re taking to make it happen:

Staying on top of your health has never been more important, whether it’s an ongoing health concern, a routine checkup, or a procedure. Don’t let social distancing stop you and don’t wait until it becomes an emergency. Talk with your doctor about scheduling an appointment. For more information, visit us online at chistlukeshealth.org/here-always.

Here, always.

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News fromMontgomery County & Conroe

Commissioners OK$500economic stimulus checks MONTGOMERY COUNTY Homeowners in Montgomery County may qualify for a $500 economic stimulus check. Commissioners on June 1 June 9 Commissioners Court meeting for final approval. The plan will send each said he believes a portion of the county’s nearly $105 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security homesteaded properties in Montgomery County as of April 1, according to a news release from Noack’s office. To qualify for the funds, residents must be a U.S. citizen, own a homesteaded BY EVA VIGH & BEN THOMPSON

STIMULUS CHECKS PLANNED The program could give stimulus checks to Montgomery County homesteaders who apply between July 1-Aug. 1. in federal funds was received by Montgomery County for economic relief. $104.98M homesteads could receive $500 each for a total of $65.3 million. 130,721 SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

homesteaded property owner throughout the county who completes an application a $500 stimulus check. Montgomery County received $104.98 million from the $2.2 trillion federal pack- age for coronavirus-related economic relief. The payment was part of the approximately $11.2 billion provided to the state of Texas. In the statement, Noack

Act funding would be best used to provide relief money directly to taxpayers. He said the payments would benefit the local economy and assist those who have lost their jobs or businesses due to stay-at- home and shutdown man- dates imposed by the county and state governments since mid-March. There are about 130,721

authorized the county attor- ney’s office to move forward with a plan to implement Commissioner James Noack’s economic stimulus proposal, which gives back $65 million to taxpayers during the coronavirus pandemic. The county attorney presented a resolution at the

property in Montgomery County as of April 1 and be current on property taxes. Applications are due between July 1 and Aug. 1. Online and in-person appli- cation information will be posted when it is available, according to the release.

Countywill distribute CARES Act funds ConroeCityCouncil approves 2.5%homestead exemption BY EVA VIGH

Nonprofit organizations that will receive a portion of funding to distribute are Crisis Assistance Center, which will distribute funds countywide and will be allocated $422,988, and Mission North- east, which will also be given $422,988. Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Conroe, Society of Samaritans and Interfaith of The Woodlands will each receive $265,000 to distribute in various parts of the county. The remaining funds will go to public services for rapid rehousing and home- lessness prevention.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY Montgom- ery County commissioners approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding plan May 26. Montgomery County Community Development received $2.42 million in Round 1 federal funding, Director of Community Development Joanne Ducharme said. The entity expects to assist 935 households to avoid eviction and homelessness with Round 1 funding. The homelessness prevention portion can be used for rent and utility assistance.

a savings of $10.93 per year on a $100,000 property. Property taxes make up about 30% of the city’s general fund, City Administrator Steve Williams said. The city's sales tax revenue could be hurt by coronavirus restrictions, he said. Council members said the city could not afford more than a 2.5% exemption.

BY EVA VIGH

CONROE Conroe City Council on May 28 approved a 2.5% homestead exemption. A homestead exemption removes part of the value of a property from taxation and lowers taxes. For example, under the city’s current tax rate of $0.4375 per $100 valuation, a homeowner would pay $426.56,

BY BEN THOMPSON Republican race for 457th Judicial District judge headed to July runoff MONTGOMERY COUNTY With no candidate receiving more than 50% of Republican votes in Montgomery County in the March primary, the two leaders in the race for 457th Judicial District judge —Eric Yollick with 37.53% of total votes and Vince Santini with 25.07% of total votes—will compete in a July 14 runoff election ahead of a November general election against Democrat Marc M. Meyer, who ran unopposed. In March, Yollick said he looked forward to the continuation of the race. “We need an experienced litigation attorney ... who knows how to make the right substantive rulings in civil cases so that we can get rid of the civil case backlog,” he said. Santini also noted the challenges of a runoff. “Historically, voter turnout is lower in a runoff, so it’s my job to rally the voters ... under what I believe in for a campaign of good moral judgment, integrity, ... hard work and service,” Santini said. Gov. Greg Abbott delayed runoff elections to July 14 due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. JULYRUNOFFELECTION On July 14, voters will select one of two candidates who received the most votes among the five Republicans who ran for 457th Judicial District judge in March. Montgomery County 457th District Court judge The winner will face Democrat Marc M. Meyer in November. He ran unopposed in March. Eric Yollick: 37.53% of votes March 3 Vince Santini: 25.07% of votes March 3

SOURCE: TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

MEETINGSWE COVER Meetings may be held by video conference.

Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets at 9:30 a.m. June 23 and July 14 at 501 N. Thompson St., Ste. 402, Conroe. www.mctx.org

Conroe City Council meets at a time TBD June 24 at 300 W. Davis St.,

Montgomery City Council meets at 6 p.m. June 23 and July 14 at 101 Old Plantersville Road, Montgomery. 936-597-6434. www.montgomerytexas.gov/citycouncil

Willis City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. July 21 at 200 N. Bell St., Willis. 936-856-4611. www.ci.willis.tx.us

Conroe. 936-522-3010. www.cityofconroe.org

15

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2020

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Class of 2020! Congrats Let’s Celebrate Together While we can’t be together, we can still celebrate together. Visit LoneStar.edu/CongratsGrads to view your campus commencement video. We encourage you to post your graduate photos with the hashtag #LSCGrad2020 so we can celebrate with you and share them on social media.

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