Conroe - Montgomery Edition | June 2021

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

2021 H E A L T H C A R E E D I T I O N

ONLINE AT

VOLUME 7, ISSUE 3  JUNE 18JULY 15, 2021

Businesses, restaurants struggling to find entry-level employees

End of pandemic unemployment payouts coming June 26 may help

THERE’S JOBS UPANDDOWN HWY. 105. ALL OF US IN MONTGOMERY ARE HIRING; WE JUST CANNOT FIND ANYONE. MARISA PHILIPELLO, OWNER OF PHIL’S ROADHOUSE

BY EVA VIGH

Like many cities across the country, “now hiring” signs line the roads of Conroe and Montgomery with some oering incentives such as referral bonuses. Phil’s Roadhouse in Montgomery needs more dish- washers, cooks, servers, cashiers and kitchen sta, owner Marisa Philipello said. Since the pandemic broke in Texas in March 2020, employees have been stretched so thin the diner had to close on Wednes- days for the rst time. And despite oering overtime and time-and-a-half pay, Philipello said she cannot nd enough people to

Many restaurants along Hwy. 105 in Montgomery, such as Pizza Shack, have “now hiring” signs displayed. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

CONTINUED ON 28

Ocials: Widespread countywide vaccinemandates unlikely despite decisions of some employers

CANCOVID19VACCINESBEREQUIRED?

Yes, if businesses follow certain guidelines:

BY EVA VIGH

• The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said federal law does not prevent employers from requiring the vaccination. • Employers must allow certain exemptions such as for religious reasons. • Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-35 prohibits governmental entities and entities receiving state funds from requiring the vaccine under emergency use authorization. It does not mention private employers.

to be vaccinated, although they must provide exceptions such as for religious

COVID-19 vaccinations have been optional but largely encouraged by health care professionals since the rst doses rolled out in Texas in Decem- ber. As of press time June 15, 41% of Montgomery County’s eligible population had been vaccinated. But with vaccines available to all population groups over the age of 12, some employers across the nation are beginning to mandate the vaccine. Legally, private businesses can require employees

beliefs, said Valerie Koch, co-director and assis- tant professor at the Health Law and Policy Insti- tute at the University of Houston Law Center. On March 31, Houston Methodist became the rst major health care system in the nation to require its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and CEO and President Marc Boom CONTINUED ON 24

SOURCES: EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, OFFICE OF GOV. GREG ABBOTT, VALERIE KOCHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

HEALTHCARE EDITION 2021 SPONSORED BY • HoustonMethodist The Woodlands Hospital • Sterling Ridge Orthopaedics & SportsMedicine • Lone Star College

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMCHRISSY: Our annual Health Care Edition is included in this issue beginning on Page 14. As some employers have started to incentivize or require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, we take a closer look into how our local health care systems are approaching this, the county’s commitment to keeping vaccines voluntary and what legal experts say about requiring vaccines for employment. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMANNA: Texas is opting out of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program eective June 26 per Gov. Greg Abbott’s order, ending a $300 supplemental benet unemployed individuals have been receiving. We spoke with several local businesses shared their struggles with lling open positions and having to adapt business practices as a result. Read more on Page 28. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

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BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

IMPACTS

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

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LAKE CONROE

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1097

LEWIS CREEK RESERVOIR

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WILLIS

MONTGOMERY

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LONE STAR PKWY.

Frios Gourmet Pops

830

CAROLINE ST.

MARGARITAVILLE PKWY.

COURTESY FRIOS GOURMET POPS

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COMING SOON 4 Taco Bueno is slated to open in July at 2026 I-45 N., Conroe. The Tex-Mex diner serves items such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, chips, salads, bowls and sweets. www.tacobueno.com 5 Bella Bottega , a collective artist community, will debut at 903 Honea Egypt Road, Magnolia, with the rst studio spaces available in August. Con- struction is expected to begin in June. The space will include nine studios for artists as well as a community space with a kitchen and bathroom for the artists leasing the space to hold workshops or gather. www.facebook.com/claynatomy 6 Conroe’s new hotel and convention center will carry the Hyatt Regency name, city ocials announced in a May 26 city council workshop meeting. The hotel will be located in Grand Central Park at 1001 Grand Central Parkway, Conroe. The project has been discussed since October 2015 but the name of the third-party hotel had not been announced. The hotel will include a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, a convention center, lounge and bar, outdoor dining, a restaurant, a pool and a tness center, and is expected to open in early 2023. www.cityofconroe.org EXPANSIONS 7 As of June 4, Frios Gourmet Pops expanded its hours to noon-7 p.m. Mon- days through Thursdays, noon-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon-5 p.m. on Sundays. Frios oers several popsicle choices, from strawberry mojito fruit pops to ice cream bar avors, such as blueberry cheesecake. Frios will also add outdoor seating with games, including

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EVA ST.

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KEENAN CUT OFF RD.

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GRAND CENTRAL PKWY

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WEST FORK SAN JACINTO RIVER

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NOWOPEN 1 Marco’s Pizza opened a new location in May at 300 W. Davis St., Ste. 4, Con- roe. The location is owned by Brian Lee and his parents, Mike and Somaly Lee, according to a news release from Fishman Public Relations. The Lee family formerly owned the Donut Wheel in Conroe. The menu at Marco’s Pizza in Conroe features a mix of pizzas and salads. Other options include sub sandwiches on a variety of

3 Montgomery Samplers & Stitchin’ , an arts and crafts shop, opened May 15 at 305 Caroline St., Montgomery. The shop specializes in antiques, vintage stitching and sewing items and sells specialty threads and more than 600 overdyed oss colors. Any material not found in the store can be custom ordered and shipped within 10 business days to the customer’s home or the store. 713-398-4566. www.facebook.com/ samplersandstitchin2021

breads and specialty pizza bowls—a crus- tless pie. www.marcos.com 2 Mr. Taco & Tequila Bar opened March 8 at 13080 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 102, Conroe. Mr. Taco sells classic Mexican food such as street tacos with seven available meat choices and fajita plates. The bar oers various tequilas, margari- tas and cocktails. 936-588-4167.

www.facebook.com/mr-taco- tequila-bar-105476948203771

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NOWWITH TWO LOCATIONS!

400 Bryant Road Conroe, TX 77303 281.967.9799 Open Hours Wed, Thur & Sun Noon-6pm Fri & Sat Noon-8pm

336 N. Main Street Ste. 103 Conroe, TX 77301 936.263.2524 Open Hours

Mon-Thur Noon-8pm Fri & Sat Noon - 9pm

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ, BROOKE ONTIVEROS & EVA VIGH

climate-controlled units, according to the release. 936-827-3150 (Lake Conroe), 936-264-4728 (East Conroe). www.montgomeryss.com ANNIVERSARIES 9 Margaritaville Lake Resort —an island-themed vacation destination with four bars, a golf course, a water park, guest suites and cottages—is celebrating its one-year anniversary on Lake Conroe with month-long festivities. All guests who stay during June will receive a keep- sake and interactive passport at check in, according to a news release. Margar- itaville is located at 600 Margaritaville Parkway, Montgomery. 877-286-9590. www.margaritavilleresorts.com/ margaritaville-lake-resort-lake-conroe CLOSINGS 10 Amore Bistro , located on 17099 Walden Road, Montgomery, closed June 7 and is consolidating with the Amore Fine Dining and Spirits restaurant, located at 14860 Hwy. 105, Montgomery. Amore Bistro was an intimate, smaller venue, while the location on Hwy. 105 is larger and more upscale, according to a compa- ny Facebook post. The restaurant serves authentic Italian foods. 936-582-1053. www.amorenedining.com

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Montgomery Self Storage

COURTESY MONTGOMERY SELF STORAGE

Connect Four and bean bag tosses, for children to enjoy this summer. Frios Gourmet Pops is located at 15885 Hwy. 105, Ste. 3, Montgomery. 936-522-6109. www.friospops.com NEWOWNERSHIP 8 Montgomery Self Storage acquired My Storage Locker Conroe at 14545 Hwy. 105 W., Unit B., Conroe, the business announced in a June 4 news release. Montgomery Self Storage-Lake Conroe has received upgraded surveillance features, bright exterior lighting and new signage. Storage options include climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled storage units, according to the release, as well as parking for boats and recreational vehicles. Montgomery Self Storage has six locations currently. Its location at 17631 Hwy. 105 E., Conroe, is also slated to break ground on an additional 20,000 square feet of

The Table at Madeley will feature a variety of food trucks and live music.

COURTESY THE TABLE AT MADELEY

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON The Table at Madeley , Conroe’s rst food truck park, held a groundbreaking June 15 at 316 Madeley St. The park will open around December and will feature a variety of foods, including local brews, wines and soft drinks as well as live music. The Table at Madeley was envisioned by Frank and Bel Jackson. The couple had been looking to purchase property and eventually found the spot in 2018. The property was an “eyesore,” and lled with trash, an original 1940’s

house, two trailer homes and another small house, according to the park website. The cleanup included demolishing the houses and leaving just land and trees. www.conroetable.com

D A V I S S T .

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES County commissioners expect thoroughfare plan update in July

COMPILED BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN & ANNA LOTZ

PROJECT UPDATES

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BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

in a statement. “Getting an idea of future projects helps us make sure we are getting the roads where people are going and improve the ow of trac.” The county is working with rm Brown and Gay Engineers Inc. to update the plan. According to a news release from Noack’s oce, the updated plan will incorporate ndings from mobility studies in precincts 2-4. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley has been working with the Houston-Galveston Area Council on a mobility study for Precinct 2 since September, which is anticipated to wrap up in March or April 2022. Following the public comments gathered in June on the county’s thoroughfare update, the plan will be presented to the Commission- ers Court for nal approval in July.

2B

STUDYTIMELINE Discussions about the updated thoroughfare plan have been taking place since late April. Current plan presented to Montgomery County Commissioners Court April 27 Precinct 3 interactive virtual map and presentation website goes live May 25

Montgomery County ocials sought community feedback through mid-June on an update to the county’s thoroughfare plan, which updates the previous plan from 2016. According to information from Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack’s oce, which organized a virtual meeting room to collect provide a map of proposed and existing thoroughfares and col- lector roads throughout the four precincts in Montgomery County. The study helps the county identify trac ow patterns and predict future growth. “This update is important due public feedback through June 11, the new plan will to the fact that our area is growing and no one likes trac,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker said

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ANDERSON RD.

FM 1097 widening to Blueberry Hills Road A third section of FM 1097 in Willis is slated to go out for a construction bid in August, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The project would widen the road to four lanes between Lake Conroe Hills Drive and west of Blueberry Hills Road. A construction timeline is yet to be determined. Timeline: TBD Cost: $15.39 million Funding source: TxDOT FM 1097 widening, I-45 to Lake Conroe Hills TxDOT continues its widening projects on two seg- ments of FM 1097 in Willis. The segment from I-45 to Anderson Road was 87% complete as of June 8. The segment from Anderson Road to Lake Conroe Hills Drive was 13% complete as of June 8. The two projects widen the stretches of road from two to four lanes with a continuous left-turn lane. Timeline: fourth quarter 2018-third quarter 2021 (A); Feb. 2, 2021-fourth quarter 2023 (B) 1 2 2A 2B

Public feedback and comment period ends June 11

July 2021

Final presentation will be given to Montgomery County Commissioners Court

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Cost: $15.71 million (A), $14.69 million (B) Funding sources: TxDOT, federal funds

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.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Conroemusic festival in theworks

THINGS TODO

In-person events are returning to the Conroe and Montgomery area.

BY EVA VIGH

$1.1 million. There is also a clause in the agree- ment in case of a natural disaster and the event needs to be canceled. “Should there be, God forbid, another pandemic or something would happen, we would be able to be fully refunded,” Overby said. FUNDING THE FESTIVITIES Conroe’s new music festival is estimated to draw thousands of guests.

JUNE 24 THE PULSE SERIES-STATE OF THE STATE Hosted by the Conroe-Lake Conroe Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee, this luncheon is an update on the Texas legislative session for 2021. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $30. 936- 756-6644. www.conroe.org JULY 03 FREEDOM FEST Montgomery’s annual Freedom Fest to celebrate independence includes a parade, barbecue, baking contest, a kids zone, vendors and food trucks. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Montgomery Community Building, 14420 Liberty St., Montgomery. 936- 597-5004. www.facebook.com/ freedomfestmontgomery 03 PATRIOTIC CONCERT The Conroe Symphony Orchestra, led by new conductor

Anna-Maria Gkouni, will perform a repertoire of songs such as “America, the Beautiful” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.” 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Heritage Place, 500 Collins St., Conroe. 936-760-2144. Bring a noodle and relax in the pool while watching Disney’s “Aladdin.” Popcorn and Root beer provided. 7:30 p.m. $5. 100 Park Place, Conroe. 936-522-3930. www.cityofconroe.org 23 THROUGH JULY 25 COMIC CONROE www.conroesymphony.org 09 FLICK AND FLOAT Galactic Events is hosting its first comic book convention with plans to expand in future years to include anime and pop culture conventions across the Houston area. An after party at Southern Start Brewery is scheduled July 24. noon-9 p.m. (July 23), 9 a.m.-8p.m. (July 24), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (July 25). $15-$120. Lone Star Convention Center, 9055 Airport Road, Conroe. www.comicconroe.com

The city of Conroe is in the process of launching a new music festival, slated for April 2022. At a City Council workshop May 12, Director of Visit Conroe Shannon Overby provided an update on the project, asking for the approval of $80,000 in expenditures from the city. The project has been in the works for several years and is being done in part- nership with Open Sky Media, a music festival developer and promoter, and would be managed by the Texas Music Magazine staff. The four-day festival would include more than 30 bands and 40 shows across multiple venues and pop-ups, targeting between 8,000- 10,000 people over the four days. The cost to market and promote the event is $80,000; $40,000 would be from this fiscal year’s budget and $40,000 for next. The estimated economic impact, which accounts for factors like the number of expected attendees, average cost of tickets and lodging, to Conroe is

Date: APRIL 22

City expenditures: $80,000

Estimated economic effect:

$1.1 MILLION

Submit local events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

SOURCE: CITY OF CONROE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

DEVELOPMENT Miracle City, community for the homeless, eyes 5-year build-out

will work a job on-site in lieu of paying rent, Redus said. The mentors are volunteers, but once vocational training is added, those positions will likely be paid sta. The rst phase of the project is the creation of the empowerment center and day center. Both centers will be steel buildings, or premanufactured metal buildings. All the permits were nalized in December, and land clearing began in February. The rst building is estimated to be on-site July 1, and the second building will likely be completed within the next 18 months. As of mid-June, the building pad

was about to begin construction after some delays due to rain, and an environmental study was underway for the second building. Compassion United has so far raised $900,000 in addition to a $1.25 million grant awarded by Montgomery County Community Development. When asked about potential concerns from nearby residents, Redus said some had voiced worries about living next to the community. However, he said after meeting with residents and discussing the project, they have been mostly accepting. Hannah Zedaker contributed to this report.

BY EVA VIGH

The transitional houses will feature communal living with each house holding 16 people. There will be one house for men, one for women and one for women in crisis. Individuals who participate in the transition program are assigned a mentor and attend classes related to nancial, spiritual and mental health. Long-term supportive housing will comprise duplexes, and individuals

Five acres of wooded land on Foster Drive in Conroe have been cleared for Miracle City, a community serving people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County. According to the 2021 Homeless Count & Survey, which was released March 24, there were 102 homeless individuals in Montgom- ery County. One in 7 in the Greater Houston area claimed their homeless- ness was a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The project, which was spear- headed by Compassion United, a local support ministry, broke ground in October and may be fully built out in the next four or ve years, Com- passion United Executive Director Luke Redus said. When complete, the community will provide housing, a dining hall, a church, a clothing closet, a day center and an empowerment center to support individuals transitioning out of homelessness, poverty and addiction. It will also provide voca- tional and life skills classes, such as a carpentry shop. “[They can] build storage sheds, tiny homes,” Redus said. “We are teaching them skills but also creating a product that can be sold.” There will be two types of housing: transitional housing for people who can go through the program and move into independent living within 12-18 months and long-term supportive housing for people who will take longer to transition or may never be able to live independently, Redus said.

THE VISION When fully built out, Miracle City will provide housing and other support for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, poverty and addiction.

MIRACLE CITY

1

2

Day center

1

10

2 Dining hall

4

3 Tiny-house village

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4 Crisis pregnancy home

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5

5 Women’s transition home 6 Men’s transition home 7 Empowerment center and career training

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8 Carpentry and body shop

9 Food pantry, clothes closet and market 10 Food truck park,

playground and movies

SOURCE: COMPASSION UNITED COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NEWS BRIEFS

Gov. Abbott signs bills to reformERCOT, weatherize Texas power grid following storm

BY TRENT THOMPSON

can result in penalties of up to $1 million [per day of noncompliance],” Abbott said. “The power grid integrity is also improved to prevent essential power-generating transmission facilities from being shut down by ERCOT like what happened during the storm.” Under SB 3, the Public Utilities Commission and the Railroad Commission of Texas are tasked with weatherizing infrastructure for all seasons of the year, said state Sen. Charles Schwertner, RGeorge- town, who authored the bill, at the press conference. “They will put in place appropriate weatherization as they see t depending upon the location of the facility, whether you’re in the Panhandle or in South Texas, or whether or not you’re [in] a certain type of generation of facility or another,” Schwertner said. The bill also improves communication among state agencies and the public. A power outage alert

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 into law June 8, ocially establishing sweeping reforms of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the weatherization of state power generation facilities, eective Sept. 1. The bills are designed to prevent another extreme weather event from shutting down the Texas power grid like during the severe winter storm in February. The storm left millions of houses without power for days and killed an estimated 150 Texas residents, according to a report from the Texas Department of State Health Services updated June 2. Additionally, these bills create greater account- ability within the power system, Abbott said during a press conference. “The Railroad Commission and ERCOT now must inspect power facilities, and failure to weatherize

Gov. Greg Abbott (center) signed Senate bills 2 and 3 into law June 8 in response to the winter storm in February.

systemwill notify the public in the event state power supply becomes inadequate to meet demand. In the same token, SB 2 focuses on reforming ERCOT board leadership. A selection committee will appoint eight of the board members, and all members must be residents of Texas. “There is no one sitting or standing here that does not remember that week,” said state Sen. Kelly Hancock, RDallas. “We don’t want anyone to go through that again.”

Conroe ISDputs virtual school on hold after state bill fails

LoneStar Collegeannounces 3 learningoptions for this fall

PLANS FORA VIRTUAL SCHOOL INCISDHAVEBEEN PUT ONHOLD.”

BY VANESSA HOLT

this allowed school districts to receive funding from the state for students who were attending virtually. HB

Conroe ISD began making plans for a possible virtual school this spring, including hiring a prin- cipal, but those plans are on hold after a piece of legislation did not pass at the state level. Texas House Bill 1468, which would have funded the program, did not pass in the 87th Texas Legislature, which ended May 31. “... plans for a virtual school in CISD have been put on hold,” CISD Director of Communications Sarah Blakeloch wrote in an email. “Updates will be shared as information becomes available.” During the 2020-21 school year, the Texas Education Agency counted virtual attendance, known as remote synchronous attendance, as if students were attending school in person. As a school district’s funding is tied to attendance,

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

Lone Star College announced plans to reopen its campuses and expand in-person oerings for students for the fall semester. According to a June 8 news release, students can choose from in-person classes, online classes, and hybrid classes that combine in person and online. “We know the last year put a serious strain on our students, faculty and sta,” LSC Chancellor Stephen Head said in the release. “Lone Star Col- lege has worked hard to ensure we provide a safe and friendly environment as we welcome everyone back to our campuses.” LSC will no longer require masks on campus but encourages social distancing and vaccination.

SARAH BLAKELOCH, CISD DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

1468 would have continued this practice of allow- ing virtual attendance to be counted for funding, but it did not pass. Without this bill’s passage, the district will not be receiving that funding for virtual students in the 2021-22 school year. CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said in an April 23 livestream that virtual schooling was dependent on if the state would allow it. Brooke Sjoberg contributed to this report.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

NEWS BRIEFS Montgomery County unveils next cold case in new initiative

County considers newvotingmachines

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

elections that are scheduled for 2022 would make implementing a new system difficult, and mixing the old system with a new system is not compatible. The county used around 1,500 vot- ing machines in November. Harvey said the extra 400 would make up for the elections office being spread thin. No decision was made as the item was deferred to give commissioners more time to go over the information presented.

The Montgomery County Com- missioners Court started discussions to purchase around 1,900 new voting machines to replace outdated ones for county elections. Elections Administrator Suzie Harvey said newmachines are needed because the current machines were purchased in 2005, and getting replacement parts is difficult. The cost for replacing the machines is estimated between $8.5 million- $9 million. The cost would cover the hardware and software needed to create the election database and program all of the machines. “As it stands now, we were spread very thin for the November election as far as equipment,” Harvey said. “Especially when we added the ear- ly-voting locations that we needed, that spread our standby equipment even further. ... We are just at bare bones for another full-scale election like that.” Harvey added the number of

BY EVA VIGH

morning, her husband left to run errands with friends.

Multi-County Crime Stoppers and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office have unveiled the next cold case they are featuring in their Cold Case Warm Up initiative: the 2015 disappearance of Magnolia resident Danielle Sleeper. Cold Case Warm Up is a public initiative launched in February that aims to solicit leads for unsolved county crimes. Cold cases are featured on billboards throughout the Greater Houston area alongside contact details for anyone wishing to submit tips. According to a news release from Multi-County Crime Stoppers, 32-year-old Sleeper attended a bar- becue off Bowler Road near FM 1488 on the evening of March 21, 2015. Her husband stated they arrived at their home in Magnolia and went to sleep early March 22. Later that

When he returned that afternoon, Sleeper, her purse and her cell phone were missing.

Sleeper is described as a Caucasian female, 5’7” and 120 pounds with dark brown hair and hazel eyes. COURTESY MULTI-COUNTY CRIME STOPPERS

AGING EQUIPMENT Montgomery County officials discussed the need for new voting machines at a May 25 meeting.

Anyone with related information can contact Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 800-392-7867 or www.montgomerycountycrime stoppers.org. There is a reward of up to $21,000 for information leading to the felony arrest of any person related to Sleeper’s disappearance thanks to an anonymous donation. The increased reward is being offered for the next 12 months.

Current machines in use:

1,500

Machines needed:

1,900

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Cost: $8.5M-$9M

12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Lone Star College Small Business Development Center to be dissolved

Lone Star College spring graduations up 5%from2020

BY EMILY JAROSZEWSKI

AIDING BUSINESSES

The Lone Star College Small Business Development Center will be dissolved July 31, but the SBDC will continue to provide its services to businesses in the Montgomery County and North Houston area, according to Steve Lawrence, executive director for the Texas Gulf Coast Network. “Despite the fact that we’re going to kind of go our separate paths, the SBDC services are all available and fully available to the small businesses, and they’ll continue to be so,” Lawrence said. The SBDC helped business owners adapt to new online business models amid the COVID-19 pandemic and provided additional marketing services, said Kyle Scott, Lone Star College vice chancellor of strategic priorities. “You need a business plan; you need to figure out your target market; you need to know how to identify the lease space or rent space to go through those contracts; ‘how do I get a loan from the bank?’” Scott said. “And [Lone Star College’s SBDC] pro- vides you with all of those services.” LSC has partnered with the SBDC for over 35 years and serves 800- 1,000 clients annually, Lawrence said. In the Houston area, there are 32 SBDCs that abide by an act of Con- gress known as the Small Business Development Center Act, according

BY EMILY JAROSZEWSKI

Although the Lone Star College Small Business Development Center will dissolve this summer, businesses can still receive services via nearby partners, such as the University of Houston and Sam Houston State University. The Lone Star College SBDC will dissolve JULY 31.

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Bachelor’s degrees awarded Among the 9,295 graduates at Lone Star College System this spring, the college awarded its first bachelor’s degrees. Officials said out of about 1,100 community colleges nationwide, LSCS ranked second in awarding associate degrees in 2018-19, the latest available data. • Bachelor of Science in nursing • Bachelor of Applied Technology in cybersecurity • Bachelor of Applied Science in energy, manufacturing and trades management SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Degrees available: • Bachelor of Arts Lone Star College System saw a 5% increase in total graduates at its spring commencement compared to 2020, according to a release. “Despite the COVID-19 pan- demic, the winter storm and the general disruptions in their lives, Lone Star College students were able to remain focused and accomplish something that will change their lives for the better,” LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said in the release. Additionally, LSCS awarded bachelor’s degrees for the first time.

LSC has partnered with the SBDC for more than 35 YEARS.

The center has serviced 800-1,000 CLIENTS annually in the Montgomery County and North Houston area. SOURCES: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM, TEXAS GULF COAST NETWORK/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

withdrawal. Hardman said he believes the subsidence factor is not applicable to Montgomery County. He also said the county has limited subsidence monitoring equipment, and most of the equipment is located in the south of the county, which is experiencing more subsidence because of pumping fromHarris County. “Our metric would be artificially skewed higher and artificially restrict us in the future,” he said. “Think of an aquifer as a bathtub with a piece of string sitting over the center of it rep- resenting a county line. If you start to to Lawrence. SBDC programs within Texas are partially funded by state and federal dollars. After July 31, the University of Hous- ton, SamHouston State University and other nearby partners will split the Lone Star College SBDC services. “The Lone Star College team, the people who we’ve been working with for the last 35 years, as we get towards the end of July, they’ll tran- sition their clients to [other SBDCs],” he said. Businesses interested in receiving services from the SBDC can visit www.sbdc.uh.edu.

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LSGCD asks county commissioners to adopt resolution At the May 25 commissioners court meeting, Harry Hardman, president of the Lone Star Groundwater Conser- vation District, asked Montgomery remove water from one side, water on the other side goes down because aquifers don’t know or respect county lines.” BY EVA VIGH

However, many residents and stakeholders, particularly in The Woodlands, have pleaded with the LSGCD to keep a subsidence met- ric. Residents have cited property damage from shifting ground levels, and data from the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District shows subsidence occurring. Commissioners did not comment as to a resolution.

County commissioners to adopt a resolution supporting desired future conditions—or long-term goals—for the region’s aquifer system that excludes a subsidence metric. The LSGCD is the entity that regulates groundwater in Montgom- ery County, and subsidence is the gradual sinking of the earth that can be caused by excessive groundwater

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13

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

H E A L T H C A R E E D I T I O N 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER IS PROUD TO SAY THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

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Lone Star College is working to meet the demand for highly-trained health care professionals in our community. From workforce certications and associate degrees, to bachelor’s degrees, LSC oers essential health care programs that prepare students for rewarding careers. Learn more at LoneStar.edu.

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Sterling Ridge Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is your neighborhood health care provider for orthopedic, neurology, and rehabilitation needs in Woodforest, Conroe, Montgomery, The Woodlands, and Spring/Klein communities. Our services include sports fellowship trained physicians, neurology, physical and aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, bracing and casting, X-ray, and pharmacy. The passion for orthopedic excellence, injury prevention, and patient-centered care led the doctors at sterling ridge orthopaedics & sports medicine to create an atmosphere of excellence in everything we do. Making sure we treat patients the same way we would want to be treated is one of the practice’s founding principles created by Dr. William M. Hayes and Dr. Keith W. V. Johnson. We oer timely appointments at our three convenient locations in Woodforest, The Woodlands, and Spring.

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14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

HEALTH CARE SNAPSHOT

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

COMPARING COUNTY HEALTH These rankings are updated annually but include data from previous years. There are other factors included that are not listed below.

COMBATING COVID19

A higher percentage of Harris County residents have been vaccinated than the statewide amount, while Montgomery County falls about 4 percentage points below the state. More than half of Montgomery County residents ages 12 and older have received at least one dose. Data is as of June 15.

Active cases total just over 1% of all conrmed cases in Montgomery and Harris counties. COUNTY CASES

COUNTYVACCINATIONS

MONTGOMERY COUNTY HARRIS COUNTY

PEOPLE AGE 12+ WITH AT LEAST ONE DOSE

2.22 million - 57.36% 259,311 - 51.55%

WALLER COUNTY

Active 891 598 Deaths

17,578 - 37.77%

Total 53,036*

Statewide 13.27 million - 55.14%

29,305 Recoveries

PEOPLE AGE 12+ FULLY VACCINATED

Active 3,742 6,513 Deaths

N

208,573 - 41.46% 1.81 million - 46.83% 14,404 - 30.95%

Total 403,188

HEALTH OUTCOMES INCLUDE:

394,683 Recoveries

• LENGTHOF LIFE • QUALITYOF LIFE , such as the number of poor mental and physical health days reported

11 million - 45.72%

HEALTH FACTORS INCLUDE:

Statewide

Active 11 50 Deaths

• HEALTHBEHAVIORS , such as smoking, obesity, physical activity, excessive drinking, alcohol- impaired driving deaths, sexually transmitted infections and teen births • CLINICAL CARE , including health insurance coverage; number of physicians, dentists and mental health providers; preventable hospital stays; and u vaccinations • SOCIOECONOMIC FACTORS , such as educational attainment levels, children in poverty, income inequality and violent crimes • PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT FACTORS , such as air pollution, drinking water violations, housing problems and long commutes

VACCINATION DEMOGRAPHICS

Total 4,148

4.1% 9.1% 2.9% 4% 10.8% 13.6% 20.6% 33.3% 24.2% 55.6% 30.2% 45.9% 9.9% 10.6% 8.7% 5.8% 6.2% 4.7% 44.6% 51.7% 40.1% 27.4% 26.6% 30.5% 21.9% 16.6% 23.7% 5.2% 3.9% 5.1% 1% 1.2% 0.5%

Asian

Black

4,087 Recoveries

White Hispanic

*Total includes approximately 22,000 cases deemed "inactive" by Montgomery County, meaning the public health district has been unable to reach these individuals for 30 days or more.

Other

Unknown

CASES BY ZIP CODE

AGE BREAKDOWN

12-15

2021 STATEWIDE HEALTH CARE RANKINGS OUT OF 243 COUNTIES

77318

77356

16-49 50-64 80+ 65-79

77301

45

HEALTH OUTCOMES

77303

105

9 30 34 18 30 24 8 69 95

Length of life Overall

33716

77306

Quality of life HEALTH FACTORS

77304

VACCINATIONS BY ZIP CODE

77302

N

Overall

24 90 155 13 15 133 35 61 191 28 160 110 238 241 208

PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION FULLY VACCINATED

ZIP code 77301 has seen the greatest number of COVID-19 cases, totaling about 12.5% of residents.

Health behaviors

4,274 1,748 1,666 3,439 1,276 2,451 1,360 2,562

77301 77302 77303 77304 77306 77318 77316 77356

77301 77302 77303 77304 77306 77318 77316 77356

24.64% 26.83% 20.84% 34.46% 19.35% 33.52% 30.24% 46.29%

Socioeconomic Physical environment Clinical care

SOURCES: ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN POPULATION HEALTH INSTITUTE, COUNTYHEALTHRANKINGS.ORG, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, MONTGOMERY COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • JUNE 2021

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