Tomball - Magnolia Edition | February 2021

TOMBALL MAGNOLIA EDITION

VOLUME 11, ISSUE 4  FEB. 27MARCH 26, 2021

ONLINE AT

Montgomery County pursues newcourt to reduce caseloads

PARKACTIVITY

of the Tomball Business & Technology Park has been sold.

69%

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved pursuing the addition of a new county court at law in late January to lower the average case- load per judge and prevent the court system from becoming overwhelmed. The proposal for adding two courts was originally presented to the county commissioners Jan. 12. At the meeting, Court Administration Director Chad CONTINUED ON 26

About 29 ACRES remain available in the park.

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CASE OVERLOAD

Montgomery County has not added a court at law since 2007, and each of its ve courts now sees nearly 3,500 cases annually.

Several companies are moving into the Tomball Business & Technology Park, including a new brewery and restaurant opening in late 2021, said Kelly Violette, executive director of the Tomball Economic Development Corp.

ANNA LOTZCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Commercial, industrial growth in city of Tomball to create nearly 450 jobs, $4.7Mnet benet in 10years

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

2007 Last court added

5

Total courts at law

BY ANNA LOTZ

impacted industrial and commercial users in the region,” said Kelly Violette, executive director of the Tomball Economic Development Corp., in a Feb. 1 email. “Some have put expansion plans on hold, while others have been absorbed by other companies that are looking for an opportunity to bring services in-house and reduce costs. Over- all, we have continued to experience tremendous growth in industrial and commercial develop- ments in Tomball.” CONTINUED ON 24

A new brewery that broke ground in Febru- ary and an upcoming sports complex are just two examples of companies eyeing a move to Tomball or expanding their footprint in the city. This comes at the same time the former BJ Ser- vices campus in Tomball—once housing about 800 employees—lies nearly vacant following the oil and gas company’s bankruptcy announcement in July. “The [COVID-19] pandemic and continued challenges in the oil and gas sector have certainly

Total cases in Fiscal Year 2019

Average cases per court

17,381

3,476

“MYCOURTHADOVER4,000CASE FILINGS LASTYEAR.WEAREATTHE FLOODINGPOINT.” CLAUDIA LAIRD, COURT AT LAW 2 JUDGE

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Winter weather brings power outages

IMPACTS

WEATHER

SUBSTITUTE DEMAND UP

TOP SUSHI TOMBALL

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TOMBALL - MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

Powered by my heart. Imagine, just for a minute, all those things in life you treasure: expressing love for family, those daily interactions at work, and the one-of-a-kind moments of absolute happiness you really can’t describe. Now, imagine life without them. That’s how important your heart is. We know it too. And we want to help your heart to keep powering what you treasure most. Whatever those moments might be.

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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: As Tomball continues to grow, more developers and commercial industries are building, relocating and expanding here. Our lead story touches on the recent and upcoming industrial and commercial projects taking place in the Greater Tomball area. Read about the economic impact this growth is poised to have in the community along with why corporate leaders have their eyes on Tomball. 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: A week we hoped would bring the magic of snowfall instead brought lengthy power outages and signicant water challenges to our communities. As our communities and state continue recovering from sustained damages, we will be asking questions from our ocials on why this happened and how entities will better prepare for the future. More coverage will be included in our March edition. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

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

WHATWE COVER

CORRECTION: Volume 11, Issue 3 The story on pages 26-27 incorrectly referred to the master-planned community underway as Audubon Magnolia. The community is known as Audubon. Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the latest headlines direct to your inbox. communityimpact.com/newsletter DAILY INBOX Visit our website for free access to the latest news, photos and infographics about your community and nearby cities. communityimpact.com LIVE UPDATES

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Anna Lotz REPORTERS Adriana Rezal, Eva Vigh GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ethan Pham ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE April Haplin METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens

BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

TRANSPORTATION &DEVELOPMENT Regular updates on area projects to keep you in the know

CITY & COUNTY GOVERNMENT We attend area meetings to keep you informed

ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Aubrey Galloway CORPORATE LEADERSHIP GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES &MARKETING DIRECTOR Tess Coverman CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES tomnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2021 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

IMPACTS

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

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Ostioneria Michoacan

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1488 near the Kroger at the intersection of FM 2978, Chipotle representatives said. Additional information could not yet be shared about the new location. The fast-casual chain oers made-to-order burritos, bowls, salads and tacos as well as sides and kids meals. www.chipotle.com 5 Japanese restaurant Yokohamaya is slated to open a new location in Tomball in mid- to late March, owner Jian Fang said. Located at 14257 FM 2920, Tomball, the eatery oers a selection of Japanese foods such as takoyaki, gyoza and sushi. 832-698-1827. www.yokohamayatx.com/ tomball 6 NewQuest Properties is wrapping up construction on The Shops at Rock Creek , located at 14123 Grant Road, Cypress, near the Spring Cypress Road intersection. O- cials said Wingstop and Domino’s Pizza are the newest tenants conrmed. According to a press release, Wingstop, Domino’s, and other service and medical tenants anticipate opening in early summer. Con- struction has also started on Mudslingers, a drive-thru coee shop, which is located on the same property. www.newquest.com 7 A Regions Bank branch location is expected to open in Magnolia this summer, according to public relations specialist Kim Borges. Set to be located on FM 1488 near FM 2978, Regions Bank oers banking services such as credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts. www.regions.com 8 A Chevron gas station and Marco’s Pizza location is slated to open at 32725 FM 2978, Magnolia, according to Marco’s Pizza franchise owner Keith Sizemore. Construction for the location broke

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ELDRIDGE PKWY.

NOWOPEN 1 Mexican seafood restaurant

2 Lone Star Cheladas opened at 28303 Dobbin-Husmith Road, Magnolia, on Nov. 27, owner Ramiro Rodriguez said. The eatery’s menu includes food items such as wings, seafood baskets and tacos. Lone Star Cheladas also oers drinks, daiquiris and micheladas, a Mexican beer cocktail. 832-521-3175. www.facebook.com/ lone-star-cheladas-107999231153158

Tomball, on Jan. 18, according to the rm’s legal assistant Kristan Eaton. Owned by her husband, Travis Eaton, the family law rm deals with cases related to divorce, child custody and child support. 281-969-4860. www.eatonfamilylawgroup.com COMING SOON 4 Chipotle Mexican Grill will open a new location in Magnolia this spring on FM

Ostioneria Michoacan was slated to open a Tomball location at 28109 Business 249 in late February. The eatery oers a selection of seafood plates, such as grilled salmon and blackened tilapia with shrimp and red snapper. In addition to seafood items, Ostioneria Michoacan also oers a kids menu and a bar. 346-808-5919. www.ostioneriamichoacan.net

3 The Eaton Law Firm opened at 17146 N. Eldridge Parkway, Ste. B,

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & ADRIANA REZAL

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Chipotle Mexican Grill

FM 1488 Animal Medical Center

Wunsche Brothers Cafe & Saloon reopened in Old Town Spring on Feb. 1 after being closed since 2015 due to a re.

COURTESY CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL

COURTESY FM 1488 ANIMAL MEDICAL CENTER

COURTESY WUNSCHE BROTHERS CAFE & SALOON

ground in mid-January and is slated to be completed for the gas station in June. According to Sizemore, the Marco’s Pizza location is expected to open by Septem- ber. Marco’s Pizza oers pizzas, salads and side dishes. www.marcos.com 9 Local business owner Theresa Pham will launch Life in Rose-Farm & Garden this summer in Magnolia. Located o FM 2920 near the Showboat Drive-In theater, the facility will sit on a 10-acre property and oer a rose garden for cuttings in addition to a fruit orchard and herb and vegetable garden. Pham said the business will oer oral-arranging workshops and high-tea events at the site’s greenhouse. www.facebook.com/lifeinrosefarm RELOCATIONS 10 Local food stall Hot Dogs Express Magnolia began operating out of Kitty’s Cafe at 18904 FM 1488, Magnolia, in mid-January, according to stall owner Fernando Moreno. The food stall special- izes in bacon-wrapped hot dogs and oers Mexican street food, including tacos al pastor, quesadillas and Mex- ican-style burgers. It was previously located in the Willowbrook area. 832-887-1341. www.facebook.com/ hotdogsexpressmagnolia 11 Nonprot organization Texas Litter Control oers low-cost veterinary ser- vices in Tomball following a move from Magnolia, according to a Feb. 2 press release. Now located at the Four Corners Shopping Center at 28439 Hwy. 249, Ste. AB, Tomball, Texas Litter Control oers various services, such as spay and neuter services for pets, veterinarian exams, heartworm treatment and pet vaccina-

tions. In addition to veterinary care, the organization provides public education and outreach, pet adoption opportunities and shelter support programs. 281-528- 1238. www.texaslittercontrol.org. 12 Tomball native Amy Bench will relo- cate her boutique The Purple Palm from Matagorda to Main Street in Tomball. Bench said the boutique will be renamed Ultra Violet and is slated to open in early to mid-March. Set to be located at 409 W. Main St., Tomball, the women’s boutique will oer retail items such as clothing, shoes and housewares. 281- 665-9200. www.facebook.com/ 13 FM 1488 Animal Medical Center , located at 7002 FM 1488, Magnolia, will celebrate 15 years of business April 3. Owned by Dr. Jess Jerey, the center of- fers full-service veterinary care for dogs and cats. 281-259-8806. www.1488amc.com 14 The Montgomery County Commu- nity Assistance Center is celebrating 40 years as a nonprot, social service agency for county residents, according to a Feb. 4 news release. In 2020, the center located at 1022 McCall Ave, Conroe, served 39,347 individuals by assisting with expenses such as rent and mortgage, food and utility assistance, and it distributed groceries to more than 29,000 county residents. 936-539-1096. https://cac-mctx.org NEWOWNERSHIP 15 Paint & Bubbles Studio underwent a thepurplepalmmatagorda ANNIVERSARIES

REGIONAL IMPACT NOWOPEN After years of construction, Wunsche Brothers Cafe & Saloon reopened its doors Feb. 1 at 103 Midway St., Spring. The Old Town Spring staple had been closed for renovations for nearly six years following a re in 2015. The historic building rst opened in 1902 and changed ownership and names multiple times over the years until a re broke out in March 2015, causing signicant damage to the building and forcing its closure. According to its menu, the eatery serves American fare ranging from burgers and sandwiches to smoked chicken and pulled pork, chicken fried steak and fried catsh. Beer bread—a Wunsche Brothers staple—has also made its return and is available in half and full loaves. Southern sides, such as mac and cheese and squash casserole, change in ownership Dec. 1, according to new business owner Katie Lindsay. Locat- ed at 31311 FM 2978, Ste. 107, Magnolia, the business oers art classes, workshops and camps for children and adults in the Magnolia, The Woodlands, Conroe and Spring areas. 346-703-2141. www.paintandbubbles.com IN THE NEWS 16 The Texas Renaissance Festival announced a new general manager Jan. 11

as well as desserts, such as chocolate whiskey cake, are also on the menu. Wunsche Brothers Cafe& Saloon 103 Midway St., Spring 281-350-2233 www.facebook.com/wunsche- brothers-127827977291970 Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m

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following the festival’s 46th season. Pat- rick Coveney—the festival’s former direc- tor of operations in 2020—was promoted to general manager. He succeeds Joseph Bailey, who joined the festival as general manager in February 2019, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. The Texas Renaissance Festival, which welcomes more than 400,000 guests annually, plans to return for its 47th fes- tival season Oct. 9-Nov. 28, according to information from the festival. It is located at 21778 FM 1774, Todd Mission. 800-458-3435. www.texrenfest.com

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TODO LIST

March events

COMPILED BY ADRIANA REZAL

WORTH THE TRIP

MARCH 13 BROWSE SMALLBUSINESS VENDORS TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries will host a fundraising event featuring small-business vendors. The fair will include local arts, craft and food vendors. The vendor deadline to register is 5 p.m. Feb. 27. Registration can be completed online. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free admission. TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries parking lot, 455 School St., Ste. 30, Tomball. 281-357-0747. www.tomagwa.org 14 THROUGH 21 ENJOY SPRING BREAK Participants ages 12 and older can participate in the virtual Spring Break Bioblitz. Participants can log their scientic observations while exploring at the Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve just south of Tomball. Details and worksheets will be emailed the week prior to the event. Online registration is recommended. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Free to participate. Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve, 20215 Chasewood Park Dr., Houston. 713-755-6444. www.hcp4.net 15 THROUGH 19 ATTENDA SPRING BREAK DAY CAMP Texas Star Gymnastics will hold a day program for children ages 3-12 during spring break. Participants can spend time on trampolines, tumble tracks and in the loose-foam pit. 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. $30- $40 per day. Texas Star Gymnastics, 1230 Ulrich Road, Tomball. 281-255-9997. www.texasstargymnastics.net 23 PARTICIPATE IN A VIRTUAL FUNDRAISER Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries hosts its fourth annual TEAM Up! The Power of Community fundraiser. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the event will take place as a virtual email fundraiser. H-E-B President Scott McClelland will be featured as a keynote speaker for the event. The fundraiser has a goal of raising $150,000 for the nonprot. For more information, contact

MAR. 1314

CLEANUP TRASH MAGNOLIA

karen.guiles@teamtomball.com. Donations accepted. 281-351-6700. www.teamtomball.com 27 ENJOY A SPRING MARKET IN MAGNOLIA The Greater Magnolia Parkway Chamber of Commerce will host its Spring Fest Market Magnolia Strong 2021 at the Magnolia Event Center. In addition to craft and artisan vendors, the market will also feature an e-waste recycling and pickup event, a “Smooch the Pooch” booth by Abandoned Animal Rescue, and photo opportunities with the Easter bunny and a bunny patch. An egg hunt event will also be held. Noon-4 p.m. $1 entry. 11659 FM 1488, Magnolia. 281-356-1488. www.greatermagnoliaparkwaycc.org Precinct 2 hosts a heavy-trash cleanup day for residents. Free shredding services will be available, while disposal of household chemical waste is $10 per gallon. Find a list of accepted items online. Proof of residency is required. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (March 13), 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (March 14). 31355 Friendship Drive, Magnolia. 281-259-6492. www.commprecinct2.org

COURTESY CYFAIR HOME AND OUTDOOR LIVING SHOW

March 27 through 28 Attend a home, outdoor living show The show features home and garden exhibitors, color and design consultations from home improvement experts, a plant sale, food demonstrations, DIY workshops and food trucks. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (Sat.), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sun.). $5 (adult admission), free (age 12 and younger). 8877 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress. 832-274-3944 www.cyfairhomeandgarden.com

Find more or submit Tomball-Magnolia 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.

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

GET YOUR HEART BACK

TO WHAT MAKES IT REALLY BEAT

Advancing health. Personalizing care. Staying on top of your heart health has never been more important. If you are at high risk for heart disease or are experiencing new or worsening symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor. At Memorial Hermann, our network of affiliated cardiologists offer proactive assessments and personalized plans to help keep risk factors in check. And with enhanced safety measures in place at all of our facilities, you can get the care you need with peace of mind. HEART ISSUES SHOULDN’T WAIT. SEE YOUR DOCTOR.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & HANNAH ZEDAKER

road to four lanes is in the design phase, Rocchi said. The project will also include adding a trac signal at Cherry Street. Project development is ongoing, includ- ing right of way acquisition and address- ing existing utility conicts. Tomball City Council voted Jan. 18 to sell property to Harris County for the widening of Holder- rieth Road. Precinct 4 anticipates sending the project for construction bids in the second quarter of 2022. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 3 Medical Complex Drive extension The city of Tomball’s project to extend Medical Complex Drive from the inter- section of South Persimmon Street and Agg Road to Hufsmith-Kohrville Road is set to wrap up in the third quarter of 2021, Tomball Public Works Director Beth Jones said. The project includes a four- lane boulevard as well as the extension of South Persimmon Street to connect Holderrieth Road to FM 2920. Timeline: June 2020-third quarter 2021 Cost: $18.9 million Funding source: city of Tomball 2016 bond funds

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF FEB. 4. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT TOMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. penalized for expired registrations. The expiring waiver covers initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal and titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits. implemented by Gov. Greg Abbott in March 2020, and while it was extended several times throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, vehicle owners will need to renew vehicle registrations prior to April 14 to avoid being State announces end date for waiver on vehicle title, registration Texans have until April 14 to renew expired vehicle registrations, ocials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced Dec. 15. The temporary waiver was rst The waiver expires April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper) HOW ITWORKS

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ONGOING PROJECTS 1 North Eldridge Parkway widening Harris County Precinct 4 anticipates sending a project for construction bids in the second quarter of 2021 that would widen North Eldridge Parkway in Tomball to four lanes between Spring Cypress Road and Westlock Drive. The design is being nalized to include drainage requirements from Atlas 14, a historic rainfall study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according

to Pamela Rocchi, director of Precinct 4’s Capital Improvement Projects Division. The project will also add trac signals at Westlock Drive and Gregson Road. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4 2 Holderrieth Road improvements A Precinct 4 project to improve drainage along Holderrieth Road and widen the

First phase of Nichols Sawmill Roadwidening ongoing inMagnolia area Nichols Sawmill Road is under con- struction from Grand Pines Road to Nichols Sawmill Elementary School, Montgomery County Precinct 2 Com- missioner Charlie Riley said. While the widening project has slowed this winter amid the death of a contractor paying for some of this out of our own budget.” Although the bridge on Nichols

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remaining from its allocation of the county’s 2015 mobility bond to widen Nichols Sawmill from two to four lanes with a center turn lane, he said. Remaining funds from the bond total about $4.5 million, of which about $2 million has been spent so far on the Nichols Sawmill widening, and another $1 million is reserved for widening the bridge as part of the project. “That’s the rst phase,” Riley said. “We’ll just keep going until we don’t have any bond money left or we have to slow down until we have to start

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Sawmill will be widened, Riley said he does not anticipate a full closure of the roadway or the bridge being torn down. Plans are still in design for how the bridge will be added onto, he said, but drivers may see travel delays during construction. “What we’re trying to do now is at least get up to the city limits of Magnolia because then we’re going to have some help from the city of Magnolia,” he said.

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Riley said Precinct 2 will need to work with city ocials to obtain the necessary right of way for continuing the widening up to FM 1774. “If we can get it up to the city limits of Magnolia, that would be a tremendous help for the folks headed out of town, headed back south or even coming back into town,” he said.

and inclement weather, Riley said he anticipates the rst phase of the widening project will wrap up in the next few months. “We have not abandoned the proj- ect; we have not run out of money,” Riley said Jan. 28. Precinct 2 is using funds

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

COUNTY Harris County purchases 12,000 newhybrid votingmachines

BY HANNAH ZEDAKER

machines since fall 2019 with the goal of implementing a new system by May 2021. According to Longoria, Hart InterCivic Inc. and Election Systems & Software are the only two voting equipment companies certified by the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. The county vetted both options before it selected Hart InterCivic Inc., an Austin-based company that designs and manufactures its voting machines in Texas. The new machines differ from those previously used in Harris County in that they feature a digital touch screen as well as a paper copy of the voter’s selections that the voter can verify before submitting the ballot into a secure, on-site ballot box, Longoria said. She said the new system will provide more security for voters through the collection of paper ballots and triple data backup that allows for easier election audit tracking. The machines will also

VERIFYING Harris County’s new Hart InterCivic Inc. Verity Voting Systems aim to enhance voter security and accessibility by offering the following features. THE VOTE

Harris County residents who vote in the upcoming May 1 elections will be the first to use the county’s new voting machines, known as Hart InterCivic Inc. Verity Voting Systems. On Jan. 26, with an expenditure of $54 million, the Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously authorized the purchase of 12,000 new machines and entered into a one-year contract agreement with Hart InterCivic Inc. that will be in effect until Jan. 25, 2022. The agreement also includes 11 one-year renewal options. While there are not many Tomball- area races on the May ballot, voters will get the chance to use the new system in the November election. Trustee seats in Tomball ISD will be up for election Nov. 8. According to Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria, the county has been working to purchase new voting

Digital touch screen

Paper copy of voter selections to be reviewed before submission

Triple data backup to allow for easier election audit tracking

Americans with Disabilities Act- accessible controls and screen toggling features

SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR’S OFFICE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

offer more accessibility for voters, Longoria said, as they feature Americans with Disabilities Act- accessible controls and screen toggling features. “My commitment to Harris County voters is to provide an open, transparent and accountable voting process—moving to the Hart InterCivic Verity Voting System does just that by giving voters a more accessible, secure and verifiable

ballot to improve the voting experience for all Harris County voters,” Longoria said in a statement. The systemmade its Texas debut in the Nov. 5, 2019 elections across six counties. It will see its first use in Harris County for the May 1 elections. According to a Jan. 26 news release from the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office, the first 2,300 machines will be delivered to Harris County by March 1.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

WEATHER Winter conditions bring outages to isolated Texas power grid

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages an electric grid that covers most of Texas and is disconnected from larger interconnections covering the rest of the U.S.

1

2

WESTERN INTERCONNECTION Includes El Paso and far West Texas 1 EASTERN INTERCONNECTION Includes portions of East Texas and the panhandle region 2 3

BY BEN THOMPSON

University civil and environmental engineering professor, said via email. Winter collapse A Feb. 11 release from ERCOT stated the agency issued notices Feb. 8-11 about the cold weather expected to hit Texas and that generators were asked to prepare. ERCOT followed with a Feb. 14 notice asking customers to reduce electricity through Feb. 16. ERCOT announced Feb. 15 rotating outages had begun at 1:25 a.m. More than 4.3 million Texans were without power early Feb. 16, according to power- outage.us. Despite early warnings, Ramanan Krishnamoorti, a chemical engineer- ing professor and chief energy ocer at the University of Houston, said he believes the state’s reliance on market conditions to manage supply and demand is partially responsible for outages given providers’ lack of incentive to begin production in advance of the supply shortage. He and Cohan also cited a low supply of natural gas. “The shortfall in natural gas supply is about 20 times as large as the shortfall in wind supply compared to expectations for a winter peak cold event,” Cohan said. Planning ahead The statewide outages were the fourth such event in ERCOT’s history. One result of the most recent event in February 2011—also caused by win- ter weather—was the publication of a

Widespread power outages prompted by severe weather across Texas in February led to increased focus on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages 90% of the state’s electric power ow, excluding Entergy Texas, which services part of Montgomery County. The failure of portions of the state’s power grid left millions of Texans without electric service the week of Feb. 15-19. As blackouts and power restoration eorts continued, public ocials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, called for an investigation of ERCOT. ERCOT did not respond to phone calls or email requests for comment. An independent system Texas’ power grid has long been controlled within the state, separate from eastern and western North Amer- ican interconnects. Founded in 1970, ERCOT operates under the supervision of the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature and manages most of the state’s electric system and retail market. ERCOT ocials have highlighted benets of the insular system in the past, although its disconnect from the continent’s larger grids has left it prone to isolation issues during high-demand events, such as Febru- ary’s winter storms, experts said. “Staying independent keeps the management of our power systems within Texas. But it means that we can barely import any power when we need it most,” Daniel Cohan, a Rice

ERCOT INTERCONNECTION

ERCOT’s grid provides electric

ERCOT man- ages 90%

ERCOT provides for 26 million customers.

ERCOT’s grid includes 46,500 miles of transmission.

3

power to the majority of Texans.

of the Texas electrical load.

Real-time data varies, but more than half of ERCOT’s generation capacity comes from natural gas. Experts cited a natural gas shortage in February’s power outages.

POWER BREAKDOWN

2021 ERCOT grid power generating capacity 51% Natural gas 4.9% Nuclear

24.8% Wind 3.8% Solar

13.4% Coal 1.9% Other

0.2% Storage

• At 1:25 a.m. Feb. 15 , ERCOT began rotating outages from customers statewide • As much as 16,500 megawatts removed from the grid due to forced outages Feb. 15 • 1 megawatt can power about 200 households during peak demand TRACKING THE OUTAGES Millions of Texans lost power during winter storms Feb. 15-18.

• 4.3 million Texans were without power at 9 a.m. Feb. 16 • At least 1.4 million CenterPoint Energy customers were without power Feb. 15.

SOURCES: ELECTRIC RELIABILITY COUNCIL OF TEXAS, PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS, POWEROUTAGE.US COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

federal report outlining past failures of power generators and recommending ERCOT and other authorities make winterization eorts a top concern. Beyond just following previous recommendations, the state and power suppliers could have further incentivized preparation for the record-breaking conditions experi- enced, Krishnamoorti said.

“We knew that this polar vortex was coming at least a week ahead,” he said. Cohan said he hopes the state will take a broader range of issues into consideration for potential updates to its energy systems. “We need to look beyond the elec- tricity system and realize that this is an energy systems crisis,” he said.

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

KLEIN ISD CONTINUES IN FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

GFOA Certi fica te of Achieveme n t for Excelle n ce in F inan ci a l Reporti n g 24 years (Fiscal Year 2019) F inan ci a l I n tegrity R a ti n g System of Tex a s (st a te's school finan ci a l a cc ountab ility r a ti n g system) Superior rating 18 consecutive years (received October 2020) ASBO Certi fica te of Excelle n ce in F inan ci a l Reporti n g 17 years (Fiscal Year 2019) ASBO Meritorious Budget Aw a rd 16 years (Fiscal Year 2020-2021) TASBO Aw a rd of Merit for Purch as i n g Oper a tio n s 2 years (received in March 2020)

www.kleinisd.net/ finan ce

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION Lone Star College seeks new baccalaureate programs in ongoing Legislative session

IN THEWORKS The Lone Star College System currently offers three bachelor’s degree programs in nursing, cybersecurity and applied sciences.

BACHELOROF SCIENCE INNURSING

BY ADRIANA REZAL

fall at select campuses. “We thought that we would be able to scale these programs over a few years, but we found that we’re going to need to add additional cohorts and open them to even more students to accommodate the demand,” Scott said. LSC-Montgomery’s Bachelor of Sci- ence in nursing program will expand to two cohorts of 30 students each in fall 2022, Media Relations Director Bill Van Rysdam said. Additionally, he said LSC-Mont- gomery will offer a hybrid learning environment, and LSC-Tomball will offer an online program for the four- year nursing degree—a new offering for the campus. According to Scott, student interest in the nursing program has increased due to demand for health care professionals during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Just speaking directly of the nurs- ing program, there’s probably not ... a campus within our service area that’s not seeing increased need for nurses and health care professionals,” Scott said. “We’re seeing a really elevated demand for health care workers, so we could probably expand that into any number of campuses and find it.” Although a legislative timeline is unclear, Scott said, legislative approval is required for the LSCS to offer additional baccalaureate programs, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Senate Bill 2118—passed by the 85th Legislature in 2017—authorized com- munity colleges to offer up to three

Campus : LSC-Montgomery

Fall cohort : 30 students

After nearly a year of adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, expansions are on the horizon for the Lone Star College System. Legislation has been drafted for the LSCS to offer two new bachelor’s degree programs in health care infor- mation technology and emergency management, said Kyle Scott, the LSCS vice chancellor for strategic priorities, although Scott said he could not share which state legislators the college system is working with. Although legislation has yet to be filed, the four-year degree programs are slated to be offered in 2022 if approved during the ongoing Texas legislative session, he said. “Once we do a canvass of the market and figure out where the demand is going to be—that’s the first step to developing these programs,” Scott said. “Then, because these are going to be bachelor’s programs, ... we have to make sure that ... the design of the curriculum and that the [campus] placement that these graduates will go into will not be in competition with our four-year degree [college] partners.” Programexpansions Expansions are also underway for LSCS’ current four-year degree pro- gram in nursing, which launched last fall. The LSCS debuted its Bachelor of Applied Technology in cybersecurity and Bachelor of Applied Science in energy, manufacturing and trades management programs as well last

Coming fall 2022 : Online program at LSC-Tomball

BACHELOR OF APPLIED TECHNOLOGY IN CYBERSECURITY

Campus : LSC-Westway Park Technology Center

Fall cohort : 48 students Spring cohort : 24 students

BACHELOR OF APPLIED SCIENCE IN ENERGY, MANUFACTURING AND TRADESMANAGEMENT

Campuses : LSC-North Harris, LSC-University Park

Fall cohort : 60 students Spring cohort : 60 students

Legislation has been drafted for the college to offer baccalaureate programs in health care information technology and emergency management , although a legislative timeline has yet to be finalized. SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

bachelor’s degrees in applied science, applied technology and nursing upon approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. LSC-MagnoliaCenter update While the LSCS prepares to add programs, plans for the LSC-Magnolia Center, a satellite campus of LSC-Mont- Jennifer Mott said in late January a land purchase deal for a new site location in Magnolia is in the process following previous complications. gomery, are still in the works. LSCS Chief Financial Officer As previously reported, the LSCS’ plans to build near FM 1488 and FM 1774 in Magnolia were challenged by the Texas Department of Transpor- tation’s proposed Magnolia Relief Route—a loop on the north side of Magnolia—cutting through the

property. “Lone Star College has wanted this center built and completed years ago, and honestly, the holdup this entire time has been just the challenges we’ve encountered in getting a site,” Mott said. Mott said a decision on the new site located near the previously proposed location is expected to be finalized in the next three months. The Magnolia Center is a remaining project from the LSCS’ $485 million bond referendum voters approved in 2014. Following the land purchase, design and construction on the $27.7 million project is slated to take two years to complete, setting the center’s projected opening date to fall 2023—a two-year delay from the original date of fall 2021. Anna Lotz contributed to this report.

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TOMBALL - MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GOVERNMENT Harris County kick-starts newdepartment to track economic equity

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

according to the study. Any ratio below 80% can be evidence of discrimination, lead researcher Colette Holt said. “A very lower ratio suggests entrenched discriminatory barriers,” she said. “Thirty-two percent is very, very low.” An estimated 21 minority-owned business enterprises and 13 wom- en-owned business enterprises are in operation across the 77377 and 77375 ZIP codes in Tomball. The data, which comes from a directory maintained by the city of Houston, includes rms from a vari- ety of industries that could stand to benet from the new Harris County initiative, including construction, engineering and consulting. Alicia Brown, who owns Elevate Research Group, a woman- and American Indian-owned research consulting rm in Tomball, said being a smaller company can pose additional chal- lenges for M/WBEs seeking county contracts. “It would be great if [the depart- ment] could provide some guidance on how smaller minority-owned busi- nesses could obtain those contracts, because I’ve actually looked at them, ... but a lot of themwant past perfor- mance or past contracts,” Brown said. “So, if you don’t have any experience in previously contracting with the county or the state, your only option is to do a subcontract with a bigger rm.” Years in themaking Commissioners rst ordered the new department to be created in January 2019. From that time on, o- cials hosted countless meetings with community members and studied similar departments in other cities to determine the best practices for their own, Legette said. “We wanted to create a department to advance the eective and equi- table economic opportunity for all communities to support economic development that is nancially, environmentally and socially sustain- able,” she said. Within the department are ve core areas: economic development, community business development, workforce development, job training and workers’ rights, Legette said. In its rst year, department leaders

In pursuit of equity

A new department in Harris County set to launch in March will seek to bring a sense of equity to economic development across the county. The Harris County Department of Equity and Economic Opportunity is the culmination of nearly two years of research, community input and stakeholder meetings, said Sasha Legette, a member of the Harris County Precinct 1 policy team that played an instrumental role in getting the project o the ground. In the long term, ocials said they hope to develop policies and programs that help business owners, individual workers and job seekers, ocials said. In its rst year, the focus will fall on the county’s own contract- ing, where a recent study found signs of discriminatory practices. “Sometimes it feels the county is more passive than proactive,” Legette said. “We’re hoping to see a more proactive engagement and innovative policies and programs to address eco- nomic disparities and cure historic disinvestment.” Entrenched discrimination In 2018, the Harris County Com- missioners Court approved a study into disparities in the way the county selects rms to contract with on projects. Conducted by the consult- ing rm Colette Holt & Associates, the study showed the county “could be functioning as a passive participant in marketplace discrimination.” The study examined 478 prime contracts worth about $1.26 billion and 1,433 subcontracts worth about $280.49 million approved by the county between the rst quarter of 2016 and the rst quarter of 2019. Although roughly 71.6% of business enterprises in Harris County are “non-M/WBEs”—a term that refers to any business that is not owned by a minority or woman—about 90.9% of the county’s contracting dollars went to those rms. Only 9.1% of county dollars went to minority- and women-owned busi- nesses, including only 0.5% to Black- owned businesses, the study found. The county’s dealings with non-M/ WBEs yielded a disparity ratio—which measures the use of businesses divided by their availability—of 32%,

Nonminority or nonwomen business enterprises* Hispanic owned Black owned White women-owned Asian owned Native American owned *INCLUDES PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES, EMPLOYEEOWNED COMPANIES

A study in Harris County released in October shows a disparity in how the county selects rms to contract with on its projects.

478 prime contracts worth $980.2 million

1,433 subcontracts worth $280.5 million

Between scal year 2015-16 and rst quarter 2019, Harris County approved:

Weighted availability for county contracts

Ownership of the companies to receive county contracts (by dollar)

0.4%

3.2%

0.1%

10.7% 8.4% 5.9% 3%

0.5%

0.6%

4.6%

71.6%

90.9%

A ratio of 80% or lower suggests discriminatory barriers.

The utilization of minority- and women-owned business enterprises divided by availability Disparity ratio

SOURCES: HARRIS COUNTY, COLETTE HOLT & ASSOCIATESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

said they expect to focus on relation- ship development with communities and local businesses. In the longer term, work could expand to include bringing more economic opportunity to individual workers, entrepreneurs and job seekers in underserved areas. Equity has become a major focus of Harris County planning over the past few years, including in how funds are allocated for ood control, mobility and public health. Two additional studies are also underway this year—one in transpor- tation and one in public health—that are meant to further guide how equity can be incorporated into those areas. The public health study will

ultimately yield a strategic plan for the county for how it can better bring health to underserved communities. The transportation study, slated to be released this summer, is meant to ensure poorer communities get their fair share of mobility funding. “Why should the roads in one area be a lot worse than the roads in other areas?” Precinct 3 Commis- sioner Tom Ramsey said. “Here’s the answer: It’s a choice. Somebody made the choice that the streets in one neighborhood are worse than the streets in another, and we can do better than that.” Adriana Rezal contributed to this report.

17

TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

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