Conroe - Montgomery Edition | December 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 9  DEC. 17, 2020JAN. 20, 2021

ONLINE AT

Divvying up funds The U.S. Treasury Department allocated $105 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to Montgomery County to reimburse for expenses directly incurred as a result of COVID-19. Here is how the county has spent these funds as of Dec. 14.

AWELLWORNDEBATE An injection well operated by Union Processing Systems located on the Conroe oil elds has been the center of a legal debate over whether its operations could contaminate groundwater.

Contingency: $2.17 million

Personal protective equipment and public health: $7.55 million Payroll for county personnel: $42.49 million

COUNTY CARESACT FUNDS

15 years 6,000 feet

15 years of litigation surrounding the Class I injection well Waste is disposed 6,000 feet below ground, passing through two aquifers.

Distance learning: $1.02 million Montgomery ISD, for example, purchased 2,000 devices

$105 million TOTAL

Teleworking: $4.68 million

800 Class I wells W ls

There are 800 Class I wells in the United States, and 249 total wells —including oil and gas wells—in Montgomery County.

Community outreach: $41.59 million

Reimbursements to local cities and ESDs: $520,506.50

Conroe, New Caney, Splendora, Willis, Magnolia and Montgomery ISDs: $300 per student for an estimated total of roughly $30 million

City of Conroe: $77,126.50 in reimbursements Montgomery County ESD No. 1, serves Willis: $10,247.84 Montgomery County ESD No. 2, serves Montgomery: $6,428.81

SOURCES: UNION PROCESSING SYSTEMS, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

15 years of litigation over injectionwell in Conroe potentially nearing end

Available: $7.44 million

If these funds are not used by Dec. 31, they will need to be returned to the U.S. Treasury.

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

County nalizes $105million in CARES Act aid BY EVA VIGH

BY EVA VIGH

An upcoming decision by the Texas Supreme Court could conclude 15 years of litigation involv- ing Montgomery County and a company operating an injection well for nonhazardous waste disposal near the Conroe oil elds. The case centers around whether permits for the injection wells were validly issued. The saga began CONTINUED ON 18

unallocated funds according to County Auditor Rakesh Pandey, which is not enough to cover the county’s remaining expenses that were slated to be up for consideration Dec. 15, after press time. The county was awarded $105 million in federal CARES Act funds to be used for expenses incurred

Montgomery County is nalizing its federal Coro- navirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds, which it has used to fund medical and public health expenses, community outreach programs and local school districts’ needs during the pandemic. As of Dec. 14, there was roughly $7.44 million in

CONTINUED ON 16

County plans for COVID19 vaccine

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THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 8 Local projects to follow

FROMCHRISSY: What a year 2020 has turned out to be. This will be a year that our kids will tell their kids about—when they left for spring break and didn’t go back to school, masks covered everyone’s smiles, everyone stood 6 feet apart instead of hugging each other, and we all but bathed in hand sanitizer. There is much to miss from pre-COVID-19 times, but I remain hopeful for the future and wish all of you a Happy New Year as we ring in 2021. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett, cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Anna Lotz SENIOR REPORTER Eva Vigh GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ethan Pham ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Debbie Pfeer

METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens ARTPRODUCTIONMANAGER Aubrey Galloway CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, TX. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across ve metropolitan areas, providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE

FROMANNA: As we close out 2020, our front-page story captures how funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has trickled down locally to governmental entities in the Conroe and Montgomery area. With Montgomery County receiving $105 million in federal funds, several million dollars was still yet to be spent as of press time, with funds poised to be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department if not used by Dec. 30. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES 3 new communities underway EDUCATION BRIEFS Updates from local districts NEWS BRIEFS

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13 Montgomery County plans for COVID19 vaccine distribution

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

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IMPACTS

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

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & EVA VIGH

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COURTESY HOPPY KITCHEN

7 PowHERhouse Fitness , a women-only strength and endurance training gym, is slated to open in January at 15885 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 4, Montgomery. The facility will be used for small group sessions, with no more than 10 women per session, own- er and trainer Kelly Diller said. Building muscle and burning fat will be the target, and there will be one day of endurance or high-intensity interval training. Nutrition plans and 12-week plans will be oered. kjdillercpt@gmail.com 8 A new Anytime Fitness location is coming to Woodforest in Montgomery this winter, although a date has not been an- nounced. The gym will be located at 910 Pine Market Ave., Ste. 100, Montgomery. Gym amenities include 24-hour access, 24-hour security, showers and lockers. 936-657-5151. www.anytimetness.com 9 Premier Martial Arts will open in Montgomery in early January. The martial arts franchise will be located at 920 Pine Market Ave., Montgomery. Premier Martial Arts oers child and adult classes with lessons in martial arts, such as karate, taekwondo and kickboxing. 936-225-3557. https://premiermartialarts.com/woodforest NEWOWNERSHIP Blake and Donna Cox purchased Driveway Dumpster Rental on Nov. 9, a Willis-based dumpster rental business serving Conroe, Willis, Montgomery and other North Hous- ton-area communities. The business, which does not have a brick-and-mortar location, provides clean dumpsters to residences for rent and returns to take the dumpsters to an authorized dump station. The business is fully insured for residential properties. 713-570-6095. www.drivewaydumpsterrental.com

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NOWOPEN 1 Hoppy Kitchen opened in early December at 705 Galveston St., Conroe, delivering fresh, made-from-scratch comfort and pub food, owner Ryan Alworth said in an email. Hoppy Kitchen has partnered with Copperhead Brewery to open at the location, which includes a taproom and patio area. The from-scratch kitchen does not use frozen or prepared products and oers foods such as pizzas, hamburgers, salads, sandwiches, soups, and sh and chips. 936-333-3450. www.hoppykitchen.com 1488 2 Snacktime Express opened at 18413 Hwy. 105, Ste. B, Montgomery, in Novem- ber. Prior to the storefront, Snacktime Express operated primarily as a factory selling to wholesale stores and online, owner R.E. Woods said in an email. Snack- time Express makes over 40 dierent avors of popcorn, including watermelon, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, dill pickle and 149

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chocolate peanut butter. It also sells sweet and spicy, brown sugar bourbon, candied and cinnamon glazed nuts. 877-976-2257. www.snacktimeexpress.com 3 Underworld Tattoos opened Nov. 5 at 2017 N. Frazier St., Ste. A3, Conroe. The shop oers permanent and temporary tattoos. 936-235-1379. www.facebook. com/underworldtattoostudio/ 4 Six Shooter Junction Boutique and Jessica’s Fine Jewelry opened a joint eort called Between 2 Sisters in Historic Montgomery at 14348 Liberty St., Mont- gomery, in early December. Six Shooter Junction oers ladies fashion and acces- sories for women of all ages. Jessica’s Fine Jewelry, which is based in Magnolia, oers jewelry repairs and sells jewelry. https://sixshooterjunction.myshopify.com. www.jessicasnejewelry.com 5 Michael Gillogly opened Woodforest Fine Dentistry at 791 Fish Creek Thor-

oughfare, Ste. 40, Montgomery, in August. The practice oers a full range of dental services, including cleanings, Invisalign, implants and sedation, and it oers a membership plan for those without dental insurance as well as accepts most insurance companies. The dental practice also serves wine and has TVs installed in the ceiling for patients to enjoy during treatment. 936-262-1700. www.facebook. com/woodforestnedentistry COMING SOON 6 A.L. Party Creations , a new balloon business, is coming to 1108 N. Loop 336 W., Ste. R, Conroe, according to city doc- uments. The store will oer Gemar-brand balloons with a balloon bar that oers balloon bouquets for delivery or pickup, owner Angelica Espinoza said. Helium will be available for rental and purchase, and the shop will host classes for how to make balloon decorations. Contact information and an opening date are not yet available. WEST FORK SAN JACINTO RIVER 1488 45

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Coalition outlines legislative agenda for 2021

COMPILED BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN & ANNA LOTZ

ONGOING PROJECTS

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The Transportation Advocacy Group-Houston Region maintains a list of projects needed to enhance mobility in the Greater Houston region, and before each Texas legislative session, the group prepares a list of priorities for which to advocate. The 87th legislative session begins Jan. 12, and TAG Executive Director Andrea French said three items are on the list. “Transportation is not like other investments that the state needs to make,” she said. “When you invest in transportation, you are also investing in jobs and the economy.”

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TAG is asking for Texas legislators to continue funding transportation projects across the state because they have a direct effect on the economy. Total funding needed for Houston highway projects: Every $1 in transportation

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FM 1097 widening The Texas Department of Transpor- tation is widening FM 1097 from two to four lanes with a continuous left-turn lane between I-45 and Anderson Road in Willis. The project, underway by Angel Brothers, was 65% complete as of Dec. 1 and is funded by both federal and state dollars. Timeline: fourth quarter 2018-third quarter 2021 Cost: $15.71 million Funding sources: TxDOT, federal

Hike and bike trail slated Conroe City Council members unani- mously approved awarding a $460,771 contract Nov. 12 to Greenscapes Six LLC for the construction of a hike and bike trail along Alligator Creek from Roberson Park to Hwy. 75. The project also includes the design and construc- tion of a new sidewalk along Bettes Street from Oak Hollow Drive to Candy Cane Park. The project will be sub- stantially complete in 75 days and fully complete within 105 days, according to Tommy Woolley, director of capital projects and transportation for the city. During a Jan. 13, 2020, special meeting, council members chose Bleyl Engineering to design the trail project, which includes 2,000 linear feet of an 8-foot hike and bike trail. Timeline: Nov. 12, 2020-early 2021

$3-$6 in economic return

$19.5 billion

Every $1 billion invested in transportation

Other regional mobility project funding needed: $53 billion

around 13,000 jobs created

INDEX THE GAS TAX

DISCUSS ALTERNATIVE FUELS

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TAG wants to begin talks regarding legislation for alternatively fueled vehicles, which currently do not contribute to the highway fund. TAG is advocating to promote vehicle equity so more people contribute equally to the

TAG is advocating for the gas tax to be indexed to keep up with the inflation rate.

Indexing does not mean an increase. Indexing involves adjusting for the inflation rate. The gas tax is used to fund the State Highway Fund.

The Texas gas tax was last changed in 1991 .

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF DEC. 14. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

transportation fund. “Something needs to be done,” TAG Executive Director Andrea French said.

French said it is not known what fee collection could look like.

Cost: $460,771 (construction) Funding source: city of Conroe

Indexing could provide more funding for transportation projects, according to TAG.

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DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

Developments underway in Conroe & Montgomery

COMPILED BY EVA VIGH

COURTESY CAMILLO PROPERTIES

COURTESY GMI MANAGEMENT

COURTESY STEVE STEWART

MACKENZIE CREEK Camillo Properties broke ground in July on the rst section of its community at Mackenzie Creek, which will bring over 200 rental homes to southeast Conroe when fully built out, although a build-out date is not known. Mackenzie Creek is an existing community shared with Legend Homes. Although homes are under construction for retail sales as well, the ones built by Camillo will be for rent. For Camillo, the rst phase of the development will have one- and two- story options, with square footage from 1,307-2,247. Prices will range from $1,375 to $1,900 per month, and move-ins are expected in late 2020.

PINE ACRE TRAILS AFFORDABLE MANUFACTUREDHOMES A manufactured housing community is set to open in Conroe in spring 2021. The community, known as Pine Acre Trails, will be located at 11055 Pine Acres Trails Blvd., Conroe, by the Conroe airport. It will be a lot- lease community, meaning residents can bring their own manufactured homes into the community. The standard lot size will be 50 feet by 125 feet, beginning at $450 per month. Once developed, the community will oer an on-site oce and sta, walking trails, a shing pond, up to 10 gigabytes of ber internet, and a community soccer eld and splash pad.

TRENDMAKER HOMES Trendmaker Homes has nished clearing about 95 acres just south of Pine Valley Drive in Conroe with the intent to build about 335 homes. Reforestation and replanting will now take place, per city of Conroe ordinances, according to Joe Mandola, president of Trendmaker Homes Houston. Construction on the model homes and recreation center is expected to begin in March, and home sales are set to start in fall 2021. Homesites will be about 40-50 feet by 125 feet, and home sizes will range from about 1,600 square feet to 2,675 square feet. Pricing and a name have yet to be determined, according to Mandola.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

SEEING A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR Is Still Important

For everything from annual checkups to managing chronic conditions, taking care of your health should always be a priority. Houston Methodist primary care doctors are still available to provide personalized care for you and your family — safely. We offer a variety of convenient ways to get care from us, from same-day sick visits to extended hours at select locations. And, you can be confident that we are taking every necessary precaution to keep you safe during your visit, including:

Screening all patients, and seeing COVID-19 patients virtually only — allowing us to treat everyone safely

Ensuring social distancing in waiting rooms

Offering video visits with your doctor

Wearing masks while providing care

Adding evening and Saturday hours to space out appointments

Enhanced cleaning of equipment and surfaces

houstonmethodist.org/pcg Call or text: 713.394.6724

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Conroe, Willis and Montgomery ISDs

Calendar for202122underdiscussion CONROE ISD At a Nov. 17 meet- ing, two new members joined the Conroe ISD board, and the board discussed plans for the 2021-22 school year calendar. Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said some scheduling considerations for the district’s BY BEN THOMPSON The board is considering options for the 2021-22 school year, such as: CALENDAR CONSIDERATIONS The board of trustees will set the 2021-22 calendar in January. A later start date

Montgomery ISD swears innewboard

The Conroe ISD board of trustees will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe. 936-709-7752. www.conroeisd.net The Montgomery ISD board of trustees will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery. 936-276-2000. www.misd.org The Willis ISD board of trustees will meet at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at 612 N. Campbell St., Willis. 936-856-1200. www.willisisd.org MEETINGSWE COVER

BY EVA VIGH

MONTGOMERY ISD Three new trustees were sworn in during the Nov. 17 board meeting: Mike Hopkins, Shawn Denison and Laurie Turner. In addition, the board selected Matt Fuller to serve as president, Gary Hammons to serve as vice president and Linda Porten to serve as secretary. Fuller, who has served on the board since 2019, is an associate professor of educational leadership at SamHouston State University, where he teaches classes and conducts research on educational law, nance, history, ethics and educational research methods. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to serve as board president and work with my board colleagues and Superintendent Morrison to ensure we are increasing educational outcomes and setting all of our students up for future success,” Fuller said.

A midweek school year start in August A full-week Thanksgiving break

75,600-minute calendar in 2021-22 include a later start date and an earlier end date to the school year, a midweek school year start in August, a full-week Thanksgiving break, and a three-weekend winter break to cap the rst semester. Responses to a 2021-22 calendar survey will help guide the deci- sion-making committee this year, Hines said. The committee posted several calendar drafts to the district’s website in November for public review and feedback, and it will present a nalized calendar recommendation for trustees to consider at the board’s Jan. 19

Districtbreaksground BY EVA VIGH

A three-weekend winter break

An earlier end date

SOURCE: CONROE ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

District ocials gathered Dec. 10. COURTESY WILLIS ISD

regular meeting. Newmembers sworn in for seats on the board of trustees Nov. 17 included Theresa Wagaman to Position 5, who ran unopposed, and Stacey Chase to Position 6, who won the seat in the general election.

WILLIS ISD District ocials broke ground Dec. 10 on Elementary School No. 6, located at 11505 Pine Valley Drive, Conroe. The school is the nal project from the district’s 2015 bond and will open in fall 2021.

FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GOVERNMENT BRIEFS Montgomery County plans for 2020-21 COVID-19 vaccine distribution

The county’s public health district is working through preliminary plan- ning for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to county residents, which will begin before the end of the year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administra- tion granted emergency use authoriza- tion to the COVID-19 vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology firmBioNTech on Dec. 11, according to a letter from the FDA, which enables vaccine distribu- tion to begin. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. As of press time Dec. 14, informa- tion from the Texas Department of State Health Services showed 975 doses each of the COVID-19 vaccine BY ANNA LOTZ AND BEN THOMPSON

would be given locally to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital and Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital the first week of vaccine distribution Dec. 14 for front- line health care workers. According to the FDA’s letter grant- ing emergency use authorization, the vaccine may be used only to prevent COVID-19 in individuals age 16 and older and requires two doses, three weeks apart. Based on initial state guidance, only some Texans would be eligible to receive vaccines in 2020. The first in line would be health care person- nel, including hospital and pharmacy workers, first responders and some education staff. They would be followed by those age 65 and older and those with comorbidities. Additional groups would become

Upon receiving doses of the vaccine, Montgomery County will make it available to the public in phases.

ROLLING OUT VACCINES

PHASE 1A

PHASE 2

PHASE 1B

Health care personnel, including hospital and pharmacy workers, first responders and some education staff (late 2020)

Those age 65 and older and those with comorbidities for the virus (late 2020)

Additional “critical populations” not served during Phase 1 (early 2021)

PHASE 3

Widespread vaccine availability (summer 2021)

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICT/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

eligible for vaccines in Phase 2, which would begin in early 2021. That would be followed by widespread vaccine availability for the general public in Phase 3 beginning next summer, according to the DSHS. Through all phases, Montgomery County residents can expect minimal- or no-cost vaccinations, said Alicia Williams, Montgomery County public

health director. Health care providers may not charge for the vaccine itself, although administrative costs at private locations may vary. Williams said the county public health clinic— which typically only serves patients who are under-insured, uninsured, or Medicaid-eligible—could provide its vaccinations to all county residents either for free or for up to $10.

Best practices for sandmining inSanJacintooutlined

$56K security detail approved 3-2 for Montgomery County JudgeKeough

BY KELLY SCHAFLER

plain along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River between I-45 and Hwy. 59 increased 31% between 1995 and 2017. “What we’re advocating for is that standards be developed that provide a broader regional benefit while main- taining consistency and predictability,” Boullion said. The state of Texas does not have uniform best management practices for all sand mining companies. The TCEQ will create draft rules of the best management practices between December and March and adopt the final rules in November.

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality began a

In a 3-2 vote Nov. 10, commissioners approved a county deputy as the security detail for Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough. According to Keough, the position will provide additional security for his office and himself as he travels to represent the county. The deputy’s position will be paid for out of county contin- gency funds with an annual salary of $56,139. A vehicle will be provided from Montgomery County Emergency Management, and an additional $7,500 is budgeted for necessary equipment. Commissioner Mike Meador, who was in favor of a deputy, said each commissioner has one for security. Commissioners Charlie Riley and James Noack opposed the idea.

yearlong process in mid-November to form more rules for sand mining in the San Jacinto River Basin. Environmental advocates have said they hope this process will reduce downstream flooding, limit sediment runoff and minimize pollutants. During the TCEQ’s virtual stakeholder meeting Nov. 10, Jill Boullion, the executive director of the Bayou Land Conservancy, said the number of sand mining companies located in the flood

13

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

2020 V O L U N T E E R G U I D E WAYS TOGIVE BACK Volunteer opportunities in the Conroe, Montgomery area

COMPILED BY VANESSA HOLT, ADRIANA REZAL & EVA VIGH

Help out the Conroe and Montgomery communities throughout the year by volunteering with local nonprot groups. Volunteer opportunities included in this guide range from serving seniors to empowering children. This list is noncomprehensive. VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS

Application

Background check

Under age 18 allowed

Orientation

EMPOWER CHILDREN ANGEL REACH Angel Reach is a program serving foster families and youth aging out of the foster care system as well as young people ages 16-24 at risk for homelessness. The organization provides housing, counseling, transportation, employment coaching and educational advising. Sample activities: mentoring, making a meal, helping at the resale shop, mainte- nance on youth homes, event planning 900 W. Dallas St., Conroe www.angelreach.org 936-202-8498 1 1 1 CASA CHILD ADVOCATES OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County supports children and families involved in the child welfare system. CASA volunteers are assigned to one or two cases at a time, focusing solely on that one child or sibling group and their family. Sample activities: identifying and addressing risks to child’s safety and well-being; ensuring physical, mental and educational assessments are complete; providing information to judge and others involved in the case 412 W. Phillips St., Ste. 107, Conroe 9364415437 www.casaspeaks4kids.com 1 1 1 YES TO YOUTH MONTGOMERY COUNTY YOUTH SERVICES The nonprot provides crisis counseling, shelter programs and prevention services for families and youths. On June 20, Yes to Youth broke ground on its new building for short- term housing for homeless youth. Sample activities: providing meals, raising money through gift cards and basic necessities for the shelter, cleaning or organizing facilities, helping at events, tutoring youth

Sendera Ranch Drive, Montgomery 2815761634 1 1 1 FEED THE HUNGRY KEEP US FED MONTGOMERY COUNTY PROJECT KUSF picks up extra food from local

Angel Reach

Henry’s Home Horse Sanctuary

COURTESY ANGEL REACH

COURTESY HENRY’S HOME HORSE SANCTUARY

www.mowmc.org 1 1 1 1 HELP ANIMALS

The nonprot organization provides disaster relief, housing services and a food pantry, among other resources and services. Sample activities: sorting donations, assisting with voucher program, assisting on resale shop sales oor, organizing resale shop merchandise, assembling homeless care kits with food pantry, assisting or coordinating with donation collection drives 1022 McCall Ave., Conroe 9364944414 1 1 1 1 FAMILY PROMISE OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY Family Promise of Montgomery County empowers families with children from homelessness to a solid foundation in 90 days. This includes life skills, budget counseling and workforce development. Sample activities: preparing and delivering meals, guest center oce work, receptionist work, maintenance work, grant writing 1207 N. Thompson St., Conroe 9364418778 www.familypromiseofmc.org 1 1 1 1 MONTGOMERY COUNTY WOMEN’S CENTER The agency helps survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault by providing an emergency shelter, legal services, crisis intervention programs, a 24-hour hotline, case management and transitional housing. Sample activities: maintaining facilities, making meals, helping with Christmas programs, organizing and sorting donations at resale store 1401 Airport Road, Conroe 9364414044 www.mcwctx.org 1 1 1 NEW DANVILLEJAZZY JUNQUE The resale store Jazzy Junque benets New Danville, a day program for adults with special needs. The store, located at Conroe Outlet Mall, is run by volunteers, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in four-hour minimum shifts. Volunteers commit to a weekly schedule. Sample activities: greeting and assisting customers, wrapping purchases, helping with store upkeep, receiving donations 1111 League Line Road, Ste. 172, Conroe 9364414500 www.jazzyjunque.org 1 1 1

restaurants, catering companies, grocery stores and event planners and delivers it to shelters, group homes and food pantries. Volunteers are needed every day of the week, usually in the morning, with commitments of 6090 minutes at a time. Volunteers are also needed with photography skills, interest in equipment management and support, and providing a backup vehicle at donation sites. Prospective volunteers are invited to join a donation collection. Volunteers under 18 are accepted only with a parent or older adult, but volunteers 14 and older are preferred. Sample activities: delivering food to recipients 3915 W. Davis St., Stes. 130223, Conroe 9362063604 www.keepusfedmoco.org 1 1 MONTGOMERY COUNTY FOOD BANK The Montgomery County Food Bank collects and supplies food and resources to more than 35,000 people each month. In addition to preparing food for recipients, volunteers can participate in the Buddy Backpack program and item distribution with the Senior Care and Share programs. Children ages 715 can volunteer with an adult. Sample activities: inspecting food and sorting into packages, nutrition education 1 Food for Life Way, Conroe 9362718800 www.mcfoodbank.org 1 1 SERVE SENIORS

HENRY’S HOME HORSE SANCTUARY Volunteers care for horses in an outdoor facility, performing farm work and other activities. Individuals with computer, marketing and fundraising skills are also needed. The all-volunteer organization’s primary mission is to serve veterans, rst responders and their families, but any volunteer help is welcome, founder and Executive Director Donna Stedman said. Sample activities: grooming, riding and caring for horses 14638 Perry Road, Conroe 281-292-1110 www.henryshomehorsesanctuary.org 1 1 1

MONTGOMERY COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER

The shelter oers opportunities to assist with dog bathing and walking, cat handling, on- and o-site adoptions, fostering and laundry. Volunteers can also help with administrative tasks or serve as a vet staer, surgery assistant or photographer’s assistant. Sample activities: dog bathing and walking, laundry, administrative tasks 8535 Hwy. 242, Conroe 9364427738 www.mcaspets.org 1 1 1 HELP THE COMMUNITY BRIDGEWOOD FARMS This organization helps educate and meet the needs of teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Volunteers under age 18 are welcome with an adult. Sample activities: oce work, assisting

105 W. Lewis St., Conroe www.sayyestoyouth.org 9367568682 1 1 1 CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

MEALS ON WHEELS MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Meals onWheels Montgomery County provides meals to local homebound seniors. MOWMC provides pet food through the aniMeals program on a monthly basis. Volunteers deliver meals, help in the kitchen and assist with various tasks in the oce. Volunteers under the age of 18must be accompanied by a parent. Sample activities: delivering meals; assembling pet food bags, breakfast bags, senior meal bags 111 S. Second St., Conroe 9367565828

clients during activities 11680 Rose Road, Conroe 9368566460 www.bridgewoodfarms.org 1 1 1 1

LAKE CREEK PRESERVE This organization protects and preserves the natural area surrounding Lake Creek and maintains a hiking trail. Sample activities: giving tours, maintaining the hiking trail, fundraising

COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE CENTER The Community Assistance Center oers a variety of essential assistance programs ranging from basic need services to long-term case management for individuals and families.

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

DISHES TO TRY:

Beef tenderloin tips

$12.99

The beef tenderloin tips appetizer is served over goat cheese with caramelized onions and fresh tomatoes.

The BLT lavash atbread consists of tomato sauce, mozzarella, bacon, arugula and tomato.

$32.99

PHOTOS BY ANDREW CHRISTMANCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Burger and Bordeaux

Steak frites is an 8-ounce let mignon that is dry aged at least 60 days.

Steakhouse strikes balance between casual and avorful dining

$12.99

A fter leaving the restaurant business for a brief time, Charlie Watkins said he decided to bring a casual dining experience back with him to Texas. When he saw the property in Marcel Town Center o FM 1488 for what is now his restaurant, Burger and Bordeaux, Watkins said he fell in love with the location. He chose the site and opened the restau- rant July 2, 2019. Despite facing challenges during COVID-19 closures, he said the restaurant continues to oer a break from stressful environments. “People stress out everywhere else,” Watkins said. “They should not have to stress out at dinner too.” Watkins said while burgers are prominent on the menu, Burger and Bordeaux puts more emphasis on being a casual steakhouse and wine bar. “Hamburgers and bordeaux wine are a classic pairing among sommeliers,” Watkins said. “I wanted to do a casual steakhouse and burger house that featured wine.” Along with the menu, the restaurant oers a 90-foot bar and around 100 wines for pairings. For the menu, Watkins said he wanted to

keep oerings fun and interesting while bal- ancing avors. “I feel that is something a lot of chefs miss,” he said. “They do creative things, but they do not balance the avors.” Among the avors Watkins said he likes to use the most is goat cheese, which is a personal favorite of his and is featured in several appetizers, includ- ing beef tenderloin tips and a basil tomato coulis, which is a type of sauce. “[The coulis] is a common dish around the world,” he said. “You typically have a warm tomato sauce and warm goat cheese, and you do them together. I keep mine [as a] fresh and uncooked salsa, and then when the order comes in we heat it up to get it hot and serve it with pita.” Watkins said he has always enjoyed good food and cooking, and he got his start when he was young. “I used to travel to Louisiana, and I would get Cajun food,” he said. “I came back to Houston ... and it had not diversied back in the 1960s. So I started buying cookbooks and learned to cook because I liked it so much.”

Among the appetizers is warm goat cheese with basil tomato coulis and pita.

Burger andBordeaux Marcel Town Center, 545 Woodland Square Blvd., 4900 FM 1488, Conroe 936-242-1373 www.burgerandbordeaux.com Hours: Tue.-Wed. 3-9 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m.- midnight, Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Mon.

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15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

Government guidance Although other counties, such as Harris, are following U.S. Treasury guidelines to distribute funds to cities and emergency service districts on a per capita basis, Montgomery County is not. CARES Act funds must be used for expenses due to COVID-19. U.S. Treasury guidelines

local governmental units for expenses incurred through Dec. 30, including payroll costs for public safety employ- ees. Travis, Dallas and Fort Bend counties are also oering proportional amounts based on population. However, Montgomery County is reimbursing expenses from only March 27-Sept. 30 and is not including a per capita allotment or payroll costs for cities. It is, however, reimbursing $42.49 million for payroll for county public health and safety personnel. “I know that our interpretation is dierent than Harris County,” Noack said in a phone interview, noting he did not know if per capita distribu- tion was necessarily the best way to distribute funds. “I think all gov- ernmental entities are best to stay focused on the core services they are there to provide. The county has been the one responsible for pro- viding direct aid when it comes to COVID-related activities.” Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said in an email most cities and entities have had no expenses or little expenses related to COVID- 19 because the county has supplied personal protective equipment and other supplies. However, 12 entities requested reimbursements for a total of about $520,000. OnDec. 8, commissioners approved authorizing all or part of these expenses, granting the city of Conroe $73,602.30; Montgomery County ESD No. 1, which serves Willis, a request of $10,247.84; and Montgomery County ESD No. 2, which serves the city of Montgomery, $12,109.79. Rusty Grith, the battalion chief of ESD No. 2, said the money will be used to reimburse expenses related to PPE and other equipment as well as lodging for quarantined reghters. However, the county is not reimburs- ing for payroll for reghters who had to quarantine, he said. “That’s our other big expense,” Grith said. Although the city of Montgomery has not submitted a request to the county as of press time, City Admin- istrator Richard Tramm said they led a request with the Federal Emer- gency Management Agency. The city of Conroe did not provide comment. Slow to spend At various court meetings, com- missioners have rejected or stalled on approving various requests for fear of

MARCH 27

The expenses were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27.

Expenditures are necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The expenses were incurred between March 1-Dec. 30.

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

Montgomery County’s differences in guidelines

Payroll expenses may not be submitted to the county for reimbursement.

Expenses submitted must have occurred between March 27-Sept. 30.

No per capita allotment is provided for cities or governmental units.

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

James Noack said in a phone inter- view. “If we use it incorrectly, we’re going to have to issue debt to get it back, and the federal government will take it, go into our bank account, and we’ll have to ll it in on the back end.” WhileMontgomery County ocials have voiced they would rather err on the side of caution in spending CARES funds, other Texas counties are mov- ing forward to ensure they are spend- ing every last dollar as of press time. There is also a discrepancy between how Montgomery County and other counties are doling out funds, with the former not reimbursing cities on a per-capita basis, nor reimbursing for payroll for cities. Of its total CARES Act funds, Mont- gomery County has spent just 0.5% to reimburse cities, The Woodlands Township and emergency services districts. However, it has spent a larger percent of its funds towards school dis- tricts than Harris County. City allocations According to guidance from the U.S. Treasury, counties with popula- tions of more than 500,000 can—but are not required to—distribute funds to cities and other governmental enti- ties within their boundaries such as emergency service districts. HarrisCounty, for example, is follow- ing U.S. Treasury recommendations with $55 per capita reimbursement to

CONTINUED FROM 1

due to COVID-19. Commissioners had an item on the Dec. 15 agenda, after press time, to discuss and take action regarding the reclassication of public safety expenses for various county depart- ments to be reimbursed through CARES Act money. Commission- ers were slated to consider using the remaining CARES Act funds to reimburse part of these remaining expenses, which total $13.1 million— about $6 million more than what was remaining—that are for salary expenses of law enforcement and other county expenses, Pandey said. However, the county does not have enough CARES Act funds to cover these requested reimbursements, he said. The county is up against a dead- line; any funds not used by Dec. 30 will have to be returned to the fed- eral government. Still, local ocials said they have been careful spend- ing CARES Act money to make sure it meets U.S. Treasury guidelines; otherwise, they could be subject to a claw back—meaning the county would have to repay the money to the U.S. Treasury. “We shouldn’t spend one dime of [the funds] until we get a 100% approval [from the federal govern- ment],” Precinct 3 Commissioner

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