Conroe - Montgomery Edition | November 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 8  NOV. 13DEC. 16, 2020

ONLINE AT

Terms to know XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

crisis A local hhuunngger Local ocials said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity. Prior to the pandemic, over 35,000 residents in the Conroe and Montgomery area were eligible for grocery assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2018.

SNAP The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programoers grocery assistance to low-income families.

Food insecur i t y A lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life due to nancial constraints

Find deals in a snap: Point your camera to the QR code or visit communityimpact.com/deals .

locally SNAP el igibi l i ty

The 19% of residents who are SNAP eligible include:

8%

57%

35%

or 2,762 seniors

or 12,653 youth

or 20,213 adults

According to Feeding Texas, thousands of residents across the eight Conroe-Montgomery ZIP codes are eligible for SNAP benets.

med i an i ncome : $61,777 med i an i ncome : $81,498 med i an i ncome : $46,071 med i an i ncome : $96,455 med i an i ncome : $52,171 med i an i ncome : $63,489

SNAP e l i g i bl e : 13.3% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 9.6% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 30.7% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 8.9% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 23.3% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 11.4%

Rece i ve SNAP :

of that

48%

Rece i ve SNAP :

77356

77318

of that

45%

149

77303

45

Rece i ve SNAP :

105

of that

77304

IMPACTS

7

Percentage of popul at i on el i g i ble for snap benef i ts

57%

77306

77301

77316

Rece i ve SNAP :

5%-15% 15.1%-25% 25.1%-40%

of that

77302

56%

N

med i an i ncome : $68,864 med i an i ncome : $43,178

SNAP e l i g i bl e : 17.4% SNAP e l i g i bl e : 39.5%

Rece i ve SNAP :

Rece i ve SNAP :

of that

of that

44%

76%

SOURCES: FEEDING TEXAS, U.S. CENSUS BUREAUCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Rece i ve SNAP :

Rece i ve SNAP :

of that

of that

TODO LIST

9

INSIDE

16

64%

42%

Economic, redevelopment progress slow for Conroe’s historic Black communities Across the Santa Fe railroad tracks in southeast Conroe lies the Dugan and Madeley Quarter neighborhoods, the oldest Black communities in Conroe. According to the city, many of the plots can be traced back to original settle- ments of freed persons, and they were once bustling communities. BY EVA VIGH CONTINUED ON 18

Theother side of the tracks

NEWFORENSIC CENTER

11

MADELEY QUARTER

105

DUGAN

Once a thriving Black community, many houses in Dugan are abandoned. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

N

MONTY’S LIGHTHOUSE

14

COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON . Complete 2020 by joining your neighbors with a contribution of any amount to CI Patron. Funds support Community Impact Newspaper ’s hyperlocal, unbiased journalism and help build informed communities. Choose IMPACT . Make a CONTRIBUTION . Strengthen JOURNALISMFORALL . Contribute today! Snap or visit

FIGHTING THE FLU STARTS WITH YOU

This flu season brings with it a whole new set of challenges. But we can all do our part to keep Houston healthy and safe, and it starts with getting a flu shot. It protects you, your family, and our community. It also helps minimize the stress on Houstonʼs healthcare system. Plus, with the enhanced safety measures in place at Memorial Hermann facilities, you can get your flu shot safely and with peace of mind. PROTECT YOURSELF. PROTECT OUR COMMUNITY. GET YOUR FLU SHOT TODAY.

Advancing health. Personalizing care.

To schedule, visit memorialhermann.org/flu

2

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

on se l ect homes through November 30th 3 Ways to Save up to $10,000

1 $ 10,000 * Up to IN CLOSING COSTS through recommended lender (up to 3% of contract price)

2

3

Office + Media Room LUXURY PACKAGE * ($10,000 value)

$ 10,000 Up to OFF THE ADVERTISED PRICE

Must close by December 31, 2020. Restrictions apply.*

Perryhomes.com/Houston-Savings

3

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

IS WORTH A SHOT PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY

Schedule your flu shot at BSLMG.org/FluSeason.

With no-wait appointments and locations across Greater Houston, it’s easy to protect friends and family this flu season. Keep those you love safe by booking an appointment with your doctor at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group today.

Find a location near you at StLukesHealth.org

4

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

7

Now Open, Coming Soon &more TODO LIST

FROMCHRISSY: This year has brought many new challenges to families in our local communities, one of which has been food insecurity, leaving many families not knowing from where their next meal will come. One of our front-page stories explores how local nonprots are experiencing an increased demand this year from those in need along with an increased need for donations. Read more on pages 16-17. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

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

9

Local events and things to do TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 10 Local projects to follow GOVERNMENT 11 Montgomery County to build $11.8M forensic center in Conroe NEWS BRIEFS 12 CARES Act money will convert Lone Star Convention Center for jury, courthouse

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: Election night results show several new faces will join community leadership across Conroe and Montgomery in the next few months, from a new mayor at the helm in Conroe to candidates ousting incumbents in Montgomery ISD. Voters also approved a $100.15 million bond in Willis ISD. Take a closer look at how major elections shook out on Page 13. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

Local sources 31

New businesses 4

Community events 9

Forensic center 1

DINING FEATURE Monty’s Lighthouse PEOPLE

14

15 Community remembers Micky Deison, former Conroe mayor REAL ESTATE 20 Residential market data IMPACT DEALS 21 Local coupons

Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact

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

Our local teams tailor campaigns for all business sizes and industries wanting to reach their customer base and accomplish their nancial goals. Our products ADVERTISEWITHUS

SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens

stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES comnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

include newspaper ads; mailbox-targeted sticky notes, inserts and direct mail; and digital options. We also partner with Community Impact Printing for nationwide specialty orders. Our advertising clients self- report 97% satisfaction with their overall experience, and a recent third-party Readex survey proved 78% of paper recipients read three of the last four editions, and from what they read 83% “took action” of some kind. Contact us today for more info! communityimpact.com/advertising

DAILY INBOX

Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the latest headlines direct to your inbox. communityimpact.com/ newsletter

Proudly printed by

WE’VE TEAMEDUP TO BRING YOUMORE OF THE STORIES YOU CARE ABOUT

communityimpact.com

@impactnews_com

facebook.com/impactnewscom

Call NOW to inquire about our immediate availability! Independent Living • Assisted Living • Memory Care

Over 5,000 Happy Residents in Caring Communities Nationwide Agree: It’s not like home. It is home. ™

2275 Riverway Drive • Conroe, TX 77304

5

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

An offer so good, we wish we could put a bow on it! • Discounted Rates • Fast Approvals • Terms up to 12 Months $ 1,500 Get up to a HOLIDAY LOAN TODAY

5PointCU.org or call 1.800.825.8829 Apply today!

1021 Sawdust Road SPRING (NEXT TOWALMART)

3570 FM 1488 Road CONROE (BETWEEN KUYKENDAHL & SH 242)

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Normal credit granting criteria apply. Offer valid thru 12/31/2020. Rate displayed is the lowest available to qualified borrowers; your rate may be higher and will be determined by creditworthiness. Must have direct deposit and loans must be set up on automatic transfer or ACH payment to qualify for 6.99%. Sample payment schedule: A $1500 loan, with an annual percentage rate of 6.99%, to be repaid in 12 monthly installments of $130. One loan per member. Must qualify for membership. See credit union for full details.

Federally Insured by NCUA

6

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

IMPACTS

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

COMPILED BY ADRIANA REZAL & EVA VIGH

4

149

75

1097

LEWIS CREEK RESERVOIR

1097

WILLIS

MONTGOMERY

LAKE CONROE

LONE STAR PKWY.

830

45

1

1484

105

5

The USTMAX Center opened Oct. 20. EVA VIGH/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER S. Loop 336 W., Conroe. Broth & Brine specializes in “colorful, well-seasoned” dishes that are made from whole food ingredients, according to its website. 281-451-5896. www.brothandbrine.co EXPANSIONS Tomball-based food delivery business Food’s Here expanded into Conroe and Montgomery on Oct. 19. Started in 2017 by Tomball native Mitchell Bethea, the company offers food delivery services in partnership with local restaurants in the Tomball, Magnolia, Brenham, Conroe and Montgomery areas. In addition to franchise eateries, such as Panera Bread and Wingstop, Food’s Here has partnered with local Conroe- and Montgomery-area restaurants, such as Uncle Bob’s BBQ Montgomery and Pizza Shack. 832-777-3598. www.foodsheretexas.com NEWOWNERSHIP 8 The Rush Cycle Woodforest location reopened on Oct. 5 after a change in ownership earlier this year, according to co-owner Sara Dillard. The indoor cycling and spin studio, located at 2300 Woodforest Parkway N., Ste. 500, Mont- gomery, is now owned by Sara Dillard and her husband, Nick Dillard, as well as by co-owners Adriana and Jesse Marshall. In addition to instructor-led, high-intensity workout classes for all experience levels, Rush Cycle also offers athleisure apparel. 936-288-3800. www.rushcycle.com/woodforest

6

POLLOK DR.

2

149

3083

75

336

KEENAN CUT OFF RD.

CONROE

2854

3

WOODFOREST PKWY.

336

4

7

8

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

149

NOWOPEN 1 Ski Dock , a full-service boat dealer, opened a new location at 17720 Hwy. 105 W., Conroe, on Oct. 24. The Con- roe location represents Centurion and Supreme boat lines. In addition to boat sales, parts, accessories and service, staff is available to answer questions related to wakeboards, water skis and more. 936-288-8088. www.skidock.com 2 The Conroe Morning Market debuted at Open Arms Boutique, located at 3501 N. Frazier St., Conroe, on Oct. 31. The market features 20 vendors, food trucks, and space for small businesses and non- profits to give back. It is open 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturdays. https://houstonmoring markets.square.site 3 Mattress By Appointment of Conroe opened Nov. 1 at 3401 W. Davis St., Ste. G, Conroe. This franchise location is a Veteran-owned family business. Most business is conducted by appointment, allowing customers to shop without 1488

COMING SOON 5 CKNaturals Dispensary , a cannabidiol product provider, is slated to open at 15865 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 3, Montgomery, in late November. The business will offer a number of CBD items, including hemp flower, oils and edible products. 361-649-7766. https://cknaturalsdispensary.com 6 LaserWeld , a sheet and plate metal fabricating company, has purchased a manufacturing facility in Conroe Park North, according to a Nov. 2 news release from Archway Properties, the company that developed the building. The new location at 3479 Pollok Drive, Conroe, will be LaserWeld’s second location in Greater Houston. The 71,750-square-foot building was completed in 2017. 713-935-0815. www.laserweldinc.com 7 Broth & Brine Dedicated Craft Kitch- en , a gluten-free restaurant, is expected to open in December at the TransMed Health and Wellness Center. The center held a grand opening Nov. 5 at 2510 WEST FORK SAN JACINTO RIVER 1314 1488 45

being rushed, Owner Devin Green said. Almost every item is in stock, so custom- ers can take the mattress with them the same day or have it delivered, and prices are generally lower than at major retail stores, he said. 281-839-8369. https://mattressbyappointment.com/ locations/tx/conroe/ 4 The University of St. Thomas held a ribbon-cutting for its microcampus, the USTMAX Center, on Oct. 20 at 336 N. Main St., Conroe. St. Thomas is Mont- gomery County’s only private, four-year university, according to UST. The store- front serves as a recruiting and academic microcampus, providing direct access to faculty and staff members. There are currently 14 degree programs and three certificate programs offered, and online programs will continue to be added based on input from the community, officials said. Programs include business, education, technology, nursing and three faith-based programs. 713-522-7911. www.stthom.edu

242

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4 | JOIN US ONLINE TO HEAR FROM THIS TWO-TIME NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER | WWW.JOHNCOOPER.ORG/SIGNATURES

7

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

Houston, we’ve got you covered. Getting the most from Medicare means partnering with a provider who understands health care � and Houston � like no one else. Memorial Hermann Medicare Advantage HMO is the only Medicare Advantage Plan backed by the Memorial Hermann Health System � trusted by Houstonians for over 100 years. With plans starting at $0 monthly premium*, Memorial Hermann Advantage plans provide additional benefits not covered by Original Medicare: + Access to telehealth services + Preventive screenings and services at no additional cost + No referrals needed to see any network specialist + Prescription drug coverage (Part D) + Dental, vision and hearing benefits + Over-the-counter benefit on the new Plus HMO plan + National/worldwide urgent care and emergency coverage + Health and fitness benefits

Enroll by December 7 for your 2021 coverage. memorialhermannadvantage.org

For more information call 1.855.582.6548 (TTY 711)

*You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. Benefits and features vary by plan. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Call the plan for more information. Memorial Hermann Advantage HMO is provided by Memorial Hermann Health Plan, Inc., a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in this plan depends on contract renewal. Memorial Hermann Advantage complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability or sex. ATENCIÓN: Si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1.855.582.6548 (TTY 711). Copyright © 2020 Memorial Hermann. All rights reserved. H7115_MKPrintAd21_M CMS Accepted 8/22/2020

8

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

November & December events

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

21 PARTICIPATE INA TURKEY TROT The City of Conroe Parks and Recreation presents its Turkey Trot, a 5K race that is family- and pet-friendly. 9 a.m. (start). $20 (advance registration), $25 (day of registration). Carl Barton, Jr. Park, 2500 S. Loop 336 E., Conroe. 936-522-3900. www.cityofconroe.org DECEMBER 01 SEE A TREE LIGHTING Celebrate the start of the holidays in Conroe with the city’s tree lighting and other Christmas activities for guests of all ages. 6 p.m. Free. Heritage Place, 500 Metcalf St., Conroe. www.cityofconroe.org 05 BROWSE AHOLIDAYMARKET The Montgomery County Mistletoe Market includes 170 vendors, from home decor to homemade food. Children as well as teachers, rst responders and military members receive free entry with ID. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $5 (admission). Lone Star Convention Center 9055 Airport Road, Conroe. 281-610-8577. www.facebook.com/ montgomerycounty holidayextravaganza.com 05 ATTENDAMARKET Bridgewood Farms, a community helping intellectually and

NOVEMBER 14 TOURMODEL HOMES The Woodlands Hills, a master- planned community, hosts its Harvest in The Hills model home tour, featuring family-friendly outdoor activities and tours of 13 new homes. Activities include photo opportunities, caricature drawings, children’s activities, music, yoga, cooking demonstrations and a BMW car show. Social distancing and other precautions will be in place. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Founders Park, 1460 N. Teralyn Hills Drive, Conroe. www.thewoodlandshills.com/ harvestinthehills 20 THROUGH 21 ENJOY BARBECUE FUN Nonprot organization God’s Garage hosts a barbecue cooko beginning Nov. 20 for teams with family-friendly activities Nov. 21. Activities include corn hole, horseshoe and BB gun tournaments; craft vendors; a bounce house; children’s activities; live music; and a children’s Iron Chef competition. Sample barbecue from noon-3 p.m. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Nov. 21). $5 (barbecue), $10 (tournament entries), $200 (barbecue entry). 2106 E. Davis St., Conroe. www.facebook.com/ godsgaragecar

DEC. 12

WATCH THEMONTGOMERY HOLIDAY PARADE HISTORIC MONTGOMERY

The Montgomery Holiday Parade features a “Lone Star Christmas” theme as it winds through Historic Downtown Montgomery. The day’s activities also include the holiday market with arts and craft vendors hosted by the Montgomery Historical Society, and the Annual Cookie Walk and Annual Candlelight Home Tour. 9-11 a.m. (parade), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (holiday activities). Free. Historic Downtown Montgomery. 936-597-6434. www.montgomerytexas.gov

developmentally delayed individuals, hosts a vendor market—from food to clothing and handmade holiday decor— outdoor children’s activities, photos with Santa and a rae. Proceeds go to assist Bridgewood clients. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free (admission). 11680 Rose Road, Conroe. www.bridgewoodfarms.org 05 SEE HOLIDAY LIGHTS The city of Montgomery presents Light Up the Park 2020 with caroling, photos with Santa, holiday lights and letters to Santa. 6 p.m. Free. Cedar Brake

Park, 21358 Eva St., Montgomery. 936-597-6437. www.montgomerytexas.gov 12 ENJOY CHRISTMAS IN DOWNTOWN CONROE Conroe’s Christmas festival includes snow hills, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, train rides, a live Nativity and camel rides as well as a children’s Christmas parade. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 1 p.m. (parade). Free (admission). Heritage Place, 500 Metcalf St., Conroe. www.cityofconroe.org

Find more or submit Conroe and Montgomery 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.

FREE 2021 SPRING TUITION for New Students Enrolling in a Technology Associate’s Degree Program USTMAX.com

U S T MA X C e n t e r 3 3 6 N . M a i n S t r e e t C o n r o e , T X 7 7 3 0 1

9

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

TxDOTmarks 20yearsof daily roaddeaths

ONGOING PROJECTS

New bridge, road extension The city of Conroe is building a four-lane roadway extension from Pollok Drive to Farrell Road, which includes the bridge

With the last deathless day being Nov. 7, 2000, the Texas Department of Transportation marked two decades of daily roadway deaths Nov. 7. An average of 10 people have died each day on roadways in Texas for the past 20 years, according to TxDOT. As such, TxDOT’s #Endthes- treak campaign—a social media, word-of-mouth, grassroots effort—encourages drivers to adopt behaviors to avoid a fatal crash. “We can end the streak of daily

deaths in Texas, and we can reach zero roadway deaths in Houston. It is up to us. It’s literally in our hands,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan said in a Nov. 5 release. “Let’s not let another Texas family down.” Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing traffic counts to lessen by 40% earlier this year in the Greater Houston area, the death rate increased by 1% in the area during that time, according to a Nov. 5 release.

FARRELL RD.

over Crystal Creek. Cost: $12.5 million

POLLOK DR.

Timeline: April 2020-April 2021 Funding source: city of Conroe

N P

N

Hwy. 105 widening A project by the Texas Department of Transportation widening Hwy. 105 from 10th Street to South Loop 336 is slated for bids in June 2022. Cost: $38 million New traffic signal The city of Conroe is adding a traffic signal at North Loop 336 and Montgomery Park Boulevard. Cost: $245,684 Timeline: Oct. 22, 2020-April 2021 Funding source: city of Conroe

MONTGOMERY PARK BLVD.

336

N

DEADLY DRIVING

The Texas Transportation Commission adopted a goal in 2019 of having half as many fatalities on Texas roadways by 2035 and zero deaths by 2050.

The three deadliest driving behaviors include:

N. 10TH ST.

Impaired driving

Speeding

Distracted driving

1

2

3

105

336

In Houston, the leading cause of deadly crashes is failure to stay in the driver’s lane, which could be caused by the three driving behaviors.

Timeline: June 2022-TBD Funding source: TxDOT

N

SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF NOV. 5. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

PREMIER HOMES

Your Greater Houston Franklin Homes Dealer

Affordable Q uality

LIFETIME HOME WARRANTY on All New Homes!

Proudly serving our neighbors for over 35 years!

$5 WORTH OF with any $40 purchase FREE Produce Expires 12/16/2020

Covers the whole house including HVAC System, Electrical, Plumbing and Appliances.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!

936-264-3335 premierhomesconroe@gmail.com

12886 Hwy 105 East Conroe, TX 77306

Lic#: 35865

16050 WALDEN RD, MONTGOMERY TX 77356 936�582�4600 � Visit us on

It’s grilling time!

10

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GOVERNMENT Montgomery County to build $11.8Mforensic center in Conroe

WE’VE RUNOUT OF SPACE IN OUR COOLERSONNUMEROUS OCCASIONS THIS YEAR. DR. KATHRYN PINNERI, MONTGOMERY COUNTY FORENSIC CENTER DIRECTOR

BY EVA VIGH

the county’s population grew and new hospitals opened, the workload skyrocketed, she said. “Our caseload has increased every year since then,” she said. “Since 2014, our caseload has completely doubled.” In December 2016, the Conroe Regional Medical Center—now HCA Houston Conroe—achieved Level 2 Trauma Center designation, open- ing it up as a major trauma center. Several major hospitals also opened or expanded in 2017, which meant the number of autopsies increased, Pinneri said. That same year, the forensic center was designated as an oce of death investigation to help justices of the peace handle their workload, which increased over 40% from 2013 to 2017, Pinneri said. Now, the center is stretched to the limit, she said. There are problems with the ventilation and air condition- ing. There is not enough oce space, so sta meetings are held outdoors. The coolers can only store about 20 bodies, so overow bodies are refrig- erated in shipping containers. “It just wasn’t built to handle the current caseload,” Pinneri said. “We’ve run out of space in our coolers on numerous occasions this year.” New facility Around 2016, county ocials began to seriously discuss the need for a new center, Riley said. They formed a committee, which he co-chaired, and held meetings with various stakeholders.

Montgomery County commission- ers approved seeking construction bids for a new $11.8 million forensic center during a Sept. 22 meeting. The center will better serve the county after years of burgeoning caseloads and a lack of space in the current facility, which has resulted in bodies being stored in refrigerated shipping containers, ocials said. Before the current forensic center was built in 2011 on Hilbig Road in Conroe, Montgomery County used to contract with other counties such as Harris and Dallas to perform autop- sies. The process of transporting bodies was tedious and costly, and years later, ocials still recall the emotional toll. “I had this poor grandmother call me every two weeks for nine months wanting to know why her child passed away, and she was crying, and I didn’t have an answer for her,” Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts said. In 2011, the county repurposed an old RV storage space to a forensic center. It was not originally designed to store bodies—morgues require special insulation and ventilation— but for a while, it worked, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. “We all knew … that this was a temporary solution,” Riley said. For the rst three to four years of operation, the center had about 400-540 cases annually, said Dr. Kathryn Pinneri, the center’s director, who came on board in 2016. But as

Existing location

HOLLOMAN ST.

336

The forensic center sometimes has to store bodies in refrigerated shipping containers when space runs out. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

N

In September 2019, commissioners approved a $1.2 million contract with PGAL, an architecture rm. Riley said the county has budgeted $11.8 million from its Capital Improvements Projects for the rst phase. The rst phase is the creation of the new forensic center, which is esti- mated to take two years to build. The center, which will have up to three times the space, can be expanded with a crime lab and forensics lab, the other two phases, which could be built out in the next 20 or 30 years. The center will sit on an 8-acre prop- erty by the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, and other counties could potentially contract to use the center, Riley said. Entities such as the Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce, the Conroe Police Department and local re departments rely on the current forensic center to conduct indepen- dent death investigations. Mont- gomery County Fire Marshall Jimmy Williams said all re fatalities require autopsies because oftentimes the cause of death is not obvious. “We have found in some autopsies in the past this victim was found dead in the re, but they were shot or

GROWING CASELOADS

The new center is needed to provide more storage and space. Existing center opened in 2011, conducting 400-540 cases annually

Since then, caseload has doubled

Current storage units hold about 20 bodies

New center will have up to 3 times as much storage space

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY FORENSIC CENTERCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

stabbed,” he said. Pinneri said although the new facil- ity may seem costly, it is needed. “I know there’s been some push- back as to whether Montgomery County needs this new forensic center. I can tell you 100% we do,” she said. “Even though our work is with individuals who have died, we service the living.”

YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE CAN BE SECURE, IN SPITE OF COVID-19.

We are here to help — Call us today!

832-585-0110 | www.hfgwm.com | info@hfgwm.com

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

NEWS BRIEFS Conroe ISDaims tomaintain innovation status

$800K in CARES Actmoneywill convert Lone Star Convention Center for jury, courthouse

BY BEN THOMPSON

that may result from the district’s renewal this year could relate to the certification of career and technical education instructors. “The one thing that has come up over the last five years that’s been requested has been several districts in our area have a waiver for the area of CTE certification, which is specifi- cally related to hard-to-fill positions in the manufacturing areas, such as welding, collision and repair, auto- motive technology, health science and computer science,” he said. The board of trustees unanimously voted to renew the designation and to appoint the existing District-Level Planning and Decision-Making Com- mittee as the District of Innovation Plan Committee, which will develop the revised innovation plan. Hines said in late October a draft plan will be made available online for a 30-day review period before final recommendations are set. The new innovation plan is expected to be brought before the board for approval in December.

The Conroe ISD board of trust- ees decided Oct. 20 it will seek to maintain its status as a District of Innovation. The District of Innovation designa- tion, which was first established by the Texas Legislature in 2015, allows school districts with state account- ability ratings of C or above to use certain exemptions related to class sizes, school year schedules, and teacher contracts and certifications. “This District of Innovation [designation] provides an opportu- nity to design an innovation plan according to the needs and resources of our district. It maximizes local control; it increases local flexibility; it provides a local option other than the formal waiver option that we still use,” Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said. CISD began pursuing its first innovation district designation in fall 2016 and approved its initial plan that December. Hines said the main change

BY VANESSA HOLT

into courthouse rooms in terms of safety. Certain trials require fewer jurors, but larger cases will require enough space for 200 to 300 pro- spective jurors at a time, he said. Jurors will need technology to be able to see and hear presentations and otherwise interact with the judge and attorneys safely, he said. The convention center’s function for courthouse proceedings will not affect other events, Millsaps said. Officials said details about the security measures could not be discussed during the open session.

Jury selection in Montgomery County will move to the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center at a cost of about $800,000 for security and technology enhancements after a Commissioners Court decision Oct. 27. Jason Millsaps, the chief of staff for County Judge Mark Keough, said the money will come from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds and that it will allow the Office of Emergency Management to convert rooms in the convention center

CONVERTING TOA COURTHOUSE The Lone Star Convention and Expo Center in Conroe will undergo upgrades to allow jury selection to occur in a socially distanced space. Up to 200-300

The Lone Star Convention and Expo Center is 56,000 square feet in size.

$800,000 in federal funds will go toward technology and security upgrades.

prospective jurors will need to assemble at a time.

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

22 YEARS IN ASSISTED LIVING CARE • Safety is our first priority • Big heart in a small setting • Giving you the freedom to

enjoy your relationship while we coordinate the care for your loved one.

713-419-2609 | www.unlimitedcarecottages.com

Celebrate the holidays with a Flour-ish Pre-order by calling or visiting us in-store

T H E W O O D L A N D S CLASSICAL ACADEMY SM

Catering, Private Parties, Local Delivery Corporate and holiday gifts Charcuterie boxes Special order desserts

CURRENTLY ENROLLING GRADES K–8 TUITION-FREE | NOW ENROLLING 6565 Research Forest Dr., The Woodlands, TX 77381 936-235-3313 (Hablamos Español) | Woodlands-Classical.com

From business meetings to brunch with friends, we're bringing something new to historic downtown Conroe. 406 North Thompson Street, Conroe, TX, 77301 936-521-1007 | www.flour-ish.com

CONNECT WITH US

12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Nov. 3 election sees higher turnout, new leaders Key takeaways from the Nov. 3 election in Montgomery County include a $100.15 million bond in Willis on day one,” Walker said. In Conroe, Jody Czajkoski was BY EVA VIGH

GREEN LIGHT FOR WILLIS ISD BOND Voters approved the $100.15 million bond with 54.67% in favor. The bond will not require a tax rate increase, WISD officials said. $2.16 million each Gyms at Turner, Meador, Cannan and Parmley elementary schools

VOTER TURNOUT

Montgomery County saw an increase in total voter turnout compared to the 2016 presidential election.

elected mayor with 55.54% of votes. Meanwhile, 15,140 voters cast their ballot for deceased Mayor Toby Powell, who died Sept. 12 and remained post- humously on the ballot. Czajkoski will be sworn in in late November, but as of press time a date had not been set. “It’s Conroe’s time to shine,” he said. “I am so humbled by the faith placed in me by the voters of Conroe.”

ISD passing, a Conroe City Council runoff and new faces in Montgomery ISD. Voters also selected Republican Robert Walker as Montgomery County Precinct 1 commissioner. “I have always been a businessman and never thought I would be in politics, but I am ready to go to work

2016

208,310 votes out of 313,858 registered voters

$21.88 million New pre-K center $14.06 million Classroom additions at Lucas Middle School

66.37%

TOTAL $100.15M

2020

272,805 out of 372,882 registered voters

73.16%

NEWFACES AT MONTGOMERY ISD

The district will see three newcomers sworn in to the board of trustees in mid-November, including two challengers who beat incumbents.

$55.57 million Facility improvements

New members

CONROE PLACE 5 HEADS TO RUNOFF

With no candidate garnering a majority of votes, the top two will head to a runoff for City Council, which will likely be held in mid-December, according to city staff.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THE CITY FACES? NOTE: CANDIDATE RESPONSES ARE FROM PREVIOUS Q&A.

LAURIE TURNER Position 3

MIKE HOPKINS Position 1

SHAWN DENISON Position 2

59.69% of votes

70.31% of votes

70.65% of votes

MARSHA PORTER

KELLEY INMAN

Growth, need for strong conservative tree ordinance, and COVID-19

Infrastructure and mobilization, and responsible spending

Beat challenger Ron Herridge

Beat incumbent Jim Dossey

Beat incumbent Adam Simmons

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY ELECTIONS OFFICE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

What does it take to build a strong relationship? If you bank with Amegy, it's more communication, more collaboration and more commitment. The kind of teamwork that each one of the business owners we work with can count on at every stage of our relationship. And you can get the same. So whether it's for your family or for your business, we believe our unique way of banking is for you.

Family. Business. Banking ® .

Learn more at amegybank.com/relationships or call 713-232-2389 to speak with a Family Business Banker.

MORE COMMITMENT ADFANIE SMITH GRAY Owner, The Spot

JEVAUGHN STERLING Amegy Banker

A division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC © 2020 Zions Bancorporation, N.A.

13

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

DINING FEATURE

BY EVA VIGH

The Voodoo Po-Boy ($13.99) features breaded shrimp tossed in a spicy sauce.

The Crabby Salmon ($32.99) is topped with blue crab and lemon butter sauce.

Cheryl and John Morris and son Aaron opened Monty’s Lighthouse in October 2019. (Photos by Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

Monty’s Lighthouse Cajun seafood diner oers peaceful atmosphere with waterfront view I t was during the 2008 economic crash that husband and wife John and Cheryl Morris decided they were going to buy a restaurant. The couple had lived in Canada, New York and Florida and had been in the restaurant business for 25

The spot was a regular hangout space for bargoers, the Morrises said, but they had other plans. They purchased the restaurant, reconstructed and redesigned it, and in October 2019 opened Monty’s Lighthouse—a Cajun seafood diner. Their son, Aaron Morris, said the vision behind Monty’s was to deliver a beautiful restaurant with a bar, a great view, outdoor seating and delicious food with a focus on the people of Montgomery—hence the inspiration behind the name. “We heard from what people in Montgomery wanted,” he said. “They want good seafood.” Menu items include crawsh, stued ounder, shrimp and grits, Cajun pasta and po’boys. John said he takes pride in the

restaurant’s cleanliness and layout, which the family designed and built themselves. The Morrises worked together to remodel and decorate—from the water, the restaurant is designed to look like a lighthouse. Although the Morrises still own Fajita Jacks—often running between the buildings throughout the day— the atmosphere between the two is dierent, they said. Fajita Jacks is family oriented and casual. Mean- while, Monty’s is a bit more upscale and subdued with quiet music. Monty’s is a place to enjoy a drink, such as a pina colada, while enjoying the waterfront view, John said. “We wanted to create something special,” he said.

Mardi Gras Pasta ($13.99) features fettucini, sausage and grilled chicken.

Monty’s Lighthouse 15250 Hwy. 105, Montgomery 936-588-1212 www.montyslighthouse.com Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

years. They looked at restaurants all over the country before deciding to move to Texas in 2009 to buy Fajita Jacks, a restaurant in Montgomery. “Texas was always vibrant,” John said. The couple bought Fajita Jacks and moved it to its current location at the Waterpoint Shopping Center on Lake Conroe. Then, they set their eyes on the restaurant across the parking lot: Sam’s Boat, a Houston-based Gulf Coast kitchen and sports bar.

LAKE CONROE

105

N

when you order online or on our mobile app before 5pm* Delivery & pick up Same Day

Curbside Pick Up Available at Select Locations!

twinliquors.com

*Some restrictions apply. You must be 21+ to shop and order online, receive delivery, or pick up in store. All deliveries require in-person verification of a legal photo ID at point of delivery. Orders will NOT be left unattended. Limited delivery area and pick up only available at select locations. All in-store promotions and pricing do not apply to online order. Exclusions apply. Please drink responsibly.

14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PEOPLE

BY EVA VIGH

R.A. ‘Mickey’ Deison Jr. Community remembers legacy of former Conroe mayor and Montgomery County judge

Today, one of the air trac control towers is named after Deison. Deison negotiated for new devel- opment as well, envisioning the Conroe Industrial Park and bringing advanced technological rms to the county, Foerster said. In 2013, Conroe’s 248-acre Deison Technology Park was named after him, according to the Conroe Industrial Development Corp. The CIDC signed the park’s rst occupant, plasmid DNA manufacturer VGXI, earlier this year. “I believe he hoped that the park would spur development at both the airport and throughout Conroe,” said Danielle Scheiner, the executive director of the Conroe Economic Development Council. “Hopefully, his vision is now beginning to be realized.” Penny Wilson, the chief operating ocer of Yes to Youth Montgomery County Youth Services, said she recalled seeing Deison volunteer for the organization multiple times. Wilson said she learned later on that Deison was the county judge who asked for the organization to be

R.A. “Mickey” Deison Jr.—former Montgomery County judge, mayor of Conroe and the namesake of the Deison Technology Park in Conroe—died Oct. 13, but his legacy will continue to live on, community leaders said. Deison served two terms as the mayor of Conroe from 1971-74. In 1977, he was appointed county judge, a role in which he served until 1982, when he stepped away from politics to focus on his law practice. Deison also was involved with several boards, including the Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce, the Montgomery County Fair Association, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Conroe Noon Kiwanis Club. “He did what was needed to be done, not for any self-glory,” said Larry Foerster, an attorney in Conroe

and chairman of the Montgomery County Historical Commission. “He did it because he loved the county.” Foerster, who was serving as the county’s assistant district attorney, said he was encouraged by Deison in 1980 to run for county attorney. “I got elected, ... and I got to see rsthand how he led the county during some pretty challenging times,” he said. That era saw tremendous growth as the county began to burgeon from its rural roots to become more of the metropolitan place it is today, Foerster said. “Mickey had the vision—like very few other people at the time—to see the potential of Montgomery County,” he said. Deison, an avid pilot, saw the Conroe-North Houston Regional Air- port as underutilized, Foerster said.

Mickey Deison, who served two terms as the mayor of Conroe, speaks at a city event. (Courtesy Larry Foerster) created back in the late 1970s. Prior to the organization’s creation, the coun- ty’s youth who lacked stable, reliable homes would have to spend their nights in the county jail, she said. “I had no idea when he rst started coming and donating as a volunteer, how long he had been a supporter,” she said. Foerster said that was how Deison tended to operate: without asking for recognition. “He will never get all the credit that he is due, but that’s not what he was looking for,” he said.

i n

i t

LOCALLY OWNED & OPERATED!

IT WILL RUN FROM 11 AM-1:00 PM. THOSE WHO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A HAIRSTYLE AND/OR MAKEUP ($10) WILL HAVE A SCHEDULED TIME FOR PHOTOS. EVERYONE ELSE WILL BE FIRST COME FIRST SERVED NOV 14TH, NOV 21ST, DEC 5TH, DEC 12TH AND DEC 19TH. 19380 HWY 105 W. SUITE 505 | MONTGOMERY, TX 77356 | (936) 448-8050 TUESDAY = $5 HAIRCUT, MANICURE OR PEDICURE FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

An Eye onn

spike A in layoffs

Due to economic declines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil and gas downturn, unemployment rates are exponentially higher in Montgomery County than they were last year.

insecurity

UNEMPLOYMENT CLA IMS

2019

2020

6K 5K 4K 3K 2K 1K 0

5,929

Experts said food insecurity is often a result of economic insecurity. With unemployment rates up in 2020, food insecurity is also expected to rise.

insecuri ty food n

213

Feeding America, a nationwide hunger-relief organization, projects food insecurity rates to increase in 2020 as many families will be food insecure for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

Paycheck L iving to paycheck

Montgomery County Food Insecurity Rates

2018

2020*

Households that are asset limited, income constrained and employed—known as ALICE—earn more than the federal poverty level but not enough to cover the basic cost of living in their county. According to 2018 point-in-time data, the number of ALICE households in Montgomery County increased by 20% from 2016-18.

25.5%

Children Overall population

18.5%

12.5%

16.1%

*ESTIMATED

Census- designated place

Poverty Below ALICE Above ALICE

“WE HAVE A LOT OF FOLKS THAT HAVE NEVERNEEDEDASSISTANCE BEFORE THAT ARE HAVING TO COME OUT FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE.” JENNIFER LANDERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE CENTER

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

Willis

1 , 845

14%

47%

40%

33 , 852

Conroe

13%

41%

46%

18%

27%

56%

334

Montgomery

SOURCES: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, FEEDING AMERICA, UNITED FOR ALICE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Pandemicamplies food insecurity inConroe,Montgomery CONTINUED FROM 1 NOTE: NUMBERS ARE ROUNDED SO FIGURES MAY NOT ADD UP TO 100%.

713-224-3426 1403 Spring Cypress Rd Spring

Marlow, the president and CEO of the Montgomery County Food Bank. The Texas Workforce Commission reported a total of 60,347 unem- ployment claims from Montgomery County residents from early March to mid-October, up from 7,138 claims during the same time last year—which is a 745.43% increase year over year. “When the pandemic began ... in March, a lot of people lost their jobs or found themselves in a place where they couldn’t pay their bills or were not able to afford food,” Marlow said. “So, the food bank ... increased their giving and the way that they were dis- Celia Cole, the CEO of hunger relief organization Feeding Texas, said food insecurity is directly related to eco- nomic insecurity. “For some, that means an intermit- tent bout of hunger toward the end of the month when funds are low,” Cole said. “For others, it’s a constant state of hunger and reduced access to food.” At the height of the pandemic from April to June, Landers said the tributing food.” Financial strains

nonprofit saw a 1,043% increase in the amount of food being served to individuals. Landers said many of these new faces are households that fall under the ALICE threshold—households that are asset limited, income constrained and employed, according to research by United For ALICE, a national finan- cial hardship research project. For these households, families often earn more than the federal poverty level, but it is still not enough to cover the basic cost of living. While 14%and 13%of households in the census-designated places of Willis and Conroe, respectively, lived under the federal poverty level in 2019, almost 47% and 41%, respectively, lived below the ALICE threshold. In Montgomery, 27% of households lived under the ALICE threshold, while 18% lived below the poverty line. “[For] some of these folks that are ... middle class or upper middle class—just because they’re making great money and doing well doesn’t mean they’re not living paycheck to paycheck,” Landers said.

BY DANICA LLOYD AND ADRIANA REZAL

The demand for services to com- bat food insecurity in the Conroe and Montgomery area has significantly increased as a result of the coronavi- rus pandemic, according to local non- profit organizations. “This pandemic is different ... from anything anyone has ever seen,” said Jennifer Landers, the executive direc- tor of Community Assistance Center, a Conroe-based essential assistance organization. “We have a lot of folks that have never needed assistance before that are having to come out for financial assistance [and] for food assistance.” Even before the onset of the pan- demic this spring, about 12.5% of Montgomery County’s population struggled with food insecurity—a term defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Higher unemployment rates this year have since driven an increase in food insecurity, and the area has seen a greater need for food, said Kristine

Saving people money on more than just car insurance. ®

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

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

Conroe, Montgomery Feeding

Many local resources are available for residents needing food assistance.

Landers said the Community Assistance Center in Montgomery County has seen a 600% increase in food assistance and 200% increase in financial assistance needs compared to last year. At the pandemic’s onset in late March, Landers said an esti- mated 500 families came to collect food donations at the organization’s weekly Saturday market, which usu- ally serves fewer than 300. According to Landers, an influx of community support through vol- unteers and donations has helped the organizations meet increased demand. “Our community is incredibly giv- ing and incredibly resilient,” Land- ers said. “We have had so many new volunteers come out and join us and start helping; so many new donors come out and step up and make sure that we have what we need.” The Montgomery County Food Bank has also seen a greater demand for food donations, as the organiza- tion has offered over 150 mobile mar- kets since the pandemic began this spring compared to 33 markets total last year. Marlow said the food bank has served 6.9 million meals to an estimated 462,000 individuals since March. With the holiday season around the corner, Marlow said more resources and volunteers will be needed to keep up the help and continue meet- ing needs. “[In] seeing businesses that still have not opened up yet, still seeing the schools that are struggling to be at max capacity, … there are still ... thousands of people being laid off. We’re prepared to keep up this pace for just, you know, as long as we need to,” Marlow said.

1 Food for LifeWay, Conroe 936-271-8800 https://mcfoodbank.org

110W. Montgomery St., Willis 936-856-8317 www.facebook.com/tlcfoodpantry

Montgomery Count y Food Bank

TLC food pantry

330GardenOaks Blvd., Houston 713-695-5437 https://kidsmealsinc.org

3205W. Davis St., Conroe 936-709-7752 www.conroeisd.net 20774 Eva St., Montgomery 936-276-2000 www.misd.org

Montgomery Count y K ids ’ Meal s

Conroe I SD

1022McCall Ave., Conroe 936-539-9239 https://cac-mctx.org

Communi t y Ass i stance Center

Montgomery I SD

SOURCES: LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Effects of food insecurity Local organizations and food pan- tries try to provide nutritious food to those in need, as food insecurity often leads to a poor diet, which can cause heart disease, obesity and other health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Marlow said over 44% of food given out by the Montgomery County Food Bank, located in Conroe, is nutritious items such as fresh produce, dairy and meat. Residents in Texas spend the sec- ond most per capita on health care costs associated with food insecurity among all states, according to a 2019 study from Preventing Chronic Dis- ease , a journal sponsored by the CDC. “If you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from ... or how you’re going to keep a roof over everyone else’s head, you can’t even begin to think about stabilizing,” Landers said. “A lot of the folks we’re seeing are just in survival mode.” School districts and local organi- zations have also worked to supply food to children during this time. Montgomery ISD distributed 15,388 free curbside meals from March to May for students as campuses were closed this spring and summer. Willis

groceries for low-income families. But according to Feeding Texas, the program covers only about $1.26 of the $2.80 it costs to purchase a nutritious meal at the average Montgomery County grocery store. Community organizations can help families fill the gap. Kids’ Meals is one such nonprofit ramping up to meet an increased demand for food services in Mont- gomery County, specifically against childhood hunger. With 14 years of service in Harris County, the organiza- tion expanded its services into Mont- gomery County in 2019 to provide food for families with children who are too young to attend school. Laran Cone, the Montgomery County expansion route director for Kids’ Meals, said the program typi- cally serves preschoolers who are not enrolled in school yet to receive free meals. “With all the kids home and extra families coming on the program because … they’re out of work [or] they don’t have the funds to provide, ... we’re just trying to keep them from being homeless,” Cone said. “Basi- cally, we’re trying to help them feed their kids so they don’t have to won- der if they have to feed the kids or pay their electric bill or pay the rent.”

ISD provided 297,954 free meals from April to October, according to the dis- trict. Conroe ISD also provided meals but did not provide the number dis- tributed before press time. According to Feeding America, 12.5% of Montgomery County’s over- all population and 18.5% of its chil- dren were considered food insecure in 2018. Due in part to the pandemic, those numbers in 2020 are projected to be 16.1% and 25.5%, respectively, as of press time. School districts are partnering with the USDA to continue offering on-campus and curbside meals free to all students regardless of financial need throughout the 2020-21 school year, the USDA announced in an Oct. 9 press release. “As our nation recovers and reopens, we want to ensure that children continue to receive the nutritious breakfasts and lunches they count on during the school year wherever they are, and however they are learning,” U.S. Secretary of Agri- culture Sonny Perdue said in the release. Nonprofits step up Federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can help offset the cost of

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

1855 Longmire Road Conroe 77304 936-760-1911 | www.wcbc.us

JOIN US FOR ��������� ��� �������� 3:00 & 4:30

Come join us on December 11, 12, and 13 for the Miracle of Christmas, a Christmas celebration featuring the orchestra and combined choirs of West Conroe Baptist Church. Concert begins at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:00 pm

@westconroebaptistchurch @westconroebaptistchurch

17

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24

communityimpact.com

Powered by