Tomball - Magnolia Edition | July 2020

TOMBALL MAGNOLIA EDITION

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 10  JULY 7AUG. 3, 2020

ONLINE AT

Reimagining education Tomball, Magnolia ISDs grapple with fall plans, await state guidance

SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

BY ANNA LOTZ

Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact Newspaper ’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Any amount matters. Together, we can continue to ensure our citizens stay informed and keep our local businesses thriving. Become a #CommunityPatron

Students could see about ve months of lost learning by the time they go back to school this fall as a result of forced school closures this spring and the usual sum- mer setback in learning, according to a national study examining how spring school closures aected student learning. “We think learning loss by back to school may be up to a high of 49%,” said Stuart Udell, an author of the study and the CEO of Achieve 3000, a supplemental reading program used nationwide, including in Tomball ISD. School facilities in the Greater Houston area closed in mid-March to help slow the spread of the coronavi- rus, and districts were forced to roll out remote learn- ing quickly to continue the school year. Now, as districts look forward to school resuming in August, guidelines released by the Texas Education Agency on June 23 oer districts two options to deliver instruction remotely alongside on-campus learning to receive state funding in 2020-21, including synchronous—or real-time—and asynchronous—or self-paced—remote learning. CONTINUED ON 34

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Tomball ISD said in a June 24 letter it will resume classes Aug. 18 as planned. (Dylan Sherman/Community Impact Newspaper)

IMPACTS

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2020 EDI T ION REAL ESTATE

HomessellingfasterdespiteCOVID19pandemic

BY DYLAN SHERMAN

over year compared to 2019. However, homes sold in May were on the market an average of 55 days, down from 73 days in May 2019, HAR data shows. Despite the drop in sales this spring, local real estate agents said they started to see business pick up in June. Ray Wade, a real estate broker and the owner of Legacy Texas Properties

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Homes are selling faster year over year in Tomball and Magnolia with fewer homes on the market as the region rides out the coronavirus pan- demic, according to data from the Houston Association of Realtors. Home sales for March-May in the six ZIP codes in the Greater Tomball and Magnolia area dropped 6.8% year

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Homes spent 55 days on the market on average in May, down from 73 days in May 2019 as there were fewer homes for sale in the region year over year. DAYS ON MARKET

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40.2 61.7 SOURCE: HOUSTON ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’ MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER 98.3 55.5 41.2

OFFICE VACANCY

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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

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Offering video visits with your doctor

Enhanced cleaning of equipment and surfaces

Adding evening and Saturday hours to space out appointments

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TOMBALL - MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN THE HAMMER MISSES THE NAIL AND FINDS YOURS?

Our ER is Open. Ready. And Safe. Emergencies are one-of-a-kind events. You don’t know when, or how, or where they’re going to happen. But you do know that when an emergency takes place, you’ll want an Emergency Room you can count on. Especially now, when our community continues to battle COVID-19, you need to know that there’s a hospital ER that’s open, ready, and safe for you and your family. And we are. For more information, visit us at StLukesHealth.org/Here-Always.

Here, always.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

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FROMCHRISSY: Our annual Real Estate Edition explores residential real estate trends in the Tomball and Magnolia areas, along with the ins and outs of renancing and looking ahead at the anticipated impact of COVID-19. In addition, our front-page story dives into a topic we are all anxiously awaiting details on: what the 2020-2021 school year will look like. I hope this special edition keeps you up to speed on what is happening in our community. If you have questions or story ideas, we would love to hear from you. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

Now Open, Coming Soon &more TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 8 Local construction projects NEWS BRIEFS 13 Tomball hospital names new CEO CITY& COUNTY 15 Tomball selects new police chief

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett, cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Anna Lotz REPORTER Dylan Sherman GRAPHIC DESIGNER Matthew T. Mills ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE April Halpin METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, TX. The company's mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across six metropolitan areas, providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMPATRON CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Parkway W., Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES tomnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

Real EstateEdition

FROMANNA: What a month. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, rallies and protests swept the nation in June. While we provide a local angle on these national happenings, we also continue providing you the news that is most important in your backyard: transportation, business, real estate and education. For example, did you know the next phase of Hwy. 249 is slated to open this month? Read more on Page 9. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

ATAGLANCE

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Tomball, Magnolia market data HOME IMPROVEMENTGUIDE 20 Simple home projects PEOPLE 23 Bruce McClenny, ApartmentData.com INSIDE INFORMATION 27 Renancing a home

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

Local sources 51

New businesses 10

Road updates 7

Thai restaurant 1

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Local coupons CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE All content in this print publication, both editorial and advertisements, was up to date as of the press deadline. Due to the fast-changing nature of this event, editorial and advertising information may have changed. Please visit communityimpact.com and advertiser websites for more information.

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

IMPACTS

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

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Moore House Interiors

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children and adults. 346-703-0399. www.facebook.com/ hair-la-vie-hair-salon-103407848043667 4 Rise Gym held its soft opening June 5 at 11703 Spring Cypress Road, Tomball. Rise Gym allows patrons to use gym equipment and also has personal trainers available. A grand opening will be held in July. Various physical educational courses may also be oered to the public, trainers and physical trainers. 281-702-4262. www.risegymtx.com 5 Ken’s K-9’s opened June 2 at 18252 FM 1488, Ste.100, in Magnolia. Ken’s K-9’s oers full dog grooming ser- vices as well as the option for customers to wash their own dogs with shampoo, conditioner, towels and other supplies provided by the business. The fami- ly-owned grooming service is trying to create a spa-like atmosphere where dogs are not kenneled while there. 346-703-2134. www.kenzundel15.wixsite.com/kensk9s 6 Hometown Spirits opened May 20 at 12131 Northpointe Blvd., Ste. 3, Tomball. The liquor store sells a variety of wines, spirits and beers. Hometown Spirits specializes in high-end wines and spirits. 281-205-7326. www.facebook.com/ hometown-spirits-111958820518741 7 North Houston Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic opened June 1 at 11011 Northpointe Blvd., Ste. C, Tomball. The clinic doctors include pediatrician Dr. Nalina Chandrasekharan and Dr. Raj Annamalai. The clinic eases the transition from pediatric care to adult care after patients turn 18 years old. Precautions are being taken to ensure patients’ safety during the coronavirus pandemic by allowing one patient at a time in the waiting room. Sta and patients are also

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TM; © 2019 COMMUNITY IMPACT CO. LICENSING, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

sponsor three maternity homes in Kenya for young girls who have become preg- nant. https://mercyhouseglobal.org 2 Moore House Interiors opened May 29 at 724 W. Main St., Tomball, featur- ing a new studio space and home goods store. Moore House Interiors is an interior design studio founded in 2015, specializ- ing in modern farmhouse style. Services include consultation, construction, space planning, furniture and nish selections, purchasing, installation and design.

The store is open by appointment only until further notice due to COVID-19. A grand opening celebration is tentatively planned for the fall. 832-698-4426. www.moorehouseinteriors.com 3 Hair La Vie’ Hair Salon opened May 15 at 1010 FM 1774, Ste. C, Magnolia. The salon is owned by longtime stylist Kay Parker, who has been working in the industry for 26 years. The salon oers all hair care needs, from highlights and haircuts to perms. The salon serves both

NOWOPEN 1 Mercy House Global , a nonprot organization supporting impoverished women around the world and founded by Kristen Welch, opened a new location at 418 W. Main St., Tomball, on June 16. The shop announced June 25, however, it would temporarily close amid COVID-19 precautions. Mercy House Global oers fair-trade jewelry, home decor and gift items from more than 100 artisan groups from more than 30 countries. Sales help

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Magnolia Office 6875 FM 1488 Magnolia,TX 77354 | 281.789.0411

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & DYLAN SHERMAN

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Havana House

Amira

COURTESY HAVANA HOUSE

COURTESY AMIRA

required to wear face masks, and tele- medicine is set up for patients. 281-246- 1100. www.northhoustonclinic.com 8 Arbor Trace , a new housing devel- opment, has opened at 33540 Orange Maple Way, Pinehurst, according to a June 22 news release. The development is spearheaded by Lennar and is its fourth nuHome Houston-area community. The site oers 94 homesites, ranging from one- to four-bedroom options, accord- ing to the release. Home prices begin at $150,000, with the square footage ranging between 1,174-2,229 square feet. www.lennar.com/new-homes/texas/ houston/pinehurst/arbor-trace Local mom Aaren Halencak launched Yard Love Cypress on June 1, oering custom yard greetings for residents of ZIP codes 77429 and 77377, which is in Tomball. The yard signs help families celebrate special occasions, such as birth- days and graduations, she said. A $75 fee includes 24-hour sign rental, delivery and setup. 830-491-0911. www.yardlovegreetings.com/locations/ cypress-tx COMING SOON 9 Magnolia Rose Event Center will be ready to host events by Aug. 1 at 1263 Bowler Road, Waller. The center has a building with 5,000 square feet of oor space, a sunset porch and 30 acres of land and can host up to 700 people. The event center hosted prom for Magnolia ISD students in June to celebrate its soft opening. The event center can host anything from weddings to concerts, and it is taking bookings for the fall season. 832-961-7673. www.facebook.com/ magnoliaroseeventcenter

RELOCATIONS 10 Havana House relocated in Magnolia to 5111 FM 1488, Magnolia, on June 6. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes ranging from Cuban sandwiches to pas- tries and custom Cuban cakes. Havana House also oers catering services. 832-521-3838. www.havana-house.com 11 After three years at 35421 Hwy. 249, Pinehurst, The Meating Place BBQ & Bakery is relocating to 41902 FM 1774, Magnolia. The restaurant is expected to open in early July. With a larger kitchen at the new location, The Meating Place’s menu will expand to include burgers, steaks and chicken fried steaks as well as its barbecue and bakery oerings. 281-259-6328. www.facebook.com/ 12 Master-planned community Amira is adding 113 acres of property to its development at 20508 Mueschke Road, Tomball. The added land will equate to an additional 400 new homes in the community, according to a May 18 news release. Johnson Development opened Amira last fall and has thus far sold 175 homes, ocials said. Prices start at $220,000 for oor plans by developer Beazer Homes and at $240,000 for oor plans by developer Perry Homes. themeatingplacebbq EXPANSIONS

Martha’s Mexican Restaurant and Grill opened April 20 in Tomball.

COURTESY MARTHA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT AND GRILL

ic, during which time renovations took place. Renovations include new paint, renovated displays and a oor reset. With each dollar made at the resale shop, Magnolia-based nonprot organization Society of Samaritans is able to provide three meals for individuals in its commu- nity in need. 281-259-7252. www.societyofsamaritanstx.org NEWOWNERSHIP 14 Traditions Health , a hospice and home health provider in Texas, California and Arizona, acquired Hospice with Grace, located at 16730 North Eldridge Pkwy., Tomball, on June 2. Traditions Health oers nursing, therapy services, and both physical and spiritual end of-life care, according to a company statement. FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN Martha’s Mexican Restaurant and Grill opened April 20 at 1025 Alma St., Ste. E, Tomball. The restaurant is run by business partners Martha Gamez and Karina and Blanca Luna. Enchiladas, tacos and fajitas are some of the dishes available, and the restaurant has a family recipe for its salsa. 832-639-8818. www.facebook. com/marthas-mexican-restaurant-and- grill-105910901054120

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281-646-9900. www.traditionshealth.com SCHOOL NOTES In June, Magnolia ISD announced three new administrators for the district. Bran- don Garza, former principal of Magnolia West High School, will now be MISD’s rst chief academic ocer. Ben Petty, former associate principal at Magnolia High School, was named executive di- rector of special services for the district, and Sarah Wright—the current director of teaching and learning at the Region 6 Service Center—will replace Garza as the executive director of teaching and learn- ing, according to district information. 281-356-3571. www.magnoliaisd.org

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13 Society of Samaritans reopened its resale shop on May 26 at 17661 FM 1488, Magnolia. The store was closed for two months amid the coronavirus pandem-

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

BY ANNA LOTZ

FM2920 PROJECTS SLATED FOR 2022 Long-awaited projects improving FM 2920 in Tomball are on the books for 2022, according to Texas Department of Transportation information presented to a Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce committee on June 9. A $28.6 million project adding raised medians, drainage, signal improvements and sidewalks from Business 249 to Willow Street is scheduled to go out for construction bids in September 2022 alongside a $1.37 million project to install new infrastructure, according to TxDOT information. The projects are funded, TxDOT engineer John Elam said, and follow a design-build process, meaning they are built as each part is designed. As FM 2920 spans downtown, chamber President Bruce Hillegeist said business access during construction is key. “We want to minimize impact,” Elam said. Elam said installing a raised median complicates access to businesses, yielding many complaints, but helps reduce the number of vehicle collisions. TxDOT’s Access Management Manu- al states that roadways with a raised median have an average crash rate about 30 percent less than roadways with continuous two-way left-turn lanes. “Traditionally most businesses don’t like raised medians,” he said. “The raised medians improve safety and circulation of trac. Once people get used to that, all the complaints go down.”

PROJECT UPDATES

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Hufsmith-Kohrville widening A Harris County Precinct 4 project to widen Hufsmith-Kohrville Road to a four- lane concrete boulevard is being designed and is expected to go out for construction bids in the third quarter of 2020, said Pamela Rocchi, the director of Precinct 4’s capital improvement projects division. The project will widen the road between Hollow Glen Lane and Ezekiel Road and adds trac signals at Lacey and Ezekiel roads. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4

FM 2978 widening Two TxDOT projects will widen FM 2978 to four lanes from Hufsmith-Conroe Road to FM 1488. The segment from Hufsmith-Conroe Road to south of Dry Creek—near Hardin Store Road—is slated to nish in the third quarter of 2020. The segment from Hardin Store Road to FM 1488 is slated to nish in the second quarter of 2021. Timeline: January 2018-third quarter 2020 (south segment), September 2018-second quarter 2021 (north segment) Cost: $34.16 million Funding source: TxDOT

Hwy. 249 extension The next lanes of the Hwy. 249 tolled extension through Montgomery County are expected to be substantially complete July 15, according to information shared with the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce Mobility and Transportation Committee in June. The Texas Department of Transportation is constructing Segment 1A from south of FM 149 in Pinehurst to FM 1488 in Magnolia and will include two tolled lanes in each direction with inter- mittent frontage roads. Timeline: December 2017-July 2020 Cost: $181 million (as reported in January) Funding source: TxDOT

COMPLETED PROJECT

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North Eldridge trac signals New trac signals were operational by June 30 on North Eldridge Parkway in Tomball. New signals were installed at New Hampton and Guernsey drives as part of a larger congestion mitigation and air quality improvement project along the North Eldridge corridor. Timeline: April 2019-June 30, 2020 Cost: $4.3 million (CMAQ project) Funding sources: TxDOT (80%), Harris County Precinct 4 (20%)

Northpointe Boulevard extension A project to extend Northpointe Boule- vard in the Tomball area is in the study phase, according to Precinct 4 informa- tion. The project will extend Northpointe as a four-lane concrete roadway from Shaw to Grant roads with trac signal additions and modications. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4

North Eldridge Parkway widening Precinct 4 anticipates sending a project out for construction bids in the fourth quarter of 2020 to widen North Eldridge Parkway to four concrete lanes between Spring Cypress and Westlock roads. Traf- c signals will also be added at Westlock Drive and Gregson Road. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: Harris County Precinct 4

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF JUNE 15. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT TOMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CORONAVIRUS Montgomery County purchases portable shelter ahead of expected wave of COVID19 cases

Montgomery County commissioners approved purchasing a portable shelter to be used for overow patients if hospitals reach capacity. Setting up a shelter • Purchase cost up to $500,000 • Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act • Delivery could take 4 to 5 weeks • Could hold up to 75 patients • Could be used during COVID-19, ooding and re • Will be located in a hospital parking lot to reduce costs

BY EVA VIGH

general beds in use out of 1,251 operational beds. “We have seen an uptick in cases and in some of our critical beds. [In] the ICU beds, we are getting close to exceeding capacity in some cases, but our number of [ventilators] available—we have a great supply available,” Millsaps said. But there will likely be an inux of patients from the Texas Medical Center in Houston. When the medical center begins to overow in capacity, there will be some delay before it hits Montgomery County, but it will hit, Millsaps said. “The hospital system as a whole within the region believes within the next two weeks the medical center is going to surge out, and that will cause patients to be moved up here to our hospitals until we run out of space, and then, we could potentially surge as well,” he said June 23.

allowed to use the shelter for other purposes, such as shelter during ood- ing and re, after it is no longer needed for reasons related to the pandemic. The shelter will be put in a hospital parking lot, as requested by hospital ocials, Millsaps said. By putting the shelter on-site, the county will not have to pay for hospital stang costs. The specic hospital has not yet been determined. “We’re not doing something like Harris County did where they set up a facility o-site away from the hospitals at a very large cost,” he said. “This kit can be set up in a matter of minutes by one person.” As of June 23, county hospitals were under capacity, ocials said. As of press time June 30, data from the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council recorded 115 total COVID-19 patients in Montgomery County hospitals and 768 total

As Montgomery County hospitals brace for an anticipated inux of coronavirus patients, county o- cials greenlighted the purchase of a portable shelter they said they hope to never use. Commissioners approved the purchase June 23 to be used for overow patients if hospitals reach full capacity. The cost is not to exceed $500,000, and the shelter can hold up to 75 patients, said Jason Millsaps, the chief of sta for County Judge Mark Keough. “When they push that panic button and call [us] for logistic support, this is a tool in the chest that we need,” Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which stipulates items purchased must be specically related to COVID-19. The county will be Millsaps told commissioners. Funding will come from the

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Montgomery County hospitals are regional hospitals, meaning they do not serve only county residents. The county does not have the authority to permit only Montgomery County residents into the portable shelter if it were to be in operation, ocials said. On June 23, Millsaps said it could take up to 16 weeks for delivery, but Millsaps said June 24 the vendor had conrmed an estimated delivery between four to ve weeks.

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TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PUBLIC SAFETY

COMMUNITY GATHERS TO PRAY, PROTEST Seeking unity and justice, Magnolia-area pastors organized a prayer rally June 5 with a few dozen community members in attendance. In Tomball, two Tomball ISD graduates and former Tomball residents organized a Black Lives Matter march, which drew a crowd of about 200 people on June 15 from H-E-B to City Hall.

George Floyd’s death prompts countystudies

BY SHAWN ARRAJJ & HANNAH ZEDAKER

The same day a funeral was held in Houston for George Floyd—a Houston native who died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis—the Harris County Commissioners Court approved a broad range of studies into the county’s criminal justice system on June 9. However, the question remains of where funding could come from to implement future changes. The studies cover topics ranging from racial disparities in the criminal justice system and the criminalization of poverty to the examination of whether to create a civilian oversight board to inves- tigate allegations of abuse of force by local police. Preliminary ndings frommost of the approved studies are slated to come back to Commissioners Court in July. Those ndings will also eventually be presented at a series of public hearings. Harris County Sheri Ed Gonzalez spoke at the meeting, acknowledging law enforcement may not need to be on the front lines of mental health, addiction and poverty to the degree they currently are. However, he argued defunding police forces should not be the go-to solution to nd funding for new programs. “At the end of the day, there’s still violent crime out there. Somebody out there still has to protect the community. We need to be able to solve crimes. We need to make sure that we’re paying our dep- uties good money,” Gonzalez said. “Whether it be COVID[-19], [Hurricane] Harvey or going into gun- re, they are always there to answer the call, and they should be paid more. We can be supportive of law enforcement and be against police brutality.” Gonzalez said the sheri’s oce has created programs for substance use and

PHOTOS BY ANNA LOTZCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Kim Ogg and the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Oce to evaluate and combine it into one county- wide policy. Additionally, residents will likely see increased transparency, as commissioners also unanimously approved creating a public site where instances of police use of force would be compiled, along with video footage and details on the race, ethnicity and gender of those involved. Local eorts As protests calling for criminal justice reform swept the nation, Magnolia pastors held a rally June 5 praying for healing, unity and peace. “Our hearts are heavy for the African American community, for the safety of our police ocers and just for the deep division there is in our nation. As pastors we feel like the greatest response is prayer,” said Ed Seay, a senior pastor of Magnolia’s First Baptist Church and an organizer of the rally. In Tomball, approximately 200 people marched as part of a protest June 13, organized by Tomball ISD graduates Jessica and Reis Seggebruch. Edward Matthews, a pastor at Newness of Life Worship Center in Tomball who addressed the crowd, said he is hopeful watching the younger generation advocate for change. “It seems like we are initiating that change that has been trying to go forward for such a long time,” he said. “I can’t say we have reached it today, but I think we are further along.” Anna Lotz & Dylan Sherman contributed to this report.

Launching reform Harris County’s eight constables also met June 10 to begin the process of developing a uniform county- wide use-of-force policy. “The sheri’s oce [has] made a lot of strides, but we know that we still have a long way to go, [and] I understand our profession does as well,” Gonzalez said. “We’re ready and committed to change and meaningful reform.” As elected ocials, the sheri and constables are each able to determine their own policies, such as those on the use of force, for their respective juris- dictions. While Gonzalez said his agency has already banned certain controversial use-of-force tactics, each Harris County constable can exercise his or her own discretion in following suit. “We [already had banned chokeholds and neck

mental health calls that have been successful.

restraints], and we’re looking at our policies for de-escala- tion. ... We want to make sure it’s clear,” he said. According to Precinct 4 Con- stable Mark Herman, Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen is working to break down each constable’s policies and identify similarities and dierences. Once the eight constables develop and agree upon one use-of-force policy, Herman said that policy will be shared with Gonzalez as well as District Attorney

11

TOMBALL  MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

CORONAVIRUS County, state up restrictions as cases climb

REIMPLEMENTING RESTRICTIONS Harris County and the state increased restrictions in late June to try to again slow the spread of the coronavirus. Restrictions are current as of June 30.

BY DANICA LLOYD & ANNA LOTZ

hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients,” according to press releases. Hidalgo elevated the county’s COVID-19 threat level from “significant” to “severe” on June 26, which is the highest threat level possible in the system. Hidalgo said data from local hospitals, new case numbers and the rising death toll informed her decisions to reinstate recommendations that helped flatten the curve in the past. Hidalgo called the county’s current situation “catastrophic and unsustainable,” saying COVID- 19 numbers will continue to rise if community members do not stay at home. On June 29, the county had confirmed more than 30,700 cases of the virus, including 19,952 active cases and 375 deaths, since March 1, according to Harris County Public Health. In comparison, on June 19, there were 27,493 confirmed cases, of which 16,791 cases were active. “There are some who will say there’s no real cause for concern, that we can adjust to this,” Hidalgo said. “When did we lose our respect for human life and the economy to the degree that we’re saying, ‘Let’s fill our ICU beds and surge capacity before we take any meaningful action?’” The county judge also signed an executive order June 19 mandating local businesses that service the

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced June 26 a stay-at-home advisory nearly identical to the order put in place in late March in an effort to bring the rising COVID-19 case curve down. While county leaders no longer have the author- ity to issue “enforceable” stay-at-home orders, Hidalgo said she urges residents to stay home except for essential needs, such as going to the grocery store, getting food and picking up medi- cine. Additionally, nonessential travel and business should be avoided as well as gatherings with individuals outside one’s home, she said. “The eyes of not just the nation but the world are upon us, and history will remember the action we take,” she said. This announcement came hours after Gov. Greg Abbott tightened business restrictions again, limiting restaurants across the state to operating at 50% capacity effective June 29, prohibiting outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people, mandating rafting and tubing businesses cease operations, and closing bars statewide. The state’s leader also announced June 25 he would pause further reopen- ing plans to “help our state corral the spread” of COVID-19 and suspend elective surgeries in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties to “ensure

STATEWIDE

HARRIS COUNTY

• Bars closed • No rafting and tubing • Restaurant capacity reduced from 75% to 50% • Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people prohibited without local permission • Further reopening of the state is paused

• Moved to Level 1 “severe” threat level June 26, meaning “stay home, work safe”* • Masks must be worn within businesses serving the public • Gatherings of more than 100 prohibited *The Harris County threat level is an advisory, not an enforceable order.

SOURCES: STATE OF TEXAS, HARRIS COUNTY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

public to require employees and patrons to wear face coverings. “People believe that because we have reopened that it means you can go out and do whatever you want to do because life is back to normal,” HCPH Executive Director Umair Shah said June 26. “I’m telling you from a health standpoint, life is far from normal, and we are really needing all of you to do all the things to help us fight this pandemic.”

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NEWS BRIEFS HCAnames newCEO

Work search requirement to be reassessed in July

SJRA committee votes against rate increase for FY 2020-21

BY ANNA LOTZ

BY EVA VIGH

HCA Houston Health- care Tomball named Robert Marmerstein as CEO on June 26, following the departure of Eric Evans. Marm-

The San Jacinto River Authority will likely not increase its water rates for next fiscal year, pending final approval from its board of directors. On June 22, the SJRA groundwater reduction plan committee approved a budget and rate order for FY 2020-21 that includes no rate increases. The budget will be considered by the board of directors Aug. 25. Because the SJRA is not raising its rates, it will need to pull from its debt service fund to pay for increasing legal fees, SJRA Deputy General Manager Ron Kelling said. The groundwater committee had originally out- lined rate increases that ranged from 0.4%-14.5%. WATER RATES UNCHANGED The San Jacinto River Authority’s groundwater reduction plan committee approved a budget with no rate fee changes to be voted on Aug. 25. Groundwater pumpage fee: $2.73 per 1,000 gallons Surface water fee: $3.15 per 1,000 gallons Declined rate increase proposals: 0.4%-14.5%

BY DANIEL HOUSTON & ANNA LOTZ

Texans receiving unemployment benefits may soon have to prove they are actively looking for work to continue receiving assistance. The Texas Workforce Commission had previ- ously said unemployment recipients would have to start documenting their efforts to find a new job beginning July 6, but the TWC announced June 30 it would delay the reinstatement of the work search requirement for unemployment benefits in Texas. “Due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Texas, TWC has decided to pause the return of work search requirements at this time,” TWC Executive Director Ed Serna said in a June 30 statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and make further recommendations in late July.” Texans can receive up to $521 per week in state unemployment benefits, plus another $600 per week from the federal stimulus law. Those federal payments are set to expire July 31.

erstein has served as chief operating

officer of HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood since 2017, according to a June 26 release. Marmerstein will assume his new role July 13. “Robert’s talents in the areas of strategic com- munity and physician relations, operations and capital development projects will be invaluable assets to the growth of HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball,” said Evan Ray, chief administrative officer of HCA Houston Healthcare, in the release. “He is passionate about expanding on the excel- lent services that the community has come to expect, and I know he will bring fresh ideas and his sincere commitment to his new role.” Previously, Marmerstein has served as chief operations officer of HCA Houston Healthcare Mainland and worked at LewisGale Medical Center and Reston Hospital Center in Virginia. Robert Marmerstein

SOURCE: SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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TOMBALL - MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

NEWS BRIEFS

Texas Central weighing use of stimulusmoney Ocials with Texas Central are considering the use of federal stimulus money to help fund a high- speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas, according to an April 8 letter from Texas Central Chairman “Texas Central has said for over two years, and continues to say, that they will explore all forms of capital available to private companies to nance debt for the project,” ocials said in the email. BY SHAWN ARRAJJ

Aside from private equity and commercial loans, company ocials named Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act as examples of federal programs that could be used. Ocials did not respond to request for comment on howmuch federal money they could seek. In the letter, McLane also suggests the project could cost $30 billion, a higher estimate than initially expected. As of June 11, the Texas Central website lists the project’s total cost at $20 billion. Ocials have previously said any federal funding sought would take the form of loans that would be paid back, so taxpayer dollars would not be on the line.

Drayton McLane to Texas Sen. Robert Nichols. In the letter, McLane said the project has “hit a snag with all the diculties” of the coronavirus, adding that “between the Japanese government funding and the monies we hope to receive from President Trump’s infrastructure stimulus through the Department of Transportation, along with private equity, ... the project still has a great opportunity, is viable and can be construction ready this year.” In a June 11 email, ocials with Texas Central conrmed the authenticity of the letter and claried that Texas Central had not yet applied for any federal stimulus funding or any funding from the Coronavi- rus Aid, Relief and Economy Security Act.

The Texas Central rail connection fromDallas to Houston will feature a bullet train similar to this one. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners)

THE ROAD TOA RUNOFF March 3 primary runos were postponed to July 14 amid eorts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Early voting runs through July 10. Visit www.harrisvotes.com or www.elections.mctx.org for more information.

Primary runos held July 14 The Tomball and Magnolia area featured several close primary elections in March, which head to a runo election July 14 after being postponed in late May. BY ANNA LOTZ 7 a.m.-7 p.m. July 6-9 and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. July 10, according to Harris County information. Montgomery County early voting locations are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. July

When no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates move on to a runo to determine who will represent the party in November general elections.

Democrat

Republican

Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner Diana Martinez Alexander: 27.1%

U.S. representative, District 2 Elisa Cardnell: 31% Sima Ladjevardian: 47.6%

RUNOFF

RUNOFF RUNOFF

Zaher Eisa: 4.4% Erik “Beto” Hassan: 9.9% Michael Moore: 26.4%

6-10 and include the Mag- nolia Event Center and the West Montgomery County Community Development Center, according to county information. Residents can vote during early voting at any location in their respective counties, as can Harris County voters on election day. Montgomery County voters must vote at a precinct-specic location on election day.

In primaries, if no candi- date in a race nishes with more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates com- pete in a runo to determine November’s ballot. Early voting runs through July 10, with early voting locations including the Tomball Public Works Building and Lone Star College-Creekside Center in Tomball, which are open

Travis Olsen: 21.4%

RUNOFF

U.S. representative, District 10 Pritesh Gandhi: 33%

Morris Overstreet: 9.6% Kristi Thibaut: 22.6% Montgomery County 457th District Court judge Eric Yollick: 37.6% Robert “Bobby” Kasprzak: 14.5% RUNOFF RUNOFF Vince Santini: 25% Bruce Coulson Tough: 14.1% Chris Buck: 8.8%

RUNOFF

Shannon Hutcheson: 23% Mike Siegel: 44%

RUNOFF

Harris County sheri Joe Danna: 48.5%

RUNOFF RUNOFF

Paul Day: 29%

Randy Rush: 22.5%

SOURCES: MONTGOMERY COUNTY, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News from Tomball, Magnolia & Harris & Montgomery counties

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

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

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

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

To qualify for the funds, res- idents must be a U.S. citizen, own a homesteaded property in Montgomery County as of April 1 and be current on property taxes. According to Noack’s office, the proposal was still pending approval by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as of June 29, and homeowners were not yet able to apply.

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

Trafficanalysisyields cityconcerns MAGNOLIA City Council members expressed concerns about a proposed 105-home development north of Kelly Road following a traffic impact analy- sis presented June 9. The development has yet to be annexed by the city. “Is it thick enough to support the trucks ... or is it going to be torn to hell?” he said. “Because as far as I know that is just a little thin road out there.” BY DYLAN SHERMAN

Tomball appoints newpolicechief

MORE TRAFFIC Construction of 105 homes proposed north of Kelly Road will be completed in two phases in 2021, according to a traffic study.

600 daily trips added by Phase 1

539 daily trips added by Phase 2

BY ANNA LOTZ

TOMBALL City Council members unanimously voted to appoint Jeffrey Bert as the new chief of police June 1. Bert replaces former Chief Billy Tid- well, who resigned Jan. 17, and interim Chief Edward “Skip” Oliver. According to meeting information, Bert currently serves as a commander with the Los Angeles Police Depart- ment, where he has served since 1996. Tomball City Manager Rob Hauck said the city reviewed 129 applicants.

SOURCE: LJA ENGINEERING/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

David Rivera, a representative of LJA Engineering, said tax revenue generated by the developed land could pay for improving the road. Mayor Todd Kana said the road was not engineered for the construction traffic it will have to endure. “We didn’t engineer that street at the edge of our city limits to provide access to a development of 100

homes,” he said. “I can’t tell you the damage [the project] could incur.” As the city has already paid for the road, Kana said the city should not pay for it again because of action that was not considered at the time. Rooted Development CEO Peter Houghton, the developer, said the project is still in the planning stages.

The analysis by LJA Engineer- ing estimates 600 daily trips will be added on nearby roads in the project’s first phase. Council Member Daniel Miller said he is concerned if the roads can handle increased use and construc- tion vehicles.

MEETINGSWE COVER Meetings may be held by video conference.

Tomball City Council meets July 20 and Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. 401 Market St., Tomball. www.tomballtx.gov

Magnolia City Council meets July 14 at 7 p.m. 18311 Buddy Riley Blvd., Magnolia. www.cityofmagnolia.com

Harris County Commissioners Court meets July 14 and 28 at 10 a.m. 1001 Preston St., Ste. 934, Houston. www.harriscountytx.org

Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets July 14 and 28 at 9:30 a.m. 501 N. Thompson St., Ste. 402, Conroe. www.mctx.org

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TOMBALL - MAGNOLIA EDITION • JULY 2020

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