Conroe - Montgomery Edition | October 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 7  OCT. 16NOV. 12, 2020 Rocky road ahead

ONLINE AT

Future funding for county thoroughfares unclear as state faces $4.58 billion shortfall

BY BEN THOMPSON & EVA VIGH

Since Montgomery County commissioners have been updating their 2016 thoroughfare plan, which will provide a comprehen- sive list of transportation needs. With funds from the county’s last road bond in 2015 beginning to dwindle, ocials said they would need to identify fund- ing at some point in the future. December, “We were just doing so well,” Pre- cinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. “We all kind of had in the back of our mind that once we get these road projects [from the 2015 bond] done … we were possibly going to ask to go out for another bond.” Then COVID-19 hit. State oil and gas and sales tax revenues tanked. And state representatives now face an esti- mated $4.58 billion budget shortfall when they convene for the 87th Texas Legislature in January. Ocials said it is unclear how transportation projects across the state—which are already squeezed for revenue—will be funded in the next few years. CONTINUED ON 26

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Work on FM 1097, which was funded partly through the county’s $280million road bond in 2015, is making headway in Precinct 1. After Precinct 1 completes projects from the bond, there will be $150,000 left over. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

VOTER GUIDE 2020

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS IMPACTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more TODO LIST

FROMCHRISSY: As we near Election Day on Nov. 3, we have included our 2020 Voter Guide to provide you with a sample ballot and candidate Q&A’s to further research the candidates on the ballot as you head to the polls. While this is a national election year, be sure to remember the importance of your state, county and local elections as well, including mayor, school board and city council positions. 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

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Local events and things to do TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 9 Report released for I45 project BUSINESS 10 Firearms sales up PUBLIC SAFETY 13 Montgomery County reghters deployed to ght California blaze

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: Last month, several local crew members from Montgomery County-area re departments were deployed to California to battle the state’s largest single wildre in history. Additional crew members were sent to relieve them in late September, and several local reghters remain battling the blaze as of press time. Read more about how Texas crews are helping out in Senior Reporter Eva Vigh’s story (see Page 13). Anna Lotz, EDITOR

2020Voter guide

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Local races for Conroe, Montgomery CANDIDATE Q&A’S Meet the candidates on the ballot ELECTION Willis ISD puts $100.15 million bond referendum on November ballot

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THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

Local sources 66

New businesses 4

Community events 8

41

Candidates

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

IMPACTS

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

NOWOPEN 1 Montgomery Woodwrights opened its 4,000-square-foot woodshop and showroom Aug. 20 at 18249 Keenan Cuto Road, Montgomery. The shop spe- cializes in high-quality custom cabinetry and specialty furniture for residential and commercial clients. 936-236-6808. https://montgomerywood.com 2 She Shack , a party and event venue, opened Sept. 11 at 905 W. Lewis St., Conroe. The self-described “chic-space” caters to women and is designed for lun- cheons, bridal showers, birthday parties and other small events. The space also oers Bravely You Boutique, a boutique store, and has three hairstylists. 936-522-8730. www.facebook.com/ she-shack-llc 3 Tiger Den Nutrition opened Sept. 11 at 715 W. Davis St., Ste. A, Conroe. The store provides healthy teas with vitamins, collagen, biotin, protein and no sugar as well as meal-replacement shakes. 936-494-1421. www.facebook.com/ tigerdennutrition 4 Owner Barbara Scannell opened Hidden Treasures Resale & Consignment in October. The resale shop, located at 19380 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 511, Montgom- ery, oers small furniture items, costume jewelry, lamps, small children’s clothes and home decor. 936-448-8155

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & EVA VIGH

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Compassion United broke ground Oct. 8.

EVA VIGHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON Compassion United, a support ministry in Montgomery County, celebrated the groundbreaking of Miracle City on Oct. 8 at 350 Foster Drive, Conroe. When complete, Miracle City will be a grace-based, transformative community serving those experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County; it will provide housing, a food pantry, and life and vocational skill training for up to 92 people when fully built-out. The rst building is expected in March. www.compassionunited.us

Montgomery Woodwrights

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5 Twice as Nice Resale & Consignment opened Aug. 27 at 10248 Commerce Row, Montgomery. The family-owned and operated store sells furniture, household items, clothing and decor. 936-582-5321. www.twiceasniceresaleconsignment.com COMING SOON 6 Conroe’s Watches and Diamonds was slated to open in mid-October at 1416 N. Loop 336 W., Ste. C, Conroe. The company specializes in preowned watch- es, including high-end watches, such as Rolex. The shop also oers custom-made jewelry. 936-756-0300. 7 TransMed Health and Wellness Cen- ter hosts a grand opening Nov. 5 at 2510 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe, although the center is already open for appointments. Lead by Dr. Jody Caldwell, TransMed uses

functional medicine to help patients take control of their health and transform their long-term wellness. 936-441-8999. www.transmedcenter.com 8 The University of St. Thomas hosts a ribbon-cutting for its new micro-cam- pus at 336 N. Main St., Conroe, on Oct. 20. The 1,500-square-foot UST MAX Center will serve as a location to engage with Conroe through a variety of events, according to the university’s website. Undergraduate, associate and gradu- ate degree programs and certicate programs will be oered. 713-522-7911. www.stthom.edu 9 Jersey Mike’s Subs will open Oct. 28 at 247 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 200, Conroe. The eatery serves sub sandwiches on fresh bread and will donate 50% of sales Oct. 28-Nov. 1 to VFW Post 4709 in Con- roe. 936-320-0320. www.facebook.com/

jerseymikesconroe15149

RELOCATIONS 10 Roberds Pharmacy relocated from Medical Center Boulevard into the TransMed Center at 2510 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe, on Oct. 5. The pharmacy has been oering specialized compounding and natural supplements since 1980. 936-756- 4254. www.roberdspharmacy.com ANNIVERSARIES 11 McKenzie’s Barbeque & Burgers cel- ebrated 25 years Oct. 4. The restaurant, located at 1501 N. Frazier St., Conroe, serves Texas barbecue, such as pork ribs, sausages, turkey and chicken, as well as burgers and breakfast tacos. 936-539- 4300. www.mckenziesbarbeque.com

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

TODO LIST

October-November events

BY ANNA LOTZ

SPOOKY EVENTS VISIT AHAUNTED CARWASH Oct. 16-17, 23-24, 30

OCTOBER 20 CELEBRATE A GRANDOPENING The University of St. Thomas will mark its opening of a microcampus with opening festivities and tours. The event is open to the public. 11 a.m. Free. 336 N. Main St., Conroe. www.stthom.edu 30 VOTE EARLY The last day of in-person early voting is Oct. 30. Montgomery County residents can early vote at any early-voting location in the county. https://elections.mctx.org 31 ENJOY A FALL FESTIVAL 7 Acre Wood hosts its 20th annual Thrill at the Mill event at its outdoor family fun park, featuring a petting zoo, a playground, mini golf and a vendor market as well as paintball, hay rides and other activities for a cost. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free (admission). 4401 N. Frazier St., Conroe. 936-890-2326. www.7acrewood.org NOVEMBER 12 LEARNABOUTMENTAL HEALTH The Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention Task Force of Montgomery County and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service present a community help expo about navigating behavioral health, including breakout sessions, a panel discussion, an art exhibit and a resource fair. The event is available in person and virtually with registration. 1:30-4:30 p.m. Free. Lone Star Convention and Expo Center, 9055 Airport Road, Conroe. www.communityhelp.org

Bubble King Car Wash presents an evening haunted tunnel with characters mingling inside and outside the facility. Attendees can dress up and enjoy the Halloween fun while staying within their vehicle.

8-10:30 p.m. $20 per vehicle. 19868 Eva St., Montgomery. www.facebook.com/montgomerytexas GO TRICKOR TREATING Oct. 17

Join the city of Conroe for the annual Trick or Treat Trail, which will take place as a drive-thru event. Guests are encouraged to wear costumes and decorate their vehicles. Health and safety guidelines, including remaining in vehicles at all times, will be in place. 2-4 p.m. A movie will follow at 7:15 p.m. Free. Carl Barton Jr. Park, 2500 S. Loop 336 E., Conroe. www.cityofconroe.org PARTICIPATE IN FALL ACTIVITIES Oct. 31 Historic Montgomery businesses welcome children accompanied by adults to trick or treat in the downtown area. A parade, a car show and Sip N Stroll are also planned. 10 a.m. (parade), 1-4 p.m. (trick-or-treating), 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Sip N Stroll). Free. Downtown Montgomery. www.facebook.com/historicmontgomerytx

NOV. 78

ATTENDWINEFEST LOCATIONS VARY

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce presents the Historic Montgomery Wine & Music Festival featuring four wineries, four breweries and one distillery. Dierent than previous years, attendees will travel to nine locations for samples within a 20-minute drive from Montgomery. Times vary. $50 (weekend passport). Locations vary. https://montgomerywinefest.com

Submit Conroe and Montgomery events to comnews@communityimpact.com. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

45 TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Environmental report for I45 rebuild released The Texas Department of Trans- portation has reached a critical

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & EMMA WHALEN

ONGOING PROJECTS

SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • adding bicycle/pedestrian realms along the 44 downtown streets that cross freeways • adding sidewalks along frontage roads • adding four managed express lanes on I-45 from downtown Houston to Beltway 8 North • rerouting I-45 to be parallel with I-10 on the north side of downtown Houston and parallel to Hwy. 59 on the east side of downtown • realigning sections of I-10 and Hwy. 59 in the downtown area Ward and Northside. Proponents of the project said it will alleviate congestion, ood- ing and safety issues on the over 50-year-old highway. Members of the public have until Nov. 9 to submit comments on the study by mail to the Texas Depart- ment of Transportation, Director of Project Development, P.O. Box 1386, Houston, Texas, 77251, or by email to hou-piowebmail@txdot.gov. The Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Texas Department of Transportation’s I-45 project shows the preferred alternative would include:

CHANGING COURSE

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New I-45 path Old I-45 path*

milestone in its highly scrutinized proposal to overhaul much of I-45 through Houston. The environmental impact study published Sept. 25 is one of the nal stages in the project’s approval pro- cess, which has been over a decade in the making. Next, the Texas Transportation Commission will give approval for the agency to seek construction rms and begin work. TxDOT Houston District Engineer Eliza Paul said, however, the com- munication process between TxDOT and local ocials and residents will continue throughout the process. “[The North Houston Highway Improvement Project] is a very important project for the region that will enhance safety and mobility for all users,” Paul said in a statement

FM 1097 widening The Texas Department of

*TO BE REMOVED

610

Transportation is widening FM 1097 between Anderson Road and I-45 in Willis from two to four lanes with a continuous left turn lane. The project was previously suspended due to utility conicts, TxDOT Public Information Ocer Emily Black said in early October. The widening project was 57% complete as of Oct. 1, and the completion date has been pushed back from 2020 to 2021. Cost: $15.14 million Timeline: October 2018-third quarter 2021 Funding sources: TxDOT, federal funds ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF OCT. 8. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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accompanying the report. The project has solicited reactions from some Houston residents and elected ocials for its proposal to reroute and expand the highway through the East End while aban- doning its path through Midtown. Advocacy groups such as Stop I-45 and The Make I-45 Better Coalition claim the project will have dispropor- tionately negative eects on commu- nities of color in the East End, Fifth

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

BUSINESS Firearmbackground checks up; businesses seemore newbuyers

August

March April May June July

September

While not necessarily representing the number of rearms sold, the number of background checks for handguns, long guns and other rearms spiked this spring, federal data shows. FIREARM BACKGROUND CHECKS IN TEXAS

250K

In September , background checks in Texas for handguns and long guns saw a 45.25% increase from September 2019. +141.16% since March 2016

200K

BY ANNA LOTZ

2016—according to NICS data. “The gun business is a very unique business anyway, and very few busi- nesses out there ... uctuate the way we do based on what party’s in power or what politician makes a statement. ... A lot of people—for lack of a better word, they panic,” said Thom Bolsch, proprietor of Saddle River Range on FM 1488 in Conroe. In Texas, rearm background checks for handguns, long guns and other rearms were up 81.94% from 2016—the last presidential election year—for the period spanning March to September, NICS data shows. Bolsch said he estimates about 70% of gun sales in March at Saddle River were to rst-time gun buyers, an increase from about 10% of custom- ers regularly. “Along comes this pandemic, and people were really fearful,” Bolsch said. “A lot of people came in, and they said, ‘We’ve never even touched a gun before,’ and that’s indicative of fear. That’s indicative of panic.” Short supply Bolsch said his sales increased fourfold in March and April before another wave of panic hit amid protests of police brutality. “I will say our business is up. But I will also say ... our suppliers are having a hard time keeping up,” Bolsch said. Jerey Bearden, owner of Black- wood Gun Club in Conroe, said the industry has seen a shortage in rearms and ammunition, as

150K

In any election year, the rearms industry typically sees an uptick in sales, but given the ongoing pan- demic and the unrest seen across the nation, 2020 is record-breaking, said Je Yuna, owner of Tomball Pawn & Jewelry. “Election years are always positive years [in gun sales] because of the challenges to the Second Amend- ment,” said Yuna, who noted in mid-August that his sales had risen 150% year over year since February. “Primarily, what we’re seeing is a dramatic increase in rst-time gun buyers. First-time gun buyers are somewhere between 32%-38% of what we’re seeing, which is unheard of.” Total rearm background checks—including for permits, pawn redemption, rentals and private sales—totaled 1.73 million in Texas from January to September, a record-breaking number for the state by about 8,500 checks. With three months remaining in the year, the state has exceeded its 2016 number of 1.72 million checks, the state’s previous record since data was rst collected in 1998, according to the National Instant Criminal Back- ground Check System. Although rearm background checks do not necessarily repre- sent the number of rearms sold, background checks for handguns, long guns and other rearms spiked in March in Texas, totaling 223,724 checks—a 138% increase from 2019 and a 141% increase from

100K

50K

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2016

2017 2018 2019 2020

SOURCE: NATIONAL INSTANT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEMCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

manufacturers were transitioning their equipment for hunting season when COVID-19 hit this spring. As a result, few manufacturers were able to meet the recent demand. “Gun sales would be astronomi- cally through the roof if there was a large market of guns for us to be able to purchase to sell,” Bearden said. Along with businesses, Bolsch said, customers have had to adapt, too. “The days of us calling our dis- tributors and saying, ‘Give us three of them and ve of those and six of these’—that’s over. We call them now every day. ... ‘What do you have? What did you just get in?’” Bolsch said. “[Customers are] saying, ‘I’ll take it,’ because that’s all there is.” Training, range activity Not only are local business owners seeing increased sales; shooting ranges and training classes have also been busier since the spring. “During COVID-19, people are home and restless, and we’re an outdoor activity, ... so you can come out here safely and not be crammed

in a tight space,” Bearden said. “So the range itself, from that aspect, as something for people to do has dramatically increased also.” Although the facility has upped cleaning measures, Bolsch said Saddle River’s 33,000-square-foot setup already allowed guests to distance with bulletproof walls between shooting stalls and an air handling system that moves lead and contaminants downrange. Since the spring, Saddle River has at least tripled its number of classes to educate new gun owners, he said in mid-August. “When we sell a gun, we try to make sure they know how to operate it before they leave. By law, we don’t have any obligation to make sure someone knows how to re a gun; our obligation is more that they’re legally able to purchase a gun,” Bolsch said. “We want people to know we’re safety-conscious; we want people to know we’re not here to sell you a gun. We’re here to help you with your purchase and make sure you’re comfortable with it.”

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COVID19 AND THE FLU While caused by separate viruses, the u and COVID-19 can both cause serious disease or death, and they share some symptoms.

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SHARED SYMPTOMS

BY BEN THOMPSON

the woods,” Shuford said. “We feel like our health care system is safe at this moment in time, but that any addition of u in our communities or even COVID-19 in our communities could start to impact and stress our healthcare system.” In Montgomery County, general hospital bed usage has remained at or below 1,000 since early Septem- ber—below the county’s operational capacity of 1,275 beds and surge capacity of 1,529 beds, according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Misti Willingham, public information ocer for the Montgomery County Hospital District, said county health ocials typically see a rise in hospitalizations due to the u and anticipate that potential need for beds as well as increased testing in the community this year. “We are hopeful the CDC guide- lines regarding social distancing, mask-wearing, hand hygiene and surface disinfection will lead to fewer people contracting the seasonal u as well as COVID-19. However, the signs and symptoms are very similar in presentation. Testing is the only way to know for sure,” Willingham said in an email. Dr. Sam Rolon, a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine physician in The Wood- lands, also said that residents follow- ing CDC-recommended guidelines related to COVID-19 could provide an additional protection against the spread of the u and related illnesses

Health ocials are preparing for a seasonal wave of inuenza they said could compound public health and health care system capacity concerns this year. Dr. Jennifer Shuford, infectious disease medical ocer for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said that while u season typically peaks between December and March, the timing and severity of the u’s spread every year is uncertain. “Getting the u shot is the single most important thing that a person can do to prevent themselves from getting the u or from severe u and its complications,” she said. Shuford said that while DSHS works every year to share messaging about u preparedness and pre- vention, eorts to inform Texans about u shots and recommended precautions have ramped up ahead of this fall. And in addition to commu- nications from the state organization, Shuford also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing u vaccines for residents of all ages this year in addition to the department’s ongoing Texas Vaccines for Children Program. Shuford said the state department will monitor Texas hospital capacity over the coming months. She said that while COVID-19 hospitalizations throughout Texas decreased in September, increases during the fall and winter may again lead to capacity issues throughout the state. “We don’t feel like we’re out of

Fever

Cough Muscle aches and pains

Sore throat

Runny nose

Headache Shortness of breath

COVID19ONLY

FLUONLY

Loss of smell or taste Symptoms typically appear one to four days after infection. SOURCES: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER HOSPITAL CAPACITY Hospital bed availability in Montgomery County remains several hundred below capacity as of early October. General beds in use General beds in use for COVID-19 patients Symptoms typically appear ve days after infection, although symptoms may appear two to 14 days after infection.

Chills

CAPACITY: 1,275

1,009

966

953 961

915 943 942 934

908 875

891

855

842 828 838

806

767

51 56 46 43 42 43 38 40 37 33 41 45 44

51 57 50 64

SEPT. 26 27 28 29 30 OCT. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 SOURCE: SOUTHEAST TEXAS REGIONAL ADVISORY COUNCILCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

this year. “Patients that might just have a cough and shortness of breath from allergies or asthma, they might get screened for COVID and they prob- ably should be,” Rolon said. “They might get screened for u this year and they probably should be.” Local and state ocials advise that anyone ages 6 months or older get

their u shots in October, unless they have a conrmed medical reason not to. Willingham said the county hos- pital district oers u vaccinations for uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid-recipient county residents. “We might still have a very severe u season,” Shuford said. “It is still very important for people to get their u shots for this u season.”

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

PUBLIC SAFETY Local crews battle largest single wildre in California’s history

BY EVA VIGH

depending on the type of emergency, Williams said. Deployments are not paid for by local taxpayers—they are generally paid for by the state requesting assistance—and they provide valuable training, he added. Strike Team 143 works on 24-hour rotations to cut brush and establish the perimeter at Creek Fire. “They gave [our guys] a two-day rest period because they were physi- cally exhausted after being on the re lines for so long,” Williams said. As of Oct. 12, Creek Fire had been blazing for 38 days and was 55% contained, according to CAL FIRE. Texas Tri-County Fire Local ocials said they are better prepared for California’s res because of the catastrophic Texas Tri-County Fire in 2011, which blazed through Montgomery, Grimes, and Waller counties and is considered to be the largest wildland urban interface re in East Texas history, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. On Sept. 5, 2011, a re began in the Magnolia area that burned for almost two weeks, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. Known as the Riley Road Fire, it charred 19,960 acres and destroyed 73 homes, threatening the city of Magnolia and stopping just short of Harris County. That year also saw several other major res, including the Bear Creek Fire in East Texas—considered one of the worst in the state’s history—and the Angelina River Bottom Fire in Nacogdoches and Cherokee counties.

More than a dozen Montgomery County reghters are stationed in California, battling what has now become the largest single wildre in the state’s history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE. Crews from the Conroe, Caney Creek, North and South Montgomery, Porter and Needham re departments assigned to Strike Team 143 departed for California on Sept. 11. Two days later, they arrived at Creek Fire, a smoldering blaze near Los Angeles. As of Oct. 12, Creek Fire had ravaged 333,350 acres, damaged 71 structures and destroyed 856 others. It is the fth-largest wildre when including complex res, or two or more res in the same area. “Even by West Coast or California standards, these are some big res,” Montgomery County Fire Marshall Jimmy Williams said. After two weeks of intense labor, the original crew was rotated out for a fresh crew the weekend of Sept. 26. Strike Team 143 The state of Texas deploys specialized teams to assist other states in emergencies through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, Williams said. On Sept. 11, Gov. Greg Abbott announced about 190 reghters would be deployed to California, in addition to the 44 deployed in late August. The TIFMAS comprises reghters who meet certain qualications

Conroe and Montgomery County reghters assigned to Strike Team 143 are assisting California departments with containing Creek Fire, the largest single re in California’s history. (Courtesy Conroe Fire Department)

RECORDBREAKING FLAMES

Crews from the Conroe, Caney Creek, North and South Montgomery, Porter and Needham re departments were assigned to Strike Team 143 to assist with the wildres in California.

CREEK FIRE The largest single re in California’s history had been blazing for 38 days as of Oct. 12 as local crews assist.

Fresno

acres charred 333,350 structures damaged 71 other destroyed structures 856

5th largest wildre in state’s history when including complex res

55%

Houston

contained as of Oct. 12

HELPING HAND

Original crew in Strike Team 143 included 3 from Conroe Fire Department In late August Texas deployed: 44 reghters 10 re trucks 2 command vehicles On Sept. 11 , from 56 departments Texas deployed an additional: 190 reghters 50 re trucks 10 command vehicles

SOURCE: CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Stephan Cottar, the deputy chief and re marshal at the Conroe Fire Department, said it was the largest re season he had ever experienced. It helped kickstart the department to do more trainings to qualify its personnel for emergencies such as the one in California. “We had good wildre capability then, but it has certainly advanced quite a bit since then,” he said.

SOURCES: LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS, OFFICE OF GOV. GREG ABBOTT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

NEWS BRIEFS Homeless shelter plans advance

SJRAprojectsadvance for grants The San Jacinto River Authority is one step closer to funding its projects after the entity announced Sept. 23 that the Texas Water Devel- BY EVA VIGH Here are the SJRA proposed projects headed to the next round. CHOSENPROJECTS

BY VANESSA HOLT

The agreement is for up to $495,000 in CDBG funds for the project, and another $1.3 million is coming from a Homeless Emergency Services Grant as part of the CARES Act for building rehabilitation. The building is located at 109 Commercial Circle, Conroe, and will include seven bedrooms with a resident manager, according to the meeting agenda. “[Precinct 1 Commissioner] Mike [Meador] has told me so much about what you’re doing, and it’s so impressive. It’s so desperately needed,” Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said at the meeting. County Judge Mark Keough was not present at the Sept. 22 meeting.

Federal funds will help Montgom- ery County purchase and rehabilitate a building that will be used to help shelter homeless families. This proj- ect was previously discussed over the summer as commissioners decided how to use Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds. On Sept. 22, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved a Community Devel- opment Block Grant agreement with the nonprot group Family Promise to acquire a facility that will become a shelter for individ- uals experiencing homelessness and help isolate families during contagious disease events. The acquisition comes from scal year 2020-21 funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development CDBG program and is a part of the county’s ve-year plan to develop facilities and support social service organizations, according to agenda materials.

• An Upper San Jacinto River Basin Regional Sedimentation Study that would identify and create a plan for implementing potential sedimentation solutions in the upper San Jacinto River Basin in the Lake Houston watershed • A Spring Creek Watershed Flood Control Dams Conceptual Engineering Feasibility Study that would perform a feasibility study of two potential dam/reservoir locations within the Spring Creek watershed • A Lake Conroe-Lake Houston Joint Reservoir Operations Study that would develop a joint reservoir operations and communications strategy for Lake Conroe and Lake Houston • A Flood Early Warning System for

opment Board ranked four of its ve proposed ood infrastructure projects as priorities for the 2020 Flood Infrastructure Fund cycle. The FIF program was passed by the Texas Legislature and provides nancial assistance via loans and grants for ood control, ood mitigation and drainage projects. With this selection, SJRA is now invited to submit full applications for the four projects for grant approval, according to the news release. TWDB is expected to make nal selections for grant and loan funding later this year. Chuck Gilman, SJRA director of water resources and ood manage- ment, said the next step is to nd local partners who can also commit to local match funding needed for the projects.

109 Commercial Circle, Conroe

SOURCE: SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER San Jacinto County that would provide for installation of rain and river/stream stage gauging equipment at three locations

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GUIDE

Candidates and information for November elections

COMPILED BY EVA VIGH

VOTER GUIDE 2020

DATES TOKNOW

WHERE TOVOTE Montgomery County residents can vote at any center during early voting. Election Day locations are by precinct. Find sample ballots and polling locations at https://elections. mctx.org.

OCT. 13 First day of early voting OCT. 23 Last day to apply for ballot by mail* OCT. 30 Last day of early voting NOV. 3 Election Day *DATE RECEIVED, NOT POSTMARKED

SAMPLE BALLOT

*Incumbent

D Democrat

L Libertarian

R Republican

R Robert Walker D Mike Midler Montgomery County sheri R Rand Henderson* D Maher Husseini District judge, 457th Judicial District R Vince Santini* D Marc Meyer CITY OF CONROE Mayor Jody Czajkoski Toby Powell* City Council, Place 1

Duane Ham* Todd Yancey City Council, Place 2 Carl White Curt Maddux Place 5

Bill Clevenger Sara Countryman* Position 1 Carol Langely

Scott Moore* MONTGOMERY ISD Board of trustees, Position 1 Jim Dossey* Mike Hopkins Board of trustees, Position 2 Adam Simmons* Shawn Denison Board of trustees, Position 3

LOCAL U.S. House, District 8 R Kevin Brady* D Elizabeth Hernandez L Chris Duncan Texas Senate, District 4 R Brandon Creighton* D Jay Stittleburg L Cameron Brock Texas House, District 15 R Steve Toth* D Lorena Perez McGill Montgomery County commissioner, Precinct 1

Mark Ferraz Position 4 Julie Davis Nick Haddad

Clarence Lewis Jr. Frances McDougal Frank Jackson Keith Armstrong Kelley Inman Marsha Porter CITY OF MONTGOMERY Mayor

CONROE ISD Board of trustees, Position 6 Ashley Fehrle Stacey Chase Board of trustees, Position 7 Miesha Weaver

Ron Herridge Laurie Turner

For more election information, visit communityimpact.com/vote .

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15

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • OCTOBER 2020

Jody’s Priorities:

Jody’s Priorities:

Fight to lower our water bills. Keep our taxes low. NO increases. Maintain Conroe’s fantastic quality of lif Jody C 6107 Ca Conroe

Fight to lower our water bills. Keep our taxes low. NO increases. Maintain Conroe’s fantastic quality of life!

ENDORSED BY Jody’s Priorities:

ENDORSED BY

Fight to lower our water bil Keep our taxes low. NO incr Maintain Conroe’s fantastic

ENDORSED BY

Conroe Police Officers Association Conroe Fire Fighters Association

Republican Voters of Texas PAC

Conroe Police Officers Association Conroe Fire Fighters Association

Republican Voters of

Conroe Police Officers Associat Conroe Fire Fighters Association

Jody’s Priorities:

Fight to lower our water bills. Keep our taxes low. NO increases. Maintain Conroe’s fantastic quality of life!

ENDORSED BY

Political ad paid for by Jody Czajkoski

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CANDIDATES

2020 Voter Guide

Get to know the candidates running in the general election

Democrat D

Libertarian L

Republican R

Incumbent

COMPILED BY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER STAFF

U.S. House, District 8

Texas Senate, District 4

Texas House, District 15

Occupation: lawyer Experience: counsel at the Organization of American States; former adjunct faculty www.lorenafortexas.com LORENA MCGILL

STEVE TOTH

Occupation: U.S. Congressman KEVIN BRADY

Occupation: media, former chemical plant operator Experience: assistant swim coach 713-703-3750 CAMERON BROCK

Occupation: small- business owner; realtor Experience: two terms in Texas Legislature

Experience: chairman of House Committee on Ways and Means

D

R

L

R

www.stevetothfortexas.com

www.bradyforcongress.com

ELIZABETH HERNANDEZ

BRANDON CREIGHTON

Montgomery CountyPrecinct 1 commissioner What are the biggest issues facing the county in 2021?

Occupation: accountant Experience: three children; 20 years of accounting; bachelor’s degree in accounting https://lizfortx8.com

Occupation: attorney, small-business owner, rancher

The biggest issue in Montgomery County will always be mobility and growth. We are a very conservative county and people want to move here with their families. With people comes more homes and trac. The well-being of the citizens ... should be the top priority ... [including] taking science-based measures to ... COVID[-19], protecting small businesses ... and preventing [residents] from losing their homes.

ROBERT WALKER

Experience: House District 16 (2007-14) https://brandoncreighton.com

D

R

Occupation: Business owner Experience: owner of multi- million dollar business www.walkerMCTX.org

CHRIS DUNCAN

Occupation: project manager, oil and gas Experience: veteran, task force on behavioral health/suicide prevention www.jaystittleburg.com JAY STITTLEBURG

R

Occupation: sales manager for oil-eld business; law student Experience: economics degree www.facebook.com/chrisduncanlptexas

MIKE MIDLER

Occupation: retired educator Experience: veteran; political science/forensic studies degree www.votemidler.org

L

D

D

Answers may have been edited for length. Read full Q&A’s at communityimpact.com/vote .

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