Conroe - Montgomery Edition | August 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 5  AUG. 19SEPT. 17, 2020

ONLINE AT

New!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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

D E A T H S O N T H E

$

$

$

Lake Conroe has been the site of at least 28 drowning deaths in the past 10 years. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

Drownings mount on Lake Conroe as this year’s fourth victim claimed

COVID19 contact tracing hits roadblocks IMPACTS

5

BY EVA VIGH

into the water and never resurface. Witnesses immediately plunged into the water in an attempt to locate him but were unsuccessful, accord- ing to the constable’s oce. They called 911, and emer- gency personnel in boats started searching for the

subject with side-scan sonar units. At 8:28 pm, the victim—a 39-year old man from Mont- gomery—was recovered in about 6 feet of water. It was the fourth drown- ing that resulted in death this year on Lake Conroe reported by the constable’s

oce, and it followed the drowning death of an 81-year-old man July 12. Since 2010, there have been 26 deaths by drowning on Lake Conroe reported by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, in addition to the Aug. 4 and July 12 CONTINUED ON 20

Montgomery Coun- ty’s Precinct 1 Constable’s Oce received a call at 8 p.m. Aug. 4 about a drown- ing that had just occurred on Lake Conroe in Walden. According to the consta- ble’s oce, witnesses said they saw the victim jump

CORONAVIRUS

9

INSIDE INFORMATION WEIGHING EDUCATION OPTIONS

Ocials aimto balance public healthwith individual liberties

Orders Ignored

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN, ANDY LI, BEN THOMPSON & EVA VIGH

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Montgomery County has clashed with statewide public health orders.

Throughout the pandemic, Mont- gomery County ocials said they have worked to balance the need to uphold publichealthwhileprotecting the rights of individuals—but some health experts have disagreed with the approach. When the rst cases of COVID- 19 hit Texas in March, Montgomery County trailed behind Harris County in declaring a public health emergency,

13

SOURCES: GOV. GREG ABBOTT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

MARCH: SHELTER-IN-PLACE County Judge Mark Keough said he would not issue a shelter-in-place order, despite counties across the state issuing their own.

JULY: FACE MASKS

Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texans to wear face masks in public, but county ocials said they will not enforce the order.

“I AM AMAZED AND PROFOUNDLY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE GOVERNOR’S DECISION TO REMOVE THE SELF-GOVERNANCE AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FROM THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS.” MARK KEOUGH, MONTGOMERY COUNTY JUDGE

CONTINUED ON 22

TASTE THE ASIAN

19

Contribute today! Use your phone camera to scan the QR code or visit

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. Make an impact. Become a #CommunityPatron .

SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM

COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON

TOO SOON TO STOP TOGETHER, WE CAN STOP THE SPREAD. When COVID-19 first hit our cit y, Houstonians rallied together to stop its spread. But the job’s not done yet. It ’s simply too soon to stop practicing the behaviors we know help protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. • Wear your mask • Wash your hands • Keep 6 feet apart • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care

#CountingOnHou

memorialhermann.org/coronavirus

2

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

5

Now Open, Coming Soon &more TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 7 Recent construction updates CORONAVIRUS 9 County faces contact tracing challenges ECONOMY 11 PPP loans help local businesses EDUCATION 12 Lone Star College plans opening INSIDE INFORMATION 13 Local school districts weigh the options for virtual and in-person learning CITY& COUNTY 17 The latest local news

FROMCHRISSY: One of the greatest attractions in the Conroe/Montgomery area is Lake Conroe. Since social distancing went into place earlier this year, the lake has seen even more people coming out to enjoy boating, shing and water sports. Our front-page story focuses on lake safety, and sadly, Lake Conroe has seen four drownings so far this year. Read more to learn law enforcement’s eorts and proper safety protocol while out on the water. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett, cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Eva Vigh REPORTER Andy Li SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kaitlin Schmidt 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 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 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.COMCIPATRON CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 PRESS RELEASES comnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

FROMEVA: As the school year approaches, parents and students are anxiously asking: “What will classrooms look like? What are my students learning options? Will school be safe?” We have done our best to answer these questions (see Page 13) based o the latest information as of press time provided to us by Conroe, Montgomery and Willis ISDs. Eva Vigh, EDITOR

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

Local sources 26

New businesses 7

School districts plan for reopening 3

4

Transportation updates

DINING FEATURE

19

Taste the Asian Mobile Food Trailer REAL ESTATE

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

24

Residential market data IMPACT DEALS

25

Local coupons

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

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.

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

IT’S NOT LIKE HOME. IT IS HOME.

Now providing rapid results COVID-19 testing for new move- ins

For the first time in a long time:

LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE BOOK YOUR TOUR TODAY

Cottage & Assisted Living available now for immediate move-in Book Your Virtual Tour Today!

INDEPENDENT LIVING ASSISTED LIVING • MEMORY CARE

Laughter is essential. Friendship is essential. Senior Living is essential.

336

2275 Riverway Drive Conroe, TX 77304 (936) 703-5333 Visit us online at www.WoodhavenVillage.com

45

A SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY

3

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

Southern Charm Meets Urban Excitement THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

NEW SECTION NOW OPEN, PRICED FROM THE MID 200’S

W.G. Jones State Forest

1488

Stillwater, a master-planned community within The Woodlands area, is located within minutes of I-45 and bordered by WG Jones State Forest. Enjoy the best of all worlds– a retreat into nature featuring a Lowcountry-inspired architectural approach and lifestyle along with easy access to all The Woodlands has to offer.

45

242

NEW MODELS NOW OPEN

Zoned to CISD The Woodlands High School

Call Johnny Cochran or Kimbra Gaby to make your appointment today at 281-681-0400

The Hill 2224 Pintail Lane & 2228 Pintail Lane

New Chapel East 2394 Hagerman Road Conroe, Texas 77384

P R O S P E R f r o m t h e $ 1 M M ’ s C U S T O M H O M E S I N S T I L L W A T E R

Contact Kecia Haseman 713 -515-4948 and Arlene English 713-367-7333 with Compass Realty

2111 COACH ST. TD Cox Custom Homebuilder

2119 COACH ST. Tommy Bailey Custom Homes

2116 COACH ST. Partners In Building

2103 COACH ST. Partners In Building

Karen Gaines Office: 713-452-1366 Cell: 702-338-7171 Email: Karen.Gaines@PartnersInBuilding.com

WELCOME NEW PROSPER BUILDER PARTNERS IN BUILDING

S t i l l w a t e r T X . c o m

4

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

75

45

IMPACTS

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

COMPILED BY ANDY LI & EVA VIGH

1484

LAKE CONROE

2

1

CONROE PARK W. DR.

3083

Conroe Waterpark COURTESY CITY OF CONROE PARKS AND RECREATION

105

FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN The Conroe Waterpark opened Aug. 4 at 1207 Candy Cane Lane, next to the Conroe Aquatic Center. The new water park features a children’s wading pool with a playground and an older youth- adult pool with a basketball hoop. There are now ve water slides, and three are three-story tower slides. Admission is $8 per person. Visitors are allowed to bring in coolers and food. No glass containers or alcoholic beverages are allowed. Swimsuits and face masks are required on entry. 936-522-3930. www.cityofconroe.org

336

CONROE

45

105

S T .

75

3083

5

336

3

6

8

7

9

4

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

N

45

NOWOPEN 1 Open Arms Boutique opened July 25 at 3501 N. Frazier St., Conroe. The boutique is a branch of the nonprot I Am Whole, which works with individu- als with attention decit hyperactivity disorder, and was founded in 2018, according to founder Jacorea Taylor. The boutique takes clothing, furniture and home goods donations. 936-539-4229. www.iam-whole.org 2 Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. opened its service center at 600 Conroe Park W. Drive, Conroe, on Aug. 3. According to a news release, this $11.1 million center employs 72 people and allows faster response times for

6 Grand Central Storage opened July 21 at 1040 Gladstell St., Conroe. The storage facility oers electronic gate access, 24/7 video surveillance and month-to-month leases on storage units. 936-539-9510.

to catering, the storefront also oers lunch barbecue options. The storefront is open 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through

Saturday. 936-760-2449. www.darrelscatering.com 4 Starbucks opened June 1 at

CANDY CANE LN.

75

N

vwww.mygcstorage.com COMING SOON

235 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 100, Conroe, in the Grand Central Park Marketplace. The coee shop has about 20 employees and oers a drive-thru and nitro cold brew taps. 936-247-0702. www.starbucks.com military-themed cafe oers a variety of classic American dishes. The cafe also oers Legacy of Patriots, in which it selects a veteran, interviews them and their family, serves their favorite meals throughout the month and then donates a portion of the proceeds to the charity of their choice. 832-672-1860. www.honorcafe.us 5 Honor Cafe opened June 13 at 103 N. Thompson St, Conroe. The

provides care for orphans in Haiti and India. 281-814-5558. www.luvcoee.net RELOCATIONS 9 Family First Urgent Care relocated from 2101 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe, to 2510 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe, in the TransMed Center on Aug. 1. The fa- cility oers treatment options for injuries, illnesses, physicals, pediatric services, X-rays and in-house lab testing. The facil- ity also opened New Leaf Spa and Laser at the location this year. 936-235-2825. www.familyrsturgentcareconroe.com

7 Woodforest National Bank will open its 29th Montgomery County location at 895 Fish Creek Thoroughfare, Montgom- ery, in early 2021. The bank will have 22,000 square feet of space as well as drive-thru and ATM services. 877-968-7962. www.woodforest.com 8 Luv Coee will open this winter at 791 Fish Creek Thoroughfare, Montgom- ery. The cafe will serve coee, pastries and healthy food. The cafe is part of Coreluv, a Christian nonprot that

deliveries to North Houston. 936-494-1416. www.od.com

3 Darrel’s Catering opened July 16 at 101 Silverdale Drive, Conroe. In addition

Discover what real wealth can look like at every stage of life!

EXPERIENCED ADVICE

– Now More Than Ever™

Call us 832-585-0110 • Email us info@hfgwm.com Visit us in-person or online www.hfgwm.com

5

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

ThankYouHeroes

The Woodlands Hospital | Lakeside Hospital | Springwoods Village Hospital StLukesHealth.org

6

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

ONGOING PROJECTS

Timeline: February-November Cost: $3.15 million

Funding source: city of Conroe UPCOMING PROJECT 3 Montgomery Park Boulevard signal installation The city of Conroe received bids in early August for a project to install Texas Department of Transportation standard mast arms along North Loop 336 at Montgomery Park Boulevard. Timeline: TBD Cost: TBD Funding source: city of Conroe COMPLETED PROJECT 4 Traffic signals installed at three sites The city of Conroe finished installing mast-arm traffic signals at A Sgt. Ed Holcomb Boulevard at Camelot Street as well as Wally Wilkerson Parkway at B Conroe Park West Drive and C Pollok Drive in late July. Timeline: January-July Cost: $610,862 Funding source: city of Conroe

75

4B 4C

WALLY WILKERSON PKWY.

POLLOK DR.

CONROE PARK W. DR.

ANDY LI/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

45

1

1 Longmire Road widening Contractor Larry Young Paving has laid about 9,400 feet of sidewalk for a $12 million project to widen and upgrade about 3 miles of road from two to four lanes, including hike and bike trails. Timeline: May 2019-November 2020 Cost: $12 million Funding source: city of Conroe 2 Westview Boulevard, Montgomery Park Boulevard rehabilitation Contractor Precise Services has begun installing storm sewer piping and pouring the sidewalks for a project to install more than 3,000 feet of sidewalk and new water lines along Westview and Mont- gomery Park boulevards.

3083

1484

105

2

336

WESTVIEW BLVD.

MONTGOMERY PARK BLVD.

3

CAMELOT ST.

336

105

4A

45

SGT. ED HOLCOMB BLVD.

75

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF AUG. 4. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWS@COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

MAP NOT TO SCALE N

PREMIER HOMES

Affordable Luxury

No Payment for up to 90 Days! **** Applications due before 8/31/20 **** Call Today! Deadline extended!

936-264-3335 premierhomesconroe@gmail.com

Your Greater Houston Franklin Homes Dealer

12886 Hwy 105 East Conroe, TX 77306

Lic#: 35865

7

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

In Higher Education Bridging the Digital Divide

Lone Star College is providing laptops to make sure our students have the tools they need to succeed.

LoneStar.edu/Laptops

8

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CORONAVIRUS Texas contact tracing eorts hit roadblocks as COVID19 cases rise

The Texas Department of State Health Services oered to conduct contact tracing and contact investigations for each health department in the state. Some counties opted in to either service, and others chose to opt out entirely. All of the counties in the Greater Houston region are initiating contact tracing investigations locally. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is handling contact tracing for several counties in the region. Stopping the spread

BY EVA VIGH

data at the county level into a state- wide management system. “The call center has been able to handle its workload with capacity remaining to continue to assist local health entities that would like assis- tance. Both we and the local health departments continue to add sta,” Van Deusen said. Centralized eort Despite the state’s eorts to centralize its database, local health departments are still taking dierent approaches to contact tracing, using a combination of local or state-based tracing and investigation. In a list Community Impact Newspaper obtained through DSHS, Collin County was the only local health entity to have chosen DSHS to conduct both case investigations and contact tracing as of early July, and the majority of counties—including Montgomery County—opted to continue managing both. However, Casey said he believes all counties should be required to let the state handle contact tracing and case interviews. “I think there is a tremendous dis- advantage to not having a centralized approach,” Casey said. “For someone like me crunching numbers on a daily basis, if you’re only in part way, we’re only getting part of the information.” And, although the DSHS claims the state’s contact tracers are handling the workload, Montgomery County Public Health District reported July 15 it was experiencing a backlog of cases. To handle the increased num- ber of contact investigations, county ocials oered additional sta to assist, MCPHD reported. MCPHD originally had six sta members performing contact inves- tigations as well as two additional DSHS contract workers. As of July 21, the entity had 20 sta fromMCPHD, Montgomery County Health District and the county doing contact tracing and three others performing case entry and documentation duties, in addition to the two state tracers, MCPHD Public Information Ocer Misti Willingham said. Casey said counties that are

Burgeoning coronavirus cases and a lack of contact tracers statewide are just some of the challenges making contact tracing in Texas increasingly dicult, public health workers said. The eects have been felt in Mont- gomery County, where the county’s public health district reported a backlog of positive cases in mid-July. But even as the state moves towards a more centralized system of managing its contact tracing, some experts say these eorts will not be enough. “There just aren’t enough contact tracers,” said Walter Casey, associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, who also works for the Texas A&M Emergency Management Advisory Group and has expertise in trend forecasting statistical modeling. “We don’t have enough people in public health.” Test, trace and treat Contact tracing begins with a COVID-19 case investigation, or contacting a known infected person and identifying who he or she may have been in contact with. These individuals are then contacted to warn them of potential exposure, Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services, said in an email. In Texas, local health authorities were initially tasked with handling their own contact tracing and case investigations, said Angela Clen- denin, an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Epi- demiology and Biostatistics at Texas A&M University. But since then, cases have skyrocketed. Statewide, total reported cases reached 500,620 on Aug. 11, accord- ing to the Department of State Health and Human Services. Of the total cases, 252,884 were reported in July alone. The state had been anticipating an uptick in cases, which is why it launched a centralized database known as Texas Health Trace, Clendenin said. The system uploads coronavirus case and contact tracing

Methods of t racki ng CONTACT INVESTIGATION Investigators contact known infected people and identify who they have been in contact with. *Waller and Liberty counties’ contact investigations are done by DSHS regional oces. CONTACT TRACING Tracers contact people the infected person had contact with to warn them of potential exposure. Key: State Local

Montgomery

Liberty*

Waller*

Harris

Fort Bend

County

Population (2019) 4.71 MILLION

Total cases as of Aug. 11

86,563 10,021

Har r i s

811,688 607,391 88,219 55,246

For t Bend

6,776

Montgomery

913

Li ber ty Wa l l er

464

Local efforts to expand contact trac ing

The Montgomery County Public Health District reported a backlog of cases July 15, the same day it announced additional contact tracing sta would be provided. Prior to July 15, the MCPHD had 6 sta members performing contact investigations and 2 additional DSHS contract workers . The MCPHD now has 20 sta doing contact tracing and 3 others performing case entry and documentation duties, plus 2 DSHS contract workers doing tracing. As of Aug. 11, the status of 437 active cases—such as whether an individual is in self isolation— had not yet been conrmed as contact investigations continue.

SOURCES: READYHARRIS, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU VARIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

experiencing a backlog of cases could “tremendously hamper public health eorts.” Nearing capacity To illustrate how time-consuming contact tracing can be, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said in a Facebook post that contact investigators must con- tact “all individuals that the patient recalls coming into contact with in prior days, meaning sometimes, they must contact over 100 individuals.” Casey said there could come a point where the volume of cases far

outweighs the available labor, partic- ularly in densely populated cities. Casey said epidemiologists esti- mate that point is when about 2% of the population is infected—which in Texas’ case would be about 700,000- 800,000 people, he said. Besides increasing workloads, Casey said contact tracers are also challenged by people simply not answering their phones. “That is the biggest factor that is hurting contact tracers across the nation, and we are seeing some of that starting in Texas,” he said. “If the phone rings, answer it.”

9

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

Our customers come first. Now, more than ever. New payment options for COVID-19 relief. At Entergy Texas, we recognize the immense impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our customers and how disruptive it continues to be. And we know that now, electricity is more important than ever. So for those struggling to make ends meet, we’ve developed new payment options to provide some relief during these uncertain times. Our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan provides flexible options to extend time to pay with payment arrangements. Any customer experiencing financial hardship is eligible to take up to 12 months to pay their current bill and/or unpaid balances. For added convenience, new self-service options are available to select the extended payment arrangement that works for you. Visit entergytexas.com/mypaymentoptions , or select Deferred Payment on the Entergy Mobile App, or call 1-800-ENTERGY and follow our automated response system billing and payment menu.

entergytexas.com/mypaymentoptions

A message from Entergy Texas, Inc. ©2020 Entergy Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

10

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

ECONOMY Thousands ofMontgomeryCountybusinesses, nonprots get paycheck protection loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration released information on 2,636 small businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans in the Lake Conroe area. APPROVED LOANS INNORTHMONTGOMERY COUNTY LOOKING FOR LOANS

BY ZIP CODE

Under $150K Over $150K

Staying aoat Among the high-end recipients was nonprot Interfaith of The Woodlands, which received $833,000 in assistance and saved 125 jobs to serve a large area of Montgomery County. Interfaith CEOMissy Herndon said the money received went to cover salaries and benets for sta, rent for the Interfaith Hand Me Up Shop and utilities. Herndon said the program allowed Interfaith to return to full sta and resume at full salaries as well as ensure it could still operate for the community. Interfaith sta has been able to provide core services of food, shelter, clothing and crisis nancial assistance to help keep people in their homes. Todd Weaver, a managing partner of Woodson’s Local Tap + Kitchen— which operates two locations on FM 1488 in Conroe and Riley Fuzzel Road in Spring—said a PPP loan of between $350,000 and $1 million provided enough stability to retain all of the restaurant’s nearly 150 employees. Still, the money did not alleviate all of the challenges asso- ciated with the pandemic and the series of closure orders and capacity limits implemented this year. “The amount we got helped immensely with payroll, but as a business it didn’t cover all of our expenses that hit while not making any income,” Weaver said in an email. Weaver said Woodson’s has not let any of its employees go during the spring or summer, and the pair of eateries remain open at 50%

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN, ANDY LI & BEN THOMPSON

531

77318

Paycheck Protection Program data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration on July 6 shows thousands of organizations through- out the Conroe, Montgomery and Willis area received loans ranging from $300 to potentially as high as $10 million that reportedly saved tens of thousands of jobs. The SBA data was released in two portions covering loans of less than $150,000 and loans of $150,000 and above. Information for the lower bracket included exact loan amounts with business names with- held, and information within the higher bracket included business names across several ranges of loan amounts received. Loan details included in this report cover all businesses and nonprots that received loans throughout the eight ZIP codes within Community Impact Newspa- per ’s coverage area. According to SBA data, 2,636 businesses in the Conroe, Montgom- ery and Willis areas received PPP loans. The average loan for the lower bracket was just over $34,500. Of the businesses that were given loans, the industries that received the most included professional, scientic and technical services. Only three businesses received loans of between $5 million and $10 million: Turbo Drill Industries, Hempel and Southern Mail Service. According to the SBA, the loans to these three businesses saved 801 jobs.

168 181

149

77356

77303

45

623

105

469

77306

77304

448

77301

164

77316

519

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 N

77302

BY AMOUNT

Three businesses received loans from

<$1,000 $1,000-$9,999 $10,000-$24,999 $25,000-$49,999 $50,000-$99,999 $100,000-$150,000 $150,001-$350,000 $350,001-$1M

$5.1M-$10M. • Turbo Drill Industries Inc. • Hempel USA Inc. • Southern Mail Service Inc.

$1.1M-$2M $2.1M-$5M $5.1M-$10M

0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800

SOURCE: U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

capacity. Even with the support of the loan, however, Weaver said the rest of this year remains uncertain for the restaurant. The Montgomery County Food Bank was another local nonprot to see its operations drastically change this year due to COVID-19. Lindy Johnson, the organization’s director of development, said uncertainty surrounding the availability of food shipments and increasing client demand in the spring led to a rise in distribution activity—and concerns of possible layos or service reductions. “We had approximately 24 employees at the beginning of 2020,

and without the PPP loan we were looking at salary cuts or sta layos,” Johnson said in an email. “The PPP loan allowed us to avoid these steps and maintain our entire team which was essential for us to meet the need of our regular clients.” Johnson said the loan, which was in the $150,000-$350,000 range, covered operational and salary needs for eight weeks. Johnson said the food bank expects to continue providing pantry items in the com- munity this year as needed, although future supply concerns and a need for volunteers to assist with food distribution remain.

Conveniently pre-packaged

twinliquors.com

Combo Packs Get your happy hour delivered! Order online or download our mobile app for quick and easy delivery or in-store pick up.

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 orders. Exclusions apply. Please drink responsibly.

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

REOPENING PREPARATIONS Lone Star College System has prepared to open 24 buildings for the fall semester, when both in-person and online instruction will be available.

EDUCATION

Lone Star College Systemforms strategy to safely reopen in fall

have been reopened across LSCS have been thoroughly cleaned, and if a student or staff member tests positive for coronavirus, the building the individual was in will be closed for further sanitation. LSCS is also using stimulus funding to provide 5,000 loaner computers to students in need that can be checked out through the LSCS Office of Technology Services. LSCS received a total of $30 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding, which can also be used to provide grants to help cover other student expenses. LSCS Media Relations Manager Bill Van Rysdam said in mid-July the college was unable to determine how the coronavirus had affected enroll- ment numbers for the fall because numbers are not publicly available until an audit and verification is completed in September. Information from LSCS states the college had 87,656 students for the fall 2019 semester—a decrease since 2018, although enrollment was up in the spring year over year.

FALL OPTIONS

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

when entering a building. “We have asked the college

Lone Star College System is planning a combination of online and in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester, with online classes beginning Aug. 24 and in-person classes beginning Sept. 8. “We remain committed to ensur- ing the health and safety of our students,” LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said in an Aug. 3 news release. The fall 2020 semester will consist of 50% online classes, 25% a com- bination of online and face-to-face courses, and the remaining 25% face-to-face classes, according to the news release from LSCS. The buildings open in the fall will be limited to students who are taking classes with face-to-face instruction, officials said. Students and instruc- tors will be required to undergo a temperature check, wear a mask and complete a health questionnaire

presidents to be creative and inno- vative in their planning by offering block scheduling, afternoons, nights, Friday, Saturday and, where needed, Sunday classes,” Head said. “We are also preparing contingency plans to shift back to 100% online classes if the situation warrants in the fall.” Kyle Scott, vice chancellor of stra- tegic priorities, said other precautions include designated entrances and exits and distribution of face masks for students who do not have them. The college has $4 million budgeted for masks, officials said. “There are going to be certain programs, like vet tech, that would require more [personal protective equipment], but those would be required in a non-COVID[-19] situa- tion anyways,” Scott said. Scott said the 24 buildings that

25% In person

50% Online

25% Online/in-person hybrid

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Social distancing markers

Cleaning/sanitizing buildings

Temperature checkpoints

Masks provided for students

SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Welcome to the new community of Fairwater. Ideally situated in the Conroe/Montgomery area, this neighborhood offers an outstanding location zoned to Montgomery ISD schools, including the new Lake Creek High School, which is just minutes from Fairwater. Add all this to an exciting planned amenity package to include a splash pad and playground and it’s easy to picture Fairwater as your new home. DIRECTIONS: Take I-45 North, exit FM 105 and turn left. Take 105 to FM 2854 and turn left. Fairwater will be on the left. fairwatercommunity.com

NEW HOMES from the mid $200s ASK ABOUT SPECIAL GRAND OPENING BUILDER INCENTIVES!

No purchase necessary for free car wash offer. One per family and must complete contactless registration form to be eligible. No cash value.

12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

INSIDE INFORMATION

COMPILED BY ANDY LI & EVA VIGH

MONTGOMERY ISD FIRST DAY: AUG. 13

CONROE ISD FIRST DAY: AUG. 12

WILLIS ISD FIRST DAY: AUG. 12

WEIGHING THE

The Texas Education Agency said July 28 it will follow the guidance laid out by Attorney General Ken Paxton and will not allow schools to close in- person instruction based solely on a blanket order from a local health authority. That means schools could still begin the year virtually for four weeks with a potential extension for an additional four weeks while retaining state funding. However, those decisions would be subject to a vote of the local school board— not an order from a local public health authority. Conroe, Montgomery and Willis ISDs have opted to begin their school years virtually. Here is how reopening may look for each district. OPTIONS

WHAT ARE THE DISTRICT'S PLANS FOR BEGINNING THE SCHOOL YEAR?

• Classlink will be used as a single sign-on service. • Students at Montgomery ISD are required to spend 240 minutes per day in class. STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA, NO INTERNET AND OTHER REASONS COULD RETURN TO CLASS AUG. 17. ALL STUDENTS BEGIN AUG. 31.

• First 4 weeks of school will be online for most students. • Then choice of in-person or remote will be oered. • Both real-time lessons and prerecorded lessons will be oered. • 5%-10% of student population with the most needs will attend in person. • This will progress every week. SELECT STUDENTS COULD RETURN TO CLASS AUG. 12. IN-PERSON LEARNING IS PLANNED FOR SEPT. 8. DURING THE SUMMER, WHEN ABOUT 1,500 CISD EMPLOYEES ARE WORKING FULL-TIME, THERE WERE POINTS WHEN 20% OF CISD STAFF WERE OUT DUE TO SICKNESS OR QUARANTINE.

• Both real-time lessons and prerecorded lessons will be oered. • Students from third to 12th grade can expect two to three hours of work a day, depending on their grade level and course. SELECT STUDENTS COULD RETURN TO CLASS AUG. 17. ALL STUDENTS MAY RETURN SEPT. 8.

COMMON CONCERNS: HOW WILL STATE MANDATES AFFECT LOCAL DISTRICTS?

SOURCES: CONROE ISD, MONTGOMERY ISD, WILLIS ISD, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

• During the summer, when about 1,500 employees are working full time, there were points when 20% of sta were out due to sickness or quarantine. COVID-19 OUTBREAK District may close schools if a large amount of students and sta have been quarantined. THERE IS A MANDATORY 14-DAY QUARANTINE SET BY THE TEA FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF WHO HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19.

TRANSPORTATION • As of press time, districts were awaiting clarication from the state on procedures for how to handle transportation issues when in-person school resumes. • Buses are restricted in the number of students they can take. • For example, at MISD, buses are restricted to 15 students, and the district has 74 passenger buses.

STAAR TESTS

MASKS

When students do return to campus, face masks or face shields will be required under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order. THIS WILL APPLY TO EVERYONE IN A BUILDING OVER THE AGE OF 10 WHENEVER SOCIAL DISTANCING CANNOT BE ENFORCED.

• On July 27, Gov. Greg Abbott waived some aspects of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness for students in fth to eighth grades. • Student performance on STAAR typically determines whether that student will graduate to the next grade level. • While students will still receive an A-F rating, the test will not be used to hold students back from entering middle or high school.

• • • • •

13

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

Your Home. Your College. Your Success.

Let us be a part of your story. Fall Classes Begin Aug. 24

LoneStar.edu/Welcome

LSC will provide 5,000 free laptops to students for the entire fall semester.

We are reopened and ready to serve you!

DENTAL Implants * FOR ONLY $ 999 EACH *DOES NOT INCLUDE FINAL RESTORATION

CUSTOM REPLACEMENT Full Dentures STARTING AT $ 495 EACH WIHT WARRANTY

NO CASH VALUE EXPIRES IN 90 DAYS

NO CASH VALUE EXPIRES IN 90 DAYS

Extractions STARTING AT $ 69 PER TOOTH WITH DENTURE PURCHASE EXPIRES IN 90 DAYS

FREE EXAM & X-RAY $100 VALUE EXPIRES IN 90 DAYS

10% Price Beat Guarantee* *MUST HAVE ITEMIZED TREATMENT PLAN FROM LICENSED DENTIST FOR IDENTICAL SERVICES (EXCLUDES GOVERNMENT AND CHARITY SUBSIDIZED PLANS).

DDS ® DENTURES + IMPLANT SOLUTIONS ® OF CONROE, TX • 1142 W. Dal las St reet • Conroe, TX 77301 • www.ConroeDentalSer vice.com

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TODAY! (936) 337-0500

Adam Tyler Barnes, DDS of Texas II, PLLC - General Dentistry Jesse Lemoine, DDS

From September 1-30, The Howard Hughes Corporation will donate $500* to local charities for every newhome purchased in TheWoodlands Hills. Visit TheWoodlandsHills.com for details. TheWoodlands Hills is located 13 miles north of TheWoodlands. Fall Giving Drive Together, we’re changing lives one home at a time.

New homes available from the $227s to $500s+

*After closing, The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) will make a $500 contribution to one of the following charitable organizations as selected by the buyer: Montgomery County Food Bank, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Yes to Youth, HomeAid Houston or Cy-Fair Educational Foundation. A registration form must be completed at the time the contract is signed. Sales contracts not signed between 9/1/20 and 9/30/20 will not qualify. Homes must close on or before 9/30/21. Homes within The Woodlands Hills and Bridgeland are constructed and sold by builders not affiliated with HHC or any of its affiliates, companies or partnerships. Neither HHC nor any of its affiliated companies or partnerships guarantees or warrants the obligations of, or construction by, such builders. Prices and specifications subject to change.

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News fromMontgomery County, Conroe, Montgomery & Willis

Montgomery County eyes 1.4%tax rate drop MONTGOMERY COUNTY In a 3-2 vote, Montgomery County com- missioners proposed a property tax rate of $0.4412 per $100 valuation for fiscal year 2020-21 on July 31. A public hearing will be held Aug. 21. The vote on the FY 2020-21 rate was split. County Judge Mark Keough and Precinct 3 Commis- sioner James Noack voted for a lower effective tax rate of $0.4319 per BY BEN THOMPSON PROPOSED TAX RATE Montgomery County commissioners voted 3-2 on a tax rate of $0.4412 per $100 valuation in a July 31 special meeting. $0.4475 Fiscal year 2019-20 tax rate

$100 valuation, while Commission- ers Mike Meador, Charlie Riley and James Metts voted in favor of the $0.4412 rate. The effective tax rate, is one that generates an equal amount of tax revenue year over year and can be lowered annually as local property valuations increase.

The proposed tax rate represents a 1.41% decrease from the rate of $0.4475 per $100 valuation adopted for FY 2019-20. Based on the pro- posed rate, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay around $441 in property taxes.

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

$0.4412 Proposed FY 2020-21 tax rate 1.41% DECREASE $441 County property tax bill for a $100K home

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

CARES Act funding considered to fundprojects inMontgomery County

Vince Santini appointed to newdistrict court

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

FUNDS NEEDED Montgomery County officials discussed using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security Act funds at its July budget meetings. $4MILLION was allocated Aug. 11 for a forensic center

BY ANDY LI

MONTGOMERY COUNTY The Montgomery County Commissioners Court began prioritizing departmental projects in its budget workshops for fiscal year 2020-21. On July 28, commissioners discussed whether the county could reclassify federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for projects. The matter was discussed while the commissioners considered how to fund an $18 million forensic center for the sheriff’s office. County Attorney B.D. Griffin advised against reclassifying the funds before the federal funding period had expired. Griffin said those projects followed the instructions from the U.S. Treasury, but the forensic project may not be considered appropriate. Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said he had heard the federal funding period might be extended until the end of 2021. The federal coronavirus aid funding period is scheduled to expire Dec. 31. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said the court should operate

BY EVA VIGH

MONTGOMERY COUNTY Gov. Greg Abbott on July 23 appointed Vince Santini to the 457th Judicial District Court in Montgomery County for a term set to expire Dec. 31 or until a successor is elected. Santini beat his opponent, Eric Yollick, in the Republican primary runoff election July 14, garnering 78% of the votes. Santini received 18,767 votes, and Yollick received 5,274 votes. He will go on to face Democratic nominee Marc M. Meyer, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, in the Nov. 3 general election. The court was created to address a case backlog. The governor has the author- ity to make governmental appointments, which is one of the powers given by the state’s constitution, according to Abbott’s office.

713-224-3426 1403 Spring Cypress Rd Spring

for the sheriff’s office. $14MILLION is still needed to fully fund the forensic center.

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

under the assumption it would borrow funds to pay for the facility but understand the federal funding will be available after the funding period expires. In addition to the forensic center, Sheriff Rand Henderson proposed funding an indoor range that would allow for law enforcement training for the entire county. On Aug. 11, commissioners approved reallocating $4 million from the Capital Improvement Project's general fund balance to the forensic center.

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

MEETINGSWE COVER Meetings may be held by videoconference.

Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 25 and Sept. 8 at 501 N. Thompson St., Ste. 402, Conroe. www.mctx.org Conroe City Council meets at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 27 at 300 W. Davis St.,

Conroe. 936-522-3010. www.cityofconroe.org Montgomery City Council meets at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 at 101 Old Plantersville Road, Montgomery. 936-597-6434.

www.montgomerytexas.gov/ citycouncil Willis City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at 200 N. Bell St., Willis. 936-856-4611. www.ci.willis.tx.us

17

CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 2020

$ 500 CASH BACK * BRING HOME UP TO

• Mortgage Loans • Refinance • Home Equity Loans • Land Loans

Get cash back on select loans -- plus rates have never been better! Apply online now.

T

1021 Sawdust Road SPRING

3570 FM 1488 Road CONROE

TH

Federally Insured by NCUA Equal Housing Opportunity

*Offer of credit is subject to credit approval. Membership requirements apply. See website for details. Promotion dates August 1 -31, 2020. NMLS #464074

5PointCU.org | 1.800.825.8829 x3404

EXPERIENCE GRACEPOINT HOMES...VISIT TODAY! NEW INVENTORY AVAILABLE SOON, PRICED FROM THE MID 200’S.

GRACEPOINTHOMES.COM

Magnolia Reserve

Magnolia Reserve

Stillwater-New Chapel East

Woodforest Kingsley

New Community

New Community

$441,185 3369 SQ.FT., 1 STORY, 4 BR, 3/1 BA AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 2020 Gerald Jolly | 832-434-2100 21254 Hidden Bend Loop

$432,765 2988 SQ.FT., 1 STORY, 4 BR, 3 BA AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 2020 Gerald Jolly | 832-434-2100 305 Treaty Oak Court

2323 Hagerman Road

117 Pilazzo Street

$359,385 2887 SQ. FT., 2 STORY, 4BR, 3/1 BA AVAILABLE NOW! Johnny Cochran | 832-723-3663 Kimbra Gaby | 720-470-1882

$342,309 2477 SQ.FT., 2 STORY, 4 BR, 3/1 BA

AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER Gerald Jolly | 832-434-2100

Stillwater-The Hill

Stillwater-Sweetgrass

Stillwater-Pintail

Stillwater-New Chapel West

2209 Salt Grass Trail

2037 Bluestem Drive

WAS $782,659 NOW $689,990 3666 SQ. FT., 2 STORY, 4 BR, 4/1 BA AVAILABLE NOW! Kimbra Gaby | 720-470-1882 Johnny Cochran | 832-723-3663 2110 Gadwall Drive

2096 Laurie Darlin Drive

$546,986 3278 SQ. FT., 2 STORY, 4 BR, 3/1 BA AVAILABLE NOW! Kimbra Gaby | 720-470-1882 Johnny Cochran | 832-723-3663

WAS $1,098,350 NOW $989,990 4820 SQ. FT., 2 STORY, 5 BR, 5/1 BA AVAILABLE NOW! Kimbra Gaby | 720-470-1882 Johnny Cochran | 832-723-3663

$424,882 3267 SQ. FT., 1.5 STORY, 4 BR, 3 BA AVAILABLE NOW! Kimbra Gaby | 720-470-1882 Johnny Cochran | 832-723-3663

Prices, plans, specifications, square footage and availability subject to change without notice or prior obligation. Square footage is approximate and may vary upon elevations and/or options selected. Information given here is deemed to be correct, but not guaranteed. 10/19

18

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY ANDY LI

BUBBLE TEA: a beverage invented in Taiwan, popular in east Asia ($4.50)

AWORLDOF FLAVOR Taste The Asian mixes several well- known Asian and Southern dishes.

CURRY PUFF: a handpie with chicken or potatoes in pastry from Thailand (3 for $10)

Clockwise from back left: Kahlia, Kalyssa, San, Layna and Kelly Cheng help run the Taste the Asian Mobile Food Trailer. (Photos by Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

FRIED RICE: one of the most popular dishes in Asia that originated from China ($10)

Taste The AsianMobile Food Trailer Food truck brings family together, blends cultures and cuisines T he Taste the Asian Mobile Food Trailer in Conroe is a family aair for the Chengs.

Taste TheAsianMobile Food Trailer 539 N. Frazier St, Conroe 832-239-0331 www.facebook.com/tastetheasian Hours: Fri. noon-9 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m., closed Sun.-Thu. The trailer’s sample platter ($13) gives customers a variety of choices: noodles, egg rolls, pot stickers, shrimp cakes and a shrimp rice ball.

Conroe Automotive, San’s business. San said there have been moments of growth as they taught Khalia about running a business. “All the failure that I’ve been through already, I can actually help guide my daughter through all that,” San said. San said the trailer’s food also incorporates other Asian cultures with Korean kimchi and Chinese egg rolls. San said Asian food is very diverse, and even between himself and Kelly, there are dierences. “[Laotian] avor has a lot more heat than our avor,” San said. “[Cambodians] eat more savory, more sweet. They love everything hot and spicy.” Kelly said she often incorporates

her mother’s traditional ingredients into her cooking. But San said it still comes back to a Southern perspec- tive, fusing these avors with classic barbecue and brisket. During the coronavirus pandemic, while many other restaurants were closed, San and Kelly said the trailer saw a huge uptick in customers. Kelly said the trailer made stops to some neighborhoods so residents could stay close to home. “Now they’re saying they want us to keep it like that for the rest of the year,” Kelly said. San said the trailer allows people to remain socially distanced. “It’s sad that the pandemic occurred,” San said. “But ... we’re trying to make the best out of it.”

Husband and wife San and Kelly Cheng are the owners, but Kelly runs the day-to-day operations with their daughter, Khalia, a high school junior. They also get help from their nieces Jessica and Kalyssa. The food they serve—a combination of San’s Cambodian and Kelly’s Laotian heri- tage with classic Southern dishes—is inuenced by their mothers’ cooking. “We tried not to just focus on our heritage and our culture, but Southern food too,” San said. The trailer opened in April 2019 when Khalia approached her parents with the idea. Now, the trailer oper- ates out of the parking lot of Lake

PHILLIPS ST.

N

b their logo off the website) mber 129840449 as well as attached heri- he building)

19

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • AUGUST 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 14-15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28

communityimpact.com

Powered by