Conroe - Montgomery Edition | September 2021

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 7, ISSUE 6  SEPT. 17OCT. 14, 2021

ONLINE AT

AGROWINGDISTRICT

A demographic study released this spring projects Montgomery ISD will add more than 4,000 students in 10 years as a result of new residential developments.

Owner surrenders, COVID-19, distemper and sta shortages have hit the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

MISD is anticipated to grow more than45% in 10 years.

15K

15 unapproved new positions requested in 2018-20 county budget hearings 38%of intake from March-July from voluntary surrenders

6K 9K 12K

3K

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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Animal welfare resources, stang in Montgomery County stretched thin by COVID19 pandemic, county growth THE DOGDAYS

More than 9,500newhousing units are anticipated to be built from January 2021-October 2030 within MISD.

SOURCE: POPULATION & SURVEY ANALYSTSCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Montgomery ISDeyeing possibleMay 2022 bond

BY JISHNU NAIR

BY ANNA LOTZ

In an Aug. 16 news release, MCAS Assistant Director Mark Wysocki said the shutdown was needed to keep the shelter’s population stable. Wysocki said the combined outbreaks came at a bad time for the shelter, which took in 1,369 ani- mals in July and found adopters for 769. “[The COVID-19 outbreak] is coming at the worst time for us because it’s a bad distemper year,” Wysocki said. “Either of those are a bit of manage- rial work. Together it’s a managerial nightmare.” CONTINUED ON 22

Montgomery County Animal Services, which operates the county’s animal shelter, suspended intake services for two weeks in August due to a combinationofdistemper spreadingamonganimals and a COVID-19 outbreak among stamembers. It was the latest challenge facing the depart- ment, which also has experienced denied fund- ing requests, a decline in volunteers and a rising inux of animals being dropped o by their own- ers in the last year.

A demographic report completed this spring by demographics rm Population and Survey Analysts projects Montgomery ISD’s enrollment will grow more than 45% in 10 years. As a result, the district is begin- ning discussions for a possible May 2022 bond election, district ocials said. The study projectsMISDwill grow from9,235 students in the 2021-22 school year to more than 13,000 students in the 2030-31 school year. CONTINUED ON 25

Hyatt Regency Conroe hotel underway

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

These are challenging times for Greater Houston communities contending with yet another wave of COVID-19. The serious illness and loss of life is a tragedy for affected families, and it is taking a physical and emotional toll on medical professionals. As CEO of St. Luke’s Health, which includes Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (the research and teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine) and St. Joseph Health in Brazos Valley, I am seeing the number of patients with the coronavirus grow each day. Per data from the Texas state epidemiologist, 75% of new COVID-19 cases are reported to be a result of the highly transmissible Delta variant. The average age for admission in our hospitals has dropped by approximately 15 years, making 40-45 the age range most affected. While we’ve learned from the past COVID-19 surges, the Delta variant poses new challenges to our critical safety net, impacting both the cost of providing care and the number of doctors and nurses needed to staff hospitals. Last year, nearly 21,000 healthcare providers responded to the American Medical Association’s COVID-19 for Caregivers Survey. The respon- dents cited that coping with the fear of exposing themselves and their families to disease, as well as constant work overloads and burnout, are all part of their daily routines. The stress of working during a pandemic has caused many to retire early or leave the healthcare profession entirely. The result is that there are shortages in critical areas, such as nursing, and the overall cost of maintaining our hospital’s labor force has increased dramatically. We are actively working with our insurance companies regarding this escalating cost of providing healthcare and I remain hopeful that we will be able to partner with the payor community to ensure that we are paid fairly for this important work and continue to be in the best position to provide high value care to the communities that we serve. Our patients are the reason we come to work every day. Providing them with exceptional care is a responsibility we welcome and one that we will always honor as we work to ensure the trust of St. Luke’s Health is the best place to give and receive care and while I am always willing to talk about our caregivers and the best-value care and essential services they provide, it is very nice when someone else will do that for you. Caring for the Caregivers

Each year, U.S. News and World Report reports on the nation’s best hospitals and best specialties. Last week, the magazine recognized Baylor St . Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St . Luke’s) as a Best Hospital nationally for 2021-22. For the 2021-22 rankings and ratings, U.S. News evaluated more than 4,750 medical centers nationwide. Additionally, Baylor St. Luke’s was ranked nationally in the following specialties:

» Cancer (The Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center), No. 25 » Cardiology & Heart Surgery, No. 13 nationally and top-ranked in Houston » Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, No. 24 » Geriatrics, No. 46 » Neurology & Neurosurgery, No. 33

Of course, I am proud of the U.S. News and World Report recognition, yet I am even more proud of what we are doing at St . Luke’s to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors. And we will continue to do so years into the future.

T. Douglas Lawson CEO, St. Luke’s Health

St. Luke’s Health comprises 16 hospitals located in Houston, Bryan/College Station, and East Texas, including the renowned Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (BSLMC). BSLMC is an academic health center providing quaternary care. We are a non-profit health system guided by our values of Compassion, Inclusion, Integrity, Excellence, and Collaboration.

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THIS ISSUE

ABOUT US

Owners John and Jennifer Garrett launched the rst edition of Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 with three full-time employees covering Round Rock and Pugerville, Texas. We have expanded our operations to include hundreds of employees, our own printing operation and over 30 hyperlocal editions across three states. Our circulation is over 2 million residential mailboxes, and it grows each month with new residents and developments.

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMCHRISSY: Somehow we are already welcoming fall. That means cooler weather is nally approaching, and we have included some great events (see pages 8-9) to check out. Other stories not to miss include a look at the struggles the Montgomery County Animal Shelter is facing and Lone Star College System’s possible fourth bachelor’s program. Chrissy Leggett, GENERALMANAGER

Community Impact Newspaper teams include general managers, editors, reporters, graphic designers, sales account executives and sales support, all immersed and invested in the communities they serve. Our mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Our core values are Faith, Passion, Quality, Innovation and Integrity.

FROMANNA: Montgomery ISD ocials are in the early stages of discussing whether a bond package might be needed to address anticipated growth districtwide. A citizens bond advisory committee is being formed that will discuss potential projects and the overall need for new facilities and upgrades, and the committee will begin meeting in October. Read more inside (see Page 25). Anna Lotz, EDITOR

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BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

TRANSPORTATION &DEVELOPMENT Regular updates on area projects to keep you in the know

SCHOOL, CITY & COUNTY We attend area meetings to keep you informed

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon or relocating

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MONTGOMERY

LEWIS CREEK RESERVOIR

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The Crazy Fisherman

LAKE CONROE

LONE STAR PKWY.

COURTESY THE CRAZY FISHERMAN

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market is slated for 24390 W. FM 1097, Montgomery. 936-888-3276. www.facebook.com/magnofarmsllc 6 Batteries + Bulbs will open Nov. 15 at 19970 Eva St., Montgomery. The business offers battery, lighting, smart home and key fob selections, and phone repair services as well as services for commercial customers, according to the company website. www.batter- iesplus.com/store-locator/tx/ montgomery/batteries-plus-529 7 Dragon Bowl C is planning to open a ramen and rice bar at 118 Simonton St. in downtown Conroe. Owner San Cheng, who also owns the Taste the Asian food truck, said he wanted to add a little cre- ativity to Conroe’s dining options. Dragon Bowl C was unable to provide an opening date before press time. 832-239-7503 8 Joshua Reed will launch the Mont- gomery Farmers Market on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of Ransom’s Steakhouse at 300 CB Stewart Drive, Montgomery. The farmers market will be an offshoot of the Sanctuary Blueberry Farm in Montgomery, also owned by Reed’s family, he said. The market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday with about 20 vendors initially, offering raw milk, organic mi- crogreens, produce, grass-fed meats and other items. www.facebook.com/ texasmontgomeryfarmersmarket 9 Pediatric dentistry office Mor Smiles 4 Kids broke ground on its Montgomery location in August. Josh Morales has been practicing dentistry for children and teenagers in the Houston area since 2017, according to his wife, Jessica Morales. Mor Smiles is planning a 2022 opening at 728 Fish Creek Thoroughfare, Ste. B,

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1488 NOWOPEN 1 Bill Clevenger opened Texas Twist and Shakes in historic Montgomery on Aug. 6. The ice cream truck features 20 flavors of ice cream and milkshakes. The business is located at 404 Caroline St. 936-537-6598. www.facebook.com/ texastwistandshakes 2 The boutique Triple J Trends opened July 24 on McCaleb Road in Montgom- ery. Owner Cassie Jensen described the store as “a one-stop shop for gift-related items.” Triple J Trends carries decor, accessories and clothing at 1778 McCaleb Road, Montgomery. www.instagram.com/triplejtrends

3 The pet services boutique Petbar opened Aug. 18. Owner Richard Ames said Petbar provides dog washes and nail and pad trims. The boutique also offers membership services as well as the op- portunity for owners to self-service their dogs. Cats are also welcome at Petbar. The business is located at 449 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 1300, Conroe. 832-436-4306. www.petbarinc.com COMING SOON 4 Dalene and Scott Caffey will open The Crazy Fisherman by Oct. 1 at 13721 FM 1097, Ste. A, Willis. The couple said they started a restaurant on the coast in

2013 and later moved inland following Hurricane Harvey before opening a food trailer locally. The brick-and-mortar eat- ery will offer Cajun and seafood dishes, including catfish tacos, shrimp baskets, crab flatbreads and po’boys. Sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and wings are also on the menu. www.facebook.com/ thecrazyfishermanlakeconroe 5 Magno Farms will open in spring 2022 in Montgomery. The farmers market will include various vendors with a focus on hot peppers, hot sauce and salsa. Owners Gabe and Helen Magno said they are dedicating the business to their son Gabriel Magno III, who died in 2019. The

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MON T GOM E R Y C O U N T Y

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Sept. 25th, 9am to 5pm Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe 9055 Airport Rd

Teachers, Military, First Responders with ID and Children have Free Entry. $5 Cash Entry Fee

Interested vendors email holidayextravaganza@yahoo.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY CHANDLER FRANCE, ANNA LOTZ & JISHNU NAIR

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TheMarket atWillis Shopping Center is underway at the southeast corner of FM 1097 and I-45.

RENDERING COURTESY FIDELIS

Batteries + Bulbs

Kobas Four Paws Institute LLC

FEATURED IMPACT COMING SOON The Market at Willis Shopping Center , a 69.7-acre development, has broken ground at the southeast corner of I-45 and FM 1097 and will bring the rst H-E-B to Willis, commercial real estate rm Fidelis announced in a Sept. 7 release. The center is expected to open in 2022, according to the release. Phase 1, which has broken ground, includes more than 200,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space. Phase 2 is expected to begin construction in the third quarter of 2022 with additional anchors, retailers, services and sit-down restaurants, according to the release, as well as a three-story multifamily complex with 250 units. The shopping center is anchored by H-E-B, according to the release.

COURTESY BATTERIES + BULBS

COURTESY KOBAS FOUR PAWS INSTITUTE LLC

“H-E-B is thrilled to become a part of the Willis community,” said Martha Barrera, H-E-B’s public aairs manager in Houston, in the release. “We will build and tailor this state-of-the-art store to thoughtfully cater to the community of Willis, Texas. We’re ready and excited to build a great store Willis can be proud of for years to come.” www.frpltd.com

ANNIVERSARIES 12 Twice as Nice Resale and Consign- ment celebrated its first anniversary Aug. 27 at 10428 Commerce Row, Montgomery. The store offers a variety of antiques, such as furniture, clothing and jewelry. The business also offers furniture restoration. 936-582-5321. www.twiceasniceresaleconsignment.com 13 Schmidt Tool and Manufacturing is celebrating 40 years in business in Sep- tember. The company specializes in the manufacturing of manual steady rests and also does tool making, computer numeri- cally controlled machining and stamping. Products will come marked with a 40th anniversary sticker. The business is located at 13967 W. FM 1097, Willis. 936-856-5897. www.steadyrest.net

Montgomery. www.facebook.com/ morsmiles4kids RELOCATIONS 10 Jennifer Armentrout relocated Threaded Lines from Magnolia to 21372 Shannon Circle, Unit C, Montgomery. The quilt shop opened Aug. 28. The business has added an extensive bag-making area and machine repair and scissor-sharpen- ing services since relocating. 936-597-6989. www.threadedlines.com 11 Kobas Four Paws Institute LLC relo- cated from Conroe to 64 McCaleb Road, Montgomery, in August. The dog training and boarding facility offers basic obedi- ence and service dog training as well as group training and day care and grooming by Robert’s Pet Parlor. www.kobasfourpawsinstitutellc.com

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

TODO LIST

Late September and October events

SEPT. 19

SUPPORT BRIDGEWOOD FARMS DOWNTOWN CONROE

OCT. 16

CELEBRATE 65 YEARS ANDA REOPENING BARGAIN BOX RESALE SHOP

Guests will stroll through downtown to support Bridgewood Farms, an organization serving intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals. Guests can visit ve venues to taste wine and specialty cocktails and learn about Bridgewood Farms’ programs. The stroll also includes a silent auction, wine pull, cake tasting and food trucks. 2-5 p.m. $60 (tasting). Downtown Conroe. www.bridgewoodfarms.org/event

The Conroe Service League will celebrate 65 years of business for its Bargain Box Resale Shop with a grand reopening celebration following renovations at the shop. The store has new signage, landscaping and paint as well as new merchandise. The reopening party will include activities for kids. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free (admission). 123 N. Thompson St., Conroe. www.facebook.com/conroeserviceleaguebargainbox

25 SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES The Montgomery County Funky Junque Market will return with small- business vendors oering women’s and children’s clothing, jewelry, food items and decor. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free (children; military, teachers and rst responders with ID), $5 (cash entry). 9055 Airport Road, Conroe. www.facebook.com/ montgomerycountyholidayextravaganza 25 VISIT AHISTORICAL PARK Fernland Historical Park in Montgomery, which includes early homes

SEPTEMBER 18 ENJOY GRANDOPENING GIVEAWAYS Master-planned Grand Central Park will celebrate the opening of its amenity complex with giveaways, complimentary cuisine and activities for the public. Guests can tour the recreation center and receive a free resistance band set. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free (register online). 1000 Lake House Drive, Conroe. www.grandcentralparktx.com/ grand_opening

and log cabins, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with games for children, speakers, educational curators and tours. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 25 CELEBRATE OKTOBERFEST B-52 Brewing Co. hosts an Oktoberfest celebration for the family with food trucks, drinks and games, including a cornhole tournament and best dressed contest. Games are only open to guests 770 Clepper St., Montgomery. www.facebook.com/fernland

age 21 or older. Noon-10 p.m. Free (admission); additional cost for glassware and drinks. 12470 Milroy Lane, Conroe. 936-447-4677. www.b52brewing.com OCTOBER 01 THROUGH02 BROWSE A FALL AND CHRISTMASMARKET First Baptist Conroe will host a market with food trucks and more than 60 vendors. Proceeds support college

TO VISIT: From downtown Houston, take I-45 North. Exit Highway 242 and turn right. Turn right on Harper’s Trace into East Village.

HarpersPreserve.com

- Highly-acclaimed Conroe ISD Schools including an on-site elementary school - Easy and quick access to I-45, the Grand Parkway and the Hardy Toll Road - New South Village Amenity Center

New Homes from the $260s to $700s MODEL HOMES OPEN DAILY : Chesmar Homes, Drees Custom Homes, D.R. Horton, Empire Homes, Historymaker Homes, M/I Homes, Perry Homes, Shea Homes

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

dinner Oct. 7 as well as live and silent auctions at the Lone Star Convention Center. A golf tournament follows Oct. 8 at Panorama Golf Club. 6 p.m. (Oct. 7), tee times vary Oct. 8. $90 (dinner ticket), $700 (golf team of four). Tickets not sold at the door. Locations vary. 936-538-7111. www.conroe.org 08 THROUGH 10 ATTENDA CARNIVAL The Friends of Conroe Inc. will present the Conroe Cajun Catsh Festival with live music, food vendors—including carnival favorites and Cajun cuisine—a carnival, the Catsh Pageant, kids zone and community exhibits. 6 p.m.-midnight (Oct. 8), 11 a.m.- midnight (Oct. 9), noon-6 p.m. (Oct. 10). Free (children 12 and under), $15 (general admission), $30 (weekend ticket). 101 S. Main St., Conroe. 936-539-6009. www.friendsofconroe.com/p/getconnected 16 LISTEN TO LIVEMUSIC, CELEBRATE FALL The Montgomery Fall Festival will feature vendors; food trucks; a petting zoo; a pumpkin patch; and live music by artists such as William Clark Green, Jason Cassidy, Jonny Lee, Rick Trevino, Cooper Wade and Je Canada. Noon-10 p.m. $5- $20 (presale), $10-$25 (at the gate), $99 (VIP admission). Downtown Montgomery. https://montgomeryfallfest.com

scholarships for the church’s student ministry. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Oct. 1), 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. (Oct. 2). Free (admission). 600 N. Main St., Conroe. www.conroe.org/deckthehalls 01 THROUGH02 SEE AVARIETY OF QUILTS Attendees will take part in the Montgomery Quilt Walk featuring a display of modern and traditional quilts, a vendor market and a quilt rae. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free (admission). Downtown Montgomery, Fernland Historical Park. 936-597-6434. www.facebook.com/ historicmontgomerytexas 05 GET TOKNOWLAW ENFORCEMENT The Montgomery Police Department will present National Night Out, an opportunity for community members to meet law enforcement and bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. 6-8 p.m. Free. Cedar Brake Park, 21358 Eva St., Montgomery. 936-597-6434. www.facebook.com/montgomerypdtx 07 THROUGH08 ENJOY DINNER, GOLF The Conroe Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce will present the 36th annual Lobsterfest with a lobster and steak

The festival is celebrating 47 years. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)

WORTH THE TRIP: OCT. 9NOV. 28

VISIT THE TEXAS RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL The eight-weekend festival returns with themed weekends each Saturday and Sunday as well as Thanksgiving Friday. The 16th century village features more than 400 shopping vendors; a 200-acre campground; after-hours adult entertainment; and more than 50 performers, musicians and dancers. Masks and COVID-19 vaccines are not required as of press time for festivalgoers. Employees, vendors and performers must provide

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proof of COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption form. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (weekends). Prices vary. 21778 FM 1774, Todd Mission. www.texrenfest.com

Find more or submit Conroe and Montgomery events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

All residents of Montgomery County who fall within the maximum income, resource, residency, citizenship, and household composition criteria established in the Montgomery County Indigent Care Program (MCICP) and Medical Assistance Program (MAP) Handbooks*, and who have no other equivalent public or private health care benefits, may be eligible for medically necessary health care benefits as mandated by the State of Texas pursuant to the programs and services offered by the Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD). Montgomery County Public Notice | Health Care Assistance Program (HCAP)

STRONG IN COMMUNITY, KNOWLEDGE, RESULTS.

• US Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents 18 years of age or older; • Those whose household composition makes them ineligible for Medicaid through the State of Texas; • Adult males, non-pregnant females without minor children; married couples of either gender or any age who reside in Montgomery County; • Those whose countable gross income minus work deductions does not exceed the maximum established Federal Poverty Income Level (FPIL) of 150% FPIL; and • Those whose resource standards approxi- mate the State of Texas’ TANF standards. Potentially eligible residents may include: Eligibility determinations will be made within 14 (fourteen) days after the date a complete application and all the required documenta- tion is received by MCHD’s HCAP office.

• Identification for each member of the applying household; • Proof of marital status; • Resources identification, to include automobile registration or title, property tax statement, savings account/CD statements, etc.; • Proof of income or lack of income to include verification of support by friends, family or other sources, pay stubs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamp) award printout, self-employment records, etc.; • Proof of County residency; and • Proof of registration with Texas Workforce Com- mission (some exemptions may apply). A complete application will include but may not be limited to the following types of verification:

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Supplier disputes

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Health Care Assistance Program (HCAP) 1400 South Loop 336 West (First Floor) Conroe, TX 77304 HCAP Office Hours Monday – Thursday: 7:30am – 4:30pm Friday: 7:30am – 11:30am

Refineries

Oil & Gas leases

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Environmental claims Pipeline easements

Alternative energy companies Transportation & Pipeline companies

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Construction agreements Exploration agreements Farm out agreements

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Non-operating working interest owners Joint operating agreements Master service agreements

Applications can be found on the MCHD website at www.mchd-tx.org by clicking on the HCAP tab at the top of the page. MCHD does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, or gender in administering HCAP Plans to eligible residents. *The most recent versions of the MCICP and MAP Handbooks are available online at www.mchd-tx.org

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ

Conroe Council awards sidewalk improvements

FM 1097 widening The Texas Department of Transportation is widening FM 1097 from Anderson Road to Lake Conroe Hills Drive, which was 24% PROJECT UPDATES

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complete as of Sept. 10 and will widen the road to four lanes with a center lane. The stretch from I-45 to Anderson Road was 95% complete. Cost: $14.69 million, $15.93 million Timeline: February 2021-fourth quarter 2023, fourth 1 2 1 2

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Five-foot-wide concrete sidewalks are slated to be added or replace existing sidewalk fragments along stretches of Longmire Way, West Dallas Street, North San Jacinto Street and North Thompson Street, according to a Sept. 9 construction update from the city of Conroe. The project also includes adding a 5-foot-wide sidewalk loop around Flournoy Park and replacing the existing asphalt sidewalk loop at Lions Park according to project schematics. City Council awarded the project to DVL Enterprises on Sept. 9 with a 90-day timeline for the project to be substantially complete.

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quarter 2018-third quarter 2021 Funding sources: state, federal

FLOURNOYPARK

Road extension opens The city of Conroe cele- brated the opening of a road extension through the Conroe Industrial Park on Aug. 12. The project includ- ed a four-lane extension

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FARRELL RD.

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CONROE PARK W. DR.

WALLY WILKERSON PKWY.

POLLOK DR.

LONGMIRE WAY

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NUGENT ST.

from Pollok Drive to Farrell Road and replacing existing asphalt with a four-lane concrete extension, according to the city. Cost: $12.5 million Timeline: April 2020-September 2021 Funding source: city of Conroe

Cost: $659,895 Timeline: TBD Funding source: city of Conroe

COCHRAN ST.

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SOURCES: CITY OF CONROE, CIVCASTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF SEPT. 10. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

11

CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

EDUCATION Lone Star College begins process to add fourthbachelor’s program

Program approval Community colleges in Texas such as Lone Star College System can apply to expand baccalaureate oerings from three programs to ve after House Bill 3348 was passed during the 2021 legislative session.

Current phase: Seek approval from the LSCS board of trustees

Apply to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

1

2

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

matter of “when,” not “if.” “There’s always going to be another emergency or another

Lone Star College System is in the process of adding a baccalaureate program in emergency management to provide additional options for students seeking higher education. The proposed program is possible because of House Bill 3348—passed during this year’s regular session of the Texas Legislature—which increases the total number of baccalaureate programs a community college can oer from three to ve. Valerie Jones, associate chancellor of academic aairs at LSCS, said the decision to add the emergency man- agement degree program was based on the projected need for employees in the eld for the next 10-20 years. “We want to make sure that the programs for our students are aligned with future careers for them,” Jones said. “With this case ... we are in an area where emergency management spans into so many dierent areas, from ooding to hurricanes to res and pandemics.” LSCS oers three baccalaureate pro- grams: Bachelor of Science in nursing; Bachelor of Applied Technology in cybersecurity; and Bachelor of Applied Science in energy, manufacturing and trades management. Local needs Christopher Perkins, senior planner at the Montgomery County Oce of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said the eld of emergency management is important in the county because disasters are a

Apply to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools 3

disaster. The question is the timing,” Perkins said. “Since we can’t control the timing of it, what we have to do is to be constantly prepared to be able to respond to these types of things.” Perkins said as Montgomery County sees its population grow, expanding public safety capabilities and develop- ing plans in the event of an emergency are necessary. “This should give our local students the opportunity to grow and learn about a profession that is becoming increasingly important,” Perkins said. While Perkins said the emergency management eld is typically associated with governmental organizations, there is a growing need for emergency managers in the private sector as well. He said the degree program will give students a variety of options for future careers as emergency managers. “As the demand for emergency management professionals contin- ues to grow, it is important to have academic institutions focused on preparing the next generation of emergency managers,” Perkins said. Next steps Jones said LSCS is still in the pro- posal stage for the new baccalaureate program. Moving forward, LSCS will work to get approval from its board of trustees, then apply to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

First course begins in spring 2023

4

5

New program is formed

What is a Bachelor of Applied Science? The bachelor’s programs at Lone Star College System include applied science programs, which are dierent from a standard four-year university degree.

Step 1: Students begin by enrolling in an associate degree program at LSCS. Step2: Students can apply to begin the bachelor’s program at the end of the second year. Applied science degrees focus on technical training within the rst two years of schooling.

ALL OF OUR PROGRAMS ARE BUILT FOR WORKINGADULTS. VALERIE JONES, LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEMASSOCIATE CHANCELLOROF ACADEMICAFFAIRS

SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEMCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

before applying to the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Associ- ation of Colleges and Schools. Once all of the steps have been completed, Jones said the college is planning to launch the program in the spring semester of 2023. “At each stage, we are demonstrat- ing to our board of trustees, the state and our regional accreditors that we have thoroughly thought through this,” Jones said. “We are showing our graduates will have employment after this and our community has requested a need for this.”

Jones said the program is antici- pated to operate in cohorts, begin- ning with a total of 30 students in the initial class before expanding up to 60 students in the following fall. “What we experienced with our rst bachelor’s program was a much higher demand than we expected,” Jones said. “We are prepared for the same type of opportunity.” As of August, Jones said it was too early to say which campus will host the program. Chandler France contributed to this report.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News from Conroe, Montgomery & Montgomery County

COUNTY HIGHLIGHTS MONTGOMERY COUNTY At an Aug. 24 meeting, Jason Millsaps, Montgomery County’s director of emergency management, said the county has over $17.9 million earmarked in American Rescue Act funds for expenses such as surge sta, personal protective equipment and an increase in mental health deputies.

Hyatt Regency hotel breaks ground

Commissioners adopt $372million budget

BY CHANDLER FRANCE

CONROE The Hyatt Regency Conroe Hotel and Convention Center was slated to break ground in September, according to a Sept. 1 news release from the city. The hotel will be located in the master-planned community Grand Central Park, located on I-45 just south of Loop 336. “We’re not only thrilled to see this fantastic project move for- ward but are also excited about the economic development opportunities it brings along with it,” Mayor Jody Czajkoski said in the release. The hotel will have 250 rooms and include a full-service restaurant, a full bar, a pool deck, a gym and a market. The 41,000-square-foot con- vention center will include a 15,000-square-foot grand ballroom, an 8,000-square-foot junior ballroom, and 8,000 square feet of breakout rooms

336

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

MONTGOMERY COUNTY Commis- sioners Court adopted a $372 million budget for the upcoming scal year 2021-22 during a special session Aug. 20 with a 3-2 vote. A factor for the increased budget is the county having to pay for the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe this year, which is part of the county’s special revenue fund, which increased around 34%. Montgomery County Budget Ocer Amanda Carter said the special revenue fund has no eect on property tax rates. Carter added if the detention center, which added around $24 million to the budget, had not been included, the adopted budget would be under the FY 2020-21 budget by around $2 million. County Judge Mark Keough and Pre- cinct 3 Commissioner James Noack voted against the adoption of the budget. “This is not a true reection of expendi- tures. I would rather nd a better way to accommodate for this,” Noack said.

45

Commissioners also approved a contract with Angel Stang Inc. for additional health care personnel through Dec. 31.

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and board rooms. The project is anticipated to be complete in the second quarter of 2023. The project is nancially self-sustaining and will not use taxpayer funds, said Steve Wil- liams, assistant city administra- tor and chief nancial ocer, in the release. The cost is expected to be paid through revenues and taxes generated by the hotel and convention center, according to the release. The estimated maximum total cost for the project is $98 million, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported.

MEETINGSWE COVER Montgomery County Commissioners Court Will meet Sept. 28 and Oct. 12 at 9:30 a.m. • 501 N. Thompson St., Ste. 402, Conroe • 936-756-0571 www.mctx.org Conroe City Council Will meet Sept. 23 at 9:30 a.m. and Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. • 300 W. Davis St., Conroe • 936-522-3010 www.cityofconroe.org Montgomery City Council Will meet Sept. 28 and Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. • 101 Old Plantersville Road, Montgomery • 936-597-6434 www.montgomerytexas.gov

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

AT THE CAPITOL

New statewide abortion, alcohol and gun laws took effect Sept. 1

Over 600 new laws went into effect Sept. 1 in Texas. A new abortion bill, two alcohol bills and a gun bill all became laws Sept. 1 as signed by Gov. Greg Abbott over the past fewmonths. COMPILED BY ZARA FLORES

SENATE BILL 8 THE HEARTBEAT BILL

HOUSE BILLS 1024, 1518 ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

In a law that opposes Roe v. Wade, the “heartbeat” bill went into effect Sept. 1, restricting women from having an abortion starting at six weeks into pregnancy. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a hearing planned for Aug. 30, when over 20 abortion providers hoped to persuade the law to be blocked. during an ultrasound is detected—was signed May 19. The law includes a medical emergency exception, but it does not offer an exception to victims of rape, sexual assault or incest. Anyone who seeks an abortion or helps someone receive an abortion for any reason can be sued by any private citizen. The heartbeat bill term—which was coined because abortions will not be allowed once a heartbeat Since SB 8 was signed into law in May, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and individual physicians have taken action through a federal lawsuit due to a possible violation of constitutional rights, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit cited that many women do not know they are pregnant by the six-week mark and claims the bill could cause damage to Texans, especially people of color.

Born as a result of the pandemic, Abbott made to-go alcohol a permanent feature for restaurants and bars May 12 with the signing of this bill. HB 1024 allows beer, wine and mixed beverages to be picked up with to-go orders or delivered to patrons, so long as the order also includes food. When COVID-19 struck the United States and shut down all but essential services, Abbott signed a waiver allowing alcohol to be more readily available, which helped keep some of the service industry afloat. Now, it is not an exception but a law. Drinks may be ordered via a third-party ordering service and must be delivered within the county where the business is located. There is no required food-to-alcohol ratio, and the recipients must prove valid identification and cannot already be intoxicated. Additionally, HB 1518, signed May 17, allows retailers to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sundays. None of the other days of the week are affected, and alcohol is still allowed to be sold starting at 7 a.m.

SOURCE: CAPITOL.TEXAS.GOV/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

HOUSE BILL 1927 PERMITLESS CARRY

Texans will no longer need any training or a license to openly carry a handgun with the signing of HB 1927 on June 16. The state joins 19 other states that have a “constitutional carry” law, or a law that does not require a permit. Prior to this new bill, applicants were required to submit their fingerprints, undergo up to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting test. HB 1927 now makes it optional. The same eligibility requirements apply at being 21 years old, passing a background check and not having a felony or domestic violence conviction. However, guns are still banned in places such as hospitals, amusement parks and correctional facilities, to name a few.

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

INSIDE INFORMATION

In Texas’ 86th Legislature in 2019, lawmakers approved House Bill 3, a comprehensive school nance reform that went into eect Sept. 1, 2019. Among HB 3’s changes was a compression on property tax rates: If property values rise statewide or locally, districts must reduce their tax rate to help ease the burden on local property owners. EXPLAINING SCHOOL FINANCES

STATEWIDE PROPERTY TAX CALCULATIONS

Local property taxes are composed of an interest and sinking tax rate, or I&S, and a maintenance and operations rate, or M&O.

The I&S is used for a district’s debt service on voter- approved bonds for facilities.

The M&O includes districts’ basic level of funding and its enrichment fund, which are used for regular school operations, such as teacher salaries.

District’s total property tax rate

+

=

COMPILED BY SAVANNAH KUCHAR & ANNA LOTZ

SOURCES: RAISE YOUR HAND TEXAS, EVERY TEXAN, TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COMPONENTS OF HOUSE BILL 3

M&0 property tax rates (per $100 valuation), scal year 2021-22

In its rst two years, HB 3 invested $11.5 billion into public school nance reform.

$1.0671 Statewide maximum for most districts with voter approval $1.0354 Statewide maximum without voter approval

$5 billion went toward property tax relief by subsidizing decreases in local revenue following statewide compressions on local districts’ property tax rates.

If statewide property value growth exceeds 2.5% in a year, the tax rate for districts will be compressed. If a district’s growth is higher than the state’s growth, the district’s rate will be furthered compressed. Districts can add a maximum of roughly $0.13 to their compressed rate before seeking voter approval.

$6.5 billion was used to bolster school funding by increasing the basic allotment, in turn raising the majority of districts’ entitlements. A portion of this increase was specically meant for raising teachers’ and other sta’s salaries.

$ 11.5 B total invested

$0.8971 Statewide compressed rate

$0.8074 Statewide minimum

STATE VS. LOCAL SHARE

Texas’ public school system is funded largely by state aid and local property tax revenue. Prior to HB 3, the local share grew as property values increased statewide, but with the legislation, the state now takes on a larger portion year over year.

$60B $50B $40B $30B $20B $10B $0

Since scal year 2012-13, the overall property tax rate in Conroe, Montgomery and Willis ISDs has decreased. CISD property owners saw a $0.07 drop in the overall tax rate since House Bill 3 took eect, and MISD’s overall tax rate dropped $0.09 following HB 3. WISD decreased its overall tax rate $0.17 from scal year 2018-19 to scal year 2020-21 following HB 3. LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT PROPERTY TAX RATES M&O rate I&S rate HB 3 CONROE ISD MONTGOMERY ISD WILLIS ISD

*2019 IS ESTIMATED, WHILE 2020 AND 2021 IS PROJECTED. State share Local share

$1.20 $0 $0.20 $0.40 $0.60 $0.80 $1

COVID19'S EFFECT ON SCHOOL FUNDING

Most districts were held harmless by the state for any enrollment changes during the pandemic, so funding entitlements were not negatively aected by attendance changes. Federal funding gave three rounds of aid to address pandemic-related disruptions. The packages amounted to $19.2 billion , of which:

$ 1.91 B will be reserved by the state for statewide programs.

$ 2.15 B was used by the state for the hold-harmless program.

$ 15.14 B will be distributed back out to districts.

Total scal fear 2020-21 tax rate per $100 valuation 2012-13 2014-15 2016-17

2018-19

2020-21

1.21 1.28 1.22

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • SEPTEMBER 2021

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