Conroe - Montgomery Edition | February 2021

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 11  FEB. 23MARCH 18, 2021

ONLINE AT

Montgomery County pursues newcourt to reduce caseloads

SPECIAL REPORT

SPOTTING SUBSIDENCE

After long-term groundwater withdrawals, clay and silt layers compact.

Prior to excessive groundwater use, clay and silt layers are loosely packed.

Subsidence, or sinking of land, can occur from excessive groundwater use and can lead to ooding and infrastructure damages. Decades of subsidence has been recorded in Montgomery County.

BY ANDREW CHRISTMAN

Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved pursuing the addition of a new county court at law in late January to lower the average case- load per judge and prevent the court system from becoming overwhelmed. The proposal for adding two courts was originally presented to the county commissioners Jan. 12. At the meeting, Court Administration Director Chad CONTINUED ON 20

AQUIFER: Underground layer of rock containing water

One gauge in Conroe measured 16 CENTIMETERS OF SUBSIDENCE from 2005 to 2020.

CASE OVERLOAD

Montgomery County has not added a court at law since 2007, and each of its ve courts now sees nearly 3,500 cases annually.

Silt and clay Gravel and sand

DIAGRAM NOT TO SCALE

SOURCES: LONE STAR GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT, HARRISGALVESTON SUBSIDENCE DISTRICTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

As ground sinks, debate ensues over groundwater Editor’s note: This is part one of a three-part series examining groundwater use in Montgomery County. Fifty miles southeast of Montgomery County lies the Baytown Nature Center—a marshy wetland that was once an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Known as the Brownwood subdivision, the com- munity was created in 1937 by oil and gas execu- tives, according to the nature center. found among the grasses. Brownwood is an extreme example of what can happen when subsidence goes unchecked, said Jace Houston, the general manager of the San Jacinto River Authority, an entity that provides sur- face water to the city of Conroe and other entities in Montgomery County. Subsidence has been occur- ring across Montgomery County for decades—with one gauge in Conroe measuring nearly 16 centime- ters from 2005-20, according to data from the Har- ris-Galveston Subsidence District. “I’m not trying to make the case that the sky’s CONTINUED ON 18 BY EVA VIGH But after years of subsidence—or the grad- ual sinking of the earth—that led to widespread ooding, Brownwood residents abandoned their homes. Today, remnants of buildings can still be

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

2007 Last court added

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Total courts at law

Total cases in Fiscal Year 2019

Average cases per court

17,381

3,476

“MYCOURTHADOVER4,000CASE FILINGS LASTYEAR.WEAREATTHE FLOODINGPOINT.” CLAUDIA LAIRD, COURT AT LAW 2 JUDGE

SOURCE: MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT ADMINISTRATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

IMPACTS

POWER, WATER LOSS

CITY & COUNTY

HONOR CAFE

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TO WHAT MAKES IT REALLY BEAT

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

ey-Seybold Clinic Locations Near You

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Conroe Family Medicine 7.4 miles from The Woodlands Clinic

Conroe Family Medicine

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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: Our lead story is part one of a three-part series we are covering on groundwater in Montgomery County. The rst part focuses on subsidence, the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land. In this issue, we look into the debate on subsidence in Montgomery County and the usage of groundwater and surface water. 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: A week we hoped would bring the magic of snowfall instead brought lengthy power outages and signicant water challenges to our communities. As our communities and state begin recovering from sustained damages, we will be asking questions from our local and state ocials on why this happened and how entities will better prepare for the future. Anna Lotz, EDITOR

Our purpose is to be a light for our readers, customers, partners and each other.

WHATWE COVER

CORRECTION: Volume 6, Issue 10 On Page 17, The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District was not a plainti in the 2015 lawsuit, and the new groundwater rules do not allow for the gradual increase of pumpage. There are no groundwater pumpage restrictions as of September 2020. Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the latest headlines direct to your inbox. communityimpact.com/newsletter DAILY INBOX Visit our website for free access to the latest news, photos and infographics about your community and nearby cities. communityimpact.com LIVE UPDATES

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Chrissy Leggett cleggett@communityimpact.com EDITOR Anna Lotz SENIOR REPORTER Eva Vigh REPORTER Adriana Rezal GRAPHIC DESIGNER Ethan Pham ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Debbie Pfeer METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Jason Culpepper MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens

BUSINESS &DINING Local business development news that aects you

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

CITY & COUNTY GOVERNMENT We attend area meetings to keep you informed

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

IMPACTS

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

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Ruby’s Love Bites COURTESY RUBY’S LOVE BITES

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yet been decided. The salon will oer premium blowouts done by professionals as well as add-on services such as waxing, tanning, manicures, pedicures and makeup application. 936-777-8282. www.facebook.com/ bespoke-bo-dry-and-beauty-bar 5 Chipotle Mexican Grill will open this spring on FM 1488 near the Kroger at the intersection of FM 2978, Chipotle representatives said. Additional information could not yet be shared about the new location. The fast-casual chain oers made-to-order burritos, bowls, salads and tacos as well as sides and kids meals. www.chipotle.com 6 The Chute , a laundry service company, is expected to open Feb. 20 at 6511 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. D, Conroe. The Chute is a full-service laundry business that oers washing, drying and folding. Customers can drop their dirty clothes o and pick them up clean and folded or on a hanger. The Chute oers several programs, such as the Wash Club, which charges $1 per pound of laundry. 936-703-5415. www.thechute.club 7 Construction is nearing completion for luxury outdoor resort Happy Goat Retreat , according to Executive Operations Director Kassandra Owens. The retreat is slated to be open to the public at 13561 Shepard Hill Road, Willis, this summer. The property will oer 15 lodging units made by upcycled cargo shipping containers. Happy Goat Retreat will also oer a 40-foot innity pool, a communal re pit, and an animal pen area with American pygmy goats and a llama. 866-517-4628. www.facebook.com/happygoatretreat

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N TM; © 2021 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

NOWOPEN 1 A.L. Party Balloons , previously to be called A.L. Party Creations, held a ribbon- cutting Jan. 15 at 1108 N. Loop 336 W., Ste. R, Conroe. The store sells and creates a variety of balloons for events, parties and celebrations, as well as selling balloon accessories. 936-703-5950. www.alpartyballoons.com 2 Starbucks at 20219 Eva St., Mont- gomery, opened Feb. 8. The coee shop

3 3 D’s Deli , a family-owned ketogenic restaurant, held a grand opening Feb. 14 at 401 College St., Montgomery. The family hails from Portland, Oregon, and provides comfort food such as pulled pork with apple slaw. www.facebook.com/3-DS-DEli-LLC COMING SOON 4 Bespoke Blo Dry and Beauty Bar will open at 408 Wilson Road, Conroe, although a date has not

features a drive-thru and nitro cold brew taps. www.starbucks.com Ruby’s Love Bites , a chocolate arrangement business, opened Feb. 6. The business was launched by a couple who lives in the Montgomery area, and it delivers to Montgomery, Conroe and The Woodlands as well as to nearby areas for a small fee. Items include chocolate-covered strawberries, pretzels and Oreos arranged in a variety of colored boxes. 936-320-2091. www.facebook.com/rubyslovebites4

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COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ, ADRIANA REZAL & EVA VIGH

ship Feb. 3. Now owned by Diane Biano, Urban Coee Culture will oer desserts such as muns, cakes and pies in addition to coee. Located at 202 McCown St., Montgomery, the coee shop will also oer a boutique. 281-850-3645 NEWOWNERSHIP Amazing Window Cleaners LLC acquired Focus Window Washing LLC on Jan. 22, tripling its client base and allowing the business to add soft wash and roof washing services. Amazing Window Cleaners is a veteran-owned company by Sonya and Kevin Brazeal in Montgomery and oers services including residential and commercial window cleaning, pressure washing and gutter cleaning. 936-249-2100. www.amazingwindowcleaners.com IN THE NEWS 11 Live Oak Senior Care received the 2020 Business of the Year award from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce in January. The facility, located at 115 Lone Star Bend, Montgomery, opened in December 2019. The facility oers assisted living and memory care in a studio or a one- or two-bedroom oor plan, as well as a beauty shop, a cinema movie room, a library with internet and a workout facility. 936-597-4140. www.liveoakseniorcare.com

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Chipotle Mexican Grill

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ANNIVERSARIES 8 FM 1488 Animal Medical Center , located at 7002 FM 1488, Magnolia, will celebrate 15 years of business April 3. Owned by Dr. Jess Jerey, the center oers full-service veterinary care for dogs and cats. 281-259-8806. www.1488amc.com 9 Precision Detail , a boat detailing company serving Conroe and surrounding areas, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The store is located at 13921 Hwy. 105 W., Conroe. 936-777-1120. www.precisiondetail.org NAME CHANGES 10 Naughty By Nature Apothecary Coee Co. will now operate as Urban Coee Culture after a change in owner-

The Montgomery County Community Assistance Center celebrates its 40th anniversary.

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FEATURED IMPACT ANNIVERSARIES The Montgomery County Community Assistance Center , located at 1022 McCall Ave., Conroe, is celebrating 40 years as a nonprot, social service agency for county residents. The agency is requesting donations as a result of declining federal funds and an increased need for services due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Feb. 4 news release. The community assistance center is accepting food donations Monday through Friday, and there are volunteer opportunities

available weekly. In 2020, the center served 39,347 individuals by assisting with expenses such as rent and mortgage, food and utility assistance. 936-539-1096. www.cac-mctx.org

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANNA LOTZ & HANNAH ZEDAKER

2 New trac signals installed Two trac signal additions are nishing up. According to the city of Conroe, a new signal being erected at Bois D’Arc Bend and Walden Road is sched- uled for completion in March. Addition- ally, materials are on-site for a signal at North Loop 336 and Montgomery Park Boulevard that will nish in April. Timeline: fall 2020-March 2021 (Bois D’Arc Bend), October 2020-April 2021 (Montgomery Park Boulevard) Cost: $230,803 (Bois D’Arc Bend), $245,684 (Montgomery Park Boulevard) Funding source: city of Conroe 3 Hwy. 249 Segment 1B to open 1484 2B Segment 1B of the Hwy. 249 extension is expected to open in the spring from FM 1488 in Magnolia to FM 1774 in Todd Mission, according to TxDOT. The larger $843.8 million project will stretch from FM 1774 in Pinehurst to Hwy. 105 in Nava- sota once complete in late 2023. Section 1A, just south of the ongoing construc- tion, opened in August from FM 1774 to FM 1488 in Magnolia. Timeline: early 2018-spring 2021 (Segment 1B) Cost: $518.6 million (Segment 1) Funding source: TxDOT 1314 2A

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The waiver expires April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)

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State announces end date for waiver on vehicle titles, registrations Texans have until April 14 to renew expired vehicle registrations, ocials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced Dec. 15. The temporary waiver was rst implemented by Gov. Greg Abbott in March 2020, and while it was extended several times throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, vehicle owners will need to renew vehicle registrations prior to April 14 to avoid being penalized for expired registrations. The expiring waiver covers initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal and titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits. ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF FEB. 8. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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ONGOING PROJECTS 1 FM 1097 widening

Department of Transportation will widen the road from two lanes to four lanes with a continuous left-turn lane. Timeline: fourth quarter 2018-third quarter 2021 (Segment 1), rst quarter 2021-third quarter 2021 (Segment 2) Cost: $15.71 million (Segment 1), $14.69 million (Segment 2) Funding sources: TxDOT, federal

As the rst segment of the FM 1097 widening wraps up in Willis from I-45 to Anderson Road, the widening of the next section of the road kicks o in the rst quarter between Anderson Road and Lake Conroe Hills Drive. The Texas

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

WEATHER Winter weather leaves residents without power, water

latter is under scrutiny for the failure of portions of the state’s grid. “I want everyone to know that all of us in the state of Texas believe it is completely unacceptable that you had to endure one minute of the challenge that you faced,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news conference Feb. 18. “All of us agree on the necessity of action, not just the action taken to restore your power, but the action to ensure that you never have to endure anything like this ever again.” In addition to calling for investiga- tions into ERCOT, Abbott said Feb. 18 he will add more emergency items for the Texas Legislature to consider, including the mandating and funding of winterization updates to the Texas power system. Abbott said he also submitted a request for a major disaster decla- ration from President Joe Biden. If granted, it will allow Texans whose property has been damaged due to burst water pipes to apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency when not covered by private insurance, he said.

BY ANNA LOTZ, EVA VIGH & BEN THOMPSON

Widespread power outages prompted by severe winter weather conditions throughout Texas the week of Feb. 15 caused tens of thousands of Montgomery County residents to lose power. Entergy Texas—which serves much of Montgomery County—began periodic power outages as directed by its reliability coordinator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, a “last resort” to prevent more extensive, prolonged outages, according to a Feb. 15 release. At its peak, around 60,000 customers were without power, according to Entergy’s outage tracker, although many residents reported outages not disclosed on Entergy’s outage map. “While our crews worked to prepare for this storm, a loss of gen- eration combined with the peak load has caused a strain on the system. As a result, we are short of the power needed to meet our customers’

The San Jacinto River Authority Groundwater Reduction Plan Division supplied some Montgomery County entities with drinking water the week of Feb. 15. (Courtesy SJRA)

demands across southeast Texas,” Stuart Barrett, vice president of customer service, said in the release. In addition to burst pipes, a lack of safe drinking water spurred boil water notices by the city of Willis, among other water providers. As such, the San Jacinto River Authority Groundwater Reduction Plan Division, located in Conroe, helped supply Montgomery County with potable water. Entities using the water include regional hospitals, dialysis centers and the Houston Airport System, said Heather Ramsey

Cook, director of communications and public aairs for the SJRA. “We are one of the few systems not on a boil water notice, and we made the preparations ahead of the storm to stay online and functioning,” she said. “Trucks [were] in and out of our Lake Conroe water plant all day.” Statewide, 4.3 million Texans were without power the morning of Feb. 16, according to poweroutage. us. Although Entergy Texas is not part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT—which manages 90% of the state’s electric power ow—the

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Lone Star College System & Conroe and Montgomery ISDs

Trustees adopt first legislative platform for 87th session Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees March 16 at 6 p.m., 20774 Eva St., Montgomery • 936-276-2000 www.misd.org Willis ISD Board of Trustees March 10 at 5:30 p.m., 612 N. Campbell St., Willis • 936-856-1200 www.willisisd.org Lone Star College System March 4 at 5 p.m., 5000 Research Forest Drive, The Woodlands 832-813-6500 • www.lonestar.edu Conroe ISD Board of Trustees March 23 at 6 p.m., 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe • 936-709-7752 www.conroeisd.net MEETINGSWE COVER

Conroe ISDboard approves 2021-22 calendar CONROE ISD The 2021-22 school year calendar for Conroe ISD will include a change to create a new break for students in mid-April. The calendar was approved by conclude the 2022 spring semester May 26. Breaks are scheduled for Thanksgiving, winter holidays, spring and in April. Hedith Sauceda-Upshaw, the district’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said aspects of the calendar that garnered broad community support BY BEN THOMPSON

for Election Day was also moved to April to provide for a four- day weekend in the middle of the month. “I really like the addition of that extra April date,” trustee Theresa Wagaman said. “When you come from spring break and you go all the way through May, there’s a very long period of time without any breaks, and I think this will be really nice for those that are looking to celebrate the Easter holidays and just have a little extra family time.”

the CISD board of trustees Jan. 19. The schedule was developed over recent months through a district- level planning committee with community input. The 176-instructional- day calendar will see students begin the 2021 fall semester Aug. 11 and

include a midweek start date in August, a full-week Thanksgiving break and an end date before Memorial Day. A student holiday previously included in November

LoneStar CollegeSystemseeks approval of bachelor’sprograms

COMING SOON Lone Star College System officials said they are pursuing an additional two bachelor’s degree programs this legislative session and expanding current offerings in 2022. According to Van Rysdam, LSC-Montgomery will offer a hybrid learning environment, and LSC-Tomball will offer an online program for the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. applied sciences. Scott said the programs received over 1,000 applicants prior to being offered in fall 2020. “We thought that we would be able to scale these pro- grams over a few years, but we found that we’re going to need to add additional cohorts and open them to even more students to accommodate the demand,” Scott said. LSC-Montgomery’s Bachelor of Science in nursing program will expand by one cohort in fall 2022 for a total of two cohorts with 30 students each, Media Relations Director Bill Van Rysdam said.

BY EVA VIGH

BY ADRIANA REZAL

MONTGOMERY ISD In a first for the district, Montgomery ISD trustees adopted a legislative platform for the 87th Texas Legislature, officials said. “Traditionally, Montgomery ISD has not necessarily been a proactive participant in engaging and talking about the needs of our district,” MISD Superintendent Heath Morrison said at a Jan. 19 board meeting. “In any year, the stakes are high for public education,” MISD Director of Communications Justin Marino said. However, this year, the state faces an estimated $950 million budget shortfall, according to Texas Comp- troller Glenn Hegar. MISD’s legislative platform focuses on school finance reform, assessment and accountability, assistance from the state for COVID-19-related costs, local control and school safety, officials said.

LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM Legislation has been drafted for the Lone Star College System to offer two new bachelor’s degree programs in health care infor- mation technology and emergency management, said Kyle Scott, LSCS vice chancellor for strategic priorities, although Scott said he could not share which legislators the college system is working with. Although legislation has yet to be filed, the four-year degree programs are slated to be offered in 2022 if approved during the ongoing legislative session, he said. Although a legislative timeline is unclear, according to Scott, legislative approval is required for LSCS to offer more than its current three baccalaureate programs, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Senate Bill 2118—passed by the 85th Legislature in 2017— authorized community colleges to offer up to three bachelor’s degrees in applied science, applied technol- ogy and nursing upon approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Expansions are underway for LSCS’s current four-year degree programs as well in nursing, cybersecurity and

The Bachelor of Science in nursing currently offered at LSC-Montgomery will also expand to an online program at LSC-Tomball in 2022. Officials said LSCS is seeking legislative approval of additional bachelor’s degree programs in health care information technology and emergency management.

SOURCE: LONE STAR COLLEGE SYSTEM/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News fromMontgomery County & Conroe

Montgomery City Council Feb. 23 and March 9 at 6 p.m. 101 Old Plantersville Road, Montgomery • 936-597-6434 www.montgomerytexas.gov Montgomery County Commissioners Court Feb. 23 and March 9 501 N. Thompson St., Ste. 402, Conroe 936-756-0571 www.mctx.org Conroe City Council Feb. 25 at 9:30 a.m., March 11 at 6 p.m. • 300 W. Davis St., Conroe 936-522-3000 www.cityofconroe.org MEETINGSWE COVER

Renovated building to house city offices

would have been about $10.5 million, according to a city news release. Departments will likely relocate in October, and they include Permits and Engineering, Fire Administration and Utility Billing departments, according to Holly Arbuckle, Princi- pal at Catalyst PR. The location will provide more parking and easier access in and out of the building and will keep related departments together, including room for growth, Assistant City Administrator Steve Williams said.

BY EVA VIGH

CONROE The city of Conroe will move various city departments into a newly renovated city-owned oce building at 700 Old Montgomery Road. The city spent $1.37 million in reno- vations, and the value of the existing building is $4 million, according to the appraisal district. The cost of land and constructing a new building

REAL . LOCAL . SAVINGS .

Sheri’s oce launches regional cold-case information campaign

See how much you could save on car insurance today.

BY BEN THOMPSON

Montgomery County cold case will be featured across the billboard network on a quarterly basis, Vela said. “It’s a sad situation that we have a case that is this old. But someone, somewhere knows something about this case and we hope that with the creation of all these market impres- sions throughout the area, someone will come forth with some informa- tion that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of this particular case,” Vela said. The rst unsolved crime to be featured through Cold Case Warm Up is the August 1995 murders of John and Pansy Stewart in Conroe. “We have kept this case open trying to develop leads. As the years have gone by, that has become more

MONTGOMERY COUNTY The Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce launched a new regional public information initiative Feb. 2 aimed at soliciting leads for unsolved county crimes. The campaign is a partner- ship between the county sheri’s oce, advertiser Clear Channel Outdoor and the nonprot Multi- County Crime Stoppers. Through the new program—Cold Case Warm Up—Lee Vela, vice presi- dent of public aairs for Clear Chan- nel, said at a Feb. 2 press conference in Conroe the initiative will eventu- ally include 32 billboards throughout the region and is expected to gener- ate millions of market impressions from passersby every month. A new

Sheri Rand Henderson spoke Feb. 2.

BEN THOMPSONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

dicult. It has nally evolved into the status of a cold case. We are blessed at the Montgomery County Sheri’s Oce to have an active cold-case unit who have also picked up this case, and they are working tirelessly,” Sheri Rand Henderson said. “Through this partnership we hope to develop leads.” The rst billboard displaying information was unveiled just north of Exit 84B on I-45 N. in Conroe on Feb. 2, south of S. Loop 336 E. on Hwy. 75. Anyone with information on a cold case can contact Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 800-392-7867.

713-224-3426 1403 Spring Cypress Rd Spring

Shelter constructionnearingcompletion inConroe

Saving people money on more than just car insurance. ®

BY ADRIANA REZAL

buildings to accommodate a separate girls and boys shelter, essentially doubling the shelter’s capacity to 30 beds in total. Construction for the shelter began in June 2019, as previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, totaling $2.4 million. Wilson said the organization raised a total of $4.2 million to cover the cost of fur- niture, sta and other expenses. Of that funding, Yes to Youth received $1.4 million from the Montgomery County Community Development Block Grant program.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY Construction is nearing completion for a youth shelter operated by the nonprot Yes to Youth Montgomery County Youth Services. Located at 4501 N. Frazier St., Conroe, the Bridgeway Shelter is slated to house clients within the next month or two, pending state inspections. According to Chief Operations Ocer Penny Wilson, the shelter oers temporary housing and sup- port services for children ages 10-17. The recent expansions erected two

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The shelter is located in Conroe.

COURTESY PENNY WILSON

“As soon as that grant became available, it really allowed us to dream bigger and think about how we could approach this,” Wilson said.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

BY EVA VIGH

$9

The avocado toast with egg includes grilled sourdough, creamcheese and bacon.

THREE DISHES TO TRY $28 The bacon-wrapped center-cut ribeye, a special item not on the menu, is served on a bed of artismal grits and Brussels sprouts with fresh shrimp kabobs.

$13

The smoked chicken salad is served on a bed of baby greens and cucumber.

PHOTOS BY EVA VIGHCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Honor Café Conroe diner seeks to recognize, remember veterans with photos, ags M odel airplanes, American ags and war memora- bilia ll the walls of Honor

Sadler had never wanted to open a restaurant—he previously owned a defense contracting company—but that changed when he looked at his daughter’s school schedule. Sadler was surprised to see there were no civic or government classes, which he said are critical to understanding American values. “That was a catalyst for me,” he said. “If you want to know the cost of being American, you can nd it here on these walls.” Heartfelt, spontaneous interac- tions often occur within the diner, as it is a hot spot for veterans and their families to dine, Sadler said. He recalled the time a woman approached him, asking to add her gold star ag to the wall. She was a Gold Star mother, or a mother of a

member of the U.S. Armed Forces who died while engaged in combat and is entitled to display a gold star on a service ag. When she put her ag on the wall, she wept. “A lot of people get emotional here,” Sadler said. As for the food, Sadler said every- thing is made from scratch, and there are health-conscious options. Customers can also request dishes that are not on the menu if they wish to make them healthier. Customers who wish to shop around before or after they dine can also check out the cafe’s shop, League of the Extraordinary, which is a cross between an army and navy surplus shop, an equipment shop and a gun shop, Sadler said.

Owner Chris Sadler opened Honor Cafe in June 2020.

Café, a diner on North Thompson Street. One wall is divided into the dierent U.S. military branches with photos of veterans beneath the corresponding ag. The photos are given by custom- ers as a way to recognize and honor their loved ones, owner Chris Sadler said. Sadler, who is a Marine, said he knows the story of every veteran on his walls. “Every one of these pictures represents an incredible life and story,” he said. Sadler opened the diner in June for two reasons: to honor and serve veterans and their families, and to make the best food.

Honor Cafe 103 N. Thompson St., Conroe 936-286-8081 Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. www.facebook.com/honorcafeconroe

METCALF ST.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique’s designs can be found in shops across the country.

BUSINESS FEATURE

Business owner Morgan Calhoun opened Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique in Montgomery in September 2016.

PHOTOS BY ADRIANA REZALCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique

The boutique oers custom-designed apparel in addition to accessories.

Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique 15949 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 60, Montgomery 936-703-5332 www.sweettexastreasures.com Hours: Mon.-Wed., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thu. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Shop specializes in handmade, Texas-inspired patches for apparel, accessories

L ocated on Hwy. 105 in Montgomery, Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique oers a variety of custom-designed apparel and accessories patterned with handmade patches in Texas-inspired shapes ranging from pickup trucks to longhorns. “What’s awesome about all of our designs is no two are the same,” owner Morgan Calhoun said. “It’s unique to each individual who purchases it.” The boutique’s colorful aesthetic and branding are displayed through- out the store on patches, scrunchies and makeup bags. “I’m from Pasadena, Texas, so I grew up around the Hispanic culture and really took it on,” Cal- houn said. “I had a esta-themed wedding. I just love culture; I love colors; I love ... diversity—especially in today’s day and age—so my BY ADRIANA REZAL

designs represent that.” Six years ago, Calhoun began making her own clothing designs and selling them online through the e-commerce website Etsy. Two years later, Calhoun opened Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique. “Eventually the fabric started taking over my home,” Calhoun said. “I was making stu not only for Etsy, but doing little craft shows on the weekend, and then it grew from there.” Although Calhoun still sells merchandise online through social media platforms, she said customers enjoy the experience of shopping in the brick-and-mortar boutique. “I have people who will drive two hours just to shop here,” Calhoun said. “We’ve kind of built a name for ourselves as far as something unique that you can’t nd anywhere else.” In April, Calhoun began making

face masks using the boutique’s token fabrics in response to the coronavirus pandemic and donated some to health care workers. At $25 each, Calhoun said the boutique has since sold over 4,000 masks, which has helped the business stay aoat. “[The masks] helped my business survive while we were closed,” Calhoun said. “I think there was one day we sold 200 online in one day.” In March 2019, Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique opened a sec- ond location in Conroe and a third location specically for production in November. “I’m ever so grateful for the community here and the Greater Houston area just because I love Houston myself, but being out here is awesome,” Calhoun said. “Espe- cially when we reopened, the love that I’ve seen from the community has been phenomenal.”

MARINA DR.

105

NAVAJO DR.

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223 N. Main St., Conroe 936-521-1009

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Sun.

|75|

DAVIS ST.

SIMONTON ST.

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16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NONPROFIT

BY ADRIANA REZAL

MAGNOLIA CAMPUS

Founded two years ago by Elizabeth Goldsmith, Magnolia-based nonprot Thrive with Autism plans to build an autism-focused charter school campus on FM 1488 by the fall of 2022. By 2025, the organization is slated to open a second campus in Houston.

Magnolia campus • Coming fall 2022 • Will enroll grades K-5 • Tuition free

• At build-out, will accommodate students ages 3-21 • Will service students in Conroe, Klein, Magnolia, Montgomery, Spring, Tomball and Waller ISDs

From left to right: Director of Community Relations Stacy Grimes, founder and President Elizabeth Goldsmith, and Licensed Behavior Analyst Adrienne Sodemann help lead Thrive with Autism. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)

1488

N

ThrivewithAutism Proposed charter school would oer tuition-free, autism- focused academics and services at future FM 1488 campus E lizabeth Goldsmith founded Thrive with Autism two years ago with the goal of establishing an autism-focused, tui-

Houston campus • Coming fall 2025 • Starting with grades K-4 • Will accommodate students ages 3-21 • Will service students in Alief, Fort Bend, Houston, Pasadena, Pearland and Spring Branch ISDs • Location to be determined

to the school. “We want to get a good model that works, and we can’t accommodate every grade level right away,” Sodemann said. “We need more support at the younger ages, but it just kind of zzles out.” According to Sodemann, the school plans to oer applied behavior analysis treatment to students in an academic setting. As a public school, the charter school will receive state and federal funding, allowing tuition to be free. “This [school] gives [families] the opportunity to have access to the insurance-based therapists without having insurance or having to go broke trying to pay for it,” Sodemann said. To satisfy the school’s foreign language require- ment, Sodemann said American Sign Language will be oered to students. “One of the stumbling blocks for children that have autism is communication,” Sodemann said. “They struggle with being able to speak; some are nonverbal, and so what sign language does is it gives them another avenue to communicate with their peers, with their teachers and everyone.” Making plans Goldsmith said Thrive with Autism submitted a 500-page charter school application in late January to the state and expects a decision later this summer. In the meantime, the nonprot is currently fundraising for a $1.5 million down payment on the land on which the facility will be built. The organization currently has a $200,000 pledge from nonprot The Brown Foundation and has applied for a $900,000 grant oered by the Public Charter Startup Program, according to Goldsmith. “[We’ve been] building our team, making

tion-free charter school for students to receive academics and therapeutic services. Goldsmith said the one-stop model of the proposed school was inspired by The Els for Autism Foundation facility in Jupiter, Florida. Goldsmith, the president and founder of the Magnolia-based nonprot, said families often struggle to nd autism-focused programs oering high-quality education and therapy at an aordable price. Goldsmith said she experienced this issue with her 8-year-old son, who has autism. “We want to give families hope and know that something’s coming to help themmeet their needs for their children,” Goldsmith said. “They have so much potential inside them; we just have to nd a way to get in and unlock that potential.” The organization plans to build a school facility o of FM 1488 between Sierra Woods and Superior Road in Magnolia and is slated to welcome students in fall 2022. The campus will accept students residing in seven local school districts, including Conroe, Klein, Magnolia, Montgomery, Spring, Tomball and Waller ISDs. “This is where we rst saw the need,” Goldsmith said. “Most of us reside in this area, and we saw the kids struggling and we wanted to help.” While the school will start by oering multiage classes of kindergarten to fth grade, grade levels will be added each year until accommodating students ages 3-21. Adrienne Sodemann, a charter board and application teammember with Thrive with Autism, said higher grade-level support for autism is unique

ThrivewithAutism 346-225-3160 www.thrivewithautismfoundation.org

connections, fundraising [and] reaching out to families to see what they would like to see in a school like ours and getting community support,” Goldsmith said. Sodemann said the organization has been connecting with the community to get feedback from residents on what the school should look like. When the coronavirus pandemic made it dicult to conduct community outreach meetings in person, the nonprot went virtual instead. “Those [meetings] were so valuable to us because [families] ... were so honest with what their strug- gles were and giving us ideas of what worked and what they want to see,” Sodemann said. Looking ahead, Thrive with Autism plans to open a second charter school in the Houston area by fall 2025. Sodemann said while the Houston campus will mirror the Magnolia campus model, it will start with a younger pool of students in kindergarten to fourth grade and service Alief, Fort Bend, Houston, Pasadena, Pearland and Spring Branch ISDs. “There’s a greater need out there, and there’s … greater struggles in general for families, so we want to get a good model going strong in Magnolia and then start small in Houston and just grow and build and make it as successful as we can,” Sodemann said.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • FEBRUARY 2021

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