Conroe - Montgomery Edition - March 2020

CONROE MONTGOMERY EDITION

VOLUME 5, ISSUE 12  MARCH 18APRIL 21, 2020

ONLINE AT

OUTGROWING RATES WISD’s bond may not raise tax rates. Despite home values increasing from 2014-18, tax rates remained the same.

Willis ISD is putting three propositions on the May 2 ballot, with a maximum tax rate increase of $0.10.

$250K $200K $150K

$100K $50K $0 TAX RATE:

IMPACTS

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Cost: $12.5 million Scope: New natatorium, or pool

Cost: $100.15 million Scope: Facility improvements at every school, new gyms at four elementary schools, additional classrooms at Lynn Lucas Middle School, new pre-K center

Cost: $62.35 million Scope: New football stadium at Willis High School, new baseball eld, relocated softball eld, relocated track eld, new tennis courts

Board votes to continue lowering Lake Conroe

$1.39 $1.27

DATES TO KNOW

2019: House Bill 3 provides $5.1B in tax relief, decreasing the rate $0.12.

SOURCES: MONTGOMERY COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT, WILLIS ISD COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

2015: WISD calls a bond. Tax rate stays same due to population growth.

Willis ISD calls bond elections totaling $175M Three propositions focus on school improvements, new athletics facilities

ENVIRONMENT

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Principal approved for rezoned CISD school

lacks a natatorium. Clark, along with the rest of the swim team, would then drive back to WHS after practice to begin their school day. Alongside lacking a natatorium, WHS athletes, including football

players, must use crowded locker rooms, said Clark, who is also on the WHS football team. “The students and denitely the parents have done more than enough

BY ANDY LI

During swim season, Willis High School senior Jeremy Clark said he would commute every school day at 4:30 a.m. to the Conroe Aquatic Center for swim practice because his school

CONTINUED ON 24

EDUCATION BRIEFS

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Conroe residents can expect to see rising sewer rates over the next several years to fund the city’s growing infrastruc- ture needs. The city of Conroe broke ground on its new wastewater treatment plant Dec. 2—a $60 million project that will come online in spring 2022. The plant is permitted to treat 6 mil- lion gallons a day but is expandable to 12 million gallons a day to serve Conroe’s rapid growth, city ocials said. The new plant, designed by Lockwood, Andrews & New- nam and constructed by LEM Construction, sits on a 25-acre site east of I-45 and north of South Loop 336. It will serve the city’s area east of I-45, while the city’s existing plant, located on Sgt. Ed Holcomb Boulevard, will serve the western half. The new plant will also lessen the load on the existing plant—which is nearing maximum capacity—while also using energy-saving technologies, ocials said. Newwastewater treatment plant to serve Conroe’s growth BY EVA VIGH

RISING RATES Conroe’s sewer rates have been rising since at least scal year 2006-07. To fund the new wastewater plant, the city further increased sewer rates by 20% in October and has planned future increases. Here is how these increases will aect the monthly minimum sewer rate.

$50 $60 $40 $30 $20 $10

201920: CITY INCREASES ITS RATES TO FUND NEW PLANT

SUNDOG YOGA STUDIOS

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$56.83

MINIMUMCHARGE: +280%

$14.95

$0

FISCAL YEAR

THE HISTORIC HILL HOUSE + FARM

SOURCE: CITY OF CONROECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CONTINUED ON 27

A DECADE OF NURSING EXCELLENCE

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Being a great nurse goes beyond medical and technical knowledge. It involves caring for the whole patient and serving as their advocate. It takes compassion and the ability to think clearly under pressure. At Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, we’ve been celebrating our exceptional nursing team for over a decade as the first and only Magnet recognized facility in Montgomery County. Our third designation in a ten- year period reflects continued commitment to our patients and the communities we serve.

Advancing health. Personalizing care.

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

NOW OPEN

Conroe

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

IMPACTS

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more TODO LIST

PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett PUBLISHERHOUSTONMETRO Jason Culpepper GENERAL MANAGER Julie Cannon, jcannon@communityimpact.com EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Lanane MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens EDITOR Eva Vigh REPORTER Andy Li COPY CHIEF Andy Comer

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Local events and things to do TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 11 Completed, ongoing projects ENVIRONMENT 12 Subsidence study planned ENVIRONMENT 13 Lake Conroe lowering GOVERNMENT 15 Conroe rejects term limits proposal REAL ESTATE 16 Apartment rent, occupancy to rise

FROMJULIE: As summer approaches, parents may be searching for ways to keep their children active and out of trouble. We encourage you to check out our Camp Guide on Page 20 to explore local oerings.

Julie Cannon, GENERALMANAGER

FROMEVA: Regular readers of this paper may notice a common theme—new infrastructure and who pays for it. This issue follows the same vein, with stories on a new wastewater plant and a proposed school bond, and what these projects mean for taxpayers.

COPY EDITORS Ben Dickerson, Kasey Salisbury STAFFWRITERS Vanessa Holt, Trevor Nolley ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman DESIGN CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Kaitlin Schmidt STAFF DESIGNER Jay Jones, Caitlin Whittington BUSINESS GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Claire Love ABOUT US John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. CONTACT US 8400 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W, Ste. 220 Houston, TX 77064 • 2814696181 communityimpact.com PRESS RELEASES comnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

Eva Vigh, EDITOR

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

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UTLITIES

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Local sources

New businesses

Community events

Yoga poses

$937 million power plant underway EDUCATION BRIEFS 18 Mentor program, new teacher training CITY& COUNTY 19 Racial proling, water provider debate

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Sundog Yoga Studios FIRST LOOK

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The Historic Hill House + Farm REAL ESTATE

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

IMPACTS

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

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MONTGOMERY

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LONE STAR PKWY.

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Whitehorse CrossFit

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COURTESY WHITEHORSE CROSSFIT

serves a variety of Mexican dishes for lunch and dinner, including tamales, tacos, fajitas, burritos and diablos. Signa- ture entrees include grilled quail, stuffed poblano and mole dishes. 936-224-7964. www.mezcalcantina.net 5 Adventure Kids Playcare hosted its grand opening Feb. 29 at 795 Fish Creek Thoroughfare, Montgomery, in the Woodforest development. The child care center provides services for children between 6 weeks and 12 years old. 936-209-2212. www.adventurekids playcare.com 6 Cure & Associates opened Jan. 2 at 1560 Hwy. 105 W., Ste. 142, Montgomery. The business offers financial services such as accounting services, financial plan- ning and investment services. The office is open to new customers ahead of the 2020 tax season. 936-247-4400. www.cureandassociates.com 7 Leisure RV Center hosted a grand opening Feb. 27-29 at 12753 I-45 N., Wil- lis. The center specializes in luxury motor homes and travel vans. 713-804-5180. www.facebook.com/leisurervcenter 8 Johnstone Supply opened Jan. 20 at 800 Old Montgomery Road, Conroe. The store is a wholesale supplier of heating, ventilation and air conditioning supplies and has several locations throughout the Greater Houston area. 936-230-5040. www.johnstonesupply.com/39 COMING SOON 9 Marcel Boulevard will open in summer 2021, bringing new office, retail and restaurant space to Conroe’s Grand Central Park development at

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KEENAN CUT OFF RD.

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FISH CREEK THOROUGHFARE

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TOWN PARK DR.

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WEST FORK SAN JACINTO RIVER

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MAPNOTTOSCALE

N TM;©2020COMMUNITY IMPACTNEWSPAPERCO.ALLRIGHTSRESERVED.

NOWOPEN 1 Whitehorse CrossFit opened Jan. 25 at 4330 FM 1488, Conroe. CrossFit is a workout regimen that combines high-in- tensity training with nutrition in a “work- out of the day,” or WOD. Whitehorse holds a variety of classes for various skill levels. 936-465-0186. www.facebook.com/whitehorse- crossfit-108958827285465

2 The Grand Central Park development expanded its services with The Finding Place on Feb. 22. The staffed information center allows prospective homeowners to learn more about the homes available and the amenities of the development at 170 Town Park Drive, Conroe. 936-282-5135. www.grandcentral parktx.com 3 Salata Salad Kitchen opened at 449 S. Loop 336 W., Ste. 600, Conroe, on Feb. 29. The build-your-own salad

kitchen allows guests to customize salads or wraps with an assortment of lettuce mixes, vegetables, cheeses and nuts, fruits, proteins and dressings. The store donated 20% of all first-day sales to the Conroe High School band. 936-224-3159. www.salata.com 4 Mezcal Cantina Mexican Kitchen , a new Mexican-themed restaurant and bar, opened at the Marcel Town Center on Jan. 27. The kitchen, located off FM 1488 at 535 Woodland Square Blvd., Conroe,

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COMPILED BY ANDY LI AND EVA VIGH

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Jeff Springer, founder of Suit Up Ministries, said he hopes to transformMontgomery County by rebuilding families. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

FEATURED IMPACT EXPANSION Suit Up Ministries , a nonprot organization serving Montgomery County and the Greater Houston area, is gearing up to deliver a new network to support fathers of all backgrounds. Suit Up provides resources to men to become better fathers so they are involved in their children’s lives, founder Je Springer said. The nonprot was founded in 2008 and originally focused on hosting events. But this year, it is rolling out support groups, known as “huddles.” It is now seeking qualied men to lead the huddles and will provide training. “We don’t tell them ... where to meet ... [or who to invite],” Springer said. “We will help with ... curriculum and resources.” Research suggests that children who grow up without a father are more

likely to fall into poverty and get into behavior problems, Springer said, adding that he hopes to break the cycle of “fatherlessness.” Suit Up is founded on Christian-based principles, but anyone is welcome, Springer said. “What we are saying is, ‘Step up dads,’” he said. “[We want to] challenge men on the sidelines to get in the game.” The administrative oce is located at 138 Sagestone Court, Montgomery. 832- 689-9634. www.suitupministries.org

Mezcal Cantina Mexican Kitchen

Christian Brothers Automotive

COURTESY MEZCAL CANTINA MEXICAN KITCHEN

COURTESY CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AUTOMOTIVE

11322 I-45 S., Conroe. The open-air devel- opment will add parking, 68,160 square feet of restaurant and retail space and 32,400 square feet of executive office space to the area. 281-363-1336. www.marcelgroup.com 10 Developer Palmetto MDR will open the first units of its development, The Cottage Green , this fall. The 197 cottage-style homes are available for both downsizers and new homeowners. The community will have a walking loop and a wetlands preserve. The community is targeted for people age 55 and over but is open for any homeowner. The neighbor- hood will be off Southwest Loop 336 near Grand Central Park. Developer Palmetto MDR broke ground March 17. 832-928-3553. www.palmettomdr.com 11 TransMed Center will open a 40,000-square-foot building in July at

2510 S. Loop 336 W., Conroe. The center will specialize in services that focus on treating various conditions and diseases, such as autism, ADHD, mold toxicity and hormone imbalance. The center will also have a pharmacy, a kitchen, a fitness center, a spa and an urgent care facility. There is also about 15,000 square feet available for lease. The center has not finalized leases for the space. 346-402-0503. www.transmedcenter.com 12 Christian Brothers Automotive will open at 19920 Eva St., Montgomery, on April 13. Christian Brothers Automotive offers an array of services, from simple upkeep and maintenance to preventive services. Owners Kyle and Jena Cordell will operate the Montgomery location, which will be the 84th Christian Brothers Automotive shop in Texas. 281-743-6618. www.cbac.com

RIVERBEND CROSSING DR.

SAGESTONE COURT

OVERLAND TRACE DR.

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*To purchase beer and wine you must be 21 years and older. Food available while supplies last. Prices and availability subject to change without notice. 11 builders | 15 model homes | GrandCentralParkTX.com | (936) 282-5135 | NEW HOMES FROM THE $220s-$600s+

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

TODO LIST

March & April events

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

Cannon Brand will perform at Blue Epiphany Vineyards this month. (Courtesy Cannon Brand) LIVEMUSIC THE CORNER PUB&DELI 302 N. Main St., Conroe 936-788-2390 www.thecornerpubinconroe.com MARCH 28 The Dinner Party, 8:30 p.m. PACIFIC YARDHOUSE 101 Metcalf St., Conroe 936-703-5447 www.pacicyardhouse.net APRIL 10 Riptide, 8:30 p.m. THE RED BRICK TAVERN 119 Simonton St., Conroe 936-539-2000 www.theredbricktavern.com APRIL 02 Keeton Coman, 7 p.m. 09 Lauren Anderson, 7 p.m. BLUE EPIPHANY VINEYARDS 400 Bryant Road, Conroe 281-967-9799 www.blue-epiphany.com MARCH

MARCH 20

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MARCH 28

GO TOA CAR SHOW LAKE CHURCH

The Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce will host a legislative update with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, at the Conroe Tower, where he will talk about the state of the country and how it aects local issues. 7:30-9:30 a.m. $40. 300 W. Davis St., Conroe. 936-756-6644. www.conroe.org (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lake Church will host its third annual car and bike show of vehicles from before 1987. The event is free to the public, but those who want to participate in the show must pay $25 on the day of the show. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Lake Church, 1701 McCaleb Road, Montgomery. 936-588-4975. www.lakechurch.com (Courtesy Lake Church)

MARCH 21 LEARNABOUT

wine, food and kids activities. 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Free (entry). 14326 Liberty St., Montgomery. 936-449-8052. www.whitleyvineyards.com APRIL 04 GO TOA GARAGE SALE The Woodforest Development will host a multihome garage sale, with homeowners selling clothing, kitchen items, furniture and more. Maps of the participating homes will be available at the development’s information center on April 2. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free (entry). 251 Central Pine St., Montgomery. 936-447-2800. www.woodforesttx.com 20 SUPPORT A NONPROFITWITH GOLF Local equine nonprot All The King’s Horses will host its fourth annual charity golf tournament. The nonprot fosters healing and personal growth for youth through horsemanship. 8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Costs vary. Walden Golf Club, 13101 Walden Road, Montgomery. 936-777-5694. www.allthekingshorses.org

Jason Cassidy and Jody Booth. 1:45- 10 p.m. $20. 300 C.B. Stewart Drive, Montgomery. www.facebook.com/

events/471979320134753 27 THROUGHAPRIL 5 GO TO THE FAIR

MUSICAL THEATER Children Youth Theatre will partner with the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance to host a musical theater workshop for children age 5 to 12. The workshop will focus on building performance skills, self- condence and teamwork. 2-5 p.m. $20. Owen Theater Conroe, 225 Metcalf St., Conroe. 281-580-4298. www.cythouston.org 21 COMPETE INA RACE Southern Star Brewing Co. will host the Amazing Kindness Race with local nonprot Stronger to Serve, which provides tness and other services to help children grow into leaders. Race entries include a team shirt, custom pint glass and a free drink. 9-11 a.m. $30. 3525 N. Frazier St., Conroe. 936-337-3649. www.strongertoserve.org 21 EAT SOME CRAWFISH Listen to several local music groups while eating crawsh at Montgomery’s Music & Mudbugs Festival. Performers include Andy Griggs,

The 2020 Montgomery County Fair will open at 9201 Airport Road, Conroe. The event will feature rodeos, livestock shows, competitions and concerts from the Read Southall Band and Kyle Park. $10 (age 12 and older), $5 for (age 5-11). 936-760-3631. www.mcfa.org 28 BUY SOME SPRING BLOOMS Montgomery County Master Gardener Association will host its annual spring plant sale. Horticulture agents will also host a presentation on the plants available and answer questions from local gardeners. 9 a.m.-noon. Free (entry). 9020 Airport Road, Conroe. 936-539-7824. www.mcmga.com 29 SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS Celebrate local artisans at the Cozy Art Festival, hosted by Whitley Vineyards and the Cozy Grape Wine Bar and Bistro. The event will include

21 Frank Gilligan, 6 p.m. 28 Cannon Brand, 6 p.m. APRIL 11 Kevin Lamar, 6 p.m. 18 Jimmy Joe Long, 7 p.m.

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.

7 PM - 9 PM APR 2 Ropin’ the Wind – Garth Brooks Tribute MAY 7 Escape – Journey Tribute JUN 4 Cristina Tribute Show – To the Queen of Tejano JUL 2 Bri Bagwell AUG 6 Derek Spence – Tribute to George Strait SEP 3 Already Gone – Eagles Tribute C I TY OF CONROE F IRST THURSDAY FREE CONCERT SERI ES Heritage Place • 500 Metcalf St., Conroe, TX 77301 • cityofconroe.org • 936-522-3900 Concessions available on site!

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY ANDY LI

1097

UPCOMING PROJECT

Timeline: January-June Funding source: Conroe Industrial Devel- opment Corp. 2 Milltown area improvements Contractor Smith & Co. has completed curb and gutter work in a project to overlay about 2 miles of Sandra Street around Mill- town Park and improve roadside drainage. Cost: $2.4 million Timeline: August 2019-July Funding source: city of Conroe 3 FM 1097 widening TxDOT is acquiring the utilities and rights of way to widen FM 1097 from two to four lanes with a continuous left turn lane. Cost: $15.1 million Timeline: October 2018-third quarter 2020 Funding sources: federal, TxDOT 4 FM 830 repair The completion date for TxDOT's work to repair the base and pavement markings of FM 830 has been pushed back from winter 2019 to the rst quarter of 2020 due to asphalt production. Cost: $2.5 million Timeline: June 2019-rst quarter 2020 Funding source: TxDOT

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Market Street roadway extension The city of Conroe received bids March 5 for work to construct a four- lane concrete road from the Market Place Drive cul-de-sac to Plantation Drive. The work includes constructing sidewalks on both sides of the road and the addition of a left turn lane on Plantation Drive. Timeline: March-August Cost: $900,000 Funding source: city of Conroe

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ONGOING PROJECTS 1 East Wally Wilkerson Parkway and Sgt. Ed Holcomb Boulevard trac lights The Conroe Industrial Development Corp.’s project to install highway trac signals to meet Texas Department of

Transportation standards is ongoing. The project is at A Sgt. Ed Holcomb Bou- levard at Camelot Street, B East Wally Wilkerson Parkway at Conroe Park West Drive and C Pollock Drive. The contrac- tor is currently working at Pollok. Cost: $610,862

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF 030620. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT COMNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

ENVIRONMENT

IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS A committee assembled to look at ground- water and subsidence issues in Montgom- ery County would have three main tasks, according to The Woodlands Water Agency and Houston Advanced Research Center.

TASK 1: Project management HARC would man- age the project, projected to cost up to $120,000.

TASK 2: Convene a panel of experts

TASK 3: Communicate ndings HARC would develop fact sheets for the public and for policymakers, and a digital story map would be created for educational purposes.

Experts would analyze data relating ground- water withdrawal from local aquifers to subsidence, or land sinkage. The scientic advisory committee would provide informa- tion that can be used by policymakers.

SOURCES: THE WOODLANDS WATER AGENCY, HOUSTON ADVANCED RESEARCH CENTER, THE WOODLANDS TOWNSHIPCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Proposed $120K studywould look at groundwater, subsidence

BY VANESSA HOLT

are steeped in scientic language and technical jargon. “[I am pleased to have] HARC as a resource to check the technical, scientic data and convert it into something our community can understand and make policy deci- sions on,” Stinson said. Stinson, along with Stephanie Glenn, who heads the HARC water and hydrology program, approached The Woodlands Township board of directors Jan. 22 for support of the project, and members expressed interest in the initiative. “We’re not looking for a funding commitment, but [we are] looking for partners,” Stinson said.

The amount that would be needed to fund a 12-month programwould be $120,000, which could be borne through contributions from partners, he said. Stinson said in mid-February that two MUDs had signed on to sup- port the program, and the next step would be to develop a funding plan. Groundwater and subsidence have been a topic of discussion in Mont- gomery County. In 2016, a surface water treatment plant was brought online at Lake Conroe to help reduce the amount of groundwater drawn from aquifers in the area, Stinson said. Excessive groundwater with- drawals from aquifers—underground supplies of fresh water—have been

associated with subsidence, in which land sinks, he said. Shifting from a system exclusively supplied by groundwater to one that includes surface water in an attempt to reduce subsidence has been costly. The surface water treatment plant cost $500 million to build, according to Jace Houston, general manager for the San Jacinto River Authority, which operates the facility and sets the local water rates. SJRA rates increased Sept. 1 for scal year 2019-20 to $2.73 per 1,000 gallons for groundwater and $3.15 per 1,000 gallons for surface water. The previous rates were $2.64 and $2.83 per 1,000 gallons, respectively.

The Woodlands Water Agency, which oversees 10 municipal utility districts, and Houston Advanced Research Center, a nonprot, have joined forces to potentially create a scientic advisory committee to examine groundwater and subsid- ence in the Houston-Galeveston region, including Montgomery County. The study will examine the Chicot, Evangeline and Jasper aquifers, according to HARC. Jim Stinson, The Woodlands Water Agency general manager, said an impartial scientic opinion is needed to provide guidance on the topics and to help interpret the issues, which

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

ENVIRONMENT Board votes to continue seasonal LakeConroe lowering The San Jacinto River Authority voted 5-1 at a special meeting Feb. 20 to continue temporarily lowering Lake Conroe until December 2022, with some modications. The board’s vote serves as an ocial recommendation to the city of Houston, which owns the majority of the water rights. The board voted to change the fall lowering while keeping the spring lowering the same. Fall lowering would begin Aug. 1, lowering the lake to 200 feet above mean sea level. Beginning Sept. 1, it would be further lowered to 199.5 feet—instead of 199 feet as has been in eect. “That way, it doesn’t impact people on the lake so much,” SJRA President Lloyd Tisdale said. If a storm enters the region, the city of Houston may initiate an additional prerelease to 199 feet by notifying the SJRA in writing. In the spring, the lake will be lowered 200 feet beginning April 1 through May 31, then gradually relled beginning June 1. The program is to con- tinue until December 2022. BY TREVOR NOLLEY AND EVA VIGH

Lake Conroe residents wore red “Stop the drop” T-shirts, while Kingwood and Lake Houston-area residents wore white “Lives over levels” T-shirts at the Feb. 20 SJRA special meeting. (Trevor Nolley/Community Impact Newspaper)

The seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe is intended to act as a preventative mea- sure, preventing downstream

expressing his dismay over the extension.

“This policy does nothing but pit two communities against one another without providing any true ood improvements,” Metcalf said. Lake Conroe Association President Mike Bleier said he is disappointed the program was not eliminated but is pleased with the compromise. “[It allows for] higher lake

ooding by increasing the capacity of Lake Conroe to capture water during massive rainfall events, according to the SJRA. However, Lake Conroe residents said lower lake levels negatively aect their businesses, property values and livelihood.

“THIS POLICYDOES NOTHING BUT PIT TWO COMMUNITIES AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.” STATE REP. WILL METCALF, RCONROE

Over 1,000 residents attended the special meet- ing, including elected ocials. After the vote, state Rep. Will Metcalf, RConroe, issued a statement

levels for the busy August season and Labor Day weekend, which is an important period for lake business revenues and recreational use,” he said.

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

GOVERNMENT Conroe City Council votes against term limits proposal

TERMLIMITS Term limits have advantages and disadvantages, one expert said.

PROS

BY EVA VIGH

term limits had turned personal. He said he believes this proposal could be brought up again in future City Council sessions. “You can come out and say, ‘I vote against that’ … no blood, no harm, no foul,” he said. “You can discuss something without personalizing it.” Term limits are used to prevent major incumbency advantages in positions with little turnover, said John Theis, Lone Star College-King- wood political science professor. “Term limits ... prevent politicians from becoming entrenched and too cozy with lobbyists,” he said. But on the other hand, term limits could boot elected officials out of office just as they were beginning to fully understand their roles, he said. “It takes time for people to understand how a government works,” Theis said. “And when you try to term limit someone out, you’re getting rid of people that have the knowledge in how the system operates.”

GOOD PEOPLE HAVE SOME NOT-SO-GOOD DEBT WE CAN HELP SOME Meanwhile, over 100 Conroe and Montgomery area residents voiced their opinion on the vote on Next- door, a social networking site, with the majority in favor of term limits. In an interview with Community Impact Newspaper , McDonald said he was disappointed the debate over “All this did was give the voters a chance to elect term limits or not,” Czajkoski said. “We were going to let the voters approve it or not.” Conroe City Council members voted 2-3 against the ordinance, with Czajkoski and McDonald in favor. “If we can’t find five new people to serve this board every eight years, we have a problem,” Czajkoski said. Powell said he did not back the proposal, and he would be more prone to applying term limits for committee members rather than council members to encourage them to move to higher positions. He also said council members, including himself, are committed to serving the people, not themselves.

A proposed ordinance to allow voters to limit the election of the mayor and council members to two terms failed to pass at the Feb. 13 Conroe City Council meeting. The ordinance would have placed an amendment on the May 2 ballot to establish two four-year term limits. Council members can currently serve up to two four-year consecutive terms. If they wish to run again, they must sit out a four-year term. The proposed ordinance was introduced by Council Member Jody Czajkoski, and Council Member Raymond McDonald also provided input. Both were elected in mid-2018. Prior to being elected mayor in 2016, Mayor Toby Powell served six years in other council positions. City Coun- cil Member Duke Coon has served a total of 10 years in Position 3 thus far. Council Member Seth Gibson has served 14 years thus far in various positions. Duane Ham was elected in 2016 and is running for re-election.

CONS Helps remove “career politicians,” who use their elected positions to build their own personal career Prevents politicians from being too connected with lobbyists Limits major incumbency advantages and allows for more turnover May remove elected officials before they fully understand their roles Can be seen as unnecessary, as voters can vote out politicians they do not favor Can cause delays as there is significant learning curve for newly elected officials

SOURCE: JOHN THEIS, LONE STAR COLLEGE-KINGWOOD PROFESSOR/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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CONROE - MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

REAL ESTATE Moderate growth in apartment rent, occupancy onMontgomery County’s horizon

OCCUPANCY ANDNEWUNITS Here is how average apartment occupancy in each submarket fared in the last 12 months plus the number of new apartment units delivered in the last two years.

Number of new apartment units

Percentage of occupied apartments

BY EVA VIGH

County as a whole is not bringing online as many efficiency units, which are small units that combine living and sleeping space, as Texas and the nation. “There’s been a real trend in the last handful of years, especially the last three years, of construction around the country [going] towards more efficiency units. Those are coming at the expense of the one or two bedrooms,” he said. “Montgomery has not followed that trend.” Looking ahead, the majority of Montgomery County’s new multifamily construction—1,962 units out of 4,653—are in the precon- struction phase, meaning they may not be completed

time frame.

Montgomery County is well-positioned for moderate rent growth and average to above-average apartment occupancy for this year and next, said Jordan Brooks, market specialist at ALN Apartment Data, a multifam- ily data platform. Average apartment rent and occupancy have trended upward since 2017, Brooks said in his presentation Feb. 18 at the Houston Apartment Association’s Montgomery County State of the Submar- ket Breakfast. Average multifamily occu- pancy in Montgomery County from January 2017 to January 2020 was 91.3%, according to ALN. Meanwhile, the average rent per unit is $1,064 in that

From January 2019 to January 2020, the Conroe/ Montgomery area averaged around 93% multifamily occupancy. Other submar- kets in the region ranged from 87.5% in Kingwood to 94% in Tomball. In terms of supply, Mont- gomery County saw an addi- tion of 2,173 new multifamily units from January 2017 to January 2020, according to data from ALN. From January 2018 to January 2020, the Kingwood area saw an addition of 336 units; The Woodlands area had 340; and the Conroe/ Montgomery area and Tomball area had 0. Looking at unit types, Brooks said Montgomery

KINGWOOD

CONROE/MONTGOMERY

336

0

87.5%

93%

THE WOODLANDS

TOMBALL

340

0

91%

94%

SOURCE: ALN APARTMENT DATA/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

this year, Brooks said. For comparison, the Houston metro has 14,892 out of 52,692 total units in precon- struction phase. “Montgomery County

still has a big percentage of pipeline in preconstruction phase, which is good. It adds flexibility to the market,” he said. “Those are properties that can be put on hold.”

16

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

UTILITIES Construction underway atMontgomery County Power Station

BY EVA VIGH

online, Barrett said customers’ monthly rates will likely initially increase by about $3.62 per 1,000 kilowatt hours. However, Entergy ocials claimed the plant will result in about $1 billion in savings for Entergy customers over the next 30 years through increased eciencies. The company expects the plant to pay for itself in 10 years. “This is an easy economic invest- ment for customers,” Barrett said. The plant created 750 on-site construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs, Entergy ocials said. Entergy ocials said they believe investing in new infrastructure is critical to meet Southeast Texas’ growing needs. According to Entergy, the region would face a 1.2-gigawatt shortfall in 2022 if no new infrastruc- ture were delivered. The Montgom- ery County Power Station will deliver 993 megawatts hourly, or about 1 gigawatt—enough to meet the aver- age power needs of about 640,000 homes, according to Entergy.

BRINGINGMORE POWER The new Montgomery County Power Plant will service all of Entergy Texas’ customers across Montgomery County. $937M power plant

A $937 million power station in Willis is making headway, slated to come online mid-2021. Entergy Texas, which provides electricity across Texas, including the Conroe area, broke ground on the project in February 2019. The new plant is located north of the Lewis Creek Reservoir and is on Entergy’s existing power station site. The plant will service Entergy Texas customers across Montgom- ery County, including Conroe, and customers may expect an increase in user fees to fund the project. Entergy is also extending an existing 20-mile pipeline to fuel the plant with natural gas, said Stuart Barrett, vice presi- dent of customer service for Entergy Texas. The plant is a combined cycle gas turbine unit, meaning it uses two types of turbines to generate electric- ity—gas combustion turbines and a steam turbine. The plant is being funded through customer user fees. Once it comes

75

1097

45

N

MID 2021 power plant expected to come online $3.62 monthly user rate increase per 1,000 kilowatt hours

Entergy Texas’ new power plant is located north of the Lewis Creek Reservoir in Willis. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)

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CONROE  MONTGOMERY EDITION • MARCH 2020

EDUCATIONBRIEFS

News from Conroe & Montgomery ISDs

Local school districts seek volunteers for mentor program CONROE, MONTGOMERY ISDS Local school districts are seeking vol- unteers for their mentor programs. MISD has 60 mentors matched with students as of early January, MISD Director of Special Programs Jada Mullins said. CISD’s program had 186 mentors matched with students in late December, but there are more than 130 students on the waiting list for mentors, project facilitator Angela Matthew said. “The number of kids on the waitlist is just growing faster than we can recruit volunteers,” Matthew said. Mentors meet with their assigned student—preferably once a week—to have lunch with them. “The program focuses on providing a consistent, stable adult in that per- son’s life,” Matthew said. “The men- tor follows the kid from fth grade all the way through graduation.” The CISD program is oered at Conroe High School and the schools that feed into it, including Travis Intermediate, Cyrar Intermediate, Bozman Intermediate, Washington Jr. High, Peet Jr. High and Conroe High School 9th Grade Campus. MISD’s program is oered at Oak Hills Junior High and Montgomery Junior High. BY EVA VIGH

Principal appointed for rezoned Stockton Junior High

FROMHERE TO THERE Bryan Gorka will oversee students from Washington and Peet junior high schools at Stockton Junior High School. Washington will become a high school.

BY ANDY LI

CONROE ISD The Conroe ISD board of trustees approved the appointment of Bryan Gorka as the principal of the recently rezoned Stockton Junior High at its Feb. 18 meeting. Gorka will oversee students rezoned fromWashington and Peet junior high schools. Gorka is currently the principal of the Conroe High School 9th Grade Campus. Superintendent Curtis Null said Gorka was chosen because of his ability to “mesh the cultures” of multiple schools. At the 9th grade campus, Gorka oversees students who graduated from Washington and Peet. Gorka said it has been an honor to work with the sta and families of the Conroe campus. “I look forward to continuing serving the same community,” Gorka

Peet Junior High From Washington Junior High to Peet Junior High From Washington Junior High School to Stockton Junior High

105

336

45

From Peet Junior High to Stockton Junior High

Bryan Gorka is currently the principal of the Conroe 9th grade campus .

N

SOURCE: CONROE ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

said. “We will do great things.” The trustees unanimously approved the rezoning of Washing- ton and Peet on Jan. 21, which gave 1,177 students to Peet and 1,243 students to Stockton. Both schools

have a capacity of 1,450 students. Washington will be repurposed as Washington High School. Stockton is expected to open for the 2020-21 school year at 2750 Excellence Ave., Conroe.

Montgomery ISDprepares for state-mandated teacher training

BY EVA VIGH

comprehensive model, said Wendy Graves, MISD's assistant superintendent of elementary education. The comprehensive model includes face-to-face ses- sions with a $10,000 at fee, while the blended model includes online modules with a $12,000 at fee. So far in academic year 2019-20, MISD has received $433,000 from HB 3’s early education allotment to pay for these costs, Graves said.

MONTGOMERY ISD School ocials are preparing to roll out additional reading and writing instructional training—as required by House Bill 3. All teachers and principals who serve kindergarten through third-grade students must begin Texas Reading Academies training before the 2022-23 school year. Montgomery ISD will use either a blended or

MEETINGSWE COVER

The Conroe ISD board of trustees meets April 21 at 6 p.m. at 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe. 936-709-7752 • www.conroeisd.net.

The Montgomery ISD board of trustees meets April 21 at 7 p.m. at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery. 936-276-2000 • www.misd.org.

The Willis ISD board of trustees meets April 13 at 5:30 p.m. at 204 W. Rogers Road, Willis. 936-856-1200 • www.willisisd.org.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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