BAY AREA EDITION
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 10 MAY 8JUNE 4, 2020
Bay Area residents grapple with new normal during pandemic Learning to cope
PHOTOS COURTESY CLEAR CREEK ISD
BY COLLEEN FERGUSON Elena Hromadka and her friends had planned a beach getaway for after their senior prom. Now, the closest the group can get to one another is several feet apart in their school parking lot. The Clear Lake High School student said as social opportunities have been
canceled, she and her friends have started meeting from their cars, con- versing from atop their trunks. They mail each other letters, too. Not only seniors are suering. At the elementary level, some teachers are connecting with students by deliver- ing “my teacher misses me” signs.
Hromadka and her family dressed up and took photos in their home April 4—what would have been prom night. With her time as a Clear Creek ISD stu- dent coming to a close, there is a palpa- ble sense of loss, she said. She will not get to spend another lunchtime with her friends or sit in the classrooms of
her favorite teachers. “We’re all learning how to cope with the fact that we’re losing all of these milestones that we’ve been looking forward to since kindergarten,” she said. “We’re losing something we can’t get back.”
CONTINUED ON 14
In the three weeks League City had an ordinance that allowed police to ne residents up to $2,000 for violat- ing now-obsolete stay-at-home orders, no one was cited or arrested, according to police records. Still, that does not mean ocers were not busy. Police responded to nearly 100 calls for service related to residents and businesses violating or] arrested,” Ratli said. Public Information Ocer John Grif- th said the department understood why residents and businesses might have violated stay-at-home orders. For many, there are money and emotions involved, so ocers tried to be under- standing when responding to calls, Grith said. “We’re working with people,” he said of the ordinance. CONTINUED ON 17 No nes, arrestsmade in League City during local disaster declaration BY JAKE MAGEE stay-at-home orders over the three weeks. That is an average of over four calls a day, and many of them were to the same parks and businesses, records show. OnMarch 24, League City City Coun- cil passed an ordinance that allowed police to ne residents up to $2,000 if they violated the state’s and county’s stay-at-home orders amid the corona- virus outbreak. On April 14, the council did not vote to extend the ordinance, ending ocers’ authority to ne resi- dents $2,000. However, police could still ne vio- lators up to $1,000 or put them in jail for up 180 days under the governor’s order, which ended May 1. Chief Gary Ratli had instructed ocers to rst give verbal warnings to oenders. “Only under a last-ditch eort would it ever result in somebody being [ned
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Our commitment to your health is stronger than ever Challenging times demand new ways of doing things Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Clear Lake is open and now scheduling Virtual Visits before in-clinic appointments to help protect the health and safety of our patients, employees, and community. Same-day and next-day Virtual Visits include Video, Telephone, and online E-visits. You’ll visit with a Kelsey-Seybold doctor, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or other clinician. They may be able to provide the medical advice and prescriptions you need without you ever leaving your home. However, if they determine that additional follow-up care or testing is needed, they’ll work with you to schedule an in-person appointment at our clinic. We’re open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our 24/7 Contact Center at 713-442-0000 is standing by to assist you in scheduling a Virtual Visit, or you can directly schedule virtual appointments through your secure MyKelseyOnline account or the
WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7/365 Clear Lake Clinic 1010 South Ponds Dr. Webster, TX 77598 713-442-4200 24/7 Contact Center 713-442-0000 MyKelseyOnline (MKO) mykelseyonline.com MKO Help Line 713-442-6565 (7 days a week, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.) After-Hours Nurse Hotline 713-442-0000 Learn More About Virtual Visits kelsey-seybold.com/virtual
MyChart/MyKelsey app. We’re all in this together
Our primary care and specialty care providers and clinical teams in Clear Lake and the Bay Area are here for you now and in the future. Sincerely,
Alecia Davis- Townsend, M.D. Managing Physician
Mark MacGregor, M.D., D.A.B.I.M. Managing Physician
BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
WE NEED TO SUPPORT THE BEST GOOD CAUSE OF ALL: EACH OTHER.
Our city is famous for its Big Houston Heart. But right now, Houston is under attack. It’s a virus.
At St. Luke’s Health, we know who’s defending us – the city’s Healthcare teams, EMS, Police, Rescue Workers, and Fire Fighters. And what supports them? It’s our collective commitment to the basics: washing hands, practicing social distancing, and staying home. Simple. But critical. Because if we don’t take care of the frontline, who’s going to take care of us?
Take care of the basics. And show what our Big Houston Heart really can do. ShowUsYourHoustonHeart.org | #ShowUsYourHoustonHeart
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
OUR PLEDGE TOOUR READERS
FROMJAKE: What strange times. I grew up watching movies and playing video games about the apocalypse. Almost all of these forms of entertainment media about the end of days would start with a montage showing how the world fell apart, and often, some new virus or disease would be to blame.
PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett PUBLISHERHOUSTONMETRO Jason Culpepper ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Kristina Shackelford GENERAL MANAGER Cathy Turner, email@example.com EDITORIAL
As I’ve hunkered down in my apartment these past several weeks, it’s been hard to not draw comparisons to such stories and the state of the world today. Of course, the world is not ending, and things will one day return to normal, and it’s that truth that keeps me feeling optimistic about the future. In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed my time working from home, and yes, we are still working. If you haven’t noticed, Community Impact Newspaper has tripled, maybe even quadrupled, its online eorts since the outbreak began. We operate almost like a daily newspaper nowadays, publishing several new stories a day to keep you informed about what’s happening at the state, regional and local levels. I hope you check out communityimpact.com and subscribe to our now-daily newsletter at communityimpact. com/corporate-newsletter to stay up to date on what you need to know. Despite myself and everyone at Community Impact Newspaper doing our best to stay positive in these unprecedented times, know that we do miss you. I miss talking to residents at city council meetings. I miss stopping by city hall or local businesses for in-person interviews. I miss driving around the Bay Area and seeing the water, the Kemah Boardwalk, Space Center Houston and the other attractions that make the area special. But one day, those activities will be possible again. Businesses will reopen, residents will return to work, and we’ll be there, reporting it all. See you soon.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Lanane MANAGING EDITOR Marie Leonard EDITOR Jake Magee REPORTER Colleen Ferguson STAFFWRITER Danica Smithwick COPY CHIEF Andy Comer COPY EDITORS Ben Dickerson, Kasey Salisbury ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Lara Estephan DESIGN CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Tessa Hoee GRAPHIC DESIGNER Justin Howell 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 245 Commerce Green Blvd., Ste. 200 Sugar Land, TX 77478 • 3463682555 communityimpact.com PRESS RELEASES firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Now Open, Relocations &more
JAKE MAGEE, EDITOR
COMMUNITY 11 Residents come together around face mask making
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BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
Businesses that have recently opened or are relocating
COMPILED BY COLLEEN FERGUSON AND JAKE MAGEE
From Our Seniors to Yours...
ARMAND BAYOU NATURE CENTER MIDDLEBROOK DR.
The MultiCultural Center
COURTESY MULTICULTURAL CENTER
GALVESTON BAY celebrated its grand opening Feb. 8 with a ceremony and banquet. The facility at 951 Tristar Drive, Webster, is dedicated to inspiring community FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN The MultiCultural Center A members to work together while celebrating shared humanity and addressing common challenges. The center focuses on “health, education, helping the needy and guiding the next generation from every faith, every color and every ethnic background,” center President Mohammed Shalaby said in a news release. The center aims to enhance interaction among southeast Houston’s diverse cultural and religious groups through social, educational, recreational and service- based activities. Programming at the facility includes a food pantry run in association with the Houston Food Bank, a medical clinic for uninsured and underinsured community members, political awareness workshops, art classes and youth programming. Most area Islamic centers cater only to people from the Muslim community, so the MCC brings a more open space for people to utilize the various available resources, executive body board member Mohammed Nasrullah said. “This is really open to anybody. Anybody can walk in and apply for aid or get help from our services,” he said. “Our mission … is to inspire people to work together for a brighter future.” Amid the pandemic, the center is providing people in need with nonperishable food items, cooked meals and toiletries in keeping with its motto of “meet, connect, contribute.” The center also established a COVID-19 hotline at its Mercy Clinic, and its Family First program has hosted webinars with mental health and spiritual professionals on how to cope with the pandemic. The MCC is planning to add more virtual programs for children at home, Nasrullah said. Nasrullah also raised more than $9,000 from 10 a.m. April 21 until 10 a.m. April 23, when he went on a 48-hour fast to raise money for the Houston Food Bank. He drank only water during those two days and set up a GoFundMe page where he posted regular updates about his experience. 832-481-4004. www.multiculturalcenter.net
D R .
SOUTH SHORE BLVD.
WEST WALKER ST.
Congratula tions, Graduates!
MAP NOT TO SCALE TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. N
4 UTMB Health Clear Lake Campus , 200 Blossom St., Webster, on Feb. 18 celebrated the opening of its new pediatric inpatient unit and emergency department, which is a collaboration between UTMB Health and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. The unit provides child life specialists; pediatric subspecialists; and amenities including a large playroom, fam- ily lounge, video game consoles and more. 832-632-7697. www.utmbhealth.com 5 The Mesquite Grill opened Feb. 29 at 16630 El Camino Real, Houston, and it is now open at 25% capacity. The eatery oers mesquite smoked Tex-Mex items including tacos al carbon and fajitas as well as burgers, hot sandwiches and fries. 832-240-4641. www.themesquitegrill.com RELOCATIONS 6 South Land Title opened in League City Plaza at 192 S. Gulf Freeway, Ste. C-2, League City, in early March. Previously the business was at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Ste. 100, League City. The business, which has locations around Houston, is experienced in local, state and multistate transactions. 281-338-2225. www.southlandtitle.net 7 Viola & Agnes’ Neo Soul Cafe , 18091 Upper Bay Road, Houston, will be relo- cating by June 1 to 3659 NASA Parkway, Seabrook, where the old Cock and Bull restaurant used to be. The cafe oers a revolving menu by chef Aaron Davis, who named the restaurant after his grand- mothers. Davis’ food ranges from shrimp and grits to fried pork chops and catsh. 281-333-2620. www.neosoulfood.org
NOWOPEN 1 HTeaO , a Texas-based iced tea fran- chise, opened its Webster location at 481 W. Bay Area Blvd. on Feb. 14, and it is now open at 25% capacity. The business oers 24 avors of sweet and unsweetened iced tea, puried water and ice, home- brew teas and more. Tea avor options include peach ginger, coconut and turbo citrus energy tea. There are 127 HTeaO locations across seven states, 16 of those being in the Houston area, corporate marketing ocer Rachel Hutchens said. 832-835-2182. www.hteao.com 2 Ace Hardware opened March 2 at 1915 W. League City Parkway, Ste. 100, League City. In the midst of the corona- virus outbreak, owner Keyur Amir said he saw an inux of customers buying barbe- cue supplies, gardening tools and home repair equipment. Customers stuck at home worked on landscaping and house projects, bringing in business. 281-316-9992. www.acehardware.com 3 CMIT Solutions of Clear Lake opened in early May at 2925 S. Gulf Freeway, Ste. B-311, League City. The cybersecurity solutions business provides information technology support and helps protect the data of small- and mid-sized businesses. Owner Brad Bricker said he cannot wait for the business to contribute to the com- GOV. GREG ABBOTT ON APRIL 27 ANNOUNCED BUSINESSES AND RESTAURANTS CAN REOPEN MAY 1 AT 25% CAPACITY. THE FOLLOWING NEWS WAS UP TO DATE AS OF PRESS TIME.
4004 Vista Rd. Pasadena, TX 77504 Lic. #000951
713.941.4663 ColonialOaks.com Call today to schedule a tour or lunch visit.
munity. 800-399-2648. www.cmitsolutions.com
BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
COMPILED BY JAKE MAGEE
I45widening project deadlines extended by several months
PROJECTS IN PROGRESS 1 NASA Parkway to FM 518 Original completion date: third quarter of 2021 New completion date: end of 2021 Cost: $99.2 million 2 FM 518 to FM 517 Original completion date: early 2021 New completion date: early 2022 Cost: $121.7 million 3 FM 517 to FM 1764 Original completion date: third quarter of 2022 New completion date: end of 2023 Cost: $230.4 million 4 FM 1764 to FM 519 Expected completion date: third quarter of 2025 Cost: $163 million PROJECTS UNDER DEVELOPMENT 5 FM 519 to Texas City Wye Start date: August 2020 Cost: $105.7 million 6 Texas City Wye interchange work Start date: August 2020 Cost: $74 million 7 Texas City Wye to Causeway Start date: August 2020 Cost: $92.1 million 8 Causeway to 61st Street Start date: April 2022 Cost: $114 million and utility relocation eorts took longer than planned, delaying those projects, Perez wrote. Additionally, the major project to recongure the intersection of I-45 and FM 646 was delayed for over two months because it was originally scheduled to happen over the holidays in late 2018. TxDOT delayed that work to March 2019 to reduce the negative eects to travelers, Perez wrote. “It is our goal to nish each project as quickly as possible and to minimize impacts on the traveling public,” Perez wrote. “Our project teams work to overcome any challenges that may arise by working with the contractor.”
W. WALKER ST.
The Texas Department of Transpor- tation’s widening of I-45 fromHouston to Galveston has been going on for years, and the construction will last years longer in the Bay Area. According to a February update from TxDOT, several widening projects along I-45 have new deadlines that are months—up to over a year— later than originally projected. The widening project between NASA Parkway and FM 518 was expected in summer 2018 to be com- pleted in the fall of 2021, but that has been pushed back to the end of 2021. It will cost $99.2 million. The project from FM 518 to FM 517 was going to be complete near the beginning of 2021 but has now been pushed back to the beginning of 2022 with a cost of $121.7 million. Finally, the project between FM 517 and FM 1764 will wrap up at the end of 2023 at a cost of $230.4 million. The original expected completion date was the third quarter of 2022. TxDOT Public Information Ocer Danny Perez said weather and holiday travel aected expected completion dates for projects. “Inclement weather has limited the contractor’s ability to work on critical items. Work was suspended during periods of heavy holiday trac to minimize lane closures and impacts to the traveling public,” Perez wrote in an email to Community Impact Newspaper . The pushed back completion dates were not related to the coronavirus. In fact, the outbreak may lead to some
Dickinson Avenue reconstruction The completion of reconstructing Dickinson Avenue between FM 646 and Walker Street has been delayed from December 2019 to summer 2020. There have been delays on the north side of the project due to utility relocations that have interfered with the placement of the new underground storm sewer, but the southern half of the project, from FM 646 to Hwy. 96, has been completed. Timeline: January 2019-June 2020 Cost: $7 million Funding sources: Galveston County ($6 million), city of League City ($1 million)
ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF APRIL 20. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT BAYNEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. Red Blu Road bridge replacement The bridge at Red Blu Road and Big Island Slough will be reconstructed as part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s program to ensure all bridges meet safety standards. Timeline: March-October Cost: $5.1 million Funding source: TxDOT ($4.6 million), Harris County ($510,000)
SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
parts of the project being completed sooner, Perez said. “In such cases, the contractor is being allowed to work in some areas for longer stretches of time, speci- cally because peak travel periods are not as congested as they would be under ‘normal’ circumstances,” Perez wrote. For the two projects between FM 518 and FM 1764, right of way acquisition
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BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
ECONOMY Houston area sees over 400,000 unemployment claims in6weeks
The numbers of unemployment claims in the Greater Houston area in March and April were several times what they were last year.
90,000 80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0
BY DANICA SMITHWICK
see high levels of claims for several more weeks. The percentage of Houston workers who are unemployed is likely some- where in the midteens, according to Jankowski’s estimates. “I can definitely see this unem- ployment rate being the highest it’s ever been on record,” he said during an April 28 webinar. The job sectors hit the hardest statewide during the pandemic include hotels, restaurants and bars; retail trade; and health care, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Hospitality may be one of the last sectors to fully recover from the pandemic, as Jankowski said families may be hesitant to travel and be uncomfortable attending large gatherings for awhile. Gov. Greg Abbott has implemented a plan to gradually reopen some businesses, which began May 1, but
With nearly every industry in the metropolitan area facing a downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, Houstonians can expect to continue seeing an elevated level of unemploy- ment claims in the coming weeks, according to Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership. Jankowski said he estimates 407,237 unemployment insurance claims have been filed in the Greater Houston area fromMarch 1-April 25. While that number does not reflect the true number of jobs lost, it represents a significant increase over the 27,012 claims made during the same time frame in 2019. Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. began trending down in early April, but Jankowski said many individuals are still having issues filing claims, so he expects to
SOURCES: TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, GREATER HOUSTON PARTNERSHIP/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
some Houston-area businesses might not yet be prepared. The GHP conducted a survey of its members April 20-22 regarding plans to reopen safely. Social distancing was a top concern for businesses, followed by access to personal protective equipment, access to financial capital, access to child care and liability protections should an employee test positive for COVID-19. While state officials are eager to reopen the economy in Texas, the
aftermath of the coronavirus will have a lasting effect on the nation. Housing starts in the U.S. are down 22.3% and vehicle sales are down 32.2% since 2019—two key economic indicators Jankowski said are a concern. “It’s a bit of a sign of ... consumer apprehension,” he said. “Most consumers aren’t going to buy a car or they’re not going to buy a house if they’re worried about being able to make [payments].”
National Hospital Week May 10-16 League City ‘s Our Healthcare Community
Thank you for keeping our community healthy during these challenging times.
Show your appreciation for all the healthcare workers in our city by dropping off a card or thank you note in the bin located inside League City Hall, 300 West Walker Street, by May 16. League City will distribute
them to healthcare workers at hospitals in our community.
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
WE REINVENTED THE BUSINESS TO
Michelle Davis, a sophomore at Clear Springs High School,
UTILIZE OUR SKILLS AND BE ABLE TO STILL PROVIDE FOR OUR FAMILIES. OF COURSE WE REMAINWILLING TO DO MASKS AS LONG AS NEEDED EVEN IF IT BECOMES A PERMANENT EXTENSION OF OUR BUSINESS.
Nicholas Davis, an eighth grader at Creekside Intermediate School, prints ear-relief straps for face masks.
initially made masks for her family, using design patterns she found online.
TERRI BOOSER, COOWNER OF SUGAR & SPICE DRAPERY AND SHADES
PHOTO COURTESY SUGAR & SPICE DRAPERY AND SHADES
PHOTOS COURTESY CLEAR CREEK ISD
BY COLLEEN FERGUSON Residents come together around facemaskmaking
WHY SHOULD I WEAR A MASK?
Many coronavirus cases lack symptoms or develop symptoms later on in the diagnosis, so individuals might not know they have or are transmitting the disease.
“We reinvented the business to utilize our skills and be able to still provide for our families,” she said in a Facebook message. “Of course we remain willing to do masks as long as needed even if it becomes a perma- nent extension of our business.” After seeing increasing amounts of Facebook posts related to area mask shortages, Jane Sweeney decided to act as well. Initially, her goal was to make 100 masks. As of April 16, Sweeney said she and about 30 other workers have made well over 1,000. Sweeney owns Minuteman Press- Bay Area at 1040 Hercules Ave., Houston. People often drop masks o anonymously or even send them directly to medical facilities, so the number of mask-makers is likely higher than 30, Sweeney said. As Clear Creek ISD students enter their third calendar month of distance learning, two siblings are using some of their extra time in isolation to make masks and ear-relief straps. Michelle
Davis, a sophomore at Clear Springs High School, and Nicholas Davis, an eighth grader at Creekside Intermedi- ate School, are giving the free equip- ment to rst responders and hospital workers or selling them for $5 each, according to their mother, Maria Davis. Nicholas, who is interested in robot- ics and 3D printing, researched designs for mask ear-relief straps, which he prints himself. Michelle irons, pins and sews together the masks, which takes 10 to 15 minutes each, Maria said. So far, the two have made more than 60 masks and 150 straps. Nicholas donated around 30 straps to a Hous- ton-area re department in mid-April, Maria said. Michelle expressed pride in being able to help her neighbors. “It makes us feel very happy that we can help the people that help us because they risk their lives every day to keep our community safe and healthy,” she said in a district press release.
Bay Area residents of all ages are working to provide protective gear to essential workers, rst responders and community members amid the coronavirus pandemic. For Terri Booser, making, selling and donating masks is her family’s main source of income with her husband’s business on hold. Booser co-owns Sugar & Spice Drapery and Shades, which went from oering customwin- dow treatment and soft furnishings to face mask production. The shop is aiming to help local businesses that are requiring employees to be masked, she said in a Facebook message. The business initially donated 300 masks, which were made with avail- able materials, but they improved the design to oer a better-quality item, Booser said. The shop’s team decided to invest in necessary mask-making supplies to ensure consistency and quality in the event of future supply shortages, she added.
Cover your mouth and nose in public even if you are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or interacting with someone who is experiencing symptoms. Wash masks in hot water before the rst use and between uses. Replace masks when they get damp.
Use surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as these critical supplies should be reserved for health care professionals. Ignore calls for social distancing of 6 feet between persons. Forget to wash hands frequently as well as before putting on a mask.
SOURCES: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, HARRIS COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
News from League City and Clear Creek ISD
League City approves Riverbend development
ClearCreek ISD addressespass-fail gradingconcerns
BY JAKE MAGEE
if the city would improve the road before development began to make sure trac is not adversely aected, noting while most vehicles will come from I-45, Main Street is already heavily aected by trac. Hoover said there will be improve- ments to Wesley and Main, and the Texas Department of Transportation is doing improvements up and down Main, including widening the road and adding continuous turn lanes.
will feature 37 acres of parks, two marinas with 77 boat slips, a kayak launch, a boat ramp, 8,000 feet of walking trails and an amphitheater. An Aloft Hotel will also be constructed, Director of Planning and Development David Hoover said. “It will be very cool as far as the overall development is concerned,” he said. Additionally, a 12-by-12-foot sign no higher than 40 feet tall will be con- structed along the front road to I-45. Some council members expressed concerns about the sign. Others brought up trac along Main Street, which intersects withWesley Drive south of the development. Council Member Andy Mann asked conducted in October through Janu- ary. The amount put the city slightly ahead of the pace required to meet the budgeted goal of $20.47 million by the end of FY 2019-20, according to an April 6 memo fromAngie Steelman, the city’s director of budget and project management. However, beginning next month, the city expects to see a downward trend in sales tax revenue collected, according to the memo. The sales tax revenue the city collects in May will be from sales made in March, which is when the outbreak began in Texas. “Given that the rst cases of COVID- 19 were reporting in Texas in March 2020, disruption will start in the city’s May collections. The June collections, which are for April sales, will be the rst full month reecting the eect of businesses’ reduction and change in
LeagueCityprojects sales tax lossesamid coronavirusoutbreak According to plans, about 600 to 700 families will live in apartments and townhouses in the development, dubbed Riverbend at Clear Creek PUD, but it will include public amenities to attract others. The over $100 million development LEAGUE CITY With League City City Council’s approval, Atticus Real Estate will soon begin transforming a curved road near I-45 into a residential devel- opment with a hotel, restaurants, a marina and other amenities. The council voted unanimously April 14 to replace the existing River- bend planned unit development with a new one along NorthWesley Drive just east of I-45.
BY COLLEEN FERGUSON
League City City Council Watch online at facebook.com/ leaguecitytexas Next meetings: May 12 and 26 at 6 p.m. Clear Creek ISD board of trustees Watch online at facebook.com/ clearcreekisd Next meeting: May 25 at 6 p.m. MEETINGSWECOVER CLEAR CREEK ISD Clear Creek ISD administrators addressed points of contention related to the district’s recently adopted spring 2020 pass-fail grading policy at a special meeting April 20. While several parents wrote in to express support for the pass-fail system, twice as many public comments came from dissatised parents of students who felt disen- franchised by the policy change. “Why can’t the board consider a system that benets every child?” read a submitted comment from ElizabethWebb. A pass-fail system remains the most equitable choice, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Karen Engle said. Administrators and board members said grades should not be the only factor dening student success. Dava West, director of guidance and counseling, said colleges are not basing admissions solely on academic performance.
RIVERBEND AT CLEAR CREEK
NORTH WESLEY DR.
operations,” Steelman wrote. To predict how the full year’s sales tax revenue might be aected, sta put together two scenarios. One features a 10%maximummonthly loss relative to budgeted sales tax revenue, and the other features a 15%maximummonthly loss. Both scenarios assume an economic bounce back beginning in July with sales tax revenue returning to near budgeted levels by the end of the scal year. The city will not know until July how the outbreak might aect prop- erty tax rates for 2021. NUMBERS TOKNOW is how much in sales tax revenue League City ocials expect to lose compared to what was budgeted. $254,059-$661,831
BY JAKE MAGEE
LEAGUE CITY While it is too early to tell how the coronavirus has aected League City’s sales tax revenue, the city’s second-largest revenue source, sta has put together loss projection scenarios that show the city could come up to $660,000 short of what was budgeted in September. League City’s sales tax revenue budget for scal year 2019-20, which began Oct. 1 and runs until the end of September, is $20.47 million. As of March, the city had secured $7.18 million in sales tax revenue from sales
PLEASE NOTE THAT COASTAL EYE ASSOCIATES REMAINS OPEN TO PROVIDE MEDICAL EYE CARE SERVICES TO THOSE IN NEED . We are exempt from the stay-at-home order and we are following all necessary precautions set forth by the CDC. CALL 281-488-7213 TO MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT.
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BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
RAPID RESPONSE As the coronavirus outbreak significantly alters life for Bay Area residents, business owners, community members, local governments, organizations and school districts are offering assistance.
MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES
“EVERYDAY IS SOMETHINGNEW, ANDWE FEEL LIKE WE’RE BUILDING THE AIRPLANEWHILE IT’S FLYING IN THE AIR,” CLEAR CREEK ISD SUPERINTENDENT GREG SMITH
PROBLEM: Families with both unemployed and essential workers are feeling the increased effects of depression and anxiety, experts said.
EDUCATION CHALLENGES PROBLEM: Distance learning presents many challenges for Clear Creek ISD students, particularly those without consistent access to meals at home: About 1 in 4 students participate in the free and reduced-cost lunch program.
RESPONSE: The League City Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted two mental health- focused webinars in April: • “Coping with Stress, Anxiety and Fear” on April 14 • “Taking Control of your Mental Health” on April 23.
RESPONSE: Since March 30, the district has been offering free lunch and breakfast pickup for multiple days at a time on Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. More than 80,000 meals have been served.
RESPONSE: CCISD will help its students build resilience when they return to school, Smith said: “The social and emotional wellbeing of our kids and staff is going to be [priority one] when we return.”
SOURCE: CLEAR CREEK ISD/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
SOURCE: LEAGUE CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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enveloped viruses, including COVID- 19, Gulash said. Gulash and two other partners own another construction company, for which residential construction also came to a halt. Not being able to provide five full-time employees and several subcontractors with work has been difficult, Gulash said. “This has obviously affected my family, but it has also affected the families of many who depend on me to give them work so they can pro- vide for their families as well,” Gulash wrote. “That weighs heavily on me every day.” At RapidWristbands.com, which is owned and operated in Clear Lake, the spring is usually peak business season with schools and event orga- nizers ordering custom wristbands. The business has since moved to remotely producing face shields and respirators. The shields are sold for $5.95 each, which Marketing Director Lorena Hernandez said is the lowest price they can be sold for given pro- duction and material costs. Printers have been running 24/7 with employees producing shields around the clock, Hernandez said. The business will continue making personal protective equipment after the coronavirus crisis subsides and plans to continue to add new PPE products as necessary.
some of the ones he worries for most. Once school does resume as nor- mal, the effects of the pandemic will not have subsided, he added; the trauma of the virus might mean some students are triggered by someone coughing or sneezing nearby. The dis- trict is planning to adjust accordingly when school starts, helping students build resilience so they are equipped to work through any difficulties. “The social and emotional well-be- ing of our kids and staff is going to be [priority one] when we return,” Smith said. Communities in Schools—Bay Area, a nonprofit that provides school drop- out prevention services to at-risk stu- dents in Clear Creek and Dickinson ISDs, has adapted its approaches to maintain connections withMcWhirter Elementary School students during distance learning, Student Support Specialist Lindsey Hoffman said. “CIS has made a commitment to not lose contact with its students,” Hoff- man wrote April 14. “The school clos- ing has allowed CIS to learn new ways to reach out to students and parents.” The organization has done so through a trial-and-error process: CIS first tried emailing and mailing infor- mation to parents about resources and support, but low response rates led them to switch to the platform itslearning. CCISD staff can create pages and post files, make links to websites, make announcements, and send both individual and mass
messages to students on itslearning, Hoffman said, so families can find all information from CIS in one place. CIS staff at McWhirter created a training presentation for other CCISD schools to learn how to start itslearn- ing courses for their campuses. Feed- back has shown the training has helped to reach students and parents that have not responded back through other communication efforts, Hoff- man said. So far, CIS has reached out to over 570 families. “These times are not easy, but CIS will be available to the students and parents of McWhirter, just like it always has been,” she wrote. Business owners fear future Despite the state beginning to reopen its economyMay 1, many small business owners feel a sense of uncer- tainty as they struggle to turn a profit, and some have even reinvented their business offerings to adjust. Talena Gulash, who owns Bio-Saf- etech in Webster, said in a Facebook message the residential side of the company’s construction business “came to a screeching halt.” The com- pany switched gears, buying enough disinfectant to treat more than 30 million square feet, and it is offer- ing cleaning services to businesses. Bio-Safetech uses an Environmental Protection Agency-registered, Cen- ters for Disease Control-approved disinfectant that specifically kills
With work, school and social activ- ities all restricted, residents have had to adapt their day-to-day activities as state and federal officials race to mit- igate the spread of the coronavirus. Amid the global crisis, Bay Area res- idents have found ways to continue supporting one another from a safe distance. Remote instruction adjustment CCISD Superintendent Greg Smith said Texas schools remaining closed for the rest of the academic year— which Gov. Greg Abbott announced April 17—is bittersweet. It provides a sense of certainty in terms of the facil- ities, but it also means distance learn- ing and its accompanying roadblocks will continue. “Every day is something new, and we feel likewe’re building the airplane while it’s flying in the air,” Smith said. Smith said the district is grappling with various logistical challenges, such as ensuring thousands of library books are returned and getting stu- dents the supplies left behind in desks and lockers. Moreover, it is a chal- lenge keeping every student engaged. Smith recalled a senior emailing him in mid-April, expressing fear he might not graduate. This stu- dent works at a local grocery store and said he virtually stopped doing schoolwork as the virus continued to spread. Students like him should not be held back because of today’s cir- cumstances, Smith said, and they are
“We knew the need was there, but we didn’t expect it to be this much,” Hernandez said. “PPE is a sister brand, COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
LOCAL BUSINESS CHALLENGES PROBLEM: Social distancing measures have forced some businesses to shift operations or close entirely, and many of those that remain open struggle to turn a profit, even though the state began to reopen its economy May 1.
funding assistance, Cupcake Cachet will not reopen. “Every dollar I have ever earned is tied up in this business,” she said. “We’re hopeful, definitely, but reality is starting to set in with me, and I’m pretty scared.” Mental healthchallenges As Bay Area residents adjust to social isolation and deal with the effects of the coronavirus, local mental health experts said anxiety and depression are prevalent among their patients. Attempting to work full-time and play a more teacher-like role in their children’s education is a stressor for many parents amid the pandemic, said Julia Poritz, a licensed psychologist at University of Texas Medical Branch Health. Families with an essential worker leaving the house every day are also struggling, as jobs that were not considered dangerous before now involve potential exposure to illness. Even people who were fairly sta- ble before the coronavirus outbreak are feeling increasingly anxious and depressed, she said. However, patients also tell her they are grateful for the increase in quality family time and are grateful to not be struggling alone. “There’s just that overall comforting
feeling that everyone is going through this shared experience together,” Poritz said. “I know that’s been a source of comfort for a lot of people.” Isolation can exacerbate mental and emotional health issues for many people and greatly increase the risk of substance abuse, said Randy Brazzel, the CEO of New Dimensions Day Treat- ment Centers. New Dimensions, which has various Houston-area locations, offers psychiatric substance abuse pro- grams for adults and adolescents. Many people develop addictions early on in life, so they may lack the necessary coping skills to properly nav- igate trauma, Brazzel said. Any event so overwhelming that it overrides one’s ability to cope—including a pandemic— can cause post-traumatic stress disor- der in a person, Brazzel said. To that end, he added that more challenges can be expected once normalcy returns and people try to go about their lives. Picking up the pieces of a traumatic event will be dif- ficult for many, he said. “We anticipate the impacts are going to be long-lasting,” Brazzel said.
RESPONSE: Harris County enacted a $10 million loan program for small- businesses owners, in which successful applicants can receive up to $25,000 from the Houston-Galveston Area Council.
RESPONSE: The Seabrook Economic Development Corp. is awarding $3,500 to $10,000 to businesses through the Seabrook Emergency Business Retention Incentive, with a total of $250,000 available.
RESPONSE: League City City Council on April 14 created an emergency turnaround task force to supplement Texas’ gradual reopening of businesses.
SOURCES: HARRIS COUNTY PRECINCT 2, LEAGUE CITY, SEABROOK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORP./COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
and she’s here to stay.” Cupcake Cachet owner Traci Dean said Valentine’s Day to graduation time is her business’s busy season, but the bakery has had to refund
many prepaid orders with event can- cellations. The bakery operated for a few weeks in March with restricted hours and eventually closed. Dean said without some kind of
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BAY AREA EDITION • MAY 2020
While everyone in our region is staying home to stay safe, you still need routine care. As always, UTMB is here to help. Our expert physicians and health care providers are ready to meet your needs. Safely and comfortably. • We offer televisits or can see you in person, whichever is most appropriate for your care. • When coming into our facilities, you’ll be screened for COVID-19 and you’ll receive a mask to wear. • And, our employees are being screened every day and wearing protective masks to keep you— and themselves—safe! As always, we at UTMB are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call our Access Center at (800) 917-8906 for an appointment. As always, your health and well-being are our top priority. Today, tomorrow and through the challenging days ahead.
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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
For three weeks, League City police responded to an average of over four calls related to stay-at-home violations per day. STEADY CLIMB
THE MOST CALLS RECEIVED IN ONE DAY WAS EIGHT ON APRIL 11.
New calls per day Total past calls
0 20 40 60 80 100
From March 24 through April 14, League City police responded to 94 calls of stay-at-home order violations. Total: 94 Parks: 35
Businesses: 28 Residences: 27 Schools: 4
SOURCE: LEAGUE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Looking ahead Mayor Pat Hallisey, who wanted to extend the ordinance beyond April 14, said even though police indicated the ordinance would not result in nes or arrests, it did what it set out to do: show residents the city was serious about the stay-at-home order. “What’s the purpose of a rule if you’re not gonna [enforce] it? To get people’s attention. I think we got their attention,” Hallisey said. “Citizens lis- tened. Citizens did their social distanc- ing, and we’re seeing the results.” Despite wanting the ordinance to last longer than it did, Hallisey said he andmany others in the city are ready to start getting back to normal. As they do so, League City ocials will be watching case counts closely. Hallisey trusts local restaurants will follow the governor’s order by not opening at more than 25%capacity, but the city will still be paying attention. “Dowe thinkwe’re gonna be policing the restaurants?” Hallisey said. “I think we’re gonna keep an eye on them.”
according to the records. Roman Iron Gym, 1261 Butler Road, League City, was reported to police as being open on March 29 and 30 and twice on April 1. During the nal response April 1, police found the gym’s owner, George Roman, alongwith four residents at the gym. An ocer told Roman this was the fourth call to the business and that they had to leave the gym, which they did, according to the reports. A gas station along FM 646 was also reported several times for allowing res- idents to use gambling machines. OnApril 9, police responded and told the clerk residents were not allowed to use them. The clerk had been warned the week before, and police said the next violation would result in a ne, according to a report. On April 11, police responded to the gas station for a third time for reports of residents using the gambling machines. An ocer spoke with the manager, who turned o themachines. Overall, Grith said the three weeks went pretty smoothly. City residents generally followed the order. “People encountered have been understanding and compliant,” he said.
35 total calls to parks police received related to violations of stay-at-home orders, according to the records. Police also responded to a number of reports of gatherings of 10 or more peo- ple at residences. In some cases, police had to ask residents to disperse. On March 27, police responded to a reported party of 20 people having a crawsh boil. Ocers told the home- owners about the city ordinance, and the homeowner then shut the party down, according to the reports. Other reports were exaggerated or unsubstantiated, according to reports. In several calls, residents reported seeing 15 to 20 or more gathering together, but police found far fewer. On March 29, at least two callers reported a church gathering on a lawn with residents hugging and shaking hands. When responding, police found 15 to 20 vehicles on a nearby street and groups of ve to six people walking through the neighborhood, according to a report. Business violations Businesses accounted for 28 of the 94 calls police received. Some were visited by police up to four times,
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Residential violations Of the 94 calls related to stay-at- home order violations to which police responded, 35 were to parks, 27 were to residences, and four were to schools, according to the records. On April 9, police were called with a report that people were playing soccer atWalter Hall Park. Police found at least 100 people at the park doing dierent activities, but theywereminding social distancing rules, so police did not act, according to a police report. After hearing about the large gather- ings at the park, Mayor Pat Hallisey on April 11 ordered all city parks to close indenitely. The order did not include Walter Hall Park, which is a county park in League City limits. Parks reopened after the council did not vote to extend the ordinance April 14. On April 12, Easter Sunday, police found the biggest gathering yet at the park. According to a report, police responded to a call at Walter Hall Park and found “hundreds of people,” but “most [were] at a safe distance.” In all, reports of people gathering at Walter Hall Park account for 11 of the
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