Latest

Severe Weather Week marks start of tornado season

 

Editor’s Note: Gov. Greg Abbott has proclaimed this as Severe Weather Awareness Week. This blog was originally published on April 30, 2014 under the headline “Tornado preparation is important – even in BCS.”

By Brian Hilton, Emergency Management Coordinator

The Bryan-College Station area has had its share of funnel clouds and tornado scares over the years, but we’ve managed to escape any loss of life or catastrophic damage. In fact, straight line winds and microbursts have caused more property damage here than twisters.

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock PhotoAlthough strong tornadoes are uncommon in our area, that doesn’t mean a deadly tornado couldn’t happen. And even small tornadoes have the potential to be violent.

Since 2000, Brazos County has experienced nine small tornadoes, with three rated F1 (wind speeds of 73-122 mph) on the Fujita scale and the rest F0 (under 73 mph). In December 2006, a F1 tornado moved south to north for five miles across central College Station and did considerable damage to an apartment complex on FM2818 and several businesses along Southwest Parkway and Texas Avenue. Three people suffered injuries.

The following video from 1990 shows an ominous tornado that briefly touched down near Easterwood Airport, forcing the evacuation of Olsen Field during a Texas A&M baseball game. Fortunately, it caused little more than raised heart rates and was later rated a F0:

 

Texas leads the nation with an average of 137 tornadoes each year. More than 60 percent of these storms occur from April to June. An outbreak of a dozen or more tornadoes in the Houston Area in November 1992 – which included a F4 in Channelview – shows that we are not immune.

Our near misses and the devastation of the tornadoes across the South last spring are vivid reminders of why it’s important to know how to prepare and react to a tornado.

These links provide in-depth information about what to do before, during and after a tornado:

National Weather Service videos:

Stay Informed

Bryan and College Station do not have outdoor tornado sirens. College Station voters defeated a proposition to fund sirens in the 1990 bond election.

When severe weather approaches, pay close attention to local radio and television stations. They do a great job of providing pertinent information, including tornado watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service, but tornadoes can occur even if a watch or warning has not been issued.

In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. If a violent storm approaches the Bryan-College Station area, these are the best ways to monitor events and get timely information:

 Recommended Mobile Apps

A number of useful mobile apps also are available for smartphones and tablets. Many of these also have emergency alert capabilities. Here are some recommended apps that you can find in your favorite app store:

Just because tornadoes have been rare in our area doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and well-prepared. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and we should always stand ready to handle whatever nature sends our way.

About Brian: Brian Hilton has been the City of College Station’s emergency management coordinator since 2003, when he retired as sergeant first class after 20 years in the United States Army. He also serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee for the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. Originally from Fort Wayne, Ind., Hilton attended Columbia College in Columbia, Mo.

Photo Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Feb. 26)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 26. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:30 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started. Councilman James Benham is absent tonight.

5:42 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. One item was pulled for workshop discussion:

CSISD Natatorium Reimbursement: Through an inter-local agreement, the city has agreed to share operating costs of the CSISD Natatorium with the College Station Independent School District. Each year, the entities submit their expenses and revenues for the natatorium, then the city determines the net operating costs and how much each one uses the facility. Typically, CSISD overpays its portion of the net cost, and the city reimburses the district through a true-up. The city’s payment of $61,739.92 reflects increased utility, supply and maintenance costs as well as increased revenue received by the city.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

6:05 p.m.

Recycling Program Update

The council received a presentation about the city’s recycling program and was updated on possible areas to expand the program. The recent implementation of a single-stream recycling pilot program in Emerald Forest and is being evaluated.

The Sanitation and Recycling Division serves about 22,000 single-family homes, 1,000 businesses and 17,000 apartment units.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

6:13 p.m.

Renaming of Raintree Park

The council heard a presentation about renaming Raintree Park as the Art and Myra Bright Park at the request of the Raintree neighborhood. The council will vote on the change as part of the consent agenda in tonight’s regular meeting.

The Brights built the first home in Raintree and have frequently donated their time and resources to several community organizations. Art Bright’s accomplishments include work with the school district, volunteer work with children, and serving as superintendent of about 25 Habitat of Humanity homes. Myra Bright also did work for the school district and Habitat for Humanity.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

6:59 p.m.

Automated Metering Infrastructure

The council heard a presentation on water and electric automated metering, which uses electronic meters with high-speed, two-way communication capabilities. Implementation of such a system would eliminate meter reading and manual service connection, but would require additional IT, communication and technical personnel.

The initial cost of an automated metering system is estimated at $11-14 million with ongoing costs of about $100,000-200,000 per year. To cover the costs, customers would likely pay an additional $2.50 per month for about six years. Staff recommended that a formal study be undertaken in 2017 to fully determine options, costs and benefits.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:07 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

 7:18 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. Cub Scout Pack 802 led the pledge of allegiance.

7:24 p.m.

Mayor Nancy Berry presented a proclamation to Cub Scout Pack 802 in recognition of its 78th birthday. The pack is the oldest in the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boys Scouts of America.

cs-scout1

 7:29 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda. Ben Roper recognized Army 1st Lt. Doyle M. Hufstedler as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 25-year-old Abilene native died in Habbaniyah, Iraq, on March 31, 2004 when an improvised explosive device hit an armored personnel carrier. As a student at Texas A&M, Hufstedler was a member of the Corps of Cadets.

7:30 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda:

  • Authorized the city attorney to condemn easements needed for the Bee Creek Sanitary Sewer Phase II project.
  • A severability clause, penalty and effective date to maintain drainage utility rates set in 2008.
  • A joint use agreement with the Wellborn Special Utility District for right-of-way and utility easements on Barron Road from Victoria Avenue to Wellborn Road.
  • An FY14 financial true-up of $61,739.92 to the College Station Independent School District for use of the CSISD Natatorium.
  • Levels and guidelines for donor recognition and naming rights for the Fun for All Playground.
  • Ratified an increase from $74,166 to $131,157.83 to the purchase order with Alfa Laval to overhaul the centrifuge at the Carter Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and an increase from $23,000 to $67,000 for rental of a belt press unit.
  • An all-way stop control at the intersection of Victoria Avenue and Eagle Avenue.
  • The annual traffic contact report as required by the state legislature.
  • A resolution supporting proposed legislation amending the state tax code to allow certain municipalities, including Bryan and College Station, to allocate hotel occupancy tax revenue for the construction and operation of city-owned parks and recreation facilities.
  • An agreement not to exceed $971,262 with Iteris for services, equipment and maintenance of hardware and software for implementation of the first year of the Intelligent Traffic System Master Plan.
  • Changed the name of Raintree Park to Art and Myra Bright Park.

7:34 p.m.

1834 Graham Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to change the zoning district boundaries from Rural to Suburban Commercial for about 1.06 acres and Natural Areas Protected for about 1.62 acres near the intersection of Graham Road and Longmire Drive to allow for development.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:41 p.m.

Cain Road Extension Removal

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to remove from the Thoroughfare and Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Master Plans the extension of Cain Road west of Holleman Drive South  to allow for development.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:47 p.m.

UDO Amendments

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 for an amendment to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to grant authority to the Planning and Zoning Commission to review and make recommendations on Municipal Utility District consent applications. The final decision regarding consent to form a MUD would rest with the council. The ordinance also removes the prohibition on granting waivers for the minimum lot size in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction if the lots are part of a council-approved MUD.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:47 p.m.

The regular meeting has been adjourned. The next regular meeting is March 12.

 

Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Communications Manager

gavel[1]The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:  

  1. Recycling Program Update: The council will receive a workshop update on the city’s recycling program and possible areas for expansion.
  2. Renaming of Raintree Park: The council will consider changing the name of Raintree Park to Art and Myra Bright Park at the request of the neighborhood.
  3. Automated Metering Infrastructure: The council will hear a workshop presentation on the benefits and challenges of implementing automated metering for the city’s water and electric services.
  4. CSISD Natatorium: The council will consider approving a $61,739.92 reimbursement to the College Station Independent School District for use of the CSISD natatorium for city programs and activities.
  5. Hotel Tax Legislation: The council will consider a resolution expressing support for proposed state legislation to expand the use of hotel occupancy tax funds for the construction and operations of city-owned parks and recreational facilities.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and also can be accessed through the city’s Facebook page.

Related links:                                                                 

 

See “How to Train Your Dragon” Saturday at Wolf Pen Creek

By Hallie Kutch, Recreation Assistant

“I bet you think you know a lot about dragons. Let me show you some of what you don’t know.”
–Valka, How to Train Your Dragon

how-to-train-your-dragon-poster-1Let the call of adventure draw you to explore and discover an evening of free, family fun at Movies in the Park on Saturday Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater. Add to the mood by dressing in your best Viking attire for a night dedicated to the Land of the Dragons.

The event starts with a look at the fascinating habits and behaviors of the unique creatures of the Franklin Animal Reptile Exhibit, followed by a Viking-style turkey leg eating contest. The fastest eater in each age group will receive a $20 gift card to Café Capri, Genare Italian Restaurant/Mr. G’s Pizza, Casa Rodriguez or Must Be Heaven Sandwiches.

These activities set the stage for the double-feature main event under the stars – the screening of the Academy Award-nominated feature “How to Train Your Dragon” and its sequel. You’ll watch the films on a 32-foot inflatable, high-definition screen, so don’t forget your blankets and chairs.

The free family-friendly event begins at 5 p.m. Concessions will be available for purchase, but guests are welcome to bring their own refreshments. Glass containers and alcohol are prohibited, and coolers must be 48 quarts or smaller.

Schedule

Upcoming Movies

For more information, visit cstx.gov/movies or call 979.764.3486.

“You see most places have mice or mosquitoes … we have …  dragons.”
– Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon

About Hallie: Hallie Kutch is in her first year as a recreation assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in December with a degree in sports management and a minor in tourism research management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.

Beautify, improve your neighborhood through city grants

 

By Barbara Moore, Neighborhood Services Coordinator

Since 1999, Neighborhood Services has helped strengthen and support College Station’s homeowner and neighborhood associations through a variety of programs and services, including gateway and neighborhood grants.

Neighborhood and homeowner associations registered through the city’s Neighborhood Partnership Program have long been able to apply for grant funding for entrance signs and other beautification projects. More recently, smaller, less expensive projects have become eligible, leading to the Strong and Sustainable Grant Program.


PODCAST: Barbara Moore discusses Strong & Sustainable Grant Program


These programs have brought a sense of identity, community and beautification to many of our neighborhoods. We’re proud to have played a role in a wide array of projects that have brought neighbors together and are still serving their purposes years later. The grant programs are even more vital today as our neighborhoods continue to grow.

Amazing Growth

When I became the city’s neighborhood services coordinator in 2007, 37 registered homeowner and neighborhood associations were functioning in College Station. Today, we have more than 90 registered associations that participate in Neighborhood Services activities.

That’s amazing growth in such a short period of time!

We’ve always had neighborhoods looking to fund worthwhile projects, even during leans years when grant funds were reduced because of tight budgets. These days, we’re focusing more on smaller, community-building projects and events.

6215006780_5f485136f7_oThis year, the College Station City Council increased grant funding and we hope to serve more neighborhoods and continue building a stronger sense of community throughout our city. Some of the projects we’ve funded through the years are entrance identification signage, community gardens, landscape beautification projects, National Night Out celebrations, neighborhood libraries and park benches.

Pre-Grant Application Meeting set for Thursday

Our ongoing partnership with neighborhoods helps build, strengthen and beautify our city. If you’re interested in applying for a grant for your neighborhood or learning more about the programs, we’re having a pre-grant application meeting Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers.

We’ll explain in detail program operations and guidelines and answer questions about eligible projects and the grant award processes. Grant applications and supporting documents will also be distributed. Associations must be registered with the city’s Neighborhood Partnership Program for at least one year before becoming eligible for these grants.

For additional information, please contact me at bmoore@cstx.gov or 979-764-6262.

About Barbara: Barbara Moore is in her eighth year as the city’s neighborhood services coordinator. She previously served as executive director of Family Outreach of Bryan/College Station and was director of faith-based relations for the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. Barbara is a 1992 graduate of Jackson State and earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington in 1996.

 

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Feb. 12)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 12. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:00 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:24 p.m.

Appraisal District Building

The Brazos Central Appraisal District gave a presentation about options for a new office building for the agency. The BCAD rescinded its earlier proposal to purchase 1.75 acres and construct a $3.8 million facility at the corner of Copperfield and Sagebriar Drive, just off University Drive.

Any proposal must be approved by three fourths of the taxing units entitled to vote on the appointment of board members. The original resolution was approved by College Station Independent School District, but turned down by Brazos County and the Bryan Independent School District. BCAD also rescinded the proposal before the Bryan City Council.

The current City of College Station allocation for BCAD is $271,494. 

6:28 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. These items were pulled for workshop discussion:

  • Swing Set Repair, Site Work at Bee Creek and Thomas Parks: After reviewing bids and scope of work, staff recommended rejecting all bids for budgetary reasons. Through initial research, staff had hoped renovation of existing park equipment would yield bids that would save money, but installation of new equipment has turned out to be more cost effective. The project has since been re-bid with the scope becoming replacement with new equipment.
  • Agreement with Brazos Valley Umpires Association: The contract is for officiating services for city-operated athletic leagues, programs and tournaments. The rates remain the same as the previous contract. Payment for umpire services is made to the BVUA prior to each season based on the scheduled games. The BVUA then pays individual umpires for actual games called. A “true up” is calculated at the end of each season to verify actual games called with the BVUA and the Parks and Recreation Department.

7:16 p.m.

Economic Development Mission Trip to Belgium

The Research Valley Partnership updated the council on the evolving economic development relationship with government and industry representatives from Belgium.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

Following the presentation, the council viewed a special KBTX-TV documentary that recapped the recent economic development mission trip to Belgium and the grand opening of the Texas Aggies Go to War exhibit in Bastogne.

7:26 p.m. 

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

7:34 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:40 p.m.

Tanya McNutt Recognition

Deputy City Secretary Tanya McNutt was recognized for her recent graduation from the Texas Municipal Clerks Certification Program. Graduates complete about 200 hours of individual study over a four-course curriculum and attend eight two-day seminars for an additional 100 hours of classroom study. Tanya has been with the City of College Station since 2008. Pictured below (l-r) are City Secretary Sherry Mashburn, Linda Smart (Tanya’s mother), McNutt, Mayor Nancy Berry and Morgan McNutt (Tanya’s daughter).

tm1 

7:47 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda. Ben Roper recognized Army Capt. Sean Sims as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 32-year-old El Paso native died in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 13, 2004 when his unit received small arms fire while clearing a building. Sims was a graduate of Texas A&M, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets.

7:48 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda:

  • The $64,370 purchase of 30,000 rounds of 5.56 mm 56 grain TSX ammunition ($32,370) and 80,000 rounds of Ruag .223 55 grain FMJ ammunition ($32,000) from Black Hills Ammunition Company.
  • The $71,728.22 purchase of training, simmunition, and on-duty ammunition from G.T. Distributors.
  • The second renewal of an annual agreement not to exceed $190,000 with the Brazos Valley Softball Umpires Association for officiating services for city athletic leagues, programs and tournaments.
  • Rejection of all bids for swing set repair and site work at Bee Creek and Thomas Park.
  • Separate contracts with Milsoft Utility Solutions ($132,450) and Partner Software ($26,000) for the purchase and installation of a Geographic Information System and a design and project management system.
  • Awarded a three-year, $1.28 million contract to All-Around Tree Service for electric system right-of-way clearing and tree trimming.
  • An annual price agreement of $80,000 with NAPA Auto Parts for the purchase of auto parts, shop equipment and services through the Purchasing Solutions Alliance contract.
  • Revised the city’s investment policy to allow the use of certain investments related to the city’s municipal utility.

7:50 p.m.

Easement Abandonment in Williams Creek

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved an ordinance abandoning a 4,324-square-foot public utility easement in the Williams Creek Subdivision to allow for development.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:52 p.m.

Easement Abandonment in Greens Prairie Center

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved an ordinance abandoning a 2,110-square-foot public utility easement in Greens Prairie Center to allow for development.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

8:10 p.m.

The Barracks II Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to approve the rezoning of several tracts of property between Old Wellborn Road and Holleman Drive South near The Barracks II Subdivision to allow for development. Councilwoman Julie Schultz recused herself from the vote.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

8:10 p.m.

The regular meeting has been adjourned. The next regular meeting is Feb. 26.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers