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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (July 24)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, July 24. 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.

5:35 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started. Councilmembers James Benham and John Nichols are absent. Benham is joining the meeting through a remote internet connection.

5:51 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:

  • AQHA Youth World Cup: This item is a resolution ratifying an event support contract with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brazos County Expo and the American Quarter Horse Association, and a joinder agreement with the CVB, for the 2014 AQHA Youth World Cup event earlier this month. The estimated incremental increase in tax revenue to the state from the event is $71,048, and the local match required to establish the Event Trust Fund is $11,368. The B/CS CVB will pay all expenses, including the local match for the trust fund, and will not approach the city for reimbursement of those funds.

6:29 p.m. 

Kyle Field Game Day Study

The council discussed recommendations to handle the game day increase in Texas A&M football attendance, including clearing traffic congestion faster, providing timely information to motorists, and increasing awareness of local dining, hotel and entertainment options.

In January, The Texas A&M University System contracted with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to conduct a study to develop a traffic management plan for game day football operations, including improvements in transit operations, signalization, traffic flow, pedestrian paths, and game day parking options.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

6:46 p.m.

Wildfire Assessment

The council was updated about areas of the city that are vulnerable to wildfires. The College Station Fire Department worked closely with the Texas A&M Forest Service to conduct the wildfire threat assessment.

The complete 201-page assessment starts on page 7 in tonight’s workshop agenda packet.

7:15 p.m.

2015 Bond Citizen Advisory Committee

The council discussed the creation and appointment of a citizen advisory committee for the 2015 bond election. Staff recommends the establishment of subcommittees covering parks, facilities and transportation. Other recommendations include limiting the committee’s size to no more than 23 people.

The council will come back with a resolution at a future meeting.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

7:15 p.m.

The workshop has been suspended. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

7:23 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:29 p.m.

Keep Brazos Beautiful Presentation

Representatives of Keep Brazos Beautiful announced to the council and Mayor Nancy Berry (center below) that Keep Texas Beautiful recently recognized KBB with the Governor’s Community Achievement Award of Excellence. The award was given for KBB’s work to preserve a clean and beautiful environment to be enjoyed now and by future generations. Also recognized for individual outstanding achievement was College Station Recycling Coordinator Heather Woolwine (third from left).

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7:33 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people signed up to speak during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

 7:34 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda:

  • An annual agreement for $54,820 with Texas A&M University for the Fitlife testing of College Station firefighters.
  • An exception to policy to allow Mrs. Joanna Butenko to construct sewer infrastructure necessary to connect her home to the city sewer system.
  • A bid award of $52,998 for the purchase of electrical substation equipment to Wesco Distribution ($23,898), and ratification of a purchase order issued to Alstom Grid for ($29,100).
  • An annual blanket purchase order of $60,000 with Heil of Texas for parts and repair services for city refuse trucks.
  • An interlocal agreement with the City of Bryan for landscape maintenance services on Health Science Center (HSC) Parkway between Turkey Creek Road and State Highway 47.
  • A change order of $8,550 to the contract with Gattis Engineering for the Nimitz Street Rehabilitation.
  • The proposed Community Development FY 2015 (PY 2014) Action Plan and Budget.
  • The semi-annual report on impact fees.
  • An annual price agreement not to exceed $783,000 with Brazos Paving for the purchase of cement stabilized base rock and Type D grade recycled crushed concrete base.
  • An amendment to the city’s traffic code on to remove parking along sections of Davidson Drive, Haverford Road, Kenyon Drive, Los Portales Drive and Claremont Drive in the University Heights development.
  • A $596,871 contract with JaCody, Inc., for an addition to the East District Maintenance Shop, and the rejection of a bid for the same project.
  • An event support contract with the CVB, Brazos County Expo and the American Quarter Horse Association, and a joinder agreement with the CVB, for the 2014 AQHA Youth World Cup event.
  • A real estate contract to authorize the purchase of an easement needed for the FM 2154 Sidewalk Improvements Project and public utilities.
  • Renewal of an annual award of $66,530.46 with Greenville Transformer Company for transformer repair and rebuild services.

7:49 p.m.

Sign Ordinance Changes

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved amendments to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to allow for larger fuel signs and address regulations for electronic reader boards.

The ordinance expands the area of fuel signage from 16 square feet to 24 square feet. It also allows the message on an electronic reader board to change every 15 minutes. The former ordinance allowed it to change every 24 hours. A new section was also created to provide standards for brightness, method for changing the message, ambient controls, and malfunctions.

A local businessman requested the changes, and other citizens voiced support at a May council meeting. Staff also held a stakeholder’s meeting in June to present the proposed changes and worked closely with representatives from the sign industry to assure the requirements were consistent with industry standards. The language for sign brightness and ambient lighting for reader boards was recommended by the International Sign Association and is used by a number of Texas cities.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:05 p.m.

Budget Amendment Enhances Code Enforcement

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a $224,489 amendment to the city’s FY14 budget that includes the addition of a staff assistant to Code Enforcement and elevates a part-time code enforcement officer to full-time. The staff assistant will provide administrative support that allows code enforcement officers to spend more time in the field enforcing city codes.

The largest part of the budget amendment is a $180,974 reimbursement to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2012, the council approved a funding agreement with EMBRACE Brazos Valley to provide $198,607.50 in federal HOME Investment Partnership Funds to construct two new single‐family homes that would be available for income eligible homebuyers.

EMBRACE was reimbursed $180,973.90 for lot acquisition and construction costs. However, staff identified a misuse of funds when EMBRACE used a reimbursement on another project outside of the city limits instead of repaying a line of credit at the bank. HUD will be repaid from the city’s general fund. City Manager Kelly Templin stressed that city staff was not at fault and is pursuing corrective action to resolve the issue. If the funds are reimbursed by EMBRACE, the money will go back into the general fund.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

 8:31 p.m. 

Certificate of Obligation  

The council unanimously authorized the issuance of up to $40.5 million in Texas Certificates of Obligation, Series 2014 to fund street, information technology, electric, debt issuance costs, and water and wastewater improvements. The issue will not affect the property tax rate or utility rates.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:31 p.m.

General Obligation Improvement and Re-funding Bonds 

The council unanimously authorized the issuance of up to $38 million in Texas General Obligation Improvement and Re-funding Bonds, Series 2014, to take advantage of lower interest rates. Refunding is issuing new debt to replace and pay off existing debt. The re-funding will save the city almost 10 percent – about $2.6 million — over the remaining life of the issues.

Approved by voters in the 2008 bond election, the debt issue will provide resources for street and transportation projects, traffic signals, pedestrian improvements, hike and bike trails, parks and park facilities improvements and the library expansion.

The bonds that will be re-funded are Utility System Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2005A ($3,425,000), Certificates of Obligation, Series 2006 ($4,225,000), General Obligation Bonds, Series 2006 ($4,285,000), and Utility System Revenue Bonds, Series 2006 ($10,750,000). The re-funding will not affect the property tax rate.

Related Link:

Moody’s Assigns AA2 Rating to City of College Station’s Bonds (July 24, 2014)

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:31 p.m.

The regular meeting was adjourned. The council will resume the workshop agenda.

8:40 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned. The council meets again Aug. 14.

What items caught your attention tonight? 

 

 

Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

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. Game Day Study: The council will hear a workshop presentation on the Kyle Field Game Day Study, including recommendations to handle increased attendance, clear congestion faster, provide timely information to motorists, and increase awareness of dining, hotel and entertainment options.
  2. Wildfire Assessment: The council will receive a workshop update on the Texas A&M Forest Service’s assessment of area wildfire threats.
  3. Sign Ordinance Revisions: After a public hearing, the council will consider revising the city’s sign ordinance to allow larger fuel signs and address regulations for electronic reader boards.
  4. Budget Amendment: After a public hearing, the council will consider amending the FY14 budget by $224,489, which includes additional code enforcement resources.
  5. Bond Issuance: The council will consider issuing up to $40.5 million in Certificates of Obligation and up to $38 million in General Obligation Improvement and Refunding Bonds. The COs would fund street, electric, water, wastewater and information technology improvements, and the refunding would save money on existing bonds by taking advantage of lower interest rates.

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:

Colin Killian
 
 
Colin Killian | Communications & Marketing Specialist
 
 

College Station will miss Humphreys’ experience, savvy

A part of CSFD's 1979 recruiting class, Bart Humphreys (second from right) is retiring Friday.

A part of CSFD’s 1979 recruiting class, Bart Humphreys (second from right) is retiring Friday.

The year was 1979.

The Pittsburgh Steelers broke my heart by beating the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, 35-31. Sugar Ray Leonard won his first world boxing title. And Tracy Austin became the youngest U.S. Open tennis champion at 16 years old — not much older than me, a fourth grader in Breckenridge, Texas.

That same year, Bart Humphreys began his career with the College Station Fire Department.

After more than 35 years of service to the citizens of College Station, Bart will retire on Friday. To put that in perspective, he served under six fire chiefs and seven mayors.

It’s hard to imagine CSFD without Bart.

I’ve known Bart for the better part of 20 years, and it’s easy to forget that this guy had already spent plenty of years performing EMS response and battling blazes in what then was a much smaller university town. But for the past 15 years, he’s been the official spokesman for the department, handling media requests at the scene of tragic accidents or fires that have at times attracted national attention.

Bart3Bart might best be remembered for the integral role he played during one of our community’s darkest hours. He had been the department’s spokesman for less than a year when Texas Aggie Bonfire collapsed during the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999. Twelve Aggies died and many others were injured, but Bart was a steady and reliable source of information for the national media and Aggies everywhere.

“If anything can be fortunate in that situation, it’s that (Texas A&M) took the lead on the public information,” Bart shared in his typically humble way as we recorded a recent podcast. “I played a part in that, talking about the rescue and recovery efforts, but I didn’t have to organize the press part of it — the media space, the press conferences and things like that. I was just part of it, talking about what we did as far as the rescue and recovery and that kind of stuff. That’s something I knew about that, so I felt confident talking about that and trying to express what was going on from that aspect. It was a big on-the-job training experience for me.”

Don’t be fooled: Bart has shared his experiences by training hundreds of emergency services and communications professionals since that tragic day, often pulling in news professionals who have grown to trust and rely on Bart to speak alongside him.

ShowImage[1]I’ve had the honor of working with Bart on both sides of this business — first as a news reporter who relied on him for information, then as a fellow communicator with the City of College Station, the City of Bryan or the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. I’ve learned an awful lot about crisis communications just by watching Bart: Stay calm, stick with facts, and if you don’t know an answer, find it in a hurry and get back with the reporter. Those are simple things that have to be done well.

While recording our podcast, I learned about the surreal experience of Bart’s first major fire; what it’s like to respond to a call involving someone you know; whether or not people still seek firefighting as a lifelong career; and if he thinks he can completely walk away from the profession that’s been so good to him for 35 years.

It was fun to listen as he reflected on a heck of a career, and if you click on the arrow at the end of this blog, you can hear him talk about it, too.

“I’ll still be around here,” he chuckled. “Maybe I can be the one who writes letters to the editor now.”

Jay Socol
 
 
Jay Socol
Director | Public Communications

Games of Texas to attract thousands to BCS

Games of Texas logoLet the Games begin!

The TAAF Games of Texas, that is. The multi-sport festival starts July 31 and runs through Aug. 4 at venues across Bryan-College Station.

What are the Games of Texas? Imagine a state version of the Olympics.

The festival is managed by the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation, the governing body for athletics and sports in the state’s parks and recreation world. For the next two summers, Texas A&M, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the cities of College Station and Bryan will host the event.

10,000 athletes in 14 sports

Hotel rooms are already fully booked, and local restaurants and stores can expect a virtual invasion of visitors for the four-day festival. We’re expecting close to 10,000 athletes to compete, cheered along by an entourage of up to 20,000 parents, relatives, friends, coaches, fans and volunteers.

Corpus Christi had the event in 2012-13 and reported an economic impact of more than $15 million.

With 14 different sports, activity will be spread across both cities and the A&M campus. Events include archery, baseball, bowling, boxing, disc golf, kickball, skateboarding, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, golf and lifeguarding.

If you’re interested in competing, you can still register online at TAAF.com. If you’d like to help out as a volunteer, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 979-764-3486 or parks@cstx.gov. As the title sponsor, the National Guard will have a significant presence with some 100 volunteers on hand.

Opening ceremonies will be Friday, Aug. 1 at Blue Bell Ballpark/Olsen Field. The parade of athletes begins at 7:30 p.m., and admission is free. We invite you to come out and welcome the thousands of visitors to Aggieland!

Sherry Mashburn
 
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CS named nation’s sixth most affordable college town

collegestation-300x200The impressive list of national accolades for College Station continues to grow.

Texas A&M today announced that Simple Dollar, an online publication that offers financial guidance, has named College Station as the sixth most affordable college town in the nation.

“It’s such a privilege to be home to a world-class university,” College Station Mayor Nancy Berry said. “Our low tax rate makes College Station highly attractive, but it’s really more than that. People are moving here for our public schools, healthcare, green spaces, new industry and, increasingly, to retire in the same place where they spent the best years of their lives — at Texas A&M.”

Here’s The Simple Dollar’s top 10 affordable college towns:

  1. Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee)
  2. Cookeville, Tenn. (Tennessee Tech)
  3. Conway, Ark. (Hendrix College)
  4. Cedar City, Utah (Southern Utah)
  5. Gainesville, Fla. (Florida)
  6. College Station, Texas (Texas A&M)
  7. Bloomington, Ind. (Indiana)
  8. Muncie, Ind. (Ball State)
  9. Kalamazoo, Mich. (Western Michigan)
  10. Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Alabama)

Here’s the link to A&M’s story:

Colin Killian
 
 
Colin Killian | Communications & Marketing Specialist
 
 

CS’s oral history project preserves veterans’ stories

veterans2

You probably know the City of College Station has a lot of its history preserved in the form of documents, maps and photos. But it may surprise you that we’ve also preserved our history by recording the stories of the people who lived it.

The city’s online historic database, Project HOLD, has a large collection of stories gathered through interviews with people who remember the city’s early days. The oral history collection focuses on the stories of our community’s veterans.

Included are interviews with World War II veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, flew bombers in the Pacific theatre and sailed on battleships in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, along with Korean War veterans who fought at the Chosin Reservoir and Vietnam veterans who were prisoners of war.

veterans1What’s missing from our collection are the stories of men and women who served in our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are a veteran of those campaigns, we’d love to document your stories.

While the project is primarily focused on veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, all local veterans are welcome to participate. The interviews will be recorded digitally, transcribed and deposited in Project HOLD. The interviews will build on our extensive oral history collection from the last 25 years that has preserved the histories of veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

If you’re interested in participating, contact me at heritageprogram@cstx.gov or 979-764-3491.

J
 
 
Jared Donnelly | Historic Records Coordinator
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