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Brave linemen are dedicated to keeping the power on

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

Since the invention of the Edison light bulb in 1879, electric linemen have been keeping the nation energized. More than 115,000 men and women install and maintain the nine million miles of electric grid that meet the nation’s power needs, including the 28 who serve at College Station Utilities.

That’s why the United States Congress and the City of College Station are recognizing today as National Lineman Appreciation Day (#ThankaLineman) as a way to honor the hard-working folks who protect public safety and energize our economy by keeping the power on.

Linemen are also a vital part of the first-responder community alongside police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. In most cases, other first responders can see their emergency issues, but electricity is invisible, which makes for an extremely hazardous environment during storms. While big events require all-hands-on-deck, most routine trouble calls are handled by two-person crews.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being an electric lineman ranked among the 10 most dangerous jobs. Unlike most occupations, linemen spend a large part of their working lives well above the ground maintaining electrical infrastructure. Our linemen work with voltages as high as 138,000 volts down to the standard 120-volt power in your home.

College Station Utilities is also committed to the construction of reliable, underground utilities. Our electric grid is about 56 percent underground, which requires our electric personnel to be knowledgeable in both overhead and underground systems.

Please join us in thanking the highly skilled and dedicated linemen who work all hours of the day, often in hazardous conditions, to keep your lights on.

 


About the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984. 


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 13)

Back (L-R): Linda Harvell, Jerome Rektorik, James Benham, Barry Moore. Front (L-R): Blanche Brick, Mayor Karl Mooney, Julie Schultz.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 13. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD) and online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:03 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:18 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

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

  • All-Way Stops on Southern Plantation: The ordinances would create all-way stops on Southern Plantation Drive at the intersections with Alexandria Avenue and Decatur Drive. Public Works evaluated these intersections because of safety concerns expressed by residents, and the Traffic Management Team recommended the changes.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

  • Lick Creek Hike & Bike Trail Change Order: The project consists of a five-mile hike and bike trail from Creek View Park to Lick Creek Park.The construction contract with Kieschnick General Contractors was awarded in May 2015. The change order reconciles bid quantities to actual construction quantities. A total of $3,860,000 is budgeted, and after this deductive change order is applied, total expenditures and encumbrances will be $3,563,796, leaving a balance of $296,204.

6:45 p.m.

CVB Update

The council received an update from the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, including its rebranding as Experience Bryan-College Station.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

The CVB also presented a video under development (no sound in this version):

7:14 p.m.

Capital Improvement Plan Update

The council received an update on the city’s capital improvement plan.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:14 p.m.

Mayor Karl Mooney suspended the workshop. The regular meeting will start after a short break. The council will complete the workshop agenda after the regular meeting.

7:21 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:33 p.m.

Sister Cities Music Week

The mayor proclaimed this week as Bryan College Station and Greifswald, Germany Sister Cities Music Week with a presentation to the Bryan-College Station Sister Cities Association and Greifswald’s Late Night Singers. The choral group performed, and Mayor Mooney read the proclamation in German. Last week, the group performed a series of concerts across the community. Here are a couple of photos:

7:46 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens can address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Richard Dabney spoke about the recent addition of LED street lights in his neighborhood and how the brighter lighting could be less intrusive.
  • Ben Roper recognized Army Chief Warrant Officer Wesley C. Fortenberry as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 38-year-old Woodville native died April 11, 2004, when his helicopter was shot down in Baghdad, Iraq.
  • Suzanne Droleskey spoke about protecting neighborhood integrity and returning the Unified Development Ordinance to its original meaning.

7:46 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A $131,794 contract with Consolidated Traffic Controls for a school zone flasher system upgrade.
  • The second renewal of a $653,264 annual blanket order with Techline for wire and cable.
  • An ordinance amending the city’s traffic code and adding an all-way stop at the intersection of Southern Plantation Drive and Alexandria Avenue.
  • An ordinance amending the city’s traffic code and adding an all-way stop at the intersection of Southern Plantation Drive and Decatur Drive.
  • Reduced a $3.1 million contract with Kieschnick General Contractors for the Lick Creek Hike & Bike Trail Project by $174,101.52.
  • The renewal of $952,946 in landscape maintenance contracts with Green Teams and Grassmasters.

7:53 p.m.

Summitt Crossing Park Rights-of-Way and Easements

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the establishment of public rights-of-way and easements in a small portion of Summit Crossing Park to allow the addition of a turning lane and associated utilities where Summit Crossing Lane intersects with Highway 30.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:59 p.m.

Lick Creek Park Water Line Corridor

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the establishment of a public utility corridor to run water lines and other public utilities across Lick Creek Park for the development of Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 1, also known as Southern Pointe. The route across city property and through the park is the only feasible route since the park lies directly between Southern Pointe and the water main on Pebble Creek Parkway.

The public utility corridor and temporary construction are not expected to have a negative impact on the park or its operations. Upon completion, the site will be restored to its original condition.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:02 p.m.

Northeast Sewer Trunk Line Easements

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the establishment of public utility easements in city-owned greenways south of Harvey Road and west of Carter’s Creek for Phase 1 of the Northeast Wastewater Trunk Line Project.

The easements will also provide for future greenways and park development and improvements such as water fountains, trails, and bathrooms. The easements are not expected to have a negative impact on the greenways.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:04 p.m.

Audit Committee Appointments

The council appointed Mike Ashfield and Nathan Sharp as non-voting members of the audit committee.

8:26 p.m.

Historic Preservation Committee Book Project

The council unanimously approved a motion by Councilwoman Blanche Brick to authorize the City Manager’s Office to oversee an update to a College Station history book published in 1988. The Historic Preservation Committee came up with the idea.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:30 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

8:30 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The workshop will resume.

8:43 p.m.

2017 Council Strategic Plan

The council reviewed its 2017 strategic plan.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:46 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The council meets again on Thursday, April 27.

Happy Easter!

 


About the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also been a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.



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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings


By
Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. CVB Update: In the workshop, the council will receive an update from the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  2. Capital Improvement Plan Update: The council will hear a workshop presentation about the city’s capital improvement plan.
  3. Strategic Plan Update: The council will have a workshop discussion about its 2017 City Council Strategic Plan.
  4. Sister Cities Music Week Presentation: The council will proclaim April 9-14 as Bryan-College Station and Greifswald, Germany, Sister Cities Music Week with a presentation to the B-CS Sister Cities Association and Greifswald’s Late Night Singers.
  5. Southern Plantation All-Way Stops: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider adding all-way stops at Southern Plantation’s intersections with Alexandria Drive and Decatur Drive. The stops would address safety concerns expressed by area residents.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 and 119 (HD), or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related links:                                                                 

 


About the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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Last May’s tornado showed we should be vigilant

By Brian Hilton, Emergency Management Coordinator

Last May, a tornado battered several neighborhoods along a two-mile path in Bryan, damaging more than 150 homes. No major injuries were reported, but the dangerous storm served as a wake-up call for the Bryan-College Station community.

Our 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.

Although strong tornadoes are uncommon in our area, that doesn’t mean a deadly tornado couldn’t happen. And as last May’s storm proved, even small twisters have the potential to be violent.

The National Weather Service rated the Bryan tornado as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds estimated at 110 miles per hour. Since 2000, Brazos County has experienced at least 10 small tornadoes, with four rated EF-1 (wind speeds of 86-110 mph) and the rest EF-0 (under 85 mph).

In December 2006, an EF-1 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.

An outbreak of a dozen or more tornadoes in the Houston Area in November 1992 — which included an EF-4 in Channelview — shows that we are not immune. Texas leads the nation with an average of 137 tornadoes each year.

More than 60 percent of these storms occur from April to June.

Our near misses and the devastation we saw in Louisiana earlier this month 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 an excellent 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

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

  • American Red Cross Tornado App (free)
  • FEMA (free)
  • NOAA Weather Radio ($3.99)
  • NOAA Radar Pro ($1.99)
  • iMap Weather Radio (free and paid versions)
  • MyWarn ($9.99)

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 comes our way.


About the Author

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. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Hilton attended Columbia College in Columbia, Mo.


 

Photo Copyright: solarseven/123RF Stock Photo

 

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Ready to help College Station win a national challenge?

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Is College Station one of the country’s most water-wise communities?

We think so, but we need your help to prove it.

Throughout April, College Station will participate in the Sixth Annual Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, a friendly, nationwide competition to determine what cities are the most water-wise. To win, cities must have the highest percentage of residents take the challenge.

College Station will compete in the 100,000-299,999 population category won last year by Ventura, Calif, which had 350 residents participate. In 2016, the event awarded prizes to nearly 1,000 residents in winning cities.

What’s in it for you, besides the pride of living in a nationally recognized water-wise community? Quite a bit, actually.

If you’ve entered the prize drawing and we finish at the top, you could win:

  • A new Toyota Prius (grand prize).
  • A $1,000 shopping spree at a home improvement store.
  • 50 Greening Your Cleaning Gift Baskets from Earth Friendly Products.
  • 50 Toro EVOLUTION® Series controllers (equipped w/ Smart Connect®, Weather Sensor, and additional 4-station module).
  • 50 Cree 6-pack dimmable (84 percent less energy) LED light bulbs.
  • 50 Avex Brazos Autoseal® water bottles (set of 2)
  • 25 EcoFlow® shower heads from Waterpik.

How to participate

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney challenges you to conserve water, energy and other natural resources through a series of informative, easy-to-use online pledges. Teachers and students are encouraged to take part in the Classroom Water Pledge Challenge to earn prizes for their school.

To participate, click on one of the following links from April 1-30 and take the pledge. Encourage your friends and neighbors to take it, too.

The pledge asks residents to take simple actions to save water, such as fixing leaky faucets, taking shorter showers, and using energy efficient appliances — because saving energy also saves water.

Presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, the campaign was created in 2011 to complement existing municipal water conservation programs, promote drought resiliency and healthy watersheds, and reduce stress on aging water infrastructure. In 2016, residents from 4,100 cities pledged to reduce water consumption by 1.9 billion gallons — enough to fill 2,877 Olympic-size swimming pools.

That’s a lot of water!

Related Links:

 


About the Author

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after serving two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and received a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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Podcast: Who says College Station has 109,857 residents?

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Senior Planner Jessica Bullock was born and raised in Boston, attended school in Philadelphia, and experienced an awakening that led her to become a city planner — a fascinating story.

Among Jessica’s responsibilities: Every month, she calculates College Station’s estimated population. How? And is she even qualified to do it? Jessica answered those questions and more in this edition of the podcast.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear the audio file from your system.

 

Podcast Archive


SocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his eighth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


 

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