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CS primed for bright 2018 – but don’t take our word

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

No one is surprised these days when College Station gets ranked among the nation’s top college towns, as a great place for business, or as one of the best places to live.

The criteria publications and financial websites use to compile those rankings are usually based on data from the past year. The lists are usually divided into population categories, too.

A website called CardRates.com is different. This week it was bold enough to make predictions about what’s ahead by publishing a list of “10 cities Primed for Economic Growth and Opportunity in 2018.” It included cities as small as 5,178 people (Evansville, Wisc.) to as large as 947,897 (Austin).

By now, you’ve probably guessed that College Station made the list. Why else would we be blogging about it? But you may be surprised that we are ranked No. 1.

That’s right. CardRates says College Station’s economy could be as good as it gets in the entire country in 2018. In developing the list, CardRates took factors such as pay, cost of living and unemployment rates into consideration.

Here’s what they had to say about us:

College Station is located roughly equidistant from Houston and Austin. Although the city has seen a population increase of about 25 percent over the last 10 years, College Station, with fewer than 120,000 residents, is large enough to offer city amenities, while still being small enough to maintain that hometown feel.

College Station’s unemployment rate is well below the national average at 2.7 percent, the lowest among the cities on our list, and the median household income has grown more than 80 percent since 2000. The city’s largest employer is Texas A&M University, which has its main campus in College Station, and is nationally recognized as a Land-, Sea-, and Space-Grant Institution.

Here’s the full list:

We already knew we were doing pretty well, but it’s nice – and a bit exciting – to know others feel the same way.

 


About the Blogger

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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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Feb. 8)

(L-R): Bob Brick, Linda Harvell, Jerome Rektorik, Karl Mooney (mayor), John Nichols, Barry Moore, James Benham.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 8. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:43 p.m.

The workshop has started. 

5:44 p.m.

Gilman Appointed Interim City Manager

The council unanimously appointed Chuck Gilman as interim city manager, effective April 1. Gilman has been deputy city manager since 2014. Before that, Gilman served as the city’s public works director. He will fill the role vacated by Kelly Templin, who will leave at the end of March to become director of the RELLIS Campus for the Texas A&M University System.

6:10 p.m.

Texas Weekend of Remembrance

The council unanimously endorsed the Texas Weekend of Remembrance, a special event scheduled for Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27).

The event will be a time for military members, veterans, and their families to come together and honor the memory of their lost loved ones through camaraderie and commemoration of their sacrifice. The TWR could become a precursor to Memorial Day and restore its original intent by allowing everyone to show their pride and respect to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:16 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

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

  • Electric Switchgear: The not-to-exceed $539,000 bid award to Techline is for the annual purchase of pad-mounted 15 kV solid dielectric switchgear.
  • Southeast Park Design Project: The $1.22 million contract with Halff Associates is for design and construction phase services for the Southeast Park Project. The facility will ultimately include 8 ballfields with associated infrastructure and amenities. The contract provides construction services for Phase 1, which is proposed to include four ballfields. The overall project will be funded by $6 million in certificates of obligation and $4 million in hotel occupancy tax revenue. The debt for the project hasn’t been issued, but expenditure in advance of issuance was authorized by the council in November.

6:17 p.m.

Mayor Mooney suspended the workshop, which will resume after the regular meeting.

6:17 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:25 p.m.

CSHS State Championship Football Team

The council recognized College Station High School’s state champion football team. The Cougars began their 2017 season with a 1-2 record but won its remaining 13 games to finish the year at 14-2. The Cougars defeated Aledo High School, 20-19, in the 5A-Division II state championship game on Dec. 23 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The district opened the doors of College Station High School not six years ago and did not achieve full enrollment until the 2014-15 school year. 

6:30 p.m.

2-1-1 Day

The mayor, acting on behalf of the City of Bryan and Brazos County, proclaimed Feb. 11 as 2-1-1 Day. 2-1-1 Texas is a program of United Way of the Brazos Valley in partnership with the State of Texas Health and Human Service Commission.

6:32 p.m.

Shen Yun Performance Day

The mayor proclaimed Feb. 13 as Shen Yun Performance Day.

6:41 p.m.

Science and Technology LEGO League

The council heard a presentation from the Science and Technology LEGO League about a water conservation app. Pictured below with Mayor Mooney are members of H2Owls (l-r): Yura Song, Sami Mahapatra, Izzy Toth, Miriam Demlow, Bowen Tian and Claire Connally.

6:50 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Three people spoke as part of Hear Visitors when citizens address the council on items that don’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilman James Benham recognized Army Lt. Tim Cunningham as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 26-year-old College Station native died April 23, 2008, in a vehicle accident in Balad, Iraq.
  • Morgan Heien spoke against item 2f on tonight’s consent agenda, which would remove parking along one side of Oney Hervey Drive.
  • Larry Johnson spoke in favor of item 2f on tonight’s consent agenda, which would remove parking along one side of Oney Hervey Drive.

6:51 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A not-to-exceed bid award of $539,000 to Techline for the annual purchase of pad-mounted 15 kV solid dielectric switchgear.
  • A contract amendment for PGAL to use the Construction Manager-at-Risk project delivery method for the design of the new police headquarters.
  • A $109,060 bid award to Techline for materials related to transmission pole replacement.
  • An advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for voluntary local government contributions to transportation improvement projects with no required match for the FM 2818 Widening Project.
  • Removed parking on the west side of Oney Harvey Drive to the end of the road, on the east side from Holleman Drive to 140 feet down the east side of Oney Harvey Drive, on the north side of Southland Street to the end of the road, and from Wellborn Road to 125 feet down the south side of Southland Street.
  • A change order reducing reduction the contract with Larry Young Paving by $253,599.11 for the Royder Road Expansion Project.
  • A $1.22 million contract with Halff Associates for design and construction phase services for the Southeast Park Project.
  • An annual not-to-exceed $150,000 contract with All-Around Tree Service for landscaping and tree trimming and removal services.
  • The annual traffic contact report required by the state.

6:58 p.m.

Angry Elephant Conditional Use Permit

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to approve a conditional use permit for a bar called the Angry Elephant in an existing commercial space at 650 William D. Fitch Parkway, which is near the southwest corner of the intersection with Arrington Road. Councilman Barry Moore recused himself from the vote.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:16 p.m.

Comp Plan Amendment and Rezoning Criteria

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s Unified Development Ordinance regarding the criteria used in considering Comprehensive Plan amendments and rezonings. An earlier amendment to change some of the wording in the amendment also passed unanimously.

No criteria in the UDO assists applicants and guides decision makers in their consideration to amend the Comprehensive Plan. The questions asked of applicants are taken from guidance provided by the Comprehensive Plan to analyze amendment requests. While the amendment adds language to the UDO, it offers predictable expectations for applicants, and sound decision points to policymakers when considering changes to the city’s long-range plan.

The criteria in the UDO for rezonings have been criticized for being difficult to understand and confusing to apply. The amendment is intended to establish clear standards for rezoning with less redundancy.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:20 p.m.

Wolf Pen Creek Design District

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve criteria for administrative approval of site plans, buildings, and signs in the Wolf Pen Creek Design District. The changes are intended to streamline the development review process.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:


7:36 p.m.

FY18 Budget Amendment No. 1

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s FY18 budget by $3,079,541 and to increase the full-time employee count by two. A $54,000 inter-fund transfer was also included.

See pages 104-105 of the regular meeting packet for more details of the budget amendment.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:47 p.m.

Board and Committee Appointments

The council voted unanimously to make these appointments:

  • Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeal: Joseph Fix, Janet Kountakis, Bill Mather, James Sharp, Rachel Smith, Elianor Vessali (alternate).
  • Design Review Board: Ray Holliday.
  • Historic Preservation Committee: Gerald Blackmon, Gerald Burgner (chair), Shirley Dupriest, Helen Frisk, Louis Hodges, William Wright.
  • Joint Relief Funding Review Committee: Nancy Berry, Chace Murphy.
  • Zoning Board of Adjustments: Howard Mayne, James Sharp (alternate).

7:49 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

7:49 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the regular meeting. The workshop will resume after a short break.

7:59 p.m.

The workshop has resumed.

8:12 p.m.

Capital Improvement Plan Update

The council discussed the status of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, including projects recommended by the Citizen Advisory Committee.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:23 p.m.

Krenek Tap Overlay

The consensus of the council was to move forward with a city-initiated rezoning to remove the Krenek Tap Overlay zoning district. The concept of deleting the zoning district from the city’s Unified Development Ordinance requires the rezoning of properties under the overlay to remove its application.

The Krenek Tap Overlay zoning district was adopted in 2004 to enhance the views along Krenek Tap Road and create a sense of identity for the city, not only along the municipal property but along Krenek Tap Road. At the time, the city was pursuing a City Centre Concept for the development of the municipal property.

The overlay heightens the development standards for properties along Krenek Tap — including single-family — by requiring parking behind structures and limitations on façade and fence materials and roof and signage options. The overlay is applied to properties from the Krenek Tap right-of-way and back 750 feet in each direction.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:36 p.m.

Public Hearing Notifications

The council discussed community notification requirements and practices for cases involving a public hearing.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:46 p.m.

Non-Residential Landscaping Standards

The council discussed the city’s non-residential landscaping requirements, including streetscaping, buffer standards, and options for encouraging water conservation.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:49 p.m.

Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition

The consensus of the council was to provide a budget for a council representative to attend meetings of the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition. The estimated cost would be about $900, which includes airfare and hotel accommodations but not meals. 

8:53 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The council meets again on Thursday, Feb. 22.

 


About the Blogger

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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Celebrate love month with Trail of Lights, Date Night

By Margie Trame, Assistant Recreation Supervisor

Valentine’s Day is when we celebrate the things we love about those who matter most. While valentine’s cards, flowers, and chocolate are always a safe bet on the day of love, experiences are infinitely more valuable.

And why limit it to just one day?

Throughout February, Wolf Pen Creek Park’s upper trails are a romantic pathway of lights to help you extend the warm glow of Valentine’s Day. The Trail of Lights begins at the Holleman Drive entrance, crosses over the bridge, and ends at the gazebo next to the creek.

The lover’s lane of lights is open from 6-10 p.m. daily.

Join us on Valentine’s Day (Wednesday, Feb. 14) from 6-9 p.m for the free Trail of Lights Date Night. Enjoy live music, carriage rides, sweet treats, flowers, and the beautiful Trail of Lights with friends, family or your significant other.

Ditch the fancy dinner this year and picnic in the park. You may also bring refreshments, but glass containers are not allowed, and coolers must be 48 quarts or smaller. Satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate-dipped strawberries and indulge in desserts from local food trucks including Donut Darlin’, 1541 Pastries & Coffee, and Boots Beverages.

While admission and activities are free, the food truck prices will vary.

The carriage rides will be on the festival site, and all other activities and booths will be at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater. Parking is available at the Wolf Pen Creek parking lot on Colgate Drive, the Arts Council building on Dartmouth Street, and at Post Oak Mall.

Pets are welcome, too, so don’t forget about the furry friends you love.

 


About the Blogger

Assistant Recreation Supervisor Margie Trame (@choochootrame) is in her first year with the Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Arlington, she’s pursuing a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M.


 

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Burning incense, grilling can be hazardous if misused

By Christina Seidel, CSFD Community Risk Reduction Specialist

When I think about burn injuries, I picture searing my hand on a toaster or curling iron, but those types of burns account for only 8 percent of burn injuries. The most common burns – 46 percent – come from direct contact with fire.

Incense and barbecue grills are prime culprits, especially in College Station, where we have responded to several incidents in the last year. Since this is Burn Awareness Week, it’s an ideal time to review some basic safety tips.

Incense

People burn incense for the same reasons they burn candles – they are fragrant and can provide a calm and soothing atmosphere. But since enjoying incense requires burning it, you should always make safety a priority.

For example, you should place incense burners on heat-resistant surfaces and make sure that the burner is properly insulated. It’s also important to never leave burning incense unattended and to keep it away from combustibles.

In 2005, a horrific fire in Washington D.C. caused by incense resulted in the death of two sisters, who were burning incense near a sofa and houseplant when the items ignited. The flames and thick smoke apparently obscured their escape route, so they sought shelter in the bathroom, where they died of smoke inhalation.

It’s important to remember that burn injuries can happen from burning anything, no matter how small or insignificant. If you enjoy burning incense, it’s a good idea to observe these safety tips:

Barbecue Grills

The weather in College Station – the recent cold spell notwithstanding – is frequently ideal for outdoor grilling, no matter the season. In addition to keeping the grill 10 feet from your house, cleaning the grill regularly, and checking for gas leaks, you should also fully understand how to light and re-light your grill safely.

In 2013, ESPN anchor Hannah Storm suffered second-degree burn injuries to her face while re-lighting her grill. Watch this video to learn more about her story and to see how gas can build up and cause an explosion:

If you’re unsure about how to use anything that involves a flame, be sure to research it thoroughly beforehand. The College Station Fire Department offers several prevention and safety programs, including one on the proper use of fire extinguishers.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3712 or cseidel@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Community Risk Reduction Specialist Christina Seidel has been with the College Station Fire Department since 2013. She previously served as executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley and was a teacher for several years in her hometown of Lockhart. Seidel earned a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from the University of Texas in 2001.


 

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Photo Copyright: aruba2000/123RF Stock Photo

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 (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Capital Improvement Projects: In the workshop, the council will discuss the status of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, including projects recommended by the Citizen Advisory Committee.
  2. Public Hearing Notifications: The council will have a workshop discussion about community notification practices for rezoning and other cases that involve a public hearing.
  3. Non-Residential Landscaping Standards: Another workshop item is a review of recommendations regarding the city’s landscaping requirements, including streetscaping, buffer standards, and options to encourage water conservation.
  4. Southeast Park Design Contract: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $1.22 million contract for design and construction phase services related to Southeast Community Park on the south side of Rock Prairie Road near the old landfill. The project includes the development of eight ballfields with associated infrastructure and amenities.
  5. Conditional Use Permit on Fitch: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request for a conditional use permit for a bar in an existing commercial building west of the intersection of William D. Fitch Parkway and Arrington Road.

At the start of the regular meeting, the council will recognize College Station High School’s state champion football team.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 or online. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

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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Pay heed to warrant amnesty and save money, avoid jail

By Ed Spillane, Municipal Court Judge

Since the City of College Station began our warrant amnesty/warrant roundup program in 2007, we’ve cleared more than 6,000 warrants valued at over $2 million. The twice-yearly amnesty period has proven to be a win for defendants and our court because it’s provided a path for people to pay outstanding warrants and avoid jail.

The first warrant amnesty period of 2018 for the City of College Station and Brazos County starts Monday and runs through March 2. Last spring, we cleared 466 warrants valued at almost $180,000.

If you have an outstanding warrant, you can avoid paying a $50 per case warrant fee if you pay the fine in full. During the warrant roundup March 3-11, city marshals, police officers, reserve police officers, and constables will arrest those who haven’t paid their fines.

If you have an unpaid outstanding warrant, there’s a good chance you’ll be arrested.

Many cities do the roundup without offering amnesty, but we think the amnesty period is essential because you can make restitution, save a little money, and avoid jail time.

We’ve been a leader in encouraging other courts to participate, and now there is a statewide round-up in March. Our court has even been recognized by The Baltimore Sun as a national leader due to our amnesty program.

Do you have an outstanding warrant?

If the College Station Police Department issued your citation, you can check your warrant’s status at cstx.gov/warrants. You may also call the College Station Municipal Court at 979-764-3683.

No partial payment schedules will be allowed if you want to avoid the $50 fee. The City of College Station accepts cash, cashier’s check, credit cards, money orders, and personal checks. You may also pay your outstanding warrant through our online citation payment system.

If you have an outstanding warrant, I strongly encourage you to take care of it today. It’s a much better option than going to jail.

Related Link:

Podcast: Judge Spillane on warrant amnesty and toughest cases (Oct. 14, 2015)

 


20bec6fAbout the Blogger

Ed Spillane is president of the Texas Municipal Courts Association and has been the presiding judge of College Station’s Municipal Court since 2002. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1985 and earned his Doctor of Law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1992.


 

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