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State honors BV WaterSmart for conservation impact

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

If you’re among the more than 500 College Station residents who’ve signed up to receive irrigation notices from Brazos Valley WaterSmart, you’ve seen the impact of the innovative program on your water bill. For those of us who keep an eye on our precious aquifers, the impact has been even more dramatic.

The program’s goal is to improve residential outdoor water use and reduce landscape overwatering, and it’s succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. When you consider our population has grown by about 30 percent since the 2010 Census, the results are downright astounding.

The water budgets it generates and other interventions such as our irrigation checkups have reduced the number of high-volume single-family residential consumers in College Station by nearly 50 percent.  Since the program’s inception in 2010, the cumulative reduction in water use in College Station is more than 630 million gallons of water. That’s about how much our community consumes in two full winter months.

The program has even had a positive effect on the efficient use of your tax dollars, trimming the City of College Station’s electric bill by at least $110,000 a year because of reduced pumping, treatment, and electricity needed for distribution.

It’s not surprising that others across the state have noticed our miracle on the Brazos.

Last week, Brazos Valley WaterSmart received the prestigious Blue Legacy Award from the Texas Water Development Board as part of “Texas Water Day at the Capitol” in Austin. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated an outstanding and innovative commitment to the state’s mission of promoting responsible management of water resources and the conservation of our water resources.

Brazos Valley WaterSmart is an educational and research partnership of Texas A&M University, the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District, and the City of College Station. That means a lot of outstanding people are behind this tremendous success story.

How BV WaterSmart Happened

Faculty, staff and graduate students from the A&M’s Water Management and Hydrological Science degree program, Texas AgriLife Research, and the Texas Center for Applied Technology worked with staff from the city and district to develop the program. Agriculture and Life Sciences Professor Ronald Kaiser is the director.

The research team found that about half of the water used in College Station and Bryan is for landscape, lawn, and outdoor purposes. They knew that helping the community find creative and innovative ways to be more efficient was the key to significant savings.

The six programs they created include weather stations, a website, personalized weekly watering notifications, residential water budgets, free residential irrigation system inspections, water conservation seminars, and public service announcements. Each program focuses on a different aspect of outdoor water usage to educate residents on ways to conserve.

To everyone involved — especially the environmental technicians who work on specifying, installing, and maintaining the weather stations and rain gauges that make up the weather-based watering recommendations — WAY TO GO!

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after 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 a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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Festive Easter egg hunts aren’t just for kids anymore

By Virginia Godwin, Recreation Supervisor

When I was a kid, a typical Easter Sunday featured an Easter egg hunt after church and a feast with family and friends. As an adult, I may seem satisfied to watch the annual egg hunts from the sidelines, but in reality, I regret missing out on the fun.

I’m still a kid at heart.

If you feel the same way, I have some great news — adult Easter egg hunts are a real thing!

The City of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department has revamped our traditional egg hunt and created one just for grown-ups 18 years and older — and it’s even glow-in-the-dark.

We invite you to join us on Friday, April 12 from 7-10 p.m. for the Glow-in-the-Dark Egg Hunt at Wolf Pen Creek Park. The nostalgic atmosphere will help you relive your fond childhood memories with tunes from the 80s, 90s, and 00s to awake the adolescent in you.

We’ll have games, joy jumps, and face painting with a touch of the trending selfie booth to document your experience. The egg hunt begins at 9 p.m.

Last year, the parks staff wasn’t sure about what to expect as we strategically hid 10,000 eggs. Our worst-case scenario was if 1,000 attendees showed up, they’d each get 10 eggs. We didn’t realize more than 2,000 adult residents had so sorely missed the Easter egg hunts of the childhood.

We never dreamed we’d have that level of participation for a first-time event.

We planned to hide the eggs throughout the park to spread out the savage hunters. For the most part, the strategy fell flat, but the feedback we received helped us to evaluate and analyze the event effectively. We went back to the drawing board.

This year’s egg hunt will be different.

We have doubled our inventory to 20,000 eggs, which include 20 golden eggs that contain prizes from local businesses. In addition, the entire hunt will be on the Festival Site near the old Arts Council building. Our staff of egg protectors will make sure sneaky hunters don’t pilfer any eggs before the hunt begins!

For the safety and enjoyment of our participants, these two simple rules will be in place:

  • Stay out of the hunt zone until the coordinators officially start the hunt.
  • Keep your hands, feet, and body to yourself. Hitting, kicking, tripping, pushing, body slamming or other forms of physical harm to others will not be tolerated.

Don’t miss out on all the mad fun. It’ll be all that and a bag of chips!

For more information, visit cstx.gov/events or call 979-764-3486.

 


About the Blogger

Virginia Godwin is in her fifth year as recreation supervisor. A College Station native, she previously served as the staff development specialist for Kids’ Klub, the College Station Independent School District’s after-school program.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (March 14)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, March 14. 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.

5:23 p.m.

The workshop has started. The council took no action out of the executive session.

5:36 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:

  • Carter, Thomas Park Improvements: The $177,000 contract cover sidewalk repairs at Richard Carter Park and new shelter roofs at Carter and Thomas Parks.
  • Fleet Management System: The $128,000 contract with FASTER Asset Solutions is for a fleet management system for Public Works. The department’s existing system is nearing the end of its service life.
  • Fiber Optic Lease Agreement: This item is the second amendment to the original lease with to the CEO Etc. and will add an additional 2.44 fiber strand miles.
  • Crow Memorial Parkway: The resolution would support Rep. John Raney’s efforts to designate part of Texas Avenue between Villa Maria Road in Bryan and Krenek Tap Road in College Station as the Carolyn and John David Crow Memorial Parkway. It is a designation, not a renaming so addresses along the route will not change. Crow won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player in 1957. 
  • FY19 Fee Resolution: The resolution updates the fees, rates, and charges for Planning and Development Services, which are indexed to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, as well as certain Parks and Recreation fees for services that will occur this fiscal year.
  • Mutual Termination of ILA with CSISD: Since the city no longer plans to construct a fire station at the location anticipated in the 2010 inter-local agreement — and the school district wants to use the land for other uses — the parties have mutually agreed to terminate the ILA.

5:46 p.m.

Annual Audit Reports and CAFR

The council unanimously accepted the city’s annual independent audit reports and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the FY18 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:20 p.m.

Parkland Dedication Audit Report

The council reviewed the city internal auditor’s Parkland Dedication Report.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:23 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

6:31 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:36 p.m.

Legion Fields

Mayor Mooney presented a proclamation to the American Legion recognizing Legion Fields as the official name of a group of fields at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex. Members of the local American Legion joined the mayor for the presentation (below).

6:40 p.m.

Fix a Leak Week

The mayor proclaimed March 18-24 as Fix a Leak Week as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s water conservation efforts. Joining the mayor was Water Resource Coordinator Jennifer Nations (below).

6:55 p.m.

Hear Visitors

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

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Army Sgt. Maj. Julio C. Ordonez as part of The American Fallen Soldiers Project. The 54-year-old San Antonio native died with six others in a helicopter crash on Sept. 17, 2008, near Tallil, Iraq.
  • Jim Elmquist asked the city to seek opinions from outside experts about the leakage problems at Thomas Pool.
  • Fred Dupriest encouraged city leadership to listen to neighborhoods that want to change development rules.
  • Mary Hirsch spoke against designating part of Texas Avenue the Carolyn and John David Crow Memorial Parkway.

7:01 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve these consent agenda items:

  • A $177,000 contract with Jamail and Smith Construction for improvements to Richard Carter Park and Thomas Park.
  • A $128,000 contract with FASTER Asset Solutions for a fleet management system for the Public Works Department.
  • The second amendment to the lease agreement with CEO Etc. for the lease of city fiber optic cable facilities.
  • An update to the fees, rates, and charges in the city’s Code of Ordinances.
  • An amendment to the city’s Code of Ordinances related to plumbing fees.
  • The mutual termination of an inter-local agreement with the College Station Independent School District regarding land that will no longer be used for a future fire station.

The council voted 6-1 to postpone until April 11 action supporting state legislation that would designate part of Texas Avenue as the Carolyn and John David Crow Memorial Parkway. Mayor Mooney voted against the motion.

7:13 p.m.

Fee in Lieu of Sidewalk Construction

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a change in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to streamline the approval of sidewalk fees in lieu of construction in the platting process.

The change means the administrator will approve the requests instead of the Planning and Zoning Commission and will allow preliminary plans to be approved faster.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:27 p.m.

Bald Prairie Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural to General Suburban for about 1.5 acres between Victoria Avenue and Renee Lane near Barron Road. The change allows the development of two single-family residential lots.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:55 p.m.

Boomtown Barbeque

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the Planned Development District on a half-acre at 3125 Texas Avenue South near Deacon Drive to allow the development of a drive-thru Boomtown Barbeque restaurant. The property is located northwest of the existing Burger King.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:00 p.m.

Lick Creek Public Utility Corridors

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to authorize the establishment of public utility corridors for the Lick Creek Wastewater Trunk Line Project in certain parkland sections located south of Fitch Parkway, east of Pebble Creek Parkway and west of Rock Prairie Road. The action allows the city to build a 48-inch and 54-inch sanitary sewer trunk line from Fitch to the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:04 p.m.

Concrete, Curb, Gutter and Flatwork Contract

The council voted unanimously to approve a contract not to exceed $2.9 million with Larry Young Paving for annual concrete curb, gutter, and flatwork installation to maintain city infrastructure.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:07 p.m.

After the council discussed and reviewed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, March 28.

 


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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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. Annual Audits and CAFR: In the workshop, the council will receiving the annual audit reports and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the FY18 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
  2. Parkland Dedication Audit: Another workshop item is a review of the city internal auditor’s Parkland Dedication Report.
  3. Carter, Thomas Park Improvements: The consent agenda includes a $177,000 contract for sidewalk repairs at Richard Carter Park and new shelter roofs at Carter and Thomas Parks.
  4. Crow Memorial Parkway: A consent agenda resolution would support Rep. John Raney’s efforts to designate part of Texas Avenue between Villa Maria Road in Bryan and Krenek Tap Road in College Station as the Carolyn and John David Crow Memorial Parkway. Crow won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player in 1957.
  5. Boomtown Barbeque Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider amending the Planned Development District on a half-acre at 3125 Texas Avenue South near Deacon Drive to allow the development of a drive-thru Boomtown Barbeque restaurant. The property is located north of the existing Burger King.

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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Sunday’s Monarch March marks spring migration

UPDATE (3/2): Because of Sunday’s forecast of cold weather, Monarch March has been rescheduled for next Sunday (March 10) from 1-4 p.m.

By Hallie Hutchins, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

Hello spring, hello monarchs!

The brilliant orange-and-black monarchs are among the most recognizable butterflies that call the Americas home. Texas is fortunate to be among the first states to witness the monarchs’ spring pilgrimage back to their northern homeland.

The Lone Star State and the Brazos Valley are situated between the monarchs’ primary breeding grounds in the north and their wintering areas in the south. That means we get to witness the mesmerizing migration in the spring and fall.

To commemorate the butterflies’ spring journey, the College Station Parks & Recreation Department will host Monarch March on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at Lick Creek Nature Center. Admission is free.

Monarch March is a fitting tribute to the winged creatures that graze our landscape each spring. The day will be full of interactive and educational activities with the help of community organizations such as Brazos County Master Gardeners, Brazos Valley Master Naturalists, Texas A&M Entomology Department, Urban Interface, A&M Garden Club, and Butterflies in the Brazos.

Experts from these groups will host a booth that instills an appreciation for wildlife through fun, educational activities. Events will include a march through Lick Creek Park’s premier monarch waystation, butterfly arts and crafts, learning about butterfly wings, a migration obstacle course, how to create a waystation or butterfly garden, and much more.

Monarch March celebrates this fascinating time of year while spreading the word about the importance of creating habitats to support these beautiful winged creatures.

Join us as we welcome the iconic black and orange butterflies back into Aggieland!

For more information, visit cstx.gov/monarchs or call 979-764-6216.


About the Blogger

Hallie Hutchins is in her fourth year as a marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports 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.


 

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Live Blog: Monday’s city council meetings (Feb. 25)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Monday, Feb. 25. 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.

5:46 p.m.

The workshop has started. The council took no action out of the executive session. Read the rest of this page »