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Major changes underway at popular Lick Creek Park

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By Hallie Kutch, Parks & Recreation Marketing Staff Assistant

For almost 30 years, if you wanted a quick escape from the busy sounds of our growing community, you probably headed for the peaceful solitude of Lick Creek Park, the area’s premier nature preserve. If you’ve been there in recent months, your search for serenity may have been interrupted by the sounds of hammers and bulldozers.

But don’t worry, it’s only temporary — and the results will be worth it.

The 515-acre park on East Rock Prairie Road is undergoing extensive improvements, including the construction of a long-awaited nature center.

Established in 1987 as part of land negotiations to create a city industrial area, Lick Creek Park displays a variety of native plant and animal species, including the endangered Navasota Ladies Tresses. The park offers five miles of marked trails and provides opportunities for hiking, cycling, bird watching, equestrian activities, and nature study.

lick-creek-walkingdogsIt’s also the city’s largest off-leash dog park.

Lick Creek Nature Center

In the 2008 bond election, residents overwhelmingly approved the $2.1 million Lick Creek Park Nature Center. The design was approved in 2014, but construction was delayed until an adequate water line could be installed for fire protection. Torrential rains last spring and summer caused additional delays.

Thankfully, the nature center’s construction and other improvements in the park are underway and are expected to be finished by May.

The nature center will soon be the park’s focal point and will provide citizens and visitors an educational opportunity to learn about the animals and plants that call the park home. Features include a 2,400-square foot building with a meeting room, restrooms, indoor and outdoor classrooms, an amphitheater and native plant displays.

Other Improvements

As a part of the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge to help save the threatened butterfly population, the park will include a monarch-friendly demonstration garden and a butterfly trail with abundant milkweed — the butterfly’s host plant — and other nectar-producing plants. The site will be a prime spot to watch the monarchs’ annual migration and metamorphosis.

The rerouting of trails will improve the flow and create a major pathway that connects the nature center to the park’s west entrance at Pebble Creek Parkway, which is the trailhead for the Lick Creek Hike and Bike Trail that winds more than five miles across town to Creek View Park.

lickcreek2Trail surfaces also will be upgraded, and new signage and maps will guide visitors through the trail system.

Meanwhile, informational signage throughout the park will identify trees, plants, birds, insects, butterflies, and wildlife. Benches along trails and at each trail intersection will allow visitors to pause and enjoy the park’s beautiful scenery.

Bicycle racks will also be accessible at the four major entry ways.

Don’t wait to enjoy Lick Creek Park

Although the improvements won’t be finished until the spring, the park remains open. You can still enjoy the park’s natural design, but be cautious and obey signs noting construction and closed areas.

Portions of the park that are closed include the Rock Prairie Road entrance and parking lot, Yaupon Loop Trail, and part of Post Oak Trail. Parking is available in the equestrian lot off Rock Prairie Road northwest of the main entrance.

The improvements and amenities will enhance one of College Station’s favorite recreational areas and make it more accessible – and enjoyable — for young and old alike.

For more on College Station’s park system, go to cstx.gov/parks.


312d2ecAbout the Author

Hallie Kutch is in her second year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 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.


 

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Live Blog: Monday’s city council meetings (Nov. 21)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Monday, Nov. 21. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is also available on the website.

6:00 p.m.

The workshop has started. Councilwoman Julie Schultz is absent tonight.

6:02 p.m.

Canvassing of Election Returns

The council canvassed the Nov. 8 election returns and declared the results. Karl Mooney is elected mayor and Jerome Rektorik, Linda Harvell and Barry Moore are elected to the city council.

6:07 p.m.

Oaths of Office for New Mayor, Council Members

Karl Mooney took the oath of office as College Station’s 15th mayor and Barry Moore, Jerome Rektorik and Linda Harvell were sworn in as council members. We’ll post photos here later.

6:28 p.m.

Welcome and Farewell

A short reception welcomed the new council members and bid thanks and farewell to outgoing Mayor Nancy Berry and Councilmen Steve Aldrich and John Nichols. New Mayor Karl Mooney proclaimed today “Nancy Berry Day” in honor of her 6 1/2 years in office. We’ll post photos here later.

The meeting will resume shortly.

6:56 p.m.

The workshop will resume.

6:59 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:

  • School Resource Officers: The inter-local agreement establishes the Police Department’s intent to provide school resource officer services to the College Station Independent School District through the end of the 2016-17 school year.

7:03 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items, and committee reports. 

7:03 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:10 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people 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 Sgt. Gerardo Moreno as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 20-year-old Orange native died April 5, 2004, from injuries received from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
  • Christopher Gold asked the council to provide adequate funding for the city’s greenways and to improve accessibility to pathways.

7:11 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A $530,177 contract with Halff Associates for engineering services related to the Capstone & Barron Alignment project.
  • An inter-local agreement with the College Station Independent School District regarding school resource officers.
  • Renewal of an annual one-year contract estimated at $900,000 with Brenco Marketing Corporation for gasoline and diesel fuel.
  • A $580,400 contract for replacement screw lift pumps at the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • A contract not to exceed $907,200 with Brazos Paving for concrete curb, gutter and flatwork installation.
  • A license agreement with Pitman Custom Homes allowing a small encroachment into a public utility easement in the Creek Meadows Subdivision.

Item 2d was pulled from tonight’s consent agenda and will return at a later date. It was a $203,469 contract for sidewalk improvements along Eisenhower Street, Live Oak Street, Cross Street, and San Saba Drive.

7:27 p.m.

Comp Plan, UDO review

After a public hearing, the council accepted the annual review of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance. The review is part of a continuing effort to keep the documents current and relevant.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:29 p.m.

Caprock Crossing Easement Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the abandonment of a 0.76-acre portion of a 50-foot wide public access easement near Old Arrington Road in the Caprock Crossing area. The abandonment allows future development of the property.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:39 p.m.

Committee Appointments

Ty Elliott, Internal Auditor, provided information on a proposed change to the Audit Committee. The council voted 6-0 to change the make-up of the committee to include three councilmembers and two accounting or audit professionals as non-voting members.  

Here’s his PowerPoint presentation:

7:40 p.m.

The council has gone into executive session.

8:25 p.m.

After the executive session, the council made the following committee appointments:

  • Brazos Valley CEOC Policy Advisory Board: Karl Mooney
  • BVCOG Board of Directors: Karl Mooney
  • BVCOG Intergovernmental Committee: Karl Mooney, Blanche Brick
  • BVSWMA: John Nichols, Karl Mooney, Richard Floyd
  • BVWACS: James Benham
  • Brazos Valley MPO: Karl Mooney, Blanche Brick
  • Regional Transportation Committee for Council of Governments: Blanche Brick
  • Research Valley Partnership: Karl Mooney, Julie Schultz, Jim Jett

Internal Committees:

  • Audit: Jerome Rektorik, Linda Harvell, Karl Mooney (chair)
  • Budget and Finance: Karl Mooney, Barry Moore, James Benham
  • Compensation and Benefits: Jerome Rektorik, Blanche Brick, Karl Mooney
  • Economic Development: Karl Mooney, James Benham, Julie Schultz
  • Transportation and Mobility: Karl Mooney, Linda Harvell, Blanche Brick (chair)

8:29 p.m.

Mayor Pro Tem Vote Delayed

The council decided to delay the election of a mayor pro tempore until Councilwoman Julie Schultz returns for the next meeting. The mayor pro tem acts as mayor during the mayor’s disability or absence.

8:29 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, Dec. 8.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


14316755_10108798313965164_2904942172107966680_nAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 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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Podcast: Mayor Berry reflects on her time in office

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

If you live in College Station and pay even a little attention to local government, then you know we have people leaving our city council to make room for the newly elected members.

One of those we’re saying farewell to is Mayor Nancy Berry, who held that office for more than six years before reaching her term limit. But before she gets to work as a Brazos County Commissioner, we wanted Nancy to reflect on her time as College Station’s mayor, including her strongest memories, proudest moments, and even the things she didn’t quite get to before time ran out.

The interview comes in two parts. In Part 1, she talks about her time on the College Station City Council before she became mayor — that was in the mid-2000s — and then her first term as mayor, which was 2010-2013. In Part 2, Mayor Berry talked about the highlights of her second and final term, which spanned 2013-2016.

PART 1

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

 

PART 2

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear to 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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5 things to watch at Monday’s city council meetings

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

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

  1. Canvassing of Election Returns: In the workshop, the council will canvass the Nov. 8 election returns and declare the results.
  2. Oaths of Office for New Mayor, Council Members: Karl Mooney will take the oath of office as College Station’s 15th mayor and Barry Moore, Jerome Rektorik and Linda Harvell will be sworn in as council members. A short reception will follow the ceremony to welcome the new members and to bid thanks and farewell to Councilmen Steve Aldrich and John Nichols, and Mayor Nancy Berry. The public is invited.
  3. Capstone-Barron Realignment: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $530,000 contract for engineering services related to the realignment of Capstone Drive and Barron Road. The roads will be realigned to intersect at the same junction at Wellborn Road.
  4. Neighborhood Sidewalks: Also on the consent agenda is a $203,000 contract for sidewalks on the west side of Eisenhower Street, the south side of Live Oak Street, the north side of San Saba Drive, and an ADA accessible sidewalk on the south side of Cross Street. The projects will be funded by federal Community Development Block Grants.
  5. Comp Plan, UDO Review: After a public hearing, the council will review the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance. The review is part of a continuing effort to keep the documents current and relevant.

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

Related links:                                                                 

 


14316755_10108798313965164_2904942172107966680_nAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 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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Christmas in the Park: an event like no other

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By Gerry Logan, Special Events Supervisor

In 2015, one of College Station’s most popular traditions – Christmas in the Park — returned to its original home at Stephen C. Beachy Central Park after several years at Wolf Pen Creek Park. Perfect weather cleared the way for more than 15,000 guests to celebrate the event’s successful homecoming.

Scheduled for Dec. 2-4 (Friday-Sunday), this year’s Christmas in the Park promises to be even better with an expanded festival day, a mobile stage and a full slate of family-friendly activities. You can also enjoy the usual free hot cocoa and cookies, pictures with Santa, hayrides, and much more.

Event hours are 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Sunday and noon-10 p.m. on Saturday’s festival day, an hour longer than last year. Festival day will feature a vendor village stocked with tons of great Christmas gifts, two snow slides, bounce houses, food, and pictures with Disney and Christmas characters. You will also enjoy the ever-popular performances by local song and dance groups on our new mobile stage.

We encourage you to arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to park and get to the event site. For your convenience, we’ll have a shuttle available from the Municipal Court lots just down the street at 300 Krenek Tap Rd.

If you can’t make it out for the Christmas in the Park activities, you won’t want to miss driving or walking through the park to enjoy the more than 1 million beautiful lights that are always the main attraction.  We’ll turn the lights on at Thanksgiving and display them nightly from 6-11 p.m. through New Year’s Day.

Christmas in the Park can help make a lifetime of memories for you and your family.

For more information and a full parking map, go to cstx.gov/christmas or call 979.764.3486.

 


aaeaaqaaaaaaaajnaaaajdyxm2qzndbjlwywnjitngexny1intziltkznmvkmduwzgvkmgAbout the Author

Gerry Logan (@GL_sportsguy) is in his fourth year with the Parks & Recreation Department and has served as special events supervisor since 2014. He was previously the sports coordinator for the City of Clinton (Miss.) for three years. A native of Pontotoc, Miss., Gerry is a graduate student at Texas A&M after earning a degree in parks & recreation management from the University of Mississippi in 2010.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Nov. 10)

2014 Council

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Nov. 10. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:46 p.m.

The workshop has started. Councilwoman Julie Schultz announced the following action taken in executive session:

“I move that the city manager is hereby authorized to settle the claim brought by Kathleen M. Ritch, individually and on behalf of Alannah Ritch and Andrew J. Ritch, in an amount not to exceed $250,000 and to execute a settlement and release containing terms as are customarily contained in settlement agreements.”

6;03 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:

  • Viasat Economic Development Agreement: The agreement provides for Viasat’s expansion into a new 85,000-square foot building on about nine acres in the Biocorridor. The company’s total investment is about $20 million with a minimum property valuation of $15 million by 2019. By the end of the second year following construction, Viasat will add at least 150 new full-time jobs with an average salary of $64,000 and the current payroll will increase by $9.6 million for a total of $17.2 million. In exchange, Viasat will receive an annual cash incentive for six years equal to the ad valorem taxes assessed and paid not to exceed $450,000. Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

  • Bee Creek Trunk Line Rehabilitation: The $4.6 million contract with Elliott Construction includes the installation of about 2,000 linear feet of 60-inch and 4,000 linear feet of 54-inch sanitary sewer main along Bee Creek from Carter’s Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to west of State Highway 6. This contract is for the second of four phases to replace the Bee Creek Trunk Line that runs from Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to about 1,100 feet west of Jones Butler Road. Much of the existing trunk line was constructed in 1973 and was shown to have several surcharging line segments in the 2011 Wastewater Master Plan. The project will install a gravity line to increase the capacity of the trunk line to accept the anticipated build-out demand.
  • Utility Agreement with MUD No. 1: Approval of this item will modify the utility agreement with Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 1 to include a surcharge for water and wastewater rates in the MUD without the charge of impact fees. It also specifies that city staff will recommend that the city council establish a Public Utility Corridor across Lick Creek Park for a sewer line to the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. The diversion of parkland is on tonight’s regular agenda. The change would allow the Southern Pointe development to proceed. The surcharge would provide the same revenue as impact fees but would be spread over about 20 years. The PUC will have zero cost to the city.
  • Roadway Maintenance Fees: The results of the 2016 Citizen Survey suggested citizens prefer to see additional resources invested in the area of street maintenance. As part of the 2016 budget process, staff evaluated alternative sources to help fund the needed maintenance. After a detailed evaluation of various options, staff recommended implementing a roadway maintenance fee to be paid by citizens and businesses. The fees are based on reasonably equal shares in the total number of vehicle miles generated by all properties in the city limits and would be added to utility bills. The monthly fees would be $7.78 for single family, $6.10 for multi-family and a commercial range of $17.23 to $250. The fee would generate about $4.5 million per year. Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

 

6:33 p.m.

Pavement Standards

The council voted 4-3 for the city to use concrete in street construction rather than asphalt. Voting against the motion were Councilman Karl Mooney and councilwomen Julie Schultz and Blanche Brick. A study found that initial construction costs for rigid pavement were higher than for flexible pavement, while the maintenance and life cycle costs for rigid pavement were lower than for flexible pavement. 

An earlier motion to provide a combination of concrete and asphalt standards was defeated, 4-3. Mooney, Schultz, and Brick supported the motion.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:44 p.m.

Appraisal District Building

The council heard a presentation about the new office building proposed by the Brazos Central Appraisal District to address concerns with growth, security, customer service, and technology. Approval of the building is on tonight’s consent agenda.

The district’s board of directors has recommended building rather than leasing office space to give the property owners the best value for their tax dollars and to provide improved security, efficiency, and technology for staff and the public.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:12 p.m.

Itinerant Vendor Ordinance

The consensus of the council was to move ahead with new requirements related to itinerant vendors. The changes would exempt mobile medical vendors that provide infusion therapy and would allow more days per year for tent sales. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:12 p.m.

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

7:25 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:37 p.m.

Hear Visitors

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

  • Councilwoman Julie Schultz, speaking as a citizen, thanked Mayor Nancy Berry for her service to the community. Berry has been mayor since May 2010 and is presiding over her final council meeting tonight. She will hand the gavel to Mayor-elect Karl Mooney at the Nov. 21 council meeting.
  • Ben Roper recognized Marine Lance Cpl. Shane L. Goldman as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 20-year-old Orange native died April 5, 2004, from injuries received from hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
  • Cecelia Yip, Mike Green, and Matthew Fontaine spoke in support of pickleball and encouraged the city to provide adequate facilities for the sport.

7:40 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve these consent agenda items:

  • An economic development agreement with Viasat regarding nine acres on Health Science Center Parkway.
  • A $3 million contract with Saber Power Services to modify the ring bus and relocate transformer No. 2 at the Greens Prairie Substation.
  • A $4.6 million contract with Elliott Construction for Phase 2 of the Bee Creek Sanitary Sewer Trunk Line Rehabilitation.
  • An ordinance recognizing water and sewer utility rates and surcharges established by contract.
  • An amendment to an agreement with McAlister Opportunity Fund that designates an alternate fire station site.
  • Modified the utility agreement with Brazos County MUD No. 1 to include a surcharge for water and sewer service without the charge of impact fees and other related matters.
  • A contract not to exceed $7,880 with Sungard Public Sector for adding the roadway maintenance fee to accounts in the utility billing system.
  • A resolution authorizing banners for the annual Christmas Parade.
  • A resolution approving the purchase of property and construction of a new office building by the Brazos Central Appraisal District.

This item was voted on separately:

  • By a 6-1 vote, the council approved an ordinance approving a roadway maintenance fee to help fund maintenance of city streets. Councilmen James Benham voted against the motion

Note: An inter-local agreement with Brazos County creating an economic development program was pulled from tonight’s agenda.

8:29 p.m.

Parking Removal near Fire Station No. 6

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to remove parking on one side of the streets in the neighborhood behind Fire Station No. 6. Affected streets are Payton, Banks, Pearce, Columbus, Preston, Churchill, Chappel, Pasler, Turner and Avenue B. The change was recommended to allow adequate access for emergency vehicles.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

 8:32 p.m.

Design Review Board Membership

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved changes to membership qualifications for the Design Review Board, which is responsible for considering requests largely related to subjective matters such as alternative buffer standards and site plan design in the Wolf Pen Creek zoning district. The changes address concerns about the challenges of making appointments to the board.

The city’s Unified Development Ordinance defines membership criteria of appointees so that expertise is balanced between those with business acuity, personal experience in a design district, and general public opinion.

8:34 p.m.

Drainage Easement Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to abandon a small public drainage easement at Holleman Drive South and Market Street to accommodate the recent development of The Junction, a multi-family project.  The property owner will maintain the existing drainage area and infrastructure.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:42 p.m.

Utility Corridor in Lick Creek Park

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to establish a public utility corridor across Lick Creek Park needed for the development of Brazos County Municipal Utility District  No. 1, also known as Southern Pointe. Since the park lies directly between Southern Pointe and the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the route is the only feasible option.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:42 p.m.

The council is taking a short break.

8:51 p.m.

The meeting has resumed.

9:51 p.m.

Rezoning on Earl Rudder Freeway South

After a public hearing, the council voted 5-2 to deny a request to change the zoning from Suburban Commercial to Planned Development District for about seven acres north of Raintree Drive along Earl Rudder Freeway South. Mayor Berry and Councilwoman Schultz voted for the motion.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

10:06 p.m.

Roadway Impact Fees

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-1 to approve an ordinance implementing roadway impact fees on new development, effective Dec. 1. Councilman James Benham voted against the motion. The fees are estimated to generate about $12 million in the next decade to help fund the capital costs of new roads needed to accommodate the city’s growth.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

10:17 p.m.

College Hills Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a request to change the zoning from General Suburban to General Commercial for about 1.2 acres on George Bush Drive East in the College Hills Estates. The change will allow for commercial redevelopment opportunities.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

10:17 p.m.

Before adjourning, Mayor Berry noted it was her final council meeting. She thanked her fellow council members and city staff for the positive working relationship they’ve had since she was first elected in My 2010.

The council meets again on Monday, Nov. 21.


14316755_10108798313965164_2904942172107966680_nAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 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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