Public Communications

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. Employee of the Year: Before the workshop, the council will recognize the city’s employee of the year along with employees reaching 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service.
  2. Legislative Update: In the workshop, the council will receive a legislative update and a preview of the 86th Texas State Legislature.
  3. Parks & Recreation Survey: The council will hear a workshop presentation and discuss the results of the Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment survey conducted this fall by National Service Research.
  4. Lick Creek Dog Leash Ordinance: Among the items on the consent agenda is an ordinance removing the Lick Creek Park exception to the city’s dog leash requirement and adding a designated leash-free area.
  5. Rezoning Behind Emerald Forest: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the zoning from Rural to Restricted Suburban and Natural Areas Protected for about 46 acres near North Forest Parkway north of the Emerald Forest Subdivision. The change will allow for residential development.

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

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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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Seven ways to reduce your holiday fire risks

By Carter Hall, CSFD Firefighter

If you’re the observant type, you may notice the beautiful holiday wreaths that adorn College Station’s six fire stations. Wreaths are hardly uncommon this time of year, but those displayed at our firehouses are a bit different.

The wreaths were initially illuminated entirely with white lights, but with each structure fire we fight in December, a light changes to red. We hope as many white lights as possible are still shining brightly at the end of the month.

Follow these seven tips to help us keep the lights white:

  1. Candles cause more than half of home fires caused by decorations. Keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that burns.
  2. Real Christmas trees should be watered frequently and removed a few days after Christmas.
  3. If you purchase a pre-lit, artificial tree, make sure it has a UL classification mark indicating it meets safety standards.
  4. Nearby heat sources start about 80 percent of Christmas tree fires. Keep your tree and decorations at least three feet from space heaters, fireplaces, radiators, or heat vents.
  5. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly connect holiday lights.
  6. Check smoke detectors monthly to verify they work properly and have one on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
  7. Christmas Day is the second leading day for cooking fires. Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, garage, or near any outside cooking fires.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more safety tips and updates.

 


About the Blogger

Carter Hall has been a College Station firefighter since 2011. He earned a degree in leadership development from Texas A&M in 2005.


 


Local leaders duel in Salvation Army Mayor Ring Off

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The cities of Bryan and College Station seem to relish the opportunity to compete in just about anything – even Christmas.

But don’t worry, we aren’t competing to see who can attract the most business or tourists, at least not this time. Instead, how about a little friendly competition to help The Salvation Army provide food, clothing, shelter, toys, financial assistance and counseling to those in need in the Brazos Valley?

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney and Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson will participate in the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas campaign by ringing bells and collecting donations at local Walmart stores on Saturday from noon-1 p.m. Mooney will be at the College Station Walmart, while Nelson will be at the Bryan Walmart on Briarcrest.

The Mayor Ring Off has been a holiday tradition for many years. The problem is that the Bryan mayor – regardless of who it is – always seems to raise the most cash.

It’s time the good folks in College Station came together to bring that winning streak to an end. With the proper spirit of Christmas, of course.

If you happen to stop by Walmart on Saturday, say hello to Mayor Mooney and drop your spare change into that famous red kettle. You’ll be helping a bunch of your fellow residents in the process.

You can also donate online at salvationarmybcs.org. Click “Mayor Ring Off” and choose Mayor Mooney.

Speaking of the iconic red kettle, do you know the history behind it? I didn’t, either, until visiting with Paul and Analese Ryerson of The Salvation Army of Bryan/College Station. Here’s the story, courtesy of The Salvation Army:

History of the Red Kettle

Joseph McFee, The Salvation Army’s captain in San Francisco, resolved in December of 1891 to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor. But how would he pay for the food? As he went about his daily tasks, the question stayed in his mind. Suddenly, his thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing, where the boats came in, he saw a large pot into which passersby threw charitable donations.

The next morning, he secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, at the foot of Market Street. No time was lost in securing the pot and placing it in a conspicuous position so that it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferryboats. Thus, Captain McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States but the world.

By Christmas 1895, the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army locations in various sections of the West Coast area. The Sacramento Bee of that year carried a description of the Army’s Christmas activities and mentioned the contributions to street-corner kettles. Shortly afterward, two young Salvation Army officers who had been instrumental in the original use of the kettle, William A. McIntyre and N.J. Lewis, were transferred to the East.

They took with them the idea of the Christmas kettle. In 1897, McIntyre prepared his Christmas plans for Boston around the kettle, but his fellow officers refused to cooperate for fear of making spectacles of themselves. So McIntyre, his wife, and sister set up three kettles at the Washington Street thoroughfare in the heart of the city. That year, the kettle effort in Boston and other locations nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy.

In 1898, the New York World hailed The Salvation Army kettles as “the newest and most novel device for collecting money.” The newspaper also observed, “There is a man in charge to see that contributions are not stolen.” In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years.

Today, donations to The Salvation Army kettles at Christmas help support the nearly 30 million people served by the Army through shelters, after-school programs, addiction-recovery programs, summer camps, disaster assistance, and many other social services. Kettles can now be found in many foreign countries such as Korea, Japan, Chile, many European countries and Australia.

Wherever people find The Salvation Army, public contributions to the kettles enable The Salvation Army to bring the spirit of Christmas to those who would otherwise be forgotten all year long – to the aged and lonely, the ill, the inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and unfortunate.

In the United States, kettles at Thanksgiving and Christmas, although changed since the first utilitarian cauldron set up in San Francisco, help make it possible for The Salvation Army to do the most good possible for nearly 30 million people each year.

 


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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Youth hoops leagues focus on fun and fundamentals

By Bobbie Cantu, Athletics Supervisor           

If you’re looking for a way to keep your kids active during the colder months, winter youth basketball leagues are a great option. The City of College Station Parks and Recreation Department is committed to providing every kid the opportunity to play basketball regardless of their skill level.

Youth basketball provides players with a fun and exciting way to learn basic skills, teamwork, strategy, and sportsmanship. The goal is to foster positive, child-oriented attitudes by keeping winning in perspective, having fun, and improving physical fitness. Coaches focus on creating an exciting but relaxed atmosphere while focusing on fundamentals.

We offer four age divisions, which are determined by the player’s age as of March 1: 6-7 Coed (6-7 years), 10U Boys/Girls (8-10 years), 12U Boys/Girls (10-12 years), 14U Coed (12-14 years).

Registration ends Dec. 14, and the league will run from Jan. 7-March 7. You can register online at cstx.gov/sports, by calling 979-764-3486, or stopping by our Central Park office at 1000 Krenek Tap Road. The cost is $60 per participant, which includes a team jersey. Players are charged a $10 reorder fee for ordering the incorrect size.

Players can register for Monday/Wednesday/Saturday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday practices. Games are played on weeknights between 6-9 p.m. and on Saturdays between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. All practices and games are at College Station Independent School District gyms and the Lincoln Recreation Center. Gym locations vary depending on age and availability, and participants can’t request a specific location.

The format of the league is an eight-game, round-robin schedule. Each player accumulates a minimum of two quarters of playing time for each game they participate.

Volunteer to coach

Parents are their kids’ greatest fans, and we encourage them to get involved as volunteer coaches. Without dedicated volunteers, our programs can’t grow and prosper. We need coaches for every age division. No experience is required, and we provide you with the help and resources you need for a fun and successful season.

If you’re interested in applying to be a volunteer coach, go to cstx.gov/sportsvolunteer and fill out the form. Volunteer must complete a background check.

 


About the Blogger

Athletics Supervisor Bobbie Cantu is in her second year with the Parks and Recreation Department. A native of Weslaco, she earned a sports management degree from Texas A&M in 2017 and is pursuing a master’s in sport and fitness administration.


 

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Fighting fatbergs is a dirty (but avoidable) job

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Remember the iconic line from the movie “Titanic”?

“Fatberg, right ahead!”

Wait, what?

Sorry, the movie line was actually about an iceberg. But fatbergs are real, and they can put a fat hole in a utility’s maintenance and operations budget.

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) – along with flushable and non-flushable rags and wipes – merge in our sewers to form solid, immovable blockages known as fatbergs. They are worse in the winter months when cooler temperatures make it easier for the FOG to solidify.

Recently in London, it took nine weeks to dislodge a fatberg measuring 800 feet long and weighing 130 tons. That’s the same as 10 London double-decker buses.

The unsightly blobs can also significantly impact water quality and the environment after sewer overflows. We traced a recent sewer overflow to grease and paper towels coming from a fast food restaurant, which had to close for five hours while we made repairs.

Who drew the short straw?

While College Station hasn’t had fatbergs that colossal, we aren’t immune to problems caused by FOG and wipes. When a big grease blob sticks to the ultraviolet light used to disinfect our wastewater, the light can’t do its job.

When that happens, Courageous operators must manually remove disgusting balls of grease, wads of wipes, paper towels – even underwear – to keep expensive equipment from being damaged.

I’m not sure, but our brave operators probably draw straws to see who handles that dirty job!

Fatbergs can be costly

FOG and trash in the sewer system can also lead to increases in your wastewater rate. For the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, a $150,000 preliminary screening station was added to the design to remove such things as wipes, rags, hygiene products of the cotton and plastic variety, and trash.

If you need to see it to believe it, the City of Spokane, Washington filmed an experiment with several commonly flushed items to find the answer to the question “will it flush?” Spoiler alert: only the toilet paper flushed.

Manually removing the grease at our wastewater plants costs the city an average of $600 a week.

3 ways to trim the fat

  1. Scrape food scraps into the garbage and let grease solidify in pans before placing it in the trash. Pour oil and grease into a can and after it hardens, put the sealed container in the regular trash.
  2. Avoid placing paper products – even those marked as flushable – down the drain or in the toilet. #NoWipesinPipes
  3. You can help protect your sewer system by remembering to only flush the 3 P’s – pee, poop, and toilet paper.

College Station Water Services – especially our valiant wastewater operators – appreciate your assistance in reducing our fatberg problem.

If you have any questions, email me at jnations@cstx.gov.

 


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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4 new twists for Christmas in the Park

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

Now that the colorful holiday lights are on in Stephen C. Beachy Central Park, it’s time for consecutive weekends of fun at the City of College Station’s Christmas in the Park.

The first activities are Friday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. at Beachy Central Park, followed by the second weekend Dec. 7-8.

In its 35th year, the annual Christmas event promises to be even better with an additional weekend of festivities, a pair of snow slides, a mobile stage, and a full slate of family-friendly experiences. As usual, you can also enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies, pictures with Santa, hayrides, performances by local song and dance groups, and more.

Christmas in the Park has evolved from a tiny idea and small light display in 1984 into a beloved community tradition. During those years, we tried a lot of different things. Some worked well, and others failed. Here are four new twists we’re trying out in 2018:

  1. Recreation Drive will close from 4-10 p.m. and visitors will be unable to drive through the park. Shuttles will run from 5:30-10:30 p.m. from the Post Oak Mall parking lot (JCPenney side). Handicap parking will be located at the Beachy Central Park softball complex, which can be accessed from State Highway 6.
  2. Free wristbands are required to participate in activities, including the hayride, snow slides, arts and crafts, joy jumps, train, petting zoo, and photos with Santa. To receive a wristband, you must complete a waiver form at an information booth.
  3. A professional photographer is no longer provided for photos with Santa, but you are encouraged to bring your camera to capture the moment. Pets aren’t allowed.
  4. Because of the construction of the Fun for All Playground, our 90-foot-tall Christmas tree has been relocated along Recreation Lane. The new spot has plenty of room to continue the tradition of spinning beneath the giant Tower of Power.

If you can’t make it out for the Christmas in the Park activity weekends, you can still drive or walk through the park on other nights from 6-11 p.m. through New Year’s Day. Our more than 1 million beautiful lights are always the main attraction.

For more information, go to cstx.gov/Christmas or call 979-764-3486.

 


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 14 years, the last seven as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


 

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