Public Communications

Podcast series explores city’s FY 21 proposed budget

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

After a multi-month, coronavirus-inspired break, the All Up In Your Business podcast is back with a special miniseries: Four episodes that focus on College Station’s Fiscal Year 2021 proposed budget.

We’re calling it All Up In Your Budget.

Fiscal Services Director Mary Ellen Leonard joins me to dissect and explain the city’s 330-page budget document, including changes caused by COVID-19, how sustainable we think those are, and what it means to our residents. This budget year is like no other, and we want to make sure residents and taxpayers understand what’s in it, what’s not in it, and why.

A public hearing on the budget will be part of Thursday’s city council meeting, with budget adoption scheduled for Aug. 27. Thursday’s meeting will be streamed live starting at 6 p.m. on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 945 5259 1668. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom.

Episode No. 1 (Conditions)

Episode No. 2 (Revenues)

Episode No. 3 (Expenses)

Episode No. 4 (Capital Projects and Tourism)

All Up In Your Business is available via PodbeanApple PodcastsGoogle PlayIHeartRadioSpotifyStitcher and YouTube. Please subscribe, rate and recommend!

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is entering his 12th 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. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


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Fall recreation schedule looks different this year

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

In March, our entire world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses, schools, travel, and parks and recreation facilities were shut down across the country.

Just six months later, many activities have returned, but COVID-19 remains a severe threat. As we approach the fall, the Parks & Recreation Department is faced with tough decisions as we make plans to reopen our facilities and programs. (more…)


Which furry Parks Pal will you adopt?

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

The College Station Parks & Recreation Department and Brazos Valley Marine Corps League have rescued 1,120 Parks Pals that need a home. That’s 272 dogs, 291 cats, 290 rabbits, and 267 unicorns, to be exact.

Typical Parks Pals are sad balls of fur until someone adopts them, names them, loves them, and takes them on adventures. You know you’ve always wanted one.

Here’s your chance — and they’re free. (more…)


Revamped after-school program set for this fall

By Ana Romero, Recreation Manager

The COVID-19 pandemic has led after-school programs across the nation to be reimagined and restructured to safely provide the same high-quality, engaging programs that have been so popular. As parents return to work this fall, the Lincoln Recreation Center’s after-school programs will continue to offer essential support services for families in these uncertain times. (more…)


Proposed city budget reflects COVID-19 challenges

 

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

COVID-19 has affected just about every aspect of our lives since mid-March. At the City of College Station, we expect that impact to continue well into our next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget —presented to the city council Thursday night — takes a strategic approach to address our community’s short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs in these uncertain times. The council takes a more in-depth look at the numbers beginning with Monday’s first budget workshop, followed by additional sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The budget workshops can be accessed through Zoom. We’ll post the presentations from each day here:

A public hearing on the budget and tax rate will be Aug. 13. The council will consider adopting the budget and tax rate on Aug. 27. (more…)


Video: Our water is absolutely safe to drink

In this episode of “Actually…,” Water Resource Coordinator Jennifer Nations says that College Station’s water is quite safe. Only a handful of naturally occurring contaminants have been detected, and the city adds another (chlorine) to disinfect the water and kill germs.

The city’s 2019 water quality report can be found at cstx.gov/water.

– Public Communications Office


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (July 23)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular teleconference meetings on Thursday, July 23. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings are streamed live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 984 6115 5646. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom.

4:28 p.m.

The workshop has started. (more…)


5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council meets by teleconference on Thursday for its workshop (after 4 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

The meetings will be streamed live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 984 6115 5646. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom. (more…)


Video: Now for something completely positive! (June)

Take a look back at some of the positive things that happened in the City of College Station in June:

We honored a hero police officer, another officer hosted a peace party at his church, new Police Chief Billy Couch had a constructive meeting with community leaders, we received strong new bond ratings, we worked with a local church to help a single mom battling cancer, and the city saved more than $800,000 by re-funding general obligation bonds.

Now that’s something completely positive!

– Public Communications Office


Video: Replacing skateboards with drainage technology

In this episode of “Actually…,” Drainage Division Manager Marshall Wallace says thanks to new technology, city employees don’t have to use skateboards anymore to enter the pipes and inspect or repair our vital drainage infrastructure.

– Public Communications Office


Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (July 9)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular teleconference meetings on Thursday, July 9. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings are streamed live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 997 0027 4418. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom.

5:55 p.m.

The workshop has started. No action was taken out of executive session.

5:56 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council pulled no items for discussion from the regular meeting’s consent agenda.

6:24 p.m.

Parkland Expansion

The council voted unanimously to support the conversion of about 196 acres of greenways to parkland. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board unanimously passed the motion in June.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

6:28 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports, Mayor Karl Mooney adjourned the workshop. The regular meeting starts after a short break.

6:39 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. 

6:44 p.m.

Hear Visitors

No one spoke during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that does not appear on the posted agenda.

6:45 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Estimated annual expenditures of $125,000 with Badger Meter for water meters.
  • A $2.35 million contract with Kieschnick General Contractors for the Southside Safety Improvements Project.
  • An oversized participation agreement that upsizes about 1,466 linear feet of water line from an 8-inch to an 18-inch water line through the Traditions Phase 24 and 25 subdivision.
  • An ordinance consenting to Order No. 3 under the mayor’s declaration of disaster regarding face coverings inside commercial businesses as proclaimed on June 25.

7:05 p.m.

BVSWMA Budget

The council voted unanimously to approve BVSWMA’s proposed FY 21 budget, which was approved by the BVSWMA Board of Directors on June 17. The City of Bryan is expected to consider it on July 14.

The landfill’s FY 21 budget revenue is $9.5 million, operating expenses of $7.1 million and capital expenses of $4.98 million. Total reserves, cash, and investments are $11.75 million. The budget also reduces the gate rate for both cities from $17.50 to $15 per ton.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

7:11 p.m.

Wellborn Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural to Planned Development District — with a base zoning district of Wellborn Commercial — for about seven acres at 14565 and 14575 Wellborn Road. The change allows the development of low-density commercial uses that provide services to nearby neighborhoods.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:01 p.m.

Community Development Plans, Budget

The council voted unanimously to direct staff to move forward with the FY 21 (PY 20) Annual Action Plan, FY 21 Community Development Budget, and 2020-24 Consolidated Plan.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:10 p.m.

Taxing Unit Under Disaster Declaration

The council voted unanimously to defer lowering the voter approval tax rate — formerly known as the rollback tax rate — from 8% to 3.5% for FY 21. The Texas Legislature mandated the change during its last session, but it agreed that cities with disaster declarations in place should retain the option of deferring implementation of the change if faced with catastrophic revenue losses.

The council’s decision doesn’t increase the tax rate, but it potentially could help ensure that it doesn’t have to be lowered (rolled back) so the city can continue providing emergency response and other critical city operations.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:19 p.m.

MUD No. 1 Road Improvements:

The council voted unanimously to consent to the issuance of up to $2 million in road improvement bonds by Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 1

8:29 p.m.

After the council discussed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again by teleconference on Thursday, July 23.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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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We need your input about College Station’s future

By Alyssa Halle-Schramm, Long Range Planning Administrator

As part of the City of College Station’s 10-year review of its Comprehensive Plan, we’ve created a virtual workshop to gather your input on our community’s future. The online Community Choices Workshop will be live from July 13 through Aug. 3.

A series of activities will help you make choices about how and where the city grows. To participate, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10 starting Monday. You can also join an email list to stay up-to-date with project news. 

The Next 10

The Next 10 is an extensive effort to evaluate the city’s Comprehensive Plan, consider recent growth and best practices, and identify city policies that need updating. The Comprehensive Plan is the strategic guide that expresses the community’s values and aspirations. It establishes a long-range vision for development, housing, transportation, parks, the environment, economic development, and other related topics.

College Station’s plan was adopted in 2009 and covers a 20-year horizon. It’s meant to be a living document that’s regularly evaluated and updated. Since we are 10 years into the plan, we need your input about how the next decade should unfold.

Last summer, the initiative began with the establishment of the Evaluation Committee and meeting with community leaders. We also conducted a series of public workshops and an online survey to get input about the existing plan. You can review that feedback at cstx.gov/TheNext10.

These efforts will result in an Evaluation and Appraisal Report — anticipated this fall — that recommends changes to the Comprehensive Plan. Once the city council accepts the report, we’ll begin drafting update amendments, which will be made available for public feedback and will go through the public hearing process at planning & zoning commission and city council meetings. Formal updates are expected to be made in 2021.

How to Participate

By living, working, attending school, or raising a family in College Station, you know our community. We encourage you to share your ideas and opinions to ensure College Station’s direction represents the community’s authentic voice. The input you provide will be an essential component of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report.

In one Community Choices Workshop activity, you’ll be asked about potential improvements to the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map, which serves as a guide for how areas of the city may develop. Several updates are being considered, including renaming, simplifying, and refining the Future Land Use category definitions and changes to how land uses apply to various areas. You’ll be asked to react to examples of potential changes.

In another activity, you’ll be able to share your preferences on scenarios that illustrate potential options for six areas. The scenario planning activity uses performance-based criteria to depict trade-offs among possible outcomes. Please note that the alternatives are hypothetical scenarios meant to test options and solicit feedback.

You’ll be asked to choose one of three options — how the area is developed today, an anticipated outcome under existing policies, or what may be possible with policy changes. You can provide open-ended feedback about your likes and dislikes, and anything else you’d like us to know.

The future can unfold in many ways. Your participation in the virtual Community Choices Workshop will help us more accurately gauge the community’s preferences.

For more information, visit cstx.gov/TheNext10 and watch the videos. You can also contact me at 979-764-3570 or aschramm@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm has been with the city since 2018. She previously worked at Austin Community College, UT-Austin, and Hanover County (Virginia). A native of Wilmington, N.C., Alyssa earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from North Carolina-Wilmington in 2010 and master’s degrees in public administration and urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech in 2013.


 

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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 meets by teleconference for its workshop (after 5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

The meetings will be streamed live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 997 0027 4418. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom.

To address the council via Zoom about any agenda item — or about non-agenda topics during Hear Visitors — you must register with the city secretary before the meeting by calling 979-764-3500 or emailing CSO@cstx.gov before the meeting starts. Written comments submitted to CSO@cstx.gov will be provided to the council members.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Parkland Expansion: The council will consider converting about 196 acres of greenway to parkland. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board unanimously passed the motion in June.
  2. Southside Safety Improvements:  As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $2.35 million contract with Kieschnick General Contractors for Southside safety improvements. The project includes the rehabilitation of Park Place, Holik Street, Glade Street, and Anna Street near Oakwood Intermediate School, A&M Consolidated Middle School, and College View High School.
  3. Wellborn Road Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the zoning from Rural to Planned Development District — with a base zoning district of Wellborn Commercial — for about seven acres at 14565 and 14575 FM 21. The change would allow the development of low-density commercial uses that provide services to nearby neighborhoods.
  4. Community Development Plans, Budget: The council will consider the proposed 2020- 2024 Consolidated Plan, FY 2021 (PY 2020) Annual Action Plan, and FY 2021 Community Development Budget.
  5. MUD No. 1 Road Improvements: The council will consider consenting to the issuance of up to $2 million in road improvement bonds by Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 1.

Related Links:                                                            

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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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Pandemic spotlights vital role of parks and recreation

 

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

The services and programs provided by municipal parks and recreation departments have always been indispensable to a community’s well-being and overall quality of life. If that wasn’t clear before the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly is now.

A survey by the National Recreation and Park Association found that 83% of adults say exercising at local parks, trails, and open spaces has been vital to maintaining their mental and physical health during the outbreak.

We celebrate Park and Recreation Month throughout July by highlighting the powerful role our College Station Parks and Recreation staff and professionals across the country play in health and wellness, conservation, economic impact, and social equity.

In College Station, our nationally-recognized program ensures that residents and visitors have adequate access to parks and green space. Our inventory includes 54 developed and seven undeveloped parks covering almost 1,400 acres. Amenities include: 

  • 35.5 miles of walking trails
  • 44 exercise stations
  • 58 play units
  • 28 swing sets
  • 3 dog parks
  • 1 skate park
  • 10 ponds

We invite you to join us in celebrating Park and Recreation Month by picking up a grab bag filled with parks-themed coloring pages, activities, monarch-friendly milkweed seeds, and more. Stop by the Stephen C. Beachy Central Park Office on weekdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you call 979-764-3486 when you arrive, we’ll bring it out for curbside pickup.

 


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


 

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10 smart tips for a safe and festive Fourth of July

By Stuart Marrs, CSFD Public Information Officer

Most of us build our traditional Independence Day celebrations around food, family, and friends, not to mention plenty of bright and colorful fireworks. Unfortunately, fireworks can also cause injuries and damage property, even when properly used.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a professional fireworks display such as the Texas A&M RELLIS campus Fireworks in Bryan Saturday night at the RELLIS Campus.

Can you guess what types of fireworks cause the most injuries? It’s not bottle rockets, roman candles, or even the aerial firecrackers — it’s those innocent-looking sparklers. They produce about a third of all fireworks-related injuries.

Sparklers burn at about 1,200 degrees, Six-times hotter than boiling water. Glow sticks, confetti poppers, and bubbles a much safer alternative for young children.

As you prepare for your Fourth of July celebration, here are 10 essential things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s illegal to discharge fireworks in the city limits.
  2. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, stay at least six feet away from others and wear a face mask, especially indoors. It’s also a good idea to avoid large gatherings, even with your extended family. 
  3. When using fireworks, always read the labels first and wear safety glasses.
  4. Never give fireworks to children. An adult should supervise fireworks activities.
  5. Light one firework at a time, then quickly move away.
  6. Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from buildings and vehicles.
  7. Never re-light a dud. Wait 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water.
  8. Always have a bucket of water and a water hose nearby.
  9. Never shoot fireworks near pets. Make sure your pets – especially those sensitive to loud noises – are where they feel safe and comfortable.
  10. Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.

If you’re planning a cookout, be sure to practice safe grilling practices, too:

Related Links:

 


About the Blogger

Stuart Marrs has been with the College Station Fire Department since 2009 and has served as a captain since 2017. He was previously a firefighter with the Huntsville (Texas) Fire Department. Stuart studied communications at Texas A&M and earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from TAMU-Commerce in 2019.


 

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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (June 25)

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular teleconference meetings on Thursday, June 25. It’s not the official minutes.

The live audio will be streamed on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 982 1331 7043.

4:04 p.m.

The workshop has started. 

4:05 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council pulled no items for discussion from the regular meeting’s consent agenda.

6:22 p.m.

Restricted Occupancy Overlay

The council directed staff to obtain additional public input and draft a potential ordinance to allow property owners to request an overlay restricting neighborhood housing occupancy to no more than two unrelated residents. Twelve residents spoke after the presentation, and five submitted written comments.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation:

 

6:22 p.m.

The council is taking a short break.

6:32 p.m.

The workshop has resumed.

7:09 p.m.

Police Community Outreach

The council discussed the College Station Police Department’s community outreach activities regarding race relations, recruiting and hiring, use of force, and body-worn cameras.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:17 p.m.

Mayor Issues Mask Order

The council offered its unanimous support for Mayor Karl Mooney to mandate the use of face coverings for coronavirus protection inside commercial businesses. Eleven residents spoke after the presentation, and 61 submitted written comments.

Mooney issued the order after the meeting:

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

8:24 p.m.

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

8:34 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. 

8:45 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during hear visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that does not appear on the posted agenda.

8:46 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Reduced the speed limit from 45 mph to 40 on Greens Prairie Road from about 1,000 feet west of Woodlake Drive to the Royder Road intersection.
  • The $650,914 purchase of long lead time major equipment for the proposed Spring Creek Substation.
  • The not-to-exceed $639,764 purchase of a ThreePhase electric substation transformer from Virginia Transformer for the proposed Spring Creek Substation.
  • A $19,416 change order to the contract with Elliott Construction for the repair of the Rock Prairie Road water line.
  • The first renewal of Water Services’ annual $115,847 purchase of sodium hypochlorite from DXI Industries.
  • A $288,700 contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates for the design of the rehabilitation of Luther Street from Marion Pugh to Penberthy.
  • The second renewal of a contract not to exceed $432,000 with Brazos Paving for the installation of a one-inch overlay with specialty mix as needed.
  • A $18,867 change order to the contract with Halff & Associates for the design of Lick Creek parking lot and trailhead.

9:31 p.m.

Short-Term Rental Ordinance

The council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to regulate short-term housing rentals such as Airbnb. The ordinance takes effect Oct. 1. Nine residents spoke after the presentation, and one submitted written comments.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

9:58 p.m.

Munson Traffic Calming

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve the neighborhood’s request to repeal an ordinance prohibiting traffic calming on Munson Avenue. Area residents wanted equal access to the traffic calming ordinance that applies in other city neighborhoods. One person spoke in the public hearing.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:08 p.m.

Midtown Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural to Planned Development District for about 33 acres at 5604, 5900, and 6102 Rock Prairie Road. The PDD is an expansion of the Midtown development.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:18 p.m.

Special Events Ordinance

The council voted unanimously to approve changes to the special events ordinance that allow the city manager more flexibility in making decisions about special events. The changes also clarify the definition of a special event and the number of days such an event can operate.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:

10:19 p.m.

Disaster Declaration Extension

The council voted unanimously to consent to the mayor’s recent extension of the disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

10:27 p.m.

Coronavirus Relief Fund Grant

The council voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to apply to the state for grants from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The city will receive about $6.44 million from the fund.

Here’s the PowerPoint Presentation:


10:28 p.m.

After the council discussed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again by teleconference on Thursday, July 9.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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 meets Thursday at by teleconference for its workshop (after 4 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

The live audio will be streamed on Suddenlink Channel 19 and at cstx.gov/cstv19. Public comments are allowed through Zoom. To join the meeting online, go to Zoom or call 888-475-4499 and enter meeting number 982 1331 7043. Public comments will be allowed through Zoom.

If you want to address the council about any item on the workshop or regular agenda, register with the city secretary before the meeting by calling 979-764-3500 or emailing CSO@cstx.gov before the meeting starts. Written comments submitted to CSO@cstx.gov will be provided to the council members.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Restricted Occupancy Overlay: In the workshop, the council will discuss a restricted occupancy overlay ordinance that would allow property owners to request an overlay to restrict occupancy to no more than two unrelated persons in their neighborhood.
  2. Police Community Outreach: The council will also have a workshop discussion about the College Station Police Department’s community outreach activities regarding race relations, recruiting and hiring, use of force, and body-worn cameras.
  3. Face Masks and COVID-19: Another workshop discussion will be the use of face masks for local coronavirus protection. Gov. Greg Abbott last week clarified his executive order regarding face masks. Abbott said individual liberty may not be infringed, but local governments can direct stores and businesses to require masks.
  4. Short-Term Rental Ordinance: In the regular meeting, the council will consider an ordinance restricting non-owner-occupied short-term housing rentals such as Airbnb to General Suburban, Restricted Suburban, and Wellborn Restricted Suburban zoning districts. It would also require evidence of a Homestead Exemption as proof of owner occupancy and grandfather non-owner-occupied STRs that are already operating.
  5. Munson Traffic Calming: After a public hearing, the council will consider the neighborhood’s request to repeal an ordinance that prohibits traffic calming on Munson Avenue. The neighborhood is seeking equal access to the traffic calming ordinance that applies to other neighborhoods.

Related Links:                                                           

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as the 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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Video: Small business bridge loan program

The City of College Station and the Bryan Business Council partnered with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments in April to create a Bridge Loan Program to assist small businesses that have seen a substantial reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Small businesses need short-term working capital to cover essential expenses such as payroll, rent, and utilities.

– Public Communications Office

 


Police chief addresses CSPD’s policies, use of force 

By Billy Couch, College Station Police Chief

The national discussion about race relations and policing has touched every corner of our country, including College Station. It’s essential that we understand the perspectives of all members of our community.

As a department, the College Station Police Department has initiated open dialogue with local black leaders about productive ways to strengthen our community relationships. These open and transparent conversations are the foundation of how trust is established.

Accountability is essential, not just to the police profession, but for being accountable to the community we serve. CSPD’s mission is “To Protect and Serve with Excellence.”  The members of our organization are committed to that mission and strive to serve all with dignity and respect.

In recent weeks, we received several questions about the department’s policies and procedures regarding unbiased policing, body-worn cameras, professional standards, and the use of force.

Allow me to address each of those areas.

Unbiased Policing

CSPD thoroughly trains its personnel to avoid bias-based policing and discriminatory activities. Our officers focus on behavior and specific suspect information when we take police action. We won’t take action based on race (racial profiling), ethnic background, national origin, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, or cultural group.

CSPD aggressively investigates instances of bias-based policing. Employees engaging in such conduct will be held accountable with appropriate disciplinary action, including termination.

Body-Worn Cameras

We have used body-worn cameras since 2014 and issue them to all sworn officers who routinely interact with the public. Along with in-car video and audio recorders, the cameras are essential law enforcement tools. These tools help with the effective prosecution of criminal cases and provide a layer of transparency for the daily activities of a police officer.

The cameras must be activated when it’s practical and safe during traffic stops, pursuits, person and vehicle searches, physical and verbal confrontations, use-of-force incidents, obtaining statements from victims and witnesses, the advising of Miranda rights, interrogations, and other legitimate law enforcement contacts.

Complaints

CSPD documents and investigates all complaints, regardless of whether the source comes from inside or outside the police department. That includes anonymous complaints. Our policy protects the community, our personnel, and the department while identifying and correcting inappropriate behavior or policy issues.

In cases where a pending offense is being considered by the courts, we refer those complainants with case-specific concerns to the appropriate court. If additional concerns exist outside of the offense the court is considering, we’ll investigate those concerns to reach a resolution.

If you are aware of a CSPD employee’s misconduct, we encourage you to file a complaint with the police department at any time:

  • Appear in person at the Police Department.
  • Call Internal Affairs at 979-764-3651 during business hours.
  • Call 979-764-3600 and ask to speak with a supervisor.
  • Email: iaunit@cstx.gov.
  • Mail: CSPD Internal Affairs, P.O. Box 9960, College Station, TX 77842.

Complaints are thoroughly explored by an assigned investigator, reviewed by the chain of command, and then sent to a chief for final disposition. When the investigation is complete, we notify the complainant. If necessary, and depending on the circumstances, we discipline the officer or provide additional training.

For more information, go to cstx.gov/police. Compliments and Complaints pamphlets are available in the department lobby and College Station City Hall.

Recruiting and Training

CSPD seeks to recruit and hire good people who possess a servant’s heart and dedicate themselves to continuous improvement. We want our personnel to serve with compassion, respect, and kindness. We are fully committed to character-based hiring and enlisting employees who will adhere to the highest level of professional service and standards.

Our organization strives to mirror the diversity of our city demographics. The police department is underrepresented by minority employees, and we don’t reflect the demographics we want to achieve. In spite of targeted recruiting efforts, we fall short.

We implore our citizens to encourage minority citizens to consider the police department as viable career choice. We ask that they inspire our youth to learn more about policing and consider it a noble profession where serving others can be a fulfilling career.

Our meticulous hiring process includes a rigorous exam, physical test, extensive board interviews, thorough background investigation, polygraph exam, psychological evaluation, and an interview with a chief. When the process is complete, new officers attend a basic, 17-week police academy.

After graduation, officers participate in a field training program. We pair them with field training officers who have been selected and trained to ensure they pass on the appropriate practices and principles. The new officers then endure an additional 20 weeks of field training and first-hand observation.

We emphasize providing state-of-the-art training with a focus on de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention. Our overriding policy is to respect and value human life.

Use of Force

Each year, we average about 100,000 citizen contacts. Those contact lead to the use force about 100 times.

An officer’s determination for using force and the level of force used is based upon the officer’s evaluation of the situation in light of the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time the force is applied. The determination is based upon what a reasonably prudent officer would use under the same or similar situations, rather than the perfect vision of hindsight.

Due to the consequential nature of using any degree of force — including deadly force — our officers receive annual training on our Use of Force Policy and the authority to use force under the Texas Penal Code. Employees receive legal updates on the use of force as changes occur.

Periodically, we provide additional training to reinforce the importance of effective communication, de-escalation and to strengthen our use of proper techniques.

Some residents have asked us about specific use-of-force policy recommendations, as presented by 8cantwait.org. Here’s how CSPD policies specifically apply to those eight proposals:

1. Require officers to report unnecessary force used by fellow police officers.

CSPD employees who know about a potential violation of the law, regulation, or policy are required to report it through their chain of command, the city’s human resources director, or our ethics hotline (877-874-8416) or cstx.alertline.com. They must also immediately notify their supervisor of any on-duty injury.

The policy further requires personnel to report uses of force in our Internal Affairs (I.A.) system. Each incident is individually reviewed for policy compliance by the supervisory chain of command — and by I.A., if necessary.  Employees must answer all questions related to the matter. Lying, omitting crucial details, or refusing to cooperate with an I.A. investigation ultimately could be grounds for termination.

2. Restrict higher levels of force to be used only in extreme situations.

CSPD requires the use of de-escalation techniques and other alternatives when possible, safe, and appropriate before using force or using higher levels of force. When de-escalation techniques are not effective or appropriate, officers will employ less-lethal force to control a non-compliant or actively resistant person.

An officer is authorized to use approved less-lethal force techniques and department-issued equipment to protect the officer or others from immediate physical harm, to restrain or subdue someone resisting or evading arrest, or to bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control. Officers may use deadly force when it is objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. Use of deadly force is justified in defense of human life — including the officer’s life — from what is reasonably believed to be an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

Officers may also use such force to prevent a subject from fleeing when they committed — or intend to commit — a felony involving serious injury or death. The officer must reasonably believe there is an immediate risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or others if the subject is not immediately apprehended.

3. Ban shooting at moving vehicles.

CSPD policy prohibits shooting at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is threatening the officer or someone else with deadly force by means other than the vehicle, or the vehicle is operated in a manner deliberately intended to strike an officer or another person.  Other reasonable defenses will first be used, such as getting out of the vehicle’s path.

4. Require officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force.

Any force our officers use must be objectively reasonable and necessary to effectively accomplish lawful objectives while protecting the public and our officers’ lives. Officers will always try to minimize pain and injury that may result from the use of force.

While on duty, they will assist citizens as needed when it doesn’t conflict with law enforcement principles or violate laws or department policies.

5. Force officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before using deadly force.

Officers should consider force-mitigating circumstances when dealing with someone who is injured or receiving medical care. That may include the level and immediacy of the threat or danger, the person’s ability to carry it out, and alternative methods of force. Deadly force shouldn’t be used against those whose actions threaten only themselves or property.

6. Require officers to give a verbal warning before shooting.

When it is safe and practical, our officers are trained to provide warnings before using force. Before taking action, officers will identify themselves by displaying their badge and identification card — unless it’s impractical or when their identity is apparent.

7. Require officers to de-escalate situations before they turn extreme or deadly.

CSPD requires the use of de-escalation techniques and other alternatives when possible, safe, and appropriate before resorting to higher levels of force. Whenever possible, officers will allow individuals time and opportunity to comply with verbal commands unless a delay compromises safety or could result in evidence destruction, the suspect’s escape, or the commission of a crime.

8. Ban chokeholds and strangleholds.

CSPD policies and practices prohibit neck restraints, Lateral Vascular Neck Restraints (LVNR), or similar weaponless control techniques that can cause serious injury or death. LVNR is a choke, sleeper, or other hold intended to disrupt the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, which can lead to a temporary unconsciousness.

Final Thoughts

As always, the College Station Police Department deeply appreciates your support and will never take it for granted.

As a nationally accredited law enforcement agency for almost 30 years, we adhere to the best practices and highest standards in our industry. That means we continually review our policies and practices to ensure our officers conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

We are entirely and unequivocally committed to protecting, serving, and proactively engaging with everyone in our community. If you see ways we can do better, please let me know.

I’m always ready to listen and learn.

 


About the Blogger

A 23-year veteran of the College Station Police Department, Billy Couch was named police chief in May after seven years as an assistant chief. He previously served as a patrol lieutenant, patrol/traffic sergeant, SWAT team member, narcotics investigator, and patrol officer. Couch earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M, a master’s from Sam Houston State, and graduated from the FBI’s National Academy.


 

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Video: Keep your kids safe around the pool

Drowning is among the leading causes of death for young children. The College Station Fire Department offers these tips to help you keep your kids safe around the pool this summer.

– Public Communications Office


Celebrating Juneteenth by remembering Lincoln High

1945 Panthers Football Team

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

With Friday commemorating the sesquicentennial of Juneteenth, it’s fitting that we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of College Station’s Lincoln Recreation Center.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, and since it started in Texas, we should proudly proclaim it as uniquely ours. As part of that celebration, let’s look back at the proud history of what began as Lincoln High School.

History

More than 2,000 people came to Brazos County as slaves. Formal education didn’t exist until the Public Schools Act of 1871, but by 1923, 127 African-American students were enrolled in the A&M Consolidated School District. The district accommodated only elementary school students until it began busing pupils to Bryan’s Kemp High School.

In the 1930s, the number of African-American students steadily grew along with tuition and transportation costs. After approval in the 1941 bond election, the school district purchased five acres of land for $500 to build a high school.

The A&M Consolidated Negro School opened its doors for the 1941-42 academic year and had six classrooms, a principal’s office, and a homemaking cottage. The school continued to flourish and expanded to 296 children and 10 teachers. In 1945, the school purchased a small plot of land a block away for an athletic field.

The following year, the school’s name was changed to Lincoln High School, and Willie A. Tarrow was named principal. Tennis courts, an industrial arts shop, a science building, and a gymnasium were added in the next decade.

Social Hub

Lincoln High School served as the social hub for College Station’s black community and developed a distinctive personality as it grew. The school colors were purple and gold, and students chose the panther as their mascot. The memorable motto was, “Forward forever, backward never,” and its song was, “O’ Lincoln High.”

Discussions about integrating the A&M Consolidated School District began in 1956. After a series of meetings and seminars, officials adopted a wait-and-see approach. In the early 1960s, the school district received notice that the NAACP was requesting immediate integration of the city’s schools.

The district’s integration plan used a stair-step method through which black elementary students would be fused with white elementary students one grade at a time. Each year, a new class would leave Lincoln and become integrated. Attendance at Lincoln became voluntary.

Two of Lincoln’s teachers were reassigned to A&M Consolidated High School, and several white teachers were relocated to Lincoln. By 1965, grades 1-2 had been phased into the A&M Consolidated school system.

Devastating Fire

In early 1966, a fire destroyed one of the three classroom buildings, displacing 100 students. The facilities weren’t rebuilt, and the fire’s cause was never determined, although some speculated it was intentionally set to hasten integration. The local newspaper claimed several mysterious fires were started by an unknown arsonist around that time.

At the end of the 1965-66 school year, Lincoln’s doors were closed for good. The remaining students were integrated into other A&M Consolidated schools.

In 1967, an informal agreement between the City of College Station and the school district allowed the property to be used temporarily as a city park. Small church groups used the buildings for occasional gatherings. A year later, the school district agreed to lease the land and facilities to the city for 10 years. The College Station Parks and Recreation Department moved into Lincoln, and the facilities were used for continuing education classes and as a neighborhood recreation center.

City property next to the school became a sports field. The homemaking cottage served as the department’s office, and the industrial arts shop was converted into a maintenance shop. The city bought the land in 1978 and completely refurbished the buildings.

Lincoln Recreation Center

In 1980, the Lincoln Recreation Center was officially dedicated, serving as a tribute to the school that once stood on the site. The center is home for many community activities, including youth and senior programs, an immunization program, and an emergency management site.

Still, the memories and influences of Lincoln High School remain, and its many trophies are proudly displayed. As the first and only African-American high school in College Station, the building proudly displays an official Texas historical subject marker for African-American education.

In 1982, former students formed the Lincoln Former Students Association. In addition to organizing biennial reunions, the group provides scholarships for black students and is dedicated to preserving their heritage and memories.

A $4.3 million expansion was completed in 2019, adding a new gymnasium, additional office and meeting space, and other improvements and renovations. Today, the Lincoln Recreation Center continues its rich legacy of learning, community pride, and freedom.

Reference: Lincoln School “Black Education in College Station,” was started by Jean Clark Robinson and completed by Debbie Joystick.

 


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


 

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USTA grant will help city tennis programs recover

By Bobbie Cantu, Athletic Supervisor

The College Station Parks and Recreation Department recently received a $2,500 Facility Recovery Grant from the United States Tennis Association to help defray the costs associated with the eventual reopening of our tennis facilities.

We’ve paused our youth and adult programs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’ll use the USTA grant to cover teaching equipment, proper cleaning supplies, and other expenses. We hope to see you at our future tennis classes when regular programming returns.

Until then, we encourage you to play tennis at the 14 lighted recreational tennis courts located in these community and neighborhood parks:

Have fun, but remember to be careful and take appropriate precautions, too!

 


About the Blogger

Athletics Supervisor Bobbie Cantu is in her third year with the Parks and Recreation Department. A native of Weslaco, she earned bachelor’s (2017) and master’s (2019) degrees in Sport Management from Texas A&M.


 

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Video: Waste & Recycling Workers Week

This is Waste and Recycling Workers Week! We offer our sincere thanks to the hard-working men and women who keep our neighborhoods and streets safe and clean. Your dedication and tireless work are valued and appreciated!

– Public Communications Office

 


Video: Now for something completely positive! (May)

Take a look back at some of the positive things that happened in the City of College Station in May. We got a new police chief, completed the new police station underbudget, unveiled more COVID-19 relief programs, and began taking a fresh look at how we promote local tourism.

– Public Communications Office