Public Communications

Celebrating 80 years as the best place in Texas

By Lacey Lively, Marketing Manager

Friday marks the 80th anniversary of College Station’s incorporation as a city. What started as a tiny community of about 2,000 residents has grown into one of the country’s most desirable and fastest-growing cities.

College Station’s estimated population now exceeds 119,000, but it has found a way to maintain its small-town feel and charm. We’re widely recognized as one of the nation’s top places for business, jobs, families, and retirees.

Everyone is invited to celebrate our community’s birthday on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at Richard Carter Park, located at 1800 Brazoswood Drive. The event will take place, rain or shine. Local organizations will have booths, activities, and tours for all ages that will focus on historic preservation, community service, and education.

Organizations joining the City of College Station include the College Station Historic Preservation Committee, A&M Garden Club, Daughters of the American Revolution: La Villita Chapter, Monarch Gateway, Texas Master Naturalist: Brazos Valley Chapter, Brazos Heritage Society, Texas Research Ramblers Genealogical Society, Wreaths Across America, and the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley.

Richard Carter Park is the homestead site of College Station’s earliest settler and was designated as an official state historical site in 1984. Carter’s original land grant from the Mexican government consisted of 4,428 acres and covered most of what College Station is today.

The park features an interpretive center with displays and a reconstruction of the original water well. A bronze sculpture by Albert Pedulla was installed in 1986 and symbolizes the staking of the claim by Carter, which resulted in the settlement of College Station and the Brazos Valley.

In 1991, the graves of Carter, his wife, and family members were relocated to the park from a nearby site.

Learn more about the anniversary celebration and College Station’s history at cstx.gov/heritage.

 


About the Blogger

Marketing Manager Lacey Lively has been with the City of College Station’s Public Communications Office since 2011. She previously worked as an internet marketing consultant for the Bryan-College Station Eagle and as a web designer. A native of Beaumont, Lacey earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism and communications from Texas A&M in 2009.


 

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Fall Fest offers fun way for seniors to socialize

By Hallie Hutchins, Parks & Recreation Marketing Assistant

With leaves changing colors and temperatures cooling, fall is in the air, and the annual Senior Fall Fest is just around the corner. What started as a simple idea for a fall picnic has turned into one of the fall season’s most anticipated events for senior adults.

In 2007, a group of older adults noticed that many friends were spending too much time alone at home. They wanted to find a fun way to get those folks out of the house and socializing again.

The City of College Station Parks & Recreation Department and the Senior Advisory Committee collaborated, and Senior Fall Fest — a social picnic just for seniors — was born. For more than a decade, hundreds of adults 55 years and older have gathered to enjoy an evening of dancing, door prizes, fellowship, and fun.

Seniors are invited to bring friends to join the free celebration from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the American Pavilion at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. Fall Fest will begin with a welcome from the Brazos Valley Council of Government’s Ronnie Gipson, followed by Chaplin Gary Roe leading a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Fuddruckers hamburgers will be served, along with a classic cake walk with desserts donated by Senior Fall Fest sponsors. The event also features door prizes and entertainment by the Lil Aggie Wranglers, the local senior line dancing group Rhythm Rockers, and music by Gene Woodell.

Participants are encouraged to wear costumes with prizes awarded for best dressed. Registration is not required. For more information visit cstx.gov/seniors or call 979-764-6351.

We offer a special thanks to our Senior Fall Fest sponsors: Angels Care Home Health, Accel at College Station, Bluebonnet Place Assisted Living Community, Brazos Valley Area Agency on Aging, Caring Transitions of Brazos Valley, CHI St. Joseph Health Mature Well Lifestyle Center, CHI St. Joseph Health Rehabilitation Hospital an affiliate of Encompass Health College Station Medical Center, Comfort Keepers, Commerce National Bank, Compassionate Care Hospice, Franklin Nursing Home, H-E-B, HealthQuest Home Health, Hillier Funeral Home, Hospice Brazos Valley, Isle at Watercrest Bryan, LULAC Oak Hill, Parc at Traditions, Pathways Hospice, Right at Home: In-Home Care & Assistance, Rock Prairie Behavioral Health, Signature Select Services, Texas Home Health Hospice, United Health Care, and Visiting Angels.

 


About the Blogger

Hallie Hutchins is in her fourth year as marketing staff assistant in the Parks & Recreation Department after graduating from Texas A&M in 2014 with a degree in sports management. She has previously worked with the Dallas Sidekicks professional soccer team and Texas Team Junior Golf. Originally from White Oak, Hallie also attended Kilgore College and was a member of the famed Kilgore Rangerettes dance team.


 

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Special Olympics Fall Classic set for Thursday-Saturday

UPDATE (10/16): The outdoor activities — including bocce, golf, and softball —  have been canceled due to field conditions and safety concerns. The aquatics competition will take place as planned, but Healthy Athletes and Athlete Village are also canceled. Thursday’s registration has been moved to the Courtyard Marriott at 3939 State Highway 6 South from 4-7 p.m. Friday’s opening ceremonies and celebration dance will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Brazos Center at 3232 Briarcrest Drive in Bryan.

By Samantha Perez, Parks & Recreation Event Specialist

I miss two things from grade school – sports and Best Buddies. I met some close friends through sports, but I made one of my best friends through Best Buddies.

Best Buddies is a volunteer organization that creates employment, leadership skills, and other opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Special Olympics Texas is also dear to me. My passion for encouraging and empowering individuals with IDD led me to join Aggie Special Olympics Texas Volunteers while attending Texas A&M. Special Olympics Texas continues to provide annual opportunities for those with IDD to experience joy, physical fitness, and friendship through friendly competition.

The City of College Station will host the Special Olympics Fall Classic Thursday through Sunday at venues across our community. Athletes from across the state will travel to College Station to compete in bocce, golf, softball, and aquatics. We’ve hosted the event since 2012.

You are invited to support Special Olympics Texas and celebrate a night of inclusive fun at Friday’s opening ceremonies. The event is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex, but the location could change depending on the weather.

Check sotx.org for updates or text “fallclassic” to 888777 for weather alerts and relevant news.

For more information or to volunteer for the event, go to sotx.org. If you are interested in hosting a carnival booth or providing a fun activity for the athletes, contact Molly Kuchar at mkuchar@sotx.org.

 


About the Blogger

Parks & Recreation Events Specialist Samantha Perez is in her second year with the City of College Station. She previously worked for the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce and the Texas A&M Athletics Department. A native of Houston, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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We share responsibility for effective cybersecurity

By Neil Black, IT Network Analyst, and Xiaoying Hu, Chief Information Security Officer 

A recent study at USC Annenberg found that Americans spend an average of 24 hours a week online. In a university town such as College Station, the hours spent online are likely even greater.

So are the risks.

As more people use the internet for online shopping, banking, financial management, and socializing, they also expose themselves to increased cyber risks. Online threats and cyber-attacks threaten our national and economic security.

The City of College Station is joining with the Department of Homeland Security to raise cybersecurity awareness during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month throughout October.

Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups, or individuals. Everyone shares the responsibility for cybersecurity – from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO.

Here are some basic steps you can take today to reduce the risk of a cyberattack.

Manage your password

Pick strong passwords for all your devices and don’t share them with anyone. In addition, never send a plain text password by email, instant message, or any other means that isn’t reliably secure.

You should also avoid entering your password on any device if you’re not sure the device is secure. Finally, don’t store your password on the device it’s designed to protect.

Be wary of phishing

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals use email messages, websites, and phone calls that appear to be from a legitimate organization to ask you for sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information.

About 156 million phishing emails are sent globally every day. The damage caused ranges from losing email access to substantial financial loss.

If you suspect a phishing email is in your inbox, don’t open it, don’t download attachments, don’t reply, and never click links.

Protect your online life

If a website, email, or text seems suspicious, be wary and don’t click any links they may contain. The links or attachments could contain malware. The best thing to do it to delete these messages immediately.

Your personal information is your property. Be leery of unsolicited contact from individuals seeking personal information, and don’t provide personal information or passwords by email or phone. Pay close attention to website URLs that use variations in spelling or unusual domains. To verify the authenticity of a request, contact the company directly.

If possible, you should use an internet firewall at home to keep cyber intruders out of your personal information. It’s also a good idea to update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.

Secure your mobile device

Hackers want to use your mobile device as a gateway to you or your organization’s data. The content and contacts stored on your mobile device are the types of data cyberattackers need to hack into your accounts or company network.

Here are four easy ways to secure your mobile device:

  1. Update the security software regularly.
  2. Update your apps routinely, delete unneeded apps, and download apps only from trusted sources after checking reviews. You should configure app permissions immediately after downloading.
  3. Secure your devices with passcodes or other strong authentication such as fingerprint recognition.
  4. Turn off discovery mode and activate “find device” and “remote wipe.”

Free Wi-Fi really isn’t free, so make sure you’re connecting to a legitimate Wi-Fi hotspot. Your device will typically pick up the strongest signal, which could be a rogue Wi-Fi that seems reliable but is actually an attacker waiting to monitor, intercept, or even alter communications from your device.

Learn more about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and how to protect yourself from threats online at dhs.gov/ncsam.

 


About the Bloggers

Network Systems Analyst Neil Black has been with the City of College Station’s IT Department since 1997. A native of Houston, Neil studied business management at Texas A&M.

Information Security Officer Xiaoying Hu has been with the IT Department since September. She previously worked for the City of Houston.


 

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A closer look at the proposed city charter amendments

By Tanya Smith, City Secretary

If you plan to vote in the November election, you probably have a pretty good idea about how you are voting to fill national, state and local offices, but you may not have thoroughly examined the proposed changes to College Station’s City Charter.

In April, the city council asked the city attorney and city secretary to review the charter and propose changes. After discussion and debate, the council unanimously voted to add five propositions to the November ballot.

If you wait until you vote, you may find the ballot language a bit confusing, so it’s important to know what you are voting for – or against – before you head to your voting place.

Let’s take a closer look at each proposition and what it means to vote for or against it.

Proposition No. 1: Expansion of Council Terms

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 17 (Number, Selection, Term) of the College Station City Charter be amended to provide for the regular election of the Mayor and City Council Members to be held in even-numbered years, for four (4) year term lengths for the Mayor and Council Members, and that the Mayor and Council Members be eligible to serve consecutive regular terms totaling no more than eight (8) years?

If you vote FOR the amendment, it means you want the terms of offices for the mayor and city council members to change from three to four-year terms. The term limit would also expand from six to eight years.

Voting for this proposition also allows city elections to remain in November, but elections would only be conducted in even-numbered years. If this proposition carries, the next general election for the council and mayor would still take place in November 2019 to keep the terms staggered.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, it means you want the mayor and council members to continue serving three-year terms with term limits of six consecutive years. You also want elections every November.

Proposition No. 2: City Attorney’s Residency

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 29 (City Attorney) of the College Station City Charter be amended to permit the City Attorney to reside either within the City or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want to allow the city attorney to live within the city limits or its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), which extends five miles past the city limits. If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want to require the city attorney to live only within the city limits.

Proposition No. 3: Mandatory City Internal Auditor

Shall Article III (The City Council), Section 30 (City Internal Auditor) of the College Station City Charter be amended to make the appointment of the City Internal Auditor mandatory and to remove the reference to contracting for the duties of City Internal Auditor?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want the appointment of an internal city auditor to be mandatory.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want the city council to have the authority to either appoint an internal auditor, hire an outside firm to fulfill those duties, or leave the position vacant.

Proposition No. 4: City Manager’s Residency

Shall Article IV (The City Manager), Section 40 (Qualifications) of the College Station City Charter be amended to permit the City Manager to reside either within the City or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City?

If you vote FOR the amendment, you want to allow the city manager to live within the city limits or its ETJ, which extends five miles past the city limits.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, you want to require the city manager to live only within the city limits.

Proposition No. 5: Competitive Purchasing Notices

Shall Article VII (Finance Administration), Section 68 (Contracts for Improvements) of the College Station City Charter be amended to allow the City to determine by ordinance the methods to be used to satisfy notice requirements for competitive purchasing?

If you vote FOR the amendment, then you want language permitting the city to specify the method of notice for competitive bids and competitive proposals to be set by ordinance to the extent allowed by state law. This change would allow – but not require – the council to adopt an ordinance providing for alternative methods of publicizing notice of bids and proposals.

If you vote AGAINST the amendment, then you want notice of the time and place that competitive bids are publicly opened to be published at least weekly for two consecutive weeks in the newspaper with no alternative method of public notice per state law.

Don’t Miss the Bottom of the Ballot!

When you vote, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the ballot to participate in your local elections. Since municipal elections are non-partisan, a straight-party vote will not include these critical items. You must vote for these issues separately.

Election Day is Nov. 6. Early voting starts Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2.

For complete voter information, go to cstx.gov/elections or brazosvotes.org.

 


About the Blogger

A certified Texas municipal clerk, Tanya Smith is in her second year as College Station’s city secretary after serving 10 years as deputy city secretary. She was city secretary in Madisonville from 1998-2008.


 

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Can you imagine a day without water?

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Think a moment about your typical morning routine.

You wake up and make a steaming cup of fresh coffee or tea before heading to the toilet and the shower. After you get dressed in freshly washed clothes, you eat a nutritious breakfast and clean your dishes in the dishwasher or sink.

Of course, you make your dentist happy by brushing your teeth.

Now, imagine for a moment that you had no water. None of your morning activities would be possible without safe and reliable water and the infrastructure that delivers it to your home.

If you’ve never gone without water, it’s almost impossible to envision a day without it. Your water service may have temporarily been shut off to repair a leak, but you had full confidence that the water would soon flow again.

Today is the fourth annual Imagine a Day Without Water, a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. The Value of Water Campaign is helping hundreds of organizations across the country host events and spearhead projects aimed at raising awareness about the crucial need for investing in our nation’s water infrastructure.

After decades of underfunding, water infrastructure across the nation has aged and needs replacement or significant repairs. Drought, flooding, and population changes have dramatically increased the stress on our water and wastewater systems.

According to the Value of Water Campaign’s report on The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure, a one-day disruption in water services at a national level would result in a $43.5 billion loss in sales for businesses. In just eight days, a national water service stoppage would put nearly two million jobs in jeopardy.

In contrast, for each job created in the water sector, 3.68 jobs are added to the national economy. For every $1 spent on infrastructure improvements, the United States generates $6 in economic returns. That’s a sound investment.

It’s not all gloom and doom. College Station’s water and wastewater systems are young compared to many cities. For the most part, we’ve been able to stay ahead of our infrastructure needs. Each day – including weekends and holidays – our Water Services employees maintain 454 miles of water lines, 363 miles of wastewater lines, nine groundwater wells, and three wastewater treatment plants.

City councils and community leaders through the years have recognized that water is essential to the quality of life and economic competitiveness and have supported the water and wastewater rates necessary to maintain award-winning water and wastewater systems.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Karl Mooney read an official proclamation (at right) for Imagine a Day Without Water to draw attention to the many ways we maintain critical water and wastewater infrastructure.

How you can help

No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves safe, reliable, and accessible water.

You can help by conserving water. Since irrigation water gushing down the street benefits no one, sign up for landscape watering recommendations from Brazos Valley WaterSmart. Every gallon of water saved is a gallon left in the Simsboro Aquifer for later use.

You can also help keep our waterways clean by avoiding over-fertilizing, picking up litter, and disposing of hazardous waste at Household Hazardous Waste collection events like the one scheduled for Oct. 20. Improperly discarded fertilizer, motor oil, and litter make its way into our creeks, which feed into the Navasota and Brazos Rivers – and someone is drinking that water downstream.

A groundswell of communities and partners have come together to promote safe and reliable water systems with Imagine a Day Without Water. We can make a difference by leveraging our collective power, educating our decision-makers, and inspiring our communities to make water infrastructure a priority.

Let’s invest in our water systems, so no American ever has to live a day without water.

 


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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