Local News Headlines–7/1/2013

Last year at Texas A&M, the faculty to student ratio increased from 19 to 1 to 21 to 1.  President Bowen Loftin says admission applications for this year went up by ten percent and the next freshman class will also be larger.  Loftin told university staff recently the freshman class will likely exceed 9,500.  That’s out of more than 34,000 applications.  Loftin says the challenge is making sure the enrollment growth doesn’t prevent students from getting degrees on schedule.

If you missed last Monday’s reminder, here is today’s warning…at least for the 14,000 property owners in BrazosCounty who split this year’s property tax payments.  Midnight is the deadline for the second half payment, and Tax Assessor-Collector Kristy Roe says state law makes that clear.  If you have to go inside the tax office, be prepared to wait in line, possibly outside in the heat.  Payments can be made in the drop box outside the building, online with a convenience fee and in the mail as long as you have today’s postmark.

Caldwell police continue to investigate the death of a former city employee. 63-year-old Bennie King was reported murdered Friday afternoon at his residence on Broadway in Caldwell. 37-year-old Nortorris Deere of Caldwell has been arrested and charged with murder, and is being held in lieu of a $50,000 bond at the Burleson County Jail. Autopsy results are pending.

And, as most U.S. homebuilders feel more optimistic about home sales and construction driving economic growth than they have in the last seven years, in Bryan-College Station, things are especially good.  B-CS Homebuilders Association President Michael Schaefer says strong local homebuilding this year is contributing to continuing low interest rates, and more people are settling here, increasing demand.   Schaefer says over the last couple of years, developments such as A&M joining the SEC, the new hospital, and the bio-corridor have contributed to a boom in construction growth, stimulating the local economy through a multiplier effect that will continue.  Schaefer says the desirability for young families and retirees is increasing, not only from available jobs, amenities, and the location, but the Wall Street Journal and other articles have designated it an affordable place to live.  Schaefer also feels construction costs and demand will increase the property values of older houses by five to seven percent each year for the next couple of years.