Local News Headlines–7/11/2013

The historic LaSalle Hotel in downtown Bryan has a new owner.  City officials have announced the sale to local developer Paul Clark’s Hospitality Group. The $2.6-million sale price allows the city to pay off its current loan. And returning the LaSalle to private hands means property tax revenue for the city, county, and school district.  The hotel was purchased in 1996 then renovated as part of downtown revitalization efforts. The city took out a $3.2-million loan that was matched by over $1-million in historic tax credit equity and almost $2-million in bank financing.  After more than 20 years of being vacant, the 55 room hotel reopened in September 2000. Ten years later there was a $638,000 facelift.  While the city owned the property, a private management firm was hired to run the LaSalle.  Each of the last two years, the city received more than $125,000 from hotel operations.

For ten years, local government officials have been pursuing high speed passenger rail service through Bryan-College Station. A consultant reported this week it’s more likely the route will be between Houston and Dallas.  College Station Mayor Nancy Berry says the city spent $280,000 on the recruitment effort before ending payments two years ago. But, Brazos County Commissioner Kenny Mallard continues to lobby for the local connection.  Mallard compares this to the opportunity 60 years ago to have Interstate 45.  Mallard says the Central Japan Railroad Company, which has an office in Houston, continues to study where to build a bullet train that carries up to 1,000 passengers at 300 miles per hour.

And, a Houston woman who lost her campaign for A&M yell leader has entered a plea agreement in a BrazosCounty criminal case.  21-year-old Samantha Ketcham, who was arrested in May of last year accused of stealing two bicycles owned by University Police, agreed to be placed on what’s called deferred adjudication.  If she successfully completes one year probation, which includes performing 60 hours of community service, she will not be convicted of misdemeanor theft.