Local News Headlines–10/23/2014

A Bryan man was shot and killed during a disturbance early Wednesday morning at a north side Bryan home. The victim was identified as 22-year-old Detorrian Peterson.  Police are still looking for three black men who left a home in the 29-hundred block of Louisiana that Officer Kelley McKethan says the victim shared with two others. McKethan says Peterson’s roommates have been interviewed by investigators and the cause of the disturbance has not been determined.

Future capital improvement projects in Bryan was among the topics covered at last night’s candidates’ forum by those wanting to take over the seat in single member district four. Capital improvement priorities for Mike Southerland include projects in Districts One and Two while balancing that with the rest of the city. Southerland says there are areas in north Bryan where children have to walk to school where there are ditches on both sides of the streets and the road is the only place to walk.  Kyle Incardona says he’s not in favor of handing over C-I-P money to another district. Early voting for the November 4th election has already begun.

For the second time in as many months, Governor Rick Perry has visited the biocorridor. Before touring Texas A&M’s Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, he announced the federal government has asked Texas A&M officials to submit a proposal to manufacture one of the most promising new drugs to treat victims of Ebola. If selected, the center is prepared to take action immediately to produce Z-Mapp for clinical trials or experimental therapy.

And, the Parent-Teacher Organization at Oakwood Intermediate School in College Station has found a sticky way to raise money for technology purchases at the school. Principal Jeff Mann has been persuaded to be stuck to the wall with duct tape during tonight’s fall festival. P-T-O member Miranda Crisone says one dollar strips of duct tape go on sale starting at 6:30. Crisone says Mann turned down the P-T-O’s original idea of shaving off his mustache.

Local News Headlines–10/22/2014

The Blinn College board of trustees will hire a search firm to help recruit the next district president. Spokesman Richard Bray says the board will collect requests for proposals and possibly make a selection at next month’s meeting. Blinn is looking for its third district president in the past six years. Almost a month ago, Harold Nolte announced he is retiring effective January 31st of next year.  Trustees have not announced interim leadership after Doctor Nolte retires.

The Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce reminds voters to check out tonight’s candidates’ forum for local city council and school board races.  The Chamber’s Burl Haigwood says tonight’s program goes from 6 until 8 at the Bush Library. Haigwood also says the Chamber has given its support for Proposition one, the proposed state constitutional amendment increasing highway funding.

And, a Texas view of how the Internet should be regulated in the future was the primary purpose for a visit in College Station yesterday by F-C-C Commissioner Ajit Pai.  Pai moderated a forum at the Bush School to get public input on what role the FCC should play in regulating the future of the Internet. Pai says he wants to preserve the competition in the private sector and giving it the incentives to grow future opportunities. Pai says he wants to preserve Internet competition and give the private sector the incentive to invest in the networks of tomorrow. Pai says in Europe, where there are more regulations compared to the United States, there is less investment. Pai says he chose the Bush Library to host his first net neutrality panel discussion outside of Washington in part because President George H.W. Bush was model of a public official.

Local News Headlines–10/21/2014

The College Station city council has given the green light to build new gateway signs. Councilmembers James Benham and Julie Schultz told Blanche Brick they favored replacing the three currently existing signs.  No decisions were made on additional locations for signage similar to what’s been built in recent years in Navasota and Caldwell among other places. Staff was directed to get more information into placement and costs and the council was told the cost of Navasota’s two signs totaled about $140,000. The council was also told one location new signage won’t go is the new Rock Prairie Road bridge over the freeway. That’s due to new rules recently adopted by the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Bryan City Council with little discussion has unanimously agreed to look into buying the former Texas Department of Transportation district complex. District engineer Catherine Hejl says the 11 acres of buildings and grounds have been maintained since they moved almost two-and-a-half years ago.  Hejl says a market appraisal was recently completed that determined the $1.4-million selling price. Old equipment that will eventually be sold is currently stored there and local law enforcement has used the campus for training. Hejl says the money made from the sale will be returned to the state’s general fund. The city council was also told their unanimous vote allows staff to check out the condition of the buildings and grounds and does not commit them to a purchase.

And, the start of early voting includes a reminder to work through the entire ballot.  Bryan city secretary Mary Lynne Stratta says to remember there are also state constitutional amendments on the ballot. In Bryan there are also proposed amendments to the city charter and Bryan I-S-D voters will be casting a ballot on a $132-million bond package. The last day of early voting for the November 4th election is Friday, October 31st. And, voters are invited to attend the local candidates’ forum Wednesday night at 6 at the Bush Library.

Local News Headlines–10/20/2014

The Brazos County Health Department is preparing for Ebola. The local health department is receiving calls from concerned residents about Ebola coming to the Brazos Valley. Brazos County Alternate Health Authority, Doctor Seth Sullivan says those carrying the virus are not contagious until they become very sick and people should not be afraid to travel. Local health authorities say preventing Ebola is as easy as preventing a cold. Wash hands often and use alcohol based hand sanitizer often. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Mike Paulus says they have to anticipate that many people will be involved if Ebola occurs in Brazos County. Paulus said they have briefed the local police departments and will reach out to other large organizations that could be affected such as school districts. He said the one protocol they have changed is to use a wet sanitation process.

The Texas A&M student who had ingested some form of cyanide last Wednesday has died. University officials identified the student as 20-year-old Christian Amadeus Taylor. University police lieutenant Allan Baron says they’re waiting for the results of toxicology reports as part of their ongoing investigation. Taylor was a senior biochemistry major from Killeen.

And, a career College Station policeman is now the chief. Scott McCollum has been with the department since 1985, and has served as interim chief three times. McCollum has been an assistant chief since 2001 and is being sworn in this afternoon at city hall.

Local News Headlines–10/17/2014

What is normally routine, the annual appointment of volunteers to advisory boards, wasn’t so ordinary at this week’s Bryan city council meeting. A portion of the council’s Tuesday afternoon workshop was spent recommending candidates. Before the council started taking final action Tuesday night, City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta announced one applicant was no longer interested in serving. Sandy Zavala withdrew her name from her nomination to the joint relief funding committee and all committees. Mayor Jason Bienski, who had nominated Zavala that afternoon, learned  that she is the mother of Rafael Pena, someone who has publicly endorsed the proposed charter amendment banning relatives of council members from volunteer or paid city positions. There were also more applicants than openings on the parks and recreation board. Six were interested in four positions. Pena and Al Saenz were part of a unanimous vote for a member who had sought reappointment and for not considering former councilman Richard Cortez because he serves on four other city boards. But, Pena and Saenz did not support the majority’s selections of three new members.

Education through entertainment is one way to describe the Brazos Valley Fair, which starts today. The fair’s Fiona Meyer says the educational focus is on agriculture with proceeds go towards college scholarships. This is the third Brazos Valley Fair and the first time the three-day fair is running in mid-October. Meyer also says expanded parking at the Expo Center means there’s no need for shuttle service this year. More information is online at www.brazosvalleyfair.com.

And, the city of College Station has announced street work today at three locations. There will be work along FM 2818 at the intersections of Holleman and Rio Grande that will result in lane closures and/or brief shutdowns. Motorists who use Munson will need to find another route because the block between University Oaks and Harvey will be closed for repaving. As for the bumpiest stretch of Munson, between Dominik and Lincoln, the city council is scheduled to consider a design contract at their next meeting. Construction could start a year from now on what is budgeted as a $2.6- million  replacement of the street and water and sewer lines.

Local News Headlines–10/16/2014

Local authorities descended on the Texas A&M campus Tuesday afternoon to the report of a student who became unconscious after swallowing something. University police lieutenant Allan Baron says this was near the Rudder complex, between the fountain and the statue.  It is believed the student swallowed some sodium cyanide, which can be fatal.  Because of the toxic nature of sodium cyanide, emergency responders wore hazmat suits and 12 people who came into contact with the victim went through a decontamination process.  The 20-year-old man was taken to a local hospital. Circumstances of the incident remain under investigation.

A Bryan based company will be expanding and relocating to the downtown area. Otis Instruments, which manufactures gas detection equipment for the energy industry, has reached an agreement to purchase the former police department building, renovated but never used as a city hall annex, at 29th and Texas. Company president Wayne Carroll says they looked at several options.  Carroll expects to add two or three new positions with the move then bring on a few more later in 2015.  Otis has a current employment of nearly 50.  Deputy City Manager Joey Dunn considers it a win-win situation.  Dunn says the building, vacant the last five years, no longer fits any current expansion plans.  The city council has authorized the mayor the executive the sales agreement, which Dunn says may happen in the next week. The purchase price has not been finalized. Dunn says proceeds from the sale can be spent on city building purchases and repairs.

And, two brothers sleeping on the second floor of their College Station apartment couldn’t escape a fire early this morning by going down the stairs.  The two brothers jumped out of a second floor window to escape the blaze.  Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Smith says the brothers were taken to College Station Medical Center for treatment of cuts on their arms and legs. The family dog died in the fire.  Smith says the cause of the fire at the Bee Creek apartments was an electric stove which had been left turned on. Smith says a firewall kept the fire from spreading to a neighboring unit but there was still enough damage that those occupants were displaced. There was not a smoke detector in the apartment where the fire started.

Local News Headlines–10/15/2014

Two months after it was first detected in mosquitoes, West Nile has made its way to humans in Brazos County. A press release from the health department said the Texas Department of State Health services confirmed the first human case in two years yesterday. The health department said the case is being treated as West Nile Fever because there are no signs that it is present in the victim’s brain.  West Nile was first detected in mosquitoes at the Texas A&M golf course in mid-August this year.

Bryan city council members and staff took five hours yesterday reviewing the city’s list of 150 capital improvement projects totaling $350-million. Before settling down to hear about more than one hundred future projects involving among other things streets, sidewalks, and drainage improvements, Al Saenz responded to a statement by Art Hughes that the council needs to do what’s best for the city as a whole.  Saenz stood up and accused the council majority of demonstrating what he called “hostility and contempt for residents and voters in single member districts one and two.  Chuck Konderla told Saenz and Rafael Pena that more than two-thirds of the funded projects are in their districts.  City manager Kean Register says at current funding levels, which is about $7-million every two years, that it would take 100 years to complete the list as it stands now. How projects are rated was explained and no one asked to change the process. Most members asked to switch priorities within their district. Staff will come back with what will have to be dropped.

There’s little new information in the continuing search for the next president of Texas A&M. Faculty Senate speaker Jim Woolsey says he met with the system chancellor last week.  Woolsey was told some excellent candidates have applied.  Woolsey also said two search firms hired by the system will continue their recruiting until the first of the year, which is when he expects any objective decisions to be made. The chancellor released no names.

And, with Halloween two weeks away, remember to plan for your pets. Leiha White at Aggieland Humane Society says that includes how your pets will react to your costumes.  White also says if you’re planning to put a costume on your pet, that’s like adding a second coat. And, make sure candy is kept out of reach.  White says there are more emergency trips to the vet around Halloween due to eating costumes and candy.  The humane society will hold a special “Howloween” event the evening of October 31st.

Local News Headlines–10/14/2014

A new report shows each day last year, Brazos County gained 23 new residents.  The Texas Association of Realtors annual relocation report shows Brazos County was second in the state in the net number of new residents last year at nearly 8,600. All but one thousand moved to Brazos County from within the state.  Texas remained number one in the country in people relocating from other states, and we’re number three for those leaving to another state. The net number statewide is 138,000 or 378 each day.

Saturday night’s post-game traffic leaving Kyle Field was aggravated further due to a motorist who died behind the wheel. College Station police lieutenant Chuck Fleeger says this was shortly after 11 pm Saturday night on FM 2818 near George Bush Drive.  A Houston man on his way home from Kyle Field went into medical distress while driving down the road.  Fleeger says nearby motorists started C-P-R before the driver was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  This incident along with a crash on the FM 60 bridge over 2818 further delayed traffic leaving Saturday night’s Texas A&M football game.

And, the week after next, there will be public meetings in Bryan and Huntsville to gather opinions about the alignment of a $10-billion 200 mile an hour high speed passenger train between Houston and Dallas. The president of the Texas Central Railway, Robert Eckels, says the initial route is east of Bryan/College Station along or next to existing rights of way.  Eckels expects at some point there will be a station to shuttle rail passengers to and from Bryan and College Station.  There had been local support for high speed rail between Dallas and San Antonio with a connector between Temple and B-CS nicknamed the Texas T-Bone. Among the proponents, retired Easterwood Airport director John Happ, noted the support has waned in recent years.  Eckels says construction of the Japanese financed project could start in 2017. The first electric powered bullet trains, running at speeds of 200 miles per hour, could start running seven years from now.  Public meetings are scheduled for October 27th at the Brazos Center and the 28th at the Veterans Conference Center in Huntsville.

Local News Headlines–10/13/14

Once Kyle Field construction is completed, there could be a transformation north of the stadium.  The Texas A&M System has filed a request for proposals with the state to redevelop 11 acres north of the stadium. Cain Hall, originally an athletics dorm that is now an office building, would be demolished and replaced with a larger office building to the north. Next door would be a 150 room hotel, a 20,000 square foot conference center, and a parking garage no taller than four floors accommodating 1,000 vehicles. The center would be connected to the stadium by a pedestrian bridge over Joe Routt Boulevard. As first reported by KBTX, system officials will meet with prospects next Thursday. The timeline calls for receiving proposals by November 13th and interviewing finalists the week of December 1st.  No date was given for awarding the project or a construction timeline. The developer is responsible for the private financing to build and operate the center as part of leasing the property from the system for no longer than 30 years. After the lease expires, the system takes over ownership of the center.

Today is the first day of the fall warrant amnesty period for those facing court charges in College Station and Brazos County.  For the next two weeks, anyone who has court warrants to resolve in Brazos County or the city of College Station can take of their business without being arrested and without paying the $50 per case warrant fee.  College Station municipal judge Ed Spillane says starting November first, those who fail to pay their fines will be arrested by city marshals, police officers, reserve police officers and constables during the warrant roundup.  Spillane says those wanting to check if they need to take care of business can go online to www.cstx.gov/warrants.

Tomorrow’s Bryan city council meeting includes an agreement with the state to expand Highway 21 between Texas Avenue and the Earl Rudder Freeway. The city’s share of the cost, $640,000, would come from the sewer and water funds as those utilities have to be moved to make room for a center turning lane and paved shoulders. TxDOT says its share comes from a safety grant that has to be spent soon or it has to be returned. City staff was hoping to build sidewalks, but neither the city nor the state has the money for that.

And, it’s been six years since College Station voters approved a bond issue that in part provided money to make University Drive safer in Northgate. Some of the work is done, but negotiations continue to improve University from College Main to South College.  Whatever the city and Texas A&M do, it still requires the state’s approval. Proposed changes include raising the median along University, which would block traffic turning left into the northside parking garage.

Local News Headlines–10/10/2014

There are more than 20 oil and gas wells in College Station. Construction of the next one ran into opposition at last night’s city council meeting before a five to one vote approving the application. Drilling on the first of possibly two fracking wells starts December first off of Cain Road between Wellborn and Holleman. Six speakers during the public hearing raised concerns of increased noise and lights in the populated area. A partner in the well, Mary Jo Hurley of Ogden Resources, says the inconvenience will last about 60 days.  The council majority said the applicant met all the requirements of the current ordinance, though Karl Mooney voted no because the regulations were written before the practice of fracking became popular.  Mooney says he still has concerns over the effects of fracking on the environment.  A review of permit requirements is being done by city staff. The council will take up the application for the second well in two weeks.

A Temple couple is headed to prison and is responsible for paying more than $100,000 in restitution after stealing mail from more than 80 cities throughout central Texas. 29-year-old Kathryn Hubbert and 39-year-old Charles Hattenbach robbed post offices, collection boxes, and parcel lockers between December of last year and March of this year. There were more than 2,000 victims and 50,000 items stolen in an area stretching from Bryan/College Station to Dallas and from San Antonio to Midland including Millican, Washington, Hearne, Navasota, and Brenham.

And, the Texas Department of Transportation has rejected a request to allow a ten foot tall granite memorial where a semi overturned in west Bryan two weeks ago, killing many of the 5,500 chickens headed to a nearby processing plant.  The application came from an Austin woman representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  TxDOT rules do not allow memorials for animals on highway rights of way.  PETA campaign manager Laura Cascada claims it’s not a crazy idea.  Cascada says the memorials are used to encourage people to go vegan.  The proposed PETA memorial contains the message “In memory of the hundreds of terrified chickens who suffered and died on this spot.”  Cascada says PETA has a roadside memorial near Madison, Wisconsin, remembering cattle killed in an accident on the way to slaughter and has asked for similar tombstones in Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, and Kansas.