Local News Headlines–4/17/2014

This week’s meeting of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate included an update on the search for the university’s next permanent President.  Provost Karan Watson responded to a query from a senator who was wondering what was going on, eight months after a search committee was appointed.  Watson says the committee has started a second round of searching following some interviews.  Three of the seven on the search committee are faculty members.  Doctor Watson says she’s heard from a number of people who are concerned after hearing Board of Regents members suggest making Interim President Mark Hussey the permanent selection. The provost says Doctor Hussey has made it “abundantly clear” that he is only an interim.

Immigration reform is a topic Congressman Bill Flores says he’s hearing about in his district. But he calls it a toxic subject on Capitol Hill.  Flores says that means the Republicans currently do not have enough votes to bring the issue up.  Flores believes there’s enough support to break up immigration reform in several pieces.

And, for five years, Texas A&M students and volunteers have grown produce on west campus at the “Howdy Farm”.  Spokeswoman Jessica Newman says today they will debut a farmers market in Northgate where they and other vendors will be selling locally produced goods.  Homemade breads and house wares will also be for sale along with the produce.  The farmers market will be held today from two until six behind Blackwater Draw on Boyett.  Newman says it’s part of a $45,000 fundraising effort to expand and add features to their sustainable farm on west campus.

Local News Headlines–4/16/2014

The College Station school board took final action last night to hire the district’s next superintendent to succeed Eddie Coulson.  Deputy Superintendent Clark Ealy was received with a standing ovation from the board and audience.  Ealy says it is an honor to be selected to lead 1,600 employees and 12,000 students.  Other unanimous votes included spending $5,000 towards a natatorium feasibility study, and awarding a contract to build what will be called SpringCreekElementary school, which will have a maximum budget of just under $20-million.

Brazos County Commissioners have created a medical doctor’s position. County Judge Duane Peters says part of the position will involve the doctor taking over treatment of inmates from a third party provider. And, commissioners plan on opening an employee health clinic.  Peters says they’re considering no charge for employees, who have a $20 co-pay with the county’s current health plan.  Peters says one possible site for the clinic will be the current tax office, which will move into a new building near University and Boonville Road.

And, Brazos County Sheriff’s officers are investigating another round of thefts from unlocked vehicles.  Chief Deputy Jim Stewart says they received reports from 13 victims on Monday. The latest victims were along Chick Lane near west Bryan and near east Bryan on Old Reliance, Gemstone Drive, and Vintage Hills Drive.  Stewart says all the thieves want is what they can get easily.  Stewart adds in addition to locking vehicles, valuables should be taken inside of homes.

Local News Headlines–4/15/2014

A three hour standoff south of Wellborn yesterday afternoon ended peacefully. Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk says deputies responded to a call from grandparents worried about their safety after their adult grandson after he became agitated, displayed a gun, and went to his home next door after saying he was going to kill himself.  Kirk says the man was talked out of killing himself by a member of the department’s crisis intervention team.  The 22-year-old was taken into custody, where Kirk says there will be a mental health evaluation before deciding if the man will be arrested.  The standoff took place off Straub Road, about one mile west of Wellborn Road. Kirk says deputies removed the grandparents from the property and neighbors were notified by reverse 9-1-1 to stay indoors during the incident.

There’s no opposition among members of the College Station city council to change regulations on rental housing. No date has been set to take a vote on proposals developed over the last three months with input from neighborhood residents and the owners of rental properties.  The proposal calls for fines of up to $2,000 for having more than four unrelated occupants. Jeffrey Leatherwood was one of two property managers at the meeting calling for a much more expensive penalty. Property manager Casey Oldham is opposed to providing the city with copies of all rental leases and supplying notarized affidavits containing names of renters.  Other recommendations to the council included increasing the number of code enforcement officers.

And, by the end of the summer, BrazosCounty residents wanting to know how much water to put on their lawns can get an e-mail with that information. It’s part of a joint project funded by the Brazos County Groundwater Conservation District, AgriLife Extension, and the U-S Geological Survey.  Representatives were at the last College Station city council meeting.  Water Services Director Dave Coleman says the goal is to prevent overwatering.  Coleman says the idea is to add rain gauges that will be tied into a reporting station.  He says the network could be operating by the end of the summer.  The council approved receiving a grant from the groundwater district, which will create the website where users can register to receive the e-mail notifications.

Local News Headlines–4/14/2014

Authorities are still looking for the person who shot a man in the parking lot of a convenience store north of downtown Bryan Friday afternoon.   Officer Kelley McKethan says this was a targeted shooting outside the King Mart on East M-L-K.  Investigators found the suspect’s car and it’s not known if anyone else was involved in the incident.  McKethan says the 32-year-old male victim walked about a half block to a home, where he was taken to St. Joseph’s for treatment of non-life threatening injuries from a single gunshot wound. Police did arrest a bystander on charges of swearing in earshot of children, attempting to discourage witnesses from speaking, and spitting into an officer’s face.

The College Station school board has received a recommendation for naming the district’s new elementary school the ninth in the school district.  Superintendent Eddie Coulson says the board will consider the name Spring Creek elementary at tomorrow night’s meeting. Spring Creek is located on the site of the new elementary in south College Station.  The recommendation follows district policy on naming schools based on geography…like Creekview, which borders Lick Creek, and Greens Prairie, which is located on Greens Prairie Trail.

A divided Bryan city council approved making an exception to homebuilding regulations requiring sidewalks on both sides of the street.  The four to two vote supported the developer’s offer to build a ten-foot wide path connecting Austin’s ColonyPark and a park next to Sam Rayburn school. Developer Grant Carraba wanted a sidewalk on one side of low volume streets in 88 acres of new homes located in the Austin’s Colony subdivision.  No one on the council suggested the city pay to build the path and keep sidewalks on both sides of the looped streets.

And, a 12-year deal has been announced to operate concessions at the home of the 12th Man. Levy Restaurants of Chicago runs concessions at Wrigley Field, Miami’s American Airlines Arena, and the StaplesCenter in Los Angeles. A&M will receive $18-million in bonuses and advance commissions and Levy will make nearly $2-million in capital investments. The total amount of revenue that’s expected was not announced, nor was the status of university employees and volunteer organizations that have operated concessions at Kyle Field, Reed Arena, and Olsen Field.

Local News Headlines–4/11/2014

The 12th Man Foundation at Texas A&M has established a memorial scholarship honoring the woman killed in an explosion and fire at her Bryan home. Noel Devin, class of 2004, was the Foundation’s ticket center Associate Vice-President of Resource Management. Devin and her father died early Monday morning. A Madisonville man is jailed in connection with the incident on charges of arson, burglary, and unauthorized use of Devin’s S-U-V.

The College Station city council has approved a request from the Convention and Visitors Bureau to award more grants with money from the hotel occupancy tax.  James Benham was part of the unanimous vote.  Benham argued that the money should be used immediately and completely instead of letting it sit in a bank collecting only .01 percent interest.  Added to unspent funds, $59,000 will go to 12 events through mid-July that will have a projected economic impact of $10-million.

Multiple units at a College Station storage center have been broken into, and police have limited information to go on. Officials say eight storage units were discovered with their locks cut off at the Longmire Self Storage on Wednesday, and security cameras had been disabled. Two lease-holders told police no property is missing. Police say until all the individual renters are contacted, they won’t know if any property has been taken.

And, a dedication tomorrow of the newest historical marker in BrazosCounty is open to the public. Historical commission chairman Henry Mayo says the marker, at the Bryan city cemetery, recognizes 161 Confederate veterans who were instrumental in the development of Bryan. The dedication program tomorrow morning at 11 starts at the Astin chapel and will process to the marker at the front of the cemetery. Mayo says the ceremony will follow the annual memorial service by the United Daughters of the Confederacy heritage group, which will start at 10:30.

Local News Headlines–4/10/2014

Bryan Police have confirmed the identities of two persons who died following an explosion and fire at a home near Texas and Carson.  The medical examiners office has positively identified the victims as 32-year-old Noel Devin, who resided at the house on Vinewood, and her father, 63-year-old Thomas “Mac” Devin of College Station.  A Madisonville man previously arrested for unauthorized use of Noel Devin’s S-U-V, 34-year-old Dennis Wayne Brown the third, now faces burglary and arson charges. Brown remains jailed as his bond was raised to $1.15-million. A statement from Bryan Police Chief Eric Buske says they are not actively seeking additional suspects.  According to the arrest report, investigators found fuel soaked rags throughout the house along with a jug of gasoline in the recovered S-U-V, which was parked at a north Bryan motel where Brown was found. The arrest report did not contain any information about a motive for the burglary and fire which began as an explosion.  Investigators were told Noel Devin had spent the weekend with friends at Chilifest and her father was there to return his daughter’s dog.

The new organizers of the Texas Reds Festival are looking to keep those who will attend this year in downtown Bryan longer. The director of the Downtown Bryan Association, Sandy Farris, told the city council this week they have dropped headline entertainment in favor of two stages with local and regional acts.  Farris also says they continue to include downtown business owners in the decision making process.  And, the events manager for the Downtown Bryan Association, Amanda Reynolds, says the festival area won’t be as large as in the past.  There was no feedback from the council on a request to spend $127,000 to cover expenses that have to be paid in the next couple of months.  The festival will be held the last weekend in September.

And, this weekend’s parent’s weekend at A&M has several changes.  One involves Sunday’s Kyle Field Day, which has moved to Olsen Field due to construction.  Spokeswoman Rachel Rosenberg says those on and off campus are invited to check out the work of more than 50 organizations.  The free event is Sunday afternoon from noon until 4, again at Olsen Field.  Also moved from Kyle Field is midnight yell practice, which will be held at the Arts and Humanities building amphitheater.  Another change for parent’s weekend for the first time is holding several awards presentations instead of just one program.

Local News Headlines–4/9/2014

A Madisonville man is in jail, accused of not having permission to take a S-U-V from the scene of a Bryan home that was destroyed by an explosion, leaving two bodies in the remains.  According to the arrest report, Bryan police are still waiting for the medical examiners office to confirm the identities of the victims. In the arrest report, investigators and family members believe they are a woman and her father, Noel Devin and Thomas Devin.  Held on bond of $150,000 is 34-year-old Dennis Wayne Brown the Third.  He was found in a north Bryan motel room 15 hours after the fire, with the woman’s S-U-V parked outside and officers looking through a window seeing what they believed to be the keys on Brown’s bed. The arrest report noted state and local fire investigators found undisclosed evidence of arson. No motive has been determined.

The intersection of Wellborn and Rock Prairie Roads was blocked for nearly three hours yesterday following a crash. Witnesses told College Station Police a southbound cement truck ran a red light. The truck driver, attempting to avoid striking crossing traffic, swerved into the northbound lane. That caused the truck to roll onto its side. The truck then slid and struck a northbound van. Both drivers were treated at the scene for non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the cement truck was ticketed for disregarding the red light.

And, the Bryan city council has voted against adding proposed changes to the city charter in this November’s election.  Ann Horton’s vote came after hearing recommendations from the city attorney.  The city attorney recommended against placing the charter questions on the ballot.  Rafael Pena repeated his call from two weeks ago to let voters decide.  Also, Chuck Konderla said supporting such a ban would violate both the U.S. and the Texas Constitutions.  The defeat, by a four to two vote, means supporters of three changes to the charter have until July first to collect enough signatures to have about 1,400 certified for the election.

Local News Headlines–4/8/2014

Authorities are still looking for answers from a house fire in Bryan yesterday morning.  Police officer Kelley McKethan says after firefighters got the fire under control, investigators went inside and found two bodies.  The bodies in the home located on Vinewood, behind the Wal Mart neighborhood market near Texas and Carson, have been identified as daughter and father Noel Devin and Thomas Devin.  A vehicle associated with the address was found unoccupied last night at a motel on Highway 21 in Bryan.  34-year-old Dennis Wayne Brown was arrested in connection with the missing S-U-V.  The fire department has determined that the likely cause of the fire is arson.

The idea of an indoor aquatic center serving the twin cities was presented to the Bryan school board yesterday. Trustees took no action on a request to contribute $5,000 towards a feasibility study sought by the convention and visitors bureau. College Station city councilman Karl Mooney, a member of the c-v-b board, says the Houston Y-M-C-A is interested in operating a multi use facility that would include a natatorium. Mooney told school board member John Street that operation and maintenance costs would be paid by user fees.  Mooney says the College Station school board will vote next week on a similar request. The c-v-b would pay the remainder of the study cost, estimated at $55,000 to $69,000. The study would recommend the scope of the facility and who would pay for building and operating it.

And, today is opening day at the newest medical facility in BrazosCounty. Yesterday was the ribbon cutting and tours of the 72 bed Rock Prairie Behavioral Health facility. Doctor Duane Runyan, a Texas A&M graduate, is chief executive of the only psychiatric hospital in the BrazosValley.  The 72 bed campus includes inpatient and outpatient services for all ages, something that is needed according to Bill Kelly of Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services of the BrazosValley. Located between College StationMedicalCenter and BrianBachmannPark, the facility will provide free mental health assessments at any time.

Local News Headlines–4/7/2014

A BrazosCounty detention officer is accused of being paid up to $900 to smuggle narcotics and tobacco products to an inmate.  Sheriff Chris Kirk says 20-year-old Cody Jones of College Station, who’s been with the sheriff’s office for 15 months, is on paid administrative leave while being held in jail.  Kirk says the activity came to light after other jailers overheard a phone conversation coming from a cell.  Jones was working in the area where inmate Roy Arevalo Senior of Bryan was held.  Kirk says there is evidence that Jones delivered packages containing contraband twice and more arrests are anticipated. Jones and Arevalo were both arrested for engaging in organized criminal activity. Arevalo was arrested three weeks ago for violating probation on prior drug convictions.

The 25th anniversary of the presidency of George H.W. Bush was celebrated by friends, allies, and even political opponents. Among the panel discussions at the Bush Library was the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Democrat Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa was among the strongest supporters of the A-D-A, which was signed by Bush in 1990.  Harkin who is retiring this year, says a thank you note from Bush related to the A-D-A is the only one he had framed from the seven presidents he worked with.  Bush pledged his support for the A-D-A while he was vice president in 1996.  From around the world, 800 people were at the Bush Library for the celebration.

And, for the sixth time in the last year and a half, TexasA&MUniversity will be looking for a key member of its leadership team.  That follows the resignation of Joe Weber to become the next director of the Texas Department of Transportation.  An interim Vice-President of Student Affairs will be announced shortly according to A&M Interim President Mark Hussey. In an e-mail to employees and students, Doctor Hussey plans to initiate a national search for a permanent replacement.  Weber starts at TxDOT in two weeks.

Local News Headlines–4/4/2014

A College Station man is in jail after Bryan police say he assaulted two people Wednesday night while searching for a place to sleep. Police say 20-year-old Christopher Edwards admitted to having been smoking meth and taking multiple shots of alcohol.  Officer Kelley McKethan says Edwards was found in the car of an employee at Fatty’s Smoke Shop on Texas Avenue. The employee tried to remove him and was punched in the face. The employee did not require medical attention.  McKethan says Edwards fled, but was found a block away when police responded to an attempted home invasion. The resident of the home tells police he hears someone trying to open their door, grabs a rifle and tells the would-be intruder to leave. Instead, Edwards is accused of grabbing the gun from the resident and trying to force his way inside. After a brief fight, Edwards was subdued until police arrived.  Edwards was arrested for public intoxication, assault, and two counts of trespassing.

Both before and after the College Station city council made it more difficult on door to door salespeople and other solicitor, a recurring topic has been allowing the activity to take place until 30 minutes after sunset.  Assistant Police Chief Billy Couch told the council the start and end times were discussed while making proposed changes. Couch says 30 minutes after sunset is standard for when darkness occurs.  The tougher ordinance includes a $50 registration fee that covers all members of a solicitation group. The charge will be monitored to see if it is enough to take care of staff time and expenses to issue identification badges and pay for the administration by the police department.  Violators face a maximum fine of $500.  C-S-P-D plans to start enforcement of the new regulations on Sunday, the first day it takes affect.

And, tonight’s First Friday activity in downtown Bryan includes a 100th birthday party.  Amanda Reynolds of the Downtown Bryan Association says it’s to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Queen Theater.  Reynolds says a centennial observation will be held tonight at 6:00.  Other activities include the A&M School of Public Health launching National Public Health Week with a “Cache Dash”, finding hidden geocaches in downtown Bryan.