Local News Headlines–11/25/2014

Blinn College trustees have taken the next step towards moving some administrative offices off the Bryan campus. Blinn’s Bryan President Sylvia McMullen says a $1.4-million construction contract has been awarded for remodeling the Tejas Center at Texas and Villa Maria. The move of student support services to the new location is expected next March, and then on-campus renovations are expected to be completed in time for the start of fall classes next year. Project funding comes from a $10-million bond sale.

A majority of the College Station city council is contemplating the formation of a citizen’s committee to monitor neighborhood issues. Councilman James Benham questioned what this group would do, considering what city staff is doing now and what’s been done during the past 20 years. The idea, from Steve Aldrich, is an attempt at being pro-active in city relationships with fulltime residents and college students. If and when it’s created, the group would include representatives from neighborhoods, homeowners associations, university students and administrators, rental property investors, and realtor and apartment associations. Some on the council wanted to revisit the idea in six months, but the decision was made to bring it back during a retreat in January.

And, mark December 21st on your calendar to see the west side of Kyle Field come tumbling down. The Texas A&M System won’t give a specific time until the week before. The closest the public will get is around Reed Arena, as Blue Bell Park and the west campus parking garage have been reserved for private viewing. If you can’t make it in person, a live web stream is being planned.  The implosion will take down the second and third decks and the press box. The first deck will be removed with heavy machinery, as was the first deck on the east side last year.

Local News Headlines–11/24/2014

It’s been more than a year and a half ago since the Bryan school board agreed to an economic development agreement that helped bring the Axis Pipe and Tube plant to town. That program, called Chapter 313, has come under fire from Texas state auditor John Keel.  The Dallas Morning News obtained a copy Keel’s report, which recommends the Legislature require independent verification of jobs being created in exchange for $200-million of tax breaks statewide. At Axis, a minimum 285 jobs are supposed to be created. Bryan I-S-D will receive an estimated $1.6-million and be compensated for any loss of state funding in exchange for Axis receiving $7-million in tax breaks.

Blue and green are the colors for those living in the College Station school district to choose for next year’s calendar. Superintendent Clark Ealy says the annual online survey is out. Ealy says blue is the schedule kept the last few years with the fall semester ending at Christmas and the school year going through the end of May.The green calendar is different from past years, adding Labor Day as a holiday and a full week of vacation at Thanksgiving causing the end of the first semester to take place after the Christmas break and the school year continuing through the first week of June.

McDonald’s Restaurants has lost its first attempt to set aside a $27-million judgment made by a Brazos County district court jury last summer. The families of two Blinn College students who died in a crash two years ago in College Station took McDonald’s to court, saying lax security led to their deaths. Those who died were with another couple when the men were beaten in the parking lot of the Northgate McDonalds. Their girlfriends tried to get them to the hospital but the driver ran a red light at Texas and Holleman and their S-U-V struck a pickup.

And, the state Board of Education has approved most of the history and social studies textbooks it was presented. Board chairwoman Barbara Cargill of The Woodlands, whose district includes Brazos County, says they meet the requirements of the state’s essential knowledge and skills regulations that were adopted in 2010. 89 were approved after one top publisher withdrew a high school government textbook. Six others were not approved by the board.

Local News Headlines–11/21/2014

The Bryan school district has won an appeal to the Texas Education Agency that has resulted in Crockett Elementary being upgraded from a school needing improvement to one meeting state standards. B-I-S-D spokesman Brandon Webb says the state agreed to add what were high scores on standardized tests taken in English by 15 Spanish speaking students. The T-E-A will update its website and accountability information early next month.

This week’s Bryan and College Station school board meetings included the yearly reorganization of board officers. There were no changes in College Station, where Valerie Jochen remains president, Paul Dorsett vice-president, and Jeff Harris board secretary. There were changes in Bryan. Unanimous votes were made following an executive session for the better part of two hours. David Stasny, who was just elected to his ninth term, will be serving as president for the third time. Tommy Bosquez is the new vice-president and Felicia Benford will continue as secretary.

One of Governor Perry’s last public speeches will be at his alma mater. He will be speaking at the winter commencement convocation service December 18th, the day before midterm graduation exercises. The convocation, at Rudder Auditorium, is open to the public.

And, the longest serving District Judge in Brazos County was honored yesterday at a retirement reception. Two thirds of J.D. Langley’s career has included presiding at naturalization ceremonies. Harvey Lugo of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office says Langley has administered the oath to nearly 2,500 people since 1991. Langley is the only state district judge in Texas authorized to naturalize new Americans. Langley will continue to preside over selected cases as a visiting senior district judge.

Local News Headlines–11/20/2014

Bryan police are looking for one man accused of an armed robbery Tuesday night. This was at the Shell convenience store at 29th and Barak, across the street from Bryan High School. No one was hurt and an undisclosed amount of money was taken.

The College Station school board is considering moving up their bond issue to next year instead of 2016. Superintendent Clark Ealy says that follows discussion this week on the financial implication of building and operating a tenth elementary, a third intermediate, and a third middle school. That followed last month’s report that CSISD has added more than 1,300 students in the last two years. Doctor Ealy says the school district has been in contact with College Station city officials, who are also considering a bond issue for next year. This week’s CSISD board business also included awarding a $13-million contract to build the new Center for Alternative Learning, located on the site of the former College Station Conference Center.

The Bryan city council has approved waiving an estimated $80,000 in fees to the developers of a senior living community near The Traditions golf course. Mayor Jason Bienski says it involves independent living to assisted care. Construction of the $35-million development is required to start by the middle of 2016 and be completed by the end of 2018.  The council agreed to sell 36 acres earlier this year, and the closing is expected to take place at the end of next month.

And, State Senator Charles Schwertner of Brazos County wants to keep all the money generated by the state’s fuel tax for highways. He has pre-filed legislation to stop diverting $620-million a year for other things. Schwertner says the fuel tax has been used, among other things, for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s office. He says the state needs four to five billion dollars a year for highway funding.

Local News Headlines–11/19/2014

The former owner of a Bryan chiropractic clinic has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in an automobile insurance scam. 38-year-old Edward Graham was ordered to serve nearly seven years for defrauding insurance companies of more than $1.2-million. Graham is the fifth person to either be convicted or plead guilty to the scheme that prosecutors say involved bogus medical evaluations and fraudulent billings at the former Texas Avenue Chiropractic Clinic.

The Bryan Broadcasting elves have started this year’s Christmas Angels campaign. Promotions director Josh Hurt says Christmas trees are again posted at both Blue Baker restaurants in College Station. You can also select children by going online to www.mychristmasangels.com.

For the second time this month, Congressman Bill Flores of Bryan has won an election. Flores was chosen the chairman of what he calls the largest and most influential caucus of the 114th Congress, the Republican Study Committee. Flores was among three seeking the position, which was decided in a secret ballot election. Also from Washington, Congressman Kevin Brady of The Woodlands lost his bid to chair the House Ways and Means Committee to former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

And, three members of the College Station city council returned the Brazos Boot to Bryan marking the first time since 2004 the Bryan High football team defeated A&M Consolidated. Mayor Pro-Tem Karl Mooney made the presentation at last night’s Bryan city council meeting. Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski announced the retirement of the boot, now that all four public high schools are in the same district. Work has started on creating a new recognition.

Local News Headlines–11/18/2014

The Bryan school board has taken its first action since voters approved a $132-million bond issue two weeks ago. The board voted unanimously to approve negotiating with a Houston based contractor that would oversee all projects. Lockwood, Andrews, and Newman was recommended by a committee that included school board member Tommy Bosquez. The firm, which has an office in College Station, was selected from seven that submitted a proposal and three that were interviewed. The board also chose the architect that developed the bond package, P-B-K, to negotiate the design of the new Stephen F. Austin middle school, turn the present S-F-A into administrative offices, and renovate the civic auditorium. About a third of the bond package, $47-million, goes towards the project.

Seven and a half years as a member of the Bryan city council wraps up tonight for Ann Horton. Horton steps down after serving the maximum two consecutive terms, much of that time as Mayor pro-tem. Her highlights includes the inter-local agreement with College Station creating the biomedical corridor and getting involved with programs promoting financial stability for families in Bryan and speaking around the country on that topic. Horton and her husband will continue their mission work in El Salvador, which includes a thrift store in Bryan, the SHIP shop, on Cavitt Avenue.

And, for 15 years, the Texas A&M student organization CARPOOL has served the community. Yesterday, the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting on the Northgate Promenade as CARPOOL launched a capital campaign in hopes of moving into a new home. The non-profit organization provides free rides home to anyone in the community primarily on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Jake Ingle, CARPOOL chair, says while celebrating their anniversary, they are also launching a new campaign to raise money for a new house. Ingle says the campaign titled “15 for 15″ seeks to raise one year’s worth of operating expenses, approximately $150,000. For more information or to donate, go online to carpool.tamu.edu.

Local News Headlines–11/17/2014

Tonight’s Bryan school board meeting includes moving ahead with one of the more talked about portions of the recently passed $132-million bond issue. On election night, Superintendent Tommy Wallis says they were working on the planning process. Wallis says he expects the planning process with architects and builders to take about six months. Tonight’s agenda includes considering an architect for the new Stephen F. Austin middle school, conversion of the existing S-F-A into an administration building, and improvements to the civic auditorium.  And, it was a year ago that voters in the College Station school district approved an $83-million bond package that included a new school. While construction is underway, the official groundbreaking of Spring Creek elementary is scheduled for next Thursday morning at nine.

D-P-S troopers are investigating a crash Saturday morning before sunrise that killed a College Station man. The victim, 56-year-old Stephen Barker, was driving a pickup that struck the tires of an oncoming oversized semi.  The collision was on FM 39 south of Flynn in Leon County. The trucker, 37-year-old Diego Torres-Mendez of Plantersville, was not hurt.

A local theft victim watched for two stolen skateboards and a high school ring to go on sale on Craigslist. When that happened, he went to College Station police. That led to an undercover buy in Northgate, resulting in two arrests. The long boards and the ring, with a combined value of almost $1,500, were recovered. According to arrest reports, 19-year-olds Dallas Delmar-Lopez of Euless and Connor Wilkinson of College Station admitted to taking one of the skateboards from the victim’s car. Police found the other board and the ring in Wilkinson’s apartment.

And, Governor Rick Perry has announced a special election for the state senate seat being vacated by Glenn Hegar, who voters selected as state comptroller earlier this month. Senate District 18 includes Washington and Waller counties. Among those running is state representative Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham. Candidates have until Wednesday to file, the early voting period begins the day before Thanksgiving, and the special election is Saturday, December 6. The winner will serve the remainder of Hegar’s term, which expires in 2016.

Local News Headlines–11/13/2014

Thanksgiving in the Brazos Valley is back. Organizers say a flood of community support followed last Friday’s announcement of cancelling the 31st annual volunteer effort that last year served 1,200 meals. Food preparation will be done at Texas A&M by their private food service provider. Chartwells will also host volunteers and help get meals to those who need them. And, Conlee-Garrett Moving and Storage will assist in organizing volunteers and registering names of those being served. Food donations can be left at the Brazos Valley Food Bank. Monetary donations for Thanksgiving in the Brazos Valley can be made at any location of The Bank and Trust.

The next development combining retail, housing, and offices bordering Texas A&M is underway. Where Texas A&M once had married student housing, is becoming a multi-million dollar mixed use development. College Station Mayor Nancy Berry says Century Square includes two hotels and a second floor theater and bowling alley. The Houston Business Journal reports groundbreaking took place yesterday on the first phase, which also includes 250 multifamily apartments, an office building, and a conference center.

If you think it’s been cold, just wait. Tonight is expected to drop below freezing. The best protection for plants according to AgriLife Extension specialist Monte Nesbitt in College Station is to let the sun do its thing during daylight hours and cover it at night. Something else to do is to cover low-growing annual plants with mulch. Among the don’t’s is trimming freeze damage. Nesbitt says to wait until next spring when the threat of freezes passes.

And, members of Congress have returned to Washington, attempting to get a lot done in a short period before leaving again for their holiday break. Reorganization following last week’s elections includes choosing leadership to the Republican Study Committee.  Congressman Bill Flores is one of three campaigning to be the committee’s chairman. He says the committee is the biggest and most influential caucus in all of Congress. Flores also says he doesn’t think that not being chosen will hurt his chances of passing legislation. The secret ballot election takes place next Tuesday.

Local News Headlines–11/11/2014

Anyone planning a wedding or another party or a company function should check out today’s meeting planners’ showcase that’s sponsored by the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Caterers, event planners and facility managers will all be taking part in the showcase. The C-V-B’s Jordan Meserole says there’s no admission charge for the showcase at the memorial student center.

Two Bryan men have been identified as suspects in using a credit card stolen from the Texas A&M campus. University police say numerous tips led to issuing arrest warrants for Reginald Johnson and Jarrett Nelson. They were caught on video using the credit card at two Bryan businesses located on West Villa Maria, Wal-Mart and a Dollar General Store.

College Station police say they have received reports of more than 20 cases of an attempted scam. Lieutenant Chuck Fleeger says a C-S-P-D employee started receiving calls from scam targets. Fleeger says people are receiving threats if they don’t pay for clearing up alleged problems. He says the police department doesn’t make those kinds of calls. Most of the targets are international students. And, Fleeger says the suspect has been able to spoof, or change the number appearing on victim’s phones caller I-D to make it appear it’s from the police department.

And, the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial annual tribute is being held today at the memorial plaza in Veterans Park. Board member Bill Youngkin says there are two guest speakers. Youngkin says the guest speaker is Karen Forrester, the Texas representative to the national association of P-O-W M-I-A families. Congressman Bill Flores will also be making an award presentation. Today’s program begins with the roll call of names being added to the all-veterans memorial.

Local News Headlines–11/10/2014

Before the Texas A&M Board of Regents started debating next year’s tuition and fee increases for the system’s 11 schools, which passed by a five to three margin, they congratulated the Aggie women’s and men’s track teams.  Head coach Pat Henry thanked the board. Athletics Director Eric Hyman also attended the board meeting and handed out throwback football helmets that were featured in their last home game.

Local law enforcement say over a 48 hour period last week, area hospitals and clinics have seen two dozen patients with drug overdoses involving synthetic marijuana products. College Station police lieutenant Chuck Fleeger says one death may be attributed to smoking products such as K-2, Spice, and Kush. Fleeger says those who consumed the drugs need to have immediate medical attention. Symptoms of use include unusual behavior, combativeness, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and profuse vomiting. The victims range in age from the late teens into the 40’s. And, if anyone knows the source of the illegal drugs they are asked to contact local law enforcement or Brazos County Crimestoppers.

And, this would have been the 30th year of Thanksgiving in the Brazos Valley, where local volunteers would have provided what has grown to 1,200 meals. But, it’s not happening this year according to organizer Danny Morrison because there’s no place to cook the 80 to 90 turkeys. In past years, the birds were cooked in the kitchens of Texas A&M campus dining. The regional marketing director for Chartwell’s, in charge of food service, says over the summer the availability of the kitchens was uncertain due to construction. But organizers were told October 1st the kitchens used in the past were available. Chartwell’s says the offer still stands for the use of the kitchens along with assistance from campus dining employees.