Local News Headlines–8/1/2016

The Bryan city council is holding a special meeting tomorrow with FEMA and the Small Business Administration to provide victims of severe weather in late May another opportunity to learn what federal services are available. Tomorrow’s special meeting starts at 5:30 at the Bryan Justice Center at 29th and Texas. Meantime, FEMA is closing its Bryan disaster assistance center a week earlier than originally scheduled. Wednesday is the last day of the center at Bryan High School’s blue campus.

Have you ever wondered where the nearest fire station is? Or who your city councilman is? Well you can find out all of that and more by using GIS. G-I-S, or geographic information systems, is a compilation of maps with detailed information about the area you live in. Bryan’s G-I-S Supervisor, Dale Kubenka says you can also use it to find out about future plans. Kubenka says new development data is edited daily. There are also tools in the system which allow you to measure your property, see flood plains and even find out which cemetery someone is buried. You can access the G-I-S system online.

Nearly a year and a half after state officials received a voluntary recall notice from Blue Bell, comes penalties after the ice cream maker shut down and renovated its plants after the discovery of listeria bacteria. Carrie Williams at the Department of State Health Services says Blue Bell will pay $175,000 within 30 days. Another $675,000 will not have to be paid if Blue Bell follows the terms of an enforcement agreement for 18 months. Blue Bell issued a statement saying in part that they are committed to the provisions outlined in the updated agreement, which follows a voluntary agreement in May of last year.

Local News Headlines–7/29/2016

A Bryan couple told police they woke up around 4 am yesterday morning and became victims of an attempted armed robbery that ended in gunfire. Bryan Police report no one was hit by the shots, but officers are not saying if the victims knew several black men in their 20’s, one who had a gun, that demanded money. The apartment is located on Broadmoor, south of 29th, east of the C-H-I St. Joseph Health campus. The male victim, who said he was physically assaulted, refused medical treatment after being struck. The woman was not injured.

Last night was the last chance to tell state officials about an application by an expanding west Bryan manufacturer to generate more air pollution. It will possibly be after Thanksgiving before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will decide whether to approve the Saint Goblin Ceramics permit to install another kiln or if opposition that included 13 of 16 speakers at a state hearing warrants a contested hearing which amounts to a civil lawsuit. The new kiln is expected to add 111 tons of pollution to the air in Brazos County. Opponents also called on T-C-E-Q to start monitoring air quality in the twin cities.

FEMA has announced two disaster recovery center will close tomorrow. The center in Todd Mission closes at noon, and the center in Somerville closes at 6 pm. FEMA’s center at Bryan High School’s blue campus will remain open through August 10th.

There are officially three openings on the College Station city council in this November’s election. Two filed last night after the council approved special elections for openings caused by the decisions of Karl Mooney and John Nichols to run for mayor. Seeking to fill out the remainder of Mooney’s term, which ends next year, is Linda Harrell. Filing for the remainder of Nichols’ term, which ends in 2018, is Barry Moore. The deadline to file for those openings is August 25th. Both incumbent members of the Bryan city council are running for re-election. Rafael Pena has filed for a second term representing Single Member District Two. He is opposed by Prentiss Madison. And, the current councilman in Single Member District One, Al Saenz, is opposed by Reuben Marin. Filing for the remainder of Bryan and College Station city council and school board positions continues through August 22nd.

Local News Headlines–7/28/2016

The Brazos County health department has announced the first case of travel-associated Zika virus. The infected person recently returned from traveling to an area with ongoing Zika transmission by mosquitoes. Community health services director Julie Anderson says with Zika, you have to protect yourself from mosquito bites anytime you are outdoors. The health department says there is no evidence of mosquitoes in Brazos County with Zika.

Now there are two sons of former Bryan City Councilmen running for the seats their fathers once held. One is Prentiss Madison, seeking the Single Member District Two seat held for 11 years by his father Paul between 2001 and 2006 then 2007 until 2013. And, as reported yesterday, Reuben Marin is running for Single Member District One, the seat his father Joe held between 2001 and 2007. The sons are also both on Bryan’s Planning and Zoning Commission and also served on the Parks and Recreation Board. The filing period for the Bryan and College Station city councils and school boards continues through August 22nd.

Last week, a federal agency ruled they are staying out of the application for a high speed passenger train between Houston and Dallas. Congressman Bill Flores of Bryan says he agrees with the decision from the Surface Transportation Board that it is a state issue. Flores says he will never allow the bullet train to receive federal funding.

Police in Bryan and College Station received reports Tuesday from small businesses in local shopping centers where customers tried to pass counterfeit money. In both cities, one business refused the funny money and one accepted it. All four cases are under investigation.

Time is running out for anyone in Brazos, Grimes, Burleson, and Washington counties affected by severe weather from two months ago to receive federal assistance. FEMA has announced the Grimes County disaster office in Todd Mission will close Saturday at noon. Bryan mayor Jason Bienski encourages victims to go to FEMA’s center at the Bryan High School blue campus. Victims have until August 10th to file with the FEMA disaster center. Bienski says efforts continue to have a town hall or workshop meeting next week with FEMA officials. FEMA has distributed more than $2.6-million to 610 victims in the four counties. The Small Business Administration has approved $2.2-million in loans for victims in the same area.

Local News Headlines–7/27/2016

Brazos County Commissioners have started the process of reducing traffic south of College Station. County Judge Duane Peters says to lessen congestion on Arrington Road south of William D. Fitch, a developer has donated the land to extend Mesa Verde Drive to the Highway 6 overpass near Texas World Speedway at a cost of $1.2-million. The county estimates the cost of widening Arrington at $2-million. Commissioners plan to include that and a second project in next year’s budget. Peters says they are also looking at extending Cherokee Street to the feeder road. And, the judge says they are looking at road projects in all precincts.

Yesterday was the 26th Community Impact Awards luncheon sponsored by the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes Hispanic, African-American, Asian, American Indian, and Women business owners who have demonstrated a significant impact on the local community. Representing the title sponsor, Texas A&M Assistant Vice President for Finance Rex Janne says there will be a sixth category next year, businesses owned by disabled veterans. This year’s winners are Jill Gallagher of 1st Alliance Mortgage, Veronica Morgan of Mitchell and Morgan engineers, and Agustin Trevino of Trevino-Smith Funeral Home.

The first person to announce running for a seat on the Bryan City Council says he wants to represent the same district as his father. Reuben Marin, who is seeking the Single Member District One seat, is the son of Joe Marin, who was on the council between 2001 and 2007. Reuben Marin currently serves on Bryan’s Planning and Zoning Commission and the Bryan Business Council. The filing period for the Bryan and College Station city councils and school boards continues through August 22nd.

The monarch butterfly population declined 90-percent from 1995 to 2014. In January, Mayors Jason Bienski and Nancy Berry signed the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. College Station Parks and Recreation Market Assistant, Hallie Kutch says to honor this promise, the city is doing several things to assist with the species’ growth including creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at Lick Creek Park, altering mowing schedules and planting milkweed in community and school gardens. Kutch says milkweed is an important food source for the butterflies and residents can help by planting it in home gardens. Free seed packets are available at Stephen C Beachy Central Park. A free community planning meeting will be held at 1:30 pm Friday at the U-S-D-A Building on Holleman.

Local News Headlines–7/26/2016

Differing opinions continue about the future of veterinary school programs in Texas after the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reviewed a report last week about how to approach the need for more large animal vets and stop the flow of students moving out of the state to get training. A statement released by the Texas A&M system says in part a plan by Texas Tech to open a second vet college is unnecessary because A&M is opening a new complex and is expanding its program with four A&M system institutions. The chancellor of the Tech system stated in part they were encouraged about the coordinating board’s recommendation to consider what Tech considers as an innovative, cost efficient veterinary college.

Filing is underway for this November’s city council and school board elections in the twin cities. All three current members of the College Station school board are all seeking re-election…Jeff Harris, Michael Wesson, and Quinn Williams. One of three incumbents on the Bryan school board has filed for re-election, Trey Moore. Three have filed for the College Station city council. Seeking the council position two seat is Jerome Rektorik, who is currently on the planning and zoning commission. Previously announcing candidacies for mayor are current councilmen Karl Mooney and John Nichols…which means both are giving up their council seats. This Thursday’s council meeting agenda includes approving special elections in November for the positions now held by Mooney and Nichols. Also making his declaration official on the first day is the first candidate for Bryan mayor, businessman Andrew Nelson. The deadline to file for Bryan and College Station city and school elections is August 22nd.

A woman moving out of her College Station apartment Saturday morning was the victim of a burglary and attempted sexual assault. The victim told police she had left the door open to her unit at The Stadium Apartments on Marion Pugh when she noticed someone had entered her bedroom. When the five foot ten Hispanic man attempted the sexual assault, the woman began screaming, and then the man ran away. In addition to the police response, officers were joined by a dog search team from the state prison system in an attempt to locate the suspect. Anyone with information about the incident, which was reported Saturday morning around 10, is asked to contact C-S-P-D.

Add Burleson and Milam counties to the list with of those with burn bans. Brazos Valley counties already with burn bans are Brazos, Robertson, Leon, Madison, Grimes, and Walker counties.

Local News Headlines–7/25/2016

There is a timetable to rid what some say was a major source of flooding in Bryan two months ago. Before the late May rains, Blinn College trustees had committed to cleaning out two detention ponds on the Bryan campus. College spokesman Richard Bray says administrators plan to ask trustees next month to hire an engineer. Once a design has been approved by the city, Bray says the trustees will be asked to seek bids to hire a contractor. The earliest date for the start of construction would be late fall. Over at Bryan city hall, City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta says officials continue to work on reducing the amount of damage from future weather events. Stratta says even though the city has a comprehensive master plan, it needs to be updated. Stratta said many believe the city owns every creek and drainage ditch…which is not true. She also reminds Bryan storm victims to apply with FEMA…even if they have insurance…by the August 10th deadline.

Today is the official start of the filing period for the November city-school election. In College Station, two current councilmen have announced their intent to run for the position of mayor… Karl Mooney and John Nichols. Communications Director Jay Socol says places two, three, four and mayor will be up for election in November. Place two belongs to Steve Aldrich who is joining the Brazos County Commission along with current Mayor Nancy Berry. For those interested in running, City Manager Kelly Templin says the time commitment is a big one, especially for the position of mayor. He says Mayor Berry spends at least 20 hours a week at City Hall. Anyone interested in running or just wants more information can stop by the city secretary’s office at city hall. The filing period ends August 22nd.

Both short and long term efforts to reduce traffic congestion in College Station were discussed at the last city council meeting. Long range recommendations from an outside consultant includes a $20-million flyover of Jones-Butler Road over Holleman and F-M 2818 to reduce volume on the existing roads. Another long term idea is extending Luther west of 2818 then south to Dowling. The only council consensus was taking traffic off Old Wellborn Road by extending General Parkway from Rock Prairie to Graham Road.

Local News Headlines–7/22/2016

Now that a lawsuit against the College Station school board has been withdrawn, board members are talking about what happened at this week’s meeting that finalizes the sale and purchase of land for future school construction. Board vice-president Jeff Harris, who is a partner in the law firm that is employed by the winning bidder, abstained from Tuesday’s vote and all discussion about the land sale. Harris says neither he nor his law firm represented the winning bidder in this transaction and as an attorney he was uniquely situated to serve as a go-between between the board and the school district’s attorney regarding the lawsuit during an executive session. This week’s board votes reaffirms action taken last month to sell land at Holleman and Deacon, next to collegiate housing, to buy land at Holleman and Rock Prairie, located in a development of single family homes.

A former guard at the women’s federal prison camp in Bryan has been sentenced for having sex with two inmates. 45-year-old James Graves, who admitted to the contact in May, was ordered to serve 21 months, followed by ten years of supervised release. Graves will also register as a sex offender as the result of the contact with the inmates two years ago.

There is less than three weeks left for victims of May’s severe storms to apply for federal assistance. Bryan City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta says FEMA still has an office at Bryan High School’s blue campus and 585 storm victims have received a total of $2.5-million in the Brazos Valley. Stratta says work continues to have a town hall meeting that includes FEMA representatives.

The days are numbered for Texas based retailer Hastings. The Amarillo Globe-News reports two financial consulting companies are liquidating its remaining stores, including 36 in Texas and one in Bryan, by October 31st. Hastings, based in Amarillo, filed for bankruptcy five weeks ago. The company will give remaining employees seven days notice of store closings. And according to the company website, they stopped honoring gift cards and taking returns last week.

Local News Headlines–7/20/2016

The College Station School Board is moving ahead with selling land, after an unsuccessful buyer filed a lawsuit against the district. The owner of The Barracks, Heath Phillips, referred to taking legal action when he spoke to the board last night in what was a failed attempt to buy the vacant land next to his development. The board returned from a 60 minute executive session with no public discussion. President Valerie Jochen read a prepared statement defending their decision. The board categorically denies any allegations they were not fair and equitable with both bidders. The board approved resolutions upholding last month’s vote to close by the end of this month the sale of their land to D-W-S Development which had the higher bid for the July closing. The Barracks offered more if the board would have waited until next March. The board is selling a tract at Holleman and Deacon so C-S-I-S-D has the money to buy land at Holleman and Rock Prairie which is in a development of single family homes.

Brazos County Commissioners have enacted a burn ban for unincorporated areas of the county. Also under burn bans are Grimes, Madison, Leon, Robertson, and Walker counties.

The Bryan School District has all its building principals for next year. The school board Monday night promoted Becky Ryberg, who spent the last six years as an assistant principal at Milam Elementary, to take over as principal at Fannin. The board also spent more of the unexpected revenue generated by higher student attendance and more property tax money. Assistant Superintendent Amy Drozd says $900,000 of $1.4-million is a transfer to take care of part of paying for staff training in August, the last month of this fiscal year. Another $150,000 is for additional reading materials, and $120,000 will be spent on energy-efficient lighting. The board took about 30 minutes before voting to reduce spending for consultants by $96,000 next year. Associate Superintendent Barbara Ybarra says that’s in part because fewer staff needs training related to school improvement and support services.

The Grimes County Sheriff’s office has sent human remains found last week in Bedias to the University of North Texas to be identified. Captain Blake Jarvis says the remains were found as part of their investigation of last month’s disappearance of Jason Currie. Jarvis says the human remains are related to the disappearance of Currie but how they learned about the remains is not being disclosed. Jarvis says they are treating this case as a homicide investigation and several suspects have been identified.

Local News Headlines–7/19/2016

A proposed high speed passenger rail between Houston and Dallas will not involve a federal agency. The Surface Transportation Board rejected a request from Texas Central Railway because the 240 mile line does not cross state lines. The decision was considered a win by opponents, including Congressman Kevin Brady, whose district includes three counties where the railroad would be located. According to T-C-R, the project continues to move forward with development activities while studying how to respond to the S-T-B ruling.

Bryan fire investigators returned yesterday to the scene of a house fire Sunday on the city’s east side. The fire destroyed 90 percent of the house along with the carport and two cars. Deputy Fire Marshal William Bouse says the 61-year-old woman living at 4603 Castle Avenue heard a noise in the living room and ran out of the house after discovering black smoke in the living room and kitchen. No injuries were reported.

Three people have been arrested on Burleson County charges of armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping. The trio is accused of robbing a man at knifepoint in Lyons on July 2nd and then forcing the victim to drive them into Lee County where he was left along the side of the road. One of the three, 39-year-old Roy Ates of Somerville is in the Brazos County jail. The others, 30-year-old Chase Smith of Somerville and 20-year-old Allie Rosenbaum of Brenham, are in the Burleson County jail.

Bryan police arrested two people over the weekend that between them face a combined 24 charges in municipal court. According to online jail records, both were released without posting bond. The city’s online municipal court docket shows both are scheduled to appear this Friday. 23-year-old Paul Navarro faces 13 municipal court charges dating back to 2007, and 55-year-old Sandra Goodin of College Station faces 11 charges from 2011, 2012, and 2013.

4,000 people were out at Wolf Pen Creek Park in College Station last Friday night playing Pokemon Go. Partner station Candy 95 was a co-sponsor. Morning announcer Frito said one of the greatest benefits of the event was that so many were in one place and police reported no trouble and no arrests.

Local News Headlines–7/18/2016

The Bryan city council presented of two civilian service citations at its last meeting. The honors recognized actions that were taken in response to accidents last month. Fire Chief Randy McGregor thanked the private citizens and Mayor Jason Bienski presented the citations. Matthew Winn was recognized for saving the life of a neighbor who was injured in a home accident. And, recognition was also given to Doctor Lauren Steffen for providing C-P-R to a driver involved in a crash who had no pulse.

College Station School District administrators are standing by the process of how land was sold last month. That’s after a second interested buyer whose bid was rejected requested the transaction be placed on tomorrow’s school board meeting agenda. The allegations come from the owner of The Barracks development, located next to the land the board sold to the other bidder, D-W-S Development. Heath Phillips claims the D-W-S bid is defective because his competitor failed to disclose prior business with the district, which the district says was a prior transaction that was proposed but was never executed. Phillips also says D-W-S has employed the law firm that includes board vice-president Jeff Harris. Responses from the district and Harris state Harris did not participate in any board deliberations or votes related to selling the land. Administrators also pointed out Phillips sought to purchase the land, but he was told the district would be soliciting bids. Four other members of the C-S-I-S-D board sold the land for $3.3-million to D-W-S. Phillips submitted two bids, one for $2.5-million that met the board’s desire to close the sale this month; and a $4.1-million offer if closing was delayed until next March. The board’s vote to close on selling land this month was due to wanting the money to close on buying another piece of land for future construction.

Congress has started their summer break. Among the issues that remain unresolved is federal funding to address the Zika virus. Congressman Bill Flores says the House did their job by giving the Democrats the amount of money they wanted just not from the same funding sources. Congress returns to work the day after Labor Day, September 6th.

With no relief from summertime heat coming anytime soon and more people outside thanks to the Pokemon Go craze comes a reminder to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Deputy Bryan Fire Marshal William Bouse says to drink lots of water before as well as during outside activity. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating. Bouse says a red flag for heat stroke is when you’re having mental changes. Another symptom of heat stroke is when you stop perspiring.