Local News Headlines–11/24/2015

Last weekend’s death of a pedestrian and a bicyclist who was struck and hospitalized were discussed at last night’s College Station city council meeting. Assistant city manager and former police chief Jeff Capps says any attempts to improve traffic safety will have to have participation from Texas A&M officials. A&M’s student government vice president for municipal affairs Wayne Beckermann told the council legislation has been filed endorsing a reduced speed limit on University in Northgate and extending a barrier in the middle of the street.

Today is the first full meeting for two new members of the Bryan city council. Items on the council’s workshop agenda include the results of a study to meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. City Engineer Paul Kaspar is in charge of the city complying with the A-D-A. Kaspar says the city has budgeted $350,000 for A-D-A projects this year. That compares with an estimated need of at least $80-million.

And, local law enforcement is again reminding vehicle owners to keep valuables out of sight. College Station police lieutenant Steve Brock says that’s after forced entry was made into three vehicles and guns were taken. You’re also reminded to hide small things like power cords, which Brock says is a cue for thieves that there may be valuables inside.

Local News Headlines–11/23/2015

A Bryan man out of jail on bond awaiting trial on five criminal charges was shot and killed near his home early Saturday morning. Police say 30-year-old Broderick Turner was shot in his car on West 16th, south of Highway 21 between Hall and Logan. A motive has not been determined according to Officer Kelley McKethan. McKethan says patrol officers from several miles away heard gunfire, and then 9-1-1 dispatchers directed them to the scene. Turner was still alive when officers arrived and they joined emergency personnel to provide medical treatment. According to online court records, Turner was scheduled to go on trial next July on charges of assaulting a family member with a prior conviction. And, he was scheduled to make a court appearance next week on four misdemeanor charges.

Republican voters in Brazos County will have a decision to make on three primary races next March. One is Congress, where incumbent Bill Flores of Bryan is being challenged by Groesbeck business owner Kaleb Sims. Another is the Brazos County Commission Precinct Three Seat, where Bryan business owner Gabe Garcia is running against College Station Mayor Nancy Berry. And, has been previously announced, State Representative John Raney is being challenged by former College Station councilman Jess Fields. After the first week of the filing period, two more Brazos County incumbents have filed for re-election. They are District Judge Travis Bryan and County Attorney Rod Anderson. A check with the Brazos County Democrat Party indicates no filings but some interest in local races. The filing deadline is December 14th.

A funeral mass for John Harden Hicks the second will be held tomorrow morning at 11 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in College Station.  Hicks, the son of company owner and President Bill and Paula Hicks, died last Thursday at the age of 16 following a three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. A rosary followed by visitation is at Hillier Funeral Home in Bryan today from four until seven. Donations may be made on behalf of John Harden for cancer research to Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. Bryan Broadcasting offices will be closed tomorrow between 10 am and 1 pm.

Local News Headlines–11/20/2015

The state’s cancer prevention and research institute, better known as C-PRIT, has announced awarding 73 new grants totaling about $112-million. Members of the Texas A&M System received almost $2.5-million from four grants. Two are going to the Health Science Center, a third to the flagship campus, and the fourth to AgriLife Research. C-PRIT is nearly to the halfway point of distributing $3-billion approved by voters in 2007 to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in the state.

The College Station city council for the third time will be doing a formal study to consider establishing impact fees. That would increase the cost of new homes, commercial, and industrial properties to cover what the city property owners at large pay for new streets, waterlines, and wastewater lines. The council was told that three years ago, the city lost almost $15-million on infrastructure associated with new single family homes that could have been covered by impact fees. There is one national study that shows impact fees could exceed $10,000 to cover the cost of building a home on a new street and connecting the house to city water and wastewater. It could be as much as three years before impact fees would be assessed.

Congressman Bill Flores of Bryan is co-sponsoring legislation that would allow concealed carry handgun permits to be used as identification at airports. Flores says those who have concealed carry handgun permits go through the most thorough background check of any government agency but the T-S-A has balked at the idea due to what he says is the Obama administration’s hostility to the constitutional right to bear arms. Flores says this has bi-partisan support and he hopes it gets to the president quickly.

The holiday season in downtown Bryan begins this evening. Amanda Reynolds with the Downtown Bryan Association says the “Lights On” event starts at six at Sale Park with dignitaries illuminating the area. Santa will lead a walking parade at 6:30. At the Palace Theater is a “Tuba Christmas” concert followed by a performance from the Jane Long Middle School orchestra then the movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

Local News Headlines–11/19/2015

Two employees of Texas A&M Transportation Services are credited with saving a man who was trapped inside a burning car Saturday. Joel Luce was the first to see a vehicle that had hit a tree and saw flames underneath the engine. As Luce was attempting to break the glass to get to the driver, co-worker Greg Stuenkel stopped, grabbed his fire extinguisher to start putting out the fire, and then got a sledgehammer to break the windows. After the driver was pulled out, he was taken to a Houston hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Congressman Bill Flores of Bryan says the House will vote today on a proposal that puts a pause on the Mideast refugee program until the government has a process in place to properly run checks on the incoming refugees. Flores also wants a no fly zone over Syria. Flores says it’s time for Congress to take aggressive action after the weakness of the refugee system was clearly shown last week in Paris. Also, The dean of Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government was on Capitol Hill yesterday. Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Syria, is among those calling on the U.S. to ramp up the air campaign against ISIS militants in Syria. Crocker also told House Armed Services Committee a safe zone needs to be set up to protect citizens from bombing raids ordered by Syria’s president.

Blue Bell is again making ice cream in Brenham. C-E-O Paul Kruse made the announcement yesterday. As is the case at Blue Bell plants in Alabama and Oklahoma, the ice cream being made in Brenham is for test purposes. There is no firm date when ice cream in Brenham will be available for sale. Blue Bell also announced tours will not resume at this time in Brenham. And, no date has been set when more flavors will become available.

And, a Madison County man was executed last night following a temporary reprieve. 36-year-old Raphael Holiday was given the death penalty for setting a fire to a cabin 15 years ago that killed his 18-month-old daughter and her two young half-sisters. The lethal injection was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal and after a state judge halted the punishment. The Texas Attorney General’s office appealed the reprieve, and the warrant for the execution was reinstated.

Local News Headlines–11/18/2015

The next steps in Blinn College’s new campus in west Bryan were taken during last night’s board of trustees meeting. The board named a construction manager for the $35-million dollar first phase. That includes the first of seven academic buildings, the first of three so-called amenity buildings, and 1,000 out of 6,000 parking spaces. The board also approved the first of two bond sales. Last night’s meeting in Brenham was the last as a seven member board. Starting December first, it will expand to nine with the additions of Ann Horton of Bryan and Nancy Berry of College Station.

The first principal at College Station high school has been promoted. The C-S-I-S-D school board approved Mike Martindale as deputy superintendent for business and operations. Martindale starts January first with the retirement of Glynn Walker. A replacement for Martindale was not announced.

The Brazos County Commission has followed the Bryan city council in approving an economic development agreement for developers planning to build 800 homes and commercial and retail space. The Oakmont community, which is generally bordered by an extension of University, Boonville, and Copperfield, is a project of local business owner Don Adam. County Commissioner Sammy Catalena says this has the possibility of adding $400-million to the tax rolls. The county’s approval followed a 25 minute meeting behind closed doors with the developers. There was no presentation or comments in public before the commission’s four to nothing vote. County judge Duane Peters did not vote and was not part of the executive session because he owns land next to the development. Adam will receive up to $10-million in property tax rebates on the improvements.

And, 18 time Grammy Award-winning musician, Tony Bennett, is coming to M-S-C OPAS next year. With worldwide record sales in the millions, Bennett’s music spans over six decades. His performance is set for Tuesday, April 26th. OPAS ticket package buyers and donors will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets from this Friday through December 4th. Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, December 7th at the MSC Box Office.

Local News Headlines–11/17/2015

Bryan school board members unanimously adopted recommendations on the designs of four more projects approved by voters last year, while there was a split vote for board president for the next 12 months. Moving ahead towards construction next year are a $5-million expansion at Rudder High School, a $2.8-million expansion at Johnson Elementary, more than $1.5-million of improvements at Bryan High, and $1.1-million of improvements at Bryan Collegiate. The yearly board reorganization included no dissenting votes for Trey Moore as vice-president and Felicia Benford re-elected as secretary. But, there was a four to three vote for board president. Following an executive session that lasted about one hour, Doug Wunneburger defeated David Stasny. Wunneburger was nominated by John Street and also received support from Moore and Benford. Newly elected members Ruthie Waller and Mark McCall voted for Stasny.

A new agreement between Brazos County and Bryan Broadcasting, the parent company of KAGC, means better coverage for emergency responders in parts of at least three counties. County judge Duane Peters says their equipment will be added to the Maverick 100.9 tower between Edge and Wheelock. Peters says this will expand the coverage of two-way radio in an area where cell phones don’t often work. Peters says coverage from the new tower will also benefit emergency services in Robertson and Madison counties. A $300,000 grant from the Brazos County Council of Governments is paying for the equipment.

And, a College Station native and pageant queen has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to host a special fundraiser for veterans. Miss Texas 2015, Angelica Alcala-Herrera is hosting the first annual Heroes of Freedom Ball December 4th at Pebble Creek Country Club. Herrera says one hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Dinner, dancing, and special guest speakers will all be part of the evening. More information and tickets are online.

Local News Headlines–11/16/2015

A divided Bryan city council has approved reducing the price of those using fire department ambulances who are charged the full fee. The one year experiment was proposed by Mike Southerland, who noted the city is writing off almost $2-million a year from uninsured patients who on the average pay five percent of an $1,100 bill. It’s a free ride for someone whose adjusted gross income is below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. A sliding scale goes down to a 25 percent break for a patient with an A-G-I of 200 percent. And, the city doesn’t report the discount to credit reporting agencies.

The filing period is underway for next year’s elections. Among the latest to announce is Brazos County Tax Assessor-Collector Kristy Roe. She is seeking her third full term.  The filing deadline is December 14th.

Bryan Police are investigating an accident that led to the death of a pedestrian last night around 9. Officers said a vehicle on Highway 21 West near the Brazos County AgriLife Extension Office struck a male pedestrian, who was run over by a second vehicle. Both drivers are cooperating with the investigation and alcohol is not believed to be a factor. The identity of the pedestrian is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

And, more than half the Blue Bell employees furloughed earlier this year will be back at work by mid-December. That’s when the company extends its distribution area following plant closures earlier this year due to listeria contamination. Spokesman Joe Robertson says 70 have returned to the home base in Brenham, as work continues to prepare the home plant for test production. Robertson says 215 more employees will return to work December 14th which is also the date of Blue Bell returning products to store shelves to most of the remainder of Texas. 27 of 50 distribution centers will be back in operation. There are no plans at this time to reopen 12 more centers that were closed. And, Robertson says there is no timetable for returning more than the five flavors of Blue Bell is currently offering.

Local News Headlines–11/13/2015

A split vote by the College Station city council means the Brazos Central Appraisal District has been stopped a second time from buying land and building its own offices. The council’s four to three vote to postpone means the same as voting no. According to B-CAD, state law gave the council 30 days to approve the request. And the 30th day is today. Julie Schultz wanted more time, in part for B-CAD to get in writing a financing plan calling for a fixed rate mortgage instead of a balloon payment.  Steve Aldrich was among supporting the recommendation of the B-CAD board, which is appointed by the two councils, two school boards, and the county. Nancy Berry, Blanche Brick, and James Benham voted to postpone, while John Nichols and Karl Mooney supported the appraisal district’s recommendation.

Texas A&M students will not be charged a $20 fee starting next year to beef up advising services. But, there will be a tuition increase for incoming students. Those were among unanimous votes during yesterday’s board of regents meeting. Regent Charles Schwartz of Houston says A&M president Michael Young agreed to find the money for his student advising initiatives from other sources. Schwartz says students are paying only one-third the cost of their education. The rest is made up by state sources and charitable giving.

And, early in yesterday’s Texas A&M System board of regents meeting, Chancellor John Sharp announced a federal lawsuit against the Indianapolis Colts over the use of the trademark Home of the 12th Man. Sharp said the lawsuit followed repeated attempts to resolve the matter. This is at least the third time A&M has dealt with an N-F-L team over the 12th Man.  A lawsuit was settled in 2006 with the Seahawks, and almost four years ago the Broncos were contacted after a parachutist flew into Mile High Stadium waving a 12th Man flag.

Local News Headlines–11/12/2015

The College Station fire department has unveiled its new hazardous materials response vehicle. What looks a lot like a fire engine replaces two trailers that were used in the past for various incidents. When fully equipped, the nearly $700,000 rig will be available throughout the seven county region of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. The new vehicle will be on display today during a presentation to the College Station city council south of city hall in front of the former fire station.

Tonight’s College Station city council meeting includes acting on the Brazos Central Appraisal District’s request to buy land and build new offices. That follows approval last month by the Bryan school board and earlier this week by the Bryan city council. For the second time, there was a lengthy debate by the Bryan council. Mayor Jason Bienski failed in his attempt to postpone the decision for another 30 days to get B-CAD to send an offer to Brazos County to sell land that’s already off the tax rolls near the new tax office. Bienski says the city could lose up to $80,000 a year in property tax revenue. Voting for the appraisal district’s request were Southerland, Rafael Pena, Al Saenz, and Art Hughes. Bienski and Chuck Konderla voted no. Greg Owens was absent. The appraisal district has to get approval tonight from the College Station city council and next Tuesday from the College Station school board to avoid making a request to the county.

Veterans Day celebrations continue throughout the weekend at the Museum of the American G-I. Spokeswoman Emily Mullins says “Lest We Forget” includes several events through Sunday. Mullins says the main attraction is the Vietnam Memorial Wall, an 80 percent replica of the wall in Washington D-C. Unlike other memorials which list veteran’s names in alphabetical order, the Vietnam Memorial presents the names in the order they died or went missing in action. Mullins says volunteers will be on hand to help locate names. A full schedule of events and more information on the museum is available online.

Local News Headlines–11/11/2015

The Bryan city council has approved Police Chief Eric Buske’s recommendation to equip all 143 officers with body cameras by the end of January. The $872,000 contract breaks down to an initial expense of $200,000 followed by an annual fee to store the recordings and licensing. Buske says the contract also calls for upgrading equipment in two and a half years and again in five years.

The Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial will host its annual Veterans Day Ceremony this evening at 4:30 at Veterans Park. Board member, Chip Dawson says they are currently accepting applications for the placement of veteran’s names on the Wall of Honor in 2016. Applications and more information on the ceremony is online. The ceremony will begin with the Honor Wall Roll Call, a reading of military veteran names recently added to the memorial’s Wall of Honor, followed my music and remarks.

What is expected to be the last phase of renovating the Brazos County courthouse has been approved. County commissioners have unanimously voted to proceed with the second and third floors. County judge Duane Peters says that includes replacing plumbing, remodeling bathrooms, and adding a fire sprinkler system on the second and third floors. A third county court at law courtroom will be created, along with space for a future district courtroom. Yesterday’s votes authorized seeking bids and naming the committee that will evaluate bids.

And, a three term member of the Brazos County Commission plans to run for re-election. Lloyd Wassermann represents Precinct One, which includes the southern part of the county and much of the west side of College Station. Next Monday is the first day to file for next year’s elections.