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Posts published in July 2013

Grand Parkway breaks ground for North Segment

38 mile road from US290 to US59 ready in 2016

NORTH HOUSTON – As more than 1,000 newcomers move to Texas each day adding more cars to state highways, the Texas Department of Transportation today broke ground on the latest segments of the Houston-area SH 99/Grand Parkway. With ceremonial shovels in hand, state and local leaders along with transportation officials were joined by design-build contractor Zachry- Odebrecht Parkway Builders (ZOPB) to turn dirt at the future SH 99 expansion.

“This latest phase of construction represents a continuation of the forward thinking and planning that will expedite mobility and provide the infrastructure this area will need as Texas welcomes more drivers and business traffic,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. “We are proud of the partnerships that share our vision of addressing congestion and helping motorists move freely and safely on Texas highways.”

Construction on the new 38-mile segment is expected to take two-and-a-half years to complete. Upon completion, motorists will be able to drive SH 99 from US 290 directly to US 59 North. The outer loop system will provide motorists more direct travel options for the movement of goods, people and services to, through and around the region.

The SH 99/Grand Parkway has been in the planning stage since the early 1960s and was made possible through coordinated working relationships with Harris and Montgomery counties. Improvements to these important roadways are critical to the region’s continued mobility and economic vitality.

Additionally, transportation leaders also noted the recent announcement of the sale of the Grand Parkway System Toll Revenue Bonds. The proceeds of the $2.92 billion bond sale will go to finance this project; reimburse the Harris County Toll Road Authority and TxDOT for earlier Grand Parkway expenses; and $300 million of preliminary work for Segments H and I of the Grand Parkway.

For ongoing updates on the SH 99/Grand Parkway project, visit www.grandparkway or call 1-855-99Grand.

Grand Texas Theme Park to be developed on US59 north

NORTHEAST – Developers are hard at work on two separate projects in the New Caney area, north of Humble on US59. The latest project to be announced is a theme park named Grand Texas. The Developers announced last week that they had purchased a 600 acre tract of land at the corner of US59 and Highway 242.

Principal of the developer group is Monty Galland, and operator of the park will be Chuck Hendrix of Innovative Leisure Partners. Hendrix was previously an executive with Six Flags who managed AstroWorld in the period before it was closed and torn down. He is said to be a well respected and experienced manager in the amusement park business nationally, and adds credence to the proposal and the development team.

Envisioned for the new park is a Texas- themed park with amusement rides, a water park, an equestrian center, retail shopping and parking, amphitheater, paintball arena, and an RV resort.

When completed in 2015, it is expected that it will create 300 to 400 permanent jobs, and attract up to a million tourists and visitors to the parks. Although no construction or land figures were released, industry experts say that it will cost upwards of $120 million for the park, and another $95 million for ancillary features such as hotels, restaurants, retail, and parking. Others in the industry have said that it may take as much as $400 million to build a first class facility equivalent to theme parks in other parts of the country.

This is the second proposal for a theme park and public development in the East Montgomery County area. Last year a development named Earth Quest was announced, to be a major dinosaur-themed science park, with an adjacent amusement park, and research center. This project has received State of Texas Enterprise Fund backing, and also local funding from sales tax revenue bonds.

According to Frank McCrady, president and CEO of the East Montgomery County Improvement District, this project is still on schedule and when built will not be a competitor but a complement to the Grand Texas project. The site for this project is on the east side of US59, only about three miles from the Grand Texas project.

Klobassa Festival holds benefit Auction

CROSBY – The Knights of Columbus Hall featured a bevy of friendly fishers of men, a lively, humored live auction, a lot filled with fantastic classic cars and barbecue on June 30 for the Klobassa Festival.

The chicken dinners were done to perfection and so was the sausage.

Anyone needing a friend had only to look around and if they were very particular – well, Bert Baker was outside parking late arriving cars.

The secret to a great Klobassa Festival is having lots of entertainment and Eddie Foster was on his feet at all times keeping the rest of us on our feet.

This year Classic Cars, Classic Trucks and even a few sexy Tractors were a serious feature as some of the greats in the state (most owned by locals) filled the 1508 Crosby-Dayton Road parking lot. It was a festival of Fifteens when 15 trophies were awarded for vehicles and 15 firearms were raffled. Numerous tickets to the raffle were sold at the Festival.

The Klobassa Festival is about having fun and raising money for Sacred Heart Charities and providing scholarships for Sacred Heart School students.

The Klobassa Festival takes its origin from the Czech heritage in Crosby from the 19th Century based on the type of sausage made by the Czech immigrants. It is a local cultural heritage event not to be missed for fun and great taste.

Moody’s assigns ratings to Crosby ISD bonds

NEW YORK – Moody’s Investors Service on June 24 assigned an A1 rating to Crosby Independent School District’s $67,500,000 Unlimited Tax School Bonds, Series 2013. In addition to the underlying rating, they have assigned an Aaa enhanced rating to the Series 2013 bonds provided by a guarantee of the Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF). Proceeds from the Series 2013 sale will be used to fund the construction of a new high school.

Dr. Keith Moore sees the ratings as, “There may be higher rated schools in the state than Crosby, but not very many,”

Calling the bond a general obligation the sale has been moved to July 17 of Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds.

The bonds are secured by an unlimited ad valorem tax on all taxable property within the district. Assignment of the A1 rating reflects the district’s elevated debt burden, moderately sized tax base, above average socio-economic profile, and improving financial reserves.

According to Dr. Moore, “When we set the factors for the bond a lot of things come into play to determine the amount of money that be will raised. One factor is where our tax base is another is how many people are in the district. When we say we can raise $68 Million dollars that is true but it is based on assumptions such as what our tax base is going to be. We have based this bond on conservative assessments.”

The Aaa enhanced rating reflects Moody’s assessment of the Texas Permanent School Fund’s (PSF) ability to make payments on the guarantee relative to the substantial value of the fund corpus. Additional credit considerations include: the PSF’s constitutionally protected corpus, the credit quality of the Texas school district G.O. debt guaranteed by the fund, an investment portfolio that provides satisfactory coverage and liquidity given our estimated probability of calls on the guarantee, and strong legal mechanics that facilitate timely reimbursement to the PSF should guarantee payments occur. For additional information on the PSF program, please see Moody’s Ratings Update Report on the Texas Permanent School Fund dated September 24, 2012.

The districts strengths were listed as trend of operating surpluses and satisfactory financial reserves and more interestingly, anticipated tax base expansion based on preliminary values.

Challenges include elevated debt burden with slow payout.The rating could be improved if there is significant tax base increases coupled with reduction in debt burden. Another challenge would beif everyone moved out of Crosby or if there is some reason a deterioration of General Fund reserves, (no mo’ money.)

The Texas PSF rating was assigned based on Moody’s assessment of the PSF’s ability to make payments on the guarantee relative to the substantial value of the fund corpus. Additional credit factors relevant to the rating include: 1) constitutional protections for the corpus 2) strong state involvement in school districts and state aid intercept/school district takeover authority 3) coverage for potential calls on guarantee 4) size, concentration and correlation of guaranteed debt 5) issuer’s management and governance 6) investment portfolio and liquidity. These attributes were compared against other issuers both within and outside of Texas PSF’s core peer group and Texas PSF’s ratings are believed to be comparable to ratings assigned to other issuers of similar credit risk.