Highlands celebrated Little League Opening Day last Saturday, March 19, with a big parade on Main Street. About 40 units took part, with the Highlands Fire Department equipment leading the way.
Huffman Little League opening day was the following weekend, Saturday March 26. Crosby Pony League has already opened, on Saturday Feb. 26. Cold weather that day made the League consider moving the opening date farther back next year.
NORTH CHANNEL – The GP/JC CIP group (Community-Industry-Partnership) met last Thursday evening by Zoom, to hear industry reports and an progress report from HCTRA (Harris County Toll Road Authority) on the construction of the new replacement bridge that carries Beltway 8 over the ship channel.
The presentation was made by John Tyler, HCTRA Deputy Director for Engineering. Using slides, he detailed the problems the bridge construction has faced, and the status of building the new design.
The original contract for the bridge was let in 2018 to a consortium of Traylor Brothers and Zachry Construction, two contractors with extensive experience in this type of highway bridge. The design engineer was FIGG Engineering. The original contract was for $962 million dollars, for the bridge and connecting roads from Highway 225 to Interstate 10. However, after one of FIGG’s bridges collapsed in Florida, an analysis of this design was ordered, and determined that it was flawed and unstable. Work was halted in August 2019 to allow a redesign.
A new foundation design was engineered by COWI engineers, and the new plans added $291 million dollars to the cost, including $50 to demolish work already in place. This mainly involved the piers at the base of the pylons, which were redesigned with new reinforcing. Tyler noted that construction of the new bridge is the largest single project in county history. He said that the cost of the bridge will be paid for by tolls, and no tax money or federal subsidy will be used to pay for it. The current toll to cross the existing bridge is $1.50, and Tyler said that HCTRA does not anticipate any increase to pay for the bridge. Currently the toll road authority is financially very strong, with $1.32 billion in uncommitted reserves.
The bridge will be built in two stages, with the southbound lanes now under construction. When complete, it will have four traffic lanes which will temporarily be converted to two-way traffic so that the older bridge next to it can be demolished. This is expected to happen by 2025. After the older bridge is gone, the new northbound lanes will be constructed in its place, and be complete by 2028 Tyler said.
The new Beltway 8 configuration will have flatter grades, only 3 to 4 percent, and smoother curves going into the bridge.
Currently 60,000 vehicles a day cross the bridge, and this is expected to increase to 2 or 3 times the volume.
A website shows live construction: shipchannelbridge.org.
The Highlands Rotary Club has a history of helping others who are suffering from disasters, such as floods and hurricanes. In this case, they voted to send $1000 to be distributed by a Polish Rotary club, for relief for refugees from the war in Ukraine.
HIGHLANDS — The Chamber luncheon last week included a presentation, and discussion, of the Highlands/Lynchburg plan that Pct. 2 has commissioned, and also a discussion about whether the Highlands area should have a Management District to help implement the many facets and suggestions in the H/L Plan.
Chamber Director Jessica Woods led the discussion, with the help of Chamber Board chair Randy Casey. A small group of chamber members also participated, with their opinions and experiences. The plan was presented with slides, prepared by the consultants. These are Goodman Group, and Clark-Condon, as well as staff from Pct. 2. In her presentation, Woods made the point that the Chamber has not taken a position for or against the plan, and that it was still under discussion by all parties including the public.
The H/L Plan has been worked on for about 9 months, with presentations to the public, surveys and study groups and feedback incorporated. It is due to conclude in April. Through community engagement, outreach, and surveying, the issues and concerns identified by the community have been translated into three main objectives for the community plan:
SEC Charges Texas School District and its Former CFO with Fraud in $20 Million Bond Sale
Washington, D.C.— March 16, 2022 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Crosby Independent School District (Crosby ISD) and its former Chief Financial Officer, Carla Merka, with misleading investors in the sale of $20 million of municipal bonds in order to pay its outstanding construction liabilities and fund new capital projects.
The SEC also charged Crosby’s auditor, Shelby Lackey, with improper professional conduct in connection with the audit of the school district’s 2017 fiscal year financial statements.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Crosby ISD, which serves approximately 6,400 students outside of Houston, failed to report $11.7 million in payroll and construction liabilities and falsely reported having $5.4 million in general fund reserves in its audited 2017 fiscal year financial statements.
According to the complaint, Crosby ISD and Merka, who was responsible for Crosby ISD’s accounting and was the primary contact during the bond financing process, were aware that the financial statements significantly underreported the payroll and construction liabilities. Crosby ISD and Merka knowingly included the false and misleading financial statements in the offering documents used to raise $20 million through the sale of municipal bonds in January 2018.
MONT BELVIEU – Brian Winningham has been selected as the new city manager for the City of Mont Belvieu. Winningham was one of three finalists resulting from a six-month long nationwide search conducted by Strategic Government Resources (SGR) and the Mont Belvieu City Council; he was chosen for the position after final interviews that were held on February 18 and 19.
“We are excited to add Mr. Winningham’s experiences and vision to our city. We feel he is the right person to lead our staff during this time of unprecedented growth in Mont Belvieu,” said Mayor Nick Dixon.
Winningham’s contract with the City of Mont Belvieu was approved by the City Council during their regular meeting on Monday, February 28; his first day with the City of Mont Belvieu will be Monday, April 11.
HUFFMAN — The Huffman ISD board voted at their February meeting to call for an election for a new bond issue. According to district spokesperson Kristen Breaux, the total amount of the bond will be $98.9 million dollars. The election will take place on May 3rd.
Based on a study conducted for the board, the money will be used in the following categories:
• HIGH SCHOOL RENOVATION & EXPANSIONS $57.3 million
— 20 new classrooms, work on HVAC, Roof, Gym, Auditorium, DAEP
• MIDDLE SCHOOL RENOVATIONS & EXPANSIONS $17.3 million
— 15 new classrooms, Cafeteria expansion, Ag, Field House
With the RodeoHouston in full swing at NRG Center, the Highlands Rotary heard from Don Nichols of the speaker’s bureau of the Rodeo. Nichols is a past president of the Galena Park Rotary club.
He spoke about the history of the Houston Rodeo, starting in 1932 with one entertainer, Gene Autry, who sang for a whole week. Originally in the Sam Houston Coliseum, it moved to the Astrodome in 1966 and to NRG stadium in 2002.
Every year the Rodeo awards 2300 scholarships to college-bound seniors.
HOUSTON (Feb. 28, 2022) — During March, Harris Health System’s Troubleshooters Mobile Immunization Program is offering free immunizations for children two-months to 18-years of age and free flu vaccines to children six-months to 18-years of age.
To receive immunizations, a parent must be present with the child’s shot record. All shots will be given based on availability.
(All times are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. except when noted)