Montgomery County Commissioners Court held a meeting Dec. 8. Here are three takeaways.

Land lease agreement for county safe house

Commissioners approved a land lease agreement and a master agreement with the Christian Covenant School in Conroe to construct a county safe house for first responders to base themselves.

Jason Millsaps, the director of the county’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, presented the agreement and described the project as a “near-indestructible dome” on the school’s campus.

According to the agreement, the structure will be approximately 19,000 square feet and can house up to 674 first responders.

“A hardened bunker would be necessary to house first responders for these types of disasters,” Millsaps told commissioners.

According to Millsaps, Montgomery County would lease the land from the school, which would then be responsible for constructing and maintaining the dome for the next 30 years. Millsaps said TDEM would cover Covenant’s cost-share agreement, and that FEMA grants issued post-Harvey would also fund the project, which he described as having “no cost to the county.”

Following a question from Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, Millsaps clarified that while state agencies could partner with first responders in the bunker, the bunker itself would be a local asset and under the county’s control during a disaster.

Dr. Glenn Slater, the school’s headmaster, said it was the school’s duty to give back to the community.

“Most importantly to us, we wanted to serve our county,” Slater said.

County casts appraisal district votes

Commissioners also cast votes for the Montgomery County Appraisal District board of directors, following some discussion.

The five-member board of directors is responsible for governing the appraisal district, according to the MCAD website. The board does not value individual properties but is instead responsible for handling “major administrative and financial decisions,” such as selecting the district’s chief appraiser.

Board members are elected by taxing units, such as cities, special districts, and Montgomery County, and serve two-year terms. 5,000 votes are collected across all taxing units, with Montgomery County having the most with 920.

County Judge Mark Keough and Noack brought forward a motion putting the county’s votes towards Peggy Hausman, who is a current board member and former director of The Woodlands Township. However, the motion failed with the other three commissioners voting against.

Keough said that not making a unanimous decision on the county’s chosen candidate could dilute the available votes.

“If our votes are diluted, we could be pushed out by the school districts,” Keough said.

Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts made a motion to cast the county’s votes for Frank Smith. According to a bio the MCAD received, Smith is the owner and operator of ET Motors in New Caney.

The motion to cast votes for Smith was passed unanimously, without further discussion. A spokesperson for Metts’ office did not respond to a request for comment on the commissioner’s motion.

County ESD candidates appointed

Commissioners voted to approve commissioners of the boards of emergency service districts 1, 4, 7, 8 and 14.

The appointments were confirmed as part of the consent agenda section of the meeting, which meant there was no open discussion. However, Precinct 3 Commissioner Noack moved to have a closed executive session before confirming the appointments for ESDs 8 and 14.

The confirmed changes are below.

Montgomery County ESD No. 1:

  • J. Steven Weisinger, Sharene Carr and David Cooper will be reappointed to two-year terms.

Montgomery County ESD No. 4:

  • Brian Arceneaux and Karen Keels will be reappointed to two-year terms.

Montgomery County ESD No. 7:

  • Wanda James, Jan Peterson and Jacqueline Vat will be reappointed to two-year terms.

Montgomery County ESD No. 8:

  • Rodney Otto will resign effective Dec. 31 and be replaced by Jeff Windham for a two-year term effective Jan. 1, 2022.

  • James Kelly’s term will end Dec. 31, and he will be replaced by Shawn Lafferty for a two-year term effective Jan. 1, 2022.

  • Leah Gray’s term will end Dec. 31, and she will be replaced by Cassidy Rodriguez for a two-year term effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Montgomery County ESD No. 14:

  • Alan Dreesen, Shirley Grandjean and Danny Olsen will be reappointed to two-year terms.