City and County Updates

The Woodlands TownshipThe Woodlands Township

A question for board Chairman Gordy Bunch

What are the next steps in regard to planning for incorporation?

The first incorporation workshop has been established for January. The intent is to allow for directors to lay out what their questions and concerns are [on the topic].

Big decisions made in 2016

  • New permanent ice skating rink
    The township opened the community’s new permanent ice skating rink in November as part of a joint partnership with The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

  • Creekside Park YMCA facility
    The $4.5 million purchase of the former Creekside Park YMCA facility will provide additional recreation services and programs for residents in the community. The facility is expected to reopen by mid-2017.

  • Gosling sports field complex
    The township’s parks system got a boost in 2016 with the addition of the Gosling sports field complex, which includes all-weather and natural turf fields.

  • Northshore Park renovations
    Renovations to Northshore Park began in late 2016, including the construction of a rowing clubhouse. Two clubs were able to attract a sponsor, Woodforest National Bank, to help pay for costs of building the facility.

Top issues for 2017

  • Fiscally conservative planning
    During the budget process for 2017, the township board of directors took a conservative approach due to a drop in sales tax revenue. Board Chairman Gordy Bunch said the township is in a good position financially with the money it has reserved for operations and capital expenditures planned for the year, along with having a stable tax rate.

  • Development concerns
    Residential concerns regarding construction and development were put before the board several times in 2016. In late January, the township board will discuss the creation of a committee to address similar issues that may not fall under township authority.

  • Cultural arts facility proposal
    Plans will continue to move forward for a proposed cultural arts center in The Woodlands. The township’s Economic Development Committee will continue to review details related to the project before the item comes back before the full board.

Shenandoah The 2016-17 Shenandoah City Council, from left: Jean Teague, Michael McLeod, John Houston, Darrell Frazier, Mayor Ritch Wheeler and Ron Raymaker[/caption]


A question for Mayor Ritch Wheeler

How will the City Council work to accommodate anticipated growth of Shenandoah on the east side of I-45?

Thankfully, with new development comes new tax revenue. We will be able to use that revenue to add police officers, public works employees and other infrastructure needs to help support those new developments.

Big decisions made in 2016

  • David Memorial Drive extension
    The extension of David Memorial Drive to Hwy. 242 was budgeted in fiscal year 2015-16 and will occur in three phases. The Shenandoah Municipal Development District is funding Phase 1, which will extend the road north from Shenandoah Park Drive to the south property line of the proposed MetroPark Square development.

  • Charter Review Committee
    As Shenandoah approaches a population of 5,000, the city is looking at transitioning from a general law city to a home rule city. In preparation, the city formed a Charter Review Committee of 14 residents to begin the process of drafting a home rule charter.

  • Strategic plan
    City staff developed departmental strategic plans five years ago, and the council and staff worked together for several months to develop an overall strategic plan model to guide the city.

Top issues for 2017

  • Fiber to the home internet
    City officials evaluated the level of internet service in Shenandoah during 2016 and formed a committee to review fiber to the home as an option. Following a request for qualifications, the committee is working toward implementation this year.

  • Underground utilities
    After assessing power outages, the city formed a committee to work with Entergy Texas and investigate options to improve electrical service. One option under consideration is placing utilities underground in areas that still have overhead power lines. Council is discussing a possible bond election to put the project to a vote by residents.

  • MetroPark Square development
    A large-scale mixed-use development is proposed adjacent to the existing Sam Moon Center in Shenandoah. The city will be addressing issues related to the development, such as increased traffic and roadways.

Oak Ridge North The 2016-17 Oak Ridge North City Council from left: Tom Coale, Mayor Jim Kuykendall, Frances Planchard, Clint McClaren, Michelle Cassio and Alex Jones[/caption]

Oak Ridge North

A question for Mayor Jim Kuykendall

What are your plans in 2017 for addressing mobility concerns in Oak Ridge North?

My plans for mobility in Oak Ridge North is for the engineering studies on Robinson Road to be completed and a recommendation go before the council for a decision.  Meanwhile, we look for the process the property owners along Robinson Road initiated to rezone their property to commercial progresses through planning and zoning.

Big decisions made in 2016

  • Robinson Road realignment
    One of the big decisions in Oak Ridge North in 2016 was developing a preliminary engineering study for a new alignment for Robinson Road.  This decision will allow the city to be ready for any financing opportunities that arise. The new alignment does not require removal of any homes or businesses.

  • Drainage study
    The city invested in a $300,000 drainage study to begin the long process of resolving drainage issues.

  • Industrial building
    The City Council approved the purchase of an industrial building custom-built for the needs of the police department. The new $260,000 building will provide 3,100 square feet of office space for the city’s officers and be located behind City Hall.

Top issues for 2017

  • Mobility
    Mobility will be a top issue for the city of Oak Ridge North in 2017. The city is home to roughly 3,040 people and sits on 1.5 square miles. Residents are sandwiched between two larger communities, the approximately 120,000 people to the west in The Woodlands, and another 36,000 residents to the east. There are also 16,000 motorists a day and growing along Robinson Road—a road built for 2,000 cars a day. City officials have been challenged to find a solution.

  • Drainage District 6
    Sam Bell Gully, which runs behind the businesses along I-45 to the south into Drainage District 6, is the main conduit for stormwater from the city. The city recently invested deeply in a comprehensive drainage study to determine what issues the city has and what solutions are available. City officials learned the city is not the major contributor to Sam Bell Gully. This ditch also receives water from The Woodlands Town Center and even more from I-45. Finding a solution for residents is still a top priority.

Montgomery County The 2016-17 Montgomery County Commissioners Court, from left: James Noack, Jim Clark, Judge Craig Doyal, Mike Meador and Charlie Riley[/caption]

Montgomery County

A question for County Judge Craig Doyal

What is the biggest priority for the county in 2017?

Mobility, mobility, mobility. With the idea that we are expected to reach 1 million people in the next 15 to 20 years ... we need to be prepared for that growth.

Big decisions made in 2016

  • Thoroughfare plan
    In late January, the Commissioners Court approved a countywide 50-year thoroughfare plan to identify future transportation needs and potential road projects. The plan includes a proposed controversial extension of Woodlands Parkway from FM 2978 to Hwy. 249 and a connection between FM 1486 and FM 149. The plan is expected to be updated every five years.

  • Animal shelter director
    After the city took control of the shelter from Care Corporation in 2015, the court named Michael White as the new director; however, he left after only eight days. Following the resignation of a second appointee in the fall, the court named Charles Jackson as the new director in November. He began work in mid-December.

Top issues for 2017

  • Road bond projects
    The county will continue work on projects from the November 2015 road bond, such as the widening of Rayford Road, Research Forest Drive and Hwy. 105.

  • Judge and commissioner indictment
    A trial date has been set for March 27 for Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark regarding an alleged violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act while negotiating terms for the 2015 road bond. If convicted, the offense would be designated a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by 1-6 months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both; the officials would also be terminated from their elected positions.


Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

Montgomery County is set to receive its largest first-dose allocation during the week of March 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County set to receive largest vaccine allocation yet in first week of March

Nearly 20,000 vaccine doses were allocated to the county's two vaccine hubs and several additional providers for the week of March 1.

A coronavirus vaccine is given at Memorial Hermann's mass vaccine clinic Feb. 26. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann closes out 2nd round of vaccines with 7,000 distributed among 2 clinics

The clinic will continue operations through 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

The Woodlands Township board of directors met Feb. 24 to discuss items including winter storm recovery and a financial report. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands officials criticize county officials over CARES Act funds management; commissioner fires back

The Woodlands Township board of directors criticized Montgomery County's methods of allocating federal coronavirus aid at the board's Feb. 24 meeting, calling the $244,000 the township received a "slap in the face."

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Greater Houston Builders Association President Keith Luechtefeld discusses power, plumbing, frozen pipes after Winter Storm Uri

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather.

Harris County ESD No. 11 commissioners met for a meeting Feb. 25. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County ESD No. 11 begins construction process on new facility

District offiicials have said they hope Phase 1 of construction will be complete by August.

Winter Storm Uri led to closures across the Greater Houston area during the third week of February. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
‘It’s been a rough year for us’: Expert explains economic effects of winter storm, ongoing pandemic in Houston region

“It's been a rough year for us economically; it's been a rough year for us public health wise. It's just been a rough year for us psychologically—first the coronavirus and then the freeze," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research with the Greater Houston Partnership.

Gracie Barra The Woodlands relocated to a new training center on Richards Road earlier this year. (Courtesy Gracie Barra The Woodlands)
New cosmetic services, MMA gym: 5 recent business updates in The Woodlands and northern Spring

Several businesses have recently opened in or relocated into The Woodlands area.

In addition to produce, Theiss Farms offers grass-fed beef. The family’s herd of cattle grazes in a pasture near the intersection of Spring Cypress and Stuebner Airline roads. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Theiss Farms Market owner on winter storm: 'I knew everything was going to die, and it did'

Nothing could have prepared local farmers for last week's winter storm, Theiss Farms Market co-owner Dwayne Theiss said.