Friday, October 7, 2011

Dan Norris runs for Constable, Montgomery County Precinct 3


Lt Dan Norris

A seasoned law enforcement officer of the Montgomery County Sherriff's office, Lt. Dan Norris, is an empty nester, living with his wife, Brandy, in Oak Ridge, just east of The Woodlands. He is currently running for the position of Constable, Precinct 3 of Montgomery County. Reporting to the Justice of the Peace in this position, he would lead a staff of 25 officers and administrative staff to perform the constitutional duties of serving legal papers for the court and fulfilling contracts of neighborhoods. The boundaries of precinct 3 is shown in this map.

His views of the future of the Constable's office is outlined in the video. His background includes a variety of training during his career, as well as a variety of deputy, detective and administrative assignments. This is an important position for The Woodlands, which falls under the jurisdiction of precinct three. The election primary is coming up this Spring, and the final election next November. Lt Dan is at many functions in South county these days, where he meets many residents from all walks of life. His view of the office's duties clearly includes significant interaction with the community.

His background has included being part of an exchange officer program, to learn policing in other cultures and experience cultural difference in the approach to policing. He also hosts foreign officers, his next hosting assignment is with the Vietnam delegation. He has been to Poland and Mexico to see their operations and learn from them. In Mexico, he picked some Spanish. He has an appreciation for those who are living here, but cannot yet take part in the election process.

Lt Dan Norris has been heavily involved as a leader with the county's emergency response team in west county's recent wildfire. He was a commander of the team.

I am sure you will appreciate what he says about himself, his campaign and what he offers to the community in this 12-minute video, a product of the WoodlandsPhotoStudio and the WoodlandsCommentary.com.


video


+ Dan Norris 2012 Campaign website
+ Constable website, Montgomery County Pct 3

Monday, June 21, 2010

Joel Deretchin is awarded special recognition



The Woodlands Township Board of Directors proclaimed June 21, 2010 "Joel Deretchin Day" for his many years of service, dedication and leadership to The Woodlands, Texas. The Woodlands Township’s Board of Directors gave honor to him with a special Proclamation.

 “The Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township commends Joel L. Deretchin for his countless contributions to the creation of a lasting foundation for The Woodlands community, thereby making The Woodlands one of the most emulated planned communities in the world,” said Bruce Tough, Chairman of the Board, The Woodlands Township.

For more than 33 years, he worked for The Woodlands Development Company and its predecessors, and served in every aspect of the community in The Woodlands, from governance, education, social and religious services to non-profit and philanthropic organizations and economic development.

For many years, he led the community associations, having served as president of The Woodlands Community Association, The Woodlands Association, The Woodlands Commercial Owners Association, The Woodlands Community Service Corporation and The Woodlands Fire Department.  During this time, he also oversaw the development of the award-winning parks and recreation system in The Woodlands.

In addition, Mr. Deretchin helped found 18 of the 19 Conroe ISD schools in the Woodlands, The University Center, The John Cooper School and the Villager newspaper. He also chaired many not-for-profit boards, including Interfaith of The Woodlands and Montgomery County Youth Services. He was the founding president of Congregation Beth Shalom.

He has been named Citizen of the Year, a Hometown Hero and a Paul Harris Fellow. CISD named the Joel L. Deretchin Elementary School in his honor.

His leadership and dedication to The Woodlands has truly been outstanding,” Chairman Tough said. “The Woodlands is a world-class community and much of this can be attributed to his vision, his leadership, his commitment, and his love of The Woodlands.


PROCLAMATION CELEBRATING DEDICATION TO THE WOODLANDS

A Proclamation of the Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township of Montgomery
and Harris Counties, Texas, in honor of Joel L. Deretchin, for his leadership, dedication to community, commitment, wisdom and knowledge over the past 33 years.

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin made a study of municipalities and turned it into a multifaceted lifelong career, working on seven planned communities before settling in The Woodlands in 1977, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has been associated with The Woodlands Development Company and its predecessors for 33 years, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has overseen the development of a community management and governance system which has grown from a population of 1,500 to more than 92,000 today, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has been involved in every aspect of community development in The Woodlands, including governance, education, social and religious services, non-profit and philanthropic organizations and economic development, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has dedicated countless hours as president and member of the boards of The Woodlands Community Association, The Woodlands Association, The Woodlands Commercial Owners Association, The Woodlands Community Service Corporation and The Woodlands Fire Department, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has overseen the planning and development of the award-winning parks and recreation system in The Woodlands, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has been involved in the planning and early development stages of 18 of the 19 Conroe ISD schools in The Woodlands, and helped found The University Center, The John Cooper School, The Academy for Lifelong Learning at Montgomery College and The Villager newspaper, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin K-6 School was named in his honor, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has been a director and has chaired many non-profit boards including Interfaith of The Woodlands and Montgomery County Youth Services, and;

WHEREAS, Joel L. Deretchin has been named one of the original Hometown Heroes of The Woodlands, The Chamber’s Citizen of the Year in 1990, and a Paul Harris Fellow by The Woodlands Rotary Club, and;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED, that the Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township of Montgomery and Harris Counties, Texas, commends Joel L. Deretchin for his countless contributions to the creation of a lasting foundation for The Woodlands community, thereby making The Woodlands one of the most emulated planned communities in the world, and now proclaims June 21, 2010 as Joel L. Deretchin Day in The Woodlands, Texas.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED this, the 17th day of June, 2010.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nina Marino - next Chair of South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce



The South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce Chamber announced today that Nina Marino of Nina A. Marino, Your Texas Realtor/Keller Williams, has been named Chairman of The Chamber’s Board of Directors for the chamber's 2010-2011 fiscal year, which begins September 1st! She is currently The Chamber’s Vice President of Committed Volunteers.

Nina said, “I am very honored to serve the South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce as Chairman of the Board for 2010-2011.  I have been a part of The Chamber for so long that I cannot remember not being involved. This Chamber of Commerce is the best business tool in our Community. Building relationships in business, and in friendship, is a big part of being a Member. Working toward the same goal with other Chamber Members creates bonds that enable The Chamber to become bigger and better--and thereby creating strength in our Business Community. Over the past three years, I have worked closely with the Young Professionals of our Community and it has been very rewarding. My goal will be to move forward with our Young Professionals, bringing them closer to The Chamber Membership for the future.”

Nina is a Residential and Commercial Realtor in The Woodlands. She has her designation with GRI Certification and is a Certified Luxury Home Specialist, affiliated with Keller Williams Realty. She is a recognized and accomplished Business Leader and Business Owner in South Montgomery County. 

As Founder and previous Owner of RDI RateSavers for more than 15 years, Nina built her reputation and business by serving the Community. She is incredibly active in the Community and Leadership by serving on The Chamber’s Board for two 3-year terms, chairing and participating on numerous Chamber Teams over the past 20 years, and receiving Volunteer of the Year 2004-2005. 

She is the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board for Leadership Montgomery County and served five years on that Board; Partner and past Board Member of Economic Development Partnership (EDP); Member and past Board Member of Executive Woman’s Alliance (EWA); Member of the National, Texas and Houston Associations of Realtors; and two-time Past President of The Woodlands Lions Club. She also served as the Lions’ Representative for the Gift of Sight Program in The Woodlands for six years; she received Friend of Education acknowledgement from Conroe ISD’s Vogel Intermediate School. 

Nina’s lifelong passion is helping better the Business and Residential Community. A native Houstonian, she has lived in The Woodlands for more than 25 years, where she and her husband, Michael, raised their three children.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rob Eisler

With an office in Montgomery, the heart of Montgomery County and a home and family in The Woodlands, Mr. Eisler is best known for his initiatives to change the educational standards and framework in Texas to a higher quality system. He has concluded that the system adopted for programming the system to pass standard tests has not produced the quality he believes is possible and desirable in our system. In fact, the current system has been detrimental to educating our children. He instead seeks an education for our children that goes back to the basics and prepares a child to enter the university system.

Two tiers of education are on his agenda - (1) university readiness and (2) work place readiness. The goal is to provide a ready graduate asset to business enterprise and develop stronger competitiveness for the children when compared to private schools, other states and international standards. School accountability is a means to help achieve his goals. He has sponsored several bills along this line and led a committee to achieve his goals. Rob Eisler, named as one of the top ten legislators in Texas in 2009, is seeking again to occupy his district 15 seat so that he can continue his campaign for our children, along with other programs to produce a better governed Texas. He has worked fervently to achieve his goals. One observer who went to Austin noted that Mr Eisler was supercharged to get things done even when the legislature was ending this past year. He was using every minute of time available to get things done, even at night.

Rob Eisler is also noted for his efforts to help The Woodlands through the conversion from an association directed government to a more formal tax-based township governing structure. This has given residents independence from the city of Houston and enabled total uninterrupted community services to residents. His efforts in the last two legislative sessions have been broad, not just focused on these two focal points of law.

Last year, he had an issue with the ethics committee of Texas. That incident and fine was regrettable. However, if you've seen the complications in reporting your financials to the government, it is easy to see that some things get out of balance in the fray of the workload. In my estimation, he could have done better with that issue, but he chose to stick to the legislative agenda rather than contest the issue at the time. He paid his fine and I am reasonably sure he has changed his methods of accounting. One has to be reasonably tolerant of such things for people so busy. Although fined, I am treating that incident as not a deliberate ethics issue and not very important in the larger picture. I do however believe in being straight forward and telling the public what happened and why. This is my own personal position on that matter.

More details can be found on this Woodlands resident on his legislative web page.
District 15 - Rob Eisler
and a brief profile on State Surge in addition to a list of links to sponsored and co-sponsored bills:
Rob Eisler Profile

His broad interests include his religious affiliation with the United Methodist Church, radio announcer for football games (TWHS), childrens sports, served on the board of CISD, and other activities.

Campaign website

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alan B Sadler, Montgomery County Judge

A born and raised Texan and native resident of Montgomery County, Judge Alan B Sadler is our County Judge. He works out of his county office in downtown Conroe. In my recent interview with him, I found the gentleman to be very open, and as he stated it, “I am an open book.”

Judge Sadler was born in Conroe, in the local hospital on 1st Street. His father was the one and only Dr. Sadler, founder of the Sadler Clinic. His father actually worked at the exact location of the building where the judge’s current office is located. Conroe has grown quite a bit since those days.

I could tell he is a strong supporter of his alma mater, by his enthusiasm for the University of Texas in Austin. I have yet to meet someone from UT or A&M who were not proud of their university roots. He graduated with a Finance degree and remained in that profession for many years. His career began with InterFirst Bank, as a lender for real estate loans. That is the Bank of America today. At one time, it was North Carolina national Bank (NCNB). The judge hit my funny bone when he revealed the acronym on the street, “No Cash for NoBody”. He switched to developing commercial real estate after his twelve banking years. Then in 1989 he decided to seek a public office and was elected to his current position in 1990.

His greatest satisfaction has come from hours of toil with budgets and keeping taxes under $.050/$100 for his entire career in office. Today, the tax rate is lower than it was in 1989. “There have been difficult choices and tough cuts (budget). I like being in touch with the pulse of the community, responding to people’s needs. I find it satisfying and challenging. Today, the county government is fairly quiet and that is good news. Not so much controversy.”

The judge’s private life has been active and rewarding to him also. He has four children, two at home and two married. He has two families, beginning with the two girls who are both married now and when they got old enough, he and his wife decided to have another pair, this time two boys! They were totally different, offering diversity in his life. One of his daughters teaches first grade right here in The Woodlands. The other graduated from Vanderbilt University and is preparing to start on her MBA program. His sons attend high school in this county. He proudly displays his family’s photographs in his office.

He was recently in the news in a negative way. He and I talked about that. It is of course water under the bridge now, but I wanted to know a little more what happened. He would like to pass on some advice to people. “When taking medicine for an illness (in his case for pain from dental work), don’t consume any alcohol.” There is a lesson to be learned here. He was involved in a very minor rear-end accident (two small scratches on the other person’s car). He is not a regular drinker but engages infrequently in social drinking, as he did that day. It was a mistake to drive that day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stefanie Somers - Designer and Creator of Pageant Jewelry

We have quite a legend right here in The Woodlands, Texas. Coming here from Baltimore in 1992, Stefanie Somers lives just outside of The Woodlands proper. She is living her second career now. Her first was also in a glitzy venue that she loved, a ballroom dancing studio! "I still miss that." It all came to an end as the result of an injury she incurred years ago. She came into the ballroom business after winning the USA Amateur Ballroom title in her last year of college. Then after the injury, she changed her profession out of necessity. She is very well known in the United States as the lady who puts the glamor in glamor. Among her clients include competitors in the USA, America and Galaxy pageant systems at various stages of competition. She by no means limits her work to the major pageants. She also creates accessories for local pageant contestants, brides, dancers and participants in any event where a lady is looking to be unique. She has no store front other than her website.2 She does not design or create crowns such you would see for the winner of a major pageant, nor a tiara. If you are in a pageant and don't go to her for help for your evening gown jewelry, you are missing the edge in competition when you face the judges.

This year, all one needs to know about Stefanie's creativity is to look no further than First Runner-up Miss USA 2009 in her evening gown.2 Carrie Prejean (Miss California) wore her spectacular white earrings, the creation of Stefanie. She has been on various television shows. Another example is Miss Utah, Laura Kirilova Chukanov, who was third Runner-up in the same pageant, in her yellow gown, wearing her customized yellow earrings by Stefanie. Second Runner-up (not pictured) Miss Arizona, Alicia-Monique Blanco was also wearing her unique jewelry. In fact, five of the top ten in the Miss USA Pageant this year were wearing jewelry designed and built by this creative artist. Each contestant using Stefanie's services wears unique jewelry customized for that individual for that contest. The jewelry is of course designed with the dress colors and style in mind, but much more goes into the uniqueness of the product. The personality of the girl, her frame and her features will play a part in the selection of stone cuts and colors.

This lady works exceptionally hard to get the job done. Often she is under tremendous pressure to produce her product and put it into the hands of the contestant near the day of the pageant. The night before I interviewed her, she was up all night working on a project.

Stefanie has her own design philosophies, which have evolved over the years. For one, she has to get to know the contestant, not just work from a photograph. The contestant actually designs the creation through her individual uniqueness. It is up to Stefanie to interpret that uniqueness. "The girl's silhouette is very important" says Stefanie. "The girl should sparkle ten feet away". I use the best crystal available and have a privileged direct designer account with the company making them, giving me access to their remarkable palette of crystal cuts and colors.", "company" being Swarovski1 "I have an immense inventory of many colors and shapes. Looking at these stones is like being in a candy store."

When asked about interesting experiences in this business, she replied. "Every once in a while I get a call from the hotel where the girls have already gathered for a pageant, and one asks me if I can design her accessories before the pageant. That happened this year. This simply cracks me up!" There is of course a lot of planning and preparation required to successfully compete in these events. Some of the girls are not aware of the extent of preparation by some of their competitors until they see them with their personalized jewelry and say "oh no, I need one of those too!". It is then too late. "Another memory also comes to mind. I have done some custom work for Disney, for example the buttons on the shirt of Mickey Mouse that he wears in Disney World for firework displays, as the orchestra leader. I am also particularly happy to be the designer of Cinderella's crown, which I am sure just about everyone has seen. I was privileged to go backstage and see the Disney operation as a result of my work. A fond memory. I also get to see the real people who are in the public eye. To see these wonderful dresses of pageant contestants is a joy of mine."

I have to say, it is apparent when talking to her, that she enjoys her work.

Stefanie has two children and is able to be there for them, since she does her work in her very large studio near their home. At times, she employs a substantial number of people to help with the work. Her daughter also often helps her with the business.

She was recently interviewed on Pageant Talk Radio3. That is an interesting conversation, if you want to spend the time with it. She wrote an article in Pageantry Magazine that you may also find interesting and useful if you have some event where you want to be unique. She also gives advice on selecting earrings that will go with any color gown. 4

Contact information
Stefanie Somers, Inc.
stefanie@stefaniesomers.com
800.400.4312 Toll Free
936-273-2488 Houston local
936-273-1729 Fax

References
1 Swarovski Crystal website
2 Stefanie Somers Website
3 Pageant Talk Radio
4 Pageantry Magazine article by Stefanie Somers, "Opposing Forces"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bonnie Hubert

Bonnie Hubert was recently crowned Mrs. Texas International. She lives right here in The Woodlands. This is her final stepping-stone to the Mrs. International pageant to be held July 17-18 in Chicago, IL. The first step was winning the Mrs. Woodlands pageant. Now as Mrs. Texas International, Bonnie is acting as a Goodwill Ambassador for not only The Woodlands, but the entire state of Texas. She is engaged in some forty completed or scheduled appearances such as judging the Woodlands Idol Contest, appearing at the Market Street Go Texan Event, Montgomery County Fair, American Cancer Relay for Life, Montgomery County March of Dimes “March for babies.” The majority of time is spent as a spokesperson for Montgomery County CASA. Her goal is to help CASA double the number of child advocates in this county. This milestone in her life in itself is quite an accomplishment, but the story only culminates here. We have to go back in time and look at her credentials to understand what has transpired in her life, why she was nominated for recognition in Who’s Who and where she is headed. She is a lady with a mission and goes to great lengths to accomplish that mission. “This has grown to something larger than I first envisioned”, she admits, “but it is all worthwhile.”

Her passion is with children. She has worked as a bilingual teacher, school counselor and now the Crisis Intervention Specialist for the Conroe Independent School District. She is the mother of three and an advocate for abused and neglected children. She seeks no personal gain for being Mrs. Texas. From day one of her competition, her goal has been to promote CASA, an organization which is an “advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home.” This is the primary reason she has been nominated for Who’s Who. When you meet her personally, you have no doubt as to that passion and the impact she is bound to have on our community, as well as statewide, or even nationally.

As a teacher and counselor for CISD, she has encountered a number of issues, which have stimulated her passion to help more children. She would like to double the number of volunteers from the community and now statewide for CASA. “I have no doubt that when people truly understand what CASA is all about and how easy it is to help CASA kids, the volunteer numbers will increase dramatically. It’s all about awareness. I know I can help CASA locally and statewide by being out there spreading the CASA message. The CASA message is simple-- When you give a child a CASA, you give a child a voice. When you give a child a voice you give them hope and when you give a child hope, you give them the world.”

In CISD she works to educate parents and educational institutions on behavioral intervention techniques, as well as a variety of other youth related topics. “My goal is to bring awareness to the public many youth issues, as well as provide community resources and support.”

With her bilingual skills (Spanish/English), she is personally able to reach out to a number of situations in the community. When she taught bilingual students, she led her students to 100% reading and 90% math proficiencies. She also was a campus representative for the CISD READS program and the CISD representative for the Texas Educational System TAKS Review Committee.

With a background in mental health as a professional licensed counselor, our Mrs. Texas has worked in private practice as well, conducting individual, family, and group counseling. In that capacity she had experience in interviewing, assessing, and identifying mental health or other problems using approved assessment instruments, social history, and consultation with various resources.

Bonnie feels that physical wellness is as important as mental wellness. She works as a group fitness instructor for the YMCA and Gold’s Gym teaching early morning classes 4 days each week. “Exercise is the best medicine to release stress. It’s a sacrifice to wake up at 4:30 four days a week, but it makes a big difference in every aspect of my life. When I exercise I have more physical and mental energy. It’s a way to remain strong so that I can be a super mom as well as make a difference in my job and community.”

Bonnie Hubert graduated from Sam Houston State University in 1997 with a B.A. in Education, Magna Cum Laude with a specialization in Spanish. She went on to obtain her Masters of Arts in counseling from Texas Southern University in 2002. She obtained her professional counselor certification and license from Sam Houston State University in 2004.

Mrs. Hubert can be contacted via her personal email at …… hubert97@sbcglobal.net, Personal Email address (click here)

Related Links

1 CASA
2 Mrs. Texas International pageant Winners

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tommy Williams- Woodlands resident in the news

Many of us know Tommy Williams. We have either met him at some political event or Woodlands event. If we don't know him, we at least see the sign advertising the location of his official local office here. As a resident of The Woodlands, he has made a tremendous impact on our community by pushing the deal with the City of Houston to not be annexed. He also led the way towards legislation in his Senate role so that we could legally establish an alternate government that would enable us to legally sever the jurisdiction that Houston had on our community. He will be helping us this session with needed legislation that has been discussed and acted on by the Township's Governance and Nominations Committee. Those legislative priorities will be debated and voted on in this month's regularly scheduled Township meeting. Like usual, time runs out quickly our bi-annual state legislature. There are just a few months to get bills passed. So we will call on him again for help. His influence in the Senate is important to getting this done.

Tommy Williams is in the news this week. His long tenure in Austin has made him more powerful and influential each year. A commentary in today's Austin Statesman presents him in this role and I recommend its reading. Click here to read the article.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Devereaux Macy - IndianSprings Resident

Devereaux Macy joined the "it is time for change" movement before it even actually happened. One might say she found what the public wanted before Obama's presidential campaign defined change. She is our resident author who set out in July 2007 and after two months, entering 48 states, and 13000 miles of road, she brought back raw video to show the world. By January, 2008, she had the material on a DVD and was sending it out to others. Her purpose was to show that the American public does indeed hold a different opinion than key government officials. So she sent the video DVD to the president of the United States, 50 governors, top presidential candidates, and every member of the United States Congress, hoping that her point would be understood. She got little response, but a few acknowledgments were received. Then she set out for others to tell her story. This is where I came into the picture.

Devereaux had never even held a video camera before she set out on this journey. She rapidly became accustomed to taping, as she asked her pointed questions to those who would spend a minute with her on the streets of many different cities. Those questions, directed at a widely diverse audience, sought opinions about the environment, education, economy, Iraq war, and health care. This was a time she considered to be important because of the coming elections, but beyond that, she was "homeless and free" as well. That is, she was not tied down at the time and could "afford" to set out on such a impromptu journey to fulfill her dream. So she did.

She wants to influence the return of a government respecting the opinions of the American people. The resultant video has become known as "America Speaks". She stated "Because the people we have elected and are paying to represent us, are not and have not been listening to the American people for a very long time. It is time we changed that." She believes the American people are being short-changed and deserve to get what our forefathers intended, a government of the people, and for the people. You can read more of this work by the link provided below - "Let America Speak".

Just before the election, Fox News decided her work would be useful for the election and published it, using state-of-the art video editing and publishing techniques. They limited the audience to Texas even though the content had national scope. This work by Fox News is available online by watching this video.

Resources on this topic

Now that the election is past, we know that nationally, voters have chosen change, just as she said they were asking for in her travels.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ed Chance Commissioner Precinct 3, Montgomery County Texas

At the office of Ed Chance on a recent workday, I experienced a meeting worth sharing. The commissioner gave some key insights into his precinct's operation and his own personal aspirations in this job. You would not know his deep commitment to the community and enthusiasm by just a casual meeting, but talk to him for a while and one finds a very informed person who is not afraid to step out in front of the pack to get the job done, and a person driving change. It is readily apparent to the informed observer that he is a family man of distinction, serving the community in every practical way.

Arriving here in 1967, he set his roots into equipment and road-related work. Years later, he would use the knowledge acquired in that work to serve the county. In 1986, an opportunity came along to serve the county's residents when a vacancy in precinct 3 opened. The commissioner's job became available, and someone needed to fill it until the next election. So he was asked if he had interest in that job. He then was appointed to the position; the rest is history. In the election of November 1986, he became a public servant for two years, re-elected in 1988 and has been elected to the position every four years since. He likes being in this job, living in close proximity to his grown children, all who have found residence and employment here. Retirement is not an option. He arrives at work early and leaves late; keeps a rigorous schedule; often travels to Austin to participate in state issues, and is generally a person with an urgent mission in front of him. There is no time to retire and much to do.

His focus starts where the tire meets the road, the mobility of people in and around his precinct. He has managed to establish a very modern network of automated traffic lights in South Montgomery County. Understanding cost vs benefit, he has also established the first Texas county red light camera ticketing system. That accomplishment involved a significant effort, which included the convincing of the state legislature. He first collected data on the roads of his precinct and then presented the data to the state as evidence of the benefits that could be derived from using cameras on the county roads. The initial project in our area has been successful. “We do not make any money on it. Financially, it is a wash." As a result of his efforts, he became the first to deploy the cameras under the auspices of county government in Texas. Asked about his successes with this technology, he said, "Well I have some excellent staff here". Next on his agenda is to utilize these cameras for speed control, to keep the traffic consistently moving on our main arteries.

He is on the county rail committee and other committees charged to look at various alternatives to transport people within the county and regionally. If we were to have a mass transit rail service, "it would require an entirely new right-of-way and track system, a high cost project". The existing rail system is just too congested to utilize for public transportation. He was quick to point out that a new service has been made available to county residents for point pick-up and drop-off. Added park and ride services will also help transport people efficiently in the county. One of the issues here is that the park and rides fill up within about two months after opening. There is a very large demand for this bus service to Houston. The Conroe park and ride service will be re-instituted within the next month.

Mr. Chance and I reviewed videos of two of the available road technologies - x-ray road scanning and a new road surface. Look for a future article on these technologies and his description of their future in our county. His pet automobile traffic management system Northstar will also be described in the technology article. Northstar has its own web page. Click here to access it.

There will be continued road expansions to handle the growth of south county. Taking the heavy load off of the Woodlands Parkway by providing east/west alternatives is one of his primary objectives. That will be accomplished by more traffic lanes, automated traffic lights, optimized timing of lights, and additional turning lanes.

Road maintenance is a very big issue for precinct 3. Some of the roads in The Woodlands, specifically in Grogan's Mill Village, have far exceeded their life expectancy. Look for a considerable need to repair or resurface these roads within the next eight years. That is where the new surface and road analysis technologies will likely play a big role in our precinct.

Another area of responsibility is the recycling Center. The original reason for this center was to take the trash off of our roads. “If you don’t have a place to throw it away, it will end up on the roads.” Recycling has given residents an alternative to the dumping of unwanted items on county property. It has also reduced the amount of material going into our landfill disposal sites. We have met all our objectives with this effort. Our center provides recycled paint, and various materials that people just did not want but others find useful; we dispose of toxic materials; we send computers and other electronic equipment (made of toxic materials) to companies under contract to recycle them. If residents want some freshly mulched tree wood, we have that here for free as well. Clicking here can access the recycling center’s web page.

A third area of responsibility is the Spring Creek Greenway. Mr. Chance has been heavily involved in this project. He got into the program early, partnering with his counterpart across the creek in Harris County. Part of it is right next door to the commissioner’s office. Look for an article on this in the future. Link to the Greenway project.

Last year, the county annex was moved to a new building named in honor of him, the Ed Chance Courthouse Annex on Lake Front Circle off of Grogan’s Mill Road.

Ed Chance will continue to be a pioneer in Montgomery County, and we will all benefit from his efforts. As I was leaving his office, a "mountain" of data was delivered to him to review for a planning activity. References:

  1. Montgomery County Precinct Official Web Site www.mctx.org/commis3/
  2. Montgomery County Northstar System www.mctraffic.org

Related Articles published in July 2008:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sheriff Gage of Montgomery County Texas in 2008

I had the recent privilege of talking to our Sheriff, Tommy Gage. He is a Texan, born in California on the day that the nuclear bomb exploded in Hiroshima Japan. Everyone who meets our sheriff likes him. He is a straight shooter, taking clear aim at the issues, just like a Texan would do. Walking into his office with his Texas style furniture, he exclaims with great enthusiasm, wearing his famous red, white & blue patriotic tie, "Hello brother Randy". I knew right away that I would not be disappointed with our ensuing conversation!

Mr. Sheriff, how do you like this job?
Man, I love this job! "It doesn't get any better than this!" I want to finish this upcoming term, and one more, for a twelve-year tenure, and then retire. I have been in this business now for 38 years. It all started with the Houston Police Department in 1970. When Kathy Whitmire and her crew came to town in 1982, I went to better pastures with the Montgomery Sheriff's office to work for Joe Corley. Then Guy Williams was voted into office, and he kept me in my position, before promoting me to Lieutenant. In 1996, I resigned from the Sheriff’s Office and went to work for Constable Tim Holifield as a Lieutenant. I was assigned to Pct. II Commissioner Malcolm Purvis’ office. I served there as the Public Relations Officer, mostly environmental work. Enforcing the laws of illegal dumping brings back the memories of a large, illegal dumpsite known as the Thomas Dump Site, a construction debris dumpsite. Commissioner Purvis and I went to Austin and met with officials at the Attorney General’s office. We accomplished getting the site cleaned up and ended the problem.

In 2003 I decided to run for Sheriff and campaigned for 2 years. In January of 2005, I was sworn in as Sheriff. Now I am living my dream, which will be a great way to end my Law Enforcement career, as a Texas Sheriff.

Since taking office you have had four citizen’s academies sponsored by your office. What is your opinion on its usefulness? Well, I have to tell you, there is always a diverse group of people in that academy, learning what we do and how we do it. It is our opportunity to show off the Sheriff's office, because we are Texas proud! We are the 7th largest Sheriff’s department in this great state. Harris County is the largest. Other counties call upon us, especially when they need help with a murder case, or taking evidence when they do not have the proper equipment or support staff. Our investigative staff is superb, and we have the tools to help other counties. This academy helps the image of our department in the eyes of the public.

Sheriff, you have a reputation of cleaning up the jail. One of my classmates remarked that the new supervised pod that we toured is better than home. I guess you are talking about our direct supervision. Yes, that one is for very good conduct. When we came into office, the place was understaffed. There was no money to open the supervised pods. At our request, Commissioners Court gave us money to hire 89 more people, 54 of which were for this new facility. After correcting the deficiencies and ridding the place of bad odors; the jail passed the state inspection. Then we hired the 54 employees to staff the new facility. You know with our new facility, a different method is used for supervision. As a result, we had to add an entire week to cadet training for certification. Instead of two weeks training, the jailors must now have three to be able to work in the old and new facility. If you had gone into the jail before we arrived, you would know how different it is now! We are building a new facility this year to hold an additional 1100 inmates. Since we have 1150 beds now, that will be a huge capacity change. We will contract the operation of that jail facility to a private company, but we will have the responsibility for its operation. That means we will be there every day to check on things. At first, the US government will pay for it through a contract to house federal prisoners. "We will stay on top of things there to make sure it does not have any problems." We will get a kitchen out of it that will feed the entire inmate system here. By converting the current kitchen into another group of cells, we add capacity to the old facility.

Just out of curiosity, Sheriff do you personally ever issue tickets? Nope, I do not - don't have time for it. The chief will at times, but not me. I wrote thousands of tickets in my days on the motorcycle. Those days are behind me.

How about your campaign promises for the 2005 election? Has the cooperative policing program worked out for you and your staff? It sure has. There is only one holdout, and that has not been a big problem. The East county constable has remained independent. But a new constable candidate has been elected for the Republicans, so there is hope that this will bring all of our policing organizations together in communication and cooperation. The other agencies share my enthusiasm for this cooperation and sharing of information. It works very well. Now there are two Texas Rangers assigned here.

So Sheriff, how about firearms? I was surprised to see the deputies buying their own firearms. Well it all comes down to this. Every officer has their preferred weapons. It may be a 38, 357, 40caliber, 45, or 9mm; the brands are their choices. It has to do with effectiveness in doing their work. They must each pass the qualification course with their own weapon(s). All go through the academy which has some tough expectations.

As you know, I am from The Woodlands, so I have some interest in the crime rate there. Some residents feel that crime is increasing and are concerned. Sir, "The Woodlands is one of the safest places to live in the county". In South County, there are many deterrents. No matter how many police officers you have there, you will still have some crime. It is going to happen. We can adjust where we patrol when there is a problem, and we do. I feel safer in The Woodlands than anywhere in the county. "Brother Randy, we will never have enough policemen." We will do our best with what we've got to enforce the law. We have very fine people. I assure you that you will get what your tax dollar pays for first. You will also get what you pay extra for. As long as I am Sheriff, we will fill vacancies for the contracts first. Also, if there are issues, my office is always open. I will talk to anyone anytime about any issue, but I may not be in my office or I might be tied up with someone else, so it is advantageous to the resident that he calls ahead of time. If I am available, an appointment is not required. I will talk.

And how about drugs? I have seen drugs consumed in The Woodlands. If it were not for drugs, we would not be building a new jail facility. Many burglaries, robberies, and other crimes are directly related to illegal drugs. The problem is not just in The Woodlands. It is everywhere in the county, state and country. Our copper theft is related to illegal drugs.

It is up to us to get the message to our children and to our grandchildren. Do NOT take illegal drugs even one time. People get addicted very easily. You know, everyone is important to me, certainly the youngsters and the seniors. I tell the kids out there that are involved with things, whether it is sports or roping calves - there is hope for this generation. Look at you, I say. We have hope. But stay away from drugs!

It should be noted that our narcotic investigators are busy. The queue is fairly long, but we get out there after them when we can. The time may be coming when Marijuana is legalized, and then we have additional problems with drivers - on the road under the influence of the drug.

How is your motorcycle division doing? We have five and they are doing great. Those guys are writing a lot of tickets. I believe they are making a difference. I wish we had more of them.

One of the reasons cited by some for the need to incorporate The Woodlands is the need to have city cops. What do you think? Well, one of these days The Woodlands probably will incorporate, but they will not have anything much different than they have now for policing their community. We have a "beat cop" model in place now. The beat cop gets to know the community. I hope if and when The Woodlands incorporates that they would give our folks (under their contracts) a shot at the jobs first.

Now that you have fulfilled the original campaign promises, what next? We are happy with what we have accomplished. Our problem going forward is money. Our budget constrains us. We are stewards of your tax money and must do what we can with what we have. Our salaries are not as high as the big city - namely Houston, where they give big bonuses for signing up on a contract. There is however more to life than money. We want our employees to want to work here. They are treated here with respect and honor. They also have extra jobs to work, as has been the case for many years now. Supplementing salary with extra jobs is a way of life for a peace officer.

I have one more question. There is more momentum towards enforcing immigration laws locally. How would this affect your operation? We have the INS here every day to pull out illegals, but we do not search for them in the streets. Until they stop crossing the border, we will continue to have them in our county. It is a losing battle.

Sheriff Gage has no opponent in the fall election. In my opinion, we are very lucky to have this very respected gentleman here in Montgomery County, overseeing law enforcement for our safety. He soundly defeated his opponent in the Republican Primary, receiving 62% of the votes cast.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Jeff Long Biography

The Woodlands Leadership
Jeff has served as the President for The Woodlands Community Association for the last two years, and was elected by fellow directors for a third year. He worked on the Board of Directors of the WCA for the last four years, and was re-elected for an additional two years.

Jeff served as Chairman of the DSC and as a Board member for approximately 3 years. Prior to that, he served as a member of the RDRC for Grogan's Mill.

Community
He has participated groups such as The Friendship Center (Board Member) and the Montgomery County Tin Transportation Task Force, that has advocated for the public transportation needs for all of Montgomery County.

Jeff has been involved in other activities such as National Night Out, First Night, his local church, and Special Needs Ministries for the handicapped.

Career
He worked as a Public Works Director in a large community in California, until he and his family moved here over six years ago.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Renata Tyree Biography

Renata Tyree has spent over 15 years working as an computer software consultant for small, medium and enterprise level customers teaching them how to run their businesses successfully. As a leader, she has received many accolades and recommendations based on her business experience with companies such as Intuit (makes of TurboTax, Quicken and Quickbooks) and Activant Solutions. Renata is now using that extensive business experience and expertise to guide Lone Star College-Montgomery programs and courses in their adult continuing education department. She is currently the program manager for the Adult Enrichment program which provides leisure classes to any adult within the Montgomery County area. She also finds the time to work as a certified travel counselor for the Woodlands travel agency, Baer Travel International.

Renata is a member of the South Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Association of Business Women, Montgomery Pet Partners, Woodlands Dog Park Club, American Red Cross and Business Networking International. She finds the time to volunteer with her Delta certified dog, Abby, at local churches, libraries and hospitals. Abby is used by these organizations as comfort to those who are ill or disabled and to assist with reading programs such as “Paws to Read” which helps to improve the literacy skills of children.

Renata moved to The Woodlands in 2005 from Boulder, Colorado to be closer to her family. Since arriving, she has been heavily involved with community activities. She enjoys visiting the many wonderful dog parks, volunteering at the library for the Paws to Read program, leading as a Shepherd at church, and designing community courses for Lone Star College-Montgomery.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Peggy Hausman 2008 Profile

Enthusiastic individual seeks challenging opportunity to continue community service utilizing organizational and working skills developed through years of successful leadership in community organizations and fulfilled with responsibility and accountability.

PERSONAL

The Community of The Woodlands, Texas
+ Resident of Panther Creek since 1981. At-home Mom to sons Nick and Patrick.
+ Married for 30 years to Mitch Hausman, President of Southwest Wire Rope Inc.
Birth Date: February 22, 1958

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Board of Directors Service:
+ The Woodlands Fire Department
+ The Town Center Improvement District (now The Woodlands Township)
+ The Woodlands Community Service Corporation:
....Chairman of the Board 1997 to 2001 - First elected resident
+ The Woodlands Community Association (1995-2008)
....Chairman of the Board 1995 till 2001
+ Municipal Utility District #40

Instrumental in policy development, financial success, ISO rating reduction, economic achievement, marketing, community dispute resolution, public speaking, recruiting, organizational restructuring, economic efficiencies, union negotiations, legal dispute resolution, budget, real estate purchase, office expansions, contract negotiations, legislative formation and testimony.

Public Service:
+ Montgomery County Food Bank
+ YMCA
+ Boy Scouts of America
+ PTO/PTA President and committee chairman
+ Montgomery County
....Regional Resource Governance Committee,
....Law Enforcement Center Bond Committee
....Election Judge, School District Bond elections
+ Supervised and directed District Eagle Award Advancement, school functions
+ Developed advertising, promotional and fundraising materials
+ Solicited discounts and donations from local retailers
+ Recruited, trained and supervised volunteers
+ Coordinated community wide program, public speaking and presentations

RECOGNITION
+ Governor’s Award for Volunteerism
+ Conroe Independent School District Volunteer of the Year
+ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Award for Leadership in the Fine Arts
+ Boy Scouts of America, District Award of Merit, George Stake District
+ People Scene Newspaper Person of the Year, twice
+ The Villager Newspaper, Favorite Public Servant, shared with US Representative Kevin Brady
+ The Woodlands, Texas Original 25 “Hometown Heroes”, Community Recognition

EDUCATION
+ Missouri Western State University
....B.S. Criminal Justice
+ Texas Department of Insurance
....All-Lines License 1423571
+ Texas Open Meetings Certification