Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Woodlands Texas Township Meeting March 26 2008

Since many residents do not have the opportunity to attend these meetings, I wanted to share my impression of and the contents of the Township Meeting today. This was the first meeting I have attended. These meetings are scheduled early in the day, at 7:30AM, making it impossible for residents commuting to Houston or early workers to attend. The meetings are open, but the conference space is relatively small. Today, the room was filled. There was probably more interest than normal due to the coming elections. Several of the board candidates and/or their representatives attended. Or perhaps, these folks attend normally.

General Meeting - Township

Overall, my impression is that some members of the board do not speak loud enough for visiting residents to hear their comments or questions, especially if the visitor sits in the back. There were microphones available, but it seemed that some speakers used them more than others. This fast moving large agenda meeting had few comments or questions by individual board directors. Their question or comment was pertinent to the subject. The pace set by the chairperson (Nelda Blair) led the group to a rapid conclusion. Prior to the meeting, a book of reading material was distributed to each director. More often than not, the directors were asked to make and approve motions to keep the meeting as short as practical. I assume everyone not only had the chance beforehand to read the material, but also to seek answers to their questions. The book of documents had well over 100 pages of material. Two separate meetings were conducted, for a total duration of about 90 minutes.

Financial report: consisted of budget plan variances and explanations of those variances. Projects might start late or the timing of certain payment transactions might not be as expected. "We are seeing a tax receipt slowdown." However, the Township remains on budget, and the receipts are larger than last year.

Fire Department Capital Project Status in Economic Zone 4: This $11.9 million dollar project is within budget and on time. Station #6 is 75% complete with an expected opening in June. Its equipment has already arrived and is being circulated through the other stations to shake out the bugs. The training center is 68% complete and should be operational by September. These two projects will open the path to a better rating and a lower resident insurance rate. Fire Chief Benson presented an excellent review of the projects, complete with photographs.

In Waterway Square, the grand opening is scheduled in April. A maintenance agreement process was proposed and approved, to enable a contract for the contractor Progressive Inc to maintain the fountains and equipment for about $15,000.

A proposal was made and approved to add a standing agenda item for reporting Woodlands Association issues and progress when needed.

There are various marketing initiatives and events coming. The Logo contest closes at the end of April. A celebration of the local "public heroes" will be in April. The Waterway Festival will be a good one with lots of activities April 12-13. An RFP (Request for Proposal) is almost ready for Ambassadors to print directions for visitors and to print coupons. Continental Airlines will soon have an article for The Woodlands, a campaign partnered with the development company. Texas Highways magazine will have an article about The Woodlands. Austin American Statesman will have an article on weekend getaways to The Woodlands. A new website for visitors will come out in April. This will contain a guide for visitors that will include the villages.

Montgomery Transportation Plan - presentation for information:
1. Countywide paratransit/demand system: this is a means to transport people by prior arrangements using county vehicles to destinations. There are several programs already in operation.
2. New county service to Sam Houston State University: from south county to SHSU up the I45 corridor with various pickup points along the way. This is an exciting initiative. There are many obstacles (hurdles), but we are making progress. Only two more hurdles must be jumped before we can implement. We are optimistic. The cost of this service is $23 per passenger but passengers will not have to pay that much.

Public comments are allowed and encouraged, but there were none.

Board gave their support in an initiative to acquire funds from a Texas Wildlife Commission grant for building a new park in Sterling Ridge. The development company is working with MUD 386 to acquire these funds. Maintenance of the park will be by the MUD district. The park will be very similar to other parks here in The Woodlands.

Board approved the operational rules for the Waterway Square. Hours of operation will be 6AM to 11PM daily. This can be changed later if needed. Generally the rules are the same as Town Green Park. There will be a wade pool.

Economic Development Zone Boundaries: Exclude Harris County until surveyed. This will have no impact on tax receipts since there are no businesses in Creekside Village Park. The 1% sales tax will be collected. However, the second 1% will be postponed indefinitely in Harris County until this issue is resolved.

Second meeting - Economic Development Zones

A list of 14 items were proposed and approved. Most were required for the operation of the Economic Zones. Those were modeled after the Township operational processes. Exceptions to those seemingly routine items included the combining of financial Year 2007 reports of the four zones into one report, and a reimbursement agreement between the Township and the economic zones for the Waterway Square project.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Getting to Know the Candidates for 2008 Township Election

Ballot Order and Documents available for viewing:

Randy Scott

Table for Candidates menu

1. Jeff Long  Interview Bio Website  Email
2. Ted Stanley  Interview Bio Website Email
3. Tom Campbell Interview Bio Website Email
4. Kenny Speight Interview Bio Website Email
5. Bruce Tough Interview Bio Website Email
6. George Van Horn Interview Bio Website Email
7. Karen Booren Interview Bio Website Email
8. Renata Tyree Interview Bio Website Email
9. Nelda Luce Blair Interview Bio Website Email
10. Bev Earl Interview Bio Website Email
11. Joe Merrill Interview Bio Website Email
12. Peggy S. Hausman Interview Prof Website Email
13. Paul Martin Interview Bio Website Email
14. Claude Hunter Interview Press Website Email

The information contained within each document linked to a candidate has been published with the express consent of each candidate. The candidates and myself, Randy Scott (otherwise known as "IndianSpringsGuy") have provided this information to the residents of The Woodlands as a public service. Every voter has the "right to know". Each candidate has one or more links attached to their name for your convenience to quickly access information. Keep checking as we will update this as new information is available. Also note the Grogan's Mill Village link below.

Dates to remember:
- April 10th: last day for voter registration.
- Monday April 28: May Uniform Election Early Voting begins
- Tuesday May 6: May Uniform Election Early Voting ends
- Saturday, May 10: May Uniform Election Day

Other related information:
- The Woodlands Township for other related Township election information.
- Montgomery County election website pertinent information for locations and dates.
- Grogan's Mill Village Candidate Questions and Answers

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Congratulations to Tommy Williams and Rob Eissler

Here in The Woodlands, we are interested in continuity of legislative work by our government for the people of The Woodlands and surrounding area. Both Tommy Williams and Rob Eisler worked hard for freeing us from annexation by Houston. Tommy Williams negotiated with the City of Houston and the both of them sponsored legislation to enable a special government in The Woodlands. Their work was remembered in the voting booths here. Voters were very aware that action and results were the themes of our legislative representatives. Now as we move closer to our new form of government, we will asking for additional supporting legislation to enable better self determination and a stronger hand in our own future matters. Let's get it done guys. Find out what we want and why. That is our expectation, that you continue to represent our interests in the coming legislative session. The job is never completed, and we look to you to lead us to a better future. Congratulations on your Primary election results.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Its official! Consolidation agreement between Woodlands Association and Township

The transition agreement finally cleared all the hurdles and was signed on February 29th, 2008. This is a key agreement necessary to consolidate some six entities into one governing body. There remains much work to be done and surely we will see complications arise through the process until 2010 when all functions of all entities should be incorporated into the new governing structure. Efficiency should reduce overall costs after all is said and done. Further reading: Woodlands Online

Jeff Long announces candidacy for the Woodlands Township

Jeff Long, a veteran engineer and public works specialist, recently announced his plans to run for the board of directors of the newly created Woodlands Township. A four-year elected member of The Woodlands Community Association board, serving as president the last two, Long touts his experience in leading the community association and his previous work in municipal government as assets. “I love living and running a small business in The Woodlands,” Long said. “I have gained a special appreciation for how great a community we all enjoy.”

Long said his priorities on The Woodlands Township board would be to:

· Ensure the voters get accountability from the board during the transition from village and community association governance to township governance
· Ensure that voters see assessments lowered and their overall out-of-pocket costs decreased with the new sales and property tax structure as promised
· Ensure that the board is accountable for each and every tax dollar raised and spent by the board

"We have to provide accountability in this new board so that voters know they are getting what they voted so strongly for,” Long said. “I am committed to preserving and building all that is good about what we have achieved.”

Jeff Long was elected to The Woodlands Community Association Board of Directors in March 2004 in an “At-Large” position, and was elected as President of the Board in 2006. Mr. Long is retired from municipal government and public works. He has also served as president of the Design Standards Committee, and has served on the Joint Ad Hoc Cost Recovery Committee and the Election Committee. Jeff also served as a leader of The Woodlands Decides Committee – the group responsible for educating voters on Propositions 1, 2 and 3 to keep The Woodlands from being annexed by Houston.

“I am ready, willing and able to devote the time necessary to see that the voters wishes are carried out.” Long said.