April 2012

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Water/sewer improvements approved

Police Dispatchers Receive Proclamation

City Council News

Candidates for AISD Position 3

Manvel City Council Candidates

Jerome Hudson Vying for City Council

Maureen DelBello Vying for City Council

AISD Position 2 Candidates

 

Water/sewer improvements approved

April 4, 2012

At its regular meeting last week, Manvel city council approved an authorization for the city manager to develop engineering plans and specifications for the extension of water and sewer utilities on state highway 6.

Kyle Jung, Manvel’s city manager, told council that the city’s Economic Development Council (MEDC) voted unanimously to move forward with the infrastructure improvements and asked the city to provide the necessary engineering plans to adequately consider the feasibility of the project, its cost, and how to finance the work.

Jung explained that the plans and specifications would be the first step in getting the project authorized and underway.  He went on to say that the improvements would proceed west along hwy 6 from its current ending at the “Burger Barn” restaurant,  He explained that there is a 16 inch water line ending there and a 24 inch gravity sewer line that heads east from there.  The proposed improvements would extend the service approximately 8,000 linear feet along the north side of hwy 6 to the intersection with hwy 288.

Proposed businesses on the south side of hwy 6 would be able to utilize the service by assenting in their development agreement with the city to bore under the road to acquire service.  Jung explained that a developer wanting to bring in a large development would take that cost into account with their financing plans.  Ultimately the city would want to extend the service to the south side as well but today’s financial reality does not allow that level of expansion.

Mayor Delores Martin said that in the more than eleven years she has been in office various types of businesses have come in to Manvel excited about establishing operations only to be discouraged once it is realized that the city does not have the water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate their needs.  She expressed her belief that council does want to expand business activity in the city to stimulate economic growth and that this infrastructure project would be the first step toward that end.  She thinks council owes MEDC support as “we all want economic growth to come here”.  She feels approval of the request is extremely important to show that “we work hand-in-hand with MEDC”.

Council member Melody Hanson agreed with the mayor saying that the infrastructure improvements are key, and that if we can’t provide services to proposed businesses they won’t come.  She also explained that the city’s comprehensive plan provides for the water/sewer service to be available down hwy 6 and that approval of the improvements will fulfill that condition.  As a member of MEDC, Hanson told council that over a million dollars has been collected to finance suitable projects and that this plan is a “perfect fit for the city”.

City Manager Jung estimated construction would probably require four to six months once the plans have been prepared, approved, and financing established.  A date of final completion would depend on the financing mechanism ultimately agreed to.  Options include a cash payment from MEDC funds, a bank loan, or a bond offering.

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Police Dispatchers Receive Proclamation

April 11, 2012

Manvel Police dispatchers Michelle Vela, Eric Edwards, and Allen King accepted a proclamation from Mayor Delores Martin at this week’s city council meeting.  The proclamation was in recognition of National Telecommunications Week which has been observed in the US since 1981.  Public safety telecommunications are vital to the community and those serving in that capacity often go unnoticed by the public.  In reading the proclamation, Mayor Martin expressed gratitude on behalf of the city and its citizens for their efforts.

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City Council News

April 11, 2012

Manvel City Council this week approved the adoption of  a policy for the abandonment of streets, alleys, rights-of-way, and easements.  The need for a standardized policy was brought to light after a previous meeting that entertained a request from landowners Eddie Wisnoski and Johnny Lowe regarding the abandonment of two blocks on Gilbough Street from 1128 east to Russell Street.

Prior to the adoption of the new policy, council would entertain such requests on an individual basis.  The new policy will spell out a procedure to follow in an effort to make sure every request is treated the same and that all contingencies are addressed, primarily on whether or not he property in question will be required for future city needs.  It also mandates a one-time fee of $3,000 to cover associated costs, such as surveys, title policies, appraisals, and other like requirements.  The policy requires neighboring land-owners to be notified and have input on the decision and requires the city to be compensated at fair market value for the abandonment.  Member Melody Hanson praised the thoroughness of city attorney Bobby Gervais in its preparation and said “it keeps the process from being arbitrary”. 

After approving the new policy council took up the issue on the application submitted by Wisnoski and Lowe and ultimately agreed to their request.  Member Ron Cox made the motion to approve with the stipulation that all associated costs be borne by Wisnoski and Lowe.  Because the request was made prior to the adoption of the new policy, council had the right to “grandfather” it and entertain it on an individual basis.  The vote was 5-2 in favor of the abandonment with Member Melody Hanson and Mayor Delores Martin voting against.  Member Hanson explained her vote, saying council is failing to do adequate due-diligence to make sure everything is in place.  She feels sufficient information is not known on the future worth of the property to make an informed decision.  Those in favor of the request felt that neighboring landowners would not be adversely affected and that the likelihood of the right-of-way ever being developed beyond its current endpoint is negligible sue to the fact that it terminates into a drainage ditch.

Council also approved a resolution for the adoption of a Schedule of Fees, Rates, Deposits, and Other Charges for zoning, platting, building, and other related matters.  City Manager Kyle Jung explained to council that additions to the Schedule include two changes that relate to the recently approved city pipeline ordinance.

In the consent agenda, council authorized final approval of an ordinance requiring minimum right-of-way widths for streets in the city of Manvel and its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.  The ordinance affects new streets and does not impact current city roads.  Final approval was also authorized for the city’s renewing of the ordinance that establishes a curfew for persons under the age of 17 years between the hours of 10:30 PM to 6:00 AM Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 AM to 6:00 AM Friday and Saturday.  Both ordinances had been taken up previously by council and completed the public hearing requirements prior to final approval.

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Candidates for AISD Position 3

April 11, 2012

Three candidates are vying for the AISD Board of Trustees Position 3 in the coming May 12 election.  All are newcomers as incumbent Mark Patterson declined to seek re-election.

CHARYL B HARRIS was born to an AISD school teacher and was raised in Alvin, graduating from Alvin High School and earning an Associate’s Degree form Alvin Community College.  She has been married for 24 years and has two daughters, the youngest a senior at Alvin HS. 

Harris is a former employee of the district having served as the secretary to the Director of Special Education for nine years.  She feels that experience gave her familiarity with the district’s budget process and an understanding of federal funds and special program applications.

She currently serves as the Administrative Manager and Consumer Directed Services Coordinator at Imagine Enterprises where she is responsible for employing staff and overseeing personnel, budgets, and ensuring that quality services are provided.

Harris has been active in district activities by volunteering her time as past treasurer of the Alvin HS Jacketeer Booster Club and currently as secretary of the Yellowjacket Booster Club.  She stays current with Board events through the Board Briefs and the online packets available for review.

She considers herself a uniquely qualified candidate who could provide multiple points of view: including a working knowledge of the district, the perspectives of a teacher as her mother taught in the district for twenty five years, as a parent with two girls matriculating through the grades, and as an alumnus, taxpayer, and a life-long resident of the community.

If elected, her goal as Trustee will be to ensure the highest quality education and learning opportunities be provided to all students at every school.  She feels graduating students who are either college ready or job ready are the keys to our future and with AISD teachers providing that quality, the students and the community benefit.

DR ROYCE MITCHELL is a resident of Manvel and has lived in the district since 1995.  He lives with his wife and they enjoy five grown children and 21 grandchildren.  He holds a doctorate in law from Northwest California University School of Law and currently serves as CEO of an industrial electronic controls company in Houston.   He has been in industrial controls for 35 years.

Dr Mitchell would consider his background in business and law a valuable addition to the Board in that it will help him to ask the right questions as he recognizes that there is only so much money available and it needs to be budgeted wisely.  His background in law would also help the Board evaluate contracts so that Trustees’ understanding is not limited to the board’s lawyer. 

He became interested in running for the Trustee position after last year’s tax increase was passed by the current Board while there apparently remained  a $10M budget surplus.  Mitchell claims the Board acted in spite of the unanimous input from taxpayers that no increase should be passed.  In his view, “it became apparent that the majority of the trustees were not responsive to the citizenry but were prepared to rubber-stamp what the Superintendent requested”.  He feels this should never happen when one has a fiduciary responsibility.

Mitchell says he will bring two passions that will be at the forefront of every decision he is asked to act on.  “First, the children of the district need a quality education for a quality future.  Second, the school district needs to be fiscally responsible with the way it spends the taxpayer’s money”.  He would like to accomplish a streamlining of district activities and expenses, returning fiscal responsibility to the district.

BECKY SINGLETON has been an AISD resident for six years.  She is married and has two daughters, her youngest a 6 year old attending Mary Marek Elementary in Shadow Creek Ranch.  She currently serves as the Healthy Living Director for the Tellepsen Downtown Y in Houston and has had a career in Health and Healthcare for over 25 years.

Singleton volunteers time to assist her daughter’s teacher in the classroom and has attended several Board meetings since living in the district.  She feels her capacity to work well with others and an ability to come to positive solutions on issues needing resolution will serve her well as a Trustee.  She also would bring representation from the district’s west side, which she claims is truly needed.

She well understands many of the issues facing parents and school children today, having taught Child Obesity and Family Intervention Programs and successfully raising a daughter through high school and college free from drug, alcohol, or pregnancy issues.  She considers that background a good fit as a representing to district students and taxpayers.

If elected, Singleton would like to be part of the team, which includes the Superintendent, that helps to establish the core values for the district.  She would like to gain an understanding of the entire district and always do what is best for the children.

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Manvel City Council Candidates

April 18, 2012

Adrian Gaspar and Debbie Harrison are running again for city council positions after coming up short in their previous attempts.  Gaspar is vying for the Place 1 seat currently held by Bob Long and is competing with Jerome Hudson.  Harrison is vying for the Place 2 seat currently held by Mack Ivy and is competing with Maureen DelBello.  In the other seat up for election, Place 4, Melody Hanson is seeking re-election unopposed.

Gaspar was born in Romania and became a citizen of the United States in 1985.  He grew up mostly in New York and graduated from high school in Chicago.  After graduation he joined the military and served at Fort Hood in Texas, where he fell in love with the state.  After completing his military service he became a member of the Houston Police Department where he has served for 20 years.  He moved to Manvel in 1997 looking for the relaxed environment the city offered.  He felt the schools better and the taxes lower than in other communities he considered. 

He feels his background in public safety would help ensure council actions and public policy comply with state law.  He will bring honesty and sincerity to the council and claims passion about people’s freedom. 

If elected, Gaspar would like to redirect council’s efforts so that they more consistently realize the welfare of the citizens of Manvel should always come first.  He is most passionate about the safety of the community and in limiting government’s power over citizens personal property.  He expresses his feeling that the job of government is to provide infrastructure for its residents and not to dictate how they should live on their own land.

Gaspar believes Manvel can grow while maintaining its rural character and says he is pleased with the current councils work to increase the business presence in the city.  He would like to see increased incentives offered to prospective businesses and pronounces himself as pro-business and against raising taxes.  The role of government, he believes, is to allow business to grow and flourish while keeping taxes low.  He claims to be pro police, fire, and EMS and would like to see more community involvement so that citizens have a greater participation in the delivery of ideas and solutions for city government.

He does express concern with the many statutes the city passes to steer the future to a better planned and more beautiful city and feels those efforts may sometimes lead to the “invasion of personal privacy of Manvel’s current and future citizens”.

Debbie Harrison is a 17-year Manvel resident and has been involved in various city activities, including service on the Planning, Development, & Zoning (PD&Z) Board.  She served on the city’s special events committee for seven years and served as its chair for five years.  The committee organized various events such as a July 4th parade and a Christmas pageant.  She also serves on the EMS special task force that worked on the ambulance license requirement for non-emergency ambulance services.

She wants to run for council because she cares for the city and the needs of its citizens and wants to maintain control on city taxes.  One of her goals if elected is to follow through with council’s recent action on the extension of water and sewer lines down state highway 6.  Without that service she claims businesses will not locate here because of the cost required.

She favors city growth but would like to see it focused primarily on Hwy 6 and FM 1128 so as to maintain the rural feel that most citizens valued when deciding to live in the city.  She explains that it is important to have new business to help maintain a reasonable tax rate but businesses should be located in appropriate places.  She thinks a concerted marketing effort should be undertaken to better inform prospective businesses of the city’s appeal, feeling that there are many potential businesses that don’t realize the advantages the city provides.

Rezoning she says “makes me nuts”.  Her feeling is that the zoning designations were decided early on and while it was contemplated that some of the designations would have to change over time, she frowns on those who desire to purchase land at a cheaper rate with the hope of changing its use designation.  She thinks about people who bought homes expecting them to be protected by zoning and considers it unfair to them to allow a change in their land use designation.

Harrison retired from the phone company after 34 years of service and has a background in speaking and training.  She and her husband of 46 years decided to live in Manvel for a more rural atmosphere and to have a place for their horses to walk free.  She has three adult children, seven grandchildren, a great grand-daughter and a soon to be great grand-son.

Harrison encourages everyone to vote, even if they decide against a vote for her.  She expresses disappointment on the difficulty in getting Manvel citizens to participate in the political process.  Most of the time the city does good to get 10% voter turnout, she says. 

Their competitors, Jerome Hudson and Maureen DelBello, will be profiled in a future story.

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Jerome Hudson Vying for City Council

April 25, 2012

Jerome Hudson is competing against Adrian Gaspar for Manvel City Council Place 1, currently held by Bob Long who is not seeking re-election.

Hudson has owned property in Manvel for ten years and has been a resident for one year.  He is married and enjoys five adult children and nine grandchildren.  He is a disabled Army veteran and retired after serving as a construction general contractor and substance abuse counselor.

He believes he will bring a passion for public service to council and can offer a fresh approach to maintaining the distinct character of Manvel’s rural quality of life.  He has experience as an accomplished entrepreneur and possesses a willingness to give his time and talent to enhance the quality of life for Manvel citizens.

If elected, Hudson would like to work toward increasing economic and workforce expansion and would like to partner with corporations to enhance development opportunities that would bring jobs and an increased tax base to the city.  He also would like to establish focus committees to address veteran’s initiatives, entrepreneurial growth, housing, and economic development issues.

Hudson believes the current council has done well with its fiscal responsibilities and approach to public spending.  He also appreciates the detailed comprehensive plan the city has in place to plan for future growth and business development along the hwy 6 and FM1128 corridors.

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Maureen DelBello Vying for City Council

April 25, 2012

Maureen DelBello is competing against Debbie Harrison for Manvel City Council Place 2, currently held by Mack Ivy who is not seeking a second term.

DelBello moved to Manvel in 1993 after marrying her husband Chris.  Chris grew up in Manvel and is part of the DelBello family that has been very active in the community over the years.  They have four children, the eldest attending Alvin Community College and the other three at AISD schools.

She currently works in an accounting position with Frank Supply Company in Houston.  With more than 20 years accounting experience and working with customers to solve issues and problems, she feels her background would help with the city’s budgeting process and in dealing with citizens needs and complaints. 

DelBello has previous experience serving as a council member having served three terms between 1999 and 2005.  She claims familiarity with how the city operates and feels she could bring new ideas and support to the current members of council.

If elected, she would “like to help address the citizens issues and complaints that have not been taking care of in the past”.  She would also “like to be able to be their voice on council”.  She is most passionate about the “citizen’s rights in our community”, she says, and feels “if you have a complaint with our city it should be addressed”.

DelBello expresses satisfaction with the MEDC board and city council for recently working together to begin the process of extending and enlarging the water and sewer lines up hwy 6 towards hwy 288.  She believes the move will help stimulate economic development in the city and that all the citizens will see benefits.  She is also pleased that the city charter is in place and that a city administrator has been hired.

DelBello explains that one of the main reasons she and her husband chose to live in Manvel was to raise their four children in the small town rural atmosphere that Chris grew up in.  She feels that the small town atmosphere of Manvel can be maintained while pushing for healthy growth along Hwy 6 and outlying areas.  “If we can have growth in this area it will help keep our tax rate the same or even lower as well as help maintain the roads, drainage and police protection for our citizens that live in Manvel”, she says.

DelBello encourages everyone to “just get out and vote as it only takes 5 minutes of your time to go to the Brazoria County Annex on Hwy 6 and vote”.

Early voting begins on Monday, April 30 and runs through May 8.

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AISD Position 2 Candidates

April 25, 2012

Three candidates are vying for the Position 2 seat on the Alvin Independent School District Board of Trustees election to be held on May 12.  Incumbent, and current Board President Earl Humbird is not seeking re-election.

Celeste Etheridge has been a resident of AISD for six years.  She has been married to her “loving husband” for more than 18 years and is the mother of three children, two of which attend Glenn York Elementary in Shadow Creek Ranch.

Etheridge currently is involved in the Glenn York PTO Board and is a constant school, church, and community volunteer.  She is the parent member and representative on York’s Excellence Committee, described as a group that meets twice a year to review York’s Campus Improvement Plan, York’s Budget, and any general plans for the campus. She previously worked as an engineer and supervisor in diverse corporate environments for more than 10 years.

She claims an ability to communicate and relate to youth and their parents from all walks of life as she has over 30 years of experience working with young people through tutoring programs, peer mentoring partnerships, leadership organizations, teaching assistance, and community outreach.  She attended culturally diverse schools growing up and counts those experiences as a great personal asset. 

Etheridge describes herself as fiscally responsible in her personal finances and expects to use the same technique when voting on school board issues that involve the possibility of property tax increases.  She says her strong decision-making approach utilizes problem analysis, the balancing of needs and concerns, and the ability to see the long-term implications of an action.  She goes on to say that her truthfulness, accountability, responsibility, skill sets, community servitude, and education align well with the tasks and challenges required to serve effectively as a school board member.

Etheridge states that she will be well-informed on issues and prepared for meetings; will conduct informed votes; inform the community, address their concerns, and provide an answer to their questions; and represent the AISD community when voting on school board issues. 

She would like to encourage a culture of excellence by promoting an environment of parental involvement; having a keen eye toward serving the needs of all students; and by demonstrating financial stewardship to the taxpayers.  She also wants to help the district retain innovative teaching grants by working with local businesses (in subject areas that are the company's expertise) to provide educational tools to teachers that will enhance the students' instructional and motivational learning environments.  She would like to enhance the strides made in the area of student nutrition by encouraging a healthy eating lifestyle.  “Healthy eating promotes healthy learning”, she feels.

Residing on the west side of the district, Etheridge feels there cannot be an optimally effective Board of Trustees when members hail only from the east side.  She believes the disparity in representation distracts from the district’s core vision and goals and feels all tax-paying sections of the district should have representation.

Etheridge concedes that serving as a trustee is a volunteer position, but she “plans to treat it like a full-time job because YOUR children and mine are important to me!”  She goes on to say that “when everyone works together for the students’ educational growth, we achieve excellence and produce students who are readily prepared to conquer college, junior college, and/or a skilled-trade profession”. 

Regan Metoyer has been an AISD resident for over 35 years.  She graduated from Alvin HS in 1993 and considers herself a “proud resident of the community in which she was raised”.  She has two children, one attending Alvin HS and one about to start kindergarten.

Metoyer earned a master’s degree in Behavioral Science and has been a college admissions counselor, has taught Psychology at the collegiate level, and currently serves as the Director for the Upward Bound program at Alvin Community College.  She describes Upward Bound as a college preparatory program for first generation college students.  They are exposed to the benefits of obtaining a post- secondary degree and are taken on trips to visit local colleges and universities, are offered after school tutoring, supplemental Instruction, test prep, financial aid support, and college admissions guidance.

She volunteers at Alvin HS as the Secretary for the Cheer Booster Club and is also Chairman of the Board for the TLA YMCA in Alvin.  She serves as Vice President of the Soroptimist International Organization in Alvin, and is a member of the Rotary Club. 

As a taxpayer and educator, Metoyer claims to understand the need to conservatively fund education, new schools, technology, and special programs within the district.  If elected, she intends to bring dedication, a true desire to serve students, leadership, sound judgment, and a parent’s perspective to the Board.  She will work to make sure every student is prepared for college or the workforce. 

She wants to pass a successful bond to build high school #3 and would seek to unify the district’s diversity to make Alvin ISD a model district.  She feels more public meetings that are well attended by both east and west side stakeholders would be helpful in that concerns could be dealt with in a non-hostile dialog with action plans put in place to see all issues addressed.

Having held leadership positions, Metoyer says she has been taught that there is never a “perfect” answer.  As she states, “Sometimes you just have to choose the “best” answer.  Our school district is growing by leaps and bounds and with that growth comes problems.  It is my goal to play an integral part in helping to solve those problems.  I will listen to all comments, concerns, and suggestions, and I will gather as much information as possible before making a decision.  Will everyone always be happy?  No, that is unrealistic.  However, I will do my best to make the “best” decision for our students, parents, personnel, and tax payers.” 

Ron Elkins was born and raised in AISD and has lived in Manvel for the past five years with his wife, Terri, an AISD teacher at Wilder Elementary, and his nearly four year old son.  He is a Senior Technology Manager with a national utility company and teaches Computer Science courses at Brazosport College, where many of his students are high school aged earning dual credits.  His career actually started with a position working for the AISD school district while he was attending classes at UH.  In the 17 years since that job he has gone on to win national awards, manage teams providing services for over a million people, and has led global teams in enterprise projects for some of the world’s largest companies.

Elkins claims education is in his blood.  Members of his family have been students and teachers in AISD for 3 generations dating back nearly 100 years.   He is the grandson, son, and husband of current and former AISD teachers and eight members of his family have worked for the district at some point in their careers.  His wife is the daughter of two career teachers as well.

Elkins feels he has much to offer as a Board Trustee explaining that his current teaching experience gives him the perspective of a front line teacher and insight into the students’ needs and challenges; his experience planning and managing large budgets and leading million dollar plus purchases in the public and private sectors gives him the financial experience to understand and contribute to the complex financial planning and decisions of the district; his experience hiring, training, and supervising other managers and staff provide the experience and insight necessary to understand what to look for in district leaders and how to form the goals and policies to foster their success; his experience leading global teams gives him valuable experience in relating to and communicating with a culturally and ethnically diverse population; and his experience improving operations gives him the ability to recognize where the district could be more efficient or more effective. 

Elkins is active in the AISD community and for four years he has regularly attended school board meetings.  He claims to know well many of the board members and some of the senior staff and frequently discusses AISD issues with various community leaders including city council and planning and economic development boards.  He also supports his wife’s activities at her school and attends and supports various functions across the district.

If elected, Elkins would like to help unify the district by bringing additional balance and perspective to the board and to help create an environment that is more healthy and reflective of the students, particularly in the area of healthier food and by providing more exercise and fitness options for students who are not on the official sports teams.

He feels he brings a unique experience in having lived on both sides of the district and understands the needs and viewpoints of both.  The current Board, he says, has sometimes demonstrated a “fairly narrow set of perspectives as none of them are part of the growing vibrant community that is the very west side and most rarely spend time in Manvel or Pearland”.  As a result, Elkins believes they “cannot understand the needs and desires of the students and parents that live there”.

He would like to Have school board meeting on a rotating schedule at schools around the district so that all students and parents can have better access to attend.  He also would like to assign school board members and senior staff to attend and act as liaisons to the different city councils, planning boards, and the ACC board.  “We need to work closely with them if we want to really do what’s best for our kids”, he says, “but how can we if we never have any contact with them or participate in the community discussions”?

He would work to make everyone understand that “we are one district, not an east district and a west district or an old district and a new one… we all want the same thing – the best education possible for our kids, and we have to work together to make that happen”.

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