April 2014

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Residents assail annexation idea

Luncheon promotes adult literacy

Pearland hospital

City conducts second public hearing on annexations

Manvel citizens to decide two council positions

Council member Hanson promotes city's annexation idea

Humbird challenges Stringer for AISD Trustee

AISD Voters to decide Position 7 Trustee

Manvel Mayor to be selected


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Residents assail annexation idea

April 2, 2014


A large crowd easily filled the sanctuary of Manvel’s Church of the Harvest to voice their displeasure with city council’s idea of annexing approximately 3,750 acres of land in the city’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). The first of two public hearings on the notion was relocated from city hall to accommodate the expected large crowd. According to state law, two public hearings are required to allow citizens to express comments on the proposal. Council members and city staff are supposed to not respond to those concerns or questions.

Council’s actions to this point have served only to direct staff to look into the annexation idea and to authorize the public hearings. Mayor Delores Martin reiterated numerous times that no decision to move forward with the annexation proposal has yet been made.

One speaker probably best summarized the crowd’s state of mind by telling council simply to “leave us alone.” Some related their preferred lifestyles of country living, such things as shooting firearms, discharging fireworks, and raising livestock, that would be disallowed if annexed into the city. Threats of lawsuits and diligent efforts to unseat any council member who votes in favor of an annexation were repeatedly expressed. Current residents in the ETJ do not enjoy the privilege of voting in city elections. Member Melody Hanson made a point at a previous meeting that “they will get representation. They get a chance to vote and have a say in this city and they get a chance to run for office if they wish. Right now they are impacted by what we do but they have no say in what we do.”

A common theme expressed from affected property owners was that the city is unable to provide any services in return for the taxes that will be borne. Many expressed a view that the city is barely able to maintain its infrastructure on current residents, let alone taking on another 5.75 square miles. Manvel has historically struggled to maintain a consistent tax rate for its citizens while providing essential city services. Increasing tax revenues through annexed properties and new subdivision developments will render the city far more economically viable, meaning city services such as roads and drainage and water and sewer would more certainly be afforded to an acceptable level for residents.

A typical comment was essentially that the annexation plan is little more than a money grab for the city. While the potential for future property and sales taxes is an influence, perhaps more importantly from a city planning point of view is the control allowed on future development. Property outside the city limits is not subject to city zoning ordinances which precludes the city from any input on future development. There is a general expectation that Houston’s southward push will soon leave behind Pearland and begin intruding on Manvel’s rural areas. With no control on that incursion, current and future residents, including those in the proposed annexed areas, will have no choice but to live with whatever type of business or structure a property owner decides to construct.

The city would further benefit by controlling the major thoroughfares and intersections so that order in the transportation plan is established proactively rather than reactively. Currently Manvel is landlocked by Pearland on the north and northwest, Iowa Colony on the southwest and south, and by Alvin on the south and east. As City Manager Kyle Jung explained when introducing the plan last month, “With the exception of the south entrance on 288 coming in, the other four accesses into the city on Hwy 6 on both sides, 288 from the north, and 1128 are all outside the current city limits.”

A proposed service plan was made available that indicated what municipal services would be provided to the annexed areas on the same basis as those residents currently living within the city limits. Immediately upon annexation the city would provide police protection, solid waste collection, city parks and recreational facilities, code enforcement services, and general municipal administration and administrative services. Water and wastewater would become available at such time as it became available in the vicinity of the annexed area. City library services would remain available as would fire and EMS protection as presently provided through the Emergency Services District (ESD) #3.

The next public hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 7. A final decision will come once it is made an action item on city council’s meeting agenda. The next scheduled council meeting is Monday, April 14. It is likely the matter will be finally voted on that date.

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Luncheon promotes adult literacy

April 2, 2014


Well over 400 people attended the annual Red Hat Literacy Luncheon last week at Pearland’s Knights of Columbus Hall, marking the eleventh year of the event which uses volunteer celebrity waiters to serve red hatted guests. All proceeds benefit the Pearland Adult Reading Center whose mission is to provide free instruction to adults with limited English literacy skills. The costs associated with the luncheon were underwritten by sponsors so that all proceeds from ticket sales, waiter tips, and auctions and raffles will go toward supporting the Adult Reading Center.

Participants honored the student speaker, a college scholarship recipient of the program, Angelica Vilchis Ortega, with a standing ovation after her emotional speech tugged on tears for many in attendance. She attended class at the ARC for six years and has come to realize that no matter what challenge one faces, “everyone can reach their dreams.” She is the first member of her family to graduate from high school and to attend college. She credits volunteers at the ARC for helping to mold her into a braver and more confident person. She says, “I know every morning when I wake up and see my son that I am doing this for him, so that he will have a better education and a better life.” She believes her sacrifice will pay off in the future and while she says it breaks her heart that she is unable to take her son to school because of work and school commitments, she knows she will “get the pleasure of taking him when I graduate from nursing school. He will be proud of my hard work and can follow my footsteps.”

The keynote presentation was presented by Neil Bush, Co-Chairman of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and an international businessman who carries on his family’s passion for active community service. Bush gave a sometimes emotional presentation on the importance of literacy as the foundation skill upon which human development is built. “All human success starts with literacy, and where there are low literacy rates families and communities suffer.” He explained the cascading impact of poor literacy as affecting us all with high rates of crime, poverty, and dropout rates. “There is no way a person can realize their God given potential if they are not functionally literate.” Bush considers literacy as the “human rights issue of our day.”

Research from his Literacy Foundation yielded results he branded as “alarming.” Bush said the number of adults holding at least an associate’s degree is just 38% in the Texas workforce. A Rice University study projects that community needs in 2016 will require 55% of the workforce have an associate’s degree or higher. He emphasized the importance of preparing kids for reading before going into kindergarten and providing a home that promotes a literacy culture. Citing exposure to vocabulary as critical, Bush explained that most kids in poverty suffer from a word gap. Professional parents, he says, will speak more than thirty million more words to their children by the age of three than will parents living in poverty. Compounding the problem is what Bush calls the “home library gap.” The average middle income child will have thirteen books in their home library while the average child in poverty has just one book per 300 homes.

Bush told the audience that 60% of Houston area children fail to pass the kindergarten reading assessment test. “They enter kindergarten ill prepared to learn.” Research shows that the children among the 60% are three to four times more likely to eventually drop out of school. These children will typically be passed on from grade to grade having never achieved a basic competence in literacy. By the time their third grade reading assessment is administered, 25% of the original 60% will perform unsatisfactorily. A satisfactory result is answering correctly just 20 of the 40 questions asked. Bush said that kids up to third grade should be learning to read so that thereafter they can read to learn. “These 25% are clearly not prepared to learn,” he says. 20% of third graders will do well on the test and studies show that they will go on to graduate from college. “It is easy to predict the 20% will go on to realize their full potential as a learner.”

Based on statistics of students failing the third grade reading assessment, a child will have just a one in eight chance of ever catching up to grade level reading. “It can be predicted that these children will be among the 50% of Houston area ninth graders who fail to meet minimum expectations on reading and writing exams. They will be chronically absent from school falling even further behind, or they will drop out altogether.” Should these students be passed on to subsequent grades and eventually graduate, they will do so without the requisite reading and literacy skills necessary to succeed in community colleges. “Last year, Community Colleges in Houston alone spent $70 million on providing developmental education courses to students. Courses that don’t even count toward graduation.”

Statistics in Texas show that if both parents have been incarcerated at any time there is a ninety percent chance that the child will end up following a path of crime and ending up in jail. 85% of the juveniles that interface with the court system are functionally illiterate. “Based on statistics they will live a life that is unhealthier and will be destined to a life of poverty.”

Bush believes that communities and programs such as Pearland’s Adult Reading Center can intervene to put kids and adults on track to succeed. It saves on costs to society and provides liberty, freedom, and confidence to students that succeed from the programs. “Sadly too many kids have the wheel come off the track before they get to kindergarten. Sadly, too many kids are passed through third grade without being able to read at a third grade level. They fail in reading to learn. Too many of our high school kids drop out and are ill prepared to get and to hold jobs. And too many adults are still functionally illiterate.”

Bush says he “is absolutely convinced that we will rise and take up this challenge. We can beat this cancer that is tearing our society apart. As we raise awareness and as more people join the movement, great programs like the Pearland Adult Reading Center will be able to raise more money, call on more volunteers, and provide more services.” He said the well-attended function “demonstrates a growing literacy army that will take on this challenge.”

Founded in 1987 with 3 learner/tutor pairs, the Adult Reading Center has achieved steady, managed growth over the last 25 years to 4 full-time and 5 part-time staff, 11 part-time instructors, and over 200 volunteers assisting adult learners each year. The Center uses a comprehensive approach that will take adult learners from learning to read, write and speak English to obtaining a GED and a job earning a living wage while becoming contributing members of our community.

For additional information on the Center visit their website at www.adultreadingcenter.org.

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Pearland hospital

April 9, 2014


Mayors Tom Reid of Pearland and Delores Martin of Manvel were part of a celebration last week to mark a milestone in the construction of a new hospital to meet the needs of Pearland and surrounding communities. The “sign the steel” event marked the completion of the steel structure on the 144,000 square foot facility that is projected to open in January 2015.

Pearland Mayor Tom Reid said he is “very glad to have this wonderful facility in our city” and remembered ten years back when ground was broken on the neighboring medical office building that future plans called for the construction of a hospital when the time was right. The time is now right, he said, and “Pearland will be the beneficiary of a medical facility from a nationally recognized medical provider.” He expects Pearland to see continued growth in population and he believes the city will see expanded medical facilities in the years ahead. Manvel Mayor Delores Martin explained the new facility as “an extreme benefit for the City of Manvel. We can bring our people here a lot faster than driving to Houston’s medical center and I am deeply indebted to the City of Pearland.”

The Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is constructing the 30-bed hospital that will cost $71 million to complete. Services will include medical/surgical beds, intensive care beds, an emergency department, labor and delivery and postpartum recovery suites, dedicated cesarean-section operating rooms, surgical suites, and a general nursery. The hospital will also feature an imaging department, which includes digital mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography, catheterization lab, echocardiogram testing, and nuclear medicine modalities. Manvel resident Dr. Earl Miller has been selected to be the first Chief of Staff for the hospital.

The new hospital will be part of the 48-acre Pearland Medical Center located just west of Highway 288 at Shadow Creek Parkway. The medical center currently has a full-service, freestanding emergency department; an imaging center; and an 80,000 square foot office building.

HCA affiliated facilities in the Gulf Coast Division include: 12 hospitals, 8 ambulatory surgery centers, 14 diagnostic imaging facilities, 8 off-campus emergency centers, and a regional transfer center, which provides one-phone-call access and support for patient transfers into and out of the HCA Gulf Coast Division affiliated hospitals, as well as access to ground and air transportation within a 150-mile radius.

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City conducts second public hearing on annexations

April 9, 2014


Manvel city manager Kyle Jung was the main focus of resident’s wrath as the city held the second and final public hearing on the idea of annexing approximately 3,750 acres of land in the city’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). The mayor and council members were little spared from the group’s resentment as some in attendance employed insolent language in expressing the opposition to any annexation plan. The hearing exposed the same concerns voiced last week by affected residents; that lifestyles would be inhibited and that the city has nothing to offer other than an additional tax burden.

The second hearing did see considerably more information disseminated from the city manager that defends council’s decision to look into annexations. Most all the crowd, however, was ill disposed to consider the city’s case and remained adamantly opposed to any annexation and maintained the common refrain of “leave us alone.”

An objective look at the future provides the city with two primary reasons to consider annexations. One is to counter Brazoria County ESD #3’s effort to impose a sales tax throughout their entire district. If the ESD is successful in that effort, Manvel would be unable to collect sales taxes in future city limits because the maximum allowed sales tax rate of 8.25% would have been tapped. Manvel city manager Kyle Jung projects the eventual loss to the city could total millions of dollars each year, adversely affecting the city’s ability to provide essential services like police protection, road maintenance, and drainage work. The measure is not on the ballot this election and the city is not under any immediate time constraints to consider annexations. But when the annexation consideration began in February it was unknown whether or not the ESD would promote the referendum and city leaders felt an urgency to be prepared. It remains a possibility that the ESD could push the tax plan in a future election.

Another reason in favor of annexation is to control future land use in areas along current and proposed major thoroughfares. A common charge from unhappy residents in the proposed annexed areas is that the effort is nothing more than a money grab. Certainly the potential for tax revenue has impact as a larger tax base would allow the city to better provide essential city services. More important to city planners is the ability to implement zoning regulations in the annexed areas to control both development and traffic flow. Without the restrictions zoning provides there would be no method of controlling future land use. And traffic management would be reacting to growth rather than proactively planning for growth.

Pearland’s expansion will soon encroach on Manvel. With no zoning ordinances in effect, residents in the ETJ will likely see a myriad of unwelcome developments bordering their property and primary thoroughfares and intersections will be unable to adequately manage the associated traffic.

A couple of citizens bucked the majority and spoke in favor of annexations. One fifteen year Manvel citizen explained his view that “the last thing we want is for uncontrolled development in a way that will decrease our property values. If the city does not annex we have no protection as far as a landfill, strip joint, or whatever one wants to put there; we will have to live with it and it will decrease the value of the city. I hope the council will do what is right for the residents of Manvel.”

According to the city secretary Manvel has spent $2,808.83 to meet the legal obligations of presenting the annexation idea to the public; approximately $1,070 going toward postage, $1,238 to legal fees, and $500 for maps.

Attempting to answer concerns that current land use would be compromised, city manager Kyle Jung explained that “existing land uses at the time of annexation can continue as before for as long as the current or future property owner continues it. The only changes would come if the property owner stops the land use for more than six months, then the current zoning would determine if the land use would be permitted. The land use goes with the land, not the owner.”

Council ultimately decided to postpone a vote and to take up the matter at the next scheduled city council workshop on Monday, April 14. Workshops provide council members an opportunity to discuss among themselves and to sometimes hear input from those in attendance. Workshops are open to the public and are generally scheduled at 6pm, one hour before the start of the official council meeting. Mayor Martin told the crowd that next week’s workshop would begin at 5pm, presumably in anticipation of a longer than usual dialog.

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Manvel citizens to decide two council positions

April 16, 2014


Manvel citizens will select two council seats in the coming May election. One term incumbents John Cox and Larry Akery each face competition from one challenger.

Place 3 incumbent John Cox v challenger John Aucoin

John Cox has been a resident of Manvel since 1979. Cox has a degree in business management and was trained as a barber in 1967. In 1981 he began to work for the Ron Carter auto dealerships as a service advisor, eventually working his way up to the Fixed Operations Manager. After 27 years in the business he retired and took up barbering where he now shares space at the Manvel Barber Shop with Steve Moore.

Cox and his wife, Patty, also own the “Make it Personal” embroidery shop in Alvin. Between the two business operations John has an opportunity to talk with many citizens about Manvel politics and says he tries to make all decisions based on what the citizens want. He thinks the current council has come a long way in its managing of the city but acknowledges there are still on-going projects that need to be followed up on. He would like to continue on council “to help citizen’s demands for growth come about.”

Cox was one of fifteen committee members who helped guide the city toward its status as a Charter City and he currently is one of five members on the Home Rental Appeals Board. He wants “to see taxes stay as low as possible”, see the Hwy 6 infrastructure completed, see continued improvements in streets and drainage, and to see adequate staffing of the Police and Maintenance departments. He also would like to see the city maintain a strong budget while keeping wages in line for city employees. He wants to continue to work with council and city staff to “gain quality growth for the city and citizens” so that “citizens can live their dream on their dream property.”

Cox feels the current council works effectively with each other though they do not agree on all things. Regarding the annexation issue, he feels it will be coming to the city “in the near future” but does not think the city is ready to assume the added responsibility right now. He thinks the city “has many other things to accomplish first.”

John Aucoin is challenging Cox for the Place 3 seat. He has been a Manvel resident since 2002. He moved from Alvin to “a smaller friendly city that was still close enough to major highways leading to Houston.” He is a UNIX engineer by profession and has served with the Manvel volunteer Fire Department for 11 years and is a part-time police officer, first with Manvel and now with Jamaica Beach.”

Aucoin believes he offers the good qualities of listening, communicating, and common sense and would give a voice to citizens while he serves as council member. He has seen many changes in his twelve years in the city and he would like to make sure the growth that is coming is done with the help of the citizens. He would like to open more dialogue with the city and community through open forums, workshops, and meetings with community leaders and business.

He believes Manvel is “right on the edge of a growth boom, and in the next several years I believe we will see the same type of growth as Pearland has had along the 288 & 518 area.” He wants Manvel to be “a place that is both a great place to live and friendly to business to allow them to come here and prosper.” Regarding the annexation issue, Aucoin thinks that “there are some core infrastructure that is needed to support the annexation and that we need to grow, but need to plan it right to make sure we have the proper things in place.”

In vying for the Place 3 seat, Aucoin says he has “been serving my country and city since I was 18 in one form or another. First as a US Marine, then as a Volunteer Firefighter and Police Officer for the city of Manvel. Listening and implementing common sense solutions in my professional life and personal one as well.”

Place 5 incumbent Larry Akery v challenger Jerome Hudson

Larry Akery was elected to his current council position in a specially called election in November 2011 following the resignation of the then newly elected council member Larry Wilson. He has served as a council member twice before, once in the early 80’s and again around 2000. Akery has been a long-time member of Manvel’s volunteer fire department and has been active in city affairs.

He is a native Houstonian who moved with his wife to Manvel in 1976 because of its rural environment. He took an early retirement after working 22 years in the information center for Shell Oil Company. Akery says he has lived in the city long enough to see the city grow and is “honest and sincere about its growth.” He goes on to say that he cares about the Manvel community and that he “wants to be part of the decision making process.” He hopes to see the Hwy 6 water and sewer infrastructure begin construction this year so that growth of commercial businesses along the road, and particularly a grocery store, can locate in the city.

Jerome Hudson ran for a council seat in 2012 and was defeated by Adrian Gaspar. He has owned property in Manvel for twelve years and has been a resident for three years. 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.

Hudson says he will bring business expertise and knowledge to city council from his experience of “over thirty-five years of community organizational involvement throughout the metro Houston area and thirty years as a business owner.” He has been involved in numerous city committees and boards: the Manvel Planning Development and Zoning Committee (PD&Z), Manvel Education Facilities Corporation, Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, Manvel’s Rental Appeals Board, and the Manvel Fair Housing Work Group.

Hudson claims to “have a passion for serving the residents of Manvel and sees a need to address a myriad of community issues. I truly want to see the community grow and develop. I want to make a difference!,” he says. His goal if elected will be to “push for continuous growth, development and prosperity within the city boundaries, with extra attention to maintaining the semi-rural atmosphere that is a unique identity for Manvel’s current and future citizens.”

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Council member Hanson promotes city's annexation idea

April 16, 2014


Manvel city council held a workshop on Monday to discuss the annexation idea that was subject to two recent public hearings. By law, members of council were not allowed to respond to comments made at the two public hearings and member Melody Hanson suggested council begin the workshop with a discussion on annexation as a whole before debating the eleven individual parcels. She said, “I know at the public hearing there was strong feelings expressed and some of the information we weren’t able to rebut.”

Hanson made the case that annexation is in keeping with what council has been doing in recent years. “All the things we have put in place, the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the City Charter, the Transportation Plan, the drainage studies and GIS mapping system have all been the frameworks put in place and when you have a city that is dotted around its perimeters with these smaller areas, for me it is an issue of land control. I know that has positives and negatives depending on one’s perspective. But we as a city have been putting these things in place and I know it is frustrating because when you look around it seems like we have not made a lot of progress, but a lot of the stuff we have been working at here is putting the policies and procedures in place so that when growth comes, and it is coming, will be able to handle it. We are trying to address a lot of problems before they get here.”

Hanson went on to refute those who claim the city’s desire for annexation is merely a tax grab, saying “I can tell you it is not. We as a council every year have the opportunity to raise the tax rate and we don’t even have to get voter approval for it. We have a balanced budget and we’ve had a balanced budget as long as I have been a member of council.” She reminded those in attendance that the tax rate has not been raised in six years. She touted the city’s high bond rating “because we put the procedures in place and we have been very fiscally prudent with the tax payer money.”

Hanson continued her thoughts saying “we on council were elected to represent the 7000 people that currently live here, and that is what we are doing our best to do. We don’t get paid and we spend long hours and all of us take this job very, very seriously.”

Members Lew Shuffler and Maureen DelBello mostly agreed with Hanson’s sentiments. Member Adrian Gaspar expressed his problem with annexation as being too restrictive on those residents who would be affected and generally opposes the idea. Mayor Delores Martin said, “I was very apprehensive at the beginning that we were looking at too much too soon without giving it enough thought and my apprehension is still there.” Member Larry Akery did not express an opinion one way or the other and member John Cox has voluntarily stepped away from the annexation debate due to a potential conflict of interest with his family’s business interests.

After considerable discussion and consideration of each of the proposed eleven areas in the annexation plan, council ultimately agreed to set a special meeting on Wednesday, April 23 to vote on what areas to include and/or adjust and whether or not the city even wants to adopt the ordinances.

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Humbird challenges Stringer for AISD Trustee

April 23, 2014


Voters in the Alvin Independent School District will decide the Board Trustee for Position 6 in the May 10 election. One-term incumbent Sue Stringer is seeking re-election and is being challenged by former Trustee Earl Humbird. Both Stringer and Humbird are long-time Alvin residents.

Explaining why she wants a second term, Stringer says, “My passion for our students is what motivates me to action. I want the best for all of our students, but at the same time we have to be cognizant of the burden to the taxpayers. Two questions that I always ask myself – 1) does the expenditure add educational value to our students? And 2) Can the taxpayers afford the expense? Both are important questions and there must be a resounding yes to both to move forward. As a financial planner, I bring a different set of eyes to the board as it relates to the budget, one of the Board’s main responsibilities.”

Stringer claims “a strong passion for Career & Technology. We’ve made some great strides in this area for our students, but I would like to add more career choices. Not all students will go to college. By focusing on adding additional career choices for our students, we ensure that we are working toward a 100% success rate for all students in our district. Those who endeavor to go to college should leave high school ready to face that challenge without remediation. Those who choose a career path, should leave high school ready to be productive members of our community with a successful and bright future ahead for them.”

Other things she would like to accomplish during a second term include “building new schools in order to accommodate our growing student population and focusing on “needs” rather than “wants”; supporting a reduction in classroom sizes; ensure that Common Core and CScope do not creep into our curriculum; ensure fair and equitable pay to all employees; and paying down our debt with budget surplus.”

Stringer defends her prior work on the Board: “As a sitting board member, I feel that I have done my due diligence as a trustee. I’ve read my board packets, asked the hard questions and stood my ground in defense of the students, employees and residents of the district. I’ve worked really hard to let residents on the west side and in Manvel know that they indeed do have representation. I am likely the only board member that has taken the time to visit every single school in our district. It has been my pleasure to be your servant-leader as Trustee, and I would consider it an honor and a privilege to continue representing the citizens of Alvin ISD. Thank you for your continued support!”

Earl Humbird explained his reason for wanting to return to the Board: “I previously served on the board for nine consecutive years, however; I decided to retire from my position to allow my children the opportunity to apply for jobs within the district. I have always placed the utmost importance on education and being on the board would give me an opportunity to, once again, be an active advocate for providing quality education opportunity to the students of Alvin ISD. I would like to help continue to mold Alvin ISD into an exemplary district. I believe that with the right amount of support and passion, Alvin can easily be the district that all others look up to and try to mirror. A major part of helping Alvin ISD reach its full potential is building facilities that can adequately accommodate the rapidly growing district. This would be one of the major focuses of my term, should I be elected.

Humbird explains his passion for “giving every student the opportunity to a quality education, and a successful life in general. One of the essential components of a quality education is providing the students with preparation for whatever path they choose after graduation. The district should offer a wide range of programs that will allow a student to excel, no matter if they decide attend college or a technical school, join the military, or enter the workforce.”

“There are several qualities I have that could benefit the greater good of Alvin ISD,” Humbird explains. “I have past board experience and during my terms I acted as both secretary and president. Established relationships with teachers and administrators within the district provide me with a deeper understanding of the issues currently facing our schools; I hear the problems and challenges first hand from the teachers that are experiencing them on a daily basis. This insight allows me to better represent the needs and desires of our district employees and act in the best interest of the students. My previous experience has also strengthened my leadership and diplomacy skills. I am familiar with the concerns of the community, the needs of the schools, and the rights of the students.”

Explaining that “open communication is essential in fairly and effectively representing the entire community, I have always had, and will continue to have, an open-door policy for both the community and the staff of Alvin ISD to express their concerns, praises, and recommendations. I have the experience, desire, and passion to fairly and effectively represent this community as a trustee of Alvin ISD School Board.”

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AISD Voters to decide Position 7 Trustee

April 23, 2014


Vivian Scheibel from Shadow Creek Ranch is vying against Chad Dudley from Alvin for the Position 7 seat. Scheibel has been a resident of Shadow Creek Ranch in Pearland for ten years. She is a graduate of Texas A&M and works in the hardware and software industry as a Pre-Sales Solutions Architect. She serves as a Sunday school teacher and is active with Cub Scouts and youth soccer and claims to be “passionate about education and community service.”

Explaining her reason for running, Scheibel says, “As a family, we are deeply invested in Alvin ISD and I wish to serve the needs of our students and contribute to a rising standard of excellence in our schools. If given the opportunity to serve, I plan to team with our Board of Trustees to proactively accommodate the growth in AISD, increase our accessibility to district leadership, improve accountability of campus and student performance, and heighten achievement of all our students. I am committed to ensuring that our students are provided an education that will engage them, challenge them, and prepare them for success in a competitive 21st century.”

Scheibel is very enthusiastic about the AISD Engaged Learning Model and wants to facilitate and support it as a parent and potential Trustee. She also would like to promote “soft skills such as communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving to better serve our students.” As a technology professional, Scheibel believes she “understands the ways technology has changed careers and how the education of our students must reflect these changes. I have the ability to communicate, collaborate, research, analyze, and problem-solve,” she says.

If elected, Scheibel “would like to see the Board and district leadership work to foster a cohesive and engaged partnership with the Alvin ISD community. I think it would be tremendously helpful to have “mobile” Board meetings throughout our district so that our community members can more easily attend.” She would like to see town hall meetings similar to the recent Education Summits held by AISD administrators so that “we can better partner with our community. Communication is key for any successful partnership. If elected I want to work with the constituents to better understand how to keep them informed and obtain their feedback. I want to consider newsletters, Facebook, and other forms of media to maintain a healthy dialogue with the Alvin ISD community.”

Scheibel says “we must also be mindful and respectful of taxpayer burden. We need to preserve our culture of fiscal responsibility by preserving our strong credit rating and keeping a healthy amount of operating reserves. As we continue to grow we must prevent overcrowding from detracting from the educational experience of our students.”

Scheibel claims to “have a profound desire to serve our district. We have a great district and I believe we can become an exceptional district at every level. I want our students to be offered an education that will prepare them to be highly achieving, career-oriented, community-minded, and successful citizens. If elected, I will fulfill my duties as Trustee with passion, integrity, diligence, and a deep respect for the diverse communities that encompass Alvin ISD.”

Chad Dudley explains his reason for running: “I decided to run for school board to help support efforts to build a quality school system for AISD. I feel it is our responsibility as members to work together to make sure that our schools are providing our kids with the best education and life skills that they will need after graduation.”

Dudley is a lifelong Alvin resident and is actively involved in numerous civic groups. He currently serves as Vice President of Lending at HomeTown Bank in Alvin and claims he “will bring common-sense economics to the forefront with my banking & finance background. I also feel that my professional background will help me to work with other board members and the community to provide a quality education for the youth of our community through planning, setting policy and evaluating results.”

If elected to the Board, Dudley would like to “provide students with the resources they need to be a productive member of society after graduation. Many of our children will be preparing for college, and we need to be diligent in helping them achieve their goals of college. Many of our students will be preparing to enter the work force after high school. I feel strongly that AISD needs to be prepared to help with vocational training for these students so that they are prepared to enter the work force. In my everyday life at the bank I see children every day that have no idea how to do the most common things in life like balance a check book, do their taxes, or interview for a job. My main goal will be to bring back the common sense principals that every student should learn before they are allowed to graduate.”

Remembering back when most of 288 in Pearland was farm land, Dudley now sees it as one of the larger parts of AISD. “I feel that my main goal as a potential board member is to give every last child in this district the same exact chance at a quality education. That is what we owe them. I am committed to working with parents and stakeholders throughout the 250 square miles of Alvin ISD. We are one of the fastest growing districts in Texas, so there is no time for divisions or sides, because if we do… The children will suffer for it!”

Dudley wants “to help make Alvin ISD one of the best school districts in the state. I look forward to working with fellow board members, administrators, teachers and staff to continue the tradition of excellence that Alvin ISD has enjoyed for over 100 years.”

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Manvel Mayor to be selected

April 30, 2014


Current six-term incumbent Delores Martin is seeing her mayoral position challenged by former city council member Gary Garnett in this year’s city elections on May 10. Martin enjoyed no opposition in her previous two election and is serving in her thirteenth consecutive year. Martin loves being the ambassador for Manvel, saying “I love this city and the people in it. I promote it whenever and wherever I can.”

She considers the city “blessed with a continued growth in projects and wonderful people.” She says the city budget under her guidance has gone from $100,000 in her first term in 2001 to over $4 million this fiscal year and boasts that Manvel citizens have seen no increase in their tax rate for the past seven years. She also is proud that the city has achieved a AA+ bond rating demonstrating sound fiscal management of city resources and that Manvel is the only city in Brazoria County that grants a tax exemption of $90,000 to citizens over 65 years and the disabled.

Feeling the “tide has turned our way,” Martin “hopes and prays to continue with the growth we have been blessed with. We have waited patiently for economic growth to find our city. It is finally here knocking at our door. We want to be “driving the bus”, not the developers and we have all our documents in place: comprehensive plan, thoroughfare plan, design criteria manual, master drainage plan and an open-door policy for developers to follow.” She claims the city is “ready, willing and able to meet (developers) needs head-on”. She believes the flow of continued rooftops and the projected thousands of new jobs coming to southern Brazoria County will create increased demand for new homes in Manvel and that the grocery store everyone wants is “now on our radar.” She claims several large grocery stores and big box stores are showing an interest in Manvel and feels once the infrastructure along SH6 is available that “even more opportunities will be encouraged. We pride ourselves on being a user-friendly city,” she says.

Martin says it is up to the voters to decide if a change is needed. “We have truly begun to be the city on the rise. I believe we have hung together waiting for these opportunities to arise and now they are here. We have prepared and now we are ready to proceed. We have good relationships with incoming developers. I have gone the extra mile and then some to encourage development to choose Manvel as their location. We do not make promises we cannot keep. Truth, honesty and integrity are our goals. Together we can and will make a difference.”

Claiming to always be willing to talk with citizens, Martin says, “The doors are always open for our residents to come and discuss whatever issue they desire. If some do not like the ordinances and permits they have the opportunity to come before council and plead their case. Everyone has a right to their opinion and a right to be heard.”

In asking for citizens support a seventh time, Martin states her case: “I have been honored and greatly supported over the past 13 years serving the City of Manvel. I have met many wonderful, caring people who share my hopes and dreams for our beloved city. This has been a long journey, but the “Stars” are finally in our grasp. Patience is a virtue. I ask you for your continued support to make Manvel a city we can all be proud of. Nothing good has ever come easy. Hard work pays off.”

In challenging the mayor, Gary Garnett thinks it is time for a change: “new leadership is always good to get things off dead center and new blood always is healthy in any organization, especially government.” Garnett is semi-retired and a member of the Manvel Lions Club. He served as chairman of the Planning, Development and Zoning Commission from 2000-2005 and served on City Council from 2005-2011. “While serving on council, I worked to keep taxes low, supported lower taxes for Senior Citizens, pushed to hire a City Manager, and supported the continued upgrade of our roads and drainage.”

Garnett sees “new development really facing Manvel and I believe as a businessman for over 40 years I have the experience to lead Manvel to the new levels that the citizens expect.” Garnett believes as mayor that the experience gained from six years on council combined with his leadership would “lead council to new levels of accomplishment for the city. I am a hands on person and I believe Manvel needs a Mayor that has business experience to bring new development to the city.”

If elected, Garnett says he “will strive to accomplish more infrastructure for Manvel in drainage and roads and see that the city looks groomed and well taken care of, including ditches that need to be cleaned and grass that is waist high. As Mayor I will not micro manage the staff but instead lead them to better accomplish their jobs. I will utilize the high levels of personnel that are in place. I truly believe that as Mayor I can streamline the existing staff and make changes that are needed in Manvel.”

Other accomplishments he would strive for as mayor include “improving the public trust with our city government; grow the Tax Base for our city seeking new businesses and developments to increase our tax income and keep our citizen’s tax from increasing; support and improve economic development projects; and work with developers on new subdivisions and shopping centers to increase housing and the opportunity to secure that new Grocery store our city has needed for years.” Garnett considers the city charter as “good” but feels some changes are needed. One change he supports is “the districting of council seats so the residences have their own councilman and not all council at large. A growing city must have representation by district.”

Hoping that Manvel voters agree a change is needed at the mayor’s office, Garnett expresses his sentiment: “Manvel has been our home for many years. I want to keep our community growing and prospering. It's time for new leadership for our community and our city council. I am offering the citizens of Manvel that choice. I am ready, willing, experienced, and available to work with staff and our city council to make the best decisions possible. I want to lead this community in the coming years to make it a better place to raise our children and for our families to have the opportunity to have new parks, ball fields, soccer fields, schools, and a community we are proud to live in. Manvel is a city on the rise and with your support we can make this a better place to live.”

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