State of Counties Address draws large BAHEP crowd

November 1st, 2018

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, from right, welcomes Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, TXU Energy Business Director Jason Schultz and Tiger 21 Chairman Rick Gornto to the State of the Counties Address Sept. 27 at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett probably grow tired of giving speeches, but one attending Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s State of the Counties Address Sept. 27 at Lakewood Yacht Club would never know it.

Both reeled off things foremost in the public’s mind, and, interlacing their remarks with a sprinkling of humor, provided BAHEP members with a quick look at the projects and problems at hand.

Judge Emmett spoke first, expressing his pleasure over the passage of the $2.5 billion Harris County flood bond referendum, noting that having the money on hand is necessary to getting matching federal dollars for Harvey improvements, going on to stress that “we need more accurate flood plain maps.”

He also discussed indigent healthcare, a cost borne by property owners that will probably be even more costly in the future. “We’ve got to get away from the county jail being the largest healthcare facility in the county,” he said, explaining that we’re turning a lot of bad kids into bad criminals instead of trying to rehabilitate them. “They get out of prison but can’t get a job because they have a prison record,” he said, “and eventually end up back in jail.”

Judge Henry reeled off a number of headline-type facts for the crowd, including the news that a Coastal Spine study by the seven-county group is due next month. Other items of interest:

  • Work on the expansion of State Highway 146 will begin in January 2019.
  • A total of 20,000 Galveston County homes were damaged during Hurricane Harvey.
  • The Highway 646 overpass will be destroyed in January 2019.
  • Friendswood is growing with a big new development under way.
  • Galveston is getting a third cruise line and a record number of tourists this summer.
  • League City’s population is now approximately 120,000.
  • La Marque is the county’s fastest growing city, because of a big new development.

Area mayors attending included Pat Hallisey of League City, Carl Joiner of Kemah, Mike McNamara of Clear Lake Shores, Mike Foreman of Friendswood, Louis Rigby of La Porte, Thom Kolupski of Seabrook and Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point, along with State Rep. Dennis Paul, Councilmen Dave Martin of Houston and Larry Millican of League City and Mayor Pro-tem Amanda Fenwick of Clear Lake Shores.

Time has come to get serious about protecting our region and the nation

October 1st, 2017

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, at the podium, prepares to roll-out dynamic new storm surge protection video during a media event held Sept. 12 at Houston City Hall. Shown, from left are: Houston City Council Members Karla Cisneros, Dave Martin, David Robinson, Jack Christie, standing behind Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Mayor Pro-Tem Ellen R. Cohen. Next to Cohen are State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, State Rep. Dennis Paul, and Stephen C. Costello, City of Houston chief resilience officer and “flood czar.”

By Kathryn Paradis

Victor Hugo, a French writer famous for penning Les Misérables, among many other works, wrote, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Following the massive destruction of Hurricane Harvey, roughly estimated to have caused $150 billion in damages, it appears that the time has finally come to take storm surge protection for the upper Texas Gulf coast under serious consideration.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, less than 24 hours shy of the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Ike, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and the City of Houston rolled out the second in a series of videos produced to promote the critical need for a coastal spine system, an “Ike Dike” if you will, to protect the people, homes, businesses, industries and economies of the region, state, and nation.

The film, Unprepared – A Nation at Risk, produced by Space City Films and funded by the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, takes a hard look at the consequences of Houston suffering a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, surrounded by members of city council and other stakeholders, led the media event by stating, “I don’t think there is a better time to have this conversation than right now. As we work diligently to get back on track after the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, we are also keeping our eyes on the vital need for strong surge protection in our region.”

“It is very difficult,” he emphasized, “to have a conversation about rebuilding if we don’t have a serious conversation about mitigation … It needs to be a part of the rebuilding process.”

San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer says hello to Col. Len Waterworth, Texas A&M Galveston executive professor.

The mayor continued, “I think that Hurricane Harvey was a warning sign that we need to start talking, and, quite frankly, we need to start designing and building. There is no reason that in the package before Congress that they are considering that the coastal spine should not be fully funded.”

Mayor Turner then invited BAHEP President Bob Mitchell to address the media and others in the overflow crowd in the Legacy Room at Houston City Hall. BAHEP, in partnership with Texas A&M University at Galveston among many others, has been working since 2009 to gain support for a coastal spine system.

“We’ve actually been able to accomplish more in the last 10 months than we have in the previous seven years,” Mitchell told the crowd, pointing out that the accomplishments would not have been possible without the assistance of many people, notably Dr. Bill Merrell of Texas A&M Galveston, the “father” of the coastal spine concept. “Without his foresight and creativity, there is no way that we would be standing here today,” Mitchell said.

He invited everyone to watch the video, which spoke of Texas storms and their consequences, featured interviews with hurricane experts and elected officials, and outlined the potential financial impact on the nation of such storms and the aftermath of a major storm surge barreling up the Houston Ship Channel. The dynamic video can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v_Ez1Xvkjqo.

Movers & Shakers: Bob Mitchell

November 1st, 2016

11-1xbobxmitchellName:  Bob Mitchell

Occupation:  President of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

Hometown: Houston

Current home: Pearland

Family: Three sons: Nathan, 36; Greg, 34; and Mark, 32

My favorite writer is: Bill O’Reilly

Someone I’d like to meet: Ronald Reagan

If I could switch places with someone for just one day, I’d choose:  The President of the United States

My favorite performers are: Earl Thomas Conley

I like to spend my leisure time: In the country or Rockport fishing

If I could travel any place, I’d go to: Alaska

My favorite meal is: Seafood

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be:  A police officer

You’ll never catch me: Wearing clothes that are not ironed

The thing that bugs me the most is: People who procrastinate. Make a decision and move on

My favorite movie is: The Bridges of Madison County

Few people know: I have lived on my own since I was 14 years old