17 families left temporarily homeless in League City fires

October 31st, 2019

By Mary Alys Cherry

Two League City women suffered burns in two different fires – one a home and the other an apartment complex — that left 17 families temporarily homeless.

League City Fire Marshal Tommy Cones, who is investigating both blazes, said the first fire was in the 2100 block of Leisure Lane about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14. The homeowner reported smelling smoke while in the kitchen and heard her dog barking in the back bedroom. When she went to investigate, she saw heavy fire and smoke inside. She immediately called 911 and attempted to extinguish the blaze but was unsuccessful.

On arrival, the League City Fire Department found the two-story house engulfed in flames, Cones said. The homeowner and another female occupant, as well as the dog, all made it out safely. The other female occupant, who was treated by League City EMS for minor injuries along with burns to her hands and face, said a candle was left burning in the bedroom.
Sixteen families living in the Constellation Apartments and Marina at 451 Constellation Boulevard in League City had to be evacuated and were unable to return to their homes after a fire that started about 9:07 p.m. Oct. 16.

The tenant of the apartment where the fire originated told firefighters that after placing a container on the stove filled with grease to cook her evening meal she left the container unattended while she returned to her bedroom and after a short time smelled smoke. She attempted to turn the power off to the stove but was unsuccessful. She received second degree burns to her arms and shoulder and was transported to Clear Lake Hospital by paramedics from the League City Emergency Medical Services.

On arrival, League City and Webster firefighters reported heavy smoke coming from the apartment and attic. Crews entered the upstairs apartment and immediately extinguished the blaze, but due to the rapid extension of the flames remained on the scene for several hours.

Approximately 40 firefighters fought the blaze. Anyone with questions should contact Fire Marshal Tommy Cones at 281-554-1291.

Super Sully: A Child’s Fight Against Cancer

September 30th, 2019

Sullivan Butler in his “Super Sully” shirt ringing the bell after doctors confirmed he was cancer free in 2017.

Sullivan and his dad, Dan, in the hospital during his treatment.

Talking to League City Intermediate seventh-grader Sullivan Butler, he appears to be just a normal 13-year-old boy who loves researching snakes, filling his house with his Lego creations and messing around with his two younger brothers.

But underneath this boyish exterior is the mark of a fighter who has overcome more than most will in a lifetime.

Back in 2016, Sullivan began complaining about back pain. His parents and his pediatrician chalked it up to him just being an active 10-year-old when preliminary tests came back negative. However, the pain quickly progressed over the next few weeks.

“It got to the point where nothing, including medicine, would help relieve the pain except taking warm baths,” Sullivan said. “Those few nights were horrible. I would get 15 minutes of sleep before the pain in my back would wake me up and I would have to go get in the bath.”

His parents, Dan and Jen, decided to take him to the emergency room to hopefully get answers as to why their son’s symptoms were quickly deteriorating each day, which included a severe headache that started in the waiting room. Little did they know that this hospital visit would change their lives forever.

“They did a CT scan on my head and found a golf-ball-sized tumor on my brain,” Sullivan said. “It had metastasized down my spine, which is what caused the pain in my back, and was now putting pressure on my brain because it kept growing.”

Sullivan was rushed to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where he would undergo brain surgery less than one day after the tumor was found.

“A surgical team typically spends several days reviewing scans and conferring to create detailed plans for surgery,” said Dan Butler, Sullivan’s dad. “Medicine is about managing risk, and there are few things riskier than cutting into a child’s brain. But the unrelenting pressure on his brain had turned into a race against the clock, so the surgeons would have to go in and do the best they could with the information they had. Sullivan needed surgery, quickly, or he wouldn’t survive another day,” he said.

Doctors would confirm that Sullivan was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. He would join the ranks of more than 300,000 families around the world who are fighting pediatric cancer, which is also considered the leading cause of death among children in the United States.

 

Sullivan today posing in the library at League City Intermediate.

“I wish I could describe some slow realization that occurred here,” said Dan. “There is no history of childhood cancer in our family and Sullivan had no previous health problems. Sometimes in the trillions of processes our cells carry out each day, something just goes wrong. Pediatric cancer strikes without compunction or consideration for health, wealth, age, sex, race, or any other factors that we use to distance ourselves from catastrophic events,” he said.

After surgery, it became clear that something was wrong. Sullivan complained of double vision, his speech was halted, and he lost use of both of his legs. These symptoms were a result of a surgical injury called Posterior Fossa Syndrome, which occurs in one of three children with medulloblastoma.

Over the next several weeks, a few of Sullivan’s symptoms improved as he was recovering from surgery. This is when his parents had to make the tough decision to tell him the truth about his diagnosis.

“My parents told me what the doctors had found, and they ended up having to tell me twice because I forgot about the first time because of all of the medicine they had me on,” Sullivan said. “So, I had to experience it twice. The only word I have to describe it was shock.”

Doctors sat down with Dan and Jen to then deliver their cancer and treatment plan. Overall, this would result in five surgeries, 30 rounds of radiation and four rounds of high-dose, in-patient chemotherapy. Sullivan would receive the highest amount of radiation and chemotherapy that could be given to children.

“It was another harsh lesson in pediatric cancer treatment,” Dan said. “Three weeks prior I had to fight with the radiologists at the ER to get a CT scan because they didn’t want to expose him to radiation. Now, doctors were going to fire 10 million times that amount into his brain.”

Some of the doctors also told his parents that they did not believe Sullivan would ever walk again on his own due to the surgical injury. Sullivan, however, slowly began to defy the odds.

“They didn’t think I would walk again, but I proved them all wrong,” Sullivan said. “A lot of people have said it was just my determination to walk again. But I wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

With the help of family, who he says were his biggest cheerleaders, and his physical therapists, he did indeed prove everyone wrong. Almost three years after that initial hospital visit, Sullivan is now cancer free and walking the halls of his intermediate school with his seventh-grade peers. He says he is proud of all that he has overcome.

“I definitely matured a lot,” Sullivan said. “I feel like going through this made me a better person.”

Looking towards his future, Sullivan still has hurdles to conquer as a result of his diagnosis, but he is determined to never stop fighting and not let anything hold him back from what he likes to do. This includes exploring his passion for cooking both at home and in his culinary arts class at school.

“Sullivan has never let his health stand in the way of participating in class,” said his culinary arts teacher, Amanda Pankratz. “If anything, I think that Sullivan’s previous health challenges have helped him find and manage the strength to conquer it all. I think he enjoys Culinary Arts so much because he holds passion. Crossing paths with him by being a part of my class this year has been one of my greatest blessings.”

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month which is recognized by childhood cancer organizations around the world to increase awareness and raise funds for kids like Sullivan. He states that helping to fund research for childhood cancers is important so as many kids as possible can get the treatment they need to survive.

“My advice for kids in similar situations is just take it one day at a time and never ever give up,” Sullivan said.

If you would like to learn more about pediatric brain cancer research and how you can help, please email dan.butler@medulloresearch.org.

League City sailor’s remains to be buried 78 years later

May 30th, 2019

Members of the public are invited to a reception on Saturday, June 1 to honor a 19-year-old League City sailor who died in the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and whose remains were recently identified using DNA analysis.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class Richard J. Thomson will be interred at Fairview Cemetery on North Kansas at 1 p.m. The City of League City, in conjunction with The Fairview Cemetery Group and the League City Historical Society, will host a reception at the League City Recreation Center on 400 West Walker immediately following the burial.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Thomson was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Thomson.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Thomson.

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknown remains from the Punchbowl for analysis. In 2019, scientists from the DPAA collaborated with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System to use anthropological and DNA analysis to officially identify Thomson and subsequently notify his family.

Thomson’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette has been placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

League City mayor urges yes vote on 3 bond propositions

April 1st, 2019

League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, seated, joins City Manager John Baumgartner and League City Regional Chamber Chairman Rebecca Lilley for a photo at the State of the City Luncheon at the Civic Center.

By Mary Alys Cherry

The state of League City is quite good, Mayor Pat Hallisey will be quick to tell you, but he hopes to make it better.

The best way, he thinks, is for voters to approve the three bond referendums on their Saturday, May 4 municipal election ballot. And, he offered a rather strong argument for passage. There are three propositions on the ballot – A, B and C, he explained as he addressed the large crowd at the League City Regional Chamber State of the City Luncheon March 8 in the Johnnie Aroflo Civic Center.

“A and B are general obligation bonds for drainage and mobility improvement projects — $73 million for drainage and flooding projects and $72 million for 10 traffic and mobility projects,’” he said, adding that Prop C is a sales tax referendum. The $150 million from the bonds is only the tip of the iceberg, he said, adding that something definitely needs to be done. “People who sit in traffic an hour every morning aren’t going to stay here very long,” the mayor pointed out, adding that Congressman Randy Weber also is trying to help the city with its problems.

“But why the decision to place the sales tax referendum on the ballot? Simply to offset any tax increase if the bond propositions pass,” he said, adding that the revenue from the tax will be dedicated to mobility and drainage projects only. And, it will cost only one penny for every $4 one spends.

Prop C, the mayor said, “will bring in an estimated $3.3 million in the first year alone and increase as we bring in more commercial business.

“Basically, for every $4 you spend at Starbucks for that cup of coffee, ONE penny will go to drainage and traffic improvements in League City. And that includes visitors to our city. In fact, 30 percent of our current sales tax revenue is generated by visitors to our city,” he told the crowd, explaining that the bond propositions are the city’s first in 27 years.

League City Love was the theme of the luncheon, so, when he concluded his remarks, he added: “Go out and show your love for League City.”

Hallisey also said he was proud of the work he and the City Council had done this past year and noted that he and a number of local officials were in Austin earlier that week.

“We are all working together to ensure the future success of League City. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t disagree at times, but it is different than it was just a few months ago. We are more collaborative, respectful, and we are a team. We are all working towards the same goal – to make League City the best place to live, work and play,” he told the crowd that included Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, City Manager John Baumgartner and City Councilmen Larry Millican, Chad Tressler and Greg Gripon.

City Manager Baumgarter also addressed the crowd, bringing smiles to many faces as he outlined a number of projects the city is currently focused on – a master water plan, Calder Road, additional park facilities, better communications to better engage residents, new businesses and providing a quality environment.

“This year – 2019 – will be our best yet,” he promised. And, from the sound of the applause, it most likely will be.

League City school history dates back to 1873

February 1st, 2019

Third-generation League City Elementary students stand on the steps of Clear Creek ISD’s oldest school building. At least one of their grandparents attended school here.

As nearly 30, third-generation students from League City Elementary stand on the steps of their current school, they might not be fully able to grasp the rich piece of history that lives within the walls of the oldest building in the Clear Creek Independent School District.

Earlier in 2018, these students were temporarily moved back into the building where one or both of their grandparents attended school so that contractors could finish a complete rebuild of the new League City Elementary more quickly. This new building will add yet another chapter in the history of League City schools since the early 1870s.

“Our students were so excited when we moved into this building last December,” said League City Elementary Principal Xan Wood. “They see this building as a nicer facility than the one that they had before. We are trying to tell the story of how far our schools have come over the last 100 years as well, while we are here.”

The first school, named the Clear Creek School House, dates back to 1873 when George Washington Butler built a one-room cabin to be used as a school for his children and those of his neighbors. In 1890, League City’s namesake, John C. League, purchased land in the original town of Clear Creek and set out to develop the city.

As the railroad brought in new families, a larger school was needed for local children. In 1894, League built a three-room building on the corner of Kansas Avenue and 2nd Street to be used as a community school. The Hurricane of 1900 would destroy this building, and the Little Green School House was built in its place in 1901. After 79 years of being used by the district, the building was torn down in 1980. A schoolhouse museum which displays local school memorabilia and educational artifacts now stands in its place.

In 1912, a $15,000 bond was passed by the citizens of League City to build a two-story brick building for a new school on the corner of South Kansas Avenue and Walker Street. The League City School served students in grades one through twelve for 26 years before being torn down during the Great Depression.

When the 1912 League City School was demolished in 1938, the new white school building was erected in its place. This is the building where the current students of League City Elementary are learning 106 years later.

Dera Cooke, who started her teaching career in the current building 37 years ago, reflects on the history of the school with fond memories. “Back to the future is what it feels like. I was so excited to actually come back here because I really like this building,” said Cooke who came out of retirement to help League City students with a variety of subjects and test prep.

The Clear Creek Consolidated School District, now known as the Clear Creek Independent School District, was formed on April 20, 1948 during a joint meeting of the boards of trustees of the League City, Seabrook and Webster area districts. Kemah, a common school district, voted to join the consolidation three months later. League City was the largest of the communities at the time with a population of about 1,000 people. The League City School was turned into an elementary and junior high at this point, with the high school students being sent to Webster High School.

“The front entrance of the school is exactly the same and I still remember the spot in the gym in there where I had to put my nose to the wall one time,” said first-generation League City Elementary student John Lothrop. He attended school in the current building for grades one through six beginning in 1957.

Through the years after consolidation, the League City School building has served multiple purposes once the most recent League City Elementary was built in 1960. As the District grew, space was needed to house different grade levels and even different schools, such as Clear View High School and Clear Path Alternative High School. Clear Creek ISD is now celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and has gone from serving nearly 1,000 students in 1948 to now more than 42,000 in 2018.

Even through the excitement of having a new building to learn in next year, Principal Wood still sees the importance of teaching her students about the history of the building they are currently in before moving into their new space.

“As the year has progressed, the history of the building and the classrooms has been shared through staff and local community members and students find it all so fascinating,” said Wood. “Having more than 30 third-generation Mustangs and many more second-generation students, the parents and grandparents have also enjoyed coming back ‘home’ to visit.”

The new League City Elementary building, which will have a capacity of 900 students, is projected to be finished in August 2019 before the beginning of school. This project was part of the May 2017 CCISD Bond program approved by voters.

“I absolutely cannot wait for our students, teachers, and families to walk into the new building next August,” said Wood. “We have had the pleasure to watch it go up beam by beam and we celebrate each week the progress being made.”

For more information on the 70th anniversary of Clear Creek ISD, visit www.ccisd.net/70years.

League City Fire Marshal’s Office seeks assistance with identification

January 22nd, 2019

An unidentified woman is being sought for questioning about the activation of a fire alarm on Friday, Jan. 4 at South Shore Harbour Resort, located at 2500 South Shore Blvd. in League City.

At approximately 10:50 p.m., the fire alarm was activated, initiating a false report of a fire and bringing out the League City Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Marshal Tommy Cones said.

After further investigation by his office, the incident was found to have been recorded by video surveillance cameras located on the property. Also, other suspicious activities were noted in the video, which cause concerns to the investigators, Cones said. Photos of the unidentified female and the vehicle she drove off in were released to the press.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is considering this person a “person of interest” and seeks the public’s assistance with identifying her. Anyone with information on the identity or location of this person, is asked to contact Fire Marshal Tommy Cones at 281-554-1291 or Deputy Fire Marshal Lee Darrow at 281-554-1292.

League City seeks feedback on proposed bond election

December 14th, 2018

League City is considering placing general obligation bond initiatives and a ¼ cent sales tax referendum on the ballot for League City voters to consider in May 2019.

Residents are encouraged to share their feedback on projects up for consideration by taking the short survey below. The survey will close on Dec. 21, 2018.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/league-city-may-2019-election

A City Council work session to discuss a possible bond election was held Dec. 11, in council chambers. Citizens were able to make comments at the end of the presentation and during the Hearing of Citizens portion of the 6 p.m. Council meeting.

Town Hall meetings have also been scheduled for Jan. 10 and Feb. 7 to gather input from residents. Both meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center.

In the coming weeks and months, City Council will be discussing the projects in detail as well as the overall decision of whether or not to place a general obligation bond and/or a ¼ cent sales tax on the ballot for League City voters to consider in May 2019. Statutory requirements mandate that City Council must call for the election by February 15, 2019 in order to hold the election in May.

League City seeks feedback on proposed bond election

December 12th, 2018

Citizen Survey Open till December 21

League City is considering placing general obligation bond initiatives and a ¼ cent sales tax referendum on the ballot for League City voters to consider in May 2019. Residents are encouraged to share their feedback on projects up for consideration by taking the short survey below. The survey will close on Dec. 21, 2018.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/league-city-may-2019-election

Town Hall meetings also have been scheduled for Jan. 10 and Feb. 7, to gather input from residents. Both meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center.

In the coming weeks and months, City Council will be discussing the projects in detail as well as the overall decision of whether or not to place a general obligation bond and/or a ¼ cent sales tax on the ballot for League City voters to consider in May 2019. Statutory requirements mandate that City Council must call for the election by Feb. 15, 2019 in order to hold the election in May.

Movers & Shakers: John Baumgartner

November 1st, 2018

Name: John Baumgartner

Occupation: League City’s city manager

Hometown: Juneau, Alaska

Current home: League City

Family: Wife, Dee Dee; Children: Dallas 26, Robert 26, Emily 22, and Daci 14

What do you like about your job: The great people working together to make League City the very best!
Someone I’d like to meet: Jesus

My favorite performers are: James Taylor or anything sports

I like to spend my leisure time: Relaxing with family

If I could travel any place, I’d go to: Alaska in the summer and Hawaii in the winter

My favorite meal is: Anything my mother cooks, but a great steak and salad with her apple pie is the best

As a youngster, I wanted to grow up to be: Lawyer, but math was better than English, so I went to engineering school

You’ll never catch me: Cheating at golf

The thing that bugs me the most is: Dishonesty

My favorite movie is: Forrest Gump

Few people know: I ran the Boston Marathon when I was skinny

Houston Methodist celebrates opening of Physician Clinics in League City

September 28th, 2018

Local residents, physicians and staff help celebrate the grand opening and League City Chamber ribbon cutting at Houston Methodist Physician Clinics located in Tuscan Lakes.

A large turnout of local residents, physicians and staff helped celebrate the recent opening of Houston Methodist Physician Clinics – a new primary and specialty care facility in League City.

“In spite of the rain, we were glad to see so many members of the community come out to celebrate this event,” said Dan Newman, Houston Methodist St. John Hospital CEO. “We’re excited to be bringing leading medicine to their neighborhoods.”

Houston Methodist Physician Clinics – located at 2220 E. League City Pkwy. – brings orthopedics, sports medicine, physical and occupational therapy, X-ray services and primary care to families living in Tuscan Lakes and surrounding areas.

The new clinic also includes a sports performance turf lane for throwing, running and agility rehabilitation and training, as well as a vertical jump training machine.

In honor of the grand opening, League City Mayor Pat Hallisey issued an official proclamation, declaring Tuesday, Sept. 11 as “Houston Methodist Physician Clinics Day,” and the League City Chamber of Commerce conducted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

The multi-disciplinary team of primary care and specialty care physicians at the new facility include Dr. Anika Bell-Gray, a family medicine specialist with Houston Methodist Primary Care Group, as well as Dr. Javier Rios and Dr. Gillian Wooldridge, primary care sports medicine specialists; Dr. Jamie Alexander, an orthopedic hand surgeon; and Dr. Juan Serrato, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, all with Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Outpatient physical therapy is also located at the Physician Clinics.

Visit houstonmethodist.org/appointments or call 281.523.3110 to learn more or to schedule an appointment with a physician at Houston Methodist Physician Clinics in League City.