Historic agreement reached on Clear Creek flood project

August 1st, 2019

Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) commended the Army Corps of Engineers and the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) June 12 for reaching a historic agreement that will allow HCFCD to lead construction of the Clear Creek Flood Risk Reduction Project.

This agreement will transfer primary authority and funding for the Clear Creek project to HCFCD, he said, noting that authority to make this transfer from the Corps to a local sponsor like HCFCD has only been used once previously and the first time for a full project. This action will allow work on the project to begin much sooner, providing critical help for communities along Clear Creek.

“The Clear Creek project was first authorized in 1968 and federal bureaucracy has delayed this critical project for over half a century,” Olson said. “I’ve fought to get this project funded and completed since my time as a senior staffer in the Senate. I was thrilled to get it included in our Harvey disaster recovery projects and now it will move quickly and help manage flooding in a strategic part of our region.  I applaud the Army Corps and Harris County Flood Control for reaching this historic agreement to help finally get this project completed.”

State Rep. Dennis Paul added, “I am glad to see the Army Corps of Engineers working with our local flood officials is finally starting, and doing what they can to speed up the process to get flood mitigation on Clear Creek going. This has been the result of a lot of hard work by our federal, state and local elected officials working together to get this project started.”
“Congressman Olson has been working on the Clear Creek project since he was a senior Senate staffer, long before he was elected to Congress,” Russ Poppe, executive director of the Harris County Flood Control District said. “We deeply appreciate his years of dedication to seeing this project come to fruition through the signing of this PPA, as well the entire Harris County delegation who all work tirelessly to give us more tools to address flooding in our Gulf Coast region.”

Olson helped secure the $295 million for the Clear Creek Flood Damage Reduction project in the 2018 Disaster Supplemental funding bill. Olson also sent the Army Corps of Engineers a letter urging quick action to complete the Clear Creek Project in February.

The Clear Creek Project is a Flood Risk Management project that was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1968. The project is located in Harris and Brazoria counties, Texas, with 17 cities within the watershed. Now that the PPA is signed, HCFCD will execute construction and the remaining design. The estimated completion date is September 2025.

BAHEP gets 2019 economic overview

May 1st, 2019

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, from left, shares a light moment with Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, CLC Properties CEO John Wilkins, and Houston City Councilman Dave Martin.

By Kathryn Paradis

The outlook for the Texas economy in 2019 is good, but not so much for the global economy, according to research economist Harold Hunt, Ph.D., with Texas A&M University in Waco.

The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership invited him to speak at its annual State of the Economy luncheon, held March 28 at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook. Hunt opened his presentation by cautioning, “It’s going to start off pretty grim. I need you to hang with me, because it’s going to get better at the end.”

He reported that the global economic growth is slowing, vulnerable, and unsynchronized. German industrial production is falling. Brexit is a confusing mess, which increases uncertainty in the European Union. Japanese growth remains weak while Chinese economic growth is also decelerating. Hunt said that the slowing of Chinese GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is very much on the radar and is “really a big deal.” Hunt explained, “The fear is obviously that if China goes down, then the EU goes down. If the EU goes down, then we go down. There is a domino effect, and that is why we are seeing so much in the press.”

POSITIVE SIGNALS 
He then turned to the positive aspects of the U.S. economy. U.S. consumer confidence is stronger than it was 12-15 years ago, according to Hunt. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that inflation expectations over the next five years are still quite low at an average of 2 percent.

Is it possible to have a recession this year? Hunt explained that it isn’t impossible. He said that real GDP would have to fall a lot. “To get a recession this year, with GDP at 2.9 percent last year, the GDP would have to drop like a rock. Based on the hard data I’ve just showed you, I just don’t see that happening,” he said.

TEXAS OUTLOOK?
Overall, Hunt stated that the 2019 economy should be slower than 2018, but 2019 will still be a good year for Texas. Houston will see $2.5 billion more in construction contracts versus last year. As with Texas overall, an oil price in the mid-$50 to $60 range per barrel will keep the Houston economy stable, according to Hunt.

(Editor’s note: Dr. Hunt’s entire slide presentation with many, many more details can be viewed as a pdf on BAHEP’s website at https://www.bayareahouston.com/content/News_Events_and_Reports/reports.)

HCA-affiliated Clear Lake Regional Medical Center gets a new name

March 4th, 2019

Clear Lake Regional Medical Center was rebranded as HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake on Jan. 31.

By Mary Alys Cherry

HCA-affiliated Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster has a new name – HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake.

Officials said the name was changed to better reflect the hospital’s affiliation with one of Houston’s most comprehensive healthcare systems. They gathered at the hospital with League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and officials representing Webster Mayor Donna Rogers to officially launch its new identity.

“Taking the HCA name signals our commitment to be held to the highest standards in the industry,” said Todd Caliva, chief executive officer of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, who also announced upcoming improvements to the hospital, including new VIP labor and delivery suites, a facelift to the women’s services department, major construction to the Emergency Department entrance, two new operating rooms, a major cath lab expansion, and a significant bed expansion.

THIRD CHANGE
Actually, it is the third name change for the medical facility. It started out life as Clear Lake Hospital, but later became known as Humana Hospital-Clear Lake and then as Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.

Fay Dudney, wife of the late Dr. Ned Dudney of League City, who helped turn a dream into a reality, remembered how it all happened when she talked with us back in 2012 as the hospital was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“Dr. Larry Chapman (who died Dec. 2, 2018) came over from Seabrook to see us, and when he walked in, he said, ‘Ned, I want you to help me build a hospital here in our area.’”
Dudney, who had to put patients in hospitals long distances from their homes, immediately liked the idea, and “soon we sought out physicians all over the area,” Dr. Chapman said as he thought back to those heady days.

Joined by the late Dr. Joe Symon of Friendswood, “the three of us pursued things pretty hard, and before long some 18 to 20 doctors practicing at Bayshore Hospital in Pasadena gave us their blessings. And, their financial backing,” Dr. Chapman recalled.

The group bought a 70-acre tract bounded by State Highway 3 and Texas Avenue in Webster, and on George Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22, 1970, a crowd of 500 gathered for the groundbreaking of the $4.2 million hospital, which opened with 150 beds, but designed to hold 600 beds.

OPENING DAY
A crowd of 3,000 was on hand Sunday, March 12, 1972 for the dedication and opening of Clear Lake Hospital, as it was originally named. But over the years it has grown so much it is barely recognizable in early photographs. A new emergency room was added in 2003, and its $55 million Heart & Vascular Hospital was built across the street in 2007, then expanded in 2010 with a $17 million, 72-room addition that included a pharmacy and dialysis unit.

The hospital grew even larger in 2012 with a $92 million expansion that included a 154,000- square-foot Patient Tower with a 30-bed Intensive Care Unit and a wide range of innovations.

Every year, HCA Houston Healthcare provides care for more than one million hospital patients, more than 450,000 emergency room patients and delivers one in four births in Houston. It currently has more than 16,000 employees, including 6,900 nurses. And, now a new name.

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership honors George P. Bush

March 4th, 2019

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush holds the Quasar Award he was presented at the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s 26th annual Quasar Banquet at South Shore Harbour Resort. With him are, from left, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, 2019 BAHEP Board Chairman Todd Caliva and the 2018 Board Chairman Dr. Brenda Hellyer.

THE BAY AREA’S Movers and Shakers were out in force as the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership honored Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush with its Quasar Award for all his help on the proposed coastal barrier system to protect coastal communities and businesses from storm surge.

San Jacinto College Chancellor and 2018 BAHEP Board Chairman Dr. Brenda Hellyer introduced him to the black-tie crowd of nearly 600 that filled up South Shore Harbour Resort’s Crystal Ballroom, after which Bush called the coastal barrier system, or Ike Dike, “a project that is long past due” and one that will need the backing of everyone. “I’m committed to this project,” he promised the crowd.

Afterwards, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell joined them on stage to introduce the 2019 BAHEP Board Chairman Todd Caliva, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, which started out life as Clear Lake Hospital.

But there was quite a number of missing faces from the Johnson Space Center, which was closed due to the government shutdown. “This is the first time in 25 years,” Mitchell said, “that the JSC center director has not attended this event,” adding that JSC Director Mark Geyer sent his best wishes.

Dozens of elected officials were in the crowd including Congressman Randy Weber, State Sen. Carol Avarado, State Reps. Dr. Greg Bonnen, Ed Thompson, Mayes Middleton and Dennis Paul, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago and Constable Phil Sandlin and Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark and their mates.

Plus, a number of mayors – Pat Hallisey of League City, Julie Masters of Dickinson, Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point, Mark Denman of Nassau Bay, Louis Rigby of La Porte and Jon Kenney of Taylor Lake Village – and mayor pro-tems – Andrea Wilson of Webster, Don Matter of Nassau Bay, Todd Kinsey of League City, Jay Martin of La Porte and Teresa Vazquez Evans of Kemah – and their spouses.

City councilors joining the celebration included Dave Martin, David Robinson and Jack Christi of Houston, William King III, Bruce Henderson and Wally Deats of Dickinson, Steve Rockey and Carl Gustafson of Friendswood, Laura Davis and Jeff Larson of Seabrook, Robin Collins of Kemah, Steve Gillett of La Porte, Greg Gripon, Andy Mann and Larry Millican of League City, Thomas Schoenbein of Pasadena, Jonathan Amdur, Ashley Graves, Bryce Klug, John Mahon and Matt Prior of Nassau Bay, and Martin Graves, Beverly Gaines and Edward Lapear of Webster, along with City Managers John Baumgartner of League City, Wayne Sabo of Webster, Jason Reynolds of Nassau Bay and Gayle Cook of Seabrook.

Others introduced included UH-Clear Lake President Dr. Ira Blake, Texas A&M Galveston Vice President Col. Michael Fossum, San Jac Board Chairman Marie Flickinger, CCISD and DISD Superintendents Dr. Greg Smith and Carla Voelkel, Pasadena ISD Vice President Nelda Sullivan and Port Houston Commissioners John Kennedy and Clyde Fitzgerald.

The aerospace industry was well represented with Lockheed Martin VP and Orion Program Manager Dr. Mike Hawes, Boeing Space Station Program Manager Mark Mulqueen, MEI Technologies CEO David Cazes, Barrios President Robert McAfoos, Jacobs VP and GM Lon Miller, GB Tech President Gale Burkett, Leidos Division Manager Nan Hardin, Cimarron Software CEO Jeannie Crowell and President Darren Crowell, MRI Technologies President and VP Debbie and Tim Kropp, KBRwyle President Vernon McDonald and VP Genie Bopp, Oceaneering VP and GM Mike Bloomfield and astronaut Bonnie Dunbar in the mix.

League City Chamber President Steve Paterson and Chairman Rebecca Lilley were in the crowd as were Clear Lake Chamber President Cindy DeWease and Chairman Brian Freedman, Amoco Credit Union President Shawn Bailey, attorneys Joe Barlow, Craig Saunders, Chris Gregg, Dick Gregg Jr. and Dick Gregg III, Space City Films President Marc Havican, Moody Bank CEO Vic Pierson and VPs Brent Cockerham and Craig Barker, MaximGroup CEO Ron Masters, Norman Frede Chevrolet GM Joan McKinney, San Jac Vice Chancellor Teri Crawford, My Flooring America President Mike Furin, Col. Len Waterworth of Texas A&M Galveston and BayTran President Theresa Rodriguez.

Other well known faces spotted mingling in the crowd were Emmeline Dodd and Gene Hollier, Jack and Marcy Fryday, John Martinec, Carol and Bob Robinson, Harv Hartman, Beth and TJ Aulds, Amy and Paul Dunphey, Lynda Guidry, Karen and Mark Keesler, Jeannie Kranz, Harriet and Jon Pilgrim, Debbie and Dr. Peter Wuenschel, Al Saylor and Gwen Griffin, Jim and Jane Sweeney, and John Wilkins, whose pretty wife, Shari, sang the most beautiful rendition of the National Anthem we have probably ever heard.

Business Buzz

March 4th, 2019

Space test flights are delayed again
The first crewless test flights have been delayed again, NASA has announced. The space agency said the first uncrewed test flight by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon – previously planned for around Feb. 23 – is now scheduled for no earlier than March 2, with its second test flight with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken now scheduled for July.
Meanwhile, Boeing’s uncrewed test flight of the CTS-100 Starliner in March is now scheduled for no sooner than April, and its crewed test flight with Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke scheduled for no sooner than August.

NASA awards $2.9B contract to Leidos
NASA has awarded Leidos of Reston, Va., a contract for information technology (IT) end-user services to support the agency’s headquarters, centers and other performance sites.
NASA End-user Services & Technologies (NEST) is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that has a maximum value of $2.9 billion and includes a two-year, three-month base period followed by a two-year option, one-year option, and five one-year award term options that would extend the period of performance to May 31, 2029.
NASA personnel use IT to support the agency’s core business, scientific, research and computational activities. Leidos will provide, manage, secure and maintain these essential IT services for the agency.

Two firms donate $500,000 to SJC
As the building of the new San Jacinto College Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology nears completion, two companies have donated a total of $500,000 for an analyzer lab and for education and training.

Siemens has donated $250,000 to add an analyzer lab to the new center that is expected to open this fall while Dow Chemical has donated another $250,000 to ensure that training and the education curriculum in the center will align with the needs of petrochemical manufacturing employers.

Siemens, a global powerhouse focusing on electrification, automation and digitalization, has been among the college’s industry partners providing input and donations toward the project since the start of discussions about the San Jacinto College petrochemical training center.

San Jac broke ground for the $60 million center in September 2017. In addition to an associate degree and certificates, the college is pursuing the approval and development of a bachelor’s degree in applied technology.

Besides being an industry partner and member of the College’s Petrochemical Advisory Council, Dow Chemical Deer Park has hired 25 SJC graduates as operators in the past four years – or 23 percent of the site’s new hires. Dow also has established an apprenticeship program at the college.

Port has another outstanding year
In highlighting a host of achievements this past year, Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther announced several records were broken in 2018, including that total tonnage at the port set a record of 35.7 million tons – an increase of 9 percent from 2017.

“The strength of cargo activity helped drive operating revenue to $366 million for the year, shattering the previous record set in 2017 of $333 million.” Guenther said as he delivered his 2018 year-end report to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority during its first monthly meeting of 2019.

Combined business through the port’s public facilities also generated a total cash flow of $162 million, surpassing the previous record of $151 million set in 2017.

Presenting AMOCO Federal Credit Union’s sponsorship check for the Keep Kids in School Golf Tournament is (right) Stacey Malbrough with Communities In Schools-Bay Area’s Hillary Gramm, resource development director, and Dr. Peter Wunschel, executive director.

Amoco FCU gives $5,000 to CIS-BA
Since 2006, Amoco Federal Credit Union has supported at-risk students through the annual Keep Kids in School Golf Tournament sponsorships totaling $109,000. The golf tournament benefits Communities in Schools-Bay Area, a dropout prevention program serving 26 campuses in Clear Creek and Dickinson ISDs.

This year’ shamble tournament will be Monday, April 15 at Bay Oaks Country Club in Clear Lake.

In addition to sponsoring the tournament, Amoco staffers serve the students in different ways. Amoco’s Stacey Malbrough, culture and communications manager, mentors a League City Elementary School student in the program and works on the Raise Your Glass to CIS wine tasting event committee. Josh Ryding, Friendswood branch manager, works on the Keep Kids in School Golf Tournament Committee.

For sponsorships or golf tournament information, contact Hillary Gramm at hillaryg@cis.org or 281-486-6698.

Recovery centers to provide federal aid for repair of homes damaged by Harvey

January 16th, 2019

The City of Houston has taken a critical step forward with the opening of four Housing Resource Centers, one in each quadrant of the city, to use $1.17 billion in federal aid to assist Houstonians whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Anyone who may be eligible must first complete a survey:

  • Online at https://recovery.houstontx.gov
  • By phone at 832-393-0550 (Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Or in person at any of the new centers (Northeast, 9551 N. Wayside, Houston 77028; Northwest, 13101 Northwest Freeway [Hwy. 290], Suite 101, Houston 77040; Southwest, 6464 Savoy Drive, Suite 110, Houston 77036; Southeast, 11550 Fuqua St., 3rd floor, Houston 77036)

Mobile outreach teams are also available to serve home-bound residents and others.

Please see the info flyer.

Mayor Sylvester Turner opened the Northeast center on Monday, encouraging community members to be ambassadors for the recovery effort to ensure that no eligible homeowner is left out.

The mayor told people in the packed room, “Our goal is to reach and serve as many of the affected homeowners as possible, especially those who are hardest to reach – our disadvantaged, senior citizens, those with limited English proficiency and those with special needs. We will not leave anyone behind.”

On the importance of taking the Harvey Recovery Survey, the mayor continued, “No one wants another delay in the process. The survey will help us understand each homeowner’s situation better and determine which program they may be eligible for.”

Tom McCasland, director of the City Housing and Community Development Department, emphasized that the city has moved quickly to ensure recovery was launched as soon as federal funds became available. McCasland said, “The contract for the money was signed on the 4 th , today is the 14 th – it’s 10 days later and we’re rolling out programs.”

The city will receive the $1.17 billion for housing recovery through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Texas General Land Office.

The recovery funds include the Homeowner Assistance Program, which offers five program options including: 1) reimbursement for completed repairs, 2) homeowner-managed rehabilitation, 3) city-managed rehabilitation and reconstruction, 4) buyouts, and 5) interim mortgage assistance.

While priority will be given to low- and moderate-income homeowners, assistance is available to homeowners of all income levels.

To schedule a mobile outreach team, or for any additional information, please visit https://recovery.houstontx.gov or call the Harvey recovery hotline number 832-393-0550, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Housing Resource Centers hours of operation are:

  • Mondays – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Wednesdays – Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.