League City thriving as it grows bigger and bigger

May 1st, 2015

TLEntryBy Mary Alys Cherry

Back 35 years ago, one might have described League City as a “one-horse town.”

Not anymore.

Today it is a bustling city of nearly 100,000 residents that will probably grow to 200,000 in the next 35 years.

“As a community, we are thriving – our economy is growing, development is returning to pre-recession levels, and League City continues to succeed,” Mayor Tim Paulissen said as he addressed a recent League City Regional Chamber luncheon.

“We’ve seen great change in League City in the past few years, and certainly in recent months,” he continued as he reviewed some of the changes.

Over the last two years, he said, “we saw 2,058 new single-family homes built in League City.” And, there’s still potential in the development of the west side of town, he continued, pointing out the great things that have happened throughout the year with the new retail center near Countryside, the development of the Westwood neighborhood and some renewed interests in the southwest planned unit developments. And, that’s not all.

“There are plenty of exciting things still happening on the east side, too,” the mayor told the crowd.

“There new $74 million Methodist Retirement Communities development along FM 270 is nearly complete, and a small industrial park center has made a permanent setup on FM 646.”

In addition to neighborhoods like Marbella continuing to expand, he noted that “the city also is seeing an upswing in commercial and retail development that recognizes the upscale, well-educated, profession and family-oriented people who are choosing to live in League City.

“As our founders intended, the promise of Main Street has broadened to a community wide vibrancy and vitality. The new HEB store at South Shore Boulevard and State Highway 96 is. . .open for business, and. . .Kroger plans to build its fourth location in League City on the west side.”

Plus, there’s “intriguing possibilities” on the west side between Big League Dreams and the retail development at FM 646, he added.

Mayor Tim Paulissen

League City Mayor Tim Paulissen

The city is prepared, he said, for the growth, taking a smart, proactive approach to investing in the city’s infrastructure. “It’s the backbone of the community, the foundation on which our homes, safety and convenience rest and rely.”

Going on to mention several additions to the city’s lifestyle such as the WaterSmart Park and the new pool at Hometown Heroes Park, a new fire training facility, the Helen Hall Library renovation and street improvements, Paulissen turned to life’s basic needs. “For too many years, we neglected our water supply. (Now) we’ve taken steps to increase our daily peak water supply by more than nine million gallons a day And, we’re on track to add another 20 percent…to 36 million gallons daily in the next year . . . an increase of 70 percent in four years – while being able to raise the homestead exemption from 12 to 14 percent.

“As we continue to grow and develop, it is up to all of us to stay dedicated to making our community all it can be,” he added.

Seabrook residents warned about alligators

April 28th, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-78783539The City of Seabrook has been receiving several reports of alligator sightings in and around the Pine Gully Channel and tells residents it is important to remember not to panic when you see an alligator. And unless you feel you are in immediate danger, then there is no need to report it to local authorities.

If you see an alligator, the city suggests:

  • NEVER feed an alligator. Feeding an alligator is a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by a fine up to $500.
  • Always keep your pets on a short leash and under your control. Alligators may see your pet as an easy food source. Alligators have a keen sense of smell.
  • If you hear an alligator “hiss,” it is a warning sign that you are too close.
  • If you have a close encounter with an alligator, back away slowly. Alligators have a natural fear of humans and typically will quickly retreat when approached.
  • Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic. Alligators are quick and agile and will defend themselves if cornered. They can run up to 35-miles per hour for short distances on land.
  • If you see an alligator in the roadway, DO NOT attempt to move it. Notify the City of Seabrook by calling 281-291-5610.
  • Do not swim in the water if you see an alligator.
  • Alligators like to bask along the banks of ponds and streams in order to warm their bodies. Often times a basking alligator may be seen with its mouth open; this is a way to cool its body temperature down. Do not approach a basking alligator.
  • Alligators that leave the banks of rivers and streams to spend time near homes, livestock or other structured areas are considered “nuisance alligators” and Texas Parks and Wildlife should be contacted by calling 281-842-8100.
  • Alligators that leave the water and approach people directly are also considered “nuisance alligators” and should be immediately reported to TPWD.
  • If an alligator is not approaching people or posing an obvious threat, wait a few days or even up to a week before reporting it to TPWD. In the spring and summer months, alligators tend to move around for breeding purposes and are simply looking for a new habitat.

City officials explained that residents could learn more about alligators and other Seabrook wildlife on the Seabrook website, www.seabrooktx.gov/wildlife.

Keels & Wheels Celebrates 20th Anniversary

April 1st, 2015

1954 Mercedes 220A Cabriolet - owner Ray Bruck

1954 Mercedes 220A Cabriolet – owner Ray Bruck

In 1995 Bob Fuller and Paul Merryman, both members of Lakewood Yacht Club, launched what became the first of many annual Keels & Wheels events. The antique automobile and vintage boat show took place at the yacht club one weekend in May and benefitted the Leukemia Society. That first year, Keels & Wheels saw approximately 100 car and 35 boat exhibitors, welcomed close to 2,500 guests and donated $2,000 to the charity.

Today, Keels & Wheels is set to host their 20th annual event May 2-3, 2015. Due to the rate at which the event has progressed, participation is now exclusive, as only 200 cars and 100 boats are selected among thousands of entries. Each year, spectators and exhibitors from all over America and Europe gather at Lakewood Yacht Club to experience the competition that has established itself among the nation’s top concours events. To date, Keels & Wheels has donated over $1.4 million to partnering charities. Lincoln Motor Company and the City of Seabrook will return this year as title sponsors.

This year’s event will again benefit the Boys & Girls Harbor, which seeks to provide healthy, comprehensive care for children and families in crisis. Thanks to Keels & Wheels donations, many less fortunate families and children are impacted by the show’s contributions.

1961 Ferrari 250 GTE - owner Bob Weiner

1961 Ferrari 250 GTE – owner Bob Weiner

In addition, many small businesses and individuals have benefitted from Keels & Wheels. The event is responsible for contributing over $3.5 million each year to the local economy, while simultaneously raising national awareness of Seabrook. Keels & Wheels has helped the community to stay afloat following damages from several hurricanes and other economic hindrances.

Since the conception of Keels & Wheels in 1995, it strives to create new, exciting and unforgettable experiences for attendees. This year, Dennis Gage, host of Velocity’s “My Classic Car” will serve as the 2015 Grand Marshal.  The show will be filming an episode at the Keels & Wheels event throughout the weekend of May 2-3.

Attendees will have a chance to win exceptional prizes from raffles during the event. The features for the 20th Annual Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance include the marques of Packard and Mustang for automobiles and Garwood and Hacker for boat classics. In honor of the 20th Anniversary, Keels & Wheels has invited the “Best of the Best” show winners from years past to display their automobiles and boats.

Over the years, Fuller and Merryman, as well as hundreds of Lakewood members, have put in a tremendous effort to produce this unique event. Keels & Wheels has become a nationally acclaimed show which attempts to help its community and share its success with its charities. Moreover, Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance exemplifies the possibilities that can come of a dream or a vision intertwined with passion.

2 arrested in 33 storage burglaries in League City

March 13th, 2015

2013-08-15_1Two arrests have been made in a crime series investigation that began in November 2014 and included 33 storage unit burglaries at seven different League City locations.

In addition, League City Police Detectives were able to recover and return over $43,000 of property to the rightful owners.

In December 2014, League City Police took 15 storage unit burglary reports at a self-storage located in the 1200 block of East FM 518. Investigations led to the arrest of Paul Mathew Lange. Lange was arrested for felony and misdemeanor theft charges stemming from these reported burglaries.

In February 2015, the Department received reports of more storage unit burglaries. A lengthy investigation by League City Police Detective Tisdale led to the subsequent arrest of Paul Mathew Lange and Ronald David Hooker Jr. Charges and bond amounts are found below:

Paul Mathew Lange (32, Bacliff)
(5) Theft, State Jail Felony, bond totals $380,000
(1) Theft, Felony 3, bond $80,000
(3) Theft, Class A Misdemeanor, bond totals $7,500
(1) Theft, Class B Misdemeanor, bond $1,500
Ronald David Hooker Jr. (40, League City)
(2) Burglary of a Building, bond totals $160,000
(1) Theft, State Jail Felony, bond $80,000
(1) Theft, Felony 3, bond $80,000

The League City Police Department advises our citizens to consider the following when choosing a storage facility:

· Insurance – Most storage facilities will not cover your losses if burglarized.
· Alarms – Check to see if the facility you are talking to has installed alarms on every door in their facility. This gives them the ability to know the exact time of day that every storage unit is accessed. To de-activate the alarm on a unit, the customer keys in their personal passcode. If an unauthorized entry occurs, the alarm will sound and immediately identify which unit has been entered.
· Cameras – Most facilities these days have at least a few video cameras on location. Make sure that the facility you use has more than just a few cameras, and that they are covering as much of the property as possible. Finally, ensure the cameras are digitally recording the video 24 hours a day.
· Ask Questions – Ask each storage facility if they allow their customers to use padlocks or if they are using the newer generation “cylinder locks” which have no exposed hasp to be cut by bolt cutters. Asking questions regarding these matters will tell you a lot about each facility’s commitment to your peace of mind. If your questions are not answered sufficiently, you may be better off looking elsewhere.

Luigi’s offers Bay Area link to Italian countryside

March 1st, 2015

luigifireBy Akshaya Iyer

Friendly faced and bursting with the magic that a good chef always seems to possess, Antonio Marco embodies old world charm. Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta is the inanimate recreation of those traits; quiet, pleasant, small enough to be cozy, with classic Italian music crooning in the background. This restaurant is his love child with Italy and America and it shows.

Marco was born in Calabria, Italy along with his six brothers and three sisters. Marco’s family’s love for food was apparent in every aspect of their life, the groundwork of their familial ties. This passion translated easily to cooking. “I grew up in the kitchens of Italy,” Marco says fondly of his upbringing.

His family was larger than life, as were their dreams. His grandfather, Luigi, moved to the States in 1977 with the dream of starting a restaurant, and more than two decades later, Marco followed in his footsteps, arriving in America, with his wife, Elca, in 2001 with a dream and an idea.

Marco began working under his uncle, at first. It took a few years before he approached aforementioned uncle, Luigi Jr., with the idea of starting his own place. Luigi Jr. agreed, under one condition.

“He didn’t trust me yet to give me the Luigi name,” Marco explains with a laugh; and so Verona Pizza and Italian restaurant came into existence, in Decatur, Texas. The business flourished, the food and wine flowed effortlessly, and soon, Marco was allowed the Luigi name.

“We own locations in Alvin, Conroe, and Angleton to name a few,” Marco reveals about he and his business partner and brother, Nick. Their current League City location has been open for a brief amount of time and they’ve already drawn in a loyal crowd of regulars. His lunch specials are revered by his customers; 15 options for just under $6, and the meal comes with the option of a salad or soup.

Marco discloses that he misses the creative freedom that a restaurant in Italy allows. “There is no menu in Italy,” he describes. “Every day there is something different. About four to five choices. It’s like a family meal.”

But Marco allows his Italian upbringing and ideology to translate into Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta. Appearing horrified at the idea of frozen ingredients and pre-made sauces, he confirms that all his recipes are homemade and straight from the kitchens of Calabria.

Freshly rolled out pasta, original, tangy sauce, and a hearty homemade dough are a few of his specialties. He takes pride in his Italian sausage, carefully marinated in vodka sauce and cooked with olive oil and chicken, his special alla panna sauce, which is a delightful combination of alfredo and marinara, and his veal marsala, playfully simmered with mushrooms and wine sauce. The Tiramisu, a delectable Italian coffee-flavored treat, is homemade and one bite takes you straight to the Italian countryside.

When questioned about his inspiration behind his delicious food and fantastic service, he pauses and replies with a smile, “I just want to cook.”

Luigi’s Pizza and Pasta is open from Monday to Thursday from 11 to 9 and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and is located at 210 S. Highway 3, Suite C, in League City. Reservations are not necessary.

Keith Gross wins League City council race

December 17th, 2014

League City candidate Keith Gross won the race for the Position 6 City Council seat Dec. 16 with 57.99 percent of the votes, as opposed to candidate Jason Long, with 42.01 percent  of the votes.

The runoff election unofficial vote tabulation is now available at www.leaguecity.com/runoff2014

The votes will be canvassed during a special council meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, in the League City Council Chambers at 200 W. Walker St.. The meeting will also be streamed live on leaguecity.com and broadcast live on LCTV-16 on Comcast cable. After the canvassing, the new councilman will be sworn in. Gross will participate in his first council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

League City previously welcomed two new council members in the November 2014 election — Tommy Cones, who won the Position 2 seat, and Nick Long, the Position 7 seat.

Remembering ‘Mr. Clear Lake’

September 1st, 2014

Gulf Winds 4-23-09 041By Mary Alys Cherry

Charlie Whynot, a congenial man who helped shape the face of the Clear Lake area and was lovingly known as “Mr. Clear Lake” died July 27. He was 88.

The Beaumont native and World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge was instrumental in developing Nassau Bay and Clear Lake City into thriving communities; plus many area properties.

He founded Space City Realtors in Clear Lake after he and his wife, Billie, and five children moved to Clear Lake from Beaumont, where they owned a successful furniture business. It was his love of the space program that led him to move here and one of his most thrilling moments was witnessing the launch of Apollo 11. Later, he founded Allied Commercial Investments, which he still served as president at the time of his death.

Well known Bay Area lawyer Ron Krist offers a look back at his long-time friend.

“Charles Whynot was a man of his word,” Krist said. “He was a very good business man and a loyal friend.”

They both came to Clear Lake about the same time. “When I first moved to the Clear Lake area, I had three preschool age children and very little money. I had an embarrassing office located in the strip center on the corner of NASA Road 1 and El Camino Real. Charlie’s real estate office was located in the same center (where Frenchies is currently located).

“Charlie had a copy machine, whereas I could not afford one. I made my first of many deals with Charlie, whereby he allowed me to use his machine at so much per page — I can’t remember the exact amount but I believe it was 1 cent per page. This was the beginning of a long friendship.

“I bought several pieces of real estate from Charlie, including the lot on which the Krist Samaritan Center is currently located. We jointly invested in other undertakings, including the purchase of a local bank. I bought two houses from him, as well.”

Charlie, he added, “will be missed by many and forgotten by very few.”

He was a charter member of Space Center Rotary and helped organize what is today the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 65 years, Billie; and two daughters, Susie Overton and Connie Whynot; and survived by his daughter, Deanie Whynot; sons Stephen Whynot and Mike Whynot and his wife, Teri; daughter-in-law, Kimberly Whynot; and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held at Bay Area Baptist Church in League City with burial at Forest Park East Cemetery.

Bay Area cities get new mayors

June 1st, 2014

By Mary Alys Cherry

Mayor Tom Reid

Mayor Tom ReiBy Mary Alys Cherry

The votes have been tallied, and three Bay Area cities have new mayors – Webster, Shoreacres and Galveston – while Pearland Mayor Tom Reid was re-elected for the umpteenth time, snaring almost 70 percent of the vote.

Reid, who has been mayor of the Brazoria County’s largest city for 30 years, won over 12-year city council veteran Woody Owens with 2,273 votes (69.4 percent) to Owens’ 1,000 votes (30.5 percent).

Another familiar face is Jim Yarbrough, who was elected mayor of Galveston with 3,251 votes and 59 percent of the vote. The former long-time Galveston county judge won out over Elizabeth Beeton, who had 1,358 votes (24 percent); Don Mafringe’s 882 votes (16 percent); and Raymond Guzman’s 66 votes (1 percent).

Donna Rogers, a former mayor of Webster, is the new mayor of that city, defeating Tracy Bush 172-17. Besides being mayor, she also served on the city council. She will replace long-time Mayor Floyd Myers, who is term limited.

In Shoreacres, the voters picked Mayor Pro-tem Rick Moses to be their new mayor. He had 168 votes to Ron Hoskins’ 52.
Several cities did not hold elections as candidates had no competition. Among them were Clear Lake Shores, Dickinson, Friendswood, Nassau Bay, Seabrook and Taylor Lake Village.

Baytown, League City and Pasadena elections are in the fall.

Mayor Rick Moses

Mayor Rick Moses

School district elections

Clear Creek ISD District 2 voters re-elected School Board Vice President Win Weber over Nick Long 407-336 with the Nassau Bay attorney and municipal judge getting 54.78 percent of the vote to Long’s 45.22 percent.

Pearland ISD voters cast 1,324 ballots or 54 percent for Rusty DeBorde in the Position 2 race with Suzanne Johnson, who got 1,111 or 46 percent. In the Position 1 race, Charles Gooden Jr., got 54 percent of the vote to Jeff Jeffress’ 37 percent and Trevor Hale’s 8 percent.

Meanwhile, Dickinson ISD voters passed a $56 million bond proposal to build an elementary and an intermediate school and elected Veanna Veasey (140 votes) over Leo Rudd (10 votes) in the District 2 trustee race while La Porte voters OK’d a $260 million bond proposal for a laundry list of school improvements.

In the Clear Lake City Water Authority election, residents turned out to cast nearly 3,500 votes and elect Gordon Johnson (1,298 votes), and Thomas Morrow, (1,299 votes), to the CLCWA Board. Other candidates’ vote totals were Steve Baxter, 416; Tim Daggett, 337; and M.G. Spaniel, 127.

Mayor Donna Rogers

Mayor Donna Rogers

City council races

The Webster city council race for the Position 6 seat held by Bill Jones is headed for a June 17 runoff between Martin Graves (60 votes) and a former councilman, Steve Waltz (56 votes).  Kaz Hamidian got 53 votes and Bill Jones, 38.

All three Kemah incumbents were re-elected as Rhonda Trevino with 156 votes beat Teresa Vasquez Evans’ 138 votes to take 53.1 percent of the Position 1 vote while Carl Joiner beat Mikal Williams 167-116 to take 59.6 percent of the vote in the Position 3 race. Steve Mewborn retained his Position 5 seat by getting 177 votes or 61 percent to Michelle Cochran’s 113.
El Lago Councilman Jeff Tave was re-elected to Position 5 by defeating Clyde Mayhew 93-69.

Deer Park Position 4 Councilman Bill Patterson was re-elected over John Janatasch 635-212, and in the Position 5 race, Ron Martin had 540 votes to Shelley Stokes’ 337.

Shoreacres residents elected Mike Wheeler (97 votes) and Richard Adams (139 ballots) as aldermen.  Candidates Neil Moyer had 81 votes while Paul Croas had 66.

In the Texas City District 1 race, Thelma Bowie (304 votes) won with 90.1 percent of the vote as Johnny Howell received 33 votes.

Six Galveston council seats were up for grabs in the May 10 election with some incumbents winning and some not so lucky.
In District 1 incumbent Cornelia Banks with 37.3 percent of the vote was forced into a runoff with Tarris Woods, who had 47 percent while Ronald Dean had 16 percent. Craig Brown was the winner of the District 2 race with 58 percent of the vote to Susan Fennewald’s 17 percent and Richard Batie’s 25 percent.

Mayor Jim Yarbrough

Mayor Jim Yarbrough

The District 3 winner was Ralph McMorris, who got 52 percent to Kate Marx’s 48 percent. Incumbent Norman Pappous emerged the victor in the District 4 race with 59 percent of the vote while his opponent, David Hoover, had 41 percent.
Incumbent Terrilyn Tarlton walked off with 71 percent of the vote in the District 5 council race with opponents William Quiroga getting 5 percent and Diana Gonzalez Bertini receiving 24 percent.

In Galveston’s District 6 race, the incumbent, Marie Robb, received 31 percent of the vote, while Carolyn Sunseri won the seat with 69 percent of the vote.