AUSTIN – For most Americans, Texas conjures images of gun-toting vaqueros, cowboys wielding six-shooters and epic battles over independence and secession. Gun manufacturers Colt, Mossberg and Magpul call the Lone Star State home, and a concealed carry license grants you a fast-pass into the state Capitol.
CONROE – This year’s Light of Hope Foster Care Legacy Award will go to Michael Gundling at the Montgomery County Light Up the Night Gala event on New Year’s Eve, benefiting children in Child Protective Services. The celebration will be held from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday at La Torretta Resort and Spa in Montgomery. Gundling, 24, was adopted by a Caucasian family who lived in Friendswood, outside of Houston. “I was in foster care for five years,” said Gundling who was adopted in 1995. Currently, he is a youth and college minister at South Plains Church near Lubbock. “My two brothers and I were the first African Americans to be adopted by Caucasians through the state of Texas,” Gundling said. Gundling will receive the Foster Care Legacy Award for his accomplishments since being in the foster care system. “We were always in church,” said Gundling who felt called into ministry after going on a mission trip to Mexico. He graduated from high school after being homeschooled and left home to attend Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, where he graduated in 2012. Other Light of Hope Award recipients include TreeTop Entertainment; Conroe Mayor Webb Melder and the city of Conroe; Jim and Madge Fletcher, and Texas Children’s Justice Act Task Force board member Irene Clements. The formal event will include dinner and a show by magician and illusionist Eric Anderson, a casino with live music, fireworks at midnight, dancing until 2 a.m. and breakfast tacos after midnight.
DALLAS – A Planned Parenthood in Dallas has built an 8-foot concrete wall around the clinic to stop pro-life protesters who have been speaking against the abortion clinic on a regular basis. Rev. Stephen Broden, one of the leading voices against Planned Parenthood, has urged other pro-life activists to keep speaking out about the clinic.
DALLAS – As Texas retailers see a stream of shoppers checking items off their Christmas lists, lower gasoline prices and a growing state economy are among factors fueling forecasts that consumers here are spending more this holiday season. “We are expecting a good, strong season,” said Ronnie Volkening, president of the Texas Retailers Association, who said he expects the state to do even better than the upbeat national prediction. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is forecasting sales nationwide to rise 4.1 percent for the holiday season — November and December. That’s higher than last year’s 3.1 percent increase for the same time period. Volkening said he expects Texas, with its strong economy, to see an even better percentage increase, possibly a rise of 5 percent to 6 percent over last year. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts said that as of October, the latest month available, the state has had 56 consecutive months of increased sales tax revenues. For November 2013, Texas had sales tax revenue of about $2.3 billion, up about 4 percent from the year before. In December 2013, Texas had sales tax revenues of $2.3 billion, up 8.3 percent from the year before.
GALVESTON – County commissioners threw down a gauntlet Tuesday, voting to end a contract allowing the city of Galveston to house municipal prisoners in the county jail. Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to end the contract in June 2015. The agreement specifies that either side must give 180 days notice before officially ending the agreement.
LEAGUE CITY – A new sports stadium, additional high school gyms and a state-of-the-art remodel of Clear Creek High School are all in the works for Clear Creek Independent School District as part of a $367 million package of renovations and upgrades that will help the district keep up with the flood of new students enrolling. The school district has grown faster than anticipated, with 700 new students joining in 2014 and nearly 700 new homes built and closed on in the second quarter of 2014. The Mar Bella subdivision, near Mossman Elementary School, and the Hidden Lakes subdivision, close to Goforth Elementary School, are growing the fastest, a district demographic report found.
NAVASOTA – Tren’Davian Dickson caught two of his four touchdown passes in overtime, and Navasota beat Argyle 42-35 to win the Class 4A Division I championship at AT&T Stadium. Dickson, a junior who already has orally committed to ply at Baylor, extended his national record to 39 touchdown catches this season. Shelton Eppler established aTexas seasonr ecord of 71 touchdowns passes with his four to Dickson. The Rattlers finished the season undefeated at 16-0.
PORT ARTHUR – Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton has publicly voice his opposition to swelling legislative momentum allowing members of the general public to carry firearms. The chief fears the city, which has a higher Black population than any other ethnic demographic in the city, will have a heavy burden placed on its police officers when citizens start calling in reports of person they see carrying weapons. At least six bills have been filed in the Texas legislature that would allow Texans to openly carry handguns, and Greg Abbott, the incoming governor has already promised his support for the measures.
SAN ANTONIO – Black San Antonio mayor, Ivy Taylor recently held a news conference asking for a “truce” between the city and unions representing fire fighters and law enforcement officers. The city had filed a lawsuit against the unions over collective bargaining, at about the same time the unions began running ads denouncing the cities overpaid”bureaucrats”. Mayor Taylor was appointed in July of this year to replace former Mayor Juian Castro, who joined the cabinet of President Barack Obama.
SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Public Library and Carver Community Cultural Center officials have invited Democratic political strategist, professor and columnist Donna Brazile to kick off Black History Month on January 22 at 7:15 p.m. at the Carver’s Jo Long Theatre. The event is free but guests will need to reserve a ticket at http://donnab.brownpapertickets.com/
TYLER – After an extensive search and hours of going through applications, the City of Tyler decided to hire Edward Broussard as the new city manager. Broussard is an ICMA credentialed manager with more than 19 years of local government experience and currently serves as the city manager of Missouri City, Texas. He served as city manager of Hutto, Texas from 2005-2011, city manager of Navasota, Texas from 2001-2005, assistant city manager of Woodway, Texas from 2000 to 2001, assistant to the city manager of College Station, Texas from 1997 to 2000, and as a management assistant for the Lubbock City-County Library from 1996 to 1997. Broussard also served as an administrative intern for the City of Lubbock Human Resources Department from 1995 to 1996. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Texas Tech University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Texas A&M University. City Council members said it was a very long process that took months. They hired a professional firm that specialized in city manager searches. Mayor Martin Heines said Broussard was a standout when they narrowed the applicants from 50 to 13. Broussard will start Feb. 9, 2105.
Susan Guthrie will remain interim city manager until then.
WALLER – Incoming Waller County leaders are pledging more transparency in the wake of a jury’s verdict that sitting county commissioners illegally discussed a contentious landfill project in closed-door sessions and in private with the project’s developer. Duhon was one of three landfill opponents elected to the commissioners court in November – elections that followed victories by two other landfill opponents in 2012, John Amsler and Jeron Barnett. Come January, landfill opponents will have a majority on the commissioners court. While the outgoing county judge and commissioners maintained they had little choice but to agree to host the 250-acre landfill just outside the city of Hempstead, a county jury found after a three-week trial that the panel’s majority had violated the state’s Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act on multiple occasions. Incoming commissioners say they plan not only to step up the fight against the landfill but to change the way that the county does business.
WACO – It has taken eight years to get the bronze longhorns rounded up for their approach to the Waco Suspension Bridge, but the last two of 25 longhorn cattle and a Black cowboy took their places Tuesday at the end of their Indian Spring Park herd, completing the “Branding the Brazos” sculpture project.