Live from Austin, Casey Christman, chief of staff for state Rep. Dan Huberty, reported on the status of a bill that would continue dredging of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston. Photo by Tom Broad

A million Texans are betting an estimated $5 billion a year — illegally — and Texas state Rep. Dan Huberty has introduced House Resolution 97 to capture some of that revenue.

Huberty’s Chief of Staff Casey Christman outlined the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering at Partnership Lake Houston’s Humble BizCom held virtually May 6.

Revenue from sports betting could bring in as much as $180 million in its first year that could grow to as much as $400 million, according to Huberty’s estimate. Sports betting would create new jobs and help Texas properly fund critical programs such as education, health care or tax relief.

Christman, who spoke from Austin, also summarized another Huberty bill, House Bill 2525, to manage the dredging of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston by creating the Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District. It would be charged with the sole purpose of coordinating the numerous mitigation projects currently underway along the San Jacinto River and into Lake Houston to prevent future flooding.

“The district would have the authority to issue bonds and provide the authority to impose assessments and fees to continue all of the dredging efforts,” she said.

The bill and the resolution are among 26 introduced by Huberty this session. HB 2525 and HR 97 now go to the house floor for debate.

Also speaking at Humble BizCom was Archway Properties Partner Ben Allen who teased that the massive, but empty, half-million square foot warehouse, recently built at Park Air 59 at Interstate 69 north of Will Clayton Parkway in Humble, will not be empty much longer.

“We’re negotiating with a major e-commerce company, I can’t say who,” Allen said. “It is not the e-commerce company, however, that we all think about when discussing e-commerce. We hope to make an announcement in a few weeks.”

The warehouse is the first 40-foot cleared half-million square foot warehouse built in Houston, Allen said. Million-square foot warehouses are now planned as businesses switch from brick and mortar to e-commerce.

Park Air 59 was built as an industrial site, but Archway Properties discovered that the location lent itself to retail, so the company adjusted its plans, according to Allen, and brought in Rooms To Go Outlet, Floor and Décor, Northern Tool and Equipment, Paul Davis Restoration and Vital Heart and Vein Cardiology.

“The tax revenue generated by half-million square foot warehouse will go to the city of Humble where it is located,” Allen said.

That was good news for Humble Mayor Norman Funderburk who took the oath of office May 13, succeeding Merle Aaron, who chose not to run for reelection.

“I am ready to get started,” Funderburk said at BizCom, “and ready to make a positive difference.”

Funderburk said he will continue the momentum established during the Aaron administration. He noted the exceptionalism of Humble including the quality of life, the quick response of first responders — less than five minutes, the low property tax and water rates, and the numerous amenities including parks and a performing arts center.

“We just about have it all,” Funderburk said in closing, “Humble Strong and Humble Proud.”

Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe expanded on Humble’s numerous amenities outlining the city’s efforts to “refresh” the city parks.

Hirsch Memorial Park near downtown Humble is sporting new playground equipment, a new filtration system for the pool and landscaping, according to Stuebe. Schott Park, across from the Humble Civic Center at Will Clayton Parkway, will get new playground equipment and a canopy system. Improvements are also planned for Timberwood Park near Rankin Road and Highway 59.

Speaking on behalf of the city of Humble was newly appointed Chief of Police Ken Theis, who praised the department’s successful recruitment program.

“You’ll probably notice two officers in each patrol car,” Theis said, “because our new officers are undergoing training. This was an excellent group that we recruited.”

Theis also praised his department’s recent effort to rid the area of child predators with the cooperation of the office of Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen, the Harris County Sheriff’s office and numerous other law enforcement agencies.

“This was a very successful operation and we were able to get a number of predators off our streets,” he said.

Theis also briefly mentioned a new license plate reading system that is being installed for his department and his department’s efforts to suppress the multitude of catalytic converter thefts in the area.

“These are difficult to prosecute because there is no way to track a stolen converter once it is out of the auto,” he said. “We have to catch them in the act. One solution is video surveillance.”

BizCom viewers got a virtual tour of Humble High School’s new look when renovation is complete. Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen said Humble High students were thrilled when they viewed the “tour” which included animated renderings of the cafeteria, library, performing arts theater, competition gym and new cosmetology building.

Behind the cosmetology building, Fagen revealed that Memorial Hermann will have a community clinic for Humble High students.

“On the first day of school this fall, though, I want to be at Lakeland Elementary. I am so excited to watch the students enter for the first time,” she said.

The district’s oldest school is being rebuilt behind Turner Stadium and will resemble a tree house with a blend of airplane, arctic, dinosaur, marine, space and zoo themes, like a children’s museum.

North Belt Elementary also is being rebuilt from funds saved when other bond projects came in below estimates. North Belt will have a lodge-type design and will include outdoor teaching areas and a pilot virtual learning studio for teachers who are teaching virtually.

“We have had zero discipline problems at our Centennial Elementary School because the students are so engaged,” Fagen said. “Both Lakeland and North Belt follow the same design concepts of Centennial.”

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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