Corbett Howard: Why do we need another “Damp” election?

Why do we need another “Damp” election?

On May 11, 2004 the citizens of Celina voted by a slim margin for “the legal sale of beer and wine for off premise consumption only” and by a little larger margin, but close vote for “the legal sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders only.”
The primary goal of that election was to secure the Brookshires grocery store and that goal was achieved, and today we enjoy a great hometown store. The sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption is about retail sale of beer and wine whether that is sold by a Grocery chain, Mass Merchandisers like Target or Convenience Stores.

Let’s fast forward to November 2009, and the adoption of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan “Celina by Choice” by the City Council. The future land use map in the plan exposed the shortcoming of 90 to 95 percent of future retail; commercial development for Celina that is outside of the wet/dry option corporate boundary voted on in 2004.

Why are we holding a new wet/dry (Damp) election? There are several economic development and competitive reasons to address, but the simplest reason is the present wet/dry map shows a retail opportunity for only about 1,000 acres of area in Celina, and the Celina corporate limits have grown an approximate additional 10,000 acres since 2004. These additional acres give Celina strategic locations on the Preston Road and Dallas North Tollway corridors as well as annexed areas on the Collin County Outer loop and on the final DNT route.

The economic development reasons for updating our option area are the tax base expansion for the City of Celina and the CISD. Tax base expansion allows increased services for both entities without adding increased property taxes. Retail development adds sales tax revenue that directly funds our parks and open spaces and creates incentive for commercial and employment centers.

The competitive reason for the updated election is to have our boundary with Prosper and Denton County competitive. Both of these entities are 100 percent optioned for wet/dry, and this creates a real economic disadvantage to us.

The last answer is to the question what does “Damp” election mean? It is the positive connotation to a wet/dry election. In Celina, we won’t ever tolerate the existence of liquor stores or beer barns, nor should we. We understand development of solid retail and commercial ventures and that is what this election is all about.
Thank you

Corbett Howard
Executive Director
Celina Economic Development Corporation

TxDOT makes it easier to report problems on highways

By KEN PAXTON
State Representative
Capitol Steps

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) launched a new reporting system this week that makes it easier and faster for Texans to report maintenance issues on Texas highways.
The new, more efficient system also gives citizens a better opportunity to be a part of the maintenance solution by providing several million additional pairs of eyes to help TxDOT crews identify problems and preserve the State’s expansive transportation infrastructure.
TxDOT’s newly launched “Report a Pothole” initiative is available online at http://www.txdot.gov or the toll-free number at 888.885.8248.
With just a click of a mouse or a quick phone call, citizens can report a pothole, including the location of the damage.
Operators will answer phone lines from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evening and weekend calls will go to voicemail and be returned the next morning or on the first working day of the following week. Please report any problems to help keep our state roads safe.
Attorney Ken Paxton represents Collin County in the State House.

Collin County Regional Airport approved for grant

During its regular meeting on Sept. 30, the Texas Transportation Commission approved a $120,000 grant to Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney to update its Airport Layout Plan.
The plan is part of the overall master development plans and is used extensively by the airport, state and federal officials to plan future infrastructure and facilities development at the airport that may require federal and state financial assistance.
The current Airport Layout Plan, which was developed during a master plan study in 2004, included the new runway that is presently under construction and is scheduled to be complete in late 2012.
Completion of the runway project will signal completion of the current Airport Layout Plan and an aggressive $71 million capital program. At the same time, it will mark the beginning of a new plan designed to outline and guide airport expansion throughout the next decade.
“The plan will chart an exciting new course for airport operations and development that will benefit the residents of Collin County and its jurisdictions,” said John W. Wroten, Jr., Chairman of the McKinney Airport Development Corporation (MADC).
MADC has completed three taxilanes designed to allow aircraft access to hangar areas, rehabilitated the current runway and taxiway, extended its perimeter access road, expanded its fuel farm capacity to accommodate new users, installed and improved utilities serving the airport, is constructing a new Airport Traffic Control Tower and runway that is designed to accommodate commercial aircraft.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation will fund $108,000 and the McKinney Airport Development Corporation will fund a matching share of $12,000 or 10 percent of the total grant, which is also the estimated project cost.

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County Judge: $900M not chump change

Collin County could lose $900 million during the next legislative session. That’s right, $900 million, almost a BILLION dollars. To put this in perspective, that equates to $1,125 for every man, woman, and child in Collin County today, or $4,500 for a family of four.
The state will face a huge budget shortfall next year. Some believe that it could be as large as $20 billion. In addition to budget cuts, legislators will be looking for every possible source of funding to fill that gaping hole in their budget.
There is $3.2 billion in a bank account in Austin, funds that the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) paid the North Texas region for the right to build the Sam Rayburn Tollway. About $900 million belongs to Collin County, and represents funding for massive transportation infrastructure improvements to support our burgeoning population.
That $3.2 billion belongs to the taxpayers of North Texas and every dollar is allocated to various transportation projects across the region by both the Regional Transportation Council and the Texas Transportation Commission.
However, the $3.2 billion is currently considered state funds.
It will be a travesty if the legislature takes the region’s $3.2 billion as a quick fix to help fill the shortfall in the state budget.
The $900 million dollars allocated to Collin County projects is not free money; it is a portion of the tolls that you will pay on the Sam Rayburn Tollway for the next several decades. If the state sweeps those funds into the state budget to help fill the shortfall, you will continue to pay tolls on the Sam Rayburn, but will have no additional transportation projects funded with your tolls. The funds will just be gone. Your family of four will just pay an additional $4,500 in state taxes.
I believe that your North Texas elected officials are united in our goal to protect those funds for their intended purpose — the transportation infrastructure of Collin County and the North Texas region. No legislator from across the state has come out and openly advocated sweeping our funds into the state budget, but you know that when the pressure is on, that $3.2 billion will be a tempting target. And there are more legislators from outside the Metroplex than there are here in the North Texas Region.
$900 million is not chump change to either Collin County or the state. They know it, and we know it.
Keith Self
County Judge
Collin County

Smiles Charity helps Operation Finally Home

By Karen Holden

Smiles Charity officially began its fund-raising drive for 2011 on Thursday at a ceremony in downtown McKinney.
Hosted by Rick’s Chophouse, the Smiles Charity kick-off ceremony officially announced the charity’s name change and new mission.
“In order to better serve a broader base of beneficiaries, a name change was necessary,” said Smiles Charity founder Dr. Jennifer Buchanan. “Our goal is to raise money to build homes for deserving families who are struggling with adversity. There are families in need of affordable housing and for three years, Smiles Charity has raised money to build homes through the North Collin County Habitat for Humanity.”
“Sadly, an increasing form of adversity is life-long disability that thousands of veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home to deal with,” she said. “Smiles Charity is proud to announce that in 2011, our Smiles Charity concert will raise money to build two homes for two severely wounded war veterans and their families.”
Smiles Charity will donate its net proceeds in 2011 to Operation Finally Home, a Houston-based non-profit organization that specifically builds mortgage free homes for severely wounded veterans. Operation Finally Home has built 12 homes since 2005 and currently has 10 homes under construction including several in North Texas.
The Smiles Charity kick-off ceremony featured a presentation by Dr. Buchanan on how her charity was founded, what it has accomplished, and where it is headed in the future. Dr. Buchanan’s vision is to bring the community together to change the world one home, one family at a time.
Smiles Charity is dedicated to achieving local results through a unique fund-raising concept which showcases how economic investment and the will to help a neighbor can benefit an entire community. Dr. Buchanan fought back tears during her presentation as she remembered her former patient Cody Board, who died in Afghanistan earlier this week.
Dan Wallrath, a Houston area home builder, shared how he founded Operation Finally Home after a request from a friend whose son returned home from Iraq in a wheelchair.
After renovating that first home to be wheelchair accessible, the project took off. He enlisted the help of his friends in the building business and began building new homes for severely wounded veterans.
He said, “There are 38,000 young men and women returning home with severe injuries. We won’t stop until we’ve built 38,000 homes.”
Wallrath has been nominated for CNN’s Hero of the Year for his efforts. Visit http://heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx for more information and to vote for Dan Wallrath.
Dan Vargas, executive director of Operation Finally Home, also spoke and thanked the audience for supporting Smiles Charity and the veterans who are receiving homes. Vargas introduced McKinney resident Levi Wilson, Sergeant, US Army (ret.) and his wife Katie as one of two families who will benefit from the net proceeds of the 2011 Smiles Charity Concert.
Alan Hornaday, Sergeant 1st Class, US Army (ret), his wife Sheila and their three children will be the second family to benefit from the concert.
Donny Daughenbaugh, Corporal, US Marines (ret.), has been the official spokesperson for Operation Finally Home after the organization built him a home. He spoke about how honored he feels to have a home built for him, his wife, and their two young children. He said his children will grow up knowing that the country their father served has taken care of them. Because the home he received is mortgage free, Donny and his wife are now full time college students and looking forward to a very bright future.
Although the Smiles Charity Concert will not be held until May 29th, 2011, fund-raising efforts are already under way. 12,000 attended the Smiles concert and festival in May 2010. An event that large requires a yearlong planning process. The event itself is underwritten by generous corporate and local sponsors, like Simpson Strong Tie, who share Buchanan’s vision. Simpson Strong Tie has already committed to monetary support for Smiles Charity as well as donating supplies and labor to building the homes.

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