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 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.

Try it Local for discounts in McKinney

Local Deal Service Launched
Try It Local Offers Savings of 40-90% off retail services, restaurants and more
Supports Local Business Community

By Ginny Mullis
Special Contributor
The McKinney Chamber of Commerce is launching a new program called “Try It Local” – an electronic discount program featuring local retailers, restaurants, service providers and more. Each week a deal is offered at a deep discount of 40 to 90 percent off regular price (i.e., $20 of food and drink at a restaurant for $10). The offers are delivered to Try It Local subscribers via email, social media, and
There is no cost to sign up for Try It Local – visit to receive deal alerts. There is also no cost for companies to offer a deal; businesses interested being featured can visit for details.
“Try It Local is an exciting way to explore new businesses and experiences in McKinney, while at the same time supporting the local economy and area companies,” Becky Horn, director of Public Policy and Business Development. “The Try It Local program not only supports local retailers themselves, but the work of the chamber as well.”
Try It Local works like this:
• A local business offers a product or service at 40 percent off or more. This is the Deal of the Week. Deals could include discounts at local retailers, bars, salons, dry cleaners, attractions and special events.
• The Deal program is offered to participants by email, on, through the website, and via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
• Interested buyers click through to purchase the offer. Anyone can participate. There is no cost to sign up for Try It Local.
• Buyers print off the voucher and redeem it at the local business.
The first Deal of the Day will arrive on Oct. 12 and a new deal will be released each week thereafter. “We’re excited to bring the Try It Local concept to McKinney and partner with such a great Chamber. Try It Local is just another great example of McKinney’s focus on helping the local business community,“ said Try It Local President, Todd Earwood.
There is no cost to businesses to participate as a featured deal. The company keeps 70 percent of the day’s total sales and is responsible only for determining the deal and preparing to meet the increased demand for its product or service.
Since 2009, online discount usage has increased 27 percent, with more than 300 billion coupons distributed.
McKinney residents and business owners can visit for more information, instructions and to sign up. Contact Becky Horn at the McKinney Chamber of Commerce, (972-542-0163)
The McKinney Chamber of Commerce is an advocate and voice for the McKinney business community. The Chamber represents over 39,000 employees from approximately 1,200 business investors in the McKinney and North Texas region. It serves as the unified business voice for McKinney. With a rich heritage of leadership and collaboration, the Chamber works in partnership with the City of McKinney and the corporate community to promote, advocate for and expand business in the city and further develop and market McKinney’s advantages as a premier location for doing business.
Ginny Mullis is the Communications Manager of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at 972-542-0163 or look on

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Salvation Army refilling pantry with help from Phantom’s Ghost Town

Phantom’s Haunted Ghost Town at McKinney’s landmark Storybook Ranch, the newly restored circa 1850’s western village is answering the call to aid the North Texas Salvation Army’s call for pantry items.

Sergeants Carl and Kel Ungurait informed the local media, “Our pantries are under a great strain and we really need some extra help.”

“Peanut Butter and Jelly is a great support item for families who desperately need supplemental food items. It goes a long way. Any canned foods are needed to fill the near empty pantry. The gratitude and hope these needy families express keeps us going, but it’s heartbreaking for us to look at our limited pantry.”

River Ranch Educational Charities (RREC) is currently operating one of their biggest annual fund raisers in the form of a 10 acre haunted Ghost Town which is open at dusk on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the month of October at the Storybook Ranch. A pumpkin patch complete with hay bale maze, petting zoo, and pony rides has been set up on the Custer Road side of the 20 acre Collin County landmark.

Wayne Kirk, the director for RREC responds, “I am a big fan of the Salvation Army and what they do for our community. After hearing about the extreme need for food donations, we have decided to take $4 off the $25 Haunted Tour to anyone who brings canned foods to help out our neighbors.

Students in Collin County can get in on Sunday night for $15 with a can of food for the Salvation Army pantry.

The Phantom, James Dunn, is renown for developing Haunted Houses in the North Texas area. He has entertained thousands with his creative and well managed operation including the Texas State Fair.

McKinney Deputy Chief of Police Kim Lee Malelopszy commented, “The Storybook operation should be a used as an example of a well prepared and safely managed venue. They took the time to meet with the Fire Marshall, Police, and Fire to coordinate their safety standards.”

J.B. Blocker

Baumbach recovering after stroke

The publisher of the Collin County Observer column, Bill Baumbach, suffered what appears to be a mild stroke Sunday evening. He is stable and undergoing testing in a Plano hospital.
With a “normal” patient, the report might also say that he is “resting comfortably,” however, being Bill, that just doesn’t seem to apply.
He was dressed and roaming the hospital early Monday morning, and is actively thinking about several articles he plans to write for the Observer. To that end he spent time this afternoon reviewing the video of Monday’s Collin County Commissioner’s Court meeting and discussing research that needs to be done for upcoming articles. He is in good spirits, and as feisty as usual with family, friends and hospital staff.
That being said, he sometimes has trouble finding the right words and connecting them in the right order, particularly when typing. We are confident that this will be a temporary condition, so for the time being, a team of volunteer copy editors and researchers/reporters will be helping Bill keep the Observer current.
We may not be able to post as often as usual, but we will maintain a watchful eye on local government and keep you informed as we head into the final weeks before the November General Election.
We are fortunate that Bill’s stroke wasn’t more serious than it seems, but he may have been in a much better situation now if he had asked for help earlier than he did.
As best we can tell, he started experiencing confusion around 11 a.m. and finally called his son around 6 p.m. Grant immediately recognized that there was something seriously wrong with his father and called local authorities who dispatched an ambulance.
Bill was lucky, but the next person who has symptoms of a stroke may not be so fortunate. We hope you will keep his experience in mind if you or someone near you is exhibiting any of these symptoms:
• Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
• Confusion or difficulty performing simple tasks
• Speech problems, including using or understanding normal words
• Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, difficulty walking
• Severe headache, for no apparent reason
• Vision problems

Even if you’re not sure, ask someone who can help you or call 9-1-1. And if you’re trying to help someone you think may be having a stroke, don’t take no for an answer, no matter how bull-headed they are! (yes Bill, this means you!)
Delay can mean the difference in life or death, and between a normal life or permanent disability. You can learn more about the warning signs of stroke on the American Heart Association website –

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