Tag Archives: Collin County

Getting a ringside seat to watch stunning growth

I cannot predict the future. However, it appears more than likely I am witnessing a sea change in a new community my wife and I are about to call home.

Princeton, Texas, sits amid what is now considered “rural” Collin County. The sign that welcomes you to the city says it has a population of about 7,000 residents.

That ol’ trick knee of mine it tell me that figure will be revised upward dramatically when they take the next census out here in 2020. When you drive into Princeton on either side of the city along U.S. 380 you see the unmistakable orange construction barrels and cones. They’re widening and making other improvements to the highway.

Just today, as we hauled some of our worldly goods into our new home I took particular notice of the businesses under construction along U.S. 380. Fast food joints, convenience stores, a potential major retail shopping center all are either under construction, about to be under construction or are being lured by the presence of vacant land.

I welcome the urbanization of the region, within reason of course.

Princeton is just a bit east of McKinney, the Collin County seat. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex already has swallowed McKinney whole. It’s coming for Princeton.

The way I look at it, the home we are purchasing is quite likely to appreciate dramatically in value as we move along toward the future.

As I have noted already, I cannot predict what precisely the future holds. I don’t yet even know what it holds for my wife and me . . . other than we expect to spend a lot of time on the road hauling our fifth wheel RV across North America.

When we return home, my strong hunch is that it is going to look — at varying degrees each time — a bit different than when we left.

Progress almost always is a good thing. The good news is that the Princeton city planners know what a lack of control over growth can produce. The bad news is that they could ignore what they have witnessed elsewhere.

I am going to pray for wisdom at City Hall.

Amarillo boosting its red-light camera deployment

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is on record saying he believes the state ought to yank cities’ authority to deploy red-light cameras at dangerous intersections.

Amarillo has responded to that declaration by increasing the number of cameras it has posted around the city from nine to 12.

Take that, Gov. Abbott!

I remain a supporter of the technology that the city uses to assist in catching red-light runners in the act of breaking the law.

The city is going to add seven cameras at intersections, while removing four cameras from other intersections. Thus, the city is continuing to use the technology to assist the police department. Moreover, the city is upgrading red-light camera assemblies at five intersections.

So, what does that mean for the future of the technology? I suppose you can say it lies in the hands of the Texas Legislature. Amarillo has two House members representing the city: Republicans John Smithee and Four Price; it also has a state senator, Republican Kel Seliger, who managed to make some news in recent days because of his dispute with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

What do these three men believe about the red-light cameras? I haven’t asked them directly. Maybe I will, even though I no longer live in Amarillo.

I don’t see any such cameras on the job in Collin County, where my wife and I now live. I don’t see them in Fairview, or Allen, or McKinney or in Princeton — where we’ll be moving into our new home quite soon. I would not object to any city in Collin County deploying these devices. The way I figure it, if it deters red-light runners then they are doing their job.

As for Amarillo’s red-light cameras, consider this little tidbit: Texas Department of Transportation officials say that the three intersections where the cameras are being removed recorded just four collisions from July 2016 to the end of June 2017. They are heavily traveled thoroughfares, so I am going to presume that the cameras did their job.

Cities should be allowed to determine for themselves whether or where to deploy these devices. They don’t need Bigger Brother looking over them.

Happy Trails, Part 142: Moving into transition

One of the more exciting aspects about the next — and hopefully final — stop on our retirement journey has been the changing nature of the community we’re going to call home.

Princeton, Texas, sits east of McKinney — the Collin County seat. The next town to the east along U.S. 380 is Farmersville; the one after that is Greenville, hometown of the late Audie Murphy, the Medal of Honor recipient and the Army’s most decorated soldier of World War II.

Princeton is still a rural community. It is home to around 10,000 residents. When you drive east from McKinney you see lots of orange barrels, cones and “Road Work Ahead” signs. They’re tearing up the highway, expanding it, improving access and exits.

The residential neighborhood we’re entering also is under construction. Indeed, our street is cluttered with construction vehicles.

I am getting the strong sense that McKinney is inching its way east toward Princeton. The rural community will become an urban one in due course.

It has all the requisite urban accoutrements: a postal ZIP code, plenty of commercial outlets, heavy traffic (at times), traffic signals, sewer service. You know, all those things associated with urban life.

I find it strangely exciting to witnessing this change from the front end. We had a similar ringside seat to all that change in Amarillo. We moved into our newly built house in late 1996. Our home was one block from civilization as we knew it in Amarillo. Beyond the busy street to our west were literally miles of pasture land. You could hear coyotes yipping and yapping in the early morning hours when you went out to fetch the newspaper.

It all changed rapidly. They built the Greenways residential complex west of Coulter Street. It went up in a major hurry. The range land gave way to manicured lawns. Urbana arrived in far west Amarillo.

We’re going to witness it yet again in our new home.

I plan to welcome the change . . . as long as it arrives in an orderly fashion.

Happy Trails, Part 141: ‘Forever’ is approaching rapidly

PRINCETON, Texas — Our intention was to make an apartment in nearby Fairview our “forever home.”

Then we decided fairly soon after moving in that apartment living isn’t our bag. So . . . we went looking for a house to purchase. What you see in the background of this picture, on the yard marked by the “Sold” sign, is what we have decided is actually our “forever home.”

It’s in Princeton, in eastern Collin County.

It is in a subdivision that is still under construction, although our street is mostly done.

Our retirement journey is about to make the turn down the stretch.

This new home of ours is modest. It’s not a sprawling spread. But for two people who are in the station of life that my wife and I now enjoy, this place is damn near perfect. 

Our retirement years are still going to include plenty of travel in our fifth wheel RV. We already have one trip mapped out this spring. Another one is coming up this summer. Beyond that, well, we are leaving our options wide open.

I suppose everyone — retired folks or working stiffs — needs something to which they can look forward.

We looked forward for a while to our retirement years. That time arrived a bit ahead of schedule, but now that it did, we have embraced it fully.

Our retirement now includes planning for one more move. It won’t be nearly as long a haul as our previous move from Beaumont to Amarillo. This one will entail just a few miles east along a well-traveled highway.

I am so looking forward to settling into this dwelling — for the duration.

Happy Trails, Part 138: Now it’s ‘home orientation’?

My wife and I are in the processing of purchasing the fifth home we have shared over more than 47 years of marriage.

The previous four home purchases — two in Oregon and two in Texas — have all gone about the same way: We select a house, we settle on a price, we obtain the financing, then we close the deal. “Closing” on the sale involved signing a lot of papers, then the title company person hands us the keys to the house — and maybe a garage-door opener — and says, in effect, “Have a nice life.”

Boom! Done! Off we went.

Now, though, it’s different. We got word today of a closing date. But before that happens, we get to take part in what the builder calls a “home orientation” session. The message we received tells us that the session “is designed to teach you about how your home works.”

How it works? Yep. We’re buying one of those “smart homes.”

I’ve mentioned already that it is a modest home in Princeton, Texas, in northeast Collin County. It is part of a brand new subdivision.

Unlike the four previous homes we purchased, this one comes with some razzle dazzle, a few bells and whistles. If we want to make it smarter than I am — which isn’t hard to do — we can subscribe to a service that provides an “Alexa” device that does things on voice command: dim the lights, turn on the TV, lower the shades; I’m wondering if there’s an “app” that tucks me in at night.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not going to resist this “home orientation” lesson. I welcome it. I’ll need it. It just kind of blows my mind, given that I am 69 years of age and while I am getting a bit more tech savvy as time marches on, I am far from the “geek” that my sons would prefer me to be.

The “home orientation” awaits in just a few days.

Bring it!

Happy Trails, Part 137: The final stop . . . found!

I have been waiting for the right moment to reveal this bit of news for readers of this blog. That moment arrived today, around 1 p.m.

That was when my wife and I — in the presence of our daughter-in-law, son and granddaughter — tendered an offer on a new home that we intend to purchase.

Why is that a big deal? Here’s why.

We had intended to retire forever and ever in an apartment in Fairview, Texas, sandwiched between Allen and McKinney just north of Dallas. Then we discovered almost immediately that apartment living wasn’t in the cards. The location of the place is perfect; it is near plenty of shopping and entertainment opportunities; it is close to our granddaughter; it’s a comfortable pad that my wife has turned into a nice home for us.

We just don’t want to stay here for “the duration.”

So we began looking around for a house to purchase. We came up empty, until just this week!

We ventured Friday to Princeton, Texas, about 10 miles from our dwelling in Fairview. We found a new development. We talked to the builder’s on-site managers. We looked at some houses and we settled on one of them.

We got in touch with our daughter-in-law, who happens to be a Realtor. We sat with her, our son and little Emma to talk about crafting an offer. Our daughter-in-law/Realtor — Stephanie — came up with a figure and today she presented it to the builder on our behalf. She and the builder’s rep went back and forth for a bit.

Then we settled on a figure. Signed a whole stack of documents. The deal got done!

So, our retirement journey is taking one final turn, one more lap.

Then we’ll be done. We have found our “forever home.” It’s a modest abode, but it’s just about perfect for my wife and me, along with Toby the Puppy. It is a brand-new dwelling. We intend to be its residents for as long as is humanly possible.

This wasn’t part of our original plan. However, having made this decision, we are extremely happy with the path our retirement life has taken.

Oh, our fifth-wheel RV, the one we take on the road? It’s still there, waiting for its next journey. That’s coming up, too.

Yep, life is quite good.

Happy Trails, Part 132: Feeling more like ‘home’

I took Toby the Puppy for a walk this afternoon. Then it dawned on me as I looked at our surroundings.

Collin County is feeling more like “home” to me. I believe it is for my wife, too. Toby the Puppy? He’s fine no matter where he is, as long as we’re with him.

It’s more of a sense than anything else. You know already that we’re getting more comfortable navigating our way around the Metroplex. The sense today is that our neighborhood is feeling more like we belong here.

Now, we aren’t likely to stay in our particular neighborhood forever. My wife and I are moving toward purchasing a new home; at the moment, we are renting an apartment. We like our residence just fine, but we have this desire to sink our roots a little more deeply into our new surroundings.

It helps satisfy my own sense of belonging to feel more acclimated to our new surroundings.

I discovered in 1984 that I am a highly adaptable creature. We moved from Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast that spring. I had spent my entire life in Portland — except for two years in the Army, which took me to the East Coast and eventually to Southeast Asia.

Oregon was “home” for me. Then opportunity called and we settled in Southeast Texas. That was our home for nearly 11 years. More opportunity called and we pulled up stakes and settled in Amarillo, which became our home for more than 23 years.

Our life in Beaumont became the new normal. Then it shifted to the Texas Panhandle.

Now it is reconstituting in Collin County, just a bit north of Dallas. Most importantly, we’re now just a few minutes away from our precious granddaughter.

As I look around our new digs, though, my comfort level is more satisfied believing that I am feeling at home.

More road work on the way

I guess I thought wrong.

I had hoped to have moved away from incessant street, road and highway construction when we relocated this past spring from Amarillo to Fairview.

Silly me.

The midterm election this week included a three-part bond issue for Collin County residents to consider. Two of the parts called for expenditure of several hundred millions of dollars to improve and build new streets and highways in the county. The third part seemed at first blush to be somewhat counterintuitive: It calls for parks and open spaces to deal with expected skyrocketing population growth in Collin County. Why might that be counterintuitive? Growth means more housing and need for housing space; not necessarily room for parks and open space.

Collin County voters approved all three measures … and by comfortable margins at that!

I won’t complain about the highway construction. We’ll just have to find ways to navigate around it once it commences.

I do want to comment briefly on the parks matter.

I am a big believer in parks and open spaces. Thus, I am glad that voters have seen fit to approve that part of the county’s ambience.

My wife and I have noticed already on our travels through Collin County an abundance of parkways. Many thoroughfares are beautifully landscaped with grassy medians and plenty of trees. Indeed, we live on a parkway that cuts through Fairview. We enjoy driving along it and enjoy walking along the parkway with Toby the Puppy.

I don’t yet know where the county will develop its new parks and where it will set aside the open space. Collin County already has no shortage of beautifully manicured parks. There will be more.

County officials’ intent is to make Collin County more attractive to future residents. Well, it worked on two new residents: that would be my wife and me.

The road work? We’ll just have to suck it up. Besides, we’re already used to it.

No line at polling station … hmm

I was half expecting to wait in line this morning when I went to my Collin County, Texas, voting station down the street where my wife and I live.

It didn’t happen. We walked, checked in, got our access card, cast our ballots and left. Just like that. In and out in, oh, 12 minutes.

All this talk about the huge surge in early voting? Does it mean a surge in overall turnout? Does it mean Texas won’t be among the worst performing voter turnout states in the Union?

I don’t know. I get that one polling station doesn’t tell the whole story.

Still, I hope the huge spike in early voting doesn’t portend a scenario that results in the early vote detracting from the number of Election Day voters.

We’ll know in due course.

Clear your throat, but first … be sure to vote!

You’ve heard it said, “Don’t bitch if you don’t vote.”

I’m going to keep bitching because I am going to vote later today.

My polling place is 8 minutes away by car. It’s at a school in Collin County. Will there be a long line? I don’t know. Nor does it matter. I’ve got time on my hands. I have nowhere to go today.

My post-election griping might take a little different turn. To be candid, I am getting a little weary of speaking so critically about Donald John Trump. I am running out of ways to say the same thing, which is that Trump is not fit to be president.

But … he is the president.

I want to concentrate more on issues that concern me. The world is in a perilous place because of climate change, the war on terror, the fight over nationalism vs. globalism, nuclear proliferation … those kinds of things. I won’t abandon completely my criticism of the president, but I want desperately to take this blog into another direction as we head into the second half of Donald Trump’s term as president.

My vote later today will give me license to speak out and to criticize the president of the United States.

How about you?