Tag Archives: Collin County

Everyone loves animals

Collin County’s Commissioners Court has received a heartfelt lesson from some of its constituents … which is that we shouldn’t mess with efforts to take care of our furry friends.

That was the lesson delivered at a Commissioners Court meeting today as the five-member governing panel got ready to send a $683 million bond issue to voters to decide in November.

Part of the package includes a $5.7 million proposition to expand the county’s animal shelter compound. The proposition will be decided on along with four other propositions in the total bond issue.

My prediction, based on what I heard today? County voters are going to want to spend the money to improve county’s animal welfare system.

I want to be clear as well on the rest of the bond package: It looks like a good deal for the county, as it takes care of essentials, such as law enforcement, roads and highways and parks.

The folks who crowded into the Commissioners Court meeting room today, though, spoke only about animal welfare … which, the more I think about it, the least surprising it is to me.

I have covered a lot of issues over many years involving animals, namely dogs and cats, domestic pets that depend on human beings to care for them. Almost without exception I have witnessed the public rise up and speak on behalf of our furry critters. Indeed, I would hate to be the sorehead who speaks to a public hearing and disparages animals that have been abandoned or brutalized.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill, speaking at an Aug. 7 meeting in which commissioners received the proposed bond issue package, argued that the county might not need to spend the $5.7 million it had allocated for animal shelter expansion and renovation. His notion was voted down by his colleagues on the Commissioners Court.

Did he say a word endorsing his previous position before a packed house in the county courthouse Commissioners Court chamber? Don’t make laugh out loud!

I reckon he knew better.

County calls out TxDOT

Texas transportation planners apparently believe that what they giveth they can taketh away without being challenged.

Not so fast, according to Collin County’s Commissioners Court.

Commissioners have sent the Texas Transportation Commission a letter requesting the state return $490 million it had set aside for highway improvements that run through the heart of one of Texas’s fastest-growing counties.

Full disclosure: I live in the area affected by this still-growing dispute between the county and the state.

The letter references work planned for U.S. Highway 380 and Texas Spur 399 in McKinney. The 380 project includes a freeway bypass that TxDOT is considering for Princeton, as well as several other communities within the Collin County boundary. TxDOT wants to divert the money for high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Harris County.

Collin County commissioners are having none of it. Nor should they.

TxDOT has gone through a number of public hearings, taking hours upon hours of public comment on the impact of the highway improvements planned for cities such as Princeton, Farmersville, McKinney, Prosper, and Little Elm.

Now it wants to yank a sizable portion of the money it had set aside for that work to build HOV lanes in Houston?

I want to stand with Collin County’s Commissioners Court on this matter. I likely won’t live long enough to see the completion of the massive project being planned for Highway 380, but I damn sure want the state to listen to this elected governing board, which has stated in unambiguous language that it wants the money restored.

“Mobility is part of what drives the strong economic engine of North Texas and specifically Collin County,” commissioners wrote to the Transportation Commission. “A delay on such critical projects can have an impact on state revenues” and would have a negative impact on air pollution associated with traffic congestion in the region, they wrote.

Those of us who live here and who have to tolerate the stand-still traffic patterns along Highway 380 shouldn’t tolerate this takeaway of public money.


That was some storm, sweetheart!

My dear Kathy Anne …

Several friends of ours have suggested I write to you personally. They say I should put pen to paper. But as you know, my penmanship has gone straight to hell, thanks in no small part to the journalism career that ruined my once-graceful hand.

I hope you’ll settle for a typewritten note, sweetheart.

Know for starters that I miss you every waking hour of every day. We all miss you. It’s been a struggle since you left us. That damn cancer was brutal beyond anything I could imagine.

It’s been a dark journey so far, but I have been able to write about it on my blog and it has given me some comfort along the way.

But … I have some good news. I am able to smile a bit when I think of you. Take what happened here last night. We had a whale of a thunderstorm roar through Collin County. Tornado sirens were blasting. I saw some walnut-sized hail on the yard.

I thought of the many times we talked about missing the Gulf Coast storms we witnessed when we first moved to Beaumont in the spring of 1984. Remember how they boasted in the Panhandle about the thunderstorms there? Well, we always joked between ourselves that the coastal storms had the Caprock storms beat all to hell.

We lost power twice during the night. Not to worry, though. Peter and I had flashlights ready. Toby the Puppy got a bit anxious, as did the kitties that came with Peter. Just so you know, Macy and Marlowe are acclimating nicely in their new digs here. They have reached a sort of an accommodation with Puppy: It’s his house, but they are free to roam about.

We are adjusting to life without you, my darling bride. Indeed, I don’t believe I’ll achieve that level of normality as I once defined it.

When life was “good” for me, it was because of you. I cannot claim to be “good” these days. I am getting better. I get rocked back occasionally, but I understand now that it’s to be expected.

I’m just trudging along. I’ll write you again. I promise. Just know that I miss you beyond all humanly measure.


City bustles … to what end?

As I drive through the community I call home I am filled with wonder — that to be truthful borders on awe — at all the construction activity I am witnessing.

Princeton, Texas, is a city on the move. I am still trying to wrap my arms around understanding its destination. I don’t yet know where Princeton is going or even how it intends to get there.

I know I am going to miss a project or three, but I am witnessing …

Burgeoning neighborhoods sprouting up south of my home. There’s a new development rising out of the North Texas dirt just west of the subdivision where I live; that subdivision, by the way, is now officially “closed” to new development.

Just north of a bank branch on U.S. 380 I have witnessed work crews preparing a large section of land for development. I asked a banker at said branch the other day what’s going on. I am reluctant to give you the specifics of what she said, but spoke with authority in telling me of two major businesses going onto that property.

A gigantic luxury apartment complex is rising next door to Wal-Mart just east of us.

Car washes are going up, along with storage warehouses. The Princeton Herald recently published a story about a complex of single-family rental homes being built south of me along FM 982.

Oh, and then we have all that street work along Second Street, Main Street, and next to Veterans Memorial Park in what I refer to casually as “downtown” Princeton.

The city is undergoing explosive growth. Every demographer, economist, urban planner knows what’s happening here. What I want to learn more about, though, is where it ends up.

What kind of a city will Princeton become? A commercial hub? A recreational destination? A bedroom community with lots of homes filled with families who will need travel to Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen to “do something”?

My wife’s recent passing has produced a spate of phone calls and other messages from real estate investors asking if I want to sell the home we purchased in February 2019. Are you kidding me?

I have to stay and watch this city continue to evolve.


‘Fun’ coming to quick end

That was fun … actually, it wasn’t fun at all.

The wind roared through Collin County. The tornado siren in our Princeton neighborhood blared. The rain fell in a torrent. We didn’t get the baseball-sized hail the forecasters had thought might pummel us.

Toby the Puppy was a bundle of nerves. So was I, truth be told.

They told us the storm would blow through quickly. And it did.

More wind is in store for the rest of the night and into the morning. Then it will be a good bit chillier around here.

Hey, that’s OK with me. March has arrived like a roaring lion, folks.


In defense of where I live

I haven’t lived for very long in Princeton, Texas, but I am hearing some buzz out there from those who aren’t impressed with the community that Princeton is becoming.

A candidate for a city council seat in another city spoke about the growth that is coming to that city.

The candidate said the community shouldn’t become another Princeton. I didn’t challenge the statement in real time. I will do so now, but just briefly.

Princeton is in the midst of a growth explosion. The 2010 census figure of 6,807 grew to 17,027 when 2020 rolled around. The latest census count is obsolete, as city officials have told me they believe the population of Princeton now is closing in rapidly on 30,000 residents.

The housing boom is fueling the growth. What is not happening, at least not yet, has been the arrival of significant new commercial or light-industrial development.

The single-family residential construction and apartment complexes that are springing up serve as an indicator that Princeton must hold some attractiveness to individuals and families looking to relocate.

I see evidence of increased commercial expansion along U.S. 380. Strip malls are being completed; they contain a variety of businesses. I have heard rumblings about a major grocery chain opening an outlet in Princeton.

I will concede one point about Princeton’s lack of community identity: It has no “downtown district.” Princeton needs a city center, a place that identifies the community, where its nearly 30,000 residents can congregate.

However, I am glad to have chosen Princeton as my new hometown. I tell folks all the time that the city is a “work in progress.”

Give it time. That’s all it needs.


Commercial air travel is coming?

McKinney, Texas, is home to what they call a “national airport.” Well, it looks as though the city that runs the place is asking its residents for a serious upgrade at the terminal just down the road from where I live in Collin County.

The McKinney City Council is putting a $200 million bond issue on the May 6 ballot, asking residents to spend the money to create a commercial air terminal at the “national airport.”

I wish I could vote in that election. I just will have to endorse the notion of turning McKinney National Airport into a place where we can fly aboard a commercial aircraft.

I believe the community is ready to approve such a notion.

McKinney, just as Princeton is where I live, has entered serious growth mode. Just take a gander at all the commercial construction along Farm-to-Market Road 546 and you understand what I mean. Unlike Princeton, which is developing rapidly into a serious bedroom community with lots of houses springing up out of the dirt, McKinney is adding substantial professional and commercial development, too.

An airport upgrade, thus, seems to make sense as the Collin County seat continues to grow. What’s more, turning its national airport into a commercial transportation venue would save air travelers — such as me — the misery of driving all the way to Love Field or Dallas-Fort Worth airport.


City stays ahead of the curve

Princeton is a city on the move, given its explosive growth in leading North Texas’s population boom. It just so happens to be the fastest-growing city in the fast-growing county in Texas.

Think of that for just a moment. Think also of Collin County’s future as it grapples with the flow of migrants moving here from hither and yon. My wife and I are among those who have found our new “forever home” in Princeton and, boy howdy, we are glad to be here.

I want to mention an aspect of the city’s planning that I never thought of until just a moments ago. It is the proactive move the city made to relocate from its cramped “city hall” into a spacious new complex about a mile and a half east along U.S. Highway 380.

The city was able to purchase the property on the north side of 380 through an agreement with a developer. It then issued $20 million in certificates of obligation to build a shiny new Municipal Center that for the first time brings virtually all the city’s administrative functions under one roof.

I’ve been to the new center a time or three and have found it to be (a) beautifully designed, (b) fully functional and (c) fully occupied with city staffers doing their jobs on our behalf.

While this project was being conceived, planned and then built, the city’s population has continued to spiral upward.

The state recently posted the new “entering Princeton” signs listing the population 17,027, which is nearly triple the amount of people listed on the previous sign. The population numbers reflect the count delivered by the U.S. Census Bureau. The reality with which city administrators must deal is that the latest figure is significantly outdated. The population has far outstripped the 17,027 number posted on the latest sign

All of this is my way of congratulating the city for taking a proactive approach to serving the exploding number of people who now are calling Princeton their home.

My wife and I are delighted to be among them.


Road work does not end

A wacky millionaire in Amarillo, the late Stanley Marsh, was proud of posting signs around the city. One of them said “Road does not end.”

I now live in a community, Princeton in Collin County, Texas, where it can be said with a straight face that “road work does not end.”

We have this highway, U.S. 380, that runs through our city in an east-west direction. Traffic on it stalls westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon as motorist go to work and then return home from work, respectively.

The Texas Department of Transportation and cities along the U.S. 380 route are planning ways that they acknowledge — if you ask them — that their big ideas are going to cause a whole lot of teeth-gnashing for the next several years.

They all want to relieve the traffic pressure on U.S. 380. Princeton City Manager Derek Borg told me recently that sometime in 2024, TxDOT will begin work on widening the highway from four lanes to six. Sheesh! Do I have to tell you about the disruption that will occur along that right-of-way? I won’t bother. I think you get it.

That’s not nearly the end of it.

Sometime soon, TxDOT is going to build freeway passes through communities along U.S. 380. Princeton, Farmersville, McKinney, Prosper, Little Elm and God knows where else will feel the impact of that work.

TxDOT has been gathering information from the communities, assessing the environmental impact of the monumental job. I am not sure when the agency plans to start work. This much I know: When it starts, there will be headaches a-plenty all along the highway.

When will it end? I haven’t a clue. I do believe it will bring significant traffic relief for cities such as Princeton … until the state decides to do even more work on our roadways.

The road work does not end!


Thank goodness for weather forecasters

We had a bit of a scare this morning, which prompts me to offer a good word to those men and women who keep us informed on what’s happening in our world.

Mama Nature took aim at North Texas today, sending tornadoes raking across the land. We were safe in our Collin County home. I didn’t hear any sirens warning us of pending danger. Believe me, we have a tornado siren real close to our home, so had it gone off we would have heard it.

But we had our TV turned on to the local ABC News affiliate, intending to watch “Good Morning America,” which we do most mornings. Instead, we got lots of weather news.

What I found strangely reassuring was that the forecasters working this morning — Mariel Ruiz and Greg Fields — did not burden us with details about “hook echoes” or other terminology that only meteorologists understand. To my ears, it frequently sounds like jargon that only weathermen and women can grasp. I have lived in communities in Texas where the weather guys become enamored with sharing their knowledge of “weatherspeak” to those who don’t understand what the hell they’re saying.

Today, they gave us the basics: the direction of the storm as it swept over us from west to east, its speed as it coursed through our communities, damage that it was inflicting, and what we need to do to protect ourselves … the critical news that we need to hear.

I am not inclined generally to give these kinds of reviews on this blog. It’s just that today, when they told us excitedly that “tornado warnings have been issued for Collin County,” we sat up and took particular notice.

Our North Texas counties are small in geographic area, so when they tell us of a storm “warning,” there is a decent chance it could roar through our neighborhood. Collin County comprises 886 square miles, which means it’s about 30 miles across in any direction. That ain’t much, man.

Well … it didn’t come close to us. I am grateful for that, obviously. I also am grateful for the constant information flow that kept us all wide awake and aware of what might happen.

Thanks, everyone. This TV watcher appreciates the work you do and the service you perform.