Tag Archives: Collin County

‘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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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 The latest census count is obsolete, as city officials have told me they believe the population of Princeton now is closing in rapidly on 30,000 residents.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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

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.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Why no tornado basement?

I am sitting in my one-story, no-basement home in Princeton, Texas. Listening to the thunder, watching the lightning and hearing the TV weather forecaster tell us they have just issued a “tornado warning” for Collin County, which is where you can spot Princeton.

Now comes the question: Why did the developer not build a tornado basement home in our subdivision?

We moved here from Amarillo in late 2018. Our home in Amarillo was on a street with a home that did have a basement. We were advised which house it was and were told that in case of a twister, we could hightail to that house, which was four doors to our west.

Hmm. Not so here.

We all are going to hope for the best … obviously!

Johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Get ready for rapid growth

Four years ago, my bride and I made what we knew at the time would be one of the most important decisions of our married life: We found a home in a community in the midst of a population explosion.

We chose to move into a newly built home in Princeton, Texas, which is in Collin County, nearly 40 miles north of downtown Dallas. We downsized from our previous abode in Amarillo. It’s perfect for the two of us.

What’s the point? It is that Princeton’s growth rate is unlike anything I’ve ever seen up close. The city’s population effectively tripled between the 2010 and 2020 census. The house we chose is in the middle of a subdivision that is still growing.

I came out of retirement to work as a freelance reporter for a weekly newspaper group. Only recently, my bosses at the newspaper assigned me to cover goings-on in Princeton. I am delighted to cover the news of the community I now call home.

But there’s a huge assignment awaiting me. It will enable me to cover plans for the Princeton Independent School District to deal with the population growth that is placing enormous strain on the district’s ability to keep pace. It looks as though Princeton ISD is going to present the third bond issue since 2017. Voters approved a bond issue election that year and again in 2019. I don’t want to get ahead of myself on what I project will occur in the weeks to come. I do, though, feel comfortable asserting that PISD has a raging tiger on its hands.

Our house is two blocks from an elementary school that opened in 2019. Three school years later, it has two portable classrooms assembled next to the playground. I was told that Lowe Elementary School basically was over capacity when the doors opened for the first time.

So it goes in a city that is bursting at the seams. The school system needs places to put its exploding student population. The city recently received voters’ endorsement of a city charter, which is a sign of municipal maturity for Princeton. Traffic in Princeton grinds to a halt during morning and afternoon rush hours along the major highway that intersects the city; the state has plans to improve traffic flow that cannot be realized soon enough.

My bride and I, frankly, are happy to witness our city grow, to mature and to change its identity from tiny burg to a community of significant consequence.

This is a first for us. We are anxious to see how our city grows up.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Streets: City’s job No. 1

As I run my errands through the city where we live, Princeton — a fast-growing city in Collin County, Texas — I am struck by the number of “Road Closed” and “Road Work” signs I see.

Which brings me immediately to my point. Princeton is tending to an issue that is on the minds and lips of many residents with whom I visit from time to time.

The quality of our streets is, um, horrible.

The city just completed an extension of Beauchamp Boulevard, which is two blocks from the home my bride and I bought nearly four years ago. It is now working on a total remaking of Second Street. Myrick Boulevard, south of our neighborhood, is being widened and beautified into a work of civil-engineering art.

Your tax dollars at work? You bet! Do I object to that expense? Not in the least bit!

This is what cities are empowered to do. They are obligated, in my view, to make it as easy as humanly possible for residents to travel from point to point.

There will be plenty of grumbling from those who encounter the detours and “Road Closed” signs. Let ’em grumble. That’s their right.

I am going to accept that this is the cost of progress in a growing community. I am paying my taxes to finance this work. The best news? There’s an end to it!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Growth is great, however …

A Princeton, Texas public school administrator told me something the other evening that I didn’t appreciate fully … until this morning when I ventured to our local Post Office to take care of some routine business.

Princeton School Superintendent Don McIntyre mentioned how “out of control growth” in a community can be troublesome for educators who need to plan for how best to educate the children pouring into a school system.

This morning, I walked into our Post Office at the moment it opened and found that I was one of about 30 people already waiting for the doors to open.

You want growth? We have it in this Collin County community.

I mention my experience this morning because of what I am certain was the norm, say, about a decade ago when Princeton’s population stood at just a shade less than 7,000 residents. Today, that number appears to be well past 20,000, maybe nearer to 30,000.

This place is booming, man!

I know this is a little thing but going to the Post Office when the place opens shouldn’t require one to spend nearly an hour waiting to conduct a routine matter that should have been resolved in less than a minute.

I happened to encounter my mail carrier later in the day and told her what happened to me this morning. “They only have one person waiting on customers,” she told me. I know that, I said. She said something about having a new postmaster on duty in Princeton, to which I said we need to find a new postmaster general to run the operation from the top.

In actuality, what I learned today is that our new hometown is underserved by the U.S. Postal Service. Its distribution center here is nowhere near large enough to accommodate the volume of human traffic that uses it.

Hey, I am all for growth. I am pleased to be part of the inbound migration that found a forever home in this bustling city. My wife and I could not be any happier with the decision we made.

I just wish at this moment that the higher-ups could do a better job of anticipating the chaos that develops occasionally at places like the Post Office. That part is no fun at all.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com