Saturday, June 30, 2012

Smith-Kirkley Demolition Begins

The demolition of the 50-year-old Smith-Kirkley Hall begins today, according to SHSU:
The contractor will begin the tear down of the Kirkley building (North section) on Saturday, June 30, 2012.  This will create additional traffic including large trucks along Avenue J between 16th and 17th streets. Drivers may want to avoid this area if possible however the parking along Avenue J will not be closed off.

The project began on May 29, 2012 with anticipated project completion by September 4, 2012. Critical demolition and material haul off is expected to be completed by August 25, 2012.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SHSU, Developer Discuss Park

Tuesday’s Huntsville City Council meeting again debated the proposed SHSU Research Park northeast of town, according to the Huntsville Item:
“We have the land; we don’t have any money,” said Brian D’Agostino, representing the owners of 60 acres of the site at Ellisor Road and Highway 19, situated within the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction.

Following presentations by architect Ken Tipton of the Baton Rouge-based Tipton and Associates and research park incubation expert Charles D’Agostino, citizen Charles Smither Jr. suggested partners work together to alleviate some of the initial burden on Huntsville taxpayers. Such a partnership might also buy some goodwill among citizens who are jaded about past utility extensions to areas that never saw to fruition the development that was expected, he said.

A hotel and conference center that would adjoin the research park would bring in hundreds of visitors to Huntsville through attendance at conventions and SHSU Bearkat sporting events, he said.

City tourism officials and council members have noted that Huntsville does not have a hotel large enough to house visiting NCAA teams who play the Bearkats so that those teams must stay at Bryan-College Station hotels.

The research park also would give SHSU the room it desperately needs to grow, said Al Hooten, vice president of finance and operations at the university. Many nonacademic programs would move to the research park, freeing up space on the main campus for students. Without the research park, SHSU might have to cap enrollment as has the University of Houston and Texas A and M.

SHSU is land locked....Unless we can create more space on the main campus, we’ll have to cap enrollment,” Hooten told council. Something must be done to accommodate a student population expected to hit 22,000 to 25,000 in the near future.

The June 27 presentation on the proposed SHSU Research Park is available at the City of Huntsville website.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pritchett Field Face Lift

The Huntsville Item discusses the goings-on at the historic Pritchett Field, the original home of Bearkat football and current home of women's soccer:
Equipment sits idle at the lower end of Pritchett Field Friday [June 22] afternoon. Sam Houston State University is taking advantage of summer months to renovate the field before school begins in the fall. For the lower field, where the soccer team plays, SHSU is refurbishing the underground plumbing, draining and electrical systems. It is all scheduled to be completed by the second week of September. Work on the upper field is referred to as the Pritchett Field Artificial Turf Project, which calls for replacing the old turf with 87,119 feet of synthetic turf.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Council OK’s annexation process

The June 20 edition of the Huntsville Item highlights the City Council's okay to annex the proposed site of the SHSU research park:
Huntsville City Council on Tuesday agreed unanimously to move forward with the process of considering the annexation of about 160 acres on Highway 19 that will serve as the site of a planned Sam Houston State University research park.

Mayor Mac Woodward excused himself from discussion and voting on a motion to initiate the annexation process of the land, which lies near the intersection of Highway 19 and Ellisor Road in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.The measure passed unanimously.

The vote allows staff to gather the necessary information on capital planning and cost analysis and to schedule public meetings on an annexation proposal.

Though the vote Tuesday was unanimous, council members had questions they wanted addressed in the initial phase of the annexation process. Among them: Who would pay for the extension of city services to annexed land if grant funds were denied?

The proposed measure would have legalized the sale of alcohol throughout Huntsville. In that event, the annexed tech park —which might include a hotel and convention center — also would be “wet.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bowers Stadium gets a face lift

GoBearkats reports the original seats at Bowers Stadium are being replaced:
Bowers Stadium has undergone a facelift with the removal of the original orange chair back seats installed when the facility first opened for the 1986 Bearkat football season.  A total of 1,040 seats from the west side center sections were disassembled and removed the week of June 11-15.  New wider, more comfortable orange chair back seats will replace the old ones. Installation of the new chair backs is slated for early August in time for Sam Houston's Sept. 8 season opening football game with Incarnate Word.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Building a Mystery: LSC Bookstore

We received an email this week from someone seeking information about the Lowman Student Center (LSC) bookstore, specifically ownership:
I am trying to find information about the bookstore companies that ran the LSC bookstore on campus from 1991 to 1998; I was employed there during part of that time. My memory is foggy, so I have been turning to other resources but so far nobody has record or recollection of the owners/management prior to the current store, which is run by Barnes and Noble.
By our estimation Barnes and Noble has operated the University Bookstore since c.2004. A temporary B&N store stood on the site of the current Chemistry and Forensic Sciences Building c.2003, possibly during and after the interior remodeling of the LSC last decade. Anyway:
I know that Follett was running the bookstore during part of my time there, but I cannot recall if they were the earlier company, or the one that took it over. Follett has no record, having purged all records. I am also pretty sure that the university itself ran the bookstore at one point, and staff was under SHSU payroll. It was not when I worked there, though. Still I know there was a change, because I worked for two companies during my employment and I helped with a changeover, and we had to inventory everything. There was then a clearance of most non-book items, as the new managing company did not want to take on too much inventory. I think the books went back to an outside distribution point. Then the store was emptied of all fixtures, etc. A new company came in and built their layout from scratch.
And there’s where things stand today.

If anyone has any memories of the LSC bookstore – be it any owner, be it any time period, or even be it about that thick, red paperback English Composition I book with a pseudo-engraving of Austin Hall on its cover that, for Fall 1994, was a required purchase but (ahem) was bought back at the end of the semester for mere peanuts because the English Department wasn’t going to use it any longer – and wants to help out a fellow Bearkat, drop us a line. She’d be glad to hear from you.

And I’d personally like to see the cover of that English comp book again, too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gibbs-Powell House at 150

This September the Gibbs-Powell House in Huntsville will celebrate its sesquicentennial, as the Item reports:
The Walker County Historical Commission serves in maintaining the upkeep of the establishment which is a Texas Archaeological Landmark and Historical Landmark. The house, which now functions as a museum, was originally built in 1862 by businessman Thomas Gibbs in the Greek revival style. Gibbs modeled the house after his brother’s across the street which was nearly identical. The building still features much of the original furniture and qualities that it did in the 1860s. The glass window panes and square pillars seen on the exterior of the structure are essential to that of the Greek revival style.  Although it has gone through many changes, the Walker County Historical Commission has left it unchanged in order to preserve some of the town’s most important history.

In its 150 years, the house has served as a home for the Gibbs-Powell families, board for females attending Sam Houston Normal Institute in the nineteenth century, and a museum for modern Huntsville to take a look at the history of its town.

For those keeping track, the house is about a decade younger than Austin Hall (1851-2) and fifteen years younger than the oldest building on the SHSU campus, Sam Houston's Woodlawn Home (1847).