Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Steamboat House to Open

Sam Houston passed away July 26, 1863 on a small bed in the downstairs parlor room of the Steamboat House. The next day, funeral services were held in the upstairs parlor.

On Friday, July 27, 2012 the Sam Houston Memorial Museum we will open the Steamboat House from 10-2pm for visitors to come into the Steamboat House (this is a very, very rare opportunity) and learn about this important time in Texas history, learn about mourning customs of the time, explore the Steamboat House, and honor Sam Houston and the Houston family.

Campus Expansion Possibilities

Now with Smith-Kirkley Hall out of the way, the Houstonian reports that the campus turns its eyes on how to the use that piece of prime real estate as well as re-think the Student Health Center expansion:
Several possible updates to campus facilities at Sam Houston State University are in the pre-planning stage, according to university officials who met with students last week.

Associate Vice President of Student Services Keith Jenkins told members of the Student Government Association that potential updates to campus include an expansion of the Lowman Student Center, a new Health Center and updates to Pritchett Field and the University Camp.

He added that over the years, students have expressed interest in having carpeting in the LSC Ballroom, a bowling alley and an eating area in the LSC.  The expansion of the LSC will be up for a vote in October. In the meantime, Jenkins said the university is going through what he called a "pre-planning" phase to meet with different departments on campus to get input about the expansion. However, Jenkins had concern about the time limit given for planning. He said that the university is being given three to six weeks of time for pre-planning for what would normally take three to six months.

Next, Jenkins discussed another item going on the student referendum in October. Another potential plan for university expansion is a new student health center. Originally, the plan was to use the existing site to expand the health center, but with King Hall also on the list of buildings to be demolished, Jenkins said it was a "strong possibility" that the new facility could be built on that site.  Jenkins said all research and student input have been gathered for the student health center and graphic renditions of what the building may look like will be available to students by August 22.

SGA Treasurer Jimmy Williams expressed concern over congested parking around the areas of planned construction. While Jenkins could not give a definite answer, he said some ideas in discussions of the LSC expansion were to use the hilly topography of campus to build parking underneath the building to address parking issues, similar to the parking at Sam Houston Village.

"There is no finality to any of these ideas," Jenkins said. "These are just new ideas off the press.

Other proposed plans Jenkins discussed were of a new special event center near the coliseum to house the alumni center, parts of the academic advisement center and a new ballroom.   Other potential construction plans include a new dining facility and residence hall on the south side of campus with new property purchased by the university.

Then, Jenkins updated SGA on other smaller-scale updates to campus facilities. He noted that the university is installing artificial grass on Pritchett Field to combat previous problems with last year’s drought that caused an "unplayable" field.  The field, which costs around $1.1 million, will accommodate club sports, intramural teams and intercollegiate soccer teams. He said it will be completed by September 1.

Next, Jenkins confirmed the University Camp, the home of Bearkat Camp, will be under construction this fall to meet demand from student organizations to have a retreat site close to campus.  "There will be overnight accommodations for 200 people, a swimming pool and one large meeting room and we’re expanding the dining hall all for student organizations to utilize," he said.

Lastly, Jenkins said the Agriculture Facility [on] I-45 will be moving to Gibbs Ranch on 75 North. Once the move is complete, there will be more room for more sports fields on the I-45 spot.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

SHSU Searches For New Research Park Site

The July 13 edition of the Item reports that SHSU officials have asked the city to help investigate other sites for its research park:
SHSU determined the original site on Highway 19 is not viable, city sources confirmed Thursday.  That means, Mayor Mac Woodward confirmed, the public hearings to discuss possible annexation of 359 acres of land to include the 160-acre park will be cancelled, and there will be no more discussion of extending $2.1 million in city utilities to the site.

The original site is located in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, miles from city infrastructure, and would have required at least a 12-inch water line extension that would have cost, in addition to sewer line extension, $2.1 million. The developer requested that the city of Huntsville foot the bill. sources confirmed that a recent study on optimum sites for location of a hotel and conference center — like one that would be associated with the research park — identified sites along Interstate 45 as most viable.  These sites would have easy access to Interstate 45 and proximity to existing city utilities.

Over the past month, City Council fielded numerous questions and comments from citizens about the costs associated with utility line extension to the original Highway 19 site, possible annexation of the site, and the lack of consideration given to other sites with fewer associated costs to the city.
More: SHSU: Hwy 19 land still a possibility (Item; July 13)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Memories of Smith-Kirkley

Memories of the dorm, not the two namesakes, in Tuesday's edition of the Houstonian from two former residents:
Construction crews began the demolition of the residence hall on July 3 as a part of the ongoing tear-down to make room for new additions to the Lowman Student Center, according to a university announcement released in May.

Construction of Smith-Kirkley Hall was completed in 1962. It was an all-women’s dorm that housed 266 upperclassmen along with a reception room and dining hall. The building is named after Harriet Francis Smith and Bertha Kirkley. Smith was a geography teacher for SHSU from 1914 to 1941 while Kirkley taught as an assistant in Latin, mathematics and history from 1891 to 1941.

University officials say the demolition of Smith-Kirkley should be complete sometime in August.
Share your memories of the dormitory at KatFans.

(King Hall: you're next.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Citizens Speak On Annexation

The Huntsville Item reports on the Tuesday, July 3 City Council meeting where the proposed SHSU research park was discussed:
The Huntsville City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to push back the first public meeting on the proposed annexation of a university research park to August to allow the city more time to gather information to answer questions raised by citizens.

Sam Houston State University plans to build a research park on a 160-acre tract owned by D’Agostino Companies east of the city limits at Highway 19 and Ellisor Road. The heavily wooded lot, which borders a small subdivision of ranch-style homes, is about 5 miles from SHSU’s campus in Huntsville.

The developer has asked the city to foot the bill for the extension of water and sewer lines to the property — 60 acres of which would be donated to SHSU for use as a research park. Most of the rest of the land would be developed as a private and taxable mixed-use and hotel and convention center complex.

The city is applying for federal grants to help fund the cost of a 12-inch water line to the site but the city would be expected to absorb the rest of the costs.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Crime Lab Closure To create Case Delays

The Conroe Courier reports that the SHSU Regional Crime Lab in the Woodlands will close in September:
The landlord of a building that houses the crime lab testing evidence for Montgomery County law enforcement has found a new tenant, leaving the highly regarded lab with no place to go. The loss of the Sam Houston State University Regional Crime Lab, which opened in November 2010 in The Woodlands, will mean significant delays for results in testing evidence such as blood-alcohol and toxicology tests, said Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam, chief of the Vehicular Crimes Division for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

The crime lab will lose its current home in September because the landlord has found another tenant, said Dr. Vincent Webb, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at SHSU in Huntsville and director of the university’s Criminal Justice Center. “We don’t have a place to go,” Webb said. “We’re looking to move, but we can’t find anything in The Woodlands. We went there in the first place because there was a lab (in the leased building). So, the capital costs (to equip a lab) are beyond our means.”

Purchasing the necessary equipment and configuring a space to hold it would cost between $3 million and $4 million dollars, Webb said.  “We thought we would be in there several more years,” he said.

With the loss of the SHSU crime lab – which serves more than 70 agencies – Montgomery County now will have to send tests to a Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Crime Lab in Austin, which serves many more clients, Diepraam said.

“With the Regional Crime Lab, we got results in a week or two,” he said. “Unfortunately, the DPS lab has a backlog of cases. For drug toxicology tests, it could take six to nine months to get results. That’s a concern to the district attorney that we’ll have people staying in jail while we’re waiting on results.”

From November 2010 to October 2011, the Regional Crime Lab ran 1,034 drug toxicology tests, with 900 of those from Montgomery County, Diepraam previously said. During that same time period, the lab analyzed 4,335 controlled substance evidence items, with 86 percent of them coming from Montgomery County, according to a casework overview by the lab.