City continues to progress through pandemic

Andy Brauninger

‘Home Sweet Huntsville’ is in the midst of what many people are calling our new normal.  I don't know about you, but I for one long for our old normal.  I'm more than ready to return to public meetings, hugging friends and family, attending church and enjoying a good restaurant meal.  

I believe that our old normal will return and we will look back on COVID-19 as a terrible time in our city and country. We will learn from this experience and hopefully be better prepared for any future occurrence. But for now, I must advise all our citizens that we must continue to exercise precaution.  

Continue to observe social distancing, good hygiene, personal protective gear and follow all safe guidelines. Our positive cases in Walker county according to the Walker County Office of Emergency Management continue to rise. 

Huntsville is a unique community with seven prisons in our county. We are thankful for the economic benefit our community receives from the presence of the Texas Department of Corrections (TDCJ) and the many jobs that are created. However, with COVID-19, the ability to control the spread in a prison environment is very difficult.  

I applaud the efforts of the TDCJ management and the state of Texas for their efforts to mediate the spread of the virus. The TDCJ employees that enter our prisons every day are to be commended for their bravery and courage. These same employees must exercise careful practice as they come home each day to their families and support their lifestyles. Additional testing for the prison population and the state employees has been ramped up by state officials and making sure each employee has the correct personal protection equipment will hopefully see our positive numbers decrease.  

Until we see our numbers plateau or decrease, we in the public sector must continue to exercise due diligence. I pray that God will help us to put this pandemic behind us and give us a preventative vaccine.

Bond Proposition 3 addressing water and wastewater is nearly complete, and hopefully in early June we will have all the new construction tested and online. I hope everyone has had a chance to see the construction going up with our new police and fire station for Bond Proposition 2. We are completing these two projects in a timely manner and under budget.

Our city staff and I are meeting with Rita B. Huff board members to move forward on a possible public/private partnership to construct a new state of the art animal shelter for Huntsville. We are hopeful we can conclude an agreement and keep this valuable service in Huntsville for our citizens. 

In addition, we have started the design process on a renovation or new MLK center that will serve our city for many years.  Maintenance and replacements of our streets, sewer lines, and water lines continue to improve these vital functions for our citizens.

Recently, Tammy Gann, Economic Development Director for the City, gave a presentation to the Huntsville/Walker County Chamber of Commerce of all the new construction in and around our City. We have a great deal of new construction underway, including the progress of the I-45 expansion.  

Our job at the city is to try our best to manage the growth and at the same time keep our small-town flavor. As you can see, our city employees are very busy, and we are so fortunate to have all our dedicated staff. Next time you see a city employee, tell them thank you.

This past week we said goodbye to one of our outstanding councilmen, Paul Davidhizar. We will miss Paul's experience, skill, independent thinking and love for our city. As Paul leaves to enjoy retirement and grandkids, Bert Lyle has stepped up to fill the vacancy. We look forward to working with Bert to continue to move our City forward.

There is so much more I could share with you, but I will save some for next time. You, the citizens of Huntsville are what makes our city such a great place to live. Spread our love for each other, pray for our city and above all keep you and yours safe during these trying times. God bless you.