Home sweet Huntsville

Andy Brauninger

Have you counted your blessings lately? I hope so, especially since we just completed the Thanksgiving holiday. Don’t you just love this time of the year, when we remind ourselves of how much we have to be thankful for and to share our lives with family and friends? Home Sweet Huntsville is a theme I hope everyone in our city adopts. I encourage all our citizens to take a deep breath, look around, and be thankful for this great city that we call home.

Appreciation is due to all who attended the November 20 public reception to thank Mayor Pro Tem Keith D. Olson for his eight years of service on the City Council. Mr. Olson has worked hard and been a valuable official, having held roles on the Finance Committee and on the Rules of Procedure Ad Hoc Committee, and for chairing the 2017-2018 Charter Review Committee. He has been concerned about the city’s planning and leadership, supported the staff, and engaged in making Huntsville a great place to live, study, and run a business. Thank you, Keith, for all you have done, we hope you will continue to be a force for considered progress throughout the area.

The special reception was also a time to congratulate Councilmembers Paul Davidhizar and Clyde D. Loll on their re-elections in At-Large Positions 1 and 3, respectively, and to welcome our newest Councilmember At-Large Position 4. We had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Mari Montgomery sworn in to the City Council during the meeting and look forward to her participation in the affairs of our community. Councilmember Montgomery has a history of volunteering with the City as a member of the Board of Adjustment, so we are grateful that she has taken this next step.

Don’t forget to vote in the runoff election for the Councilmember At-Large Position 2 race. Mrs. Dee Howard and Mr. William Bayne will be vying for this position. Early voting began on November 28th and will run through December 11th, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The two Tuesdays of early voting, December 4 and 11, will have extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All voting will take place at the Walker County Annex, both for early voting and on election day, Saturday, December 15, 2018. Please make a special effort to honor these two individuals who have volunteered to work on the City Council, by exercising your right to vote. It will only take a moment, hardly long enough for us to wait in line and reminisce about November’s eight-page ballot!

Speaking of which, the City is so thankful to all of the voters who took the time to educate themselves to vote in the November 6 election and consider the 32 proposed charter amendments. They were all approved by the voters, many with rates of 80 or 90% and higher. It was the culmination of a year of review of the City Charter and communication about the items. Read through your updated City Charter at HuntsvilleTX.gov/Charter.

Before I leave the topic of elections, let me also say how grateful I am to all the candidates who ran in this election. A democratic government requires the involvement of its citizens, including those who stand up to ask to represent the residents. The candidates work hard but the voters can only select one in each race, so remember elections come annually. Three Councilmembers, in Wards 1, 2, and 3, will reach term limits next year, and your community needs people to step up and run. Take time now to begin following the work of the Council and City and be ready next July when filing opens.

Many activities are happening in our community this month. Please check the City website and discover the opportunities available to all of us; the holidays are a great way to enjoy and rediscover our hometown. The Wynne Home Arts and Visitor Center has several events planned for Huntsville for the Holidays, including their annual Open House today from 2-4 p.m. You can see the entries and winners from the Gingerbread House Contest, too.

A Wynne Home Nutcracker, set for December 3-8, is a special collaboration with Nicolay Dance Works. Attendees will be immersed in an intimate experience of the Nutcracker story inside the Wynne Home, as all will take part in the Christmas party, witness the battle of the Mouse King and Nutcracker, and travel through the Snow Scene to the Land of Sweets. Performances will take place at 5, 6, 7, and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, December 5th and 6th, and at 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, December 7th and 8th. Tickets for A Wynne Home Nutcracker can be purchased at NicolayDanceWorks.com (936-291-5424 for more information about any of the activities). Make a special effort to see one of these outstanding performances.

The Wynne Home Arts and Visitor Center offers a wide variety of arts and cultural programs, as well as field trips tailored to the interests and needs of Huntsville’s diverse community. Visit TheWynneHome.com to find out more about the Wynne Home.

The Sam Houston Statue Visitors Center will host their annual Holiday Open House from 10-5 on Thursday, December 6. There will be lunch from Schlotzsky’s from noon-1 p.m. and everyone will receive 25% off in the Gift Shop all day (a great way to do all your Christmas shopping). If you haven’t visited the William Hodges Education Building at the Statue, which opened this summer, this is the perfect opportunity. It is available for rentals on the weekends and in the evenings and is a beautiful setting for special occasions.

As we all enjoy the festivities that are available during the holidays, please remember those less fortunate who may need a helping hand during this time. There are several opportunities for our citizens to participate in gifts for kids, meals for others, and donations of food and clothing. If you’ve been blessed, take the opportunity to bless others. It’s part of the spirit of our city.

At the meeting on November 20th, the City Council was presented the latest update on the largest of our three bond propositions. All the projects in Proposition 3 are fully contracted at pricing which is under the original estimate by a little over one million dollars, thanks to great work by our staff. We will continue to keep our citizens posted as the remainder of our bond issues unfold. Tuesday night at 5 p.m. will be a workshop from the architects on the Proposition 1 projects, for the Huntsville Police and Fire Departments.

On November 13, our City sponsored our first regional mayors roundtable. Area mayors met at the Statue Visitor Center where we had a half-day of discussions about each other’s cities, and our successes and challenges. The event was well attended in spite of the cold, and the City of Madisonville has volunteered to host the next meeting, in February. Thanks to Lee Woodward, Brenda Poe, and Kimm Thomas for all their help in making this such a success.

In closing, as the Christmas holiday is fast approaching, remember the true meaning of Christmas and spend special time with family and friends. My wish for you and yours is that this would be a wonderful Christmas and one that you will always cherish. God bless all.

Your mayor, Andy Brauninger