12-01-2021 Edition of the Fort Bend Star

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Local small businesses get Comcast grants - Page 4

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Fort Bend / Southwest • Volume 46 • No. 15


Sugar Land mayor caught in fight over I-45 expansion By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

A contentious fight to stop the planned expansion of Interstate 45 through Houston has grown to draw a Fort Bend County elected official into its orbit. A group called Stop TxDOT I-45 last week penned a letter accusing Sugar Land Mayor


Joe Zimmerman of ethical misconduct for using his role on the HoustonGalveston Area Council’s transportation group to advocate for the project, which he could benefit from professionally as an employee of engineering and architecture firm Halff Associates, Inc. Zimmerman last week told the Fort Bend Star he’d asked officials with both the city of Sugar

Land and the HoustonGalveston Area Council to double-check to make sure he hadn’t violated any ordinances, but assured readers he hadn’t done anything wrong, and that his support for the project wasn’t personally motivated. “HGAC is in charge of advancing the transportation needs of the entire region,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not just Sugar Land or

Fort Bend County, though this project would benefit everyone. And other elected officials on the committee are equally like-minded. We all come from different backgrounds and we’re looking at funding projects that will benefit the community decades from now.” The Texas Department


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Crews working on area biz development By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

The broken ground and smattering of building materials near the intersection of Kirkwood Road and Highway 90A are the most visible signs of an ongoing $19 million project to add two new industrial buildings to a city known for its business development. Crews are at work on a project called Kirkwood Industrial, under which they will construct two industrial shell buildings with a detention pond, according to Tatyana Luttenschlager, city planner for Stafford. The finished product will look similar to other development next door, Luttenschlager said. “No tenants yet as these are shell buildings,” Luttenschlager said. A request for comment sent to the developer behind the project, Crow Holdings Industrial, went unreturned as of Monday afternoon. Crow Holdings, the Dallas-based parent company, is a privately-owned real estate investment management and development firm that first opened in 1948, according to the company’s website. The company manages assets worth a combined $21 billion and has 17 different offices. Included in the company’s portfolio are several other projects in Fort Bend County. The Stafford Grove Industrial Park, for instance, opened in 2017 and offers 351,960 square feet of distribution space on Airport


Students in the "Culture Shock" class listen to a presentation at the Literacy Council of Fort Bend building on Nov. 17. The aim of the class is to help recent immigrants learn about the workings of the county and how they can get involved. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)

Immigrants learn ins and outs of county in 'Culture Shock' class By Matt deGrood MDEGROOD@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

Sue Lee has encountered a vastly different world from the one she knew growing up in Taiwan since she first came to Fort Bend County in 2004, she said. The Sugar Land resident has made two further moves between Taiwan and the U.S. since that first arrival,

but her most useful introduction to the particulars of the county might have come recently. Lee is one of several recent immigrants enrolled in a new class at the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County called “Culture Shock: How Things Work in Fort Bend County.” Over the course of the yearlong class, students visit museums and oth-

er events, listen to talks from Fort Bend County experts and learn about schools and other opportunities across the county, according to a lesson plan. “They’ve put a lot of effort into the design of the course,” Lee said. “It lets us know more about Fort Bend. We really get out and interact with society.” Longtime county residents Jeffrey Hoffman

and Margo Pasko are the joint leaders of the class, which is taught in the English language, held at the literacy council building at 12530 Emily Court in Sugar Land and available to those who pay an annual registration fee to the council. Most of the students are originally from countries in Asia and South America. The first seeds of the class were planted

about 10 years ago, when Pasko worked for a nonprofit organization and had a chance to attend a leadership forum at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, she said. “It was an incredible experience,” she said. Fast-forward several years later, and Hoffman was teaching a group of


Young Hurricanes in first state quarterfinal since 2011 By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

When first-year Hightower head coach Cornelius Anthony arrived in April, he figured his team might be in for a rebuilding year, having just graduated 39 seniors - including at least eight starters - from a team that reached the regional semifinals in 2020. What seemed less likely was that the Hurricanes would find themselves playing with a chance to win a trip

to the state semifinals just a few months later. Eight sophomores start each game for Hightower on both sides of the ball, including their starting quarterback and running back. But Anthony and his team have ridden a wave of largely unprecedented success this season, and they’re going to ride it until it crashes. The Hurricanes defeated Manvel for the second time this season last Friday, taking down the Mavericks by a score of 31-21 at Hall Stadium to reach the state

Hightower cornerback Ephraim Dotson (pictured) is one of eight combined sophomore starters for the young Hurricanes. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann)

quarterfinals for the first time since 2011. “I really thought this would be a rebuilding year – especially after not being able to go through a spring or offseason ball,” said Anthony, an Elkins High School



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New boxing, fitness gym opening in Richmond next year By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

A gym utilizing the training techniques of one of the most wellknown boxers is making its way to Fort Bend County next year. Los Angeles-based Mayweather Boxing + Fitness announced Nov. 23 that the gym is planning to open a facility at 22377 Bellaire Blvd. in Richmond in early 2022. A news release from the gym said Mayweather Boxing + Fitness utilizes methods devel-

Mayweather Boxing + Fitness is planning to open a gym at 2237 Bellaire Blvd. in the Richmond area in early 2022. (Photo from Facebook)

oped throughout Floyd Mayweather’s 21-year boxing career. Mayweather developed and designed the innovative fitness experience with a combination of boxing, strength and cardio conditioning intervals approachable to any fitness audience. The Richmond location will be operated by entrepreneur Lisa Welch. “I’ve always been a firm believer in the phrase, health is wealth,” said Welch. “Opening my own Mayweather Boxing + Fitness studio not on-

ly lets me get back to a healthier version of me, but also gives me the chance to operate a business that pushes people to grow to their full potential and produce true community role models.” Members can participate in 45- and 60-minute-long classes that use state-of-the-art smart screen technology to project Floyd’s

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021 • PAGE

Notice of Public Hearing HUD Community Development Block Grant Program Amendments to the PY 2019-2020 Comprehensive Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER)

Diversity in business, life key to future of Fort Bend Reading through the pages of this edition of the Fort Bend Star, it’s easy to come away with a feeling for the size, scope and ambition of Fort Bend County these days. Work is progressing in Stafford on a $19 million industrial project. Out in Richmond, a brand new 850,000-square foot Amazon fulfillment facility just opened that will employ more than 1,000 people. Business is booming in Fort Bend County, and the good news isn’t contained to just one edition of the newspaper, either. In recent weeks, we’ve written about a local small business that won big on television’s "Shark Tank," and work beginning on the massive $120 million EpiCenter special events venue and solar projects galore, just to name a few of the headlines. All of these endeavors are well worth celebrating. Fort Bend County is on the cutting edge of places anywhere in this country, and we need the jobs and business to help keep it that way for years to come. One need only look at the sections of our paper online – community, culture, education and business and real estate, among others – to recognize the importance we place on business across the county. But to borrow the theme from another story on our front page this week, I would ask readers to not forget the importance of diversity in Fort Bend County, in every sense of the word. Earlier this year, we wrote an in-depth story about the state of Stafford’s finances. Long heralded by elected leaders, included late Mayor Leonard Scarcella, as an unprecedented American success story, a growing number of people have begun calling for a serious review of the city’s no property tax policy, citing a troubled economic forecast. I’ve covered cities of


many different sizes and shapes during my time as a journalist and gotten to interview city planners as a result. The almost-constant refrain I’ve heard during that time is that variety is the spice of life, and a successful city. This isn’t a criticism unique to just one municipality, either. Many cities across the country struggle to diversify their tax base, to both extremes of the spectrum. Some municipalities get stuck as bedroom communities, and force a bigger and bigger tax burden on the residents themselves. And zero property taxes might make for a shiny tagline, and a legitimate draw for tax-weary prospective residents, but the concept only works when business is good. As the pandemic and its associated business closures across the country laid bare, it’s hard to balance a budget when you are wholly dependent on sales tax revenues from nonexistent sales. Other Texas cities without a property tax haven’t fared so well in recent months. Kemah, a tourist destination nestled on the western side of the Bay of Galveston, is largely dependent on sales and beverage taxes to fund its operations, with more than 85 percent of its

annual revenues coming through those funds, according to a Galveston County Daily News article. In response to dire projections early in the pandemic after bars, shops and other businesses closed shop, the Kemah city council made significant cuts to their budget, furloughing several employees and leaving other staff positions vacant, according to the article. In conversations with elected officials across Fort Bend County in recent weeks, I’ve heard from several people now that the region suffers from a lack of housing. It’s hardlya problem unique to this county, or even the region, but it’s an issue well worth focusing on. The website realtor. com recently released a report that found, based on the number of U.S. citizens seeking a home, the country would need an additional 5.2 million more homes to fully meet demand, according to a USA Today article from September. Fort Bend County has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and emerged to become one of the flagpoles of what America might one day look like – a melting pot of cultures and ideas. That diversity is our greatest asset, and it’s something we should keep in mind as we move forward into 2022 and beyond. By all means, celebrate the business success that’s happened across Fort Bend County in recent weeks. But then ask yourselves, “What comes next?”

The City of Missouri City will hold a public hearing to give all Missouri City residents an opportunity to voice opinions on the City’s PY 2020-2021 Comprehensive Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). All attendees are invited to speak on the subject of the CAPER at the public hearing on: Monday, December 20, 2021 7:00 PM City of Missouri City City Hall Council Chamber 1522 Texas Parkway Missouri City, Texas The CAPER will be available to view on the City’s Website beginning on December 1, 2021. A presentation of the CAPER will be conducted at the City of Missouri City Council Meeting on December 20, 2021 at 7:00pm at the address above. Residents may also send comments on or before December 30, 2021 to the City of Missouri City’s Development Services Department at 1522 Texas Parkway, Missouri City, TX 77489 (Attention: Ami Moore). Residents may fax their comments to the City at (281) 403-8962. CDBG Program Background The national objective of the CDBG program is to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities principally for low and moderate-income persons. At least 80% of CDBG funds must be used for activities that benefit low and moderate-income persons. CDBG goals include: 1. Improving the urban environment in low and moderate income areas; 2. Eliminating blighting influences and the deterioration of property, neighborhoods and public facilities in low and moderate-income areas; and 3. Ensuring decent, safe, sanitary housing for low and moderate-income residents. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to the following: public facility construction and improvements; handicap accessibility; operational funding for non-profit agencies servicing primarily low income persons; rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing; housing development assistance, enforcement of City codes; clearance and demolition; infrastructure improvements; and, business development and job creation activities. Note: In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, this facility is wheelchair accessible and accessible parking spaces are available. Requests for special accommodations or interpretive services must be made at least 48 hours prior to this meeting. Please contact the Planning Department at 281-403-8541 or by FAX 281-208-8962.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS STAFFORD MUNICIPAL SCHOOL DISTRICT’S State Financial Accountability Rating Stafford MSD will hold a public meeting at 6:30pm, December 13, 2021 in the Board Room, Administration Bldg 1633 Staffordshire Road Stafford, TX 77477 The purpose of this meeting is to discuss Stafford MSD’s rating on the state’s financial accountability system.

Aviso de Audiencia Pública Programa de Donativos en Bloque para el Desarrollo Comunitario de HUD Modificaciones en PY 2020-2021 el Rendimiento Integral Anual y el Informe de Evaluación (CAPER) La ciudad de Missouri celebrará la audiencia pública para dar a todos los residentes de la ciudad de Missouri una oportunidad de comentar sobre la ciudad PY 2020-2021 el Rendimiento Integral Anual y el Informe de Evaluación (CAPER). Están todos invitados a hablar sobre el tema del CAPER en la audiencia pública: Lunes, 20 de Diciembre, 2021 7:00 PM Ciudad de Missouri Cámara de Consejo del Ayuntamiento 1522 Texas Parkway Missouri City, Texas El CAPER estará disponible en el sitio web de la ciudad a partir del 1 de diciembre de 2021. Una presentación del CAPER se realizará en la Reunión Consejo de Ciudad de Missouri el 20 de Diciembre, 2021 a las 7:00 pm en la dirección anteriormente mencionada. Los residentes también pueden enviar comentarios a la fecha de 30 de Diciembre, 2021 o antes, al Departamento de Servicios de Desarrollo de la Ciudad de Missouri el Departamento está en 1522 Texas Parkway, Missouri City, TX 77489 (Atención: Ami Moore). Los residentes pueden enviar sus comentarios por fax al (281) 403 8962. Historia del Programa CDBG El objetivo nacional del programa CDBG es desarrollar comunidades urbanas viables proporcionando vivienda, un entorno de vida adecuado y ampliar las oportunidades económicas, principalmente para personas de ingresos bajas y moderadas. Por lo menos el 80 % del fondo CDBG ha de usarse para las actividades que beneficien a las personas del ingreso moderado. Los objectivos de CDBG incluyen: 1. Mejorar el entorno urbano en áreas de ingresos bajos y moderados; 2. Eliminación de influencias infortunadas y el deterioro de inmuebles, barrios y equipamientos públicos en las áreas de ingresos bajas y moderadas; y 3. Asegurar la vivienda decente, segura y sanitaria para los residentes de ingresos bajos y moderados. Actividades elegibles incluyen, pero no se limitan a lo siguiente: la construcción de instalaciones públicas y mejoras; la accesibilidad para discapacitados; operaciones de financiación para las agencias sin fines de lucro de servicios a principalmente personas de bajos ingresos; la rehabilitación de viviendas ocupadas por sus propietarios; asistencia para el desarrollo de vivienda, aplicación de códigos de la Ciudad; la remoción y la demolición; las mejoras en la infraestructura; y las actividades desarrollo y el trabajo de creación. Nota: En cumplimiento de la ley Estadounidense con las Discapacidades, esta instalación es accesible por las sillas de ruedas y dispone de aparcamiento accesible. Solicitudes de servicios especiales o servicios de interpretación deben hacerse al menos 48 horas antes de esta reunión. Por favor, póngase en contacto con el Departamento de Planeación al 281-403-8541 o por FAX 281-208-8962.

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HERITAGE BAPTIST CHURCH • 281-403-4994 2223 FM1092 • Missouri City, TX 77459 John Strader , Senior Pastor Sunday Bible Study 9:30 am Sunday Worship 10:45 am 6:00 pm Wednesday 7:00 pm AWANA/Youth www.hbctx.org


STAFFORD CHURCH OF CHRIST • 281-499-2507 402 Stafford Run Rd. -Stafford, 77477 SUNDAY: Worship: 10:30 a.m. www.staffordchurchofchrist.org





A United Methodist Community 3300 Austin Parkway • Sugar Land, TX 77479 Sunday Schedule 8:30 am Blended Worship 9:30 am Sunday School for all ages 10:30 am Traditional & Contemporary Worship www.christchurchsl.org

502 Eldridge Road, Sugar Land, TX 77478 Reverend Dr. Fred Seay, Pastor Sunday Worship In Person 11:00 am / Nursery Available Worship Online on YouTube www.fpcsl.org


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PAGE 4 • Wednesday, December 1, 2021

See us online www.FortBendStar.com

Fort Bend County Judge KP George, third from right, stands with representatives from the county and Comcast. Comcast announced on Nov. 23 that 100 businesses around the country, including 13 in Fort Bend County, had received Comcast RISE business grants. (Photo courtesy of Comcast)

Fort Bend County businesses get Comcast grants By Landan Kuhlmann LKUHLMANN@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

More than a dozen Fort Bend County businesses recently received grant assistance to help with serving their customers as the recover from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 23, Comcast announced more than 100 recipients of the second round of Comcast RISE Investment Fund grants, which included 13 Fort Bend County businesses. Each recipient was given $10,000 as well as technology and marketing resources, according to a news release from Comcast. “Many of our business owners, particularly our minority owned businesses, have faced unprecedented challenges over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and require a

wide range of support to help their businesses survive,” County Judge KP George said. “(This grant) provides these business owners with the critical financial lifeline and the resources needed so they can sustain and grow their businesses.” Area businesses receiving the grant were: • American Primary Home Care • Aurum Legacy Group • Emergent Business Solutions • Farzan Ventures • Groove Music School •Intensity Fitness • Karis Med Medical Group • Kolor My Kanvas • PFBR Learning Academy • Saladin Investments • Sugar Land Family Dentistry • White Orchid Hospice • Zeal 365 Since launching Comcast RISE a year ago,

Comcast Houston regional vice president Ralph Martinez said it has assisted more than 200 small businesses throughout the Houston area with either marketing, technology, or monetary grants. Comcast also announced a major expansion to eligibility on Nov. 23, enabling all women-owned small businesses nationwide to apply. “As we continue to rebuild and emerge from the effects of the pandemic, small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy – and we must take every opportunity to help them thrive,” Comcast President and CEO Dave Watson said. “Looking forward, this expansion will enable Comcast RISE to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses that are the heart of our local communities across the country.”

Groove Music School owner Gonzalo Arjona stands with student Sai Koka. Groove was one of 13 Fort Bend County businesses to receive a Comcast RISE grant on Nov. 23. (Photo courtesy of Comcast)




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Wednesday, December 1, 2021 • PAGE


Johnson paces Knights hoops in split week By Landan Kuhlmann

over Alief Elsik on Nov. 22, while Stephen Connell had 14 points and six rebounds. Jamier Amiel also had a strong game in putting up 15 points, nine rebounds, and six assists along with three steals. Hightower’s Aaron Williams paced the Hurricanes as they went 3-3 during tournament play from Nov. 18-20. He scored 20 or more points on four different occasions, including 28 points in a 61-53 win over Manvel on Nov. 20. Williams is Hightower’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, putting up 19 points and nearly five rebounds per contest.


Elkins junior point guard Chris Johnson is one of the area’s best high school basketball players, and he is showing why early in the season. Johnson paced the Knights with 23 points and four rebounds in a 7056 loss to Clear Brook on Nov. 24 in the Hoopsgiving Classic at Houston Christian High School. He also had 23 points in a 66-56 win over Cy Creek on Nov. 23, while Jackson Fields (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Kristopher Barnett (12 points, 14 rebounds) also had double-doubles against Cy Creek. The junior Johnson – who has 11 Division I college offers – also recently revealed on Twitter that he has narrowed his college choices to Houston, Texas, Georgia, LSU, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas A&M. For the season, Johnson is averaging nearly 21 points per game along with four rebounds and four assists for a Knights squad that was 6-3 heading into Tuesday’s game against Kingwood. He has scored at least 20 points in seven of Elkins’ nine games so far

Elkins' Chris Johnson dribbles the ball up the court during a 2020 game against Bush at Hopson Field House in Missouri City. Johnson is averaging better than 20 points per game for the Knights so far this season. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann) Other standout boys performances Six players scored in double digits for the Austin Bulldogs in a 67-48 win over the Kempner Cougars, though senior Brian Anunne stole the show in

posting a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Junior Michael Baynes also had a solid game with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Josh Ogunleye blocked three shots. Anunne also had a double-double with

12 points and 12 rebounds in a 73-54 loss against Dekaney on Friday, while Davion Johnson had 17 points. T.J. Ford Jr. had 26 points and seven rebounds for the Ridge Point Panthers in a 76-70 victory

★ HURRICANES FROM PAGE 1 graduate who spent the previous four seasons as Rosenberg Terry’s head coach. “But being a man of faith, I trusted in God that he was going to work everything out. He uses situations like this to demonstrate his power and might as far as a team that nobody expected to be successful. If you have faith in him and trust in him, anything is possible – and that’s our story.” It was also a bit of playoff payback for the Hurricanes, who lost to Manvel in the regional semifinal round last season. Hightower (11-2) will square off with district rival Katy Paetow (12-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Rice Stadium. The Hurricanes will be looking to avenge their only district loss of the season as the Panthers dealt them a 55-7 blowout at Rhodes Stadium in Katy on Oct. 21. And Anthony knows his team’s hands will be full. “Paetow is a juggernaut," he said. "They’re big, strong, physical, athletic and fast. They’re disciplined, wellcoached. My guys know that, and they respect them. That’s the thing I can honestly say going into this game compared to the first game – they truly respect it, and because of that I think the level of intensity and focus this week is going to be at an all-time high.” From the ground up With Anthony just being hired in April, he was already at a theoretical disadvantage. Add in the 39 graduated seniors plus several players transferring and how young the team was as a whole,

Hightower's defensive line lines up for a play last Friday against Manvel. The Hurricanes face Katy Paetow in a Class 5A state quarterfinal this Friday. (Photo by Landan Kuhlmann) and he said any type of success looked like a daunting task. But Anthony said his young team has taken those odds and that adversity in stride all season and have struck down most every challenge, including in Friday’s win. Sophomore quarterback K.J. Penson (2,259 yards) paced District 10-5A in passing, while sophomore running back Jeremy Payne was second in the district with 900 rushing yards in the regular season. Two of the team’s top four sack leaders on defense – Robert Staten and Dailon Ellis – are sophomores. However, it’s also a team led by a group of seniors such as linebackers Julian Payne and Cameron Bradford as well as receivers Caleb Douglas and Kaleb Johnson. Julian Payne has 36 tackles and seven tackles for loss (including a sack) in three playoff games, while Bradford had three tackles for loss on Friday. Douglas and Johnson combined for

177 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Manvel, while Penson threw for three touchdowns and Ellis had a game-sealing sack late in the fourth quarter. “You can still see (the young players) make sophomore mistakes. But with that said, the seniors have done a great job of taking them in and showing them the ropes,” Anthony said. “The team in general has bought into the culture that we have been hard at work in implementing, and what you’re seeing is a product of that. … That’s why they rally behind each other and they’re so close. When things go wrong, they don’t turn on each other.” Jeremy Payne in particular has followed up his stellar regular season with a postseason run for the ages, amassing more than 600 yards and six touchdowns in three playoff games. After never reaching the 200-yard mark in the regular season, he has done so in each playoff game.

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His 225-yard performance on Friday included a 92-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Hurricanes their first lead, from which

Girls The Austin Lady Bulldogs are off to a scorching 10-2 start entering play this week, and much of that is on the back of freshman Andrea Sturdivant. She poured in 28 points in Austin’s 49-45 victory over Hightower on Nov. 20 – her fifth 20-point performance in a season during which she is averaging 20.3 points per game. She also had 18 points and seven rebounds in a 79-18 win over Marshall on Nov. 23, while Gabby Johnson had they would not look back. And that success is no surprise to Anthony and the Hurricanes. “No matter where we’re at on the field, when he touches the ball, (he has a mindset that) he’s going to score," Anthony said. "We could be (practicing) on the opposite 10-yard line just going through plays, and someone else has to go in or we’re going to have to wait for him to jog back. He is going to score no matter where we are. In his mind, every time he touches the ball, it’s his opportunity to score. … He’s reaping the harvest of that hard work that he’s put in throughout the year.” Playing on faith Anthony said his team and coaching staff are built on the pillars of faith, culture, excellence and family. And he said each

19 points and seven steals. Dulles’ Lady Vikings went 4-1 at the Fort Bend ISD tournament from Nov. 18-21, led by star guard Nya Threatt. Threatt played in four of the five games of the tournament, averaging 19 points, 4 assists and 5 steals. Dai Dai Powell had 13 points, 11 steals, and four assists in a 74-26 win over Marshall on Nov. 18, then grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked two shots Nov. 19 in a 51-41 win over Clear Creek. Taylor Gerard had six blocks against Clear Creek. Sophomore Madison Bob led the Hightower Lady Hurricanes with 18 points in a 77-15 win over Willowridge to begin district play, while Jaya Johnson with 13 points. Johnson also had 13 points in a 42-41 overtime win against Bush on Saturday, as did A’leah Franklin. Kelechi Uchem was the standout for the Kempner Lady Cougars in their 3730 loss to Angleton on Nov. 22, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Abrielle Grissett had nine points in a 49-28 loss to Travis on Nov. 20, while Christa Jones had nine rebounds. one of those components is going to be necessary in order to defeat the Panthers on Friday. The Hurricanes will attempt to reach the state semifinals for the first time since 2011, when they lost to Southlake Carroll in the state championship game. It is pressure-inducing, Anthony said. But he said his team is just going to ride the momentum until the wheels fall off. “They’re absolutely going to get our best, because we know they’re going to get their best," he said. "Our kids are fired up about it, but they know we have our hands full with this team. …. If God sees fit for us to win this game, we’ll know that he’s definitely in charge and in control of this season, because they’re a great team. No doubt about it.”

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PAGE 6 • Wednesday, December 1, 2021

See us online www.FortBendStar.com

FBISD bond security projects nearing completion will be completed on projects such as the installation of special education security cameras, enhanced classroom door locks, impact resistant window film and fencing; and the purchase of police vehicles according to the district.


Fort Bend ISD said Nov. 29 that improvements made possible by a 2018 bond approval are nearing completion. In the coming months, work

The district said the scope of the work has included installing 364 security cameras in special education classrooms throughout the district, as well as more than 7,300 floormounted door locks in all classrooms that contain students to give an added layer of security by keeping those inside the classroom safe from outside threats. Also among the projects was installing fencing surrounding all portable classrooms at FBISD's elementary school campuses and buying



48 new police cars to replace outdated and non-functioning police vehicles and alarm technician vehicles. Voters approved $14.9 million in safety and security upgrades in 2018, the district said, a bond package which also allocated $403.4 million for new construction, rebuilds and additions, including the renovation of a 28,000-square foot facility to house the district’s police department. Follow us on social media @ FortBendStar

Fort Bend ISD used funds from the 2018 bond package to purchase 48 new vehicles to replace outdated and non-functioning police vehicles and alarm technician vehicles. (Contributed photo)

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“On the 25th day of October 2021, Letters of Administration upon the Estate of Leo Reinier Tjon-Joe-Pin, Deceased, were issued to Robert Tjon-Joe-Pin, Independent Administrator, by the Fort Bend County Court at Law No. 3, in cause number 20-CPR-034327, pending upon the docket of said Court. All persons having claims against said Estate are hereby required to present them within the time prescribed by law at the address shown below. The name where claims may be sent is: J. Shannon Cavers, whose address is 1800 Saint James Place, Suite 620, Houston, Texas 77056; telephone: (713) 600-1717; fax: (713) 600-1718; Texas Bar No. 24045633.”

Notice is hereby given that the Letters of Independent Administration for the Estate of Annette Schwab, Deceased were issued on the November 18, 2021, under Docket Number 21-CPR-036224, pending in the Probate Court No. 3 of Fort Bend County, Texas. All persons having claims against this Estate which is currently being administered are required to present them to Susan Walker Independent Executrix C/O Sherry Angelo Attorney At Law within the time and in the manner prescribed by law. Sherry B. Angelo, Attorney at Law, 1106 Vista Creek Drive, Sugar Land, Texas 77478.

Public Notice As required by 40 CFR 403.8(f)(2)(viii), Fort Bend County Water Control & Improvement District No. 2 is publishing the following list of those Significant Industrial Users (SIUs) that are in significant noncompliance with applicable pretreatment requirements: Emerson Automated Solutions and Durable Printed Products. No environmental harm was caused by the noncompliance.








See us online www.FortBendStar.com

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 • PAGE


Golem’s Gate haven for role-play gamers in Stafford Stefan Modrich See Fortbendstar.com for related video


I’ve always been a big fan of board and card games, having engaged in many spirited rounds of Uno, Sorry, Phase 10, Cards Against Humanity and more. In my childhood, I even briefly dabbled in the popular Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh trading card games. But since I’ve lived in Texas, I’ve been able to meet new friends who have exposed me to new things, namely, Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve long known of this tabletop role-playing game, but I never gave it much thought until recently. I’m glad I was able to venture out of my comfort zone to find that playing D&D, as it is commonly known among its community of millions of players worldwide, was an adventure well worth indulging. Through the website meetup.com, I discovered Tama Keller, owner of Golem’s Gate Gaming & Geekdom at 4645 S. Main St. in Stafford, and frequent collaborator John-Mark Keel. Keller said she learned to play at age 12 with her older brother and has since passed on the love of role playing board games to her son Jason, who is now a

★ LEARN FROM PAGE 1 students at the literacy council a class on public speaking, and was talking about the fact many students seemed to have maxed out their curriculum at the council, they explained. “Jeff then reminded me about the leadership class I attended, and asked what if we did something like that,” Pasko said. Hoffman and Pasko then sought out the approval of the chamber and got to work tailoring a syllabus to a class each week, rather than one class per month, as the chamber’s leadership forum was, they said. The couple changed

★ STAFFORD FROM PAGE 1 Boulevard in Stafford, according to the company’s website. The company’s website also lists another ongoing construction project,

★ I-45 FROM PAGE 1 of Transportation (TxDOT) has been advancing a controversial $7 billion project that would widen Interstate 45 from downtown north to Beltway 8 in Houston in an effort to improve traffic flow, hurricane evacuation routes and stormwater drainage, along with accommodating high-occupancy, electric and self-driving vehicles, according to The Leader. The project has drawn the ire of activists such as those with the Stop TxDOT I-45 group as well as Harris County, which sued TxDOT over the plan in March. Opponents argue the freeway expansion would increase pollution and flooding risks, worsen traffic congestion and displace more than 1,000 homes and businesses in low-income communities of color. The ongoing dispute over the project has even drawn the attention to the

can purchase a membership that allows access to a separate collection of figurines, maps, and games. For $7.50, you can access a fully-stocked painting station to paint your own figurines or characters. The store also has a 3D printer that can print out a design for a player after they’ve used a popular web-based platform like heroforge.com, for example. There are also more conventional board games that are available in the board game library. Keel set me up with a pre-generated character and walked me through the basic rules of the game and the process of custom-building a character, choosing from mental and physical attributes, skills and purposes. I selected an Elf-Ranger, and my skills included archery and navigation, among others. Keel, the dungeon master, or administrator of the game, led us on an adventure to a mythical city where we were tasked with protecting an ambassador who had been trapped in the midst of civil unrest. We were to provide her safe passage to her homeland and fend off demons

Golem’s Gate Gaming & Geekdom at 4645 S. Main St. in Stafford frequently hosts roleplayer gaming sessions like this gathering Nov. 22, an introduction to Dungeons & Dragons. (Photo by Stefan Modrich)

college student. The name Golem’s Gate, I learned, is not a reference to Lord of the Rings. Rather, it is a nod to one of Jason’s favorite elements of the game when he was learning to play as a child. A golem, in the D&D universe, is a magical construct, a monster that can be made of flesh or clay and is controlled in D&D by a wizard or cleric. She said she used to drive nearly 90 minutes to play D&D at a store north of Houston, before opening up her own business in 2017 when she saw there was a market for such a place in Fort Bend County,

particularly among Sugar Land and Missouri City residents. “Tama and Jason have created a definite community of roleplayers that you will not find anywhere else,” Keel said. “I've been in a lot of places and you will not find anything like this at all.” The store hosts “Intro to D&D” nights four nights per week, along with an “Adventurer’s League” for beginners. Golem’s Gate also hosts other popular tabletop game nights featuring Cyberpunk and Pathfinder and even a Star Wars role-player game that meets on Fridays.

the focus of the class somewhat, gearing it toward county residents who were recent arrivals, Hoffman said. For instance, in a series of early classes, students made visits to the Fort Bend Museum and the Sugar Land 95 memorial site, according to the syllabus. “The story they tell in the main exhibit at the Fort Bend Museum is about the immigrant experience in Fort Bend County,” Hoffman said. “How the county, I think in particular, from its very roots 200 years ago has been the story of groups of immigrants coming here and fitting in to what is already here. What we’ve tried to do, from the very be-

ginning, is make sure our students understand they have a place here. That they’re just the latest wave of immigrants in the county’s history.” But more than just the historical visits and cultural understanding of the county, students like Lee said they most benefit from learning about the specifics of life across the county - from how cities make decisions to where they can turn for information on a topic. “This class is really about connecting us with society,” she said. The Fort Bend Star at a Nov. 17 meeting, for instance, spoke about the role of local journalism in the community – a talk at which several

called Weatherford Farms, on Murphy Road in Stafford. That project will construct more than 568,000 square feet of industrial development, according to the website. Because the developers haven’t yet finished U.S. Federal Highway Administration, which has asked TxDOT to halt progress on the project over civil rights concerns. Stop TxDot I-45’s accusations against Zimmerman come as the latest salvo in the ongoing controversy surrounding the project. The group’s claims center around Zimmerman’s position on the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Committee, which activists argue is unethical because he works for Halff Associates. “Through his connections to his private employer, Halff Associates, Inc., Mayor Joe Zimmerman of Sugar Land has maintained conflicts of interest that violate multiple codes of ethics and undermine the TPC’s necessary impartiality in managing federal transportation funds,” according to the letter. Officials with the TxDOT referred questions about the project to the

As Keller explained to me, the games cost $3 per hour, half of which is paid out as a table fee, and the remaining amount is paid out in store credit to the game master (or dungeon master in the case of D&D) to incentivize them to purchase books and games and other equipment from Golem’s Gate. It’s up to the (game masters), they kind of drive it with whatever they want to run,” she said. “We let them give it a chance. If it keeps running great, if it fizzles out, they try the next thing to find whatever works for them.” For $25 per month, you

and many other foul creatures that impeded our progress by rolling dice to either do damage to opponents or perform a defensive “saving roll” to counter an attack on one of us or the other players in our party. I enjoyed Keel’s storytelling and the patience with which he shepherded several new players through the complex game. The imaginative and enterprising nature of our crew to solve problems and challenges throughout the game was evident, and it seemed each player chose a character that was emblematic of their real-life personalities. I felt Keel and Keller both created an inviting atmosphere that was accommodating to both the new and experienced players in our game and the games happening concurrently at other tables at the store. “A lot of people are very intimidated by it,” Keller said. “We wanted to make it very easy for people to find out what D&D is all about.” For more information on upcoming events, visit meetup.com/ GolemsGate/ or call 281265-6050.

students said it was their first time interacting with a journalist. And other organizations with planned talks during the

class included nonprofit organizations, school leaders, representatives for local hospitals and some elected leaders,

among others. “Our hope is that the students will become Fort Bend civic ambassadors within their own cultural communities,” Pasko said. “We have such a vibrant community of immigrants and we want to give them the tools to find the answers and seek information to address issues.” Whether or not the class continues beyond this year will depend, at least in part, on feedback from students, Pasko and Hoffman said. But early returns so far show the students have been pleased with what they’ve seen. “This class has really encouraged me to get out and try to do more things,” Lee said.

the project or leased the space, it’s not yet clear what it might mean for Stafford’s municipal budget, Luttenschlager said. Stafford, in contrast to most cities in Texas, abolished its property tax in 1995 and is heav-

ily reliant on sales tax revenues to fund municipal operations. Sales tax revenues, for instance, were tabbed to account for $10 million of the city’s budgeted $26.7 million in general fund revenues for 2020-21, or

about 37 percent. A drive across the city’s boundaries shows a bevy of warehouses have sprung up, some drawn by the lack of

property taxes. Luttenschlager did not respond to a question asking when construction would end on the new development.

council and Zimmerman. Representatives with the Houston-Galveston Area Council on Monday said they were looking into claims made by the group and would be responding shortly. Zimmerman, however, called the accusations “poppycock” and said they were just a convenient way for the activists to try to thwart the project. “We work with TxDOT to take federal transportation dollars and state transportation dollars and program them into projects important for the region,” Zimmerman said. “You’re looking for projects that could broadly improve congestion and evacuation routes for the region – projects where there have been a high number of deaths and accidents. And the I-45 project meets that. It’s a huge safety concern.” Furthermore, the transportation committee holds no role in awarding construction contracts, Zimmerman said. By

choosing to support the expansion project, Zimmerman isn’t advocating or in a position to decide who gets a contract. The state lays out guidelines on how to award construction contracts, Zimmerman said. “Advancing this project in no way impacts Halff favorably or unfavorably,” he said. “I’m serving the city of Sugar Land. If Halff wants to pursue a contract, I’m not a transportation engineer. I’m not involved in that side.” Despite Zimmerman’s assurance that he hasn’t violated any city or council guidelines, he told the Star that he asked the Sugar Land city attorney to examine the city’s ethics policy to make sure he hasn’t violated any of it and that the HoustonGalveston Area Council is conducting an internal investigation to make sure he is fully compliant with the group’s ethics policy. “We want to make sure we’re always transparent,” Zimmerman said.

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The "Culture Shock" class takes place weekly at the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County building. (Photo from Facebook)

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PAGE 8 • Wednesday, December 1, 2021

See us online www.FortBendStar.com

Review: BFW Pizza serves up wholesome pies in Sugar Land By Stefan Modrich SMODRICH@FORTBENDSTAR.COM

Pizza is an interesting case study in the evolution of consumer tastes. You can surely still get your basic assembly-line frozen pizzas and hot-and-ready fast-food varieties, but just wandering through the frozen aisle grocery store aisle is a vastly different experience than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Restaurants are not exempt from this trend, especially ones that were invented to address a lack of high-quality pizza options in the area like Brick & FireWood Pizza Co. (BFW) in Sugar Land, which debuted in 2019. BFW’s pizzas have a uniquely Texan flair, using brick ovens fueled by mesquite wood that imparts an earthy flavor to the crust. The pizzeria, which only offers delivery and drive-through pick-up options, places an emphasis on using organic ingredients and also lists on its menu the percentage of organic ingredients in terms of the weight of each pizza. All of the pizzas have at least 56 percent organic ingredients, according to BFW’s online menu. The pizza with the highest concentration of organic ingredients, at 76 percent, is the classico, a pizza topped





The Juicy Crab, 16535 Southwest Fwy. Ste. 201, is set to begin construction Dec. 15. (Photo from Facebook)

Nibbles & Sips:

Atlanta-based seafood restaurant headed to Sugar Land The New York cheese pizza is one of the deliciously simple pies from Brick & FireWood Pizza Co. in Sugar Land. (Photo by Stefan Modrich)

with sliced mozzarella, a handmade plum tomato sauce, sausage, garlic, oregano, asiago and pecorino romano cheese and a garnish of fresh basil. The lowest is the bianca vegeteriano, at 56 percent. It features the same basic ingredients as the classico, but lacks the classico’s garlic and Italian sausage. While BFW’s menu is interesting, and includes a buffalo sauce chicken pizza with jalapenos and other intriguing combinations, sometimes a simple old favorite is sufficient. I was craving a traditional New York-style cheese pizza, which BFW offers in 12-inch ($15.95) and 14-inch ($18.95) sizes.

BFW prepares its New York pizzas with a “ring of fire”, a thin red border of tomato sauce that lines the crust and separates it from the cheese. This may not be a transcendent, game-changing concept, but it did make for a notably different consumption experience that allowed for a more robust taste and variety of textures (the blend of the sauce and crust) when making your way to the last few bites of a slice. And there’s also something pleasurable about being able to taste the oregano and basil and savor the gooey mozzarella in its purest form, unaltered by any other toppings. To do so without the guilt that typically comes

with ordering a pizza because you’re confident that the ingredients have been well-sourced is just a bonus.

BFW Pizza Co.

Address: 16535 Lexington Blvd. Ste. 155, Sugar Land Dining Options: Drivethrough, delivery Hours: 3:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 3:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday Entree prices: $14.95$19.95 Kid-friendly: No Senior discount: No Alcohol: No Healthy options: NY gardenia Star of the show: New York cheese Rating:



A seafood restaurant chain based near Atlanta has its sights set on Sugar Land, according to a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The Juicy Crab, 16535 Southwest Freeway Ste. 201, is set to begin construction Dec. 15 at an estimated cost of $200,000. The site is the former home of a Texas de Brazil steakhouse. The restaurant has two other Houston-area locations and serves New Orleans-style Cajun and Creole seafood staples like crab legs, crawfish, mussels and oysters. The new location’s scheduled completion date is June 30, 2022. For more information, call 832-427-6979. Filipino grocer coming to Sugar Land in 2023 A Chicago-based Asian grocery store has plans to open in Sugar Land.

Seafood City, a Filipino grocer with locations in California, Nevada, Hawaii and Canada, is expected to open in early 2023, according to a TDLR filing. Seafood City is expected to open Feb. 3, 2023 at 15235 Southwest Fwy. and begin its $2.5 million renovation Aug. 1, 2022 on the space that formerly housed a Conn’s HomePlus furniture store. For more information, call 773-295-1658. House of Pies to open in Katy A California-based diner is expanding its reach. House of Pies, which has a location in Los Angeles along with four locations across the Houston area, is opening next year in Katy at 20802 Katy Freeway, according to a TDLR filing. The Katy space was formerly occupied by Newk's Eatery. For more information, call 713-528-3816.

Deadline is noon every Friday. Limit entries to 40 words and answer the “5 Ws” Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Email to jsazma@fortbendstar.com or mail to: Fort Bend Star, 3944 Bluebonnet Drive, Stafford, Texas 77477.


In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the cancellation of several community gatherings, please check with each organization for updated information about the status of their events. DECEMBER 3 HOLIDAY BINGO BASH In support of autism awareness, acceptance, and inclusion, Cabo DogÕ s Lounge & Grill, 7022 Hwy. 6 #100, Missouri City is hosting a BINGO BASH fundraiser to support local nonprofit, Hope For Three AutismAdvocates. From 7:00pm to 10:00pm it’s BINGO madness! Music, great prizes, karaoke, scrumptious food, and more. Visit hopeforthree.org for event details and autism resources. Check out cabodogs.com for daily specials. DECEMBER 4 DRIVE-THRU ORNAMENT PICK-UP COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT Ridgepoint Varsity and Junior Varsity Dance Teams created over 600 handmade ornaments and holiday cards to distribute to autism families and neighbors for their annual community service project. The unique drivethru ornament distribution takes place at Sugar Land Baptist Church, 16755 Southwest Frwy., Sugar Land on Saturday, December 4th from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. First-come-first serve. Stop by and pick up an early Santa delivery! To learn more about Hope For Three volunteer opportunities, programs, resources, and events, visit www.hopeforthree.org DECEMBER 9 FORT BEND-HARRIS RETIRED EDUCATORS MEETING/LUNCHEON ATTENTION: TIME and ROOM CHANGE: Meeting and luncheon Thursday, December 9th, 11 a.m. We will meet in the Great Hall at Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, 431 Eldridge Rd. Program: Women in Spirit selling gifts to support young Girls in Africa; Entertainment: Faith 2 Form (F2F) Music Foundation EXPERIENCE COUNTS! 35+ YEARS SERVING FORT BEND COUNTY 281-243-2344 281.243.2300

14090 S.W. Freeway Suite #200 Sugar Land, TX


Speaker: Vel Lewis, smooth jazz artist currently on the Smooth Top Ten and a F2F founder Arrive earlier to socialize and shop, sign in and pay dues if you haven't. All Fort Bend and Harris County I.S.D. retired public educators are invited. More information, call 713-2062733. DECEMBER 10 THE FORT BEND BOYS CHOIR 40TH ANNIVERSARY CHRISTMAS MUSICALE Friday, December 10, 2021 at 7pm Christ Church Sugar Land, 3300 Austin Parkway. Admission: Adults $18, Children (12 and under) $5. Purchasing Admission online is advised! https://fbbctx. org/product/christmas-musicale-admission/ ONGOING THE FRIENDS OF SIENNA BRANCH LIBRARY'S BOOK SALE is scheduled for December 2-4 at Sienna Branch Library, 8411 Sienna Springs Blvd., Missouri City. Thousands of books for children and adults as well as CDs, audio books, and DVDs are for sale at bargain prices. Most are just $.50-$1.00. Vintage items and book collections are individually priced. Sale times are Thursday, December 2, 6-8 p.m., Friday, December 3, noon-4:00 p.m., and Saturday, December 4, 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Proceeds support library programs for adults and children. For more information friendsofsiennalibrary@yahoo.com JAM WITH SAM Join Sam Grice and his friends every Tuesday Night at 6:30 pm at First Presbyterian Church, 502 Eldridge Road, Sugar Land, Texas. The group plays folk, country, bluegrass, religious and patriotic songs. Call Sam at 832428-3165 or the church office at 281-240-3195 for more information. THURSDAY MORNING BIBLE STUDY FOR MEN Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, 431 Eldridge Road offers a Thursday Morning Bible Study For Men. This group is ongoing and uses a variety of studies throughout the year. The breakfast, coffee and donuts are free. Join us any time! Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 am in

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Wesley Hall. Call the church office at 281-491-6041 or Mike Schofield at 281-217-5799 for more information. SUGAR LAND AMERICAN LEGION American Legion Freeman Post 942 meets the fourth Thursday of every month at the Post facility, 311 Ulrich, Sugar Land, Texas, at 7:00 PM. All veterans are welcome. Post hall is available for rental for events. Call 713-553-5370 if interested. GIVE A GIFT OF HOPE Give a Gift of Hope one-time or monthly. Your help provides access to therapies and services children with autism might otherwise go without. Please consider Hope For Three in your Estate, Planned, or Year-End Giving. Register now, or learn more about exciting events: www.hopeforthree.org/events DVD-BASED ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS WITH NO HOMEWORK REQUIRED Weekly class designed to help you understand and appreciate the Bible by giving you a better sense of the land and culture from which it sprang. The class meets at 9:30 am every Sunday at First Presbyterian of Sugar Land (502 Eldridge Rd.). For more information call 281240-3195 EXCHANGE EXCHANGE, America’s Service Club, always welcomes guests and is in search of new members! Various Fort Bend clubs exist and can accommodate early morning (7 a.m.), noon and evening meeting time desires. For more info, contact Mike Reichek, Regional Vice President, 281-575-1145 or mike@reichekfinancial.com We would love to have you join us and see what we are all about! MISSOURI CITY AARP CHAPTER 3801 Meets the second Monday of every month at 11:30 a.m., at 2701 Cypress Point Dr., Missouri City Rec Center. Lunch, education, and entertainment. All seniors over 50 invited. For more information, call 713-859-5920 or 281-499-3345. BECOME A FOSTER GRANDPARENT Volunteers are needed to be a role model, mentor and friend to children with exceptional needs in the community. Training, mileage reimbursement, tax-free monthly stipend if eligible. Call today to help change the world, one child at a time in Rosenberg. For more information, call 281-344-3515.

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