Georgetown in second-healthiest county in Texas

Williamson is ranked the No. 2 healthiest county among the 242 counties ranked in Texas in the 2018 County Health Rankings, which were released yesterday. Georgetown is the county seat for Williamson County.

The county health rankings are an annual report by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Williamson County was ranked the No. 1 healthiest county in Texas in the 2013 report and 2011 report and the No. 2 healthiest county in Texas in the 2014 report and 2012 report. Williamson has been one of the four healthiest counties in Texas every year since 2011.

The annual ranking is a report card that scores counties on a range of factors including air quality, clean water, community safety, commuting times, educational attainment, employment rates, graduation rates, health behaviors,  health provider ratios, healthcare quality, and longevity.

The annual rankings are based on a variety of data sources such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rankings are available online at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

Downtown parking ambassadors to start

Later this month, two downtown parking ambassadors will start working in the downtown parking zone around the Williamson County Courthouse Square. The primary roles for the part-time City of Georgetown employees will be to provide information to residents and visitors on the Square and enforce the three-hour parking ordinance. The downtown parking ambassadors are expected to start by mid-March.

The downtown parking ambassadors will help to direct visitors to free parking lots in the downtown and also provide directions to restaurants, shops, and government offices. Free parking lots are located at 10th and Main streets, Sixth and Main streets, Seventh and Rock streets, Austin Avenue and Fifth Street, Martin Luther King and Eighth streets, and Martin Luther King and Seventh streets. There is a public four-story parking garage at Fourth and Rock streets. The free parking lots and garage do not have a three-hour limit.

The downtown parking ordinance limits on-street parking in the downtown parking zone (see map) to three hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. The three-hour limit does not apply on Saturday or Sunday. A violation of the ordinance can result in a warning followed by a fine of $20 for a second offense, $50 for the third offense, and $100 for a fourth or subsequent offense.

The goal of the three-hour limit for on-street spaces in the downtown zone is to provide for the turnover of these spaces and increase the periodic availability of spaces in the zone throughout the day. The three-hour limit does not apply to disabled parking spaces in the zone. Residents who live in the downtown zone may apply for a residential parking zone permit.

To find out more about events, shops, restaurants, and attractions in downtown Georgetown, go to visit.georgetown.org or arts.georgetown.org or mainstreet.georgetown.org.

Georgetown Public Library named as finalist for National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the Georgetown Public Library has been named a finalist for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The library is one of 29 finalists named.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 24 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

“Being named a finalist for the IMLS National Medal is truly an honor and community achievement,” Library Director Eric Lashley said. “It is exciting for our staff, volunteers, and community partners to be recognized at the national level for our efforts to engage, enlighten, and empower members of our community.”

The San Antonio Public Library is the only public library in Texas to have won the IMLS National Medal.

“The 29 National Medal finalists showcase the tremendous ability of libraries and museums to serve as vital community resources,” IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew said. “The Institute of Museum and Library Services is honored to recognize these leading institutions. We congratulate them on the work they are doing across the United States.”

Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Georgetown Public Library programs including the WOW!Mobile, the community resources coordinator, arts and culture coordination for the City, art and music programming in the library, children’s and teen programing, and the strong Friends of the Georgetown Public Library organization all helped to make the library stand out from other applications.

IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited the library to share their story on social media. To #ShareYourStory, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS or www.twitter.com/us_imls and use #IMLSmedals.

National Medal winners will be announced later this spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions at the National Medal Ceremony on May 24 in Washington, D.C.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit www.imls.gov.

Georgetown Accepting Proposals to Purchase Downtown Properties

The City of Georgetown is accepting proposals from potential buyers for three city-owned buildings. The buildings for sale are the historic post office at 113 E. Eighth St., the Municipal Court/City Council Chambers at 101 E. Seventh St., and the Visitors Center at 103 W. Seventh St. The Municipal Court and the Visitors Center buildings are located on the historic Square around the Williamson County Courthouse. The historic post office is located one block east of the Square and is currently home to City Hall.

In total, these buildings represent more than 25,000 square feet of commercial space in the nine-block core of downtown Georgetown. All three properties are zoned mixed-use downtown, which allows for a number of uses including office, retail, restaurant, hotel, or event facility.

While purchase price is one consideration, the goal of this process is to connect with buyers willing to provide the best overall proposal for of each property. Proposers must submit a business plan and timeline detailing the intended use of the site.

All three properties are located in the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone or TIRZ. The purpose of the TIRZ is to facilitate the redevelopment of downtown Georgetown, furthering the goals of the city’s Downtown Masterplan to create a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment. Both the TIRZ plan and the Downtown Masterplan call for the use of public property to ensure Georgetown maintains its unique character, maximizes opportunities for thoughtful development, and enhances the quality of life for residents.

Proposals are due by 2 p.m. on May 1. The City will be hosting two open houses for all three properties. The open houses will begin at each building at 4 p.m. on March 1 and March 8.

More information about the process and about each property, including photos, maps, videos, and a virtual tour, is available at realestate.georgetown.org. Visitors to the site also can sign up for regular email updates about the process.

Holt Cat breaks ground on Georgetown facility

Holt Cat, a Caterpillar equipment sales, rental, parts and service dealer, broke ground Jan. 30 on a regional Caterpillar facility at 2101 Airport Road near the intersection of Lakeway Drive and I-35.

The 85,000-square-foot facility is expected to open by summer 2019 and create 130 new jobs with a net benefit to the City of more than $16 million over 10 years.

City Council approved an economic development agreement with the construction equipment company in December that included a rebate of up to $2 million in sales taxes generated by the company over five years if the company meets its expectations. The council also approved a $185,000 Georgetown Economic Development Corp. grant to connect a future wastewater line extension. The line will be able to serve adjacent commercial properties when they develop.

“City council’s vision for Georgetown is ‘a caring community, honoring our past and innovating for the future.’ Businesses like Holt Cat are part of that future,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “Holt’s corporate culture and history of community partnership are a perfect match with Georgetown. We are committed to growing a strong and sustainable commercial corridor, and Holt Cat is a wonderful addition to our business community.”

Before it opens, the company expects to spend a minimum of $20 million in infrastructure and improvements. According to the agreement, the company is expected to have a minimum of $35 million in sales per year starting in the second year of operations through year six.

“Georgetown is one of the fastest-growing cities, not just in Texas, but in the U.S. Investments in construction and infrastructure are driving demand for heavy equipment and services, and with this new location, we can better serve our customers in this region,” said Peter J. Holt, Holt Cat CEO and general manager.

The location will be the company’s largest retail location built in more than 30 years and will be a state-of-the-art facility, said Tony Shedrock, Holt Cat vice president of general services.

Holt Cat expects to hire specialized heavy-equipment mechanics as well as administrative, sales, and marketing positions with an average salary of $48,500.

The San Antonio-based company sells, rents and services Caterpillar machines, engines, generator sets and trucks throughout a 118-county region including South, Central, North, and Northeast Texas.

2018: A Look Ahead

Two years ago, the Census Bureau found that Georgetown was the fastest growing city in the U.S. with a population above 50,000. Last year, we were the fifth-fastest growing city. Knowing that this trend will continue, many more folks will begin to call Georgetown home in 2018.

Thoughtfully managing growth is always a challenge. We are preparing for the growth that we know will come. We’ve tallied it up and with all the road, park, and utility projects currently underway, we have more than $214 million in new projects under construction. Three new water towers are visual markers indicating how we are expanding key infrastructure to match our population growth.

What’s happening in Georgetown in 2018? Here’s a look ahead at some of the big stories to follow this year.

Economic Development

We started off the year with the opening of the new Randalls store on Williams Drive, providing a new option for groceries here in Georgetown. Wolf Crossing, a 250,000 square foot retail development across I-35 from Wolf Ranch is slated to break ground this spring. Just north of Wolf Ranch, Wolf Lakes recently announced their vision for a mixed-use village concept with office, medical, retail, and residential components across their 164 acres.

Another large employer breaking ground is January is Holt Cat. They will build a sales and service center for Caterpillar equipment on Airport Road. We look forward to this $20 million facility in our city that will result in 129 new jobs.

Mobility Improvements

This year we will open the Southwest Bypass, the largest road project in city history. When completed, the bypass will provide an important new loop on the south and west sides of the city. The City will also begin work on the Rivery Blvd extension and Northwest Blvd bridge overpass.

Solar Power Starts

This summer, Georgetown will begin receiving power from a 150-megawatt solar facility in West Texas. When that happens, Georgetown will become one of the few cities in the U.S. with 100 percent wind and solar power sources.

Garey Park and San Gabriel Park

Later this year we look forward to the opening of the 525-acre Garey Park.  When it opens, Garey Park will feature picnic areas, hiking and horse-riding trails, an equestrian center, and the Garey House event center. In addition, we will be completing the first phase of renovations to San Gabriel Park and starting on the second phase of work, which will include a new trail segment from the park to the Katy Crossing neighborhood.

Public Safety

Work will begin soon on Fire Station 6, located on Williams Drive at FM 3405. The new station will help with fire and medical response times on the northwest side of the city. Work also is beginning this year for Fire Station 7, which will be on the east side of the city on University Avenue at Inner Loop.

New City Hall and Municipal Court

After breaking ground in November, renovations are now underway for the new City Hall and the Council Chambers and Municipal Court building. These projects will consolidate key city offices into one downtown campus. The project should be complete by the end of 2018.

Last year, the Georgetown City Council confirmed a new vision statement for the city. “Georgetown: A caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future.”

This period of incredible growth and vitality is laying the foundation for the future that our children and grandchildren will inherit. Great things are in store for Georgetown. If we keep honoring our past and innovating for the future, I think Georgetown residents will look back fifty years from now and thank us for a job well done.

Update on City facilities and services

The Recreation Center is opening at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Texas Disposal Systems is picking up trash and recycling on the normal schedule on Tuesday. There is no GoGeo bus service in Georgetown on Tuesday. Other City of Georgetown offices and facilities are open normal hours on Tuesday.

Council sets vision, goals, and strategies for Georgetown

The Georgetown City Council confirmed a new vision statement for the city, as well as five goals and nine strategies to support that vision, during its policy workshop yesterday.

“Georgetown: A caring community honoring our past and innovating for the future” was approved as the new vision statement to express the city’s identity and aspirations. The vision statement was developed by the City Council in goal setting meetings Nov. 1-2. Ideas and input for the vision statement came from residents in two community surveys conducted in September and October. The vision statement helps to align the community’s future direction and serves as a building block for updating the City’s comprehensive plan, future branding initiatives, and City Council goal-setting.

In addition to approving the vision statement, the City Council set five goals and nine strategies to advance those goals at their meeting yesterday.

Council goals

The City Council affirmed five broad goals in support of the overall vision for Georgetown. Those goals, which create a framework for all facets of city operations, include the following:

Cultural: Georgetown is a truly diverse, vibrant, innovative, inclusive, and socially dynamic city where everyone has the opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, our economic, political, and social activities.

Employee: Our outstanding City employees work diligently to bring the vision of council to life and deliver exceptional services to our customers while exemplifying our Core Values.

Internal Business Processes: Our policies and procedures are easy to understand and consistently and professionally applied. Our internal processes are effective, efficient, fair, inventive, and transparent and make us a desired destination for residents and businesses.

Customer: Anyone interacting with the City will have such a positive experience that they will tell everyone about it.

Financial: We maintain a fiscal environment conducive to attaining the goals of the City.

Council strategies

In support of broad goals and the overall mission, the City Council also developed nine strategies to advance the vision and goals. The nine strategies represent a refinement of 14 strategies set by the council in 2015, several of which have been fully accomplished. The new list of strategies serve to establish direction for city programs and operations. The strategies include:

1. Become a destination for unique experiences

2. Create a strategy to increase mobility

3. Promote greater diversity in our population and our businesses

4. Create and maintain outstanding aesthetics and a welcoming appearance and spirit

5. Develop an annexation and MUD strategy

6. Monitor, promote, and communicate a long-term water and utilities plan and strategy

7. Expand on our reputation as a City of Innovation

8. Increase our influence with state government

9. Expand our role to develop collaborative strategies with Georgetown ISD, Southwestern University, and other entities

The vision, goals, and strategies approved by the City Council at their meeting last night serve as a starting point for an update to the City’s comprehensive plan, which will begin next year. They also serve as a framework for future projects, programs, budgets, and other initiatives by the City of Georgetown.

“Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution” film screening

The City of Georgetown will hold a free public screening of the new documentary “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution” in the Georgetown Public Library’s Hewlett Room on Monday, Dec. 11. The screening starts at 7 p.m., which is the same time as the premiere of the film on HBO.

In “Happening,” filmmaker Jamie Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the U.S.

The film (rated TV-14) includes an appearance by Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross, who along with Chris Foster of Georgetown Utility Systems, will attend the screening at the library. After the 70-minute film ends, Mayor Ross and Foster will offer remarks and then take questions from the audience about renewable energy and Georgetown’s energy supply.

(Pictured: Director Jamie Redford talks with Mayor Ross in Monument Cafe during the filming of “Happening” in Georgetown in 2015.)

Highlighting innovators and entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, “Happening” follows Redford—grandson of a longtime Chevron worker and son of actor/environmental advocate Robert Redford—on an enlightening cross-country journey to discover the current state of clean energy and see what lies on the horizon.

Find out more about the film and see a trailer at happeningthemovie.com.

Georgetown is included in the film because of the power contracts that will make the City of Georgetown one of the largest municipally-owned utilities in the U.S. to supply its customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy. The long-term agreements also allow Georgetown to provide competitive electric rates and hedge against price volatility for energy produced by fossil fuels.

To learn more about Georgetown’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy, go to gus.georgetown.org/renewable-energy.

New water tower in Sun City

This month the City of Georgetown will begin construction on a new elevated water storage tank, commonly known as a water tower, in Sun City. The new 2 million gallon water tank will be built next to the existing tank that is located adjacent to Sun City Boulevard about 500 feet north of Texas Drive. (A rendering of the new tank is pictured.)

The existing 400,000 gallon water tank was built in 1995 when Sun City was expected to contain 6,500 homes. However, Sun City is now expected to have more than 10,500 homes at final build-out. A larger tank is needed to support the demand from the homes in Sun City and the surrounding area.

The new tank will help regulate and maintain a more consistent water pressure throughout most of Sun City as a result of less fluctuation in the tank’s water level.

The new storage tank will be very similar in design and appearance to the elevated water tank that was recently constructed on D.B. Woods Road at Cedar Breaks Road. It will have a capacity of 2 million gallons and be the same height as the existing tank, which is 165 feet tall. The pedestal section of the tank will be made of steel-reinforced concrete and the bowl section will be fabricated from steel. The new water tank will cost $3.2 million, funded by water utility revenues. Construction is expected to take up to 400 days.

The new water storage tank was designed by Dunham Engineering and will be constructed by CB&I. The contract to construct the tank was a competitive bid approved by the City Council in September. CB&I has constructed more than 400 similar tanks and a total of more than 25,000 elevated water tanks in the company’s 123-year history.

The existing tank will remain in service until the new tank is completed. Shortly after, the existing steel tank will be removed in sections and lowered to the ground via a separate contract.

Construction on the new water storage tank is expected to start in the next two weeks and be completed by early 2019. Construction hours will be limited to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a few times during the construction process when hours will extend beyond those times, such as during the concrete pouring process for the pedestal.