Eric Johnson named Georgetown Public Works director

Eric Johnson was selected to serve as the director of the City of Georgetown’s Public Works Department starting June 28. After a nationwide search, Johnson was chosen from a number of qualified applicants. He started with the City as the capital improvement projects manager in July 2015 and was promoted to facilities director in January 2020.

“Eric has been instrumental in managing several, complex projects successfully, including renovating City Hall and the Council and Courts building and constructing new fire stations,” City Manager David Morgan said. “His expertise in leading teams and bringing people together is what we need to meet the demands of a fast-growing city.”

Johnson is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in construction science. He has more than 20 years of experience in municipal government. He served as assistant transportation manager for the City of Midland, Texas, for eight years before coming to Georgetown. Prior to that, he worked for seven years as the projects and facilities manager for the City of Hurst, Texas. Johnson has professional training in the fundamentals of construction contracts and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He graduated from Leadership Georgetown in 2017.

“Being raised in the area, I finally found my way back home six years ago, and Georgetown has been an amazing community to live, work, and play,” Johnson said. “I am most excited about expanding my capacity with the City of Georgetown to include Public Works and Facilities to help make a daily difference to the residents who love to be here as much as I do. The position of public works director touches every part of this wonderful City, and I look forward to leading an already fantastic group of men and women.”

Johnson will retain many of his responsibilities as facilities director in his new role. Public Works has 48 employees who work in several areas, including streets, signs/signals, drainage, storm management, environmental services, transportation planning, airport, and facilities capital improvement and maintenance. He will provide the City representation for state, regional, and local project development with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and Capital Area Council of Governments. He will also be responsible for the administration, updates to, and enforcement of the City’s Overall Transportation Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, Airport Master Plan, and Solid Waste Master Plan.

Feedback needed to improve watershed protection

The City is seeking feedback from the community regarding general knowledge of the natural waterway systems and the programs the City of Georgetown provides to protect those systems. The results will be used to develop or improve education materials and programs residents can use to help protect water quality.

“Our waterways, like Lake Georgetown and the San Gabriel River, aren’t just great recreation spots,” Georgetown stormwater management coordinator Tiffany Spicer said. “They also serve as homes to hundreds of species and provide drinking water from, through and to Georgetown and other communities in the area. It’s important we know people’s understanding of these systems, their impacts, and our programs, so we can work together to protect these critical resources.”

Take the survey here before it closes Friday, July 16.

The City of Georgetown has a Storm Water Management Program as required by state and federal regulations. The program describes the steps required to reduce pollutants in the City’s storm water. The City’s existing programs and activities are designed to protect the environment and water quality. The survey results will be used to improve the program and community outreach.

More information can be found at transportation.georgetown.org/storm-water-plan.

Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter Teams up with Georgetown Animal Shelter for FREE Adoptions

It’s a DOUBLE TROUBLE Adoption Event – Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS) and Georgetown Animal Shelter are teaming up, for the first time ever, to present a FREE adoption special for adopters who schedule appointments to adopt their new furry family member in Georgetown!

From now through Sunday, June 20, 2021, both shelters’ sizzling summer specials include FREE adoptions of medium and large adult dogs and adult cats for adopters who make an appointment. The shelters are overflowing with wonderful pets for every kind of home, and between WCRAS and the Georgetown shelter, there’s sure to be a pet that will suit your family’s lifestyle.

“Due to the combination of kitten season, past rainstorms and large intakes from single residences, both shelters are over capacity with adult cats (including barn cats) and medium/large dogs. Our shelters are in desperate need for adopters and fosters in order to save lives. WCRAS and Georgetown Animal Shelter know it takes working together to be a lifesaving community and hope the community will team up with us,” said Misty Valenta, animal services director of WCRAS.

To take advantage of this special adoption celebration, go to wilcopets.org to see a list of all of the adoptable pets at WCRAS and pets.georgetown.org for pets at Georgetown Animal Shelter. Interested adopters may email adoption@wilco.org to schedule an appointment for priority service with one of our adoption matchmakers at WCRAS and animalsvc@georgetown.org to schedule an appointment at Georgetown Animal Shelter.

July 4 Celebration at San Gabriel Park

[UPDATE: Fireworks may start at about 9:15 p.m.]

The Georgetown Sertoma Club will have a fireworks display at dusk Sunday, July 4, in San Gabriel Park for its 38th annual Family July 4 Celebration. The parade and other festivities normally included in the celebration have been canceled.

“Several months ago, a joint decision was made by the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Sertoma Club not to hold this year’s festivities in San Gabriel Park due to COVID,” Georgetown Sertoma Club President Lauri Tulloch said. “Since then, we have seen improved conditions. It’s much too late for the necessary planning of events, but we are thrilled to be able to provide the fireworks show.”

The fireworks display begins at about 9:15 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from the McMaster Athletic Fields on North College Street. Fireworks can be viewed from San Gabriel Park, VFW Park, and other areas in Georgetown. The best entrance to San Gabriel Park for the event via Morrow Street on North Austin Avenue. The free event is sponsored by the Georgetown Sertoma Club service organization with assistance from the City of Georgetown.

Please do not bring dogs to the July 4 event.

Parking

There is limited parking in San Gabriel Park. Attendees also are encouraged to park at Georgetown High School and carpool to San Gabriel Park. Limited handicapped parking is available in the designated area on the south side of San Gabriel Park.

Both the McMaster Fields parking lot and the Parks and Recreation Administration parking lot at North College Street and W.L. Walden Drive will be closed on July 4 due to their proximity to the fireworks fall zone.

College Street and McMaster Fields closure

Due to the fireworks fall zone, North College Street will be closed Sunday, July 4, from about 9 to 11 p.m. between the traffic circle and Holly Street. Parking, standing, or sitting along that segment of North College Street will not be permitted during this time.

The McMaster Athletic Fields will be closed all day Sunday, July 4.

Personal fireworks prohibited

By City of Georgetown ordinance, fireworks are not allowed in the city limits of Georgetown or within 5,000 feet of the city limits, unless they are used in a permitted display authorized by the Georgetown Fire Department. This area outside city limits includes, but is not limited to, the neighborhoods of Cedar Hollow, Crystal Knoll, Escalera, Fountainwood, Indian Creek, Logan Ranch Road, Lost Rivers, Oak Crest, Olde Oak Estates, Serenada, Shady Oaks, Turtle Bend, and Woodland Park, and areas along D.B Wood Road.

Violations can lead to fines of up to $2,000 per firework. To view a map showing the 5,000-foot boundary, go to maps.georgetown.org/fireworks-ban-area-map.

Additionally, please make sure your dog is secure inside your home, particularly during the evenings of the holiday weekend. Georgetown animal control officers pick up several loose dogs around the Fourth of July and New Year’s holidays, many of whom are never reunited with their owners.

City riverbank cleanup event rescheduled to June 26

The City of Georgetown has rescheduled the riverbank cleanup event in San Gabriel Park to June 26. Volunteers can check-in for the event beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the white tent near the red poppy playground, which is located on the north end of the park. A safety briefing will be held at 8:55 a.m. The cleanup will be from 9-10 a.m.

Volunteers who registered for the original date June 5 do not need to reregister.

During the event, trash bags and gloves, as well as light snacks and drinks, will be provided. Participants are asked to wear appropriate clothing such as long pants, hats, and sunglasses, as well as comfortable closed-toe shoes.

Individuals interested in volunteering can email MS4Operator@georgetown.org to register or sign up online at transportation.georgetown.org/river-cleanup. The cleanup event may be canceled in case of bad weather. Follow the City’s social media pages for updates: facebook.com/cityofgeorgetown and twitter.com/georgetowntx.

Call for Arts and Culture grant proposals now open

The Georgetown Arts and Culture Board is now inviting grant proposals for events and programs occurring between October 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, as part of the 2021 round two grant period. The deadline for submitting for this grant period is June 30, 2021.

The Georgetown Arts and Culture Board awards grants twice each year for visual art, music, theatre, dance, literary, and cultural heritage events and programs taking place in Georgetown, as well as organizational development initiatives including board training, strategic planning, and professional development. All applicants are considered without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran, or disability status.

Nonprofit organizations, schools, and informal arts and culture organizations creating arts and culture programming, organizational development, or an event open to the public are eligible to apply. Organizations that received funding in the 2021 round one grant period are not eligible to apply for 2021 round two.

For more information and to submit a proposal, please visit the grant page at arts.georgetown.org/grants.

Traffic pattern changed at Hwy. 29 & H-E-B

Crews are expected overnight Thursday, June 10, to activate a new traffic signal at University Avenue/SH 29 at HEB and the new Aldi store. The old signal at HEB will be deactivated and removed. The new traffic pattern is expected to be in place by Friday morning. See the map for details about the changes. 

The new median on Hwy 29 is made of vertical delineators and not raised concrete curbing.

There are no signs at the new signal that prohibit U-turns. However, a U-turn may not be possible for large trucks or other vehicles. For drivers exiting the Shell or the shopping center that includes the Jimmy John’s who need to get to I-35, a safer alternate might be to turn into Wolf Crossing at the new signal and use the internal roads to get back to the I-35 frontage road.

The developer of Wolf Crossing paid for new deceleration lanes on Hwy 29 and the I-35 frontage road, as well as a share of other traffic improvements in the area, including the future expansion/rebuild of the Hwy 29 bridge over I-35. The new traffic signal was funded by the Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation through the 0.5 percent sales tax dedicated to new transportation improvements related to economic development projects. The cost of the signal was $400,000.

Assistant City Manager Reed accepts job as city manager for City of Cibolo, Texas

Police Chief Nero to serve as interim

Assistant City Manager Wayne Reed has accepted the position as the city manager for the City of Cibolo, Texas. His last day with the City of Georgetown will be June 25. Cibolo City Council approved his hire at its meeting June 8. His first day in Cibolo will be July 12.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of the Georgetown team these past five and a half years,” Reed said. “I have been provided opportunities by David Morgan to lead diverse service areas and oversee initiatives to improve the culture and performance of the organization. I’m excited by the opportunity to help a small but fast-growing community implement its vision and become a high-performing organization by working with the City Council to set a course for the future of the community, like we are continuously striving to do in Georgetown.”

In Georgetown, Reed led development-related departments, including planning, public works, systems engineering, permitting and inspections, as well as human resources and community services. Reed was instrumental in leading the City’s administration of special-purpose districts, like Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) and Public Improvement Districts (PIDs), to facilitate responsible growth management. His mantra, which he is carrying with him to Cibolo, is to put systems in place to ensure organizations are “vision inspired, mission focused, values driven, and performance based.”

“I’m thankful for Wayne’s contributions to Georgetown,” City Manager David Morgan said. “He was critical in improving our development processes and managing the pressures of growth, and he helped improve the efficiency and services of the entire organization by championing our performance management program. I’m thrilled for his new opportunity and look forward to hearing more great things about Wayne’s continued achievements in Texas. Cibolo is lucky to have him.”

Reed has more than 25 years of local government experience in both Colorado and Texas. Prior to arriving in Georgetown Jan. 25, 2016, Reed worked as a deputy city manager in Centennial, Colo., where he managed community development, public works, and the Office of Innovation for the growing Denver suburb with 107,000 residents. Before that role, he served as Centennial’s community development director. Reed also previously held the position of planning director for the Town of Berthoud, Colo., and served as a planner for the City of Arvada, Colo., and Denton, Texas.

A graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in urban planning and a bachelor’s degree in environmental design, Reed also served as a sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve. Reed is a certified planning professional and a member of the International City/County Management Association, American Public Works Association, American Institute of Certified Planners, and the American Planning Association.

Effective June 14, Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero will serve as interim assistant city manager in Georgetown while the City uses a search firm to fill the position. The goal is to have a new assistant city manager in place by Oct. 1, which is the start of the next fiscal year. Assistant Police Chief Cory Tchida will serve as interim police chief while Nero fills the role.

“Chief Nero has been a key leader in our community and organization,” Morgan said. “I appreciate him stepping into this interim role while we search for a replacement.”

Juneteenth celebration events June 12 and 19

The Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association will host a virtual event on Saturday, June 12, and an in-person event on Saturday, June 19, to celebrate Juneteenth. Both events are free and open to the public.

June 12 virtual event

The virtual event from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12, will address education, health, and justice for all. Panelists for the online event are Eastview High School Principal La Toya Easter, Wayne Sneed from the Austin ISD Police Department, and Derrick Neal, Williamson County and Cities and Health District executive director.

To register for the online event, visit gccmatx.com/community.

June 19 in-person event

An in-person Juneteenth celebration is noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 19. The event is at 801 West St. next to the historical Shotgun House. Featured guests include the Saving Grace Praise Team, gospel singer Chad Jackson, and keynote speaker Wesley Jarmon, a retired administrator for the Federal Communications Commission and founder of the Ernest Everett Just Foundation whose mission is to foster academic excellence for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Juneteenth history

Juneteenth marks the day on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed at Galveston and reported that the Civil War was over and slavery had ended. The Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves had been in effect since Jan. 1, 1863, but word did not reach Texas for more than two years. Juneteenth was declared an official state holiday in Texas in 1980.

D.B. Wood Road project open house June 17

The City of Georgetown will host an open house meeting to provide information on the project to widen D.B. Wood Road from Hwy. 29 to Oak Ridge Road on Thursday, June 17. The open house meeting at 6 p.m. will be in the training room at the Public Safety Operations and Training Center, 3500 D.B. Wood Road. A short presentation about the project by City staff will be given at 6 p.m., followed by time for questions and answers.


The project that will enhance safety and connectivity will widen D.B. Wood Road from the existing two-lane road to four lanes with a center two-way left turn lane. A 10-foot wide shared-use path for pedestrians and bicycles along the west side of D.B. Wood Road also may be included in the project. This project was approved by the voters in the 2015 City transportation bond. Construction is expected to start in 2022 and be completed in 2024.

Another project to widen D.B. Wood Road from Oak Ridge Road to the Public Safety Operations and Training Center was approved in May by Georgetown voters as part of the 2021 Mobility Bond. Timing for this additional project has not yet been determined. City Council is actively working on a schedule for all 2021 Mobility Bond projects.

Exhibits showing the proposed improvements for the current project will be available for review at the open house. A brief presentation will be made during the open house and project team members will be available to answer questions.

All interested residents are encouraged to attend the open house and provide input on the project.

Public comment

People can provide comments either verbally or written no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, June 24. Written comments may be emailed Joel Weaver, project manager, at joel.weaver@georgetown.org or mailed to: ATTN: Joel Weaver, City of Georgetown, 300-1 Industrial Ave, Georgetown, TX, 78626. Please include your name, address, and phone number.

The open house meeting will be streamed live on Zoom. To access the meeting and participate on Zoom, go to https://georgetowntx.zoom.us/j/94617134572. The webinar ID is 946 1713 4572. You also can participate in the Zoom meeting by phone at one of these toll-free numbers: 833-548-0276 or 833-548-0282. Use the webinar ID: 946 1713 4572.