It’s a new year, but many activities that took place in Copperas Cove and Coryell County in 2012 will continue to affect residents this year.
Residents saw some of these changes, such as highway projects and the development of a retail shopping center, as they took place. There also were several events that residents may not have noticed last year but may experience in 2013.
Highway, road construction
While construction of both State Highway 9 and the U.S. 190 Bypass project started in 2011, the two future roadways reached their halfway completion marks in 2012.
The Texas Department of Transportation contractors for both projects — California-based Ledcor for Highway 9 and Louisiana-based James Construction for U.S. 190 — both began to work on the eastern portions of the roadways in early 2012, making the work more visible for drivers.
By December, Ledcor had switched westbound traffic for U.S. 190 coming into Copperas Cove to temporary lanes and completed new lanes for eastbound traffic leaving Copperas Cove.
Both companies are working on the interchanges with the current U.S. 190 on the east side of the city.
When finished, the $64 million bypass project will be a two-lane highway with limited access points on a more than five-mile stretch of roadway to the south of Copperas Cove. It will tie in to the current U.S. 190 in the area of the Fort Hood Railhead overpass and Farm-to-Market 2657. It also will take the U.S. 190 name.
Highway 9 also will take drivers from about the Railhead overpass, but they will end up on north Farm-to-Market 116, just south of Lutheran Church Road. The nearly $39 million project spans more than three miles.
Both are expected to be complete in about a year, according to TxDOT’s Project Tracker website.
A third TxDOT project broke ground — the widening of Farm-to-Market 2657 — in early September.
The more than $6.2 million project will reconstruct the 28-foot-wide, two-lane surface by expanding it to a 75-foot-wide, five-lane street for 2.6 miles from U.S. 190 to County Road 4744. It is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014.
Commercial development land
With highways being built, several commercial and business real estate projects also got off the ground in 2012.
The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation sold about 58 acres of the proposed Five Hills shopping center along with a 13-acre track from the Copperas Cove Industrial Foundation for about $933,000 to Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate in February.
There are about 127 acres making up the entire shopping center, about 51 acres of which are still under contract to be purchased by the developer.
Earlier in the year, H-E-B announced it would anchor the retail market place with one of its Plus stores. And as the year went on, Whataburger, Chili’s, Panda Express and Chick-fil-A restaurants also planned to be in the retail center.
Whataburger is the first business scheduled to open this month, while
H-E-B is planning to open in February.
Near the same area of Five Hills, the corporation is working on a 72-acre business and technology park called the Narrows.
The development has its own zoning classification, and its subdivision is still being planned by the EDC.
The corporation hopes to sell portions of the property to companies that will be job creators for the city.
A professional and business park also is to be developed on Constitution Drive by the Industrial Foundation. The corporation sold about 6 acres to the Industrial Foundation in mid-2012 so the development could become about a 23-acre lot for professional types of business such as medical offices.
CVS Pharmacy also is redeveloping a lot on the corners of U.S. 190 and Avenue D.
The national pharmacy chain agreed to purchase about 5 acres on the north-east corner of the intersection in November. However, it displaced several small local businesses to include Black Meg 43, a hamburger restaurant.
Within a month, Black Meg found a new home across U.S. 190 in the Kettle Restaurant building, and is expected to open there in January.
Cove residents choose to move fire station
Residents approved the development of some land at the intersection of Avenue B and Grimes Crossing, where the city plans on placing a new fire station.
In November, residents voted for a $4.7 million bond that will fund the move of fire station No. 2 from 1208 W. Avenue B to the intersection. It also would purchase a new ladder-platform truck and a new brush fire truck for the city.
Built in 1977, station 2 is roughly 3,400 square feet. The new station’s preliminary design depicts a 11,204-square-foot facility, which could add two more bays for more vehicles in the future.
The bond would be a 20-year loan. It has an estimated interest rate of 3.25 percent and could add 2 cents to the city’s property tax rate to pay for the interest. The City Council could structure the loan to avoid a tax increase.
City Manager Andrea Gardner said construction may start by summer 2013.
Cove ISD hires new superintendent
The Copperas Cove Independent School District’s Board of Trustees hired Joseph Burns, of Vidor, to replace retiring superintendent Rose Cameron as the system’s head administrator in May.
Burns, who was announced as the lone finalist for the position by the board April 23, received a $162,000 contract.
He has a doctorate in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University, and was employed as the superintendent for the Vidor Independent School District, which has more than 4,900 students.
Burns also worked as superintendent at the Hubbard Independent and Kirbyville Consolidated school districts, where he was named 2007 Superintendent of the Year.
Gatesville approves liquor laws
In November, voters approved two measures to legalize the sale of alcohol in Gatesville.
By December, beer and wine were being sold at two local stores, and at least three restaurants had posted notice of the intention to sell mixed drinks.
Voters approved the sale of mixed drinks in restaurants by a vote of 1,445 to 828, and endorsed the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption by a 1,357 to 912 vote.
Weeks after the election, H-E-B and Walmart had beer and wine for sale in their Gatesville stores. Each of the chain stores contributed $21,000 to the campaign to pass the measures.
County continues to pursue jail
Despite residents approving an $18.8 million bond in November 2011 to construct a new Coryell County jail, county commissioners tabled erecting the facility in May.
As the Commissioners Court worked on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget, it raised taxes to save money for the jail construction instead of borrowing the full $18.8 million proposed in the bond.
The budget, however, also did not include the construction of the jail during this year’s capital improvement plans.
Coryell County’s current jail was built in 1991 to house a maximum of 92 inmates. It has been overcrowded for the past several years, and the overflow — averaging about 35 inmates a day — must be housed in jails outside the county.
Coryell County has inter-local agreements with Milam, McLennan and Limestone counties to house inmates at a cost of about $50 per inmate per day.
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474