New Caney, August 6 – The time is long overdue for Montgomery County, especially the County Judge (Craig Doyal) and the Commissioners Court, to stop treating East Montgomery County like the poor stepsister. East Montgomery County is rapidly growing into one of the most vibrant areas of Montgomery County with commercial development, residential growth, a growing medical center, and a burgeoning arts and entertainment community.
Growth of East Montgomery County
In recent years, East County has attracted a number of new real estate developments that have brought in substantial residential and commercial growth in this community. Among those, Friendswood Development is developing the Tavola New Home Community, a 1,560 acre wooded subdivision near New Caney. Meanwhile, The Signorelli Company is developing Valley Ranch, near Porter, which includes a large residential area, a commercial Town Center, several entertainment venues, and a rapidly growing medical center.
Walter Wilkerson, M.D., the Montgomery County GOP Chairman, informed The Golden Hammer that East Montgomery County will gain four new voting precincts before the 2018 Republican Primary Election as a result of the massive population increases the area has enjoyed.
One of the most striking aspects of East Montgomery County is the friendliness of the people who live there. Law enforcement officers often find that the most kindhearted people with whom they deal are the citizens of the area. They don’t have the uppity attitudes of older and more established wealthy communities.
Treated as the poor stepchild
Despite the dynamism of the area, the Montgomery County government continues to treat East County as the Cinderella of the community, the poor stepsister. The poor treatment begins with the bizarre manner in which East Montgomery County is gerrymandered into two Texas House of Representatives districts that prevent the East County residents from enjoying their own representation in Austin.
House District 3 has the shape of an upside down claw. It wraps around The Woodlands and south Montgomery County but does not include those areas. Instead, House District 3 includes the southern part of East Montgomery County, skirts narrowly through just north of The Woodlands, includes Magnolia, and then turns southward into Waller County. The shape of the District essentially disenfranchises the citizens of East Montgomery County who should naturally vote with their northerly neighbors in Patton Village, Splendora, and Woodbranch, whom instead State Representative Will Metcalf (R-Montgomery) represents. Cecil Bell, a Magnolia Republican, represents the southern portion of East Montgomery County. By splitting East Montgomery County in half, legislative district designers have greatly reduced the ability of East Montgomery County to get their business done in the Texas Legislature, even though both Metcalf and Bell have tried to represent the area well.
Montgomery County services lag in East Montgomery County as well. When former County Judge R.A. “Mickey” Deison worked to construct the East Montgomery County Courthouse Annex, his experience was like climbing an 8000 meter peak, according to Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark who recounted Deison’s difficulties. Clark, who grew up in the Grangerland area, echoed the difficulties East County has experienced, which circumstances he told The Golden Hammer he had witnessed as a young man.
Even today, although East County finally has received a Courthouse Annex, East Montgomery County is the only part of Montgomery County that has a Justice of the Peace Court office that is only open four days per week. JP James Metts and his staff are not available to the public on Fridays, which is often the only day when working citizens can take the time to get away from their jobs and conduct personal business. Additionally, because Metts has refused to join with the rest of Montgomery County’s court database system, citizens of East Montgomery County cannot view their court files online through the JP office and have a great deal of difficulty ever viewing their files even if they personally visit the office.
At a June 12, 2017, meeting of the San Jacinto River Authority, engineers from Halff Associates, a private contractor, and from the SJRA described a regional drainage study that they are conducting as a part of a two-year project. Strangely, even though East Montgomery County suffers far more drainage issues than most other areas of the community, the SJRA study stops just southeast of the City of Conroe, because the Montgomery County Commissioners Court has not agreed to expand the study to include East County.
Commissioner Clark told The Golden Hammer, “One of the reasons I ran was because I wanted to see that East Montgomery County finally got treated as well as everyone else in Montgomery County. I’ve been successful as a Commissioner in many areas finally getting East County a lot of the infrastructure and support that we’ve deserved for a long time. EMC has historically in the past always received a lot less funding and attention than other areas of Montgomery County.” Clark noted, “Just recently, when I asked for a salary adjustment for my staff so that we could run the Commissioners Precinct more efficiently, the Commissioners Court denied the request, even though at the next Court meeting they granted a similar request of Commissioner Meador.”
“I had to really fight for the road bond money Precinct 4 got in November 2015. I held out for a $3 million project for East Montgomery County because we’ve always just gotten what’s left over. I insisted on specific projects. I got the money for our area,” Clark said.
Clark’s challenger, Bob Bagley, agreed that “in some cases, East Montgomery County is forgotten.” Bagley told The Golden Hammer that, when he attended the June 12 SJRA meeting, he was very interested in the presentation but also felt that the citizens of Montgomery County should demand that the SJRA and the Commissioners Court “go farther and include the area where we need drainage help the most.”
“East county gets water from everywhere else. Our roads are deplorable. We have the largest amount of county roads that require maintenance but we don’t get enough money to maintain them,” Bagley, who is an elected Board member of the Montgomery County Hospital District, said.