Hearne Mayor looks at 2014

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2014 is shaping up to be another good year with lots more economic progress coming Hearne’s way. As the New Year begins, 100+ new jobs and almost two million dollars in state grant money are already committed to Hearne. Even more good news is expected during the year. I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. May the Good Lord continue to bless us!
Staked-out but temporarily rained-out, Creative Solutions in Health Care will soon start building its new 80-bed Hearne nursing home that will bring eighty jobs to town. Like Hearne’s DaVita Kidney Dialysis Clinic, this new facility will attract patients and employees from parts of Robertson, Brazos, Milam, and Burleson counties. Hearne has been awarded a $750,000 Texas Department of Agriculture Texas Capital Fund grant for curbs, sidewalks, and drainage along Hackberry and Rose Marie.
ECMD’s new regional molding and building products distribution facility is creating fifteen to twenty new jobs. This company is making major improvements to the old Lifetime Doors on combined TX6/US190. Another $325,000 Texas Capital Fund grant is helping with fencing, electrical, water, and paving.
Sanders, Inc. a 60-year old Mississippi River-based seed and agricultural chemical company, is hiring four people and opening at the former Zeig Sheet Metal Works. GATX is hiring another twenty to thirty employees. FracTech is also hiring. Working in the county six months, Progressive Pipeline is bringing up to 300 temporary workers to the area.
The Hearne Airport is getting a perimeter game fence, thanks to a $567,000 TxDOT Aviation grant. This fence, which will protect Hearne’s airport from mostly four-legged intruders, is part of a ten-year airport improvement plan.
TxDOT will be installing handicapped-accessible sidewalks and ramps from US79/Brown at Hackberry Street to FM391 at Norwood Lane. These south-side-of-street sidewalks join others recently installed in front of the depot, around Love’s, and along TX6 from FM485 to Stoney’s. Hearne’s sidewalk plan includes the above plus combined TX6/US79 from Ama’s to FM485, combined TX6/US79 from Stoney’s to Fifth Street, connecting Fulton and Cedar Streets, along Martin Luther King and Alamo streets, TX6/US190 from Brown to Rose Marie. A widened TX6 Sandy Creek bridge and four pedestrian pads across railroad tracks are ultimately needed.
With TX6 between Hearne and the northern county line now interstate-comparable, TxDOT plans other improvements near Hearne. In coming years, both the US79 and FM485 Little Brazos River highway bridges are slated for replacement. Union Pacific is upgrading its Little Brazos railroad bridge just north of US79. Turn lanes will soon be installed on US79 at FM1644 near Valley Junction and US79 at Mud Creek Road east of town. All of these projects bring temporary construction crews to town. TxDOT has no plans to put in a grassy divided center median on TX6 between Hearne and Benchley or to widen US79 between Hearne and Buffalo.
By this time next year, Hearne’s Downtown Meeting and Events Centre should be operational and hosting business trainings, family events, and other festivities. It will accommodate larger crowds than other city-owned venues and attract overnight hotel stays. In the 200 block of W Fourth Street, this facility will also help revitalize downtown.
Likely funded by a combination of USDA grants/loans and the Robertson County Emergency Services District, a combined Hearne police and fire station is planned. Thanks in part to Hearne sales tax board help, the first of four new Robertson County EMS stations operates out of Hearne. The ever-busy extended hours St. Joseph Express provides walk-in urgent care six days a week. This is in addition to the BVCAA/St. Joseph Health Point Family Medicine Clinic on Barton. A new Hearne police and fire station will also help improve the looks of downtown.
In Robertson County Commissioners’ Court, I asked the tax assessor/collector to re-open Hearne’s license plate office. The closure of this office (that had operated for many years) represents a significant cut in service and a big inconvenience to many county residents. Hearne is the county’s population center. Many county residents routinely travel TX6, US79, US190, FM485, and FM391 through Hearne. The county’s three biggest vehicle sales outlets – Dee’s Trailers, Jentsch Motors, and Derek Scott’s Auto Park – are all in or near Hearne. The local TxDOT office, City of Hearne, and Hearne Chamber of Commerce routinely get calls from throughout the county inquiring about when this license plate office is finally going to re-open. The city is offering office space, electricity, and use of city hall’s payment desk staff in an effort to get this badly needed office re-opened as soon as possible.
Other economic developments will likely be announced during the year. Business prospects often inquire about highway and railroad accessible properties around Hearne. Parcels range in size from 10 to 300 acres. Hearne Economic Development routinely shows these properties and identifies them on its website since businesses outside of Hearne (like FracTech, Progressive Pipeline, and a current frac sand company prospect) benefit Hearne and Robertson County.

Ruben Gomez \ Robertson County News

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