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For Houston Community Newspapers
THE SIGNAL FROM HOBBY
Hobby Airport can hear a radio message aimed just at
Hobby Airport is making changes that will make
your arrival and departure easier. We are upgrading
our roadways,, expanding our terminal facilities and
reconstructing the airport to better serve you. As you
enter the airport, watch for construction equipment
as well as signs and barricades that indicate construction
areas and temporary traffic detours.
A low-powered station
at 1610 AM, Hobby Airport Radio tells travelers how
to minimize the inconveniences resulting from construction
in and near the airport:
Avoid Broadway between the
Gulf Freeway and Belfort. The bridge on Broadway over
Sims Bayou is being widened for your future convenience.
However, during construction, all Broadway north And
southbound traffic is in one span of the bridge. Hobby
Airport traffic should use Telephone Road, Bell fort,
Monroe or Airport Boulevard for convenient access to
and from the airport.
Additional construction is in
progress on Telephone Road south of Airport Boulevard.
Though certain to speed
traffic in the area,, the improvements for the Broadway
bridge and Telephone Road are not considered part of
the current Hobby Airport improvement project.
Asked for an update
on the work at Hobby, Airport Manager Don Fletcher said,,
"We are about half-way through the projects which total
about $60 million. The work should be completed by June
of 1994." Originally slated for completion this summer,
it has been extended because of some construction delays
and some additional improvements for the airfield.
Approximately $30 million
is going toward upgrading the airfield. Construction
includes new taxiways, some re-surfacing of old pavement,
and some new runway lights.
Fletcher said the access
road into the airport is nearly completed: "We've got
some final work that is going to start about the first
of February when we'll be putting the finishing touches
on the ramp roadways."
Fletcher said the ramps
"will enhance the local traffic using the intersection
of Airport and Broadway because the inbound flow to
the airport won't use the traffic signal." The people
coming into the airport will by-pass the light by taking
the fly-over bridge from either Broadway or Airport
Most of the remaining
work will be done inside the airport. According to Fletcher:
Part of the access roadway project includes some fairly
major improvements in the terminal building as well.
We are going to be adding a number of escalators to
move people back and forth between the between the different
levels. We're going to be adding a new entrance on the
east end of the building.
New baggage service
offices are being built right next to the baggage claim
area. Fletcher said, "That's where you go when the
airlines have lost your bag." He said having the offices
convenient for the customers will be "at least a positive
step when they have to go look for their bag."
Other improvements will
include all-new utility feeds in the building for improved
telephone and electrical services. All of the sprinkler
systems in the building will be tied together with a
new alarm system. The air conditioning system will receive
a new cooling tower and water chillers.
Fletcher said, "Although
none of these things may sound like they are very exciting,
they are infrastructure improvements in the terminal"
which the airport can "expand on and enhance in a future
The main focus of the
next project will be to finish the interior renovations
to the building. Hobby has just selected the design
consultants for the new phase which is not expected
to begin until 1995. The future improvements will provide
better rest rooms and will further develop the chilled
water air conditioning system.
Consoling and advising
visitors through all the construction are the Squirt
brothers, Reg and Bert. They are the mascots for the
projects who appear on signs and as live performers
at the airport.
Their purpose, Fletcher
said, is "to explain to people a little bit about what
we are doing and inject a little humor into what sometimes
isn't a popular situation." Modeled after similar efforts
at other airports, he said the characters were created
to "help us through the situation and maybe forget about
how it looks now and focus on what it will look like
Reg and Bert are usually around on Friday nights and
Sunday afternoons "so they can talk to the people and
make friends with people," Fletcher said. Costing $7500
apiece, the costumes contain synthesizers, which generate
the voices of the Squirt brothers. The performers have
"had some training as to what kind of conversations
they should strike up with people."
Fletcher said the Squirts
will be making a greater contribution as the airport
moves into some "difficult phases of this project."
This will involve rerouting people through temporary
corridors and redirecting the vehicles entering the
airport. Fletcher said,
The roadway in front of the
terminal building as we know it now will be completely
out of service for about six months during the period
September of this year to February of next year. We
think that those really unusual circumstances are going
to be opportunities where we can use the Squirt-costumed
people to better advantage.
Fletcher asked the public
to "Be patient. It's going to get done." He added:
kinds of projects have lot that go into them. We think
a lot about protecting the customers and providing as
safe, friendly environment as we can, given the construction.
We need people to pay attention to signs and watch for
the progress, because it's happening. We're delighted
to have it under way, and we'll be a whole lot more
happy to have it done.
Fletcher concluded by
praising the people doing the construction: "We've been
blessed with a couple of very good contractors on this
project, and the time that we've put into the planning
stages on it is certainly paying off."
The new prime
contractor is Hensel-Phelps Construction Company. They were hired for the renovation of the airport terminal.
They are also overseeing
the completion of the roadway portion of the project.
Hensel-Phelps has hired, Ramex, Inc., the original contractor,
to serve as subcontractor for the remaining roadway
construction. Fletcher said:
That was really a positive
thing because we had visions of having two separate
contractors working and some problems with it. As it
turns out, it has all melded together. We think highly
of both those contractors. It's worked out well for
Hobby Airport currently
serves passengers flying American, Delta, Northwest,,
Southwest,, Trans World, and United airlines. There
are 178 daily departures.
Of that number, 128
are Southwest Airlines flights. The new entrance on
the east end of the terminal will serve people going
to the Southwest Airlines area.
Asked about the possibility
of Continental Airlines returning to Hobby, Fletcher
Continental is in the process of coming out of
Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but they have not indicated that
they will be serving Hobby again. They do serve Ellington
with fifteen Continental Express flights per day to
planes are often on the scene at Hobby when they are
flown there for service from other airports.
In January, United
Airlines moved its gate location from the C Concourse
to the B Concourse. Fletcher said, "That allows United
to have their own gates. They had been sharing gates
with Trans World."
For KIOX Radio, Bay
PROTEST AT SOUTH TEXAS
About 1500 persons gathered
at the gates of the South Texas Nuclear Project today
to protest the nuclear plant under construction near
Bay City. The crowd, which came mainly from Austin,
Houston and San Antonio, was joined by number of local
residents and carried signs reading, "No more corporate
murder" and "Our children will not be slaves to nuclear
Matagorda County Sheriff
Sam Hurta and one Department of Safety trooper were
the only law enforcement officers on the scene of the
peaceful rally. The demonstration took place on state-owned
land across from the plant on Farm-to-Market Road 521.
The recent heavy rains had turned the area into a sea
of mud that forced many of the participants to abandon
their shoes and go barefooted. The Bay City protest
against nuclear power plants was one of many being held
this weekend in the United States and several other
The South Texas Project
is a two-reactor facility being built jointly by Houston
Lighting and Power, Central Power and Light Company
of Corpus Christi and the cities of Austin and San Antonio.
The Plant is expected to be completed at a cost of $2
SINGLE APPRAISAL TAX
have voted unanimously, but reluctantly, to join the
Matagorda Single Appraisal Tax District that was formed
last month to comply with Texas Senate Bill 621. Commissioners
did so in order to participate in the directorship of
Senate Bill 621 requires
that each county have an appraisal district to set property
values for the taxing authorities within the county.
The bill specifically mentions cities and school districts,
but county governments may also accept the evaluations.
A proposed constitutional amendment would require counties
A controversial part
of the new taxation system is the requirement that property
be taxed on a 100 per cent assessment of the appraised
value. This has led governments throughout the state
to lower tax rates to keep the actual tax bills in line
with what the property owners were already paying. However,
taxes may go up in some places if local leaders do not
fully reduce their rates to equal the same dollar amounts.
Critics also charge that the system will lead to quicker
rises in tax bills if values suddenly go up due to inflation.
At this morning's Commissioner's Court meeting all of
the county officials raised questions about the implications
of the new law. Here is County Tax Assessor-Collector
James Humphrey. (ROLL TAPE).
Also during today's
meeting, local black leaders Dexter Hodge and Bill Smith
discussed the county's plan for reapportionment. County
Judge Bert O'Connel showed them a map similar to the
one presented at the August 6th session. However, Commissioners
have changed one of the boundaries, moving the line
between Precinct One and Precinct Four from Morningside
to Lora Canal. Smith, who heads the local NAACP,, expressed
no objection at today's meeting but said he will go
over the change with his attorney.
City, county and state
law enforcement officers are still searching for the
man who robbed the Bay City Bank and Trust Company of
more than $10,000 this afternoon. The man entered the
bank at around 1:30 and handed a note to the teller,
Rebecca Gilpin. The note demanded that she turn over
her cash and promised that no one would be hurt if she
cooperated. No weapon was shown. The robber then absconded
with the $10,000 cash. Witnesses described the robber
as a tall, white male wearing a white shirt and blue
Late this afternoon,
police constructed a composite drawing of the man's
appearance. Detectives are also checking the photographs
from the camera in the bank's lobby.
According to Police
Chief Barney Mason. Sheriff and D.P.S. officers are
watching roads leading out of the city to prevent the
man from leaving the area. The FBI is expected to enter
Bay City Bank Executive
Vice President Frank Krupa emphasized that the $10,000
represented only a small portion of the bank's assets
and that the amount is covered by the bank's own insurance.
The Vasthead is the professional web site of
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