By Roy Mata, Associate, Yard Superintendent, Bredero Shaw

    On Tuesday, January 8, 2013, the 2013 Leadership Pearland Class participated in their fifth series of a nine month program, sponsored by the Pearland Chamber of Commerce, designed to enhance and motivate their potential for civic leadership and commitment to the Pearland community. The Chamber’s annual leadership class takes enrolled participants on various tours of area facilities focused on specific areas of the community.

    This month, “OUR SOUTHERN NEIGHBORS” session began with attending a Commissioner’s Court Meeting to learn the issues brought to the Brazoria County Commissioner’s Court and the difference between City and County government. The participants were formally introduced to County Court Commissioners and Meeting attendees. The Angleton American Legion Post #241 “Home Town Hero Program” was on the agenda and recognized Purple Heart recipient E/4 Sonya Broadway – US Air Force 1994-1999 for her brave service to our country defending America’s Freedom.

    The Leadership Pearland classmates were then taken on a tour of various Brazoria County departments within the Court House by Debra Payne, Brazoria  County Clerk Chief Deputy. While touring the facilities, participants learned the functions of each department and how they all further the goals of the County.  It was interesting to know that the first will probated in Brazoria County belonged to Stephen F. Austin. Another point of interest was that Brazoria County was founded in 1836 and encompasses 1,597 square miles with 22 cities, including what was once Velasco, Texas which was the first capital of The Republic of Texas.

    Another stop on the tour was at the County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office where Chief Deputy Sofia G. Gibson and Department Supervisor Pat Dingee explained the many services that their office provides to the 315,000+ county residents. One of the tools that a Leadership Pearland classmate found to be “Eye Opening” was the TerraTrack Computerized Program which assists the public in electronically locating their property and accessing detailed information.

    The Leadership Pearland classmates then met with County Engineer, Gerald Roberts and Assistant County Engineer, Michael Shannon. It was noted that the County Engineering Department is responsible for Transportation Planning, maintaining 1,200 miles of county roads and 400 bridges along with various Drainage Districts and permit issuance/regulation within the County. The department consists of 160+ employees that annually maintain 70 miles of roads with four road and bridge crews.

    Melissa Black of the Pearland Economic Development Corporation hosted lunch for the County Court Commissioners and Leadership Pearland classmates at The Crosswind Café. The next stop on the tour was of the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport and our tour guide was Tim Fox - Airport Superintendent. This 435 acre airport is owned and operated by Brazoria County and experiences 78,000 annual operations on the existing 7,000 foot concrete runway. The property was originally donated to Brazoria County by The Dow Chemical Corporation in 1981. The airport is classified as a Class IV Airport and maintains a FAR Part 139 Commercial Service Certificate. Bristow (Helicopter Transportation Services) & Dow Chemical Corporation are the major tenants. Construction of a new 10,000 sq. ft. Airport General Aviation and FBo Terminal began in May 2012 and is expected
    to be completed by August 2013 at a cost of approximately $2.6 million. What may be the best kept secret is what has resided in one of the hangers for over a decade. Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose Test Plane has occupied one of the hangers for over a decade and is expected to be relocated to California within the near future.

    The final tour of the day was of Port Freeport hosted by Nancy Stephens.   Port Freeport is classified as a “Foreign Trade Zone” and was established in 1824.  This  is the port of entry for numerous domestic and foreign cargos through its 400 foot wide, 45 foot deep channel port. The port is comprised of 14 operating berths on ~7,900 acres of land and is governed by six commissioners serving six year terms. It is the 16th largest port in the US in terms of Foreign
    Tonnage and has an economic impact of $17.9 billion annually affording 13,362 direct local jobs, 84% of which are Brazoria County residents. A special thanks to Andrew Miller, Adult Reading Center, Inc. for safely chauffeuring the class to/from the different venues.

    Members of the 2013 Leadership Pearland class include: Ruben Almanza, Whitley Penn; Sparkle Anderson, City of Pearland; Butch Babineaux, CDM Smith; Melissa Black, Pearland Economic
    Development Corporation; Kim Hocott, Pearland Independent School District; Roy Mata, BrederoShaw; Andrew Miller, Adult Reading Center, Inc; Laurie Rock, Altus Hospice Care; and Sherwin Sun, Keep Pearland Beautiful.