PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Nederland

May 21, 2014

Nederland Chamber members updated on city, area progress

NEDERLAND — Progress in the city of Nederland has far reaching effects, as members of the Nederland Chamber of Commerce heard on Wednesday.

Nederland Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick, Nederland City Manager Chris Duque, Nederland Economic Development Corporation Director Kay DeCuir, Alex Rupp of Jack Brooks Regional Airport and Jefferson County Precinct 2 Commissioner Brent Weaver took turns at the podium during the chamber’s leadership breakfast at Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeast Texas.

Kieschnick likened the running of a school district to that of a business — a very special business that serves more than 5,000 daily in a town city a population of about 17,000. The district will soon see 330 seniors graduate and NISD has a 0.4 percent drop-out rate. The 330 graduating seniors earned $3.3 million in scholarships.

“How do we get 96 percent attendance?” Kieschnick asked. “We give away a car. Once we get them we don’t lose them.”

Kieschnick was referring to NISD’s partnership with Philpott Motors who, for the past 12 years, have gave a new car to a student who had exemplary attendance.

The district, he said, excels in many facets from academics to athletics and more.

Duque updated the audience on the city’s current projects such as the work on the Homer E. Nagel Public Safety Complex which is nearing completion and plans to address other needs.

“Next year we plan to address the service center, located at 515 Hardy Ave.,” Duque said of the building that is too small to service vehicles. “We will not be issuing debt with this.”

The city is looking to future development at the airport and realizes they will need to add a police and fire department substation to serve the northwest part of town, he said.

Due to confidentiality issues, DeCuir couldn’t not identify any of the future tenants who will one day move into land in front of the airport. Retail, hotel/convention center and banking institutions are interested in the property.

“When was the last time you bought a pair of shoes in the city of Nederland?” DeCuir asked. “When was the last time you bought a three piece suit or sat down and ate at a nice steak house?”

DeCuir explained there are $50 billion worth of projects ongoing in the tri-county area of Jefferson, Orange and Hardin counties with an additional $12 billion in projects coming this way. The reason for the major projects is that the area has access to the waterway, railway and highway.

Weaver updated the audience of the United States House of Representatives’ approval of the  Conference Report for the Water Resources Reform Development Act of 2014. The bill now heads to the Senate, where, upon passage, it will head to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

One of the projects in the legislation includes the Sabine-Neches Waterway channel improvement project will deepen the channel for the first time in 50 years, allowing it to accommodate larger ships that travel through the Panama Canal.

The channel is currently at 40 feet in depth and, if approved, would be deepened to 48 feet.

The project itself will create numerous jobs.

“This is by far the most important project we’ve had in years,” Weaver said. “It’s so significant, it will reach out to all of us.”

Dee Lane, sales consultant with Guardian Force and chamber member, was pleased with the program.

“They did a great job today and were able to get a bunch of different speakers who told us what’s happening in the community,” Lane said.

Mitch Macon, chairman of the chamber, was also pleased with the event.

“I’m very proud to hear all of the achievements and progress in Nederland and of the future,” Macon said. “We think of our city like a little community but it’s big and has far reaching projects going on.”

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

 

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