Friday, September 27, 2013

The looming Baytown metropolis

Get ready for Baytown to surge to 200,000 people over the next five years folks. What started out as a laid-back Tri-city community of Pelly, Baytown and Goose Creek is rapidly becoming a bustling metropolis, and oil fracking is to blame, if blame is levied. I see what is happening as a positive. Cars, trucks and motorcycles are on our streets at all hours of the day and night, and based on what one of our police lieutenants told me recently, we are not ready for the expansion. How could we be?

With the Exxon and Chevron Phillips expansions in progress, they will draw tens of thousands of workers to our city, and due to the length of the work commitment, most will bring their families. We have three new elementary schools popping up (expect new school zones of SH-146 out Pinehurst way and another on North Main street, which will impede traffic flow), and there is a new steel mill coming to the Beach City area, most likely at the U.S. Steel location. Kiwi Golf is opening a production facility here. There is the Buc-ee’s and the new super Wal-mart at Highway 146 and Interstate 10 to bring jobs and more people and cars/trucks to our streets. I predict the traffic jam will be so bad here that the state will build an overpass over I-10 that will run for a number of miles dumping traffic out past Maranatha Temple.

 The good side is we have jobs, lots of jobs, and I welcome this with a big toothy grin – well with what teeth I still have anyway. After 36 years in the petrochemical field, I never thought I would see such a boom in this arena. I suspected it, however, and a couple years ago foretold the need for skilled workers when Goose Creek Memorial was being built. I wrote here in The Baytown Sun in my old column – yes, I am back – that we should seriously consider converting Robert E. Lee High School into a top notch vo-tech school to prepare our graduates to enter the work force and unfortunately, this is the bad side of the expansion. We don’t have the local manpower to staff these great jobs. We are at a minimum two years behind, and many of these great jobs won’t go to our young graduates but to people flocking here from the Virgin Islands, Detroit or Timbuktu, and they will most likely not leave.

When I pushed for a vo-tech, all everyone wanted to talk about was the school colors and the football team. So, we continued to pump out graduates, or not – with cookie-cutter diplomas which basically prepared them to think alike and exit high school with the skills to get a job working the counter at a fast food restaurant, or a few went off to college and became what their parents dreamed of, right? For most, the answer was no. They languished and years later are still without money-making skills. Well, now we need those high school grads with those hands-on skills and they are nowhere to be found because we didn’t properly prepare them for the real working world. Sure, Lee College and San Jac offer a two-year program to qualify people to become process technicians, I understand that. But what about electricians, pipe-fitters, welders, insulators, rod-busters, riggers, plumbers, instrument technicians, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, etc, who could have graduated from one of our high schools with the needed skills? It’s not too late to amp up our vo-tech high school programs, folks. It just takes forward paradigm-breaking thinking. It will take people on our school board to break free of the current malaise and get a curriculum that will teach our young generation to work …

Oops, isn’t work a four-letter word these days? It appears to be to many of us gray heads who began working at 13 and 14 years of age and never looked to anyone for assistance. Oh my, this is so controversial, I almost can’t write it without feeling there will be a terrible backlash. But it’s true just the same, and I will bring it out in the open. After all, I bought my first car at the ripe age of 15 after working for two years. I also bought my first radio, and stereo and television … We have a terrific future here in Baytown, both in our city’s development and the sustainable job market. We, as Baytonians, need to take advantage of it and prepare our kids to get a piece of the pie. I am close to retirement and I have no plans to move away, but I do care that our city “moves forward” with the surging expansion. On another note, I am very excited about our city park expansions and have asked the mayor and city manager to plant as many trees and native shrubs as possible to off-set the wholesale defoliation of our city caused by the expansion.

The Baker Road extension alone destroyed many acres of wildlife habitat, and my councilman, Bob Hoskins, has promised a new greenbelt, with him personally planting the first tree. I am very excited about this and the great job Scott Johnson is doing with our parks department. Baytown is indeed on the move, but it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure our city moves in the right direction. I want to do my part, how about you?

13 comments:

sandiwhite said...

All right! This is what I mean! I remember that column well, it was forward thinking then and has become almost prophetic now. You took projections that weren't even on the board then and ran with them. I hope the Powers-That-Be in your area ramp up their educational planning and budgets and prepare young Texans for jobs in Texas, the Baytown area specifically. Congratulations, you hit this nail square on the head.

. . . . . said...

With the new statements concerning greenhouse gasses, I sure hope everyone gets on board with replanting trees to off-set the CO2 levels. The predictions on climate change is down-right scary.

Anonymous said...

Great writing BB!!!! And I do agree! Baytown needs to get on the Vo-Tech wagon NOW. The future is now!!!
Buddy C

Anonymous said...

Read your article. Very good.. It sounds about right. BRL

Anonymous said...

A very informative, good article. I enjoyed it very much Baytown Bert. AD

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back on this track!!!! BC

Anonymous said...

Good article and good points. A lot of good can come out of this, but a whole lot of bad too. But we'll make it. JM

Anonymous said...

Bert - Good article. Baytown sounds like a good place to make a living and raise a family ...Debi

. . . . . said...

http://www.chron.com/jobs/article/Houston-we-have-a-welder-shortage-4851720.php

Anonymous said...

Bert, this is truly progressive thinking. Since it's such an obviously good idea, you can rest assured you will have to shove it down people's throats to get anyone to move on it. Eric

Anonymous said...

Well said. I'm so proud of you. MM

Anonymous said...

Apparently Lyondell Basell has moved the R&D Center from Newtown Square, PA to Channelview Texas. There is a world of difference between Newtown Square PA and Channelview Texas. I spent time at both locations during my tenure with Arco. This was the R&D Center when we worked for ARCO.
C Kelm

. . . . . said...

http://www.hydrocarbonprocessing.com/Article/3260978/Latest-News/LyondellBasell-opens-chemical-R-D-hub-in-Houston.html

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