Mayor Mack Scholarship Program

Longview Mayor Andy Mack presented $2,000 scholarships to local seniors Alex Caron, left, of Spring Hill ISD; Kaelin Goodeman of Pine Tree ISD, Payton Schaap of Longview ISD; and Jordan Hooks of Hallsville ISD during a City Council meeting in Longview on Thursday.

Downtown Longview property owners could have a new funding source for improvements to their storefronts and structures.

The City Council authorized staff Thursday to apply for participation in a zero-interest loan program to improve properties within the Longview Main Street area.

Longview is seeking to join as many as three other cities in the state in a program in which up to $70,000 in loans could be applied to downtown projects.

Also during the council’s regular meeting, members held public hearings on a 7.307-acre annexation plan and two zoning requests, but no one from the public spoke up.

Thursday’s meeting included the presentation of scholarships to four local high school senior essay writers, a statement from Longview ISD trustee Ted Beard about public education and a request by Mayor Andy Mack for the council’s next regular meeting on May 23.

The Texas Historical Commercial District Revolving Fund loan program is administered by the National Main Street Center and the Texas Main Street Program of the Texas Historical Commission, city Main Street Manager Melida Heien said. The zero-interest loans are made possible through support from the 1772 Foundation Inc., which provides preservation grants.

If Longview is selected, the loans would be used to support highly visible improvements to buildings and storefronts and would be made directly between the fund and the property owner.

The recipient building owners would be responsible for any required match, Heien said, and while Longview Main Street would help with local administrative tasks, it would not be required to provide any matching funds or be a party to the loans.

Zoning

Council members agreed to amend the site plan for 6.8 acres on George Richey Road immediately east of Spring Hill High School.

The amendment allows the developer to divide the subdivision into 21 lots instead of the 19 lots approved by the city earlier this year, City Planner Angela Choy said.

Homes in the subdivision will be between 1,400 and 2,000 square feet with a required 75 percent masonry exterior, she said. Setbacks will be 25 feet in the front of the homes, 10 feet in the back and 5 feet on the sides.

The council also agreed to rezone a 1.151-acre lot from agriculture to general retail on George Richey Road at Judson Road where another developer plans to build a convenience store and automotive fueling station.

No one spoke about either zoning request nor during the first required public hearing Thursday concerning a plan to annex a 7.307-acre property north of East Loop 281 and north of Page Road in the Harrison County portion of Longview.

The applicants, Four Corners Development and Longview homebuilder Scott Hamilton, plan to build a senior multifamily housing development at the site, Choy said.

2020 planning

Mack asked fellow council members for discussion on two items at their next meeting on May 23 — nominations for the city’s Census 2020 Committee and his idea for a walk of stars in Longview.

At the council’s April 25 meeting, Mack said he wanted the city to prepare for the upcoming census count by gathering staff and volunteers in the community to ensure that every person in Longview is counted. He also suggested that the city create a sidewalk or some structure that honors people who have made their mark on Longview or elsewhere in the world.

Education

Mack also bestowed scholarships to four soon-to-graduate seniors of local high schools who have shown an attitude of service to the community.

The $2,000 scholarships were presented to Jordan Hooks of Hallsville ISD, Payton Schaap of Longview ISD, Kaelin Goodeman at Pine Tree ISD and Alex Caron of Spring Hill ISD.

Each of the seniors submitted to Mack an essay explaining how they would improve the U.S. 80 corridor in Longview if they were mayor.

The scholarships are made possible each year by Mack and District 4 Councilwoman Kristen Ishihara, who donate their council stipends.

During the citizen comment portion of Thursday’s meeting, Beard spoke about “two good things in Longview ISD” — the district’s Early Graduation program in which 35 seniors are receiving collegiate associate’s degrees today and the Raising Highly Capable Kids program in collaboration with Longview Chamber of Commerce in which parents have shown perspectives of ranging children.

“It’s all about educating the students whatever district they come from,” Beard said.

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.