As we celebrate the beginning of a brand new year, it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on major accomplishments in the past 12 months.
Today, I would like to share a few of the highlights for Denton County. Some reflect significant economic development, others demonstrate the cohesiveness the county shares with its communities.
As daily life began to once again return to some semblance of normalcy, we were recognized nationally for our efforts during the height of the pandemic and, last year, turned lessons learned during the pandemic into new practices.
We preserved history, partnered in a life-changing endeavor to benefit our homeless, and addressed our ongoing growth with the extension of a major east-west thoroughfare and expanding our court system. Our residents also showed strong support for future road projects by overwhelmingly approving the first bond election since 2008.
In 2022, Denton County Continued Conversations: We debuted the Denton County Mayors Council, inviting mayors of all communities within the county to meet monthly to discuss ongoing issues as well as hear from guest speakers on topics ranging from the North Texas Council of Governments future plans to legislative issues among communities and school districts heading into the 88th Legislature. The council was created to continue conversations launched over Zoom during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and during significant winter weather storms.
Welcomed a Major Employer: In March, we welcomed Ariat International Inc. to the Denton County neighborhood as they commemorated the opening of their 1-million-square-foot distribution center off FM 156 in our northwest region as part of NorthPoint Development’s Intermodal Logistics Center 2. Our recruiting efforts helped land the company, which sits on property strategically located between Texas 114 and I-35W with direct connection to BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility. Denton County joined the City of Fort Worth and the Cole family to bring Ariat to the area as another major source of job opportunities to provide residents the opportunity to work, live and play in Denton County.
Planned for the Future: Voters overwhelmingly (by 74.10 percent) approved Proposition A on the Nov. 8 ballot to earmark $650 million in bonds for road projects across Denton County during the next decade. The county’s largest-ever bond package program will fund more than 119 projects in more than 32 municipalities and unincorporated areas. The projects include state highways, local arterials within cities, safety improvements, and county roads and bridges. Denton County Commissioners called for a bond election on Aug. 16.
Changed Lives: In mid-December, a joint venture between the City of Denton, Denton County and Our Daily Bread came to fruition with the opening of the Our Daily Bread Community Center at 909 North Loop 288, providing a one-stop location addressing the needs of the homeless throughout the county. The facility features 114 beds for emergency shelter for overnight stays including showers and laundry services, an extended stay shelter with 32 beds for transitional housing, a dining hall, a commercial kitchen with increased food storage, office space and classrooms for program services, a sitting area for day shelter, and even space for the four-legged companions of those seeking emergency housing. The community shelter combines services formerly provided at three different locations into one. Several non-profit organizations, including Services of North Texas and MHMR, will have offices at the location to provide physical and mental health services.
Expanded Transportation Access: A ribbon cutting in mid-December commemorated the completion of free service roads built in preparation for the extension of the Dallas North Tollway along the Denton/Collin county lines. The project, which has been in the works for almost 12 years, will serve as a major thoroughfare in the fast-growing region as Denton County nears 1 million in population within the next few years. The new 7.7-mile segment from FM 428 in Celina to the Grayson County line extends the Dallas North Tollway along the Denton/Collin county lines, bringing access to many residents across a growing region.
Addressed Ongoing Issues: Denton County worked with cities and school districts after the Denton Central Appraisal District repeatedly failed to meet deadlines for delivering a Certified Tax Roll to the taxing entities, instead providing Certified Estimates which resulted in entities not having reliable information from which to set up budgets. The State Comptroller also found that DCAD failed to meet the ratio studies for several of the county’s local school districts in tax year 2021, which ultimately could reduce funding for the school districts. Following the Commissioners Court lead to veto the budget, a majority of the taxing entities, 68 percent, took formal action to either disapprove of the DCAD budget or sent a letter expressing concern with the DCAD leadership. The DCAD board ultimately fired the executive director, hired a new director, and approved a revised budget.
Preserved the Past: In June, we celebrated the opening of the Taylor Cabin, one of a few handful of Denton County structures left from 150 years ago. Foy Taylor, who was born in the cabin in 1928, donated her old home located in Corinth to Denton County in 2012 to become a permanent part of the Denton County Historical Park. The cabin offers a look back to how John Williams and his wife, Ida, raised 10 children and farmed the surrounding land, growing corn, cotton and peanuts. We also acquired a General Store and its contents from Stoney that will be relocated and restocked at the park.
Attracted a Major Player: The Professional Golfers’ Association of America celebrated the opening of a main building on the new campus at 1916 PGA Parkway in Frisco in August. The facility, approximately 106,621 square feet, is located on a 30-acre practice facility overlooking the PGA campus in Frisco. The county’s preparation on the major road leading into the complex helped pave the way to PGA’s move to Denton County’s portion of Frisco. The full 660-acre campus is expected to be fully open this year with two 18-hole championship golf courses, golf-themed retail stores, restaurants, and the Omni Resort.
Earned Recognition: In May, the National Association of Counties honored Denton County on best practices as part of the 2021 Achievement Awards for its COVID-19 response with the Texas Motor Speedway mega vaccination clinic that provided an estimated 300,000 vaccinations to individuals throughout the county, region and other states. Also recognized was the creation of a fresh fruits and vegetables food box program created by Denton County where a local produce buyer purchased food from local and regional growers to meet escalating hunger needs for Denton County residents during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provided More Services: As Denton County has continued to grow, the Commissioners Court realized the need to expand our probate services which include ruling on estates, establishing guardianship for the incapacitated and minors, supervising court-ordered involuntary mental health commitments, and administering eminent domain cases. The Denton County Commissioners Court appointed Christopher Everett as Judge of Probate Court No. 2 upon its creation. Judge Everett brings a wealth of experience in probate to the position.
These are but a few of our many accomplishments in 2022 which we will build upon and add to in 2023. We look forward to the start of another year to focus on how we can best serve Denton County as it continues to grow and prosper.
As First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently stated: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Expanding transportation, attracting major corporations, preservation of our history and providing additional services are all part of laying the foundation for today’s population and future generations.
Connect With Us: If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected], and my office number is 940-349-2820. For more information, register for my newsletter at Dentoncounty.gov/countyjudgenewslettersignup