Home » Business News

Business in Fort Bend August 2016

Rony Ninan, M.D.

Rony Ninan, M.D.


Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates welcomes Rony Ninan, M.D., to the practice, effective July 11.

Ninan joins the practice from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where he served as assistant professor of neurology. He earned his medical degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. Ninan completed his internship at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. He then completed a residency in neurology, along with a fellowship in neurophysiology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where he served as chief resident of neurology from 2011-2012.

Ninan is board certified in both neurology and neurophysiology. He joins Carisa Liew, D.O., Eddie Patton Jr., M.D., Larry Tran, M.D. and Toby Yaltho, M.D. at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Ninan join the practice,” said Patton. “He is an exceptional physician who shares our patient-centric approach to care. He brings a strong background in academic and clinical medicine, and we know he will be an outstanding addition to our team.”

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates is located on the Houston Metho­dist Sugar Land Hospital campus at 16605 Southwest Freeway, Medical Office Building 3, Suite 600. To make an appointment with a physician at the office, visit houstonmetho­dist.org/appointments or call 281-494-6387.


Dr. Audra Ude

Dr. Audra Ude


Fort Bend ISD welcomes Dr. Audra Ude as the District’s Director of Student Leader­ship. The FBISD Board of Trustees approved her for the position on June 20. Ude will guide leadership development at the District’s elementary and middle schools through strong student-led organizations such as Leadership 101 and 102, Student Council, National Honor Society, Superinten­dent Advisory (VOICE)
and other programs aligned with developing student leaders.

“Leadership development is an important component of the District’s Core Beliefs and Commitments, and it is important to have someone in place to focus on student engagement and ensure students at all levels have opportunities to grow as leaders,” said Dr. Christie Whitbeck, Deputy Superinten­dent. “Dr. Ude brings to us a depth of experiences working as assistant superin­ten­dent, director and principal. We are very excited that she is joining us in this new position.”

Ude brings more than 25 years of educational experience needed to design, plan and facilitate quality student professional learning experiences in FBISD.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Political Science from Abilene Christian University, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Corpus Christi State University, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and adoctorate in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M University.


(L-R): David Squires, L.C.I.S.D; Valerie Vogt, L.C.I.S.D; Regina Morales, Central Fort Bend Chamber; Gregory Haralson, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital; and Jim Russ, EHRA.

(L-R): David Squires, L.C.I.S.D; Valerie Vogt, L.C.I.S.D; Regina Morales, Central Fort Bend Chamber; Gregory Haralson, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital; and Jim Russ, EHRA.


David Squires, assistant principal at Lamar Consolidated High School was the guest speaker of the Central Fort Bend Chamber’s June Breakfast in the Bend. Currently supervising the Science and Career & Technical Education Departments, Squires educated those attending on an up and coming Aquaponics Laboratory expected to be brought to life in the fall of 2016. He highlighted some of the advantages of the Laboratory such as the ability to have “incredible amounts of produce grown in a short period of time.” The Aquaponics system will be put together and managed by Academic students, to Life Skills students, continuing on to AP students. There are currently 35 courses that relate to the Aquaponics systems. Squires shared that “LCISD’s vision is to have students not only participate, but do so in a meaningful, collaborative way”.

The monthly networking breakfast was held at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Sugar Land. Guests who attended were the first to gather in the hospital’s newly constructed conference room. Adding 25,000 square feet, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land now has the ability to offer services beyond the capabilities it used to have.

“Our goal at Memorial Hermann is to provide high quality care in the best possible setting, as health care changes and cost of healthcare continues to increase; it’s important that you as a patient can access care at an appropriate cost with the trusted brand of Memorial Hermann,” said Gregory Haral­son, CEO of the Sugar Land location.


(L-R): New FBISD Board officers Addie Heyliger, Kristin Tassin and Jason Burdine.

(L-R): New FBISD Board officers Addie Heyliger, Kristin Tassin and Jason Burdine.


The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees canvassed and certified the unofficial results of the May 7 election during a Special Board meeting on May 16. On May 7, voters re-elected Jim Rice and Dave Rosenthal, and they will serve additional three-year terms on the Board. Together, both bring more than 10 years of experience and leadership in serving on the FBISD Board.

Rice has served on the Board for the past six years in Position 3. He was first elected to Position 3 in 2010. The long-time Sugar Land resident is president of Rice & Gardner Consultants, an engineering and construction management firm. Rice has served in various capacities as a Board officer, including serving as Board president for two years. He and his wife have raised three sons who graduated from FBISD schools.

Rosenthal, a geophysicist with more than 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, was first elected to the Board in 2012 to serve a one-year unexpired term for Position 7. He was re-elected in 2013, and again in 2016. Rosenthal has served the past two years as Board vice president. He and his wife have three children, two of which attend FBISD schools.

During the May 16 meeting, 2016-17 Board of Trustee officers were elected. The new officers are Kristin Tassin, president; Jason Burdine, vice president; and Addie Heyliger, secretary.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as President of the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees,” said Tassin. “I appreciate the confidence of my fellow Board members and have enjoyed serving with each of them for the past two years. I look forward to the year ahead and will continue to serve all of our students, staff and community members.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Dupre presented Grayle James with a special gift in appreciation for her service as Board President. Dupre said, “Grayle has served for the past two years as president, and I have consistently relied on her faithfulness in serving our students and staff, as well as the entire community, in this role.” Dupre also expressed his appreciation for the entire Board, saying, “I am grateful for the Board’s consistent leadership and appreciate their work to build consensus and demonstrate teamwork. They each represent the face of the District in our community.”

“It was an honor to serve as the District’s Board President,” said James. “Serving as president was an experience that I will cherish always. Our FBISD students, staff, parents and community members make it all worthwhile, and I thank everyone for making this a positive and meaningful experience for me.”


(L-R): Dave Rosenthal and Jim Rice were re-elected to FBISD Board of Trustees.

(L-R): Dave Rosenthal and Jim Rice were re-elected to FBISD Board of Trustees.


During a regularly scheduled meeting on June 20, the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees adopted a $592,626,411 general operational budget for the 2016-17 school year. The budget is based on a projected enrollment of 74,111 students, which is an increase of 1,033 students from the 2015-16 school year.

Included in the budget is approximately $2.5 million that will go toward teacher raises, with each teacher to receive a minimum increase of $500, based on years of experience. In addition, approximately $1.83 million will be used for new positions, including 11 Career and Technical Education teaching positions, and $1.85 million accounts for stipend adjustments and equity and job reclassifications previously approved by the Board of Trustees.

Fort Bend ISD’s Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett said while revenues in the 2015-16 school year came in higher than expected due to increased property values, the 2016-17 budget reflects a decrease of approximately $4.4 million in state revenue due to the state’s funding formula.

“As local property taxes rise, the state’s share of funding per student actually decreases,” said Bassett. “This means that even though we will serve more students – and our average taxpayer will pay over 8 percent more in property taxes – FBISD will see less revenue per student. It is our hope that the upcoming Texas Legislature will consider changing this flawed system, but in the meantime, it is important for Fort Bend ISD to exercise caution.”

The 2015-16 revenue per student is projected to be $8,085; and the District is budgeting for approximately $7,945 in 2016-17, a decrease of 1.7 percent. The adopted budget is based on keeping the District’s overall tax rate at $1.34 per $100 valuation. This includes a debt service rate of 30 cents and a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.04.

“Due to strong fiscal planning, Fort Bend ISD is in good financial standing, even as we encounter uncertainties in state funding and prepare to open additional schools. For now, we are preparing to “hold the line” with our overall tax rate of $1.34 in order to demonstrate the most fiscally prudent use of taxpayer dollars,” said Bassett. The Board will formally adopt a tax rate in the fall of 2016.


Joseph Freudenberger

Joseph Freudenberger


OakBend Medical Center’s CEO, Joseph Freudenberger, has been named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Gulf Coast Region. EY is the umbrella term for Ernst & Young Global Limited firms.

According to EY, the awards program recognizes entrepreneurial leaders who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary successes in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment.

EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award with a lifelong network of gravity-defying entrepreneurs. Annually, the business community comes together to celebrate regional semifinalists, finalists and winners who not only create and build market-leading businesses, but also help take the standard of excellence to new heights, transform the face of industry, create jobs and contribute to the vibrancy of communities.

“OakBend Medical Center’s patients are our neighbors, our family and our friends, and we are committed to excellence in all that we do for our community,” stated Freudenberger. “I am honored to be named a finalist for this award. It reflects the successes our team has achieved in a highly competitive, ever-changing environment.”


Dr. Chih-Hsiang (Thompson) Lin

Dr. Chih-Hsiang (Thompson) Lin


Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. (AOI) held the grand opening May 24 of its newly expanded corporate headquarters in Sugar Land. Founded in 1997 by President, Chairman and CEO, Dr. Chih-Hsiang (Thompson) Lin, AOI is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced optical products, including components, modules, and equipment. AOI’s products are used in the CATV broadband, internet datacenter, and fiber-to-the-home markets. AOI supplies optical networking lasers, components and equipment to tier-1 customers in all three of these markets.

AOI’s headquarters expansion project was completed at a cost of approximately $33 million. In addition to its corporate headquarters, wafer fab and advanced engineering and production facilities in Sugar Land, AOI has engineering and manufacturing facilities in Taipei, Taiwan and Ningbo, China. AOI has approximately 2,700 employees worldwide, with 261 located in Sugar Land.

AOI also announced that Dr. Lin has received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 Award in the Technology category in the Gulf Coast Area.The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. The award was presented at a special gala event at the Hilton Americas-Houston on June 16. As a Gulf Coast Area award winner, Dr. Lin is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 national program.


Opening this August is Riverstone’s first on-site campus, Sullivan Elementary, shown here.

Opening this August is Riverstone’s first on-site campus, Sullivan Elementary, shown here.


Recently released rankings of Houston schools once again indicate that Riverstone is a smart choice for parents, with the Fort Bend development served by several of the top-rated schools in the greater Houston area and the state.

Children at Risk — a non-profit organization that annually rates Texas schools based on test scores, student achievement, campus performance and other criteria — has ranked Commonwealth Elementary No. 2 among Houston’s 857 listed elementaries and No. 3 in Texas. Fort Settlement Middle School also was listed as No. 2 in Houston and was ranked No. 4 in the state.

“The strength of Fort Bend schools serving our community is a driving force in Riverstone seeing more home sales in the past few years than any other master-planned community in Texas,” said Trey Reichert, vice president and general manager of Riverstone. “Parents want the best for their children and they are finding it in Riverstone.”

Settler’s Way Elementary also placed high on the list, ranked No. 25 among Houston schools and No. 68 among the 4,188 elementary schools in Texas. Austin Parkway Elementary — the third elementary school to serve Riverstone students — was ranked No. 61 in the Houston area and No. 181 in Texas.

At No. 26, First Colony Middle School is ranked among the top 10 percent of Houston’s 303 middle schools included on the list. It is No. 81 among the state’s 1,670 middle schools.

Elkins High School earned a ranking of No. 55 among Houston’s 171 schools evaluated by Children at Risk. It is listed No. 221 among the 1,159 high schools in Texas.

This August, Riverstone will welcome its first on-site school, Sullivan Elementary. Learn more at riverstone.com.


Toby Yaltho, M.D. and Lisa Alamia.

Toby Yaltho, M.D. and Lisa Alamia.


A physician at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is working to uncover new information about a rare neurological disorder that has impacted fewer than 100 people worldwide since it was first described in 1907.

For Lisa Alamia, 33, the trouble began when she had surgery on her jaw in Decem­ber 2015 to correct a serious overbite. The surgery was successful, and Alamia had minimal swelling. However, when she began to speak, her voice suddenly had a distinct British accent.

“I didn’t notice it at first,” said Alamia. “But my husband told me I was talking funny. My surgeon thought it was just a physical result of the surgery and that it would go away as I healed.”

When the accent persisted, however, Alamia’s surgeon suggested she see her primary care physician, who later referred her to board-certified neurologist Toby Yaltho, M.D., with Houston Methodist Sugar Land Neurology Associates. Yaltho diagnosed Alamia with Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS), which causes patients to suddenly begin speaking with a new, distinct accent. It is frequently a consequence of head trauma or stroke, but not always. “This is a fascinating and very rare case,” said Yaltho. Although Yaltho had studied about FAS, he never expected to treat someone suffering from the rare condition. “Most neurologists work their entire careers and never come across FAS,” he said.

Yaltho conducted a complete neurological exam on Alamia, including an MRI scan of her brain to determine if she had suffered a stroke or other injury, and an electroencephalogram (EEG), which is used to detect abnormalities in brain waves that could lead to seizures.

“Everything came back normal,” said Yaltho. “There was no evidence of stroke or other abnormalities.”

Meanwhile, the accent made Alamia extremely self-conscious and kept her from interacting with others. “For a while, whenever I went out in public, I was afraid I would see someone I know and I would have to talk with them,” she said. “I didn’t want people to laugh or to think I was talking this way on purpose, but Dr. Yaltho has helped me to understand that there is something going on in my brain that is triggering the accent, and that’s made me feel more comfortable.”

Although some people with FAS find that their accent diminishes over time, in some cases it is permanent. There is no known cure. For Alamia, the next steps involve speech therapy and a functional MRI of the brain, which tracks activity in specific parts of the brain by measuring changes in blood flow.

“The human brain is a complex organ, and we don’t know if we will ever be able to completely understand what causes FAS,” said Yaltho. “When we have the opportunity to learn more, we have to do all we can. We hope to learn as much as possible to contribute to the understanding of FAS to hopefully help future patients and their physicians.”

A similar FAS case involving oral surgery surfaced in 2011, when a native-born Oregon woman awoke from a routine dental procedure and found that she spoke with an Irish accent. Like Alamia, over time she learned to handle the questions and comments from both friends and strangers.

“I’ve learned that not everything in life has an answer,” said Alamia, “but the accent doesn’t define who I am. I’m still the same person I was before surgery; I just talk differently.”

For more information about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Neuro­science & Spine Center, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Yaltho, call 281-274-7979.


Former Mayor James Thompson delivers the oath of office to Mary K. Joyce, at-large position two.

Former Mayor James Thompson delivers the oath of office to Mary K. Joyce, at-large position two.


Joe R. Zimmerman and Mary K. Joyce were recently declared winners for the positions of mayor and at-large position two, respectively. They took their oaths of office on June 21 after winning runoff elections on June 11.

Zimmerman becomes the 10th Sugar Land mayor, replacing James A. Thompson who was unable to run due to term limits. Joyce replaces Zimmerman, who vacated his at-large seat to run for mayor.

Council Member Himesh Gandhi retained his at-large position 1 seat after winning the
general election on May 7. He was sworn in on May 17.



Gracepoint Homes announced the opening of its model home in Fox Bend, a new gated neighborhood in the Village of Sawmill Lake, a development within the 10,000-acre, master-planned community of Sienna Plantation in Missouri City. The Fox Bend neighborhood offers the largest homesites currently available in the Village of Sawmill Lake, affording residents both spacious home designs and ample space for enjoying life outdoors. Gracepoint Homes has generous 100-feet-wide homesites and is offering one- and two-story home designs ranging from 3,700 to 5,700 square feet, priced from the $700s. Two new homes are already under construction, slated for completion in June.

“Fox Bend in Sienna Plantation is one of the most exciting projects being developed in Fort Bend and Gracepoint Homes is pleased to introduce our distinctive homes designs to the community,” said Tom Cox, Jr. president of Gracepoint Homes.

The Baxter plan, Gracepoint Homes’ Model Home, is an impressive 5,536-square-foot, two-story estate including a large entrance with a grand staircase, chef’s kitchen with double islands, a spacious master suite with separate large walk-in closets and access to laundry, a study and a downstairs guest suite. The second-floor includes two additional ensuite bedrooms as well as a game room and media room. All designs feature options for multiple porches, oversized outdoor living space and three car garages.

Residents of Fox Bend have access to multiple swimming pools, three water parks, 36 parks and playgrounds, tennis courts, multiple recreation centers, 35 miles of hike/bike trails, lakes for fishing and kayaking, as well as the Camp Sienna Sports Complex and the Sienna Plantation Golf Club. Further, Sienna Plantation is part Fort Bend ISD.



Fort Bend County I.T. has partnered with PublicStuff to create a mobile app to better interface with residents and allow individuals to clearly and directly communicate specific problems within the County.

Connect with Fort Bend provides another option for residents to submit, track and view nearby non-emergency service requests through their smartphones and online. By simply snapping a picture, damaged or downed street signs, potholes, drainage problems and similar issues can be reported and routed to the appropriate County department. Once requests are submitted, the relevant staff redirects and responds to requests through a customized workflow management system. Residents can also use the in-app widgets to find information about events, public facilities and polling locations, as well as receive alerts of emergencies and County activities.

In a time when most people live in the world of apps, citizens will be able to quickly reach out to County staff about a particular problem or issue they might have. Connect with Fort Bend will transform the relationship with residents through technology.

The app is available for download from Apple and Google. Visit fortbendcountynews.info for more information pertaining to local events and updates.



Fort Bend County Officials have determined Aerial Vector Mosquito spraying to be unnecessary for the control of mosquito populations within the county, at this time. Due to the May countywide flooding event, Fort Bend County’s Road and Bridge Department has been monitoring the mosquito population with the expectation of an increase due to standing water left over from flooded areas. As a preventative measure, FBC Road and Bridge has been spraying within a three-mile area of the Brazos River across the county twice per week. Traps set up throughout the county have shown very low volumes of mosquitoes making the Aerial spray unnecessary at this time.

Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert said, “I’m very pleased that our local efforts to control mosquitoes is showing great results. We’ll keep monitoring our traps and are prepared to aerial spray the area if we see a spike in population.”

The county is also using a larvicide disk thrown into standing water used to exterminate larvae to control the mosquito population in areas where water removal is not possible, such as ditches and heavily wooded areas.   To help with these efforts to limit the mosquito population, residents are encouraged to eliminate standing water if possible, dispose of debris that may hold water, and keep yards mowed and hedges trimmed.

For questions, residents living in the unincorporated areas of Fort Bend County may call 281-342-4513. Residents living within a local jurisdiction should call their city for more information regarding municipal mosquito control efforts.


(L-R): Richmond City Commissioner Barry Beard; Mayor Evalyn Moore; Jeff Haley, Si Environmental LLC; Jim Russ, EHRA Engineering; and Regina Morales, Central Fort Bend Chamber.


Mayor Evalyn Moore addressed a crowd of 300 community members, business owners and Central Fort Bend Chamber members at the 2016 State of the City of Richmond Luncheon. The event was held June 15 at Briscoe Manor in Richmond. Moore painted a glowing picture of the city and its future despite the recent flood event.

According to Moore, “Richmond is blessed as a community because we are united as a community and we stepped up and helped fellow citizens devastated by the flood. We are very blessed by that spirit that bonds us together.” In her speech, she recognized City and County staff, Richmond citizens and local and national nonprofits and churches that worked diligently to keep citizens informed and safe during the flood. Moore also thanked Congressman Pete Olson, Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, Rosenberg Mayor Cynthia McConathy and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for all offering assistance to the City.

Moore addressed the new dream of Rich­mond; a journey of economic and cultural rebirth. One such example is the new master-planned community, Veranda, being developed on Williams Way. Veranda is a new project by Johnson Development and the company is working hard to make the community a reflection of old Richmond. Moore also announced that after seven years of negotiations, Richmond will finally have a grocery store. A 100,000-square-foot HEB will be built at FM 762 and Interstate 69. Other developments the Mayor cited included the new Fire Station No.1, the 750-acre Long Acres Nature Reserve and the continued development of Historic Downtown Richmond.

Moore also covered some of the achievements of the City in the last year: five straight years of sales tax revenue increase, an increase of the City’s bond ratings twice over the last two years, recognition for the City’s Trails Master Plan by the H-GAC, an award of Master Plan of the Year by the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association and several awards from the Government Finance Officers Association.

The luncheon was presented by Gillman Companies of Fort Bend, Finnegan Auto Group, Fort Bend Kia and Legacy Ford. Underwriters for the event were Caldwell Companies, Costello, Inc., Johnson Development, Texas State Technical College and Wharton County Junior College.



Superior Tank Company Inc. announced the expansion of its facility in Rosenberg. The existing facility, which serves as a base for the company’s Gulf Coast and East Coast tank installation and service teams, will gain 46,000 square feet, expanding from 8,000 square feet to 54,000 square feet.

Superior Tand, located on Bamore Road, manufactures and installs a complete line of steel storage tanks for the water and petroleum sectors. The new facility will be solely dedicated to the production and powder coating of the bolted steel and welded steel storage tanks and will better position the company for future growth in the domestic and global marketplace.The project represents a capital investment of approximately $4.7 million in the Rosen­berg economy. With an additional 12 acres of land south of the facility already in escrow, further expansion of operations in Rosenberg is projected.

“We’re excited to bring manufacturing jobs to the region and chose Rosenberg because of its flourishing labor market,” said James Marquez, vice president of finance for Superior Tank.

With the expansion, Superior Tank expects to bring more than 100 new jobs to Fort Bend County over the next five years, nearly tripling the current workforce. The project has an expected late summer completion date and an expected end of year operation date.

“It’s very special to have a company already located here expand its business because of its confidence in the city’s labor market and in its ability to find quality employees locally,” said Randall Malik, Rosenberg economic development director.

The City of Rosenberg and Fort Bend EDC, on behalf of Fort Bend County, worked to provide tax incentive assistance to Superior Tank in the form of a tax abatement of 50 percent over seven years. The Rosenberg Development Corp. also approved a performance agreement to reimburse Superior Tank up to $75,000 over seven years for various infrastructure improvements.

“Fort Bend County continues to focus on creating a favorable business climate that helps create jobs and develop long-term commercial investment and growth,” said Jeff Wiley, President and CEO of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council. For more information, visit FortBendCounty.com or call 281-242-0000.

Comments are closed.