A manufacturing company in the southeastern part of Tyler cut the ribbon on a renovated facility Thursday and pledged continued involvement in the community.
Trane, a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, held an open house at its new facility on Texas Highway 110. The company manufactures units for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The project included renovation of the company’s two-story office building and a 40,000-square-foot expansion for its sheet metal department.
“As a major employer in the area, we are excited to make these investments in our facility,” said Ted Crabtree, Trane vice president of operations. “They help make this a great place to work and create a showplace for customers and partners.”
The company received a five-year tax abatement from the city of Tyler and Smith County to invest $6.5 million in the new office facility and hire 50 employees, according to Felecia Herndon, vice president for the Tyler Economic Development Council.
“The new facility will establish a flagship identity for Trane and create an innovative presence that will exhibit the latest innovative technologies,” Herndon said. “The building design emphasizes common space and customer areas to accommodate customers, dealers and installers.”
The event attracted dozens of employees and community leaders, including Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran and Tyler Mayor Martin Heines. After the festivities, the company offered a tour of the manufacturing floor.
“You truly are a cornerstone of all that is good about East Texas,” Moran said. He said the quality of the employees is second to none. “The true value of this facility is its people, its commitment to the community, its commitment to the people.”
Heines said, “You all are such great members of our community. We are so proud that you’ve chosen to stay in Tyler, Texas, this many years.”
At the ceremony, the company announced donations of $5,000 each to the Discovery Science Place, the Whitehouse Independent School District Education Foundation and the Chapel Hill Career Center for Technical Education.
The money will be used to sponsor 40 campers in grades K-6 at the Discovery Science Place and waive fees for low-income children; support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in schools with high proportions of low-income students; and complete a brazing room for 120 students at the career center.
Serge Zotob of Fitzpatrick Architects was the project architect for the building. He said in an interview that the previous building had a massive, opaque front that masked what was going on inside when people drove by.
“There was no ability to tell what was really happening inside, when really this is a flagship engineering and training facility,” Zotob said. “Now when you drive by, you can see all the cool stuff that’s happening inside.”
Zotob said the project was a renovation instead of a complete build from the ground up. That saved money, because the project cost was in the ballpark of $5 million, instead of closer to $15 million, he said.
The project has removed the second floor in several parts of the interior so that the first floor is more spacious and goes all the way up to the ceiling. The remaining part of the second floor largely contains office space for engineers.
The ground-floor break room has restaurant-style booths for seating. The exterior is cut at an artistic angle to resemble the pieces within the air conditioning units that the company manufactures.
“There are 300 engineers working in the facility,” said Steve Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick Architects. “There’s really cutting-edge, high-tech work going on, and we wanted to create a facility that exhibited that.”
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Broadway stars are giving the cast of Tyler Civic Theatre’s “Newsies” a little love.
Stephen Rainwater, the director of the energetic musical playing at the theater, reached out to Broadway veterans to see if they would give the mostly young cast encouragement.
He was thrilled when some of the stars did just that in videos. Their messages are filled with best wishes and inside references to the play.
Ben Fankhauser, who played newsboy Davey in the original Broadway production, wished the cast good luck.
“I am here to wish you guys a fantastic run,” Fankhauser said in his video. “Break your legs, seize the day, it’s going to be great. Oh yeh, I have to give a special shout out to Fritz (Hager III), who is playing Davey, my Davey brother in arms.
“You guys, you’re going to make so many people happy with this production,” he continued. “The show is magical. I remember doing it and just loving it every time I did it. I can’t wait for what you guys are going to give to the community. You are going to be amazing. Break a leg, seize the day, the world will know that you are the kings of New York. Happy newsies guys.”
Ryan Steele, who played Specs in the Broadway run of “Newsies,” said in his video: “I want to send all of my love and tell you to break a leg and have a blast, carry the banner.
“Special shout out to Isaiah Pearson who is playing Specs. That’s a great part,” he continued. “I hope you all are having a blast. I love the show so much and I had the best time doing it. I really hope you guys are enjoying it as much as I did. ... My heart is with you.”
Laura Osnes, who has received Tony nominations for her starring roles in the Broadway musicals “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Cinderella,” also was kind enough to record a message.
“I hear that you guys are doing ‘Newsies’ this summer,” she said in her video. “I’m so excited for you guys. Your incredible director, Stephen Rainwater, reached out to me to send you guys an awesome message of encouragement of good luck and energy ... Lots of broken legs for your opening weekend. So happy opening. I just hope you guys have an amazing run and an incredible time together.
“Tonight (opening night) is the time all of the hard work pays off, she continued. “You get to enjoy the fruits of your labor and make the show your own. So go out there and shine like the stars that you are and seize that day. You are kings and queens of New York.
“Also, special shout out to Miss Lizzy Tucker for playing Katherine — such a great role.”
She ended by encouraging the cast members to take care of themselves and one another.
You can watch the videos and learn more about the cast members on Tyler Civic Theatre Center’s Facebook page.
“Newsies” is based on the true story of a strike by New York City newsboys in 1899. They were protesting because the city’s powerful publishers raised the price of newspapers.
The musical began as a movie that did not do well at the box office before becoming a stage show that was a big hit on Broadway. “Newsies” is known for the songs “Seize the Day” and “Santa Fe” and its group dance numbers.
Performances of “Newsies” are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and continue Aug. 1-4 and 8-11.
Tickets are available on the theater’s website, tylercivictheatre.com.
Tyler Junior College will maintain its current tax rate for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The TJC Board of Trustees voted to adopt its current tax rate of 19.9926 cents per $100 of valuation.
The tax rate of 19.9926 cents per $100 valuation left homeowners with a tax bill of $303.95 on the average home for the 2017-18 year. Maintaining the same rate for 2018-19 saw a tax bill of $311.31 on the average home because of the increase in home values.
That increase yielded about $1.5 million more in the college’s budget. The college is estimating approximately $1.5 million in increased revenues again, pending receipt of valuations from the Smith County Appraisal District, officials said. Last year the average home value increased from $152,031 to $155,715.
The college will host two public hearings on the tax rate, and expects to have the effective tax rate and data for the 2019-20 year by then.
The first meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Aug. 15 and the second for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 22.
In Other Business
TJC President Juan Mejia presided over his first full meeting as leader of the college, thanking the board, administration and staff for their hard work and confidence in him as he begins his tenure.
Mejia also said the college has narrowed its search for a provost, the position he previously held. The board has settled on three finalists, all women. Mejia said if all goes well the school will hire the first woman to ever hold the second highest position at TJC.
The board also approved across-the-board 2% raises for all employees of the college.
TJC Board of Trustees President Mike Coker said the board is committed to getting salaries to where they need to be.
Several motions to preclude the state from seeking the death penalty for one of three men accused in a fatal January 2017 convenience store robbery were denied Thursday in a Smith County court.
Dameon Jamarc Mosley, 25, faces capital murder charges and could be sentenced to death if convicted in the shooting death of Billy Dale Stacks, 62, of Tyler.
Stacks was working as a clerk at the Conoco gas station at 3319 NNE Loop 323 when the store was robbed. Officials said Stacks was shot several times in his head and shoulder.
Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman and Mosley’s defense attorneys announced to 114th District Court Judge Christi Kennedy that they were ready to proceed in Mosley’s case.
Kennedy took about an hour to hear and rule on pretrial motions filed by both parties to include the defense motions asking for the death penalty not to be considered.
Kennedy denied the motions, allowing the state to seek the death penalty.
Mosley’s trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 4.
Two other suspects, Lamarcus Hannah, 32, and Kedarias Hayes Oliver, 23, also face capital murder charges in the case.
The cases of Hannah and Oliver were called after Mosley left the courtroom.
Kennedy told them she didn’t anticipate their cases going to trial until Mosley’s trial is completed. Both acknowledged to Kennedy that they understood and were escorted out of the courtroom and back to the Smith County Jail.
Hannah and Oliver are scheduled for pretrial hearings on Aug. 23.