Fort Bend Focus Fab 15

COVER STORY | By Patti Parish-Kaminski –

While the past 15 years in Fort Bend have been fast and furious for Fort Bend Focus, the years have been filled with fascinating milestones for our community. And by covering the people, places and happenings, Fort Bend Focus has been there every step of the way.  So, what new and extraordinary things have happened in Fort Bend in the past 15 years?  What people, places and happenings have made our community even more fabulous – some even garnering world-wide attention?  Take a look at our 15-year retrospective – Fort Bend Focus Fab 15.


1} Smart Financial Centre  at Sugar Land

Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land.

One million. That’s the number of fans who have enjoyed performances at Sugar Land’s own entertainment mecca: The Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. Ranked 7th in the world in ticket sales in 2019 in theatre venues under 10,000 seats, this state-of-the-art venue has brought top entertainers to the sweet city, including Willie Nelson, Sting, Rod Stewart, Kiss, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin.  And, it’s not all about the entertainment; it’s about the economy.  Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman said, “The City of Sugar Land credits the venue for over $1 million in direct sales tax revenue to-date and projects $26.1 million in annual community benefit over the next 30 years.” Now that’s a smart partnership.

2} George Ranch Historical Park

A reenactment at the George Ranch Historical Park: Soldados checked for valuables on a Texian casualty following a skirmish during the war for Texas independence. 
Photo by Roy Kasmir.

Visitors from around the world travel to George Ranch Historical Park where preserving 100 years of Texas history through the four generational legacy of the Jones, Ryon, Davis and George families is their mission.  The park takes visitors back over 100 years to 1824 when Texas was still part of Mexico. The 20,000-acre working ranch features the 1830s Jones stock farm, historical re-enactments, weaving demonstrations and of course, longhorns.  It is also home to the 1860s Ryon Prairie home and the 1890s Davis Victorian mansion, a sharecropper’s farm and a working blacksmith shop. There’s even a family cemetery. Through their living history partnership with the Fort Bend History Association and the George Foundation, Texas history is alive and well for generations to come at the George Ranch Historical Park.

3} Bob Pack

Sugar Land Town Square’s statue of Stephen F. Austin emerging from the Brazos River. Photo by Joey Belleza.

The work of highly acclaimed Sugar Land-based sculptor Bob Pack has been collected – and commissioned – world-wide.  His energy level and artistic abilities appear boundless as the life-size and larger-than-life bronze monuments he so meticulously sculpts.  Pack’s art can be seen in numerous places around Fort Bend, including Sugar Land Town Square’s statue of Stephen F. Austin emerging from the Brazos River, and the Richmond City Hall, which features a statue of longtime Richmond Mayor Hilmar G. Moore.  Pack’s life-size “The Guardian” depicts a police officer with a young boy at the Sugar Land Police Department headquarters, and the life-size bronze, “Christ, The Good Shepherd,” is located at First United Methodist Church in Sugar Land.  Pack received a Papal invitation and presented the collector size of “Christ, The Good Shepherd” to Pope John Paul II in Rome.

4} Johnson Development Corp.

Johnson Development communities are known for a generous array of amenities, such as the water park at Veranda in Richmond.

Known for innovative and environmentally-sensitive master planning, Johnson Development Corp’s communities often rank among the nation’s top-selling.  In the 556,160 acres of Fort Bend County, more than 22,000 acres are award-winning Johnson Development Corp. communities – eight communities to date.  And their support of Fort Bend doesn’t end with their stellar communities providing taxable revenue.  Through Johnson Development Cares, the corporation has donated millions of dollars to schools and local charities supporting the arts, technology and youth-based programs in an effort to better the communities that so many call home.  Additionally, Johnson employees volunteer endless hours serving in leadership positions for a variety of charitable organizations.  Now that’s a good neighbor.

5} Fort Bend Famous

Many famous individuals have called Fort Bend home. ZZ Top drummer Frank Lee Beard joined Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill in 1969 and helped create the trio’s unique trademark Texas boogie-blues-rock style. It’s interesting to note that although his last name is Beard, he is the only member of ZZ Top who doesn’t actually have a beard.  Beard resides in Richmond where he owns andoperates the Top 40 Ranch.

The Triumphs, a nine-piece Rosenberg-based band had many hits in the 1960s.  The band began in a garage in 1959 and still performs regularly in and around Fort Bend.  And perhaps their most famous member, B.J. Thomas, is a five-time Grammy award winner.  Thomas’ hit Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head made him a household name, and he has sold 70 million records during his career.

Photo from

Speaking of record sales, rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer Travis Scott hails from Missouri City. The graduate of Elkins High School was presented the Key to the City in 2018 by Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen as a part of his hometown’s annual Black History Month Celebration of Culture and Music.  Receiving the award, Scott remarked, “This is better than any award show I’ve even been to.” His third studio album, Astroworld, named after the defunct theme park that Scott enjoyed as a child, led him to return to the area and host a concert on the former site of the theme park.

Photo from

And then there’s Queen B. Beyoncé, her sister Solange and Kelly Rowland, all of Destiny’s Child, lived in Missouri City in their youth. Their Lake Olympia home was featured on MTV Cribs.  From her days as a member of the girl group to becoming one of the best selling artists of all time, Beyoncé now lives in homes around the world with her husband Jay-Z and their three children because after all, a queen needs options.


6} Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land

The Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land.

Only Sugar Land and the Houston Museum of Natural Science can turn a former prison into a world-class science education museum. Featuring a new Hall of Technology focusing on four areas of science – chemistry, energy, geology and salt –  countless fossils, artifacts from around the world, frogs and of course, the granddaddy of them all – Devil Rex, a 65 million-year-old tyrannosaurs rex, the former Main Unit of the Central State Prison Farm re-opened as the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land on Saturday, October 3, 2009.  And the rest, as they say, is history.


7} Fort Bend Strong

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 survey showed the population of Fort Bend County at over 585,000, and it remains one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.  In August of 2019, SmartAsset conducted a study to determine counties with the most favorable Purchasing Power, and Fort Bend ranked 5th in the nation, 2nd in Texas and 1st in the Greater Houston area based on cost of living and median household income. That equates to a Purchasing Power Index of 92.26 with a median income of just over $93,000 with a cost of living just north of $44,000 annually. And, according the U.S. Census in 2016, Fort Bend County is the fastest growing large county in the nation.  That’s Fort Bend Strong.

8} BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Stafford.

Open to people of all faith and backgrounds with free admission year-round is an architectural and spiritual treasure in Stafford that is other worldly.  The Mandir is a place of worship and prayer for followers of Hinduism, and the structure was built according to the Shilpa Shastra, a collection of architectural treatises that have been an integral part of Indian architecture and engineering for thousands of years.  The first traditional Hindu Mandir of its kind in North America, the Mandir was inaugurated in July of 2004 after only 16 months of construction time utilizing 1.3 million volunteer hours. Comprised of two types of stone – Turkish Limestone and Italian Marble – more than 33,000 individual pieces were carved by hand in India, shipped to the USA and assembled in Stafford like a giant 3-D puzzle. The ancient wisdom of Hinduism is presented through appealing visual effects, paintings, tableaux and traditional craftwork representing India’s contributions in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, education and religion.

9} Missouri City Centre at Quail Valley

Missouri City Centre at Quail Valley.

The Quail Valley Country Club opened as a private facility in 1970, but by the early 2000s, the country club, which included roughly 400 acres, a 36-hole plus an “executive” 9-hole course and a par-3 9-hole course, was in trouble.  The property was falling into disrepair, and the future looked bleak both for the property and the surrounding home owners as the club owners asked the City to rezone the 400 acres so they could sell the property for development.  Missouri City took over the facility through eminent domain proceedings on March 3, 2008 and held a bond election in November 2008 to fund the purchase and make the improvements. Officially opening in 2012 after numerous improvements were made to the course and facility, today the Quail Valley courses – rated second only to Memorial by Golf Magazine – are open to the public with reduced rates for residents.  There’s a state-of-the-art event facility featuring a restaurant and multiple meeting rooms.  The Missouri City Centre at Quail Valley regularly hosts golf tournaments, community activities and special events, including the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Golf Tournament, Tailgate and Watch Party for the 2017 Super Bowl.

10} Fort Bend Olympians

Fort Bend has gone for the Gold in a big way with Olympians representing not only the United States, but Fort Bend County as well.  Olympic athletes with Fort Bend roots include Steven, Mark and Diana Lopez.  For these Sugar Land siblings, the Olympics are a family affair.  In the Beijing Olympics, they became the first set of three siblings since the 1904 games to have been on the same Olympic team.  And their coach?  Brother Jean Lopez.  Taekwondo athletes, Steven Lopez won the Gold in 2000 and 2004 and the Bronze in 2008, Mark Lopez won the Silver in 2008 and Diana Lopez won the Bronze in 2008.

Born in Sugar Land, Simone Manuel won two Gold and two Silver medals at the 2016 Olympics in swimming.  Manuel was the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic Gold in swimming and set both an Olympic record and an American record.

And of course, there’s the darling of the skating world.  Sugar Land’s Tara Lipinski, the youngest ladies’ Olympic figure skating champion and the youngest individual gold medalist, won the Gold in 1998.

Will Fort Bend raise more Olympians in the future?  We would bet the Gold on that!

11} Constellation Field

Constellation Field in Sugar Land.

When the Sugar Land Skeeters buzzed into town, they needed not only a place to land, but a place to play ball.  The plans for their home, Constellation Field, were well under way by the time the team got their official name with the City of Sugar Land looking for potential sites in the early 2000s.  By 2010, Sugar Land had inked a deal with Opening Day Partners to bring professional minor league baseball to Sugar Land.  The $35 million multi-purpose Constellation Field was built to Triple-A standards, and on April 14, 2012, it opened for the The Epic Grand Opening Gala.  Later that month was Opening Day, and the first-class facility remains a source of community pride.  The stadium is open year round for events and as then Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson said, “When you consider the affordable ticket prices of minor league baseball, the quality product we have put on the field and the wholesome family atmosphere, it’s safe to say that we’ve hit a home run.”

12} Texas State Technical College

Texas State Technical College in Rosenberg.

Founded in 1965 with nine campuses throughout the state, Texas State Technical College (TSTC) opened its tenth state-of-the-art campus in Rosenberg in 2016. The only Texas college to adopt a funding model based on student employment outcomes, TSTC strives to strengthen Texas with a highly skilled, technically-competent workforce by offering degrees in programs in Fort Bend County, including Industrial Systems Technology, Cyber Security and Welding Technology.  “Attracting one of the most sophisticated technical-vocational institutes in the country to Fort Bend is a major asset for the economic future of our community,” said former Rosenberg Mayor and Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales.  “Research conducted by the Perryman Group estimated that there will be nearly 6,000 new positions for mechanics and technicians trained in repair technologies each year in Fort Bend through 2020.  Now, we have the educational facility to train that projected workforce.”

13} Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.

One building, 22 beds and 160 employees – that was the size of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital when they opened in 1998. Today, the hospital’s campus includes 347 medical, surgical and intensive care beds; 27 operating rooms in three patient towers; a stand-alone Orthopedics and Sports Medicine facility and Cancer Center; comprehensive Heart & Vascular Center, Neuroscience & Spine Center and a Breast Care Center; a newly expanded Childbirth Center with a Level II NICU; three medical office buildings; and primary care physician offices located throughout Fort Bend.  And, the hospital is the second-largest private employer in Fort Bend with more than 2,200 employees. Like medicine, Houston Methodist Sugar Land is always evolving to fit the needs of a growing community, and CEO Chris Siebenaler is committed to making Houston Methodist Sugar Land the premier health care facility in Fort Bend. “We continue to strive for excellence in medicine by providing the most up-to-date care and technology possible right here in Fort Bend. We are proud to call Sugar Land home.”

14}  Mayors Hilmar Guenther Moore and Evalyn Wendt Moore

Richmond Mayor Evalyn Moore with the bronze statue of her late husband, Mayor Hilmar G. Moore, at Richmond’s City Hall. Photo by Nesossi Studios.

Hilmar Guenther Moore was appointed Mayor of Richmond on September 22, 1949 and held the office until his death on December 12, 2012.  Born in San Antonio and raised by his parents, Dorethea and John Moore, Hilmar lived his entire life in Richmond attending high school there and graduating in 1938.  He attended college at The University of Texas in Austin majoring in law and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.  He joined the U.S. Air Corps in 1942 earning several Medals of Honor.  He returned to Richmond in 1946 and was appointed to Mayor to fill an unexpired term.  Mayor Moore won 32 consecutive elections for two-year terms, totaling 63 years in office, and he is believed to be the longest serving mayor in the United States.

The widow of Mayor Hilmar Moore, Evalyn Wendt Moore, has made history as well.  The first woman to serve as Mayor of Richmond, on Monday, December 17, 2012, Evalyn was sworn in as Richmond’s new mayor, serving the unexpired term of her late husband.  A staunch community servant, Mayor Moore has served as president and docent of the Fort Bend History Association, a trustee of the Southwest Cattle Raiser’s Association and a board member of OakBend Hospital.  As of 2019, she has served as Richmond mayor for seven years.

15} 5-Star Fort Bend Chamber

Those of us who grew up with Kermit the Frog know, “It’s not easy being green.”  Well, it’s also not easy to be a 5-Star Accredited Chamber of Commerce.  Just ask the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce who has earned this accreditation for the second time ranking it among the top 1.5 percent of the over 7,000 chambers in the nation.  Awarded by the United States Chamber of Commerce, this is the only national program that recognizes chambers for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures and positive impact on the community. A score of 90% or better must be achieved in nine areas, and the Fort Bend Chamber received a perfect score in five categories.  The Fort Bend Chamber remains the only 5-Star Accredited Chamber in the Greater Houston region.  Chairman Rehan Alimohammad said, “Our 5-Star community deserves a 5-Star chamber that advocates for excellence in our community. This designation is a reflection of the professional staff and army of volunteers who serve its mission.”