WAXAHACHIE - Members of the community and Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce met at the Civic Center on Jan. 25 to hear the latest information on the 360 tollway, the honorable strides Waxahachie ISD has made and the Mayor’s State Address.

Angelica Solano spoke on behalf of the North Texas Tollway Authority sharing that the 9.7-mile stretch would be open this spring. Essentially, the road connects Interstate-30 to Mansfield, allowing the drive to DFW Airport 20 minutes closer.

At this point, toll rates are 18 cents per miles, meaning the total cost of traveling on the stretch would be about $1.80. Solano recommended travelers purchase a TollTag or else they would have to pay double this price.

TollTags range from $20 to $40. Solano said Texans benefit from the tag because it works throughout the state of Texas, Oklahoma and even parts of Kansas. Solano pointed out that only the sticker TollTag is acknowledged in Oklahoma, not the hard case tag.

Solano asked the audience to raise their hand if they already have a TollTag and about more than half of the people in the room had their hands in the air.

Another benefit of the toll road is the free roadside safety services it provides. The NTTA recently launched their new #999 number for roadside assistance.

Once the $343,000,000 project is paid off, the road will continue to serve as a toll road and will never revert back to a free road.

“We are so excited to be in Ellis County. We hope you will see the benefits of our well maintained roads, landscaping and everything that we have to offer to our customers in terms as safety,” Solano expressed.

Next, Superintendent of Waxahachie ISD Jeremy Glenn presented statics showing the perspective of where the district stands in the state.

At first, Glenn pointed out that the United State of America is ranked number 17 in the world in education, but our nation is unique due to the public school system. Even though Americans don’t rank as high on standardized tests, Americans do rank number one in a couple of areas due to the public school system. He said high school graduates are college and career ready straight out of school and for people who are 25 to 35 are ideal entrepreneurs.

When comparing that data to WISD, Glenn pointed out that the district is currently ranked 10 in the Lone Star Cup of 2018. This competitive UIL system ranks districts based off of their athletics, extracurriculars, and UIL academics.

The room filled with applause for the district’s achievement.

Glenn also mentioned that all Waxahachie schools in the district met the state standard and took home 23 state academic distinctions, putting WISD first in Ellis County.

Applause once again filled the room.

Another landmark in the district’s history is the new high school.

“Kudos to our city council,” Glenn acknowledged. “We are about to open what is the premier high school, not in Ellis County, not in the metroplex, but in the state of Texas.”

The building that can house 3,500 students consists of 11 acres, which sits on 110-acre campus. But to put size in perspective, Glenn said there’s four miles of piping under the building and “if you were to stretch out the wiring for the technology infrastructure, it’s 87 miles long.”

At this point, the high school is planned to open on time and under budget.

Wrapping up the morning’s presentations, Mayor Kevin Strength elaborated on the advancements the city has made with parks and new infrastructure.

Along with the big businesses that have popped up in Waxahachie, a few more have been planned to be built. But Strength said it was the new high school that’s made the biggest difference in the city.

“The high school is really big for our community as it has changed the way that we are looked at in the metroplex,” Strength said.

With how the city is developing, Strength pointed out that the Texas Department of Transportation categorizes Waxahachie as an urban area instead of rural.

There are several street projects starting or have been in progress. The city is also focusing on the residential growth. Strength mentioned how North Grove development is bringing in about 1,300 homes.

Currently, the Waxahachie Police Department is under construction on Farley Street and is planned to open in June or July of this year.

Along with reconstruction of sidewalks and buildings, the mayor put his focus on park improvements. He said half a cent of the sales tax goes toward park improvements.

The city council asked for five million dollars to put in a trail and to upgrade equipment at the parks. The trail will go from Farley Street to Wedgeworth Elementary School.

After the city was granted the funding, improvements were made at Browns Chiles Park. The park was issued a swing set; it’s first set of playground equipment yet. Also, there was the addition of new basketball courts around town.

At Brown Singleton Park the city added shade structures and rope challenges. At Matthews Park the city added a splash pad and shade structures.

Strength ended is presentation saying, “I’m really proud of the city and it’s been an honor to serve the city. It’s been a humbling experience.”

The presentation was wrapped up as city council members shared brief words with the audience reflecting on the past year.