It seems that each day, there is change in Kingwood. Local progress was discussed at the June Kingwood Chamber luncheon, held at the Nathaniel Center, which tastefully combined religion, politics and commerce served with a helping of Hasta la Pasta’s chicken cannelloni. Chamber members were given updates on various construction projects in the area. The Harbor Project, on the community's south side, has lots of activity. Kirsten Mazza, sales manager for the Regents Square Brownstones, offered a presentation on the Brownstone project. The units are being built on Kingwood’s new “river walk” and will feature luxury living accommodations. The structures now have a sheath, roof and Anderson windows. Features of the Brownstones will be solid wood construction, Jacuzzi tubs, balconies, second-floor living space, “walk-up” attic space and optional elevators for the handicapped. Tony Raffa, owner of Amedeo's Restaurant on Loop 494, can't wait until his new restaurant opens along the river. His new restaurant, Raffa's, is currently being constructed on the river walk and is described as an “American Bistro.” It will feature 20 wine lockers and an exhibition bar where diners can observe restaurant chefs working in the kitchen. Raffa presented artist renditions of the dining area. “We will feature more than 1,000 wines and a wonderful views of the lake,” said Raffa. Marilyn Gerry, director of marketing for Kingwood Medical Center Hospital, was excited to announce that the largest project in the area, the expansion of the hospital, was opening the next day. The expansion project came with a price tag of $30 million and will provide a new emergency room, ICU, patient rooms, a health care center for women and a cardiac unit. The hospital, of course, is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment from top to bottom. Jesse Sias, administrator of Regent Care Center, gave chamber members an update on his project, located on the west side of Highway 59. He described the soon-to-open Regent Care Center for the crowd: a 194-bed, elegant, long term care facility with a nursing station the "size of a football field." That project is scheduled to open mid-July. Among the newest members to join the chamber were pastors Pieter and Tessa van Dyk. “Folks, after 15 years of prayer, God has led this couple from South Africa to Kingwood,” said Sparky Nolan, Kingwood Chamber of Commerce president. “Pastor Pieter told us that at seven years old, an American pastor visited his church and a voice spoke in his head, 'You will pastor in America.' After building a trucking business and planning two large churches in South Africa, he prayed over an American map for 15 years. Kingwood is now home as they ready to plant a new church.” Patriotism abounded at the meeting. Nolan spoke briefly on constitutional rights; state Representative Joe Crabb was present and introduced. Johnny Seals, a recent returnee from Iraq, attended the meeting with his wife. Chamber members honored him with a standing ovation. Nancy Foisner from Blue Star Moms said, “We help build morale here at home and we want people to know that these soldiers give up their freedoms to protect ours.” As a non-profit service organization, Blue Star Moms is comprised of military mothers who support one another and their children with notes from home and care packages. Members learn what to expect for everything from boot camp to deployment. They learn helpful tips such not watching television news during certain times. Family members, other than moms, can participate as associate members. The group meets the third Tuesday of each month. For more information visit www.bsmhoustonarea.org. For more information on the Kingwood Chamber of Commerce, visit www.kwcommerce.org. Photo of pastors Tessa and Pieter Van Dyk by Rozalie Jerome

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