Last week, the North Houston Association and its membership gathered at the Hilton Houston North for the annual awards and State of the Counties address. With a packed schedule and the largest attendance on record, the event hit the ground running and began with the awards portion of the ceremony.

Tim Joniec, NHA’s very own board member and Director of  Government & Stakeholder Relations at the Houston airport system was the first to be honored and received the NHA Compass Award. The Compass Award is given to an NHA member who has made a significant contribution to the associations programs and projects. Tim has been a member of the north Houston Association for over 14 years, serving in various rolls including volunteering for a number of board planning committees, helping identify and communicate with local charities or organizations to be honored at NHA events and even helped plan our 40th birthday bash. (Which was a hit!) Thank you to Tim for keeping our board informed on all things Airport, and for all of the hard work and many impactful contributions made to the North Houston Association.

The second honoree of the night was the San Jacinto region six flood planning group who was recognized with the NHA Environmental Impact Award. The Environmental Impact Award is reserved for an individual, company or project that has gone above and beyond preserving, or protecting the environment in the Montgomery County/north Harris County region. The Group was represented by IDS engineering’s Tim Busha and ABHR’s Alia Vinson who together led a volunteer effort as chair and vice chair, respectively, and identified nearly $32 billion of flood mitigation projects that would be included in the regional flood plan and ultimately the first ever Texas State flood plan. Only projects included in the regional flood plan or state flood plan may qualify for Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) grants or loans. The work done by the San Jacinto regional flood plan group will help pump increased FIF dollars into the area. Thank you to all of the hard working volunteers who lent their time and expertise to the group!

The final honoree of the day was Jace Houston, who earned the NHA North Star award for his long-term significant contribution to the entire region. Jace Houston throughout his career has been heavily involved in water policy, the reduction of groundwater reliance and creating a diverse water supply with the implementation of surface water. All of this has benefited the north Harris and Montgomery County areas. In 2007, Jace  got a call from SJRA to come be the new Deputy General Manager of Administration. The role was to oversee the administrative duties of HR, IT, Finance, Risk and work alongside the General Manager plus SJRA’s general counsel in developing a groundwater reduction program and a standardized contract to discuss with all the large volume groundwater users in Montgomery County. In 2012, Jace was selected by the SJRA Board of Directors to replace the retiring general manager and served as General Manager until June of 2023 with distinction. He currently enjoys a role in the engineering company Freese & Nichols, Inc as their general counsel along with enjoying a life that is not so public. Thank you, Jace, for all that you’ve done for our region!


With the awards portion of ceremony concluded, the State of the Counties address began by welcoming to the stage Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, Harris County Commissioners Lesley Briones and Tom Ramsey and moderator Dimitri Millas of Norton Rose Fulbright.

Each panelist took their turn answering questions about the most significant needs as well as greatest challenges when it comes to serving their constituents. Partnership was a hot topic for all as the most recent storms emphasized what good neighbors and great partners can do in times of need. Flooding wasn’t the only issue on the tip of everyone’s tongue though. Both counties could see upcoming bond elections and have active plans for what those dollars would be spent on. The least of which is not transportation infrastructure. Development in North Harris and Montgomery County is exploding but as Judge Keough stated “You can’t have good development without good roads!”