Mr. Speaker, Mayor Merle Aaron has faithfully served the folks of Humble since his election to Humble City Council in 2005 and his election to Mayor in 2015. My friend, Merle, is a well-respected businessman, devoted family man, and a passionate advocate for the citizens of Humble, Texas. His patriotic spirit, love for God, and love of the community make him a natural promoter of the Humble area.

Merle was the middle child in a family of five boys and four girls that grew up in Edinburg, Texas, near the Texas-Mexico border. He was the first in his family to graduate from Edinburg High School. He was working in construction when he met the love of his life and best friend, Linda. They moved their family up to Humble from the Lower Valley in the early 1960s, back when the Bush Intercontinental Airport was nothing but trees. Merle supervised the crew that poured the runways at Bush between concourses A and B for the opening of what was then the Houston International Airport in 1969.

Merle poured concrete all over Houston, including the original Interstate 10. He came across a job with the Marriott Corporation, where he really got to focus on his construction and maintenance certifications. He took computer classes at Lone Star College—Kingwood, eventually earning the top HVAC license.

When Marriott wanted to promote Merle and send him to Cincinnati, his family had already considered Humble home. He then quickly put that mechanical education to use and decided to start his own company. In 1978, family-owned and operated Aaron Mechanical opened.

Aaron Mechanical had water bill and permitting issues with the City of Humble. Rather than battling with the city, Merle ran for Humble City Council to help come up with solutions. In 2005, he turned over Aaron Mechanical to the experienced hands of his son. This gave him the opportunity to run for Humble City Council and eventually, mayor for the City of Humble. As mayor, Merle has placed a significant importance in infrastructure. He focused efforts into public safety by improving roads and drainage.

Merle has many times been described as ‘‘having a servant’s heart’’, and that held true during the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. He worked tirelessly trying to fulfill the needs of the people of Humble, opening up the Humble Civic Center as a shelter, talking with people who lost everything, hugging and crying with them. Merle worked aggressively to have contractors ready as quickly as possible to begin the debris removal process.

The Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce has been selecting a Citizen of the Year since 1969, recognizing those who show selfless public service and sacrifice. It was no question that Merle most deserved to win the Haden E. McKay, MD Citizen of the Year for 2017. But if you ask him, he would tell you, ‘‘All the first responders and volunteers who went into the flooded areas of Humble to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey. These are our citizens of the year.’’

The City of Humble is important to the Aaron Family. Merle and Linda have three children, eight grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren, who all have or are currently going through Humble ISD schools. For 55 years, their place of worship has been First Baptist Church of Humble. The Aaron family has deep roots in Humble, Texas. Always giving back to the place they call home.

And that’s just the way it is.