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Galena Park Council meeting returns to calm

ANGERED FORMER COMMISSIONER. At the most recent council meeting of March 7, 2017 Former Commissioner Robert Clowers (hands raised) tells Mayor Moya she had no legal authority to ask Chief Mata neither to resign nor to pay him $12,000 in severance pay if he’d resign without having first bringing the issue before the entire council for a collective decision. He ended by saying the city is being ran like Larry, Curly and Moe (The 3 Stooges). (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Interim Police Chief lays the Law Down to Citizens

Galena Park, TX, March 7, 2017 — In a remarkable difference from the heated council meeting two weeks before Mayor Moya and the Commissioners calmly took care of the city’s business on the agenda without any disruptions largely due to the stricter meeting rules the mayor had Interim Police Chief Reese Martin explain to the citizens prior to calling the meeting to order.

Mayor Moya kept a tight rein on the agenda making sure all business was taken care of in an orderly manner. The mayor even translated in Spanish some of the most important issues on the agenda so those not familiar with English could be well informed.

After the mayor gave an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag the council gave unanimous approval of the previous meeting’s minutes. Commissioner Oscar Silva Jr. was absent.

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Galena Park Mayor replaces Police Chief Mata bringing controversy to city

Galena Park, Texas — In an interview with North Channel Star writer Allan Jamail, the former Galena Park Police Chief Edward Mata said that on February 28, 2017, he met with Mayor Esmeralda Moya and Water & Sewer Commissioner Rodney Chersky, where the mayor told him to resign or he’d be fired for insubordination.

Mata said Mayor Moya told him she felt he was insubordinate when he refused her instructions to remove a former Commissioner Maricela Serna at the February 21st council meeting where Serna and some citizens were speaking out of order.

Mata said, “I told the mayor I disagreed with her, I was not insubordinate, I told her she herself failed to follow the Meeting Rules for keeping order in the meetings by her not having first given Serna a warning.”

Mata said he reads the Meeting Rules almost before every council meeting.

Furthermore Mata said, “The mayor positively did not instruct me to remove Serna or anyone else specifically. When I heard citizens speaking out of order, I then noticed the mayor raising her hand and pointing towards a group of citizens in attendance and she said, ‘Mata.’”

The former chief said he thinks he handled the situation correctly. “I ordered those speaking out of order to stop or they’d be removed, and because of my warning the meeting became orderly.”

Mata continued to say in his defense had he arrested someone without a violation of the Meeting Rules or any law violation then both he and the city could have been sued. He went on to say, “The official minutes of the meeting will support my claim of the mayor never instructing me to remove anyone.”

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New ShowBiz Cinema opens on Beltway 8

North Channel Chamber of Commerce welcomed Showbiz Cinemas as a new member at a ribbon cutting on Thursday, March 2nd. Location is on Beltway 8 at Highway 90.

The brand-new facility marks the first theater to open in East Harris Countyrecently, and represents ShowBiz’s third location in Houston to date. The new theater will feature 11 auditoriums with cutting edge digital projection, floor-to-ceiling/wall-to-wall screens, state-of-the-art sound systems, party rooms, a lavish full bar, and an arcade center with redeemable prizes, as well as an SDX auditorium. SDX is ShowBiz Cinemas’ exclusive premium large format label, which offers movie-goers the Superior Digital eXperience. Each SDX auditorium features a massive 70ft screen, 4K DLP digital projection, immersive Dolby Atoms surround sound, and oversized custom made leather chairs.

County will test additional wells


Harris County has announced that they will test additional private water wells in Highlands and Channelview. The project is named Phase II Drinking Water Well Sampling Project, and is a joint collaboration between Pct. 2, Pollution Control, and Public Health departments of the county. It is being paid for by funds from the settlement obtained from the PRP (Potential Responsible Parties) in the Waste Pits lawsuit. Private wells in the 77530 and 77562 zip codes are eligible, if they meet other criteria listed below. (SEE MAP TO THE RIGHT FOR PURPLE AREAS). If you are qualified, you must call 713-274-0911 before March 10 to register. Calls will be returned with an acknowledgement.

Testing will be performed at no cost to homeowners, and results will be provided to each.

Qualification Criteria:

  • Property Owner must sign a consent form;
  • Property must be located in areas shown on the map;
  • Drinking water on property must be provided from a single family, privately owned residential well, with no other water source;
  • Properties that were previously sampled in Phase I are not eligible for resampling.

Galena Park replaces police chief

Galena Park’s police chief, Edward Mata, was replaced by Mayor Esmeralda Moya and City Commissioner Rodney Chersky this week, according to media sources.

The Mayor was reportedly unhappy with Mata because he let an audience member, former City Commissioner Maricela Serna, speak out several words of disagreement during the last Commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, February 21. He warned her not to speak during the meeting, but did not remove her from the room, which is what the Mayor thought should have been done.

The city reportedly appointed a new “interim” police chief from the department’s roster. Mata had been chief since last June 2016, and also served on the force as an officer, prior to 2014.

United Community Credit Union mourns Joe Harwell death

March 1, 2017 – It is with great sadness that United Community Credit Union mourns the loss of President / CEO, Joe Harden Harwell. Known in the financial industry as a successful businessman and a passionate community supporter, Harwell leaves behind a legacy of leadership. The United Community staff describes him as a generous and inspiring mentor who considered everyone an extension of family.

Before succumbing to his battle with cancer, Harwell faithfully served United Community for over 20 years. He was also President of the Galena Park ISD Education Foundation Board, as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the East Houston Regional and Bayshore Medical Centers. Prior to joining United Community in 1995, he served as CEO of several other financial institutions, and was a US Navy Veteran. Harwell was a dedicated leader and will be dearly missed. He is survived by his wife, Jie Harwell, as well as a host of family and friends.

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NEW AREA BUSINESS: Frost Bank holds Ribbon Cutting

Photos courtesy of Katy Anderson, Blance Beltran.

Frost Bank’s new branch on I-10 East held a ribbon cutting last Wednesday, Feb. 15, and finished the week with a Chuck-Wagon Lunch on Friday, and a Touch-A-Truck event for youth on Saturday.

The photo above shows the official ribbon cutting, with Andrew Harrell holding the scissors, and others including Chamber president Adam Lund, executive director Margie Buentello, ambassadors from the Chamber, and Youth-Reach’s director Curt Williams at right. The bank made this organization the recipient of a generous check to show their their support for community groups.

The Grand Opening continues through April, with visitors eligible for prize drawings.

Rep. Jackson Lee & Comm. Rodney Ellis fight to save the Affordable Care Act

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis welcoming health care professionals and citizens to the Save the Affordable Healthcare Act forum. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Houston, TX. Friday, February 17, 2017 — At the Julia C. Hester House, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of the 18th Congressional District joined with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and health professionals at a community forum on saving the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a law that has expanded the access to affordable health care to millions of Americans.

Congresswoman Lee said, “Quality affordable health care ought to be a right and not a privilege and that’s why we can’t afford to turn the clock back now; the Affordable Care Act is not about statistics, it’s about the people you know and love.”

Health Professionals included, Dr. Natalie Dailey infectious disease specialist; graduate Harvard Medical School, George Masi, President and CEO of Harris Health, Steve Schnee, Executive Director of the Harris Center for Mental Health, Dr. Janice Beal, Ann Thielke, CEO, Good Neighbor Healthcare Center-Fourth Ward Clinic, Dr. Ann Barnes, Chief Medical Officer, Legacy Community Health Montrose Clinic, Steve Williams, Director, Houston Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Dona K. Murphey, Formerly Associated with Baylor College of Medicine.

As a result of the ACA:

• 100 million Americans no longer have a life-time limit on healthcare coverage.

• 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.

• 6.6 million young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

• 6.3 million Seniors in the “donut hole” have saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs.

• 3.2 million Seniors have access to free annual wellness visits under Medicare, and

• 360,000 Small Businesses are using the Health Care Tax Credit to help them provide health insurance to their workers.

The risks of repeal and dismantle, the plan Republicans have for the ACA are profound. In Texas alone, 1,874,000 individuals who have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented could lose it if the law is entirely or partially repealed.

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Galena Park commission places Alcohol on Ballot

GALENA PARK’S COUNCIL MEETING THIS WEEK was marked by yelling and verbal epithets between the audience and council members and the Mayor, and also between councilmen themselves. Commissioner Eric Broussard in a heated exchange, called out to the Mayor “You’re a Big Liar” as they were arguing over needed repairs and remediation to the Evelyn Churchill Community Center Building in Galena Manor. Police Chief Ed Mata, seen above right, stares down a heckler from the audience, warning her that she could be removed from the room if she speaks out again.

Rancor returns to commission meetings

GALENA PARK – Several controversial issues were on the agenda for this week’s City Commission meeting Tuesday night, and disagreements and accusations set the tone for the meeting.

In addition to some heated words between commissioners and the Mayor, the audience also expressed displeasure in the way the city was being managed.

Discussions and words became so loud and heated that the Galena Park police entered the room, and moved toward the perpetrators, in an attempt to quiet them down.

After approval of minutes, the Commission passed a resolution regarding the public’s right to see government records. City Attorney Robert Collins made a point that the wording of the resolution followed state guidelines for Open Record Requests.

Some in the audience felt it was an effort to restrict public access to information.

The Commission then voted 4-0 to designate the Houston Chronicle as the official newspaper of the city. In effect, this took that designation away from the North Channel Star. After the meeting, the Mayor told the publisher of the paper that they wanted more Galena Park news in the Star, and more price competition on the cost of legal ads, even though the Chronicle is known to be quite expensive compared with the Star. No mention was made of the paper’s reporting of misconduct, but Moya said there were “other issues.”

In the most important agenda item, and not without controversy, the Commission discussed and voted on putting on November’s ballot an item that would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages within the city. Commissioners Silva and Broussard said they felt the resolution was not clearly written, needed more time for discussion, and should be tabled. City attorney Collins said they had to vote on it, because there were sufficient petitions received to require a vote by state law. When the vote was 2-2 to table, Mayor Moya declared “the Ayes have it” by voting too.

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DA won’t prosecute minor marijuana cases

District Attorney Kim Ogg (center) announced the diversion program during a press conference held at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, where she was accompanied by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, among others.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday a new program to deal with cases of low amounts of marijuana that she described as part of a new era in the county’s criminal justice system.

Under Texas law, having four ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Starting March 1st, people caught with that amount, or lower, will get a second chance before going to jail.

“You will be offered a chance to sign an acknowledgement form promising to take a decision making class, a cognitive decision making class. Takes four hours and costs $150. You’ll be required to do that within 90 days,” Ogg explained during a press conference held at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, located in downtown Houston.

One of the arguments Ogg made was the high cost of arrests and prosecutions for these types of cases.

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