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Large crowds at Waste Pits meetings discuss well water

OVER 150 residents who live near the San Jacinto Superfund Waste Pits, packed the Highlands/San Jacinto Community Center last Tuesday night, to hear an update on facts about the Waste Pits, and to get more information on the testing of their well water by the Harris County Polution Control department. Jackie Young, at right, speaks.

OVER 150 residents who live near the San Jacinto Superfund Waste Pits, packed the Highlands/San Jacinto Community Center last Tuesday night, to hear an update on facts about the Waste Pits, and to get more information on the testing of their well water by the Harris County Pollution Control department. Jackie Young, at right, speaks.

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Jackie Young, president of the new organization THEA and the San Jacinto River Coalition, held two meetings to update the public on the status of work on the Superfund Waste Pits.

Last Thursday she met with interested parties at the J. D. Walker Community Center in McNair, and this week on Tuesday night she met with the public at the Highlands/ San Jacinto Community Center. Each meeting had about 150 attendees, with only a few at both.

Young said that attendees were evenly divided from affected neighborhoods around the Waste Pits, including Channelview, Lynchburg, Highlands, McNair, and Baytown.

Young spent a lot of time on technical and chemical information, explaining to the interested crowd how Harris County tests had discovered possible contamination, even dioxin, in the well water samples it drew in June. She said that Harris County Polution Control had sampled and tested 100 wells. Of these, 28 had shown to be contaminated, and the well owners had received letters from HCPC telling them “Don’t Drink the Water” until retesting had been completed. Young explained that she understands when the samples were tested, other samples were open nearby, and may have compromised the well water samples.

Harris County is using money from the lawsuit settlement to pay for the testing. Each test, if searched for all contaminants, costs $2,000 and therefore the whole testing program cost $200,000. This was paid for out of the $10 million dollars that the county received from the lawsuit. Precinct 2 has said that all the money will be spent on environmental projects within 5 miles of the Waste Pit site. They have not currently decided how the rest of the money will be spent, but there is under study a proposal to provide water and sewer lines in some of the affected areas.

Young explained that even though the lawsuit awarded $29.2 million to the plaintiffs, including the county, this money cannot be used for individual relief from health problems or well water contamination. These situations must be settled in private lawsuits against the responsible parties, she said.

Read more »

Rep. Green calls for Cleanup of the Waste Pits

REP. GENE GREEN SPEAKS on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging Congressional action on the ZIKA virus, and the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River.

REP. GENE GREEN SPEAKS on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging Congressional action on the ZIKA virus, and the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Gene Green continues to press the government for action on environmental issues, including the removal of the Waste Pits from the San Jacinto River, and funding to eliminate the Zika virus.

In a letter to EPA chair of the National Remedy Review Board, who will eventually rule on the method of remediating the Waste Pits, Green urged complete removal of the dioxin waste.

“These waste pits continue to be a public health threat, particularly for communities in Harris County and along the River. Residents have been advised not to drink water or eat seafood that may have come from the area because dioxin can do serious damage to a person’s immune system, and can also cause cancer and reproductive and developmental problems,” Green said. “This is no way to live. We need to take the strongest measure available to clean up the site.”

Currently, the San Jacinto Waste Pits are partially submerged, and contained under a temporary cap near the western bank of the San Jacinto River, immediately north of the I-10 bridge. The pits were created in the mid-60’s by Champion Paper and McGinnes Industrial Maintenance, who filled the ponds with waste paper sludge from a local paper mill until 1968, when they were abandoned.

Read more »

San Jac plays a role in three generations of Hovsepian family

Nico and Cassandra Hovsepian have made San Jacinto College a part of their family. (Photo credit: Calyn Hoerner)

Nico and Cassandra Hovsepian have made San Jacinto College a part of their family. (Photo credit: Calyn Hoerner)

San Jac Certified: All in the family

PASADENA, Texas – The Hovsepian family can happily say that San Jacinto College has had an impact on three generations of their family. Nico Hovsepian, his mother, his wife, Cassandra, and his daughter, Christian, all attended and were later employed by the College.

When Hovsepian finished his time in the military he was ready to start his career. He enrolled at San Jacinto College and started working toward an associate degree of applied sciences. While earning his degree, Hovsepian worked at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston for two years. Eventually his mother, a San Jacinto College employee, came to him with a suggestion.

“My mom mentioned that San Jac was hiring and that I should apply,” says Hovsepian. “She told me that she really enjoyed working here and that the people were great. She said it was like family,” He quickly applied for the job in the IT department and focused on finishing his degree.

“You become a part of a community inside of a community when you come to San Jacinto College,” said Hovsepian. During both his time working and studying at the College, he felt that he had become a part of the family. That family grew to include his wife, who holds an associate degree of arts and behavioral sciences from San Jacinto College, when she started working at the College just two weeks after Hovsepian started his own job here.

“When my wife started her job here we were able to make our work a part of our lives,” Hovsepian added. “If you work with your friends and family, you always have each other’s back. You can count on the person next to you.”

When his daughter, Christian, began working at the College, Hovsepian saw yet another one of his family members become a part of the community. Read more »

Channelview FFA members receive Lone Star Degree

Four members of the Channelview FFA received their Lone Star Degree at the Texas FFA Convention. The Lone Star Degree is the highest level of membership awarded by the state association. Degree recipients, wearing their FFA jackets, from left, are Hunter Bell, Clayton Hutchins and Trever Thompson. Not pictured is the fourth honoree, Yvette Leos. Channelview FFA sponsors, at far left and right, are Wesley Hutchins and Dominic Mazoch.

Four members of the Channelview FFA received their Lone Star Degree at the Texas FFA Convention. The Lone Star Degree is the highest level of membership awarded by the state association. Degree recipients, wearing their FFA jackets, from left, are Hunter Bell, Clayton Hutchins and Trever Thompson. Not pictured is the fourth honoree, Yvette Leos. Channelview FFA sponsors, at far left and right, are Wesley Hutchins and Dominic Mazoch.

COUNTY WARNS “DON’T DRINK THE WATER”

This letter was sent to 24 households in Channelview and Highlands, advising them not to drink or cook with their well water until further tests could be conducted.

This letter was sent to 24 households in Channelview and Highlands, advising them not to drink or cook with their well water until further tests could be conducted.

Possible Toxins from San Jac River; Congressman Green questions EPA

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Some residents along the west and east banks of the San Jacinto River, near the Superfund Site, have had their well water tested by the Harris County Public Health Department. This is the first time that the county has been willing to participate in this type of general testing, although the San Jacinto River Coalition and others have been asking for tests for years, according to Jackie Young, president of the SJRC.

The county tests came up with surprising and serious concerns with the content of 24 wells, according to Brenda Cabaniss, of the Public Health department. Samples were collected by InControl Technologies for the county. The lab results showed 24 of these 100 wells had dioxin in them, a carcinogen known to cause some types of cancers.

As a result, the Public Health Department of the county sent letters to each of these 24 household, advising them to “use bottled water for drinking and cooking, and for your family pets. Please note, boiling the water will not remove these contaminants.”

“You may continue to shower, bathe, or use the water for other purposes. However, we ask that you refrain from ingesting your tap water.”

However, the letter also states that “Due to a laboratory error, we will need to resample.” The type of error was not clear, either in the letter or in a conversation that this newspaper had with the Health Department.

Read more »

HOLIDAY DROWNINGS; TWO DIE IN SAN JACINTO RIVER, 1 child survives in Huffman

EMERGENCY PERSONNEL from the Sheriff’s office, Highlands Fire/EMS, and Houston Marine Unit search the San Jacinto River near Banana Bend for the 50 year old drowning victim last Sunday.

EMERGENCY PERSONNEL from the Sheriff’s office, Highlands Fire/EMS, and Houston Marine Unit search the San Jacinto River near Banana Bend for the 50 year old drowning victim last Sunday.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River claimed two lives over the 4th of July holiday weekend, and a young child in Huffman almost became the third victim.

The drowning victims included a 50 year old man who walked into deep water at Banana Bend on Saturday, July 2nd; a 7 year old child that went under water at Love’s Marina and Park on old 90 near Crosby; and the near drowning of a 3 year old in Huffman.

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Dr. Angi Williams named Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Angi Williams, Region 4 Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Angi Williams, Region 4 Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Angi Williams, Superintendent of Galena Park Independent School District, has been selected as the 2016 Region 4 Superintendent of the Year.

The Region 4 Education Service Center serves a seven-county area composed of 50 public school districts and 41 open-enrollment charter schools, representing more than 1.1 million students, 91,000 educators, and 1,500 campuses.

The Regional Superintendent of the Year award is sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and honors public school district superintendents. This award program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984. Candidates are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, student performance, and commitment to public involvement in education.

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NORTH CHANNEL AREA CHAMBER hears Dr. Rozo, plans Casino night

Dr. Juan Carlos Rozo, second from left, was the featured speaker at June’s chamber luncheon. He spoke on chronic venus insufficiency, his specialty. Also participating in the program were (L to R) Pravin Sonthalia, Lucia Bates, and Margie Buentello.

Dr. Juan Carlos Rozo, second from left, was the featured speaker at June’s chamber luncheon. He spoke on chronic venus insufficiency, his specialty. Also participating in the program were (L to R) Pravin Sonthalia, Lucia Bates, and Margie Buentello.

The featured speaker at June’s Chamber luncheon was Dr. Jaun Carlos Rozo, of Cardiology Specialists of Houston.

Dr. Rozo spoke about chronic venus insufficiency, which is about the lack of adequate blood flow in the lower legs, and problems that can lead to. He said that factors leading to this condition include family history, age over 50, and obesity. He uses ultrasound to diagnose the condition, and then treats it with one of four methods: laser therapy, sclerotherapy, RF procedure which is a catheter in the vein, or burning the vein, he said. The method depends upon the severity of the leg.

There will be no luncheon in July, according to president Margie Buentello. The next program is on August 5, the speaker is Darrell Pile, CEO of Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.

The chamber is also busy planning a Casino Night on August 12, from 7 pm to 11 pm, at the Jacinto City Town Center.

The Chamber Foundation is having a fundraiser on Friday, August 12th. Foundation Chairman Bill Palko said:

“Our goal is to raise funds to put right back into the North Channel Community for needs such as education, health, youth welfare and housing.”

Read more »

Galena Park & Jacinto City 4th of July Celebrations

july 4th celebrations

CITY OF GALENA PARK will hold its 1st Annual 4th of July Festival, at 1600 16th Street from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Sponsored by the Committee for a Better Galena Park, it will feature Activities, Food, Games, Music and Fireworks at 9:00 pm. Also a Rock Wall, Petting Zoo, 24 ft. Slide, 65 foot obstacle course, and 20 vendors. The pool will be open, and Free from 4 pm to 7 pm. Everyone welcome.

CITY OF JACINTO CITY will have its annual fireworks on “the High Road” between the cities. Begins at dark. Free parking is available at the Galena Park Ag Center on Holland.

Gene Green’s Chemical Safety Act signed by Obama

REPRESENTATIVE GENE GREEN, standing behind President Obama with other Congressmen and women, watches as the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is signed into law at the beginning of June. The bill simplifies and updates standards and regulations for the chemical industry nationwide.

REPRESENTATIVE GENE GREEN, standing behind President Obama with other Congressmen and women, watches as the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is signed into law at the beginning of June. The bill simplifies and updates standards and regulations for the chemical industry nationwide.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Barack Obama signed into law the first overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 40 years the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This landmark bill passed the House of Representatives on May 24 on a 403-12 vote and it was approved by the Senate on June 7 by voice vote.

“For nearly a decade, I have worked to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) because it directly affects communities in and around Eastside Houston and Harris County, home to one of the largest collection of chemical facilities in the country,” said Rep. Green. “The reforms contained in the new law will enhance protections for the fence-line communities next to the plants and the workers in our chemical plants, and respond to the concerns of industry to provide regulatory certainty for job creators throughout our economy.”

The legislation received strong bipartisan, bicameral support as well as support from industry, manufacturers, and environmental and public health organizations. Read more »