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    January 2015
    S M T W T F S
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    Rancor continues in Galena Park; Council walks out

    WALKING OUT –– Galena Park commissioners Juan Flores, right, Lois Killough, city attorney Jim DeFoyd, and city administrator Robert Pruett stand and prepare to leave the special called council meeting, after arguments about how the meeting was being run by Mayor Moya brought the proceedings to an unproductive halt. Monday’s special meeting had been called to resolve the problem created when the Mayor’s special counsel, attorney Edgardo Colon, had issued a letter to Galena Park’s bank ordering the checking accounts to be frozen.

    WALKING OUT –– Galena Park commissioners Juan Flores, right, Lois Killough, city attorney Jim DeFoyd, and city administrator Robert Pruett stand and prepare to leave the special called council meeting, after arguments about how the meeting was being run by Mayor Moya brought the proceedings to an unproductive halt. Monday’s special meeting had been called to resolve the problem created when the Mayor’s special counsel, attorney Edgardo Colon, had issued a letter to Galena Park’s bank ordering the checking accounts to be frozen. (Photo courtesy of KPRC)

    Mayor attempts to freeze bank checks

    GALENA PARK – A special called city council meeting dissolved into near chaos on Monday afternoon, when members of the city commission or council, and the Mayor were unable to resolve a dispute over authority to sign checks for city obligations.

    This is the latest disagreement that Mayor Moya has had with council members and the city administrator Robert Pruett.

    The mayor has claimed, since taking office in January, that the council and administrator have been conducting city business in a way that violates the city charter. She has presented copies of the charter at council meetings, highlighting instances of non-compliance.

    Mayor Moya also claims her signature was illegally removed from the accounts, but city officials say she refused to put her name on the document.

    The bank, Comerica, requires checks to have two authorized signatures to be honored and paid. In order for the city to continue paying its bills, Council voted a resolution in July to allow the mayor-pro tem, Danny Simms, to sign the checks in lieu of the mayor. This arrangement was approved by the city attorney, Jim DeFoyd, and accepted by the bank. The city secretary must also sign, or as a backup the city administrator.

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    East Freeway bank robber threatens to have bomb

    Suspect wanted for bomb threatened in Bank of America robbery.

    Suspect wanted for bomb threatened in Bank of America robbery.

    The FBI needs the public’s help identifying a bank robber who threatened to have a bomb during a midmorning robbery of a Bank of America branch located inside an office building at 12605 East Freeway in Houston, Texas. Surveillance photographs of the bank robber are being released and a Crime Stoppers reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the bank robber’s identity and arrest.

    At approximately 10:05 a.m., the man entered the bank and approached a teller. He passed the teller a note threatening to have a bomb. Tellers gave the man an undisclosed amount of cash which he placed inside a blue vinyl zippered bag. He left with the cash bag in his hands. Several customers were inside during the bank robbery, but no one was physically hurt.

    The bank robber was described as a Hispanic male, about 5’3” – 5’5” with a stocky build. He wore a dark colored leather-type jacket with a grey hooded sweatshirt underneath, a blue colored knit hat, reading glasses with wired frames, and one white glove covering his right hand during the robbery. He also carried a blue vinyl zippered bag into the bank and left with the bag full of cash.

    Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000.00 for information leading to the charging and arrest of this robber. If you have information about this case, please call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 713-222-TIPS (8477), or the Houston office of the FBI at 713-693-5000.

    CONGRESS UPDATES: Rep. Gene Green named Ranking Member of Health Subcommittee

    gene green(Washington, DC) – On Thursday, January 8, Representative Gene Green was elected by unanimous consent to serve as Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health for the 114th Congress.

    “It is an honor to serve in leadership on the Health Subcommittee on behalf of our District and all Americans,” Green said. “We’ve made great strides in health care reform, but some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens still lack access to the care they need. This Congress, one of our top priorities will be to address these gaps and foster a better system that will provide accessible, world-class care for all, regardless of age, gender, or income.”

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    Special tax deal for Valero approved by city

    VALERO REFINERY in the Manchester neighborhood of the City of Houston.

    VALERO REFINERY in the Manchester neighborhood of the City of Houston.

    Manchester neighbors unhappy with potential pollution

    HOUSTON – Houston City Council in December approved a deal with Valero Refinery to designate their property as outside the city limits, for tax purposes.

    Valero had asked several times for the abatement, saying that if it did not get the relief, it would probably build the expansion elsewhere, in Louisiana.

    As planned, Valero said they will expand and spend up to $800 million on the Manchester location, and bring 25 new permanent jobs to the area.

    The approval by city council was on a 11-6 vote, with Robert Gallegos, who represents the Manchester neighborhood, voting against the measure. Also voting against were Dwight Boykins, Richard Nguyen, Ed Gonzalez, Mike Laster, and Larry Green.

    Mayor Parker said that the company had met with Gallegos several times in 2014, and he had an opportunity to call for public meetings and did not. Therefore, when the Texas Organizing Project asked for a delay in the vote, she indicated it was too late.

    Gallegos said that the city, led by Andy Icken the development director, had been negotiating with Valero for a year and a half, even before he was on council. He said that Valero claimed to have the neighborhood’s approval for the expansion.

    However, officials with Valero apparently communicated on their expansion plans, but not on the terms for a tax break with the city, which is an important part of this negotiation and action by city council.

    Under the agreement with the city, about 160 acres of the total 190 acres that Valero owns will be designated as an industrial district, outside the city limits. The remaining 29 acres must remain in the city due to a quirk in the law about how far the property is from the Houston Ship Channel. This tax abatement is set to last for 15 years, according to the city.

    This arrangement will result in a $5.5 million reduction in taxes on the current facilities at the Manchester site, allowing it to use the money for the expansion.

    Icken said that the city will actually make money on the deal, after fees are paid generated by the new facilities.

    Without the industrial district designation, Valero would have paid $55 million in taxes on existing and new facilities, but now this will be only $38 million for the 15 year period, amounting to a savings of $17 million for the company.

    Valero pointed out in its request that its neighbor refineries are already in industrial districts, with lower taxes. Houston has 104 of these districts, with fees paid in lieu of property taxes.

    The deal will expire in the year 2027 unless it is renegotiated. It also has milestones that must be met. Construction must start by 2017, and completed by 2020, or the property would be re-annexed into the city and the tax break annulled.

    Valero also got a tax break on this project from the State of Texas. In exchange for committing to this expansion, the state gave Valero a $1.6 million rebate of state sales and use taxes, related to the project.

    Valero has been active statewide in seeking tax breaks for its facilities. In several cases it has sued school districts, to have its property assessed value reduced. In these cases, the school districts were forced to return taxes already collected and budgeted, thus putting their own budgets under duress.

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    EAST HOUSTON REGIONAL: Medical Center welcomes its First Baby of The New Year!

    Baby Mikeila Paola makes her debut on New Year’s Day at East Houston Regional Medical Center with her mother, Viviana Martinez, and father, Hector Chavez.

    Baby Mikeila Paola makes her debut on New Year’s Day at East Houston Regional Medical Center with her mother, Viviana Martinez, and father, Hector Chavez.

    Houston, Texas, January 1, 2015 — East Houston Regional Medical Center and Dr. Beryl Randolph helped Houstonians Viviana Martinez and Hector Chavez welcome their baby girl, Mikeila Paola, into the world at 10:12 am on January 1, 2015. Baby Mikeila is 5 lbs. and 10 oz. and is 17 inches long. She was one of five babies born on New Year’s Day at East Houston Regional Medical Center.

    “She surprised us, we were not expecting her to be born this soon,” said Viviana, “we are very happy to add her to our family, and she has a 5 year old brother ready to meet her.”

    “We are thrilled to have the first baby born at East Houston Regional Medical Center for 2015. Each year we help families welcome their children into the world,” said Alice Adams, Chief Executive Officer at East Houston Regional Medical Center. “It is wonderful to be the only community hospital dedicated to our resident’s needs. It is so exciting to be a part of these families’ lifetime memories.”

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    2014 Year in Review

    Compiled from the files of the North Channel STAR

    DECEMBER 2013

    – Inaugural Issue of the North Channel STAR is published. Community leaders and businesses advertise their well-wishes to the publishers, Gil and Mei Hoffman.

    – Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman announces the rebuilding of Freeport Street

    JANUARY

    – Santa Claus parades in Sheldon, Channelview, North Shore

    – Toxins in San Jacinto River are concern to citizens

    – LyondellBasell will restart Methanol plan in Channelview

    – Jim McIngvale receives Points of Light Award from President Bush

    – Galena Park FFA holds successful Livestock Sale

    – North Shore Rotary donates $40,000 for bridge in Park

    – Large Rodeo Art Show held at North Shore High School

    FEBRUARY

    – North Channel Chamber Gala features Debra Duncan

    – Margie Buentello new president of NC Chamber

    – EPA meeting examines dangers of toxins in the river near Channelview

    – Foster Park featured at Chamber luncheon

    – San Jacinto Legends of Baseball weekend held at SJC North

    – Silver Plating specialist at Pineforest Jewelry

    – Market Street Feed owner Randy Arter recalls history of store

    MARCH

    – Trail Ride goes through North Shore on way to Rodeo

    – North Shore Mustangs are 5A State Basketball champs!

    – Water District #36 plans on new tower

    – Scott Stephens, East Houston Hospital partner for heart screenings of athletes

    APRIL Read more »

    Christmas Season starts in Jacinto City

    jacinto city xmas parade 1

    Tradition of Parade, Music, Santa & Tree Lighting

    THE CHRISTMAS SEASON opened last Saturday, in Jacinto City, with the Annual Christmas Parade down Market Street, ending at the TownCenter. Prominent in the Parade was Santa Claus, riding on a Jacinto City fire truck. Heading the Parade was a float with city officials, Congressman Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee.

    About 25 units were in the Parade, and prizes were awarded by the three judges. Awards were: Most Beautiful, Chica’s Revolution Zumba; Most Original, Jacinto City Elementary; Best Marching/Walking, Scroggins Toe-Tappers; Mayor’s Choice, North Channel Martial Arts; and Honorable Mention, Galena Park Jacketeers.

    jacinto city xmas parade 2

    Hundreds watched the parade on Market Street, and then assembled at the TownCenter for the program. Trophies were awarded at this ceremony, and music was provided by the Roger Matheny Family, and performed by Councilman Allen Lee and the Jacinto City Elementary Honor Choir. Santa was present in the Gazebo to greet and hear children’s wishes, and the finale was the lighting of the Tree.

    MORE PHOTOS IN NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE OF THE NORTH CHANNEL STAR

    Harris County Sheriff’s Office elves deliver toys to abused children

    harris county sheriff toys for children

    Santa, Mrs. Claus and the HCSO elves made a stop at the Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) past Friday, December 5 to deliver a truck-load of toys to abused children. The toys were delivered this morning in an 18-wheeler preceded by a caravan with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Sheriff Garcia, the HCSO Mounted Patrol, and other members of the Sheriff’s Office. Now in its 20th year, the HCSO’s annual toy delivery has granted Christmas toy wishes to thousands of clients of the Children’s Assessment Center. The toys are destined for clients of the CAC, whose mission is to provide a professional, compassionate, and coordinated approach to the treatment of sexually abused children and their families and to serve as an advocate for all children in our community.

    AT THE WHITE HOUSE: San Jacinto College commits to expand college access

    San Jacinto College System Chancellor Brenda Hellyer attended the summit, and committed to increasing the graduation rate.

    San Jacinto College System Chancellor Brenda Hellyer attended the summit, and committed to increasing the graduation rate.

    PASADENA, Texas December 4, 2014 – Today in Washington, D.C., San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

    The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college degree attainment.

    Making sure students complete what they started has always been a priority for San Jacinto College, and participation in today’s White House Summit will build on existing initiatives and efforts already in place to promote completing a college degree. Among those initiatives are Intentional Connections, College Success Interventions, Men of Honor and Women of Integrity, Acceleration in Mathematics (AIM), student success courses and faculty advising attached to the course, and an integrated reading and writing program.

    “Student success is at the core of every decision and action we take at San Jacinto College,” said Dr. Hellyer. “We want our students to complete their associate degree, and our success initiatives are helping them do that. When our students succeed, we succeed. An associate degree provides our students the opportunity to transfer to a four-year university, or enter the workforce with the skills they need to start a meaningful career. This is the focus of our entire College, from the Board of Trustees and throughout the College.”

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    Ship Channel celebrates 100 years

    Officials present at the Houston Ship Channel 100 years Celebartion were Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresman Gene Green, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria, Mayor Annise Parker, Congressman Al Green, Commissioner Jack Morman and Judge Ed Emmett with Port officials.

    Officials present at the Houston Ship Channel 100 years Celebartion were Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresman Gene Green, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria, Mayor Annise Parker, Congressman Al Green, Commissioner Jack Morman and Judge Ed Emmett with Port officials.

    Houston, TX – On Monday, November 10, 2014, local and elected officials celebrated a centennial of success during the Houston Ship Channel’s 100 Year Rededication Ceremony.

    HSC was formally opened in 1914 under the salute of President Woodrow Wilson’s cannon after a long history that dates back to the 1830’s. A ceremony and parade to open the channel, a long-sought accomplishment, was held on November 10, 1914. One hundred years later, Houstonians are gathering to celebrate the Channel with the same enthusiasm this Monday, November 10th.

    “The Channel has given us a lot to be proud of,” Congressman Gene Green said. “I’ve never seen development and prosperity in Houston like there is today, and the ship channel has a lot to do with that. By the end of 2015, we’ll see some of the largest ships ever constructed navigating the Houston Ship Channel. To maximize efficiency, productivity, and safety, we need to widen and deepen the ship channel, and that requires dredging and funding. Since the days of Jesse Jones, Houstonians and the nation have seen almost non-stop industrial expansion up and down the ship channel but we’ve got work to do if we want to see that growth continue.”

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