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SAN JACINTO RIVER WASTE PITS: EPA presents status report; but Citizens demand action, removal

SJRC Jackie Young, and EPA Gary Miller, explain the current status of the Waste Pits to the audience.

SJRC Jackie Young, and EPA Gary Miller, explain the current status of the Waste Pits to the audience.

Representatives from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with the San Jacinto River Coalition and interested members of the public last Wednesday night at the Flukinger Community Center in Channelview.

The purpose of the meeting was for EPA to present a “status report” on efforts to remediate the Toxic Waste Pits in the San Jacinto River near the I-10 bridge.

About 100 persons attended the meeting, mostly residents from the east and west sides of the river adjacent to the waste pits area. They heard Gary Miller of the EPA explain new actions to repair a tear in the containment membrane, and additional requirements on the Responsible parties. These include 24/7 surveillance by camera, additional warning buoys and markers, and increased inspections onsite from 2 to 4 per year.

Photo shows a team from EPA probing the Waste Pits site to determine the extent of the tear.

Photo shows a team from EPA probing the Waste Pits site to determine the extent of the tear.

Miller described a process that for many residents has been drawn out too long. He said that a Draft Report on possible remediation methods is due in December 2016, and a Final Decision in the Spring 2017.

The audience was not happy with this schedule, and spoke up.
Pam Barta, a former resident of Highlands whose family has suffered serious health problems, possibly from contaminated wells, asked why not deal with this on an Emergency Status. She wanted all fishing stopped immediately, toxin tests carried downriver to the Galveston Bay, and a shorter time schedule for action. She said water wells should be ordered shut down. Her own survey showed residents who “look like we are in a War Zone missing limbs, skin diseases, and more. Very Sick people.” She attributed these problems to the dioxins in the waste pits.

A representative of the Harris County Pollution Control Department, Bob Allen, said the county is taking proposals, due Feb. 22, on testing of wells in the area, and this would include dioxin screening for the first time. He said this testing is being paid for by settlement money from the lawsuit against the Responsible Parties, not taxpayer money.

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San Jacinto College breaks ground on new CIT Center

Elected officials, industry partners, and College leaders gather to celebrate 111,000-square- foot facility last Friday, February 19. (PHOTO BY ROB VANYA)

Elected officials, industry partners, and College leaders gather to celebrate 111,000-square-foot facility last Friday, February 19. (PHOTO BY ROB VANYA)

HOUSTON — Elected officials, San Jacinto College leaders, and industry partners gathered on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 to break ground on a state-of-the-art Center for Industrial Technology (CIT), which will enable the College to keep pace with the rising demand for technical workforce training.

The projected completion date for the 111,000-square-feet center, located on the San Jacinto College North Campus, is October 2016.

“There is a critical need for this new facility to provide training for businesses and industries in the rapidly growing North Channel area,” said San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer. “Student enrollment at the North Campus is increasing and we need facilities to accommodate that growth. Many of the technical training labs at the North Campus are advanced in age and our students need upgraded labs and hands-on experience. Also, existing technical program facilities are not large enough to keep pace with growing enrollment.”

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LULAC Council 402 celebrates National LULAC week

Left to right: Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos, HISD Trustee Anna Eastman, LULAC 402 President Carmen Nuncio, HISD Assistant Superintendent Jorge L. Arredondo, Ed. D, Mistress of Ceremonies Cynthia Cisneros (ABC 13 Houston Vice President of Community Affairs) & Texas House Representative Jessica Farrar. (PHOTO BY ALLAN JAMAIL)

Left to right: Houston Councilman Robert Gallegos, HISD Trustee Anna Eastman,
LULAC 402 President Carmen Nuncio, HISD Assistant Superintendent Jorge L. Arredondo, Ed. D, Mistress of Ceremonies Cynthia Cisneros (ABC 13 Houston Vice President of Community Affairs) & Texas House Representative Jessica Farrar. (PHOTO BY ALLAN JAMAIL)

Houston TX – February 17 – LULAC Council 402 known throughout Houston as “The Education Council” for their successful contributions of Scholarships to deserving underprivileged students celebrated LULAC’s 87th Anniversary during National LULAC Week at their annual awards banquet. Scholarships awarded to students annually are used to pay tuition, fees, and housing costs for college.

LULAC (The League of United Latin American Citizens) Council 402 Scholarship Gala honored State Representative Jessica Farrar District Office “Honoree of the Year” and Dr. Jorge Arredondo HISD Asst. Supt. Houston Independent School District as “Educator of the Year”. Jeff Davis High School performed at the evening with their Mariachi Band.

To date, “The Educational Council” has awarded over $430,000 in scholarships to deserving students.

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San Jacinto College honors MLB players, baseball standouts

People attending the San Jacinto College baseball Legends ceremony included, from left, Nick Stavinoha (Sugar Land Skeeters), Rusty Pendergrass (MLB scout), Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants), Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox), San Jacinto College Head Coach Tom Arrington, Chris Rupp (Deer Park High School Head Coach), Donald Wright (owner of Just Wright Sports), David Rollins (Seattle Mariners), and Larry Wilson (San Jacinto College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman). (PHOTO BY ROB VANYA / SAN JACINTO COLLEGE)

People attending the San Jacinto College baseball Legends ceremony included, from left, Nick Stavinoha (Sugar Land Skeeters), Rusty Pendergrass (MLB scout), Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants), Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox), San Jacinto College Head Coach Tom Arrington, Chris Rupp (Deer Park High School Head Coach), Donald Wright (owner of Just Wright Sports), David Rollins (Seattle Mariners), and Larry Wilson (San Jacinto College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman). (PHOTO BY ROB VANYA / SAN JACINTO COLLEGE)

HOUSTON — San Jacinto College honored former student-athletes and coaches who have excelled in collegiate and professional baseball at the Legends ceremony, held Friday, Feb. 5 at John Ray Harrison Field at Andy Pettitte Park, located at the San Jacinto College North Campus.

Former San Jac student-athletes and coaches recognized at the event included Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox), Duane Walker (retired Major League Baseball player), Chris Rupp (Deer Park High School Head Coach), Rusty Pendergrass (MLB scout), Donald Wright (owner of Just Wright Sports), and Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants).

Belt played for San Jac in 2007, excelling as a pitcher and hitter. He transferred to the University of Texas, where he played two years for the Longhorns. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, moving rapidly through the farm system and joining the MLB team in 2011. He currently plays first base and outfield for the Giants, and was a member of the 2012 and 2014 World Series championship teams.

Albert, a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox attended San Jacinto College in 2002. His professional career started in 2006 with the Houston Astros. In his 10 years in the majors, primarily as a reliever, he has also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Cleveland Indians. He was considered the White Sox’ most consistent reliever for the 2015 season, in which he posted an outstanding 1.21 ERA in his 30 outings.

Relatives of the late John Ray Harrison, San Jacinto College’s first baseball coach, attended the ceremony, including his wife Barbara, their son Robert, and daughter Nancy (Harrison Farries). The ceremonial first pitch of the game that followed the Legends ceremony was delivered by Larry Wilson, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman. Wilson is a longtime friend of the Harrison family, is active in community events and an avid supporter of San Jacinto College athletic programs. After the first pitch, members of the Pearland Little League team that played in the 2015 Little League World Series were recognized on the field.

Meanwhile, San Jac is dominating on the diamond, going undefeated in the first seven games of the season.

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Galena Park FFA raises over $65,000

AMARIS MOYA shows her Grand Champion Steer at the Galena Park FFA Livestock Show and Auction. The steer was purchased by the North Shore Rotary Club, for $8500.

AMARIS MOYA shows her Grand Champion Steer at the Galena Park FFA Livestock Show and Auction. The steer was purchased by the North Shore Rotary Club, for $8500.

Galena Park ISD held their annual FFA Livestock Show and Auction last November, at the Ag Facility on Holland Avenue. Forty-Five lots were sold, and the unofficial total raised for student scholarships and the program was over $65,000, plus so-called “add-ons” after the official bidding. The Grand Champion Steer was raised by Amaris Moya, and sold for $8,500 to the North Shore Rotary Club.

Amaris is a junior FFA member, not yet in high school. 2015 program featured a turkey category for the first time, with Franzely Pena showing the GC bird.

The FFA clubs involve about 35 students from Galena Park High School, and 50 from North Shore High School. President of the GP FFA is Angelica Pecina, and NS FFA president is Jose Garza.

Please see the print edition, or PDF version, for grand champion photos and details.

PCT. 3 CONSTABLE RACE CROWDED

Constable Ken Jones is retiring at the end of his term next January. This vacancy has attracted a great deal of attention and money from potential candidates seeking to fill the Pct. 3 seat.

On the Republican ticket is DAN WEBB, running unopposed in the March 1st primary, but will face the Democrat in November. Webb is a DPS special ranger.

The Democratic ticket has 9 candidates seeking the Constable’s position. One of these will prevail in the March 1st primary, or a runoff will be held later in April.

These candidates, listed as they appear on the ballot, are as follows:

JASEN RABALAIS, chief deputy in Constable Jones office, in charge of the Community Services Division and the Harris County Joint Task Force, which works out of the Highlands storefront. Constable Jones has endorsed Rabalais to succeed him;

MICHEL PAPPILLION, a bicycle patrol officer with the Houston Police Department, with 23 years supervisory experience;

ERIC REED,

JAMES L. STEWART, with 24 years law enforcement experience;

SHERMAN EAGLETON, a sergeant in Pct. 3 Constable’s office;

WILLIAM NORWOOD, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy, and bailiff at the jail;

DAVID “BUBBA” JONES,

ISAAC VILLARREAL, an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney’s office, formerly with the Pasadena Police Department;

KEN MELANCON, a 30 year law enforcement officer and captain with the Harris County Sheriff’s office.

Jones is retiring after 33 years as Pct. 3 constable, and 50 years in law enforcement.

STATE CHAMPIONS DIVISION I – 6A North Shore Mustangs honored

Congressional and State Resolutions noting the successful season are presented to North Shore Head Foorball Coach Jon Kay and the 2015 State Champion North Shore football team by Congressman Gene Green Staff member Jorge Maldonado and State Representative Ana Hernandez last Thursday at the Galena Park Football Stadium. (PHOTO BY ALLAN JAMAIL)

Congressional and State Resolutions noting the successful season are presented to North Shore Head Foorball Coach Jon Kay and the 2015 State Champion North Shore football team by Congressman Gene Green Staff member Jorge Maldonado and State Representative Ana Hernandez last Thursday at the Galena Park Football Stadium. (PHOTO BY ALLAN JAMAIL)

February 4, 2016 — The celebration continued this past Thursday at Galena Park ISD Football Stadium for the North Shore Mustangs football team after claiming the Class 6A, Division I championship with OT win over Austin Westlake.

It was the December 19, 2015 state championship final at NRG Stadium the Galena Park North Shore Mustangs (East Side) (13-3) beat the Austin Westlake Chaparrals (14-2) 2114 in overtime to win the Class 6A Division I championship.

Thursday before a packed home team bleacher of fans, family and elected officials the Mustang football team wearing shirts claiming ownership of not just the school or city but rather the state received volumes of praise.

Coach Kay says hard work and dedication is what reversed the 1-3 losing start of the season to be able to come back and claim the state title. This reminds me of the late baseball legend Yogi Berra’s famous quote, “it ain’t over til it’s over.”

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San Jacinto River meeting explores ways to spend $10 million settlement funds

Ted Hollingsworth, Texas PWD

Ted Hollingsworth, Texas PWD

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition, and the Galveston Bay Foundation, held a joint meeting last Tuesday night, to hear details of the State’s plans to use the settlement money from the lawsuit against the companies that created the Toxic Waste Pits in the river.

Representative from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Ted Hollingsworth and Jim Murphy, reviewed the history of the Waste Pits, and then discussed how the state’s share of the settlement, $10 million, could be used. They explained that the state legislature, through bills sponsored by Representative Wayne Smith and Sylvester Turner, had insured the money would come back to the communities around the river. However, the state stipulated that these funds could not be used to remove the toxic materials, or to compensate individuals for health or other damages.

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Houston Rodeo presented at Chamber Luncheon

AL REESE, Houston Rodeo speaker at the North Channel Chamber luncheon.

AL REESE, Houston Rodeo speaker at the North Channel Chamber luncheon.

The North Channel Chamber was informed about the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo at their monthly luncheon, last Friday, Feb. 5th.

The speaker from the Rodeo was Al Reese. Reese is a financial advisor with Integrity Growth Group, and a director of Integrity Bank. He has been associated with the Houston Rodeo, its new name, since 1986.

Reese spoke about the history of the Rodeo, economic impact that the Rodeo has on Houston, and the scholarship program for youth.

Last year the Rodeo awarded $25 million in scholarships, to over 700 students in various categories of competition. Scholarships are now $18,000 each student, spread over

a 4 year period. To qualify, you must be attending a Texas High School, and plan to go to a Texas college or university, or community college.

Applications for next year’s scholarships are due Feb. 8th, and Reese urged every student to apply.

The Rodeo has 100 full time employees, and over 32,000 volunteers that work to make the Rodeo a yearly success.

The Houston Rodeo is made up of many different activities, Reese said. These include 13 trail rides, of which the first was in the 1950s. Also, there is a World Champion BBQ competition for 3 days, starting Feb. 26. The public is welcome.

The Rodeo will start March 1st, and continue through March 20. Each night there is a livestock show, rodeo events, and world class entertainment. Popular entertainers this year include Miranda Lamber, Pitbull, and Keith Urban on the last night.

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North Channel Chamber hosts annual Gala

Speaker GRANT TAYLOR of TV’s Buck Commander, with new Chamber chairman Lucia Bates, outgoing chairman Kim Gonzalez, and Chamber president Margie Buentello.

Speaker GRANT TAYLOR of TV’s Buck Commander, with new Chamber chairman Lucia Bates, outgoing chairman Kim Gonzalez, and Chamber president Margie Buentello.

HOUSTON – The North Channel Chamber held their 39th annual Awards Banquet and Member Gala, last Saturday night at the Marriott Gulf Freeway. Featured speaker was Grant Taylor, of TV’s Buck Commander, and the TV program Duck Dynasty.

The evening was focused on the members of the Chamber, who received recognition and awards for their contributions to the Chamber.

About 250 persons attended the event, whose major sponsor was Platinum Copier Solutions.

Taylor spoke to the audience about his experiences after joining the Buck Commander group in 2011, and the phenomenal interest the public has in their group. He said at the peak of their popularity, they have had 11 million viewer of their program.

Taylor told of how a small, obscure company known as Duck Commander went from producing 10 duck calls a day, to handling 5000 orders a day, and how it became a household name with the TV show “Duck Dynasty.” The program is essentially a hunting show, shown on the Outdoor Channel.

In 2013 they sold 1.3 million duck calls, more than all the hunters in the country combined.

In explaining why the show is so successful, he notes that it is funny, relatable, and appeals to an outdoorsman’s spirituality.

A new and returning board of directors was sworn in by Constable Ken Jones. Retiring board members Allatia Harris, and Greg Ollis, were recognized for their service.

Ken Jones received a Great Seal award for his service to the community.

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