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Posts published in March 2018

Channelview ISD Bus Crashes in Alabama

THE CHARTERED BUS, with 46 persons onboard, left the I-10 Roadway in Alabama, went through the median, and plunged over 50 feet down a Ravine, and then overturned.

Driver dead, 20 students injured

CHANNELVIEW – Parents and school officials were shocked to hear early Tuesday morning that a chartered bus, with 46 students and adults from Channelview, had left the I-10 roadway in Alabama, and plunged down a 50 foot drop into a ravine, injuring most of the passengers and killing the bus driver.

Two buses, chartered from First Class Tours in Aldine, were bringing the Falcon band members back from a vacation and performance at Disney World park in Florida. It was the second, or trailing bus, that had the accident.

Authorities said that the scene did not show any indication that the bus tried to stop or swerve. The path led through the grassy median and over an embankment and a drop of over 50 feet into a ravine.

Alabama state trooper John Malone indicated that the driver, Harry Caligone may have been “unresponsive” prior to the crash, leading to speculation that he actually died of a medical problem such as a heart attack. However, family members said that he had recently passed a physical exam and was healthy.

The accident happened at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, while it was still dark. Authorities said that after the initial 9-1-1 calls, about a dozen fire and EMS departments responded from nearby cities, and about 5 helicopters were used to transport injured people. The bus held about 40 students, age 1518, and six adults. Those injured were taken to 10 area hospitals, according to later reports. Most victims were treated at Sacred Heart hospital in Pensacola, where two remained in serious but not life threatening condition.

Students reported that they were thrown through the air, landed on top of each other, or wedged under the seats. They used the light from cell phones to help get out of the overturned bus. It was dark, cold, and lonely at the bottom of that ravine.

FALCON BAND MEMBERS pose for a group photo at Disney World in Florida, the day before they left on the fateful bus trip home.

Interstate I-10 was shut down in both directions during the rescue operation, and did not reopen for about 10 hours, causing massive traffic problems in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

The lead bus, which had stopped briefly when the accident occured, continued westward and arrived in Channelview about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, where it was met by parents and school officials.

Meanwhile, injured students had been taken to about 10 hospitals in the Mobile and Pensacola areas, and were later gathered at Coastal Church in Daphne, Alabama awaiting transportation back to Channelview. Many chose not to ride in a bus or car, and were put on planes. Others waited for their parents to arrive, and take them safely back home.

One of the more seriously injured passengers was the band director, Aaron Allison, with multiple injuries that required surgery. He had been the last person removed from the overturned bus, almost 3-1/2 hours after the crash.

Channelview ISD superintendent kept parents and media informed of news from the site, and the district issued the following statement:

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to our students, employees, and families that have been affected by this tragedy. As you are well aware, a charter bus carrying Channelview High School band students was involved in an accident returning from Florida early this morning. At this time, we have been able to confirm that 40 students and 6 adults from Channelview were on the bus at the time of the accident. We are aware of numerous injuries. We are now focused on getting everyone back safely to our community. We are extremely grateful for the first responders, hospital employees, and volunteers from churches and schools in Alabama and Florida that have stepped up to help our students and comfort them though this difficult situation. Those communities have opened their hearts and arms to our children and employees. They have provided resources, support, and a safe and welcoming environment while we work through the logistics of reuniting our families. We also want to thank our state and local officials who have all reached out to help us. Governor Abbott, Senator Sylvia Garcia, Commissioner Jack Morman, Representative Ana Hernandez, and Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton have all reached out to offer support and assistance.”

Authorities said that the bus company and the driver had better than average safety records, and their fleet of 58 buses seem to be well maintained. The company employs about 94 drivers, records show.

Pct. 2 opens unique Seguin Park

Drone photo, courtesy of Pct. 2, shows the beauty of the new Juan Seguin Historic Park, on the Ship Channel. In the distance is the Lynchburg Ferry, and at right Independence Parkway. The park features a viewing walk along the Ship Channel, a playground, and historic markers telling the story of Juan Seguin’s contribution to the Texas Revolution.

LA PORTE – Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman announces the opening of Juan Seguin Park. The $3.4 million project transformed the undeveloped greenspace into an educational park that focuses on Lieutenant Colonel Juan Seguin and his role in Texas History.

“We wanted to tie into all the history along Independence Parkway from the Battleship Texas, the Battleground site, Lynchburg Ferry and the David G. Burnet Park just north of this channel,” said Commissioner Morman.

The Precinct worked diligently with the Harris County Historical Commission, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as Juan Seguin descendants to create educational and unique aspects to the park. The park was paid for by funds from the Waste Pits Superfund settlement, and Pct. 2. The park was designed by Clark Condon Landscape Architects, and built by Landscape Art, Inc.

New park features include a pier that overlooks the Ship Channel, a large pavilion with artwork etched into its concrete base, a nautical-themed playground, walking trails, and picnic tables scattered throughout. Park visitors will also find interpretive panels with historical information on the Lynchburg Ferry, Ship Channel, and Juan Seguin.

Juan Seguin Park is located next to the Lynchburg Ferry south landing at 4407 Independence Parkway South in La Porte.

It is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information and updates on the Precinct, visit www.hcp2.com or like their Facebook page “Harris County Precinct 2.”

Jacinto City gets new ambulance

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Fire Chief Rebecca Mier, City Manager Lon Squyres, Senator Sylvia Garcia, Jacinto City officials and citizens at ribbon cutting for the new ambulance. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Jacinto City, TX. – February 19, 2018 – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Jacinto City officials came together for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the acquisition of the city’s latest addition to their emergency fleet.

Lon Squyres, City Manager of the city and former fire chief said, “The new unit was purchased from Frazier Ambulance Company. The grant enabled us to purchase a state of the art unit made for the Gulf Coast climate. Rather than relying on a typical automotive AC system this unit has a 110V HVAC system powered by on board generator. In fact the generator provides primary power for the patient compartment, then the truck’s standard 12 volt system supplies back up power if needed. The stretcher is hydraulic so we don’t risk patient or staff safety trying to lift patients in to the unit. All lighting is LED so there is very little power drain on the unit.

“The ambulance cost was $165,000 but $90,000 was funded by a federal grant that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee located and secured. I would have loved to have this unit when I was young medic,” Squyres said.

Congresswoman Lee said, “Jacinto City now has a new ambulance with modern equipment that will provide for the well-being of city residents. This is an important asset to ensure their safety and security. It’s an example of government’s helping government’s.”

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It’s Rodeo time in Houston

Trail Riders, Parade, BBQ cookoff, Entertainers, and professional Rodeo events

Last Saturday’s Rodeo parade in downtown Houston marked the beginning of three weeks of rodeo events at NRG stadium. The parade included 13 trail riding outfits, and Mayor Sylvester Turner. The opening day of the two week program was Tuesday, Feb. 27 with the popular Garth Brooks as the opening act, and also will be the closing act on March 18.

Richard Gonzalez takes oath as new Galena Park Police Chief

Galena Park Mayor Esmeralda Moya gives the oath of office to Police Chief Richard “Rick” Gonzales and Zeke Cavazos holds the Bible. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Galena Park, TX. – February 23, 2018 – Galena Park Mayor Esmeralda Moya gave the oath of office to Richard Gonzales as Galena Park’s new police chief.

Interim Police Chief Reese Martin resigned after 11 months as acting Chief in order to take a job in Montana as Emergency Management Director. Martin said his moving will put him with his family and allow him to pursue his goal of working in the field of Emergency Management.

Richard “Rick” Gonzales was born and raised in Houston’s Denver Harbor. He began his law enforcement career in 1982 as a Deputy Reserve Officer for Constable Precinct 6 until 1984 when he became a Houston police officer until he retired with 30 years of service. He’s worked in the anti-gang division, patrol division and before HISD had their own police force he worked in the schools and focused on reducing truancy, drug use and gang activity. His last 2 years he worked in the Homeland Security Division.

Chief Gonzales said, “My vision is to make the community and schools safe for the kids and to have a good relationship with the Galena Park citizens. I want to make sure the police officers are well trained and have the resources they need to give the city the best police protection possible.”