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Jacinto City Police recognized for robbery arrests

Jacinto City Police Department Personnel receiving recognition plagues. L – R: Lt. D. Walker, Patrolman O. Elizondo, Cpl. A.J. Seydler, Dispatcher Esther G. Perez, Chief J. M. Ayala, Sgt. B.J. Silva, Sgt. E. Ramos, Patrolman A. Kamali and Patrolman T. Hodges. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Jacinto City, TX. – June 28, 2018 — At the Jacinto City Council meeting, Lt. D. Walker, Sgt. B.J. Silva, Sgt. E. Ramos, Cpl. A.J. Seydler, Patrolman O. Elizondo, Patrolman T. Hodges, Patrolman A. Kamali and Dispatcher Esther G. Perez were recognized for their outstanding service to the city. Police Chief Joey Ayala commended them for their quick action in two separate armed robberies between April and May that cumulated in the felony arrest of eleven robbery suspects.

Chad Burke, President of The Economic Alliance Corporation for the Houston Ship Channel region, in which the city is a member, gave their annual report.

Allan Jamail, founder of the Keep Jacinto City Clean Committee, questioned how building work at 10902 Lane Street on a home was allowed for six months without a valid building permit. City Manager Lon Squyres said currently a Stop Work Violation Red Tag has been placed on the building and the owner has been notified of the violations to the city’s building code and the requirement to obtain a building permit before any future work can continue.

Waste Pits need additional repairs

San Jacinto Riverbed scouring image post Hurricane Harvey. Gridded areas of riverbed labeled A, B, C, D will be repaired, as well as exposed toxin area in Northwest corner (dark blue).

Toxic material exposed, cap membrane missing

EPA Directs Additional Repairs for San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site

DALLAS – June 29, 2018 — The EPA is directing the potentially responsible parties of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site in Texas to take immediate action to address damage to the protective cap. Initial repairs will begin shortly at the damaged areas where the protective rock was missing. Upon completion, EPA will inspect the final repair.

EPA received preliminary data from sediment samples collected by EPA’s dive team from twenty-two small areas measuring up to 50 square feet at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site. Samples from twenty-two of the areas confirmed the protective cap is absent and the underlying waste material was exposed. The preliminary sample showed dioxins up to 60,500 ng/kg. EPA recommended clean up level for the site is 30 ng/kg.

EPA has directed both International Paper and Industrial Maintenance Corporation, the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site in Harris County, to take steps to ensure that the exposed waste material is isolated and securely covered. The dioxin in the waste material does not dissolve easily in water, but it can migrate further out into the surrounding sediments.

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EPA CHIEF PRUITT RESIGNS

The beleaguered head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, resigned his position last week, on July 5th, only one day after attending a 4th of July event at the White House. President Trump accepted his resignation, and said that his assistant, Andrew Wheeler, would take over EPA as Acting Administrator.

Pruitt had befriended local Houston environmentalists such as Jackie Young of the SJRC, and Scott Jones of the GBF. It remains to be seen whether the new administrator will be as open and helpful on their local issues.

Pruitt had become well-known in Houston environmental circles, having visited the San Jacinto River Waste Pits in person, and placed their disposal on his “Top Ten” list of projects to receive his attention.

Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA was controversial from the beginning, and as he made a number of questionable choices in his style of administration, he became a constant source of embarrassment to the President and his administration.

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Wet Independence Day doesn’t dampen celebrations

Photo by Allan Jamail

July 4, 2018 – Galena Park and Jacinto City had their annual 4th of July celebration. Earlier, parts of Harris County recorded record setting rains of 10” inches for this Independence Day. The 2 cities share the cost for the fireworks display, which brings thousands of celebrants to the area to see the 25 minute show.

GUARDS BLOCK ACCESS TO IMMIGRANT KIDS FACILITY

Armed guard, Chief G. Fuentes blocks State Senator Sylvia Garcia (left) and State Representative Ana Hernandez from entering the children’s detention facility in their district. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

State Officials Sylvia Garcia and Ana Hernandez turned away

By Allan Jamail
Edited by NCS staff

CHANNELVIEW, TX. – North Channel – Friday, June 29, 2018 — State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Ana Hernandez went to Casa Montezuma, a child detention facility in their district, to check on migrant children being housed there. The children have either been separated from their parents who immigrated to the United States seeking political asylum from violence and persecution, or else they arrived without parents.

Armed officers in uniforms bearing the name Fort Bend County Patrol swarmed Garcia and Hernandez, stopping them and telling them they could not enter to see the children even though they both proved they were elected state officials.

Allan Jamail, a photojournalist for the North Channel Star, accompanying the state officials, had his camera grabbed by an officer whose uniform identified him as Chief G. Fuentes. Fuentes told the visiting group that the area is private property and off-limits to visitors and photo-taking.

Fuentes said, “Visitors must first make an appointment by phone to visit the facility,” but when Garcia and Hernandez told Fuentes they’ve called for days but no one will answer the phone, Fuente then said, “I know because they don’t want any visitors, so they’re not going to answer the phone.”

Not easily persuaded to leave without first checking on the welfare of the kids, for almost an hour a standoff with security in over 100 degree scorching heat, finally Fuentes agreed to allow Garcia and Hernandez to go to the front door to make an appointment for a visit on another day.

The door was locked and no one inside would come to the door or answer the intercom system, so after numerous attempts Chief Fuentes said, “You need to leave because no one is going to come talk to you or allow you inside. They don’t want visitors.”

Fuentes said he was only doing his job, but Garcia and Hernandez responded and told him he was preventing them from doing their jobs to check on the welfare of children in their District.

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Immigrant kids already housed in County

This building at 15101 I-10 East Frontage Road, now houses about 200 immigrant children
most of whom crossed into the U.S. without their parents. The building was formerly the
Kindred Hospital, and before that the East Department of the East Houston Hospital. It has been run by Southwest Key Programs as a shelter for undocumented children for several years.

Southwest Key plans to add 5th site

By Gilbert Hoffman

As debate rages endlessly in the nation about the federal government policy of separating children from their parents who entered the county illegally, the debate has now moved to the Houston political stage because the state’s largest provider of these services has requested a permit to use a building at 419 Emancipation Avenue on Houston’s east side. Southwest Key Programs is the largest provider in Texas, now housing 2,725 unaccompanied children in 16 locations.

This includes 4 facilities in the greater Houston area that are virtually unknown and unnoticed, including one that dates back to 1991. Two of these are in the North Channel/Northeast circulation area. Casa Montezuma is on the I-10 Feeder road in the Channelview area. Neighbors had suspected that the facility was a federal children’s shelter, but weren’t sure, they told this newspaper. Records from the Texas Health and Human Services show that the facility is currently housing 191 children, and recently had its license increased to 210, an increase of 11% similar to figures statewide. This shelter is licensed to provide child care services only, since May 2017. Children housed are from 10 to 17 years of age.

The other facility in our area is at 7900 Mesa Drive, in Northeast Houston. It houses 54 children, ages 10 to 17, and is licensed for multiple services, including Emotional Disorders. It has had a license from the state since 1991. Most of the Texas shelters are run by two nonprofits: Southwest Key Programs and BCFS Health and Human Services. The latter is a church sponsored group, based in Dallas.

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1 BILLION DOLLAR NEW BELTWAY 8 BRIDGE UNDERWAY

Architects aerial rendering of new Beltway 8 Bridge without supports in the waterway,
increasing the opening for ships to pass through from the existing 750 feet to 1,320 feet.

By Allan Jamail

East Harris County – June 26, 2018 — Harris County’s largest-costing single project in history is underway along the Sam Houston Tollway, between Highway 225 in Pasadena and I-10 in the North Channel area. The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) is overseeing the project, with a cost of $1 billon.

The massive project, which began in April, will be paid for from toll revenues and without an increase in the $1.50 toll bridge fee county officials said. The new bridge, projected to open in 2024, will have 8 lanes (4 in each direction), full shoulders, no bridge supports in the water, and no reduction of lanes during construction.

The Port of Houston has been working to widen and deepen the navigation channel for several years. The new cable-stayed bridge will look similar to the Fred Hartman Bridge. HCTRA says the addition of inside and outside shoulder lanes and a gentler slope will make the new bridge safer.

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Morman backs Flood Prevention bond

Commissioner Jack Morman at North Shore Rotary Club meeting talked about the upcoming bond election for flood control.

By Lewis Spearman

NORTH SHORE, Texas – Last Thursday, Rotary Club of North Shore welcomed Country Commissioner Jack Morman as guest speaker at their noon luncheon. Comm. Morman talked to the Rotarians about the proposed bond to deal with flooding issues.

A $2.5 billion dollar bond is proposed by the Commissioner’s Court and this meeting was to help convince locals that there is a need in the Jackson Bayou vicinity, that is to get some flood control measures and addressed the down stream of the San Jacinto River Watershed.

The bond election is to be held August 25 – the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. Early voting is to begin August 8th. It is to address Harris County’s most prevalent natural disaster. The total need in the county for flood risk reduction is about $25 billion, and the $2.5 billion of this bond will provide matching funds to enable the H.C. Flood Control District to leverage the federal Harvey-related disaster funding that is on its way to Harris County. The cost to taxpayers would be spread over 10 to 15 years for an estimated 2-3 cents per $100 valuation. An over-65 or disabled exemption and a home worth $200,000 or less would not pay any additional taxes.

Morman said, “In addition to the local Watersheds, this is an interconnective system. The water flow upstream will impact in a positive way those folks that flood downstream. This is the most important election in my lifetime, it will be the most we can do to combat flooding for generations to come.”

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Locals hear from experts on hurricane preparedness

L – R: JP Judge Joe Stephens, Congressman Gene Green, Harris County’s Emergency Operations Center Manager Misty Gunn, Harris County Flood Control Precinct 2 Coordinator Jeremy Ratcliff and Houston City Councilman District I Robert Gallegos.

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – Monday, June 11, 2018 — Congressman Gene Green brought governmental agency representatives together to give the preparedness advice to citizens since we’re now in the hurricane season from June 1 through November 30th.

Misty Gunn, Harris County’s Emergency Operations Center Manager said, this is the time citizens should make an Emergency Essentials Kit. The contents needed for the kit can be located at, WWW.READYHARRIS.ORG.

“In addition to your kits contents, if you’re evacuating from high water, put inside a water proof container or plastic bag your prescription drugs, a printed list of all relatives, doctors and insurance agents phone numbers, cell phone and cell phone charger, credit cards and checkbook, important family documents (birth certificates, insurance/ bank account information, etc.),” Guinn said.

Harris County Flood Control Precinct 2 Coordinator Jeremy Ratcliff, and Communications Officers Robert Lazaro, said Commissioners Court plans to call a bond election for August 25, 2018, for the Harris County Flood Control District. Voters will be asked to vote on what could be $2.5 billion in bonds for flood risk reduction projects throughout the county. To learn more about the flood bonds visit, WWW.HCFCD.ORG/ BOND-PROGRAM.

Judge Joe Stephens, Justice of the Peace, said, “East Houston has been impacted tremendously by Hurricane Harvey. Not only have we lost property and life, we have lost our only Hospital (East Houston Regional). In the past we have put our lives back together one piece of sheetrock at a time with little to no governmental help. Unlike Kingwood, Bellaire, River Oaks and the more affluent areas of town where they could probably do a neighborhood fundraiser and fix their flooding problems, we are a working class side of town. We need and deserve a comprehensive plan going forward for how the flooding and Bayous that run through this area (Greens, Carpenter, and Huntington) will be remediated and mitigated to prevent future catastrophes like Allison and Harvey. My ultimate concern is that the east side gets help from the $2.5 billion flood control bond program and we need a hospital immediately.”

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Galena Park honors retired Police Captain Ken Ponder

L to R: Police Commissioner Rodney Chersky, retired Police Captain Ken Ponder and Mayor Esmeralda Moya. Detective Tim D’Antonio received his retirement badge but was unable to be present for the photo.

By Allan Jamail

Galena Park, TX. – Friday, June 15, 2018 — Mayor Esmeralda Moya and Police Commissioner Rodney Chersky presented 26 year retired Police Captain Ken Ponder a gold retirement badge and a proclamation signed by the mayor commending him for his honorable service to the city.

Chersky said before his and Moya’s time in office, the city failed to present retiring Captain Ken Ponder and Detective Tim D’Antonio their retirement badges.

“When I learned of it, I made Mayor Moya aware of it too. Mayor Moya adamantly agreed with me and told me to make sure this happened and that it happened soon! A retirement badge is something a police officer cherishes. This is a symbol from the department in which they’ve served and a keepsake for their own memories in their retirement years. (more…)

Judge Emmett speaks on $2.5 billion flood bonds

Judge Ed Emmett speaking at the Rotary Club of Houston last week.

HOUSTON – In a wide ranging talk before the Rotary Club of Houston, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett spoke about a number of topics of interest. He started by talking about his appreciation for the work that Rotary does in the community, and across the world. He gave examples from his own experience of how he has been touched by and involved in this work.

Then he spoke about the upcoming $2.5 billion bond issue that will be on the ballot in a special election on August 25th. He explained that the date is the one year anniversary of the devastation when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, causing flooding throughout Harris County and other parts of the state.

“Harvey changed a lot of lives,” he said. He noted that 154,000 homes in Harris County and Houston flooded. The Hurricane dropped 51” of rain in a four day period. Many homes were destroyed or made unlivable, and there were many deaths in the flood waters.

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