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North Channel Star

Jacinto City hosts historic graduation parade

Graduating seniors from Galena Park and Furr High School line up after the parade for a photo. Tears flowed as caps tossed in the air when hugs and goodbye’s were exchanged. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail & Kimberly Martin

Jacinto City, TX. — Saturday, May 23, 2020 – For Jacinto City’s officials having a graduation parade just a couple of months ago wasn’t planned nor could it ever have been imagined, but since the COVID-19 virus struck nothing’s been a resemblance of normalcy.

Scientists have estimated the deadly virus entered the United States as early as November or December of 2019 but it didn’t hit home to schools across the nation until mid-March while many of the students were home for Spring Break. Schools and students lives were changed once it became known the highly contagious decease was being passed on human to human. Studies revealed an infected person even without virus symptoms were spreading the germs as easy as talking to one another by “voice-droplets” transmitted in the air. Schools, churches, sporting events brought a halt to large gatherings as it still is today.

The long awaited graduation ceremonies planned for years by high school and college students were no longer allowed. Graduates wouldn’t be able to walk across a stage to receive their diploma or say goodbye to their classmates after years of friendship.

The Galena Park School District’s graduates, parents and family members were saddened as all others schools were by the sudden turn of events. Soon people began devising ways to safely celebrate milestones from birthdays to funerals by keeping a safe distance of 6 feet apart and wearing a mask. Parades called “wave by’s and drive by’s” became prevalent across the nation giving communities ways to help students celebrate.

Jacinto City’s Mayor Ana Diaz said she was contacted by graduate Ana Banda’s mother, Luisa Banda Perez about the possibility of having a parade so the students and families could celebrate. The City Council approved the parade, City Manager Lon Squyres began planning the event which had never been done before, and Chief of Police Joe Ayala’s police department had to provide traffic control and was assisted by a large turnout of Precinct 2 deputies along with Constable Chris Diaz (Mayor Diaz’s husband). Graduates of Furr High School joined in with the Galena Park 2020 Class. Mayor Diaz said, “The parade was the idea from Luisa and her hard work and organizing the students to come participate that made the event the success it was.”

Mayor Diaz said, “I was saddened for the students and families to not have the normal graduation ceremony and I felt the city should do everything it could to give them the best parade possible. It made me feel good to be able to stand on the parade sideline with members of the city council and wave and shout congratulations as each graduate came past the city’s congratulatory banner. Our city has a big heart; it’s always given a helping hand to a good cause.”

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Governor Abbott announces phase two to open Texas

AUSTIN – May 18, 2020 — Governor Greg Abbott today announced the second phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.

“Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables,” said Governor Abbott. “By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge.”

Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II. (more…)

Alice Adams wins truck in North Shore Rotary raffle

Rotary Fish Fry chair Lowell Everitt pulls a winning raffle ticket, as president Ryan Dagley looks on. Saturday, the North Shore Rotary drew for 20 prizes at Turner Chevrolet live and on Facebook, for a 2020 Chevy Colorado or Camaro that was won by Alice Adams on a ticket sold by Wayne Oquin. A Lucky seller was B.R. Hendrix with 5 of the 20 pulled.

CROSBY – Turner Chevrolet hosted the North Shore Rotary club as they held their drawing for prizes associated with their annual raffle. The normal Catfish Fry and Crawfish Boil was not held, due to the pandemic.

This fundraiser is the premiere event for the charity organization that normally is held at the North Shore Rotary Pavilion with food and auction attracting most of the local communities.

Rotarians distinguished themselves in multiple charity participations, funded by this event. With customers and Rotarians present at the drawing, the dealership was just below Covid-19 limitations.

Waste Pits Virtual meeting: 30% Remediation Report on schedule

Jackie Young Medcalf

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition and its sister organization, THEA held its monthly meeting last Tuesday night by video instead of its usual in-person meet.

The group had skipped its March meeting due to the scheduled wedding of its president, Jackie Young (now Young Medcalf). Then they were faced with the inability to have its April meeting at the community center, due to the lockdown of county facilities because of the Covid-19 flu epidemic. Undaunted, Ms. Medcalf recorded a report which included news of the SJR Waste Pits, the Superfund Jones Road site in Cypress, and even her wedding.

A major question on the minds of many of the Coalition members, and others in the community, is whether the Covid-19 lockdown will affect the schedule of removal of the waste pits. Jackie has discussed this with the EPA project manager, Gary Baumgarten, and reports that work is continuing at the EPA, the engineering consultants, and even onsite remedial repair work. There is no indication of a major delay in the milestone dates of the project, he said.

On-site work is in the river just beyond the north edge of the cap, where the storm Imelda caused erosion of the river bed. Contractors are repairing and restoring much of the material that washed away, to protect the cap. The company in charge of the on-site work has submitted an addendum to their Health and Safety work plan to the EPA, indicating additional protection for their workers from the Covid-19 virus.

THEA’s short term goal is to protect the public and the environment from any contamination from the toxins in the waste pits. Their long-term goal, Jackie says, is to continue work on removal and relocation and storage of the dioxins and other toxic materials.

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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Channelview ISD student awarded Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship

Channelview High School Valedictorian Dewayne Benson

May 14, 2020 — Channelview High School Valedictorian Dewayne Benson is among the 300 students in the country to receive the prestigious Gates Scholarship. This academic school year, 36,500 students applied, putting Benson in the less than 1 percent of students who were awarded the scholarship.

In addition to his academic achievements, Benson has also shown strength and perseverance following a bus accident in Alabama. In 2018, members of the Channelview High School (CHS) marching band were returning from a school trip in Florida when their charter bus plunged into a ravine.

“It’s insane to think how far I have come in high school – two years ago, I was stuck in the bottom of a ravine in the band bus crash,” Benson said. “Now, I am a Gates Scholar, valedictorian, and am graduating with a whole degree to my name.”

Benson also attended San Jacinto Community College and will be graduating high school with an associates degree. In order to be admitted into the San Jacinto Community College’s MECA program (Modified Early College Academy, the dual credit program that allows students to pursue their associates degree while still in high school) Benson took the College Board’s TSIA Accuplacer abilities test his sophomore year and earned a perfect score in all three sections.

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HC Clerk Trautman resigns her office

HARRIS COUNTY – Citing fear of the Covid-19 pandemic, and other health concerns, first term Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman announced her resignation last week.

In a letter addressed to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Trautman said the resignation would be effective May 31. The Commissioner’s Court will appoint an interim Clerk, Judge Hidalgo said.

Trautman said that her decision was “due to personal health concerns… the Covid-19 pandemic, my age, and underlying health issues. I do not feel I can safely continue to carry out my duties as Harris County Clerk.”

Trautman took office in January 2019, after holding previous positions as a teacher, local school board member, and county school board member.

The County Clerk is in charge of all elections, and in that capacity she brought a number of innovative advances to the election process in Harris County. She is credited with convincing the county and the state to allow voters to cast their ballots at any polling location, instead of the one closest to their home.

Due to the Coronavirus, she has also been working on a plan to allow the majority of voters to vote by mail instead of risking their health at polling locations. She has received preliminary county funding of $12 million for this effort, but has been told by the state that it would not be legal to allow all to vote this way, and she is awaiting resolution of this ruling.

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ABBOTT ORDERS END TO VIRUS “STAY HOME”: Governor reopens Texas on May 1

Businesses that open subject to restrictions

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott on Monday, April 27 announced the first phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy. The Governor also outlined special guidance for Texans over 65 and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas. The Governor also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by the Department of State Health Services that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus.

The Governor’s announcement is accompanied by a 66 page manual, Texans Helping Texans: The Governor’s Report to Open Texas available to download at gov.texas.gov/organization/opentexas.

“This strategic approach to opening the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines laid out by our team of medical experts,” said Governor Abbott. “Now more than ever, Texans must remain committed to safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on doctors and data to provide us with the safest strategies to restore Texans’ livelihoods.”

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Harris County Judge orders residents to wear masks in public for next 30 days

Harris County, Texas – April 22, 2020 — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Wednesday issued an order requiring residents to wear masks when in public for the next 30 days, beginning on Monday, April 27, 2020 and will continue until May 26, 2020 at 11:59 pm. The order requires individuals over the age of 10 to wear a face covering, which can be a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief, when outside the home. Medical masks or N-95 respirators are not recommended as they are needed for health-care workers and first responders.

Masks should cover the nose and mouth, and must be worn except when an individual is exercising or engaging in physical activity outside alone; alone in a separate indoor or outdoor space; eating or drinking; when driving; or when doing so poses a threat to their health, mental health, or safety. Masks are not required when an individual is in the presence of only members of their residence.

“When it comes to fighting this virus, each of us is capable of committing heroic acts by making adjustments in how we live our daily life,” said Judge Hidalgo. “Steps like wearing a face covering, getting tested, and staying home save lives and reduce transmissions, which will get our economy back online sooner. I’m heartened by the number of residents who have already been following guidance to wear face coverings already, but we are in this for the long haul. The best way to get our economy back up and running again – and keep it open – is by making sure we’re working together to prevent the spread of this virus. Wearing face coverings is a vital piece of our playbook.”

The order comes as an uptick in hospital admissions indicates the region has not yet reached the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak. During the past week, the county has doubled its testing capacity and dispatched mobile testing units to all four precincts. (more…)

Food drives help feed 500 families in Pct. 2

Volunteers who helped pack and distribute food bags pause for a group photo.

HIGHLANDS – With much of the population observing “Stay Home” rules, or temporarily without a job, food availability has become a major concern.

A number of local groups, including Precinct 2, organizations such as Rotary, churches, and individuals have been collecting food and distributing it to anyone in need.

Last week Food Drives were held at a number of Precinct 2 community centers, including Highlands.

Tonya Kostka told the North Channel Star about the drive in Highlands. “What a great day! Lots of hard work from great volunteers! Thank you first to Monument Chemical Gloria O’Bannon and her team for the generous donation to our Community.

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North Shore Rotary to award all prizes in Raffle on May 16

North Shore Rotary’s top prize in their Annual benefit Fish Fry is this 2020 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck, courtesy of Turner Chevrolet in Crosby.

NORTH SHORE – The Rotary Club has announced that although they had to cancel the in-person Fish Fry due to Covid-19 restrictions, nevertheless they will hold their Prize Raffle, and proceeds will benefit scholarships and community projects. Their statement:

“The 45th annual fund raiser will not include crawfish, catfish, or a live auction. We have incorporated many of our nicer auction items and included them as prizes for our raffle.

We will have a grand prize of either a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck or a Camaro. The choice will be made by the winner of the raffle.

Other prizes include a whole hog, a side of beef, each cut and wrapped from animals purchased at auctions from local FFA students. Houston Livestock & Rodeo packages, Texan tickets with hotel accommodations, vacation packages, gift cards, and many more. Twenty prizes to be drawn.

Tickets can be purchased from any Rotarian or purchased via Pay-Pal by going to URL: nsrotaryfishfry@gmail.com or Contact President Elect Lowell Everitt @ leveritt@everittind.com.

You may Pay by Check: Mail to PO Box 1152 Channelview, Texas 77530.

For more information: info@northshorerotary.org The drawing will be held at Turner Chevrolet at 2:00 PM on Saturday May 16, 2020. It will be shown live on Facebook Live by going to Rotary Club of North Shore Facebook page.

The drawing will also be presented via a Zoom meeting. Check the Rotary Facebook page for ID to enter the meeting.

Congresswoman Garcia brings funding to District’s Colleges

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX – April 27, 2020 Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) announced that three college systems in the 29th Congressional District will receive funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and will allocate more than $307 million for the Governor’s Fund Component of the Education Stabilization Fund in Texas. In addition to this statewide funding, individual institutions of higher education will receive funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

“The community colleges in my district play a critical role in the workforce development of residents all across the Houston region. They equip our residents with opportunities to earn jobs, get promoted, and get trained for careers in new industries. I am thrilled that Houston Community College, the Lone Star College System, and San Jacinto Community College District will receive much-needed funding under the CARES Act to ensure that they can continue to serve our students and provide them with the career opportunities that will help our region recover from the impacts of this pandemic,” said Congresswoman Garcia.

The three recipients in the 29th Congressional District are:

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