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North Channel Star

July 4 Fireworks light up sky in Jacinto City/Galena Park

Photo by Allan Jamail

Exploding fireworks mark Independence Day celebration in Jacinto City and Galena Park. Jacinto City and Galena Park had thousands of celebrant’s turnout to see their fireworks celebrating Independence Day. For 50 years the two cities have used giant exploding bursts of fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. Both cities share the cost of the display that uses the vacant acreage between the cities to shoot off the fireworks.

Legislative Recap by Senator Carol Alvarado

Dear Friends,

The 86th Session of the Texas Legislature concluded last month and I am happy to report that I had a very productive first session in the senate.

I want to share some of the bills that I passed this session including Harvey recovery, health related issues, workforce expansion and appropriations in response to the ITC incident. I passed a total of 32 bills, 29 of which were signed into law by Governor Abbott and will take effect on September 1, 2019. (more…)

Divers recover body of driver of semi that plunged off I-10 into the River

THE FRAME AND CAB OF THE SEMI truck that plunged into the San Jacinto River last Thursday, June 26 are lifted by a crane on a work barge on Saturday morning. The barge came from T&T Salvage in Galveston, and was required because the bridge and the nearby Waste Pits Superfund site were not suitable for this type of heavy lifting. (Photo by Harris County Sheriff’s Department)

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – For the third time in the last two months, a vehicle has plunged over the side of a highway bridge, and the occupant was killed.

The most recent event occurred Wednesday, July 3 on the I-610 East Loop bridge over the Houston Ship Channel. Authorities reported that an 18-wheeler swerved to miss a car that had cut in front of him, and crashed through the railing and fell 150 to land on the buildings below. Emergency responders attempted to remove the driver from the wreckage, but he was pinned upside down and died at the scene. The driver of the truck was not immediately identified. His rig landed on top of some industrial buildings of Huntsman Chemical Company. They said that no plant employees were injured, but that operations were stopped due to a sanitary sewer line that was severed and leaking. Some traffic lanes on the bridge were closed, as TxDOT studied how to repair the railing.

This fatal accident followed by only a week a similar accident on the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River, when an 18-wheeler struck a stopped car and then plummeted over the rail and into the river. (more…)

Pct. 2 plans major work in Driver Park to create county-wide “inclusive” park

The Revitalization of Driver Park would include: Green areas new athletic fields; Black areas additional parking; Light Green, “inclusive” play areas for use by handicapped persons; Blue areas, new and expanded recreation facilities; Yellow areas expanded basketball and sports courts; Purple areas detention ponds. The Northeast Community Center is the center building.

ALDINE – Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia held a public information meeting last Tuesday, June 25 to introduce his concept for an “inclusive” county park.

He also asked the public for their input on what they want in the park for the use of families and folks with limited mobility whether they are elderly, handicapped, or otherwise restricted. He emphasized that the park would be for all ages. He noted that in Harris County, there are at least 500,000 persons with limited mobility or a handicap that could be served by this park.

Garcia noted that the new park could revitalize the East Aldine area, and add value to the surrounding community. He has budgeted $4 million dollars for the park development, but hopes with matching grants and other sources to expand the work to as much as $8 million.


College degree an achievement for 80-year-old woman

80 year-old Beatrice Lillie with her degree from Houston Community College, full-filling her life-long dream. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. June 21, 2019 — North Channel Star writer Allan Jamail met with 80 year-old Beatrice Lillie, who recently obtained her lifelong dream of a college degree.

Jamail said he was first informed by Angelia Lillie, a church member at the Fifth Ward Church of Christ where they both attend, that her 80 year-old mother obtained her college degree.

“At 75 years old I I knew this was a quite an achievement and wanted others to learn and be encourage by Beatrice’s accomplishment,” Jamail said. “I had never met Beatrice so I invited her to lunch at Luby’s Cafeteria, where I gave her a red bouquet to congratulate her. She told me I could call her Ms. Bea as her friends do.

Ms. Bea said she graduated from Jack Yates High School in the 50’s, married, and had 6 children. She never had the chance to go college until recently; her children grown and on their own now afforded her the opportunity to go to college and get a degree.

As we sat there over her favorite lunch (chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy on the side, green beans, jalapeño cornbread and cherry cheesecake) I learned Ms. Bea had numerous life successes. She was a secretary in the Harris County’s Probation Department; she owned her own phone answering company until voicemail and cell phones came about; and she graduated with honors as Miss Franklin at the Franklin Beauty School as a Cosmetologist in the early seventies.


WGU Texas signs agreement with San Jacinto and Lone Star Colleges to make higher education more accessible

Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor of San Jacinto College; Dr. Steven Johnson, WGU Texas Chancellor signing agreement.

HOUSTON, TX (JUNE 24, 2019) – Online, nonprofit university WGU Texas announced today the signing of agreements with Lone Star College (LSC) and San Jacinto College (SJC) that create pathways for the community colleges’ students, employees and graduates to work toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree and further their education at WGU Texas.

“With this partnership, both institutions are committed to providing our students with educational pathways to earning a four-year degree, expand their education, and increase their earning potential,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “We are excited about helping students reach their next goal.”

This is the second transfer agreement between SJC and WGU Texas. The first was signed earlier this year and streamlined the process for SJC students and graduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at WGU Texas.


County, City won’t support ICE raids

For several days last week, rumors were rampant that a national effort to round-up and deport immigrants without legal papers would include Houston and Harris County persons. The rumors emanated from Washington, D.C. and said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement would carry out unannounced raids, detention, and deportation without a court’s due process.

Local leaders reacted with negative comments, vowing that they would not cooperate with such an undertaking, citing inhumane treatment of individuals, and questionable legal authority. Here are the statements by the County Judge and the Houston Mayor:

Judge Lina Hidalgo Statement:

The Trump administration announced that potential raids on undocumented families across the nation, including in Harris County, have been delayed. The Harris County Judge’s Office had been working with community and government leaders to seek answers so we were prepared to do right by our community, and did not ever receive notice from any governmental agency regarding the reported enforcement operation planned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nonetheless, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed disappointment at the reported threats of raids, saying, “Creating a climate of fear puts lives at risk. Even the threat of raids are a shameful attempt to push some of our most vulnerable residents further into the shadows. Families belong together, and immigrants make our communities stronger. My office will not assist in any rumored raids and will continue to advocate for reforms at all levels of government.”

Individuals with questions or in need of legal advice are advised to call the Immigrant Rights Hotline: 1-833-HOU-IMMI (468-4664). Should a loved one be detained by ICE, leave a message with a name, phone number and point of contact. Messages will be returned.

Mayor’s statement:

“The city of Houston has not been directly notified by ICE of any plans to conduct mass raids targeting undocumented families. The unconfirmed reports have created a great deal of anxiety for some and it proves once again this country needs comprehensive immigration reform.


Environmental awards to three

Bayou Preservation Lauds Shanley, Turner, Young

Each year the prestigious Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award recognizes members in the community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to aiding the conservation, preservation, restoration and/or advocacy of Houston’s waterways.

This year’s awards went to Kevin Shanley, principal of the global landscape firm SWA Group, and former BPA board chair;

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has taken significant action during his administration for the region’s waterways; and

Jackie Young, founder of a nonprofit THEA to protect water resources and safeguard public health from the harmful effects of toxic waste in the San Jacinto River Superfund site.

County Judge Ed Emmett also received a special recognition award for his commitment to the health of local bayous and waterways.

CHANNELVIEW ISD: Planning proceeds on Bond Projects

PLANNING MEETING with Architects and staff. Channelview ISD is moving forward after voters approved the bond. Channelview High School programming and design meetings have allowed district employees to have valuable input into the proposed bond projects.

On May 4, 2019, Channelview ISD voters passed a $195.4 million bond election with 75.23% in favor, the highest approval rating in district history. The May 2019 Bond will fund the replacement of aging campuses, grow and expand Channelview High School with CTE and other offerings, provide campus infrastructure renovations, upgrade safety and security and technology district wide, and purchase new buses and land.

Proper planning and design are critical to the successful execution of the bond program projects. Since May 4, administrators and the Board of Trustees have been moving full steam ahead, engaging in 16 project-focused meetings in just 23 days.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the result of the election and are excited to get to work making these projects a reality for our students and teachers. The voters have given us their trust, and we will take that responsibility very seriously throughout every step of the process,” said Board President Keith Liggett.

Carry-out of the bond program is a multi-phase process that will last several years. Each project will undergo planning, conceptual design, schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding and, finally, construction.

From start to finish, Channelview ISD will make stakeholder collaboration and communication a priority, believing that the best design solutions are the result of an interactive and engaging process that strives to meet the needs of our students.

For that reason, the district has formed design committees comprised of teachers, administrators, directors, superintendents, and board members to assist the architects and design consultants in the planning and design of the May 2019 Bond projects. Each committee will be led through a series of design-focused meetings to define the purpose, needs, and spaces desired for each facility.


Waste Pits cap needs major repair

Articulated Concrete Block Mat is the current solution for sealing the toxic waste under the cap.

HIGHLANDS – Members of the San Jacinto River Coalition learned at a meeting last month that major repairs were needed to the northwest corner of the Waste Pits site and its cap.

The meeting was held Tuesday, June 4th at the Community Center. THEA director Jackie Young led a review of the EPA Update meeting that was held May 7th in Highlands, and then brought the group the latest news on work being conducted at the site.

Construction equipment including several cranes, trucks, cement mixers, formwork and a work crew of about 15 can be seen from a safe distance, working on the placement of a new technique known as Articulated Concrete Block Mat or (ACBM).

The EPA is calling this current work “Slope Enhancement” and says it will take about a month to complete. They said that this method has key benefits over the method used before, which was a textile membrane held in place with a rock cover. This method proved to be unstable, and not a reliable method of sealing the waste material. This is the third time that major repairs were required on the cap. Work was also done in July 2018 and November 2018, but this is the first time that the ACBM technique has been used. The cap was constructed in 2011, and has a history of unreliable performance.


Judge releases survey results


Talking Transition shows Residents’ Concerns: Distrust of criminal justice system, lack of information, and geographic and socioeconomic divides.

Harris County, TX, June 19, 2019 – Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released results from Talking Transition, a community-wide survey launched after she took office in January. Over 11,000 people participated in the survey, which was conducted in five languages, and available online and in person.

The survey is one of many approaches Judge Hidalgo’s office is using to inform decision-makers about the issues that matter most to Harris County residents. The following are some of the key survey findings:

• Many Harris County respondents reported a lack of information on county government, including its composition and functions;

• Nearly half of respondents have a negative perception of the criminal justice system;

• Regardless of where they live, 44% of respondents reported feeling increasingly unsafe against future natural disasters;

• 24% of Harris County respondents reported that their air and water quality is “terrible,” and a third of respondents estimated that overall quality is declining;

• A quarter of respondents reported that public transportation options are getting worse – this was especially prevalent in areas not served by METRO;

• One-third of respondents say they have had trouble paying for affordable housing in the last year, with many also saying they were affected by Harvey;