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Posts published in August 2016

Competing Opinions stir up Waste Pits

237 PAGE ARMY COE REPORT leaves parties arguing over what it concludes.
237 PAGE ARMY COE REPORT leaves parties arguing over what it concludes.

Corps of Engineers report vs Area residents is not settled

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Dallas office released an anticipated study last week of the Alternatives to deal with the Toxic Waste Pits in the San Jacinto River.

The study report is a 237 page volume, authored by Army Corps of Engineers from their Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. The work method outlined in the report sets out to resolve 19 “tasks” which deal with methods of remediating the Waste Pit toxins. The study investigates the previously delineated Alternatives, known as 1N through 6N, covering no further action, or various cap-in-place solutions, or partial or total removal from the site. It also adds a 6N*, an enhanced removal plan.

The advocacy group known as San Jacinto Citizens Against Pollution, with a website KEEPITCAPPED.ORG, claim that the the report justifies their position to leave the wastes where they are in the river, without removal. Their attorney, Thomas Knickerboker, categorically cites various sections of the report that say capping the site is the safest and most effective option. They also say the report points out that “Dig-and-Haul” poses risks, and that toxic chemicals could leak or be dispersed in the removal process. In the 19 tasks presented in the report, these statements are made. But the complete removal is also recommended as an alternative, if done correctly as outlined in the description.

Therefore by discussing pros and cons of all seven Alternatives, it gives each contesting party opinions and facts to support their position.

Jackie Young, director of the San Jacinto River Coalition, and THEA, two advocacy groups that favor complete removal, said “the report does not go into the problems to date with the current cap. In the five years that (the cap) has been in place, it’s experienced a wealth of problems and caused EPA to do a multitude of repairs. We know that just one big storm, one barge strike, could be devastating for Galveston Bay.”

The escalating controversy comes at a time when the EPA is preparing to announce their draft decision on how to remediate the waste pits. This is due in the next few weeks, then the public will have a 30 day comment period, and the EPA will make the final determination by the end of December, according to EPA representative Donn Walters.

In the meantime, it seems that everyone now has an opinion, and has voiced it. Congressmen Gene Green and Brian Babin have publicly called for complete removal as the only safe solution, and this was joined this week by Congressman Pete Olson. Green took to the floor of the House of Representatives last month, to urge the federal government to use the Superfund laws to hasten the removal.

Deputies arrest three, seize weapons and drugs in East Houston


Harris County Sheriff Office Investigators arrested 3 people and seized several weapons and drugs.

According to reports, on Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Harris County Sheriff’s Narcotics Investigators raided three homes in the East area of Harris County during a narcotics investigation. These raids were based on a three month investigation, which included undercover officers purchasing large amounts of powder cocaine from two drug dealers who were also associated with the criminal street gang, Barrio Denver Harbor bloods.

Deputies served search warrants at homes located at the 7200 block of Waxahachie Street, 7400 block of Tremper Street and 14600 block of Crosshaven Street. Deputies seized 22 weapons, 3 vehicles and over 10 kilos of cocaine, which has an estimated street value of over 1 million dollars.

In addition, three persons were arrested. Jason Rivera, 37, and Angelica Mata, 29, were charged with “Delivery of a Controlled Substance” and “Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.” Denica Chabolla, 41, was charged with “Possession of a Controlled Substance.”

This investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Harris County Joint Task Force, the High Risk Operations Unit, the Gang Unit, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).”

Harris County: “OK to drink well water”

Jackie Young explains water wells and groundwater at Tuesday’s meeting.
Jackie Young explains water wells and groundwater at Tuesday’s meeting.

New lab tests okay well water & Highlands Water Company water

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Several dozen residents of the area attended a meeting at the Community Center in Highlands Tuesday night, when local environmental activist Jackie Young explained the best practices for maintaining private wells.

The audience also learned that Harris County Public Health had sent a second letter to homeowners whose wells had been tested for contamination, telling them that a second round of lab tests indicated their water was now safe to drink, or use to wash and cook.

These homes totaled about 100, in Highlands, Lynchburg, and Channelview. Of the 100 that had agreed to have their well water tested, 71 had originally been told not to drink or bath with their water. However the second letter notified them that an error in the laboratory was the reason for their test results, and a retest by a different lab had indicated pollutants were below an acceptable level, and their well water could now be safely used.


In a similar series of tests, Mark Taylor of the Harris County Water Control & Improvement District #1 (Highlands Water Company) informed the Star-Courier that they had their water tested by an independent lab, and it had tested well below the safe threshold of 30 parts per picolitre. In fact the results showed less than 5 parts per picolitre. Highlands gets their water only 20% from wells, and the other 80% is purchased from the Baytown Water Authority, which purchases water from the City of Houston Water Department. Baytown further treats the water before providing it to Highlands, Taylor said.


Jackie Young handed out a fact filled manual, showing statistics and definitions related to well water, which comes from groundwater.

She first discussed drilled wells, and the three types of wells:

  • Bored or Shallow, up to 100 feet deep
  • Consolidated or Rock well, up to 250 feet deep, and bedded in layers of solid rock
  • Unconsolidated or Sand wells, the deepest which reach the water in soft soil, clay, gravel and sand.

Which ever type of well you might have, she emphasized that the top of the well bore needed a Concrete Surface Seal, or cement collar, to keep pollutants from dropping into the well bore.

Heart Screening extended to general public

Melody Stephens uses the new ECG device on a first time athlete to test for heart defects.
Melody Stephens uses the new ECG device on a first time athlete to test for heart defects.

ECG tests for students and adults this Saturday

CROSBY – ECG Screenings are going to be performed at the Crosby Community Center this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until Noon by the Cody Stephens Go Big Or Go Home Memorial Foundation to the general public from 7th grade and up, not just first year athletes or children.

The Cody Stephens Go Big Or Go Home Memorial Foundation was begun by Scott and Melody Stephens following the death of their son, Cody, May 6, 2012 to Sudden Cardiac Arrest also called sudden death. When that happened only about 5% of Texas used ECG screenings in addition to the check ups traditionally used and required by the State U.I.L. committee. Now about 25% of school districts in Texas are using the screenings due to foundations throughout the state.

Those wishing to have their heart checked by an ECG screening can register at the website A limited number can be performed in the time allotted so make your registrations soon.

“This website is created to share Cody’s story with others and do anything and everything we can to raise awareness of this silent killer and help prevent other families from experiencing the loss and heartache that we know.”

This is a free heart screening, however donations will be accepted the day of the event. Because funding can detect life threatening conditions.

As an example of the impact that the screening can have on seemingly healthy people, the University of Pittsburgh now screens their first time athletes with an ECG. This year their freshman class of athletes had two students discovered to need heart surgery.

GALENA PARK CITY COMMISSION: Council excludes citizen comments

ROBERT COLLINS, Galena Park City Attorney
ROBERT COLLINS, Galena Park City Attorney

GALENA PARK — Mayor Esmeralda Moya continues to mold the city government into her own rules, as evidenced by actions at last Tuesday’s Commission meeting.

Greeting the audience in English and Spanish, she then asked the city attorney, Robert Collins, to explain why citizens would no longer be able to bring up their own interests in a public comment period.

According to Collins, the Open Meetings Act says all business of the Commision must be on the written Agenda, with no other comments allowed. His reasoning was that this protected citizens who were not present or not knowledgeable about what would be discussed. He suggested “workshops” as an alternative for citizens to express themselves.

Although it was not discussed officially by the Commission, citizens outside the meeting were distributing flyers questioning why the attorney had presented an invoice of $26,000 for 7 days work. Collins told the North Channel Star that $19,000 of this was for “investigations” but declined to elaborate on what was being investigated. Collins also introduced another attorney, Dennis Houfek, who is aiding him in the investigations. Houfek was once an FBI agent, Collins noted.

The Commission acted on several items, including an amendment to an ordinance that substituted the word Mayor for all references to City Administrator, consolidating all “duties and powers of the Mayor… with the City Administrator.”

GALENA PARK LULAC awards scholarships to seven local students

Galena Park LULAC Council 4703 recently held its 15th Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner at Don Chile' Mexican restaurant. They have donated over $100,000 in scholarships since 2001. In the photo are Cruz R. Hinojosa, Jr., LULAC President, Scholarship recipients Amanda Alvarado, Naydelin Cruz, Elizabeth Rangel, Oscar Teran, Louis Cortez III, Natalia Vasquez, Veronica Gonzalez and Juan Flores, LULAC Scholarship Chair.

Galena Park LULAC Council 4703 recently held its 15th Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner at Don Chile’ Mexican restaurant. They have donated over $100,000 in scholarships since 2001. In the photo are Cruz R. Hinojosa, Jr., LULAC President, Scholarship recipients Amanda Alvarado, Naydelin Cruz, Elizabeth Rangel, Oscar Teran, Louis Cortez III, Natalia Vasquez, Veronica Gonzalez and Juan Flores, LULAC Scholarship Chair.

Harris County confirms first Zika-associated death in Texas

Harris County, Texas (August 9, 2016) — Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has confirmed a Zika-associated death in a newborn female, making it the first Zika-related death in the State of Texas. HCPH received a positive Zika test result on an infant who was born with birth defects, including microcephaly. The child died shortly after being born. The mother traveled to Latin America during her pregnancy where it is suspected she became infected, and delivered the baby in Harris County.

“The saddest outcome of Zika’s health effects often impact the most vulnerable. We are devastated to report our first case of Zika-associated death and our hearts go out to the family,” stated Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director of HCPH. “While this is a travel-associated case, we know that prevention is key to reducing the risk of Zika virus infection. Harris County Public Health continues to actively work on protecting the community from mosquito-related diseases, but individuals must also protect themselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes locally and abroad.”

HCPH continues to encourage residents to take precautions to prevent Zika infection. When outdoors, prevent mosquito bites by using an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains one of the following: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow product instructions.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, a member of the state Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response said, “Despite the horrible news regarding the recent Zika-related death, the residents of Harris County should be reassured that their county and state officials are continuing to monitor Zika-related developments worldwide and have plans in place to respond to any potential risks to public health. County health officials and emergency management personnel have been studying Zika intently and are prepared to respond to any local developments.”

NORTH CHANNEL CHAMBER EVENTS: Chamber hears of SETRAC Emergency Organization


JACINTO CITY – The CEO of SETRAC, the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council, was the featured speaker at this month’s Chamber luncheon, held at the Jacinto City Town Center last Friday, August 5.

After an introduction by JC City Manager Lon Squyres, who is on the board of SETRAC, Mr. Pile explained to the audience the purpose and work of his organization. Pile is previously a healthcare administrator for the last 25 years. He also was the board chairman of the Northwest Houston Area Chamber.

Pile explained that SETRAC is a nonprofit coalition that unites area first responders, physicians, hospitals and healthcare leaders. The organization coordinates emergency medical response planning and establishes life-saving protocols in a nine-county region. The region includes over one hundred hospitals and over sixty 9-1-1 EMS agencies. The initiatives are funded through the Department of State Health Services, and encompass pre-hospital emergency services, trauma care, stroke care, cardiac care, perinatal care, and disaster preparedness and response.

San Jacinto Coalition hears updates, waits for well report from Harris County Health Dept.

san jacinto river update
A LARGE CROWD of area residents listened for details on the water well tests, but were told it would be a few more weeks before the information was available.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition held their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, with about 150 attending at the Community Center.

But instead of hearing information on the possible contamination in their well water, they had to wait a few more weeks, said Jackie Young. After attending a meeting with Harris County Public Health, she was unable to provide the definitive information that the audience asked for. They wanted a detailed quantitative report on dioxins, and other contaminants in their water.

100 wells have been tested by the county last month, and 71 of those received a letter advising them not to drink or cook their water.

GALENA PARK: Suspects wanted in aggravated robbery

galena park robbery

Crime Stoppers and the Galena Park Police Department need the public assistance identifying the suspects responsible for an Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon.

On Sunday, July 3, 2016, at approximately 12:03 a.m., two suspects entered a convenience store located in the 1900 block of Clinton Dr., Galena Park, TX. One of the suspects pointed a handgun at the store clerk (victim) and demanded money. The same suspect then placed the gun to the back of the victim’s head and threatened to kill him if he did not comply. The victim immediately handed the money to the suspect. The suspects then fled the scene in an unknown direction.

Surveillance cameras captured images of the suspects.

Suspect #1 Black, male, wearing gray hoodie with lettering (pictured), gray shorts, yellow gloves, and a black mask. Semi automatic pistol. Suspect #2 Black, male, wearing a black hoodie, black mask, and blue pants.

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and/or arrest of the suspect(s) in this case. Information may be reported by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at Tips may also be sent via a text message by texting the following: TIP610 plus the information to CRIMES (274637) or via our mobile app (Crime Stoppers Houston). All tipsters remain anonymous.