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Posts published in February 2017

Rep. Jackson Lee & Comm. Rodney Ellis fight to save the Affordable Care Act

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis welcoming health care professionals and citizens to the Save the Affordable Healthcare Act forum. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Houston, TX. Friday, February 17, 2017 — At the Julia C. Hester House, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of the 18th Congressional District joined with Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and health professionals at a community forum on saving the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a law that has expanded the access to affordable health care to millions of Americans.

Congresswoman Lee said, “Quality affordable health care ought to be a right and not a privilege and that’s why we can’t afford to turn the clock back now; the Affordable Care Act is not about statistics, it’s about the people you know and love.”

Health Professionals included, Dr. Natalie Dailey infectious disease specialist; graduate Harvard Medical School, George Masi, President and CEO of Harris Health, Steve Schnee, Executive Director of the Harris Center for Mental Health, Dr. Janice Beal, Ann Thielke, CEO, Good Neighbor Healthcare Center-Fourth Ward Clinic, Dr. Ann Barnes, Chief Medical Officer, Legacy Community Health Montrose Clinic, Steve Williams, Director, Houston Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Dona K. Murphey, Formerly Associated with Baylor College of Medicine.

As a result of the ACA:

• 100 million Americans no longer have a life-time limit on healthcare coverage.

• 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurers.

• 6.6 million young adults up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

• 6.3 million Seniors in the “donut hole” have saved $6.1 billion on their prescription drugs.

• 3.2 million Seniors have access to free annual wellness visits under Medicare, and

• 360,000 Small Businesses are using the Health Care Tax Credit to help them provide health insurance to their workers.

The risks of repeal and dismantle, the plan Republicans have for the ACA are profound. In Texas alone, 1,874,000 individuals who have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented could lose it if the law is entirely or partially repealed.

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Galena Park commission places Alcohol on Ballot

GALENA PARK’S COUNCIL MEETING THIS WEEK was marked by yelling and verbal epithets between the audience and council members and the Mayor, and also between councilmen themselves. Commissioner Eric Broussard in a heated exchange, called out to the Mayor “You’re a Big Liar” as they were arguing over needed repairs and remediation to the Evelyn Churchill Community Center Building in Galena Manor. Police Chief Ed Mata, seen above right, stares down a heckler from the audience, warning her that she could be removed from the room if she speaks out again.

Rancor returns to commission meetings

GALENA PARK – Several controversial issues were on the agenda for this week’s City Commission meeting Tuesday night, and disagreements and accusations set the tone for the meeting.

In addition to some heated words between commissioners and the Mayor, the audience also expressed displeasure in the way the city was being managed.

Discussions and words became so loud and heated that the Galena Park police entered the room, and moved toward the perpetrators, in an attempt to quiet them down.

After approval of minutes, the Commission passed a resolution regarding the public’s right to see government records. City Attorney Robert Collins made a point that the wording of the resolution followed state guidelines for Open Record Requests.

Some in the audience felt it was an effort to restrict public access to information.

The Commission then voted 4-0 to designate the Houston Chronicle as the official newspaper of the city. In effect, this took that designation away from the North Channel Star. After the meeting, the Mayor told the publisher of the paper that they wanted more Galena Park news in the Star, and more price competition on the cost of legal ads, even though the Chronicle is known to be quite expensive compared with the Star. No mention was made of the paper’s reporting of misconduct, but Moya said there were “other issues.”

In the most important agenda item, and not without controversy, the Commission discussed and voted on putting on November’s ballot an item that would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages within the city. Commissioners Silva and Broussard said they felt the resolution was not clearly written, needed more time for discussion, and should be tabled. City attorney Collins said they had to vote on it, because there were sufficient petitions received to require a vote by state law. When the vote was 2-2 to table, Mayor Moya declared “the Ayes have it” by voting too.

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DA won’t prosecute minor marijuana cases

District Attorney Kim Ogg (center) announced the diversion program during a press conference held at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, where she was accompanied by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, among others.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday a new program to deal with cases of low amounts of marijuana that she described as part of a new era in the county’s criminal justice system.

Under Texas law, having four ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Starting March 1st, people caught with that amount, or lower, will get a second chance before going to jail.

“You will be offered a chance to sign an acknowledgement form promising to take a decision making class, a cognitive decision making class. Takes four hours and costs $150. You’ll be required to do that within 90 days,” Ogg explained during a press conference held at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, located in downtown Houston.

One of the arguments Ogg made was the high cost of arrests and prosecutions for these types of cases.

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SCHOLARSHIP DONATIONS: Galena Park Council of PTA’s host annual banquet

Award Recipients’ L – R Brian Allen, Bryan Clements, Wilfred J. Broussard, Juan Carlos Villegas (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Thursday, February 16, 2017 — The Galena Park Community Council of PTA’s Founder’s Day Banquet held in the Joyce Zotz Education Center was most exciting with hundreds of PTA and school faculty members’ coming together as a unified team and goal of helping students obtain a higher education.

Excitement and love filled the air; strong competition was evident between the schools, each trying to donate the most scholarship funds. Over $14,000 was donated with more coming in later from other sources.

GPISD’s twenty-four PTA chapter’s each had a school representative come to the front podium to announce their contributions; each announcement brought loud cheers and applause from the unselfish volunteers in attendance. Jacinto City Elementary made the highest elementary school donation and Galena Park High School was highest and overall highest too.

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Waste Pits comments are in review process

Jackie Young, TxHEA executive director

The TxHEA organization, the environmental watchdog for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, held their regular monthly meetings last week in Highlands and McNair.

Executive Director Jackie Young reported on developments in the review process that is now ongoing, according to David Gray of the EPA.

Young said that the PRP, or Potential Responsible Parties, have asked for a further extension of the comment perior, but that has been denied by EPA, indicating they are moving ahead with their review process. Young said that a total of 57,000 comments had been received, but these include signatures on petitions, as well as individually written remarks. The comment period ran for 105 days, from Sept. 28, 2016 thru Jan. 28, 2017. Since the typical public comment period is 30 days, EPA responded to the request from MIMC “EPA has determined that a further extension… is not appropriate.” MIMC is McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corporation, one of the two PRPs.

In their request for a further extension, MIMC stated that they were conducting work at the site for aesthetic reasons, and that the stone and membrane “cap” on the pits has not required as much maintenance as EPA projected.

To counter this argument, Young presented a slide that detailed erosion or damage, and repairs that were required, from July 2012 until June 2016 totalling seven different events. She termed these episodes

“The Repair Saga Continues.”

Next Young presented a report on 101 wells that were tested by Harris County’s contractor, InControl Technologies. She noted that all the wells had dioxins and metals below the allowble safe threshhold, but questioned whether this limit should be lowered for safe water use. She said that Harris County Polllution Control would be at the March 7 meeting of TxHEA to discuss this further.

In discussing the public comments that were submitted to EPA by TxHEA, Young noted that one of the requests was to lower the allowable dioxin threshhold on the treated site from 300 ng/kg, to 30 ng/kg. This material is termed the Principal Threat Waste, and the threshhold will determine how much of the polluted material is removed.

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ROTARY DISTRICT 5890 ANNUAL ALL CLUB MEETING

City-wide Rotary gathering draws local clubs

North Shore Rotary helped run the program, with Amir Khan and wife Sabrina (left), Bill Palko and wife Debby (right), with District Governor Eric Liu (center) with wife Sandra on the speaker platform.
Jacinto City/Galena Park Rotary’s Ramon Garza and Ernesto Paredes and their spouses, with others at the table enjoyed the Valentine themed program.
North Shore Rotary president Kim Gonzalez, with PDG John Painter, Matt Davis, Adam Lund, Lucia Bates and spouses.
North Shore Rotary’s second table had Derrill Painter, Dr. Don Nino, and other Rotarians attending.

Sheldon ISD Board approves new AD/Head Football Coach

Derek Fitzhenry (Photo by DERIK MOORE / Sheldon ISD)

Members of the Sheldon ISD School Board unanimously approved North Shore Assistant Head Football Coach Derek Fitzhenry as the new C. E. King High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach in a special meeting Tuesday evening at the Ney Administration Building.

Fitzhenry is replacing outgoing Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Don Price who will be retiring this year following 41 years of service as an educator and coach.

“Coach Fitzhenry is the ideal candidate to fill this position,” Sheldon ISD Superintendent King Davis said. “He is passionate about his players – both on and off the field – and he wants to see each of them succeed in life.”

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Chamber luncheon hears from District Clerk

DISTRICT CLERK CHRIS DANIEL

Office services, historical stories

The North Channel Chamber of Commerce continued a busy schedule last Friday, with their monthly luncheon. This followed a very successful, well attended 40th Anniversary Gala the week before.

Adam Lund, the new president of the Chamber, emceed the luncheon meeting, which started with Mark Kramer of Channelview ISD presenting Outstanding Students and Educators.

New members were also introduced, including Huckabee Architects, and Andrew Held of Frost Bank.

This was followed by the keynote speaker, Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel, who managed to give a talk that was both entertaining, informative, and full of historical anecdotes.

Daniel’s District Clerk office is in charge of court records, he said. As such, he is in charge of jury duty for county courts, and also offers passport services and maintains historical Harris County Court Records dating back to 1836.

In regard to jury duty, Daniel said that you may be called to serve on a jury if you are registered to vote, or if you have a drivers license. The drivers license list was added, after the state discovered that some were not registering to vote to avoid jury duty. Daniel also maintains a website where the public can search and read all court records. This is at www.hcdistrictclerk.com. There is also a tab on the site for obtaining free background checks on other individuals.

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Governor Abbott releases 2018-19 budget

AUSTIN – Coinciding with his State of the State address, Governor Greg Abbott today released his budget for the 2018-19 biennium. The Governor’s budget ensures Texas will live within its means while fully funding key priorities without raising taxes or debt, and without looting the Rainy Day Fund. The budget released by the Governor builds on the successes of the 84th Legislature and looks to the future by strategically investing in priorities that protect the safety and security of Texans, furthers educational advancement of our future workforce, and empowers the private sector to create jobs, while also defending individual liberties and guarding against government overreach.

“This upcoming biennium will be a time for addressing essential needs and eliminating the nonessential wants,” said Governor Abbott. “That is why my budget proposal ensures that state government lives within its means while maintaining funding for important, but limited priorities. Fostering a climate of fiscal responsibility, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government will enable Texas to remain the envy of the nation and encourage private sector investment, expansion, and innovation.”

Highlights Of The Governor’s Budget:

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Galena Park-Jacinto City CIP meeting hears details on dredging of ship channel

MARK COYLE of Crosby Dredging and Construction explains with a slide show the regulations and details of dredging and water depth in the Houston Ship Channel.

Members and guests of the CIP (Community-Industry Partnership) heard details of dredging methods and regulations, at their last meeting on Thursday, Feb. 2 at the Baggett Center in Galena Park.

Mark Coyle explained that there are four types of dredging: Hydraulic, Mechanical, Mechanical/Hydraulic Offloading, and Hopper. The choice of which type is governed by cost, and conditions and location of the required work.

Also a consideration is where the dredged material will be disposed of. Coyle said that the Army Corps of Engineers counts 12 approved disposal areas around the ship channel, including three in the Galena Park area.

Coyle said that sometimes these spoils areas can sometimes be turned into “beneficial use sites” suitable for marsh or wildlife areas.

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North Shore Rotary: Community support projects are the highlight of luncheon

At their weekly luncheon last week, the North Shore Rotarians were updated on several community projects that they support.

Rotarian Dan Mims and club president Kim Gonzalez displayed a banner from the Sheldon FFA Livestock Show, indicating that the club had purchased a Grand Champion swine in support of the scholarship program. The pig was exhibited by Kaydee Denton, and purchased for $1600.

The club also purchased other animals at the Show, including the 3rd place swine exhibited by Samantha Doerr and purchased for $1250, and the 5th place swine, exhibited by Alfonso Trevino and purchased for $1200.

In addition, other Rotarians Dan Mims, and Don Nino bought animals on their own.