HOUSTON Mayor Sylvester Turner marched in solidarity with thousands of young people Saturday who participated in the March for Our Lives Rally in Tranquility Park across from Houston city hall.
During the rally, Mayor Turner announced the creation of the Mayor’s Commission to End Gun Violence which will focus on researching and recommending solutions at a local level.
“Enough is enough. Make America safe again,” Mayor Turner said in his remarks to the crowd. “Let’s end the gun violence and get assault weapons out of the hands of people who do not need them.”
Young people across the country held similar events today to demand safer schools, an end to mass shootings and better gun control.
Organizers of the local March for Our Lives Rally invited Mayor Turner to participate during a conference call he had with student leaders several weeks ago. The mayor said he was inspired by the young people’s movement and decided to create the commission to help support their platform.
“Students are not leaders for tomorrow, they are leading right now,” said the mayor as he spoke during the rally. “This is a defining moment for our city, our state, and our country. When I look out at the crowd and see what students have done in leading this rally, it gives us a great deal of hope.”
With heavy storms predicted, and flooding throughout the San Jacinto River watershed, authorities this week ordered a permanent reduction in the level of water in Lake Houston.
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin announced that after a meeting held Monday with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the daily pooling level of Lake Houston will be reduced from 42.5 feet to 40 feet, effective immediately. Last night, Houston Public Works Director, Carol Haddock, directed the Coastal Water Authority to start lowering the level of Lake Houston in advance of Wednesday’s predicted storms. Council Member Martin has confirmed that all gates at Lake Houston are open and the level of Lake Houston is anticipated to reach the desired 40 foot mark by Wednesday evening.
Once the lake is lowered to 40 feet, it is the City of Houston’s plan to adjust the spillway gates to maintain a level of 40 feet moving forward on a long-term basis. This will address the immediate concerns of the Lake Houston Community, including Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, and Huffman. This lower lake level will continue to be observed while the City works with area partners to address siltation and other coordination efforts with Lake Conroe. The City of Houston will continue to monitor and evaluate water demand, weather patterns and other mitigation activities.
Lake Houston, San Jacinto River silting problem studied
EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Texas Governor Greg Abbott looked over areas flooded by Hurricane Harvey and pledged millions of dollars to northeast Harris County following Harris County Commissioner’s Court determining a need for flood mitigation was necessary the week before within the San Jacinto Watershed, the watershed areas containing Lake Houston and the San Jacinto River.
Gov. Abbott flew around the San Jacinto Watershed in a helicopter to view the flooding problems. He noted the silt, sandbars, a stunning number of sand mining operations “all up and down the river, and were able to understand more comprehensively the way in which these sand mining operations contribute sand and silt into the river.”
Hazard Mitigation Funds for about $3 Million from the Texas Dept. of Emergency Management is now authorized to start up engineering and permitting to find out where dredging should begin on the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston.
The same source will provided $2 Million to study the region and discover how to prevent flooding in the San Jacinto watershed.
Galena Park Mayor Esmeralda Moya (3rd from the right, bottom row) with Galena Park seniors, State Representative Ana Hernandez (bottom right). Moya sponsored the senior’s luncheon this past Friday (March 16th). Seniors enjoyed catfish, hushpuppies, fries, coleslaw and chocolate cake. Mayor Moya said she was excited to see so many familiar faces, she recognized them for their valuable roles they’ve given the community. “Our seniors are the wisdom that we need at all moments. They’re also true leaders in the community, Moya said.” (Photo by Allan Jamail)
In a world where so many people are stressed out and have way too much on their “plate”, I am thankful for those who do not understand the word “no”. Last week, our community was rocked with the horror of the Channelview Band bus accident, yet in the midst of this, we all saw some amazing people step up as well as those who just stay ready to help.
From the pastors and ministers involved with the Channelview Ministry Team, to the School Board Members, Band Alumni and community members, love was felt EVERYWHERE. I cannot say enough about how Superintendent Greg Ollis cares about the students and the community. He was running on prayers as I know he did not take time to eat. From the morning of the accident and continuing daily, he has been the lighthouse in the midst of the pain. There were several members of the Crisis Chaplaincy of Texas present and these individuals under the direction of Lunetta Mitchell were a blessing to the families who were waiting to hear from loved one. Among those volunteers was Diane Collette Pinkney, who happens to also be a bus driver for CISD. To say that Diane loves her job is an understatement.
Over the past decade, I have seen her pray for the children that she transports to and from school as well as support them in their activities and love on them as a surrogate grandmother.
School Board Members who continued to communicate with the community and be present to join the Prayer Gatherings for the students and families were invaluable. Steve Dennis is to be commended for the pride he has in the District and the Community. Even when he is not in the best of health, he is there to remind us to pray for the families and support the schools. Greg Johnstone, Patrick Lacy, Kyle Campbell, and the other board members.
Pastors such as Johnny Brady, Irvin Clark, Rob Morris, Byron Murray, Christopher Shackleford, Charlie Tutt and Kent Wilson are often referred to as my brothers because each one of them has been there for me over the years when I have needed a pastor to encourage or direct me in some way. Each of these amazing men where present last Tuesday as we waited on the students.
Truly what blessed me even more was the young people who showed up to support the students. Nico Izaguirre is a 2017 graduate of Channelview High School as well as a current student at San Jacinto College and he was present to comfort and support the families as we waited on the bus to arrive. Later that evening he was one of the young adults who led the group in prayer for the healing of the group. It is no surprise that he and his mom were among the supporters at Chick-fil-A on Tuesday. Joseph DeCola who operates both the Wallisville and the I-10 locations is another angel among us. He donated all profit from both locations and it totaled more than $8400 to help the Channelview Band. Other restaurants in the area are planning similar fundraisers.
While others may think they live in the best community, those of us who are a part of the North Channel Area truly are the most blessed. I love you and there is NOTHING you can do about it.
CHANNELVIEW – Parents and school officials were shocked to hear early Tuesday morning that a chartered bus, with 46 students and adults from Channelview, had left the I-10 roadway in Alabama, and plunged down a 50 foot drop into a ravine, injuring most of the passengers and killing the bus driver.
Two buses, chartered from First Class Tours in Aldine, were bringing the Falcon band members back from a vacation and performance at Disney World park in Florida. It was the second, or trailing bus, that had the accident.
Authorities said that the scene did not show any indication that the bus tried to stop or swerve. The path led through the grassy median and over an embankment and a drop of over 50 feet into a ravine.
Alabama state trooper John Malone indicated that the driver, Harry Caligone may have been “unresponsive” prior to the crash, leading to speculation that he actually died of a medical problem such as a heart attack. However, family members said that he had recently passed a physical exam and was healthy.
The accident happened at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, while it was still dark. Authorities said that after the initial 9-1-1 calls, about a dozen fire and EMS departments responded from nearby cities, and about 5 helicopters were used to transport injured people. The bus held about 40 students, age 1518, and six adults. Those injured were taken to 10 area hospitals, according to later reports. Most victims were treated at Sacred Heart hospital in Pensacola, where two remained in serious but not life threatening condition.
Students reported that they were thrown through the air, landed on top of each other, or wedged under the seats. They used the light from cell phones to help get out of the overturned bus. It was dark, cold, and lonely at the bottom of that ravine.
Interstate I-10 was shut down in both directions during the rescue operation, and did not reopen for about 10 hours, causing massive traffic problems in Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
The lead bus, which had stopped briefly when the accident occured, continued westward and arrived in Channelview about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, where it was met by parents and school officials.
Meanwhile, injured students had been taken to about 10 hospitals in the Mobile and Pensacola areas, and were later gathered at Coastal Church in Daphne, Alabama awaiting transportation back to Channelview. Many chose not to ride in a bus or car, and were put on planes. Others waited for their parents to arrive, and take them safely back home.
One of the more seriously injured passengers was the band director, Aaron Allison, with multiple injuries that required surgery. He had been the last person removed from the overturned bus, almost 3-1/2 hours after the crash.
Channelview ISD superintendent kept parents and media informed of news from the site, and the district issued the following statement:
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to our students, employees, and families that have been affected by this tragedy. As you are well aware, a charter bus carrying Channelview High School band students was involved in an accident returning from Florida early this morning. At this time, we have been able to confirm that 40 students and 6 adults from Channelview were on the bus at the time of the accident. We are aware of numerous injuries. We are now focused on getting everyone back safely to our community. We are extremely grateful for the first responders, hospital employees, and volunteers from churches and schools in Alabama and Florida that have stepped up to help our students and comfort them though this difficult situation. Those communities have opened their hearts and arms to our children and employees. They have provided resources, support, and a safe and welcoming environment while we work through the logistics of reuniting our families. We also want to thank our state and local officials who have all reached out to help us. Governor Abbott, Senator Sylvia Garcia, Commissioner Jack Morman, Representative Ana Hernandez, and Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton have all reached out to offer support and assistance.”
Authorities said that the bus company and the driver had better than average safety records, and their fleet of 58 buses seem to be well maintained. The company employs about 94 drivers, records show.
LA PORTE – Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman announces the opening of Juan Seguin Park. The $3.4 million project transformed the undeveloped greenspace into an educational park that focuses on Lieutenant Colonel Juan Seguin and his role in Texas History.
“We wanted to tie into all the history along Independence Parkway from the Battleship Texas, the Battleground site, Lynchburg Ferry and the David G. Burnet Park just north of this channel,” said Commissioner Morman.
The Precinct worked diligently with the Harris County Historical Commission, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as Juan Seguin descendants to create educational and unique aspects to the park. The park was paid for by funds from the Waste Pits Superfund settlement, and Pct. 2. The park was designed by Clark Condon Landscape Architects, and built by Landscape Art, Inc.
New park features include a pier that overlooks the Ship Channel, a large pavilion with artwork etched into its concrete base, a nautical-themed playground, walking trails, and picnic tables scattered throughout. Park visitors will also find interpretive panels with historical information on the Lynchburg Ferry, Ship Channel, and Juan Seguin.
Juan Seguin Park is located next to the Lynchburg Ferry south landing at 4407 Independence Parkway South in La Porte.
It is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information and updates on the Precinct, visit www.hcp2.com or like their Facebook page “Harris County Precinct 2.”
U.S. House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi fires up Harris County Democrats
By Allan Jamail
Election Day — March 6, 2018 — Senator Sylvia Garcia crushed 6 opposing candidates vying for the 29th Congressional District seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Gene Green.
Garica’s win came after a recent visit to Houston by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California. Pelosi is the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 114th Congress. From 2007 to 2011, Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history.
Pelosi spoke at the Harris County Democratic Party’s (HCDP) annual fundraiser to a record crowd. Chairwoman Lillie Schechter of the HCDP said this year’s event set a fund raising record and an attendance record with over 3,500 Democrat activists.
Texas statewide Primary Election result changes since the 2014 mid-term election: Democrats had a 86% increase (+ 470,653 votes) compared to 16% increase (+207,095) for the Republicans.
Sylvia Garcia was born in Palito Blanco, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and political science from Texas Woman’s University and a J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. Garcia’s career experience includes working as a social worker and a legal aid lawyer. She served as director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System. Garcia was elected city controller in Houston and the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. She was elected Texas State Senate in 2013.
Congressman Green, who ran against Garcia for the seat in 1992, threw his support behind the senator in the crowded Democratic race in Congressional District 29.
“The reason I supported Sylvia is she’s a legislator, and that’s what a member of Congress should be. On the legislative side, it’s give and take, I have to compromise with my Democrats and obviously my Republican colleagues. She knows how to do that to be successful to represent this district in Washington,” Green said.
“Tonight, women spoke,” Sylvia Garcia said, in her victory speech. “Tonight we voted and we voted loud and clear. And we said elections can’t be bought, and what matters is people. So what matters is fighting on and someone being there willing to fight, willing to stand up, and willing to serve the people, and that’s what I intend to do.”
CHANNELVIEW FIRE DEPARTMENT held an Open House on Tuesday, March 6 to dedicate their newest Fire Station #3 on Dell Dale Street. The building houses three functions: Administrative offices for CFD and ESD#50, Fire Department Equipment and personnel, and Ambulance Service. CFD now has two new stations. They recently completed a new building on Market Street.
RIBBON CUTTING PARTICIPANTS included the ESD#50 board members, North Channel Chamber, Judge Joe Stephens, and Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman. Channelview Fire Department has been in existence since 1949, and in 2012 the ESD (Emergency Service District) took over fiscal management of the department. There are over 70 firefighters and EMS personnel in the department.
Austin, TX. – February 21, 2018 State Representative Ana E. Hernandez was recognized and elected into the Texas Bar Foundation Fellows.
The Texas Bar Foundation Board of Trustees stated, Hernandez was honored for her outstanding professional achievements and her demonstration and commitment to the improvement of the justice system throughout the state of Texas. Her election is a mark of distinction and recognition of her contributions to the legal profession.
Edward J. Mata, 49, former police chief of the City of Galena Park, was booked into the Harris County jail on Tuesday, March 6.
Mata has been charged with raping a woman at the Regency Inn motel in Galena Park in October of last year.
Court documents detailed a vivid encounter between the two, with Mata forcing himself on her, and physically and sexually assaulting her.
They ended up on a bed without clothes, after the incident, but the woman said she left after Mata fell asleep.
Mata has told investigators that he met the woman through social events, and in October they began a friendship and flirting through text messages on their phones. Mata indicated that their tryst at the motel was a mutual meeting, and that the sexual encounter was consensual. Court documents indicate the encounter was on October 29, 2017.
After leaving the employment of Galena Park, Mata was employed by Constable Precinct 6 until the end of February. He also has been working part-time as a security officer. He was arrested at his home in Katy.