DEER PARK – Well into the second week after the huge chemical storage tank fire at the ITC site in Deer Park, authorities and emergency crews are still busy trying to deal with the aftermath of the blaze.
ITC, or Intercontinental Terminals Company, has issued dozens of press releases and conferences, but many of the public feel that the facts of the fire have still not been revealed.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is also the head of the OEM, or Office of Emergency Management, held a press conference on Monday. She thanked all those first responders and other government agencies that had worked quickly and in a coordinated way to deal with the disaster.
However, she had a clear message for all, saying, “This Incident is not Over.” She emphasized that the immediate problem was containing the chemicals and to minimize contamination of the air and water around the site.
Multiple agencies are dealing with the problems, including the EPA, TCEQ, Harris County Pollution Control, Harris County Health Department, Fire Marshal’s office, and various first responders around the area.
This May, Channelview ISD residents will have the opportunity to vote on a $195.4 million bond election.
A bond is similar to a home mortgage. It is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest over time. Bond elections allow communities to vote to give the Board of Trustees authority to sell bonds to pay for items such as school construction, capital projects and land acquisition.
A school district’s tax rate is comprised of two parts. Part one is Maintenance and Operations (M&O) which funds day-to-day expenses such as salaries, general maintenance, bus repairs and fuel, educational materials and utilities.
Part two is Interest and Sinking (I&S) which funds debt repayment for the purchase of new building construction, existing building renovations, land purchases, program-specific equipment, technology and school buses. The Channelview ISD bond election would only affect the District’s I&S rate. By law, I&S funds cannot be used to pay teacher or staff salaries.
Currently, Channelview ISD’s I&S tax rate is $0.356 with the M&O tax rate standing at $1.04 for a total tax rate of $1.396. The current rate is the lowest it has been in seven years and is the second lowest tax rate when compared to surrounding school districts. Over the past seven years, the Channelview ISD Board of Trustees has lowered the tax rate $0.10 from $1.496 in 2012 to the current rate of $1.396.
The last time Channelview ISD held a bond election was a decade ago, in November 2009. Projects included in the 2009 bond were completed on time and on budget by November 2012.
AUSTIN – The final vote in the House of Representatives got unanimous approval of those attending the session on Tuesday for HB 76, the Cody Stephens Bill.
According to Scott Stephens, who has made it his mission to get Texas to use E.C.G. machines in addition to the exam a doctor does with a stethoscope, “The Texas House of Representatives voted to pass HB 76 today with no opposition! This was a huge step for us and for Cody’s Law, bringing us so much closer to getting heart screening into every school across Texas.
“This is a wonderful cause for celebration. We definitely want to take a moment to acknowledge all the hard work from Rep. Dan Huberty, lobbyist Kathy Grant, everyone who testified at the Public Education Committee hearing, and all of you who called and wrote letters to your representatives to vote in favor of HB 76.”
Houston, TX- Saturday, March 23, 2019 – Yolanda Alvarado, a well known and respected civic leader, invited community leaders to a meeting with legislators serving in new positions. Elected officials present were Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of the 29th Congressional District, Senator Carol Alvarado of Senate District 6, and State Representative Christina Morales of District 145.
Congresswoman Garcia said, “It’s been somewhat of a challenge adjusting to the cold freezing snowy weather and its effect on one’s ability to move about in D. C., but I’m managing it okay.
“I’m very concerned with the ITC fire and will be closely monitoring the after-affects it could pose on the air and water quality, and the impact it can have on the health of residents. We must investigate its cause and how to prevent similar disasters in the future. The 29th District encompasses large portions of the Houston ship channel including the Port of Houston, cities of Houston, Pasadena, Galena Park, Jacinto City, South Houston, and Aldine.”
Garcia continued, “My committee assignments on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee are vital to the Houston region, the State of Texas, and the nation. I’ve always fought for working families, and my appointments will allow me to use that experience to continue these efforts.”
State Senator Carol Alvarado is serving her first term in the Texas Senate. She is Vice-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports and represents Senate District 6 encompassing the Eastern portions of Harris County along with the cities of Baytown, Pasadena, Galena Park, Jacinto City and South Houston.
Alvarado said, “The fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) facility in Deer Park is a local disaster that is still ongoing. While the threat of the fire has passed, the clean up and investigation that must follow has just begun. I am closely monitoring each stage of recovery including clean up at the facility, clean up and containment in the nearby bodies of water, and investigation into the cause. We are receiving ongoing updates from various agencies and organizations including TCEQ, EPA, Harris County Emergency Management, and ITC themselves. There are still many unanswered questions at this time but I can assure residents that we will push to get the answers our community deserves.”
HARRIS COUNTY, TX – Friday, March 22nd 2019– As a precaution, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia is closing eight Precinct 2 parks with waterfronts in the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) incident area. A number of school districts have also closed, as a precaution.
“After the news of the ITC dike breach earlier today, I decided to close some of our parks out of precaution because my main priority is keeping our residents safe,” Garcia said. “We want to ensure our parks are safe and able to function in the way our community expects and deserves. I want to give the EPA, TCEQ and others the time they need to continue their testing.”
The following Precinct 2 parks will be closed with all scheduled events cancelled until further notice:
• Bay Area Park in Houston (Bay Area Community Center is open)
• Clear Lake Park in Seabrook
• Sylvan Beach in La Porte
• Juan Seguin in La Porte
• Rio Villa Nature Trail
• Meadow Brook
• River Terrace
• Moncrief Park
The Lynchburg Ferry remains closed to the public.
LA PORTE: Seabreeze Park and Klein Retreat in La Porte will remain closed until further notice.
According to Harris County Public Health (HCPH), and based on current air monitoring reports, there continues to be a low health risk for the community.