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Posts published in April 2019

EPA sets public meeting May 7

Water samples from the Ship Channel contain at least 9 toxins in an oily slick.

SJRC reviews Superfund status

HIGHLANDS – At its regular monthly meeting, the San Jacinto River Coalition learned that the federal EPA had scheduled a community meeting in Highlands on Tuesday, May 7 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. This is one of the quarterly public meetings that the EPA promised to have on a regular schedule. They will update information on activities at the Superfund site, according the EPA spokesperson Janetta Coats.

At the same meeting, THEA president Jackie Young discussed the environmental impact that the ITC fire has had on the water quality of the river and ship channel. She displayed a bottle of water from the channel with heavy oil deposits.

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Woman’s body found near San Jacinto River

Deputies reported that a woman’s body was found in the San Jacinto River on April 16, 2019.

Authorities uncovered the body with multiple injuries. The investigation continues and the cause if death is unknown. Deputies do not known if the injuries were sustained before or after the death, reports stated.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office found the body around 5 p.m. in the 17400 block of River Road.

Authorities said the woman was wearing a striped shirt and had multiple tattoos. She appeared to be in the water for several hours and her body and face sustained visible injuries.

The investigation continues and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit is asking anyone with information on this case to call homicide unit at 713-274-9100.

LyondellBasell hosts CAPLE Safety Meeting

CAPLE Presenters Dave Gray of LyondellBasell, and Dave Wade of Harris County Office of Emergency Management.

CHANNELVIEW – The CAPLE (Community Advisory Panel to Lyondell and Equistar) group held their monthly meeting last week, at the offices of LyondellBasell. They heard from Matt Smith and Phillip Reid about a national award, the 2018 Distinguished Safety Award from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers organization, that LyondellBasell had received for safe operation of their plant, with no injuries.

Then David Wade of the Harris County Office of Emergency Management explained how his office interacts with a plant that has an incident. HCOEM maintains personnel 24 hours to respond to any type of emergency. When an incident requires response from the plant or outside fire departments, Wade goes to the plant EOC (Emergency Operations Center) to coordinate plant and outside resources.

David Gray reviewed the resources and procedures that the LyondellBasell Channelview plant has in place to deal with incidents. (more…)

TxDOT updates I-10 bridge repair

TxDOT workers examine the broken support.

The following is an update from David Lazare, an engineer with TxDOT in regards to the San Jacinto bridge repairs:

This is an update on the Emergency Contract to repair the IH-10/San Jacinto Bridge that was struck by a barge on February 11, 2019.

The permanent repair work officially began on Monday, April 8th, 2019. Over the last week, the contractor has setup the cofferdam and is demolishing the damaged/broken column. They have also begun setting up temporary supports to begin the permanent repairs.

Over the next week, we expect to install the permanent replacement column, permanent structural support and welding.

Early next week, we also expect to open 1 lane on SPUR 330 heading north to allow commuters to access the Crosby-Lynchburg intersection, which is temporarily signalized. This should ease the congestion on Thompson Rd and the intersection of I-10.

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Jacinto City elementary school celebrates 75th anniversary

Jacinto City Elementary School’s 5th grade Honor Choir under the direction of music teacher Jueretta Berry provided entertainment at the 75th anniversary celebration ceremony. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Jacinto City, Texas – On Thursday, April 18, 2019 the Jacinto City Elementary School celebrated 75 years of educating children. The celebration brought together former students, teachers, administrators and parents of current students.

Principal Becky Gardea the Master of Ceremonies began the program with students leading the 200 plus in attendance with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag followed with a prayer from Franklin Kilpatrick a former student.

Librarian Sharon Dixon gave the history of the school which she said began in 1943-44 in a small single story building consisting of an office, small kitchen, cafeteria and several classrooms. The first few years the number of students needing to be taught was so large it required teaching in two shifts. As student growth continued the school’s made several additions to it. It was first named Industrial Elementary School since it was located in an unincorporated area known as Industrial Acres.

In May of 1946 citizens in the area petitioned the state and formed what’s now Jacinto City, the Galena Park school district renamed the school to Jacinto City Elementary School.

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Project Recovery-Harvey starts in East Harris County

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO announces the start of the Recovery program, as Malcolm Barrett and Adrian Garcia look on.

BARRETT STATION – The new leadership of Harris County turned out in force to announce Harris County Project Recovery-Harvey Program at the Harris County Barrett Community Center last Saturday.

Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge, Adrian Garcia, Precinct 2 Commissioner, Daphne Lemelle, Harris County Community Services Director and a host of county community workers from varied agencies were present to share their expertise enabling residents to get help for their houses, the services they need to recover from Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County Project Recovery-Harvey is for homeowners outside Houston to apply for home repair, reconstruction or reimbursement.

The new Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo indicated that the county is giving out about $200 Million in this program.

“Harvey was an especially difficult disaster because it got to the core of people’s lives because it reached into their homes, in their housing. People’s homes are anchors for them and their families. When people lost their homes and were forced to leave and live somewhere else, they were still forced to watch and wait until they could rebuild and return. That destroys and disrupts the rest of their lives and the fabric of our community.”

“For the first time we are making a massive investment in housing around Harvey,” said Hidalgo, indicating that the program was to be the largest investment a region has made in the area of housing repair.

“It helps us build a stronger community and a more resilient community in all of Harris County,” the Judge concluded.

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Arkema faces new charges

CROSBY – According to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg a grand jury has indicted Arkema Inc. and Mike Keough, the company’s vice president of logistics, on a felony charge of causing bodily injury to two sheriff’s deputies by withholding critical information needed by first responders to protect themselves and the community from chemicals released when Arkema’s Crosby Plant caught fire after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Said Ogg on April 10, “The facts show Arkema knew of the dangers, withheld vital information, and unleashed harm on first responders and the community. This felony indictment is a wake-up call to companies that would pollute our air and waterways, ignore best practices in safety, and put our communities at risk.”

Rusty Hardin has been retained by Arkema as attorney and answered the charges on the company’s website.

“Harris County prosecutors are doubling down on an unprecedented and outrageous attempt to criminalize a natural disaster,” Hardin said in the statement.

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Take advantage of early voting in Channelview ISD’s Bond, April 22 – April 30

The proposition addresses growth, safety, program expansion, and more.

Early voting for Channelview ISD’s $195.4 million bond is here. Starting Monday, April 22 through Tuesday, April 30, CISD voters can head to any polling location in Harris County to have a say in the future of the community by casting their vote.

Extended polling hours are available Monday through Saturday of early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., giving voters the option to swing by before or after work. On Sunday, April 28, voting is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For voters’ convenience, there are two in-district early voting locations, the North Channel Library at 15741 Wallisville Road and the Joyce Hendrix Educational Support Center (CISD Admin. Building) at 828 Sheldon Road. You can also vote at any Harris County early voting location. To find a polling location near you, go to cvisdbond.org/ voting-information.

“With the district’s continued growth in mind, we’re looking for community input by asking you to vote on the bond package this May. I encourage every resident to get out and exercise their right to vote, and to take advantage of early voting. This election is very important in determining how our district will look over the next decade,” said CISD Board President Keith Liggett. “We want to hear from you.”

Election Day is Saturday, May 4. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The North Channel Library and Joyce Hendrix Educational Support Center will both be open for voting, or you can vote at any election day polling location in Harris County.

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Rep. Hernandez updates news from the capitol

Rep. Hernandez with students and supporters after presenting House Bill 1602 to the House Committee on Public Education

Dear Friend,

With less than seven weeks remaining in the 86th Legislative Session, the Texas Capitol is growing increasingly busy! Committees are meeting twice a week, major pieces of legislation have passed at least one chamber of the Legislature, and negotiations on major policy topics such as property tax reduction, public school finance, and the final passage of our state’s biennial budget are ongoing.

The past two weeks have been particularly busy for our policy agenda! I wanted to provide you an update on our legislative package’s progress as we reach mid-April. As always, if ever I can be of assistance or answer any questions, do not hesitate to call my office at (512) 463-0614.

Kind regards,

Ana Hernandez

Wrapping Up Two Busy Weeks Of Bills!

Over the last two weeks, Representative Hernandez has presented thirteen bills in committee to crack down on human trafficking, improve public education, and grow our economy. These measures include:

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EPA announces new Air Quality website

• EPA and TCEQ announce story map resource
• Interactive tool provides easy access for ITC fire data

DALLAS – (March 31, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announce a new interactive resource to help keep the public updated and informed about the response activities for the Intercontinental Terminals Company LLC (ITC) Fire in La Porte, Texas.

The new resource, a collaborative, interactive “story map,” can be viewed on EPA’s website at response.epa.gov/ITCTankFire.

EPA and TCEQ’s response actions, as well as maps, photos and sampling locations are featured.

On March 17, 2019, in response to a tank fire at the ITC facility, EPA, TCEQ, along with state and local agencies joined ITC in a Unified Command. EPA and TCEQ continue to be onsite for the emergency response focused on providing the assistance and coordination needed to address any discharges from the site. EPA and TCEQ have been conducting water sampling and air monitoring throughout the affected areas from the onset of the response.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP VISITS CROSBY AREA

President Donald Trump signed two executive orders in Crosby, easing regulations on pipelines and water quality.

CROSBY – “It’s like the circus is coming to town!” exclaimed one Republican resident, of the combined excitement and trepidation of having the presidential motorcade come to an unincorporated area that voted for him in the Presidential election by a whopping 74%.

A flurry of questions poured into this newspaper concerning where folks could get a view or when traffic could be expected to be stopped on FM 2100 or Foley Road. Trump landed his plane at Ellington Field, and travelled by Motorcade to Crosby on US90. After his talk, he returned to Ellington for a fundraiser dinner at the Lone Star Air Museum.

The speech and signing ceremony at the IUOE center was attended by about 400 invited guests, from Harris County and a few from Crosby. A number of industry friends of Trump attended, some even riding the Air Force One with the president.

Arrival at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center comes in controversy. President Trump signed executive orders to facilitate easing regulations on making petrochemicals and speeding up pipeline construction, even in the wake of four petrochemical fires and three worker deaths in less than one month in East Harris County. And the union facility recently became non-profit, thus reducing taxes paid to local first responders. White House officials announced the orders will grant incentives for investors to build energy infrastructure, streamlining permitting for pipeline projects. Last May Trump issued a permit to initiate the delayed Keystone XL Pipeline.

The International Training and Education Center is about 266 acres between Newport and Foley Road in Crosby.

President Trump indicated reducing red tape around pipelines would allow the US to remain undisputed leader of the world in natural gas and oil in the future.

Of course, the new Keystone XL permit is under court challenge, environmentalists sued over the issue of whether Congress, not the executive branch, is granted constitutional rule over federal lands.

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