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Posts published in June 2019

WGU Texas signs agreement with San Jacinto and Lone Star Colleges to make higher education more accessible

Dr. Brenda Hellyer, Chancellor of San Jacinto College; Dr. Steven Johnson, WGU Texas Chancellor signing agreement.

HOUSTON, TX (JUNE 24, 2019) – Online, nonprofit university WGU Texas announced today the signing of agreements with Lone Star College (LSC) and San Jacinto College (SJC) that create pathways for the community colleges’ students, employees and graduates to work toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree and further their education at WGU Texas.

“With this partnership, both institutions are committed to providing our students with educational pathways to earning a four-year degree, expand their education, and increase their earning potential,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “We are excited about helping students reach their next goal.”

This is the second transfer agreement between SJC and WGU Texas. The first was signed earlier this year and streamlined the process for SJC students and graduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at WGU Texas.

County, City won’t support ICE raids

For several days last week, rumors were rampant that a national effort to round-up and deport immigrants without legal papers would include Houston and Harris County persons. The rumors emanated from Washington, D.C. and said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement would carry out unannounced raids, detention, and deportation without a court’s due process.

Local leaders reacted with negative comments, vowing that they would not cooperate with such an undertaking, citing inhumane treatment of individuals, and questionable legal authority. Here are the statements by the County Judge and the Houston Mayor:

Judge Lina Hidalgo Statement:

The Trump administration announced that potential raids on undocumented families across the nation, including in Harris County, have been delayed. The Harris County Judge’s Office had been working with community and government leaders to seek answers so we were prepared to do right by our community, and did not ever receive notice from any governmental agency regarding the reported enforcement operation planned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nonetheless, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed disappointment at the reported threats of raids, saying, “Creating a climate of fear puts lives at risk. Even the threat of raids are a shameful attempt to push some of our most vulnerable residents further into the shadows. Families belong together, and immigrants make our communities stronger. My office will not assist in any rumored raids and will continue to advocate for reforms at all levels of government.”

Individuals with questions or in need of legal advice are advised to call the Immigrant Rights Hotline: 1-833-HOU-IMMI (468-4664). Should a loved one be detained by ICE, leave a message with a name, phone number and point of contact. Messages will be returned.

Mayor’s statement:

“The city of Houston has not been directly notified by ICE of any plans to conduct mass raids targeting undocumented families. The unconfirmed reports have created a great deal of anxiety for some and it proves once again this country needs comprehensive immigration reform.

Environmental awards to three

Bayou Preservation Lauds Shanley, Turner, Young

Each year the prestigious Terry Hershey Bayou Stewardship Award recognizes members in the community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to aiding the conservation, preservation, restoration and/or advocacy of Houston’s waterways.

This year’s awards went to Kevin Shanley, principal of the global landscape firm SWA Group, and former BPA board chair;

Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has taken significant action during his administration for the region’s waterways; and

Jackie Young, founder of a nonprofit THEA to protect water resources and safeguard public health from the harmful effects of toxic waste in the San Jacinto River Superfund site.

County Judge Ed Emmett also received a special recognition award for his commitment to the health of local bayous and waterways.

CHANNELVIEW ISD: Planning proceeds on Bond Projects

PLANNING MEETING with Architects and staff. Channelview ISD is moving forward after voters approved the bond. Channelview High School programming and design meetings have allowed district employees to have valuable input into the proposed bond projects.

On May 4, 2019, Channelview ISD voters passed a $195.4 million bond election with 75.23% in favor, the highest approval rating in district history. The May 2019 Bond will fund the replacement of aging campuses, grow and expand Channelview High School with CTE and other offerings, provide campus infrastructure renovations, upgrade safety and security and technology district wide, and purchase new buses and land.

Proper planning and design are critical to the successful execution of the bond program projects. Since May 4, administrators and the Board of Trustees have been moving full steam ahead, engaging in 16 project-focused meetings in just 23 days.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the result of the election and are excited to get to work making these projects a reality for our students and teachers. The voters have given us their trust, and we will take that responsibility very seriously throughout every step of the process,” said Board President Keith Liggett.

Carry-out of the bond program is a multi-phase process that will last several years. Each project will undergo planning, conceptual design, schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding and, finally, construction.

From start to finish, Channelview ISD will make stakeholder collaboration and communication a priority, believing that the best design solutions are the result of an interactive and engaging process that strives to meet the needs of our students.

For that reason, the district has formed design committees comprised of teachers, administrators, directors, superintendents, and board members to assist the architects and design consultants in the planning and design of the May 2019 Bond projects. Each committee will be led through a series of design-focused meetings to define the purpose, needs, and spaces desired for each facility.

Waste Pits cap needs major repair

Articulated Concrete Block Mat is the current solution for sealing the toxic waste under the cap.

HIGHLANDS – Members of the San Jacinto River Coalition learned at a meeting last month that major repairs were needed to the northwest corner of the Waste Pits site and its cap.

The meeting was held Tuesday, June 4th at the Community Center. THEA director Jackie Young led a review of the EPA Update meeting that was held May 7th in Highlands, and then brought the group the latest news on work being conducted at the site.

Construction equipment including several cranes, trucks, cement mixers, formwork and a work crew of about 15 can be seen from a safe distance, working on the placement of a new technique known as Articulated Concrete Block Mat or (ACBM).

The EPA is calling this current work “Slope Enhancement” and says it will take about a month to complete. They said that this method has key benefits over the method used before, which was a textile membrane held in place with a rock cover. This method proved to be unstable, and not a reliable method of sealing the waste material. This is the third time that major repairs were required on the cap. Work was also done in July 2018 and November 2018, but this is the first time that the ACBM technique has been used. The cap was constructed in 2011, and has a history of unreliable performance.

Judge releases survey results


Talking Transition shows Residents’ Concerns: Distrust of criminal justice system, lack of information, and geographic and socioeconomic divides.

Harris County, TX, June 19, 2019 – Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released results from Talking Transition, a community-wide survey launched after she took office in January. Over 11,000 people participated in the survey, which was conducted in five languages, and available online and in person.

The survey is one of many approaches Judge Hidalgo’s office is using to inform decision-makers about the issues that matter most to Harris County residents. The following are some of the key survey findings:

• Many Harris County respondents reported a lack of information on county government, including its composition and functions;

• Nearly half of respondents have a negative perception of the criminal justice system;

• Regardless of where they live, 44% of respondents reported feeling increasingly unsafe against future natural disasters;

• 24% of Harris County respondents reported that their air and water quality is “terrible,” and a third of respondents estimated that overall quality is declining;

• A quarter of respondents reported that public transportation options are getting worse – this was especially prevalent in areas not served by METRO;

• One-third of respondents say they have had trouble paying for affordable housing in the last year, with many also saying they were affected by Harvey;

Sheldon ISD Board approves employee salary increases

Members of the Sheldon ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved 2019-2020 staff pay raises – which also included current teacher salary increases ranging from 10-15 percent – at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting in the Ney Administration Building Boardroom.

Sheldon ISD Superintendent King Davis said these salary increases will help keep the district competitive with neighboring school districts while also providing one of the highest pay increases in the greater Houston and surrounding areas.

“We are incredibly grateful to have a board that values our district employees,” Davis said. “We also realize that our employees have many choices as to where they can work, and we are delighted they have chosen Sheldon ISD as their school district of choice.”

Commissioner Garcia now offering free SAT Prep Course at eleven Precinct 2 locations

Precinct 2 and Project Grad Houston Team up to help students prepare for the SAT

HOUSTON, TX – (June 17, 2019) – Commissioner Adrian Garcia is working to fulfill his promise to make education a priority by launching a free test prep program. In partnership with Project GRAD Houston, Harris County Precinct 2 will now offer a free 4-week course that will help students prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT).

The session will be held in multiple locations throughout the Precinct starting July 27, 2019 to August 22, 2019. Precinct 2 residents and students will be able to take part in these classes twice a week from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“I believe education is the key to success and I want to make sure that everyone has all access to every educational opportunity,” said Commissioner Garcia.

Governor Abbott signs SB2 Property Tax Reforms into law


AUSTIN – June 12, 2019 – Governor Greg Abbott today signed into law Senate Bill 2, which delivers significant property tax reforms that will cap property tax increases without voter approval and provide tax reform to homeowners and businesses across Texas. The Governor hosted the bill signing at Wally’s Burger Express in Austin, TX. Wally’s Burger Express is a family-owned business founded in 1980 that has been struggling due to skyrocketing property taxes. Just this year, Wally’s property taxes increased 44%.

The Governor was joined at the bill signing by Robert Mayfield, the owner of Wally’s Burger Express, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Representatives Dustin Burrows, Terry Canales, and John Zerwas, and Senators Kelly Hancock, Dawn Buckingham and Charles Perry.

“We made it clear from the outset of this session that our goal was not to simply mask the problem of skyrocketing property taxes, but to make transformative changes that would provide meaningful and lasting reform,” said Governor Abbott. “Because of the work by legislators this session, we are ensuring that Texas remains the best state in the nation to live, work, start a business, and raise a family. By signing Senate Bill 2 into law, we are making tremendous strides to provide long-awaited relief to Texas homeowners and businesses.”

11-yr-old boy dies in shooting in Channelview

OVER 20 SHOTS were fired into this house and adjacent cars on N. Brentwood in Channelview.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was visibly shaken by the events he was reporting, at a shooting in Channelview that resulted in the death of an 11-year-old boy.

The shooting occurred last Sunday, about 4:20 a.m. at a home at 15117 N. Brentwood Street, off Dell Dale. Sheriff Gonzalez said it appeared someone with an assault rifle fired into the home, perhaps not knowing that an adult and five children were sleeping inside. It was not known if the assailant was walking or driving past the house.

A neighbor described the sound of about 22 shots, that were fired into the house and cars parked in the driveway.

The 11-year-old was dead at the scene, but the other occupants were not injured.

New procedures simplify Primary Voting

County Clerk Diane Trautman (left) and Michael B. Winn, Director of Elections explaining the new procedure of how voter’s will be able to privately declare their political party’s affiliation. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

County Clerk Trautman offers Joint Primary Dem. or Rep. Registration

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at the Harris County Clerk’s office, a new speedier and private process was presented by County Clerk Diane Trautman, Administrator of Elections Michael Winn, and Director of Communications Teneshia Hudspeth. Trautman said after numerous Primary Elections, she has heard of voters not voting because they felt uncomfortable stating their party’s affiliation out loud to where others could hear. She said, “This new process is to remove any fear from one declaring their party affiliation out loud; the voter will have complete anonymity. This is not a partisan issue to help either party separately; this is to make all voters of both parties feel more comfortable.”

Michael Winn, Administrator of Elections, said, “Combining the amount of staff from both parties to run just one polling location allows for fewer clerks needed. This also reduces the amount of party specific staff needed at the locations but at the same time will also increase the number of locations to which staff can be assigned.”

The use of Election Day Vote Centers (EDVC), another new program of Trautman’s, allows voters to vote anywhere regardless of their home precinct, which will save them time by not having to stand in lines. They can go vote at any location that doesn’t have a long line. The EDVC will also remove the problem of a voter not getting to vote because of going to the wrong location.

A mock demonstration by Harris County Clerk employee Margaret Aguilar (left) posing as a voter using a touchscreen tablet privately discloses her political party affiliation to both Democrat C. Patrick McIlvain (right) and Republican Kathryn Gray both election clerks in order to vote in a Primary Election. (Photo by Allan Jamail)