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Posts published in July 2020

EPA Releases Preliminary Design for Remediation: WASTE PITS REMOVAL WILL HAVE MAJOR IMPACT ON AREA

Removal method of dry waste inside cofferdam

Plan will cause Seven years of noise, dust, truck traffic

HIGHLANDS – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released many volumes of reports from the GHD Consulting Engineering firm, detailing their ideas for how to remove the toxic wastes from the North and South Impoundments along the San Jacinto River, known as the Superfund Site.

The report is extremely long and detailed, consisting of 10 volumes of information for the Northern Impound Site, and Two volumes for the Southern Impound Site. In total, there are many thousands of pages with data, drawings, boring logs, and most important a Work Plan on how to remove the waste material, and how it will impact the environment around the communities of Highlands and Channelview.

The engineers have proposed excavation within “cells” on the Northern site, encompassed by sheet piling, and on the Southern site removal without the piling enclosures. The full extent of the work includes driving piles to form five cofferdams, dewatering the soil, excavating the material, and hauling it away to licensed landfills approximately 100 miles away. They envision one year of preparation, five years of excavation, and one year of clean-up and restoration, for a total of seven years of work.

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STAAR Testing: Governor Abbott waives grade promotion requirements for 5th and 8th grades

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott announced that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year. Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level. The traditional A-F rating system will remain in place, albeit with certain adjustments due to COVID-19.

Typically, students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are required to re-take a STAAR test late in the school year, and sometimes again in the summer, if they do not meet grade level when taken during the spring. With this waiver, there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics and reading assessments for the 2020–21 school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades 3-8 assessments.

“As always, our goal is to provide a high quality education for every Texas student,” said Governor Abbott. “This will be a uniquely challenging school year, therefore, this year is about providing students every opportunity to overcome the disruptions caused by COVID-19. By waiving these promotion requirements, we are providing greater flexibility for students and teachers, while at the same time ensuring that Texas students continue to receive a great education — which we will continue to measure with high quality assessments.”

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Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, dies at 80

January 2018 – the late Congressman John Lewis gave a rousing speech while in Houston attending a Criminal Justice forum aimed at improving the nation’s Criminal Justice System. Lewis emphasized the need to never use acts of violence to accomplish one’s goal. John Lewis said, “The best non-violent action we can take to correct the unfair Criminal Justice System is to VOTE! Vote like you’ve never voted before. Get everyone to VOTE!” (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

It was January 24, 2018 at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Houston’s Fifth Ward. As a photojournalist for the North Channel Star, I got to meet Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. I was there covering the Criminal Justice Forum (CJF) spearheaded by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

The North Channel Star put on its front page my article and photos of Lewis and the CJF. You can still read the article by going to www.northchannelstar.com. (Search for “crime forum.”) Hundreds gathered at the church to hear Lewis’s speech. Here’s part of it:

“You must find a way to get in the way. You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, and necessary trouble.”

“I’ve been arrested about 50 times for getting into good trouble.”

“Use what you have to help make our country and make our world a better place, where no one will be left out or left behind… It is your time.”

After the event I made it a point to meet Lewis. I wanted to have a few words with him. As we shook hands and exchanged a few words, I told him he delivered a good speech. And I told him how I respected and admired him for his achievements and his relentless effort to make improvements in civil rights, voting rights and criminal justice reforms. I told him how I hoped my article would help his efforts; he thanked me. Before parting, I then told him I’d be praying for him, and he thanked me again.

Congressman Lewis served Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death Friday, July 17, 2020, at age 80. Known as a civil rights icon, he was one of the giants in the historic struggle for equal rights in America.

His death came seven months after his public announcement in late December 2019 after a routine examination he had been diagnosed with advanced stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He said then, “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”

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HOUSTON & HARRIS COUNTY HEALTH DEPTS: Health order requires no in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8

Harris County, Texas – July 24, 2020, Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health (HCPH) and Local Health Authority for Harris County, and David Persse, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, Local Health Authority for the Houston Health Department, signed a joint public health order requiring all public and nonreligious private schools in Harris County to remain closed to in-person instruction until at least September 8. The start of on-campus instruction and activity may be delayed further based on ongoing monitoring and assessment of public health mitigation conditions.

The order follows the release of a provision from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) permitting schools to delay in-person instruction and a letter sent to local school districts from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Dr. Shah on July 20 strongly urging schools to delay in-person instruction given the ongoing public health crisis. Over the past several weeks, Harris County authorities have consulted with local school officials, parents, teachers, and other public health and safety experts on reopening plans and the most responsible path forward regarding school operations.

“In order for students to be able to learn and grow, they must also be healthy and safe,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Right now, we continue to see a severe and uncontrolled spread of this virus and it would be self-defeating to reopen schools as usual for in-person instruction. We are all desperate to move on from this crisis and get life back to normal. September 8 is still likely too soon, but the truth is, the fastest way we can all work together to bring this virus under control, the sooner we will be in a position to reopen again for the long term.”

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Teneshia Hudspeth, Harris County’s first African American Chief Deputy Clerk

Harris County’s Chief Deputy Clerk, Teneshia Hudspeth

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – July 28, 2020 – Harris County’s Clerk’s office has promoted Teneshia Hudspeth to Chief Deputy. Hudspeth became the first African American to this position.

Harris County’s elected Clerk Diane Trautman resigned May 31st due to her health concerns. Months before Trautman resigned, in January 2019 she appointed Hudspeth as her 2nd in command. Trautman in a telephone interview with North Channel Star writer Allan Jamail said she promoted Hudspeth because she was “exceptionally qualified to run the Clerk’s office in my absence should the need arise.”

Harris County is the third largest county in the nation; this gives Hudspeth the responsibility of administering all the duties of County Clerk’s office. Such as: supervising the Administrators of all departments and locations of Commissioners Court, Elections, County Civil Courts, Probate Courts, Personal Records, Real Property, Information/ Records Archives, and Annex Offices in operational planning, human resources, financial, advocacy, community relations and risk management.

Hudspeth a 15-year member of the Harris County Clerk’s Office, served under three Administrations, she has held a variety of positions that have provided the extensive knowledge necessary to serve the public well, including Administrative Aide of Public Affairs, Special Projects Coordinator, Voter Outreach Coordinator, Public Information Officer, and Administrator of Communications & Voter Outreach.

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Just Between Us: One Thing I Didn’t Expect About Motherhood

By Kristan Hoffman

One Thing I Didn’t Expect About Motherhood: How much I would think about bodies. My body. My children’s bodies. The way they grow, stretch, scar and heal. Their softness and their strength. Through pregnancy, birth and recovery, I’ve become more forgiving toward my body, though it hasn’t always felt like mine. Its changes aren’t easy to accept, nor are the demands to share it so frequently. I marvel at my children, so awkward and elegant. Why are we drawn to embrace so often? Why does touch offer such comfort? I am not religious, but since becoming a mother, I have learned to worship. Our bodies are holy.

This piece was originally published in the New York Times in July 2020 as part of their “Modern Love: Tiny Love Stories” series. Reprinted with permission.

Kristan Hoffman is the daughter of this newspaper’s publishers, an author, and a columnist for this newspaper.

Sheldon ISD trustees cancel November bond election

District prioritizes safety and academics

At the July 14 school board meeting, Sheldon ISD trustees voted to cancel the November 3 bond election due to the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bond was originally called by the school board for the May election, but in March trustees unanimously voted to postpone the election due to COVID-19 virus.

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North Shore Rotary presents awards, scholarships

The Awards Presentation was held last Thursday, at the Rotary Pavilion on Wallisville Road. Seen above are club president Ryan Dagley, and (not in order) scholarship recipients Stephannie Villanueva, Aaron J. Daniels, Xenia Garcia, Emely J. Melendez, Alessandra Camarillo Morales, Yuleima Zamora, Sofia Garcia Bucio, Olivia B. Kirby, and Xavier K. Crawford. The students were from C.E. King High School, Channelview High School, and North Shore High School.

Nine graduating seniors receive $40,000 total

NORTH SHORE – The Rotary Club of North Shore held their regular weekly meeting last Thursday, and presented scholarships to nine graduating seniors, and achievement awards to 13 Rotary club members.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has been meeting in an outdoor setting at the pavilion behind the Wallisville courthouse. This allows them to maintain social distancing.

Scholarship awards were three types. Four year scholarship, amounting to $2500 each of 4 years, were presented to Stephannie Villanueva of C.E. King high school, Aaron J. Daniels of Channelview high school, and Xenia Garcia of North Shore high school.

A scholarship of $2500 was presented to Emely J. Melendez of North Shore high school.

Five scholarships of $1500 each were presented to the following: Alessandra Camarillo Morales, North Shore high school; Yuleima Zamora, C.E. King high school; Sofia Garcia Bucio, C.E. King high school; Olivia B. Kirby, Channelview high school; and Xavier K. Crawford, Channelview high school.

The occasion also was the venue for achievement awards to club members who had actively helped the organization through the 2019-2020 Rotary year. These were presented by outgoing president Ryan Dagley.

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Sheldon ISD Board of Trustees selected as Region 4 School Board of the Year

Sheldon ISD Trustees. The 2019-20 board members are: President Latricia Archie, VicePresident Eileen Palmer, Secretary Angela Cormier, Member Ken Coleman, Member Erika Martinez, Member Devora Myles and Member Fred Rivas. Superintendent King Davis is at second row, center.

The Sheldon ISD Board of Trustees has been selected as the Region 4 Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) School Board of the Year. Region 4 represents the greater Houston and surrounding area and is one of the largest education regions of the 20 in Texas. The 2019-20 board members are: President Latricia Archie, Vice-President Eileen Palmer, Secretary Angela Cormier, Member Ken Coleman, Member Erika Martinez, Member Devora Myles and Member Fred Rivas. The School Board Awards Program recognizes school boards that have demonstrated outstanding dedication and rendered ethical service to the children of Texas.

“We are blessed to have such a dedicated group of individuals serving the Sheldon community,” said Superintendent Dr. King Davis. “From the challenges of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019 and now the COVID-19 pandemic, our board continues to place children first with every decision they make.”

Dr. Davis also said he was pleased that members of the regional School Board Awards committee were able to see how Sheldon ISD trustees have made tremendous gains in the areas of finance, student achievement and growth.

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Garza’s family provides summer heat relief for pets

Garza Family – L-R: Jayden holding Jumper, Lily, Jay grooming Max and Jesus. Jacinto City’s Garza’s family provides sweltering heat relief for 2 pet dogs. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Jacinto City, TX. – July, 20, 2020 – During the record breaking heat waves Jacinto City’s Garza family regularly gives their two pet dogs a cooling down. Their dogs get to enjoy the inside air-conditioning when needed.

Galena Park Police Chief Rodney Chersky said, “My officers take very serious the treatment and care pets in the city is getting. While on routine patrol the officers look for outdoor pets appearing to be in distress because of the heat. We’ll immediately call for one of the city’s two humane officers to investigate any questionable pet being neglected. If a citizen suspects animal mistreatment, he urges them to call the police so we can investigate it.”

“People without thinking will get a long haired dog and put them outside and this can be tortuous for the dog. If a person would put on a fur coat and wear it outside for just a couple hours during the summer, they’d quickly see how hot it is for a long haired dog, it’s even hard on a short haired dog outside during the summer,” Chersky said.

“Pet owners should check on their outdoor pets several times a day and give them lots of fresh cool water every few hours. If they cannot bring their pet indoors during the summer then they must provide lots of shade for them. Some people will put water in a small water bowl before leaving for work and expect that to be enough water for 8 to 10 hours while they’re gone, that’s cruel,” the chief said.

Dogs kept outdoors are the most common pets to be mistreated, 70 percent of animal cruelty cases is dogs. With daytime temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s it doesn’t take long before a pet can have a heat stroke.

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Run-off election holds surprise results

Eagleton in a landslide; Garcia wins tight race

HARRIS COUNTY – Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican Parties held their Run-Off Primary elections and the results in several races were different than had been predicted.

Jacinto City and vicinity had a showdown between Precinct 2 Constable incumbent Chris Diaz against challenger Lt. Jerry Garcia. This was a close race, with Garcia winning by only 229 votes of 9,505 cast. This race had been marked with negative charges of unethical practices and favoritism on both sides.

Substantially more people voted in the Democratic Party in early voting at several Precinct 3 locations. Early voting counts in Crosby were 744 Democratic and 434 Republican most probably due to the hotly contentious local Precinct 3 Constable race between incumbent Sherman Eagleton, and previous constable Ken Jones, and the fact that there were more contests at issue for the Democrats. Over 150,000 votes were cast county wide on the Democratic ticket. The Republicans drew about 60,000 on their ballot.

Voters are no longer designated to specific voting precincts but habitually tend to vote at locations near where they live and with which they are familiar.

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