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Posts published in March 2021

State opens COVID shots to everyone

HARRIS COUNTY – All adults will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas beginning Monday, March 29. The Texas Department of State Health Services expects vaccine supplies to increase next week, and providers in multiple parts of the state have made great strides in vaccinating people in the current priority groups. The state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel recommended opening vaccination to everyone who falls under the current Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations to protect as many Texans as possible.

“As a matter of fact, we in Houston had pretty much exhausted our waitlists and we wanted to have more real-time appointments available,” said Houston Health Department director Stephen Williams. Texans can continue to find vaccine providers throughout Greater Houston and sign up on waitlists through the DSHS Vaccine Information page at dshs.texas.gov/covidvaccine.

Jacinto City Police Officers Recognized

L – R: Lt. Dennis Walker, Sgt. Eliserio Ramos, Patrolman Ronnie Barker II, Chief Joe Ayala, Dispatcher Kasey Aguilar, Lt. Mark Longrigg, Patrolmen Jody Pizano & Cuitlahuac Cazares. Others recognized but not present, Kathy Andrews & Esther Perez.

By Allan Jamail

Jacinto City, TX. – At the Jacinto City council meeting members of the Jacinto City Police Department were recognized for their outstanding performance in the investigation and apprehension of several dangerous crime suspects. Multiple felony criminal cases were solved involving aggravated robberies, house burglaries, vehicle burglaries, stolen credit cards and stolen motor vehicles. The suspects after being booked were transferred to the Harris County Jail and are awaiting their trials.

Channelview FD achieves higher Fire Insurance rating

According to Jimmy Sumbera, Administrator for Harris County ESD No. 50, and the Channelview Fire Department, a reclassification of the ISO rating for the department will have possible benefits to Channelview property owners. This information may reduce your insurance rates, but you must notify your insurance company of this change. The reduction in your homeowner’s policy will not be automatic. Channelview Fire Department is getting the word out to the community related to the upcoming change in our ISO Public Protection Classification rating. For the past year the fire department has been working with the Insurance Services Office (ISO) to have Channelview Fire Department evaluated for a reclassification. The PPC Classes range from 1 to 10 with a Class 1 providing the best fire protect and also resulting in the best insurance rates. Channelview is currently a Class 6.

Texas House considers Deep Freeze bills

REPRESENTATIVE ANA HERNANDEZ

Report by Rep. Ana Hernandez

On March 8, Speaker Dade Phelan announced the first phase of the House’s legislative reforms to protect consumers and strengthen our state’s electric grid in the aftermath of the recent, unprecedented cold weather event. Speaker Phelan highlighted the following key legislation filed by members of the Texas House of Representatives:

HB 10 – Reforming Energy Reliability Council of Texas Leadership

HB 10, filed by Representative Paddie, restructures the ERCOT board, replacing the unaffiliated members with members appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House. HB 10 also requires all board members to reside in the state of Texas and creates an additional ERCOT board member slot to represent consumer interests.

HB 11 – Protecting Consumers and Hardening Facilities for Extreme Weather

HB 11, filed by Representative Paddie, requires electric transmission and generation facilities in this state to be weatherized against the spectrum of extreme weather Texas may face. Utilities will be required to reconnect service as soon as possible and prevent slower reconnections for low-income areas, rural Texas, and small communities.

HB 12 – Alerting Texans During Emergencies

Senegal joins EHCEC as Resource Development Director

VAL SENEGAL

East Harris County, Texas – March 2, 2021 – East Harris County Empowerment Council (EHCEC) hires Val Senegal as Director of Resource Development.

A Louisiana native, Val Senegal, has been recently named as the Director of Resource Development for East Harris County Empowerment Council.

As a former AmeriCorps member, public school teacher, and political candidate, Senegal brings a wealth of knowledge and experience addressing the subject matters of public safety, affordable insurance, education, behavioral health, and mental health within both the public and private sectors. Her extensive experiences as both a change agent and an employee-centric leadership professional will complement the initiatives of EHCEC. Senegal will lead EHCEC’s fundraising & volunteer initiatives. Terence Narcisse, Founder & CEO of EHCEC, said, “We’re very excited to have Val join our team. Her experience, knowledge, and management capabilities will propel us to the next level!”

We are so close to beating the virus

We are Texans, and the concept of freedom is an essential piece of our identity. We all want the freedom to go out to eat and to socialize, the freedom for our economy and our schools to open without the fear of getting deathly ill, the freedom to use amazing science and vaccine developments to our full advantage. But taking away critical public health interventions that we know are working in the name of personal freedom won’t make our community safer, nor will it hasten our return to normalcy. The state’s decision on Tuesday to end the statewide mask mandate and increase business capacity to 100% is a threat to all of the sacrifices and progress we’ve made, as well as to everyone who has not yet received a vaccine. At best, Tuesday’s decision is wishful thinking. At worst, it is a cynical attempt to distract Texans from the failures of state oversight of our power grid.

Every time COVID-19 public health measures have been pulled back, we’ve seen a spike in hospitalizations. If we start the climb now, we’d be starting from the highest starting point ever when it comes to our hospital population, an unacceptable and dangerous proposition. Even more troubling is the revelation that Houston has the unfortunate distinction of being the only city recording every major strain of COVID-19. Our positivity rate is still sky high and moving up, not down — we’re now at 13% positivity. We’re still seeing hundreds of new cases a day. With the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we’re finally inching closer to the finish line of this deadly, destructive pandemic — now is not the time to reverse the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We’re able to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel now because of the common sense steps we’ve taken to prevent the spread of this virus, like wearing masks. We can’t take one step forward just to take two steps back.

Allatia Harris new Chamber Chair

DR. ALLATIA HARRIS

By Jada Mier

Dr. Allatia Harris was sworn in as Board chairman for the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021, virtually via Zoom at the first Chamber Board meeting of the year. Harris County Justice of the Peace Lucia Bates performed the ceremony, and additional officers and directors took the oath that morning to “promote business growth and quality of life in the North Channel Area.”

Raised in Dallas, Harris attended the University of North Texas, where she majored in Communications, obtaining her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. Dr. Harris holds a doctorate in educational administration with a specialization in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin where she has been recognized as a Distinguished Graduate. After being in administration in the Dallas county community colleges, a presidency opened up at the San Jacinto Community College North Campus. Not wanting to leave Dallas, Harris was hesitant to interview; when she went to the campus, she fell in love with the North Channel community.

Galena Park’s Medical Clinic Administers COVID Vaccine

Certified Medical Assistant Claudia Franco at the Galena Park Medical Clinic is giving the life saving Moderna COVID 19 virus vaccine to patient Francisco Luevano. Observing, Galena Park Mayor Esmeralda Moya (red) and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (right) (Photo Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Galena Park, TX. – Friday, March 5, 2021, at the Galena Park Medical Clinic, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia and Mayor Esmeralda Moya assisted the clinic in obtaining the Moderna COVID-19 for the citizens and the nearby areas.

Congresswoman Garcia said, “My objective is to bring the virus vaccine to the people. Many people are unable to travel long distances and wait in long lines for hours to be protected from the virus. With President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Economic Rescue Plan, we’ll now be able to make sizable gains in protecting citizens from the deadly virus.”

Octavio Plaza, the clinic’s office manager, said, “This is so true. Frequently we have some older citizens unable to get from their cars to get inside for their vaccination, and I and others have gone out into the parking lot to assist them in getting inside.”

The plan calls for $20 billion in a national vaccination program, including launching community vaccination centers around the country and mobile units in hard-to-reach areas. It’ll provide $50 billion in testing providing funds to purchase rapid tests expand lab capacity and help schools implement regular testing to support reopening. It will also fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the community health workforce. And it will provide support to long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks and to prisons for mitigation strategies.

School districts respond to Abbott’s Mandate… The Masks Stay on

DR. JOHN MOORE, Superintendent of Galena Park ISD, wears a mask at a recent news conference.

By Jada Mier

Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order (GA-34) lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. Although this gives institutes the freedom to lift their own mandatory mask protocols, many feel that it is unwise to do so.

Galena Park ISD, Channelview ISD, Sheldon ISD and San Jacinto community college have all decided that in wake of this new mandate it would be safer for students and staff to carry on with their mask requirement.

Waste Pits update by Zoom meeting

MAP above of Southern Impoundment, shows excavation of toxic waste from 4’ deep (green) to 10’ deep (red).

Waste Pits remediation schedule extended, disposal and classification of waste questioned

By Gilbert Hoffman

The San Jacinto River Coalition, and THEA have learned that the time line for remediation and removal of the Waste Pits in the river will take considerably more time than originally thought, due to a number of factors.

Pre-Design Investigation, or PDI, discovered that the depth of the waste to be removed was much greater than the original 12 feet. In some places in the Northern Impoundment it was as deep as 25 feet. The significance of this meant that more material would have to be removed, and more water infiltrating from the river would have to be treated. The original time line had been to complete the project in 2 and one-half years, and now it looks like the schedule will be seven years. The Final Design plan called for one year of preparation to procure contractors and materials, 5 years to remove the waste material (the site would be divided into five zones, each separated from the others, and taking a year to remediate) and a year to mobilize.

However, in September THEA learned that the EPA had granted the PRP consultant’s request for additional time for engineering, due to the increased scope and depth of the waste.

Pct. 2 Medical SmartPod wins innovation award

Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia last October, dedicating first SmartPod in the Aldine area.

Harris County, TX — Commissioner Adrian Garcia and Precinct 2 received the prestigious American City & County 2020 Crown Communities Award. Garcia and Precinct 2 were chosen for their entry, which described the purchase, installation, and deployment of two SmartPod mobile health care units designed by Baylor. Precinct 2’s SmartPods are known as ACCESS2HEALTH.

Crown Communities Awards are based on uniqueness, short- and long-term value to the community and effective/innovative financing. The announcement cites ACCESS2HEALTH for its “Innovative COVID-19 Emergency Response.” Though the two ACCESS2HEALTH units were purchased prior to the pandemic, once installed, their availability for remote COVID-19 testing was of immediate value that continues today. Once COVID-19 is no longer the most pressing health issue of the times, ACCESS2HEALTH can be converted to provide clinical and behavioral health services, ultimately providing patients with a medical home.