East Harris County, Texas —East Harris County Empowerment Council (EHCEC) received a $200,000 grant from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund. The Fund is led by the Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston to support vulnerable households throughout Harris and Montgomery counties.
East Harris County households have been impacted in various ways from the novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19. As schools remain closed and the true toll remains unclear, families are looking for help. “We are so grateful that the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund has trusted us to support our neighbors during this time,” says Terence Narcisse, Executive Director. “We hope that this emergency financial assistance will help families keep the lights on and food on the table.”
This program is available to the Channelview, Crosby, Galena Park, Jacinto City, Northshore, and Sheldon communities. EHCEC is currently accepting applications for the COVID-19 Neighbor Assistance Program on the website at www.ehcec.org/covid19.
Jacinto City, TX. — Saturday, May 23, 2020 – For Jacinto City’s officials having a graduation parade just a couple of months ago wasn’t planned nor could it ever have been imagined, but since the COVID-19 virus struck nothing’s been a resemblance of normalcy.
Scientists have estimated the deadly virus entered the United States as early as November or December of 2019 but it didn’t hit home to schools across the nation until mid-March while many of the students were home for Spring Break. Schools and students lives were changed once it became known the highly contagious decease was being passed on human to human. Studies revealed an infected person even without virus symptoms were spreading the germs as easy as talking to one another by “voice-droplets” transmitted in the air. Schools, churches, sporting events brought a halt to large gatherings as it still is today.
The long awaited graduation ceremonies planned for years by high school and college students were no longer allowed. Graduates wouldn’t be able to walk across a stage to receive their diploma or say goodbye to their classmates after years of friendship.
The Galena Park School District’s graduates, parents and family members were saddened as all others schools were by the sudden turn of events. Soon people began devising ways to safely celebrate milestones from birthdays to funerals by keeping a safe distance of 6 feet apart and wearing a mask. Parades called “wave by’s and drive by’s” became prevalent across the nation giving communities ways to help students celebrate.
Jacinto City’s Mayor Ana Diaz said she was contacted by graduate Ana Banda’s mother, Luisa Banda Perez about the possibility of having a parade so the students and families could celebrate. The City Council approved the parade, City Manager Lon Squyres began planning the event which had never been done before, and Chief of Police Joe Ayala’s police department had to provide traffic control and was assisted by a large turnout of Precinct 2 deputies along with Constable Chris Diaz (Mayor Diaz’s husband). Graduates of Furr High School joined in with the Galena Park 2020 Class. Mayor Diaz said, “The parade was the idea from Luisa and her hard work and organizing the students to come participate that made the event the success it was.”
Mayor Diaz said, “I was saddened for the students and families to not have the normal graduation ceremony and I felt the city should do everything it could to give them the best parade possible. It made me feel good to be able to stand on the parade sideline with members of the city council and wave and shout congratulations as each graduate came past the city’s congratulatory banner. Our city has a big heart; it’s always given a helping hand to a good cause.”
JACINTO CITY, MAY 13 – The Jacinto City food distribution, virus masks giveaway and U. S. Census information event was organized by the Office of Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia in collaboration with State Senator Carol Alvarado, State Rep. Ana Hernandez, Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Mayor of Jacinto City Ana Diaz, Constable Christopher Diaz, the U.S. Census, and the Houston Food Bank.
“Today, May 13th, I organized a food distribution event in Jacinto City because it is imperative that no one in our community goes hungry due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congresswoman Garcia. “We must continue to do everything in our power to help people who have been hit the hardest by this health and economic crisis. The need for food assistance is great, so much so that people waited in line for hours to secure food for their families,” continued Congresswoman Garcia. “And this is not just happening in the greater Houston region. It’s occurring all across the country as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table. This is why the Heroes Act, which was introduced on Tuesday in the House of Representatives, includes additional funds to expand SNAP and other food assistance benefits during this crisis. We have a responsibility to ensure we take care of the people in our community and all across the U.S.,” concluded Congresswoman Garcia.
JACINTO CITY – The city council met at their regular time last Thursday evening, and on the Agenda was an item to consider moving the May 2nd Municipal Election to a different date.
Governor Abbott had sent instructions to all municipalities to consider moving their election date to November, due to concerns about people congregating at the polls during the Covid-19 virus pandemic and subsequent lockdown. He strongly advised this action, with possible discipline if it was not followed.
The council voted to move the election, but did not specify a date, only that it would be in the future. City Manager Lon Squyres said it might be in July, when a run-off election is scheduled in the county, or November.
The council meeting was unusual, because it took place in the new police building, with all participants observing “social distancing” and the public participating by video conference.
Some elections are still scheduled May 2, including the Barbers Hill bond referendum, and Mont Belvieu municipal offices.
COVID-19 Virus causes Galena Park, Galena Park ISD to reset local elections; Jacinto City to follow
HARRIS COUNTY – Following the proclamation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, allowing the rescheduling of voting, several local elections scheduled for May 2nd have been postponed and moved to November 3rd, the official uniform election day for other offices.
The governor issued his directive to keep people from congregating at the polls, and to minimize the possibility that the COVID-19 virus would be spread to voters.
Galena Park took their action in a virtual board meeting Monday night, held by computer from each Commissioner’s home. The city had previously planned on holding the election as a “drive-up” at Baggett Community Center and City Hall. This would have allowed voters to cast ballots from their car, to avoid close proximity with others. However, the city decided it would be safer to have the election in November, in the normal manner, according to City Attorney Robert Collins. Voters will choose between 3 candidates for Mayor, and several Commissioner seats.
Galena Park ISD also voted to move their Trustee election to November. The vote was by remote means to keep everyone safe from the virus.
Jacinto City has not officially moved their election to November as of press time. The May 2nd election was to take place at the Town Center. However, City Manager Lon Squyres said that the agenda for the April 9th City Council meeting included a discussion and vote on moving the election to November, and it is expected to pass.
Another entity in the area that has scheduled an election is the Barbers Hill ISD. They plan to ask voters to approve a $277 million dollar bond issue for new schools and related expenditures. They have indicated they will continue to have the election on May 2nd, and voters will cast their ballot at the high school, perhaps in a “drive-up” mode. They also are encouraging everyone to use mail-in ballots if possible.
Galena Park ISD issues statement on unprecedented action
JACINTO CITY – Monday, April 6, 2020 — Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and the City of Jacinto City hosted the United Memorial Medical Center’s COVID-19 virus testing. The testing of 190 people was conducted at the Jacinto City Town Center which was aimed at testing First Responders and seniors over 60 years of age.
North Channel Star writer Allan Jamail asked about the cost for the tests and both UMMC President Syed Mohuiddin and Congresswoman Lee said the testing is free.
City Manager Lon Squyres upon learning of the availability to be able to bring testing to the city activated all city departments to work with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) to accomplish the testing. He said, “I’m so glad for this opportunity to make our first responders comfortable when going home to their families after serving on the front lines in our communities.” First responders tested were from Jacinto City, Galena Park, Houston and several constable precincts.
Mayor Ana Diaz and city officials were at the site to oversee the one day event. Mayor Diaz said, “We’re so appreciative of Congresswoman Lee for her bringing UMMC here for testing of our Police and Fire Department personnel, area seniors and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.”
HARRIS COUNTY – Although in early stages of planning and design, engineers with TxDOT have begun to talk about the design and schedule for a replacement bridge over the San Jacinto River. With 4 to 6 lanes in each direction and no supporting columns in the river, it would be a vast improvement over the current situation. However, authorities and environmentalists are concerned that construction of a new bridge might interfere with the planned removal of the toxic wastes in the Superfund Sits in the river. Workers on either project could be exposed to dangerous toxic waste, and would require special protective procedures. Planners for the EPA are also taking into consideration that work might take place during hurricane season, limiting the schedule to safe months. This might also be a consideration for the bridge construction.
Preliminary details of the design were discussed at a meeting in November with the Economic Alliance, and additional information was learned by this newspaper from TxDOT engineers. TxDOT is currently conducting a PEL or Planning and Environmental Linkage study of the IH-10 corridor, including the bridge. The study includes the corridor as it passes through Houston, Jacinto City, Channelview, Baytown, and Mont Belvieu. A PEL study is a high-level, early planning study process that represents an approach to transportation decision making that considers environmental, community and economic goals early in the planning stage. It involves public meetings with feedback from the public and interested parties, as well as engineering studies.
Normally a new bridge as contemplated would take 5 to 10 years for design and construction, but TxDOT indicates that due to the critical nature of this corridor, and the continued threat of damage from barge traffic and storms, the schedule may be condensed to 3 to 5 years.
This short schedule puts the construction activity into the area at the same time as the EPA plans to remove the toxic Waste Pits from the North and South sides of the bridge. TxDOT said they are aware of this problem and taking it into consideration. Also being studied is how the expanded highway, at a higher elevation, would join with existing roads on the east and west banks. They are especially concerned about the intersection with Crosby-Lynchburg Road, and Highway 330, they said. (more…)
Two lawsuits have been filed involving personnel practices in the Constable Precinct 2 office, run by Constable Chris Diaz.
The original Petition to the state court was filed last June, in which Plaintiffs Jerry Luman, the Chief Deputy, and three others claimed retaliation, demotions and terminations for their part in a “whistleblower” report. Defendants named were Constable Diaz, Deputy Lee Hernandez, and Harris County. Diaz and Hernandez were subsequently removed from the Defendants, due to restrictions in the state laws.
The whistleblower report had involved the accusation that Lt. Kim Bellotte had misused resources that were meant for Hurricane Harvey victims, and filed incorrect time cards in relation to that effort. The charges included Diaz distributing tee-shirts printed with his name, even though they were donated as flood relief. The Texas Rangers investigated these reports, and no charges were filed.
The second lawsuit was filed in December, in federal court, and eleven plaintiffs claimed discrimination and abridgment of their first amendment rights of the U. S. Constitution, due to the personnel actions similar to the complaints in the first lawsuit, and an additional charge that they were required to support Chris Diaz financially and personally in his political campaign. (more…)
Jacinto City, Tx. – Friday, October 25, 2019 at the Jacinto City Town Center, volunteers stepped up to make sure the food staples, health and personal dental hygiene kits was distributed to those requesting assistance. Over 200 people were assisted from the local communities.