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Star-Courier News

EPA CHIEF PRUITT RESIGNS

The beleaguered head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, resigned his position last week, on July 5th, only one day after attending a 4th of July event at the White House. President Trump accepted his resignation, and said that his assistant, Andrew Wheeler, would take over EPA as Acting Administrator.

Pruitt had befriended local Houston environmentalists such as Jackie Young of the SJRC, and Scott Jones of the GBF. It remains to be seen whether the new administrator will be as open and helpful on their local issues.

Pruitt had become well-known in Houston environmental circles, having visited the San Jacinto River Waste Pits in person, and placed their disposal on his “Top Ten” list of projects to receive his attention.

Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA was controversial from the beginning, and as he made a number of questionable choices in his style of administration, he became a constant source of embarrassment to the President and his administration.

He had been questioned by Congressmen and the media about high travel spending, security team costs, dealings with lobbyists who he would have to rule on later, and misuse of government resources.

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GUARDS BLOCK ACCESS TO IMMIGRANT KIDS FACILITY

Armed guard, Chief G. Fuentes blocks State Senator Sylvia Garcia (left) and State Representative Ana Hernandez from entering the children’s detention facility in their district. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

State Officials Sylvia Garcia and Ana Hernandez turned away

By Allan Jamail
Edited by NCS staff

CHANNELVIEW, TX. – North Channel – Friday, June 29, 2018 — State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Ana Hernandez went to Casa Montezuma, a child detention facility in their district, to check on migrant children being housed there. The children have either been separated from their parents who immigrated to the United States seeking political asylum from violence and persecution, or else they arrived without parents.

Armed officers in uniforms bearing the name Fort Bend County Patrol swarmed Garcia and Hernandez, stopping them and telling them they could not enter to see the children even though they both proved they were elected state officials.

Allan Jamail, a photojournalist for the North Channel Star, accompanying the state officials, had his camera grabbed by an officer whose uniform identified him as Chief G. Fuentes. Fuentes told the visiting group that the area is private property and off-limits to visitors and photo-taking.

Fuentes said, “Visitors must first make an appointment by phone to visit the facility,” but when Garcia and Hernandez told Fuentes they’ve called for days but no one will answer the phone, Fuente then said, “I know because they don’t want any visitors, so they’re not going to answer the phone.”

Not easily persuaded to leave without first checking on the welfare of the kids, for almost an hour a standoff with security in over 100 degree scorching heat, finally Fuentes agreed to allow Garcia and Hernandez to go to the front door to make an appointment for a visit on another day.

The door was locked and no one inside would come to the door or answer the intercom system, so after numerous attempts Chief Fuentes said, “You need to leave because no one is going to come talk to you or allow you inside. They don’t want visitors.”

Fuentes said he was only doing his job, but Garcia and Hernandez responded and told him he was preventing them from doing their jobs to check on the welfare of children in their District.

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Morman backs bond

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman talks with Crosby flood victims Viola Stubbs and Mildred Bebee concerning options for their property on the Cedar Bayou Watershed. The Commissioner expressed many plans based on the recently completed study of the waterway and indicated that another meeting may be planned for the Cedar Bayou Watershed.

CROSBY – Monday, at the Crosby Community Center Harris County Flood Control District and varied parts of Harris County Commissioner’s Court Precinct 2 came together with interested local residents to hear about the proposed bond to deal with flooding issues.

A $2.5 billion dollar bond is proposed by the Commissioner’s Court and this meeting was to help convince locals that their is a need in the Jackson Bayou vicinity, that is to get some flood control measures and addressed the down stream of the San Jacinto River Watershed.

The bond election is to be held August 25 – the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. Early voting is to begin August 8th. It is to address Harris County’s most prevalent natural disaster. The total need in the county for flood risk reduction is about $25 billion, the bond is to enable the H.C. Flood Control District to leverage the federal Harvey-related disaster funding that is on its way to Harris County. The cost to taxpayers would be spread over 10 to 15 years for an estimated 2-3 cents per $100 valuation. An over-65 or disabled exemption and a home worth $200,000 or less would not pay any additional taxes.

“In addition to the watershed that we are meeting on today, the Jackson Bayou Watershed, this is an interconnective system. The water flow upstream will impact in a positive way those folks that flood downstream. This is the most important election in my lifetime, it will be the most we can do to combat flooding for generations to come.” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Morman.

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Klobassa Fest success

Eddie Foster checks registration on the record fifty six of classic dream vehicles at the Knights of Columbus’ Klobassa Festival last Sunday. The elegant car show was only part of the attraction as the Live Auction also hit a high water mark. Traditional Czech food was served at its most delicious manifestation for donation. A gun raffle featured some highly desired weapons. Intermittently the Knights of Columbus hall was packed and bids were high for kolaches, bicycles and Catholic Education during the Live Auction. Trophies were awarded to the winners of multiple categories for the car show. Most loud were the drawings for the firearms that went on raffle.

Immigrant kids already housed in County

This building at 15101 I-10 East Frontage Road, now houses about 200 immigrant children most of whom crossed into the U.S. without their parents. The building was formerly the Kindred Hospital, and before that the East Department of the East Houston Hospital. It has been run by Southwest Key Programs as a shelter for undocumented children for several years.

Southwest Key plans to add 5th site

By Gilbert Hoffman

As debate rages endlessly in the nation about the federal government policy of separating children from their parents who entered the county illegally, the debate has now moved to the Houston political stage because the state’s largest provider of these services has requested a permit to use a building at 419 Emancipation Avenue on Houston’s east side. Southwest Key Programs is the largest provider in Texas, now housing 2,725 unaccompanied children in 16 locations.

This includes 4 facilities in the greater Houston area that are virtually unknown and unnoticed, including one that dates back to 1991. Two of these are in the North Channel/Northeast circulation area. Casa Montezuma is on the I-10 Feeder road in the Channelview area. Neighbors had suspected that the facility was a federal children’s shelter, but weren’t sure, they told this newspaper. Records from the Texas Health and Human Services show that the facility is currently housing 191 children, and recently had its license increased to 210, an increase of 11% similar to figures statewide. This shelter is licensed to provide child care services only, since May 2017. Children housed are from 10 to 17 years of age.

The other facility in our area is at 7900 Mesa Drive, in Northeast Houston. It houses 54 children, ages 10 to 17, and is licensed for multiple services, including Emotional Disorders. It has had a license from the state since 1991. Most of the Texas shelters are run by two nonprofits: Southwest Key Programs and BCFS Health and Human Services. The latter is a church sponsored group, based in Dallas.

Southwest Key is a private company based in Austin, founded in 1987 by Juan Sanchez and his wife Jennifer. Southwest Key receives most of its funding in grants and contract revenues. It’s income has increased substantially, from $193 million in 2015, to $310 million in 2018 in the “unaccompanied alien children” program. Its projected income next year is $458 million. It currently houses about 5,100 immigrant children, and operates 26 immigrant youth facilities in Texas, Arizona, and California.

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Judge Emmett speaks on $2.5 billion flood bonds

Judge Ed Emmett speaking at the Rotary Club of Houston last week.

HOUSTON – In a wide ranging talk before the Rotary Club of Houston, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett spoke about a number of topics of interest. He started by talking about his appreciation for the work that Rotary does in the community, and across the world. He gave examples from his own experience of how he has been touched by and involved in this work.

Then he spoke about the upcoming $2.5 billion bond issue that will be on the ballot in a special election on August 25th. He explained that the date is the one year anniversary of the devastation when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, causing flooding throughout Harris County and other parts of the state.

“Harvey changed a lot of lives,” he said. He noted that 154,000 homes in Harris County and Houston flooded. The Hurricane dropped 51” of rain in a four day period. Many homes were destroyed or made unlivable, and there were many deaths in the flood waters.

Emmett looked at the history of floods in the Houston area. In 1936 downtown was inundated by water, and as a result 2 reservoirs were built in the 40s as protection. But Hurricane Harvey exceeded the 100 year flood, and perhaps the 500 year flood.

Emmett talked about, and distributed a brochure, outlining 16 steps that need to be taken to make the county “resilient” and able to withstand future floods.

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Crosby Fair & Rodeo Auction wraps up a success

Shelby Kouba showed the Grand Market Steer that sold for $25,000.00 to Bayshore CDJR. In all, the Live Auction brought $328,050.00, silent auction, add on sales and No Sale added $39,358.00. The total 2018 Fair Sales were $367,408.00 from 108 Exhibits this year. See Pages 5 and 6 for details of the Livestock Auction with photographs of the Grand and Reserve, sellers and buyers.

Record-setting Crosby Livestock Show nets over $375,000; $25,000 bid for GC steer

Shelby Kouba exhibits “Tucker.” As the auctioneer reaches out for $22,000, a gasp comes from the audience. This is Shelby’s second year to show the Grand Champion steer in Crosby.

CROSBY — Although official tallies are not completed yet and there is still to be much billed and collected, it seems the livestock sale last Wednesday including silent auction, live auction, resale and other factors, brought in about $375,000 total. About 60 local youth exhibited livestock or Ag. mechanics or horticulture exhibits, and sales were at a record high, including the grand champion steer for $25,000 to Bayshore Dodge. Unofficial tallies indicate that the Livestock Live Auction brought about $310,000, but there was much on-going. Next week the Star-Courier intends to present the Livestock Auction in full photo of the grand and reserves.

‘Tough Enough’ bestows $150,000

Tough Enough to Wear Pink Committee of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo bestows $150,000 Saturday night at the Crosby Fair & Rodeo $120,000 to the Pink Heals Foundation that helps those fighting cancer pay regular bills. They awarded $30,000 to Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance. These fund were raised by the volunteer organization at Bras For The Cause last February. More on page 8.

CROSBY – Tough Enough to Wear Pink a committee of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo raised a stunning amount of money from the Bras for the Cause last February. Last Saturday they gave those funds to two deserving charities that help people fighting cancer, and they passed a million dollar milestone in funds they raised and gave away, too.

Lanette Armstrong said, “I am thankful to have the support of the community that we have year after year. Although we are a small community it blows me away that we are able to do this and give back. There are so many people that are in such need.”

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Cristy Graves named Citizen of the Year, again

Christy Graves, Medical Services Chief for HCESD#5, the ambulance crews in Crosby and board member of HCESD#4 in Huffman receives the 2018 Citizen’s Recognition Award from Eastside Veteran’s Celebration engraved Citizen of the Year from Bob Ward. Eddie Foster of the organization looks on and John Lindsay, Lifetime member Crosby Fair & Rodeo applauds.