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Star-Courier News

EPA holds Waste Pits interviews

EPA community representative Janetta Coats, and representatives from Texas Health and Human Services and the TCEQ are present for two days this week in Highlands to interview local residents, gather information and ideas about the San Jacinto River Waste Pits. Coats will include the information in the EPA Community Involvement Plan.

Gates opened to lower Lake Houston

Lake Houston spillway opened. (archive photo)

HOUSTON – Council Member Dave Martin informed the public that all gates on the Lake Houston Spillway Dam are open due to the current inclement weather threat to our area. The gates will remain open until a lake level of 41.5 feet is achieved or the weather threat to our area is lifted.

As a reminder to residents the City of Houston, post-Harvey, has successfully implemented the prerelease strategy during rain events on Easter, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Anytime there is a rain event that is forecast to produce a minimum of three inches of rain in the San Jacinto Watershed, the Coastal Water Authority (CWA), under the direction of the City of Houston will open the Lake Houston Spillway Gates.

The gates will remain open during weather threats until the level of Lake Houston reaches 41.5 feet, which is one foot below normal pool elevation of 42.5 feet, or the inclement weather threat for the area is lifted. This pre-release strategy will be implemented each time a rainfall of more than three inches is predicted for the San Jacinto Watershed.

The City of Houston and the CWA monitor each incoming weather system around the clock for changes in forecast so that the pre-release strategy can be implemented in a timely manner. Residents may monitor the level of Lake Houston by visiting cwa.onerain.com

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EPA expands Superfund interviews to two days in Highlands, with wrap-up session

Congressman Brian Babin examines the Geofabric materials to be used in the ongoing repairs of the cap over the toxic waste pits in the San Jacinto River. Babin visited the site in July, with EPA Region 6 Remedial Chief John Meyer.

HIGHLANDS – Janetta Coats of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has announced that she will be in Highlands on Tuesday, Sept. 11 from 1pm to 5pm, and Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 1pm to 7pm, conducting one-on-one interviews with residents that have been affected by the waste pits, or have an opinion for the official CIP record. Interviews will take place at the Highlands Community Center, and last about one hour each. Everyone is welcome to participate, by calling Coats at 1-800-533- 3508 to schedule an interview. A Round Table Discussion will take place from 5pm to 6pm on Wednesday.

Coats issued the following statement on the CIP interview process:

We appreciate your willingness to participate in the interview process to update the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Community Involvement Plan (CIP). The community interviews are conducted to gather information for the CIP. The interviews are a way to meet with community members and learn about their site-related needs, concerns, and expectations, as well as how the community gets information and prefers to received information from EPA.

The CIP is a required activity under the National Contingency Plan (NCP) to ensure the public appropriate opportunities for involvement is a wide variety to ensure public involvement. We will interview a broad range of people in order to gain the greatest variety of perspectives about the site, including PRPs, if needed.

In general the objective for the community interviews will include:

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Truck/car collision injures driver

The roof of the pick-up was crushed in and the front of the vehicle is nearly flattened following a collision with a sand transport truck whose driver insists was pulling onto CrosbyLynchburg Road when the alleged speeding pickup hit the rear of his vehicle.

BARRETT STATION – A local pickup was mangled and Lifeflight helicopters had to standby as Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. attempted to rescue a pickup driver in critical condition after a roadway crash with a truck from a sand mining operation.

The accident occurred just before 7:00 a.m. last Thursday on Crosby-Lynchburg Rd. near Floy.

The driver of the tractor trailer truck said he was pulling onto Crosby-Lynchburg when the pickup smashed into the rear of the trailer.

A man driving the car was trapped for a half hour before Crosby VFD could free him with the jaws of life.

Harris County Sheriff’s Traffic Investigators continue to look into the circumstances.

SAFETY CONCERNS ON MARKET STREET

By Michael W. Palmer

On August 21, The P&Z Commission approved the request for installation of eight; “No Parking,” and one No U-Turn sign and “No Standing Signs” which will be permanent placement signs on Market Street, Carnegie Street, and Gentry Street.

The meaning of “Stand” or “standing” means to halt an occupied or unoccupied vehicle, other than temporarily while receiving or discharging passengers.

“Carnegie Street can hold six lanes of traffic comfortably,” said Matthew Johnson – Traffic Engineer for the City of Baytown. He also said, “The identified safety concern was that drivers were queuing up in the eastbound lanes of Market Street starting from the high school parking lot driveway. This situation is an unsafe condition due to the queue terminating near the end of a blind curve on a bridge. I am pleased that the plan is moving forward.”

Police Chief Dougherty said, “I am in favor of anything that the city may implement that will improve our quality of life and make our streets safer for our motoring and pedestrian public.”

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Rotary’s annual Washer Tournament set Sep. 15

Champion washer throwers last year included Daryl Reuter (left) of the 2nd place Reuter Boys team, and Justin Graves (right) of the 1st place Flying Saucer team. Almost 50 teams, or 100 throwers, competed in the all-day tourney.

HIGHLANDS – The Rotary Club is all set to hold their 12th annual 3-Hole Washer Board Charity Tournament, on Saturday, September 12th.

The event is open to the public, as well as all Rotarians. It will be held at Charlie’s Ice House, 906 N. Main Street. 2 person teams must register by 1:30 that day, and the cost to play is $50. Awards include trophies and cash prizes, and competition is fierce.

Rotary is also looking for sponsors, individuals or companies. Sponsorships vary from $100 to $500.

Monies raised by the tournament go to the Rotary International Foundation, to be used for fighting polio, and half of the money is returned for a community project.

GatorFest Cook Off – Sep. 7

Texas GATORFEST, the Lone Star State’s most unique festival, would like to invite you to participate in the Annual Texas GATORFEST Barbecue Cook-Off to kick off this year’s festival. The family oriented festival is one of the fastest growing festivals in Texas. It has established a reputation for being “good old fashioned Texas fun” and providing visitors with a variety of entertainment. The celebration of the alligator and its wetlands habitat has something for everyone!

The cook off will be held the weekend before Texas GATORFEST 2018 – September 7 & 8th, on the festival grounds in historic Fort Anahuac Park.

George Dearborne and Branded live Friday, Sep. 7 at the Texas Gatorfest BBQ Cook-off Street Dance.

Participants and visitors alike will enjoy the entertainment throughout the day on the Gator Pit stage located within the cook-off area.

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Crosby evens up last Season

Crosby 28, New Caney 14

PORTER – It may be poor revenge to steal away with the season opener, against shutting down someone’s season. But it looked sweet when the Crosby Cougars defeated the New Caney Eagles at Texan Stadium 28-14 last Friday.

So, Jaiden Howard has returned with a penchant for converting third downs personally as quarterback. His attack would net a TD on the first drive. He would go seven of thirteen for 114 yards with two touchdowns and an interception passing last Friday. He would dash 130 yards in the game.

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Wrist Band studies check exposure to toxins after Hurricane Harvey

Silicone Wristbands were worn by participants for one week, to register any toxins they were exposed to.

After Hurricane Harvey, Oregon State University’s Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology send a research team to Houston, to ascertain the threat to human health from exposure to toxins in the water, soil and air. They worked with Texas A&M, and THEA to gather the results.

Data was collected by using passive wristband samplers to determine personal chemical exposure after the flooding.

These wristbands can measure up to 1,530 different chemicals. 41 Superfund sites in Houston were affected by the hurricane, and 13 of these were flooded.

Although the study was conducted throughout the Houston area, a subset of 32 people were recruited from the Highlands area, and of these 27 returned their wristbands and had them analyzed.

Researchers looked for 1,530 chemicals found in several different chemical classes. Some chemicals are included in more than one class. For example, triclosan is found in both personal care products and is considered a pesticide. On average, each person had 28 chemicals in their wristband.

They measured chemicals at the nanogram level, which is a very small amount. However, they are still learning how much of a chemical is needed to cause a negative health effect.

Of the Highlands sample group, 119 chemicals were found across all 27 wristbands. 1411 chemicals were not detected.

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Voters Approve Flood Bond

HARRIS COUNTY – Voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 Billion dollar bond proposal, that will result in 237 projects to mitigate future flood dangers in the county.

With 98% of the votes counted, District Clerk Stan Stanart reported that the bond issue passed with 85% approval, or about 129,000 votes. Opposing the proposal were 15% of the voters who turned out, about 21,000. Votes were almost evenly split between Absentee, Early, and Election Day votes.

Election Day was August 25th, the one year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Harvey onto the Texas coast.

The bond issue includes 237 projects, $1.2 Billion for channel improvements, $12.5 Million for floodplain mapping, and $1.25 Million for an early warning system.

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Crosby ISD hears report on “spending beyond its means”

The Crosby ISD Board of Trustees presented a plaque to Dan and Jennifer Meaux of Crawfish Shack for being Recognized by the Texas Association of School Boards Business Recognition Program for Businesses that exceed standards for generosity.

CROSBY – At the Monday Board of Trustee’s meeting of Crosby ISD as promised Dr. Scott Davis, new superintendent of the district presented his findings in a report.

About 60 community members who were in attendance. The report included information on recently discovered financial issues and he stated, “The district has been spending beyond its means.”

Later during the meeting the board concerned with the safety of the children held a discussion on school safety and security measures, specifically, the hiring of three additional school resource officers. At $98,000 to $99,000 each per school year.

This reporter checked with law enforcement from throughout the area and learned that about $40,000 of that is for a deputy’s yearly salary.

Sherman Eagleton at his fundraiser on Thursday stated to this reporter that he did not know what decisions the schools were going to have to make because funds are tight but “I am going to see after the well-being of these kids, that is a priority.”

According to the school district’s officials, “Dr. Davis and new Chief Financial Officer, Lesa Jones, discovered a cash flow issue that appears to date back to the Spring of 2017. This cash flow problem resulted in the district partaking in a short-term loan and internal fund borrowing from the district’s Debt Service and Construction Funds to cover operational needs and the district’s payroll obligations. Prior to Davis’ arrival, $5.65 million had been borrowed from the Construction Fund to cover the district’s payroll obligations. When Davis arrived in late June, he had to borrow an additional $1.99 million from the Construction Fund to cover expenses for the July 15th payroll. To date, the total amount borrowed from the Construction Fund stands at $7.64 million. Davis stated that the plan is to repay the $1.99 million he had to borrow by the end of November 2018. He and Jones worked closely with the district’s bond counsel to determine if there were any qualifying expenditures made in 2017-2018 that could be subtracted from the total amount due to the Construction Fund. Approximately $2.25 million of capital expenditures have been identified as potential qualifying expenses leaving $3.4 million outstanding that the District intends to repay by December 2018.

Recovery from the financial issues is expected to take 3-5 years. While additional short-term loans, also known as Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRAN), will be required to subsidize the cash flow shortage, the plan will be to create a diminishing dependence on these loans over the next several years by implementing cost-saving measures including a 10-20% budget cut, absorbing staff positions through attrition and potentially a reduction in force, if necessary.

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