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Posts published in “Day: February 10, 2011”

Explosions, fire rock Mont Belvieu plant

By BOBBY HORN JR.
MONT BELVIEU—Officials at Enterprise Products Partners LP’s facility in Mont Belvieu are attempting to assess the damage after multiple explosions rocked the plant Tuesday afternoon.
Company spokesman Rick Rainey said the fire started around 12:15 p.m. in the west storage facility. Witnesses at the plant said some pickup trucks in the parking lot exploded from the heat.
As of Tuesday night, Rainey said that one contractor was still missing. No other injuries were reported. The roadway of FM 1942 was closed and all access to the plant by the public.
Witnesses as far away as Crosby reported hearing the sound of the explosion.
Enterprise Products operates a natural gas liquids fractionators, propylene fractionators, butane isomerization units, octane enhancers and import/export terminals at the facility.

City officials said that they did not order a shelter in place, and they did not believe there was a public hazard. State Highway 146, which is adjacent to the facility, was closed in both directions while fire crews battled the blaze.
“The partnership’s main facilities at Mont Belvieu were not damaged and remain operation,” Rainey said. “Enterprise will provide a further update once the impact of the fire has been more fully assessed.”
Rainey said that for the time being they will let the fire burn itself out. He added that it was too early speculate on the cause of the fire.
A witness who was about 50 feet from the fire’s ignition source said he believed two men were welding on a pipeline when the fire started. One man stated he got away when a popping noise started and he did not know what happened to the other worker.
Barbers Hill ISD Spokesperson Dr. Gayle Woodall said that they allowed parents to pickup their children. Students were also kept inside building and not allowed outside for recess, she said. The high school also released students at 1:30 p.m. The Barbers Hill school complex is between seven and eight miles from the facility.

Crosby meeting Feb. 17 to discuss FM 2100, Overpass

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
CROSBY – The local school superintendant announced a meeting concerning local roadways to be held at the high school gymnasium on February 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Dr. Keith Moore said “We are going to have a public meeting with Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) and Representative Dan Huberty in regards to FM 2100 and to discuss the bridge. Our main concern is the safety of FM 2100. I would like to ask local residents not to leave these matters in the hands of someone else even though they work hard and at the end of the day may be tempted to let someone else speak for them. I think we need for them to show up and show that we are concerned, not to scream and holler but show that it is a concern for the entire community.”
Rep. Dan Huberty, R. District 127 stated, “Our hope is to get it [widening of FM 2100] funded.

In the mean time it’s all about funding. Like getting those traffic lights up at Spanish Cove and Stroker Rd. It’s all about buying the rights of way and get the project let. We’re having this symposium to talk about what we can do now and the future.”
Huberty indicates that with the completion of US 90 to IH-10 and IH-610 there is more urgency to communicate with the community about roadway changes and traffic flow.
According to Captain Jack Hagee of Ken Jones’ Pct. 3 Constable’s Office, in the month of January 589 citations have been written by his traffic patrol division on FM 2100. On Feb. 5 the patrol wrote 24 tickets and on Superbowl Sunday they wrote 21 tickets.
TXDoT officials recently announced that the project to build an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on FM 2100 is currently being worked on by utilities but that construction is to begin in March. Indications from engineers is that the first move is to build a service road of one lane of traffic to go over the railroad tracks on both sides. Then plans are to begin working on the Overpass on the extant roadway. The project let in July but the contractor will not begin until the utilities have come into compliance. The contractor has not yet determined where construction will begin. TXDoT officials have promised to inform the commuity of closings of roadways and side streets once the project has begun.
Congressman Ted Poe, R., U.S. House District 2, said of FM 2100, “FM 2100 is long overdue. It has been on my wish list for a long time.”
Congressman Gene Green, D., U.S House District 29, indicates where the funding crunch for highways began, “On the State level the gas tax is the same since 1990 on the Federal level since 1993, the cost of construction has gone up….Funding transportation to keep up with our growth is a crisis on the state and federal level much less any plan for our future so it is something the state legislature and congress has to deal with. No one wants to increase taxes but now the gas tax is about 5 or 6¢ per gallon as it was back then but we tried to pass a percentage on the gas price of 5 or 6% so that with inflation the funding would be available to build the roadways that we need for safety and mobility. That is hindsight but the ear marks for funding for highways now is nothing compaired to the current need.
The Crosby High School Gymnasium is inside the Commons of the main building.

36th Chili Feast: Hotchkiss wins new car at Annual Rotary Event

HIGHLANDS– Chester Stasney not only is a good Chili cook, he is followed by good luck. He sold two winning tickets in the 36th annual Rotary Club Chili Feast, including the grand prize winner of the new 2011 Chevy Camaro car.
Chester sold the winning 1st ticket drawn, and also the 600th ticket drawn, which had been purchased by Terri Hotchkiss of Baytown. Terri and her family were thrilled to get the phone call that they had won, but like many prize winners in the past, had a hard time believeing that it was true.

Chester said this was a common feeling, He should know, he has sold several winning tickets before, and probably will be sought out in the future by those who want some of his luck to rub off on them.
Good weather and an improving economy brought out almost a thousand people, a larger than usual crowd to last Saturday’s Chili Feast.
Chairwoman Denise Smith said that with the live and silent auctions, this will probably be the best year for the fund raiser. She pointed out that the monies raised are used by the Rotary Club for community events, scholarships and many safety projects locally. Last year the club was able through this event to return over $50,000 to the community, making everyone a winner.
Club members were assisted by the GC Memorial and Chinquapin Interact club members.

Fire, explosions rock Enterprise

By BOBBY HORN JR.
MONT BELVIEU—Officials at Enterprise Products Partners LP’s facility in Mont Belvieu are attempting to assess the damage after multiple explosions rocked the plant Tuesday afternoon.
Company spokesman Rick Rainey said the fire started around 12:15 p.m. in the west storage facility. Witnesses at the plant said some pickup trucks in the parking lot exploded from the heat.
As of Tuesday night, Rainey said that one contractor was still missing. No other injuries were reported.
Witnesses as far away as Crosby reported hearing the sound of the explosion.

Enterprise Products operates a natural gas liquids fractionators, propylene fractionators, butane isomerization units, octane enhancers and import/export terminals at the facility.
City officials said that they did not order a shelter in place, and they did not believe there was a public hazard. State Highway 146, which is adjacent to the facility, was closed in both directions while fire crews battled the blaze.
The Mont Belvieu Police Department said the highway was closed between eight and nine hours, reopening late Tuesday night.
“The partnership’s main facilities at Mont Belvieu were not damaged and remain operation,” Rainey said. “Enterprise will provide a further update once the impact of the fire has been more fully assessed.”
He added that it was too early speculate on the cause of the fire. A witness who was about 50 feet from the fire’s ignition source said he believed the missing person was working on a pipeline when the fire started.
Barbers Hill ISD Spokesperson Dr. Gayle Woodall said that they allowed parents to pickup their children. Students were also kept inside building and not allowed outside for recess, she said. The high school also released students at 1:30 p.m. The Barbers Hill school complex is between seven and eight miles from the facility.

Historical commission recognizes 1940’s dance hall

BY PUDGE WILLCOX
In recognition of Black History Month, the Chambers County Historical Commission placed their Old House Recognition Sign in front of the Double Bayou Dance Hall located on Eagle Ferry Road in Double Bayou.
An enthusiastic group of dance hall supporters braved near freezing temperatures to assist several members of the Historical Commission in a short ceremony to recognize the old historical building.

The dance hall was opened in the 1940’s and for many years, it was operated by Manuel “Tanzy” Rivers. Mr. Rivers’ widow, Martha was on hand and shared stories of how her nephew blues guitarist Pete Mayes started his musical career at the dance hall.
Olga Jackson, lifelong resident of Double Bayou, told how boats would come up Double Bayou bringing visitors to the dance hall. She said that the Junteenth Celebrations often lasted for three days but they always ended in time for Sunday School and Church.
In the later years, the dance hall became famous because of the jazz concerts that were conducted by Pete Mayes and his band. Bert Lewis, a cousin to Pete Mayes and a member of the band, told stories of their travels in all 50 states of the U.S.
The band played concerts in the dance hall on Christmas and New Years, drawing huge crowds from the Houston vicinity.
Kenneth and Donnie Standley, both lifelong residents of Double Bayou, shared stories of how they had gone to the dance hall as youngsters. Donnie commented that his first date with his wife Donna was to attend a Pete Mayes concert in the dance hall.
Although the dance hall is now in a state of deterioration, a movement is underway by the Historical Commission and other interested parties to restore the dance hall as another tourist destination to Chambers County. Steve Sucher, a member of the Jazz Association, once organized tours from Houston to attend Pete Mayes Concerts in the dance hall.
He attended the ceremony and offered support and encouragement for the restoration project. Pete Mayes’ son Michael thanked the Commission and all in attendance for initiating a project to restore the dance hall and honor the remembrance of his father.
The Commission welcomes any information that is available regarding Pete Mayes or the Double Bayou Dance Hall for display in the Chambers County Historical Museum.

More projects planned for Hwy. 99

By BOBBY HORN JR.
CHAMBERS COUNTY– Since Hwy. 99 opened, the citizens of Beach City have been forced to contend with a dangerous intersection with no deceleration/turn lane turning east onto Fisher Road from Hwy 99.
Beach City Mayor Billy Combs said that the city council and many of the citizens have been trying for a long time to get the Texas Department of Transportation to correct this and install a deceleration/turn lane.
Thier efforts may have paid off.
Cory Taylor, an engineer with TxDOT in Liberty, said that the project has been submitted to the Houston-Galveston Area Council.
The $150,000 project would involve installing a deceleration lane for those turning right onto Fisher Road from the northbound side. The timeline for the project, Taylor said, has not been set.

“I want to thank City Council and all of you that fought so long and never gave up on getting this done,” Combs said. “I want to give a special thanks to Commissioner Senac, Chambers County Engineer Don Brandon, TX-Dot Area Engineer Cory Taylor and TX-Dot District Engineer Randy Redmond for their roles in getting this project approved. Without the help and cooperation of these individuals this project would not have been approved. Please join me in expressing our gratitude to them, especially our local officials and staff.”

Tolls in near future?
TxDOT says that Hwy. 99 could become a toll road as soon as this Spring.
Taylor said that TxDOT has taken over the road from the Harris County Toll Road Authority. They are now in the process of taking down the county’s cameras and installing their own cameras.
Once activated (current estimate is April or May) automated tolls will be recorded. Drivers will then need to have either a TxTag, EZ Tag (available in Harris County) or any of the other toll tags issued in Texas such as ZipPass or TollTag.