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Posts published in April 2015

Little League recovers after copper wire theft

HIGHLANDS – Let the games begin! The Highlands Little League is back playing a full schedule, after restoring the lighting at two of their four baseball fields on E. Canal Street.

Last month, thieves that don’t seem to care about young athletes, stole about 2500 feet of copper wiring that ran to the lights at the field.

At the time, the Little League organization thought they might not be able to play all their games, which usually take place in the evenings, often after dark.

But the community stepped in and through donations of money, goods, and services, was able to restore lighting to the two fields. LL President Jeremy Reznicek had estimated that the loss was over $10,000, but to restore power a donation of new wire worth $2100 was made, and RUS Industrial in Channelview hooked up the lights at no cost.

According to LL parent Chrissa Cotten Teel, games are continuing on a regular schedule now, thanks to a lot of folks that helped and cared about the kids that play baseball. She said that the League does not get any outside funding or county help, only their fundraising activities, and donations of money and volunteers to run the games. She emphasized that the league could continue to use help, but thanked the community for their support.

Authorities are expected to watch the fields at Kaminski Park to discourage any further thefts or vandalism.

Constable Ken Jones told the Star-Courier that theft of wiring was also reported at the County softball field on Wallisville Road. In addition, a number of truck thefts have been reported recently in Highlands, and the Constable’s office is patroling more intensively. Anyone with information is asked to call his office, at 281-427-4791.

Veterans honored at Crosby Cougar Baseball

The Crosby Cougar Varsity Baseball Team clinched a spot in the 2015 playoffs, 18-6 overall and 11-3 in District Play, two games remaining to determine seed, one was played Tuesday night after press time. They defeated New Caney April 24 by 7-0.

Sean Bergeron pitched 5 innings of shut out baseball. Sean gave up only 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, with 8K’s and went 2-4 on the night at the plate. Austin Hearn and Richard Martinez also came in to get some work and pitched a shut out inning a piece. Offensively, Charley Harber went 2-3, Alec Lewis went 2-3 with a double, Mario Sequera had a double, Tristan Meinen went 1-1, Trevor Larkin was 1-2, and Richard Martinez came through with a homerun and a couple RBI’s. Jonathan Duran has been promoted to the Assistant to the Assistant Coach!

Hunter Hearn, Charley Harber, and Jackson Godoy all earned class ranking in the top 10% for the Class of 2015.

TxDOT displays plans for widening FM 2100

NEWPORT – About 800 of the over 27,000 people living in the Crosby area attended an April 16 public meeting about the proposed widening of FM 2100 from FM 1960 to South Diamondhead Blvd.

The proposed is a $79.3 M. cost of construction to begin this Summer and last 3.5 years to make the current two opposing lanes into two travel lanes in both directions with a raised median and two five foot sidewalks on both sides throughout the eight miles in Crosby and Huffman School Districts.

According to Texas Department of Transportation, TXDoT, the proposed improvements would need 107 acres of additional right-of-way, including right of way for storm water detention pond construction. Six residences, eight commercial structures and two churches would be potentially be displaced as a result of the proposed project.

During the meetings many would make comments such as; “Why are they doing this?” “What took so long for them to get started?” and “I was told there was no way they were ever going to be able to widen this, what happened?”

A series of fatal accidents, planned development north of Humble, planned development near Mont Belvieu, planned development near the Baytown area, the coming of the Grand Parkway, plans for the Houston Ship Channel to become a significant port to service the Panama Canal begin to answer the first and third questions. The second has much to do with $79.3 M. while billions of roadway dollars construction is ongoing in the west side of the county. Although oil prices took a slide, demand for homes has not abated.

Another factor is that local Republicans have heard the call from business throughout Texas for better ways to get where business and employees need to go.

“I have been working for over a year with TxDOT toward solutions for FM 2100 and have had conversations with the H-GAC to move the project higher on its priority list,” Representative Wayne Smith said. “I am very proud of the support and participation by Commissioner Morman as that support has been monumental to help us move forward on this shared goal for the benefit of our local community and citizens.”

TXDoT says, “The purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion and enhance safety by accomodating traffic volmes, which are expected to increase by approximately 57% on this section of FM 2100 in the next 20 years. The project would increase capacity on main lanes and enhance mobility to accomodate local and regional population growth, and decrease the risk of crashes caused by cross-over traffic.”

TXDoT is still taking comments until April 30 and will post them on their website. Write to them at TXDOT Houston Office, 7600 Washington Ave., Houston, Texas 77007 or e-mail hou-piowebmail@txdot.gov and the project website is http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/get-involved/about/hearings-meetings/houston/041615.html.

County Attorney appeals court rulings in Waste Pits Case

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan today appealed trial court rulings in the case involving the contamination of the San Jacinto River.

County Attorney Ryan filed a Notice of Appeal in the case of Harris County and the State of Texas v. International Paper.

The case involves the contamination of the river by International Paper’s predecessor Champion Paper in the 1960s, when Champion’s Pasadena Mill disposed of dioxin-laced paper mill waste in pits dug on the river bank. The waste leaked into the river for more than four decades, where it has contaminated the water, the sediment and the fish.

The case was tried in October 2014, with a group of companies settling with Harris County and the State for $29.2 million before the jury returned its verdict.

The County is appealing on the grounds that the jury was not permitted to hear key evidence from experts and witnesses who live and work near the river. The trial court excluded reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Department of State Health Services about International Paper’s pollution of the San Jacinto River and endangerment of the people of Harris County with dioxin exposure. Harris County is also appealing the trial court’s instructions to the jury that took many of the factual issues out of the jury’s hands.

“Because of the numerous rulings at trial, Harris County did not get to present its case to the jury,” County Attorney Ryan said. “We respectfully disagree with those rulings, and will be appealing on behalf of the people of Harris County.”

Among other findings, the court ruled as a matter of law that once the waste was pumped into the pits, it was no longer Champion’s waste despite the fact that the company hired to dispose of the waste also disclaimed ownership of the waste as well. The court also held the jury could not hear evidence that Champion had done the same with another site in Texas.

“Under that theory, any polluter could escape punishment by giving waste away, and they would no longer be responsible for it,” Ryan said.

On April 6 the trial court overruled Harris County’s Motion for New Trial, clearing the way for the appeal.

Vince Ryan will ask the Harris County Commissioners Court to use the funds from the $29.2 million settlement for environmental projects that will benefit the people of Harris County who were most affected by the contamination.

Stephens EKG bill passed in Texas House

AUSTIN– Nearly three years since Cody Stephens died of sudden cardiac arrest the Texas House approved HB 767. Cody wore number 76 for the Cougars, but did not have a heart screen done prior to practicing to play for Tarleton State University.

Chairmen Wayne Smith, Dan Huberty, and Sylvester Turner, enabled passage of HB767 on the third reading last Tuesday, the vote went 60 to 40.x The day before it had tentatively passed 86 to 57. It was a bi-partisan effort to pass as some Republicans in the House are against any new regulations.

“This is not about somebody making a decision for the school board.” said Scott Stephens, explaining that the bill is really moving the tests performed on potential athletes into the 21st Century.

“The bill would not go into effect until the next school year, 2016-2017,” Stephens said, “that gives the U.I.L. a year to get ready.”

The bill puts the non-invasive electrocardiogram test of heart electrical activity as part of the regular check-up done on high school kids. The bill now allows parents to opt out of having the test done on their child “for any reason.”

The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee and members of the committee stood and applauded the decision. According to Stephens, “We are heading to the Senate Education Committee now and talking to all 12 members. We have more momentum and groups backing us now.”

According to Republican Dan Huberty on the house floor with the newly designed, tested and implemented EKG test “can be done for $15 per child.”

According to Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Crosby and Baytown, “If we can save one kid’s life, it is worth it.”

Fortunately, sudden cardiac arrest is rare, of those screened by the Cody Stephens Memorial Go Big or Go Home Foundation only 15 were found to have conditions that required further testing and two were told outright not to play school sports.

Representative David Courreges expressed, “Congratulations to Scott and Melody Stephens, Bart Koontz and every parent and family that has had to endure the devastation of loosing s child to a detectible heart defect. ”

The senate version was written by “Chuy” Hinojosa D- District 20.

Crosby student fatally struck while cycling to school

CROSBY, Texas – The Crosby community is mourning the death of a teenager killed on his way to school on Highway 90.

According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the thirteen-year-old boy, a student at Crosby Middle School, was struck and killed by a motorist while crossing Highway 90 on his bicycle last Friday morning, April 10.

The accident happened around 6:00 a.m. near the highway intersection with Bohemian Hall Road.

Deputies said the boy was hit by several cars. The driver who first hit the boy did not stop, then another driver hit the bicycle and stopped to call police, deputies said. The first driver, returned later to the scene to talk to investigators, deputies said. He was detained but is unknown if any charges will be filed.

The boy was transported by helicopter to Memorial Herman Hospital where he was pronouced dead.

The boy’s name has not been released; according to the boy’s friends, he regularly biked to school.

Counselors at Crosby Middle School helped students deal with the tragedy and condolences have been offered on the school’s district Facebook page.

Todd Hicks, Crosby Middle School principal posted the following statement on facebook:

“It is with a heavy heart that I reach out to you today. CMS is grieving after receiving tragic news this morning that a Crosby Middle School student was involved in a fatal bicycle-auto traffic accident on Highway 90 in Crosby. The student was transported by ambulance to the hospital where his guardian met with emergency response officials to discuss the situation. Because of the student’s age,and with respect to his parents, his name is being withheld at this time. Students and teachers at CMS are currently being made aware of the situation and grief counselors are on site to support students and staff members. Please keep this family in your players during this very painful time.”

In a community like Crosby, where almost everybody knows everybody and ties are close, something like this “resonates very quickly with a lot of people in Crosby,” said Dr. Keith Moore, Crosby ISD Superintendent.

The area where the accident occured on Highway 90 is a busy road, with no street lights, reports said.

New Waste Pits study calls for removal

HIGHLANDS – About 60 interested residents of the Highlands and Channelview are attended a briefing last Wednesday evening, held at the San Jacinto Community Center in Highlands.

The meeting was hosted by Jackie Young, environmental activist with the San Jacinto River Coalition, and TexansTogether.

Young had contracted with an instructor of hers, Dr. Kathleen Garland, to prepare a report on EPA guidelines for dealing with toxic waste sites, as applied to other locations around the United States.

Garland teaches at the University of Houston Clear Lake, and is a Geologist and Environmental Management Expert.

Garland worked from existing data, on how the federal EPA had dealt with other toxic Superfund sites similar to the San Jacinto Waste Pits. Young’s hypothesis is that if the cases are similar, and EPA has required removal of toxic materials, then they should call for a similar solution in the San Jacinto River, therefore treating this in a similar method as others.

Young said that a final decision will be made by the EPA this spring, since the National Remedy Review Board is meeting in April, and announced in a Final Report in September 2015.

This approaching deadline has caused Young to increase her public push for citizens to be involved and concerned, as evidenced by articles recently published in the Texas Monthly magazine and the Houston Chronicle telling of her campaign to fully remove the toxic materials from the river. She said that in addition to the EPA determination of remedial action, there are also two lawsuits pending against the ‘Responsible Parties’ to recover monetary damages for health injuries and property devaluation. One suit, led by attorneys Smith & Hassler, has engaged over 170 per sons who they plan to represent in court.

Young said that one of the key issues is whether the DSHS, or Texas Department of Health Services, would conduct a health study of sickness in the area. DSHS said they are preparing a “Cancer Cluster” study from existing statistics, but do not plan an on-site survey of health. Young said this is not satisfactory, because it is not specific enough, nor focused on a small enough geographic area. The data covers everything from Baytown to Humble.

Garland Report

The study made by Dr. Garland identified seven sites in the U. S. similar in toxins and geography to the SJR Waste Pits.

They needed to have similar contaminants or COCs such as dioxins and furans; they had to be a tidal basin site; sediments had to extend to a river bottom; and seafood consumption was a factor, with signage advisories.

Garland studied over 400 sites, to find 7 that met the criteria. She found that in all these sites, if the dioxins were highly concentrated, i.e. above 1 part per billion, the EPA chose to fully remove the material. For lower levels, they would accept a permanent cap, often a concrete block mat.

Garland’s conclusion is that this solution must be followed, to be consistent with the EPA’s own National Contingency Plan, i.e. full removal of the highest concentrations, and cap over lower dangers.

The audience contributed questions and their own experience, after the presentation.

One woman said that her medical bills were $3000/month and she felt that her health was affected by the waste pits.

Another said her son had attended San Jacinto Christian Academy in Lynchburg, which drew well water near the river, and that he had developed non-hodgkins lymphomia while he attended. Later, this ceased when he was not at the school.

Pam Banta said that one goal of the Coalition is to recover some money from the Harris County lawsuit for a mobile screening van to test residents health, and also to provide piped city water to homes that are now on wells that are possibly contaminated. The suit recovered $29.2 million.

Jet Ski accident at Banana Bend results in death of 21yr old man

HIGHLANDS – A jet ski accident involving 5 friends, took the life of a 21 year old man last Sunday afternoon at Banana Bend Beach.

According to Capt. Don Stanton of the Sheriff’s Marine Division, two young men on a jet ski were towing an inner tube with two others on it.

A second jet ski, driven by a friend of theirs, followed but lost control and ran into the tube. The result was that the two men on the tube were thrown into the water. One resurfaced, but the other lost his life vest, and did not.

Emergency personnel were called about 11:50 on Sunday morning, and after an extensive search by two patrol boats, the body surfaced and was recovered about 1:24 according to Stanton.

Witnesses said that the boy that survived received CPR at the site, but did not require transport to a hospital.

The victim is a 21 year old Hispanic male, but his name has not been released.

Standing by to aid in the recovery were the Highlands EMS and Fire Department, and ESD#5 EMS from Crosby.

The deputy said that preliminary investigation indicated that the driver of the second Jet Ski was not familiar with its operation, contributing to the accident. Other factors such as alcohol are being investigated.

No charges have been filed in the accident, Stanton said.

Huffman middle school coaches recognized

Huffman Middle School Boys Coaching staff are being recognised for their outstanding performance this year. They will be awarded the 4A and under “Junior High Coaching Staff of the Year” by the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association (GHFCA) on May 6th at the University of Houston.The coaching staff includes: Jerry Bradford, Chad Merchant, Earnest Pena, Chaston Pruitt, Bryan Moore, & Alex Alvarez.

According to Coach Jerry Bradford, “Well, I think Coach Mac deserves most of the credit because he nominated us and what he said about us got us this honor. It was he that had us work with the varsity and after with the junior high. We are all really close, we just went to the Rockets’ game together the other night. There is a family atmosphere in this group thanks to Coach Mac.”

ATV wreck near US 90, Saturday injures 11 year old

CROSBY – An eleven year old was riding his ATV Saturday at about 3:40 p.m. near Down South Off-Road when a car pulled in front of him.

The driver swerved to miss the car but the resulting accident apparently caused some trauma to they young driver’s chest.

After Gulf Pump Road was closed and rescue squads responded again this week, it was deterined that no rescue was needed.

Drivers on the Beaumont Highway and vicinity need to be aware of the RackRock & Concert from April 17 until April 19.

Crawfish Fest nets Rodeo’s largest Spring Auction

CROSBY – Certainly a lot of records were smashed for the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Spring Dance that added a lot of spice with Crawfish Shack’s famous fair, vending by the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce and renowned and soon to be renowned live music performers.

The auction at the First Annual Rockin’ C Crawfish Festival brought $27,150 and that did not count the silent auction. Bill Busby called the auction and cited it as the most raised.

Generally, the Rockin’ C Arena was about half full the entire venue that began at 3:00 p.m. and continued until Sunday wee hours.

The original band was the Kingpins with a varied style that went throughout the wide field of Louisiana style.

The big delight of the night was the crawfish and then extra special was Uptown Drive. The story goes that Rick Loggins, Ricky Larkin and Shane Welch had been to Luckenbach, Texas looking for acts to play the rodeo and Spring Dance. The story continues that somewhat frustrated the troop had stopped on their way back in Fredricksburg at a show and beverage location. While they were there a band came on playing everybody’s favorite in all the popular music genres save Bob Wills’ style. According to Shane Welch their boots were knocked off their feet.

Shane indicated he said to the other two, “You had better book them now.”

Everybody got along and the act came to find a new fan base in Crosby.

Uptown Drive out of Austin played, “Chain of Fools” so much like the original version this reporter was unsure if it was the most clear radio ever or live until walking near to discover it was being played by the performers on stage. The group played for hours without a drop in the vibrant energy or waiver in tonal quality.

The crowd thronged next to the center of the Rockin’ C to begin the live auction where seating had been placed for one of the largest crowds to attend the auction.

At the close of the night – Johnny Lee was “a little hoarse” but played on with the lively “Urban Cowboy Band” that could pick about any country lick including like Mickey Gilley.

There was something for anyone this year and the next promises to be even more of a thrill.