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Posts published in June 2016

$10 million Waste Pits grants announced

HARRIS COUNTY – As part of a long-term effort to assess and mitigate environmental impacts from toxic waste pits along the San Jacinto River near I-10 east of Houston, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Harris County are awarding $10 million to provide new or expanded public recreation and access facilities along the river, plus fund environmental awareness and education efforts.

The 84th Texas Legislature appropriated $10 million to the department to be transferred to Harris County, money that came as part of a lawsuit settlement. The legislative appropriation was “for use along the San Jacinto River and in its watershed to mitigate the effects of environmental contamination and the effects of that contamination on natural resources and the public use of natural resources.”

In the mid-1960s, waste ponds were impounded next to the lower San Jacinto River to dispose of wastes from a nearby paper mill, including toxic dioxins. Since the 1970s, subsidence, erosion and storms caused the release of contaminants into the river several miles upstream from the San Jacinto Battleground. The waste ponds were designated a federal Superfund site in 2008. The Environmental Protection Agency installed a temporary cap over the ponds in 2011, and evaluation of the extent and impacts of the contamination continues.

In 2011, Harris County filed suit against the operators of the waste pits and the paper company that had generated the waste for environmental damages and reached a $29.2 million settlement with the operators. Of that sum, $10 million went to the State of Texas, and in 2015, state lawmakers appropriated those funds to TPWD to be transferred to Harris County. TPWD and county officials worked with community advocates to accept grant proposals, and held a public meeting to get input on Feb. 8 at the San Jacinto/Highlands Community Center. The result is a series of grants, including:

• City of Baytown, Parks and Recreation Department -Baytown Boat Ramps and Fishing Piers Repair and Improvements -$1,634,415 for repair of three boat ramps and one fishing pier

• Harris County Precinct 2 -Juan Seguin Park Improvements -$2,702,099 for park construction

• Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -San Jacinto Battleground Northshore Restoration -$230,000 to conduct planning and engineering for habitat restoration

• Harris County Precinct 4 -San Jacinto River Park and Boat Launch/Phase I -$4,500,000 to acquire approximately 19 acres of land on Lake Houston in multiple phases

• City of Baytown, Parks and Recreation Department -Evergreen Bluff Park Acquisition and Development -$467,000 to acquire approximately 21 acres of land

• Peter A. Cushman and Jessica Woods -From Waste Pits to Environmental Stability: Understanding, Appreciating and Educating the San Jacinto River Water Shed -$33,200 to implement a kayak-based river education program

• Texas Parks and Wildlife Department -Sheldon Lake Prairie Wetland Restoration Phase V -$308,086 for native prairie restoration

• Grafikpress Corp. -SJRWP Superfund News -$85,200 to publish and distribute special edition newspapers

• San Jacinto River Coalition -SJRC Regional Education Program -$40,000

TPWD will now transfer the $10 million to the county, and the county will begin working with successful project applicants on the transfer of funds and implementation of projects.

“Jog the Journey” helps Jamail Memorial Fund

Jog the Journey, a Challenge for Charity is an annual 80’s themed 5K/10K fun run, benefitting a different charity every year. Last Saturday benefitted the Jared Jamail Memorial Fund.

Participants dusted off 80’s gear for a rock and run cause in an 80’s themed event. The Jared Jamail Memorial Fund was established to celebrate the life of Jared Jamail by helping other students, providing scholarships to graduating Crosby High School students. Each year the Jared Jamail Memorial Find gives 5 $2,500 scholarships and one $3,000 scholarship for a total of $15,500 annually.

This year scholarships were awarded to Linda Hughes, Tristen Cotton, Riley Hoy, Cristian Torres, Reed Balcerowicz and Bailey Whitaker. The Jog was started by a group of Crosby High School graduates that are active in the community.

Last year, Jog the Journey benefitted the Wounded Warrior Program. Their website for more information and pictures of previous events is www.jogthejourney.com.

On Saturday, June 18, at 8:00 a.m. at the American Legion Hall in Crosby, TX. A costume contest was among the awards ceremony recognitions.

Albert & Sheryl Jamail had the 80’s Theme. According to Pam Johnson about $5,000 was raised by the Jog for the Memorial Foundation.

On October 15, the Annual Jared Jamail Memorial Tournament will be held at Stonebridge in the Newport Golf Facility. Visit the website www. jaredjamailscholarship.com to register.

Crosby “Toughs” present $135k to “Pink Heals”

CROSBY – At the last night of the Crosby Fair & Rodeo a measure of the contribution to the community by the Crosby Fair & Rodeo as a whole was presented as a check to the Pink Heals of the Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital.

According to Debbie Holmelin, “The Crosby Fair and Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink Committee (TETWP) has supported a fundraiser called Bras for the Cause (BFC) for the past five years.

This past February, the committee hosted another successful fundraiser that raised $135,000.

The committee would like to thank the Crosby and surrounding communities for their support of TETWP and the BFC event. The people in this community are the reason BFC is able to make such a generous donation to a very worthwhile organization!

(Pink Heals is a patient assistance fund that provides financial help to qualifying patients undergoing treatment by paying third party vendors for items such as mortgage/rent, utilites, medical equipment, prescription medications, transportation expenses, etc.)

Holmelin is the Chair of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Committee.

Highlands FD building new station

HIGHLANDS – Construction has started on a new fire station #2 for the Highlands Fire Department, according to Chief Harvey Little.

The new building is going up on the same site as the previous Station #2, which has been demolished.

The building is a one story steel frame and masonry building that will house up to 5 emergency vehicles. These include a brush truck, a tanker, an ambulance, and several pumpers.

There are also sleeping quarters for eight, so the station can be fully staffed 24 hours, according to Chief Little.

The station is being built for ESD#14, the taxing body for the fire district. It will cost approximately $2 million dollars, of which the ESD will pay part, and the rest will be financed over a 10 year period. This is similar to the financing of Station #1 on San Jacinto Street by the railroad tracks, which is now fully paid off.

The building is approximately 7500 square feet in size. It also includes a reception area for the public, a Chief’s office, a conference room, a Day Room, and an adjacent kitchen. There is also storage, mens and womens toilets and showers, laundry area, and storage as required.

Construction of the building is expected to be complete by the end of the year, and in the meantime most of the equipment that was previously housed in the old Station #2 has been moved to Station #1. A communication tower that is at the back of the site will not be moved, and continue in operation. Contractor for the building is Cox Construction of Baytown.

HD128 Recount complete – results remain unchanged

BAYTOWN – Wayne Smith, Texas State Representative, District 128, issued the following statement:

“On election night, when the unofficial results were reported, we trailed by 23 votes. I was urged by friends and supporters to seek a recount. Results that close deserved to be double-checked.

“The recount is now complete. While there was a slight change in the numbers, the results remain unchanged.

“I want to thank the voters for the opportunity to serve. It has been my distinct honor and high privilege to have served the hard working men and women of District 128. For the past 14 years, I have worked on the issues that really impact the voters most. I leave with no regrets.

“Until my term ends in January 2017, I will continue to work to fulfill my responsibilities to the District and duty to the State of Texas; I genuinely enjoy the work. While the Regular Session is over, work on Interim Charges and other Committee work continues. I will continue to work as I have for the past 14 years.”

Over 50 rescued from San Jac River flood

Emergency First Responders were busy evacuating residents last weekend, as flood waters from a week of heavy rains north of Houston rose quickly in low lying areas around the San Jacinto River and the I-10 bridge.

The Channelview Fire Department reported that they rescued 35 persons, in a borrowed airboat. Highlands Fire Department responded to multiple calls, working on both sides of the river because some departments were short of rescue boats.

Highlands recently upgraded their boat with a 50 HP motor, necessary in the rapid flow of water in the San Jacinto River.

Highlands FD worked on rescues in Banana Bend, Highlands Shores, and even Rio Villa on the west bank. As of Tuesday, waters had crested and the calls were subsiding, chief Harvey Little reported.

Other flood damages included closing part of the Houston Ship Channel on Sunday. The Lynchburg Ferry has not run for three days, and may not resume for several more. About 12 barges in the area around the I-10 bridge were floating loose, and Kirby Inland Marine worked to resecure them.

Portions of Market Street that run to the Southwest Shipyard were washed away, and emergency repairs by the county were underway on Tuesday.

Richard Austin, District chief of the Channelview Fire Department issued the following statement:

“The 3 photos are from a high water rescue CFD made today 5/30/2016. We were able to evacuate 35 people from the San Jacinto river bottom near I-10 thanks to the volunteer help of a Non-Profit organization called Houston Area Off-Road recovery. They provided an Airboat and 2 Jet Skis to assist us in our efforts. No one required Ambulance transport and all residents were removed from harm’s way without any incident.