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Posts published in September 2016

School Bus wreck puts 17 in hospital

CROSBY – Bus 213 flipped on its side on Sept. 23 shortly before 2:20 p.m. on FM 1942 about 1/2 mile east of Holy Road during a driving rain.

Of the 52 students and a driver aboard, seventeen aboard went to hospitals, sixteen students and the driver.

At the scene HCESD#5, the ambulance service for Crosby’s Coordinator of Medical Services, Christy Graves made this statement, “We received a 911 call concerning a major accident with high mechanism, multiple callers. A school bus had rolled onto its side.

The students all gotten out, all safety precautions worked perfectly. We are thankful of our citizens that have supported us all the way at such incidents. All the occupants were out of the bus thanks to the efforts of neighboring good Samaritans. We are grateful because the bus was in water. Fifty two students of a possible seventy one capacity were aboard at the time of the accident. The sixteen students and the driver were stable at the time. I called in seven ambulances, two from Crosby, Channelview, Baytown, South Lake, Highlands and Huffman they were taken to East Houston Regional Hospital and Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital.”

Witnesses say the bus had swerved to avoid a collision with a car turning into a neighboring driveway. Parents were asked to wait at the Operations Center at that time.

Dr. Keith Moore said, “When I drove upon the scene and saw the bus laid over in the ditch, my heart sank. I quickly received some relief when I realized that everyone was off the bus and then informed that no life altering injuries were apparent. Once the accident occurred the actions of the students, driver, first responders, Crosby ISD staff, parents and community was simply outstanding.”

The accident is still under investigation by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Division.

“We are continuing to review the accident and the events thereafter to ensure that we are taking all steps necessary to protect our children.” concluded Dr. Moore.

EPA announces cleanup plan for San Jacinto River Waste Pits

DALLAS – Sept. 28, 2016 Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the proposed plan to address contamination at the San Jacinto waste pits Superfund site in Harris County, Texas. After careful review of all available information, EPA’s preferred remedy proposes removing a total of about 202,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the northern and southern impoundments at a cost of nearly $96.9 million.

“Based on the recommendation of EPA site managers and the on-going maintenance and repairs of the temporary cap, we are proposing to remove contaminated material and provide the community with the most protective cleanup plan for the San Jacinto waste pits site,” said regional administrator Ron Curry. “We encourage everyone to review our plan and provide us comments so we can reach the best decision to protect San Jacinto-area communities and the river itself.”

The plan will be open for public comment for 60 days, beginning Thursday, September 29, and ending Monday, November 28. EPA will also host a public meeting at the Highlands Community Center in Highlands, Texas on October 20, 2016, where members of the community will be invited to offer comment. EPA will share further details closer to the date of the public meeting. After the public comment period has ended, EPA will carefully consider and prepare a response to the comments, and announce the selection of the final remedy. EPA may select a different alternative or a modified version of the preferred remedy based on new information or public comments.

The proposed plan presents a summary of the risks associated with the hazardous substances at the site, including dioxins and furans; a summary of remedial alternatives; and the preferred remedy to address the contamination at the site. EPA has also released its administrative record, which consists of all the 800-900 documents used to support its preferred remedy.

Specifically, the preferred remedy calls for a $87 million cleanup to remove an estimated 152,000 cubic yards of materials exceeding EPA’s public health-based cleanup levels, install institutional controls, and monitor the natural recovery for the northern impoundment; and a $9.9 million cleanup to remove an additional 50,000 cubic yards of materials for offsite disposal of waste materials from the southern impoundment.

The San Jacinto waste pits site consists of impoundments dug near the San Jacinto River in the 1960s to hold toxic waste from a paper mill. EPA added the site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008, after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. EPA is the lead agency for addressing the site and cleaning up the contamination, with support from several state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More information about the proposed plan is available at https://www.epa.gov/tx/sjrwp

Public Comments can be presented at the public meeting or submitted during the public comment period from September 29, 2016, through November 28, 2016 by online form, email or USPS. Online: www.epa.gov/tx/forms/sjrwp-comments Email: R6_San_Jacinto_Waste_Pits _Comments@epa.gov.

TxDOT plans divided FM 2100, but says project is currently not funded

CROSBY – Latest word on the widening of FM 2100 from FM 1960 to South Diamondhead Boulevard is that the plans are still to divide the highway and currently, there is no funding for this project.

As survey work was being done on FM 2100 excitement was building among the community concerning the beginning of the purchase of 107 acres of right of way.

However, the project spokesperson, Danny Perez, of Texas Dept. of Transportation, indicated on Sept. 13 that for the section north of Crosby to FM 1960 “mapping is underway to ready for R.O.W. acqiusition. There is no official time table on the project as funding has not been secured. ”

When questioned on Sept. 15, concerning dividing the highway with raised medians as all but one of the speakers at the May 5 hearing were against, he said, “We believe that is best, yes.”

“No public involvement is scheduled.”

TxDOT defined the project to begin in 2017 as “The proposed project would widen FM 2100 from a two-lane undivided roadway to a four-lane divided roadway. Five-foot sidewalks would be constructed on both sides of the roadway. The purpose of the proposed project is to reduce congestion and enhance safety by accommodating traffic volumes, which are expected to increase by approximately 57 percent on this section of FM 2100 in the next 20 years. The total project length is approximately eight miles.”

The impact of the proposed divided highway is generally upon six residences, eight commercial structures, and two churches would be potentially displaced as a result of the proposed project.

Last May at the public hearing, construction was anticipated to begin in 2017. The estimated cost was $80, 000, 000 and the estimated duration of construction was to be three and a half years.

Board elected for Crosby Fair & Rodeo

CROSBY – Each year seven seven Crosby Fair & Rodeo Board Members come up for election for three years, that make 21 Fairboard members.

A director had previously stepped down and Roger Bobalik, Jr. took his post this year as a new director.

During the board Meeting after the membership meeting, the Executive Board was decided by the board members. Ricky Larkin was re-elected Chairman, Sonny Armstrong is again President. Ronny Ehrlich is First Vice President. Justin George is second Vice Persident. Secretary is Eddie Glover. Rick Loggins is again treasurer. Bill Busby is again General Manager.

Committees have yet to be appointed by the Executive Board but this will be decided at a later date.

Earlier this week the Fairground’s parking lot was bermed to allow better drainage.

Crosby Cougars return in triumph, injuries test depth of offense

CROSBY – Houston Heights Bulldogs 6-A walked into The Jungle fully looking an average six inches taller and filling their pads out more than the Cougars but the first quarter taught everybody who was dominant.

The Bulldog’s opening off-side easterly kick resulted in the Cougars taking possession on their 48 yardline.

Quarterback Mannie Netherly marshaled a 22 point first quarter before being finally injured in the opening of the second. It only took about half a minute and two downs for the Cougars to score first. Netherly screened to Terrence Wiley for 45 yards. Mannie’s second play of the game scored because he put a runner, Carlos Grace, where there were no defenders. The sprint to the goal stunned everyone following the backfield dazzle.

The Cougars’ defense was phenomenal, swiping a goal line pass, shutting down the run – playing keep away for four quarters minus one minute exactly. That’s when a Bulldog pass finally got their only score and with no extra point. That pass was very much like the interception in the third quarter, straight over the center. Plus, the Cougars snatched up four fumbles. The first fumble set up Netherly to Craig Williams on a 12 yard touchdown. However, the Bulldogs were ferocious now and it looked like they were holding the Cougars but Netherly showed why LSU pick him early. From fourth down and long yardage, Netherly sprinted 44 yards to touchdown. Cougar runners were reading the plays and taking advantage of mistakes and the Cougar defense did the same. There was four and a half minutes left in the first quarter after that scoring spree and a long time to go.

The Bulldog offense were as frustrated as the man with his new bride stuck in the hotel’s revolving doors. But, they had a defense, too, in spite of the implications of the first quarter.

“I feel good,” said Coach Jeff Riordan, “I had figured we would struggle the first quarter and a half because they really are a good team, like Manvil-very good on defense. We executed some plays early, plays we had been working on from film, that we knew we could get. Had some injuries then. Some guys stepped up and played solid. I am really excited for the team, excited for the defense. Last week too; our defense has put us in a spot to win some ballgames.”

Half the third quarter elapsed without incident when Crosby got a midfield goal.

When asked about the injuries to his first two quarterbacks Riordan said, “The thing about this team is that we have guys that can step up. Mannie went down and Jake Howard came in and then Jake went down and Alex Louis came in stepping up. We do what we have to do. It’s good to have kids that prepare so that if their number is called they are ready to go. “

Barbers Hill Eagles come to town Friday at 7:00 p.m. bringing District play after swatting Santa Fe 54-13.

GOOSE CREEK ISD: Tax Swap vote this Saturday

Voters are asked to go to the Goose Creek office on IH-10 to vote from all over the district to ratify a Penny Swap or Tax Swap to net Goose Creek Consolidated ISD more revenue on September 10.

“A Penny Swap or Tax Swap is a tax ratification election that when voted into effect raises the General Operations Tax Rate while decreasing the Debt Tax Rate by a corresponding amount.

This results in no net tax rate increase for taxpayers. If approved, it would allow GCCISD to access additional state education dollars that the school district currently does not receive.” said Superintendent Randal O’Brien in Highlands recently.

The local tax rate is $1.43 for the district, currently $1.04 M&O and $0.39 I&S currently. That’s about $1,575 per year for a $150,000 house. The change is $1.17 Maintenance and Operation and 0.26 Interest and Sinking, so no total tax rate increase. The state allows $1.50 total for a tax rate.

When nearly 1/2 of all school districts in Texas sued the state due to inadequate and inequitable state funding by the 2011 State Legislature cutting $5.4 billion from the budget, it left school districts with unfairly distributed funding.

The Texas Supreme Court decided that the law meets minimum constitutional requirements. Then they pointed out that local districts have discretion to raise state funding through the local tax ratification process.

Goose Creek CISD wants to use the money for fine arts, Math, Science and Career Technical Education Programs, library media materials and supplies, Academic Technology and transportation.

“Stuff we had to cut back on recently,” said O’Brien.

The Tax paid by individual property owners would not change. The penny swap however was said to raise an extra $7 Million for Goose Creek CISD in spite of the fact that taxes do not go up.

Spending per student in Texas ranks in the bottom third of the U.S.A. On average Texas schools spend about $9,559 per pupil compared to $12,040 national average. The spending puts Texas 38th on dollars spent per pupil in the nation. Since 1990 the State of Texas is funding prisons and jails eight times faster than spending on schools. Texas has the largest disparity of any state of schools against prison funding.

Competing Opinions stir up Waste Pits

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Dallas office released an anticipated study last week of the Alternatives to deal with the Toxic Waste Pits in the San Jacinto River.

The study report is a 237 page volume, authored by Army Corps of Engineers from their Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS. The work method outlined in the report sets out to resolve 19 “tasks” which deal with methods of remediating the Waste Pit toxins. The study investigates the previously delineated Alternatives, known as 1N through 6N, covering no further action, or various cap-in-place solutions, or partial or total removal from the site. It also adds a 6N*, an enhanced removal plan.

The advocacy group known as San Jacinto Citizens Against Pollution, with a website KEEPITCAPPED.ORG, claim that the the report justifies their position to leave the wastes where they are in the river, without removal. Their attorney, Thomas Knickerboker, categorically cites various sections of the report that say capping the site is the safest and most effective option. They also say the report points out that “Dig-and-Haul” poses risks, and that toxic chemicals could leak or be dispersed in the removal process. In the 19 tasks presented in the report, these statements are made. But the complete removal is also recommended as an alternative, if done correctly as outlined in the description.

Therefore by discussing pros and cons of all seven Alternatives, it gives each contesting party opinions and facts to support their position.

Jackie Young, director of the San Jacinto River Coalition, and THEA, two advocacy groups that favor complete removal, said “the report does not go into the problems to date with the current cap. In the five years that (the cap) has been in place, it’s experienced a wealth of problems and caused EPA to do a multitude of repairs. We know that just one big storm, one barge strike, could be devastating for Galveston Bay.”

The escalating controversy comes at a time when the EPA is preparing to announce their draft decision on how to remediate the waste pits. This is due in the next few weeks, then the public will have a 30 day comment period, and the EPA will make the final determination by the end of December, according to EPA representative Donn Walters.

In the meantime, it seems that everyone now has an opinion, and has voiced it. Congressmen Gene Green and Brian Babin have publicly called for complete removal as the only safe solution, and this was joined this week by Congressman Pete Olson. Green took to the floor of the House of Representatives last month, to urge the federal government to use the Superfund laws to hasten the removal.

The Houston Chronicle is only one of a number of publications that have called for the removal of the waste pits, but it has also been printing OP-ED pieces on both sides of the issue. In July the paper ran an opinion piece by Scott Sherman, stating that the Federal Superfund program has been ineffective, and not appropriate for the problems in the San Jacinto River. Sherman was listed as an environmental consultant, having worked for the EPA, the state TCEQ, and now at the University of Houston Law Center.

This piece was followed recently by an OP-ED piece by Jackie Young, who has been the leader in the resistance effort to allowing the waste pits to stay in place, with or without an improved cap. Young is deeply involved because her family once lived in Highlands, and suffered multiple health problems that they blame on polluted ground water, possibly from the waste pits.

The issue of polluted well water, and the health problems related to that, was recently brought to the public’s attention because the Harris County Polution Control department sampled 100 wells in Highlands, Lynchburg, and Channelview, and due to alarming results sent letters to 28 homeowners advising them not to drink their water, or to bathe or cook in it. After a retest, however, it was determined that contaminates such as dioxin and other contaminants were below the acceptable levels and the water was safe. No link was established between the wells and the waste pits in the river, it was noted, too.

Among the government voices having an educated opinion on the subject of removal, was Mike Talbott, the retiring head of the Harris County Flood Control District. Talbott’s remarks included “the highly toxic waste at the site, in this major river’s floodway, and subject to extreme force of flood flow, tides and storm suge, should not be allowed to remain there.” These remarks, calling for complete removal of the toxic wastes, follows closely the position that advocate Young has taken.

In summary, the Corps of Engineers report seems to favor leaving the waste pits in place, but rebuilding them with an improved cap, and pilings to fend off barge strikes. They also would need a number of “Institutional Controls” to assure future compliance. Their detailed mathematical analysis indicates that complete removal would release much more of the toxins into the soil, the ground, and the water. However, the report optimistically indicates that removal could be safely accomplished, if the contractor followed Best Management Practices, proceeding with techniques that would minimize releases.

Cody Memorial brings out northeast Harris County

CROSBY – The Cody Stephens Go Big Or Go Home Memorial Fundraiser last Saturday brought out some of the best in northeast Harris County in charitable people and concern for saving young lives.

Crosby Fair & Rodeo, Rotarians, Chamber of Commerce board and varied other groups had members in support of this effort to raise funds for adding an ECG with sports physicals in students across the State of Texas. In total 408 attended the event.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is the number 1 killer of our student athletes beyond accidents. Many can be found before they suffer and arrest by a simple ECG.” said Scott Stephens.

The Cody Stephens Go Big Or Go Home Memorial Fund paid to screen 8,000 students last school year and found 2% had an issue they needed to know about and 9 that were at high risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Nine young lives were found at risk that would not have been found by the question and listen method currently done by the U.I.L. mandate.

“With the money raised last Saturday the Memorial will be able to continue the expansion of this program across the State of Texas. We are still taking donations through the website codystephensfoundation.org and are a 501(c)3 organization.” continued Stephens.

The fundraiser got $71,000 in corporate sponsors, $65,000 from live auction featuring both Bill Busby and Ricky Loggins as auctioneers. The silent auction brought in $6,000. grossed about $150,000 and will net around $125,000.

“The goal is simple, ‘screen ‘em all.’” concluded Stephens.