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Posts published in October 2016

San Jacinto River Waste Pits Community tells EPA: Remove the Toxins

400 attendees include Congressman, County Attorney, Opponents

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – A packed house of residents and government officials met last Thursday night at the Highlands Community Center for an update from the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) on plans to remove the toxic waste from the storage pits in the San Jacinto River.

The EPA also wanted to hear comments from the audience on their opinions about the Proposed Plan for removal. The meeting lasted 2 1/2 hours, with Gary Miller of the EPA making a slide presentation, followed by about 35 local residents and interested parties expressing their positions on the plan.

The meeting opened with remarks from Congressman Gene Green, who was instrumental in getting the waste pits put on the federal Superfund Priority List in 2008. He said dioxin is in the sediment, and needs complete removal. He was concerned about barges that might strike the pits and release the dioxins.

Harris County attorney Vince Ryan, who successfully sues the Responsible Parties and received $30 million for remediation, spoke about the black oozing dioxins evident when he walked on the site. He said “If capped, the poison will be their for 700 years. A permanent capped could be breached by a hurricane.”

Statements were also read into the record from EPA District 6 Director Ron Curry and a written statement from Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman, who called “Removal the only solution that will protect the public long-term.”

Gary Miller of EPA reviewed the history of the Waste Pits site, since its start in the 1960s, and its rediscovery forty years later. He detailed how the proposed plan called for a 19 month removal of 152,000 cubic yards of material on the north impoiundment, and the backfill with 2 feet of clean soil. On the south impoundment, 50,000 cubic yards will be removed, and a building removed and replaced.

Regarding the 6 plans outlined in the Corps of Engineers study, he said “None of them are reliable for All Storm Events” except the final 6A which EPA adopted. He detailed the problems that have continually plagued the current cap, and the needed constant repairs and monitoring.

Miller revealed that even this month, a new “scour” or erosion 8 feet deep had been discovered in the river bed along the East side of the cap.

He said that the proposed solution will be safe, with sheet piling retaining the wastes, monitoring during the work, and contingency plans in case of storms or floods.

He also revealed a disappointing schedule for the balance of the work. A Record of Decision (final) will be made early in 2017, then 1 year of negotiation with the PRPs, 2 years of design and engineering, and finally the removal work would commence in 2020 and continue for 19 months.

The EPA is now soliciting comments from the public, until November 28th. They may be submitted in writing to the Remedial Project Manager, US EPA Region 6, 1445 Ross Ave. (6SF-RA), Dallas TX 75202, or by email to R6_San_Jacinto_Waste_ Pits_Comments @epa.gov.

Many comments were received at the meeting, including residents from Highlands, Lynchburg, and Channelview. Only a few or the 400 present opposed the complete removal. Many of the speakers expressed personal stories of poor health resuting from the environment.

Speaking in favor of removal were Baytown City Manager Rick Davis, John Banks, Pam Bonta, Alma Pennington, Linda Barnes, Anna Holt, Josephine Tittsworth, Scott Jones of the Galveston Bay Foundation, Kathlene Garland of U. of H. Clear Lake, Brant Manchen of the Sierra Club, Sam Slade, Deborah Rothers, Pamela Marr of Channelview, Eddie Williams, Jim Silverstein of Lee College, Bud Hall, Melannie Scruggs, James Frederick of McNair, Kathy Dubler, and many others.

EPA deputy director Sam Coleman ended the meeting, promising to read and respond to all comments that were made.

EPA to hold Waste Pits Meeting Thursday Public comments sought

HIGHLANDS – After 8 years of posting on the National Priorities List of Superfund sites, the EPA will finally announce the details of their Proposed Plan for dealing with the toxic wastes in the storage pits in the San Jacinto River.

Officials from the Dallas office of the EPA, or federal Environmental Protection Agency, will be on hand at a meeting on Thursday evening, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Highlands Community Center building.

The press announcement released last month stated that they had determined that all toxic waste, which is deadly diozins and furans, should be removed from the north and south impoundments which straddle the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River.

The Superfund Process is a slow and methodical step by step regulations that end up with a “Record of Decision” which will be announced by the EPA at the end of December. Theoretically this will end the study process, and allow negotiations and removal work to proceed.

However, We are now entering a 60 day public comment period, which will end on November 28. The public is urged to express their views on the problem and the proposed solution, at this meeting or directly to the EPA on their website or by email. Each comment will be answered, according to EPA, and entered into the public record. It is possible, but not likely, that the Proposed Plan could change after this process.

PROPONENTS & OPPONENTS CONTINUE DISAGREEMENTS

Jackie Young, the most vocal of the proponents that want the toxic wastes removed, has called for the public to attend this meeting, and then submit their comments or opinions supporting the complete removal. Young claims that opponents have been circulating false and misleading information regarding the clean-up process.

Young stated that “I look forward to the EPA clearing up misinformation regarding the Pits and the ability for the clean-up to be safely executed.”

The EPA said that Thursday’s meeting is “to inform residents of the proposed cleanup strategy and obtain comments on the Proposed Plan and EPA’s preferred remedy.

If you are unable to attend, or do not submit comments at the meeting, you can still send your opinion to the EPA before November 28.

The Online address is:

www.epa.gov/tx/forms/sjrwp-comments

The email address is:

R6_San_Jacinto_Waste_ Pits_Comments@epa.gov.

A group of opponents to the clean-up, known as San Jacinto Citizens Against Pollution, with the website keepitcapped.com have just issued another position paper, from an environmental expert. Dr. Tim Barber, who works for the Environmental Resource Management firm, a private consulting company, has stated in a press release that “perhaps the most significant issue associated with dredging’s potential effectiveness is the extent of residual contamination following dreding. No dredging operation can remove every particle of contaminated sediment, and field results to date for completed environmental dredging projects suggest that post-dredging residual levels, expressed as contaminant concentration in surface sediments, have often been greater than the cleanup levels.

Highlands welcomes Marine back from the War on Terror

HIGHLANDS–From Camp Pendelton in California Drew Greer was looking forward to a relaxing homecoming to his Grace Lane residence, but his family and community had another idea, a welcome worthy of the dedication and service he had completed as a Marine.

His father, Stebo Greer, related how Drew had worked as the Chick-Fil-A cow mascot before putting on his Marine uniform. “Highlands has been very supportive of my family. I would like to thank them for turning out to welcome home my son and I hope that this will be a start of many more welcome homes for our service people.”

As he rounded the corner of Main St. to Wallisville out to Highlands Elementary, where he had attended as a pupil, he first saw a man pointing a camera at him and asked his brother and mother, Dr. Kim Rawlinson, “What is he taking pictures of out here?”

Then to his notable shock he saw a double line of flags backed by Highlands Volunteer Fire Dept. trucks with a team of motorcycles in the lead and ahead of that Miss Highlands and Highlands Junior Miss holding a banner that saying “Welcome Home.”

After being joined by the Chick-Fil-A Cow in his mother’s convertible a procession went north to his residence where more ceremonies commenced.

Initially, old stories of Drew before his service were told to rib him and show their notice. The kids bestowed small cows to him from Chick-Fil-A as an honoring. Some of his experiences during the service were relayed, he learned to cook an iguana lizard for example.

Drew’s response to the events are, “I thought it was awesome, I was fully surprised. It was amazing. It meant a lot to me to have all these people come out. My brother took me out to eat breakfast and play a little pool and then said I said are we going home, he said, ‘Naugh come on we need to go somewhere else.’”

Corky Hamilton Senior Ride Captain of the Southeast Texas Patriot Guard Riders said, “Anytime someone has a son or daughter come back from the military all they have to do is contact the Southeast Texas PGR or Corky Hamilton, we do all the work all they have to do is show up.”

The number for the Hamilton’s is (832) 385-3070.

Anna Keyes named Miss Highlands 2016 Jr. Miss Highlands is Hannah Lee

HIGHLANDS – The Highlands Horizons club held their 24th annual Miss Highlands pageant last Saturday night at the Highlands Middle School. Earlier in the day they held the Jr. Miss pageant at the same location.

Emcee for the program was Baytown assistant police chief David Alford.

The theme this year was a Western motif, with a tribute to the Lone Star State. Both pageants included an opening number, contestant introductions, casualwear modeling, talent competition, dress modeling, and interview questions.

The judges picked Hannah Lee as 2016 Miss Highlands, and Anna Keyes at Jr. Miss Highlands.

The first runner up for Miss Highlands was McKenzie Rezneciek, and the second runner up was Victoria Gonzales.

Haley Maxey won for High Ticket Sales, Hannah Courtney for Congeniality. Cydni Selensky was Most Photogenic, and Anna Keyes for Talent.

Hannah Lee was chosen Jr. Miss Highlands, and also won for Talent. The Congeniality winner was Kennah Holloway, Peyton Orwell won for Most Photogenic, Olivia Banks for High Ticket Sales.

Proceeds from the pageants are used to give scholarships to graduates from the community, and to help needy families and students. This year the Horizons gave 10 scholarships to deserving graduates.

Each year the Horizons present the Jennie Robbins Community Service Award to the Miss Highlands contestant who has proven to be community minded and dedicated her time to serving and helping others. This year the award was given to Victoria Gonzalez.

Crosby overpowers Caney Creek 64-0

CONROE – It was a good night for the Crosby Cougars, as they blanked the Caney Creek Panthers by a score of 64-0.

The Cougars jumped off to an early lead and never looked back. The Crosby offense showed some amazing plays, with a 55 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mannie Netherly to Terryl Wiley.

Still in the first quarter, this score was followed 3 minutes later by a 58 yard touchdown run by Carlos Grace.

Fans were thrilled by the strong offensive play. Another outstanding play occured in the second quarter, when Netherly hit Gray-Brooks with a 95 yard TD pass.

The Cougars took a 42-0 lead into the second half, and didn’t wait lo0ng to score again, with a 50 yard run by Terryl Willey.

Crosby is now 3-1 in District 21-5A play, and 4-2 overall. Next Friday they play Dayton in Crosby.

Pearl of Texas shines-60th Annual Highlands Jamboree

HIGHLANDS – Jessica Woods can relax now, she has survived another Jamboree, and it was quite a success. The Chamber of Commerce, and its officers and members, put a lot of effort into this event.

This annual event started with the opening of the Highlands State Bank in 1955, and appropriately enough, its successor, Woodforest National Bank, was the title sponsor for the Jamboree this year.

Woods is the Executive Director of the Chamber, which it the beneficiary of funds raised by the event.

Really good weather brought out a large crowd who thoroughly enjoyed the Fun Run in the morning, the parade at 10 am, and the afternoon activities at the Elementary School. These included crafts booths, a large variety of food booths, a silent auction, games and jump houses for the kids, and a very popular Kids’ Pageant for children from Year 1 through Year 11.

The Parade Floats were judged by three out-of-area women: Joy Copley, Tobi Copley, and Tiffany McCain.

Winning Floats were ZXP for Best of Theme, Woodforest Bank for Best Commercial, Shriners’ Mini Cars for Best Non-commercial, and Highlands Elementary for Best School Spirit.

The morning 5K Fun Run/Walk was won by the following:

ELEMENTARY:

1st – Abraham Greene

2nd – Collen Titlle

3rd – Ethen Earls

MIDDLE:

Tie – Jamie Childress, Kaia Morgan

HIGH SCHOOL:

1st – Riley O’Brien

ADULTS:

1st – Leroy Valladares

2nd – Emmanuel Valladares

3rd – Gabriel Maldonado

The parade had over 35 units participating, including two bands, all the Fire Trucks from Highlands, Parade Marshal and Terry Davis Award winner Archie Bickley, and Business of the Year Highlands Rotary, with Denise Smith riding the club truck.