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Posts published in August 2018

Wrist Band studies check exposure to toxins after Hurricane Harvey

Silicone Wristbands were worn by participants for one week, to register any toxins they were exposed to.

After Hurricane Harvey, Oregon State University’s Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology send a research team to Houston, to ascertain the threat to human health from exposure to toxins in the water, soil and air. They worked with Texas A&M, and THEA to gather the results.

Data was collected by using passive wristband samplers to determine personal chemical exposure after the flooding.

These wristbands can measure up to 1,530 different chemicals. 41 Superfund sites in Houston were affected by the hurricane, and 13 of these were flooded.

Although the study was conducted throughout the Houston area, a subset of 32 people were recruited from the Highlands area, and of these 27 returned their wristbands and had them analyzed.

Researchers looked for 1,530 chemicals found in several different chemical classes. Some chemicals are included in more than one class. For example, triclosan is found in both personal care products and is considered a pesticide. On average, each person had 28 chemicals in their wristband.

They measured chemicals at the nanogram level, which is a very small amount. However, they are still learning how much of a chemical is needed to cause a negative health effect.

Of the Highlands sample group, 119 chemicals were found across all 27 wristbands. 1411 chemicals were not detected.

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GBOGH heart screen bill gains Legislative support

Dan Huberty, left, announces with Scott Stephens, right, founder of the Cody Stephens Memorial Foundation that Dan Patrick and Crosby’s Current State Representative Briscoe Cain, R., 128th, have come out in Support of House Bill 76 to move through the House and Senate to the Governor’s desk next session. 10 Years ago Huberty took over as the local state representative in Crosby from Republican Joe Crabb. In 2013 redistricting took the promising Huberty over to Humble but he never wanted to leave representing the area and fighting for the well-being of its people.

CROSBY – The Cody Stephens Memorial Fundraiser set a record last Saturday and attendees learned from State Representative Dan Huberty that next session Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick will endorse the measure to have heart scans for starting athletes across Texas.

Some 400 supported the cause to screen young athletes to prevent sudden death, and corporate sponsorships were at an all time high. The designation of the bill to screen first time athletes across Texas has been reserved to be HB76, Cody Stephen’s football jersey was 76.

There were many highlights at the fundraiser. Young Hanna O’Neill was awarded a belt buckle for her efforts last year. Al and Sherri Juniel had a son Cameron pass away playing a basketball game and they now are dedicated to the cause of screening all first time Texas athletes.

Dan Huberty, R., Texas House District 127, took the microphone to say he was sorry that he had been unable to pass the bill before now, pointing out that it was a victim of the Mother’s Day Massacre last session, where many consent agenda bills were crushed in the rush to budget. And Huberty said that he had always had a problem moving the bill to the forefront in the Senate, “But, I have come here today to announce that I have just gotten off the phone with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, head of the Senate, and I asked if he would guide the Cody Stephens Bill to the Governor’s desk in this next session and he answered, ‘Yes, I will.’”

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Voters Approve Flood Bond

HARRIS COUNTY – Voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 Billion dollar bond proposal, that will result in 237 projects to mitigate future flood dangers in the county.

With 98% of the votes counted, District Clerk Stan Stanart reported that the bond issue passed with 85% approval, or about 129,000 votes. Opposing the proposal were 15% of the voters who turned out, about 21,000. Votes were almost evenly split between Absentee, Early, and Election Day votes.

Election Day was August 25th, the one year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Harvey onto the Texas coast.

The bond issue includes 237 projects, $1.2 Billion for channel improvements, $12.5 Million for floodplain mapping, and $1.25 Million for an early warning system.

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Crosby ISD hears report on “spending beyond its means”

The Crosby ISD Board of Trustees presented a plaque to Dan and Jennifer Meaux of Crawfish Shack for being Recognized by the Texas Association of School Boards Business Recognition Program for Businesses that exceed standards for generosity.

CROSBY – At the Monday Board of Trustee’s meeting of Crosby ISD as promised Dr. Scott Davis, new superintendent of the district presented his findings in a report.

About 60 community members who were in attendance. The report included information on recently discovered financial issues and he stated, “The district has been spending beyond its means.”

Later during the meeting the board concerned with the safety of the children held a discussion on school safety and security measures, specifically, the hiring of three additional school resource officers. At $98,000 to $99,000 each per school year.

This reporter checked with law enforcement from throughout the area and learned that about $40,000 of that is for a deputy’s yearly salary.

Sherman Eagleton at his fundraiser on Thursday stated to this reporter that he did not know what decisions the schools were going to have to make because funds are tight but “I am going to see after the well-being of these kids, that is a priority.”

According to the school district’s officials, “Dr. Davis and new Chief Financial Officer, Lesa Jones, discovered a cash flow issue that appears to date back to the Spring of 2017. This cash flow problem resulted in the district partaking in a short-term loan and internal fund borrowing from the district’s Debt Service and Construction Funds to cover operational needs and the district’s payroll obligations. Prior to Davis’ arrival, $5.65 million had been borrowed from the Construction Fund to cover the district’s payroll obligations. When Davis arrived in late June, he had to borrow an additional $1.99 million from the Construction Fund to cover expenses for the July 15th payroll. To date, the total amount borrowed from the Construction Fund stands at $7.64 million. Davis stated that the plan is to repay the $1.99 million he had to borrow by the end of November 2018. He and Jones worked closely with the district’s bond counsel to determine if there were any qualifying expenditures made in 2017-2018 that could be subtracted from the total amount due to the Construction Fund. Approximately $2.25 million of capital expenditures have been identified as potential qualifying expenses leaving $3.4 million outstanding that the District intends to repay by December 2018.

Recovery from the financial issues is expected to take 3-5 years. While additional short-term loans, also known as Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRAN), will be required to subsidize the cash flow shortage, the plan will be to create a diminishing dependence on these loans over the next several years by implementing cost-saving measures including a 10-20% budget cut, absorbing staff positions through attrition and potentially a reduction in force, if necessary.

Fund Balance (more…)

Rotary meets JP candidate Lucia Bates

Lucia Bates

HIGHLANDS – This year’s general election, set for November 6, will see a change in the Justice of the Peace in Baytown’s Pct. 3 Position 2. This is the position currently held by Judge Don Coffey.

Marketing Executive Lucia Bates, a life-long resident of the North Shore area, will become the next JP in that jurisdiction, since she is running with no opponent on the Republican ticket.

Bates spoke about her life and qualifications at a recent luncheon held by the Highlands Rotary Club. Rotary has had a special relationship with all the JP’s in recent years, Tony Polumbo, Mike Parrott, Don Coffey, and Joe Stephens. It was only natural that they wanted to meet and greet the next JP, Lucia Bates.

She spoke having been born in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, and moving to the U.S. as a child. She originally worked for GTE in Baytown, so she knows the area well. After that, she moved into advertising and marketing, first for the Houston Chronicle, and later for Houston Community Newspapers. She currently has her own business, LB Marketing Solutions. In many of these positions, she has won awards for outstanding performance.

Bates said her motivation to be a judge came from her passion to give back to the community. Her resume is full of public service positions, as a Rotary director, Chair of the North Channel Chamber, president of her HOA, and former board members of the YMCA, Pilot Club, Top Ladies of Distinction, Advisory Panel to LyondellEquistar, and much more.

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31st Annual New Educators’ luncheon marks start of School

Crosby Church hosted the Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce as they provided the 31st Annual New Educator’s Luncheon sponsored by Community Resource Credit Union on August 15.

See Page 2 to see the New Educators.

There were speeches by David Frazier of Community Resource, Dr. Benny Solieau and Dr. Scott Davis, and Chamber CEO Rev. Larry Koslovsky.

12th Annual Rotary Washer Tournament Sept. 15th

Team competition at the Rotary
Washer Tournament last year.

HIGHLANDS – The Washer throwing tournament, held every year at Charlie’s Ice House, has become a city-wide mustdo for many District 5890 Rotarians, as well as local folks from the greater Highlands area. Proceeds from this charity event are sent to the national Rotary program Polio Plus, which has almost eliminated this dread disease from the whole world. Highlands Rotarians are able to give one of the highest contributions, per capita, of any club in the world due to this event.

The Public is invited to participate. It will be held Saturday, September 12 from 2pm to 6pm at Charlie’s Ice House, 906 N. Main St. in Highlands. (more…)

Heart Screening sees big turnout in Crosby

CROSBY– The annual Community Heart Screening at the Crosby Community Center was August 18. Over 500 students were screened from nine until noon last Saturday. August 25 tickets are still available for the Cody Stephens Memorial Fundraiser to provide heart screenings across Texas. Call (713) 451-3600 for ticket information.

Crosby ISD’s cash woes show

CROSBY – Next Monday, August 19, at the school board meeting, Scott Davis, Superintendent of Crosby ISD, is expected to describe financial woes of the district and how the district will repair those woes, according to sources, but for now the district and the Superintendent are remaining silent and not returning phone calls, e-mails, or friendly visits.

Generally, when a Superintendent takes over a district, the first order of duty is to look into the finances of the school district, and for now there is a hiring freeze (excluding the new teachers that were employed last school year) and a hold on new orders, according to the same sources.

As an example of where the funding might have gone, sources say it was not an illegal absconding but using funds up to but not including $50,000 to pay for cost overruns on Crosby’s “The Jungle” Stadium from the General Fund by the previous Superintendent Dr. Keith Moore.

Timing being essential here, the new A-F grading system for schools was just released, with Crosby achieving a B letter grade, with two distinctions at Crosby High School for Post-Secondary Readiness and another for Comparative Academic Growth. The financial rating from Texas Education Agency, was a “C” for ‘met standard’ back when the 2017 bond was decided. TEA ratings go from “A” for superior to “F” for not measuring up.

Crosby ISD was awarded zero out of 10 points on the debt service coverage ratio by the TEA on the last bond. The district brings in $58.3 million in revenue for debt service, the tax rate used to make bond payments, and it now pays $65.4 million. Those poor standings may be due to inaccurate information, and they are under appeal.

Around 2012, the district began planning for the 2013 bond. About that time, the district’s enrollment growth began accelerating. From 2013 to 2016, Crosby ISD’s enrollment growth rate rose from 0.85 percent to 5.49 percent.

The district’s 2013 bond election was for $86.5 million and used to build a new high school and construct athletic structures. The district used more than $10 million from its operating budget, which is set to be reimbursed with the 2017 bond package.

School districts running short of money is not a new experience, especially since 2016 when the largest school districts in Texas filed a lawsuit against their state government, alleging the public school system in Texas is both inadequate and inequitable. That was the same year the TEA initiated the A-F system.

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EPA to hold Citizen’s meetings Sept. 12

Jackie Young shows samples of two types of Geofabrics that were used to cap the Waste Pits. The Geotextile in the foreground was used on most
of the cap, and the Geogrid beyond was used on steep slopes where the fabric would not stay in position.

The San Jacinto River Coalition heard updates from Jackie Young on the condition of the Waste Pits, at their last meeting on Tuesday, August 7th. In addition, Young announced that the EPA was returning to Highlands to conduct one-on-one interviews.

Young also revealed that Congressman Brian Babin had toured the Waste Pits site, along with EPA region 6 Superfund Manager John Meyer on July 22nd. This interest in the Superfund site by Babin was considered as a positive indicator for the project. Babin urged EPA in 2016 to remove the waste pits without delay. About this visit, he said, “I have driven by here 100 times, but this is actually the first time I’ve been on the ground here.”

Ms. Young announced that the EPA is returning to Highlands on September 12th, to conduct interviews of anyone that wants their opinion included in a report that is being prepared, known as the CIP, or Community Involvement Plan.

The Community Involvement Plan serves as a guide for the EPA in sharing information and providing opportunities for public input on site cleanup of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site and other activities outlined in EPA’s October 11, 2017 Record of Decision (ROD).

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Freak storm blocks Crosby roadways

Last Friday at about 4:47, a sudden storm released a microburst that struck the power lines across the San Jacinto River Bridge onto the Beaumont Highway snarling traffic for a couple of hours on Old US 90 in both directions and New US 90 eastbound. Every type of law enforcement that services Crosby made the scene along with ambulances as 4 people were stuck near the lines. A cold front with rain brought the storm.