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Star-Courier News

County mandates masks; Governor refuses statewide order

LEFT: Judge Hidalgo wearing a mask. Harris County and Houston have issued orders requiring masks for businesses, employees and customers.Violating Businesses are subject to $1000 fines. RIGHT: Governor Abbott wears a face mask on Tuesday at a press conference, where he urged voluntary wearing of masks and social distancing, but refused to issue an order making them mandatory.

As hospital admissions for COVID-19 continue to climb across the county, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order requiring businesses to generate, post, and implement health and safety policies which include, at a minimum, a requirement that workers, customers or visitors wear face coverings. The order took effect on Monday, June 22, 2020 and runs until Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The order directs all commercial entities providing goods or services to require that all employees or visitors to a business premise wear face coverings in areas that involve any proximity to co-workers or the public. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Commercial entities must post the health and safety policy in a conspicuous location sufficient to provide notice to employees and visitors of all health and safety requirements.

“There’s no magic wand government can wave to make this virus go away, but we can take steps to ensure that we provide our community with the guidance and tools it needs to fight back,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “This isn’t just the right thing to do for our health and safety, it’s also good for business. We owe it to our community to ensure that those who do have to go out can have the confidence in knowing that the businesses they are patronizing are looking out for their customers, workers, and community as a whole.”

To support the development of health and safety policies, Harris County is making available a sample health and safety policy and additional guidelines for businesses. Businesses that fail to develop, post, and implement a Health and Safety Policy are subject to a $1,000 for each violation.

EXCEPTIONS TO FACE COVERING ORDER

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Crosby ISD needs crystal ball for 2021

The Crosby ISD Board of Trustees met partially virtually and partially live last Monday night. They heard from a citizen concerning preparations for COVID -19 in the next school year, and conducted a hearing on the proposed budget. The Superintendent outlined the many dimensions of problems preparing for the next year.

CROSBY – No matter what opinion concerning COVID-19 one harbors, making rules and predicting how things will be six months from now is impossible under current conditions.

Crosby ISD held their annual public hearing on the budget last Monday. Under normal conditions it is a tight budget reflecting dramatic growth, new specifications from the state, new taxing legislation from House Bill 3, and the slight over tax (taxed more money than budgeted for due to growth) from last year. In this case, the meeting was held under partially virtual, partially live circumstance concerning projections from last year before the COVID-19 outbreak and as if next year values and projections will remain constant.

Will values change? Will mortgages remain constant and residents not default? Will building continue? These are uncertain times.

Superintendent Scott Davis reported on the amount of guess work necessary to prepare for the next school year.

“Someone said that getting the school ready for next year is like walking through a mine field; it isn’t. It’s like a lava field, where the mine field is mild,” he said.

The Superintendent did predict that requiring wearing masks would almost certainly be required. Davis indicated that his top priority is the health of students.

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Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. to host Zavala benefit

Kent Zavala

CROSBY – A BBQ Fundraising Benefit for the family of Recruit Firefighter Kent Zavala who passed last week in a tragic vehicle incident while off-duty. Help support Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. brother’s family by stopping by the Newport Station at 123 S. Diamondhead Blvd. on Saturday, 4th of July from 11:30am until food is gone.

Plates are $15 for BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich w/ fixings, Homemade Mac-n-Cheese, Bake Beans, cookies, and water/tea to drink. Also, whole smoked pork butts are $50.

Drive-thru, pick-up, and delivery are available. Pre-order through June 30th by emailing kentsbenefit@yahoo.com. PayPal payments accepted at PayPal.me/kentsbenefit. (Please contact email first before paying on PayPal.)

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia exposed to deadly virus, self-quarantined

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – June 16, 2020 – Today Congresswoman Garcia told NC Star writer Allan Jamail that she’s in self-quarantine because of being exposed to a family member who had recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

After consulting with her physician and the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, the Congresswoman went into self-isolating for the period of time recommended by the CDC.

Today Garcia said, “I’m thankful my #COVID19 test came back negative, but I still need to self-isolate and watch for symptoms out of an abundance of caution.”

“Working on behalf of the people of the Texas 29th Congressional District in the midst of this pandemic is my highest priority and I will be taking the necessary precautions to make sure I can continue fighting for our community. I want this to serve as a reminder for everyone in the Houston region and across the country that we are still combating COVID-19 and that everyone should be following public health guidelines that will help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy,” she said.

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Two hangings in two days in Houston area raise community concerns

HOUSTON – Authorities were investigating the unusual discovery of two persons hanging from trees, in the greater Houston area.

One was a young teen in the Klein school district, and the other was a man found in the Shady Acres area of the city.

Both have been ruled suicides, and the following statements have been issued by the Sheriff and U.S. Representative Lee.

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San Jacinto River Coalition: Virtual Meetings keeping public informed

By Gilbert Hoffman

The San Jacinto River Coalition normally meets every month on the first Tuesday, at a local community center. But since the Covid-19 lockdown mandated by Harris County, the community centers have been closed. To keep the community informed, SJRC/THEA director Jackie Young has been hold virtual reports that are available on the TxHEA.com website.

In her May Report, she discussed the importance of the I-10 bridge and roadway to commerce locally and throughout the nation. She said that TxDOT is planning on replacing the bumper structures that protect the columns supporting the bridge. These columns were severely damaged twice last year by barge strikes. She said that TxDOT is planning a public meeting in the fall to inform the public and receive comments on the project.

In regard to the waste pits, EPA is testing the crushed concrete and blocks that are part of the Cap cover. The idea is that they might be re-used as landfill after the toxic waste is removed, but only if they have no toxicity. As part of the study, they are also checking the quality of the groundwater, to know how to treat it during remediation.

The next step in remediation is for the engineers to present the 30% Design Package to the EPA for review and approval. At some point this will be made public, and THEA can review it to check what direction the process will be headed.

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Two COVID-19 deaths in Chambers County

Chambers County reports its first two COVID19 related deaths.

The first decedent was a male, aged 70 to 80-year-sold. The second decedent was a female, aged 40 to 50-years-old. Both had underlying health conditions.

In order to protect patient privacy, Chambers County Public Health is unable to release any additional information.

“We are deeply saddened to report this news and we offer our deepest heartfelt condolences to the families of these patients during this difficult time,” said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia.

These deaths come after climbing numbers of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Chambers County.

“We continue to see an exponential increase in case counts in Chambers County and throughout the Region,” said Local Health Authority W. Clay Brown, MD.

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Crosby Fair & Rodeo Livestock Auction brings about $304K, $17K for G.C. Steer

Delaney Klise showed her Grand Champion Steer. Crawfish Shack and Scott Stephens & Assoc. purchased the steer for $17,000. Melody & Scott Stephens with, Jennifer & Dan Meaux, Katie McGinnis, Clay Stephens, Michah Lane and Kristi Adams Niemtschk in this photo. Scott Stephens had kept the steer in his barn for Klise since his son exhibited.

CROSBY – A great effort to bring in funds for kids to go to higher education netted about $304 thousand dollars last week at the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Livestock Auction held within the Rockin’ C Arena on June 12.

The area of Crosby was not diminished from past attendance of their annual tradition of supporting the Crosby Fair & Rodeo’s Livestock Auction held for the express purpose of raising money for Crosby High School students to have for higher education.

This year there were extra spots to lavish upon students for having experienced a school year like never before including a special photo of Seniors that exhibited during the year of COVID–19, an extra booster check from the Smith family to the four new rodeo scholars, and other awards that were presented before the auction was conducted by Ricky Loggins.

This year the Belt Buckle Sponsorship was purchased by both John and Teresa Matt and a matching sponsorship by Zorro’s Welding & Fabrication.

According to Auctioneer Rick Loggins, the entire sale brought in about $304,000 and the Grand Champion Steer $17,000 just $2,000 off last year in a year that had to cope with a global pandemic and resultant economic downturn wherein most businesses have yet to reopen at capacity and the county facilities saying they might open by July 16.

Please see additional auction and event photos in the print or PDF editions.

18 yr. old Swimmer drowns in San Jacinto River

Gilberto Martinez drowned while swimming in the San Jacinto River last week.

HOUSTON – The body of a teen swimmer was found in the San Jacinto River after he went missing Wednesday morning, June 10, 2020, prompting search and rescue efforts from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Dive Team.

Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit searched the river near the intersection of Guinn Avenue and Riverside Street in the Magnolia Gardens Park area.

Relatives who took the teen to the river have identified him as Gilberto Martinez, 18, from El Salvador.

Mario Recinos, the teen’s uncle, said Martinez tried swimming to the other bank but struggled 3/4 of the way. Recinos said his nephew started yelling for help around 10 a.m., but the currents were too strong for anyone to get near the teen. Recinos said he even borrowed a stranger’s kayak but was unsuccessful.

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“Black Lives Matter” protest held on Eagle Drive in Mont Belvieu

MONT BELVIEU – A “Black Lives Matter” protest began about 1:00 p.m. last Thursday at City Park marching south on Eagle Drive to Barbers Hill Middle School and back.

Protestors numbered about thirty and it looked like someone’s Sunday School Class had made signs, undertaken to march and shout, “Black Lives Matter.”

It seemed that police presence was nearly equal to protesters. Local patrol vehicles were plainly visible and white vehicles with the trademark search lights had uniformed officers in some. There was no police interferance in the protest and it was rumored that the extra police presence was to protect marchers from various locals that held contrary views.

Key issues mentioned by marchers when approached were qualified immunity for police, chokeholds, the use of body cameras and the experience of Deandre Arnold at Barbers Hill High School. Arnold’s dreadlocks were found to be in violation of a school’s code and he was suspended for the violation. The incident drew national attention in light of dreadlocks originated within a religion as a cultural distinction.

When asked if Arnold’s family had agreed to obey school codes, one answer was, “They had no choice but agree to the school codes to go to school. When the Superintendent enforced the codes they instituted a cultural and racial imperative that is unjust.”

Organizer Martha Atonal said, “We have a variety of people here that came to show their support peacefully. Many of the young people are from Barber’s Hill High School with a recent experience, it is very rewarding to see.”

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to express our solidarity with ethnic minorities to stop killing and abusing them,” said another marcher.

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HARRIS COUNTY COVID-19 Recovery Czars announce Housing relief

Harris County Czar Armando Walle announces housing relief.

Recovery Czars Rep. Armando Walle and Marvin Odum Launch Effort to Reduce Evictions and Maintain Affordable Housing

Harris County, Texas – Thursday, June 11, 2020 – County and city recovery leaders on Thursday announced the formation of a task force to prevent evictions while bridging gaps in housing stability that have been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Housing Stability Task Force, which will include stakeholders with deep experience in the community who touch all points of the housing stability cycle, will align resources to address evictions while developing strategies and recommendations to strengthen the region’s housing delivery system. Although the city and county each have independent czars leading their respective COVID19 recovery efforts, city and county leadership decided to unify their efforts to deal with the unprecedented housing crisis through the creation of a joint task force.

“Evictions were a serious issue before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will continue to be of great concern throughout the course of the economic downtown. We unfortunately anticipate a substantial increase in the volume in the weeks and months ahead, and we are determined to make our best attempt at proactive planning to reduce as many as we can. The Houston region had systemic barriers to affordable housing before COVID, and the current crisis has exposed in plain sight the underlying system shortcomings,” said State Rep. Armando Walle, Harris County Recovery Czar. “With key players at the table, working together toward the same end goals, we will structure our efforts to be responsive to the immediate crisis, even as we maintain a firm resolve not to lose sight of the importance of future work required to make housing stability a reality for more people.”

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