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Star-Courier News

Governor Abbott announces phase two to open Texas

AUSTIN – May 18, 2020 — Governor Greg Abbott today announced the second phase of the State of Texas’ ongoing plan to safely and strategically open Texas while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Under Phase II, restaurants may increase their occupancy to 50% and additional services and activities that remained closed under Phase I may open with restricted occupancy levels and minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

Additionally, the Governor announced that public schools in Texas have the option to provide in-person summer school so long as they follow social distancing practices and health protocols laid out by DSHS. These classes may begin as soon as June 1st.

“Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one step closer to medical discoveries that can treat and protect people from COVID-19—but until that day comes, our focus is keeping Texans safe while restoring their ability to get back to work, open their businesses, pay their bills, and put food on their tables,” said Governor Abbott. “By continuing to use safe practices, we are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. I ask all Texans to continue heeding the guidance of our state and federal medical experts and do their part to protect public health. If we all unite in our resolve, we will overcome this challenge.”

Via Executive Order, the following services and activities may open under Phase II. (more…)

Houston, Harris County appoint ‘Recovery Czars’ to lead relief from Covid-19 crisis

HARRIS COUNTY – April 20, 2020, County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Monday selected State Representative Armando Walle to lead the COVID19 pandemic relief and recovery effort on her behalf. As Harris County COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Czar, Rep. Walle is tasked with leading the effort to drive the region’s economic recovery. He will join the Houston relief and recovery Czar in this effort and jointly they will convene community and government stakeholders as necessary.

“State Rep. Walle is uniquely positioned to build consensus across Harris County’s diverse communities to help our region emerge from the COVID-19 disaster. As a leader in the state Legislature on issues of health, safety, and the economic well being of families, he’s a champion for the important priorities that we want to make sure are in the forefront of this relief and recovery effort,” Judge Hidalgo said. “Like the rest of the world, Harris County will not be the same when this crisis abates. But with inclusive, fast and coordinated planning, we will build an economy and a social services network that gives every resident the tools they need to thrive once again.”

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Governor plans to reopen state

Governor Greg Abbott at a new conference in Austin last Friday, announcing steps to re-open the state.

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott last Friday, April 17, 2020, announced initial steps to re-open the Texas economy as it continues to reel from the coronavirus pandemic.

During a news conference at the Texas Capitol, Abbott said Texans’ efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus were paying off.

“We’re now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us,” Abbott said. “We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus.”

To get the economy going again, Abbott named a “statewide strike force” chaired by James Huffines, the Austin banker and former UT regent. The task force staff will be led by Mike Toomey, a veteran lobbyist who was chief of staff to Abbott’s predecessor, Rick Perry.

Abbott offered a host of names that will advise the task force, including fellow statewide officials, top medical experts and business leaders.

After naming the task force, Abbott said he was issuing an executive order loosening the restrictions he previously put in place on non-essential surgeries.

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Mobile virus test site opens in Humble, free total sites now number 18

Drive-Thru Coronavirus test swab technique.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Mobile coronavirus testing sites temporarily in the Tomball and Humble area starting this week, the Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner’s Office confirmed Monday.

Harris County Public Health is running both sites, which are temporary and only available for pre-approved residents. Officials said walk-ins will not be allowed.

Harris County Public Health will be testing 100 pre-approved residents a day at each location.

The Tomball site will doing tests through April 14 – 16 and April 27 – 29.

The Humble site will be doing tests through April 20 – 22 and May 7 – 9.

Commissioner R. Jack Cagle said each site is able to complete as many as 100 tests per day, but these numbers expected to increase daily.

Residents must do pre-screening at checkforcorona.com/harriscounty or call 713-439- 6000 for information. Those deemed to be at-risk for coronavirus will be given a code and phone number to call. After a telephone consultation, those still deemed to be at risk will be given another unique code and information on where and when they are to be tested.

Crosby’s rodeo, concerts cancelled but auction, cook-off still on for now

Scheduled to play for the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Cook-Off in early June.

CROSBY – According to a letter from the Crosby Fair & Rodeo Board the entertainment and rodeo has been cancelled for this year but the livestock auction is still to be held.

According to Gene Hicks a board member, the Cook-Off is still to be held and the performing act “Bag Of Donuts” from New Orleans is still to play for one of the two nights. Of course, this too is subject to change based on developments of the COVID 19 struggle and governmental regulation.

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Crosby EMS is Front Line against Virus

This accident occurred on US Hwy 90 Westbound at Janacek Rd. at 12:38 pm on April 6, 2020. One patient endured entrapment, calling into play an array of first responders, equipment and subsequently a Life Flight was made to rescue a mother. Call volume overall for Harris County ESD #5, Crosby’s ambulance service, decreased since the beginning of the quarantine. But motor vehicle accidents remained consistent.

CROSBY – Crews of first responders are thrust into the front lines of the war on COVID-19. Locally, Harris County ESD #5, Crosby’s ambulance service (ESD#5), are medical troopers working with local fire departments and law enforcement for the safety of our community.

Asking Medical Chief and Director of Operations Christy Graves, CCEMT-P, how are treatments and procedures changing nowadays, will get this response: “So, we are having to maintain our normal emergency response work and also respond to sick and possible COVID-19 positive patients. We have had to stay alert as well as change our protocols often, sometimes daily, in order to provide the best care for all citizens during this pandemic. This includes the PPE we wear to protect everybody because of how close we interview the patients. Obviously, we have to touch people to provide emergency care. We have developed very stringent guidelines to do this including limiting the number of care providers inside the ambulance with patients. We are no longer allowing extra riders including family members to increase safety. The driver of the ambulance is also completely sealed off from the rear area of the ambulance. This creates a closed ventilation system to help in decontamination of the ambulances.”

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San Jacinto River Coalition holds virtual meeting

Jackie Young Medcalf on
THEA video report.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition and its sister organization, THEA held its monthly meeting last Tuesday night by video instead of its usual in-person meet.

The group had skipped its March meeting due to the scheduled wedding of its president, Jackie Young (now Young Medcalf). Then they were faced with the inability to have its April meeting at the community center, due to the lockdown of county facilities because of the Covid-19 flu epidemic. Undaunted, Ms. Medcalf recorded a report which included news of the SJR Waste Pits, the Superfund Jones Road site in Cypress, and even her wedding.

A major question on the minds of many of the Coalition members, and others in the community, is whether the Covid-19 lockdown will affect the schedule of removal of the waste pits. Jackie has discussed this with the EPA project manager, Gary Baumgarten, and reports that work is continuing at the EPA, the engineering consultants, and even on-site remedial repair work. There is no indication of a major delay in the milestone dates of the project, he said.

On-site work is in the river just beyond the north edge of the cap, where the storm Imelda caused erosion of the river bed. Contractors are repairing and restoring much of the material that washed away, to protect the cap. The company in charge of the onsite work has submitted an addendum to their Health and Safety work plan to the EPA, indicating additional protection for their workers from the Covid-19 virus.

THEA’s short term goal is to protect the public and the environment from any contamination from the toxins in the waste pits. Their long-term goal, Jackie says, is to continue work on removal and relocation and storage of the dioxins and other toxic materials.

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Construction of FM 1409 new extension begins

Front (L-R) County Engineer Cory Taylor and Commissioner Pct. 3 Gary Nelson on the back a Texas Sterling foreman at the groundbreaking of the new construction.

Mont Belvieu, Texas – The FM 1409 extension has officially started construction last Monday, April 6, 2020. The new road will extend FM 1409 from FM 565 in Old River to FM 565 in Cove. The extension will provide a two-lane undivided highway which will eventually cross over 1-10. Phase 1 of the project consists of both FM 1409 from N. FM 565 to IH 10 westbound frontage road and FM 1409 from IH 10 eastbound frontage road S FN 565; which is slated to be completed by November of 2021. Phase 2 consists of the FM 1409 Bridge; which will be out for bid this year. The project manager is Dannenbaum Engineering and Texas Sterling is the contractor.

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Controversy surrounds May 2 BHISD and Mont Belvieu elections

The city of Mont Belvieu is planning an election on May 2nd for Mayor and 2 councilmen, and the Barbers Hills ISD school district is planning an election that same day for their $277.5 million Bond Referendum and two school board seats. Voting is in person, and by mail-in ballots, which are being encouraged.

Because of the “lockdown” ordered by County officials, and an executive order from Governor Abbott telling governments and districts that they should move their May 2nd elections to November to avoid health problems and voter intimidation in May, several politicians have criticized or questioned the wisdom of the two entities in Mont Belvieu continuing their scheduled elections on May 2.

State Representatives Mayes Middleton, and Briscoe Cain, have said the elections should be moved, while City Manager Nathan Watkins and School Superintendent Greg Poole have defended the date as legal and needed early.

Voters may apply for a mail-in ballot until April 20 at www.montbelvieu.net/election. Early voting starts April 20 to April 28, at the BHISD conference center at 9600 Eagle Drive.