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Posts published in “Day: April 16, 2015

Stephens EKG bill passed in Texas House

AUSTIN– Nearly three years since Cody Stephens died of sudden cardiac arrest the Texas House approved HB 767. Cody wore number 76 for the Cougars, but did not have a heart screen done prior to practicing to play for Tarleton State University.

Chairmen Wayne Smith, Dan Huberty, and Sylvester Turner, enabled passage of HB767 on the third reading last Tuesday, the vote went 60 to 40.x The day before it had tentatively passed 86 to 57. It was a bi-partisan effort to pass as some Republicans in the House are against any new regulations.

“This is not about somebody making a decision for the school board.” said Scott Stephens, explaining that the bill is really moving the tests performed on potential athletes into the 21st Century.

“The bill would not go into effect until the next school year, 2016-2017,” Stephens said, “that gives the U.I.L. a year to get ready.”

The bill puts the non-invasive electrocardiogram test of heart electrical activity as part of the regular check-up done on high school kids. The bill now allows parents to opt out of having the test done on their child “for any reason.”

The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee and members of the committee stood and applauded the decision. According to Stephens, “We are heading to the Senate Education Committee now and talking to all 12 members. We have more momentum and groups backing us now.”

According to Republican Dan Huberty on the house floor with the newly designed, tested and implemented EKG test “can be done for $15 per child.”

According to Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Crosby and Baytown, “If we can save one kid’s life, it is worth it.”

Fortunately, sudden cardiac arrest is rare, of those screened by the Cody Stephens Memorial Go Big or Go Home Foundation only 15 were found to have conditions that required further testing and two were told outright not to play school sports.

Representative David Courreges expressed, “Congratulations to Scott and Melody Stephens, Bart Koontz and every parent and family that has had to endure the devastation of loosing s child to a detectible heart defect. ”

The senate version was written by “Chuy” Hinojosa D- District 20.

Crosby student fatally struck while cycling to school

CROSBY, Texas – The Crosby community is mourning the death of a teenager killed on his way to school on Highway 90.

According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the thirteen-year-old boy, a student at Crosby Middle School, was struck and killed by a motorist while crossing Highway 90 on his bicycle last Friday morning, April 10.

The accident happened around 6:00 a.m. near the highway intersection with Bohemian Hall Road.

Deputies said the boy was hit by several cars. The driver who first hit the boy did not stop, then another driver hit the bicycle and stopped to call police, deputies said. The first driver, returned later to the scene to talk to investigators, deputies said. He was detained but is unknown if any charges will be filed.

The boy was transported by helicopter to Memorial Herman Hospital where he was pronouced dead.

The boy’s name has not been released; according to the boy’s friends, he regularly biked to school.

Counselors at Crosby Middle School helped students deal with the tragedy and condolences have been offered on the school’s district Facebook page.

Todd Hicks, Crosby Middle School principal posted the following statement on facebook:

“It is with a heavy heart that I reach out to you today. CMS is grieving after receiving tragic news this morning that a Crosby Middle School student was involved in a fatal bicycle-auto traffic accident on Highway 90 in Crosby. The student was transported by ambulance to the hospital where his guardian met with emergency response officials to discuss the situation. Because of the student’s age,and with respect to his parents, his name is being withheld at this time. Students and teachers at CMS are currently being made aware of the situation and grief counselors are on site to support students and staff members. Please keep this family in your players during this very painful time.”

In a community like Crosby, where almost everybody knows everybody and ties are close, something like this “resonates very quickly with a lot of people in Crosby,” said Dr. Keith Moore, Crosby ISD Superintendent.

The area where the accident occured on Highway 90 is a busy road, with no street lights, reports said.

New Waste Pits study calls for removal

HIGHLANDS – About 60 interested residents of the Highlands and Channelview are attended a briefing last Wednesday evening, held at the San Jacinto Community Center in Highlands.

The meeting was hosted by Jackie Young, environmental activist with the San Jacinto River Coalition, and TexansTogether.

Young had contracted with an instructor of hers, Dr. Kathleen Garland, to prepare a report on EPA guidelines for dealing with toxic waste sites, as applied to other locations around the United States.

Garland teaches at the University of Houston Clear Lake, and is a Geologist and Environmental Management Expert.

Garland worked from existing data, on how the federal EPA had dealt with other toxic Superfund sites similar to the San Jacinto Waste Pits. Young’s hypothesis is that if the cases are similar, and EPA has required removal of toxic materials, then they should call for a similar solution in the San Jacinto River, therefore treating this in a similar method as others.

Young said that a final decision will be made by the EPA this spring, since the National Remedy Review Board is meeting in April, and announced in a Final Report in September 2015.

This approaching deadline has caused Young to increase her public push for citizens to be involved and concerned, as evidenced by articles recently published in the Texas Monthly magazine and the Houston Chronicle telling of her campaign to fully remove the toxic materials from the river. She said that in addition to the EPA determination of remedial action, there are also two lawsuits pending against the ‘Responsible Parties’ to recover monetary damages for health injuries and property devaluation. One suit, led by attorneys Smith & Hassler, has engaged over 170 per sons who they plan to represent in court.

Young said that one of the key issues is whether the DSHS, or Texas Department of Health Services, would conduct a health study of sickness in the area. DSHS said they are preparing a “Cancer Cluster” study from existing statistics, but do not plan an on-site survey of health. Young said this is not satisfactory, because it is not specific enough, nor focused on a small enough geographic area. The data covers everything from Baytown to Humble.

Garland Report

The study made by Dr. Garland identified seven sites in the U. S. similar in toxins and geography to the SJR Waste Pits.

They needed to have similar contaminants or COCs such as dioxins and furans; they had to be a tidal basin site; sediments had to extend to a river bottom; and seafood consumption was a factor, with signage advisories.

Garland studied over 400 sites, to find 7 that met the criteria. She found that in all these sites, if the dioxins were highly concentrated, i.e. above 1 part per billion, the EPA chose to fully remove the material. For lower levels, they would accept a permanent cap, often a concrete block mat.

Garland’s conclusion is that this solution must be followed, to be consistent with the EPA’s own National Contingency Plan, i.e. full removal of the highest concentrations, and cap over lower dangers.

The audience contributed questions and their own experience, after the presentation.

One woman said that her medical bills were $3000/month and she felt that her health was affected by the waste pits.

Another said her son had attended San Jacinto Christian Academy in Lynchburg, which drew well water near the river, and that he had developed non-hodgkins lymphomia while he attended. Later, this ceased when he was not at the school.

Pam Banta said that one goal of the Coalition is to recover some money from the Harris County lawsuit for a mobile screening van to test residents health, and also to provide piped city water to homes that are now on wells that are possibly contaminated. The suit recovered $29.2 million.