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Posts published in March 2019

Crosby ISD exits Exigency

Texas Education Agency personnel on hand to inform of a monitor and what the implications are for overseeing the reimbursement of funds gathered from parents for computers. At right is Mary Ann Whittaker, monitor of Crosby.

CROSBY – At the Board of Trustee’s meeting on Monday night, few could have been more glad to see consideration to terminate the Declaration of Financial Exigency than Superintendent Scott Davis. The burden of having to layoff educators and others fell on him following the determination of necessity. He had reported to the board of the District’s expectation of ethical behavior and fraud awareness and reporting training and the TCEQ Supplemental Environmental Project immediately before.

The Texas Education Agency had representatives speak during the meeting to inform the board of needing to install a monitor to see that the charges for computer maintenance taken from students’ parents are reimbursed.

According to T.E.A. Dr. Jason Hewitt the monitor is needed to see that the Corrective Action Plan, approved by the board at the last meeting, goes into effect to “refund the fees collected inappropriately. The monitor assures that plan is done effectively. What I also want to inform you is that — I am the L.E.A. — there are four areas that we look at we look at: statutory compliance, academic accountability — Crosby doesn’t have much to worry about that — financial accountability, and we look at governance.”

He indicated that if there is any kind of complaint filed, she is here on the grounds to look at that.

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Cody Bill passes House with 145 – 0 vote

AUSTIN – The final vote in the House of Representatives got unanimous approval of those attending the session on Tuesday for HB 76, the Cody Stephens Bill.

According to Scott Stephens, who has made it his mission to get Texas to use E.C.G. machines in addition to the exam a doctor does with a stethoscope, “The Texas House of Representatives voted to pass HB 76 today with no opposition! This was a huge step for us and for Cody’s Law, bringing us so much closer to getting heart screening into every school across Texas.

“This is a wonderful cause for celebration. We definitely want to take a moment to acknowledge all the hard work from Rep. Dan Huberty, lobbyist Kathy Grant, everyone who testified at the Public Education Committee hearing, and all of you who called and wrote letters to your representatives to vote in favor of HB 76.”

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ZXP is key industry in Highlands

JAMES TAYLOR, CEO ZXP

HIGHLANDS – One of the oldest and largest businesses in Highlands is operating under new ownership and management, according to James Taylor, the new CEO. The company is now known as ZXP Technologies, and has a history of over 80 years in Highlands, when it was originally a canning factory for figs and fruit.

Taylor spoke at a recent Rotary Club meeting, talking about the business success, and the work culture at the company.

Taylor said that since his group took ownership in February 2018, they have seen business revenues increase by 50%. One key to this is focusing on their best customers. At one time they had 290 customers, and now they concentrate on only the top 10.

Taylor spoke about the size of the business, which has 206 employees, and now has no “temporary” workers, a major change from previous policy. He said this has improved attitudes and work efficiency. The company also has instituted continuing education opportunities for all employees, and raised pay for everyone. Taylor has instilled the workers with a sense of responsibility for their work product.

The company’s products include lubricants, transmission fluids, and antifreeze. 60% of their products are exported in bulk, he noted.

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Washburn Tunnel to close for improvements March 29 to April 8

HOUSTON, Texas – The Washburn Tunnel will be closed for 10 days, beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 29th to 4 a.m. on Monday, April 8th. During this time, crews will be conducting in-depth maintenance to the Tunnel lining as part of the Washburn Tunnel Concrete Repairs project, which was planned proactively to preserve the life of the Tunnel.

Drivers are reminded to use alternate routes during the closure. Alternate routes include I-610 East Loop Freeway, Sam Houston Parkway, and Highway 146

Huge Deer Park tank blaze seen citywide

FINALLY EXTINGUISHED: Chemical storage tanks in Deer Park near the San Jacinto Monument blazed for days in spite of efforts to extinguish them. The smoke cloud was seen throughout the Houston Region, as far west as Katy. Nearby residents were concerned about the affect that the fire and smoke might have on their health. By Wednesday of this week, the fourth day, the flames and smoke were gone. (Photo courtesy KPRC)

Fires in two oil facilities in East Harris County the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day took the shine off the green. Saturday there was a fire at the Baytown Exxon Olefines Plant and St. Patrick’s Day was the time of the origin of the fire at Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park.

Baytown and Exxon firefighters and mutual aide rushed to 5000 Bayway Drive at about 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. All said and done, there was no shelter in place or evacuation called for there, and the fire was successfully contained without injury.

Sunday morning as many went to church a fire started near a chemical storage tank in Intercontinental Terminals Co.’s grounds in Deer Park. Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze to five tanks but when low water pressure occurred in the early hours of Monday, three other tanks caught fire. This cancelled authorities’ predictions of a rapid containment for the blaze.

The terminal is closed and evacuated, it stores gasoline additives and paint thinners. Some say these chemicals can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, headache and irritation to respiratory systems.

The Environmental Protection Agency, TCEQ, and the Harris County Pollution Control are closely watching air quality. So far, all agencies are saying the dark black smoke blanketing the region isn’t as dangerous as it looks, even as plumes envelop the county.

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Goose Creek CISD proposes new bond issue of $335m

Jessica Woods

HIGHLANDS – The Chamber of Commerce heard the details of a new bond issue that is proposed by the Goose Creek CISD for the election in May.

The presentation was made by Jessica Woods, director of the Chamber, and a school board member representing District 3. Woods presented the facts behind the need for the bond issue, but did not take a position on whether to vote to approve.

The new bond is named GCbond2019 to distinguish it from the bond issue that failed to pass last year. The new bond will raise $335 million for a variety of needs, but will not include the multi-purpose and athletic center from last year’s bond, which had two propositions totaling $437.5 million.

The 2019 bond referendum includes $114m for updating Aging schools and Repairs, $155m for New School construction, $12m for Athletic improvements, $3.75m for Safety and Security improvements, and $49m for Technology.

Details of this bond issue were put together by a Citizens Bond Planning Committee made up of 42 community leaders, parents, and teachers representing a cross section of the District.

This committee, made up for proponents and opponents of the 2018 bond referendum, received information on current facilities and program needs, demographic growth projections, and then toured the schools.

In January 2019 they made a proposal and final recommendation to the GCCISD Board of Trustees, which approved the committee’s recommendations in February by a unanimous vote of 7-0.

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CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS: Supplemental funding legislation draws from “Rainy Day Fund”

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — A few of the funding priorities expressed by the executive, legislative and judicial branches are not covered in Senate Bill 2, the state’s tentatively approved appropriations bill for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

So, on March 13, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB 500, $6 billion in supplemental funding to plug many holes. Some $4.3 billion of the total would be taken out of the Economic Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund. Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the legislation proposes the following allocations:

• $3 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery expenses;

• $2.1 billion to address the Medicaid shortfall;

• $100 million for school safety, with an amendment that gives districts greater flexibility on the type of safety equipment they can buy;

• $300 million to improve state hospital facilities;

• $542 million to address pension liabilities for the Teacher Retirement System and provide retired teachers a “13th check” up to $500;

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Coby Carter bringing Spring to Rock’N C

CROSBY – When the Rock’N C Roundup plays on Saturday, March 23, Coby Carter will be the concert portion, but there will be a bevy of activities to partake in, including “How many of you like steak?”

Well, there is to be a steak cook-off beginning at 10:00 a.m. that morning. Teams can buy a ground of 10X15 foot to cook some of the finest steak meat in Texas.

Now the extra good part for just eaters is when the contest is over individuals can buy steak dinners cooked to order for $20 a plate.

For those that like tossing games a corn-hole tournament is to begin registering at 1:00 p.m. and begin at about 2:00 p.m. the buy in per team is $25.

There is to be a Live and Silent Auction including items not available anywhere else.

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Crosby Education Foundation begins ‘Family Pride’ initiative

The Crosby Education Foundation (CEF) has embarked upon a new campaign which they are calling the Crosby Cougar Family Pride initiative. The purpose of this campaign is to unify the community with Crosby ISD (CISD) during this time of financial hardship and recovery. They are also trying to raise some funds to help the District maintain essential programs through this difficult period.

CEF is raising money to provide for essential services and supplies which are needed by CISD but had to be cut from the budget due to the financial exigency. They are targeting those programs and services which have the greatest impact on the academic achievement of the students, such as reinstating the Accelerated Reader programs at all Elementary campuses, funding a supplemental tutoring program for student testing, and assisting the District with attracting and retaining top-quality teachers. They are also working with the District to identify additional program and supplies which were cut from the budget.

The fundraising to support this campaign was recently kicked off with the “One District, One Family, One Shirt” sale in early February. They will continue to accept donations from individuals and local businesses to support these needs. You may contribute online at Paypal.me/CrosbyEF or by sending a check to:

Crosby Education Foundation
Attn: Melissa Murray
706 Runneburg Rd
Crosby, TX 77532

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Three injured in Highlands fire

Three people were injured in a house fire that destroyed their mobile home, last Wednesday at about 11:45am. The home was located in the northern section of the town, in a development known as Highlands Park near 300 Highlands Shores Road.

Highlands Fire Department responded to the call, bring their water truck as well as pumper trucks and an ambulance. The reported that three people were injured, two with smoke inhalation and one with first degree burns.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s office also responded to the call, and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the blaze.