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Posts published in “Day: March 21, 2019

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.

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.

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;