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Posts published in February 2020

New IH-10 bridge over San Jacinto River may affect Waste Pits removal

TxDOT engineers have said that the bridge design will be segmented, similar to this design of IH-10 over the Trinity River. The center span is 450 feet, so that support columns do not need to be in the river.

By Gilbert Hoffman

HARRIS COUNTY – Although in early stages of planning and design, engineers with TxDOT have begun to talk about the design and schedule for a replacement bridge over the San Jacinto River. With 4 to 6 lanes in each direction and no supporting columns in the river, it would be a vast improvement over the current situation. However, authorities and environmentalists are concerned that construction of a new bridge might interfere with the planned removal of the toxic wastes in the Superfund Site in the river. Workers on either project could be exposed to dangerous toxic waste, and would require special protective procedures. Planners for the EPA are also taking into consideration that work might take place during hurricane season, limiting the schedule to safe months. This might also be a consideration for the bridge construction.

Preliminary details of the design were discussed at a meeting in November with the Economic Alliance, and additional information was learned by this newspaper from TxDOT engineers. TxDOT is currently conducting a PEL or Planning and Environmental Linkage study of the IH-10 corridor, including the bridge. The study includes the corridor as it passes through Houston, Jacinto City, Channelview, Baytown, and Mont Belvieu. A PEL study is a high-level, early-planning study process that represents an approach to transportation decision making that considers environmental, community and economic goals early in the planning stage. It involves public meetings with feedback from the public and interested parties, as well as engineering studies.

Normally a new bridge as contemplated would take 5 to 10 years for design and construction, but TxDOT indicates that due to the critical nature of this corridor, and the continued threat of damage from barge traffic and storms, the schedule may be condensed to 3 to 5 years. (more…)

STEPHENS “GOING BIG” NATIONALLY

Scott and wife Melody Stephens stand outside the Pennsylvania Senate with a photograph of Cody Stephens hoping that their testimony reached the ears of lawmakers deciding what to do about sudden death among student athletes.

Quest to save lives with ECG in 7 states

CROSBY – What began here as a quest to see if sudden death of young athletes could be stemmed by ECG screening has become a national issue with seven states currently undertaking bills much like the Cody Bill HB76 having passed the Texas Legislature last year.

After five years of effort, surprisingly with significant elements of the Medical community opposing it, Texas passed the Cody Bill enabling parents of first year athletes to opt into an Electrocardiogram screening to check their athlete’s heart for anomalies before the athlete takes to the field. Previously, annually sudden death from heart attack was generally an annual event somewhere in the state.

The Cody Bill finally passed the Texas House unanimously Stephens acknowledged the work from Rep. Dan Huberty, lobbyist Kathy Grant, everyone who testified at the Public Education Committee hearing and all who wrote letters to representatives to vote in favor of HB76. The bill passed the Texas Senate on May 20 by a vote of 20-11.

Stephens then said, “It has been seven years and two weeks to the day since Cody died in my easy chair for what we would later discover was unnecessary. So, my wife, Melanie and I said let’s give this thing seven years to get passed while we show them that screenings can be done all over the state without excessive spending and save some young lives. (more…)

Turner dealership wins major award in Vegas

Carlos Latour Representative for Chevrolet at left presenting the General Motors Premier Elite award to Daylyn Turner, David Mendez, Jamie Kendrick and Robbie Turner all of dealerships owned by Robert Turner of Turner Chevrolet. This is the 17th and the 18th time a dealership owned by Robert Turner has been awarded this Ring Update.

Several representatives of Robert Turner, owner of Turner Chevrolet and JK Chevrolet and other dealerships in Texas went to Las Vegas, Nevada last week and enjoyed the recognition of Chevrolet by being awarded the General Motors Premier Elite award.

According to Robbie Turner, son of Robert Turner, “It is awarded to dealerships that take pride in doing what they are supposed to do productively to take care of their community via service and sales. This will be the seventeenth and eighteen time my father has received this award [both for Turner Chevrolet and JK Chevrolet currently] five times here, since we have been here five years. Prior to that there were twelve other times at different locations.”

“This really is a team award that recognizes how well a dealership does in sales, service and aspects of operations. We are privileged to have earned it at this location for all five years. Really it requires the entire team to earn it,” said Sales Manager David Mendez.

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City of Mont Belvieu launches online payment portal

The City of Mont Belvieu is excited to offer our residents a new and convenient way to pay monthly utility bills online. The City’s Online Payment Portal allows residents to register their account to make monthly utility payments fast and easy. In addition, this gives our utility customers a way to view their bill, track monthly consumption, sign up for payment reminders, view their transaction history – both online payments as well as in person and by mail – and a lot more.

“We are so excited to roll out the new online payment portal to the community,” said Administrative Services Director Calyn Wesson. “This is really going to help our residents streamline their monthly payments; one of the top requests our Utility Billing Department gets. And, with all of the other useful features the portal offers, I think it will bring a new level of service to our customers and quickly become a tool our residents will value.”

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HIGHLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: O’Brien wins Terry Davis Award

Goose Creek Superintendent Randal O’Brien received this year’s Terry Davis Award from outgoing president Jim Wadzinski. At right is the new president of the Chamber, Randy Casey.

HIGHLANDS – The Highlands-Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce held their Annual Installation and Community Awards Banquet last Thursday evening, at the Monument Inn. The room was decorated with a Valentine Theme and red table cloths and roses.

There were Community Awards given to six outstanding individuals and organizations that have contributed to the life of the community.

The top award is the Terry Davis Award, and it was given to Goose Creek CISD school superintendent Randal O’Brien for his work in improving the community. A special award was given to Betty Brewer for her 36 years of supporting the Chamber, and service awards were given to outgoing board members Betty Michalsky and Jim Wadzinski.

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Lynchburg Ferry closing for repairs

HARRIS COUNTY – Motorists should prepare for the Lynchburg Ferry to be closed starting Tuesday, February 25th until late 2020 for necessary improvements to preserve the longevity of its operations. During this closure, crews will be reconstructing the approaches and transfer ramps that Lynchburg Ferry Boats use to dock. The $6 million project is a joint venture between Harris County Precinct 2 and the Texas Department of Transportation, who is overseeing construction of the project.

Starting March 1, 2020, the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) will manage operations of the Lynchburg Ferry and Washburn Tunnel. This includes overseeing daily operations, maintenance, capital expenditures, and public inquiries for both facilities. Per the Commissioners Court meeting held on June 25, 2019, these facilities will be transferred to the Toll Road Authority without the imposition of tolls. Drivers should expect no changes to operations when utilizing the Ferry or Tunnel, and no current employees will lose their jobs.

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Arkema trial begins

The flames that evacuated over 200 neighbors after they had flooded.

CROSBY – Three men and the company they work for begin trial next Monday on criminal charges for explosions, fumes and fires related to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

After the deluge of over 40 inches, the flood killed power to the plant 175 tons of chemicals that become volatile if they are not congealed within their chilly temperature range were taken to a location away from other chemicals and allowed to blaze and explode.

A grand jury concluded Arkema was responsible for the release of a toxic cloud over the Crosby community, prosecutors announced last year.

Arkema North America, its CEO Richard Rowe, and plant manager Leslie Comardelle, are named in the indictment. Mike Keough was charged with felony assault for “causing bodily injury” to two sheriff’s deputies because the company withheld information from first responders that was vital to their safety and the safety of others. Keough is now retired.

The company lawyers, Arkema North America’s, are arguing that the series of incidents were an “act of God” but local authorities say it is time that chemical companies were held accountable for decisions that endanger the public and public servants.

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Barge strike due to engine failure

HIGHLANDS – The genius of allowing the placement a busy shipping yard about 100 feet upstream from a bridge that handles much of the incoming traffic to the fourth largest city in the United States and the petrochemical center of the world was not mentioned in the report of the National Transportation Safety Board as to why the I-10 Bridge was struck on Feb. 11.

Instead on that day, according to the report, the Captain of the Linberg Crosby towing vessel was trying to park an empty tank barge at Southwest Shipyard but the towing craft kept going and slammed the barge into a column of the bridge.

The report, however, does make mention of the San Jacinto River being extremely congested and concedes that there was little room for error between the shipyard and the bridge.

The report concludes that a starboard engine failure caused the barge to hit the bridge column. (more…)

Bras for the Cause raises over $180,000

Top Row: Jacob Schexnayder, Aubrey Larkin, Justin Whittredge , John Baptiste, Jeremiah Price, David Mendez, Jason “Altuve” McWhorter, Jeffrey Sparks, Troy Barringer, Herman Eagleton, Shaun Manuel, Hunter Hearn Middle Row: Jesse Sorrells, Jay Beasley, J.R.Towles, Teaque Schexnayder, Chad Ferguson, Cullen Lee, Bottom Row: Bob Ellender,Trevor Zuniga, Chris Noldan

Once again, the Crosby community rallied their overwhelming generosity supporting Bras for the Cause’s 9th Annual event on February 1. The Bras for the Cause Committee is part of the Crosby Fair and Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP). Preliminary reports show over $180,000 was raised at the 9th annual event held at Southern Lace Estates. The Bras for the Cause committee believes that all cancers matter and “Together We Can Make a Difference.” To show that all cancers matter, Southern Lace Estates was decorated with all the cancer awareness colors throughout the room. The ladies of the BFC committee wore colored scarfs to represent a cancer that touched their lives.

Before over 500 guests, 21 male celebrity models danced in the annual “fashion show”, modeling bras of varied themes; Astros favorite, Jose Altuve A.K.A. Jason McWhorter. Crosby Applebees manager, Justin Whittredge stepped on stage as Genie from Aladdin complete with magic lamp. Returning for the second year was Crosby’s own J.R. Towles. This year our former hometown Astro decided he wasn’t going to “Take no bull from cancer,” so he dressed as a bull rider complete with a barrel. New was hometown favorite ball player, Hunter Hearn, drafted by the Phillies last year and a “hit” dressed in gear. Another newbie, Cullen Lee strutted as a peacock shaking feathers. Right off the floor, he was already looking forward to next year. (more…)

Kostka wins Chili raffle

David Kostka learns he was the winner of the new vehicle that Highlands Rotary club raffled off at their Chili Feast last Saturday, as daughter Haley Maxey expresses her joy.

HIGHLANDS – The Rotary Club reported another successful community benefit event, after their 45th Annual Chili Feast last Saturday.

Event chairman Andy Scott said that several hundred people attended the chili luncheon and auctions at St. Jude’s church. The highlight of the event is always the drawing of the winning ticket for a new vehicle, which was won this year by David Kostka of Highlands.

Funds from the event are used by the club for scholarships and to support other youth and community activities through the year. Scott reported that the Chili Feast had 13 major sponsors this year, sold 600 raffle tickets, and raised about $60,000 in net proceeds for its projects.

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San Jacinto River Coalition hears EPA updates

A barge and tugboat pass the Waste Pits in the channel of the San Jacinto River. The barge traffic was one of the topics discussed at this week’s Coalition meeting.

HIGHLANDS – The San Jacinto River Coalition held their monthly meeting last Tuesday night, and director Jackie Young brought the group up to date with information recently received from the EPA.

She said that after not hearing any new information from the agency for several months, they now had emailed her and were planning on holding a Community Advisory Committee meeting in Houston next week. These groups are supposed to be an interface between the public and the EPA on environmental concerns, but have rarely occurred. In spite of its name, the meeting is not open to the public community.

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