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Posts published in “Day: July 30, 2020

EPA Releases Preliminary Design for Remediation: WASTE PITS REMOVAL WILL HAVE MAJOR IMPACT ON AREA

Removal method of dry waste inside cofferdam

Plan will cause Seven years of noise, dust, truck traffic

HIGHLANDS – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released many volumes of reports from the GHD Consulting Engineering firm, detailing their ideas for how to remove the toxic wastes from the North and South Impoundments along the San Jacinto River, known as the Superfund Site.

The report is extremely long and detailed, consisting of 10 volumes of information for the Northern Impound Site, and Two volumes for the Southern Impound Site. In total, there are many thousands of pages with data, drawings, boring logs, and most important a Work Plan on how to remove the waste material, and how it will impact the environment around the communities of Highlands and Channelview.

The engineers have proposed excavation within “cells” on the Northern site, encompassed by sheet piling, and on the Southern site removal without the piling enclosures. The full extent of the work includes driving piles to form five cofferdams, dewatering the soil, excavating the material, and hauling it away to licensed landfills approximately 100 miles away. They envision one year of preparation, five years of excavation, and one year of clean-up and restoration, for a total of seven years of work.

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HOUSTON & HARRIS COUNTY HEALTH DEPTS: Health order requires no in-person instruction until at least Sept. 8

Harris County, Texas – July 24, 2020, Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health (HCPH) and Local Health Authority for Harris County, and David Persse, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, Local Health Authority for the Houston Health Department, signed a joint public health order requiring all public and nonreligious private schools in Harris County to remain closed to in-person instruction until at least September 8. The start of on-campus instruction and activity may be delayed further based on ongoing monitoring and assessment of public health mitigation conditions.

The order follows the release of a provision from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) permitting schools to delay in-person instruction and a letter sent to local school districts from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Dr. Shah on July 20 strongly urging schools to delay in-person instruction given the ongoing public health crisis. Over the past several weeks, Harris County authorities have consulted with local school officials, parents, teachers, and other public health and safety experts on reopening plans and the most responsible path forward regarding school operations.

“In order for students to be able to learn and grow, they must also be healthy and safe,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “Right now, we continue to see a severe and uncontrolled spread of this virus and it would be self-defeating to reopen schools as usual for in-person instruction. We are all desperate to move on from this crisis and get life back to normal. September 8 is still likely too soon, but the truth is, the fastest way we can all work together to bring this virus under control, the sooner we will be in a position to reopen again for the long term.”

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Backlog of criminal cases imperils justice

By Lewis Spearman

HARRIS COUNTY – Local government is trying to catch up an extreme backlog of cases threatening destruction of the criminal justice system.

While a backlog of felony and misdemeanor cases is nothing new in the county, several factors have made the situation critical. Nearly 81,000 cases are now pending, a doubling of last year.

The criminal courthouse was water damaged by Hurricane Harvey, the COVID-19 pandemic rendered housing inmates, selecting juries, and the halt of trials problematic. Add to that since the 2018 election more than 140 lawyers no longer work for the prosecutor’s office.

District Attorney Kim Ogg discharged some of the lawyers after taking office, others quit citing low pay and the progressive agenda she has initiated. More than a million and a half dollars in compensation and vacation time went with them.

All jury trials and jury selection were stopped by the Supreme Court of Texas due to precautions over COVID-19, that order was extended until September 1. Special permission from regional judges and the state Office of Court Administration can provide the rare exceptions.

A Harris County Commissioners Court meeting invited the Justice Management Institute, (JMI) a nonprofit organization to address the county’s problems over the last five years. Commissioners heard from Thomas Eberly, “inability to handle the volume of felony cases,” causes delays and long pretrial incarceration.

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Governor Abbott waives grade promotion requirements for 2020-2021 STAAR testing

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott announced that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year. Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level. The traditional A-F rating system will remain in place, albeit with certain adjustments due to COVID-19.

Typically, students enrolled in grades 5 and 8 are required to re-take a STAAR test late in the school year, and sometimes again in the summer, if they do not meet grade level when taken during the spring. With this waiver, there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics and reading assessments for the 2020–21 school year. The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades 3-8 assessments.

“As always, our goal is to provide a high quality education for every Texas student,” said Governor Abbott. “This will be a uniquely challenging school year, therefore, this year is about providing students every opportunity to overcome the disruptions caused by COVID-19. By waiving these promotion requirements, we are providing greater flexibility for students and teachers, while at the same time ensuring that Texas students continue to receive a great education — which we will continue to measure with high quality assessments.”

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SWAT standoff ends in suicide blaze

Firemen watch as house is consumed by fire, possibly set by suspect being sought by police.

CROSBY – A man that law enforcement had sought mental health help for was determined to be dead by suicide and the home reduced to ashes by flames.

At about 6:30 Friday, July 24, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office received a call from family members that a sibling was threatening them with a firearm near the 6800 block of FM 1942, near Bob & Jeans Bar.

Deputies say the man’s sister made the emergency 911 after the two of them got into an altercation, then the suspect pulled out a firearm.

When deputies arrived gunshots rang out and a call was made for SWAT units to assist.

The sister and her father were able to escape from inside the home.

SWAT units’ negotiator tried communicating with the man but did not receive a response. After obtaining a warrant, SWAT units attempted to move closer to the suspect.

Suddenly, they noticed a fire within the upper portion of the home.

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OPINION, LETTER TO EDITOR: Change Robert E. Lee High School’s name, because the Baytown area deserves better

By Randy G. Dunn
July 25, 2020

I strongly support changing the name of Baytown Robert E. Lee High, the school I graduated from. The name needs to be changed because Confederate values and the values of R.E. Lee are not the values of our students and our community as they exist today. Renaming the school is clearly what is best for Baytown and Baytown’s children and school graduates.

The current name of the school honors a man who was a notorious antiAmerican traitor who fought against the United States of America (and lost), failed to honor his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, led many battles that killed tens of thousands of Americans (including huge numbers of American troops), owned many slaves, thought that black people were inferior to whites, and fought for the independence of a rogue nation founded to preserve the institution of slavery for economic gain.

The school never should have been given that disgraceful name. (more…)