Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in August 2020

HURRICANE LAURA HEADS FOR TEXAS

This map from the National Weather Service shows the likely path of Hurricane Laura, and how it is gaining strength as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to be a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of at least 75 mph with gusts to 115 mph. The expected landfall is the border between Texas and Louisiana, but the cone of possibility indicates Houston may feel some or all of the effects of the storm.

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference at the Alternate State Operations Center in Austin where he provided an update on the state’s response to Hurricane Laura. This hurricane is expected to bring heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and storm surge. He announced that he has added 36 counties to his State Disaster Declaration due to the threat of severe rain, wind, and flooding.

During the press conference, Governor Abbott announced that reception centers in San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin are open. The state is providing buses to transport Texans that are evacuating. There are also over 225,000 hotel rooms available across the state to provide shelter to evacuees. A full list of mandatory and voluntary evacuations can be found on the Texas Hurricane Center web page. Governor Abbott urged Texans to take action now to protect themselves and their property.

“Hurricane Laura is rapidly intensifying and poses a major threat to communities in Southeast Texas and along the coast,” said Governor Abbott. “Texans in the path of this storm should waste no time preparing for the impact of Hurricane Laura and take immediate action to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I urge our Southeast and coastal communities to heed the guidance of local officials, follow evacuation orders, and remain vigilant as we brace for the impact of Hurricane Laura. The State of Texas will continue to monitor this storm and provide the resources needed to keep Texans safe.”

(more…)

Barge fleet gets ready for hurricane

Barges of the San Jacinto River Fleet are seen in the river to the north of the I-10 bridge. In the distance past the barges is the navigation channel for the river, and beyond that, the trees and shoreline of Highlands.

HARRIS COUNTY – The following information has been received from the executive vice president of the San Jacinto River Fleet, who own or manage most of the barges in the San Jacinto River near the I-10 bridge.

August 24, 2020

COAST GUARD SECTOR HOUSTON-GALVESTON MARINE SAFETY INFORMATION BULLETIN 33-20

The San Jacinto River Fleet, L.L.C. (SJRF) has implemented the following additional precautions regarding our Emergency Response Procedures 5.080 HURRICANE 08/24/ 2020.

1. Tier Three and Four have been temporarily closed for the USCG subject weather events.

2. Four push-boats will be on station in the fleet monitoring moorings.

3. Senior Management will be on-site for the duration of the weather events.

We have taken the same steps that were taken during the Hurricane Harvey weather event where we experienced 28′ +/- flood waters above normal, where we experienced no barge break aways or problems.

(more…)

Pct. 2 wants input on Parks & Trails

Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia

PCT. 2 HARRIS COUNTY – Commissioner Adrian Garcia plans to hold a Zoom public meeting next Monday night, if hurricane weather allows. He is interested in the public’s ideas for further development of the precinct’s park system.

You can join him for the virtual kick-off of the Precinct 2 Parks & Trail Plan! The goal of the project is to develop a long-term vision and a near-term plan for priority investments in parks and trails based on YOUR FEEDBACK!

For more information on this project, visit: https:// www.pct2parksandtrails.com/

(more…)

Judge rules Barbers Hill ISD’s dress code discriminatory after 2 Black students suspended over length of dreadlocks

KADEN BRADFORD & DE’ANDRE ARNOLD

Barbers Hill ISD Student Hair Controversy

HOUSTON – After three days of consideration, a judge ruled Monday night that the Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code is discriminatory after two Black students were suspended over the length of their dreadlocks.

A U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas made the ruling Monday night.

According to court records, “The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion over the three days spanning July 22, 2020, through July 24, 2020. After careful consideration of the parties’ written submissions, the extensive evidentiary record developed at the hearing, and the other filings in the case, K.B.‘s motion is granted.”

The lawsuit was filed after Deandre Arnold, a former Barbers Hill High School student, was suspended his senior year over the length of his hair. Arnold, his mother and other family members, filed the lawsuit against the district, alleging the following causes of action: intentional race discrimination, intentional race discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation in violation of the First Amendment and several other violations under the U.S. Constitutional Amendment.

How the dreadlock controversy began

(more…)

Tax increase scare much ado about little

County Commissioners deliberate as Sam Houston watches over them. Currently Commissioner’s Court is being held virtually, not in person.

County, ESD considering minimum additional revenue needs

By LEWIS SPEARMAN

HARRIS COUNTY – It looks like property owners have dodged a tax increase due to the current COVID -19 pandemic.

Last week talk throughout the northeast areas was of increased property taxes. However it seems this was mostly based on a review of budgets and not any decisions by the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.

Locally in Crosby, talk of a 41% property tax increase for local emergency services turned out to be discussion on August 20 and August 24 where the ESD is likely to adopt the same rate, only with several more people paying it.

It was Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia that mentioned in Harris County Commissioner Court that the county could look at an 8% property tax increase but says, “There is zero chance that during a pandemic and an economic crisis an 8% tax increase would be proposed or passed.”

According to Judge Lina Hidalgo “There is no way could we go to 8%, but we do have to make sure how we’re going to be able to afford the additional services, the additional support that people are going to need.”

Republicans Steve Radack and Jack Cagle credit themselves with blocking the tax increase by being absent from the court’s meeting.

That revenue debate with no increase could mean a reduction in services and even layoffs for the county. Commissioner’s Court is going to wait until the end of this month to decide the economic measures they will take after the Harris County Appraisal District provides a certified roll.

It seems that everyone is dreading tough times next year and attempting to deal with tougher legislation that come to be in the last legislative session in Austin.

(more…)

County rent assistance available

 

Commissioners vote $25 million; application info here

Harris County, Texas – Friday, August 14, 2020, The Harris County Commissioners and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo unanimously approved a $15 million emergency rental assistance program to help individuals in Harris County suffering economic hardships due to the effects of COVID-19. Due to the overwhelming demand for rental assistance in Harris County, Judge Hidalgo and the Commissioners subsequently increased the amount of assistance to be provided through this program to $25 million.

“Our community continues to suffer great economic damage resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people unable to cover basic necessities, including rent,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “This program will bring relief to those across our region who so desperately need it, allowing families to stay in their homes while addressing the collateral impact on property owners.”

The program will assist applicants with rent and associated expenses for payments and/or late fees occurring after April 1, 2020. Selected applicants will be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $1,200 in assistance. Landlord enrollment will begin on August 17th, with tenant applications opening for a 7-day period beginning August 24th. Applications will be available online at www.harriscountyrenthelp.org, and assistance will be available by phone.

(more…)

THEA protests for stronger EPA remediation

Jackie Medcalf and protestors at the Waste Management Headquarters in Houston

Group wants higher standards for San Jacinto River Waste Pits

Houston, TX – August 6, 2020 – As part of the ongoing fight to remediate the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Jackie Young Medcalf of THEA is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to hold polluters to a higher standard of accountability through ensuring more integrity in the remediation process. On Thursday, August 6 at 10am a press conference was held at Waste Management Headquarters, and it highlighted the recent discovery of how omitted sample data and a skewed site analysis have slanted the outlook towards the site’s remediation and ultimately the disposal of the toxic waste material.

The Waste Pits Superfund Site is the result of dioxin and PCB contaminated paper mill waste that was disposed of along the San Jacinto River in the 1960s. The Waste Pits presented such a great danger to the environment and public health, they were listed for clean-up under the Federal Superfund program in 2008. Recently, the EPA released documents from the responsible parties consultants and our review of the 30,000+ pages of technical reports found that the samples collected for analysis of dioxin disposal classification were almost all collected from areas known to contain no dioxins, and that the consultants requested data be omitted from the lab reports. Joint community, advocate and governmental efforts have made profound progress in protecting aquatic life and public health within the region. However, now there is an overwhelming need for sampling and analysis which address all contaminants of concern and the EPA’s oversight to ensure this process is done with integrity.

What is at Stake?

The longer the waste remains the greater the potential for increased risks of cancer and autoimmune diseases among locals and further contamination to the environment. (more…)

Foundation takes over control of Battleship Texas

Members of the BTF (Battleship Texas Foundation) celebrate taking control of the ship.

Prepares move to shipyard for repairs

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Transfers Operational Control of the Battleship Texas to the Battleship Texas Foundation

HOUSTON – Effective August 1, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has transferred operations of the Battleship Texas to the Battleship Texas Foundation (BTF).

In 2019, the BTF and TPWD entered a memorandum of understanding/lease (MOU) with TPWD whereby the BTF would operate and maintain the Battleship TEXAS for TPWD and the State of Texas. Under terms of the MOU between these two long standing partners, the operational control is transferred via a 99-year lease to the Foundation.

The Texas has been closed to the public since August of 2019 to allow preparations for her transport to a shipyard for extensive restoration.

Currently, the BTF and TPWD are preparing the ship for transportation to a shipyard where her hull will be replaced from the waterline down and repainted, along with other necessary repairs and improvements. The ship is tentatively scheduled to depart her current berth between November-December 2020 and be in the shipyard for a period of approximately 12 months. Once the battleship leaves the shipyard, we anticipate the ship arriving in the new berth around January-February 2022. Following a period to prepare the ship for reopening, the plan is to have it receiving visitors by 1st Quarter 2022.

(more…)

Crosby ISD sets up wi-fi in virtual back-to-school mode

On August 13 the first day of back to school was virtual for the students although teachers had to attend to put their classroom performances online. Students started virtual back to school and that process was aided by Crosby ISD offering “Park N’ Learn” or constant, secure WiFi access in the parking lots of campuses throughout the district using their laptops and the same accounts they would use in actual class.

(more…)

Dayton Man charged with shooting 5, Killing 3

Liberty County Sheriff’s deputies and Dayton police investigating one of the shooting scenes on County Road 4901.

DAYTON – A man is being charged with capital murder for shooting five people at three successive scenes in the vicinity of County Road 4901 that all began about 11:00 a.m., on Monday August 17.

Michael Wettstein, 60, that lives in a nearby cul-de-sac is jailed without bond pending arraignment for capital murder. He was said to have a swastika drawn on his forehead when taken into custody.

Michael Wettstein

According to Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Captain Ken DeFoor a lengthy investigation will be necessary to sort out many of the details. He also acknowledged the help of Dayton Police Department when taking Wettstein into custody.

Early on, reports indicated that Wettstein had telephoned the Sheriff’s office and claimed responsibility for the shooting. But when deputies arrived at the residence he was found hiding in the woods. He surrendered to officers without incident.

(more…)

SMALL TAXING UNIT NOTICE

The Harris County Emergency Services District #14 will hold a meeting at the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department, 2301 E Wallisville Rd, Highlands, TX 77562 at 12 noon, on Monday, August 24, 2020, to consider adopting a tax rate for tax year 2020. The public may attend. The proposed tax rate is 0.0500 per $100 of value.

No change in the tax rate is planned.

The proposed tax rate for the 2020 tax year is the same rate of 0.0500 per $ 100 the value that has always been in place for ESD#14 since its formation in 1999.