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Posts published in “Day: August 13, 2020

Arkema motions charge misconduct

HOUSTON – When the Arkema criminal trial resumed weeks ago in the new setting, second floor of NRG Arena, both prosecution and defense filed motions charging each other with legal misconduct; prosecutors alleged jury tampering, the defense alleging disregard for disclosure obligations and violation of due process.

Just as flood waters receded, as Crosby residents were beginning to recover from Hurricane Harvey in late August of 2017, US 90 was shut down and over 200 residents were evacuated from their homes because it was learned that there could soon be an explosion at Arkema Chemical Plant. Trailers containing chemicals that had lost their refrigeration had reached critical temperatures and were separated from others to a nearby warehouse. When the explosion happened, fumes were emitted that hospitalized more than twenty people including first responders.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg took the unusual step to bring criminal charges against certain decision makers for Arkema. Alleging that Arkema acted recklessly through a “‘gross deviation’ from objective standards of conduct within the chemical manufacturing community.”

Commercial dumping hits Newport Elementary

So what should a person do if they see illegal dumping in their neighborhood? Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen said don’t confront anyone, but get pictures and video if possible. It is of interest if anyone has an outside camera that might have photographed near the road that winds back into the woods near the school that parents wait on to allow children to depart and reboard. Report environmental crimes in Harris County by calling 832-927-1567.

Private trash haulers saving a buck for themselves don’t want to pay commercial landfills to handle their loads of garbage, so often unincorporated areas often find illegal commercial dumping grounds like on the drop off road to Newport Elementary, here, discovered last Friday.

Such illegal commercial dumping cost Crosby Independent School District their recycling revenue a couple of years ago. At the middle school in Crosby the recycle bids were frequently filled not with paper (the only legal entry) but with buckets, plastic, pallets and office waste was thrown. The revenue generated by recycling was to be used for extra curricular expenses.

Superintendent Davis had to curtail the program as the dumping had created an expense when Crosby needed it least.

THEA continues virtual Environmental meetings


HIGHLANDS – The monthly meeting of the San Jacinto River Coalition, and THEA, continue to be held as a virtual meeting on the internet, due to the Pandemic closing all of the available community centers.

Jackie Young Medcalf held the August meeting last Tuesday, and reviewed the significant material that had recently been released by the EPA. This is a series of reports, known as the 30% Remedial Design, numbering about 12 books and 30,000 or more pages.

Her review was from the viewpoint of how the toxic waste will be remediated, how it is characterized for disposal in a landfill, and how it will be safely disposed of and stored for perpetuity.

Jackie also reported that Gary Baumgarten of the Dallas EPA had made a presentation to the CAC, or Community Advisory Council via Zoom, to explain the details of the 30% Remedial Design.

One of the important revelations of the study, is that due to the toxic waste being deeper than originally assumed, much more material will have to be removed, and the project is now projected to take 7 years, instead of the original 2 to 3 years. The new quantity is calculated to be 210,000 cubic yards, 30% more than the original figure of 162,000 c.y.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Garcia brings Covid-19 Testing with rapid results

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia issued the following statement regarding Covid-19 Testing:

“I understand there are many individuals who want and need to get tested for Covid-19, but lack access or ability to travel to a designated site. To meet this critical need, I’ve partner with UHPHealth to offer income based FREE testing with rapid results at two of our community centers.

“North East Community and East Harris County Activity Center are now offering blood and nasal swab testing from 8 AM to 4 PM Monday to Saturday. The test is offered for free for those who qualify and self pay is also available. Antibodies tests are being offered and results are available within ten minutes. Antibody testing determines whether you had COVID-19 in the past and now have antibodies against the virus.”

Pct 1 renames Robert E. Lee Street as “Unison” Street

Pct. 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis helps change the Street Sign in East Harris County, from Robert E. Lee Street to Unison Street.

Harris County Completes the Final Step in Renaming Street that had a Confederate Name

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and Community Leaders witnessed the re-naming of Road from “Robert E. Lee” to “Unison.”

Pct. 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis had the following remarks:

“If our county is going to address systemic racism in our past and present, we cannot let symbols of racism and hatred continue to fill our public spaces. That is why on Wednesday, August 5, Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis and community leaders observed workers as they installed Unison street signs on a road formerly named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“Precinct One requested Harris County Engineering Department change the name because who and what we choose to honor publicly should reflect our shared values. Symbols of the Confederacy and its goal of maintaining the institution of slavery have no place on Harris County roads.”

Barbers Hill ISD set to open classes Aug. 17 amidst controversy and concern

GREG POOLE, BHISD Superintendent

CHAMBERS COUNTY – Parents in the Barbers Hill school district seem ready to send their children back to school, in spite of the threat of the COVID-19 virus rampant in the state.

Many parents are comfortable with the in-person option but the issue is causing tension between the superintendent and the Chambers County Public Health Department.

The department on Wednesday August 5th posted a letter saying it had “urged” local school boards to “take further action to protect their staff and students by delaying in-person instruction until September 8th at the earliest.”

Classes are scheduled to begin August 19 with parents having the option of starting kids online or at home, per TEA guidelines.

“With them giving the option to home school or send the kids to school, I think that eliminates a lot of the number of kids in school, which makes it easier for them to social distance,” said one parent.

The advisory applied to all school districts in Chambers County, but they have all chosen to open before the suggested date of September 8.

Barbers Hill teachers actually reported for training this week, on Monday August 10.

Other Chambers County districts include Anahuac, who will start on Wednesday August 13, and East Chambers starting on Monday August 17.

Limited visits to nursing homes now okay

HHSC to Allow Limited Visitation at Nursing Facilities and Long-Term Care Facilities State Enhances Certain Emergency Safety Rules

AUSTIN –The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) today announced limited visitation rules for nursing facilities and long-term care facilities. HHSC is also issuing enhanced emergency rules requiring additional actions by nursing facilities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are constantly assessing what actions are necessary to keep residents and staff safe in these facilities,” said Phil Wilson, Executive Commissioner, Texas HHSC. “By following these procedures and rules, facilities can more effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help us achieve our shared goal of reuniting residents with their families and friends.”

“Access to family and loved ones is an important part of every resident’s health and well-being, which is why this policy shift is a move in the right direction for some of our most fragile Texans,” said Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (SD18), Chair, Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

“Today’s announcement is a critical first step for every person in a longterm care facility and their loved ones,” said Rep. James Frank (HD-69), Chair, Texas House Committee on Human Services. “This decision underscores that state leaders recognize the need to balance the emotional and physical health impacts of isolation against the serious dangers that COVID poses to these vulnerable Texans.”

TO THE EDITOR: We need to change the name to reflect our values and culture

BAYTOWN – Opinions vary widely on whether the Robert E. Lee High School name should be changed. Below is one person’s opinion, and you are invited to send us yours for possible publication. The Goose Creek school board will consider this at their next meeting in September, and may make a decision at that time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter regarding the name change of Robert E. Lee. I was born and raised in Baytown, as was my father and grandparents. I went to Lee and graduated in 1994. I am in support of changing the school’s name to something that better embodies who we are as Baytownians. I have a Master’s Degree in United States History and teach at Austin Community College. I say that because I feel I have the education and expertise to speak on the issue of who Robert E. Lee was, what he stood for, and why the school’s name is hurtful to African Americans in our community. Please understand that this is not a “new” issue. People have been pushing to change the name for decades, and we have failed to hear them for decades. We are better than that.