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Posts published in “Day: August 20, 2020

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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