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Posts published in February 2021

Winter Storm Uri causes power crisis

Harris County Precinct 2 coats roads in a brine-salt mix clears ice from bridges Tuesday as temperatures were 15 degrees locally.

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY – When the vortex that generally encircles the Arctic wobbled down to touch the US/Canadian border, the state was smacked with paralyzing cold, and far more frost than the electrical infrastructure was able to handle.

Snow invaded like a foreign army on Sunday, Feb. 15. On Monday, northeast Harris County began losing power in a freezing rain that slicked up roadways. At about 6:00 p.m., the power went out throughout the area. Some locations, like Highlands, lost water soon thereafter, and by Wednesday, loss of water and burst water pipes were commonplace, with all the fixings of destroyed sheetrock and indoor furniture. This Tuesday, Highlands remained on a boil water notice.

Most municipal utility districts were not placed on a boil water vigil because their generators kept the power going. About 15 million Texans had to endure the boil drinking water warning. Some local communities still had no water on Friday, at least in isolated pockets due to pipe damage.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott said the situation was “unacceptable,” calling for ERCOT executives to resign. Some legislators announced plans to investigate what led to the loss of power.

AOC raises $5 million in Storm Relief

At a press conference at the Food Bank L-R: Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) & Sylvia Garcia (Allan Jamail photo)

Historic Texas Ice Storm Victims Receive Aid From New York Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – Saturday, February 20, 2021 – Houston’s Food Bank (HFB) President and CEO, Brian Greene welcomed and introduced Congresswomen Sylvia Garcia, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and Sheila Jackson Lee to the facility. He said the HFB is a non-profit organization and the nation’s largest food bank in the United States by size and distribution; providing access to 159 million nutritious meals in 18 counties in southeast Texas.

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia told how New York’s 14th Congressional District Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) contacted her and said she’d like to help Texas’ ice storm victims. Garcia invited AOC to Houston so she could visit the HFB and see how they provide meals year-round to the needed. She said about one in four children in our area are at-risk of hunger. Kids must have consistent nutritious food for the body, mind, and spirit in order to be successful. Garcia told of how AOC began raising funds to aid the ice storm victims. The first day, AOC quickly raised over a million dollars, so she then decided to continue raising donations. On the second day, the day before her trip to Houston, AOC had raised over two million, and Saturday, on the day she arrived here, AOC had raised 3.2 million dollars. After leaving the HFB, Garcia’s took AOC out to some Houston communities to visit and see first-hand how devastating the brutal storm struck millions of people.

Chester Stasney passes

Chester Stasney, Sr. has passed away on February 18. He was 91 years old. Chester is an honored patriarch of Highlands, having served on the ESD fire board for 20 years, a member of St. Jude Catholic Church for 68 years, Houston Rodeo volunteer for 40 years, and a Rotarian honored as a Paul Harris Fellow. The famous chili served at their Chili Feast is named after him.

CHESTER J. STASNEY
October 6, 1929 ~ February 18, 2021 (age 91)

Heaven gained a beautiful angel as Chester J. Stasney, Sr. received his wings on February 18, 2021. He was a wonderful husband, Daddy, and PaPa. Chester was born to Frank and Vera Stasney of Crosby, Texas on October 6, 1929. While drafted into the Army, in 1951, he married his high school sweetheart, Marie Martin. They shared nearly 70 wonderful years of marriage. Chester and Marie moved to Highlands in 1953 and were pillars of the community. He and Marie belonged to St. Jude Catholic Church for 68 years and were among the oldest parishioners. Chester was instrumental in starting the annual church bazaar where he was head cook and his barbecue recipe was regarded as one of the best.

Chester worked for General Tire and Rubber Company followed by Bell Telephone prior to enlisting in the Army in 1950. After his service to our country, he returned to General Tire and Rubber and then Shell Oil Company. He spent the remainder of his career, 30 years, at Harris County Precinct 2. At the time of his retirement, he was administrative superintendent for the road and bridge department.

Chester was a proud member of the Highlands Rotary Club for 54 years, where he was the oldest surviving member. He was a cofounder of the Highlands Rotary Club Chili Feast in 1975 where Chester’s chili recipe became famous. He received the highest honor bestowed by the Rotary Foundation and was named a Paul Harris Fellow.

Catastrophic Winter Storm Power Disruptions

By Mayes Middleton

Millions of Texans were without power for days, with lives lost and many more put at risk. The words anger and frustration do not do justice to what we are experiencing. Over the last several days, I have been working with CenterPoint, Entergy, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to improve our power situation in Galveston and Chambers Counties.

There are two major failures. First, ERCOT has clearly failed. Our state’s electrical grid operator has shown unparalleled incompetence during this critical time and Texans are paying the price. The “R” in “ERCOT” is for “reliability” and that did not happen.

Second, CenterPoint energy’s rolling blackouts were not made in a fair “pro-rata” manner. Instead, Galveston and Chambers Counties have disproportionately suffered. Centerpoint is in control of which areas are turned on and which aren’t. Overall, Galveston County was 88% out and the west side of Chambers County was 76% out, while Harris County was just 16% out at times. Some communities were hit even worse, Galveston and San Leon/Bacliff approached 100% outages. Centerpoint said 1.2 million of their 2.5 million customers were out and that only essential circuits were left on, so the question remains why are so many homes in Harris County on essential circuits and so few in our area?

Community supports ROTARY benefit

Chili Feast Raffle winner Carolyn Mulloy, right, with Rotary Chili Feast chair Jerry Fallin in front of her new truck, at Turner Chevrolet.

Carolyn Mulloy wins Chili Feast Truck

HIGHLANDS – The Rotary Club held a very successful 46th Annual Chili Feast last Saturday, in spite of the logistic problems caused by the pandemic, including the fact that they were unable to serve Chili due to restrictions on large assemblies. For the first time, the event was held at the Methodist Church, with only Rotarians present as the winning tickets were pulled from the rotating hopper.

The Chili Feast Chairman this year was the club’s president-elect, Jerry Fallin, assisted by President Andy Scott and all the other Rotarians selling tickets, sponsorships, and other duties to make the event run smoothly.

Because of the pandemic, and the omission of chili this year, the club had some concern that they might not sell enough tickets to cover their expenses and have additional funds for community projects. The major recipient of support from the Chili Feast is the Rotary Scholarship program, which last year awarded $30,000 to 18 college bound students.

However, the community turned out in great numbers and bought all 700 raffle tickets, which provided the same amount of income as previous years. As well as raffle tickets, their were a number of corporate sponsors that also contributed support.

Chairman Fallin said that they wish to thank all that participated including these sponsors:

Concerns raised about new Construction near Waste Pits

Construction activity along River Road includes piles about to be driven into the water to support a new set of berths for barges. To the left is Meadowbrook Park, and to the right the old Riverside Inn.

CHANNELVIEW – Residents of the area near the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site have become concerned with evidence of new construction that might threaten the neighborhood along River Road, and the waste pits themselves.

The investigation is being headed by Carolyn Stone, who lives in Channelview not far from I-10 and the Waste Pits, and is the director of an environmental action group know as C.H.I.P., or Channelview Health & Improvement Coalition. The group is monitoring progress at the Waste Pits, as well as water and air quality in the Channelview area.

Stone says in a letter widely distributed to government bodies and other interested persons, that the construction that can be observed along river road and on the east bank of the river is proceeding without any evidence of permits from the County engineering Department or the Corps of Engineers, each of which has jurisdiction of this type.

Stone says that she learned that a company known as TimTom Land Holdings LLC is building the barge facility, and plans a restaurant/bar adjacent. She says in her letter, “These two projects lay in a very vulnerable and low land area which is the first area to flood.”

BARBERS HILL HIGH SCHOOL: Racist sign throws school into controversy

MONT BELVIEU – Kids write the ‘darndest’ things on campus walls especially after a series of contentions and uncertainty locally and nationally has drawn taunt racial relations.

Barbers Hill High School had some graffiti painted on the wall that read “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” and some other incidental forms of protest are spoken of as happening not long after the November 3 election. Some parents want something done.

Fresh on the mind of many locals is the controversy of dreadlocks in Barbers Hill after each attending students had signed off on accepting the dress code to attend but two students were determined by the Superintendent to be in violation due to the length of their dreadlocks. The district suspended the two students. The issue went viral.

Rotarians hold Chili Raffle this Saturday

Highlands Rotarians will hold their Chili Feast RAFFLE (no chili this year) on Saturday, Feb. 6. They invite you to help by purchasing a $100 raffle ticket, and win this new 2021 Chevrolet Colorado Pickup truck, or a Camaro. Vehicles furnished by Turner Chevrolet in Crosby. Call 281-426-3558 for ticket information.

HIGHLANDS – Rotarians are busy this week making final arrangements for their annual Chili Feast Raffle. As usual the community has an opportunity to win spectacular prizes, including a new vehicle from Turner Chevrolet, either a Colorado pickup or a Camaro. There are also 16 other valuable prizes. However, because of safety precautions due to the Pandemic, the location has been changed, and no chili will be served. The Rotary club thanks the community for their support and understanding in these circumstances, and helping with this most important community fund raiser.

There will be nothing held at St. Judes Catholic church this year.

New pipeline crosses River, Neighborhoods

Exxon Pipeline Company exacting the line through the neighborhood that connects the Baytown plant to Pasadena and Webster.The pipelines are done using the horizontal directional drill technique, an advanced method for pipeline and utility installations.

LYNCHBURG – ExxonMobil Pipeline Company will install pipelines underneath the San Jacinto River, one at the Houston Ship Channel between here and Baytown, the other north to the IH-10 bridge using a technique called Horizontal Directional Drilling.

Some of this work will include activity on Alexander Island, an uninhabited island within the channel. This project is a part of a $500 million energy infrastructure investment in East Harris County.

According to a press release from ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, “Throughout all phases of planning and installation, work will be conducted with an unwavering commitment to the safety of the community, the environment and our team members. We are proud of the highly skilled team we have assembled for this project, and we encourage you to follow our progress as the project advances at: http://webster.exxonmobilpipeline.com/, where you can ask us a question about our work and hear directly from some of our team members about how they keep safety first.