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Posts published in February 2022

Highlands Chamber holds Awards Banquet

HIGHLANDS/LYNCHBURG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, being sworn into office by Judge Lucia Bates, right. Above, L to R, Gary Guy, Ana Clark,Weston Cotten, Betty Brewer, Randy Casey, Sarah Davis, Patrick Courtney, Kathy Jaeger, Sherry Lee, LaNelle McKay, Kathryn Saenger, John Vann. (Not pictured, Gretchen Knowles, Teah Rice, and Jaime Ruiz). (MORE PHOTOS PAGE 2)

Ryan Hotchkiss named Terry Davis Award recipient

HIGHLANDS – A large crowd of Highlands/Lynchburg Chamber members and guests assembled last Thursday evening, Feb. 17, at Monument Inn in LaPorte for the Annual Installation Banquet and Community Awards presentations.

Chamber executive director Jessica Woods introduced guests and later the awards to outstanding citizens of the community.

In her opening remarks, she mentioned that Highlands is a “small but uniquely positioned community, and the struggle for our identity is real!” She continued, “East Harris County is experiencing growth at an unprecedented rate, and we are reaping the benefits of that growth… our primary concern is creating and maintaining an environment for positive social and economic growth through proactive leadership.”

Houston Mayor announces $44 million “One Safe Houston”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces “One Safe Houston” at a news conference last week.

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced “One Safe Houston: the Mayor’s Public Safety Initiative to Combat Violent Crime,” which focuses on four key areas:

–Violence Reduction and Crime Prevention

–Crisis Intervention, Response and Recovery

–Youth Outreach Opportunities

–Key Community Partnerships.

The plan outlines a commitment to put more officers on the streets through overtime and cadet classes and creates a $1 million gun buyback program. It also provides $1.5 million in additional funding to the Houston Forensic Science Center to address backlogs and funds domestic violence programs with an additional $3 million to provide more services for survivors and prevention efforts.

“This plan represents a holistic approach to combatting violent crime on the streets while being responsive to the needs of victims and building healthier communities in the process,” said Mayor Turner. “Law enforcement efforts alone will not sufficiently address the symptoms of crime. We are faced with a public health crisis, and it will require all of us, working together to overcome it.”

Mayor Turner also announced:

Harris County allocates $50mil for “Clean Streets, Safe Neighborhoods”

Judge Lina Hidalgo with Sheriff’s deputies to announce the new “Clean Streets, Safe Neighborhoods” program.

HARRIS COUNTY – County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia announced a Major Crime Prevention and Neighborhood Safety Initiative. The Proposed $50 million smart on crime program is to target areas with high rates of violent crime driven by gun violence.

Judge Lina Hidalgo revealed details of the new $50 million proposal to prevent violent crime and improve neighborhood safety across Harris County. The new initiative will target distressed county neighborhoods where blight and neglect are driving violent crime. The program will improve street lighting, sidewalks, and visibility in residential areas, address longstanding blighted and abandoned structures, restore vacant lots, and implement other improvements shown to enhance public safety.

During Judge Hidalgo’s tenure, commissioners court has increased the law enforcement budgets for every law enforcement agency, including the district attorney’s office, by 13% since 2019. This brings the total funding for law enforcement in fiscal year 2022 alone to $966 million.

Early Voting for Primary Feb. 14 to 25

HARRIS COUNTY – Election season for 2022 kicks off with early voting for the primary races in crucial positions in Harris County starting Monday, Feb. 14. Early voting ends on Friday, Feb. 25 and Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 1.

Among the primary races catching much of the attention are the Harris County judge race and the Pct. 2 commissioner race. Lina Hidalgo is the incumbent Harris County Judge but faces five opponents in the primary race. One of the Democratic challengers is Georgia D. Provost, a former Houston City Council candidate, and Erica Davis Constable Alan Rosen’s chief of staff. Other Democrats are Maria Garcia, Ahmad R. “Robbeto” Hassan, and Kevin Howard, according to the Texas Secretary of State Election Information page at https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/index.shtml.

Primary season underway with Pct. 2 Candidate Forum

By Allan Jamail

February 1, 2022 at The Garden Houston, located at 12001 Beamer Road in the Sagemont Subdivision of Houston, the Sagemont Civic Club conducted a Precinct 2 County Commissioners candidate forum. The event was well attended by about 200 citizens, mostly voters of Harris County Precinct 2.

Eight candidates were invited for the 7 pm forum, but only five attended. The candidates are on their respective party’s March 1st Primary Ballot. On the ballot are five Republican and three Democrats. Democrats present were George Risner (Justice of the Peace Precinct 2) and Gary Harrison (former Harris County Deputy Sheriff). Republicans present were Richard Vega, Jack Morman (former county commissioner), and John Manlove (former Pasadena mayor).

Those absent were: Democrat Precinct 2 County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, and Republicans Jerry Mouton, and Daniel Jason. Kay Barbour, the president of the Sagemont Civic Club and Master of Ceremonies, said that both Commissioner Adrian Garcia and Jerry Mouton did answer a questionnaire and she interviewed them in a recorded session. Candidate Daniel Jason did not reply to the invitation.

In the beginning, candidates were given equal time to introduce themselves. At the close, they were given the time as to state why they thought voters should vote for them.

The candidates were asked questions that civic club members had sent in to the club in advance. After those, then questions from the audience were allowed.

Chambers County to Decrease Taxes for Senior Citizens

CHAMBERS COUNTY, TEXAS – Chambers County Commissioners Court voted to increase the value of property tax exemption provided to senior citizens, effectively lowering the total amount that these residents pay each year.

The initiative, spearheaded by Chambers County residents and presented to Court by Commissioners Billy Combs and Tommy Hammond, increases the taxation threshold from the current rate of 20 percent plus $60 thousand. The 20 percent rate discount rate is set by the state and cannot be adjusted, so Commissioners Court elected to increase the reduction set by the County to $200 thousand.

To simplify, property owners who are over the age of 65 are taxed only on the value of their property that exceeds the threshold set by Commissioners Court. This means that at the new discount, seniors who own property valued at $250 thousand or less would pay zero dollars in taxes to the County. Those seniors whose property is valued at greater than $250 thousand will be taxed only on the value exceeding that threshold. A $250K home would be evaluated in the following manner: $250,000 – (20 percent of $250,000 – in this case $50,000) – $200,000 = 0. In this scenario, Chambers County would assess $0 tax.

“I think this is a wonderful idea and I support it completely,” said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia. “This is a great way to put money back in the pockets of Chambers County residents and will help increase the financial security of senior citizens.”

Jeremy Rosenkranz wins Rotary raffle

Rotary Club president Jerry Fallin and Raffle winner Jeremy Rosenkranz with the 2022 Chevrolet Trailblazer that was the top prize in the Chili Feast raffle. MORE PHOTOS PAGE 7.

HIGHLANDS – The Rotary Club held their 47th annual Chili Feast, Raffle and Auction last Saturday, and in spite of cold weather and the pandemic, a large crowd turned out at St. Jude’s social hall, and made the event a success.

Chili Feast chairman Andy Scott said proceeds were comparable to previous years, and thanked all the sponsors and the public for their support.

The top prize in the raffle drawing, a 2022 SUV from Turner Chevrolet, was won by Highlands businessman Jeremy Rosenkranz. All 700 raffle tickets were sold, thanks to a last minute purchase by a consortium of Bryan Teel, Don Hill, and David Kostka. The club thanked them for their extra effort and support. Preliminary figures indicate the event raised about $93,000, and after expenses including the cost of the top prize, the club expects to be able to use the remaining monies for scholarships and community projects. Last year the club awarded $32,000 in scholarships to 18 graduating seniors.

Crosby supports “Bras for the Cause” 2022

Models in the Group Photo are: Justin Whittridge, Tony Guthmiller, Clay Stephens, Shaun Manuel, Jason McWhorter, Troy Reuter, Jeremiah Price, Aubrey Larkin, Adam Notgrass, Andrew Tarpinian, Matthew Whitworth, Jason Lewis, Quentin Klaus, Jason Cornelison, Jacob Massengale, Jacob Schexnayder, Teague Schexnayder. MORE PHOTOS PAGE 2

Raises $180,000 for cancer patients

The Crosby Community came out loud and strong on Saturday, January 29th at the Crosby American Legion Hall to support Bras for the Cause. After skipping last year, due to COVID, Bras for the Cause celebrated their tenth anniversary in grand style. The black and gold decorations and balloons gave the hall a celebratory feel….. and celebrate we did!

With 17 celebrity models, ranging from Beth Dutton (Aubrey Larkin), Tiger King (Shaun Manuel), Wonder Woman (Matthew Whitworth), and a “Sexy Nurse” (Jacob Massengale), the crowd enjoyed a “star studded” fashion show. Teague (Birthday Cake) and Jacob (Alligator) Schexnayder, once again rounded out the live auction with a whopping $30,000 total donation for their dancing abilities and bras!

The silent auction provided goods and services donated by so many businesses and individuals from the local community. It was a record breaking night for proceeds from the silent auction.

Houston offers $50 to $1000 incentives to get vaccinated

HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department is launching a new program to encourage more Houstonians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The 6- week initiative will award 12 people $1,000 gift cards and provide $50 gift cards to hundreds of additional people.

People who get their first dose or booster shot at eligible health department vaccination sites between January 29 and March 10, 2022, will be entered into drawings for $1,000 gift cards. Two $1,000 winners will be selected on Fridays starting February 4 for a total of 12 winners over six weeks.

Fixed vaccination sites eligible for the $1,000 incentive program are:

Dealing with COVID-19 in a New Year

County Connection by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

A new year is a time for new beginnings, and I know we are all ready to start fresh. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic has not slowed down over the holidays. With the emergence of the Omicron strain fueling the fire, a new wave of infections are once again raising our numbers. Hospitalizations are slowly rising and approaching problematic levels, infections are spreading rapidly across our County, and this week our numbers have pushed our threat level back to red. The possible exposures from travel, holiday celebrations, and gatherings on top of the return of children to school this week could trigger a very difficult month ahead in terms of hospitalizations and the strain on our medical system. It is clear that we will be living with this virus indefinitely.

But here in Harris County we are not giving in – we have more tools available and more knowledge on this virus than at any previous point during this pandemic. And we know that vaccinations are the best protection for you and your family against this virus. If there has ever been a wake up call to get vaccinated and get your booster, that time is now. You can find all the information you need on how and where to get vaccinated and your booster at readyharris.org.