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Posts published in “News Index – Barbers Hill Dayton PRESS”

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

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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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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.

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Explosion, Fire at Mont Belvieu facility

First on the scene, Mont Belvieu Fire Dept. arrived shortly after 4:50 p.m. to stop the spread of flames from a wellhead said to have begun when a contractor hit a pipeline.

MONT BELVIEU – An explosion Wednesday, July 29, at an industry facility is blamed on a contractor hitting a line.

The Mont Belvieu Fire Department was working with other first responders to control the fire that broke out after the blast. According to Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne the fire was quelled about 7 p.m.

Flames were visible from Interstate-10 shortly after the explosion Wednesday afternoon. Traffic was halted on nearby roads to aid firefighters from Mont Belvieu and surrounding areas battle to flames.

A wellhead burned itself out; the entire plant was not involved in the fire. Roads in the area around the Lone Star NGL Facility in remain closed after an explosion and fire on Wednesday afternoon. (more…)

GC CISD hears Lee H.S. name change

BAYTOWN – Goose Creek Consolidated ISD held a virtual meeting on Monday night, during that meeting the subject of a possible name change of Robert E. Lee High School became a hot button issue.

Hours of meeting was held on-line taking on hearing from two differently opinioned groups considering the current name being from Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Some 450 people tuned in to hear 29 speakers give opinions; 20 being for changing the name and 9 opposed. This comes at a time when a wave of Confederate monument removals across the country have taken place.

The board will meet with the Baytown United Coalition for Change, Baytown Gander Black Alumni Group, Save Robert E. Lee High School Baytown Texas, RAZA Alumni Group and the Baytown Robert E. Lee High School Improvement Allies.

According to Trustee President Jessica Woods, the school board is dealing with a restrictive process by state law amid technical problems with the WebX platform and having received literally hundreds of emails concerning the issue. A lot of the emails did not get read into the public record since they did not ask to be but the trustees did receive them in a binder to review.

“This is such a potentially divisive issue in which the whole community needs to be involved. I think that it is the burden of the taxpayers to fund so why shouldn’t it be their decision? (more…)

SWAT standoff ends in suicide blaze

Firemen watch as house is consumed by fire, possibly set by suspect being sought by police.

CROSBY – A man that law enforcement had sought mental health help for was determined to be dead by suicide and the home reduced to ashes by flames.

At about 6:30 Friday, July 24, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office received a call from family members that a sibling was threatening them with a firearm near the 6800 block of FM 1942, near Bob & Jeans Bar.

Deputies say the man’s sister made the emergency 911 after the two of them got into an altercation, then the suspect pulled out a firearm.

When deputies arrived gunshots rang out and a call was made for SWAT units to assist.

The sister and her father were able to escape from inside the home.

SWAT units’ negotiator tried communicating with the man but did not receive a response. After obtaining a warrant, SWAT units attempted to move closer to the suspect.

Suddenly, they noticed a fire within the upper portion of the home.

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OPINION, LETTER TO EDITOR: Change Robert E. Lee High School’s name, because the Baytown area deserves better

By Randy G. Dunn
July 25, 2020

I strongly support changing the name of Baytown Robert E. Lee High, the school I graduated from. The name needs to be changed because Confederate values and the values of R.E. Lee are not the values of our students and our community as they exist today. Renaming the school is clearly what is best for Baytown and Baytown’s children and school graduates.

The current name of the school honors a man who was a notorious antiAmerican traitor who fought against the United States of America (and lost), failed to honor his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, led many battles that killed tens of thousands of Americans (including huge numbers of American troops), owned many slaves, thought that black people were inferior to whites, and fought for the independence of a rogue nation founded to preserve the institution of slavery for economic gain.

The school never should have been given that disgraceful name. (more…)

City of Dayton to resume COVID-related closures

With the State of Texas and Governor Abbott rolling back the reopening of certain businesses and returning to earlier stage restrictions, and increasing numbers of COVID positive cases in Liberty County, the City of Dayton will resume some of its earlier precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the continuity of city services.

“We’re resuming our previous COVID 19 processes to ensure that city staff remains healthy and ready to serve our residents,” said City Manager Theo Melancon. “While City facilities will mostly close to foot traffic, the services we provide will continue unabated.”

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Two COVID-19 deaths in Chambers County

Chambers County reports its first two COVID19 related deaths.

The first decedent was a male, aged 70 to 80-year-sold. The second decedent was a female, aged 40 to 50-years-old. Both had underlying health conditions.

In order to protect patient privacy, Chambers County Public Health is unable to release any additional information.

“We are deeply saddened to report this news and we offer our deepest heartfelt condolences to the families of these patients during this difficult time,” said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia.

These deaths come after climbing numbers of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Chambers County.

“We continue to see an exponential increase in case counts in Chambers County and throughout the Region,” said Local Health Authority W. Clay Brown, MD.

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“Black Lives Matter” protest held on Eagle Drive in Mont Belvieu

MONT BELVIEU – A “Black Lives Matter” protest began about 1:00 p.m. last Thursday at City Park marching south on Eagle Drive to Barbers Hill Middle School and back.

Protestors numbered about thirty and it looked like someone’s Sunday School Class had made signs, undertaken to march and shout, “Black Lives Matter.”

It seemed that police presence was nearly equal to protesters. Local patrol vehicles were plainly visible and white vehicles with the trademark search lights had uniformed officers in some. There was no police interferance in the protest and it was rumored that the extra police presence was to protect marchers from various locals that held contrary views.

Key issues mentioned by marchers when approached were qualified immunity for police, chokeholds, the use of body cameras and the experience of Deandre Arnold at Barbers Hill High School. Arnold’s dreadlocks were found to be in violation of a school’s code and he was suspended for the violation. The incident drew national attention in light of dreadlocks originated within a religion as a cultural distinction.

When asked if Arnold’s family had agreed to obey school codes, one answer was, “They had no choice but agree to the school codes to go to school. When the Superintendent enforced the codes they instituted a cultural and racial imperative that is unjust.”

Organizer Martha Atonal said, “We have a variety of people here that came to show their support peacefully. Many of the young people are from Barber’s Hill High School with a recent experience, it is very rewarding to see.”

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to express our solidarity with ethnic minorities to stop killing and abusing them,” said another marcher.

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Construction of FM 1409 new extension begins

Front (L-R) County Engineer Cory Taylor and Commissioner Pct. 3 Gary Nelson on the back a Texas Sterling foreman at the groundbreaking of the new construction.

Mont Belvieu, Texas – The FM 1409 extension has officially started construction last Monday, April 6, 2020. The new road will extend FM 1409 from FM 565 in Old River to FM 565 in Cove. The extension will provide a two-lane undivided highway which will eventually cross over 1-10. Phase 1 of the project consists of both FM 1409 from N. FM 565 to IH 10 westbound frontage road and FM 1409 from IH 10 eastbound frontage road S FN 565; which is slated to be completed by November of 2021. Phase 2 consists of the FM 1409 Bridge; which will be out for bid this year. The project manager is Dannenbaum Engineering and Texas Sterling is the contractor.

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