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Posts published in “News Index – Front Page”

Eagle Scout project will improve Heritage Park

LOGAN LOPEZ presents his project at a recent Rotary luncheon.

HIGHLANDS – Logan Lopez, a Boy Scout with Troop 107, plans two projects in the Heritage Park which will earn him an Eagle Scout rank, and a Quartermaster rank with the Sea Scouts.

Lopez belongs to both groups of scouts in the area. Troop 107 is chartered and sponsored by the Rotary Club. The Scoutmaster is Michael Dean.

Lopez’s project for Eagle Scout is to build a wooden fence along the railroad right-of-way, to provide safety for park users and to keep them away from the frequent trains. Lopez says the wall will be built from prefab sections from Home Depot, and be 4 foot high and 120 feet long.

Lopez’s Quartermaster project is to restore the Gazebo in the park to like-new condition. It has aged and been painted with graffiti. He plans to sand blast the surface and re-stain it, and add a crushed granite base and three flower beds to the arrangement.

Lopez has raised $1800 toward the project, but says he is looking for another $2400 to pay for the improvements.

Lopez plans to start the work this Saturday, November 9th, and welcomes anyone who would like to come to the park and help.

He said that with the help of other scouts, the flagpole in the park will also be put back into working condition. At present it is not able to hoist a flag.

Lopez says that scouting helps a boy or girl develop leadership skills, self confidence, and an enjoyment of the outdoors.

There have been five Eagle Scouts in Troop 107 in recent times. Boys Scouts can be as old as 18, and Sea Scouts to 21.

After graduating from high school, Lopez plans on entering the Navy, and hopes to train as a Navy Seal. This would be an apt progression from scouting and sea scouting, he feels.

Bids for Internet Access and Internal Connections

Barbers Hill ISD is requesting bids for Internet Access and Internal Connections. Additional information is available at www.crwconsulting.com/rfp. Bids will be opened 1/4/18 at 2:00 pm at the BHISD Technology Building. Thank you for your help, Angela Reid 281-576-2221 x1288 areid@bhisd.net

Low turnout wins big in elections

HARRIS COUNTY – A bunch of money was spent to hold elections that determine the future of the area locally and only a stalwart few cast a ballot. It looks as if apathy is the overwhelming winner in the off candidate elections.

Consider that there are 15,730 registered voters in Crosby and only 1,245 turned out to determine one of the most important bonds issues for making Crosby ISD’s future and one that could save tax payers 2¢ per $100 valuation. Actually it is 30 something votes less than the last bond election. As it went, 7.95% of voters turned out to determine if the district will sell bonds to match $109,500,000 for schools, land, buses and levy of tax payment.

So, 586 voted for the bond and 358 voted against it in the entire school district. At least 62% of the voters thought it was a good deal.

2017 also hosted a vote to determine if Crosby Municipal Utility District could levy a tax, only 111 votes were cast. Yes they can, say 61 voters and no was only 50 votes. That is 54.95% for and 45.05% against.

This year the legislature worked tirelessly to produce seven propositions. Some in detail seemed silly, others are a half step towards doing the right thing.

Voters took them seriously statewide. Proposition One exempted the partially disabled veteran or surviving spouse of one from property taxes for a residence homestead that was donated the property by a charitable organization or sold for less than market value. The proposition harmonized provisions in the Texas Constitution. It passed 110,111 to 15,776 or 87.47% to 12.53%.

Proposition 2- was about making stabilizing home equity loans. It was very serious and about needed clarification of home equity loans. It passed 96,812 to 27,981.

Proposition 3 limited the time an appointee could hold office after his term of office was concluded. It was worded like it was about term limits but had nothing whatever to do with it. It passed 96,812 to 27,981 or 77.58 % to 22.42%.

Proposition 4 allows the legislature to set a waiting period before the court may enter a judgement holding a statue unconstitutional. This passed 82,221 to 40,390.

Proposition 5 allows professional sports teams to have their charitable foundations to host raffles. It passed 81,195 to 39,785.

Proposition 6 provides an exemption from property taxes to surviving spouses of first responders killed or fatally wounded in the line of duty. But if only crippled they need to pay in full. It passed 106,323 to 18,683.

The least popular proposition was Proposition 7. It allows financial institutions to award prizes by lot to promote savings. It passed 80,073 to 42,534 or 65.31% to 34.69%.

More turn out to vote for representatives generally, to be held in two years.

EHRMC Hospital closed permanently

HOUSTON –– East Houston RMC has decided to permanently close its facility on I-10 near Uvalde, due to repeated damage from flooding of Greens Bayou.

On November 3, 2017 the following statement was issued by Troy Villarreal, president of HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division:

“HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division is announcing today that East Houston Regional Medical Center, a campus of Bayshore Medical Center, will not reopen due to its history of flooding as well as recent extensive damage from Hurricane Harvey.

The hospital has been closed since all patients and staff were moved to safety two days before Harvey made landfall. Although it is equipped with flood gates designed to withstand three feet of water, East Houston Regional Medical Center took nearly six feet of water during the storm.

The hospital is located in a low lying area, and prior to Harvey, was severely damaged by flood waters in 2001 by Tropical Storm Allison as well as by Hurricane Ike in 2008. We considered potential options to continue to treat patients at the facility; however, given this history and the likelihood of future flooding problems, we determined that the most prudent course is to close the facility. We have a long history of caring for the East Harris County community, and through nearby Bayshore Medical Center and Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, we will continue to do so.

Physicians credentialed at East Houston Regional Medical Center have privileges to practice medicine at Bayshore Medical Center, and we will continue to assist those physicians interested in practicing medicine there and seeing their patients at the facility.

For over 40 years, HCA has been treating patients at East Houston Regional Medical Center. Though the facility has been damaged in the past, we have rebuilt many times. We’ve endured three floods since 2000. Our team looked at every potential option for continuing to treat patients at the facility. In the interest of safety, we have determined there was no way to continue operations at this current site. It’s just not the safest way forward for our patients or our employees. We remain committed to the East Harris County community, though. Patients may still seek care at our Bayshore Medical Center and Clear Lake Regional Medical Center facilities, both of which are close by.

In addition, management and human resources teams are working closely with East Houston Regional Medical Center employees to identify career opportunities in one of the 16 facilities within the HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division and throughout HCA.

HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division will work with a local realty firm to determine the future of the East Houston Regional Medical Center property.

It was a difficult decision not to reopen East Houston Regional Medical Center, but one we are confident best serves our patient population. HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division remains firmly committed to the East Houston community and Bayshore Medical Center’s essential role as a community hospital serving East Houston and surrounding communities.

Xtreme Machine reflects pre-Harvey fun

A car show, a bunch of inflatables and games for the kids, Crosby Volunteer Fire Department bringing out fire trucks and cutting up a S.U.V. for us, mud bog racing, lots of food vending and plenty of greeting and fellowship with the neighbors and friends made an event to remember and forget the hard times.

Eddie Foster directed ceremonies as an impressive tripple line up of 40 vehicles entered the car beauty contests, when he wasn’t singing Country Western Music.

Toward the end of the afternoon, a mud spattered Rev. Keenan Smith looked guilt stricken as he confessed he had just drowned his friend’s truck in a mud bog. He spoke before the awards ceremony, “I want to thank everyone for coming out to visit us today. We almost didn’t have this event today. I think attendance is off from last year. It was only at the last minute that I said, yeah, let’s go ahead and do it. We had gotten so caught up in everything that happened and the recovery that we didn’t put the advertising and effort into this year’s Extreme Machine Sunday. We had hosted the rescue operations here, launched the animal rescue operations afterward, got so involved fixing and tearing out houses all over, especially in Huffman and Crosby. Then we started burying animals here. I felt like we were at our limit for awhile but I am glad I listened and went ahead and had it, it is a chance to come out and enjoy this great weather and enjoy a community event. So, I am going to turn it over now to some guys that know all about car shows. So we can recognize those that put tens of thousands of dollars into winning plastic gold at a car show and bragging rights. I bless all y’all and thank you for helping let us enjoy this day.”

The kids turned out some in costume, most in enthusiasm. Most adults took the opportunity to chat with brand new and lifetime friends.

Esatside Veterans turned out to remind all that Veteran’s Day is fast approaching and there is to be a parade and event that day.

EPA orders removal of Waste Pits

WASHINGTON, DC – Executive Director Scott Pruitt today announced the final decision on the disposition of the toxic waste dumps in the San Jacinto River, near the I-10 bridge.

In a press release dated Wednesday, Oct. 11 the EPA said they had issued a final “Record of Decision” based on the best interests of nearby residents, local businesses, and downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary.

The plan for complete removal of the waste material has been modified to provide cofferdams around the excavation of dry material, instead of wet material in the original plan. The cost is now estimated at $115 million instead of the previous $97 million.

The proposal includes both the Northern and the Southern impoundment areas. 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material will be removed from the sites for proper disposal.

Local environmentalists and officials praised the decision of the EPA, including Jackie Young of THEA and the San Jacinto River Coalition. Young has led the fight for removal of the pits for a number of years, prompted by serious health problems she attributes to pollution from the waste pits.

Others who issued statements in favor of the decision included Harris County Attorneys Vince Ryan and Terry O’Rourke, Congreeman Gene Green, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman.

Jackie Young told the Star that she was pleased with the decision, but would continue to be engaged in the issue, and be a “watchdog” over the removal project.

One opponent to the decision, the “KeepItCapped” group, issued the following statement:

Statement From McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. (MIMC) Regarding the U.S. EPA’s Record of Decision

“We cannot support a plan for the site that provides less protection to all affected communities than the existing cap already has provided. We are deeply concerned that the decision announced today could result in a release to the San Jacinto River and downstream areas. We disagree with EPA’s claim that the local or downstream areas can be protected during removal. We will review U.S. EPA’s Record of Decision in its entirety.”

Here is the full text of the EPA press release, and the Final RECORD OF DECISION:

DALLAS – (Oct. 11, 2017) The cleanup plan to address highly toxic dioxin contamination at the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site in Harris County, Texas has been approved. The selected remedy will protect human health and the environment by removing highly contaminated material from the site and securing less contaminated areas. The plan provides certainty to people living near the site by permanently addressing risk posed by the contamination. It also provides certainty to other economic interests including the businesses that rely on the San Jacinto River for navigation and the Interstate-10 transportation corridor.

“Today, we are announcing our decision to ensure the San Jacinto site is cleaned up for the benefit of the entire community,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “As exemplified today, EPA is prioritizing Superfund clean-up by making decisions in a decisive, timely manner. The San Jacinto Waste Pits site was added to the National Priority List nearly a decade ago, and I am pleased to announce a decision has been made to permanently address the highly toxic materials to ensure health and safety in the surrounding communities.”

EPA’s cleanup plan includes installing engineering controls such as cofferdams before excavating almost 212,000 cubic yards of dioxin contaminated material for disposal. A small amount of material will stay on the site where controls will prevent access, eliminate off-site migration and monitor the natural recovery into the future. The estimated cost for the remedy is $115 million and is cost-effective; representing a reasonable value for the cost incurred.

EPA’s final cleanup plan, called a Record of Decision, addresses comments on the proposed plan concerning the risk of water spreading dioxin contamination downstream by installing controls such as cofferdams to allow for dry excavation of the waste material. Changes in the construction method will effectively eliminate any potential for spreading contamination to downstream areas. The $97 million proposed plan outlined wet excavation of material.

The Superfund site consists of two sets of impoundments, or pits, built in the mid-1960s for disposing solid and liquid pulp and paper mill wastes that are contaminated with polychlorinated dibenzopdioxins (dioxins) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (furans). In 2011, the impoundments were covered with an armored cap as a temporary way to contain the contaminants.

EPA’s decision, fully explained in the Record of Decision, is based on extensive studies of the contamination, human health risks, and environmental risks of this site. The final cleanup plan considers the ever-changing San Jacinto River, which encroaches on the site, and protecting important downstream resources including the Galveston Bay estuary.

EPA’s selected remedy will permanently address the highly toxic dioxin waste materials, meets the federal regulatory requirements of the National Contingency Plan for cleanup of hazardous sites, and is protective of public health and the environment. EPA will release an Administrative Record, which consists of all documents used to support its selected remedy.

EPA added the San Jacinto Waste Pits site to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 2008, after testing revealed contamination from dioxins and furans near the waste pits. The northern set of impoundments, about 14 acres in size, is located on the western bank of the San Jacinto River, north of the Interstate-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River. These northern impoundments are partially submerged in the river. The southern impoundment, less than 20 acres in size, is located on a small peninsula that extends south of the Interstate-10 bridge. EPA is the lead agency for addressing the site and cleaning up the contamination, with support from several state partners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Administrative Record, including the Record of Decision, for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund Site is available online at: https://www.epa.gov/tx/sjrwp and at the following locations:

Stratford Branch Library

509 Stratford Street

Highlands, Texas 77562

Legal Notice: SMALL TAXING UNIT NOTICE

SMALL TAXING UNIT NOTICE

The Harris County Emergency Services District #14 will hold a meeting at the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department, 123 San Jacinto, 2nd Floor ( elevator is available ) Highlands, TX 77562 at 12 noon, on Monday, October 16, 2017, to consider adopting a tax rate for tax year 2017. The proposed tax rate is 0.0500 per $100 of value.

No change in the tax rate is planned.

The ESD#14 tax rate has not increased since the inception of ESD #14 in 1999. The proposed tax rate for the 2017 tax year is the same rate of 0.0500 per $ 100 the value that has always been in place for ESD#14 since its formation.

Lynchburg Ferry temporarily closing for repairs and inspections

BAYTOWN/LA PORTE, Texas – The Lynchburg Ferry will be closed Monday, August 14th through Sunday, August 20th. During this time, crews will be conducting underwater inspections on both Ferry landings to support an upcoming infrastructure improvement project. Please use alternate routes. Alternate routes include:

Traffic heading northbound:

•(EZ Tag Only) Use SH-225 West to Sam Houston Tollway North back to I-10 East

•Use SH-225 East to SH-146 North to Spur 330 North back to I-10

Traffic heading southbound:

•(EZ Tag Only) Use I-10 West to Sam Houston Tollway South back to SH-225 East

•Use I-10 East to Spur 330 South to SH-146 South back to SH-225 West

Normal Ferry operations are expected to resume Monday, August 21st. As a reminder, hours of operation are 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Be sure to follow “Harris County Precinct 2” and “Lynchburg Ferry – Harris County Precinct 2” on Facebook for updates regarding this project.

Morman wants new EPA head Pruitt to put waste pits on “TOP TEN” priority list

HARRIS COUNTY – Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman waded into the battle to remove the toxic waste pits from the San Jacinto River, with a two page letter to the new EPA Administrator last Friday, asking for an expedited removal of the material.

In his letter, Morman states that “As long as the dioxin pits remain in place, they create an ongoing hazard that will leach into the River and Galveston Bay. The site poses a serious threat to the health of our residents and to the environment.”

Morman referenced a new study that Pruitt commissioned, a Task Force that has made recommendations for expedited solutions to the nation’s 1330 Superfund sites. Pruitt has said that he will create a “TOP TEN” list of sites with priority to be cleaned up and reused. The list will contain sites that have been on the NPS (National Priority List) for over 5 years. Morman requested that the San Jacinto River Waste Pits be placed on that list.

Further, he said “Removal is the only remedy that resolves the contamination in the San Jacinto River Waste Pits with finality, eliminating the future costs and potential harm associated with leaving the waste in place.”

The EPA Dallas office is currently reviewing comments and technical reports, before issuing a final ROC (Record Of Decision). They plan to have this ready by the end of 2017, unless Pruitt moves to shorten the schedule.

In the Task Force report, Pruitt is quoted as saying he has a “passion to clean up the country’s worst pollution, as expeditiously and as thoroughly as possible.”

The report lists five goals for the EPA Superfund clean-up:

• Expediting Cleanup and Remediation

• Re-Invigorating Responsible Party Cleanup and Reuse

• Encouraging Private Investment

• Promoting Redevelopment and Community Revitalization

• Engaging Partners and Stakeholders.

Morman’s letter was widely distributed, going to the EPA, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, U.S. Representatives Brian Babin, Gene Green, Randy Weber, and Ted Poe. Also EPA Regional Administrator Sam Coleman, and Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.

The San Jacinto River Coalition and THEA, under the leadership of Jackie Young, continue the fight to have the waste pits completely removed.

In the monthly meeting of these organizations, Young noted that the organization known as Keep-It-Capped, or San Jacinto Citizens Against Pollution are continuing their efforts to have the EPA settle for a permanent cap over the toxic material, rather than complete removal.

She revealed that she has been served with a subpoena from their attorneys, requiring her to testify in what is known as “discovery,” and to furnish certain documents from her activities.

As a result, THEA is now in a fund raising mode to afford to continue the fight to clean-up the river.

Young also revealed that a Tweet from Pruitt revealed that he had met recently with the CEO of International Paper. Since this company is one of the PRP (Potential Responsible Parties) for the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, she questioned the propriety of the meeting.

Homicide inside Crosby Park

CROSBY – Family members and neighbors grieved and surrounded the scene as emergency responders franticly tried to save the life of a man and his step son that were shot after 5:00 p.m. last Friday in this areas most frequently used park.

Friday, Carlton Griffin, 45, was shot and died later and his stepson, Leonard Taylor, 17, was wounded by gunfire.

Two black males about 18 to 25 years old are suspected in the shooting that occurred in Crosby Park.

According to Sgt. Ben Beall of the Homicide Unit, “On Friday, 07.28.2017, at approximately 4:50 P.M. Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office responded to a disturbance at the Crosby Plaza Apartments, located at 6616 N. Main St. Shortly after arriving on the scene, Deputies were notified of a shooting at Crosby Park, located at 357 Hare RD, adjacent to the apartment complex. When Deputies arrived at the park, they located two males that were shot. The first male, Carlton Griffin, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. The second male, Leonard Taylor, suffered a single gunshot wound and was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Deputies determined that the shooting was related to the earlier disturbance at the apartment complex. Witnesses stated they saw two black male suspects flee the shooting scene on foot.

The shooting death of Carlton Griffin is being investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit. If anyone has any information regarding the shooting, they are asked to contact the Homicide Unit at 713.274.9100, or call Crime Stoppers at 713.222.TIPS(8477).”

However, another witness said he heard shots and when he looked, a dark grey 1500 Dodge 4 door speed from the parking lot. Even if one had nothing to do with the incident many would find it a prime time to vacate after shots were fired.

Harris County Emergency Service District #5, the ambulance service for Crosby, worked frantically to revive Griffin but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on the scene. Family members say his stepson was taken to the hospital with non-lethal injuries.

Deputies closed the park area and interviewed witnesses and family. According to family members, the father and son were chasing after a man who had earlier knocked at their apartment door brandishing a pistol. This suspect was said to be upset because the victim’s stepdaughter, a special needs child, was making noise inside the apartment. The family member indicated the homicide victim and his stepson were chasing a suspect outside before they were shot.