As debate rages endlessly in the nation about the federal government policy of separating children from their parents who entered the county illegally, the debate has now moved to the Houston political stage because the state’s largest provider of these services has requested a permit to use a building at 419 Emancipation Avenue on Houston’s east side. Southwest Key Programs is the largest provider in Texas, now housing 2,725 unaccompanied children in 16 locations.
This includes 4 facilities in the greater Houston area that are virtually unknown and unnoticed, including one that dates back to 1991. Two of these are in the North Channel/Northeast circulation area. Casa Montezuma is on the I-10 Feeder road in the Channelview area. Neighbors had suspected that the facility was a federal children’s shelter, but weren’t sure, they told this newspaper. Records from the Texas Health and Human Services show that the facility is currently housing 191 children, and recently had its license increased to 210, an increase of 11% similar to figures statewide. This shelter is licensed to provide child care services only, since May 2017. Children housed are from 10 to 17 years of age.
The other facility in our area is at 7900 Mesa Drive, in Northeast Houston. It houses 54 children, ages 10 to 17, and is licensed for multiple services, including Emotional Disorders. It has had a license from the state since 1991. Most of the Texas shelters are run by two nonprofits: Southwest Key Programs and BCFS Health and Human Services. The latter is a church sponsored group, based in Dallas.
Project Will Reduce Flooding Risks in Greens Bayou Watershed
HARRIS COUNTY – The Harris County Flood Control District has begun excavation of the Lauder Stormwater Detention Basin, a project that will help reduce flood risks in the Greens Bayou watershed of north Harris County.
On May 1, 2018, Harris County Commissioners Court awarded a $3,730,268 construction contract to low bidder Challenger Services Inc. for an intermediate phase of excavation at the 90acre Lauder site near Lauder Road and Aldine Westfield Roads. Construction began in June 2018 and will take about six months. The project will involve the excavation of approximately 343,280 cubic yards of soil. It is one of several planned and ongoing projects included in the Flood Control District’s umbrella effort known as Progress Greens.
Formally identified as HCFCD Unit P500-06-00, the Lauder basin has been partially excavated in previous excavation and removal agreements. Future phases of the project will involve excavation of additional land as it is acquired by the Flood Control District. Property acquisition and environmental permitting is underway.
The final basin design includes a permanent pool, island and other features to improve stormwater quality. The design preserves a 200-foot-wide wooded area along Greens Bayou, a tree buffer along the east side of the site, and a remnant channel or oxbow.
When complete after additional construction phases, the basin is expected to hold at least 1,200 acre-feet, or more than 391 million gallons of excess stormwater that otherwise Reducing Flood Risks, might flood homes and businesses. Stormwater detention basins reduce flooding risks during heavy rain events by safely storing excess stormwater and slowly releasing it back to the bayou when the threat of flooding has passed.
ALDINE – Civic Clubs from the Aldine area met last Tuesday evening, June 26th at the offices of the East Aldine District. Speaking to the clubs was Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, who introduced services that his office provides to the citizens of Harris County.
Ryan said that in addition to services he provided, his office also has a speaker’s bureau, available to any club or organization to speak on a variety of topics.
Castlewood Civic Club organized the meeting, and invited civic clubs from Green Forest, Eastex Freeway Forest, Fairgreen 1, 2, 3, & 4, Parkwood Estates, and High Meadows subdivisions. Many of these groups were represented by members who came to the meeting, as well as the general public.
The audience not only wanted to hear about services from the county attorney, but also wanted to discuss recent flooding, and the $2.5 billion bond issues that will be before voters on August 25.
State Officials Sylvia Garcia and Ana Hernandez turned away
By Allan Jamail Edited by NCS staff
CHANNELVIEW, TX. – North Channel – Friday, June 29, 2018 — State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Ana Hernandez went to Casa Montezuma, a child detention facility in their district, to check on migrant children being housed there. The children have either been separated from their parents who immigrated to the United States seeking political asylum from violence and persecution, or else they arrived without parents.
Armed officers in uniforms bearing the name Fort Bend County Patrol swarmed Garcia and Hernandez, stopping them and telling them they could not enter to see the children even though they both proved they were elected state officials.
Allan Jamail, a photojournalist for the North Channel Star, accompanying the state officials, had his camera grabbed by an officer whose uniform identified him as Chief G. Fuentes. Fuentes told the visiting group that the area is private property and off-limits to visitors and photo-taking.
Fuentes said, “Visitors must first make an appointment by phone to visit the facility,” but when Garcia and Hernandez told Fuentes they’ve called for days but no one will answer the phone, Fuente then said, “I know because they don’t want any visitors, so they’re not going to answer the phone.”
Not easily persuaded to leave without first checking on the welfare of the kids, for almost an hour a standoff with security in over 100 degree scorching heat, finally Fuentes agreed to allow Garcia and Hernandez to go to the front door to make an appointment for a visit on another day.
The door was locked and no one inside would come to the door or answer the intercom system, so after numerous attempts Chief Fuentes said, “You need to leave because no one is going to come talk to you or allow you inside. They don’t want visitors.”
Fuentes said he was only doing his job, but Garcia and Hernandez responded and told him he was preventing them from doing their jobs to check on the welfare of children in their District.