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.
The East Aldine Management District voted last Tuesday night to enter into a contract with HEB Grocery Company, LP, to purchase 7.53 acres of land in the new Town Center for a Joe V’s supermarket.
HEB plans to build a store of about 55,000 square feet, offering a complete line of food, and with three additional in-store vendors. Joe V’s is known for its fresh produce, quality meats, and low prices.
HEB agreed to pay East Aldine Management District a sum of $1,312,027.20 for the land. The contract calls for the firm to start construction within three years, but officials expect the store to open earlier.
On a night when flooding was actually a concern at the Northeast Community Center, last Wednesday, Matt Zee, Director of Operations of the Harris County Flood Control District, and County Commissioner Jack Cagle gave keynote addresses to welcome the public to an open meeting related to asking for a bond to fund a plan to fix flooding, and to discuss public concerns and hear suggestions.
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Jack Morman hosted the event, with staff and county departments offering reading material, drinking water and cookies.
“This is my second meeting in my district and my fourth overall on this subject,” said Morman, Pct. 2 commissioner for the Aldine area.
According to Cagle, Commissioner for the northern most portion of the county, the $2.5 billion dollar bond is the first comprehensive plan to address flooding through all of the county’s flood plains and watersheds from top to bottom.
Cagle said, “The number one reason I am excited about this bond is that for the first time, we are taking an integrated approach. We have a lot of neighborhoods wondering, ‘What is happening for me in my section?’ Which is important. There is this very important concept that I have been taught, that water flows downhill. These projects are about dealing with water up the hill, to detain it and manage it, as best can be done. We are working with these projects in the middle of the hill, where we can spread it out so it doesn’t flood homes and move fairly efficiently through. And trying to do projects at the bottom of the hill because if water doesn’t clear there, it is like a plug at the bottom of a bathtub. At the bottom of the hill we want to take out the plug, and at the top we want an umbrella. So, this countywide approach is to try to make sure that we are taking care of the water at the top, middle and bottom of the hill.
“Most of the time, Commissioner Morman’s area, where we are, is the bottom of the hill. So, where would you like to deal with the water, up in the north or where you are? Or all along the path? That is the best thing about this bond, is that it is an integrated approach.
Houston, TX. – Monday, June 11, 2018 — Congressman Gene Green brought governmental agency representatives together to give the preparedness advice to citizens, since we are now in the hurricane season, from June 1 through November 30th.
Misty Gunn, Harris County’s Emergency Operations Center Manager said this is the time citizens should make an Emergency Essentials Kit. The contents needed for the kit can be found at WWW.READYHARRIS.ORG.
“In addition to your kits contents, if you’re evacuating from high water, put inside a water proof container or plastic bag, your prescription drugs, a printed list of all relatives, doctors and insurance agents phone numbers, cell phone and cell phone charger, credit cards and checkbook, important family documents (birth certificates, insurance/ bank account information, etc.),” Guinn said.
Harris County Flood Control Precinct 2 Coordinator Jeremy Ratcliff, and Communications Officers Robert Lazaro, said Commissioners Court plans to call a bond election for August 25, 2018, for the Harris County Flood Control District. Voters will be asked to vote on what could be $2.5 billion in bonds for flood risk reduction projects throughout the county. To learn more about the flood bonds visit WWW.HCFCD.ORG/ BOND-PROGRAM.
The next meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. to be held at East Aldine Management Offices, 5333 Aldine Mail Rt. (next to Jed’s Hardware). The speaker will be Mr. Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney, who will introduce his office and the many topics their staff attorneys can speak about upon request. There will be a Q & A session afterwards so please come prepared to participate. Meetings are open to the public.
Contacts: Connie Esparza, Treasurer: (832) 306-0231 and Carmen Schnur, Secretary: (832) 443-7541.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner celebrated Juneteenth with his 7th Annual Juneteenth Parade in Acres Homes last Saturday, June 16.
The parade featured over 140 participating groups and organizations, including local marching bands, dancing groups, horses, floats, vintage cars and more. A number of special guests participated and there were giveaways to spectators.
The parade began at 10 a.m. at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 West Montgomery, and traveled north up West Montgomery to turn left on Dolly Wright and disband at Greater Zion Baptist Church and Drew Academy.
“Juneteenth is an important day in our community,” Mayor Turner said. “I want everyone to come out and celebrate. We’ve gone all out on the 2018 parade. You won’t want to miss it.”
HOUSTON – In a wide ranging talk before the Rotary Club of Houston, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett spoke about a number of topics of interest. He started by talking about his appreciation for the work that Rotary does in the community, and across the world. He gave examples from his own experience of how he has been touched by and involved in this work.
Then he spoke about the upcoming $2.5 billion bond issue that will be on the ballot in a special election on August 25th. He explained that the date is the one year anniversary of the devastation when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, causing flooding throughout Harris County and other parts of the state.
“Harvey changed a lot of lives,” he said. He noted that 154,000 homes in Harris County and Houston flooded. The Hurricane dropped 51” of rain in a four day period. Many homes were destroyed or made unlivable, and there were many deaths in the flood waters.