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Posts published in “Day: November 11, 2014

County mourns deputy’s death; suspect charged in fatal crash

HOUSTON, Texas – Tragically, Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Valdez III, 32, became the 40th HCSO employee to die in the line of duty in the 177-year history of the agency.

Valdez, a patrol deputy, died after a vehicle driven by Kelly Jo Ivey, 29, collided head-on with his patrol car the early morning of October 29, 2014.

Ivey was charged later the same day of the tragic accident with possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, as a result of the investigation into the crash. Her initial court appearance was scheduled for last Thursday, October 30, 2014. Further related charges may be filed later.

Ivey was released from Texas prison on Oct. 2 after serving part of a two-year sentence on a previous, unrelated methamphetamine case.

“We will never forget his service. We will never forget his sacrifice,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said about Valdez early today at a news conference.

The Sheriff’s Office, whose five stated core values include “Develop, encourage and care for our Sheriff’s Office family,” is grieving.

In March, Ivey pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and agreed to the two-year sentence, according to court records. She was released from prison on parole this month, said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Ivey served time behind bars in two earlier theft cases, according to court records. A judge has declined a bond for her.

The morning of Wednesday, Ocober 29, Valdez was travelling eastbound on East Wallisville Road near the intersection with Honeysuckle Street. A dark colored Ford Explorer SUV travelling westbound on East Wallisville Road, crossed into the eastbound lane of traffic striking the deputy’s marked patrol unit.

Valdez’s vehicle was spun counter clockwise into a roadside drainage ditch, as the Explorer spun into the center of the intersection.

EMS personnel were called to the scene where extraction tools were used to withdraw the deputy from his severely damaged vehicle.

The accident happened near the Highlands Fire Department’s Station #2 on Wallisville, and they were the first units on the scene. Later, Baytown EMS and Fire arrived to help rescue, and stand-by for the helicopter flight.

The deputy was transported via LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Trauma Center, where he was pronounced deceased at approximately 1:00 a.m.

Ivey was transported by ground to the same hospital. A male, Casey William Byfield, passenger and apparently Ivey’s boyfriend, was cooperative with authorities after the accident. He was treated on scene and release. But he was arrested last Friday, October 31 at 12:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Bright Penny Lane. His charges are unkown.

Lone Star College bond referendum approved by voters

HOUSTON (Nov. 4, 2014) – Voters elected to approve the Lone Star College $485 million bond proposal. With 83 percent of the precincts reporting in Harris County and 100 percent of the precincts reporting in Montgomery County, the bond is passing by 161,200 to 86,844 votes.

“We are extremely grateful that voters saw the need and chose to support the important work Lone Star College is doing,” said Stephen Head, LSC chancellor.

“We are committed to providing affordable access to a quality education for all of our students,” said Head. “The voters agreed that the role Lone Star College plays in this community is vitally important to our continuing economic prosperity.

“With 25 percent of area high school students choosing to attend Lone Star College after graduation, we have an important responsibility to keep up with area growth, fill the critical need for trained workers and provide streamlined academic transfer programs for students to earn a bachelor’s degree,” said Head.

The bond funds will be used to create additional learning space and fund the construction of new Advanced Technology Centers throughout the college system to help fill the critical shortage of trained technical workers in the Houston area.

“Students rely on Lone Star College for a wide array of services and opportunities to improve their lives – associate degrees, certifications for work in high-demand industries, workforce skills upgrades to improve their career options, and credits that enable them to transfer to universities to complete bachelor’s degrees. In Texas, 78 percent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded to students that attended community college. The demand for these education and training pathways continues to grow,” Head said.

The LSC bond was heavily supported by local community and business organizations and local major health care organizations, many of whom have come to rely on LSC for a supply of trained students ready to enter the workforce.

In addition to approving the bond, voters in LSC District 9 elected Ken E. Lloyd to join the LSCS Board of Trustees in a three-way race that included Lamar Casparis and Dom Bongiorni. Alton Smith (District 3) and Art Murillo (District 4) were unopposed and will join Lloyd for six year terms beginning with the December 2014 board meeting.

“We look forward to having these new trustees join the Lone Star College System Board,” said Head. “Their decisions over the next six years will have a tremendous impact on the lives of LSC students and employees. I look forward to working with them.”

In all, the bond will assist LSC in planning for the future by adding 686,000 square feet of new instructional and support buildings, along with renovating 362,000 square feet of existing facilities. In addition, the funds will provide for increased campus parking, improved campus safety and security, and enhanced technology infrastructure.