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Posts published in April 2019

9-1-1 Call Center opens in East Aldine

Harris County leaders, Members of the East Aldine District, and other officials held a ribbon cutting on Friday to officially open the new Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Call Center.

Harris County leaders gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Harris County 911 Emergency Call Center in East Aldine last Friday, April 26. The 42,000-square-foot facility is a major upgrade from the current call center operation that has been victimized by repeated flooding, most recently during Hurricane Harvey. The new Harris County 911 Emergency Call Center is part of the 60-acre East Aldine District Town Center. The elevated building is designed to operate before, during and after a Category 4 Hurricane with winds up to 155 mph.

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Sheriff’s Office call takers were forced to evacuate the current downtown location after storm waters overwhelmed Buffalo Bayou and flooded the call center. The call takers then spent many post-hurricane weeks working out of the Greater Harris County 911 building in northwest Harris County.

The new call center boasts a main floor with 72 call-taker consoles and 3 backup generators, one of which has enough fuel capacity to run the building on full power for 6 days. It includes staff sleeping quarters and laundry facilities. The operation is set to begin fielding calls next week.

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Sheriff’s Safety Meeting draws many residents

Sergeants and Deputies with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office at the community safety meeting in Aldine.

The District II Sheriff’s Safety Forum took place on Apr. 24, 2019 at the East Aldine Management Office.

There were approximately 25 residents, 5 CPAAA members, and numerous officers present.

Sgt. Scholwinski introduced officers present. He discussed crimes committed in D2 and shared crime statistics for the past year. Most statistics have shown a decrease with the exception of auto theft and burglary of motor vehicles.

Captain Koteras called these crimes of opportunity:

– Don’t leave items in your vehicles.

– Park your cars in your garage, if possible.

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Project Recovery-Harvey starts in Harris County

JUDGE LINA HIDALGO announces the start of the Recovery program, as Malcolm Barrett and Adrian Garcia look on.

$200 Million available for Home Repair after Hurricane damage

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY – The new leadership of Harris County turned out in force to announce Harris County Project Recovery-Harvey Program at the Harris County Barrett Community Center last Saturday.

Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge, Adrian Garcia, Precinct 2 Commissioner, Daphne Lemelle, Harris County Community Services Director and a host of county community workers from varied agencies were present to share their expertise enabling residents to get help for their houses, the services they need to recover from Hurricane Harvey.

Harris County Project Recovery-Harvey is for homeowners outside Houston to apply for home repair, reconstruction or reimbursement.

The new Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo indicated that the county is giving out about $200 Million in this program.

“Harvey was an especially difficult disaster because it got to the core of people’s lives because it reached into their homes, in their housing. People’s homes are anchors for them and their families. When people lost their homes and were forced to leave and live somewhere else, they were still forced to watch and wait until they could rebuild and return. That destroys and disrupts the rest of their lives and the fabric of our community.”

“For the first time we are making a massive investment in housing around Harvey,” said Hidalgo, indicating that the program was to be the largest investment a region has made in the area of housing repair.

“It helps us build a stronger community and a more resilient community in all of Harris County,” the Judge concluded.

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Illegal game room closed

Illegal game room was operating in a residential neighborhood on Maurine St.

After County Attorney Ryan Files Lawsuit

A north Houston game room where an employee was robbed, beaten, and kidnapped in February has closed after Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan filed a lawsuit to close it.

The game room located at 2118 Maurine Street was the site of an aggravated robbery of the parking lot attendant who lived and worked on the property. On February 4th, the attendant was attacked by three men with guns who blindfolded, kidnapped, beat and robbed him. He escaped his captors by jumping out of a moving vehicle into oncoming traffic.

In the course of their investigation sheriff’s deputies discovered illegal gambling including customers playing 34 eight-liners at the unlicensed game room. Eight liners are slot machine-like devices and are legal only if they offer only non-cash prizes valued at less than $5. Law enforcement officials say that illegal cash payouts are near universal in unpermitted game rooms throughout the state. Despite the arrest of the operators and repeat visits by law enforcement, the game room continued to operate in violation of the law, according to the lawsuit.

After County Attorney Ryan’s Office filed suit the owners of the property agreed to evict the game room operators and close the enterprise.

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Earth day network’s 2019 cleanup spans thousands of locations during April

Over 3,000 cleanups in communities across the U.S. for Earth Day 2019

April 16, 2019 (Washington D.C.) – Earth Day Network is implementing a nationally coordinated environmental volunteer cleanup to mark Earth Day 2019, in collaboration with partners across the U.S., including National CleanUp Day and Keep America Beautiful. All over the country people are encouraged to get up, get out, and help clean their communities to celebrate Earth Day.

People have a right to expect a clean environment and can exercise that right by helping to clean their own communities with over 3,000 cleanups of green spaces, urban landscapes and waterways with grassroots organizations leading up to Earth Day on April 22 and taking place throughout the remainder of the month of April.

Volunteers across the U.S. are coming together with grassroots organizations for Earth Day 2019 to clean up over 3,000 green spaces, urban landscapes, and waterways. Plastic pollution and waste challenge every community, every day, and these cleanups offer a chance to make a real difference.

Cleanups are planned in over 80 cities and towns, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. More cities and sites are being added every day.

In Aldine, the community and volunteers in conjunction with Greens Bayou Coalition are coming together to do a cleanup on Saturday, April 27, 2019 on Kennedy Greens Business Park located at 4343 Kennedy Commerce Dr., 77032 from 9 am to 12 pm. They recommend to bring your own sunscreen, hat, gloves, bug spray and to wear work clothes for those who would like to volunteer on the cleanup.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP VISITS HOUSTON AREA

President Donald Trump signed two executive orders in Crosby, easing regulations on pipelines and water quality.

HOUSTON– “It’s like the circus is coming to town!” exclaimed one Republican resident, of the combined excitement and trepidation of having the presidential motorcade come to an unincorporated area that voted for him in the Presidential election by a whopping 74%.

Trump landed his plane at Ellington Field, and travelled by Motorcade to Crosby on US90. After his talk, he returned to Ellington for a fundraiser dinner at the Lone Star Air Museum.

The speech and signing ceremony at the IUOE center was attended by about 400 invited guests, from Harris County and a few from Crosby. A number of industry friends of Trump attended, some even riding the Air Force One with the president.

Arrival at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center comes in controversy. President Trump signed executive orders to facilitate easing regulations on making petrochemicals and speeding up pipeline construction, even in the wake of four petrochemical fires and three worker deaths in less than one month in East Harris County. And the union facility recently became non-profit, thus reducing taxes paid to local first responders. White House officials announced the orders will grant incentives for investors to build energy infrastructure, streamlining permitting for pipeline projects. Last May Trump issued a permit to initiate the delayed Keystone XL Pipeline.

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271 Seniors will receive scholarships in May

Aldine Education Foundation has announced that for 2019, graduating seniors will receive 147 scholarships from AEF, totaling $438,000 in awards. This includes 37 permanent endowments, including AISD staff-funded scholarships.

In addition the Aldine Scholarship Foundation will award 135 scholarships. The total awards by the ASF will be $135,000. In all AISD seniors will receive $572,000 in awards for their future college studies. There were a total of 735 applications for these scholarship, 391 for AEF, 43 for ASF, and 301 for both organizations. Award notifications were sent on April 3rd.

Awards will be given out at an AEF/ASF Scholarship ceremony on Tuesday, May 14 at M. O. Campbell Center, starting at 6:00 pm. It was announced that the format of the ceremony has been changed from previous years, and the reception will follow the awards ceremony, rather than occurring prior to the awards.

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House passes legislation to reform school finance, property taxes

AUSTIN — The Texas House of Representatives on April 3 approved much-anticipated legislation written to revise the state’s public school finance system. The vote was 148-1, and the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 3 would increase pay for public school classroom teachers, librarians and other full-time personnel and also would enable property tax relief. Primarily authored by House Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, R-Houston, joint authors include Reps. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio; John Zerwas, R-Richmond; Ken King, R-Canadian; and Alma Allen, D-Houston.

HB 3’s estimated net cost would be $9.5 billion, covering the fiscal biennium that ends Aug. 31, 2021. In addition to pay increases and incentives, HB 3 would reduce recapture and enable some $2.7 billion in property tax relief. The legislation, among its general provisions, changes the order in which the Foundation School Program is financed so that state-available school funds would be applied before locally generated property tax revenue.

After the House voted, Gov. Greg Abbott applauded lawmakers for their work and said, “Texans are demanding meaningful reforms to our school finance system, and today’s passage of HB 3 in the House is a vital step toward that goal. By reducing recapture, investing more money in our schools and in our teachers, the Legislature is making changes that will have a lasting impact on our education system, and more importantly, our students.”

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State sues KMCO for air pollution

Smoke billows from the KMCO plant fire, as seen by the neighbors and first responders on Ramsey Road in Crosby.

Deadly Fire At Crosby Chemical Plant Raises Legal And Safety Questions

HARRIS COUNTY – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a petition against KMCO alleging violations of the Clean Air Act, but KMCO’s legal issues don’t end there.

Last Tuesday’s explosion at a KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas killed one and injured two.

Separate from Tuesday’s explosion and fire, KMCO is currently in violation of the Clean Water Act, and has had a host of other recent offenses, including violations of the Clean Air Act and a hazardous waste statute, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Tracey Hester of the University of Houston Law Center said that a facility’s record plays into the potential liability it may face in the wake of a disaster.“Just speaking generally, absolutely — a facility that has a record of prior violations, particularly the same kind of violations, escalates its legal exposure,” Hester said. “At the very least, most statutes provide that repeat violations have bigger potential penalties associated with them.”

Facilities with a history of violations have a harder time renewing the permits they need to operate and must face more inspections from regulators, according to Hester. That history could also play into potential criminal charges against decision-makers at KMCO.

“At the end of the day, it is very clearly — on both the federal and state levels — a major factor in deciding whether to bring a criminal action,” Hester said.

Safety concerns

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San Jacinto Day cancelled due to ITC Fire

2019 Festival originally scheduled for April 13

The March 17 tank farm fire at the ITC facility remains an ongoing situation that has closed the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and the San Jacinto Museum of History since the emergency situation began. At the present time, access to the area surrounding the site is restricted to emergency personnel involved in the cleanup. All preparations needed for a successful Festival & Battle Reenactment by necessity, have been halted.

“While the situation is improving, we do not know when conditions will allow for the public to return to this hallowed ground,” said Larry Spasic, San Jacinto Museum President. “Our overriding concern is, of course, the safety of our guests and the participants involved as well as the animals used in the reenactment and our educational venues. Because of the ongoing efforts of the cleanup and remediation of the pollution in the waterways and grasslands in and around the San Jacinto Site and continuing uncertainties, we feel it is better to act proactively than reactively to these circumstances.”

With an abundance of caution, the difficult decision has been made to cancel the 2019 San Jacinto Festival and Battle Reenactment scheduled for April 13th. All involved are deeply saddened that this important tradition will not occur for only the second time in nearly 35 years.

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