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Posts published in June 2020

Search continues for Vanessa Guillen, soldier who vanished from Fort Hood

Army Private First Class Vanessa Guillen 20 has been missing for 2 months without a trace. Last seen April 22 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood. Her Military Occupational Specialty is a 91F, Small Arms/Artillery Repairer. (Photos provided by Guillen family)

EXCLUSIVE Reward increased to $50K

By Allan Jamail

Houston, Tx. – June 15, 2020 — North Channel Star photo journalist Allan Jamail interviewed Mayra Guillen, the missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen’s sister, to obtain this story.

Mayra said, “My sister loved the army. She dreamed about wanting to serve the country. She joined right after graduating from Houston’s César E. Chavez High School at age 18. She graduated in the top 15% of her high school class. In school she was athletic; she liked sports jogging and soccer. At the base she loved to jog and exercise in the gym.”

“Upon joining the army first she was sent to South Carolina for boot camp, and then Virginia for training, before lastly being station at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. She lived on the base because from our Houston home to the base, it’s a three hour drive.”

“She enjoyed Fort Hood until recently, but then something changed. Shortly before her disappearance she began acting unusual and had trouble sleeping. This never happened before. She finally told our mother (Gloria) she was being sexually harassed by one of her sergeants. Mother tried to convince her to give her the name of the harassing sergeant, but she didn’t want to get mother involved or in trouble. She also said he would follow her whenever she would go jogging or to exercise and how uncomfortable he made her feel. She said she knew of other female soldiers who had reported sexual harassment and the Army didn’t believe them. She felt she could put a stop to it herself. She was ready to take care of his harassment near the time of her disappearance.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I strongly believe my sister is alive. I believe whoever is keeping her hostage is doing it for a reason, because they know that at this point if we find her deceased, it’s going to be much worse, I just hope they’re keeping her okay,” Mayra concluded.

Vanessa’s mother Gloria said, “My nights are long with agony and sadness to think my daughter is suffering so much and being kept away from her family.”

She wants the case to be led by the FBI. The Army Criminal Investigation Command now leads the investigation.

Masks now mandatory

Harris County and Houston have issued orders requiring masks for businesses and customers. Violating businesses are subject to fines.

Mayor Turner joins “Big City” Texas mayors in urging Gov. Abbott to allow local control on face masks to protect citizens from COVID-19 spread

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner joined mayors from eight other Texas cities today, urging Texans to remain vigilant during the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.

“We are not asking you to stay home, but we are asking you to mask up and social distance where possible,” the mayors wrote to the people in their respective cities, but the serious public health message is intended for everyone. “This isn’t meant to scare you, but it is meant to be very honest. The virus doesn’t leave just because our collective urgency has gone away.”

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia exposed to deadly virus, self-quarantined

Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – June 16, 2020 – Today Congresswoman Garcia told NC Star writer Allan Jamail that she’s in self-quarantine because of being exposed to a family member who had recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

After consulting with her physician and the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, the Congresswoman went into self-isolating for the period of time recommended by the CDC.

Today Garcia said, “I’m thankful my #COVID19 test came back negative, but I still need to self-isolate and watch for symptoms out of an abundance of caution.”

“Working on behalf of the people of the Texas 29th Congressional District in the midst of this pandemic is my highest priority and I will be taking the necessary precautions to make sure I can continue fighting for our community. I want this to serve as a reminder for everyone in the Houston region and across the country that we are still combating COVID-19 and that everyone should be following public health guidelines that will help keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy,” she said.

Two hangings in two days in Houston area raise community concerns

HOUSTON – Authorities were investigating the unusual discovery of two persons hanging from trees, in the greater Houston area.

One was a young teen in the Klein school district, and the other was a man found in the Shady Acres area of the city.

Both have been ruled suicides, and the following statements have been issued by the Sheriff and U.S. Representative Lee.

Harris County COVID-19 relief fund to open public application for aid

HOUSTON, TX (June 17, 2020) – The Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund will open its public application to all eligible Harris County residents in its second phase of fund deployment. The public application will be open Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

“The fund’s main goal is, and always has been, to help those most vulnerable in our communities,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “That’s why, in the design of this process, it was paramount that this application be as intuitive and accessible as possible for all members of our community. We’ve taken extra steps to establish two ways to apply, extend the hours the application will be open, and ensure language and time accessibility for those with different working schedules.”

To ensure a fair, accessible application process, the public can access the application in two ways once it opens: online or over the phone. Applications will not be accepted at the Greater Houston Community Foundation office.

ALDINE ISD: Approved academic calendar will guide 2020-2021 school year

After reviewing surrounding district calendars, the information provided by the Texas Education Agency, and input from the calendar committee, the district has determined that it will operate under the approved 2020- 2021 academic calendar.

“The calendar process we used this year took into account several levels of feedback from our stakeholders. When developing the calendar we weighed in district needs and alignment to our goals,” said Aldine ISD Chief Communications Officer Sheleah D. Reed, APR. “We believe the calendar we have will allow us to address the needs of students.”

The calendar which was voted on by trustees Feb. 11, has the first day of instruction set for Monday, Aug. 17. The last day of school is May 27. The calendar exceeds the state’s requirements for the minimum number of minutes. Those minutes can be used to accommodate school cancellations.

Other key dates are:

HARRIS COUNTY COVID-19: Walle announces Housing relief

Harris County Czar Armando Walle announces housing relief.

Recovery Czars Rep. Armando Walle and Marvin Odum Launch Effort to Reduce Evictions and Maintain Affordable Housing

Harris County, Texas – Thursday, June 11, 2020 – County and city recovery leaders on Thursday announced the formation of a task force to prevent evictions while bridging gaps in housing stability that have been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Housing Stability Task Force, which will include stakeholders with deep experience in the community who touch all points of the housing stability cycle, will align resources to address evictions while developing strategies and recommendations to strengthen the region’s housing delivery system. Although the city and county each have independent czars leading their respective COVID19 recovery efforts, city and county leadership decided to unify their efforts to deal with the unprecedented housing crisis through the creation of a joint task force.

“Evictions were a serious issue before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will continue to be of great concern throughout the course of the economic downtown. We unfortunately anticipate a substantial increase in the volume in the weeks and months ahead, and we are determined to make our best attempt at proactive planning to reduce as many as we can. The Houston region had systemic barriers to affordable housing before COVID, and the current crisis has exposed in plain sight the underlying system shortcomings,” said State Rep. Armando Walle, Harris County Recovery Czar. “With key players at the table, working together toward the same end goals, we will structure our efforts to be responsive to the immediate crisis, even as we maintain a firm resolve not to lose sight of the importance of future work required to make housing stability a reality for more people.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo implements new COVID-19 public threat level system

4-level, color-coded system to help residents navigate current state of virus spread.

Harris County Hospital Admissions Reach Highest Level to Date

Harris County, Texas – June 11, 2020 — As hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Harris County reach their highest level ever, today County Judge Lina Hidalgo unveiled a new public threat level system designed to help residents understand the threat level from COVID-19 and provide clear guidance on steps the general public must take to protect themselves, their community, and support the conditions to avoid a crisis and sustainably reopen the local economy.

The system, informed by the latest data from local health authorities, research institutions, and public health experts, informs a color-coded level indi-levels: Level 1 severe (red), Level 2 significant (orange), Level 3 moderate (yellow), and Level 4 minimal (green). Along with the level of transmission are actions residents should follow: Stay home, (red); minimize all contacts (orange); stay vigilant (yellow); and resume normal contacts (green). To help residents easily understand and navigate the current level of risk, the county has shared an indicator dial on, along with descriptions of the latest data-driven community guidelines.

“We all want to get back to work, see our friends, hug our family, go out to eat, and resume our livelihoods without limitations, but we still have a long road ahead of us to end this epidemic,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “We owe it to our residents to make sure we’re providing clear, consistent, and data-based information to keep them as healthy and safe as possible. Our only way out of this crisis is for our community to work together to avoid further uncontrolled transmission of this virus so that we can be in a position to reopen our economy in a way that is sustainable over the long term.”

Regardless of current level indicated, all residents should continue the use of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings until there is a vaccine or a treatment for the virus. Additionally, residents exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days regardless of level indicated.

Consistent with the latest threat data the current level of the advisory system is set to Level 2 (orange): minimize all contacts.

Information and public guidance posture for each level is as follows:

Aldine ISD names new principals for Ermel and Sammons Elementary Schools

Aldine ISD is pleased to announce that Erik Torres and Georgina Foroi have been selected as the new principals for Ermel Elementary and Sammons Elementary, respectively. Both will continue to fulfill their roles as assistant principals at their respective campuses, Goodman Elementary and Kujawa Primary, through the end of the year while transitioning to their new roles.

Foroi will ensure several tasks and projects are completed at Goodman Elementary before she leaves, while also meeting the teams at Sammons Elementary to develop plans for the 2020- 2021 school year. Torres will also begin working with his staff at Ermel.

Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney, Superintendent of Schools, stated, “Leadership matters. Both Georgina and Erik are amazing. Their experience, commitment to student success, understanding of how to support teachers, and their skills to build strong relationships, are evident in their work. These skills are crucial for effective change and improved outcomes. We are looking for these characteristics in leadership as we build on our strategic plan to ensure our students have access to high-quality schools and learning experiences.”

Attorney Chris Hollins sworn in as new Harris County Clerk

Chris Hollins sworn in as Harris County Clerk, replacing Dr. Diane Trautman after her recent resignation due to health reasons.

By Allan Jamail

Monday, June 01, 2020 — Christopher G. Hollins, a 33 year old Houston attorney married to wife Morgan with daughter Vivian, won the approval of Commissioners Court to fill the vacated position of Dr. Diane Trautman. He has pledged to hold the job only in an interim role, avoiding the potential distraction of running a campaign this fall.

On May 19th Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines to appoint Hollins, vice chairman of finance for the state democratic party. He will serve until a new clerk can be elected in November.

Commissioners Court members said they were impressed with Hollins’ credentials, as well as his commitment not to seek the job permanently. “I think his background with McKinsey a global consultancy company will be helpful in getting procedures in place to get through this election process,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia supported Hollins’s appointment, stating, “I’m thrilled that Chris Hollins decided to accept this appointment to become the County Clerk for the remainder of the year. He is incredibly qualified, and I am confident he will do an excellent job.”

Hollins issued the following statement:

“It is a great honor to serve the residents of Harris County as County Clerk. My deep connection to Harris County and professional background in management consulting, government, and law has prepared me to step into this role and be effective from day one. I look forward to serving this community to the best of my ability, and to continue to assist residents and small businesses at the high standard that Harris County deserves.

“We are living in a challenging time. This November, our office will administer the most consequential election of our lifetime amid a global health pandemic. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and I will work tirelessly to ensure that Harris County residents can exercise that right safely, conveniently, and with the peace of mind that their vote will be counted.”

“Our efforts start with the July runoff contest. I encourage Harris County residents to register to vote by the June 15th deadline. I also encourage you to make a plan to vote by mail (if eligible), during the early voting period, June 29 – July 10, or on Election Day, July 14th.”