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Posts published in “Day: April 20, 2021

FEDS TELL TXDOT TO HALT I-45 EXPANSION

Cite Civil Rights concerns, Seek further Study

HOUSTON – The Federal Highway Administration is invoking the Civil Rights Act to pause a highway project near Houston, a rare move that offers an early test of the administration’s willingness to wield federal power to address a long history of government-driven racial inequities.

The FHWA’s intervention follows complaints from local activists that the state’s proposed widening of Interstate 45 would displace an overwhelmingly Black and Hispanic community, including schools, places of worship and more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

It also comes as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has identified racial equity as a major priority for his department — after decades in which federal highway money has paid for projects that leveled minority and low-income communities.

“I think this project is the poster child for [the administration’s] policies,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the Houston area, who has joined local officials in challenging the project.

In a March 8 letter to the state, the Federal Highway Administration, citing complaints from local activists and Jackson Lee, requested that the Texas Department of Transportation hold off on its expansion of I-45, including initiating more contract solicitations, until the federal DOT has time to review civil rights and environmental justice concerns.

Federal officials could ultimately allow the project to proceed, but the action to freeze it at all, and in particular DOT’s use of civil rights laws to underpin that decision, has buoyed activists on the ground and surprised even seasoned regulators in Washington.

COVID-19 Vaccinations now available “OnDemand,” no wait list

Harris County Launches On Demand COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment System; 55,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Now Available for the Week of April 19

Harris County Public Health Transitions from Waitlist System to Offering Residents Appointment Options Immediately Upon Signing Up; Unvaccinated Residents Strongly Encouraged To Sign Up Now at ReadyHarris.org

Harris County, Texas – Friday, April 16, 2021, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) today announced that it has opened 55,000 COVID-19 vaccines for the week of April 19th. In response to vaccine supply starting to meet demand, residents who sign up for a vaccine from HCPH will now be given appointment options immediately after registering for a vaccine while supplies last. Individuals will be provided with a choice of date, time, and location to get vaccinated upon registering online at ReadyHarris.org or via phone with the HCPH Vaccine Hotline.

To register, residents should visit ReadyHarris.org, vacstrac.hctx.net or call the HCPH Vaccine hotline at 832-927-8787 for assistance. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) also directed vaccine providers to prioritize people 80 years and older when scheduling appointments and accommodate anyone in that age group who presents for vaccination, whether or not they have an appointment.

The new registration system will continue to support Harris County’s commitment to providing vaccines efficiently, fairly and equitably by lowering barriers to registration and providing information in multiple languages online and via phone. The county will also continue to prioritize vaccines for vulnerable communities by offering vaccines at mobile sites in hard-hit zip codes, conducting targeted outreach, offering transportation for those who cannot drive to an appointment on their own, and partnering with community organizations to support vaccine distribution.

Aldine Trustee Viola Garcia new president of National School Boards Association

DR. VIOLA GARCIA

Aldine ISD Trustee Dr. Viola M. Garcia assumed the office of President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) on Saturday, April 10, during NSBA’s Annual Conference via a virtual ceremony.

Dr. Garcia is the longest tenured Aldine Trustee, having served on the Board since her appointment to the Position 7 seat in 1992 and her election in January 1993. She has held all four board offices and has chaired numerous committees.

Dr. Garcia previously served as NSBA’s Secretary-Treasurer, PresidentElect and on the NSBA Board of Directors representing the Southern Region, before becoming the organization’s President.

Dr. Garcia said she is looking forward to serving as the head of a body that does so much good work for children.

“I ask for guidance for this gathering of school board members, administrators, staff, service providers and partners,” she said in her remarks after her swearing in ceremony. “I think you for the good work you are doing and how well your students are doing, what you have accomplished this academic year, and how we are all working together to serve the students of this great nation.