THE COUNTY’S US congressman says he is jubilant that a bill to “improve” the federal government’s visa waiver program has passed the house of representatives.
After the bill, house resolution 158, passed last week, Randy Weber, left, said he had voted for it because it will restrict waivers for nationals from countries noted for state-sponsored terrorism.
If it becomes law, the visa waiver program improvement act will prohibit entry into the USA by aliens who are nationals of Iraq, Syria or any country designated as a state sponsor of terror.
It will also prevent entry by people who were present in those countries on March 1, 2011 or have been for any time since.
“We must take every action to prevent any bad actors from entering the United States who wish to do harm upon innocent Americans and this legislation is a step in the right direction,” Weber said.
The visa waiver program allows nationals from certain countries to enter the United States as temporary visitors for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa from a US consulate abroad. Currently, 37 countries take part in the program.
Container record for Houston port
HOUSTON’S port has handled the equivalent of more than two million 20-feet-long containers for the first time in one year, setting a new record in its position as the leading container port on the Gulf Coast.
The number is known as TEU as it measures containers in twenty-foot-equivalent units in recognition of the fact that many are twice that length. The port’s two-millionth TEU this year moved through the dock last week, not long after the port processed a record 4,300 container trucks in one day at its Bayport terminal.
If the containers were laid end to end, two million TEUs would reach more than 7,575 miles, or approximately the distance between Houston and Shanghai, China.
The unprecedented performance in 2015 beats the port’s previous record of 1.96 million TEUs set for 2014. The milestone was highlighted during a ceremony presided by port commission chairman Janiece Longoria at the Bayport terminal, which opened in 2007.
Longoria said projections indicate continued strong growth in the port’s container business. She said the port authority has continued to invest in its facilities and the newest technology to help spur the growth and executive director Roger Guenther said the record showed signs of “bigger things to come”.
The port authority is to invest about $700m in the next decade to modernize its Barbours Cut terminal, increasing efficiency, allowing larger vessels to dock and doubling container-handling capacity. Four post-Panamax ship-to-shore wharf cranes delivered this year are already in operation.
At the newer Bayport terminal, a new hi-tech entry gate has streamlined truck processing and a mobile app for truck drivers has increased efficiency.
Employee health fair on the way
SANTA FE Independent School District is to host an employee health fair to supplement its wellness program in the first working week of the new year.
The fair will run from 10:00am to 2:00pm on January 4 at the district’s junior high school, at 4132 Warpath.
For information, contact Becky Wright by phone at 409-925-9024 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big prizes in state’s kids’ art contest
TEXAS LAND commissioner George Bush is calling on the state’s school kids to enter its 20th annual Treasures Of The Texas Coast children’s art contest.
The winning artworks will appear together in a 2017 calendar that will be distributed across the state.
The contest, which began in 1996 to mark the 10th anniversary of the state’s Adopt-A-Beach program, encourages Texas schoolchildren to learn more about the Texas coast and express what they’ve learned through their art.
“Many young students across Texas have not yet had the opportunity to visit our beautiful coast,” Bush said.
“This competition encourages kids to learn about the Texas coast and then be creative in demonstrating what impacts them through their art. The coast is an important part of our shared heritage as Texans and this competition promotes a deeper appreciation for this vital resource.”
Bush himself will select the contest’s grand-prize winner, who will receive two round-trip United Airlines tickets to
any of the airline’s destinations in the United States.
The winner will also win receive a seven-night Caribbean cruise from Royal Caribbean, departing from Galveston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral or Puerto Rico. There’s also a party at Schlitterbahn’s New Braunfels waterpark, with the winner hosting his or her classmates.
The student’s teacher will receive two round-trip tickets from United Airlines and a seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise.
Ten winners will be chosen from each of four age categories – kindergarten to second grade, third to fourth grades, fifth grade and sixth grade.
The grand-prize winner will be chosen from the 40 finalists. All 40 finalists will receive a ticket to the Texas state aquarium in Corpus Christi, a ticket to Houston Museum Of Natural Science, a ticket to Houston Zoo, two all-day passes to Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, a certificate of recognition and prizes from the Texas General Land Office and a calendar displaying their winning artwork.
Only one entry per student is allowed and all entries must have a completed parental release form taped to the back. Full rules and a printable copy of the parental release form are on line at the land office’s website, texasadoptabeach.org.
Each contest entry must be postmarked by Wednesday, March 2, 2016.