News

Consumer business by Denisha Maxey

SPRING BREAK is on the horizon and students, as well as families, are planning ways to spend their week-long vacation. Traveling to a tropical or sun-filled destination for spring break has always been the first option for enjoying the week. However, some people choose to enjoy it right in their own backyards.
Whether you choose to travel or stay close to home, your top priority is to have a vacation that minimizes stress and is budget friendly. There are several ways you can keep your sanity and keep your wallet happy, while still enjoying your break.
Start your planning in advance. This does not simply apply to travel arrangements but also to local activities you might want to enjoy. If traveling is on your agenda, booking hotels and airfares in advance can save you money, especially if you plan to travel to a popular destination. Businesses typically will increase prices during spring break to boost their revenue but you can still save money by booking sooner rather than later.
Travel websites or travel agencies are definitely an option, as they can do all the planning for you. Make sure you use a reputable business and that you check business reviews and ratings on BBBhou.org. Do not forget to check The Post’s Coming Soon feature for happenings around town. There will be tons of fun things to do during spring break in our local area. Museums, Galveston’s pleasure pier and Kemah Boardwalk are great local options for enjoying the week and the Houston livestock show and rodeo, now in town, is another great destination not too far away.
Do your research. This is essential to keeping your spring break stress free. To help save money, search online for coupons or discount codes you can take advantage of. When using them, however, make sure you read the fine print. Business often alter their usual policies when offering discounts. There might be time limits or group restrictions on special deals and you definitely do not want to let unexpected restrictions ruin your fun.
If you are traveling, research as much information as you can about your destination. You want to know in advance what the weather is expected to be like or what events might be happening during your trip. This allows you to pack accordingly and budget for any extra activities that might be of interest.
Researching local activities and their cost, as well as your dining options, can help you create a realistic budget. For example, you might decide to save money by taking your own lunch or finding a cheaper alternative.
Do not expect everything to go perfectly or you will find yourself with a headache as soon as something goes wrong! Unexpected issues can arise but, if you have planned ahead and done your research, you will be prepared. Whatever you decide to do this spring break, I hope you enjoy it and have a wonderful time.
Denisha Maxey is director of dispute resolution at Houston Better Business Bureau.

Don’t forget our county, leaders tell Austin

By Lora-Marie Bernard

BUSINESS and government leaders from around the county descended on Austin on Wednesday in our community’s first en-masse lobbying trip to the state capitol.
The so-called “legislative day” put the county’s politicians and members of its chambers of commerce in prime position to showcase the county and its communities to Texas legislators.
Representatives from county and city governments and the chambers of Galveston, Texas City-La Marque, Santa Fe and League City-Bay Area were among some 200 people who signed up for hours of meetings with state lawmakers about projects that need their support, such as coastal protection and port improvements.
During dozens of meetings with house representatives and senators, chamber representatives presented each of their hosts with a coffee-table book about Hotel Galvez and a journal embossed with the county seal as they sought to influence opinion on their pet causes.
A measure of their success could well have been the fact that about double the traveling group’s number turned up for the organized trip’s end-of-day seafood party before a late-night bus ride home for the coastal-community lobbyists.
Several county luminaries voted the day a big hit.
Precinct-four county commissioner Ken Clark said the commissioners’ court had been having conversations for many years about conducting a countywide legislative day but the effort had always languished.
He described the milestone as an “open house at the capitol” because it had created ambassadors who raised awareness among legislators who knew little about the Galveston area.
He said: “It allows us to focus on issues that are specific to our county and gives us the ability to work together to achieve the ability to reach out to the representatives and the legislators and have a common message. It builds camaraderie and unity in the county when we do that.”
Santa Fe city manager Joe Dickson said his team had discussed coastal protection, medical-center funding and tax caps with half a dozen representatives and senators.
“They have a lot of issues they have to deal with so we will see how it all comes out in the wash”, he said.  Galveston resident and business owner Rusty Carnes was concerned about immediate coastal issues including a brewing battle about the cleaning process of a superfund site on the San Jacinto river that threatens Galveston Bay.
He said he wanted state legislators to learn the dangers of dredging the site’s waste pits, a process the federal government is proposing in order to rehabilitate them.
“The safest thing to do is to cap them because, once they start stirring them up, that stuff will be distributed all over the bay”, he said.
Incredible
The county’s district 23 state representative, Wayne Faircloth, summed up the day, saying it had allowed the capitol’s elected officials to “see the rich resources and the incredible people that inhabit Galveston County and our importance to the state economy and our importance to education and jobs and the industry”.
He said: “For me, it’s wanting to shine the spotlight on our county and how important we are and allow the other members of the legislature to experience the people, the seafood and the different things that we have to offer”.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

A regular roundup of local-authority activities presented by Trishna Buch

A FIREWORKS stand’s operators fear they will lose their livelihood if plans to annex the unincorporated land that houses their business go ahead.
Johnny Pate, who owns Mrs Becky’s Fireworks Warehouse with his brother Gerry, told a public hearing this week that they are concerned annexation by the city of Dickinson would take the stand inside the city limits and render it illegal.
He was supported by two employees, Johnny Johnson and Ray Pedond, as they voiced their fears during the city council’s meeting on Tuesday.
Along with three nearby residents, they were commenting on a city proposal to annex 91 properties to the north of downtown, in an area bounded on the west by SH-3, on the north by Deats Road, on the east by Hill Avenue and on the south by Salvato Street.
A second public hearing on the annexation will be held during the city council’s March 14 meeting. If councilmembers later approve it, the land on which the fireworks business stands will automatically be rezoned as conventional residential and the business will become illegal under the city’s rules banning the sale of fireworks within its jurisdiction.

Alanis property set for change

A VACANT lot annexed by Dickinson in January last year is to be rezoned to make way for a strip mall.
The city’s councilmembers gave their unanimous approval on Tuesday to owner Jesus Alanis’ request to change the property’s land use from conventional residential to neighborhood commercial to enable the operation of a retail strip center at the site, 2704 Dickinson Avenue.
City staff said one of the reasons the property should be labeled neighborhood commercial is a pipeline that runs through it, “severely limiting the scope of any development”.

$160k to keep grant from going down the drain

A CITY is hoping a new contract will prevent state and federal agencies swamping it with complaints that it’s failing to comply with the terms of a grant covering part of its wetlands.
League City’s councilmembers voted to award the contract on Tuesday after hearing that years of drainage pipeline failures at its nature reserve have necessitated an urgent $160,000 repair project.
Restoration is required for the city to comply with a property grant from the Texas parks and wildlife and US fish and wildlife departments.
Construction company Tandem Services was awarded the 60-day contract, under which it is charged with restoring the nature center’s pond to full functioning by replacing its drainage pipes, which have failed several times this century.
As well as replacing the pipes, which connect the pond to Clear Creek, the project will include restoring the pond’s eroded bank and its vegetation.
Position one councilmember Dan Becker said this was not the city’s first attempt to solve the problem and questioned why it had not been successful in the past.
Position three councilmember Larry Millican told him: “This particular project was originally just a metal pipe that came through a dam or levy to keep the intrusions of water from the creek out of the lake, and let the lake drain into the creek.
“After the metal pipe rusted away, the city put a concrete culvert in instead of the metal pipe. The particular pipe failed during [Hurricane] Ike and what they will be doing today is stabilizing the bank of the levy on both sides and creating a spillway of concrete that will allow it to last for years.”
Public works director Gabriel Menendez said the culvert had been damaged “before Ike, in the 2006-2007 time frame”, adding: “Ike hit in 2008 and there was a complication after 2009 rain event that dropped 10 inches in a day”.
The project will cost up to $159,530 with a 10 per cent work-change directive budget on top.

No more cell time for city leaders

COUNCILMEMBERS who take to their cell phones or other mobile devices to communicate with outsiders during one city’s council meetings will find themselves in hot water from now on.
Despite the objections of two members, League City’s council voted on Tuesday to prohibit its members from engaging in electronic communications during council meetings.
Position one member Dan Becker and position four member Todd Kinsey voted against as the proposal was passed on a 5-2 split.
The councilmembers unanimously approved a resolution to allow public comments during council work sessions and a resolution allowing councilmembers to participate in meetings via videoconferencing.

 Voting slips in the mail

VOTERS IN three electoral divisions are being sent new voter certificates for the May elections as a result of the merger of two school districts.
Last year’s state-enforced annexation of La Marque independent school district by neighboring Texas City killed off the La Marque board of trustees and necessitated redrawing the enlarged Texas City board’s trustee election areas and submitting its members to new elections.
Three of the trustees, representing TCISD districts two, three and five, go before the electorate in May and the county tax office voter registration department is now mailing the affected voters with their new ballot certificates.
Voters in the district’s remaining electoral divisions will receive their voter certificates along with all other county certificates in December.
To determine if you are in one of the Texas City school-board election districts for May, go online to tcisd.org, select School Board, then Territorial Maps For Trustee Positions and finally Approved Map On Nov 8, 2016.
For other information, call the county tax office’s voter registration department at 1-888-976-2280 or email galcotax@co.galveston.tx.us.

Museum launches display of 150 years of seabed life

By Trishna Buch

A PRESERVATION project almost a decade long has reached the final moments of its conception.
Tomorrow, Thursday, an exhibit dedicated to Civil War gunboat the USS Westfield will be declared officially open at the Texas City museum at the end of a program that’s been in the works since 2009.
That’s when the US Army Corps Of Engineers removed the remains of the ship from the Texas City Channel.
The Westfield was the flagship for the Union Navy West Gulf blockading squadron’s operations and saw its last action when, during the battle of Galveston in 1863, it was blown up to prevent its falling into Confederate hands.
According to a press statement from Texas City’s recreation and tourism department, the exhibit, parts of which have been on display at the 409 Sixth Street North museum for several months, showcases the history of a class of civilian vessels converted during the Civil War to “serve in the Union’s blockade of Confederate southern ports”.
In 2009, the Corps Of Engineers recovered 8,000 artifacts from the Texas City Channel, including a rare nine-inch smoothbore Dahlgren cannon. The artifacts were sent to Texas A&M University’s conservation research laboratory, whose archaeological conservator, postgraduate student Justin Parkoff, is the brains behind the exhibit.
Another section of the ship, its boiler, has been reconstructed in two halves for the exhibit. Parkoff explained the significance of both during a conversation with The Post in October, saying: “Half of the boiler exhibit structure is a replica designed to show the public how the boiler once appeared.
“The other half is a skeleton structure that will hold hundreds of original authentic artifacts that were recovered from the wreck site.”
Margaret Tuma, the president of Texas City’s historical preservation corporation, which runs the museum, believes the exhibit will increase tourism in the city.
She said: “I think people are going to really be interested in it and will want to see it. I hope that everyone will take the opportunity to come visit it when they can.”
• Entrance to the museum will be free from all day – 10:00am to 6:00pm – tomorrow to celebrate the exhibit’s 2:30pm dedication.

Senate bill seeks to end  ‘wrongful birth’ suits

By Richard Lee
Texas Senate News

TEXANS WILL no longer be allowed to sue doctors for “wrongful birth” if a bill approved unanimously by the senate’s state affairs committee becomes law.  
“Wrongful birth” is a cause of action based on an accusation that a doctor withheld, either willfully or through negligence, key information from parents who otherwise might have decided to terminate a pregnancy. It allows the parents to seek damages for the high cost of raising a child born with disabilities.
Senator Brandon Creighton introduced the bill maintaining that such suits send a message that some people are not worthy of being born.
During Monday’s committee hearing, he said: “There are no wrongful births. Children born with disabilities ought to have the same rights as any able person. Their lives are just as valuable as any.”
Creighton, left, whose district includes Bolivar peninsula, added that the fear of liability might lead some doctors to recommend abortion to avoid being sued.
Texas was the first state in the nation to develop this standard, based on a 1975 case before the state’s supreme court.
In that case, a woman who had contracted rubella during pregnancy claimed she had not been properly diagnosed by her doctor or adequately warned about the possible fetal complications of the disease.
Her baby was born with severe complications requiring years of expensive surgeries and treatments and the parents sued saying that, had they known the possible complications before-hand, they would  have opted for termination.
Opponents of the bill testified that eliminating the cause of action might lead to doctors opposed to abortions withholding knowledge of a fetal abnormality to prevent parents from opting for termination but Creighton said that existing malpractice laws are adequate.
He said: “We want to make it very clear that we are not allowing doctors to choose what information to give their patients based on their personal beliefs.
“This can be ensured by other means rather than this particular cause of action.”
The measure is now heading to the full senate for consideration.