News

PUBLIC DOMAIN
A regular roundup of local-authority activities by Trishna Buch

A WOODLANDS company’s plans to build a liquid-natural-gas plant on a Galveston Bay dredge site near Texas City’s port were boosted on Wednesday when the city commission approved a lease agreement for the site.
The city commissioners authorized mayor Matt Doyle to enter into a lease agreement with NextDecade to develop the LNG plant on a property at Shoal Point.
The agreement will allow the engineering, design and permitting of the project to begin.
According to meeting documents, NextDecade has signed a three-year lease for the dredge site, with the first year set at a rate of $150,000 and subsequent years at similar but varied rates, along with an option for extension.
The company has planned the plant’s six-year construction to begin in 2020, creating more than 3,000 construction jobs. When the project’s first phase is complete, 150 skilled jobs will be needed for the facility’s operation and, on the completion of phase two, the plant’s estimated taxable value will be $6 billion.
“This is just the start”, Doyle said during Wednesday’s meeting.
“This is a two- to three-year process for the permitting and another two years for the construction. We are just getting started. It is a great asset for our city and it will really change what’s going on in our tax base
but we are a long way from being done.”

Rocky road to new asphalt life

A RECYCLING system that cleans up after destructive road works is on its way to Texas City.
The city commission approved a budget amendment during its Wednesday meeting to allow for the purchase of a six-ton vehicle containing a recycler and a hot box, which together recycle asphalt chunks and road-surface millings after pavements have been scarified.
The equipment will be bought through the Houston-Galveston area council at a cost of $44,950, which will be provided by the city’s capital-equipment replacement fund.

Save our water call to ARKK

TWO MID-COUNTY infrastructure projects that together will cost more than $350,000 – one to replace a waterline, the other for work on a sanitary sewer – were approved by a city commission this week.
During their meeting on Wednesday, Texas City commissioners approved the signing of an agreement with southwest Houston company ARKK Engineers for the 16th phase of a waterline replacement project and phase 18 of a sanitary sewer rehabilitation project at a total cost of $356,286.
ARKK will be in charge of the design and construction phases of the projects, at a cost of $156,561 for the waterline project and $199,725 for the sewer project.

Sugar coating for zoning request

THE OPERATOR of a coating business has been given the go-ahead to set up shop in Hitchcock after seeking a property-use change order.
City councilmembers approved Paul Rooney’s request for a zoning change at the corner of Oak Drive and FM 2004 during their council meeting on Monday.
Rooney wants to operate a coating business on a plot of land at the corner of the intersection but it is classified as neighborhood commercial.
Based on the nature of his business, it should be located in a general commercial district.
With councilmember Fard Abdullah absent, the remaining councilmembers approved the request unanimously.

Rohr deputy made interim city boss

AFTER DUMPING their city manager on the unemployment list last week, League City councilmembers began to steady the ship this week by promoting his deputy.
During a special meeting on Monday, they appointed John Baumgartner interim city manager after voting 5-3 to terminate Mark Rohr on December 13.
The vote came after a long disagreement between mayor Pat Hallisey and former city manager Rohr, who left his post moments after the vote was taken at the end of a long and bitter but civil debate.
Hallisey voiced his approval of Monday’s pick.
“League City has a bright future and we know that John Baumgartner is the right choice to see us through this period of transition and bridge the gaps”, he said.
“He is a member of this community, actively involved in issues important to the city and a true public servant”.
Baumgartner reciprocated the plaudits, saying: “I am humbled by the support that the city council and the community have shown to me throughout this transition”.
He told the councilmembers: “League City is my home and together we will continue working with the entire community to build upon our successes as we strive to provide world-class customer service”.

No logjams for trees collection

DISPOSING of Christmas trees should not needle north-county residents this year. League City has already placed dumpster containers for the job at four of its fire stations and there’s also a six-week-long curbside collection service on the way.christmas-tree-pixabay-mgn
There are dumpsters for tree disposal at city fire stations two, three, four and five. Fire station two is located at 601 Second Street, station three at 3535 FM 518 East, station four at 175 Bay Area Boulevard and station five at 2898 Bay Creek Drive.
Starting on Thursday, December 29, trash-collection contractor Republic Waste Services will offer curbside collection for Christmas trees on the second collection day of each week until the first week of February.

Cox in supreme court again as junior judges’ county request upsets him

By Ian White

LONNIE COX and three of his fellow judges at the county justice center were at loggerheads on Monday after the junior-court jurists asked the county commissioners to set up a court-administrator system even though the county already has one. cox, lonnie2
Cox, left, the justice center’s administrative judge, lodged an emergency motion asking the state’s supreme court to prevent the county commissioners acting on the request after they listed it in the agenda for their meeting set for yesterday, Tuesday.
The judge and the commissioners are currently awaiting the supreme court’s decision on whether to hear their long-running legal argument over who has the right to oversee the county’s justice administration department.
Cox told The Post on Monday evening that the requested system would be “a parallel and duplicate of the justice administration department we already have” but one of the three county-court judges who submitted the request said he could not understand “what all the hubbub is about”.
Cox, who sits in the 56th district court at Galveston, placed his 40-page emergency motion on the Austin court’s docket after learning that the commissioners planned to consider “approval of staffing and structure of [a] court administration department including related budgetary action” during the meeting.grady-john-2014-cropped
He maintained that such action would be a “direct and flagrant violation” of a temporary injunction he won from visiting judge Sharolyn Wood in June last year preventing the commissioners taking any action regarding the county’s justice administration department pending a contempt trial in which county judge Mark Henry is accused of failing to follow orders issued by Cox in September 2014 and May 2015.
The trial has yet to take place because Henry and his fellow county commissioners appealed Wood’s judgment and, on losing the appeal, petitioned the supreme court for a review of the appellate court’s ruling, claiming the injunction has been automatically stayed by their legal protestations.
The supreme court, which has yet to state whether it will grant the commissioners’ petition, issued an order at 1:06pm on Monday giving their attorneys until 5:00pm that afternoon to respond to the emergency motion.
Affidavit
Ironically, their lead attorney, Terry Adams, who has become notorious for constantly delaying the appeal and petition by claiming extra time for reasons as extraordinary as a past dental appointment and moving his desk, met the deadline first time with a 14-page document that included an affidavit by county legal boss Bob Boemer and a declaration signed by No 1 county-court judge John Grady, above left.
Also attached was a copy of a request to the commissioners to “approve the establishment of a ‘court administrator’ system for the three Galveston county courts at law” under Texas government cosde section 75.401a.
The request, dated December 16, was signed by Grady and his fellow county-court judges, Barbara Roberts of court No 2 and Jack Ewing of court No 3.
Grady told The Post that it would not be proper for him to comment on the merits of the issue as it had become the subject of legal action. But he did say: “We made the request under Texas government code 75.401a and I cannot understand what all the hubbub is about.”
Cox, who said the county-
court judges first told him about the request at the end of a meeting on Thursday, said: “We’re on the brink of a supreme-court decision about the commissioners’ petition and the commissioners risk being found in contempt if they do anything beforehand.
“What possible good are the county-court judges getting by requesting a new department now? The risk outweighs the reward.”

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

We are graced in our county with two versions of an organization that embodies the Christmas spirit of giving to the fullest, United Way Of Galveston and United Way Galveston County Mainland.
These nonprofit agencies have different executive directors – Chris Delesandri for the mainland organization and Lindsey White for its island counterpart – but they both have the same goal, to raise money for charities that assist people in need of help.uwgcm2
For their current campaign year, the mainland agency’s target is $2,442,568, while the island agency’s is $1,100,000.
When I last spoke to Delesandri about the UWGC Mainland campaign a few weeks ago, he told me that some $1.8 million had already been raised toward his 2016-17 target. His campaign season runs from June 1 to the end of the year but events to raise funds can begin as early as April each year.
Delesandri also told me that Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Valero Refining Company, NuStar Energy, DOW Chemical Company and the city of Texas City are their top institutional donors.
By Monday this week, the UW Galveston agency had raised 80 per cent of its total through two sources, its community campaign and the state employee charitable campaign.
The agency’s fundraising season runs from August 31
to December 31 and White told me that its top five institutional donors are UTMB Health, American National Insurance Company, Moody National Bank, HomeTown Bank and Texas A&M University At Galveston.
White was Delesandri’s deputy at the mainland agency before she took over at the island agency, so I asked them both if they anticipate a closer working relationship between the two institutions.
“Absolutely”, White said.
“Chris and I have a great working relationship and I
have a tremendous amount
of respect for him. Our United Ways are both working towards improving the health, education and financial stability of every person in our respective communities. Our particular service areas are neighboring and we all win by working together.”
Delesandri agreed, saying: “We will collaborate whenever the opportunity arises.”

You, too, could be a UW hero

If you’d like to do something really good for this holiday season, making a donation to United Way is one of the best ways to go.
As you can see right, Galveston County residents can donate to one of two United Way agencies, depending on where they live or do business.
If you work for an organization subscribing to the state employee charitable campaign, making a donation is simplicity itself. All you need to do is fill out a pledge form, present
it to your employer and your nominated amount will be removed from your pay and automatically sent to your local United Way agency.
The agency will then pool all the donated money and send it to their partner nonprofits. If you want your money to go to a specific charity, just name it when filling out your form and United Way will guarantee your money will reach its specified destination.
If you are not employed, fear not! You can still play your part by filling out a separate form and sending it to United Way. To obtain one, call the mainland agency at 409-948-4211 or the island agency at 409-762-4357.
Either mail the completed form to your local office or visit its website – the island agency’s is at uwgalv.org and the mainland agency’s is at uwgcm.org – and follow the steps to make either a recurring or one-time donation.

Consumer business by Denisha Maxey

WHILE LOTS of people took advantage of November’s Black Friday to complete their holiday gift shopping, tons of consumers are still rushing to beat the clock. Last-minute shoppers are all too common during the holiday season. With Christmas just a few days away, the pressure is on to get our gift-buying done.
Are you feeling the stress? Take advantage of these last-minute shopping tips to make sure you have your gifts wrapped and under the tree before Christmas! Couple with Christmas gifts in snow
Before you start your shopping trip, create a list of the gifts you still need to purchase and set a budget. It is easy to overspend while shopping during the holidays. Stores offer their best bargains at this time of year, offering 60 to 70 per cent off in enticing deals that encourage consumers to spend more money.
Personalize your Christmas shopping list and be specific about what types of gift you still need to buy. Sticking to your list will stop you from impulsive buying and overspending.
In some instances, it is not too late to still purchase gifts online. A lot of companies are still advertising holiday cyber sales and also offering express shipping at little to no additional cost.
You could still find a great deal and have it arrive on time. Most online companies are updating their websites daily with the exact date and time you will need to have placed your order to have it arrive by Christmas. bbb - logo
Make sure you are checking your e-mail for online coupons and promo codes, especially if you intend on buying items from a company’s website you visit frequently. I finished my own last-minute shopping at the weekend and was able to save a few extra dollars.
I even checked my e-mail while standing in line at one of my favorite stores and found a promo code to use for my purchase. Whether it is a small percentage or a huge discount off your total, any money saved is always a bargain.
Gift cards are popular holiday presents. They make great stocking stuffers and are just as good as giving cash. If companies offer incentives to purchase gift cards for use at their locations, you get something out of the deal, such as saving $5-$10 off the price of the cards.
One last additional important tip to remember during the holidays is to check and verify company policies. A lot of companies alter their refund, return and exchange policies, especially for popular items like electronics. Often, these policies will have a shortened or extended deadline or might only offer a store credit for returns. Companies generally do not publicly post their policies, so make sure you inquire or request a copy before committing to a purchase.
The clock is ticking for last-minute holiday shoppers. However, you are not alone, so expect crowds in almost every store you visit. Be patient, get all your shopping done and then enjoy the holidays with your loved ones!
Denisha Maxey is the manager responsible for the dispute resolution and alternative dispute resolution team at Houston Better Business Bureau.

Crimewatch with Walt Candelari

THE HOLIDAY season is in high gear and has been for many people and businesses. While seasonal tunes – White Christmas, Silent Night, etc – are playing and sending out message of peace, every now and then I get hooked on a tune that will not go away. Currently, it’s Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  Go figure.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the readers of The Post and the newspaper’s publisher, David Day, and editor, Ian White, for their support this past year. soc_preholidayshopping
I have enjoyed everyone’s feedback and hope that, in some small way, I have been able to help our readers avoid some of the scams and security issues that are out there.
One end-of-year reminder – as you shop during the last few days of this holiday season, don’t let your guard down as the crooks definitely will still be out there looking for easy pickings.
Park close to an entrance, preferably one that is well lit, and note landmarks so that, when you are ready to leave a store or mall, you won’t be wandering around like a lost puppy.
When shopping with children, take a photo of them on your cell phone just before you start shopping so that, if you become separated, you have an up-to-date picture of them and an accurate description of their clothing. Teach them that, if they are separated from you, they must go to a security officer or a nearby salesperson for help. Tell them: “Do not trust a stranger”.
I like the adage that advises you to “shop early and often”. How tempting to a thief is a picture of someone exiting a shop carrying a large amount of packages or finding them clearly visible on the seat of a vehicle?
It doesn’t matter what is in the packages. The odds are in the thieves’ favor that there will be something good. Christmas will come early for them! Put your purchases in the trunk or hide them under a blanket.
Shop with someone as there is safety in numbers. Ladies, remember to carry your purse with the opening against your body and the strap around you and not just draped over one shoulder. If you do go shopping with someone, keep your purses between you. Guys, wallets in a front pocket are a bit better than in a back pocket for keeping pickpockets at bay.
Money and credit cards make the world go around and they certainly help thieves get around to doing their shopping at your expense. Take only the cards you need and a “guestimate” of the amount of cash you’ll also need. It only takes one lost check to give someone a lot of information about you.
Ladies, please leave your bling at home. Whether or not it is real will make little difference if you are confronted by someone who wants what you are wearing. If you were a thief, would you believe someone trying to tell you that big sparkly gemstone is not real? Do you think it would make a difference?
Peace, love and prosperity to you and yours this season and in the coming year.
Remember: Think, plan and execute crime-prevention design. Don’t be a crime victim.
Walt Candelari is a crime-prevention specialist and community-policing officer with Dickinson police department.