5 things for Houstonians to know for Friday, Dec. 3

Plumber discovers money, checks in wall of Joel Osteen���s Lakewood Church, years after $600K burglary

Here are things to know for Friday, Dec. 3:

1. Plumber discovers money, checks in wall of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church years after $600K burglary

You may remember hundreds of thousands of dollars that were stolen from a safe at Lakewood Church. It was a big headline back in 2014.

Now, all these years later, another bombshell has dropped.

A plumber says he found money in a wall while he was doing work at the church on Nov. 10, 2021. The news came to light during the radio morning show at 100.3 The Bull.

“It was just unbelievable!” Morning Show Host for the Morning Bullpen George Lindsey said. “The things he was telling us that they found in the walls.”

Lindsey was shocked when he listened to viewers Thursday morning, but says this one caller really took the segment over the edge.

“There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile,” the caller said. “We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like ‘Oh wow!’”

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2. Texas scientists search for potentially virulent new omicron COVID-19 variant as state health officials push vaccination

Scientists across Texas are scouring COVID-19 tests for evidence of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a potentially virulent but still mysterious new strain that was identified in the U.S. on Wednesday after circulating in other countries for weeks.

But it’s anyone’s guess, and a matter of much speculation in the Texas medical community, what sort of impact omicron might have on Texas when it lands here, which experts say is likely to be soon.

That’s because so much is unknown about the new variant: the severity of the illness it causes, whether it can resist vaccines and natural antibodies and whether it’s more contagious than the delta variant that has burned through Texas and the U.S. for months.

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3. KPRC 2 Investigates: Airports director’s cozy relationship with a subordinate

The personal and work relationship between a top leader and a program manager at Houston Airports System is under scrutiny after allegations of sexual harassment by a former employee.

KPRC 2 Investigates first reported the sexual harassment complaint against Maricela Kruseman by a former employee. The whistleblower also blames Mario Diaz, the director of the airport’s system, for retaliation after he came forward with those claims.

The complaint is now being investigated by the city’s Office of the Inspector General.

The former employee says Kruseman and Diaz are in a romantic relationship and it has created problems.

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4. Pause on I-45 highway project partially lifted amid talks

The Texas Transportation Commission said it has reached an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration that would allow the state to resume design work on certain parts of a disputed project that would remake 24 miles along Interstate 45 and several other roadways in the Houston area.

The $9 billion project, which has been in the works for nearly two decades, was put on hold in March after the Federal Highway Administration began its investigation into civil rights and environmental justice concerns that were raised about the proposal.

Harris County, which includes Houston, filed a federal lawsuit alleging that state officials ignored the project’s impact on neighborhoods. Last month, the county paused its lawsuit in the hopes of resolving concerns about the project.

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5. Tesla officially moves headquarters from California to Texas

Tesla says it has officially moved its corporate headquarters from Silicon Valley to a large factory under construction outside of Austin, Texas.

The company made the announcement late Wednesday in a filing with U.S. securities regulators. CEO Elon Musk had said at the company’s annual meeting in October that the move was coming.

The filing said the relocation from Palo Alto, California, to what Tesla calls a “Gigafactory” on Harold Green Road near Austin was done on Wednesday.

In U.S. regulatory filings at the end of last year, Tesla said it had about 71,000 employees worldwide. Company news releases in 2020 said about 10,000 work at the Palo Alto headquarters and 10,000 are employed at its factory in Fremont, California.

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