Summit sheds light on cancer cluster, elder fraud, Boy Scouts recruiting members, and more on Houston Newsmakers

Sign erected by residents of the Kashmere Gardens area of the 5th Ward warning against playing outside where creosote contamination may be present. (KPRC)


  • Khambrel Marshall spoke to officials about the cancer cluster in Firth Ward reportedly caused by creosote and about a summit held to obtain answers for the community.
  • Elder fraud has cost people about $3 billion. Houston Newsmakers spoke to the experts about how Houstonians can protect their pockets.
  • The Boy Scouts of America is recovering after bankruptcy and hoping to encourage people to join the organization.

Creosote is the culprit for decades of sickness in Fifth Ward

For decades the chemical creosote, which was used to coat railroad ties, seeped into the nearby Kashmere Gardens community in Fifth Ward. During those same decades residents in the community were suffering higher than normal rates of cancer and other diseases. In 2019, the Texas Department of Health confirmed what many already knew. They were living in what’s called a cancer cluster, which then accelerated their efforts to find solutions to what for many is a life or death circumstance.

Cancer Cluster Summit Yields answers and way forward

At-Large Position 4 City Council Member Dr. Letitia Plummer convened a three-day summit to get answers about the Fifth Ward Cancer Cluster and to try to provide hope for the residents.

“They’re frustrated. They’re tired of the meetings,” she said. “Not only do they want to be made whole right now but they want historical restoration.”

As a part of the summit Consulting Hydrogeologist Kristine Uhlman provided eye opening insight into why creosote, a human carcinogen, has impacted the community so negatively for decades.

“What Creosote does, because it’s heavier than water, it seeps into the ground (and) sometimes moves horizontally and drops down,” she said. “A huge plume of creosote went underneath residential homes,” she said.

Uhlman said toxic vapors from that plume rose to surface throughout the community. What were the results of the three day summit? What course of action or recommendations will be made? Those answers in this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall and on Houston Newsmakers EXTRA Online.

Elder fraud losses top $3 billion!

The FBI said incidents of elder fraud have increased 80% the last couple of years. Heith Janke is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the White Collar Branch of the Houston FBI Office. He is a guest on this week’s Houston Newsmakers and said they are increasing their efforts to go after the criminals. Awareness is perhaps the best defense, and all of us have a role to play.

“Make sure you’re talking with your loved ones, with your neighbors who might be elderly that are lonely that may be isolated,” he said. “These scammers will also target those individuals that are there by themselves.” See the full interview and information about best ways to protect against elder scams on this week’s program.

Boy Scouts of America emerge from bankruptcy-Local Council ready to grow

Marvin D. Smith said COVID-19 took quite a toll on the participation of scouts in the Houston region. He is the CEO, Scout Executive for the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He said now that we’re coming out of the pandemic, his focus is on growing the numbers of boys and girls getting back involved, The news that the Boy Scouts of America emerged from bankruptcy this week was a big step. The BSA also established a multi-billion dollar trust fund for the victims of sexual abuse. Smith said the BSA has been aggressive in taking responsibility in the effort to save scouting.

“They had a social and moral responsibility to make sure they took care of the victims that this happened to years ago,” he said “If you take a fast forward to where we are right now with our youth protection policies and programs in place, we have stringent youth protection program that definitely keeps our youth safe now.” See what programs are available on this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall.

What to do about raising the debt ceiling?

The debate rages on about whether or not to raise the debt limit and whether the White House will meet GOP conditions to do so. (KPRC-Pixabay)

House Republicans are demanding the White House meet their requests to cut spending in the next budget if they are going to go along with raising the debt ceiling. The vote by Congress to raise the debt ceiling is a vote to pay the debt already incurred by the U.S. and not about future spending. One has nothing to do with the other but this year, as others have attempted to do, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP voted this week to raise the ceiling (on a 217 to 215 vote along party lines) but only if the White House agrees to a 14% cut over the next ten years. President Biden has said he will talk about the budget, after the debt ceiling is raised. If the ceiling is not raised, experts said the United States will be in default on the bills it owes, something no one wants. What appears to be happening now is brinkmanship. Who will blink? Why is the “full faith and credit” of the United States being used as a bargaining chip? Are both sides of the aisle at fault? Read here to separate the fact from fiction.

For more information on this week’s Houston Newsmakers

Letitia Plummer D.D.S., At-Large Houston City Council Pos. 4


Kristine Uhlman Consulting Hydrogeologist


Heith Janke, Houston FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, White Collar Branch



Marvin D. Smith, CEO Scout Executive, Sam Houston Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA)


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