A GOP power grab shatters 30 years of political progress for Black voters in Galveston County
Republicans dismantled the only Galveston County commissioners precinct in which voters of color held political clout. It’s a major blow for Black and Hispanic voters who had been building political momentum.
Congress allocated $19 billion in federal stimulus money to Texas public education, but schools have yet to see an extra dime
For more than a year, the federal government has been pumping billions of dollars into school districts across the country to help them meet the demands of the pandemic. Most states have used that pot of stimulus funds as Congress intended: buying personal protective equipment for students and teachers, laptops for kids learning from home, improved ventilation systems for school buildings to prevent virus transmission and covering other costs.
First Day Of STAAR Testing Canceled For Thousands Of Students Experiencing Technical Issues Across Texas – Houston Public Media
Texas officials mandated that students take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness in person this year at monitored test sites, although millions of students are still learning remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.houstonpublicmedia.org
Criminal complaint filed by Galveston county judge to investigate power outages during winter storm
HOUSTON – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry says he wants tough action. He’s blaming those deaths on power outages that lasted longer than expected during the winter storm. A criminal complaint filed Monday with the Galveston County District Attorney’s office could lead to an investigation and charges filed at the DA’s discretion. It wasn’t hard to find people who agree with Judge Henry’s decision to call for a criminal investigation. “Why were residents cut off and left off, while office building s downtown remained powered on the entire time,” Judge Henry said.
Galveston County to allow employees, guests to decide whether to wear a mask
Greg Abbott’s plan to cancel the statewide mask order, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry plans to allow employees and members of the public to choose whether to wear a mask while in county facilities or department offices. “There shall be no pressure or intimidation to wear a mask,” the email stated. The county also expects all staff for commissioners court to return to working on-site full-time starting Monday. “Working from home or working remotely will no longer be allowed,” the email stated. Those who would like to remain working remotely are asked to contact human resources.
ERCOT asked feds to pause federal environmental limits during winter storm
As last week’s historic winter storm was rolling across Texas, officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, was asking the federal government to temporarily suspend environmental limits for several power producers. ERCOT officials could not tell KPRC 2 at what time the request to DOE was made, but did provide us with a notice to “All ERCOT Market Participants,” notifying them of the DOE request at 5:58 p.m. CST. The wording of the request strikes a very different tone than public statements ERCOT officials made three days prior. Cohan said he disagrees that ERCOT officials adequately predicted customer demand during this storm. AdThe North American Electric Reliability Corporation, NERC, which has regulatory authority over power plants, is set to adopt mandatory winterization rules in November 2021.
LIVE BLOG: Houston-area restaurants answer the call for help amid power and water outage
We remain in the midst of a severe winter weather event. 4: 40 a.m. - Houstonians rush to buy water after boil water advisory issuedHoustonians are rushing to buy water after a boil water advisory was issued. — County Judge KP George (@JudgeKPGeorge) February 17, 20214:20 a.m. - Houston, Harris County face issues from winter weather alertHouston and Harris County are facing issues from winter weather alerts. AdMondayDowntown Houston lit up during major winter power outageDowntown Houston lit up during major power outage due to winter storm on Feb 15, 2021. Officials said if residents lose power, which sporadic power outage is expected, the safest places to remain is at home.
Galveston County residents face water and electricity issues
GALVESTON, Texas – Most of Galveston County is without power, as of Wednesday. County Judge Mark Herny said if he knew millions of residents would be out of electricity he would have ordered an evacuation days before the storm. Galveston County Office of Emergency Management officials said more than 62% of the county remains without power, which is a small improvement from 70% earlier in the day. Many residents are either without running water or urged to boil water if they have it for safety. The Galveston County Medical Examiners Office also put a refrigerated truck outside its building to store bodies.
UPDATE: Houston, Much Of Harris County Under Boil Water Notice As Winter Storm Bares Down – Houston Public Media
She added that widespread power outages have affected generators, and the low water pressure and busted pipes are affecting first responders. The other main threat to the region, besides ongoing power outages, continues to be poor weather. An update from Galveston County Judge Mark Henry regarding the sustained power outages in the county over the past 2 days. He called on lawmakers to investigate the widespread power outages to make sure they never happen again. But because of power outages across the region that knocked out peoples’ heating systems, that had to be expand, Turner said.houstonpublicmedia.org
Galveston County hopes to vaccinate 1,000 people per day as distribution ramps up
GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, Galveston County Local Health Authority Dr. Philip Keiser, and Dr. Janak Patel with the University of Texas Medical Branch held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss mass vaccination efforts in Galveston County. The first mass vaccination site in Galveston County will be at the Walter Hall Park. We are going to -- we think -- be doing 1,000 (doses) a day hopefully starting next week.”The vaccination site will be in Galveston County, but per state rules, will not be limited to residents of Galveston County. The sign-up is currently through UTMB and the Galveston County Health District. pic.twitter.com/dwO0XXIjwb — Galveston County TX (@GalvCoTx) January 19, 2021Be sure to watch the video to be published at the bottom of this article for a full recording of this event.
Brazoria, Galveston counties want to move into Houston’s trauma service area
GALVESTON, Texas – After a state-mandated tightening of coronavirus restrictions prompted businesses to close or reduce capacity in Brazoria and Galveston counties, leaders in both places are asking to be moved into the same trauma service area as Houston. Brazoria and Galveston counties are in Trauma Service Area R, while Harris County, where Houston is located, is in area Q.COVID-19 hospitalizations in area R have been at or above 15% for at least two weeks, while the rate has been inching higher to that mark in area Q. In their request, The judges cite their distance from the majority of counties in TSA R and their close proximity to TSA Q. “The spread of COVID-19 within TSA-Q impacts the residents and hospitals in Galveston County and Brazoria County significantly more than the spread of COVID-19 in TSA-R,” the judges wrote. There are two other Houston-area counties that are in area R -- Chambers and Liberty.
Galveston County Refuses To Enforce Gov. Abbott’s COVID-19 Restrictions Amid Surge – Houston Public Media
The move comes as Governor Greg Abbott has reimposed business restrictions in nine southeast Texas counties. Galveston County officials said they will refuse to enforce business restrictions imposed by Gov. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said he could not enforce the order even if he wanted to. The county judge added that he sent multiple communications to Abbott asking that Galveston County be exempted, but said his requests had been ignored. Abbott’s office and the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not respond to requests for comment.houstonpublicmedia.org
Relaxed restrictions rolled back in 4 Houston-area counties with high COVID-19 hospitalizations
HOUSTON – Relaxed restrictions were rolled back Tuesday in some Houston-area counties where coronavirus-related hospitalizations remain high. A similar change was implemented in the Trauma Service Area that includes Dallas earlier this month. Galveston County asks for exemptionHenry said he has sent three requests for Galveston County to be exempt from the tighter restrictions, but those requests have gone unanswered. He said that hospitals in Galveston County are taking patients from the surrounding area and only 65 county residents are hospitalized with COVID-19. He said the Galveston County District Attorney has said he will likely not accept charges related to violations of the order.
Hospitalizations near critical threshold in area that includes Galveston, Brazoria counties
BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas – Nineteen counties in North Texas are facing new restrictions, after seven straight days where the percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 15%. Some sports in Galveston, Brazoria and Chambers County are seeing numbers increase. On Friday, the current hospital rate was 7.2% in Galveston County and 9.7% in Brazoria County. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry requested an exemption from the Governor if the hospital region reaches the 15 percent threshold. Dr. Anthony Rogers in Brazoria County says they’re trying their part to stop the spread of the virus.
Through Early Voting Week One, Greater Houston Casts Ballots At Record Pace
Voters in Spring lined up last week to cast their ballots on October 13, the first day of early voting in Texas. As of 4:10 p.m. Monday, 58,600 people had voted in-person that day in Harris County. Elizabeth Lewis, the Administrator of Communications for the Harris County Clerk’s office, said this year’s early vote tally is already nearly two-thirds of the total early vote count in 2016, when approximately 977,000 early votes were cast in Harris County. EXPAND A Trump supporter waved homemade signs at the line of voters waiting to get into NRG Park on Early Voting day one last week. He said that this year’s early voting period, with an extra six days thanks to an extension granted by Gov.houstonpress.com
Galveston County judge signs executive order permitting $1,000 fine against poll workers who turn away maskless voters
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry signed an executive order Friday prohibiting the requirement to wear a face mask while voting. The county will enforce a $1,000 fine against poll workers who turn away voters who don’t wear a mask. Henry said he signed the order after several county residents were turned away from the polls because they were not wearing a mask. He also admitted that he was also turned away from voting because he refused to wear a mask. “This is a significant constitutional issue,” Henry said during the press conference.
This Galveston establishment is welcoming customers after Gov. Abbott approved the reopening of bars
GALVESTON, Texas – The booze was flowing once again at bars across Galveston County. Wednesday was the bar’s first day to reopen after the governor recently gave bars the go-ahead. With the final approval from the county judges, bars can reopen at 50% capacity but must practice social distancing guidelines. Now that bars are once again allowed to open their doors both customers and the bars themselves are optimistic about the future. ”Literally everybody was just waiting to have places to go and hang out again you know while also safely practicing social distancing," said Balusek.
Galveston County judge celebrates reopening of bars at Railean Rum Distillery in San Leon
GALVESTON COUNTY – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry celebrated Wednesday the reopening of bars with locals. He hosted a happy hour at Buccaneer Bar at Railean Rum Distillery in San Leon. Kelly Railean, the owner of Railean Distillery and Buccaneer Bar, said the past seven months have been tough because of COVID-19. All bars in Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties will reopen. While Harris County is the only local county not allowing bars to reopen.
Galveston County judge to host ‘happy hour’ with residents to celebrate reopening of bars
GALVESTON, Texas – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry will celebrate the reopening of bars with residents by hosting a happy hour at Buccaneer Bar at Railean Rum Distillery in San Leon on Oct. 14. READ: County judges outline their plans for reopening bars after Abbott’s new orderOnce Judge Henry reviewed the governor’s announcement, he said he would allow bars to reopen earlier than Oct. 14. “I want to let small business owners know that I’ll be reopening bars immediately,” Henry wrote on Twitter Wednesday. He indicated on Thursday that Galveston County law enforcement would not intervene if bars decided to open even earlier. Judge Henry said that not only bar and nightclub owners were suffering during the closure period but so were service organizations.
County judges outline their plans for reopening bars after Abbott’s new order
HOUSTON – Houston-area county judges weighed in Wednesday on their plans for reopening bars following Texas Gov. READ: Abbott says bars can reopen at 50% capacity in counties with low COVID-19 hospitalizationsThe new executive order gives the authority to reopen bars to the county judges. “I want to let small business owners know that I’ll be reopening bars immediately,” Henry wrote on Twitter Wednesday. Abbott's Exec Order GA-32 issued today which gives County Judge's the authority to finally reopen bars within their county. Expect an official announcement tomorrow, but I want to let small business owners know that I'll be reopening bars immediately.
Tropical Storm Beta churns slowly toward Texas and Louisiana
Forecasters said Beta was not expected to bring the same amount of rainfall that Texas experienced during either Hurricane Harvey in 2017 or Tropical Storm Imelda last year. The first rain bands from Beta reached the Texas coast on Sunday, but the heaviest rain wasn't expected to arrive until Monday into Tuesday. If the system makes landfall in Texas, it would be the ninth named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in 2020. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda. Wilfred, which had been a tropical storm, weakened to a tropical depression earlier Sunday.
Voluntary evacuations issued for Bolivar Peninsula, city of Galveston ahead of Tropical Storm Beta
GALVESTON COUNTY – As the wind begins to pick up across the island and another disturbance brews in the Gulf, Galveston County and city leaders are already preparing. During a news conference Saturday, Henry issued a disaster declaration for the county in preparation for what could be “significant damage” and a voluntary evacuation for the Bolivar Peninsula. “The peninsula has a chance of being cut off from the rest of the county,” Henry said. According to Henry, people who feel comfortable being without power for a few days are in the clear to stay home. “We hope you don’t have to execute it, but be prepared in case you do.”Watch the full update below:Galveston County Judge Mark Henry gives update on Tropical Storm Beta.
Tropical Storm Beta spurs hurricane worries for Texas
MIAMI – An exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season was churning along Saturday as the Texas coast prepared for a tropical storm that could strengthen into a hurricane before breaching its shores in the week ahead. Both the city of Galveston and Galveston County on Saturday issued voluntary evacuation orders ahead of Tropical Storm Beta, as did the city of Seabrook to the north of Galveston. Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning from Port Aransas, Texas, to Morgan City, Louisiana. Beta had maximum sustained winds at 60 mph (95 kph) and was moving north-northeast at 2 mph (4 kph) Saturday night. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda.
Is Houston-area prepared for a major hurricane? A status update on projects seeking to mitigate impact
However, a project to protect Galveston Bay down to San Luis pass from storm surge is still in the planning stages. He and his colleagues have also recently proposed a plan to help mitigate storm surge in the bay. Storm surge removed or redistributed sand and dune areas along the entire beachfront on Galveston Island. Entergys response:ETI regularly inspects the transmission system and repairs and replaces components in order to keep the system in good working order. This enhanced the current transmission infrastructure with more modern and efficient technology to better serve the region.
Very lucky: Galveston, Harris counties lift evacuation orders after Hurricane Laura strikes east of region
HOUSTON The evacuation orders in both Galveston and Harris counties were lifted Thursday morning after Hurricane Laura narrowly missed the Houston region. The hurricane made landfall in Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph about 120 miles east of Houston. It was an even closer miss for Galveston, where the eye passed within 79 miles of the county. We were very lucky, said Galveston County Judge Mark Henry. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that the effects of Hurricane Laura in the county were minimal and that people who evacuated can return to their homes.
LIVE: Galveston County judge provides update on Hurricane Laura
GALVESTON, Texas Officials in Galveston County are continuing to monitor Hurricane Laura as it approaches the Gulf Coast. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the storm and preparations for it. Henry issued a mandatory evacuation of Bolivar Peninsula on Tuesday and a voluntary evacuation of other parts of the county amid concerns about storm surge. The forecast track for Hurricane Laura has the storm making landfall very late Wednesday or very early Thursday near Sabine Pass. This story will be updated.
Galveston County judge issues disaster declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Laura; mandatory evacuation ordered Tuesday
GALVESTON, Texas – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry issued a disaster declaration for the area just hours after the city of Galveston issued a voluntary evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Laura. The voluntary evacuation has since upgraded to a mandatory evacuation as of Tuesday. According to Henry, the disaster declaration affects multiple areas including, Tiki Island, San Leon, Baycliff, Hitchcock, the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston. “Forecasts are showing the possibility of heavy rains, tropical force winds, and storm surge impacting our area,” Henry said in a press conference Monday afternoon. Laura is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane with winds upwards of 100 miles per hour.
WATCH LIVE: Galveston County Judge provides update on countys storm preparations
HOUSTON Galveston County Judge Mark Henry will hold a press conference Sunday to provide an update on the countys storm preparations. The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management continues to prepare for the potential tropical weather that could impact the region early next week. The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management is closely monitoring the storms. Have you plan ready kit ready be prepared for anything, County Judge Mark Henry said. Residents brace for possible stormsSaturday was another hot and humid day in Galveston, but that will change soon as we continue to track Tropical Storm Laura and Marco.
Educators afraid of returning to Cy-Fair ISD schools amid pandemic, survey reveals
CYPRESS, Texas – A group of community advocates made up of Cy-Fair Independent School District parents, educators, nurses and a psychologist crafted a 10-question anonymous informal survey for teachers, faculty and staff. The goal of the survey was to make sure the decision-makers are keeping their safety in mind as Cy-Fair ISD leaders move forward with reopening plans. LimitationsThe surveyors had to rely on social media and word of mouth as they did not have access to contact information for CFISD staff or school staff statewide. As a result, surveyors feel they have only been able to reach a small percentage of Texas school staff and results may not reflect all perspectives. The creators of the survey said Cy-Fair ISD has done a good job so far but they need to do better.
This is what Houston-area counties are saying about enforcing mask orders
HOUSTON Harris Countys mask order is in effect. While some counties have not announced any plans to enforce a mask order, they are leaving it up to individuals and businesses to enforce them. Heres what Houston-area counties are doing:Montgomery CountyCounty Judge Mark Keough announced Friday he does not have plans to enact a mask order. George will use the feedback to help weigh whether a mask order should be implemented. Counties with no mask order update as of Monday:
Analysis: Rising property values and taxes during an economic slump
Property taxes cant go up too much without voter approval; just how much is too much is a matter of legal debate. But between the pandemic and the economic slump, property owners annual anguish over property appraisals and taxes has shifted. This years taxes are supposed to be based on commercial, industrial and residential property values at the beginning of the year. According to the state comptroller, local governments raised about $1 in sales taxes for every $7 in property taxes in 2018. Cities are starting their budget machinery now, even as Texans argue with government appraisers about their property values.
Galveston County judge urges Abbott to freeze property values due to coronavirus
Galveston County judge urges Abbott to freeze property values due to coronavirusGalveston County Judge Mark Henry, left, wrote to Gov. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, left, wrote to Gov. Greg Abbott, requesting that 2020 property appraisals be frozen at 2019 levels because of the pandemic. Galveston County Central Appraisal District officials said the vast majority of county properties saw an increase in value in 2020, which would lead to higher property taxes. The Galveston County Daily News reported that Republican state Rep. Mayes Middleton, whose district includes portions of Galveston County, also requested a legal opinion about whether cancellation of in-person property value protests violates Texans constitutional rights.chron.com
This is where all Houston-area counties stand on wearing masks in public
Brazoria County has encouraged residents to wear a face covering when out in public, but it is not mandated. Fort Bend County Judge KP George highly recommends residents to wear protective gear when going out. Galveston County will not be issuing any orders mandating citizens to wear a mask or face covering in public, county judge Mark Henry announced on April 22. Galveston County will not be issuing any orders mandating citizens to wear masks or face coverings in public. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough issued a statement that he will not mandate residents to wear a mask in public places.
Abbott orders Texas schools to remain closed until at least May 4
Abbott orders Texas schools to remain closed until at least May 4Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, center, used his authority Tuesday to order the closure of the states public and private schools. Photo: Nick Wagner, MBR / Associated Press Photo: Nick Wagner, MBR / Associated Press Image 1 of / 1 Caption Close Abbott orders Texas schools to remain closed until at least May 4 1 / 1 Back to GalleryAll Texas schools must remain closed until at least May 4 to further reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, Gov. At an afternoon press conference, Abbott employed his authority to order the closure of Texas public and private schools, superseding decisions made by local elected officials and superintendents. All Houston-area public school superintendents previously had ordered that schools remain closed until at least April 10, though they were expected to extend the shutdown in the coming days if Abbott did not act.chron.com
Nearby Cities and Counties Follow Houston and Harris County's Lead to an Extent [UPDATED]
Update 1 p.m. Harris County Public Health reports two new cases of COVID-19 which brings the total to 13 positive cases. HCPHs two new cases, which appear to be community spread:A 60-70 year-old man, who lives in the Northeast quadrant of Harris County. A 30-40 year-old man, who lives in the Southwest quadrant of Harris County. In its announcement it cited the Harris County and City of Houston latest guidelines asking everyone to avoid groups of ten or more people. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry has said he considers Harris County order closing restaurants and bars illegal.houstonpress.com
Harris, Galveston county judges discuss flooding, transportation, economy
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Galveston County Judge Mark Henry met Oct. 2 at the Bay Oaks Country Club to discuss various issues facing both counties. Galveston County, Henry said, is also focused on economic development. By being stable, predictable and consistent, businesses are choosing to relocate to and expand in Galveston County, Henry said. Hidalgo also discussed how Harris County commissioners recently voted on historic bail bond reform, which would waive bond fees for misdemeanor arrestees. Overall, Hidalgo said the county wants to utilize smart, innovative people to find solutions to the countys major problems, including flooding and transportation.communityimpact.com
TxDOT approves plan to complete Grand Parkway, judge says
A hearing to discuss plans to finish completion of the Grand Parkway is scheduled Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Austin. GALVESTON, Texas - The Texas Department of Transportation approved a plan Thursday to complete the construction of the Grand Parkway, according to Galveston County Judge Mark Henry. Draft versions of the UTP had cut the completion of SH99 (Grand Parkway) from the list of future projects. Without your efforts, the Grand Parkway may very well have been removed from TxDOTs plans. Galveston County will continue to work with TxDOT to bring this project to completion."
Judge urges voters to show support for Grand Parkway ahead of hearing to discuss completion plans
LEAGUE CITY, Texas - A hearing to discuss plans to complete the Grand Parkway is scheduled Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Austin. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry released a statement to his residents that said it would be "damaging" to scrap plans. If delayed or sidelined, the impacts on Galveston County and surrounding areas would be damaging. A fully constructed Grand Parkway would provide and additional and crucial lifesaving hurricane evacuation route for all Galveston County residents. The Texas Transportation Commission is expected to vote on it in late August.
Friendswood City Council agenda resolution supports Grand Parkway Segment B
The city of Friendswood has added a resolution supporting Segment B staying on the Grand Parkway plan to its agenda for the Aug. 5 meeting. Though not in Friendswoods city limits, Segment B proposed in northern Galveston County is vital to mobility in our region, Friendswood Mayor Mike Foreman said in a press release. Segment B would run from I-45 to Hwy. 288; Segment C would run from Hwy. Its important we make our voices heard in the process, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said in a letter.communityimpact.com
Texas coastal communities may have less than 24 hour notice after storm forms in the Gulf
GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A lot of tourists flock to Galveston Island for the summer, and some of them might not know what to do if a strong storm or hurricane hits. County leaders are urging everyone to be prepared and have a plan in case one does. We hope that we're going to be okay and we get out of town in time if it does come. "County leaders plan on activating the emergency operations center on Thursday, but it could change based on projections of the storm. Regardless, they're asking everyone along the coast to have a plan if the storm hits.abc13.com
Galveston County Judge pays for CHL classes for employees
GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – The Galveston County Judge is paying out of his own pocket for county employees to take classes for concealed handgun licenses. We are the first governmental entity we know of to have encouraged it, County Judge Mark Henry said. The first class will have 65 county employees. Clear Creek Gun Range in donating the range time and some county commissioners are offering to pitch in their own money too. In the future, Henry expects to offer the class to spouses of county employees and then dependents of county employees as long as the dependent is 21 or over.