AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $697,568 in fines involving 224 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ conference earlier this week. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

Operators were assessed $291,550 after failing to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Details on these Master Default Orders can be found here.

Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $119,268 for oil and gas, LP-Gas and pipeline rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $286,750 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Details on all these Master Agreed Orders can be found here.

In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

HOUSTON (March 23, 2017) – The Houston Symphony and Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada announced today the extension of Orozco-Estrada’s contract as music director for another three seasons beyond his current five-year contract that began with the 2014-15 season. In the middle of his third season as music director, Orozco-Estrada will now continue to lead one of America’s most dynamic and forward-thinking orchestras through the 2021-22 season.

Orozco-Estrada is the fourth Houston Symphony music director to hold the Roy and Lillie Cullen Chair, a position endowed in perpetuity by The Cullen Foundation. Since assuming the post, Orozco-Estrada has elevated the orchestra’s artistry, engaged new and traditional audiences with his spontaneous approach on and off the podium, reimagined the concert-going experience through unique partnerships and the innovative use of technology, and raised the international profile of the Houston Symphony. Orozco-Estrada’s priorities will include dynamic and memorable concerts, a growing catalog of recording projects, the commissioning of new works in collaboration with living composers, and touring activity that is helping to burnish Houston’s reputation as a cultural destination. Orozco-Estrada is the Houston Symphony’s 15th music director and the first Colombian-born conductor to assume this post in the orchestra’s 104-year history.

“I feel extremely honored to continue this journey together with the musicians of this great orchestra,” said Houston Symphony Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada. “I’m grateful for the support and the vote of confidence given to me from day one and very much look forward to strengthening my relationships with members of the orchestra. We will continue to explore inspiring new works and projects that allow us to embrace new and loyal audiences as well as further our artistic growth.”

“Andrés’ leadership, artistic vision and ability to interpret music so genuinely that it evokes powerful feelings and emotions from both musicians and audiences alike is both a gift and a driving force that reminds us that music is more than just notes,” said Mark C. Hanson, Executive Director and CEO, Margaret Alkek Williams Chair. “Andrés’ depth of musicianship, extraordinary ability to connect with orchestra members on stage and people in the community, along with his dedication to the art form, have earned him the respect and admiration of so many fans throughout Houston and the rest of the world.”

“My fellow Board members and I are so proud of the successful partnership between Andrés and our talented musicians that produces so many inspiring concerts each season,” said Steven P. Mach, President of the Board. “We look forward to continuing to support our organization’s artistic ambition.”

The announcement comes just days before Orozco-Estrada leads two programs marking the conclusion of his three-season cycle of all nine Beethoven symphonies, which began in his inaugural season and will conclude with Symphonies No. 6 & 7 this weekend and a new, semi-staged production of Beethoven’s Fidelio on March 31 and April 2. This much-anticipated announcement also follows the international release of the Houston Symphony’s and Orozco-Estrada’s most recent recording of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, which is part of a 3-disc series featuring Dvořák’s last four symphonies. The series marks Orozco-Estrada’s first commercial recording project with the orchestra.

AUSTIN, TX – On Wednesday, the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas hosted a memorial service at the state Capitol to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty. The names of eight volunteer firefighters, who lost their lives while protecting or serving those in their community, were added to the Volunteer Firemen Monument.

“Firefighters are not heroes because they died, they are heroes because they lived to serve,” said Ben Kennedy, Chaplain of the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas. “Never forget their legacy, their dedication and their service.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attended the memorial service, thanking the firefighters and their families for their service and for keeping our families and communities safe. He emphasized his support for the families of fallen first responders, noting that one of his legislative priorities this session is Senate Bill 15, which would create a homestead tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a first responder killed in the line of duty, including spouses of previously deceased responders.

“Firefighters across Texas and the United States put their lives on the line each and every time they respond to an emergency,” said Chris Barron, SFFMA executive director. “We honored those responders who have given the ultimate sacrifice with the memorial service, however we also need to remember the responders of today and the sacrifices they make to protect our families and communities.”

Also in attendance were Sen. Brian Birdwell, Sen. Charles Perry, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Rep. Trent Ashby, Rep. Brooks Landgraf, Rep. John Raney, Rep. Ramon Romero.

The following fallen volunteer firefighters were added to Volunteer Firemen Monument:

Firefighter John Sanders, Snyder VFD, August 20, 1966

Firefighter Marcus King, Claude VFD, February 1, 1995

Firefighter Jared Wright, Claude VFD, February 1, 1995

Firefighter Larry O’Neil, Lone Camp VFD, October 25, 2015

Firefighter Richard Cano, Cy-Fair VFD, November 29, 2015

Firefighter Stacy Crawford, Navarro County ESD#1, December 19, 2015

Firefighter John Kendall Reynolds, Buffalo VFD, July 3, 2016

Captain Coby Slaughter, Wink VFD, September 7, 2016

The Volunteer Firemen Monument is one of the four oldest monuments on the capitol grounds. It was erected by the SFFMA in 1896. The original granite statue was replaced by the bronze statue and rededicated in 1905.

Organized in 1876, SFFMA is Texas’ oldest and largest fire and EMS association serving the fire, industrial and emergency medical responders of Texas, as well as international members. SFFMA has the support of over 1,200 fire departments, 21,000 individual members, 80 industrial fire brigades, and also numerous EMS and international departments. The association is extremely active in legislative efforts that affect emergency response services in Texas, and has been successful in getting legislation passed which supports fire and EMS first responders.

For more information about this event, contact Chris Barron, SFFMA executive director, at 512-633-4033 or via email at

Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick

FORT WORTH – Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick today joined industry experts, academics and public officials at the Texas A&M University 2017 Energy Law Symposium to discuss future opportunities and challenges for the United States and global energy industry.

“Today, we could not sustain life as we know it without energy of some kind,” Craddick said. “Over the course of the last few decades, our quality of life and the health of our environment have increased significantly thanks to energy. While there are plenty of uncertainties – OPEC, Russia, the Mexican energy market and changes in federal regulations – we know the U.S. energy industry is not going anywhere. In fact, through the last downturn, the industry only got better, producing more energy at less cost and with less impact to the environment.”

“From the Texas perspective, the future of our state’s energy industry is very bright,” Craddick said. “Texas is leading the new U.S. energy renaissance. And, a few important factors are contributing to our energy success: an all-of-the-above energy strategy including oil, gas, coal and renewables; pro-growth policies that support a business-friendly environment; infrastructure development allowing for industry expansion; and education and training for a technically skilled workforce. It is important that the federal government employs those same concepts nationally in support of the overall U.S. energy industry.”

Christi Craddick was elected statewide by the people of Texas in November 2012 to serve a six-year term as Texas Railroad Commissioner. A native of Midland, Christi is an attorney specializing in oil and gas, water, tax issues, electric deregulation and environmental policy.



By Tom Behrens,

In the boys Bi-district action…

Morton Ranch vs. Travis, 7:30 p.m., Thursday at Old Kempner Stadium

Strake Jesuit vs. Fort Bend Austin, 7:00 p.m., Friday at Strake Jesuit

Seven Lakes vs. Dulles, 7:00 p.m., Thursday at Rhodes Stadium

Cinco Ranch vs Clements, 7:00 p.m., Friday at Mercer

In the girls Bi-district action…

Taylor vs. Ridge Point, 7:30 p.m., Thursday at Mercer

Cinco Ranch vs. Fort Bend Austin, 7:00 p.m., Friday at Cinco Ranch

Tompkins vs Kempner, 7:30 p.m., Friday at Tompkins

Seven Lakes vs Clements, 5:00 p.m., Friday at Seven Lakes

Strake Jesuit comes into the playoffs as the power in boys District 19-6A, ranked number three in the nation according to FAB 50 national rankings. The Crusaders come into the playoffs on an 11 game winning streak

The final tally in District 19-6A district records show Strake Jesuit at 12-0-2 with a 11 game winning streak. Seven Lakes is second at 10-3-1, Cinco Ranch at 9-2-3, and Morton Ranch at 6-5-2.

In the final girls District 19-6A standings, Cinco Ranch finished with no losses and an 11-0-1 record. Tompkins finished at 8-2-2, Seven Lakes at 8-3-1, and Taylor at 6-4-2. The Lady Cougars of Cinco Ranch will be going for their fourth state regional title.

By Tom Behrens,

The Texas High School Coaches Association, (THSCA) has chosen to honor several legendary coaches from the Texas High School Football ranks – Eddy Peach (Arlington Lamar), Don Clayton (Katy Cinco Ranch), Roberto Vela (Edcouch-Elsa, Edinburg) and James Cameron (Rockwall, Kilgore, Sulphur Springs).

Eddy Peach was the head coach of the Lamar Vikings for 39 years, and posted a 310-123-6 record during his time there.

James Cameron took McKinney to the state semifinals and took Rockwall as far as the state semifinals, and he posted a 48-14-1 record with Rockwall.

Robert Vela died in 2007. His overall record was 137-73, and he scored 14 playoff berths during his time coaching. Robert Vela High School in Edinburg is named after him.

Don Clayton is the head coach and athletic director of Katy Cinco Ranch. He’s been at the position since 1999, and has taken the Cougars as far as the semifinals.

The inductees will be honored on the last day of the THSCA Coaching School and Convention, which will be held on July 23rd-26th.

AUSTIN – Texans for Education Opportunity Founder and Co-Chair Stacy Hock today issued a statement following the Senate Committee on Education’s passage of Senate Bill 3, which would establish an education savings account and tax credit scholarship program in the State of Texas:

“We could not be more pleased with the Senate Education Committee’s decision to pass SB 3 out of committee today, and we applaud Chairman Larry Taylor for his steadfast leadership on this important issue.

“We received an overwhelming out pour of support from not only the many individuals who testified in favor of SB 3 on Tuesday, but the millions of Texans who have expressed their support for school choice – and this legislation – in the months leading up to this week’s hearing.

“However successful we were in advocating for school choice in committee this week – the fight is long from over. We look forward to working with lawmakers in the weeks to come as this bill makes its way even further through the legislative process.”

The Senate Committee on Education heard testimony on this legislation for over 9 hours on Tuesday. It will now head to the Senate floor for wider consideration.

To learn more about Texans for Education Opportunity, click here.

Semifinal Contestants Secure Spots In The Rodeohouston® Super Series Championship And Are One Ride Closer To $50,000 — March 23, 2016 — Houston — For Immediate Release RODEOHOUSTON Semifinal 1 contestants advance to the Super Series Championship, set for Saturday, March 25.


Tyson Durfey of Weatherford, Texas, took home the Semifinal 1 win in Tie-Down Roping. The reigning 2016 Tie-Down Roping Champion is confident in his horse, Niko, and his ability to adapt to any challenge the Super Series Championship might present.

“My horse, Niko, always puts me in a position to win,” Durfey said. “He rarely makes mistakes, so it all boils down to the draw of the calf.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Tyson Durfey: Weatherford, Texas — $6,750

Caleb Smidt: Bellville, Texas — $8,500

Tuf Cooper: Decatur, Texas — $5,250

Ace Slone: Cuero, Texas — $3,375


After a thrilling ride, Jake Vold of Airdrie, Alberta, Canada, won the Semifinal 1 Bareback Riding event. Vold said that he has confidence going into the Championship Round.

“There’s a great group of guys here at RODEOHOUSTON and a great group of horses,” Vold said. “It’s anybody’s game.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Jake Vold: Airdrie, Alberta, Canada — $6,000

Ty Breuer: Mandan, North Dakota — $6,000

Chad Rutherford: Itasca, Texas — $5,500

RC Landingham: Vina, California — $3,375


Charly Crawford and Walt Woodard, both of Stephenville, Texas, claimed the Semifinal 1 Team Roping win. Crawford said RODEOHOUSTON is a great place to ride, but much of the duo’s success is dependent upon the calf they pull.

“Houston has great fans, the best athletes and great competition,” Crawford said. “Tonight it was easy, but it’s all dependent on the draw.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Charly Crawford: Stephenville, Texas; and Walt Woodard: Stephenville, Texas — $13,500

Clay Smith: Bowie, Texas; and Paul Eaves: Millsap, Texas — $12,000

Zac Small: Welch, Oklahoma; and Levi Lord: Sturgis, South Dakota — $10,000

Trevor Brazile: Decatur, Texas; and Patrick Smith: Lipan, Texas — $8,500


Cort Scheer of Elsmere, Nebraska, had the top Saddle Bronc ride of Semifinal 1 to secure his spot in the Super Series Championship. Sheer said he loves what he does and is going to use this win as motivation for the Super Series Championship.

“Any day riding broncs is the best day,” Scheer said. “This win gives me more momentum, and big rodeos are exciting because the crowd is so loud.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Cort Scheer: Elsmere, Nebraska — $9,000

Isaac Diaz: Desdemona, Texas — $ 5,500

Layton Green: Meeting Creek, Alberta, Canada — $6,875

Chuck Schmidt: Keldron, South Dakota — $5,625


Baylor Roche of Tremonton, Utah, wrestled his steer in 4.6 seconds tonight to win the Semifinal 1 Steer Wrestling event. Roche said that it is always great to be at RODEOHOUSTON.

“The atmosphere in the arena is pretty electric,” Roche said. “[RODEOHOUSTON] is a great place to be in the top 10.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Baylor Roche: Tremonton, Utah — $6,583

JD Struxness: Appleton, Minnesota — $5,000

Nick Guy: Strasburg, Colorado — $4,750

Trevor Knowles: Mount Vernon, Oregon — $4,500


Sydni Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is headed to the Super Series Championship in Barrel Racing. In back-to-back nights, Blanchard came away with a win, and is now in the chase for $50,000.

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Sydni Blanchard: Albuquerque, New Mexico — $8,500

Taylor Langdon: Aubrey, Texas — $ 6,500

Kelly Tovar: Rockdale, Texas — $6,000

Nellie Williams-Miller: Cottonwood, California — $5,750


Parker Breding of Edgar, Montana, took home the Semifinal 1 win after a tie for first with Cody Campbell of Summerville, Oregon. The tie was decided by Breding’s greater winnings to date. Breding said there is nothing like performing at RODEOHOUSTON.

“It’s great to ride in such a big arena in front of all of the fans, even if you don’t do well,” Breding said. “It’s even better though if you win.”

Advancing to Championship Round (winnings to date):

Parker Breding: Edgar, Montana — $5,500

Cody Campbell: Summerville, Oregon — $3,250

Neil Holmes: Cleveland, Texas — $7,000

Sage Steele Kimzey: Strong City, Oklahoma — $2,750

The top four from each event in the Semifinal rounds will advance to the RODEOHOUSTON Super Series Championship on Saturday, March 25. The remaining six from each event in the two semifinals will compete in the Wild Card Round, Friday, March 24, where the top two from each event will advance to the Championship. Each event champion will walk away with a $50,000 payout, in addition to previous winnings.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed more than $430 million to the youth of Texas. For more information, visit and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all of the latest news. The 2017 Show runs through March 26.


The Highflyers Jump Rope Team based in Katy, TX will host the USA Jump Rope Region 4 Tournament at Cinco Ranch Junior High School, Katy on April 22, 2017.

The Region 4 Tournament is a qualifier for the US National Championships for teams within Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and East Texas.  The National Championship will be held in June / July 2017 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando, Florida with attendance from jump rope teams from across the country.

Participants will compete in speed, power and freestyle events as individuals, pairs and as teams of three or four.

This is the first time the Highflyers will host the Region 4 tournament.

The Highflyers Jump Rope Team, founded in 2000, is a competitive and performance youth jump rope team. The team consists of approximately 25 jumpers ranging from 8 to 16 years old from the Katy, Alief, Richmond and Houston areas.  The Highflyers, as a member team of USA Jump Rope, participate in three major competitions – USA. Jump Rope Regional and National Tournaments plus the International Rope Skipping Championships.  In addition, the team has participated in several local camps and workshops, plus the team fulfills various performances and shows throughout the year.

Legal Clinic Part of 3rd Annual Katy Area Veterans Family Fun & Resource Day

(Houston, Texas – March 23, 2017) Veterans who need legal advice or legal assistance can visit a free legal clinic scheduled in Katy on Saturday, April 1, 2017.  The clinic will be held in conjunction with the 3rd Annual Greater Katy Area Veterans Family Fun & Resource Day at the Katy Elks Lodge 2628, 1050 Katy Fort Bend Rd., 77493, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The legal clinic is a public service of the Katy Bar Association and the Houston Bar Foundation’s Veterans Legal Initiative. For more information on the veterans resource fair, click here.

Any veteran, or spouse of a deceased veteran, can receive one-on-one advice and counsel at the clinic from a volunteer attorney in any area of law, including family, wills and probate, consumer, real estate and tax law, as well as disability and veterans benefits. Veterans who need ongoing legal representation and who qualify for legal aid may be assigned a pro bono attorney through the Houston Volunteer Lawyers to handle their case.

The Houston Bar Foundation also sponsors weekly Friday afternoon clinics at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. on the first floor. More information about the clinics is available at