Articles

0 87

(AUSTIN) — With “529 College Savings Day” set for May 29, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminds families about the importance of saving for their children’s higher education expenses using 529 college savings plans.

“I want to remind families all over our great state to get a head start on saving for their loved one’s future education,” Hegar said. “Planning ahead by opening a new 529 plan or contributing to an existing plan can be a great way to secure that future opportunity.”

Texas offers three tax-advantaged 529 plans: the Texas College Savings PlanSM (TCSP) and the LoneStar 529 PlanSM, both college savings plans, and the Texas Tuition Promise FundSM (TTPF), a prepaid tuition plan. The plans are known as 529 plans because they are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The TTPF is designed to help families and individuals prepay and lock in today’s rates for all or some future undergraduate tuition and school-wide required fees at any two- or four-year Texas public college or university. The TCSP and LoneStar 529 college savings plans allow families to work toward building college savings by investing in one or more professionally managed portfolios, either enrolling directly in TCSP or in LoneStar 529 through a financial advisor.

The Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board administers all three 529 plans through the Comptroller’s office. TTPF enrollment for newborns is available through July 31 to lock in undergraduate tuition and school-wide required fees at 2016-17 prices; open enrollment begins Sept. 1 for 2017-18 prices. The TCSP and LoneStar 529 plans are open for enrollment year-round.

Each plan imposes administrative fees and service charges in connection with any agreement, contract or transaction in amounts not exceeding the cost of establishing and maintaining each plan. Before purchasing, carefully consider risks, fees and charges. The plan descriptions contain this and other information and are available by visiting TexasCollegePlans.com.

Comments or complaints may be forwarded to the Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Program, Office of the Comptroller of Public Accounts, P.O. Box 13407, Austin, Texas 78711-3407; or by calling 512-936-2064.

 

0 60
Pictured Left to Right: Back Row – Lt. Jason Bowman; BC John Denning; DC Kat Hartley; BC Darron Gamble; Data Analyst Alan Berckenhoff. Middle Row – DC Jason Albert; PM Oscar Green; PM Rachel Lindsay; AC Brian Petrilla. Front Row – PM Daphane Heppner; CP Elizabeth DeLeon; County Judge Robert Hebert; EMS Chief Graig Temple; DC Rita Graeber; PM Veronica Jones; PM Tara Keiser.

FORT BEND COUNTY, TX – During Commissioners Court on May 23, 2017, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert proclaimed the week of May 21 – May 27, 2017 as Emergency Medical Services Week. Emergency medical services is a vital public service, as access to quality emergency care dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury.

The emergency medical services system consists of first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, and others, all with many hours of specialized training ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Judge Bob Hebert said, “Our EMS personnel perform near miraculous work 24-7. Our MICU units and squads can provide stabilization treatment to patients PRIOR to transport. They are truly dedicated medical professionals. I am proud of them.”

 

0 39
“China is a growing partner in elevating the Lone Star State’s continued economic prosperity” 
(Secretary Pablos with the Texas Delegation to Shanghai, Office of the Secretary of State, 5/24/2017)

SHANGHAI – This week, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos led a delegation of Texas public officials and private sector leaders for an economic development mission to strengthen commercial ties between Texas and China. The mission, organized by the Texas Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Office of Governor Greg Abbott, included meetings with leading Chinese companies, as well as local and regional government officials in Shanghai. Secretary Pablos and the delegation participated in the 2017 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment to connect with global business leaders and promote the wide variety of opportunities available to foreign investors in Texas.

“China is a leading market for Texas, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead our state’s delegation to explore opportunities for future investment,” Secretary Pablos said. “As our second largest import source country and with more than 150 Chinese companies operating in Texas, China is a growing partner in elevating the Lone Star State’s continued economic prosperity. I would like to thank Governor Abbott for his vision in attracting foreign investment to Texas and for fomenting a strong relationship with China.”

 


Texas-China Trade Facts:

  • Texas exported $10.8 billion in goods to China in 2016
  • Texas’ top export to China is oil and gas, valued at $1.7 billion in 2016
  • Since 2003, 27 Chinese projects have invested $1.6 billion in Texas
  • San Antonio and Houston are among the top 10 U.S. cities for Chinese foreign direct investment, ranking #7 and #8, respectively
  • In the past 10 years, Texas has established Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the Fujian Department of Commerce, Fujian Province, Shandong Province, Jiangsu Province, and the Tianjin Municipal Government in order to promote economic and cultural exchange

Learn more about the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

Learn more about the 2017 World Forum for FDI.

0 44

By Tom Behrens

Lady Katy Tigers have no problems with Atascocita

Alyssa LeBlanc worked a complete game in the opener (8-2), and Chloe Cobb handled the Atascocita Eagles (5-2) to advance the Class 6A state softball tournament.

In the first game the Tigers built a six run lead after three innings. Kat Lopez, Tori Whillock, McKay Bloxham, and Kayla Garcia supplied the Katy Tiger power. Leblanc allowed six hits and struck out six in a complete game.

In the second game three straight singles led to Alyssa LeBlanc’s run-scoring hit and 1-0 lead in the first inning. Chloe Cobb, who pitched the second game for the Tigers, supported her winning performance with a run-scoring double in the third, followed by Cait Calland’s towering two-run blast to center field for a 4-0 advantage. Katy finished with nine hits, with LeBlanc going 2-for-4.

Cobb allowed two runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.

Katy next plays Deer Park in the Regional finals, Saturday, May 27.

In battle of Tigers, Travis Tigers prevail over Katy

It didn’t come until the sixth inning in Game 3, but the Travis High School baseball floodgates eventually opened. Travis sent 11 batters to the plate – the first seven before recording an out – and went on to post an 8-2 win at Tompkins to win the Class 6A regional quarterfinal series.

Katy coach, Tom McPherson, complimented Travis as one of the best hitting teams he has seen in a long time. The Katy Tigers were outscored 21-4 by Travis in the three-game series.

Travis (27-6-1) advances to face North Shore.

On the links …Golf State Championship, May 16

Tompkins freshman Elina Sinz placed sixth as an individual medalist, finishing with a 145 at the Region III-6A golf state championships at the Legacy Hills Golf Club in Georgetown.

Seven Lakes, as a team, took ninth with rounds of 317 and 321. Valeria Patino carded a 73 and 76, tied for 15th. Isha Dhruva (76-78), Kathryn Wolf (84-84), Kathryn Gleason (84-85) and Grace Park (87-83) contributed to the Seven Lakes team finish.

 

0 46

Applauds the bipartisan effort to hold Iran accountable for regional aggression

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today issued the following statement applauding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s bipartisan effort to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its export of terror across the globe:

“I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s bipartisan support for the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, which would take concrete steps to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its ongoing, non-nuclear efforts to destabilize the Middle East, support and finance international terrorism, threaten the safety and security of the U.S. and our friends and allies with its ballistic missile program and systematically abuse the human rights of its people. This legislation would also sanction Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its elite Quds Force for their concerted efforts to support international terrorism, destabilize Iran’s neighbors, and implement Tehran’s missile program. As many feared, the facts are undeniable that the Iranian regime has not used the windfall it received from the nuclear deal to scale back its export of violence and chaos throughout the world, but rather doubled down on its rogue behavior. I remain committed to ensuring we do all possible to stop Iran’s destructive activities and hope the full Senate will take swift action to send this bill to the President’s desk.”

Sen. Cruz is an original cosponsor of the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act.

 

 

0 35
AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $311,914 in fines involving 168 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 $113,005 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 $9,809 for oil and gas and LP-Gas rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $189,100 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.

 

 

0 34

 

Ken Paxton

Continuing its efforts to protect children from dangerous child predators, the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of the Texas attorney general’s office arrested four men in Gregg County for Online Solicitation of a Minor during a sting operation this week. The CEU collaborated with the Arlington Fugitive Apprehension Unit and the Longview Police Department on the operation. The suspects were all charged with a second-degree felony and booked into the Gregg County Jail without incident.

During the weeklong operation, CEU investigators conducted a proactive undercover investigation online. The four suspects were arrested after they arrived at a predetermined location to meet with children they solicited for sexual contact. Individuals arrested by CEU investigators during the joint operation are: Johnny K. Houston, Jr., Joaquin Amilcar Pineda, Shane Jeffrey Chapman and Nehemias Pineda.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online. The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources. Attorney General Ken Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety. For more information on cyber safety, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cj/cyber-safety.

0 55

National Oilwell Varco (NOV) Grant Prideco has partnered with Blinn College to provide job training using a $820,365 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The grant will benefit workers in the Brazos Valley Texas area.

“The partnership between NOV Grant Prideco and Blinn College on this Skills Development Fund grant will benefit both the local community and its workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Our labor force is among the most talented and skilled in the world, and we continue to seek and implement strategies to improve the skills of Texas workers.”

This grant will be used to provide customized training to 395 new and incumbent workers for industry-related topics with focused instruction on manufacturing skills. Trainees will include welders, electricians and equipment operators. Upon completion of training, the workers will receive an average wage of $19.27.

Since its inception in 1996, the Skills Development Fund grants have created or upgraded more than 342,428 jobs throughout Texas. The grants have assisted 4,238 employers with their customized training needs. The Legislature allocated $48.5 million to the Skills Development Fund for the 2016-17 biennium. Employers seeking more information about the Skills Development Fund may visit the TWC website at www.texasworkforce.org/skills.

 

29 children and teens have drowned in Texas this year

 

Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of summer, but also the start of the most dangerous period for child drownings – Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Last year, 107 kids and teens drowned in Texas and 29 have already drowned so far this year. While the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas have been trouble spots in the past, there is no dominant pattern this year.

The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) urges Texans to “watch kids around water” this holiday weekend and all summer long to prevent more tragedies.

“Drowning is totally preventable, but it is also silent and very quick,” said Sasha Rasco, who leads DFPS prevention programs. “It only takes a few minutes for a child to drown. So, please be a lifeguard for every child around you by keeping a constant eye on them around water.”

Swimming pools, especially backyard and apartment pools, are the most dangerous for children. More than half of the child drownings in Texas this year happened in pools. Other common locations include lakes, ponds, and rivers and other natural bodies of water. Hot tubs and bath tubs are also culprits and almost any water can be dangerous to a toddler, even a toilet. Children under the age of one most often drown inside the house, while older children most often drown outdoors.  Most toddlers who drown are out of sight less than five minutes.

DFPS is working to get the word out to parents to “watch kids around water” as part of its Help for Parents, Hope for Kids campaign. DFPS is running a $1,000,000 ad campaign aimed at parents. From April through August, some of those ads are water safety messages. As a result, Texans watched the campaign’s water safety video on Facebook 141,503 times in April alone.

For more statistics and information on water safety for kids, visit WatchKidsAroundWater.org or look for the Water Safety section on HelpandHope.org.

 

Basic Water Safety Tips

Inside the house

  • Never leave small children alone near any container of water.
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with lid locks.
  • Never leave a baby alone in a bath for any reason. Get the things you need before running water, and take the child with you if you must leave the room.
  • Warn babysitters or caregivers about the dangers of water and stress the need to constantly supervise young children.
  • Make sure small children cannot leave the house through pet doors or unlocked doors and reach pools or hot tubs. 
Outside the house
  • Never leave children alone around water whether it is in a pool, wading pool, drainage ditch, creek, pond, or lake.
  • Constantly watch children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or certified lifeguard watching and within reach.
  • Secure access to swimming pools with fences, self-closing and latching gates, and water surface alarms.
  • Completely remove the pool cover when the pool is in use.
  • Store water toys away from the water, when not in use, so they don’t attract a small child.
  • Don’t assume young children will use good judgment around water.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Keep emergency telephone numbers handy and learn CPR.
  • Find out if your child’s friends or neighbors have pools.

0 75

Richmond, Texas, May 19th ,2017 – Precinct One Commissioner, Vincent Morales, arranged the meeting with Fort Bend Pets Alive!, County Attorney, Department of Health & Human Services, Fort Bend County Animal Shelter to invigorate a public and private partnership. 

 

Frank Yeverino J.D., legal counsel of Fort Bend Pets Alive! solicited adoption of a no kill order to incorporate provisions for life saving programs in shelter operation of the county animal shelter. Saving 90 percent or more of the animals who enter shelters is the current benchmark of no-kill. It is a pertinent step to provide a quantitative benchmark that all stakeholders in Fort Bend County can use as a goal. To become a better community through kindness to animals is a shared community value in Fort Bend County.

Commissioner Morales, Dr. Reynolds, Deputy Director of Health and Human Services and Animal Shelter Director Rene Vasquez in concurrence of Judge Hebert’s goal of reaching 90% save rate, committed to these three action items.

First, Fort Bend Pets Alive! is to work with shelter director Rene Vasquez to initiate a canine behavior modification program to help canines of larger breeds that have been more subjected to be put down mainly due to development of improper behavior in confinement after a prolonged period of time in the shelter environment. Neutered/spayed larger breeds of canine who participate in well designed play groups become socialized and more adoptable. Play groups with proper behavior intervention and modifications are life saving programs that can definitely reduce unnecessary euthanasia rate of canines of larger breeds. Subsequently, the recently increased save rate will move higher and closer to Judge Hebert’s goal of reaching 90% which was declared by County Judge Hebert at the State of County Address this year.

Secondly, Fort Bend Pets Alive! is to arrange a meeting between an expert from Best Friends Animal Society Utah to meet with representatives of Fort Bend County Facility Department along with other staff members to explore options of the

$1.1 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) of the shelter expansion project. One of the main concerns of Fort Bend Pets Alive! and the community have is if installation of HVAC system will be on the list of the improvement project. If it is, animal advocates want to be assured the HVAC air flow system is conducive to effective infectious disease control. Having an expert from a prominent national animal welfare organization to participate in the process and to give expert opinion on the overall expansion project will ensure our tax dollars to be better used and be used towards humane treatment of companion animals in our county.

Thirdly, an ad-hoc committee is to be established between Fort Bend Pets Alive! and the county to provide the necessary framework to engage concerned animal-loving citizens and government officials to meet on a regular basis to help drive the animal shelter to reach a 90% save rate; a goal that is set by Judge Hebert. Community input helps set strategy, action plan to reach the shelter’s long term and short term goals.

The last but not least, the Fort Bend Pets Alive! team thanked the staff of the animal shelter for the drastic increase of save rate in the past two years. Hard work does pay off. While increasing the number of lives leaving the shelter alive is very favorable to animals that are sitting in the shelter facing risks of unnecessary euthanasia, the importance of providing services to each sheltered pet, foster family and adopter was emphasized. Furthermore, citizens’ concerns of a handful of animals adopted out intact and returned intact after months were reported to Commissioner Morales, shelter staff and Department of Health & Human Services again. Community support and trust will only be built and sustained when animals are rescued/adopted out responsibly. It was also recommended to the shelter staff to join Best Friends Animal Society’s No More Homeless Pet Network. The free membership provides free webinars, food donations in bulk, marketing ideas and many more benefits for the shelter to enjoy. Utilizing Asilomar Accords/Animal Shelter Count to collect, record data to provide accurate reporting was recommended again.