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Wallis News-Review
6705 Commerce St.
PO Box 668
Wallis, Texas 77485
Phone: 979-478-6412
Fax: 979-478-2198

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Sulak asks for medical supplies for Operation Africa

Posted on April 9th, 2014

By Shelby Sulak
Operation Africa Founder
and Trip Coordinator

In 2011 I founded an organization called Operation Africa and journeyed to Wagusu, Kenya for the very first time. I never imagined that something could impact my life so deeply. I knew their community needed help, and I promised to never abandon them.
Since that trip I have made it my mission to organize medical mission trips to go back every summer, and this year nearly 50 students from Texas A&M will volunteer with Operation Africa this May. Our first trip there I was able to bring over 300 lbs. of medical supplies.
Wagusu has started to rely on the annual medical donations from Operation Africa as one of their only forms of care because there is actually only one doctor for their entire district (population 240,000). The community of Wagusu has the highest rate of orphaned children in Kenya and its HIV prevalence rate is twice the national average.
It is my goal to continue sending medical donations over every summer in order to help the children who have no parents to take care of them and those who suffer from AIDS. I am trying to collect as many medical donations as possible so that the volunteers can bring them over with them, and I am reaching out to our community here for help.
I am in need of any basic over-the-counter medications like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, cough syrup, antidiarrheals, Neosporin, antifungal creams, vitamins, Pedialyte, band aids, etc. They have no access to these things in Wagusu, and we could literally save a severely dehydrated child’s life just by running to the store and sending them a bottle of Pedialyte.
I am also selling Operation Africa T-Shirts ($15 adult, $12 youth) to raise money for these donations and to help send a child named Shelby Sulak Ochieng to school one day.
I met her pregnant mother when I was in Kenya, and she named her after me. Little Shelby is now like family to me and I want to do whatever I can to give her a better life. Providing her with an education she would otherwise not have could really brighten her future.
If anyone would like to donate supplies, money or purchase a shirt, please contact me at OperationAfrica11@gmail.com.

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One dead in Wallis wreck

Posted on April 9th, 2014


A wreck near Wallis on Friday, April 4, claimed the life of Raymond Chittum, 39, of Houston.
The wreck occurred approximately two-tenths of a mile north of Wallis on State Highway 36 at 6:35 p.m. on April 4.
According to a report filed by DPS Trooper Josh West, the wreck involved two vehicles. Vehicle No. 1 was a 1987 Chevrolet pickup driven by Chittum. Vehicle No. 2 was a 2009 Dodge 3500 dually driven by Michael Lagas, 38, of Wallis.
Vehicle No. 1 was driving southbound on SH 36 and was on the wrong side of the roadway. Vehicle No. 2 was headed northbound on SH 36 attempting to turn left into a private drive. Vehicle No. 2 attempted to avoid a collision by continuing to turn into the drive. Vehicle No. 1 swerved back into the southbound lane striking the Dodge dually.
Chittum was pronounced dead at the scene by Austin County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, Dennis King. His body was transported by Knesek Family Funeral Home of Bellville.
Assisting Trooper West at the scene were Wallis Police Department, Austin County Sheriff’s Office, Austin County EMS and Wallis Volunteer Fire Department.

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Austin County Republican Party to hold candidate forum tonight

Posted on April 3rd, 2014

Austin County GOP will host a candidate forum between Republican Primary Runoff candidates for Austin County Judge, John F. Graham and Tim Lapham, at the regular monthly meeting Thursday, April 3.
The candidate forum is at Tony’s Family Restaurant, 1629 Meyer St. in Sealy at 7 p.m.
An invitation has been extended to the eight candidates in the four Republican Primary Runoff races for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Railroad Commissioner.
A Dutch-treat meal is available from the menu.

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Third grader is state winner of Young Author contest

Posted on April 2nd, 2014


Eva Kruzel, a third grader at Bitz Intermediate, has become a State Winner in the North Carolina Reading Association Young Author Project.
To qualify, Eva wrote an article about her aunt and uncle’s wedding in Texas when she was a flower girl. First she was selected as a school level winner, then as a county winner. Her writing was published in the Young Author Magazine last month. The award ceremony was held March 15 in Raleigh, N.C.
Her writing will also be published in the Onslow County Reading Association magazine. The Onslow County Reading Association awards will be April 27. Eva is the daughter of Jason and Kelley Kruzel of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

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Prairie Harbor is open for business

Posted on April 2nd, 2014


WNR photo by Johnny Griffin
Prairie Harbor LLC, on Highway 60 in Wallis is now open and accepting residents for their treatment center.

By Johnny Griffin, Editor
Prairie Harbor LLC, a residential treatment center, is open and accepting residents at their facility on Highway 60 in Wallis. Randall Bryant, owner and CEO of the facility, has over 18 years’ experience in the field of mental health treatment. He has been working closely with Brazos Independent School District since his group purchased the facility last summer in order to provide education for the residents.
“Before we ever made the purchase of this facility we met with Brazos ISD administrators to make sure we would be a fit for the district and the community,” said Randall. “During the transition from former Superintendent Jack Ellis to current administrator Earl Jarrett, we have met with nothing but honesty and professionalism. We are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
“We have an obligation to educate every child in our district,” said Brazos ISD Superintendent Jarrett. “It doesn’t matter if they live with their parents, are homeless, or live in a facility like Prairie Harbor; the state requires every child to be educated. We are accepting and embracing that mandate.”
Brazos ISD has furnished three portable buildings, each consisting of two classrooms which are placed at the facility owned by Prairie Harbor. There is no rent charged by Prairie Harbor for the location.
Currently there are two teachers at the facility provided by Brazos ISD, plus support from administration and particularly the district’s Director of Special Education/Special Programs Jeanne Young. Brazos ISD will also provide two meals daily for the students once a trigger level of residents is on site. Specially trained instructional aides are provided by Prairie Harbor.
Residents will range in age from 10-18 years of age with the majority from 13-17. Currently there are five students in the facility with a total of eight expected by week’s end. Bryant says the facility will grow slowly, adding three to five students a week until the capacity of 54 students is reached. All residents will be female.
The slow growth benefits both Prairie Harbor and Brazos ISD.
“We don’t know exactly what our final staff will look like for that campus,” says Jarrett. “A slower growth rate allows us to identify the level of instruction needed and what type of teachers we need.”
Instruction will range from a seventh grade level through high school. Instruction delivery will include classroom teaching and text books along with computer training and software instructional items.
“Even though we just started, Brazos ISD has done a good job of testing to see what level of credits our kids have,” said Bryant. “They are already looking for ways to recover credits for the kids and get the proper level of learning.”
Bryant says all of the residents admitted to his program have some degree of mental illness. He has two contracts for care, both with the State of Texas. All of the residents come from the Texas Child Protective Custody system.
“We try to take children and get them to understand they can feel good about themselves,” says Bryant. “They can feel good and manage their mental illness to become productive members of society.”
The facility employs mental health professionals including licensed professional counselors. They offer psychiatric services, medication management and other programs to help kids learn coping skills.
“All kids need to have as normal a life as possible,” said Bryant. “In my experiences, I have a history of being able to have kids involved in community outings when the kids are able to accept that. They will always be accompanied by a trained professional to make sure it is safe for the kids and the community.”
Brazos ISD will draw additional funding from the state for the education of students at Prairie Harbor that is separate from any funding Prairie Harbor receives from their contracts. The facility treats patients. Brazos ISD educates them.
Funds from the state are paid to the district at a rate four times the rate for regular students at Brazos ISD. The state recognizes the special expenses and needs for these children.
“At some point, when the facility is fully operational, this campus should generate more revenue than it requires to operate,” said Jarrett. “At that point, those additional funds can be expended through the general funds of the district.”
Since this is a separate campus and a program recognized by the State of Texas, the graded performance of students at Prairie Harbor will not affect the accountability or school rating of Brazos ISD.
Although it is possible, it is highly unlikely any student from Prairie Harbor will ever attend a regular Brazos school.
“We are a highly specialized facility,” said Bryant. “It is most likely that if a student improves to the level to attend a public school they would be transferred to another less restrictive facility.”
“Everywhere we have been in town, we have been welcomed and we’ve had positive relationships,” said Bryant. “From the businesses to the Brazos administration and staff, the Mayor, Chief of Police and everyone with the city; everyone has been courteous and helpful. We look forward to many years of helping kids and participating in the growth of Wallis.”

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Results of the March 4th Primary Election

Posted on March 5th, 2014

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Steve Wariner to Headline Sealybration 2014

Posted on March 3rd, 2014

SEALY, TX - MARCH 3, 2014 - The Sealy Community Foundation is excited to announce this year’s entertainment line-up for Sealybration to be held July 11-12, 2014. Grammy-award winning country singer Steve Wariner will headline the summer festival on Saturday night. Opening for Wariner will be Fred Rusk and Zydeco Hi-Steppers and up-and-coming Texas music artists, The Washers. Friday night will feature local favorites The Triumphs playing 50s and 60s hits.

Wariner is famous for more than 30 top 10 hits and 14 no. 1 hits including “Some Fools Never Learn,” “The Weekend” and “Holes in the Floor of Heaven.” He has teamed up with the likes of Chet Atkins, Brad Paisley, and Vince Gill to write award-winning songs. He has won four Grammys with his most recent in 2010 for a tribute to Chet Atkins.

“Every year we work to raise the bar higher as we plan a first class event for everyone to enjoy,” said Melanie Willingham, President of the Sealy Community Foundation. “We are thrilled to host country legend Steve Wariner. This year’s line-up has something for all ages so come out for a fun time and to support the local community.”

Sealybration is Austin County’s “can’t miss” summer event packed with activities for the whole family to enjoy, including a barbecue cook-off, bean bag tournament, car show, Annual Stars & Strikes Classic softball tournament, 5 Alarm 5K run, vendor booths, patriotic parade, and carnival. It’s all capped off with an awesome fireworks display Saturday night!

Sealybration is sponsored by the Sealy Community Foundation, a local non-profit organization whose mission is serving as a voice for all non-profits, with intent to advance education and charity. For registration forms or a detailed schedule of the Sealybration festivities, visit www.sealycommunityfoundation.org. Also, “like” Sealy Community Foundation on Facebook for updated information and contests.

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Body of a dead female found on Hillboldt Road in Sealy

Posted on March 3rd, 2014

SEALY, Texas—Austin County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating after a woman’s body was found in a ditch in Sealy Saturday.

A citizen called the Sheriff’s Office after finding the body in the 7700 block of Hillboldt Road around 10 p.m.

Deputies arrived to find the body of a white female lying on the edge of the road. EMS personnel were then called out to the location. They checked the victim and found no signs of life.

The name of the 43-year-old victim is currently being withheld until next of kin can be notified. Austin County’s Chief Deputy, Investigators and Texas Rangers are currently conducting the investigation.

If anyone has any information concerning this incident, please contact the Austin County Sheriff’s Office at 979-865-3111 or contact Austin County Crime Stoppers at 979-865-2949.

 

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Brazos River Authority updates commissioners on Allen’s Creek project

Posted on February 26th, 2014

By Johnny Griffin, Editor
The Brazos River Authority (BRA) presented an update on the status of the Allen’s Creek project to Austin County Commissioners Court on Feb. 24.

Cathy Dominquez, Lower Basin Government Relations Manager for BRA, gave an informative and candid report.
“The Brazos River Authority is ready to go on this project,” said Dominquez. “We need to start now. Houston has water to meet their needs. We don’t.”

However, the City of Houston owns a 70 percent interest in the project and BRA controls 30 percent. Legislation introduced within the last few years has pushed a projected start date from 2018 back to 2025. Estimated costs for the project have grown from $200 million in 2000 to over $316 million in 2013. It was not clear whether that price estimate included the original price of the land or was from the current status forward.

“Our engineers have started doing additional work,” said Dominquez. “We need to know who the stakeholders of Region H will be and the yield and storage projections.”

“We have to develop reservoirs 20 years out,” added BRA Central basin and Lower Basin Manager David Collinsworth. “Municipalities that are used to using groundwater are hesitant to make the investment required of surface reservoirs.”

The BRA representatives mentioned that Rosenberg and Richmond are already customers of BRA. Those cities need water along with the Gulf Coast Water Authority. Fort Bend County and Brazoria County are high growth areas that need water for residents as well as agriculture.

The drought has had a major effect on the Brazos River system and Dominquez showed the court those numbers. On Feb. 13, the combined storage of the BRA system is below the Stage 1 Drought Watch Storage Trigger. The system storage total sets at 73 percent. Two of the larger reservoirs, Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Whitney are 67 and 16 percent full respectively. In the entire system, only Lake Granger and Lake Limestone are full. Our closest resource, Lake Somerville sits at 81 percent of capacity.

The surface area of the planned Allen’s Creek Lake is 7,000 acres, about 11 square miles. The development process is long, including studies concerning wetlands, endangered species, instream usage, historical sites and more.

Dominquez stated that one suggested possibility to speed up the process is acquisition by another party of a 20 percent interest in the project from Houston. Commissioner Reese Turner asked if Richmond and Rosenberg were interested in that.

Dominquez replied that several customers have expressed an interest in that position.
Commissioner Doug King asked if there were any joint lake usage plans with NRG Texas Power LLC, who owns the land purchased in the original power plant project that is between State Highway 36 and the proposed lake site, or if there were any plans to build a power plant on that site.
“We have asked that question and we have not been advised,” said Collinsworth.

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Local election signup deadline is Friday

Posted on February 26th, 2014

By Johnny Griffin, Editor

The sign up period to appear on the ballot for local municipal and school board ballots ends on Friday, Feb. 28.

There are three at-large positions up for election in the City of Wallis. Incumbents Glen Kreitz, James King and Clark Main, Jr. have all registered for reelection. No one else has turned in a packet.
Applications to appear on the ballot for the May 10 election may be picked up from Wallis City Hall, 6810 Guyler, Bldg. B, during regular business hours. Applications must be completed and filed at City Hall prior to 4 p.m. on Feb. 28.

Three designated positions are also up for election on the Brazos ISD Board of Trustees. They are positions 1, 2 and 3. Incumbent Joyce M. Stavinoha has filed an application for reelection to Position 2 and incumbent Tamara Mager has filed for reelection to Position 3. Audra Brorsen has filed for election to Position 1, the seat currently held by Charles Dostal.

Anyone interested in running for a position on the board of trustees can pick up an application at the Brazos ISD administration office during regular business hours. Sign up will continue through Feb. 28. Administration office hours are Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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