AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in grades 5 and 8 has been waived for the upcoming school year. Typically, school systems must take into account a student’s score on the STAAR test to determine whether the student can be promoted to the next grade level. The traditional A-F rating system will remain in place, albeit with certain adjustments due to COVID-19.[Read more…] about Governor Abbott Waives Grade Promotion Requirements For 2020-2021 STAAR Testing
COMMISSIONER MILLER EXPANDS REOPEN REQUEST TO GOVERNOR ABBOTT TO INCLUDE DISTILLERY, BREWPUB TASTING ROOMS
Says governor should not destroy livelihoods while attempting to save lives
(AUSTIN) Today, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller expanded his request to Governor Abbott to reopen winery tasting rooms to include similar direct-to-consumer facilities for Texas distilleries and breweries. In a letter dated today, Miller asked Abbott to amend his June 26 Executive Order to remove Texas distillery tasting rooms, brewery and brewpub taprooms and beer gardens from the definition of bars and allow them to reopen immediately under the same health, safety and social distancing rules as Texas restaurants.[Read more…] about Ag Commish asks Gov. to open tasting rooms
Early voting begins Oct. 21 in the Texas State Constitutional Amendment election and will continue through Nov. 1. Election Day will be Nov. 5.[Read more…] about Early voting starts Oct. 21 for 10 proposed amendments
By Tim Fleischer Editor-in-Chief
Despite predictions of a blue wave nationwide, Precinct 203 (Salado) remained devoutly Republican in the 2018 midterm elections, voting for GOP candidates by a four to one margin. [Read more…] about Texas GOP staves off Democratic blue wave
By Tim Fleischer Editor-in-Chief
State Rep. Scott Cosper has raised $236,819.05, according to the May 14 campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission while his challenger Dr. Brad Buckley has raised $54,115.00 in political donations.
David Blackburn will run unopposed for Bell County Judge, but there will be a slew of contested races up and down the ballot with primaries to be held on March 6, 2018 and the November 7, 2018 General Election.
On Nov. 7, voters will have a chance to consider seven constitutional amendments proposed by the 85th Legislature.
The proposed amendments cover a wide range of topics, including property taxes, raffles, home equity loan provisions, and more.
Early voting starts Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 3.
With Hurricane Harvey projected to make landfall in coastal Texas, residents should be aware of Public Alerts for the affected areas. Would you consider sharing this with your audience?
Texans should prepare for flooding, high winds from Harvey
By Paul Schattenberg, Texas Agrilife Service
COLLEGE STATION – With the probability of extensive rain and high winds throughout much of the state from the resurgence of Tropical Depression Harvey, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts are asking Texans to take measures to prepare their houses, farms and ranches for what may come.
“We’re expecting Harvey to bring a lot of rain and flooding over a large area of the state and as he intensifies, some strong winds as well,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension specialist in emergency management, College Station. “The storm system may also spur tornadic activity.”
Vestal said people in both urban and rural areas of the state should take steps to prepare for what may come from this storm system to minimize damage and reduce the impact of its aftermath.
He said the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network, Texas EDEN, at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/ has a variety of materials on disaster preparation and recovery.
Vestal said to avoid being trapped by a flood, it’s best to evacuate before flooding starts.
“Listen to the radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio and follow directions from local officials regarding evacuation or seek high ground if you experience localized flooding in your area,” he said. “Be prepared to evacuate quickly… know your routes and destinations and where there’s an emergency shelter. If you’re trapped by a flash flood, keep out of flooded areas and away from moving water, whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle. Always remember to turn around, don’t drown.”
Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension family development and resource management specialist, College Station, said one of the best things Texans can do to prepare for an emergency is map out a family evacuation plan ahead of time and practice it. The plan should include establishing escape routes and making sure to include all members of the household in a practice session.
“People should also have an emergency kit for their home, office and each vehicle,” Cavanagh said. “The kit should contain enough supplies to take care of immediate family members for at least three days.”
She said some essential kit contents include bottled water, non-perishable foods, a hand-operated can opener, mouth/nose protection masks, extra clothing, first-aid kit, gloves, blankets, toiletries, battery- or hand-powered flashlight, weather radio, spare batteries, garbage bags, medications and anti-bacterial cleaners or wipes.
AgriLife Extension specialist David Smith, College Station, had some additional suggestions for farmers and ranchers on how to prepare livestock for a flood or other natural disaster.
“Emergency preparedness is important for all animals, but especially for livestock because of their size, feed requirement, and shelter and transportation needs,” Smith said. “Farmers and ranchers should assess the risk of flooding in their area and devise an emergency plan to protect their livestock.
“The plan should include contact information for people and resources you may need, such as numbers for neighbors and veterinarians as well as for your area poison control center, animal shelters, animal transportation resources and feedstock providers. It should also include contingencies for food and water for livestock if resources become contaminated.”
Smith said all livestock should have visible identification numbers, such as fire or freeze brands and/or numbered ear tags, even if there’s no plan to remove them from the property.
“Floods often drive livestock to seek shelter and they wind up lost or in a neighbor’s pasture,” he said. “Before a flood, move livestock to higher ground and deny access to flood-prone pastures, barns and other structures. Many livestock drown because they refuse to leave flooded shelters.”
He said farmers and ranchers also need to protect livestock from the threat of fire after a disaster.
“Remove all fuels from the vicinity of barns and turn off electrical power to barns, buildings and other structures that accommodate livestock until the threat of flooding has subsided,” Smith said.
He said in case of high winds, farmers and ranchers should secure or remove anything that could become a projectile or cause serious damage if moved, including trailers, propane tanks, boats and feed troughs.
For more information on preparing livestock, go to http://bit.ly/2xsNrT7.
Vestal said to also watch the sky and tune in to the radio or TV for information on possible tornadic activity.
“If there’s a tornado watch, move closer to a shelter or sturdy building so you can get there promptly if there’s a tornado warning,” he said. “If the warning occurs, take shelter immediately, preferably in a shelter that meets Federal Emergency Management Agency safety criteria. But if not, find a sturdy structure like a church, community center, school, nursing home or hospital.”
He said warning signs of a tornado include the appearance of a dark, sometimes greenish sky with dark, low-lying clouds and large hail stones. A funnel cloud may also appear, and there may be a loud roar like the sound of an approaching freight train.
Vestal suggested property owners remove any damaged or dead limbs from trees, secure trash cans and take any lawn furniture, plant containers, toys or other items that could become projectiles and put them inside the garage or house prior to the storm.
“Remember, mobile homes, even if they’re tied down, aren’t safe during a tornado,” he said. “If there’s a more substantial structure nearby, it’s best to go there if it looks like a tornado may hit your area.”
He also noted mosquitoes often become a problem after a flood or rain event and carry the risk of mosquito-borne disease.
“You can reduce the possibility of mosquitoes breeding on or around your property by removing any items that may hold standing water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, kid’s pools, birdbaths and trash containers,” Vestal said. “You can also cover any water storage containers such as buckets, cisterns and rain barrels, so mosquitoes can’t get inside and lay eggs. And if you have a septic tank, repair any cracks or gaps in the system.”
He said a larvicide can be used to treat large water containers of non-potable water that can’t be poured out.
“While we can’t keep natural disasters from occurring, there’s still a lot we can do to prepare for them and keep ourselves and our families safe during them — and in their aftermath,” Vestal said.
Slow down and observe the rules of the road
AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will increase traffic enforcement during the Fourth of July holiday weekend from Saturday, July 1, through Tuesday, July 4. DPS Troopers will be looking for drunk drivers, and speeding, seat belt and other traffic violators.