Class of COVID
Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) administration is eyeing the start of 2022 Spring Semester with its sights set on academics, as well as the COVID-19 Omicron variant, as classes resumed for students and staff on Jan. 3. On the first day back to school, the district noted 62 known cases of COVID in students, staff and teachers. The following day, 99 combined cases were reported. By the third morning of classes, 117 cases of confirmed COVID had been reported district-wide.
“Students, staff and visitors are highly encouraged to wear masks while at district facilities,” an advisement from BISD related in advance of the return to school from the winter break. “Should the data suggest that district thresholds are exceeded, the superintendent has the authority to issue a mask mandate.”
Currently, no mask mandate is in effect at the districts campuses.
“The district is also aware that the CDC recently announced new guidelines in relation to COVID-19 quarantine this week,” district correspondence further advised. “At this time, BISD COVID-19 guidelines have NOT changed.”
Students and staff are referred to the BISD website at bmtisd.com/covid19 to access the procedures that the district follows for each.
Those with further questions are directed to campus nurses or Julie Nezat, BISD Health Coordinator, at email@example.com.
The American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region is asking residents to consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Across the Texas Gulf Coast region, more than 3,000 people volunteer with the Red Cross. These local volunteers are part of the almost 300,000 people across the country whose support enables the Red Cross to respond to an average of more than 60,000 disasters every year. They help train more than 4.6 million people in Red Cross lifesaving skills; help provide nearly 550,000 services to military members, veterans and their families; and to reconnect almost 9,000 families separated by war or disaster around the world. In addition, as many as 2.5 million volunteer donors give blood and platelets every year.
“Our Red Cross volunteers support their community and neighbors in need each and every day,” said Henry Van de Putte, Regional Executive and CEO. “In the last year, Red Cross volunteers provided food, shelter, comfort and hope to 2,359 people affected by home fires and other disasters in the Texas Gulf Coast Region.”
Open positions include: Disaster Action Team, a team that helps people who are forced from their homes due to fires, storms and other disasters; and the Service to the Armed Forces Team, a team that helps make challenges of military service a little lighter for everyone from the front lines to the home front.
Training is free. COVID-19 vaccination is required for in-person volunteer roles as of Jan. 3. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to get started today.
Down to the wire
The Vidor Police Department is asking for the community’s assistance. Over the past two months, there have been numerous thefts of AT&T wire from the telephone poles. This wire is utilized for internet and telephone usage, with each cable servicing up to 900 residences, the department reports. This has been occurring throughout Southeast Texas and law enforcement officers are asking that those who notice the vandalism report the suspicious activity.
According to investigators, the thieves’ modus operendi is to cut the wire in the area of a vacant field or abandoned residence so as not to draw attention to the noise of the saw.
Report suspicious activity to the Vidor Police Department at (409) 769-4561.
Reason for the season
Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie’s Christmas Meal Giveaway was a little different this year due to the food shortage, but Shine On Humanity was back assisting the giveaway of precooked Christmas Meals from Luby’s to 12 families who were nominated by the residents, first responders, teachers or city government officials of the city.
Families received the “Select Family Feast” and “Trimmings Package” delivered to their house on Dec. 23, 2021.
“Thank you, Shine On Humanity and Luby’s, for your generosity and acts of kindness to our community,” Bartie remarked. “We are truly thankful.”
“We all were certainly hoping that the pandemic would be squashed by now, but it lingers and haunts us relentlessly, but we will persevere,” said Van Shotwell, co-founder of Shine On Humanity.
Wanted: Beaumont City Manager
Beaumont City Council formally started the process to hire a new City Manager as it closed out 2021, and will be conducting interviews over the next few months with the goal to appoint an interim by February to train and transition in March. Traditionally, the interim is one of the current department heads already tuned in to current city matters, but they can interview anyone if at least two council members are in agreement, city correspondence detailed.
Council will then hire a national search firm to fill the permanent position. HR will be inviting 3-5 specialized firms to interview, and council will select the one they feel is most qualified to find the candidate. Once a firm is chosen, they’ll give them the desired criteria and timeline.
United Way of Beaumont and North Jefferson County hosted the second annual Hope for the Holidays Christmas giveback event on Dec. 11, 2021, at the Montagne Center in Beaumont. This drive-thru style giveaway initiative is projected to have helped 500 local families who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while emphasizing United Way’s three community impact areas: health, education and financial stability.
Families in need received a food box and frozen turkey, a children’s book, prescription savings cards, and more. Sponsorships provided through ExxonMobil and Zachry helped to make this initiative possible.
Beaumont Mayor’s Homeless Coalition Chair, Ward 2 City Councilmember Mike Getz invited the community to take part in regular monthly coalition meetings aimed at addressing the homeless population needs for those served by the city.
The Mayor’s Homeless Coalition will be meeting this Thursday, Jan. 6, at 2 p.m. at the Downtown Event Centre, 700 Crockett Street. Bruce Hamilton, the project manager of the Hinchee House, will be joining as guest speaker.
high in lows
The Texas Department of State Health Services, in partnership with Texas A&M Health, announced the opening of the second round of funding for the Texas Vaccine Outreach and Education Grant Program – and those who serve Jefferson County are at the top of the priority list in getting the funding.
In this round, organizations can apply for grants ranging from $50,000 to $1,000,000 to engage in vaccine education and outreach with the goal of increasing the number of fully vaccinated Texans against COVID-19.
DSHS encourages statewide organizations, academic institutions and community-based organizations of all sizes with strong, direct relationships with the populations they serve to apply for the federal funds. Deadline for proposal submissions is Jan. 14.
Round two funding priorities include groups or organizations focusing on one or more of 10 counties in Texas with low vaccination rates (Bell, Bowie, Ector, Grayson, Jefferson, Johnson, McLennan, Parker, Tom Green, and/or Wichita); statewide organizations proposing targeted community interventions addressing communities of color, rural communities, and/or Texans with disabilities; groups or organizations focusing on children in Texas; and groups or organizations focusing on serving Tribal Nations.
To learn more about the program, eligibility and how to apply for round two funding, visit https://health.tamu.edu/vaccinegrant/round-2.html.
Jan. 1 marked the first day Texans could apply to vote by mail in the 2022 elections, and voters over 65, disabled, or out of the county on voting day, who wish to vote by mail, must renew the option annually. New this year, persons expecting to give birth within three weeks before or after Election Day will also be eligible to vote by mail.
Voters who are absent from the county during early voting and Election Day must apply for each election in which they want to vote by mail. The application deadline is Feb. 18 for the Texas Primary Election.
Voters must use the new Application for Ballot by Mail (ABBM) available at their County Election Office or from the Texas Secretary of State’s website, votetexas.gov. Alternatively, voters may print the Vote by Mail application in English or Spanish. Applications must be received (not postmarked) at the County Election Office by the application deadline, which is Feb. 18 for the Primary Election.
Also, the last day to register to vote for the 2022 Texas Primaries is Jan. 31. Voters may check if they registered to vote with their County Voter Registrar or at votetexas.gov.