Welcome to The Knox Report – May 2021
This May 9th, I want to wish all mothers, past, present, and future, a wonderful Mother’s Day. May your day be filled with blessings and love.
Welcome to the Team!
I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our new Director of Communications, Elyssa Garnica. She is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University with a BA in Sociology and has moved from San Antonio to work in the great city of Houston. We are very excited to have her with us.
I would also like to thank her predecessor, Ethan Barcak, for his time spent with our office as he moves on to other opportunities. We wish him well in his future endeavors, and he will be missed by us all.
National Police Week 2021
The Houston Police Department (HPD) will observe National Police Week from Monday, May 3rd, 2021, through Friday, May 7th, 2021. This observance is to serve as a way to memorialize the police officers who have been lost in the line of duty.
Do You Know the Four Major Steps to Severe Weather Preparedness?
Hurricane season officially starts June 1st, but don’t let that stop you from preparing for it now! Here are the four major preparedness steps, as delineated by the Office of Emergency Management, that you can utilize to get ready for any severe weather that nature throws our way:
Sit down with your family and decide how you will get into contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency.
You may want to consider three types of kits:
  • A Go-Bag
  • A Shelter-in-Place Kit 
  • A Car Supply Kit
Sign up for emergency alerts through AlertHouston.
Check houstonemergency.org for emergency related information in moments of need.
Houston residents know how to work together to get the job done. Your neighbors can be a great source of help immediately after a disaster.
Residents can find more information online at houstonoem.org or by reading the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide (a free resource available from OEM for all City residents and organizations.)
City of Houston COVID-19 Vaccinations
The Houston Health Department will accept walk-ins at all of its COVID-19 vaccination sites and extend hours at some sites. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are welcome.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 should be easy and convenient for everyone, including people who may not be able to get to a vaccination site during typical business hours,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Expanding the existing walk-in policy to all Houston Health Department sites and extending hours of operation will help ensure people have access to the lifesaving vaccines. Getting vaccinated is key to helping our lives get back to normal.”
People can visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 to register for appointments. Registration assistance is available by phone by calling 832-393-4220 or 832-393-4301.
People who are overdue for their second dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the Houston Health Department can email HHDCOVID19.CRT@houstontx.gov or call 832-393-5190 to schedule their second dose appointment.
Hillcroft Avenue Groundbreaking
On April 13, I, Mayor Turner, Council Member Pollard, Public Works Director Carol Haddock, Together for Safer Roads, TIRZ 20, and other partners broke ground on Hillcroft Avenue. In an effort to make the Hillcroft Avenue/Gulfton Area safer, this Complete Communities Project focuses on creating a friendly environment for pedestrians, wheelchairs, bicyclists and METRO riders.
20 Years of Meritorious Service
It has been my honor to serve the city of Houston for over 20 years. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been recognized with this Certificate of Appreciation and plan to serve Houston for many more!
Go Coogs!
Congratulations to the University of Houston’s men’s basketball team for making it into the NCAA Final Four this season! All of their hard work does not go unnoticed. They have made Houston very proud. Here’s to hoping they win it all next season!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Due to the presence of Covid-19, it is now more crucial than ever to be aware of the importance of mental health. This Mental Health Awareness Month, take a moment to check in with your friends, your family and, most importantly, yourself. As a result of the stigma associated with mental health, it can often feel like you have nowhere to turn to. You are not alone. Below are some resources that you can utilize in a mental health crisis from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Houston:
Harris Center Crisis phone (24 hours)
  • 713-970-7000,‌ ‌option‌ ‌1‌
Harris County Sheriff’s Department Crisis
  • (713)‌ ‌221-6000‌
Crisis‌ ‌Hotline‌‌ (Fort‌ ‌Bend)‌
  • (800)‌ ‌633-5686‌‌
Montgomery‌ ‌County‌ ‌24-hr‌ ‌Crisis
  • 1-800-659-6994‌
  • Para‌ ‌llamadas‌ ‌en‌ ‌‌Espanol‌:‌ ‌‌1-888-628-9454‌
Additional information can be found here or on the NAMI Greater Houston Website
April 7:     Council approved the purchase of 156 vehicles at a cost of $4 million for various city departments. The bulk of this purchase includes 98 Dodge Chargers for the Police Department.
Council approved the City extending the lease with a local hotel to house city employees for quarantine purposes. The extension of the contract is for a reduction in the number of rooms from 126 to 32 and for a length of an additional 90 days. The federal government is reimbursing the city to lease these rooms.
April 14:    Council approved spending authority of $942,812 to pay for emergency items at both airports during the February winter storm. The items include de-icing liquid and pellets along with snow removal equipment. It is the City’s intent to seek federal funding sources for eligible expenditures.
Council authorized an agreement with a non-profit to spend $10.2 million in federal and state funds over 3 years to provide homeless shelter and services. Services include rent and utility payments, technical assistance and training, and other services for homeless persons to eventually provide for themselves.
Council approved an agreement with a non-profit to spend $1 million in federal funds over 3 years to provide a juvenile delinquency prevention program. The purpose of the program is to deter delinquency for at-risk youth or to prevent further delinquency from youth who are status offenders. Services include substance abuse deterrence and treatment, adolescent health education, educational services designed to prevent school dropouts, youth employability programs, prevention of gang membership, and other services related to preventing juvenile delinquency.
April 21:    Council approved spending $204,000 to purchase three animal control vehicles for BARC. These vehicles are replacing older vehicles and will be utilized to transport animals safely and comfortably from the point of pickup to a City facility.
Council approved spending $188,860 to purchase 83 Thermal Imaging Cameras for the Fire Department. These specialized camera devices are used by fire fighters to see areas of heat through smoke, darkness or heat-permeable barriers. These life saving devices are critical during a fire event.
Council approved the purchase of two airboats and trailers for the Public Works Department at a cost of $205,562. These airboats will be used by the Wastewater Operations to clean area bayous of dead wildlife, emergency rescues, and to gain access to wastewater treatment plants when they are flooded.
Council approved the purchase of asphaltic pavement concrete for $31.8 million over five years. This material will be used by Public Works, the Airport System, and the Parks Department to repair pavement failures, street potholes, and damaged roadways.
April 28:    The Director of Public Works delivered a presentation to council about the need to increase water and wastewater rates over the next several years to pay for public works infrastructure. The Administration is proposing an increase of approximately 50% in water and wastewater rates over the next five years. The presentation can be found here.
The Mayor is expected to place this matter for council consideration sometime in May.
Council approved the final contract for the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements for $17.1 million. Improvements to the plant included the aeration system, and electrical and instrumentation systems.
Council approved the Mayor’s schedule for City Department budget presentations, as well as designating June 2 as the date when the City’s budget will be voted upon. For a calendar of the upcoming budget schedule, click here.
Council approved providing federal Harvey dollars to partially fund the reconstruction of the building located at 2100 Memorial Drive near downtown. This 13-story building with 197 units is designated for seniors with 30%-60% of the Area Median Income. Having suffered from five feet of water during Harvey, the building will be reconstructed to mitigate future potential flood damage.
Council approved spending $4.7 million of federal Harvey dollars to restore the Kendall Neighborhood Library and Community Center. During Harvey, flood waters inundated the first floor causing extensive damage. This project will restore Kendall to its pre-Harvey condition and provide flood mitigation improvements.
Council authorized an interlocal agreement with Harris County to provide $230,000 to fund the counselors for the area Mental Health Crisis Call Diversion Program. This program provides mental health crisis counselors to more appropriately assist those persons in need rather than utilizing the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services personnel.
Council approved spending an additional $92,000 to provide legal services in the City’s ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. This additional funding increases the total fees spent by the City in this matter to $547,500.
Council approved spending $1.25 million to hire an outside legal firm to defend the City in the matter of the Harding Street raid. It is expected that these fees will escalate as this matter progresses.