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Cyclist involved in two hit-and-run accidents dies in La Marque

La Marque

A man riding his bicycle on a La Marque road was struck by two vehicles in the early hours of Sunday morning, police said.

The man died in the road. The vehicles did not stop and no arrests have been made.

The hit-and-run happened about 2:30 a.m. in the 700 block of FM 1765 in La Marque, La Marque Police Department spokesman Lt. Chad Waggoner said.

A man was riding his bicycle west down the center lane of the street, when he was struck by a tan SUV, Waggoner said. Witnesses told police the SUV left the scene of the collision, returned and then left again.

Before emergency responders arrived, a second vehicle ran over the man while he was lying in the street, Waggoner said. That vehicle also did not stop.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was not immediately identified, although Waggoner said he was white and in his 50s.

Police are investigating the man’s death as an accident. Waggoner said there was no reason to believe the initial collision was intentional.

Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is a second-degree felony in Texas. Drivers involved in an accident causing serious injury or death at required to immediately stop at, or return to, the scene of an accident and try to provide aid to the victim.

Second-degree felonies are punishable by a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The death comes a day after police were called to the same area of FM 1765 over a fatal shooting on Saturday morning. That incident was being investigated by Texas City Police. The two deaths are not connected, Waggoner said.

Jennifer Reynolds / JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News  

Fiesta Gras

Osvaldo Lopez waves the Mexican flag from the Dancing Queen on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, during the Fiesta Gras Estrella TV Parade during Mardi Gras in Galveston.

Jennifer Reynolds / JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News  

Fiesta Gras

Luz and Alberto Latuff dance their way down The Strand in Galveston on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, during the Fiesta Gras Estrella TV Parade.

In the early hours, Galveston cleans up the Mardi Gras party

For some Galveston residents, the sound of leaf blowers and street sweepers going down their road at 7 a.m. on a Mardi Gras Sunday might be an annoying wake-up call.

For Albert Bernard, it’s the sound of a job well done.

Every year for the past 23 years, Bernard, Galveston’s superintendent of sanitation, has been part of the city’s early morning cleanup after annual Mardi Gras celebrations.

Starting downtown about 11 p.m., a team of 25 or so city employees begin a sweep of the city, clearing trash barrels, picking up loose trash and keeping an eye out for abandoned Mardi Gras beads.

By 8 a.m. Sunday, the job was almost done for the day. This year the pickup wasn’t too difficult, Bernard said, although it seemed more beads that usual had been left on the ground around the city.

“The goal is to make it as absolutely clean as possible,” Bernard said. “We go wherever we can reach.”

Mardi Gras can cause trash to pile up fast in Galveston and other parts of the country. Last week, the New Orleans Advocate newspaper reported crews there collected 93,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads from clogged city catch basins as part of a four-month cleanup program.

That number was the amount of debris collected from just one of the city’s most popular parade routes, New Orleans officials said.

The haul doesn’t get nearly as big during Mardi Gras in Galveston, where celebrations are limited to two weekends and a relatively small area of the city. Still, Bernard said the crew can pick up at much as 2 tons of trash after the busiest nights of Mardi Gras.

“I love my job, because it’s more than just garbage with us,” he said. “This job has provided a lot for these guys. This job is bringing income to their families.”

After the police and fire department, the sanitation department has the most vital and visible city employees, he said.

“If we don’t do our job, people won’t come back,” he said.

The biggest pains to pick up aren’t the plastic beads scattered around the street, he said, but the individual plastic bags used to package the beads, which are discarded in people’s haste to throw beads to waiting crowds.

Cleaning up after large crowds isn’t a rare event for Galveston’s crews. Last year, after a long Fourth of July weekend, the Galveston Park Board of Trustees reported picking up more than 49,000 pounds of trash from the island’s beaches.

During Mardi Gras, city crews focus on streets and interior areas, while park board crews focus on Seawall Boulevard and the beaches.

Mary Beth Bassett, a spokeswoman for the Galveston Park Board of Trustees, said the board’s own 29-person coastal zone management crew picked up an estimated 12,000 pound of trash between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sunday.

The park board placed more than 300 trash barrels on Seawall Boulevard in anticipation of the Mardi Gras crowds.

A lot of the clean up is beads and assorted trash, Bassett said. The park board bought extra blowers this year to help coax the beads from under parked cars. But the Seawall crew also removed larger items, including three grills that were left abandoned on the seawall after Saturday’s parades.

The crews were to be back out again on Sunday evening, after the end of the last events of the first weekend of Mardi Gras.

The schedule called for the Bernard’s team to start work at 5 p.m., right before the kickoff of Super Bowl LLI in Minneapolis. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, he said.

“This is our Super Bowl,” Bernard said.

Eric Gay  

Eagles Patriots Super Bowl Football

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles catches a touchdown pass against the New England Patriots during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Jennifer Reynolds / JENNIFER REYNOLDS/The Daily News  

Fiesta Gras

Susan Anduaga holds up Kennedy Lopez, 3, to catch beads Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, during Fiesta Gras on The Strand in Galveston.

GISD trustees to make final call on $31 million bond election

The Galveston Independent School District board of trustees on Wednesday will make a final decision on calling a $31 million bond election in May as the first part of a two-step plan to improve district facilities.

A $31 million bond, proposed for a May referendum, would pay for immediate repairs at district facilities caused by deferred maintenance, while a committee works to identify longer-term projects that could be funded through a future bond issue, Galveston Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.

The $31 million bond issue could be paid off over 12 years without a tax increase, Moulton said.

Trustees on Wednesday will hold a special meeting to either approve or reject the proposal, which was signed off on by a facilities advisory committee in January.

Staggered bond elections are necessary because district officials don’t have time to prepare a comprehensive examination of long-term needs before the Feb. 16 deadline to call a May vote, officials said. A second, and presumably larger, bond referendum could be held in November.

The proposal is similar to one trustees considered, and decided against, in July 2017.

Trustees and district administrators have discussed a bond election since learning the severity of problems caused by deferred maintenance at school buildings and that it would cost an estimated $65.1 million to correct them all.

Maintenance staff, in a previous presentation to trustees, said extensive work was needed on the roofs at Ball High School, Central Middle School, the Rosenberg Elementary School building, Scott Elementary School and the former Alamo Elementary School.

The cost of replacing those roofs is more than $1 million in many instances, records show.

District officials have also said that the second part of the two-part bond election could include more than just deferred maintenance projects as a means to set district facilities up for the future.

The $31 million bond issue would cover only temporary repairs to some buildings, Moulton said.

For instance, replacing the roof at Ball High School has been estimated to cost about $5.5 million, but the first bond package earmarks only $660,000 to repair, rather than replace, the roof, according to records provided to The Daily News.

If trustees approve a bond election, district officials said they will ask trustees to hire a group to conduct a full facilities and demographic study in preparation for the second bond election.

A May bond election would be the first since 2010, when voters shot down a $35 million referendum that would have included a sports complex to replace Kermit Courville Stadium.

The last successful district bond election was in 2003 for $69.45 million to renovate and modernize school facilities.

Friendswood to add race to May council election


The Friendswood City Council is scheduled to vote today about ordering a special election May 5 to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Mike Foreman, who is running for mayor.

The proposed special election would be the same day as the already scheduled May 5 election for a new mayor and two other council positions.

Foreman, a former astronaut, will face Omar Peck in the mayoral race to replace Mayor Kevin Holland.

In May 2017, Peck was an unsuccessful candidate for Position 2 on the council. His competitor, Sally Harris Branson, won the seat left vacant when Councilman Billy Enochs stepped down to run for Galveston County commissioner.

Peck, who is retired, had a long career with California-based URS Corp. and has served as president of his homeowners’ association.

Incumbent Councilman Steve Rockey is running unopposed for his Position 4.

Two candidates are vying to fill Councilman Jim Hill’s Position 3 spot.

Trish Hanks, the former superintendent of Friendswood Independent School District, and Philip Ratisseau are both running for the position.

Ratisseau is active in area tea party efforts and was involved with Citizens for CCISD, a political action committee that opposed the $487 million bond issue that voters approved in May 2017.

Ratisseau and Peck opposed a sales tax for downtown improvements that voters approved in 2016. That issue and the future funding of the city’s emergency medical services are likely to be campaign issues based on both men’s previous comments on those subjects.

Other candidates can still file paperwork to run for city office through Feb. 16 with the city secretary’s office, staff said.