A Port Arthur woman serving in the Peace Corps in Mongolia was not the victim of a violent crime as was first reported by her grandmother last week. Darlene Hernaez, the 22-year-old granddaughter, said she was not the victim of a crime and was not strangled or robbed. Hernaez explains in her own words what actually occurred. “An article was published erroneously about a minor incident that happened to me while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia. My grandmother, who is understandably overly concerned about my health, was quoted in saying that I was strangled and robbed; however I was neither,” she said in an e-mail to The News. “ I want to dispel these statements to ease troubled minds. The minor assault that occurred could have happened to anyone in any part of the world and though flattered at this attention given to me, I truly am not worthy of it. I am thankful for your prayers and concerns, but I am both physically and emotionally fine. I cause more physical harm to myself by simply walking in and out of my ger, a traditional Mongolian house, entry way, which even for a short Filipina as myself, I often forget to duck low enough. Even as I write to y’all today, I can feel the bump on my head from this morning’s literal run in with my doorway.” “And again despite what my grandmother may believe, I am not risking my life being here. On the contrary, I am starting to live a life that many only dream of having. And though I have only been in Mongolia for a short time, it already feels as though I have been here a lifetime; I mean that in the best way possible. So I don’t have 24-hour stores, fast food restaurants, cable TV or a car, and I have to get water from a well, wash my clothes by hand, and live in a Mongolian ger and will soon be chopping wood and making fires to keep warm. Is that really so strange? To me it has become the norm, and it amazes me how comfortable I am living in such a foreign land away from my friends and family, but I am. And although my days are not always easy, as I am still adjusting to the language, culture, and lifestyle, to imagine my life anywhere else but here is beyond me.” Hernaez says teaching English has given her a new found respect for teachers everywhere. “Let me please take a moment to apologize to my previous teachers for any bad behavior or trouble I may have caused you in the past. Only now do I understand your frustrations as my students are not always perfect angels. However despite their occasional devilish tendencies, I can’t stay mad at their cute faces too long. I am thankful for them in fact, because they challenge me to be a better teacher,” she said. “So though I deeply miss my family and friends, and think often of the States, my home, at the moment, is here in Mongolia. I cannot reiterate how much I love this country, its people, and my position as a PCV. I honestly wouldn’t be here without the support of my family who although would like me to be closer to them has never once told me to quit an organization that I am so passionate about. This has been a life long dream of mine and being able to live it leaves me utterly speechless, which for those who know me is hard thing to do. My only hope is that everyone has an opportunity to one day live out their wildest desire too.” Hernaez offered a few words to her grandmother, who was so worried about her youngest grandchild being away in a foreign country. “Lola (my grandmother), please try not to worry too much. I really am okay and love you deeply but still don’t want to come home,” she said. The Peace Corps are a welcome sight in the country. “The safety and security of our volunteers is the number one priority of the Peace Corps. Volunteers in Mongolia are not only safe, but flourishing. I visited Mongolia in April and was pleased to witness the strong partnership and friendship between the volunteers and the people of Mongolia,” Ron Tschetter, Director of the Peace Corps, said. Even Mongolia’s President Nambaryn Enkhbayar expressed his appreciation for the volunteers’ work. “What your Volunteers are doing is of high importance to me, my government, my country and the Mongolian people,” he said in a newsletter to The Peace Corps. President Enkhbayar has visited volunteers in several of the 17 district communities in which they work throughout the country. He commented, “The unique thing about Peace Corps volunteers is that they choose to live the way we live and are easy to recognize because they are the ones working together with the people in the local communities.”
Lamar sports informationCOLLEGE STATION – The 56th-ranked Lamar men’s tennis team (17-6) came up short against No. 18 Texas in the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships Friday in College Station. The Longhorns recorded a 4-0 victory at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center to advance to the second round to face the winner of No. 12 Texas A&M and George Washington. UT extended its lead to 2-0 after their straight-sets victory on court No.1. The Horns’ George Goldhoff defeated junior Michael Feucht, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 1 singles. UT grabbed a commanding 3-0 lead after Michael Riechmann defeated Hoogenboezem, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 5 singles.The match came to an end on court two when Ortiz recorded a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Lis. The Longhorns took the opening lead of the match after picking up wins at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles. UT’s Adrian Ortiz and Julian Zlobinsky recorded the first victory of the day with a 6-2 score over juniors Jeandre Hoogenboezem and Nikita Lis on court two. The Horns’ John Mee and Harrison Scott followed suit with a 6-2 win over junior Juuso Laitinen and Sebastian Santibanez on court three moments later for the point.The setback was made even tougher to accept with LU locked in a 4-4 battle on court one before the match was called. The Cardinals got out to a strong start in singles play across all six courts. LU was battling point-for-point on each court before the Longhorns started to take control. UT picked up the first set in all six matches and the Red and White was never able to recover.
Then, about 30 minutes later PAPD dispatch received a call from The Medical Center of Southeast Texas saying there was a black male there with a gunshot wound to his leg, according to information from the city of Port Arthur.Police are not saying whether the two incidents are related at this time. Port Arthur police responded to a call of shots fired only to arrive and find no victim or evidence of a shooting in the 800 block of Savannah Avenue on Thursday. Next Up
An 11-year-old boy who was not wearing a seat belt was ejected from a car during a crash on Sunday did not suffer serious injuries. The accident happened around 6:30 p.m. in the 3400 block of Gulfway Drive when a 2006 Mazda with the child passenger was traveling eastbound and had stopped for oncoming traffic to turn into the H.E.B. parking lot. The car was “t-boned” by a 2008 Infinity and the boy ejected from the vehicle and sustained a head injury, according to information from the Port Arthur Police Department.Air Rescue was called and landed in the nearby baseball field and brought the child to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont where he was kept overnight for observation with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.PAPD’s Advanced Accident Reconstruction Team worked the scene and the criminal investigations division is actively working the case. As of Tuesday no citations had been issued.
By Aliyya SwabyThe Texas Tribune This week, federal officials will monitor progress at schools in Houston ISD, Laredo ISD and Everman ISD, following up on a 2017 visit. They also will visit special education programs in Comal ISD, Spring Branch ISD and Lubbock ISD, chosen at random, according to the state.Texas determined last year that all of those school districts, except Comal ISD, are in need of some assistance or intervention in their special education programs, according to state records. And all of those in need of help, except Lubbock ISD, had lower percentages of students in special education than the state average of 9.1% last year.The 2018 federal investigation found that Texas effectively capped the percentage of students statewide who could receive special education services and incentivized some school districts to deny services to students in need. It also found that school administrators refused to evaluate some students who might have disabilities to see if they qualified for federally funded special education services. Instead, those administrators saw those evaluations as a “last resort” for students struggling to learn. And many educators fundamentally misunderstood their federal obligation to identify students with disabilities who need additional services, the investigation found.Federal officials OK’d some aspects of Texas’ improvement plan in October but said Texas should do more to make sure school districts understand how to comply with federal special education law. texastribune.orgFederal officials will give Texas’ special education programs another round of scrutiny this week, with visits planned to monitor how six school districts are educating students with disabilities.The U.S. Department of Education is set to make those visits as part of an ongoing review; it finished a thorough investigation last year and found Texas had violated federal education law by failing to provide students with disabilities with a proper education. Since then, state officials said they have completed all necessary steps to fix the long list of problems with special education and are waiting for the federal government to clear them. State officials say that problem has been addressed.“Commissioner Mike Morath remains confident that Texas school districts are aware of their obligations to identify, evaluate and provide special education services to students with disabilities,” Texas Education Agency spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said in a statement.But advocates say districts have not received guidance or additional resources from the state to help improve their services for students with disabilities.“Our districts and our members are anxiously awaiting guidance,” said Kristen McGuire, director of governmental relations at the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education. “Right now they’re doing everything they can, absent [Texas Education Agency] guidance, and so hopefully the Department of Education will see that when they come to those visits.”Texas is also in hot water with the federal government for illegally decreasing funding for kids with disabilities from year to year. State education officials have estimated they may owe the federal government about a quarter of their annual federal special education grant in a financial penalty.The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
“At this time, we cannot speak to the cause of the incident or the extent of damage, but TPC is assembling a team to conduct a full and thorough investigation,” a company statement said. “TPC is working with its insurance provider to establish a claims processing hotline for area residents impacted by the event.” PORT NECHES — At approximately 1 a.m. today (Nov. 27) an explosion was reported at the TPC Group Port Neches Operations site located at 2102 TX-136 Spur in Port Neches, involving a processing unit.Emergency responders are still working to bring the event under control, and are doing so as quickly and safely as possible. Teams have been dispatched to conduct air monitoring along the fence line of the facility and in surrounding neighborhoods through mutual aid.The event resulted in injuries to two employees and one contractor at the site. They have been transported to the Southeast Texas Regional Medical Center and to Memorial Hermann in Houston for treatment. TPC Group said it remains focused on protecting the safety of responders and the public and minimizing any impact to the environment. “We are focused on their quick recovery and providing support to their families,” a company statement said. “TPC Group activated its Emergency Response Plan and requested assistance from Port Neches Fire Department, Huntsman and Sabine Neches Chiefs Association.”The explosion was also immediately reported to the appropriate local, state, and federal authorities.
Next UpGas prices in Texas are 40.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 78.7 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.“For those not in the Great Lakes, there’s still good news: average prices will continue to play catch up for the next few weeks or longer,” DeHaan said. “Do keep an eye on this week’s potential meeting between major oil producers Russia and Saudi Arabia, however. On hopes of a production cut, oil rallied nearly $7 per barrel last week, but Tuesday’s meeting was postponed.“If there is an oil production cut, it may establish a floor to oil prices, but motorists need not worry — if there is a cut, it is highly unlikely to cause a surge in gas prices, as retail prices have not come close to matching the declines in wholesale prices to this point.” Historical gasoline prices in Texas and the national average going back ten years:April 6, 2019: $2.48/g (U.S. Average: $2.75/g)April 6, 2018: $2.41/g (U.S. Average: $2.66/g)April 6, 2017: $2.19/g (U.S. Average: $2.39/g)April 6, 2016: $1.87/g (U.S. Average: $2.05/g)April 6, 2015: $2.20/g (U.S. Average: $2.39/g)April 6, 2014: $3.38/g (U.S. Average: $3.58/g)April 6, 2013: $3.48/g (U.S. Average: $3.61/g)April 6, 2012: $3.84/g (U.S. Average: $3.93/g)April 6, 2011: $3.63/g (U.S. Average: $3.71/g)April 6, 2010: $2.72/g (U.S. Average: $2.81/g)Neighboring areas and their current gas prices:• Midland Odessa – $1.85/g, down 4.9 cents per gallon from last week’s $1.90/g.• San Antonio – $1.58/g, down 8.6 cents per gallon from last week’s $1.66/g.• Austin – $1.63/g, down 7.1 cents per gallon from last week’s $1.70/g. According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Texas is priced at $0.99/g today while the most expensive is $2.59/g, a difference of $1.60/g.The lowest price in the state today is 99 cents while the highest is $2.59/g, a difference of $1.60/g.The national average price of gasoline has fallen 5.7 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $1.91/g today.The national average is down 48 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 84.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average continues to fall as every state has seen another decline in average gas prices over the last week as overall oil demand remains constrained due to COVID-19.Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said the decline has been most significant thus far in the Great Lakes, due to the region being landlocked and challenging to ship gasoline out of, prices have been depressed significantly, driving these states to some of the lowest prices in the country.Texas gas prices have fallen 5.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.69/g today, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 13,114 stations.
Survivors include: daughter, Lodie Massey and son-in-law, Jack Massey, son Glen Henderson; grandchildren, Jessica and Todd Holt, Beau and Meagan Bunce, TJ and Kayla Henderson, Starsha Henderson, and Christina Worthington; great grandchildren Jackson, Masen, Hunter, Colton, Ashley, Bradley, and Scott and many beloved nieces and nephews. Peggy Rising Henderson, 91, passed away of natural causes on Mother’s Day morning at her daughter’s home in Galveston, Texas.Peggy Rising HendersonBorn in Port Arthur, Peggy was a 1945 graduate of St. James High School and of Baptist Hospital Nursing School. She was an RN at St. Mary Hospital for many years, and was a Eucharistic Minister for St. James Church.Peggy was preceded in death by her husband, Tom, and her son, Lynn. Visitation will be held at Clayton Thompson Funeral Home in Groves on Thursday, May 14, 2020 from 11:30 AM till 1:45 PM with graveside services to follow at 2:00 PM in Greenlawn Memorial Park.Memorials in Peggy’s name may be made to St. James Church or Hospice Care Team (www.hospicecareteam.org).
The grade promotion requirement related to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test for students in fifth and eighth grades has been waived for the upcoming school year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.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. “As always, our goal is to provide a high quality education for every Texas student,” Abbott said.“This will be a uniquely challenging school year, therefore, this year is about providing students every opportunity to overcome the disruptions caused by COVID-19. By waiving these promotion requirements, we are providing greater flexibility for students and teachers, while at the same time ensuring that Texas students continue to receive a great education — which we will continue to measure with high quality assessments.”Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said they were glad the governor suspended the promotion requirements for fifth and eighth graders that are tied to STAAR scores, but added he didn’t go far enough.“STAAR testing will still be wasteful and stressful at a time when teachers, students and their parents are stressed out enough over a deadly pandemic,” Molina said. “The governor needs to also suspend the A-F school accountability system and the T-TESS teacher appraisal system for the coming school year. They also are heavily tied to STAAR scores. And while he is at it, he should just suspend STAAR testing for 2020-21, period. It is a distraction that students and teachers don’t need while they learn a new education delivery system, and it is an expense that taxpayers can ill-afford.” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said parents deserve to know how well their children have learned grade level knowledge and skills in reading and math, especially in a time when education has been substantially disrupted.“And educators use this valuable information to make adjustments to support students the following year,” Morath said. “But there is no benefit to our children by requiring them to repeat a year based on a single test score given the disruptions of COVID, so we are waiving the grade promotion requirements from STAAR this year for our students.”Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said parents rightfully expect schools to continue to meet a high bar and it is critically important that teachers and parents know how each child is progressing and whether or not they need additional help.“A-F ratings will provide us with important information about school performance and, while we won’t use the STAAR test to determine promotions, it will continue to provide us with assessment data that we need,” he said. “We face some unprecedented challenges in the upcoming year, but we must continue to keep our schools accountable and on track.” Typically, students enrolled in grades fifth and eighth are required to re-take a STAAR test late in the school year, and sometimes again in the summer, if they do not meet grade level when taken during the spring.With this waiver, there will only be one administration of the STAAR grades fifth and eighth mathematics and reading assessments for the 2020–21 school year.The test will be administered in May to coincide with the administration of other STAAR grades 3-8 assessments.
Lamar State College Port Arthur is hosting free COVID-19 testing for the community. Testing is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday at the Carl Parker Multipurpose Center, 1800 Lakeshore Drive in Port Arthur.To expedite testing, participants should register online the day before arrival. The link to register is honu.dxresults.com/PatientSignup.aspx?LabId=290. Those being tested must also bring a valid ID.“COVID-19 testing is an important tool to help prevent the spread of this virus,” LSCPA President Dr. Betty Reynard said. “Testing makes us aware of our health status, which allows us to protect ourselves, our family, coworkers, and students.”