We are officially halfway through the year and Summer has arrived! June was a tumultuous month around the world and especially for our district. In this edition of the Capitol Review, we are covering the following topics:
· Events held throughout HD 29 and Texas
· Remembering Officer Endy Ekpanya
· Tips on Avoiding the Zika Virus
· Don't Drink and Drive
· Hurricane Information and Guide
· Helping the Community after the Historic Floods
· Remembering Pearland ISD Trustee Virgil Gant
All that rain could not keep us away from the events in House District 29 and beyond! We attended numerous events, including the Empereon-Constar Job Fair in Alvin, St. Helen's Bazaar in Pearland, City of Hillcrest Village Council Meeting, Alvin Museum Society After-Hours Get Together, Roy Castillo's Meet in Greet in Pearland, Alvin ISD's Groundbreaking Ceremony for Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary, a BizConnect Luncheon in Pearland, Alvin Community College's Athletics Program Fundraiser at TopGolf in Webster, and Life Membership Award honoring Al Partlow in Houston.
I was given a very warm, patriotic welcome from students in Communities in Schools during a University of Houston - Constitutional Literacy Tour.
We also attended the swearing in of Pearland City Council Member Trent Perez, Governor Greg Abbott's Disaster Briefing in Angleton, Pearland ISD's WH Jug Backhous Transportation Dedication Ceremony, Brazoria County's Communities in Schools Constitutional Literacy partnered with UHCL in Houston, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's Candidate Forum, a meeting with Collaborative for Children in Pearland, Commissioner Adams' Cook-Off Judging in Angleton, 52 Gun Raffle in Pearland, Texas High School Aerospace Scholars' Closing Event in Houston, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's State of the County Address, Alvin Noon Lions Club 80th Anniversary, Pearland Chamber of Commerce's Sundaes with State Senator Larry Taylor, Keeping Pearland Beautiful and Shadow Creek Ranch's Clean & Green Event, and Pearland Convention of Visitors Bureau's Shake, Rattle and Roll.
Johnny Benson from Pearland came to visit me at the Capitol Office in Austin! If you ever find yourself visiting the State Capitol, stop by my office, E2.506, and say hello!
Remembering Officer Endy Ekpanya
On June 12, 2016, the Pearland Police Department lost a beloved and courageous police officer. Officer Endy Ekpanya was killed in a tragic car accident when his police cruiser was struck by a drunk driver in the early hours of the day while responding to call. At the young age of 30 and as a member of the Pearland PD for under a year, Ekpanya was the first Pearland officer to die in the line of duty in over 40 years. Words cannot express the loss the Pearland Police Department and the community have experienced with the death of Officer Ekpanya. Below, I have included a brief summary of the incredible life he lived.
Ekpanya was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States with his family in 1996. He attended Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, up until his senior year, when he returned to Africa to spend time with his ailing father. While in Africa, he attended The Bells Comprehensive Secondary School in Nigeria and graduated in 2004. He then went on to become a United States citizen in 2012.
He was an extremely intelligent man that craved knowledge. He earned two bachelor's degrees from Hofstra University in New York, in psychology and sociology. He attended the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida and then made his way to the University of Maryland University College and earned a master's degree in criminal justice in 2014. The following year, he received his second master's degree in business administration from University College.
Mr. Ekpanya became a cadet on June 15, 2015 after joining the Pearland Police Department. After graduating from the Alvin Community College Law Enforcement Academy in December 2015, he became Officer Ekpanya. He had successfully completed the Field Training Officer program and was assigned to the D Squad night shift.
A Memorial Resolution was filed and a Texas Flag was flown over the State Capitol on June 13th in honor of Officer Ekpanya. He will be missed by all of us and our prayers go out to his family, friends, and the Pearland Police Department.
Pearland Police Officer Jeff Evans is pictured with a Pearland Police Cruiser in front of the State Capitol on June 13th to honor the life of his friend and colleague, Officer Endy Ekpanya.
Tips on Avoiding the Zika Virus
Summer is officially here, and you know what that means, more pesky mosquitos! Mosquitos are already a nuisance for us, but the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in parts of the world have escalated our fears and actions to prevent its transmission.
The Zika virus is spread through the bite of certain types of mosquitos. While it can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and red or pink eyes, about 80% of people with Zika do not become ill or have symptoms. Zika can also be spread through blood transfusions, sexual contact, and from mother to child, if the mother is infected with Zika during pregnancy. So far, transmission of the Zika virus by mosquitos has not occurred in Texas, but the Texas Department of State Health Services predicts we will at some point, possibly as early as this summer. In addition, because we reside along the Gulf Coast, we have a higher chance of being impacted by Zika.
I urge you to take any necessary safety precautions to avoid coming into contact with the Zika virus. Some tips below include:
· Applying effective insect repellent.
· Wearing pants and long-sleeve shirts that cover exposed skin.
· In warmer weather, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers exposed skin.
· Removing standing water in and around your home. This includes cans, toys, tires, plant saucers, and any container that can hold water.
· Cover trash cans or containers where water can collect.
Although Brazoria County has not had any reported cases of the Zika virus, 48 cases exist in the state of Texas, with 13 of them just to the north of us in Harris County and 2 to our west in Fort Bend County. If you would like more information on the Zika virus, including transmission, prevention, and traveling tips, please click here.
I'm a member of the State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment Select Committee, and we met last month to discuss ways to increase transparency while remaining fiscally responsible.
Don't Drink and Drive
The 4th of July is just around the corner and it will be a time of celebration, watching fireworks shows, eating with family and friends, and making new, life-long memories. As we celebrate the national holiday with parades and other festivities, I urge you all to remain safe this weekend by making the right choices.
The Texas Department of Public Safety and local police officers will be patrolling the state and communities to keep people out of harm's way. They will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers, as spikes in accidents involving alcohol usually occur during this patriotic weekend. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), about every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol. The effects of alcohol are immediate with your first drink. You and others can stay safe by designating a sober driver, calling a cab, or staying the night wherever you are, if possible. TxDOT will also be implementing a new campaign called "Plan While You Can". The campaign will include a multi-city tour that stops at shopping malls in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, and Waco. Shoppers will be invited to test their driving skills during a two-minute interactive game that simulates sober-to-impaired driving conditions, including difficulty in steering, delayed reactions, and blurred vision. The campaigns primary purpose is to save lives and decrease alcohol-related crashes all year long. During the 2015 4th of July weekend, 355 alcohol-related crashes occurred in Texas, resulting in 19 fatalities and 32 serious injuries. If you would like more information on the effects of alcohol, the law on DWI's, and possible punishments, please click here.
Alvin Community College's Athletics Program held a fundraiser at Top Golf. I am pictured with my District Director, Liz Sitta, (second from the left) State Senator Larry Taylor, (middle) and representatives from other elected officials offices.
Hurricane Information and Guide
It has been one month since the official start of the 2016 Hurricane Season. We did not have any tropical systems make landfall in Texas, but with all the rain we had in June, you could have fooled anyone!
On Saturday, July 9th at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds in Angleton (901 S. Downing) from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, I encourage you and your family to attend the Brazoria County Hurricane Preparedness Expo. There will be FREE hot dogs and drinks, door prizes, goody bags, and FREE admission and parking. There will activities for the kids, emergency vehicle displays, and emergency preparedness vendors and useful information for the entire family. Information will be presented by Ready Heroes, the National Weather Service, and Local Emergency Management Personnel. If you would like more information on how to prepare and protect yourself this hurricane season, please click here for a handy guide. For more information on the Brazoria County Hurricane Expo, call 979-864-1200.
I am pictured with Darrick Wu and Arjun Kunjilwar from Glenda Dawson High School at the Texas High School Aerospace Scholars' Closing Event at the Gilruth Center at NASA.
Updates on the Historic Floods
Brazoria County experienced floods like we have never seen before in recent memory. From voluntary evacuations, to mandatory evacuation orders, to Governor Abbott's major disaster declaration request, which was later approved by the President, June was a month that tested the strength and resolve of the citizens of Brazoria County and countless other Texans. If you or someone you know still requires assistance after the floods, I have provided a couple of resources below to help you get back on track.
How to apply for assistance
Residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at www.fema.gov. or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for the speech and hearing impaired. The toll-free numbers are available 24 hours per day.
Applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves name, permanent address, phone number, insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate losses.
United Way of Brazoria County Disaster Recovery Fund
United Way of Brazoria County has established the United Way of Brazoria County Flood Recovery Fund. The fund will help with the long-term recovery needs of Brazoria County residents most affected by disaster such as the community’s seniors, the working poor, and others requiring assistance after the devastation of the 2016 Floods.
Monies raised will be distributed to local non-profit organizations helping in the response and recovery efforts. The Flood Recovery Fund is being conducted alongside United Way’s annual fundraising campaign to raise funds for 47 health and human service programs that increase independence, improve people’s health, and help children and youth achieve their potential.
For more information about the Flood Recovery Fund contact Gloria Luna or Jenna Masters at (979)849-9402 or email
In response to the historic floods that affected Brazoria County, I joined with Governor Greg Abbott, Congressman Pete Olson, and other elected officials to discuss a recovery plan for our citizens.
Remembering Pearland ISD Trustee Virgil Gant
On June 26, 2016, Pearland lost another valued member of the community. Pearland ISD Trustee Virgil Gant was killed in a car accident near Ozona, Texas. Gant served on the Pearland ISD Board of Trustees for a total of 16 years -- from 1997-2006 and from 2009 to the present. He served in many leadership roles, including board president and most recently as a member of the Long-Range Planning Steering Committee. In 2014, Gant received the Master Trustee designation from the Texas Association of School Boards. Gant had also served on the Pearland Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s in business administration from Oklahoma City University. Gant served in the Navy, was financial advisor and certified financial planner with Edward Jones, and a Pearland resident for more than 20 years.
My office and I are currently working on gathering more information on the life of Virgil Gant so that we may properly honor him with a Memorial Resolution to present to his family and Pearland ISD. A Texas flag was flown in his honor over the State Capitol on June 27th and will be presented to the family along with the Resolution. Our prayers go out to the family and to Pearland ISD.
I had the pleasure of presenting a Congratulatory Resolution to the Alvin Noon Lions Club on their 80th Anniversary.
Save the Dates
Here are some important dates that are right around the corner:
· August 9, 2016 - 11:30 AM: Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce State of the District Address with Representative Thompson (Knights of Columbus, Alvin, TX)
· August 11, 2016 - 2:00 PM: Root Beer Floats with Representative Thompson (Pearland Chamber of Commerce, Pearland, TX)
· August 18, 2016 - 11:30 AM: Pearland Chamber of Commerce Legislative Update featuring Senator Larry Taylor and Representative Ed Thompson (Hilton Garden Inn, Pearland, TX)
· September 12, 2016 - 3:00 PM: TopGolf with State Representative Ed Thompson (Webster, TX)
· September 18, 2016 - 1:00 PM: Meet and Greet with State Representative Ed Thompson (Billy's Hall, Pearland, TX)
· September 26, 2016 - 7:00 PM: Alvin Town Hall Meeting (Alvin Train Depot)
· September 27, 2016 - 7:00 PM: Pearland Town Hall Meeting (Pearland Chamber of Commerce)
This is what Brazoria County is about. Neighbors helping neighbors. God Bless Brazoria County.
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, call my District Office at 281-485-6565, or my Capitol Office at 512-463-0707. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated and stay in touch. Visit our YouTube channel for monthly videos as well! (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyGqEvuasccTlyV63fhrLkg)
Thanks for reading, and God Bless Texas!