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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Houston area flu cases spike!

THE CHRON: If you've been putting off your annual flu shot, don't delay any longer: Texas is already being hit hard this flu season.
Houston-area hospitals have seen a spike in the number of emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms, said Porfirio Villarreal, spokesman for the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. During the week of Nov. 18, about 1,580 visits to emergency rooms were attributed to flu-like illnesses, compared with just 249 visits during the same week last year, Villarreal said.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization or even death, the CDC says.
Every flu season is different, and even healthy people can get very sick from the disease and spread it to others. From 1976 to 2007, estimates of U.S. deaths each year due to flu ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.
"Flu is predictably unpredictable," said Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Texas Children's Hospital and pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine. "There's no cause for alarm but cause for action. People should get themselves vaccinated so it doesn't get any worse."
National Influenza Vaccination Week, a campaign established in 2005 to counter the notion that December is too late to get a vaccination, ends Saturday. Once a vaccine is administered, it takes about two weeks to develop immunity.
Although the influenza season usually peaks in February, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases, with rates rising quickly nationwide, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.
Along with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are also reporting high levels of activity.
In Houston, Texas Children's Hospital has seen an early start to the season with 123 confirmed cases of Type A influenza and 32 cases of Type B, compared with just two Type A cases in the same span last year, Demmler-Harrison said.
Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccination, but the CDC says it's especially important for these groups:
» People at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get the flu, including those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
» Pregnant women.
» People 65 years and older.
» People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sam's club employees robbed in Pearland

PEARLAND, Texas – Two employees leaving their jobs at a Sam’s Club in Pearland were assaulted and robbed late Wednesday, police said.
According to the Pearland Police Department, it was around 9:45 p.m. when the victims, a man and a woman, were leaving the Sam’s Club store on Highway 288 at Discovery Bay.
The workers told police they were walking to their vehicles when an older model green Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled up, and two armed men with ski masks jumped out. The male employee tried to protect the female, causing one of the suspects to hit him on the head with a pistol.
Police said the two suspects made off with the man’s wallet, cash, watch, and other items.
Investigators said there may have been a third suspect driving the vehicle.
Anyone with information can call the Pearland Police Department.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Park & Ride" coming to Pearland in 2014

CHRON: Motorists driving on Texas 288 may get some needed relief when a new Metropolitan Transit Authority Park & Ride comes online in mid- or late 2014 taking from 900 to 1,000 cars off the road daily.
In November 2011, Metro purchased 15 acres off northbound Texas 288 north of a detention pond and just south of a medical office for the Park & Ride. Hughes Ranch Road is north of the site and County Road 94 or Smith Ranch Road is just to the east.
Metro is in the process of bringing on a firm to perform engineering services for the Park & Ride. Once final design has been completed in late 2013, construction activities will soon follow, said Caroline Mendoza of Metro's press office.
Edmund Petry, Metro manager of environmental and capital planning, said cost for the project is anticipated to be approximately $14 million. The Park & Ride will include about 1,000 parking spaces, a three-bay bus facility with a canopy and accompanying seating.
"Based on the current assumptions within the proposed service plan, the annual ridership is projected to be 228,600," he said.
The new facility will provide residents service between the Texas Medical Center and Brazoria County.
Petry said the route will offer patrons additional opportunities since about 13 bus routes operate out of the Texas Medical Center Transit Center and because it also provides access to MetroRail connecting to downtown.
"State Highway 288 is the main artery from this area into downtown Houston, and there is no high-occupancy vehicle lane at the moment to help ease congestion. This new service would give Brazoria County residents a cost-efficient, direct ride to the Texas Medical Center," Petry said.
He said many medical center employees call the Brazoria County area home. TMC officials, he said, have consistently asked for additional service for their commuting employees and to help them meet expansion goals.
"This service will help the medical center meet its development goals by reducing the need for parking, provide mobility options, enhance safety and improve air quality," Petry said.
Carol Artz-Bucek, president and CEO of the Pearland Chamber, of Commerce, expects the project to contribute generally to the quality of life for Brazoria County residents.
"Such projects improve the quality of life by offering more choices, better safety and more opportunities for commuters in the Pearland area. I am very proud of our civic leaders who negotiated and worked on this," Artz-Bucek said.
Petry said the process began in 2010 when the city of Pearland and Gulf Coast Connect Transit approached Metro with a request for commuter service between the medical center, Pearland, Manvel and the adjacent Brazoria County area. He said these entities had secured grant funding for operating the service and needed Metro to program and provide the service.
A stakeholder committee comprised of representatives from the cities of Pearland and Manvel, the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Gulf Coast Connect Transit, Brazoria County and the Texas Department of Transportation conducted extensive studies in selecting the land for the Park & Ride, Petry said.
Pearland Assistant City Manager Jon Branson said, "We've been asking Metro for many years to put a Park & Ride in Pearland due to the growth of our area and our large number of commuters. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Pearland was the second fastest-growing area in Texas and the 15th fastest-growing in the nation," he said.
Branson said the city was a key partner along with Metro and Gulf Coast Connect Transit in securing federal grants to make land procurement and construction possible. The city has committed to provide matching funds to facilitate day-to-day operations at the Park & Ride for the first five years. The first two years are expected to cost the city $90,000 to $100,000 each. The next three years he anticipates will be about $320,000 each.
Branson and Pearland Economic Development Corp. President Matt Buchanan think it is a great investment. Both men anticipate that Petry's estimate of 228,600 annual boardings will translate to around 900 to 1,000 cars taken off the road daily.
"It's an exciting opportunity for our residents to have another option to get to the Texas Medical Center, downtown and other job centers," Buchanan said.
And Branson said it is not just the improvement for people commuting from Brazoria County into town that is in focus, but also increasing the opportunity for people to commute into the Pearland area for work as well.
"We believe the Metro estimates will be met and exceeded," Branson said. He also noted that residents are already calling the city asking when the new Park & Ride will come online. That, he says, is another cause for encouragement.
Mark A. Quick is a freelance writer. He can be reached at

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pearland GNC store arsonists sought

The Pearland Fire Marshal's Office is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of any suspects in a store arson fire.

Arson investigators believe the suspect(s) entered the GNC store located at 7117 Broadway through a rear door between the hours of 6:30am and 7am on October 24. The suspect(s) then attempted to burn the store by setting multiple fires and using an accelerant to promote fire growth and spread.

The sprinkler system installed at this location controlled the fires and prevented them from spreading throughout the building until the Fire Department could arrive and fully extinguish the fire.
The Pearland Fire Marshal's Office is seeking help to identify the person or persons responsible for this fire. A reward of $1,000 is being offered by the City of Pearland for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who set the fire.

Anyone with information regarding this fire is encouraged to contact the Pearland Fire Marshal at 281.651.1954. Information provided that results in an arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this arson fire will be eligible for the reward. For information on fire investigations, please contact Deputy Fire Marshal Shohn Davison at 281.652.1965 or
(Copyright ©2012 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teens abusing Delsym taken to hospital

PEARLAND, TX (KPRC/NBC) - Four Texas teens were taken away from a school by paramedics after they became intoxicated from Delsym cough syrup on Tuesday.
Parents and students at Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland, TX, where the incident took place, reacted to the news Tuesday.
"I wonder, what's the rationale behind that? I guess maybe they wanted to go home or something and kids do things that I don't understand," said Edward Jasmine.
Police said the boys, two 14-year-olds and two 15-year-olds, ingested the medicine in one of the school's restrooms.
One of the boys had brought four bottles of Delsym cough syrup.
Each teenager drank a full bottle.
After they returned to class, a teacher noticed one of the students were behaving differently and appeared to be in distress.
The teacher sent him to the nurse, who discovered that he had an elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
That's when the teenager admitted that he had consumed the cough syrup with the other boys.
"In the end, all four were transported to Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital for evaluation," said Onesimo Lopez with the Pearland Police Department
Delsym is a strong medicine with a 12 hour time release, which is meant to be taken in teaspoonfuls.
It's so strong that it is often placed behind the counter.
"If they take too much of it trying to keep chasing that high, they could end up overdosing and may actually even die from it," Lopez said.
The students may face public intoxication charges.
Copyright 2012 KPRC via NBC. All rights reserved

Monday, September 17, 2012

Houston man accused of salt poisoning boy

A Houston man is accused of pouring salt down the throat of 4-year-old Angel Maldonado and torturing him on a number of occasions.
Rolando Tomas Mendez, 21, was charged with injury to a child this week after a year-long investigation.
Angel was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital Northeast after vomiting and losing consciousness on September 28, 2011. He was then airlifted to Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital. Doctors there said he could’ve died if they’d waited any longer.
Poice questioned Angel's mother and Mendez, her live-in boyfriend. He is not the boy’s father, but does have a 2-year-old daughter with the mother.
Mendez told police he was keeping both kids while their mother worked the first day of her new job. He said after feeding them, he noticed Angel had vomited in the bedroom and bathroom.
The child’s mother said she noticed her son was walking sideways and was unable to keep his balance so she ran and picked him up. As she rushed her son to the hospital, she noticed his bottom lip was blue and hanging down.
Mendez told the mother he had given the boy a piece of lemon with a little salt on it and fed him spaghetti, but denied doing anything wrong to the child.
Doctors, however, said the child had elevated levels of sodium and had to be either poisoned with salt or deprived water. After numerous tests, they determined there were no underlying medical conditions that could explain the sodium levels.
When Angel returned home, relatives say he would often cry uncontrollably and had developed a fear of the salt shaker. His grandmother said he’d say "no touch, that’s bad" when someone would reach for the shaker at the dinner table.
They put two and two together and called police.
Angel told investigators that "Lando" was mean and often forced him to eat "a lot of salt" when he got mad. The boy showed how Mendez would tilt his head back and shake the salt directly into his mouth. He also said Mendez would place him into scorching hot baths.
"I was real, real mad. I didn’t know what to do," said Alberto Maldonado, Angel’s father.
Angel's paternal grandmother was also interviewed. She told investigators the child told her that Mendez would lock him in the closet and make him watch scary "Chucky" movies.
Mendez told police he did let the child watch the "Chucky" movie with him, but said he never locked him in the closet or poured salt down his throat.
He refused to take a polygraph examination.

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