Houston City Council Approves Largest Brownfield Solar Project in the Nation

Jan 14, 2021
HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner and city council yesterday approved unanimously a lease agreement with Sunnyside Energy, LLC to advance the Sunnyside Solar Project–an innovative public-private partnership to convert the 240-acre closed landfill in Sunnyside into the largest brownfield solar installation in the nation. The project is a product of the City’s Climate Action Plan and Complete Communities Initiative. It is an example of how the City of Houston is working to find innovative, public-private solutions to addresses historic environmental justice concerns, climate change, and economic development in underserved communities. 
“The Sunnyside landfill has been one of Houston’s biggest community challenges for decades, and I am proud we are one step closer to its transformation,” said Mayor Turner. “I thank the Sunnyside community because this project would not have come together without its support. This project is an example of how cities can work with the community to address long-standing environmental justice concerns holistically, create green jobs and generate renewable energy in the process.” 
The project, developed by Sunnyside Energy, will be anchored by a 50 megawatt (MW) ballasted solar array that will generate enough renewable energy to power 5,000 homes and offset 120 million pounds of CO2 each year. The array is expected to be installed and operational by the end of 2022 – at no cost to the City.

“We applaud the actions of Mayor Turner and the City Council in taking this significant step,” said Dori Wolfe, Managing Director of Sunnyside Energy LLC. “It is a strong vote of confidence for this impactful project. All members of the project team realize that this Sunnyside Solar facility will be an iconic statement in the rejuvenation of the community. We are grateful that Mayor Turner has given us his support.”
In 2017, the City of Houston joined the C40 Reinventing Cities Competition – a global competition to develop innovative, carbon-free, and resilient urban projects. Through the competition, Houston and 13 other cities across the globe identified for redevelopment under-utilized parcels of land. Through this effort, the City selected the winning proposal from Wolfe Energy, LLC.  After receiving the green light to move the proposal forward, Wolfe Energy formed Sunnyside Energy LLC, a team of engineers, architects, community members, and artists, to transform the abandoned landfill site into an urban solar farm.
Under the terms of the lease agreement approved by City Council, the City will retain ownership of the land, but the tenant will be responsible for the permitting, construction, operation, and maintenance of the project, an estimated $70 million private investment for the community. In the coming months, Sunnyside Energy LLC will work to secure all necessary state and local permits and finalize financing and design plans to ensure the project meets the most rigorous environmental safety standards before construction.  
As part of the City’s Complete Communities initiative, the project also contains sustainability, resilience, and economic development components, requested by the community and will: 
 Prevent potential future environmental hazards posed by the landfillProvide power discounts for low-income residents in the neighborhoodTrain and employ local laborStore and filter stormwater on the tract to help reduce floodingInclude educational attributes at the restored site 
Increasing Houstonians’ use of solar power is a critical component of the city’s first-ever Climate Action Plan. One hundred percent of the City of Houston’s electricity to operate its facilities comes from solar and wind sources, making Houston the largest municipal user of renewable energy in the nation. 
The mission of Complete Communities is to ensure that all Houstonians have equal access to quality services and amenities. By tapping the strengths of Houston’s community members, nonprofits, businesses, and philanthropic partners, the Complete Communities initiative is building a stronger, more resilient city and making transformational change where it’s needed most.
For more information on the Complete Communities initiative or to view the Sunnyside Complete Communities Action Plan, visit online at http://www.houstontx.gov/completecommunities/.
More details about the Sunnyside Solar Project and the Houston Climate Action Plan are available at www.greenhoustontx.gov and complete communities website.
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Mayor Turner, Houston Public Library, and Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs Announce Search for Houston’s Next Poet Laureate

Jan 14, 2021
(Left to right) MOCA Director Debbie McNulty, HPL Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Houston’s 2019 – 2021 Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz, and Mayor  Sylvester Turner at the Poet Laureate Reception on May 20, 2019. 
HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Director of Houston Public Library (HPL), Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, are pleased to announce the search for the City of Houston’s next poet laureate. 

The Poet Laureate Program celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a Houston poet who serves as the City’s ambassador for the literary arts. The Houston poet laureate’s role is to stimulate poetic impulse, foster appreciation of poetry in all its forms, and serve Houston residents and visitors with expressions of culture through words.

“Right now, perhaps more than ever, Houston needs the power of community offered through written or spoken word poetry,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We look forward to finding and announcing our City’s fifth poet laureate, whose words will bring us together in spirit and inspire us to be resilient in the coming years.” 

The City’s next poet laureate will serve from April 2021 through April 2023 and receive an honorarium of $20,000 from the City of Houston’s City Initiative Grant Program. The program is coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) and HPL. The Poet Laureate Program is funded through the Hotel Occupancy Tax that is dedicated to the arts. 
Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, Houston’s 2017-2019 Poet Laureate
“The Houston Public Library is so pleased to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs again to welcome Houston’s next poet laureate. We have so many Houstonians who are passionate about poetry and community, and we encourage them to submit their poetic works to support our effort in celebrating Houston’s diversity and elevating this art form,” said Dr. Lawson. “It’s a great opportunity, especially during these challenging times, to have this citywide platform for poets to share not only their invaluable talent, but also their voice.” 

During a two-year appointment, the poet laureate makes several guest appearances at special events and completes a feature project. Houston’s most recent poet laureate, Leslie Contreras Schwartz, created Bayou City Broadsides, which are one-page artistic displays of lines from poems of everyday Houstonians. Houston’s 2017-2019 Poet Laureate Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton created community performance poetry videos highlighting various Houston neighborhoods. Houston’s 2015-2017 Poet Laureate Dr. Robin Davidson developed an anthology book of Houston residents’ favorite poetry, and Gwen Zepeda, Houston’s 2013-2015 poet laureate, created the Houston Poet Laureate’s social media platforms. 
Dr. Robin Davidson, Houston’s 2015-2017 Poet Laureate, reading “To Speak of Rivers, after Langston Hughes” for Mayor Turner (Photo credit: Tony Davidson), Sept 10, 2016
The Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee, a diverse group of poets, scholars, literary experts, and community representatives, will assist in the selection process. The group includes all poets laureate emeritus Gwen Zepeda, Dr. Robin Davidson, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, and Leslie Contreras Schwartz; Radu Barbuceanu of Visit Houston; Dr. Ginger Ko of Sam Houston State University; Jennifer Julian of Texas Southern University; Roderick Robinson of Public Poetry; and Harrison Guy of the Fifth Ward Cultural District. Non-voting members include Monique Mogilka of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) and Carmen Abrego of the Houston Public Library (HPL). 

The selection committee will interview finalists in March, and Mayor Turner will select the winner. The City will announce Houston’s next poet laureate in Apil to celebrate National Poetry Month.

The deadline to apply is midnight on February 25, 2021. Submissions are welcome from poets, authors, writers, and spoken word artists. 
Gwen Zepeda, Houston’s 2013-2015 poet laureate, at the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Conference XV in February 2020. 
The guidelines and application portal for the Houston Poet Laureate and term requirements can be found at https://www.houstontx.gov/poetlaureate.html.
For more information about the Houston Public Library, visit www.houstonlibrary.org, Twitter @houstonlibrary, or call 832.393.1313. 

For more information about the City’s Cultural Programs, visit www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs or follow the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook or Instagram @HoustonMOCA.
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Suspect Arrested, Charged in Fatal Crash at 8000 Antoine Drive

Jan 14, 2021
Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in a fatal crash that occurred at 8000 Antoine about 8:20 p.m. on Monday (January 11).

The suspect, Lohortenes Sanders (b/f, 28), is charged with criminally negligent homicide in the 232nd State District Court.  A booking photo of Sanders is attached to this news release.

The female victim, 52,  was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Her identity is pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

HPD Vehicular Crimes Division Sergeant P. Lee and Officer C. Song reported:

According to a witness, Sanders had an argument with someone in a nearby apartment complex.  When the passenger exited Sanders’ blue-colored Mercury Grand Marquis, Sanders drove erratically through the complex and then drove eastbound on West Gulf Bank Road.  A witness reported Sanders ran the red light at the Antoine intersection and was struck by a gold-colored Chevrolet Malibu traveling northbound at the above address.  The driver of the Malibu died at the scene.  Sanders was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries.

Sanders, also known as Lohortense Howard, was subsequently arrested and charged in the crash.
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There’s Light at the End of This Tunnel

Jan 14, 2021

Happy New Year Harris County! I know you all are just as happy as I am to say goodbye to 2020. We’ve faced so many dire challenges over the last year — unemployment, financial devastation, social isolation, illness, and death. We’ve sacrificed so much to stay apart and keep our community safe. And I’m sorry to say that, though it’s a new year, we are not where we need to be to end this pandemic. The number of people in our hospital system for COVID-19 continues to rise, again threatening the ability of our healthcare system to keep up and adding even more strain to our frontline healthcare workers. And we have yet to face the impact of all the gatherings that took place over the holidays. I go into further detail on our current situation and the ensuing state restrictions in a video here
But we do have reasons to look forward to the new year. The incredible development of a COVID-19 vaccine is a testament to the power of modern medicine, science, and the tireless efforts of researchers and institutions — many from right here in Harris County. We have been working for months to plan for the arrival and distribution of vaccines, and our Public Health Department has been working diligently to prepare and ensure local clinics are registered and ready. We are currently in phase 1A and 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, which means we are vaccinating frontline healthcare workers, residents of long-term healthcare facilities, essential workers, residents over 65, and those with chronic health conditions. 
So far, Harris County’s role in vaccine distribution is limited. We were given a very small number of vaccines (around 8,000 so far, in a county of 5 million residents) to distribute to qualifying individuals who might have problems receiving them elsewhere, such as teachers, funerary directors, and home healthcare providers. Given the very small numbers, we are not currently in a position where we can reasonably offer vaccines publicly. The County as a whole at last has received just over 200,000 vaccines for individuals in phase 1A and 1B, the bulk of which are being distributed by non-governmental providers like pharmacies and hospitals, but the number of qualifying individuals in Harris County is many times that number. We are advocating for more vaccines for Harris County Public Health to distribute and, more importantly, for our community. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available. In the meantime, we will continue distributing vaccines efficiently, fighting to address disparities, and advocating for our community. For the most current information on vaccination supply and distribution from the state, please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 Vaccination webpage here.
So many people are hurting right now – grieving the loss of loved ones, struggling to pay their bills, or both – and I have to ask you to endure this pandemic and its accompanying restrictions a little longer. We’re in a very precarious situation. Unless we see any major changes happen fast, things are likely to get much worse before they get better, even with a vaccine. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a very long way to go. Please, keep social distancing and wearing a mask when you are in public. Get vaccinated if you are eligible. Let’s get to that finish line having saved as many lives as possible.

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Jan 14, 2021




Las Vegas – UFC® kicks off its third run on UFC FIGHT ISLAND with two pivotal main event clashes guaranteed to deliver action. First, two of the best featherweights on the planet face off, as former champion and No. 1 ranked contender Max Holloway looks to earn another shot at the title by taking out No. 6 Calvin Kattar. Next, top welterweight contenders collide looking to break into the top 5 as No. 8 ranked Michael Chiesa meets No. 9 Neil Magny.    

UFC® FIGHT NIGHT on ESPN+: HOLLOWAY vs. KATTAR will take place Saturday, January 16 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. For the first time ever, the main card will be televised live on ABC and simulcast on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes (Spanish), beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. The prelims will kick things off at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, exclusively on ESPN+.

Holloway (21-6, fighting out of Waianae, Hawaii) intends to start the New Year by delivering another vintage performance and returning to the winner’s circle. Arguably the greatest featherweight in UFC history, he owns the division’s records for most stoppage victories, most wins and the longest win streak. During his reign as champion, Holloway defeated Jose Aldo, Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar in dominant fashion. He now aims to cement himself as the clear No. 1 contender by becoming the first person to stop Kattar in the UFC.

Fan favorite Kattar (22-4, fighting out of Methuen, Mass.) looks to step up and impress in the biggest fight of his career and inject himself into the title conversation. An exciting and dangerous striker, Kattar rose through the featherweight ranks with memorable knockouts over Shane Burgos, Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens. He now looks to stay undefeated on UFC FIGHT ISLAND and prove that he is one of the best in the world against his first former champion.

Additional bouts on the card include:

  • Welterweight veterans finally meet as former interim champion Carlos Condit (31-13, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) faces off with Matt Brown (24-17, fighting out of Denver, Colo.)
  • Welterweight standout Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-3, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) returns to action for the first time in over two years when he takes on the durable Li Jingliang (17-6, fighting out of Beijing, China)
  • 2020 breakout star Joaquin Buckley (12-3, fighting out of St. Louis, Mo.) intends to keep his momentum going when he battles Alessio Di Chirico (12-5, fighting out of Rome, Italy) at middleweight
  • Undefeated Dana White’s Contender Seriesveterans lock horns as Punahele Soriano (6-0, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) faces Dusko Todorovic (10-0, fighting out of Belgrade, Serbia) in a middleweight contest
  • Rising women’s bantamweight prospect Wu Yanan (10-3, fighting out of Xi’an, China) looks to deliver her most impressive performance yet against newcomer Joselyne Edwards (9-2, fighting out of Panama City, Panama)
  • Dana White’s Contender Series standout Phil Hawes (9-2, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.) seeks to hand Nassourdine Imavov (9-2, fighting out of Paris, France) his first UFC loss
  • No. 13 ranked middleweight Omari Akhmedov (20-5-1, fighting out of Makhachkala, Russia) plans to defend his place in the rankings when he battles Tom Breese (12-2, fighting out of Birmingham, England)
  • Heavyweights Carlos Felipe (9-1, fighting out of Feira de Santana, Bahia, Brazil) and Justin Tafa (4-1, fighting out of Brisbane, Australia) intend to steal the show
  • Featherweight grapplers go to war as Nik Lentz (30-11-2, 1 NC, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla.) and Mike Grundy (12-2, fighting out of Wigan, Greater Manchester, England) look to bounce back into the win column
  • Jacob Kilburn (8-3, fighting out of Woodlawn, Tenn.) and Austin Lingo (7-1, fighting out of Mesquite, Texas) battle to secure their first UFC wins in a featherweight bout
  • Women’s bantamweight veteran Sarah Moras (6-7, fighting out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) intends to stop Vanessa Melo (10-8, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) from achieving her first UFC victory
  • David Zawada (17-5, fighting out of Düsseldorf, Germany) and Ramazan Emeev (19-4, fighting out of Makhachkala, Russia) clash in an exciting welterweight bout

UFC® FIGHT NIGHT on ESPN+: CHIESA vs. MAGNY will take place Wednesday, January 20 on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. All bouts will air live on ESPN, ESPN Desportes and ESPN+ in the U.S. with the main card beginning at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT and the prelims starting at 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT.

Chiesa (17-4, fighting out of Spokane Valley, Wash.) has his sights set on continuing his ascent up the welterweight ranks by taking out one of the division’s toughest competitors. The winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 15, Chiesa established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world with victories over Beneil Dariush and Jim Miller before moving up to welterweight in 2018. Since the move, Chiesa has gone undefeated with wins over Rafael Dos Anjos, Diego Sanchez and Carlos Condit. He now looks to make it four in a row and stake his claim for a spot in the top 5. 

A member of the UFC roster since 2013, Magny (24-8, fighting out of Denver, Colo.) has faced the who’s who of the welterweight division. Among the most active athletes on the roster with a record-tying five wins in a calendar year in 2014, Magny’s resume includes victories over former UFC champions Robbie Lawler, Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit. He now seeks to begin the New Year with a major win and work his way towards his first UFC title shot.

Additional bouts on the card include:

  • The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves (13-4, fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) matches up with Mounir Lazzez (10-1, fighting out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Featherweight standout Lerone Murphy (9-0-1, fighting out of Manchester, England) plans to stay undefeated when he takes on durable veteran Douglas Silva (26-3, 1 NC, fighting out of Castanhal, Para, Brazil)
  • Ike Villanueva (16-11, fighting out of Katy, Texas) faces Dana White’s Contender Series: Brazil veteran Vinicius Moreira (9-4, fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) at light heavyweight
  • In a middleweight bout guaranteed to deliver action, Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2, fighting out of Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa) takes on submission artist Markus Perez (12-4, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • No. 8 ranked women’s flyweight contender Roxanne Modafferi (25-18, fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev.) meets No. 9 Viviane Araujo (9-2, fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) in a battle to break into the top 5
  • In a contest of flyweight prospects, Su Mudaerji (13-4, fighting out of Chengdu, Sichuan, China) aims to stop Zarrukh Adashev (3-2, fighting out of New York, N.Y. by way of Samarkand, Uzbekistan) from earning his first UFC win
  • Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1, fighting out of Belem, Para, Brazil), brother of UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, intends to make a statement in his debut against Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Jerome Rivera (10-3, fighting out of Santa Fe, N.M.) at flyweight
  • Lightweight Mike Davis (8-2, fighting out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) looks to spoil the highly anticipated debut of Mason Jones (10-0, fighting out of Blaenavon, Wales)
  • In an exciting matchup of top 15 flyweights, No. 9 ranked Matt Schnell (14-5, fighting out of Shreveport, La.) meets No. 13 Tyson Nam (20-11-1, fighting out of Wahiawa, Hawaii)
  • Dana White’s Contender Series signee Victoria Leonardo (8-2, fighting out of Shreveport, La.) and Manon Fiorot (5-1, fighting out of Nice, France) battle at flyweight

Visit the UFC.com for information and content to support your UFC coverage.

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Jan 14, 2021


UFC Provides $1 Million Contribution to Fund Research for the Next Five Years

Study Examines Effect of Head Impacts on Long-term Brain Health

Media kit available here

Las Vegas  UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, today announced a five-year extension of its longstanding collaboration with Cleveland Clinic and its continued support of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study.

This multi-year commitment, which is supported by a $1 million contribution to the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, ensures that research will continue to help determine the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma and factors that put certain individuals at higher risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Since joining the landmark study in 2011, UFC has committed more than $2 million via three rounds of financial support.

Now entering its 10th year, this study – led by Cleveland Clinic’s Charles Bernick, M.D., and Aaron Ritter, M.D. – is the largest of professional athletes exposed to repetitive head trauma and the first to include retired and active male and female fighters concurrently.

“UFC is proud to continue its support of both Cleveland Clinic and the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study,” UFC Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “UFC has supported this study since its inception, and we take pride in standing at the forefront of helping set new standards for athlete health and safety in all sports. Dr. Bernick and Dr. Ritter are doing an amazing job, and we look forward to helping them advance their research.”

The Professional Athletes Brain Health Study (formerly the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study) was established in 2011 to examine the cumulative effects of repetitive concussive and sub-concussive impacts to the brain in a group of professional fighters. The study has since expanded to include athletes in other sports exposed to repetitive head impacts (RHI), including professional bull riders. Information from this project will help guide new policies and practices that can improve brain health in sports and others exposed to RHI in military or civilian populations. 

“The support provided by UFC has been fundamental to the success of the study, allowing us to reach this 10-year milestone in our research,” said Dr. Bernick, founder and primary investigator of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study. “Not only has their financial commitment helped to sustain the infrastructure needed for this ongoing project, the encouragement they have given fighters to participate and the expertise they have offered in regards to mixed martial arts has been invaluable.”

UFC’s commitment to aid in the funding of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is provided in conjunction with other organizations in the combat sports industry and facilitates ongoing progress in answering critical questions regarding the long-term effects of exposure to RHI that affect both athletes competing in sports and active-duty military personnel.

To date, the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study has enrolled more than 800 active and retired athletes. Participation is voluntary. Athletes in the study receive free, ongoing assessments of brain health and function, including MRI scans. Individual tests are repeated annually for a minimum of four years.

The longer an athlete is assessed, the more valuable information will be amassed. However, during the past 10 years, researchers have detected subtle effects of RHI on brain structure and proteins released in the blood following impact. These changes can be measured over time and may be early indicators of brain injury, bringing researchers one step closer to helping athletes proactively make informed decisions about their careers based on personal brain health data. Additionally, as CTE researchers nationwide prepare to begin clinical trials, the Repetitive Head Impact Composite Score developed from data in the study will be critical in determining the effectiveness of new therapies.

As the study embarks on the next decade of research, investigators will focus on social determinants to better understand how one’s environment impacts the onset of CTE pathology, as well as the role of neuroinflammation within the brain in the immediate aftermath of head trauma.

“Exposure to repetitive head trauma puts a person at risk for the development of cognitive changes that may occur years after an athlete has retired,” said Dr. Ritter, co-primary investigator of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study. “The science coming out of the Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is clearly showing us that not all individuals experience cognitive changes and each individual may be affected in different ways.

“Our study is unique because we are attempting to look at all of these factors — whether they are genetic, inflammatory, based on the number of fights, time between fights, etc.— simultaneously to determine which are most important in keeping an athlete’s brain healthy. The key for the next 10 years is to discover which factors are most crucial in each individual. The Professional Athletes Brain Health Study is the largest and longest-lasting study to look at this issue. Without the support of the UFC, a study like this would never happen.”

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