70th Annual Rice Festival gets under way Thursday

   “This is our 70th Annual Rice Festival,” said Bay City Lions Club President Jim Humphries.
   “The only exceptions are that we didn’t have one during Hurricane Carla or World War II.”
   With every Rice Festival there’s vendor booths, carnival rides and games along with memories to be made.
   Starting Thursday, Oct. 14, the Rice Festival carnival is officially open from 4 – 11 p.m. with admission fees costing $5.
   Armbands for unlimited carnival rides cost $15.
   It’s also “HEB Night,” where three cans of HEB brand food will get you free admission.
   Another night of carnival fun Friday helps lead up to the 20th Annual Bay City Bull Blast on Saturday as well as the carnival opening at 4 p.m. and closing at midnight.
   After the Bull Blast there’s a band and dance. Cody Wayne and Westbound 21 will perform live during the dance.   


Wellness Matagorda Fall Turkey Trot Fun Run Saturday

   Wellness Matagorda County, Inc. will host its Fall Turkey Trot Fun Run and Walk on Saturday, Oct. 17.
   The walk begins at 7:30 a.m. and the run begins 8:00 a.m. at the Southeast corner of the courthouse.
   The Fun Run will include 5K and a 10K options, and walkers are welcome and encouraged.
   There also will be a warm-up session with Abby McConaha at 7:15 a.m.   
   Advance registration is $20, registration on the day of the event is $25, and you can bring a friend for only $10.
   Students with a valid school ID only pay $10 and can bring a friend for $5.
   Each entry fee includes a T-shirt and water for every participant.
   Participants under 18 are required to have parent or guardian permission first.
   Wellness Matagorda County will donate all proceeds to the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative, a planned 600-bed facility providing protection for first responders during major storms.


City lifts forbidden types of signs

Animations and other moving images are now legal on commercial signs in Bay City. 
   In a unanimous vote Thursday, city council changed its sign ordinance as requested by councilman Steven Johnson. 
   The ordinance no longer prohibits electronic signs with moving characters and images – such as have been common for years in front of many area schools, banks, churches, government offices and businesses. 
   Councilman William Cornman was the only member absent for the vote.
   “Our code enforcement people were having a lot of trouble with this issue, and they came to me about it,” Johnson said. 
   “People were getting upset because they were installing these signs and didn’t know there was an ordinance against them.” 
   The prohibition against animated signs had been in place for at least three years, Johnson said, and several local establishments had taken advantage of a grandfather clause to keep their signs running. 


Sales tax rebates reflect growth

   Bay City sales tax rebates for October show continued retail growth, with the year-to-date totals nearly 15 percent higher than the same period last year. 
   The October check for Bay City was $435,887, an 11 percent increase from $391,263 the city received for the same month in 2014. 
   For the year, the sales tax allocations from the State Comptroller’s Office total $4.5 million, up 14.8 percent from the year-to-date payments last year of $3.9 million.  
   In Palacios, the October rebates to the city totaled $50,602, a 1.3 percent increase from last October’s check of $49,952. 
   For the year, Palacios’ allocations total $504,225, a 9 percent drop from the same period in 2014 that tallied $556,522.  
   These allocations are based on monthly sales made in August by businesses that report tax monthly.  


Annual Halloween costume contest for dog this Saturday

   The 10th Annual Halloween Costume Contest for Dogs begins at noon on Saturday, Oct. 17 on the east side of the Matagorda County Courthouse.
   A 50/50 raffle starts at 11 a.m.
   There are four categories for entry: best dog costume, best owner & pet costume, smallest dog and largest dog.
   Entry into each category costs $10 and each dog will get a treat bag upon entry in to the contest.
   All dogs must be kept on a leash, up to date on rabies vaccinations and no aggressive dogs are allowed.
   Applications can be picked up at Tractor Supply, Bay City Feed Store, Bad to the Bone or at the event.
   Prizes will be awarded to the first through third place winners in each category.
   Some of those prizes include a free grooming session at Bad to the Bone or a free spay or neuter for one dog or cat of the winning household.


Council, BCCDC green light movie complex

    The proposed cinema/indoor entertainment center at McCrosky Road and Texas 35 was authorized by City Council and the Bay City Community Development Corporation (BCCDC) board in a joint meeting at City Hall Monday night  
   After an hour-long closed meeting, members of both entities approved in open session moving ahead with the BCCDC project that was the subject of a joint executive session last week.  
   Council passed the resolution authorizing the complex on first and second readings Monday night. 
   “As we move forward, we need to put in a management structure to manage this project,” said Bill Cornman, a city council and BCCDC board member. 
   “This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done – the most complicated,” Cornman said. 
   Both council and BCCDC members praised BCCDC Executive Director D.C. Dunham for her three years of work on bringing the 47,000-square-foot Schulman entertainment center here. 


LyondellBasell, Matagorda keep tradition going

Sentinel photo/Mike Reddell
LyondellBasell employees and Matagorda community volunteers pose for a group photo Saturday, Oct. 3, as they gathered to work on the school and community playground on the MISD campus.

   LyondellBasell continued its tradition of helping Matagorda schools by tackling five-playground areas as part of Global Care Day Saturday, Oct. 3. 
    “Lyondell has changed a school park into a community park,” Matagorda ISD Superintendent Laura Shay, as she watched LyondellBasell employees and community volunteers working on several different projects. 
   “It’s very much a family-type deal with Matagorda schools,” said Craig Najvar, the chemical company’s reliability engineer and the coordinator for Saturday’s work at the school. 
   “It’s a little bit more than I thought it would be,” Najvar said.  
   As he and others from LyondellBasell had a preliminary look at the playground, “We started seeing rusty stuff” on the Playscape.

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Thames calls new pollution rules ‘too close for comfort’

   A group of local industry leaders is confident Matagorda County will meet the federal government’s new, lower air-pollution standards in 2016. 
   But barely. 
   “It’s too close for comfort,” said Mitch Thames, president of Bay City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. 
   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Oct. 1 it has settled on 70 parts per billion as the new acceptable level of ozone emissions for counties.  
   Federal law requires the agency to update the level every five years, and it was last set at 75 ppb in 2011. 
   The Matagorda Air Quality Team measures the county’s current ozone level at 68 ppb. 
   The team, comprised of Thames, County Judge Nate McDonald and air-quality experts from five local energy companies (LyondellBasell, Oxea, Celanese, South Texas Project, Phillips 66 and Conoco) have been working for more than four years against the EPA’s promise to reduce the country’s legal emission levels.  


Crisis Center gets $502,217 grant for victim services

   The Matagorda County Women’s Crisis Center received a larger-than-usual $502,217 grant for victims of family violence, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office announced Sunday, Oct. 4. 
   “It helps to pay direct services for victims of family violence and sexual assault across both our counties (Matagorda and Wharton),” said Crisis Center Executive Director Eugene Davis. 
   Those services include advocates, counselor and shelter personnel,” Davis added. 
   “It is a very specific grant that won’t pay for indirect costs.”  
   The federal Victims of Crime Act funds are administered through the governor’s Criminal Justice Department (CJD). 
   While the center has received these funds for about 30 years, “Historically it has been a smaller grant, however, this year the funds out of Washington grew about 300 percent. 


NRC completes safety report for STP 3,4 licenses

   The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission completed its Final Safety Report for the combined licenses for the South Texas Projects Units 3 and 4 and there were no safety impediments that would preclude issuing licenses for construction and operation of the two proposed reactors.  
   The Bay City power plant operated by STP Nuclear Operating Co., includes two Westinghouse Four-Loop pressurized water.  
   South Texas Project Unit 1 began commercial operations in 1988 and has a license that expires Aug. 20, 2027. South Texas Project Unit 2 began commercial operations a year after Unit 1 and has a license that expires Dec. 15, 2028. 
   STP Nuclear has submitted applications for two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) at the site Nuclear Innovation North American became the lead applicant in January 2011.  
   The 1,300-megawatt ABWR design was first approved in 1997. 


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