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News Shorts: Week of Jan 20, 2022

News Shorts: Week of Jan 20, 2022

Cold weather brings
house fire advisory

Heating equipment is the second leading causes of home fires, according to the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast. Since Jan. 1, Texas Gulf Coast Region workers have responded to more than 70 home fires, assisting more than 285 individuals.

“Colder temperatures often bring the increased risk of home heating fires, and we want everyone to stay safe by properly warming their home,” said Regional Communications Manager Vanessa Valdez.

A 2020 Red Cross survey showed that more than half the population has used a space heater, which is involved in most fatal home heating fires.

For those using the potentially dangerous heating equipment, Red Cross recommends leaving at least three feet of space around all heating equipment, and never leaving space heaters unattended. Additional safety tips for heater use includes placing it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor; plugging space heater power cords directly into outlets instead of an extension cord; and turning off the heater every time you leave the room or go to sleep. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home and never leave a fire burning in the fireplace unattended.

To help protect your family year-round, test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes, which is the estimated amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late, shared Red Cross.

Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including a family escape plan to practice, or download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for “American Red Cross” in app stores.

Census release
tweaked for COVID

“Given the historical circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, combined with the urgent need for workforce data, the U.S. Census Bureau has decided to defer the introduction of updated confidentiality protections and release the January 2022 Current Population Survey (CPS) in February 2022 as originally scheduled,” correspondence from the governmental agency announced Jan. 14.

The new report will retain characteristics of last year’s report that enabled data users to conduct year-over-year time series analysis and other research activities key to understanding the U.S. economy and workforce, specifically the public-use file household identifier. This adjustment reflects a change to the pending annual announcement that indicated there would be a delay while additional protections were applied to the data.

“As it does every year, the Census Bureau will continue to strengthen the methods to protect the confidentiality of data provided by CPS respondents,” the agency correspondence further detailed. “New protections will be introduced in a phased approach beginning later this year that will preserve the CPS time series and better prepare data users for the changes.”

Tax office closed by COVID

Due to “COVID-19-related staffing issues in our three locations,” the Jefferson County Tax Office announced on Jan. 13, one of its branches would be closed – the Port Arthur Tax Office – from Monday, Jan. 17, through Friday, Jan. 21. The Port Arthur office was expected to reopen Monday, Jan. 25, but was announced as opening Jan. 20 on Jan. 19.

“We had to close our smallest office due to the fact I have so many people who are out,” Tax Assessor/Collector Allison Getz said, not that the persons out for COVID come from Port Arthur. “We have nobody in Mid County who is able to be there to be in charge of that office.”

The person in charge in Port Arthur had to go to Mid County, and the Port Arthur office is shuttered until the Mid County office can be run by its own staff.

“It’s not my choice, not what I want,” Getz added, addressing Port Arthur county representative Michael “Shane” Sinegal’s concerns that the Port Arthur tax office branch was viewed as the most expendable of the local taxing branches.

“We have four actual computers in Port Arthur,” 13 in Mid County and a lot more in Beaumont, Getz explained. “We had to shut down something because we don’t have enough people.”

Both the Beaumont and Mid County tax offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Mid County office also offers drive-thru services for automobile renewals, disabled placards and property tax payments.

Human Trafficking
prevention training

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is encouraging health care practitioners and interested members of the public to take its new online human trafficking awareness and prevention training course.

The free online course, “HEART” – which stands for “Hearing, Evaluating, Activating, Resourcing and Training” – teaches how to recognize the signs or red flags of trafficking, support the well-being of at-risk individuals and understand how trauma impacts overall health outcomes.

“We are confident that health care practitioners who complete this new training will be better equipped to identify trafficking, and this will lead to better outcomes for survivors of this devastating crime,” said Michael Roberts, associate commissioner for HHSC Specialty and Family Services.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in January, organizations throughout the nation raise awareness of human trafficking, or the exploitation of people for commercial sex or labor against their will. According to a 2016 study by The University of Texas at Austin, at any given time there are an estimated 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 youth victims of sex trafficking in Texas.

To learn more, visit https://www.hhs.texas.gov/services/safety/texas-human-trafficking-resource-center.

Nursing home association concerned about vaccine mandate

The American Health Care Association (AHCA), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the vaccine mandate for health care workers:

“We respect the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court but remain concerned that the repercussions of the vaccine mandate among health care workers will be devastating to an already decimated long-term care workforce,” AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson expressed in the official statement. “When we are in the midst of another COVID surge, caregivers in vaccine-hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation’s seniors. We continue to ask that CMS and state surveyors show leniency during this critical time, as well as consider a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff members to prevent worsening staff shortages.

“Long term care providers have been relentless in encouraging staff to get vaccinated, and we have made considerable progress with 83% of nursing home staff now fully vaccinated. However, rampant misinformation has sowed doubt and concern among many on the frontlines. We must collectively address the root cause of vaccine hesitancy rather than penalize providers who are making valiant efforts.”

Taxes due

Allison Nathan Getz, Jefferson County Tax Assessor-Collector, reminded citizens of Jefferson County this week that 2021 property tax payments must be paid by Monday, Jan. 31, to avoid penalty and interest charges.

Property tax payments may be made in person at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 1149 Pearl in Beaumont; Jefferson County Sub-Courthouse, 525 Lakeshore Drive in Port Arthur; or Mid County Tax Office, 4605 Jerry Ware Drive in Beaumont near the airport. All three locations are open 8 a.m. – 4:30 pm.

Payments by mail may be sent to Jefferson County Tax Office, P. O. Box 2112, Beaumont, TX 77704, but must be postmarked by Jan. 31 to avoid penalty.

“Jefferson County has an excellent payment rate,” Allison said. “We typically collect over 98% of the total tax roll on a current basis. We appreciate the effort our community makes.

“We hope this reminder will help people remember to not overlook taking care of a payment they fully intended to make. Please call our office if you are having difficulty meeting your tax obligation. There are special provisions for payment for citizens with age homestead or disability exemptions. The Tax Office deputies will be more than happy to give information on options that are available under the State Property Tax Code.”

Taxes may be paid in cash, check, or credit/debit card in person. Telephone payments may be made by calling (866) 549-1010 and using Bureau Code 2228888. Also, credit card payments or e-check payments may be made online at www.certifiedpayments.net (Bureau Code: 2228888).

For further inquiries, call the County Tax Office at (409) 835-8516.

 

— to www.theexaminer.com

The post News Shorts: Week of Jan 20, 2022 appeared first on Correct Success.


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