Monday February 19th, 2007

JetBlue hopes to resume normal service Tuesday...Just one of 14 hurt in Valero fire remain hospitalized...Purchasing managers indicate continued expanding health in Houston's economy...

At the JetBlue terminal in New York's Kennedy Airport, things were relatively calm today--certainly compared to what it was like last week. But it's still far from smooth sailing for the once-popular airline. Almost a quarter of its flights were canceled today--five days after the Valentine's Day storm that caused a meltdown. Travelers were left stranded on planes--some for more than ten hours. They could see the terminal, but weren't allowed out. All flights on JetBlue were cancelled in and out of 11 airports, including Houston and Austin. And while JetBlue hopes to get back to normal tomorrow, the anger among customers lingers. One woman hoping to leave New York for Florida today says she tried to call to confirm yesterday, but got a recording saying the system was overloaded. Five hours after she was finally able to leave a message, a JetBlue rep called back. JetBlue's CEO tells today's New York Times he's "humiliated and mortified'' by what's happening. So are many customers, who now say they'll never again fly the airline, which had developed a reputation for good service and low fares.

The Criminal Collections Unit of Harris County District Clerk Charles Bacarisse has surpassed the $60 million mark in fines and fees collected from persons convicted of misdemeanors in the County Criminal Courts at Law. He says the collections reduce the burden on taxpayers since the money goes into Harris County's general fund. The collections rate is at almost 90 percent.

Just one person who suffered burns in a fire at a Valero energy refinery in Sunray, Texas, remains hospitalized today. Authorities say a Valero contractor is in critical but stable condition at the University Medical Center's burn unit in Lubbock. Two Valero employees who had been in the burn unit were released from the hospital today. They were among 14 hospitalized after Friday's blaze at the Valero McKee refinery in the panhandle. The company has adjusted its earlier report that 19 people were hospitalized. Medical problems included smoke inhalation, chest pain, asthma and high blood pressure. San Antonio-based Valero operates 17 refineries. Sunray is about 60 miles north of Amarillo.

January figures from the National Association of Purchasing Management indicate continued expanding health in Houston's economy. The Purchasing Managers Index was 59.8, which reverses the recent drop of the last two months. The report attributes increases in sales and employment. The PMI is based on a monthly survey of purchasing executives in oil and gas exploration and production, manufacturing, engineering and construction, chemicals, distribution, business and financial services and healthcare.

Ashmore Energy International and Promigas of Colombia are buying the shares of Calidda from Brussels-based Suez International Energy, according to the Houston Business Journal. Calidda owns a natural gas distribution concession in Peru. This makes the 13th Houston-based energy firm with a presence in Latin America's emerging energy market.

St. Joseph Medical Center is opening a new downtown Advanced Wound Care Center on St. Joseph Parkway. The center will have dermatologists, podiatrists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists and surgeons dealing with slow- or non-healing wounds. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers will be utilized.

First Industrial Realty Trust has acquired an 88-acre site near the Port of Houston for the $55 million development of two bulk distribution facilities in the InterPort Business Park. The business park will be between the Barbour's Cut Container Terminal and the new Bayport Container Terminal, off Highway 146. The Bayport terminal opened earlier this month.

Tags: News


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