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Northeast News

Judge Emmett delivers “State of the County” report

HARRIS COUNTY JUDGE ED EMMETT delivered a State of the County report last week to a well attended luncheon at NRG Center.

Keynotes Progress, Optimism after Hurricane & Floods

Emmett says Partnerships Forged in Disasters Result In Greater Public Trust, More Efficient Responses To Challenges

HARRIS COUNTY – Harris County Judge Ed Emmett presented his 11th annual State of the County Address last Thursday, at a luncheon at NRG Center, on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Ike’s devastating arrival, noting that county residents have emerged from recent natural disasters better prepared, better educated and more determined to take the steps needed to combat such challenges in the future.

Emmett focused on partnerships and sounded an optimistic tone, addressing a sold-out event of more than 1,000 attendees at the annual speech at the county-owned NRG Center. The event is sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership.

He noted that a recent series of nearly two dozen “community engagement meetings” focusing on the county’s recent $2.5 billion flood bond issue resulted not only in an overwhelming margin of victory, but further strengthened the ties between Harris County residents and their employees and officials.

“It was an amazing sight to behold,” Emmett said. “At every meeting, county residents of all types met face-to-face with county employees, many of whom spend most of their time behind desks. Suddenly, a human element came into focus instead of abstract numbers and plans. County employees were energized, and the public believed and trusted them. On Aug. 25th, the one-year anniversary of Harvey, Harris County voters approved the flood mitigation bond with 86% voting yes. On that day, Harris County became truly Harris County Strong.”

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HURRICANE SEASON: Harris County residents urged to monitor weather

Harris County residents are urged to monitor the weather forecast and use extreme caution if venturing out into rainy conditions according to the current forecast. Portions of Harris County could receive up to four inches of additional rain especially south of I-10 as a weather system moves into the Gulf of Mexico and has the potential to impact the Texas coast with showers and thunderstorms.

As of now, bayous, creeks and tributaries are expected to remain within banks, but roadways and streets may become impassable. Commuters are urged to avoid high water and flooded streets throughout the county and to proceed with caution when driving on area roadways – Turn Around Don’t Drown!

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Congressman Gene Green tours immigrant children’s shelter

This building at 15101 I-10 East Frontage Road, now houses about 200 immigrant children most of whom crossed into the U.S. without their parents. The building was formerly the Kindred Hospital, and before that the East Department of the East Houston Hospital. It has been run by Southwest Key Programs as a shelter for undocumented children for several years. Last week Congressman Gene Green toured the facility, to learn how the children are being cared for, and how federal dollars are being spent.

HOUSTON – Sitting anonymously along the feeder road at I-10 near Beltway 8, a three story building that was once a hospital now houses over 200 children that are unaccompanied immigrants. In most cases, these young people were apprehended at the Mexican border, and detained by U.S. authorities until their disposition. This could be sending them back to their own country, or finding adult sponsors in the U.S.

On Monday, August 20, Congressman Gene Green, accompanied by State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Ana Hernandez, made an inspection tour of the facility. Green told this newspaper that he had a difficult time getting access, even though the federal government is paying for the program that supervises the children. In an earlier foray, Garcia and Hernandez had been refused admission, and blocked by armed guards from entry, as reported in this newspaper. Green said that the Southwest Key Program group, that runs the shelter, required two weeks notice and vetted those who wanted to go on the tour.

All three legislators wanted to see the facility and talked with the children, because the building is in their district, and they are ultimately responsible for its financing.

Green explained to this newspaper that the program is administered by the U. S. HHS, or Housing and Human Services administration, and South west Key and other groups contract with the government to care for the children until their situation can be resolved.

Green said that presently there are 206 children in the facility, boys and girls ages 12 to 16. He said they live in dormitories, one gender per floor, and occupy their time with classroom work, recreation, and relaxation. Green said that he did not observe any conditions that alarmed him, and the children seemed well taken care of. In addition to recreation on the property, the kids are also taken to a nearby county park named Gene Green Park. This was dedicated in that name by the County Commissioner at that time, Sylvia Garcia. They also have a soccer field, and basketball court on the property, he said. Green said that most of the children he spoke with said they came from Central American countries, namely Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Only a few were from Mexico or other countries.

Asked what he would change or improve, Green indicated the facility was acceptable as is, but the real problem was federal policy that was separating children from their parents at the border, or like these children at the North Shore shelter, incarcerating them until their cases can be heard by a federal agency in charge of their future.

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Green Forest Civic Club hears from candidates

Phillip Aronoff (standing to the left) running for the United States Congress in the 29th District of Texas talks to area residents at last week’s Green Forest Civic Club meeting. Aronoff is on the Republican ticket, Sylvia Garcia is on the Democratic ticket for this position, held currently by Gene Green. (Photo submitted by Marina Sugg)

HOUSTON, TX – On its last monthly meeting, Green Forest Civic Club (GFCC) received candidates Carol Alvarado who is running for Texas State Senate District 6 and Phillip Aronoff, running for the United States Congress in the 29th District of Texas. These seats are now occupied by Sen. Sylvia Garcia and Congressman Gene Green respectively and their terms will end the last day of the year.

The residents gathered at the meeting to have their questions and concerns answered in lively discussions with both candidates.

Ms. Alvarado shared many of her past accomplishments as a city council member and state representative, and that if elected state senator she would advocate an agenda that would benefit all members of our community.

Mr. Aronoff said he had a lot of experience in business and politics, welcomed and approved of new immigrants to the U.S., and that if he got elected he would fight to empower the people.

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Walle at Cheyenne Center

A COMMUNITY PLANNING MEETING took place last week, at the Cheyenne Center on E. Crosstimbers and Jensen Streets. Present were these members of the community.

State Representative Armando Walle, center, said that “it was not a coincidence I met Pastor David L. Smith of New Bethlehem BC, and Father Miguel Solorzano of Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Our office, along with Congressman Gene Green and Pastor Smith, initiated an inaugural faith leaders lunch to better coordinate community efforts along Eastex-Jensen. We are building bridges and ready to work. Momentum is building to revitalize the area. We have done clean-ups, annual parade, disaster relief, and look forward to bike-rides, providing affordable housing, social services and many other outreach efforts. If you want to attend the next meeting, contact my office. Thank you Pastor Smith for helping lead our group.”

Flood Bond statement from Commissioner Rodney Ellis

Commissioner Rodney Ellis Responds to Historic Flood Bond Election and Renews Commitment to Equity and Transparency for Funding Flood Control Projects

By passing Prop A, those who voted made it clear that we must effectively address flood control— one of the greatest challenges we face. We owe it to everyone to ensure that urgently needed flood control projects are funded equitably and transparently so that every community is protected from future floods.

We still have a lot of work to do to educate and engage the public so that they can better understand where and how these dollars will be spent on flood control, especially in hard-hit and vulnerable neighborhoods that have long been neglected and underfunded.

Throughout this process, I have made it clear that equity, transparency and resiliency must be at the center of the decision-making process for funding flood control projects. Voters have my commitment that I will continue to advocate for transparency and equitable funding for flood mitigation to foster resiliency and protect all neighborhoods.

Aldine ISD football teams play their first games this week

MacArthur RB#2 breaks open in the game against the Klein Forest Golden Eagles.

High School varsity football started the season last weekend, with all the Aldine teams playing against relatively week teams, but losing anyway.

In an optimistic note, the football writer for the Northeast News, Mike Keeney, had picked all the Aldine teams to win. Perhaps he meant next week?

On Thursday night, MacArthur played Klein Forest, and lost 45-58.

On Friday, the Davis Falcons suffered the worst loss, against the Woodlands College Park team, 0-31. The same evening, the Nimitz Cougars lost to powerhouse Channelview Falcons, 25-35.

Saturday games included Eisenhower Eagles 21, Fort Bend Marshall Buffs 28. The Aldine Mustangs lost to the Cypress Falls Eagles, 20-42.

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New Leo Daniels tower to lead in Jensen Revitalization efforts

Architect’s rendering shows a 6 story building, to be built on one of two possible sites on Jensen. The building will have 100 apartments, of which 25 will be set aside for Veterans.

NORTH HOUSTON – A meeting was held last Monday at the Greater Jerusalem Church on Jensen Drive, for the purpose of discussing plans to build a new housing structure as part of a plan to revitalize the decrepit business district of Jensen Drive.

The meeting was billed as a Community Development Partnership Meeting, and included government officials, local pastors, local business and community persons, and real estate developers.

As explained by Chris Akbari of ITEX Group, a development company, in conjunction with the J. Allen Management company, a new Leo Daniels residential building would be built, and the current tower would be renovated.

Akbari told the group that there are two possible sites, one on the east side of Jensen across from the church, and the other on Harrell Street to the north of the current building. If the second site is chosen, it would also have the possibility of using the rest of the land for a new grocery store and extensive parking. Akbari explained that negotiations for this Option 2 are underway, but not finalized.

Pastor Russell noted that whichever scheme is chosen, it will require the discussion and approval of the Leo Daniels board.

The new building would be six stories tall, and house 136 apartments. 66 of these would be efficiencies, 58 one bedroom, and 12 two bedroom.

Akbari said that financing had already been secured, including 4% Housing tax credits, City of Houston HOME funds in the amount of $5 Million dollars, CDBG federal funds through the state including disaster relief after the floods, and a $6.6 Million mortgage. Total project cost is about $26 Million dollars, he said.

After the new Tower 2 is built, residents from the existing tower would be moved to the new building, allowing renovation of that building.

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East Aldine hosts lunch with Superintendent

New Aldine ISD Superintendent LaTonya Goffney appeared at the East Aldine community luncheon last week, along with Richard Cantu and Veronica Sanches.

EAST ALDINE – The District held a welcoming luncheon for the new Aldine ISD school superintendent, Dr. LaTonya Goffney. About 100 persons from the community were present to greet her, and hear her plans for the coming year. Goffney was introduced by East Aldine’s Richard Cantu, a person also interested in education. He is currently the president of the Aldine Education Foundation board, and a candidate for the Harris County school board.

Goffney has been named Texas Superintendent of the Year, and Aldine was pleased to be able to hire her. Previously she had been Superintendent of the Lufkin ISD school district in North Texas.

To explain her commitment to education, Dr. Goffney first told of her childhood upbringing, and the difference that education and a teacher that cared about her made in her life.

She said that although she appeared smart in school, she was the product of a home with a single mother, and actually was raised by her grandmother, who instilled much of the qualities of integrity and hard work that she embodies.

After high school, to get additional education she thought she would have to go into the military, but a teacher that believed in her told her to apply to college, and a federal FAFSA grant to pay for it.

Dr. Goffney saw education as the way her life changed for the better, and believes it can help all students. Her plans for Aldine include changes that she says have already started from the previous administration, and her job is to manage the change.

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Voters Approve Flood Bond

HARRIS COUNTY – Voters overwhelmingly approved a $2.5 Billion dollar bond proposal, that will result in 237 projects to mitigate future flood dangers in the county.

With 98% of the votes counted, District Clerk Stan Stanart reported that the bond issue passed with 85% approval, or about 129,000 votes. Opposing the proposal were 15% of the voters who turned out, about 21,000. Votes were almost evenly split between Absentee, Early, and Election Day votes.

Election Day was August 25th, the one year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Harvey onto the Texas coast.

The bond issue includes 237 projects, $1.2 Billion for channel improvements, $12.5 Million for floodplain mapping, and $1.25 Million for an early warning system.

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Keeney’s Korner: Aldine ISD football starts 2018 season

Mike Keeney

Labor Day weekend full of high school & college matchups

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and the official start of the football season.

This weekend, high school stadiums across the state will be filled with screaming fans as they gather to watch their favorite teams begin their 2018 seasons. That will be the case in Aldine ISD where all five of the district’s varsity programs will begin their seasons with hopes of landing one of the four playoff spots up for grabs in District 16-6A.

AISD has two new head coaches who will be making their debuts this weekend. Eric Jackson is the new head coach at Eisenhower. He served as the team’s defensive coordinator prior to being named head coach last February. Wayne Crawford is the new head coach at MacArthur after serving as the Generals’ offensive coordinator. Crawford was also promoted last February. Both men are excited about their new positions and would like nothing more than to open their respective seasons with a victory.

Labor Day weekend will also be the official kickoff for the 2018 NCAA season (four games were played last weekend), as fans will have plenty of intriguing games to watch in the first full weekend of competition.

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