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Posts published in “Day: September 11, 2007”

North Houston Heights hears progress on water, sewers

Residents of North Houston Heights recently gathered for a community meeting to receive an update on the water and sewer system that will be constructed for their benefit. The project to bring an older neighborhood in unincorporated Harris County a public utility system is the only project of this type in the state of Texas.
“It has taken extraordinary cooperation between Harris County, the East Aldine Management District and the state to undertake this project,” State Rep. Kevin Bailey told the residents. “After the East Aldine Management District was created by legislation I filed in 2001, I went to the Texas Water Development Board and requested a planning grant for the area. It was the very first step in developing a long-range plan to provide water and sewer service in our older neighborhoods.”
The study that was completed in 2004 verified that many neighborhoods lack water and sewer service and have a high rate of septic failure, which leads to contamination of the water in shallow wells. The documentation provided information that is need for grants to pay for the cost of the construction project. When the system is complete residents will pay a water and sewer bill, which covers the cost of the systems maintenance and operation.

Bailey explained that once funding for a study was secured he visited with Harris County Commissioners to explain his long-term goals of providing a public utility in older, low income neighborhoods. “The county is not going to go into the water business, but they have been extremely cooperative and have worked diligently to find a way to achieve the goal of providing water and sewer in our neighborhoods that need service,” said Rep. Bailey
The residents learned that Harris County applied for and received a $395,000 grant to pay an engineering company to design the water and sewer system.
The original plan was changed after groundwater contamination was found on the east side of the Eastex Freeway at the site of the old Aspen manufacturing Company.
The plans had to be changed to get the water from somewhere else. Since Sunbelt Fresh Water Supply District is so close to North Houston Heights, they were asked if they could provide water. They agreed to provide water and sewer treatment, if Harris County and the East Aldine Management District would pay to expand their system so they could supply water and sewer service to the neighborhood.
The expansion to the systems cost $976,000 and is currently in progress.
Construction materials for the next final phase of the project have already been purchased and are in storage but funding for the final phase of construction is still needed.
According to Bailey several changes have been made to state law to enable the project to move forward, the most recent is House Bill 1314 that he wrote that took effect Sept. 1.
The legislation protects projects to install water and sewer infrastructure in unincorporated communities that are either impacted by severe adverse economic conditions or named “superfund” sites that can have a positive impact on the quality of life of community residents. The change in law will allow the project to proceed without securing certification that typically would cost about $100,000 and take a year to complete.

Chamber hears about business with corporations

The North Houston Greenspoint Chamber had their monthly luncheon last Thursday, and heard from Tiffany Walker, from Reliant Energy’s supplier diversity department.
Attendees at the luncheon learned how to approach a large corporation, and initiate contacts that could lead to supplier business. Walker gave advice on preparing your presentation, and having the correct qualifications and references for the work you are seeking. She said it is important to convince the company of your benefits and uniqeness.
The Chamber has moved their monthly luncheons to the first Thursday of each month. The next Chamber event will be a Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 a.m. at the Aldine AFT location at 350 N. Sam Houston Parkway.

Buffalo Bayou cleanup high priority for Port of Houston and partners

Last week the Port of Houston Authority, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and corporate partner Shell Oil Company launched the Clean & Green Port of Houston program to restore Buffalo Bayou to a cleaner and more beautiful waterway.
The year-round program is an environmental initiative that will use community service workers through the Harris County Supervision & Corrections Department to clean up litter and debris.
Five days a week, a land-based crew will collect litter and debris from the banks of the waterway, while a water-based crew will work from a skimmer boat to clean storm drains, banks and other natural collection areas. The program aims to collect more than 10 cubic yards of debris a day over the next year — enough to fill 83 garbage trucks. The result: a clean and pristine waterway for the community to enjoy.
“As the leading environmental steward of Galveston Bay, the port authority has supported efforts, including the use of the Mighty Tidy boat skimmer, to clean this tide of litter in our bayou system. But it just isn’t enough,” said James T. Edmonds, Chairman, Port of Houston Authority. “Through the initiative of our newest port commissioner, Elyse Lanier, and several partners, including Shell Oil Company as the corporate sponsor, the new Clean & Green Program will tackle this problem head on.”
Sylvia Garcia, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner, said “The preservation and improvement of the environment of Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel is a welcome gift for my district. I look forward to working with the port authority to help make the Clean & Green Port of Houston Green Program a success for all of us.”

“When I saw the trash littering our bayou, I knew that something had to be done. Lady Bird Johnson taught me that beautification is about more than making things pretty — it’s about taking pride in a place and making it special for everyone,” said Lanier, Commissioner, Port of Houston Authority. “Cleaning up the bayou and the ship channel tells people we care about our city. It says that every part of our county matters. I’m so proud of everyone who came together to make this happen, and I believe it will be the beginning of even bigger and better efforts to clean this region.”
The Houston area storm water drainage system carries street water and debris to curb catch basins that route the runoff through an underground system, which directly empties into the city’s bayous. All discarded soda cans, plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and other litter from the streets enter into this drainage system. After a downpour, a tidal wave of trash flows towards the Port of Houston, and ultimately Galveston Bay, causing severe environmental problems. As the water level recedes to normal in the bayou, trash is left in the water, along the bayou’s banks, and hanging from trees and other vegetation. This recurring litter negatively impacts the environment, neighboring communities and the city’s overall image.
Phase one of the Clean & Green program will focus on restoring a seven-mile area along Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Turning Basin, and the Turning Basin through the Houston Ship Channel to the Highway 610 bridge.
“Shell and its employees have a longstanding commitment to the communities where we live and work,” said John Hofmeister, President, Shell Oil Company. “We are pleased to be able to provide the tools necessary to make the Port of Houston Clean & Green program possible, and we look forward to playing an important role in restoring and beautifying the East End district.”
Kim Ogg, partner McFall, Breitbeil & Shults, PC, said, “Public-private partnerships like the Clean & Green Program are a key to improving our city. A critical first step was enlisting the aid of our criminal judges and the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department. They now assign individuals working off their court sentences through community service to serve as the labor force of the program.”
Belinda Hill, Judge, Harris County 230th District Criminal Court, said, “Community service is one of a variety of alternative sentencing techniques that help probationers give back to the community. Providing services that benefit society is a win-win proposition. It’s good for the offenders, the victims and the community.”
Mike Garver, Board Chair, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, said, “The Buffalo Bayou Partnership has been keenly aware that the Mighty Tidy skimmer boat has challenges with keeping up with all the floating trash that flows through the bayous and the port on its way to Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Through the years, we have made great progress in making Buffalo Bayou a cleaner, healthier, more natural corridor. The new Clean and Green program brings us that much closer to achieving this goal.”
Sonny Flores, Board Chair, Greater East End Management District, said, “We have worked with Harris County Precinct 6 for a number of years on security issues. By maintaining the contract for the deputy constable from Precinct 6 and overseeing that relationship, we can best assist the effort in a productive way. The East End is the historic home of the Port of Houston. Together, we can make the future cleaner and greener.”

Aldine’s Jones to coach Army All American team

Aldine Senior High School head football coach Bob Jones has been selected as the head coach of the West squad for the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game will be played on Saturday, Jan. 5 in San Antonio and will feature the top 80 high school football players from across the nation. The game will be televised live on NBC at noon from the Alamodome.
Jones, who served as the offensive line coach for the West squad in the 2007 game, will have a familiar face on his staff as Aldine High defensive coordinator Steve Bruce was named an assistant coach for the West squad.
“I’m honored to be selected to coach in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl,” Jones said. “I fully appreciate and support the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and all that they do for high school football across this country.”
During his 11 years as a head coach, Jones has won five district championships and was a member of the Converse Judson staff, which won the 1995 state championship. He was also a member of the 1996 Judson staff that reached the state finals. In 1985, Jones won a collegiate national title while a member of the North Dakota State University staff.
Jones has had four players compete in past U.S. Army All-American Bowls.
Jones said he was pleased Bruce was selected to the West staff.
“I am happy to have coach Bruce with me at this prestigious game. He brings great defensive strategies and we are excited to work together for yet another big game.”
“Coach Jones and coach Bruce understand the importance of inspiring their players ducer of the game. “The techniques, the messages and the model that they convey, resemble the same character building values that the U.S. Army embodies. We are honored to have them join the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl coaching staff.”
Since its inception, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been a key launching pad for America’s future college and NFL stars. Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Adrian Peterson and Brady Quinn all made their national debuts as U.S. Army All-Americans. Last year, the game set an attendance record as 35,151fans attended the game.
For more information on the game and its related events, visit the game website located at www.usarmyallamericanbowl.com.