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Posts published in November 2007

Imperial Valley residents win battle over new subdivision

An overflow crowd of Imperial Valley residents packed a community room in their neighborhood to hear State Representative Kevin Bailey question city officials on their approval of a new subdivision being built on a vacant tract of land in the deed restricted community without any public notice. The tract was previously listed in the deed restriction as an oil company reserve.
Bailey told the crowd, “An hour before this meeting, I was notified that the city attorney has determined that the newly replatted area will have to comply with existing deed restrictions for the neighborhood.” He went on to explain, “City officials said that their decision not to require a legal posting on the property or notices to be mailed to property owners within two hundred feet was based on inaccurate information provided by the developer.”
It was good news for the residents who were very concerned about the developer’s intentions. The plat plan that he filed with the city redefined a single family dwelling to include one that contains two separate living units. The developer, who attended the community meeting, said that although his original plan was to build 30 homes on the 2.7-acre property he understands that he will be limited to building one home per lot. He said he would build 16 single-family homes that will be approximately 1600 to 2000 square feet. The new residential structures will have to comply with the existing deed restrictions for Imperial Valley. Currently the only permit that has been issued for the residential site is to grade the property.

“It is a victory for the neighborhood to have the deed restrictions remain intact,” said Bailey. “ I will be meeting with the board of directors for the Homeowners Association to assist them in the planning process. The City of Houston has approved a design that allows for two private street easements on the property without a plan for the long term maintenance of the streets.” A city official quickly stated that the city would not be responsible for the private streets.
City Council Member Jarvis Johnson attended the meeting and supported the position taken by Bailey and the Homeowners Association.
He said many neighborhoods are facing similar problems and it is time that the city should adopt stricter measures to keep it from happening in the future.
City officials in response to a question about the impact on flooding in the neighborhood said that they had approved a unique design for the replatted area. The storm water drainage system will be designed to hold six inches of water over the entire tract of land. The houses will be constructed at an elevation that will allow the yards to become part of the storm water detention system without flooding the houses. A restricting device will prevent the water from flowing into the storm water system on Cotillion during heavy rain events. Once the subdivision has drained then the water being held back by the restrictor will begin to drain.
Several city officials joined Rep. Kevin Bailey in the meeting with residents including Jarvis Johnson, City Council Member District B; Marlene Gafrick, the Director of Planning for the City of Houston; Jonathan Michaels, Asst. City Attorney and Andrew Icken, the Deputy Director and Public Works.

The right word makes the difference

Are you as tired as I am of listening about all of the sub prime loan problems? Those big banks should have sharpened their pencils instead of rubbing a crystal ball loaded with dollar signs. It keeps on and on and on, enough already.
You know you learn something every day and I learned a new word this morning.
While looking through the big city paper REAL ESTATE section, there was an eight million dollar house for sale over in the big city. The description of this high dollar six holer house besides the 6 bedrooms, wine cellar, carriage house and pool included a loggia.
Never heard of a loggia so GOOGLE was utilized to find out what a loggia is. GOOGLE says it’s “An open-sided, roofed or vaulted gallery”.

By crackie that ain’t nothing more than a porch but reckon that sounds more uppity than the word porch and I’ll bet’cha it doesn’t have a swang.
Maybe we can get a place similar to that when my ship comes in. I know the Mrs. would get mad if I stocked the pool with white perch.
Have been called tight before, but yesterday, my old friend in Wilmington, NC said I was cheap. Inquiring what he meant he went on to say it again “You are cheap”.
Adding, he said rather than go out to eat; you just go to the store and buy it, take it home and fix it. You save a lot of money that way but not like us, we are lazy so we go out to eat.
Never thought being called “cheap” could be meant as compliment.
One of our twins flew into town (from Pennsylvania) over the weekend. He took a test Saturday seeking employment with Exxon but told him not to hold his breath. Of course he likes these fall trips down to Texas so he can load up on canned goods to take back.
Slipped a ringer in on him with all the chowchow he took back. One jar had a T on top indicating Tabasco Peppers and a whole lot of them in the batch. That should help keep him warm when he is out shoveling snow; time will tell.
The twin works for a plant in York, Pennsylvania that makes plastic bottles for large companies. He said the security guard at the plant is from Highlands, Texas so he picked up a copy of the STAR COURIER to take back to the gentleman. Small world, eh?

A hard lesson to learn

By Kristan Hoffman

The other day, a good friend of mine came to me because she was “freaking out.” She had applied for a major international scholarship for graduate school but had not received a callback for the interview process. This was the second year in a row that she had tried; she did not want it to be the second year in a row that she failed.

Unfortunately, I think I provided little if any consolation. The truth, I told her, is that she probably shouldn’t apply to anything if she isn’t prepared to be denied.

My nonchalance doesn’t come from indifference, but from experience. As a sophomore in high school, I tried out for the Honor Corps on my dance squad. I spent hours choreographing and practicing my thirty-second tryout routine, and even though I was terrified to be watched and scrutinized by the judges — not to mention by my whole squad — I really thought I put my whole heart and soul into my performance that day.

But I didn’t make the Honor Corps.

I spent hours crying that night, and I moped for the rest of the week. A friend who did get into the elite group of dancers tried to comfort me, saying that there was always next year. I thought that was easy for her to say. She had tried out on a lark! She hadn’t invested the same amount of time, energy, or hope that I had.

And that was the key. What I learned from her and from those tryouts was that caring is good, because that’s what makes you try your best, but caring too much only sets you up to be disappointed.

A year later, that very same friend urged me to try out again. She helped me choreograph and practice my tryout piece — which was a lot better than the one I had done by myself — and when I auditioned, I simply danced the best I could.

And I made the Honor Corps.

I would like to say that I learned the lesson instantly and irreversibly, but like most things, it would take some time to fully sink in. A couple years later, as a freshman in college, I applied to be a Resident Assistant, and when I didn’t get the job, I was heartbroken. Everyone—and I mean everyone—thought I was going to get it, so the shock probably hit me worse than the disappointment. But everything turned out for the best, because I did a number of things the next year that I would not have been able to do as an RA, including working at the Carnegie Museum of Art and traveling to New York City to see The Gates in Central Park.

Now, I know better than to pin all my hopes on one thing. When I apply to jobs or submit stories for publication, I adopt the motto “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” And because I believe that things happen for a reason, I trust that “the worst” is actually leading me to a better path.

I came to this conclusion the way I come to all things: the hard way. And my friend may have to do the same with this scholarship. But after spending hours helping her prepare — editing essays, doing mock interviews, giving pep talks — I can sincerely say that she deserves this opportunity, and I hope she learns this particular lesson later, rather than now.

A Thanksgiving Message…

This is a good season. This is the beginning of the holidays and specifically, Thanksgiving week. That’s a good time to think about our blessings, our families and how each has executed these past 12 months. May you find happiness and blessings in your life as we look back on our lives and look forward to our dreams. I get a little sentimental this time of year.
Tomorrow, the vast majority of us will feast.. But we cannot forget those who have not been so blessed. A few days ago I needed to prepare a Thanksgiving message for my church and came across Dr. Patricia Moseley Stanford’s “Five Kernels of Corn.” Most all of us know the story but let’s look at it one more time in Dr. Stanford’s words.
“…In the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims had a good harvest of Indian corn. However, the garden seeds they had brought with them did not reproduce well in the New England climate. With the foods they have grown and preserved, the Pilgrims decided to celebrate what they called Harvest Thanksgiving. They invited their Indian friends to join them, and much to their surprise about 90 Indians came and stayed for three days.

“A few days after the Harvest Thanksgiving, the ship Fortune arrived bringing 35 colonists from England. Most of the new arrivals did not have much more than the clothing on their backs. The sailors aboard Fortune also needed food for the voyage back to England, which was an unexpected drain on their food supplies.
“As the food supplies dwindled, every colonist knew daily hunger. They lived on half rations for six months. During the summer, many of the men and boys were two weak and thin to do the heavy labor of raising crops. It was not a good growing season. The harvest of 1622 was slim, and some of the crops that matured were stolen by the Indians.
“They Starving Time came upon the colony in the spring of 1623. Tradition tells us that each person received only five kernels of parched corn a day. When the corn supply was exhausted, they had neither bread nor corn for two or three months, and their entire diet consisted of fish and water.
“For the descendants of Mayflower passengers, the five kernels of corn are symbols of the Pilgrims’ willingness to fight great hardships for their beliefs, and must importantly, of their greatest legacy—a government by consent of the people with just and equal laws.”
A great story that has endured for nearly four centuries. The Pilgrims had a difficult time those first three years, but, Dr. Stanford forgot one thing. The Pilgrims were also looking for, and found, religious freedom.
By the way, if you find yourselves with guests for Thanksgiving dinner may there be less than 90 and may they not stay for three days!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Westfield Fire Department serves area

NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY– Volunteer fire departments, such as Westfield, Aldine, Eastex and Little York, are the backbone of our public safety system in Harris County. Medical calls are also answered by ESD#1, the medical responder in these service areas.
Each of these is made up of dedicated men and women who are there when we need them most– fire, car accident, medical emergency.
Departments such as Westfield have a long history of service to the community, and we get to see them at public functions as well as emergencies.
At Westfield, the chief is Maureen Turentine, and she follows in the footsteps of her father, who was the former chief for many years. The department started in 1942, and Maureen joined in 1976. She has been chief for about 4 years. The Assistant Chief is Tommy Searcy.
Westfield is known as a first responder, and therefore keeps paid as well as volunteers on staff so that they are ready for any call immediately. They have had this designation in their service area since 1985. Last year, they answered 2500 calls for service, including fire and emergency calls.

They are part of ESD#25, and get part of their funding from a tax base administered by Harris County. This amounts to a 10 cent assessment on property valuation of $100 yearly.
Chief Turrentine presides over a department with 20 volunteers, 22 paid responders and 2 office staff.
Equipment for the department includes a ladder truck, 2 engines (pumpers), a 2500 gallon tanker, 2 boats, a squad car, and 2 brush trucks. This equipment is housed in two stations now, one on Lauder Road and one on Bentley. Chief Turrentine said that future plans include a new building on Lauder Road across from the present location, where a training facility would be built.
Recently her department participated in National Fire Prevention Week, and visited local schools to meet families, talk about fire safety, and get better known in the community.
Turrentine said that sometimes misconceptions about quality of service come from people who don’t understand the fire protection and public safety systems of the county, and she welcomes the opportunity to explain her department and get to be better known in the community.
Turrentine is one of only a few women chiefs in the area, she said, citing the fire chief in Rosenberg as the only other one she knows.
Westfield’s service area covers 15 square miles with 25,000 residents. It extends from I-45 to US59, and Little York to Greens Bayou.

Aldine student shot at Airline bus stop

ALDINE– Authorities are investigating the shooting of an Aldine High School senior, Benjamin Neal, who was waiting to board a bus on Airline at Lorina streets last Thursday morning around 6:30 a.m.
Neal said that a stranger in a blue Oldsmobile stopped to talk with him, and when he walked away the car followed, and a shot rang out. Neal was wounded in the upper arm, but was able to walk home and call for help. He was treated at LBJ hospital, and discharged.
Authorities think the gun used was a pellet gun, but media reports said that the doctor that treated Neal indicated it might be a 22 caliber wound.
Other Aldine students were near the bus stop when the incident occured, but were not hurt or involved.
Later in the day, Aldine ISD sent a letter home to all parents, explaining the incident. The letter was signed by Cecil Hutson, Principal at Aldine HS. The letter said that the Harris County Sheriff’s office was investigating, and thought it was a random act. However, the shooter is at large at this time.
Neal is a starter on the school’s basketball team. In an interview with channel 13 KTRK, his aunt expressed concern that the injury might affect his ability to play, and to get a scholarship. However, the wound appeared minor, and Neal said he planned to return to the game soon.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. There is a reward, and you will remain anonymous.

Former Nimitz player traded to Astros

Nimitz Senior High School graduate Michael Bourn is coming home to play for his hometown baseball team.
Bourn was traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Astros on Nov. 7 in exchange for reliever Brad Lidge and utility infielder Eric Brunlett.
Bourn, who attended the University of Houston on a baseball scholarship, is expected to be the Astros’ starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter when spring training commences in February.
Bourn was a member of a Phillies team that won the NL East title this past season. He appeared in 105 games, had 119 at-bats and 33 hits for a .277 batting average. Additionally, he recorded 33 hits, scored 29 runs, hit one home run, had six RBIs and stole 18 bases. Bourn has two years of Major League experience and should provide some badly needed speed at the top of the order for the Astros.

Police Task Force sweeps Aldine crime areas

As darkness fell Saturday evening, the Harris County Sheriff’s Department quietly moved a mobile command station into an area near Aldine-Westfield and Aldine Mail. Placed far from the roadway between buildings, it remained unnoticed by most area residents. Dispatchers from the Sheriff’s Department were able to work from the remote location communicating with law enforcement officers working in a targeted zero tolerance task force.
State Representative Kevin Bailey requested several months ago that the Texas Department of Public Safety join with Harris County Sheriff’s Department in conducting a combined law enforcement operation. DPS responding to the request joined local deputies in a task force that focused on the unincorporated area of North Houston south of Aldine Bender. The task force focused on drug trafficking locations, gang activity, illegal weapon’s offenses, gambling, auto thefts, and illegal drinking at after hours bars.

“The impact of the Task Force is significant, 14 felony arrests, 18 misdemeanor arrests, 10 DWI arrests along with illegal narcotics and guns being seized,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “Search warrants were executed at four illegal game rooms resulting in over confiscation of more than $17,000, several hundred gambling machines and multiple arrests for possession of gambling devices.”
The intense policing task force that was months in the making was overseen by Lt. Jesse Inocencio of Humble District II substation. Under his command was a force of 39 officers including DPS Sgt. Ken Tuck, 10 state troopers and specialized units.
“In one area residents went out into the streets to thank the officers for being in their community. In another community they were able to target a long suspected drug house. It resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs including heroin and cocaine and the arrests of four individuals,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “I certainly share my constituents’ appreciation for a job well done.”
Specialized DPS units from other areas of the state supported the local sheriff’s deputies and DPS officer. The joint task force resulted in 233 traffic stops, 211 citations, 82 warnings, 18 misdemeanor arrests, 14 felony arrests, 10 DWI arrests and responding to 70 calls for service.
Rep. Kevin Bailey said, “Since the East Aldine Management District is hiring additional deputies for a proactive law enforcement program, they will be providing an ongoing program of aggressive enforcement to keep these criminals out of our communities.” The East Aldine Management District was created legislatively by Rep. Bailey in 2001 and currently employees full-time three deputies. The new proactive program will employee an additional sergeant and four deputies.
The combined task force of more than 30 law enforcement officers and support personnel included the patrol units, K-9 units, Auto Theft and Vice and Narcotics Division. Local deputies participating in the task force included Deputy brook Viningre from the East Aldine Management District and Deputy R. DeLeon from the Airline Improvement District.

Article by Arlene Nichols, District Director, Rep. Kevin Bailey, District 140

An Underground Movement via MySpace

By AISHA FARHOUD
“Rock hasn’t died, it’s just moved underground”
That’s what someone said to me when I told him rock was dead. At the time I thought it was just a nicer way of saying it was dead, but I’m beginning to realize that the underground movement in music is growing stronger by the minute with the help of the Internet.
Popular networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook aren’t just for teenagers looking to message their friends anymore, these sites are becoming powerful tools for musical groups. Musicians can create a profile and upload full-length songs off of their latest album, list upcoming tour dates and locations, post photos and articles, and, perhaps more importantly, include a link to a page where fans can purchase their album on mp3. Fans can add their favorite performers to their friends list, further increasing Internet exposure.
In essence, the music industry is changing completely thanks to these websites. 10 years ago we wondered what tiny media we would be purchasing for our music, as the bulky record had transformed into the cassette tape and then the nearly paper-thin CD. But with the advent of the mp3, tangible music media began to vanish. Even MTV has let music fans down, evolving from a kooky 24-hour music video channel into a commercialized empire that airs programs such as “The Hills” and “Pimp My Ride” over music videos in what looks like a ratio of 20:1.
A few nights ago I went to a concert of a band named I Am X (with Chris Corner of the Sneaker Pimps, a trip-hop group that had decent radio exposure in the mid-90s). I stumbled upon their MySpace page and noticed that under “Label” they listed “Unsigned”. Yet the turnout at the concert was fairly good, and they seem to have a pretty strong fan following, with some people travelling all over the state to see them perform. This means that even without label support bands are able to sell digital copies of their albums and organize concert performances; websites such as MySpace and Facebook help them do just that. The music industry has definitely taken notice. Universal Music even threatened to sue MySpace over “copyright infringement” in 2006, which arguably shows that they felt endangered by the website’s increasing prominence.
It appears as though television is following a similar path with the help of websites such as YouTube. In fact, I know several people who no longer own a television and instead watch their favorite TV shows online. Although YouTube frequently deletes copyrighted videos uploaded by users, this does not stop them from reappearing later, nor does it stop similar websites from offering copyrighted material (in a similar fashion to what happened after the music-sharing network Napster was shut down in 2001). We may even see independent television shows and movies appearing on websites such as YouTube in the near future.
The revolution will indeed not be televised, but rather broadcast over the internet for the whole world to see.

Aisha Farhoud is the Youth Editor of the Northeast News. She can be reached by email at aishafarhoud, yahoo

It happens to the best of us…

Death, sometimes it is unwarranted, unwanted and uncalled for, but it happens to the best of us.
As someone who reads obituary columns daily in three newspapers, I find more and more people I know or remember from back when in the papers now a days.
Read in the Baytown paper a couple weeks back that Bill Kurtz had passed. Having known him for a good while, not close friends you might say but we’d speak when we ran into each other. He was a friendly fellow and not the kind of fellow I’d go down another aisle at the Wal-Mart to avoid. As his obit read, one of the good guys.
Another obituary notice bought back old memories this morning when I read about Jim Adams’ passing away. Jim was the president of Highlands State Bank and hired me to come aboard back in 1981. Then I was slim and trim @ 170 pounds and in my prime @ 35 years old.
Boy howdy does time change things, eh?

An old finance company man, Jim had worked with Dial Finance. From there Jim went on to McGregor Park National Bank and crossed the river to Highlands State Bank.
Employees would come to work early each morning and have coffee in the break room as sections of the Houston Post were passed around.
Came to work one morning and poured a Styrofoam cup of coffee as I sat down and took a quick sip. I spewed the coffee back into the cup as Jim had dumped a salt shaker of salt in the pot.
I sort of paid him back for that prank when the bank had a covered dish dinner for something or somebody. Anyway, I took chicken livers and wrapped them with bacon, browning until the bacon was crisp; then poured BBQ sauce over all the pieces.
Jim looked at my dish and took a couple pieces not knowing what it was. Needless to say he hated liver. I watched as he put one in his mouth and began to chew; he stopped chewing and said, “That’s liver!”
He got up and went to the trash can and spat out the liver and bacon.
Jim was a good guy too. He helped me in my career and introduced me to many things and I do appreciate him for doing that.
Jim enjoyed Rotary and finally got me involved with it as well.
We were going to the valley once to go bird hunting with our sons. Jim said not to hunt next to two particular fellows. Said you will not get any birds as the two guys were expert shots and shot with very expensive .410 double barrel shotguns. I watched them shoot for a bit, they didn’t miss. Sure would like to have one of them high dollar shotguns too.
I don’t think 67 is old, do you?