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Posts published in May 2008

Aldine ISD celebrates Graduation 2008

School districts from across Harris County will come to Aldine ISD this week to use the M.O. Campbell Center for commencement.
Before they do, however, Aldine’s own graduates took that final walk to receive their high school diplomas.
First in line to use the facility this year was MacArthur Senior High. The school’s commencement was held the evening of May 30 at 7:30 pm.
The district then held five more ceremonies the following day, starting with Nimitz High School at 8 am. At 10:30 am, Carver High graduated.
Led by Class Valedictorian Violetta Krol, Aldine High took the stage at 12:30 pm. Completing the Aldine Top 10 were Adriana Diaz, Jean Nava, Laura Fuentes, Edith Gonzalez, William Fuentes, Angela Lomas, Thanh Nguyen, Eduardo Martinez and Daniel Fuentes.
After Aldine, Hall High held their ceremony at 3 pm. Eisenhower High School finished out the day’s activities at 5 pm.

METRO says North Corridor Light Rail running by 2012

By Gilbert Hoffman
NORTH HOUSTON– The public attended a meeting last Saturday at Jeff Davis High School, a community meeting to discuss the new Light Rail line for the Northside. METRO had exhibits and staff to answer questions, and a forum session in the auditorium gave the public a chance to comment on the design and details.
METRO presented an update called the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement. Essentially, the plan has changed from a Bus Rapid Transit back to the original Light Rail Transit plan. The North Corridor line is now 5.26 miles long, LRT (Light Rail), with 8 stations including 2 new ones. The cost is estimated at $677 million.

Since Dec. 2006, METRO has incorporated the following changes in the plan:
• Light Rail
• Typical section revised to a 26 foot guideway profile with one travel lane, one parking land on each side
• Inclusion of 5 traction power stations
• Burnett Station no longer a BRT to LRT transfer point
• Quitman Station changed from a transfer station to a drop-off type station
• Parking Garage at Northline Station eliminated
• Right of Way reduced, but additional 13 parcels impacted.
The two new stations are known as Boundary Station and Graceland Station. See map for more detail. The location of the Cavalcade Station has been moved. Catherine Station has been renamed to Moody Park, and Fulton/IH-610 to Melbourne.
According to METRO, the schedule now calls for Environmental Approval in Summer 2008, Acquisition of Right of Way from 2006 to 2009, Construction to begin by the end of 2008, and the North Corridor line to open for service by 2012.
The exhibits also covered efforts to preserve historically significant buildings, and a safety education program that will be conducted by METRO in nearby schools.
Present for the presentations were METRO president Frank Wilson, Congressman Gene Green, and other officials. The official presentation was made by METRO’s George Smalley and consultant Sandy Wesch-Schulze.

Aldine teachers meet First Lady, Daughter

On April 10, local school districts were informed that First lady Laura Bush and daughter, Jenna Bush were going to visit Houston. Mrs. Bush has asked to meet with area teachers that are making a difference both in the classroom and in their community.
Thirty Aldine teachers who met specific criteria were nominated by Administrators within the Aldine district. The 30 teachers nominated wrote about how they have effected their school community out of these thirty people only two were selected to meet the First Lady Bush and her daughter.
Then a selection was made by the Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg and other administrative committee members based on their explanation of the programs in which they are involved and how it has affected the school community and benefited the students and community members around their schools.

Two selected from Aldine
The two selected people from the Aldine ISD were: Demetria Westmoreland, 7th Grade History Teacher from Shotwell Middle School and Alpha Omega Cruz-Lopez, Bilingual Librarian and Teacher from Keeble EC/PK Center.
These two teachers have made a tremendous impact on their community and students in their schools. Westmoreland, has many programs involving the students in her school. She has formed a student group called “The Purple Roses.”
The Purple Roses
This group of students have participated in projects including: Breast Cancer Awareness, Elderly Help, Staph Infection realization. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, the students did various projects to inform other students and teachers of Breast Cancer and to help in the prevention and research by collecting money for the Pink Ribbon and donating to Breast Cancer collection places and giving out Pink Ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness. This has been a very enlightening thing for students as well as the teachers.
For their sock hop, they collected socks because this is one thing that the elderly love because their feet are always cold. This is a very unusual collection; however, with their visits to the elderly homes and their enthusiasm, the elderly really enjoy this time. Enlightening the student population about the importance of washing their hands and knowledge about Staph Infection and how to prevent it is of great importance.
Alpha Omega Cruz-Lopez , a Bilingual teacher and librarian at Keeble EC/PK Center in the Aldine Independent School District, has wholeheartedly taken pride in becoming extremely involved with adult and children’s reading to accomplish a two-fold growth.
The ABC Club
One spectacular monthly activity, the ABC Club (A.-Answers, B.-Books, C.-Children), invites parents to come for an hour the first Friday of each month to hear about forthcoming events and to participate in a make-N-take activity related to a book.
The session involves methods and approaches on how to read to children; skills; manipulatives; and diverse techniques that parents can use nightly as they read to their children. Parents’ interest in reading has become an overwhelming concentrated effort tied into another activity started since last year called: “Go Wild with Reading.”
This program encourages the parents to read every day to their children. At the beginning of every month a Reading Form is sent home for the parents to write down the title of every book that is read to their children daily. At the end of each month, they return their form and each child receives a certificate. The child’s name is kept in a log. This program ends in May. The children who have completed: eight months of 100% participated reading will receive a GOLD Medallion, seven months of 100% participated reading will receive a SILVER Medallion; six months of 100% participated reading will receive a BRONZE Medallion.

North Houston Association honors community leaders and businesses

The North Houston Association (NHA) presented the awards for year 2007 to recipients who were recognized at the Annual Awards Luncheon on May 20. City of Houston Mayor Bill White and Controller Annise Parker were speakers at the event.
The following presentations were made: North Star Award to State Senator Tommy
Williams, District 4; Compass Award to Joe Adams, Vice President of Public Affairs for
Union Pacific Railroad Company; and Environmental Impact Award to Land Tejas Companies, accepted by company president Patrick Bullard.

The North Star Award is presented to an individual or company in north Houston that has made a long-term, significant contribution to the region. The award was presented by former Senator and NHA president Jon Lindsay to State Senator Tommy Williams,
District 4. Mayor Bill White made accompanying remarks along with Senator Williams. Our
Board felt that Senator Williams was qualified for this award based on his years of work and resulting legislation enabling creation of The Woodlands Township. He obtained approval through the State Legislature for a piece of history-making legislation that would allow Town Center Improvement District and the City of Houston to enter into a regional participation agreement, thereby ensuring that The Woodlands would not be annexed and allowing the citizens to determine their future governance.
The Compass Award is bestowed on an individual who is a member of the North Houston Association, and has made a significant contribution to the area and to the programs and projects of the Association. The award was presented by NHA Chairman Roy Hearnsberger, with The Hearnsberger Company, to Joe Adams, Vice President of Public Affairs for Union Pacific Railroad Company. Our Board felt that Mr. Adams was qualified for this award because of his outstanding leadership to NHA as the Chairman of the Board from 2002-2006. Additionally, he has participated for many years on various NHA committees and provided updates to NHA membership on freight rail issues and commuter rail possibilities for the Houston region.
The Environmental Impact Award recognizes a company or entity for its efforts in preserving and protecting the environment in north Houston or south Montgomery County. Mark Froehlich, with Brown & Gay Engineers and NHA Board member, presented Land Tejas Companies the Environmental Impact Award for the “Discovery at
Spring Trails” green development. Patrick Bullard, President of Land Tejas Companies, accepted the award.

Gov. Perry appoints Greenspoint District’s Lowry to state jail commission

When Jerry Lowry joined the Greenspoint District as public safety director in 2000, it didn’t take long to realize he was the right fit for the job.
He has risen through the ranks at the Greenspoint District and today serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Although his responsibilities today extend beyond the District’s public safety programs, it’s his work with expanding, implementing and building successful partnerships with law enforcement that has gained him recognition. Lowry has once again been recognized as the right fit by Governor Rick Perry, who recently appointed him to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
“I’ve had the opportunity to impact crime and safety from different angles,” said Lowry. “I’ve fought crime on the streets as a police officer, traveled to other countries as a corporate security consultant and built crime-reducing partnerships with local law enforcement here in Greenspoint. I’ve been fortunate to gain valuable insight that will help in addressing issues facing Texas jails,” he added.

The Texas Commission on Jail Standards is the regulatory agency for all county jails and privately operated municipal jails in the state.
The nine-member commission sets the standards for the treatment of prisoners and the construction, maintenance and operation of county jails. In addition, they review inspection procedures, enforcement policies and rehabilitation programs for prisoners. Lowry will serve a six-year term and is one of the four members of the commission who represent the general public.
Lowry received a degree in Criminal Justice with Magna Cum Laude honors from the University of Houston – Downtown. He has served as an officer and sergeant with the Houston Police Department and co-owner of an international security consulting firm. He holds the designation of Certified Protection Professional from the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS), an organization for security professionals with 36,000 members worldwide, and an Advanced Certificate from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education.
An active leader in the community, Lowry is the past chair of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce, executive director of Greenspoint Community Partners, advisory director for Amegy Bank of Texas and board member for Leadership North Houston. He resides near Conroe and is Co-Pastor for the College Park Church of Christ and board member for Heaven Sent Ministries.

North Forest names high school, picks colors

By GILBERT HOFFMAN
NORTH FOREST– At their monthly board meeting last Monday night, the NF District voted to adopt the name “North Forest High School” for the two consolidated high schools, and to have the official school colors black and gold, and the mascot name the “Bulldogs”.
Input on the new name and colors came from cards handed in by students, staff and the public at several meetings, according to Nakisha Myles, spokesperson for the district.
Other names that were considered in the voting were Obama High School, Northeast High School, MLK High School, and George W. Bush High School.
This vote continued the consolidation and downsizing that the district is going through, with the goal of returning to financial stability and to satisfy the Texas Education Agency so that the state monitors or “conservators” that are overseeing the district could be concluded.

However, financial problems continue to plague the district, exemplified by a $250,000 electic power bill that was questioned by the board as out of line, and no one seemed to have a good answer as to why. Assistant Administrator Carl Williams said he thought part of the problem was lack of A/C controls, that allowed the buildings to run 24/7.
Trustee Lemons indicated that the district needed an Energy Efficiency plan, and that it needed to be implemented with an inservice training, and with penalties and rewards for those in charge of useage. He indicated that this program was in effect in his school in Houston ISD, where he is a principal.
TEA report on possible Probation, closure
During the meeting, a “preliminary” report to the district from TEA was discussed. This report was not to be made public, according to a frustrated TEA representative at the meeting, Ron Rowell, and he suggested that someone on the board or the superintendent had leaked the report to the media. The report detailed the failures of the district, and laid the groundwork for a possible closure of the district, a drastic step which TEA now had the authority to do, but has not exercised elsewhere in the state.
During the meeting, a new Special Ed director, Dr. O’Connor was introduced. He replaces Dr. Ruth Watson, who was criticized in the media for the way she ran her department, and who the board says is now on medical and family leave.
Academic Conservator Barbara Wilson made a report to the board that indicated improvements in the academics of the district, and that TEA had found her Improvement Plan acceptable.
In the public comment section of the meeting, Robin German Curtis spoke on the need for cooperation between the board and her organization, NEEF. She said “Let us make a Plan together, for the good of our children.” NEEF was the group that brought former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige to the district a few months ago to encourage this improvement.
Interim superintendent William Jones noted, in the discussion on the Visor Camp and other summer programs, that federal funds use and related programs were being investigated by the District Attorney. He stated that all children would have summer programs available, but that he was limited in what specifics he could promise.
In a note of levity during the meeting, Trustee Albert Lemons was asked if he would consider being superintendent. He answered “No. I’ve tried to live to make it into Heaven.”

Art on the Move

On May 10, the Art Car Parade travelled through Memorial Park, and ended up at the new Discovery Green for an afternoon of fun, food and frolic for all of Houston.
What began in 1988 with 40 decorated vehicles and a handful of onlookers is now the Worlds Largest and Oldest Art Car Parade. The event features over 250 Art Cars, 200,000 plus live spectators and media from all over the world.
Scores of lowrider, classic cars, costumed roller skaters, musicians on floats, art bicyclists, hot rodders, and hard-to-classify rolling contraptions join in and shine in the spotlight.

Voters okay Lone Star College System bond measure, elect trustees

A $420 million bond referendum to build new facilities and infrastructure for fast-growing Lone Star College System sailed to victory Saturday night by a 62-38% margin.
At the same time, Pos. 3 incumbent Stephanie Marquard and Pos. 9 incumbent Priscilla Kelly were re-elected to new six-year terms on the college’s board of trustees. Pos. 6 incumbent Alan Quintero, appointed to complete an unexpired term, was defeated by challenger Bob Wolfe. Robert J. Adam was elected to fill the Pos. 4 seat vacated by trustee John Fox, who did not seek re-election.
Final unofficial tallies showed the bond proposal passing in every segment of the community college district with 13,574 votes for to 8,232 against. The district is comprised by 11 independent school districts: Aldine, Conroe, CyFair, Humble, Kingwood, Klein, New Caney, Splendora, Spring, Tomball, and Willis. The proposition drew 21,806 voters.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this election,” said LSCS Chancellor Dr. Richard Carpenter. “We got our message out, and residents responded.”
“We are greatly appreciative of the confidence voters have placed in us,” Dr. Carpenter said. “We will move aggressively to fulfill the promises we have made to the community, and look forward to meeting the needs of the students we serve.”
Lone Star College System enrolled 49,263 students in credit courses last fall, and is adding about 5,000 new students every 24 months. At the current rate of growth, the system anticipates more than 72,000 students by 2015. College officials have said that the system’s five college are at or beyond total capacity as defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Trustees elected
According to final but unofficial tallies in the trustee election, Pos. 3 incumbent Marquard received 5,165 votes to 3,798 for Fred Blanton, 3,485 for Jerry Albrecht, and 1,897 for Robert Gandy.
In Position 4, Adam defeated Terry Morton, 6,716 to 6,368.
Wolfe was victorious in Pos. 6 with 4,942 votes, Jason Roper with 4,642, and Quintero with 3,834.
In Position 9, incumbent Priscilla Kelly won with 3,839 votes, followed by Joe Williams with 2,806, Diane Porter with 2,742, Gail Stanart with 2,264, and Jean Iverson with 1,901.
Trustees are elected by a plurality of votes cast; there is no run-off election.

Memories of Eddie Arnold

Been in the briar patch picking blackberries, got two large freezer bags full from two pickings. The Mrs. suggested blackberry jam out of the pickings but my thoughts are on another batch of wine.
Picked a few tomatoes out of the garden of weedin and some of the onions are ready already. Nothing better than a toasted BLT samich with homegrown tomatoes.
Dug up a few red potatoes but what little mess there is would not sustain a family over winter.
The bucket with two tomato plants growing out the bottom finally has a tomato on one of the vines. A far cry from the photos I have seen loaded with nice size tomatoes.
Sure did hate to hear of Eddy Arnold passing on, he was 89.
My mother truly enjoyed the music of Eddy Arnold on the old tube radio in our kitchen back in Georgia. Still have that old tube radio from back 50 years ago; Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, and Ernie Ford were all popular back then. My mother would listen to the radio during the day when she was in the kitchen cooking biscuits or whatever; some of those old songs she could play along with a biscuit pan and right good at it.
Received news this past week of an old family friend who also passed away, at 93. Beulah Louise Irvin from Morristown, Tennessee.

She lived her life in my hometown of LaGrange, Georgia and her husband was a mechanic. He was also a racecar driver of ole number 1084. AJ were his initials but he was known as Jute. 1084 was the Lodge number of the BPOE.
Louise worked at the Cake Box off on one of the main streets in town back when I was a bicycle riding fool. After the picture show, I would go by the Cake Box and get a Coke in the bottle and a brownie. They had the best brownies you would ever want to eat.
The time on these events was when gas was in the price of cents if you savvy.
I would give Louise a case quarter and never paying any attention to the change, I would put it in my pocket and proceed to gnaw into those brownies and wash it down with a Coke and then a large belch of which I could do some CATTLE CALL.
Once I noticed the change and she said do not worry about it and I did not.
Being all this on a Saturday and the Cake Box closed on Sundays as did every other place in town… they also closed on Wednesday afternoons back then too.
Louise would give me whole cakes, which they would have to throw out or give to some of the help. Fortunately, for me, I have bicycled over a mile and a half, up hills enough to wear one out to get a German Chocolate cake to the house with one hand, thanks to Louise.
R I P Beulah and Eddy, two Tennessee folks.

Airline Public Meeting reviews Water/Sewer plans

Airline District residents met last Thursday night, May 8 at Carroll Academy on Gulf Bank, to hear a presentation by Melissa Hamous, a senior planner with the Harris County Public Infrastructure Department. This was the third and final meeting in a process that has developed a plan for new water and sewer services in the Airline District area. As explained by Hamous, this plan is necessary before funding for engineering and construction of a system can take place. She said that the plan is a “30 year study”, but emphasized that the search for funds is a current, ongoing process that has already resulted in construction of new water and sewer lines in two areas of East Aldine, as an example of what can be accomplished.
Hamous said that she could forsee the design work for an area taking 3 to 4 years, and construction and completion in about 4 to 5 years, for any area that would be designated as the first pilot project area, as in East Aldine.
As part of the presentation, Hamous emphasized that many wells are contaminated, and homeowners should test their well water for purity. To aid in this, she passed out bottles and instructions on how to get the test done. More information is available from the Harris County Health Department at 713-439-6260.
The audience numbered about 150, mostly homeowners in the district. Although the discussion was mostly about the water and sewer plans, other topics brought up for discussion included junk yards, annexation, sidewalks, subsidence and Metro rail plans for the North Corridor. Most of these were deferred, since the meeting was primarily about infrastructure planning.

In the detailed presentation, Hamous pointed out that an arrangement had been made with the City of Houston, to take over all water and sewer lines that are constructed, and to provide services to the homes at the current city rate. This is expected to be about $50 per month as projected today. She emphasized that no MUD district would be created, and homeowners would become customers of the City of Houston water department.
As an added incentive, the hook-up costs of switching from well and septic systems to city systems would be absorbed by the Airline District, with no additional expense to the homeowners.
Most of the audience acknowledged that their systems had a limited life, perhaps only 25 years for a septic system, Hamous said. Even with correct maintenance, they eventually age to the point of needing replaced. One audience member said she had priced this replacement cost at $9000 for her home’s septic system.
Hamous said that the switch to a new system would be voluntary, but with Airline District paying for the disconnect/connect, which is valued at many thousands of dollars, it only made sense to change to a new system.
Some objections were heard from the audience, because the county will require that old systems be entirely abandoned. Some homeowners wanted to continue to use their wells for yard and garden watering, but Hamous explained that this could not be allowed, if a new city system was on the property, because cross contamination is possible and the city could not risk this. The only cost to the homeowner for a connection would be the water department deposit for new customers, now $100, refundable after a year.
However, this new infrastructure would only be available to single family houses at this rate, she said. Apartments, mobile home parks, and businesses would not be able to connect without paying normal fees to the city for a commercial hook-up. She said that the state TCEQ has a small business division that might be willing to cover costs for some of these types of installations.
Hamous said that preliminary information from the study indicated the extent of the problem, as follows:
– Septic overflow has occured in 477 reported cases, or citations, since 1991.
– Half of the properties in the study have private sewers, and just under half have private water wells.
– About 1 of every 8, or 12% of the septic systems, are failing and this rate will increase with time.
In the public discussion, it was noted that septic systems do not function well in the soil that Harris County has. There is too much clay for good absorption to occur.
The Airline Improvement District (AID) is receiving a grant from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for a Water and Wastewater Planning Study to determine the economic feasibility of alternatives to replace failing septic systems and provide a potable water supply to the District’s residents and business. The state grant is for $125,000.
For more information and updates on studies and meetings, Teri Koerth suggested checking with the district website at www.airlinedistrict.org, and notices in the Northeast News.

Aldine ISD wins H-E-B’s Excellence in Education Award

Aldine ISD was named the winner of H-E-B’s Excellence in Education Award. The announcement was made on Sunday, May 4, at an awards celebration held at The Woodlands Conference and Convention Center.
By being named the winner in the large school district category, Aldine ISD was awarded $100,000 from H-E-B.
“This is a tremendous honor and we are so thankful to H-E-B for the generous contribution they have made to our district,” said Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg. “This award will be shared by our entire team, from our board members, to our administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and especially our students. This award validates the hard work of Aldine staff to produce the Nation’s Best! This has been an incredible experience for us. All school districts in Texas work really hard for their students, and we want to do right for our students as well.”

Aldine ISD competed in the large school district category with Aransas County ISD (Rockport), Kerrville ISD, McAllen ISD and Round Rock ISD. Aldine and the four other finalists were chosen for their commitment to Texas children and their communities. The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards is the state’s largest monetary recognition program for Texas educators.
The Excellence in Education Award highlights the great things going on in Texas public schools, to spotlight best practices and to celebrate the work of Texas educators.
Officials from H-E-B conducted a site visit on March 11. During the visit, H-E-B officials, along with members of the Aldine community, received an overview of the district by Dr. Bamberg. Additionally, the group visited four Aldine ISD campuses. The purpose of the visit was to determine the systemic capacity of the district to deliver high quality education in terms of its organization, processes and curriculum.
Created in 2002, the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards are designed to honor outstanding public school systems and professionals and to thank them for their dedication and commitment. Through this program, H-E-B seeks to pay tribute to educators, administrators and districts who go the extra mile each and every day to serve their students and their communities and who inspire others to do the same.