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Posts published in October 2009

Gismo teaches Vines EC/PK students about being safe


Gismo the Robot using all of his bells, whistles, flashing lights and dance moves helped the students of Vines EC/Pre-K learn about Stranger Danger and other safety procedures as only the Harris County Sheriff’s Office can.

Gismo is a wonderful teaching tool under the supervision of Deputy Sherrhonda Adams. Deputy Goree Allen, Jr. is his partner in education.

This was a great introduction for these young students to learn about how the policeman is one of their community helpers.

National Night Out brings neighbors and police together


Northeast Houston observed National Night Out in a number of neighborhoods last Tuesday evening, Oct. 6th. This was part of the national program to get neighbors to meet each other and their local public safety officials, as part of an urban safety program. Locally, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt had encouraged residents to meet, and sent their officers to participate. In Northeast Houston, Greenspoint, North Forest, Atascocita and many more local areas, the turnout was heavy as good weather and some concern about crime statistics made this a must-do event for many residents. In addition to sheriff’s deputies and police officers, many fire departments and public officials also were represented at the neighborhood parties.

NH Greenspoint Chamber holds Business EXPO at Mall


In a return to the previous years when members participated in a Business EXPO, Chamber president Reggie Gray has announced a business show to be held on Saturday, October 17th in the Greenspoint Mall near the Food Court. The event will be from 10 am to 3 pm, and exhibitors will have displays of their products and services, for local residents and other businesses to view.

In addition, local stores in the Greenspoint Mall will be able to see the exhibits, and in turn show their merchandise to the visitors to the EXPO, Mall Manager Ray Bejarano pointed out.

Booths are still available, for Chamber members and nonmembers who are interested in displaying their companies capabilities. In addition to retail companies, this is a good opportunity for non-profits, professional and medical services, and corporations to present.

Contact Yolanda Hamlin at the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce to reserve a booth. Member price for a booth is $200, and for nonmembers $250.

Phone is 281-260-3163, or yhamlin@nhgcc.org.

Obama’s sister to speak at North Forest luncheon


Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, educator, co-founder of Our Public School and sister of President Barack Obama, will serve as North Forest ISD’s guest speaker at the 2009 NFISD State of District Address held at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel, 15700 John F. Kennedy Blvd. on Oct. 16 at 11 a.m.

Soetoro-Ng will speak on the state of urban education from a national perspective.

The State of the District Luncheon will “highight district accompishments and plant the seed for the North Forest Education Foundation,” the district says.

“During the past year, many noteworthy events have taken place in North Forest ISD — from the start of our all-day Pre-K and Urban Teacher Residency program to having four TEA “Recognized” campuses to the completion and initial stages of implementing our strategic plan,” said NFISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Adrain Johnson. “North Forest is moving and growing. We are anxious to share the details and we are incredibly excited to have Dr. Soetoro-Ng join us as our guest speaker,” Johnson added.

Sponsorships for the State of the District luncheon are available. For more information on being a sponsor contact NFISD’s Director of Education Foundation Public and Community Relations Nakisha Myles at 713-491-1035 or go to the district’s website at www.nfisd.org.

Support the 100 Club


To The Editor,

I want to express my condolences to the families of Harris County Precinct 3 Deputy Robert Clenney and Baytown Police Sergeant George Edmund Drude.

Our community has experienced a great loss of two dedicated peace officers. As a life member of the Houston 100 Club, it seems that all too often I get notices of peace officers being killed and details of the loved ones left behind. The families are devastated not only emotionally but financially as well.

The loss of these men is a tragedy that must be dealt with and those of us who are able to help can do so by making contributions to funds set up by Constable Ken Jones’ office (281 427 4792) and the Baytown Police Department (281 422 8371).

I would also encourage you to join and support the Houston 100 Club or make a donation to the Survivor’s Fund. The address is The 100 Club, Inc., 1233 West Loop South, Suite 1250, Houston, Texas 77027. Please keep these families in your prayers.

Don Coffey

Wounded Sooners hope to spoil UT’s season

It’s that time of year again, time for the annual Red River Rivalry, and once again, this one means a lot to both the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners.

A win by Mack Brown’s team puts them squarely in control of the Big 12 South Division and solidifies their chances of not only playing for the Big 12 title the first Saturday in December, but for a spot in the BCS title game in January. For Bob Stoops’ Sooners, a win would make their season and take some of the sting out of a season that has seen the team decimated by injuries to key personnel, which has resulted in them playing the role of spoiler instead of national title contender.

Before we take a look at that game and a host of others, let’s review last week’s record. A 7-5 mark brought the season record to 30-26 (54 percent).

Now, onto this week’s games.

HIGH SCHOOL

Aldine at Atascocita: A key game in the District 19-5A schedule for Lionel Crawford’s Mustangs. Aldine opened league play with an upset loss to Humble, but followed that up with a convincing 42-21 win over Nimitz two weeks ago. In that game, running back Dontae Williams ran wild as he rushed for 270 yards and four touchdowns. Aldine will need another such performance from the talented senior running back as they take on an Atascocita team that won its first six games. My pick, Aldine 26, Atascocita 23

Nimitz vs. Eisenhower: Robert Toomer’s Cougars face another tall task as they take on Ray Evans’ Eagles who two weeks ago won their fourth straight game with a 37-0 win over MacArthur. Quarterback James Jones had another big game against the Generals and should be in store for another productive performance against the Cougars. My pick, Eisenhower 31, Nimitz 18

NCAA

Texas Tech at Nebraska: Mike Leach’s Red Raiders may be heading into a buzz saw when they trek to Lincoln to take on Bo Pelini’s much improved Cornhuskers. Pelini has returned the pride to the Nebraska faithful, along with stout defensive play. Look for the defense to give a young Tech offensive line fits all afternoon. Tech starting quarterback Taylor Potts was injured in his team’s 48-28 win over New Mexico two weeks ago in Lubbock, but reserve Steven Sheffield came off the bench to throw for 238 yards and three touchdowns. If Potts is unable to go on Saturday, Sheffield appears to be a capable understudy, but asking him to pick up a win in a hostile environment might be asking too much. My pick, Nebraska 34, Texas Tech 24

USC at Notre Dame: This is the game the Irish faithful have waited for since last year’s most recent lopsided loss to the Trojans. ND head coach Charlie Weiss has assembled a load of talent in South Bend, led by junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but USC has a boatload of talent itself. USC may be a bit down this year, but they are still a very, very good football team. If Notre Dame wants to take the next step of returning to the national stage, they have to win this game. That might be easier said than done. The Irish won four of their first five games and had an extra week to prepare for the Trojans. Clausen needs to be on, but the key to this game will be how well the ND defense does in slowing down ‘SC’s strong running game. Notre Dame has given up a lot of yards and points this year, but with an extra week to prepare for this one, maybe, just maybe, the magic returns to South Bend. My pick, Notre Dame 31, USC 30

Auburn at LSU: A battle of the Tigers in Baton Rogue in a key SEC Western Division game. Auburn has been one of the surprise teams in the country as Gene Chili has proven that maybe, just maybe, the powers that be in Auburn made the right choice in handing him the job, which did not go over all that well with Auburn alumnus. Auburn has a balanced offense led by former Tech QB Chris Todd, who in his first five games has passed for 1,230 yards and 12 touchdowns and running back Ben Tate (540 yards rushing, two touchdowns). LSU has a balanced offense of their own led by quarterback Jordan Jefferson and a stable of quality running backs led by burley Charles Scott. The Tigers picked up a huge road victory at Georgia two weeks ago and will be coming off a physical contest against Florida before taking on Auburn. Still, the home field advantage should be huge for the Tigers and be the difference in this one. My pick, LSU 26, Auburn 22

Texas vs. Oklahoma: The State Fair of Texas will be rocking come Saturday when the Longhorns and Sooners go at in their annual boarder skirmish. Heading into the season, this was one of THE games of the 2009 season as both teams were coming off BCS bowl games and possessed two of the top quarterbacks in the nation in OU’s Sam Bradford and Texas’ Colt McCoy. Bradford has not played since the first game of the season when he sustained an injury to his throwing shoulder in the first half against BYU. It’s not certain if Bradford will play against Texas, but if he’s healthy, expect the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to give it a go in the Cotton Bowl. McCoy has been steady, but not spectacular this year, but he knows a big performance against OU on national television would get him back on the Heisman landscape. The Sooners’ defense is loaded with speed and quickness so it would behoove the Longhorns to run right at the Sooners, which should soften them up for some deep, throws downfield. That strategy worked for Miami two weeks ago in their 21-20 win over the Sooners. This is a huge game for Texas because a win in the Cotton Bowl keeps their visions of bigger things to come very much alive. My pick, Texas 30, Oklahoma 23

NFL

Houston at Cincinnati: So, which Texans team shows up this Sunday in Cincinnati? The one that sleep walked through a 31-24 loss at home to the Jaguars three weeks ago, or the one that thoroughly dominated the Raiders (OK, it was the Raiders!) two weeks ago en route to a 29-6 win. Guess we’ll find out on Sunday. One thing is for sure, Gary Kubiak’s team has to know it’s can’t take any team for granted, especially a Bengals team that won three of its first four games and is playing pretty solid defense thus far in the 2009 season. Houston has to hope running back Steve Slaton is on his way to getting untracked. He scored on the ground and through the air against the Raiders and if he’s on, the Texans offense is much more difficult to stop. Defensively, the Texans will need to keep Cinci quarterback Carson Palmer in check. He’s 100 percent healthy and that’s a good thing for the Bengals. A win by the Texans on the road would really give them a shot in the arm. My pick, Houston 23, Cincinnati 20

Baltimore at Minnesota: An intriguing inter-conference match up as the Ravens pay a visit to the Metrodome to take on Bret Favre and the Vikings. Favre looked like a 30-year old two weeks ago when he led the Vikings to a 30-23 win over his former team, the Green Bay Packers. He had plenty of zip on the football and threw for two scores. This week, he’ll face one of the best defenses in the league when Ray Lewis and Co. Come calling. The Ravens dropped a 27-21 decision at New England two weeks ago, but this is a team that is ready and willing to play any team, anywhere at any time. This game will also feature two of the league’s top defenses, so the running game should be the difference in this one, meaning the team that runs the ball the most effectively should come out on top. Considering the Vikes have the league’s best running back in Adrian Peterson, the men in purple get the nod this week. My pick, Minnesota 23, Baltimore 21

New York Giants at New Orleans: The NFC’s top two teams meet in the Big Easy and both should be undefeated when they hook up on Sunday. The Giants have perhaps the deepest team in the NFL and are getting excellent play from their young corps of wide receivers. Steve Smith is emerging at Eli Manning’s go-to guy as evidenced by the two-touchdown performance he turned in two weeks ago at Kansas City. The Saints have a pretty fair quarterback themselves in Drew Brees, who also has a host of talented wide outs to throw to. This should be a high-scoring game in the Superdome, so the team that does the best job of protecting the football will come out on top. It says here the Saints continue their roll, but barely. My pick, New Orleans 34, New York 31

Chicago at Atlanta: A pretty good one for Sunday Night Football pits the Bears against the Falcons in a key NFC game for both teams. The Bears are very happy with their new quarterback, Jay Cutler, whom they acquired in the off-season from the Broncos, while the Falcons continue to flourish with their second-year signal caller, Matt Flynn. Chicago exploded for 48 points two weeks ago in their win over the Lions, while the Falcons had the week off. The Falcons will look to running back Michael Turner to do the heavy lifting in this one as they count on him to chew up the clock with his sturdy legs. The Bears have a decent running back of their own in Matt Forte, who finally had a big day with 131 yards rushing and a touchdown against the Lions. With two strong-armed quarterbacks going at it, this one could turn into a high-scoring affair, but the Falcons have proven to be tough at home, so go with them in this one. My pick, Atlanta 30, Chicago 27

Denver at San Diego: Don’t look now, but the Broncos are a pretty good football team. When the season began, most experts expected Denver to struggle this year considering they traded their stud QB Jay Cutler and first-year head coach Josh McDaniel pretty much revamped the roster. Four weeks into the season, the Broncos have one of the top defenses in the league (just ask the Cowboys), a steady quarterback in Kyle Orton and a talented rookie running back in Knoshown Moreno.

The Chargers split their first four games and almost pulled off a remarkable comeback two weeks ago at Pittsburgh when they rallied from a 28-0 deficit in the fourth quarter before falling 38-28. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is having an outstanding season. He should give the Broncos a real test on Monday night at home, which should be enough to lead his team to a key AFC West victory. My pick, San Diego 26, Denver 20

The uphill drive

By Kristan Hoffman

For some reason, I often used to dream about driving. Specifically, about driving a stick shift. And even though nowadays you can order an automatic transmission on just about any car, those constant dreams were like subliminal messages. They convinced me that it was important to know how to drive a manual.

When I was sixteen, my dad promised that he would teach me both stick and automatic. When I was seventeen, I still didn’t know either one. Tired of being the only high school senior who always needed a chauffeur, I finally enrolled myself in a driver’s ed class. Two weeks later, I at least knew how to drive an automatic.

I didn’t learn how to drive stick until my boyfriend’s mom taught me on an old Jeep Wrangler last year. I quickly grasped the concepts—use the clutch to shift gears, don’t stall out, avoid steep hills—but the actual doing was much more difficult. I managed to drive several miles and get up to about 50 mph, but I also stalled out and slid downhill a bit, scaring the car behind me.

But regardless of those difficulties, I fulfilled my dream. I now possess the skill to drive a stick shift. All that’s left is practice.

Writing, my other big dream, is the same way. Since age 9, I’ve known that I want to be a novelist. So I worked hard in school, got a degree in creative writing, and switched from a full-time to a part-time job in order to write more. At 23, I have the skills I need to be a writer. All that’s left is the practice.

And just like driving stick, I find myself having to constantly shift gears, not stall out, and brave the hills. Which of course is easier said than done. Every day is filled with chores and distractions—the dog, the dishes, the internet. Even when I can find time to focus, there’s that dreaded “writer’s block.” And when I do finally work my way out of a block, writing is still an uphill battle. Sure, on a good day I can knock out 1,500 words, but that still leaves roughly 78,500 more to make a novel.

Of course, most goals in life are like that. You might want to be a teacher or a lawyer, a musician or a parent, a doctor or an actor. No matter what your dream is, you will encounter distractions that force you to shift gears, moments where you stall out, and hills that seem impossible to climb. The key is to keep driving yourself forward, no matter how rough the road gets. Because anyone can learn the skills, but it’s the people with dedication and perseverance who achieve their dreams.

Emmett: County must plan for the future


NORTHEAST HOUSTON – The Chamber had a busy luncheon schedule last Thursday, as it honored Aldine ISD for receiving the national Broad Prize for the best urban school district, heard from speakers on the 2010 national Census, from the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on commercial fraud and counterfeiting, and the keynote speaker of the luncheon, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on the “State of the County.”

AISD superintendent Wanda Bamberg thanked the community for their support to receive the Broad Prize. This will result in 50 to 60 scholarships, totaling $1,000,000, for underprivileged students to go on to college.

Ida Mae Love, representing the Census Bureau, emphasized the importance of a “complete count” so that the Houston area receives its share of $400 billion in federal funds over the next 10 years. The census will be due next April 1st.

Chip Owens of the federal Immigration and Customs agency spoke of the need to stop counterfeit merchandise, and asked for everyone’s help. He said that over $1 trillion dollars is lost annually worldwide, to perpetrators of counterfeit goods. Many of the bogus goods are of poor quality and dangerous, he said.

Judge Emmett’s message was that the county is cutting back on its spending budget to match the economy, but that the county is financially strong, due to reserve funds that have been set aside earlier. He noted that Harris County is made up of 33 cities, not just one, and comprises 4 million people, including 1.3 million in the unincorporated areas.

He pointed out the strengths of the county, including the fact that we will grow as a trading “gateway” to North America. Key factors in this are the expansion of the Panama canal, and our upgraded transportation, rail, airport and port facilities. Emmett discussed the upcoming commuter rail possibilities, expecting at least two lines of new heavy rail to be operating in the next year or so, with more to follow. This will include a line to Hempstead, and one to Galveston. Another to Tomball is being studied. All of these are on existing rail right-of-ways, and therefore could be implemented in a short time. The Hempstead line might eventually extend to Texas A&M.

In transportation, he noted that the northeast section of the Beltway 8 is under construction now, and will soon be completed. He expects that the Grand Parkway will see completion too, in the next decade. It will connect through 7 counties, he noted, and that regional cooperation has been important to its success.

One of the strengths of the county, he said, is its diversity and richness of ethnic groups. Although it is now almost 40% Hispanic and growing, he thinks this distinction in ethnicity is disappearing as the various races blend and adopt American life styles.

He also talked about quality of life issues, including health care and water and air quality. He stressed all of these problems require a regional solution to be successful. In addition, he said that health care needs a coordinated systems approach to delivering services, not just more hospitals and clinics.

The age and condition of our infrastructure is a major concern, he said, and indicates that we must be planning and budgeting for the future. Our water system is antiquated, and now serving a county population of 4,000,000. Most of it will need to be replaced, and the MUDs in unincorporated areas may not be able to afford this, indicating a new regional approach and funding will be required.

Emmett reminded the Chamber members that in Texas, the county government is actually an arm of the state government, and can only implement laws and funding provided by the state.

His conclusion to all this was that Harris County will continue to grow and prosper, but that funds must be found and budgeted for the services and growth that will be required in the future.

In his words, “We are on the Cusp of Change,” and are setting ourselves and the county up for the future.

Airline Improvement District seeks state funds for water, sewage projects


In an effort to provide public water and sewage service to certain areas within the District, the District recently completed its application to the Texas Water Development Board’s Economically Distressed Areas Program.

The primary purpose of the application is to request funds for a water and wastewater project in certain sections of the District that currently qualify based on census data. The funds would be utilized for the initial phases of the project which include Planning, Acquisition and Design.

Following submission of the application, the Department of State Health Services will determine whether there are unsafe conditions such as overflowing septic systems or a significant number of shallow private water wells that are located within 50 feet of a septic tank. Provided such conditions are prevalent, the District anticipates funding for the initial phases of the project.

In addition to its efforts on public water and sewage service, the District has been actively monitoring efforts by Harris County to regulate salvage yards. Harris County Commissioner’s Court passed an order adopting an ordinance regarding licensing of junkyards and automotive wrecking and salvage yards in unincorporated areas of Harris County on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009.

The ordinance will become effective Jan. 1, 2010. The purpose of the ordinance is to protect public health, safety and welfare of the community. The County Engineer will be responsible for the administration of the Ordinance, issuance of licenses required by the Ordinance, enforcement of the Ordinance and maintenance of proper records.

The District has also scheduled a Heavy Trash Pick-Up Day for Saturday, October 17th, 2009 with a rain out date of October 24th, 2009 (this excludes Bellmar and Northline Terrace subdivisions due to earlier pickups by Precinct One). This heavy trash pick-up day is brought to you as a joint effort between Commissioner El Franco Lee and the District.

The District’s next Board Meeting was scheduled for Sept. 24th, at 11:30am at the Little York Fire Department located at 10410 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77037 and was open to the public. In the event you are unable to attend, a brochure of the District’s current projects and initiatives has recently been completed and it is anticipated that copies will be mailed to all the businesses within its boundaries.

Farouk Shami for our next governor?


Reveals interest at Chamber mixer

NORTH HOUSTON – The North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce is holding monthly networking mixers, as an added benefit of membership. The Greenspoint Club was the site of the September mixer, and there was a large group turnout. The honored guest at the event was Farouk Shami, who recently announced the expansion of his business, CHI USA, and Farouk Systems.

Farouk held a ribbon cutting and a large grand opening event earlier in the month, as he announced that he was moving his manufacturing of hair care products back to Houston from several overseas locations. As part of this move, he announced that the company will be hiring hundreds of new employees, bringing the total in North Houston up to at least 1000. Farouk’s products include CHI and BioSilk.

Farouk first started his business in 1986, when he invented the first ammonia-free hair lightener and color system, called SunGlitz. The company started during the 80’s recession, and later transformed into a powerhouse in the beauty industry, with a string of innovative products, such as BioSilk, the CHI hairdryer, and other hair and nail products.

At the networking event, Farouk surprised the audience by talking about his interest in running for governor of the state of Texas. He spoke about his success in business, and said that he could transfer that ability into running the state. If he actually decides to run as a Democratic candidate, he will emphasize his business success, and his ability to create jobs for Texans.

He says “My mission is to inspire and challenge others… so that we can stimulate the U. S. Economy.”

Astros, City of Houston break ground on Turner Park Youth Academy


Major League Baseball (MLB), the Houston Astros, and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) last week broke ground on the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park in a special ceremony. MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon, Houston Astros President of Business Operations Pam Gardner and current and former Astros players were on-hand with State Representative Sylvester Turner, Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Turner and other local dignitaries to inaugurate the future site of the second MLB Urban Youth Academy, which will provide year-round free baseball and softball instruction to local youth ages 7-17.

After the groundbreaking ceremony, which was emceed by Houston Astros Hall of Fame Broadcaster Milo Hamilton, MLB hosted 250 children from the Harris Academy and the local Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) Program presented by KPMG in a youth-oriented event called Wanna Play?, providing various baseball activities such as batting and pitching cages, baserunning contests, wiffle ball games and demonstrations by Houston Astros players Michael Bourn, LaTroy Hawkins and Wesley Wright and Astros Manager Dave Clark.

Located in north Houston, the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park will feature a show field complete with scoreboard; permanent seating for 500 fans, with space for an additional 1,800 fans; dugouts and lights; one auxiliary field; two little league/softball fields and batting cages; and 1,500 square feet of office space and other facilities.

Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros contributed $600,000 to the construction of the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park, which equaled the contributions by both the City of Houston and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park will staff local high school, collegiate, current and former professional ballplayers to help run the different Major League-caliber training camps and clinics throughout the year. It will offer the free programs to a minimum of 2,500 youth.

Additional instructors, collegiate coaches, scouts, and certified athletic trainers will also work with young athletes at the Academy. The Academy will open its doors to all who want to participate from the Houston area with enrollment open year-round. In addition to baseball and softball instruction, boys and girls attending the Houston Astros MLB Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park will be given the opportunity to participate in free seminars on umpiring, athletic field management, scouting and player development, sports and broadcast journalism, public relations and statistics, as well as athletic sports training.