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Posts published in November 2009

Local businessman Shami makes it official; will run for governor


HOUSTON – Last week local businessman Farouk Shami ended all speculation and announced he is running for Texas governor as a Democrat in 2010.

On Nov. 19 he announced his intention at a press conference at his factory, CHI USA located in the Greenspoint area.

“I am ready to bring the values that motivated me every day in my own life, and in my career into Texas state government,” stated Shami. “I am running for Governor because I am tired of the influence that lobbyists and special interests have in Austin. And instead of taking money from the taxpayers, I will serve as Governor for a $1 a year in pay. This state has given me plenty – now it’s time for me to give back.”

Forty-four years ago, Shami arrived with $71 in his pocket and invented the first ammonia free hair lightener and coloring system.

This experience inspired him to spend more time thinking about how to solve problems. In 1992, he invented a process for the use of silk molecules in hair products and developed the BioSilk line. Nine years later, he helped to pioneer thermal tool technology and invented the CHI ceramic line. Four years ago, he turned to a NASA scientist, Dr. Dennis Morrison, to create even more innovative, safer, and environmentally friendly products.

As Governor of Texas he said he would create new jobs, improve education, reform health care, fix state government, and protect the environment. Shami said he knows how the economy works because he has built a business from the ground up that employs thousands of people and exports to 114 countries. He said that he understands the challenges of health care because he provides health care for his employees.

He also built his company to be environmentally friendly and owns three ranches in Texas, where he planted 10,000 olive trees to be used as ingredients for the CHI Organics line.

The candidate said he wants to use his lifelong passion for education to improve public schools because he believes that education is the key to giving children the tools they need in order to be strong in the future.

“I know this race will not be easy. But who would have thought only a few years ago that a young man named Barack Hussein Obama could be elected to the most powerful job on earth,” stated Shami. “It could only happen here in America. I think the time has come for our Democratic Party here in Texas to show our state and nation that we will not be limited by stereotypes of the past or the old ways of thinking. We will not be limited in what we can achieve if we put our faith, hope, and trust in the principles that inspired this great nation and are at the heart of this great state—a belief in freedom and equality, a recognition that if you work hard and achieve you can accomplish anything in life, and a knowledge that our greatest responsibility is to leave this world in a better condition than it was left to us.”

Airline District receives $2.3M for transportation projects

By Teri Koerth
For the Northeast News

The Airline District has received notice from the Houston-Galveston Area Council that it will be receiving $2.3 million in Transportation Improvement Funds to move forward with 11 proposed projects that were listed in its Pedestrian and Bicyclist Special District Study completed in March.

The Airline District will also be funding a portion of the project, for a total of 2.9 million in improvements to the area. The enhancements will include pedestrian and bicyclist improvements as well as projects that are designed to improve traffic congestion. Included in the list of projects are sidewalks along Airline Drive between Gulf Bank and Canino Road, sidewalks along some sections of Canino Road adjacent to Moreno Elementary as well as sidewalks along Aldine Mail Route from Airline Drive to Sweeney Road.

The project also includes a proposed median, as well as 2 additional crosswalks in the 8700-8900 block of Airline Drive as well as several other additional enhancements. The Airline District is currently in the contract negotiation process with TXDOT who will oversee the projects.

Also ongoing is the District’s application to the Texas Water Development Board’s Economically Distressed Areas Program.

The Department of State Health Services will be in the area in December to 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.

If these conditions are prevalent the District could receive funds for the Planning, Acquisition and Design of a water and wastewater project. The project would be for a section of the District that currently qualifies for these types of funds based on current census data.

The District continues to provide a Graffiti Abatement Program whereby the abatement crew can color match, paint or power wash graffiti which is reported within the boundaries of the District.

Additionally, the District continues its Nuisance and Abatement program which is designed to address nuisance violations in the area. These programs along with its Contract Deputy Program are designed to assist with crime prevention and help economic revitalization in the area.

The District’s last Board Meeting was Nov. 19, at the Little York Fire Department located at 10410 Airline Drive. The public is welcome at all board meetings.

Search on for missing MacArthur student


Houston police and Texas EquuSearch are searching for clues that will lead them to a MacArthur student missing since Nov. 14.

Brittany Garza, 15, was last seen on Nov. 14 around 7:20 p.m. near Hwy. 59 and Little York. She was wearing a black shirt, blue jean shorts and black Nike shoes.

She is 5’1”, 130 pounds with brown hair and a medium complexion.

Anyone with information is asked to contact HPD Officer Johnson at 713-731-5410 or Texas EquuSearch at 877-270-9500 or 281-309-9500.

To store or not to store…


It is going to be a race as to what comes first, the first frost or the making of tomatoes in the garden. Finally got some blooms on the tomato plants and they will make if given enough time. If the tomatoes do make, they will eventually end up in some glass jars with my chowchow makings.

Me and the Mrs. celebrated our fortieth anniversary recently and drove her new car to Lake Rayburn where we stayed at a bed and breakfast. While up there, we looked and looked for a place on the water to consider purchasing. She has told me when she plans to retire and we hope move at that time. After we rode all over the place, she made the comment, “I don’t know if I want to live this far out from everything.” So what does that tell you?

Anyway, we looked at numerous places on the water and the thought of moving to the lake is getting about as much fan fare as us moving to the Smokey Mountains. That is not going to happen ‘cause I’ll not move anywhere it snows. Besides all those deer around the lake would be in my garden.

Have been assigned the task of cleaning out the garage so the new car can be parked inside. Not only is the garage full but one of the twins use it as his storage shed too, rent free mind you. Got two of everything from shovels, rakes to pump and sprayer. He has a welding machine in there, now that might be fun to play with but I don’t even know how to turn it on yet. Thinking about getting a rental storage place or having another shed built around back. Does that make sense to build a place to store junk?

If I could keep her out of the resale stores on the weekend there would not be as much junk accumulated. Got more shirts now than I ever had in my life. Probably get a couple more with Christmas coming around the corner. Those resale stores are the very reason she does not want to move to the lake. She has six stores she tries to checkout every other weekend, Sand Dollar, Bluebird, The Guild, Value Village, Houston Area Ministries and one more. Reckon I should be thankful she does more looking than buying.

Horns face tough road test at A&M


Before we delve into this week’s game, I’d like to wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Even during these tough economic times, we have so much to be thankful for, namely living in the great country on the face of the earth. You have to love living in a land where we dedicate an entire day to feeding ourselves, and watching football from noon until midnight. What a country!

Speaking of football, there will be plenty of it this Thanksgiving weekend and even though the college season is winding down, there are still a number of key games to be played in the next two weeks.

One of those games comes Thursday night when the Texas Longhorns travel to College Station to take on their arch rivals, the Texas A&M Aggies in a prime time affair on ESPN. Texas should enter this game having already wrapped up the Big 12 South title (they would have accomplished that with a win at home over Kansas this past Saturday) and a trip to the Big South title game Dec. 5 in Arlington. Mack Brown’s team knows even one loss this late in the season could ruin their chance of landing a spot in the BCS title game opposite the winner of the Alabama-Florida game, also set for Dec. 5. The Aggies would love nothing more than to spoil UT’s season, so expect a fired up bunch of Ags come Thursday night.

On Sunday, the Texans host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts could still be undefeated when they arrive at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. They did have to play at Baltimore last Sunday against a Ravens team that is playing for its playoff life from here on out. Even if the Colts come in with one loss, they are still the best team in the AFC and if the Texans are serious about earning a playoff slot, they will have to start beating the best teams in their conference to make other AFC teams take notice. This should be a good one to watch this Sunday.

Before we take a look at those two games and a host of others, let’s review last week’s record. An 8-4 mark upped the season record to 74-53 (58 percent). Time is running short, which means it’s time to put a run together to get over the 60 percent mark.

NCAA

Texas at Texas A&M: You can throw out the records when these two bitter rivals square off in Kyle Field on Thanksgiving night. The Aggies know a win over Texas will make their season and with this being the 10th anniversary of the tragic bonfire accident, which claimed the lives of 12 Aggies, A&M will be doubly fired up when the Longhorns come calling. UT quarterback Colt McCoy and his mates are well aware of the troubles they’ve had with the Aggies since they put on the orange and white uniforms. They have lost two of the last three meetings with the Aggies, but this is a mentally stronger Texas squad and it knows it cannot afford any slip-ups at this point of the season. Texas struggled in the running game early in the season, but it appears they have found a solution with the insertion of bullish tailback Cody Johnson into the starting lineup. The 250-pounder has power and enough speed to keep defenses honest. While Johnson has added another dimension to the UT offense, look for McCoy to factor more in the running game starting Thursday night against the Aggies. My pick, Texas 31, Texas A&M 23

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: This has been a tough year for Bob Stoops and the Sooners. Injuries have decimated a team that had high hopes entering the season. Oklahoma State also entered the year with BCS dreams, but an early-season loss to Houston and a subsequent loss to Texas pretty much dashed those hopes. The Cowboys can still pick up their 10th win of the season and probably a Cotton Bowl berth with a win at Norman, which is easier, said than done. OU plays well at home, just ask the Aggies. Two weeks ago, the Sooners took the Aggies apart en route to a 65-10 victory. I don’t expect OU to put up 65 points on an OSU squad that has an explosive offense of its own, but I do look for the Sooners to pull out all the stops as they look to avoid losing for a fifth time this season. This should be a high-scoring game, but the nod goes to the home standing Sooners who play better defense than do the Cowboys. My pick, Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 34

Alabama at Auburn: It’s been stated in this space for years that this is one of the nastiest rivalries in the history of college football. These two schools literally hate one another, which only fuels the fire when their football teams meet on the gridiron. This is a tough game for the Crimson Tide to play what with the SEC title game against Florida looming in a week. Nick Saban does not want to suffer any major injuries in what should be a very physical football game, but don’t look for Saban to rest any of his key starters on either side of the football. He knows his troops need to be razor sharp heading to Atlanta for their showdown with Tim Tebow and the Gators, so look for the Tide to roll early and take an Auburn team that has struggled since the midway point of the season out before halftime. Look for running back Mark Ingram to have a big game as he states his case in the Heisman Trophy race. My pick, Alabama 33, Auburn 15

Notre Dame at Stanford: Prior to the start of the 2008 season, Notre Dame fans had high hopes that this would be the year head coach Charlie Weiss delivered on his promise to make the Irish relevant again as a top 10 program and a player in the BCS title hunt. Well, those dreams have been dashed as ND entered last Saturday’s game at home against Connecticut with four losses and rising speculation that Weiss will be removed as head coach at the end of this season. And while many Irish fans circled this one as a win, they may be pulling out the erasers after seeing what Stanford has done in the last few weeks. They blew out Oregon earlier this month and followed that impressive win up with a 55-21 trouncing at USC. Stanford has the nation’s leading rusher in senior tailback Toby Gerhart. Gerhart is a punishing runner and that’s not good news for a Notre Dame defense that gives up chunks of yards and is not the best tackling bunch around. If the Irish hope to hang around in this one on Saturday night, they’d better hope quarterback Jimmy Clausen and the offense rediscover the magic they had earlier in the season, if not, this could be another long night for Weiss and his team. It says here, Irish eyes won’t be smiling after this one and the powers that be will either have to pay Weiss $18 million to part company, or give him one more year to turn things around. My pick, Stanford 36, Notre Dame 24

NFL

Green Bay at Detroit: The Lions host the annual Thanksgiving kickoff game and this year, they should give the Packers a game. Sure, Detroit has one win, but this team plays hard and has a talented, young quarterback in Matthew Stafford. That being said, the Lions will be taking on a Packers team that got itself back into the NFC Wild Card hunt thanks to its 17-7 win over Dallas two weeks ago. If the Packer defense plays like it did against the Cowboys, they should be able to pick up the win on Thursday. Look for GB QB Aaron Rodgers to have a big day as he attacks the Lions’ secondary early and often. Detroit will make this a competitive game, but the Packers’ experience and weapons on offense should be the difference in this one. My pick, Green Bay 30, Detroit 22

Oakland at Dallas: Just what the doctor ordered for the Cowboys after stinking things up two weeks ago at Green Bay. The Raiders are the tonic for any team that is ailing, especially a team that is a serious playoff contender as the Cowboys are. They didn’t look like much of a playoff game two weeks ago against the Packers, but perhaps that game served as a wake up call for this team. The Cowboys are a good team, but not a great one and it appeared too many of them were reading their press clippings after their win at Philadelphia the week before. The Green Bay game was a slap in the face, especially to the offense that hard its worst game of the season. Quarterback Tony Romo and mates need to come out smoking against an Oakland team that is down right awful. Get the running game going, which should open up Romo’s passing game. Defensively, look for DeMarcus Ware and Co. to make it a long and unhappy Thanksgiving Day for Oakland QB Jemarcus Russell. My pick, Dallas 31, Oakland 13

New York Giants at Denver: The Thanksgiving Day triple-header concludes that night when the Giants travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. This is an important game for both teams who after getting off to strong starts have struggled in the last month. The Giants won their first five games before losing four straight, while the Broncos won their first six before losing four straight, so something has to give in this one. Look for the Giants to establish the running game early, while the Broncos will look to attack a beat up NY secondary by sending Brandon Marshall deep. Kyle Orton sustained a sprained ankle two weeks ago against the Redskins, but he should be ready to go Thursday night. Something tells me the high altitude will also play a factor in this one as the Broncos get back on the winning side of things. My pick, Denver 23, New York 20

Arizona at Tennessee: The Cardinals take on a Titans team that has suddenly found new life with Vince Young at quarterback and it helps that running back Chris Johnson has become the leading rusher in the NFL and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field thanks to his blazing speed. But the Cards are proving to be true road warriors this season as they’ve won four road games thus far this season. Kurt Warner will face an improving Titans defense, but he should make all the plays he needs thanks to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquin Bolden. Look for the Titans to once again feed Johnson the ball, but he will be facing a stiff run defense. This should be an entertaining game to watch, but something tells me Young will be the difference maker in this one as the Titans continue their winning ways. My pick, Tennessee 26, Arizona 23

Indianapolis at Houston: This is the Texans’ chance to send a statement to the rest of the NFL that they can play with the best teams in the NFL. It won’t be easy, but the Texans have played the Colts tough at home the last three years. It will be imperative for the offense to get off to a good start against an Indy defense that is beaten up, especially in the secondary. Look for Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub to have big days against the Colts secondary as the Texans come out slinging the ball all over the yard. But the Colts have a pretty fair QB of their own in Peyton Manning, who is having a MVP type season. He has a pretty decent WR to throw to himself in Reggie Wayne, who is having one of the best years of his career. This should be a high-scoring game, but something tells me Manning will make one more play than Schaub to pull out the victory. My pick, Indianapolis 31, Houston 27

Carolina at New York Jets: The Jets started off like gangbusters but have cooled off dramatically in the last five weeks, while the Panthers started off poorly and have turned things around thanks to their strong running game led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. That’s bad news for a Jets team that has had trouble stopping the run as of late. Look for another big rushing day from Carolina and look for their defense to pressure Jets’ rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez into a couple of key turnovers that should make the difference in this one. My pick, Carolina 24, New York Jets 18

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: Hide the women and children when as these two hard hitters and bitter rivals get it on on Sunday night in front of a national television audience on NBC. Last year, the Steelers defeated the Ravens three times en route to their sixth Super Bowl title. The Steelers know they need to win this one if they hope to defense their division title. They suffered a big blow two weeks ago when they lost to Cincinnati for the second time this season, which basically is a two-game swing in the division. The Ravens are also a desperate team and can ill afford too many more losses if they hope to return to the playoffs. Both defenses should dominate this game, but the edge goes to the Steelers because they have the better quarterback in Ben Rothlisberger. Sure, Big Ben did not have his best day against the Bengals, but he’s a proven big-game performer and enjoys playing under the bright lights. My pick, Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 17

New England at New Orleans: The folks at ESPN have to be thanking their lucky stars, and the NFL schedule maker, that they landed this one for Monday Night Football. This game will pit two of the league’s best quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Drew Brees so expect plenty of offensive fireworks on Monday night. Two weeks ago, the Pats lost a heartbreaking 35-34 decision at Indianapolis when head coach Bill Belichick’s gamble on fourth down backfired. Don’t expect the Hoodie to make that mistake this time around. The Saints have taken on all challengers this year and beaten every one of them (heading into last Sunday’s game), but they showed a bit of a chink in their armor two weeks ago when the Rams were able to have a lot of success running the football. The Pats don’t have a Steven Jackson on their team, but look for them to run it when the Saints least expect it. Brady will come out flinging it as well as he and Randy Moss are having a lot of success with the deep routes this year. The Saints will also run at the Pats, but their bread and butter is Brees and the host of talented receivers he has at his disposal. The Saints want to prove to the rest of the NFL that they can beat the league’s best, and I expect them to treat this game like a playoff game. The Dome will be rocking as this one turns into a shootout with Brees making a play late to lead the Saints to victory. My pick, New Orleans 34, New England 31

COMMUTER ALERT: Sam Houston Parkway to be widened in both directions between I-45 and Hardy Toll Road


Roadway widening of the Sam Houston Parkway in both directions between I-45 and Hardy Toll Road is expected to begin in the near future, according to the Greenspoint District. When completed, the TXDOT widening project will provide more spacious lanes and improve mobility along the corridor, which is one of the area’s most highly-traveled highways. The project is expected to take approximately two years to complete.

The project is comprised of two components. The first is widening by adding two lanes at the Imperial Valley bridge, as well as re-striping the remaining roadway to accommodate five lanes of traffic. The second component is reconstruction and expansion of the frontage roads, increasing them from two lanes to three lanes.

“Commuters are currently experiencing the initial impact of this project due to the relocation of multiple utilities to prepare for construction, including the gas, water and fiber optic cables in the area,” said Bart Baker, Greenspoint District vice president of Planning, Operations & Infrastructure. “Lane closures for utility relocations began in September, and the construction schedule is being finalized at this time.

“Work on widening the main lanes of I-45 will take place first, and there are not expected to be major lane closures during this phase of construction,” said Baker. “The expansion of the frontage roads will follow, with some lane closures expected. The Greenspoint District is already working actively with the City and TXDOT to establish alternate routes and detours to minimize inconveniences to area motorists.”

When completed, the new road infrastructure will include new sidewalks, new storm drainage system and other amenities. Baker noted that the project is a collaborative effort between the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) and TXDOT.

Moving out, moving on

By Angie Liang

This past summer has been one of milestones. Along with my own Masters graduation, my sister graduated from high school in two different ceremonies. For those of you who do not know, my sister has mild mental retardation. She does not always know how to think about herself, because she isn’t “normal,” yet her developmental disabilities are not as severe as most of her peers.

Her first graduation was at the private school she attended for high school. It concentrates on special education and has been wonderful for her development. The ceremony was intimate, and my sister spoke to the parents and teachers about her gratitude and aspirations, like attending the community college special education vocational program. I admit, as with all her ice-skating and music recitals, I teared up.

The second graduation was at the public school she is zoned to. She wanted to attend this ceremony because it was what a “normal” teenager would do. My sister has sat through three of my graduations, all of which were large, extravagant events. She understood and craved the ceremonial rite of passage of hearing her name, walking across the stage, and receiving her diploma. So my parents worked with the school and the school district to ensure her right to walk across that stage.

Thus, after 21 years, my sister graduated from high school. To be honest, I really never thought this day would arrive. The day she would finish school. The day she would decide she must go to college. The day she would move out.

My sister’s graduation and move are just a small part of our story. My family has come a long way — from bearing the burden alone and not knowing what to do, to creating a nonprofit organization and interacting with other families openly. And my sister, well, she is making decisions. She is moving into a group home and continuing her education.

Of course, none of this has been easy. Even though moving to a group was my sister’s wish, she is met with mixed feelings about it. She understands this is a necessary step into her future, but at the same time she is uncomfortable with so much change. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before — when she switched schools or a friend moved away — so we know she will adjust and be happy. As will we.

There are many families with stories of sons and daughters who were able to reach these accomplishments and make transitions successfully. I hope that they all share their stories, because I believe that this support, sharing, and understanding is what helps other families with similar situations make it through. It certainly helped mine.

It took my family over a decade of strength, perseverance, and openness to just get where we are today. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. But as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and friends, we all have to make the journey together. It will never end, but it will always be worth it.