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Posts published in “Day: November 18, 2014”

Aldine hears NCI “voices”

ALDINE – The auditorium in Hambrick Middle School was filled to capacity last Thursday night, as the Aldine community heard a presentation from Neighborhood Centers Inc. on their completed study “VOICES FORUM”.

The material presented, in the form of dialogue from speakers and members of the community that were interviewed by NCI staff, presented a picture of the needs and desires of the East Aldine community that will be the focus of servies offered by the Neighborhood Centers, according to the opening speech made by Angela Blanchard, CEO of NCI.

Over 100 people from Aldine were interviewed and recorded in the process, according to Jose Rivera who led the sessions.

Emcees for the evening were NCI’s Carlos Paz, and MacArthur Homecoming Queen Bianca Hampton.

Blanchard said that NCI only goes where it is asked, but the Aldine project is well underway. She said that $1 million has been pledged from one donor, and two others have offered a total of $5 million. The project NCI proposes is a 20,000 square foot community center, with social services, business incubator, workforce services, financial services, and much more. She said the total project will cost about $20 million.

The Voices Forum found these strengths in Aldine:

1. Hardworking individuals who value their independence.

2. An education system that the community is proud of, and connects with the people.

3. People who are likely to stay in Aldine because it is home and they feel like they belong there.

These points were presented in talks, in a video presentation, and with printed materials.

The speakers each presented their viewpoints on the Aldine community, and their interest and belief in the future of the district.

There were a number of touching highlights to the program, including an opening choral number by the Hambrick Choir, and a welcome from principal Rebecca Hoyt.

State Representative Armando Walle, who is a resident of Aldine, and attended Hambrick MS and MacArthur High School, summed up the evening with a moving talk, about why he ran for office. He said that his main motivation was to see how he could help improve his community, and now he felt that the NCI proposal was “Transformative” and that everyone in the room, in fact in the community, would benefit. “This is it” he said, referring to why he ran for office, and how he could help Aldine. “This is a great foundation for everyone in this room.”

He ended with a passionate “I love this community.”

Neighborhood Centers is the largest community develoopment organization in the region that helps low-income families in emerging neighborhoods get a foothold in Houston’s booming economy.

With more than 100 years of experience and history, NCI knows what really works. Working side by side with community members, NCI discovers their strengths, craft a collective vision and design a plan to make their aspirations a reality. NCI does this by asking the right questions. They listen. And they harness the power of leaders already found in the community. Together, they create relevant solutions that matter for our neighbors — that give them access to regional opportunities. “Simply put, we build upon what works.”

Morman speaks on “Future of Pct. 2”

NORTHEAST – Speaking at the monthly meeting of the North Houston Association, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman outlined “The Future of Precinct 2” for the audience. The event took place at the Marriott Airport Hotel last Thursday, Oct. 30.

The luncheon also served as the annual meeting of the NHA, presided over by Judge Jon Lindsay, NHA President, and Paula Lenz, NHA Executive Director.

Commissioner Morman set the context for his talk by noting that Harris County was growing at a rate of 13% in the last 3 years, and that meant that the county had to grow services and transportation to meet the needs that were created. He noted that the transportation infrastructure was now at capacity, and urged attendees to approve Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot, which would provide additional funding for highways.

He said that the County had recently passed their 2015 budget, and that even with increases in many departments, it was balanced with no tax increase, due to higher assessed values related to population growth.

Morman spoke in detail about project in his Precinct 2 that are planned to be built to meet the growth needs.

He said that there are four projects planned for the next few years, that will cost about 2 billion dollars. As early as 2017, he expects construction to start on a new bridge over the ship channel, to supplement or replace the current toll bridge at the East Loop. with a new bridge, plus a replacement, there would be 4 lanes in each direction where there are now only two narrow lanes each way.

In conjunction with these new bridges, he says the county is planning on widening the East Loop.

Also in planning stages are an expansion of Highway 146 through Baytown and Mont Belvieu, and additional lanes for the Hardy Toll Road, especially in the northern section near the new ExxonMobil development.

Morman noted that he has 15 cities within Precinct 2, and he has projects underway in all of the cities. He said that the success of all these projects is partnerships, with the state and various municipalities to provide funding and planning.

He noted a number of road projects in the precinct, especially FM2100 from Barrett Station/FM1942 to Huffman/FM1960. He characterized this project as the key to opening up the whole Northeast Harris County area for growth.

Crosby-Lynchburg Road will be widened in two phases, he said. Phase I is in design, and will cost $4.2 million. It consists of a 5 land concrete curb and gutter road with sidewalks on one side, and will run from 1942 to Arcadian Lane in Barrett Station. This coincides with a TxDOT project to widen the road from FM1942 to US90.

In Phase II of this project, the roadway will be widened with a similar design, from Arcadian Lane to Magnolia Street in Barrett, at a cost of $3.58 million.

Crosby-Lynchburg Road is the only North-South route from I-10 at Lynchburg, to FM1960 in Huffman, and traffic jams of several miles long occur frequently because it is now only two lanes in many places, he said. These projects are meant to resolve that problem.

The audience at the North Houston Association luncheon included many developers and engineers, who appreciated the update, and the initiatives that Pct. 2 Harris County has put into its plans.

Morman’s Pct. 2 includes almost a million residents, has 1300 miles of county roads, the Lynchburg Ferry and the Washburn Tunnel. It also includes 10 community centers, 50 parks, and 380 employees.

His top priority, he said, is economic growth in East Harris County, by improving the infrastructure and developing a business friendly environment in county government.

House Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

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(Washington, DC) – On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 5682 to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. The bill passed with a vote of 252-161. Congressman Gene Green released the following statement in response:

“I’m pleased that H.R. 5682 passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming support, and it’s about time. The Keystone XL pipeline is the most scrutinized project in recent history; it’s become a political target.ÿ It’s a good thing we don’t build rail, highways, bridges or airports the way we are trying to build Keystone XL or we’d all be walking.ÿPipelines are like rail, roads, bridges, and airports, they tie our commerce together. America needs the KXL infrastructure to create a North American energy market and tie our energy markets together.ÿ We need the bill to pass both chambers, so that we can resolve this problem and focus on other important issues as we head into a new session of Congress.”