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Posts published in January 2015

County Judges tell of future for North Houston

GREENSPOINT – The North Houston Association luncheon featured reports from two county judges on “Growth Perspectives”.

It also recognized Harris County Engineer Arthur Storey on his retirement, citing the importance of his work across all the county and region.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett noted in his presentation that the county is the 3rd largest in the U.S., with 4.5 million residents. His message was that the county and the city of Houston are becoming more alike, and that a regional approach to governing would be best.

On the negative side, he mentioned suburban poverty, indigent healthcare, and homeless problems. He also cited the stress on transportation and crime that population growth has brought to the area.

As chairman of the Transportation Policy Committe of greater Houston, he is planning for solutions such as an I-69 bypass, and more rail transportation, to deal with the increased volume.

He feels that a regional government voice would be better able to explain our problems to the Legislature, and find solutions with the state cooperating.

Judge Craig Doyal noted that this was his first term as a judge, although he has been county commissioner prior to this.

He noted the strong growth in his county, and northern sections of Harris County adjacent to Montgomery County. Special mention was made of the new ExxonMobil development near the county line and I-45.

Doyal mentioned the importance of partnerships to manage growth. He related the tale of how Highway 249 had been on the drawing boards for decades, but only now through cooperative effort will its extension open in the next few weeks.

Also mentioned was the help of the San Jacinto River Authority to partner in the widening of Highway 105 near Conroe.

Doyal said that his county is preparing to issue a Bond referendum in May, to pay for the growth needs of the county.

Highlights of Montgomery County’s growth that he noted were a successful tax abatement program. This is resulting in a $300 million dollar investment in a new company, that will bring 300 new jobs to the county. This is through work of the Conroe EDC, he noted.

Another example of a successful enterprise is the Lone Star Executive Airport, that now has a runway almost as long as Hobby Airport, and that can accept international flights.

Doyal said that high on the priority list is the management of the water supply, which will be critical in the future to quality of life issues, and economic development.

Aldine “State of School District” delivers a positive report card

ALDINE – The annual State of the District report and breakfast was held last Friday, Jan. 23 at the Sheraton on JFK, with about 400 staff, administrators, and community partners attending.

Congressman Gene Green opened the event, with remarks on his support of the district. His children attended Aldine schools, he said, and his wife taught Algebra until her recent retirement.

Superintendent Wanda Bamberg welcomed the large audience, and explained that she had enlisted students from the various campuses to help her present the information about the state of the district.

Student presenters included Ebony James of Nimitz HS, Bruce Westbrook of Carver HS, Ida Hernandez of MacArthur HS, Marisol Diaz of Aldine HS, Marco Medina of Eisenhower HS, Oscar Cruz of Victory Early College HS, Mariel Moreno of Hall Center for Education, and Brytanny McClendon of Eisenhower HS.

Abel Garza was recognized as the new Asst. Superintendent for Government and Community Affairs.

Among the facts presented by the group, it was noted that the student population continues to grow, and is now 69,716 students. It was noted through slides that At Risk students comprised 71% of the population, but the attendance rate was improved from last year. Ethnic makeup of the district is now 71% Hispanic, 24% Afro-American, and 5% Anglo. The district is now accommodating students from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Hondurus as well as Mexico.

Bamberg noted that academic achievement lags behind state averages in all areas. Seven campuses have been designated as “Improvement Required” an advance over last year when 20 campuses were so rated. However, 3 campuses are now required by the state to be “reconstituted” due to two years of poor student results. These are Smith, Hall, and Nimitz HS. Bamberg explained how the district had put together a plan and a team headed by a Janet Ray, District Improvement Officer to deal with these problem campuses and achieve results.

Student presentations included information on End of Class tests, extra curricular activities, Aldine Education Foundation, college planning, and more.

Bamberg noted that the district was in much better financial shape this year, with some state money having been restored, and the new session of the Legislature being asked to restore more money.

Other issues that are being asked from the Legislature, include full-day funding for PreK, funds for more instructional materials, funds for recent arrivals who have additional needs in education and social and emotional areas, funding for additional facilities, reduction of testing requirement, and allowing districts to have more local control.

The total budget for the next year is $598 million, but the tax rate has been reduced from $1.31/100 to $1.28/100.

Construction is continuing on three new buildings, an elementary school at Cypress Point, and a child nutrition center and an education center for COMPASS/GAP being built on Aldine-Bender Road.

A Multi-Stake Steering Committee has been formed, she said, to make plans for future growth in population, curriculum and technology, and will report to the board in July.

She asked the audience to look at the new website for the district, which will also include more Spanish text.

TEEN CHARGED IN MacARTHUR STUDENT DEATH

Charges have been filed against Eddie M. Herrera, 18, arrested in the death of a MacArthur student found at 425 North Sam Houston Parkway East about 9:20 a.m. on May 17, 2014.

Herrera is accused for his role in the death of his girlfriend, Jacqueline Gomez, 17, of Houston.

Ms. Gomez, a MacArthur high school senior, attended her prom the previous evening and then returned to a room at the Hyatt Regency North, along with her boyfriend. The boyfriend stated they consumed alcohol before falling asleep in the room. When Ms. Gomez’s boyfriend woke in the morning, he could not wake up Gomez. Houston Fire Department personnel responded and pronounced her deceased.

Further investigation identified Herrera as the suspect in this case. He was arrested on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and allegedly admitted to choking Gomez during the evening.

Herrera is charged with aggravated assault and not murder as the motive and official cause of Gomez’s death remain under investigation.

Triple homicide at auto dealer on Little York

NORTHEAST – Houston Police are investigating a shooting that took the lives of three men at their place of business, Immaculate Auto Sales at 202 Little York near Airline Drive. The men were shot about 11:45 a.m. inside the offices of their used car lot.

Dead at the scene were Jesse Contreras 51, and Tony Contreras 60, who were brothers. Also shot was Casey Contreras 22, Tony’s son, who died later after being transported to Ben Taub hospital in critical condition. All three men were shot in the head.

Homicide officers Sgt. Brian Harris and Officer M. Waters II reported that the bodies were discovered by an employee on the floor of the office.

A motive is not known, and police are looking at robbery or an unhappy customer as possibilities. The business handled repossessions and late payments, and sales.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the HPD Homicide Division, at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477)l

Davis’ Showers, Eisenhower’s Bamburg named NE News’ Co-Coaches of the Year

The 2014 District 18-6A football title was shared by three teams, Aldine ISD’s Davis High and Eisenhower High and Memorial High of Spring Branch ISD.

Each team beat one another in key games to force the three-way tie, and so it would only be natural to name Davis High head coach James Showers and Eisenhower High head coach Kerry Bamburg as the Northeast News’ Co-Coaches of the Year.

Showers helped lead the Falcons to a share of the league title and a playoff berth in their first year of varsity football (the school opened in 2012 and played a junior varsity schedule its first two years), while Bamburg led his team to eight victories in his second year as the Eagle’s head coach after serving as an assistant coach/defensive coordinator for 15 years at Aldine High School, his high school alma mater.

KERRY BAMBURG

After playing for legendary Aldine High head coach Bill Smith as a linebacker and defensive end, Bamburg attended Texas A&M University where he earned his degree and spent time around Aggie coaches and athletes who encouraged him to remain in athletics.

He’s glad he took their advice.

Bamburg began his coaching career in 1995 at Aldine High School working for Smith as a defensive assistant. In 2005, he moved to Caney Creek High School where he served as defensive coordinator and then moved to Smiley High School in from 2006-2009 to serve as the school’s assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. He returned to his roots in 2009 to serve as Aldine High’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator before being named Eisenhower’s head coach in 2013.

He said playing for and working under Smith was the best experience a young coach could ask for.

“Coach Smith taught me how to run an athletic program, to treat people the right way and that winning is expected and losing is unacceptable,” Bamburg said. “He always reminded us as a staff that when we won it was because of what the kids did, and when we lost it was because of something we didn’t do as coaches.”

In addition to learning from Smith, perhaps the most successful coach in Aldine ISD history and the winner of more than 200 games and the 1990 Class 5A state championship title, Bamburg also credits former Eisenhower High head coaches Pat Patterson and Richard Carson and Aldine ISD Director of Athletics with having a profound influence on his career.

“Mr. Delgado kept the pressure on me to always strive to be better and not to be satisfied with things, whether they were good or bad. He also kept on me to get my master’s degree, and am I ever thankful that he did.”

Bamburg said he enjoys coaching because it affords him the opportunity to reach out to young men.

“Coaching provides a great opportunity to influence, develop and impact the lives of young men each and every day,” he said.

He said he was proud of what his team accomplished during the 2014 season and looks forward to many more successful years at Eisenhower.

“This was such a special team this year,” Bamburg said. “They did some things that a lot of people said they couldn’t do, including winning a share of the district title, having the first winning record in several years and continuing the school’s consecutive playoff streak. This was a fun team to coach. They played with a lot of heart and they had fun at practice and in games.”

Bamburg and his wife Carrie have a daughter Michelle and a son Keegan.

JAMES SHOWERS

Showers did not see himself as a coach when he graduated from Sul Ross State. He wanted to go into law enforcement or business, but was persuaded to serve as a student assistant at his alma mater.

Twenty-five years later, he’s still coaching and loving every minute of it.

Showers played defensive back at Sul Ross State University and after three years as a graduate assistant, he served for two years as the head football coach at Sierra Blanca High School, then spent five years at Fort Stockton High School as an assistant coach and head track coach before moving to Shoemaker High School in Killeen where he served as the school’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for 12 years. In 2012, he was provided with the opportunity to begin a program from scratch when he was named Davis High School’s first-ever head football coach.

“Once I got into coaching, I felt I had an immediate impact on the player’s lives and decisions they made so I thought, ‘why not try to impact young men’s lives before the police do.’”

Showers said his most influential mentor was his former coach Ken Gray. He said when Coach Gray spoke, he listened and learned much from him.

“I could always tell when he spoke to you, he spoke from the heart,” Showers said. “Whether he was giving you a pat on the back or fussing at you, it came from his heart. When I got into coaching and decided I was going to be a high school coach, he was the first person I contacted for knowledge and advice. I also got the privilege of working with him at Shoemaker for 12 seasons. He is the second best man I’ve ever met because my Dad is No. 1!”

Showers said it’s important for a coach at any level to gain the trust of his players. Once that trust is established, good things will follow.

Like they did for the Falcons during the 2014 season. After a slow start, the Falcons got things going in district play and picked up a key win over Eisenhower to secure a playoff spot.

Showers said he enjoyed this year’s team and is looking forward to bigger and better things in the future at Davis.

“This year’s team was an absolute pleasure to coach,” Showers said. “It is very rare that a group of young men can come from so many different (middle) schools and put together a season of accomplishments the way these young men did this year. They competed against each other for years and had to learn to become unselfish in a short amount of time. This group of football players has set the tone for Davis Football for years to come. I’m very proud of them and privileged to be a part of it.”

Showers and his wife Shauna, who is an assistant principal at MacArthur High School, have a son and a daughter. Their son Jameill is the starting quarterback for the University of Texas El-Paso and their daughter Hailee was a multi-sport athlete at Nimitz High School. She currently attends Navarro College in Corsicana on a volleyball scholarship and is considering offers from the University of Houston, Arkansas, McNeese State, Texas A&M Kingsville and Midwestern State University.

AISD Trustees appoint Paul Shanklin to fill Dr. Alton Smith’s unexpired term

During the December 16 Board of Education meeting, AISD Trustees appointed Mr. Paul Shanklin to fill the unexpired term of Dr. Alton Smith, who resigned from the Board in November after being elected to the Lone Star College Board.

The recommendation was made by the Board’s Nominating Committee, which was chaired by Dr. Viola M. Garcia. Fellow Trustees Steve Mead and Dr. Smith also served on the committee.

Mr. Shanklin is an attorney and an adjunct professor at the Houston Community College Southeast Campus, where he teaches American and Texas Government. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Houston-Downtown where he teaches Critical Pedagogy and Multicultural Education.

He has volunteered in Aldine schools and has been a resident of the Aldine community for 25 years.

Mr. Shanklin will be sworn in at the January 13 Trustee’s meeting.