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Posts published in August 2016

Town Hall previews next Legislative session

GREENSPOINT – Armando Walle, the State Representative for the Aldine and Greenspoint areas, was the featured speaker at the monthly Town Hall luncheon last Thursday at the ICC Houston Chamber offices.

Walle spoke on a wide range of issues, and attemped to preview the major concerns for the next Legislative session, that starts in January 2017.

He said that three important areas will be dealt with in the budget in 2017. These are Transportation, School Finance & Education, and Health Care.

Walle is on the Budget committee, along with 26 others representatives. He is also on a Federal/state relations committee. There are 150 members in the legislature, and his Democratic party is a minority with 49 members, versus 101 Republicans. There are 31 members of the Senate, he said, 20 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

Walle was first elected to office in 2008, and is in his 4th term. His District is 140. He is a native of the area, having graduated from MacArthur High School. He credits his education there, where he was “mentored to succeed.” Now he intends to pay that back, with service to his community.

The 2017 Legislature will have to deal with a smaller budget than this year, due to reduced sales tax revenue and oil and gas taxes. Last year the bienial budget was about $200 Billion, he said, and already the Governor has asked all departments to propose spending that would be 5% less. However, a separate ballot issue that passed last year, will provide the Transportation Commission with an additional $2.5 Billion for highways and other means of transport, and unlike previous years, 70% of this money is destined for urban counties, not rural.

Walle said that every session, about 7000 bills are introduced, and perhaps 1000 will become law.

Walle spoke about his concerns for those affected by flooding in April of this year. He praised the Aldine ISD and the city for opening shelters. He said the floods exposed those in the community that are vulnerable or poor, and regretted that landlords will be allowed to rebuild rather than remove flood prone properties.

He said that most people are not aware of the resources now being devoted to border security. The state of Texas spent $800 million last year on security forces, and the federal government has increased their budget by four times.

Walle praised efforts in the area to provide more educational opportunities, by Lone Star College and Aldine Early College high schools. He noted that “Education is Economic Development.” He said that although vocational training is good, and getting a lot of attention and resources, he was concerned that the new Lone Star College – North Harris to be built in East Aldine’s Town Center should have equal opportunities with Academic subjects and fields of study.

In a question and answer period that followed, Gerald Overturff of the East Aldine District asked about progress that TxDOT is making to extend Gulf Bank Road through Keith Wiess Park.

Reggie Gray, president of the Chamber, thanked everyone for attending, and announced that the fourth Chamber office, in Stafford, is now open. Additional offices are in Greenspoint, The Woodlands, Galleria, and internationally.

East Aldine District welcomes new board member Silva

ALDINE – The East Aldine board voted to appoint D. Carlos Silva III to an open seat on the district board, at their regular meeting last Tuesday. The position has been open since the death of John Meinke earlier this year.

Silva and his family are businessmen in the Aldine community, and he has participated in a number of workshops sponsored by Neighborhood Centers and the District.

Silva is very familiar with the district, having attended school at Stephens, Grantham, and Nimitz Aldine ISD schools.

Silva has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University, and is the general manager in his family’s business, Tilco Machine Works, Inc. on Sandydale Lane.

With his wife Brook, Silva intends to start another business, a Northside Food Truck Park on the corner of Aldine Westfield Road and Lauder Road. Silva envisions this as a 9 acre entertainment and eating venue, reflective of the nature and spirit of Aldine.

Silva was chosen from an excellent field of candidates, according to nominating committee chair Gilbert Hoffman.

Other candidates included Marina Sugg, Lucy Dillard, and Steven Adame Sr., all of whom were deemed to be superior candidates. Hoffman expressed the hope that they would continue their interest in the District, and be future candidates for the board.

Aldine FHC holds ‘Treasurers Teen Business Luncheon’

By Sylvia Bolling

The Bucker Aldine Family Hope Center was truly proud of their Teen Business Luncheon held Tuesday, August 9th at the Hilton Houston North. Guest speaker was Len Cannon of KHOU television.

This luncheon was the culmination of the 23 teen participants’ 9 week summer program as they became entreprenuers and started the Aldine Treasurers Event Planning Business. They learned how to write a business plan, presented it to a panel of business people, learned about marketing, fundraising, financial accounting, budgeting, career exploration, performed community service, and lots more. We appreciate all the volunteers and guest speakers who helped during the summer program. The business luncheon was planned by the students and they did an impressive presentation for all who attended.

We want to thank all the Event and Table Sponsors, including–Aldine ISD, Allegiance Bank, Christie Brush, East Aldine District, Ferguson Enterprise, Congressman Gene Green, Doug and Pam Mazuir, Joseph Poon, Toribio Andaluz, Randy Pullin, Renee Reimer, State Representative Sefronia Thompson, Toney Construction Services, Woodforest National Bank, and Zinc, Inc. We also appreciate everyone who supported the luncheon by purchasing tickets and attending as special guests. Your support allowed the luncheon to be very successful.

It is important that we recognize and applaud the teens who were so dedicated throughout the summer and completed the 9 week program. They are- Laylah Acosta, Javier Corza, Juan Dominguez, Narda Dominguez, Miguel Flores, Juan Gallegos, Pedro Gonzales, Mark Guerrero, Leonardo Herrera, Alexus Johnson, Justin Kring, Vanessa Leyva, David Lomas, Stephania Mata, Armando Medina, Leandro Mingo, Trevian O’Neil, Ruby Pena, Joseph Prejean, Saul Quintero, Alexandria Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez, and Alondra Zaragoza. It is so important to recognize their positive choice to be involved in a program which will have such a positve impact in their lives.

The net proceeds from the luncheon allows them to help their families by being able to purchase their own school clothes and supplies.

We were blessed to have Len Cannon, KHOU Channel 11, to be the guest speaker and he truly delivered an inspirational message that everyone needed to hear and enjoyed. A very special thanks to the Hilton Houston North Hotel for partnering with the program to allow the students to have the luncheon there and also serve as their job shadowing site throughout the summer.

On behalf of Shawna Roy, Director- Buckner Aldine Famiy Hope Center and Teen Life Skills Trainers Chandra Dean and Wesley Bumpus, we thank all involved for partnering with us to make a positive difference in the lives of our teens and their families.

For more information about the teen program and/or all the other programs and services offered at the Center, call 281-449-4828.

ICC Chamber of Commerce: “State of the School Districts”

HOUSTON – Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce (HICC) held its annual State of the School District where 3 school districts reported to the community last Thursday at Lone Star College (LSC)-North Harris.

Superintendents from Aldine ISD, Klein ISD and Spring ISD exposed current and future plans for each school district as well as statistics.

ALDINE ISD

Aldine School District has over 70,000 students, said Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Aldine ISD Superintendent. With the $798 million bond approved in last’s November 3 elections, Aldine ISD has plans to built additional 10 new campuses, including 1 high school, an additional early college and elementary schools. Johnson and Francis Elementary schools will be torn down and new ones will be built. Also, Aldine and MacArthur High Schools will get a new wing and Carver High School will have major renovations, Dr. Bamberg said. Aldine Education Center was opened last year across from MO Campbell Center on Aldine Bender as well as a Child Nutrition Center, she continued.

The School District also upgraded all GPS on buses and plans to open a transportation center in the northside, this last one will save some money on gas and time since it will be closer to its service area.

Aldine ISD is constantly working to find ways to get additional revenue to provide needed services to students. With local money (and not from the bond), the school district’s office moved to a new building on WW Thorne and also purchased a new building where the central operations, staff development center and the police will be; the buildings of these will become new schools.

Aldine ISD also has plans to create an Heritage Center and Museum to conserve the district’s history.

KLEIN ISD

Moving to the next school district, Klein, Dr. Bret Champion is the new superintendent, he has been with the district for a month and one week. Klein has 51,000 students in which Hispanic students occupy the highest percentage in the district, Dr. Champion mentioned, and 8% are Asian. Klein district is also opening its newest elementary on FM 2920 and its 5th. high school is opening in 2017 which will hold from 3,500 to 4,000 students, he continued.

In technology, Klein has a one-on-one initiative where students get a laptop to take home, this helps them learn digital literacy and explore their natural curiosity. The district plans to increase it, Dr. Champion concluded.

SPRING ISD

Lastly, Dr. Rodney Watson, Spring ISD Superintendent, said on August 22 of this year, the district will have its own Early College; they also are working in partnership with LSC for an Early College program. The district is also getting a new building for additional space for administration, he said. Wunsche Sr. High School has received the highest rank, here the students focus on career pathways and it is now open to 9th graders.

The district has a “You Start Program” which focuses on academics and understanding changes in the community, Dr. Watson said, a committee has been working for 2 years to get to know the needs of the community. Dr. Watson also plans to integrate more technology into the curriculum and the district is now offering full day for Pre-K. “We’re also proposing a bond to fill gaps,” he said.

One thing all 3 superintendents agreed was to continually ask Legislation for more funding. In fact, transportation has not been updated since 1985, they said (superintendents). Aldine ISD also will work on college opportunities and dual credit this Legislative year.

Chamber hears update by Councilman Davis

GREENSPOINT – The ICC Houston chamber has scheduled several Town Hall events for the upcoming months, and has completed two of these.

On Thursday, July 21 the chamber hosted a luncheon for members, featuring a talk by Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis. Davis is responsible for District B, much of which lies in the Greenspoint District.

To continue the Town Hall series, the speaker on August 25 will be State Representative Armando Walle, and on September 29 two speakers will update the chamber on economic activities in the area. Speakers will be David Hawes, president of the East Aldine District, and Greg Simpson, president of the Greenspoint District.

Also on the schedule for the Chamber is the annual “State of the Schools” presentation. This will take place on August 4, at the Lone Star College North Harris Student Services Building conference center. The address is 2700 W. W. Thorne Blvd. Superintendents from Spring, Klein, and Aldine will report on their districts.

Councilman Jerry Davis started by telling his personal history. He grew up in the area, at Little York and I-45. He was elected to City Council in 2012, representing a single district. There are 11 single districts, and 5 at-large districts in Houston.

Davis’ area of responsibility is District B. Much of the development is within TIRZ districts, a special taxing zone. There are 3 in District B, he said. These are W. Little York, E. Little York/Homestead, and Sunnyside on the East End. Davis said there is a great need for jobs in his district, because it highest the highest unemployment rate in the city.

Another economic driver is the Texas Enterprise Zone, where the state reimburses new businesses $2500 for each new job they create.

The city and county also use tax abatements to encourage new development. By granting property tax relief for a certain period of time, they in turn get new tax money from sales taxes, and employee payroll taxes. An example of this, he pointed out, is the recent $9 million county tax abatement for Amazon. But an analysis of the deal showed that the city and county will recover the amount of the abatement in only 3 1/2 years. Amazon is in the city’s ETJ area, and will function as a fullfilment center and a retail center. Each will be a taxing opportunity.

Davis spoke about a recent grant from the federal government for remediation of flood damage. He said the amount was $66 million, to be used for economic development, infrastructure repairs, and housing repairs.

The city is actively creating jobs through several programs, he said. This includes the Rose Fellowship, helping incubator startups, and teaching best practices.

Rebuild Houston is a program for rebuilding city infrastructure, administered by the Public Works department, the largest in the city. They use a criteria of “worst first” to prioritize their efforts. Davis noted that the city has 20,000 employees.

New jobs are being created due to work at Intercontinental Airport, but Davis said that federal regulations do not allow the city to use the “Hire Houston” workforce criteria.c