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Northeast News

Houston retailer never thought it would happen!

Last Friday, the Texas Lottery Commission presented a ceremonial $130,000 retailer bonus check to A&L Postal Services’ owner, Olasupo Otulana. The retailer sold the jackpot-winning Lotto Texas ticket for the Saturday, July 7, 2001, drawing worth an estimated $13 million.

“I was flabbergasted,” said Otulana. “I never thought it would happen here, not in a million years! It was wonderful to have a winner right after all the devastation of the hurricane.”

The sole winner of the $13 million jackpot prize was CSF Partnership of Houston. Fortunately, the winner was not affected by the destruction of Hurricane Allison, and collected the prize on Friday, July 20th. The winner chose the Cash Value Option and collected $7,541,024.40, before taxes.
“Everyone wants to play at the lucky store now,” Otulana said. “It was great that it was one of our customers.”

Otulana told lottery officials he plans on investing the bonus safely and wisely. He has owned A&L Postal Services, at 5170 Aldine Mail Route in Houston, for five years.

On hand for the special ceremony was Texas Lottery Online Product Manager, Robert Tirloni, storeowner Olasupo Otulana, and the Houston District Sales Manager for GTECH, Pauline Medrano.

“The Texas Lottery realizes the driving force behind our success with players is the dedication and effort from our retailers,” said Tirloni. “We have approximately 17,000 retailers statewide working with us every day, and it’s a pleasure when we get to reward one of them for selling a jackpot-winning Lotto Texas ticket.”

Legislative leadership appoints select committee to study public school finance in Texas

AUSTIN—Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff and House Speaker Pete Laney last Wednesday announced they have appointed a joint select committee to studs the public school finance system in Texas.

“Once again, the time has come to examine the way Texas pays for public education and look at alternative methods that will meet constitutional muster,” Ratliff said. “The dynamics of state funding and local property taxes are changing. We must ask ourselves if there is a better way to pay for our schools.”

Ratliff and Laney said they have charged the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance with conducting a comprehensive review of the structure of the Texas public school finance system, including facilities and transportation issues; the method used to fund public schools; and the criteria used to determine state payments to school districts.

The legislative leaders also have instructed the select committee to carefully consider all of the equity issues that govern public school finance and fully examine all of the revenue resources for funding public schools, including the state’s property tax system.

“Texas has been well served by the school finance system in place since 1993, but economic and social changes over the last few years require us to take a new look at how we fund our schools,” Laney said. “The makeup of this committee shows the importance of public education as the top priority of state government. Its members will evaluate what’s good about the current system and what problems it presents, focusing on equality and fairness for both taxpayers and school districts.”

Ratliff has appointed Sen. Ted Bivins of Amarillo, Sen. Steve Ogden of College Station, Sen. Florence Shapiro of Plano, Sen. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio. and Sen. Royce West of Dallas to the committee.

House members appointed by Laney include Rep. Paul Sadler of Henderson, Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston, Rep. Kent Grusendorf of Arlington, Rep. Scott Hochberg of Houston, Rep. Rene Oliveira of Brownsville, and Rep. Todd Smith of Bedford.
Public members appointed by Ratliff and Laney include Kent Caperton, former state senator and shareholder in the Austin law firm of Winstead, Sechrest and Minick, P.C.; Will Davis, former member of the State Board of Education; Craig Foster, cofounder, special adviser and former executive director of the Equity Center; Lyndon Olson, former chairman of the State Board of Insurance and former U.S. ambassador to Sweden; Mark Stiles, senior vice president of Trinity Industries of Dallas and former member of the Texas House of Representatives; and David Thompson, partner with the Houston law firm of Bracewell and Patterson, L.L.P. specializing in school law.
Sen. Bivins and Rep. Sadler will serve as co-chairs of the committee.

The Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance will report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature for consideration in the next Regular Session in 2003.

New mobile medical screening unit being launched today

The Ronald McDonald Mobile Unit that will soon begin providing free screening services in the northern portion of Harris County was donated to the Harris County Hospital District Foundation by Ronald McDonald Charities. The goal of the unit is to provide free screening services and health education to Harris County children (ages 0-20) that are not currently accessing services at a health center, school-based clinic, or other established health care location, and to facilitate establishment of a primary care home for them. The services that will be provided on the unit are as follows:

Vision Screening
Hearing Screening
Well-child exams performed
by a Registered Nurse
Distribution of Health Education Information
Eligibility Screening for the Harris County Hospital District Gold Card

All services provided on the unit are free. Parents will need to accompany children under the age of 18 in order to provide parental consent for the screenings. For children that need immunizations, parents should bring a copy of their child’s shot records. Eligibility screening is provided so that children may be referred into the Harris County Hospital District Community Health Program for a primary care home once they are determined to be eligible for HCHD services.

The unit will begin operations on Tuesdays and Saturdays until full-time staff is hired, after which services will be provided Tuesday through Saturday. The initial schedule is:

Tuesday, Sept. 11, Burrus Elementary School, 701 E. 33rd. St. – unit will be on site from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 15, Northwest Health Center Health Fair, 1100 W. 34th – unit will be on site from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 18, St. Leo The Great Parish, 2131 Lauder Rd. – unit will be on site from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sites for the other Tuesdays and Saturdays in September will soon be confirmed and will be published as soon as possible.

Houston to host stamp show

The Greater Houston Stamp Show (GHSS), one of the largest annual events for stamp collectors in Texas, will take place September 14-15-16 at the Humble Civic Center, 8233 Will Clayton Parkway in Humble. Hours for the show are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The show is open to the public, admission and parking are free, and door prizes will be awarded each hour.

This year, the GHSS has planned events that offer something for every stamp collector’s interest. There will be 33 stamp dealers in attendance to buy and sell stamps and covers from “penny box” material to world-class rarities. The show will host a floor auction on Saturday, and the United States Postal Service will set up a special postal station each day featuring a special cancel.

GHSS will feature large beginners’ area and will conduct planned children’s activities. The show is hosting an exhibit of personal stamp collections displayed in competition, including rare and unusual items from the pre-stamp era to modern times.

On Saturday a representative of the Boy Scouts of America will hold clinics to assist in qualifying scouts for the Stamp Collecting Merit Badge. Also on Saturday show attendees are invited to attend seminars on a variety of stamp collecting subjects.

Houston Parks Department hosts free Junior Golf Festival

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department is inviting boys and girls ages 7-18 to take a swing, a drive, and a putt, in the FREE Junior Golf Festival, September 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Youth will have the chance to learn golf fundamentals in special clinics taught by PGA professionals at the new First Tee Junior Golf Facility at F.M. Law Park located at 8400 Mykawa.

This course is pretty awesome with nine holes, a driving range, putting green, an indoor practice and video learning facility and a pro-shop. And the best part is that this course is for kids only!
In addition to festival activities, all festival-goers can sign up on the green to participate in the free Junior Golf Program. Junior golfers receive free lessons from PGA professionals, and at the end of each session, they receive certificates of completion.

So get into the swing! Parents, bring your youngsters to the festival and register them for the best game in town. For more information, call the Houston Parks and Recreation Junior Golf Office at 713-264-2100.

PSI HomeSavers kicks off fall home repair campaign with call for volunteer crews

PSI HomeSavers, a non-profit founded in 1982 by Rob Mosbacher, is asking crew sponsors to commit to participating in the October segment of the HomeSavers Volunteer Program, according to Bob Conklin, executive director of PSI HomeSavers.

Local churches, schools, civic organizations and corporations that sponsor crews work alone or with another group to complete exterior home repairs. Crews usually have 20 or more volunteers, however, crews as small as 10 may be accepted. Volunteer crews will be dispatched to more than 100 homes to perform essential exterior home repairs Saturday, Oct. 20 and 27. Groups interested in participating in the fall segment should contact HomeSavers at 713-659-2511. The deadline for crew commitment is Friday, Sept. 21.

HomeSavers offers opportunities for volunteer crews of all skill levels. Unskilled crews will be placed at homes needing painting or yard cleanup. Skilled crews perform more complex home repairs including siding replacement, window and doorsills, porch decking and structural repairs.

Low-income homeowners with disabilities or at least 62 years of age are eligible for repairs through the program. Homeowners who are interested in being part of the program should call HomeSavers at 713-659-1806 with their name and address. All repairs are free to qualified clients.

HomeSavers, 20 years old, is a leader in affordable housing in Houston, managing up to $4 million in completed home repair projects annually. Exterior repair projects are delivered through the HomeSavers Volunteer Program and funded by the private sector. New roofs and interiors repairs are funded by the public sector and completed by contractors.

Through the HomeSavers Volunteer Program, volunteer crews sponsored by corporations, churches, schools and non-profit organizations repair home exteriors. Since 1985, HomeSavers has been responsible for almost 3,600 restored home exteriors. The volunteer servant base has expanded to more than 5,000 employees and members volunteering in up to 300 crews annually.

Roof and critical interior repairs are completed by contractors through the Roofs Over Houston and Interior Repairs programs. These programs have delivered more than 1,350 new roofs and more than 1,100 interior system repairs since 1996. In addition to restoring roofs, contractors repair plumbing, electrical systems, foundations and weatherization work including doors, windows, walls and ceilings to provide safe, secure living.
PSI HomeSavers is participating in the Allison Recovery Initiative. Homeowners needing “clean-out” should call 713-822-8815. For repairs, call the IDRA hotline at 713-621-2125.

PSI HomeSavers is located at 1111 Fannin, Suite 1335, Houston, Texas 77002. A nonprofit corporation, PSI HomeSavers initiates and encourages private sector involvement in addressing critical community needs with resources, expertise and compassion. PSI HomeSavers’ primary focus is to deliver home repairs to qualified low-income elder or disabled homeowners. For more information, please call PSI at 713-659-2511 or visit its Web site at

Biotechnology big draw at HCC-NE College Fest

Sharita Smith wants to be a forensic investigator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Jacqueline Wells wants to obtain the necessary skills to augment her bachelor’s degree in biology and begin a new career after 20 years of being a stay-at-home Mom.

The two met recently at College Fest, and will be classmates by the end of the month in the new biotechnology program at Houston Community College (HCC)-Northeast.

An annual event at HCC-Northeast, College Fest is held each summer to provide prospective students with an opportunity to explore the many certificate and degree programs offered by the College. In an informal setting complete with refreshments and door prizes, participants can meet with counselors to map out career plans, discuss avenues for financial aid, apply for admissions and even register for classes.

Smith and Wells were two of nearly 100 participants that took advantage of the opportunity this year.
An American Chemical Society Minority Scholar, Smith is a recent graduate of ITT with an Associate’s degree in Chemical Laboratory Technology. She heard about HCC-Northeast’s biotechnology program while at ITT and came to visit with department chair Dr. John Galiotos to determine if it fit into her ultimate career plans.

“My goal is to become a forensic scientist with the FBI,” she said, “and a lot of the skills needed for that position can be obtained here at HCC, so I’ve decided to go through the Biotech program here before pursuing my bachelor’s degree at Georgia Tech.”

Mrs. Wells already has her bachelor’s degree.
“I graduated from Prairie View A & M in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology,” she noted, adding: “With the exception of being a substitute teacher off and on, however, I’ve not used my degree because I chose to be a stay-at-home mom in order to be more involved in my children’s activities.”

“Now it’s mom’s turn to begin a new career,” she said, “so I’m coming back to school to acquire skills that, along with my degree, can open up paths of career opportunities. and we’ll just see where they go.”

For more information about registration or the Biotechnology program at HCC-Northeast, call 713-718-8300.

“All Over The Guy” simple love story

“All Over the Guy” has a simple plot as old as love stories or love itself.

Generally speaking, movie audiences like a love story, especially if it has all the essential elements.

It needs a couple who has chemistry together. Check.

It needs likable characters with at least a few complexities. Check.

It needs conflict. Check.

It needs the couple to be apart for a while, or at least a threat of separation, so we long for them to get back together. Check.
It needs humorous and clever, but realistic dialogue. Check.

It needs to have the couple gaze at each other in a way that either reminds us of the person we passionately love or makes us pine for somebody to love. Check.

And most importantly, it needs that emotional punch. It needs that moment in the end when we shed a few tears or get a lump in our throats because the pair either resolves a major conflict and goes off into the proverbial sunset – “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Notting Hill” – or the sad ones– “Casablanca,” “Love Story.” A big check on that point for “All Over the Guy.”

“Guy” may be a small budget, limited release movie, cast with mostly unknowns, but it’s still one of the richest, most honest love stories of the last few years. The fact that the main characters are both male should not stop anybody from seeing this little gem. But it probably will.

Too bad, because this is a cool movie. That the main characters are gay is not the issue. That two people are obviously attracted to each other, but one has commitment problems is the issue.

That life and love and not always easy, is the point. That parents can really screw us up if we let them, is the point. That life is a wonderful, funny mess, is the point.

Dan Bucatinsky wrote the script from his one-act play “I Know What You Are, But What Am I?” (But for the movie he changed the female character to a male) and stars as Eli, the shy, sensitive police blotter editor whose therapist parents treat him and his sister (Christina Ricci) like experiments.
Adam Goldberg plays Eli’s best friend Brett. He’s straight and uses Eli as bait when he finds out a girl he’s interested in (Sasha Alexander) has a male gay best friend. The straight couple fix up Eli with Tom (Richard Ruccolo, who is a sexy mix of Russell Crowe, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson and Mickey Rourke).

The blind date does not go so well, but when they meet again, accidentally, things go better. Eli is ready for a relationship, but Tom has self-destructive tendencies, inherited from alcoholic parents, which hinders him from letting others too close.

But he does not want to let Eli out of his life. He enjoys going to the flee market with him and talking about movies like “In & Out” and the “Planet of the Apes.”

As Eli and Tom’s relationship goes up and down, their straight best friends get more and more serious. The straight couple is not near as interesting or as believable and honest as the guys are.

Lisa Kudrow from “Friends” and Doris Roberts from “Everybody Loves Raymond” (to name just her latest) are featured in funny cameos. The blunt Roberts is especially memorable. Andrea Martin is rather scary as Eli’s mother. Her condemnation of “In & Out” is a draw dropper.

It is the performances by Bucatinsky and Ruccolo that really shine in “All Over the Guy.” It was obvious from the first scene, when Ruccolo talks about his life at an AA meeting, that “All Over the Guy” had real promise in the acting department. Check.

Don’t be afraid, the movie is not sexually explicit. There is some frank talk about sex and the guys kiss passionately and wiggle around under the sheets a bit, but it’s all more about relationships then sexuality. Rated-R

Rep. Green and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Reyes to host Hispanic Issues Forum

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) will host a Hispanic Issues Forum to address issues critical to Houston’s Hispanic communities.

Green and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Silvestre Reyes (TX-El Paso) will be speaking to representatives from the League of United American Citizens (LULAC), the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement about economic development, access to health services for minorities, education, and immigration.

The event will be held on Wednesday, September 5th at 9:30 a.m. at the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans multi-purpose education building (AAMA).

Learn environmental education at Jones Park on Saturday

Looking for new and interesting ways to educate children about nature and the environment? Then Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center’s Project Learning Tree Educator Training Workshop Saturday, September 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. should give you the tools necessary to help satisfy children’s curiosity about these important topics.

Project Learning Tree is a renowned workshop covering a variety of Pre-K through eighth-grade environmental curricula grouped by theme, storyline and subject matter. Crafted to meet national and state standards, the program provides the tools educators need to bring the environment into their classrooms and their students into the environment.

Participants receive the Pre-K through 8th grade curriculum guide, which includes over 96 activities and participating teachers may also be eligible for professional development credit hours. A minimal fee is required to cover materials. Reservations are required and are being taken now.

Sunday, September 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Second Sunday Pickers take center stage in the nature center for a lively informal concert featuring folk music of ages past. Visitors can just sit back and enjoy the music, or bring their own instruments and join in.

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, a Harris County Precinct 4 facility, is located at 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble. All programs are free of charge and open to the public, Harris County Precinct 4 programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, national origin or disability. For more information on the park or any of its programs, call 281-446-8588.

Students may be eligible for disaster assistance

College students who lost personal property due to Tropical Storm Allison may be eligible for slate or federal disaster assistance. Disaster assistance may be available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration or from the State of Texas, Division of Emergency Management.

“We want to make sure that returning college students know that they can register for assistance due to flood damage to their personal property.” said Duke Mazurek, state-coordinating officer for the recovery effort.

Determination of benefits will depend on the circumstances in each individual case.
Rental assistance may be available to students who need to relocate due to flooding. If a student, however, has been provided housing by insurance or from the university, FEMA will not duplicate that assistance.

If private property, including an automobile, is in the possession of a student, but in fact are owned by the parent, to receive assistance the owner of the damaged property must be the one to register with FEMA. The national toll-free number is 1-800-462-9029 (For persons with speech or hearing impediment, the TTY number is 1-800-462-7585).

The deadline to apply is September 7. Normal registration hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.