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Posts published in “Day: October 16, 2001

Relief at last!

Residents of Verhalen Street off Luthe Road finally got the debris from Tropical Storm Allison picked up after more than 4 months of waiting. Precinct 2 Commissioner Jim Fonteno balked at providing additional pick-up despite numerous requests and complaints. A television news report that drew attention to the problem apparently resulted in the very late, but very welcome arrival of men and equipment to clean up the mess.

Hoyle chosen as first “Stephens Star”

Stephens Elementary is proud to honor Stacey Hoyle as the first recipient of the “Stephens Star” award. Mrs. Hoyle was chosen for this award for her outstanding work on behalf of a school-wide fundraising effort for the American Red Cross. Her fourth grade classes initiated the fund drive after the attacks in New York and Washington in September. The total of all donations including a $500 donation from the Stephens PTO is $3654.81.

Hoyle is currently teaching math and science in fourth grade. She has taught every subject during her ten-year teaching career in Aldine ISD and has worked at both Stephens and Reed Intermediate.

A native of Clinton Township, Michigan, Hoyle received her degree in education from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Both of her parents were teachers as is her husband, Jay — a teacher at Aldine Senior High.

“I like to see each and every student work to be the best person that they can be,” Hoyle said when asked what she expects of her students. “One of the greatest rewards that I can receive is feeling that I have made a difference in the life of a child. A student from my very first year still comes back every fall to tell me how much she appreciates what I did that year in fifth grade. That is what makes teaching so worthwhile.”

The “Stephens Star” award will be given each month to an outstanding staff member who has made a positive contribution for the school. Nominations from fellow employees will determine who receives this honor. All staff members —teachers, support staff, paraprofessionals, custodians, and food service personnel —are eligible for nomination. The Stephens school climate committee selected Hoyle as the first recipient. PTO president Jenny Rex is working to secure gift certificates from area merchants to be given as part of this award.

Aldine ISD students hear from Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa

Nine Eisenhower Sr. High School students received the opportunity to meet and listen to Lech Walesa at a recent dinner and lecture event hosted by the Houston World Affairs Council at the Junior League of Houston.

Walesa came into the spotlight in 1980 during the infamous Lenin Shipyard strike in Gdansk, Poland. The workers, incensed by an increase in prices set by the Communist government, were demanding the right to organize free and independent trade unions.

With his electrifying personality, quick wit and gift of gab, he was soon leading the Solidarity movement that was also perceived as a social revolution. Walesa entered into negotiations with the government, convincing it to grant legal recognition to Solidarity and the striking workers and the right to form independent unions. This became the Gdansk Agreement that Walesa signed on Aug. 31, 1980. According to Timothy Garton Ash, author of The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, without Walesa, the occupation strike in the Lenin Shipyard might never have taken off.

“Without him, Solidarity might never have been born. Without him, it might not have survived martial law and come back triumphantly to negotiate the transition from communism to democracy. And without the Polish icebreaking Eastern Europe might still be frozen in a Soviet sphere of influence, and the world would be a very different place… his legacy is a huge gain in freedom, not just for the Poles. His services were, as an old Polish slogan has it, for our freedom and yours,”’ wrote Ash.

He received much recognition. Walesa was celebrated worldwide as a symbol of the hope of freedom and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. Walesa became the first democratically elected president in Poland in 1990. Through his unwavering commitment, he made his country a model of economic and political reform for the rest of Eastern Europe, earning Poland the honor of receiving one of the first invitations to join an expanded NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). No longer president, he now heads the Lech Walesa Institute whose aim is to advance the ideals of democracy and free market reform throughout Eastern Europe and the rest of the world.

The Houston Annenberg Challenge made it possible for the Eisenhower students, teachers Michaelann Kelly. Debbie Brown, Janice Matheson, and Ron Venable; and Deborah Roberson, the district’s program director of secondary social studies, to attend the event. Eisenhower Sr. High School has an International Studies Academy, a professional development academy, which is funded by the Houston Annenberg Challenge Grant. Teachers who are members of the academy recommended the students. The academy has been collaborating with the Houston World Affairs Council for three years. The council is an educational outreach program that provides students with an open forum to promote America’s understanding of the world to enhance their ability to participate more effectively in the global community. The council offers students access to senior government officials, policy makers, distinguished authorities and noted commentators.

The Eisenhower students had a chance to speak with Walesa prior to the dinner and lecture. Their questions ranged from primary source questions regarding Solidarity for their history fair projects to current issues in Poland such as the reelection of a communist president.

According to Ron Venable, a teacher at Eisenhower Sr. and member of the school’s International Studies Academy, Walesa’s speech entitled “Democracy: The Never-ending Battle” was dynamic.

“Walesa was very charismatic and very personable,” said Venable.

Eisenhower Sr. High School students who attended the event were Warren Hough, Saima Malik, Jessica Crowi Somala Muhmmed, Rim Mohamed, Brandon Svater, Ben Pham, Elaine Cheng, and Heidi Carias.

National speaker helps AISD students choose a positive attitude, positive life

Recently, approximately 50 fifth-, sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students at Aldine SD’s Alternative Education Placement Center (AEPO) attended a presentation given by Michael Chatman, one of the nation’s leading motivational youth speakers.

Chatman shared his message of self-confidence and personal responsibility. He spoke to the students from personal experience about living in a crime rampant community, family abuse, gang life, poor grades, poor attitude, drugs, and troubles with the law. He also discussed how a series of events, a belief in himself, and the genuine interest of others turned his life around at the age of 13.

“I had a teacher tell me that I wouldn’t amount to anything,” said Chatman. “At that point I decided to prove I would. I was also fortunate to have people like family, friends, and a high school coach around me who saw my potential and supported me in a variety of ways. I chose to be something better than I or others thought I could be.”

He cut his ties with the gang he was in, focused on his studies, and graduated from high school as Outstanding Student of the Year.

Chatman lettered in three sports and was named an All-American in football. He went on to study at Southwest Missouri State University where he graduated with athletic and academic honors in pre-law and public speaking.

Through the whole presentation, Chatman kept a sense of humor and spoke to the teenagers as opposed to speaking down to them. He also connected with his young audience through his ability to talk as teenagers on their level as they communicate today. His style of communicating was both thought-provoking and entertaining. Students, teachers and administrators alike laughed aloud and listened quietly.

Today, Chatman is a successful entrepreneur and dedicates a large part of his time helping young people realize their opportunities are not limited by their circumstances or their environment. His message to young people is for them to overcome their fears, to raise their standards, to develop a positive attitude, and to develop a sense of humor.
After Chatman told his story, it was time for questions and answers. Usually, this is an uncomfortable part of any presentation for both the presenter and the host, but not this day. And not with this presenter. Many students raised their hands to ask Chatman in-depth questions about the family abuse in his home, drugs, problems with the law, gangs, and his success. Several asked more than one or two questions making the 0 and A last for more than 20 minutes. It was obvious some part of his life story touched the students in some way or another.

At the end of the presentation students could be heard saying, “He was great,” and “He was cool and real.” Several wanted to know if he was coming back for another visit.

“This was one of the first times I saw the students really listening to everything the speaker had to say,” said Steve Hylander, assistant principal of AEPC. “It was obvious they connected with Michael. He was once one of them. I think this made it easier to see a possibility for change in their lives. Some part of his story affected each one of the students. You could see that by the questions they asked. It was great to see the students take such interest.”

AEPC is a highly-structured program for students who cannot handle the discipline guidelines on a traditional campus. For his work with young people, Chatman, who resides in Miami, has been recognized by the Miami Mayor’s Office for “Outstanding Community Service” and received the Miami Herald’s Silver Knight Award for community service. Michael Chatman’s presentation “It’s Your Choice” was made possible by Anheuser-Bush’s Consumer Awareness and Education, a community-based program that takes the personal responsibility message into the homes, schools and establishments.

Aldine offers low-cost, free shots

Free or inexpensive immunizations are available for adults and children at Aldine Senior High School in conjunction with the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services Humble Health Center.
The immunization clinics will be held in the foods lab, room 802. The community is asked to enter the food lab via the West Road parking lot and to bring previous immunization records if available.

Fees range from $4 to $15 and are based on a sliding fee scale, the number of family members and gross monthly income.

Immunization for hepatitis is not available for adults. Chicken pox, or varicella, immunizations are given only at the health centers.

Aldine’s immunization clinics will be held on Nov. 6 and Dec. 4 for the remainder of this year. The dates for spring 2002 are Feb. 5, March 5, April 2 and May 7.

Free immunizations for children between the ages of 11-19 who are enrolled in Aldine schools are available by appointment at the Incarnation Health Center, located at 8230 Antoine. Those interested should call 281-445-8815 for an appointment and directions.

Congressman Green introduces VISA Act to improve national security

Last week, Congressman Gene Green introduced the Visa Information Security Act of 2001 (VISA Act) —legislation that will increase the security of the American people by closing some of the loopholes within the visa application system. This legislation requires that all non-immigrant visa applicants submit a biometric fingerprint as part of the routine visa application process.

The recent terrorist attacks have highlighted the need to review the visa application process and how we can improve the screening process used by U.S. Consular offices abroad. Usually, visa applicant names are checked against the State Department database for admissibility. However, some individuals use false information from their country of origin when they apply for a visa or use stolen visas to enter the U.S.

This process is quick and efficient and can be run through our national criminal database to see if the applicant should or should not be allowed into the country. Additionally, when the individual enters the country through the port of entry, his fingerprints will be scanned to verify authenticity.

“While it is impossible to screen every single individual who enters our country, with advanced technology and better coordination with the intelligence community we can better secure our nations borders,” Green said. “However, in order to effectively authenticate individuals, we need a method based on inherent characteristics of a person that cannot be lost, changed or duplicated.”
“Adding this technology requirement would not add significant time to the visa application process, but it would certainly prevent known terrorists and criminals from entering the country, while at the same time decrease fraudulent visa requests.” Green added.

Specifically, the VISA Act of 2001 would:

• Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to require that non-immigrant visa applicants provide a biometric identifier, such as a fingerprint, that is machine readable, to be contained on the visa or other documentation required for admission at their port of entry into the United States.

• Authorizes the Attorney General to impose a new fee on all visa applicants to cover the costs of implementing the system.

• This legislation will not apply to NAFTA participating countries and allows the Attorney General maximum discretion to decide what methods to utilize for those types of border crossings.

“We need to collect more information about the individuals trying to enter our country, but we must do it in a way that does not overburden our consular offices and still allow for visitors to enter the United States.” said Green.

Eckert’ s Distinguished Gentlemen attend awards program

Eckert’ s Distinguished Gentlemen, a group of handsome, responsible, and intelligent students were selected to serve as ushers at the Mayor’s Fourth Annual Teachers’ Day Excellency Awards Program. The Mayor honored several outstanding teachers from eleven school districts in the Houston and surrounding areas. Eckert’s Distinguished Gentlemen passed out programs and escorted guest to their tables. It was a delightful Event. Pictures from left to right: Carolyn A. Figaro, Assistant Principal, Darren Scott, Sponsor, Parish Johnson, Mayor Lee Brown, Christopher Ray, Rassium Franklin, President and David Golston

Duck, Goose, and Sandhill Crane launch annual waterfowl seasons

Now that the tune-up of waterfowl hunting with the early teal duck season is over, the main events of the “big duck” season, goose season, and sandhill crane season is just around the corner.

With canvasback ducks, a little hunting opportunity is better than none at all. Where sandhill crane hunting is concerned, a little more is a good thing.

Rather than mandate a complete closure on canvasback harvest this season because of a slight decline in breeding populations for this popular diving duck the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opted to restrict the season length for canvasback within the regular duck season to 25 days in the Central Flyway. Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the shortened season as part of the 2001-2002 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation adopted August 30.

Aside from additional crane hunting opportunities along the mid coast and a boundary shift in North Texas, hunters will see little change from last year, Vernon Bevill, TPW game bird program director, told commissioners “We’ve received approval form the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to open sandhill crane hunting along the mid coast from Lavaca Bay to Galveston Bay and from Corpus Christi Bay south,” said Bevill. This area will be included in Zone C with a reduction in daily bag limit from three birds to two.

Bevill added that the crane season length in Zone C would be shortened to 23 days (Dec. 29 – Jan. 20, 2002) because the Light Goose Conservation Order will open on Jan 21, 2002. No crane hunting is allowed during the special season.

TPW also set an early closure for a small portion of the northeast corner of sandhill crane Zone B, which lies in the Eastern Goose Zone. This eliminates the need to close the entire zone at the start of a special light goose conservation season in the Eastern Goose Zone north of Fort Worth to the Oklahoma state line. Under federal requirements, waterfowl and sandhill crane seasons must be closed before a special light goose season can begin. By making the crane Zone B boundary consistent with the east-west Goose Zone boundary, crane season can be extended to Feb. 10, 2002.

This year, TPW is allowing hunters to take canvasbacks only during the last 25 days of the season statewide, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 20, 2002. The restriction on canvasback ducks follows a slight drop this year in population estimates. Historically, population declines have resulted in closure on all canvasback harvest, but because canvasback numbers are still above the long-term average and goals established under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the option for a restricted season was made available as a conservation measure to protect next year’s projected breeding population at levels above 500,000 birds.

For the North Zone, the duck-hunting season will run Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 10 – Jan. 20, 2002.

The South Zone duck hunting season will run Oct. 27 – Nov. 25 and reopens Dec. 8 – Jan. 20, 2002.

In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, duck season will run Oct. 20 – 22 and Oct. 27 – Jan. 20, 2002.

The daily bag limit will remain six ducks statewide including no more than five mallards (no more than two hens), three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one mottled duck, one pintail and one canvasback (during the last 25 days of the season only.)

Goose seasons in the East Zone will run Oct. 27 – Jan. 20, 2002, for both light and dark geese with a daily bag limit of 20 light geese in the aggregate (snow, blue, Ross); two white-fronts and one Canada goose. The West Zone goose season will run from Oct. 27 – Feb. 10, 2002. Daily bag limits in the West Zone are 20 light geese in the aggregate and five dark geese in the aggregate to include no more than one white-fronted goose.

TPW is establishing a Light Goose Conservation Order that begins Jan. 21, 2002, in the East Goose Zone and Feb. 11 in the West Goose Zone.

The conservation order will close on March 31, 2002, in both zones. During the special season there is no bag limit on light geese.

The special youth-only weekend for licensed hunters under 16 years for ducks in both the North and South Zones is proposed for Oct. 20-21, while the youth hunt in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit was Oct. 13-14.

If all goes as planned, I anticipate being in a duck blind before dawn on the morning of October 27 with one of my favorite 12-gauges, a couple of boxes of steel shot, and high hopes for the main course of a duck dinner.

Aggies, Longhorns face stern tests this weekend

The state’s two best college football teams will learn a lot more about their post season chances this weekend as they take on two of the Big 12’s better teams.

Texas A&M travels to Kansas State, while the Texas Longhorns entertain a talented and dangerous Colorado team in Austin. Wins by the Aggies and ‘Horns would do much to return the luster to football in the Lone Star state after a less than stellar performance by the troops two weeks ago.
Before we take a look at this week’s schedule, let’s review the season record. A 9-3 week (the best yet) brings the season mark to 33-15 (68 percent).

MacArthur vs. Nimitz: Both teams came away with wins two weeks ago as the Generals disposed of Spring Woods and the Cougars won an overtime thriller over previously undefeated Memorial. The Nimitz game did not end until near midnight due to a serious thunderstorm that rolled through the North Houston area midway through the game, but those that braved the weather and stayed saw a classic finish. That win did much to boost the Cougars’ confidence and look for their running game to be the difference this week as they set their sights on another playoff appearance. My pick, Nimitz 27, MacArthur 18

Aldine vs. Memorial: This should be the best game of the week in District 21-5A. The Mustangs of Aldine are coming off a tough contest against Eisenhower, but they can’t afford to let their guard down against a talented Memorial team. The key to stopping Memorial is corralling running back Matt Young and Aldine’s speed on defense will be key in seeing that he is held in check. This game should have a playoff feel to it because the loser could be on the outside looking in after the regular season concludes. My pick, Aldine 23, Memorial 17

Eisenhower vs. Spring Woods: The Eagles will use this game to tune-up for their playoff dash, so expect Ike to show little mercy. Eisenhower simply has too many weapons for Spring Woods. This one could be over by half-time. My pick, Eisenhower 42, Spring Woods 7

Now let’s take a look at what’s on tap on the college scene this weekend.

Colorado at Texas: The ‘Horns are hurting after their 14-3 loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago. That game proved Texas still has a ways to go, especially offensively, before it’s ready to play with the big boys across the land, and OU is definitely one of the top teams in the country. Junior quarterback Chris Simms still has a lot to learn, but let’s face it, the lack of a running game was a key factor in Texas’ defeat. Texas cannot afford to take this Colorado team lightly. The Buffs upset Kansas State at Manhattan two weeks ago, limiting a team that scored 37 points the week before at Oklahoma, to just seven points. Texas needs to get the running game re-established, which will open up things for Simms and his talented group of receivers. My pick, Texas 30, Colorado 21

Texas A&M at Kansas State: This is the Aggies second straight tough road game after playing at Colorado this past weekend. A&M received a scare from lowly Baylor two weeks ago, but rallied for its fifth straight win of the season. The A&M running game is still not what it used to be and even though KSU has lost two games thus far, the Aggies will need to be able to run the ball against to pick up a win on the road. When the Aggies are on defense they will have to keep quarterback Ell Robinson III in check. He can hurt them with his legs and his arms, but to their credit, the Aggie defense has played well the last three games. Even though this is the third week of October, it’s hard to get a handle on this A&M team, that’s why I’m leaning towards the Wildcats in this one. I think the back-to-back losses are motivation enough for Bill Snyder’s team. My pick, Kansas State 26, A&M 16

Georgia vs. Florida: Jacksonville, FL will be the sight of the largest cocktail party in the country this weekend, but the Gators will be the ones celebrating when this game is over. Florida looks unbeatable (until they play OU in the Rose Bowl, and you read it here first), but don’t count out the Bulldogs. They picked up a huge come-from-behind win at Tennessee two weeks ago. Still, emotion can carry a team only so far and this week, the ‘Dogs get a taste of reality. My pick, Florida 38, Georgia 20

USC at Notre Dame: Remember when this game used to mean something, nationally? Well, not anymore. Both of these proud programs are shadows of their former selves, but this should still be a competitive game because both teams are so mediocre. It appears the Irish have finally found a quarterback in sophomore Carlyle Holloway. His long touchdown run against Pittsburgh two weeks ago was a thing of beauty. The Irish need to win out to land a bowl spot and a win over USC would do wonder for their morale. My pick, Notre Dame 23, USC 14

Now it’s on to the NFL, where this year’s Cinderella story gets its first real test of the season.

Denver at San Diego: The Chargers’ magical season hit a detour two weeks ago with a loss in Cleveland (break up the Browns!) and things don’t get any easier this Sunday when the high-scoring Broncos come calling. The Charger fans will have the place rocking and rookie running back Ladanian Tomlinson will look to exploit the Denver front seven. The key to this game will be how well the San Diego defense contains the Denver offense and all its weapons. Emotion can carry a team only so far, but it says here the dream season lives one more weekend in San Diego. My pick, San Diego 26, Denver 24

Green Bay at Minnesota: Look for the air to be filled with footballs as both teams go to the air in this NFC Central showdown. The Vikings love playing on turf, while Brett Favre and his Packers can’t stand the fake stuff. Still, the Pack appears to be a team on the rise, while the Vikings look headed for a sub par season. The lack of a running game is hurting Minnesota, which is allowing defenses to take the deep pass away from Randy Moss and Cris Carter. This is a must win for the Vikes if they hope to get into the playoff picture, but don’t look for the Packers to just hand the game to them. My pick, Minnesota 32, Green Bay 28

St. Louis at NY Jets: Can anyone stop the Rams? What an offense. The Jets showed a little offense of their own when they put up 42 points against the Bills two weeks ago, but this week, they’ll be playing a team that could score 42 points in a half. This year’s Rams look every bit as good, if not better, than the 1999 team that won the Super Bowl. They are loaded with speed on offense and the defense is better and pretty fast itself. The Jets will definitely have the home f field in this one and the weather could play a factor, still, St. Louis gets the nod because of its overall advantage in talent. My pick, St. Louis 27, NY Jets 20

Tennessee at Detroit: Two desperate teams with pathetic offenses meet in the Motor City this Sunday. Look for the Titans to get running back Eddie George unleashed early, which should take a lot of pressure off quarterback Steve McNair. The Lions, on the other hand, might just be one of the worst teams in the league. Their performance against the Rams two Monday nights ago was a joke. If things don’t improve before too long, they won’t have to worry about fans wearing bags over their heads because there won’t be any attending their games. My pick, Tennessee 31, Detroit 14

Philadelphia at NY Giants: The best game of the week concludes the seventh week of the season on Monday Night Football. This one should be low scoring, so look for plenty of good defensive plays to be made in this one. The Giants have the Eagles number (they beat them three straight last year), but injuries are starting to take their toll on the defending NFC champions. If the Eagles hope to end their losing streak to the Giants, they will need some big plays from quarterback Donovan McNabb. Look for McNabb to move around in the pocket to give his receivers time to get open and when the Giants have the ball, they will pound Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne to soften up the Philly defense for a timely throw or two by quarterback Kerry Collins. My pick, NY Giants 16, Philadelphia 13.