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Posts published in “Day: October 23, 2001

Celebrate Halloween Nature Style at Jones Park

Although people often associate Halloween with pumpkin carving, costumes and trick-or-treating for candy, there are many other ways of enjoying the All Hallow’s Eve festivities. Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center offers programs for young and old during a Pumpkin Pandemonium puppet program Saturday. October 27 at 10 a.m., followed by Nature’s Creepy Crawlies at 11:30 a.m. and Lanterns and Lore at 5 p.m. And those wanting to learn more about the nighttime sky can enjoy a Stargazing program Sunday, October 28 at 7 p.m.

Have you ever wondered about the history of Halloween and the jack-o-lantern? Or perhaps you’re looking for a way to have some “fright-free” fun for younger children? On Saturday, October 27 at 10 am., East Texas puppeteer Raymond L. Eastman, Jr. will bring his many puppet friends to life in “Pumpkin Pandemonium,” a 30-minute puppet production featuring large hand and rod puppets, bright colorful sets and props and even an original Calypso song. Through the masterful animation of a pumpkin puppet, Willie O’Whisp, viewers will learn about the history of the jack-o-lantern as Willie makes his costume for a Halloween party at Pumpkin Manor. Please note that this production is intended for pre-kindergarten to second-grade children; no witches or skeletons will be used.

Eastman is the owner of Puppet Wise Productions, a Nacogdoches-based company that specializes in providing high-quality puppet programs for younger audiences.

At 11:30 a.m. be sure to visit the nature center for Nature’s Creepy Crawlies, a live specimen display showcasing an interesting array of slithery, slimy critters and multi-legged creatures. Snakes, spiders and more will be used to fascinate and educate the audience about some of the more unique animals often associated with the Halloween season.

That evening at 5 p.m., join staff naturalist Anita Casarona for a family oriented spook-tacularly fun time. The program starts with an opportunity to carve turnips into miniature Jack-o-lanterns, and continues with a walk by lantern-light to our homestead, where a delightfully spooky campfire story awaits you. Reservations are required and may be made beginning Wednesday, October 17.

On Sunday, October 28 at 7 p.m., join Jesse Jones Park volunteer Ron Carman for a telescopic tour of the sky during an evening of Stargazing. This program will give participants of all ages an opportunity to see a variety of stars, planets and other astral features, Participants are welcome to bring their own telescope or binoculars, but it is not required. Reservations are required and may be made beginning Wednesday, October 17.

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.

Houston Rockets announce increased security measures affecting fans

The Houston Rockets last week announced increased security that will be implemented for the 2001-02 National Basketball Association season.

“There will be numerous additional security measures put in place in all NBA arenas consistent with the current conditions,” said George Postolos, Rocket’s Chief Operating Officer. “Some of the measures will be obvious to fans, and many others wil1 involve behind the scenes operations. However, we want fans to know ahead of tune of certain procedures that may affect them. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience our fans may experience and we suggest that they arrive at Compaq Center a little earlier than in the past in light of the new security measures.”

Among the measures that will be put in place:

•There will be an increased security presence both inside and outside Compaq Center.
•Briefcase-Size bags and pocketbooks will be allowed in Compaq Center, but will be inspected at all entrance gates.
•Large bags, coolers and large backpacks will not be allowed in Compaq Center.
•Once they have exited, fans will not be allowed to re-enter Compaq Center for any reason
•All vehicles without proper identification must be parked at least 100 feet from Compaq Center, in arena-controlled parking areas.
•All media end others with access to restricted areas will be required to produce a photo ID and all bags and equipment will be subject to inspection.

Houston to lead large metros in growth rate

Among the nation’s 40 largest regional economies, Houston will have the highest growth rate in real Gross Area Product from the second quarter of 2001 through the second quarter of 2002, according to a forecast prepared by Economycom. The firm expects Houston’s economy to grow 2.02 percent over the period.

The forecast – a revision of a previous forecast – is designed to account for economic changes in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

It shows that all 40 major regional economies will sustain damage, with 30 experiencing slower growth than in the pre-attack forecast and 10 shifting from expansion to outright contraction.

Houston’s expected growth in the earlier forecast was 3.76 percent. Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas’ growth was reduced from 3.77 to 1 02 percent, Fort Worth-Arlington’s from 3.82 to 0.71 percent and Austin’s from 4.14 to 1.65 percent.

“While Houston is weathering job losses from Continental Airlines and looking at an unknown number of job losses due to the announced merger of Compaq and Hewlett Packard, there is a lot more to Houston’s economy” said Toni Horst, senior economist at Economycorn. “The fact that Houston’s economy is so diverse is the reason that we feel that twill outperform the economies of other metropolitan areas.”

“This initial assessment of regional economic fallout from last months atrocities reflects Houston’s unique economic makeup,” said Jim Kollaer, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. The two components that contribute most to our benefit are Houston’s large concentration of colleges and universities which are seeing enrollments rise as layoffs increase, and its role as the global center of oil and gas exploration and production. But we need to be cautious, because the forecast assumes, among other things, that energy prices will remain fairly high.”

Economycom, which changed its name from Regional Financial Associates last year, is a nationally-prominent economic forecasting firm. Its clients include several major corporations and governments among which is the State of Texas.

Congressional Immigration caucus pushes for reforms of visa laws

A group of lawmakers is pressing for stricter standards for those entering the country and expanded monitoring of those allowed in.

The Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus issued a package of proposals last Tuesday, including creating a unified border patrol agency and creating a database to monitor those entering and leaving the country and those here on student visas.

The caucus, which consists of 29 Republicans and one independent, also wants a moratorium on new immigration until a backlog is whittled down and new security measures are in place.

“The defense of our nation begins with the defense of our borders,” said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., chairman of the caucus. “Immigration reform and border security must not continue to take a back seat in Congress.”

The caucus also called for:

-strengthening border patrol efforts;
-adding more offices to screen visa applications;
-abolishing a “diversity visa” program that grants visas to immigrants from states that have sponsored terrorism;
-establishing an electronic means to check immigration documents;
-requiring those wishing to change their immigration status to return to their country to complete the process;
-prohibiting asylum grants without a security check;
-removing immigrants in the country despite pending deportation orders.

Two provisions backed by the caucus, which would deny entrance to individuals who have supported terrorist groups or organizations hostile to the United States, and which would create a unified database to check visa applicants’ records were included in the Patriot Act which the House passed last week.

Shelter seeks pet foster families

Harris County Rabies/Animal Control is seeking potential foster families for animals awaiting adoption. For information, please call 281-999-3191.

The Shelter advises people who have lost a pet or are looking for one to adopt to check out the web site at All the animals currently available for adoption are pictured on the site.

DPS issues statement regarding issuance of drivers’ licenses

The Texas Department of Public Safety has no plans to change its rules or procedures regarding licensing of persons who do not have a Social Security number.

The Texas Attorney General has issued an opinion regarding the furnishing of a Social Security number as a requirement for a Texas driver license.

In Opinion No. JC-0409, Attorney General John Cornyn stated that an individual is not required to have a Social Security number to receive a driver’s license.

He went on to say that the current policy provides a method to allow such applicants to obtain a driver’s license.

Teague Middle shows their patriotism

Teague Middle School principal Mike Gallien, left, leads students in the Pledge of Allegiance on Friday, Oct. 12, in the cafeteria. Schools throughout Aldine ISD recited the pledge at 1 p.m. after President Bush and Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige asked school children throughout the United States to recite the Pledge of Allegiance on that day to show their patriotism.

Grantham hosts teachers from the Philippines

Grantham Academy for Engineering has the privilege of hosting three teachers from the Philippines this school year. Ms. Annabelle C. Galang of Palompon, Leyte, Ms. Hazel Rojas of Malaybalay City, Philippines, and Ms. Evelyn Alo of Cebu City began their year at Grantham Academy in August after a very long flight from their country.

Ms. Eva Lopez, a Director of Personnel from ALDILNIE ISD visited the Philippines in November 2000 and interviewed 70 teachers. The three ladies are from a group of approximately 20 that were hired to work in the Aldine ISD.

Ms. Galang has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Education, a Masters of Arts Degree in English and is working on her Doctor of Philosophy in Education. She has taught English in high school and college for 17 years. Currently she is working in the Mathematics Department at Grantham.

Ms. Evelyn Alo received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, her Bachelor of Science in Education, and her Masters of Education from Cebu State College. She is qualified to teach elementary through high school students.

Ms. Alo has traveled extensively and worked with children teaching English to preschool students during her travels to Hong Kong. Recently she traveled to Dublin, Ireland to tutor in a private residence. She has eight years of teaching experience in the schools in the Philippines. At the present time, she is working with the English as a Second Language Institute within Grantham Academy.

Ms. Hazel Rojas has a Bachelor of Secondary Education with a Major in General Science. She has taught five years, one of which was high school Earth Science. She is currently working in the Content Mastery Lab assisting with Science topics.
Grantham Academy is very fortunate to have these special guests in the building this year. They bring a positive outlook and vibrant personalities that add so very much to the teaching staff.

Proposition 8 will give a big boost to state parks, youth and outdoors

On my annual visit to the Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsored Texas Wildlife Expo, I learned a lot about what our state is doing to preserve our outdoor way of life.

Millions of Texans who love state parks, hunting and fishing are counting on it, as are thousands of deaf and blind students, victims of drug-resistant tuberculosis and wayward youth. Hundred of local police forces need it, as do thousands of soldiers and airmen in the Texas National Guard.

“It is Proposition 8, one of 19 constitutional amendments Texas voters will consider on November 6. The measure would authorize up to $850 million in general obligation bonds for 13 state agencies. It would also help city police and county sheriffs across Texas buy vehicle video cameras to combat racial profiling.

Proposition 8 would repair or improve state parks, prisons, hospitals, schools, and youth and military facilities. The real story behind Proposition 8 isn’t the buildings: it’s the millions of people they serve. For many of the agencies involved, it is their first bond issue. The main focus is “deferred maintenance;’ long-neglected repairs or improvements.

“This is the hard money,” said Andrew Samson, TPW executive director, and veteran of past bond issues for agency repairs. “It’s like the preacher who finds it easy to raise money for a new stained glass window, but hard to find donors for plumbing repairs. Still, everyone agrees that when the toilets don’t work, you’ve got a real problem.”

A bond is like a low interest loan, explains Kim Edwards, Texas Public Finance Authority executive director. The government sells bonds to investors, then over time pays them back with interest.

“The unique and positive thing about Proposition 8 is that state leaders made a concerted effort to fund deferred maintenance acknowledging that you shouldn’t spend money on new facilities without maintaining the ones you already have,” said Edwards, who pointed out that $850 million only amounts to 0.7% of the entire Texas government budget of $114 billion for 2001-03.

“As a citizen, I look at this as good insurance for the future,’ said Edwards. “Just like you change the oil in your car and the air conditioning filter in your house, spending a little now will provide more money for new projects later instead of more expensive remediation for facilities in serious decline.”

“For Texas Parks and Wildlife, Proposition 8 represents the largest bond Issue in our history,” said Andrew Sansom. He noted that it would provide up to $100 million over the next six years for repairs and improvements to TPW state parks, wildlife management areas and fish hatcheries.
Proposition 8 would fund a few new projects. In Northeast Houston, it includes $2.5 million to build the Sheldon Lake environmental Education Center to offer hands-on education for inner city school children, using former fish hatchery wetlands as a giant natural classroom. In San Antonio and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, it would replace 50-year-old state hospitals that can’t be renovated. This includes Texas’ last public hospital operated solely to treat tuberculosis and Hensen’s disease (leprosy) in San Antonio and two new outpatient facilities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to treat tuberculosis, diabetes, and other ailments among lower-income residents in a four-county area.

People in every region of Texas would feel the effects of Proposition 8. Since it would repair 35 state office buildings managed by the Texas Building and Procurement Commission it would help almost every state agency, as almost all agencies are TBPC tenants. Directly involved are the Texas Youth Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Buying and Procurement Commission, Texas Historical Commission, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas School for the Deaf, Texas School for the Blind, State Preservation Board, Adjutant General’s Department — Texas National Guard, Texas Department of Health, and Texas Department of Agriculture.
Voters may be confused because the Proposition 8 language does not mention any of the state agencies involved, and there are four other bond proposals on the ballot. The Proposition 8 ballot language will read, “The constitution amendment authorizing issuance of up $850 million in bonds payable from the general revenues of the state for construction and repair projects and for the purchase of needed equipment.”

Any registered voter can vote at local polling precincts from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on November 6. However, Texans can also vote early from October 22-November 2 at special early voting locations. Check with your local county clerk or election administrator for early voting details in your county.

Details about Proposition 8 are on the Internet at

I realize that November 6 falls during the first week of the regular deer season, but you can bet that for the future of our state parks, hunting, and fishing, I will be at a polling place to cast my vote for Proposition 8.

Future could be “Rosey” for OU-Nebraska winner

The final Saturday in October should be a pivotal one in college football, especially for teams that have dreams of playing in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. Two teams with such dreams square off in Lincoln, Nebraska when the No. 2-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (and the defending national champions) face off against No. 3-ranked Nebraska in a game whose outcome will be for much more than bragging rights in Big 12 country.

The winner of this game joins Miami as the odds-on-favorites to play in the BCS title game on Jan. 4, although with seven weeks left in the season, nothing is a given (don’t forget about UCLA and Virginia Tech!).

Before we take a look at the renewed rivalry between OU and Nebraska, let’s check last week’s results. A 10-2 week (the best to date) brought the season record to 43-17 (71 percent) and unlike the Astros, I plan on continuing my winning ways the remainder of the season.

While the college season is getting into high gear, high school teams are beginning to position themselves for post season play and with three weeks left in the regular season, Aldine ISD’s four varsity programs are all in the playoff hunt in District 21-SA. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap in 21-5A this week.

Spring Woods vs. Aldine: The Mustangs dropped a 37-21 decision to state-ranked Eisenhower two weeks ago, but proved they could move the ball and score against one of the state’s best defenses. Expect Aldine to put the hammer down this week at Bill Smith’s team gears up for its final two games of the season against arch rival MacArthur and a dangerous Nimitz team. My pick, Aldine 42, Spring Woods 7

MacArthur vs. Stratford: The Generals have gotten back into the 21 -5A race with back-to-back wins and they’ll need to continue on that track this week against a Stratford team which was the surprise squad of the league a year ago. The Generals exploded for a season-high 51 points two weeks ago in their win over Northbrook. MacArthur head coach Terry Forga knows the sledding gets tougher in the last two weeks of the season when the Generals close with Eisenhower and Aldine. He knows his team can’t afford any slip ups at this point of the season. My pick, MacArthur 26, Stratford 13

Eisenhower vs. Memorial: This could be a dangerous game for the Eagles. Along with the AISD schools, Memorial is also in the thick of the 21 -5A race and playing at home should help the Mustangs, but the Eagles have proven they have the talent to play with anyone, anywhere in the state. Two years ago, the Eagles were upset by Memorial in Spring Branch, so you can be sure head coach Richard Carson will not let his team forget that fact as they prepare for the game this weekend. My pick, Eisenhower 21, Memorial 16

Northbrook vs. Nimitz: The Nimitz running game has been getting better every week, so don’t be surprised if the Cougars run wild over the out manned Raiders this weekend. Nimitz head coach Randy Rowe knows no team can be taken lightly in this league, so expect the Cougars to be focused when they travel to Tulley Stadium this Saturday. My pick, Nimitz 41, Northbrook 3

Now it’s on to the college action, where a number of key games, including OU-Nebraska, are on tap this weekend.

Mississippi at LSU: This should be a good one in the SEC. Mississippi is riding high after a last-second victory over Alabama two weeks ago. Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning is making folks forget about his father and brother, Archie and Peyton, with the way he is playing in his first year as a starter. Those who have seen him play say he may be the most talented QB in the family, and that’s saying alot considering what his father and brother have accomplished. This week Eli and his mates face a tough road challenge in Death Valley. LSU narrowly escaped an upset bid by lowly Kentucky two weeks ago and the competition is definitely tougher this week. Rohan Davie and the rest of the Tigers had better bring their “A” game with them this week. My pick, LSU 31, Mississippi 28

Maryland at Florida State: Another tough road test for this year’s Cinderella team, the Maryland Terrapins. Two weeks ago, the Terps won at Georgia Tech in overtime, but this week, the task gets a little tougher. Even though Florida State is down this year, they are still Florida State and they’ve owned Maryland over the years. The Seminoles need to let the rest of the ACC know that they may be down, but they aren’t out. Look for FSU to put it all together this week as they send the Terps home with their first loss of the year. My pick, Florida State 36, Maryland 20

South Carolina at Tennessee: Another key game in the SEC. Lou Holtz’ s Gamecocks were upset two weeks ago at Arkansas when their offense was stifled by the Razorback defense. They’d better work out the kinks on that side of the ball this week when they play the fast and talented Volunteers in Neyland Stadium. Due to the events of Sept. 11, Tennessee is just getting into the meat of its schedule, which means they should be ready to peak. South Carolina will make things tough on them because of their solid play on defense, but Vols’ quarterback Casey Clausen has plenty of weapons on hand. Look for the Vols to rev it up against a game but undermanned South Carolina squad. My pick, Tennessee 31, South Carolina 17

Oklahoma at Nebraska: It’s too bad these teams don’t play every year as they did when they were in the Big 8 because it appears the Sooners are every bit as good as the Cornhuskers, just like it used to be in the 70s and 80s. Last year the Sooners spotted the Cornhuskers a 14-0 lead before scoring the game’s next 31 points en route to a 17-point thumping of the stunned ‘Huskers. Nebraska won’t let the Sooners sneak up on them this year, but then again, OU has answered every test to date en route to a 19-game winning streak. Nebraska has the edge on offense in this one, but they will face perhaps the best defense in the country when the Sooners come calling on Saturday. The Sooners stifled a high-powered Texas offense and have one of the best big-play performers in the country in safety Roy Williams. The key to an OU victory will be how well the OU offense performs and it appears handing the quarterback job to Jason White has been just what the Sooner offense has needed. The Sooners have the speed on defense to slow down the vaunted Nebraska running attack, so don’t be surprised is ‘Husker QB Tim Crouch comes out throwing. This should be another classic. My pick, OU 23, Nebraska 20

The NFL also has a number of intriguing matchups this weekend at the Saints travel to St. Louis to take on the division-leading Rams.

New Orleans at St. Louis: The Rams will want to send a message to the defending NFC West champs when they host the Saints on Sunday. St. Louis proved it could slug it out with one of the best defenses in the league when it eeked out a 15-14 win over the Giants two weeks ago. Although all-everything running back Marshall Faulk injured his knee in that game, it wasn’t expected to be serious. That’s a good thing because Faulk is the heart and soul of the team. The Saints have been going about their business in a very business-like manner this year. The also have one of the league’s best defenses. Expect them to put a lot of pressure on St. Louis QB Kurt Warner as they try and disrupt his rhythm with is cast of talented and speedy wide receivers. New Orleans’ best chances for a win on the road is to give the ball to Ricky Williams early and often. If he can control the clock and keep the Rams offense off the field, the Saints just might walk away tied for first in the division. My pick, St. Louis 23, New Orleans 21

Oakland at Philadelphia: The Oakland Raiders are proving they are not afraid to play on the road. They’ve earned road victories at Kansas City, Indianapolis and suffered a two-point loss at Miami. Not too bad. The Eagles should provide another stern test for the Silver and Black this Sunday. This should be a game controlled by two excellent defenses, so don’t expect a lot of scoring. The field goal kickers could be the key players in this one, although Donovan McNabb’s escape ability provides the Eagles with a weapon who can score from anywhere on the field. My pick, Oakland 16, Philadelphia 13

Minnesota at Tampa Bay: It’s payback time for the Bucs as they host the Vikings in a classic NFC Central battle. The Vikes defeated Tampa Bay earlier this season when they drove 96 yards in the closing minutes of the game to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but beating the Bucs in Tampa has been a difficult task for the Vikes over the past few seasons. Minnesota’s lack of a running game is going to cost them this week. The Bucs know they don’t have to respect the run, so expect them to tee off on Daunte Cullpepper as the Bucs extract a measure of revenge from their Week 2 loss. My pick, Tampa Bay 24, Minnesota 14

Tennessee at Pittsburgh: Don’t look now, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are leading the AFC Central. The Steelers are doing it the old fashioned way, with a ball hawking, swarming defense and strong running game. Quarterback Kordell Stewart has been steady, but you never know when he’s going to make a crucial mistake that will cost his team a victory. The Titans are hoping the old Kordell shows up on Monday night in Pittsburgh. For the Titans to win, they must get Eddie George untracked. He’s been bothered by a bad ankle, which does not bode well for a running back whose success depends on cutting back against the grain. If George can’t get going, that’s going to make things awfully tough on quarterback Steve McNair, and the Steelers are one of the best teams at smelling blood and attacking. My pick, Pittsburgh 26, Tennessee 13.