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Posts published in November 2001

Harris County Flood Control District eligible for $10.5 million for flood mitigation project

Grant money for the Harris County Flood Control District, Texas was approved today for a proposed project aimed at removing individuals and property from harm’s way, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The flood mitigation project, entitled City of Houston Acquisition Project, approved under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) will acquire and demolish approximately 314 substantially damaged structures at risk of future flooding. All acquired parcels will be converted to open space.

Funding is approved for $14,037,869 and will reduce the burden of emergency response and recovery and eliminate the potential for loss of life and property. Participation in the program by owners of the eligible property is on a strictly voluntary basis: Only those properties voluntarily offered for sale to the program will be considered for purchase. The requested federal cost share is $10,528,402 and comes from HMGP funds made available under the presidential disaster declaration of June. 9, 2001 for severe flooding due to Tropical Storm Allison.

“These funds are a cost-effective measure aimed at reducing or eliminating future risks to human life and property due to natural hazards,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells.

This is the second of two acquisition projects submitted by the Harris County Flood Control District, on behalf of the City of Houston. The first project was approved to acquire and demolish 147 damaged homes.

NEA President says inadequate parental involvement is major obstacle to education reform

National Education Association President Bob Chase today challenged teachers, education employees, families and community members to come together to overcome what he called the “sleeping tigers” getting in the way of ensuring a quality education to every child. Citing poor parental and family involvement in America’s public schools, Chase said that the emotionally-charged issues of race and diversity, the time crunch, and poor parenting must be addressed if educators are to truly help children succeed.

Returning to the National Press Club podium for the third time since becoming president of the nation’s largest union, Chase acknowledged that parent and family outreach efforts across the country are “still in the pioneering stage in many school districts,” and cited this lack of involvement as why “we are still coming up short” in education improvement. Chase noted that “racial, ethnic and class differences are a reality in our society,” saying that, ‘if we pretend they do not exist, and do not deal with them, we will never forge the powerful teacher-parent alliance that every child deserves.” He urged administrators to provide mentoring and professional development programs that help teachers better connect with students and parents of different- and often distant – cultures.

To help address the issue of busy parents and lack of time, Chase called for every employer to provide two additional hours per month paid leave to meet with their child’s teacher or volunteer at their child’s school. “It is not enough to tout family values,” he said. “We must value families.

And if that means higher labor costs, so be it.”
The NEA leader praised efforts of Encina High School in Sacramento, California, whose campus houses separate programs to assist families living in poverty Young children, teens, and parents have access to education and counseling services, and health care assistance is provided by members of the NEA local affiliate. “Public schools should be the hub of communities,” Chase said.

“Parent and family outreach is sometimes seen as only a feel-good program,” the NEA President said, “but it has real, measurable impact. Every school needs to rethink everything it does,” Chase said. “From parent-teacher conferences to homework. School must be a welcoming, helpful, and totally open place.”

President Chase challenged NEA members to take the lead in building parent and family involvement in America’s schools. “This is teacher’s work, it is the work of every school employee, and it is union work. It is what we must do if we are going to educate every child to the fullest extent of his or her abilities. f urge our local unions to make parent and family involvement one of their top priorities when bargaining their next contract.”

Remembering the terrible events of September 11, Chase closed his address by noting the vital role teachers played in helping students deal with their feelings and fears in the aftermath of the attacks, and praised parents for resolving to spend more time with their children, and less time on things that now seem far less important – like the office. Teachers and parents – we’re two peas from the same pod. And if we work together, there is no telling how much our children will achieve.”

The NEA is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 2.6 million elementary and secondary teachers, college faculty, educational support professionals, school administrators,, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

Student Council officers elected at Mac Arthur Ninth Grade School

Mac Arthur Ninth Grade School Student Council recently elected officers who meet weekly to plan student council activities for the class of 2005. The group sponsored Red Ribbon Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, and a blood drive. Upcoming events include a holiday canned food drive for the Aldine community and volunteer services for the Houston Food Bank. This year’s officers are pictured above: (front row, left to right) Liliana Rodriguez, Felicia Guerrero, Lorethia Nelson; (second row, left to right) David Granados, Javier Mayoral, and Tracey Allen.

HCCS receives $310,000 grant for Student Support Services

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant to the Houston Community College System to continue operating the HCCS Student Support Services Program. This is a four-year grant that will bring $310,988 per year to HCCS to maintain this important service that helps ensure success for hundreds of Houston-area students.

The Student Support Services Program (SSSP) is in its 14th year on campus and serves over 200 at-risk students each year.

The SSSP provides tutorials, individualized counseling, enrichment activities, and a friendly campus climate to help students stay in college and complete their education. Once every 4 years, the HCCS Student Support Services Director Jose Salazar, competes for refunding of this program with over 1200 applicants from other institutions of higher education from around the country.

The HCCS Student Support Services Program staff consists of four full-time employees and 15-20 part-time tutors who provide critical academic support to students considered at-risk.

“We are specifically a retention program and focus on low-income, first-generation students,’ says SSSP Director Salazar. “As such, our operational objectives are very clearly spelled out for us by the U.S. Department of Education. The SSSP staff began tutoring activities for the current academic year on September 4th, and will continue to be there for the students, guiding and encouraging them to stay in school, graduate, and achieve their lifelong goals.”

Distinguished Gentlemen at Eckert learn to tie a tie

Your tie is the signature of your wardrobe.
At Eckert, every Wednesday, it is mandatory that each Distinguished Gentlemen wear a long sleeved dress shirt and a tie with khaki pants. Mr. Bumsted, one of the sponsors, taught a hands-on lesson on tie tying.The young men were excited about learning to tie the Windsor Knot (wide and triangular). Mr. Bumsted, along with Mr. Scott, taught several different popular knot tying techniques such as the Half-Windsor Knot and the Four-In-Hand Knot. Conservative or latest trend, each time the Distinguished Gentlemen wear a tie, they make a statement about themselves and the wonderful organization.

Hambrick students kick their way into State soccer club competition

While many sports fans are worried about college football or the NFL, a group of young men at Hambrick Middle School are taking the true meaning of “foot” ball to new heights. The team is called The Atlas. They are on top of the world as they get ready for the Eastern District playoffs in Kingwood during the first week of December.

The Atlas, under the coaching leadership of Hambrick Assistant Principal Reuben Mares has enjoyed a successful year. With a 7-3 record and a couple of tournament championships under their belt, the Atlas won their bracket in the Divisional playoffs for 15 year-olds in the Soccer Club competition. “It’s tougher at the club soccer level than at the recreational level,” said Mares.

That means the victories are harder to come by. The team organized in June and bonded as a team that effectively works together on the field. “They’ve done very well! This is something that not only builds self-confidence and leadership but it spills over into the academic areas of the classroom.” Mares said proudly. Coach Mares requires his team members to be passing their classes to continue on the team. Under state law, students who take part in extra-curricular activities must be passing all classes.

However this particular soccer team falls outside of the organized school team athletics. But Mares still maintains the standard, keeping his student athletes motivated in the classroom and on the field.

If the Atlas is successful, the team of up and comers will advance to the state competition. That means going up against some of the best teams in Texas. The Atlas is organized under the Conroe Youth Soccer league but the team is made up of youngsters who come from the area around Aldine Mail Route and Hambrick Middle School. The entire competition is overseen by the Texas Youth Soccer Association.

So move over BCS, move over NFL and NBA, these guys are getting a kick out of winning and may prove to be the lone star over Texas in soccer. But win or lose on the field, they have already proven themselves champions in heart, attitude and effort!

In Service Of Our Country

A1C Arival H. Medrano (top) and A1C Jose Ramirez (bottom) visit with U.S. Air Force Recruiter James M. Johnson before leaving for their new assignments. Medrano will be stationed at Kirkland AFB in New Mexico with the security forces. Ramirez, is assigned to pavements and equipment at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. Both young men are MacArthur High School graduates.

Tele-Centers Offer Assistance for Unemployment Insurance

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has made filing for Unemployment Insurance (UI) easier than ever before. Although unemployed Texans have been filing their claims by phone since 1999, new enhancements have made the system even more efficient and convenient.

Enhancements, such as additional assigned filing days, allow customers more convenience and relieve call congestion during peak filing days.

“It’s crucial for customers to know their options when coping with a layoff” said TWC Executive Director Cassie Carison Reed. “The ability to do business by phone provides valuable relief for workers in such a stressful time.”

UI is an employer-paid insurance that helps workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. It provides temporary financial help to qualified individuals based on their previous earnings while they are looking for work.

TWC uses an innovative service method that allows claimants to conduct HI and other related business by telephone. Since UI claims are no longer handled in local offices, instead of driving up to 50 miles to an office and then having to wait in line, a more efficient system now handles claims and UI business with a local or toll-free telephone call to one of the seven Tele-Centers.

To talk with a representative or file a claim, customers should call the nearest Tele-Center number or the toll-free number for calls outside local areas. Customer service representatives are available in most areas from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time, Monday through Friday. The Houston area Tele-Center recently extended its hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. as an added convenience.

Houston: 713-982-7400 Telecommunications devices for hearing impaired can communicate with TWC offices by using Relay Texas. 1-800-735-2989 (TDD) or 1-800-735-2988 (voice)

The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically.

For details on TWC and the services it offers in unison with its network of local Workforce development boards, call 512-463-8556 or visit

Florida needs win over Tennessee to throw its hat into BCS ring

The Big 12 Conference thinks it has a lock on landing its champion in the Rose Bowl opposite Miami (let’s face it folks, the Hurricanes are good, very good) in the BCS Championship Game, but don’t count out the Florida Gators.

Florida looked impressive again two weeks ago, disposing of the once powerful Florida State Seminoles, 37-13. Should the Gators win this week against Tennessee, which will put them in the SEC title game, and then win that game, it might be hard for the BCS computer to deny them a shot at cross state rival Miami. But then again, it would be hard to deny a 13-0 Nebraska team a shot at the national title, should the Huskers defeat Oklahoma for a second time in the Big 12 title game.

Before we take a look at that key SEC game, let’s review last week record. A 7-5 week brought the season record to a very respectable 84-36 97 percent).

Now let’s take a look at this week’s abbreviated, but pivotal college schedule.

Tennessee at Florida: This game was supposed to be played Sept. 15, but the game was moved to Dec. 1 after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Almost three months later, this is still a huge game in the SEC and in the BCS standings. The winner moves on to the SEC title game, where it should take care of business against a possible three-loss team from the SEC West. Florida is playing as well as any team in the country and quarterback Rex Grossman is a viable candidate to win the Heismann Trophy. If Grossman is on, and he’s been on all season, the Vols will be in for a long afternoon. Look for the Gators to strike early and keep applying pressure on both sides of the ball all day long. A convincing win over one of the country’s top teams could sway a lot of BCS votes their way. My pick, Florida 33, Tennessee 16

Miami at Virginia Tech: As the season has wound down, Miami has turned it up as evidenced by its 59-0 thumping of an 8-2 Syracuse team two weeks ago and not even a trip to Blacksburg, VA will keep Miami from its appointed date in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4. Virginia Tech is not the team it was two years ago when it faced Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the national title, but Hokie fans would certainly like to see their team give Miami a game this weekend. Sorry, but Hokie fans are going to be in for a very long afternoon as Ken Dorsey and his mates chalk up another big win. My pick, Miami 34, Virginia Tech 10

Notre Dame at Purdue: This will probably be Bob Davie’s last game as head coach at Notre Dame. Rumors and have been circulating for weeks that he’s out in South Bend, but Davie isn’t buying them. Maybe when it’s official, he’ll start believing that it’s true. Davie is loyal to his players and one would hope that loyalty would be returned with an all out effort against in-state rival Purdue. The Boilermakers have slipped the last few weeks, having dropped two of their last three games, but expect them to put forth one of their better efforts of the year in this one, but it won’t be enough to stop a determined ND team. My pick, Notre Dame 23, Purdue 20

Auburn at LSU: The winner of this game gets the pleasure of being fodder for the Florida-Tennessee winner in the SEC title game the following week. Auburn is still smarting after the 31-7 pasting arch rival Alabama put on it two weeks ago at home, but if the Tigers are still feeling sorry for themselves, they could be in for another long evening when they travel to Baton Rogue. LSU has been inconsistent this season, but playing for the SEC West crown should be enough to motivate quarterback Rohan Davie and the rest of the team. Look for Davie to come out throwing all over the place as second-year head coach Nick Saban gets his team to the league’s championship game. My pick, LSU 27, Auburn 18

Now let’s see what the NFL has to offer this weekend.

Indianapolis at Baltimore: Indianapolis’ injury-riddled offense takes on a Baltimore team that is beginning to realize that it can’t take any opponent lightly. The Ravens were swept by the Cleveland Browns this year, a team that won two games a year ago. Baltimore’s defense is still one of the best in the business, but quarterback Elvis Grbac has been prone to turnovers and the offense has not gotten untracked this season. Maybe they miss super back Jamal Lewis more than they are leading on. Still, the Ravens should be able to handle the Colts, who are simply playing out the string. With Edgrin James gone for the year, teams will be able to unload on quarterback Peyton Manning and when it comes to applying pressure, the Ravens are the best. Manning may have to be put back together again after this one. My pick, Baltimore 26, Indianapolis 12

Denver at Miami: Both of these teams played poorly two weeks ago in losses to the Redskins and Jets, respectively. The Denver offense could not get untracked against a so-so Washington defense, while the Dolphins offense was inept all afternoon as quarterback Jay Fiedler had two interceptions returned for touchdowns by the Jets. Something has to give this week. Denver is playing for its playoff life, and a loss to the Fish could all but settle their fate for the rest of the season. There are three teams ahead of them in the AFC West and at this late juncture of the season, that’s not a good thing. Miami is in better shape in its division (they are thankful they don’t have to play the Jets again), but they need to beat a quality opponent to renew some confidence in their camp. Look for the Miami defense to be the difference in this one as they pressure Denver QB Brian Griese into some crucial mistakes. My pick, Miami 20, Denver 13

New England at New York Jets: The Patriots played hard in their 24-17 loss to St. Louis two weeks ago and even though they lost, they proved they can play with the NFL’s best team. This should be a competitive game and there is no love lost among these two AFC East rivals. The Jets may not look pretty, but they get the job done and that’s all that matters in the NFL. This should be a game dominated by the defenses. Give the Jets the advantage because they can run the ball better and in a tight game, that is a huge advantage. My pick, NY Jets 16, New England 13

Minnesota at Pittsburgh: The Vikings could be in for a long day when they take on the Steelers and their sack-happy defense. The lack of a running game has hurt Minnesota all year and that point will be driven home this week when they take on the league’s best defense. Viking quarterback Daunte Cullpepper will be harassed all day long, which will result in a key turnover or two. When the Steelers have the ball, look for them to pound running back Jerome Bettis at the Vikes’ suspect front seven. This one could be over by half-time. My pick, Pittsburgh 27, Minnesota 10

Dallas at Washington: Since the Redskins lost to the Cowboys on Monday night they’ve been on a roll, while the Cowboys have regressed. It’s obvious that the Dallas offense has no clue and it doesn’t help matters that they’ve gone through more quarterbacks than Liz Taylor has husbands. The Redskins are in the hunt for a playoff spot (not bad for a team that lost its first five games) and they will be out to end Dallas’ eight-game winning streak. ‘Skins’ running back Stephen Davis is starting to hit the holes with authority, so look for plenty of him this Sunday. My pick, Washington 26, Dallas 13

Green Bay at Jacksonville: The Packers will have had 11 days to get ready for this one after their Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit, so look for them to be rested and ready to make their push for the playoffs. They need to be wary of a Jacksonville team that plays hard on defense and plays well at home and with the glare of the Monday Night lights, the Jags could be a dangerous team to face. If Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre is on, and he has been most of the season, the Packers should be able to handle Jacksonville, even with Fred Taylor back in the lineup. My pick, Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 20.