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Posts published in “Day: November 13, 2001

Historic Texas flags fly proudly again

The historic flags of Texas are visible remnants of Texas history – a tangible connection to the historic events that make Texas so unique. Texas flags have endured many struggles, the most recent being restoration to their former glory.

The road to restoring Texas historic flags is a long and often arduous one. Early attempts to display historic Texas flags began in 1925, when the state legislature passed a law permitting the State Library and Archives to lend their flags to a nearby museum. Located in the old General Land Office Building, the museum was run by both the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The practice continued until the building was renovated in the early 1980s. It was then the legislature appropriated $30,000 to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon to build a conservation center where such artifacts could be restored. Because of declining revenues, however, it was a one-time-only appropriation, funding conservation of only half the historic flags in the state’s possession, all of which were then returned to Austin and placed in storage.

In 1997, Texas Historical Commission (THC) Chair John L. Nau, III viewed the flags and saw their deteriorating condition. Stored in adjacent boxes was the flag captured by Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto and the flag of the First Texas Infantry.

“I felt an internal call to action,” said Nau. “I was looking at what represented a symbol of the bloodiest day in American history and felt something had to be done.”

A fund-raising effort to conserve the flags began in earnest through Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, Inc. – a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of protecting, preserving and promoting Texas’ rich and unique heritage. Friends raised more than $360,500 for the project.

Nau contacted Fonda Thomsen, director of a Maryland textile preservation company, and considered the nation’s foremost expert in the field. Nau worked with Thomsen on a previous project and knew of her expertise in the preservation and reconstruction of historic flags and fabrics.

Former Houston congressman Mike Andrews became interested in the project, seeking to have the flags displayed, and the groundwork was laid for a first-of-its-kind exhibition.

In January 1998, the THC, along with the State Library and Archives, hired historian Bob Maberry, who had done extensive research on Texas flags, when the project became the Historic Flags of Texas Project.

“To my knowledge, the ‘Texas Flags’ exhibition is the first of its kind, anywhere,” said Nau. “For this alone, it can stand on its own merit; however, its greater significance is demonstrated as it traces the path of Texas history. It also can he an inspirational model for other states.” Fourteen historic flags owned by the State of Texas have been conserved as a result of this effort.

These flags are part of the Texas Flags: 1836-1945 exhibition on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from January 13-April 28, 2002.

The Texas Historical Commission is the state agency for historic preservation. The agency administers a variety o programs to preserve the archeological, historical and cultural resources of Texas.

“The Heist” deserves to be a hit

A few months ago it was “The Score,” now it’s “Heist” and it won’t be long before “Oceans Eleven” hits a big screen near you. The caper film is alive and thriving.

This is a good thing.

If you liked “The Score,” the similarly named “Heist” should offer you some enjoyment. The title is not that imaginative. By my count, there have been three other movies with the same name, some add “The.”

You’d think the filmmakers could come up with something a little more original. This movie is not a remake; it’s written and directed by Pulitzer Prize winner and Oscar nominee David Mamet.

The title is not original and the plot is pretty much standard caper fare, but it’s all acted and put together so well that those shortcomings don’t matter.

What might matter to some, though it did not stop this reviewer’s enjoyment until well after the movie was over, is the fact that as clever as the dialogue and double crosses are – there are discrepancies in logic as large as Enron’s financial problems.

What makes you not notice the holes until later is Hackman’s commanding performance and Mamet’s snappy, sharp and twisted writing. Like DeNiro in “The Score,” Hackman commands attention just by being on screen. He may not be as young as he was as Popeye Doyle in the 1971 “The French Connection,” but he’s just as tough and intriguing.
For some, he might even be considered just as sexy. Hackman’s always had an every man, non-movie star appeal. He can be scary and rough or he can be vulnerable and sensitive. His competency and intelligence shine through from “The Poseidon Adventure,” “Hoosiers” to “Get Shorty” and “The Replacements.”

Hackman is the honorable, good guy – bad guy. We root for him all the way, even when he is robbing, beating and yelling. He does a lot of yelling.
It’s his reluctance to kill an innocent during the jewelry store robbery which starts the film that gets him caught on security cameras. “He’s made.”

He wants to leave the country with his share of the booty from the score — they all talk that criminal lingo: burned, score, suit up, made, so on – with his woman played by Rebecca Pidgeon. Many question what she sees in him since she’s so much younger and a bit of a hottie. Pidgeon has been in other Mamet films.

Danny DeVito plays the fence who sets up the jewelry store job. It’s the classic gangster scenario of a main man wanting to go straight, but he keeps getting pulled back in – for one last job, hit, score, whatever.

So he has to do one more job to get his share from the DeVito character, but there’s a catch – he has to add DeVito’s slimy henchman, played by the all too slimy Sam Rockwell, to his crew.

It is not just Hackman and Mamet’s skills that shine in “Heist,” the rest of the cast is equal. Pidgeon is excellent as Hackman’s wife.
But in pursuit of the one big last score, he leaves himself open when he sends her to the other side to gather info and divert attention.

It’s easier to trust the always-interesting Delroy Lindo, Hackman’s long time associate, than it is his pretty young wife, but than maybe not…. Ricky Jay (another Mamet regular) gets some of the best lines as the clean up man of the crew. It is worth the price of admission just to see how good a “cut off” man he is.

“Heist” is a lot of fun. It’s kind of a “Monsters Inc.,” just for adults.

Rated-R for language and violence

Sooners need to be wary of trip to Lubbock

The Oklahoma Sooners are holding out hope that they will be able to defend their national title this year, which means they need to be focused when they travel to Lubbock this weekend to take on a Texas Tech team that is capable of derailing the Sooner’s season.

Just ask Texas A&M. The Aggies suffered a 12-0 loss in Lubbock two weeks ago in a game that was followed by a nasty fracas when some over zealous Tech students attempted to deposit one of the goal posts in the A&M student section. Needless to say, the Aggies and their fans won’t soon forget what happened for a long, long time.

But back to the present. The Sooners know they must win their remaining games to win the Big 12 North Division and set up a rematch against Nebraska in the league’s championship game, set for Dec. 1 in Texas Stadium.

Before we delve into that game and this week’s schedule, let’s review last week’s performance. An 8-4 record brought the season mark to 68-28 (70 percent). I’ll take seven out of 10 wins any day.
Now that high school teams are in the playoffs, this column will concentrate on college and NFL games for the remainder of the season, and there are plenty of key games at both levels this weekend.

Let’s start with the collegians.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech: These two teams are mirror images of one another. They both run the same offense and have defenses that are quick and fast. The key in this game will be how well Tech quarterback Kliff Kinsgbury performs. If he has the time to find his receivers, then Tech could pull off the upset, but expect OU to pressure Kingsbury all afternoon on the West Texas plains. The Sooners will try to get former Nimitz High start Quentin Griffin untracked to open up things for its passing attack. This should be a close game, but give the nod to the Sooners because they have more to play for than does Tech. I can tell you one thing; the folks in Austin will be pulling for the Red Raiders this weekend. My pick, Oklahoma 26, Texas Tech 23

Alabama at Auburn: One of the country’s bitterest rivalries plays out on Saturday as the Crimson Tide hope to salvage their season and at the same time throw a wrench into Auburn’s hopes of reaching the SEC title game. First-year head coach Dennis Franchione has had a so-so year with the Tide, but you can bet he’ll have that program turned around within a year or two and a win over Auburn would do much for recruiting and momentum heading into the off season. Auburn, on the other hand, has a lot to play for this week, so look for them to pull out all the stops in this one. LSU proved the Tide can be passed on as quarterback Rohan Davie threw for more than 600 yards (that’s not a typo) against ‘Bama two weeks ago. My pick, Auburn 31, Alabama 20

Florida State at Florida: Since they were thumped by Miami in early October, the Seminoles have been on a roll and don’t expect them to be intimidated against a Florida team that is good, but not great. Freshman quarterback Mark Rix has played as well as any QB in the country in the last four weeks and with another talented slinger on the other side of the field in Florida’s Rex Grossman, this one could turn into a shootout. It appears FSU is coming of age at the right time and a win in Gainesville would be a huge boost for Bobby Bowden’s young team. Florida can afford to lose this game and still land a BCS spot with a win over Tennessee on Dec. 1, followed by a win in the SEC title game a week later. My pick, Florida State 34, Florida 32

Illinois at Ohio State: Illinois has quietly put together an outstanding season and they opened a lot of eyes around the Big 10, and the country, with their 38-13 pasting at Purdue two weeks ago. Ohio State has played well this year under first-year head coach Jim Tressel and should the Buckeyes win their remaining two games, they would win the Big 10 title. Not bad for a guy who has never coached at the Division I level. This game will pit Ohio State’s solid defense against Illinois’ talented quarterback Kurt Kitner. Expect the Buckeyes to pressure Kitner into a key mistake late in the game that turns this one in OSU’s favor. My pick, Ohio State 27, Illinois 23

Syracuse at Miami: This is the first of three key games for Miami as it begins its quest for the Rose Bowl. The Hurricanes’ task is simple: win out, and they will be one of the two teams playing for the national championship on Jan. 4. Earlier in the season, this looked like an easy win for the ‘Canes, but not now. Syracuse has won eight straight games, including a road win at then-No.-4-ranked Virginia Tech. But even though the Orangemen are on a roll, they will be playing a Miami team that is rolling itself and is balanced and talented on both sides of the ball. If this game were being played in Syracuse I’d give the Orangemen a chance, but there’s no way they’ll win at Miami. My pick, Miami 35, Syracuse 17

Clemson at South Carolina: The battle for state bragging rights pits Lou Holtz’s Gamecocks against Tommy Bowden’s Tigers. You can bet there will be 80,000-plus screaming fans when South Carolina hits the field in search of its second straight bowl bid. Holtz has worked his magic once again, taking a team that was 0-11 just two years ago to its second straight bowl game and a chance at a 10-win season. Look for the Gamecock defense to corral Clemson’s Woody Danzler in this one as South Carolina rolls to a win. My pick, South Carolina 33, Clemson 14

Now it’s on to the NFL, where the Monsters of the Midway face their first tough road test in weeks.

Chicago at Tampa Bay: If you saw the Bears’ dramatic win over the Browns two weeks ago, you have to start believing that maybe, just maybe Chicago is a team of destiny this year. In back to back weeks, they overcame double digit deficits to win in overtime, but this week they face a real test against a Tampa Bay team that is hard to beat at home. A win at Tampa will be predicated on how well rookie running back Anthony Thomas performs. If he is able to get untracked against a suspect Buc run defense, then the Bears should escape with a victory. Remember, this TB team has allowed 169 yards rushing to Ahman Green and 146 to Jerome Bettis, which proves the Bucs can be run on. My pick, Chicago 20, Tampa Bay 16

NY Jets at Miami: A key AFC East meeting as the road-happy Jets take on a Miami team that is quietly putting together a very good season. The Dolphins don’t get the press and attention like Oaldand, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but they have the second best record in the AFC and are tough to beat at home. But playing on the road doesn’t seem to bother the Jets. They’ve won more on the road then they have at home and over the years they’ve had success winning at Miami. This should be a tightly contested game, but look for the Miami running game to be the difference in this one. My pick, Miami 16, NY Jets 14

Indianapolis at New Orleans: The Colts are on a roll and the scary thing is, they’re doing it without star running back Edgrin James, while the Saints are still trying to find themselves as a team. New Orleans did not look good on either side of the ball in their 16-9 loss at home to the Jets two weeks ago and this week they will be playing a much more explosive offense. The Saints will need Ricky Williams to have a big day because if the running game can control the clock and keep Peyton Manning off the field, the Saints should be able to pull this one out. My pick, New Orleans 23, Indianapolis 21

San Diego at Oakland: Another key AFC divisional game as these two long-time AEC West rivals meet in Oaldand. The Raiders look like the best team in the AFC. They can beat you with their running game, their passing game and they have a defense that bends but makes the key play when it’s needed. The Chargers are beginning to show their youth and inexperience as evidenced by their 25-20 loss to Kansas City two weeks ago. In that game the Chiefs did a good job of stuffing the San Diego running game and knocked quarterback Doug Flutie out of the game with a concussion. Look for the Raiders to harass Flutie all afternoon while Raider QB Rich Gannon has a field day throwing to Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. My pick, Oakland 34, San Diego 17

Philadelphia at Dallas: The Cowboys would like nothing more than to avenge their 40-18 loss to Eagles this week. Dallas is improving, but they’ve got to learn how to put teams away. That was apparent in their 27-24 overtime loss to the Giants two weeks ago, a game in which they led by 17 points in the second half. It appears Jerry Jones will go with Ryan Leaf at quarterback, which has the Eagles’ defense licking its chops. Leaf has a strong arm, but is not mobile, so look for the Eagles to blitz and pressure him all afternoon. Dallas has a decent defense of its own and if it can contain Donovan McNabb, then the Pokes might pull off the upset. I say it happens. My pick, Dallas 16, Philadelphia 13

Minnesota at NY Giants: A rematch of last year’s NFC championship game. Let’s just hope this one is more competitive. You remember that game, a 41-0 Giants win. The Vikings are a team in turmoil. They are fighting among themselves, which is not a good sign, but the Giants aren’t anything to write home about either. They are at best an average football team, no matter how much spin head coach Jim Fassel tries to put on things. Expect the Vikes to show up for this one and put forth a quality effort. It’s time for Randy Moss to step up and play like the highest paid wide receiver in the league. If Minnesota entertains any hopes of a playoff berth, they’ve got to win this one. My pick, Minnesota 27, NY Giants 18.

Guns flare, stars shine at Jones Park

For those tasteful individuals with an interest in the natural world around them, Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center offers a trio of programs you can enjoy this weekend. The weekend kicks off with a Girl Scout Wildlife Badge Workshop Saturday, November 17 at 9 am., followed by a Black Powder Demonstration at 1 p.m. And those wanting to learn more about the nighttime sky can enjoy a Stargazing program Saturday, evening at 7 p.m.

The requirements for Junior Girl Scout badges can often be a difficult task to complete in a short time period, since there are varying objectives that require differing locations, skills or supplies. Jones Park staff and volunteers bring all the items needed for the Wildlife Badge together Saturday, November 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during a Girl Scout Wildlife Badge Workshop. Junior Girl Scouts arc welcome to join us for a nature packed day learning about the importance of the wildlife all around us. Reservations are required and may be made beginning Wednesday, November 7.

Anyone with an interest in early American weaponry’ can learn more about them Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. as Jones Park’s Redbud Hill Homestead comes alive with the resounding booms of black powder weapons during Fire In the Hole! Volunteers are on hand to demonstrate and answer questions about early Texas black powder weapons, or “smokepoles.”

That evening 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.

With the Houston area weather often remaining rather warm into the winter months, it is sometimes difficult to get into the spirit of the Christmas holiday season. What better way to kick things off than an Old-fashioned Christmas celebration at Jones Park? This family-oriented event affords participants the opportunity to experience the Christmas traditions of earlier times, as well as our international heritage.

Traditional foods, music and customs are all featured during this festive holiday event. Each family brings an old-fashioned dish to add to the feast. Reservations are required.

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.

Harry Potter casts a spell on Eckert students

The book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, captivates Jeanne Johnston’s 6th grade reading class at Eckert Intermediate School. This who-done-it, full of magic and mystery, keeps them wanting more. From now through Christmas, many reading lessons will interweave with the antics of Harry and his friends. The possibilities for varied, interesting instruction are endless. From learning new words to determining cause and effect relationships, the students look forward to each day with Potter. Shown (l-r) are Emmanuel Puerto, Joshua Anderson, Germaine Moye, Holly Broomfield, Jesse Rodriguez, John Ryan Crawford and Joshua Johnson.

Harris Academy participte in “Make A Difference Day”

The “Make a Difference Day” Food Campaign was a tremendous success for the second year in a row at Harris Academy. With over 900 students participating, the food started to really stack up on the stage where the items were stored. Everything from canned and paper goods to liquid soap and other toiletry items were donated to help fill the shortage at Living Word Fellowship Church’s food pantry, which services the needy families in the area. At the end of the collection drive, the over 2,800 items, almost double that of last year’s food drive, were loaded into 3 trucks and 2 cars and students and school staff climbed in to deliver the much-needed items over to the church. “Congratulations goes to our outstanding boys and girls who really took this project to heart and made it such a success,” said Harris Academy Program Coordinator Denise Butler. “Special recognition also goes Danna Bennett, mom of kindergartner Joe Lewis, who went the extra mile collecting hundreds of donated items from various IIEB Food Pantry stores.” Janiel Adams, Harris Academy Magnet Coordinator added, “This project was a great success and the students really enjoyed participating knowing that they were helping someone in need and that they were doing their part to make a difference in their own community. It also reinforces the school’s focus on community service as a part of being responsible leaders. We have combined this drive with President Bush’s initiative to ask our children to help provide relief for the children of Afghanistan. We are collecting the dollars from our students along with letters written to the children and these will be forwarded to President Bush.”

Sldine Ninth students collect diapers for Ruth’s House

Students at Aldine Ninth Grade collected children’s socks and disposable diapers throughout the week of October 22-26 for Ruth’s House, a charitable organization that assists women and children. The theme of the drive was called “Cover the seat, cover the feet.” The drive was organized by members of Student Council, Young Men Taking Charge and Ladies of Excellence. Students helping to load the van from left to right include Serderrio Thomas, Crystal Thomas, Laquetta Phillips, Patricia Villarreal, Crystal Robles, TriDung Le and Delvin Pollard.

Harris County, HCC-Northeast dedicate Crites Street jail

More than 100 county, city, community and educational leaders gathered recently as the Harris County Sheriffs Department and Houston Community College-Northeast officially unveiled their new inmate education facility at 4627 Crites Street.
More than a dedication, the event was a celebration heralding nearly 30 years of cooperation between the two entities to provide education for the county’s inmates.

The county-college partnership began in 1973 when the Sheriffs Department asked the college to begin teaching Adult Basic Education (ABE)/GED classes under a Texas Education Agency Adult Literacy Grant.

Three years later, HCC was asked to provide vocational classes at the Atascosita jail site. From that beginning, the inmate education program has grown into one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

While expressing pride over the Crites ‘campus’ during the dedication, Sheriff Tommy Thomas discussed the effect education and training has on the recidivism rate of inmates. Although figures are not available on the success rate of graduates from the Harris County-HCC program, Sheriff Thomas said: “my years in law enforcement have led me to believe that inmates are more likely to go straight if they leave here with marketable skills.”

Dr. Margaret Forde, president of HCC-Northeast, expressed the importance of inmate education/training to provide inmates with marketable skills for re-entry into the workforce. She congratulated the Sheriffs Department on a model partnership, and complimented the faculty, staff and Sheriffs Department liaisons for the excellent delivery of instruction.

Currently, in addition to ABE/GED/ESL, courses are offered include: auto body repair, auto mechanics, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), office practices, consumer electronics, culinary arts (chef), cabinet making, general construction, building maintenance, graphic arts, commercial arts, tailoring, upholstery, floor and wall coverings, welding, workplace literacy, leather trades, and horticulture.