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Posts published in “Day: December 11, 2001

Houston Workforce to benefit from $832,016 job training grant from TWC

The Houston workforce will benefit from an $832,016 training grant that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) awarded last week to the Houston Community College System, in partnership with a local business consortium.

The grant is from the Self-Sufficiency Fund, which helps welfare recipients move into the workforce and off public assistance. It will create 260 jobs for the business consortium. Upon completion of training, employees will hold such positions as stocker, cashier, meat cutter, bus driver, security guard and certified nurse assistant, and will receive an average hourly wage of $9.14.

“This grant is a boon to the Gulf Coast and to the 260 workers who will receive workforce training,” said state Senator Rodney Ellis. “When we provide people the means to support themselves, we have done a valuable service to the individual, the fami1y and the community as a whole. This grant does just that, and I congratulate the Houston Community College System and the employers involved for making it a reality.”

“Assisting all Texans to be self-sufficient is one of our top priorities,” said TWC Chair Diane Rath, “Thanks to the governor and the State Legislature, TWC makes these grants available each year, assisting thousands of Texans to enjoy the rewards of this great state.”

In Fiscal Year 2001, 24 Self-Sufficiency Fund grants created 3,607 jobs. The jobs paid an average hourly wage of $8.41. The grant’s totaled $11,911,839 and helped 195 employers.

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 512-463-8S36 or Visit

St. Luke Missionary Baptist to honor Eagle Scout

Rev. Stanley T. Hillard, Sr., pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, is proud to announce, after 86 years of community service, a “Court of Honor Celebration” of the church’s first BSA Eagle Scout, Trenton LeBritt Reece.

Trenton is a member of Scout Troop #766 which is in the “Antares District”, and a part of the Sam Houston Area Council.

The Court of Honor will be held Sunday, December 16 at 11:00 a.m. during the worship service, with a reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall.
The Church is located at 4200 Lockwood Dr. in the Kashmere Gardens section of the city.

All Scouts and Scout Leaders are requested to wear their uniforms. Please come and celebrate this “First” for our Church and Troop.

All kids invited to make a gift at Santa’s workshop

Aldine First United Methodist Church, located at 4623 Aldine Bender, is offering a unique opportunity for all children this Christmas. All children 4-years and older are invited to come and be Santa’s elves on Saturday, December 15th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The children can “shop” and for $1.00 each, they will pick out which gift is just right They will have help making wonderful Christmas presents for their families. There will be many choices of gifts for all age levels to create. Kids will feel really special when they have been able to make a unique gift for their Mom, Dad, and sisters and brothers. While they secretly create their Christmas gifts, adults can enjoy refreshments in an adjoining room. The gifts will be packaged so that they remain a surprise until Christmas. Let your children experience the joy of Christmas gift giving this season. See you at Santa’s Workshop! Call the church office at 281-442-4961 for more information.

Mendel Parent Involvement Day a success

Mendel Elementary’s Parent Involvement Day was a big success for parents and students alike. Parents were invited to read books with their child in the second annual Reader’s Restaurant. Fourth grade students acted as the waitstaff and served books and snacks. Throughout the day, parents visited their children’s classrooms and participated in various activities such as P.E., music, and academic activities. Mendel’s Parent Involvement Day came to an end with the Game Gallery, where parents played board games or worked on puzzles. The day was filled with excitement and good times well spent. Parent Involvement coordinator Mrs. April Davis was very pleased with the parent participation and support of the student body. Pictured from left to right are Kindergartner Idalia Myers, Mrs. Norma Myers, and second grader Samuel Myers.

HCC-Northeast offers fast-track truck driver training course

Looking for fast-track training leading to a high-paying career in the transportation industry?

Try the Roland Smith Commercial Truck Driving school on the Northeast Campus of the Houston Community College System-Northeast College, located near the junction of 1-10 East and Loop 610 at 555 Community College Drive.

Established in January 1995 with one truck, one instructor, one director, one secretary and four students, the school is now one of the largest publicly-funded truck driving schools in the United States with 21 trucks and 32 trailers, 24 full and part time faculty and staff, and 1,400 graduates a year. In its first six years of operation, the school has trained over 6,000 students.

The modern facilities and equipment, in addition to experienced instructors, have made Commercial Truck Driver Training HCCS’ fastest- growing certificate program. Of the more than 800 truck driving schools in the nation, HCC’s school is one of only 72 certified by the Professional Truck Driving Institute (PTDI). It is the only school in the Texas Gulf Coast region to offer the PTDL certified course.

The Commercial Truck Driving program is an intense course of instruction designed with the student in mind.

The six-week-and-two-day program contains a minimum of 125 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. Students meeting certain guidelines may qualify for a federal grant program funded by The Workforce Investment Act to pay for the training.

With a nationwide shortage in the trucking industry of 80,000 drivers projected to grow at a rate of five percent a year for the next 18-20 years and an average entry-level annual salary of $35,000, it’s easy to see why the HCC-Northeast College’s truck driving program offers hope and opportunity for those interested in getting in the driver’s seat of this dynamic industry.

For more information about the Roland Smith Commercial Truck Driving School, call 713-718-8200.

‘Ocean’ is smooth

“Ocean’s Eleven” is more full of fun than it’s full of good-looking movie stars – and it’s packed with some of Hollywood’s best and brightest.

Some thought director Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “Erin Brockovich”) crazy when he announced he was going to remake – or re-imagine – the ultra-cool classic “Ocean’s Eleven.” How could he think to fill the shoes of its stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the rest of the Rat Pack.

There’s no other like Sinatra, so Soderbergh and George Clooney, in Sinatra’s role of Danny Ocean, didn’t try – they came up with a new, fresh and fun take on an old theme.

Frankly, the 1960 original has not aged well. It’s main claim to fame is its cast, not the story or movie as a whole. This version may not have as cool a cast, but Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Julia Roberts ain’t too shabby. They all look great and they act almost as well as they look and dress.

But to be fair two of the most memorable performances are not by the lookers; Elliott Gould is a hoot as a flamboyant ex-casino owner and Carl Reiner is stellar as the veteran con man who is called on to do some crucial acting in the middle of the heist.

The updated version has a plot that moves along at the pace of a craps game – fast – and dialogue that jingles and jangles like a slot machine paying off big.

But there is a time when there’s no dialogue and things move slowly. It gives one time to contemplate what has happened. Some might find it boring, but I found it fascinating and lovely. Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune plays over a long scene of the dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas. It’s an interesting choice in caper flick, but it works.

Other than Clooney, no actor has the same name as the characters in the original, but like the first version, the story does revolve around the heist of Vegas hotels by eleven masters at their crafts. In the first one the guys were WWII friends who wanted to liven up their lives by doing something daring. This time, Ocean has been in prison and wants his wife, Roberts, back. She works for, and dates, Garcia – who happens to own three Vegas hotels…the three Ocean wants to take millions of dollars from in a daring, slightly impossible sounding robbery.

Within hours of getting out of the pen, Ocean starts hooking up with friends. The closest friend is played by the ever-eating Pitt, who is a poker specialist. He’s so good at reading people he knows when they’re holding or bluffing even when they’re not playing.

Soon the buddies assemble a team to do the big job. There’s the inside man played by Bernie Mac. Don Cheadle (“Traffic”) is the explosives expert. Damon (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”) is the young pick pocket with a legacy to live up to.

Every grand heist needs a surveillance expert; here he’s played by Eddie Jemison. Casey Affleck and Scott Caan are two bickering brothers who are good at many odd jobs. And an acrobat from Peking plays an acrobat from China who is instrumental in the impossible burglary.

Everybody has a key role in the clever job, but it is Ocean’s baby and Clooney pulls it off with smooth, smoldering charm. I do not say this lighty… Clooney is reminiscent of Cary Grant here.

“Ocean’s Eleven” is not grand art, nor does it have some lofty message, but it is pure escapist entertainment at its best. Unlike many movies lately, including even “Monsters, Inc.” and “The Lord of the Rings,” “Ocean’s” never once made me think of the tragic events of the last months. That alone is recommendation enough. The soundtrack is cool too. Rated-PG-13 for language and sexual content.

Houston small businesses receive federal funding for drug-free workplace policies

This fall, many Houston small businesses will receive the aid necessary to help detect, counsel and treat employees with alcohol and drug addictions. With 77 percent of illicit drug users employed, abuse in the workplace is an issue for all organizations; however, small businesses historically lack the resources to address and resolve the problem.

Drug Free Business Houston, an organization committed to reducing drug use in the workplace, recently received a $170,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Drug Free Business Houston, one of 21 small business development centers and other private organizations from across the country that received a grant from the SBA, will use the grant to provide financial and technical assistance to small businesses seeking to prepare and implement drug-free workplace policies.

”Drug Free Business Houston is in the business of reaching people,” said Becky Vance, director of corporate affairs, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. “With this funding, we will be able to extend our assistance to Houston’s small businesses and help them reduce and eliminate drug-and-alcohol related problems in the workplace, such as workplace accidents, absenteeism, stolen inventory and lost productivity.”

Drug Free Business Houston fears that normal life pressures, which can often lead to the abuse of drugs and alcohol, could now be increased by circumstances resulting from recent world events. With the grant, Drug Free Business Houston will address these issues and assist 200 local small- and medium-sized businesses in implementing drug-free workplace programs during this time of increased need. In addition, the funding will go toward the development and implementation of employee drug and alcohol abuse training programs, workplace drug testing programs and employee assistance programs.

Houston-area small businesses with fewer than 500 employees that no not have all the elements of a formal drug free workplace program in place, can contact Drug Free Business Houston at 1-888-655-3328 and apply for aid. Small businesses will be accepted in to the Drug Free Business Houston program on a first come, first serve basis.

Drug Free Business Houston has successfully served the Houston business community since 1985. With this additional funding,

Drug Free Business Houston will be able to help reduce the amount of drug abuse in the workplace and increase awareness regarding abuse prevention.
Both, Drug Free Business Houston and Drug Free Business Texas, are subsidiaries of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, an organization that provides drug awareness and prevention services to the Houston and surrounding communities. Drug Free Business Texas is an organization focused on facilitating the development of comprehensive and supportive drug-free workplace programs throughout Texas. Since 1985, Drug Free Business Houston has helped thousands of companies and organizations, small and large, public and private, create and implement voluntary drug-free workplace programs.

Drug Free Business Houston is a subsidiary of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston and a member of Drug Free Business Texas, created in 2000 to support workplace programs throughout the state and provide assistance to statewide non-profit organizations in their own communities. For more information on Drug Free Business Houston, visit its web site at, .

Drug Free Business Texas was formed in 2000 to provide technical assistance and guidance to statewide non-profit organizations in their own communities. For more information on Drug Free Business Texas, visit its web site at, .

The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston is a nonprofit agency that serves over 200,000 people each year. The mission of The Council is to keep our community healthy, productive and safe by providing services and information to all who may be adversely affected by alcohol and drugs. For more information on The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston or The Council’s programs, services, volunteer opportunities, and special events, please visit its web site at .

Key games abound as NFL teams head for the stretch

If you are a NFL fan, this should be a week worth watching t throughout the league as a number of key games with playoff implications dot the schedule. Big games abound from coast to coast as teams begin making their final push for the playoffs as the conclusion of the regular season nears.

Before we take a look at the key games t his Saturday and Sunday, let’s review last week’s results. A 7-3 week brought the season record to a very respectable 98-39 (71 percent) and with three weeks still to go, I’m planning on improving on those numbers.

Miami at San Francisco: This should be a good game from a standpoint of contrasting styles.
The Dolphins like to let their defense set the tone, while the 49ers like to throw the ball all over the field and put up gaudy numbers. Miami has shown a penchant for making comebacks this year as evidenced by their 21 – 10 win over Denver two weeks ago. The Fish trailed 10-0 entering the fourth quarter, but scored 21 points in a little over four minutes to pull out yet another victory when defeat appeared imminent. San Francisco has been one of the surprise teams of the year and all they do is get better each week. Two weeks ago their defense pitched a shutout over the hapless Bills as the offense produced 35 points thanks to the running of Garrison Hearst and the pinpoint passing of Jeff Garcia. Look for the 49ers to establish Hearst again this week as they try to wear down the hard charging Dolphins defense. But don’t expect the Dolphins to go quietly. They are locked in a tight battle in the AFC East and each game is key down the stretch. My pick, San Francisco 26, Miami 20

Arizona at NY Giants: One of the NFL’s Saturday specials features the surprising Cardinals against the slumping Giants. Arizona received a huge confidence boost two weeks ago when they won at Oaldand, 34-31, in overtime. They aren’t scared to play on the road, but New York has not been kind to them over the years. The Giants know they need every win down the stretch to snag a Wild Card berth, but with an offense that is predictable and turnover prone, don’t be surprised if the Cards pull off another stunning road win this week. If Jake Plummer and David Boston are on as they have been most of the season, the New York secondary is going to be in for a long day. Look for the Cardinals to bottle up New York’s running game, which will force Kerry Collins to become the focal point of the offense. That’s not good news for Giants fans. My pick, Arizona 23, NY Giants 17

Philadelphia at Washington: Another key NFC East game as the Eagles take a one-game division lead into the nation’s capitol to take on a Washington team which soundly defeated them 13-3 on Nov. 25. A win by the Eagles would give them a decent cushion heading down the stretch and considering that probably only one team from the NEC East is going to make the playoffs, this game is huge for the Eagles. Philly has not lost a road game this year, so they won’t be intimidated by the ‘Skins’ home crowd and it appears Philly QB Donovan McNabb is starting to get hot. Washington will need to get running back Stephen Davis going against a tough Eagle defense if they hope to win this one because quarterback Tony Banks can’t be counted on in big games. If you saw his performance against the Cowboys (a 20-14 Dallas win!) two weeks ago, you know what I’m talking about. My pick, Philadelphia 16, Washington 10

Dallas at Seattle: The Cowboys made their season two weeks ago by upsetting the Redksins. Quincy Carter actually threw a decent looking pass and Emmitt Smith looked like the Emmit of old rushing for 102 yards and his first touchdown of the season. This week the Pokes travel to Seattle, where the weather is usually nasty this time of year. That does not bode well for the Cowboys. Look for the Seahawks, who are alive in the AEC playoff hunt, to give the ball to second-year back Shaun Alexander a lot this Sunday as they wear down the Dallas front seven as well as to take pressure off quarterback Matt Hasselback. Dallas does not play well against teams it faces every blue moon, so don’t be surprised if this one turns into a route. My pick, Seattle 30, Dallas 13

Jacksonville at Cleveland: The Browns came crashing down to earth two weeks ago when the Titans marched into town and left with a 31-15 victory. If the Browns don’t watch out, the same could happen this Sunday when the Jaguars come calling. Jacksonville has allowed leads to slip away late in four of their last five games and they are ready to take their frustrations out on somebody. Who better than a team that is entertaining thoughts of making the playoffs.
Quarterback Mark Brunell looked decent in the Jags’ 28-21 loss to the Packers two weeks ago and if he’s on, the Jags must might pull this one out, but then again, they will be facing a Cleveland team that is in a must win situation. It will be interesting to see how quarterback Tim Couch reacts. My pick, Cleveland 20, Jacksonville 17

Tampa Bay at Chicago: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are suddenly back in the playoff hunt and a win against the Bears, who are at the top of the NFC Central would go a long way towards putting them squarely in the Wild Card hunt in the NFC. The Bucs escaped Cincinnati with an overtime win two weeks ago after their emotional win at St. Louis the week before. Quarterback Brad Johnson appears to be playing his best football and with Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn providing an inside and outside run presence, the Bucs are a team to watch. But the Bears have been tough all year, especially at home. They have had the uncanny ability to come up with the key play when they’ve needed it the most. This one will be a big test to see how far the Bears have really come this year. You can bet their fans will be juiced for this one and playing in Chicago in December is a lot different than playing in the warm confines of Florida. Remember, the Bucs are not a team that performs well in cold weather. My pick, Chicago 17, Tampa Bay 12

Minnesota at Detroit: This could be the Lions’ best shot (until their season finale against Dallas) to pick up their first win of the season. Minnesota has proven it can lose to anybody (Carolina) anywhere (zero road wins). The Vikings are out of the playoff hunt and quarterback Daunte Cullpepper has an ailing knee. It’s that time of the year for evaluating young players, so this is a very winnable game for the Lions. Detroit will start Mike McMahon at quarterback, a talented youngster who is mobile. You can bet he wants to impress the Detroit brass down the stretch so that the job is his next year. This could turn into a high scoring affair as Randy Moss has picked things up in recent weeks and looks like the All-Pro he is. Expect McMahon to attack a weak Vikings defense as the Lions (you read it here first) pick up their first victory of the season. My pick, Detroit 35, Minnesota 34

Green Bay at Tennessee: This is a game the Packers cannot take lightly. Tennessee has played better in recent weeks and quarterback Steve McNair has looked sharp throwing the football. Even though Eddie George has had a sub par season, the Titans can still be a dangerous team, just ask the Browns. GB quarterback Brett Favre has to be licking his chops in anticipation of facing a depleted Tennessee secondary and with Ahman Green in tow, the Packers also have a strong running game to turn to should Favre falter. Don’t expect the Packers to have a let down in this one, even though they are coming off an emotional game against the Bears. They have enough veterans who know how to win at this time of the season. My pick, Green Bay 31, Tennessee 23

Pittsburgh at Baltimore: What a thriller this one should be on Sunday night on ESPN. All that’s at stake is first place in the AFC Central. This will be a defensive dominated football game. Neither team wants to let its offense make mistakes that could cost it the victory, so expect both teams to run the football a lot to loosen up the defenses so the passing game will be there when it’s needed. A key in this one will be the health of Steeler running back Jerome Bettis. He has been nursing a sore groin and bad hip and if is not able to go, the Ravens will get a huge break. Baltimore has been tough to beat at home and with a charged up crowd, expect the defense to be at the top of its game. My pick, Baltimore 17, Pittsburgh 13

St. Louis at New Orleans: Another great matchup as the Rams and Saints meet for the final time this year under the lights of Monday Night Football. The Saints overcame a huge deficit at St. Louis earlier this year and have won three of the last four meetings between the two teams. Look for quarterback Aaron Brooks to attack the Rams’ secondary, while St. Louis QB Kurt Warner will call on the multi-talented Marshall Faulk to carry the load for the Rams. Faulk is a threat running and receiving and when he’s on, the Rams are out of this world on offense. This should be another thriller. The Saints know they can come back against the Rams, so no lead is safe. This would be a good time for the St. Louis defense to put forth its best effort, because you know the Saints defense will be breathing fire and bringing pressure all night long. My pick, New Orleans 33, St. Louis 31

Councilmember Galloway holds her 2nd annual toy and gift drive

Second term Houston Council Member Carol Mims Galloway will hold her 2001 Holiday Toy Drive now through December 18th.

This year Galloway’s goal is to provide toys and gifts to the underprivileged children who reside at the federally supported housing projects in the district she represents.

Companies, corporations, non-profits, faith-based organizations, governmental entities and capable individuals of the Houston/Harris County region are encouraged to give toys and or gifts in the spirit of the season during this annual drive.

Interested parties may drop off donations at three conveniently located sites:

Pilgrim Cleaners, 2503 Bagby (drive through),
City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby (1st floor),
Northline Park Store Front, 392 W. Little York.

Wild weekend featured at Jesse Jones Park

There are many people with an interest in the diversity of birds and other wildlife found in our area. If you share this interest, then there is sure to be something to whet your appetite for knowledge at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center this weekend, as the park hosts a Winter Bird Count and a Bird Banding program Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively, as well as several Pontoon Boat Tours throughout the day. And Sunday, December 16 at 2 p.m. a fun-filled Critters’ Christmas program promises to help you look out for the animals during the holidays.

The cool winter months are often the best time of year to observe a wide variety of birds, as many species of migratory birds spend the winter in our area. Join members of the Piney Woods Wildlife Society Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 a.m. as they conduct an informal count of wintering and resident birds found in Jones Park. This program is geared towards serious birders and learners ages 15 and above. Reservations are required.

Saturday at 9 a.m., join avian biologist Edwin Juarez of Harris County Mosquito Control for Bird Banding. Mr. Juarez captures resident and wintering birds in mist nets and gently attaches coded bands to their legs. Visitors ages seven and older can also learn how banding helps biologists in the study of bird migration, populations and conservation.

For those wanting a unique opportunity to view the native wildlife found along Spring Creek, Jones Park offers Pontoon Boat Tours throughout the day Saturday. Previous participants have seen such interesting animals as the elusive osprey and American alligators.

Reservations are required. Please call the park for additional details.

Although native wildlife is generally abundant during the warmer months, these creatures are often scarcely seen in the winter.

This is often because residents discontinue filling their backyard bird feeders or feeding stations, causing the animals to seek food elsewhere. This can be remedied, though, with a little holiday flair as well. Have you ever thought of decorating a tree outside just for the critters? Sunday, December 16 at 2 p.m., come join Jones Park staff members for Critters’ Christmas. Participants learn how to make decorative edible treats for the birds and other wildlife that visityour yard.

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 progams, call 281-446-8588.