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Posts published in “Day: April 9, 2002”

SBC Pioneers distribute special books to students

SBC Southwestern Bell Pioneers and mascot, Wally Wordsworth read to students at Fonwood Elementary. The Pioneers donated $1,000 and more than 950 “A Book About Me” books which promote self-esteem and the importance of staying in school.

On March 23, the SBC Southwestern Bell Pioneers distributed more than 950 copies of “A Book About Me,” a book written to improve reading skills and encourage self esteem, to each second-grade student in the North Forest School District including Hilliard Elementary, Shadydale Elementary, Fonwood Elementary, Rogers Elementary and Tidwell Elementary

The North Forest area, was one of the most devastated by Tropical Storm Allison, losing two elementary schools to rain and flood damage.

The Pioneers have also donated more than 2,000 library books to the North Forest District’s libraries, spent numerous hours tutoring its students and donated money for repairs to its facilities that were affected by Tropical Storm Allison.

“A Book About Me” books are personalized with the child’s name, the name of two friends, and the name of the child’s teacher, school, principal, city and state. The books use the name of the child and two friends to explore such issues as self-esteem, sharing, learning, reading and writing, and the importance of staying in school.

The Pioneer’s sponsorship of this literacy program includes the distribution of more than 9,370 books throughout Southeast Texas.

Council Member Carroll G. Robinson to host Teen Health Summit

Council Member Carroll G. Robinson, along with the Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department are inviting hundreds of high school students and their parents from across the City of Houston to participate in his annual Teen Summit.

This year’s summit will focus on Teen Health: “An Informative Forum On Important Health Issues Affecting Houston’s Young Adults.” The summit will take place on Saturday, April 27 at the George R. Brown Convention Center Exhibit Hall C meeting rooms A-F from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

This will be Council Member Robinson’s fourth Teen/Young Adult Summit during his tenure as a Houston City Council Member. Since his election, Council Member Robinson has held these summits to involve and inform the young people of Houston about issues of importance to us all and their future.

OF Saturday, April 27th, a panel of experts will make presentations and take questions at four workshops. The workshops will be: Diet/Eating Disorders, STD’s/Teen Pregnancy, Drugs/Alcohol, and Physical/Mental Stress.

“Our young people are our future,” Council Member Robinson said. “In order to prepare them for the uncertain times ahead, we must make educating them on all issues our number one priority.”

‘High Crimes’ a serviceable thriller

You may get a sense of déjà vu while watching “High Crimes,” the new Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman thriller.

Yes, you have seen Judd and Freeman fighting bad guys together before if you’ve seen “Kiss the Girls.” And yes you’ve seen the spunky Judd getting tough if you’ve seen “Double Jeopardy” or “Eye of the Beholder” or the previously mentioned “Girls.”
Besides the leads in “High Crimes” there are many aspects of the movie that will seem similar to anyone who watches movies on even a semi-regular basis.

The 15-year-old who sat next to me found “High Crimes” rather boring because “you’ve seen it all before.”

He’s right about the seeing it all before, but I would be more apt to call it disappointing than boring.

“High Crimes” does have some entertainment value, mainly because of the very good Freeman and Judd. A bit of originality would have made it memorable instead of just another serviceable thriller that will leave your mind faster than the popcorn kernels get unstuck from your teeth.

Part of the fun of watching movies like “High Crimes” is figuring everything out much faster than the characters on screen

There are a few surprises in “Crimes,” but the movie does not always play fair with them. Of course, most people don’t go to this type of movie expecting logic, which is a good thing in the case of “Crimes.”

Judd plays a smart defense attorney in San Francisco with a perfect home and a perfect husband – or so she thinks. Jim Caviezel (“The Thin Red Line,” “The Count of Monte Cristo”) is her sweet, supportive, caring hubby.

A lovely day shopping turns into a nightmare after the FBI swoops in and captures Caviezel charging him with desertion from the Marine Corp, murder and a few other things.

Faster then you can say “A Few Good Men” he’s on trial in a military court with a green young lieutenant, his wife and a former Marine lawyer, Freeman (“Along Came A Spider”), defending him.

Judd wants to believe her husband, who seems so devoted to her and cries so convincingly, but she’s also feels betrayed by his years of leading a false life. I felt for her when his admission that he’s not the man she thought he was leaves her speechless, but that’s as emotional as the movie gets.

She stands by her man and with Freeman’s help goes about defending her husband even though nasty and mysterious things happen. Cryptic messages delivered by a man at the grocery store and a man with a gun and oil thrown on her car are just a few of the events that transpire.

Freeman and Judd’s characters obtain evidence illegally and are then shocked when the judge does not admit it. Please. I thought they were smart, but they keep digging.

The digging for information on a cover-up takes them all the way to the top of the Marine Corp. The back-story of what went on in El Salvador in the 80s is the most realistic part of the film.

The ending is supposed to be a shocker, but I can’t imagine anybody really being surprised. The most interesting scene in the last few minutes has Judd meeting Freeman in a building that looks a lot like a building from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” which was also set in San Francisco.

Go ahead a call me a big movie geek for even noticing. Oh well, it did give me pleasant thoughts of “Vertigo.”

Now there’s a movie with suspense and surprises, and it’s quite memorable to boot, unlike the just so-so “High Crimes.”

Rated-PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language

New Help Available For Relatives Raising Children of Substance Abusers

The creation of the new Sheriff Interaction Groups provides opportunities for building a higher level of trust between the police and the community. Residents will be given the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding police, policies and procedures. SIG meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Aldine Sheriff Storefront.

The Children of Alcoholics Foundation (COAF) announced today that it will introduce “The Ties That Bind,” a new national education and support program to help the millions of Americans who are caring for relatives’ children because of parental alcohol and drug abuse.

“Today, more and more relatives are stepping in when parents’ drug or alcohol use has left them unable to care for their own children,” said Kiki Samuels, Kinship Care Project Director. “Whether the addicted parent has died, gone into treatment, been arrested, or lost custody of the child, grandparents and other relatives are faced with a profound lack of information and services that can help the whole family deal with their new and unexpected living situation.”

“The Ties That Bind” program comes at a time when the number of grandparent- headed households has soared, The number of grandparents raising grandchildren increased by 30% in the past decade, with 6% of U.S. children under 18 (3.9 million) now living in grandparent-headed households, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Though kinship care has always existed, substance abuse is now the leading cause.

“The stigma that exists around drug abuse is enormous. As a result, many caregivers do not tell their friends, neighbors, or even the agencies that can help them. This means that many of these families remain unidentified and lack vital services,” Samuels said.

“The Ties That Bind” offers fact sheets, a comprehensive handbook, and a website (www.caof.org) In addition, COAF provides training to professionals working with kinship care families, such as government agencies, social workers, child-welfare workers, and support-group leaders. These training sessions are designed to educate professionals about the special issues involved in kinship care that directly result from parental substance abuse, as Well as tips and strategies for getting the materials into the hands of those in need.

Individuals who are interested in a free handbook may e-mail Samuels at ksamuelsphoenixhouse.org or call at 212-595-5810 ext. 7763 (limited number available). Individuals interested in receiving a free fact sheet should send a self-addressed envelope to: Kiki Samuels, Children of Alcoholics Foundation, 164 West 74th Street, NY, NY 10023.

COAF, an affiliate of Phoenix House, has been providing help to young and adult children of alcoholics and other substance abusers since 1982. Phoenix House is the nation’s leading, private, non-profit substance-abuse treatment, prevention, and education organization.

Each day, Phoenix House provides substance abuse treatment to more than 5,000 adults and adolescents in eight states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont.

Ten Aldine ISD schools receive Texas Successful School Awards

Ten schools in Aldine ISD were recently awarded Texas Successful Schools Award System (TSSAS) funding from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for having demonstrated the highest levels of sustained success or improvement in achieving educational goals.

TEA made $500,000 available to schools in Texas based on campus performance during the 2000-01 school year. The money was distributed during the 2001-02 school year.

The 10 AISD schools received $15,213 in TSSAS funding. The 10 were: Aldine High School ($2,979), Dunn Elementary ($1,233), Hambrick Middle School ($1,471), Hoffman Middle School ($1,612), Goodman Elementary ($1,115), Raymond Academy ($1,241), Reed Academy ($1,436), Grantham Academy ($1,433), Teague Middle School ($1,466) and Worsham Elementary ($1,227).

The 10 Aldine schools qualified for the monetary awards by having an accountability rating of either Exemplary, Recognized or Acceptable, the campus was in the top 25 percent of its unique comparison group for TAAS reading and math; and the campus exemption rate for each subject area of the TAAS test (reading, math and writing) was not deemed excessive.

According to the TEA, the schools can use the money to enhance academic programs at their respective campuses.

Take Safety Into Spring and Summer in the Texas Outdoors

Spring is in full swing, and the weather as well as the outdoor activities is heating up.

Childhood memories are filled with fun outdoor activities like trips to the coast, fishing on the lake, and camping. As you and your children enjoy our Texas wilderness, remember that a few simple, common sense precautions will prevent accidents and injuries.

Unintentional childhood injury remains the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14. According to the National SAFE KIDS campaign, nearly 6,300 children died from unintentional injuries in 1996. Each year, 14 million children, or one out of every four, are injured seriously enough to seek medical attention. The SAFE KIDS campaign estimates that simple precautions can avoid as many as 90% of these unintentional injuries.

Our Texas wilderness is abundant with opportunities for accidents and unintentional injuries. Close supervision, proper protective equipment, and other simple prevention measures will help your child avoid danger and injuries.

Drowning is the greatest risk for children under 14. It is the second most common killer of teenagers. Always supervise young children near water, including lakes, ponds, tanks, creeks, rivers and streams. Know the depth before diving into any water. Insist that children wear personal flotation devices when they are out on a boat, near bodies of water, or are participating in water activities. Remember, the law requires that all children under 13 in motorboats under 26’ in length must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while the boat is underway.

Burns are among the most common of childhood accidental injuries. These typically include sunburns, burns from stoves, camp lamps, matches, wood stoves, and hot liquids. All children should use sunscreen and protective clothing like caps with visors and long sleeves while spending time outdoors. Adults have to supervise young children near campfires and while cooking outdoors. Having spent most of my life in the outdoors, I have used lots of different sunscreens. The very best product I have found for protection from the sun is a fairly new product called “Smart Shield.” It is now available at most stores.

Bites and stings from insects, including spiders, ticks, mosquitoes, ants, and bees are common in children. Make sure to keep as much of a child’s skin covered with clothing as possible, including a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, and a hat. Have children wear light colored clothing, which does not attract bugs. Use an insect repellant regularly.

Commonly used repellants that are usually safe for children include those with less than 10% DEET or others with citronella or soybean oil.

According to the SAFE KIDS Campaign, an estimated 1,500 children under 14 are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional firearms-related injuries. The safe storage of firearms (unloaded, up, and away from children) is an essential step in protecting our children.
Strains and sprains are common in children because their bones and muscles are still developing.
Adults should select children’s shoes that are appropriate for the terrain like hiking boots, tennis shoes with ankle supports, beach footwear, etc. Children should wear retro*reflective materials and carry a flashlight when it is dark, at dawn or at dusk.

Teach your children the rules of the road and practice obeying traffic laws with them. Never let children under the age of 10 cross a street alone.

Teach children to obey traffic rules as a pedestrian. As adults, we can be excellent role models.

Notify others of your travel plans, including the date and time of your expected return. Know how to contact emergency medical services. Every wise outdoorsman carries a basic first aid kit at all times. Every parent should be knowledgeable in CPR and basic first aid.

Family trips into the Texas wilderness, campgrounds, beaches, and state parks are a great way to spend a weekend or a family vacation for having fun, relaxing, and learning about our natural resources. Following these common sense safety tips will insure that you and your children’s happy memories this spring and summer will also be safe ones. Let’s keep safety our top priority, and the fun will follow.

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs open new after-school program Escamilla

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Houston has opened a new after-school program at Escamilla Intermediate School, located at 5241 East Mount Houston in the Aldine Independent School District. As a part of the Department of Justice Weed and Seed Initiative, the program is aimed at helping students succeed in education, leadership, and life skills.

Escmilla Intermediate School was chosen because of community concerns raised about the lack of additional tutorial services and resources for success in higher education

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs offer a variety of programs throughout the year at their five Club locations. Escamilla Intermediate is one of four schools in which The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs offer after-school programs to youth.

“Our students are excited about our partnership with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Houston, and we are confident that our community will receive positive rewards from this endeavor,” said Principal Milo Ortiz,

‘The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Houston is looking forward to new partnerships in schools,” said Mark Barber. SAB&GC Executive Director. “Our goal is to provide a variety of educational programs and assistance to disadvantaged youth throughout the Houston area,”
For more information about The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs programs, please call 713-752-0677.

Pet of the Week

April 9, 2002

This week’s featured pet is actually 2 of 4 adorable siblings…fluffy, friendly little kittens, available for a limited time 2 for the price on 1!

If you would like to adopt them or any of the other wonderful companion animals at the Harris County Rabes/Animal Control shelter go to 602 Canino just west of Hardy.

For hours and information, call 281-999-3191.

AISD Spelling Champ

The Aldine Independent School District recently held the annual district wide spelling bee. The Spelling Bee Champion for the entire district is Aldine Middle School student Shardonnay Wooten.
Shardonnay competed against students from 39 other Aldine schools. The winning word for Shardonnay was “livid”. She competed in the regional spelling bee on March 27.

Ratliff offers plan to restructure Texas public school finance

Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff last week offered a four-part plan to restructure the public school finance system in Texas.

Ratliff’s plan would replace the current method of state funding, which requires school districts to share local property tax revenue to meet a constitutionally-mandated standard of equity that has been upheld by Texas courts.

Ratliff’s plan calls for a voter-approved constitutional amendment to abolish local school property taxes and establish a statewide property tax to pay for Texas’ public schools Revenue raised by the new system would be combined with the state’s existing school funding resources to form a new foundation for public school finance.

Ratliff’s four-part plan includes:
Basic state funding distributed equally to all school districts based on student attendance.

•Limited local option property taxes for school districts that want to enrich their basic program; including a state-backed guarantee to support the efforts of poorer school districts to raise extra revenue.

•Limited state-funded support for all debt service on school facilities.

•A supplemental statewide property tax to fully fund the teachers’ health insurance plan at the level available to state employees.
Voter-approved constitutional amendment to:

•Abolish the current local school district authority to levy a property tax for the maintenance and operation of public schools leaving the current authority for debt service in place.

•Authorize the Legislature to levy a statewide property tax for the sole purpose of funding public schools in Texas.

•Grant the Legislature the statutory authority to allow school districts to levy a local property tax for educational enrichment, not to exceed $0.10 per $100 valuation.

Enact new school funding methodology by statute with the following features:
Statewide Property Tax: Levy a statewide property tax of $1.40 per $100 valuation to combine with the general revenue appropriation to form the foundation school program funding.

•Tier On – Basic Allotment: Distribute the equivalent of $30 per penny of the $1.40 levied per weighted student to school districts to cover their base maintenance and operations budgets. When transportation and other adjustments are made, this would allow the distribution of about $4,275 per weighted ADA ($6,085 per student) which is, on average, about $115 more per weighted ADA for maintenance and operations than is currently available to poorer school districts.

•Tier Two – Local Enrichment: Allow school districts through a local option election to levy a local enrichment property tax up to $0.10 per $100 valuation. School districts with tax bases less than $300,000 per weighted ADA will receive a state guaranteed yield of $30 per weighted ADA per penny of tax rate.

•Tier Three – Debt Service Allotment: The state will guarantee a yield of $35 per penny of tax rate per ADA for all debt service on educational facilities, up to 30 cents.

•Teacher Health Plan: The Legislature should consider levying an additional statewide property tax on top of the $1.40 in Tier One to fully fund a state paid teachers’ health insurance plan equivalent to the plan available to state employees.

Ratliff offered the plan to the Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance that was created by legislative leaders last year to address the issue of school funding. The committee, which includes public members and lawmakers from both the Senate and the House, has held public hearings to gather testimony and ideas for replacing the current system of funding Texas’ public schools.

The committee will issue a final report in November for consideration by the Legislature in the next regular session in 2003.