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Posts published in July 2002

Pet of the Week

July 16, 2002

This week’s featured pets are brothers, two playful Chow mix puppies, about eight weeks old. One is black with tan accents on his legs and chest and the other tan with black accents in the same pattern.

They have both been neutered and have had all of their puppy shots.

To adopt one or both, go to the Harris County Rabies/Animal Control shelter at 602 Canino just west of the Hardy Toll Road. For hours and information, please call 281-999-3191.

Butterfly Weekend at Jesse H. Jones Park

For those with an interest in the fanciful variety of butterflies found in the area, the place to be this weekend is Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, as the park presents programs on Butterflies of Houston and Building a Butterfly Feeder, as well as a Butterfly Open House throughout the weekend.

The weekend’s lepidopteran extravaganza begins Saturday, July 20 at 10 a.m. as noted butterfly photographer Farrar Stockton shares his knowledge and wonderful slides with the audience during Butterflies of Houston. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the beautiful butterflies found in our area.

The topics discussed during Mr. Stockton’s talk are brought to life Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. during Butterfly Open House. Visitors can view Jones Park’s butterfly nursery and see local butterflies in different stages of life, or even witness the release of some of these “flying flowers.” And Don Olhausen, Jones Park’s own version of the Moth Man, will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions.

The weekend’s events conclude Sunday at 2 p.m. with Building a Butterfly Feeder. Participants ages five and older build their very own butterfly feeder which can be decorated and taken home to entice these winged jewels into your yard. 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, sex, religion, national origin or physical ability. For more information on the park or any of its programs, call 281-446-8588 or visit the Jones Park web site at www.cp4.hctx.net/jones.

‘Road’ to greatness

Tom Hanks plays a mob hit man who must protect his son played by Tyler Hoechlin in the best movie of the year “Road to Perdition.”

Two intelligent, wonderful movies opened last Friday. One will get lots of press and hopefully will be seen by scads of moviegoers, which it fully deserves. The other will get less press and viewers, though it also deserves lots of attention.
“Road to Perdition” is the better of the two and it will receive many accolades. It may only be July, but it’s a shoe-in for Oscar nominations in many categories. It’s easily the best movie of the year so far and it will be hard to beat.

There’s also “Sunshine State,” playing only at Landmark’s River Oaks. It might not have acting legends like Paul Newman and Tom Hanks in it and a multi-million dollar ad campaign, but it too is a film that should not be missed. I was going to write about both movies, but each deserves its own review. So, John Sayles new film “Sunshine State” will have to wait for next week. But you don’t have to, go see both wonderful films soon and often.
Both movies are great because the writing is interesting and authentic, the acting is masterful and the directing is near perfect. This is especially true of Sam Mendes direction of “Perdition,” only his second movie. His first was the love it or hate it Oscar winning “American Beauty.”

My father asked me how I could think of “Beauty” as entertainment. I said it’s much more than entertainment, it is art and it is commentary on the times.

As with that movie, there is commentary on the times – the time is 1931 – and this is art in its finest film form. It also has people making life-altering decisions and there is tragedy, but Mendes’ latest is easier to love – probably because the times are different, our continued fascination with gangsters and, not to give anything away, the ending, if not really happy, does show promise of the future.

Like “Beauty,” “Perdition” is not always pleasant to watch, but it’s gripping and evenly paced like great literature, which draws you in and holds you close even as you realize something tragic is going to happen.

And tragic it is, so much so that I could not breathe at times I was so tense with anticipation, dread, fear and the excitement of knowing I was watching a great movie – a movie destined to be a classic.

As with great literature, there are multiple meanings or interpretations about many aspects of the story, starting with its title. Perdition means complete loss or ruin, to have lost one’s soul or hell, it is also the name of a town the Tom Hanks’ character, Mike Sullivan, is taking his 12-year-old son to for safe keeping while he avenges the murders of his wife and other son.

Each meaning has a place in the scheme of things. The movie is not just about perdition, it’s about pay back, redemption, blood loyalty and the relationship between fathers and sons.

Things go horribly wrong when the 12-year-old, Michael (newcomer Tyler Hoechlin), hides in dad’s car because he wants to know exactly what stern, serious pop does for a living. He sees dad and one of dad’s colleagues in action – killing people. Sullivan works for the head mobster in the area, John Rooney (Paul Newman), who is also a father figure to him.

Rooney has a son, but he’s not a good guy like Sullivan, if you can call a mob killer a good guy. This is another theme of the multi-layered film – can a man who does horrible things be a good father? Sullivan is very good at the job that affords him a nice house, but causes him much unhappiness. His unhappiness makes him distant from his son, until they have to work together to turn the tables on the mob and escape a hired assassin.
This is dangerous scary work, especially if you are a young man who has just lost his mother and brother. Hoechlin is excellent as Michael; often saying more with looks than words. Actually, the movie does not have a lot of dialogue, nor are there a lot of characters. Hoechlin is given a lot to do and he does it well holding his own with Hanks and Newman.

Newman is terrific. He ranges from being a sweet, mischievous grandfather type to being cold and menacing. The famous blue eyes have dulled in color with age, but they still have lots of glint and flint.

Jude Law (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “A.I.”) is also quite memorable as the creepy killer Maguire.
But it’s Hanks who is most amazing. The kid may say a lot without speaking, well Hanks shouts, grieves, hates and loves while hardly saying a thing. His eyes, and his body tell it all. Could it be Oscar number three? Hanks has never played so cold before, but since it is him we know Sullivan does have a heart, even if he’s gotten too good at putting it away. Rated-R for violence and language

Eastex Fire Department seeking volunteers, will train

The Eastex Fire Department is actively seeking more volunteers to staff our department to keep up with the rapid growth in our area. The Eastex Fire Department is experiencing a need for more volunteers. The department has seen some extremely huge improvements in the last several months as we have increased our fleet to six (6) pieces of apparatus, added a new bay, and purchased some much needed equipment. The department responses and calls for service continue to increase and the response area is exploding with new growth, both residential and commercial.

We are preparing to purchase land and construct a new building in the vicinity of Wilson Road and North Sam Houston Parkway along with a new fire truck. The department is seeking individuals within our response area to apply. (Timberhills, Northbelt Forest, Audubon, Fall Creek, Atascocita Village, Sequoia Estates, Fountain View, Parkwood Estates, El Dorado, Oak Knoll Estates, and Wood Acres. Applicants do not have to be certified, experienced, or possess medical certification. The department will train and certify all interested individuals both in firefighting and medical.

The only requirements are that you be 18 years old, able to pass a criminal background investigation, and urinalysis. The department is actively involved in the community and wants you to be to. The department is located at 14322 Old Humble Road. Near the Metro Park & Ride. Please call 281-441-2244 if you’re interested. We welcome all visitors to the station.

BIG Trout Tournament to benefit Houston firefighters

Texas Marine and Landmark Chevrolet will host the first annual “fishtexas.com Big Trout Tournament Series”, Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28, 2002 on Tiki Island at Teakwood Marina, sponsored by Academy Sports & Outdoors, and KBME and KTRH radio. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Last Alarm Club, for Houston firefighters.

“We became involved with fishing tournaments nearly seven years ago,” stated Robert Stokes, vice-president of Texas Marine, “because we realized the importance of helping maintain our fisheries and natural resources. Sportsmen help achieve this through license fees, revenues they help generate at all area marinas as well as donations made by most clubs arid organizations of which they are a part.” As for where the proceeds were going, Stokes said, “We elected to support the Last Alarm Club as our charitable organization due to the tremendous work and community service provided by our Houston firefighters.’

The Texas Marine and Landmark Chevrolet “fishtexas.com Big Trout Tournament Series” has guaranteed cash and prizes totaling $68,000. It is a self-liquidating tournament, with 100% payback to anglers after expenses and charitable donation, so, the more entries, the larger the payback. First place hourly big trout cash prize of $500 is guaranteed.

First place for overall big trout is a 21 foot SeaFox bay boat with 150 horsepower Mercury outboard, sponsored by KTRH 740 AM and KBME 790 AM, and the grand prize for the 2-day 2-trout total weight prize is a Chevy Silverado quad cab pickup, sponsored by Landmark Chevrolet,
Tournament entry forms are available at Texas Marine in Conroe, Clear Lake and Beaumont, at all Academy Sports & Outdoors locations in the greater Houston and Beaumont areas, Landmark Chevrolet, Teakwood Marina and most other Galveston bay area marinas. For additional information, call Texas Marine in Conroe at 938-441-5959.

TPWD Hauls in Commercial Shrimp License through Buy Back Program

If you want a fishing license, you buy one from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. If you already have a commercial bay or bait shrimping license, the state agency will buy it back at a price substantially higher than face value.

Commercial shrimping licenses are a hot commodity, bringing upwards of $6,000 apiece on average. That’s because under a state program designed to reduce commercial shrimping in Texas bays, only those who already own a license can shrimp. No new commercial bay and bait shrimping licenses have been available since 1995 under a limited entry program authorized by the Texas Legislature.
Only TPWD or its agents can buy back a commercial shrimping license and only from willing sellers.
The limited entry program for the commercial bay and bait shrimp fisheries provides financial incentive for commercial license holders who wish to consider getting out of the business. “Grandfathered” commercial licenses are transferable, but once they are retired through the buyback program, the will not be replaced until the fisheries can sustain increased pressure.

Including the latest round of buybacks, which will net 122 commercial bay and bait shrimp licenses at a cost of more than $800,000, TPWD will have cut checks for about $4.3 million to purchase more than 800 shrimp licenses. The average price for licenses has risen from $3,400 in the initial round in October, 1996, to well over $6,0000. Resident shrimpers currently pay $290 annually to renew each license; non-resident shrimpers pay $625 for the right to shrimp in Texas bays.

“With this round of buybacks, we are continuing our objective of reducing the number of commercial bay and bait licenses by 50%,” said Robin Riechers, management director for TPWD’s coastal fisheries division. “Our objectives continue to be higher catch rates for shrimpers, reduced bycatch mortality, and a healthy ecosystem. With the improvements in vessels and new technology in the shrimping industry, it is hard to predict exactly how many we will need to purchase. But with our ongoing monitoring programs, we’ll be able to measure our success.”

Funding for the program comes from a percentage of commercial license fees, a $3 surcharge to the Texas Saltwater Sport Fish stamp and from donations by private citizens and from groups such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Coastal Conservation Association. The NFWF awarded a $100,000 grant to TPWD this year to help fund the buyback program and a newly formed group, Saltwater Conservation Association of Texas, acting as an agent for TPWD, was able to purchase three shrimping licenses that will be turned over to the State for retirement. There have been 10 rounds of commercial bay and bait shrimp license buybacks since the program began.

“We’re excited about these contributions from organizations like SCA, CCA, and NFWF,” said Riechers. “We’ve received numerous donations from individuals and organizations and hope to continue to see support.”

The buyback process for commercial license holders is a reverse bid by which license holders provide TPWD the price for which they are willing to sell their license back to the department. Application forms are available from TPWD law enforcement and fisheries offices along the coast.

For information on the buyback program, call 281-534-0110 (Seabrook), 361-324-3356 (Corpus Christi), or 512-389-4645 (Austin).

On the subject of shrimp boats and shrimping, the Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season in state as well as federal waters opened 30 minutes after sunset on July 15. This is good news for commercial fishermen and great news for sport fishermen.

For the avid offshore fisherman, the sight of an anchored shrimp boat in the Gulf culling nets of bait into the current means the attracting of schools of fish. Anchored shrimp boats tend to concentrate schools of a wide variety of game fish species. In an open Gulf, it is fairly easy for the casual sport fisherman to locate.

The opening of the commercial shrimping season always adds excitement and adds to the success of dedicated offshore anglers.

Sport fish usually attract schools of Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, ling, bonita, jack crevelle, dolphin (dorado), and a wide variety of sharks. Occasionally, you can find wahoo, barracuda, or even a sailfish slashing through the cull line.

Sidling up to an offshore shrimp boat and drifting bait in a blue current can provide some linestretching action you might not otherwise find in the open Gulf.

NHC and, San Jacinto College each receive $190,000 grant

Rep. Gene Green is pleased to announce the U.S. Department of Education has selected North Harris Community College and San Jacinto College North to each receive a $190,000 grant under the Talent Search Program, a program that provides grants to institutions of higher education for projects offering support services to low income, first generation or disabled college students.

The Talent Search Program also provides opportunities for academic advancement, assists students with basic college requirements, and serves to motivate students to successfully complete post-secondary education.

“Low-income students and first generation college students are more at risk of not graduating from institutions of higher education,” Green said.
“This initiative is geared toward helping educationally disadvantaged students succeed in college by increasing college retention and facilitating the process of transition from one level of higher education to the next.”

Dr. Charles Grant, President of San Jacinto College North, said upon hearing about he award, “We are pleased to add Talent Search to the other TRIO grants that we have, Upward Bound and Student Support Services.

Talent Search will enable us to assist 650 low-income, first-generation adolescents and young adults to complete their high school education and enter post-secondary education.”

HCHD Foundation brings mobile health to north Harris County

HCHD staff and foundation members open the mobile unit for service weekly from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. throughout north Houston. (Picture by Bruce Bennett)

With more than 150,000 uninsured children in Harris County, Harris County Hospital District (HCHD) Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) have initiated a cost-effective way to provide high-quality health care for children in north Harris County with the Ronald McDonald CareMobile.

“Harris County Hospital District is important to the future of this community. We want to make sure that every child has health coverage and that every one of their parents have health coverage,” expressed State Representative Garnet Coleman during the official launch and dedication ceremony of the HCHD Ronald McDonald CareMobile on June 22. Children got a chance to meet Ronald McDonald while MECA Mariachi band entertained the crowd.

The 40-foot, two-room clinic on wheels, operated by Harris County Hospital District staff, provides free immunizations, health screenings including vision and hearing to residents newborn to 21 years of age and health education for parents. The National RMHC donated the CareMobile to the Foundation with the goal of improving childrenÌs health and providing continuity of care for children residing in medically underserved areas.

“This is a huge unmet need that exists in our community,” said John A. Guest, HCHD CEO. “The next generation of Americans will need good healthcare, so that they can exceed and achieve their dreams.”

The immunization rate for children in Harris County is one of the lowest in the country. HCHD hopes to change this through the use of the mobile health program.

HCHD staff projects the CareMobile will serve more than 1,500 children in the next year during visits to schools, religious institutions, apartment complexes, supermarkets and malls.

The National Ronald McDonald House Charities sponsors eight other CareMobile units in the U.S.
The HCHD Foundation financially supports the Harris County Hospital District’s mobile health program through two mobile units. Additionally, the unit supports the community outreach efforts of HCHD’s 11-health centers located throughout the county.
Also, attending were Elvin Franklin, Jr., HCHD Foundation Board of Trustees Member; Jon Meyers, Ronald McDonald House Charities Global; Debbie Adams, President of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston; Ricci Sanchez, and director of Aldine Health Center.

The HCHD Foundation was established in 1992 to supplement and enhance the broad health care mission of the Harris County Hospital District.
To inquire about mobile unit site location or funding opportunities, contact the HCHD Foundation at 713-566-6409.

DOJ Grants 12-Month extension of Temporary Protected Status for eligible El Salvadorans

As part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to assist El Salvador in recovering from the devastating earthquake that affected the nation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador for a period of 12 months until September 9, 2003. This TPS extension, which covers more than 260,000 Salvadoran registrants, is effective September 9, 2002 and will remain in effect until September 9, 2003. Salvadorans with TPS who have TPS applications pending must re-register during the re-registration period. The re-registration period begins September 9, 2002 and will remain in effect until November 12, 2002. Re-registration applications will not be accepted before September 9, 2002.

“As a direct result of the devastating earthquakes last year, there continues to be a substantial disruption of living conditions in El Salvador that has caused havoc to that country. Although El Salvador continues to make progress in the recovery, the environmental disaster makes it difficult for the country to handle adequately the return of its nationals,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “This one-year extension reflects the Administration’s continued commitment to assist El Salvador in its hour of need,”

Re-registration is available only to persons who registered under the initial El Salvador TPS designation, which ends on September 9, 2002. Nationals of El Salvador (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in El Salvador) who previously have not applied for TPS may be eligible to apply for TPS under late initial registration provisions.

This extension does not allow Salvadorans who entered the United States after February 13, 2001 to apply for TPS.

This extension covers only Salvadorans who have been continually present in the United States as of March 9, 2001 and who have continually resided in the United States since February 13, 2001. An extension of TPS does not change the required dates of continuous physical presence and residence in the United States.

TPS beneficiaries who need to travel outside the United States during the coming year must receive advance parole from their local INS office prior to departing the

United States. Failure to do so may jeopardize their ability to return to the United States. Advance parole allows an individual to travel abroad and return to the United States. Advance parole is issued on a case-by-case basis. Individuals who are granted TPS may apply for advance parole by filing Form 1431 at their local INS district office

Section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Attorney General to grant or extend TPS to aliens in the United States who are nationals of countries where armed conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary conditions have created a temporary situation to which return is either unsafe or unfeasible.

Aldine High student receives scholarship to Texas A&M

Aldine Senior High School graduate Krystle Williams recently received a scholarship to attend Texas A&M University from A&M President Ray Bowen, pictured at right. Williams was one of 60 other Houston-area students who received scholarships from Texas A&M. The university presented scholarships totaling $73,000 to the 60 students. The scholarships ranged from $4,000 to $20,000, according to A&M officials. The scholarships were awarded based on academic success and community and school involvement. Also pictured with Williams and Bowen is Aldine Senior High School principal Ron Galindo. Aldine ISD Superintendent Nadine Kujawa also attended the ceremony, held recently at the Hilton Westchase and Towers.