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Posts published in December 2003

New Appointments at Greater Greenspoint District

HOUSTON, November 24, 2003 – The Greater Greenspoint District (GGD) recently announced the promotion of two of its directors. Jocklynn Keville has been promoted to vice president of marketing and public affairs, and Diane Newman has been promoted to controller and director of support services.

“These changes represent Diane and Jocklynn’s expanding roles with a growing and dynamic organization,” said Jerry Lowry, the GGD’s vice president and chief operating officer. “Both are valuable assets to this organization and to the community. They have earned a great deal of respect internally and externally, and we are confident that they will continue to move this organization and community forward,” he added.

Keville joined the GGD in February of 1996 as public relations coordinator and later served as communications manager and then director of marketing and public affairs. In her new role, Keville is responsible for representing the GGD in city-wide initiatives, such as the Greenspoint area’s involvement with Super Bowl XXXVIII as host of the NFC Champions. She also provides oversight of the GGD’s marketing, advertising, public relations and community relations program as well as marketing area services, such as the shuttles and parks managed by the GGD.

The GGD’s new controller and director of support services joined the organization in October 1995 as office manager and was promoted to such positions as manager of administration, director of administration and director of support services. As a resident of the Greenspoint area for more than a decade, Newman witnessed first-hand the improvements made possible by GGD efforts and played a role in making them happen. She is now entrusted with the careful oversight of the GGD’s $2.6 million budget and its accounting procedures. In addition, she oversees personnel administration, records management and many other details relating to financial administration.

“Greenspoint has seen tremendous growth since the district was established twelve years ago,” said Jack Drake, GGD president. “It’s critical that we attract and retain the best and the brightest to develop and administer programs and services that continue to make Greenspoint desirable to its residents, companies and visitors. Houston is a great city and the Greenspoint area is an active participant in its economy,” he added.

The Greater Greenspoint District is a business improvement district providing services in public safety, infrastructure and recreational development, transportation planning and beautification, public relations and economic development. The District serves a 12-square-mile area, including more than 17 million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties. Fifty thousand people work in the area, and there are some 86,000 residents.

Green visits with wounded U.S. Service Members

Washington– Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) visited with wounded United States Military servicemen and women who are recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. The visit took place on Monday, December 22, 2003, and Green brought small gifts and greetings from his constituents.

“It is hard enough to be away from family and friends during the holidays, especially when you’re in the hospital” said Green. “I’m honored to spend time with these heroes who fought so bravely in our country’s effort to liberate the Iraqi people.”

In the spirit of the holidays, Green delivered gifts to thank the members for their service, and to express appreciation. The gift bag included an ornament, a phone card and a notepad.

Shotwell garners honors as “Funeral Director of the Year”

HOUSTON – Ray Shotwell, President of Dignity Memorial Provider Brookside Funeral Homes, has recently been chosen as Funeral Director of the Year by the Southeast Texas Funeral Directors Association.  This award is presented annually to a member of the association who has been active in his or her community as well as contributing positively to the well-being of funeral service.  The association is the largest region of the Texas Funeral Directors Association and this award makes Shotwell eligible for the statewide honor, to be presented at the annual conference to be held in June of 2004.

He and his wife, Carol, reside in Forest Cove and attend the First Baptist Church of Atascocita.  He is a Past Master of Culberson Lodge, l232 A. F. & A. M., member of Houston Scottish Rite bodies and Arabia Temple Shrine.  He is an active member of the Humble Intercontinental Rotary Club, has served on the board of directors and is a Paul Harris fellow.  He is a Past President of the Houston Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association and a Past President of the Southeast Texas Funeral Directors Association, and has served on the Legislative Committee and board of directors of the Texas Funeral Directors Association. 

He is a graduate of Commonwealth College of Sciences and served on the scholarship committee for several years.

He is currently a member of the board of directors of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce and has served as Vice Chair of the membership division.  He has been selected as chair-elect for the chamber for 2004 and was Volunteer of the Year for 2002. 

He is a member of the Aldine-Greenspoint Y. M. C. A. board of directors and a chairman’s round table member, member of the Aldine Scholarship Foundation board of directors, Aldine Improvement District,  and currently serves on the board of governors of the Greenspoint Club.
In addition to serving the local community, Ray served his country in the U. S. Army in the war in Vietnam and is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Commissioner hears citizen complaints at Town Meeting


NORTHEAST– Hundreds of people came to Commissioner Sylvia Garcia’s Town Meeting last Thursday night, at the Northeast Community Center on Bentley. They represented most of the neighborhoods and civic organizations from the immediate Precinct 2 area, and some outlying City areas, as well.
After opening remarks by Commissioner Garcia, which emphasized the achievements in Precinct 2, and an explanation of the services which she offers to citizens, the floor was opened to questions and comments.
The overwhelming tone of these remarks, was that for many years the areas around the near Northeast have been neglected by the County, and also the City, and as a result homes and people have suffered from too much flooding, abandoned trash, overgrown weeds, blocked ditches, vagrants on street corners, and other forms of neglect.
The speakers seemed to think that the County was favoring other areas, and not the Northeast.

The first woman to ask a question and make a statement, said that maintenance in the Precinct had deteriorated since Squatty Lyons had been commissioner, and that her street, Rosemary Street had flooded for the first time this summer, after 38 years in which she had no problem.
This theme, that flooding in 2002 was unusual, would be echoed by many speakers during the evening.
Garcia brought with her many of her staff, each with special responsibilities for some of the functions that were being questioned. In addition, she brought some consultants to the County, and law enforcement officials from several agencies.
When appropriate, she referred the questions to an official, either for an answer or further study and follow-up.
For instance, a question on underage purchase of alcohol was handed to Harry Schreffler, a TABC officer that was present. He promised to investigate, prosecute of warranted, and asked the audience to call in any violations to 1-888-THE-TABC. He stated that all reports were investigated.
Commissioner Garcia fielded several questions on inadequate drainage that seems to be getting worse. However, she said that she had formed two task forces that would bring some solutions to everyday problems that the Precinct had reported.
One of these is known as “D.I.G.”, or Drainage Improvement Group. The are department heads that are charged with fixing the sewers and open ditches to improve run-off flow.
The other team she formed is known as “S.W.A.T.” and is charged with fighting mosquitos in a more effective manner.
A member of State Senator Gallegos staff, who lives in the area, pointed out that no METRO representative was present, and that transit service had deteriorated in the recent time period.
Garcia returned to the drainage issue, and noted that the City was attempting to solve some of the problems of flooding by instituting a “Drainage Fee,” but that unfortunately it had been structured to include County property, schools, churches and hospitals, all of which have statuatory exemption from city taxes. Of course, the argument is whether this is actually a tax, or a user fee. Garcia suggested that when this is resolved in a satisfactory way, she believes a fee to maintain drainage elements will help solve many of the complaints.
Several speakers pointed out that trash, ditch maintenance, and blocked sewers were a result of the city being unwilling, or financially unable, to coordinate their work on infrastructure near unincorporated county residences.
Garcia introduced attorney Bob Stokes, representing Texas Young Lawyers and County Attorney Mike Stafford’s office. Stokes is working with a new group, ASAW, a volunteer attorney’s team that want to help achieve Affordable Sewer And Water systems in the county.
Another audience member thought that a program of public education to teach people to keep ditches and streets clean, in both Spanish and English, would help solve the problems. Some in the audience wondered why she was not aware of a similar effort that had been undertaken in the Aldine Improvement District.
Another respondent asked why the lower North side of Houston did not have a Community Center like the one on Bentley. Garcia promised that was one of her goals, but that she was only now formulating her budget for the next three years of her term.
Crime prevention, and the elimination of “undesirables” or vagrants that hang around stores on Jensen and get drunk in public, was another complaint. Law officials present, from HPD, said they would investigate and enforce the laws.
Garcia pointed out that her staff keeps track of all calls that come to her office, and each complaint is followed up and resolved. She encouraged everyone to call her with problems, and also to let her know if there is not a satisfactory resolution.
Steve Brewer, Garcia’s chief of staff, indicated that the evening was a success from their standpoint, and that the Commissioner planned at least two other town meeting in 2004 in other sections of the Precinct.

Stolen Christmas toys recovered on Aldine Bender

By P. J. Williams
NORTHEAST– When the Grinch stole Christmas in Houston, he hid the toys at the Haverstock Hill Apartments in the 5600 block of Aldine Bender.
Police recovered approximately $3,000 worth of toys there after they arrested Cedrick Edmonson 25, who gave a written statement admitting his involvement in the theft. Edmonson then led police to the toys hidden at his girlfriend’s apartment.

The toys were stolen Monday, Nov. 24 after Edmonson, a cab driver, was hired to deliver them to the home of a sick child. Steven Rael, a 13-year-old suffering from terminal bone cancer, received the toys in a Toys “R” Us shopping spree from Texas Wishing Well. Rael was the first applicant to the charitable organization that provides toys to seriously-ill children.
Rael bought all the toys he had wanted including an X-Box,Playstation 2, and Scoobie Doo toys.
Edmonson was present during the shopping spree because he volunteers for the organization. He seemed sympathetic and offered to transport the toys in his cab. On the drive, Edmonson lost Rael’s family in traffic.
Rael waited at home for hours thinking that perhaps Edmonson was caught in traffic, got lost, or had a wreck. But the cab with the toys never arrived.
When first questioned, Edmonson told the police that he was carjacked on the way to Rael’s home and all the toys were stolen. However, he had a cell phone with him and did not call the police to report the incident.
At the time of the theft, Edmonson was employed by the Liberty Cab Co. When they learned of what had happened, the taxi company donated $3,000 to replace the stolen toys.
Edmonson was arrested Dec. 1 on outstanding warrants unrelated to the theft. He later admitted his involvement in the toy theft, was charged with a felony, and is being held without bail. If convicted, he could receive up to two years in a state jail.

Commissioner Garcia to hold Town Meeting Thursday December 11th

Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia will be on hand Thursday, Dec. 11th for an informal Community Meeting with residents of Precinct 2. This will take place at the James Driver Community Center, 10918 1/2 Bentley Street, starting at 6:30 p.m. All residents are welcome. Come and meet the Commissioner, and share views with her. For more information, call the Center at 281-442-7950.

House fire on Lilja takes resident’s life

Arson investigators are trying to determine what caused a fatal fire on Aldine Mail Route and the 500 block of Lilja Friday. Homeowner Paul Lewandowski, 47, a father of two, died in the early morning blaze. Firefighters found his body in the living room. His two teenage children were at their mother’s house.
The fire was discovered by a next door neighbor about 4:45 a.m., awakened by a barking dog. When firefighters arrived, they retrieved his body from the living room.
Although it was not clear what caused the fire, investigators noted that their was not electricity in the house, and an extension cord ran from a neighbor’s building to his. It is thought that a space heater may have overheated.
Houston has had over 8 fire related deaths this week alone, the fire marshal noted, and cautioned everyone to install or check their smoke detectors.