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Posts published in March 2004

Community mobilizes to fight unwanted plant development


North Forest residents learned many lessons in activism Saturday that they will use in their upcoming battles against unwanted development in their community.

The meeting was the second of what will be many to educate and mobilize the community members as they struggle against a possible reopening of the concrete batch plant on Mesa and several other proposed projects.

Robin Germain-Curtis of Northeast Beyond 2000 said that the community fought against a few unwanted commercial projects over the last six to seven years, and against even more in the last six months.

“We have at least another 50 developers looking at this area,” she said explaining that many of those are for low-income housing projects.

The community’s attempt to keep the batch plant from receiving an air quality permit appears to be their toughest battle. To help them, Northeast Beyond 2000 sought the help of environmental lawyer Martina Cartwright from Texas Southern University who agreed to take on the case.

Three youths shot during car break-ins

An Aldine-area resident took the law into his own hands early Friday morning when he heard someone breaking into his neighbors’ vehicles.

The robbery and shooting occured in the 1600 block of Debeney, near Aldine-Westfield and Aldine Mail, at about 3 a.m.

A group of five teens broke the rear window of a van and stole a large set of speakers and tools from a car, when Cidello, Jr. came out with his shotgun to investigate.

Cidello fired his weapon at the group, who escaped in a stolen Nissan Sentra which became bullet-ridden during the encounter.

Sheriff’s deputies recovered the speakers and other tools in the car that was left at the hospital.

Three of the five, a female and two males, suffered minor gunshot wounds that were not serious. The group drove themselves to Houston Community Hospital where their injuries were treated before the teens were released into police custody. Police are still searching for the two teens who were not injured and escaped.

Cidello was not charged in the incident, but authorities indicated they may refer the case to a grand jury for determination on the shooting.

Fire Destroys local Plastics plant

By P.J. Williams

Firefighters from seven volunteer departments battled a 4-alarm blaze at an Aldine area plastics plant Thursday night.

At about 9:30 pm a call came in for a fire at CRP Balmoral Inc. at 1900 Rankin Rd. at Aldine Westfield. Crews responded from several local stations including Aldine Eastex, Spring, Westfield, Northeast, Little York, Northwest, and Ponderosa.

In all about 80 firefighters brought the blaze under control by just after midnight, according to Kent Pegues with the Aldine Volunteer Fire Department.

“We were being extra cautious since it was unknown what was stored in the building at the time,” Pegues said. “We were hearing little explosions. At the time, we didn’t know what they were.”

Employees were working in the building when the fire broke out. “One employee had minor injuries. He was treated at the scene and released,” said Pegues.

A Harris County Hazardous Materials team was called to the scene, since plastic pellets are manufactured in the building.

“They put down something to keep water out of the drainage system,” Pegues said.

The Hazmat team also tested the air Thursday night.

The fire is still under investigation.

Aldine ISD “Teachers of the Year” announced

Gabe Cancino was named Aldine ISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, while Purnell Harvey was named the Elementary/Intermediate Teacher of the Year during AISD’s Teacher of the Year Breakfast, held March 12 at the Hotel Sofitel.

Cancino, the band director at Grantham Academy, and Harvey, a fifth-grade science teacher at Houston Academy, were two of six finalists chosen for the prestigious award by a committee of fellow teachers, administrators and community members.

The four other finalists were Vicki Maclies of Goodman Elementary, Kristine Rinaldi of Smith Academy, Jocelyn R. Adams of Aldine Middle School and Brenda Brewer of Aldine Senior High School.

Cancino and Harvey, along with the semifinalists and each campus teacher of the year, were also honored by a number of businesses in the Greenspoint area that donated gifts for the two winners and the others.

Continental Airlines presented Cancino and Harvey each with a round trip airline ticket to anywhere Continental flies in the continental United States and Halliburton presented each of the winners $500. Additionally, Cancino and Harvey each received a $100 gift certificate good at any store in Greenspoint Mall, each received dinner for two at Oakley’s Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Airport, and each winner received two tickets to the Houston Rockets game on April 9 against the Denver Nuggets. The four finalists each received a $25 gift certificate from Greenspoint Mall, a weekend night stay and breakfast at the Holiday Inn Airport and two tickets to the April 9 Rockets game.

The campus teachers of the year each received a gift bag compliments of Greenspoint Mall, gifts from Gallery Furniture and an appetizer card from Friday’s Restaurant on Greenspoint Drive.

The campus Teachers of the Year were also eligible for a number of gifts that were made available to them via a drawing. Those gifts included a weekend nights stay and breakfast at the Holiday Inn Airport (four were awarded), a gift certificate to Jimmy G’s Restaurant (two were awarded), a Pappasito’s gift card (four were awarded), a $25 gift certificate from Office Depot on the North Freeway at West Road (four were awarded) and a $20 gift certificate from Academy on the North Freeway at West Road (one was awarded).

Cancino his goal as an educator is to help his students strive to be their best.

“I teach my students to strive to the highest in all their endeavors,” he said. “Outstanding teachers believe in what they are doing and make the students believe in what they are learning. My mission is to do everything I can to show them the importance of hard work and of continuing their education.”

Harvey said he believes all teachers have the responsibility to take an active role in seeing their students get the most out of themselves.

“My educational philosophy is based on the following principles: 1) an outstanding teacher is an evolving learner, 2) communication is an integral part of the teacher-student relationship, and 3) you must have a vested interest in your students’ success.”

For full story, see your local copy of the Northeast News.

Gov. Perry proposes Tax Reform Plan

Will call special session to end Robin Hood, put 3% cap on assessment increases


HOUSTON– Governor Rick Perry came to town, to announce a new tax initiative which he believes will end the increases in tax bills that property owners have received every year, and will change the way school districts are funded, so that property rich districts no longer have to share their wealth with poor districts.

These changes would be revolutionary, and according to Perry would provide Texans with real property tax relief, and protect them against skyrocketing property tax increases in the future.

Perry, in an animated presentation before a sympathetic tax reform crowd at the Bayland Community Center, said “Texans were told a property tax cut was on the way in 1997, but when they opened their bill many found that their rate cuts were offset by appraisal hikes. I want a tax cut to be a tax cut, not a sleight of hand where the end result means Texans pay more.”

“Had we implemented a revenue cap in 1997, tied to inflation and population growth, Texans could be paying about 20 percent less in property taxes today,” Perry said.

On hand to bolster his arguments were Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, grass roots tax cut leader and radio personality Dan Patrick, and County Commissioner Steve Radack, all Republican supporters of Perry.

“To ensure property appraisal fairness and accuracy,” Perry said, “Texas also should require disclosure of real property sales prices–as some Texas appraisal districts and 35 other state already do.”

Perry said his plan also addresses local entities budget concerns by promising an end to unfunded mandates from the state.

In response to a question from the Northeast News, Perry said that he would call a special session in the next two months to formulate the details of the plan.

Perry’s plan also included a 3% cap on homestead appraisal increases each year, an elected rather than an appointed appraisal board, and limits on increases in local government budgets, pegged to inflation and population growth, with the previous year as a base. Any additional increase would require a voter referendum.

Spring training, perhaps

Happy as a hog in mud this morning by getting to work in the yard and work on a suntan for my bald spot. The ole bare spot got a might reddish yesterday from all the yard work.
Maybe I best start wearing a hat, don’t think a peeling scalp would be comfortable and people would think I have terminal dandruff or the mange; not to mention the chance of skin cancer.

Managed to get the mower stuck in the back yard yesterday. The Mrs. came and looked at the situation and gave me a little shove to get out of the mud. That didn’t work so she went around front of the mower and pushed. I rocked the mower back and forward a couple of times. Next thing I know, she lost her balance and over she goes. Down on her knee then down onto her rump. Water and mud soaked her jeans.

I thought it was funny and tried my best not to grin but simply could not contain the grin. Needless to say she said it was my fault because I was rocking the mower.

She got fresh washed again and off to the Woodlands we went and had suppers at the Marriott. The Blood Center of Houston had a large feed for the frequent donors of the red stuff. The Mrs. is at the four gallon mark and will continue until they say No Mas. She told me that the last time she gave blood that there was a fellow there that had given twenty gallons of blood; taken him 30 years to reach that goal.

Stuck my Purple Martin house up last week and now I got the Martins. They should find an abundance of the mosquitoes on Goose Creek but no way can they eat them all.

The mosquitoes around here get more than twenty gallons a year, how about at your house?

Got to go to the country club last week one evening in cocktail attire. Me and the Mrs. had a disagreement on cocktail attire and what I was wearing. She wore one of those “go to a wedding” outfits and I was dressed to go drink beer as my cocktail. Needless to say, I had to wash and all again making it two washings in one day. I refused to shave not that nobody could tell. If we had a pirogue, I would have insisted that we take it down Goose Creek to the club.

Guess you could say she won. I went in a white shirt, tie, sports coat, and then we drove to the club. There were guys entering the club in sports shirts and tie less.

Reckon they didn’t have a wife who read the “cocktail attire” on the invitation.

Lucky for them.

Reflections on St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I don’t know that I can claim any heritage to the Irish so I have never celebrated much on St. Patrick’s Day. However, I have always seen it as a fun time for the Irish and a time of rejoicing for “the Irish clan.”

There is a deeper meaning to “St. Patties” day I understand and I respect that. In Ireland, it is an important religious holiday celebrating the conversing of the Irish to Christianity. I’ve never had the privilege of visiting Ireland but I believe the businesses are closed that day except for restaurants and pubs (and they do a landslide business.) St. Patrick was a missionary in the 5th century AD who is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity.

While it is an Irish holiday, the spirit is not lost on Irish-Americans, particularly in the larger cities such as New York, Celebrations for what is now a four-day festival in Ireland and elsewhere abound. Shamrocks can be found everywhere. I’m happy for the Irish on this day.

I’ve always wondered how the shamrock became associated with the Irish and I I recently learned that lesson. Green, the national color of Ireland, symbolizes the island’s lush landscape. The green shamrock is the main symbol associated with the holiday and is a small three-leafed clover or clover-like plant. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock, because of the three leaves, to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. The shamrock is now the national symbol of Ireland.

Today, more than 100 U. S. cities hold St. Patrick’s Day parade with New York’s Fifth Avenue Parade being the largest. That parade stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the blessing of the marchers by the cardinal of New York.

On the fun side, it is traditional to “have one for the Irish” and the frothing beer is usually green. What else? It is my understanding Chicago’s Irish attempt to dye the Chicago River green. I have no idea if that is successful. That tradition started in 1962.

To add a little fun to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations here are a few Irish jokes I have “appropriated” from the Crosby Community Center calendar. They might be called St. Patrick’s Day groaners.

Q. Why can’t you borrow money from a leprechaun?
A. Because they’re always a little short!

Q. Why do leprechauns have pots o’gold?
A. They like to “go” first class!

Q. How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
A. He’s Dublin over with laughter!

Q. What’s Irish and stays out all night”
A. Patty O’Furniture! (That one is a stretch even for me)

Q. How did the Irish Jig get started?
A. Too much to drink and not enough rest rooms!

Now you may start the groans. I said they were Irish, I didn’t say they were good!

Whether you are Irish or not if you celebrate the big day tomorrow enjoy yourself but also take of yourself. It will be 365 days until the next “Day of the Irish!

Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home.

If it glows in the dark, don’t eat it…

Suppose to have gone fishing this morning, but the weather ain’t cooperating and in more ways than one. Put some new line on three reels the other evening, cleaned out my tackle bucket from last year and sharpened my knife that I take fishing. It’ll keep until next time.

A nice mess of fresh fish sounds good even though we had fried fish yesterday at the Pilot Clubs Community Fair in Highlands, good too!

One needs to eat more fish anyhow. Getting to where the chicken flu epidemic is spooking a lot of folks and the mad cow thing is too. Course fish have their problems too – if it glows in the dark, don’t eat it.

Eat more peas and cornbread I reckon; give me some tomato and a chunk of onion please.

Managed to get in the garden this morning before it started to rain and played in the mud a bit following the tiller.

Ground is still too wet for me to plant. As I was tilling, I looked out over my neighbor’s back yard, and flying above was what looked like a Purple Martin. More than likely a scout and it was looking for my martin house.

After I went over the garden, I tromped over in my 10 pound muddy shoes and put up the bird house on the pole. The plastic birdhouse is all cleaned out from last year’s nesting material and ready for a new batch of babies. I like to sit outback in an easy chair, drink my coffee, watch the purple martins and wonder what the poor folks are doing.

Had a small box arrive this past week in the mail. The Mrs. ordered four tomato tree starter kids. Although I have doubts about the things making, but I’ll give it my best shot. Says the plants/tree produce two pound tomatoes each and should produce 60 pounds of tomatoes. All I have to say is I have to see it to believe it. If they all produce, that is 240 pounds of tomatoes.

Reckon I’ll be eating a lot of tomato sandwiches. I’ll eat my words with it if they all make.

Would not mind putting up a few quart jars of tomatoes this spring. They stink during the cooking process as I remember. Back when the grown folks did all that canning back in Georgia, I stayed outside trying to find something to get into.

Lots to do as a chap: a woodshed, smokehouse, tool shed, barn, corn crib with the mule shed behind it to check out.

There was a large hog pen down the hill from the house, but only ventured down there when it was time to slop the hogs or on the way to the river.