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Posts published in “Day: June 15, 2004”

Legislature studies substandard housing, utilities for additional funding

Bailey testifies on Aldine’s water & sewers


State Representative Kevin Bailey testified before the County Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives last week. The Committee is involved in an interim study of substandard housing and the need to extend opportunities for grant money to areas beyond the border.

“We have a serious public health crisis in the unincorporated areas of Harris County. There are over 55,000 homes in Harris County that operate with private water wells and septic tanks,” Bailey told the committee.

“Not all are polluted, especially in the rural areas the water wells are fine and the septic systems can work. But, we have had over development and congested subdivisions in some areas where there are so many septic tanks that the sewerage is flowing into the water wells. The Harris County Public Health Department has said that some of these people are literally drinking their own sewerage.”

Rep. Bailey went on to tell the committee, “We have made some significant progress. In 2001, I was able to pass a bill creating the Aldine Community Improvement District which includes many of these neighborhoods that have problems. In 2002 the district received a planning grant from the Texas Water Development Board to begin the planning process for public water and sewer systems in the area and to begin to catalog how many neighborhoods there were in need of services.” Bailey also stated that Harris County officials have been very supportive of the Districts efforts.

He went on to tell them that there are 4,619 individual septic systems in the Aldine Improvement District study area including 1,385 of the systems that are failing and 2,401 of the systems are on lots that are too small or otherwise unsuitable for a septic system.

The lots are too small for replacement on-site sewerage systems, and financial resources are limited at best.Because many of the lots are unsuitable for on-site septic systems, the only viable option for the neighborhood is to connect to a wastewater plant.

Bailey continued, “So, we are beginning to accomplish some things, but the engineers are estimating anywhere from 75 to 100 million minimum to put water and sewer into the areas with the greatest need. Many of these communities are so poor that they cannot pay back loans in the water rates so we need money for construction or money to assist in paying back construction.”

The committee will be presenting a report to the full House of Representatives by the end of the year and will be making recommendations on needed legislation.

American Thrift opens new store

Little York at Hardy


Forget everything you thought you knew about thrift stores. American Thrift is revolutionizing the business with nicer stores, lower prices, wider selection, and better customer service than can be found elsewhere.

This Friday, American Thrift will branch out from its original location on Gears Road. On the 18th, their new store will open on Little York just east of the Hardy Toll Road next to Seller’s Bros.

The grand opening of this new store will make it even easier for Aldine residents to snag the great deals. “Ten to 15% of our customers are from this area,” said general manager Tacho Martinez. With few stores of this type in the neighborhood, American Thrift hopes to benefit the community.

As soon as customers enter the doors, they can see the difference. The stores, both of which used to be former Weiner’s, are clean and well organized.

While they shop, customers can enjoy a cup of complimentary coffee. And if husbands or children don’t feel like shopping, they can watch one of the store’s four TVs which are all tuned to something different: news; cartoons for the kids; Lifetime, for the ladies; and sports.

“We have a customer who comes in every Sunday with is wife and sits down in front of the TV while his wife shops for three hours,” Martinez said.

Before American Thrift opened, the owners shopped other thrift stores to see what they offered and then improve the concept for their own store. “We went over and beyond and did 100% better,” Martinez said.

With 20,000 square feet, the store will offer 200,000 items. Finding just what you are looking for is easy. Clothes are sorted by size, type, and color. “If you are looking for a short sleeve, yellow, ladies shirt in small, you can go right to that section,” Martinez explained.

The store offers a great selection at low prices. A Liz Claiborne shirt sells for just $3.99. There are several shirts on the racks from Croft & Barrow and Abercrombie & Fitch. A Structure shirt is priced at only $5.99. A new pair of shoes with the tags sold for $4.99.

All the items are clean and in style.

In addition to clothes, American Thrift offers toys, books, electronics, household items, jewelry and more. They offer wedding dresses for $29.99 and Quinceañeras /prom dresses starting at $8.99. A car seat is just $4.99.
New merchandise arrives daily. “Every day we receive a truckload of merchandise with 10,000 items,” Martinez said.

American Thrift created a system that keeps merchandise circulating. That way, customers don’t have to sort through the same items each visit to find what’s new. As part of this system, the stores offer daily specials. On Monday, a tag color is chosen to be on sale for 99¢ Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday through Sunday, a certain tag color is offered at 50% off.

As the new American Thrift on Little York opens, the original on Gears Road prepares for their one year anniversary in August. The store plans to continue branching out with a new store every year.

Martinez said, “Our goal is, through doing business right, to satisfy each and every customer as well as growing through the years.”

Texas state quarter now in circulation

A Texas-size bash June 10 marked the debut of the state’s new, shiny ambassadors. Governor Rick Perry celebrated the launch of the new Texas quarter with celebrities, music, and free barbecue at the Texas State History Museum.

The Texas quarter is the third quarter of 2004, and the 28th in the 50 State Quarters Program. On December 29, 1845, Texas became the 28th state to be admitted into the Union.

The quarter’s reverse design incorporates an outline of the State with a star superimposed on the outline and the inscription, “The Lone Star State.” The lariat encircling the design is symbolic of the cattle and cowboy history of Texas, as well as the frontier spirit that tamed the land.

“This Texas quarter will serve as a timeless representation of our state’s proud and storied history,” Perry said. “When Americans reach into their pockets and purses, this quarter will remind all of the proud and rich history of the state that was once its own sovereign nation.”

Texas comes from the Indian word “tejas,” meaning friends or allies, and appropriately Texas’s motto is “Friendship.” Probably the two most recognized symbols of Texas are its unique shape and the lone star that is represented on the State flag.

The Texas flag design was approved in 1839 to symbolize the Republic of Texas and was adopted as the State flag in 1845. The simple design of a lone star and three bold stripes of red, white and blue represent bravery, purity and loyalty, respectively. Texas is the only state to have had six different flags fly over its land — Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America and the United States of America.

On August 14, 2000, Governor George W. Bush appointed the 15-member Texas Quarter Dollar Coin Advisory Committee. The Committee authorized the Texas Numismatic Association to conduct a statewide design contest on its behalf.

Nearly 2,600 candidate design concepts were submitted in response to a statewide contest. From those design concepts, 17 finalists were selected by the Texas Numismatic Association and presented to the Texas Quarter Dollar Coin Advisory Committee for review.

The Committee further narrowed the submissions to the five designs that were most representative and emblematic of the State. Governor Rick Perry submitted the preferred design of the outline of Texas beneath the Lone Star and encircled by a lariat, which was approved by the Secretary of the Treasury on August 26, 2003.

North Houston Bank has several of the new quarters available for customers who would like to buy a roll.

Houston area to hold Juneteenth celebrations

This Saturday, many African-Americans will celebrate freedom with picnics, barbecues, and concerts. Juneteenth, celebrated every June 19, represents freedom for African- Americans like the Fourth of July does for all Americans. Originally, a Texas holiday, Juneteenth marks the day that slaves in Texas learned that they were free.

On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston. This act freed the 250,000 slaves in Texas about two years after the proclamation was signed. The news did not reach Texas previously because Confederate troops stopped most Union troops from invading Texas. Slave owners had such power in the state that they managed to suppress the news of the Emancipation Proclamation for over two years.

News of the new-found freedom quickly spread from farm to farm and was met with dancing, singing, and shouts of joy. Some slaves stayed with their former masters while others took off immediately to see what else lay out there for them. In addition to the ability to travel, it also meant that slaves could finally legalize their marriages, name themselves, and gather together which allowed black churches to form.

Organizers used the first community wide Juneteenth celebrations to educate blacks about voting rights and rally for certain politicians. Soon, Juneteenth committees began forming state-wide celebrations.

The first Juneteenth celebration in the state capital occured in 1867. By 1872, the event was listed in the state’s calendar of public events. By the 1960s, people celebrated Juneteenth events with less fervor as the civil rights movement drew attention elsewhere. But in the 1970s, African-Americans became more interested in their culutral heritage, and Juneteenth celebrations gained more momentum. The day became a state holiday in 1979 when Houston Democrat Al Edwards introduced the bill. The next year, in 1980, Texans held their first state sponsored Juneteenth celebrations.

As Texans have moved to other parts of the country and taken their Juneteenth roots with them, the holiday has grown a nationwide. There are now petitions on the internet seeking to convince the United States Postal Service to issue an official Juneteenth stamp.

There are several events planned for Juneteenth in the Houston area this year:

Houston
June 18 “The Collaboration” of the African-American Aerospace Network, Boeing Black Employees Association, National Society of Black Engineers, National Technical Association, and United Space Alliance, will host a four-hour evening event on Friday, June 18th from 4:30 – 8:30 PM at Clear Lake Park on NASA Rd. 1 in Seabrook.  The evening will include “edu-tainment” an awesome menu, rides, fun, and all the trimmings.  Ticket prices range from Free – $8.00 depending on age.

June 19 The Fontaine/Scenic Woods Civic Club will again this year hold a community party to celebrate Juneteenth. The partywill include games and food at Scenic Woods Park on Cheeves starting at 5pm

June 19 The National Emancipation Association celebrates Juneteenth and the abolition of slavery with the 31st Annual Freedom Festival. The festival theme for 2004 is ”the strength of the family is the strength of the nation.” On June 19, the festivities begin with a Freedom Festival Parade downtown starting on Texas and Hamilton at 10AM. The Festival moves to Miller Outdoor Theatre at 2PM for free barbecue, talent shows and live bands throughout the evening.

June 19 12th Annual Juneteenth Festival Zydeco Rhythm & Blues Expo 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. 6130 Wheatley Street (Under the Big Tent) Entertainment includes: Nooney & The Zydeco Floaters; Booker T. Washington’s H. S. Band; The Baby Ocean of Soul Oceanetts; Ray Brown & Showtime Band (R & B); Business Networking Opportunity; Vendor Exhibitions; Fun & Games For All Ages; Loli-Pop the Clown
 
June 19 Whole Foods Market-Wilcrest Store 11145 Westheimer Houston, TX  77042 Event Contact Person-Tricia  Jolly: 713.784.7776; Time: 11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. Admission and activities for this event are free and open to the public.  There will be music, water games for children, free stickers, coloring books, and multiple booths full of festive and delicious foods.
Whole Foods Market 2955 Kirby Dr. Houston Texas 77098 Food, music, lots of fun in the best Natural food store in the nation. Contact: Mary Thomas 713.520.1937 for more details.

 Galveston
June 15-19 African American Heritage Exhibits 10:30am-5:00pm Exhibits by: Nia Culture Center Youth Contact: Ruth Ouzenne 409-765-7086 Old Central Cultural Center 2627 Avenue M Galveston, Texas 77550

June 16 Central High School Memorial Service 7:00pm Old Central Cultural Center 2627 Avenue M Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Margaret Bell 409-762-6048 Ceremony to honor deceased graduates of Central High School. A reception will follow the ceremony. The public is invited. Information of the Galveston Gathering will be available.

June 17 3rd Annual Juneteenth Heritage Play: “Flashback” Tickets $10/ Children $5 at the door Old Central Cultural Center 2627 Avenue M Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Maggie Williams, 409-744-1491 The spirit of the past continues to soar in the 21st Century saga. “Flashback” is a venture through an array of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears, as we receive our history in an evening of enchantment via music, dance, and song inspired by exciting, clever, witty, thought provoking dialogue.

June 18 2nd Annual Underground Railroad 9:00am-2:00pm Kempner Park, 27th and Avenue O Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Tommie Boudreaux 409-740-0454 The African American Heritage Committee and the Education Committee of the Galveston Historical Foundation proudly presents “The Making of an Underground Railroad: from Slavery to Freedom”.

June 19 25th Annual Emancipation Proclamation 8:30am Reading and Prayer Breakfast Ashton Villa, 2300 Broadway, Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Douglas Matthews 409-772-8773 A reading of the Emanicipation Proclamation will commemorate the historic event that took place in Galveston on June 19, 1865. State Represenative Al Edwards Texas Legislature will be in attendance. Rep. Edwards is from the Houston area and is the originator of two very important Juneteenth Bills.

Annual Juneteenth Jubilee Parade 11:00am 25th and Ball to the New Wright Cuney Park (41st and Ball) Contact: Leon Phillips 409-762-7777 This event will feature more than 70 units marching from 25th and Ball Street to 41st and Ball ending at the new Wright Cuney Park. Marching bands will include Ball High School and other local bands and dance teams.

Annual Juneteenth Jubilee Picnic 12:00pm New Wright Cuney Park, 41st and Ball Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Barbara Gordon 409-599-8050 Annie Mae Charles 409-762-5133 Music and activities for the entire family.

5th Annual Gospel Explosion in the Park 2004 4:00pm-9:00pm Menard Park 2700 Seawall Blvd. Galveston, Texas 77550 Contact: Peter and Quinnette James 409-621-1414 Rob Cahee 409-740-1144 The Gospel Explosion is a spiritual event for the entire family to enjoy. Soloist, church choirs and praise dancers from Galveston and surrounding areas will lift your spirits during this great celebration.

Reedy Chapel’s Annual March, Prayer Service, Musical and Picnic 4:30p From Galveston Court House (21st and Sealy) to Reedy Chapel.

Charitable Raffles: Know the Law

By Greg Abbott

My office receives numerous calls from Texans across the state who are hoping to raise money for a good cause. Many Texans decide they want to do a raffle. But is it legal to raise funds with a raffle?

It depends. The Charitable Raffle Enabling Act which has been in effect since September 1, 1999, establishes the guidelines for conducting a legal raffle in the State of Texas. The Act was established to provide certain charitable and non-profit membership organizations a means to generate income to support their causes.

The Act defines the types of organizations that can hold raffles. In general a qualified organization is defined as:

An association organized primarily for religious purposes that has been in existence in Texas for at least ten years.

A voluntary emergency medical service that does not pay its members other than nominal compensation.
A volunteer fire department that operates fire fighting equipment and does not pay it members other than nominal compensation.

Other organizations may qualify. You can hold a raffle if your non-profit organization:
-is at least three years old;
-elects its governing body;
-has a 501(c) tax exemption;
-has members;
-does not distribute income to its members; and
-does not participate in any political campaign.
These are the ONLY organizations allowed to hold raffles in Texas. Any other type of organization, business or individual conducting a raffle in Texas would be doing so illegally. The law also regulates what types of prizes may be offered. Qualified organizations may offer any prize except money. There is no value limit on prizes donated to the organization. However, if raffle organizers offer a prize they have bought or given other consideration for, the value of the prize may not exceed $50,000.

There are a few other restrictions. For example, a qualified organization may only hold two raffles per year. Raffle tickets may not be advertised state wide or through paid advertisements. Each ticket must provide the name and address of the organization holding the raffle or the address of an officer of the organization. Tickets may only be sold by members of the organization. Additionally, the ticket must include the price of the ticket and a general description of each prize that has a value of more than $10.

A raffle that violates the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act is considered illegal gambling under the Texas Penal Code. Conducting an illegal raffle is a Class A misdemeanor and participation is a Class C misdemeanor.

My office would not be permitted to advise you about whether your particular organization, or any particular proposed raffle, would be legal. We can only provide these general guidelines. If you have doubts about the legality of a raffle, consult a private attorney.

For information on conducting a legal raffle in Texas, read Chapter 2002, Charitable Raffles, Occupations Code, Texas Codes Annotated. We also offer an online brochure on charitable raffles that can be found on our Web site at www.oag. state.tx.us.

POINTS TO REMEMBER
CHARITABLE RAFFLES

Registration and Taxation requirements for nonprofit organizations in Texas:
Secretary of State
Post Office Box 12697
Austin, TX 78711
(800) 648-9642
www.sos.state.tx.us

Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528
Austin, TX 78711
(800) 463-4600
www.cpa.state.tx.us

For a copy of the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act:
Texas Legislature Online
www.capitol.state.tx.us
State Law Library
(512) 463-2178

Online brochure:
Charitable Raffles
www.oag.state.tx.us
or call for a free copy:
800 252-8011

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

From the Superintendent: Setting the record straight

Dear Aldine ISD Stakeholders:

Our school district has enjoyed a well-deserved and hard-earned reputation for wisely spending money to help students learn while, at the same time, setting the second lowest tax rate among school districts in the Houston area. Unfortunately, during a recent political campaign, false information was spread about how Aldine ISD operates. It is important to set the record straight so that our taxpayers can have all the facts.

Q: Did Aldine ISD spend $10 million more than it had during the 2002-03 (fiscal) budget year?
A: No. Thanks to our employees and good financial management across the district, Aldine was actually able to spend $716,032 less than it budgeted and placed that additional amount into the district’s bank account (fund balance).

Q: Were Aldine ISD’s procedures for operating its finances inefficient and improper during 2002-03?
A: No. The district actually earned a Superior rating from the State of Texas (Texas Education Agency), which is the state’s highest rating for quality performance in the management of the school district’s finances.
Additionally, this year the district has been able to provide pay raises and meet the needs of students without laying off employees, unlike many school districts in Texas.

Q: Did the Freeport Exemption, which Aldine ISD’s school board unanimously approved, result in the school district increasing property taxes by 10.4 percent and losing $5 million in revenue?
A: No. The Freeport Exemption, which exempts companies from paying taxes only on certain inventory in storage, actually resulted in $70,000 in additional revenue to the school district. Under the Freeport Exemption agreement, companies were still required to pay property taxes and pay additional revenue to Aldine ISD to make up for any revenue lost during the first three years of exemption. The state of Texas also pays the district the lost revenue after the first year of the exemption. Additionally, new companies were attracted to the Aldine community because of the Freeport Exemption, resulting in more property tax revenue for the school district and more jobs for Aldine families. This agreement was a very good deal for the district and community.

Q: What about the rumors that the school district improperly appoints school board members to complete the terms of board members who have resigned from the board?
A: All school board appointments follow state law and school district policy and will continue to follow state law and school district policy. If a school board member is appointed, the member must run for election in subsequent election years.

Q: Is it true that the school board approved $9 million in incentive bonuses and most of those bonuses went to administrators?
A: No. The school board actually approved $5.5 million in incentive pay. Approximately 68% went to campus-based teachers, aides, and clerical staff; 27% went to campus-based administrators (principals, asst. principals, counselors and diagnosticians); and 5% went to non-campus personnel.

I hope that I have satisfactorily answered questions that have surfaced recently. We want our parents and all taxpayers to be informed about the operations of this school district to strengthen our partnership as we, together, produce the nation’s best students!

Sincerely,
Nadine Kujawa
Aldine ISD Superintendent of Schools

Avoiding meetings and insects…

June marks the end of my tenure as President of the Greater Highlands Chamber of Commerce after having served one year in that capacity. People are telling me it is a two year term, but I told them going in that I would give it one year as no one else would take the job at that time. That should have told me something, but I have stepped in bigger piles before.

After this I will belong to no civic organization, social clubs, fraternal group or the like. That means no meetings and I have grown most accustomed to having a fond dislike for meetings except for going to eat. If there ain’t nothing to eat then I sure do not like to attend such. Only thing I have to contend with meetings is my day job and that is what feeds us so I’ll not fuss much about all of their meetings.

Did have a meeting this morning with the lawn mower to mow Day Lake and did it real early too. Not a particular fun job to do considering the ground was still wet and managed to get a few cob webs across my face and neck. Did see one large web before I running into it and managed to back up in time. Those old banana legged spiders look ever so mean to me and I stay my distance from them.

Mowing the front, I kept felt something bumping on my head where there is hair. This was going on a bunch and I mowed and swatted. An occasional cricket would land on my leg and that is one eerie feeling for sure. Go to pull one off and it will hold on to you with its feet. It’s like pulling off Velcro and I don’t like that feeling.

The bumping on my head felt like something falling out of a tree, then it started under my arm up in my shirt as the T shirt I had on was super baggy. I continued to mow as I’d flick the crickets and wipe my hand over my head but something was in my shirt so I grabbed a hand full of shirt and out came a little bee. Must have been a little honey bee but it did not sting me. Then I got one off my head. I pushed the throttle on full and got out of the area to let things settle.

Later I see Four Dog start to run then roll over and slide his face through something. Oh Lordy I thought, he’d been in that dead Armadillo that was belly up in the back field going to the lake. I had noticed a swarm of flies around it as I first passed it. I rode the mower directly to the ladder getting up to the cabin and Four followed me up and into the cabin; I closed him up in the cabin for the time being. Had I been down by the water, I would have used him as alligator bait. And to think I had to ride home with him.

Got back to the house and the first thing we did was take a shower. Four Dog got in and the water turned dark and the spray hit him on his back. He’s still in the dog house with me wallowing in that stink.

Still had thawed out blackberries to contend with, so I sieved the berries and coupled with 7 cups of sugar and preserving ingredients, the product is now in jars waiting for a biscuit on those cold winter mornings to come in about half a year from now. Can’t believe I’m talking about cold weather when summer is about to begin.