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Posts published in “Day: August 17, 2004”

Northline’s Mike Corcoran assigned to Iraq duty

Things have been a bit quiet around the Northline Mall management offices the last few weeks since marketing coordinator Michael Corcoran shipped out to serve in Kuwait. In addition to his career at Northline Mall, Corcoran is a heavy crane operator in the Navy Reserves. He has served in the military over ten years and will soon be promoted to E7 Chief Engineer. Corcoran and his unit are in Kuwait for what could be a six month to one year deployment to off load and in load supply ship for the war effort in Iraq.

“We are a family here. We are all beginning to miss him,” said coworker Lee Garza.

Corcoran’s absence left a mark on the staff at Northline which has grown used to Corcoran’s mischievous humor and practical jokes. One of Corcoran’s favorite toys around the office was a dart gun. “I’d sit at the computer and the next thing I know, there’d be a dart on the computer screen,” Lee said. The staff said Corcoran usually got out of trouble by flashing a smile.

When he is not serving in Kuwait, Corcoran lives in the Woodlands with his wife Brenda. He often works to improve his truck and remote control boat. Corcoran also competes at slalom skiing. “He may try to talk the admiral into towing him behind the boat,” said mall director Rebecca Victor.

The Northline Mall office sent Corcoran away on a positive note with a farewell party at his favorite Mexican restaurant. The office staff can’t wait to hear how Corcoran is doing in Kuwait. They are especially curious about how he is dealing with the heat. The office thermostat was often fought over by the coworkers. “He likes it cold,” they said.

While the office crew misses Corcoran’s antics around the office and the work he does promoting the mall, they know he is fulfilling an important role in the country’s military defenses. They just look forward to a barbecue with some cold beers to welcome him back home.

Chamber welcomes new Teachers

NORTHEAST HOUSTON – As students and teachers were preparing to head back to school this week, the new staff got a big welcome from the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber, to set the mood for a good school year.

The first event was a luncheon at Campbell Center, held for the new staff of Aldine ISD. Over 700 attended this record breaking event, and over 480 new teachers were present for the event, which featured a motivational talk by Mike Jones of Discover Leadership Training. Jones is also known for his work for Soul Patrol, featured on TV shows such as “Oprah” and “Good Morning America.”

Present for the ceremony were the MacArthur HS Army color guard, and the Nimitz HS choir.

On Wednesday morning, about 50 new teachers of North Forest ISD were welcomed by the Chamber in a breakfast event at the Hotel Sofitel.

Present at the ceremony were the new Superintendent of the district, Dr. James Simpson, and the board members and new staff.

Speaking to this group was Dr. Bennie Lambert, motivational speaker from North Harris College.

Three new coaches — at Aldine, Ike and Nimitz

Football fans at Aldine, Eisenhower and Nimitz will see three new faces roaming the sidelines when the 2004 football season begins the last weekend of August.

To say all three programs have undergone change since last season would be an understatement.

The transformation started in February when Bill Smith, the long-time head football coach at Aldine Senior announced his retirement and was succeeded by Fort Worth Dunbar head coach Bob Jones. Later in the spring, the Nimitz Senior job came open when Randy Rowe resigned and was replaced by David Suggs, who served as head coach at Beaumont Central for the last two years.

Aldine ISD Director of Athletics Daryl Wade had just filled the Nimitz job when Eisenhower Senior head coach Richard Carson told him he was leaving the Eagles to start up his own program at College Park High in The Woodlands, which will open in the 2005-06 school year. Wade found Carson’s replacement in Larry Haynes, who served as the head football coach and athletic director at Crosby High School prior to landing the Eisenhower job.

“It was definitely a busy and interesting spring semester,” Wade said, with a laugh. “I can’t ever remember having to find three new head football coaches, but thanks to the success Bill, Randy and Richard produced, we didn’t have to go out looking for applicants. They came to us.”

Wade said he’s looking forward to seeing how each of the three new head coaches fare in their first year on the job. MacArthur High’s Jerry Drones becomes the senior head coach in the district now that the three “rookies” have come on board.

Jones, who served as Dunbar’s head coach for seven years (he has 23 years of coaching experience), forged a 46-29 record at Dunbar, including four district titles and five playoff appearances.

The Lexington, NE native is well aware he has some big shoes to fill.”It’s a big challenge,” Jones said. “Coach Smith was Aldine High School and made this program what it is today. He will always be important to this program and the field house will always be open to him. We want him to continue to be a part of things around here.”

Jones, 45, who was coached in high school by University of Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez, said Mustang fans won’t see a whole lot of changes offensively or defensively when the 2004 season opens Sept. 4 against Madison at Butler Stadium.

“We’ll run out of the I-formation and do a lot of the things coach Smith did. We will probably throw a little more because we feel we have good talent at the skill positions. You might even see us use the shot gun from time to time. Defensively, we’ll continue to base out of the 4-3.”

Aldine returns five offensive and six defensive starters among 16 lettermen who were part of a 9-2 team a year ago. Jones, 45, is excited about the upcoming season and looking forward to competing for the District 18-5A title.

“We think we have a chance to have a successful football team. Our goals will always be to come out of non-district play with a winning record, to come out of district with a title and to come out of the playoffs with a state title.”

Jones and his wife Tammy have two sons, Andrew 15, and Alex, 12.

Nimitz’s new head coach inherits a program that has reached the playoffs three of the last four years and Suggs wants to continue the winning ways Cougar fans have become accustomed to. Suggs, 44, has served as a head coach for eight years (Beaumont Central, Port Arthur Lincoln, Willowridge and Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland and has 20 years of coaching experience. He brings a 45-41 career record and five playoff appearances to Nimitz. He too is looking forward to a new district and a new challenge.

“This is a great job because you are working in a school district that is respected throughout the state. Aldine ISD does a great job of educating kids and they support athletics. This is an opportunity to be in a situation where we can be successful year in and year out.”

Offensively, Suggs said the Cougars will have a multiple I formation look. “We feel like our offense is versatile enough to adapt to our personnel.”

Defensively the Cougars will employ an eight-man front.

Unlike Jones and Haynes, Suggs was able to go through part of spring training with his new team. He said the nine days they spent learning a new system should be beneficial when the season opens Aug. 28 against Clear Brook in Thorne Stadium.

“We felt it was a good transition. We did a lot of things on the fly trying to learn one another, but we got a lot accomplished in the spring.

This is a good group of kids and we will be relying on our seniors to lead us when we get back to work in August.”

The Cougars return eight offensive and six defensive starters among 17 lettermen who led Nimitz to the Division II quarterfinals and an 8-5 record in 2003.

“They’ve had success in the past and we want to build on that. We also want to establish a major, major drive with our kids being successful academically. We want to become more than a good group of athletes. We want to become a good group of student-athletes.”

Haynes also takes over a program that has been one of the most successful programs in the Houston area and state over the last 12 years. The 47-year-old Haynes is known for taking over losing programs and building winners. He likes the fact that this time around, he enters a program that is firmly established.

“I feel this is one of the elite jobs in the state in an elite district,” said Haynes, who brings a 112-49-3 record to his new job. “People rave about Aldine ISD and I’m happy to be part of the Aldine family. This is the first program I’ve taken over that has an established winning tradition. Pat (Patterson) and Richard (Carson) did an outstanding job. I’m not here to rock the boat, I’m here to row it.”

Haynes said Eagle fans will see a lot of different looks offensively. He and his staff will evaluate the talent on hand and fit an offense around it. Haynes did point out that the Eagles will throw the ball more this year. “We’ll probably run it 60 percent of the time and throw it 40 percent of the time,” he said.

Defensively, Eisenhower will use an eight-man front that utilizes the blitz and man-to-man coverage in the secondary.

Haynes is excited about the prospects for the 2004 campaign, which begins Aug. 28 against state runner-up The Woodlands in Reliant Stadium (this will be the first regular season game ever played in Reliant Stadium) as well he should. The Eagles return seven offensive and six defensive starters among 20 lettermen who led the Eagles to the district title and a 9-2 record in 2003.

“How successful we are will depend on our senior leadership and the response we’ve gotten from the kids thus far has been phenomenal,” Haynes said. “Our ultimate goal is to win the whole thing (state title). We may not get there this year, but we’ll work to get there every year.”

While there won’t be a new face on the sidelines for the MacArthur Generals, there will be plenty of new faces on the field, according to Drones, who enters his fourth year as head coach. MacArthur returns six offensive and four defensive starters among 17 lettermen from last year’s 4-6 team.

“We’re going to be very young this year,” Drones said. “We’ve only got 10 seniors on the team, so we’re going to look to some of our young kids for leadership.”

Drones said the core of the team will revolve around the juniors on the roster.

“We played 15 sophomores last year and they are now juniors, so we have some experience, but we’ve got to stay healthy. Depth is going to be a real concern for us.”

The Generals should know how they will fare in the 18-5A race once they finish with a tough non-district schedule that includes Galveston Ball, Conroe and Klein Collins.

“Our non-district schedule is going to be tough. If we come through that in good shape, we could do something in district,” Drones said. “I know we’ll play hard and we’ll put people out there who will play hard. We should be OK everywhere but on the defensive line, where we lost all four starters and three reserves.”

Stafford dumps Mt. Trashmore with injunction

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford obtained an injunction against Ricky Gandy and Halco Waste Container, Inc. ordering them to clean-up two illegal waste disposal sites in East Harris County. Gandy, acting through his companies Halco Waste Container, Inc. and Old Orchard.

Trucking and Waste, has been illegally disposing of waste (including demolition debris, household garbage, cardboard, plastic, tires, and wood) at 16120 Market Street and 14807 Garrett Road.

The property at 16120 Market Street, dubbed “Mount Trashmore” by neighborhood residents, is in Channelview. The property at 14807 Garrett Road is in the Sheldon area. Earlier this year, citizens began calling Harris County to complain about odors and rats coming from the Market Street property. Harris County Pollution Control repeatedly cited Mr. Gandy for public endangerment and failure to comply with various environmental laws. The Harris County Fire Marshal issued a Fire Marshal Order against Gandy for numerous fire hazards.

In May 2004, Stafford filed suit against Gandy and Halco. During a two day court hearing, various government investigators testified that both Mr. Gandy’s sites were being operated in violation of Texas law. Phil Rogers, an investigator with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, testified that he had personally inspected both sites and had discovered numerous fire hazards. Andy Vance, an investigator with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, testified that both sites were in violation of state environmental law.

On August 4, 2004, Judge Randy Wilson issued a temporary injunction against defendants Gandy and Halco. Judge Wilson found that both 16120 Market Street and 14807 Garrett Road were in violation of state law and that the large quantities of combustible material stored at these sites endangered human health and welfare. The injunction orders the defendants to stop disposing of solid waste at these sites (unless the defendants obtained a permit or registration from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and to remove all existing waste from the sites.

In discussing today’s court ruling, Stafford stated, “The County Attorney’s Office is delighted with the Court Order. We believe that this ruling protects the public health and safety. It achieves justice for the citizens who have suffered so much.”

Graffiti… on the trains, on the poles

Roadside graffiti has gotten out of hand with culprits armed with spray paint. Look at the rail cars next time you get stopped by a train.

To make matters worse, one cannot read what is being written. It looks like old tattoos that are no longer legible or chicken scratch. When the culprits are caught, they ought to be required to repaint the damage done and take spelling lessons then move them on to the next markings and repaint it but that would be cruel and unusual punishment. That or let them go to a judge like Ted Poe.

Had a fellow in my office last week saying he bought a pry bar specifically to pull the nails from signs posted on the pole out front of his building on Main Street in Highlands. Told him to look at the telephone pole as you go out of the post office; it is loaded with nails from thousands of signs over the years. Check it out and watch for the poison ivy in the shrub. They grow asp in that shrub too, I’ve seen them. Asps are fuzzy looking caterpillar critters that will sting the living you know what out of you.

Already took down the Purple Martin house for the year and cleaned it out. Boy howdy was it nasty with a dead black bird in it but it’s ready for next year now.

Got a few hummers coming around to the sugar water feeders. It is about the time of the year for the hummingbirds to be coming through on their way south for the winter migration. Expect to have hummers now through mid October. Be making sugar water instead of jelly for a while; change of pace will do me good.

Been in the kitchen most of the day preparing suppers; old brother-in-law is coming over, the good one. Let’s step into the kitchen a minute or two.

Bought six ears of white corn and shucked all of it using my tater washing brush to rinse the silk off the cob under water. Cut the corn off each ear of corn making one slice down the ear rotating as I cut. Then scraping the meat or pulp off the stalk all the way down and still rotating the cob as I cut. I’ve watched my mother cut two slices of corn around each ear then scrape it; then add water, boil down to when it’s rite and add a sliver of butter, cooking until melted. Some use flour and water, some use cornstarch and water, I simply cook mine down, add butter and let it set a bit. The corn don’t need no thickening nor do I. It makes tomatoes taste better too.

Fried up 12 chicken wings earlier and used a drip of oil in the butterbeans as I boiled whole okra in it with the butterbeans.

Old McDonald gave me some deer back strap a while back and I’m frying it up making nice gravy afterwards. I boiled 6 large red taters adding a small can of drained sliced jalapenos to the water as the taters boiled, good too with the gravy and biscuits. Doing that does make the air in the house odorous and a cough or two.

Get this, I was going to do a pan of cornbread but she wants that long loaf of bread claiming to be made over yonder but made here in the USA. Split, buttered, garlicked and toasted.

He just called; I asked him if he like hot dogs.

I was going to have corn on the cob but she insisted I cut it off the cob since he has his front teeth in the dentist shop.

Hometown Heroes… by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson

“The most important thing [in the Olympic Games] is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – The Olympic Creed

Number Six

We’ve all been inspired by Texas’ athletic stars, hometown heroes to many of us. But there is one star who seems to shine brighter with each summer victory. Lance Armstrong has done it again. He’s accomplished what no other cyclist has done before, winning his sixth straight Tour de France.

The Austin native held up six fingers as he raced to the finish line in Paris, pedaling his way out of Montereau and into history as one of the greatest athletes ever.

Cyclists from all over the world compete along 2,050 miles of road ranging from flat wheat fields to the steep Alps, making the Tour de France known not only for its beautiful terrain, but also as one of the most grueling sporting events of the modern era. Lance Armstrong has been an inspiration through his cycling accomplishments. Yet the headlines and glory fall a distant second behind his victory over cancer.

In October of 1996, while seemingly at the top of his game, the two-time Olympian was stricken with pain and forced off his bike. Armstrong was given less than a 50-50 chance to live after testicular cancer spread to his lungs and brain. As if scripted by Hollywood, the promising athlete fought and persevered to defeat the disease – and then employed that same tenacity to get back on the bike and back on top.

Today, our Texas hometown hero uses his triumphs to serve as a symbol of hope, inspiration and survivorship. He established the non-profit Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which has become one of the nation’s preeminent cancer research organizations. This year, the LAF sold yellow bracelets with the words “Live Strong” with a goal of raising $5 million for cancer patients and their families. So far, LAF has sold seven million bracelets, bringing a total of $7 million to the cause already and more on back order.

A Look at Athens

The competitive side of Texas will continue to shine this summer as the country and the world heads to Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.

Every four years, the world comes together as one in celebration of the globe’s most prestigious athletic event. All too often our nations are unified only through tragedy, but, for the past 108 years, the Olympic Games have brought us together for friendly competition.
In the first modern Olympic Games, approximately 300 athletes from 13 countries competed in only nine sports. This month, nearly 10,500 athletes from 202 countries will partake in 37 different events.

So who will be next in joining Lance Armstrong and Michael Johnson in Texas Olympic history? Texas is the home state of 29 athletes on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. We are proud to field more athletes than any other state, except California. Fellow Texans will be cheering on their hometown heroes, including returning Olympians Mia Hamm, Sheryl Swoopes, Laura Wilkinson, Amy Acuff, Glenn Fuller, Connie Schiller Smotek, and Stacy Sykora. Texans are accustomed to being among the biggest and the best, but this competition is world class. Each one of these Lone Stars will be doing their utmost, competing for the gold and fighting to be among the great Texas Olympians.

I congratulate our Texas hometown heroes, Lance Armstrong and our Olympic athletes, in all they have achieved and have yet to accomplish. They make us proud.

To learn more on the Lance Armstrong Foundation visit www.laf.org and www.livestrong.com, to order a Live Strong bracelet. Keep up to date on the US Olympic team and Olympic events at www.usolympicteam.com and www.athens2004.com.

“Lawn Chair Larry” amazes with high flying antics

Every year I await the announcement of the Darwin Award winners with baited-breath. It is the one time each year that I can say with assurance “there are people who do stupid things that far surpass those committed by yours truly.” The winners are announced via the internet under such headings as “Dumb Buddy,” “Drunk gets Dunked,” and the like.

This year however, I want to alert you to “Lawn Chair Larry,” who was highlighted again this year for his stupid stunt a few years ago. Larry Walters was then, as you might have guessed, a resident of California—Los Angeles to be more accurate.

Here goes:

Larry’s boyhood dream was to fly. But fate conspired to keep him from his dream. He joined the Air Force, but his poor eyesight disqualified him from the job of pilot. After his discharge he sat in his backyard watching jets fly overhead.

He hatched a weather balloon scheme while sitting outside in his “extremely comfortable” lawn chair. He purchased 45 weather balloons from an Army-Navy surplus store, tied them to his tethered lawn chair dubbed it Inspiration I, and filled the 4-foot balloons with helium. Then he strapped himself into his lawn chair with some sandwiches, beer and a pellet gun. He figured he would pop a few of the many balloons when it was time to descend.

Larry’s plan was to sever the anchor and lazily float up to a height of about 30 feet above his yard, where he would enjoy a few hours of flight before coming back down. It didn’t work quite that way.

When his friends cut the cord anchoring the lawn chair to his Jeep, he did not float lazily up to 30 feet. Instead, he streaked into the LA sky as if shot from a cannon, pulled by the lift of 42 helium balloons holding 33 cubic feet of helium each. He didn’t level off at 100 feet, nor did he level off at 1,000 feet. After climbing and climbing, he leveled off at 16,000 feet.

At that height he felt he couldn’t risk shooting any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really find himself in trouble. So he stayed there, drifting cold and frightened with his beer and sandwiches, for more than 14 hours. He crossed the primary approach corridor of LAX, where Trans World Airlines and Delta Airlines pilots radioed in reports of the strange sight.

Eventually he gathered the nerve to shoot a few balloons and slowly descended. The hanging tethers tangled and caught in a power line, blacking out a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes. He climbed to safety and was promptly arrested by LAPD.

His efforts won him a $1,500 fine, a prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas, the altitude record for gas-filled clustered balloons, and a Darwin Awards Honorable Mention. Can you imagine what first place must have been?

Please tell me, if your one of my readers, you have never done anything that stupid?

Harvard Graduate Esmeralda Santiago presents her new book

Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say hosts Harvard graduate Esmeralda Santiago as she presents her new book THE TURKISH LOVER, in conjunction with the Latin American Art exhibit Inverted Utopias, Wednesday, September 8, from 6 PM – 8 PM at the Museum of Fine Arts, 5601 Main Street, in the Beck Building. A book signing and reception with complimentary finger foods and beverages will follow this free literary event.

From the author of When I Was Puerto Rican and Almost a Woman comes a long-awaited new memoir: the emotionally and psychologically charged story of an exotic and dangerous love affair.

Esmeralda Santiago lives in Westchester County, New York. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Brooklyn with her ten siblings and unwed mother.

Her life is chronicled in her memoirs, one volume of which – Almost a Woman – was made into a film for PBS’s Masterpiece Theater.

Founded in April of 1998, Nuestra Palabra continues to make Houston a destination for internationally recognized Latino authors, cultivating talent from Houston communities. Sponsored in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, the Houston Chronicle, Univisión, KPFT, Houston Community College TV. Nuestra Palabra is part of the CACHH Incubator program.

“Catwoman” is a hairball on the carpet of cinema history–avoid it all together

Running Time: 104 min.
MPAA rating: PG-13

I have just watched the worst superhero movie ever made. “Catwoman” is so bad, it makes Sly Stallone’s “Judge Dredd” look like “Citizen Kane.”

Halle Berry stars as Patience Philips, a mousy graphic artist for a cosmetics company run by a sleazy foreign dude (Lambert Wilson) and his wife (Sharon Stone). Foreign Guy has dumped his aging wife as spokesmodel for the company in favor of his younger, prettier plaything.

But enough gossip, let’s get to the idiotic plot. The cosmetics company is about to release an anti-aging creme into the market. The creme works, but one of the drawbacks is that if the woman stops using it, her face will corrode. (As if looking younger weren’t enough motivation for a woman to continue to use the product.)

Patience overhears the plot one night and is murdered by Foreign Guy’s thugs and flushed through the sewer, where she washes up on a pile of junk. A spooky Egyptian cat creeps up to her lifeless body and breathes life into her, transforming Patience into Catwoman, a woman with all the powers and abilities of a feline.

Now imbued with these new powers, Catwoman becomes a jewel thief and superhero — cuz I guess you can’t fight crime unless you have the proper bling-bling.

Crammed into all this lunacy is an unconvincing love story between Patience and a cop (Benjamin Bratt). Talk about no chemistry. These two go together like Brussels sprouts and peppermint schnapps.

The dialogue is horrible, the special effects are sub-par, and for a movie that’s only an hour and 45 minutes long, it takes nearly an hour to get Berry into her cat suit — which is the only reason anyone wanted to see this movie in the first place. I mean, who are we kidding here? And the cat suit isn’t really that sexy.

The catfight at the end with Catwoman and Sharon Stone is just horrible. So, all you have here is one hour of boring, plodding nothing; and then some poorly executed action sequences and a flaccid fight at the end.

“Catwoman” is a hairball on the carpet of cinema history. Avoid it.

GRADE: F

(c) 2004 King Features Synd., Inc.