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Posts published in “Day: April 24, 2007

School bonds meet growth need

At last Thursday’s North Houston Greenspoint Chamber luncheon, members and guests heard of the tremendous growth that has occured in the northern sections of the area, and the problems this has caused for school districts that are trying to accommodate all the new students.
As a result of this growth, the Aldine and Spring districts are planning on bond elections May 12th. Aldine will ask voters to approve $365 million in new bond financing, and Spring will ask for $280 million.

Aldine’s superintendent, Nadine Kujawa, presented a slide show that exhibited over 10,000 new homes planned and under construction, with more than 5000 new students, that must be housed in classrooms in the near future. She said that since year 2000, the student population has grown to 59,000, with the addition of 6000 since then and another 5670 planned in the next five years. Many of these are now housed in temporary classrooms that need replaced, she said.
Spring superintendent Dr. Ralph Draper said the situation in his district was even more dire. Although Aldine was facing a growth rate of about 10 percent yearly, Spring ISD has experienced a rate of 31percent in the last six years. This means that in the next 6 years, Spring must find room for another 12,500 students.
The approval of the bonds will have a small effect on the taxes that property owners pay. If you have an over-65 exemption, it will not effect you at all. If you don’t, Aldine residents can expect an increase of about 4 cents in 2007, and a total of 20 cents at the end of 2015. That translates to $2.62 to $15 per month increase for an average homeowner with a $93,500 house.
In Spring, the taxes will decrease, according to the administration. The tax impact from the 2007 bond would be about 2 cents, they said. If the bond program is then approved, the projected tax rate for 2007-2008 would be $1.40, which is a decrease of 31 cents from the current tax rate.
Aldine’s bond program is planning for the next 12 years, Kujawa said. A citizen’s committee studied the needs for 4 months, and made recommendations.
Twelve new Aldine school buildings would include 4 EC/Pre-K centers, 2 elementary schools, 2 intermediate schools, 2 middle schools, 1 ninth grade school, and 1 high school. It would also include improvements and renovations to magnet schools, performing arts facilities, kitchens and other maintenance items.
Also planned would be a new transportation facility, new busses, Air Conditioning for all 600 buses in the fleet, new safety and security systems, ADA compliances needs, and a field house renovation at Aldine High School.
New magnet schools would be built on the east side of I-45, where they do not exist now. The new high school would be in the Greens Road, I-45 area.
The bond program in Spring was studied by a panel of 70 citizens, Draper said. This study group worked for 4 months, and made recommendations for needs.
This includes 6 new elementaries, replacement of Bammel Elementary, additions and renovations to Link Elementar, Ponderosa Elementary. In addition, new safety and security features would be added to a number of schools. Work would begin on a new High School #4, including land acquisition and design work. Westfield would be changed to a new middle school. A new transportation and operations facility would be constructed on Richey Road. 110 new buses would be purchased. Additional improvements would be made in technology infrastructure, improvements to many existing schools, and turf replacement at George stadium.
Draper said that the bond issue will take the district into a next five years, or until 2011.
In Spring, early voting is from April 30 to May 8, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday May 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Election sites are Anderson Leadership Center, Twin Creeks Middle School, and Claughton Middle School.
On election day, May 12, voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at all elementary schools except Clark Primary.

Friends, family mourn Stewart at public service

Close to 1,000 people attended memorial service for slain Nimitz High graduate Tynesha Stewart, whose life was short cut by violence last month.
The service was held in the Nimitz High School Auditorium on April 14.
During the service, Nimitz Principal Ken Kippel remembered Stewart as a student who was highly dedicated to her studies and who had plans for the future.
During the service, memorial poems were recited and Gospel songs sung as friends and family mourned the loss of the 19-year old.

Among those speaking was television news personality Linda Lorelle. Stewart was a 2005 recipient of a Linda Lorelle Scholarship Foundation scholarship. She was an engineering major at Texas A&M University when she died.
Stewart was reported missing by family last month after she returned home for Spring Break. Witnesses say that Stewart was last seen at 4:15 a.m. on March 15 outside of boyfriend Timothy Shepherd’s apartment.
Shepherd initially told police that Stewart left his apartment on foot wearing pajamas and carrying her cell phone. He later confessed to strangling her to death.
Police believe that he then dismembered the body and burned the remains on his grill before dumping the remains in a trash receptacle. During a search of Shepherd’s apartment police found, among other items, 17 pieces of bone fragments and hair.

Virgina Tech tragedy strikes close to home

Tragedy among tragedies!! This is the best way I know to describe what happened this morning in Blacksburg, Va. about 100 miles from my home. When I think of Virginia Tech, a university those of us in this locale are quite familiar, the thought that it would ever be the site of this nation’s historically largest shooting would never occur to me.
A campus of 25,000 plus, Virginia Tech is a fine educational institute and is located idyllically in a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Virginia. It is less than twenty miles from the southern West Virginia border and a couple of hours drive from our home. While it is off the beaten path for our usual travels, we have visited that campus on a few occasions in the past. My first trip there, years ago, was on a recruiting trip for Union Carbide Corp. Blacksburg is a beautiful town.

Blacksburg is like many other towns that I can think of—State College, Pa., College Station, Tex. to name a couple—owes its entire existence to the school it carries in its bosom. Remove the school and the town disappears.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of knowing a number of “Hokie” graduates and have one as my neighbor. I also know some youths in this area who are currently students at Tech. Usually I find myself in friendly discussions of the next WVU-Tech football or basketball game and chiding the loser at the end of the game. We are good friends and sports enemies.
Now is not the time for that kind of banter as this fine school, and one of the best engineering schools in the nation, has taken a bitter hit. As I write this I am listening to the radio news that is reporting 32 or 33 dead and 25 to 29 injured. It truly is a tragedy among tragedies. By the time you read this the dead and injured count may be some different but not enough to make it less of a tragedy.
We are hearing of these events much too often in this country and particularly on our high school and college campuses. It has to stop. I wish I could pick up the phone and call the authorities and say “do this and the violence will stop.” Unfortunately I can’t and it appears others cannot either. How can we put an end to this and not give up our open social and governmental way of life? We have become a highly violent society while retaining our open and trusting system of living. My realist mind tells me we cannot stop this behavior if the shooter is willing to die for his actions. Our best will only keep these events to a minimum. I hope over the years my view is proven wrong.
This will never be forgotten at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia or in many other areas of the country including the southeast portion of West Virginia. It is a sad day here and I yearn for the time when I can go back to chiding or being chided by my Virginia Tech friends over a football or basketball game.
Let is pray for Virginia Tech, the dead and wounded and the families of those impacted by these shootings. May it never happen again!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!
Don Springer can be contacted at

Going home isn’t always easy

Went back home to the hill country for a few days; that is the foot hills of the Appalachia Mountains in Georgia.
What takes twelve hours to drive took an hour and forty minutes from take off to landing. Of course it takes longer to get checked in at both airports. The line at the Atlanta airport was longer than a chow line at a military boot camp.
Had to take off my shoes for screening and had to walk where thousands of others have walked either barefoot or stocking feet. Hope my tootsies don’t rot off.
Somebody made a comment about the handrail on the escalators at the Atlanta Airport and how much bacteria would be on them; I dared not touch it…much. The escalators are as steep as the hill behind my aunt’s house which is steep enough to break your neck.
Got to see some people who have not seen me in fifty years; would not have known them if they came to the front door.

Managed to get two bottles of Muscadine (2005) wine from my aunt’s stash.
Cringed when the gal at the baggage check in line sort of tossed the suit case on the conveyor belt. Each bottle was individually wrapped in a sweat shirt and made it to Goose Creek.
Asked around to a few ole boys who might know if there was any white liquor to be had, all of which is no mas in those hills this day and time…so they say. One said too many liquor stores around now days.
Way back when, one could get white liquor, same as corn liquor and moonshine from six folks. All of whom are now long gone to their happy hunting ground.
Speaking of, did manage to go by the cemetery where the folks are and numerous other friends and relatives. Always a sad venture indeed if you ever done such. Talked to some of them and felt good about it, that’s all that counts ain’t it.
Glad to be back home on flat land and in my own bed.
Four Dog sho was glad to see me.