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Posts published in “Day: July 3, 2007

When bears attack

The first two days of last week were hot and mucky. The kind of days that tell me it is time to stay indoors and watch TV or do housework (perish that thought). Our Old English Sheep Dog, Maggie, and I were curled up in the family room watching the College Baseball World Series. I switched to a news channel to catch up on national and world happenings.
There I saw a story about an eleven-year-old sleeping boy who had been dragged from a camping tent by a bear and killed. He had been sleeping in the tent with his brother and parents. The event occurred in the mountains of one of our western states. Certainly our hearts go out to the boy and his family after such a tragedy. Bears and humans don’t mix well and we are hearing more and more of these encounters.
At this morning’s breakfast Linda and I were talking about the growth of the bear population across the country. This attack has caused a number of TV, radio and newspaper articles about this growth in bear population and increasing encounters with humans. According to one article, every state in the union now has a bear population. It is only a matter of how many and what kind. Most, I imagine, are black bears that seem to be in abundance across our country.

One evening about dusk several years ago we were resting in our family room. It has two outside corners that adjoin our deck. Suddenly we felt it vibrate and heard a rubbing noise. I went to the outside door to find out what it was just as a black bear ran from our deck down the hill and into the river. He must have been scratching him/herself on the corner of our house. We were rather amused by the event. It was the first, and last time, we have seen a bear around our house.
Just a few years ago we were returning from a vacation down south and came through the two tunnels on I-77 between Virginia and West Virginia. Just as we came out of the East River Tunnel we saw a black bear running along the pavement, I guess looking for a way out. His problem was to the delight of the motorists heading in both directions on the interstate as traffic slowed significantly to watch the bear. We remarked at the time that the state tourist officials were overdoing it if this was a planned event.
We have been to our state parks on a number of occasions and have seen a bear or two on several trips. Most often it has been around the park lodge where they search for food.
We are infringing on the habitat of bear and other wildlife more and more and we are going to hear more and more about bear or other wildlife attacks. In the case of the recent bear attack out West the bear was killed, cut open and some parts of the boy’s body found inside. Yet black bears are not usually known for attacking humans.
While I hate these attacks I find it hard to always blame the animals. Their habitat is getting smaller and smaller as we push further and further in their direction. I guess the only answer, if we are going to travel on their land, is vigilance and common sense. I’m not certain we humans consider either one at times.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!

Four killed in head-on collision on Hwy 59N

Four people were killed June 24, when a driver on Hwy 59N, made a U-turn into oncoming traffic and hit another vehicle head-on.
Houston Police say Eddie Golden was traveling in a white Buick north on Hwy 59 near Beltway 8 when he struck another vehicle traveling in the same direction.
For some unknown reason, Golden did not stop but made a U-turn on the highway near Greens Road. Traveling the wrong way in the northbound lanes of the freeway he hit a Ford Taurus driven by Tanika Gale Smith head-on. Also killed in the crash were Falicia Charles and Smith’s son, 3-year old Mickey Stewart. Injured were Lyric Stewart, 6 and Bearian Smith, 4.
Police said the women were in the front seat of the Taurus and the children were in the back seat when the two vehicles collided. Smith was wearing a seat belt. It’s unclear if others in her car wore seat belts.
After hitting the Taurus, Golden’s Buick struck a red Pontiac, police say. The driver of that vehicle, Ruby Luna, suffered only minor bumps and bruises.
A quick-thinking driver alerted police to the situation as it was occurring. Police say that a witness saw the initial accident and called it into police on a cell phone, then followed Golden as he turned into the oncoming traffic.
Golden and the two women were killed on impact, police said. The boy died the following day at Memorial Hermann Hospital. The condition of the young girl is being withheld.

Chamber’s “Branding your Business” features publisher

By Gilbert Hoffman
Northeast News
“Your Brand is your Identity” said Jack Sweeney, publisher of the Houston Chronicle, to a group of business persons at the luncheon of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce. “It is your company’s identity, and its most valuable asset.
The event was held in the dining room of the Sam Houston Race Park, last Thursday June 14. Sweeney was the featured speaker, on the subject of Branding your Business. He asked, “Is your company ready to grow?” and then made a full force presentation on how media has changed, and newspapers are now the new marketing medium, with multiple products that can help your company in numerous and varied media. To underscore this, the Chronicle is pushing a new slogan, “Are you Ready for Today?” he said.
Sweeney has been with the Chronicle 27 years, and call the paper “your marketing partner.”
In spite of many new technologies for getting your news, Sweeney emphasized that newspapers are the only organizations with hundreds of staff covering the local news, day in and day out. No one else, he said, covers all the local events, meetings, school events, sports, clubs, churches, and more. Sweeney pointed out that the Chronicle publishes 17 neighborhood editions, as well as the daily city paper.
He said it is important for good citizens to be readers, and to be informed on issues and to participate in their governments.

However, one of the biggest reasons people read newspapers is for their advertising information.
About 100 persons attended the luncheon, and Sweeney answered questions after his talk. He mentioned that the letters and op-ed sections give both sides to opinions and news stories. He spoke about the Chronicle’s participation in schools, providing up to 40,000 papers to classrooms every day, and a curriculum guide to help students understand the news.
The luncheon was hosted by the Sam Houston Race Park, with NHG Chamber president Reggie Gray and Chairman Bill Ginder acting as emcees.
Also included in the events was a mini-Expo, with local businesses having information booths.

Residents hold meetings to protest water rate increases

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– Two neighborhood meetings have taken place in June, with local residents organizing to protest the change in their water company, and the subsequent notice that their water and sewer fees would rise two to three times the present rate.
A meeting was held last Wednesday night, at Pep Mueller Community Center on Henry Road, with about 150 persons attending. Due to the limitations in the room size, three meetings were held to accommodate all the persons that wanted information and to sign up.
The previous meeting was on Tuesday, June 26, held at the Sheriff’s storefront office on Aldine Mail Route. About 50 persons attended that meeting. The meetings are to prepare for an upcoming hearing before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on the proposed rate increase. This is necessary, after Southwest Utilities was sold to an international firm known as Texas American Water, and they filed a request with the state TCEQ for a large increase in fees.
Led by State Representative Kevin Bailey and local activist Irene Garcia, of the Greenwood Village civic club, local residents organized as the Aldine Ratepayers Association, and requested a contested rate hearing from TCEQ.
This was necessitated when Texas American Water, owned by one of the world’s largest energy corporations, filed a rate increase that would amount to a 33% increase in water and a 60% increase in sewer rates, according to Bailey.

The Ratepayers association has requested assistance from the East Aldine Management District, to pay for an attorney, Jim Boyle of Austin, to represent them at the hearing, and to review documentation on the rate request.
Local neighborhoods that are served by the TAW company include Greenwood Village, Mary Francis, Colonial Hills, Aldine Meadows, Bergville, Bertrand, Kenwood, and Stretner.

Airline District makes major strides with Water Study, Streetlighting

Resident in the Airline Improvement District area held a meeting last Thursday night, to hear about progress in their community. The presentation was made by AID executive director Teri Koerth, AID president John Martin, and Harris County Planner Melissa Hamous.
They answered questions about the new Water and Sewer study to be funded by TWDB, and the resulting opportunity to discontinue the use of antiquated septic systems, in favor of a new central sewage system in the future. A new water system will also provide better fire protection and probable lower insurance rates. Residents were asked to cooperate with the engineers, McDonough Engineering, to finalize the report which will be available in about 6 to 9 months.
The officials also were able to report that about 120 new streetlights were being installed on Airline Drive and Aldine Mail Route as part of the AID safety improvements. A future mobility study will be part of this work. The next meeting of the Airline district will be on July 26 at Holy Trinity Church, Northline Drive. Additional information is available on the website,
The Airline Improvement District (AID) is receiving a grant from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for a Water and Wastewater Planning Study to determine the economic feasibility of alternatives to replace failing septic systems and provide a potable water supply to the District’s residents and business. The state grant is for $125,000.

“Our concern is that some neighborhoods are facing a public health crisis,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “In many cases these neighborhoods have very shallow water wells, septic systems that leak and raw sewerage flowing into streets and ditches. When these neighborhoods were developed back in the fifties and sixties, this was more of a rural area. Today the community is surrounded by the City of Houston and all of the development has had a negative impact on the quality of ground water but our residents currently lack alternatives.”
Rep. Bailey explained that the grant will pay for an analysis to determine the most feasible alternatives to meet regional water supply and wastewater facility needs, the costs associated with implementing those alternatives, and identify the institutional arrangements to provide regional water supply and wastewater services, and potential sources of governmental funding. Political subdivisions must meet special requirements and apply for the competitive grants.
“The Airline Improvement District in conjunction with it’s partners is doing the study to obtain a clear picture of the state of water and sanitary sewer in the district,” said Teri Koerth, Executive Director of the District.
The grant requires a 50% local match that is being contributed by several local groups that are providing needed services free of charge to area residents or making monetary contributions.
A local law firm, which prefers to remain anonymous, will be providing $55,000 in services, free of charge to the district, in doing the legal research and preparation of documents as necessary to complete this project.
Harris County Public Infrastructure Department is providing support too, for AID’s grant from TWDB by contributing $45,000 in engineering design and other support. The work will be performed by the engineering firm of McDonough Engineering Corp.
Airline Improvement District will be contributing approximately $25,000 to the project.
After a meeting arranged by Rep. Bailey in the spring of 2002, the East Aldine Management District received a similar Planning Grant from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and their planning study was completed in 2004.