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Posts published in “Day: December 25, 2007

Living the life of Riley

By Kristan Hoffman

What looks like a panda, barks like a Beagle, and won’t walk in the rain?


Riley is my new puppy. I’ve had him for about three weeks, but let me tell you, it feels more like three years. My boyfriend and I adopted him from a great local shelter, and we have been busy adjusting our lives ever since.

At nine weeks, Riley focuses on eating, drinking, playing, and sleeping — in that order. We, on the other hand, focus on teaching him his name and getting him to potty in the yard instead of the house. The first week was rough, but I think he’s getting the hang of things now. Patience and consistency are the keys.

As much as I’m trying to teach him, I have to admit, I’m learning ten times more. I read books and websites about the stages of puppyhood and various training techniques. I poll other dog-owners to find out what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and what I could be doing better. I get the scoop on vets and kennels, on dog food and toys. I live, breathe, and yes, sometimes even dream about Riley. Because he’s my responsibility, and my pleasure.

It’s not really about the dog information, though. What I’m actually learning is how to be a better person. By putting him first and taking all these steps to ensure his proper growth, I am growing too. I am maturing into a (more) responsible, mindful, and unselfish caretaker.

As an added bonus, my relationship is thriving. Before Andy and I got Riley, my cousin told me that adopting a dog was the best thing she and her husband had ever done. At the time I sort of chuckled and said “Sure” in a dubious tone, but now I understand. Since Riley came into our lives, Andy and I have been doing better than ever. We’re learning to work as a team toward a common goal, to depend on each other and do our fair share, and to appreciate each other to the fullest degree.

All of this basically translates to one simple thing: Riley rocks. Sure, he eats up all my time, and patience, and shoes… but he is so worth it! When I hold up a treat and say, “Riley, sit,” and he stares at me with those big brown eyes, I melt. I know he doesn’t get it, but that’s okay. I don’t get him either.

In time, though, we will understand each other, and that will be the real treat for both of us.

METRO, HCC Northeast preview Public Safety Institute program

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– METRO and Houston Community College Northeast have combined resources, to offer a program to train police, fire and emergency personnel.
HCC/Northeast held a presentation and demonstration event for the press, on December 11th to show the PSI (Public Safety Institue) facilities, and to receive a check for $500,000 from METRO to the HCCS Foundation, to fund the institute’s programs for Metro officers. This money is to be used for more PSI programs, long-term training, and scholarships.
At the event, media personnel experienced the heat, smoke and confusion that firefighters face when they enter a blazing highrise, in PSI’s training tower. They also had the opportunity to ride along with police officers as they cashe suspects, on the high speed emergency vehicle operations track. And finally, they tested their shooting skills on PSI’s 15 lane firearms training range.
All of these facilities are at Houston Community College’s Northeast Facility, near the intersection of I-10 and I-610.

This event showcased PSI’s role in training emergency professionals from throughout the Houston region, and its selection as a training partner for METRO’s police officers and other employees. METRO’s tactical equipment vehicles were on hand for tours and demonstrations, including a bomb truck, a command bus, motorcycles, canine units and a Special Operations Response Team.
HCC and METRO signed an agreement in November in which the transit agency pledged $500,000 for future development of PSI facilities and training programs.
Since the Institute opened in July, thousands of professionals and students have enrolled in the 100-plus courses taught through the PSI, which offers associate degrees, certificates and continuing education certifications.

Mead named Aldine ISD board president

The Aldine ISD Board of Education reorganized during its Dec. 18 meeting. The board’s nominating committee, chaired by Trustee Rose Avalos, named Steve Mead as school board president, Dr. Viola M. Garcia as vice-president, Dr. Alton Smith as secretary and Avalos as assistant secretary.
Marine Jones, who served as board president during the 2006-07 school year and for part of the 2007-08 school year, handed over the gavel to Mead during the meeting. Trustees Rick Ogden, Merlin Griggs, and Jones will serve as members.

Mead then assigned his fellow trustees to the board’s standing committees. The policy revision committee will be chaired by Marine Jones and will consist of Merlin Griggs and Rose Avalos.
The site committee will be chaired by Rose Avalos and will consist of Rick Ogden and Dr. Alton Smith. The school names committee will be chaired by Dr. Alton Smith and will consist of Dr. Viola M. Garcia and Rick Ogden.
The nominating committee will be chaired by Merlin Griggs and will consist of Rick Ogden and Marine Jones. The selection of new board members committee will be chaired by Dr. Viola M. Garcia and will consist by Rick Ogden and Merlin Griggs.
After Mrs. Jones passed the gavel, board members Dr. Viola M. Garcia and Rick Ogden thanked her for her service to the board while serving as president. Dr. Garcia also presented Mrs. Jones with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in recognition of her service to the board and the school district.
Prior to the reorganization of the board, Dr. Garcia, Mr. Griggs, Dr. Smith and Mrs. Jones were sworn in by General Counsel Jonathan Hantke to serve their four-year terms. The four were re-elected to their respective positions in November.

Christmas is about families

The Christmas season seems to hit me with a vengeance in my more advanced years. The season starts too early and then, all of a sudden, it is over. I’m never ready for the season to begin and I am never ready for it to end.
About the only time I do any shopping is during this season and am not much in favor of the tasks at hand then. If someone would ever tell me I would never been about to shop again I don’t think I would mind at all. It just isn’t my style. Am not too long away for having to shop for a car again and that is always at the bottom of my list. I look at a few cars and am ready to give it all up. Thank goodness my better half is more patient.
Earlier this month Crosby had its Christmas Festival, Highlands had its Festival and Tree Lighting and the Star-Courier is coming upon the issue that includes all of the wee one’s “Letters to Santa.” I look forward to that event and it will probably be the same edition that these words are published.

The kids lead the way at Christmas time and that is good. However, it is a time for all of us—for family enjoyment, for gift exchanges, for giving to others who have that need and for giving thanks to the Lord for all the blessings of the past year. The Springer’s have had many.
I had the old Santa Claus thing all figured out when I was amongst the younger set. The Pittsburgh—Wheeling area had a department store chain named Stone & Thomas. The main store in downtown Wheeling had about ten floors and the sixth floor always turned into a complete toy land.
I lived for my visits to that toy land and the huge model train displays. The visits were all too short and ended with a visit to the store Santa. As long as I can remember I always knew THAT was the real Santa. Those at other stores were only his “helpers.” You couldn’t fool me!
Have one more major task before it is time to leave these parts and head for Texas. Will be in the pulpit of my home church on December 30 (my fifth trip there this year) as our minister will be on vacation that last 2007 Sunday. Two days later we will crawl into our aging Cad and head for your parts pardoner. By the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Jan. 6) we should be nestled along Sea Palms Drive, Newport.
It will be good to see Crosby, the daily visits with Sea Palms neighbors, walking Maggie along Sea Palms and Challenger, attending service again with Texas friends at the Crosby Methodist Church and seeing relatively new friends elsewhere in Crosby, Huffman, Dayton, Etc.
You live in a fine community area and we always enjoy our visits.
Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!!
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my West Virginia home!