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Posts published in “Day: March 25, 2008

State begins program to replace old polluting cars

HARRIS COUNTY– The State of Texas has introduced a new program to replace older vehicles. The program LIRAP will reduce the number of vehicles contributing to air pollution in counties that are not meeting the Federal clean air standards.
“The main goal of the program will be to provide financial incentives torepair or replace older, polluting automobiles with newer automobilesthat have a lower level of emissions,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “The Legislature appropriated funding in the last legislative session to help accelerate the replacement of the older, dirtier vehicles that are major contributors to air pollution. New light duty vehicles operate over 98% cleaner than the average car or truck built prior to 1991. The older vehicles that are failing to meet emission standards need to be replaced.”
According to the state, the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria areas of the State of Texas do not currently meet air quality standards for ozone, and the largest contributor to the formation of ozone in these two regions are mobile resources, such as personal automobiles and diesel engines found in construction equipment.
Because federal law precludes state regulation of emissions from these sources, the State of Texas has developed the Low-Income Vehicle Repair Assistance, Retrofit, and Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (LIRAP), aimed at reducing these emissions. Another state program will be designed to affect diesel engines, while LIRAP is intended to lessen emissions from personal automobiles. Currently, Texas does not meet federal air quality standards effective in 2010.
“Guidelines for the new program will be released after the first of the year,” said . Bailey. “Eligibility will be limited to older vehicles registered in counties that are currently having trouble complying with the federal air quality standards. The vehicle must have been registered in the county for at least the past 12 months.”
If you would like additional information on the program, contact the office of State Representative Kevin Bailey at 281-847-9000.
–Article by Arlene Nichols

North Forest group asks Governor Perry to replace school board

By Gilbert Hoffman
NORTH FOREST– A group of about 40 persons from the North Forest area travelled to Austin last Thursday, to publicly protest educational conditions in the North Forest school district, and to meet with Governor Perry’s staff to present a petition to replace the board.
Later in the day, the governor issued a statement indicating “he was confident in TEA’s efforts to ensure that every student deserves the opportunity to learn and succeed, as is the case in North Forest. However at a point in time, the commissioner of education has the authority, and I think the responsibility, to step in if there has been a failure to educate the children in an appropriate manner.”
NEEF indicated to the Northeast News, in an interview after the meeting, that the group will meet again and plans to continue in their efforts.
After contentious school board meetings over the last few months, and warnings to the district by the Texas Education Agency that their accreditation is pending and perhaps at risk, citizens in North Forest have issued a press release directed toward Governor Rick Perry.
The intention is to get the TEA to act to replace the present school board and bring the problems to a quicker resolution than is presently occuring.
The Text of the Press Release, with some editing, is as follows:

What: Protect and Save Our Children not the North Forest School Board.
The Community calls for Governor Perry and TEA to establish a Board of Managers for North Forest ISD.
Evidence of the need for a board of managers in North Forest ISD:
• $5+ million budget deficit, $7.3 million owed to TEA, & a $17 million projected deficit for the end of this fiscal year
• Failure of North Forest ISD Board of Trustees to identify a competent superintendent for the school district. The district has operated for a year without a superintendent. The Board of Trustees has failed to attract a superintendent with a track record for success. Instead, the board spent $9,200 on a national search only to attempt to rehire the superintendent fired by the board a year ago. During the former superintendent’s tenure 8 out of 11 schools were academically unacceptable, ADA was grossly overstated for 2 consecutive years, & several false or erroneous multi-million dollar accounting entries were made contributing to the district’s financial decline.
• Failure of North Forest ISD Board of Trustees to protect the needs of students in Special Education resulting in TEA’s assignment of an academic conservator.
• Failure of North Forest ISD Board of Trustees to make appropriate financial decisions after a year of support from TEA’s financial conservator.
The Community’s approach to solving the problem:
The community recognizes that they must become a partner with the educational authorities to ensure that the education of the children in North Forest becomes a priority. Given the failure of local authorities, the community seeks the aid of state authorities to ensure student education. Specifically, the community requests a board of managers as permitted under Subchapter G. Accreditation Sanctions 39.131. Sanctions for Districts subsection b.
(b) This subsection applies regardless of whether a district has satisfied the accreditation criteria. If for a period of one year or more a district has had a conservator or management team assigned, the commissioner may appoint a board of managers, a majority of whom must be residents of the district, to exercise the powers and duties of the board of trustees.
We deserve better…..
Northeast Education First is a community-based movement to ensure that northeast Houston school districts, and in particular North Forest ISD, provide a high quality education for children. The initiative recognizes that the NF children are trapped in schools that do not educate and that the community must play a role in resolving this crisis.
It is focused on the community creating expectations of student performance, the community understanding how the students currently compare to high performing students in the state, the community understanding the reform options that can deliver the quality education, and the educational authorities building confidence in the community that proposed reform solutions will work.
The Initiative is made up of the following community groups:
The Initiative includes: Northeast Beyond 2000/GHDI; Super Neighborhood 47 – E. Little York/Homestead; Super Neighborhood 48 – Trinity/Houston Gardens; Super Neighborhood 49/50 – E. Houston/Settegast.
Partners of the Initiative embrace this new approach to involve the community in finding a solution including:
State Rep. Harold Dutton, Council Member Jarvis Johnson, former Trustees Albert Coleman, Fran Gentry, Maxine Seals, and Mae Sikes.
Northeast Education First – is a group of concerned community leaders, business leaders, ministers, parents, residents, and students who are committed to ensuring that the children of North Forest AND Northeast Houston receive the education that they need and so DESERVE.

Harris Academy librarian named SHSU Distinguished Educator

ALDINE— Harris Academy Librarian Dixie Allen has been named the Sam Houston State University’s Distinguished Educator of the Year for her role as a support professional in a school setting.
Allen was recognized for her outstanding contributions not only at Harris Academy but also in the Aldine school district and Texas Library Association.
“Dixie serves as a magnificent librarian at Harris Academy and has an innate love for children and literature,” said Dr. Margaret Byrd, Area Superintendent for the Carver Vertical in Aldine. “She possesses a kind, maternal nature and gracefully entwines the use of books and literature to enrich our young children’s minds.”
The awards banquet offered a grand opportunity to recognize Dixie along with the four other recipients who were recognized for their work as classroom teachers, administrators, and community support.
The entire Library Science Department was there to cheer Allen on along with her family, her Principal Kathy Bacy, retired Principal Connie Leday and her husband Frederick.
In addition, Aldine Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg and a healthy contingent from Central Office came in recognition of Dr. Jamie Bryson, Director of Financial Services, who received the Administrator Award the same evening.

East Aldine District hears reports

NORTHEAST HOUSTON– At their regular public monthly meeting, held last Tuesday March 18 at 7 p.m., directors of the East Aldine Management District hear reports on the following business:
Water Rate Increase
Resident of Castlewood subdivision Steven Adame told the board that 325 homes in his area were expecting a 50% increase in their water bills from Suburban Utilities. He said that the utility had not made state mandated improvements to the system, and that a hearing on the increase was scheduled for April 4th in Austin.
Identity Signage
Executive Director David Hawes said that the district had been working with TxDot, and expected two signs identifying the District to be erected soon on the Hardy Toll Road, telling the public that they could exit into the District. This is only the first of a total Identity package that is planned to be implemented this year.
Public Safety grant
For several years the EAMD has teamed with the Airline and Greenspoint districts in a program to stop auto thefts. This program includes additional police that conduct surveilllance and decoy autos in high crime areas, and has been very effective in arrests of this type of crime. In 2007 this unit ran 1218 investigations, and recovered $1,665,357 in the Aldine district alone.
Water and Sewer

Progress is being made on implementing new utilities in several areas, Hawes reported. EAMD recently met with the state TCEQ agency to further work on grants that will bring new water and sewer lines into the area. Bonds will be issued in the next few months, so that work can start on the North Houston Heights project.
At a special meeting that was held on March 4th, the board approved the funding arrangement with Harris County, to proceed on water and sewer in North Houston Heights. The commitment from the EAMD will amount to $2,800,000. It is anticipated that the new system will be operated by Sunbelt Fresh Water Supply District for the East Aldine District.
In addition, a resolution was passed by the board, authorizing the sale of up to $20,000,000 in bonds, to fund additional improvement projects to be determined later.
Director of Services
It was reported that Mike Ledbetter, current Director of Services for the district, and the person that most citizens interface with in the district’s offices at 5202 Aldine Mail Route, has resigned and will leave the district in the next 90 days. The district will seek a qualified replacement as soon as possible, Hawes reported. The candidate must have economic skills, an outgoing and aggressive personality, and a knowledge of the area, he said.
Budget surplus
The financial report for the month of February continued the trend toward sales tax collection exceeding expectations and budgets. For February, the collections were approximately $252,000, in sales tax revenue, and $12,000 in interest, which was put in the general fund.
Public Nuisances
Board member Reyes Garcia questioned Hawes on what action has been taken on several areas on concern to local residents. On the ordinance to regulate Taco stands, Hawes reported that no enforcement action has been taken, because the County must formulate rules and this has not yet been done. Reyes also said that a noise ordinance was needed, and enforcement, but Hawes noted that this is a matter for the legislature and no action on this item has been taken over several sessions. Additionally, he said that some of the problem comes from after hours bars, but that it is extremely difficult to policethis situation.
Grants Committee
At the last meeting, grants were approved for the following: Aldine YOUTH Business Works! program $40,100; YMCA Aldine-Greenspoint, for the Growing Strong Kids after school program, $55,000; Hinojosa Public Fountain project, $3,000; Boy Scouts, camp scholarships and personnel expenses, $7,500; and Aldine Scholarship Foundation, $15,000 for annual endowment of this college scholarship program.

Old habits are hard to break

Old habits are hard to break but my ordering water with lemon days are over after reading an article backed up by
A study by a New Jersey microbiologist found nasty bacteria in two-thirds of the lemons tested in over 20 places to eat.
Long story short, high levels of fectal bacteria were detected on the lemon wedges being sliced. Who ever heard of a restaurant washing a lemon before slicing?
Besides, some restaurants slice lemons on cutting blocks meat or poultry was cut on or they used the same knife. Health laws require waiters and waitresses to use gloves or tongs. It is common practice and a lot faster to simply pop the lemon wedge into your drink with bare hands.
I started ordering lemon with water after tasting the water from a restaurant in my hometown in Georgia. One would have thought I ordered a glass or water with a shot of Clorox.
Think about it next time you order a slice of lemon with fecal bacteria in your drink.

Must have a straw too.
This article is writ without using the Mrs. moral conscious because she is above the Mason Dixon Line visiting the newest grandson (Jakob Lee) in the Keystone State. That is Pennsylvania in case you did not get it.
Anyway, she proofs each and every article, some of which she deletes entire paragraphs with red ink telling me I cannot say this and that. Plus a lot of the red is corrections to my spelling.
Since she has been gone, I have been bad. Bought potato chips, ice cream and been in the red too. Life is good
Conversations prove interesting in a circle of friends telling their tales.
One banker said he had to foreclose on a house that was fresh built. After all the legal mumbo jumbo stuff he had to go through to get the house back, the house was finally sold to an individual without taking too big of a hickey on the deal.
Low and behold and the opening of a can of worms.
Seems as though the plumbing would not work, come to find out the line was filled with concrete by the repossesse.
From inside the house, the line was replaced and in addition to the problem, the line went under the concrete driveway.
Stories and tales like that are interesting and cautions should be taken.
Heard one about a home loan to an individual that had a substantial down payment, which would be used first to build the house, and after the funds were exhausted, the lender would step in and start lending on the project.
The borrower came to the lender and requested an advance or a draw on the loan.
The lender ordered a slab survey to make sure the slab was where it was suppose to be.
Good lord, the slab was poured on the lot next door and the house was over 75% complete.
Attempts to buy the lot with the slab and almost completed house were unsuccessful.