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Posts published in November 2008

New face at East Aldine

After 4 years of service to the District, Mike Ledbetter retired at the end of October as the Director of Services. In this position, in the District offices at the Sheriff’s Storefront on Aldine Mail Route, he was the contact for all citizens who had business with the District.

He is being replaced this month by Richard Cantu, hired by the EAMD after an exhaustive search of a field of 30 candidates.

Cantu is quite familiar with East Aldine, and lives in the Melrose Park area near Hardy Toll Road, and serves as the Hawthorne Place Civic Club president.

Previous to his work with East Aldine, Cantu was with the Neighborhood Centers Inc., as manager of their youth department and the Harbach Ripley community Center. This organization was involved in meals for seniors, Head Start education program, and a charter school.

Before that he spent eight years with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, and six years with the Citizens Assistance Office.

Cantu is a graduate of Jeff Davis High School, where he was class president, probably the start of his public service career. He went on to HCC for an associate degree in Government, and to the University of Houston for Political Science.

He has served as a Precinct Chair in Pct. 105 for 16 years, and has even run for office, City Council, in 2003.

Cantu has been married for 20 years, and he and his wife have 3 daughters. His wife is a graduate of Sam Houston HS. Cantu coaches basketball, and has been active also in the TMO, or Metropolitan Organization, and the Holy Name Catholic Church. He helped develop the Community Center and Park known as Clark Park, off W. Tidwell.

While in college, he was honored with a national Truman Scholarship, in 1992, a scholarship for those interested in Public Service, of which only two per state are awarded annually.

Cantu will be available daily in his office at 5202 Aldine Mail Route for those who want to contact the East Aldine Management District. His phone is 281-449-1800. He welcomes your visit.

Bailey Banquet leaves scholarships as legacy

Over two hundred guests enjoyed an evening of fun and socializing as they honored State Representative Kevin Bailey for 18 years of service in the Texas State Legislature, representing Dictrict 140.

Bailey is widely credited with passing the legislation that formed the Greater Greenspoint Management District, the East Aldine Management District, and the Airline Improvement District. These measures, along with other legislation he has been responsible for during his tenure, were praised by 5 speakers who participated in the “Roast and Toast” format of the evening event.

These speakers included Dale Gorczynski, Harris County Justice of the Peace; Reggie Gray, president of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce; Robert Eckels, former Harris County Judge; Chris Jones, representing CLEAT law enforcement agency; and Sylvester Turner, State Representative and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Texas House.

Each of these speakers had been an important part of Bailey’s experience and involvement in legislation as he served both in the legislature, and previously in city government.

The banquet was originally scheduled for September 16 but was rescheduled due to Ike.

The evening was a spirited and fun combination of praise, reminisces, and jokes about working with Kevin Bailey and his personal idiosynchrysies. These included an addition to TAB sodas, black clothing, and Cuban style cigars that he never seemed to light up.

The emcee for this lively evening was Jack Drake, a long time friend and advocate, who is president of Greenspoint District. His organization was the focal point for an Ad Hoc committee that put together the event. These included Reggie Gray, Gilbert Hoffman, Jocklynn Keville, Teri Koerth, Phyllis Oustifine, Adrian Sauceda, and Joyce Wiley, as well as Drake.

An important function of the dinner was fund raising for two endowed scholarships in Kevin’s name, one to Lone Star College, and the other to Houston Community College. These two institutions serve the students within his district.

Fundraising was quite successful, with a total of over $28,000 cleared for the scholarships.

Major sponsors included Crowne Plaza Hotel, developer Dwayne Henson and Steve Ford, East Aldine Management District, Plumbers Local Union No. 68, IBEW Local Union 716, Greenspoint District, Airline Improvement District, Hawes Hill Calderon LLP, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP, Joe Allen/Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP, North Houston Bank, Lone Star College-North Harris, IBEW Local Union 66, Houston Community College, Case Contractors, Aldine ISD, Glen Nitsch/Nitsch & Son Utility Co. Inc., State Rep. Sylvester Turner, Houston Apartment Association, GFI Management Services Inc., North Houston Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce, and Swank Audio Visuals.

In his introductory remarks, Emcee Drake highlighted the life of service that Bailey has devoted himself to, serving his community. Said Drake, “Kevin is known for bringing basic water and sewer services to residents and enhancing public law enforcement,” said Drake. “By helping to establish Management Districts, Kevin has enabled the business community to fund improvements and services that have brought value to the entire community.”

After that, each Roaster speaker poked fun at Bailey, based on their experiences and knowledge. Said Gorczynski, “He may have lost an election, but he’s not dead yet”.

Gray tried to imitate his mannerisms, but admited there was no way, “he’s the real thing. The Man”.

Eckels praised his bipartisanship, and his ability to get things done, and then awarded him a collection of worthless prizes he had collected.

Jones noted his predeliction for Cuban-style cigars, and teased him with the fact that they were to expensive to actually present them to him.

Turner remembered 18 years of working beside Kevin in the State House, and termed him 1 of the 10 best legislators, a man hard to “roast”. He praised him for his passion on important issues such as CHIPS, and getting the Houston Crime Lab and all Texas Labs certified.

Turner reminded him “A Public Servant Never Retires”, a comment that Bailey himself emphasized to the Northeast News. “I’m not retiring, he said.” He noted that he would go back to Austin and lobby for his important issues in the future.

The evening closed with Kevin’s own thoughts on his time in office, and a slide show of memorable presentations.

Utility construction underway in North Houston Heights

EAST ALDINE Management District iscontinuing their work on water and sewer lines, as construction has started on the North Houston Heights project. Photos show work on Collins Street, that began in October and is progressing.

The project is scheduled to take about 12 months, and includes new water lines, sewer lines, and a lift station. The contract was awarded to Calco, Inc. one of 6 bidders, for about $3.7 million dollars, and is being monitored by WaterEngineers, Inc. for Harris County and the Management District. A meeting with community residents was held on October 30th, to inform them how they can connect with the new systems.

Any additional questions can be directed to the Director of Services, Richard Cantu, and the EAMD offices, 281-449-1800. The project is near East Mt. Houston and the Orange Grove Elementary School.

Touring Pennsylvania

Me and the Mrs. went to visit one of the twins in Pennsylvania over a four-day weekend last weekend. That satisfied our thirty-ninth anniversary gift to each other by getting to see grandkids seldom seen.

A fer piece Pennsylvania is, less than three hours by air, two days by car and almost two months by mule and wagon. If I get up there once a year I consider myself lucky. Besides, ain’t nothing up there but Yankees.

We were about thirty something miles from Gettysburg, PA but still have not made the site tour of the old battleground. Want to find me a musket ball and have been told you can walk the fields out there and might find one.

The boy did take me just up the road to see Three Mile Island if you recall that nuclear plant disaster back in 1979? Do not think I would want to live near one of them things. That nuclear plant could get hot enough to melt all those lead musket balls over in Gettysburg but luckily, those plants are mostly safe.

Managed to get to one of the markets in York where some of the Amish come to sell their wares, veggies and food products; bought a jar of their pickled beets… good stuff.

Back to Texas and the ole grindstone, at least it was a four-day work week and the best kind. The Mrs. seems to be in a better mood for the time being. Give it another week, things will be back to normal.

Took a tour of the garden of weedin this morning, fertilized the tomatoes, pinched off half dozen suckers, slapped dozens of mosquitoes and gave it all a good drink of water.

When I dug the potatoes before we went to Montana, must have left a few in the ground because there are potato tops over a foot tall in the garden and a few onions.

We get enough tomatoes, there will be a final 08 makings of chowchow for the year, and might make this a hot batch.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, do not eat too much.

Charlie A. Farrar is author of many columns of homespun Georgia thoughts, that have appeared in local newspapers. He has published a book with some of the best, “Two Cents Worth.” To purchase a copy, send $12.95 to NEWSpaper, PO Box 405, Highlands, TX 77562.

Make your voice heard

By Kristan Hoffman

Regardless of who you voted for, this election should have made one thing clear: it is extremely important to voice your opinion.

What’s important to you? Taxes, the environment, health care? Who do you think is going to make the best decisions about those policies? Voting is not about popularity, but about selecting a representative to lead our community in the right direction. Your vote lets the world know where you stand on the issues.

But there are additional options. Yes, voting is extremely powerful and important, but it is not the only way to make your voice heard. Local politicians—such as city council members, state senators, and congresspersons—they all read the newspapers that serve their districts in order to keep a finger on the pulse of the communities they represent. They are reading the same news stories as you, the same cartoons, the same movie reviews. These very words! How do I know? Because I have had the honor of meeting many of them through my dad’s work with this newspaper.

So if you want to let your local representatives know what you think—about a new tax increase, or a potential improvement for the school district, or potholes in the roads—write a letter to the editor. Your words could be published here for everyone to read and consider. Who knows, you might spur new legislation! At the very least, you will probably find people who agree with you and want to band together for a change. Your reasoning could help educate someone about the issue, or convince someone on the fence. You might find yourself engaging in friendly debate the next time you’re in line at the grocery store.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a “chatterbox,” as my dad affectionately nicknamed me at age three, but I know I am always looking for more ways to make my voice heard. I was proud to cast my first vote four years ago, and whether or not elections go my way, I will always participate in the democratic system. But I have come to recognize that I can make a greater impact on a smaller scale. We all can. So think about what matters to you today, and tell someone. Your best friend, your teacher, your coworkers, your cat. Write down your reasons, write down what someone on the opposite side might say, and then figure out how you would reply. Sleep on it. And if you still think it sounds pretty good in the morning, send it our way.

We look forward to hearing more of your voices in the future.

ESD#1 serves large area of Northeast Houston

The recent Fall Festival at Aldine Sheriff’s Storefront included a display of equipment and services from the Emergency Services District #1, which serves a large area of Northeast Houston and the Aldine/Airline/Greenspoint areas. This covers an area of about 78 square miles and almost 400,000 people.

The display included a yellow medical evacuation helicopter, and several of their new ambulance and transport vehicles. The helicopter proved to be a popular exhibit with families that attended the Festival. ESD#1 also handed out CPR kits and First Aid kits, as well as answering questions about their services.

ESD#1 started in 1991, through a majority vote of property owners in the service district. A 3 cent per $100 tax is levied on property to pay for this vital service.

The service has six ambulances, which are located throughout the district to provide quick response time. These are at Airline Drive, Fallbrook Drive, where the helicopter also is stationed, Aldine VFD on E. Richey Road, headquarters at Isom Road, and two locations on Aldine Bender Road.

The service answers about 3000 calls per month, including 30 helicopter calls monthly.

An interesting aspect of the service, is that the helicopter is not an “on call” service, as with most ESD agencies. The plane is actually leased to ESD#1, and housed at one of their stations, on Fallbrook Drive.

In addition to emergency calls, ESD#1 is concentrating on non-emergency transport calls to other medical facilities, which will increase their income. At present, their budget is about $5.3 million, of which only $1.6 comes from the property assessment. Insurance payments, private billing, and transfer income make up the difference.

Citizens are invited to ride along as part of an outreach program that the ESD operates. Contact the main office, or visit their web site at www.hcesd1.org to make arrangements. Their headquarters office is at 1620 Isom Road, off Aldine-Westfield near the Keith-Wiess Park entrance. Their non-emergency number is 281-449-3131.

Cicherski Family seeks help in death of son on E. Mt. Houston

Parents of Freddie Cicherski, Jr., who was hit and killed on April 8, 2007 at 9:10 pm as he walked westbound at the 9300 block of E. Mt. Houston Road, have erected a sign near the spot of the accident, posting notice of a $10,000 reward and asking for witnesses to come forward to Crime Stoppers with information. Freddie was struck by at least two vehicles, one described as a dark-colored pick-up truck, possibly a Ford 150. Terri and Freddie Sr. feel that the hit and run may have been intentional, and think that because of heavy traffic along the highway, there must have been witnesses who saw what actually happened. Crime Stoppers rewards are anonymous, according to the organization’s Ray Wathen. Call 712-222-TIPS if you have any information.

Democrats have huge Election Day

Adrian Garcia new sheriff; Emmett, Green remain in seats

Northeast Harris County residents will see changes in their county government, with Democrats taking over nearly every seat formerly held by Republicans.

Ed Emmett, is one of the few exceptions as he beat David Mincberg 53%-46% to win the county judge’s seat.

Republican Pat Lykos is the first woman to serve as District Attorney. With less than 5,000 votes difference she defeated C.O. Bradford, a Democrat.

Mike Stafford lost the county attorney race to Democrat Vince Ryan.

Democrat Adrian Garcia unseated Sheriff Tommy Thomas, while Precinct 3 Constable Ken Jones held off a challenge from Republican Tony Lewis.

In the race for Harris County Tax Assessor/ Collector Paul Bettancourt beat Democrat Diane Trautman.

State Races

State Senator Mario Gallegos Jr. had a 70% landslide victory over Gilbert Pena.

Democratic state representative incumbent Senfronia Thompson easily beat GOP’s Michael Bunch.

National Races

Nationally, voters decided to make a change at the highest level, selecting Barack Obama as the next president. He scored 333 electoral votes to Republican nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin’s 155 votes.

In other national races, Senator John Cornyn defeated Democrat Rick Noriega. Congressman Gene Green will get two more years in Washington after beating Republican Eric Story and Libertarian Joel Grace. Sheila Jackson Lee had no trouble winning reelection to her congressional post.

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade estimated that 68% of registered voters cast ballots, either during early voting or on Election Day.

This is the second highest percentage in Texas history, with the highest coming at 73% in 2004.

Redmon-Jones, Smiley grad now at Greenspoint District, honored

HOUSTON — Shelia Redmon-Jones, communications director for the Greater Greenspoint District, has been selected as a Federation of Houston Professional Women (FHPW) 2008 Woman of Excellence. Redmon-Jones, along with 34 other recipients, was honored at the organization’s annual black-tie gala that celebrates the accomplishments of Houston women who use their power and influence to make a difference.

Redmon-Jones is a 1991 graduate of M.B. Smiley High School and received a B.A. in journalism from The University of Houston. She has been with the Greater Greenspoint District for eight years.

“As someone who benefited greatly from the involvement of others, I give my time to causes that focus on personal growth and expand the network and opportunities for those involved,” says Redmon-Jones.

Redmon-Jones is an executive officer and co-chair of the Spring ISD Career & Technical Education (CTE) Advisory Board, a member of the Leadership North Houston Alumni Board and serves as the publicity chair for ABWA Greenspoint Chapter.

Aldine defeats MacArthur 34-14 in annual rivalry

MacArthur Generals were unable to finish their season with a win, and dropped to 0-8 for the year with a 34-14 loss to their traditional rival Aldine last Friday night at Thorne.

Aldine Mustangs led through the whole game, with notable performances from Jordan Moore, passing 9 of 11 for 102 yards, and Dontae Williams rushing for 13 carries for 118 yards and 2 TDs. Aldine’s Wesley Vincent carried 10 times for 102 yards, and MacArthur’s Roger Nunnery had 157 yards and 1 TD.

The highlight play of the game was a blocked MacArthur field goal in the first quarter, which Aldine’s Markeith Whitefield ran back 72 yards for a score.