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Posts published in “Day: May 12, 2009

North Houston Association honors White, Emmett at awards luncheon

The North Houston Association (NHA) recently presented the Annual Awards to recipients who were recognized at the Annual Awards Luncheon held at Crowne Plaza Greenspoint.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and City of Houston Mayor Bill White were the keynote speakers at this event as well as Award Recipients.

The North Star Award is presented to an individual(s) or company in north Houston that has made a long-term, significant contribution to the region. This year’s award was presented to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and City of Houston Mayor Bill White for their leadership in long-term regional hurricane planning and strategy implementation. White provided leadership along with Harris County and the state in establishing a Task Force on Evacuation Transportation and Logistics after Hurricane Rita. The purpose of this independent group was to make recommendations on improvements to transportation and logistics for large evacuations, such as the Hurricane Rita evacuation of an estimated 3 million Texans from the Gulf Coast Area, including Houston and Harris County.

Prior to, during and after the recent Hurricane Ike, both White and Emmett were at the forefront providing strong leadership and action for our area.

The Compass Award is bestowed on an individual who is a member of the North Houston Association, and has made a significant contribution to the area and to the programs and projects of the Association. This year’s award was given to Alex Sutton, PE, Co-President of The Woodlands Development Company. Sutton has been an active NHA Board member since 1999 and currently serves as Vice Chairman. Through the years, Sutton has brought to the NHA Board of Directors’ attention a number of important regional issues, which have resulted in various actions and support from NHA. In addition to his service to NHA, Sutton has been instrumental in leading development and commercial projects for The Woodlands Development Company, resulting in greater economic development within the NHA region. Sutton and his family have been residents of The Woodlands for 15 years.

The Environmental Impact Award recognizes a company or entity for its efforts in preserving and protecting the environment in north Harris or south Montgomery County. The award was presented to the Biofuels Power Corporation. The Biofuels Power Corporation (“BPC”) is the first company in the biofuels power sector – that of generating power from biodiesel and renewable gas into the CenterPoint Energy connection in the Texas power grid, known as ERCOT. Unlike wind or biomass, biofuels power is easily installed in urban settings and the economics greatly exceed that of solar or hydrogen cell generation. The Power Plant uses patented technologies from Europe, Australia and US to manufacture SAFuel biodiesel, which is non-toxic, non-flammable, lower emissions, non-hazardous, greater lubricity, identical to petroleum diesel, made from fats or vegetable oils, and runs in all diesel engines.

The Power Plant is located in Oak Ridge North, with the BPC office in The Woodlands, and the Power Plant North (Turbine) located in Conroe.

Fred O’Connor, CEO and Mayor of Oak Ridge North, accepted the award.

The North Houston Association is a non-profit organization that identifies, advocates and supports projects and initiatives which advance the business environment and improve the quality of life in north Harris and south Montgomery counties.

NASA Astronaut visits Grantham Academy

NASA Astronaut Lee Morin, left, spoke to Grantham Academy engineering students on April 24. He presented a slide presentation on the nation’s space program titled, “New Possibilities and New Directions.” Aerospace engineer Andrea Monsalve-Garvey, far right, also presented a slide presentation on the aerospace industry. Pictured with the two are Grantham Academy Principal Ben Ibarra, U.S. Congressman Gene Green and Israel Galvan, CEO of GHG Corporation, which employs Monsalve-Garvey. Congressman Green and Galvan organized Morin’s visit to Grantham.

Walle passes graffiti reform bill

AUSTIN – Last week, State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) passed House Bill 1633, a comprehensive graffiti reform bill, out of the Texas House of Representatives. House Bill 1633 requires graffiti offenders to complete a minimum number of community service hours and to provide restitution to the victim, updates the graffiti code to include all forms of paint and enhances penalties for three-time offenders to a state jail felony.

“My graffiti reform bill requires graffiti offenders to complete community service and gets tough on the offenders who won’t learn from their mistakes,” said Walle. “I was proud to have the support of Chairman Pete Gallego, the members of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and the Texas House of Representatives on this important bill.”

House Bill 1633 was amended during the committee and floor debate process and includes the following four provisions:

* Requires graffiti offenders to complete a minimum number of community service hours;

* Requires graffiti offenders to complete restitution to the property victim;

* Amends the graffiti code to include all types of paint, not just aerosol paint; and

* Enhances penalties for repeat graffiti offenders by adding a “three strikes —you’re out” policy making the third graffiti offense a state jail felony.

“Graffiti crime is a serious problem for our community and our state,” said Walle. “My bill will force offenders to clean up their mess and give back to the community they defaced, deterring future offenses.”

Representatives from the Houston Police Department, the City of San Antonio, the Houston Food Bank, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Council to Prevent Diplomacy, the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Apartment Association registered their support for House Bill 1633 when it was heard last month in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

HCC-NFISD annexation is a win-win situation

Sometimes this writer doesn’t think as broadly as he should and brings some readers, or potential readers, up short. While in the Crosby area I have 75% of my exposure to Crosby, Highlands and Huffman; probably 10% to the Dayton area and remaining 15% is spread throughout the rest of the territory. Because of this I write mostly for readers of the Star-Courier and the Dayton News.

I keep forgetting that our illustrious editor-publisher, Gil Hoffman, also has two other papers that at least occasionally carry “Touch of Life.” That would be the North East-Beltway 8 News and the North Forest News. They cover Atascocita, Humble, Kingwood and other habitats in that area. I seldom write about things in that area.

Now I have an issue there that I would like to get behind.

That would be the annexation of the North Forest community by the Houston Community College system.

I was moved by a “Letter to the Editor” written by Elvin Franklin in the Northeast-Beltway 8 News. If everything in Mr. Franklin’s letter is correct (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) that annexation should have taken place earlier and certainly is needed now. Under the present circumstances North Forest students attending Houston Community College are forced to pay twice the cost of other students.

I quote Mr. Franklin, “For years, our community has discussed the possibility of being annexed by Houston Community College. Personally, I believe the time to act is now. A partnership with HCC and North Forest could only be a win-win for the community. Not only would tuition be cut in half for North Forest students attending HCC, but the North Forest School would benefit as well….”

He goes on to explain that should such annexation take place North Forest ISD would gain an “Early College High School, more dual credit offerings, college prep classes, high-tech vocational training, GED and ESL, and college courses offered in the community.” I ask you, “What is wrong with all of that?”

From where I sit, Elvin Franklin is right on! North Forest has taken some hits in recent years and annexation could be a positive step for HCC, NFISD, the students and potential students at North Forest, and the entire community. Mr. Franklin is a retiree living in that district, has no children involved in the school system but is taking interest in this annexation as an interested citizen.

Yes there would be some cost to the residents, about 9 cents per $ 100 evaluation. That doesn’t seem to significant. Let’s get behind this move North Forest and HCC do your thing. Over the years it would certainly be a WIN-WIN for both sides.

Such are the people, places and things that touch my life in my home!

North Forest ISD planning to close more schools

The North Forest ISD has developed a plan that would allow them to consolidate more campuses over the next two academic years while minimizing the impact of students, parents and staff.

“North Forest ISD has once again evaluated its resources in an effort to determine how to make the best use of them,” Superintendent Dr. Adrain Johnson said. “We cannot continue to operate a district of this size as our enrollment and, by extension, our financial resources decrease.”

Johnson said that the consolidation would be done in two phases.

The first phase will be implemented during the 2009-10 school year. This includes consolidating the district’s early childhood education program with an all-day, Pre-K program at Thurgood Marshall Elementary (including the Pre-K program, at Lakewood Elementary), closure of the R.E. Kirby and Oak Village facilities, opening a new middle school at the former Forest Brook campus, redrawing attendance zones at the middle school level to redistribute and balance enrollment and closure of the Suburban Street facility that now houses the Learning Academy and relocation of that program to another site.

The second phase of the plan will go into effect for the 2010-11 school year. This includes closing the Lakewood and W.E. Rogers facilities, opening a new elementary at the former Oak Village campus and redrawing attendance zones at the elementary school level to redistribute and balance enrollment.