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Posts published in January 2010

Census office opens in NE Houston

The Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the North Houston-Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce, held a ribbon cutting on Jan. 8 for the new 2010 Census Office. The ribbon cutting at the new office on the North Freeway led off with a Jr. ROTC presentation of colors, the pledge of allegiance, the Star Spangled Banner, after which a local third grader sang America the Beautiful with the audience.

After the invocation, a brief video played, stressing the importance of collecting accurate census data.

The Dallas Area US Census Manager spoke about the challenges that face the different census area.

Wanda LeBlanc, appointed by Judge Emmet as Director of the Harris County Area for US Census, spoke about the importance of filling out your census documents.

Harris County Constable of Precinct 6, Victor Trevino, gave closing remarks and an office from that precinct sang a stirring rendition of God Bless America.

The US Census Office is located at 9300 North Freeway, Ste B.

I might need a vacation… from vacation!

by Kristan Hoffman

2 people, 6 months, 13 trips, 4 countries, 14 cities, and way too many frequent flyer miles to count. After all that, it’s official: I miss my bed.

Since August of last year, Andy and I have been traveling constantly, both for business and for fun. It feels like we’ve slept in every bed but our own, and I think our dog is starting to consider the kennel his real home. Our condo is just a place he visits sometimes, although its amenities do include complimentary chew toys.

At first, going to so many different places was exciting. Vegas, Europe, the Carolinas… Andy and I flew everywhere for everything: to attend events, see family, work on a business project, and of course, take a real vacation. Pretty soon we finished all the airline crossword puzzles. Then Andy started saying the flights felt too long, but since I often fell asleep before takeoff and woke up after landing, I really had no idea what he was talking about.

Other than visiting our families in Houston and Rochester, NY—which are always our favorite trips (Are you reading this, Mom and Dad?)—I think there were 3 vacations that stood out from the rest of our Crazy Travel.

The first was Ireland. Andy had to go there for a conference, so we decided that I should tag along and make it our first international trip together. His conference was held in the tiny town of Nenagh, where I spent my days exploring (and re-exploring) all four blocks of the main square, and then writing in a wonderful little café. To many people that might sound boring, but I felt both exhilarated and relaxed at the same time. There’s something about Europe’s combination of cobbled streets and contemporary culture that puts my soul at ease.

When Andy was done working, he and I traveled to Dublin for the weekend. We toured the old jail, Trinity College, the infamous Temple Bar area, and the zoo. And of course no European trip would be complete without a castle and a cathedral. Pretty much the only things we didn’t see were a leprechaun and pot of gold. But Ireland was as green, rainy, and hospitable as promised, and we really enjoyed our time together there.

A month later, just before Thanksgiving, we rendezvoused with my parents in Las Vegas to celebrate my twenty-fourth birthday and my dad’s ______ieth. (I don’t think I’m allowed to say how old he is.) My half-sisters met us there from Phoenix, and together we had a whirlwind couple of days. We visited Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon, and we saw Cirque du Soleil’s “O” as well as the Blue Man Group show. The whole weekend was a blast, but the best part was that my dad had his wife and all three of his daughters together to celebrate his milestone birthday.

Last but not least, Andy and I met up with his parents to attend and celebrate his younger brother’s graduation from the US Marines boot camp. I’ve never had a friend or family member in the military before, so that weekend at Parris Island really affected me. Anyone can have an intellectual opinion about our military, where it is, and what it’s doing. But when there’s a body, a face, a person that you care about who is serving—when your emotions get involved—that changes everything. Rather than think about Andy’s brother being deployed, I’ll just say that we were extremely proud of his accomplishment in becoming a Marine, and honored to have been a part of his graduation experience.

For better or worse, the end of 2009 meant the end of our Crazy Travel. Was it insane, expensive, and exhausting? Yes, absolutely yes. But was it worth every mile, every penny, and every minute away from my bed? Yes, absolutely yes.

Officers involved in four shooting incidents over weekend

Law enforcement officers were involved in four shootings in as many days in Northeast Houston and Harris County.

The first shooting occurred on Jan. 15, around 9:30 p.m.

Houston PD Narcotics officers went to a house in the 6700 block of Lechner to serve a search warrant.

Police say the officers were confronted with a suspect armed with a shotgun. The suspect reportedly told officers “come and get him.” Fearing their safety one of the officers fired at the suspect. The suspect returned fire with the officers. During the exchange the suspect was killed.

The second shooting took place around 9:15 p.m. on Jan. 17.

According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to the 6700 block of Village Bridge to serve Amjed Kalaf with an arrest warrant. Kalaf was being arrested on a charge of assaulting a peace officer on Jan. 15.

Deputies say that when they arrived at the home they were told that the suspect was inside and he did not intend to surrender. The sheriff’s office said that when deputies confronted Kalaf he was holding a weapon and refused to obey commands to lay it down. Fearing for their safety, the deputies said they were forced to fire on Kalaf.

Kalaf’s family says that the deputies used unnecessary force in the incident. They claim that they told deputies that Kalaf was psychologically ill, and that he was trying to force the shooting by brandishing a toy firearm. The sheriff’s department has not commented on this allegation.

Later that evening another deputy who was working off-duty at a northeast side apartment complex shot a home invasion suspect.

The sheriff’s office said two deputies were working at the Green Tree Place Apartments in the 700 block of Dunson when they heard shots being fired from the front side of the complex.

As the deputies came close to the area where the shots were fired they saw two armed suspects. When the suspects refused commands to lay down their arms one of the deputies fired at the suspects. One suspect was hit in the upper high. The other suspect fled the scene.

It is believed that the suspects had just committed a home invasion robbery. During the investigation three weapons and a bag of marijuana was found, which is believed to be connected with the two suspects.

Two Houston police officers working security at the Amazonia night club on Aldine-Bender were involved with a shotgun wielding suspect on Jan. 18.

The Houston police department says that it was near closing time early in the morning when the officers saw two men get into an argument in the parking lot. One of the men went to his vehicle and retrieved a shotgun which he used to threaten the other patron.

The officers said they drew their weapons and ordered the man to lay down the shotgun. When he refused they both fired. The man was transported to an area hospital in stable condition.

Goya Foods donará más de 300,000 libras de alimentos para ayudar a las víctimas del terrmoto de Haití

Goya Foods, Inc., la mayor compañía de alimentos de propiedad hispana de los Estados Unidos anunció sus esfuerzos de ayuda para las víctimas del terremoto de magnitud 7.0 que devastó a Haití.

Goya, que tiene un prolongado historial de responder a desastres naturales en todo el mundo, se movilizó de inmediato después de que la tragedia golpeara a la pequeña isla caribeña. Goya de Puerto Rico donó alimentos y otros artículos necessarios y Goya República Dominicana ha estado coordinando con las autoridades haitianas el traslado de alimentos y otras ayudas a través de la frontera.

Las operaciones que están participando en los esfuerzos desde el continente incluyen a Goya Foods de Florida, Texas y Nueva Jersey. Estos esfuerzos coordinados generarán más de 300,000 libras de alimentos para las víctimas del terremoto.

Una de las organizaciones con las cuales Goya está trabajando para proporcionar alimentos al pueblo de Haití es Food for the Poor, con base en Florida, la mayor organización internacional de ayuda y darrollo de los Estados Unidos.

“Estamos agradecidos a Goya por extender la mano en este momento al pueblo de Haití, que está hoy más desesperado que nuna y con una inmensa necesidad de alimentos,” declaró Ángel Aloma, Director Ejecutivo de Food for the Poor. “Esta generosa donación nos permitirá enviar alimentos muy necesarios y hacerlos llegar a los más necesitados.”

Bob Unanue, presidente de Goya Foods, expresó su sentir en torno a esta desastre natural que ha ocasionado la pérdida de vidas.

“Estamos profundamente conmovidos por el sufrimiento que están experimentando nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Haití. La pérdida de vidas y la devastación que ha afectado a tantas familias es inimaginable. Aquí en Goya los tenemos en nuestros pensamientos y en nuestras oraciones, mientras luchan por superar esta terrible tragedia,” dijo Unanue.

Fundada en 1936, Goya Foods, Inc. tiene sus raíces en las tradiciones culinaries de las comunidades hispanas del todo el mundo. Para obtender más información sobre Goya Foods, visite

NEN Coach of the Year

By Mike Keeney
Contributing Writer

Lionell Crawford is living a dream, and enjoying every minute of it!

Crawford, a 1988 graduate of Aldine High School and the football team’s star quarterback under the tutelage of legendary head coach Bill Smith, returned to his alma mater in February when he was named the school’s head football coach.

Although he and his new staff were a bit behind in their 19-5A rivals in terms of implementing their offseason program, they knew they had enough talent on hand to make a run at the playoffs once the 2009 season rolled around in August, and right they were.

The Mustangs closed the season with a kick and qualified for the playoffs. They defeated Westside 28-19 in bi-district play before falling to Alief Taylor, 38-35, in a thrilling second-round game.

By leading the Mustangs to a playoff win and a 7-5 season, Crawford was named the Northeast News’ Coach of the Year for the 2009 season.

The Aldine job is Crawford’s second head coaching stint. Prior to landing at the helm of the Mustangs’ program, Crawford was the head coach at Smiley High School and then North Forest High (Smiley and Forest Brook combined and the school was named North Forest High in 2008), where he led the Bulldogs to a 6-4 season in 2008 and a playoff berth.

Before becoming a coach, Crawford was a strong football player himself. After graduating from Aldine, Crawford earned a football scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he played quarter back and wide receiver for Barry Alvarez. After two years with the Green Bay Packers, Crawford entered the private sector. He began his coaching and teaching career in 2000.

Like Smith before him, Crawford hopes to spend many, many years as the Mustangs’ head coach.

“I would love to lay a foundation and have some things put in place to where my name can be mentioned with Coach Smith’s. Now that would be quite a career.”

Some would say Lionell Crawford is off to a good start in reaching that goal.

(For the full version of this story, please see print edition.)

Parents object to proposed cuts in AISD magnet programs

NORTHEAST — Aldine ISD is faced with a budget problem, and is looking for ways to cut expenses in the upcoming school year. One of the proposals made by Superintendent Wanda Bamberg and Asst. Superintendent Keith Clark is to eliminate the Magnet program at 5 of the 22 schools where it is offered.

A spokesperson for the district told the Northeast News that $25 million must be cut from the budget. A hiring freeze, reduced department budgets, and increased class sizes have not solved the problem, and other cuts are necessary. The Magnet program reduction would affect Carroll Academy, Hill Intermediate, Stovall Academy, Harris Academy and Smith Academy, according to the current proposal.

Parents of the 647 students enrolled in this program appeared at the last board meeting on Jan. 11, and will be present at the special meeting on Jan. 25 that is expected to act on this budget.

State Legislators might have an opportunity to correct or amend the financial help for Texas school districts in their next session, but this would not occur for the current school year.

State Representative Armando Walle told the Northeast News that he was against the closing of some magnet programs, including the Mendel school, and would be working in the legislature to fund relief.

(For the full version of this story, please see print edition.)

ESD #1 holds ribbon cutting for new urgent care clinic

NORTHEAST — Dignitaries, ESD staff and board, and first responders gathered last Friday at the new Urgent Care facility on Aldine-Bender, to participate in the official Ribbon Cutting and the opening of the ESD#1 medical clinic, dispatch center, ambulance and emergency center.

The ribbon cutting was hosted by the North Houston-Greenspoint Chamber, now known as the Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce.

Tours of the facility followed the ribbon cutting. About 100 visitors were impressed with the large and comprehensive services housed in the new building on Aldine-Bender. In addition to about 12 ambulances, the building houses repair and maintenance shops, medical facilities including exam, treatment and imaging rooms and equipment, as well as supply rooms, offices, training rooms, kitchen and other support services.

Other functions housed in the building include the Sheriff’s SWAT team and auxiliary, with room for their armored cars and other special vehicles. Paved areas also accommodate a helicopter when required for transfers.

The Urgent Care Clinic has expanded its hours, to serve the community for emergency health care, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

NHG Chamber OKs name change to Houston Intercontinental Chamber

The North Houston-Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce announced last week the Board of Directors has voted to change the name of the chamber to the Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce.

Originally established in 1986, the Chamber decided it was time to change the name to better represent the members and the area the Chamber services.

Suspect arrested in Huffman woman’s murder

Body found on Greens Road by EquuSearch

HUFFMAN — The body of a Huffman woman, missing since Jan. 1, was located in Northeast Houston on Jan. 8 by Texas EquuSearch. In a late development, the authorities announced they have arrested a suspect in connection with the murder.

The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the body as Becky Hernandez, also known as Becky Hamilton, 52, of Huffman. The M.E.’s Office says that the cause of death is still pending.

Arrested on Saturday, Jan. 9 was Larry Allen Ricketts, 41, a registered sex offender that lived in Huffman not far from the marina where Hamilton worked and lived. Ricketts is being held in jail on $200,000 bail.

MacArthur High earns Silver medal rating from U.S. News and World Report

Aldine ISD’s MacArthur Senior High School received a Silver medal rating from U.S. News and World Report in the magazine’s recent rating of America’s best high schools.

The Silver medal rating was based on the fact that MacArthur High had a college readiness index of at least 20 but was not ranked in the top 100 high schools nationally.

The magazine analyzed 21,786 public high schools in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. MacArthur High was one of 461 top-performing high schools nationwide to earn Silver medal status.

A year ago, MacArthur High earned Bronze medal status.

“We are proud of this accomplishment, and I want to commend our staff and students for all of their hard work,” said MacArthur Senior High principal Nancy Blackwell. “But, we can’t rest on our laurels and need to continue aiming for the next level.”