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Posts published in “Day: March 2, 2010

Spring Fever and Spring Cleaning…

Spring is so close one can smell it. That must be why all these sneezing fits have occurred. The neighbor’s Arizona Ash tree is budding out and the other neighbor’s pear tree will be in bloom once it gets a good drink of water as it is full of buds. Pear trees are so pretty full of white blossoms.

Spring will officially be here next month just after you turn your clock forward one hour. Looking forward to the time advance, although Spike cat will not know the difference as he likes to walk around the pillow before daylight so someone will go get his breakfast snack of Whiskas Temptations treats. Spring Fever as defined by Ms Merriam-Webster is “a lazy or restless feeling often associated with the onset of spring”.

You can tell its spring when all the male dove start cooing to the nearest female dove. It is also time for the white perch AKA Crappie to bite. Actually the Crappie are already biting on Luce Bayou above Lake Houston. Spring runs from March into May down here in Texas and at the end of spring is the beginning of hurricane season.

Spring is also the time to do your spring cleaning and, being the head janitor of the house the job has already begun. The biggest chore at the house is washing the fascia and eaves on the house; next biggest is the blinds and windows. Guess I’ll have to turn the ceiling fans on high to dust. Don’t care what she says, that’s woman’s work. About decided when she retires, I’m going back to work.

Drove to the fresh water pond in the big city last week to check out a crappie hole found over the web; hope to wet a hook this coming week, but weather forecast says it’s going to be cold so Charlie might not make it.

Got a box of Jerusalem artichoke to plant one day this week, hope to have a pint or two of them pickled as Pop and Pearl Farrar grew them out at their place on the Liberty Hill Road. Pearl would pickle them and they were right tasty, crunchy too. Of course she would put a pod of red pepper in the jar for a bit of spice, hot but good.

We used to take the mattresses out each spring on a pretty day to air out; it was a job momma always had me help doing wrestling those heavy cotton mattresses out to the back yard for a day. Nowadays you have febreze.

Stimulus Funds at work… Local leaders meet Congresswoman Pelosi at Houston Port

HOUSTON – Rep. Gene Green (TX-29) joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-08), Rep. Al Green (TX-09), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, and representatives from the Port of Houston and local industry to discuss the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for local job creation.

The Port has received $98.8 million to address critical needs by building dredge material and placement areas, and $2.8 million through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program. These funds have all been supplied by ARRA.

“I am happy to see Speaker Pelosi here at the Port with an active interest in our local economy,” said Green. “ARRA has made, and will continue to make, a huge impact on our area.”

The Port of Houston is the largest U.S. port in foreign commerce and is responsible for $285 billion in economic activity and approximately 1.5 million direct and indirect jobs. The funds awarded by ARRA are estimated to create 2640 direct and indirect jobs and help to maintain the Port of Houston as a major Houston-area economic engine.

ARRA has also awarded money to benefit early education in the Houston-area. Head Start of Harris County has received $632,544 and Early Head Start/Head Start of Gulf Coast Community Services has received over $1 million; all of these funds are to boost current programs of social and cognitive development in children. Harris County Department of Education has additionally received $881,002 to expand their current operations to provide for a greater number of low-income children.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for a $50 million award to build two direct connectors at U.S. 59 and Beltway 8 and the direct connector in Baytown from State Highway 146 to Spur 330. The Texas Department of Transportation projects will allow for greater traffic flow while easing congestion and drive times.

In October of 2009, the Department of Energy awarded a $200 million grant to CenterPoint energy to begin the first phase of its Intelligent Grid that will improve operational efficiency and reliability. The funding was made possible by ARRA and will sponsor a range of technologies. CenterPoint has been a pioneer in developing a Smart Grid program and will begin with much of Houston’s critical infrastructure.

The State of Texas has received in excess of $12 billion, funded entirely by ARRA. “Without these resources, our state wouldn’t have been able to balance its checkbook,” Green stated. “These funds will continue to help our local and state economy stabilize during the economic downturn, and bring even more needed jobs to our area.”

North Houston Assoc. hears Houston Mayor

NORTH HOUSTON – Mayor Annise Parker brought her vision of Houston to the guests at the North Houston Association monthly luncheon last Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Hilton Hotel Greenspoint.

Introduced by Jack Drake, Mayor Parker emphasized the regional aspects of Houston’s success, noting that it is a area with more opportunity, and more jobs for people who arrive.

She said that she is fulfilling her campaign promises, to invest in infrastructure, to create jobs, sustain the economy, and mitigate flooding in the area. However, she noted that water doesn’t understand political boundaries, and flood abatement planning must be on a regional basis.

She has appointed a chief development officer, Andy Aiken, to coordinate regional planning. She also is working on bringing new international business to the area, she said.

East Aldine reviews 2009, sets goals for year 2010

NORTHEAST HOUSTON – At their Annual Meeting and Workshop last month, the East Aldine District board reviewed accomplishments from the year 2009, and set goals and budgets for the coming 2010 year.

The workshop was led by Executive Director David Hawes and his staff, including Economic Development Director Gretchen Larson, Water and Sewer Director Scott Bean, and Director of Services Richard Cantu.

Scott Bean and Buddy Barnes of Engineering Company Montgomery & Barnes, reviewed water and sewer infrastructure projects. This included in 2009 water and sewer connections to residences in North Houston Heights and Inwood Place, and the engineering design for connections in Sherwood Place and Benton Place, among others. For 2010, other projects were discussed. In North Houston Heights, which is finished, 87 homes out of 103 eligible were connected to the system.

Buddy Barnes and Butch Babineaux of Wilbur Smith Associates discussed mobility and transportation accomplishments, including grant proposals submitted to TxDOT under the Safe Routes to Schools program, preliminary engineering designs for intersection, signage and striping improvements, and a traffic study for Aldine Mail Route. Improvements planned along Aldine-Westfield will include widening at intersections and new signalization, at Lauder, Hopper, and Aldine Bender. Bertrand will be widened but not signalized. A Transit Survey is being circulated in the District, to determine bus needs and destinations. Improvements to Aldine Mail Route were noted as important because the street has three times the state average for accidents.

Future mobility projects being considered are an extension of JFK from Aldine Mail to E. Mt. Houston, construction of a through east-west road, Gulf Bank/Mt. Houston from Hardy Toll Road to US59, rebuilding of Aldine Mail Route from Aldine Westfield to US59, and widening of Aldine Westfield from Little York to Aldine Bender.

Darren Weinheimer of Kudela & Weinheimer, presented a progress report on signage and median improvements. He displayed a sample street sign and a “Keep Aldine Green” sign.

David Hawes discussed Economic Development and Security and Public Safety programs. He noted the redesign of the District web site, the transit study, completion of marketing brochures, a police appreciation event, and the relocation of our “gang unit” into the sheriff ’s control, but then the housing of it in our storefront offices. Our website is:

Public Safety included the bike patrols in Keith Weiss Park, partnership with Greenspoint Mall on an auto theft sheriff’s unit, financial support of the public safety center in Greenspoint Mall, and overtime pay for hot spot patrols.

Parks and Green Spaces were discussed with Mr. Joe Turner, head of the City of Houston Parks Department. He informed the board of a number of improvements underway for Keith-Weiss Park. He said that the City of Houston budget had $2 million for Keith-Weiss improvements.

Of the 360 parks in Houston, only 8 are considered “signature” parks, including Keith-Weiss. He spoke of recently clearing 100 acres of trees in the park, to open recreation areas, and of stocking the ponds with fish. He proposed a joint project for a permanent building in the park to house full-time management of the park, and as a base for sheriff’s bike patrols.

Mr. Hawes introduced architects from the PGAL firm, who will undertake a feasibility study of a multi-purpose town center building for the District, and possible sites including a portion of Keith-Weiss park or adjacent to it.

Following the review of 2009 accomplishments, the discussion turned to budgets for the year 2010. Due to economic conditions in the country, it is anticipated that revenues will be reduced this year, perhaps as much as 15 per cent.

Changes from last year’s budget included the following recommendations: Street light outage survey, $1890; additional Sheriff’s patrol overtime, $99,415; IT or computer maintenance, $3600; PGAL study contract, $15,500; facility building in Keith-Weiss park, $393,180; community garden project, $18,000; signage, 556,182; and landscaping and entry monumentation signs, $6577,724. Upon discussion led by director Townsend, the Community Development Fund, which funds grants and programs for local agencies, was increased from $139,241 to $265,000 in anticipation of a rise in requests. Additionally, small increases in fees to Hawes Hill and attorney Tim Austin were approved.

The summary of the budget resulted in an amount for 2010 of $2,864,000, compared with $3,400,000 for the previous year 2009.

RODEO HOUSTON: Spanish Trail Riders stop at Greenspoint Mall

The Spanish Trail Riders, with 12 wagons and about 100 riders, started toward the Houston Rodeo from Shepherd, Texas last weekend, February 20. On Thursday afternoon they arrived at their sixth stop of the ride, the parking lot of Greenspoint Mall.

Trail Boss Joe Cantrell told the Northeast News that this group is celebrating their 50th year of riding to the Rodeo. He personally has led the group for 32 years, and it is now a family affair, with his son Larry as the Assistant Trail Boss, and other family members participating, also.

The riders start in Shepherd, a community about 126 miles up US59 from Houston, and continue for a week, covering about 15 to 20 miles each day. Their goal by Friday is Memorial Park in Houston, where they will join 12 other trail ride groups, bed down for the night in preparation to ride in the Rodeo Parade through downtown Houston on Saturday, Feb. 27th. This is the traditional start of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which runs this year from March 2 through 21.

In appreciation for their hospitality at the Greenspoint Mall, Trail Boss Joe Cantrell presented a plaque to Mall Manager Ray Bejarano and Assistant Manager Petra Owens on behalf of the Spanish Trail Ride.