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Posts published in July 2010

Nuisance abatement program continues to clear unsafe structures

The East Aldine District and Harris County continue their program of removing unsafe buildings from the District. This house at Illene Drive and Charwon Street was recently demolished. The work is under the direction of the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services department. Funding was from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development department. You may report unsafe structures in your neighborhood to the District at 713-595-1220.

New Aldine high school named for famed Tuskegee Airman, general

During the July 20 Board meeting, Aldine ISD Trustees unanimously approved naming the district’s newest high school and ninth grade school after Air Force General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., who was commander of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Dr. Viola M. Garcia, chairperson of the School Names Committee, along with committee members Merlin Griggs and Rick Ogden, recommended that the Board name the two schools after General Davis.

General Davis served the United States with honor and distinction during an illustrious career, in times of war and peace.

He was the recipient of the Air Force’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

He retired from the Air Force in 1970 at the rank of Lt. General, but in December of 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded him a fourth star, raising him to the rank of full general. General Davis was the first African American full general in the United States Air Force. General Davis was the son of O. Davis, Sr., a U.S. Army officer who retired at the rank of brigadier general after a distinguished career of military service.

Born in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 18, 1912, General Davis passed away on July 4, 2002. That same year, Temple University’s Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, considered by his peers as one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars, placed General Davis on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

Former Aldine AD named to Hall of Honor

A former Aldine ISD Athletic Director has been recognized for his service to student-athletes.

Last week Daryl Wade was inducted into the Texas High School Athletic Directors Hall of Honor. Joining Wade in the CLass of 2010 were former Spring Branch athletic director L.P. Jones, Cy-Fair associate athletic director Sheri Stice, and former Beaumont ISD Athletic Director Michael Mitchell.

Wade served as Aldine’s AD from 2003 to 2007. He was also an assistant athletic director for 13 years.

In 2007 he took the post of athletic director for Houston ISD, the largest school district in the state. He held that post until the end of the 2010 school year. In June Wade began working for the Houston Astros as director of the Urban Youth Baseball Academy at Sylvestor Turner park.

During the ceremony, held July 18 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Aldine ISD’s Director of Athletic Services Sandra Mader received the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Distinguished Service Award.

She was recognize for her pivotal role in helping get softball sanctioned as an official UIL sport. Last month Mader was also recognized prior to the start of the Class 4A championship game, which was played at the University of Texas’s McCombs Softball Field.

North Forest High grad to compete for Miss Texas USA title

With poise, personality, intelligence, and beauty, Courtney Sonnier, a North Forest ISD alumna, petitions support from a district and community she calls her own.

Courtney Sonnier is a graduate from North Forest High School in 2009, where she was a member of the Student Government Association, choir, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), and the National Honor Society. Her community service includes volunteering in hospitals with the HOSA organization and participation in the “Reach Out to Drop-outs” walk.

Sonnier was reared in the North Forest community with her family — her mother Erica Sonnier, a 1990 graduate of Forest Brook High School, and aunt from W.G. Smiley — as well as attending B.C. Elmore Middle School.

“I felt prepared academically. My teachers were like family, they always helped me with things I was involved in, even if it was outside of academics,” Sonnier said. “Dr. Bryant even helped me with volunteer work. She was always there when I needed her.”

After graduating, Sonnier enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin. She is now a sophomore and is majoring in journalism. She received a Longhorn Scholarship last year.

In May she was accepted into the Miss Texas USA pageant, where she will be judged in three categories: personal interview, swimsuit, and evening gown. This will be the first pageant in which Sonnier will compete, but she said she is not worried.

“To prepare myself I have done a lot of research in interviewing techniques, I have been practicing applying my own makeup, and I am receptive to any advice from those who want to help,” she said.

Sonnier said she wanted to enter the pageant to represent her community and all who have given so much to her.

“In North Forest, I believe i learned tools to help me with all life experiences. I am proud to say I am a product of North Forest,” she said.

The Miss Texas USA pageant is Labor Day weekend, September 3-5, and is a ticketed event. If Sonnier wins, she will be able to represent Texas in the Miss USA pageant.

Comcast breaks ground in North Forest with $15k for youth program

Program edifies, mobilizes at-risk youth with new career training

Construction for a better tomorrow in Northeast Houston has commenced as Comcast donated $15,000 to YouthBuild Houston, a program administered by HoustonWorks USA in partnership with United States Department of Labor, YouthBuild USA, and Houston Habitat for Humanity. YouthBuild Houston is a program that simultaneously addresses core issues facing low-income communities: housing, education, employment, crime prevention, and leadership development.

HoustonWorks hosted a press conference and check presentation on July 20, at a Houston Habitat for Humanity site under construction. The site is in the Milby Park subdivision located on Mesa and Sterlingshire.

“We are grateful to Comcast for their continuous support and investment in YouthBuild,” said HoustonWorks CEO Larry V. Green, Esq. “We are not only building homes, we are building a future for our youth while tackling multiple community concerns that face our city. The program provides participants with a second chance to complete their education, learn the necessary skills to become gainfully employed, and build a hopeful future for themselves and their families.”

In the program, at-risk youth, 18-24 year olds, work toward their GEDs, learn job skills, and serve their communities by constructing low-income housing. Participants receive hands-on training working with Houston Habitat for Humanity and complete more than 500 hours of community service. Additional YouthBuild partners include: The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston, Houston Area Women’s Center, AFL-CIO, and the City of Houston.

Since the YouthBuild Program was established last fall, participants have helped build multiple houses, and four participants recently received their GEDs.

North Forest ISD to host North Forest Day 2010

Highlights will include a Community Rally & Clean-Up, Back-to-School Festival

HOUSTON — North Forest Independent School District is encouraging the entire North Forest community to participate in this year’s district-wide community clean-up on Saturday, August 14.

North Forest ISD’s Community Clean-Up will serve as the prelude to the Back-to-School Family Festival and Family Empowerment Conference.

The clean-up will take place throughout the North Forest community. The rally begins at 8:00 a.m. at Forest Brook Middle School, 7525 Tidwell Road. The clean-up will immediately follow. While the district has organized an annual Back-To-School festival for the past several years, the Family Empowerment Conference and Community Rally & Clean-Up are new components of the event.

Free spay/neuter services for East Aldine District pets

The East Aldine Management District approved a grant for Spay/Houston to provide free spay and neuter services to pet owners in the district who qualify under certain income assistance guidelines. To qualify, residents must be able to provide proof of residence within the East Aldine Management District as well as proof of public assistance, such as Lone Star card, Social Security, or unemployment. Animals serviced can be cats, dogs, and rabbits.

Pet owners who meet the criteria can either call or email Spay/Houston. Once the clinic validates eligibility, an appointment will be arranged at its Greenspoint area facility. Residents will be helped on a first-come, first-serve basis. Spay/Houston’s contact information is or (281) 260-0015.

Making music

By Angie Liang

Hordes of tourists and natives alike crowd Times Square at any given part of the day—in my case, 7 p.m. on a Monday after work. My friends were standing around a sunshine yellow piano located right at the epicenter of Times Square, and a professional pianist was delighting the crowd with his masterpiece. As I listened, my heart sank to my stomach and my hands were shaking.

“You’re next, Angie,” one of my friends said with a nudge.

Suddenly this didn’t seem like such a good idea.

I was one of those children that you had to force to sit at the piano to practice. Sometimes it involved screaming. Eventually I realized the minimal amount I had to practice each week to get by in my piano lessons. Then when I started college, there were no more lessons or practice sessions, and suddenly, I realized how much I loved (and missed) playing the piano.

In college, my friend Jenn and I would storm the private music rooms on campus to play all our old classical pieces and attempt some current hits. Later, my boyfriend at the time lent me his weighted keyboard so I could play in my bedroom. This became especially beneficial whenever I felt stressed and needed to let my emotions flow from my head and my heart and out through my fingers.

Moving to New York, I had to forego making music. Due to lack of transportation, space, and time, I returned the weighted keyboard and stopped playing. After a few months, I started getting antsy and looking up piano room rentals at local theatres. So when New York hosted a two-week art installation project of free pianos open to the public around the city, I knew I had to play.

There was only one problem: stage fright. As much as I love playing, I am terrible with large crowds, something that is unavoidable in New York. When it comes to piano, I view playing as a personal fulfillment and only choose to share it with a few close friends. The thought of performing in front of a large crowd of strangers creates a terrible anxiety and nervousness. Luckily, Jenn happened to be visiting and I told her of my goal to participate before the installation ended in July, and she happily agreed to support me.

On our first attempt, we walked in the dead of night to one of the free pianos at Central Park. My logic was this: It’s late, so not as many people will be out, and it’s dark, so they can’t really see me. But somehow my logic did not factor in that the piano would be locked during the night.

The next day I made my second attempt, more determined than ever. I discovered that there was a closer piano in Times Square, so I decided if I was going to do play somewhere, why not one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the world?

Jenn and a few friends stood eagerly near me as the pianist finished his piece. As my other friend nudged me, I looked at Jenn. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through with this, but she smiled to give me confidence and encouragement. Even the professional said, “This piano is for you to play.”

And he was right.

Despite my nervousness, and even my mistakes, I sat on the bench and played. I played because I could make music. I played because it made me happy. I played until the piece was finished, the crowd applauded, and I turned and smiled.

HomeTowne on Wayside opens new senior housing complex

A new apartment complex for seniors, over 55, opened last month at 7447 N. Wayside Drive, near the corner of Ley Road.

The development consists of several hundred apartment units, with one and two bedroom units priced from $529 to $699. The project is seen as a sign of economic recovery, according to City Councilman Jarvis Johnson, who was present for the ribbon cutting on June 10th, along with Rick Simmons of the Integrated Real Estate Group, the developer, and Gilbert Gerst of JP Morgan Chase, the lender.

Johnson recognized the developer for bringing affordable, high quality senior living to the Settegast Community of Houston. He said that this is the first investment of its kind in this area, bringing a gated community where seniors can enjoy the peace of mind of a truly secure environment, maintained and operated by a professional staff.

Integrated Real Estate Group worked with Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, the City of Houston, and JP Morgan Chase to bring about the development.

The living units have the following amenities: one bedroom units are 775 sq. feet in size, and two bedroom, two bath units are 1,039 sq. feet.

Units include large walk-in closets, fully equipped kitchens with appliances, ceiling fans, washer and dryer in each unit, and where required, handicapped facilities.

The exterior facilities include a gated community, elevators for the three story buildings, clubhouse with beauty salon/barbershop, fitness center designed for active seniors, gazebo with cooking and picnic facilities, community garden, some covered parking, and more.

For information, call 713-631-8500 or stop at 7447 Wayside.

Houston Councilman Johnson arrested for evading arrest

Denies charges, including speeding

HOUSTON — City Councilman Jarvis Johnson is scheduled to appear in court this week to face a charge of felony evading arrest following an incident that occurred on June 30.

On June 30, around 9:45 p.m., a Houston police officer attempted to stop an alleged speeding vehicle in the 2300 block of the Eastex Freeway service road.

HPD spokesman John Cannon said Officer Steven Running turned on his emergency lights and siren and followed the vehicle five or six blocks before it pulled into a private driveway and stopped at 2606 Staples.

When Running approached the 2003 Toyota Sequoia, he learned that Johnson was driving.

Johnson, in a statement, denied that he was trying to flee the officer. At a later news conference on Friday, he denied fleeing or leaving his car. He identified the woman in the car with him as his secretary.

“Last night (June 30) was an unfortunate situation where the officer erroneously surmised that I was speeding and fled his warning — a claim I vehemently deny. At no point did I drive over 45 mph, run stop signs, or maneuver around any vehicle. I acted in no way that would give any indication that I was attempting to flee or evade apprehension.”

Johnson was reportedly driving 62 mph in a 45 mile per hour zone. Johnson was arrested. he later posted $2,000 bail and was released.

Donna Hawkins, with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said that Johnson is scheduled to make his first court appearance, in the 209th Criminal Court on July 6.

In his statement Johnson questioned whether the arrest was related to formal complaints the councilman had made about the number of “speed traps” in his district.

There have also been accusations of racial profiling made by members of the community.