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Posts published in February 2011

Man sentenced for harboring illegal aliens on Vashti Drive

A previously convicted Mexican national illegally in the United States, who conspired to harbor other illegal aliens and possessed a firearm in violation of federal law, has been sentenced to prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced last weel.
Elicio Moctezuma-Cisneros, 30, citizen of Mexico, previously convicted of kidnapping and robbery, pleaded guilty on June 22, 2010 to conspiracy to harbor aliens, being an alien in possession of a firearm, and illegally re-entering the U. S. after being deported.
U. S. District Judge Nancy Atlas, accepted Moctezuma-Cisneros’ guilty pleas and convicted him of each of the three federal offenses. Judge Atlas sentenced Moctezuma-Cisneros to 46 months imprisonment without parole on each of the three convictions. The court has ordered that the sentences be served concurrently. Moctezuma-Cisneros is subject to deportation upon release from prison.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HIS) initiated in March 2010 after a shootout at a residence located on the 200 block of Vashti Drive in Houston.
The residence was being used as a stash house to harbor illegal aliens. Moctezuma-Cisneros, along with Juan Santiago Hernandez, 19, were guarding approximately 80-90 undocumented aliens at the Vashti stash house until smuggling fees were paid by their relatives/friends to the alien smugglers. The undocumented aliens would be released upon payment of the fees to the smugglers.
On March 29, 2010, the Vashti Drive alien stash house was raided by Kenneth Barahona, 18, of Honduras and an unknown suspect dressed in law enforcement gear – ICE and POLICE shirts with the intention of stealing the “load” of smuggled aliens.
Moctezuma-Cisneros and Kenneth Barahona exchanged gunfire and both suffered gunshot wounds and have since recovered.
Barahona was charged in a separate but related case and has since been convicted of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens and being an alien in possession of a firearm.
In November 2010, Barahona was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison by Judge Sim Lake. Moctezuma-Cisneros’ co-defendant, Hernandez, was sentenced to 46 months in October 2010 by Judge Atlas for conspiring with Moctezuma-Cisneros to harbor illegal aliens.
Both are presently in federal custody serving their sentences.
In custody since his March 2010 arrest, Moctezuma-Cisneros will remain in federal custody until transfer to a U. S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future where he will serve his sentence.

Deputies capture fugitive on Aldine Mail

NORTHEAST– Sheriff’s deputies, in a press conference last Friday, said that a horrendous case of spousal abuse ended when the man responsible was apprehended in a traffic stop on Aldine Mail Route.
Gregory Longoria Jr., 39, was charged with felony aggravated assault of a family member, and is being held without bail.
Sheriff’s officers said that the ordeal started at noon on Wednesday, when Longoria allegedly kidnapped his estranged wife, and held her for 17 hours. During that time he allegedly physically abused her, beating and burning her, and photographing her nude.
The woman was allegedly taken from her parents home on Wimberly Street, after he threatened to kill the parents. He then took her to his apartment on Wayforest Drive, north of Greens Road, where the abuse took place.
On Thursday morning, the woman escaped by convincing Longoria she needed to leave for a job interview.
Later in the day, at 6:45 p.m. Sheriff’s deputies saw him leave an apartment near Aldine Mail Route, and arrested him.

Aldine ISD FFA students top $176K mark at 52nd annual Livestock Show

Despite inclement winter weather, the Aldine community once again stepped up to the plate and rewarded Aldine ISD FFA (Future Farmers of America) students by spending more than $176,000 on student projects during the 52nd annual Livestock Show and Country Fair, held Feb 4-6 at the M.O. Campbell Educational Center.
The Sale of Champions was moved from Friday to Saturday due to the ice storm that struck the Houston area early Friday morning, and even though buyers had to wait an extra day to bid on projects, they came through once again for Aldine ISD’s students, said Franklin Higgins, director of career and technical education.

“We had to adjust our schedule because of the weather, but the 52nd annual Livestock Show and Sale of Champions was another successful one thanks the Aldine community’s unwavering support,” he said. “We can’t thank our community enough for the continued support they show to our hard-working students. We had another successful show because so many people and groups made a special effort to support our students as buyers.”
The final tally was $176,650. More money will be coming in when the district holds the Art Auction and Breakfast, which has to be postponed due to the ice story. Last year’s auction generated $8,000.
The money raised by AISD ag students is theirs to use for college scholarships or to fund future FFA projects during the 2011-12 school year.
Nimitz High junior Tyler Kelch raised the grand champion steer for the second consecutive year. His steer was purchased by A Contact Electric Rentals, LP, for $16,000. The reserve grand champion steer was raised by Michaela Tennyson of Nimitz High raised the reserve grand champion steer. First Construction Group purchased it for $8,000.
Kelch also raised the grand champion pig. It was purchased by the Superintendent’s Group for $7,250. Treyvion Johnson of Eisenhower High raised the reserve grand champion pig. It was purchased by the Eisenhower Vertical Group for $5,250.
The grand champion goat was raised by JaWaun Taylor of Aldine High. It was purchased by the Aldine Vertical Group for $5,500. The reserve grand champion goat was raised by Geary Evans of Nimitz High. It was purchased by the Operation Director’s Group for $3,700.
The grand champion lamb was raised by Taylor Palermo of Nimitz High. It was purchased by A Contact Electric Rentals, LP for $4,750. The reserve grand champion lamb was raised by Ashley Rodriguez of Nimitz High. It was purchased by AXA Equitable for $2,750.
The grand champion turkey was raised by Damaris Palacios of Nimitz High. It was purchased by the Aldine Buyer’s Group for $4,750. The reserve grand champion turkey was raised by Johnson of Eisenhower High. It was purchased by Beasley Tire Service, Inc. for $2,600.
The grand champion turkey hen was raised by Taylor of Aldine High. It was purchased by C and M Machining for $3,000.
The grand champion broilers were raised by Kelch of Nimitz High. They were purchased by A Contact Electric Rentals, Inc. for $3,750. The reserve grand champion broilers were raised by Palermo of Nimitz High. They were purchased by the Nimitz Vertical Group for $1,800.
The grand champion fryer rabbits were raised by Jaizel Juarez of MacArthur High. They were purchased by the MacArthur Vertical Group for $3,750.
The grand champion horticulture project was produced by Kelch of Nimitz High. It was purchased by the Nimitz Vertical Group for $4,100. The reserve grand champion horticulture project was produced by Brandon Alcala of Nimitz High. It was purchased by the Nimitz Vertical Group for $1,800.
The scholarship cake was produced by the MacArthur High FFA and was purchased by the MacArthur Vertical Group for $1,300. The runner-up scholarship cake was produced by the Nimitz high FFA and was purchased by the Nimitz Vertical Group for $1,400.

East Aldine District studies area expansion, delays work on Aldine-Westfield intersections

NORTHEAST– Directors of the East Aldine District met last Tuesday evening, and took action on several projects within their District.
Due to the City of Houston’s plans to repave all of Aldine-Westfield’s two lanes, the District delayed action on its projects to widen and improve intersections with left turn lanes, at A-W and Aldine-Bender, Lauder, Bertrand, and Hopper. The engineering firm, Montgomery and Barnes, recommended that the District wait until overlay paving was complete before the District committed this money. However, due to the urgency of improvements at Lauder, they recommended that maintenance funds be used for minor widening work there.

In the financial report from accountant Jack Roland, it was noted that the economy seemed to be improving, and that receipts from the sales tax were $342,783 last month, an increase of 21% from the previous year in January.
The District continued its commitment to improvements in water and sewer lines, with payments to Harris County for work in Zone 11 east of US59.
In other board business, discussion ensued regarding the need to charge a uniform sales tax throughout the district. Since some areas are still paying 7 1/4 percent, a sales tax vote will be required in the near future. This is primarily the area east of US59, according to the Executive Director, David Hawes.
The District is considering annexation of three new areas, and will request action from the State Legislature to permit this to happen. Executive Director Hawes pointed out the areas on a map for the benefit of the board and the public. They will include two small tracts north of Aldine Bender, one extending to Greens Road, the other to Houston’s airport jurisdiction. The third area will be the Colonial Hills subdivision.
Hawes said that inclusion of these areas will allow EAD to have control of two flood control basins, Lauder Road Basin and Aldine-Westfield Basin, which can be developed into park areas. Federal airport funds will also be available for these basins. Some additional sales tax revenue may also be collected.

Laura Bush visits Aldine’s Stovall Middle School

Former First Lady Laura Bush announced the second education initiative of the George W. Bush Institute at AldineISD Stovall Middle School on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.
The program called‘Middle School Matters” will target middle school students to success at a college level. About 400 people were present to listen to Mrs. Bush introducing the program, including a group of Aldine ISD Board Trustees, Superintendent Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Dr. Terry Grier, Houston ISD Superintendent, Aldine ISD administrators, members of President Bush’s education policy institute, and Stovall Middle School students and staff.
“This is a great standing school to announce this initiative; this school district, Aldine school district was the 2009 BROAD prize winner in urban education, and it’s a very prestigious award, I congratulate you,” said Former First Lady Laura Bush.

“The George W. Bush Institute’s newest education Initiative that we are announcing here today at Stovall is ‘Middle School Matters.’ The vision of Aldine ISD is ‘to produce the nation’s best,’ and we are represented here today in the students who are with us, in our staff, in our leadership team at Stovall Middle School; we have some of the nation’s best students and educators representing the great ideals,” said Dr. Wanda Bamberg, Aldine ISD Superintendent. “In Aldine we are all about serving students and serving staff to support them in the important work of improving student achievement.”
The Middle School Matters program is designed to help middle school students struggling with classes, to provide them with the skills needed to be more prepared once they reach high school, and that way instead of dropping high school, they could get their diploma.
“Our goal is to produce practical, measurable results working with exceptional partners; about 1/3 of students do not graduate from high school in 4 years and 7,000 kids drop out of high school every day,” said Ambassador James Glassman, member of the George W. Bush Institute. “And the way to change the situation is by concentrating on middle school.”
During the presentation of this new initiative program, remarks about how a good education during middle school is so important for students was the primary topic. “Middle School education is a critical time for students to see if they are prepared for high school and thelife after that. To succeed, we know we need to reach students during these critical school years, between 6th and 8th grade there is a great opportunity to elevate students’ reading skills, to strengthen their writing abilities and to help them catch up in math,” said Mrs. Bush.
According to Ambassador James Glassman, researchers have shown that middle school is the best time to correct a student’s achievement problems, and that this program has been created to dramatically increase the numbers of students who enter high school ready for success.“Middle School Matters is a comprehensive research based program applied to middle schools, the Bush Institute has brought together a team of top education researchers and practitioners from across the country,” said Mrs. Bush.This research team analyzed the keyfactors in middle school achievement and determined that 11 elements distinguish outstanding middle schools: school leadership, effective teachers, reading and reading interventions, mathematics and mathematics interventions, writing and writing interventions, learning and cognitive science, advanced reasoning, data and use of data to improve instruction and learning, dropoutprevention, extended learning and school, student, family and community support.
Dr. Bamberg gave thanks to Mrs. Bush and to all members of the George W. Bush Institute “for this opportunity to be part of the celebration.” To end the presentation, Mrs. Bush stated “Every child in the United States deserves a quality education, so they can become responsible and productive citizens in life.”

Judge makes “Safe Haven” injunction permanent around Haverstock Hills

Local law enforcement, which stepped up their presence at the suspected crime-haven Haverstock Hills Apartments, now have a never-before tried method to rid the area of crime— civil penalties which create a “safe haven” around the complex, and ban 47-known gang members from entering the area.
In November 2010 Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos filed a public nuisance lawsuit against 33 “known members” of the Crips and Blood gangs. The injunction prohibits them from congregating in a 57-acre area near Aldine Bender and Lee Road, which includes the 700-unit Haverstock Hills apartment complex. Since then 14 more gang members have been added to the list.
Lykos said the apartment facility has become a center of crime and gang activity. She added that through the injunction she hopes to keep gang members out of the area, thereby causing crime to drop.

“The apartment management is doing its best, but gangsters are swarming the perimeters,” said Lykos. “Elementary school kids are seen flashing gang signs and wearing gang colors. No longer will the people in Haverstock have to walk the gauntlet of gangsters, prostitutes or other criminal activity. We’ve drawn a line in the sand.”
The judge has also ordered the gang members to repay the county $70,000 in prosecution and court costs.
Of the 47 gang members identified, 28 have voluntarily agreed to the ban. The other 19 have will be on law enforcement’s watch list.
Under the judge’s ruling, the zone has no expiration date. The $70,000 repayment is in effect for 20 years.
A first for Harris County
This was the first injunction of its type to be filed in Harris County.
Under the injunction, deputies have the authority to arrest on sight any of those named in the court document, even if they are not in the process of committing another offense.
The penalty for violating the injunction, a Class A Misdemeanor, can be up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Harris County not alone with problem
While the injunction is the first of its kind in Harris County, other cities have similar anti-gang initiatives. Among these are a 9 p.m. curfew for known gang members, banning known gang members from possessing a cell phone in a vehicle and the prohibiting the wearing of known gang colors.
The cities of Bryan, El Paso, Fort Worth and San Antonio have also created “gang safety zones” similar to the one Harris County is proposing.
In 2006 San Francisco enacted a “civil gang injunction” targeting five “safety zones.” The City of Oakland soon followed suit. According to the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, they have seen the percentage of identified gang members arrested for non-injunction offenses drop from 41% in 2007 to 14% in 2010.
Although challenges to the injunctions have been, appellate courts in Texas and California have upheld the injunctions.

Economic Forum: North Houston economy improving

The 5th Annual North Houston Economic Forum was held last Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Greenspoint. Host for the Forum was the Houston Intercontinental Chamber, the North Houston Economic Development Council, and the East Aldine Management District.
This annual Forum is meant to give local businesses a report on current and future economic conditions, to use in their own financial planning. The Forum was chaired by Kirby Sanford of Comerica Bank.

There were three morning sessions, with seminars on special topics. At lunch, the keynote speakers gave their reports on economic conditions in the North Houston area and the city and state in general.
The first morning session was conducted by Charla Lovelace of, speaking on Electronic Human Resources. After that Michelle Thiebaut of the Texas Workforce Commission spoke on Skills Development funding by the state.
The second session was presented by Don Ball of Lone Star College’s Small Business Development Center, on surviving in today’s business climate. Then C. J. Coolidge, of Administaff, presented a talk on our multi-generational business world.
The third morning session was a presentation by a special agent of the FBI, Noel Due, speaking on how to prevent Cyber Crime.
The luncheon sessions started with a welcome and overview by Reggie Gray, president of the Houston Intercontinental Chamber.
This was followed by a short presentation by the Executive Director of the North Houston Economic Development Council, Cathy Owen, speaking about economic activities and interests from businesses that are investigating relocating or expanding in the North Houston area. Owen said that there had been 20 inquiries in the year since NHEDC started, with 5 serious responses.
One of the keynote speakers was Patrick Jankowski, economist and regional v.p of research for the Greater Houston Partnership. He indicated that the Business Cycle in Houston was on an “upswing of recovery.”
Some of the indicators that Jankowski uses include the PMI, or Purchasing Managers Index, and the Rig Count. These both have positive counts, he said.
About jobs, Jankowski noted that during the recent recession, Houston did not lose jobs in Healthcare or Oil & Gas exploration. However, jobs were lost in manufacturing, heavy construction, and employment services. In the last 12 months, 13,200 jobs have been added, and he forecasts from 18,000 to 40,000 new jobs in 2011 for the Houston region.
He said that other strong recovery indicators were the Customs District Traffic, up 23% since November 2008, and the global economy. He expects that the Houston economy will double in the next 25 years.
Larry McManus of the State Economic Development office was the second keynote speaker. He started by noting the growth of population in Texas, now at 25,000,000 and growing by 1000 people per day. He said that in 2010 the state added 238,000 new jobs.
Quoting Governor Perry, “Texas is a state where a Dream can be put to Work.” He recommended the audience look at a state website: www.texas and also
McManus spoke about a number of initiatives the state has to encourage businesses, both new and existing. The DER is Domestic Expansion and Recruitment, Texas One for business marketing, Texas Economic Development Bank, Emerging Technology Fund, and Texas Enterprise Fund. The latter provides grants to expanding businesses with 100 or more employees, and since 2003 has created 56,771 new jobs. More information on all of these are available through his office.
A question and answer session followed, focused specifically on North Houston. Answers noted some of the area’s strengths: a good business climate, available class A office space, proximity to the airport, connections to global economies and markets, and anticipated growth at ports due to expansion of the Panama Canal and west coast labor problems.

North Forest ISD off state TEA probation status

HOUSTON—The 2009-2010 accreditation status for North Forest ISD has been raised one level higher to “Accredited-Warned” from “Accredited-Probation.”
North Forest ISD was placed on Accredited-Probation in 2007-2008 and again in 2008-2009 for what the TEA described as “serious and systemic problems” in its financial management and academic performance.
However, the current accreditation status indicates progress in resolving those issues.
“The new status places the district one step closer to a fully-accredited status,” said NFISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Adrain Johnson.
In the letter assigning the 2009-2010 accreditation status to the district, Associate Commissioner Laura Taylor wrote “the agency acknowledges improvements made by the district related to its special education program and academic performance at its elementary and middle school campuses.”
Six of the district’s eight rated campuses are “Recognized” in the 2010 academic accountability system, and North Forest ISD continues to implement plans and procedures to improve its financial standing. The TEA also expressed continued concern regarding “certain financial and academic issues at the district.”
“We understand those concerns,” Dr. Johnson said. “District administrators and staff are aware of the challenges NFISD faces. We have put plans and programs in place to address issues, and we will continue to search for and implement proven techniques and best practices that will ultimately help elevate the district to a fully-accredited status. We certainly have more work to do, but our current accreditation assignment acknowledges the improvement that has been made. It indicates that our district is moving forward.”

Vicente Fox, Ex-President of México visits Greenspoint area on trade mission

By Julieta Paita
Northeast News

GREENSPOINT – Vicente Fox, Ex-president of Mexico visited Greenspoint area last Thursday, February 3, 2011 to support expansion of small mexican companies such as Contact Line here in Houston.
Fox visited Contact Line, a new Mexican-owned call center in Greenspoint’s Hispanic Business Center located at the 1200 block of Northborough Drive.
“The commitment of Centro Fox is to build bridges between two, or better say three great nations: Canada, United States and Mexico decided to associate, we are neighbors and we are friends and through NAFTA we are comming with this chapter. Mexico imports products and services more than or equally to France, Germany, Italy and Brittany do together. We are a solid partner of this great nation, and we account for hundres of thousands, millions of jobs with US citizens through our imports,” said Vicente Fox, Ex-president of Mexico.

“The dream of Mexican entrepreneurs is looking for opportunities in jobs and Alejandro has that vision, Alejandro has that wisdom to put together the energy, the resources from Mexico and the United States to create those opportunities,” said Fox.
Alejandro Del Valle is the CEO of the Business Hispanic Center and owner of Contact Line.
“As the Mexico’s ecomony grows, more companies are expanding outside their border. At the Greenspoint District is positioning itself to become a magnet for international and Mexican investment,” said Jack Drake, president of Greenpoint District.
Jack Drake stated that they are partner with Mr. Del Valle.
Mr. Del Valle is the creator of the Business Hispanic Center and his plan is to help Mexican companies to get installed in the United States. The plan is to “bring 300 entrepreneurs who are going to generate employment, will pay taxes, and will generate health, but they also want to sell their products in this country,” said Del Valle. “We now have a compromise with the District and the city for the help they have provided, and with ex-president Vicente Fox to promote small business as he as always done.”

Aldine ISD State of the District “It was a year of challenges”

By Gilbert Hoffman
Northeast News
The Aldine ISD held their annual “State of the District” breakfast last Friday morning, January 28, with a slide presentation by Superintendent Wanda Bamberg to the hundreds of educators, business partners, and community leaders that attended.
This was a review of the 2009/2010 school year, and a look ahead at the 2010/2011 year and the budget problems that will be faced this school year and next, as the Texas Legislature is currently meeting, with school financing high on their agenda.
Bamberg noted that the district has grown from 62,796 students to 63,151 but also said that except for the far north sections of the district, growth has eased from previous years.

Bamberg said that attendance rates were high at 95.5% average. The district is now 69.1 percent Hispanic, 2.2% white, 26.2% African-American, and 1.4% Asian, Native and other.
There were many accomplishments to take note of, including the 2009 Broad Prize for Urban Districts. 55 graduating students received scholarships from this award alone, and of the 2850 graduates, over 1000 earned academic and athletic scholarships toward additional education, totalling $15 million dollars. In general, academic scores were up, and Aldine students outperformed their counterparts across the state of Texas on most TAKS categories. 31 campuses were rated as Exemplary by the state, and 29 rated Recognized status she said.
Bamberg noted that the district was able to open a new EC/PK school and a middle school, but budget constraints have delayed some new buildings. In addition, a recommended tax increase to offset reduced state funding was defeated in 2010. This led Bamberg to discuss cuts in the budget that have already been made (see exhibit) and to talk about additional cuts she will recommend to the board for the next two school years. Last school year cuts amounted to $25 million. Depending upon actions of the Legislature, which are not known at this time, additional cuts are anticipated in programs, personnel, and facilities. She also did not rule out another future tax election.
Bamberg outlined Objectives for 2010-2011, in Academics, Behavior, Feedback from the parents and community, Financial Solvency, and Management of Assets efficiently.
As the Legislature decides on school financing, she noted that 62% of the district’s revenue comes from the state, with 37% local funds and 2% federal. The district’s 2010-2011 budget is $455 million dollars. If the Legislature cuts funding as currently being considered, the district could lose as much as $39 to $65 million, Bamberg said.