By Gilbert Hoffman
The East Aldine District held their annual awards banquet for the first time in their new headquarters building last Thursday night. Over 100 guests, including community leaders and interested citizens, attended the gala affair. The event had special significance, because it marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the district, and its service to the Aldine community. Its original charter by the state of Texas included its stated goal of improving the Quality of Life for the residents of the area.
East Aldine’s executive director, David Hawes, served as the emcee for the evening. In his welcoming remarks, he noted the success of the District. Having started in 2001 with income from the sales tax of about $800,000, the economic growth of the District has meant that annual revenue from the sales tax now equals about $12 million dollars.
The District in turn uses this money toward achieving the original goals. Programs and activities paid for by the district include public safety, educational programs and scholarships, improved water and drainage systems, economic development, and mobility concerns such as roads, signage, lighting and sidewalks. Over the last 20 years, the District has been able to add $50 million dollars in improvements to the infrastructure of the area.
The District now serves about 60,000 persons, Hawes noted, and this has grown from 50,000 in the last 10 years. The District covers 16 square miles in unincorporated Harris County.
The Banquet ceremony covered a number of awards, commendations and certificates of appreciation from government leaders, and brief talks by officials.
Board chair Joyce Wiley made a presentation of her recollections of the growth of the District based on her early involvement in its establishment. Her talk was laced with personal recollections and warm stories of her involvement with others. Special remembrance was made of the recent passing of Gerald Overturff, board chair for many years.
Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia gave a rousing talk on the achievements he has observed and helped with in Aldine, including the large new Inclusive Park for handicapped and limited persons, opening this week at the Northeast Community Center grounds. This investment in the Aldine community amounted to over $8 million in development, he said. He also noted the nearly $50 million that the District has invested in new infrastructure, including water and sewer for areas that did not have that service.
Speaking on the successful partnership between the District and local educational organizations were Aldine ISD Superintendent LaTonya Goffney, and Lone Star College-North Houston president Archie Blanson.
The Gala event included an extensive social hour with refreshments before the main meeting, an exquisite meal catered by Cantu’s Kitchen Catering, and tours of the new East Aldine District headquarters building.