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Mayor and County Judge announce final round of Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund grants

HOUSTON – The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund is disbursing its final round of grants for aid and services to local flood victims, bringing the total of distributed charitable donations to $113.6 million to assist about 190,000 households through 124 experienced and carefully selected non-profit organizations.

The fifth and final round of $3 million is going to 17 non-profits groups that will provide furniture, cash assistance and other basic needs and case management to qualified victims.

The Fund was established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in 2017 to provide immediate, medium and long-term disaster relief. It is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

“The effects of Harvey will be felt for years to come,” added County Judge Ed Emmett. “These local nonprofit grantees have strong track records of supporting our communities. We’re confident that they can make a real difference in the longer term.”

“It’s been over a year since Harvey, but there is still work that needs to be done to help people get back on their feet,” Mayor Turner said. “This last round of funding strengthens our communities and supports recovery across the city.”


Mattress Mack provides free Turkey dinners to families

Jim “Mattress Mack” (left), along with Astros stars Alex Bregman and Max Stassi, provided Thanksgiving meals for needy families.

About 500 turkeys were distributed to families in need on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Gallery Furniture location on 6006 North Freeway.

“It’s part of our continuing responsibility for the well-being of the community and having Alex here just makes it that much better. People like him. He’s a very likable guy, great ballplayer and a great role model for all of us,” Mattress Mack said.


Eastex Fire Dept. sends help to combat California wildfires

EASTEX FIREFIGHTERS that went to California to help fight wildfires included, L to R, EO Jeremy Shaw, Capt. Mark Houge, EO Matthew Horrigan, and Capt. Justin DuBois.

A tired group of four firefighters from the Eastex Fire Department returned to Houston last Wednesday, after 10 days in California and on the road, helping contain the blazes ravaging the state.

The Eastex department was one of 40 departments from Texas, involving 200 firefighters, that traveled to California as part of a national “mutual aid” system administered by the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Departments that participated in a convoy from Katy to Los Angeles included Eastex, Baytown, Conroe, Forest Bend, Fulshear-Simonton, Galveston, Needham, New Waverly, Porter, Webster, and Willis.

The Eastex crew was assigned to the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, northwest of Los Angeles.


Castlewood Civic Club elects new Officers

Newly voted-in officers of the Castlewood Civic Club. Pictured are Secretary Judy de la Garza, left, and former Secretary Carmen Schnur, right.

By Connie Esparza

CASTLEWOOD – Despite the low turnout on November 8, 2018 at Bethel Community Church, elections were held in order to keep the civic club in an active status. Voted in results were Connie Esparza, President; Judy de la Garza, Secretary; Alex V. Ríos, Treasurer; and Ciprano (Cip) Ramon, Advisor. Former secretary, Carmen Schnur, graciously agreed to help in the transition of the new secretary. As we move forward, the Board will be looking to fill the vacant positions of Vice President and Assistant Secretary through appointment. Stay tuned as the Board continues to work together to improve our subdivision.

288 New apartments proposed for Aldine

NORTHWOOD APARTMENTS is planned for family units of low-rent housing, with 12 buildings similar to this early design. The project site is the corner of the Eastex Freeway and Hamill Road.

Community raises concerns at public meeting

ALDINE – LDG Development, a national apartment builder of low rent housing, has announced their plans to build 288 units on a site in Aldine at the corner of the Eastex Freeway and Hamill Road. The property is currently owned by the Greater Pure Light church, who have decided to sell the land and not to build a new building there.

A representative from LDG Development, Dru Childre, has been meeting with local entities last week to advise them of the project, and arrange for schools and utilities to accommodate the project.

At a public meeting held last Thursday at the High Meadows library, Childre showed slides of the designs and explained the amenities and the plan for managing the apartments. Also present at the meeting were representatives of the Harris County Housing Authority, including their CEO Horace Allison.

About 25 local citizens attended the meeting, and many of them expressed concerns about the impact that the project will have on the neighborhood.

Questions were raised about how the project would be managed, to avoid crime such as characterizes the Haverstock Hills apartments, and poor maintenance as can be seen at the Pine Village townhouses. Both of these projects, and several similar ones, are located close to the site.

Marina Suggs, a former resident of Pine Village, said she chose to move away due to the problems at the project that were not corrected and getting worse. Shirley Reed recounted a similar project, Fairgreen, proposed for a site on JFK a few years ago, which was stopped when the community objected to more subsidized rent apartments. State Representative Armando Walle told the Northeast News that the Legislature enacted a law which allows a local representative to object to a project in his district, and effectively cancel it.

In this case LDG Development has gone to great lengths to answer these concerns, and provide an attractive, well managed and safe project for the community. (more…)


Best Booth Award was won by Castlewood Civic Clubs United.

The East Aldine District combined its Fall Festival with Brookside’s Day of the Dead ceremony last Saturday, and hundreds attended the event. The Festival included live entertainment, food trucks, games for adults and kids, a raffle, face painting, and a kids costume contest. To mark the Fall season, free trees were given out by Centerpoint Energy and the East Aldine District.

The Day of the Dead ceremony, or “Dia De Los Muertos” included a reading by Father Xavier Aponte, dancing by the Mexteca Ballet Folklorico, and culminated with the Celebration of Life Ceremony, with Father Aponte blessing the images of departed family members on display.

More pictures below, and in the print edition. (more…)

Annual AISD State of District / AEF Breakfast

Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney delivers remarks as members of her Student Ambassador Group look on during Aldine ISD’s State of the District/AEF Breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 1.

On Nov. 1, Aldine ISD held its annual State of the District/AEF (Aldine Education Foundation) Breakfast at the Hilton Houston North Hotel. This year’s event was the first for Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney, who was named Aldine ISD Superintendent of Schools in April.

Members of Dr. Goffney’s Student Ambassador Group led the presentation and provided information on the district. The breakfast also served as the kickoff for AEF fund campaign.

AEF President Richard Cantu spoke on behalf of the Foundation.

Blanson CTE student Ariana Lopes Rodriguez opened the breakfast by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Texas flag. The colors were presented by the Davis High School ROTC.

Victory Early College High School student Carolyn Garcia introduced members of the Aldine Board of Trustees who attended the event, Dr. Goffney and members of her Executive Leadership Team. She also introduced elected officials who attended, which included State Reps Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle, and Houston City Council member Jerry Davis.

The audience was then treated to a performance by the All-District Choir, under the direction of Daryle Freeman, choir director of Davis High School.

Davis High School student Sandra Garcia introduced AEF Board members and district stakeholders, which included students, parents and grandparents, business partner, community partners, and nonprofit and education partners.

Board Vice-President Paul Shanklin delivered the invocation and after breakfast, Cantu delivered remarks on behalf of AEF.

“Each year since 2012, the Aldine Education Foundation has joined Aldine ISD at this breakfast event to celebrate the successes of the previous school year and to learn how we as a Foundation can continually increase support for bigger, future successes,” he said.

He explained the Foundation focuses its support in two major areas, scholarships for graduating AISD seniors and teaching grants to support educator excellence.

Cantu said in the fall of 2017, AEF awarded 13 teacher grants totaling $60,268. In the spring of 2018, AEF awarded $66,000 to 80 outstanding educators to thank them for their dedication to the district’s students.

Also in the spring of 2018, Cantu said AEF awarded $412,000 in competitive scholarships to 126 Aldine ISD students. AEF also informed 88 ninth through 12th graders across 11 campuses that they would receive their part of $30,000 in scholarship funding upon their graduation. Those students earned grades of 95 or higher in every class during the 2017-18 school year.

“This district needs and deserves our support,” Cantu said. “This is why the AEF Board builds assistance across this generous community. We believe in the students and staff of Aldine ISD, and we hope you will join us to support their continued successes.”


Lone Star College announces scholarships for students from underserved communities

Lone Star College students and officials celebrate the announcement of the LSC Promise Firsts Scholarship program. Pictured (left to right): LSC graduate Jesús Contreras; Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor; Alton Smith, Ed.D., LSC Board of Trustees chair; LSC graduate Rachel Perez; Massey Villarreal, LSC Foundation Board director; Mario K. Castillo, LSC chief operating officer & general counsel.

HOUSTON (Oct. 26, 2018) – Students living in communities that traditionally lack resources to succeed now have an opportunity for a brighter future thanks to the Lone Star College Promise Firsts Scholarship program.

“I am very proud that Lone Star College can now provide additional scholarships specifically designed to help lift students from these communities through higher education,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor.

Eight donors pledged a total of $250,000 for the fund and another $250,000 in matching dollars will be provided through Lone Star College Foundation from the Chancellor’s discretionary fund.

The LSC Promise Firsts Scholarship program will be made available to qualifying first-generation students to go to college, first-time-in-college, and first responders. A first-generation college student is defined as a student whose parents have not attended college. A student who has never attended a postsecondary college or university is considered a first-time-in-college student.

“To the donors who have helped out, I would like to say thank you,” said Racheal Cummings, LSC graduate. “My experience at Lone Star College was amazing. I have met so many people who have helped me on my journey and have learned so much.”

The eight donors include Magdalena and Tony Grijalva; H-E-B.; Alex and Cathy Lopez Negrete, Lopez Negrete Communications; George and Kathryn Martinez; Paula Mendoza, Possible Missions; Monty & Ramirez, LLP; Saul and Lisa Valentin; and Massey Villarreal. The LSC Promise Firsts program is scheduled to begin fall 2019.

“I am grateful to these individuals who have joined me in supporting our community,” said Saul Valentin, LSC Foundation Board of Directors chair. “This investment in the future of these students will pay dividends for many years to come.”


Dr. Archie Blanson honored at dedication ceremony

Dr. Archie Blanson and his wife Beverly pose with Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney and members of the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees following a dedication ceremony to officially open the Dr. Archie L. Blanson Career and Technical High School. The ceremony was held on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Hundreds of family members, friends, and colleagues gathered to honor Dr. Archie Blanson for the dedication ceremony of the Dr. Archie L. Blanson Career and Technical High School on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Dr. Blanson devoted 39 years to Aldine ISD serving as a teacher, assistant director of buildings and properties, director of buildings and properties, executive director of buildings and properties, director of human resources, assistant superintendent of human resources and completed his Aldine career at the district’s deputy superintendent. In that role, Dr. Blanson oversaw AISD’s operations department.

Dr. Blanson thanked the many family members who made the trip to Houston to share in this special day and his immediate family.

“I want to recognize my wife Beverly, who has been my biggest supporter,” he said. “And I want to recognize my children, Christina, Daniel and Eric. They are my proudest accomplishment in life.”

He thanked his parents Lula and Nathan for instilling a strong ethic in he and his siblings, many of whom attended the dedication ceremony.

Dr. Blanson said education always played an important role in his life and he is glad he chose to have a career in education.

“As the son of sharecroppers, who missed a lot of school in the early years because I had to work, I had every reason not to succeed in life or in education,” Dr. Blanson said. “But instead of feeling defeated, I developed a strong thirst for education.

“Although going to college was not presented to me as an option when I was in high school, I made it an option for myself because I had very little marketable skills. So, with the help of my family I attended college. I just wanted to have options on deciding what I was going to be in life.”

He challenged the students at Blanson CTE to take advantage of the opportunities they have before them.


Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan to remain at the helm of HISD

Grenita Lathan remains as HISD Interim Superintendent.

Oct. 15, 2018 – The Houston Independent School District Board of Education announced today that Dr. Grenita Lathan will remain as the interim superintendent of HISD, the largest school district in Texas.

During a press conference at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, trustees announced that they have mutually agreed to consider the reinstatement of Dr. Lathan as interim superintendent and the rescinding of Thursday night’s vote to appoint Dr. Abelardo Saavedra to the position.

“We are committed to working together as a board for the benefit of our students, and we are unified in our efforts to build a better governance structure for our children,” HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said. “We are confident that Dr. Lathan is the right person to lead the seventh largest school district in the nation as our interim, and we thank the public for their encouragement and support.”

“We, the Board of Trustees of the Houston Independent School District, would like to apologize to Dr. Grenita Lathan, our students, the community at large, the parents and families, all HISD employees, and our business and community partners,” Trustee Diana Davila said.

“We will work to improve our behavior as adults, treat each other with respect, and embark on the right focus of doing all we can to improve academic achievement for all our students,” Trustee Jolanda Jones said.

Dr. Lathan will remain as interim superintendent of HISD while the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates conducts a national search for a permanent superintendent. Dr. Lathan will have the opportunity to apply for the permanent superintendent position.