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Posts published in “Channels – Letters To The Editor”

Support the 100 Club

To The Editor,

I want to express my condolences to the families of Harris County Precinct 3 Deputy Robert Clenney and Baytown Police Sergeant George Edmund Drude.

Our community has experienced a great loss of two dedicated peace officers. As a life member of the Houston 100 Club, it seems that all too often I get notices of peace officers being killed and details of the loved ones left behind. The families are devastated not only emotionally but financially as well.

The loss of these men is a tragedy that must be dealt with and those of us who are able to help can do so by making contributions to funds set up by Constable Ken Jones’ office (281 427 4792) and the Baytown Police Department (281 422 8371).

I would also encourage you to join and support the Houston 100 Club or make a donation to the Survivor’s Fund. The address is The 100 Club, Inc., 1233 West Loop South, Suite 1250, Houston, Texas 77027. Please keep these families in your prayers.

Don Coffey

Take PRIDE in North Forest ISD

Dear Key Communicator:

I have an important issue I want to share with the community. On April 28, 2009, North Forest ISD had to cancel school because standing water caused by inclement weather conditions and drainage problems made some of the roadways along the bus routes unsafe. The North Forest High School campus encountered leaks that resulted in the high school’s closure. While the conditions for some campuses were not as critical, canceling classes across the District was the best option for safety and uniformity. I want to thank parents, the NFISD transportation department, administrators and staff at our campuses for making the dismissal process as efficient as possible.

While this incident was unfortunate, it has served to bring an important matter to the forefront. The rainstorms were heavy, but they were not catastrophic. Our schools could have remained open if drainage systems in our area worked better; and any avoidable event that interferes with the education of our students is unacceptable.

On behalf of the entire North Forest community, I have been and will continue to call on city, county and state officials to make them aware of the District’s pressing needs and the needs of the larger community.

I have requested that available resources be directed to address necessary repairs to drainage systems in the area.

I have also taken a similar course of action as it relates to the heating and cooling issues at some of our campuses.

NFISD administration and staff are working to prioritize District needs and address those that we can within our budget constraints. Still, this will not solve this problem entirely, and I need your help. I need every North Forest resident to take PRIDE-a Personal Responsibility in the District’s Environment.

Many of the drainage problems throughout the community could be lessened with the removal of debris and litter from storm drains and ditches. Both the City of Houston and Harris County have ordinances that make illegal dumping and littering crimes. If the only way to stop illegal dumping, which can and will eventually clog our drainage systems and cause blight in our community, is to crack down on offenders with criminal charges and fines, I will advocate for that approach for the benefit of our students. We will do all we can to ensure that our children learn m a safe environment. However, I believe that if everyone takes PRIDE in the District and the community, we will achieve our goals. For example, these simple steps can help alleviate some of the drainage issues:

• Do not block any part of the drainage system including ditches, culverts or the drains themselves.

• Do not dump any material into a drainage system.

• Report illegal dumping if you see it in your community.

• Do not litter. Remember this school district and community belongs to all of us. If we don’t take PRIDE in it, we can’t expect others to.

Dr. Adrain Johnson
North Forest ISD
Superintendent of Schools

A sincere “Thank You” from a mother’s heart

I wish to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the men and women of the sheriff’s department, most especially those patrolling Bertrand St. and surrounding areas.

While very professional they were also kind and considerate towards my son Ernest Aranda. Through the years Ernest was dropped off at home by these thoughtful officers who saw beyond his appearance into his human dignity.

These public servants of the law are to be commended. But on the contrary they are hardly appreciated.

I also wish to thank the fire chief and all the men of the fire department for the professionalism of the water rescuers in retrieving the body of my son Ernest Aranda from Halls Bayou on March 26, 2009.

I also wish to thank Harris County Care Unit ESD1 from Isom St. for on several occasions they transported Ernest to the hospital.

I use the word “servant’ with all due respect for all these people daily take their lives in their hands in order to help or serve others.

Last but not least I wish to thank the officer for his personal donation towards my son Ernest’s funeral.

With sincere thankfulness
Ernest Aranda’s Mother
Linda A. McLoughlin

A smile is the same in any language

By Juanita Wigginton

“A smile is the same in any language.” I do not know the origin of this phrase. My question to the reader is, “Do you believe it?” I did. It was a philosophy I lived. Be friendly and others will be friendly. Lately an incident occurred that has me questioning the validity of such a statement and whether one can truly believe it.

Returning from my weekly Krogering trip I stopped for a red light. From the corner of my eye I caught sight of an elderly mother pushing a cumbersome grocery cart filled with laundry. It was easy to see that the buggy had a mind of its own and was bent on making the mother struggle. I have pushed a few baskets around various markets myself and am all too familiar with the difficulty involved in maneuvering some of them even in the store. I could only imagine what this bent, old woman was going through pushing the cart over cracked sidewalks, pavement and lawns.

I quickly turned the corner to see if I could help. As I stopped the car the basket turned over spilling laundry and nearly bringing the lady down. I rushed to help. The look on that mother’s face when she turned to see me was a blow straight to my heart. It both staggered me and stopped me in my tracks. No one had ever looked at me in that way. Raw fear covered her face. It made me nauseous because I realized she was afraid of me! I tried smiling and telling her I wanted to help but she didn’t speak my language and I did not speak hers. My smiles and gestures were futile.

Like a crazed animal she hurriedly scooped her clothes from the ground and righted the basket. In a flash she was off not looking or caring where she was going. I stood there stunned and helpless watching her. Then I realized she did not intend to stop at the intersection although the light might be against her. “Mother,” I screamed! “Come back! “Wait!” But if my words had been futile before they seemed even more so now. Aldine Mail Route is such a busy road. I held my breath and watched in horror as she pushed the buggy out into the intersection, never looking any direction but straight ahead. She was going to the Laundromat across the street. I have no doubt that God above was looking out for this lady because traffic was lighter than usual and she escaped injury.

With moist eyes and a heavy heart I returned to my car. I realized that if the lady had been hit and killed it would have been as much my fault as the one who hit her. I had only wanted to help and my smile meant nothing to her. So, I wonder, is a smile really the same in every language? Or, should I have minded my own business?

I understand that articles such as this demand a solution but I cannot offer one. I only know that if the opportunity presented itself again I would no doubt react in the same way.

Condolences for HFD fire fighters’ families, department

State Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement regarding the deaths of Houston firefighters Captain James Harlow and Mr. Damion Hobbs:

“I was greatly saddened to learn of the deaths of Captain James Harlow and Mr. Damion Hobbs of the Houston Fire Department. The City of Houston and the Houston Fire Department suffered a great loss, and I join them in mourning Captain Harlow and Mr. Hobbs. I am keeping the Hobbs family, the Harlow family and the Houston Fire Department in my prayers.”

Slow down in Aldine

To the community,

My dad was in an automobile on Bentley and Bertrand April 4, having just returned from having a grand time at his granddaughter’s baby shower and coming back from Bingo at Dance Town USA where he works part time.

He was having problems with his car, when he crossed Bertrand a car not going the speed limit hit him knocking him in a ditch. Luckily finding his glasses the next instant was a sign he’s hopefully all right.

Please slow down in Aldine.

– The family of a loved one

HCC should annex North Forest ISD

By Elvin Franklin

Over the past few years, North Forest has been challenged by a number of changes to the community. The most significant change affecting our community is the education of our children. Gone are the days of every North Forest school bustling with kids, only to be replaced with empty reminders of what once was, sprinkled throughout the community. We all can remember the cheers from packed football games that echoed North Forest pride throughout the community. Now, there’s no Forest Brook or Smiley High School.

Sure, the district has had its share of troubles, but we cannot forget the children and grandchildren who are still there. Although I am retired and do not have school-aged children, I am still concerned about the kids in my community. The dropout rate and loss of students to other school districts is heartbreaking. For students who stay and graduate, if they cannot attend a university, they are forced to pay twice the amount in tuition at the community college because they are out-of-district. Our kids deserve the same opportunities provided by other school districts.

When I hear about Early College High Schools and bridge programs linked to higher education, I ask, what about North Forest? Well, it is evident that the school district cannot do it alone. As parents and community members, we must do something. What, you ask? The time is right to partner with higher education.

For years our community has discussed the possibility of being annexed by Houston Community College. Personally, I believe the time to act is now. A partnership with HCC and North Forest could only be a win-win for the community. Not only would tuition be cut in half for North Forest students attending HCC, but the North Forest School District would benefit as well. If the district were annexed, NFISD could gain an Early College High School, more dual credit offerings, college prep classes, high-tech vocational training, GED and ESL, and college courses offered in the community. This is the kind of educational support that is needed in North Forest.

A college in our community can help our school district lower dropout rates and improve graduation rates. It also adds value to the community as a whole. The college has the ability to provide specialized training and partnerships that can help small businesses. As a business and community leader, I have witnessed other communities and school districts benefit from being a part of a college district. How long are we going to stand by with our eggs in one basket? We can attempt to change our community by simply signing a petition.

Currently, the North Forest community is holding a petition drive to ask Houston Community College to call an election in November on whether to annex North Forest ISD. I strongly support this effort for the many reasons. First, young people in our community wanting to attend HCC will no longer be discouraged by the out-of-district fees. The cost of tuition would drop from $104 per credit to $57 per credit hour, making it more affordable for them to attend college. Second, the overall benefits mentioned earlier and the potential to provide training for adults wanting to enter the workforce.

I know that many of you are saying, this is great, but it is going to cost us. Yes, annexation does come with a price, but a small price in comparison to the return on the investment. The HCC tax rate is $.092, about nine cents per $100 valuation and much lower than neighboring college districts. The senior exemption is $90,000, which means a large number of North Forest seniors will not see a tax increase at all. Even though I do not have children in school or college, I believe annexation is good for our community.

If the foundation of education is strong, then our community is strengthened. I believe the education of our community is everyone’s responsibility. That’s why I am signing the petition and will vote for annexation. I hope you will, too.

NFISD is not affiliated with NEET group

Dear Editor,
The article titled “Former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige Speaks at North Forest” which appeared in the Vol. 16. No. 12, December 2007 edition and which dealt with the formation of a community-based group dedicated to helping NFISD meet the challenges currently facing the District raised some points that need clarification. While it is noted that the District welcomes individuals and groups who want to be of assistance to NFISD the following information should also be noted:
The North East Education First (NEEF) organization has no official ties to NFISD, nor has it been given any authorization to represent itself as an NFISD-affiliated group.

As the Vice-President of the NFISD, I did not receive a timely invitation to attend, the most recent meeting of the NEEF, however, several members of NEEF made reference to the fact that no Board members were in attendance, but did not mention that Board members have been present at several of the previous meetings. Additionally, it should be noted that the absence of the Board members was not a concerted action in response to the lack of an invitation, but that many were in attendance at other school-related functions and prior engagements within and outside of the District.
The aforementioned article also featured a photo of Dr. Rod Paige and other attendees. Some of the other attendees in the photo were concerned that the Board had not attended. However, after speaking with me, they realized that the promotions and sinage (sic) presented by NEEF was misleading. The Board is honored to see that Dr. Paige was visiting our community and that he voiced concern about our schools. We regret, however, that the organization which he addressed, inaccurately advertised its program, as an NFISD-sponsored function rather than as a community group-based event utilizing the District’s facility by request.
The Board is concerned that, if wee are to move forward as collaborators for the welfare of the community, it is important that each entity accurately defines its mission and role and clearly communicates these to all concerned.
Allen Provost,
Vice-President NFISD Board of Trustees