The devastation caused by Tropical Storm Allison in early June will take months, perhaps years to overcome. Throughout the city, residents are still dealing with losses, physical, financial and emotional. The good news is that, in most places, the focus now is on recovering and rebuilding.
Not in northeast Houston.
In northeast Houston, many residents are still trying to dig out from under the piles of rotting debris that line the streets in neighborhoods throughout the area.
As reported last week, Precinct 1 Commissioner El Franco Lee has cut back debris collection to two days a week. Precinct 2 Commissioner Jim Fonteno has discontinued it completely.
Why? The job is nowhere near finished.
Last week, Fontenos office told me that it was because the FEMA money to reimburse the county for debris collection had run out. That is not true.
My conversation with Ben Patterson, State Public Assistance Officer with Texas Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management Assigned to the FEMA Disaster Field Office (his title) in Austin confirmed what I learned last week from Opal Jackson: FEMA money to pick up storm debris is still available and will be for three more months.
The Commissioners dont even have to make application; they are already in the system.
My question to Jackie Grogan of Precinct 1 and David Floyd of Precinct 2 was why? If FEMA will cover 75% of the cost and the job must be done, why would the commissioners choose not to do it?
I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer.
Late last week, State Representative Kevin Baileys assistant Arlene Nichols, joined me and Opal Jackson who is a local FEMA representative, in trying to get both answers and action. We had no luck.
In Precinct 1, some debris was picked up on Thursday and Friday and it appears that Commissioner Lee is making a sincere effort to address the problem. But even he must realize that at a two-day-a-week pace, the all clear is nowhere in sight.
If you have storm debris (not construction debris and not household trash) that still needs to be picked up call Commissioner Lees office at 713-755-6111 or Commissioner Fonteno at 713-755-6220. Then call again. Set you clock and call every hour on the hour.
And, while youre on the phone, ask the commissioner why he chooses to forego the help FEMA is offering when there is still so much work to be done.
Maybe you can get an answer. I couldnt.
A new 311 service help line is expected to ease demand on the citys 911 emergency response system and eliminate hundreds of city customer service telephone numbers.
Mayor Lee Brown touted the system as a management tool to improve accountability among city workers who are asked to resolve resident citizen complaints or requests for service.
Each request or complaint will be logged and assigned to a specific city employee responsible for solving the problem or retrieving the information needed by callers, officials said.
Whats important is we can track the results and find out what has been done with that particular problem that is brought to our attention, Brown said.
Complaints about the system itself and expectations the city may raise but be unable to fulfill began to roll in even before the 311 service was officially launched last Monday.
City Councilman Mark Goldberg said he tried the system recently but found he had to wait as long as 20 minutes to get a person on the telephone.When he finally got someone, the operator was unable to give him the information he was seeking, Goldberg said.
Donald Hollingsworth, the mayors executive assistant for public safety and drug policy who is overseeing the development of the 311 system, said the delay may have been because of work on the telephone switch during last weeks soft launch.
Nonetheless, Goldberg said he thought the system will be good once the bugs are worked out.
In addition, officials hope the line will reduce the number of unnecessary 911 calls and lead to faster emergency response times.
Workers from Precinct 1 struggle to open drainage ditches at the corner of Buschong and Luthe Road beside the Morales Cemetery which has suffered repeated flooding in recent years.
Add Summer Catch to the long list forgettable movies for the year.
The by-the-numbers, cliché ridden, jock finds love and the strength within story has a few inspired moments very few but in the end its just another ho-hum summer movie.
Theres nothing here you have not seen before, unless you have never seen a sports movie. Then the story about a young local athlete (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) trying to be successful, but fighting self-destructive tendencies, family and privileged outsiders might actually have an once of originality.
Prinze plays a hot college pitcher with a bad attitude. Hes a screw up who does not think rules apply to him. His big chance to prove he can do things right comes when hes invited to participate in the Cape Code Baseball League, which is made up of college all-stars competing in front of pro scouts.
He and his friends grew up watching future big leaguers since they live on the Cape. His father (the craggy-faced Fred Ward) has a landscape business so Prinzes character has mowed the baseball field he is now playing on since he was a kid.
As with most formulaic films, there is standard group of characters. Theres a party-boy surfer played by Matthew Lillard. Brian Dennehy is a rough, gruff, but fair coach. Theres a shy virgin that is being perused by his housemother. (Can we say male fantasy?) Theres a villain who is always trying to get our hero in trouble. Theres a mean rich guy (the always efficient Bruce Davidson) who reminds Prinze that he is blue collar.
Theres an incredibly beautiful girl who falls for the hero for no valid reason. And in the mix are a couple of minorities, for good measure.
Please, baseball is a pretty mixed bag racially speaking, but theres little evidence of that in Summer Catch. Fat girls are predominately featured, though. Isnt that nice? It is strange; most of the movie makes fun of girls who actually look like they eat unlike the female star Jessica Biel but in the end one of the guys makes an impassioned speech proclaiming his desire for chunky girls. How enlightening.
There are some funny lines. Prinze is likable, even when being a jerk. The older cast is comprised of fine character actors doing more than competent work considering the script.
Too many things dont add up and what does comes off as shallow and superficial. Apparently, it is too much to ask to have real emotions and three-dimensional characters in movies this year.
Why only one scout, out of many, detects our heros talents makes no sense.
For one thing, he pitches out of the stretch all the time. Brittany Murphy appears to be his loving girlfriend at the beginning of the movie yet she steals his clothes for no good reason other than to set up a silly situation. With little explanation, she is not his girlfriend, but does attract attention from other players for her ability to pour beer without her hands.
The humor and situations range from innocent juvenile Mighty Ducks stuff to nearly American Pie sexuality, even though Summer Catch is rated PG-13. Rent Bull Durham instead. Or the first Major League. Rated-PG-13
You might find a variety of soccer or football programs or leagues throughout the community but few compare to YMCA youth sports. The focus of YMCA youth soccer and flag football is in developing the whole person, not just the competitive athlete.
In YMCA youth soccer and flag football, every player plays at least half of every game whether the most skilled or the new kid on the team.
Every kid is given equal attention and playing rime. Coaches help team members set and achieve individual goals while working on the fundamentals of the sport like dribbling, passing and proper ball control. This teaches team members to compete against themselves instead of each other.
This non-competitive environment allows children to learn about the games of soccer and flag football in an atmosphere of mutual respect where everyone is a winner.
YMCA youth sports teaches children the fundamentals of the game and allows participants to take part in a healthy activity that helps build responsibility, leadership and self esteem, said Jorge Tavares, youth sports coordinator for the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA. Our sports program also gives kids the opportunity to have fun and learn the game with their fami1ies. Parents are encouraged to be more than spectators. They can contribute as coaches, game officials or even as team parents.
For many years the Aldine-Greenspoint Y has offered youth soccer and flag football. This year the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA promises to deliver another successful season.
Registration for YMCA youth soccer and flag football will continue until September 4.
The Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA is located at 14750 Henry Road, in Harris Countys Pep Mueller Park.
Teams for kids ages 4 to 14,
Games begin in late September and should finish around Thanksgiving.
Practices begin Mid-September.
Also, the YMCA offers volunteer opportunities to parents, adults and teens, including head and assistant coaches; team parents; game officials, values coordinators and grounds keepers. For more information about YMCA Youth Sports, or other Y programs, please call the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA at 281-447-9005.
The Federal/State Scarborough Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) has relocated from Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 4040 Watonga Road to Candlelight Church of Christ, 4215 Watonga Road.
The center opened August 23 at 8 a.m. and will operate until further notice.
All DRCs are open daily, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, all centers will close for the Labor Day weekend beginning September 1 through the 3 and will reopen the following morning.
At the centers, individuals may receive information about various programs, check the status of applications, apply for loans and grants, obtain tax forms to file for disaster losses and get tips on rebuilding and preventing losses from future disasters.
Those affected by Tropical Storm Allison may apply for disaster assistance by calling FEMAs toll-free application number at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY 1-800-462-7585 for speech and hearing impaired) The deadline to apply for assistance is September 7, 2001.
On Saturday, August 18, DePelchin/Partners with Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. sponsored a Back-to-School Blast at the Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. Community Center This event was attended by approximately 180 people from the community. The purpose of the event was to introduce the resources offered by DePelchin, and to show appreciation to the persons who have utilized the services since we joined the community in March 2001.
Thanks to the generous donations of local businesses and organizations as well as the coordinated efforts of many community volunteers, DePelchin was able to give away school supplies and various novelty items throughout the afternoon. The parents and children attending the function enjoyed food, fun, and games.
DePelchin Childrens Center wishes to thank the following people and organizations for their help in making this event a success:
Margarita Saldana, Wilbert Bingley, Jessica Guillen, Juanita Honeycutt, Ingrid Headen, Marie Guerra, Marcos Garza, Elizabeth Eben, Mr. Saldana, Jeds Ace Hardware, Pinatas & Mas, Aldine Y.O.U.T.H. and Lee Bean. We are especially grateful to Angelica Garza who made contacts in the community and solicited donations. She also coordinated all of the volunteers. Without the help of our community volunteers and staff we could not have had such a successful event.
DePelchin Childrens Center is proud to put families first in Aldine and looks forward to serving this community for many years to come. If you need parenting classes or anger management classes please contact Barbara Jackson or Angelica Garza at 281-372-1216.
This weeks Crime Stoppers report involves the capital murder of a man in northwest Houston.
On Saturday, June 9 at approximately 11:00 p.m., Eddie Celedanjo Tamez, an 18-year-old Hiapanic man, was shot and killed in front of his apartment located in the 1000 block of Pinemont.
The victim was at home with his girlfriend watching a home video. There was a knock at the front door and the victim asked, who is it? A voice behind the door answered Larry. The victim opened the door and two suspects forced their way into the apartment.
The first suspect was armed with an unknown type of handgun. One of the suspects told the victims girlfriend Dont look little sister and you wont get hurt. The victims girlfriend, fearing for her life, did as she was told.
The suspects demanded drugs and money. They then forced the victim to the bedroom. A short time later they escorted him from the apartment.
For reasons unknown, the suspects shot the victim once in the back of the head. The victim fell to the ground and died at the scene.
The girlfriend inside the apartment located the victims handgun and fired one shot to scare away the suspects. The suspects fled the scene.
Anyone with information on the identity or location of the suspects responsible for this capital murder is urged to call Crime Stoppers.
The first suspect is described as a Black man who was wearing a camouflage mask or hat. He was armed with a handgun.
The other suspect was also a Black man, but smaller than suspect #1.
Anyone with information in regards to the case or on the identity or location of the suspect or suspects responsible for this capital murder is urged to call Crime Stoppers.
Crime Stoppers will pay cash rewards of up to $5,000.00 for information that results in the arrest and charging of a suspect or suspects in any felony crime.
Call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS / 713-222-8477. Your Identity will remain anonymous.
Tipsters may receive as much as $5,000.00 in specific felony cases where the public is deemed to be at a higher risk of being victimized.
The first shotgun blast at a fast flying mourning dove just after dawn on Saturday will mark the beginning of the hunting seasons in Texas.
Most hunters, myself included, are still trying to adjust their thinking to the fact that dove season is here. The official opening of the Central Zone (north of 1-10) and the North Zone begins 30 minutes before sunrise on September 1st.
Dove hunting in Texas is a social affair. All it takes is a folding stool, a couple of boxes of low-brass shotshells, an ice chest with bottles of something cold, and access to a small piece of land over which dove might or might not fly.
Wherever the opening morning of dove season finds you, and no matter how many times you have been through the drill, a few basic reminders are in order. During the excitement of an opening day dove hunt, be sure and dont forget the right stuff.
Open choked 12-gauge shotguns such as improved cylinder or skeet chokes are the usual choices for casual shotgunners. Number 7 1/2 and 8 shot are fine for downing doves. Most dove are taken within 30 yards and any shot past 40 yards is risky at best. Leave the light gauges, the tight chokes and the long shots to the expert shotgunners.
Take up a good position in the field. The typical drill is to stand or sit along a perimeter brush line and snipe at birds entering or leaving the feeding field. This works well, assuming the shooter has a reasonably clear vantage point to spot incomers and mark the fallen birds.
If the perimeter is screened, do not hesitate to move at least 50 or 60 yards into the field (far enough to clear long falls from perimeter brush or fence lines). A single tall shaft of grain or a clump of weeds can provide legitimate cover for the hunter in the open who dons camouflage and remains low and still as birds approach.
A dirt levee or low depression also might provide adequate protection. Being able to watch all quadrants and spot approaching birds well in advance can make a huge difference when each chance must count.
Always recover your hulls from the field. Retrieving ejected shells may not always be necessary, but it is a polished act to cultivate. At best, abandoned shotshells are plastic litter; at worst, they might constitute a hazard to munching livestock.
Double guns are easiest to monitor. Most models feature automatic ejectors that fling the spent hulls several yards when the action is broken, but the hunter can train himself to palm the hulls as they kick free.
Autoloaders can be pretty careless, spitting ejected hulls left and right with no conscious effort from the shooter. However, the dove hunter waiting on stand can at least monitor the near ground and retrieve most the shells after the hunt.
Make a valiant effort to mark and find every bird you shoot. This discipline cannot be stressed enough. No matter if a field champion retriever backs you, strive to watch each bird down and lock on the precise spot. This self-sufficient practice eventually will recover a bird that otherwise might be lost.
This rule applies even to close falls on open ground. It is astounding how brown dirt clods and gray corn husks can swallow a dusty dove especially is the bird falls with wings together and few, if any, trailing feathers. A half-hearted effort to find a downed bird with the uncaring attitude of its just a dove wont cut it with ethical sportsmen.
Carry plenty of water into the field. Traditionally, the opening weekend of dove season in September is still plenty hot. Texas is not known for its cool Septembers. Heat and dehydration are certain to follow the unthinking dove hunter who ventures into the field without taking a supply of cold water.
Some of the best dove hunting Ive ever had occurred during the very hottest part of the day. Make a point of drinking an ample amount of water just before entering the field. Its also very helpful to keep an extra plastic bottle tucked away in your hunting vest or game bag. This way, you can sip cool water during the hunt.
Regardless of how many dove I end up with in my hunting bag, I will consider my trip afield a success if I can celebrate the opening of another hunting season and watch a few flights of speedy gray dove darting across a September sunset.
Howery House Productions has joined forces with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department to provide some neighborhood fun. They will co-sponsor a series of youth talent shows in select park community centers throughout the City. The first of 10 preliminary contests will take place on September 8, at Sharpstown Community Center, in Southwest Houston. Entry forms can be picked up at the community centers and will be available online by mid-September.
The Youth Performance Foundation, a non-profit pro-youth organization will host and emcee the shows and bring a lot of enthusiasm to the events. The range of competition is for youth, separated by two age groups, 8-12 (Juniors) and 13-18 (Seniors). There is no entry fee to compete and no admission cost; its free. Prizes include cash ($250 First Place) and second place trophies, in each division. All winners will be eligible to compete at the All-City Finals in December.