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Northeast News

Rep. Green speaks on the terrorist attack against the United States

Yesterday was one of America’s darkest hours. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of those injured or killed last Tuesday, and with all Americans.

America is coming together and focusing on bringing the full weight of our nation into the recovery effort. We will find our missing, bury our dead, heal our wounded, and rebuild. The light of freedom has not been extinguished.

As the Book of Isaiah states, “Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.”

That brings me to other thoughts I have been having since this tragedy unfolded. From this day forward, the word needs to go out from this country that no matter what dark place enemies of America wish to hide in, our law enforcement and military will find you.

I strongly support President Bush and his position that countries providing safe havens to known terrorists will be treated no differently than the terrorists themselves. We have the ability to deliver destruction of biblical proportions
Those who carried out these horrible acts need to be punished either through our court system or through the reach of our military. To the people of America, I ask that you continue to keep the victims of this attack in your prayers and pray for the safety of all those engaged in the rescue efforts.

This cowardly attack was condemned throughout the world. But it was cheered in the streets of Iraq, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank. It is truly a sick society that teaches its children such hate. For them to cheer at this terrible loss of innocent life is something I will make a point of remembering.

The new war against terrorism began yesterday, but the healing begins today. Our enemies hoped yesterday to weaken America, to hurt it. But they failed.

America will come out of this horrible event stronger, more unified, and more powerful than ever.

Rep. Bailey reminds area voters of 19 constitutional amendments on ballot

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6,2001 for 19 proposed constitutional amendments. State Representative Kevin Bailey will be offering a series of articles in which be will briefly discuss some of the arguments for and against each of the proposed amendments.

State Representative Kevin Bailey urges area voters to become familiar with the proposed constitutional amendments before going to vote, it is easy to think that it doesn’t matter whether or not you vote in this election. The issues are difficult and you are just one person. But, isn’t that the point.

In Texas, we put a great deal of faith in our voters. Each and every Texan has the opportunity – the privilege – to vote on the merits of each idea. This series of articles will briefly discuss some of the issues you may want to consider before going to vote.

AMENDMENT NO. 1 may have voters getting out their history textbooks to vote on this proposition. Under a law dating to 1836, settlers had a right to survey land they wanted to claim or purchase, but the state retained all land not specifically claimed in those surveys. In 1981, 1991, and 1993, Texas voters amended the constitution to remedy title defects for certain landowners. These amendments allowed the GLO to issue patents – original titles to land granted by the state – to qualified applicants whose land titles were defective.

This amendment would relinquish the state’s claim to a tract of land that is 400 feet wide and about four miles long outside of Elgin. The 221-acre tract is among 741,000 acres of surveyed, unsold school land held in the General Land Office (GLO) “scrap file,” so called because it stores applications to buy “scraps” of land between existing surveys.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT – Proposition 1 is needed to clear the title to land held by innocent parties, resolve an inequity, and save the stare art expensive court fight. It would be a straightforward and fair way to resolve a complicated land dispute in which it is unclear whether landowners were aware they were occupying state land.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT – Texas voters should not have to judge individual land-title disputes. Such matters are best left to the courts. Rather than continue to clutter the Constitution with exceptions for a few individuals, an ongoing mechanism should be established to settle these matters.

AMENDMENT NO. 2 would allow the State to use general obligation bonds backed by the state’s credit to assist border area counties in constructing and maintaining access road projects to connect colonias to existing public roads. Colonias are rural residential subdivisions located in unincorporated areas of counties, typically consisting of substandard housing with few utilities and little or no infrastructure.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT – Proposition 2 would create a new state funding source to help provide much-needed access to and from colonias. Many colonias residents were victimized by unscrupulous developers who did not provide or arrange for basic services or adequate infrastructures. Although border counties have upgraded some roads, these counties do not have the resources to meet the huge infrastructure needs of colonias.
REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT – Borrowing money by issuing state bonds to pay for roads is and always will be a bad idea. Colonias are located on private property. Though regrettable, the conditions there are not state government’s responsibility. Taxpayers already have spent more than half a billion dollars (state and federal) through various state agencies over the past 12 years to address numerous problems associated with colonias. Building local access roads with borrowed state money, regardless of the circumstances, would set a bad precedent.

AMENDMENT NO.3 would allow the Legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation raw cocoa and green coffee brought in through the Port of Houston. Under the Texas Constitution all tangible property, including inventories, held for the production of income is subject to ad valorem taxation unless specifically exempt under the Constitution. The Legislature could impose additional requirements for qualifying for the exemption.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT – Exempting coffee and cocoa Inventories from ad valorem taxation in Harris County would make the Port of Houston eligible to be designated an exchange port for coffee by the New York Board of Trade. The board has said it will not consider the county’s application unless coffee and cocoa are exempted from taxation. Although exempting coffee and cocoa from property taxes would decrease local tax revenue in the short term, Houston’s certification as a coffee port would spur long-term investment in local warehouse facilities, create jobs, and bring additional business to trucking and distribution companies across the state.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT – Exempting coffee and cocoa from ad valorem taxation would reduce tax revenue for local governments in Harris County. In addition, creating an exemption for a specific industry in a specific county would require other businesses and residential property owners in the county to bear more of the burden of funding public services, It also would set a bad precedent by encouraging other types of businesses to try to carve out similar exemptions for their benefit. Also, a tax exemption should not be granted to Harris County. Other ports in Texas share Houston’s proximity to coffee-growing regions and consumer markets.

AMENDMENT NO.4 would specify a four-year term for the fire fighters’ pension commissioner.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING POR THIS AMENDMENT – The proposed change in the commissioner’s term from two years to four years would make the term coincide with that of the governor who appoints the commissioner and eliminates the cumbersome process of selecting a nominee and securing Senate confirmation every legislative session. The fire fighters’ pension commissioner administers the agency, and a longer term would help ensure continuity and experience in the position

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT – The term of the fire fighters’ pension commissioner or of any other appointed office should not be set in the Constitution, which already is bloated with overly specific and constraining provisions. Other executive directors, including the insurance and health and human services commissioners, who have far more extensive responsibilities, face review by the governor and Senate every two years without significant disruption.

These four propositions are challenging issues to deal with and our constitution requires your vote on them. That is why they are on the ballot for November 6.

If you would like additional information on these and the other 15 proposed amendments, feel free to call the office of State Representative Kevin Bailey at 281-847-9000.

Take the Right Steps to Make a Donation

AUSTIN – The Division of Emergency Management (DEM) has received inquiries from people who want to help those affected by the devastation in New York and Washington D.C. While this desire to make a donation to victims is noble and welcome, uncoordinated donations can become a disaster within a disaster.

People who want to assist should ensure their good intentions reach the correct recipients in the most effective manner.

The following are a few items people should keep in mind when donating to disaster victims:
Anyone wanting to donate to or volunteer to help those affected can call either the Salvation Army at (800) 253-1868, the American Red Cross at (800) HELP NOW or their local chapters. These agencies work with the Division of Emergency Management and local governments to provide assistance during disasters. They are in the best position to assure assistance is appropriate, adequate and delivered to the right places.

Consider making a donation in cash. Cash is a good contribution because it allows needed items to be purchased. The time it takes to sort, organize and redistribute materials can be used more effectively and items can get to the victims faster.

If you are not part of a disaster relief organization, spontaneous travel to an affected area to offer help or supplies is discouraged. Travel, lodging and food may not be available, and people traveling into the affected areas may end up unintentionally contributing to the problem.

People who wish to volunteer medical services should call the New York City Medical Volunteer Hotline at (800) 628-0193.

Rather than sending unsolicited items to the area, people should call the American Red Cross or Salvation Army or contact their local established relief organizations. These organizations are in the best position to know types of donations are needed, and they have the ability to ensure the gifts reach the intended recipients.

Following these suggestions will help assure that the right kind of help reaches those who need it most.

HCC graduate pursues opportunities in field of surgical technology

Stella Trimble entered Houston Community College’s Surgical Technology Program in 1972 after die age of 40. Her new career began when she became a Certified Surgical Technologist in 1974.

Surgical technologists, also called O.R. techs or scrub nurses, are well-trained professionals who provide valuable support before, during and after operations. Surgical technologists help to prepare the operating room, assuring that instruments, equipment and supplies are sterilized and in working order. They also ready patients for surgery by prepping the incision area, transporting patients to the operating room, taking vital signs, and helping the surgical team scrub and put on their protective gear. During surgery, surgical technologists1 provide an additional set of trained hands for everything from passing instruments to surgeons to maintaining the supply of blood for the patient.

“Initially surgical technologists were only trained on the job, then formal classes were offered,” said Trimble. “Today, students must graduate from an accredited program to be allowed to take the national certification exam.”

Hospitals employ the majority of trained surgical techs (ST), while many STs find work with clinics, private practices and staffing agencies. Trimble has worked as a surgical technologist at local hospitals, surgery centers and in private doctors’ offices, including those of an oral surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon, but she has also followed other opportunities in the field.

“Since 1996 I’ve been an instructor in Houston Community College’s Surgical Technology Program,” said Trimble. “I tell my students ‘always think of the patient first’ and I encourage them to use their critical thinking abilities.”

Trimble has also served on the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist (1990-1996) and is an inspector for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
I travel all over the country to inspect programs that are applying for accreditation and ensure that accredited programs are upholding the standards of the industry,” said Trimble. “Being an inspector is not the only opportunity for travel in the field, many STs work with agencies that recruit staff for hospitals and clinics across the country. They work on a contract basis and can choose where and for how long they stay on an assignment.”

Salaries have improved as hospitals have learned to value educated and certified surgical techs. Nationwide, the demand for surgical techs is as high as the demand for nurses and will likely remain high as the country’s population ages and the number of surgical procedures grows.

Historical clothing, Hispanic Celebration at Jones Park

For those people interested in times of long ago, this weekend is sure to be an enlightening one, as Jesse H. Jones Park &. Nature Center presents a pair of programs for the historically minded. Saturday, September 15 at 10 a.m. the park features a Historical Clothing Open House. And Sunday, September 16 at 2 p.m. the stage comes alive with folkloric dancers and Mariachis to commemorate Dies y Seis de Septiembre.

If you’ve been interested in getting into the spirit of Jones Park’s annual festivals – Pionecr Day Saturday, November 3, and Texas Heritage Day each spring – but you aren’t quite sure how to go about it, a good starting point is to develop a time period correct costume. And what better way to get some ideas than a Historical Clothing Open House? Saturday, September 15 from 10 am, to noon, visit with authentically outfitted re-enactors as they demonstrate the types of clothing and accessories worn during a variety of time periods. Representatives of various local re-enactment groups portray the accoutrements of the War of 1812, early Texas pioneers, Civil War soldiers and the 1870s Texas Cowboy era.

Sunday, September 16 beginning at 2 p.m., come and join the fun as Jones Park celebrates Dies y Seis de Septiembre. The outdoor stage resounds with the delightful music and dancing of folkloric dancers and Mariachis to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain. Visitors can make their own maracas and enjoy Hispanic finger foods, or bring a picnic lunch for a festive afternoon of cultural entertainment.

Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, a Harris County Precinct 4 facility, is located at 20634 Kenswick Drive in Humble. All programs are free of charge and open to the public. For more information on the park or any of its programs, call 281-446-8588.

Tops open house, September 27th

TOPS # TX 547 will be holding a free open house, Thursday evening, September 27th at 7 p.m. at the Polish Home located 103 Cooper. (1 block east of Parker at Airline) Everyone wanting to lose weight or just maintain their weight, is invited to attend our open house to see what TOPS Club, Inc. has to offer. For more information, please call Lynn at 832-593-6847 or Reva at 281-445-1673
TOPS, a non-profit weight loss support organization, offers group support at its very best: Fun and informative meetings, monthly contests and incentives, awards and recognition for losing weight, monthly TOPS NEWS magazine, annual conventions and lots of caring and sharing!

As you follow your personal physician’s diet and exercise plan, TOPS gives you the encouragement and support you need to reach your goal weight. For information on other TOPS chapters call 1-800-932-8677.

Cleanup of Spring Cemetery planned for the fall

A cleanup of the historic Spring Cemetery located at 26206 Aldine Westfield Road is being planned for several dates in the fall.

The initial restoration of the cemetery was begun in 1999 by a group of North Harris College Honors students.

The Spring Historical and Genealogical Society has now joined the restoration efforts in preparation for the installation of a Texas Historical Landmark, which was awarded to the cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission in August of 2000.
Information about the project is on display at the Spring Historical Museum. Photographs and additional information concerning the cemetery is currently being sought. Please call Maryann Readal at 281-618-5497 for further information.

Applying to college online: tips from an insider

As more and more admissions departments are allowing – even encouraging – students to fill out online applications, applying to college can seem almost as easy as sending an e-mail.

You can go straight to a college’s Web site to apply, rather than waiting for a form to arrive in the mail. You don’t have to worry about your messy handwriting or inability to use a typewriter. And neatness is no longer a concern – you can’t accidentally spill a cup of coffee on an online application.

Still, there are some pitfalls to watch out for, warns Ted O’Neill, Dean of College Admissions at the University of Chicago and a nationally known admissions expert.

“Electronic communication is characterized by both speed and informality,” says O’Neill. “It seems very ephemeral, but a college application is not an ephemeral document. Thinking of it that way can hurt your chances of admission.”

Before you hit the “send” button, O’Neill says, here are some key points to consider:

• Do take the application essay seriously. You will probably need to write several drafts before your essay is ready to submit. Remember, it’s not an e-mail, so don’t be tempted to use sentence fragments or colloquial language.

• Do proofread your work carefully. Even minor proofreading errors make a poor impression on admissions officers. Since it can be difficult to spot errors on-screen, print your completed application and proofread the hard copy.

• Don’t limit your communication to electronic media. If you need to ask questions or discuss special problems, feel free to contact the admissions office by phone or letter.

• Don’t submit the same application to a number of different colleges. “You wouldn’t do that if you were looking for a job,” says O’Neill. “Just as every company is different, every college is different. When students apply to the University of Chicago, we want to know they’re writing to us.”

• Don’t wait until the very last day to submit your application. Online communication may be instant – but not if your computer crashes or the server is down.

• Don’t worry about whether your application was received. Many colleges will issue you a password so you can check the status of your application online.

• Don’t rely entirely on the Web for information – choosing the right college is much too important. Be sure to request a college brochure (known as a “viewbook”), which will include more information than the college’s Web site. Even better, visit the colleges that interest you, says O’Neill: “A virtual tour is no substitute for a real tour.”

Houston CPAs sponsor tax relief seminars for flood victims

The Houston Chapter Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants will sponsor three evening seminars on tax issues concerning disasters in areas hardest hit by flooding. Representatives of the Internal Revenue Service, Texas Workforce Commission, Harris County Appraisal District and Harris County Flood Control District will participate in the panel discussion format, followed by questions and answers.

The seminars will be 7:30-9 p.m. at each location: Sept. 18, St. Peter’s Claver Catholic Church, 6005 N. Wayside near Sims Bayou; Sept. 19, Northwest Assistance Ministries, 15555 Kuykendahl in northwest Houston and Sept. 20, at First Baptist Church of Friendswood, III East Heritage, Friendswood.

“The CPAs will be describing the documentation needed and requirements necessary for a taxpayer to take disaster losses on his tax return” said Harrie Marie Pollok Operhall, chairman of the taxation-special projects committee and an independent CPA with a practice in southwest Houston. “We also will be helping taxpayers determine whether to file amended returns for 2000 or take the loss in 2001.”
Government representatives will discuss relief available through the various taxing authorities.
For more information about the seminars or the Houston CPA Chapter please call 713-622-7733 or visit the chapter’s website at www.houtscva.otg.

The 8,200 member Houston CPA Chapter, with members in 13 surrounding counties, is the third largest local organization of CPAs in the nation. The Houston Chapter has donated millions of dollars to Make-A-Wish through its golf tournament and to other youth charities through its charity event. In addition to providing professional education to its members, the Houston Chapter also delivers toys to 5,000-6,000 children each year through Santa CPAs and supports education. Each spring the Houston CPAs provide free tax help to disadvantaged citizens, including those with low income, physical impairments, non-English-speaking ability or elderly status.

They provide ongoing help to other nonprofit organizations by lending skills to charity auctions, tallying results for KUHT-TV public television drives and providing accounting advice.

New criminal laws adopted to increase public safety

Notable Texas criminal laws that took effect September 1:

•SB 656 abolishes the statute of limitations for sexual assault-if DNA was collected and tested during the investigation without identifying a named suspect. It also increases the statute of limitations from five to 10 years for other sexual assaults.

•SB 1380 requires DPS to use a registered sex offender’s driver license photograph for the registered sex offender Web site and post card notification projects. It also requires sex offenders who are subject to registration to submit DNA samples to the DPS DNA database.

•SB 654 requires sex offenders to disclose which professional licenses they currently hold or intend to seek, and directs DPS to forward that information to the appropriate licensing agency.

•SB 199 creates a state offense (Class A misdemeanor) for possession of a firearm for an individual under a protective order or convicted of certain family violence offenses. (This is already a federal offense.)

•SB 139 adds e-mail, fax or pager harassment to the existing prohibition on telephone and written harassment. (Class B misdemeanor). It also increases the penalty for stalking from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

•SB 68 adds “dating violence” to the family violence protective order statute. (Minimum Class A misdemeanor.)

•SB 18 prohibits interference with an emergency telephone call by threats or damage to the telephone. (Minimum Class A misdemeanor.)

•HB 587 expands the definition of “hate crimes.” It clarifies that the law applies to race, color, disability, religion, national origin (or ancestry), age, gender or sexual preference-when it is determined to be the reason a victim or their property was targeted in a crime. In those cases, the punishment can be enhanced one level under certain circumstances. The bill also provides for a “hate crimes” protective order.

•HB 195 requires a copy of an investigative report to be sent to DPS for analysis if the investigation involves thefts or frauds targeting the elderly.

•HB 3351 makes it an offense to possess chemicals with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance (i.e. methamphetamine, crack cocaine, ecstasy). Punishments vary.

•HB 776 creates a new database that will be used to record verified threats made against peace officers. It will be part of DPS’ Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) and will be electronically available through TLETS (Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) to all peace officers in the course of their routine duties.

•SB 795 provides for asset forfeiture for the profits received from the sale of notorious crime memorabilia.

•HB 84 makes it a third degree felony for a convicted felon to possess metal or body armor that is obviously designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of protecting a person against gunfire.

•SB 1074 defines and prohibits racial profiling, setting forth broad guidelines for data collection on law enforcement traffic and pedestrian stops. If a statewide bond issue is approved by voters in November, DPS will administer an $18.5 million grant to provide funding for county and municipal police agencies to purchase audio and video equipment to record traffic and pedestrian stops.

•HB 1925 makes it a third degree felony to possess most weapons, including an illegal knife or club, within 1,000 feet of a place of execution on the day of the scheduled execution.

•SB 214 increases the statute of limitations from three to 10 years for injury to a child, elderly individual or disabled individual. The texts of these bills can be found at www.capitol.state.tx.us. Select the enrolled version.