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Northeast News

Parents of Murdered Children to hold Day of Rememberance

The Heights Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children and other survivors of homicide will hold its National Day of Rememberance at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25th, at 4826 East Mount Houston Road.

The ceremonies will include a candelight vigil, a viewing of the rose garden, a special guest speaker and song followed by fellowship. Participants are asked to bring a picture of their loved ones.
For more information, please call 713-227-1366, Carolyn Hardin at 281-987-2821 or Ruth M. Eason at 713-635-1711.

Helping kids deal with tragedy of terrorism

In the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are struggling with feelings of shock, fear and helplessness.

Children are most vulnerable during this time to the effects of the violent images they see on television. It is important for parents to pull themselves away from the news coverage, turn the television off, and talk to their families, according to Dr. Steven Pierrel, a psychologist and an associate professor with the department of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

“We need to listen to the concerns of our children and learn what meaning they are attaching to these events,” Pierrel said. “It is our responsibility to talk with them, share our perspective and provide a place of comfort and security as they come to grips with these tragic events.”

There are several ways parents and others who care for children can help alleviate the emotional consequences of trauma, including the following tips provided by the American Psychological Association.

• Spend more time with children and let them be more dependent on you during the months following the trauma – for example, allowing your child to cling to you more often than usual. Physical affection is very comforting to children who have experienced trauma.

• Provide play experiences to help relieve tension. Younger children in particular may find it easier to share their ideas and feelings about the event through non-verbal activities such as drawing.

• Encourage older children to speak with you, and with one another, about their thoughts and feelings. This helps reduce their confusion and anxiety related to the trauma. Respond to questions in terms they can comprehend. Reassure them repeatedly that you care about them and that you understand their fears and concerns.

• Keep regular schedules for activities such as eating, playing and going to bed to help restore a sense of security and normalcy.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also recommends the following guidelines for minimizing the negative effects of watching the news:

• Make sure you have adequate time and a quiet place to talk if you anticipate that the news is going to be troubling or upsetting to the child.

• Ask the child what he or she has heard and what questions he/she may have.

• Provide reassurance regarding his or her own safety in simple words emphasizing that you are going to be there to keep him or her safe.
• Look for signs that the news may have triggered fears or anxieties such as sleeplessness, fears, bedwetting, crying, or talking about being afraid.

“Parents should remember that it is important to talk to your child or adolescent about what he or she has seen or heard,” Pierrel said. “This allows parents to lessen the potential negative effects of the news and to discuss their own ideas and values. While children cannot be completely protected from outside events, parents can help them feel safe and help them to better understand the world around them.”

Bailey continues review of Constitutional Amendments on November ballot

State Representative Kevin Bailey continues this week with a brief discussion of constitutional amendments. These propositions are challenging issues to deal with and our constitution requires your vote on them. That is way they are on the November 6 ballot.

AMENDMENT NO. 5 would authorize municipalities to donate outdated or surplus firefighting equipment, supplies, or other materials to an underdeveloped country.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT: The proposed amendment would allow Texas cities and towns to assist Mexico by donating equipment that no longer meets departmental standards in the state but is still useable. Dry southwestern landscapes are vulnerable to fires, and uncontained fires along the border could spread to Texas. Because some firefighting forces in Mexico have no appropriate gear or equipment, Texas’ outdated equipment would help our international neighbor with public and firefighter safety and would be a significant goodwill gesture.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: Some fire departments in Texas and bordering states do not have enough firefighting equipment and rely on donated equipment and gear to protect their communities and land from fires. Given the limited supply of equipment, donations to Mexico or other foreign countries would deprive some Texas cities of this equipment Currently, there are more than 2,500 outstanding requests for equipment donations and only 128 donors through Texas Forest Service Helping Hands Program. Texas local governments should receive priority over foreign far equipment donations.

AMENDMENT NO. 6 Under Article 2. Section 1 of the US- Constitution, the President and the Vice President are to be chosen by electors. Each state must appoint, in a manner directed by the legislature, a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state is entitled in congress. In most states, including Texas, the entire slate of electors pledged to a presidential ticket are chosen if the ticket receives the most votes statewide in the election.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING FOR THIS AMENDMENT: The national controversy over the razor-thin presidential election in November 2000 and the subsequent recount in Florida has prompted a re-examination of voting procedures in Texas and other states. Proposition 6 would provide clear guidelines for the governor to call a special session for the Legislature to choose presidential electors in the event of an election contest such as the one in Florida. Under current law, it is not clear whether the governor constitutionally could be required to call a special session for this purpose.

REASONS TO CONSIDER VOTING AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: Proposition 6 is not needed, because current statuary and constitutional law already authorizes the governor to preside over contests of presidential electors and to make the final determination, as well as to call a special session of the Legislature. Moreover, it could allow a partisan legislature to circumvent the will of the voters and appoint a slate of electors pledged to a presidential candidate other than that chosen by the voters.

AMENDMENT NO. 7 would allow the Legislature to authorize the Veterans’ Land Board (VLB) to issue up to $500 million in general-obligation bonds to benefit the Veterans Housing Assistance Fund II. The amendment also would permit using funds from the veterans’ land and housing assistance programs to plan, design, operate, maintain, enlarge, or improve veterans’ cemeteries.

REASONS TO VOTE FOR THIS AMENDMENT: Proposition 7 would provide much-needed support to meet the increasing demand for veterans’ home mortgage loans, which have grown in popularity since the Legislature raised the cap on these loans from $45,000 to $150,000 in 1999. Prudent loan and investment practices have made the veterans’ programs self-sufficient, and veterans using the program, rather than the taxpayers of Texas, would be responsible for retiring the debt and paying the interest.

REASONS TO VOTE AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: Texas veterans deserve aid, but they already are eligible for many benefits, including federal Veterans’ Administration housing loans, college tuition assistance, and hiring preference for federal and state civil-service jobs. Regardless of need or income, veterans can obtain government-subsidized mortgages at interest rates lower that those available to other homebuyers. Furthermore, voters should be wary of authorizing more state debt

AMENDMENT NO. 8 The Texas Constitution prohibits state debts. It generally requires the Legislature to submit for voter approval proposals authorizing general obligation bonds backed by the state’s credit, usually by constitutional amendment. The Texas Public Finance Authority (TRFA) may only issue bonds for the acquisition or construction of a building for a state agency if the legislature has authorized the specific project or the maximum amount of bonded indebtedness that may be incurred by the issuance of the bonds,

REASONS TO VOTE FOR THIS AMENDMENT: Using bonds for capital improvements would be an appropriate way to stretch state dollars to pay for long-term projects, such as for construction and repair. In the current budget cycle, most of the agencies that the proposed bonds would benefit submitted large exceptional-item requests for crucial repair and maintenance projects that could not be addressed fully because of the limited availability of funds.

REASONS TO VOTE AGAINST THIS AMENDMENT: Because the proposition is worded as a vote on the entire bond issue, voters would have no clear indication of how money would be allocated among individual projects. Bonds should not be issued to finance repair projects. Repairs are predictable costs for which agencies can and should budget. The state has failed to keep up repairs even during prosperous years.

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

Antique cars and historic attractions coming to Old Town Spring on September 29 and 30

Picture peaceful, shady streets in the cool of autumn filled with beautifully restored vintage automobiles. Wheels the Clown rides by on his unicycle, heading for a group of children who wait with smiling faces for the balloon animals he will make them. You are mesmerized by the over 150 shops, museums, and restaurants. The entire atmosphere is tranquil, laughter echoes throughout the town, and families spend quality time together, much as they did at the turn-of-the-century. The ambiance you have just seen, is Heritage Holiday in Old Town Spring, just 20 miles north of Houston tucked between I45 and the Hardy Toll Road.

This year’s event features the Long Horn Rod Run, and the owners of antique cars compete in various categories for prizes and awards. The streets in front of all of the shops are lined with these beautiful vintage automobiles. Vehicles from all eras are on display. There are cars from the 1960’s flexing their “muscles” as well as those from the beginning of the century that helped usher in the Automobile Age. They are parked curbside throughout the entire area, on display for the public to enjoy. Be assured their titleholders are never far away, and love to answer questions regarding their trophies.

This is a great time to give children a chance to interact with grandparents and learn about this piece of history. They can’t imagine not having cars, let alone cars that steak by at the speed of sound. This event is great for home-schoolers as well as vacationers. The car owners are proud as peacocks and know their stuff, they are always willing to talk about the history of their make or model. And when you are done enriching their historical knowledge of automobiles, take them by the Spring Historical Museum and the Civil War Museum, and add to their cultural information regarding the area of Old Town Spring. In addition, you can browse the town and find many historic old buildings from Spring’s past. This Heritage Holiday is rich in history and cultural heritage.

Everyone will enjoy browsing the shops with a wide variety of merchandise. These stores have all the variety of a mall, the uniqueness you would expect, and the atmosphere of small town America. Available is a wealth of merchandise from clothing, to books, to toys, to jams and jellies. Wonderful jewelry and beautiful glassworks abound. Both legendary artists and those awaiting discovery call Old Town Spring home. Come and enjoy the many galleries.

In addition, there is a year round Christmas store, two wineries and a store just for clocks. Antiques and antique dealers abound with offerings from furniture to Depression glass. Many of the stores have themes such as birds, Amish goods, British handiwork, German creations, and Dutch items There are collectibles galore, and even an old fashioned ice cream parlor.

This is a free festival, open to families and friends of all ages. It is scheduled for Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th. The fun starts at l0 a.m. and winds down around 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is $3 per car, a portion of which is contributed to the Knights of Columbus for their charity activities.

For entry forms, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to Pete’s Miniature Motors at 406 Main Street, Spring, Texas 77373. For sponsorship information, call 281-353-9310. For general festival information, call 1-800-OLD-TOWN.

Islam: a look at its history and tenets

A glance at Muslim and Arab issues:

ORIGINS AND GROWTH

Islam means “submission” to God, or Allah, and Muslims are those who submit to his will as revealed in the seventh century to the Prophet Muhammad, a merchant from Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia.

A dispute over succession after Mohammed’s death in A.D. 632 continues to split the Muslim world into Shiites, who make up about 10 percent of Muslims, and majority Sunnis. Shiites believe Ali, the prophet’s son-in-law, was Muhammad’s rightful heir; Sunnis believe it was Abu Bakr, the prophet’s close associate. Most of the Arab world is Sunni, as is most of Afghanistan, while Iran is mostly Shiite.

Despite the split, Islam flourished and spread into Africa, Asia and Europe within two centuries of Muhammad’s death. Today, although most Arabs are Muslims, most Muslims are not Arab. The most populous Muslim nation is Indonesia, where about 90 percent of the population of 210 million is Muslim. There are an estimated 4 million to 6 million people in the United States who identify themselves as Muslims, about 2 million of them involved with mosques. Worldwide, Muslims number more than a billion.

LANGUAGE

Arabic is spoken across the Mideast. Dialect and pronunciation vary from country to country. As the language of the Quran, it is often the language of prayer and religious study for non-Arab Muslims. Many non-Arab Muslims have Arabic names.

BELIEFS

Islam is the newest of the three great monotheistic religions. The others are Judaism and Christianity. Muslims recognize aspects of the two earlier religions but believe Muhammad provided the final revelation. Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians; “Allah” means God in Arabic.

The revelations compiled in the Quran, Islam’s holy book, are seen as the only correct continuation of the ideas as originated by revered figures familiar to Jews and Christians, including Adam, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. While Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, they abhor the Christian belief that he is God.

Despite the differences, Muslims believe that Jews and Christians, whose religions, like Islam, are based on scripture and sprang up in the Mideast, are part of their broad community.

There are five basic tenets, or pillars, of Islam: affirming there is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet; praying five times a day; giving alms; fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, the lunar month during which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad; and performing the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Jihad, variously translated as “holy war” or “holy struggle,’ is not one of the five pillars of Islam. But many Muslims believe it is their religious duty to fight to defend their faith or even to extend it into non-Muslim lands.

Pre-Islamic cultures influence Islamic societies, just as pre-Christian cultures influence the Western world. Scholars trace many of the restrictions on women, for instance, to conservative tribal traditions. Muslim women in the most conservative societies, such as Saudi Arabia, only appear in public veiled head-to-toe.

Elsewhere, they cover only their hair, or choose to wear no special clothing at all.

ISLAM AND GOVERNMENT

Muhammad governed a theocracy in Medina, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia, and some Muslims look to him as a model of a spiritual leader with temporal powers. Others, though, argue that Islam alone is no solution for the complex problems of the modern world.

Politicians in countries with large Muslim populations, recognizing Islam’s power to inspire and comfort in troubling times, have at times promoted fundamentalists whose ultimate goal is the overthrow of states they see as dangerously secular. When the fundamentalists begin to threaten their power, political leaders crack down, creating societal tension.

Two non-Arab countries, Iran and Afghanistan, have seen modern attempts to rule by Muhammad’s example.
Ruhollah Khomeini, who bore the religious title ayatollah, led a 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran and made Khomeini the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Today, moderate and hard-line Iranian clerics are struggling over the role of Islam in politics.
Since 1996, the Taliban have ruled Afghanistan according to a strict interpretation of Islam rejected by most other Muslims. The Taliban ended schooling for girls older than 8, prohibit women from working outside the home or even venturing out unless accompanied by a close male relative, and punish thieves by chopping off their hands or feet in front of crowds. The Taliban provoked international outcry this year by demolishing two ancient and monumental mountain carvings of the Buddha on the grounds that they violated Islam’s ban on idol worship.

Taliban means “students.” The movement sprang up in conservative Muslim schools in Pakistan among refugees of the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

CONFLICT WITH OTHER CULTURES

Medieval Europe launched the Crusades to seize control of the Holy Land from Muslims, and Muslim armies later conquered Byzantium and parts of Europe _ the Iberian peninsula and the Balkans. Today, some Muslims say they are again under Western siege. The global economy driven by the West has created new desires and new pressures. Liberal ideas associated with the West are spread through television, movies and popular music _ an emphasis on individual choice that weakens traditional male authority, the mixing of men and women at school and at work, frank discussion of sex.

Also fomenting tensions is a sense that in the United States and Europe secularism is promoted and God’s will ignored.

Another sensitive issue is American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest shrines. Osama bin Laden, the extremist the United States regards as its No. 1 terrorist threat, lost his Saudi citizenship over his criticism of his country’s close alliance with Washington.

The overriding concern, however, is the conflict that has been fought since the creation in 1948 of Israel as a haven for persecuted Jews on their biblical land. Israeli statehood made hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, most of them Muslim, homeless.

VIOLENCE

Like other world religions, Islam generally abhors violence unless it is morally justified, as in the defense of life, property, honor and rights. Muslim leaders have said that describes the Palestinian fight against Israel.

While some Muslims may have rejoiced over the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, very few would claim these were sanctioned by Islam.

Seawall Parade

Corey Rilnour and Robert Shumake of Galveston, took up their flags to lead an impromptu parade on the Seawall from one end of the island to the other last Tuesday in the wake of the devastating terrorist attack on America. As the two men marched waving Old Glory high in the salt air, beachgoers and area residents slowed to watch, honking, calling out “God Bless America” and stopping to offer thanks and encouragement.

Football takes a back seat after events of 9-11

It’s hard to even think about anything else these days after we watched with horror the events that unfolded on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in New York and Washington, D.C. The senseless acts of violence aimed at our country will never be forgotten and our thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost loved ones and friends.

But as we have done following other national tragedies, we will rise from the ashes, rebuild, move on and be a stronger, more united nation, but I hope for our sake, that none of us ever forget what transpired on Sept. 11, 2001.

This column has been a joy to write over the years, so I’ll apologize beforehand if this week’s edition doesn’t have it’s usual dash of humor. I hope you’ll understand.

The third week of the high school season is upon us and that means the final tune-ups before District 21-5A play begins for Aldine ISD’ s four varsity program next week. Before we take a look at this week’s game, let’s review the results of the first week, which produced an 8-4 record (66 percent).

Aldine vs. Spring: The Mustangs had a rough start to the season, losing by three touchdowns to Madison. In that game, the Mustangs saw what a talented player quarterback Vincent Young is as he ran and passed his team past Bill Smith’s bunch. This week, Aldine will go up against another top QB in Spring’s Adam Karas, a team that favors the pass to the run. The Mustangs secondary will have to be on its toes this week and solid play by the defensive front is a must. Something tells me Smith will right the ship and have his troops ready for 21-SA play. My pick, Aldine 31, Spring 23

MacArthur vs. Hightower: The Generals got off to a good start with a 24-22 win over Conroe two weeks ago and this week they’ll be looking for more pay back when they take on Hightower. Terry Forga and his team want to go into league play with momentum at its back and winning on the road would do a lot for the team’s confidence. My pick, MacArthur 26, Hightower 14

Lufkin at Eisenhower: This is one of the featured game in the state as the No. 3-ranked Panthers and star quarterback Reggie McNeal (6-3, 185 pounds, 4.4 speed) pays a visit to Thorne Stadium to take on Richard Carson’s No. 4-ranked Eagles. Eisenhower looked in midseason form in its opener against Willowridge as the Eagles recorded a 28-0 victory, but things will get decidedly more difficult this week when Lufkin comes to town. A year ago, Ike returned from Lufkin with a victory and a win over a highly-ranked team will send a message to the rest of 21-SA that the Eagles are serious about defending their league title. This should be a great game to watch. My pick, Eisenhower 23, Lufkin 20

Washington at Nimitz: A year ago, the Cougars had a tough time against Washington, but it appears that Randy Rowe’s team is better defensively this year, as evidenced by their 16-3 season opening win over LaPorte two weeks ago. Nimitz is a team that the rest of 21-SA had better be aware because they have enough talent on hand to contend for not only a playoff spot, but for the league title. You’d better believe that the Coogs will have revenge on their mind when they entertain Washington this week. My pick, Nimitz 30, Washington 7

Now let’s take a look at the key games in college football this weekend.

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M: The Aggies are off to a 2-0 start, but the wins have not been impressive enough for some Aggie fans. The Internet chat rooms are full of R.C. Slocum bashers, so it’s imperative that the Ags get off to a solid start in their Big 12 opener against a much-improved OSU squad. A&M’s running game has been missing for almost two years now and it’s time Slocum named a starter and sticks with him. This is the type of game the Aggies must win, and win convincingly and they can’t allow themselves to look ahead to Notre Dame’s visit the following weekend. If they do, they just might make things uncomfortable for their head coach. My pick, A&M 31, OSU 14

Mississippi State at South Carolina: A key game in the SEC as Lou Holtz’s Gamecocks host Jackie Sherrill and his talented Bulldogs. MSU has enough talent on hand to win the SEC West, so South Carolina had better bring its A game on Saturday. Holtz has turned the program around in a short time and a win over MSU would convince many that last year’s 8-4 record was no fluke. Look for a tight, defensive struggle in this one. My pick, South Carolina 13, Mississippi State 10

Ohio State at UCLA: Another Big lO-Pac 10 meeting in what should be a good football game to watch. UCLA is one talented football team. They rolled the Tide in Alabama in week 1 and then ran roughshod over Kansas the following week. The Bruins are loaded on offense and have speed to burn on defense. Ohio State looked OK in its 28-14 win over Akron in head coach Jim Tressell’ s debut, but they will get their first real test this Saturday in the Rose Bowl. Tressell should know more about his team after this game, and he might not like what he sees after the Bruins get through with the Buckeyes. My pick, UCLA 34, Ohio State 17

USC at Oregon: A key Pac 10 game as the Ducks open their Pac 10 season against the improved Trojans. Oregon has looked sharp in its first two outings (wins over Wisconsin and Utah), while the Trojans have split their first two games under first-year head coach Pete Carroll. Oregon QB Joey Herthington is a Heismann Trophy candidate, but he’s not the only talented player in Duckland. The Trojans will find that out the hard way this weekend. My pick, Oregon 27, USC 10

Now let’s take a look at what the NFL has to offer this weekend.

Oakland at Miami: This could be a preview of the AFC Championship game. Both teams got off to good starts in their openers, but the Dolphins’ 31-23 win at Tennessee was much more impressive than Oakland’s 27-24 win at Kansas City. Miami’s defense played well in the win over the Titans, but it was the offense that opened a lot of eyes around the NFL. The once conservative Fish were filling the air with passes and running back Lamar Smith proved he’s a threat as a runner and receiver. Look for these two to play it close to the vest and in games like that, always go with the home team. My pick, Miami 20, Oakland 17

San Diego at Dallas: Just when you thought this would be one of the Cowboys’ two wins on the season, the Chargers jump up and whomp Washington 30-3 in their opener, so Dallas had better not think this one is a gimmie. The Chargers are a young and talented group and quarterback Doug Flutie and rookie running back LaDanian Tomlinson have breathed new life into what was a drab offense a year ago. The Cowboys played hard in their opener, but rookie quarterback Quincy Carter looked overmatched against the Tampa Bay defense. Dallas must keep up the defensive intensity it showed in the opener because you can bet the Chargers are hungry to erase the memories of last year’s 1-15 campaign. My pick, Dallas 17, San Diego 13

St. Louis at San Francisco: Get out the calculators for this one. Both of these teams can score with any team in the league, but it appears both have improved their defensive play if Week 1 is any indication. The Rams looked solid in their 20-17 overtime win at Philadelphia, while the 49ers earned a hard-fought 16-13 OT win over Atlanta in their opener. These two teams do not like one another, so expect a hard-hitting affair by the Bay on Sunday. The nod goes to the Rams in this one because of their overall team speed on offense. My pick, St. Louis 33, San Francisco 26

Washington at Green Bay: Wasn’t it a joy to watch little Danny Snyder’s ‘Skins get trounced by San Diego two weeks ago? Yes it was. The Redskins, two years removed as NFC East champs, looked like an old football team in the first week of the season. Jeff George is up to his old tricks of pouting (and throwing interceptions) on the sidelines, while the defense was pushed all over the field by the upstart Chargers. Green Bay, on the other hand, looked in midseason form in its 28-6 win over Detroit. Quarterback Brett Favre was sharp and running back Ahman Green proved he is developing into one of the league’s elite backs with two long touchdown runs and 177 yards of total offense. Look for the Pack to light up the ‘Skins on Monday night. My pick, Green Bay 31, Washington 14.

On the Fly… Early Teal Season is in Full Swing

For the avid Texas wingshooter, September is life in the fast lane. It opens quickly with dove – arguably one of the swiftest of all gamebirds – and picks up speed when teal roll through the state.
If you missed the opening day of early teal season last Saturday, it may be that it flew by as fast as did the little ducks.

While dove hunting usually takes center stage in September, Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists say hunters shouldn’t overlook the opportunity, not to mention the challenge of teal hunting.

The wet late summer was bad for the opening of dove season, but all the water has been good for the early arriving teal. It seems a little unusual to be sitting in a duck blind in short sleeves in mid-September, sweating and swatting at mosquitoes between flights of clustered teal.

Last year, about 30,000 hunters took advantage of the early season. According to Dave Morrison, TPW waterfowl program leader, hunters harvested about 95,000 birds. “As is the case with all duck hunting, water is the key to success,” says Morrison.

“Teal are showing up on ponds, which is earlier than usual, Morrison noted. “It’s still pretty dry across most of the state, but where there is water, you are probably going to see some birds this year.”

There are three species of these small puddle ducks. Although green-winged and cinnamon teal show up in the bag, blue-wings make up about 96% of the teal harvest during the early season. Like mourning dove, blue-winged teal migrate early, coming through Texas from late August through October. Early teal season was established to provide hunting opportunity on a species that was lightly harvested because its migration is earlier than other ducks.

Because teal numbers remain well above the long-term population goals in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Texas is allowed to conduct a 16 day early hunting season. The U.S. fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are 5.8 million blue-wings in this year’s breeding duck population. This year, the early teal season runs September 15-30 statewide. Legal shooting hours for teal are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. The daily bag limit is four, and the possession limit is eight ducks.

“Hunting teal is usually hit or miss, depending on weather conditions,” said Morrison. ‘What impacts teal season the most is the timing of the cool fronts in September. With a 16 day season, we have the opportunity to bracket the fronts coming through later in the month.”

Hunters along the coast can also take advantage of fall equinox tides that typically arrive in September, according to TPW biologist Todd Merendino in Bay City. “We’re holding some fresh water on Peach Point (Wildlife Management Area) and prospects for big ducks at Mad Island WMA during the general season are looking pretty good. Overall, once the equinox tides start coming in, we should have a pretty good season.”

In addition to the above-mentioned sites, almost 50 other units of public hunting lands covering more than 500,000 acres are available during the September teal season. A $40 Annual Public Hunting Permit is required. These permits are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. A map booklet and dove supplement detailing location and hunting restrictions on public lands will be issued upon purchase of the annual hunting permit from a TPW office or mailed within two weeks if the permit is bought at a retail license outlet.

Teal hunters are also reminded that a $7 special Texas Waterfowl Stamp and a $15 Federal Duck Stamp are required to hunt teal. In addition, certification in the Harvest Information Program is mandatory in order to hunt any migratory game bird in Texas. HIP certification is free of charge and is completed at the time of hunting license purchase. Hunters are asked a few simple questions about their migratory bird hunting activity last season and about their plans for hunting doves, ducks, geese and sandhill cranes this year.
Before the early teal season ends, I intend to take advantage of the brief season to test my shooting skills at hitting the speedy blue-wings.

I’ll have to hurry to make a hunt, and I may have to speed up my shotgun swing to have a chance at a tasty duck dinner.

Delinquent parents risk seizure of Federal tax rebate checks

Q: I heard that the Attorney General’s office can seize federal tax rebate checks from parents who are not making child support payments. How does this work?

A: The Federal Tax Refund Offset Program allows the Office of the Attorney General to seize tax refund and rebate checks from parents who are behind on their court-ordered child support payments. If you are working with the Office of the Attorney General on child support payments, my office will submit your case for IRS offset according to federally specified criteria. If the parent who owes child support is due a refund, the amount of past due payments is taken out of the refund check and sent to the Attorney General’s child support division. In Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) cases, the State keeps the money to help pay for TANF payments.

In non-TANF cases, the State gives the money directly to the parent and the child(ren).
Cases eligible for a tax refund offset are ones that have delinquent child support orders. For cases receiving TANF, the amount owed by non-custodial parents must be at least $150, and the parent who owes support must be at least three months behind in child support payments.

For non-TANF cases, the amount owed must be at least $500. The case must also involve a child who is less than 18 years of age, or an adult disabled child.

If the parent who owes child support does not file taxes, or is not due a refund or a rebate, there won’t be a collection to repay the child support.
This month, rebate checks resulting from President Bush’s tax reduction plan were intercepted along with IRS refund checks that are collected on a regular basis through-out the year. This year, of 456,957 names submitted, the Office of the Attorney General has collected $103.7 million in IRS rebate and refund checks involving 108,514 delinquent parents.

An estimated $3.3 million came from the intercepted rebate checks alone.

In addition to IRS interceptions, our office uses measures such as income withholding, license suspension and passport denial to compel non-custodial parents to pay.

In the last two years, child support collections by our Child Support Division have increased from $757 million in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 1998 to $1.029 billion in SFY 2000, a 36 percent increase in only two years. The $161 million increase from SFY 1999 to SFY 2000 is the largest dollar increase in child support collections in the history of the Texas program.

We expect to have another record setting year in SFY 2001 ending August 31.

Q: I have to pay school tax, county tax, income tax and nothing is left but bills. Child support is excessive if you have a wife and other children. How can you expect me to pay this?

A: While I appreciate your situation, you must understand that you have both a legal and moral obligation to all of your children, not just the ones in your new family.

State law outlines how much non-custodial parents are required to pay for child support. It is a standard percentage of your income based on the number of children involved. This is not an arbitrary decision meant to punish you.

I understand that you have a new family to support, but you can not turn your back on the children you owe child support to because your relationship with their mother did not work out.

All of your children, not just the ones you live with, need and deserve your support, both financial and emotional.

Legally, you are obligated by court orders to continue your payments. If you stop making payment, you may face legal actions such as a mark on your credit report, a suspended driver’s license or, worse, jail time.

For more information on child support services offered by our office, call us at (800) 252-8014 or visit our Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Pet of the Week

This week’s featured pet is a five-year-old, female Japanese Bob-Tail mix. She is silver and white with grey tabby stripes and a white bib.
Like all the animals at the shelter, she has been spayed and has received all her vaccinations.
If you would like to adopt her or any of the other companion animals that are available at the Harris County Rabies/Animal Control Shelter, go to 612 Canino west of Hardy or call 281-999-3191 for hours and information.