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Northeast News

Aldine ISD educators complete space discovery graduate courses

Recently, 22 Aldine ISD educators in the multilingual department completed the Space Discovery graduate courses this summer at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, CO.

The Space Discovery week long college level courses were conducted by the Space Foundation and were designed to help K-12 educators prepare students for the global work force.

In the ‘Living in Space and Basic Rocketry” course, educators learned about rockets, life and survival with an in-depth study of rocketry, astronomy and aeronautics. Participants studied human space flight, the effects of micro gravity on the human body and the physics of a space environment.

They also built and launched model rockets and experienced weightlessness during an underwater neutral buoyancy experiment.

“Astronomy Principals for the Classroom and Life-long Learners,” focused on NASA’s enterprise for space science.

The courses were taught by several experts that included Dr. Paul Vergez, USAFA professor of astronautics and several academy instructors.
The program also featured speakers such as Mike Coats, a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of three space flights. Coats has logged more than 460 hours in space.

Coats is currently vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Denver, CO.

District administrators who attended were Christina Gomez, program director of elementary bilingual/ESL (English as a Second Language) education and Amy Hirasaki, program director of secondary ESL education. Schools represented at the Space Discovery summer program were Gray Elementary, Worsham Elementary, Goodman Elementary, Eisenhower Sr. High, Black Elementary, Anderson Academy, Caraway Intermediate, de Santiago EC/PK Center, Odom Elementary, Stovall Academy, Oleson Elementary, Hinojosa EC/PK Center, Johnson Elementary. Stovall Middle, and Smith Academy.
According to J.C. Harville, director of multilingual services, the district has been sending teachers to the program for the past three years.

“Teachers and students both benefit from the program,” said Harville. “Students are able to make and launch different rockets and understand the science of rocketry.

“The Space Foundation staff do an excellent job of providing hands-on instruction that will benefit the teaching of space science to our students.”
The Space Foundation has conducted Space Discovery graduate courses since 1986, training more than 12,000 teachers about “Teaching with Space.” All Foundation courses meet state and national educational standards.

State Expands Fall Hunting Opportunities

If you want to hunt this fall, particularly for deer or dove, but you have a limited budget or are new to the state, Texas Parks and Wildlife offers hunting opportunities through its public hunting program.

In Texas, where most of the land is privately owned and access for hunting is a limited commodity, finding and affording a place to hunt can be difficult for the average hunter. TPW provides reasonably priced public hunting access to 1.2 million acres of land that is owned, managed or leased by the department.

Hunters have several options available from TPW, including application for high-end guided package hunts on private land through the Big Time Texas Hunts program and entry into special drawings for self-guided hunts on state parks, wildlife management areas and some private ranches. In addition, hunters can pursue a variety of game throughout the season on more than one million acres of public land and 90,000 acres of leased private land – primarily for dove and small game hunting – for the price of a $40 Annual Public Hunting Permit.

The annual hunting permit became available August 15 wherever hunting licenses are sold. Permit holders receive through the mail a map booklet detailing available public hunting lands along with supplemental information on 137 public dove hunting areas.

This year, more than 6,000 hunters will be selected to participate in special big game hunts on TPW-managed lands. Through an application process, hunters can select from among 15 different categories and choose a preferred hunt date and location from 38 state parks and 29 WMAs. There is even an option for selecting who will be included in the hunt if drawn – up to 4 hunters can apply together on one application as a group. Youth-only hunt categories are open to hunters between the ages of 8 and 17 at the time of application. All hunt positions are randomly selected in a computer drawing from all completed entries received by deadline.

Because the special drawing deer hunt categories have become so popular, TPW has added two new categories this year, offering 200 hunters the chance to participate in a management deer hunt on private land. In one category, hunters can apply to hunt for a management buck (usually having forked antlers with 8 or fewer points) while the other category offers a chance to take a Spike buck and an anti antlerless deer.

The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers some of the finest premier guided hunts in the state.
Proceeds from BTTH, which offers $10 applications for special drawings for premier hunting trips, pay for additional public hunting opportunities and wildlife conservation in Texas.

Last year TPW received 79,439 entries for the 25 positions in special drawing hunt categories:
Texas Grand Slam – a once-in-a-lifetime package of four separate hunts for desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer.

Texas Exotic Safari – hunts for a combination of exotic species on the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Texas Whitetail Bonanza – 20 guided hunts of three to five days on ranches. This year, winners will be allowed to bring a hunting partner along, and both will be able to take a quality buck.

Texas Big Time Bird Hunt – a whirlwind series of hunts for the winner and three guests, including a two-day quail hunt, two days of prime pheasant hunting in the Panhandle, and two days of dove hunting. The winner can also take one hunting partner on a spring turkey hunt.

Texas Waterfowl Adventure – series of up to four separate hunts, including geese on the coastal prairie and in the Panhandle, and ducks in East Texas and along the coastal marshes.

In its fifth year, the program has grown in popularity and generated substantial funding for the state’s wildlife conservation program. Last year, as a result of the Big Time Texas Hunts program, we were able to put $400,000 into providing additional public hunting opportunity and game conservation and research in Texas,” said Herb Kothmann, TPW public hunting program director.
Consequently, two additional deer hunting categories have been added to the Big Time Texas Hunts program this year:

Texas Premium Buck Hunt – one winner and a hunting partner each get an opportunity to take a quality buck on a premier hunting ranch.

Texas Heritage Hunt – offers 10 winners a chance to take a quality buck. Each hunter must also take a youth hunter (ages 8-16) who will also be allowed to take a buck.

All Big Time Texas Hunts packages include food, lodging, and a hunting guide. As you begin making plans for the upcoming hunting seasons, there are some deadlines to keep in mind in order to participate in the public hunting program.

Application deadline for pronghorn antelope hunts on the Rita Blanca National Grasslands north of Dalhart was August 14. Bowhunters have until August 22 to apply for special drawn public archery hunts. Entries for the general gun season deer hunts must be completed by September 12. Deadline to apply for the Big Time Texas Hunts is November 3.

Application booklets were mailed at the end of July to those who applied for the drawings by special permit last year. The booklets are available this month at some TPW offices.

The fall hunting season is rapidly approaching. Make plans now to take advantage of Texas’ vast hunting opportunities.

Evangelist Donald Morris hopes to increase distribution of Bibles

Evangelist Donald L. Morris, founder and president of International Words of Eternal Life Faith Ministries, has once again taken on a really big project.

Morris’ new project, Project 20,000 Plus Triple Double, hopes to distribute 100-400 thousand Bibles and New Testaments throughout Texas, with a particular emphasis on the approximately 50 school districts in the state.

Thus far this year, Morris’s ministry has distributed over 700,000 items including Bibles, Testaments, tracts, Bible reading guides, cassettes, CDs, keychains, sports equipment, food, clothing, and toys, all with a Christian message or logo.

Many of the items are distributed at the Convoy of Hope, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas Big Feasts at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Local churches benefit from Morris’s contributions as well as churches in distant locations such as Peru, Mexico and Africa.

Currently, Morris is seeking a grant, hopefully as much as 100%, from the American Bible Society that will allow him to increase, double or even triple the number of Bibles and other materials he will have to distribute.

For more information about Project 20,000 Plus Triple Double or to make a contribution, call Donald Morris at 281-449-1181.

Wanted for Capital Murder

This week’s Crime Stoppers report involves the capital murder of a woman in southeast Houston.

On Friday, April 20 between the hours of 9:45 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Christina Marie Mamou a 32-year-old Black woman was robbed and murdered in her apartment located in the 2600 block of Westridge.
The victim was last seen by her husband when he left for work at approx. 9:45 p.m.
The victim’s husband returned home at approx. 4:00 a.m. and discovered the gruesome scene.
Mamou’s nude body was lying face down on the bedroom floor. Her hands and feet were bound with gray duct tape and she had a wound to the back of her head.

The events leading up to the victim’s death are unknown. Evidence at the scene indicated that an unknown suspect or suspects forced their way into the front door of the victim’s apartment.
They then ransacked the apartment looking for valuables and murdered the victim. The suspect or suspects stole an undetermined amount of cash. They fled the scene, leaving behind a TV and VCR, which they stacked in the middle of the living room on the floor.

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.

Ruth’s House helps kids go back to school

Hundreds of poor children from northeast Houston who couldn’t afford school supplies and uniforms this year found a helping hand from an old friend. Ruth’s House Assistance Ministry, a ministry of Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc., distributed pencils, paper and other basic supplies to 334 Houston children through its annual Back-to-School program. Ruth’s House also provided 288 school uniforms to needy children.

“This program lessens needy families’ financial strain when readying their children for school,” said Ruth’s House Director Ophelia Webb. Education is important for every child. If we can remove some barriers in children’s learning, then we have done something positive.”

Since 1998, the Back-to-School program has served children in northeast Houston through partnerships with area businesses and donations from individuals, community organizations and church congregations.

Ruth’s House has served individuals and families facing unexpected financial crises in northeast Houston since 1992. Assistance includes the distribution of food and clothing, rent and utility vouchers, back-to-school supplies and special assistance during the holidays. Ruth’s House also hosts innovative programs that empower the needy to successfully support their families.

Lutheran Social Services of the South is the social service arm of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. LSS annually serves nearly 26,000 poor, children and elderly in Texas and Louisiana regardless of religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender or age. Its ministry includes emergency assistance, children’s residential treatment centers, therapeutic foster care, adoption, adult day care, health care and retirement centers and disaster response.

Public Assistance and Child Support

Q: I do not receive any form of public support for my children. I have heard that the Office of the Attorney General puts parents who receive welfare ahead of those who don’t when providing child support services. Is that true?

A: No. The Office of the Attorney General is required by law to provide child support services to all parents equally. Families who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and/or Medicaid benefits and families who apply for our services but do not receive public assistance are entitled to the same services, free of charge.
To receive TANF benefits through the Texas Department of Human Services, recipients must cooperate with the Office of the Attorney General’s efforts to identify their child(ren)’s non-custodial parent and collect child support. The State of Texas wants non-custodial parents to pay child support and provide medical insurance instead of Texas taxpayers.

When a custodial parent applies for TANF benefits, the case is automatically referred to the Office of the Attorney General and a child support file is opened.

A TANF recipient must also assign to the State the right to collect child support. The parent receives a supplemental grant of up to $50 each month that child support is collected. The rest of the support payment is used to reimburse the state and federal governments for benefits received by the family. When the family goes off TANF, all subsequent support payments are sent to the custodial parent.

Custodial or non-custodial parents of children who do not receive public assistance must contact the Office of the Attorney General to open a child support case. Parents can call the nearest child support field office listed in the phone directory or call toll free (1-800-252-8014) to request an application. Applications are also available from the child support section of the Attorney General’s Web site at

Q: Why do you always refer to “dead beat dads” and never mention “dead beat moms”?

A: The Office of the Attorney General does not use the term “dead beat dad.” Such a phrase can mistakenly paint all non-custodial parents as “dead beat” fathers who fail to pay child support and provide emotional involvement in the lives of their child(ren). Thousands of non-custodial fathers across Texas support their children financially and emotionally.

Furthermore, the gender of the non-custodial parent has no bearing on whether he or she is paying child support. It is a sad fact that, many non-custodial mothers and fathers fail to meet their financial and moral obligation to pay child support. In these cases, my office differentiates between “dead broke” parents and “dead beat” parents.
Those who cannot pay child support because they don’t have a job are “dead broke.” If they want to do the right thing and support their children, we will help them get a job so they can pay their child support.

The Office of the Attorney General has established an innovative program in conjunction with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Parents are referred by the courts to participate in job training and employment referral programs provided by the Local Workforce Development Board in many cities across the state.

Parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, even though they are financially capable of doing so, are “dead beats” and morally bankrupt. The Attorney General’s office uses legal remedies to garnishee wages, suspend licenses and intercept tax refunds.

When all else fails, the Office of the Attorney General works with local authorities to arrest and incarcerate delinquent non-custodial parents. Parents who are arrested face up to six months in jail.

Felony offenders can receive a maximum of two years in jail.

Houston Community College students weigh results of Zero-G experiments

Two Houston Community College student teams, which flew their microgravity experiments in zero gravity aboard a KC-135 through the Johnson Space Center’s Community College Reduced Gravity Student Flight Campaign, have completed their data analysis in post-flight reports to NASA.

Both teams, under the guidance of Dr. Robert Keating, biology instructor and chair of the HCC-NW biological sciences department, along with faculty advisors, Drs. Judith Solti, Richard Merritt and Ed McNack, are now presenting their project results to Houston area middle and high schools to encourage student interest in science and space.

Biology students Pamela McMullen, Claudia Gonzalez, and Philip Pablo studied the effects of 0G and 1.8G conditions on the tonic responses of Elodea plant cells.

“If we’re going to travel and live in outer space,” says Philip Pablo, “we’ll need to know how to grow food in zero gravity conditions. This experiment will help determine which nutrient solutions are best suited to long-term hydroponic plant growth.”

Elodea camidensis is an aquatic perennial whose thin leaf and chloroplast and cytoplasmic streaming are easily observed under a microscope.

The students mounted fresh samples of Elodea leaf on slides prior to the flight.

A microscope attached to a video camera and recorder monitored the morphology of the leaves for later analysis. Control experiments were conducted simultaneously on the ground. Additionally, fresh Elodea plants were flown in three separate containers of isotonic, hypertonic and hypotonic solutions that were placed in a flight bag and observed post-flight for structural changes.

The in-flight slide samples revealed that the G forces associated with takeoff alone were sufficient to cause some changes in the cellular morphology of the Elodea leaf.

The team surmised that changes in cell shape during the flights might be attributed to the chemical nature of the cell wall. Plant cell walls are made of cellulose, which shows a considerable amount of resilience that could change in response to varying gravitational environments. Though the effects of normal gravity on the orientation of plants are well established, the results of marked changes in gravity on plants are not as clearly defined
The contained Elodea samples in three solutions yielded similar responses to the slide samples, namely that cellular changes were more pronounced than in the control samples. The results of these experiments provide some initial information on cellular alterations that could impact sustaining plant life over long-term space travel.

Students Kimberley McMahon, Chip Kaiser, Philip Lanham, Angela Mills, and Julie Vaught developed an experiment to compare the effect of reduced gravity on the vital signs of students compared to those obtained in a normal gravitational environment.

Using a computerized Biopak™ student physiology unit, they were able to take multiple measurements – pulse rate, reflex reaction times, and electrocardiography – with one apparatus
Alternating as subjects and observers on the flight, the students performed various actions throughout the 0G to 2G range while tethered to the Biopak. Their initial hypothesis was that the human body would show increased effects of stress during 1.8G to 0G; conversely, 0G will produce decreased effects in the human body as compared to 1G (control).

Control data was obtained from the subjects in a seated, relaxed position several weeks prior to the flights. The flight data was recorded on the test subjects in various positions during 0G and 1.8G. Control and in-flight procedures were the same. The subject was connected to three sensors that monitored the physiological responses and led into a transducer that relayed the information to the computer. The flight observer set up the software, calibrated the computer for data recording, operated the apparatus and monitored the subject.
Flight data was recorded on the test subject in three positions. The first ten parabolas were in the standing position, the second ten were in the sitting position and following five were in the reclining position.

In general, the subject’s ECG was elevated during the entire flight, as compared to normal (1G) control readings. The subject’s pulse rate was elevated during the 1.8G and 0G segments. The 1.0G control data showed lower pulse levels.
The subject’s respiration was depressed to the point of a flat line at times (0-volume exchange) during the 1.8G phase. However, the 0G phases produced a wide and exaggerated respiration spectrum versus the control rate that revealed a rhythmic pattern.

During both the 0G and 1.8G, the galvanic response showed a wider range with the occurrence of peaks.
By comparison, the control data remained at a constant level.

Chip Kaiser noted, “Although the human body does not much like the shock (initially heart rate increases as does galvanic response, and respiration is labored under 2G) eventually the body adjusts.

At least that is our preliminary finding. Overall, 2G is more demanding short term, but long term it all seems to balance out.”

The team determined that variations in the physiological responses of the subject could be due to several factors other than gravitational force fluctuations, such as age, flight experience, level of apprehension, effect of medication, amount of rest, food intake, environmental in-flight variables and hardware sensitivity
Post-flight data analysis revealed the initial hypothesis was not completely substantiated.

During the 1.8G conditions there appeared to be an accentuation of the physiological stresses when compared to 1.0G.

The presumption (that 0G would be less stressful than 1.8G was not correct. Based on these preliminary observations, it appears that different gravitational conditions do alter the physiological responses measured in this experiment, but further experimentation with more subjects is needed to more precisely analyze these responses.

The data collected from these experiments will benefit NASA and others by providing a supplemental reference; the data will be presented at scientific meetings and published in scientific journals.
Donn Sickorez, University Affairs Officer at JSC, points out that the Reduced Gravity Program tends to have a maturing affect on participating students.

“The students’ proposals are evaluated on scientific merit, feasibility of the design, test and fabrication plan, compliance with NASA experiment safety protocols, and the team’s education and outreach plan. They quickly realize this is a real world, adult experience and it changes them.”

In fact, each team is required to develop a program for sharing the results of its experiment with teachers, students and the public after the flights. Teams must analyze their data, prepare education and information materials, and submit post-flight reports.

The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Campaign is sponsored by NASA and administered by the Texas Space Grant Consortium.

Aldine community approves sales tax

The board of directors of the Aldine Community District met Monday evening to canvass the vote from the recent election. Voters in Aldine went to the polls to vote on two propositions for the newly created Aldine Community District.

Proposition One that allows for a one cent sales tax within the boundaries of the district won support from 59% of the voters. All revenue generated by the sales tax will remain in the Aldine Community District for neighborhood improvement and operation of the district. The district would have existed in name only without passage of this proposition.

Proposition Two that would have given additional authority to the board of directors failed by a narrow margin to receive voter support.

Area State Representative Kevin Bailey who authored the legislation calling for the election, said: “This is great news. It’s an exciting day for Aldine. The district will pave the way for a bright future of economic growth and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”

After certifying the results of the election the board of directors voted to adopt the sales tax as allowed by the voters. The State Comptrollers Office is being notified of the new sales tax and a request was submitted for the collection of the new tax. The Comptrollers Office will have to prepare an inventory of businesses within the district and send written notification to those businesses before the tax can be collected. It is estimated that area businesses will begin charging the one cent tax on about October 1 of this year.

The board of directors will begin a search for an executive director to run the day to day operation of the district. They will now have an opportunity to improve the area by developing and implementing a service plan to maximize service from such entities as Harris County, Metro, the Texas Department of Transportation and other government agencies.

Storm Debris Pick Up Update

Residents of Commissioner’s Precinct 1 (El Franco Lee) who still have storm debris to be picked up should call 281-820-5151. Operations Supervisor for Lee, Deotis Gay, informed The News last Friday that Precinct 1 will pick up debris twice a week and will honor specific individual requests for pick up.

David Floyd, Senior Assistant to Precinct 2 Commissioner Jim Fonteno, advised The News, also on Friday, that Precinct 2 will make no more storm debris collections. If you live in Precinct 2 and do not have city heavy trash service, you must arrange and pay for a private contractor to pick up any remaining debris.

Most, but not all of the homes that receive the Northeast News are in Precinct 1. If you are not sure which precinct your home is in call El Franco Lee at 713-755-6111 or Jim Fonteno at 713-755-6220. Their staff members will be able to tell you which precinct you are in based on your street address.