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In Brief


District III Captain O’Brien Steps Up Traffic Enforcement in School Zones

8/28/2004

As of August 16, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Captain Michael J. O’Brien of District III has assigned patrol deputies to step up traffic enforcement in school zones located in Galena Park ISD, Goose Creek ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Sheldon ISD, and Channelview ISD.

Several deputies will be assigned to monitor the various school zones for speeders with hand held radar detectors as well as a radar trailer. The deputies who are assigned to this detail will enforce “zero tolerance” for any traffic violation they observe, especially speeders, and those who pass school busses in the process of loading and unloading children. Citizens can help in this effort to make the streets safer for the school age children by simply following the traffic laws.




November 14 Edition


What’s New - Links to articles only

CCISD - CCISD rated best large school district in Texas

Higher Education - Fall 2007 Success Through Education Program scholarship winners announced

Government - Attorney General Abbott's Fugitive Unit arrests four Sex Offenders – two from Houston – who violated parole on Halloween

Government - Gov. Perry awards $576,000 to Crime Stoppers programs

Government - Cornyn urges fairness for Texas taxpayers; Decries obstruction of two key Tax Relief bills

Gardening - County pecan growers display their successes

Religion - A traveling companion


November 7 Edition

What’s New - Links to articles only

League City News
- The 14th Annual Festival of Trees is set for the week after Thanksgiving

Higher Education - Lecture advises how to avoid scams and Harvest Fair

Government - Two Auto Credit Insurance Companies agree to premium refunds; AG files legal action against another

Government - Gov. Perry Announces U.S. Small Business Administration Assistance for Galveston and Jefferson Counties

Government - Cornyn introduces bill to extend college tuition deduction

Gardening - Make plans for moving houseplants back inside

Religion - Learning our lessons


October 31 Edition

Police: Blue Santa program needs more help

League City Police Department image

Program needs gifts and donation

From The City of League City Police Department

October 31, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The League City Blue Santa Program is gearing up for the holidays. The program gives toys and bikes to children in the community that may not otherwise receive anything for Christmas.

The Blue Santa Program is coordinated by the Community Services Officer of the League City Police Department. They are assisted by volunteers from the Vehicle Maintenance Department, Police Department, E.M.S., Fire Department and the community.

The program also provides gift certificates to families so they may buy food from a local grocery store. In 2006, we provided gifts to over 155 families and over 460 children. We currently provide toys for children who are infants up to those who are 14 years of age.

This year, Blue Santas’ Elves are hosting a Christmas party for the families. You may register at the League City Police Department, starting November 1st until December 7th.

The program is currently in need of gifts for children ages 0 to 2, 10 to 14, and cash donations. If you have any questions please contact Ofc. Christy Galyean at 281-338-8201.


10 Women — 10 Perspectives art exhibit


10th Annual Juried Photography Exhibition

The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake

Nov. 1 through 29

Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Works of area artists expressed in a variety of photographic media

Who: Artists of the region (including Lousiana)
Where: The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake
2000 NASA Parkway (across from Johnson Space Center)
Cost: No admission fee
For information: Call Debra Kendrick
at 281-335-7777

- Opening Reception November 1st

“Mythical. Spiritual. Fantastical. Intuitive. Intimate. All are words that describe the creative works to be displayed in 10 Women, 10 Perspectives.”—Jean Rudniki, Change Magazine

October 31, 2007

HOUSTON—The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake has invited ten artists to share their unique perspectives with Houston’s Bay Area between November 1st and November 29th. The opening reception will take place on November 1st from 7 to 9 p.m. – admission is free.

Following is a breakdown of the featured artists, where they come from and the media in which they work:

Julie Brook Alexander – Houston - photographic collage

Tara Conley - Houston - sculpture (soft sculpture, installations, 3D hanging works)

Rebecca Etcheverry - Cypress - abstract painting

Amy Guidry – Lafayette, La. - painting (close range portraiture)

Gabriella Nissen – Houston - photography

Donna Perkins – Baytown - mixed media drawings

Natalie Skynear – Galveston – paintings

Georganna Tapley - Galveston - 3 D mixed media, installations, drawings, paintings

Saralene Tapley – Galveston - mixed media figurative paintings

Sandra York – Houston - abstract paintings

This exhibit is generously underwritten by Beyond Beauté with Change Magazine as media sponsor. Lisa Hamilton, executive director of TAACCL expressed her gratitude, “Shirley Terry-Lopez and Carla Medlenka have joined forces to help us present the work of these first rate artists. Their support made this extraordinary exhibit possible.” 

Shirley Terry-Lopez, who is not only the president/CEO of Beyond Beauté Salon and spas but a well-known advocate for women’s health said, "When I was asked to sponsor this incredible event there wasn't even a second thought except Yes! In my 21 years of supporting and directing women to go beyond old beliefs and give birth to the incredible women they truly are, I can't imagine any other way to express and share their unique wonder than through an expression of art. These10 talented women not only create an awareness of the beauty of art on canvas, they serve as cheerleaders for other women by lighting a pathway for their journey to their own success story. Now, that is well worth supporting!!"

Change Magazine publisher Carla Medlenka said, "I am thrilled and honored to support women in the arts. It is a bold and courageous soul who tackles a blank canvas, page or space and fills it with her personal expression for all the world to see. The creative process is indeed an agent for change and reflects the artist in each of us. When we honor and celebrate the creative process, we welcome and encourage our own inspiration and potential. I look forward to stepping out of reality and into the works of these ten talented women—A much needed breath of fresh air!"

The exhibit will be on display through November 29th. Patrons can view the work Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or during Clear Lake Infiniti Open Mic Jazz on November 15th from 7 – 9 p.m. The Center is located on NASA Parkway across from the Johnson Space Center.

About The Arts Alliance Center of Clear Lake

The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake (TAACCL) is Bay Area Houston’s cultural arts center. The alliance consists of over 50 nonprofit arts organizations, including educational institutions, dance and drama theatres, guilds of basket-weavers and quilters, writers' leagues, choral groups and musicians, from bluegrass to symphonies.

Since 1997, the Center has hosted monthly multi-media art exhibitions, year-round arts classes for all ages, and live performances ranging from concerts to dramatic recitals. The Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit multidiscipline arts organization, and is conveniently located across from NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Public arts programs at The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake are made possible in part by a grant from Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) and generous contributions from the City of Nassau Bay and the City of Webster.


Higher Ed - New Support Staff Officers - UHCL picture

Charity Ellis has been named director of alumni and community relations at University of Houston-Clear Lake. Ellis began serving as director Sept. 1.

UH-Clear Lake names alumni and community relations director

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

October 31, 2007

HOUSTONUniversity of Houston-Clear Lake named Charity Ellis director of alumni and community relations. Ellis, who joined the university in 2006 as coordinator of alumni relations, officially stepped into the position Sept. 1.

“Charity has done an outstanding job in her service as coordinator, enhancing existing programs and developing new ones with great success,” said UH-Clear Lake Associate Vice President for University Advancement Dion McInnis. “Among her many duties in the short term will be to hire two coordinators to assist alumni and community relations pursue its goals under her leadership.”

Ellis joined the university after a four-year stint as community resources and education manager at Bay Area Turning Point Inc. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from UH-Clear Lake in 2002.

“I’m looking forward to this new challenge,” said Ellis. “I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people during this past year, and I look forward to continuing that work as well as developing new programs and opportunities.”

As the coordinator, Ellis oversaw outreach and programming to university alumni and community; managed and implemented special projects and initiatives; and served as liaison to numerous community groups who work closely with the university. She also created the copy for the bimonthly eConnections newsletter sent to university alumni.

Future plans for Ellis as director include hiring two coordinators who will assist in sustaining and strengthening alumni relations initiatives and community relations programs.

She also will continue refining the current programs available as well as expanding their offerings. Ellis’ most recent development includes the creation of alumni association identification cards for the university’s 44,000 alumni. The card allows alumni to more easily enjoy all of their benefits including a free subscription to university magazine Egret and alumni newsletter eConnections; free career information, job postings, networking, résumé and interview assistance from the Office of Career and Counseling Services; free computer training classes offered by the University of Houston System IT Training Department; 10 percent discount on face-to-face courses offered by Center for Advanced Management Programs; 10 percent discount on all classes offered by the Foreign Language Program; a student discount rate on all UHCL Cultural Arts performances; and socials, lectures and career-networking events throughout the year.

For more information about the association or how to get involved, contact Ellis at 281-283-2019 or ellisc@uhcl.edu.

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 30 undergraduate and over 40 graduate degree programs, as well as a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering.

Higher Ed Calendar

Gardening - County Pecan Show on Thursday, November 8

Religion - A place to stand


October 24 Mini-Edition


Government - Home picture
Modifed photo credit- Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Attorney General Abbott halts foreclosure rescue scam's unlawful Texas operations

Clients of Foreclosure Assistance Solutions urged to call their lenders immediately

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

October 24, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN – The 408th District Court has issued a temporary injunction against a Florida-based “foreclosure rescue” scheme. Under the court order sought by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Foreclosure Assistance Solutions, LLC of Florida, and its principal operators, Herb Zerden and Adolfo Quintero, as well as J.W.W. Services, Inc. of California and owner John Woodruff, are prohibited from targeting and deceiving Texans who fall behind on their mortgage payments.

Last September, the Attorney General obtained an emergency restraining order and froze assets belonging to Foreclosure Assistance Solutions and its various operators. The temporary injunction issued this week extends the initial order, securing approximately $750,000 in fees that the defendants charged more than 700 Texans who paid for its services. The monies will remain frozen pending further orders from the court.

“This court ruling prohibits these unscrupulous ‘services’ from unlawfully preying on struggling homeowners,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans who fall behind on their mortgage payments should be very wary of anyone promising to save their homes for a large fee. We will remain vigilant and will take aggressive enforcement action to protect Texas consumers.”

According to the Attorney General’s enforcement action, the defendants mailed cards and letters to homeowners who were facing foreclosure because of delinquent mortgage payments. The defendants’ promotional materials boasted established relationships with mortgage companies and banks nationwide. These purported relationships, Foreclosure Assistance Solutions claimed, would enable it to persuade lenders to refrain from foreclosing on its customers.

Homeowners who responded to Foreclosure Assistance Solutions were pressured to immediately sign a $1,200 contract. Once Foreclosure Assistance Solutions received its fee, company representatives rarely interacted with clients. When homeowners repeatedly called the company seeking information or action, they were ignored. Because the terms of the company’s customer contract strictly prohibited homeowners from directly contacting their mortgage companies, Foreclose Assistance Solutions’ inaction worsened the situation for many homeowners.

The temporary injunction prohibits the defendants from continuing to target and mislead troubled Texas homeowners.

The court’s order also requires that Foreclosure Assistance Solutions disclose important account information to its Texas customers. Specifically, the defendants must provide each of its customers with a written statement describing every contact the company’s representatives had with the customer’s mortgage company. The disclosure statement must include the specific dates of contact, the mortgage company representative with whom they spoke, and the results of the contact. If Foreclosure Assistance Solutions representatives learn they cannot prevent a home from going into foreclosure, the company is obligated to notify the home owner within 48 hours. Foreclosure Assistance Solutions must also provide refunds to any of its existing customers it is unable to help.

The Attorney General reminded the company’s customers that they should not wait for Foreclosure Assistance Solutions to contact them about the status of their mortgage. Homeowners need to call their lenders immediately and ask what preventative measures, if any, the defendants have taken on their behalf.

The pending legal action seeks court-ordered restitution for homeowners who were harmed by the defendant as well as civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Additionally, the Attorney General has requested up to $5,000 per violation for failure to register as a business that conducts telephone solicitations.

The Office of the Attorney General is engaged in a variety of efforts to protect Texas homeowners. Last month, Attorney General Abbott launched the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force, a partnership that involves key state regulatory agencies to take a proactive stance towards tracking and prosecuting mortgage fraud.

This month, Attorney General Abbott urged three of the largest mortgage lenders and servicing companies doing business in Texas to take steps to address the high rate of foreclosures in the state. In meetings with EMC Mortgage, Countrywide Mortgage and Litton Loan Servicing, he outlined five measures that the companies should implement to restore borrowers’ financial stability, including stepping-up efforts to convert adjustable rate mortgages to fixed-interest loans; subjecting more delinquent loans to mitigation first rather than immediately submitting them to an antagonistic collections process; improving communication and outreach with consumers; waiving penalties and fees while companies work with troubled homeowners; and promptly addressing complaints filed against them with the Office of the Attorney General.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Abbott secured $21 million in restitution for Texas homeowners who were harmed by lending giant Ameriquest Mortgage Co. That case resolved allegations that the company and its affiliates did not clearly disclose certain terms to homeowners, including unpredictable adjustable rates.

Homeowners who believe they have been harmed by this or similar fraudulent businesses may call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us.


Gardening - Proper care can prevent early demise of trees & shrubs

Religion - Reflections in an ancient church


October 17 Edition

My apologies. Most of the web pages were placed on this news site Wednesday, October 17, and were accessible using the text links in the vertical navigation bar on the left-hand side of the page. I should have placed a note about this on the October 10 home page.

The Webmaster.


What’s New - Links to articles only

Government - Texas Attorney General arrests 14 sex offenders for illegally using MySpace.com

Government - Gov. Perry awards $6.2 million in S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act programs

CCISD - New superintendent to join School District in January

Higher Education - Award-winning author Peter Sis spoke at Oct. 13 writing conference, Book exhibition continues

Government - Cornyn seeks action on overdue efforts to help families of fallen first responders

Our Neighbors - First annual Bay Area Houston Arts Festival

Gardening - Banana plants producing a bumper crop of fruit

Religion - Learning our lessons


News in Depth


Texas Attorney General arrests 14 sex offenders for illegally using MySpace.com

Cyber Crimes, Fugitive Units arrest 14 convicted sex offenders with MySpace.com profiles

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

October 17, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture DALLAS– Investigators with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units arrested 14 previously convicted sex offenders who illegally created profiles on MySpace.com.

After receiving a subpoena from Attorney General Abbott earlier this year, MySpace.com provided investigators with a list of registered sex offenders who use the popular social networking site.

“These arrests are a stark reminder for parents whose children use social networking sites,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Each of the 14 convicted sex offenders was arrested for illegally using MySpace.com to establish an online presence. All Texans must remain vigilant about dangers posed by online sex predators.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “By sharing a user profile database with law enforcement, MySpace.com is providing critical information to law enforcement. Other social networking sites should follow MySpace.com’s lead, partner with law enforcement, and help protect their online users from criminals who use the Internet to prey on children.”

In September, Cyber Crimes and Fugitive investigators arrested in the Houston area the following previously convicted sex offenders who violated parole or probation requirements that specifically prohibit them from using the Internet:

Houston MySpace Parole Violator Arrests
Sex Offender
Parole Violator
Scene of Arrest

Government - Sex offender Kevin Sink on MySpace.com picture

Kevin Donald Sink, 57

- Convicted in Wood County in 1995 of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Government - Sex offender Kevin Sink on MySpace.com picture

Kevin Donald Sink

- Arrested Sept. 10 in Houston

Government - Sex offender Willie James Byrd on MySpace.com picture

Willie James Byrd, 50

- Convicted in Harris County in 1986 of aggravated sexual assault.

Government - Sex offender Willie James Byrd on MySpace.com picture

Willie James Byrd

- Arrested Sept. 10 in Houston

Government - Sex offender Anthony Gaines on MySpace.com picture

Anthony Ray Gaines, 48

- Convicted in Dallas County in 1985 of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit another offense (rape).

Government - Sex offender Anthony Gaines on MySpace.com picture

Anthony Ray Gaines

- Arrested Sept. 11 in Houston

Government - Sex offender Ollie Whitchet on MySpace.com picture

Ollie Whitchet, 41

- Convicted in Harris County in 1989 of sexual assault.

Government - Sex offender Ollie Whitchet on MySpace.com picture

Ollie Whitchet

- Arrested Sept. 10 in Houston

Government - Sex offender Robert Silva on MySpace.com picture

Robert Silva, 50
- Arrested Sept. 11 in Houston
- Convicted in Leon County in 1996 of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Government - Sex offender Servando Olivarez on MySpace.com picture

Servando Olivarez, 42
- Arrested Sept. 11 in Houston
- Convicted in Harris County in 2000 of sexual assault of a child.

Government - Sex offender Raul Roy Flores, Jr. on MySpace.com picture

Raul Roy Flores, Jr., 32
- Arrested Sept. 12 in Conroe
- Convicted in Harris County in 1997 of sexual assault.

Dallas area MySpace parole violators arrested included the following:

• Troy Benton Baker, 27, arrested Sept. 6 in Gladewater; convicted in Wisconsin in 1998 of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

• Michael Ray Barnette, 47, arrested Sept. 5 in Dallas; convicted in Tarrant County in 1992 of driving while intoxicated and public lewdness.

• James William Boyd, 47, arrested Sept. 5 in Fort Worth; convicted in Tarrant County in 1984 of aggravated sexual assault.

• Mike Edward Calloway, 41, arrested Sept. 5 in Haltom City; convicted in Tarrant County in 1997 of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

• Daniel Joseph Marcotte, 46, arrested Sept. 6 in Arlington; convicted in Tarrant County in 1995 of sexual assault of a child.

• Priscilla Ambriz, 27, arrested Sept. 19 in San Antonio; convicted in Bexar County in 1993 of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

• David Waller McDaniels, 41, arrested Sept. 18 in Sunrise Beach Village; convicted in Harris County in 1984 of indecent exposure.

In May, the Texas Attorney General subpoenaed MySpace.com . The subpoena forced the network to release subscriber information for all of the registered sex offenders who have established online member profiles. As a result, MySpace.com provided Attorney General Abbott with data from Sentinel Safe, a database of information on registered sex offenders that the network compiled to verify the identities of their users. Investigators immediately launched the nation’s first large-scale crackdown on offenders using the site, arresting seven previously convicted sex offenders who had set up online profiles.

Attorney General Abbott has repeatedly pressed MySpace.com and other social networking sites to implement definitive safety measures to protect their young users from sexually explicit images and unwanted sexual advances. Since the push from Attorney General Abbott and other attorneys general, MySpace.com has taken steps to improve safety on its site, including screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private.

Since taking office, Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation.

The Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, have combined to arrest more than 600 sex offenders. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

In May 2006, Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to establish an ICAC Task Force. The Texas Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project.

For more information on Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sex predators, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

Government - Texas Attorney General arrests 14 sex offenders for illegally using MySpace.com


Gov. Perry awards $6.2 million in S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act programs

Operation Border Star ongoing along the border region

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

October 17, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry awarded $6.2 million in grants to 80 programs across the state that are dedicated to combating violent crimes against women and offering services to victims of these crimes. The grants are awarded under the federal S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD).

“Deterring violence against women is only part of our mission; we must also take every stride we can in offering hope and support to victims of abuse,” Perry said. “Through additional education and assistance, we will reinforce the message that despicable acts of violence against women will not be tolerated.”

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

The awards include:

Award Amount Recipient Project Title
$79,803 Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse Inc. Legal Advocacy Program
$63,548 Arte Sana Latina Victim Outreach
$77,613 Atascosa Family Crisis Center Inc. Atascosa Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy Program
$84,444 Bastrop County Women's Shelter Violence Against Women Project
$56,907 Brazos County Rape Crisis Center Inc. Sexual Assault Victim Assistance
$93,824 Cameron County Domestic Violence Unit
$21,319 Central Texas Council of Governments Training on Violence Against Women Issues
$69,703 City of Austin Assistance to Female Victims of Domestic Violence
$25,000 City of Cedar Hill Family, Youth, and Victim Services Civilian Investigator
$92,921 City of Corpus Christi Victim Assistance Program
$26,000 City of Dallas Sexual Assault/Stalking Law Enforcement Training
$75,860 City of El Paso Domestic Abuse Response Team
$75,544 City of Fort Worth Domestic Assault Response Team
$77,520 City of Fort Worth Enhanced Domestic Assault Response Team
$72,822 City of Grand Prairie Domestic Violence Task Force
$59,586 City of Lewisville Family Violence Investigation and Prevention Investigator
$71,820 City of McKinney Investigating and Educating Grant
$187,726 City of San Antonio Early Intervention For Women Living In Domestic Violence
$35,331 City of San Saba Dove Project-Intervention through Counseling and Assessment of Need
$76,420 City of Waco Waco Family Violence Unit Detectives and Coordinator
$62,000 Conference on Crimes Against Women Inc. The Third Annual Conference on Crimes Against Women
$80,000 Dallas County Regional Training Coordinator
$80,000 Dallas County Protective Order Prosecutor
$227,000 Dallas County Collaborative Domestic Violence Project
$40,000 Denton County Prosecution Enhancement Grant
$80,000 Denton County Family Violence Expansion Grant
$74,100 East Texas Crisis Center Rural Family Justice Project
$92,310 El Paso County Domestic Violence Unit
$32,500 Family Service Association of San Antonio Inc. Kidshare Domestic Violence Intervention Services
$80,000 FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center Victim Assistance Program
$44,789 First Step of Wichita Falls Inc. Domestic Violence Shelter and Sexual Assault Crisis Program
$52,304 Focusing Families Victim's Legal Support Services
$79,020 Fort Bend County Violence Against Women Prosecutor
$40,000 Fort Bend County Violence Against Women Investigator
$35,093 Fort Bend County Women's Center Inc. Crisis Hotline
$38,014 Friends for Hope Inc. Evidence Collection, Training and Victim Empowerment
$52,000 Friendship of Women Inc. Outreach Intervention Project
$38,226 Grayson County Domestic Violence Investigator Program
$72,511 Gregg County Violence Against Women - Prosecution Project
$30,551 Hale County Crisis Center Inc. Violence Against Women Support and Outreach
$80,000 Harris County Caseworker Intervention Expansion Project-District Attorney
$76,353 Harris County Police Training for Violence Against Women
$41,017 Harris County Domestic Violence Enhancement/Victims Assistance
$80,000 Harris County Protective Order Prosecutor Project-District Attorney
$56,193 Harris County Felony Family Violence Caseworker Project
$61,249 Harris County Crime Victims' Assistance Unit-Precinct 5
$83,587 Hill Country Crisis Council Inc. VAWA Victim Assistance Project
$40,000 Hope of South Texas Inc. Sexual Assault Crisis Program
$80,000 Houston Area Women's Center Family Violence Hispanic Outreach
$80,000 Jefferson County Family Violence/Crimes Against Women Unit
$206,065 Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Rural Safe at Home Project - S.T.O.P. VAWA
$70,199 Lubbock County Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit
$80,000 Montgomery County Women's Center Protective Order Project
$76,019 New Beginning Center Inc. Shelter Advocacy Project
$26,000 Newton County VAWA Special Prosecutor Project
$34,782 Pecan Valley Regional Domestic Violence Shelter Victim's Service and Legal Advocacy Project
$27,732 Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission Victims of Violent Crime Training for Law Enforcement
$34,768 Political Asylum Project of Austin Program Representing Immigrant Survivors of Abuse
$65,286 Potter County Potter County Domestic Violence Task Force
$80,000 Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County RCC Legal Advocacy Program
$67,413 SAFE PLACE of the Permian Basin Inc. Family Violence Reduction/Prevention Program
$62,195 Shelter Agencies for Families in East Texas Inc. Domestic Violence / Sexual Assault Project
$47,320 Starr County Victims of Domestic Violence Assistance Program
$250,000 Tarrant County Domestic Violence Diversion Program
$174,271 Texas Association Against Sexual Assault Community Multicultural Victim Education Project
$288,574 Texas Council on Family Violence Training/Technical Assistance: Statewide Response to Family Violence
$449,345 Texas Municipal Police Association Sexual Assault and Family Violence Investigators Course
$105,000 Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc. Rural Protective Order Project
$80,000 The Bridge Over Troubled Waters Inc. The Bridge Crisis Intervention and Training Services
$18,636 Tralee Crisis Center for Women Inc. Victim Assistance Project
$90,837 Travis County Family Violence Accelerated Prosecution Program
$44,639 Tyler County Violence Against Women Special Prosecutor
$80,000 Victim Assistance Centre Inc. Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE) Domestic Violence Programs
$31,864 W.A.V. Project Women Against Violence
$7,966 Webb County Webb County Crime Victims Community Outreach Services Program
$35,766 Williamson County Crisis Center Law Enforcement Orientation and Rural Community Outreach
$47,556 Wilson County Violence Against Women Prevention Program
$40,000 Wintergarden Women's Shelter Inc. Victims' Direct Services Project
$99,922 Women Together Foundation Inc. Hidalgo County Outreach Project/Un Nuevo Amanecer
$55,029 Women's Shelter of South Texas Therapeutic Services for Sexual Assault Survivors

Government - Gov. Perry awards $6.2 million in S.T.O.P. Violence Against Women Act programs

CCISD - Education Support Center picture

Education Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas. Photo credit: CCISD.

New superintendent to join School District in January

The Board completed the approval process for hiring the current superintendent of Alvin ISD at a recent school board meeting.

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

October 17, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—“I am also thrilled to report Dr. Greg Smith will officially get on our bus in January as your new Superintendent,” said current Superintendent Sandra Mossman. “Dr. Smith, a veteran of CCISD, is currently the superintendent of Alvin ISD. I worked with Greg and know he will serve this district well. I will stay on board until the Winter break.”

CCISD - New superintendent to join School District in January


Higher Ed - Author Peter Sisk - UHCL picture Award-winning author and illustrator Peter Sis was the featured speaker at the Children Between Worlds Exhibition and Conference, Oct. 13 at University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston.

Award-winning author Peter Sis spoke at Oct. 13 writing conference, Book exhibition continues

- The Children Between Worlds international book exhibition will be on display Oct. 8-20.

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

October 17, 2007

HOUSTON—Acclaimed author and illustrator Peter Sis took center stage as the featured speaker for the Children Between Worlds Exhibition and Conference, hosted by University of Houston-Clear Lake’s School of Education . The conference was held Saturday, Oct. 13, 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at UH-Clear Lake , 2700 Bay Area Blvd. , Houston .

Sent to the United States by the Czechoslovakian government to produce a film for the 1984 Olympics, Sis, a young award-winning film producer, opted to remain in the United States rather than return to his communist-ruled homeland. Receiving asylum and beginning his career anew, he ultimately became a six-time winner of The New York Times Book Review: Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and in 2003 received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Award reserved for those who have demonstrated extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. Sis’ most recent book, “The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain,” released in August 2007, is a personal account of his experiences while in the communist-led country.

Ralph Fletcher, a children’s book author and a noted authority on writing prose and poetry, also spoke. Fletcher is considered one of the most influential writers for teachers today.

In addition to the conference speakers, the event featured the Children Between Worlds international book exhibition, which will be on display Oct. 8-20. The book exhibit originated at the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany, and includes more than 75 children’s books emphasizing tolerance and open-mindedness toward all people. The collection’s purpose is to promote dialogue between cultures, awaken interest in other cultures, and demonstrate to children that people of different backgrounds can be united through human interaction.

The International Youth Library was established through the efforts of Jella Lepman, a Jewish German survivor of World War II who was horrified by the book burning carried out in Nazi Germany.- After the war, she was determined to find a way to bring peace and stability to war-torn Europe .- She believed the first messenger of peaceful co-existence was through children’s books, and in the early 1950s with support from influential people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Lepman realized her dream and established the library in Munich to house exemplary children’s books from around the world.

Every two years, the library’s International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) issues a call to the international community to nominate children’s books for inclusion in the library. Peter Sis, Naomi Shihab Nye and Jerry Spinelli are three writers from the United States whose books were selected to be featured in the traveling exhibition.

The conference and exhibit was sponsored by the UH-Clear Lake School of Education’s Greater Houston Area Writing Project, the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading, the Greater Houston Area Reading Council and the UH-Clear Lake Student Reading Council.

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 30 undergraduate and over 40 graduate degree programs, as well as a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering.

Higher Education - Award-winning author Peter Sis spoke at Oct. 13 writing conference, Book exhibition continues


Cornyn seeks action on overdue efforts to help families of fallen first responders

Stands with widow from Katy, Texas during her testimony in Judiciary Committee hearing to expedite benefits

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

October 17, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Oct. 4 U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the committee, said that government bureaucracy and red-tape are preventing the survivors of fallen first-responders from receiving the benefits that they deserve under current law. The Judiciary Committee held a hearing today entitled, “Justice Denied? Implementation of the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act.” Sen. Cornyn highlighted the tragic passing of a volunteer fire chief in Katy , Texas , whose widow testified at today’s hearing, as an example of why government reforms and action are needed to ensure America ’s first responders and their families are being protected.

The Hometown Heroes bill extends the current Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program to public safety officers who die as a result of a heart attack or stroke within 24 hours of being on duty, responding to an emergency or participating in a training exercise. Heart attacks and strokes represent a significant risk among public safety officers, accounting for nearly half of all firefighter deaths each year. Approximately four years after the bill was signed into law, however, the Justice Department has approved only 12 Hometown Heroes claims, while denying 50 families this important benefit, and leaving more than 240 applications unanswered.

Below are Sen. Cornyn’s opening remarks at today’s hearing:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing and for asking Jo Ann Tilton of Katy, Texas, to testify. I appreciate having the opportunity to raise additional awareness about her case.

“On October 20, 2004, volunteer firefighter Gary Tilton died of a heart attack. Three years later, Jo Ann Tilton comes before this committee seeking answers. Ms. Tilton wrote to my Dallas office in May of 2006 about the adjudication of her husband’s Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) claim, which she submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in January 2005. The determination still to be made is whether or not Mr. Tilton’s cardiac event was actually a “line of duty” event. His heart attack occurred after performing his duties as Volunteer Chief of the Katy Fire Department.

“Not only has DOJ taken an extraordinarily long time to process the claims, but DOJ has given Ms. Tilton different answers every time, most of the time telling her nothing. On April 24, 2007, my office received a letter from the DOJ stating that the PSOB office had completed its review of Mrs. Tilton’s claim and she would receive written notification within the next 10 days. Then, on September 5, 2007, my office received another letter from the DOJ stating that her husband’s file had been sent to the forensic pathologist to undergo another medical review.

“We’re coming up on three years that Ms. Tilton’s has been waiting for a decision to be made on her claim and waiting for a straightforward answer. This is unacceptable. It speaks to the need to reform our tangled bureaucracies that are unable to make timely, efficient decisions on matters of great personal importance to the families of our nation’s first responders.

“I hope that this hearing highlights that need so that people like Ms. Tilton may receive closure on this chapter of their lives, instead of facing continued confusion, frustration, and disappointment.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn seeks action on overdue efforts to help families of fallen first responders


First annual Bay Area Houston Arts Festival


Bay Area Houston Arts Festival in Nassau Bay
Free admission and Free Activities for the children

presented by
The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake and
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

Oct. 19 and 20

Friday, Oct. 19: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Works of area artists expressed in a variety of media for sale
Live music performed
by Nuevo Flamenco, Ben and Rose, Victoria Stones
Asteris Greek Dancers

Hands-on art activities and games for the children
underwritten by JSC Federal Credit Union

Food at the Mediterraneo Market & Café
Coffee served at
Where: From the Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake
2000 NASA Parkway (across from Johnson Space Center)
past the store fronts of Upper Bay Road to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church

Cost: No admission fee

Sponsors include
The City of Kemah
The City of Nassau Bay
and
JSC Federal Credit Union

HOUSTON—For two days in October, artisans and fine crafters will converge near NASA Johnson Space Center along Upper Bay Road for the 1st Annual Bay Area Houston Arts Festival. This event held Friday, October 19th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, October 20th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will also feature musical entertainment, Greek dining, concessions, and children’s activities.

Thanks to JSC Federal Credit Union and Lakeshore Learning, children will enjoy activities planned especially for them. Shelley Shanks a celebrated local artist has designed a tremendous area of fun, including rides and amusement, pumpkin painting, a hay dig for treats, face painting, henna tattoos and more. In addition, children can participate in decorating a Seabrook pelican, compliments of the Pelican Path Project of Seabrook. 

Arts and Crafts lovers are invited to shop the booths of 20 area artists and 70 crafters at the 1st annual Bay Area Houston Arts Festival. Attendees can purchase original creations from various mediums, including jewelry, painting, ceramics, and more, while children explore hands-on art activities and games, underwritten by JSC Federal Credit Union.

Music lovers can relax and enjoy live performances by Nuevo Flamenco, Ben and Rose, Victoria Stones, and Asteris Greek Dancers, while savoring the culinary flavors of Greece with Mediterraneo Market & Café’ just outside The Arts Alliance, or a soothing cup of coffee at JJ’s Beans in the Life Center at Gloria Dei.

The two-day festival takes place along Upper Bay Road in Nassau Bay, beginning at The Arts Alliance Center of Clear Lake past the store fronts of Upper Bay Road to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Entry into the festival is free and sponsored in part by the City of Kemah, the City of Nassau Bay, and JSC Federal Credit Union.

Entry into the festival is free and sponsored in part by the cities of Kemah, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, and Webster.

About The Arts Alliance Center of Clear Lake

The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake (TAACCL) is Bay Area Houston’s cultural arts center. The alliance consists of over 50 nonprofit arts organizations, including educational institutions, dance and drama theatres, guilds of basket-weavers and quilters, writers' leagues, choral groups and musicians, from bluegrass to symphonies.

Since 1997, the Center has hosted monthly multi-media art exhibitions, year-round arts classes for all ages, and live performances ranging from concerts to dramatic recitals. The Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit multidiscipline arts organization, and is conveniently located across from NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Public arts programs at The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake are made possible in part by a grant from Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) and generous contributions from the City of Nassau Bay and the City of Webster.

Our Neighbors - First annual Bay Area Houston Arts Festival


Gardening

Religion - Learning our lessons

Older News: October 12 Update

Our Neighbors - Photography Exhibition picture

Shadows at City of Rocks

by Shon Corrier

Photography


Photo by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

10th Annual Juried Photography Exhibition

The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake

Through Oct. 17

Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Works by area artists in all subject matter and photographic media

Who: Bay Area Photography Club
Where: The Arts Alliance Center at Clear Lake
2000 NASA Parkway (across from Johnson Space Center)
Cost: No admission fee
For information: Call Debra Kendrick
at 281-335-777


Older News: October 10, 2007


The Wings Over Houston Airshow soared over Ellington Field October 6 and 7

Our Neighbors - Air Show pictureOctober 10, 2007

HOUSTON–During the Wings Over Houston Airshow Oct. 6 and 7, visitors experienced a day of military jet demonstrations, aerobatic performances and the reenactment of battle with vintage WWII aircraft. Wings Over Houston is one of the top four air shows in the United States in its category.

Photo by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

Our Neighbors - The Wings Over Houston Airshow soared over Ellington Field October 6 and 7

What’s New - Links to articles only


CCISD - Subject Area Subcommittee Members Needed - Join Now!

League City News
- Blue Santa Program needs gifts and donations

Higher Education - Conference attendees gathered to bridge gap in leadership disparity

Government - Cornyn: Congress agrees DeBakey well-deserving of Congressional Gold Medal

Government - Cornyn honored by Texas Border And Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalitions

Government - Former Gonzales paramedic investigated by Cyber Crimes Unit sentenced to nine-year prison term

Government - Gov. Perry: Border Security Council to hold public meetings in border communities

Gardening - Seasonal color in the fall landscape

Religion - God of the new now


News in Depth


Subject Area Subcommittee Members Needed - Join Now!

- Textbooks need updating.
- An immediate response may be needed due to a tight deadline.

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

October 10, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The Clear Creek Independent School District is in the process of adopting instructional materials (textbooks/systems) for use beginning in the 2008-2009 school year.

The District is seeking parents to serve on Subject Area Subcommittees to help in the adoption process.

Parents who wish to serve on an SAS are invited to fill out a form of interest, which may be obtained from the Clear Creek ISD Office of Public Information, 2425 East Main Street, League City or downloaded from the District’s website.

A copy of this form, adapted to facilitate delivery by e-mail, is available at the links below as an html document, as a Microsoft Word 2003 document, as a Microsoft Word 97 and higher document, and as a rich text file document. Just fill out the Word document and then copy and paste it into your e-mail program or send it as an attachment to slchapma@ccisd.net
Ms. Chapman can be reached at 281-284-0091 .

(You can also cut and paste the html document into your e-mail program and then provide the requested information.)

Please note: The deadline for returning the completed application according to this release of CCISD news information is Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2007. However, Oct. 13 is this Saturday, so please submit the information by e-mail as soon as possible.

1. Click here to go to the Volunteer Interest Form for the Subject Area Subcommittee as html document

2. Volunteer Interest Form for Subject Area Subcommittee as Word 2003 document

3. Volunteer Interest Form for Subject Area Subcommittee as Word 97 and higher document

4. Volunteer Interest Form for Subject Area Subcommittee as rich text file document

At least one parent will serve on each of the subcommittees involved with selection of textbooks for Mathematics, Grades K-2 or 3-5.

As part of the textbook adoption process, general hearings will be held at a future date. These dates will be advertised throughout the District. Interested school personnel and the public are invited to attend.

If there is more than one parent per SAS interested in serving, the professional members of the SAS committee shall elect the parent.

The responsibilities of an SAS member include attending SAS meetings, abiding by District adoption/selection guidelines and policies, submitting a plan involving colleagues to SAS textbook facilitator.

Any questions may be directed to Sue Chapman, Elementary Mathematics Coordinator at 281-284-0091 or slchapma@ccisd.net.

Note: Some information added by the webmaster.

CCISD - Subject Area Subcommittee Members Needed - Join Now!

Blue Santa Program needs gifts and donations

From The City of League City Police Department

October 10, 2007

League City Police Department - Car Show image

Benefiting League City Police Department
BLUE SANTA PROGRAM

 
Police - police cruiser WHEN: October 20, 2007
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHERE: LEAGUE PARK
500 EAST MAIN
LEAGUE CITY
Police - police picture
Please bring a new toy
to help make a child’s
Christmas special!

Police - police picture  

League City News
- Blue Santa Program needs gifts and donations

Conference attendees gathered to bridge gap in leadership disparity

More women leaders needed

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

October 2, 2007

Today women make up more than 80 percent of elementary school teachers, yet only 18 percent of school districts are headed by women, and the percentage of African-American and Hispanic women in educational leadership positions is far lower. Margaret Grogan, professor and chair of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, delivered these startling statistics at the University of Houston Clear Lake’s School of Education ’s first Women in Leadership Conference.

Addressing approximately 90 women and men at the one-day seminar, Grogan applauded steps made by women in the last 15 years, but noted, “They are only steps.”

“Women and men in positions of power must deliberately mentor more women and especially more women of color,” Grogan emphasized.

Women bring critical perspectives and valuable skills to leadership positions, she told the group. Research has shown that women in leadership place a greater emphasis on improving the educational system then their male counterparts. School boards more often look to women as leaders in educational reform since many women come to leadership with a background in classroom teaching. They bring with them a greater knowledge of teaching and learning, as well as curriculum. In addition, women are found to have stronger interpersonal skills and show more responsiveness toward parents and community groups, further strengthening their effectiveness as educational leaders.

Grogan also shared what she felt were important “next steps” in helping narrow the gender gap. Women must be encouraged to take on the challenge of leadership within the educational system. Women already in leadership positions must speak out about the satisfaction and joy they derive from their work. Also, pre-service women teachers must be directed towards leadership as a way to remain close to teaching and learning.

Joining Grogan as conference speakers were Juanita Simmons, also of the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Sophia Jones-Redmond of Northern Illinois University.

“Don’t just respond to change – create the change,” Simmons said, challenging participants to reach out to women both as mentors and peers and to share information, resources and success.

The conference was organized by UH-Clear Lake faculty to help facilitate mentoring between school administrators and students enrolled in the university’s educational programs, especially emerging majorities such as Hispanics. While networking and mentoring organizations are in place at the state and national level, there is no such representation specific to the Gulf Coast area. They plan to make it an annual event.

Attended by a broad spectrum of individuals within the educational system, participants included undergraduate students, classroom teachers and school administrators, and attracted participants from as far away as Beaumont, as well as outlying schools in the Houston area such as Cy-Fair and Fort Bend County .

Response among the participants was positive.

“Inspiring …I never envisioned a woman as superintendent,” UH-Clear Lake graduate student Melody Maxon said. “I plan to be here next year.”

Middle school principal Carol Batiste drove from Beaumont to attend.

“It was a great opportunity to build more relationships,” Batiste said.

Cy-Fair Academic Achievement Specialist Antwanette Hill added she will recommend the conference next year to others. “I think about how many people would have benefited so greatly from being here,” Hill said.

Conference Program Coordinator Christa Boske, UH-Clear Lake assistant professor administration and supervision, expressed satisfaction with the inaugural event.

“It was a significant and successful first step,” Boske said. “It accomplished all we had envisioned and more. Our program speakers – prominent figures in the field of educational leadership – united the students, administrators and instructors into a community with a sense of promise, hope and excitement. ”

Higher Education - Conference attendees gathered to bridge gap in leadership disparity

Cornyn: Congress agrees DeBakey well-deserving of Congressional Gold Medal

Texan recognized for historic contributions to medicine and science

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

October 10, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Oct. 2 issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Michael DeBakey, Chancellor Emeritus of the Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the DeBakey Heart Center at Baylor. Sen. Cornyn is the lead co-sponsor of the legislation, which was originally introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and passed the Senate in March.

“At age 99, Dr. DeBakey has contributed a lifetime of service to making historic advancements in the medical world,” Sen. Cornyn said. “He has made critical improvements to military medicine, brought key innovations to heart surgery and science, and has made life better for thousands of Texans and people around the world. My congressional colleagues agree: Dr. DeBakey is a fitting recipient for the Congressional Gold Medal, and is well-deserving of this distinguished honor to add to his long list of achievements.”

Dr. DeBakey is recognized worldwide for his revolutionary contributions to the field of cardiovascular medicine. Of his many achievements in the field, two of his most important inventions include the roller pump—an essential component of the heart-lung machine—and the DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device, an apparatus implanted into the heart to increase blood flow.

In addition to his work in cardiovascular medicine, Dr. DeBakey is also widely recognized for his efforts in military and veterans’ health care. He helped to develop the concept of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) units, which saved thousands of lives during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Dr. DeBakey also helped to establish the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center Research System. Dr. DeBakey has received numerous, notable awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in 1969 and the National Medal of Science in 1987.

With passage in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the legislation to award Dr. DeBakey the Congressional Gold Medal will now be sent to the President for his signature.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn: Congress agrees DeBakey well-deserving of Congressional Gold Medal

Cornyn honored by Texas Border And Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalitions

Senator recognized with “Champion of Border Security” award for strong support of border law enforcement community; addresses annual conference

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

October 10, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Ranking Member of the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, on Sept. 27 received the “Champion of Border Security” award from the Texas Border and Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalitions for his strong support of the border law enforcement community. Sen. Cornyn accepted the recognition as he addressed the annual meeting of the sheriff’s coalitions in San Antonio via teleconference. Some 30 sheriffs were on hand from along the border.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with the ‘Champion of Border Security’ award,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I’ll continue working closely with the border law enforcement community to address their needs and concerns. The men and women working on the front lines every day—sheriffs and other first responders—have the clearest picture of the safety and security challenges we face. They deserve our support.”

Sen. Cornyn added: “I secured an amendment earlier this year to double funding for the Border Relief Program from $50 million to $100 million. This program will help border sheriffs do the important work of keeping their local communities safe and contributing to border and national security. The Senate should approve this critical funding soon, so we can make this timely investment in border security—a top concern of so many Texans and Americans across the country. We have a responsibility to ensure border communities don’t have to foot the bill when their local law enforcement officials support our security needs.”

In addition, Sen. Cornyn has consistently advocated for greater funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which reimburses states and counties for the unfunded mandate of detaining illegal immigrants arrested in connection with crimes other than immigration violations.

“Previous funding commitments have been inadequate for critical security programs, such as the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which does the important work of apprehending illegal immigrants with criminal records,” Sen. Cornyn added. “I will continue to work to see that this and other priorities are addressed on the federal level, including costs associated with operational control of the border.”

Recently, Sen. Cornyn worked with his colleagues to ensure that an additional $3 billion would be devoted to achieving operational control of the border and interior enforcement.

On a related note, earlier this week Sen. Cornyn addressed members of the Border Trade Alliance (BTA) via video teleconference during their annual international conference in Austin . Sen. Cornyn provided attendees with a legislative update on immigration-related activity in Washington .

Sen. Cornyn also discussed the challenges posed by the overgrowth of the invasive plant, Carrizo cane, along the border, as an obstacle for our border agents and local law enforcement. With tall and dense reeds, Carrizo cane provides cover and shelter to illegal border crossers, and even cars and trucks that smuggle drugs into our country. Sen. Cornyn passed an amendment, which was included in the final homeland security bill, to maximize efforts to control the invasive Carrizo cane plant on the border and support the efforts of the Border Patrol.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn honored by Texas Border And Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalitions

Former Gonzales Paramedic Investigated by Cyber Crimes Unit Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison

Keith Berger traveled to Victoria to meet and sexually assault teen he met online

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

October 10, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureVICTORIA–A former Gonzales EMS paramedic investigated and prosecuted by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit received a nine-year prison sentence Sept. 27 for using the Internet to prey on children.

Keith Robert Berger, 25, was arrested in February 2007 after he traveled from Gonzales to Victoria with a handgun and condoms to meet and sexually assault a 13-year-old boy he met online. The online profile actually belonged to an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator.

Berger pleaded guilty to one count of online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony. Upon release, Berger will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years. 377th District Judge Robert Cheshire also ordered Berger to pay a $500 fine. Assistant Attorney General Angela Goodwin prosecuted the case with assistance from Victoria County Assistant District Attorney Brian Hrach.

“Parents must be ever-vigilant to ensure their children use the Internet safely, and this case proves they have every reason to be watchful,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Our Cyber Crimes Unit investigators have seen first-hand the dangerous criminals that lurk online. We are grateful to Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler and the Victoria Police Department for working with our Cyber Crimes Unit to bring this offender to justice.”

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole. Attorney General Abbott’s initiative has resulted in more than 600 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against more than 70 men on child pornography charges.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

For more information, visit the Office of the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us

Government - Former Gonzales paramedic investigated by Cyber Crimes Unit sentenced to nine-year prison term

Gov. Perry: Border Security Council to hold public meetings in border communities

Operation Border Star ongoing along the border region

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

October 10, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry Sept. 26 announced the first meetings of the newly-appointed Border Security Council, Oct. 1-3, 2007. The meetings will take place in border communities, offering a public forum for testimony relating to strengthening safety and security in the Texas-Mexico border region and areas statewide. The meetings will occur during the first phase of the State of Texas’ newest border security surge, Operation Border Star.

“Texans know that border-related crime is not isolated to the border region. All Texans, and all Americans, are affected by the smuggling of drugs and humans as they make their way across the Texas-Mexico border and into our communities,” said Perry. “The Border Security Council will play an important role in helping the state coordinate efficient and effective strategies to create a stronger law enforcement presence along the border to prevent and deter criminal activity.”

The first meetings of the Border Security Council will be (all times local):

McAllen
Oct. 1 at 9:00 a.m.
City of McAllen Council Chambers
1300 Houston Ave., 3rd Floor

Laredo
Oct. 2 at 8:30 a.m.
City of Laredo City Council Hearing Room
1110 Houston Street

El Paso
Oct. 3 at 8:30 a.m.
El Paso City Hall Chambers
2 Civic Center Plaza

The Border Security Council focuses on homeland security and economic development along the Texas-Mexico Border. Created in Senate Bill 11 during the 80th Legislative Session, the council is responsible for developing and recommending performance standards, reporting requirements and audit methods for funds allocated to the Office of the Governor for border security. The council also advises Governor Perry on the allocation of homeland security funds.

In coordination with the United States Border Patrol, the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition, the Coastal Bend Sheriffs Coalition and border area police departments, the State of Texas launched Operation Border Star in mid-September. This operation is a unified high intensity, multi-agency effort focused on reducing crime in targeted regions along the Texas-Mexico border. The operation will continue for a time period that will remain undisclosed for operational security purposes.

Operation Border Star draws resources from across the state to support the U.S. Border Patrol, including local law enforcement; Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, criminal intelligence personnel and Texas Rangers; Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens; and Texas Military Forces personnel and equipment, including fixed wing aircrafts, and a large arsenal of helicopters with night vision capabilities.

To date, 11,095 pounds of marijuana, 35.4 pounds of cocaine and 7.4 pounds of methamphetamine have been seized as a result of Operation Border Star. Additionally, 170 illegal aliens have been arrested, including three members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which is considered the fastest-growing and most violent street gang in the nation today. More importantly, organized smuggling activities have decreased since this operation began. Law enforcement agencies have reported a reduction in the number of calls they have received for assistance, which reflect complaints received from the public to report suspicious or criminal activity. During periods of low smuggling activity, the number of calls decreases.

In support of this operation, the U.S. Border Patrol is hosting Joint Operation Intelligence Centers (JOIC) in each of the five Texas Border Sectors. The establishment of JOICs will enable participating law enforcement entities to maximize the effect of enforcement personnel and resources, while facilitating information sharing. Through this cohesive law enforcement effort, criminal activity with a direct nexus to the Texas-Mexico border will be reduced and higher levels of border security instilled.

“By joining together with our local, state and federal partners, we will support the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol, and protect our communities by dominating the border,” Perry said. “While securing our international borders is ultimately the responsibility of the federal government, Texas can and will assist in that effort to maximize its effect.”

This operation will be substantially expanded during the next year with guidance from the Texas Border Security Council and more than $100 million provided by the 80th Texas Legislature for continued border security efforts.

Government - Gov. Perry: Border Security Council to hold public meetings in border communities

Gardening - Seasonal color in the fall landscape

Religion - God of the new now


Older News: October 3, 2007


Stewart Elementary named a national Blue Ribbon School

First school in CCISD to receive honor

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

October 3, 2007

LEAGUE CITY— A Title I school that went from Acceptable to Exemplary in state accountability ratings in less than four years has just been awarded the No Child Left Behind- Blue Ribbon award. LaVace Stewart Elementary School in Kemah was named a Blue Ribbon school for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.

“I am certainly not surprised that Stewart was chosen for this distinguished award. When you walk into that school you can immediately feel the enthusiasm for learning and witness the compassion for children.” said Dr. Sandra Mossman, Superintendent of Schools. “I know the CCISD Board of Trustees echoes my congratulations to Principal Debbie Phillips, the teachers, and students of Stewart on an exceptional job well done.”

Stewart is one of 23 Texas schools and 287 schools nationwide to receive this prestigious education award.

“These schools are proving that when we raise the bar our children will rise to the challenge,” said Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education. “It takes a lot of hard work by teachers and students to become a Blue Ribbon school, and it’s a privilege to celebrate their great efforts.”

Stewart is the first school in Clear Creek Independent School District to be named a Blue Ribbon school. The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to high levels.

LaVace Stewart Elementary is a federal Title I school. The Title I program provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

CCISD - Stewart Elementary named a national Blue Ribbon School

October 3 News Links


Government - Attorney General Abbott Launches School Safety Initiative to Protect Texas Students

Government - Saving Lives When Seconds Count: School Safety for Texas Schools

League City News - Police trading cards contest

Higher Education - University announces events

Government - Gov. Perry requests Presidential Disaster Declaration for four Texas counties

Government - Senate overwhelmingly condemns MoveOn.org ad

Gardening - Annual plant seminar & sale: Something old, something new

Religion - Protect your trademark


Older News: September 26, 2007


CCISD - Education Support Center picture

Education Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas. Photo credit: CCISD.

Join the School Boundary Committee - Deadline Sept. 28, 2007

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

September 26, 2007

LEAGUE CITY, Texas—The Clear Creek Independent School District is proud to announce the formation of the 2007-2008 School Boundary Advisory Committee (SBAC). The mission of SBAC is to develop and present new boundary recommendations to the District's Board of Trustees for the Clear Creek 9th Grade Center Conversion into an Intermediate Campus and for Elementary #25 and #26.

The School Board makes the final decisions on school attendance boundaries and has established a process for receiving community inputs and advice regarding the boundary plan. The SBAC proposal for school boundaries is based on District demographics and a set of criteria approved by the Board. Please complete the form below if you are interested participation in this year's committee. Please complete all fields on this form before you submit it.

A membership drawing will take place on October 1, 2007 at 4 pm in the CCISD Board Room located at 2425 East Main Street in League City.

If you can not submit your application via the web, please send written application to: Clear Creek ISD Office of Operations/Laura Horacefield 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas.

Phone : 281-284-0041, Fax : 281-284-9903, Email : lhoracef@ccisd.net

Application Instructions

For answers to questions contact Laura Horacefield at lhoracef@ccisd.net or call her at 281-284-0041 or send e-mail to sbac@ccisd.net.

For online Submission of an application form go to the following web page:

http://www.ccisd.net/pub_inf_05/forms/sbac_form.asp

After filling out the form at the bottom of the page, click on the Submit Form button.

Or e-mail the application information to lhoracef@ccisd.net.

SBAC application information is provided below:



SBAC Membership Form


First Name:                                             Last Name:                                            

Child's Campus:

Subdivision:

Address:                                                           City:

State:                                    Zip:

Telephone:                           Fax Number:

Email:

Are you a parent, community member or business leader?

Do you have a student in CCISD?             Campus?

Source: CCISD


September 26 News Links


CCISD - Join the School Boundary Committee: Deadline Sept. 28, 2007

Government - Attorney General Abbott charges foreclosure rescue firm with operating unlawful scam

Government - Gov. Perry activated resources in anticipation of Tropical Storm Humberto

Government - Cornyn says passage of measure to ban tolls a victory for Texas drivers

Higher Education - University clinic offers reading, writing, study skills assistance

League City News
- Family History and College Essay Writing Workshops scheduled

Gardening - October’s garden checklist includes plant sale

Religion - Servant hands


Older News: September 19, 2007


Attorney General Abbott warns against price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Humberto

Governor's disaster declaration triggers AG's price-gouging authority

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

September 19, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture BEAUMONT – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Sept. 14 warned Gulf Coast residents to be wary of price gouging, charity scams and other fraudulent attempts to bilk consumers in the aftermath of Hurricane Humberto.

Gov. Rick Perry issued a disaster declaration for Jefferson, Orange and Galveston counties yesterday after the storm produced heavy rain and wind damage in the region. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Attorney General has authority to protect consumers from exorbitant prices during or after official disaster declarations for necessities, including fuel, food, lodging, medicines, repair work and other basic requirements.

"Once the governor has declared a disaster, raising the price of water, fuel, medical supplies or other basic necessities is illegal in disaster areas," said Attorney General Abbott. "Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General will closely monitor affected areas and will take swift legal action against price-gougers, unscrupulous contractors and any others who unlawfully profiteer from the disaster. Texans who believe they have knowledge about unlawful activity should contact the Office of Attorney General to report that information."

Attorney General Abbott urged homeowners and businesses to exercise caution when seeking contractors to help with repairs or before making charitable donations. The Office of the Attorney General offers the following consumer tips:

Home repairs. Be wary of contractors who show up unexpectedly and offer roofing, drywall and other major repairs, particularly those who are not from the local community and low-ball their offer saying that they have material left over from a previous job and insist on an advance cash payment.

Obtain bids in writing from several contractors first and review each one carefully. Ask contractors if they are covered through insurance or a bond, particularly when considering them for a large project. Check with the city to make sure electricians and plumbers have the necessary license and have obtained the required permits.

Get all terms in writing and do not sign a contract without a full understanding of its contents. Do not sign a contract that has spaces left blank. Pay the contractor only as the work progresses, and do not sign a completion certificate until all repairs are done properly. If the work is substantial, consider having an independent inspector look it over before settling the bill with the contractor.

Before hiring a contractor, contact the Better Business Bureau and the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether consumers have filed complaints against the contractor in the past.

Charity scams. Be wary of telemarketers, solicitations by mail, or those who show up unexpectedly urging an immediate donation to an unfamiliar charity which supposedly will aid victims of the disaster. A legitimate charity will offer detailed information in writing about how donated money will be used and will provide a reasonable timeframe within which the donor can make an informed decision.

Be particularly suspicious of solicitors who are long on emotion but short on detail about how donations will be put to use. Always make the donation using a check or money order made out to the charity, and be wary of organizations with names that are very similar but not identical to those of a recognized charity.

Additional information to help consumers protect themselves against price gouging and other disaster-related scams is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us, or by calling (800) 252-8011. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Government - Attorney General Abbott warns against price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Humberto

September 19 News Links


Government - Attorney General Abbott resolves price-gouging case against Rosenberg motel operator

Government - Gov. Perry honors Texas' fallen and injured first responders with Star of Texas awards

Government - Cornyn amendment would have established safety, security standards on Mexican trucks, cargo law for first time

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake holds open house

League City News
MORE -> Local Author Headlines Book Reviews at Helen Hall Library

Gardening - Don't let landscape become a high-maintenance nightmare

Religion - Music is medicine



Older News: September 12, 2007


CCISD - Education Support Center picture

Education Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas.Photo credit: CCISD.

Board Of Trustees names sole finalist for Superintendent

Clear Creek ISD to get new leader

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

September 12, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Dr. Greg Smith was named the sole finalist for Superintendent at the August 27th Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees meeting. Dr. Smith currently serves as the superintendent of the Alvin Independent School District, and has previously served as a deputy superintendent in the Pearland Independent School District, as a principal in the Galveston Independent School District, and as an administrator in Clear Creek ISD. Paula Tomasi, President of the Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees, said that the Board is “greatly looking forward to the possibility of working with Dr. Smith” and is “delighted that he may be joining the Clear Creek ISD family.”

Under the Public Information Act, the Board must wait 21 days before they can take final action to employ Dr. Smith as the next superintendent of schools.

Dr. Smith received his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, his Master of Science degree in Educational Management from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from Texas A & M University on December 16, 2000. His certificates include provisional elementary teacher, professional supervision, professional mid-management and professional superintendent.

Dr. Sandra Mossman, current Superintendent of Clear Creek ISD, believes the transition to a new Superintendent will be a smooth one, and noted that “This district would not miss a step with Dr. Smith.” Dr. Mossman has served as Superintendent of Schools since January 2003 and is retiring from the Clear Creek ISD after 24 years of service.

CCISD - Board Of Trustees names sole finalist for Superintendent

Government - Home picture
Modifed photo credit- Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force convenes to address growing housing crisis

Law enforcement, state agencies take aim at dramatic rise in foreclosures, mortgage scams

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

September 12, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture DALLAS – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and key officials from state regulatory agencies today convened the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force, a strategic partnership intended to improve collaboration among residential mortgage regulators and law enforcement officials. Task force members, including the attorney general and top real estate, banking and consumer credit regulators, will examine how to track and reduce mortgage fraud in Texas.

“Home ownership lies at the heart of the American dream,” Attorney General Abbott said. “To better track and prosecute mortgage fraud, the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force will form a strategic alliance between law enforcement and regulatory agencies. We are committed to protecting Texas homeowners and cracking down on mortgage fraud.”

The Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force was created under House Bill 716, which was authored by Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) and Sen. Kip Averitt (R-Waco) during the 80th Legislative Session. The 2007 legislation was intended to reduce false or misleading information on residential home loan applications by increasing cooperation among regulators and requiring new disclosures at closing.

Effective Sept. 1, mortgage lenders, bankers and brokers are required to warn loan applicants about the legal consequences of knowingly supplying false information on a residential loan application. Additionally, with the consent of the local district attorney, the attorney general is granted concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute criminal mortgage fraud cases, including those involving money laundering, loan document falsification, and mail or wire fraud.

“House Bill 716 is designed to more easily catch white collar criminals and put them behind bars where they belong,” State Representative Burt Solomons said. “We must take the necessary steps, including strengthening criminal penalties, to protect consumers and legitimate lenders in the mortgage loan process from fraud.”

“Mortgage fraud is a serious, costly crime, and legitimate home buyers end up paying the price,” State Senator Kip Averitt added. “Through the Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force, we will form a strategic partnership with local, state and federal officials, enabling law enforcement and state agencies to better track and prosecute mortgage fraud and its perpetrators.”

Criminal mortgage fraud includes illegally inflating property appraisals; concealing a second mortgage from a primary lender; and concealing or stealing a borrower’s identity. Under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the OAG has authority to prosecute misleading practices and has recovered millions of dollars for Texans harmed by title scams, undisclosed costs and other unlawful mortgage-related schemes.

State agencies and officials represented on the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force include: the Attorney General; the Consumer Credit Commissioner; the Banking Commissioner; the Credit Union Commissioner; the Commissioner of Insurance; the Savings and Mortgage Lending Commissioner; the Texas Real Estate Commission; and the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board. Under Sec. 402.032 (h) of the Texas Finance Code, the attorney general “shall oversee administration of the task force.”

Earlier this year, the OAG obtained $21 million in restitution for Texans harmed by lending giant Ameriquest Mortgage Co.’s deceptive lending practices. The settlement resolved allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates did not adequately disclose certain terms to homeowners, including whether loans carried fixed or adjustable rates. According to court documents filed by the OAG, Ameriquest also charged excessive origination fees and prepayment penalties, refinanced borrowers into improper loans and inflated appraisals that qualified borrowers for loans.

In 2006, Attorney General Abbott negotiated a landmark agreement with Green Tree Servicing L.L.C., a Minnesota-based firm that services manufactured housing debts in Texas. Under the settlement, Green Tree agreed to assist more than 1,200 Texas homeowners who may have been issued invalid titles to homes they purchased from more than 115 unlicensed retailers in 2003. In a related move, the Attorney General secured an injunction and asset freeze against the unlicensed sellers.

The Office of the Attorney General has also halted scams purporting to save homeowners’ properties from condemnation. It has also cracked down on various title-related and refinancing scams.

To better assist Texans who are considering a mortgage loan, Attorney General Abbott also added new online resources to the agency’s Web site (www.oag.state.tx.us). The new Web page, “Avoiding Home-Buying Pitfalls and Scams,” provides consumers with specific guidelines about the home-buying process as well as other helpful information. The Web page also helps homeowners recognize “foreclosure rescue” scams, equity-stripping schemes and other pitfalls to avoid when refinancing a home.

The most common pitfalls home buyers should be wary of include:

• Interest rate surprises. Consumers should ask their lenders for written information to help them compare and select a mortgage. Prospective home buyers should not hesitate to ask questions about the various types of home loans. For example, adjustable rate mortgages (ARM), have interest rates that periodically fluctuate, where fixed rate mortgages keep the same rate through the term of the loan. While many consumers are willing to accept loans with variable interest rates, they should be prepared for those rates – and their payments – to climb in the future. An interest rate that increases by even a couple of percentage points could add several hundred dollars to a monthly mortgage payment, especially early on when the borrower is carrying a large balance.

• Undisclosed costs. Not all mortgage loans have property taxes rolled into the monthly payment, so consumers should check before closing on the home whether they will have to pay those taxes separately. Consumers may also contact their county appraisal district for an estimate of property taxes. Similarly, while some mortgage loans include home insurance as part of the monthly payment, others might require consumers to obtain and pay the premium separately. If taxes and insurance are included in the monthly payments, these costs can often increase yearly. Thus, even with a fixed interest rate, the monthly cost of home ownership may rise because of taxes or insurance rate increases.

• Predatory refinancing. Homeowners considering refinancing or the need to take out a home equity loan should carefully read all terms of the agreement. If the new contract is for a variable interest rate, homeowners should ask the lender the amount of monthly payments after the rate has adjusted several times.

• “Credit clean-up” services. Consumers should be wary of “credit clean-up services,” which are marketed to prospective home buyers who have imperfect credit. Many of these services charge hefty fees for merely sending letters to credit bureaus that question all items in a credit report. Credit bureaus may temporarily remove the entries pending further investigation; however, as creditors confirm the accuracy of the data, the items reappear on the report. Prospective home buyers gain little to nothing from these services. If negative items in a consumer’s credit report are accurate, only time and diligent bill-paying will eliminate them.

• Title scams. Aspiring home buyers should always use an independent title company to complete their real estate transactions. Title companies conduct important research regarding a property’s legal status. They confirm that prospective home buyers are working with the legitimate property owners – or their representative – and determine whether the property has any outstanding liens, including unpaid taxes or a previous owner’s unpaid mortgage. Consumers should deal directly with a title company and not trust a financing company or seller to act as a go-between.

For more home buying tips, brochures, consumer columns and additional information on the mortgage industry, visit the Office of the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us .

Government - Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force convenes to address growing housing crisis

A security freeze can protect Texans from ID theft

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

September 12, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Placing a security freeze on credit reports

Placing a Security Freeze on Credit Reports

To have a security freeze placed on your credit file without obtaining
a police report, contact one of the three credit reporting agencies:

Experian
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742
www.experian.com

Equifax
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
(800) 685-1111
www.equifax.com

Trans Union
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834 (
877) 680-7289
www.transunion.com

For a free copy of your credit report:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
(877) 322-8228
www.annualcreditreport.com

To file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General:
(800) 252-8011
www.oag.state.tx.us

AUSTIN – Identity theft is one of the nation's fastest-growing, most expensive criminal enterprises. When personally identifying information, such as Social Security numbers, falls into the wrong hands, Texans may suffer ruined credit and huge, undeserved debts. Identity thieves use stolen information to obtain new credit cards; open checking accounts; make long distance or collect calls; or make purchases on a stolen credit card.

Now, Texans have a new law to help with the ongoing fight against identity theft. Beginning Sept. 1, Texans may contact one of the three major credit bureaus to request a security freeze on their credit accounts – without first obtaining a police report.

Previously, Texans could only place a security freeze on their credit files after obtaining a police report documenting identity theft. Thanks to Senate Bill 222, which took effect Sept. 1, all Texans can freeze their accounts without first obtaining a police report.

A security freeze enables consumers to stop identity thieves from obtaining credit in their names. A security freeze locks, or freezes, access to consumers' credit reports and credit scores. Without this information, a creditor will not issue new lines of credit to a borrower. When consumers want new credit, they can use a personal identification number (PIN) to unlock access to their credit accounts.

Consumers who want to place a security freeze on their accounts only need to notify one of the three credit bureaus. The notified bureau must then alert the other two.

Under the new law, credit bureaus may charge consumers who do not have a police report up to $10 to freeze credit accounts. The bureaus may also charge up to $12 to temporarily lift the freeze for a specific creditor or remove the freeze altogether. Consumers should contact one of the three credit bureaus for more information on these fees.

Once the security freeze is in place, consumers will receive written confirmation from each credit reporting bureau. The freeze will remain in place until the consumer uses a PIN to request that the freeze be temporarily lifted or removed.

Texans should remember that a security freeze, while an effective safeguard, may not be for everyone. Consumers planning to apply for new credit, an apartment rental, or employment involving a background check may find that a security freeze is somewhat inconvenient. It may take up to three days for a credit bureau to temporarily lift or remove a security freeze. On the other hand, Texans who have little need for new lines of credit may benefit from this new law.

The Office of the Attorney General is committed to fighting identity theft. Potential identity theft victims should review our online Identity Theft Victim's Kit at www.oag.state.tx.us. The kit is designed to help victims begin the process of recovering, both financially and legally. It includes relevant forms and agency contact information that helps victims restore credit and prevent further damage to their good name.

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's website at www.oag.state.tx.us .

Government - A security freeze can protect Texans from ID theft

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Ceremonially sign bill requiring schools to have defibrillators on campus

Equipping schools with defibrillators will increase the survival chance for students who may suffer from cardiac arrest while at school or participating in athletics

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

September 12, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–September 5, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, visited schools in Austin, Houston and San Antonio to ceremonially sign Senate Bill 7, which requires every public school campus to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) readily available at all University Interscholastic League athletic practices and competitions. Equipping schools with AEDs will increase the survival chance for students who may suffer from cardiac arrest while at school or participating in athletics.

“In a state that has long set the national standard for athletic competition, this bill establishes a benchmark for student safety by requiring the presence of an essential life-saving device at school activities,” said Perry. “Texas knows the importance of putting our students first by taking common sense steps to reduce risk, and improve the chances of survival.”

Each year, approximately 250,000 people die due to coronary heart disease without being hospitalized. Most of these deaths occur suddenly and are caused by cardiac arrest. A victim's chance of survival is reduced by 7-10 percent with every minute that passes without treatment. The American Heart Association estimates that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. In cities where defibrillation is provided within 5-7 minutes, the survival rate from cardiac arrest is as high as 49 percent. According to a report by the House Research Organization, 15 Texas students have died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the last 10 years.

“Senate Bill 7 makes a significant investment in our children's safety and well-being. And it's an investment that will give parents peace of mind as their children leave for school every morning and most importantly, will save lives,” said Dewhurst. “Not only will students benefit from having this life-saving technology close at hand, but also teachers, faculty, visitors and virtually anyone visiting a school campus or attending an athletic event.”

SB 7 requires each school to have a defibrillator on campus and an individual present who is trained to use the device. Beginning this year, certain school personnel and students will be trained in the proper use of an AED and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Additionally, the State Board of Education will include instruction in CPR and AED as part of the essential knowledge and skills of the health curriculum. The Texas Education Agency may accept donations to assist in the cost of providing this instruction. Private schools that accept AEDs or TEA funding for the devices will be subject to the same requirements for training.

“A defibrillator in every school in Texas will result in more lives saved after sudden cardiac arrest,” said Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, author of Senate Bill 7. “In addition to protecting the safety of our children, educators will also now have access to this life saving technology in their schools.”

According to the new law, schools, school district officials and others who might be called upon to use an AED will have immunity from liability. The bill also requires TEA to establish a cardiovascular screening pilot program to screen 6th grade students beginning this school year.

Senate Bill 7 took effect June 15, 2007.

Government - Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Ceremonially sign bill requiring schools to have defibrillators on campus

Higher Ed - Celebrating Our Elders scholarship winners - UHCL picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Office of Intercultural and International Student Services held a luncheon recently for finalists in the Celebrating Our Elders scholarship project. Pictured are UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples (l) and Associate Vice President for Student Services Darlene Biggers (r) with four of the finalists including (l to r) Melissa Ann Piña, Alta Wilson, Monique Y. Medina and Maribel Rush.

University honors ‘Celebrating Our Elders’ finalists

A Celebrating Our Elders exhibit will open Sept. 22 in Atrium I of the Bayou Building

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

September 12, 2007

HOUSTON—University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Office of Intercultural and International Student Services hosted a lunch for a few of the finalists in the Celebrating Our Elders scholarship project who will be transferring to UH-Clear Lake this fall.

Area high school seniors and community college students are invited to apply for Celebrating Our Elders scholarships in spring 2008 by writing an essay about how an African-American or Hispanic elder’s support and inspiration has impacted his/her life personally and academically. If chosen as a finalist by the scholarship committee comprising area African-American and Hispanic leaders, community college leaders and university representatives, the essays are displayed with a photo of the applicant and his/her elder.

The next exhibit honoring Celebrating Our Elders finalists will begin Sept. 22 in the university’s Bayou Building, Atrium I. For more information about Celebrating Our Elders, visit http://www.uhcl.edu/coe or call the Office of Intercultural and International Student Services, 281-283-2575.

Higher Education - University honors ‘Celebrating Our Elders’ finalists

What's happening at the Helen Hall library

September 12, 2007 Update

Fall Reading Program at Helen Hall Library

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureLEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City announces a reading program for fall, Book Soup! Just as soup has many ingredients, a library has many different types of books. This program introduces children to the variety of books found at Helen Hall Library. Beginning in September and ending Saturday, November 17 area children may participate in the reading program.

Call the Youth Services Desk at Helen Hall Library for more information at 281-554-1113.

League City News
MORE -> Fall Reading Program at Helen Hall Library

Gardening - Plant of the Week: Spiderwort

Religion - The fifth sparrow


Older News: September 5, 2007


League City News - Bay Area Turning Point picture

Nominees sought for 2008 ‘Men & Women of Heart’ Gala

September 5, 2007

LEAGUE CITY, TX—Friends of Bay Area Turning Point, Inc. is seeking nominations for the 2008 “Men & Women of Heart” Gala which honors outstanding volunteers who have served the Bay Area with distinction over many years in a variety of philanthropic endeavors.

The honorees will be chosen by a panel of community leaders and presented at the Gala on February 23 in the Crystal Ballroom of South Shore Harbour Resort.

To nominate someone you know with a big heart, send the individual's name, address, phone number, e-mail address and detailed information on his/her volunteer accomplishments to:

Gala Nominees
P.O. Box 590784
Houston, TX 77259-0784

The submission deadline is September 18, 2007.

League City News - Bay Area Turning Point picture

League City News
- Nominees sought for 2008 ‘Men & Women of Heart’ Gala


Government - Flags in League Park picture

Flags flying in League Park.
Photo credit- Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Federal Court upholds ‘One State Under God’ in Texas Pledge of Allegiance

Denies preliminary injunction; allows Texas schoolchildren to continue reciting Pledge

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

September 5, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture DALLAS – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Aug. 28 prevailed in federal court, where a North Texas couple tried to prevent schoolchildren from reciting the Texas Pledge of Allegiance. A federal district judge ruled against David Wallace Croft and his wife, Shannon, who sought a preliminary injunction because the Texas Legislature recently added the words ‘one state under God’ to the state Pledge. Solicitor General Ted Cruz argued on the state's behalf.

“With today's ruling, a federal judge denied the plaintiffs' attempt to prevent Texas schoolchildren from pledging their allegiance to ‘one state under God’ — just as they pledge to ‘one nation under God,’” Attorney General Abbott said. “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held patriotic acknowledgments of the Almighty such as these are completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Texans can rest assured that we will continue vigorously defending their children's ability to recite the state Pledge of Allegiance each morning.”

The plaintiffs, both professed atheists, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Their children are students in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District.

The voluntary, teacher-led recitation of the Texas Pledge typically follows the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms across the state. According to the state's brief, the Legislature added the words “one state under God” to acknowledge the tradition and religious heritage inherent in America's founding.

The state contends the Texas Pledge is an acknowledgment of patriotism and citizenship. It is a practice that mirrors the Declaration of Independence's self-evident truths that citizens are “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Attorney General's brief argues that, instead of conflicting with the First Amendment, the Pledge reflects the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

Government - Federal Court upholds ‘One State Under God’ in Texas Pledge of Allegiance

Texas Attorney General warns homeowners of "Equity Stripping" scams

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

September 5, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Equity-stripping scams

Consult an investment professional to discuss market trends and return rate expectations.

Be diligent in paying bills and debts today to ensure good credit in
the future.

For assistance with credit problems, education and counseling:
NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR CREDIT COUNSELING
(800) 388-2227
www.nfcc.org

For assistance with credit problems that could result in mortgage
default or foreclosures:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
(888) 466-3487
www.hud.gov

For a free copy of your credit report:
ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT REQUEST SERVICE
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
(877) 322-8228
www.annualcreditreport.com

File a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General:
By phone: (800) 252-8011
Online: www.oag.state.tx.us

AUSTIN – Home ownership lies at the heart of the American dream. Unfortunately, a sudden job loss, family illness or other financial hardship can threaten that dream. Faced with rising mortgage payments or foreclosure, distressed homeowners may be tempted by financial predators who promise to "save" their homes.

Missing just one mortgage payment can bring a homeowner to the brink of foreclosure. Late fees and penalties accumulate. Mortgage payments rise. Credit ratings suffer, and debt spins out-of-control.

Equity-stripping scam artists prey on struggling homeowners. When properties with late tax payments appear on a public list at the county clerk's office, these unscrupulous schemers monitor them closely, contacting homeowners by phone, mail or with door-to-door solicitations. They know that a homeowner who misses a tax payment may have fallen behind on mortgage payments as well. Another scheme tempts homeowners with advertisements offering "mortgage rescue" scams.

Equity-stripping scams take various forms and often include promises of upfront cash, repaired credit and assurances that homeowners will be able to keep their homes in the long run. In some cases, a "foreclosure specialist" may claim to arrange for an outside buyer to "temporarily" purchase a home. In return, the owner receives a percentage of the profit in cash while the temporary buyer makes the mortgage payments. Good credit will be restored, the owner will qualify for refinancing and the home will be saved!

Unfortunately, this is rarely the result. Homeowners may receive the upfront cash, but the assurances that debts, including outstanding mortgage payments or tax liens, have been paid are false. In reality, the scam artists have refinanced the house, taken the equity in cash and stopped making mortgage payments, forcing the home back into foreclosure.

In another twist, "foreclosure experts" may promise that homeowners who sign over their property deeds and continue making monthly payments can continue living in their homes. The scammer typically promises to invest the equity and earn enough from those investments to pay off the mortgage. Within a short timeframe, the "specialists" promise, the homeowners will get back their properties, free of any mortgages. Once again, the homeowners usually end up in foreclosure after the company borrows large amounts against the home and strips it of its equity.

In most cases where homeowners lose their homes, the problems began with a single missed mortgage payment. Homeowners facing financial difficulties that could result in mortgage default or foreclosure should consider contacting a credit counseling agency or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Homeowners should never deliberately withhold a mortgage payment. If you are involved in a dispute with a mortgage company or a "mortgage-saving" company, file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and HUD. Do not default on your loan.

Cash offers to "save" a home may be tempting, but remember that there are few quick fixes to financial hardships. With proper debt management and patience, you can save yourself and your home from financial predators.

Government - Texas Attorney General warns homeowners of "Equity Stripping" scams

CCISD - Education Support Center picture

Educational Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas.
Photo credit: CCISD.

School District seeks new members for District-wide Educational Improvement Council

Volunteers help the District by reviewing educational policy, goals and objectives

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

September 5, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The Clear Creek Independent School District is seeking community and business members to serve on the District-wide Educational Improvement Council for the 2007-2008 school year. The Council is involved in establishing and reviewing the District’s educational goals, objectives, and major district-wide classroom instructional programs. Community members are urged to participate in this critical committee.

Community member representatives must reside in the district. Business member representatives need not reside in the district, but must own or operate a business in the district.

The Council meets after school at 4:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Educational Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas 77573. The Monday meeting dates are as follows: September 17, 2007

  • October 15, 2007
  • November 5, 2007
  • December 17, 2007
  • February 4, 2008
  • March 3, 2008
  • April 7, 2008
  • May 5, 2008

If interested in serving on the DEIC committee, volunteer forms can be accessed from the District’s Web site at www.ccisd.net or requested from the Office of Public Information at 281.284.0020. [Please fill out an application form if you are interested.] Completed forms must be received by September 10, 2007. Interested committee members may mail the form to:

CCISD
C/O Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
P.O. Box 799
League City, Texas 77573

CCISD - School District seeks new members for District-wide Educational Improvement Council

Higher Ed - New Support Staff Officers - UHCL picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Support Staff Association elected officers for the 2007-2008 academic year. Pictured are (seated, left to right): Carmen Fairbanks, recording secretary; Lorene Nieto, president-elect; Margaret Garcia, president; Daisy Aramburo, treasurer; Shannon Nevol, corresponding secretary; (standing, l-r) Nicole Wheatley, Planning & Budgeting representative (alternate); Javier Gutierrez, historian; Fran Davis, University Life Representative (alternate); Nina Perez, past president; Steve Boardman, Planning and Budgeting representative; Alicia Gookin, University Life representative; and Jane Beach-Martin, Shared Governance & Support Services representative.

University staff association elects new officers

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

September 5, 2007

The University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Support Staff Association elected officers for the 2007-2008 academic year. The university’s Support Staff Association provides representation in all matters relating to the welfare, opportunities, responsibilities and administration of UH-Clear Lake support staff as well as to promote positive and meaningful communication, coordination and unity between the support staff and faculty members, students and administration. The association also promotes opportunities for professional development.

Higher Education - University staff association elects new officers

What's happening at the Helen Hall library

September 5, 2007 Update

Knitting for Beginners at Helen Hall Library

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureLEAGUE CITY, TX—Helen Hall Library in League City offers two, six-part knitting classes for beginners and intermediates taught by Margaret White. Participants should purchase size 7 needles and “sugar/cream” kitchen cotton thread in a light color. Beginners will knit a scarf during the sessions.

The first session runs from Monday, September 10 to Monday, October 15 at 7pm.

The second session runs from Monday, October 22 to Monday, November 26 at 7pm.

Registration is required. Call the Adult Services Desk to register at 281-554-1101.

Story Times at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City offers free story times beginning Tuesday, September 11.

Story times run from Sept. 11 and end on Nov. 14, 2007.

Toddler story time, for 0-2 year olds, is held on Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:00 am until November 13.

Puppets, masks, hats, music, stories, fingerplays and action rhymes are used in an engaging manner to entice the 0-3 year old toddler into the world of BOOKS. This is a bonding time for toddler and parent, as well as a socialization period for the little ones. Parents receive a copy of each week's activities, as well as suggestions for at home fun.

Preschool story time, for 3-5 year olds, is held on Wednesdays at 10:15 am and 11:00 am until November 14.

Books, puppets, music, fingerplays, masks, and flannelboard activities attract the 3-5 year old child to the world of the library. The focus of this program is on socialization with others in a fun-filled atmosphere revolving around BOOKS. Each week the children will make a simple craft to help them remember the story. . . and to provide warm memories of the fun to be had at Helen Hall Library! Call the Youth Services Desk for more information at 281-554-1113.

League City News
- What's happening at the Helen Hall library

Gardening - Plant of the Week - Spiderwort

Religion - Hope


Older News: August 29, 2007


CCISD - Back to school picture Clear Creek students are back in school.

Please be on the lookout for children and stop when students are getting on and off school buses.

Modified Photo Credit: Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

CCISD - Back to school safety

Government - Car on Road picture

Have your tires been recalled? Modified photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Texas Attorney General Consumer Alert: FTS tire recall and Tire safety tips

Texans urged to check for potentially dangerous tires distributed by Foreign Tire Sales, Inc.

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 29, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Tire Safety

Inspect tires at least once a month and before every long trip for patterns of uneven wear. Check tire inflation pressure in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

Do not overload your vehicle. Excess weight can place extra stress on your tires. Check your tire placard or vehicle owner's manual for the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry.

Develop safe driving habits. Observe speed limits and avoid fast stops, starts, and turns. Avoid contact with potholes, debris, and curbs when driving or parking your vehicle.

Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Rotate tires regularly, get wheels balanced, and get a front-end alignment if necessary.

Use the proper tires for your vehicle. Check the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations before replacing a tire with a different size and/or construction.

Be aware of how the outside temperature affects your tires. Hot weather can be especially hard on tires.

Have any tire problems checked out by professionals. If you find that one of your tires is losing pressure, take it to a tire expert for a complete internal inspection.

Avoid buying used tires. You might be getting previously recalled or otherwise dangerous tires.

AUSTIN – Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. (FTS), in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Aug. 9 issued a recall of tires that could be in danger of tread separation. The Office of the Attorney General is urging Texas drivers to check their vehicles for these potentially dangerous tires and contact FTS to learn more about replacing the recalled products.

The recalled tires were made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. ("HZ") in China and distributed in the United States under several names, including Westlake, YKS and Compass. The tires were sold from 2004 to 2006 for light trucks, sports utility vehicles, and vans.

Government - Reading a Tire picture
               How to read a tire.
Photo Credit: Attorney General's Office

According to FTS, the U.S. distributor, at least 270,000 tires may have insufficient or missing "gum strips," an important safety feature on certain tires that helps prevent tread separation. More than 50,000 of the potentially unsafe tires are believed to have been sold in Texas.

Consumers should immediately check the sidewalls of their tires for the brand name, size, model, and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number. Tires subject to today's recall bear the DOT number "FTS" as part of the number.

Consumers who own any of these tires should immediately contact FTS toll-free at (888) 899-9293 or online at www.foreigntire.com. FTS may require consumers to complete a questionnaire and present it to a local dealer to obtain replacement tires. Consumers who own these tires should avoid driving for long distances on hot roads. Contact FTS to locate the closest tire shop or mechanic participating in the recall.

In most cases, consumers should not be charged to replace the defective tires. Check the FTS Web site or hotline for additional information.

Specific tire sizes and models affected:

  • LT235/75R-15 CR861, CR857 (Partial D.O.T. Number: 7DT5FTS)


  • LT235/85R-16 CR860, CR861, CR857 (Partial D.O.T. Number: 7DT2FTS)


  • LT245/75R-16 CR860, CR861, CR857 (Partial D.O.T. Number: CR857)


  • LT265/75R-16 CR860, CR861, CR857 (Partial D.O.T. Number: 7DT4FTS)


  • 5R-15 CR861, CR857 (Partial D.O.T. Number: 7DT6FTS).

Note: Image updated.

Government - Texas Attorney General Consumer Alert: FTS tire recall and Tire safety tips

District seeks committee volunteers

High school scheduling committee forming

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 29, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The Clear Creek Independent School District is seeking volunteers to serve on a High School Rescheduling Committee. The purpose of the committee is to consider possible options for the implementation of alternative scheduling, in part to fulfill the requirements of state-mandated instructional time and credits required for math and science. Community members are urged to participate in this critical committee and must reside in the district in order to be eligible to serve as a committee representative.

If interested in serving on the High School Rescheduling Committee, volunteer forms can be accessed from the District’s website at www.ccisd.net or requested from the Office of Public Information at 281-284-0020. Interested committee members may fax their completed application to (281) 284-9901, or mail the form to:

Clear Creek ISD Office of Public Information

P.O. Box 799

League City, Texas 77573

Completed forms must be received by 12:00 p.m. on September 7, 2007. Participants will be selected in a random drawing process that will occur on September 7, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

CCISD - District seeks committee volunteers

Free and reduced lunch program applications available

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 29, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—League City, Texas- Clear Creek Independent School Students who are unable to afford the full price of school meals will be able to participate in a free and reduced-price meal program (reduced-price meal prices are $0.30 for breakfast and $0.40 for lunch).

According to Fred Walker, Director of Child Nutrition Services, the district will use guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine eligibility for participation in the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program. Qualification standards are based on the number of family members and income.

Applicants must turn in the following information to be considered for the program: names of all household members; social security number of primary wage earner or household member who signs the form; last month’s income and how often it was received for each household member that receives an income; or the Food Stamp or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) case number; and the signature of an adult household member.

Information submitted on the application may be verified as required by law. For more information about the program, call (281) 284-0708.

Household Size Yearly Monthly Weekly
1 18,889 1,575 364
2 25,327 2,111 488
3 31,765 2,648 611
4 38,203 3,184 735
5 44,641 3,721 859
6 51,079 4,257 983
7 57,517 4,794 1,107
8 63,955 5,330 1,230
Each additional person 6,438 537 124

 

CCISD - Free and reduced lunch program applications available

New provost selected for UH-Clear Lake

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

August 29, 2007

HOUSTON—University of Houston-Clear Lake named Carl A. Stockton to serve as the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. Stockton comes to UH-Clear Lake from the University of Texas at Brownsville where he served as dean and Houston Endowed Chair for Education in the School of Education.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Stockton accepted our invitation to join the UH-Clear Lake family,” said UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples. “He brings a wealth of skills and experiences as well as a fresh perspective to share with us.

“I want to express my appreciation to the members of the search committee for a job well done.”

While in Brownsville , Stockton led the school in acquiring more than $33 million in external funding and doubling enrollment in the School of Education . He successfully directed the university in receiving the first doctoral program in education and established innovative partnerships with 14 area high schools to provide strategic direction and planning for curricular alignment and enrichment.

Other positions held by Stockton include serving as department chair for the Department of Health and Applied Human Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington . Awards and honors include receiving the National Health Education Professional Administrator of the Year Award, the Honorary Fellows Award from the American Association for Health Education for distinguished service to the health education profession and a graduate from the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education. Stockton is also a consulting author for Harcourt Brace Publishing Company’s Comprehensive K-6 Curriculum titled “Health and Fitness.”

Stockton holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Health Education from University of Tennessee and a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida. His educational interests include nutrition, health sciences and public health education.

“I look forward to connecting with the students, faculty and staff at the university as well as getting to know the community,” said Stockton . “ UH-Clear Lake has a tradition of seeking excellence in education and I look forward to the opportunity of carrying the university’s tradition forward through the pursuit of innovation and excellence.”

Stockton succeeds Edward J. Hayes who served as UH-Clear Lake provost and senior vice president from 1994 to 2007. Hayes will continue to teach for UH-Clear Lake ’s School of Education.

Higher Education - New provost selected for UH-Clear Lake

League City News - Helen Hall Library Picture

Helen Hall library
Photo by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

What's happening at the Helen Hall library

August 29, 2007

Story Times at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City offers free story times beginning Tuesday, September 11.

Story times run from Sept. 11 and end on Nov. 14, 2007.

Toddler story time, for 0-2 year olds, is held on Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:00 am until November 13.

Puppets, masks, hats, music, stories, fingerplays and action rhymes are used in an engaging manner to entice the 0-3 year old toddler into the world of BOOKS. This is a bonding time for toddler and parent, as well as a socialization period for the little ones. Parents receive a copy of each week's activities, as well as suggestions for at home fun.

Preschool story time, for 3-5 year olds, is held on Wednesdays at 10:15 am and 11:00 am until November 14.

Books, puppets, music, fingerplays, masks, and flannelboard activities attract the 3-5 year old child to the world of the library. The focus of this program is on socialization with others in a fun-filled atmosphere revolving around BOOKS. Each week the children will make a simple craft to help them remember the story. . . and to provide warm memories of the fun to be had at Helen Hall Library! Call the Youth Services Desk for more information at 281-554-1113.


Teen Advisory Board at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City hosts a Teen Advisory Board. The Teen Advisory Board is made up of teens ages 12-18 from local schools and home schools. Participation in the Teen Advisory Board can count as community, volunteer, or leadership hours for organizations such as Honor Society.

Meetings are generally held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 7:30 to 8:30 pm in the Children's Theater of Helen Hall Library. The meeting schedule for Fall 2007 is as follows: Sept. 5, Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 17, Nov. 7 and Nov. 28.

For more information call Jenny Brewer, Teen Librarian, at 281-554-1108.


Computer Classes at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host free computer classes that will introduce the participant to basic Internet skills, such as finding driving directions or locating addresses of people. E-mail tips, using the library on-line catalog, and searching on-line databases will also be included. Classes will be held at 1:30pm on the following Wednesdays;

Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Oct. 17 & Nov. 14. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Register by calling 281-554-1101.


Antiques Round Table at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host an Antiques Round Table: Discussion of Provenance at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24

in the Helen Hall Library boardroom, first floor. Bring an item with provenance to share. Tell a story about this antique.

Register with Adult Services, 281-554-1101.

League City News
- What's happening at the Helen Hall library


Older News: August 22, 2007 with Update


CCISD - Educational Support Center picture

Educational Support Center at 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas.
Photo credit: CCISD.

Notice of public meeting to discuss
budget and proposed tax rate

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 24, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The Clear Creek Independent School District will hold a public meeting at 6:00 p.m., August 27, 2007 in Board Room, Education Support Center, 2425 East Main Street, League City, Texas. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the school district's budget that will determine the tax rate that will be adopted.

Public participation in the discussion is invited. The tax rate that is ultimately adopted at this meeting or at a separate meeting at a later date may not exceed the proposed rate shown below unless the district publishes a revised notice containing the same information and comparisons set out below and holds another public meeting to discuss the revised notice.

Proposed Tax Rate
Maintenance Tax $1.0000/$100 (Proposed rate for maintenance and operations)
School Debt Service Tax Approved by Local Voters $0.3200/$100 (Proposed rate to pay bonded indebtedness)


CCISD - Clear Lake High School Name and Building picture

Clear Lake High School team best in the world

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 22, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The Clear Lake High School Earth Angels recently competed in the Global Enterprise Challenge in Cardiff, Wales as Team USA.

The students won the honor to represent the United States earlier this year in the Texas and national trials. Thousands of students from around the world competed to represent their own countries, and the final competition included teams from Australia, England, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Wales, and the United States.

The twenty-four hour competition required each team to write a business plan, to make a prototype model, and to create a presentation for a commercially-viable product or service in response to a global issue or concern. The entrepreneurship education program is sponsored by the Scottish Space School Foundation and Careers Scotland and receives strong support from NASA and Space Center Houston.

Astronaut Mike Baker opened the competition with the announcement of this year’s challenge: To produce a working model of an innovative game that will entertain, inform, and educate 8-12 year olds about global citizenship.

Team USA captured the first place prize for their product, an interactive online game called X-Plorer. The members of Team USA: Lauren Anderson, Ankur Dass, Maria Granato, Kevin Kin, Kade Martinez, Prashant Prasad, Lindsay Ripley, and Jack Wehman. Sarah Zarcaro is the team’s teacher/sponsor, and Michael Zarcaro of GeoControl Systems served as the team’s community business mentor.

The following companies, organizations, and individuals were sponsors of Team USA and made the trip to the competition possible: Barrios Technology, Camden Properties, GeoControl Systems, MRI Technologies, Muniz Engineering, The Rotary Club of Space Center, Bill and Tamara Anderson, and Ann and Jim O’Malley.

CCISD - Clear Lake High School team best in the world

Higher Ed - Seventh annual UHCL-ISA Cricket Tournament picture

Pictured with the winning team (front row) are members of the Indian Student Association executive council including Naeem Vehvaria, Anjali Satam, Imran Ullah Mohammad, Nikhil Reddy Bhomi, Aiyaz Amin Paniwala, Prathap Pabbati, Pavan Anna and Sandeep Chavva.

Seventh annual Cricket Tournament held at University

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

August 22, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Indian Student Association hosted its 7th annual ISA-UHCL cricket tournament allowing eight local teams to compete during the weekend matches. The Houston Outlaws won the tournament championship after defeating the Houston Falcons in the final match.

Sponsors of the tournament included AIM Insurance and UH-Clear Lake ’s Student Government Association, Office of Student Life, Office of Dean of Students and the Intercultural and International Student Services Office.

Higher Education - Seventh annual Cricket Tournament held at University

Attorney General Abbott reaches $21 million settlement benefiting victims of predatory mortgage lending

  • Ameriquest Mortgage Co. returns $325 million to consumers nationwide
  • Claim forms must be submitted by Sept. 10

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 22, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureEL PASO–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott July 12 announced that Texas homeowners who were harmed by Ameriquest Mortgage Co.’s deceptive lending practices will share in almost $21 million in restitution. Eligible Texans will receive claim forms from the lending giant in the coming days.

The settlement, a part of Attorney General Abbott’s ongoing efforts to combat misleading lending practices, resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates, Town and Country Credit Corp. and AMC Mortgage Services, did not adequately disclose certain terms to prospective homeowners, including whether loans carried fixed or adjustable rates. The company also charged excessive origination fees and prepayment penalties, refinanced borrowers into improper loans and inflated appraisals that qualified borrowers for loans. About 21,000 Texans who signed contracts with Ameriquest Mortgage Co. between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2005, may be eligible to receive restitution payments. The amount of each claimant’s payment will be based on the degree of financial harm they suffered because of the company’s financing schemes.

“Texans will not tolerate predatory lending schemes that lock would-be homeowners into a seemingly endless cycle of debt,” said Attorney General Abbott. “We are pleased that Texas homeowners who were harmed by this lending giant will share nearly $21 million in refunds. The Office of the Attorney General will continue protecting homeowners from deceptive lenders.”

This week, eligible consumers will begin receiving letters and claim forms explaining the restitution process. To participate, consumers must complete and mail these forms to the settlement administrator no later than Sept. 10, 2007. The settlement administrator’s toll-free number is (800) 420-5875 and detailed information can be obtained online at www.ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com.

Consumers who opt for restitution relinquish their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest. Therefore, the Office of the Attorney General encourages consumers to consult with a private attorney before deciding to participate.

Government - Attorney General Abbott reaches $21 million settlement benefiting victims of predatory mortgage lending

Trade In, Trade Up Days at Stein Mart to benefit Interfaith Caring Ministries September 7 and 8

Donors to clothing drive for ICM will receive up to 4 Stein Mart 20% off coupons

By Interfaith Caring Ministries

August 22, 2007

Cleanout those closets and come on down to Stein Mart the second weekend in September. Earn 20% discounts as you make room in your closets for Stein Mart clothing.

The sixth annual Stein Mart/Interfaith Caring ministries Trade In, Trade Up Days will be held on Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8. Each donor will receive up to 4 Stein Mart 20% off coupons. This clothing drive will only be held in Webster at the Stein Mart store located at 19801 Gulf Freeway.

“It has always been a pleasure to work with ICM,” said Forrest Dark, General Manager of Stein Mart.

Participants are asked to bring gently used, good quality, clean fall and winter garments to be donated. Tax receipts from ICM will be available for donors.

Volunteers will be available to receive your donations during the following hours:
  • Friday, September 8: noon until 6 p.m.

  • Saturday, September 9: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Items of particular need are
  • Women’s suits,

  • Business dresses,

  • Women’s pant suits and

  • Standardized dressing for elementary students.
ICM self sufficiency program

Women’s suits are especially useful for our self sufficiency program which helps individuals that are unemployed or underemployed.

Boutique area of the ICM Resale Shop

Many of the items donated in the past have been featured in the Boutique area of the ICM Resale Shop. The ICM Resale Shop is located at the corner of Bay Area Blvd and Hwy 3 (118 W Bay Area Blvd in Webster). Proceeds from the ICM Resale Shop help fund the many programs of ICM.

ICM's role in the community

Interfaith Caring Ministries is an assistance coalition supported by businesses, organizations, churches and individuals. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, ICM is celebrating 21 years of serving our neighbors in need.

The mission of ICM is not only to help people in crisis, but also to facilitate their path to self-sufficiency. For the year ending June 30, 2006, ICM provided services to over 3000 families who live within the Clear Creek Independent School District. Additionally, ICM helped over 2300 families that were displaced in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita last fall with food, clothing and gasoline vouchers.

For more ICM info

For more information about Stein Mart’s Trade In, Trade Up Days or other programs of Interfaith Caring Ministries, please contact ICM at 281-332-3881.

Stein Mart

Address: 19801 Gulf Freeway in Webster
Store hours: Mon.- Fri. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Sun. noon - 6 p.m.
Phone: 281-554-2611

Note: 2007 Update by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

League City News - Trade In, Trade Up Days at Stein Mart to benefit Interfaith Caring Ministries September 7 and 8

Religion - Concerning Marriage

Gardening - Heavy shade curtails vigor of lawn grass


Older News: August 15, 2007


Government - Tree limb removal picture

The peak of hurricane season has started. Are you ready?

A crane is being used to remove a fallen tree limb from a home. Plan ahead to prevent or limit storm damage to your home. Remove dead, brittle, or diseased trees and weak, dead, or overhanging limbs. Also, cleanout and repair gutters and make roof repairs, including tacking down loose shingles and replacing damaged shingles, as soon as possible. Professional help is recommended for large jobs, including tree removal, to prevent injury to you or damage to your property. Professional help is recommended for large jobs, including tree removal, to prevent injury to you or damage to your property. Photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online. Chuck Peek is the climber for work being done by Tree Care Services, Joe Soucie, owner.

Don't be scammed in aftermath of storms and flooding

The peak of hurricane season is from August through October.
You may wish to make a list of quality contractors now.

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 15, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Home Repairs

How long has the contractor been in business?

Is the contractor insured and/or bonded?

Does the contractor have references? Check them.

Get all terms in writing.

Get all promises in writing.

Do not sign a contract with blank spaces.

Check on the contractor's reputation with the Better Business Bureau.

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott June 27 warned Central Texas residents to be wary of fraudulent attempts to bilk flood victims in the aftermath of recent storms.

“Texans will not tolerate anyone who attempts to illegally profit from a disaster,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Office of the Attorney General will aggressively prosecute anyone who attempts to exploit consumers in the wake of these storms. We will keep Central Texas residents in our thoughts and prayers as we vigorously monitor this situation.”

As emergency response officials begin to gather reports of damaged homes and structures, Attorney General Abbott urged homeowners and businesses to exercise caution when seeking contractors to help with repairs. Abbott offered the following consumer tips:

Home repairs

Be wary of contractors who show up unexpectedly and offer roofing, drywall and other major repairs, particularly those who are not from the local community and low-ball their offer saying that they have material left over from a previous job and insist on an advance cash payment.

Obtain bids in writing from several contractors first and review each one carefully. Ask contractors if they are covered through insurance or a bond, particularly when considering them for a large project. Check with the city to make sure electricians and plumbers have the necessary license and have obtained the required permits.

Get all terms in writing and do not sign a contract without a full understanding of its contents. Do not sign a contract that has spaces left blank. Pay the contractor only as the work progresses, and do not sign a completion certificate until all repairs are done properly. If the work is substantial, consider having an independent inspector look it over before settling the bill with the contractor.

Before hiring a contractor, contact the Better Business Bureau and the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether consumers have filed complaints against the contractor in the past.

Charity scams

Be wary of telemarketers, solicitations by mail, or those who show up unexpectedly urging an immediate donation to an unfamiliar charity which supposedly will aid victims of the disaster. A legitimate charity will offer detailed information in writing about how donated money will be used and will provide a reasonable timeframe within which the donor can make an informed decision.

Be particularly suspicious of solicitors who are long on emotion but short on detail about how donations will be put to use. Always make the donation using a check or money order made out to the charity, and be wary of organizations with names that are very similar but not identical to those of a recognized charity.

Additional information to help consumers protect themselves against these and other disaster-related scams is available on the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us, or by calling (800) 252-8011. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Note: The photo and the information with the photo are supplementary.

Government - Tips on home repairs from the Texas Attorney General

Government - Don't be scammed in aftermath of storms and flooding

Teachers awarded an out-of-this-world experience

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 15, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – When two area elementary school teachers return to class in the fall, they will have quite a story to share with their students about what they did over the summer.

Pat Denyszyn, a teacher at Ferguson Elementary School, and Samantha Pulse, teacher at Ward Elementary School, were both awarded a full scholarship to attend the highly coveted Boeing Educators Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The teachers will spend a week participating in simulated space missions, astronaut training and lectures by experts in rocketry and space exploration.

Since 1992, The Boeing program has provided more than 300 educators with many of the resources they need to inspire their students to learn more about math, science and space.

CCISD - Teachers awarded an out-of-this-world experience

CCISD - League City Elementary picture

League City Elementary School
Photo by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

School District immunization policy

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 15, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Clear Creek Independent School District immunization requirements are as follows:

Immunization Requirements
Vaccine Requirement
Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoid, and Pertussis Vaccine ((DTP), DTaP, DT, Td) Five doses of any combination DTaP/DTP unless fourth dose was given on or after fourth birthday.
Students seven years or older:
· Three doses of any combination DTP/DTaP/DT/Td vaccine (Pertussis vaccine is not required.)
· One dose of Td required ten years after last dose of DTP/DTaP/DT
Polio (IPV) Four doses unless the third dose was on or after fourth birthday.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Two doses of a measles-containing vaccine with the first dose on or after the first birthday; second dose by age five or entry into kindergarten.
Hepatitis B Three doses are required for the following grades in the following school years:
· 2004-05 K-5 and 7-10
· 2005-06 K-11
· 2006-07 K-12
Varicella
(chicken pox)
One dose on or after first birthday for the following grades:
· 2004-05 K-4 and 7-10
· 2005-06 K-5 and 7-11
· 2006-07 K-12
(Two doses if vaccine given at 13 years of age or older.)
Hepatitis A Two doses on or after second birthday, five for kindergarten-grade 3 only.

CCISD - School District registers elementary students

CCISD - School District immunization policy

Higher Ed - Leibfried seminar room dedicated picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake honored retired Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems Ted Leibfried at a special ceremony to dedicate the Dr. Ted Leibfried Seminar Room. Family and friends gathered to celebrate the special event. Pictured (l to r) are UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples; Leibfried’s son, Christian; Leibfried; and daughter, Lisa. Leibfried received emeritus status in 2005. Leibfried’s wife, Betty, is a UH-Clear Lake Distinguished Alumna and a local artist.

University faculty honored

Seminar room named for retired 2005 emeritus Computer Professor.
Also, new emeriti faculty selected.

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

August 15, 2007

Three retired University of Houston-Clear Lake faculty members were honored with emeritus status by the University Of Houston System ’s Board of Regents. New faculty emeriti include Richard Allison, professor of environmental management; Charles W. McKay, professor of software engineering and dean of the School of Science and Computer Engineering; and Tulsi Saral, professor of clinical psychology.

UH-Clear Lake faculty members select faculty emeriti nominees based on their long-term support to the university, in addition to exhibiting a sustained and distinguished record of teaching, scholarship or service.

Once a faculty member has been nominated to receive professor emeritus status the Emeritus/Emerita Nominating Committee, formed of one tenured professor from each of the university’s four schools, reviews the nominations and submits recommendations to the university’s deans, provost and president for final review. All appointment nominations are then reviewed and approved by the University of Houston System Board of Regents.

In addition to the title of professor emeritus, all of the professors have library, computing and parking privileges. They also receive invitations to university functions.

Higher Education - University faculty honored

Cornyn statement in support of the State Children’s Health Insurance Fund reauthorization

Vows to protect texas health care funds & oppose efforts to federalize health care

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

August 15, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn July 30 made the following statement regarding his vote in support of beginning debate on legislation (S. 1893) to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP).

“By any standard, SCHIP has been a remarkable success. The rate of children in America living without health insurance dropped by 25 percent from 1996 to 2005, and approximately one million Texas children who would not get care otherwise have benefited.

“Reauthorization of SCHIP is extremely important to Texas , especially as our state strives to continue improving access to quality, affordable health care for children.

“It is my hope that the Senate can have a full and fair debate on this important issue this week. There are a number of areas in the proposed legislation which concern me, however, particularly how they would affect Texas . This proposed bill actually encourages the irresponsible use of funds at the state level, and punishes states, such as my home state of Texas , which have used this program judiciously and according to its initial intent. As written, Texas stands to lose more than $600 million dollars in federal health care funding for next year.

“Moreover, I’m afraid that some of my colleagues have forgotten the original intent of SCHIP, which is to help children in low-income families and not adults who are living well above the poverty level. By seeking to increase spending on SCHIP by roughly 300 percent, it seems clear that some in the Senate are viewing this bill as a gateway to a federally funded, government-run health care program, similar to Canada .

“It is for these and other reasons that I will be supporting an alternate bill to the one supported by the Democratic majority. This legislation will meet the needs of Texas and its children, while ensuring that a massive tax increase is not imposed on working families. I look forward to a full, fair and vigorous debate on this issue in the days ahead.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn statement in support of SCHIP reauthorization

All that glitters: Investing in gold and rare coins

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 15, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Investing in Gold and Rare Coins

Consult an investment professional to discuss market trends and return rate expectations.

Evaluate investment claims carefully and be cautious of high pressure sales pitches or promises of rapidly rising values.

Compare grade and value with other dealers and get the seller's return policy in writing.

Check the grade of purchased coins through an independent certification service.

For more information on coin collecting, grading or other information:

American Numismatic Association 818 North Cascade Avenue Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903-3279 (800) 367-9723

To report a fraudulent seller or other investment scam, contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or file a consumer complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us.

AUSTIN – For centuries, gold has been one of the world's most popular investments. Long considered an investor's "safe haven," gold offers consumers diverse investment opportunities, including: traditional purchases of bullion gold bars or coins; electronic trades in gold futures; and investments in gold mining companies.

The glitter of gold, however, often attracts scam artists who simply want to separate investors from their money. As with all investments, consumers considering gold and gold coins should study the market carefully to avoid falling victim to high-pressure sales tactics.

Many consumers, particularly senior citizens, have been deceived into using their life's savings and other assets to buy coins priced at least three times their fair market value. The Office of the Attorney General has received complaints from consumers who spent thousands of dollars each to purchase "rare" gold coins that sellers claimed would double or triple in value in a very short time.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the value of bullion coins is determined primarily by their gold or silver content, rather than by rarity or condition. Bullion coins are bought and sold worldwide at prices that change daily, depending on world markets.

Fraudulent sellers often overprice their bullion coins or mislead consumers into purchasing imitation metals created by fraudulent "mints."

Aspiring gold and rare coin investors should carefully evaluate any investment claims. Knowledgeable coin collectors, known as numismatists, often research coins and dealers for some time before buying even a single coin. Investment gains in the gold and rare coin market are often the result of careful scrutiny of a coin's quality, rarity, market availability and price.

Always compare grade and value with other dealers before making a selection. Investors should also review the seller's refund policy and be sure to get all other terms of sale in writing. Consumers may contact the Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau before making a purchase to find out if there are complaints against a particular seller.

Investors should also check the grade of the purchased coins with an independent certification service. Fraudulent sellers often inflate the grade of the coins they sell, thereby inflating the price. A third-party grading service can help investors determine the quality and value of coins.

Be wary of high-pressure sales pitches where sellers insist on an immediate decision or promise high rates of return. These tactics are commonly used by con artists to coerce investors into making uninformed purchases.

Before making any investment, especially a sizable one, consumers should consult a trusted individual, such as a financial adviser or other professional who can provide a realistic outlook on various investment options and their expected rate of return. There are also several nonprofit coin dealer associations, such as the American Numismatic Association, that offer tips on selecting a reputable seller who adheres to the association's ethics and arbitration guidelines.

Finally, all consumers should be cautious when providing financial information, including credit card numbers, to salespersons, particularly over the telephone.

Investing in gold and rare coins is much like any other consumer purchase: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When investors take time to study the market and acquire coins with selected quality and proven rarity from reputable dealers, all that glitters may indeed turn out to be gold.

Government - All that glitters - Investing in gold and rare coins

Gov. Perry awards criminal justice funds

Money awarded for transportable dog kennel

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

August 15, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry July 27 announced an award of $16,468 to the Travis County Sheriffs’ Department to purchase a dog kennel that officers will use to transport their working dogs. The kennel is climate controlled and allows for longer deployment in the field while providing safe, comfortable and effective transportation of the dogs. Funds are awarded under the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD).

“With these funds, local law enforcement officials will be better equipped to provide and maintain adequate conditions for their K-9 units, enabling them to better serve their communities and protect its citizens,” Perry said.

The State Criminal Justice Planning Fund supports programs that enhance the criminal and juvenile justice systems through various means, including law enforcement training and development, juvenile delinquency prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, special prosecution and criminal investigation units, and victim services programs.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

Government - Gov. Perry awards criminal justice funds

Gardening - It’s Dry! Seminar on home irrigation system is now appropriate!

Religion - Concerning Marriage


Older News: August 8, 2007


CCISD - League City Elementary picture

League City Elementary School
Photo by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

School District registers elementary students

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

August 8, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Parents or guardians must provide the following documentation as part of the registration procedures:

  • Proof of student identity, which can be a certified birth certificate, passport, alien registration card or visa;

  • A Social Security card;

  • Two proofs of residency within the Clear Creek ISD boundaries, such as a utility bill, rent receipt stating name and address or lease or purchase agreement

  • Immunization records are also required to register a child for school, and students must be fully immunized before attending school. Please check the specific elementary school your child is attending to determine if immunizations are available at that location.

  • Last report card or withdrawal form from previous school district.
Continuing CCISD students shall provide
  • A current electric or water utility bill for the address identified as residence. A copy of this information will be kept on file.

  • Registration forms will be sent home twice during the school year to ensure all information is up to date.
Elementary School Date Times
Armand Bayou Aug. 6-24 9 - 11 a.m.
Bauerschlag Aug. 9-23 1 - 3 p.m.
Bay Aug. 13-24 8 - 11 a.m.; 1-4 p.m.
Brookwood Aug. 6-24 9 - 11 a.m.
Clear Lake City Aug. 8-27 8 a.m. - noon
Falcon Pass Aug. 1-23 8 a.m. - noon
Ferguson Aug. 6 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Gilmore Aug. 9-23 1 - 3 p.m.
Goforth Aug. 17 9 - 11 a.m.; 1 - 3 p.m.
Greene Aug. 6-24 9 - 11 a.m.; 1 - 4 p.m.
Hall Aug. 13-27 1 - 4 p.m.
Hyde Aug. 2-24 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Landolt Aug. 13-24 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
League City Aug. 13 8 - 11 a.m.
McWhirter

Aug. 6-9
Aug. 13-16
Aug. 20-24

8:30– 11:00 a.m.
North Pointe Aug. 8-15 8:30– 11:00 a.m.
Robinson Aug. 6-24 8 - 12 a.m.
Ross Aug. 6-23 9 - 11 a.m.; 1 - 3 p.m.
Stewart Aug. 6-9
Aug. 13-16
Aug. 20-24
9 a.m. - noon
Ward Aug. 13-24 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Weber Aug. 14-17 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Wedgewood

Aug. 6-24
Aug. 14

9 - 11 a.m.
5 - 7 p.m. (Evening Registration)
Whitcomb Aug. 6-24 8 - 11 a.m.
White Aug. 13-24 8 - 11 a.m.
Estrellas Program
at McWhirter
Aug. 12 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Estrellas Program
at McWhirter
Aug. 3 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

CCISD Archive

CCISD - School District immunization policy

CCISD - School District immunization policy

CCISD - School District registers elementary students

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureWhat's happening at the Helen Hall library

August 8, 2007

Local Author at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY——Helen Hall Library in League City is proud to host a visit from local author, R. P. Bonasso. Mr. Bonasso will discuss his book entitled Outback Reckoning with the evening book club on the Monday, August 13 at 7:00 p.m. Please join us for this exciting event! For more information please call Liz Hopkins at 281-554-1106 or email her at ehopkins@leaguecitylibrary.org


History Club at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City invites you to join the History Club.

The History Club meets on the second Tuesday of the month at

7:00 p.m. at the Helen Hall Library.

At the next meeting on Tuesday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. Joseph Crain reviews Evolution of a State by Nicholas Smithwick.

On Tuesday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m. Sam Hutchison will give a brief history of the Pony Express.

For more information call Joe Brown at 281-332-4257.


LINUX Users Meeting at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—The LINUX Users group meets at Helen Hall Library at 6:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

Meetings are as follows; Tuesday, Aug. 7, Sept. 4, Oct. 2, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4.

For more information, please call 281-554-1111.


Antiques Round Table at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host an Antiques Round Table: Discussion of Provenance at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24

in the Helen Hall Library boardroom, first floor. Bring an item with provenance to share. Tell a story about this antique.

Register with Adult Services, 281-554-1101.


Computer Classes at Helen Hall Library

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host free computer classes that will introduce the participant to basic Internet skills, such as finding driving directions or locating addresses of people. E-mail tips, using the library on-line catalog, and searching on-line databases will also be included. Classes will be held at 1:30pm on the following Wednesdays;

Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Oct. 17 & Nov. 14. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Register by calling 281-554-1101.

League City News
- What's happening at the Helen Hall library

UH-Clear Lake hosted international students and the International Space School

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

August 8, 2007

More than 30 high school students from around the world with an interest in space-related careers attended the International Space School at UH-Clear Lake from July 22 through August 22. While at the school, students worked on aerospace projects and gained valuable knowledge from industry leaders at UH-Clear Lake and NASA Johnson Space Center. Students and space school alumni represented at least 25 countries.

On Thursday, Aug. 2, 1–2 p.m., the students linked with and participated in a live chat with the Arctic Mars Researchers in Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake hosted international students and the International Space School

Cornyn votes to strengthen Higher Education Act

Bill approved by Senate July 24 includes Pell Grant increases for college students

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

August 8, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—With the support of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate today passed S. 1642, which strengthens and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965. Key provisions in this legislation include Pell Grant increases; more information to students and parents about college tuition and fees; simplifying the free application process for Federal Student Aid; and requiring colleges and universities to establish Codes of Conduct for their relationships with lenders.

“Since it was first passed in 1965, this legislation has enabled tens of thousands of Americans to pursue the dream of higher education. It is our responsibility in Congress today to make sure that dream remains within reach for American young people and their families,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This bill takes steps to do that by raising the maximum Pell Grants, streamlining the application process and providing more information to students and parents. It also shines needed light on the lending process to help ensure our institutions of higher learning are protecting their students first and foremost.”

Among other provisions, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 includes:

Raising the maximum Pell Grant from $4,050 for academic year 2007-2008 to $5,400 for academic year 2008-09; $5,700 for academic year 2009-10; $6,000 for academic year 2010-11; and $6,300 for academic year 2011-12.

Requiring colleges to establish codes of conduct for their relationships with lenders; prohibits certain revenue sharing agreements; prohibits financial aid officers from taking gifts from lenders; includes greater privacy protections for borrower financial information; requires universities to have at least three unaffiliated lenders on their preferred lender list, and ensures that “benefits to students” are the basis for lenders being placed on their preferred lender list.

Requiring lenders and guaranty agencies to: provide additional financial literacy services; provide additional information on interest rate reductions and repayment options; control the information reported to credit bureaus; and expand assistance to reduce loan default. Provides additional benefits to those living on military bases; provides more loan discharge options for disabled borrowers; expands work-study allowance for books/supplies; and expands the occupations eligible for Perkins loan cancellation.

Authorizing grants for teacher preparation and residency programs; alternative routes to teacher certification; and a state report card on the quality of teacher preparation.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn votes to strengthen Higher Education Act

Cornyn encourages fire departments to apply for Department of Homeland Security grant funding for additional personnel

Offers assistance to fire departments in application process for SAFER grant funding – August 31 deadline

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

August 8, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn encouraged Texas fire departments on Monday to apply for grant funding available to increase the number of firefighters and support their work. Sen. Cornyn offered his assistance to firefighters in the application process, which begins today. The funding comes through the Department of Homeland Security’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.

“The men and women on the front lines of emergency response need more support than ever as they work to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I encourage local fire departments in Texas to apply for this important funding, and will assist throughout the application process.”

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program helps fire departments increase the number of frontline firefighters. The goal is for fire departments to increase their staffing and deployment capabilities and ultimately attain 24-hour staffing, thus assuring that their communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.

The SAFER grants support two specific activities: (1) the hiring of firefighters, and (2) recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. SAFER is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants and is under the Office of Grants and Training of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen. Cornyn has held roundtables with emergency first responders across the state as part of his ongoing effort to highlight security needs in Texas hometowns. The events provide communities the opportunity to express their needs and concerns directly to Sen. Cornyn.

A total of approximately $110 million is available for fire departments across the nation.

The online application form for the grants is available on the Web at www.firegrantsupport.com. For more information or assistance with the grant process, contact John Wyatt in Sen. Cornyn’s Washington office at 202-224-2934 or visit: www.cornyn.senate.gov.

Fire departments have until August 31, 2007 to complete and submit their applications.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn encourages fire departments to apply for Department of Homeland Security grant funding for additional personnel

Texas Attorney General Abbott enforces state's Right-to-Work Law in El Paso case — Texas workers have the right to not join a union and to refuse to pay union dues

Labor group, employer unlawfully threatened to fire workers who refuse union membership

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 8, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureEL PASO–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott July 24 took legal action against a labor organization and an El Paso employer for unlawfully forcing workers to join a labor union. The Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA), Local 725, and Deco-Akal, JV and related affiliates, which provide security services to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service Processing Center in El Paso.

The Attorney General seeks to prevent the defendants from enforcing unlawful contractual provisions against former, current and future employees who refuse to join a union or pay membership dues as a condition of employment.

“The law guarantees important right-to-work protections for Texas workers,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans have the right to work without having to join a labor union or pay union dues. The Office of the Attorney General will aggressively enforce Texas’ right-to-work laws and will take all necessary measures to protect workers’ freedom from compulsory union membership.”

According to the Attorney General’s enforcement action, the SPFPA and Deco-Akal entered into an unlawful collective bargaining agreement that violates Texas’ right-to-work laws. Their unlawful contract required Deco-Akal employees to join the union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. The Texas Labor Code prohibits employers from denying employment to workers who decline to join or make payments to a labor union.

SPFPA officials have falsely claimed that Deco-Akal’s El Paso facility fell exclusively within federal jurisdiction. However, in June, a federal administrative law judge ruled against SPFPA, holding instead that the property was not a federal enclave. The judge’s order stems from Deco-Akal’s indefinite suspension of Juan Vielma, a security guard who refused to pay his contractually mandated SPFPA membership dues. The ruling ordered Deco-Akal to reinstate Vielma and pay back his lost wages and benefits.

July 24’s enforcement action also seeks civil penalties against SPFPA up to $1,000 per violation and reimbursement to employees for any fees employees paid under the unlawful agreement.

Government - Texas Attorney General Abbott enforces state's Right-to-Work Law in El Paso case - Texas workers have the right to not join a union and to refuse to pay union dues

Comptroller Susan Combs urges Texas schools to participate in Texas Fitness Now program

Funds Available — $20 Million — to Help Kids Get Fit

From the Office of Comptroller Susan Combs

August 8, 2007

Government - Comptroller Susan Combs picture AUSTIN–In the continued fight against childhood obesity, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs July 24 offered the state’s public schools and charter schools an opportunity to receive $20 million in grants during the next two years to support in-school physical education, nutrition and fitness programs for students in grades 6, 7 and/or 8.

Combs announced the new Texas Fitness Now grant program, aimed at middle school students attending schools where enrollment is at least 75 percent economically disadvantaged.

“Texas Fitness Now will provide crisis money for our schools,” Combs said. “Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among children is an epidemic that we, as a state, must address now. Obesity cost Texas businesses an estimated $3.3 billion in 2005 and could cost employers $15.8 billion annually by 2025 if the trend continues.”

Approximately 700 schools qualify for Texas Fitness Now grants. The minimum grant is $1,500, and schools can get more, based upon their enrollment. More than 270,000 students could benefit from the grants.

“The U.S. Surgeon General’s office reports that overweight children have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults,” Combs said. “Texas Fitness Now will help teach kids the importance of physical activity and fitness and lay the foundation for a life of healthy choices and lifestyles as they grow into adulthood.”

Combs secured funding for the grants in the 2008-09 state budget (General Appropriations Act, Article III, Rider 89) and developed the rules for the Texas Fitness Now program in conjunction with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and other interested stakeholders. TEA will administer the program, evaluate grant applications and award the funds to schools.

Acting Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said, “I appreciate the leadership Comptroller Combs has shown on improving the lives of Texas children. The Texas Education Agency is ready to work with her to improve the health and fitness of our students.”

To be eligible for a Texas Fitness Now grant, a school must ensure that students in grades 6, 7 and/or 8 participate in physical activity for either 30 minutes a day or 225 minutes per two-week period for the entire school year and must have a physical education curriculum that meets the standards of the National Association of Sports and Physical Education.

In addition, the school must:

  • Have or be in the process of adopting a Coordinated School Health Program required by the Texas Education Code;

    Have a quality physical education program based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that combines education, fitness and nutrition;
  • Have submitted a wellness and nutrition policy to the Texas Department of Agriculture as required by law;

  • Have established a School Health Advisory Council to review and make recommendations for using the grant;


    Have certified physical education teacher(s); and

  • Conduct a campus fitness evaluation before Oct. 15 and again at the end of the school year, using an assessment instrument adopted by the state education commissioner and provided free-of-charge to participating schools.

The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) says Texas Fitness Now grants could help participating schools become models for fitness education throughout the state.

"This program rewards innovative thinking in the fight against childhood obesity,” said Julie Shields, TASB’s Assistant Director of Governmental Relations. “It motivates districts to get creative in their physical education classes, but at the same time, it also recognizes that to develop these programs for Texas students costs money. Hopefully, all Texas students will benefit from lessons learned at those schools thinking outside of the box and getting results."

Texas Fitness Now grants may be used to support and enhance physical education, including buying PE equipment; buying equipment to track students’ progress, such as heart monitors and pedometers; selecting or developing an effective physical education curriculum and instructional materials; and training teachers and school administrators to help their students become fit and adopt healthy lifestyles. Schools must use at least 25 percent of the funds for nutrition education.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples particularly applauds the program’s nutrition component. The Texas Department of Agriculture oversees the state’s school nutrition policy.

“A well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise are vital for the health and well-being of all Texans – especially our young Texans,” Staples said. “Texas farmers and ranchers are natural partners in producing and providing healthy, nutritious food for children and will be strong allies in all school fitness efforts. I applaud the Legislature and Comptroller Combs for their foresight on this program.”

The Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) commends the Texas Fitness Now program.

“There are two major challenges for our professionals to deliver a quality physical education program in Texas schools; one is funding, and the other is the large teacher to student ratio,” said TAHPERD Executive Director Diana Everett. “This grant program will enable many of our teachers and administrators to address at least one of our challenges. Through the Texas Fitness Now grant program, professional physical educators can seek the equipment and resources to teach lifetime habits of physical activity and fitness to their students.”

“We believe we will see measurable, positive results from incorporating more activity into the school day and teaching students to make healthier choices,” Combs said. “We urge all eligible schools to take advantage of this opportunity to start solving the childhood obesity problem.”

Grant Application info
  • The deadline for schools to apply for a Texas Fitness Now grant is Oct. 1.

  • More information, including program guidelines and a list of frequently asked questions, is available online at the Comptroller's Web site: www.window.state.tx.us .

  • The actual grant application is available on TEA's Web site at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/opge/formfund/pe/tfn/proguide.doc .

  • Schools may also contact Marissa Rathbone at TEA, (512) 463-3064, for more information about the Texas Fitness Now program, or

  • TEA's Division of Formula Funding, (512) 463-8525, for more information about grant funding.

Government - Comptroller Susan Combs urges Texas schools to participate in Texas Fitness Now program

League City News - Interfaith Christian Ministries Picture

Interfaith Caring Ministries distributes over 700 school supplies to children within Clear Creek Independent School District

Donors sought to help with this project

By Interfaith Caring Ministries

August 8, 2007

Interfaith Caring Ministries will distribute over 700 prepackaged school supplies to school aged children who will be attending schools within CCISD.

This program is designed to help low income families who live in our community. ICM believes every child deserves to start school with new school supplies. Many local companies, churches and individuals donate money or school supplies each year to make this event successful.

To qualify for this program, the parent must be low income and able to provide all documentation required. Starting July 9, 2007 school supplies will be given out Monday through Friday from 1:00pm until 4:00pm until supplies are exhausted. For additional information, please call ICM at 281-332-3881.

ICM purchases school supplies in bulk which are prepackaged by grade level. We are asking you to please make a monetary donation of $25.00. This amount would offset the cost of one child receiving school supplies. Donations should be sent to ICM, 631 FM 270, League City, TX, 77573 or can be charged by phone. For more information, please contact Suzy Domingo (281) 332-3881.

Religion - Interfaith Caring Ministries distributes over 700 school supplies to children within the Clear Creek Independent School District

Religion - Concerning Marriage

Gardening - Prepare Your Own Fresh-cut Flower Arrangements






Older News: August 1, 2007


Comptroller Susan Combs announces changes in August 2007 Sales Tax Holiday

Also, new energy savings tax-holiday coming next year

From the Office of Comptroller Susan Combs

August 1, 2007

Government - Comptroller Susan Combs picture AUSTIN–Comptroller Susan Combs announced that the date for the annual sales tax holiday has changed from the first weekend of August to the third weekend of August. Combs also said backpacks, a standard item on many kids’ school supply lists, can now be purchased tax free during the sales tax holiday.

“From now on, the sales tax holiday will occur on the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of August,” Combs said. “This year, the date is Aug. 17-19.”

Since many school districts are now starting their school year later, the 80th Legislature changed the date of the sales tax holiday to move it closer to the first day of school.

During the sales tax holiday, children’s and adults’ clothing and shoes priced less than $100 — and now backpacks that cost less than $100 — are exempt from state and local sales taxes.

“The Legislature responded to parents’ requests to add backpacks to the list of tax-exempt items,” Combs said. “Backpacks can be expensive, especially for parents who have to buy them for several children. A tax break helps.”

Combs also announced that, starting in May 2008, energy-efficient appliances will be exempt from sales tax during the three-day Memorial Day weekend. Certain appliances with a federal Energy Star rating will be tax-free, including washing machines, dishwashers, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats and incandescent fluorescent light bulbs. Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less and refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less can also be purchased tax free.

“Texas consumers will save about $8 for every $100 they spend on qualifying appliances,” Combs said. “Even more importantly, they will reap savings on their utility bills by purchasing energy-efficient appliances, and the demand for electricity will be reduced.”

The Comptroller predicts families will save about $52.1 million in sales taxes during the August sales tax holiday.

More information about the August sales tax holiday for clothing and shoes can be found on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us .

Government - Comptroller Susan Combs announces changes in August 2007 Sales Tax Holiday

UH-Clear Lake receives $2.5 million in funding to address critical need

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

August 1, 2007

University of Houston Clear Lake’s School of Education, recipient of two grants totaling $2.5 million, will team with school districts in four counties to embark on a comprehensive, five-year plan to address a growing concern in area schools — the shortage of teachers and bilingual counselors trained to work with students who lack English language skills.

“These grants provide our School of Education the opportunity to make a significant impact on one of the most daunting challenges facing education today - meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students,” School of Education Dean Dennis Spuck said.

Seeking a wide-ranging approach to bridge the growing gap between English-speaking students and English language learners, the U.S. Department of Education through its National Professional Development Program awarded $1,255,824 to UH-Clear Lake ’s Collaborative Teaching of English Language Learners (CTELL) program, and $1,325,762 to its Collaborative Bilingual Counselors Training Project III (CBCT-3). Both grants are funded for five years.

“There was a 49.5 percent growth in the enrollment of English language learners in Texas schools between 1994 and 2004, yet only 5 percent of teachers in our local school districts have received training to work effectively with these students,” CTELL Co-Director Judith Marquez said. “We realized that all classroom teachers need the training — not just a few.”

“CTELL starts with our university faculty,”CTELL Co-Director Laurie Weaver explained. “We’ll provide workshops for 60 professors to become knowledgeable in the methods and skills required to work with these students. The faculty, in turn, will incorporate that training into the courses they teach. We’ll reach as many as 250 new teachers each year — over a thousand by the project’s end.”

In addition to the university faculty, 100 classroom teachers will be recruited to receive the training. It is estimated that using this approach can directly impact more than 12,000 students during the five-year period.

An equally pressing concern among educators is the significantly high dropout rate among urban Hispanic students — as high as 47 percent. These statistics are accompanied by high unemployment rates, growing teen pregnancy rates, and a significant number of children identified as economically disadvantaged.

The major focus of the CBCT-3 program is to prepare and place 30 qualified bilingual school counselors in area schools to expressly address the needs of Hispanic English language learners and their families. In addition, CBCT-3 will train four bilingual school counselors at the doctoral level to become program supervisors, university instructors and field evaluators in order to effectively implement counseling programs for English language learners.

“We need more bilingual counselors so students and their parents can feel comfortable with someone to talk to in their native language,” Director of CBCT-3 Cheryl Sawyer explains.

“Counselors support English language learners by providing opportunities for children to learn the value of education as well as ways to cope with the influence of negativity, poverty, drugs, gangs and abusive situations. They help parents understand the resources available to help English language learners succeed in the school setting, access options available for financial support for vocational and higher education, and learn to access social services that can accommodate the mental health needs of a family.”

UH-Clear Lake is teamed with schools in Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris counties to implement these grants. CTELL is partnered with Alvin, Clear Creek, Deer Park, Pasadena and Texas City Independent School Districts , while CBCT-3 is teamed with Angleton, Brazosport, Columbia-Brazoria, Danbury, Dickinson, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hitchcock, La Marque, Pearland and Santa Fe Independent School Districts.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake receives $2.5 million in funding to address critical need

Attorney General Abbott, Department of Aging and Disability Services protect residents in Collin County Nursing Homes

Investigators uncover squalid condition endangering more than 40 residents

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

August 1, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN–Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) have taken emergency action to protect more than 40 seniors living in squalid conditions at the Amberwood Care Center, an assisted living facility in Collin County.

At the Attorney General's request, Travis County State District Court Judge Stephen Yelenosky issued a court order allowing the state to temporarily oversee operations at the nursing home in Celina. Emergency enforcement assistance was sought after a recent DADS inspection uncovered a complete breakdown at Amberwood's Celina facility.

The nursing home is charged with grossly inadequate medical care and unsanitary conditions that pose a risk to the health of its 42 residents. Many of those living at the facility were bedridden and are dependent on ventilators for their breathing.

"Texans will not tolerate those who abuse and neglect our senior citizens," said Attorney General Abbott. "These horrific conditions posed a severe threat to the health and safety of patients who deserve far better. The Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Aging and Disability Services are committed to protecting seniors and aggressively prosecuting those who neglect them."

The agreed temporary restraining order names David Crowson as temporary trustee to immediately assume responsibility for the needs of Amberwood patients. DADS issued $200,000 in emergency funds for much-needed supplies and nursing staff at the nursing home. Facility owner James W. Jewel is prevented from interfering with the trustee's management of Amberwood and with the state's ongoing investigation.

In their reports, DADS inspectors documented the facility's inadequate resources and staffing, often leading to residents' lives being placed at risk. Among their findings, DADS investigators documented the following:

  • Patients suffering from bed ulcers, infections and chronic pain. Several languished in various stages of dehydration.
  • Many residents told investigators that they were not being properly cared for, including an elderly woman who said she had to endure days of pain before a urinary tract infection was treated with antibiotics.
  • Investigators reported unsanitary conditions throughout the facility. One DADS report described a patient's tracheotomy tube as being "coated with crust." The same patient had a catheter inserted into his arm which was several days old, putting him at risk of serious blood infection.
  • Machines used to test blood sugar levels of diabetic patients were improperly calibrated.
  • Ventilators that provided critical breathing assistance were set at dangerously high oxygen flow pressures.
  • The facility had only 30 bedsheets for 42 residents.

DADS's investigation of the facility is ongoing. The trustee, his staff of nurses and state nurses are currently attending to the immediate needs of the residents and securing their transfer to other licensed facilities.

Government - Attorney General Abbott, Department of Aging and Disability Services protect residents in Collin County Nursing Homes

Gov. Perry announces a $2 Million Emerging Tech Fund Award

The money will be used for the continued development of software modules to assist first responders in continuous real time protection of the border and emergency preparedness and responses in disaster situations

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

August 1, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry announced a $2 million award to SecureOrigins Inc. of El Paso to help bring its emerging technology to market. The grant is awarded through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF), a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the governor’s request and re-authorized this year.

“Technological innovation is the lifeblood of today’s economy. Through these grants, we are investing in potentially life-saving technologies and elevating our state’s emerging technology sector to make Texas a strong competitor in the global marketplace,” Perry said. “Continued investment in emerging technology creates more jobs and generates substantial capital investments, diversifying and enriching our economy.”

SecureOrigins Inc. of El Paso is receiving $2 million for further development of its Intelligent Software Agents (ISA). ISA are software modules that automate specific tasks, provide round-the-clock decision support and collaborate with each other without human intervention to determine best response action.

ISA will be used for such functions as:

  • Assisting first responders in continuous real time protection of the border, and emergency preparedness and response involving high volumes of information and fast changing variables. For example, in a disaster situation, the ISA will synthesize complex information from a myriad of sensors and sources to provide simplified options for decision making by first responders.
  • Assisting cross-border industry in real time visibility of their end-to-end supply chain logistics. For example, sensor devices compatible with ISA would be placed on a delivery truck, moving goods from one country to another to ensure compliance with authorized routes and timing benchmarks. The ISA could detect any interruption of travel or tampering with the vehicle, which would then alert the appropriate authorities of the unexpected activity.
  • A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts reviews potential TETF projects and recommends funding for projects to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House.

The 2008-2009 state budget recently passed by the legislature and signed by the governor includes $75 million in new general revenue for the TETF. In addition to previous TETF balances and interest, more than $165 million will be available for the 2008-09 biennium.

To date, the TETF has allocated $89.1 million in grant funds to Texas companies and universities.

The TETF program has three main areas of investment:

  • Increasing research collaboration between public and private sector entities through new Regional Centers of Innovation and Commercialization where the seeds of an idea can take root in a university lab and eventually grow into a new product marketed by a new or expanding firm;
  • Matching research grants provided by both federal and private sponsors to help innovators acquire the capital they need to bring their idea to life; and
  • Attracting more top-notch research teams from other universities around the nation that will help put Texas universities on the cutting edge of technology research and development.

For more information on the TETF, visit www.emergingtechfund.com .

Government - Gov. Perry announces a $2 Million Emerging Tech Fund Award

Cornyn successful in securing critical border security funding

Senate Democrats reverse objection and agree to cornyn provision to enforce immigration laws

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

August 1, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—In an overwhelming vote, the U.S. Senate July 25 passed an amendment offered by Senate Republicans to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill which would provide $3 billion in emergency funding for border security. Importantly, the amendment also includes a provision drafted by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to allow this money to be used for enforcing America ’s immigration laws, including electronic employment verification improvements and the increased removal and detention of visa overstays.

Sen. Cornyn, the top Republican on the Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee, said, “Addressing the problem of illegal immigration shouldn’t stop at our borders. We need to restore the confidence of the American people that the federal government is committed to enforcing our immigration laws. This funding will not only put more boots on the ground at our borders but it will also provide additional resources for law enforcement to remove dangerous felons who are here illegally. This is an important, bipartisan step forward to strengthening America ’s security. I’m pleased my colleagues in both parties agreed to this important amendment.”

The amendment would provide emergency funding of $3 billion for:

  • Hiring 500 more Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers per year (FY08-12), 1200 more Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents per year, 200 investigators to combat aliens smuggling, 50 Deputy U.S. Marshals;
  • 23,000 Border Patrol agents hired, trained, and reporting for duty;
  • 4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles & 105 ground-based radar and camera towers;
  • A permanent end to the “catch-and-release” policy with 45,000 detention beds;
  • Operational control over 100% of the U.S.-Mexico land border;
  • To allow DHS to present a photo electronically to an employer so that the employer may confirm the identity of the individual when he presents ID;
  • To require mandatory detention of aliens who overstay their visa by 60 days;
  • To reimburse local governments that choose to cooperate with ICE in enforcing the immigration laws (INA 287g).

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn successful in securing critical border security funding

Rep. Lampson and Mayor White announce $20.5 million Hobby Airport grant

Funds included for safety measures and equipment

From the Office of Congressman Nick Lampson

August 1, 2007

Government - Houston Mayor Bill White pictureWASHINGTON—Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX) and Houston Mayor Bill White jointly announced July 26 a $20,540,181 U.S. Department of Transportation grant for William P. Hobby Airport. These funds will have multiple applications, including acquisition of new land for approaches, funding for safety measures and equipment, the reconstruction of a deteriorated runway, reimbursement costs for taxiway lighting, and conducting an environmental study to address capacity issues at the airport.

Government - Rep. Lampson and Mayor White announce $20.5 million Hobby Airport grant

Religion - Reaching 101%

Gardening - Plumeria ImageGardening - Gardener's Calendar for August






Older News: July 26, 2007


Higher Ed - Elementary Teacher of the Year Brittnie Coveney picture

 

 

 

 

 

University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Education graduate, Brittnie Coveney, was named Texas Directors of Field Experiences’ Student Teacher of the Year for Texas Elementary Schools. She completed her pre-service internship at Whitcomb Elementary School in Clear Lake and will teach at Falcon Pass Elementary in the fall.

UH-Clear Lake alumna honored

The Texas Directors of Field Experience selected the Elementary Student Teacher of the Year

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

July 26, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Education alumna Brittnie Coveney was named the Texas Elementary School Student Teacher of the Year by the Texas Directors of Field Experience, an organization of professionals who coordinate and supervise the placement of student-teacher interns in school classrooms in final preparation for the teaching profession.

“ I encourage the kids to figure things out for themselves,” Coveney said of her teaching style. “My goal is to make it a game or make it fun – where they don’t realize they are accomplishing something I want them to accomplish.”

Coveney, who holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lamar University, earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from UH-Clear Lake in 2006. She performed her pre-service internship at Whitcomb Elementary School in the Clear Creek Independent School District during the 2006-07 school year, ending in May. She has recently been hired by Falcon Pass Elementary in the Clear Creek Independent School District to teach kindergarten in the fall.

The TDFE honor was awarded based on demonstrated skill in planning and presenting a lesson from start to finish. Student teachers from across the state were considered, and an award was given in both the elementary and middle school category. Judges viewed a video-taped classroom lesson to assess the candidate’s skill in engaging the students in the learning process, rousing both enthusiasm and excitement. Coveney’s session featured a second-grade science lesson identifying and understanding the parts of an egg.

“We saw smiles, laughter and learning going on at the same time,” said Harriet Sturgeon, director of the UH-Clear Lake Center for Professional Development, who was also a member of the TDFE award panel.

The award comes as no surprise to Clear Creek Independent School District Supervisor, Deani Quick, Coveney’s district supervisor at Whitcomb.
“ Her lessons always incorporate lots of hands-on, interactive activities that keep her students engaged and excited about learning,” says Quick.

Coveney will be recognized at the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Education’s Fall Teacher Education Conference in El Paso, Texas in October. The award also includes an honorarium.

For more information about UH-Clear Lake’s School of Education, visit http://soe.uhcl.edu or call 281-283-3612.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake alumna honored

Texas Attorney General charges Mannatech with unlawful, misleading sales practices

Illegal scheme markets supplements as cure for cancer, improved health

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

July 26, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureDALLAS–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott July 5 charged Coppell-based Mannatech, Inc., its owner, Samuel L. Caster, and several related entities with operating an illegal marketing scheme in violation of state law. Today's enforcement action stems from a large-scale investigation by state authorities, who examined Mannatech's dubious claims about the health benefits of its products.

Documents filed in Travis County district court reveal Mannatech's scheme to exploit families, including those challenged by cancer, Down's syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other serious illnesses. According to investigators, exaggerated claims about the therapeutic benefits of Mannatech's dietary supplements and nutritional products were unlawfully used to increase sales. The attorney general's enforcement action asserts that Mannatech's deceptive practices pose a health risk to seriously-ill consumers who may forgo traditional medical attention because of the company's false claims.

"Texans will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting," Attorney General Abbott said. "Aided by an army of multi-level sellers and their fictitious claims about its products, Mannatech has aggressively marketed supplements to countless unwitting purchasers. With today's enforcement action, the Office of the Attorney General seeks to shut down an elaborate scheme to defraud innocent consumers across the nation."

Mannatech, a self-described "global wellness solutions provider," claims scientific validation from the field of glycoscience, which is the legitimate study of sugars, their structure and how they function. Through its multi-level marketing network, Mannatech claims that its proprietary products' main ingredients, glyconutrients, enhance the body's cell-to-cell communication and improve overall health.

Today's lawsuit charges Mannatech with encouraging their salespersons' false statements by allowing sellers to continue utilizing various sales tools, brochures, videotapes and personalized Web sites that exaggerate the supplements' effectiveness. According to investigators, the defendants encourage product user "testimonials" that tout their supplements' alleged healing effects. These exaggerated testimonials, along with misleading "before and after" photos, are displayed prominently in seminar booths, brochures, videos, sales associates' personal Web sites and training materials. Together, these marketing techniques mislead consumers into believing that the supplements dramatically cure or treat serious illnesses.

In fact, the company's health claims are not supported by legitimate scientific studies, nor are its products approved as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The defendants are accused of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which can result in civil penalties of $20,000 per violation. In addition to DTPA violations, the attorney general, along with the Texas Department of State Health Services, also charges Mannatech with violating the Texas Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Under the Act, the defendants face penalties of up to $25,000 per day, per violation.

Mannatech Inc. sells its nutritional supplements in 10 countries, including the U.S., through more than 500,000 independent sales distributors worldwide. It is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol, "MTEX."

Consumers who encounter a business that is making false claims may file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 252-8011 or online at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Texas Attorney General charges Mannatech with unlawful, misleading sales practices

Texas Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Unit helps parents keep kids safe

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

July 26, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

Points to remember: Internet Safety

For TEENS —

Never post revealing information online, including personal photos, addresses, telephone numbers or school information, which would enable a stranger to locate you.

Report unwanted solicitations, harassment or bullying to a parent or trusted adult.

Do not trust a stranger you meet online. Remember, a person who says they're a 14-year-old girl from another state may really be a 55-year-old man from your hometown.

For PARENTS —

Educate yourself and encourage open discussions about online safety. • Keep the computer in a common room of the house and limit the use of Web cameras.

Establish rules restricting children from displaying personal information, including their name, address, phone number and pictures online.

Get involved. Keep passwords handy and regularly monitor your child's account.

To report online child pornography or unwanted sexual solicitations, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 or online at www.cybertipline.com.

For more information on Attorney General Abbott's ongoing efforts to fight online sex predators, visit the agency's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

AUSTIN – Texas' greatest resource is its children. From toddlers to teenagers, young Texans are truly the future of our great state. As concerned citizens, we must do everything in our power to protect children from sex predators. While law enforcement agencies across the state work together to arrest and prosecute criminals who prey on kids, parents and guardians must teach their children not to trust individuals they meet online.

Since 2003, the Office of the Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Unit has aggressively cracked down on sex predators who use the Internet to sexually solicit children. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators work undercover, posing as underage teenagers in Internet chat rooms and social networking Web sites. These highly skilled officers have one goal: to catch would-be sex predators before they harm a child. Within minutes of going online, undercover officers are sexually solicited by prowling adults seeking young children.

In less than four years, the Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested more than 90 predators that used the Internet to arrange a meeting where they planned to sexually assault a child. Another 63 offenders have been convicted for posting or trading online child pornography.

Many of these sex predators lurk on Web sites that are prominently used by children and teenagers. During a two-week operation in June, our law enforcement officers investigated and arrested several previously convicted sex offenders who had activated online profiles on the wildly popular social networking site, MySpace.com.

While our Cyber Crimes Unit will continue cracking down on online sex offenders, parents and guardians must help us keep their children safe.

The most important safety tip is simple: parents must be involved with their child's Internet habits. Parents should educate themselves about cyber safety and speak openly with family members about online activities. Children and teens are more likely to come to an adult that they feel is calm and comfortable discussing the subject matter. Parents can contact the Office of the Attorney General for a copy of our Cyber Safety Brochure, which offers valuable information on chat room "lingo" and provides online security tips for both children and adults.

Parents with teens who visit social networking sites should be especially cautious. Our investigators encourage parents to have the passwords necessary to regularly monitor their child's account. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, teenagers are more likely than younger children to get into trouble online. Teens are more likely to explore and reach out to strangers. Sadly, sex predators often exploit the anxiety and confusion that comes with adolescence.

Parents should keep the computer in a common room and limit the use of Web cameras. Digital images are easily captured online and are difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve once they are circulated on the Internet.

Teens and children who are approached by a stranger online should immediately inform a parent, guardian or any other trusted adult. They must not reveal personal information, including photos, video, last names or telephone numbers to strangers. Teens should never, under any circumstance, arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online.

We must speak openly with our children about making good decisions in life, including safely using the Internet to interact with others. We thank all parents and guardians for their commitment to the safety of their children and the future of Texas.

Government - Texas Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Unit helps parents keep kids safe

Gov. Perry awards almost $300 thousand to the Texas State University terrorism response program

Monies awarded for training law enforcement officers throughout the state

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

July 26, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry July 16 awarded $299,508 to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program at Texas State University. The ALERRT program is designed to train law enforcement officers throughout the state on responding to terrorist situations.

The grant will enable coordination between Texas State University and the Texas School Safety Center in efforts to promote school safety and respond to school violence. Funds are awarded under the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Fund, and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

“Giving our students the opportunity to learn and grow in a protected environment is essential to helping Texas youth achieve their potential,” Perry said. “By training local and campus law enforcement, the ALERRT program will better secure Texas schools and allow students to focus on their daily academic tasks.”

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act supports programs dedicated to preventing and reducing violence in schools and communities as well as developing a drug-free environment for youth. These programs foster healthy and safe learning environments that support academic achievement, including alternative education programs and intervention services for children with behavior or substance abuse problems. Funds also support counseling services for children who are victims of family violence or child abuse.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

Government - Gov. Perry awards $299,508 to the Texas State University terrorism response program

Cornyn announces $182.4 million in homeland security funding for Texas

“This funding is critical to ensuring our first responders, or hometown security, have what they need to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Cornyn said.

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

July 26, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced July 18 that Texas will receive a total of $182.4 million in grant funding for homeland security and emergency preparedness needs from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce.

The state will receive $65 million to bolster first responder communication through the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Program, and a combined $58.9 million through the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP). In addition, several Texas metropolitan areas will directly receive a total of $58.5 million through the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

“This funding is critical to ensuring our first responders, or hometown security, have what they need to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We must continue working together on a local, state and federal level to best equip and support those on the front lines of our security.”

Sen. Cornyn added, “Enhancing interoperable communications has consistently been one of the top priorities identified by first responders in the wake of September 11. Communication between first responder agencies and emergency management teams is essential to effective and rapid disaster response and preparedness for threats facing our state.”

Background:

$65 million -- the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Program (PSIC). These grants will help state and local first responders improve public safety communications and coordination during a natural or man-made disaster. The PSIC grant program will assist public safety agencies in the acquisition, deployment and training of interoperable communications systems to enhance the ability of first responders to communicate via voice, data and/or video signals.

$58.9 million -- the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP). SHSP grants will help in the implementation of the State Homeland Security Strategy to address the identified planning, equipment, training and exercise needs for acts of terrorism. LETPP focuses on the prevention of terrorist attacks and provides law enforcement and public safety communities with funds to support intelligence gathering and information sharing; hardening high-value targets; continuing to build interoperable communications; and collaborating with non-law enforcement partners, other government agencies and the private sector.

$58.5 million -- the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). These grants address the unique planning, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high threat, high density urban areas. Funds are provided directly to these metropolitan areas to assist them in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.

Specific allocations for UASI grants are:

--Houston Metropolitan Area: $25 million (a 50 percent increase from last year)

--Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolitan Area: $21 million (a 51 percent increase from last year)

-- San Antonio Metropolitan Area: $6.7 million (a 51 percent increase from last year)

--El Paso Metropolitan Area: $5.8 million (this is the first time El Paso will receive UASI funding).

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn announces $182.4 million in homeland security funding for Texas

Religion - Formula for growth

Gardening - Mushroom ImageGardening - Prolonged rainfall leads to invasion of the mushrooms





Older News: July 19


Texas Attorney General, SEC file market manipulation and stock fraud charges against two Harris County residents

Illegal "botnets"used to cheat investors out of more than $4.6 million

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

July 19, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureHOUSTON–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Special Investigations Unit charged two Texas residents with devising an illegal high-tech scheme to defraud investors out of more than $4.6 million. Both suspects, who were indicted July 3 by a Harris County grand jury, are the subjects of an ongoing investigation by several states and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In addition to the state's charges, the suspects face securities fraud charges, which were filed July 9 by the SEC.

Darrel Uselton, 40, of Katy, and his uncle, Jack Uselton, 69, of Houston, face organized criminal activity and money laundering charges. According to state and federal investigators, the Useltons reaped millions in illegal profits by promoting shares from at least 13 penny stock companies. The suspects then secretly sold those stocks into an artificially active market they created with manipulative trading schemes, spam e-mail campaigns, direct mailers, and Internet-based promotional activities.

The case is being prosecuted by the Texas Attorney General's Office (OAG) and the Office of Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal with investigative assistance from the New York Attorney General's Office. OAG investigators have seized more than $4.2 million from bank accounts associated with the defendants. Darrel Uselton was arrested by OAG investigators and is currently being held in Harris County Jail in lieu of $8 million bond. An arrest warrant has been issued for Jack Uselton.

"Investors will not tolerate scam artists who use the Internet to illegally manipulate stock prices," Attorney General Abbott said. "Together with several states and the SEC, we have uncovered an elaborate scheme to defraud unwitting investors. The Office of the Attorney General will aggressively prosecute market manipulators, spammers and con artists whose illegal schemes defraud unsuspecting citizens."

SEC Chairman Christopher Cox added: "This latest step in the Commission's anti-spam initiative is intended to protect investors from fraud artists who would treat the investing public as their personal ATM machines. The use of bots to spread investment spam at exponentially higher rates is making this type of fraud an even more virulent threat to ordinary investors. Not only are victims getting hit with get-rich-quick spam, but by turning the victims' computers into zombies, these fraudsters are sending out still more spam to others. Given estimates that up to one quarter of all personal computers connected to the Internet are part of a botnet, and the thriving market in selling lists of compromised computers to hackers and spammers, the SEC is taking this very seriously. We remain aggressively committed to tracking down anyone attempting to use bots to prey on investors with false or misleading spam about securities."

The Commission's complaint, which it filed with the U.S. District Court in Houston, charges the Useltons with orchestrating a series of spam e-mail campaigns. The scheme, which relied on an array of computer "botnets," touted near-worthless penny stocks in millions of spam e-mails sent to potential investors. Those unsolicited electronic messages included baseless price projections and other unfounded claims. Each campaign, which featured a single company, lasted anywhere from several days to several weeks.

According to the SEC's complaint, the Useltons earned more than $4.6 million from their fraudulent scheme between May 2005 and December 2006. The SEC's complaint indicates the Useltons and companies they controlled received unrestricted penny stock shares despite little or no investment. Those shares were allegedly provided in return for their purported financing or promotional activities.

Darrel Uselton was disciplined by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) in 2004 and 2005. In a 2002 action that has since settled, the SEC permanently enjoined Jack Uselton from violating anti-fraud regulations.

Government - Texas Attorney General, SEC file market manipulation and stock fraud charges against two Harris County residents

Gov. Perry rolls Out Texas' bioenergy strategy

Focus on advanced technology will lead to sustainability and global solutions for growing energy needs

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

July 19, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Governor Rick Perry July 9 joined bioeconomy leaders to roll out Texas’ Bioenergy Strategy, highlighting the state’s achievements in creating a balanced energy portfolio through developments in bioenergy and other energy resources. The governor also awarded a $5 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund grant to Texas A&M University for research and biofuel advancements.

“As a state that grows by 1,000 new residents each day, Texas must take a more innovative approach to developing new methods and research in the field of energy,” said Perry. “By intersecting three of our state’s largest industries – energy, agriculture and petrochemicals – researchers in Texas have made tremendous progress in developing bioenergy and fuel sources from such things as plant cells, compost and fertilizers.”

In 2004, Gov. Perry spearheaded efforts to build industry clusters comprised of leaders in six industry sectors economists forecasted to be future engines of economic development in the United States. One of the sectors, energy, sparked partnerships between the private sector, academia, and the state and federal government to research bioenergy and fuel opportunities in Texas. Today, scientists have developed unique avenues through use of natural materials to create environmentally clean and efficient energy sources. Today, bioenergy and fuel products are successfully competing with traditional manufacturing processes thanks to their ability to cut costs by using natural products, while promoting a greener and more eco-sensitive business.

During the last year, the bioenergy initiative evolved into a larger project focused on the broad realm of bioproducts. Advancements in such fields as biomaterials, biochemicals and biopharmaceuticals have ignited the creation of a bioeconomy in Texas.

“In a place like Texas that not only houses unique terrains and ecosystems unlike any other the world, but also has access to ports, international borders, and other venues for trade, we have a distinct opportunity to further develop and leverage more of our state’s resources to develop a variety of bioproducts,” said Perry.

At the event, Gov. Perry awarded a $5 million Texas Emerging Technology grant to Texas A&M University to help recruit commercially-focused faculty to market innovative research for the next generation of biofuels. Texas A&M and Chevron are also partnering on research efforts to achieve accelerated harvesting of non-food crops for conversion into biofuel products.

The governor recognized the newly formed Texas Bioproducts Industry Council, which will work closely with the private and public sector to strategize the future of bioproducts in Texas. Ongoing research has the potential to promote Texas to a self-sufficient post for energy and fuel, while introducing global solutions to growing energy needs.

Government - Gov. Perry rolls Out Texas' bioenergy strategy

Cornyn: U.S. Senate confirms proven leader Pete Geren as army secretary

Texan unanimously confirmed July 13 by the Senate to serve as Secretary of Army

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

July 19, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement July 13 regarding unanimous Senate confirmation of Preston M. “Pete” Geren, of Fort Worth , to be Secretary of the Army:

“Pete Geren is uniquely qualified to serve as Secretary of the Army. He brings proven leadership to the position. Pete has played a critical role in working to improve the quality of support to our wounded service members and their families after the recent events at Walter Reed. His strong leadership at a difficult time for the Army and the nation was critical to ensuring that our military and their families receive only the best care and support for their service and sacrifice for the country. I’m confident as Secretary he will continue playing a key role in the efforts to improve the care and support members of the U.S. military need and deserve. With his experience and commitment, Pete Geren is the right leader to take charge of an organization whose men and women continue to make such tremendous sacrifices for our nation.”

Sen. Cornyn, along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, introduced Geren at his committee confirmation hearing on June 19.

Geren, a former U.S. Representative, was nominated by President Bush to serve as Army Secretary on May 24. Geren began work at the Pentagon in 2001 and served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of the Air Force, then Acting Secretary of the Army. He was in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1997, representing the 12th Congressional district. Geren is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas Law School.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn - U.S. Senate confirms proven leader Pete Geren as army secretary

Religion - Hurray for The failures!

Gardening - Bluebonnets by Margie Jenke ImageGardening - The colorful history of bluebonnets (First published on April 11, 2007)





Older News: July 12


Administrator recognized by association

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

July 12, 2007

HOUSTON— The National Conference of the American College Personnel Association – College Student Educators International recently recognized University of Houston-Clear Lake Associate Vice President for Student Services Darlene Biggers as the 2007 Diamond Honoree.

Biggers, who has served as the associate vice president for Student Services since 1994, was selected as an honoree because of sustained contributions to higher education and to the student affairs profession through leadership at the local, state, regional and national levels.

The association’s Standing Committee for Women also honored Biggers with its Outstanding Service Toward the Development of Women for her commitment to the professional and personal development of women.

In 2000, ACPA recognized Biggers with its Distinguished Service Award. She has been an active member of ACPA for 31 years and has held leadership roles on the Legislative Commission, Administrative Leadership Commission and the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrations.

Higher Education - Administrator recognized by association

League City Elementary Teacher honored as outstanding early childhood educator

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

July 12, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Eileen Hult, a second grade teacher at League City Elementary, was recently presented the acclaimed Marian and Speros Martel Early Childhood Educator Award by the Children’s Museum of Houston. She received $1,000 and a one-year Children’s Museum of Houston membership.

The Martel Award is presented to an outstanding professional in the field of early childhood education. Eileen Hult’s list of credentials is long. She has a M.S. in Early Childhood and is a master reading teacher.

CCISD - League City Elementary Teacher honored as outstanding early childhood educator

Attorney General Abbott Secures Judgment to Shut Down Unlicensed Payday Lender

'Advance Internet' owner John Gill Jr. prohibited from making deceptive loans

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

July 12, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureEL PASO–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott secured a court judgment against Advance Internet, also known as Texas Advance Internet, an unlicensed payday lender. The court judgment prohibits the El Paso-based company from continuing its unlawful predatory lending activities.

According to court documents, Advance Internet's owner, John A. Gill Jr., used the guise of on-premises Internet access and "instant cash" to lure consumers into a payday lending scheme. Advance Internet's customers, many of whom were military families, were essentially tricked into entering into fraudulent high-interest contracts.

"Texans will not tolerate predatory schemes to defraud military families," Attorney General Abbott said. "With this judgment, these defendants are prohibited from continuing their unconscionable scheme. The Office of the Attorney General will continue to aggressively enforce the law."

In 2006, Attorney General Abbott charged the defendants with violating numerous provisions of Texas consumer finance laws, including provisions requiring lenders to obtain proper licenses before making loans. The laws also presume that usurious interest contracts like those written by Advance Internet are null and void.

The company tricked consumers into schemes with interest rates as high as 782 percent for short-term cash advance loans. The result was an unending cycle of debt for Advance Internet customers. Texas Advance Internet maintained offices in El Paso, Coryell, Bell and Bexar counties, all counties with military bases in close proximity.

Gill's Internet "rebate" program was a subterfuge used to hook consumers into debt. Customers who signed up were given an immediate $100 "rebate" that was followed by Advance Internet making monthly withdrawals from consumers' bank accounts. These withdrawals continued until the amount, further burdened by exorbitant interest, was repaid. Consumers who elected to pay off the "rebate" early were told they would be assessed a "termination fee" equal to the original amount of the rebate.

Consumers who believe they have been targeted by a deceptive lender may file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, toll-free, at (800) 252-8011 or access the agency's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us .

Government - Attorney General Abbott Secures Judgment to Shut Down Unlicensed Payday Lender

Gov. Perry signs legislation ordering state divestment in Sudan

Texas refuses to support brutal treatment of the people of Darfur by the Sudanese government

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

July 12, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 247, which directs the state Employees Retirement System (ERS) and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to divest financial holdings in companies doing business in Sudan.

“As one of the richest nations in the world, our country holds both tremendous power and great influence,” said Perry. “The brutal attacks on the people of Darfur are sickening. And what is worse, they are coming from the very body that should be protecting them: the Sudanese government.

“I am proud that lawmakers joined me in demanding resources be pulled from this country of carnage. Texas is setting an example for the rest of the nation – and the world – that these unconscionable acts will not be tolerated or supported.”

The Sudanese government is responsible for mass genocide and other inhumane attacks on their people. June 21, 17 states, including Texas, have adopted divestment policies. SB 247 specifically directs divestment of funds that have a direct relation to the atrocities taking place in Sudan. The Comptroller’s Office will compile and publish a list of prohibited companies and update on a quarterly basis. ERS and TRS will give written notice to companies recognized as actively participating or linked to genocide, and provide a timeline for companies to discontinue business with Sudan.

SB 247 takes effect January 1, 2008.

For more information regarding legislative action taken by Gov. Perry, please visit
http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/bills/.

Government - Gov. Perry signs legislation ordering state divestment in Sudan

Cornyn introduces bill to hold federal agencies, programs accountable

Creates federal sunset commission, based on Texas model, to evaluate how to save taxpayers’ dollars

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

July 12, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—In an effort to establish greater accountability for government programs and agencies, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Budget Committee, has introduced legislation to create a federal “sunset” commission to evaluate all unauthorized, expired federal agencies and programs the government continues to fund. The United States Authorization and Sunset Commission Act of 2007, S. 1731, would require the commission to then make recommendations to Congress. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

“ Most federal programs are authorized by Congress only for a certain number of years, but unfortunately, many accounts are funded year after year because there are small, but vocal, interest groups backing them—and no effective Congressional oversight to determine when ideas have run their course,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation is an important step toward getting our fiscal house in order and making sure Congress gets back to the hard work of oversight to determine if programs actually fulfill their stated purpose or yield some unintended or counterproductive results.”

The legislation is modeled after the sunset process that Texas instituted in 1977 to identify and eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government agencies. This process has led to the elimination of dozens of agencies that have outlived their usefulness and has saved Texas taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Approximately half of the states use a similar process.

“Periodic assessments are essential to good government and this is what the Commission will provide to Congress and to taxpayers across the country. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this important legislation,” Sen. Cornyn added.

The United States Authorization and Sunset Commission Act of 2007 would:

Create an eight member bipartisan Commission, made up of four Senators and four Representatives, that will look at the effectiveness and efficiency of federal programs and agencies.

Establish 10 criteria for the Commission to use in developing its schedule and review proposal and its recommendations to Congress on whether agencies and programs should be abolished, streamlined, consolidated or reauthorized with recommendations for improvements.

Require the Commission to submit a legislative proposal to Congress at least once every 10 years that includes a review schedule of at least 25 percent of unauthorized federal agencies or programs and at least 25 percent of ineffective federal programs or where effectiveness cannot be shown by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Call on the Commission to review each of the federal programs and agencies identified in the Schedule and Review proposal. The Commission will provide its findings and submit a legislative proposal necessary to implement their recommendations to Congress and the President every other year. Congress will have two years to consider and pass the Commission’s recommendations or to reauthorize the program or agency before it is abolished.

– History of Sen. Cornyn’s efforts to protect taxpayers’ dollars and ensure fiscal responsibility –

Permanent Sales Tax Deduction Bill

Sen. Cornyn is an original co-sponsor of the Permanent Sales Tax Deduction bill, S. 180. This deduction levels the playing field for Texans and annually provides $1 billion in tax relief.

Amendment to slow future income tax rate increases

While the Senate was considering the budget for fiscal year 2008, Sen. Cornyn authored an amendment that would create a point of order against raising income taxes by requiring a super-majority of the Senate, or 60 votes, to pass any legislation that increases income tax rates on the American people. He fought to include his bipartisan amendment in the 2008 budget. The Senate passed his amendment by a vote of 63-35, but Democrats stripped it out in the conference on the budget with the House of Representatives—despite unanimous passage of a measure instructing the Senate’s negotiators to include it in the final budget.

Stop Over-Spending Act of 2007

In May, Sen. Cornyn joined several of his colleagues in introducing legislation to control federal spending, reduce the deficit and curb runaway entitlement spending. The Stop Over-Spending (S.O.S.) Act of 2007 would require Congress to reduce the growth of “mandatory,” or entitlement spending, if deficit targets are not met. It would also institute automatic across-the-board reductions in discretionary spending if Congress can’t meet established spending caps. Also included in the comprehensive package is Sen. Cornyn’s 60-vote point of order against legislation that increases income taxes.

Amendment to reform entitlement spending

In March, Sen. Cornyn introduced an amendment that would reform runaway entitlement spending and save taxpayers $34 billion over the next five years by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government programs.

Fair Tax Act

Sen. Cornyn supports the Fair Tax Act, which would replace income, capital gains, payroll, estate, gift, corporate and self-employment taxes with a national retail sales tax. The IRS would also be significantly downsized and reformed.

--Additional information--

Questions and Answers on the Authorization and Sunset Commission Act:

http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/index.asp?f=page&pid=338 .

Sen. Cornyn’s statement for the Senate Record on the Authorization and Sunset Commission Act:

http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/index.asp?f=record&rid=237510

Sen. Cornyn Column: Let Some Government Programs Ride into Sunset

http://cornyn.senate.gov/index.asp?f=page&pid=324&lid=1 .

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn introduces bill to hold federal agencies, programs accountable

Gardening - Garden checklist for July

“Bonsai for Beginners” Seminar

DATE: Saturday, July 14, 2007

TIME: 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

PLACE: Galveston County Extension Office, 5115 Highway 3, Dickinson

EVENTS: Master Gardener Clyde Holt will introduce the novice to the art of bonsai. Topics include plant selections, growing and training bonsai plants and general care of bonsai plants. Demonstrations provided on potting mixes, potting procedure and pruning techniques. Variety of established bonsai plants available for viewing.

No fee, but pre-registration is required (phone 281-534-3413, ext. 1,2 or e-mail GALV3@wt.net) as seating is limited.

More

Gardening - Bonsai, An Ancient Art

Religion - Pondering the Fourth of July


Older News: June 30, 2007


What can be done about the high cost of gasoline?
Part II: Federal Trade Commission — Gas saving tips from the Environmental Protection Association

June 30, 2007

There are numerous no- or low-cost steps you can take to combat rising gas prices. The most important place to start is at the gas pump; buy only the octane level gas you need. All gas pumps must post the octane rating of the gas under the FTC's Fuel Rating Rule. Remember, the higher the octane, the higher the price. Check your owner's manual to determine the right octane level for your car.

Here are some additional tips from the EPA to help you get better gas mileage.

Drive more efficiently

• Stay within posted speed limits. The faster you drive, the more fuel you use. For example, driving at 65 miles per hour (mph), rather than 55 mph, increases fuel consumption by 20 percent. Driving at 75 mph, rather than 65 mph, increases fuel consumption by another 25 percent.

• Use overdrive gears. Overdrive gears improve the fuel economy of your car during highway driving. Your car's engine speed decreases when you use overdrive. This reduces both fuel consumption and engine wear.

• Use cruise control. Using cruise control on highway trips can help you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, reduce your fuel consumption.

• Anticipate driving situations. If you anticipate traffic conditions and don't tailgate, you can avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, and improve your fuel economy by 5 to 10 percent. In city driving, nearly 50 percent of the energy needed to power your car goes to acceleration. Go easy on the gas pedal and brakes. "Jack-rabbit" starts and sudden stops are wasteful.

• Avoid unnecessary idling. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait. No matter how efficient your car is, unnecessary idling wastes fuel, costs you money and pollutes the air.

• Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

• Remove excess weight from the trunk. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by one to two percent.

Maintain your car

• Keep your engine tuned. Studies have shown that a poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 to 20 percent depending on a car's condition. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner's manual; you'll save fuel and your car will run better and last longer.

• Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. Car manufacturers must place a label in the car stating the correct tire pressure. The label usually is on the edge of the door or door jamb, in the glove box, or on the inside of the gas cap cover. If the label lists a psi (pounds per square inch) range, use the higher number to maximize your fuel efficiency. Underinflated tires cause fuel consumption to increase by six percent.

• Change your oil. Clean oil reduces wear caused by friction between moving parts and removes harmful substances from the engine. Change your oil as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

• Check and replace air filters regularly. Your car's air filter keeps impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter improve your fuel economy, it also will protect your engine. Clogged filters can cause up to a 10 percent increase in fuel consumption.

Source — The information above is directly quoted from the following FTC brochure:

FTC brochure - Gas-Saving" Products: Fact or Fuelishness?


Westbrook Intermediate student excels at National Spelling Bee

CCISD - Spelling Bee competitor pictureFrom the Clear Creek Independent School District

June 28, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Brian Ajieren, a 7th grade student at Westbrook Intermediate, took center stage at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The 13-year old, along with 286 other competitors, vied for the coveted title Live on ESPN.

In the end, Brian Ajieren made it through the first round. He received a commemorative watch; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which consists of a $100.00 U.S. Savings bond; Webster’s Third New International Dictionary; a $20 gift certificate from Franklin Electronic Publishers; and an iQuest handheld.

CCISD - Westbrook Intermediate student excels at National Spelling Bee

Higher Ed - Budapest by Sandria Hu  picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake Professor of Fine Arts Sandria Hu will display 37 pieces of her art at the Galveston Arts Center, 2127 Strand, Galveston, June 9 – July 8. “Fragments,” works in oil, mixed media and silk screen, includes “Budapest 5” (45.5 in. x 39 in.), a piece created in late 2006 while Hu served as a visiting artist in Budapest, Hungary.

Area arts center exhibits UH-Clear Lake prof’s work

Some of the artwork was done while Hu was a visiting artist in Europe

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

June 28, 2007

HOUSTON— Galveston Arts Center highlights the work of University of Houston-Clear Lake Professor of Fine Arts Sandria Hu June 9 – July 8. “Fragments” includes works in oil, mixed media and silk screen that includes pieces created by Hu.

“I’ll be exhibiting both old and new work,” explains Hu. “I feel honored that Clint (Willour) has given me this opportunity.”

Among the works are those Hu created at Crater Lake National Park as well as some that she painted internationally while serving as a visiting artist in Slovakia and Hungary . Approximately 10 of the pieces were created in December 2006 and January 2007 while Hu was in Budapest.

“Sandria had a one-person exhibition here at the Galveston Arts Center in 1991, and I felt it was time to exhibit a survey of her most recent work,” explains Galveston Arts Center curator Clint Willour. “I knew that the El Paso Museum of Art was planning an exhibition of her Clay and Ash series, and I wanted to take advantage of that and expand on it with works on paper and her work from Budapest. The result is an exhibition that covers 2001 to 2007 and includes 37 works.”

Hours for the Galveston Arts Center , 2127 Strand, Galveston , are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 pm, Sunday.

Higher Education - Area arts center exhibits UH-Clear Lake prof’s work

Brown County grand jury indicts Texas Youth Commission Officer, inmate for drug possession

Henry Ruben Firth, Jr., Daniel Ochoa, Jr. indicted, arrested for marijuana possession

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

June 28, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureBROWNWOOD–A Texas Youth Commission officer and an inmate were indicted June 7 for possessing drugs at the Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Facility. Juvenile correctional officer Henry Ruben Firth, Jr., 29, and inmate Daniel Ochoa, Jr., 20, each face one count of possessing a prohibited substance in a correctional facility, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

Law enforcement officers with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) arrested Ochoa at the facility and transported him to the Brown County Jail, where bond was set at $10,000. OAG officers arrested Firth in Bedford. He was transferred to Tarrant County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $15,000 bond. Both defendants will be prosecuted by the Brown County District Attorney's Office.

Indicted on June 7 for possessing a
prohibited substance in a correctional facility

Government - Henry Firth picture

Government - Danny Ochoa picture

• Henry Ruben Firth, Jr., 29
• Juvenile correctional officer
• Arrested in Bedford
• Daniel Ochoa, Jr., 20,
• Inmate
• Arrested at the Ron Jackson Juvenile Correctional Facility;

"With these indictments, Texans can rest assured that state and local officials are aggressively pursuing allegations of wrongdoing at Texas Youth Commission facilities across the state," Attorney General Abbott said. "We are grateful to Brown County District Attorney Michael Brandon Murray, TYC Conservator Jay Kimbrough, and the grand jury for their diligent attention to this matter. Together, we will ensure that order and justice will pervade at these facilities."

In March, Texas Youth Commission staff discovered marijuana in Ochoa's possession. According to the indictment, Firth provided the illegal substance to the youth.

The OAG's Special Investigations Unit continues to work with other law enforcement agencies to monitor allegations of wrongdoing at Texas Youth Commission facilities. The OAG's participation in the joint effort stems from a March 2007 executive order, which provided for a collaborative effort with the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice to provide assistance and support. This case was investigated by the OAG as part of that ongoing effort.

Government - Brown County grand jury indicts Texas Youth Commission Officer and inmate for drug possession

Governor and Mrs. Perry to Visit Israel, Jordan

Governor to receive "Friend of Zion Award"

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

June 28, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry June 22 left on a seven-day trip to visit the Middle East nations of Israel and Jordan. In Israel, Gov. Perry will receive the “Friend of Zion Award” from the Global Leadership Council for his leadership in homeland defense, border security and economic development. The award, which is given to “leaders who have played key roles in promoting the close alliance between America and the Jewish state,” will be presented during a ceremony in Jerusalem at the historic Western Wall Square.

Past recipients of this distinguished award include former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Senator Evan Bayh, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator John Kerry, and former Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.

Perry is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former Prime Minister and newly elected President Shimon Peres. In addition, he will meet with the Israeli Chief Scientist, Dr. Eli Opper, and several representatives of the aeronautics, defense systems, homeland security and biotechnology industries.

“America has a special relationship with Israel, and in the midst of turmoil and bloodshed, America must remain an unwavering supporter of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East,” said Gov. Perry. “Though the task is extremely difficult, our nation must be a consistent voice for a new era of peace and security between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

“I believe Texans share a special kinship with the Israeli people,” he added. “We are both independent-minded and self-reliant, and our history is grounded in strong stands against impossible odds.”

The Perrys will visit several historic sites while in Israel, including Mea Shearim, Nachlat Shiva and Ein Karem, the home town of John the Baptist. They will also visit the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and take a tour of Masada. For less than a day they will also cross into Jordan and visit the City of Petra.

They depart this afternoon, June 22, and return on Friday, June 29. All expenses will be paid by Global Capital Associates, which is hosting the gala awards ceremony where Gov. Perry will be recognized.

Government - Governor and Mrs. Perry to Visit Israel, Jordan

Cornyn: Texan Pete Geren uniquely qualified for Army Secretary

‘He’s a proven leader, and the Army needs his depth, his experience and his commitment’

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

June 28, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced Preston M. “Pete” Geren of Fort Worth June 19 at his hearing to be Secretary of the Army.

“Geren played a critical role in working to improve the quality of support to our wounded service members and their families after the recent events at Walter Reed,” Sen. Cornyn said at the hearing. “His strong leadership at a difficult time for the Army and the nation was critical to ensuring that our military and their families receive only the best care and support for their service and sacrifice for the country.”

Geren, a former U.S. Representative, was nominated by President Bush on May 24. He currently serves as Acting Secretary of the Army.

Below are Sen. Cornyn’s remarks as delivered at the hearing:

“I can’t help but remember the statement of Bob Bullock, whose name Pete will recognize, former lieutenant governor, longtime political figure in Texas, who I heard one time say, ‘There are two types of people in public life: there are those who want to be somebody and those who want to do something.’ And Pete’s of the latter variety. He’s somebody who has continued to lead the United States Army and serve so ably in the Department of Defense and has done a superb job serving our nation since he arrived at the Department of Defense in 2001.

“As Sen. Hutchison noted, he is uniquely qualified as a former member of Congress—with four terms in the House and time on the House Armed Services Committee—but if confirmed, this will be Pete’s fourth major position within the Department of Defense. I don’t know too many civilian leaders that have lead two different services as Pete has done as acting Secretary of the Air Force and of the Army.

“It’s good to see his family here with him. One of the things that’s impressed me about Pete’s service with the Department of Defense is his commitment to supporting our service men and women—and particularly, as a former Air Force brat myself, military families.

“Pete, as we all know, played a critical role in working to improve the quality of support to our wounded service members and their families after the recent events at Walter Reed. And his strong leadership at a difficult time for the Army and the nation was critical to ensuring that our military and their families receive only the best care and support for their service and sacrifice for the country.

“Mr. Chairman, this committee has seen over the past six years a strong, committed yet caring and compassionate leader in Pete Geren in his various roles within the Department of Defense. In particular, with the recent events at Walter Reed highlighting the challenges and providing the best health care in transitional services to our wounded warriors, we’ve seen that Pete Geren is a uniquely qualified leader to solve the most complex challenges within the Army.

“And I strongly recommend to the committee that they support this nomination by the President of Pete Geren to serve as Secretary of the Army. He’s a proven leader and the Army needs his depth, his experience and his commitment. I’m proud to support this nomination on behalf of someone who exemplifies the spirit of selfless service to the nation. Thank you very much.”

Geren came to the Pentagon in 2001 and served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of the Air Force and Acting Secretary of the Army. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1997, representing the 12th Congressional district.

Geren is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas Law School.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn - Texan Pete Geren uniquely qualified for Army Secretary

Lampson Hosts Events in Congressional District 22 During First Week of July

Community events include a town hall meeting and 'Congress at Your Corner.'

From the Office of Congressman Nick Lampson

June 28, 2007

STAFFORD—Please join Congressman Nick Lampson during the first week of July at the following community events, including a town hall meeting and "Congress at Your Corner." Come talk with Congressman Lampson about the important issues that affect you and your family. Please post these events on your publication's community calendar.

Monday, July 2, 2007

4:30 p.m. - Congressman Lampson Hosts "Congress at Your Corner" in Pasadena
5:30 p.m. Location: Pasadena Public Library, Fairmont Branch, 4330 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena, Texas
Bringing constituent services straight to the community, Congressman Lampson hosts "Congress on Your Corner." The program takes Congressman Lampson's office into the communities he serves to hear directly from constituents on issues and concerns.

For more information please call 281-461-6300.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

12:00 p.m. - "Trading Places"

1:00 p.m. Location: Ben & Jerry's, 16155 City Walk, Sugar Land, Texas
Congressman Lampson will work alongside citizens to learn more about the issues facing local businesses and their employees in the 22nd Congressional District.

For more information please call 281-240-3700.

4:30 p.m. - Congressman Lampson Hosts Neighborhood Office Hours

5:30 p.m. Location: Richmond City Hall, 600 Morton, Richmond, Texas
Can't make it to Congressman Lampson's office? Now, his office comes to your neighborhood.

Please join Congressman Lampson and his staff as they host neighborhood office hours in Richmond to meet with constituents to discuss the important issues. All residents are welcome and encouraged to attend.

For more information or to RSVP please call 281-240-3700.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

6:30 p.m. - Congressman Lampson Hosts a Town Hall Meeting in Pearland

8:00 p.m. Location: Pearland City Hall, 3519 Liberty Drive, Pearland, Texas
Congressman Lampson will host a Town Hall meeting with a panel of local experts entitled "Keeping our Children Safe." He will present an update on child safety legislation, including the SAFE Act, a bill introduced by Congressman Lampson to protect children from online predators and the "Bringing Our Children Home Act," a bill that provides law enforcement officials with effective tools to investigate and prosecute child abduction cases.

For more information or to RSVP please call 281-240-3700.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

11:30 a.m. - Congressman Lampson Hosts "Congress at Your Corner" in Houston.

12:30 p.m. Location: Almeda Mall, 555 Almeda Road, Houston, Texas
Bringing constituent services straight to the community, Congressman Lampson hosts "Congress on Your Corner." The program takes Congressman Lampson's office into the communities he serves to hear directly from constituents on issues and concerns.

For more information please call 281-461-6300.

4:30 p.m. - Congressman Lampson Hosts Neighborhood Office Hours

5:30 p.m. Can't make it to Congressman Lampson's office? Now his office comes to your neighborhood.

Please join Congressman Lampson and his staff as they host neighborhood office hours in the Clear Lake area to meet with constituents. All area residents are welcome and encouraged to attend. Location: Frenchie's Italian Restaurant, 1040 NASA Road 1, Houston, Texas
For more information or to RSVP please call 281-461-6300.

Government - Lampson Hosts Events in Congressional District 22 During First Week of July


Galveston County Extension Office announces

Saturday, June 30,
from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Seminar on Snake Sense
Snake image by Marilyn Clark
Photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.
Mr. Tom Wilks will present a seminar on Snake Sense on Saturday, June 30, from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson.

No fee, but pre-registration is required due to space limitations (phone 281-534-3413, ext 1-2 or e-mail GALV3@wt.net).

Gardening - Unusual insect may become unwelcome guest in the home

Religion - A moment of silence?


Older News: June 25, 2007


Kids learn to become world explorers

Students will explore history, family history and community issues

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

June 25, 2007

HOUSTON— University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Kids U World Explorers Camp offers first- through fifth-grade students a chance to learn more about American history, community involvement and their own family history.

The camp kicks-off June 25-28 with the “History’s Mysteries” course for first- through second-graders. In the program, participants will explore famous American heroes and the elements of good citizenship. Campers will discover what makes a great heroes and their impact on society.

“Lemon-Aid Stand” will also be offered June 25-28. Teams of student will create lemonade stands to examine the relationship between businesses and the local community.

July 9-12 the Kids U camp features “Oral Histories through PhotoStory” for third- through fifth-graders. In this camp session, participants learn how to use digital photography to tell and record family stories in a digital format that allows narration and music.

“CSI: Citizens Should Investigate!” allows third- through fifth-grade students to look at common neighborhood issues and how to use your voice to make a difference, July 9-12.

Classes are held Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. or noon – 3 p.m., depending on the course, in the university’s Student Services and Classroom Building . Course fees are $129.

For more information or to register, call Kids U, 281-283- 3530 or visit http://kidsu.uhcl.edu.

Higher Education - Kids learn to become world explorers

School District teacher receives public service award from NASA

Awarded for dedication to students, science, and animals

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

June 25, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Cindy Schnuriger, the lead agriculture science instructor and program manager of the Center for Agriculture, Science, and Engineering (CASE), received NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal recently for her tireless energy and countless hours dedicated to an innovative partnership between NASA and CCISD. This partnership provides students the opportunity to breed and raise longhorn on Johnson Space Center property, enroll in specialized courses such as genetics, and be mentored by NASA staff.

“It was an extreme honor to be listed among leaders from the University of Texas, Barrios Technology, and Lockheed Martin,” said Schnuriger. “Also, to have Robert Cabana and Michael Coats present the award to me was simply awesome.”

In 1996, NASA initiated the Longhorn Project where the space agency donated a 60-acre tract of land for CCISD to use for educational purposes and Texas longhorn breeders donated animals for the students to raise and breed. Since the program inception and under Schnuriger’s leadership, the project has grown into an entire program dedicated to agriculture, science, and engineering.

“We are very fortunate to have Cindy spearheading this important effort,” said Nancy Mallini, CCISD Director of Career and Technology. “Under her management, we now offer a multitude of academic experiences for all grade levels. In fact, beginning this fall CCISD will offer the first vet-tech certification.”

CCISD - School District teacher receives public service award from NASA

Texas Attorney General: First-In-The-Nation crackdown on sex offenders using MySpace.com yields multiple arrests

Abbott’s Cyber Crimes, Fugitive Units arrest seven convicted sex offenders with Myspace.com profiles

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

June 25, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureHOUSTON–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today revealed the results of the nation’s first large-scale crackdown on registered sex offenders using the popular social networking site, MySpace.com. In a two-week operation, officers with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units investigated and arrested seven previously convicted sex offenders with online profiles after MySpace.com released offenders’ subscriber information at the demand of attorneys general across the country.

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey on our children,” Attorney General Abbott said. “These convicted sex predators established online identities on a Web site that is popular with teenagers and children. The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue its aggressive crackdown on sex predators who threaten our kids.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “By providing law enforcement with this critical user profile information, MySpace.com has taken an important first step towards a safer Internet. We urge all social networking sites to do whatever is necessary to protect children from Internet predators.”

The Office of the Attorney General Arrested six previously convicted sex offenders who activated MySpace.com accounts in violation of parole or probation requirements that specifically prohibit them from using the Internet:

Houston MySpace Arrests
of parole or probation violators

Government - Blevins picture

Government - Collins picture

  • Patrick Joseph Blevins, 49,
  • Arrested in Houston;
  • Convicted in Harris County in 1996 of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

His victim was a 14-year-old girl.

  • Reginald Lee Collins, 27,
  • Arrested in Houston;
  • Convicted in Harris County in 1998 of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

His victim was a 7-year-old girl.


Government - Metoyer picture

Government - Walter picture

  • Ronald Daven Metoyer, 41,
  • Arrested in Houston;
  • Convicted in Harris County in 2001 of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

His victim was a 14-year-old girl.

  • Robert Shepard Walter, 23,
  • Arrested in Houston;
  • Convicted in Harris County in 2004 of indecency with a child by exposure.

His victim was a 14-year-old girl.

Other MySpace arrests of parole or probation violators

  • Scott Peter Hansen, 44, arrested in Glenn Heights, Texas; convicted in Dallas County in 1983 of aggravated sexual assault of a 21-year-old woman; and

  • Jason Labronte Carr, 31, arrested in Austin; convicted in Hays County in 1998 of sexual assault of a child. His victim was a 13-year-old girl.

In May, the Texas Attorney General issued a subpoena to MySpace.com that forced the network to release subscriber information of all registered sex offenders who established online member profiles. MySpace.com provided Attorney General Abbott with data from Sentinel Safe, a database of information on registered sex offenders that the network compiled to verify the identities of their users.

Attorney General Abbott has repeatedly pressed MySpace.com and other social networking sites to implement definitive safety measures to protect their young users from sexually explicit images and unwanted sexual advances. Since the push from Attorney General Abbott and other attorneys general, MySpace.com has taken steps to improve safety on its site, including screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private.

Since taking office, Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation. The Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, have combined to arrest almost 600 sex offenders. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

In May 2006, Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to establish an ICAC Task Force. The Texas Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to crack down on sex predators, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

Government - Texas Attorney General: First-In-The-Nation crackdown on sex offenders using MySpace.com yields multiple arrests

Gov. Perry joins HHS Secretary Leavitt to sign landmark Medicaid reform

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

June 25, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture FORT WORTH–Gov. Rick Perry was joined June 14 by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to sign SB 10 into law, reforming the state’s Medicaid program which serves more than 2.7 million vulnerable, disabled and elderly Texans. The bill also creates a health opportunity pool, which will fund a premium assistance program to help uninsured working Texans who are not eligible for Medicaid buy private insurance.

“By optimizing available funding for health services, expanding consumer choices, encouraging personal responsibility for Medicaid recipients, and providing new sources of financing for private insurance, we are taking a historic step toward a better, more accessible healthcare system,” said Perry.

June 14, Texas’ Medicaid program costs $39.5 billion, accounting for 26 percent of the state’s biennial budget. By instituting a more flexible, innovative methodology to provide health care to underprivileged Texans, the state will be able to serve individuals better and more cost effectively.

Medicaid reform is designed to increase the percentage of Texans with health care coverage, focus on prevention, and emphasize consumer choice in health services. Reform efforts will transform the state’s health care infrastructure, optimize health investments, and provide health coverage to an estimated 200,000 uninsured Texans.

Additionally, Medicaid reform will do the following:

  • Provide assistance for enrollment in private insurance and employer-sponsored plans
  • Create tailored benefit packages for children with special health care needs
  • Promote consumer choice through health savings accounts and consumer directed services
  • Reward healthy lifestyle behaviors with health care incentives
  • Set a cost-sharing base for non-emergency use of emergency rooms

In addition to Medicaid reform, SB 10 also requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop a pilot project, which will provide incentives to primary care physicians serving Medicaid recipients who utilize health information technology, including electronic health records. Electronic medical records will help to ensure recipients receive appropriate medical care.

“It is not the end-all, be-all in a state with unique healthcare challenges, including more than 5 million uninsured, many of whom have immigrated here from poor conditions. But this plan is a good start at solving the problem working Texans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to affordably purchase health insurance coverage,” said Perry.

HHSC will immediately begin work to prepare and submit a Medicaid waiver request by this fall to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SB 10 takes effect September 1, 2007.

Government - Gov. Perry joins HHS Secretary Leavitt to sign landmark Medicaid reform

Cornyn-backed Civil Rights Bill approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

Bipartisan legislation advances to create federal offices to reopen criminal cases prior to 1970, bring criminals to justice

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

June 25, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to reopen Civil Rights-era criminal cases prior to 1970. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, S. 535, approved on June 14, now advances to the full Senate for consideration.

“It is my hope that by demonstrating a commitment to solving these despicable crimes, Congress can advance the cause of justice for all Americans,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I’m encouraged this legislation has passed the Judiciary Committee and urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important effort.”

The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act establishes an Unsolved Crimes Section in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ and an Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Investigative Office in the Civil Rights Unit of the FBI. Both offices will be responsible for investigating unsolved criminal civil rights cases, prior to January 1, 1970, that resulted in death. It will strengthen cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Additionally, the bill authorizes $11.5 million in annual appropriations to fund these new services.

The legislation was named after teenager Emmett Till who was murdered and mutilated in Money, Mississippi in 1955. In many states, there are still unsolved Civil Rights crimes. The bill was introduced by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and has 14 co-sponsors.

Sen. Cornyn co-sponsored similar legislation, the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, during the 109th Congress.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn-backed Civil Rights Bill approved by Senate Judiciary Committee

Gardening - Agapanthus adds eye-catching color to the landscape

Religion - The church


Older News: June 15 and June 18


Clear Springs High School hosts open school tour

Public invited.

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

June 18, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Clear Creek Independent School District is proud to open the doors of the district’s new high school to the public on June 23, 2007 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Clear Springs faculty, staff and PTA is hosting the Open School Tour for parents, community members and media to get a first-hand look at this state-of-the-art campus.

Refreshments and door prizes will be provided by the PTA. All monies raised will benefit the start-up of various clubs at Clear Springs High School. Clear Springs High School is located on Palomino Lane in League City, Texas.

CCISD - Clear Springs High School hosts open school tour

Gov. Perry signs School Seatbelt legislation

Lap-shoulder or "Three point" seat belts must be present in all school buses purchased by a school district after September 1, 2010

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

June 15, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Governor Rick Perry June 8 signed into law House Bill 323, requiring school buses to have lap-shoulder, or "three-point," seat belts in each seat for the safety of students. The governor was joined by state lawmakers and families of the students involved in the West Brook High School bus crash in 2006.

"This legislation will not only save lives, it will give parents peace of mind every morning their children leave their home for school and climb aboard a school bus," said Perry. "Putting seat belts on school buses will give parents greater assurance that their precious children will be safer when they are out of their sight and not under their control."

In March 2006, a school bus transporting the West Brook High School girl's soccer team and coaches crashed and rolled over, killing two girls and injuring many more. Fatal bus accidents involving students have made national news since the 2006 tragedy, most recently involving a boy's baseball team traveling through Atlanta, Georgia.

HB 323 aims to prevent injuries by requiring school buses or buses chartered by schools to be equipped with a "three-point" seat belt. The bill includes provisions stating:

  • "Three point" seat belts must be present in all school buses purchased by a school district after September 1, 2010. Charter buses used by school districts to transport students must be equipped with seat belts beginning September 1, 2011.
  • The State Board of Education (SBOE) must develop a training program for all districts regarding proper use of the "three-point" seat belts. The SBOE will also serve as a statewide clearinghouse for best practices in school bus safety.
  • Seat belts must be worn by students and the bus driver when present on bus transporting students effective immediately.

The Austin and Beaumont Independent School Districts have already adopted the practice of using school buses equipped with seat belts, taking positive steps toward ensuring the safety of their students.

HB 323 takes effect September 1, 2007.

Government - Gov. Perry signs School Seatbelt legislation

Higher Ed - Geography students picture

UH-Clear Lake geography education students will collect data for a virtual field trip of Texas by interviewing residents and capturing Texas with photos and videos during a 14 day tour of the state. Pictured are (kneeling, left to right) Audra Caudel, Leila Abraham, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education Susan McCormack; (back, left to right) Assistant Professor of Geography Jeff Lash, Tina Stokes, Brian Aiken, Sophie Baker, Mike Hopkins, Victoria Abrego, Rose Pettijohn, Talia Peschka and Renee Rohlfs .

UH-Clear Lake students get ready to capture the geography of Texas in video and photographs

Students to collect data for a Web site: “Geography of Texas Virtual Field Trip”

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

June 15, 2007

HOUSTON— University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Education geography students pose before embarking on a 14-day field trip around Texas funded in part by the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. The students will capture images, create videos and conduct interviews with local citizens as they collect data to populate the “Geography of Texas Virtual Field Trip,” a Web site envisioned to become a one-stop Texas geography resource for students, teachers and the public.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake students get ready to capture the geography of Texas in video and photographs

Attorney General Abbott seeks relief for businesses plagued by debt collector

IFC Credit Corp. attempted to collect debts incurred under false pretenses
- The June 6 action accuses IFC of failing to exercise caution before acquiring the indebted customers’ accounts, and of knowing NorVergence customers were tricked into the transaction with the false promise of low-cost services.

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

June 15, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott June 6 asked a Harris County District Court to prevent IFC Credit Corp., an Illinois finance company, from attempting to recover fraudulently incurred debts from Texas small businesses and nonprofits for telecommunications services. According to court documents filed by the Attorney General and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, IFC attempted to collect on debts it purchased from NorVergence Inc., a now-bankrupt company that defrauded small business owners.

NorVergence marketed fixed-price, low-cost telecommunications services to business owners. However, NorVergence customers did not realize they were actually signing five-year “rental agreements” for equipment that was essentially useless without the promised services. Since purchasing these accounts, IFC has aggressively attempted to collect debts that it knew resulted from contracts designed to deceive business owners.

“Small businesses are critical to the success of Texas’ economy,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The Office of Attorney General is committed to protecting small business owners from fraudulent schemes and unlawful debt collection practices. Texans can rest assured we will aggressively protect NorVergence victims from continued suffering because of this illegal, fraudulent scheme.”

Prior to its bankruptcy, NorVergence sold $21 million worth of accounts to IFC at a discount. NorVergence used the proceeds from the sale to pay for additional worthless products that it marketed to small businesses. The June 6 action accuses IFC of failing to exercise caution before acquiring the indebted customers’ accounts, and of knowing NorVergence customers were tricked into the transaction with the false promise of low-cost services.

In 2004 the Attorney General took legal action against NorVergence for misleading hundreds of small businesses into signing five-year rental agreements for what amounted to worthless equipment and service. NorVergence falsely claimed it would drastically reduce telecommunications costs with its services.

The rental agreements ranged in value from $4,400 to almost $161,000.

The Attorney General’s petition against IFC seeks the dissolution of debts incurred by fraudulent means and the cancellation of wrongful contracts.

Attorney General Abbott has also asked the court to void lawsuits IFC has filed against debtors since 2004, given that the company misled business owners into thinking they had no defenses in debt collection cases and that the debts were enforceable.

Government - Attorney General Abbott seeks relief for businesses plagued by debt collector

Cornyn succeeds in doubling funding for local law enforcement in Immigration Bill

$100 million will help local law enforcement secure our borders and protect our citizens, Cornyn says.

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

June 15, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate June 4 unanimously approved an amendment by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, top Republican on the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, to double the amount of funding for local law enforcement officials for immigration enforcement efforts. Approval of the amendment to the pending immigration reform bill comes as the Senate resumes consideration of the issue this week.

“The funding level set initially in this measure was a good start, but the federal government can and should do more. For far too long, local law enforcement and taxpayers along the border have been forced to bear the costs of our broken immigration system. It’s time for the federal government to own up to its responsibilities,” U.S. Sen. Cornyn said. “Under this new funding program, the men and women on the front lines will be given the necessary support to do their jobs and ensure local communities don’t have to foot the bill. I’m grateful for the support my amendment received this evening by my colleagues in the Senate.”

This funding reimburses border law enforcement officials who participate in immigration training programs to identify, process and detain immigration offenders. Sen. Cornyn’s amendment doubles the amount of funding authorized in the bill from $50 million to $100 million for the Border Relief Grant Program.

The pending immigration bill currently includes the following:

$50 million/year (FY 2008-2012) for law enforcement grants (equipment; personnel; technology; operational costs).

Preference for communities within 100 miles of border and population under 50,000.

2/3 of funds set aside for 6 states with largest number of illegal alien apprehensions (4 of 6 are the states along the U.S.-Mexico border, including Texas ); 1/3 for areas designated as “High Impact Areas” by Secretary of Homeland Security.

Sen. Cornyn’s amendment would do the following:

Double the grant funding from $50 to $100 million.

These funds can be used:

  1. To obtain equipment;
  2. To hire additional personnel;
  3. To upgrade and maintain law enforcement technology; and
  4. To cover operational costs, including overtime and transportation costs.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn succeeds in doubling funding for local law enforcement in Immigration Bill

Gardening - June proclaimed Master Gardener Appreciation Month

Religion - The Role of a Father


Older News: June 11, 2007


Attorney General's settlement with ChoicePoint protects consumers' private information

Identity theft victims can seek reimbursement for security breach losses

(Note: June 22, 2007 reimbursement application deadline)

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

June 11, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott May 31 reached a settlement with ChoicePoint Inc., a California-based data broker, which creates important safeguards for consumers' sensitive personal and financial information. Under the agreement, which includes 43 other states, the victims of a widely reported 2005 security breach will be reimbursed for any identity theft-related losses they suffered.

"Identity theft is one of the nation's fastest growing criminal enterprises," said Attorney General Abbott. "With businesses and consumers losing billions of dollars each year, law enforcement must aggressively crack down on identity theft. Texans can rest assured that the Office of Attorney General will work diligently to prevent identity theft and protect its victims."

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture

ChoicePoint provides information and credential verification services to businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The company routinely collects, maintains and distributes information about thousands of consumers. This data includes both personal financial information and publicly available information. In February 2005, criminals posing as legitimate business representatives breached ChoicePoint's data system, potentially gaining access to personal information on about 145,000 people, including many Texans.

The settlement requires ChoicePoint to significantly change its new customer review and credentialing process to ensure that criminals access neither its system nor consumers' sensitive personal information. The settlement marks the first time that a data broker has agreed to provide the same protections for both publicly available information and financial information that is protected by law.

Under a January 2006 settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, ChoicePoint established a $5 million reimbursement pool for consumers who suffered out of pocket identity theft losses in the wake of the data breach.

May 31's settlement ensures that qualified identity theft victims are eligible for reimbursement from ChoicePoint. Examples of reimbursable consumer losses include:

  • Unauthorized charges on consumers' pre-existing accounts that were not paid by banks or credit card companies;
  • Charges on new accounts that were opened in the name of identity theft victims;
  • Payments to debt collectors who were collecting on new accounts opened in the victims' names;
  • Costs of ordering new checks;
  • Costs to file or receive copies of police reports;
  • Notary fees;
  • Costs associated with correcting unauthorized charges or disputing incorrect information, which can include telephone calls, faxes, travel expenses and hourly fees for Internet access.

The DEADLINE to submit a redress claim form to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for repayment from losses is June 22, 2007.

Eligible consumers must complete the form and submit it for consideration.

More information can be found on the redress program at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/cases/choicepoint/index.shtm.

Government - Attorney General's settlement with ChoicePoint protects consumers' private information

Exhibit highlights grad student work

Work in a variety of media is presented including painting, sculpture, photography, and fibers.

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

June 11, 2007

HOUSTON— University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Art Gallery highlights the work of students and alumni during the Graduate Student Exhibition June 4 – Aug. 10, 2007. A special reception honoring the artists will be held Monday, June 11, 5-7 p.m. at the Art Gallery located on the first floor of the university’s Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston.

Professors from the different art disciplines selected 12 current students and four recent graduates. All of them are part of the Master of Arts in Humanities, Images track.

“Each faculty member was asked to give names of students or those who had completed the master’s program during the past year,” explains Professor of Fine Arts Nick de Vries. “All of the students chosen to participate in this exhibit have been chosen because of their outstanding work; they all have bright futures as artists.”

Artists include Alex Leite, Jerry Van Horn, Fred Cerkan, Nneka Beauford, Carleen Hyatt, Saralene Tapley, Lisette McClung, Wilma Boone, Mary Ann Matthys, Carolyn McDonald, Kelly Rogers, Thomas Flack, Karen Fiscus, Charley Bevill and Melanie Griep.

Beauford, an elementary school art teacher for Fort Bend Independent School District, combines printmaking with quilting when creating her art. She began pursuing her master’s degree because of natural desire to learn more about the field she loves.

“I decided to pursue this degree because I wanted to improve personally as an artist and become even more knowledgeable about advanced art techniques and art history,” says Beauford. “Art is my passion!”

“I will have two pieces featured in the exhibit titled ‘Black, White & Blood’ and ‘Textured,’” says graduate student Nneka Beauford. “They were the first two pieces I created by experimenting with prints on fabric. (Professors of Fine Arts) Sandria Hu and Nick de Vries encouraged me to participate in the exhibition because we were very pleased with how well the combination of techniques worked.”

Charley Bevill describes her work in the exhibition as “an attempt to express the distortion created by media exploitation.”

“I have always looked for ways to combine my love of the written word with my desire to create visually,” says Bevill. “I have completed a Master of Arts in Literature and am coming to an end of a Master of Arts in Humanities, Images.”

“I am fashioning an installation piece for my master’s project titled ‘Mediated Reality,’ a microcosmic environment evocative of the ‘The Twilight Zone,’ where gender and cultural issues are brought together,” says Bevill. “The figurative piece chosen by Nick de Vries for the graduate show can stand alone, but will make a larger statement when combined with the other pieces in the installation.”

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. – noon, Friday. For more information about the gallery, visit http://www.uhcl.edu/hsh/art_gallery or call 281-283-3311.

Note: Modified by Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

Higher Education - Exhibit highlights grad student work

Clear Creek High Summer Sports Camp information

Clear Creek and Clear Springs high schools set dates for sports training

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

June 11, 2007

Clear Creek High School

Girl's Basketball Camp
Location: League City Intermediate
Date: May 29 - June 1 (Tuesday – Friday)
Session 1: Entering 2nd – 5th/Time: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Session 2: Entering 6th – 7th/Time: 10:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Session 3: Entering 8th – 9th/Time: 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Contact information: Coach Jana Williams 281-284-1771 or jwillia1@ccisd.net
Volleyball Camp
Location: Clear Creek 9th Grade Center
Date: July 30 – August 2 (Monday – Thursday)
Session 1- 4th-6th graders 7:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Session 2- 7th graders and advanced 6th graders 10:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Session 3- 8th graders and advanced 7th graders 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sesson 4- 9th graders and advanced 8th 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Registration flyer: www.clearcreekvolleyball.org click on 2007 Wildcat Summer Camp on
the left side of the screen.
Contact information: Coach Scott Simonds 281-557-1938 or scottsimonds@hotmail.com
Houston's Bay Area Passing Camp
Location: District Stadium
Date: June 1st and 2nd
1 Session: Quarterbacks and Receivers Grades 5th-12th
Time: 7:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m. (both days)
Breakfast will be served
Contact information: Troy Rogers 281-468-8580; trogers1@ccisd.net
www.bayareapassingcamp.com
Girl's & Boy's Soccer Camp
Location: Clear Creek High School NGC - Soccer fields
Date: June 25 - June 29 (Monday - Friday)
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
1 Session: Kindergarten - Incoming Freshmen
Contact Information: Dede MacPherson 281-337-7206 coachmac@houston.rr.com or
Chris Cobb ccobb@ccisd.net
Boy's Basketball Camp
Location: Clear Creek 9th Grade Center
Date: May 29 - June 1 (Tuesday - Friday)
Session 1: Entering 2nd - 3rd/Time: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Session 2: Entering 4th - 5th/Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Date: June 4th-7th (Monday-Thursday)
Session 3: Entering 6th - 7th/Time: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Session 4: Entering 8th - 9th/Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Contact information: Jeffrey Carroll 832-385-2617 or jcarroll@ccisd.net


Clear Springs High Summer Sports Camp information

Clear Springs facilities are ready for student activities

May 24, 2007

CCISD - Clear Springs High Summer Sports Camp information

CCISD - Clear Creek and Clear Springs high schools: Summer Sports Camp information

Perry likens legislative session to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

Legislature makes key investments in border security, healthcare and education while failing to pass taxpayer protections

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

June 11, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry May 29 commented on legislative action taken during the 80th Legislative Session. The governor highlighted several achievements from the past 140 days, while also addressing disappointment in the resistance of the legislature to advance certain issues.

"We can say as a result of this session that the border will be more secure, healthcare will be better funded, college will be more accessible and school property tax rates will continue to decrease," said Gov. Perry. "However, like the old Clint Eastwood movie, this was a session of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Much work was left undone, and I hope legislators will fix their eyes on the unfinished business of the people instead of the political squabbles when they return to Austin."

In February, Gov. Perry proposed a budget that established a new, higher standard for fiscal responsibility and truth-in-budgeting, while meeting key priorities for Texas. The result would be slowed government growth, $15 billion in property tax relief, and an end to accounting gimmicks with the use of a one-time $5.4 billion payment. Additionally, $4.3 billion balance in the Economic Stabilization Fund would be left untouched.

Yesterday, Lawmakers effectively passed a $153 billion budget financing the record school property tax cut of 2006, creating a cancer research fund, funding a health opportunity pool that will help more Texans buy private health insurance, largely increasing college financial aid, creating a new incentive program to meet higher education goals, and dedicating $100 million to border security.

The legislature's budget included many of the governor's priorities presented in his State of the State Address. Though there were some issues left unfinished, such as property tax relief, true budget and spending reform, and appraisal relief, Gov. Perry commended legislators' for their service and looked optimistically toward the future.

"My quarrel is not with where the dollars flow, but the lack of transparency, accountability and budgetary honesty involved in how they are allocated," said Gov. Perry. "That being said, important investments have been made that legislators can proudly proclaim. Lawmakers came here with high hopes and have laid firm tracks that will continue Texas' stride as a prosperous state."

Please see below legislative scorecard highlighting the outcome of Gov. Perry's 2007 priorities.


Gov. Rick Perry's Priorities : 80th Legislative Session Scorecard

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

In February 2007, Gov. Rick Perry proposed an ambitious agenda for the 80th Texas Legislature. During the 140 day session, lawmakers acted on the vast majority of the governor's agenda and advanced the ball in numerous key policy areas. While lawmakers left some work unfinished and some of the governor's agenda untouched - most notably budget and appraisal reforms - significant progress was made on the majority of the governor's key policy priorities.

The Good:

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Healthier Texas
" One of the greatest obstacles to individual prosperity is the rising cost of healthcare... Today I am proposing a new initiative called 'Healthier Texas' which will open the door to more affordable insurance options for two million working Texans."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: SB 10 and a rider in HB 1 give the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) the authority to establish a premium assistance program to provide insurance to uninsured Texans. The state is eligible to receive up to $1 billion annually in federal funds that can be used to help individuals purchase private insurance. Preliminary indications estimate funds will be available to cover at least 200,000 adults annually.
Medicaid Reform
" We must take innovative measures, with the help of Washington, to reform Medicaid. There is no reason for healthy children and pregnant women to have the exact same benefit plan as Medicaid recipients with long-term healthcare needs. Washington's 'one size fits all' approach to Medicaid will bankrupt the states."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: Texas passed one of the most aggressive, comprehensive Medicaid reforms in the country. SB 10 includes provisions for healthy lifestyle incentives for Medicaid recipients, hospital financing reforms, establishment of a premium assistance program for the uninsured, customized benefit packages, and co-payments for emergency room use for non-emergency conditions. The bill received widespread support from health care advocates and will help Texas control Medicaid spending while improving outcomes for clients and moving more Texans to private insurance coverage.

Raising Medicaid Reimbursement Rates
" Ensuring patients have the best care possible requires more than the lawsuit reforms we passed in 2003 - it requires better Medicaid reimbursements."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The legislature agreed with the governor's proposal to restore Medicaid provider rates. That restoration became an essential part of the negotiations that resulted in a settlement to the Frew v. Hawkins lawsuit, which contended that Medicaid provider rates were so low they presented a barrier to children receiving medical care and needed checkups. The following amounts include increases for all applicable Health and Human Services agencies and Frew amounts:
Rate restoration to 2003 levels ($122.8 M General Revenue; $310.1 M All Funds)
Additional rate increase ($866 M GR; $2,185.5 M AF)
Hospital rebasing in FY 2009 ($150 M GR; $377.8 M AF)

Electronic Medical Records
" Healthcare is one of the last sectors of the economy yet to embrace the information technology revolution, including electronic medical records. Electronic records are critical to reducing medical errors and stopping healthcare fraud."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: HB 1066 passed, creating the Texas Health Services Authority, a non-profit, public-private collaborative that will receive private sector donations and federal funds to develop health information technology policies and foster regional collaboration. HB 921 passed, directing state agencies to develop data standards and a system for sharing client data between agencies that provide health/social services to improve the quality and efficiency of services provided. SB 10 (Medicaid reform) passed, which includes a new pilot program to promote the adoption of electronic medical records through the Texas Medicaid program.

Cancer Research
" I don't know when the day will come that we find a cure for cancer, but I do know it is my dream to accelerate its arrival with a multi-billion dollar cancer research initiative that can save lives and provide millions renewed hope."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The legislature passed HB 14 and HCR 90, establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. In November, Texans will vote on the authorization of $3 billion in general obligation bonds to provide $300 million in grants annually to fund cancer research.

HPV vaccine
" For the first time ever we have a vaccine that can prevent a cancer - a vaccine that prevents the spread of HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.…While others may focus on the cause of this cancer, I will stay focused on the cure."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: Plans are underway at HHSC and the Department of State Health Services to develop and implement an educational campaign on HPV, and to allow parents to submit requests for the immunization exemption affidavit via the Internet. National awareness of the ability to save lives has been raised.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Excellence in the Classroom
" Starting this fall Texas will have the largest performance pay program in the nation to reward teaching excellence, and I will do everything in my power to see that it stays that way."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: For the biennium, Texas will spend nearly $343 million on teacher incentive programs. Of that, $195 million will reward teachers through the Governor's Educator Excellence Awards and Awards for Students Achievement programs, which apply to campuses with high populations of economically disadvantaged students. Another $148 million rewards teachers in all campuses beginning in the 2nd year of the biennium in order to finance an additional teacher pay raise.

" Early Start" Pre-K
"We still have achievement gaps, and the best place to rectify those gaps is during the earliest learning years. We should invest an additional $80 million to expand the "Early Start" pre-K program, which uses pioneering techniques will improve learning among our youngest at-risk students." (Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The legislature appropriated $20 million to the Texas Workforce Commission for the purpose of increasing childcare reimbursement rates for certain childcare providers that participate in a school readiness integration project. Each year, $1 million will be transferred to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to fund the management of early childhood education partnership projects. The legislature also passed legislation authorizing TEA to collect reading assessment data for first graders, which will allow the agency to properly evaluate whether early education programs are having an impact on student achievement.

Amachi Program
" Perhaps no student population is at greater risk than the children of prisoners. Seventy percent are destined to follow a parent's path behind bars if no one intervenes. We must break up the generational cycle of incarceration."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: $5 million was appropriated to fund the Amachi program. Amachi is a statewide program that provides one-on-one mentors to the children of incarcerated, or paroled, men and women through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
High School Completion and Success Initiative
The good: The legislature authorized more than $100 million for grant programs to support high school reform, dropout prevention and college readiness. Outside experts will be consulted to draft a strategic plan to ensure that grants are awarded for projects that will inform statewide decisions to implement meaningful reforms in high school.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Performance Incentive Funding
" Today I am proposing major reforms to higher education that will reward colleges and universities for every student that earns a degree, lead to more degrees awarded in critical fields like computer science and nursing and increase financial aid by $360 million... the ultimate result will be a higher education system that is more affordable, more accountable and more focused on meeting the needs of tomorrow's global marketplace."(Gov. Perry Calls for Higher Education Reforms. Feb. 01, 2007)

The good: For the first time, a portion of funding for higher education institutions will be based on achievement rather than just enrollment. This is a fundamental and appropriate shift in the way taxpayers' funds are appropriated to universities and colleges that will bring about greater accountability. $100 million for incentive funding for the general academic institutions will help the state meet workforce needs by targeting an increased number of graduates, especially in critical fields, and improving the quality of education.

Financial Aid for Higher Education
" When it comes to education, we must recognize its value in an interdependent world. Today, knowledge is more valuable than raw labor, and those nations that prosper by pushing the envelope of innovation are those that invest in vibrant colleges and universities….I am also advocating that we set aside $40 million for a new Texas Technology Grant program. Texas produces 5,500 graduates a year in electrical engineering, engineering technology and computer science while our economy produces 11,000 annual job openings in those fields. We must invest in technology scholarships so that Texans are on the forefront of technology innovation."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: An increase of $145.5 million will help more students afford college. This includes an increase of $96.2 million for Texas Grants, $39.4 million for B-on-Time, $5 million for Texas College Work Study, and $5 million for Texas Educational Opportunity Grant. Together, this will help 16,000 more students afford college.
Nursing Initiative
" There is another industry shortage we must address because lives are at stake - and that is in our state's nursing profession. I am proposing a $50 million nursing initiative that addresses this shortage n two ways: first, it provides new incentives for recruiting more students and faculty; second, it allows aspiring nurses to become licensed through a pilot program at our hospitals."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The budget appropriates $14.7 million for the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction Program to recruit and retain nursing faculty, a $9 million increase over FY 2006-07. The budget also appropriates $4 million in proceeds from the tobacco lawsuit settlement to support innovative nursing education programs.

Transparency in Budgeting
" I am also asking members of the Legislature to join me in making higher education budgets more transparent by breaking out spending into more detailed line-items instead of the current practice of listing entire university budgets in one lump-sum."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: Thirty-six special items totaling $123 million are appropriated in line-items in a manner that can be evaluated using gubernatorial veto authority. The interim study recommended by the Governor's Business Council to create a Texas Compact for higher education could be a vehicle to discuss changing the formula system and appropriations patterns.

GENERAL GOVERNMENT

Transparency in State Budgets
" I believe every agency ought to publish its spending on line. Government that is open and honest will always be able to withstand the light of day."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: Today, at least 22 state agencies, including the Governor's Office, voluntarily publish their spending on line.
More good: The legislature required that a database of state expenditures be established and posted on the Internet in an electronically searchable format, making it easier for the public to track spending.

Truth-in-Budgeting
" Honest budgeting also requires us to end the practice of raising a fee for one purpose and diverting the funds to another purpose. Trauma funds, utility discount dollars and clean air funds have all been diverted to other purposes, often to balance the budget."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The governor proposed eliminating the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund assessment, saving ratepayers $421 million. HB 735 ends the assessment as of September 2008, one year later than proposed, saving ratepayers an estimated $176 million. Additionally, HB 1 appropriates specialty license plate revenues and balances to the specific causes for which the money was raised.

Tax appraisals
" I believe local governments should be able to raise all the revenue they need, just do it with a vote and not through the appraiser's note."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: HB 438 limits the amount that a homestead's appraised value can increase to no more than 10 percent in a single year, regardless of when the property was last appraised. Currently, a homestead's appraised value can increase 10 percent for each year since the property was last appraised.

Appraisal Process Reform
" I believe Texans deserve more than property tax relief - they deserve appraisal relief."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: HB 3496 increases taxpayer rights and extends taxpayer deadlines. The bill creates staggered appraisal notices for different types of property owners and allows a taxpayer to protest after the official protest deadline, but before approval of the appraisal records by the appraisal review board. HB 3024 requires the appraisal district to establish by clear and convincing evidence the property's value in certain taxpayer protest hearings. If a taxpayer provides a written appraisal to the chief appraiser within 14 days of the hearing then the appraisal review board has the burden to establish the value of the property.

Film Incentives
The good: HB 1634 authorizes the film incentives program to encourage film production in Texas. HB 1 provides $22 million for film incentives, which is $2 million more than requested.
Transfer Procurement Functions to the Office of the Comptroller
The good: HB 3560 transfers procurement functions to the comptroller.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY

Texas Homeland Security Plan
" There can be no safe haven for drug traffickers and human smugglers anywhere in Texas. I propose a border security package that will allow us to take back our streets, neighborhoods and private ranches from the criminal scourge that currently jeopardizes them."(Gov. Perry Emphasizes Need for Additional Border Security. Jan. 24, 2007)

The good: $110 million was added to expand existing successful surge operations coordinated by the Governor's Office of Homeland Security. The legislature added four helicopters to the Department of Public Safety and expands the agency's ability to help homeland security efforts. Additional funds will provide in-car computers and expand the Texas Rangers.
Continuing Sexual Assault Against a Child (Jessica's Law)
" I agree with our Lieutenant Governor that sexual offenders who harm our children must face tougher penalties."(Governor's State of the State Address/ Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: As recommended by the Governor's Criminal Justice Advisory Council, HB 8 makes repeated sexual abuse of a child or children during at least a thirty day period an offense. It also sets a twenty five year minimum sentence without the offender having prior convictions. Additionally, the bill allows young children witnesses to reference abuse within a 30 day period, rather than a single date for a child to remember.
Rehabilitation of Prisoners
" There are thousands of non-violent offenders in the system whose future we cannot ignore. Let's focus more resources on rehabilitating those offenders so we can ultimately spend less money locking them up again."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The budget provides nearly $240 million for rehabilitation and parole beds for offenders.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Disaster Contingency Fund
" There is no question that Texas is prepared to step up to the plate and meet a disaster head-on. But we need assurance that, when a disaster strikes, we will be able to continue coordinating our emergency response efforts and protect our communities without being financially penalized."(Gov. Perry Proposes $50 Million Disaster Contingency Fund. Jan. 30, 2007)

The good: The governor requested $50 million for disaster relief to help state and local governments coordinate when disaster strikes. The legislature appropriated $15.8 million.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Water Reservoirs
" I support legislation that establishes more than 20 reservoir sites in statute because securing viable water supplies is vital to the future of this state." (Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The Texas Water Development Board identified 19 reservoir sites in the 2007 State Water Plan, which SB 3 designates to keep local government from interfering with their use as reservoirs.
Texas Emissions Reduction Plan
" Let's continue to invest in clean air by increasing our funding for the Texas Emissions Reduction Program by $180 million. Mobile sources contribute the majority of pollution in Texas. This program cleans up dirty engines and reduces emissions by one ton for every $5,000 invested."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: The governor proposed increasing Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) funding by $183 million to $440 million; HB 1 provides for an $80 million increase in funding, or a total of $338 for the biennium. However, HB 1 also appropriates an additional $92 million for the Low Income Vehicle Repair Assistance program from the Clean Air Account to repair, retrofit and replace older, higher emission vehicles.

STATE INVESTMENTS

Darfur
" The example we set in Texas can have international ramifications. I join Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and a bipartisan group of legislators in protesting the ethnic genocide occurring in Darfur by calling on the state of Texas to divest of companies doing business in Sudan."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The good: SB 247, the Sudan Divestment bill, requires the state Employees Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System to divest in companies doing business in Sudan.

ECONOMY

Senior Tax Freeze
" I want to see a constitutional amendment on the May ballot so that seniors get the maximum amount of tax relief on this year's tax bill the same as other homeowners. Just because senior citizens have their tax rates frozen doesn't mean they should be left out in the cold when it comes to additional rate relief."(Governor designates emergency legislation. Jan. 12, 2007)

The good: On May 12, 2007, Texans voted to extend property tax relief to senior citizens and disabled individuals whose property tax amounts are frozen. Because the constitutional amendment, SJR 13 (and its enabling legislation HB 5), passed, seniors and the disabled will receive property tax relief in 2008-09.
Enterprise Fund, Emerging Technology Fund and Workforce Investment
" At home, we must continue to invest in jobs by expanding workforce training through the skills development fund, by continuing to fund job creation through the Enterprise Fund, and by increasing funding for the Emerging Technology Fund, which will help us attract the new growth industries of this new century."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

Emerging Technology Fund: HB 1 includes $75 million in new general revenue which along with previous balances and interest results in an estimated $180 million being available for the 2008-09 biennium. Additionally, HB 1188 authorizes the governor to make awards in the form of loans and to charge and receive reasonable interest for the loans. It also provides authority to take an equity position in the form of stock or other security when making an award and to sell the security for the benefit of the fund. HB 1 provides $1.2 million for the biennium to administer the fund.
Enterprise Fund: HB 1 also appropriates an estimated $200 million, including unexpended balances and anticipated interest earnings.
Skills Development Fund: HB 1 appropriates $51 million to the Skills Development Fund, an increase of $11 million to provide customized job training to an additional 8,000 workers.

TRANSPORTATION

Toll Roads
The good: SB 792 permits Texas' innovative toll road program to continue forward in a cooperative fashion with TxDOT and local toll authorities using a variety of tools to build the roads our growing state needs. Members passed a two year moratorium on privately financed roads but exempted every road that would conceivably be built using private financing during the next two years.

Rail Relocation Fund
The good: HB 160 makes railroad relocation projects that reduce engine idling and air pollution eligible to apply for TERP grants.

OTHER ITEMS

Adoption Incentive Program
The good: HB 2702 provides a monthly health insurance subsidy of $150 through age 18 to parents who adopt foster children who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Recruit foster families
The good: The legislature retained an existing rider in the Department of Family and Protective Services budget of $1.2 million for faith-based foster family recruitment and training.

Expansion of Gubernatorial Powers over Boards and Commissions During Emergency
The good: The Texas Youth Commission (TYC) reform bill changed the oversight structure from an Executive Director with the oversight of a citizen appointed board to an Executive Commissioner appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. An Office of Inspector General is created to investigate crimes committed at TYC owned or contracted facilities and crimes by TYC employees. The Chief Inspector General is selected by the Executive Commissioner. The legislature also created an independent Office of Ombudsman with the Chief Ombudsman appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate.
More good: HB 15 contains a rider that requires Texas Southern University to establish and implement a rehabilitation plan with an accountability system. The Board of Regents must formulate a plan addressing finance and accounting, human resources, management information systems, planning and communications, student financial aid, contract and grant management and other elements determined appropriate by the Governor and Legislative Audit Committee.

The Bad and The Ugly:

HPV vaccine
The bad: The legislature superseded Executive Order RP65 by passing HB 1098. As a result, only 25 percent of the applicable population will likely be vaccinated against the most widespread sexually transmitted disease, as opposed to 95 percent if the vaccine was mandated. HB 1098 also prohibits the Executive Commissioner of HHSC from exercising existing authority until 2011 to add the HPV vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for school entry.
The ugly: The legislature not only overturned Executive Order RP65, but it included a rider in the budget to restrict the use of state funds to purchase or administer a mandatory HPV vaccine program. While the rider was rendered moot upon the passage of HB 1098, the legislature sent a statement by including it in the budget anyway, and refused to acknowledge that it will restrict low-income women from obtaining the vaccine.
Performance Incentive Funding
The ugly: The governor's incentive proposal received less funding than special-item earmarks, the higher education pork proposals that were never debated but added to the budget, in many cases, in the final week of the session.

Financial Aid for Higher Education
The bad: This amount appropriated is less than half the total requested by the governor, and will reach an estimated 71,000 fewer Texas students in FY 2009. Additionally, no progress was made in consolidating the numerous financial aid programs and increasing student accountability.

Transparency in Budgeting
The bad: Legislative leaders did not engage in any meaningful debate about the need for a more open and transparent state budget.
More bad: HB 2560 would have required disclosure of school district books on the Internet where parents and taxpayers could view school expenditures. The bill died in the Senate.
The ugly: Despite repeated efforts from the Governor's Office and others with interest in accountability, the legislature refused to engage in any meaningful debate about the need for more accessible higher education budgets. In fact, HB 3795, which repeals statutory requirement for higher education lump-sum funding, died in subcommittee without a hearing.

Truth-in-Budgeting
The bad: The governor proposed replacing the use of $1.2 billion in Fund 006 used to finance non-transportation state agency operations and using those funds to maintain and expand the state highway system. The legislature did not adopt this funding strategy. Additionally, the governor proposed using $115 million from balances in the Trauma and Emergency Medical Services account to provide $226 million for grants to trauma facilities and EMS. HB 1 appropriates only $103.4 million.
The ugly: The governor's proposed budget included more than $2 billion for truth-in-budgeting; the legislature's budget accomplishes a mere $554 million in truth-in-budgeting. Additionally, budgetary shell games continue, including legislative budget charts that mask more than $2 billion in education spending as property tax relief. This phony number inflates the cost of keeping our property tax promise, and made more difficult the passage of additional property tax relief.
More ugly: The legislature also passed a funds consolidation bill, HB 3107, which allows the comptroller to sweep various dedicated accounts into the general revenue account for one day in order to certify the budget. This budgetary gimmick flies in the face of honest budgeting.

Tax Appraisals
The bad: The current 10 percent appraisal cap was maintained. Several bills that would have reduced the appraisal cap to an amount less than 10 percent failed to pass.
The ugly: Despite yearly public outcries for appraisal reform, the legislature again refused to have a meaningful, open debate on this issue. Bills that would have instituted an appraisal cap or revenue cap were left to die in House and Senate committees.

Appraisal Process Reform
The bad: Several House and Senate bills, filed at the recommendations of the Task Force on Appraisal Reform, did not receive legislative consideration. The bills would have provided taxpayer protections and improved the fairness of the appraisal process.

Spending Cap
" In a time of record revenues, there is a temptation to spend more than we can sustain in the years to come. That's why I propose a stricter spending cap that is tied to the average inflation and population growth of the last six years."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The bad: The governor's proposed revisions to the spending limit, which would have limited spending to population growth and inflation as calculated during the previous six years, were never debated on the floor of either house.
More bad: Additionally, SB 1638, which included new property in the calculation of the effective tax rate, failed to pass the Senate. Under current law, new property is excluded from the tax rate calculation which results in tax revenue that the district receives not being counted as a revenue source, thereby allowing the district to gain more than 8 percent without having to go to the voters for approval.

Rehabilitation of Prisoners
The ugly: While rehabilitation of non-violent offenders is important, so too are the mental health needs of law-abiding Texans. Funding for substance abuse at the Department of State Health Services decreased by $20.9 million. In effect, the budget dedicates $205 million providing treatment to 150,000 prisoners, while cutting treatment funding for 22 million law-abiding citizens.

Windstorm Insurance Fund
" We must also put aside regional differences in order to be prepared for a hurricane of historic proportions. Our windstorm insurance system is out of date, and had Rita made landfall in the Houston ship channel, it would have done great damage to the entire Texas economy, as well as the state budget."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The bad: TWIA is not adequately funded; therefore, we must determine what actions can be taken in the interim.
FutureGen
" With current technologies allowing coal to burn at least twice as clean as all of the old natural gas plants we are trying to replace in Texas today, we can meet our power needs while reducing total emissions."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The bad: The governor recommended a $20 million appropriation pending the selection of a Texas site for the FutureGen project. The funds were to be used to implement the near-zero emission coal fired power plant project. HB 1 did not include any such appropriation.

Additional Tax Relief
" Today I have proposed a budget that…expands upon the record property tax cut of last year by setting aside an additional two and a half billion dollars for tax relief. One way to provide tax relief is in the form of a rebate. The appeal of a one-time rebate is that future legislatures don't have to find the money to sustain it. However, the will of the legislature may be to provide rate relief instead. Either way is better than the alternative; which is having the money spent on more government."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The bad: The legislature had an opportunity to provide an additional $2.5 billion in property tax relief. HB 2785 would have reduced the property tax rate by an additional 6 percent, beyond the property tax relief provided in the 79th 3rd Called Session.

Rail Relocation Fund
The bad: Despite the governor's proposal to appropriate $100 million to capitalize the Railroad Relocation and Improvement Fund, a record budget surplus, and voters approving the Railroad Relocation and Improvement Fund in November of 2005, the legislature failed to appropriate money to the fund to move freight rail lines out of our dense urban areas.

Lease of the Lottery
" Conservative estimates tell us that the state lottery could be sold to the private sector for $14 billion. Using these resources, we could create a $2.7 billion endowment for the uninsured that generates close to a quarter billion dollars in interest payments every year. We could also create a $3 billion cancer research trust fund that would annually generate more than a quarter billion dollars each year to the fight against cancer. And the rest of the money - more than $8 billion - could be dedicated to a public education endowment that would provide about $800 million a year for public education."(Governor's State of the State Address. Feb. 06, 2007)

The bad: HB 3973, clarifying the state's authority to enter into a lottery operation agreement, was filed but never made it out of committee. The legislature missed an unprecedented opportunity to create anywhere from $14 billion to $20 billion in endowments, benefiting the state in perpetuity. Since the Lottery is currently run by a private operator the legal structure changes in the operating agreement would have been transparent and the agreement could have further clarified no expansion of gambling was permissible.

Expansion of Gubernatorial Powers over Boards and Commissions During Emergency
The bad: Despite the governor's request that the Legislative Audit Committee meet to determine if TSU had suffered gross fiscal mismanagement, it has yet to meet. The governor worked with the legislature to craft SB 2039, an option to placing TSU into conservatorship. The compromise language proposed in SB 2039 would have allowed the governor an additional tool to deal with any agency, including universities, suffering from a condition of financial or administrative exigency that created a continuing and pervasive instability in operations and management; or resulted in the failure to properly perform all or part of the agencies' primary functions. The failure to pass SB 2039 will mean greater difficulty for the Board of Regents to make swift and decisive management and administrative changes to correct the institution's systemic problems.

Government - Perry likens legislative session to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

Cornyn: America ’s veterans will never be forgotten

"Our state [Texas] was founded by frontiersmen and pioneers willing to risk everything to throw off the shackles of tyranny," said Cornyn.

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

June 11, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Armed Services Committee, made the following statement in recognition and remembrance of our Veterans who America honors on Memorial Day. Senator Cornyn spoke May 28 in Georgetown, Texas at the Williamson County Veterans Memorial Plaza and in Pflugerville, Texas where he participated in a ceremony at Walden Capital Parks Cemetery:

“On Memorial Day, America undertakes its solemn duty to remember the sacred list of brave Americans who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and the security of our Nation. While we honor the proud Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen that have been lost in battle or conflict throughout this Nation’s history, we should also reflect on those values we cherish as a Nation that our brave men and women have fought for and died to preserve.

“Each of our fallen heroes answered the Nation’s call of duty. Each sacrificed a full life of promise and hope so that others like us would continue to live in freedom. Their courage and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Those who have served in years past have forged with their dedication and service a legacy of greatness which those still in uniform carry on today. We honor the patriotism and sacrifice of those who have served throughout our Nation’s history, and those who have continued to answer the call.

“The root values behind Memorial Day run especially deep here in Texas. Our state was founded by frontiersmen and pioneers willing to risk everything to throw off the shackles of tyranny. Hundreds died in the struggle, and their names are honored still. Texans have always stepped proudly forward when duty calls. Today, the world knows that ‘ Texas defends America .’ One in ten American military personnel call Texas home. We value service, and we appreciate those who sacrifice, so selflessly, for us.

“During this year's Memorial Day observance, we honor those who have served and have been lost. Their example helps us better understand the meaning of patriotism and citizenship, and we pledge that their sacrifices will not be in vain, nor forgotten.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn: America ’s veterans will never be forgotten

Gardening - JUNE’S GARDENING CALENDAR

Religion - Arrow Prayers


Older News: May 31, 2007


MySpace.com to turn over information on sex offender profiles to Texas Attorney General

Abbott, national leader in child predator arrests, pushes for change

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 31, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott May 21 ordered MySpace.com to release the names of all convicted sex offenders who have set up online member profiles.

MySpace.com agreed to turn over first and last names of its online users that are registered sex offenders in Texas. MySpace.com will also provide IP addresses, E-mail addresses, and their online profile information. This data will help the Attorney General crack down on sex predators who use the Internet to prey on children.

"By providing this information, MySpace.com is helping law enforcement crack down on online sex predators," Attorney General Abbott said. "Social networking sites must continue to make their Web sites and content safer for our children. We urge all social networking Web sites to take all necessary steps to keep children safe from the unwanted advances of online predators."

Attorney General Abbott, a nationally recognized leader with more than 500 sex predator arrests, has repeatedly pressed MySpace.com and other social networking sites to implement definitive safety measures to protect young users of their Web sites from sexually explicit images and unwanted solicitations. Since the push from Attorney General Abbott and other attorneys general, MySpace.com has taken steps to improving safety on its site, including screening profiles for inappropriate content and making certain profiles private.

"The incorrigible nature of sex predators requires public officials, law enforcement, industry leaders and parents across Texas to join together to make the Internet a safer place," Attorney General Abbott added. "Without meaningful safeguards in place, no child is safe from the unwanted advances of chat room predators."

The Attorney General, along with state leaders, has also fought to make Texas the toughest state in the nation, creating one of the nation's toughest versions of "Jessica's Law", tightening penalties for Internet predators and providing district attorneys more tools to prosecute child sex crimes.

Last March, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 6, which provides additional tools that will improve law enforcement's ability to investigate cyber crimes. Under SB 6, authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are required to promptly respond to court orders and subpoenas issued by law enforcement. May 21, when the Texas House of Representatives debates SB 6, legislators will consider an amendment that would amend SB 6 by expanding its applicability to entities such as MySpace.com. If passed, this provision would further improve the Attorney General's ability to quickly obtain critical information about cyber predators from ISPs, social networking sites, and other online resources.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2003, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which protects children from online sexual exploitation. The Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit, which locates sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children, have combined to arrest more than 500 sex offenders. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators also have traveled to schools and communities statewide to offer educational cyber safety programs.

In May 2006, Attorney General Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention to establish an ICAC Task Force. The Texas Attorney General's ICAC Task Force is one of almost 50 federally funded task forces across the country dedicated to this project.

In July 2006, Abbott was invited by U.S. Congressman Joe Barton to testify at a congressional hearing in Washington on federal legislation limiting access to commercial social networking sites at publicly funded schools and libraries.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott's efforts to crack down on sex predators, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

Government - MySpace.com to turn over information on sex offender profiles to Texas Attorney General

Nature - Plants for bayou restoration picture
Plants for Bayou Restoration are grown year round at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Marsh Mania: Volunteers will plant marsh grass to help restore Armand Bayou

Marsh Mania will be Saturday, June 2 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. FREE lunch at noon — Door prizes and free t-shirts.

Other sites include Starvation Cove on Galveston Island and the Texas City Prairie Preserve.

By Marilyn Clark

May 31, 2007

California bulrushes will be planted at various locations along Armand Bayou to help restore wildlife habit lost a number of years ago by the drowning of much marsh vegetation as a result of subsidence, a sinking of the ground due to pumping groundwater.

California bulrushes were selected because they grow well in the salinity range of Armand Bayou, ABNC Stewardship Coordinator Mark Kramer said.

About 1200 pots of California bulrushes were moved May 29 from the nursery ponds to the boathouse on Armand Bayou to get ready for Marsh Mania, said Ian Kress, ABNC Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator.

Sign-in starts at 8 a.m. Planting starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m. Lunch will be served up to volunteers at noon. Long pants and shoes with closed toes are recommended ABNC Interim Director Sue Sutterby said. "The shoes should be washable or discardable because they could get muddy. Volunteers might also get wet."

Sun protection such as sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are recommended.

Volunteers who do not wish to ride in a canoe can help plant California bulrushes in pots for the marsh plant nursery ponds near the admissions building of the Nature Center, Kramer said. For more information, e-mail Mark Kramer - mark@abnc.org .

The minimum age for participation is 15. The Galveston Bay Foundation also will be replanting marsh grass at Starvation Cove on Galveston Island and the Texas City Prairie Preserve.

Some registration slots are still available says Vicki Conley, GBF Marketing and Membership Coordinator. She suggests registering online at www.galvbay.org . A registration request and contact information may also be left at (281) 332-3381 ext. 205 .

Nature - Marsh Mania: Volunteers will plant marsh grass to help restore Armand Bayou

Bayou Boil 2007

May 31, 2007

The Hodges and tractor picture

Helen Hodges won the gently used “IH Case 22hp Tractor,” a live auction item at Bayou Boil 2007 donated by the nature center. “Helen and Don Hodges have been longtime supporters of Armand Bayou Nature Center. They will use the tractor on their ranch in Santa Fe,” ABNC Board President Stan Krauhs said. “The Hodges donated and purchased a number of items for both the silent and live auctions.”

Photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Student pubs recognized

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 31, 2007

HOUSTON— The Texas Intercollegiate Press Association recognized University of Houston-Clear Lake’s student-produced publications Bayousphere and The UHCLIDIAN with 18 awards during the annual convention in San Antonio this March. Students also competed at the convention.

Emily Hawkins received second place in Print News Writing and third place in copy editing, while Bret Newcomb was awarded honorable mention in Headline Writing during the on-site competition.

Judges awarded The UHCLIDIAN the following honors: First Place-Picture Story for Roger Roberts and Feride Muezzinoglu; First Place-Sports Column for J.T. Garrett; Second Place-Single Subject Presentation for Emily Murray and BreAnna Schwartz; Second Place-Headline for UHCLIDIAN staff; Third Place-Illustration and General Column for Roger Roberts; Third Place-Opinion/Editorial Page Design and Photo Illustration for BreAnna Schwartz; Third Place-Sports Feature Story for Leeanne Lambert; Third Place-Special Section/Edition for UHCLIDIAN staff; Third Place-Feature Page Design for BreAnna Schwartz; Third Place-News Photo for Miracle Rodriuez; Third Place-Photo Illustration for Tiffany Rolland; and Third Place-Overall Excellence for UHCLIDIAN staff.

Bayousphere awards announced at the event included First Place-Poem for Dennis Forrest; Second Place-Short Story for Stephen Blanchard; Third Place-Photo Essay for Alisa Nicholson and Joe Huffman; Honorable Mention-Feature Photo for Crystal Spies; Honorable Mention-Cover Design for Jessica Sonntag and Dana Harms; and Honorable Mention-Overall Excellence for the Bayousphere staff.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a national competition, also honored both student publications. Christopher Travis was awarded second place for his UHCLIDIAN sports column. Bayousphere honors included a third place award to Dana Harms and Jessica Sonntag for spread design. Alisa Nicholson also earned third place and honorable mention in illustration.

Higher Education - Student pubs recognized

Focus on Learning


Register now for fall classes at UH-Clear Lake

Open registration available through Aug. 17

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 31, 2007

HOUSTON— New and returning UH-Clear Lake students can enroll in fall 2007 semester classes during the open registration period running through Aug. 17. Fall semester courses begin Aug. 20.

E-Services will be available for students wishing to register by phone or online. To access E-Services, call 281-212-8425, or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/records/easeonline. Both registration methods are available around the clock Monday – Saturday and Sunday until 6 a.m. and after 2 p.m.

For a free class schedule or for more information, visit the Office of Admissions Web site, http://www.uhcl.edu/admissions, or call 281-283-2520. Those wishing to return to school may visit the “Future Students” tab at http://www.uhcl.edu to request admission information.

Higher Education - Register now for fall classes at UH-Clear Lake

Attorney General Abbott charges manufacturer with violating environmental laws

Conner Steel Products of San Angelo cited for waste management, air emissions violations

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 31, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged Conner Steel Products with violating state environmental protection laws. According to the state's enforcement action, the San Angelo-based steel and fiberglass tank manufacturer failed to comply with air quality and solid waste management regulations.

"Texas will vigorously enforce environmental laws that protect the health and safety of its citizens," said Attorney General Abbott. "Despite inspections and compliance agreements with state regulators, this manufacturer failed to comply with the law. The Office of Attorney General is committed to strictly enforcing environmental protections that preserve the quality of air, water and natural resources for future generations."

A temporary injunction hearing in the case has been set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 12, in Travis County District Court.

In both 2004 and 2005, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Conner entered into agreed orders requiring the manufacturer to comply with environmental regulations for solid waste management, storm water runoff and air emissions.

Despite the orders, recent follow-up inspections by TCEQ investigators revealed additional waste management and air emission violations, including storing waste in open 55-gallon containers that were accessible to children; conducting sandblasting operations without the required TCEQ registration or site approval; burning waste in outdoor barrels; improperly disposing of welding residue; and releasing harmful styrene emissions to the air from a fiberglass fabrication unit. According to the TCEQ inspection report, fiberglass fabrication manufacturing emissions caused the air in a nearby neighborhood to exceed the regulatory limitations for styrene, a hazardous chemical.

Conner also unlawfully stored paint waste, liquid acetone and styrene resin in containers bound for a municipal landfill that is not permitted to accept those chemicals. The manufacturer also improperly disposed of welding residue, among many other violations.

The state seeks up to $25,000 per violation per day, as well as injunctions halting all unauthorized waste discharges and air emissions, and requiring Conner to bring the facility into full compliance with the law. The enforcement case also demands that Conner Steel provide a full accounting of all wastes via a classification system, as required by law.

Government - Attorney General Abbott charges manufacturer with violating environmental laws

Gov. Perry urges Texans to prepare for 2007 Hurricane Season

Recommends that families develop an evacuation plan, a communication plan and an emergency kit

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

May 31, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry proclaimed May 20-26, 2007, Hurricane Awareness Week. Perry, along with the National Weather Service and the Governor's Division of Emergency Management, is urging all Texans to be prepared for the 2007 hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.

“I urge all Texans to be mindful of the dangers presented by hurricanes, to stay informed about current threats, and to take steps toward preparedness,” Perry said. “While residents along the coast are among the first impacted by a hurricane, we must keep in mind that these massive storms can cause flooding and tornadoes hundreds of miles from the coastal areas where they make landfall.”

Families should designate a place to go in case of evacuation, develop an emergency plan for communicating with relatives and friends in other areas, and put together a "readiness kit" of important supplies, including items such as a battery-operated radio and flashlight. Texans are also urged to heed all warnings, information and instructions provided by emergency management personnel.

In fall 2005, Perry appointed the Task Force on Evacuation, Transportation and Logistics to take testimony from local officials, emergency response personnel and citizens on lessons learned from Hurricane Rita. In March 2006, the governor issued an executive order implementing the task force recommendations, which focus on five key areas: the evacuation of people with special needs; command, control and communications; traffic management; fuel availability; and public awareness.

Two weeks ago, the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management hosted the 2007 State Hurricane Preparedness Conference in Galveston, where local, state and federal officials and the emergency response community joined to discuss preparations for the upcoming hurricane season. From June 4 - 7, the state will also conduct a multi-dimensional Hurricane Preparedness Exercise, involving local, state, federal and private sector partners.

“State officials and first responders have collaboratively enhanced the state’s hurricane preparedness and response plans following the recent devastating hurricane seasons,” said Perry. “But there is still more we must do. Advanced planning and preparation by officials and residents are essential to protecting property, reducing risk and ultimately, saving lives.”

For more information about hurricane preparedness, please visit the Governor's Division of Emergency Management Web site at www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/

Government - Gov. Perry urges Texans to prepare for 2007 Hurricane Season

Texas posts highest monthly job gains in nation

23,500 new jobs created in April; Unemployment rate dips to 4.2 percent

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

May 31, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Budget Committee, made the following statement May 18 regarding the figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics showing Texas posted the highest number of new jobs in the nation in April:

“It’s encouraging to see that the Texas economy continues growing at a strong pace. Creating the highest number of new jobs in the nation last month, Texas is leading the way in expanding economic opportunities.

“In addition, these numbers are the latest evidence that the Republican-led tax relief we passed four years ago continues to boost the economy and create jobs. Congress must make that relief permanent to protect middle-class families, farmers and ranchers, and entrepreneurs across Texas from major tax increases.”

Texas employers added 23,500 jobs in April, the largest gain in the nation. 240,800 new jobs were created in the last year. The Texas unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in March, which is below the national average of 4.5 percent.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Texas posts highest monthly job gains in nation

Gardening - Test your "TOMATO LINGO" IQ

Religion - Positive failures


Older News: May 24, 2007


Nature - Plants for bayou restoration picture
Plants for Bayou Restoration are grown year round at Armand Bayou Nature Center.
Photo credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Marsh Mania: Volunteers needed to help restore Armand Bayou

Marsh Mania set for Saturday, June 2 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. with a free lunch at noon at Armand Bayou Nature Center - also door prizes and free t-shirts.

May 24, 2007

Over 3,000 plants will be planted at various locations along Armand Bayou to help restore wildlife habit lost a number of years ago by the drowning of much marsh vegetation as a result of subsidence, a sinking of the ground due to pumping groundwater.

Planting ends at 11:30. Lunch will be served up to volunteers at noon.

To register, contact the Galveston Bay Foundation at 281-332-3381 ext. 205 or online at www.galvbay.org . The minimum age for participation is 15. Long pants and shoes with closed toes are recommended. The shoes should be washable or discardable because they could get muddy. Volunteers might also get wet.

Volunteers who do not wish to ride in a canoe can help plant bullrushes in pots for the marsh plant nursery near the admissions building of the Nature Center. For more information, e-mail Mark Kramer - mark@abnc.org .

Fighting fuel scams: “Gas-saving” products

No government agency, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has endorsed or approved any gas-saving products or devices (including gas pills), so be skeptical of such claims.

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 24, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN – High gasoline prices have led many Texas consumers to consider the use of "gas-saving" products. Consumers should be cautious about automotive devices or gas additives that claim to save money or improve fuel efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested many of these products and devices to determine whether their use will result in any significant improvement to fuel economy and found the savings to be small, if any.

Several different products are available on the market today. For instance, air bleed devices allow air to feed into the carburetor. Vapor bleed devices are similar, bubbling inducted air through a water and anti-freeze mixture that is held in a container within the engine compartment. Water injection devices inject a solution into the engine and pump the fluid into the engine's air intake system.

Some products claim to heat the fuel before it enters the carburetor. Fuel additives are poured directly into the gas tank to improve the performance of your vehicle. Some devices claim to modify the operation of certain vehicle components, while other products claim to change the molecular structure of gasoline.

Points to remember:
Gas-saving products and devices

To file a complaint with the Attorney General of Texas:
(800) 252-8011
www.oag.state.tx.us

For information about EPA test procedures and test results:
(734) 214-4925
www.epa.gov/otaq/consumer.htm

For additional information on fuel prices and gas mileage tips:
www.fueleconomy.gov/

Federal Trade Commission
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-800-382-4357)
www.ftc.gov/

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

In May 2006, my office filed a lawsuit against BioPerformance, Inc., a Texas-based company that marketed a "top secret gas pill" it falsely claimed would drastically improve fuel efficiency by 30 percent or more and cut harmful emissions by up to 50 percent. This lawsuit was later settled out of court.

Laboratory tests conducted by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and at a Florida university concluded the pill was little more than a mothball. Experts also found that the product could actually decrease engine performance. At start-up costs of between $300 and $500, BioPerformance sponsors were encouraged to purchase the pills in bulk and then recruit others to become dealers in an illegal pyramid scheme that has defrauded consumers around the country.

From ignition control devices to fuel line heaters to pressure regulators, all of these different gas-saving products attempt to control the mix and delivery of fuel to the engine in an effort to improve consumption. The terminology can be confusing and deceptive, pointing to the need for consumers to be extremely cautious.

Be wary of ads that claim a product can improve gas mileage by high percentage margins, and be skeptical of commercials that show allegedly " satisfied customers" who claim that their gas mileage increased due to the use of a certain device. These claims can be misleading or even completely fabricated. Most consumers do not have the means to accurately test the impact of such products on gas mileage. The condition of the car, the roads and the weather are all variable factors that can affect fuel economy.

Installing these products and devices on your vehicle could cause your manufacturer warranty to be voided, because they are not considered factory equipment. Also, long-term use of such products may damage your vehicle.

No government agency has endorsed any gas-saving products or devices, so be skeptical of such claims. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission notes several practical steps consumers can take on their own to improve fuel efficiency and combat the high cost of fuel.

The simplest way to improve fuel economy is to practice sensible driving. Excessive braking and acceleration, speeding and other aggressive driving habits can negatively affect gas mileage.

Avoid unnecessary idling, which wastes fuel and pollutes the air. Keep your engine tuned, your tires properly inflated, and your oil changed to save fuel and keep your car operating better and longer.

We are all concerned about the rising cost of fuel and its effect on consumers. Some gas-saving products and devices may work, but consumers should remember they can take easy steps on their own to help reduce the amount of fuel they use. If you have encountered a deceptive or fraudulent gas-saving product or device, do not hesitate to contact my office.

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.


The information below was primarily developed from resources from the Attorney General's Office about this matter, especially the judgement for which a link is provided:

• EPA registration does not mean EPA approval nor does it guarantee safety.

• Ask if an EPA approved or referenced U.S. lab did the tests?

• Were federal tests and protocols used? Get the test results.

• Do emissions test results provide the name of each chemical, the amount of reduction and the percent reduction for each component tested?

• If your catalytic converter was damaged how would you prove that the gas pill or other additive did the damage since state emissions testing is only done once a year?

• The BioPerformance gas pills were EPA registered. Tests run by scientists at the University of Texas in Austin and a Florida university showed that BioPerformance gas pills were both ineffective and toxic.

Government - Bioperformance Gas Pills: Agreed Final Judgement and Permanent Injunction"A 1,054 kb pdf file.

Government - Attorney General Abbott shuts down pyramid scheme that marketed bogus"fuel pill"

Government - Fighting fuel scams: “Gas-saving” products


Attorney General Abbott shuts down pyramid scheme that marketed bogus "fuel pill"

BioPerformance ordered to return more than $7 million to victims of pyramid scheme

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 24, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN (January 23, 2007) –Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Jan. 23 stopped a Dallas-based pyramid scheme from illegally marketing the so-called "top secret gas pill" that it falsely claimed would increase fuel efficiency in automobiles. The Attorney General's settlement with BioPerformance and its owners, Lowell Mims and Gustavo Romero, prevents the defendants from continuing to deceptively market their products and ends the State's eight-month legal action against the company.

A combination of the defendants' frozen assets and the dissolution of two trusts created by Mims and Romero will provide more than $7 million in compensation to deceived consumers. Mims and Romero may continue to operate any legitimate enterprise, but may not deceptively market BioPerformance pills or similar fuel additive products.

"Swift legal action stopped this cynical, brazen scheme to defraud consumers," said Attorney General Abbott. "With gasoline prices hitting record highs, these defendants aggressively marketed their worthless product as a wonder-cure. Sadly, these do-nothing pills were merely the tools of an elaborate pyramid scheme that enriched the sellers while buyers were left with empty hands and empty wallets."

Attorney General Abbott added: "Texans will not tolerate con artists who prey upon unsuspecting consumers. Though we will continue aggressively cracking down on fraudulent pyramid schemes that profiteer from worthless products, consumers should always be dubious when offered 'miracle' products that are long on hype but short on credible proof."

Last May, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against BioPerformance that accused the company of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to court filings, BioPerformance repeatedly and falsely claimed that its fuel pills could improve vehicular fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent while also reducing engine emissions by 50 percent. BioPerformance also sold its fuel additive in powder form.

The Attorney General further alleged that the worthless product, combined with the defendants' downline marketing scheme, constitutes a product-based pyramid scheme, which violates the Texas Pyramid Promotional Scheme statute. By the defendants' own admission, they recruited 50,000 participants within six months of their scheme's inception.

Just months after BioPerformance's creation in 2005, the Office of the Attorney General received reports that Mims and Romero were making false claims about their product.

Appearing before standing-room-only crowds at seminars they organized across the country, Mims and Romero touted their products' capacity to significantly increase fuel efficiency and reduce vehicle emissions. At the seminars, the defendants' true purpose was to recruit product resellers who were charged several hundred dollars to join the scheme. Those newly minted resellers were subsequently instructed to recruit additional resellers and thus create a "downline" from which they could derive commissions.

BioPerformance's extensive Web site made similar unsubstantiated claims about product's capabilities, often referring to it as a "top secret formula" that was only available through company resellers. The site also reiterated defendants' sales pitches, promising potential resellers that selling the pills and recruiting others to do the same would reap them substantial fortunes.

To aid its investigation, the Office of the Attorney General retained respected scientific experts whose chemical analysis not only revealed that the defendants' pills did not significantly reduce fuel consumption, but also exposed naphthalene, a substance also used in moth balls, as their main ingredient. Although the defendants claimed that the pills were "non-toxic," "good for the environment," and "extremely safe...in all aspects of use," naphthalene is a toxin.

The State also determined that BioPerformance resellers credited with recruiting additional downline sellers were paid substantially higher commissions than were those who actually sold the company's products. Such a marketing and recruitment scheme is often indicative of a pyramid scheme.

Further evidence of a pyramid scheme was provided by Romero, the company's Vice President and Co-Founder, who admitted to selling BioPerformance for as much as $50 a bottle, despite its comparatively low $4 manufacturing cost. The defendants' dramatic markup on their worthless product, coupled with their downline marketing strategy, indicate they were organizing an elaborate, illegal, and unsustainable pyramid scheme.

In the coming weeks, the Office of the Attorney General will review consumer complaints and other data to determine how it will administer the resources available for consumer restitution. Consumers with questions or who wish to file a complaint can call 1-800-252-8011 (for callers within Texas) or (512) 463-2100 (for callers outside Texas). Complaint forms are also available online at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General Abbott shuts down pyramid scheme that marketed bogus"fuel pill"

Clear Springs High Summer Sports Camp information

Clear Springs facilities are ready for student activities

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

May 24, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – CLEAR SPRINGS GIRL’S ATHLETICS
BASKETBALL CAMP – Cost $85.00
LOCATION: CLEAR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL GYM
DATE: JUNE 4 – 7
SESSION I – Entering 4TH – 6TH graders /Time: 8:00 – 12:00 noon
SESSION II – Entering 7TH – 9TH graders / Time: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Contact and cost information: Coach Pam Crawford, pcrawfor@ccisd.net

VOLLEYBALL CAMP – Cost $100.00
LOCATION: CLEAR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL GYM
DATE: JULY 23 – 27
SESSION I - Entering 4th – 6th graders / Time: 9:00 – 12:00 noon
SESSION II – Entering 7th - 9th graders / Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Contact and cost information: Coach Rhonda Rust, rustrhonda@hotmail.com

CLEAR SPRINGS BOY’S/GIRL’S STRENGTH & CONDITIONING – TO MAKE BETTER ATHLETES
INCOMING 9TH AND 10TH GRADERS ATTENDING CLEAR SPRINGS – Cost $50.00
1 HR. LIFTING/1 HR. CONDITIONING
LOCATION: CLEAR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL
DATE: JUNE 11 – JULY 26 (OFF DURING WEEK OF JULY 4TH)
SESSION TIMES: 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Contact and cost information: Coach Pam Crawford, pcrawfor@ccisd.net – Girl’s
Coach Clint Hartman, chartman@ccisd.net – Boy’s

CLEAR SPRINGS BOY’S ATHLETICS
BASEBALL CAMP - Cost $75.00
LOCATION: CLEAR CREEK HIGH SCHOOL
DATE: MAY 28 – 31
ENTERING 7TH, 8TH, 9th graders/TIME: 8:00 – 12:00 noon
Contact and cost information: Coach James Floyd, jfloyd@ccisd.net

BASKETBALL CAMP – Cost $85.00
LOCATION: CLEAR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL GYM
DATE: JUNE 11 – 14
SESSION I – Entering 5th 6th 7th graders/Time: 8:00 – 12:00 noon
SESSION II – Entering 8th 9th graders/Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Contact and cost information: Coach Chris Johnson, chrisjohnson_5@yahoo.com

FOOTBALL CAMP – Cost $75.00
LOCATION: CLEAR SPRINGS HIGH SCHOOL
DATE: JULY 16 – 19
SESSION I – Entering 3rd – 6th graders/Time: 8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
SESSION II – Entering 7th – 9th graders/Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Contact and cost information: Coach Clint Hartman, chartman@ccisd.net

To Be Announced – Softball, Boy’s/Girl’s Soccer, Boy’s/Girl’s Golf

Photo credit: CCISD

CCISD - Clear Springs High Summer Sports Camp information

Kids U offers summer fun

University reports on the progress during the past year

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 24, 2007

HOUSTON— Classes are filling fast at University of Houston-Clear Lake School of Education’s Kids U. This educational summer camp is brimming with activities that excite, educate, and yes, even entertain the most resistant of kids. Whether science, math, technology, writing or language, kids find these specially designed summer classes stimulating and fun.

At iCamp, the Children’s Technology Workshop, kids explore the flip side of video games – not how to play them, but how to design them, and new this year – designing in 3-D. Other mind-expanding adventures include exploring the world of engineering and robotics, animation and digital video production, graphic design and digital art.

Hollywood comes to Houston via the Kids U Technology and Math Camp, featuring classes in “Claymation,” “Create Your Own Game Show,” “Digital Storytelling” and “Desktop Publishing.” Or your child can learn the game of Chess on a life-size chess board! Kids design robots, write computer programs, design Web pages and create digital masterpieces.

The Young Writers Camp will coax the muse out of any budding poet. Creativity abounds as students explore poetry through an interactive Web site, learn poetic rhythm using music and discover the magic of bringing their poems to life. Courses are available for all ages from the youngest of writers to the older, including college bound students seeking to refine writing skills through the SAT Writing Preparation course.

Back by popular demand, World Explorers Camp opens youthful eyes to the importance and means of actively participating in the issues and concerns of our local communities. “CSI: Citizens Should Investigate” is designed to show young citizens that everyone, even kids, play a role in community affairs. In “History’s Mysteries – Famous American Heroes,” kids explore the extraordinary difference “ordinary” citizens like Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglass, among others can make. “Lemon-Aid Stand” – open a lemonade stand and help the world. Kids learn the vital connection between business and community while raising funds for a charitable organization. “Oral Histories” provides hands-on experience and a wide range of technology for young historians to capture, document and produce - a la Ken Burns - their family’s unique history, culture or special events.

Kids U Language Camp can open a child’s mind to the global world. It has been proven that young children can master language more easily than adults. Kids U is excited to present its first offering of “Arabic for Kids.” This is a beginner level class that is light and interesting. And of course, the ever popular “Spanish for Kids” is back, and popular as ever.

Not all science takes place under a microscope, though there is plenty of that, too, at the Kids U Science Camp. Whether Einstein or Muir, sessions offer several choices to meet any child’s interest. From “Kitchen Chemistry” to “Concoctions and Commotion to Grossology,” from “Baby Animals to Critter Camp to Woodlore,” this camp is filled with fun activities and exciting ways to explore and study our natural world – both inside and out, literally. Kids work in labs, investigate physics, and cook up some strange dishes, or explore nature up close and personal through field trips and nature hikes. Instructors include geologists, field biologists, naturalists and wildlife rehabilitators.

The Gifted Academy offers classes focusing on such topics as scientific reasoning and leadership that challenge children who demonstrate accelerated learning capabilities.

Kids U is primarily designed for kids currently in kindergarten through eight-grade. There are a few pre-school classes offered through Science Camp, and a SAT preparatory course is offered for older, students.

For more detailed course and schedule information please visit http://kidsu.uhcl.edu. Courses are held throughout the summer with sessions usually running for one week beginning mid-June. Registration for summer 2007 has begun. Enrollment will continue Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., until classes are filled. Registration may be completed online. For more information, call Joyce Young at 281-283-3530.

Higher Education - Kids U offers summer fun

Gov. Perry addressed more than 1,000 new citizens in Austin’s largest naturalization ceremony in history

High School Chamber Orchestra played America the Beautiful and God Bless America

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

May 24, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry May 11 delivered the keynote address to more than 1,000 new American citizens at the largest naturalization ceremony in Austin’s history. Hosted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lee Yeakel, a total of 1,023 Austin and Waco area residents representing 85 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens.

“Today marks the culmination of a great journey for more than one thousand new American citizens,” said Gov. Perry. “I am proud to call these individuals my fellow countrymen. From this day on, we will live, work and fight for one another, as one nation under God.”

The ceremony featured performances by the Stephen F. Austin High School Chamber Orchestra of America the Beautiful and God Bless America. The orchestra’s teacher and conductor Ana Maria Solis-Herrera, a native of Mexico who immigrated to the United States in 2003, became a U.S. citizen during the ceremony. Following the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, the crowd of more than 1,600 placed their hands over their hearts to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

“You are now part of a nation which cherishes liberty and equality above all things,” Perry said. “We are a nation founded by immigrants. And a nation proud to be Americans.”

Last year, more than 700,000 new Americans were sworn in as U.S. citizens in ceremonies around the nation. Since September 11, 2001, USCIS has naturalized more than 26,000 members of the United States military. Today, more than 1,093,000 Texans are naturalized citizens.

Government - Gov. Perry addressed more than 1,000 new citizens in Austin’s largest naturalization ceremony in history

Cornyn: Water Resources, Infrastructure Bill Long Overdue

Calls on Senate to pass bill to provide important resources for flood control, navigation, other infrastructure in Texas

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

May 24, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, made the following statement May 10 regarding the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill authorizes funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out several important infrastructure initiatives, including flood control, navigation and environmental restoration. The Senate voted 89-7 this morning to move WRDA forward for debate, which will take place in the coming days.

“This bill will provide resources for several important infrastructure initiatives in Texas , including flood control, waterway navigation and environmental restoration, such as wetlands and other wildlife habitats. It will particularly benefit Texas ports and coastal cities, including Beaumont , Corpus Christi , Galveston , Houston and others. After delaying for more than seven years, Congress should pass this long overdue authorization bill.

“Among the most important projects in the bill are the flood control and prevention measures, including in Harris County and the Dallas - Fort Worth area. These efforts will protect Texans and their homes. They will also help safeguard critical infrastructure in our local communities, keeping damage to a minimum and protecting the economy.

“This legislation also includes initiatives to widen and extend some of our state’s coastal waterways, such as the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. This is important for our commerce and economic growth, but also for strategic national defense purposes.

“I’ll work with my colleagues on areas where this bill may be improved, including making the Corps of Engineers more fiscally responsible. Congress should work in a bipartisan manner to pass a bill that meets our critical infrastructure needs.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn: Water Resources, Infrastructure Bill Long Overdue

Gardening - COOL SPRING WEATHER CAN AFFECT TOMATOES

Religion - Relay Race of Life


Older News: May 15, 2007


Texas teens: Beware of summer job scams

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 15, 2007

Points to remember:
Summer job tips

Be wary of unsolicited job offers that arrive through E-mail.

Verify the identifying information of the company with which you are applying, ncluding telephone numbers, fax numbers, and main address.

Do not trust offers from outside the area, especially overseas.

Never trust a company or individual that requires you to pay fees up-front to find work.

Be wary of requests for sensitive personal information.

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN – With the school year winding down, thousands of Texas teenagers will start looking for summer jobs. Teens can gain valuable skills and build a solid work ethic from part-time or seasonal employment. Whether saving for college, helping with the family budget, or simply earning some extra spending money, summer jobs provide valuable experience to teen Texans.

When considering a summer job, parents and teens alike should be cautious of employment scams. If an offer sounds "too good to be true," it usually is. Some prospective employers target teens for work that involves long hours and minimal pay or benefits.

For example, some traveling sales crews recruit teens to sell magazines or other products door-to-door, in parking lots or local strip malls. While many of these are legitimate businesses, some organizations falsely claim to be charities, inviting teens to work for a social cause, like the environment or a scholarship drive.

Crew bosses attract teens with fliers promising a fun job, travel, new friends, parties, prizes, and above all: money. The reality of a traveling sales crew is usually much different. Teens often work at night with no adult supervision, travel in cramped passenger vans and peddle magazine subscriptions in unfamiliar neighborhoods across the country. Despite 16-hour days and no benefits, the money teens earn from subscription sales is often siphoned off by crew leaders for meals, lodging, and other expenses.

Teens who join traveling sales crews are often employed as "independent contractors," which allows crew bosses to escape most labor regulations and other protections. As a result, these young workers can be held liable for neglecting to charge sales tax, making false claims about a product or operating without a permit.

Teens should also be wary of classified ads looking for "mystery shoppers." This scheme has cost un-suspecting job hunters thousands of dollars. After responding to the ad, job seekers receive a cashier's check and a letter of congratulations instructing the job seeker to send the money to an address out of the country. The checks turn out to be bogus, and victims have difficulty recouping their losses.

Internet job offers should also be approached with caution, particularly if they are unsolicited offers from unknown senders. With the advent of social networking sites, millions of teens are online every day. Just as an online predator can pose as a 14-year-old child, a scam artist posing as an employment recruiter or potential employer can exploit online teens.

Online scammers pitch attractive employment opportunities that usually contain some variation of the same hook: the job seeker must first either pay in advance for out-of-pocket expenses or provide sensitive personal information like bank account numbers or social security numbers. Requirements like these should send up a red flag to any job hunter that this may be a job scam. Note, however, that federal law requires employers to collect employees' social security numbers, so even reputable companies will require that information from their employees.

Thousands of summer jobs will be available to Texas teens in the coming weeks, and most of those will be legitimate work opportunities. Teens should beware, however, of any offers that include high-pressure sales pitches, advance fees or offers from unfamiliar companies or organizations. Offers that sound "too good to be true" usually are!

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Texas teens: Beware of summer job scams

CCISD - Rocketry Team of CLHS 2007 image

Clear Lake High School Rocketry team members Michael Pontikos, freshman; Djordje Mirkovic, junior; Eric Hansen, freshman; Will Slaughter, freshman; and Kade Butler, freshman are travelling to Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia this week to compete in a national contest, the Team America Rocketry Challenge May 19.

Clear Lake team competes in the world’s largest rocket contest this week

National fly-off at the Team America Rocketry Challenge will be held in Virginia on May 19

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

May 15, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Five Clear Lake High School students have qualified and will compete in the finals of the prestigious Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world’s largest model rocket contest May 19.

Nearly 7,000 students in 850 teams attempted to meet the rigorous requirements of the contest, but only the top scoring 100 teams qualified to compete in the national contest.

Student team members include Michael Pontikos, freshman; Djordje Mirkovic, junior; Eric Hansen, freshman; Will Slaughter, freshman; and Kade Butler, freshman. Michael Pontikos said that he was looking forward to the team’s Virginia trip to Great Meadow in The Plains, for the May 19 national fly-off and expected that his team would do quite well.

The most difficult problem to overcome, Pontikos said, was finalizing the rocket design and finding the resources for test flights. The best part about this contest, said Djordje Mirkovic, an exchange student from Serbia, was the chance to meet rocket teams from across the country and visit Washington D.C.

The contest requires that students design, build and test a model rocket that can fly for as

  • 45 seconds total flight duration - as close as possible

  • 850 feet maximum flight altitude - as close as possible

  • with a payload of one raw egg and

  • successfully parachute the egg back to the ground unbroken

English teacher Jane Sample and Math teacher Neil Jeffrey, the CLHS team supervisors, said the contest is an excellent opportunity for students to learn hands-on lessons in aerodynamics in a non-classroom setting. Participants apply concepts of physics like computing trajectory and eliminating drag to their models and see the results immediately. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing things that you have learned are helping launch something into the sky! This brings these concepts home to the real world for the students.

The project had the team building rockets in a manner not too far off from professionals. The contest promotes teamwork, delegation of tasks and group decisions, Sample and Jeffrey said.

Photo credit: CCISD

CCISD - Clear Lake team qualifies for world’s largest rocket contest

Higher Ed - Faculty & Staff Awards Presentation picture

Three University of Houston-Clear Lake faculty members received top honors during the annual Faculty & Staff Awards Presentation. Pictured (l to r) are Senior Vice President and Provost Edward J. Hayes; Professor of Literature Gretchen Mieszkowski, recipient of the Distinguished Research Award; Associate Professor of Management Information Systems Van Etnyre, recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award; Associate Professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education Judith Marquez, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award; and President William A. Staples.

UH-Clear Lake recognizes faculty, staff accomplishments

University reports on the progress during the past year

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 15, 2007

HOUSTON—University of Houston-Clear Lake President William A. Staples and other administrators praised and recognized numerous faculty and staff at the 29th Annual Faculty & Staff Luncheon in early April. The event not only recognizes employees’ years of service with the university but also outstanding faculty and staff.

Ninety-eight faculty and staff were recognized with service awards for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service. In addition, 11 members of the UH-Clear Lake family who retired during the past year were also honored. Staples read each name as well as a brief description of the retiree’s duties while at the university.

“The 11 faculty and staff retirees recognized today represent more than 269 years of service to UH-Clear Lake,” said Staples.

In keeping with the traditional format of the luncheon, Staples announced the individuals being honored with the 2007 staff merit awards. Those recognized included Cathy Bye, a functional analyst in the Budget Office; Flossie DeSouza, library assistant in the Alfred R. Neumann Library; and Celio Chapa Sr., grounds specialist in Facilities Management and Construction.

“It is an honor to express appreciation and congratulations to each of you,” said Staples. “You represent the very best among our staff.”

Office of the President Administrative Assistant Vera Garcia received the 2007 Hugh P. Avery Prize – The President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award. Staples announced the award by reading an excerpt from the nomination letter sent on Garcia’s behalf.

“This person consistently goes ‘above and beyond’ in completing her day-to-day job responsibilities and in volunteering to lead special projects in the office and in the university,” read Staples. “One example of her leadership is her role in bringing the Texas Educational Support Staff Association’s training and development program for staff to UH-Clear Lake.

“This individual has a strong work ethic, has been here almost 20 years and earned her bachelor’s degree at UH-Clear Lake in 2006. In all this, she fully exemplifies the ideals set forth for the Hugh P. Avery Prize.”

Three faculty members were honored for their work. Staples noted that faculty can only be nominated by faculty for the President’s Distinguished Faculty Awards, which recognize that those honored are highly regarded in their profession among their peers.

Associate Professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education Judith Marquez received the 2007 Distinguished Service Award. Marquez’s extensive work with bilingual education has included work on the state and national level. Staples referred to her involvement in creating the Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas, Texas Examination of Educator Standards and Texas Oral Proficiency Test.

“At the national level, she is credited for the revival of the higher education special interest group for the National Association of Bilingual Educators, which has ultimately resulted in a half-day institute,” said Staples. “She has been the subject editor for the Journal of Intercultural Disciplines and the Journal for the National Association of African American Studies Affiliates and an associate editor of the TABE Journal – the Journal for the Texas Association of Bilingual Educators.”

Professor of Literature Gretchen Mieszkowski received the Distinguished Research Award. A charter faculty member, Mieszkowski is a past recipient of the President’s Distinguished Service Award. Her primary area of research and publication is medieval literature, and she served as the inaugural speaker for the scholarly research lecture series established by Provost Edward J. Hayes.

“Her field is a very difficult field in which to publish because of all the languages required,” said Staples. “Her latest book, ‘Medieval Go-Betweens and Chaucer’s Pandarus,’ took her three decades and contains research done in Latin, French (Old and Modern), German, Italian and English including various older dialects and modern English.”

Staples presented the final award of the ceremony, the Distinguished Teaching Award, to Associate Professor of Management Information Systems Vance Etnyre. Etnyre’s nomination for the award included several student letters.

“These letters reinforce and echo the sentiment of his colleagues, that his commitment to student learning and teaching excellence make him very deserving of this recognition,” said Staples. “His colleagues describe him as ‘a selfless individual, always prepared to accommodate the needs of the management information systems program.’”

All UH-Clear Lake faculty, staff and administration were invited to attend the event, which concluded with a buffet lunch.

Photo credit: UHCL

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake recognizes faculty, staff accomplishments

Attorney General Abbott cracks down on identity theft; takes action against pawn shop chain for exposing records

Investigators found evidence of improper document dumping at more than a dozen EZPAWN locations around the state, including stores in Austin, Houston, Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 15, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureSAN ANTONIO–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took legal action May 8 against Texas-based EZCORP Inc., and its subsidiary, EZPAWN, for systematically exposing its customers to identity theft. According to documents filed by the Attorney General, EZCORP violated the law by repeatedly failing to protect customer records that contain sensitive personal information.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General discovered that several San Antonio EZPAWN stores exposed customers' personal identifying information by discarding business records in easily accessible trash cans behind the stores. According to investigators, the records included promissory notes and bank statements that contained names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers, and checking account information.

"Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States," Attorney General Abbott said. "Texans expect their personal information to remain confidential. The Office of the Attorney General will take all necessary steps to protect consumers from identity thieves."

Investigators also found evidence of similar instances of improper document dumping at a dozen other EZPAWN locations around the state, including stores in Austin, Houston, Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley.

The defendants are accused of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires the safeguarding and proper destruction of clients' sensitive personal information. Under the law, the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to seek penalties of up to $25,000 per violation of the DTPA and $50,000 per violation of the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act.

The Attorney General also charged EZCORP and EZPAWN with violating Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients' personal information. The law provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for each abandoned record.

The Office of the Attorney General is investigating whether any exposed data has been used illegally. Consumers who interacted with EZPAWN stores should carefully monitor bank, credit card and any similar statements for evidence of suspicious activity. Customers should also obtain free copies of their credit reports.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or do so online at www.oag.state.tx.us, where they can also obtain information on identity theft detection and prevention.

Today's legal action against EZCORP is the Office of the Attorney General's fifth identity theft enforcement action in recent weeks. In April, Attorney General Abbott took legal action against CVS/pharmacy and RadioShack Corporation for exposing hundreds of customers to identity theft by failing to properly dispose of records that contained sensitive information. In March, the Attorney General filed an enforcement action against Jones Beauty College in Dallas for improperly discarding student financial aid forms with Social Security numbers and other personal information. Also in March, Attorney General Abbott took legal action against On Track Modeling, a North Carolina-based talent agency that abruptly shut down its Grand Prairie office and abandoned more than 60 boxes containing hundreds of confidential client records.

Government - Attorney General Abbott cracks down on identity theft; takes action against pawn shop chain for exposing records

Cornyn: we must clear hurdles for troops’ and veterans’ benefits

Participates in hearing of bipartisan “Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors” in San Antonio

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

May 15, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, delivered opening remarks at a hearing of the Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors in San Antonio May 4. Sen. Cornyn focused on ways to improve the delivery of health care and benefits, including reducing bureaucratic hurdles, for our military and veterans.

“We must do whatever it takes, including providing both the necessary resources and cutting bureaucratic red tape, to best provide the medical care and other benefits to those who defend our nation’s freedom,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Our nation has an obligation and duty to ensure that the men and women who are serving, and have served, in America ’s military are receiving the best treatment and benefits for themselves and their families. We cannot, and should not, tolerate anything less.”

President Bush established the bipartisan panel earlier this year to conduct a comprehensive review of care provided to America ’s wounded warriors, including active duty soldiers and veterans. It is co-chaired by former Sen. Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.

This is the commission’s first hearing outside Washington , D.C. Its focus is on traumatic brain injury, patient rehabilitation, state veterans benefits and private sector initiatives on behalf of veterans.

“Congress must place a top priority on ensuring that our soldiers are getting access to the best care possible—and are not subjected to unnecessary, bureaucratic obstacles,” Sen. Cornyn said. “The sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make every day must not be forgotten when they take off their uniforms. No veteran should ever be left behind. The agreement between our men and women in uniform and our government does not end when a service member is wounded or becomes a veteran.”

Sen. Cornyn returned to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio last month to thank military families and provide them with an update on his efforts to address concerns they and others have raised regarding delivery of health care.

Sen. Cornyn introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Housing Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 as a direct result of conversations with wounded soldiers and their families, including military wife, Christy Patton, and mother, Rosie Babin. This bill will provide tangible assistance to wounded military service members and their families, particularly burn victims.

An independent panel, the Independent Review Group, chaired by former Secretaries of the Army Jack Marsh and Togo West, released a report recently with a specific finding and recommendation that the law should be updated to meet the needs of those with unique disabilities and burn victims, as Sen. Cornyn’s legislation is intended to do. In addition, a report released by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nicholson reinforces the importance of the specific reforms included in Sen. Cornyn’s bill.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn: we must clear hurdles for troops’ and veterans’ benefits

Nature Center fund raiser set for Saturday

AD picture

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Armand Bayou Nature Center
8500 Bay Area Boulevard

6 p.m.
Drinks, Live Music, and Silent Auction Open

7:30 p.m.
All-You-Can-Eat Crawfish and Catfish Dinner

8:30 p.m.
Live Auction

9:15 p.m.
Dancing to the Romeo Dogs

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Tables of eight $1200 to $5,000
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For more information, please call
832-673-0860 or e-mail us at
annsevents@sbcglobal.net to get tickets by credit card, or

Click here for Bayou Boil Reservation Form

Armand Bayou Nature Center’s Bayou Boil will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. May 19

May 15, 2007

The date has been set for this year’s Bayou Boil, a dinner-dance-auction extravaganza held annually to raise funds for Armand Bayou Nature Center. On Saturday, May 19, 2007, around 500 guests will support ABNC’s mission to “Reconnect People with Nature” by attending the 2007 Bayou Boil.

This year, ABNC is proud to have Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia of Harris County Precinct Two serve as the Honorary Chairperson of the event. Commissioner Gardica will be represented by Deputy Commissioner of Operations Judson Robinson. Robinson is also a member of the Houston City Council.

Guests will be treated to a fun-filled evening (6:00-10:00 p.m.) with an all-you-can-eat catfish and crawfish dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing to the Romeo Dogs.

ABNC is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 wilderness preserve and environmental educational center. It is located at 8500 Bay Area Boulevard. For more information, please call 281.474.5221 or visit ABNC online at www.abnc.org.

Nature - Nature Center fund raiser set for Saturday, May 19

Gardening - Fruit Orchard & Garden Tour May 19

Religion - Keeping Pace With The Soul

Older News: May 8, 2007


Vote for the CCISD Board of Trustees on May 12

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

May 8, 2007

CCISD - School Board President Bob Davee image
Board President
Bob Davee

LEAGUE CITY – Robert Allan Davee, District 1 Trustee and current Board President, is unopposed.

Ken Baliker, appointed last fall to fill the unexpired term vacated by former trustee Glenn Freedman, is also unopposed for District 3.

For at large Position B, Ann Hammond is running against Mary Brown.

Voters may cast ballots in the trustee election at any of the early voting sites as well as on May 12, 2007 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all voting locations.

Photo credit: CCISD

CCISD - Vote for the CCISD Board of Trustees on May 12

Higher Ed - Piper finalists picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake Associate Professor of Biology Larry Rohde (seated, far left) was selected as the 2006-07 nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Professor Program from a group of seven finalists. Pictured are the finalists with UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples (standing, far left) including (standing l to r) Lecturer in Communication and Manager of Student Publications Taleen Washington; Associate Professor of Art History Vivian Atwater; Associate Professor of Psychology Sharon Hall; Assistant Professor of History Barbara Hales; (sitting, l to r) Rohde; Lecturer in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Wei Ding; and Professor of Decision Sciences Ken Black.

UH-Clear Lake announces Piper nominee

The Piper award is given for commitment to teaching excellence and noteworthy contributions

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 8, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake Associate Professor of Biology Larry Rohde was selected as the UH-Clear Lake 2006-07 nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, a non-profit, charitable corporation that began in 1950, recognizes 15 professors from around the state of Texas each year for their dedication to the teaching profession and outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. Each college or university in the state of Texas may submit only one nomination regardless of the size of the student enrollment.

Rohde joined the UH-Clear Lake faculty in 1999 after a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in genetics development biology, tissue culture and genomics sequencing as well as oversees the analysis laboratory and molecular biology laboratory. He was instrumental in the university’s establishment of the Master of Science in Biotechnology, a degree he believed was necessary because of the university’s location in the biotech corridor between University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

“Dr. Rohde worked very hard in establishing this very important new degree program at UH-Clear Lake ,” said UH-Clear Lake School of Science and Computer Engineering Interim Dean Sadegh Davari. “In addition to serving as the founding chair of our biotechnology program, Dr. Rohde has also been very successful in his research work.”

Rohde’s research includes work with the p53 tumor suppressor. He has received numerous awards and scholarships for his work including a three-year $208,513 award from the National Institute of Health-National Cancer Institute and a two-year $40,000 joint award with his NASA co-investigator, Radiobiologist and Laboratory Manager Honglu Wu from Johnson Space Center ’s Institute for Space Station Operations.

“I was elated and surprised to find out that first, I was a finalist, and second, that I would be the university’s nominee,” said Rohde. “This is a tremendous honor to be nominated by my students.”

Rohde was chosen from seven finalists. Other UH-Clear Lake finalists included Lecturer in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Wei Ding, Lecturer in Communication and Manager of Student Publications Taleen Washington ; Assistant Professor of History Barbara Hales; Associate Professor of Psychology Sharon Hall; Associate Professor of Art History Vivian Atwater; and Professor of Decision Sciences Ken Black.

Official announcement of candidates chosen by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Selection Committee to receive the awards will be made May 1, 2007. They will receive certificates naming them “Piper Professors of 2006, ” as well as a cash honoraria of $5,000.

Photo credit: UHCL

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake announces Piper nominee

Government - Cocaine drink picture
Sales of Cocaine Drink halted by Dallas County District Court while Attorney General Abbott seeks a temporary injunction.

Attorney General Abbott halts unlawful marketing of cocaine drink

Temporary restraining order protects consumers against product marketed as street drug alternative

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 8, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureDALLAS–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott May 2 filed a legal action against a Nevada company and its three Texas distributors for the marketing and selling of an energy drink as an unapproved drug, claiming it is a "legal alternative" to illicit street drugs.

The Dallas County District Court issued a temporary restraining order halting all Texas marketing and distribution of the drink, "Cocaine." Redux Beverages touts the canned drink as "speed in a can" and "liquid cocaine," with "warnings" that consumers who drink the product may succumb to "excess excitement, stamina, fun and possible feelings of euphoria."

"Texans will not tolerate the peddling of unapproved drugs," said Attorney General Abbott. "This advertising campaign entices young people with illegal drug references and false claims of health benefits. The Office of Attorney General will continue to aggressively enforce this state's consumer protection laws to ensure that Texans will not be deceived by the marketing of unapproved drugs."

A temporary injunction hearing in the case is set for Wednesday, May 16, at 9:30 a.m. in the 44th District Court of Dallas County.

The Texas Department of State Health Services recently detained a large quantity of the drink, valued at almost $200,000, at several warehouse locations in the Dallas area. The agency then referred the case to the Office of Attorney General for legal action.

In a warning letter issued to Redux, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted that because the company markets Cocaine as an alternative to street drugs, including claims that it mimics the effects of recreational drugs, then Redux cannot also promote the product as a dietary supplement. Furthermore, the FDA considers street drug alternatives to be unapproved new drugs that are prohibited in the marketplace.

According to the Attorney General's filing, the company's claims that users can get high and feel euphoric make the product a drug, yet the FDA has not approved it for use as a drug. Without scientific proof as required by the FDA, the company also makes health claims that Cocaine lowers cholesterol, prevents hardening of the arteries, protects nerve fibers from glucose damage, and may be used in the treatment of depression or anxiety.

The Attorney General brings this action under the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which allow for penalties, respectively, of up to $25,000 and $20,000 per violation.

Government - Attorney General Abbott halts unlawful marketing of cocaine drink

Attorney General Abbott urges teens to stay alcohol-free during prom / graduation season

Encourages Austin students to "Make the Right Choice" against underage drinking

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 8, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN– Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today encouraged young Texans to "Make the Right Choice" and stay alcohol-free during the upcoming prom and graduation season.

During a visit to Crockett High School, General Abbott, along with activists Brandon and Tony Silveria, warned students about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking. At the age of 17, Brandon Silveria was severely disabled in an alcohol-related automobile crash. Brandon's father, Tony, encouraged students and parents to engage in frank, open discussions about the risks of underage drinking.

"With young Texans all across the state gathering for prom and graduation celebrations, parents and educators must keep them safe and alcohol-free," Attorney General Abbott said. "Though each May is filled with time-honored celebrations, it is far too often marked by tragedy. Thanks to Brandon and Tony Silveria, we are able to share an important, life-saving message with high school students."

Brandon Silveria shared his own compelling story with Crockett students. Just days before his high school prom, Brandon drove home after consuming alcohol at a party and was nearly killed in a car crash. He spent three months in a coma and several years in rehabilitation. Today, he still suffers from a permanent brain injury and walking disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranks alcohol as the leading drug problem among the nation's youth, killing more young people than all drugs combined. In 2006, four out of 10 high school seniors participating in a University of Michigan study reported drinking alcohol in the past month. According federal statistics, Texas remains one of the deadliest states in the nation when it comes to alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

Brandon and Tony Silveria's presentation was conducted in partnership with the Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to minimizing drunk driving and underage drinking.

"In Texas in 2005, the FBI reported that 1,211 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence; 5,137 youths were arrested for liquor law violations; and 3,350 youths were arrested for drunkenness," said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council. "Our goal with this presentation is to raise awareness about this serious problem and help our youth to make the right choice about alcohol. I'm pleased we were invited to Crockett High School today, and I am hopeful that Brandon and Tony's words will resonate with the students."

For more information on The Century Council, visit www.centurycouncil.org.

Government - Attorney General Abbott urges teens to stay alcohol-free during prom and graduation season

Gov. Perry announces $223,000 award to the City of Pasadena

Award to fund purchase of crime lab equipment

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

May 8, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry has awarded $223,000 to the City of Pasadena to purchase specialized crime lab equipment, including a Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer, Laboratory Management Information System and an analytical balance. This equipment will allow the city’s crime lab to maintain accreditation requirements and to ensure quality and efficient reporting.

This grant is awarded under the federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program and is distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD).

“This grant will provide the City of Pasadena with updated equipment and necessary resources to better serve its community and protect our citizens,” Perry said.

The JAG program provides support to state and local governments for a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and to improve the criminal justice system.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim service programs.

Government - Gov. Perry announces $223,000 award to the City of Pasadena

Cornyn honored for support of pro-economic growth and job creation policies

Receives the “Spirit of Enterprise ” award from U.S. Chamber of Commerce

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

May 8, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, received the 2007 “Spirit of Enterprise” award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for his strong support of pro-economic growth and job creation policies in the past year.

“Congress must continue to implement policies that have proven to create jobs and expand economic opportunities in Texas and across the nation,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This includes the tax relief we passed in 2001 and 2003, which resulted in strong economic growth and helped create millions of new jobs. We need to make this relief permanent. In addition, the tax relief we provided for small businesses will greatly boost America ’s greatest job-creating engine.”

The Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise” award is based on key Senate votes in 2006, including extending tax relief, comprehensive pension reform, maritime and cargo security enhancements and the U.S./India nuclear agreement.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the U.S. Chamber with this award and I appreciate the work it does to promote economic growth,” Sen. Cornyn added. “I’ll continue working in the Senate to make sure we foster an environment in which America ’s entrepreneurial spirit can thrive.”

On a related note, Sen. Cornyn recently held a roundtable discussion with small business owners and representatives in Dallas on proposals to simplify the tax code and provide tax relief.

Sen. Cornyn continues to push to make the tax relief passed by Congress permanent as we work toward comprehensive reform of the tax system. The tax relief has saved taxpayers millions of dollars each year, created millions of new jobs and given a direct boost to the economy. “The last thing Congress should do is raise taxes by letting that relief expire,” Sen. Cornyn said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn honored for support of pro-economic growth and job creation policies

Gardening - Common landscaping mistakes

Religion - The Re-Mark


Older News: May 2, 2007


Whitcomb Elementary declares campus no place for hate

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

May 2, 2007

CCISD - Whitcomb No Hate imageLEAGUE CITY – Whitcomb Elementary School students Brianna Salazar and Giselle Salazar, along with the entire Whitcomb community came together for a family art night that featured activities that embrace the school’s commitment to being “No Place for Hate.” Whitcomb Elementary is a community working together to ensure acceptance and exploring of different cultures.

The Anti Defamation League’s No Place for Hate® Program is the cornerstone of its anti-bias and diversity efforts. No Place for Hate® schools, houses of worship, businesses and community organizations earn their designation by utilizing the program’s resource guide to complete activities that actively challenge hate and bigotry.

During the semester, students have received a classroom guidance lesson that focuses on the No Place for Hate® message and the teaching of tolerance. The students then signed a proclamation that has been displayed at the school declaring that they will actively challenge hate in all forms.

Photo credit: CCISD

CCISD - Whitcomb Elementary declares campus
no place for hate

Higher Ed - Lyondell Chemical Co. support recognized picture

Lyondell Chemical Co. received the University of Houston-Clear Lake Community Partnership Award during the Report to the Community breakfast event hosted by UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples. The company was recognized for its support of environmental education and the university’s Environmental Institute of Houston’s educational efforts. Also speaking at the event were representatives of the institute and educational partners.

Pictured are Environmental Institute of Houston Executive Director George Guillen; Environmental Institute of Houston Habitat Curriculum Specialist Sheila Brown, Lyondell Chemical Co. plant managers Joe Marschhauser and Mike VanDerSnick; Staples; Lyondell Chemical Co. Regional Public Relations Manager Gayden Cooper; and Westbrook Intermediate School Science teacher Tiffany Garcia.

UH-Clear Lake recognizes ‘Natural Resources’

University reports on the progress during the past year

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

May 2, 2007

New academic degree programs, additional research funding and the importance of community partners highlighted University of Houston-Clear Lake President William A. Staples’ remarks as he presented the university’s Report to the Community at a breakfast event in March. Titled “Natural Resources,” the report offered readers a chance to review university activities for the past year.

“We continue striving to meet the needs of our community,” said Staples. “Adding degrees, conducting research and building partnerships are the best way we can do it.”

Staples remarked on the addition of several degrees including UH-Clear Lake ’s first doctoral program, the Doctor of Educational Leadership. The first cohort began the program this year and include administrators from several local school districts.

In addition to the doctoral program, UH-Clear Lake responded to local needs with the creation of the Master of Science in Biotechnology. Located in the middle of the Biotech corridor – halfway between the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Houston ’s medical center – UH-Clear Lake became the obvious choice for such a degree.

Staples also spoke about new degree programs slated for the future including the Master of Arts in Digital Media Studies, which was recently approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Master of Science in Engineering Management. Not only did the university add new programs, it gained prominence as the first of its kind when the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. granted accreditation to the Bachelor of Science of Computer Information Systems. With this accreditation, which extends retroactively to 2004, UH-Clear Lake becomes the first Texas university to be accredited by ABET under this curriculum.

Other highlights of the morning presentation included the recognition of faculty grants taking place at the university. During 2006, Professor of Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Kwok- Bun Yue and Associate Professor of Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Sharon Perkins-Hall received a four-year $477,200 grant from the National Science Foundation to create the NSF Scholars Organization, a group that organizes resume workshops, arranges guest speakers and helps students build a community around success.

UH-Clear Lake’s Environmental Institute of Houston Executive Director George Guillen also spoke during the event as well as Environmental Institute of Houston Habitat Curriculum Specialist Sheila Brown and Westbrook Intermediate School Science teacher Tiffany Garcia. The three spoke of the importance of environmental education and partnerships with community businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to assist them in their goals.

“Many people do not realize how important the environment is,” said Brown. “But the children we work with understand it.”

In keeping with the topic of environmental education, Staples presented the 2007 Community Partnership Award to Lyondell Chemical Co. for their continued support of the Environmental Institute of Houston and the institute’s School Habitat Program.

“UH-Clear Lake salutes Lyondell Chemical Company and presents this award for the company’s continued support of the communities it serves,” said Staples. “Their dedication to social responsibility included not only an $8,000 check to fund a habitat, but also a personal commitment of more than 70 Lyondell employees who took part in a daylong habitat-building work session.”

Lyondell representatives present to receive the award included plant leaders Mike VanDerSnick and Joe Marschhauser. Also present was Lyondell’s Regional Public Relations Manager Gayden Cooper.

Sponsors of this year’s Report to the Community breakfast included Amegy Bank of Texas and GHG Corporation. Table decorations included sketches and brief descriptions by local elementary school students relaying their work in school habitats.

Since 1974, UH-Clear Lake has provided higher education opportunities to students in the Bay Area. The university offers upper-level courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 fields of study, master’s degrees in more than 40 fields of study and a doctoral degree.

For more information about UH-Clear Lake , visit http://www.uhcl.edu. To obtain a copy of the Report to the Community, call 281-283-2004 or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/annualreport for an online version of the report.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake recognizes ‘Natural Resources’

Gov. Perry announces border security surge operations' continued success

Increased border security continues to reduce crime

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

May 2, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry April 24 announced the reduction of crime by 30 percent in the El Paso area during a recent border security operation known as Operation Wrangler III. Operation Wrangler III was a high-intensity surge operation that lasted 30 days in the El Paso border region.

“The success of this border security surge operation demonstrates once again that more boots on the ground, working together as a team, increases our safety and border security,” Perry said. “When criminal organizations are forced to shut down their smuggling activities, our communities are safer, and the quality of life improves for all Texans.”

As in previous state-led surge operations, the objective of Operation Wrangler III was to shut down organized smuggling activity between the Ports of Entry to prevent the illegal crossing of drugs, contraband and people into Texas. Local sheriffs’ offices and police departments worked side-by-side with their state and federal partners in three Texas counties (El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties) and two New Mexico counties (Dona Ana and Luna counties) to deny Mexican criminal organizations and transnational gangs entry into the U.S.

A key benefit of securing the border is crime reduction. Operation Wrangler III resulted in the overall reduction of crime by 30 percent during the 30 day period of operation. The El Paso Sheriff’s Office documented an 82 percent reduction in aggravated assaults and 43 percent reduction in robberies. The El Paso Police Department reported a 16 percent reduction in robberies and 26 percent reduction in sexual assaults during the period of this operation.

“We are sending a clear message that an increased law enforcement presence is the key to securing our border,” Perry said. “Working with numerous state, federal and local agencies we can reduce drug trafficking, human smuggling and other crime in a significant way.”

In addition to the successes of Operation Wrangler III, border-wide surge operations have had a sustained impact on crime along the entire Texas-Mexico border. With 13 of the 18 border counties reporting, January-April of this year saw a 20 percent decrease in overall crime along these border areas compared to the same period of time last year. The 13 counties include Brewster, Culberson, Dimmit, El Paso, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Maverick, Pecos, Star, Terrell, Val Verde, Zapata and Zavala.

The statistics from local law enforcement agencies in these 13 counties comparing January-April, 2006, to January-April, 2007, revealed the following overall results:

  • Criminal Mischief reduced 34 percent
  • Theft reduced 30 percent
  • Burglary reduced 13 percent
  • Aggravated Assault reduced 16 percent
  • Sexual Assault reduced 59 percent
  • Murder reduced 15 percent

Government - Gov. Perry announces border security surge operations' continued success

Cornyn and Texas border sheriffs meet with Department of Homeland Security Secretary

Immigration reform, border security and law enforcement funding top agenda

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

May 2, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the top Republican on the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee, met with Texas border sheriffs and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Tuesday in Washington. The meeting, held at Sen. Cornyn’s request, focused on issues important to the border region, including border security, immigration reform and funding for law enforcement efforts.

“It is essential that local officials along the border continue to have input as we work to secure the border,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This meeting was a good opportunity for Texas border sheriffs to voice their needs and concerns directly to Secretary Chertoff.”

The meeting was part of Sen. Cornyn’s ongoing efforts to ensure the voices of state and local officials are being heard in Washington . He has continually worked in the Senate to assist the law enforcement community with resources to crack down on violence, drug smuggling and other crimes.

On hand for the discussion were members of the Southwest Border Sheriffs Coalition (SWBSC) from Texas and other border states , including Sigifredo Gonzalez, Jr., of Zapata County , Texas —Chairman of the SWBSC Intergovernmental Relations Committee. Leaders of the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition and the National Sheriffs Association also participated.

“We must provide those who work on the front lines of border security every day the resources they need to do their jobs,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I will continue working closely with law enforcement officials and other local leaders on the border as we work to improve border security and reform our broken immigration system.”

Sen. Cornyn reiterated his support for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which reimburses states and counties for the costs of detaining illegal immigrants arrested in connection with crimes other than immigration violations. He said Congress must provide adequate funding for the program. In addition, Sen. Cornyn co-sponsored an amendment last year to provide $50 million for border law enforcement.

Sen. Cornyn said reforming our immigration laws and securing our borders is among the top priorities this year for Congress. “We’ve taken some needed steps to improve border security, but we can and must do more,” Sen. Cornyn said.

The Southwest Border Sheriffs Coalition unites sheriffs’ departments in counties along the border in Texas , New Mexico , Arizona and California in their law enforcement efforts.

Earlier this year, Sen. Cornyn hosted a similar meeting in Laredo with Texas border mayors, county judges and Secretary Chertoff. That meeting came as a follow-up to a discussion in Washington co-hosted by Sens. Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn and Texas border sheriffs meet with Department of Homeland Security Secretary

Attorney General Abbott takes action against fraudulent acting school

Operator of The Actor's Place and L.A. Summit Talent cited for misleading students

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

May 2, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN– Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has taken legal action to stop the owner of fraudulent "career schools" from misleading aspiring actors seeking professional Screen Actor's Guild agents.

According to a petition filed in Travis County District Court, Will Boroski of Round Rock operated The Actor's Place and its affiliated Web site without obtaining a certificate from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and without legally mandated security bonds. Court documents charge Boroski and The Actor's Place with unlawfully operating an unlicensed acting career school. The Attorney General also seeks a halt to the fraudulent Boroski-backed "pilot season retreat" known as L.A. Summit Talent in Hollywood.

"Texans will not tolerate deceptive schemes that swindle consumers," said Attorney General Abbott. "The Office of Attorney General will aggressively pursue anyone who violates Texas' consumer protection laws."

The lawsuit alleges Boroski, who claimed a "100 percent success rate since 1998" in finding agents for clients, charged consumers $2,750 to attend his month-long L.A. Summit Talent retreat. This fee supposedly included a luxury apartment with fully furnished kitchen, a rental vehicle with a driver, and an onsite acting coach. He targeted parents with children as well, encouraging them to pay an extra $600 for upgraded private apartments.

Clients who paid Boroski this fee later complained that he did not deliver the services as advertised. Complainants reported that Boroski never led any acting classes at the retreat and said most scheduled classes were later canceled. Although Boroski claimed to have secured more than 400 auditions for clients in 2004-2005, former clients revealed that they did not receive any auditions despite their participation in the retreat.

The TWC held a formal agency hearing pertaining to Boroski's conduct at The Actor's Place and issued a cease and desist order to Boroski. He failed to appear at the hearing and ignored the order. The TWC then referred the case to the Attorney General.

The lawsuit, filed under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, seeks a court-ordered injunction stopping Boroski from operating a career school without the proper state certificate. The Attorney General also asked the court to order Boroski to provide restitution to harmed consumers, as well as to pay civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the DTPA and $1,000 per day for violations of the Texas Career Schools and Colleges Act, which protects students.

Government - Attorney General Abbott Takes Action Against Fraudulent Acting School

Gardening - MAY GARDENING CHORES

Religion - Simple prayers


Older News: April 25, 2007


Interfaith Caring Ministries 12th Annual Golf Tournament

From Interfaith Caring Ministries

April 25, 2007

Just around the corner is Interfaith Caring Ministries’ 12th Annual Golf Tournament. This year’s tournament will be held once again at the beautiful and prestigious South Shore Harbour Country Club located in League City. The date of the event is Monday, April 30, 2007. Lunch will be provided before the 12:30pm shotgun start.

There are still many opportunities for teams and sponsors to participate in this year’s tournament. A team is $500.00 and individual players are $125.00. Sponsorships will provide businesses with many opportunities for recognition including being listed in all press releases and the ICM summer newsletter that is sent to 2300 homes. Gary Noto, Chairman of the event for each of the 12 years, states that “We would welcome businesses to give us golf goodie bag items. Approximately 125 items are needed for the “goodie bags”.

Interfaith Caring Ministries is celebrating 21 years of service to the Clear Lake and League City communities. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, ICM provides services to our neighbors in need within the Clear Creek Independent School District.

ICM not only provides programs to help with a client’s immediate needs such as food and financial assistance for rent and utilities, but also provides many services that help clients to a path of self-sufficiency. Annually, ICM helps over 3,000 families with food and vital services.

For more information about the golf tournament, please contact Susan Bailey, Event Coordinator for Interfaith Caring Ministries at (281) 332-3881.

League City Area News- Interfaith Caring Ministries 12th Annual Golf Tournament

Lake speech and debate students advance to national competition

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

April 25, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Several Clear Lake High School’s speech and debate team members qualified to compete at the National Catholic Forensic League’s Grand National Tournament taking place May 26 and 27 in Houston. The students earned the right to advance at the recent Galveston-Houston area competition.

Lingxi Chenyang and Jenny Le advanced to nationals in the event of Oratorical Declamation. Mike Berger advanced in Student Congress, while the team of Oliver Chen and Grace Zhang advanced in Policy Debate.

The National Catholic Forensic League, founded in 1951, is an organization of public and private high schools in the United States and Canada dedicated to promoting speech and debate activities. It hosts a national tournament that moves to a different location each year. Last year’s national tournament hosted 2,330 students from more than 500 schools.

CCISD - Lake speech and debate students advance to national competition

Clear Brook junior named a NASA Aerospace Scholar

To work with others to design a Mars mission

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

April 25, 2007

CCISD - Jordan Mabry image

LEAGUE CITY – Jordan Mabry, a Clear Brook High School student, has been invited to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) to participate in a one-week summer internship beginning June 11.

Nominated by State Representative Larry Taylor, District 24, he has been selected as one of 314 high school juniors from across Texas to be part of High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS). Mabry has been working to complete 10 web-based assignments during the school year. He will apply what he has learned during the year, which will challenge Mabry to work as part of a team to design a mission to Mars.

The weeklong experience at JSC includes a tour of the JSC facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees, including astronauts. Mabry and teammates will conclude their experiences by presenting their proposal at a luncheon to their parents, members of the Texas Legislature, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Rotary NASA and JSC senior management.

The State of Texas, in partnership with JSC and the Texas educational community, developed HAS in 1999 to encourage more students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More than 1,2000 students from across Texas have participated in the program since its inception.

With this program, NASA continues the Agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s educational programs. It is directly tied to the Agency’s major education goals of attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions, which include missions returning to the moon, on to Mars and beyond.

For additional information, please contact Jessical Cejka at (281) 483-4853 or Jessica.a.cejka@nasa.gov. For more information about Texas Aerospace Scholars, please visit the web site at http://aerospacescholars.jsc.nasa.gov.

CCISD - Clear Brook junior named a NASA Aerospace Scholar

UH-Clear Lake students win spot as finalists in NASA competition

Students developed campaign to inform the public and to build middle and high school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 25, 2007

A group of four senior-level communication students at University of Houston-Clear Lake have been selected as one of seven finalist teams in the 2007 NASA Means Business national student competition.

The team of students competing from UH-Clear Lake includes Lindsay Humphrey, team leader; Brian K. Patterson, community outreach specialist; Judy Reustle, Web designer; and Danielle Singleton, videographer/video editor. The team has two faculty supervisors: Ashley Packard, associate professor of communication and Communication Program convener; and Taleen Washington, lecturer in communication and faculty adviser for student publications.

“I think this illustrates the kind of talent we have at UH-Clear Lake , both in terms of the quality of our students and the quality of instruction they have received in the communication program,” Packard said.

“We are never surprised to find that our students have achieved success on a national level,” said UH-Clear Lake President William Staples. “Any time our students experience success, the university benefits. It validates and supports our goal of offering the best educational opportunities in the Bay Area. I offer my congratulations and best of luck in the competition and advise them to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

NASA Means Business (NMB) is an annual competition sponsored by the Texas Space Grant Consortium that challenges college students to plan and then create marketing campaigns to encourage the American public to support the space program. NMB urges students from both traditional space disciplines and those not normally associated with space, including communication, advertising/marketing, and business/finance, to enter the competition.

Each year NMB chooses a different theme on which students must base their promotional campaign. This year students were asked to create a campaign that would build middle and high school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Additionally, the students’ marketing plans must communicate to the greater public at large why STEM education is vital to the United States , its economy, its space program and its citizens.

The UH-Clear Lake NMB team is competing against six other student teams from universities across the United States . They include the following:

  • Arizona State University and The Art Institute of Phoenix (ASPIRE)
  • Bentley College and Boston University
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ( Florida )
  • Miami International University
  • Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
  • University of Northern Iowa

As part of their promotional plan, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team is developing a 30-second video public service announcement, a Web site, a print campaign and an extensive community outreach campaign based in the greater Houston and Clear Lake areas.

“The three main components of our promotional plan – the PSA, the print media campaign, and the Internet presence – try to overcome the image problem of STEM subjects not being cool in a variety of ways, many of them unconventional,” Humphrey said. “I think our ability as a group to think outside the box and our strong backgrounds in communication will really help us stand out in this competition.”

The team has managed to bring local students from La Porte High School and Clear Lake Intermediate School into their promotional plan by featuring the students and their artwork in the video PSA, Web site and print campaign components. As part of their community outreach campaign, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team initiated an art contest at those schools in which the students will convey through original works of art what they think STEM subjects will mean to their futures. The winning artwork will become part of a traveling exhibit that will debut at Space Center Houston Friday, May 4. In addition, the students’ artwork will appear on bookmarks, bookcovers and the UH-Clear Lake NMB team’s Web site.

In February, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team met with members from four of the six finalist teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for an intensive two-day orientation, at which students toured the space center and met with various NASA officials to learn more about the space program. In March the team presented their work in progress for feedback via a videoconference. The UH-Clear Lake NMB team will present a workshop at the end of April at UH-Clear Lake ’s Annual Student Conference for Research and Creative Arts, which this year is being held in conjunction with the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 82nd annual conference. May 6-9 the team will travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to present their final work to a panel of judges. If the UH-Clear Lake NMB team is then chosen as the grand prize recipient, the students will go on to present their work to senior officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“It is exciting to know that what we are doing has the potential to make a real impact in the way students view STEM subjects,” Humphrey said. “Just through the community outreach portion of our plan, we are able to help raise awareness of how vital these subjects are to the future of our country.”

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 36 institutions, which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations and government agencies within Texas that are joined to ensure that the benefits of space research and technology are available to all Texans. In a broader context, the National Space Grant Program, consisting of 52 Space Grant consortia nationwide, cooperate to achieve this goal for all Americans.

For more information about the TSGC or the NASA Means Business student competition, visit http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake students win spot as finalists in NASA competition

Attorney General Abbott continues aggressively enforcing Identity Theft Prevention Law

CVS/pharmacy cited for exposing hundreds of customer records

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 25, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureHOUSTON– Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took legal action April 17 against CVS/pharmacy for exposing its customers to identity theft. According to court documents filed by the Attorney General, CVS violated a 2005 law requiring businesses to protect any customer records that contain sensitive customer information, including credit and debit card numbers.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) discovered that a CVS store in Liberty, near Houston, exposed hundreds of its customers to identity theft by failing to properly dispose of records that contained sensitive information. The investigation was launched after reports indicated that bulk customer records were tossed in a dumpster behind the store. Investigators also found several medical prescription forms that included each customer’s name, address, date of birth, issuing physician and the types of medication prescribed. The documents obtained by OAG investigators also contained hundreds of active debit and credit card numbers, complete with expiration dates.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texas law protects sensitive personal information in order to prevent this widespread crime. Texans can rest assured that we will continue aggressively cracking down on vendors who jeopardize the confidentiality of their clients’ sensitive information.”

CVS is accused of violating the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires businesses to protect and properly dispose of documents that include clients’ sensitive personal information. Under the law, the OAG has the authority to seek penalties of up to $50,000 per violation.

The Attorney General also charged CVS with violating Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients’ personal information. The law provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for each abandoned record.

Attorney General investigators are also working to determine if any exposed data has been used illegally. Consumers who interacted with CVS’ Liberty location should carefully monitor their bank, credit card and any similar statements for evidence of suspicious activity. Customers should also consider obtaining free copies of their credit reports.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us. Consumers can also obtain information on how to detect and prevent identity theft.

The April 17 legal action against CVS is the fourth identity theft enforcement action by the Office of the Attorney General in recent weeks. On April 2, Attorney General Abbott took legal action against Fort-Worth based RadioShack Corporation after a Corpus Christi-area store improperly dumped several boxes of receipts that contained customer-identifying information.

On March 14, the Attorney General took legal action against Jones Beauty College in Dallas for improperly discarding student financial aid forms with Social Security numbers and other personal information. Also in March, Attorney General Abbott took legal action against On Track Modeling, a North Carolina-based talent agency that abruptly shut down its Grand Prairie office and abandoned more than 60 boxes containing hundreds of confidential client records.

Government - Attorney General Abbott continues aggressively enforcing Identity Theft Prevention Law

Gov. Perry awards over $750,000 in Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Awards will fund equipment for the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office and the Houston Police Department Crime Lab

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

April 25, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry awarded $756,520 to six forensic crime labs throughout the state. These grants are awarded under the federal Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act fund and are distributed by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD). The Coverdell program improves forensic science and medical examiner services by providing new equipment, training and additional staff to laboratories.

“Through these grants, necessary equipment and increased training will enhance the quality of these forensic science services as well as improve essential timeliness and credibility,” Perry said.

Each year, CJD awards more than $113 million in grants for a variety of juvenile justice, criminal justice and victim services programs.

The awards include:

  • $150,000 to the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office to purchase equipment to determine trace element concentrations and isotropic ratios in elements, which will improve the quality, timeliness and credibility of forensic science and medical examiner services.
  • $93,000 to the City of Austin to purchase equipment for the police department’s crime laboratory including a specialized printer for DNA results, ultraviolet cameras to better evaluate and display evidence, stereoscopes to be used in forensic research and analysis equipment for testing blood-alcohol content.
  • $150,000 to the City of Houston to purchase new equipment for the police department's crime laboratory including digital audio/video equipment to better process media-based evidence efficiently.
  • $75,000 to Dallas County to purchase equipment to improve the analytical capacity for current toxicology tests that will lead to an increase in the number of tests offered.
  • $250,620 to the Texas Department of Public Safety to purchase two ballistic comparison microscopes for the analysis of ballistic evidence. The project will also provide overtime pay to forensic scientists to assist in the reduction of pending drug and firearm cases.
  • $37,900 to Jefferson County to purchase equipment for the crime laboratory that will ensure quality blood alcohol analysis, a laptop computer with software for diagramming crime scenes, and other equipment to better assist in the retrieval of physical evidence.

Government - Gov. Perry awards over $750,000 in Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Cornyn funding for school mentoring programs now available

Offers assistance in application process for drug-free schools grant funding -- May 23 deadline

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

April 25, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn encouraged eligible Texas schools on April 17 to apply for federal grant funding now available for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools-Mentoring Programs. Sen. Cornyn offered his assistance to schools during the application process for the grants, which come through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools .

“Mentoring can make a life-changing impact on young people. This funding will assist mentors and educators who provide essential support and guidance to students who need it most, helping them develop a strong character and grow as individuals,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I encourage schools to apply for these resources and will assist throughout the application process.”

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools-Mentoring Programs grants will help do the following: (1) assist children in receiving support and guidance from a mentor; (2) improve the academic performance of children; (3) improve interpersonal relationships between children and their peers, teachers, other adults and family members; (4) reduce the dropout rate of children; and (5) reduce juvenile delinquency and involvement in gangs by children.

More than $29,347,000 is available nationwide this year for local educational agencies and nonprofit, community-based organizations. Nearly 200 grants are expected to be distributed for approximately $100,000 - $200,000 each.

Schools have until May 23, 2007 to complete and submit their applications.

On a related note, Sen. Cornyn was recently named Honorary State Chair of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, providing him the opportunity over the coming year to advocate for the organization’s important youth mentoring initiatives across the state and on a national level.

As Honorary Chair, Sen. Cornyn works to raise awareness of the growing need for youth mentoring services for Texas children and young people. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children support, guidance and friendship by matching them with adult role models.

The online application form for the grants is available on the Web at http://www.ed.gov/programs/dvpmentoring/index.html.

For more information about eligibility requirements: http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/announcements/2007-2/041107b.html.

For more information or assistance with the grant process, please contact John Wyatt in Sen. Cornyn’s Washington , D.C. office at 202-224-2934 or visit: www.cornyn.senate.gov.

--Additional assistance available--

Technical Assistance Workshop

May 1 - Dallas
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm (registration begins at 12:30 pm)
Grand Hyatt DFW
2337 South International Parkway
DFW Airport , Texas 75291

Click here to register online for this workshop: http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/fbci/regform.html, or call (202) 219-1741.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn funding for school mentoring programs now available

Cornyn introduces bill to strengthen assistance for wounded soldiers & their families

Bipartisan effort stems from meetings with service members, veterans & military families in Texas

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

April 25, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation on April 12 that would provide immediate and tangible assistance to wounded military service members and their families by strengthening current law in several key areas. Sen. Cornyn’s new legislation, the Veterans’ Housing Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, already has the bipartisan support of both the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, along with U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

“We have an obligation and duty to ensure that the men and women who are serving, and have served, in America ’s military are receiving the best treatment and benefits for themselves and their families. We cannot, and should not, tolerate anything less,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We must do whatever it takes, including providing both the necessary resources and cutting bureaucratic red tape, to best meet the medical and other needs of those who defend our nation’s freedom.”

Sen. Cornyn noted that the basis for this important legislation came directly from recent meetings he had in Texas with wounded soldiers and their families, including a recent roundtable he convened at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio on March 10.

“In my home state of Texas , in San Antonio , Brooke Army Medical Center is the crown jewel of military medicine. I have seen firsthand the magnificent job that the men and women at BAMC are doing in caring for our service members,” Sen. Cornyn said. “In conjunction with my BAMC visit, I heard from many soldiers, families, and Veterans about their experiences. I learned in particular of challenges that burn victims and their families have faced because they did not receive enough special care and assistance for such items as VA housing grants and automobile enhancements. These families are facing unique challenges as they deal with the injuries of their loved ones, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t go it alone, but that they are given the resources and assistance they need to recover.”

Sen. Cornyn’s new legislation would accomplish the following:

  • Strengthen current law to provide for the specific needs of burn victims for housing and automobile grants;
  • Ensure that wounded Service members/Veterans with other specific needs such as Traumatic Brain injury are covered by grants, as required;
  • Strengthen DOD-to-VA transitions by providing partial housing grants for those Veterans residing with a family member to cover service members still on Active Duty awaiting their final VA disability rating;
  • Require the VA to report on the need for a permanent Housing grant for wounded Veterans residing with family members; and
  • Adjust current law to provide HISA housing grants to DOD service members awaiting final VA disability rating.

“I hope my colleagues will support this legislation so that we can better serve wounded military members and their families. With continued attention to our veterans, we can fashion a revised system that best supports them. They deserve nothing less—they are the finest our nation has to offer,” Sen. Cornyn concluded.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn introduces bill to strengthen assistance for wounded soldiers & their families

Gardening - BLUEBONNETS: TO PICK OR NOT PICK—that is the question

Religion - About Virginia Tech


Older News: April 18, 2007


CCISD looks to round up kindergartners

By Clear Creek Independent School District

April 18, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Registration for 2007-2008 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in the Clear Creek Independent School Districts begins May 2. All children who will be five years of age on or before Sept. 1, 2007 are eligible for fall 2007 classes. Pre-kindergarten students must be four years old by Sept. 1, and must either be:

  1. Limited English Proficient (LEP)
  2. Economically disadvantaged (low income)
  3. Homeless or
  4. Children of active duty members of the military.

Parents must provide the following documentation as part of the Kindergarten Roundup procedures: proof of student identity, which can be a certified birth certificate, passport, alien registration card or visa; a Social Security card; and 2 proofs of residency within the Clear Creek ISD boundaries, such as a utility bill, rent receipt stating name and address or lease or purchase agreement.

Immunization records are also required to register a child for school, and students must be fully immunized before attending school. Please check the specific elementary school your child is attending to determine if immunizations are available at that location.

For more information about Kindergarten Roundup and registration dates, please contact your local elementary school. For more information about Pre-kindergarten, call (281) 284-2564.

Elementary School Date Times
Armand Bayou May 8 9:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Bauerschlag May 2 8:30 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Bay May 3 8:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Brookwood May 8 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Clear Lake City May 2 8:30 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Falcon Pass April 30 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Ferguson May 1 9:00 - 2:00 p.m.; 5:00 7:00 p.m.
Gilmore May 8 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Goforth May 10 9:00 - 11:00 a.m..; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Greene May 3 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Hall May 1 8:30 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Hyde May 3 9:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Landolt May 4 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
League City May 10 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
McWhirter May 3 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.; 1:00-3:00 p.m.
North Pointe May 3 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Robinson May 10 8:00 - 12:30 a.m.; 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Ross May 2 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Stewart May 2 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.; 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.; 5 - 7 p.m.
Ward May 1 9:00 - 12:00 p.m.; 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Weber May 3 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Wedgewood May 3 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.; 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Whitcomb May 2 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.; 1:30- 2:30 p.m.; 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
White May 3 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.; 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Estrellas Program
at McWhirter
April 12 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Estrellas Program
at McWhirter
May 3 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

CCISD - CCISD looks to round up kindergartners

Higher Ed - Houston Mayor Bill White picture

Houston Mayor Bill White will serve as the commencement speaker during the University of Houston-Clear Lake Commencement Ceremony Friday, May 11, 7 p.m. at Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park, Houston 77054.

Houston mayor to speak at UH-Clear Lake commencement

A graduation reception will be held on Wednesday, May 9, 5:30-7 p.m.

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 18, 2007

HOUSTON — University of Houston-Clear Lake congratulates spring 2007 graduates during the Commencement Ceremony Friday, May 11, 7 p.m., at Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park, Houston 77054.

Houston Mayor Bill White will deliver the commencement address. White, who is currently serving his second term as mayor, previously served as Deputy Secretary of Energy of the United States. Before joining politics, he assisted in building and managing a successful law firm.

As mayor, White has worked on some of the city’s difficult challenges including neighborhood drainage, municipal pensions, property taxes and crime. He has assisted private sector and community organizations to revitalize some of Houston’s neglected neighborhoods, which included foreclosing on more than 3,000 abandoned properties. He also initiated a program to weatherize more than 400 homes in one neighborhood, which saved homeowners an average of $160 in energy costs during summer 2006.

During the ceremony at Reliant, 809 of the eligible 1,009 graduates will walk across the stage.

A graduation reception sponsored by the university’s Office of Alumni and Community Relations for all graduates, their family and friends will be held on Wednesday, May 9, 5:30-7 p.m., in the UH-Clear Lake Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston 77058.

UH-Clear Lake is an upper-level university, with more than 7,700 students. Approximately 44,000 degrees have been conferred at the university since it opened its door in 1974.

For information regarding the graduation reception, call the Office of Alumni and Community Relations, 281-283-2021. For additional information about the commencement ceremony, call UH-Clear Lake’s Office of Academic Records, 281-283-2525.

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 30 undergraduate and over 40 graduate degree programs, as well as a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit http://www.uhcl.edu.

Higher Education - Houston mayor to speak at UH-Clear Lake commencement

Event celebrates Hispanic heritage

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the bravery of those who fought the Battle of Puebla against the French in 1862

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 18, 2007

Celebrate Hispanic heritage with live music, food, fun, and much more as UH-Clear Lake hosts its Cinco de Mayo Celebration, April 18, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Student Services and Classroom Building, Alumni Plaza.

The event, which symbolizes Mexican unity and patriotism, is coordinated by the Hispanics Advancing Culture and Education student organization and the Office of Intercultural and International Student Services.

Admission is free and open to all wishing to attend. For more information, call the Office of Intercultural and International Student Services, 281-283-2575.

Higher Education - Event celebrates Hispanic heritage

First annual League City Music Fest set for April 27 and 28

From League City United Methodist Church

April 18, 2007

League City News - Helen Hall Library Picture
Senior Pastor Rev. Bill Jenkins points out the location of the First Annual League City Christian Music Festival. The two-day event is scheduled for April 27-28, and will be on the new property recently purchased by League City United Methodist Church, at the corner of Calder and League City Parkway.

“Save the date” announcements are usually reserved for weddings; however folks within a hundred miles of League City are marking their calendars now for a music festival scheduled in late April. The First Annual League City Christian Music Fest will be held Friday and Saturday, April 27-28th on property recently purchased by League City United Methodist Church.

“The site is perfect for an event like this” Senior Pastor Bill Jenkins said. “League City Parkway is central to our community and the surrounding cities, we can offer free parking, and there will be plenty of room for all the events we have planned.”

Committee chair Jay Flowers is quick to point out that there will be something for everyone at the Music Fest. “We’ll have non-stop music virtually the entire time, along with events for the children, face painting, special demonstrations, refreshments, arts and crafts and more,” he said.

Friday evening begins with the Texas Po’Boys. They are members of the Bay Area Gospel Music Association and have played together for 15 years. They will be followed by the headliners, The English Brothers, who are indeed brothers. The English Brothers are known for their combination of Southern Gospel and humor.

Up and coming performer and songwriter Brandon Heath kicks off Saturday evening. He will be opening for The Swift, a popular four piece band that recently released its third national album.

Of special interest is the growing list of local performers that have signed on to share the spotlight. League City’s own Skyler Yancy and praise and worship band “A Few Small Fish” join up with performers from Santa Fe, Clear Lake, Galveston and Lake Jackson. For the adrenaline junkies, there will be demonstrations of extreme motorcycles, martial arts and gymnastics.

Ticket pricing is varied, depending on what you want to attend. A two day pass is $25 for adults, $15 for ages 4-15, and those three and under get in free. Day passes for either Friday or Saturday are also available. To purchase tickets, go to the festival’s Web site, www.lcmusicfestival.com.

The League City Music Fest is just one of the events that has come out of the incredible growth that League City United Methodist Church is experiencing. “We are actively looking for different ways to reach out to our community,” Associate Pastor Kay Alewine says. “This is just the tip of the iceberg!”

For information on the First Annual League City Christian Music Fest, go to the new Web site www.lcmusicfestival.com, or visit the church’s Web site at www.lcumc.org. League City United Methodist Church currently meets at 1411 Main Street, one block east of Interstate 45. The new property is at the corner of Calder Road and League City Parkway.

League City News - First annual League City Music Fest set for April 27 and 28

Ward County grand jury indicts two former West Texas State School administrators

Former Texas Youth Commission officials Ray Edward Brookins and John Paul Hernandez arrested for sexual offenses

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 18, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureMONAHANS – A Ward County grand jury today returned 13 indictments against two former West Texas State School administrators for improper sexual conduct with six students, ages 16-19. Law enforcement officers with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Texas Rangers arrested the two former officials following the indictments Tuesday morning.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and OAG prosecutors today appeared before the grand jury to present charges against former Texas Youth Commission officials Ray Edward Brookins and John Paul Hernandez.

Brookins, 42, former assistant superintendent at West Texas State School, was indicted on two counts of improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The grand jury also indicted Brookins on two counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state prison. Law enforcement officers arrested Brookins at his Austin residence.

Hernandez, 41, former West Texas State School principal, was indicted on one count of sexual assault, a second-degree felony. The grand jury also indicted him on nine counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and nine counts of improper relationship with a student. Law enforcement officers arrested Hernandez at his parents’ residence in Fort Stockton.

“With today’s indictments, the victims of sexual abuse at West Texas State School are a step closer to the justice they deserve,” Attorney General Abbott said. “We are grateful to the grand jury for their diligent attention to this very troubling matter. The Office of the Attorney General will continue working with state and local officials to aggressively pursue allegations of wrongdoing at Texas Youth Commission facilities. Throughout this difficult process, we ask that everyone respect the privacy of the victims involved in this case.”

The Ward County district attorney requested prosecutorial assistance on Jan. 17, 2007, thereby granting the OAG authority to prosecute allegations of criminal conduct at West Texas State School, a Texas Youth Commission facility in Pyote. On April 4, 2007, Presiding Judge Bob Parks of the 143rd Judicial District Court granted the OAG sole authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of abuse at the Ward County facility. Judge Parks appointed the OAG “District Attorney Pro Tem” after the local district attorney recused himself from the case.

Government - Ward County grand jury indicts two former West Texas State School administrators

Attorney General Attorney General works with local organizations to help young crime victims

Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) provide medical care and emotional support to children who have been victimized

From Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 18, 2007

Points to remember:
Crime Victim Services

The Office of the Attorney General partners with organizations around
the state to help crime victims find help and healing. Services made
possible by these partnerships include:

Crisis intervention
Counseling
Victim hotlines
Emergency shelters
Accompaniment during court proceedings

For more information about Crime Victim Services:
Toll Free: (800) 983-9933
Email: crimevictims@oag.state.tx.us

To help young crime victims in your area, visit:
Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN – Each Child in Our Great State is a precious gift whose innocence must be protected. If one of our children is abused, neglected or assaulted, we must be prepared to handle their unique circumstances and tailor a response to their needs.

For more than 25 years, the Office of the Attorney General has partnered with local, community-based organizations that walk through the recovery process with young crime victims.

One of those partners is Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, a network of 61 facilities throughout the state that are committed to helping our youngest survivors of crime. Each one of these Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) provides a safe, nonthreatening environment that is designed to address each child victim's specific needs. At CACs, children encounter caring professionals who provide specialized medical and mental health services, grief counseling and other assistance victims need to put their lives back together.

Everybody under one roof allows children to tell their painful story just one time. The people who need to know – law enforcement, child protection officers, medical professionals, prosecutors, and others – get critical information during a single session, thus saving children from reliving the agony and trauma of the crimes committed against them.

CAC professionals, who work closely with investigators and prosecutors, usher a child's case through the criminal and civil justice systems. Throughout the process their goal is the same: minimizing the trauma to the young victim.

A CAC's loving arms are extended every day to children, just like the 10-year-old who was sexually assaulted by her uncle last year. The traumatic experience left this girl shell-shocked, but the CAC staff comforted and assisted her as soon as she walked through the door. They helped the young victim and her mother apply for assistance through the Office of the Attorney General's Crime Victim Compensation Fund to offset expenses related to the crime. These caring experts also helped her complete a Victim Impact Statement, in which she told how her uncle's betrayal affected her little life.

Many crime victims are understandably terrified by the thought of facing their attacker in court. This little girl was no different. She and her parents were uncertain she would be able to look at her uncle, let alone testify against him. But the CAC and its staff were there for them. They conducted weekly therapy sessions and took the family to the courthouse, where they visited other trials and grew comfortable with the courtroom.

As it turned out, she didn't have to go through the trial. Her uncle agreed to a plea bargain and received 60 years in prison. Had it been necessary, though, this 10-year-old victim would have been ready. In fact, she told her victim assistant that the reassurance she received from the CAC staff gave her the courage to face her attacker.

In 2006, Texas CACs helped more than 35,600 children. The Office of the Attorney General is proud to partner with Children's Advocacy Centers; last year, we provided more than $5 million in grant funding to support them. Rebuilding lives damaged by the emotional and physical aftermath of violence takes a unified approach. Together with crime victim advocates, law enforcement officers and communities across Texas, we can help victims of crime become hope filled survivors.

Information on this and other topics is available on the Attorney
General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General Works With Local Organizations to Help Young Crime Victims

Cornyn encourages fire departments to apply for grant funding

Offers assistance to fire departments in application process for key funding – May 4 deadline

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

April 18, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn encouraged Texas fire departments on Wednesday to apply for grant funding available to help purchase firefighting vehicles and safety and rescue equipment, as well as fund training and support operations. Sen. Cornyn offered his assistance to firefighters in the application for the grants, which come through the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“This funding will help ensure our first responders—those serving on the front lines of our hometown security—have the resources they need to keep our communities safe,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I encourage firefighters to apply for these important funds and will assist throughout the application process.”

The Office of Grants and Training, a component of the DHS Preparedness Directorate, partners with state and local officials to strengthen the capabilities of first responders in addressing emergencies and catastrophic incidents. The program provides a broad array of assistance to America ’s emergency responders through funding, coordinated training, exercises, equipment acquisition and technical assistance.

More than $492 million is available this year to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency management organizations across the nation.

Sen. Cornyn has held roundtables with emergency first responders across the state as part of his ongoing effort to highlight security needs in Texas hometowns. The events provide communities the opportunity to express their needs and concerns directly to Sen. Cornyn.

The online application form for the grants is available on the Web at www.firegrantsupport.com. For more information or assistance with the grant process, please contact John Wyatt in Sen. Cornyn’s Washington , D.C. office at 202-224-2934 or visit: www.cornyn.senate.gov.

Fire departments have until May 4, 2007 to complete and submit their applications.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Cornyn encourages fire departments to apply for grant funding

Gov. Perry praises progress of statewide radio communications capabilities

Reiterates need for border security funding

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

April 18, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry April 11 praised the progress of the state’s radio communications capabilities. At the governor’s direction, local officials have worked with the state’s 24 regional councils of government to help Texas reach a key milestone in radio communications interoperability. Perry also reiterated his support for HB 13 and Rep. David Swinford’s effort to dedicate $100 million to Texas border security efforts.

One of the key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission is to ensure that when disaster strikes, first responders are able to communicate. A network of interoperable radio systems is a vital component to a swift, coordinated disaster response strategy. Two years ago, Perry set forth an ambitious priority objective to achieve level four radio interoperability throughout Texas by January 2007.

“Radio interoperability in Texas is particularly challenging because of its size and geographic diversity,” Perry said. “As a result of local leadership, I am proud to report to you today that Texas has achieved level four radio interoperability throughout the state, and in some areas, it is as high as level six.”

Level four radio interoperability allows fire fighters, emergency medical responders, police officers, deputy sheriffs and state troopers to go anywhere in the state and have immediate radio communications with each other using their own equipment on established channels.

“The importance of achieving this goal was demonstrated last year when first responders from around the state battled devastating wildfires and floods, and for the first time, were able to communicate with one another using their own radios to coordinate their efforts,” Perry said.

Perry also reiterated his support for HB 13 by Rep. Swinford which will increase border security funding by $100 million. Texas has launched several major border security operations, beginning with Operation Linebacker in 2005, Operation Rio Grande in 2006, and most recently and still ongoing, Operation Wrangler. These surge operations have a proven record of significantly reducing crime, and Perry will continue to urge the Texas Legislature to approve funding to sustain border security efforts for the next two years.

“In Texas, we have a border security strategy that works,” Perry said. “When we substantially increase law enforcement personnel and resources, we see a significant disruption of criminal and illegal activity. I urge the Texas legislature to fully fund these proven strategies and pass HB 13.”

Perry was joined at the news conference by U. S. Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, Congressman Michael McCaul, Austin Mayor Will Wynn and members of the Texas Radio Coalition.

Government - Gov. Perry praises progress of statewide radio communications capabilities

Vacation Bible School registration begins

“Lift Off! Soaring to New Heights with God” Vacation Bible School is gearing up

From League City United Methodist Church

April 18, 2007

League City Methodist United Methodist Church invites all children, from four years old to 4th grade to become Sky Scouts this summer. “Lift Off! Soaring to New Heights with God” Vacation Bible School is gearing up, and registration begins April 22nd.

The session runs from June 18th through June 22nd, from 9 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. There will be fun, interactive activities that combine the world of hot air ballooning with the discovery of how to reach new heights with God. Each lesson will be supported with Bible stories, science activities, songs, crafts, games and snacks.

Registration begins April 22nd with a deadline of May 13th. Registration forms can be picked up at the church or downloaded off the church Web site at www.lcumc.org.

League City United Methodist Church is located at 1411 Main Street, one block east of Interstate 45. For questions on Vacation Bible School, contact Andrea Pritchard at 281-332-1557 or email children@lcumc.org.

Religion - Vacation Bible School registration begins

Gardening - Pecan Grafting Workshop set for April 19

Religion - There goes the judge!


Older News: April 11, 2007


Creek Journalist selected for national publication

Selected article about a worldwide community project

From Clear Creek Independent School District

April 11, 2007

CCISD - Refurbished computers for District students image

LEAGUE CITY – Clear Creek High School Junior Stephanie Haechten, a reporter for the school’s newspaper HiLife, received the special honor of having an article she wrote posted in the National Edition, an online school journalism Web site. Out of thousands of articles written every week by high school journalists, the publication only chooses 16 articles from across the country.

Haechten’s article about the Post Secret project originally ran in the January issue of the HiLife. PostSecret is a community project where people from around the world submit their secrets anonymously on a 4X6 inch postcard. Her article is available online at http://my.highschooljournalism.org/tx/leaguecity/cchs/article.cfm?eid=7438&aid=112269.

CCISD - Creek Journalist selected for national publication

University of Houston-Clear Lake hosts Business Fair

The often underutilized Fair will be held April 11, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., in the Bayou Building, Atrium II.

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 11, 2007

The HUB program promotes equal business opportunities to all businesses and vendors in state contracting and encourages small, minority-owned and woman-owned businesses to participate in the competitive bid process.

Admission is free and open to all wishing to attend. For more information, call UH-Clear Lake Supervisor of Purchasing and HUB Activities Debbie Carpenter, 281-283-2150, or e-mail carpenter@uhcl.edu.

Higher Education - University of Houston-Clear Lake hosts Business Fair

Attorney General Abbott protects Texas consumers from identity theft

Fort Worth-based RadioShack cited for exposing thousands of customer records

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 11, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took legal action April 2 against Fort Worth-based RadioShack Corporation for exposing its customers to identity theft. According to documents filed by the Attorney General, RadioShack violated a 2005 law requiring businesses to protect any consumer records that contain sensitive information, including Social Security and bank account numbers.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General discovered that a RadioShack store in Portland, near Corpus Christi, exposed thousands of its customers’ personal identifying information. The investigation was launched after reports indicated company employees dumped bulk customer records in garbage containers behind the store. According to investigators, the records contained sensitive consumer information, including Social Security numbers, credit and debit card information, names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Government - Radio Shack Receipt picture

Sample Receipt Found in Dumpster
(Account #s dedacted by OAG)

 

The records included personal information from one consumer’s 1998 credit application and another receipt from a local woman who, ironically, purchased a shredder from RadioShack in order to protect herself from identity theft. Also discovered among the discarded records was sensitive information from a credit card issued to the City of Portland, according to Portland Police Chief Randy Wright, who joined Attorney General Abbott Monday in denouncing the store’s actions.

“ Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans expect their personal information to be protected. The Office of the Attorney General will take all necessary steps to ensure that consumers are protected from identity thieves.”

RadioShack is accused of violating provisions of the 2005 Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, which requires the protection and proper destruction of clients’ sensitive personal information. Corpus Christi Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa sponsored the legislation, which gives the Office of the Attorney General authority to seek penalties of up to $50,000 per violation.

The Attorney General also charged RadioShack with violations under Chapter 35 of the Business and Commerce Code, which requires businesses to develop retention and disposal procedures for their clients’ personal information. The law provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for each abandoned record.

Attorney General investigators are also working to determine if any exposed data has been used illegally. Consumers who interacted with the Portland store should carefully monitor bank, credit card and any similar statements for evidence of theft. Customers should also consider obtaining free copies of their credit reports.

Consumers who wish to file a complaint may contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.oag.state.tx.us. Consumers can also obtain information on how to detect and prevent identity theft.

Today’s legal action against RadioShack is the third identity theft enforcement action by the Office of the Attorney General in the last two weeks. On March 13, Attorney General Abbott took legal action against On Track Modeling, a North Carolina-based talent agency that abruptly shut down its Grand Prairie office and abandoned more than 60 boxes containing hundreds of confidential client records. On March 14, the Attorney General took legal action against Jones Beauty College in Dallas for improperly discarding student financial aid forms containing Social Security numbers and other personal information.

Government - Attorney General Abbott protects Texas consumers from identity theft

Preparing teens for responsible parenting

P.a.p.a. and No Kidding Initiatives help Texas teens learn about responsible parenting

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 11, 2007

Points to remember:
Responsible Parenting

P.A.P.A. AND NO KIDDING TEACH TEENS ABOUT:

Paternity establishment
Father involvement
Challenges of parenting
Benefits of postponing parenthood
Impact of parental conflict on children

A person who is a biological parent is responsible for supporting his
or her child, period. It does not matter whether the parents:

Were married
Intended to become pregnant
Were underage
Are still in school
Have other financial obligations

For more information about p.a.p.a. or No Kidding, call the Attorney
General's Office of Family Initiatives at 512-460-6400.

For information on services provided by the Attorney General's Child
Support Division, call 1-800-252-8014

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN—Four out of five Texas High School students will become a parent at some point in their lives. Parenting is one of the most rewarding and challenging opportunities these Texans will ever experience. Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation with parents who have children before their 18th birthday. One has to ask, "How prepared for the responsibilities of parenting is the next generation of Texas parents?"

As caring adults, we have an obligation to equip young people with information they need to make informed decisions about the future. It makes common sense to provide information to students about the life changing legal, emotional, and financial realities of becoming a parent – with emphasis on the added consequences of becoming a parent while still a teen. Beyond the obligation, there is the opportunity to help young Texans – and the next generation of parents – understand the responsibilities and rewards of raising a family.

That is why the Attorney General's Office of Family Initiatives developed two programs that promote responsible parenting and teach teenagers skills for building strong, stable families.

p.a.p.a. (Parenting and Paternity Awareness) is an innovative curriculum distributed to educators and community professionals across the state that teaches young adults about the rights, responsibilities, and realities of parenting.

The curriculum focuses on the importance of father involvement, the value of paternity establishment, the legal realities of child support, the financial and emotional challenges of single parenting, and the benefits of both parents being involved in a child's life.

p.a.p.a. stresses that young people need to attain a certain level of maturity and independence before they become parents. The curriculum encourages teenagers to evaluate their own readiness for parenthood and plan ahead to make realistic decisions based on a solid understanding of the legal and practical consequences of parenthood.

During the last three years, the Attorney General's Office has trained approximately 1,500 teachers, school counselors, nurses, community youth workers, and parent educators in the use of the p.a.p.a. curriculum. Senator Royce West and Representative Joe Deshotel recently filed legislation, Senate Bill 1381 and House Bill 2176 respectively, that would help make this curriculum available to students on a statewide basis.

The No Kidding: Straight Talk from Teen Parents program trains and equips young parents to deliver educational presentations to students in middle and high school about the realities of being a young parent.

No Kidding educators use their experiences as young parents to deliver a memorable message about paternity establishment, father involvement, the responsibilities and challenges of parenting, the importance of financial independence as a parent, and benefits of a marital relationship.

In Austin and El Paso No Kidding operates in collaboration with local school districts, community based organizations, local foundations, and local workforce development boards. In the spring semester of 2006 alone, more than 2,000 Texas high school students participated in the No Kidding program.

By making p.a.p.a. and No Kidding available in classrooms, students will realize that parenting is not just another casual event in their lives. We have a duty to help young people understand the legal and financial obligations of parenthood. Every one benefits when teenagers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their future.

Contact the Attorney General's Office of Family Initiatives at 512-460-6400 to obtain general information about p.a.p.a. and No Kidding

Government - Preparing teens for responsible parenting

Gov. Perry appoints 21 members to the Commission for College Ready Texas

The Commission will hold public hearings through fall 2007 on college readiness standards for our state

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

April 11, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry picture AUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry today appointed 21 members to the Commission for a College Ready Texas. The commission will provide leadership and guidance to the State Board of Education to improve college readiness programs by aligning high school curriculum with college standards.

“Education has always been, and will always be, the cornerstone to success,” Gov. Perry said. “Every student deserves to receive the necessary groundwork to be academically equipped for college. With the guidance of the Commission for a College Ready Texas, students will have access to improved college preparation tools.”

The commission will hold public meetings from April through fall 2007. The commission will consider the public testimony from these meetings to make recommendations to the State Board of Education, which has the authority to adopt, align and define college-readiness standards for Texas.

Commission Chair

Sandy Kress of Austin will serve as chair of the commission. Kress is a partner in the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P., where he focuses on public law and policy at the state and national levels. He served as senior advisor to President George W. Bush on education and as president of the board of trustees of the Dallas Public Schools. Kress currently serves on the Education Commission of the States. He previously served as counsel to the Governor's Business Council and Texans for Education, and as a member of the Texas Business and Education Coalition. Kress received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and earned his law degree with honors from the University of Texas School of Law.

Business, education and community service leaders appointed to the commission:

Albert Black, President, On-Target Supplies and Logistics of Dallas

Barbara Cargill, Member, State Board of Education

Jose Cuevas Jr., Founder and CEO, JumBurrito

Dr. Robert Duron, Superintendent, San Antonio Independent School District

Linda Evans, President of Grants and Planning, The Meadows Foundation of Dallas

Bruce Esterline, Vice President of Grants and Planning, The Meadows Foundation of Dallas

Larry Faulkner, President, The Houston Endowment; and former President, The University of Texas at Austin

David Garcia, CEO, CEDRA Corporation of Austin

Bill Hammond, President and CEO, Texas Association of Business

Dr. Eric Hanushek, Paul and Jan Hanna Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution of Stanford University

Woody L. Hunt, former Chairman of the Board of Regents, The University of Texas System

Jodie Jiles, Managing Director, RBC Capital Markets of Houston

Charles E. McMahen, Chairman, Governor’s Business Council

George McShan, former President and President-elect, Texas Association of School Boards

Sonya Medina, Executive Director, AT&T Foundation

Elaine Mendoza, Member, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

David Merrill, Vice President-Investments, AG Edwards & Sons, Inc.

Dean Nafziger, Ph.D., CEO , Edvance Research, Inc.

Dr. Richard M. Rhodes, President, El Paso Community College

Dr. Ricardo Romo, President, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Zeynep Young, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

Eight co-chairs appointed to oversee the four subject-specific teams:

Dr. Linda Ferreira-Buckley, Chair, Department of Rhetoric and Composition English, The University of Texas at Austin

Selina Jackson, English Teacher, Wall Independent School District

Linda Gann, Mathematics Instructional Specialist, Northside Independent School District

Dr. Selina Vasquez-Mireles, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Texas State University

Mercedes Guzman, Science Teacher, El Paso Independent School District

Dr. C. O. Patterson, Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station

Larry Garibaldi, Instructional Team Leader, Houston Independent School District

Dr. Jonathan Lee, Associate Professor of History, San Antonio College

De-facto members of the commission include:

Commissioner Shirley Neeley, Texas Education Agency

Commissioner Raymund Parades, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Susan Combs, Texas State Comptroller

John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Texas High School Project – Communities Foundation of Texas

Government - Gov. Perry appoints 21 members to the Commission for College Ready Texas

Cornyn introduces measure to encourage health in the workforce

Renews effort to provide incentives for employees to improve physical fitness

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

April 11, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, introduced bipartisan legislation March 29 to encourage better, healthier lifestyles in the workforce. The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act will correct an inequity in the tax code, allowing employers to deduct the cost of both on and off-site fitness centers on a pre-tax basis. The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“By promoting physical fitness, the WHIP Act will decrease health care costs, reduce government spending, fight against disease and illnesses and improve productivity in the workplace,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation provides key incentives so Americans can take advantage of fitness opportunities important to prevention and better health. I hope that in this Congress we can work in a particularly strong bipartisan manner to move this bill forward.”

The WHIP Act would correct a current inequity in the tax code so that small businesses and their employees benefit from a deduction of up to $900 for off-site health club costs. Current law permits businesses to deduct the cost of on-site workout facilities, which are provided for the benefit of employees on a pre-tax basis. But if a business wants or needs to outsource these health benefits, they and/or their employees are required to bear the full cost. Employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are required to pay income tax on the benefits, and their employers bear the associated administrative costs of complying with the IRS rules.

In addition, the employer’s contribution to the cost of the health club fees would not be taxable income for employees—creating an incentive for more employers to contribute to the health and welfare of their employees.

Sen. Cornyn introduced this legislation in the previous Congress.

Below is the full statement Sen. Cornyn made when he introduced the WHIP Act

Public health experts unanimously agree that people who maintain active and healthy lifestyles dramatically reduce their risk of contracting chronic diseases. And as the government works to reign in the high cost of health care, it is worth talking about what we all can do to help ourselves. As you know, prevention is key, and exercise is a primary component in the prevention of many adverse health conditions that can arise over one’s lifetime. A physically fit population helps to decrease health-care costs, reduce governmental spending, reduce illnesses, and improve worker productivity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the economic cost alone to businesses in the form of health insurance and absenteeism is more that $15 billion. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid programs currently spend $84 billion annually on five major chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer, and arthritis.

Reports also show that only about 15 percent of adults perform the recommended amount of physical activity, and 40 percent of adults do not participate in any physical activity. With physical inactivity being a key contributing factor to overweight and obesity, and adversely affecting workforce productivity, we quite simply need to do more to help employers encourage exercise.

Given the tremendous benefits exercise provides, I believe Congress has a duty to create as many incentives as possible to get Americans off the couch, up, and moving.

With this in mind, I am introducing the WHIP Act.

Mr. President, current law already permits businesses to deduct the cost of on-site workout facilities, which are provided for the benefit of employees on a pre-tax basis. But if a business wants or needs to outsource these health benefits, they and/or their employees are required to bear the full cost. In other words, employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are required to pay income tax on the benefits, and their employers bear the associated administrative costs of complying with the IRS rules.

The WHIP Act would correct this inequity in the tax code to the benefit of many smaller businesses and their employees. Specifically, it would provide an employer’s right to deduct up to $900 of the cost of providing health club benefits off-site for their employees. In addition, the employer’s contribution to the cost of the health club fees would not be taxable income for employees – creating an incentive for more employers to contribute to the health and welfare of their employees.

The WHIP Act is an important step in reversing the largely preventable health crisis that our country is facing, through the promotion of physical activity and disease prevention. It is a critical component of America ’s health care policy: prevention. It will improve our nation’s quality of life by promoting physical activity and preventing disease. Additionally, it will help relieve pressure on a strained health care system and correct an inequity in the current tax code.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn introduces measure to encourage health in the workforce

Gardening - The colorful history of bluebonnets

Religion - A laughing matter


Older News: April 4, 2007


CCISD -  Self Portrait picture

Not Everything Can Be Explained Lisa Dufala — Clear Brook High 2005 State VASE Medallion

The state Texas Art Education Association Visual Art Scholastic Event will be held at the University of Houston-Clear Lake April 13 and 14. This free event is open to the public in Atrium II on April 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Area art students participate in the April 13 and 14 state Visual Art Scholastic Event at UH-Clear Lake

By Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online
April 4, 2007

CCISD - artwork

Picasso's Musician
Clear Creek High 2004 Gold Seal Award, from TAEA

Clear Creek I.S.D. art students won area medals and will participate in the state Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) at University of Houston-Clear Lake April 13 and 14. The event is open to the public on April 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joey Dole, the state VASE director, said that there are not many art contests in the United States and that they are fairly subjective with only a limited set of criteria for evaluation. He said that VASE scoring is unique because there are no winners or losers and students are rated based on an objective grading rubric developed from the national standards for art education.

Students are judged on originality, skill, knowledge of the state standards for art education and ability to verbally explain the intent of their piece to the judges (jurors). Each piece is awarded a superior, excellent, average or below average rating.

The "superior" artworks are then reexamined. The best are given an exemplary rating and receive a “Gold Seal” medallion, the highest award at this event.

Sources: 1. The Texas Art Education Association, CCISD and CCISD press release # 2264, including the list of student winners and stats

2. Interview with Joey Doyle, state VASE director

Credit: This is an update of an April 4, 2006 article by Marilyn Clark about the VASE competition. The pictures are different.

CCISD - Area art students participate in the April 13 and 14 state Visual Art Scholastic Event at UH-Clear Lake

UH-Clear Lake hosts forum on trade relations

Kenneth Kang-Min Liao, Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Houston to speak at April 11 forum

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 4, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake will host an open forum on “Taiwan-U. S. Trade Relations and the Prospects of a Bilateral Trade Agreement.” on Wednesday, April 11. The program will begin at 5 p.m. in the Bayou Theater with guest speaker Kenneth Kang-Min Liao, Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Houston. TECO is dedicated to promoting cooperation and mutual understanding between Taiwan and the United States in economic and cultural areas.

Prior to the forum, Liao will meet with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. The meeting will be facilitated by UH-Clear Lake School of Business Dean Ted Cummings.

A reception will be held after the forum in Atrium I of the Bayou building where an art exhibit titled “Splendors of Taiwan” also will be on display. The exhibit provides insight into Taiwan ’s emergence as one of the world’s leading producers of high tech products, and offers a striking contrast between its present prosperity and its earlier poverty.

All are invited to attend this free event. For more information, call 281-283-3106.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake hosts forum on trade relations

Become an informed consumer this tax season

The fees and interest for instant refund loans can be quite high, and if your refund is denied or less than you expected, you must still repay the loan in full, as well as any fees.

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

April 4, 2007

Points to remember:
Taxes

If you have your taxes prepared for you, read the returns carefully before you sign them.

You will be held responsible for your return even if it is prepared by someone else.

Taxes are NOT voluntary.

You can file a homestead exemption application free of charge.

Tax Resources

IRS Hotline for tax assistance:
(800) 829-1040

IRS Hotline to report tax fraud:
(800) 829-0433

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN—As federal income tax filing deadlines approach, consumers who do not have the time or experience to prepare tax forms rely on trusted tax professionals to file returns for them. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous operators exploit the tax season with deceptive practices that could cost you money and cause serious problems with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Becoming an informed consumer this tax season can help you protect your income and avoid common tax scams.

Quick refund and immediate return offers typically begin to surface in early February after consumers begin receiving their W-2 forms. A tax preparer may offer to advance money to the taxpayer, which is paid back when the refund check is received. Generally, this kind of "instant refund" is simply a loan.

Carefully read the fine print in any ad for this kind of service. The fees and interest for instant refund loans can be quite high, so you should consider whether it would be better filling out the tax refund paperwork yourself.

Additionally, if your refund is denied or less than you expected, you must still repay the loan in full, as well as any fees. It may be better to wait a little longer to receive a refund directly from the IRS, free of charge.

Be extremely careful if a tax preparation service assures you they can obtain a larger refund. Some bogus tax return businesses promise larger " refunds" and deliver them only by adding phony deductions and making false claims on tax returns.

Before signing a return, review it carefully to confirm the truthfulness of its contents, especially income and deductions. Any errors or fabrications are your responsibility. You will have to return any refund money obtained after filing false information, along with any interest and penalties.

Also, beware of a tax preparer who urges you to sign your return without carefully reading it, or who refuses to provide you with copies of your return.

All homeowners, particularly senior Texans, should question any solicitation that charges application or registration fees for tax reductions, freezes, ceilings or deferments. Most often, the "reduction" offered is nothing more than the homestead exemption that is already available to Texas homeowners. There is no need to pay anyone to secure a homestead tax exemption. You can easily claim it or other tax benefits yourself by contacting your local county tax assessor collector.

Remember that taxes are NOT voluntary. Do not fall for pitches that promise to exempt you from taxes. U.S. courts have repeatedly rejected the argument that taxes are voluntary or optional.

Finally, beware of people going door-to-door posing at IRS agents. These con artists may claim you owe back taxes and pressure you to write a check on the spot. Don't pay them anything. Verify the identification and documentation of anyone claiming to be an IRS agent. If you believe an imposter has shown up at your door, call your local police department immediately.

Become an informed consumer this tax season. Pay your taxes and enjoy your refunds.

For more information on this and other topics, visit the Attorney General's Web site: www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Become an informed consumer this tax season

Gov. Perry signs law allowing Texans to protect themselves

SB 378 permits Texans to use deadly force in self defense

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

April 4, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry March 27 signed into law Senate Bill 378, extending Texans’ rights to use deadly force for means of self-defense, without retreat, in their home, vehicle or workplace. The law takes effect Sept. 1, 2007.

“The right to defend oneself from an imminent act of harm should not only be clearly defined in Texas law, but is intuitive to human nature,” said Gov. Perry on March 27. “Today, I am proud to sign the Castle Law which allows Texans to not only protect themselves from criminals, but to receive the protection of state law when circumstances dictate that they use deadly force.

“I thank Senator Jeff Wentworth, Representative Joe Driver and the Texas Legislature for their dedication to ensuring Texans’ rights to self-defense.”

In 1995, the Texas Legislature created an exception to a 1973 statute, which required a person to retreat in the face of a criminal attack. The exception allowed a person to use force without retreat when an intruder unlawfully entered their home. Senate Bill 378 extends a person’s right to stand their ground beyond the home to vehicles and workplaces, allowing the reasonable use of deadly force when an intruder is:

  • Committing certain violent crimes, such as murder or sexual assault, or is attempting to commit such crimes;
  • Unlawfully trying to enter a protected place; or
  • Unlawfully trying to remove a person from a protected place.

The law also provides civil immunity for a person who lawfully uses deadly force in the above circumstances. The use of deadly force is not lawful when it is used to provoke or if a crime other than a Class C misdemeanor is committed by the victim.

Government - Gov. Perry signs law allowing Texans to protect themselves

Gov. Perry honored as Texan of the Year

“Leadership is not about making everyone happy; it is about standing strong for something you believe in even when the wind currents start to blow hard in your face,” Perry said.

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

April 4, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureNEW BRAUNFELS –Gov. Rick Perry March 23 was honored as Texan of the Year by the 41st Legislative Conference. Serving more than 22 years in Texas state government, Gov. Perry continues to champion a variety of issues important to the state, including health care, education and transportation.

“The most critical quality of a leader is someone who never loses sight of a long-term vision,” Gov. Perry said. “My vision is to build a Texas of limitless opportunity and prosperity, and I view decisions I make through that prism.”

Speaking to more than 500 government, business and education leaders, Perry emphasized the importance of leadership in public service. Highlighting several achievements during the six years of his administration, Gov. Perry spoke about his strong personal philosophy and values on leadership.

“The most important thing we can do for the people of Texas is lead with conviction,” Perry said. “Leadership is not about making everyone happy; it is about standing strong for something you believe in even when the wind currents start to blow hard in your face.”

Perry addressed two important issues facing the legislature: transportation and higher education reform.

“Let’s have an honest debate about transportation,” Perry said. “Either we build toll roads, slow roads or no roads. One 26-mile road extension in Dallas/Fort Worth, Highway 121, brought in $2.1 billion up front from the winning private vendor. That’s what the state gas tax delivered for roads all across Texas last year.”

Perry discussed his higher education initiative, which has been acclaimed by one federal official as the best reform plan in the nation, saying, “My plan is simple: it makes a college degree more accessible, our institutions more accountable and performance-oriented, and it invests in classroom and research excellence.”

Gov. Perry’s plan dedicates an addition $1.7 billion to financial aide and performance incentives for colleges and universities.

Talking about his philosophy for governing Perry said, “I believe what makes a state vibrant are investments in classrooms and research labs; jobs and infrastructure; healthcare and emerging industries; and limited government, restrained spending and lower taxes.”

Government - Gov. Perry honored as Texan of the Year

Sen. Cornyn encourages applications for health clinic grants

Funding will increase access to health care by establishing new community health centers

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

April 4, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn encouraged eligible health centers in relevant counties on Tuesday to apply for funding now available to increase the number of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in rural and underserved Texas counties. The funding is available through the President’s High Poverty Counties initiative within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thirty counties in Texas are eligible for the two programs: 1) New access point grants—funding to establish new locations to provide health center services; and 2) Planning grants—funding to plan and develop new health centers.

“ Community health centers are an important way to increase access to health care and decrease costs, particularly in rural areas,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I encourage those eligible to apply for these funds. My office stands ready to assist throughout the application process.”

Sen. Cornyn continues working with state and local leaders and the relevant federal agencies to increase the number of FQHCs in Texas and ensure existing facilities receive the support and resources they need to increase health care access and decrease costs. He has visited centers across the state to provide support and see first-hand their positive impact.

“This initiative will allow Texas to increase the number of patients served by health centers in some of the poorest parts of the state,” Sen. Cornyn said. “In addition, these centers focus on preventive care, which relieves the burden on emergency rooms and decreases health care costs for all Texans.”

In 2006, Federally Qualified Health Centers served 717,106 underinsured and uninsured Texans.

The following 30 Texas counties are eligible to be served through this funding: Bell, Blanco, Callahan, Chambers, Coke, Coryell, Delta, Ector, Ellis, Falls, Grayson, Gregg, Guadalupe, Hays, Hudspeth, Johnson, Lee, Live Oak, Marion, Martin, Milam, Nueces, Red River, Sabine, Sherman, Smith, Taylor, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wilson.

Planning grant applications are due May 16, 2007. New Access Point grant applications are due May 23, 2007.

For information on the grant applications online, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/grants/default.htm. Scroll down to “Planning Grants in High Poverty Counties” or “New Access Points in High Poverty Counties.”

For more information about how to apply for the funding, contact José Camacho or Erica Swanholm at the Texas Association of Community Health Centers at: 512-329-5959.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Sen. Cornyn encourages applications for health clinic grants

Diabetes Alert: Joslin Diabetes Center reminds people with diabetes to schedule annual eye exams to preserve vision

An annual exam can provide early detection and help prevent or delay 90 percent of
cases of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy.

From the Joslin Diabetes Center (Harvard Medical School affiliate)

April 4, 2007

BOSTON, Mass., (AScribe Newswire)— Did you know that diabetes is the number one cause of preventable vision loss and blindness? Did you also know that an annual eye exam can lead to early detection of diabetic retinopathy and other eye disease, a frequent complication of diabetes?

On Diabetes Alert Day, March 27 -- a day set aside by the American Diabetes Association to raise public awareness of the rampant incidence of diabetes in our nation -- the care team at the world renowned Joslin Diabetes Center's Beetham Eye Institute reminds the 20.8 million Americans with diabetes to schedule an annual eye exam. Joslin's Beetham Eye Institute clinicians have shown that an annual exam can provide early detection and help prevent or delay 90 percent of cases of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in adults, resulting in 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year.

Diabetic retinopathy, the most common eye disease in people with diabetes, occurs when the small blood vessels in the eye are damaged by high levels of glucose in the blood. Because diabetic retinopathy can progress to advanced stages without the patient knowing it, it is crucial to have annual eye exams to help preserve vision.

Joslin clinicians recommend a three-prong approach to preserving vision:

  • Maintain excellent A1C levels. (The A1C is a test that measures average blood glucose levels over the 2 to 3 month period before the test.)
  • Keep blood pressure, blood lipids and other health factors in check.
  • Have an annual eye exam.

To watch a video on Joslin's Web site about the importance of annual eye exams, visit http://www.joslin.org/754_871.asp .

For more information about eye research and clinical trials at Joslin, visit http://www.joslin.org/755_3819.asp .

ABOUT THE BEETHAM EYE INSTITUTE: Joslin Diabetes Center's Beetham Eye Institute is a world leader in diabetes eye care and in research to identify the causes of diabetic eye disease and to find new therapies to lessen the risks of vision loss. The care team at the Beetham Eye Institute is dedicated to delivering the best and most personalized, compassionate care. For more information about Beetham Eye Institute services, visit http://www.joslin.org/754_871.asp . For an appointment, call 617-732-2552.

ABOUT DIABETES: The World Health Organization reports that approximately 150 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the number is projected to double by the year 2025. In the United States, diabetes affects an estimated 20.8 million children and adults -- 7 percent of the population. An estimated 14.6 million Americans have been diagnosed, leaving 6.2 million Americans unaware that they have the disease. In addition, 54 million Americans are thought to have pre-diabetes, or elevated blood glucose levels that put them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If untreated or poorly treated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and circulation problems that can result in limb amputations.

ABOUT JOSLIN DIABETES CENTER: Joslin Diabetes Center, dedicated to conquering diabetes in all of its forms, is the global leader in diabetes research, care and education. Founded in 1898, Joslin is an independent nonprofit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Joslin research is a team of more than 300 people at the forefront of discovery aimed at preventing and curing diabetes. Joslin Clinic, affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the nationwide network of Joslin Affiliated Programs, and the hundreds of Joslin educational programs offered each year for clinicians, researchers and patients, enable Joslin to develop, implement and share innovations that immeasurably improve the lives of people with diabetes. As a nonprofit, Joslin benefits from the generosity of donors in advancing its mission. For more information on Joslin, call 1-800-JOSLIN-1 or visit http://www.joslin.org .

Health - Diabetes Alert: Joslin Diabetes Center reminds people with diabetes to schedule annual eye exams to preserve vision


Older News: March 28, 2007


CCISD trustees seek Citizen of the Year

From Clear Creek Independent School District

March 28, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – Clear Creek ISD is now accepting applications for the Citizen of the Year Award. The district’s Board of Trustees established the endowment to honor outstanding community members within Clear Creek ISD. All applications are due by April 6.

The recipient of the award will be named as the Citizen of the Year during the Clear Creek ISD Partnership Breakfast May 17. In addition, the recipient may designate endowment funds to a Clear Creek ISD academic program or classroom activity in his or her name.

Recipients eligible for this award must meet the following requirements:

  • Demonstrated a commitment to Clear Creek ISD through volunteer or other extraordinary efforts.
  • Contributed significantly in ways that have benefited the entirety of Clear Creek ISD.
  • Maintained a reputation across the Clear Creek ISD community as an individual with high standards and dedication to excellence in public education.
  • Served the district and its students and patrons over an extended period of time.

All nominations must be submitted no later than April 6 to be considered for the award. Nomination forms are available online at www.CCISD.net. Nominations should be mailed to:

Clear Creek Education Foundation
Citizen of the Year Selection Committee
c/o Elaina Polsen
Clear Creek ISD Community and Business Partnership Office
2425 East Main Street
League City, Texas 77573

CCISD - CCISD trustees seek Citizen of the Year

Higher Ed - EIH receives donation from Petroleum Engineers picture

Pictured are UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples; Society of Petroleum Engineers – Gulf Coast Chairman of the Board Roger Hite; Director of Environmental Education and UH-Clear Lake Lecturer of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Weiser; and Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Section member Robert Bruant.

Petroleum engineers help fund summer teacher training

Environmental Institute of Houston receives $10,000 for use in the Earth Science and Energy Summer Institute

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

March 28, 2007

HOUSTON — Members of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Section presented the Environmental Institute of Houston at University of Houston-Clear Lake with $10,000 for use in the Earth Science and Energy Summer Institute.

The Summer Institute takes place the first week of June and offers science teachers in the greater Houston area an opportunity to study topics such as geological formations, subsidence, paleontology, careers in energy and energy exploration. Participants hear from experts in the energy industry, who will present information and conduct demonstrations focusing on the science and mathematic connections to the various energy professions.

In addition, a field trip to the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum will cap off the weeklong institute where the participants will tour an offshore drilling rig. The teachers will receive a variety of supplemental materials, including the Expanding Energy Education Curriculum, and conduct science investigations throughout the week.

Higher Education - Petroleum engineers help fund summer teacher training

Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit fights online solicitation: Austin College Student and Kerrville Veterinarian sentenced for Child Sex Crimes

Two offenders traveled to Central Texas to meet children for sex

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

March 28, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit continued its aggressive crackdown on child predators this week as a Kerr County jury delivered a guilty verdict against a local veterinarian and, in Bastrop County, a 21-year-old former Austin college student pled guilty to using the Internet to solicit sex from children.

Jonathan Ward Brooke, 54, was convicted by a Kerr County jury March 21 on one count of online solicitation of a minor, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Government - Jonathan Ward Brooke of Kerrville, 54,  picture

Now, convicted and sentenced

Government - Grant Matthew Peanick of Kyle picture

Grant Matthew Peanick of Kyle

19 years old at time of arrest

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey upon our children,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue aggressively cracking down on cyber predators. Thanks to our dedicated Cyber Crimes Unit investigators and prosecutors, Texas is a safer place for our children.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “We are grateful to Kerr County District Attorney Bruce Curry and Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz for their cooperation and assistance with these two cases.”

Cyber Crimes Unit investigators arrested Brooke in July 2005 when he drove from Kerrville to Buda to meet and sexually assault a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator who Brooke sexually propositioned in an online chat room. A Kerr County grand jury indicted Brooke in March 2006. Assistant Attorney General Angela Goodwin prosecuted the case. In determining punishment, jurors considered sexually explicit images of young girls and videos of bestiality investigators found on Brooke’s computer after he was arrested.

In another case, Grant Matthew Peanick of Kyle pled guilty March 21 in the 21st State District Court in Bastrop to one count of criminal solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony. Peanick was sentenced to five years probation and he must register as a sex offender.

Peanick was arrested by the Cyber Crimes Unit in November 2005 after he drove to Bastrop to meet and sexually assault someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl he had met online. Peanick, who was attending Austin Community College at the time of his arrest, was indicted by a Bastrop grand jury in April 2006. Assistant Attorney General Sarah Wannarka prosecuted the case.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2002, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children.

Attorney General Abbott's initiative has resulted in more than 500 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 57 men on child pornography charges.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit fights online solicitation: Austin College Student and Kerrville Veterinarian sentenced for Child Sex Crimes

Gov. Perry announces $49 million to aid defense communities

Low-Interest Loans for Road Improvement and Infrastructure Projects available for communities impacted by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 action

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

March 28, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry March 16 announced the first allocation of funds under the Texas Military Value Revolving Loan Fund of more than $49 million in low-interest loans to the City of Corpus Christi and the Port of San Antonio for critical road improvements and infrastructure projects.

In 2003, the legislature passed and the governor signed legislation creating the $250 million Texas Military Value Revolving Loan Fund (TMVRLF). These funds are distributed by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission.

The TMVRLF targets defense communities that seek to enhance the military value of the local installation; assists defense communities adversely impacted by a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 action through economic development projects to attract new industries and create new job opportunities; and assists defense communities positively impacted by a BRAC 2005 action by funding new infrastructure, utilities or transportation needs.

The awards include:

$10.6 million to the City of Corpus Christi to alleviate Port Avenue’s bottleneck configuration for port access. Redevelopment of the roadway will enhance the port’s viability as a strategic military port; facilitate military deployments through the Port of Corpus Christi; and is critical to the development of property adjacent to the port. Funds will also be used to support the extension of the Navy’s Waldron Field Runway.

$38.3 million to the Port of San Antonio to build a 90,000 square foot Air Cargo Terminal that will accommodate any size cargo plane, and construct two office and warehouse buildings.

The TMPC is accepting letters of interest for additional TMVRLF loans.

For more information on the TMVRLF, visit http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/tmpc/loan

Government - Gov. Perry announces $49 million to aid defense communities

Low-Interest Loans for Road Improvement and Infrastructure Projects available for communities impacted by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 action

Government - Cornyn renews effort to strengthen open government

Cornyn honored for efforts to expand open government

Receives “Sunshine in Government” award from the National Newspaper Association

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

March 28, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn received the “Sunshine in Government” award from the National Newspaper Association on Friday for his efforts to expand open government. Sen. Cornyn was presented the award at the annual gathering of community newspaper publishers and editors from Texas and across the nation. He provided an update on his efforts in Congress to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“Expanding the American public’s access to government information is one of my top priorities in Congress. In the weeks ahead, I hope the Senate will advance our bipartisan, open-government legislation,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I am honored to receive this recognition from the National Newspaper Association. I appreciate their support of our efforts. It’s a continuing source of pride for me that Texas has one of the strongest laws in the U.S. expanding freedom of government information. The goal now is to bring some of that ‘ Texas sunshine’ and openness to Washington , D.C. I’m optimistic about seeing this bill become law sometime this year.”

Sen. Cornyn joined Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week in introducing the bipartisan OPEN Government Act of 2007, which would make the most significant reforms of the Freedom of Information Act in more than a decade.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

Government - Cornyn honored for efforts to expand open government

Gardening - Peach thinning is tough but needed task

Religion - Peace


Older News: March 22, 2007


CCISD - Golf Tournament picture

Walter Hanby, retired NASA engineer, and Deepa Kashti, a Clear Creek High School junior, discuss her physics science fair project, “Does it Sound Like Metal?” Kashti won the Jesse A. Dorrington 2007 Grand Award at the 2007 District Science Fair. Clear Creek High student Asad Moten won the Jesse A. Dorrington 2007 Life Science Runner Up Grand Award with the project "Micromanipulation of the Extracellular Matrix." The District Science Fair was held Feb. 19 and 20 at the Clear Creek High School Ninth Grade Center and Brookside Intermediate. CCISD photo - modified.

District Science Fair features innovative student projects

From Clear Creek Independent School District

March 22, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – The Clear Creek ISD science fair celebrates and recognizes the bright, young, scientific minds of our district. From biomedical research to space exploration, students in Clear Creek ISD impressed the expert volunteer judges and began laying the foundation for university-level, scientific research projects.

Across the district, more than 480 elementary projects advanced to the district science fair. At the secondary level, more than 450 projects competed for the opportunity to compete at regional, state and international competitions. Clear Creek ISD has 134 projects advancing to the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston.

“A good science project is one where the student repeats testing to show data reliability and uses scientific thought in the experiment,” said Anne Mangas-Smith, Clear Creek ISD elementary science coordinator. “The projects are best when you can see a student is passionate about the project and then the student’s enthusiasm shines through.”

The district Science Fair supports the district’s science curriculum, as well as the National Science Education Standards. Science Fair teaches students how to conduct a long-term project while developing critical thinking skills through scientific processes. Science Fair supports real world applications that involve mathematics, reading and writing. Throughout the process, students are encouraged to explore the deeper understandings of their inquiry-based project.

Jesse A. Dorrington 2007 Grand Awards (CCISD Data)
Award Category Student Title School
Teacher
Grand
Prize
Physical Science Deepa Koshti Does It Sound Like Metal?

CCHS
Morris

Runner
Up
Physical Science Thomas Markovich Barrier Nucleon Transfer in Mizuno Cells CBHS
Harrell
Grand
Prize

Life
Science

Helen D'Couto Removal of Heavy Metal Water Pollutants Using Magnetite Nanoparticles CLHS
Pinchbeck
Runner
Up
Life Science Asad Moten Micromanipulation of the Extracellular Matrix CCHS
Morris

CCISD - District Science Fair features innovative student projects

Teacher Certification info presented

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

March 22, 2007

UH-Clear Lake ’s School of Education presents information about its Alternative Certification Program on March 23, 9:30 a.m. in the university’s Bayou Building , Room B2231.

The program provides the opportunity for candidates holding a bachelor’s degree of higher to be employed as full-time teachers while completing their teaching certification. During the information meeting, the application process, qualifications, programs costs and course requirements will be discussed.

For more information, contact the university’s Center for Educational Programs, 281-283-3612.

Higher Education - Teacher certification seminar

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to host Interactive Cyber Safety Town Hall meeting

Parents and teens encouraged to attend Sugar Land meeting about Internet safety

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

March 22, 2007

Town Hall meeting:

Date: Thursday, March 22, 2007

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Dulles High School, Rodgers Auditorium

550 Dulles, Sugar Land, TX 77478

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureSUGAR LAND– Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and his Cyber Crimes Unit will host an interactive Cyber Safety Town Hall meeting in Sugar Land on March 22 to inform parents and students about online safety.

Attorney General Abbott and the Cyber Crimes Unit investigators will reveal how child predators use emerging technology to target their victims, demonstrate how social networking sites put teenagers at risk, and provide Sugar Land parents with innovative, real-world tools to protect their kids. The presentation, which is free of charge and open to the public, will feature invaluable Internet safety tips and teach parents how to decipher chatroom lingo.

“Dangerous criminals are using Internet chat rooms, personal Web pages, and social networking sites to prey on young Texans,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Right here in Sugar Land, children unwittingly may be putting themselves in danger. Our Cyber Safety Town Hall meeting will provide parents with the resources they need to keep their children safe on the Internet.”

The Attorney General’s interactive presentation, which includes real-world advice from Cyber Crimes Unit investigators, provides the audience with an opportunity to ask questions and seek answers about Internet safety. Attendees will receive copies of the new “Internet Safety for Parents” video, which offers critically important safety advice and teaches parents how to determine when a child is providing too much information to a potential predator.

Attorney General Abbott also encouraged high school students to attend the Cyber Safety Town Hall meeting: “Teenagers who use social networking Web sites like MySpace.com will learn how to safely interact with their friends but avoid revealing personal information that could unintentionally lead predators to them and their families.”

The presentation, which includes straight talk about predators who solicit children online, includes mature content that may not be suitable for elementary school students. All parents and high school students are strongly encouraged to attend. Junior high school students should attend at their parents’ discretion.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. Shortly after taking office, he created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms. Investigators have arrested 93 men who used teen chat rooms to arrange meetings with underage victims. In addition, grand juries have indicted 57 men on child pornography charges brought by Cyber Crimes Unit prosecutors.

In May 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded the Cyber Crimes Unit a $300,000 grant that funded an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The grant enabled the Unit to increase cooperative efforts with law enforcement agencies across Texas and to expand the Unit’s online child exploitation crackdown.

Attorney General Abbott’s Fugitive Unit, established in 2003, further protects children by locating and arresting parole-violating sex offenders. The Fugitive Unit has arrested more than 450 parolees, unregistered sex offenders and other convicted criminals. The combined efforts of the Cyber Crimes Unit and the Fugitive Unit have resulted in more than 500 sexual predator arrests.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General’s office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Parents and teens encouraged to attend Sugar Land meeting about Internet safety

Gov. Perry orders Special Election on Property Tax Relief for Elderly and Disabled

May 12 vote on constitutional amendment set

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

March 22, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry March 12 signed a proclamation ordering a special election to be held May 12 to vote on a constitutional amendment to extend public school property tax rate reductions to Texas’ elderly and disabled residents for the 2006 and 2007 tax years.

“I encourage all Texans to join me in voting for this constitutional amendment so that elderly and disabled Texans benefit from record property tax relief the same as other homeowners,” Perry said.

In 2006 Gov. Perry signed a record $15.5 billion property tax cut, but some elderly and disabled Texans were precluded from benefiting because their rates were already frozen.

Senate Joint Resolution 13 amends the Texas constitution to allow elderly or disabled households’ property tax rates to reflect any reduction in school property tax rates for 2006 and 2007.

Government - Gov. Perry orders Special Election on Property Tax Relief for Elderly and Disabled

Cornyn statement on Senate’s rejection of Democrats’ Iraq Resolution

Senate Votes to Protect Troop Funds & Against Withdrawal Deadline to Embolden Terrorists

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

March 22, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement regarding the votes by the Senate March 15 on several Iraq-related resolutions. That afternoon the Senate rejected a resolution offered by Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, while passing a resolution offered by Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), which states that Congress should not eliminate or reduce funds for troops in the field.

“The Democrats’ proposal to set a firm date for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground, would do nothing but tell our enemies precisely how much longer they need to hold out. There are between 5,000 and 6,000 al-Qaeda fighters in al-Anbar province alone. If we were to withdraw, it would leave a power vacuum in the region for terrorism to flourish and for al-Qaeda to plot, plan and recruit just as they did in Afghanistan before 9/11. The so-called ‘phased redeployment’ is Washington-speak for getting out of town as fast as you can. Congress must provide the funds for our soldiers to complete their mission, not provide political statements to undermine that mission and embolden our enemies."

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Government - Cornyn statement on Senate’s rejection of Democrats’ Iraq Resolution

Gardening - Gardeners’ Q&As at the Galveston Home & Garden Show

Religion - Someday


Older News: March 22, 2007


Creek competed at State Academic Decathlon

Collins brings home the gold

From Clear Creek Independent School District

March 15, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – The Clear Creek High School Academic Decathlon team recently competed in the State Academic Decathlon Competition at Cinco Ranch High School. The team moved up eight spots from their regional ranking to finish in 22nd place in the 135 team state-wide event.

Clear Creek High School Senior Mitchell Collins received the gold first place medal in the varsity competition for Essay writing and a silver medal in the Interview competition.

CCISD - Creek competed at State Academic Decathlon

Higher Ed - Dr. Sandra Mossman picture

Pictured are four of the Houston area students --- two who attended classes through UH-Clear Lake and two through Texas Southern University -- with UH-Clear Lake and TSU representatives including (l to r) UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples; UH-Clear Lake School of Education Dean Dennis Spuck; UH-Clear Lake visitors Mi Jin “Mindy” Jang and Hyun Mi “Matilda” Kang; TSU visitors Seung Me “Jenny” Woo and Suk Hyun “Jasmine” Kim; and TSU Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of History Gregory Maddox.

UH-Clear Lake hosts visiting South Korean teachers

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

March 15, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake, in coordination with Texas International Education Consortium in Austin, hosted two Korean teachers as part of the Fulbright American Institute for Korean School Teachers of English under the auspices of the Korean-Educational Commission in South Korea.

Twenty-five teachers spent seven weeks at various universities in Texas studying the educational system.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake hosts visiting South Korean teachers

Cornyn backs top-to-bottom review of military health system

Calls conditions at Walter Reed facilities “Absolutely Unacceptable”

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

March 15, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—Following the March 6 oversight hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee on conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center , U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Member of the Committee, made the following statement:

“Let there be no question – the conditions of certain facilities at Walter Reed are absolutely unacceptable. The relief of its top commander and the resignation of the Secretary of the Army were important and needed steps. We must now take the necessary action to move forward.

“The United States military and the Department of Veterans Affairs must conduct a top-to-bottom investigation of our entire military health system and take immediate steps to address any problems that might exist. The President’s Commission on Care for America ’s Returning Wounded Veterans, led by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, will be an important component of this critical effort.

“I also support today’s announcement by the Pentagon to send the Army’s Outpatient Care Tiger Team to roughly a dozen hospitals, including Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss, and Carl R. Darnell Medical Center at Fort Hood, to assess the quality of their outpatient care.

“We have an obligation to ensure that the men and women who are serving, and have served, in America ’s military are receiving the best service, treatment and benefits for themselves and their families. We cannot, and will not, tolerate anything less.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will work to ensure that Congress is doing what it takes, including providing the funds needed, to meet the short-and-long- term needs of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.”

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Government - Cornyn backs top-to-bottom review of military health system

Longview child predator caught by Cyber Crimes Unit receives 95-year state prison sentence

Joe Alan Cook arrived on bicycle to meet child for sex.
Prison term is longest in Unit's history due to previous convictions.

Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

March 15, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureCORPUS CHRISTI—A convicted East Texas felon arrested by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit was sentenced to 95 years in state prison after a Gregg county jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child. Joe Alan Cook, 46, of Longview, was formally sentenced on March 1 in 124th Judicial District Court for using the Internet to solicit a child for sex.

The punishment was enhanced because of Cook's two prior Illinois felony convictions for burglary and home invasion. It is the longest prison sentence ever handed down to an online predator arrested by the Cyber Crimes Unit.

Government - Eugene Fleming-Jr-39-HoustonArrest picture
Convicted East Texas felon, Joe Alan Cook of Longview, received 95 year sentence for child solicitation over the Internet.

"Texans will not tolerate criminals who prey upon our children," Attorney General Abbott said. "So desperate to meet and sexually assault a child that he arrived on a bicycle, this offender shows the true danger posed by these sexual predators. We are grateful to Gregg County District Attorney Bill Jennings for his assistance with this case. East Texans can rest assured that we put this predator behind bars for a very long time."

Attorney General Abbott added: "Thanks to our dedicated Cyber Crimes Unit investigators and Assistant Attorney General Grant Sparks, Texas is a safer place for our children."

Cyber Crimes Unit investigators and Longview Police Department officers arrested Cook in February 2006 after he rode his bicycle to meet someone he believed to be a 13-year-old child he had solicited over the Internet for sex. When he arrived, Cook discovered the "child" was an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit investigator who had posed as an underage girl.

Protecting children is one of Attorney General Abbott's top priorities. His Cyber Crimes and Fugitive units have arrested more than 500 sexual predators since he took office in December 2002. The Fugitive Unit locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children.

Government - Longview child predator caught by Cyber Crimes Unit receives 95-year state prison sentence

Combating gang activity and youth crime

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

March 15, 2007

Points to remember:
Combating gang activity and youth crime

If you suspect gang activity in your community, acknowledge the problem.

Establish a united front by involving schools, neighbors, and local law enforcement.

Clean up graffiti and keep it cleaned up.

Encourage community programs and initiatives as safe alternatives for at-risk youth.

Resources For Communities
Office of the Attorney General Juvenile Crime Intervention
(512) 463-4024
Email: jci@oag.state.tx.us

Texas Youth Commission Office of Prevention
(512) 424-6130
www.tyc.state.tx.us

Texas School Safety Center
(512) 245-3696
cscs.txstate.edu/txssc.htm

Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse
1-800-638-8736

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN—The Safety of our Children is a top priority of the Office of the Attorney General. Keeping children safe from gangs, school violence and drug abuse is an especially important challenge for our communities.

Juvenile crime, particularly gang activity, harms neighborhoods, families and schools in many ways: from property damage by graffiti vandals to truancy to the most serious offenses, including drug trafficking and murder.

Signs of youth gang activity often include a rise in truancy, minor vandalism and delinquent behavior. Groups of juveniles may develop identifying signs such as similar clothing styles or hand signs. Violent gangs typically boast a name and leader or leaders, who repeatedly engage in criminal activities both as a group and individually for economic gain. Juveniles involved in hate gangs collectively engage in acts of violence toward specific groups or individuals, often without regard to turf or material gain.

Acknowledging a gang problem in your community is an important first step to combating such activity. Gangs thrive on intimidation and publicity and often use violence to establish and maintain their reputation. Some residents and officials fear that by giving the problem any attention, they are encouraging gangs by providing them the notoriety they seek. Denial is never beneficial. Gangs are found in every locality — large metro areas, medium cities and small towns.

To combat juvenile crime and gang activity, communities must act together to send a clear message that criminal behavior will not be tolerated. Assess the problem by establishing cooperative relationships among schools, police and community organizations. Call neighborhood meetings for citizens who are concerned about gangs. Involve the media, parents, and local law enforcement.

Graffiti removal is another crucial step to reclaiming neighborhoods and reducing fear. Clean up graffiti and keep it cleaned up! Graffiti is the calling card of gangs and can provide insight to the kinds of gangs present in your neighborhood. Always photograph the marks for law enforcement documentation. Many counties maintain a Graffiti Eradication Fund which may be used to repair damage or provide public rewards for identifying and aiding in the apprehension and prosecution of graffiti related offenders.

Gang activity often occurs when young people do not have access to socially acceptable alternatives. Academic support and positive extra-curricular activities are essential for at risk youth.

To compete successfully with gangs, recreational programs must offer excitement and close, supportive relationships. Mentoring and other after school programs can offer a safe place for children to learn and interact when they would otherwise be left alone.

Some children need help with interpersonal and decision making skills. To help keep schools and communities safe, the Office of the Attorney General created a free DVD based program for educators called " Consequences." This curriculum helps students understand how the Texas juvenile justice system operates and how criminal behavior impacts their lives. It includes video interviews with young men and women who are dealing with the consequences of having made bad choices when confronted with gangs and crime. The curriculum also includes classroom activities that help students apply the lessons they have learned.

The Office of the Attorney General is committed to helping Texas communities and law enforcement professionals combat juvenile crime and gang activity. Continued cooperation among parents, schools, law enforcement professionals and community organizations helps our children make good decisions and keeps our neighborhoods safe.

TFor more information on this and other topics, visit the Attorney General's Web site: www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Combating gang activity and youth crime

Perry gives Texas Youth Commission legislation emergency status

Bills would create TYC Inspector General, empower state prosecutors to step in

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

March 15, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry March 5 designated legislation addressing systemic failures at the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) as emergency items for the Texas Legislature. Perry also met with TYC special master Jay Kimbrough, TYC acting executive director Ed Owens and newly appointed TYC Chairman Don Bethel on Monday morning.

The emergency legislation would:

  • Expand the jurisdiction for prosecution over crimes committed at TYC facilities to allow the current TDCJ special prosecution unit to handle such cases.
  • Create a new TYC Inspector General with greater authority and independence of commission bureaucracy.
  • Empower the Attorney General to have concurrent jurisdiction with the local county or district attorney for the prosecution of offenses involving TYC.

“If a local district attorney does not prosecute suspected child molesters, the state must have the authority to step in and enforce the law,” Perry said. “With an Inspector General that reports directly to the Commission Board, we can ensure that administrative investigations are conducted with greater authority, the power of subpoena and independence from the bureaucracy.”

On March 2, Perry appointed Jay Kimbrough as TYC Special Master and charged him with leading a commission-wide investigation of the commission’s policies and procedures, reports of failures and wrong-doings by commission staff and specific instances of abuse.

Kimbrough has since coordinated his activities with Acting Executive Director Ed Owens; Attorney General Greg Abbott; key staff members for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Speaker Craddick and lawmakers; State Auditor John Keel; Texas Rangers Chief Ray Coffman; and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inspector General John Moriarty.

“Every agency and officeholder I’ve spoken with has offered complete support for this investigation,” Kimbrough said. “We have marshaled our resources, made assignments and have begun to execute our strategy. For the vast majority of youth commission workers who love their jobs and are committed to the mission, help is on the way.”

Kimbrough said that the State Auditor’s Office has agreed to provide an existing toll-free phone number, (800) TX-AUDIT, to report suspected criminal activity at TYC facilities.

Government - Perry gives Texas Youth Commission legislation emergency status


Older News: March 7, 2007


School District Board of Trustees calls
$183 Million Bond Referendum

Early voting begins April 30 and runs through May 8. The election date is Saturday, May 12.

From Clear Creek Independent School District

March 7, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – The Clear Creek Independent School District Board of Trustees called for a $183 million bond referendum during the Feb. 26 Board meeting. Early voting begins April 30 and runs through May 8. The election date is Saturday, May 12.

The Bond 2007 Referendum provides funding for new schools and school conversions needed to address the rapid growth in our community.

CCISD - Board President Robert A. Davee image
“This is a bare-bones proposal that meets the long-term needs of our district,” said Robert Davee, Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees President.

The package includes:

New Campuses
  • Elementary School #25
    Located on Highway 3
    Slated to open 2008
    $16,138,869
  • Elementary School #26
    Located on Education Park at Highway 96 and Highway 146
    Slated to open 2009
    $16,921,360
  • Intermediate School #9
    Located on Education Park at Highway 96 and Highway 146
  • Slated to open 2011
    $35,074,664
  • High School #5
    Located on Education Park at Highway 96 and Highway 146
    Slated to open 2010
    $88,032,486
School Conversions
  • Clear Creek Ninth Grade Center
    Slated to open as an intermediate school 2008
    $4,177,099
  • Clear Lake Ninth Grade Center
    Slated to open as an intermediate school 2010
    $3,451,566
Capital Improvements
  • Roof Replacements
    $4,905,149
  • HVAC Replacements
    $2,259,600
Transportation
  • Bus Replacement (23-25 years old)
    $3,620,448
  • New Buses for growth
    $2,668,880
Secure Schools
  • Surveillance Cameras
    $327,150
  • Keyless Entry System
    $208,000
Classroom Additions and Renovations

24 High School Math and Science Classrooms
$5,339,730

The 40-member Citizens’ Bond Planning Committee developed the bond proposal after months of reviewing the district’s long-range strategic plan, demographic information and financial data including the Maintenance and Operations budget.

CCISD - School District Board of Trustees calls $183 Million Bond Referendum

Astronaut offers “Life Aboard the Space Station”

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

March 7, 2007

The Clear Lake Association of Senior Programs at University of Houston-Clear Lake invites area seniors and others interested in learning about a variety of topics to attend the March presentations of its ‘Visions in Our Midst” Speaker Series and Mini-class program.

CLASP discovers life aboard the space station from NASA astronaut William S. Mcarthur during the March 8 event, which will be held from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Bayou Building , Garden Room, 2700 Bay Area Blvd. , Houston .

On March 13, Pat Pate delves into the migratory patterns of Texas pioneers who migrated to Slovakia . The class is slated from 10:30 – noon at the Bay Area Community Center , 5002 NASA Road 1, Seabrook. This event is part of the CLASP mini-class series.

Admission to both events is free; reservations are requested for the March 13 event. For more information or to register, call the Office of Alumni and Community Relations, 281-283-2021, or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/clasp.

Higher Education - Astronaut offers “Life Aboard the Space Station”

Gov. Perry awards $12,000 to Texas Medical Board

Funds address recent increase in physician licensure applications

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

March 7, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry awarded $12,000 in grants to the Texas Medical Board for continued regulation of medical practice in the state.

This funding provides for additional personnel, investigation of medical malpractice cases, addressing cases scheduled for the State Office of Administrative Hearings, and expediting licensure of Texas physicians.

"Because medical liability reforms were so successful, Texas has been deluged by the number of physicians who want to practice medicine here," Perry said. "This grant will provide the Texas Medical Board with the necessary resources to quicken the process of licensing doctors who are vital to the health and well-being of all Texans."

The Texas Medical Board regulates certain licensed healthcare professionals in Texas and educates consumers regarding their rights in seeking quality healthcare.

Last June, the Office of the Governor provided $375,000 to the Texas Medical Board for administrative and case load support. With the growing demand for Texas medical licenses, the agency determined an additional $12,000 was needed to redirect resources necessary to manage the increasing demand for licensing physicians in Texas.

The Texas Medical Board currently has more than 2,500 licensure applications on file. A significant number of the applications were filed by physicians moving from other states. Only five months into the fiscal year, there are more applications pending today than the board licensed all of last year.

Gov. Perry supported Proposition 12, a constitutional amendment authorized by Texas voters in 2003 aimed at reducing frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits.

Since then, these reforms have improved access to physician services; the ranks of medical specialists are growing; doctors are bringing critical specialties to underserved areas; hospitals and physician groups are expanding services and upgrading medical technology; and professional liability premiums and hospital liability costs have been reduced.

Government - Gov. Perry awards $12,000 to Texas Medical Board

Attorney General offers tips to avoid travel scams

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

March 7, 2007

Points to remember:

Make travel arrangements only with companies you trust.

Get any travel offer in writing. Be aware of restrictions and extra fees.

Check airline and hotel reservations independently to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Never provide confidential information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the communication.

For more travel tips, find Your local Better Business Bureau at
www.bbb.org, or visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.ftc.gov.

You may file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s office online at www.oag.state.tx.us or by phone at (800) 252-8011.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN—Spring break and summer vacation are just around the corner, and many travel agencies will offer vacation packages or travel specials.

Before committing to a vacation promotion or travel offer, take the following simple precautions to help ensure you enjoy your vacation without losing your hard earned money to a travel scam.

Ask for the offer in writing. Timeshare resorts, travel clubs and other companies often provide vacation certificates or coupons to customers who agree to attend a marketing presentation describing the company's various products and services.

A typical vacation certificate may arrive unsolicited by mail, fax or e-mail, or you may receive a telephone call informing you that you have been "selected" to receive a "free vacation." The offer may include airfare and hotel accommodations. All you have to do, they say, is participate in the company's sales seminar.

Ask for the offer's details in writing, including cancellation and refund policies. Contact our office or your local Better Business Bureau to check the reliability of any company offering a travel bargain, especially businesses offering a timeshare resort or other vacation deal in exchange for attending a sales presentation.

Read the fine print. Once you receive the travel offer in writing, take the time to read the fine print and pay special attention to asterisks or footnotes. Often, these are indicators of restrictions, including limitations on the length of your stay or prohibitions on certain days or times of departure. Fine print may detail additional charges that you are responsible for, such as transportation fees and taxes.

In 2006, our Consumer Protection Division won a $64 million verdict against a travel company that misled the public about so called "free vacations." Investigators discovered that the company failed to provide information about a variety of fees, deposits, airline and hotel taxes and other costs linked to their offers.

The company also tightly restricted the dates on which these trips could be taken. The "free" vacation offers were only valid for one year, and consumers had to submit reservation requests at least 90 days before the desired departure dates. The company disclosed none of these restrictions until after the presentations and consumers had signed up.

Do not offer to pay a company without thoroughly reviewing the travel offer and understanding its limitations.

Confirm reservations independently. Another complaint associated with " free" or low-cost vacations is that promises for "five star hotels" often result in small, cramped rooms with bad food and questionable facilities. When travelers complain to the travel promoter, the promoter " finds" an "upgrade," usually at a much higher price, and leaves the travelers responsible for the added expense.

Check reservations and availability on your own. Request brochures directly from the hotel and find out what features are included in the price. The promoter may rave about a hotel's beautiful golf course, but that does not mean a round of golf is included in the package.

Ask the vacation promoter whether you can make your own travel arrangements if the designated hotel is booked. Smart travelers compare rates with those available through other travel agencies.

Remember that Internet specials on airfare or hotel accommodations do not guarantee that you will receive special requests, such as a room that allows pets.

Protect your identity. Do not provide credit card information over the phone or Internet unless you initiated the call or communication. Make travel arrangements only with businesses you trust.

Two years ago, our office took legal action against an operation that heavily promoted sweepstakes drawings for vacations and other prizes as a way to obtain consumers' personal information. The perpetrators then sold the personal information to a third party business without consumers' permission. Be careful not to give out confidential information for a travel promotion if you don't know how it will be used.

Secure your passport early. Finally, remember that U.S. citizens are now required to have a valid passport to exit and re-enter the United States, even for travel to Mexico and Canada. Consult a trusted travel agent to get passport information and updates, along with timely advice on all your travel needs.

For more information on this and other consumer topics, visit the
Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General offers tips to avoid travel scams


Older News: February 28, 2007


Creek advances to state Academic Decathlon

Creek advances to State

From Clear Creek Independent School District

February 28, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – The three high schools of Clear Creek ISD performed well at the recent regional Academic Decathlon Meet in Pearland. Clear Creek, Clear Lake and Clear Brook High Schools earned fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively.

Clear Creek High School’s team scored 37,792 total points, which is the team’s highest score in four years. Clear Creek High School will represent Clear Creek ISD at the state Academic Decathlon meet Feb. 23 - 25 at Cinco Ranch in Katy.

All three of the district’s high schools performed well at the meet, earning the following awards:

Clear Creek High School

Lulu Cheng, senior - Gold in Essay Honors, Silver in Economics Honors, Silver in Speech Honors, Bronze in Essay Honors

Mitchell Collins, senior - Gold in Interview Varsity, Bronze in Music Varsity, Bronze in Essay Varsity

Kahler Low, senior -Bronze in Art Scholastic

Ibreez Ajaz, junior - Bronze in Interview Honors

Travis Grefenstette, junior - Bronze in Mathematics Scholastic

The rest of the team also performed well:

Bryan Mathew, senior - Honors level

Joshua Hale, senior - Scholastic level

Dylan Ketcham, senior - Varsity level

Reuben Jacob, junior - Varsity level.

Clear Lake High School

Alex Battisti, senior - Bronze, Scholastic Interview, Bronze, Scholastic Mathematics

Jack Wehman, senior - Silver, Varsity Interview, Silver, Varsity Art

Lindsay Ripley, senior - Silver, Honors Mathematics

Grace Zhang, sophomore - Gold, Scholastic Language and Literature Bronze, Scholastic Mathematics

Kevin Kin, senior - Gold, Varsity Language and Literature

Prashant Prasad, senior - Honors level

Lauren Anderson, sophomore - Honors level

Walter Barta, senior - Scholastic level

James Deadrick, senior - Varsity level

Clear Brook High School

Lauren Engle, senior - Bold in Varsity Math

Alex Mitrowski, senior – Gold in Honors Art; top Honors for CBHS

Jennifer Tsao, senior - Bronze in Scholastic Speech

Joe Dwyer, senior - Silver in Scholastic Speech; Gold in School Interview; fourth ranked School Overall; top School for CBHS

Jason Colyer, senior - top varsity for CBHS

CCISD - Creek advances to state Academic Decathlon

Keynote address on social movements in the northern and southern borders of Mexico

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

February 28, 2007

The event will be held Feb. 28 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Bayou Building , Garden Room. It recognizes the month-long celebration of March as National Women’s History Month. Marisa Belausteguigoitia, director of the Gender Studies Program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, will offer information on social movements in the northern and southern borders of Mexico .

Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies Program Convener Teresa Van Hoy, 281-283-3303, or e-mail vanhoy@uhcl.edu.

Higher Education - Keynote address on social movements in the northern and southern borders of Mexico

Law enforcement agencies prepare for
Arrest Warrant Round-up

February 7, 2007

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureLEAGUE CITY—Law enforcement agencies from throughout Central Texas announced that they will combine forces in an arrest Warrant Round-Up which will begin Saturday, March 3 and will continue for several days.

Arrests will focus on residents with warrants from all participating jurisdictions. Over 140 Central Texas agencies will participate, including League City, Webster, Galveston, and Houston.

More than 100,000 notices were mailed to persons with warrants active against them in those jurisdictions. Although the concentration is on Class C charges, which include traffic, criminal parking, penal code and City ordinance violations, higher charge warrants will also be served.

Affected persons are urged to contact the appropriate jurisdiction or jurisdictions during the next two weeks to dispose of their cases voluntarily to avoid arrest.

Voluntary payments of warrants for League City can be made at the League City Municipal Court, 200 W. Walker, League City, TX 77573; Regular Business hours Mon.-Thurs. 7:30AM-5:30PM & Fri. 7:30AM-12:00PM. Payments may also be made at the League City Police Department, 500 W. Walker, after the court has closed. Call 281-554-1060 for more information.

Photo Credit: Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

League City News
- Law enforcement agencies prepare for Arrest Warrant Round-up

Cornyn and Feinstein introduce bill to ensure homeland security funding is based on risk

Bipartisan risk-based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007 would make sure funding goes where needed most

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

February 28, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice Chairman of the Republican Conference, joined U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Feb. 15 to introduce bipartisan legislation requiring that federal homeland security grants for state and local governments be allocated on a risk-based assessment. The Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007 would improve the way homeland security dollars are distributed and ensure funding goes to the most vulnerable places in the country in a fiscally responsible way.

“We must ensure that homeland security funding goes where it’s needed most,” Sen. Cornyn said. “It’s critical that we more effectively protect our nation’s citizens, vulnerable infrastructure and places where an attack could devastate the economy. So I hope our colleagues will support this bill to greatly improve the way homeland security resources are allocated.”

The Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007 would ensure that funding is most efficiently allocated by establishing a formula for homeland security grants based on risk, which takes into consideration threat, vulnerability and consequence. It requires states to quickly distribute federal funds to areas where they are most needed, provides greater flexibility and allows states to use the funding for other hazards consistent with federally established capability standards.

The Feinstein-Cornyn legislation would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002. It is an updated version of a bill introduced last year and is in line with Department of Homeland Security changes for 2007. It also simplifies the Urban Areas Security Initiative by ensuring that all previously eligible areas are certified.

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007 would:

  • Direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to allocate funding to homeland security grants based on risk analysis. This direction covers the four major first-responder grant programs administered by Department of Homeland Security in addition to some grants for seaport and airport security - called “covered grants” in the bill, including:
    1. The State Homeland Security Grant Program;
    2. The Urban Area Security Initiative;
    3. The Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program; and
    4. The Citizens Corps Program.
  • Reduce the “small state minimum” to .25 percent per state. Current practice requires each state to get .75 percent of much of the grant funding. That means roughly 38 percent of the funds are marked for distribution before any risk analysis.
  • Require grants be designed to meet “essential capabilities.” Essential capabilities refer to the ability of jurisdictions to address risks by reducing vulnerability to attack and diminishing the consequences of such an attack by effective response. This bill ensures that grant funds are properly accounted for and utilized within an integrated framework to enhance security.
  • Ensure that States quickly and effectively pass on Federal funds to where they are needed so that Federal funds are not held back and the process moves forward in a timely, efficient manner.

Below is Sen. Cornyn’s statement submitted for the Senate Record on the risk-based funding bill:

Mr. President, I rise today to join with my colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California , and several of our distinguished colleagues in introducing The Risk-Based Homeland Security Grants Act of 2007.

Senator Feinstein, myself, and other Senators have been working now for several years on changing how our homeland security dollars are distributed throughout the country. Some have been talking about the need for a risk-based allocation of assistance as long as the Department of Homeland Security has been in existence. Throughout these debates, Senator Feinstein has been a tireless advocate in this effort, and I would like to thank her for her fine leadership and collaboration in crafting this legislation.

The attacks on our country on September 11, 2001 were unprecedented in our history, and they brought with them the need for similarly unprecedented security measures. Our nation needed to respond quickly to the devastation that day delivered to our country, so the federal government created a system that worked to raise overall national emergency preparedness to ensure we could better guard against another such terrorist attack.

And so, we embarked on the task of shoring up our airline, transportation, border, and port security. We worked to protect our critical infrastructure, to protect our cyber security, our agriculture and food-supply systems.

But taxpayer dollars are not limitless, and Congress must work to ensure every penny be directed where it will do the most good. It is imperative that we guard the places across our nation where terrorists are most likely to strike, and where such strikes could do the most damage to our people, our government, and our national economy. We believe this is the most responsible way to prepare for any future attack.

We need to have a system that will protect our most vulnerable assets and populations – one that recognizes the need to protect the critical infrastructure and vital components of our national economy. I am reminded of this often when I travel around my home state of Texas . Recently, I met with officials and business leaders from Houston and Southeast Texas and discussed their homeland security needs. Their needs are enormous considering the vast amount of critical infrastructure and energy facilities in and among large population centers. The potential consequences of a terrorist attack on any of these facilities would be devastating, not only to the local communities, but to the economic engine of the whole country. Unfortunately, we got a small taste of effects of a disaster along America ’s energy coast during the storms of 2005—hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The legislation that Senator Feinstein and I are proposing would require that Federal Homeland Security funds be allocated to states according to a risk-based assessment. It is vital that we better allocate our limited resources to the vulnerable places in the country we most need to protect, and that that these funds are distributed in an efficient and timely manner.

Since we began this effort, I am pleased that there has been progress made. The considerations of threat, vulnerability, and consequence have been incorporated into more homeland security programs. But I’m concerned that we haven’t done enough. And I’m concerned that our homeland security dollars are being treated as a pie in which all states get to claim a piece, regardless of risk.

This approach is inconsistent if we truly evaluate the 9/11 Commission recommendations. They clearly call for allocation of money based on an assessment of risks.

Our legislation provides for a distribution formula for homeland security grants based on risk, which considers three main criteria: threat, vulnerability, and consequence. It requires states to quickly pass on federal funds to areas where they are most needed. It provides greater flexibility in using the funds, allowing a state to use them for other hazards consistent with federally established capability standards. And it allows States to retain authority to administer grant programs, but there are penalties for states that do not pass funds to local governments within 45 days, and if a state fails to pass the funds through, local governments may petition the Department of Homeland Security to receive the funds directly.

It is our hope and intent that, by introducing this bill, we can positively contribute and enrich the public discourse on this critical issue, and help move the nation toward a more rational and effective distribution of our homeland security resources.

Continuing to spread Homeland Security funds throughout the nation—irrespective of the actual risk to particular states and communities—would be to ignore much of what we have learned as part of our effort to assess our vulnerabilities since the attacks of September 11. So I would urge that we swiftly work to pass this legislation, to better ensure the safety of our citizens.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Government - Cornyn and Feinstein introduce bill to ensure homeland security funding is based on risk

Attorney General Abbott's fugitive unit arrests 12 convicted child sex offenders in Texas sweep

Dragnet also catches two Louisiana fugitives hiding in Texas

Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 28, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureCORPUS CHRISTI—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Fugitive Unit has arrested 12 convicted child sex offenders and two Louisiana criminals during a one-week South Texas fugitive operation. Convicted sex offender Eugene Fleming, Jr., 39, was arrested Feb. 15 in Houston for parole violation.

The Fugitive Unit arrested Louisiana fugitives who went into hiding during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina evacuation — Dominic E. Lampton, 39, in Houston and Billie Rose Robertson, 27, in Kingsville. Lampton is wanted for violating parole after a weapons offense conviction. Robertson is wanted by Louisiana authorities for violating probation on a fraud conviction. Since Hurricane Katrina, the Fugitive Unit has apprehended 27 Louisiana criminals with outstanding warrants who fled to Texas.

Government - Eugene Fleming-39-HoustonArrest picture Government - Dominic E. Lampton-39-HoustonArrest picture
Convicted sex offender Eugene Fleming, Jr., 39, was arrested Feb. 15 in Houston for parole violation. Convicted on a weapons offense, Louisiana fugitive Dominic E. Lampton, 39, was arrested in Houston for parole violation.

"Texans expect law enforcement to closely monitor convicted sex offenders. Protecting children is our highest priority," Attorney General Abbott said. "The Fugitive Unit will continue aggressively pursuing violent felons and missing parolees who pose a threat to our children. We are grateful to the local police and county sheriff's departments that helped us locate and arrest these dangerous criminals."

The Attorney General's investigators, working with local law enforcement officers in several South Texas counties, arrested eight men for violating Texas sex offender registration requirements. Six parole or probation violators were also arrested in the sweep, including two Louisiana fugitives.

Unregistered Sex Offender Arrests in South Texas

Alvin Smith
Pedro Arredondo
Richard Lemon
Salvador Cantu

Oliver Brown
Shelvy Grant
Robert McMullen
Patrick Schweikert

The Fugitive Unit caught the eight unregistered sex offenders as part of Operation Missing Predator, the Attorney General's statewide initiative to locate and arrest unregistered sex offenders.

Among the eight offenders arrested was Alvin Joe Smith, 50, who was apprehended Feb. 13 in Corpus Christi for failing to comply with mandatory sex offender requirements. In 1992, Smith was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted in Aransas County of indecency with a child.

Other unregistered sex offenders arrested in the roundup:

• Pedro Niklas Arredondo, 35, arrested Feb. 14 in Bee County

• Richard Lemon, 38, arrested Feb. 14 in Bee County

• Salvador Cantu, 45, arrested Feb. 12 in Kleberg County

• Oliver Brown, 39, arrested Feb. 13 in Nueces County

• Shelvy Grant, 35, arrested Feb. 14 in Nueces County

• Robert Ray McMullen, 50, arrested Feb. 13 in San Patricio County

• Patrick Lee Scweikert, 34, arrested Feb. 9 in Black River Falls, Wisc.

The successful sweep netted four other convicted sex offenders for parole violations:

• Lindsey Caldwell Duckworth, 56, arrested Feb. 14 in Austin

• Gilbert Nevarez Fraga, 60, arrested Feb. 16 in Austin

• Roy Ruben Guzman, 68, arrested Feb. 12 in San Antonio

• Eugene Fleming, Jr., 39, arrested Feb. 15 in Houston

Louisiana Fugitive Arrests

Billie Robertson
Dominic Lampton

The Fugitive Unit worked closely with local police departments in Beeville, Corpus Christi and Houston. The Attorney General's investigators also teamed with sheriff's offices in Harris, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Nueces and San Patricio counties to secure warrants and make arrests.

Attorney General Abbott's Fugitive Unit works with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and other law enforcement agencies to pinpoint and arrest fugitives with a history of sex crimes against children who have violated parole or sex offender registration requirements. Parole violations include failing to report to parole officers or being present in areas that might allow them access to young children. Since operations began in August 2003, the unit has arrested more than 400 sex offenders.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott's efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

Note: Reorganized for Houston area.

Government - Attorney General Abbott's fugitive unit arrests 12 convicted child sex offenders in Texas sweep

Get the details on "Trial" or "Special" offers

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 28, 2007

Points to remember:
Bank or debit account withdrawals

Beware of telephone or online solicitations for your bank or debit
account number.
If you do set up a demand draft, initiate the contact yourself.
Pay by bank draft only when dealing with a reputable company you
trust.
Know whether you are authorizing a one-time or recurring draft.
Verify the amount of future payments on recurring drafts.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN—After signing up for a "trial" or "special" offer, consumers often contact the Office of the Attorney General to complain about unauthorized withdrawals from their bank accounts. Shocked, they ask why their financial institutions allow debits without the account owner's express permission. More often than not, however, the consumer has agreed to the fund withdrawal under the terms of the offer.

Companies often use special or trial offers as a way to promote their products and services. Their mail, telephone, or e-mail offers often convince a consumer to agree to a small purchase. To make the purchase, the consumer is required to supply a bank account number. The seller uses the account information to perform what is called a demand draft on the account.

Demand drafts are legitimate forms of payment. They are processed like a check with just a name, account number and amount. Demand drafts do not require a signature. Many people use them as a convenient way to automatically pay monthly bills such as mortgages or car payments.

When you are dealing with a reputable business or company that you trust, demand drafts are a time-saving and efficient method of payment. Problems arise, however, when consumers purchase more than they intended. Many consumers report that their small, "one-time" purchase resulted in monthly drafts to their accounts, sometimes for amounts significantly greater than the original or trial offer.

Many trial offers will turn into a long-term contract unless the consumer cancels the contract within a certain period of time, usually within four to six weeks. In some cases, consumers report that it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach the seller to cancel the trial offer within the allotted time.

If you are considering a trial or special offer, proceed slowly if you are unfamiliar with the business or company. Do not provide financial information to or make purchases from unsolicited contacts. Even if it sounds legitimate, seek independent information about the company on your own, and then contact the company yourself if you are still interested. You should be very suspicious of an offer that is only available if you take it on the spot.

Read the agreement carefully before you sign it. Be sure you are clear on how to cancel the purchase if you decide you do not like the product after trying it.

Anytime you authorize a draft on your bank account, make sure that you understand whether you are authorizing a one-time charge or a recurring charge. If you are authorizing a recurring charge, confirm the amount of future payments. Initial purchases may be for just a few dollars, but be sure you know the amount you will be charged after the "trial" or " special introductory price" has expired.

Remember that you are protected by the law. Federal law mandates that sellers must disclose conditions associated with their offers and obtain your verifiable authorization before drafting your account. The seller must either get your written authorization, record your verbal authorization, or send you a written confirmation before they debit your bank account.

If your conversation is recorded, the seller must send you the date of the draft, the amount, the payer's name, the number of drafts, a telephone number where the company or business can be reached, and the date that you gave your oral authorization.

If a seller does not comply with these rules, ask for a refund. If you are refused a refund, contact your financial institution and advise them of the unauthorized draft. You may have to change your account number.

If you have a problem with a trial offer, try to resolve it with the seller first. If you are not satisfied with the response, contact your local better business bureau or file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.

To file a complaint with the Attorney General, call: 1-800-252-8011 or fill out an online complaint form at: www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Get the details On "Trial" or "Special" offers


Older News: February 21, 2007


League City News - Helen Hall Library Picture
League City Methodist Church's Rev. Robert Phillips practices his pancake flipping skills.

Annual Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper will be held at League City Methodist Church

February 21, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The church's annual Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper will be held February 20th. Ticket prices are $3 for children under 12, and adults can pay $5 each or bring their whole family for $15. This is a fundraiser for the Youth Program. For information, call 281-332-1557 or visit www.lcumc.org

League City News
- Annual Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper will be held at League City Methodist Church

District students provide refurbished computers for others

From Clear Creek Independent School District

February 21, 2007

CCISD - Refurbished computers for District students imageLEAGUE CITY – Jackie McCarty, a Landolt Elementary School kindergarten student, and Harv Hartman, chair of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership Education and Workforce Development Committee, load a computer into the McCarty family van. Photo by CCISD.

The family is one of several at Landolt Elementary school that received a donated refurbished computer as part of the IT4Students program.

Created by Jim Reinhartsen and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, and supported by MEI Technology, Rhapsody Solutions, Pennington Chen, TEI Staffing, Alliance Strategic Business Services, Sam Boyd, Don and Bonnie Lem, Fit Chiropractic and Summit Management Group, the purpose of the program is to promote digital literacy for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade.

CCISD - District students provide refurbished computers for others

Ceramic work exhibited at UH-Clear Lake

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

February 21, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Art Gallery showcases the work of Baylor University Professor of Art Paul McCoy during the “Ritual Vessels” exhibit, Feb. 6 – May 11. The Art Gallery, located in the Bayou Building, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

McCoy’s ceramic sculptures are based on human ritual and express the history of ritual activities in the human endeavor.

Admission is free. For more information about the gallery, contact Nick de Vries at devries@uhcl.edu or 281-283-3377.

Higher Education - Ceramic work exhibited at UH-Clear Lake

First high-intensity phase of Operation Wrangler made Texas safer

Contraband seized and suspects arrested

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

February 21, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Gov. Rick Perry Feb. 13 announced that the first high intensity phase of Operation Wrangler led to the apprehension of numerous criminals and drug shipments and made Texans safer. The first high-intensity phase of Operation Wrangler was conducted from January 17 to January 29, and involved the coordinated efforts of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Operation Wrangler remains an active law enforcement operation and will reenter the high intensity or “surge” phase in various geographic regions at various times in the future.

“The initial high intensity phase of Operation Wrangler has taken hundreds of criminals and thousands of pounds of illegal drugs off Texas streets,” Perry said. “This latest operation has not only made Texans safer, it underscores the need for lawmakers to provide the $100 million Texas needs to continue these operations while the federal government implements new border security measures.”

Operation Wrangler is the second phase of Operation Rio Grande, which was launched February 2006 and reduced all crime by an average of 60 percent in sheriff-patrolled areas of border counties during five surge operations. Operation Wrangler is the statewide expansion of those highly successful border security surge operations.

“We have a border security strategy that works,” Perry said. “When we substantially increase law enforcement personnel and resources, we see a significant disruption of criminal and illegal activity.”

Under continuing Operation Wrangler efforts, Perry said his office will continue to coordinate and stage similar intelligence-driven security operations along the border and drug and human smuggling corridors across the state.

“The international drug cartels and human smuggling rings will not be given the advantage of knowing when or where these operations will occur, what type of activities they will encompass, or how long the operations will last,” Perry added. “But they can be certain that when it comes to border security, Texas is not sitting idly by.”

The Border Security Operations Center within the State Operations Center serves as a central point of coordination for state, local and federal officials during Operation Wrangler. The 11 Joint Operational Intelligence Centers (JOIC) are positioned throughout the state and provide real-time information and intelligence in support of these surge operations. The JOICs located at border patrol offices along the border include El Paso, Marfa, Del Rio, Laredo and McAllen. Other centers are located along smuggling corridors at area law enforcement departments in Houston, Corpus Christi, Garland, Waco, Lubbock and Midland. Several New Mexico law enforcement agencies, including the state police and the border sheriffs, participated in this coordinated effort.

In addition to the more than 1,700 Texas Army National Guard (TANG) troops Gov. Perry activated for Operation Jump Start to support U.S. Border Patrol activities, he activated an additional 604 troops, comprising 12 armed security platoons. The TANG will continue to be deployed to various crossovers along the Rio Grande River to support Operation Wrangler, and will be accompanied by a Border Patrol agent and a local law enforcement officer.

Local, state and federal agencies involved in the statewide surge of Operation Wrangler included local sheriffs’ offices and police departments; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Transportation; the National Park Service; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Texas Civil Air Patrol; the Texas Cattleman’s Association; Texas Military Forces; Texas Task Force 1; the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Immigration & Customs Enforcement; the Railroad Police; the U.S. Transportation Security Agency; the U.S. Postal Service; the U.S. Coast Guard; and the University of Texas Center for Space Research. The above agencies and others will continue to work together, and targeted surge operations will be conducted based upon the evolving threat.

Perry has proposed that the Texas Legislature approve an additional $100 million during the legislative session to sustain border security efforts and ongoing operations.

“As I have said before, a strong Texas border means a safer America,” Perry said. “And until the federal government fulfills its responsibility to secure the nation’s borders, we will continue to exhaust all available means at the state level to secure the Texas-Mexico border and protect our families and communities.”

A summary of incidents from January 17 to January 29 is available below.

Operation Wrangler Summary of Incidents, January 17 – January 29
Criminal Gang Members Arrested

1 – LOCO 13 (local Rio Grande Valley)
2 Mexican Mafia
1 Hermanos Pistoleros
1 18th Street Gang
1 Valley Boys
1 Vallucos
4 Texas Syndicate
1 Texas Chicano Brotherhood
1 Sur 13
1 Tango Blasters

Contraband Seizures

Marijuana – 27,432 lbs
Crack and Powder Cocaine - 50,287 gms
Heroin – 8,221 gms
Methamphetamine – 8,745 gms
Ecstacy – 21 gms
PCP – 7gms
Prescription Drugs – 8,626 gms
Monetary Seizures

$1,695,806 cash (U.S. dollars)
17,200 pesos (= $1,565.20)

Probable cause referrals to the Border Patrol and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement

967 Mexican Nationals
430 Other Than Mexican Nationals
26 Special Interest Aliens (Jordan – 1; China – 7; Cuba – 1; Eretria – 1; Brazil – 16)
1350 Nationality Not Specified

Arrests Made for Crimes Against People

136 Human Smuggling
26 Aggravated Assault
5 Aggravated Robbery
2 Kidnapping

Arrests Made for Crimes Against Property

74 Stolen Vehicles
19 Burglaries
17 Thefts
Other Arrests

14 Firearms Violations
238 DWI
247 DWLI (Driving with license invalid)
169 Fugitive Warrants
25,760 Traffic Violations
2 Illegal Fishing

Government - First high-intensity phase of Operation Wrangler made Texas safer

Gov. Perry launches 4th annual Texas Round-Up

Each participant who completes the online training program will receive a signed certificate from Gov. Perry

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

February 21, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–Governor Rick Perry Feb. 14 kicked-off the 4th annual Texas Round-Up, a fitness challenge encouraging Texans to make exercise and healthy lifestyle choices part of their daily routine.

“The Texas Round-Up is a great way to motivate friends and family, and even ourselves, to get active and make healthier choices in our daily lives,” Perry said. “With the entire state of Texas as a running buddy, we can all reach our fitness goals.”

Since 2004, more than 54,000 Texans have participated in the Texas Round-Up. The program’s Web site offers an online training program for individuals to track their exercise progress, as well as access training tips and advice. Since last fall, individuals from around the state have competed in the “Fit Texan” contest, challenging themselves to change their unhealthy lifestyles and get in shape. The winner of the challenge will be announced at the final Texas Round-Up celebration in Austin.

This year, eighteen Round-Up affiliate cities are leading efforts to make the State of Texas the fittest in the nation. These cities are Bay City, Bevil Oaks, Dish, Dumas, El Paso, Euless, Georgetown, Grand Prairie, Houston, Northlake, Onalaska, Palestine, Pilot Point, Port Aransas, Roanoke, Slaton, Sugar Land and Temple. Several cities will hold fitness events in their local communities.

On Saturday, April 28, the Texas Round-Up celebration will finish with a fitness festival at the State Capitol. The festival encourages children and families to make fitness and nutrition a priority in their lives. Festivities include 5 and 10K competitive races, the family one-mile race, and a health and fitness expo. Each participant who completes the online training program will receive a signed certificate from Gov. Perry.

“Regardless of how busy we are, there are endless creative ways to work exercise into our daily routines,” said Perry. “Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a walk with a friend after work instead of going to dinner are small ways everyone can improve their health. I encourage all Texans to find an easy way to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.”

An avid runner, Gov. Perry has made fitness and healthy lifestyles choices an important part of his healthcare initiatives. Too many Texans face serious health problems as a result of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. Complications from being obese cost the state billions of dollars each year from lost productivity and increased burden on the healthcare system.

For a complete list of Texas Round-Up affiliate cities and fitness events, please visit www.texasroundup.org .

Government - Gov. Perry launches 4th annual Texas Round-Up

Protect yourself from investment fraud

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 21, 2007

Points To Remember: Considering Investment Opportunities

Determine how much financial risk you are willing to take.

Contact the Texas State Securities Board before making an investment.

Do your own independent research on investment products or funds.

Enlist the help of a trusted, knowledgeable and neutral third party.

Beware of high-pressure sales tactics and "reload" schemes.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureAUSTIN—Consumers often contact the Office of the Attorney General about the authenticity of certain investment opportunities. When shopping for investments, education and awareness are the keys to making wise decisions.

Keep in mind that any investment involves some degree of risk. Before considering an investment, determine what degree of risk you are willing to take in order to meet your financial goals and objectives. If you lack financial experience, enlist the help of a knowledgeable and neutral third party, like a certified public accountant or a licensed attorney.

Check with the Texas State Securities Board (SSB) to see if your salesperson is licensed to sell the investment product, even if the recommendation comes from someone that you have known or done business with for many years. Be skeptical of telephone pitches. It is highly unlikely that a legitimate investment opportunity will come to you in a telephone call from someone you don't know or in an unsolicited e-mail.

Ask questions and request written materials on the investment product from your sales representative. Evaluate recommendations by conducting your own research. Securities regulations require companies to disclose valuable information to investors by registering and filing certain documents with the SSB in order for you to make sound financial decisions about products and funds.

Information filed on an investment with the SSB may include a prospectus or other research reports. These disclosure documents may offer background on the company and the risks associated with the investment. They are not intended to predict future performance of an investment product. Remember that companies are not required to repay you for any losses you incur from investing in their shares.

Take your time when considering an investment product. Be wary of high-pressure sales pitches, promises of "high rates of return" or "no-risk guarantees." These tactics are commonly used by con artists to get your money before you have a chance to fully look into a product or fund. Legitimate investments are not guaranteed against loss. The SSB protects investors by ensuring that companies and sales representatives comply with securities laws and rules, but the SSB does not insure investments.

Monitor your investments carefully. If you do experience a loss on an investment, be extremely cautious of "reload" scams. Investors often panic after a loss, and con artists prey on this fear by making promises to recoup those losses by offering a new higher return on your money. If you become involved in this kind of scheme, you may end up losing even more money.

Con artists often attempt to exploit the complexity of financial investments. They may use flashy advertisements, technical language, false testimonials, or swanky offices to entice investors and lend credibility to their schemes.

The best way for you to avoid an investment scam is to do your homework, call your securities regulator before you invest, and seek the advice of an independent third party.

To determine whether your sales representative is licensed and whether
a securities investment is registered with the State of Texas, or to
report investment fraud, contact:

Texas State Securities Board
P. O. Box 13167
Austin, TX 78711-3167
(512) 305-8300
www.ssb.state.tx.us

For more information on this or other consumer topics, visit the Texas
Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us .

Government - Protect yourself from investment fraud

Cornyn highlights “missed priorities” in Omnibus

Backs amendments to restore funding cuts to key military, energy and education programs

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

February 21, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—Building on his efforts this month to restore $3.1 billion in funding for the U.S. military, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, announced Feb. 13 that he has filed two amendments to H.J. Res. 20, the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007, that will restore critical funding needed for the Department of Energy’s FutureGen Program and the U.S. Marshals Service. As with the $3.1 billion in military funding cuts that Sen. Cornyn is seeking to restore, millions of dollars for these important energy and security programs were cut when congressional Democrats drafted the $461 billion omnibus bill behind closed doors without any Republican input.

Noting, however, that the Senate Democrat Leader is expected to deny consideration of any amendments to the omnibus, Sen. Cornyn said these and other amendments highlight the missed opportunities and negative impact that this bill will have on a range of important initiatives. “Supporting our troops, lessening our dependence on foreign energy, and strengthening security here at home should be among the very highest priorities of the Congress. Yet, under this Democrat-drafted appropriations bill those three priorities will be stripped of critical funds and Republicans are being denied any opportunity to restore them. That is deeply disappointing and it represents a serious departure from the rhetoric we heard from Democrats when they took control of Congress last month,” Sen. Cornyn said today.

Sen. Cornyn has joined U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and others in offering an amendment that would restore this $3.1 billion in proposed cuts to the military, which would particularly harm military bases in Texas. The amendment proposes a .73 percent cut across the board for all federal spending except for defense, Veterans and homeland security funding. Sen. Cornyn continues working with his colleagues to push the measure through.

Among the programs where Sen. Cornyn is also seeking to restore funding, with budget offsets, is the FutureGen program which will see a $36 million budget cut under this legislation. FutureGen would research and develop cutting-edge technologies to build a zero-emission coal burning electric generation plant which would be a tremendous step forward in America ’s effort to strengthen its domestic energy supply and address air quality. “If successful, FutureGen technologies could help lower energy costs, increase domestic energy resources and eliminate sources of harmful pollutants. Yet, this omnibus appropriations bill pulls the carpet from under a program that seeks to address all of these needs,” Sen. Cornyn said.

Sen. Cornyn also introduced an amendment to restore $18 million to the U.S. Marshals Service, matching the President’s request of $826 million. “The protection of our federal judges by the U.S. Marshals is one of the most important, and perhaps least recognized, assignments in American law enforcement. It is important that we restore cuts that this bill makes to those who are on the front line when it comes to law enforcement and protecting the judiciary,” Sen. Cornyn said.

Finally, Sen. Cornyn noted that this legislation guts funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program to just $200,000 – well below the President’s request and the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Committee recommendation of $99 million. Sen. Cornyn is cosponsoring an amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to require TIF to be funded at $99 million. The Teacher Incentive Fund provides grants to encourage school districts and States to develop and implement innovative performance-based compensation systems that reward teachers and principals for raising student achievement and for taking positions in high-need schools. This amendment will restore $30 million of education funding to projects in Houston and Dallas.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Government - Cornyn highlights “missed priorities” in Omnibus

Gardening -  Master Naturalists collect seeds for prairie restoration Image Gardening -  Master Naturalists restore habitat Image

Master Naturalist Training Class to start March 1

By Julie Massey, Galveston County Extension Agent - Marine

February 21, 2007

Restoring the wildflower gardens at Texas City Prairie Preserve and conducting Camp Wild at Galveston Island State Park, where fifty Galveston kids enjoyed a week of science, nature and fun, are just two recent ventures for Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists.

In carrying out their mission of preserving and restoring natural areas and helping area residents learn about the environments that surround us, these *master volunteers* also build boardwalks, man nature centers, re-plant marshes and prairies and guide nature walks. But perhaps most satisfying of all, they have fun working and learning alongside others who share their love of the natural Texas.

The statewide program, sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Cooperative Extension, is open to any who want to enhance their love of nature with research-based, scientific knowledge and who are willing to dedicate 40 hours a year to environmental education and stewardship.

The next Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalist training program begins March 1st and continues through mid-May. Eleven Thursday classes conducted by recognized experts in their fields are held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a variety of area locations. Classes consist of morning lecture and afternoon sessions in the field and focus on the birds, plants, fish, oysters, marshes, beaches and prairies of the Galveston Bay area. Participants trawl the Bay, bird at Audubon*s Bolivar Peninsula preserves, explore the beautiful Armand Bayou prairie and seine in the Gulf of Mexico.

The program cost of $140 includes all materials and fees. To receive an application packet, contact Julie Massey, County Extension Agent - Marine, Galveston County at 281-534-3413, ext. 2 and 2 or by email at jmassey@ag.tamu.edu. You can also drop by the Galveston County Extension Office at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson.

Nature - Master Naturalist Training Class to start March 1


Older News: February 14, 2007


School Board 2007 election

From Clear Creek Independent School District

February 14, 2007

LEAGUE CITY –The Clear Creek Independent School District is holding a Board of Trustees general election and special election May 12. The District 1 and At-Large B positions are on this year’s general election ballot and District 3 is on the special election ballot. Terms are for three years, ending in May 2010.

CCISD - Board President Robert A. Davee image
Clear Creek ISD Board President Robert Allan Davee
Clear Creek ISD Board President Robert Allan Davee currently serves District 1, Clear Creek ISD Board Secretary Joanna Baleson currently serves as the At-Large B position and Clear Creek ISD Board Member Ken Baliker currently serves District 3. The Board of Trustees appointed Baliker to the Board in November to fill the position vacated by former trustee Dr. Glenn Freedman.

Applications and information packets are available at the CCISD Educational Support Center located at 2425 East Main St. in League City, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Applications for the general election may be submitted beginning Feb. 12 – March 12 and applications for the special election may be submitted Feb. 12 – March 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Maps of the Board of Trustees’ district boundaries are available online at www.CCISD.net in the School Board section of the Web site. For additional information, call Cindy Grisham or Pam Syers at (281) 284-0181.


Running for School Board Series

Interviews with School Board President Bob Davee

By Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

CCISD: Board President Bob Davee on Running for School Board

CCISD - School Board 2007 election

Higher Ed - Dream Alive = former Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers picture

University of Houston-Clear Lake invites all to attend the Dream Alive Program Wednesday, Feb. 21, 3 p.m., in the university’s Bayou Theater. Colorado’s former Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers will present the program, which offers an uplifting look at the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. For more information, call the university’s Office of Human Resources, 281-283-2164.

UH-Clear Lake hosts “Dream Alive” program

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

February 14, 2007

Explore the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. as University of Houston-Clear Lake presents the Dream Alive Program on Feb. 21, 3 p.m., in the Bayou Theater.

The program, co-sponsored by the university’s Offices of Human Resources, the President, and the Associate Vice President for Student Services, features live commentary by Colorado ’s former Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers and increases understanding of the numerous contributions made by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders.

“You will not want to miss it,” says UH-Clear Lake Executive Director of Human Resources Katherine Justice. “The program is an effort to help increase the understanding of the enormous contributions that Dr. King imparted to the nation and a reminder that his wisdom and vision are timeless.”

Rogers takes audience members back to the 1963 March on Washington where King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech reached an estimated quarter of a million Americans participating in the march. Following the Rogers presentation, audience members are asked to reflect on King’s words and think about how they relate to life in today’s society. The program concludes with the “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech King delivered in Memphis , Tenn. the night before his assassination in 1968.

In 2001, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System awarded Rogers with the Trumpet Award, one of the nation’s highest honors that recognizes African-America achievement. Past recipients of the award include Muhammad Ali, former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rogers had the distinction of serving as America ’s youngest Lieutenant Governor for Colorado in 2003. He is only the fourth African-American in U.S. history ever elected as a state’s number two executive.

As well as being as a national speaker, lecturer and practicing attorney, Rogers served on the seven-member National Commission on the Voting Rights Act in 2006. Rogers also penned his first book “The Letter to My Son,” which will be published this spring.

Admission to the event is free and open to the public. Groups of 20 or more are asked to reserve space by contacting UH-Clear Lake ’s Executive Director of Human Resources Katherine Justice, 281-283-2164.

University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 30 undergraduate and over 40 graduate degree programs, as well as a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit http://www.uhcl.edu .

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake hosts “Dream Alive” program

Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit arrests Houston-Area daycare worker for child pornography

Cybertip leads to discovery of hundreds of images of child pornography

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 14, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture HOUSTON—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit investigators have arrested Channelview daycare employee Renee Lofton, 21, for possession of child pornography.

“Texans will not tolerate criminals who exploit our children,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The Cyber Crimes Unit will continue its aggressive crackdown on sexual predators and child pornographers. We are grateful to the Harris County District Attorney’s office for their assistance as we strive toward a Texas that is safer for our children.”

Government - Renee Lofton - 21 - Channelview daycare employee picture
Renee Lofton, 21,
Channelview daycare employee

Lofton was arrested by Cyber Crimes Unit investigators Feb. 2 at her residence in Channelview. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators conducted a search of Lofton’s computer and external media after a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicated she was posting sexually explicit images of children on the Internet. External media confiscated from Lofton’s home revealed hundreds of images of child pornography.

Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting online child predators. In 2002, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which targets online predators by assuming the identities of young teenagers in Internet chat rooms, and the Fugitive Unit, which locates convicted child sex offenders who have violated the terms of their parole and could be stalking children. Attorney General Abbott's initiative has netted more than 500 arrests of such offenders. His office also has obtained convictions against 56 men on child pornography charges.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

For more information, contact the Texas Attorney General's office at (800) 252-8011 or visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit arrests Houston-Area daycare worker for child pornography

Perry designates additional emergency items for legislature

Plan calls for more incentive funding, 60 percent increase in financial aide and more accountability

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

February 14, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN– Gov. Rick Perry Feb. 5 declared additional emergency items for the 2007 legislative session. The emergency designation will allow lawmakers to begin considering these issues in the initial 30 days of the legislative session.

The emergency items include:

  • The general appropriations bill;
  • Legislation relating to making supplemental appropriations and reductions in appropriations;
  • Legislation relating to making appropriations to the Texas Education Agency for the purpose of school district property tax rate reductions;
  • Legislation relating to the management of the water resources of the state, including the protection of instream flows and freshwater inflows;
  • Legislation relating to the allocation and use of the sporting goods sales tax revenue to fund state and local parks; and
  • Legislation relating to the prosecution, punishment, and supervision of certain sex offenders and to certain crimes involving sex offenders.

“The sooner these legislative items are addressed, the sooner taxpayers will see results on these important issues,” Perry said. “By designating these issues emergency items, the Legislature can begin working on them very soon.”

Government - Perry designates additional emergency items for legislature


Older News: February 7, 2007


Law enforcement agencies prepare for
Arrest Warrant Round-up

February 7, 2007

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureLEAGUE CITY—Law enforcement agencies from throughout Central Texas announced that they will combine forces in an arrest Warrant Round-Up which will begin Saturday, March 3 and will continue for several days.

Arrests will focus on residents with warrants from all participating jurisdictions. Over 140 Central Texas agencies will participate, including League City, Webster, Galveston, and Houston.

More than 100,000 notices were mailed to persons with warrants active against them in those jurisdictions. Although the concentration is on Class C charges, which include traffic, criminal parking, penal code and City ordinance violations, higher charge warrants will also be served.

Affected persons are urged to contact the appropriate jurisdiction or jurisdictions during the next two weeks to dispose of their cases voluntarily to avoid arrest.

Voluntary payments of warrants for League City can be made at the League City Municipal Court, 200 W. Walker, League City, TX 77573; Regular Business hours Mon.-Thurs. 7:30AM-5:30PM & Fri. 7:30AM-12:00PM. Payments may also be made at the League City Police Department, 500 W. Walker, after the court has closed. Call 281-554-1060 for more information.

Photo Credit: Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

League City News
- Law enforcement agencies prepare for Arrest Warrant Round-up

Whitcomb students participate in Operation Uplink

From Clear Creek Independent School District

February 7, 2007

LEAGUE CITY –Students at Whitcomb Elementary School recently participated in Operation Uplink, a unique program that keeps military personnel and hospitalized veterans in touch with their families and loved ones by providing them with a free phone card. Organized by the Student Council, students raised $1,209.46 to purchase 169 phone cards for the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard out of Ellington Air Force Base.

“I can’t tell you enough how much that means to these brave men and women. On several occasions, I’ve had the opportunity to personally hand out Operation Uplink cards. There’s simply no way I can convey the excitement on a young face realizing that they’ll be able to talk to a spouse or child, or reach their parents at such an important time,” wrote Allen “Gunner” Kent, adjutant general of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, in a letter to the students of Whitcomb Elementary School.

The Whitcomb Elementary School students placed large jars for money collection in the cafeteria for the week leading up to Veterans Day and held a competition to see which grade could raise the most money. The Student Council asked students to bring pennies and spare change. As part of the event, students also compiled a list of all Veterans that were linked to the Whitcomb Elementary School family and the student council president read these names at the Veterans Day assembly.

CCISD - Whitcomb students participate in Operation Uplink

UH-Clear Lake names new dean of students

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

February 7, 2007

Higher Ed - Dean of Students Anthony
        Jenkins pictureUniversity of Houston-Clear Lake welcomed new Dean of Students Anthony Jenkins in January. Jenkins joined UH-Clear Lake after serving as associate dean of students at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

“We are excited to have Dr. Jenkins at UH-Clear Lake,” said UH-Clear Lake Senior Vice President and Provost Edward J. Hayes. “Dr. Jenkins brings a wealth of experience, and his enthusiasm permeates to all of the people he meets. He is a great addition to an already strong student services team.”

Jenkins, a native of Washington D.C., received his bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Fayetteville State University. He went on to receive his master’s in criminology from North Carolina Central University and a doctorate in higher education and student affairs from Virginia Tech University.

While serving at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Jenkins was responsible for the supervision of the Dean of Students office. He also served as an advocate/liaison for students in the university community and represented the assistant vice chancellor/dean in his absence. During his tenure in higher education, Jenkins has researched and presented in the areas of mentoring, high school violence and first-generation students of color.

“ I’m here at UH-Clear Lake to be an agent of change and I am excited about the prospect,” said Jenkins. “We must continue to change the way we do things and improve upon our successes.”

At UH-Clear Lake, Jenkins oversees programs and services that are designed to support students in both academic and co-curricular pursuits. Services directed by the Dean of Students Office include the campus information desk, advocacy and referral services, the Student Assistance Center, student judicial services and student retention services.

Higher Education - UH-Clear Lake names new dean of students

Attorney General Abbott halts company that duped consumers with deceptive credit card offer

Cross Country Bank’s scheme targeted consumers with tarnished credit scores

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 7, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today prevented a Delaware bank from targeting Texas consumers with misleading credit card offers and abusive collection tactics. The Attorney General’s settlement with Cross Country Bank Inc., now known as Applied Card Bank, and its affiliate, Applied Card Systems, ends a scheme aimed at consumers with low incomes or tarnished credit scores.

Under the terms of the agreed final judgment and permanent injunction, the defendants must comply with strict debt collection guidelines and are prohibited from misleading consumers about their cards. In addition to paying $1.3 million in penalties and attorneys’ fees to the state, the defendants must provide refunds and/or credits to eligible consumers.

“Texans will not tolerate creditors who abuse or mislead consumers,” said Attorney General Abbott. “With lower-than-advertised credit limits, hidden fees and abusive debt collection practices, these defendants gave their customers a raw deal. This settlement sets new standards, ensuring that these defendants will treat debtors fairly.”

Attorney General Abbott filed suit against the defendants in June 2004, alleging the companies preyed on consumers with no credit or bad credit ratings, urging them to apply for credit cards to improve their credit history. Through direct mail solicitations, Cross Country Bank told consumers that the cards had credit limits of up to $2,500. When cardholders received their first billing statement, however, they discovered that the company set their actual credit limit at approximately $350, a limit that many cardholders unwittingly exceeded. Consumers also found that they were assessed a $150 start-up fee, hidden charges, as well as interest rates in excess of 20 percent.

Unable to gain control of their accounts as finance charges, over-the-credit-limit fees and other charges accrued, many of the defendants’ cardholders fell into a downward spiral. An affiliated company, Applied Card Systems, would thereafter begin an unlawful collection effort, harassing the cardholders with repeated and sometimes threatening or obscene telephone calls.

Restitution is available for consumers who received unsecured credit cards from Cross Country Bank between Jan. 1, 2002, and July 30, 2004, exceeded their credit limit within 17 days of the first billing date, but who did not use their credit card more than 17 days after the first billing date. Eligible consumers will automatically receive a credit of all charges, fees and other amounts the company charged cardholders, excluding actual goods and services purchased with defendants’ credit cards.

Cross Country Bank must contact credit reporting agencies to provide updated and corrected information for each eligible consumer. In addition, eligible consumers who made payments that exceeded their actual purchases may file a complaint with the Attorney General or Cross Country Bank within 75 days of today’s court filing to receive a refund of the difference.

Consumers who believe they may be eligible to receive restitution under this settlement should call the Office of Attorney General at (800) 252-8011. Consumers may also mail complaints seeking restitution to Cross Country Bank at:

50 Applied Card Way
Glen Mills, PA 19342

Government - Attorney General Abbott halts company that duped consumers with deceptive credit card offer

Gov. Perry calls for higher education reforms

Plan calls for more incentive funding, 60 percent increase in financial aide and more accountability

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

February 7, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN– Gov. Rick Perry Feb. 1 proposed an ambitious higher education reform plan, directing responsible investment in the academic rigor and future success of Texas’ students and universities.

“Today I am proposing major reforms to higher education that will reward colleges and universities for every student that earns a degree, lead to more degrees awarded in critical fields like computer science and nursing and increase financial aid by $360 million,” Perry said. “If lawmakers adopt this plan, the ultimate result will be a higher education system that is more affordable, more accountable and more focused on meeting the needs of tomorrow’s global marketplace.”

The comprehensive higher education reform plan includes measures to:

• Increase higher education funding by $711 million in general revenue ($1.7 billion all funds).
• Increase financial aid by 60 percent, or $362 million.
• Fully fund the higher education operations formula.
• Substantially change the funding mechanism by eliminating “special items,” or earmarks, so funding increasingly follows students instead of schools.

“While our two largest university systems have been ranked among the best values in the country, we must do more to improve access to a college education for students of all income levels,” Perry said. “If students have proven themselves in high school and need financial assistance to better their future, Texas should pay their tuition and fees.”

Budgetary allocations will provide for an incentive program for well-performing universities and colleges, an increase in need-based and performance-driven financial aid, and the creation of alternative programs to address nursing shortages statewide.

The governor also repeated his call for transparency in budgetary expenditures today, recommending the Legislature eliminate vague lump sum appropriations to higher education institutions.

Note: Exit exams also required.

To protect integrity of the incentive funding program, baccalaureate graduates must take an exit exam. Students can still graduate with a low score on the exit exam, but universities receive an additional weight, and more money, for students with higher scores on the exams.

Universities receive an additional weight, and more money, for higher scores on the exams. If the student graduates in a field with a licensure exam, that exam is used. In other fields, the Educational Testing Service’s major field tests are available. These exams exist for various degree areas, such as biology, business, criminal justice, education, music and political science.

Government - Gov. Perry calls for higher education reforms

League City Methodist’s “Mosaic” revs up

February 7, 2007

League City United Methodist Church continues to make strides in its outreach programs, combining new initiatives with the refining of existing programs. This past June, the church took possession of 22 acres at the corner of Brittany Bay Blvd. (now League City Parkway) and Calder Road, with future intentions to build a new church campus. While many of the church staff members are working towards the building of that campus, many others are concentrating on building from the inside.

Case in point: Mosaic, the contemporary worship service held each Sunday at 11:00 am. With a logo depicting a mosaic cross, the slogan “coming together piece by peace” reflects the priorities of a congregation not fully served by traditional services in other churches. “We are pleased to be able to offer both a strong traditional service side by side with a more contemporary service,” said LCUMC Senior Pastor Bill Jenkins. “League City Methodist indeed has something for everyone, and we invite everyone to find their place with us.”

Held in the church’s Family Life Center, Mosaic is led by LCUMC’s Associate Pastor Kay Alewine, and features the praise band “A Few Small Fish.” Having performed at local events, the band is well-liked and continually draws a crowd. The coordination of the service, which includes music, drama, visual aids and multi-media is handled by LCUMC members Dell Tamblyn and Brian Worrell. Both are integral parts of the Mosaic service, and take turns working during the services.

Developing the Mosaic services is described by Pastor Alewine as “wading deeper into the water of worship.” Full of enthusiasm, she maintains that moving towards more intensified worship is the next big goal, and “we’re just getting started!”

A member for two years, Brian Worrell and his family searched for a church before settling at League City Methodist. “Mosaic is who we are,” he says. “It’s okay to clap and get excited and praise God with music.” He’s also quick to point out that the service is made up of many individuals, all working hard to bring together a time of worship each Sunday for the people, often first time visitors, that line up outside the Family Life Center.

Religion - Dell Tamblyn pictureAs the Coordinator of Adult Ministries since 2001, Dell Tamblyn is a part of nearly everything at LCUMC, and Mosaic is very special to her. Known as one of the originators of the worship band, Tamblyn constantly looks for ways to make the service better. “My wish is that people will find a place with us where they can belong, and feel free to worship and joyfully serve the Lord in a comfortable atmosphere.”

The chorus of a popular Christian song sums up what Mosaic is all about: “Come as you are and surrender your heart, broken and beautiful...”

League City United Methodist Church is located at 1411 Main Street one block east of Interstate 45. For information on the church, call the offices at 281-332-1557 or visit the church Web site at www.lcumc.org, or the Mosaic website at www.mosaicworship.org.Go to Section Links

Religion - League City Methodist’s “Mosaic” revs up


Older News: February 1, 2007


Tax assistance available at Helen Hall Library

February 1, 2007

League City News - Helen Hall Library PictureLEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host AARP Tax Assistance on Mondays and Tuesdays beginning Feb. 5 through April 10, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the second floor of Helen Hall Library.

This assistance is free of charge. AARP will also offer E-filing.

Persons seeking assistance are asked to bring tax filing forms from the previous year and all 1099 forms for 2006, as well as social security numbers for all dependents.

For more information call Adult Services at 281-554-1101.

Photo Credit: Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

League City News
- Tax assistance available at Helen Hall Library

School District honors retiring military science leader

From Clear Creek Independent School District

February 1, 2007

School District - Scaly Friends imageLEAGUE CITY –For more than 20 years, Major General John H. Bailey, II, led and enhanced the Clear Creek ISD military science program. To thank him for his years of service, the students of the Clear Creek ISD military science program invite the community to attend a celebration in his honor from 5 to 7 p.m., Feb. 1, at League City Intermediate School located at 2588 Webster St. in League City.

“General Bailey has been the heart and soul of the district’s military science program,” said Major Earnest P. Brown, senior army instructor for Clear Lake High School. “He has been a mentor and role model for thousands of students. This program is our opportunity to say thank you for all he has done for the students and community of Clear Creek ISD.”

Bailey came to Clear Creek ISD in 1984. His love of service and dedication to the children of the district has been the cornerstone of the success of the district’s military science program. As the program director, he founded the highly successful Leadership Development Corps for cadets in grades six - eight. This program, which teaches leadership development, teamwork and a positive can-do attitude, has expanded to schools in Houston ISD, Dallas and Oklahoma.

The majority of Bailey’s life has been dedicated to flying and to military service. At eight years old, Bailey wrote a poem about flying that he kept inside his helmet during his two tours of duty in Vietnam. The poem, "Challenge," is recorded in the United States Library of Congress.

In 1991, General Bailey became the first African-American to attain the rank of brigadier general in the Texas State Guard, an honor bestowed upon him by former Governor Ann Richards. One year later, he established the State Championship for Military Skills to give JROTC units across Texas an opportunity to achieve state recognition, just as sports teams and musical groups do. Texas A&M University annually hosts this event.

In 1994, former Governor George W. Bush promoted General Bailey to major general and appointed him commanding general of the Texas State Guard. He served in that capacity until his retirement from the guard in 1997.

For more information about Bailey’s retirement program, please call Maj. Brown at (281) 284-2490, or send him an email at ebrown@ccisd.net.

CCISD - School District honors retiring military science leader

Conference seeks creative projects

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

February 1, 2007

University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Student Conference for Research and Creative Arts invites currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, including student actively engaged in thesis or dissertation projects, to submit research and creative arts projects.

The conference slated for April 18-19 showcases students’ individual and small group projects. A project abstract or description of no more than 300 words should be included with all applications. Projects must have a faculty sponsor name listed.

Applications and abstracts must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2007 to be considered for acceptance. Notices of acceptance will be distributed in March 2007.

For more information, call the Student Conference Office, 281-283-3374, or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/researchartsconference.

Higher Education - Conference seeks creative projects

Attorney General Abbott’s settlement with company requires disclosure of drug risks

Bayer Corp. pays states $8 million, agrees to post results of studies clearly outlining any risks

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

February 1, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture DALLAS—Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Jan. 23 reached an agreement requiring Bayer Corp. to fully disclose when drugs pose risks for patients with specific health conditions. Under the multi-state agreement, Bayer will pay 30 states $8 million, including $200,000 to the state of Texas.

According to the settlement, Bayer failed to adequately warn physicians, pharmacies and patients of clinical studies revealing serious consequences of taking Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug. The company pulled the drug from the market in August 2001 due to its muscle-weakening side effects. The terms also extend to the disclosure of clinical studies involving other Bayer drugs with possibly harmful side effects.

“Texans deserve to be fully informed about the adverse effects of their medications,” said Attorney General Abbott. “This agreement ensures that patients have access to the information they need to make educated health care decisions.”

The terms of the judgment require that Bayer register its clinical studies and, upon the completion of each study, post the results on the Internet. The marketing, sale and promotion of Bayer’s pharmaceutical and biological products must comply with the law and cannot include false or misleading claims.

In 1997 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Baycol, a “statin” cholesterol-lowering prescription drug, which Bayer began marketing to the medical community in May 1998. While patients who take statin drugs frequently experience muscle-weakening side effects, Bayer failed to disclose that its product posed significantly greater risks than did statins produced by other drug companies. Additionally, Bayer did not reveal that the muscle-weakening effects were particularly acute among those patients who were also taking other statin drugs.

Because of Bayer’s failure to disclose risks exacerbated by its product, patients who were prescribed Baycol were not informed of its potential side effects. Concealing risks in the name of profit violates the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Government - Attorney General Abbott’s settlement with company requires disclosure of drug risks

Cornyn co-sponsors bipartisan bill to bolster security for judges

Legislation Will Protect Judges and Their Families Against Increased Threats of Violence

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

February 1, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, former judge and Texas Supreme Court Justice, joined a bipartisan group of Senators Wednesday in introducing legislation to strengthen and expand protections for judges and their families.

The Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 was introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the panel’s ranking member. It has several co-sponsors. House Judiciary Committee members introduced a bipartisan companion bill as well.

“We must do all we can to provide adequate security to the dedicated men and women who are too often targeted for violence or harassment simply because of the position they hold,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Congress should act to ensure that certain and swift punishment awaits those who engage in these unconscionable acts of violence. This bill takes important steps toward protecting those public servants who administer justice in our country.”

Key provisions of the The Court Security Improvement Act of 2007:

· New criminal penalties for the misuse of restricted personal information to threaten to seriously harm judges, their families or other individuals performing official duties;

· Enhancing penalties for tampering with or retaliating against witnesses;

· New resources for state courts to improve security for state and local courts;

· Provisions extending life insurance benefits to bankruptcy, magistrate and territorial judges.

On a related note, Sen. Cornyn introduced legislation last year to provide additional protection for judges, police officers and other courthouse officials from those who seek to do them harm. The Court and Law Enforcement Protection Act increases security for those who work in courthouses and toughens penalties for crimes against them. Sen. Cornyn plans to re-introduce similar legislation this year.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

Government - Cornyn co-sponsors bipartisan bill to bolster security for judges

Cornyn appointed to top Republican spot on Armed Services Airland Subcommittee

Will serve as ranking member on key senate panel for Air Force and Army in Texas

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

February 1, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has been selected to serve as the top Republican on the Armed Services Airland subcommittee, according to an announcement by committee leaders on Jan. 19. In addition, Sen. Cornyn will remain a member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee.

“I’m honored to serve as ranking member of this subcommittee, as it has a key role in the oversight of Army and Air Force programs critical to our national defense,” Sen. Cornyn said. “ Texas plays an important part in the development of many of these programs, including the Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-22 and the Army’s Future Combat System. So serving on this subcommittee will not only help me ensure that our national security needs are met, but that Texas will continue to stand at the forefront of defending our nation.”

The Airland subcommittee has jurisdiction over the majority of Army and Air Force procurement programs, including the Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-22 and the Army’s Future Combat System. The subcommittee also has jurisdiction over Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation programs, and Army and Air Force National Guard and Reserve programs.

The Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, which Sen. Cornyn previously chaired, has jurisdiction over several areas important to Texas and the nation. It oversees programs to counter terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The subcommittee also has jurisdiction over chemical weapons demilitarization programs.

Government - Cornyn appointed to top Republican spot on Armed Services Airland Subcommittee

blueberry bush Auer imageBlueberry bushes and mango trees will be sold at the 2007 Master Gardener’s plant sale on Saturday, Feb. 3 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Carbide Park’s Wayne Johnson Community Center, 4102 FM 519 in La Marque. The Fruit Tree Seminar will be presented by Heidi Sheesley of TreeSearch Farms from 8 to 9 a.m. Photo of mangos and Meyer lemon by TreeSearch Farms.

The rare and delicious are featured at Feb. 3 Seminar & Plant Sale

By Alcestis "Cooky" Oberg, Guest columnist and Galveston County Master Gardener

February 1, 2007

Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar

SATURDAY, Feb. 3: Master Gardeners Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar. Carbide Park’s Wayne Johnson Community Center, 4102 FM 519 in La Marque. Seminar at 8:00 a.m. Sale from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Open to the general public. No reservation required.

The photo shown here displays appealing fruits but would you guess that they were locally grown?

Apart from the usual selection of perfect pears, peaches, plums, figs and apples for our area, this year’s Galveston County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale will also feature a huge assortment of rare tropical fruit trees, not often found at other area nurseries. These include avocados, mangos, star fruit, guava, Barbados cherries, pomegranates and papayas. And if your home-grown tropical fruit salad could use some berries, there will be a large assortment of blueberries, blackberries and grapes available at the sale too.

This once-a-year opportunity to get the perfect fruit trees for Galveston County will happen at the annual Galveston County Master Gardener Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale at the Wayne Johnson Community Center in Carbide Park (4102 FM 519, La Marque) on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Prior to the fruit tree sale from 8 to 9 a.m. in the Wayne Johnson Community Center, Heidi Sheesley of TreeSearch Farms will provide a color-slide presentation on featured fruit trees. Preregistration is not required but seating is limited, so come early.

Proceeds from the plant sale are used to develop and maintain the Horticulture Demonstration Garden located at the Galveston County Extension Office which the public is invited to enjoy and learn from year-round.

Visit the Web site below or contact the Galveston County Extension Office for additional information (281-534-3413, ext. 1-2).

Global Warming and New Fruits

Some local horticulturists think that Earth’s current climatic warming trend will allow places like Galveston County to grow more tropical-type fruits and many more citruses than in the cooler decades of the last century. While tropical fruit trees might still have to be protected during cold snaps like the one we experienced in mid-January, there has been a significant scientific effort to breed heartier varieties of tropical and citrus fruits that can withstand some bracing weather.

The three varieties of avocados at the sale—Opal, Wilma and the new "Fantastic"—can probably tolerate temperatures into the 20's when mature, along with most varieties Kumquats and Satsuma oranges. The papaya, Barbie Pink guava, star fruits and the wonderful fragrant allspice trees will certainly require protection.

My allspice tree, for instance, resides in a patio pot and is easily pulled in when freezing temperatures threaten. The leaves make a terrific smoking component to barbecue chicken and a great flavor enhancer to stews and soups. When full grown, the allspice tree produces delicate, white fragrant blossoms in the spring, followed by the famous allspice berries, used worldwide in fine cooking.

BLUEBERRIES R US

While blueberries generally detest our alkaline gumbo soil, they can thrive if people plant them in raised beds full of peat moss. Due to the huge response to the County Extension Office’s recent seminar in blueberry-growing, six varieties, perfect for our temperatures, are offered in this year’s sale: Brightwell, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, Woodard and Sharpblue. The health benefits to memory and disease-fighting are well documented in medical literature, and BLUEBERRIES are sure to be a welcome addition to the Galveston County home garden.

CITRUS GALORE

Most Galveston County residents seek out this great annual sale for the great assortment of citrus trees offered which perform well under our growing conditions. The Master Gardeners have corralled the best and most reliable varieties for the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas and have even produced an award-winning book on their care.

Due to the huge demand for these great and hard-to-find citrus trees, this year’s sale will have more citrus trees available for sale than in any previous year. These include the famous Republic of Texas orange, many varieties of cold-hearty satsumas and kumquats, along with a delicious array of mandarins, navel and blood oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. Even the fascinating ancient Buddha's Hand—used candied by gourmet chefs and as a great visual element by florists—will be available.

CAN ONLY GET THEM HERE

Tropic Snow peaches, Tennessee pears, June plums, Sugar Apples and many other perfect varieties of stone fruit can only be purchased at this sale. Also offered are five different pomegranate varieties snapped up last year and five great figs too: the tried and true Celeste, LSU Purple, Banana, and two new varieties — LSU Gold and South Carolina Lemon Fig.

For the truly adventurous, there will also be some jujubes, jambus, strawberry trees, cherries of the Rio Grande and pawpaws. Jujubes are called "Asian dates" because they taste somewhat like a date when eaten as dried fruit. They grow very well in Galveston County.

Though availability of fruit and citrus trees will be good this year, it’s always best to show up early for the widest selection.

Visit the Web site below or contact the Galveston County Extension Office for additional information (281-534-3413, ext. 1-2). Proceeds from the plant sale are used to develop and maintain the Horticulture Demonstration Garden located at the Galveston County Extension Office which the public is invited to enjoy and learn from year-round.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his Web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

Gardening - The rare and delicious are featured at Feb. 3 Seminar & Plant Sale


Older News: January 24, 2007


Edible fruits for the adventurous gardener

By Dr. William M. Johnson
Galveston County Extension Agent - Horticulture

January 24, 2007

Square Foot Gardening Seminars and
Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar

SATURDAY, JANUARY 27: A Home Gardener’s Guide for Square Foot Gardening. 9:00-11:30 a.m. at the Galveston County Extension Office. Topics include basic designs, soil preparation, plant selection and establishment, insect pest & disease control, and general care. Class size limited to 32. No fee but reservation required (281-534-3413, ext. 1-2 or GALV3@wt.net).

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3: Master Gardeners Fruit Tree Sale & Seminar. Carbide Park’s Wayne Johnson Community Center, 4102 FM 519 in La Marque. Seminar at 8:00 a.m. Sale from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Open to the general public. No reservation required.

Avocado imageWhether you plan to add to your existing collection of fruit trees in the landscape or you are just starting out, be sure to make a notation on your gardening calendar to attend the Galveston County Master Gardeners Fruit Tree Seminar & Sale on Saturday, February 3, 2007. There will be an offering of the "normal stuff" such as a wide assortment of apples, citrus, Asian and European pears, plums, peaches, figs, grapes, blackberries, and pecans.

There will also be a selection of fruit trees for the adventurous. Some gardeners will be delighted by some very different, hard-to-find-them-anywhere fruits that may do well in our yards.

Mexican Avocados are a highlight in this year Master Gardener’s plant sale. Yes, we offered them at last year’s sale. And yes, we did not have many to offer on the day of the sale. We have made an extra effort to better ensure that we will have a larger supply on hand (at this time we anticipate 75 plants).

More: Gardening - Edible fruits for the adventurous gardener

Big League Dreams named
“ 2006 complex of the year”

January 24, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—The United States Specialty Sports Association has named League City’s Big League Dreams Sportsplex the “2006 Complex of the Year”.

The United States Specialty Sports Association, or USSSA, is the fastest growing baseball program in the United States. The award is based on the care and conditioning of the playing fields and facilities, organization of the events, and overall customer service. Only those facilities that are used by the USSSA are considered. Danny Brown, Assistant Executive Director of the USSSA, commented that League City’s Big League Dreams complex was rated second to none, “Including Disney”.

Mayor Pro-Tem Tommy Cones wanted to share this exciting information to the citizens and local public. Cones stated he was delighted to hear that the League City Big League Dreams was selected as the Best Park overall. He stated that he knew BLD was going to be a big success for League City from the start.

Big League Dreams League City has over 250,000 players and spectators come through their gates in 2006, approximately 20% above projections. They led all other Big League Dream complexes in youth tournament teams in 2006.

For event information, call 281.316.3400.

League City News
- Big League Dreams named “2006 complex of the year”

School District - Clear Creek High School 9th Grade Center image

The 46th Annual District Science Fair will be held On Feb. 19 and 20. The Secondary Division will be held at the Clear Creek High School Ninth Grade Center and the Elementary Division will be held at Brookside Intermediate. Photo Credit - Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online.

Students to participate in district Science Fair

By Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

January 24, 2007

More than 800 students participate in District science fairs each year. Competition begins at the school level. Winners advance to the CCISD District Science Fair. Secondary district winners advance to the Science Engineering Fair of Houston which will be held Thursday, March 22 through Saturday, March 24, 2007.

The elementary division of the District Science Fair will be held at Brookside Intermediate School on Feb. 19 and Feb 20. Elementary categories are Biological Sciences, Consumer Sciences, Earth/Space Science, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

The secondary division of the District Science Fair will be held at the Clear Creek High School Ninth Grade Center on Feb. 19 and Feb 20. Secondary categories are Behavioral/Social Sciences, Biochemistry/Microbiology, Botany, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth/Space Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Medicine and Health, Physics and Zoology.

The public is invited to the public viewing on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 from 5 to 8 p.m. at each respective school gymnasium.

The secondary awards ceremony will be in the Clear Creek High School Ninth Grade Center auditorium on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 at 7 p.m. The elementary awards ceremony will be held in the Brookside Intermediate School commons area on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 at 7 p.m.

Source: CCISD data

Updated: February 6, 2007

CCISD - Students to participate in district Science Fair

School District Seeks Science Fair Judges

By Marilyn Clark, League City Area News Online

January 24, 2007

About 200 Science Fair judges at the elementary and secondary level are needed for the CCISD 46th Annual District Science Fair to be held on Monday, Feb. 19, 2007. Judges at the secondary level will spend an afternoon evaluating projects, discussing projects with the students, and conferring with other judges to select the winners in each category. Elementary students will not be interviewed. Training is available for elementary and secondary judges.

Information about becoming a science fair judge is available on the District Web site at http://www.ccisd.net/frontpage/scifair_homepage.asp .

Former science fair judges will not need to reapply but new applicants will need to complete the volunteer application form. Online application forms are available in English and Spanish at http://www.ccisd.net/frontpage/scifair_judge_register.asp . Science fair judges may also register by contacting Elizabeth Nixon at (281) 284-0090.

For more information about becoming a secondary level judge, email Terri Berry, CCISD Science Coordinator, at tberry@ccisd.net or call her at 281-284-0089.

To obtain more information about becoming an elementary level judge, email Anne Smith, CCISD Elementary Science Coordinator, at amsmith@ccisd.net or call her at 281-284-0090.

Source: CCISD data

Updated: February 6, 2007

CCISD - Judges needed for 46th annual CCISD science fair

Community Outreach Day planned for Feb. 10

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

January 24, 2007

Lend a helping hand in the Houston area as University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Student Leadership Institute sponsors its biannual Community Outreach Day, Feb. 10, 7:45 a.m. – 4 p.m., at various Houston area locations.

Students, faculty, staff and university friends are invited to participate in a variety of community service projects, including Habitat for Humanity in Baytown, the Environmental Institute of Houston at UH-Clear Lake and First Book, an international nonprofit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

In conjunction with First Book, the Student Leadership Institute and the Association for Childhood Education International student organization are also requesting book donations for the reading party that will be held during Community Outreach Day.

New or gently used picture books, small chapter book (50-200 pages), or science and social studies books appropriate for pre-kindergarten through junior high school children may be donated through Feb. 8. Donations may be taken to the university’s Office of Student Life, located in the Student Services and Classroom Building , Room 1204.

For more information or to register for Community Outreach Day, call the Student Leadership Association, 281-283-2611, or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/SLI.

Higher Education - Community Outreach Day planned for Feb. 10

Popular physics lectures continue

From The Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

January 24, 2007

HOUSTON — Clear Lake’s Spring Physics Seminar Series continues with “The Vacuum as a Medium” by Rice University Professor of Physics Paul Stevenson Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Bayou Building , Room 1313, 2700 Bay Area Blvd. , Houston .

Challenges in exploration seismology is the topic slated for the Feb. 1 event, which begins at 7 p.m. Arthur Weglein, the Hugh Roy and Lillie-Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Physics at University of Houston, shares his expertise in the seismology field during the event.

The series is open to students, faculty, staff and community members. Members of the community wishing to obtain continuing education credits may do so by registering for the series through the university’s Center for Educational Programs. Phone registration is necessary to receive credit and the cost is $15 per individual seminar, any three seminars for $40 or $99 for the series. There is no charge for those who do not want credit.

For more information about the seminars at UH-Clear Lake , call the Center for Educational Programs, 281-283-3530.

Higher Education - Popular physics lectures continues

Perry Calls on Texans to “Imagine the Possibilities”

Gov. Perry cites power of example, power of ideals, in shaping the Texas of Tomorrow

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

January 24, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN–In his third gubernatorial oath-of-office address, Gov. Rick Perry called on Texans to embrace the ideals of freedom, equality and selflessness. He challenged Texans to imagine the possibilities of a Texas with limitless opportunity.

"Imagine the possibilities in a Texas where every child is educated, every graduate has access to a good job and every life deemed precious. Imagine the possibilities in a Texas blind to color, class and ethnicity and where no one is invalidated because of their heritage, but valued because of their humanity. Imagine the possibilities in a Texas where every man, woman and child is able to put behind the past, to grab hold of their promise, to press on to be who they were created to be," Perry said.

Perry said that even though Texas has not had a history of complete solidarity, he called on all Texans to come together and embrace the common ideals of freedom, equality and selflessness.

"My vision for Texas is a tremendous tapestry of diversity woven together by common threads. We are of many faiths, traditions, heritages but we are all Texans. And in Texas, it is not your identity that matters most, but your ideals," Perry said. "And even when we disagree, we can engage our differences in a discussion that unifies rather than divides and that lifts up the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all people without casting a single soul aside."

The governor said that a free society has a responsibility to those in poverty, the young and the aged and to those who are sick and live with disabilities. He also said we have a responsibility to future generations to leave them a world that is safe, an environment that is healthy, an economy that is strong and a government that is honest.

"Young Texans must never be taught about rights without also learning about responsibilities," Perry said. "For more than a generation our culture has emphasized a message of self-indulgence at the expense of social obligation. We have reaped the consequences in the form of teen pregnancies, divorced and broken families, and a cycle of incarceration that joins young men with their fathers behind bars."

"The fabric of our society is not government or individual freedom; it is the family," Perry said. "And the demise of the family is the demise of any great society."

Perry addressed the divisive issue of border security and immigration by quoting the prophet Isaiah: "come now, and let us reason together." "We are both a nation of laws and immigrants; the former protect us, the latter enrich us," Perry said. "We must secure the border with manpower, not unmanned walls. We must have a guest-worker program that recognizes the economic contributions of foreign workers and the desperate conditions that bring them here. And we must oppose amnesty because those who come here illegally should not be able to receive citizenship ahead of those who migrate here legally."

Finally, Gov. Perry outlined his bipartisan agenda for a new term. "Together, we must work to make our border more secure and our neighborhoods safer. We must find solutions to the high rate of the uninsured and to the high cost of health insurance. We must commit to excellence in higher education as it prepares the workforce of the future, and we must ensure that property tax relief is not only substantial but long-lasting. We must pass budget reforms that protect the taxpayers," Perry said. "Texas is better off when Republicans and Democrats work together because our potential is too vast to be spoiled by a politics leavened with partisanship."

Speech - January 16, 2007

Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, Speaker Craddick, Chief Justice Jefferson, members of the Legislature, my fellow Texans: the oath that I have taken this morning confers upon me not only a public office, but a public trust. I accept it with humility, knowing to whom much is given much is expected in return.

Texas has given me more than I could ever give back. It was here that I discovered life and met my first love: the First Lady of Texas, Anita Perry. Had we not served one day in office we would feel eternally blessed because of the gift of two wonderful children: Griffin and Sydney.

I am also glad to be joined by two Texans that raised me in a home filled with love, and who taught me the value of respecting everyone: My parents, Ray and Amelia Perry. Mom and dad, how can I sum up more than five decades of love and sacrifice but to say thank you, and I love you.

As a state that has always proudly rolled out the welcome mat, please join me in giving a Texas-sized reception to four special guests from Mexico, Governor Gonzalez of Nuevo Leon, Governor Hernandez of Tamaulipas, Governor Herrera of Vera Cruz, and Governor Garcia of Zacatecas.

As we gather today, there is great reason for optimism in Texas. We have a record budget surplus, jobs are at an all-time high, children's test scores are improving, home and medical insurance costs are decreasing, school finance is out of the courts and school property tax rates are on the way down. On top of that, the Aggie basketball team is ranked in the top ten in the nation. Apparently, hell has frozen over.

I don't mention these successes to downplay our great challenges, but because they stand in great contrast to uncertain events across the world.

We are now in an era of great global anxiety. Two conflicts on Israel's border, and one in Iraq, threaten the stability of the entire Middle East, as well as the safety of America's bravest men and women.

Our greatest threat is no longer a Cold War enemy that advances a Godless ideology, but fanatics that kill the innocent and themselves in the name of a Higher Power. Rogue states and terror cells have made nuclear proliferation a greater threat, and leaders in Europe and Latin America have risen to power and popularity based on anti-American appeals.

We face not only a war on terror, but a war on drugs that brings violence to our border and carnage to millions of American families.

The 21st Century has begun with no shortage of human suffering. New treatments for the American victims of AIDS have seemingly insulated us from rampant suffering on two continents: Asia and Africa.

And an even more insidious disease, human hatred, has claimed many more lives, infecting tribes, ethnic groups and nations that commit genocide in places like the Sudan while much of the world stands idly by.

We cannot ignore the challenges beyond our borders any more than we can the problems we face at home, whether it is poverty in Mexico, hopelessness in Africa or homelessness in Austin.

It is this perspective that shapes my view on immigration. We are both a nation of laws and immigrants; the former protect us, the latter enrich us.

Every nation has a sovereign right to control its borders. Our porous international border is one of the greatest threats to this nation's security. Securing our border is more complex, however, than building a border-wide barrier.

Strategic fencing makes sense in densely populated areas, but a comprehensive border security solution requires additional manpower and the use of technology. We have shown Washington what works. With Operation Rio Grande, we have increased patrols, cut off common illegal crossings, and reduced crime in sheriff-patrolled areas by 60 percent during intensive surge operations.

I believe we can secure the border without compromising our economy, and we can implement a guest worker program without compromising our security.

Illegal immigration drains the resources of our schools, our hospitals and our law enforcement agencies. But I do not believe it is realistic to deport 12 million people already here illegally. We have to understand why millions of people come here, and why many more have died trying, it is for something as basic as the freedom to find a job and feed their families.

I know illegal immigration and border security are polarizing issues. To those on both sides of the issue, I simply make one request based on the words of the prophet Isaiah: "come now, and let us reason together." Let us choose to sit down together and be a part of the solution rather than a source of division.

I start from this premise: we must secure the border with manpower, not unmanned walls. We must have a guest-worker program that recognizes the economic contributions of foreign workers and the desperate conditions that bring them here. And we must oppose amnesty because those who come here illegally should not be able to receive citizenship ahead of those who migrate here legally.

My vision for Texas is a tremendous tapestry of diversity woven together by common threads. We are of many faiths, traditions, heritages, but we are all Texans. And in Texas, it is not your identity that matters most, but your ideals.

There are no black, white, Asian or Hispanic dreams. Take away what's on the outside, and you see a common thread on the inside, the human desire to live a life of meaning, purpose and fulfillment.

And even when we disagree, we can engage our differences in a discussion that unifies rather than divides, that lifts up the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all people without casting a single soul aside.

For much of the world, age-old conflicts derive from differences of tribe and tongue. It produces a cycle of violence that never seems to end. Yet, here we are, as diverse a people as any state in the union, and we share a bond that is much deeper than what could ever divide us, our common bond as Texans.

It's not that we have a history of solidarity. 140 years ago a segment of our people was enslaved and considered less than equal. But we are overcoming past prejudice for the sake of the common good.

On this stage is the descendent of a slave who was once sold as property on the steps of a Central Texas courthouse. Today, Wallace Jefferson walks up the steps of our highest civil court in Texas, not only a peer among nine equals, but as our chief justice.

I believe hatreds that are centuries old can be extinguished by one courageous generation. If hatred is something that can be taught, then so can the greatest attributes of any society: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." As the Apostle Paul wrote, "against such there is no law."

We are a nation of great ideals, the greatest of which is the belief that all men and women were born to be free. For freedom to work, we must all be committed to another important ideal, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

I don't believe in prescribing equal outcomes, but I do believe in preserving equal opportunities.

And I also believe no great society can be built, or maintained, if we cultivate in our children the vanity of self rather than the virtue of selflessness.

Young Texans must never be taught about rights without also learning about responsibilities. Only when we embrace the responsibilities of a free society can we achieve the greater social good.

As a society, we have a responsibility to those who languish in poverty, to empower them with the tools needed to live a life of self-sufficiency. We have a responsibility to the most vulnerable among us, the young and the aged, those who are sick and those who live with disabilities, and that is to protect them, nurture them and empower them to overcome all obstacles. And we have a responsibility to future generations, to leave them a world that is safe, an environment that is healthy, an economy that is strong and a government that is honest.

But we must not proclaim the responsibilities of a free society and ignore the responsibilities of free individuals.

For more than a generation our culture has emphasized a message of self-indulgence at the expense of social obligation. We have reaped the consequences in the form of teen pregnancies, divorced and broken families, and a cycle of incarceration that joins young men with their fathers behind bars.

The fabric of our society is not government or individual freedom, it is the family. And the demise of the family is the demise of any great society.

Past generations have not fought and died so that children would have the freedom to gun down other children. No, they didn't die so that parents would have the freedom to starve their babies so they could spend their last dime on the next drug-induced high. And no, they didn't die so that video games, television and the Internet could raise our children instead of two loving parents.

We must never mistake freedom for license; one is a right, the other leads to bondage.

While there are limits to what government can accomplish, there are some things it must do. When a child is born into an abusive home, government must intervene and provide safe sanctuary. When a child is sent to a school that doesn't educate them, government must demand change, not defend the status quo. And when a child goes down the wrong path because they have no one to look up to, they must not only learn about sobering consequences, but life-redeeming second chances.

There is nothing so powerful as the testimony of a changed life and a redeemed soul. Without forgiveness and compassion, there can be no redemption. And where would sinners like me be if there weren't?

There were times in my life when the only solace I could find was the quiet outdoors where I could wrestle with my thoughts and talk to God. It was then that I asked the pointed questions: what exactly am I doing with my life, and what does it all mean?

Over the last 30 years, because of the grace of God, I have learned my purpose. It is not to build a majority political party, nor to hold power for the sake of holding power, it is to build a Texas of limitless possibility. And it starts with our children.

Imagine the possibilities in a Texas where every child is educated, every graduate has access to a good job, every life deemed precious.

Imagine the possibilities in a Texas blind to color, class and ethnicity, where no one is invalidated because of their heritage, but valued because of their humanity.

Imagine the possibilities in a Texas where every man, woman and child is able to put behind the past, to grab hold of their promise, to press on to be who they were created to be.

We have our differences. But, we cannot bridge those differences as long as we live in the past. Reconciliation requires forgiveness and a forward-looking spirit.

Texas is better off when Republicans and Democrats work together. Our potential is too vast to be spoiled by a politics leavened with partisanship. There is so much we must do together.

Together, we must work to make our border more secure and our neighborhoods safer.

Together, we must find solutions to the high rate of the uninsured and to the high cost of health insurance.

Together, we must commit to excellence in higher education as it prepares the workforce of the future.

Together, we must ensure that property tax relief is not only substantial, but long-lasting.

Together, we must pass budget reforms that protect the taxpayers.

And together, we must engage in a debate and a dialogue characterized by civility and consensus.

We have come together before to solve the greatest of problems. A little more than a year ago, when hundreds of thousands of our neighbors and fellow Texans suffered through two devastating natural disasters, Texans showed the power of example and the power of our ideals. With open arms we embraced those with nothing but the shirts on their backs. We opened our homes and houses of worship, our convention centers and our modern day coliseums.

We nursed the sick, we fed the hungry, we housed the homeless. For every first responder there were many more volunteers. And the world saw in us, for that brief moment in time, what it means to reach beyond the comfort of our own existence to aid the least among us.

They saw the concern of the Good Samaritan, with neighbor helping neighbor.

What they saw, in short, was the Texas we know and aspire to every day.

If we live lives of selfless sacrifice and love, the meaning of our lives reaches beyond the grave and transcends space and time to leave an enduring mark of eternal goodness.

I wish from this grand stage our government might be so noble, so compassionate, so visionary as the highest aspirations of our people. That we might surrender to causes greater than self, that we might give voice to the voiceless, and hope to those yet born. And that we might use this great opportunity, just this one chance, to do that which endures forever.

The world is watching. Once again, let's show them what it means to live with one another, to love one another and to be Texans.

Government - Perry Calls on Texans to “Imagine the Possibilities”

Cornyn seeks greater transparency in legislative process

Introduces two amendments to Lobbying & Ethics Reform package

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

January 24, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—Building on his record as a strong advocate for open government, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Vice Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, introduced two important amendments to the lobbying and ethics reform legislation under consideration by the Senate this week. Sen. Cornyn’s amendments are aimed at providing a longer public review process before legislation is voted on and providing additional information on the financial costs of any earmarks included in appropriations bills. The Senate is expected to vote on Sen. Cornyn’s amendments in the week ahead.

“I am a strong believer that when debating the important issue of ethics in government, sunlight is perhaps the best disinfectant of all,” Sen. Cornyn said today. “Our founders understood a free society could not exist without informed citizens and an open, accessible government. The more information that we can put in the hands of the American people about what Congress does on a daily basis, the stronger our democracy will be.”

Noting that an “astonishing” 64 bills were considered by the Senate on just the final day of the 109th Congress, Sen. Cornyn said, “Although a number of these bills are often non-controversial, others can include costs of millions of taxpayer dollars. At a minimum, Senators and the American public should have the time to do their due diligence and carefully scrutinize a bill before it is considered. That is both common-sense and good government. I am hopeful that my colleagues will include these two amendments in this larger reform bill in the days ahead.”

Summary of Cornyn Transparency Amendments to “S. 1 – Legislative Transparency Act of 2007”

1. Transparency and Notice Before Proceeding Amendment - This amendment requires that there be notice and review by Senators and the general public before the Senate proceed to a legislative matter or a measure. Specifically, it requires that a Senator give three days notice of intent to proceed and three days advance review of the legislative language in the Congressional Record prior to the Senate proceeding. It further requires that legislation be publicly available in a searchable format for at least two days before proceeding to the measure. Finally, it also addresses the situation of substitute amendments by requiring that they also be made available in advance.

2. Earmark Transparency and Baseline Amendment - This amendment requires greater specificity with respect to the actual cost of earmarks and creates a baseline for future analysis, review and rule-making. Specifically, it requires that in addition to the underlying bill/substitute’s language requiring a list of earmarks and the Senators requesting them, that there be included the following:

• A list of each earmark, limited tax benefit or tariff benefit in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers along with:

i. its specific budget, contract or other spending authority or revenue impact;

ii. an identification of the Member of Members who proposed it;

iii. an explanation of the essential governmental purpose for it, including how it advances the ‘general Welfare’ of the United States of America;

• The total number of earmarks, limited tax benefits or tariff benefits in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers; and a calculation of the total budget, contract or other spending authority or revenue impact of all the congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits or tariff benefits in the bill, joint resolution, report, conference report, or statement of managers.

Government - Cornyn seeks greater transparency in legislative process

Safe buying: Medical products and treatments

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

January 24, 2007

Points to remember:

Always have a current prescription from a licensed eye care professional when buying contact lenses.

Purchase contact lenses from a trusted, reliable source. Be wary of flea market sales of contact lenses.

Contact lens sales are regulated by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov and the Federal Trade Commission www. ftc.gov .

To file a complaint about the unauthorized or unlicensed sale of medical products or treatments, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services online at www.dshs.state.tx.us or by phone at (800) 942-5540.

You may also file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s office online at www.oag.state.tx.us or by phone at (800) 252-8011.

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN—In November, my Consumer Protection Division has halted three separate outfits that put consumers at risk for serious eye injury by selling contact lenses without physician approval. Dispensing any contact lenses, even noncorrective lenses or lenses which are intended solely to change the appearance of the eye, still requires a permit and a prescription from a physician or optometrist.

Two of the businesses were operating from local flea markets, where dispensing contact lenses is never permitted. The businesses rarely obtained a prescription from the consumers, but sold them the contact lenses anyway.

Selling and dispensing contact lenses violate key protective elements of the Contact Lens Prescription Act as well as the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Before you buy contact lenses from someone other than your eye care professional, take simple precautions to ensure your purchase is safe and effective.

Have a current, valid prescription when you order contact lenses. To keep your eyesight healthy, you should not order lenses with a prescription that has expired or stock up on lenses right before the prescription is about to expire. Have your eyes re-checked by a licensed eye care professional.

Order contact lenses from a trusted supplier. Request the manufacturer’s written instructions for use of your new lenses as well as other risk and benefit information.

Check back with your eye care professional after receiving the lenses to be sure they are the correct prescription. Do not accept substitutions unless approved by your eye care professional. Slight changes in weight, diameter and other measurements can affect your eyesight.

The health and safety of Texas consumers is a high priority for my administration. Three years ago, we effectively halted the unlawful selling and clinical use of prescription “colon ic hydrotherapy” devices in several Texas cities. The treatments consisted of using prescription nozzles and systems to thoroughly cleanse the colon, which requires physician oversight under federal and state law. In addition, the purchase, possession and use of the devices must be done with the approval of a physician. Colonic irrigation without physician oversight poses potential dangers to patients.

Our office was also successful in shutting down four ultrasound imaging companies that were operating ultrasound equipment without physician oversight. The companies offered fetal sonograms to pregnant women as “ keepsake” photos and videos. The operators did not inform the women that prescriptions are required before such devices may be used. A physician often approves sonograms only for medical and diagnostic purposes, not for memento purposes.

My office takes action against such unlawful practices upon referral of the cases from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Consumers may file complaints about unlawful medical practices.

To file a complaint about the unauthorized or unlicensed sale of medical products or treatments, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services online at www.dshs.state.tx.us or by phone at (800) 942-5540. You may also file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s office online at www.oag.state.tx.us or by phone at (800) 252-8011.

Government - Safe buying: Medical products and treatments

Chocolate "offenders" teach science a sweet lesson

Study helps explain heart benefits from daily - but small - dose
of chocolate

From the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and
Bloomberg School of Public Health

January 24, 2007

COLLEGE PARK, Md., (AScribe Newswire)— Some "chocoholics"
who just couldn't give up their favorite treat to comply
with a study to test blood stickiness have inadvertently
done their fellow chocolate lovers - and science - a big
favor.

Their "offense," say researchers at Johns Hopkins led to
what is believed to be the first biochemical analysis to
explain why just a few squares of chocolate a day can almost
halve the risk of heart attack death in some men and women
by decreasing the tendency of platelets to clot in narrow
blood vessels.

"What these chocolate 'offenders' taught us is that the
chemical in cocoa beans has a biochemical effect similar to
aspirin in reducing platelet clumping, which can be fatal if
a clot forms and blocks a blood vessel, causing a heart
attack," says Diane Becker, M.P.H., Sc.D., a professor at
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and
Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Becker cautions that her work is not intended as a
prescription to gobble up large amounts of chocolate candy,
which often contains diet-busting amounts of sugar, butter
and cream. But as little as 2 tablespoons a day of dark
chocolate - the purest form of the candy, made from the
dried extract of roasted cocoa beans - may be just what the
doctor ordered.

Researchers have known for nearly two decades that dark
chocolate, rich in chemicals called flavonoids, lowers blood
pressure and has other beneficial effects on blood flow.
The latest Hopkins findings, to be presented Nov. 14 at the
American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions in
Chicago, identified the effect of normal, everyday doses of
chocolate found in ordinary foods, unlike previous studies
that found decreased platelet activity only at impractically
high doses of flavonoids equivalent to eating several pounds
of chocolate a day.

"Eating a little bit of chocolate or having a drink of
hot cocoa as part of a regular diet is probably good for
personal health, so long as people don't eat too much of it,
and too much of the kind with lots of butter and sugar,"
says Becker.

In the study, 139 people Becker - whom Becker somewhat
tongue in cheek calls "chocolate offenders" - were
disqualified from a much larger study looking at the effects
of aspirin on blood platelets. The Genetic Study of Aspirin
Responsiveness (GeneSTAR) was conducted at Hopkins from June
2004 to November 2005 and enrolled more than 500 men and 700
women participants nationwide.

Shortly before aspirin dosing began for the subjects,
they were told to stay on a strict regimen of exercise and
to refrain from smoking or using foods and drinks known to
affect platelet activity. These included caffeinated
drinks, wine, grapefruit juice - and chocolate.

The non-compliers - who admitted to eating chocolate -
were a diverse group who got their flavonoid "fix" from a
variety of sources, including chocolate bars, cups of hot
cocoa, grapes, black or green tea, and strawberries. And
while they were excluded from the aspirin study, Becker and
her team scoured their blood results for chocolate's effect
on blood platelets, which the body recycles on a daily
basis.

When platelet samples from both groups were run through a
mechanical blood vessel system designed to time how long it
takes for the platelets to clump together in a hair-thin
plastic tube, the chocolate lovers were found to be less
reactive, on average taking 130 seconds to occlude the
system. Platelets from those who stayed away from chocolate
as instructed clotted faster, at 123 seconds.

In another key test of urine for waste products of
platelet activity, primarily urinary thromboxane
(11-dehydro-thromboxane B2), scientists found that chocolate
eaters showed less activity and waste products on average,
at 177 nanograms per millimol of creatinine, versus an
average of 287 nanograms per millimol of creatinine in the
group that abstained.

Participants ranged in age from 21 to 80; 31 percent were
black and the rest were white. In total, more than 200
different tests of platelet reactivity were performed and
analyzed in the study. Because whole blood contains other
cells that affect platelet aggregation, testing was repeated
using a purified version of test samples made up of strictly
platelet-rich plasma.

None of the "offenders" had previous histories of heart
problems, such as a heart attack, but all were considered to
be at slightly increased risk of heart disease because of
family history. Fifty percent of women participants were
postmenopausal.

"These results really bring home the point that a modest
dietary practice can have a huge impact on blood and
potentially on the health of people at a mildly elevated
risk of heart disease," says study co-author Nauder Faraday,
M.D., an associate professor at Hopkins. "But we have to
careful to emphasize that one single healthy dietary
practice cannot be taken alone, but must be balanced with
exercise and other healthy lifestyle practices that impact
the heart."

Besides Becker and Faraday, other investigators in this
research were Lisa Yanek, M.P.H.; Taryn Moy, M.S.; and Lewis
Becker, M.D.

Health - Chocolate "offenders" teach science a sweet lesson


Older News: January 19, 2007


Heritage Quest Database at Helen Hall Library

January 19, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Helen Hall Library in League City will host three workshops in how to use the Heritage Quest Database. Heritage Quest is an on-line database available to Texas library users. It contains over 20,000 family and local history books, Revolutionary War Records, census information and periodical article citations, dating back to 1800.

Registration is required. Call 281-554-1101 to register.

The Heritage Quest workshops will be presented on the following Wednesdays in the Helen Hall Library Board Room: Wed., Jan. 17 at 10:30 a.m., Wed., Feb. 14 at 10:30 a.m. and Wed., Mar. 21 at 10:30 a.m.

Visit us online at www.leaguecitylibrary.org.

League City News
- Heritage Quest Database at Helen Hall Library

City and school district work together to improve traffic safety

January 19, 2007

LEAGUE CITY—Mayor Jerry Shults and Dr. Sandra Mossman, Superintendent of CCISD, met to discuss the visibility impedance issues that have been raised regarding the current landscaping of the esplanades stretching along FM 2094 just east of Davis Road to Coryell Street.

A decision was made to resolve the safety issue by removing the current landscaping from the medians. The landscaping was excavated and then transplanted to League City park land, and the medians were converted to grass-only landscaping.

Mayor Shults said, “Working together, Dr. Mossman and I have been able to effectively resolve a safety issue that affects the greater League City community.”

League City News
- City and school district work together to improve traffic safety

Clear Springs High School parents invited to meet principal

From the Clear Creek Independent School District

January 19, 2007

LEAGUE CITY –Clear Creek ISD invites parents and students of the new Clear Springs High School to Meet the Principal, at 6 p.m., Jan. 23, at Creekside Intermediate School. Creekside Intermediate is located at 4320 W. Main St. in League City.

Parents may e-mail questions about the new school and principal no later than Jan. 18 to sthomas2@ccisd.net. Indicate “Meet the Principal” in the subject line. The question will be added to the list of questions and answers distributed at the meeting. For more information, call (281) 284-1300.

CCISD - Clear Springs High School parents invited to meet principal

School District high schools announce senior musical schedules

From Clear Creek Independent School District

January 19, 2007

LEAGUE CITY –Seniors in Clear Creek ISD have had a song in their heart since rehearsals began for the schools’ annual senior musicals. Each high school is presenting their rendition of a musical theater classic.

Performances are in the school’s auditorium and tickets cost $10. Clear Creek ISD community members who are 65-years-old and older may apply at the Educational Supportal Center for a Gold Card, which provides free admission to district events. The Educational Support Center is located in League City.

Following are the senior musical schedules and contact information:

Clear Brook High School

The Wizard of Oz

Feb. 1, 2, 8, 9, 10; 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11; 2:30 p.m.

Clear Brook High School Senior Class Secretary, (281) 284-2137.

Clear Creek High School

Brigadoon

Jan. 24 – 27; 7 p.m.

Jan. 28; 2 p.m.

Clear Creek High School Student Activities Office, (281) 284-1738.

Clear Lake High School

The Pajama Game

Jan. 25 – 27; 7 p.m.

Jan. 28; 2:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 – 3; 7 p.m.

CCISD - School District high schools announce senior musical schedules

Sessions provide all levels of tutoring

January 19, 2007

HOUSTON — Elementary through high school students struggling with reading, writing, spelling or study skills can strengthen these areas with University of Houston-Clear Lake’s one-on-one tutoring sessions offered through the university’s Center for Educational Programs. Sessions begin Jan. 31 and run through April 4.

Program tutors comprise graduate students who are supervised by School of Education faculty. Each student participant will be administered diagnostic tests by their tutor to determine the areas in which they require assistance. Parents and tutors will meet regularly to discuss student progress and summary reports will be given during the final conference.

Tuition fees are $300 per child, with a $200 deposit due at registration. This session’s registration deadline is Jan. 21.

For more information or to register, contact the Center for Educational Programs, 281-283-3529.

Higher Education - Sessions provide all levels of tutoring

Perry designates property tax relief for senior citizens and tax rebates as emergency items for Legislature

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

January 19, 2007

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN– Gov. Rick Perry today declared legislation authorizing property tax relief for senior citizens and legislation authorizing state tax rebates as emergency items for the 2007 legislative session. The emergency designation will allow lawmakers to begin considering these issues in the initial 30 days of the legislative session.

“I want to see a constitutional amendment on the May ballot so that seniors get the maximum amount of tax relief on this year’s tax bill the same as other homeowners,” Perry said. “Just because senior citizens have their tax rates frozen doesn’t mean they should be left out in the cold when it comes to additional rate relief.”

“To keep government fiscally responsible, state leaders need the authority to rebate surplus funds directly to taxpayers,” Perry said.

The text of the Governor’s message to the House and Senate follows:

I, RICK PERRY, Governor of the State of Texas, pursuant to Article III, Section 5, of the Texas Constitution and by this special message, do hereby submit the following emergency matters for immediate consideration to the Senate and House of Representatives of the 80th Legislature, now convened:

Legislation authorizing the reduction of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for public school purposes on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect any reduction in the rate of those taxes.

Legislation providing that state appropriations made for the purpose of directly reducing local property taxes and state appropriations made for the purpose of returning state funds to the public do not count against the constitutional state spending limit and authorizing the legislature to provide for the grant of public money for the purpose of returning state funds to the public.

Government - Perry designates property tax relief for senior citizens and tax rebates as emergency items for Legislature

Sen. Cornyn co-sponsors two key medical liability reform bills based on Texas model

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

January 19, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture
WASHINGTON—Building on his record as a strong advocate for medical liability reform, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, co-sponsored two important bills aimed at providing patients with greater access to health care by enacting key civil justice reforms. Both pieces of legislation are based on the successful Texas model of placing caps on lawsuits involving non-economic damages.

“These important bills will increase health care access and decrease costs by limiting the effects of runaway frivolous lawsuits that are driving doctors out of practice,” Sen. Cornyn said. “In 2003, Texas put a model in place for the nation that has proven successful. Congress should act now to provide a national solution so that all Americans can benefit from medical liability reform.”

The Medical Care Access Protection Act, S. 243, was introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). It is a broad reform bill that places reasonable caps on non-economic damages. Under this bill, a patient can recover up to $250,000 from a health care provider and up to two health care institutions each for a total of $750,000.

The Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care Act, S. 244, was introduced by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). This bill aims to ensure women have access to physicians who provide obstetric and gynecological services. Many of these doctors are driven out of practice by the high cost of medical liability insurance, which continues to increase because of frivolous lawsuits. The legislation will guarantee full compensation for medical costs, lost wages and other tangible costs.

“ The current system greatly decreases hope for accessible and affordable health care in America ,” Sen. Cornyn said. “The time for that to change is now, so I hope we’ll see bipartisan support for these key bills.”

Sen. Cornyn is a member of the following Senate Committees: Armed Services; Judiciary; Budget; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Joint Economic. He is also the chairman of the subcommittees on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

Government - Sen. Cornyn co-sponsors two key medical liability reform bills based on Texas model

Attorney General Abbott takes oath of office and commences second term

Abbott thanks employees, pledges to continue protecting children and families

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

January 19, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today formally began his second term as the state’s chief law enforcement official when Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson administered the oath of office at a ceremony performed at the Office of the Attorney General in the presence of agency employees. After swearing to defend the laws and constitution of the State of Texas, Attorney General Abbott renewed his commitment to tough law enforcement and thanked agency employees for their service to Texas citizens.

“Texans are blessed to have hard-working men and women who have committed their lives to serving the Office of the Attorney General and the State of Texas,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Whether arresting child sex predators, collecting child support, cracking down on senior abuse, or preserving taxpayer dollars, our dedicated employees make a difference in the lives of their fellow Texans in countless ways. It is truly an honor to work side-by-side with these public servants as we strive toward a safer, more just Texas.”

Accomplishments during Abbott’s first term as Attorney General include:

• $7 billion collected in child support
• $300 million awarded to or on behalf of crime victims
• $175 million recovered in Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse
• 500 child predators arrested

Attorney General Abbott added: “The entire agency can be proud of our accomplishments, but our successes are not measured by numbers, arrests or money recovered. Rather, the greatest measure of our success is the Texans whose lives are improved by our service to the state.”

Prior to his election as Texas’ 50th Attorney General on November 5, 2002, Greg Abbott served as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court and as a State District Judge in Harris County. A native Texan, Attorney General Abbott was born in Wichita Falls and raised in Duncanville. After graduating from the University of Texas with a B.B.A. in Finance, he received his law degree from Vanderbilt University. Shortly after graduating from law school, he was partially paralyzed by a falling tree while jogging. He and his wife, Cecilia, a former school teacher and principal, have been married for 25 years. They live in Austin with their nine-year-old daughter, Audrey.

For more information, visit the Attorney General's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us or call (800) 252-8011.

Government - Attorney General Abbott takes oath of office and commences second term

Gardening - Gardeners' checklist for January includes several educational programs

Religion - The measure of treasure


Older News: January 12, 2007


Walking for a cure

Clear Creek ISD high schools give back

From Clear Creek Independent School District

January 12, 2007

LEAGUE CITY –Area high schools participated in the American Diabetes Association Walk this past semester. Each physical education and health education class walked to raise money for this worthy organization.

Clear Brook High School, Clear Creek High School and Clear Lake High School raised more than $7400.00 for the American Diabetes Association.

District officials thank the students and teachers for helping raise money to find a cure. For more information about this or any of the other physical education programs offered by Clear Creek ISD, please contact:

Debbie Fuchs
CCISD Coordinator, Health/PE
281-284-0087
fax: 281-284-9907

CCISD - Walking for a cure

Leadership skills examined in film

January 12, 2007

HOUSTON — Learn more about local aerospace history as University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Student Leadership Institute partners with the Film and History Club to present “Reach for the Stars: The Christa McAuliffe Story” Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007, 5: 30 p.m. in the university’s Bayou Theater, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston . Following the screening, the film’s producers Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges will speak.

Other sponsors of the program including the American Astronautical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Admission is $5.

For more information about the event, call Coordinator of Student Life Jennifer Clark, 281-283-2611.

Higher Education - Leadership skills examined in film

Settlement with YP Corporation results in refunds to businesses

Settlement on "live" activation checks to result in fee refunds for affected businesses

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

January 12, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture Some Texas business owners may be eligible for a refund of fees they unwittingly paid to an Arizona company for commercial advertising in its online "yellow pages" directory.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:
"Live" activation checks

The Texas Attorney General has entered a multistate agreement with YP
Corporation to halt the company's use of "live" activation checks to
obligate customers to purchase commercial advertising in YP.eCom's online
yellow pages directory.

Texas businesses that may be eligible for refunds from YP Corporation
under the multi-state settlement can contact the Texas Attorney
General's Office online at www.oag.state.tx.us or by calling the Consumer
Protection Hotline at (800) 621-0508.

Requests for information must be made by March 15, 2007.

YP Corp. and its affiliates, including YP.eCom, YP.Net and Telco Billing, have agreed to settle allegations by the Texas Attorney General's Office and 33 other states that the companies engaged in deceptive business practices by using "live" activation checks to obligate businesses and organizations to purchase an enhanced listing on YP.eCom's online yellow page directory. Under the terms of the agreement, YP Corp. will inform current customers of their right to cancel their agreement with YP.eCom and of their potential eligibility for a refund.

The investigation by the states revealed that YP Corp. sent businesses and other entities "live" activation checks -- unsolicited -- in the mail. The activation checks were made payable to the business or organization for a small amount, usually around $3.25. The back of the check included a fine print paragraph above the endorsement line that noted that by depositing the check, the recipient agreed to purchase advertising from YP.eCom for its online yellow pages directory. Activating the check also triggered YP Corp., through its billing company, Telco Billing, to begin collecting monthly fees that were tacked onto telephone bills or automatically withdrawn from the bank accounts into which the recipients deposited the checks.

The states contended that YP Corp.'s fine print disclosure on the back of the check was not sufficiently conspicuous to give a business manager enough information to make a decision about whether to advertise. Many businesses that filed complaints with the Texas Attorney General thought the checks were actually refunds from the local yellow pages company in connection with their advertising accounts.

Many organizations were also unaware that endorsing and depositing the checks amounted to entering into contracts with YP Corp. for up to $177 for an annual listing in the online directory, whether or not business managers authorized this arrangement.

The Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division has determined that over 60,000 Texas business customers deposited the checks. Customers who did not intend to purchase Internet advertising services from YP Corp. and who were signed up without authorization are potentially eligible for restitution under the multistate settlement.

Any Texas business or organization that deposited an activation check from YP.eCom since January 1, 2003, was billed for an online yellow page listing, and did not intend to enter into such a contract should contact the Texas Attorney General's Office no later than March 15, 2007 to request a refund.

Existing YP.eCom customers who believe they entered an advertising contract by depositing an activation check mailed by YP Corp. will be contacted directly by the company within the next few weeks with instructions on how to cancel their relationship with YP Corp. and request a refund.

Government - Settlement with YP Corporation results in refunds to businesses


Older News: January 5, 2007


Attorney General Abbott enforces Texas environmental protection laws

Investigation concludes that Houston chemical plants failed to prevent harmful air emissions

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

January 5, 2007

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott picture AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today took legal action against four Houston-area chemical plants for violating Texas environmental laws. The case is the first in Texas arising out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) initiative to cut air pollution at chemical plants across the nation.

According to documents filed in Travis County district court Dec. 20, operations personnel at Lyondell Chemical Co., Equistar Chemicals, Millennium Petrochemicals Inc., and Millennium Petrochemicals GP repeatedly failed to prevent the release of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. The Office of the Attorney General decided to seek civil penalties after its settlement negotiations with the four companies and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reached an impasse earlier this year.

“Texas will vigorously enforce environmental laws that protect the health and safety of its citizens,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Industrial growth must be balanced with environmental stewardship in order to ensure a bright future for our state. We are committed to working with industry leaders to protect the quality of our air, water, and natural resources for future generations.”

The Attorney General's investigation revealed that the four facilities, located in La Porte, Channelview and Chocolate Bayou, released unauthorized harmful emissions, such as volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, into the atmosphere over a long period of time. The suit alleges the companies either ignored the long-term release of such pollutants or did very little to remedy these chronic problems over time. For example, investigators found that Millennium may have allowed its pressurized rail cars to vent uncontrolled chemical emissions directly into the atmosphere.

The companies’ self-reporting indicates that Equistar and Millennium failed to implement required detection and repair programs to address leaks at valves, connectors, pumps and other components. According to the companies’ reports, thousands of components were ignored for many years. In some cases, entire plant units were never monitored.

Under the EPA initiative, affected states and industry leaders attempt to improve air quality and meet environmental standards by settling long-standing disputes with alleged polluters. For years, the Houston area has been designated an ozone non-attainment zone. Polluters in these areas are required to implement widespread controls and technological innovations to sharply curb emissions that lead to ozone formation in the air, commonly known as “smog.”

The Lyondell, Equistar and Millennium companies manufacture basic chemicals and derivatives such as ethylene, propylene, titanium oxide, styrene, polyethylene, propylene oxide and acetyls.

Government - Attorney General Abbott enforces Texas environmental protection laws

Biotechnology to be covered at presentation

January 5, 2007

HOUSTON — University of Houston-Clear Lake Assistant Professor of Biology and Program Chair for the Master of Science in Biotechnology Larry Rohde addresses biotechnology during the Clear Lake Association of Senior Programs’ “Visions in Our Midst” Speaker Series on Jan. 11.

Rohde will detail how biotechnology affects everything from drugs and vaccines to producing disease-resistant crops and innovative ways of dealing with hazardous materials.

“Visions in Our Midst” lectures are held in the university’s Garden Room, located in the Bayou Building . Reservations are not required and parking is free in Lot R. All programs in the series run 5:30-7 p.m. Admission is free, open to the public and will continue through May.

For more information and to make reservations, call UH-Clear Lake ’s Office of University Advancement, 281-283-2021 or visit http://www.uhcl.edu/clasp.

Higher Education - Biotechnology to be covered at presentation

School District provides support for students in need

Almost 20% of children in CCISD live below below the poverty level

From Clear Creek Independent School District

January 5, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – A school field trip to the Houston zoo on a winter day could have been cold and miserable for 40 children had it not been for the compassion and foresight of the teachers at McWhirter Elementary School. These caring teachers, knowing the economic hardships their students endure, had a watchful eye on their little children as they arrived at school that day. Clipboards in hand, they made notes of which children needed warmer shirts, coats and shoes.

“We were able to walk to a closet where we stock everything from school supplies, shoes and clothing and we were able to give 40 coats to wrap our super students in before they went to the zoo,” said Dr. Lori Broughton, principal of McWhirter Elementary School. Every day, compassionate teachers, like the ones at McWhirter, are giving of their resources and time to ensure that the children they teach are safe, warm and loved.

Providing a quality education for today’s student can be challenging. In this new world, textbooks, teachers, classrooms – these are just the basics. Many students in the Clear Creek Independent School District come to school with greater needs that include hot meals, academic resources, clothing and social services.

Economically Disadvantaged – The Numbers

Since its consolidation in 1948, the student population of Clear Creek ISD has undergone many changes. In six decades, the Clear Creek community has evolved from a small, mostly rural area, to a booming metropolis with diverse industry and populations. Meeting the needs of a growing and diversifying school population is an ever-changing process for Clear Creek ISD.

The district now cares for more than 35,500 students from many different backgrounds with more than 60 different languages spoken in the homes of Clear Creek ISD students. One of the district’s fastest growing student sub population is economically disadvantaged.

Our community is quickly changing. In the year 2000, Clear Creek ISD had 2,786 economically disadvantaged students. By 2006, this number increased to 6,526 students. Currently, the economically disadvantaged sub-population makes up almost 20 percent of the district’s total population. This 134 percent increase in six years is representative of the changing demographics of the Clear Creek community and these numbers continue to increase.

Clear Creek ISD is not alone in its mission to care for the many needs of its students. This is a growing issue throughout the state. The average Texas household income is $42,139. However, 24.9 percent of Texas children live below poverty level despite the fact that 56.2 percent of Texas households have both parents in the workforce, according to U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Academic Programs and Services

Students who qualify for the national school lunch program receive the classification of economically disadvantaged. However, providing for the needs of these students involves so much more than supplying a hot meal twice a day. These children may have both parents working multiple jobs to support their family, and in more extreme cases, residing in non-profit shelters. Students whose families are experiencing economic hardships often need additional resources to ensure their academic success.

“The district provides approximately 100 different programs to meet the unique needs of our at-risk students,” said Andria Schur, Clear Creek ISD at-risk coordinator. While the state does not consider being economically disadvantaged to be an indicator for being at-risk, the majority of students who are at-risk are suffering financial hardships. “We do everything we can to help students on their educational path. We are dedicated to meeting the academic, financial and emotional needs of our students.”

The district takes a proactive stance in reaching out to its students. Beginning with pre-kindergarten classes and continuing through graduation from the unique academic offerings such as Project ExCEL, students in Clear Creek ISD have access to numerous resources to help ensure their academic success.

“It is important to provide for these students who are in need,” said Holly Hughes, Clear Creek ISD assistant superintendent of elementary education. “As educators, our goal is to ensure that all our students are successful, both academically and socially. Everyday our teachers give of their time and their hearts to ensure the well being of their students.”

At the elementary level, there are many campus-based programs available to help students who may be struggling with their academics due to difficulties at home. Afternoon tutorial programs, the PALs (Peer Assisted Leadership) program that provides mentoring from area high school students, and campus based Student Success Teams all contribute to the academic and emotional wellbeing of the student. The district’s goal is to provide a strong academic and social foundation for the student prior to the student entering the rigorous world of secondary education.

Providing for the needs of secondary students presents different challenges. In addition to their academic responsibilities, many secondary students must also work to help support their families, or in some situations to support themselves. For these students, a flexible schedule is necessary to keep the students focused on their education. Several of the district’s education programs, such as Genesys Works, provide the opportunity for students to earn class credits while studying a career path in a high-tech, high-paying field and earn a paycheck.

Finding different ways to ensure secondary students are on a path toward graduation has been a priority for Clear Creek ISD. The district is committed to creating an academic environment for its students based on solid relationships and rigorous and relevant course work. To meet the changing needs of the secondary student, the district developed Smaller Learning Communities, the Clear View Education Center and, most recently, Project ExCEL.

Project ExCEL is an non-traditional campus designed for high-achieving students and students who may be first generation college goers. Currently, students attend a half-day at their home campus and the second half of the day at the college campus.

“In Project ExCEL, the students are attending college in a nurturing and supportive environment,” said Alex Torrez, Clear Creek ISD assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Funding for Services

Clear Creek ISD receives federal funding, called Title I funding, to provide for the needs of economically disadvantaged students. The Title I program began in 1965 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and ensures that all children have the opportunity excel academically.

In 2006, Clear Creek ISD received $906,985 in Title I monies to fund special programs, additional instructors and academic resources for its students. The district currently has four campuses, League City, McWhirter, Stewart and Whitcomb Elementary Schools that qualify as Title I schools.

Developing Awareness

Identifying students in need can be a challenge. Some parents are not aware that their child qualifies for the free and reduced meal program; others may think their financial situation is short term and for that reason, they do not qualify. Because of these reasons, it is important to provide teachers and staff with the appropriate training to identify changes in a student’s demeanor, productivity and resources from home.

“It can be a challenge to identify the students who are in need, as it is not always immediately apparent which students are economically disadvantaged,” Schur said. “Our teachers are very close to their students and they are usually the first to pick up on the changes with our students and make referrals to the campus counselor.”

The campus counselor is responsible for assessing the needs of the student, and if necessary, referring the student to Katina Henderson, a social worker employed by the Harris County Community Youth Service. The district works with Henderson to provide community-based counseling and intervention. Both the campus counselor and the social worker find ways to provide school supplies, clothes and connections to health and housing services for students and their families.

“School is the one major system that touches the lives of all children,” Henderson said. “Our program is set up to provide the least threatening place to identify and help youth with problems that affect their attendance, classroom behavior, academic achievement and home life.”

Henderson said she has many stories of how the district has stepped in to assist families. Most recently, a teacher referred a seven-year-old student because his family was having financial problems. Henderson personally met with the student’s mother to discuss the family’s situation. During the meeting, the mother revealed that she was a single parent with a disability and the student’s grandparents lived with the family.

Henderson referred the family and provided transportation to the Texas Rehabilitation Commission where a medial evaluation and job training was provided. She also helped the family enroll in local English as a second language classes and apply for health insurance for the student and his 13-year-old brother. The mother received a job for the disabled and the grandparents received leads about employment. Henderson continues to maintain contact and assist the students and their family as needed.

Partnering with the Community

As a district, Clear Creek ISD has developed partnerships with organizations like Communities in Schools, a non-profit organization that works as a liaison between the school and community resources. Partnerships help the district find compassionate mentors, back-to-school resources such as supplies, clothes, health services for vaccinations and so much more.

For more information about Clear Creek ISD and the programs for economically disadvantaged students, or to discover ways to contribute, call the Clear Creek ISD Office of Public Information at (281) 284-0020, or visit the district website at www.CCISD.net.

CCISD - School District provides support for students in need

Pastor Ponders - Advent season, tips for the New Year and 2006 Christmas pictures

Click on the article link for a larger view of the picture.

League City News - Angel in Window Picture

Night shot of Christmas yard decor.
Photo By Marilyn Clark,
League City Area News Online

Preparing for the New Year

By Pastor William Jenkins

December 21, 2006

Dr. Richard Hoffman of New York says that our modern day civilization’s three major killers are “calendars, clocks, and telephones.” He calls this the “tyranny of an accelerated life.” Since it is so difficult to avoid “the tyranny of an accelerated life”, what are we to do? Here are three quick suggestions:

1. Travel light.

That is, decide what is really important to you and give your energies to those things. We can’t do everything, so we have to decide what really matters and weed out the rest. The hardest trade-offs are not between something bad and something good but between something good and something better.

2. Take one step at a time.

Do one thing at a time. Live one day at a time. Some of the old elementary readers had a story about a clock that stopped ticking. It figured out that it would have to tick more than 31 million times in one year. Overwhelmed by the thought, the clock just “up and quit” until someone reminded the clock that it wouldn’t have to tick them all at once…just one tick at a time. Jesus spoke about this in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Just take it one day at a time, one thing at a time, one step at a time.”

3. Relax our souls in God.

Jesus’ Parable of The Sower speaks to this. The idea is to sow the seed the best you can and trust God with the harvest. Don’t worry about things you have no control over. God is in control. Do what you can and leave the rest to Him.

In the New Year don’t become victimized by the tyranny of an “accelerated life.”

Religion - Preparing for the New Year

League City News - Nativity 3D Picture

Night shot of Christmas yard decor.
Photo By Marilyn Clark,
League City Area News Online

Christmas in a real world

By Pastor William Jenkins

December 14, 2006

I have observed that whenever there is a live Nativity scene you need to be prepared for the unexpected and the unpredictable. When these things happen, think how like the first Christmas their portrayal is. The first Christmas had sheep and singing, music and mayhem, romance and realism, like the perfect live Nativity.

The first Christmas also contained the unexpected and the unpredictable, not at all unlike that live Nativity where the goat refuses to budge, a cow butts its handlers, a donkey drags the bale of hay to which it is tied, or someone trips over the extension cord and plunges the whole scene into darkness. Christmas came in the midst of life. It happened while everything else was happening.

The sun had set on a hard world that first Christmas Eve. The heel of the Roman boot was on the throat of Israel. Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem to be taxed because his coffers were empty and Caesar Augustus wanted to build new buildings in Rome.

The story of Christmas belongs in our kind of world with its taxes, struggles, frustrations, sorrows…and its glories. Christmas arrived in a real world with a real message of joy and hope. Today the buildings that Caesar built from the Christmas taxation are in ruins, but

“The cozy stable close at hand
With shaking timbers and shifting sand
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the great square stones of Rome.
In the place where Christ was homeless
The world has found a home.”

Merry Christmas and a happy new you!

Religion - Christmas in a real world

League City News - Jesus is Born Picture

Night Shot of Christmas yard decor.
Photo By Marilyn Clark,
League City Area News Online

God’s Kin

By Pastor William Jenkins

December 7, 2006

There is a wonderful story about a woman in Birmingham, Alabama, who on a cold winter morning saw a little boy standing on a grating outside a bakery. It was snowing and sleeting and the little boy was barefoot and had no coat. He was trying to warm himself with the air coming from the bakery grating.

When the woman saw him, her heart went out to him. She couldn’t stand seeing that little boy shivering in the cold. She bought him a nice warm coat and some shoes and socks. He thanked her and turned to walk away, but then he turned back and asked her a surprising question. “Lady, are you God’s wife?” She was embarrassed by the question and didn’t quite know how to answer. She replied thoughtfully, “No, I’m not God’s wife, but I am one of His children.” The little boy grinned and said, “I knew it! I knew it! I just knew you were some kin to Him!”

Religion - God's Kin

League City News - Nativity with Angels Picture

Night shot of Christmas yard decor.
Photo By Marilyn Clark,
League City Area News Online

The music of Christmas

By Pastor William Jenkins

November 30, 2006

One of the distinctive features of Christmas is its music. Some of the most beautiful and joyful music ever written is sung at Christmas time. Christmas was birthed in heavenly music.

On the night Jesus was born, after the angel announced the good tidings of great joy, a heavenly host sang a joyful tune over the fields of Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to men!”

Is it no wonder that Isaac Watts could write the words and Handle could compose the music for “Joy to the World!”? Christmas music is the most inspired of all music.

In this world we need Christmas to give us a course adjustment; to remind us of the way the world is supposed to work. Christmas is about faith and hope and joy and love and things that refresh our souls. Christmas music lifts the downhearted, lightens the spirit of the depressed, and expresses our deepest desires of hope and joy. Christmas music helps us regain our “true north” bearing.

Jeremiah lamented over young men who had lost their reason to sing. (Lamentations 5:14) Christmas can be therapeutic for those who have lost your reason to sing. If the pressures of life have squeezed the music out of you listen to the music of Christmas.

Allow the gentle sway of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” to massage your tensions, the exciting rhythm of “Joy to the World” to invigorate your hope, the grand orchestration of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” to inspire your soul. It is not possible to have Christmas without its music.

Religion - The music of Christmas

League City News - Christmas Tree Picture

The Children's Christmas Tree.
Photo By Marilyn Clark,
League City Area News Online

The Christmas dash

By Pastor William Jenkins

November 24, 2006

Okay, the Thanksgiving leftovers are safely stored in the freezer and your indigestion is beginning to subside. What now? Well, it’s time for the Christmas dash!

The Friday after Thanksgiving is like a starter’s gun that signals a mad dash to go shopping. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day the whole world seems to be in a hurry.

We began to see signs of Christmas before the hobgoblins of Halloween had disappeared from the scene; after that the Pilgrims were bumping into Santa trying to be noticed. Christmas is such a big event that the days left till Christmas are counted down, which increases our anxiety about the looming deadline.

During the Christmas season we become gripped by the tyranny of the urgent. There are parties to plan and attend, shopping to get done, presents to wrap, mailing deadlines to beat, travel arrangements to make, preparations for guests, decorations to get up, meals to prepare; so many things making demands on our time, so little time in which to do them.

So we overload our nervous systems, exhaust our physical energies, and throw ourselves upon the altar of the urgent as a sacrifice to the god of “Got To”, Got To do this…Got To do that… Got To go there… Got To be here. It is a shame that we get so stressed at Christmas time.

For those who are in the loop on what the season is all about, the journey to Christmas can be more of a leisurely stroll than a mad dash. I’m sure Jesus would not mind if we all slowed down a bit and savored the reason for the season. After all, it is His birthday celebration. Sometime during the preparations for your Christmas celebration, whenever you are bombarded by the god of “Got To”, I hope you can hear the true Guest of Honor whisper, “Come aside with Me and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

Religion - The Christmas dash


Older News: December 21, 2006


Attorney General Abbott reaches agreement to protect small businesses

Agreement with YP Corp. stops deceptive scheme obligating small businesses to advertise

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

December 21, 2006

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureEL PASO–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Dec. 14 announced that some Texas business owners may be eligible for a refund of fees they unwittingly paid to an Arizona company for advertising in its online "yellow pages" directory.

Texas and 33 other states reached an agreement Dec. 14 with YP Corp. and its online services, YP.net and Yellow-Page.net, over allegations that the company used "live" activation checks to trick business owners into initiating contracts and paying monthly fees for advertising services.

"Small and locally-owned businesses are critical to the future of the Texas economy," said Attorney General Abbott. "The Office of the Attorney General is committed to keeping small businesses safe from deceptive or misleading marketing practices. We are committed to a Texas that fosters a burgeoning business community and protects small businesses."
Government - YP Corp Check fine print -  picture

The "live" activation checks YP Corp. mailed to thousands of businesses in Texas and around the country gave the appearance that the company had a pre-existing business relationship with the customers. The checks were made payable to the businesses, usually in small amounts of approximately $3.25. When business managers deposited or cashed the checks, they unknowingly entered into a contract with YP Corp. for an enhanced "Internet Advertising Package." Activating the check also triggered YP Corp., through its billing company, Telco Billing, to begin collecting monthly fees that were tacked on to their telephone bills or automatically withdrawn from the bank accounts into which the businesses deposited the checks.

Many businesses that cashed checks from YP Corp. assumed the small amounts were merely refunds or rebates. They were not aware of fine print on the reverse of the check explaining that depositing the check construed a contractual advertising agreement with YP Corp. Because businesses were unknowingly purchasing these services, the Texas Office of the Attorney General contended that YP Corp. had committed numerous violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division has determined that over 60,000 Texas business customers deposited checks. Customers who were unknowingly signed up with YP Corp., but who did not intend to purchase Internet advertising services may be eligible for restitution under the multi-state settlement.

Any Texas business or organization that deposited an activation check from YP Corp. since January 1, 2003, was billed for an online yellow page listing, and did not intend to enter into such a contract should contact the Texas Attorney General's Office no later than March 15, 2007, to request a refund.

Existing YP Corp. customers who believe they entered an advertising contract by depositing an activation check will be contacted directly by the company within the next few weeks with instructions on how to cancel their relationship with YP Corp. and request a refund.

Consumers who believe they may have been defrauded in this or a similar manner may contact the Office of Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or file online at the agency's Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Government - Attorney General Abbott reaches agreement to protect small businesses

Creek Student prepares to teach next generation

Whitney Brabant is teaching first graders

From Clear Creek Independent School District

December 21, 2006

School District - Creek Student Teaching imageLEAGUE CITY – Clear Creek High School "Ready, Set, Teach" student Whitney Brabant prepares her lesson about autumn leaves and color for her first grade class at League City Elementary School.

After reading a poem about autumn leaves and rhyming words, Brabant will call students into the hallway to create their own colorful autumn leaf.

Brabant is one of several students participating in the program that prepares students for careers as educators. She is mentored by veteran teacher Tana Clark.

CCISD - Creek Student prepares to teach next generation

“Image and Word” on display

December 21, 2006

HOUSTON — University of Houston -Clear Lake showcases “Image and Word” through the drawings of Vinicio Reyes, an art professor at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa , Mexico , Jan. 1 – April 4 in the university’s Bayou Building , Atrium I, Level 2.

Reyes used a variety of unique drawing techniques on paper to complete each piece exhibited in the show. The drawings combine poetic sentiment with lines, objects and the human form to create thought-provoking artwork.

Admission to the show is free. For more information, call Professor of Fine Arts Sandria Hu, 281-283-3446.

Higher Education - ‘Image and Word’ on display

Give wisely this holiday season

By Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

December 21, 2006

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureDuring this season of joy and thanksgiving, many Texans make generous donations to charities by volunteering their time or contributing money. Unfortunately, many criminals are also busy this time of year, devising schemes to take advantage of these feelings of graciousness and kindness, only to serve themselves.

Before you reach for your wallet, ask questions and check the facts. Make sure that your gift is actually going to help the cause to which you have chosen to give. Read about charities at our Web site http://www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/charitabletrusts.shtml.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

Ask for written information on the charity. Find out who is getting your contribution and how the money will be used.

Don’t fall for high pressure solicitations. Take your time. Write a check, ask for a receipt, or offer to mail in your donation. Do not give out personal information over the telephone.

Read the Texas Attorney General’s brochure, Giving to Charities, or
file a complaint about an organization in the Charities & Non-Profits
Section of our Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

Find out if a law enforcement, public safety, or veterans organization
is registered in the state of Texas:
Corporations Section, Secretary of State
P. O. Box 13697
Austin, TX 78711-3697
(512) 463-5555
www.sos.state.tx.us

Get assistance on making informed decisions about charitable giving:
The Better Business Bureau
Wise Giving Alliance
www.give.org

The American Institute of Philanthropy
www.charitywatch.org

Who wants your money? Ask the solicitor for identification. If you are not familiar with the charitable organization, ask the solicitor for more information or do your own research and review written materials to determine its full name, address and telephone number. Be cautious of similar sounding names.

Copycat organizations may use a name similar to a well-known charity in order to confuse you. They may send out spam e-mail solicitations that may direct you to what appears to be a legitimate Web site for a charity, when in fact it is a very good imitation. Make sure the charity to which you are giving is the organization you think it is.

How will your donation be used? Don’t be fooled by a tearful story or heartbreaking photo. Determine the organization’s main goals and ask about their program in detail. Ask for written information that will show you a comparison of how much money the organization spends on administrative and fundraising fees and expenses versus how much it spends directly on the intended recipients or projects of the charity. You may want to compare the administrative costs, fees and expenses for several charities before deciding which charities to support.

Remember to confirm the tax-exempt status of any organization to which you choose to make a donation. Verify whether or not your donation will be tax deductible.

Don’t feel pressured to send money right away. A legitimate solicitor will be patient and give you time to do your research. If solicited by phone, do not give out personal financial information, including your credit card or bank account number, over the phone.

Be smart about making cash donations. For large amounts, write a check in the name of the charity, or if you are giving other property ask for a receipt. Consult an attorney before making a significant gift, whether making such a gift outright, by will or by trust.

Some organizations will offer to send a courier to your house or office for immediate pickup of your donation. Tell them you would like to think about it or that you will mail it to them yourself.

If you aren’t sure if an organization is legitimate, contact www.give.org. This website is maintained by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to promote wise charitable giving. You may also file a complaint with the Charitable Trusts Section of my office online at
www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/charitycomplaint.pdf or by calling (800) 252-8011.

Make your gift count. Take your time, check the facts, and give wisely this holiday season.

Government - Give wisely this holiday season

Gov. Perry names Sen. Ken Armbrister as Legislative Director

Armbrister has more than two decades of legislative service

From the Office of Gov. Rick Perry

December 21, 2006

Government - Gov. Perry pictureAUSTIN– Gov. Rick Perry Dec. 14 announced that he is appointing Sen. Ken Armbrister as Legislative Director for the Office of the Governor. Armbrister, who did not seek re-election this year, will assume duties when his term of office expires in January.

“With more than two decades of legislative service, Ken Armbrister brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this new role in my administration,” Perry said. “He has served in both chambers and on every Senate committee, and he knows how to work across party lines to get things done. I am honored that Sen. Armbrister will continue his distinguished record of public service in my administration.”

Armbrister, D-Victoria, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1983 and to the Texas Senate in 1986. Previously, he served as the vice president of the Victoria Independent School Board and spent 14 years with the Victoria Police Department, rising to the rank of Captain.

During his tenure in the Senate, Armbrister chaired numerous committees, including Natural Resources, Criminal Justice, State Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations. As the chairman of a select committee on taxes in 1999, he helped pass what was then the largest tax cut in state history. Previously, Gov. Perry has appointed Sen. Armbrister to the Task Force on Homeland Security and the Governor's Anti-Crime Commission.

Armbrister is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and the FBI National Academy. He and his wife, Susie, have two children, Erin and Shane, and two grandchildren, Payton and Hayden.

Government - Gov. Perry names Sen. Ken Armbrister as Legislative Director

Cornyn statement on Tax Relief and Energy package

Measures passed to provide critical tax relief and increased domestic energy exploration

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

December 21, 2006

Government - Senator Cornyn picture
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn made the following statement Saturday regarding the Senate’s passage of measures included in a legislative package that will provide critical tax relief and increased domestic energy exploration.

Among other provisions, the bill includes: extensions of the sales tax deduction and other expiring tax relief, expansion of domestic energy production by opening more than 8.3 million acres for oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and a freeze in the scheduled five percent cut in Medicare physicians’ payments in 2007:

“This important legislation addresses a number of issues that are critical to Texas and its citizens, and I applaud my colleagues for working together to get the job done. It protects Texans from being discriminated against with an unfair tax increase which would have occurred if the sales tax deduction was not extended. It promotes needed efforts to decrease our dependence on foreign energy sources. And it prevents harmful Medicare payment cuts which would have affected health care services for patients.

“Extension of the sales tax deduction option is a victory for freedom and fairness in the tax code for Texans. This measure will provide a direct economic boost to our state’s taxpayers and consumers, and benefits middle income families in particular.

“The provision to open new areas for exploration in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is an important step toward increasing domestic energy production and reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources, and this can be done in an environmentally sound way. It’s also very good news that Texas will benefit from this exploration through a fair and reasonable revenue sharing program.”

Sen. Cornyn is a member of the following Senate Committees: Armed Services; Judiciary; Budget; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Joint Economic. He is also the chairman of the subcommittees on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

Government - Cornyn statement on Tax Relief and Energy package


Older News - December 14, 2006


LEGO League Robotics Tournament

Brookwood Nanobears win second place Champion's Award in the FIRST LEGO League Lone Star Robotics Tournament

From Clear Creek Independent School District

December 14, 2006

LEAGUE CITY –Twenty-one teams from CCISD Elementary Schools competed in the recent FIRST LEGO League Lone Star Robotics Tournament held at the University of Houston. This year’s challenge was Nano Quest, in which students had to design, build and program a robot to accomplish various missions, as well as create a presentation on a current or potential application of nanotechnology.

In the Robot Performance portion of the competition, the approximately 80 teams were divided into four divisions. After seeding rounds, nine of CCISD’s teams made it to the play-off rounds for their divisions. These nine teams were from Armand Bayou, Brookwood, Clear Lake City, Goforth, Greene, North Pointe, Ross, Ward, and Wedgewood Elementary Schools. Brookwood’s team, the Nanobears, won their division’s final and finished in 2nd place for the entire tournament.

CCISD had three teams recognized as Research Finalists: Armand Bayou Elementary School’s team, the Nano Terrapins, Brookwood Elementary School’s team, the Nanobears, and Goforth Elementary School’s team, the Explorers. These teams were three of the top four teams recognized for the quality of their research, innovative solutions and creative presentations that showed an in-depth understanding of the various scientific disciplines and issues involved with this year’s challenge. Goforth’s Explorers took first place, winning the Research Award for the Lone Star FLL Tournament.

CCISD’s FLL teams were recognized with awards:

Clear Lake City Elementary's Thunderbotz won the Mentorship award and the Teamwork award. Wedgewood Elementary's TechnoTimber Wolves won the Volunteer award. Armand Bayou Elementary's Nano Terrapins won the Sportsmanship award. Bay Elementary's Bay Boom was recognized as a Finalist in Robot Design. Brookwood Nanobears received the second place Champion's Award as the second best team in the tournament for all aspects of the competition (research project, robot performance, and technical design). Ross Elementary's Ross Rumblers received a Judges Award.

Results: FIRST LEGO League Nano Quest Lone Star Robotics Tournament
Team Award
Brookwood Nanobears Second place Champion's award as the second best team for all aspects of the competition: research project, robot performance, and technical design
Goforth’s Explorers The Research award
Clear Lake City Elementary's Thunderbotz The Mentorship award
The Teamwork award
Wedgewood Elementary's TechnoTimber Wolves The Volunteer award
Armand Bayou Elementary's Nano Terrapins The Sportsmanship award
Bay Elementary's Bay Boom Finalist in Robot Design
Ross Elementary's Ross Rumblers A Judges award

In addition to the 21 elementary schools participating, the Robonauts, CCISD’s high school robotics team, volunteered at the tournament and ran the field portion of the competition. Prior to the tournament, the Robonauts served as mentors to the CCISD FIRST LEGO League teams.

More information on the 2006 Lone Star FLL Tournament and FIRST LEGO League can be found at:

http://www.usfirst.org/jrobtcs/flego.htm
http://core.tech.uh.edu/
http://www.houstonrobotics.org/

CCISD - LEGO League Robotics Tournament

National Geographic grant awarded to UH-Clear Lake

December 14, 2006

HOUSTON — A popular University of Houston-Clear Lake Geography of Texas field trip now has the stamp of approval from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation, which awarded the project $44,129.

“Growing Teachers in Texas Soil” involves a partnership between UH-Clear Lake and the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education that takes 14 UH-Clear Lake geography education students on a 14-day trek to explore geography of Texas in May 2007.

Held every summer for the past five years through the university’s Geography Program, the field trip provides students with an opportunity to experience the geography of Texas firsthand, exposing students to many of the state’s major geographic regions, including the Gulf Coast , the prairies, the Texas Hill Country, the South Texas plains and Big Bend country.

“The 2,500-mile field trip is designed not only to increase the students’ knowledge of Texas geography, but also to drive home the fact that experiential learning in geography is a critical component of geographic education,” says Project Director and Assistant Professor of Geography Jeffrey Lash.

With the financial support awarded to students and faculty through a grant from the National Geographic Society Education Foundation, Lash can now take the field-based learning to a higher level through extended travel time; months of prior preparation; use of the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education partnership resources; an increased number of facilitating faculty; and much more.

“Most importantly, the National Geographic grant allows us, for the first time, to offer financial assistance to students who otherwise might not be able to afford to participate in the field trip,” says Lash.

“In the end, our trip helps the National Geographic Education Foundation fulfill its mission to motivate and enable a new generation to become geographically literate.”

Participants include students preparing to be social studies teachers. They will be required to enroll in two, three-hour geography courses at UH-Clear Lake , including Geography of Texas and Fieldwork in Geography. Coursework will be divided into pre-field trip, field trip and post-field trip components.

During the pre-field trip component, and in addition to their required coursework, participants will receive first-hand map making and navigation training, plus technical training in the use of geographic tools such as compasses, Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems.

Students will also attend workshops on the production of short documentary films and will receive instruction from professional photographers.

During the field trip, student teachers will be guided through the art and science of geographic examination, recording their field observations for later analysis and presentation.

“With the numerous field stops and activities provided through this grant project, I am thrilled by the opportunity students will have to enhance their knowledge of agricultural, cultural, economic, environmental, historical, physical and urban geography, as well as resource management,” says Lash.

The post-field trip component will allow students to meet with professors and create digital educational resources that will eventually chronicle their experiences on the Geography of Texas Virtual Field Trip Web page. The bilingual, multimedia Web page will be designed for use in kindergarten through 12th-grade social studies classrooms with the intent of fostering greater understanding of the state’s diverse people and places.

Finally, students will be required to present the Web page’s utility in specialized workshops at the 2007 meeting of the Texas Council for the Social Studies in El Paso , Texas .

“By the time the students finish presenting in El Paso , I’m confident that they will not only have a firm grasp of the geography of Texas , but will also feel comfortable implementing field trips in their own classrooms.”

For more information on UH-Clear Lake ’s geography program or the Growing Geography Teachers in Texas Soil project, please call UH-Clear Lake ’s School of Education at 281-283-3600.

Higher Education - National Geographic grant awarded to UH-Clear Lake

Attorney General Abbott joins “Friend Of Court” brief to support right of reporters to protect sources

9th Circuit Court urged to overturn ruling in case stemming from Bay Area Lab Cooperative investigation

From the Office of Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

December 14, 2006

Government - Attorney General Greg Abbott pictureNEW YORK–Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Dec. 8 joined a “friend of court” brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to support the right of journalists to protect the identities of confidential sources.

“A free and open press forms the foundation of a free and open democracy,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Our nation functions best when its citizens can see their government operating in the full light of day.”

Texas, along with several other states, joined an amicus brief filed by the New York Attorney General’s office asking the appeals court to recognize a federal common-law reporter's privilege. Such a privilege would protect the identities of journalists’ confidential sources from being revealed to a grand jury. The brief also urges that, in recognizing the privilege, the Court require the disclosure of confidential sources be “in the public’s interest.”

“This protection embodies the... states’ recognition that the free flow of information is vital to the workings of a healthy democracy,” the attorneys general wrote in the brief. “The most important information must often come from sources who need or prefer to remain confidential... without the confidentiality guaranteed by the reporter’s privilege, the sources will remain silent and their information secret.”

The underlying case stems from a lawsuit filed by two reporters with the San Francisco Chronicle who argued that their professional role as journalists protected them from having to reveal the identities of confidential sources to a federal grand jury. The journalists used the sources in connection with their reporting on a federal investigation of the Bay Area Lab Cooperative (BALCO) in San Francisco. The federal investigation exposed BALCO’s purported involvement in a steroid scandal involving professional athletes. The amicus brief filed, which was signed by 23 state attorneys general, relates to an appeal filed by the reporters in the wake of a decision by a judge in the Northern District of California, who held that federal law does not provide a reporter’s privilege.

The amicus brief is styled United States of America v. Mark Fainaru Wada, et al., Cause No. 06-16995, 06-16996.

Attorney General Abbott has championed the free flow of information throughout his administration. He strongly supported bills passed by the 2005 Texas Legislature to require public officials to undergo training in Texas' open government laws and to open the investment of public funds to more scrutiny.

In 2005, he was a recipient of the James Madison Award for his unwavering commitment to open government. Katherine "Missy" Cary, who formerly headed the Open Records Division, received the award in 2003. Hadassah Schloss, the division’s Cost Rules Administrator, was presented with the Open Doors Award in April 2006.

Government - Attorney General Abbott joins ‘Friend Of Court’ brief to support right of reporters to protect sources

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