Westbury Christian School 40th Birthday Party

February 9, 2015 • Continue Reading »

*Familiar faces past, present help Westbury Christian School mark 40th anniversary*

Four heads of school — Harold Wade (1988-1991), Greg Glenn (2007-2014), Robert McCloy (1991-2007) and Michael White (current) — cut giant lemon birthday cakes to serve the approximately 300 attendees — including alumni and former students; former and current board members, administrators, faculty and staff; and current students and their families — who gathered at the Westbury Christian School campus on Saturday afternoon, February 7, to celebrate the school’s 40th anniversary.

In addition to the cake and other party food, guests were treated to performances by the Wildcat band and cheerleaders, high school choir, selected theater students, and the high school ballet class. They also heard the heads of school discuss their past experiences and future vision for the school in a roundtable-style format. The school’s CATaclysm robotics team and middle school engineering class demonstrated their crafts as well. Attendees were also given the opportunity to board a bus for a tour of the WCS West Campus, the former Westland YMCA facility on Fondren being converted into the school’s Wildcat Athletic Complex.

Just prior to the cake cutting, John Greer, an elder of the Westbury Church of Christ, from which the school was spawned and with which it continues to share a physical campus and maintain a beneficial working relationship, presented White with a check for $25,000 to support the current and future work of the school and its dedication to Kingdom education.


“I want to thank all who came out to help us celebrate the 40th anniversary of Westbury Christian School,” said White, current head of school, who has worked in various classroom and administrative roles at WCS since 1997. “We had a great afternoon connecting our history with our present and future. I am blessed to work with some amazing people.”


FREE Spay/Neuter & Pet Wellness Services

February 9, 2015 • Continue Reading »



The District J Journal – February 9, 2015

February 9, 2015 • Continue Reading »


A New Vision for the Richmond Corridor

District J to Host Urban Land Institute Study


Many of you have heard me speak about how important neighborhood revitalization is to the future of District J. Such is the case with Richmond Avenue corridor that lies between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft.


If there was ever a microcosm of Houston’s development pattern, the Richmond corridor surely must be it! The area consists of a mixture of industrial and commercial businesses; single-family housing with condominiums from $50,000 to $1 million and multifamily housing; sports bars and restaurants of all business hours and prices; religious and educational facilities, a City park, an HPD storefront and Fire Station 28.


Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of gathering together a coalition of merchants and landowners along the corridor. Together, we began the process of visioning what the future holds for this dynamic part of Houston and District J. I am pleased to announce this coalition, along with your District J Office, HISD, and METRO, will be hosting an Urban Land Institute TAP (Technical Assistance Program) study that will re-imagine the future of the Richmond corridor.


The Urban Land Institute is a non-profit organization that promotes leadership in the responsible use of land and in building thriving communities. Established in 1947, ULI has completed over 600 panels, in 47 states, 12 countries, and 4 continents. Our panelists, coming from across the United States with experience in addressing re-development projects, will work to develop practical recommendations for moving towards the future.


On that note, stakeholders are invited to participate in this study, that will take place from 10:00am to 12:00pm and 1:30pm to 3:00pm at the JW Marriott Hotel (5150 Westheimer) on Monday, Feb. 23rd. These sessions will give the panelists insight into the strengths and challenges of the area.


I am proud of the hard work put forth by our friends along Richmond in planning this important event, and I look forward to hearing the recommendations on how best to breath new life into this vital and vibrant part of District J.



Mike Laster - signature 

-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

Community Garden Takes Root

Volunteers Needed to Help with Improvements


When a handful of residents at


the Bellerive Senior Living Center began planting a few vegetables on an old ditch easement last year, they probably didn’t think anyone would take notice. But as more residents began to take interest, the garden began to grow. Now, with the combined support of multiple organizations, the community garden will soon be receiving a major face lift!



Landscaping designs to vastly improve the garden have been warmly received by residents. The plans will include improved landscaping, the laying of brick pathways, and the removal of weeds, and debris in the green space.


These improvements have been made possible through an amazing partnership between the Houston Housing Authority, Keep Houston Beautiful, TBG Partners, Public Works’ Street and Drainage Division, the City’s Reuse Warehouse, the Solid Waste Department, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and your District J office.


But the work hasn’t even


started! Volunteers are needed for the Clean-Up day, which is scheduled to take place on February 21, 2015, at 8am at the Senior Living facility (7225 Bellerive, Houston, TX). If you know any students in need of some volunteer hours, or would like to participate yourself, please join us in making this incredible project a reality for these seniors. To volunteer, please contact Keep Houston Beautiful at 713-839-8855.


District J Capital Improvement Plan Meeting


Please mark your calendars for the  greyscale-drafting.jpgAnnual District J CIP Meeting which will be held at 6:30pm at the Sharpstown Community Center (6600 Harbor Town Dr., Houston, TX 77036) on Wednesday, February 25th.


The CIP is a five-year document outlining the city’s infrastructure improvement strategy, which is organized by priority, project capacity and timing constraints. Additionally, funding sources are identified for all proposed projects. For more information about District J CIP projects, please visit the CIP home page by clicking here.


Please feel free to contact the District J office by e-mail or phone (832-393-3015) should you have any further questions.

Westwood Super Neighborhood Meeting


The next Westwood Super Neighborhood meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 10, at 5:30pm at Betty Best Elementary School (10000 Center Parkway, Houston, TX 77036).

Upcoming Events
Please refer to the Community Events Calendar on our website for the time, location and other event details.

New events are added every

week. Be sure to check it often!

Tuesday, February 10
  •  Westwood SN Meeting, Betty Best Elementary  School, 5:45pm
  •  Sharpstown Rotary Club
  •  City Council – Public Session
  •  AARP Chapter 50 Meeting
Wednesday, February 11
  •  City Council
Monday, February 16
  •  Brays Bayou Association Meeting
Tuesday, February 17
  •  Sharpstown Rotary Club
  •  City Council – Public Session
  •  Braeburn PIP Meeting
Wednesday, February 18
  •  City Council
  •  GSMD – Environmental & Urban Design Committee Meeting
  •  Midwest PIP Meeting
Thursday, February 19
  •  Westside Division PIP
Saturday, February 21
  •  Bellerive Senior Living Community Garden Work-Day
Monday, February 23
  •  Greater Sharpstown Management District Board Meeting
  •  Gulfton Super Neighborhood #27 Meeting
  •  ULI Meeting
Tuesday, February 24
  •  Sharpstown Rotary Club
  •  Gulfton PIP
  •  City Council – Public Session
  •  Alief Super Neighborhood Council Meeting


February is Houston College Access Month

February 6, 2015 • Continue Reading »

Simplify College and Career Planning with

Houston College Access Month in February 2015!

The Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives and community partners make it easy for students and families to plan for college and their career. Celebrate Houston College Access Month this February and take advantage of these city-wide college and career planning events:

Get Money for College: Attend a Houston FAFSA event, and complete an application for state and federal money to attend college.
Select a College: Choose from over 300 college representatives to speak with at the Houston National College Fair. Register to attend the Houston National College Fair on Thursday, February 12th, 2015 at the NRG Center. Sessions for students run from 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM. Sessions for families run from 6 PM – 8 PM.
Find Your Career: Set your college and career goals by speaking with professionals from all fields at the Houston Hispanic Forum’s Career & Education Day. Sign-up for the Houston Hispanic Forum’s Career & Education Day on Saturday, February 14th, 2015 from 9 AM – 3 PM at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

For all questions & inquiries, please contact:
Chris Graves, Neighborhood Service Coordinator
(832) 393-0898

To learn more about education initiatives in the City of Houston, please visit:

Westbury Crier – February 2015

February 3, 2015 • Continue Reading »

WHS has a great administration, wonderful teachers, a vigorous academic plan with AP courses required, and an incredible student body. Let’s give them the campus they deserve and that we voted for in 2012. There are ways you can support the school today.

Here is what the principal has to say: “Westbury is an AWSOME place. The students are awesome and so are the parents. We are making progress every single day. We had our first back to school bash, winter festival, cross country event that was out of this world, a big event for middle school track coming in February, and our fine art programs that continue to flourish every time they step onto the stage. Auto-tech and debate are considered to be among the best in the district and respected around the State of Texas. Our scholars just need a chance to shine, have pride in themselves, and understand they are important to us.”

The February Crier devotes 5 pages to WHS. See how you can join the effort to support WHS.

Download the February issue of the Westbury Crier

Immediate need for VIPS (see page 8). It’s easy, sign up online and then go to the school with your TDL to finish registering.

  1. Help during tutorials on almost any Saturday in Math, Science, English, History.
  2. $5.00 gift cards to McDonalds, Burger King, Subway for tutorial incentive give aways.
  3. Mentors to check in on students who are struggling maybe once a week or once every two weeks. This could be a quick lunch at school and talk about things or coming to one of these scholar’s activities to support them.

ULI Development of Distinction – Braeburn Village

January 29, 2015 • Continue Reading »

OUTSTANDING Houston Real Estate Developments RECOGNIZED with
URBAN LAND INSTITUTE “2015 Development of Distinction” Awards

Braeburn Village (Midway/AAI Affordable Housing), Bethel Church Park, New Hope Housing at Rittenhouse, and Lee Davis Library – San Jacinto College Receive Top Honors

The Monarch Institute Campus Earns the ‘People’s Choice’ Award

HOUSTON – January 27, 2015 – The Houston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) today announced its 2015 Development of Distinction Awards presented by Winstead Attorneys at the Rice Crystal Ballroom downtown.

The Development of Distinction awards program is the centerpiece of ULI’s efforts to recognize developments that exemplify best practices in design, construction, economic viability, community health, marketing and management. The Houston award is modeled after the ULI Awards for Excellence global competition, which has honored best practices in real estate development for more than 30 years.

In the For-Profit Category, the winner was Braeburn Village (Midway/AAI Affordable Housing). This 140-unit, affordable multi-family housing redevelopment project in southwest Houston was developed by Midway Cos. through a collaborative partnership with AAI Affordable Housing. The complex is an attractive, affordable, multi-family housing option for the community. Midway partnered with Hill and Frank Architects, Brownstone (contractor) and Wong & Associates Landscape Architects. They redeveloped the existing property by first abating asbestos and demolishing all existing structures. The team removed the property from the flood plain, created community gathering spaces, added additional green spaces for residents and new playground equipment for children. Braeburn Village is visually appealing, functional and sustainable, while providing safe, affordable housing to families. See photo.

There were two winners in the Not-for-Profit Category: Bethel Church Park (Houston Parks & Recreation Department) and New Hope Housing at Rittenhouse (New Hope Housing, Inc.).

The goal of the Bethel Church Park project was to restore and preserve as much of the existing building (a historic Fourth Ward church)as feasible, as well as repurpose the church to retain its reverential character, while providing a functional space for passive recreation. Another important objective was to provide visual cues to the role the church played in a historical African-American neighborhood which has since been redeveloped. This City of Houston park provides a welcome respite from the surrounding hustle and bustle. The project team consisted of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Jim Patterson of White Oak Studio (Landscape Architect & Prime Consultant), Michael Lloyd of PGAL Architects and JE Dunn Construction. See photo.

New Hope Housing at Rittenhouse, located in north Houston, serves adults who live alone on limited incomes. The site planning utilizes 2- and 3-story buildings connected at the corners with metal-screened encased stairways to avoid overwhelming the neighborhood with a single mass. The LEED platinum-certified complex is situated around a courtyard featuring a mature grove of oak trees and a curved community wing with shared amenities. The development contains 160 studio apartments and inviting community spaces. Abstract stained glass presides over the tall sunny foyer, and original art decorates the walls to help create a sense of place. The positive influence of Rittenhouse extends to the entire neighborhood, offering a beautiful building with intelligent landscaping, such as a detention pond that doubles as a prairie-like park. Partners included Ernesto L. Maldonado, AIA, of Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects; Camden Builders, Inc. and Asakura Robinson Company, LLC. See photo.

The Lee Davis Library at San Jacinto College was named the winner in the Heritage Category. The library, built in 1966, was underutilized and in need of upgrading. Sustainability was at the center of design and construction. Original furniture and library stacks were restored and reused. Energy and water efficient MEP systems contributed to better building performance. The renovation honored the spirit of the mid-century modern building and through contemporary materials and modern technology, emphasized the social importance of learning and community outreach. The renovation has attracted many students and faculty, and the library is now open for public events, helping to strengthen the relationship between the college and the local, low-income community. Gensler was the architect for the restoration, and Tellepsen was the contractor. See photo.

The winner in the People’s Choice Category, and finalist in the Not-for-Profit Category, was

The Monarch Institute Campus, which received the highest number of online votes. Located in Spring Branch, the Institute was noted as a finalist for its innovative approach to sustainability for the entire campus and specifically for the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Classroom Studio, one of only six in the world and the first in Texas to achieve this level of sustainability. Overall, the School has a unique environmental design aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. The outdoor campus supports acres of project work in environmental education. Students at The Monarch School, which educates learners with neurological differences, will operate the building to meet the net zero goals and will in turn train the Houston community in this approach. The project team included Jackson & Ryan Architects and Mission Construction. See photo.

“This year’s Development of Distinction Awards covered an amazing array of innovative and sustainable projects,” said Carleton Riser, ULI Houston chair and Transwestern Development Co. president. “Each winner is a singular example of the ‘complete real estate project’ and has positively impacted their immediate community and Houston as a whole.”

Nine finalists were selected by a nomination panel of Houston real estate leaders that included David Hightower, executive vice president, chief development officer, Wolff Companies; Lonnie Hoogeboom, director of planning, design & development, Downtown Management District;

Char Lombardo, senior manager, facilities, BHP Billiton; Anna Mod, SWCA Environmental Consultants;
Jane Page, CEO, Lionstone Investments; David Robinson, Houston City Council at Large #2; Thomas Stroh, President and COO, Jones & Carter; and Preston Young, regional managing partner, Stream Realty Partners.

A jury of three national real-estate experts traveled to Houston last November to tour all projects and select the winners. The 2015 award jury included Clare De Briere, executive vice president, the Ratkovich Company in Los Angeles; John Desmond, executive vice president of urban planning & environment and executive director of the business improvement district, Downtown Denver and Anica Landreneau, global director of sustainable consulting for HOK in Washington D.C.

ULI also honored these 2015 finalists and honorable mentions:

Finalists in the For-Profit category: Hanover Rice Village, by The Hanover Company;Towne Lake Master Plan, by Caldwell Companies


Finalists in the Not-for-Profit category: Bagby Street Reconstruction, by Midtown Redevelopment Authority; The Monarch Institute Campus, by The Monarch School


Finalists in the Heritage category: Pennzoil Place, developed by Gerald D. Hines (1975), owned by Metropolis and managed by Transwestern


Honorable mention: Lone Star College, Cy-Fair Campus, by Lone Star College; Sylvan Beach Pavilion (Harris County Precinct 2, Jack Morman, Commissioner)

High resolution images for all winners and finalists are here. For a list of past ULI Development of Distinction winners, visit our website.


About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has about 30,000 members representing the entire spectrum of real estate development and land use discipline. For more information about ULI Houston, visit

The District J Journal – January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015 • Continue Reading »


Sharpstown High School Groundbreaking



As has been previously announced, Sharpstown High School is scheduled to be entirely rebuilt! The bond program passed by HISD in 2012 allocated $55 million towards this effort. Construction will not actually begin until mid-to-late 2015.


I hope that you will join me in attending the Sharpstown High School Groundbreaking Ceremony on Saturday, February 7th at 10am. The ceremony will take place at the Spark Park on campus, which fronts Bissonnet. The event will be attended by former alumni, community members, and elected officials.


The rebuilt school will be an exciting addition to the Sharpstown community, and will provide a new and positive educational environment for children in the area. I hope you are able to attend this important groundbreaking with me. And as always…Go Apollos!


Thank You,


Mike Laster - signature


-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

Continue Reading »

Help Wanted: HPD Offers $5,000 Incentive to Join the Ranks

January 22, 2015 • Continue Reading »

The Houston Police Department is looking to hire dozens of men and women in our city and is offering a $5,000 hiring incentive to new police recruits in the February, May, and June 2015 academy classes.

Each cadet will receive $2,500 within 30 days after starting the academy and $2,500 upon graduation from the academy.
Since the hiring process could take up to 90 days, the application process starts as soon as possible!
If you or someone you know is interested in serving and protecting our great city, please go to or contact the HPD Recruiting Division at 713-308-1300 for more information.

The District J Journal – January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015 • Continue Reading »


 Great Things Happening in Gulfton



As I have always said, “District J is the Ellis Island of Houston” and there isn’t a neighborhood that exemplifies that better than the Gulfton area. It is a tremendously diverse community of 53,000 residents, hailing from more than 80 different nations. Over the last decade, the Gulfton community has been undergoing a transformation that continues to this day. The old nickname “Gulfton Ghetto” no longer rings true.


Neighborhood Centers, Inc. began working in Gulfton nearly ten years ago, and its construction of the Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center in 2010 has driven much of the improvements in the area.


According to a recent report, between 2010 and 2012, crime has decreased by 8%. Nearly $29 million dollars have been refunded to residents through tax preparation programs, and with residents now working more hours in higher paying jobs, median household income has increased by 24.9%. Lee High School has experienced a 41% increase in graduation rates from 2008 to 2012.


Today, over 8,000 people visit Baker-Ripley monthly. Its extensive community-based programs, such as childhood and adult education, family and financial development, and productive citizenship training have been directly responsible for much of this change in Gulfton.


In addition to these great achievements, I am proud to announce that your District J office will be hosting the Gulfton Skatepark Kick-Off Event on January 27th at 4:30pm at Burnett Bayland Park. Please join us for important announcements regarding plans, timelines, gifted monies, and how you can help contribute to this exciting project.




Mike Laster - signature


-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

Continue Reading »

HPD Encourages Everyone to Have a Safe Holiday

November 25, 2014 • Continue Reading »

The next few weeks will be a busy time for everyone and while we might be distracted with the hustle of the holiday season, HPD wants everyone to remember a few simple tips that will help you and your family stay safe.

While shopping you should stay alert to your surroundings.

  • Don’t walk and talk on your phone and only carry what cards and cash are necessary.
  • Secure your belongings out of sight and keep your purse nearby at all times.

The holiday season also means increased spending so be careful to protect your personal data.

  • Be wary of who you provide your personal information to and watch for credit skimming devices.
  • Watch your financial statements closely and report inconsistencies immediately.

When you make your holiday purchases, stow them in the trunk prior to your next destination.

  • If you are stowing packages in your trunk and then heading back in to keep shopping, move your vehicle and park in a different place.
  • Make your most expensive purchase your last purchase of the day and take the item straight home.
  • Criminals are watching what you are buying and whether you are going to leave it unattended in your car after you make your purchase.

Don’t forget to protect your home

  • At home keep the outside well lit, doors locked and curtains closed.
  • If you are traveling out of town have a neighbor watch your house and put your lights on a timer.
  • It might be tempting to display your tree in the window for everyone to see, it’s best to keep your tree and gifts where on-lookers can’t see.

When it’s time to clean up remember not to advertise what gifts you received.

  • Destroy the boxes or place them in sealed garbage bags before you set them out for garbage collection.

HPD wishes everyone a happy and safe holidays. For more information on holiday safety tips visit