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The District J Journal – October 17, 2014

October 20, 2014 • Continue Reading »

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The Only Thing We Have to Fear . . .

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the midst of the Great Depression, encouraged a worried nation with these hope-filled words: “. . . let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Those words seem to still ring true.

 

During the past few weeks, Houstonians have watched the developments of the Ebola victims in Dallas with deepening concern. For those of us who live in District J – Houston’s most extensive international community – these developments are quite personal. Many of us have friends, colleagues, and business associates who hail from, or who do business with, West African countries. For us, the fight against the Ebola virus on the African continent has also been a fight for our own community. 

 

This week, City Council was briefed on Houston’s state of preparedness to combat the Ebola virus. Dr. David Persse, the Houston Emergency Medical Services Director, explained that while no cases have occurred in Houston yet, the city’s vast medical community is prepared if such an event occurs. He then provided a detailed explanation of plans and procedures in case an infection was to occur. You can see their detailed video report here as well as general Ebola update information, an Ebola Fact Sheet, and a ”What you need to know about Ebola“ sheet.

 

Answering questions from Mayor Parker and the Council, Dr. Persse explained initial symptoms of Ebola can resemble those of other common diseases, including the flu. If you are medically able, join me in getting your flu shot in order to eliminate that source of worry.

 

Let’s do all we can to inoculate ourselves against an ”unreasoning fear” of the Ebola virus. Let’s educate ourselves about the disease in all its facets. As always, please be diligent in maintaining standard sanitary and hygienic practices to ensure that our friends, neighbors and family members remain healthy.  

 

Be well,

 

Mike Laster - signature

 

-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

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Neighborhood Matching Grant Program Application Deadline Date: Friday, October 24, 2014

October 6, 2014 • Continue Reading »

The Neighborhood Matching Grant Program (NMGP) helps neighborhoods fund various beautification and improvement projects by providing matching grant (reimbursements) ranging from $500 to $5,000.

Materials relating to the Neighborhood Matching Grant Program are now available on the Department of Neighborhood’s website: http://www.houstontx.gov/neighborhoods/matchinggrants.html

The material include the grant application, FAQs, and past grant recipients (which outlines that respective grant project).

For more information, contact Conya Barreras at the Department of Neighborhoods at 832-394-0654 or conya.barreras@houstontx.gov.

The District J Journal – October 3, 2014

October 3, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Don’t Miss this Year’s National Night Out. . .

 

Every first Tuesday in October, our community comes together to support our local police officers at annual National Night Out (NNO) events around the City. This evening allows neighbors the chance to get to know each other and their local police officers, all while supporting the common goal of fighting crime, making neighborhoods safer and improving our quality of life.

 

Please check with your local civic association or HPD storefront to find out what events are happening near you. Various events will take place on Tuesday, October 7th, from 6pm to 9pm, throughout our neighborhoods and community centers. Virtually every neighborhood in District J will be hosting some sort of event, with some subdivisions hosting multiple events.

 

If you have never been, you are in for a treat! Folks gather for good food, camaraderie, and lively conversation. By getting to know each other better, we form a goodwill covenant to be better neighbors, to watch out for each other, and to help protect our homes, properties and communities from crime.

 

I, and your District J staff, look forward to attending as many of this year’s District J NNO events as time will allow. See you Tuesday!

 

Thank You,

Mike Laster - signature

-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

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National Prescription Take-Back Day Partnership with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

September 25, 2014 • Continue Reading »

To help the public properly dispose of unused or expired medication, the Drug Enforcement Administration is partnering with the Mayor’s Office and the Houston Police Department (HPD) to host the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. All tablets, capsules and solid dosage forms will be collected (intravenous solutions, injectables and syringes will not be accepted).

This event will be held at several locations nationwide on Saturday, September 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To find the location nearest to you, go to http://www.dea.gov and click on the “got drugs” link. This service is free, anonymous and open to all.

Citizens can drop off prescription drugs to HPD personnel at the following nine locations:

  1. Kingwood (Metro Park and Ride) – 3210 W. Lake Houston Parkway – Kingwood 77339
  2. Northeast Police Station – 8301 Ley Rd. – Houston 77028
  3. South Central Police Station – 2202 St. Emanuel – Houston 77003
  4. Westside Police Station – 3203 S Dairy Ashford Rd – Houston 77082
  5. Southeast Police Station – 8300 Mykawa Rd. – Houston 77048
  6. Clear Lake Police Station – 2855 Bay Area Blvd. – Houston 77058
  7. South Gessner Police Station – 8605 Westplace Dr. – Houston 77071
  8. North Police Station – 9455 W. Montgomery – Houston 77088

For more information, please go to http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

Report on Mayor’s Back 2 School Fest

September 11, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Mayor Annise Parker welcomed thousands of pre-registered students and their families to the 4th Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fest on Saturday, August 16, 2014. Joining Mayor Parker for the opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting were fest presenting sponsors Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC, host University of Houston, donors, participating agencies, and volunteers.

The event’s purpose was to aid economically disadvantaged students grades K-5, who reside in the City of Houston, prepare for the new school year. Participation in the fest was offered by advance registration only. Families who were not able to pre-register to participate in the event are advised to call the 2-1-1 United Way Helpline for referrals to community agencies offering assistance.

The City of Houston is grateful to all of its sponsors, volunteers, and exhibitors for making this event a success and wishes all students great academic achievement in this school year!

4th Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fest Sponsors

Presenting Donors:

Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises LLC

Sponsors: University of Houston, Kroger, Undies for Everyone, FirstService Residential, Summit Dental Center, Texas Children’s Health Plan, CenterPoint Energy, Comcast, Fiesta Mart, CHI St. Luke’s Medical Center, TAM International Inc., Union Pacific Railroad, Kelsey-Seybold Clinics, KBR, , MetroPCS, UPS, Capital One Bank, The Felix and Angela Morales Memorial Foundation, Delta Dental of California, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Care Van, Smart Financial Credit Union, Texas Barber Colleges & Hairstyling Schools, Texas Exposition Services, Walgreens, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Simple Tech Solutions, Fallas Paredes, Your Logo, CESI, American Textile Recycling Service, Whole Foods, CompuCycle, and Walmart.

 

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District K council member touts safety of area communities

September 10, 2014 • Continue Reading »

More Information
Want more info?
Connect with Southwest Houston 2000 Inc. at its website, swhouston2000.org, or on facebook at SWHouston2000
For a list of certified Blue Star multi-family properties, visit Blue Star – Multi-Housing Program or contact HPD’s Apartment Enforcement Unit at 713-308-3900
Contact Houston City Council District K 832-393-3016 or email districtk@houstontx.gov

Crime statistics show that Southwest Houston neighborhoods are among the city’s safest, and Houston City Councilman Larry Green credits the work of residents who are engaged in the community.

“We have some challenges. There will always be criminals out there. But I think we have systems in place, organizations in place like Southwest Houston 2000, to help address them,” Green recently told the group’s safety and security committee.

Formed more than two decades ago, Southwest Houston 2000 Inc. is a coalition of civic and religious groups, nonprofits and businesses that works to improve quality of life in the region. Crime prevention is a key focus for its safety committee.

Green said his District K, which extends from Braeswood Boulevard into Fort Bend County between Almeda Road and Gessner, ranked as third safest in Houston in “Part I” crimes, behind District E, which includes Clear Lake and Kingwood, and District G, which takes in River Oaks and the Memorial area. Part I crimes include violent and property crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and theft.

District K had 10,156 Part I crimes in 2013, compared to 9,740 in 2012, the data shows. District E Part I crimes fell 2.1 percent to 6,859 in 2013, and District G had 9,973, 1.1 percent less than in 2012.

“Obviously, we want to have the lowest crime rate,” Green said.

“It’s happening,” said Perry Radoff, who chairs the SWH 2000 safety committee.

Radoff routinely collects data on police calls for service to local apartment complexes, where many of the area’s crimes reported. From 2011 to 2013, the number of calls continued to trend downward at most properties, his most recent report shows.

“Our folks are in better communication with Houston Police Department than ever before,” says Andy Teas, vice president of public affairs for Houston Apartment Association.

A recent training session provided by the Blue Star program to reduce crime at rental properties was filled to capacity by apartment staff members, he said.

Blue Star, a joint effort by HPD and HAA, also requires multifamily properties to comply with an environmental safety survey and to host a safety social involving residents.

HPD has cracked down on high-crime properties, putting in place remedial action plans where necessary, Teas said.

The Brays Oaks Management District helps area apartment owners and managers connect to HAA and similar services, including tenant screening.

Last month, the district’s Richard Rodriquez unveiled a program that will recognize properties focused on safety and crime prevention.

Teas said the improved economy has helped. With fewer vacancies, apartment managers can be more discriminating about whom they rent to.

“A rising tide lifts all boats, and I think that’s very true,” Teas said.

But still, Green agreed with Radoff that more work is needed to address area poverty and its impact on youths.

“It’s very difficult for us to change what happens in those households,” Green said.

“The only thing we can do is make sure that, when they come out, the community is safe and able to provide resources so the kids have an outlet.”

Residents in the area, including some on the committee, are advocating for more park space through the Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s master parks survey process.

Green said the challenge continues to be finances.

“There still is this huge chasm in regards to the haves and the have-nots,” said Green, who is focused on bringing resources and activities to his district, including afterschool programs through churches and community centers.

“I look for suggestions about systems or programs we need that we don’t already have,” he said.

District J Town Hall Recap

September 8, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Dear District J Residents,

As you may know, I hosted a Town Hall meeting last week to address the effects of the expansion of the Sharpstown TIRZ boundaries and HBU’s ongoing construction of improvements on its campus.

We had a productive meeting, attended by many residents, and I would like to thank our wonderful panel of experts for their participation. Here is a recap of the evening:

  • The TIRZ has no authority to use governmental condemnation powers and cannot force private landowners to sell their property to the TIRZ or any other party.
  • The expansion of the TIRZ boundary does not enhance the City’s condemnation powers or increase the likelihood that the City would exercise those powers. No properties located in Section 2 will be condemned as a result of the TIRZ boundary expansion.
  • The expansion of the TIRZ boundaries is solely an administrative act with only one outcome: it allows TIRZ budget monies to be spent on public improvements within the TIRZ area.
  • The TIRZ has, since the date of its creation invested, or will within the next five years invest nearly $58 million dollars for public improvements in the Sharpstown area.
  • The City does possess governmental condemnation powers but is restricted by law to use that power only for public purposes. The City has no plans to condemn residential property in Section 2.
  • Private property located in Section 2 cannot be purchased, nor re-platted, for commercial purposes, because the Deed Restrictions require that such property be used for single-family residential purposes only.
  • On March 20, 2013, City Council also approved a Development Agreement between HBU, the City, and the TIRZ. It stipulates that HBU will add $160 million in value to the area by constructing infrastructure improvements solely on its Campus, in exchange for a credit from the City of $4.4 million (not funded by TIRZ monies).
  • After passage of the Development Agreement, an exhibit showing a drawing listed as “Science Lab Building Option 6″ was incorrectly attached to the Agreement. The exhibit was attached by human error and is not part of the Agreement. The City will take steps to remove the incorrect exhibit in order to eliminate public confusion.
  • HBU owns 13 residential properties in Section 2, which it uses for faculty housing. HBU pays annual voluntary membership dues to the Sharpstown Civic Association. HBU has no active plans to purchase additional residential properties in Section 2.
  • HBU is a private sector university that does not possess governmental condemnation powers therefore cannot force private property owners to sell property to HBU.

I hope this list of facts will address any questions you may have, correct any misinformation, and put to rest any confusion that has surrounded the community’s understanding of these matters.

If you have any further questions, or if we may be of service to you in any other way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. It is an honor and pleasure to serve you.

Thank You,

Council Member
Mike Laster

The District J Journal – September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014 • Continue Reading »

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Organizing for Good in Westwood . . .

 

Last year, your District J staff and I worked closely with the Gulfton community in establishing the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council. Since January, under the direction of energized and enthusiastic neighborhood leadership, the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council has been coming together to envision the future of that community. I am excited about all ways the Gulfton community is looking to improve their homes and businesses in that part of District J!

This year, I am hoping to jumpstart that same conversation within the Westwood community. I am looking forward to Tuesday, September 9th, when your District J office will be holding our second Westwood Social Service Meeting at Betty Best Elementary School at 6:00 P.M. Not only will we be discussing the re-vitalization of the Westwood Super Neighborhood Council, we will also begin a conversation about possible future improvement plans for Forum Park.

Speaking of parks, I wanted to also remind Sharpstown residents that our Lansdale & Crain Parks Update Meeting will be at the Lansdale Community Center on the evening of Thursday, September 11th at 6:30pm. We will be reviewing design plans for the new water spray-ground at Lansdale Park, the walking trail improvements to Crain, as well as the creation of an advocacy organization for the parks in the Sharpstown community. If you are able, please join me for these meetings!

 

Thank You,

Mike Laster - signature

-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J

 

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Call for Presentations for the 2015 NUSA National Conference

September 3, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Houston is proud to have been selected as the host city for the 40th anniversary NUSA conference. Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) is a non-profit group focused on building stronger communities by providing learning, information sharing and networking opportunities for its members. The organization is also known for recognizing outstanding communities and individuals dedicated to improving neighborhood quality of life. The annual NUSA conference is the organization’s premier event that is anticipated to draw 1,200 participants in 2015. The conference will be held from May 20 – 23, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Houston.

One of the most important aspects for a successful NUSA conference is high-quality workshops. The workshops provide conference attendees with the tools and training to improve and maintain great neighborhoods. The Program Development Committee of NUSA is seeking proposals from the best and brightest to present workshops on a wide range of topics related to neighborhoods. Preference will be given to proposals that address the conference theme, Passion into Action, or one of the 10 workshop tracks.

2015 Workshop Tracks

  • Social & Civic Engagement
  • Changes in the Natural Environment
  • Housing
  • Demographics & Population Change
  • Transportation
  • Green Things & Food Sustainability
  • Show Me the $$$
  • Neighborhood Initiatives
  • Social Concerns & Political Advocacy
  • Health & Safety

Proposals are due by Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 5 p.m. EDT and must be submitted in the Proposal Outline format. Further information and the Proposal Outline format can be found at http://www.houstontx.gov/nusa2015/call_for_presentations.pdf or www.nusa.org.

Please contact 713-837-7836, if you have any questions.

Volunteer Opportunity – Provide Free Tax Preparation through VITA

September 3, 2014 • Continue Reading »

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Volunteer Opportunity
Provide Free Tax Preparation through VITA
Free Training

Become IRS-Certified for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide free tax preparation for taxpayers in the low-to-moderate (LMI) bracket for the 2014 tax season. Hands-on experience as a volunteer for free tax preparation using online tax preparation software. Learn tax law updates for upcoming individual income tax filing season.

Bilingual volunteers are also needed.
In-person and Online training available
Volunteer Registration begins: October 1, 2014
Go to: http://beyondcareers.org/contact/
Subject: VITA Volunteer
The VITA program is approved to provide Continuing Education (CE) credits for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers. Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers must certify at the Ad-vanced level in tax law using Link & Learn Taxes on irs.gov before beginning their volunteer service. Your Form 13615, from Link & Learn, reflecting your completed certification will be attached and e-mailed to: beyondcareers2@gmail.com

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