The District J Journal – July 25, 2014

July 28, 2014 • Continue Reading »


TIRZ Reappointments . . .




I would like to thank and congratulate the following individuals for their willing dedication and service to the Board of Directors of Tax Reinvestment Zone Twenty: Welcome W. Wilson, Jr., Kevin M. Chavez, Kenneth C. Li, Stephen T. Le, Saul Valentin, and Candice Alexander. They will re-join their colleague Dale Davidson who is slated to be reappointed on a different service rotation schedule. 


The TIRZ Board helped develop the engineering design plans for the Bellaire re-construction project and has financed the work. That project is scheduled for completion this fall. At my request, the Board has also agreed to fund $3 Million dollars in renovations to Crain, Lansdale and Sharpstown Parks during the next three years.


Mayor Annise Parker, along with City Council, confirmed the appointments on July 23, 2014.  I am grateful that these individuals choose to volunteer their time and talent to making the Sharpstown community, and District J, a better place for all of us.


Thank You,


Mike Laster - signature 


-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J


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Register now for your Summer-Fall 2014 Farm Share!

July 28, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Summer fun in sunny Houston

July 17, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Summer is a welcome break from the school-year routine. But for many kids, summer means watching tv and hanging out – not really doing much of anything. Without activities that engage their minds and bodies, kids experience summer learning loss as well as boredom.

Happily, kids in PAIR’s Global Learners summer program are now taking an exciting vacation right here in the city. In Summer Learners, students without many other options have a chance to learn more – about each other, about Houston, and about all sorts of new and interesting topics – and have FUN at the same time!

Each week students explore a different theme that connects them to the world outside their own and sparks their interest in the topic. Each week also includes a field trip that links to the theme and reveals a little of what Houston has to offer. Students are visiting Asia Society, the Museum of Natural Science, and Miller Theatre in Hermann Park among other Houston places.

PAIR’s lending library is on site so students can borrow books each week, experiencing the pleasure of reading and developing their English skills at the same time. They return the books with a brief report to share and compete for prizes at the end of the program. Of course, there is also time for play – soccer, kickball, and basketball are favorites.

Summer Learners brings students from all four of PAIR’s school-year middle school programs together at NCI’s Baker-Ripley campus. In this large group of kids from all over the world they have a chance to use the social skills they’ve been developing and to welcome each other into the exciting culturally diverse world of Houston today.

Share the fun with more photos on PAIR’s Facebook page.

PAIR Houston
8303 Southwest Freeway, Ste. 718
Houston, Texas 77074

Houston’s Summer of Learning

July 14, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Houston is full of FREE, FUN resources and opportunities to LEARN all summer long!


School is out but learning does not have to end! The Mayor’s Office of Education Initiatives has organized numerous free, fun and educational summer learning programs in Houston! These include summer reading programs through the Houston Public Library system, nutrition and wellness programs through Houston Parks & Recreation and art & cultural events through the Houston Museum District, Miller Outdoor Theater, Houston Symphony and Young Audiences of Houston. The Summer of Learning campaign also has intern and/or volunteer opportunities open to students and responsible adults through Houston Service, as well as resources to help your child plan for college through the City of Houston’s Department of Neighborhoods Office of Education Initiatives!

For more information, check out the Summer of Learning webpage at or contact Aarik Mickens-Dessaso via email at or by phone at 832.393.0993. You can also check out the calendar of events at

You can also follow the Department of Neighborhoods on Facebook and Twitter for updates on summer activities and more!

The District J Journal – July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014 • Continue Reading »

It’s Budget Season!



City Council wrapped up nearly three weeks of FY2015 budget deliberations this past Wednesday.


I was pleased to offer two amendments to the CIP (Capital Improvements Projects) Budget that were passed by Council:


Money for Speed Cushions


One of those amendments was the inclusion of an additional $250,000 for the CIP Budget allocated for neighborhood speed cushions. This would bring the total amount of funding to $500,000 – the amount I was able to increase this programs’ funding to last year. Speed cushions are important safety tools for neighborhoods, and this amendment will ensure that funding levels remain consistent.


Equal Funding for All


I also offered an amendment stating that not less than 1 percent of the annual CIP budget be allotted to each council district. This ensures that every council district receives the same baseline amount of funding devoted to Capital Improvement Projects within its boundaries.


Council District Service Budgets


I was also pleased that an amendment creating Council District Service Budgets was passed by an overwhelming majority of Council.


This amendment allots $11 million ($5 million in general fund dollars and $6 million in CIP funds), equally distributed to the 11 council districts, to more quickly address smaller infrastructure construction and repair needs, without waiting years for such improvements to be constructed on the current CIP timelines.


Input from the community will be vital to making this new process work, and there will be detailed requirements as to how, and for what projects, these funds can be used. The District J Office will keep you informed about these new rules and regulations for the use of funds as they are formulated and finalized. 


Condolences . . .


I know you will join me in holding

Fire Fighter Daniel Groover, of Fire Station 104, and his family in your thoughts and prayers. He was a 46-year-old veteran of the Houston Fire Department and lost his life fighting a house fire in Kingwood.


Donations can made in his name to The 100 Club, who is providing assistance to the family.


Take a moment to remember this true hero.




Mike Laster - signature 

-Mike Laster, Council Member – District J


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30th Annual Mayor’s Proud Partner Award – Call for Entries!

July 10, 2014 • Continue Reading »

Who: Keep Houston Beautiful (Houston Clean City Commission)

What: Mayor’s Proud Partner Award Call for Entries

When: entries due Monday, July 21, 2014

Where: award application is available at

Why: award the efforts of businesses, individuals and community groups who work to enhance Houston’s landscape through environmental and beautification projects

Contact: Emily Barlow, Program Director, Keep Houston Beautiful


Keep Houston Beautiful, the City of Houston’s Clean City Commission, is now accepting award applications for the 30th Annual Mayor’s Proud Partner Awards. If your group has worked to support our city through volunteer beautification, neighborhood cleanups or conservation activities, the City of Houston would like to hear about it. Gather your organization’s leaders together and select that special project that you would like to submit demonstrating your commitment to keeping Houston beautiful!

The Mayor’s Proud Partner Award application is available at Please note, all applications must be submitted online and are due no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014.

Eligible entries include any program, project or individual effort, big or small, carried out and substantially completed during the last year to create a cleaner more beautiful environment. See last year’s Proud Partner Award winners here.

Examples of eligible entries: beautification and landscaping installations, neighborhood cleanups, environmental education programs, volunteer park improvements, murals (graffiti abatement), waste minimization efforts, litter prevention programs and similar service projects.

Sponsoring groups may include: businesses, nonprofit and civic organizations, garden clubs, youth groups (including, classroom projects), universities, government agencies, religious institutions, medical institutions and individuals.

Be sure to apply today! For more information, contact Keep Houston Beautiful at

To learn more about the City of Houston’s sustainability efforts, visit

2014 Liftoff Houston Business Plan Competition

July 2, 2014 • Continue Reading »


Enter for a chance to win $10,000!
2014 Liftoff Houston Business Plan Competition

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Do you have a business idea that could change the world?

Don’t miss this once in a life-time opportunity to test your business idea and get feedback from leaders in the business community.

Liftoff Houston is the City of Houston’s business plan competition which provides startup companies and aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to participate in workshops and mentoring, that will ultimately lead them to create an effective business plan. Houstonians that participate in this competition will have an opportunity to pitch their business plan at our pitch event for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize along with great in-kind prizes to start their business! Now in our 2nd year, Liftoff Houston is brought to you by the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity, the Houston Public Library, and is sponsored by Capital One Bank.

To be eligible, contestants must be in the start-up phase of their business: you have an idea or you are currently operating a business. If currently in operation- it must be for less than one year, with revenue of less than $10,000. Participants must live in the Houston city limits and if currently operating their business, the business must also be within the Houston city limits.

This year there will be three award categories where a winner from each award category will receive a $10,000 cash prize along with in-kind prizes.

1. ​$10,000 – Awarded for top “Product” Based Business Plan (Retail, resale, merchandise, etc.)
2. $10,000 – Awarded for top “Service” Based Business Plan (Food, labor, consulting, etc.)
3. $10,000 – Awarded for top “Innovation” Based Business Plan (Software, Hardware, inventions, new market businesses, etc.)

Mandatory Orientations

Orientations are required for contestants and will be offered at designated Houston Public Library locations citywide. Orientations will provide interested individuals with detailed information about the competition including rules, resources, and the process to compete. Orientations will start July 12th, 2014 and continue through till July 31st, 2014. To view the list of orientations and RSVP on the Liftoff Houston website visit,

Noncompeting Individuals

Individuals that do not wish to compete in the competition but would like to attend workshops can do so by emailing Liftoff Houston stating their interest to attend workshops and not participate in pitch day. Liftoff Houston pitch day contestants will be given priority when registering for workshops.


Liftoff Houston/ Houston Business Solutions Center: Telephone: 832-393-0953 or


Download Competition Information (PDF)

Build a Better Bus System

June 29, 2014 • Continue Reading »

The City of Houston and METRO Invite You to

Build a Better Bus System.


METRO is hosting several public meetings at City of Houston Multi-Service Centers on the agency’s draft five-year transit plan.

The meetings are “open house” in format and will provide a brief overview of the System Reimagining project and the major changes proposed under the plan. Several stations will be set up at which visitors will be able to learn and discuss aspects of the redesigned system, and to share their comments. Here is the schedule.

The redesign of METRO’s local bus system has been underway for more than a year. The plan aims to connect more people to more places with more frequent service seven days a week. For an overview of the proposed plan, go here.

The public’s feedback is an important step in the process as the draft plan is refined before it goes to the METRO board for its review and approval. Following board approval, the new bus plan is slated to be implemented in the summer of 2015.

For those unable to attend the public meetings, comments may be submitted on the website , via email at or by calling the Project Hotline at 713-739-6026.

Plant It Forward Farm Stands Now Open in Your Neighborhood

June 28, 2014 • Continue Reading »


Southwest Airlines® Freedom Over Texas Seeking Patriotic Volunteers for Fourth of July Celebration

June 28, 2014 • Continue Reading »


JULY 4, 2014

Seeking Patriotic Volunteers for Fourth of July Celebration


The City of Houston is calling on all patriots to volunteer their time in celebrating our nation’s birth at Southwest Airlines Freedom over Texas.

Volunteer assignments include acting as festival greeters or working on-site event booths that make up the festival’s infrastructure. In return for donating time, volunteers will be treated to world-class entertainment, free parking, excellent prize drawings, great refreshments and a dazzling fireworks display. Volunteers that sign up to work a double shift will enjoy a free dinner and will be entered into a drawing to win a pair of Southwest Airline® Tickets and a free one night stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Houston Downtown!

Come help make Southwest Airline’s Freedom Over Texas one of the most spectacular and memorable events in the city! We ask that all volunteers are at least 16 years old.

WHEN: Friday, July 4 Volunteer Shifts; 2:30 – 7 p.m. OR 6 – 9:30 p.m.

WHERE: Volunteer Headquarters 110 Sabine St., Houston, TX 77010

HOW TO SIGN UP: Please visit to sign up. Assignments will be distributed upon arrival at Volunteer Headquarters.


About Southwest Airlines® Freedom Over Texas

Mayor Annise D. Parker’s official Fourth of July celebration has become Houston’s signature annual event attracting nationally recognized recording artists and, regional and local talent. Jennifer Nettles, country music star and lead vocalist for international super duo Sugarland, will be the featured artist at this year’s celebration. The 2014 Southwest Airlines Freedom Over Texas celebration will set the stage for an extraordinary patriotic celebration filled with family fun. The event culminates with one of the largest fireworks displays in the USA overlooking the Houston skyline.

Pre-Sale Tickets: $5 per person through June 1, 2014 (children 5 and under free)
$8 per person June 2 – July 3, 2014 (children 5 and under free) Tickets may be purchased on-line prior to the event.

Day of: The day of show tickets may be purchased on-line or at the event for $10 (children 5 and under free).

For more information, visit
Ticket URL