UHCL student knows special ed is her true calling in life

December 11th, 2018

Sarah Robicheaux has known her professional calling for most of her life. As the older sister of a sibling with Down’s Syndrome, the University of Houston-Clear Lake senior knows that teaching children with special needs is where she’s meant to be.

Robicheaux, 27, lives in Alvin and will receive her bachelor’s degree in education with a dual certification in early childhood-6th and early childhood-12th special education Dec18. “I’ve done my internship at Dan Kubacak Elementary in Santa Fe Independent School District, and I have substitute taught in Santa Fe for four years,” she said.

She won Substitute Teacher of the Year in 2017-18 for Roy J. Wollam Elementary School in Santa Fe ISD. Her close ties to the students and teachers in Santa Fe made the shooting that occurred on May 18 at Santa Fe High School even more painful. “It’s a small district, and everyone knows everyone,” she said. “The experience definitely changed everyone, including me. I never asked myself if I was willing to die for my chosen profession, but I had to wonder if I would die for my kids.”

She said she examined herself and her desire to be a teacher. “I still want to be a teacher, no matter what,” she said. “I’ve been living special education with my little brother since I was five. I could see how mistreated he was when he was little. There was no inclusion at that time, and he was stuck in a classroom with kids who were more disabled than he was, and he wasn’t learning.”

Her mother battled to get him into a mainstream classroom, Robicheaux said, and to get him a special education teacher who was willing to teach him at his level. “No matter how big the tragedy, nothing will change my mind,” she said. “My little brother inspired my calling in life.”

Now that she’s graduating, Robicheaux said that she has interviewed in Alvin ISD for a math resource position, and would like to reside and someday raise her own children in Santa Fe. “My ultimate goal is to have a self-contained life skills classroom,” she said. “I know this is what I am meant to be doing. If the unimaginable events on May 18th couldn’t shake it, I don’t think anything can.”

December Main Events in Bay Area Houston Magazine

December 3rd, 2018

The Nutcracker Dec. 1. The classic ballet, The Nutcracker, is being presented by Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre with a 7:30 p.m. performance Saturday, Dec. 1 and a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Dec. 2. A second three-day run is scheduled the following weekend, Dec. 7-9. For tickets, call 281-480-1613.
Toyland Fantasy Dec. 1. Bay Area Museum Guild members will host their annual holiday treat for children, the Toyland Fantasy Breakfast at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Bay Oaks Country Club. Tickets are $35.
JSC Director’s Party Dec. 6. The Johnson Space Center Director’s Holiday Party will be held at the space center from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Guild Party Dec . 6.Bay Area Museum Guild will host its Holiday Party from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, at the museum in Clear Lake Park.
ALBA Party Dec. 11. Assistance league members will gather from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for their annual Yule Party.
Panhellenic Party Dec. 13. Clear Lake Area Panhellenic members will gather Thursday, Dec. 13 at the home of Sheree Frede for their annual Holiday Party.
Chamber lunch Dec. 12. Clear Lake Area Chamber members will gather at Lakewood Yacht Club at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 for their monthly luncheon. For reservations, call 281-488-7676.
UHCL graduation Dec. 18. Over 1,050 UH-Clear Lake students will graduate Sunday, Dec. 16 at NRG Arena next to NRG Stadium with the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Education ceremonies at noon, and the College of Human Sciences and Humanities and the College of Business ceremonies at 5 p.m. Guests do not need tickets to attend, but there will be a cash only parking fee.
Chamber party Dec. 17. Clear Lake Chamber members will gather at the chamber for their annual Holiday Open House Monday, Dec. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Welcome Neighbors Dec. 20.Bay Area Welcome Neighbors Club will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20 at Bay Oaks Country Club for a luncheon with the talented Mickey Hobbs performing holiday classics and many other popular songs. For luncheon reservations, contact Nancy Guthrie at membership.bawnc@gmail.com or call 281.333.3055.
Awards Luncheon Dec. 13. The Deer Park Chamber will host its Holiday Awards Luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Republic Grill at Battleground Golf Course, 1600 Georgia Ave. Tickets $25 each, may be reserved by contacting Naomi at 281-479-1559 or at Naomi@deerparkchamber.org
Musical now playing. The musical Annie is not playing at the Harbour Playhouse, 3803 Highway 3, at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with matinees at 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Sunday, Dec. 16. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. For reservations, call 281-337-7469 or email www.harbourplayhouse.com
Chamber luncheon Dec. 6. Friendswood Chamber members will gather at the Green Events Center, 2000 W. Parkwood, for their monthly luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members. For reservations, call 281-482-3329 or email info@friendswoodchamber.com
Christmas Parade Dec. 8. Friendswood families will gather at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 for the city’s Christmas Parade along Friendswood Drive from Heritage Drive to Shadwell. For information, call Carol Marcantel, 281-482-3329.
Open House Dec. 13. The Friendswood Chamber will host a Trim-a-Tree Open House at the chamber offices, 1100 S. Friendswood Drive, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13.
Festival of Lights. Brighten up your holidays at the annual Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens, now through Jan. 6. Admission: $15.95.
At the Grand Dec. 4. Singer Lyle Lovett will appear at The 1894 Grand Opera House Monday, Dec. 4. For tickets and information, call 409.744.7848.
Christmas Boat Parade Dec. 8. Enjoy the 57th Annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade as hundreds of gaily decorated boats sail pass the Kemah Boardwalk starting at 6 p.m.
Boat Parade Dec. 8. The 57th annual Christmas Boat Parade will set sail across Clear Lake Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. and transverse the Clear Creek Channel into Galveston Bay.
Chamber party Dec. 18. League City Regional Chamber members will gather Tuesday, Dec. 18 for their annual Christmas party from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the chamber office.
Pops concert Dec. 1. The Clear Lake Symphony will present its annual Christmas Pops Concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 in the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church Auditorium, 18220 Upper Bay Road. Tickets may be purchased at the concert. Advance tickets, which are $13 adult, $10 senior (55 and up) and $8 student, may be purchased in Clear Lake at Eye Trends, 515 Bay Area Blvd, Suite 300.
Life Without Pain, Dec. 5. If you are considering joint replacement surgery, attend a free information session and hear from the joint replacement team at Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital. This free event is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the hospital, 18300 Houston Methodist Drive. Register at houstonmethodist.org/events or call 281.333.8899.
Holiday in the Park Dec. 8. Nassau Bay families will gather from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 for Holiday in the Park in Howard Ward Park, 18300 Upper Bay Road. Meet Santa, play in the snow, ride a tube down the snow slide, sing carols and much more.
Pet Blessings, Adoptions Dec. 8. Bring your pets for a special blessing and holiday gift on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 9 a.m. – noon, at Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital, 18300 Houston Methodist Drive. Local animal shelters will have homeless pets available for adoption.
Holiday Parade Dec. 1. The annual Pasadena Holiday Lighted Parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 1 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 on Fairmont Parkway from Pansy to Watters and back to Pansy.
Christmas Parade Dec. 1. The 37th annual Hometown Christmas Parade will take place Saturday, Dec. 1, starting at 6 p.m. traveling east on Broadway (FM 518), beginning at Old Alvin Road and ending at Pearland Parkway.
Chamber Open House Dec. 12. The Pearland Chamber will host its Christmas Open House Wednesday, Dec. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Commerce Center, 6117 Broadway. For information, call Cheryl Kepp, 281-485-3634.
Breakfast with Santa Dec. 1. Breakfast with Santa will be held Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Seabrook Community House, 1210 Anders St., from 9 to 11 a.m. This yearly, free community event is a Seabrook favorite, serving hot pancakes and little smoky sausages to children, plus they can get their picture taken with Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas!
Festival of Trees Dec. 6. The 25th annual Interfaith Caring Ministries Festival of Trees Gala will be Thursday, Dec. 6, at Lakewood Yacht Club. For reservations or to become a sponsor, purchase or decorate a tree or wreath, call 281-332-3881.
Guild Party Dec. 6.Bay Area Museum Guild members and their spouses will gather at the museum for their annual Christmas Party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Holiday Luncheon Dec. 7. Lakewood Ladies Association members will hold their Christmas luncheon at the yacht club Friday, Dec. 7.
Christmas Ball Dec. 7. The Bay Area Welcome Neighbors Club will hold its Christmas Ball Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Lakewood Yacht Club with music by Pee Wee Bowen Band. Tickets are $70 each and may be reserved by contacting donna.baumer@comcast.net
Tree Lighting Dec. 7. The Seabrook community is invited to an evening of holiday cheer, music and fun at the lighting of the Seabrook Christmas Tree on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. on Main Street at Mohrhusen Park.
HSLBA Party Dec. 12.Houston Symphony League Bay Area members will hold their annual Holiday Party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at Bay Area Museum.

EliteCare 24/7 ER – League City • Real Doctors • Real ER • Real Fast

December 1st, 2018

Doctors Nguyen Luu, James Vincent and Jason Gukhool

By James Vincent, MD, FACEP, FAAP
Medical Director, EliteCare 24HrER League City

I love a good origins story! (I’m trudging through the Alexander Hamilton book by Ron Chernow, and to my Marvel-loving children’s chagrin, I enjoyed the DC movie “Man of Steel”.) It seems like every ER nowadays – hospital-based or free-standing – claims to have fast service and great care; your insurance is probably advising you to avoid the ER; and what’s the difference between urgent-care and free-standing ER anyway? I hope to shed some light on the state of ER care in the area and will highlight some features of EliteCare’s origins along the way.

The short version is that EliteCare really does have great doctors – our doctors are or have been medical directors of large hospital ERs; one of our docs is board-certified in emergency and internal medicine with ultrasound fellowship; and I trained two extra years at Texas Children’s for pediatric emergency medicine certification. Like a hospital-based ER, we can treat any emergency, from a stroke using tPA to abdominal pain requiring ultrasound or CT imaging to setting broken bones using nitrous oxide or ketamine to infants with respiratory distress or fever. (This is probably the major difference between ER and urgent care, our ability to handle all conditions.) Since our only providers are physicians, you’ll never see a nurse practitioner or PA. We also don’t play games with your “arrival-to-provider-greet” time, so you’ll never be sent to a “results-wait” or “internal-hold” area like you would at a hospital ER. At EliteCare, you’ll arrive, fill out very basic paperwork, then go to a room to be seen by the nurse and doctor, usually within 10 minutes, to then immediately begin evaluation and treatment. Finally, we’ve figured out how to bill your insurance and use a patient advocate to minimize out-of-pocket expenses in order to make sure that your insurance pays for the majority of your visit. Now for our origins story, read on…

EliteCare’s Administrative and Marketing Department.

About 10 years ago, the idea for EliteCare was born. Our ER group was a physician-led group in Houston with about 100 ER doctors, and we staffed the ER’s at all of the HCA hospitals in Houston, (including Clear Lake Regional Medical Center). Delivery of care in a hospital ER was getting frustrating. We had all trained in emergency medicine at intense hospitals across the country from Detroit to UT Houston/Hermann. We began to feel, however, that caring for patients was becoming less important than meeting hospital and federal quality measures. The leaders of our ER group began to think, “What if we built our own ER? How would it look? How would we deliver care?” Texas was one of the few states that could even support a physician-created business. Thankfully, our leaders obtained approval from legislators and licensing bodies and proceeded to create the ideal ER. The “free-standing ER” was born, and EliteCare was one of the first. How would this “ideal” ER look?

EliteCare’s Front Desk Registrars.

Well, first of all, it would be nice, comfortable. Our leaders designed a beautiful waiting room, with the comfortable accommodations you might find at Pottery Barn, including vaulted ceilings, a coffee station, and a nice big television. (This was ground-breaking, since most hospital ER waiting rooms in 2008 were drab and dingy with old vinyl chairs.) Treatment rooms then would be functional, close to nursing and lab stations, but cozy and non-intimidating. Physician designers placed a central nurse’s station, encircled by the treatment rooms, but with warm wood-floor paneling. (This also was a paradigm-shift for the time.) And now ten years later? We then crafted our own formulary and medical record system, with the only requisite being ease of use and efficiency. Therefore, while ER doctors at a large hospital might be charting with Meditech or Epic, which can be time-consuming, EliteCare still has the fastest electronic medical record, giving us more time at the bedside to talk with you about your plan of care.

We would also want the best doctors. Our ER group had more than 100 ER doctors, and we had all already joined because we believed in the vision of a physician-led group. EliteCare then would only let the best of these docs, those with the greatest connections and greatest training and influence, to work at our elite facility. This unique selection pressure led to our very best docs with the most robust training and experience to staff EliteCare. Since we had all been in the Clear Lake area for many years, we already had the best connections for specialty and follow-up care.

(On my own cell-phone, I am able to immediately reach out to plastic and orthopedic surgeons, as well as GI, cardiology, neurology, and pediatric neurology specialists.) We were also able to work with local hospital administrators to make transfer to any hospital smooth and easy, to the hospital of the patient’s choice, keeping us unaffiliated.

We’d also build at the best location. After some research, our founders decided on the corner or 646 and I-45 to build our dream facility. (We consider it a great compliment and endorsement that 10 years later other large hospital groups have also invested in our “League City Medical Village” by building facilities nearby.) EliteCare League City was the first though, the founding provider of health-care in this area.

Like any good romantic comedy or Hallmark movie we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve learned a lot about insurance companies and how to help folks with their bill. We recently underwent management changes, which has helped us in many ways, including having a well-reviewed presence on Facebook and Yelp and even sprucing up our façade with new lighting. We also just finished our refurb’ with new paint and furniture.

What is the end result? EliteCare is a local League City business, but with world-class expertise. We have drawn the best doctors, nurses, radiology technicians, and front-desk and support staff to our vision of providing the best ER care possible. We’ll spend time with you, take care of every possible emergency, and minimize the time needed for charting and regulatory hassles. We even have newly-renovated observation rooms if you need intensive overnight treatment, and we have connections with a full array of specialists who can see you same or next day for complicated conditions, all of which can keep you out of the hospital. If your condition does require hospitalization, we also have connections with every local hospital and can transfer you quickly to your hospital of choice. And then when the bill comes, we have a patient advocate ready to help fight the insurance company on your behalf.

In conclusion, EliteCare is ready 24/7 for all of your all of your emergency needs. If you have any questions, from benefit coverage to health advice, call us at 281-337-7500. Our doctor or nurse will be standing by to offer personalized advice. Schedule your tour today! elite24er.com

The Affordable Care Act treats emergency health care as an essential health care benefit and it requires insurers to do the same – that means insurance companies must provide coverage for any emergency visit as if it were an in-network visit.

Clear Lake Chatter

December 1st, 2018

Clear Lake Panhellenic Fall Fashion Show Chairman Greta Mee, right, can hardly wait for the production to begin as she goes over the program with Laurie Vaughn, who headed the Finance Committee.

Panhellenic takes guests ‘Around the World’

CLEAR LAKE Panhellenic took the community on a trip “Around the World in 80 Days” at its 33rd annual Fall Fashion Show Luncheon Nov. 2 at South Shore Harbour Resort with Chairman Greta Mee and Co-Chairman Jill Stephenson leading the way.

Panhellenic President D’Lisa Johnston joined Vice Presidents Sheryl Williams and Kathryn Vernau, Secretary Darla McKitrick and Treasurer Kim Barker in welcoming the crowd, which quickly filled up the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom as several Panhellenic husbands filled the role of champagne stewards – Dan Reason, Jim Overman, Frank Prochaska, Joe Mee, Robert Barfield and Richard Beecher.

All were anxiously waiting to see the style show put on by fashion guru Lenny Matuszewski, and he didn’t disappoint as Panhellenic members Annette Dwyer, Beth McDaniel, Jennifer Prochaska, Jenny Frantz, Courtney Myers, Sandy Records, Hillary Gramm, Marcy Ortega, Rhonda Salinsky, Becky Hensley, Diane Overman, Wendy Shaw, Janet Jones, Carrie Peters, Kathryn Vernau, Michelle Lillie, Stacy Lyon, Cindy Priebe, Mackenzie Walker and Judge Holly Williamson modeled fall and winter fashions from Dillard’s at Baybrook Mall.

Dana Brown, left, and Sally Jordan help sign the crowd in for the Clear Lake Panhellenic Fall Fashion Show.

Afterwards, guests bid on a number of trips – to Paris, France; San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; Zulu Nyala, South Africa; Napa Valley, Calif.; and Bali, Indonesia.

Others who played key roles in the annual production included Janet Jones, Kim Barker, Karen Douglas, Rachel Stephenson, Laurie Vaughn, Diane Overman, Elizabeth McCarty, Kelsey Richardson, Lisa O’Brien, Sue Broughton, Barbara Dickey, Sheryl Williams and Becky Hensley.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Crawford-Zbanek Scholarship Foundation, which awards college scholarships to area women and sends local girls to Girl’s State.


The honorees get together for a group photo as the annual gala gets under way. They are, from left, front row, Anita Lewis, Becky Day, League City Mayor Pat Hallisey, Crystal Starke, Dee Scott; back row, Christian Bionat, Bob Mitchell, Michael Kramm, Lynn B. Watkins and Greg Ploss.

CCEF Gala honors 10, raises $75,000

A CROWD of more than 350 helped honor the award winners at the 18th annual Clear Creek Education Foundation gala, “A White Haute Affair,” which raised $75,000 for innovative programs for students in the Clear Creek School District.

League City Mayor Pat Hallisey was named Citizen of the Year, an award voted on by the CCISD trustees and the CCEF, and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell was the recipient of the George B. Carlisle Distinguished Service Award – both honored for their consistent commitment to the school district.

Other honorees included:

The Distinguished Alumni Award — presented to individuals who are CCISD alumni and are now accomplished professionals who support their community — went to Christian Bionat (Clear Lake High ’09) and Lynn B. Watkins (Clear Creek High ’66).

The Valor Award, which honors a public servant (military, police, fire, etc.) who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, was presented to Michael Kramm.

The CCISD Superstar Award, bestowed on a select group of individuals who support and enhance CCISD whether alumni or not, went to Becky Day, Dee Scott, CCISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Anita L. Lewis and CCISD Elementary Teacher of the Year Crystal Starke.

Greg Ploss, Chemical Process and Production official, was the recipient of the Dennis Johnson Memorial Small Business Award, presented to a small business owner within CCISD who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the district through active participation in multiple activities:

Volunteers who worked on the CCEF fundraiser were CCEF Community Marketing and Events Manager Kelsey Richardson; Co-Chairmen Cameron Cannon and Jana Miller; and committee members Joyce Abbey, Kim Barker, Katy Bastedo, Janet Brown, Suzanne Fair, Kimberly Fleming, Ann Hammond, Lisa Holbrook, Laura Mackay, Joan McKinney, Sarah Moutz, Jill Reason, Elaine Renola, Deena Rigby, Mary Ann Shallberg, Teresa Vencil, Rhonda Quillin and Elizabeth Wiehle Wang.

All funds raised from the gala go toward inspiring educational excellence in CCISD through CCEF’s programs: Educational grants for both teachers and students, Clear Horizon Early College High School and National Board Teacher Certifications.

2019 Ram 1500 Awarded Truck of Texas Title

December 1st, 2018

By Don Armstrong

Each October, dozens of automotive journalists from across the U.S. gather in the hills of central Texas to determine the best trucks and SUVs the industry has to offer. After two soggy days of evaluation, the prestigious 2019 Truck of Texas award was presented to FCA, builder of the all-new Ram 1500.

It is a sexy new grille that separates the Ram from all the rest, and this “new look” really sets the bar to an all new height. New badging ads to the hood décor just above the front wheel openings, while just the right amount of chrome lends to the overall appeal.

The trim level you choose will help determine the amount of bling that adorns your big rig, but we’ll use the highly popular Longhorn trim for this review.

Open the door and you’ll see one of the best interiors in the world. Ram’s dash design is modern and well thought-out with functionality you’d expect. An optional 12-inch infotainment display is breath-taking. The updated, fourth generation Uconnect system now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Coupled with the rotary transmission control, and various other options, including 4-wheel drive, it won’t take long to learn where the controls are located. Did we mention dual glove boxes?

Our tester had cloth seat inserts. Now before you turn your nose up at the thought, think about the Bay Area’s extended summer season with blistering hot leather. The Ram interior design team selected fabric material that crosses the boundary between a night at the concert and weekday work duties.

The half-ton Ram can be equipped with the new eTorque system, a mild hybrid option that helps performance and fuel mileage. We got almost 20-MPG from the V-8 Hemi.
Ride quality is also a best in this half-ton category because of its coil suspension. If you want an even more car-like experience, air-ride is another option.

Towing and hauling capabilities have been increased on this new design too, utilizing lighter weight, higher strength steel and composites, reducing weight.

In a market where more trucks and SUVs are being sold than ever before, December is the perfect time to add one more item to your shopping list. Imagine a Christmas gift like this.

MSRP on our 2019 Ram Lone Star Crew Cab 4X4, with a few options, is $53,835.

Where do we sign?

Apollo legends see Historic Mission Control unveiled

December 1st, 2018

It was an historic sight – living legends who worked on the Apollo program reunited for a major milestone — the unveiling of restored Historic Mission Control consoles used to send humans to the Moon. The newly restored units arrived in a return flight to Ellington Airport by way of NASA’s Super Guppy.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center and NASA’s Johnson Space Center are leading the restoration of Historic Mission Control and this marked a major milestone in the ongoing campaign to restore a National Historic Landmark before Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary.

Designed to carry oversized cargo, the Super Guppy airlifted the consoles from the Cosmosphere, a space museum in Hutchinson, Kan. Luminaries of the Apollo program — Will Davidson, Ed Fendell, Robert Grilli, Milt Heflin, Denny Holt, James Kelly, Thomas Loe, Glynn Lunney, Merlin Merritt, Bill Moon, Bill Reeves, and Milt Windler – saw the restored consoles for the first time under a hangar at Ellington Airport.

Joining them were JSC Director Mark Geyer, Space Center Houston CEO William T. Harris, plus JSC Apollo Mission Control Restoration Project Manager Jim Thornton and Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly.

“We want to keep the legacy of the Apollo-era alive and preserve Historic Mission Control,” said Harris. “Thanks to the combined efforts of so many people, future generations can experience this iconic room exactly as it was when Neil Armstrong made his historic first steps on the Moon.”

Time had taken a toll on the Mission Operations Control Room, used during the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle eras, and it was in acute need of restoration. Furnishings such as carpeting, tile, paperwork, coffee cups and ashtrays in the room are being collected and restored to recreate the appearance of an active Apollo era Mission Control room — how the area looked the moment the first Moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985, the control room celebrates human space exploration and inspires people from around the world who visit. Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston and the City of Webster are working together to restore the room that made what seemed an inconceivable dream become a reality. Webster, a longtime supporter of Space Center Houston, gave a $3.5 million lead gift toward the $5 million restoration byThe Cosmosphere, which is restoring nearly two dozen consoles.

The restored Mission Control Room will be unveiled to the world in time for the Apollo 11 mission’s 50th anniversary and the City of Houston will host a month-long celebration, including a ribbon-cutting for the restored Mission Control room.

“On a Mission” campaign. Space Center Houston then led a 30-day funding campaign drawing more than 4,000 pledges from 15 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. The city of Webster matched the crowdfunding campaign gifts dollar-for-dollar up to $400,000 as a component of the lead gift. Current proceeds stand at approximately $4.5 million leaving $500,000 remaining to meet the $5 million On a Mission campaign goal.

Rice U group finds fault with Ike Dike proposal

December 1st, 2018

By Mary Alys Cherry

Ten years after the storm surge from Hurricane Ike devastated the Galveston Bay area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans Oct. 26 for what is considered a more ambitious version of the proposed Coastal Spine or Ike Dike, as the project to protect the region.

The Corps proposes building a 70-mile-long coastal barrier to protect the Texas coastline from future storm surge, at a cost of somewhere between $23 and $31 billion – considerably higher than the original projection, which was for a smaller project.

Four days later on Oct. 31 Moody’s Investors Service gave its stamp of approval, noting that the proposed system would protect a region that contributes 24 percent of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is home to the largest manufacturing center in the United States along the Houston Ship Channel and to one fourth of Texas’ population.
Now the federal agency’s plan has come under attack.

Just as most of the area population was glad that at long last, something was going to be done to protect us came headlines that the folks over at Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evaluation from Disasters Center were questioning the Corps of Engineers’ proposal, charging that the Corps’ information was out of date.

This did not sit well with Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, who worked for several years with UTMB Galveston Prof. Bill Merrell, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and others trying to get the coastal spine project approved and financed.

“I think it is very unfortunate,” Mitchell said, “that Rice SSPEED Center has elected to attack the work that the Corps of Engineers has done in support of the ‘coastal spine’ and its ‘tentatively selected plan.’ There is a process that we go through in the form of hearings and written testimony that allows organizations and individuals to ask for clarification or to present ideas and changes they may think are important. “Rice SSPEED Center, in my opinion, should follow the process like the rest of us and try to be part of the team and not adversarial. This is not the time to see who can yell the loudest but a time to work together.”

Instead of being glad to finally see the federal agency come up with a plan to protect the area, SSPEED officials questioned the proposal, just as they had done after UTMB Galveston Prof. Bill Merrell proposed building the Ike Dike in 2009. Back then, instead of protecting homes and businesses in Galveston and the Bay Area communities with an Ike Dike to stop storm surge, the Rice SSPEED Center felt it was more important to protect industry along the Houston Ship Channel than those homes, schools and businesses in the Galveston Bay area. Finally, when they found everyone else favored the Ike Dike/Coastal Spine concept, SSPEED officials dropped their proposal.

But once the Corps of Engineers released its proposal, SSPEED officials found fault with the study. They said the proposal was incomplete as it did not account for the recent stronger storms and that the Corps information was out of date – assertions that were quickly disputed by the Corps. In addition to the Ike Dike, the Rice group proposes building a midbay seagate to protect the Houston Ship Channel and Harris County from storm surge. Their suggestion is much the same as their earlier proposal. And, just as before, they want to protect industry; and they don’t appear to care what happens to Kemah, Seabrook, Nassau Bay, Dickinson, El Lago, Taylor Lake Village, Clear Lake City, Friendswood, Santa Fe, Alvin, Pearland, Texas City, La Marque, League City, Webster and Galveston.

The Houston Chronicle also was upset with their actions, pointing out in an editorial that protecting the coastal region from the devastation suffered during Ike and Harvey “is far too important to let a fight over the path forward leach away the project’s necessary momentum before it ever has a chance,”

“It’s worth cheering that we’ve arrived at wide support for the coastal spine project, a system of floating gates intended to ward off storm surge….When was the last time officials from Houston, Harris County, the coastal region and the State of Texas have all been on the same page about spending (billions) in mostly federal dollars to help this region? How about never?”

“Critics and supporters of the Ike Dike should take care to help steer but not divert the ship that is finally on course to becoming reality,” the Chronicle added.

We agree. We’ve waited far too long for some action, and the Army Corps of Engineers has worked more hours than they can probably count to get this far. The SSPEED officials should submit their thoughts at one of the public hearings just like everyone else, instead of trying to make headlines and disrupt the process.

A series of six public meetings have been scheduled in November and December by the Corps for public comment on the proposal with the first held Nov. 27 in Port Lavaca. Others are planned in Seabrook, Corpus Christi, Port Isabel, Winnie and Galveston.

The Seabrook meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the Bay Area Community Center in Clear Lake Park from 5:30 p.m. to 9. The Galveston meeting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 12 in the Galveston Island Convention Center, 5600 Seawall Blvd., also from 5:30 p.m. to 9. For a complete list or information on how to submit public comment, visit the Army Corps of Engineers website, http://coastalstudy.texas.gov/get-involved/index.html

A final study is to be released in 2021 before sending it to Congress for funding.

Is it flu or something more serious?

December 1st, 2018

Ronny Carrera, 49, thought he was experiencing symptoms of the flu when he began feeling ill one evening while at home.

“I expressed concern to my wife and she was just as concerned, if not more so and really pushed and encouraged me to consider going to the doctor,” said Carrera. When he began experiencing extreme tingling in his legs and started having difficulty moving, Carrera and his wife quickly went to the emergency center at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital.
Doctors assessed Carrera and he was admitted into the hospital with a diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its nerves causing weakness and tingling in arms and legs. The fast-moving syndrome can quickly spread and cause paralysis and in Carrera’s case, require hospitalization. Additional symptoms include unsteady walking, difficulty speaking, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing and difficulty with facial and eye movements.

“When doctors informed me of my diagnosis, I was scared but I wanted to know what I needed to do to get better and get better fast,” said Carrera. “I wanted to get back to my family, my wife and children and I wanted to get back to doing activities such as fishing.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome isn’t known but the syndrome is often associated with a viral-like illness prior to onset.

“It was a scary time for me because I went from being able to do so much to being limited and unable to walk on my own,” said Carrera. “I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen but my doctors said I would get better and I believed them.”

Carrera’s upper and lower extremity weakness were similar to the weakness experienced by a spinal cord injury patient. After spending a week in the Intensive Care Unit, he was admitted to the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Memorial Hermann Southeast, affiliated with TIRR Memorial Hermann, to start intense rehabilitation and therapy treatment to improve his motion, strength and functional independence.

“For Mr. Carrera, it was great that he sought out immediate treatment for the symptoms he was feeling because there is a critical time period when we must start treatment to stop the body’s breakdown of the nervous system,” said Dr. William Brendel Jr., medical director at Memorial Hermann Southeast Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit and a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist with Memorial Hermann Medical Group.

“Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this syndrome, we can treat the symptoms with intense rehabilitation focusing on improving strength in the lower extremities through gait training and exercise.”

During his stay, therapists worked with Carrera on his strength, range of motion, functional mobility and activities of daily living.

During his month-long stay in inpatient rehabilitation, Carrera made tremendous improvements, going from using a wheelchair to standing and walking with minimal assistance.

“When I was in the hospital, it was hard to see the future and how I would be, but every one of my therapists and Dr. Brendel believed I would get better and I did,” Carrera said.

“I’m very thankful to be back home with my family, going back to work and getting back to doing the things I enjoy to do.”

To learn more about Guillain-Barre and how it’s treated visit http://tirr.memorialhermann.org/programs-specialties/guillain-barre/

Healthcare Nation

December 1st, 2018

By Sumer Dene

Change is constant, and culture is changing. A society’s principles and policies represent a nation’s way of life. We all have freedom of choice, the natural rights inherent to all. According to the United Nations, Human rights include the right to life, freedom, liberty, work, education and even to enjoy the arts. However, in our Democracy, do we have the right to truth and transparency in public and private institution? What is the price placed on quality of life and well-being?

A ‘conscious corporation’ succeeds by recognizing a need in society and satisfying that need in the most effective, responsible way. Consumer expectations evolve as we empower each other and find true purpose for the greater good. In the media age, there is no gap between corporation and consumer and no limit to how far we can go together. There is no room left for egos and agendas as we face fundamental issues across the nation, within industries and throughout humanity. Difficulties stem from misunderstanding of ourselves and others, misleading claims in media and advertisements, and insufficient research sponsored by parties of interest. We are inundated with information as we search for innovative ways to discover life-changing medicine, communicate shared value systems, and allocate resources efficiently. If people are confused and distracted, it’s far more difficult to think critically and make imperative, conscientious decisions. Marketing is everything. How something is presented to you determines what you see.

A study from BBC indicates pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing drugs, in some cases twice as much, than they do on developing them. BBC concludes profit margins are often much larger than money spent on research. Furthermore, companies have been faced with multi-billion dollar fines for malpractice and misbranding unsafe drugs. According to Reuters, an international news agency, “U.S. prices for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines are, on average, three times higher than in Britain.” In America, prescription costs are based on economic incentive and marketable value. Although, by being innovators and leader in research and technology, we help subsidize the rest of the world’s drug costs. The FDA works closely with pharmaceutical companies to determine which drugs can be marketed to the public. In recent years, FDA regulations are not as rigorously regulated. Competition and variety in a free market, in theory, would help lower prices of medication and encourage Americans to be more involved with their health. However, Consumers pay for brand names, not the effectiveness of drugs and the strained relationship between patients and healthcare providers lead to an overmedicated, mismanaged system.

America spends the most per capita and GDP on healthcare, yet has less than average life expectancy rates and higher rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality. The U.S. Government mandates outdated dietary guidelines that advise a low-fat diet, which is linked to poor mental health, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and higher risks of insulin resistance and diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration allows companies to market processed, chemically engineered food that is highly addictive and unhealthy, not to mention cheap to produce. A recent study at the 2018 Experimental Biology conference examined the biochemical effects of artificial sweeteners on the body.

Data suggests artificial sweeteners alter how the body ‘processes fat and obtains energy.’ Top researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest agree, “Artificial colors pose risks of cancer, allergies and hyperactivity in children and should be banned.” Factory-farmed animals are cramped in small cages and injected with artificial hormones and antibiotics. If one animal becomes sick, they all are treated with antibiotics in order to reduce need for individual care. However, unnecessary use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant organisms that propagate in dangerous numbers and enter the food supply. In the US National Library of Medicine, researchers conclude Antibiotic resistance is an emerging public health crisis and the effect on human health is yet to be determined. Experts agree, “Given divergent stakeholder interests and inadequate research to date, public policy discussions of this issue are often contentious and highly polarized.”

A change of perspective begins with grassroots effort. The goal is to spread knowledge and build a connection that links individuals, international policy and industry to global needs. Consumers want dedicated research, consistency and transparency in public and private industry as well as honest, sustainable product development. After all, people are far more important than profit, and we’re all people looking to make a difference while making a living.

Academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and industry lead the way to a future of preventative medicine, technological development, educational programs, and breakthroughs in research. Organizations can change culture through collaboration and honest communication. They can create a value system that measures value and outcome on a large-scale by setting a criteria and specific goals. Professionals from many backgrounds could develop teams to measure progress and cost-effectiveness, working together is simple when you speak a universal language.

For the holiday season, I encourage you to continue to be active in festive activities and involved with your health. Communicate with friends and family and do your own research to improve health and wellness. Eat good food but be mindful of what you’re consuming. Most of all, be grateful and give thanks for all of the blessings in your life. Let happiness, love and spirit follow us into the new year.

Masa Sushi Stands Strong for 13 Years

December 1st, 2018

By Xander Thomas

Within the last couple of years, sushi has grown immensely in popularity, it’s gone from having to make a drive out of your way for it, to being able to head down to your local grocery store if you just can’t live without it for the moment. Masa Sushi is considered a front runner in the market for the area.

“Sushi restaurants and Japanese restaurants in general didn’t have a large presence in the area in 2005 when this was opened” said Jason Ames, Masa Sushi general manager “Masa Sushi has stood the test of time, and we’re still the premiere restaurant in SE Houston area”

Owner Michael Zhou opened the first restaurant on El Dorado Blvd. in October 2005, and they just celebrated their 13-year anniversary on Thursday the 18th. So, what makes people choose Masa when there are more and more restaurants to grab the same grub popping up around town?

“As far as ambiance, décor, staff, portion sizes, pricing, originality of our menu, I think that takes the cake as far as our competition is concerned in the area”

There are three locations currently; the original store located in Webster, the second one is on 646 in Dickinson, and the one most recently opened is in the middle of Friendswood. Each restaurant has a unique floorplan and different luxuries to offer the guests.

“Masa 2, for example, the Dickinson location, has a loft, with couches and a lounge upstairs” Jason said, “the third location in Friendswood has a private sushi bar that customers can purchase so to speak, and Michael, the owner of the establishment, of all the restaurants, will actually prepare a meal for them.”

While the nice layout and these unique offerings are nice, the food is really what keeps anyone coming back into any eatery. Jason immediately came up with a list of dishes that would be a good start for anyone who has never eaten at any of the restaurants.

“Costa Rica beef, Costa Rica black pepper tuna, black pepper tuna sashimi, combination Costa Rica,” he said.

He says that when available, the menu features fish specials including blue fin tuna and the fatty belly of the same fish, called toro, and sometimes uni (sea urchin). He says the best part is where they get their blue fin from.

“The owner has a cousin that owns a fishing outfit in Hawaii and on occasion we will get fresh blue fin which is caught in Hawaii and packed with dry ice and expressed shipped to us” Jason said “Which puts us a leg up on other competition in the area given that we have that source.”

There are many places to get your sushi fix around the Clear Lake area, and more popping up every day, but there is a reason Masa has lasted 13 years in the same spot, and has since grown to have three locations, each of which brings people in the door. Jason says that Michael really has it figured out, where the market is concerned.

“We’ve stood the test of time,” he said “we’re still doing well, still making money, still get good crowds, still get good customers and happy employees.”