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Technology and Morality

December 31st, 2019

Photo by Michael Gos

By Michael W. Gos

Canyon Lake Dam, Texas

One drive that every Texan should experience is going north out of Gruene along River Road. It is a narrow strip of pavement in the trees and in most sections, it runs right up next to the Guadalupe River. In fact, as you move north, you cross the river several times. About 16 miles above Hueco Falls and what is called the “First Crossing” (the crossings are numbered from north to south), you come out of the valley and then everything opens up. At the top of the hill, there is a large dam. Behind it—Canyon Lake.

I know Canyon Lake is loved by most Texans, but I can’t help thinking that anyone coming up the River Road after such a beautiful drive can only find it an eyesore. And the dam itself…well, that is even uglier. After that drive along the river, the sight of the lake is way beyond disappointing.

But then, I tend to have a problem with dams in general. I understand that without them, Texas would have very few lakes. But for every dam we see, a part of a river is lost. John Graves wrote a masterpiece about this loss in Goodbye to a River, a story about a long canoe journey down what used to be the Brazos River in the final days before it was wiped out by a series of flood control dams.

Some would argue that dams are as good as, and maybe even superior to, open rivers for a number of reasons, many of them valid. They do indeed create lakes. Lakes are playgrounds for people in multiple ways: fishing, power boating, swimming. . . . We usually see them as fun. I get that; I grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and spent thousands of hours at the beach. But power boats are noisy and smell bad. Artificial beaches usually have less than ideal sand and tend to be small. And is the fishing really any better than it was in the river that was sacrificed? Driving the River Road and seeing all the people on tubes and the fishermen on the banks and in canoes, I have to think, if you can’t have fun on the river, you’re just not doing it right.

Of course, proponents claim there are other benefits to dams. In the western United States, the lakes they create serve as reservoirs that provide water for cities. But is that really a good idea? Most of the evils in America today are centered in the cities. Call me a whack job, but anything that lets them survive, let alone grow, is problematic.

Finally, there is the flood control issue. That’s a big one here in Texas. Yes, the new lakes hold lots of water, but in really heavy rain events, the lakes fill up. The powers that be are then forced to let some of the water out . . . quickly. Open the gates after heavy rains to protect the dams and you get Houston after hurricane Harvey.

But we’re not really talking about dams here at all. In reality, we are looking at the issue of acting before considering all the ramifications of our actions. Politicians specialize in this kind of behavior which results in what we today call “the law of unintended consequences.” We act before we think. And then we pay the price.

This can be scary. Consider for a moment the topic of genetic modification. Yes, by playing with genes, we can create better plants. We know that much. But what are the effects of eating “altered food?” We are guessing, and hoping, that there are no negative consequences. But only time will tell.

And then there is the issue of designer babies. Today we have the technology to choose such traits as sex, eye and hair color. Thankfully, we don’t do that much . . . yet. But what will we “select for” next? Athletic ability? Intelligence? Social skills?

Do we eliminate all genetic disorders? That would increase our lifespans. A good thing, right? Will the longer lifespan cause an even greater population explosion? Will those genetic alterations introduce new issues, new diseases? Are we creating super-humans? Is that okay?

Technology is power; that is undeniable. Our power over nature tempts us to make decisions and take actions without thinking through, or maybe even having the ability to know and fully understand, the consequences of those acts. We do it because we can.

As early as 1954, Martin Heidegger warned us of another problem that technology posed. He claimed it carries a serious, potential danger in that it exerts control over us through its mediating effects. That is, the technology controls what we can and can’t do. Look at the invention of the pocket calculator, for example. One unforeseen effect is that today, many students lack a mastery of the simple math “facts,” such as times tables. They can’t do long division, fractions or decimals. Take away the calculator and they are helpless. Even more obvious, the invention of digital clocks has left us with a generation of students, many of whom cannot tell time on a traditional analog timepiece. Does that surprise you? If so, you haven’t been around a lot of young people lately.

Heidegger says that as a result, technology can limit authenticity of our experience in, and of, the world—the experience that defines life and gives it meaning. The most prominent example of this is, of course, the cell phone.

On the surface, the cell phone (and other social media) appear to be bringing us together—making us more connected to friends and family. We can talk or text from anywhere, at any time. But as Heidegger predicted, the device has exerted a control over our lives and governs how we interact with people. In essence, it is separating us. Look around any restaurant. People are not talking to each other as family and friends but rather have their noses buried in their phones. We are the most disconnected society ever.

One of the most important decisions we as a society will have to make in the near future is about cloning. Dolly, the first cloned sheep, was created in 1996. Just last month we heard of the first pig-monkey created in China. How long before we can do this kind of thing with humans? Will there be unintended consequences? We know about the problem of replicative fading (the degeneration of DNA that accompanies repetitive cloning). What other surprises await us?

Certainly, we need to be concerned about the problems we create when we make and use technology without thinking through the consequences. But I think there is still a more serious aspect we need to consider; that is the issue of morality. The question we need to be asking ourselves regarding technological advances is, “should we?” Is it the “right” thing to do?

When it comes to our use of the new technologies, we are like children. We get excited about the possibilities, overlook potential problems, but most of all, we don’t bother to ask if this is the moral thing to do.

Our power over nature has exceeded our ethical maturity. That is a dangerous place to be.

Precinct 2 to get $1 million grant to purchase air monitors

December 27th, 2019

Harris County and Precinct 2 will receive a $1 million grant from the American Chemistry Council Foundation (ACC) to purchase air quality monitors, more stringent data analysis and collaboration with industry partners, Commissioner Adrian Garcia has announced. This is the first time the ACC Foundation has developed and awarded a local government grant for a community air-monitoring network.

“This grant is a result of conversations that began in the wake of a series of industrial incidents in Precinct 2. We learned how potentially vulnerable our industry partners were and that more needed to be done to ensure their success and not their failure,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “Residents need access to reliable and timely air-quality data at all times, and especially during a chemical emergency.  Thanks to this collaboration, the County will be able to address data and communications gaps to ensure residents have the information they need to make decisions about what actions to take for their families’ wellbeing in the unfortunate event dangerous chemicals are released,” he continued.

The joint effort of members of the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA), Texas Chemistry Council (TCC), American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Harris County will enhance the availability, transparency and interpretation of air monitoring data. The grant will support the following initiatives:

  • The purchase of one stationary air monitor with gas chromatography capabilities. Estimated cost $350k.
  • Provide funds to support the ongoing engagement of the Houston Area Research Council to receive, analyze, interpret and communicate air-monitoring data in the event of significant safety events that could affect air quality. Estimated Cost: $200k
  • Provide funds to purchase handheld air monitors or other air monitoring equipment deemed appropriate to augment current and future County air monitoring capabilities at key locations around the Houston Ship Channel. Estimated Costs: $450k

“The chemical industry is deeply integrated into the communities and economies of Harris County. Our companies take their responsibility to be good neighbors very seriously,” President and CEO of ACC Chris Jahn said.

“Local industry reached out to Commissioner Garcia soon after several incidents in the first quarter of 2019 and shared with him our commitment to learn from the events. In 2020 and beyond we will be focused on encouraging strong safety performance throughout the chemical industry and among our commercial partners including those in the transportation, distribution and storage sectors. We look forward to collaborating with Harris County, Precinct 2 and the citizens of east Harris County,” Jahn added.

“Chemical manufacturers operating in Harris County have high standards of operational safety and environmental performance. Process Safety Management ideals and lessons learned have helped industry continuously improve safety performance over the past several decades,” EHCMA Board Chairman Gary Piana explained. “Through this grant, we are pledging to both Harris County and the citizens of east Harris County that we are committed to making further enhancements to our safety performance, communication and transparency.”

Piana also pointed out that industry is making private air monitoring data available to TCEQ and Harris County to ensure they have the data necessary to make informed decisions about public health and safety during industry events. The Houston Regional Monitoring network board approved providing monitoring data to Harris County during a recent board meeting. Industry members reinforced a commitment to work with Harris County and to develop a model that can be used in other jurisdictions in the region and across the nation.

“Industry values the partnership with Harris County, especially Commissioner Garcia in Precinct 2 where many of our industry facilities operate,” President of TCC Hector Rivero said. “Our members are committed to working with Harris County and the local cities, and developing a model that will enhance similar collaborative working relationships in the region and across the nation.”

In addition to the $1 million grant, the industry group is also proposing to provide Harris County with specific air monitor data that can help inform public health and safety decisions in the event of an incident. Additionally, industry will develop an “Industry 101” program that can help educate government officials and first responders about industry facilities and operations.

“This is a significant first step toward ensuring Harris County becomes a national model and leads the way in collaboration between industry, community organizations and government to promote a healthy and economically strong area. Together we can work to ensure our residents feel safe, engaged and educated about our industry neighbors,” Commissioner Garcia said.

Houston Methodist offers tips on how to make healthy holiday choices

December 16th, 2019

The holiday season is here, which means you’re probably already making plans to eat, drink and be merry. But, in a season that lasts for more than a month, it’s easy to go overboard.

Try these tips to make healthy choices this holiday season — without feeling like you’re missing out on the festivities.

Avoid the urge to overeat

The holidays tend to disrupt our routines, which can set us up for unhealthy eating habits. Dr. Donald D. Brown Jr., DO, primary care physician at Houston Methodist Primary Care Group in League City, recommends using these tips to keep your diet on track during the holidays.

  • Indulge, but don’t overindulge. Keep portions in check by limiting starches to a quarter of your plate and eating your protein and vegetables first since they can help you feel full longer. And, don’t forget to eat at a relaxed pace — so you have a better chance of stopping when you’re full.
  • Prioritize fellowship over food. Remember, conversation doesn’t have calories! Try to make the holidays a time to focus on family and friends, rather than just eating and drinking.
  • Get some rest. Getting enough sleep helps improve your impulse control with food choices and decreases cravings. Even though you may be busier, try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

The holiday season spans two months, so there’s plenty of time to slide off the exercise bandwagon — especially as your schedule fills up with holiday shopping and parties.

“Working out during the holidays can be challenging. However, it might not seem as daunting if you break it down to just 30 minutes a day and focus on making sure it’s effective,” says Kristin Salinas, athletic trainer at Houston Methodist.

Salinas says an effective workout is one where you spend time in your target heart rate zone, which is 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For instance, a 40-year-old’s target heart rate zone is 90 to 153 beats per minute.

“There are plenty of ways to fit in the types of moderate or vigorous activity that can elevate your heart rate,” explains Salinas. “Moderate activity can be anything from walking, swimming or cycling, while vigorous activity includes running or strength training.”

Don’t let your mental health shift to the back burner

Staying merry during throughout the holiday season isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

“There are many aspects of the holiday season that can add to people’s stress levels” says Brown. “Extra tasks and responsibilities, family conflict and comparison to past holidays are a few reasons people will feel overloaded or burdened.”

Keep your holidays as stress-free as possible by following this advice:

  • Be flexible. Expecting perfection during the holiday season is unrealistic — and can lead to unnecessary stress and disappointment. Make sure you give yourself some flexibility to deal with issues that might arise.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ If holiday festivities start to feel like obligations, don’t be afraid to decline invitations or requests for help. Also, it’s okay to change your ‘yes’ to a ‘no.’
  • Take care of yourself, too. It’s easy to put others’ needs above your own during the holidays. But be sure you’re also practicing self-care. Check in with yourself frequently and consider asking: Am I too stressed? If the answer is yes, make time to take a break and rest


About Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital

Houston Methodist Clear Lake brings the expertise and compassionate care of Houston Methodist Hospital in The Texas Medical Center to Clear Lake communities. The hospital provides a broad spectrum of adult medical and surgical care, is an accredited chest pain center, and is also a Primary Stroke Center designated through DNV. Houston Methodist Clear Lake offers many inpatient and outpatient services including a Breast Care Center with 3-D mammography, state-of-the-art imaging, labor and delivery with a level II neonatal ICU, Cancer Center, weight loss surgery and advanced laparoscopic surgery, comprehensive orthopedics and sports medicine, cardiovascular services, neurology, urology and otolaryngology. Visit to learn more and to find a doctor near you.

BB’s Tex-Orleans

December 1st, 2019

The Boil: Build your tray any way you like. Pile it with Dungeness Crab, Snow Crab, Gulf Blue Crab, Cold Shrimp, or Hot-N-Spicy Boiled Shrimp. Dip it with melted butter/ spicy creamy dippin’ sauce. Fill It with Mushrooms, Corn, Red Potato, Smoked Chicken and Apple Sausage, Smoked Garlic Sausage or Spicy Alligator Andouille Sausage.

The Best Cajun on the Bay

By Alisa Star

Come try authentic Southern Louisiana style cooking fused with a Texas twist. Creator and owner Brooks Bassler opened his 10th location of BB’s Tex-Orleans restaurant right here in Webster. Houston’s most popular Cajun restaurants are on the rise and becoming ever so popular among the public.

Bassler and his wife Maricela began their enterprise with a small, quaint restaurant located in the Montrose area, featuring a small menu serving gumbo and his famous overstuffed shrimp po-boys inspired by his grandmother’s (maw maw) cooking. Since then, they have stamped the footprint of BB’s Tex-Orleans all over the Houston area.

Bassler was born and raised in the small town of Rockdale, Texas, but most of his family is from Louisiana. His mother was born and raised in Morgan City, and all of her family still live there.

Brooks went to the University of Houston, where he waited tables at a high-end wine bar while attending the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, which is one of the top five best programs in the country.

After graduating, Bassler stayed in the restaurant business, which was his passion. While working at TwoRows Restaurant in Rice Village, the owner approached Bassler with the idea of helping jump start their catering program. While learning the ropes and sales, and several years of successfully doing catering for multiple companies, Bassler saw the writing on the wall and took that leap of faith. His passion in life is food and the Louisiana culture and that is captured in BB’s Tex-Orleans.

Most of the menu items are family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Bassler wanted to be as unique as possible while penetrating the Cajun food market. It all kept coming down to his mother’s Cajun Louisiana roots and loving the food, culture, and people of South Louisiana, but wanting to be different from others. Bassler put a Texan flare to his one-of-a-kind Cajun cuisine.

Rockdale Redfish: Jumbo blackened Gulf shrimp topped with a zesty Andouille cream sauce. This dish is superb! The spices and the cream sauce is beyond delish. You will never have Redfish like this anywhere!

BB’s Tex-Orleans is a family owned and operated local restaurant chain that specializes in Tex-Cajun cooking.

“We add a unique Texas twist to Cajun and New Orleans food. NOLA style po-boys, seafood gumbo, and hot and spicy crawfish are our specialities. BB’s is most proud of creating opportunity for fellow Tex-Orleanians (employees). Watching them grow personally, professionally, and financially are my proudest moments. I pride myself in the values I have and bring those values here. We are a big family!” Bassler said.

New Orleans style shrimp po-boy loaded with Gulf shrimp and BB’s Sauce, a chipotle-infused mayo. Paired perfectly with a South Texas Jazz Tex-Orleans Cocktail that will make you come back for more.

One of BB’s employees, Kaleb Jenkins, a Louisiana native, walked into the restaurant one day and loved it so much that he began working as a dishwasher and at catering events. Soon to become the commissary driver for all BB’s Tex-Orleans chains here in Houston. “Your dreams can never be too big.” Jenkins said.

“Our menu, culture and decor separates us from our competition. We have a diverse menu with bold Cajun flavors. All of the art is from Louisiana. One of the local artists, Lance Vargas, creates one-of-a-kind pieces that we carry in our BB’s restaurants. We are proud of the real Louisiana vibe throughout all of our chains,” Bassler said.

BB’s is most known for their famous po-boys, overstuffed with spicy gulf shrimp between a crisp bun straight from Leidenheimer bakery in New Orleans. Other delights include mouth-watering crawfish, tender roast beef debris, juicy oysters and fajitas.

If you have a little Cajun in your soul, and you’re looking for authentic Louisiana Cajun flavors, you have to try BB’s Tex-Orleans, located at 1039 W. Bay Area Blvd., Webster, TX 77598. BB’s is your all day and late night headquarters serving Cajun with a twist.

Elemental SUVs

December 1st, 2019

By Don Armstrong

SUVs now outsell cars and it’s no wonder, the versatility and size availability run the gamut. Could one of these make the perfect Christmas surprise? Pricing sure seems right.

2020 Soul GT-Line

Kia Soul
Kia has a new Soul, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t include the popular hamster commercials.

Larger and more refined, this 3rd generation Soul is all new from the ground up. Fitting for a tiny SUV that changed the way we look at small do-all’s.

The Soul’s new front facia could easily fit on a sports car, but Kia didn’t lose track of what made the hamster-mobile so popular; it’s boxy shape with a sloping roof. Taillights hug the rear hatch glass and make a 90-degree turn toward the license plate box.

The interior is attractive and comfortable with an easy-to-use infotainment system. Control functions are straight forward, and with the second row seats folded, you’d be surprised at the hauling capacity.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, 147 horsepower engine. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but we prefer the CVT automatic that accomplishes an average of 31.9 MPG.
Since the first Soul came to U.S. shores 10-years ago, we’ve always liked its sporty handling, and the 2020 model continues that fuzzy feeling. The all-new Kia Soul starts at $17,490.

VW Tiguan
Since its debut in 2007 the VW Tiguan has undergone only one makeover. That happened two years ago, and since then sales continue to grow. Size, options and VW dependability play a big part in its popularity but being in the right place at the right time certainly has its benefits too.

Like almost all makeovers, the Tiguan has grown, allowing for an optional third row of seating, even though it’s mostly a “kids-only zone.”

VW’s conservative styling plays well on the Tiguan and translates nicely to the interior with form and function throughout the dash. Seating is comfortable with plenty of adjustability and materials seem to be of the long-term type.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This combination plays well together and drives the front wheels with ease. 4-wheel drive is optional. Mileage is a respectable 21 MPG-city and 29-highway.

Even in small SUV form, the Tiguan retains that German feel no matter what the terrain, including pot-holed city streets, undulating toll roads and hill country climbs .
The Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $24,295.

CCEF Honors 12 at Its Annual Gala

December 1st, 2019

Honorees Ron Masters, Debbie Kropp, Melissa Wiginton, Ann Hammond, Tim Kropp, Logan Reed, Jana Reed, Alexis Reed, Darren Ellisor, Jackie Mitchell, Daniel Okorodudu, Dale Okorodudu, Matthew Paulson (who was filling in for Lyzette Ruiz), and Alaina Garza, from left, get together for a photo at the gala.

By Mary Alys Cherry

EXCITEMENT filled theair when the Clear Creek Education Foundation hosted its always popular gala at South Shore Harbour Resort Nov. 2, honoring some of the area’s outstanding folks, while raising $85,000 for innovative educational programs – a new record for this event.

“Once again our community generously showed their support of our mission to provide innovative learning materials to our students,” CCEF Chairman Jonathan Cottrell said. “It was heartwarming to see our community come together to recognize these outstanding individuals and support education in CCISD.”

Each year CCEF honors an outstanding citizen with the Citizen of the Year Award. This year the award went to the late Chris Reed, a Clear Creek ISD trustee and Kemah police chief who was killed in a boating accident back in June, after spending much of his life helping improve the quality of life for children. His wife, Jana, accepted the award on his behalf.
Another former CCISD trustee honored was Ann Hammond, who was presented the George B. Carlisle Distinguished Service Award for her consistent demonstration of commitment to CCISD over time.

Other honorees at the 19th annual gala were:

  • Distinguished Alumni Award winners were CCISD alumni and are now accomplished professionals who support their community: Jacqueline Mitchell (Clear Creek High, 1983), Dr. Daniel Okorodudu (Clear Creek, 2000), Dr. Dale Okorodudu (Clear Creek, 2002),  and Melissa Wiginton (Clear Lake, 1976)
Valor Award in honor of a public servant (military, police, fire, etc.) who has gone above and beyond the call of duty: Darren Ellisor, (Clear Lake, 1992)
CCISD Superstar Award bestowed on a select group of individuals who support and enhance CCISD whether CCISD alumni or not: Ron Masters; Alaina Garza, CCISD Secondary Teacher of the Year; and Lyzette Ruiz, CCISD Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Dennis Johnson Memorial Small Business Award is presented to a small business owner within CCISD who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the district through active participation in multiple activities: Tim and Debbie Kropp – MRI Technologies

Gala Co-Chairmen Joyce Abbey and Suzanne Fair joined CCEF Executive Director Deborah Laine and her husband, David, and Matt and Kelsey McNeil in welcoming the arriving crowd, including Greg and Pam Ploss, Richard and Traci Dvorak, Rebecca Lilly, Lisa Holbrook, Laura and Jamieson Mackey, Carrie and Jay Cunningham, Carl and Colene Joiner, Beth and T.J. Aulds, Nina and Chris Premont, Mike Pierce, Sarah and Dr. Glenn Freedman, Amy and Brent Cockerham and Tim and Debbie Kropp. 

Dan and Jill Reason were also in the crowd of nearly 350, as were CCISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith and his wife Kathy, Pat and Wendell Wilson, Katy and Bill Bastedo, Mike and Karen Engle, Scott Rainey and Martha Bowles, Ed and Elaina Polsen, Kippy Caraway, Mary Ann Shallberg, Dee Scott, Chris and Dr. Laura DuPont, Roy Green, Daniel and Win Weber, Jason Alcorn and Wendy Shaw, Joe and Kellie Byrd and Jennifer and Dr. Steven Ebell.

Elected officials you might have passed included Mayors Pat Hallisey of League City, Julie Masters of Dickinson, Mark Denman of Nassau Bay and Thom Kolupski of Seabrook and State Rep. Dr. Greg Bonnen. Others you might have spotted as CCEF Chairman Jonathan Cottrell welcomed the black-tie crowd were Gary and Sandy Mossman, Joan McKinney Mitchell, Jeanette and Joe Barlow, Elaine and Gary Renola, Ann and Jim O’Malley, Jayme and Arturo Sanchez, Janet and Randy Brown, Donna and Roy Montalbano, Gene Hollier and Emmeline Dodd, Bob and Macy Osoria, Stacy and Michael Houston, Scottie and Ron McLeod, Christie and Jason Reynolds and Carol and Jim Saxe. 

Chris Reed Foundation formed to provide help for area students

December 1st, 2019

Jana Reed, center, and her daughters, Logan, left, and Aleis arrive at the Chris Reed Foundation founding party at the Carl Joiner home in Kemah.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Nearly a hundred family and friends of the late Chris Reed gathered Oct. 24 to celebrate the formation of the Chris Reed Foundation, established to provide financial assistance for Bay Area high school students, by helping them prepare for college or vocational school.

Reed, the Kemah police chief at the time of his death, died after falling off a boat this past June when it was hit by a gigantic wave as he and his wife were enjoying a weekend sail on Galveston Bay.

The celebration, held at the Kemah home of Carl and Colene Joiner, began with a toast by the board of directors to kick-off the not-for-profit organization, while also paying tribute to Chris Reed.

“The Chris Reed Foundation was established as a means to bolster teen success through monetary assistance and mentorship,” said Joiner, a board member. “We seek to support juniors and seniors as they prepare for graduation, college or vocational programs.”

Reed’s death left the Bay Area community in shock as he had touched many lives along the way. He was a Clear Creek ISD trustee, a dad, a wrestling coach, a former city manager of both League City and Nassau Bay, and a former assistance police chief in League City. Many of those lives were young kids in need of direction that he helped.

Clear Creek ISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Steven Ebell, right, swaps memories of Chris Reed with, from left, Realtor Jonathan Cottrell, South Shore Harbour Resort General Manager Roy Green and Vinyl Draught Radio President Doug Meisinger.

His wife Jana met with a number of community members on July 30 – the Reeds’ 29th wedding anniversary — to plan the foundation.

“This is about helping someone who maybe doesn›t have the best home life, who couldn›t necessarily afford their cap and gown or their senior pictures. That’s what we want to do. Help those who need a little push,” she said.

Jana Reed serves as chairman of the Chris Reed Foundation and her oldest daughter, Logan, is vice chairman. The scholarship program aims to provide financial assistance for high school students in the Bay Area. Donations could go toward graduation expenses, application fees, school supplies, tutoring, among other needs.

The Foundation’s slogan, “From Adversity to Achievement” focuses on high school students, particularly those with lower socioeconomic status, and provides resources to enhance future scholastic and professional success, Kimberly Campbell pointed out.

While the Founding Members event was the first formal fundraising activity for the foundation, students from CCISD’s Bauerschlag Elementary previously collected nearly $1,500 through a coin drive, Campbell said. These funds, as well as the $25,000 raised at the kick-off event, will soon be made available through application submittal on school district systems such as Naviance.

“My father would have been proud to see so many join forces in support of a cause near and dear to his heart,” Logan said. A golf tournament and bike rally are next on the fundraising schedule. For those wanting to make a personal contribution in support of the region’s youth or to learn more about the organization, go to the website,

Boeing Starliner completes crucial abort system test

December 1st, 2019

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed a critical safety milestone on Nov. 11 in an end-to-end test of its abort system. The Pad Abort Test took place at Launch Complex 32 at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The test was designed to verify each of Starliner’s systems will function not only separately, but in concert, to protect astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff. This was Boeing’s first flight test with Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight launches to the International Space Station from American soil.

“Tests like this one are crucial to help us make sure the systems are as safe as possible,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “We are thrilled with the preliminary results, and now we have the job of really digging into the data and analyzing whether everything worked as we expected.”

During the test, Starliner’s four launch abort engines, and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters simultaneously ignited to rapidly push the spacecraft away from the test stand. Five seconds into flight, the abort engines shut off as planned, transferring steering to the control thrusters for the next five seconds.

A pitcharound maneuver rotated the spacecraft into position for landing as it neared its peak altitude of approximately 4,500 feet. Two of three Starliner’s main parachutes deployed just under half a minute into the test, and the service module separated from the crew module a few seconds later. Although designed with three parachutes, two opening successfully is acceptable for the test perimeters and crew safety. After one minute, the heat shield was released and airbags inflated, and the Starliner eased to the ground beneath its parachutes.

The demonstration took only about 95 seconds from the moment the simulated abort was initiated until the Starliner crew module touched down on the desert ground.

“Emergency scenario testing is very complex, and today our team validated that the spacecraft will keep our crew safe in the unlikely event of an abort,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Our teams across the program have made remarkable progress to get us to this point, and we are fully focused on the next challenge—Starliner’s uncrewed flight to demonstrate Boeing’s capability to safely fly crew to and from the space station.”

Boeing’s next mission, called Orbital Flight Test, will launch an uncrewed Starliner spacecraft to the station on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. The launch is targeted for Dec. 17.

BAHEP to honor Dr. Brenda Hellyer with its coveted 2020 Quasar Award

December 1st, 2019

By Kathryn Paradis

January is celebrated the world over as a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, do-overs.  So it is in Bay Area Houston, as well, except for one night each January. Since 1994, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership has set aside a very special evening in January to celebrate the past while looking to the future. That night marks the occasion when BAHEP presents its renowned Quasar Award to an outstanding elected official or business leader who has demonstrated a strong and continual effort to support the business foundations of the greater Bay Area Houston communities.

On Jan. 24, 2020, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership will honor Brenda Hellyer, Ed.D., chancellor of the San Jacinto College District, with its Quasar Award for Economic Development Excellence.

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell was the first to notify Dr. Hellyer that she had been selected. “When she heard the news, she was literally speechless for several seconds,” he said. It is truly gratifying to honor an individual of Dr. Hellyer’s caliber who, above all, remains humble about her incredible accomplishments and gives well-deserved credit to her colleagues.

“She has taken San Jacinto College into the 21st century with the addition of programs that are essential to building and maintaining the skilled workforce that is fundamental to the economic well being of the region. Dr. Hellyer’s long-term vision for the College and consideration of the needs of her students and the community have made such a positive impact and will continue to do so far into the future.”

On her selection for the Quasar Award, Dr. Hellyer said, “I am humbled and honored to be named the Quasar Award recipient. I am fortunate to represent amazing and talented people who make up our Board of Trustees, employees, and student body at San Jacinto College, all of whom have made it a top 10 College in the country.

“I am extremely thankful to the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership for this honor, and I applaud the work that they do every day to make the economy in our Houston region vibrant and strong. On behalf of San Jacinto College, it is an honor to receive this award.”

Dr. Hellyer became chancellor of SJCD in May 2009. In the ensuing years, she created transformational change at San Jacinto College, resulting in a nearly 162 percent increase in certificates and degrees awarded. Additionally, that transformational change has placed San Jacinto College as a twice-named top-10 community college in the country by the Aspen Institute.

Dr. Hellyer has also worked tirelessly to transform the physical image of San Jacinto College from a 1960s college to a modern community college offering students training and education in collaborative classrooms on equipment they will use when entering the workforce. During her 10-year tenure as chancellor, the college has constructed or will construct 16 new buildings while completing renovations on many more.

Those buildings include the Maritime Technology and Training Center, which opened in March 2016; the $60 million LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology (CPET), which opened in September 2019; and, most recently, the EDGE Center. Designed to offer the nation’s leading edge curriculum in advanced manufacturing training, the San Jacinto College EDGE Center is now the official training partner for the Houston Spaceport.

The 27th Annual Quasar Award will pay tribute to Dr. Hellyer’s singular leadership and innovative initiatives, which have served to redefine education and workforce development in the Bay Area Houston region

Bay Area Boulevard panel replacement scheduled

November 11th, 2019

Houston Public Works crews will begin a panel replacement in the Clear Lake area, Houston City Councilman Dave Martin reports. The project will take place along Bay Area Boulevard, just south of its intersection with Middlebrook Drive, on Thursday, Dec. 5, weather permitting. The scope of work includes replacing 162 linear feet of concrete panels in the southbound lanes.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, Houston Public Works crews will begin the preparation work at 7 p.m. One lane will be closed while crews saw cut the paving. The lane will re-open no later than 5 a.m. the next morning, Friday, Dec. 6. At 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, crews will re-close that same lane to remove and replace the concrete paving. This lane is scheduled to remain closed from 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 6, until 12 midnight, Sunday, Dec. 8.

This same process will be performed the following weekend, weather permitting, beginning Thursday, Dec. 12, to complete the panel replacement in the opposite lane. The work is expected to be completed by Wednesday, Dec.18, if the contractor encounters no weather related delays. During the design portion of this project, Houston Public Works completed a traffic count of the area to create this work schedule with the goal of minimally impacting commutes and traffic congestion.

As a result of the construction activities, please be aware of flagmen and orange traffic cones that will be put in place on site to help with traffic flow through the construction zone as temporary lane closures are expected. One lane will remain open during the repairs process. Residents will have access to driveways and sidewalks at all times, and may experience an increase in noise levels due to trucks and equipment in the area.

For more information, contact Martin’s office at 832-393-3008 or