Special treat awaits the BAHEP Board

May 1st, 2018

Long Star Flight Museum CEO Doug Owens, right, welcomes Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell and BAHEP Board Chairman Dr. Brenda Hellyer to the Flight Museum’s new home at Ellington Airport.

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s Board of Directors were in for a treat when they met for their April meeting. Instead of gathering at the BAHEP office, they met at the beautiful new Lone Star Flight Museum, which moved here last fall from Galveston.

And, as the meeting got underway, Flight Museum CEO Doug Owens, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, traced the history of the Flight Museum, education programs, future plans and invited board members to attend the May 5, 2018 Flights of Fancy Gala at the museum when six who made significant contributions to aviation will be inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame – Capt. James Lovell, Congressman Sam Johnson, Azellia White, Brig. Gen. Noel Parrish and Thomas and Paul Braniff.

BAHEP to honor Mayor Sylvester Turner with Silver Anniversary Quasar Award

January 1st, 2018

By Kathryn Paradis

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership will honor Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner with its esteemed Quasar Award on the Silver Anniversary of this prestigious event, which will be held on Jan. 26 at the South Shore Harbour Resort in League City.

The Quasar Award recognizes an outstanding elected official or business leader who, through his or her actions and leadership, has demonstrated a strong and continual effort to support the business foundations of the greater Bay Area Houston communities.

The recipient’s actions must have gone above and beyond to promote the economic development of the region and the fulfillment of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s objectives to recruit, retain and expand primary jobs in the region. The award is presented during the organization’s formal Quasar Award banquet, which annually brings together nearly 700 individuals who celebrate and congratulate the honoree.

“Significantly, Mayor Turner has stepped forth to champion the coastal spine system to protect the region from hurricane storm surge,” BAHEP President Bob Mitchell said in announcing the award. “Additionally, his work to ensure a fiscally sound City of Houston will be a lasting testament to his outstanding leadership for decades to come.  Mayor Turner’s foresight has contributed immeasurably to the economic strength of Bay Area Houston.”

Houston City Councilman Dave Martin, whose district includes Bay Area Houston, said, “Mayor Sylvester Turner has been and continues to be a strong proponent for Bay Area Houston. Spearheading the city’s efforts to implement pension reform, addressing our mobility and infrastructure initiatives, and fostering a strong economic development agenda for the Bay Area region, are the cornerstones of Mayor Turner’s first two years in office.

“With the mayor’s strong endorsement of the coastal spine system, our Bay Area homes and business will be protected from future hurricane surge,” he added.

Elected in December 2015, Mayor Turner is serving his first four-year term as Houston’s 62nd mayor. Since taking office, he eliminated a $160 million budget shortfall in record time, led the city’s remarkable rebound from Hurricane Harvey, expanded municipal investments in renewable energy, and led the winning bid to host the World Petroleum Congress in 2020.

As the head of the energy capital of the world and the most diverse city in the nation, Mayor Turner has brought a performance-driven approach to the job, creating more responsive, streamlined and efficient delivery of city services while shoring up Houston’s financial future.

One of the mayor’s signature initiatives is Complete Communities, which aims to improve the quality of life for residents in all neighborhoods. The mayor’s other priorities include filling more than 90,000 potholes on city streets, implementing a six-point holistic plan for addressing homelessness, reducing flooding, and improving drainage.

Mayor Turner’s civic leadership has been nationally recognized through his service as a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Standing Committee, vice chairman of the National Climate Action Agenda, member of the C40 and Global Covenant for Mayor’s for Climate and Energy, and an advisory board member of the African American Mayors Association.

Prior to his election as mayor, Mayor Turner served for 27 years in the Texas House as the representative for District 139.  He worked on the House Appropriations Committee for 21 years and served as Speaker Pro Tem for three terms.  He was appointed to several Budget Conference committees to help balance the state’s budget and served on the Legislative Budget Board.

Mayor Turner is a life-long resident of Houston and lives in the Acres Homes community where he grew up with eight siblings.  He is a graduate of the University of Houston and earned a law degree from Harvard University. He began his law practice at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and later founded the Barnes & Turner Law Firm.

Previous recipients of the Quasar Award are:
1994   Texas Gov. Ann Richards
1995   U. S. Rep. Tom DeLay
1996   U. S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
1997   U. S. Rep. Nick Lampson
1998   JSC Director George W. S. Abbey
1999   Harris County Judge Robert Eckels and Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough
2000   Robert L. Moody Sr.
2001   Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown
2002   Harris County Commissioner Jim Fonteno
2003   U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
2004   Harris County Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia
2005   President of UTMB-Galveston Dr. John Stobo
2006   Houston Mayor Bill White
2007   NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin
2008   UHCL President Dr. William A. Staples
2009   Johnson Space Center Director Michael L. Coats
2010   Texas State Rep. Craig Eiland
2011   U. S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
2012   U. S. Sen. John Cornyn
2013   Griffin Partners, Inc. owner and Chairman Fred Griffin
2014   Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor, University of Houston System, President, University of Houston
2015   Dr. Bill Merrell, George P. Mitchell ‘40 Chair in Marine Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston
2016    Dr. Greg Smith, Superintendent, Clear Creek Independent School District
2017    Texas State Sen. Larry Taylor

Time has come to get serious about protecting our region and the nation

October 1st, 2017

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, at the podium, prepares to roll-out dynamic new storm surge protection video during a media event held Sept. 12 at Houston City Hall. Shown, from left are: Houston City Council Members Karla Cisneros, Dave Martin, David Robinson, Jack Christie, standing behind Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Mayor Pro-Tem Ellen R. Cohen. Next to Cohen are State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, State Rep. Dennis Paul, and Stephen C. Costello, City of Houston chief resilience officer and “flood czar.”

By Kathryn Paradis

Victor Hugo, a French writer famous for penning Les Misérables, among many other works, wrote, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Following the massive destruction of Hurricane Harvey, roughly estimated to have caused $150 billion in damages, it appears that the time has finally come to take storm surge protection for the upper Texas Gulf coast under serious consideration.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, less than 24 hours shy of the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Ike, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and the City of Houston rolled out the second in a series of videos produced to promote the critical need for a coastal spine system, an “Ike Dike” if you will, to protect the people, homes, businesses, industries and economies of the region, state, and nation.

The film, Unprepared – A Nation at Risk, produced by Space City Films and funded by the Bay Area Coastal Protection Alliance, takes a hard look at the consequences of Houston suffering a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, surrounded by members of city council and other stakeholders, led the media event by stating, “I don’t think there is a better time to have this conversation than right now. As we work diligently to get back on track after the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, we are also keeping our eyes on the vital need for strong surge protection in our region.”

“It is very difficult,” he emphasized, “to have a conversation about rebuilding if we don’t have a serious conversation about mitigation … It needs to be a part of the rebuilding process.”

San Jacinto College Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer says hello to Col. Len Waterworth, Texas A&M Galveston executive professor.

The mayor continued, “I think that Hurricane Harvey was a warning sign that we need to start talking, and, quite frankly, we need to start designing and building. There is no reason that in the package before Congress that they are considering that the coastal spine should not be fully funded.”

Mayor Turner then invited BAHEP President Bob Mitchell to address the media and others in the overflow crowd in the Legacy Room at Houston City Hall. BAHEP, in partnership with Texas A&M University at Galveston among many others, has been working since 2009 to gain support for a coastal spine system.

“We’ve actually been able to accomplish more in the last 10 months than we have in the previous seven years,” Mitchell told the crowd, pointing out that the accomplishments would not have been possible without the assistance of many people, notably Dr. Bill Merrell of Texas A&M Galveston, the “father” of the coastal spine concept. “Without his foresight and creativity, there is no way that we would be standing here today,” Mitchell said.

He invited everyone to watch the video, which spoke of Texas storms and their consequences, featured interviews with hurricane experts and elected officials, and outlined the potential financial impact on the nation of such storms and the aftermath of a major storm surge barreling up the Houston Ship Channel. The dynamic video can be viewed on YouTube at https://youtu.be/v_Ez1Xvkjqo.

It took 100 years, but Ellington has finally arrived

August 1st, 2017

By Mary Alys Cherry

Ellington International Airport came from rather humble beginnings, but you could say, with all honesty, this airport knows a thing or two about survival. It has survived an entire century of ups and downs.

At one time – after a fire – Ellington was nothing but a sea of grass and a couple concrete slabs. After helping our country fight five different wars, it was almost abandoned a time or two. Yet today business is booming and it is on the way to becoming one of the nation’s 10 spaceports as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Most likely there will be no more ups and downs.

After Orville and Wilbur Wright ushered in the aviation era in December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, N.C., and the policy wonks in Washington finally realized that the airplane could be a good military tool, would be pilots began practicing on the land that eventually became Ellington Field.
In August 1914 war broke out in Europe and soon consumed the entire continent. Then in 1917, America entered the war. As the nation suddenly needed hundreds of pilots, it began building training fields all over the nation.

Ellington Field in 1918

NAMED FOR PILOT
One of these was about 25 miles south of Houston on some 1,280 acres the U.S. Government purchased because it offered weather conditions deemed necessary for flight training.

The Secretary of War announced that the new base would be named for Lt. Eric Lamar Ellington, a young army pilot who had been killed in a training flight four years earlier on Nov. 24, 1915 at the U.S. Army Signal Corps aviation training school near San Diego, Calif.

Construction began in September 1917 and most of the base was completed in two months. By December, a number of young aviators were transferred here, and planes were shipped in by rail. A few days after their arrival, the first planes at Ellington flew over Houston for a Red Cross benefit, according to a history on file at the Johnson Space Center: “A flight of ten JN-4s took off from grass runways and followed the interurban tracks stretching north . . . to Houston. Throngs of men, women, and children watched in amazement as the JN-4s flew overhead.”

Although work on the base was finished by December, Ellington had only 220 men stationed at the airfield and had such as shortage of skilled employees such as painters, cooks, mechanics and accountants that the War Department allowed officials to use what was called “direct enlistment” of men to fill the jobs.

Curtiss JN-4 Jennys at Ellington Field

DEACTIVATED
In 1919, with World War I over, Ellington was deactivated as an active duty airfield with only a small caretaker unit assigned to the facility. With the return of peace, military training bases were considered unnecessary and the base became a practice facility for Army pilots stationed at Kelly Field in San Antonio to practice touch and go landings.

In May 1923, after the War Department first ordered the Ellington caretaker force to dismantle the base, it did an about face shortly thereafter, reactivating Ellington as a reserve base and authorizing the Texas National Guard to establish an aviation squadron there – which also provided Houston with an airfield and began a long relationship between the city and the Guard.

By 1927 the facilities at Ellington Field were obsolete and neither the Texas National Guard nor the War Department had the funds to renovate Ellington Field, so the Guard’s 111th Observation Squadron had to sign a long-term lease with the new Houston Municipal Airport – which we know today as Hobby Airport — and then moved into new facilities at the airfield.

SEA OF GRASS
By 1928, most of its buildings had been disassembled and Ellington was described as “a sea of tall prairie grass.” In February, a fire engulfed the entire airfield and all the remaining structures were consumed. All that remained were concrete foundations and a metal water tower so the War Department leased out the vacant land to local ranchers for pasture for the next dozen years, according to newspaper accounts.

Then in 1940, with much of the world involved in war, and the value of the airplane in winning battles quite obvious, the United States greatly increased its military and greatly needed trained pilots for its expanded Army Air Force.

Before long, Ellington Field was resurrected and Tellepson Construction Co. of Houston was busy constructing five control towers, two 45,000 square foot steel hangars in which to store aircraft, 160 buildings, including a 250-bed hospital for the new airfield, which also was getting six concrete runways to accommodate the larger military aircraft of the 40s that were later needed when America entered World War II.

As construction neared completion, several area garden clubs planted flowers, shrubs and trees on the base. Before long, more than 350 training aircraft were stationed at Ellington to provide for the U.S. Army Air Corps’ pilot training.

THOUSANDS TRAINED
On Nov. 23, 1940, personnel from the 276th Quartermaster Company arrived in Houston to coordinate the opening of the base. Soon officers and enlisted personnel of other squadrons were transferred to Ellington Field to conduct flight training at the USAAC Advanced Flying School. Once pilots acquired flying proficiency, they received either a fighter or bomber assignment. Over the course of the war, thousands of young men got their flight training at Ellington.

After the war, in 1947, Houston officials discussed leasing or purchasing Ellington Field from the government, thinking the field could become a second airport. The USAAF offered Ellington to Houston for a dollar a year rent plus all maintenance costs. While city officials were tempted, they decided that rental fees from the National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserve were not enough to cover maintenance expenditures and declined.
Over the next few decades, Ellington AFB played a variety of roles as the United States participated in the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, most often training pilots and protecting the Gulf Coast.

In 1958, a special visitor arrived at Ellington — Mrs. Ellington-Hocutt, the sister of Eric Lamar Ellington. Since the opening of Ellington Air Force Base 40 years earlier, Air Force officials had never received a visit from a member of his immediate family. In 1959 Ellington Air Force Base shifted from an active duty base to an Air Force Reserve facility, and the number of personal dropped from 5,000 to around 200. With all Air Force flying squadrons transferred to other bases, only a small housekeeping unit remained at the base for administrative purposes. From then on, Air National Guard and USAF Reserve units conducted all flight operations at Ellington.

“SPACE BASE”
When NASA came to town in the early 1960s, Ellington became a “space base,” with the space agency using its facilities for astronaut training. As the home for all astronaut flight training, Ellington Air Force Base played a vital role in the success of the U.S. space program.

Then in 1976, Ellington Air Force Base was officially deactivated and all Air Force Reserve air squadrons were transferred to other USAF facilities with only a Air Force caretaker unit overseeing base maintenance. Texas Air National Guard flight operations, however, continue to this day.
In 1984 the city of Houston purchased Ellington Air Force Base to use as a third civil airport and renamed it Ellington Field, which went on to become part of the Houston Airport System and serve as a crossroads for all aspects of aviation in south Texas.

More name changes followed; in 2009 the Houston City Council approved the name Ellington Airport, going on to rename it Ellington International Airport in August 2011.

TASK FORCE NAMED
That was about the time Congress began closing down air bases around the country. But before they could shut Ellington down, business and community leaders took action, with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership forming the Ellington Field Task Force and taking their fight to Washington, where U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas was more than happy to help them in their fight to save Ellington.

They also invited local branches of all military reserve units to move their offices from Old Spanish Trail to Ellington and form a joint reserve training base and allow Ellington to maintain its active status. They were more than happy to do so. The Coast Guard showed up big time, building a four-story $55 million regional headquarters at Ellington; the others soon followed.

The fighter jets may have flown away, but today Ellington has the rare distinction of not only being a joint reserve base that is home to all five branches of the U.S. Department of Defense — the Army, Navy and Marine Reserve units, Army and Air Force National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard – but also NASA flight training operations, all on one base.

FLIGHT MUSEUM
Then came news that Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston was moving its world class collection of World War II aircraft to Ellington to avoid possible hurricane damage and was building a $17 million structure here with plans to open in 2017.

“We went from having 1,500 (military personnel) at Ellington to zero to now more than 7,000,” John Martinec, president of the Ellington Field Task Force, told the Galveston Daily News. “I think everyone agrees that what we pulled together to keep the F-16s here was the catalyst for the strong military presence we have there now.”

In April 2014, the Sierra Nevada Corp. signed an agreement with Houston Airport System to explore development of Ellington as a commercial Spaceport, so as to use Ellington as a landing site for the company’s Dream Chaser space plane.

Then came the show stopper. In August 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration granted a spaceport launch site license to Ellington as America’s 10th spaceport.

FBI agent warns of cyber attack, sees it comes true two days later

June 1st, 2017

Dr. Greg Smith, left, BAHEP board chairman, greets FBI Computer Scientist James Morrison, who spoke to BAHEP members on the danger of cyber attacks.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Talk about uncanny timing.

FBI computer scientist James Morrison warned BAHEP members at their May 10 meeting that Texas businesses needed to prepare for possible cyber attacks, or sooner or later they might be a victim.

Two days later, corporate computer systems in some 60 countries were seized by cyber criminals in what is probably the biggest hack the world has ever seen.

To explain to Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership members of the dangers their computer networks face, he talked of Ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts data, locks out the computer user and offers to free up the system for a ransom.

“Seventy-five percent of cyber attacks are opportunistic, and most are financially motivated,” Morrison told the crowd at the Lakewood Yacht Club meeting.

As an example, he told how a hospital had been a victim, how all its files were confiscated including patients’ personal information such as Social Security numbers, birthdates, names and addresses, type of illness, how doctors were blocked from access to patient files, and how the hospital came to a standstill until it paid the hackers a ransom.

The hospital story he described as a warning came true in Great Britain in the May 12 attack, where its health system was greatly disrupted and reportedly a total of 36 hospitals were shut down.

“Corporate computer systems in many countries, including Fed Ex of the United States, one of the world’s leading international shippers, were among those affected,” The New York Times reported.

Other points Morrison made while urging businesses to protect their systems included:

  • 76 percent of cyber intrusions exploited weak or stolen credentials;
  • 63 percent of companies experienced a denial of service attack in the past 12 months;
  • 51 percent reported a loss of revenue.

Morrison, who has an extensive background working with the Cyber Crimes Task Force in the FBI’s Houston office, was introduced by Kim Morris, director of the Bay Area Houston Advanced Technology Consortium, after BAHEP Chairman Dr. Greg Smith welcomed the crowd.

Economic outlook good, BAHEP told

May 1st, 2017

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell, left, welcomes Mike Sullivan, director of Governmental and Public Affairs, Group 1 Automotive, Inc., to the luncheon.

By Kathryn Paradis

Dr. Ted C. Jones talks – a lot. In his position as the chief economist, senior vice president of Stewart Title Guaranty Co., he typically gives more than 150 presentations on real estate and the economic outlook each year. Members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership were recently the enthusiastic recipients of one of his entertaining and insightful talks.

During his presentation – Things Change, the Outlook for Real Estate and the Economy – Jones made some predictions that business owners found encouraging. “The administration is going to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.”

Jones also predicted that we’re going to have U.S. overseas corporate profit repatriation. What does that mean? The administration is proposing that we give a one-time tax holiday for corporate repatriation. He’s advocated for a special corporate tax repatriation holiday rate whereby corporations with money stashed overseas would be able to pay a tax rate of just 10 percent on that income, in order to bring it back into the United States.

This cash could be a big boon to some of the largest U.S. multinational companies. The Speaker of the House said America would bring back $3 trillion by doing this, Jones said. In winding up his predictions, he went on to say there would be a corporate gains tax cut, as well as tax changes for the middle class that would be positive for some and not so positive for others.

No recession
Jones then turned his attention to the performance of the U.S. stock market in 2016, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 13 percent, followed by the S&P 500 at 9.5 percent and the NASDAQ Composite at 7.5 percent. He said that the NASDAQ Composite is heavily weighted towards information technology companies, adding that the industrials were the big winner, which is great news for Houston where the primary business is industrials.

Jobs were the next topic of discussion, and there was good news and bad news to relate. Jones said we now have more jobs than at any other time in our history, but U.S. job growth keeps going down. However, leisure and hospitality jobs grew by 2.25 percent over the past 12 months compared to the 1.64 percent growth overall of U.S. jobs. In the Houston – The Woodlands – Sugar Land Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) that growth was 4.17 percent. “You don’t spend money on leisure and hospitality unless you feel good about the future,” Jones remarked. Because of this segment of growth, he, therefore, does not see a recession coming up.

Rates going up
Interest rates? They’re going up. He said, “My forecast for 30-year rates over the next 12-18 months will be between 4.7 and 5.3 percent.”

Finally, Jones spoke of oil, gas, and the Permian Basin. Under Midland-Odessa and the Permian Basin, new technology made it possible to find 14 billion barrels of oil. “Mark my words,” he said, “10 years from today, the U.S. will be among the top five oil exporting countries in the world.”
Things change. Technology changes.

It’s a good time to live in the great state of Texas.

Clear Lake Chatter: What fun it is to party every day!

January 1st, 2017

NO DOUBT about it – the Bay Area loves to party, and what better time than the holidays?

Actually, the wee set got the parties started with the Bay Area Houston Ballet’s Breakfast With the Sugar Plum Fairy at South Shore Harbour Resort and the Bay Area Museum Guild’s Toyland Fantasy breakfast at Bay Oaks Country Club.

What fun it was to watch the little ones in their party garb, dancing around and wearing smiles a mile wide.

Bay Area Museum Guild President Brandie Corrao welcomes Lunar Rendezvous Queen Madelyn Chicester and Festival Capt. Alex Struss to the Guild Holiday Open House at the museum.

And then the parties began with Museum Guild members opening the museum doors Sunday, Dec. 4 for their annual Holiday Open House, where President Brandie Corrao joined Co-Chairmen Ava Galt and Jan Larson in welcoming the crowd that included Taylor Lake Village City Councilman Tony Galt, Matthew and Angie Weinman, Delicia and Alex Struss, Cindy and Dave Kuenneke, Anita Fogtman and Emmeline Dodd.

Lunar Rendezvous Queen Madelyn Chicester joined the party, as did Festival Capt. Alex Struss with the Clear Lake Sound Waves providing entertainment.

 

UH-CLEAR LAKE kept up the beat, hosting its big annual Holiday Reception Dec. 7 at Bay Oaks Country Club, where retiring President Bill Staples and his wife, Darlene, were on hand to welcome the happy crowd.

Area Legislators Dennis Paul of Clear Lake and Ed Thompson of Pearland were among the crowd, as were Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, attorneys John Gay and his wife, Becky Reitz; Marilyn and Glynn Lunney, Alan and Peggy Hill, Theresa Presswood, Marilyn and Charles Sims, Ken and Nedra Gurry, Kippy Caraway, Mary Ann Shallberg, Rob and Karen Barbier and Rhonda Thompson.

Plus, Science and Engineering Dean Zbigniew T. Czajkiewicz, College of Education Dean Mark D. Shermis, Business Dean William T. Cummings and Human Sciences and Humanities Dean Rick J. Short.

 

Michelle Richardson, Kelli Baliker, Diana Shuman and Ondi Lyon, from left, share a light moment as at the Clear Lake Area Panhellenic Holiday Brunch at the Shuman home in Bay Oaks.

CLEAR LAKE Panhellenic kept up the beat the next day, Dec. 8, with Diane Shuman hosting the sorority alumnae group’s big annual Holiday Brunch at her home in Bay Oaks.

Diane, in a bright red outfit, joined Brunch Co-Chairmen Judie Ferguson and Sue Ellen Jennings, both wearing colorful Santa hats, and Panhellenic President Jill Reason, wearing white, in welcoming the festive crowd.

Among them were Peggy Clause, Lisa O’Brien, Jennie Hampton, Jo Cat Bruce, Michelle Richardson, Sue Broughton, Judie Ferguson, Kay Lee Benoit, Ondi Lyon, Ruth Beecher, Ellen King, Karen McCorkle, Diane Overman, Jo Nell Hunter, Kathie Wiley, Barbara Dickey, Judie Raiford and Kelli Baliker.

 

BAY AREA HOUSTON Economic Partnership members gathered at Lakewood Yacht Club later that day with Mayors Glenn Royal of Seabrook, Johnny Isbell of Pasadena, Carl Joiner of Kemah and Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point in the crowd that filled up the ballroom.

Joining them were State Rep. Dr. Greg Bonnen, Houston City Councilman Dave Martin and a host of business men and women celebrating the holiday season.

Plus, UHCL President Bill Staples,  San Jacinto College Chancellor Brenda Hellyer and Clear Creek ISD Superintendent Greg Smith.

 

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER Director Ellen Ochoa hosted another big party with a number of city officials and aerospace executives joining her and her husband, attorney Coe Miles, Friday, Dec. 9 in JSC’s Building 9 for some good conversation and an update that included noting that we have had a continuous presence on the International Space Station now for 16 years.

Familiar faces in the crowd included Mayors Jon Keeney of Taylor Lake Village and Louis Rigby of La Porte with their wives, Lynn and Marlene, Jacobs Technology Senior VP and GM Lon Miller, Barrios Technology President Robbie McAfoos and his wife, Victoria, and Clear Lake Area Chamber President Cindy Harreld DeWease and her husband, businessman Jeff DeWease.

Plus JSC Deputy Director Mark Geyer, who brightened up the party when he arrived in one of the most colorful jackets we’ve ever seen.

 

Assistance League Holiday Reception hostess Cecilia Dismukes, right, joins President Dee Cover, left, and Reception Chairman Elizabeth McCarty before the annual party at the Dismukes’ lovely home.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE members were all wearing big smiles as Cecelia Dismukes hosted their big annual Holiday Reception at her home in Kemah’s Waterford Harbor.

ALBA President Dee Cover and Chairman Elizabeth McCarty joined the hostess in welcoming the arriving crowd, which included Yvonne Perrin, Pam Bungo, Melanie Lovuola, Kathy Panneton, Justine Powell, Badiha Nassar, Kim Barker and Lisa Holbrook.

Others you might have spotted were Brunella Altemus, Becky Richey, Barbara Groh, Katy Bastedo, Kathleen Courville, Mari Stockard-Young, Leslie Schwanke, Dee Wolfe, Janet Vallelungo, Elaine Rister, Barbara Weitenhagen, Jean Simms, Mary Vaughn, Brook Cimas, Betty Walcott, Sandra Kelver, Cookie Derderian, Amy Wortham, Betty Stoub and Joyce Alderman.

 

Houston Symphony League Bay Area President Mary Voigt, center, looks on as Dana Puddy, left, and Alice Steele prepare for the holiday party.

HOUSTON SYMPHONY League Bay Area members gathered at the home of Vicki Buxton in Clear Lake for their annual Holiday Reception, chaired by Special Events Coordinator Carole Murphy.

Buzzing around the Buxton home, you probably would have bumped into President Mary Voigt, Dana Puddy, Pat Biddle Kahl and Alice Steele and former Presidents Jim Moore and Patience Myers – just a few of the many who dropped by for the holiday celebration.

OTHERS joining the party-go-round included the Clear Lake Area Chamber and League City Regional Chamber Holiday Receptions at their offices, Recherche Christmas Brunch at Lakewood Yacht Club, Bay Oaks Country Club and Lakewood Yacht Club holiday parties for members and on and on…

Babin takes BAHEP on space journey

December 1st, 2016

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, right, welcomed a number of elected officials to the reception featuring an address by Congressman Brian Babin. Joining him are, from left, Mayors Jon Keeney of Taylor Lake Village and Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point, State Rep. Dennis Paul, Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, Dr. Babin, Seabrook Mayor Glenn Royal and Galveston County Commissioner Ryan Dennard.

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, right, welcomed a number of elected officials to the reception featuring an address by Congressman Brian Babin. Joining him are, from left, Mayors Jon Keeney of Taylor Lake Village and Michel Bechtel of Morgan’s Point, State Rep. Dennis Paul, Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark, Dr. Babin, Seabrook Mayor Glenn Royal and Galveston County Commissioner Ryan Dennard.

Brian Freedman of Boeing, from left, visits with Kevin Templin of NASA and Dr. David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute at the BAHEP reception at Lakewood Yacht Club.

Brian Freedman of Boeing, from left, visits with Kevin Templin of NASA and Dr. David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute at the BAHEP reception at Lakewood Yacht Club.

By Mary Alys Cherry

With space so much a part of our lives locally, Congressman Brian Babin decided to update members of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership on how the industry is faring on Capitol Hill when he addressed them at Lakewood Yacht Club.
While a lot has been happening in Washington, Dr. Babin, chairman on the House Subcommittee on Space, decided to focus solely on the space industry, using the title, “The Reality of Deep Space Exploration – Leadership, Policy, Planning, Resources and Partnerships.”

“I hope you have on your flight suits because you’re going to feel like you’ve been to Mars and back…I am going to give you an update on things at the deep space level, all the way down to sea-level, right here in Houston!” with quite a bit of politicization in the mix.

Everything is politicized, he told the crowd at the Oct. 26 gathering. Even the space program has been driven by politics, he said before taking them back to the early days of the Obama administration when the local area took a big hit as the Constellation Program that focused on space exploration was canceled and thousands lost their jobs.

“Just a few weeks ago, the president published an (opinion article) saying that he wanted to send humans to Mars. While I appreciate his sentiment, I only wish that eight years ago he had not abandoned that path. For nearly eight years, President Obama’s space policy has lacked specificity – basically we will go somewhere, sometime  on a vehicle. . . and while his words now about going to Mars are encouraging, they are about eight years too late.

“It is unconscionable how NASA and its industry team have been whipsawed over questionable priorities,” Dr. Babin said, pointing out that the administration had diverted billions of NASA dollars “from exploration and human space flight to global warming and climate change research. Protecting the space agency’s human space flight budget and exploration budget are my priorities, and quite frankly I’m ready to get on with our exploration program,” he added.

Brandy Gates of UTMB, Janet Brown of Space Center Houston and Joan McKinney of Norman Frede Chevrolet, from left, arrive at Lakewood Yacht Club for the BAHEP reception.

Brandy Gates of UTMB, Janet Brown of Space Center Houston and Joan McKinney of Norman Frede Chevrolet, from left, arrive at Lakewood Yacht Club for the BAHEP reception.

Babin said he strongly supports full funding of the space agency’s commercial programs. “It’s in our best interest to have this domestic capability — the sooner the U.S. has safe and reliable commercial transportation to the ISS, the sooner we can end our reliance on the Russians and invest that funding for our initiatives. I want American astronauts flying on American rockets, from American soil as soon as possible,” he told the crowd, going on to praise Boeing’s installation of its first two simulators for training astronauts at the Johnson Space Center for flights aboard the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

Turning his thoughts to the International Space Station, Dr. Babin said “it’s important for Congress to fully fund this program and keep it flying as long as it’s sustainable. It’s an enabler, a test-bed for our deep space human exploration missions and we still have much to learn about the long-term impacts to astronaut health.”

The congressman also updated the audience on the establishment of the Texas Space Congressional Caucus, which is co-chaired by Babin and Rep. John Culberson, along with many members of the Texas congressional delegation.

“For decades, in large part due to you all, our region has had a very active space industry advocacy team of local industry leaders, led by BAHEP, with strong support from local, state and federal elected officials to promote the broader interests of NASA and the human space flight programs at the federal and state level.

“However, the acute interests of JSC and the local space industry have not been watched as closely as I would like, and we have created this Caucus to bring focus on JSC and the programs that are essential to JSC. I believe a strong JSC leads to a stronger human space flight program and a more robust overall space industry.

With the Caucus in place, he said, “You can bet, when there is space work to be done in these areas, we are well positioned to fight like hell for it to be done right here at JSC!”

Police give pointers on how to survive shooter

November 1st, 2016

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena, center, accompanied here by League City Mayor Pat Halliey, left, spoke recently at two local seminars to educate the public on how to deal with an active shooter. The first, on keeping sacred spaces safe, was hosted by Houston Methodist St. John Hospital with about 60 clergy and religious leaders attending and was led by the Rev. Richard Maddox, right, director of spiritual care at St. John. The second at South Shore Harbour Resort, and hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, open to the public. 

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena, center, accompanied here by League City Mayor Pat Halliey, left, spoke recently at two local seminars to educate the public on how to deal with an active shooter. The first, on keeping sacred spaces safe, was hosted by Houston Methodist St. John Hospital with about 60 clergy and religious leaders attending and was led by the Rev. Richard Maddox, right, director of spiritual care at St. John. The second at South Shore Harbour Resort, and hosted by the Clear Lake Area Chamber and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, open to the public.

By Mary Alys Cherry

With shootings becoming a part of our lives most every day and many losing their lives to deranged gunmen in mass shootings, several local organizations decided to offer help to the frightened public – setting up two public seminars.

Clear Lake Area Chamber and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership hosted one in the South Shore Harbour Resort’s Marina Ballroom while Houston Methodist St. John Hospital hosted another to help both the public and the clergy deal with the problem. The hospital hosted nearly 60 clergy and religious leaders, representing 30 local churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, for an informative session on “Active Shooters in Sacred Spaces.”

League City Police Lt. Cliff Woitena conducted both seminars, offering advice on what to do in case one is confronted with an active shooter. “The problem is everywhere,” he said.

“We can’t prevent it, but we can prepare for it,” he said, pointing out that it is important to calm down, to take a deep breath and try to relax – no matter how hard that may be. This helps get our brains functioning better, improves our stress response, he explained.

Some things to remember if you find yourself in a place with an active shooter: Run, hide, fight. Forget your personal belongings – they can be replaced. If you hear noise that sounds like firecrackers, it isn’t. People don’t shoot off firecrackers in schools, malls, offices. It’s likely gunfire, and, if you can’t get out safely, find a hiding place. Get behind a large object. Turn out the lights and try to stay calm.

Most likely places of occurrence are 1. Businesses 53 percent of the time; 2. Educational facility, 24 percent;  3. Outdoors, 13 percent; and Other, 12 percent.

“You need to be prepared; you need to have a plan. It takes the police an average of three minutes to get there,” Woitena said, “and they want you to make the best use of your time while they are on the way.” Playing dead may work one time, but is not the best way to save your life, he added. “Don’t hide and hope under a desk either.”

Situational awareness of surroundings is the key. See where the exits are if you are in a large facility – a mall, a school, a supermarket or an office building. If you’re in a room, lock the door, put something against the door, turn off the lights, get out of sight and turn off your phone.

And remember: first responders are not there to help the injured; they are looking for the shooter. Just be patient. Help will arrive. You can survive.

“And, if by chance you are shot, don’t give up. You don’t have to die. Make a decision to live,” Woitena urged. “And, mostly likely you will.”

Celebrating the celebration

November 1st, 2016

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell thanks Communications Director Kathryn Paradis for all her hard work writing the BAHEP history for the 40th anniversary celebration.

BAHEP President Bob Mitchell thanks Communications Director Kathryn Paradis for all her hard work writing the BAHEP history for the 40th anniversary celebration.

By Mary Alys Cherry

It isn’t everyday one gets to plan a 40th anniversary celebration. So it is little wonder that those on the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership planning committee took their task quite seriously.

They didn’t just meet once or twice and leave most of the work to the hotel staff; over a period of months they met weekly sometimes and bi-weekly others, examining every minute detail, determining what  would work at the site (the South Shore Harbour Resort Crystal Ballroom) and what would not by meeting there and trying things out.

They went out to UH-Clear Lake to look through historical documents, to be sure their history was correct. They rummaged through hundreds of photographs that told much of their story. They talked with those who played key roles in the beginning. Then they invited them to the celebration.

And, when it was over, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell couldn’t stop smiling. He couldn’t think of a thing that should have been done differently. Everything had gone as planned. Just a perfect evening with many of those who worked to get BAHEP started 40 years ago on hand to reminisce and look forward to the 50th anniversary.

Such a success that Pat and Wendell Wilson decided they all needed to celebrate. So they hosted a dinner party at their bayfront home in Seabrook, where many committee members reflected on the fun they had had planning the event and began thinking of the big 50.