Bill King kicks off mayoral campaign

February 12th, 2019

By Mary Alys Cherry

Houston businessman Bill King formally launched his mayoral campaign with a series of town hall meetings in various neighborhoods across the city Feb. 9-15.

The former mayor of Kemah, who narrowly lost by less than 4,000 votes to Mayor Sylvester Turner in the 2016 Houston mayoral runoff, reportedly the closest race in Houston mayoral history, said he was using these town halls “to begin the conversation about cleaning up City Hall and getting the city back to delivering the basic municipal services every resident is entitled to expect — trash pick-up, good roads and neighborhood policing.”

“It’s time to imagine a city where the streets are paved, the trash is picked up on time, homes don’t flood, there are more police officers patrolling our neighborhoods and where the politicians work for the people and not special interests,” King said. “Houston is the city that put a man on the moon. Don’t tell me we can’t have decent streets, good drainage, and a balanced budget. We do not have to settle for what we are currently getting from city government today.

The campaign will center on cleaning up the pay-to-play system at City Hall, which will allow city government to refocus its efforts back on delivering the basic services all Houstonians expect and deserve for the tax dollars they pay, he said.

NINE TOWN HALLS

As part of his kickoff, he hosted nine town hall meetings in every corner of Houston — in Sunnyside, East End/5th Ward, Spring Branch, Kingwood and Clear Lake. Meetings are also scheduled in Meyerland, Memorial and Timbergrove.

“Houstonians are hard-working, generous and resilient and the people are what make Houston the greatest city in the country,” King added. “But we have a city government that has failed to live up to what residents deserve, and it’s time for a change. Let’s clean  up City Hall and get back to basics.

Nothing has gotten better in the last four years, he said at one town hall.

“The truth is we have a city government that doesn’t live up to the people that live in it. I’m telling you right now, we’re going to change that once and for all,” he said at another.

King joins the incumbent Turner and Houston attorney Tony Buzbee in the race for mayor. Buzbee announced his candidacy a week before King. Election day is Nov. 5, 2019.

NATIVE OF AREA

Bill is a life-long resident of the Houston area. He was born and raised in the Clear Lake area, attending Clear Creek High School before going on to the University of Houston to earn an undergraduate degree in political science and his law degree.

In 1996, he was elected to the Kemah City Council and later served as mayor of Kemah from 2001-2005.

He has enjoyed a varied career as a businessman and a lawyer. He began his career with a turbulent, and ultimately unsuccessful, foray in the savings & loan industry in the 1980s. His experience in that industry is retold in his 2009 book, Saving Face. Later in his career, he served as the national managing partner for Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, as president of Southwest Airport Services, Inc. and of counsel to Bracewell & Giuliani. He also was an editorial page columnist for 10 years for the Houston Chronicle.

Clear Lake Chatter – ALBA to celebrate 30 years

February 1st, 2019

Circle Saturday, Feb. 9 on your calendar. That’s when Assistance League of the Bay Area will celebrate its 25th anniversary as a chapter and 30th year of service to the community.

And, the community is invited to attend this year’s Superhero Birthday Bash, which will be held at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook from 6 to 11 p.m. Feb. 9, in memory of Stuart Wing Williams and to celebrate all the Assistance League Superheroes – past, present and future.

Chairman Jill Williams and Vice Chairman Peggy Heinrich are heading up the team of volunteers putting on the Bay Area’s Superhero Birthday Bash with attendees encouraged to dress as their favorite superhero.

Other ALBA members assisting them with arrangements for the evening include Mavis Irvan, Gail Ashby, Sarah Foulds, Badiha Nassar, Jill Smitherman, Sandra Sellers, Katy Bastedo, Roseann Carothers, Kim Barker, Cindy Senger-Lewis, Georgia Piwonka and Kathleen Courville.

Music for dancing will be provided by Password.

One of the highlights of the evening will come during the Reverse Raffle when the third to last ticket wins a $500 gift card from Frank’s & Son Jewelers, the second to last wins a $1,000 gift card from Lewis Jewelers and the final ticket drawn wins a Superhero Golf Cart, partially sponsored by Texas Golf Carts.

Can’t wait to see that? Better get a raffle ticket, which are $100 each. But hurry. Only 300 will be sold.

All proceeds benefit the six philanthropic programs including Operation School Bell, Operation Cinderella, Operation Support Our Schools, Assault Survivor Kits, Ready for Work and Community Outreach.

Tickets to the event are $125 and may be purchased online at the website www.

Bay Oaks Women elect new officers

SUSAN McCOY has been re-elected president of the Bay Oaks Country Club Women’s Association for 2019. Other new officers who’ll serve with her are Vice Presidents Cheri Burke and Sue Laabs, Secretary Chris Howland and Treasurer Amy Roppolo with Past President Jodi Schnabel as advisor to the president.

Pam Clary will return as special events chairman, Sue Broughton as historian, Jordan Quillen as communications chairman, Mary Alys Cherry as public relations chairman, and Cassandra Brown as Bay Oaks liaison.

Other board members include Holiday Market Chairman Allyson Jackson, Hospitality Co-Chairmen Terri Steinkamp and Suzanne Leatherman, Membership Co-Chairmen Darla McKitrick and Susan Franklin, Registration Co-Chairmen Cindy Zook and Sharon Dillard, and Publicity Co-Chairmen Eileen Hult and Jodi Schnabel.

Pasadena mayor keynotes January BayTran luncheon

NEWLY ELECTED Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner was off to a good start after his election in July 2017, learning his new job and enjoying it when, about a month later, along came Hurricane Harvey.

But rather than wring their hands, he and other Pasadena officials got right to work trying to help people, he explained during his keynote address at the Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership’s Jan. 17 luncheon.

“We accepted Harvey with open arms, and by that I mean all the emergency rooms in the area were shut down. All the airports were shut down. And, we said to one another, ‘how can we help people?’”

The answer was obvious, he told BayTran members at the luncheon at the Hobby Marriott on the Gulf Freeway – open an emergency room, which they did. It was believed to be the only working ER in Harris County, he said, and besides helping some 150 people, they even delivered a baby.

When life returned somewhat to normal, Mayor Wagner turned his thoughts to giving Pasadena a new face – even having the city buy a dilapidated building that had been vacant for 30 years and was giving the city an ugly look and needed to be torn down.

Most recently he has been working to upgrade Rickey Road, Pasadena Boulevard and Red Bluff Road – working with Harris County on sharing some of the costs. And, best of all, his city applied to FEMA for a $105 million grant to rebuild some of the city streets, and it was approved.

“Now who can say they got money from FEMA?” he smiled as he continued his overview of life in Pasadena.

BayTran President Theresa Rodriguez, and Chairman David Hamilton joined Treasurer Karen Coglianese in welcoming the crowd that also included BayTran Vice Chairman Bob Robinson, who brought his grandson, Anthony Robinson.

Several elected officials were in the audience including State Rep. Dennis Paul, Mayors Thom Kolpulski of Seabrook, Tom Reid of Pearland and Michel Bechetl of Morgan’s Point, along with Seabrook Mayor Pro-tem Natalie Picha.

Welcome Neighbors elect new officers

SOME OF THE busiest club officers these days are those who head the Bay Area Welcome Neighbors Club, which meets each month at Bay Oaks Country Club with nearly overflow crowds.

Becky Rickey is president of the group this year with Suzanne Lamminen and Catherine Jennische serving as vice presidents, Alice Swift as secretary and Madeline Rogers as treasurer.

This month they will welcome Lt. Col. Don Houk from the Living History Museum providing a first person presentation of one of the most famous World War II generals, James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, and his famous raid on Tokyo at their Feb. 21 luncheon meeting. To attend, email Nancy Guthrie at membership.bawnc@gmail.com

90 years old and still golfing

A ROOMFUL of old friends were on hand to help Charles Smitherman celebrate his 90th birthday in late December, and all were no doubt surprised to learn how he keeps a busy schedule and is out playing golf every chance he gets.

Besides his birthday celebration, it was also a chance for him and his wife, Joy, to get together with all their kids – Carol Smitherman Anglin, John and Jill Smitherman and Paul and Valerie Riddle — and grandkids and long-time friends.

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.

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.

Clear Lake Chatter

November 1st, 2018

Eileen Hult, right, and Mary Alys Cherry are happy to see the big crowd celebrating Bay Oaks Country Club’s 30th anniversary.

Bay Oaks Country Club marks 30th anniversary

BAY OAKS Country Club in Clear Lake is turning 30 years old this year, so club executives hosted a black tie gala for members to mark the occasion and joined them in celebrating the milestone. It was quite a party!

General Manager Stephen Morris joined Head Golf Pro Scott Olsen, Member Relations Director Cassandra Brown, Private Events Director Ashley Williams and Golf Course Superintendent Kyle Brown in welcoming the crowd, which included Board of Governors Chairman Julia Gallagher and her husband, Abe, and Bay Oaks Women’s Association President Susan McCoy and her husband, Mike.

John and Jeannette Koerschner, Mike and Sharon Phelps and George and Glenna Crist were among several there who have been members for 30 years, so you can imagine what fun they had thinking back over all the great events at the club through the years.

Early arrivals included Board of Governors members John Whalen, with his wife, Patty; Jim Maultsby, with his wife, Cheryl; Yvonne Perrin, Perry Laabs and his wife, Sue; and Jodi Schnabel and her husband, Kirby; plus Murry and Sandy Lantz, John and Roemehl Dewey, Glenn and Carlene Langford and Craig and Cindy Zook.

Still others joining in the celebration were Russ and Mary Colombo, Dane and Darla McKitrick, Luis and Teresa Albuerne, Ron and Bo Lohec, Joseph and Carol Base, Sue and Everett Lyons, Marty and Amy Schweers, Mitzi and Dr. Mike Romanko, Malcolm and Sue Franklin, Danele and Jack Buehler, Joseph and Sue Kazda, Ray and Shiva Landry, Annette Dwyer and Pat Monks and Gene and Eileen Hult, to name a few.
Quite a celebration for a place we’ve all enjoyed so much through the years.

 

These pretty cowgirls sit for a photo at the Bay Area Museum Guild’s Just A Pretty Table Luncheon. They are, from left, Courtney Myers (standing left), Ashton Garrison, Virginia McMullen, Mary McMullen, Tracey Webb and Stacy Bush Lyon.

Pretty tables another big success

FEW EVENTS remain as popular year after year as the Bay Area Museum Guild’s Just A Pretty Table. Credit Angie Weinman for that.
Year after year for over a decade she had lined up some of our community’s most talented ladies. Each picks a theme for their table, gets a crew of helpers, each contributing ideas and – voila! ­­– everyone is amazed. Plus, proceeds help support the charming little Bay Area Museum over in Clear Lake Park.

Some of the tables are just jaw-dropping beautiful – the kind you’d love in your home – while some are humorous but always memorable. Usually, those sitting at the table carry out the theme in their dress. If you haven’t attended, make next year a must-see.

Angie and her team of volunteers — Sandi Allbritton, Jan Larson, Ava Galt, Jannine Galt and Anita Fogtman – have already started working on the 2019 event. See you there.

Clear Lake Chatter: BOWA Fashion Show Launches New Season

October 1st, 2018

BOWA Secretary Chris Howland, from left, welcomes model Jordan Quillen and Misty Killebrew to the annual Fall Fashion Show Luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club.

BAY OAKS Women’s Association kicked off its new season with an elegant Fashion Show Luncheon at Bay Oaks Country Club that opened with a champagne reception as members and guests began arriving.

President Susan McCoy and Vice President Amy Schweers joined Hospitality Chairman Terri Steinkamp and her committee in welcoming the arriving crowd, which included Mary Colombo, Gaye Wylie, Emmeline Dodd, Cheri Burke, Ann Lyon, Judge Holly Williamson, Janet Greenwood, Marilyn Lunney, Lea Bodie, Betty Woodhouse, Janet Gortno, Misty Killebrew, Nancy Smith, Eileen Hult and Sharon Dillard.

Before they hardly had had time to say hello to one another, in walked Jackie Daley, Margaret Vail, Sharon Phelps, Carol Murphy, Angela Bivens, Norman Ogletree, Dr. Kimberly Weathers, Glenna Crist, Debbie May, Ann Dooley, Ruth Beecher, Sue Laabs, Mary Alyce Hall, Rita Armstrong, Linda Guice, Jean Dupre, Peggy Green, Amy Roppolo, Debbie Roan and Past President Jodi Schnabel.

Hospitality Chairman Terri Steinkamp, right, goes over plans for the BOWA Fall Fashion Show with model Diane Saltzer on arrival at Bay Oaks Country Club.

Soon, they were watching models Sue Broughton, Valerie Brumfield, Susan Franklin, Julie Gallager, Susan McCoy¸Lola McLain, Martha McWilliams, Darla McKitrick, Jordan Quillen, Diane Saltzer and Cindy Zook present fall fashions from Dillard’s at Baybrook Mall, with Bay Oaks General Manager Stephen Morris escorting them.

Much to the delight of Lucille Terraso, Rose Sobotik, Sandy Buyajian, Elaine Rister, Georgia Piwonka, Carol Bobo, Julia Guzman, Mary Smith, Heather Hernandez, Beverly Braden, Lisa Schulte, Linda Fincher, Gail West and Secretary Chris Howland, who then enjoyed Shrimp Escabeche and Blueberry Crumble.

Bay Oaks Country Club members will get “A Taste of Asia” Saturday, Nov. 3 when BOWA hosts its annual gala at the club.

Chairman Pam Clary says the focus will be on the Far East with Chinese dancers performing, beautiful red and gold decorations, plus gaming tables and the popular Main Street Band. Guests will be sipping on Singapore Slings, wine and champagne before enjoying Beef Teriyaki and Coconut Encrusted Shrimp. Sounds like a delightful evening is ahead.

Symphony League Bay Area Starting New Year

HOUSTON SYMPHONY League Bay Area members also got their season off to a happy start as Anita Gale hosted a Wine & Cheese Party for prospective members at her lovely home in Nassau Bay with Vice President Ann Morgan chairing the event.

Nearly 80 members and guests enjoyed tasty appetizers and desserts provided by members as all were entertained by member Alice Steele’s trio Arcadia. Another highlight of the evening came when the children of Dr. Gerard and Nicole Abreo, ages 3-15 and known as the Abreo Family Strings, played several classical pieces on their violins, with beautiful music filling the home.

All nine Abreo children have been students of Beatrice Stanley since the age of three, and she says they are a joy to teach. Afterwards, the Abreo children and the Arcadia trio performed together – much to the delight of all.

League President Nina McGlashan and her husband, Bob, were there to welcome the crowd that included Al and Natalie Ong, Dr. Patrick McKinney, Julia Guzman, Sandy Conway, Betty Geehan, Sallie Watts, Gayle Nelson, Jean Raffetto, Donna Ward, Betty Gilfillan, Karen Brumley, Angela Mendoza, Dana Puddy, Lisa Brandenberger, Jane Lackow, Jean Gray, Bill Straight, plus Pat Biddle and her husband, Ron Kahl, to name a few.

Hostess Stacy Bush Lyon, left, welcomes Jenny Frantz to her home for Clear Lake Area Panhellenic’s Fall Friendship Tea.

A new season for Panhellenic
CLEAR LAKE Area Panhellenic members were all smiles as they began another season with their annual Fall Friendship Tea at the lovely Clear Lake home of Stacy Bush Lyon.

This year’s theme was “Around the World in 80 Days,” which also will be the theme of their popular fall fashion show luncheon Friday, Nov. 2, in South Shore Harbour Resort’s Crystal Ballroom.

President D’Lisa Johnson was there to greet the arriving crowd, as was Chairman Kay Lee Benoit and the hostess, plus several members of the executive board. Hot topic of conversation was, of course, the upcoming style show luncheon, in which most all members have a part. In fact, members brought food from different countries for the tea, to get everyone in the groove — including Sally Jordan, Linda McCormack, Sheryl Williams, Ruth Beecher and Judge Holly Williamson.

Some of the others enjoying the annual gathering included Peggy Clause, Jill Reason, Laurie Vaughn, Jill Smitherman, Sue Broughton, Judie Ferguson, Jo Nell Hunter, Jo Cat Bruce, Karen Douglass and Jenny Franz.

NASA assigns first crews to fly commercial spacecraft

September 1st, 2018

Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana addresses the standing room only crowd at JSC’s Teague Auditorium as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer look on.

By Mary Alys Cherry

“We’re back,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a rousing audience in the Johnson Space Center’s Teague Auditorium.

“This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know that we’re back – that we’re flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” he said as the crowd’s roar reached heights probably not heard around JSC in years.

Sweet words to everyone’s ears, especially the nine astronauts who were introduced as America’s first commercial crew astronauts – those who will help increase commercial companies’ involvement in low Earth orbit and possibly take over operation of the space station some day in the future and allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration.

A NEW ERA
“Today,” Bridenstine continued, “our country’s dreams of greater achievements in space are within our grasp. This accomplished group of American astronauts, flying on new spacecraft developed by our commercial partners, Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight. Today’s announcement advances our great American vision and strengthens the nation’s leadership in space.”

Joining him on stage for the presentation were Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Boeing Defense, Space and Security CEO Leanne Caret and SpaceX CEO Gwynne Shotwell, who each spoke briefly of their hopes for the future before the new NASA chief introduced the astronauts – five who will fly on Boeing’s Starliner and four who will man SpaceX’s Dragon.

NASA introduced the first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station – an endeavor that will return astronaut launches to U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011. The nine astronauts introduced to crew Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are, from left, Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover.

NASA intern and University of Texas student Stephanie Zeller shares a light moment with Sen.Ted Cruz, one of a number of elected officials at the ceremony at JSC’s Teague Auditorium.

“All of us are here today because we stand for something new and profound, built upon an amazing legacy, and it is personal for all of us,” Boeing executive Leanne Caret said. “Today we start a new chapter, and we’re so thrilled to be on this journey.” Both companies bring unique approaches and ideas to the development and testing of their systems, which is why NASA selected both companies in September 2014.

“The 7,000 women and men of SpaceX understand what a sacred honor this was for us to be part of this program, and for us to fly [NASA astronauts],” said SpaceX executive Gwynne Shotwell. “So thank you very much, we take it seriously, we won’t let you down.”

SEVERAL APPEARANCES
The stage presentation was one of several appearances by Bridenstine during a three-day visit to JSC. On his first morning, the 43-year-old Michigan native got a up-close look at the Orion mockup that is being readied for its major safety test in April to verify that its launch abort system can steer the capsule and astronauts inside it to safety in the event of an issue with the Space Launch System rocket when the spacecraft is under the highest aerodynamic loads it will experience during ascent for deep-space missions.

Next, he met with a select group of local reporters, answering a variety of questions about the future of the space station, the Gateway moon orbiting project that involves returning to the moon and is seen as a stepping stone to Mars, and the delays on the James Webb Telescope.

“NASA is doing things it has not done before, using government resources never done before,” he told reporters in a sit-down roundtable session, “and we want to be sure we do not have another gap.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, looks over the work being done in Building 9S at Johnson Space Center for the launch of the Orion mockup.

Bridenstine started his visit here at a reception at Space Center Houston where he addressed aerospace executives, local business people and elected officials, discussing a change in national space policy providing for an American-led integrated program with private sector partners for a return to the moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

The new policy, he said, calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”

Bridenstine emphasized the importance of the word “sustainable” in the policy. He said, “When we talk about going to the moon, this time to stay, we want the entire architecture between Earth and the moon to be sustainable — in other words ‘reusable.’ We want tugs that are going back and forth from low Earth orbit to lunar orbit to be reusable. We want the lunar landers to be reusable so that they can go back to the surface of the moon over and over again.

“That entire architecture is going to be built on an American backbone. We will have critical infrastructure developed by NASA, by those in this room and at Johnson Space Center, that will give us a sustainable infrastructure on the moon… When we go to the moon this time, we’re going to stay.”

Bay Area school districts get an A or Exemplary rating

September 1st, 2018

By Mary Alys Cherry

The TEA report card is in, and Clear Creek ISD and its 42,000 students earned an A or Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency.
So did Friendswood ISD and Pearland ISD, meaning this is certainly a good area for families with kids.

But first, Clear Creek ISD. Actually, the school district received three grades – A or 91 for student achievement, B or 84 for school progress, and an A or 95 for closing the gap – and an overall rating of A or 92.

So, where is this district doing exceptionally well? “Districts,” the TEA says, “earn an A (90–100) for exemplary performance when they serve most students well, encouraging high academic achievement and/or appropriate academic growth for almost all students. Most students will be prepared for eventual success in college, a career, or the military.”

The grade a district receives is based 40% on its STAAR performance, 40% on college, career and military readiness and 20% on its graduation rate, the education agency said. CCISD’s four-year graduation rate is 97.1% and rises to 98.5 after five years and 98.7 after six years with a 0.5% dropout rate.

How did students do academically? Most schools scored in the 80s with some scoring in the 70s and others in the 90s.

Clear Horizons Early College High School, where students are probably most focused on school work, scored a 98. But Clear Springs High was not far behind with a 95, along with Clear Falls High with a 92, Clear Lake High with a 91, Clear Creek with a 90 and Clear Brook, 87.

Highest scoring intermediate schools were Seabrook with a 94, and Westbrook and Victory Lakes, 91. At the elementary level, Gilmore took top honors with a 94, followed at 91 by Ralph Parr and Falcon Pass with a 90.

Friendswood ISD did even better than Clear Creek, scoring three A’s – 94 on student achievement, 91 on school progress and 96 on closing gaps, for an overall 94.

And, all its six schools scored A’s and in the 90s with a 93 for Friendswood High, 96 for Cline Elementary and Windsong Intermediate, 94 for Westwood and Bales Intermediate and 93 for Friendswood Junior High.

Pearland ISD also scored high with an A, B and A for scoring 92 on achievement, 89 on progress and 99 on closing the gap. Dawson High with a 92 and Turner Career High with a 93 both scored A’s while Pearland High had a B or 88 and Pace Center High had a 93.

Highest scoring middle schools were Pearland Junior High East; Miller and Alexander with a 94 and Pearland Junior High West, 93.

High scoring elementary campuses included Rusty Oaks, 94; Shadycrest and Silvercrest, 91; and Magnolia, 90.

Ratings for a number of school districts, including Pasadena, Dickinson, Alvin and Galveston, were delayed because of Hurricane Harvey.

Clear Lake Chatter: Sabrina Curran Crowned Lunar Rendezvous Queen

September 1st, 2018

Lunar Rendezvous Queen Sabrina Curran joins King Gene Hollier, Queen Alternate Skylar Slattery and Capt.Trey Dorman for their royal photo at the 2018 Coronation Ball. Photo by J Pamela Photography

By Mary Alys Cherry

SABRINA ELIZABETH CURRAN, a pretty brunette senior at Clear Lake High School, is the new queen of the Lunar Rendezvous Festival. She was crowned by last year’s queen, Serina Weathers, during the festival finale, the Coronation Ball, at the San Luis Convention Center in Galveston.

The daughter of Georgette and Chris Curran of Clear Lake, she is president of the Latin Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, plays the viola in the school orchestra and is captain of the tennis team and a four-year letterman at Lake. Her escort was Trey Dorman.

Skylar Jane Slattery, a senior at Clear Springs High and the daughter of Angela and Patrick Slattery was named queen alternate. She is an honor roll student and captain of her All-Star Cheer Team. Her escort was Joshua Barletta.

The new captain is John Wesley Dorman III, who goes by the name, Trey. He is the son of Catherine and Wes Dorman and is also a senior at Clear Lake High, where he is on the varsity baseball team, president of the Periwinkle Club, which supports children with cancer, and is a Superintendent’s Scholar. His escort was Sabrina Curran.

After she was crowned, Festival King Gene Hollier took the new queen on a stroll around the ballroom, which was decorated in deep tones of purple, blue, gold and teal to carry out the Arabian Nights theme, as they crowd roared its approval, after which they danced the first dance before receiving congratulations from Festival Chairman Jill Reason and her husband, Dan, and Emmerline Dodd, who also joined in the dancing with His Highness while the new queen danced with her dad.

Members of this year’s Little Court are Madilyn Cook, Maggie Jane Denton, Vivienne Dunne, Elizabeth Koza, Mackenzie Risinger, Lelia Sprague, Savannah Strickland, and Allie Sukkar. Photo by J Pamela Photography

The coronation came after all the princesses, lieutenants and members of the Little Court and their escorts had been introduced by emcee, former astronaut and retired Col. Bill McArthur Jr., who has often served as emcee for the annual event. He and his wife, Cindy, wore big smiles as they saw their granddaughter, Vivienne May Dunne, introduced as a little lady in waiting.

Ball Chairman Michelle Holland and her husband, Doug, and Co-Chairman Debby Reichert, who came with Jerry Precise, were on hand to greet the arriving crowd that included a number of past festival luminaries such as Board Chairman Michael Landolt with his wife, Ann Wismer Landolt; Mike and Kathy Reeves, Mary and Dr. Terry Williams, Gloria and Tom Wong, Karen McCorkle, Joey and Kelli McCorkle Bryd, Annette Dwyer and Pat Monks, Kim Barker and Brett and Dr. Kimberly Weathers, parents of the 2018 queen.

Jill and Rick Lammers were in the crowd (Rick’s daughter Gisela da Silva Lammers was a member of this year’s Royal Court and Lunar’s first International princess — coming from Brazil) along with Dexter and Katie Jones and Jill Smitherman and her two daughters who are former Lunar Rendezvous queens – Dr. Emily Smitherman and Hannah Greshman.

Others you might have spotted were Matthew and Angie Weinman, whose granddaughter, Savannah Strickland, was a little lady in waiting, and Laura and Dr. Sam Sukkar, whose daughter, Allie, was also; Chuck and Barbara Dickey, Erin and Kevin Teichman and Terri and Todd Monette with their daughters, Tiffany, Victoria and Jessica Michelle.

Afterwards, the crowd danced to the music of Password.

Bay Area Houston Magazine President Rick Clapp and Melody Billings share a light moment at the Lunar Rendezvous Fashion Show.

Fashion Show a classy event
THIS YEAR’S 53rd annual Lunar Rendezvous Fashion Show will probably be remembered as the classiest one of all.

Lovely ladies and beautiful hats everywhere you looked – a scene to rival the Kentucky Derby, which just happened to be the theme Co-Chairmen Terri Dodd and Lisa Roberts selected for this year’s big style show.

Held at the San Luis Convention Center overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, it drew a standing room only crowd that appeared to love every minute of it as fashion guru Lenny Matuszewski, a team of beautiful models, assisted by Bay Area Houston Ballet dancers – even a little horse! — showed off the latest in fashion from Dillard’s, The Clotheshorse and Adelaide’s Boutique, Jill’s Fashions and Bridals, Tina’s on the Strand, Casanova’s, Shoppe Girl, and Tootsies preceded by the presentation of the Royal Court.

Quite a show. We can hardly wait until next year!

 

Clear Lake Chatter: Assistance League Passes Out Awards

August 1st, 2018

Assistance League officers for 2018 line up for their installation at the luncheon at South Shore Harbour Country Club. They are, from left, Assisteens Coordinator Valerie Piercy, Treasurer Sandra Kelver, President Sarah Foulds and Secretary Betty Stoub. President-elect Lisa Holbrook was unable to attend.

ASSISTANCE LEAGUE members gathered at South Shore Harbour Country Club this year for their annual meeting, which includes the installation of officers and presentation of awards to their hard-working members.

And, after many long hours of service to the Bay Area community, outgoing President Ann Marie Doolin installed new President Sarah Foulds and the other new officers who will lead the organization as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Other new officers include President-elect Lisa Holbrook, Treasurer Sandra Kelver, Secretary Betty Stoub, Vice Presidents Karen Douglas, Brooks Cima, Kim Barker and Cathy Wolfe, Marketing Chairman Sharon Klumb, Strategic Planning Chairman Marie Keener, Education Chairman Mavis Irvan and Assisteens Coordinator Valerie Piercy.

The year-end luncheon is also a time to honor some of the hardest working members. Winner of the Sue Brady Award was Kathleen Courville with Marie Keener presented the Sue Holstein Award and Yvonne Perrin, Mary Pergande and Betty Suagee winners of the ABCD Award.

Merrill Crawford was named recipient of the H.O.P.E. Award, the Paul Mitchell Academy won the Glass Slipper Award and Sandra Sellers received the Ada Edwards Laughlin Award.

New Clear Lake Panhellenic officers line up for a photo at their year-end luncheon at the Bay Area Museum. They are, from right, President D’Lisa Johnston, 1st Vice President Cheryl Williams, 2nd Vice President Kathryn Vernau, 3rd Vice President Greta Mae, Secretary Darla McKitrick, Treasurer Kim Barker, Corporation Karen Douglass and Parliamentarian Michelle Richardson. Photo by Jill Reason

C.L.Panhellenic gets new officers
D’LISA JOHNSTON is the new president of Clear Lake Area Panhellenic, which held its year-end luncheon at Bay Area Museum in Clear Lake Park.
Others elected to serve with her include First Vice President Cheryl Williams, Second Vice President Kathryn Vernau, Third Vice President Greta Mae, Secretary Darla McKitrick, Treasurer Kim Barker, Corporation Karen Douglass and Parliamentarian Michelle Richardson.

Also, Sally Jordan was honored with the Citation Award.

But the announcement of the scholarship winners got the biggest smiles from the recipients. Jacy Murdock, Karissa Murdock, Madeleine Pomes and Amie Le were the lucky winners of $8,000 college scholarships.

Bay Area Museum Guild officers get together for a photo after being installed at their May luncheon at the home of Carole Murphy. They are, from left, standing, Co-President Carole Murphy, First Vice Presidents Louise Russell and Gail Devens, Recording Secretary Lois Costin and Corresponding Secretary Sally Jordan; seated, Parliamentarian Kandy Johnson and Co-President Ava Galt. Brandie Corrao and Diana Dornak were unable to attend.

Museum Guild installs officers
BAY AREA Museum Guild members who re-elected Co-Presidents Ava Galt and Carole Murphy to serve another term gathered for their installation at the Guild’s May luncheon at Carole’s lovely Brook Forest home.

Elected to serve with her are First Vice Presidents Gail Devins and Louise Russell; Second Vice President Brandie Corrao, Recording Secretary Lois Costin, Corresponding Secretary Sally Jordan, Treasurer Diana Dornak and Parliamentarian Kandy Johnson,
Others in the luncheon crowd you might have spotted included Cindy Kuenneke, Sandi Allbritton, Barb Spencer, Nina McGlashan, Jan Larson, Donnie Johnson, Angie Weinman, Pat Biddle, Elizabeth Quigley, Terri Monnett and Peggy Clause.

 

EDUCATION is growing all around the Bay Area, Clear Lake Area Chamber members learned at their June luncheon. More students and more buildings.

Speakers were Dr. Greg Smith, superintendent of the Clear Creek School District, Dr. Laurel Williamson, deputy chancellor and president of San Jacinto College; and Dr. Mark Shermis, UHCL dean of education – each of whom have new buildings going up.

Clear Creek ISD, Dr. Smith said, is currently rebuilding League City Elementary and completing construction of a new school, Florence Campbell Elementary, also in League City, with money from the $487 million bond passed in 2017. Work on both should be completed next year. And, while building, they are working to improve school safety.

“The climate in our schools is strong and healthy. Our focus today is on teaching kids how to have kind hearts, not just smart minds. It is simply not enough to teach and assess…We must model and teach a set of core values of caring, respect, trustworthiness and citizenship.”

That’s the good news. But he also had some not-so-good news: Along with thousands of families in recovery mode, the school district is still feeling the effects of Harvey, “with more than $19 million in damages to our facilities, and we have not received reimbursements yet on those damages.With little or no funding. . .from the Legislature, we are facing a significant budget deficit for the 2018-19 school year” and are hopeful the district can negotiate a tax swap with the school board to keep operating at optimal level.

 

New SJC Buildings
Over at San Jacinto College, which was recently named a Top Five Community College nationally by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence, three new buildings are going up and some nine older buildings are being renovated with money from its recent $425 million bond package, Dr. Williamson told the chamber crowd at the Nassau Bay Hilton.

The Center for Industrial Technology, which focuses on welding, pipefitting, diesel, electrical technology, plus heating, air conditioning and refrigeration, opened on the North Campus in March 2017, she said, while the Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology on the Central Campus and the Center for Engineering and Technology on the South Campus are both expected to open next spring.

And, for many local industries that have jobs to fill and the 42,000 students San Jac serves annually, the sooner, the better.

 

New UHCL facilities
Dr. Shermis also had some good news for the crowd. The UHCL College of Education dean said the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Classroom Building was opening this fall and the university is working with Clear Creek ISD on STEM classes at both the university and the school district.

The 121,575-square-foot building, being built at a cost of $65.7 million is one of two under construction on the Clear Lake campus.

UHCL also is building a new $38.2 million Recreation and Wellness Center that will serve as the home for the Exercise and Health Sciences program and Fitness and Human Performance program, as well as a host of general instruction classrooms and recreational activities for students, faculty and staff.

A new $24 million Health Sciences and Classroom Building is also expected to open in the spring on UHCL’s Pearland campus, Dr. Shermis said.
Chamber Chairman Bryan Bogle welcomed the crowd and introduced special guests and Dr. Peter Wuenschel, chamber Education Division chairman, provided the invocation.